Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | November 15, 2012

14 November 2012: Israel, Hamas, PA encounter the paradigm shift

Not all the news was good today, but some of it was heartening.  In response to days of rocket attacks by Hamas on Israel, and targeted attacks – with anti-tank missiles – on Israeli infantry patrols near the fence between Israel and, the IDF launched an operation on Wednesday 14 November to eliminate terrorists in Gaza and destroy weapons caches.  One of Operation Pillar of Defense’s first achievements was taking out multifarious Hamas terrorist Ahmed Jabari.

Allahpundit at Hot Air has the video of the pinpoint strike on Jabari – who, it is to be remembered, is responsible for attacks over the last two decades in which dozens of Israelis were killed.  Jabari organized Hamas for the Second Intifada and for the Hamas coup in Gaza in 2007, as well as overseeing the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.  Jabari and at least three other Hamas terrorists have been killed in Pillar of Defense, which is also targeting rocket launch sites in Gaza and weapons storage facilities.

According to the IDF blog, as of the time of this writing, Iron Dome has been used to intercept 25 rockets since the operation in Gaza began.  This indicates that the rocket barrage has been extensive.  Iron Dome isn’t used to intercept rockets that will fall harmlessly in unpopulated areas, nor can it intercept shorter-range rockets with a low-altitude trajectory.   Its intercepts typically represent a small percentage of the total rockets launched. 

IDF image: Hamas rocket launch site in Zeitoun, Gaza

Moreover, it was reportedly confirmed that four rockets were launched into southern Israel from the Sinai Peninsula (Egyptian territory).  These rockets were probably launched by Hamas operatives, but may have been launched by other jihadis in the Sinai.

It’s too early to predict how extensive this will become, but it can be said that in the first day of Pillar of Defense, Hamas (and possibly another terrorist group) has kept firing.

Mohammed Morsi recalled his ambassador to Israel over the new military operation, and summoned Israel’s ambassador in Egypt for a dressing down.  I don’t think Morsi is prepared right now to exploit an unstable situation in Gaza and the Sinai – and in any case, he’s not interested in bolstering Hamas’s political fortunes, because he’s got his own vision for Jerusalem and the land of Israel.

A little-noted event this week tended to confirm that.  Foreign ministers from the Arab League and the European Union, meeting in Cairo this week, failed on Tuesday to offer endorsement for the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral statehood bid in the UN, which Mahmoud Abbas plans to take up on 29 November.  The foreign ministers agreed that a two-state solution needs to be negotiated, but fell short of endorsing the unilateral statehood bid.

For the Arab ministers, the reluctance to endorse a bid their nations were keen on only a year ago is due to the paradigm shift in the wake of the Arab Spring, something I wrote about in August.  The “Palestinian narrative” is being sidelined, because of the new prospect of Islamized nations – e.g., Egypt – prosecuting a radical-Islamist vision involving Jerusalem. 

The European ministers are a separate issue.  Some of them may have been eager to endorse the unilateral statehood bid, but the truth is that the paradigm shift has reduced its importance.  Europeans are worried about Syria, and a posture on Syria is what they agreed on in Cairo.  As long as Israel can defend herself and remain the enduring fact of her region, the most proximate concern for Europe is who gets hold of Syria.  EU bureaucrats may see Syria through a silly ideological lens, but most of the foreign ministries are undeceived about the quality of much of the Syrian opposition.  The point of working with it is pragmatic: to gain leverage by supporting it, and possibly be a moderating influence. Several of the Arab nations – Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq – want the same thing the Europeans do.

There is a post-American air to the whole series of events in the last two days.  There is no noticeable expectation that American influence will be an active factor in the unfolding of this crisis.  The US State Department posted an interesting statement on the events in Gaza, condemning Hamas but referencing no US policy stance.  It is gratifying, of course, to see State endorsing Israel’s right to self defense.  It’s not clear that the final two sentences, which form a lecture to Hamas, were worth saying.

