Pesach has ended here in Israel, and will draw to a close outside of Israel after sundown today. We are back to normal, however one describes normal here.
A major bombing planned for Tel Aviv over the Pesach holiday — thank G-d — never happened. A member of Hamas from Kalkilyia in Samaria had already driven into Tel Aviv in a car that carried 220 pounds of explosives plus shrapnel. For reasons that are unclear, he turned around and went back to Kalkilyia, where the car exploded in what is euphemistically termed a "work accident."
The point that should be noted here is that the would-be bomber was carrying Israeli ID and driving a car with Israeli license plates, which afforded him superior mobility. His status had been acquired as the result of his marriage to an Israel Arab. Often there are complaints about the stringency Israel applies to permitting Palestinian Arabs residency as a result of marriage — there are accusations of deprivation of their rights, and laments of how sad that young couples cannot live together in Israel. But, my friends, here you see prime evidence of the reason for this stringency. I frankly care not a hoot if some young couples are inconvenienced, if this stringency saves innocent Jewish lives.
In all, 19 members of Hamas in the Kalkilyia area in Samaria were arrested by the IDF and Shin Bet; it seems that the car bombing was only one operation of several they had planned. The Hamas infrastructure in Kalkilyia — which was dormant for some time — was responsible for the horrendous Dolphinarium bombing of 2001, which took the lives of 21 young Israelis in Tel Aviv. It has now been revived and Israeli security says they have moved from the planning stage to the attempted implementation of attacks.
A big issue here right now is the presumed imminent release of Shalit. I cannot mention this without thinking of how many times before I’ve suggested the same, i.e., the fact that it is supposed to be imminent doesn’t mean it will really happen. It is being said that the ball is in Israel’s court. Apparently the number of prisoners to be released has been agreed upon, as have the three stages of release: First 400 women and minors would be released, along with all Hamas legislators and ministers, after which Shalit would be turned over to the Egyptians. Then 450 prisoners who were serving lengthy sentences (which means having been convicted of weighty terrorist crimes) and headed various factions would be released, after which Egypt would turn over Shalit to Israel. Then 30 days later another 550 prisoners would be released. Egypt, serving as mediator, has now submitted Hamas’s final list, but the list of the 450 terrorists that would be released first seems most critical.
It’s up to Israel to decide whether to release them. Me? I would call foul on the whole thing.
Guess who’s at the head of the list? Marwan Barghouti, first class terrorist — founder of the terrorist Tanzim, instigator of the Al Aksa Intifada and more — who is serving five life sentences. We knew this was coming. But it’s taken a new twist. Barghouti is a Fatah man, seen as a possible successor to Abbas. But some Fatah people don’t want him out now. There are apparently several reasons for this. Seems that Barghouti has more cachet as a prisoner — there is concern that he will lose popularity once he’s out. Additionally there is fear that Hamas will get all the credit for securing his release and will acquire additional popularity in the street: they would prefer that he be let out later as a good will gesture to Abbas, so Abbas might accrue credit for it. Then, Abbas is likely uneasy about having his chief rival freed.
And so, went this morning’s news report, the Israel gov’t is in a bit of a quandary: Let Barghouti out now to secure Shalit’s release, or do it later in a way that bolsters Abbas and Fatah.
Hey guys? How about not letting him out at all? How’s that for a novel suggestion? And why should it be assumed that a strengthening of Fatah, with terrorist Barghouti calling the shots, is a genuine improvement over Hamas?
None of the bums whose release is being requested by Hamas should see the light of day, actually. This is a horror story: On the list is Hassan Salameh, who headed the cell that carried out two horrendous suicide attacks on number 18 buses in Jerusalem and another at a hitchhiking station in Ashkelon Junction; these 1996 attacks took 46 Israeli lives. Then there is Ahmed Saadat, who ordered the 2001 assassination of cabinet minister Rehavam Ze’evi. And Fuad Shubaki, who was involved with arranging financing for the Karine A arms-smuggling ship. Lots more, as well.
While the gov’t suggests there is no alternative to trading some prisoners in order to release Shalit, the unvarnished truth is that they would be putting a great many Israeli lives at risk by doing so: The Almagor Terror Victims Association has counted 177 Israelis who have been murdered by prisoners after being released by Israel in past prisoner swaps; these were prisoners who didn’t even technically have blood on their hands when imprisoned. Imagine what the sort with blood already on their hands and authority within various factions would do if they got out.
Caroline Glick addresses this situation in her latest column, and makes some good suggestions as to other alternatives to "encourage" release of Shalit: "The government could place sanctions such as travel bans on PA Chairman and Fatah terror chief Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister and Hamas terror chief Ismail Haniyeh and their associates. So too, the government could order the Prisons Service to prevent jailed terrorists from talking to reporters, politicians and European diplomats and so end the anomalous state of affairs whereby convicted murderers like arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti are allowed to engage in psychological warfare against Israeli society and serve as power brokers in Palestinian society from prison."
The gov’t is going to consider the exchange. Olmert will be discussing the issue with the Cabinet tonight and it may be brought before the Security Cabinet tomorrow. It is not yet a done deal, however, as there is concern being expressed with regard to some of the names being proposed. Olmert has declared himself "disappointed" with the list.
MK Azmi Bashara, Chairman of the Balad Arab party, is at the center of considerable political turmoil once again. He has been out of the country for two weeks now and speculation is that he will never return. Bashara caused a furor when he and fellow Israeli Arab MKs visited Lebanon and Syria this summer, while Israel was at war, even offering advice to the Syrians with regard to Israel’s intentions. A law has since been advanced that would prohibit persons visiting enemy countries from running for the Knesset. Further legislation is being investigated with regard to withdrawing citizenship from those behaving as Bashara has and requiring all MKs to swear loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state.
Defense Minister Peretz is making noises about removing the new residents of the house — dubbed "Peace House" — on the road between Kiryat Arba and the Cave of Machpelah (Tomb of the Patriarchs) in Hebron. Says Peretz, even if the residents did purchase it legally, they should have asked permission of the IDF before moving in. The residents say they’re not going anywhere and that as this house is within Israeli-held Hebron (Hebron having been divided by agreement and the Israeli section no way disputed territory) they have a right to buy housing and live there. Peretz’s move is clearly politically motivated and there is doubt that he’ll have enough strength, or endure in his post long enough, to do what h
e says he’ll do.
Last Friday the Palestinian Authority expressed fear that the United Nations might formally declare the Gaza Strip "a dangerous zone," which would result in the evacuation of all foreign nationals from the area and make international assistance more difficult. Said a human rights activist, "The Gaza Strip has become worse than Somalia…Thousands of gunmen continue to roam the streets and the new government hasn’t done anything to restore law and order."
Last Wednesday, I was delighted to read of the distress expressed by Palestinians over the stance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel following her visit with Abbas in Ramallah. She insisted, for example, on forcefully raising the issue of Shalit, but refused to meet with the families of Palestinian Arabs in Israeli prisoners. And she refused to visit Bethlehem, where Palestinians were eager to show her the security fence and draw a parallel with the Berlin Wall. She also received a honorary degree at Hebrew University but refused to visit the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. "She appeared to be very biased towards Israel," huffed one Palestinian official.
Deir Yassin, and libelous stories about massacres of innocent Arabs there by Jews during the War of Independence, have haunted us for years. Here’s a chance to get the story straight and I urge you to read it.
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2007/4/10/posted-april-10-2007.html