5/26/15 Ground Hog Summer? Missile Fired at Ashdod

by Marc Schulman

For the past few months there have been discussions (primarily in jest), that since summer was nearing, we would soon be engaged in another war. For most of us, this war-prep banter seemed like a joke. Suddenly, a short time ago, that “joke” became much more real. This evening, all of a sudden, our smartphones (and my son’s Apple watch) were going off with notifications of “Red Alerts”. Red Alert sirens were sounded throughout the South of the country – including a city 30 miles south of Tel Aviv, where there were reports of explosions, indicating a rocket landed somewhere near Ashdod. After an initial period of confusion, it became clear that one rocket was fired from Gaza City, landing near Ashdod. After months of quiet, lasting from the end of this summer’s war, a rocket unexpectedly landed inside Israel, far from the Gaza border.

Suddenly, the idea we might have a war again this summer does not seem so far-fetched. Of course, all of the commentators have been quick to reassure the public that no one wants a war, and that the rocket was either fired by one of the groups who oppose Hamas, or alternatively, by Hamas itself, to remind everyone they are still here and cannot be ignored … but again, commentators emphasized – no one wants war. This may be true. However, sitting in Tel Aviv I remember hearing the exact same assessments last year, in the weeks leading up to the beginning of the war.

There was no logical reason for last year’s war in Gaza. The Hamas achieved nothing from the war, and yet, it happened. I cannot not see a logical reason why Hamas would want a war again this summer – their situation is even worse than it was last year. They have rebuilt their rocket arsenal, but Hamas’ relations with Egypt are even worse than they were a year ago, (which has made it practically impossible to smuggle any materials into Gaza.)

One of the theories above may be true. However, the trigger behind all actions are not always rational. Many wars have started either because of a misunderstanding, or because the two sides were operating from different play books. There is no doubt that tonight Israel will respond with an attack on Gaza. Will Israel’s response end the current exchange? One eight year old told his father that it was too bad there were wars in the summer, when he was off from school, and not during the winter, so he would miss days of school.

If I were a betting man, I would still bet that there will not be a war this summer. Though as a Tel Avivan who lived here through last summer, that’s not a bet I would like to make. Hopefully, this summer will be quiet, and the only thing we will have to worry about is the oppressively hot weather (tomorrow’s forecast alleges a temperature of 104ºF in Tel Aviv). Still, we must remain aware of the fact that our “Tel Aviv bubble” is located in the middle of the Middle East; a Middle East where none of the events of the last three years were predicted by the experts. So, as Americans kicked off the summer season in the U.S. this past weekend, those of us in Tel Aviv look toward this summer, with at least a tinge of trepidation that last summer might repeat itself.