Israel Palestine Infos
March 17, 12
All Quiet on the Southern Front
“What have you learned in school today, my son?”
“There was no school today. There is an emergency!”
“And what have you learned from that, my son?”
ACTUALLY, QUITE a lot.
This week’s “round”, as the army likes to call it, followed a well-established pattern, as formal as a religious ritual.
A proportion of these rockets were intercepted in their flight by the three batteries of the “Iron Dome” anti-missile defense. There were some Israeli injured and some minor material damage, but no Israeli dead.
struck and there
After four days and nights, both sides had had enough, and Egyptian mediators achieved an unwritten Tahdiyeh (Arabic for “Quiet”).
Everything as usual.
EXCEPT FOR the details, of course.
It all started with the killing of one Zuhair al-Qaisi , the General Secretary of the “Popular Committees”. He has been in this position for only a few months.
The “Popular Committees” are a minor resistance/terrorist group, the third by size in the Strip. They are overshadowed by Hamas, which did not take part in this round, and “Islamic Jihad”, which took up the cause of the “committees” and launched most of the rockets.
On the other side (ours) the Iron Dome has chalked up a huge success, a source of great pride for the contractor, the army and the country at large.
The system does not intercept every rocket, which would be enormously costly. Instead, the system itself calculates whether a rocket would fall in open space (and could be ignored) or on a populated area (when the interceptor would be launched), all in seconds. Of these, more than 70% were intercepted and destroyed, a great success by any reckoning.
The sting is that one of the Palestinian rockets costs only a few hundred shekels, while one single Iron Dome missile costs 315 thousand shekels. During the four days, 17.6 million shekels’ worth of missiles was spent by the Israeli side. This apart from the very high price tag of the batteries themselves.
THE FIRST question to be asked was therefore: was the whole exercise worthwhile?
Israelis rarely ask themselves such questions. They believe that those in charge know what they are doing.
But do they?
It all hinges on the necessity to kill al-Qaisi, even for those who believe in such killings as a solution.
Al-Qaisi was in his position as leader of the “Popular Committees” only since the assassination of his predecessor in similar circumstances. A replacement will easily be found. He may be better or worse, but will hardly make much difference.
The Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, gave a strangely convoluted explanation for the assassination: “(al-Qaisi) was one of the heads of Popular Committees who were, it seems, busy preparing a large attack. I cannot yet say whether this attack was averted.” It seems. I cannot say.
So was it worthwhile to endanger the lives of so many people, send a million people to the shelters and spend tens of millions of shekels on such grounds?
My guess is that al-Qaisi was killed because an opportunity presented itself to do so - such as information on his movements.
WHO MADE the decision?
Targeted assassinations are based on information received from the Shabak (aka Shin Bet). In practice, it is this security service that makes the decision to kill people – acting as gatherer of the information, the assessor of it, and the judge at the same time. No independent analysis of the information, no review, no judicial process of any kind. Questioning the Shabak almost amounts to treason, no politician and no journalist would dare to do so, even if he were so inclined- which he or she is not.
After the Shabak has decided to kill somebody, this is brought to a tiny group of men: the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense, the army Chief of Staff and perhaps the officer commanding. Nobody with an independent outlook.
Did any of these people ask the relevant questions? I doubt it.
ANOTHER INTESTING political aspect of this “round” was the role Hamas played in it, or, rather, didn’t.
ISRAELI TV correspondents have the annoying habit of concluding their reports with a disturbingly banal sentence. For example, a report about a fatal road accident will almost invariably end with the words: “…and he (or she) only wanted to get safely home.”
This week, almost all the final reports about the mess in the south ended with the words: “Quiet has returned to the South – until the next time!”
Everybody assumes that “next time” the rockets coming out of
Until then, All Quiet on the Southern Front.