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Friday, May 18, 2007

Today in Sderot and the Negev and some thoughts on a second front

I've never been clear on what people mean by the term "live-blogging." To me it means that you sit in front of your computer most of your waking hours, and if something significant happens you tell everyone about it. By that definition, I do that most of the time because I also work in front of my computer. So I guess I am now live-blogging the events in the Gaza Strip and in the areas that border it, i.e. the towns in the western Negev.

Approximately 30 Kassams (you know there are a lot when no one can count any more and all the reports conflict) hit the western Negev today. Most of them hit Sderot, although some hit Kibbutzim in the area and two hit 'south of Ashkelon.' One of the latter two rockets hit near a 'strategic facility.' For those of you who have forgotten what that means since last summer, you can find out what that term means here. Of course, there's something else that can be said about Ashkelon that may be more important in the long run. Sderot is NotInMyBackYard, and as long as the 'Palestinians' are 'only' hitting Sderot, serious retaliation by the Olmert-Peretz-Livni government is less likely. Ashkelon's population is 'our people' and if God forbid one of those strategic facilities gets hit (which would be a major strike) all hell will break loose.

Most of the Kassams did no damage. Some caused property damage. No serious people casualties today except for lots of shock victims and some 'light' injuries. You shouldn't know....

The evacuation of Sderot continued today. This time, the evacuation was not paid for by Russian billionaire businessman Arkady Gaydamak, but by the Ministry of Defense. They started the day saying that anyone who wanted to leave could leave and promising there would be enough buses for everyone. But at the end of the day, they suddenly stopped bringing buses to fill. Israel Radio's correspondent on the 11:00 news magazine said that no one knew why they stopped the evacuation and that it had gone smoothly, but Haaretz is now reporting that the reason they stopped it was because too many people wanted to go and because the Defense Ministry ran out of places to put them. For those of you who follow that last link, please keep in mind that the population of Sderot is 23,000, so approximately 90% of the town is still sitting there waiting for more Kassams to fall.

In summary on this point, the government is one step ahead of where it was last summer - when it left the northern third of the country to its own devices to escape the Katyushas (which meant that those who had relatives in the center and south or who had money to pay for hotels fled, and the poor and the new immigrants spent the summer in hot, stuffy shelters). But what will happen if this continues beyond the Shavuot holiday on Wednesday remains to be seen.

Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert and defenseless 'defense minister' Amir Comrade Peretz visited Sderot this evening. As some of you may recall, Peretz is from Sderot and the two clowns were actually in Peretz's house when a battery of Kassams hit. Peretz announced that he wants to help the residents of Sderot file property tax claims (for compensation for damage done by the Kassams) as soon as possible, and this morning, someone on the radio said that they are introducing legislation to make all of the communities that border on Gaza have the status of 'border towns.' Being a 'border town' entitles you to property tax reductions, income tax credit points and investment incentives for business. Of course, Sderot and other towns in what they're now calling the 'Gaza envelope' (Otef Azza) weren't border towns until Arik Sharon expelled all the Jews from Gaza in August 2005. But Olmert and Peretz, and Livni, who all supported the expulsion, would like you to forget that.

Financial incentives are nice but they miss the point. There are only so many nights that a young family is going to put up with its children being woken by the sound of explosives. There are only so many nights that young children can live in that type of environment. When a toddler puts her hands on her head regularly and asks if it's "code red" now, something is seriously wrong (we heard such a description on the radio tonight). Unlike the Jews of Gaza, who went there knowing what they were getting into, and steeled to withstand it, the people of Sderot - and all the more so Ashkelon - didn't think they were moving to border towns unless they moved there more than forty years ago. These people are ordinary Israelis who want and expect to live normally without "code red" alarms going off all the time. If they cannot live normally they will leave except for those who are too poor to find anyplace else to go. If the government wants Sderot not to become a shantytown, it has to address the real issues - people's day to day security. The financial matters are secondary. Is the government capable of addressing those issues? I doubt it. Unless we go to new elections soon, it seems to me that de facto - if not de jure - the country is about to shrink again.

Keep one more thing in mind. Last summer started with Kassam fire from Gaza onto Sderot over the course of June. Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by 'Palestinians' on June 25. Hezbullah 'kidnapped' Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev on July 12. If this keeps going, I would be very surprised if Hezbullah does not jump in and open a second front. Recall that I predicted there would be war in the north on May 24. That's next Thursday. Unfortunately, it looks like I am going to be awfully close with that prediction, if not right on target. Hezbullah is not stupid. They know that if they want to have another war with Comrade Peretz in the Defense Ministry it has to start before May 28 (the day of the Labor party primaries).

Postscript: Since Olmert and Peretz left, three more Kassams have hit Sderot (according to Israel Radio's 1:00 AM news). Two people were lightly hurt and several more suffered shock. One rocket hit a synagogue an hour after a new Torah scroll's arrival was celebrated.



At 7:13 PM, Blogger shamalama said...

And to make this painfully clear to those of you that were educated in America’s government schools, Israel’s defensive response was aimed as the rockets, the rocket launchers, and militant leaders. Hamas’ offensive response was aimed at innocent civilian areas. There is stark contrast in this conflict, and if you cannot see it for yourself then either you aren’t very bright or you’re just as anti-Israel as the Palestinians.

I will pray for all in Sderot.


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