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July 16, 2014 Day Nine of War with Hamas- The New Normal?

Today is the ninth day of the war between Hamas and Israel. It's the ninth day that missiles were fired at Tel Aviv and the ninth day that all of those missiles were downed by Iron Dome. Other parts of Israel were not as lucky. However, thankfully, today no one was wounded, due to the fact that Israelis (in an uncharacteristic manner) have been following the instructions of the Home Front Command and taking cover in secure places whenever the sirens go off. The residents of Gaza, of course, were not as lucky. While Israel continues to attack the Hamas – in response to their attacks on Israel – Gaza's civilians continue to be wounded or killed. Tonight the news in Israel is dominated by the reports of what seems to be the result of a tragic mistake, in which four children were killed on a beach of Gaza.

Today was the first day since the war began that I ventured far from my home in Tel Aviv. This morning I had a meeting in Jerusalem, a meeting I decided not to delay. As I headed to the bus station (a 20 minute walk from my house), I kept making what, in normal times, would be considered a ridiculous decision – should I walk on the side of the street with shade, but where it would be difficult to find shelter if the sirens go off, or should I just walk in the sun. When I got to the bus station, for the first time in my memory the bus was only half full when it left for Jerusalem. Clearly people are staying inside and not venturing far from home. My major concern in traveling was not for my safety, but rather, my fear of an attack on Tel Aviv while I was away. Sure enough, as the bus reached the halfway point to Jerusalem (a 50-minute ride), my phone rang. My son was on the phone. The sirens were going off and he, my wife, and the guests staying with us were in the secure location. I stayed on the phone with him until he heard nine explosions (the biggest consecutive number of the war), each explosion representing another successful missile interception. Jerusalem seemed more relaxed than Tel Aviv. Rockets have been fired at Jerusalem, but not nearly as frequently as on Tel Aviv. When I returned to Tel Aviv in the afternoon I met one of my closest friends for coffee. Next week he is heading off to a quieter place- Kiev – to consult for the government of Ukraine. Sitting drinking coffee in the financial district of Tel Aviv it was hard to believe that multiple missiles had been fired on the city just hours before.

So where are we headed? Tonight Hamas officially rejected the Egyptian ceasefire plan. They have countered with demands that go far beyond what anyone would even consider. There continue to be mediation efforts by the Egyptians. The U.S. had been working with Qatar and Turkey, who Hamas is happy to have involved, but whose involvement both Egypt and Israel categorically oppose. Tonight there seem to be additional efforts in Cairo to reach an agreement. The Israeli government is still optimistic that a ceasefire can be reached. However, the Israeli government has been consistently wrong about the intentions of Hamas over the past few weeks. Prime Minister Netanyahu is very reluctant to send ground troops into Gaza, despite the fact that his reluctance is costing him support from his traditional right wing supporters. At this point Hamas does not seem to have any intention of agreeing to a ceasefire, and Israel really does not want to invade. Something is going to have to give. The "new normal" cannot continue. The economic and psychological costs on Israel are too high. Israel’s current actions have not deterred the Hamas. Tonight the government approved the draft of an additional 8,000 reservists. Does that mean that Israel is about to send in ground troops? It seems unlikely, at least in the next 48 hours.



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