I resume after a short hiatus that seemed to me wise — focus was clearly on the election. As I write, the Democrats have taken the House, and the Senate is still undecided. From this point on, our charge, as I see it, is to provide information and perspective to those who are the decision-makers, whether Democrats or Republicans. As we struggle with difficult and threatening times, we have our work cut out for us… Let no one minimize what’s coming down.
I return now to occurrences in this part of the world, but without any joy in my heart as I do so, for there is certainly no news that is heartening…
The IDF was in process of winding down its operation in Gaza — a limited operation that had taken out some 50 plus terrorists but had not done nearly all that needs to be done. And then it happened…
Apparently (but only apparently at this point) an IDF artillery barrage misfired this morning and missed its target in Beit Hanun. Instead, tragically, it seems it hit and killed 18 members of an extended family. An investigation will be required and full details are not yet known.
Deputy Ground Forces Commander Maj. Gen. Meir Kalifi has been selected to head a team of experts that will do the investigating. He headed the investigation of the Gaza beach explosion in which the Ghalia family was killed, which revealed that the IDF was not responsible as charged.
There is concern regarding the willingness of the Palestinians to cooperate. "In the past, Palestinians made it very difficult for IDF investigators. They delayed the transfer of important data and were occasionally suspected of transferring tainting evidence," one military source said. (Remember during the Ghalia family investigation when it was learned that shrapnel that couldn’t have come from IDF shells was surreptitiously removed from one victim?) Peretz wants a report by tomorrow.
According to Ron Ben Yishai of YNet, "we cannot discount the possibility that the disaster is a result of a ‘work accident’ by Palestinian terrorists." It would not be the first time such a thing has happened.
The IDF does acknowledge having shot artillery this morning, but says its targets were from "far removed" from the house that was hit.
Two sites were targeted: Where the rockets had come from the day before, and where information had it that terrorists were preparing to do launchings today.
Head of the Southern Command, Yoav Galant, said: "The orders for IDF soldiers on the matter are clear, and they are taking everyone who is not involved out of the line of fire." Galant explained that yesterday Kassams were shot at Ashkelon from the area that was targeted, and this morning there was intelligence that more rockets would be fired. The shooting of artillery was "preventative," he said, in order to forestall more rocket launchings.
But what is known, even at this point, is that 12 shells were shot and that 10 of them hit the mark: only two are unaccounted for. However, the Palestinians are claiming that six adjacent buildings were hit, with the casualties coming from all those buildings, and it would be difficult to explain how two shells hit six buildings.
The IDF maintains that it is the terrorist organizations that bear ultimate responsibility because they launch these rockets, and do so counting on the shelter of civilian areas. The IDF additionally maintains the right to continue necessary operations so long as Israeli citizens are the targets of these rockets, although at this moment a halt has been called until the investigation is complete.
In any event, 18 people are dead, including children, and there is only deep sadness for this. But what must be emphasized is that there was no deliberate attempt to target innocent civilians, even should it turn out that they were hit by Israeli shells.
The world, of course, will not believe this. Nor, if it turns out that the IDF didn’t do this at all, will the world pay attention — the damage will have been done. Indeed, layered on top of the distress at those Palestinians dead there is distress at additional repercussions to be dealt with.
It would be hard to describe how galling it is to hear terrorists making accusations. PA spokesman Ghazi Hamed declared, "Israel is a nation of animals that has no human values and is a disgrace to the modern world." A member of Hamas, which advocates strapping bombs around their children in order to blow up our innocents, says we have no human values? And Muhammad Dahlan, of Fatah, said this was an instance of "ethnic cleansing." Ethnic cleansing? They skillfully seek the terms that push buttons. Dahlan is a scum of the lowest order: He OK’ed a bombing on a school bus at Kfar Darom in November 2000.
Mahmoud Abbas has declared that because of this all chances for peace have been destroyed. Like that? Before this we were just on the cusp of peace, I guess.
The Palestinians — both Fatah and Hamas — have now vowed stepped up terrorist attacks in revenge and we are on the next to highest alert. "The armed struggle is free to resume," intoned Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. As if they ever stopped. On a regular basis suicide bombers are thwarted by our security forces, and the stockpiling of weapons has gone on from the day Hamas came into power.
The problem is that many of our "friends" are all too quick to buy into this. An EU representative called this "profoundly shocking" and Italy’s foreign minister called it a "massacre."
