An initial report has been delivered on what happened in Gaza: apparently a malfunction in the radar of the artillery battery. Defense Secretary Peretz has now ordered a review of artillery fire procedures and is restricting the order to fire artillery into Gaza to officers with at least the rank of major-general.
The furor continues, however, with a discussion about this taking place at the Security Council; the US will apparently veto the Qatar proposal for an investigation and cessation "of violence against the civilian population." Our good friend France is also involved in demanding an independent investigation of the circumstances.
Anshel Pfeffer, Jerusalem Post commentator, summed up the matter:
"Surgical attacks are a nifty term that generals love using but even surgeons have botched operations.
"Orders have been revised countless times [over the last few years], safety margins gone up and down, firing ordered to be stopped and renewed again but the basic facts haven’t changed. Artillery is still the quickest and cheapest method to harass the Kassam teams and minimize their threat. The safest also – safest for IDF soldiers, that is."
The reality is that the western Negev (primarily Sderot and Ashkelon) is being barraged on an almost daily basis by Kassams; Sderot makes the news regularly because its population feels the government has failed it; its children are traumatized; and yes, there have been casualties. The cry is for the government to respond to the needs of these citizens.
But short of totally taking over Gaza, the IDF seems to be at a loss as to how to stop the Kassam attacks. The Palestinians continue to produce home-made Kassams and to shoot them from various sites (including private homes and schools), moving about. The Kassam teams are constantly being hunted down by IDF military and intelligence.
Air attacks with helicopters and fighter jets is more effective in pinpointing targets than ground artillery is. But the entire Gaza Strip cannot be monitored from the air 24 hours a day. Targets would be missed. Besides which, the Palestinians now have weapons capable of possibly taking down planes and helicopters.
Sending in special forces on the ground would also be effective in pinpointing attacks. But, once again, a special force unit could not monitor the entire Gaza Strip. Additionally, that would put our boys at increased risk — a risk that must be factored into the equation when deciding how to operate.
Says Pfeffer: "Artillery batteries on a 24-hour alert, well within Israeli territory, are still the fastest and safest rapid-reaction tactic available." But this method of minimizing Kassam attacks on us carries with it some risk of artillery inadvertently misfiring on occasion.
Now if the terrorist groups would just stop hitting us with Kassams, this whole thing would go away. But the question is whether the world, in the main, notices this. You will undoubtedly have observed that there have been no Security Council meetings to discuss the fact that after Israel pulled out of Gaza and gave it to the Palestinians for development, they turned around and started firing rockets into our sovereign territory, and began to smuggle vast quantities of weapons with the obvious intent of hitting us.
Pfeffer says the furor will die down in a matter of days and it will again be business as usual.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman agrees. He says condemnation will be short-lived: "This is not a watershed moment," he declared to the Post, because the international community understands that "this is an isolated horrible mistake." I would like to hope he’s right, but I am not yet convinced. "I think George Bush understands exactly what the war on terror means…War is a dirty business and during war ugly things happen." Yes, but George Bush and most of the appeasing, apologist, anti-Israel international community do not see eye-to-eye on this matter.
MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) has a different take and he’s got it right:
He has called on the government "to stop apologizing and to cut short this tragic situation through an extensive military operation against the terror infrastructure and Kassam operators in Gaza.
"Instead of offering desalinated water to a Palestinian government that doesn’t recognize Israel, it’s about time that the government will fulfill its obligations to defend the residents of Sderot and will send the IDF to Operation Defensive Shield II in Gaza."
Operation Defensive Shield took place in the spring of 2002 in Judea-Samaria after a spate of horrific suicide bombings. Our troops went in large scale and took out terrorist infrastructure — weapons factories, weapons stockpiles, terrorists, etc. There was an international furor then — in particular with outrageous lies about a Jenin massacre — but terrorism went way down.
Olmert’s comments at this time have been nothing less than stomach-turning. He has now told Mahmoud Abbas that he will meet him at any time and any place. "I’m willing to sit down with him with no predetermined conditions." No predetermined conditions??? How about releasing Shalit first? Or making genuine efforts to stop terrorism?
Olmert’s answer: "He is under pressure from terror groups and has no power to oppose them and overpower them."