But that seems to be the foreign-policy mode of the Obama administration.  Where will all this go?  My money is on an uneasy ceasefire in which Hamas continues to act up, but everyone sees that the longstanding Hamas-Israel dynamic is old and busted, geopolitical-transformation-wise.  New and hot is the nation-state dynamic for reordering the Middle East – and it’s not ready to tee up quite yet.

I’ve outlined the major actors in this dynamic before:  Egypt, Turkey, Iran, and shifting permutations of terrorist groups, with closer or looser ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, operating with or against them.  None of these actors is prepared today to achieve a strategic stroke out of the messes created by Hamas.  But they’re working on it.

No summary of today’s events would be complete without mentioning the backstory on the IDF’s operation name.  It’s being translated “Pillar of Defense” in English, but unofficial translations have run the gamut from “Pillar of Cloud” to “Cloud Pillar” and even an apparently literal “Block Cloud.”  These expressions are, of course, a reference to the pillar of cloud which protected the Israeli people against the pursuing army of Egypt during the Exodus.  (Exodus 14, including verses 19-20 and 24, describes the pillar of cloud.)

Christians quickly get this much.  But for Jews, there’s more to it, as explained by Elder of Ziyon and Yair Rosenberg at Tablet.  A widely-taught midrash on Exodus 14 – an exegetical interpretation, recorded by Rashi, an 11th century rabbi – portrays the pillar of cloud as protecting the Jewish people from “arrows and stones” catapulted at them by the army of ancient Egypt.

The pillar of cloud in Exodus had multiple functions; the one invoked in the operation name is its function of protecting the Jews against missiles being launched at them.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air’s Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, and The Weekly Standard online.

Note for new commenters:  Welcome!  There is a one-time “approval” process that keeps down the spam.  There may be a delay in the posting if your first comment, but once you’re “approved,” you can join the fray at will.

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Responses

  1. Greatly appreciate learning more about Exodus:14.

    Perhaps the Arab monarchies are hedging.

  2. IDF 1 hit, no errors. Hamas 0. Looks like the lead off hitters for the IDF continue to stymie the pitching rotation for Hamas. No relief in sight. As one of the Hamas cheerleaders commented in shock “was that a great shot or what?”.
    In an unrelated sports venue: Looks as if General Allen is being smeared for no reason and the FBI agent Jill Kelley approached for help is a straight shooter. He is being smeared because he looked into the e-mails and would not back off. His shirtless pics were sent two years ago as a joke whith other pics exchanged between the families. Kelley ask him to stop when she realized where this was headed. WSJ
    I guess a book on the CENTCOM Social Scene can’t be far behind. “Tall Twin Sisters: A Sizzling Top Down Review”

    Seems to be a lot of smoke over, in, and around benghazi. Finally, how many times has the White House spokesman said “un-aware?”

  3. “Looks as if General Allen is being smeared for no reason”

    It’s possible that Allen was simply caught up in the whole mess but generally, shake ups do not happen at this level without a reason. Two possibilities that come to mind are that Allen is being used, as by broadening the mess, it acts to discredit suspicions that the Petreaus affair is too convenient and that the actual purpose of demanding his resignation was to discredit his testimony about Benghazi.

    The other possibility is that we are seeing Obama dumb down the top military with people more amenable to Obama. Petreaus’ replacement appears to be a drone, a bureaucrat who, goes along to get along. ‘Political’ appointees at top positions in the military are common, just look to the joint chiefs of staff for confirmation. Obama wants a gelded and cowed military.

    Of course the two explanations offered are not exclusionary, both may apply, a ‘twofer’.

    • No doubt about Allen. Wrong place at the wrong time. Just part of the smoke screen to cover the street organizers incompetence. Gun running for Islamists terrorists because they certainly are a better bunch than Assad? How can grown ups be that stupid.
      Just being close to the Chicago bunch can be lethal to one’s career.
      There is not one shred of doubt (for me) that ideology and close Chicago cronies are the foremost concern of Obama. He could care less about this country.
      I have noted comments about his disdain for the press and middle class voters. I share his contempt for the same.
      He empowers our enemies to weaken our country, to level the playing field so to speak. We are all equal buddies now.

