12/20/15 Assasination & Rockets in the North, Silvan Shalom Resigns
It’s been a busy news cycle in Israel. Today began with the announcement of the assassination of Samir Kuntar, the terrorist released in the exchange for the bodies of our soldiers killed at the start of the Second Lebanon War – and who had murdered a four-year-old Israeli and his father in 1979, in Nahariya. The assassination was executed by way of a missile that destroyed the house in which Kuntar had been staying, in a Damascus suburb. Hezbollah, the terror organization for which Kuntar has ostensibly been working, claimed Israel had carried out the assassination – a charge officially and vigorously denied by Israel’s spokesman.
Nevertheless, the expectation in Israel was that Hezbollah would retaliate by attacking here. As expected, late this afternoon three katusha rockets were fired into Israel from Lebanon, landing near Nahariya and causing no damage. Tonight, one of the Palestinian organizations operating in Lebanon took responsibility for firing the katushas – Though, the rocket launch probably could not have been successful, without at least the tacit approval of Hezbollah. Israel hopes these retaliatory rockets are the end of this round violence. Of course, in the very volatile world of the Middle East nothing can be certain.
The likelihood that Hezbollah will want to get into an extended confrontation with Israel at this time is considered low – taking into account the fact that Hezbollah is bogged down in Syria, (according to some reports, having lost 1,000 men in the Syrian Civil War to date.) That being said, one thing is essential to always to remember – i.e. in this part of the world conventional wisdom often has a habit of being wrong.
In domestic affairs, Interior Minister/Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom was forced to resign tonight after an ever-growing chorus of women (as of tonight the count is 11) have come forward with claims they had been sexually harassed by Shalom at various points over the course of the last ten years. Shalom had been forced to withdraw his name from consideration for Israel’s Presidency 8 months ago, when similar allegations were made. The general public was led to believe Shalom was in the clear, when the Attorney General decided there was no reason to prosecute. The recent resignation of Yinon Magal from the Knesset, after being accused of less serious harassment charges, opened the door for Shalom’s accusers to come forward. I am happy to say that Israel has made tremendous progress in this area.
… and while all this was going on, the stabbings continue…