Israeli airstrikes, a rerun of 2012 blitz
By: Linda Gradstein
A cartoon that appeared in the daily newspaper Haaretz captured the feelings of many in Israel. A couple is sitting on the couch watching TV while on the news program an Israeli army commander is shown asking his soldiers, “OK guys, ready for action?” The wife turns to her husband and asks, “Isn’t this a rerun?”
The situation seems similar to that of 2012 when Israel launched widespread airstrikes on targets throughout the Gaza Strip in order to halt rocket fire aimed at southern Israel. Then, like now, tens of thousands of Israeli reservists were called up. And then, like now, hundreds of rockets landed in Israel.
Hamas rockets resulted in some property damage but no casualties.
In Gaza, Israeli airstrikes took a heavy toll, leaving scores of Palestinians, some of them children, dead, and hundreds more wounded. Residents said an already difficult situation in Gaza had deteriorated dramatically over the past two days.
“The streets are empty and all night the Israeli aircraft are bombing and shelling,” Adnan Abu Hasna, the spokesman for the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), told The Media Line. “People are really panicking because it feels very dangerous here. The bombings make the windows shake and a lot of glass breaks.”
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev says Israel has one simple demand.
“The overriding goal is to protect our civilians and to end the rocket launches from Gaza at our civilians,” Regev said. Hamas’s main goal, say Palestinian analysts, is to get the Rafah crossing with Egypt reopened to get both people and goods moving in and out of Gaza.
Mkheimar Abu Sada, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, said: “They are calculating that Israel will not launch a ground operation and that as part of the cease-fire the border with Egypt will be reopened.”
“People say that when Israel is attacking us, it is no time to criticize Hamas,” Abu Sada said. “They feel that we all need to unite around the resistance.”
In Israel too, surveys show widespread support for Prime Minister Netanyahu. Israeli analysts warn the current situation could easily spiral out of control.
“There is support until people start getting tired of the fighting and until things go wrong, which happens every time,” Tamir Sheafer, a professor of political science at Hebrew University said. “People have expectations that are not feasible. They say, ‘Let’s go in and destroy Hamas,’ but then people start to realize this is impossible and that’s when opinions start to change.”
Civilians on both sides will eventually pay the price of the fighting, he says. Eventually there will be a cease-fire, which will hold for a year, or two, or three, until something sparks the next round of fighting.