Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pillar of Defense Day 8: Did They Or Didn’t They?

Over 20 Israelis were injured, some seriously, when the Tel Aviv bus #66 exploded near
the corner of Weizman and Namir streets, across the street from the Tel Aviv court, Beit Asia and down the street from  Ichilov hospital.

Reportedly, a heavy-set man is suspected of planting a 3 kg bomb on the nearly empty bus. As of now Israel has closed off roads leading to the West Bank in attempts to find the man.

Israel Television Channel 2’s police reporter Moshe Nussbaum reported that Hamas has strongly denied any connection to the bombing. Some analysts see this as a dual game by Hamas, others think that the Arab street from the west bank is growing restless and may start another intifada since PA president Abu Mazan has become irrelevant in the current situation.

The respected Haaretz newspaper’s Arab affairs reporter, Danny Rubenstein, said that the terrorist more than likely came from the West Bank since Gaza is hermetically sealed. Rubenstein also said that the PA leader Abu Mazen has lost his credibility in the West Bank. He also said that pro-Gaza demonstrations have begun in the West Bank. Palestinians have also started to throw stones at Israeli cars and army vehicles traveling in the West Bank. His conclusions was that no leader of Hamas has managed to execute an attack on the heart of Israel even one as small as this bus bomb.

The attack comes as U.S. Sec. of State shuttles between Israel and Egypt trying to broker a cease-fire. Meanwhile Hamas continues to fire rockets at Israel. Over fifty have been fired today, some causing serious damage. Yesterday two men were killed by rocket attacks, one an IDF soldier from a religious soldiers’ group.

Ehud Yaari, Israel Television’s Channel 2 Arab affairs reporter said as part of the continuing coverage of the conflict that the bus bombing was condemned by influential Arab journalists from Saudi Arabi, Qatar, and Egypt. He said that these highly respected journalists claimed that Hamas was dragging the Middle East into a conflict that was in no one’s interest except Iran. Yaari said that Gazans have suffered greatly in this current conflict and that Egypt doesn’t want more damage to the civilians living in the Gaza Strip. In Yaari’s view Hamas is losing credibility in the Arab world. However Hamas still has support in the streets of Gaza and the West Bank.

Yaari said that Egypt had long ago lost patience with Hamas. Egypt warned Hamas not to escalate the conflict with Israel, but Hamas ignored Egypt’s orders. Hamas not only fired Fajr rockets from the Sinai into Israel, but then shot RPG rockets at IDF positions, and increased the number of rockets fired into Israel.

Yaari said that Egypt wanted an immediate halt to the hostilities, and then discuss a cease-fire. Hamas’ spokesmen have reportedly said they’ve agreed to a cease-fire. Other pundits wondered what was stopping the pause in fighting from going into effect.

Israel TV’s Channel 2 Military reporter Ronny Daniel thought Israel should invade, and occupy Gaza for as long as it took to clean out the rockets and depose Hamas. Small groups of Israeli demonstrators have appeared around Israel espousing the same views. Israel’s tens of thousands of soldiers are still poised on the border waiting the command to attack.

Did Hamas send the bomber to Tel Aviv or didn’t they? Does it matter? The problem now rests in the hands of Israel’s government. Agree to a pause in the fighting or give the army the green light.

Most experts expect a cease-fire within a day or two.