Montag, 11. Februar 2008

Updates Part-II

Uzi Benziman, "Let democracy triumph": One can point to Moshe Katsav's behavior to illustrate how tenuous the recommendation to abolish commissions of inquiry is. Learned political science experts contend that the Winograd Committee (and it is just one example of the external commissions of inquiries formed to study the government's behavior during national crises) disrupted the proper democratic process. According to their view, instead of having the public and the political system judge the functioning of the state's leaders and draw the necessary conclusions, the state defers to external commissions of inquiry. In other words, the sovereign's decision is handed over to five random people. Katsav, for those who have forgotten, did not hesitate to cling to his seat even after his turpitude was exposed, and even lashed out in anger at his critics, throwing sand in the eyes of the public. Katsav lacked an internal moral compass to instruct him to step down in shame and disappear from the public arena. On the contrary, even after the police's severe findings, and even after the attorney general's lenient and strange decision, he continued to protest and demand rights. The political system acted in the same way: Until the complaints against Katsav were translated into dry legal language, the Knesset did not demand that the public be relieved of this burden.

Harel/Issacharoff: The injuries suffered by the two Twito brothers as a result of Saturday night's Qassam rocket strike on Sderot has still not sent the Israel Defense Forces into the Gaza Strip on a major ground offensive. Israel's political leadership remains unconvinced that the military plan will necessarily bring about a positive change to the situation along the border with the Strip. In spite of the political pressure to take action, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak would like to maximize the room they have to maneuver before they order a large-scale military operation. However, the direction of developments in recent weeks is clear. It is hinting more and more toward a direct confrontation, in the near future, between Hamas and the IDF. One of the main reasons for the escalation stems from the attempt by Hamas to establish a new deterrent against Israel. Since mid-January, Hamas has operated differently in the Strip. It no longer uses short-term and irrational responses to IDF ground raids or air attacks. For each Israeli operation, especially if it involves a large number of casualties from the ranks of the organization, Hamas responds with a drawn-out rocket barrage of three to four days. At its completion, Hamas lowers the intensity, until the next round of violence. The latest example of this occurred last week. On Tuesday, nine members of Hamas were killed in an IDF operation. Two days later, seven more Palestinians were killed, six gunmen and a civilian. Hamas fired, according to its press release, no less than 135 Qassam rockets and mortars between Tuesday and Saturday night, in addition to shooting from various smaller groups. On Sunday, Hamas stopped shooting. The message: henceforth, every Israeli operation will result in a similar response. Hamas is hoping that Israel will agree, after repeated bombing of Sderot, to a tahdiye (calm) in the territories, and even believe they can bring about an end to the arrests that the IDF is carrying out in the West Bank.

The Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet internal security service are preparing to step up assassinations against key Hamas figures in the Gaza Strip in response to the continued Qassam rocket attacks against Sderot. The renewed campaign of targeted killings is not likely, at this stage, to include members of the Hamas political leadership. During a meeting on security developments Sunday, and at the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel needs to continue its preparations for a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip, but there is no point in rushing into one.

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