A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
March 22 2011 Katzav Sentenced to Seven Years, Situation on Gaza Border Worsens, Demonstrations in Syria
Netanyahu Treads WaterThe Israeli news had a hard time deciding what was the most important story of the day today. The morning began with the sentencing of former President Katzav to a 7 year jail sentence for rape. The sentence was longer than many observers were expecting, but is in line with sentences given for similar crimes. Israel now has a former Finance Minister in jail for bribery; a former Prime Minister involved amidst multiple trials, and former President going to jail for rape. That listing only includes the most important of those who have been charged or convicted recently. While all have hailed the fact the Israeli judiciary worked, and it did, there are deeper questions that need to be asked: primarily, how did we get to this? There was a discordant sound in the Knesset today when one of the members of Shas said he should have not been sentenced, and that according to Jewish law a rape had not taken place. No comment.
By the afternoon, unfortunately, the Katzav news was replaced by reports from the Gaza border. First reports were on the firing of mortars by Hamas, followed by Israeli retaliation with mortar fire (not clear why anyone would order an imprecise mortar used). The retaliation killed four civilians (3 of them children), when one of the mortars went off course. The IDF apologized. Hamas then retaliated, by shooting a Grad missile at Ashdod, which missed. Things are very close to spiraling out of control.
Meanwhile, in Syria, demonstrations continued against the Assad government. The demonstrations today are said to have spread from the South West corner of the country to the suburbs of Damascus. There are some knowledgeable observers in Israel who believe events are now reaching the point that the rule of the Assad family may be endangered. The fear wall seems to have been broken.