Daily Archives: November 18, 2012

Review of the Recent Israel-Gaza War

Very impressive video from Hamas showing their new underground rocket launchers. This is a major advance for the Palestinian fighting force. They probably got the idea for making these things underground from Hezbollah, who has perfected the art of underground launchers. As you can see, there is a heavy metal door protecting the launcher from attack. The door opens and the launchers fire. Then the door closes, and the launcher goes back underground.

In addition, Hamas and other Palestinians have dramatically upgraded their missile arsenals with Katyushas and Fajrs. Most of those are coming via Iran and possibly Hezbollah. No doubt they are smuggled in from the Sinai.

Now their missile launching capability is much upgraded, as the new Fajrs have a range of more than 25 miles. Recent attacks have hit Tel Aviv and its suburbs itself. A missile was intercepted over Holon by the Israeli Iron Dome, and shrapnel landed on a car, setting it on fire. A town just south of Tel Aviv was also hit, but the missile landed in an open area.

Another couple of missiles hit the sea off Tel Aviv. Missiles hitting the sea are actually quite dangerous because that is the flight path for the jets arriving and leaving Tel Aviv airport. Hence a number of countries are cancelling their flights to Israel.

The greater Tel Aviv area is called Gush Dan.

Another missile was launched at Jerusalem itself, instead hitting just south of Jerusalem in the Gush Etzion colonial settlement block on Arab land in the West Bank. However, this also landed on open land.

Hamas has also been trying repeatedly to hit the Israeli nuclear reactor in Dimona with missiles. However, all of these missiles have landed outside of the town of Dimona in the desert. It’s uncertain what sort of damage a missile might do to a nuclear reactor.

Hamas and other groups are indeed shooting these rockets willy-nilly at Israeli towns. However, they are also targeting the Israeli military. A rocket hit a truck carrying tanks on a highway leading towards Gaza. An underground tunnel under the border was packed with explosives and detonated under a group of Israeli military trucks, overturning them. No one was in the trucks at the time.

Before the recent attack, an anti-tank rocket was fired by the PFLP at a jeep just over the Gaza border, wounding 3 soldiers.

In truth, Hamas and others lack good intelligence of where Israeli soldiers even are, though they may have some idea of where Israeli military bases are. The missiles are quite inaccurate. So even if the Gazans knew where Israeli bases and troops were, it would be hard to target them due to their inferior intelligence and accuracy of their weapons.

On the other hand, firing missiles willy-nilly at civilian towns and cities is definitely terrorism all right, even if Israeli casualties have been very low so far. Thus far, 3 Israelis have been killed, all civilians. The number of Israeli wounded is hard to figure, and I have had a hard time coming up with good figures. The best figure I can come up with is around 24 Israelis wounded so far, 21 civilians and 2 soldiers. If anyone can come up with better figures, let me know.

Casualties on the other side are even harder to figure. Hamas lists ~60 Gazans killed so far, but Israel says only 17 have been killed. Hamas has already been caught faking a video for propaganda purposes. A civilian was shown being carried away on a stretcher amid screaming civilians, but the same man was shown on another video walking away from the scene 10 minutes later. Propaganda like that is disgusting, but all sides do it in wartime.

I must say it is amazing that Palestinian rockets are hitting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv!

The killing of the commander of the Hamas armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, set off this recent war. It’s true that quite a few rockets have been fired at Israel lately for whatever reason. The assassination of Ahmed al-Jabari and his son while they were driving in a car in Gaza City has got a lot of news. Israel was quick to describe him as an arch-terrorist, but the truth is more complex.

It is true that al-Jabari has led the group since 2002, and is responsible for many suicide bombings in the early days before the Wall was built. In recent years, he has been behind many of the rocket attacks that hit Israel.

However, other groups have also been shooting rockets. Recently, most rockets were fired by the Resistance Committees, the Al Qaeda Salafist groups and Islamic Jihad.

The truth is that  al-Jabari has been Israel’s enforcer in the Gaza. There has been a relative truce since Operation Cast Lead, and it is al-Jabari who has enforced that truce. His job is mostly to keep nignogs from these other groups from shooting rockets, but that’s easier said than done. In many cases, Hamas has been able to get these groups to stop shooting rockets.

But that’s hard to do. For one thing, Hamas has only shaky control over Gaza, and the last thing they want is a civil war between them and the other armed groups. Another point is that resistance to Israel is very popular in Gaza, and Hamas looks like the bad guy by shooting it down, even against nignog-firing rocketeers. If Hamas comes to be seen too much as Israel’s enforcer, they can lose ground to other groups in Gaza, particularly Islamic Jihad.

By killing al-Jabari, Israel sent him a  message. The message was that as far as enforcing the truce and getting clowns to quite shooting rockets, he wasn’t doing a good enough job.

Hamas predictably reacted with fury to the assassination, and the hot war was on. Frankly, Hamas is getting its ass beat in this war. Many of their rockets have been intercepted, and there have been few casualties and little damage on the Israeli side.

