Sunday, November 18, 2012

Missiles on Tel Aviv

Contrary to what the media may be implying, air attacks on Israel's cities and towns aren't actually anything new. True, in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 there were no attacks on Israel's cities, and in 1982 there were no such attacks on the large cities in central Israel. Nor in the short war of 1956, for those of our readers who even remember that there was such a campaign. But in WW2, in 1948, in 1967, in 1991, and of course in 2006 and 2009, air attacks on Israeli urban civilians were integral parts of the wars. Not to mention places such as Beit Shean, Nahariya or Kiryat Shemona, whose citizens spent years or even decades under hostile fire; and not to mention non-aerial attacks such as bombs in rubbish bins, mines planted under roads, and of course suicide bombers.

What is a bit curious, if one takes the time to stop and think about it, is the matter of the world's response. When do foriegn media feel attacks on Israeli citizens newsworthy, and why then and not at other times? Even more interesting, when do foreign leaders feel a need to demonstrate solidarity, and when can't they be bothered?
President Herzog visits the site of a SCUD missile hit
(Government Press Office)
The most extreme case of foreign concern was probably the month in early 1991 (mid-January to mid-February) during which Iraq launched 39 SCUD missiles with relatively large payloads at Israel, most of them at Greater Tel Aviv, some at Haifa. Only one Israeli civilian was killed, but the missiles damaged thousands of apartments and seriously disrupted normal life. All warring sides in Operation Desert Storm (of which Israel wasn't) had an interest in Israel's response. Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir, recognized that the American-led coalition was going to beat the Iraqi military with or without Israeli intervention, while an Israeli response would hamper the Arab participation in the coalition's effort, and so held back and refrained from any military response.

Out of concern that Israel might not restrain itself, or because of the obvious cynicism of the Iraqi ploy, or for whatever other reason, Israel was inundated with international support. Here, for example, is an exchange of letters (in English) between the German president, Dr. Richard von Weizsacker, and his Israeli counterpart, Haim Herzog. File נ-426/23

1 comment:

  1. Those were incredibly personal messages. Far more so than I imagined either president would ever send. Thanks for making them available to all.

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