Nov 27, 2008

November 2008 Israel News Review

By David Dolan

The Egyptian-mediated ceasefire between Israel and the radical Hamas movement came close to collapse during November as a torrent of Palestinian rockets once again came crashing down on Israeli civilian centers near the Gaza Strip. The city of Ashkelon was struck several times, along with many other locations, prompting the Israeli government to seal off the small coastal zone. Meanwhile a respected Middle East Arab leader warned that an allegedly pending major Israeli military operation into the crowded Gaza Strip could spark serious instability in the troubled region.

As always in recent years, Israeli officials also kept a wary eye on Iran as the New York Times reported that the country was now technically able to produce a nuclear weapon. This came as United Nations officials announced that trace amount of radiation were discovered at the site of a Syrian complex bombed by Israeli air force jets in September last year.

In the north, military tensions remained high between Israeli army forces and the Lebanese Shiite Hizbullah militia amid more warlike words from the extremist group’s clerical leaders. Hundreds of Hizbullah forces reportedly staged provocative military exercises near the border with Israel in late November in violation of the UN ceasefire resolution which ended the group’s 2006 conflict with Israel.

In the wake of the fresh Palestinian rocket attacks and threats of the same from Iran, Syria and Hizbullah—but on a far more dangerous scale—Israel’s political scene was alive with activity as the campaign began for a new national parliamentary vote, scheduled for February 10, 2009. Opinion surveys continued to predict that the conservative Likud party will emerge victorious in the contest, along with its traditional right wing and religious allies.