[Discussion] The Middle East in Crisis


A place to post and discuss news related to the recent events in Israel, including the Hamas/Islamic Jihad incursion and repercussions.

Okay, fresh start here as the situation in the Middle East and the world continues to circle the drain.
I'd like us to be able to continue *CIVIL* discussions of events as they progress, until such a time as the crises end in the Middle East, or we need a Third World War thread (which, of course, get your posts in quickly before the end).

Consider the scope widened to areas of conflict in North Africa, East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, Turkey, Iran, India and related seas, oceans and canals. And I can't believe I'm writing this.

And now (Monday) Security Minister Ben Giver, part of Netanyahu's coalition, has called on Right-wing supporters to hit the streets in Jerusalem in counter-protest to the tens of thousands gathered against Netanyahu's moves. The Finance Minister also has called out his support for Netanyahu.

Now, while Netanyahu has not made an address as expected today, "sources" are saying the changes will be delayed until after the end of Pesach, which finishes on April 13 this year. I am doubtful that that will calm down his opponents.

It's all going.... well it's going.

What Many Americans Misunderstand About Israel’s Unrest (The Atlantic Paywall)

Israel's former leader says Netanyahu should either reform his coalition or resign

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday that he would postpone a vote on a controversial overhaul of the country's judiciary until after parliament returns from recess at the end of April.

The move follows three months of massive protests that escalated in recent days, with labor strikes disrupting hospitals and airports and some military reservists skipping their duties — collectively raising all kinds of security concerns.

Among the thousands of protesters was one of Netanyahu's predecessors: Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who served in the role from 2006 to 2009.

Olmert went on to spend over a year in jail on corruption charges, though he consistently has maintained his innocence. Netanyahu himself is currently on trial for three criminal cases alleging corruption — a large part of why his proposed judicial reforms are so controversial.

Olmert, who has led centrist parties in the past but says he's now retired from politics, is an outspoken opponent of Netanyahu. Last November an Israeli court found him guilty of defamation over remarks he had made about his successor the previous year. He continued his criticisms in a Tuesday interview with Morning Edition's Michel Martin.

Speaking from Tel Aviv, Olmert said that while Netanyahu was "forced to compromise temporarily" under significant pressure, the struggle was far from over.

Netanyahu has begun the political process of weakening the courts again, and protests are starting up again too.

Arnon Milchan is his own sack of trouble; his career as a spy stealing tech from the US and as a political influencer is well-documented from a number of reputable sources (including the latest from James Bamford, "Spyfail", which goes into excruciating and even distressing detail about counter-intelligence failures in the US, with Milchan being one of the most egregious). He's testifying about expensive gifts given to Netanyahu, as part of Netanyahu's corruption trial.

Protests against Netanyahu have been ongoing since March, as far as I can tell. I expect them to get hot again. The fate of Israeli democracy, already on weak moral and political grounds, is at stake.

Israel and Israel-with-a-goatee seem evenly matched in power.


Protests continue, and the political process of stripping the power of review of ministerial appointments and laws based on "reasonableness" that has driven Israel's secular success for decades has begun. The suppression of the protests has also become more violent.

As he notes, this has been a long time coming. But it's still sad and horrifying to see in action.

The vote on the first and foundational change to the powers of the Israeli Supreme Court takes place tomorrow, and looks set to succeed. PM Netanyahu was rushed to the hospital on Saturday and fitted with a pacemaker, but promises to attend to vote for it. His coalition said that they were "unable to reach consensus with the opposition" over the weekend, but the opposing leaders deny that there were any talks at all. Tens of thousands of reservists in the armed forces have signed on to a protest movement which will see them failing to report to duty. The major business organization in the country is holding discussions on nationwide strikes.

And hundreds of thousands of Israelis are marching in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and elsewhere, some bussed in from the West Bank to support the Right, others brought in by grassroots organizers on the Left. Proportionately, this would like around four million people marching to the Capitol and White House, if you can imagine.

Monday, the vote will be held, and at the end of the month, the Knesset takes off for the Summer break. Tomorrow may be the most important day in Israel's history since its founding. Keep an eye on the news.

