Yom Yerushalayim has ended, but, what is it they say? The melody lingers on.
There are so many articles on Jerusalem that have come to my attention. But I would like to share this from JINSA:
"Jerusalem is the eternal, indivisible capital of the Jewish people as well as the capital of the sovereign State of Israel.
"The first is a matter of history, love and religion, regardless of sovereign status. Jews spent 1,900 years in the Diaspora saying, ‘Next year in Jerusalem’…There were no Jewish ‘crusades’ to ‘liberate’ the city because Jews didn’t have to be politically sovereign in Jerusalem in order for the city to be holy to Jews.
"However, the second – sovereign rule – is a matter of ugly, hard-won, 20th Century practical experience. It surely is the case that Jews have to rule Jerusalem for its holiness to be accessible to Jews .
"…only the convergence of the capital of the Jewish people and the capital of the State of Israel, only Israeli sovereignty from 28 Iyar 1967 forward, has ensured the accessibility of Jerusalem to those who love the city…"
And then a correction from my last posting. Shame on me for this slip, for I know better: Jerusalem is mentioned hundreds of times in the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, but not in the Torah. The time the Torah recounts is before the people had come into the land of Israel, before Jerusalem had become the capital under David. In the Torah are only references to Mount Moriah, which is where the Temple was later built. (Thanks to David B. Greenberg for catching this.)
Good that the melody lingered on, for that provides strength in a time of ugly news.
Sderot and the surrounding area is being hit with an unprecedented barrage of Kassam rockets. On Tuesday, 30 rockets were fired, yesterday, another fifteen, and as I write 16 more have already been launched today. Several people have been wounded in Sderot, including a pregnant woman, and a house (next to that of Defense Minister Peretz) has taken a direct hit. A high school has been hit, and a factory that was hit burst into flames.
The population of Sderot is distraught and angry, as they feel the government is not protecting them — not even with adequate shelters (of 58 shelters, 30 have no electricity and are uninhabitable even for a short stay). People who live in homes that are not reinforced, such as mobile homes, have been moved out; some others have just picked up and gone on their own. Schools in Sderot are closed, as well, and ambulances stand by in case of injuries. Life is anything but normal; fear and anxiety are consistently high, especially for kids.
Residents of Sderot have called upon Russian-Israeli tycoon Arkadi Gaydamak to help them. Last summer he paid for some residents of Sderot to go to Eilat for a break. He apparently has already sent buses to help with the evacuation of some relatively small number of people and is talking about doing another project such as the one to Eilat.
Peretz does not respond kindly to Gaydamak’s readiness to be of assistance, saying that this is not the way to do things and that moving the population out is not the proper response. In principle, Peretz is correct. Moving the population of Sderot out in any substantial numbers will be perceived as running (which it would be, would it not?) and would simply reinforce Palestinian terrorist efforts — they would be delighted to see Sderot emptied.
In fact, it is also possible that Gaydamak is grandstanding. However… the government has let this population down badly and it seems to me it behooves Peretz to direct criticism elsewhere. The people of Sderot are close to breaking point.
What is more, there are now unconfirmed reports that the Sderot municipality itself may send out some 4,000 people to give them a break, possibly to Beersheva. I am finding it exceedingly difficult to get confirmation on this. The situation is one of confusion.
Olmert has met with the Security Cabinet and announced that the period of restraint has ended and there will be a "harsh and severe" response to these latest attacks. What this means is actions such as targeted assassinations and bombing of launching sites. And, indeed, the airforce is targeting Hamas — killing six with missiles in one strike at a launching site in the north, and a senior Hamas leader who was driving in his car in another location, and three in a truck in the south. In an unconfirmed report, an air strike in central Gaza wounded 45. And on it will go. Tanks have also rolled over the border some hundreds of meters into Gaza, while the IDF has electronically taken over several Gaza radio stations in order to warn civilians to stay out of areas where Kassams are launched.
But it is being made clear that a major ground operation is not planned at present.
Those of you who read my messages regularly are well aware that I have been a strong advocate for a ground invasion into Gaza as the only way of taking out terrorist infrastructure. However, the current rationale being offered for not going in has some validity: The Palestinians in Gaza are embroiled in civil war (see below). If we go in now, we will have the effect of unifying them against a common enemy.
It is being said, incidentally, that the enormous ratcheting up of the rocket attacks is connected to the internal situation as well, with Hamas trying to provoke a major Israeli attack to distract the people. As analyst Michael Widlanski wrote: "…it was clear that both Hamas and Fatah were desperately trying to channel the internecine fighting and hatred into attacks on Israel, rather than on Arabs."
But it would seem that refocusing of hatred onto Israel can bring things below the boiling point on only a very temporary basis, for the hatred is too deep to be permanently erased in such a manner. Just as they keep calling ceasefires that fall apart, the distraction of an Israeli attack in the long run would mean little. In fact, Widlanski also said that an attack by Israel into Gaza might make things fall apart sooner.
What is certain at this point is that we cannot act like sitting ducks any longer. And so hard decisions must be made as to how hard to hit now, in what fashion.
