Saturday, July 01, 2006

Mission Creep

Yesterday was fun. Went with Yoav to the sprawling open air market in south Tel Aviv called Shuq ha-Carmel, and got daughter Ari the latest rage in women's fashion: mikhnas dayyagim ("fishermen's pants"). Yoav bought some clothes from an Israeli clothier who makes jeans and shirts for the European market in Gaza, Nablus, and China. We also went to a Russian and Asian grocery store. At the Russian store there were products lettered in Cyrillic and pork products by the dozen, including a butcher counter where one could order up fresh pork chops on the spot; at the Asian grocery store there was every conceivable Pacific-rim ingredient - frozen, fresh, and ready-to-go.

Almost a week into the Gaza reincursion crisis, and no sign of change. Israeli tanks, artillery, and naval vessels surround Gaza; a defiant alliance of three Palestinian resistance groups continue to up the ante with ever more grandiose demands; the IDF, embarrassed by the success of the original attack and abduction, want to avenge their incompetence with draconian assaults on Gaza; the Israeli political leadership continues to perform poorly -- it all has the makings for a disaster. Now that Israeli body politic has had a moment to catch its breath, it seems that the majority of Israelis do not want to see Israeli sons and daughters return to Gaza. Why are we here again? What is the mission? they are asking. It is also clear that the rash of abductions of HAMAS VIPs a couple of nights ago was a long-planned and rehearsed option, not designed to respond to the current trigger event, but as the first in a series of steps to bring about through external force the collapse of the Haniyeh government.

Qassam missiles and pinprick attacks on the surrounding army will not be stopped by reinvading Gaza or bringing down the Haniyeh government. Everyone understands that there is nothing Israel can do militarily to change the equation. This is the frustration when a nuclear-armed hi-tech army asymmetrically confronts a dedicated resistance movement (what is it called in Iraq? an "insurgency") in an urban setting.

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