That is how
Israeli Prime Minister Olmert
referred to the current round of attacks out of
Gaza. The “grave escalation”
includes longer-range Iranian-made missiles that have thrown
the Knesset into crisis and
the ocean front city of Ashkelon
into a state of panic.
New exchanges between Israel and Gaza actually made the national network radio news here in the U.S. last weekend with reports of rocket fire into Israel and an Israeli incursion into Gaza with infantry, tanks and air operations.
Rockets have been routinely fired out of Gaza into southern Israel in the general direction of the town of Sderot (at the rate of dozens per week) and there has been little if any notice by our large domestic media outlets. But the events of the last few days have brought worldwide attention to the situation and generated alarm in Israel.
This time Hamas hit Ashkelon, one of southern Israel’s largest cities, site of water and electricity plants with a population of some 120,000 right on the Mediterranean coast. Residents are in a state of shock, knowing now that they are within easy range of Iranian missiles (thought to have been smuggled into Gaza only recently) with a much greater degree of accuracy than the notoriously unpredictable Qassam rockets
Israel had a ground incursion into Gaza underway, apparently intent on getting to the source of the missile barrage. However the operation was called off abruptly, and Israeli troops retreated back out of Gaza. A Debkafile report attributes the premature exit to pressure from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, suggesting she threatened that Olmert would be blamed for the collapse of President Bush’s entire Middle East foreign policy if Israel didn’t back its troops out of Gaza.
So the rockets are still flying out of Gaza, reportedly now at an increased pace. Hamas has seized on the Israeli pullout, calling it a great victory and staging riotous celebrations in the streets. Police in Jerusalem are said to be on high alert in the wake of demonstrations and attacks on Jews. A gang reportedly even tried to lynch two municipal inspectors on Saladin street, downtown east Jerusalem. It’s the street right outside Herod’s gate into the old city with the Post Office and all kinds of storefronts and foot traffic. Several other incidents of Palestinian attacks against convenient targets have been recorded in the West Bank.
Publicly, Israeli officials repeat that they will not tolerate an ongoing barrage of rockets and missiles fired at their cities and towns. And yet they seem powerless to take the steps necessary to put an end to it.
The “peace process” is the apparent culprit. The same “peace process” charade that has been underway for forty-odd years without success. The Jerusalem Post today quoted President Bush as saying not to worry, there’s plenty of time to reach a peace agreement before he leaves office.
These peace agreements have been reached many, many times in the past and have not improved the situation. Treaties, handshakes, magazine covers, Nobel prizes, billions in U.S. aid down the tubes and now a whole new generation of terror mongers are in high gear. History shows that peace will only come in the wake of defeat. It appears that the U.S. has Israel’s hands tied, and that means that the state of war with the Palestinians will persist.
Negotiated peace with Iran will result in the same conundrum, but with Israel and ultimately our own homeland at risk.