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Snugly asleep at 5:30 on Wednesday morning, I was awoken by sirens that rang through Beersheva. By the time, groggy, I made it to the stairs of the apartment building, heading down to the air-raid shelter, I and other groggy, semi-dressed people around me heard the boom, sounding very near.
It was a Grad rocket fired from Gaza. It landed in a private yard—indeed not far from us—and a man who saw the explosion from his third-story window was injured by shrapnel. Beersheva schools were closed for the day.
Another Grad from Gaza hit Beersheva four hours later, this time with no damage.
These two Grads were part of a larger barrage of southern Israel: a Grad had also landed near Ashdod Tuesday night, causing no damage, and another seven mortar shells struck the region on Wednesday. During Tuesday, amid a general escalation stretching back to the weekend and earlier, Israeli planes had hit terrorist targets in Gaza, killing nine including four civilians.
Not surprisingly, on such days all Israelis with access to a TV turn it on periodically to see if there’s further news. Wednesday afternoon, there was: this time it was a bus being bombed in Jerusalem, killing a 60-year-old woman and injuring dozens, some seriously. The bomb appears to have been left inside a bag beside a telephone pole, the bomber—for the time being—to have escaped.
Not long ago, as anti-regime protests broke out first in Tunisia and then in Egypt, Israel was criticized by liberals like Thomas Friedman and Peter Beinart, and neoconservatives like Elliott Abrams and Paul Wolfowitz, for not showing enthusiasm over a purported wave of democracy sweeping the Arab world. But of course it’s hard to celebrate under such circumstances. And there’s a strong connection between those circumstances and the supposed “democratic” developments—and not a positive one from Israel’s standpoint.
Various reasons have been adduced for Hamas’s (whether or not it was responsible for the Jerusalem bomb) current escalation of terror, including a desire to deflect popular discontent over its inability to reunite with the Fatah movement that rules the West Bank. Undoubtedly in the mix, though, is the tailwind Hamas is feeling these days from its southwest, in the Land of the Nile, where hasty arrangements to hold elections in September are seen by all knowledgeable observers as favoring Hamas’s parent organization the Muslim Brotherhood—the virulently jihadist group that calls to wipe Israel off the map.
No, in Israel we have to disappoint the critics and admit that, amid the bombs bursting in air and in the streets, we’re not celebrating the advent of “Arab democracy.”
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