While we sort out who in our national security and defense hierarchy has been sleeping with whom, it appears Israel and terrorists in the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip are heading into a full-fledged war. As night falls in the region, Israeli officials have confirmed the first rocket attacks on Tel Aviv since the 1991 Gulf War. The Times of Israel has a running live blog of the action.
Those attacks followed yesterday’s Israeli strikes on terrorist targets in Gaza, including one that killed the leader of the military arm of Hamas. Both Hamas and another group called Islamic Jihad previously had ramped up their sporadic firing of rockets into southern Israel; as of mid-October, Israeli officials said there had been more than 800 rocket attacks on their country from Gaza this year.
Given the civil war in Syria, to Israel’s east; the new Egyptian government’s support of its fellow Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, Hamas; and Iran’s ties to both the Syrian government and the Gaza-based terrorist groups, it doesn’t seem likely that this conflict will be as contained as in previous flare-ups in recent years.
One thing is certain: The various actors in this conflict will be looking to see what the U.S. response is. President Obama’s initial engagement — voicing support for Israel’s right to self-defense, and urging the Egyptian government to work to de-escalate matters from the Palestinian side — was good. He’ll need to hold that line in the days to come and give stronger measures of support for Israel. I very much hope that stops short of involving our own military, but anything less than absolute support for Israel could trigger a war that engulfs the entire region.
– By Kyle Wingfield