The latest deadly rocket barrage launched on Israel came just a few days before the nation was to mark Memorial Day (beginning Tuesday evening) followed by the celebratory Independence Day, which comes in just as Israelis finish mourning soldiers and victims the day before. It is a strange dance, I’ll admit—at 5pm you are still wiping away tears from all the stories you have heard over the past 24 hours, and then at 6pm, it is time to celebrate 71 years of independence.
The IDF said that nearly 700 rockets were fired into southern Israel from Gaza in a span of just 40 hours this weekend. Four innocent Israelis lost their lives and hundreds were injured. Though a ceasefire agreement was reached, Israelis are skeptical and frustrated since this type of warfare repeats itself every couple of months. Our southern residents are exhausted and are suffering significant PTSD, from having to run back and forth to bomb shelters at all hours of the night. The children live in fear.
This current round began on Friday when Palestinian snipers shot and wounded an IDF Officer and a female soldier near the border of Gaza. In response, Israel fired tank artillery at Hamas positions in Gaza. Then the Palestinians began launching rockets early Saturday morning continuously until Sunday evening, just as the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan began.
“The cease-fire, given the circumstances under which it was reached, lacks achievements for Israel,” Gidon Saar, a Likud minister, said in opposition to the ceasefire. “The time ranges between the rounds of violent attacks on Israel and its citizens are getting shorter, and the terrorist organizations in Gaza use the periods in between to get stronger. The campaign has not been prevented, but postponed.”
Of course, Israel did gain something. It was unthinkable to go into Independence Day with rockets falling, and more significantly is the fact that Tel Aviv is set to host Eurovision next week. Eurovision is a song competition and it is as big as the World Cup or Super Bowl. Israel won last year, so we get to host—and that means 10,000 Europeans spending millions of dollars here. If rockets were falling in or near Tel Aviv, the contest would have been canceled—depriving Israel from showing all of Europe the true face of the Jewish nation.
Some analysts contend that the 350 Israeli strikes on Hamas ammunition stores, the targeted assassination of the terrorist responsible for channeling funds from Iran and the destruction of several multi-story buildings in the heart of Gaza sent a strong message to Hamas who seemed to seek the ceasefire first. Maybe it was also in lieu of Ramadan where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset with no food or water at all.
Under the truce agreement, Qatar will transfer $480 million to the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip. The Qatar Foreign Ministry said $300 million will go toward health and education, with the remaining $180 million earmarked for United Nations programs and electricity services.
Israelis, especially residents of the south, are fed up with the cycle that repeats itself. Hamas has been launching rockets at Israel since Israel pulled its Jewish citizens out of Gaza in 2005. In November, hundreds of rockets were fired at Israel and several bigger wars took place in 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2014.
“In a month, in two weeks, in a month and a half, it will all happen again – we achieved nothing,” said Haim Cohen, 69, from Ashdod. “I think Israel needs to strike them very, very hard so that they learn their lesson.”
Pic: IDF Youtube Channel