There may be no more fecund metaphor for President Obama’s recent (and remarkable) trip to the Levant than the story of a Gaza rocket that was fired into Israel during the second day of his visit. With the collective focus on the presidential trip and much of the country already preparing for the Passover holiday, police didn’t discover the rocket until yesterday. Where was it hiding? A kindergarten in Sderot.
“We condemn this violation of the important ceasefire that protects both Israelis and Palestinians, a violation Hamas has a responsibility to prevent,” Obama said as he arrived in Ramallah.
Since the much heralded trip ended, the initial forward momentum held for a bit. News of a budding Turkish-Israel détente gave some hope. But reality keeps getting in the way. With Egypt weakened by critical shortages in supplies and a faltering economy began to cast doubt on the country’s ability to help maintain a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. That ceasefire was breached again by the firing of rockets from Gaza into southern Israel yesterday, bringing about a response by the Israeli Air Force on Gaza last night, and the launching of two more rockets from Gaza today. Neither rocket caused any physical damage, but after months of relative calm, the other tolls were obvious.
Further punctuating the regional crisis, at the end of the weekend, during which a 2,000-year-old synagogue in Damascus was looted and torched, a mortar shell fired from Syria landed in the Golan Heights. Neither the source nor the intended target of the mortar fire is known, but amid fears that the civil war in Syria might spill over into Israel’s north, this was not a good sign.