For a striking picture of the situation in Gaza, see the eyewitness report of journalist Ibrahim Barzak. Just yesterday, Barzak wrote:
"Today I have seen people shot before my eyes, I heard the screams of terrified women and children in a burning building, and I argued with gunmen who wanted to take over my home.
"I have seen a lot in my years as a journalist in Gaza, but this is the worst it’s been.
"…I saw a building on fire after Hamas gunmen attacked, and I heard the screams of people who could not get out because of the gun battles.
"There have been clashes between Hamas and Fatah before, but there are dangerous new elements this time. Now they are arresting or even shooting people for the way they look. If you have a beard, you might be arrested by Fatah security for looking Islamic. If you have a chain around your neck or on your arm, Hamas gunmen might shoot you because you look secular.
"The random use of weapons and ex
plosives is out of control. People who consider themselves the elite, the politicians, sit with the Egyptian mediators at night and then come out with statements about a truce, and in the morning we see the opposite has occurred. These people are not controlling anything."
A total of 46 Palestinians were killed in the internecine violence in the last week, 22 just yesterday. Indications are that Hamas people are the instigators in a majority of instances, with their liquidation squads roaming the streets. As to Egyptian mediators, several were wounded by gunmen and had to withdraw.
Ostensibly, for about the millionth time, a ceasefire was called last night. But already today a member of Hamas has been critically wounded, Hamas says by Fatah militia, and Fatah charges Hamas with having kidnapped several members of Fatah after the ceasefire had been called. Additionally, at a funeral for two Hamas people in Rafah, gunfire was exchanged and later Hamas said that Fatah had abducted and murdered one of their people. So you know how much this ceasefire is worth.
If it had held, Abbas was intending to come into Gaza today to meet with Haniyeh. But the situation was not quiet enough, and his visit has been postponed.
According to Khaled Abu Toameh of the Post, Abbas’s visit to Gaza was cancelled because of information that Hamas was going to try to assassinate him.
From The Jerusalem Post we have this: "The United States expressed concern Wednesday that renewed factional violence between Palestinians would set back the peace process."
Heaven help us!
But wait, there’s more! Bush held a press conference today with Tony Blair, at which he expressed concern about the Gaza violence. He expressed his intention of continuing to work for the vision of two states living side by side. And then he said:
"The Prime Minister and I discussed the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. We recognized the deep humiliation that can come as a result of living in a land where you can’t move freely, and where people can’t realize dreams. We talked about the need to reject and fight terrorism. We understand the fright that can come when you’re worried about a rocket landing on top of your home."
How do I express the rage I feel on reading this? The Palestinians are launching rockets at us non-stop, and they are murdering each other at unprecedented rates. They are behaving without humanity and without civility. (I would never say they are behaving like animals, because that’s an insult to animals.) And what is the first thing Bush mentions? That the Palestinians are humiliated because of checkpoints. Now, either he’s equating our use of checkpoints with the launching of Kassams — saying that both things cause human problems and need to stop. Or he’s saying — which may be, since he mentions the checkpoints first — that there is terrorism because the people are humiliated at the checkpoints. Neither equation is remotely acceptable. Not remotely. In fact, he seems to have it backwards. It’s time for him, and the Western world, to recognize that the checkpoints — and whatever humiliation may result — are a function of our need to protect ourselves. Hey guys, if they didn’t try to kill us, we wouldn’t need checkpoints. Duhh.
And Blair? He said: "…the important thing is how we make progress towards the two-state solution, which is the only solution in the end." He wants to see us next door to a terrorist state, which is the only thing that a Palestinian state could possibly be. This will be a solution? In what universe?
Meanwhile, the State Department spokesman said that Israel has exhibited "great restraint" in recent days and has the right to defend itself against rocket attacks. Well, we’ve been patted on the head, which is what Olmert and Livni were hoping for. And it’s so nice of the US to give us permission to defend ourselves.
An indictment has been filed against Gazan Arab Massab Bashir for alleged plans to assassinate PM Olmert and members of the Knesset. Bashir, who was operating on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was able to get into Israel because he went to work for Doctors Without Borders and they secured the permit for him. He was arrested in Jerusalem by the Shin Bet.
While I would not suggest that Doctors Without Borders knew what Bashir was doing, I consider it a good possibility that they would take someone like Bashir on to staff without proper vetting. This is a notoriously anti-Israel group that has received funding from the anti-Semitic UAE Zayed Center, the very same center to which Harvard University returned a gift after becoming aware of what they represented.
Sad. A secret IDF report has just been revealed. It says, regarding kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, that one is likely dead and the other likely in serious condition at best. This conclusion was not based on Intelligence but on findings at the scene of the kidnapping. The patrol vehicle they were in was probably hit by a bomb — with one of them hit directly and the other wounded and suffering considerable loss of blood, after which they were carried out on the soldiers of Hezbollah fighters without getting medical care.
The working premise of the IDF, however, continues to be that they are alive. The families have seen this report. More details are expected to follow when Yediot Ahronot publishes material from Ronen Bergman’s book, The point of no return.