Beyond the Cusp

July 26, 2014

World News as Heard on Israel Radio

Before we get to the news, a little note about many Israeli radio stations; they are also connected to the government “Code Red” warning system where when a rocket or missile launch has been detected, the government warning is given over the music, news, commercials or whatever is being broadcast by the station without blanking out the station broadcast. Where you might think that such would make the warnings difficult to understand, trust when I tell you that you definitely will hear if your town, village, city, kibbutz or junction is called out for a possible strike. If you live in Sderot or the Kibbutzim and farms close to Gaza you have fifteen seconds to be in a shelter before the explosions might start. What is absolutely amazing is that even with that little amount of a warning the Iron Dome system is still capable of intercepting the projectiles with a better than 80% interception success rate. Tel Aviv has almost a full minute from the Code Red alarm to make it to a shelter. Imagine being on the twenty-third or, in the tallest skyscraper in Tel Aviv, fifty-third floor and hearing the Code Red and then what. So you have a shelter on your floor, what if it is one of the largest of Hamas’s rockets and it hits your building around the third floor taking out about two-thirds of that floor and the one above and below it. Your safe room prevents rockets from sending shrapnel and stop a direct hit but only for the smaller warheads, not the FADJR-5 (a 333mm rocket with a 90kg (200lbs) warhead and range of 75km (46 mile)) or worse the M302 (a 302mm rocket with a 150kg (330lbs) and a range of 150km (93.5 mile)) which are beyond the capabilities of most safe rooms and one is only safe from these in an actual shelter. Worse yet, should one of the M302 escape interception and strike in Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Haifa, Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva, Ashkelon, Hadera, Netanya or many areas of central Israel where many tall building have been constructed and have to rely on safe rooms hopefully on every floor, you are not protected from the building collapsing thus Israel is potentially one unintercepted rocket from potentially over a thousand deaths. With that in mind, let us get to the news of the world as heard on Israeli radio during this conflict.

The investigation and identification of those who died in the shooting down of Malaysian Flight 17 in the Eastern Ukraine continues today. The bodies are being loaded onto trains to be transported and put on flights returning them to their homelands. It is expected that the pro-Russian rebels will release the flight’s black boxes to (Code Red Sderot, Code Red Ashdod, Code Red Ashkelon) Malaysian investigators. While the black boxes are expected to reveal detailed data on the moments before Flight 17 was struck by the anti-aircraft missile, it is (Code Red Ashdod, Code Red Ashkelon, Code Red Tel Aviv) doubtful that much information about the exact events will be revealed as they would have basically not recorded anything after the strike.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators rioted once again today in Paris attacking police with bottles and stones. Some of the demonstrators broke away from the area and marched on a Paris synagogue where they shouted anti-Semitic chants taunting congregants inside the synagogue to come out and fight. They also threw objects at the synagogue including one firebomb. The building did not catch fire and minimal damage was incurred as the demonstrators were eventually removed by the Paris police.

President Obama cancelled his scheduled appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s program stating that (Code Red Tel Aviv, Code Red Hadera, Code Red Netanya, Code Red Herzliya) it would be improper for him to appear on a comedy show with world events as they are. The President spoke with the press on his flight between fund raisers he is attending while in California.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and United States Secretary of State Kerry met between trips to Cairo, Qatar, Tel Aviv and other stops during their efforts to put together a ceasefire which would be acceptable to both Hamas and the Israelis. Both men expressed regrets and concerns over the mounting civilian casualties within the Gaza Strip and called on Israel to show the necessary restraint to end the needless bloodshed. Secretary of State Kerry has been talking with Egyptian leaders trying to get them to agree to back and present conditions for a ceasefire which have been crafted by Turkey and Qatar. There has been a hope that a possible humanitarian ceasefire could be reached for over the weekend despite the fact that both Hamas and Israel have thus far refused to sign on to any proposal thus far.

