On Monday the Palestinians were overwhelmingly voted into UNESCO—the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It’s a pity. Palestinian “education” consists largely of anti-Semitic hate, their scientific achievements are nil apart from importing ever more sophisticated weapons, and as for their culture…Israelis have again been getting a taste of that in recent days.
Since Wednesday, on and off, the Israeli south has again been under a barrage from Gaza. One man has been killed and eight people wounded, along with extensive property damage including nine cars blown up in a parking lot. Some 200,000 children have been kept home from school. The Israeli air force has killed ten terrorists in retaliatory raids that amount to little more than tit-for-tat.
So far, though, not one of the 40-plus rockets and mortars fired from Gaza appears to have been fired by Hamas, its ruling organization. All, or nearly all, have been fired by another group, Islamic Jihad. Palestinian “culture” being what it is, you sometimes need a scorecard to keep up with the various Palestinian terror movements. But Islamic Jihad is not just another of those small, global-jihadist, Al Qaeda-linked groups occasionally heard from in Gaza.
Israeli military analyst Ron Ben-Yishai writes that Islamic Jihad has lately
accumulated (with the active support of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards) military power that is equal to—and in some cases greater than—Hamas’s military capabilities.
Islamic Jihad has more long-range rockets than Hamas, thousands of activists, and some 10,000 supporters and collaborators….
And Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, a Palestinian-affairs expert, concurs, noting that
Today, [Islamic Jihad] poses a serious challenge to the Hamas government.
With the help of Iran and Syria, Islamic Jihad has become a major player in the Palestinian arena….
It’s almost certain by now that Islamic Jihad—which is viewed by some as being more radical than Hamas—will one day rise to power in the Gaza Strip.
As for why Islamic Jihad chose now to heat things up, accounts vary, but all agree that it’s at Iran’s (and probably also Syria’s) prodding. Abu Toameh writes that “According to informed Palestinian sources, relations between Hamas and the Iranians and Syrians have deteriorated because of the movement’s refusal to publicly support the embattled regime of President Bashar Assad.”
Iran and its friends are probably also unhappy about Hamas’s drift toward Egypt and the boost to its popularity from securing the release of so many Palestinian murderers (Palestinian culture again) in the Shalit deal. Solution: tell Islamic Jihad to start shooting at Israel and recoup lost points.
Where does all this leave Israel?
Clearly, whether Iran throws its weight behind Hamas as it did formerly, or Islamic Jihad as it is doing at present, the barrages from Gaza stem ultimately from an Iranian strategy aimed at weakening and eventually destroying the Jewish state. The Netanyahu government’s reluctance to deal decisively with Gaza terror—more and more reminiscent of the preceding Olmert government, which tolerated almost three years of bombardment before launching the inconclusive Operation Cast Lead—presumably reflects, in part, the need to look at the larger strategic picture.
Speculation—and, reportedly, American apprehension—about a possible Israeli strike on Iran has reached an unprecedented level. It would make sense to go for the root instead of getting tangled up in one of the branches. Or, if such speculation again proves baseless, it is hard to see what excuse remains not to cut off the branch.