Israel and Gaza Reach Cease Fire

  • Israel has continued to maintain a defensive strategy against Hamas during these clashes to avoid killing civilians. 
  • On Wednesday before the war there were hundreds of balloons with explosives which were sent into Israel by terrorists.
  • This conflict comes at an awkward time for Israel which just held elections but has not yet formed a new government.

Another flare up between Israel and Hamas began unexpectedly over the weekend.  While Jews in the south were praying in the Synagogue on Saturday morning (the day of the Sabbath) suddenly there were sirens.  The people interrupted their prayers and ran into bomb shelters. Officially another battle began between Israel and Gaza.  The war continued until 4:30 on Monday morning.

Nearly 700 rockets were fired from Gaza and four Israelis were killed.  Most of the missiles aimed at Israel population centers were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.  Very few made clean hits into Israeli populated areas in the south including Beer Sheva, Kiryat Gat, Ashkelon, Sederot, Nitivot, Ofakim and Israel settlements in the south.

The last serge of missiles were fired at about 8 p.m. at the highly populated city of Ashdod in central Israel.  There were several injuries as a result of this attack.  A Chassidic young man was killed when he was trying to reach a bomb shelter and a factory was damaged and several workers were injured.

Israel in retaliation struck at many targets in Gaza and 23 were killed.  These targets were bases and buildings used by the terrorists in attacking Israel.  They made only one pinpointed attack on an official in the Gihad Hamas army who was responsible for transferring money from Iran to Israel.  This was the first targeted hit since 2014.

Israel has continued to maintain a defensive strategy against Hamas during these clashes to avoid killing civilians.  The strikes by Israel using planes or ground-to-air missiles are accurate enough to minimize civilian deaths.  Those 23 Gazans who were killed were probably connected to places where missiles were launched.  When Israel began to gather tanks near the border of Gaza for a possible land invasion, as usual Hamas offered a cease fire until 4:30 in the morning. This cease fire was negotiated by Egypt as has been the case in the past.  Without the Iron Dome system at work, there could have been thousands of casualties which would have led to an outright war where Israel would have needed to dismantle all the arms of their enemies in Gaza.

During the week before the war broke out there was talk about a stabilization between Gaza and Israel.  Hamas several times denied responsibility for several isolated incidents at the border. They justified themselves and claimed that these incidents were not under their control but were connected to another terrorist organization in Gaza called Islamic Jihad.  Israel has had difficulty accepting the explanations from Hamas for attacks from Islamic Jihad and requires Hamas to maintain order at the border and in their land.  On Wednesday before the war there were hundreds of balloons with explosives which were sent into Israel by terrorists.  Israel retaliated for this breach of the peace with several targeted attacks at Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

It is hard to distinguish between Hamas and Islamic Jihad.  When there are two active terrorist groups it is difficult to make a lasting peace since only one terrorist group is agreeing to the cease fire.

This conflict comes at an awkward time for Israel which just held elections but has not yet formed a new government.  In the elections there was only a small difference between the right-leaning government of Likud lead by Benjamin Netanyahu.  The opposition party led by IDF chief of staff Benny Ganz received an equal amount of votes as the Likud.  Therefore, Likud needs to accept more than 60 mandates from the other parties to make a government.

The Blue and White Party of Benny Ganz cannot form a government at this point. They will also need the far left and Arab parties which are known to be a security risk.  Until Avigdor Lieberman, who represents a party with five mandates representing primarily Russian immigrants, agrees to join the government Netanyahu cannot reach a majority. Even though Lieberman, the former Minister of Defense, is considered right-leaning like Likud he is opposes the religious parties and their requests for funding and their opposition to equal status when it comes to the draft.  He also is represents many Russian Israelis who are seeking equal status in Jewish religious law without the currently required conversions.

Since Ganz received an equal amount of mandates as Netanyahu, if they will make a government together, the two leaders will have to share the position as Prime Minister. The Israel Gaza war has come in the middle of negotiations between Israel parties to give each one a ministry to make a government.

After Israel forms a new government they will have to face the new peace plan proposal of President Trump.

However it will require both sides to sign the agreement including Hamas, Islamic Jihad or both. The war seems to represent the opposition of Hamas, who is a puppet of Iran, to any type of compromise between the Palestinians and Israelis.  Their goal remains the complete extermination of the State of Israel.

President Trump has implemented his sanctions against Iran.  Iran may decide to close the Hormuz Strait which will cause a war between America and other oil producing nations against Iran.

Saudi Arabia is already fighting Iran in Yemen.  Iran is a Muslim State and in their religion there is “jihad” like we have seen in Gaza.  The Gazans no matter how much they suffer continue to fight Israel.  If Iran is an Orthodox Islamic state they cannot surrender to the west and will have to call for jihad no matter the cost in human life.  Saddam Hussein went into Kuwait which was suicide for Iraq.  History repeats itself and the glory of the Islamic State of Iran is in danger and may be more important than surrender to America.  Hezbollah at the north of Israel is loyal to Iran and if there is a conflict between America and Iran, Hezbollah will attack Israel as they did in the last two Lebanon wars.  Iran in Syria will also attack and Israel will want to send troops into Syria but the Russian presence there will prevent them.

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David Wexelman

Rabbi David Wexelman is the  author of five books on the topics of World Unity and Peace, and Progressive Jewish Spirituality. Rabbi Wexelman is a member of the American Friends of Maccabee, a charitable organization helping the poor in the United States and in Israel.  Donations are tax deductible in the USA.

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