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The Cats Are Bouncing

More than ten Qassam rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel this morning. Add these to the rocket launched last week and to the attack on an IDF patrol near the Gaza border, and those claiming that the Gaza operation was a huge success have a problem. The debate, though, is not over. Here’s Martin Kramer:

Israel’s primary objective was to compel a cease-fire by means of deterrence alone, without opening the crossings, thus serving its long-term strategy of containing and undercutting Hamas. This it has achieved, so far.

This will only be a convincing argument, if rockets aren’t fired at Israel. Politically speaking – and 10 days before election day politics is king – the attacks create a whole new problem for Labor’s Ehud Barak, now in the midst of a fight to recover his party’s credentials. It is still too early to know if the Gaza op was a huge success, a minor success, a failure, or a huge failure. Barak initially called the increased hostility from Gaza a “dead-cat bounce,” but has since threatened a “disproportionate response” to the rocket fire.

If the war was a success – Barak is the one getting the credit. If there’s doubt – there’s less credit from which to benefit. And every rocket attack casts some more doubt, this helps Likud’s Binyamin Netanyahu and Israel Beiteinu’s Avigdor Lieberman.

It’s no wonder Labor politicians were first to go on the airwaves and call for harsh responses to the new attacks:

Following the attack, Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer called for an immediate IDF response. “We need to respond severely and immediately… Hamas must pay for this,” he told Army Radio, adding that no one should give the excuse that a smaller faction was responsible for the attack.

Ben-Eliezer is one of Barak’s greatest supporters within the Labor Party. Reading the polls, he knows that Barak’s mini-surge in  can also easily become a dead-cat bounce.


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