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Posted July 25, 2006

July 25, 2006

Israel is hurting, and holding tough. Two million of our people in the north are within the range of rocket fire. (Truth be told, Hezbollah may have long range rockets that put even central Israel and Jerusalem within fire range.) One million of our people are in bomb shelters in miserable crowded conditions. The economy of the north is pretty much shut down.

Every day dozens of rockets descend on our north and there are causalities, often deaths. Today a 15 year old Druze girl from the village of Mrar, near Carmiel, was killed; four others from that village were wounded. In Haifa a barrage of rockets wounded 23 people.

And yet, and yet… we’re holding in there and will continue to do so.

So strong are we that today 650 French olim (immigrants) arrived! This is the largest contingent of newcomers to arrive since the war started, but not the first.

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We are continuing to do damage to Hezbollah to the maximum that seems possible for us. Today was a day of tough fighting. We have taken the southern Hezbollah "capital" of Bint Jbeil amidst fierce battle. Understand that the area had been mined and that the Hezbollah fighters conduct themselves as guerillas, hiding in hillsides and wooded areas. But take it we did, eliminating some 40 terrorists, including one commander, in the process. Electronic surveillance equipment, weapons and communication devices made in Iran were found in this village. Now we are entering the village of Aitroun.

Today there was intense bombing in a Shi’ite neighborhood of Beirut that was a Hezbollah stronghold, as well. Ten buildings were destroyed; the IDF indicated one was a vital target but declined to say what. We also took out weapons warehouses and launchers — including the equipment that had launched rockets on Haifa just an hour previously. (Apparently the air force is able to trace launched rockets back to the launching equipment.)

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Sec. Rice met with PM Olmert today. At their joint press conference all the right things were said about how Israel will hold strong and a ceasefire cannot be arranged until the time is right. Implementation of resolution 1559, which includes dismantling Hezbollah, is still on the boards.

Word is that the US has told Israel that we have another 10 to 14 days to weaken Hezbollah before international pressure gets so great that the US will no longer be able to give us diplomatic coverage.

Condoleezza went on to meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas (where Palestinians in Ramallah booed her and cheered for Hezbollah). Then it’s on to Rome where there will be an international conference on resolving the situation here.

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Even in the face of the strength with which we are holding out, and the US is backing us, I feel a current of unease. Hezbollah is saying they’ll release our soldiers if we release Lebanese prisoners. Any concession of this sort would be a disaster and I fear international pressure on us to do this to help bring the situation to a close. Similarly, Syria — which has so far been isolated — is making noises about wanting to be included in deliberations in Rome. Unless Syria were to push out Hamas from Damascus and disavow further support for Hezbollah, it should continue to be isolated; but, here too, there may be the temptation within the international community to do this, as Syria holds the key to stopping rearmament of Hezbollah. One commentator I heard on TV today opined that Syria would "want something" in return for cutting off Hezbollah. Want something? We can give them the promise that we won’t bomb Damascus if they do this. That’s about right.

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I find myself particularly irked by Democrats in the US who seem eager to make political points at this time of crisis in the Middle East. Declared John Kerry the other day: ‘If I was president, this wouldn’t have happened." Excuse me?

In similar vein, I heard an interview on Fox News today with a former adviser to Al Gore. She took the same line, explaining that there had never been this sort of explosion of Middle East violence during Democratic administrations. When asked precisely what Clinton did during his terms to advance peace in the Middle East, her response was that at least he kept dialogue going, and when there is dialogue there is no war.

While I think she has it absolutely backwards, it’s important to take her point of view seriously — precisely because it has the potential to do so much damage. Every time Arafat failed to keep a promise, what Clinton did was invite him to the White House. (No political leader was invited to the White House more times than Arafat.) What is here being presented as "dialogue" was in fact appeasement that communicated to Arafat that it was possible to break his word without repercussions. Sometimes standing strong is the only way to go. Sometimes evil has to be stopped in its tracks. I thank Heaven that Kerry is not president.

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Caroline Glick, once again, has an excellent column in today’s Post. I mention here two points, while recommending that the entire column be read.

The IDF General Staff, says Glick, "mesmerized by the dovish ideologies propounded by three consecutive governments…took a week to understand that Israel was at war." Here, too, you see, those dovish ideologies promoted appeasement over standing strong. "But," she says, "now they know. And the IDF is fighting well, bolding and effectively on the ground. Halutz instituted a rolling mobilization of the reserves, and the IAF has pulled back to its proper supportive role.

"…Moreover, by rising to the challenge…the entire Israeli public is setting an example for it army, its government and the world to follow."

Of particular interest is her take here: "…by giving the West the opportunity to fight it first in Lebanon, Teheran is providing the US, Israel and others with critical intelligence about its own installations. The subterranean bunkers in south Lebanon that IDF ground forces are now conquering were built by Iranian Revolutionary Guards units and designed by Iranian engineers — the same forces that conceived and constructed Iran’s nuclear installations.

"…by fighting Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, Israel is amassing information that will be critical for planning a successful strike against Iran’s nuclear installation."

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1153291988255&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

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According to Middle East Newsline today, NATO has no plans to be involved in a peace-keeping force on the Lebanese border.

"NATO sources said the Western alliance lacks the political will as well as the capability to rapidly organize a peace-keeping force that would sure the withdrawal of the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah from southern Lebanon. The sources said not one NATO member formally agreed to send troops to an Iranian-dominated war zone.

"’The chances of NATO entering this conflict appears very low,’ an alliance source said. ‘Everybody knows that after the first attack, everybody will pull out.’"

Precisely. Which is why Israel is doing the dirty work for the world.

For a better understanding of the potential parameters of an international force in Lebanon, I recommend an analysis written for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs by Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon (former Chief of Staff of the IDF) and Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaa
kov Amidror — two of the most savvy and clear thinking people around.

Basically, these gentlemen say that it is the Lebanese army and only the Lebanese army that belongs at the border with Israel. If there is to be an international force, it must be made of real combat soldiers whose task it would be to strengthen the Lebanese army around Beirut, at the border with Syria,, and the Bekaa Valley — all Hezbollah strongholds.

http://www.jcpa.org/brief/brief006.4.htm

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I end with this story that is both painful and ironic. A few days ago two little boys were killed in Nazareth by rocket fire. They were Israeli Arabs. A complaint was made by the Arab community there that they have no warning system for letting them know when a rocket is coming, as Jewish neighborhoods do. Well, I have read an explanation of why they had no siren system: They themselves, the Arab community, had asked that it be dismantled well before this war. Why? It was used to mark Jewish events, such as the moment of silence on Holocaust Memorial Day, or the beginning of Israeli Independence Day, and they didn’t want to be a part of this. Today I heard that the father of these boys gave an interview on Arab television and said it was Olmert’s fault that his boys are dead. Serious stuff, in my opinion.

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This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/7/25/posted-july-25-2006.html

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