In an updated report, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Sept. 29, 2015 that the death toll from rockets that hit a tent in Yemen on Sept 28, 2015 killed over 130 people attending a wedding reception. The initial estimate was 24 people killed. The Saudis deny that they launched the rockets. The Houthis deny that there were any military sites or Houthi leaders attending the wedding reception. Everyone acknowledges the airstrike was a mistake. Nobody is taking responsibility. The WSJ report was written by Asa Fitch in Dubai and Mohammed al-Kibsi in Yemen.
The conflict has come to be seen as a proxy battleground through which Saudi Arabia, the Middle East’s leading Sunni Muslim power, is facing off against Iran, its Shiite rival for regional influence. Saudi Arabia supports Mr. Hadi and allied Sunni tribes, while Iran supports the Houthis politically, although it has denied supplying them with weapons. The Houthis are members of the minority Zaidi offshoot of Shiite Islam.
The Jewish Telegraphic Association (TJA) announced on Sept. 30, 2015 that Israel has attacked Hamas sites in Gaza in retaliation for a Sept. 29, 2015 rocked fired on Israel. The unattributed article by the TJA is titled Israeli Air Force hits Hamas sites in retaliatory strikes. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) issued a statement regarding the attack by Hamas on the port city of Ashdod.
The IDF will not tolerate any fire into Israel’s territory by terror groups and will continue to respond severely to any attempt to disturb the peace in the south. The terrorist organization Hamas is responsible.
The Salafi group, which is a branch of ISIS, claimed responsibility for the rocket attack on Ashdod, which they said was in retaliation for a women being killed at an Israeli checkpoint. The Salafi is a recent entrant into the Palestinian territory in Gaza, and is in direct conflict with Hamas as well as Israel.
The Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade, a Salafist group affiliated with the Islamic State, reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack in posts on social media, saying it was in response to the killing last week of a Palestinian woman at a checkpoint in Hebron. Troops manning the checkpoint said the woman, 18, tried to stab soldiers there; the claim has been disputed by a Palestinian eyewitness.
It appears that the IDF fired on the wrong opponent when it attacked Hamas. Hamas has allegedly killed over 100 of the Salafist fighters in Gaza. It is easy to get confused as to the exact enemy to kill when trying to retaliate in a religious and cultural war. Someone killed a Houthi man at his wedding reception by mistake. Israel attacked Hamas for a rocket strike that the ISIS affiliated Salafi group claimed to have done in retaliation for the Israelis killing a Palestinian woman.
This is not a new tactic of the Salafists to attack Israel, which then has Israel attacking Hamas. As reported in The Guardian on June 10, 2015, Peter Beaumont described how the Salafists are getting Israel to attack the Hamas leadership.
The conflict with the militant Salafists – totaling a few hundred at most – has led to a Hamas crackdown and, in reprisal, three rockets fired by the Salafists at Israel. This has in turn drawn air strikes in response, including against targets associated with Gaza’s ruling faction.
When the “coalition forces” of the US, Great Britain and other assorted part-time war of terror allies come into the mix, along with Russia that is supporting Syria, a new dimension is added to the religious wars. The Middle East is a chess game with civilians as pawns, and the pawns are always considered as expendable. The coalition forces are trying to stamp out the terrorists in the terrorists’ home countries, plus protect their oil suppliers and their built-in defense industry trust fund. Russia is trying to restore its stature in the Middle East and around the globe as a major political power. The trillions of dollars expended in these efforts has resulted in nothing positive, and millions of refugees invading Europe. People are starving and dying in the cross-fire. Pope Francis’ appeal for peace and support for the poor is falling on deaf ears.
There are so many players in this Middle East quagmire with poorly defined goals or rules, a better approach is needed. It is time to let the United Nations do what it charter stipulates, which is to settle international disputes.