This Week Today - Current Events from Israel

Ben Packer,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House (www.heritagehouse.org.il) and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives (www.youngjewishconservatives.org). He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

Its a very patriotic time in Israel right now - today being Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) and tomorrow being Yom Ha'Atzmaut (Independence Day). For those not familiar, Israel transitions from intense mourning one day to momentous joy the very next day. Its unique and accurately portrays alot of what it is to live in Israel. Can't really be replicated anywhere else. 

Alot of Rockets from Gaza

Just prior to this week's national commemorations, hamas and the islamic jihad terrorist group fired something between 600-700 rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip. Most of these rockets landed harmlessly or were shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system. However, not all of them. Tragically 4 Israelis (3 Jews and a muslim) were killed and others were wounded. Cities as far away as Ashdod and Be'ersheva were targeted. 

Of course the IDF/Israeli Air Force responded to the attacks. The main difference this time is that Israel returned to a policy of targeted assassinations of terrorists. This means that not only were terrorists actively engaged in committing violence targeted, but also known terrorists were targeted regardless of what they were doing at the time. The highest level terrorist killed in the strikes was reported to be a financial liaison to iran. It remains to be seen if this apparent change in tactics was short-term or will be long-term. We'll probably find out in the next few weeks. 

After a few days of the rocket barrages and retaliatory strikes, a ceasefire was arranged by Egypt. Its not totally clear what was involved the deal, but it would appear that $30 million from Qatar will be going to hamas in Gaza and that many restrictions, imposed by Israel in response to the rockets, will be lifted as long as the rockets aren't being fired.

Obviously after 4 deaths, many injuries, an estimated $14 million in damages and the incredible stress and disruption to the lives of millions of Israelis, many were not so thrilled with the ceasefire and thought it let hamas and their friends off the hook, once again. Recently re-elected Prime Minister Netanyahu has taken alot of criticism, including from some within his own party, for going along with the ceasefire. However, Netanyahu has been been clear that Israeli military action will continue in the near future. This has been seen by many as meaning: after the national days this week, the Eurovision song competition , which Israel is hosting next week, and maybe even ramadan, but then there will be reckoning. For sure that is what the leadership of hamas and islamic jihad are expecting. They just need to decide if they want once again to start the hostilities or not. 

Government Coalition Negotiations

Negotiations to form the next governing coalition were pretty much put on hold because of the conflict with Gaza and now the national days and many ceremonies this week. Look for them to resume in earnest early next week. Most agreements between the different parties could already be signed as early as the end of next week. 

Israel at 71

Israel is turning 71 tomorrow and the population has officially topped 9 million. (75% of those 9 million being Jewish) Things aren't perfect, but the growth and success, in all aspects, has been incredible. There is much reason to celebrate!