There are risks to both sides in backing down from this war. The first side to give in, capitulate and call for a ceasefire risks being seen as weak, and neither side wants to give that impression. However, Hamas is being badly beaten here, so Turkey and Egypt are busy trying to get a ceasefire going. There’s little call for a truce on the Israeli side.

Israel is massing a huge force outside Gaza, and the idea is that they may go in there in a ground operation. That doesn’t seem like it would solve anything, and it may just make matters worse.

Coinciding with the rocket barrage, there have been many rock and Molotov cocktail attacks on cars driven by colonial settler invaders in the West Bank. Casualties from these attacks have been minimal.

I fully support armed actions against adult colonial settler invaders in the West Bank. They have no business being there, and they need to go home. I can’t support attacks on Israeli citizens inside the Green Line nor on Israeli minors in the West Bank. Attacks on kids are never right – minor civilians of any type are never a military target.

My attitude is that this whole war is pretty stupid. Hamas’ shooting of rockets is futile and will accomplish nothing but the destruction of their infrastructure and arsenal. Israel is already trying to kill the Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.

On the other hand, what can Israel do? There are 2 million Arabs in Gaza, and they are not going anywhere anytime soon. Israel has created an open air prison since Hamas won the election, and its arguable that Gazans might be justified in attacks for the imposition of this prison itself.

Most Gazans are refugees from the surrounding Israeli towns in South Israel. The former Arab towns were razed, their residents thrown out, and Jewish towns filled with Jews were built in their place. It is on these very towns and cities that these former refugees in Gaza are presently firing their missiles.

By far the best source for up to date information on the War is Israel National News, or Arutz Sheva. This is an outlet for the Far Right in Israel, the national-religious crowd. Nevertheless, no one does a better job of covering the conflict.

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Filed under Arabs, Israel, Israel-Palestine Conflict, Jews, Middle East, Palestine, Palestinians, Political Science, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, Settler-Colonialism, Terrorism, War

Mountain Lion Killed in Santa Monica Shopping Mall

Mountain Lion cowering in a Santa Monica shopping mall.

This young male cougar was found at 6 AM in a shopping mall in downtown Santa Monica by a groundskeeper showing up for work. He left work quickly (probably very quickly!) and called police. A team arrived and tried various methods of subduing the animal, including tranquilization, all of which failed. The animal was then shot to death.

It is not known how the cougar made its way to downtown Santa Monica, but the Santa Monica Mountains are only 2 miles away from this location. Researchers are tracking 22 mountain lions that live in the Santa Monica Mountains.

I have been to these mountains before, and they are not all that wild. If I’m not mistaken, the Hollywood Hills are part of this range.

Most mountain lions that show up in cities are young males for whatever reason. But young male lions do tend to be wanderers and dispersers more as they often have not carved out their own home range yet.

The danger of this animals is much exaggerated, but I would not want to be near one of them. I’ve spent most of my life hiking in the wilds, mostly in California but also in Utah, Washington State and British Columbia. Recently, I always carry a large stick with me wherever I go in the mountains. This stick is to be used if I ever run into a mountain lion or maybe even a bear. In all my time hiking in the woods, I’ve never seen a single bear either.

My mother recently saw what I believe was a mountain lion in Oakhurst, California. She was up north of town early in the morning picking up a friend of hers and something ran across the road very fast, so fast it was very hard to figure out exactly what it was. My Mom was puzzled and asked me what it could have been. She said it was as “big as a German shepherd” but it had a huge tail that went all the way back up over its head from the rear.

I figured it had to be a lion because there is nothing that big and that fast in the woods. In addition, lions often carry their tails back up over their bodies like that when they run.

It went across the road fast as a streak and then simply “disappeared” into some very thick brush and woods.

I’m familiar with this location as I saw a bobcat running across the road at dusk there once. These creatures are also extremely fast when you see them running across the road, and the way they run, you think it is a rabbit. I remember once my Mom called me up on the phone at 9:30 PM at nite in Oakhurst and asked me, “Bob, do rabbits eat cat food?” She said a “rabbit” had come up on the porch and was eating cat food. She went out to pick up the food and the thing ran away fast as a streak.

I had seen bobcats running fast before, and I thought it was a rabbit. This is apparently due to the way they use their legs in running in which one set of legs seems to overlap with the other set. I.e. the front legs seem to go all the way to the back and the back legs seem to go all the way to the front.

I figured it was a mountain lion because they were almost no rabbits in that area, rabbits don’t eat cat food, jackrabbits are typically not out at nighttime, and rabbits don’t run as fast bobcats. With a running rabbit, you will see it run away. With a bobcat, it’s just a flash. It’s interesting that bobcats will eat cat food!

At the same house, my Mom’s neighbor had ducks and geese in a pen. The neighbor woke up one morning at the crack of dawn and all of the geese and ducks were dead and a bobcat was fast asleep in the pen. The bobcat had come in the night and had gone on a killing frenzy on all of the penned up birds. He never intended to eat all of those birds. Predators will sometimes go on a killing frenzy if they are with a lot of easy targets.

The bobcat woke up quickly and was gone in a streak.

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Filed under Animals, California, Carnivores, Felids, Lions, Mammals, North America, Regional, USA, West, Wild