Terrorists from Gaza attacked southern Israel Sunday afternoon with two mortar shells, but the government and the IDF have not commented. No damage or injuries were reported.
The attacks may have been timed with the expected release of more terrorists this week as part of the four-stage plan Israel announced in July to free 104 terrorists in return for the privilege of Israeli negotiators sitting down to talk with their Palestinian Authority counterparts.
Hamas, which rules Gaza, would like nothing more than to embarrass the rival Fatah movement, headed by the Obama administration’s peace partner known as Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and cause casualties on the Israeli side that might abort the second stage of the plan.
The military policy, dictated by the Defense Ministry, has been to “retaliate” for every mortar attack by bombing a weapon storage depot or a tunnel, leaving a few hundred other “terror sites” remaining. After all, if Israel were to knock all of them out, what could the IDF do next time around when Hamas or Islamic Jihad terrorists strike the country with missiles and mortar shells? Invading Gaza or bombing areas where terrorists hang out among civilians would be considered a “disproportionate” response.
That strategy goes by the boards if, God forbid, one of those mortar shells or Kassam missiles explodes on a kindergarten.
But as long as that does not happen, Israelis living in the Gaza Belt region continue to be victims of the government’s version of Russian roulette.
In between the mortar shell and Kassam rocket attacks, there is no scarcity of attempts to kill soldiers. The IDF last week prevented a possible mass casualty attack when soldiers discovered a large roadside bomb that was intended to be detonated as a vehicle drove by. Army sappers neutralized the explosives, and no one was hurt.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not want to rock the boat right now and punish Hamas, face an escalation in terrorist attacks and then risk a suspension of the talks, which are being conducted under the misguided hand of President Barack Obama’s personal Middle East envoy Martin Indyk.
The Prime Minister is dead-set to go through with the second round of freeing terrorists even though it has all of the right reasons not do so. The Cabinet agreed in July to spread out the release of terrorists to test the Palestinian Authority’s ability and intentions to preserve the peace, at least until all of the terrorists are safely home where they can return to terror.
Since the start of the talks, terrorists have murdered four Israelis and tried to murder several others, including a nine-year-old girl.
Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Cabinet Sunday morning, “We have to honor government decisions even if it is difficult and unpleasant; we can’t constantly change our stance.”
But which promise? No, not the promise that Abbas keep up his end of the agreement.
The only promise that Israel has to keep is the one that Netanyahu made to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to resume the so-called negotiations.
There is one other promise that Netanyahu may keep, although almost a year late. He said earlier this year than 3,000 more homes would be built for Jews in Judea and Samaria and in parts of Jerusalem that Abbas wants to turn into the capital of a Palestinian Authority state without any Jewish residents.
To this date, zero new homes have been built in PA-claimed Jerusalem, Efrat, Maaleh Adumim, Kiryat Arba, Beitar Illit and other cities. There have been announcements of new homes, which is good material to keep the nationalists in line, but facts on the ground equal zilch.
In the horse trading that reduces the human factor to a piece of paper on which Abbas can sign another agreement to be tossed in the waste can , Netanyahu is prepared to start building homes in return for freeing terrorists.
Once upon a time, Israel negotiated with terrorists by killing them.
Then, Israel started trading them for a handful of Israelis who had been kidnapped.
And the Olmert government under the leaderless Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, agreed to release heavy-duty terrorists for corpses of IDF soldiers.
Two years ago, the Netanyahu government freed 1,000 terrorists for the release of a single soldier, Gilad Shalit.