Ah, Foucault's boomerang, we meet again.

Israel passes law stripping Supreme Court of power

Nothing says stable democracy like stripping courts of power.

farley3k wrote:

Israel passes law stripping Supreme Court of power

Nothing says stable democracy like stripping courts of power.

On one hand, that is bad. On the other hand, we could use some of that sh*t here in The States.

UpToIsomorphism wrote:
farley3k wrote:

Israel passes law stripping Supreme Court of power

Nothing says stable democracy like stripping courts of power.

On one hand, that is bad. On the other hand, we could use some of that sh*t here in The States.

If the US just made the House of Rep match population as it was supposed to, and got dark money out of politics I think that would do more than stripping the court of power.


Looks like the next step is that the Supreme Court will rule on the legality of the law, which sets up a potential crisis between the various arms of government. Not sure how long that will take.

UpToIsomorphism wrote:
farley3k wrote:

Israel passes law stripping Supreme Court of power

Nothing says stable democracy like stripping courts of power.

On one hand, that is bad. On the other hand, we could use some of that sh*t here in The States.

Most of us genXers and older millenials will probably not outlive the trump appointees to see this happen (also, America’s expiration date can likely be measured in decades, not centuries) but don’t think for a second the right wouldn’t do exactly this if the SCOTUS shifted to a 6/3 progressive majority.

Israel doesn't have a Constitution, just a body of laws. It would be a lot harder to do that here. But probably not impossible.

This makes me extremely sad. Can this be stopped?

We are at the mercy of fascists and racists (both carefully chosen words) who cannot, and will not, stop.

I write about South Africa and Israel because I know both of them, 53 years in one and nearly 26 years in the other. Neither is unique. The same pattern of rightwing repression has happened in our time in Hungary and Poland, in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and earlier in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s.

I did not want to write this article. It was torn out of me, addressed to Israelis because the rightwing government is taking the country into institutionalised discrimination and racism. This is apartheid. South Africa under apartheid was straightforward: white v black. Israel is complex. The 21% Arab minority has the vote. Everyone pays the same national insurance and enjoys the same benefits – medical and social welfare. In hospital, I, a Jew, share a room with Arabs and we are cared for by the same Jewish and Arab doctors and nurses. Everything is open: beaches, park benches, movies, theatres, restaurants. The apartheid label is correct, but caution and thought are needed about comparisons.

In Israel, I am now witnessing the apartheid with which I grew up. Israel is giving a gift to its enemies in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and its allies, especially in South Africa, where denial of Israel’s existence is intense among many black people, in trade unions and communist and Muslim circles. BDS activists will continue to make their claims, out of ignorance and/or malevolence, spreading lies about Israel. They have long distorted what is already bad into grotesqueness, but will now claim vindication. Israel is giving them truth.

"We are at war", Netanyahu declares after surprise attack on Israel by Hamas

The article wrote:

Israel was struck by a surprise attack by Hamas early Saturday morning in one of the most serious escalations in years between Israel and the Islamist militant group. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the country was “at war."

Israel launched retaliatory air strikes on targets in Gaza.

The massive assault by Hamas combined a barrage of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel and dozens of heavily armed gunmen attacking the country’s south from Gaza. At least 22 Israelis have been killed in the attack with more than 250 wounded, Israel’s ambulance service said, according to media reports. The toll was expected to rise.

“We are at war, and we will win,” Netanyahu said in a message to Israelis.

Looks like Islamic Jihad has thrown its forces into the fight. Hezbollah says it is in contact with Palestinian militias, but for now is in "wait and see" mode. Maybe they are conducting callups, maybe they will sit this one out.

A major Israeli reserves callup is in progress. Bombing of the Gaza Strip has already occurred, with "dozens" killed and likely hundreds injured so far, mostly civilians. Photos of at least two Merkavas taken by Hamas militants have emerged, without context. The situation, as they say, is fluid, but just from the pictures, it looks like Ashkelon has taken a beating, largely among civilians.

I hope that both sides can find their way to peace.

So do I, but that's not happening before a LOT more people die.

