Israeli News: A Daily Analysis

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

February 1, 2009--Thirteen Missiles and Mortars Fired at Israel

Thirteen rockets and mortars hit Israel today. Three IDF soldiers and one civilian were wounded. One rocket fell next to the entrance of a kindergarten but luckily it failed to explode.

The Israeli government seems divided on how to respond. Prime Minister Olmert announced that Israel will respond in a disproportional manner to the attack. Minister of Foreign Affairs Livni has stated that she wants a very strong response. The army is ready to respond but it wants to limit the response, in order to limit the possibility of another round of attacks. The defense establishment believes that the attacks are the last string of attacks before a full ceasefire goes into effect.

The ceasefire discussions are being negotiated in Egypt, where supposedly a one year ceasefire is on the table. The agreement will include Palestinian Authority representatives at the border crossings and a true effort by the Egyptians to end the smuggling. The sense is this agreement may be in place on Thursday.

Hamas is clearly being pulled two ways. On one side is Iran's view of the war and the other side is Egypt's. The Iranians have been pushing the notion that this has been a big victory for Hamas. On his victory tour around the Middle East, Hamas leader Haled Mashel has been claiming that the fact that Hamas has managed to stay in power proves them victorious. On the other hand, Egypt has been making it very clear in any way it can that this was a defeat for Hamas. They have been publicly debating Hamas members who support the view that this has been a victory. An Egyptian said on television, "If you say that having 100 Palestinians killed for every Israeli, having 40,000 homes destroyed and every bit of industry in Gaza eliminated is a victory, then you are just a fool".

A very high alert has gone out worldwide warning that Hezbollah is planning to kidnap an Israeli somewhere in the world in the next week. There have been both signs of an operation being planned and a speech by Nasrallah stating that he wants to open the file on body exchanges, claiming that Israel is still holding Lebanese bodies. With the one year anniversary of the killing of Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyah approaching next week, the fear is that this attack will take place very soon.

The election is a week away. Every Israeli analysis thinks this election campaign is taking place in a stupor. There is no enthusiasm, no rallies, and it seems that no one really cares. The parties are broke and do not have money to run a campaign. The two interesting things happening are strong fight on the right between Yisrael Beteinu, led by Avigdor Lieberman which in the last few days seems to gaining, and the Likud. Over the last few days, Livni has been trying to do outreach to women and to the younger population. Livni even made a bar tour in the Tel Aviv port on Thursday night to try to reach the younger generation.