A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
February 3, 2009--Missile Hits Ashkelon, Concern About Hezbollah
Hamas fired a Grad rocket at Ashkelon today. This was the first time since the Israeli withdrawal that Ashkelon was hit. Israeli intelligence believes that this attack was either done directly by Hamas or under their direction. Israel responded with its most intensive air assault on Gaza since this round began. The attacks were designed to show that Israel would not stand for continued fire but the army is still of the belief that this is temporary and aa ceasefire will go into effect later this week. In the meantime, Hamas seems to be unable or unwilling to reach an agreement. The Egyptians have given Hamas until Friday to reach an agreement.
Meanwhile possibly all eyes are directed northward. As I wrote a few days ago, Israel is very concerned that Hezbollah is planning a major attack to coincide with the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh. Minister of Defense Barak traveled to the northern border today and warned Hezbollah that if there was any attack Israel, would respond not only against Hezbollah but targets of the state of Lebanon since Hezbollah was part of the government. I do not think we can look at the events individually. Haled Meshal, the head of Hamas, is now in Teheran. Iran is the underlying supporter of both Hamas and Hezbollah. Israel needs to be concerned that there is some coordination between Hamas heating up the South and the possibility that something may take place in the North.
Iran had its first successful satellite launch today. As one Israeli expert described it, this was the Iranian equivalent of the Sputnik with the same limited capabilities of that satellite. While this has no immediate effect on the Iranian ability to hit Israel, it does give Iran the potential capability of striking any target on the globe.
An election campaign that was considered by many as a done deal has become a little more interesting in the last few days. Internal polls in both Likud and Kadima show a narrowing between the two parties. A new poll released today by Globes shows a significant drop for Likud and rises for Lieberman, Labor and Meretz. Lieberman's party seems this year's "in thing". Reports claiming that MK Lieberman will soon be indicted seem only to increase his lore to the protest voter.
Today marks the 7th anniversary of the beheading of Daniel Pearl. His mother wrote an op-ed piece in today's Wall Street Journal. It is worth reading.. Daniel Pearl and the Normalization of Evil