An Iron Dome and nerves of steel

HEBREW An Iron Dome and nerves of steel

The Israeli press analyzes the goal of Operation Protective Edge and spotlights an undeterred Israeli public

 July 9, 2014, 


Israelis in the Tel Aviv area take cover as a warning siren sounds, signaling an incoming rocket, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

As Operation Protective Edge enters its second day, the Hebrew press sums up the jam-packed events on Tuesday – the continuous volley of rockets on the south, the thwarted infiltration of Zikim, and the ongoing Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip – with more commentary than news, and features personal accounts emphasizing civilian resilience in the face of the unabating barrage.

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In Yedioth Ahronoth, veteran reporter Nahum Barnea argues the most plausible explanation for the recent escalation is that Israel is flexing its muscles to maintain its military credibility.

“The military wing in Gaza did an intelligence assessment and concluded that the Israeli government is bluffing. That the threats its ministers are making are empty of content… When one side stops believing the other side’s threats, the result is a loss of deterrence. A dangerous process commences, during which Hamas allows itself to run wild, and the Israeli government, which is not eager to fight, is forced to order the expansion of its military response, including a possible ground excursion. It does not delude itself that it will make any great achievements, but it must prove to itself, its citizens, and Hamas that its word is its word. Credibility is the name of the game,” he writes.

The Haaretz editorial stresses that the operation is “designed to deliver a sharp and clear message to Hamas: Israel will not tolerate rocket fire on its territory,” but is not intended to be a full-fledged war to wipe out Hamas’s infrastructure once and for all.

“Still, concerns abound that this message will expand into a wider war with unpredictable consequences,” it writes.

“Israel realizes that even after the current operation, Hamas will remain the dominant force in the Strip… On the other hand, public pressure on the government and the suffering of residents in the south, where houses are hit, schools are closed and businesses are shuttered, tempt one to act forcefully and broadly. This temptation is based on an illusory notion that the problem can be solved once and for all. Such a concept failed repeatedly in previous operations.”

Smoke rises over Gaza after an Israeli airstrike following several rockets attacks into southern Israel, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/ Flash90)

Haaretz’s wariness is sharply contrasted with Israel Hayom’s hawkish pundits’ cries for a expansive operation to rid the Gaza terror organization of its weapons.

“Gaza must be brought back to the Stone Age,” the paper’s Amos Regev writes. “No, not in the sense of abolishing every house, destroying all infrastructure, and making the citizens wander among the rubble. But rather in the sense of abolishing every rocket, eliminating all explosives, capturing every machine gun and assault rifle. In other words: to expunge the arsenal Hamas has gathered in the past 10 years…. To leave them without rockets. With stones, at most. And this can only be done in one way: a wide-ranging ground excursion.”

The papers all provide conflicting information on the rocket barrage late Tuesday evening, during which sirens were triggered in Jerusalem and north to Binyamina. Both Yedioth and Haaretz report that a rocket struck an area outside Hadera – the northernmost point the terror group has hit to date.

The press also highlights the projectiles shot down over Tel Aviv, and the long-range rockets fired at Jerusalem. Israel Hayom and Haaretz write that a rocket fell in an open area outside the capital, while Yedioth says that one rocket landed in an open area in Givat Ze’ev and a second in an area adjacent to Jerusalem.

Overall, Haaretz reports 270 airstrikes, 20 Palestinians killed, 117 rockets fired into Israel, with 30 Iron Dome interceptions. Israel Hayom avoids providing a specific tally, and Yedioth initially writes that 130 rockets were fired Tuesday, and in a different article, reports 160 rockets. The paper says the IDF has hit over 150 targets – including 98 hidden rocket launchers, and 18 production and storage facilities. It places the Palestinian death toll at 16, and reports Magen David Adom has treated 32 Israelis for shock and six for light injuries sustained while running to shelter.

Meanwhile, Israelis continue to display their trademark defiance and bravado as the rockets rain down on their cities and sirens wail without pause.

Yedioth features a story about 22-year-old Gal Sheetrit, whose mother, Irit, was killed by rocket fire during Operation Cast Lead more than five years ago. Despite the security situation, Sheetreet resolved to hold her bridal henna party in a hall in the southern city of Ashdod on Tuesday night anyway.

“Nothing will destroy my happiness,” Sheetrit says.

“Our message at this event is that we, despite everything we’ve gone through, continue to celebrate,” and don’t let the rockets disrupt our lives, she says.

In Tel Aviv, where residents have long been accused of being in “a bubble” and emotionally removed from the larger Israeli public, the rockets are welcomed as a mark of the country’s restored unity.

“’I’m happy they shot at us, with the help of God they’ll shoot more,’ a security guard at the supermarket tells me half an hour after the first rocket was shot last night at Tel Aviv. ‘Every year they say ‘the state of Tel Aviv,’ that we don’t care, that we’re leftists. Now let them say something,’” an op-ed in Yedioth describes. The rocket fire “popped the bubble that encircled the city, let a feeling of war penetrate it. For one moment, the fate of Tel Aviv was like the fate of Sderot — disconnected Tel Avivians no longer,” it reports.

Israel Hayom features an op-ed by the Mayor of Beersheba Rubik Danilovich.

“We are not pressured for time, and we have patience of steel, until the other side understands that they will not beat us with force.”

During this time, “we discover the beautiful side of Israel: citizens from outside the city ask to host our residents. This is one of Israel’s fine hours,” he writes.

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