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Posts

Bibi hurls Solid Rock to save his own skin

Two successive articles from Tikun Olam on the development of Operation Solid Rock.


IDF Merkava IV tanks on the Israeli side of the Gaza Strip border, July 3, 2014. Israeli army has sent troops to the border with the Gaza Strip, raising the possibility of an expanded operation in the Palestinian territory in response to intensifying rocket fire. Thursday’s movement of tanks and artillery forces came after 11 Palestinians were wounded in Israeli air raids on Gaza, as Palestinians prepared for the funeral of a teenager who was killed in occupied East Jerusalem. Photo and caption from Army Recognition

Operation Solid Rock, Gaza Invasion, Begins

By Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam
July 07, 2014

Bibi Netanyahu, desperate to distract the public from the serial ineptitude of his police force in preventing two appalling kidnap-murders, one of Israeli youths and another of a Palestinian, has begun Operation Solid Rock (Tzuk Eytan–could also be translated as “Mighty Cliff”). The IDF is mangling the translation of the phrase by calling it “Operation Protective Edge.” That isn’t even close to the Hebrew. But who ever accused the IDF of being precise and accurate?

IDF PR flacks had a problem: they couldn’t call it “Solid Rock” in English since that conveys strength and aggression. By calling it “Protective Edge” they successful conceal the aggression in a phrase that has defensive connotations, making it perfect for foreign consumption. Hasbara at work!

It has flown 90 sorties in the past 24 hours. At least nine Gazans are dead in the past two days.

Now, finally IDF soldiers, who’ve been posting to Facebook pictures of their bodies engraved with messages calling for revenge (for the murder of the three Israeli youths near Hebron) will get their wish. They can slaughter (almost) all the Gazans they wish.

I’m tempted to call it Operation Falling Off a Cliff, for that is what these military adventures always turn into. A military source has told my Israeli partner that “a ground invasion is inevitable,” but “it will be limited.”

Typically uncouth Israeli officials like to use such snappy phrases as “cutting the grass” or “the landlord’s gone mad” to describe these regular love letters from the IDF to Hamas. These recall the hard-hearted Pharaoh of the Book of Exodus. Remember that his hard-heart led to the liberation of the Israelites and the founding of their nation in their own land.

This assault will be compared to Operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Cloud, the first a massive invasion and the second a more limited operation. I can’t believe either Bibi or the Israeli public has the stomach for another Cast Lead. So this will likely be closer to Pillar of Cloud. During that incursion “only” 150 Gazans were killed and no Israelis. The casualty count will be similar this time.

All of these deaths are needless of course. They’re testimony not just to Israel’s obduracy and rejectionism, but to the indifference of the international community which needs to come to its senses and intervene to stop the slow-mo decimation of peace, justice, and Palestinian sovereignty.

Israel is a garrison nation in a constant state of war with its neighbors. Nothing and no one within Israel is capable of transforming the country into a peaceful country. That’s why the rest of the world better do it before Israel lights the match and the entire region bursts into flame.

In a related matter, Avigdor Lieberman withdrew his party from its alliance with Netanyahu’s Likud. The two parties will continue in the same ruling coalition, but Lieberman will now be free to voice his criticisms in a fiercer manner. Not to mention he can position himself for a run for PM in the next elections unencumbered by a too-close relationship with Bibi. Ynet speculates that the reason for the break up is Netanyahu’s less than fierce response to the Hebron kidnapping. Lieberman wanted fireworks in Gaza. All Bibi’s offered is a single sparkler that fizzled out quickly. Undoubtedly, Operation Tzuk Eytan is a response to Lieberman’s criticism. Much of what Bibi does including killing Gazans is dictated by trying to outmaneuver his political competitors and seeking political advantage.

Indeed, it appears Bibi has outmaneuvered his hawkish ministers once again. During the past week, he’d been mercilessly attacked by Lieberman and Naftali Bennet for his wimpish response. Now he gets to go on the offensive. The PMO, in a statement aired on Israel Radio, assailed them for “behavior that was irresponsible, brat-like and wanton” in attacking security forces in their hour of need as they go forth to battle against Israel’s foes in Gaza. Further, Bibi’s media messengers claim that such divisiveness only plays into the hands of the enemy, which hopes that the nation is divided and unable to deal decisively with Gaza.

There are one hundreds ways to refute this nonsense, but no need. What’s important is to see how tactically brilliant, but strategically vacuous Netanyahu is.


