Today things got deadly again on the Israel-Gaza border. A roadside bomb was set off against an IDF patrol, killing one soldier and wounding three others. In response, Israel returned fire, and later wounded or killed a Hamas terrorist on a motorcycle. The IDF warns that a more serious response is in the works.
Just two weeks before the elections, Israel’s Kadima-led government faces a really difficult set of choices. By failing to remove the Hamas government, the entire success of the war rides on having achieved some kind of deterrence. But this means that when the terrorists attack (and this attack was either carried out by Hamas or with their approval), Israel has to respond with strong, disproportionate force. Otherwise, the entire war looks like a big mistake.
And yet, the government is desperately trying to reach a deal that will release Gilad Shalit before the elections. To this end, the Israelis (according to radio reports) have capitulated on many of Hamas’s demands. But then again, if the government releases the full list of around 1000 prisoners that Hamas had asked for, that wouldn’t really make the government look too good either.
Today is the official start of Israel’s political campaigns — every night, we’ll be watching the respective parties’ campaign ads. Right now, the polls give the Likud a comfortable lead, and Israeli polls tend to have a kind of Bradley effect of their own, tilting left compared with election results. It will take something very dramatic to give Kadima the reins again. But crazier things have happened.