Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Hamas attacks Israel, gets shock

(Last updated: May 31, 2018)

On Tuesday, May 29, 2018, Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired 80 rockets and mortar shells into Israel from Gaza (arutz sheva).  These rockets and mortar shells were aimed almost exclusively at Jewish civilians in Israel. These rockets didn't land all across Israel. They were concentrated on Jews living in Southern Israel.

In less than one 24-hour period beginning early morning May 29, 2018, the IDF recorded more than 165 air raid siren alerts, mostly in southern Israel (timesofisrael). During that 22 hour period, at least 110 shells fell on Israel (ibid). Most of the other sirens went off because of heavy machine gun fire coming into Israel from Gaza. 

By noon, May 30, 2018, it seemed probable that, once the final tally of shells fired was completed, perhaps as many as 200 projectiles had been fired into Israel from Gaza (timesofisrael). That was a significant, telling number.

This probable 200 rocket total for May 29-30, 2018 is consistent with the highest Hamas rocket days from the 2014 Gaza-Israel war. According to at least one source (jewishvirtuallibrary), Israel hasn't seen this many incoming rockets and mortars on a single two-day period since then.

During that 2014 war, Hamas fired more than 100 rockets and mortars into Israel on 10 of the war's 50 days. This includes more than 412 rockets and mortars fired into Israel on the war's first days, July 8-9-10, 2014 (ibid).

Since that war, the two highest daily rocket totals have been no where near a hundred-rocket day. The single highest daily totals since 2014 were 12 rockets (on November 30, 2017, from Hamas) and 10 (fired into Israel by Syria on June 24, 2017) (ibid). When other rockets have fallen into Israel during the last 45 months, it was usually just one or two per day, for no more than 4-6 days a month (ibid).

A hundred rockets/mortars a day is a war-time number for Hamas. The attack of May 29-30, 2018 was, in other words, a real-life reminder of what war with Hamas feels like. This has been especially true for Jews living close to the Gaza border.

They've taken the brunt of those rocket attacks.  

As of noon, May 30, 2018, the IDF reported it had not simply absorbed these attacks. It had retaliated. It had sent 65 separate airstrikes (jerusalempost) against Hamas  positions in Gaza. It appears from news reports that these 65 airstrikes took place in the exact same 22-28 hour period when Hamas was firing its rockets/mortars into Israel.

It was, to use a famous expression, deja vu all over again: a real war between Gaza and Israel.

Then it was over, as quickly as it had begun: an hour after daylight, May 30, 2014, Egypt appeared to have brokered an uneasy ceasefire (timesofisrael). By 9 pm Israel time that night, that cease-fire seemed to be holding.

This attacks/retaliation cycle, if stopped for now, was both short and intense. Both sides acted aggressively. Both sent a message to the other.

The Hamas  message was pretty simple: it still had the desire to shoot rockets at Jewish civilians. Israel, meanwhile, sent three messages. 

The first message was that it would strike back even harder than it had in 2014, if Hamas started again to fire rockets at Israel. The second message was that any retaliation would be extremely quick--and, it would be precisely targeted. There'd be no twelve hour delay while Israel figured out what to do. Their retaliation would come quickly, even at times, almost instantaneously.The third message was, Israel knows a lot more about the Hamas war infrastructure than Hamas imagined. It knows exactly what to attack.

In addition to these three messages, Hamas also got a shock. It learned that the propaganda value of the six-week Hamas-sponsored fence riot at the Gaza-Israel border, which had just ended May 15, 2018, had almost no shelf life. 

Hamas had used those fence riots to elicit an international round of sharp rebukes and condemnations against Israel. They got what they wanted: as pictures of the rioting spread around the globe, the world condemned Israel.  

It was all part of the 'Hamas tradition': start a fight with Israel, get clobbered, then wait for the world to blame Israel.

This time, however, it didn't work. Hamas gained no positive propaganda advantage here, from this rocket attack against Israel. The anti-Israel condemnations Hamas had harvested at the fence rioting didn't get repeated here.

What happened was unexpected. Just hours after Hamas began firing its rockets at Israel, the most powerful and influential nations in the West didn't rush to Hamas' aid. Those nations didn't blame Israel, as they had so often in the past. 

They didn't condemn Israel this time. They didn't threaten Israel with censure. This time, they condemned Hamas.

In what might well be a first, 10 nations and institutions came to Israel's aid. They expressed outrage at Hamas, not Israel.

It was a startling turn-around. In the context of past attacks against Israel, Hamas had every reason to believe it could provoke another round of Israel-bashing from its (Hamas') rocket-fire. But that didn't happen.

Worse, these condemnations against Hamas didn't come from a group of small or insignificant players on the international stage. They came from some of the biggest players (and from some of the Palestinians' best friends)--the EU, UN, UK, France, Ireland, Germany, US and Italy, each of which supported Israel, not Hamas (timesofisrael, timesofisrael). Austria and Canada joined them (haaretz).

There is no way Hamas could have expected that. The outrage against them must have been a shock.

Is that why Hamas called for a cease-fire--because its gambit to get Israel demonized (something it had done so well in the past) had suddenly here backfired so badly? 

Stay tuned. The Hamas anti-Israel propaganda war isn't over.

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