Israel Is Sort Of a Little Bit at War Again

As events in Libya monopolize overseas news, very light coverage has been given to the ongoing battle between Israel and Hamas.  It started with a series of terror attacks launched from Egyptian territory last week, but even as the spotlight shifted to Tripoli, the violence continued to escalate.  The Associated Press reports on the current situation:

Violence along the Gaza-Israel border heated up on Wednesday, with Israeli airstrikes on militant targets and militant rocket fire at Israel.

Israeli media reported that security forces sent down reinforcements to the area. A music festival that was to be held in the southern city of Ashkelon was canceled, conforming with military recommendations against large gatherings in tense security times, the military said.

Israeli aircraft killed a militant from Gaza’s Islamic Jihad faction before dawn on Wednesday, Hamas security officials said. They later targeted two militants who had fired two mortars at Israel shortly before. No casualties were reported in that airstrike.

It seems rather odd to refer to people who launch rockets at civilian populations as “militants.”  That term sounds rather defensive in nature, and it has connections to legitimate political activity.  We speak occasionally of “militant feminists,” “militant pro-life activists,” and other militant groups on every side of cultural and political debates.

The proper term for Israel’s opponents in the Gaza Strip is “terrorists,” but of course there are significant factions in the media who don’t want to stigmatize them with that name… especially since the United Nations is preparing to recognize them as a legitimate state in September.  I wonder if Hamas and its allies will suspend its efforts to murder Israeli civilians on that day, or at least slow them down long enough to pose for some nice statesmanlike photos.

The “militant” killed by Israeli air strikes on Wedensday was Ismael al-Asmar of Islamic Jihad.  According to a report in Haaretz, he was the money man for the deadly attacks launched from the Sinai last week, and he was preparing to organize another such attack.

The new tactic of launching terror strikes out of Egypt has made the situation even more tense.  Three of the terrorists who participated in the original attacks were Egyptian citizens, and some of the attackers were wearing Egyptian army uniforms.   Several Egyptian security officers were inadvertently killed during the Israeli response, leading to a formal apology… which the Egyptian government declared “insufficient.” 

There were large demonstrations outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo.  A protester took down the Israeli flag, replaced it with an Egyptian flag, and proceeded to burn the Israeli flag.  The peace between Egypt and Israel has been imperiled ever since the fall of Mubarak.  Israel’s terrorists enemies would have to be fools not to take advantage of those tensions, and do what they can to make things worse.

The Israelis are not happy with the deteriorating security situation in the Sinai.  It adds a dangerous new wrinkle to the defense of a nation that isn’t supposed to respond aggressively to bloody attacks against its civilians, whether they come from interior territories or foreign soil.  Unlike every other nation on Earth, they’re not even supposed to call it “war.”