Israeli Merkava tank leaving Gaza staging area
August 5, 2014
Source: The Guardian
By Jerry Gordon:
Tom Jocelyn, the American counterterrorism expert and Senior Fellow at the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies is the editor of The Long War Journal. It is a chronicle of the global Islamic jihad in the 21st Century, now in its 13th year. The global jihad was sparked by what the US State Department has taken to calling “core Al Qaeda”, most dramatically with 9/11. Subsequently it has metatisized driven by the Salafist doctrine seeking to replicate the great barbarism of the first jihad that burst out of the Arabian peninsula 14 Centuries ago. In many instances it has been a long war against indigenous populations, both Muslim and not. In the later case, it has witnessed the self-declared Caliphate of the Islamic State, formerly ISIS, confronting non-Muslims with the choice to convert, be subjugated, leave or be killed. It is sacralized barbarity emboldened with arms and advanced military technology abandoned by fleeing armies. It is financed by extortion and billions in booty, money seized in conquered territories and oil resources.
Virtually alone and surrounded by these Jihadist forces is the Jewish nation of Israel. Israel has conducted a long war of its own over the 21 years since the conclusion of the 1993 Oslo Accords with the Palestinian Authority. An agreement orchestrated by former President Clinton between Israeli Prime Minister, the late Yitzhak Rabin and the late Yassir Arafat, first President of the Palestinian Authority. Arafat went on to ignite the Second Intifada in September 2000 using the excuse that the late Israeli PM Ariel Sharon had made an unauthorized visit to the Temple Mount. That intifada saw thousands of Israeli causalities, both dead and wounded, that morphed into a seemingly unending series of military Operations. It began with Operation Defensive Shield following the bloody Park Hotel Passover suicide bombing in March 2002 that killed many Holocaust survivors. It culminated in the siege of Arafat in the Mukata in 2004 in Ramallah. A brief hiatus following the demise of Arafat saw Israel build a security barrier in the disputed territories that virtually brought to a close the Second Intifada. The late PM Sharon left Likud to found a new coalition party, Kadima, on the strength of a letter in 2004 with former President Bush giving Israel permission to defend itself with US assurances.
That led Sharon in 2005 to order the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza of 9000 settlers and 10,000 IDF personnel under the misguided pretext that it would make Israel more secure. The Bush Administration was preoccupied in the Long War in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It sought to foist the myopic view that the Islamist world could be transformed into budding western style democracies. This despite the rise of anti-democratic Muslim Brotherhood elements in Gaza, Egypt and other adjacent Muslim countries. They had been kept in check by autocracies supplied with both US and Russian military assistance and aid. Thus, the Bush Administration thought it had a willing peace partner in Arafat’s successor, the long serving PA President, Mahmoud Abbas. The Bush Administration prevailed upon Israel to relinquish its control over the strategic Philadelphi corridor along the Egyptian Gaza frontier installing Fatah bureaucrats. 2006 saw the one vote, one time election in Gaza of a Hamas dominated Palestinian Legislative Council. That lead to the June 2007 ejection and literal defenestration of Fatah from Gaza, leaving Hamas virtually in control. Israel was forced to engage in a series of air assaults that resulted in assassinations of Hamas leaders, co-founder Sheik Yassin and Dr. Rantisi. Hamas took over the Rafah border with Egypt through which arms, rockets and missiles were infiltrated along with huge infusions of cash from foreign Muslim charities and backers, Iran and Qatar.
In 2006 Israel was embroiled in the Second Lebanon War with Iran proxy Hezbollah supplied by the former with thousands of rockets. That conflict was triggered by a kidnapping of two IDF soldiers followed by massive Hezbollah artillery rocket barrages. The 34 day War with Hezbollah saw more than 4,000 rockets rain on Israel setting a pattern that was copied by Hamas in Gaza in 2009, 2012 and 2014. In that first clash with Hezbollah saw Israel’s population in the north sweltered in crude shelters or displaced to the central Mediterranean shore. It also sparked the development of technical countermeasures to protect the both Israel’s population and IDF defense. Those developments included the now recognized Iron Dome system of batteries equipped with Tamir anti-rocket missiles, and the less well known, Trophy system, used effectively in the most recent 2014 Operation protecting armored vehicles against anti-tank rockets and missiles. Just prior to the Second Lebanon War, a cross border raid by Hamas operatives kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, holding him hostage until released in an October 2011 exchange for 1,027 Palestinian terrorist prisoners held by Israel.
In June 2009, President Obama made a dramatic speech at Cairo University extending outreach, many believed that emboldened Islamist elements in the Muslim ummah. In December,2011 the self-immolation of a fruit vendor in Tunisia sparked the so-called Arab Spring that erupted in North Africa and the Middle East. Autocracies in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt were overturned. The latter witnessed the ousting of strongman Mubarak with rise of the Muslim Brotherhood that saw the election of one if its prominent leaders, Mohammed Morsi as its President in June 2012. Morsi was backed by a National Assembly composed of dominate Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties. They sought to impose Sharia law on women, secular elements and the country’s ancient minority Coptic Christian community. Virtually, a year later, Morsi and thousands of Muslim Brotherhood leaders were ousted, jailed and killed during a coup by his Defense Minister Gen.Abdel- Fattah El-Sisi. He was engaged in a counterterrorism campaign against Hamas linked Salafist terror groups in the Sinai.
The overthrow of the Libyan strongman Qadaffi, with aid from the US and NATO, spawned chaos with warring tribal and jihadist militias. That culminating in the Benghazi attack that killed the US Ambassador and three other Americans, a communications aide, and two CIA-contractors on 9/11/2012.
Meanwhile, Israel was concerned about security on its southern border with Egypt in the Sinai. Following cross border attacks near the Red Sea resort of Eilat it constructed a 200 mile security barrier seeking to prevent intrusion, only to be left exposed to rocket attacks. On Israel’s north eastern Golan frontier a raging civil war in Syria, now well into its third year, saw the Assad regime forces ranging across the Golan frontier fighting opposition rebel groups. These included al Qaeda affiliates the Al Nusrah front and the extremist Salafist spinoff, the Islamic State, formerly ISIS.
The latest IDF Operation Protective Edge that began on July 8th with barrages from Gaza from both homemade and Iranian supplied long range rockets covered fourth fifths of Israel. It was triggered by a botched kidnapping by Hamas operatives and that resulted in the murder of three Jewish yeshiva students, whose remains were discovered on June 30th. The Palestinian Authority in late April had announced a unity government with Hamas that scuppered any chances of a possible final stage agreement sought by US Secretary of State Kerry. Hamas is a foreign terrorist group so designated by the US, Canada and the EU. Its 1988 Charter, had sought not only the destruction of Israel but the killing of Jews globally. Israeli PM Netanyahu and his coalition cabinet had no choice but to call up what ultimately would be a massed IDF force of 80,000 elite brigades and reservists to conduct the ground phase of Operation Protective Edge. That culminated in the launch of ground operations in Gaza that ended with the seventh truce on August 5th that is holding for the moment. That truce occurred ironically on the Jewish Fast Day of Tish B’Av commemorating historic catastrophes that have befallen the Jewish people over the millennia.
Go to NER to read the rest with commentary from Tom Joscelyn and Jonathan Spyer