Earlier today a Grad missile — a relatively large, accurate weapon — hit the center of the city of Be’er Sheva, injuring one person. Residents were told to go to bomb shelters in anticipation of more attacks. Yesterday, another one struck Ashdod. Saturday, a total of 49 mortar shells hit southern Israel. And just moments ago today, a bomb placed next to a busy bus stop in Jerusalem exploded, killing at least one person and wounding 50 others.
There have also been other instances of Qassam rockets and mortars falling in Israel in the last few days that I haven’t bothered to list, at least 16 today (according to IDF Spokesperson). Each one of these constitutes an act of attempted murder.
This comes after the vicious murder of five members of the Fogel family two weeks ago.
The usual suspects will say that there’s a ‘cycle of violence’, since Israel has been bombing Gaza on and off to destroy tunnels under the border fence, tunnels that Hamas is digging in order to infiltrate Israel to kidnap soldiers or perpetrate terror attacks. And yesterday, IDF fire directed at a rocket launching team also killed several civilians that were in the area (one could ask why rockets were launched near civilians, but you know the answer to that).
Except in the upside-down world of Arab terrorism in which Israel’s very existence is a provocation, there’s no ‘cycle of violence’. So what’s behind the recent escalation?
There are various theories, such as that with the rest of the Arab world aflame the Palestinian Arabs are trying to focus attention once again on their ‘plight’. Or that it has something to do with the ongoing struggle between Hamas and Fatah.
I think the object is to provoke Israel into a reaction, so that the Palestinians can ask for a UN response, either politically — to further their bid for unilateral declaration of statehood — or even militarily, following the model of Libya, where the UN called for action to ‘protect’ Libyan civilians.
[Incidentally, the way the US jumped to do the UN's bidding without even a Congressional resolution was shocking. Keep in mind that we don't even know who we are supporting there, what we will do if Qaddafi is removed, etc.]
The Arab strategy now seems to be to get the world to give them the land that they are not willing to negotiate with Israel for. In this sense, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are actually cooperating, where Hamas is playing the ‘bad cop’ and the PA the good one. Once they succeed in prying loose Judea, Samaria and as much of Jerusalem as possible, then they’ll continue the struggle between them. My guess is that if the IDF leaves the territories, it won’t take long for the well-motivated Hamas to push aside the US-funded and trained, but uninspired, PA forces.
Even if Hamas were to vanish into thin air, a UN-approved unilateral declaration of statehood would be a bad thing. In its long history of terrorism, Fatah has murdered more Israelis than Hamas. Since it was adopted in 1974, the PLO’s ‘phased plan‘ for the elimination of the Jewish state has been reaffirmed many times. Yasser Arafat referred to it until at least 1998. The plan is usually summarized as follows:
- Through the “armed struggle”, to establish an “independent combatant national authority” over any territory that is “liberated” from Israeli rule. (Article 2)
- To continue the struggle against Israel, using the territory of the national authority as a base of operations. (Article 4)
- To provoke an all-out war in which Israel’s Arab neighbors destroy it entirely (“liberate all Palestinian territory”). (Article 8)
The plan has never been dropped, and in the platform produced by the sixth Fatah conference in 2009, the importance of “armed struggle” was stressed, and it was decided that Fatah would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state nor give up the “right of return.”
We can argue as to whether phases 1 and 2 have already been completed, but it’s clear that any expansion of Arab-controlled territory adjacent to Israel will be a strategic advantage for the Arabs — especially if this can be accomplished without agreeing to any of Israel’s security requirements. This is exactly what they will get with a UN-approved unilateral declaration of statehood.