Apparently, Israel's tourist industry, a mainstay of the country's economy, is going to take a bath this year because nobody wants to go where there's a war going on. Fortune Magazine reports that Israel's tourist industry "is bracing for a $100 million loss during its prime travel months of July, August and September." Hotel managers are giving out pink slips to staff to soften their losses.
Early in the article, Amy Kaslow notes that "Hamas continues to lob rockets into cities, along the seashore, rural areas, and the desert, sending people fleeing for cover, while the Israeli Defense Forces strike Hamas targets in Gaza, causing collateral damage to the civilian population."
"Hamas LOBS; Israel STRIKES. As one commenter on the Israeli tourist problem notes, "These 'missiles' are more like bottle rockets. They are fired to keep their claim to their homeland current .. the same reason China fires mostly harmless rockets towards Taiwan. If the Palestinians skipped a few years of firing these mostly symbolic rockets, the world would soon start treating their claim as seriously as it does that of the Cherokee. What would you have them do instead of firing the rockets?"
106 and 122 millimeter Katyushas are antiquated, unguided rockets. I remember them from my time in Vietnam. Let's do a little easy math: Hamas is supposed to have about 10,000 missiles left. At the current rate of Iron Dome interceptions versus Hamas lobbing they'll need roughly 3000 $60,000-per missiles.
Okay, that's only $180 million, a mere drop in the bucket. A single member of the super-rich with Israeli sympathies could buy the entire operation by selling off some mid-size company! Sheldon Adelson was worth $36.8 billion last time I looked. He could pick up the tab for the entire Iron Dome system, R+D to current missile expenditures, and STILL buy the 2016 US Presidential election, now that the CU decision allows him to do it.
The system is indeed virtually foolproof. Two Israeli civilians and one Thai fellow who was just working there have been killed. One at a gas station.
The Israelis are having tailgate parties at Siderot watching the airstrikes. They may go to the shelters when the sirens go off-- that's just prudent, most people know to go to shelters here in America when tornadoes approach-- but as with American tornado-watchers, they KNOW that they are at very low risk of being hurt.
There is a way for Israel to win this war-- for it is a war, a war on a place way smaller than the average US county but with 1.7 million people in it--- without significantly more Palestinian civilian damage. That way is to enlist the aid of the United States Landsat system, which can practically read the date on a quarter from space, and which can place the entire border of the 139-square mile spot of land under constant surveillance.
With the missile-lobbing problem under control-- and it is, for cheap, if they didn't want to elicit sympathy: "oh, our children have to go to the shelters!"-- The IDF would not have to enter Gaza because they could then wait for Hamas to exit the tunnels, which can be discovered from space without physical reconnaissance, and deal with them as they emerge.
I don't suppose our "compassionate interventionist" neocon fellow-traveler John Kerry has thought of proposing this to Bibi Netanyahu without blabbing it all over the world. He is SO wretchedly unqualified for the job of chief diplomat of the United States.
Israel could thus wait Hamas completely out, while killing all die-hards that emerge from the tunnels that are being destroyed now anyway. Let them fire their stash. And then when they run out, tell the Palestinian people, "we have waited until the bad people among you have run out of missiles. For all of our sakes, Palestinians, reject Hamas."
There is, of course, the related but separate problem of Islamic Jihad, who will NOT listen even to the Palestinians. They have their own agenda, and Hamas sees fit to work with them.
Of course, if Israel would halt settlements on the West Bank, Hamas MIGHT stop its desperate, symbolic rocket-lobbing.
I think the idea that Hamas wants to have more civilians die because it keeps the cause alive may have some political plausibility, but the fact is, Hamas can not hurt Israel, and can virtually not hurt Israelis, unless they are IDF soldiers in the process of an invasion. Israel can blow Gaza off the map, and in a single day if it chose. It is Israel that CAN kill, no matter what the Hamas "constitution" say about WANTING to kill Israelis.
As we speak there is no electricity in Gaza because Israel destroyed the only power plant. The next step is that there will be no water but raw sewage. We-- the world-- could be about to witness a much larger human tragedy in Gaza because of rampant disease.
This can still be stopped. Netanyahu must work with the country everyone knows Israel is working symbiotically with anyway to use the unlimited surveillance resources of the United States to withdraw the war from the civilian population of Gaza while neutralizing the hard-core fighters who will presume to attempt to enter Israel. And it must be done without anyone more significant than this columnist talking about it.
My name is William Perkins Homans the third, but probably more people know me as the bluesman (and artist) Watermelon Slim.
I've been in the fight against war, fascism, injustice and inhumanity for 47 years. I was at MayDay, 1971, and at the moratorium March the week before. I was one of the leaders of the Great New Jersey (more...)