Both the United States Federal Aviation Agency and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency set travel restrictions to and from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport citing the rocket strike which demolished a home just over a (Code Red Sderot, Code Red Sa’ad, Code Red Qiiryat Gat)  mile from the busy airport. Both agencies said they would be taking precautions on a day by day basis with the determination based on the perceived potential of threats to flights at the Israeli international hub. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed his dismay and concern over the ramifications and potential harm to the Israeli economy, especially the tourism sectors. There has been some hinting that the move was more political than safety oriented as there have been no such bans from flights in and out of other international airports which pose a much greater threat than at Ben Gurion. The commentary has revolved around the fact that at Pakistani international airports there have been attacks on aircraft using anti-aircraft missiles and the threat to flights in and out of Syria’s Damascus International Airport or Baghdad International Airport where anti-aircraft missiles have been employed by terrorist and rebel forces while the rocket which landed in the general area of Ben Gurion International Airport was not an anti-aircraft missile and there has been no anti-aircraft missile threats within Israel at all.

The weather report for Israel tomorrow (Code Red Sderot, Code Red Eilat, Code Red Be’er Sheva, Code Red Netivot, Code Red Rahat) it will continue to be hot in the south and pleasant along the coast with cooler temperatures in the north. Jerusalem will have a slight chance…

This should give one a taste of what Israelis have had to live with for the past seven plus weeks, almost three weeks before Israel launched their initial retaliatory airstrike. The Israelis living in Sderot and surrounding region have lived with the Code Red sirens for the past eighteen months. Many children in Sderot refuse to leave the shelters and others simply will not leave their rooms often even remaining in their beds. The numbers of cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) amongst children in these communities is so above normal, which is quite understandable, that the rates have startled the professionals and the severity of many of the cases has entered into new grounds. These cases of trauma will now be spreading further throughout Israel as the rockets are striking several times each day over seventy percent of Israel. Only the extreme northern towns such as Ma’alot, Nahariya, Safed, and surrounding towns and kibbutzim as well as the Golan Heights, which has its own problems with mortars and artillery from the Syrian civil war sometimes straying and other times more intentionally striking within Israeli territory. If not for the miraculous performance and ingenious engineering along with the professionalism of the soldiers manning the Iron Dome anti-rocket and artillery interceptor systems the death toll in both Israel and Gaza would have been astronomically higher. Without the Iron Dome Israel would not have had the luxury of giving the United Nations, European Union and United States the three weeks to attempt to intervene and force Hamas to cease raining rockets down on Israelis. Prime Minister Netanyahu made numerous pleas to the leaders of the United States, European Union and United Nations as did numerous other Israeli officials including numerous ambassadors throughout Europe and the world and both the Israeli United Nations Ambassador Ron Prosor and Representative of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva Ambassador Eviatar Manor trying to get anybody to apply pressure and find some way of forcing Hamas to cease the rocket attacks. Nobody succeeded and this led to the Israeli response. As mentioned, without Iron Dome the Israeli losses would have been horrific and comparable to the losses in Gaza. This would have forced Israel to react sooner and with far greater force and less delicacy of warning the Palestinians when and where the next strikes would be targeting. The warnings would still have been made but with less lead time making the ability to take many possessions near to impossible. As things stand with Iron Dome, there have been times that Israeli warnings were given the day before a strike and most often giving the Palestinians at least half an hour and more when possible. The times when short notice was given were in response to an actual impending rocket launch where the strike became time sensitive and the short time warning was thus necessitated. Still, the only side in the Hamas Israel conflict giving notice of where and when there are strikes is Israel and strangely enough, Israel is often giving the Palestinian in Gaza more lead time with the warnings than Israelis receive of the Hamas rocket launches. This is because Israel can only warn of Hamas rockets once they have been launched and are in the air on their way while Israel can provide the citizens of Gaza longer lead times in the warnings as Israel sends the warnings before the planes are even fueled up and armed. Many Israelis probably wish they could have the same luxury of often hours warning instead of anywhere from fifteen seconds in Sderot to as much as two minutes at the farthest reaches in the north of the Hamas rocket strikes.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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