  4. This is a tactical and reactive event, it’s value lies in responding and demonstrating a willingness by Israel to defend itself and in reducing Hamas’ stockpile of weapons and personnel. Jabari’s death has limited value, we may be sure that Hamas has his replacement available. Were Israel to quickly kill the next two replacements, a significant degradation of Hamas operational command in that position would occur.

    But of course that won’t happen because Israel’s strategy is reactive. She’s merely trying to survive, which means her enemies will live to fight another day. In war, letting a defeated opponent regain their strength is a fatal mistake.

    Hamas will rearm. Morsi (Mursi?) will continue to secure his hold on power and continue to ‘reform’ the military into an Egyptian version of Iran’s military. Iran will get the bomb. Nuclear proliferation will explode across the M.E. The rise of Islamified nation states has begun and Israel will be abandoned by Obama.

    The stage is being set for nuclear war within the M.E.

    The most likely future scenario is Iran giving a nuke to Hezbollah for detonation in Tel Aviv, (luxury yacht @ Jaffa) with the Egyptian military immediately attacking across the Sinai and Hamas launching attacks from Gaza in a coordinated attack upon Israel, designed to create a mortal wound from which Israel cannot recover.

    A radical Syrian government simultaneously attacking would just be ‘icing on the cake’.

    Make no mistake, Shia and Sunni will cooperate to take out Israel.

    • If things were to come that horrible end, I think the Mossad and IDF would reach out and touch the Iranians with the Atomic Genie before they could act.
      I would say it would be a lesson the Islamist fundamentalists would pay attention to, but they are really stupid.
      Self loathing is a motivator I really don’t understand. I suppose one must have a deep understanding of said motivator before one can “get into” the whole death and destruction thing. Oh yes, being terrified of women helps tone that up a bit.
      To repeat a phrase from last year. The Arab Muslims are the true Hillbillies of the World.
      Female genital mutilation or honor killings anyone?

      • Nuking the Iranians in a first strike is a political non-starter. Netanyahu knows that unilaterally nuking Iran would immediately end American aid and support because it would provide Obama with the excuse needed to do so. As retaliation it would be accepted but that would not prevent the demise of Israel if Tel Aviv were nuked. Nor would nuclear retaliation dismay Islamist fundamentalists. It’s not a case of stupidity, as much as it is ideology.

        They’re ‘religious’ fanatics in a death cult. They don’t fear death, they welcome it. These are people who send young children to clear mine fields.

        Click on this link and look into the eyes of fanaticism and evil. This is a man who can kill children and not lose a moments sleep. Whose reaction will be glee if it be the children of ‘infidels’.

  5. I am getting nervous that JE may let these small matters interfere with football. After all, OU travels to West Virginia this Saturday. Gee, they beat Texas didn’t they. Their only win in the Big 12. It doesn’t get any better than that.
    The cotton bowl wants Texas and LSU. Wouldn’t that be sweet.

  6. Remember when Petraeus passed out at his confirmation hearing? He was then alredy set up by the Admn. and knew what was coming at him

  7. The video of the surgically precise strike on Jabari has got to be the feel-good video of the year. And before any Palestinian apologists take me to task let’s remind ourselves of a few facts: The Palestinians have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, aimed mostly at schools, hospitals, and apartment buildings. Israel did not target noncombatants. Israel did not take Jabari out with a crude bombing or strafing run that would kill or injure bystanders. They took him out cleanly, with virtually no collateral damage.

    Good shootin’.

  8. [...] Arabia has a lot to think about.  The Middle East already sees that the Palestinian statehood bid is an outdated gambit.  The players are out of position: Fatah, with its US and European money and long ties to Saudi [...]

  9. [...] Arabia has a lot to think about.  The Middle East already sees that the Palestinian statehood bid is an outdated gambit.  The players are out of position: Fatah, with its US and European money and long ties to Saudi [...]


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