The top headline in Thursday’s Asharq Al Awsat, an Arabic international newspaper headquartered in London, reads: “Israel neutralizes Hamas and Jihad, sets conditions for calm.” So, clearly, no matter what the angry young men in Gaza may argue, the Arab world knows the Islamic Jihad just took one on the chin and cried uncle. Also, Hamas stood by the whole time and didn’t move a finger to help. It’s quite possible, in fact, that the reason the IAF was so effective at eliminating so many rocket launching squads at the scene of the crime – 10 such squads at last count – may have had to do with some tacit intelligence from Hamas.
Which is why the IDF spokesman said on Thursday morning that all of the Operation Black Belt targets had been achieved. Supposedly, rubbing the Islamist Jihad’s nose in it was one of those targets.
Also: did you know it was called Operation Black Belt? Nobody tells me anything. This could be another blessed change brought on by Israel’s new defense minister Naftali Bennett, ending the reign of IDF operations being named after hygiene products (2002: Defensive Shield, 2004: Rainbow, 2006: Sharp and Smooth, 2006: Summer Rains, 2006: Autumn Clouds, 2008: Hot Winter, 2010: Sea Breeze, and, of course, in 2014: Protective Edge).
Bennett on Wednesday stood alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and declared that while the results of the quick and punishing campaign in Gaza were extremely satisfactory, there was still a great deal to do. Noting that, at the time, 20 terrorists had been eliminated, Bennett said he wanted every terrorist to know that their actions would be followed by dire consequences.
He declared that “the new rules of the game are clear: the IDF will operate with complete freedom of action, with no restrictions. A terrorist trying to hurt Israeli citizens will no longer be able to sleep peacefully, neither in his home nor in his bed, nor in any hiding place.”
Asharq Al Awsat stressed that the Secretary-General of the Islamic Jihad, Ziad al-Nkhala, who on Wednesday stated that his movement agreed to the ceasefire provided that Israel would end its program of targeted assassinations.
Ouch. You know they had fun writing that one…