I want here to allude to two separate matters that have a significant connection:
The first matter:
A "gay pride" parade is scheduled for this Friday in Jerusalem, postponed from this summer when there was war. There has been a huge protest within the Jewish religious community, which finds what is planned — including nudity, displays of "kinky" or deliberately provocative behavior, and celebration of acts forbidden by the Torah — to be highly offensive and altogether inappropriate for the holy city of Jerusalem. Protests have taken a variety of forms, including petitions and demonstrations; members of the Christian and Muslim religious communities are of the same mind on this issue.
Within the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community feelings on this matter have run so high, however, that there has been violence and threats of additional violence. The parade was cancelled for fear of violent outbreaks and then rescheduled for a different route and with enhanced security planned. Attorney General Mazuz has made statements about freedom of expression and the fact that this freedom should not be denied because of threats of mob violence. He said: "We have to make a decision, either we give in to threats or we deal with them…"
The second matter:
To my thinking, the far more significant of the two. This concerns Jewish claims to the Temple Mount — our right to have access to it and to pray on the Mount. We are at present in the midst of a growing campaign by the Arabs to claim full and exclusive rights to the Mount, with claims coming out as well regarding the fact that the Kotel (the Western Wall that is a retaining wall of the mount) is exclusively Muslim as well. Before long I hope to address this in more detail.
The Mount was the site of the our two Temples, the Second destroyed almost 2,000 years ago; there is solid archeological evidence for this. As well, tradition has it that this was the site of
a number of other significant occurrences, such as the Akeda, the sacrifice of Isaac.
It wasn’t until 600 years later that the Al Aqsa Mosque and then the Muslim Dome of the Rock — both standing today — were constructed on the Mount.
When Israel took the Old City in 1967, there was Jewish access to the Temple Mount for the first time in 19 years, as the Jordanians had denied all Jewish access to the Mount or the Kotel (or anywhere in the Old City). It would have been entirely proper for Israel to then tell the Arabs, "Now it is ours." That is what should have been done. But Moshe Dayan, in a spirit of presumed generosity, called in the Wakf, the Muslim Trust, and told them that while Israel would retain the right to maintain security, they could run affairs on the Mount. This is how it has been in all the years since. The net result has been that Jewish rights to, and access to, the Mount have been severely curtailed in deference to "Arab sensibility."
In reality, it is fear of violence in the Arab street that causes Israeli authorities to curtail Jewish rights on the Mount and to look the other way when archeological damage is done.
Most outrageous of all is the fact that Israeli law enforcement/security authorities will not permit Jews to pray on the Mount, even though there have been Israeli court rulings that Jews have a right to do so. It might upset the Arab street, you see — they might perceive this as a move to take over the Mount and riots might ensue. I know of instances in which Jews, visiting the Mount as tourists under supervision, have been pulled off because of suspicion that they were praying. A most ludicrous and outrageous state of affairs. Jews cannot utter a prayer to Heaven on the site that is the holiest in the world to them, even though that site is within Israel.
The common thread:
Yesterday, MK Aryeh Eldad of National Union (bless him) wrote to Attorney General Mazuz demanding that Jewish worshippers on the Mount be accorded the same rights as the gay parade participants:
"I was surprised to read and to hear that you ordered the police to make the parade possible despite the widespread public opposition and the concern that mass disturbances would arise in its wake…
"At the same time, I am convinced that your position on the matter is one of principle, and you emphasize that freedom of expression…must be ensured. However, for reasons of preserving public safety and out of a concern over possible mass disturbances, the Israeli police – with the full backing of the attorney general’s office – denies Jews the freedom of worship on the Temple Mount.
"…You support the ‘modest’ right to protest of the [homosexual] community in Jerusalem, but you must surely know that a Jew caught standing with closed eyes and murmuring in a whisper is ejected from the Temple Mount."
I don’t expect anything to come of this, but think it exceedingly important that the issues be raised. Not only are the rights of Jews in this specific instance being curtailed by the Jewish state, we are looking at a larger problem: That the Jewish state functions with fear of the Arab mob so that this mob is able to control Israeli behavior. Make no mistake about it — the Arab mob, when aroused, get genuinely violent. (It’s their MO; Arafat used to talk about calling up violence when he wasn’t pleased with negotiations. Dennis Ross called this Arafat’s "terrorism card.") But then call out the troops to suppress them. As a matter of principle this should not be permitted to stand. They are capable of whittling away our autonomy little by little, and we should not, must not, permit this to happen.
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/11/8/posted-november-8-2006.html