Israel attack: PM says Israel at war after 100 killed in attack from Gaza

At least 100 people have been killed in Israel after Palestinian militant group Hamas launched its biggest attack in years.

Militants crossed into Israel from Gaza under the cover of heavy rocket fire - and have since taken dozens of Israelis captive.

Some hostages - both soldiers and civilians - were taken back to Gaza.

Israel has responded with a wave of air strikes on targets in Gaza killing 198 people, Palestinian officials say.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was "at war" and vowed that Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, will "pay a price it has never known".

"This morning Hamas launched a murderous surprise attack against the state of Israel and its citizens," he said.

This is one of the most serious escalations in the Israel-Palestinian conflict in years.

The attack by Hamas saw fighters cross the perimeter fence at just after dawn. At the same time, barrages of rockets were launched from Gaza - some reaching as far as the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

How the gunmen managed to penetrate one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world is unclear.

The Israeli military has said dozens of fighter jets are carrying out air strikes on Hamas sites in Gaza, and it has hit 17 Hamas military compounds. It also said it has mobilised tens of thousands of reservists.

The Palestinian health ministry says 198 people have been killed in Israeli strikes. and another 1,610 have been wounded.

Israeli bombs destroyed an 11-story tower in downtown Gaza City which houses Hamas radio stations in the rooftop.

Medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres said a nurse and an ambulance driver were killed in Israeli strikes on two hospitals in Gaza.

Reuters news agency reported Israel's energy minister, Israel Katz, as saying that Israel will cut off Gaza's electricity supply.

How did Israeli intelligence fail to stop major attack from Gaza?

"We have no idea how this could have happened."

That is the reaction Israeli officials have been giving today when I ask them how, with all its vast resources, Israeli intelligence did not see this attack coming.

Dozens of armed Palestinian gunmen were able to cross the heavily fortified border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, while thousands of rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel.

With the combined efforts of Shin Bet, Israeli domestic intelligence, Mossad, its external spy agency and all the assets of the Israel Defense Forces, it is frankly astounding that nobody saw this coming.

Or if they did, they failed to act on it.

Israel has arguably the most extensive and well-funded intelligence services in the Middle East.

It has informants and agents inside Palestinian militant groups, as well as in Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere.

It has, in the past, carried out precisely timed assassinations of militant leaders, knowing all their movements intimately.

Sometimes these have been done with drone strikes, after agents have placed a GPS tracker on an individual's car; sometimes in the past it has even used exploding mobile phones.

On the ground, along the tense border fence between Gaza and Israel there are cameras, ground-motion sensors and regular army patrols.

The barbed-wire topped fence is supposed to have been a "smart barrier" to prevent exactly the sort of infiltration that has taken place in this attack.

Yet the militants of Hamas simply bulldozed their way through it, cut holes in the wire or entered Israel from the sea and by paraglider.

To prepare for and carry out such a coordinated, complex attack involving the stockpiling and firing of thousands of rockets, right under the noses of the Israelis, must have taken extraordinary levels of operational security by Hamas.

I kind of get the impression that Mossad may have been resting on its laurels for too long.

I suspect there is some blame for Shabak to take, too.

I think the confluence of interests between Netanyahu, Iran, Putin, and Hamas is an interesting one here. All stand to benefit from this. All are authoritarians with little to no regard for the methods with which they achieve power. I have a hard time believing mossad was this blindsided. This smells like Netanyahu’s Moscow theater moment.

I have to agree. I have a feeling that certain intel was simply ignored at a high level; probably there was only short notice anyway, which makes it far easier to conceal. This is exactly what Netanyahu needed.

I've been having the same thoughts but wasn't sure if it was because I just finished watching season 1 of The Diplomat the night before.

Oh, I have definite biases working into this conclusion, so I can't offer it with any kind of certainty. It's just that Trumpian politicians are depressingly likely to behave in ways that benefit them regardless of the consequences (and, also, taking into account the issues with Right-wing political motivations and military action that Israel has had since the first invasion in the early 80's. Also the fact that of violence not being an issue for Netanyahu's political allies, and quite possibly him as well.)

50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war. That can't be a coincidence.