Gaza Invasion: Day 2, 27 Palestinian Dead

By Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam
July 08, 2014

This is the second day of Operation Protective Edge (“Solid Rock”). So far, 27 Palestinians have been killed, eight of them children, by massive Israeli air strikes. Two Israelis have been injured lightly. This is the first stage of what will eventually move to a ground invasion. That’s why 40,000 Israeli reservists have been called up. Don’t believe media reports in which Netanyahu and Yaalon say Israel “may be forced” to invade. They are going to invade according to my Israeli source. Though the source assures that the invasion will have “limited objectives.” I suppose we’re supposed to be comforted by the fact that “limited objectives” means “only” 150 will die this time as opposed to 1,400 during Cast Lead.

Israel has the quaint idea that phoning the inmates besieged there telling them to abandon their homes because an attack is imminent is sufficient to avoid a war crimes charge. This is nonsense. Your duty is not just to warn civilians to abandon their homes, but to avoid murdering them at all. So if you warn them and they don’t do what you’ve ordered them to do, that doesn’t entitle you to dump their home on their heads as Israel did in killing 7 members of one family yesterday. Instead of fleeing, the neighbors of this family acted as “shields” hoping to protect them, and offering to die with them if they couldn’t. The Israeli air force gave them one of their wishes when it destroyed the home with many people inside. A war crime on a par with the one that murdered Salah Shehadeh and 15 other innocent civilians who just happened to live in his apartment building when it was levelled by a 2,000 pound bomb.

Rockets launched from Gaza were intercepted over Tel Aviv and Jerusalemites heard air raid sirens and a rocket was intercepted over Ein Kerem. One landed in the West Bank settlement of Givat Zeev, very near Jerusalem. I don’t believe that’s ever happened before. Certainly an escalation Israelis had feared. Nurit Peled Elchanan wrote on Facebook:

Seems like they are bombarding the whole country. Sirens in Jerusalem and lots of Booming, airplanes above my house. Thought Jerusalem was safe…

In one bold stroke Bibi Netanyahu has changed the media narrative from kidnapping and murder, along with riots and beaten children; to Israel’s march into Gaza. Nothing rallies a nation like a good war. Watch to see how Israeli liberal Zionists respond. You will see Meretz and Labor support the war, perhaps with a few caveats, but support nonetheless. Then about a week or so into it, when it’s clear that the Palestinian bodies are piling up like cordwood and no one in Israel’s military or security apparatus can explain what the objectives are nor see that they’ve been achieved. Then you’ll hear murmurings of criticism from the so-called Israeli political left.

I’m not of course talking about the real Israeli left, those who have abandoned hope that Israeli politics has the answer to any major social question affecting the nation: the NGOs, the solidarity groups. All of these are the salt of the earth and the only thing worth saving in the current Likudist mess that is Israel.

Whenever Israel decides to “mow the grass” it sends its cyber-warriors once more into the social media breach, where they rally to the defense of poor Israel, only trying to protect its own from the terror of Hamas rockets. If only those vicious Palestinians would stop firing missiles there could be peace. It’s them, all their fault.

Which begs the question: if Israel invaded the West Bank after three teenagers were murdered, arresting 500, killing 7, and ransacking hundreds of homes just for the hell of it–after a Palestinian boy was murdered in equally, if not more brutal fashion, are the Palestinians not entitled to vent their rage? Or is it only Israel that has that right? If that’s so–and Israelis clearly believe it is, then they’ve turned the Middle East into a Hobbesian nightmare (a “war of all against all”). Eventually, no one on either side will e left standing.

The name “Operation Protective Edge” has no relation to the original Hebrew name, Solid Rock (Tzuk Eytan). The army’s hasbara department realized that “Solid Rock” just would not due for the foreign audience. It connoted military strength, assertiveness and aggression. Those are all qualities that appeal to Israelis, but don’t look so good to an international audience already predisposed to think the worst regarding Israeli militarism. So it devised the more defensive-minded phrase “Protective Edge.” “Protection” means defending; and it’s always good when Israel has an “edge” over its enemies. Who can find fault with that, right? Right.

This Haaretz column by Sefi Rachlevsky pretty much suits my view of today’s Israel: dark, cynical, bordering on hopelessness It mirrors my own analysis that the right-wing ultra-nationalist lunatics have taken over the asylum that is Israel. Here is the concluding paragraph:

Any talk of peace is meaningless and unimportant if a complete upheaval doesn’t take place in Israel – one that will get rid of the spirit of Netanyahu and his elite theological unit, the religion of Rabbi [Dov] Lior [one of the most exreme settler rabbis]. In the balance rests the dream of generations for an enlightened state, a dream that’s a moment away from being extinguished from within.

It’s a very incisive piece that’s well-informed and worth reading.

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