Monday, August 07, 2006

Changes in the shape of the war in Israel: breaking in slow mo'

Let me tell you, folks, reading the Israeli press takes some decoding skills that go beyond ability to sound out the words and understanding their dictionary definitions and grammatical meaning... ...there is also the culture to contend with. For instance, when the Prime Minister wants to leak something to the press, he is quoted as "a senior diplomatic source". When it's the Chief of Staff, it's "a senior military source". Everyone knows who is quoted, except for the foreign press... ...and no-one can be held to their statements. Very convenient...

Another example? Casualties. If no one has been killed, a battle will be described as "25 wounded at" wherever it was (ptzuim). However, if anyone has been killed, the description will appear as "25 hurt at" the place (nifga'im). So if you know what you're looking at. And if it's more than one or two killed, the radio stations switch their playlists to all Hebrew, all solemn music. It is a code, of sorts...

Well, here's a code I don't know how to decipher, but I'm sure that it is part of that coding system: there have been very odd news items and blog and forums posts from Israel over the past 20 hours or so. Very, very odd.

They all seem to involve denial by the Israeli police and military.

So, what are they denying? First thing in the morning, they sent a very calming message about a large explosion which occurred at about 6 a.m. in the center of Israel. "Just a controlled explosion, done under the supervision of the Israeli police" is what the newsflash items stated, at the forums, news sites, and blogs I reviewed. This makes no sense to me - why would the police permit a controlled explosion of a building in the Israeli equivalent of a New Jersey industrial park (I'm stretching the metaphor, here - about half of Israel's population lives within earshot of the expolosin, apparently) at six a.m. in the middle of a war and without peppering the country's five or six primary internet sites and newspapers with advance notices about this? Very strange.

The second thing that is being denied is that there is anything out of the ordinary in the air traffic over Tel-Aviv. And Jerusalem. Like the other, this was denited vehemently in statements by the IDF. Blogs and forums are full of people speculating what the actual reason for this could be. Speculation is high, primarily because a Hizbollah drone was shot down near Haifa earlier today. Drones have a notoriously weak radar footprint (if that's the word for it, correct me if you know more about this than I do) and the word is that the planes are flying low enough to intercept a drone. Or to intercept missiles.

Add this to the statement by Israel's Prime Minsiter, Olmert, that the war will now have no limits, no boundaries, and putting two and two together you get about 5.26, and change.

Interpretation, anyone? Sepculation, even?

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