Israeli News: A Daily Analysis

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

January 27, 2009--Hamas Tests Israel By Attacking Israeli Soldiers

Hamas tested the ceasefire with Israel today. It either directly or indirectly placed an explosive device on the border fence. The attack killed one IDF soldier and wounded another two. In Israel, there were calls for a strong reaction. The Minister of Foreign Relations and one of the main candidates for Prime Minister in the upcoming elections, Tzipi Livni called Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and demanded an immediate severe response.

According to sources, the IDF presented Minister of Defense and candidate for Prime Minister Ehud Barak a series of proposals. Those same sources claim that Barak approved the actions and the IDF is expected to carry them out in the coming hours and days. Reports from Gaza say that whichever members of the Hamas leadership that have come out of hiding now have gone back into hiding. Late tonight Israel responded by bombing the tunnels under the border to Egypt.

It should be noted that the Israeli soldier who was killed was Bedouin. His family asked that his name not be broadcast for fear of retribution within the Bedouin community. With the rise of radical Islam both within and outside Israel, serving in the IDF is not as popular inside that community as it once was.

Observers believe that Hamas decided to take this action to demonstrate their frustration with the Egyptian position in the negotiations over the cease-fire agreement. Hamas has not been willing to agree to any of Cairo's demands, including a multiyear ceasefire and an ending of the arms struggle. One of the demands was that Hamas fighters do not approach to border fence to place charges. Egypt is not budging and now considers Hamas a mortal enemy; they are acting accordingly.

On the political side of things, today the election campaign ads on Israeli television began. The real news however, was the announcement by Shas that they would recommend to the President that Netanyahu be selected to form the next government. Kadima was happy with the announcement. It makes their argument easier to make that Netanyahu will form a rightist government. It further opens Netanyahu up for the attack, that voting for Likud includes giving in to Shas' demands. It also complicates MK Avigdor Lieberman's election campaign. Lieberman's constituents are very anti-religious and thus will have a hard time giving in to Shas' demands.