-- June 23, 2012- Rockets in the South, Developments in Syria, Demonstrations in Tel Aviv

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Israel Update
A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

June 23, 2012- Rockets in the South, Developments in Syria, Demonstrations in Tel Aviv

This Shabbat was not a quiet one in southern Israel. Over 20 missiles fell there, many of them on S'derot. The town of S’derot had been spared in the recent exchanges. However this time, Hamas, who has taken responsibility for the attacks, chose to attack S'derot and other targets close to the border, instead of the larger cities, which are well defended by Iron Dome. Similar missile exchanges have been taking place every 3 months. This most recent exchange, which started on Thursday, has lasted longer than any recent exchange. As of 8 pm tonight (Israel time), Hamas announced that a ceasefire was going into effect. Of course, a few minutes before 8PM they fired a volley of rockets into Israel. Israel has no interest in intensifying the current round. The events in Egypt and Syria, together with Putin's scheduled visit to Israel this coming week, argue for restraint. Clearly, by the time you read this blog entry it may be out of date.

Events in Syria took a couple of interesting turns in the last two days. First, there was the defection of a Syrian Air Force squadron commander to Jordan. The pilot, a full colonel, said: "he could no longer support the government's actions. " The defection of one of Assad's elite shows that cracks could be developing at the top of the Syrian leadership.

The second, the downing of a Turkish jet by the Syrians provides the Turks with just the sort of provocation they needed to become more directly involved in actions against the Syrian government.

Lastly, Friday, a group of protestors, including Daphne Leif, tried to erect tents on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv. The Israel police arrested Leif, using what was clearly excessive force. If protestors needed a provocation to start this summer's protest, they received it. Tonight they responded with a major demonstration in Tel Aviv. See my first hand account in the Times of Israel.

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