My blood pressure just went up several points. First of all Abbas IS a terrorist. He has solid terrorist credentials from his early years (which I will be happy to recount for anyone who sends me an e-mail and asks). What is more, from the beginning of his presidency he openly courted Hamas. He was the one who made it possible for Hamas to run in the elections by inviting this group into the political process. He made it clear that he would not take them on because he did not want civil war, i.e., when he still could have, he opted not to. Recently he signed on to the Prisoners Document, which is a terrorist manifesto, openly endorsing terrorism (euphemistically called "resistance") even inside pre-’67 Israel. And his Fatah party is deep into weapons stockpiling in Gaza (with the assistance of Al-Qaida in the Sinai, according to a reliable source). Not a terrorist??
Then there is this question: If Abbas is powerless, what is the point in sitting with him. What can be gained in "negotiations" with Abbas if Hamas is in charge?
But, in fact, Olmert said — Heaven help us!! — that Abbas would be surprised at how far he, Olmert, would be prepared to go in talks. Precisely what have the Palestinians done for us lately to justify such magnanimity? Has the lesson not been learned, even now, that one-side concessions are just appeasement by another name and will weaken us and do us only harm? The world is doing us enough harm without our doing additional to ourselves.
Clearly, Olmert wouldn’t be expecting much from Abbas, for he indicated, "When (when?) we will sit around the negotiation table he will be very intransigent…He is a Palestinian patriot, not Israeli. He will fight for Palestinian interests like a lion."
And yet Olmert has said that he is prepared to release many prisoners in exchange for Shalit. In fact, he explained, "Even before Shalit’s abduction, I met Abdullah, Mubarak, and Blair and told them that I am ready to release prisoners…I am ready to release for Abu Mazen but not for Hamas."
I would ask Olmert then if he is prepared to take upon his head t
he responsibility for the people who will suffer at the hands of the released prisoners, or for those who will be kidnapped in the future because kidnapping works as a way to secure concessions.
One has to wonder if Olmert is saying this now — he used an address to the Prime Minister’s Conference for Export and International Cooperation in Tel Aviv as the venue for these thoughts — because he is totally devoid of integrity and national pride and wants to show that we’re "good guys’ after the artillery accident. Or if he is playing to the Americans before his upcoming trip to the States. Or both.
We are devoid of national leadership and deserve better, especially at this crucial time. Of Olmert I expect less than nothing. But where is the opposition? Where are the voices rising in protest to these statements and these intentions?
The "gay pride" parade will not be held tomorrow for security reasons: we are on high alert because of terror threats (something like 80 warnings have come in, some 15 concrete). Having people crowded in the public streets would have been a nightmare. And so a compromise has been worked out and there will, instead, be a "gay pride" event in a closed stadium with tight security.
There is, of course, considerable commentary from all sides with regard to how yesterday’s election will affect matters here in the Middle East. Rumsfeld’s resignation as Secretary of Defense does not augur well for a strong stance, and many of us here are close to demoralized. It is terrifying how many people don’t get it, when it’s staring us in the face quite clearly.
There is the thought that Bush — who DOES get it — is still determined to keep troops in Iraq, and that Democrats, now that they’re done with campaign rhetoric and in positions of power, may yet change their tune. We’ll see…
I would like to recommend a very pertinent and very important JINSA report on this subject (with my emphasis added):
"Now that the 2006 elections are in the bag, it should be noted that despite media emphasis on ‘the war,’ this election campaign was conspicuous for its LACK of mention of the real war. Yes, they talked around (not about) Iraq…But Iraq is a front, not the war.
"’The war’ is Iran’s export of radical Islamic fundamentalism accompanied by terrorism and directed first against the states of the Middle East and then against the modern free world including Israel… Today, Iran is in Iraq. Iran is in the Kurdish regions, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Iran is in Africa, Chechnya and Bosnia… Iran is in league with Hugo Chavez (and Daniel Ortega?). Wherever the war is, Iran is. And Iran is going nuclear.
"But with the exception of defeated Senator Rick Santorum, no candidate articulated the nature of Iran’s war against modernity and its determination to recapture territory and population for the Caliphate.
"America will have an altered direction in foreign policy…but Iran will not. Through Republicans and Democrats, through liberals and conservatives, through red-state rule and blue-state rule Iran has been pursuing the spread of radical Islam through terrorism. The first test for the new Congress and the old President will be to understand Iran’s intentions in Iraq and its impact on our soldiers. Only after that can they seriously consider how long we stay and how we leave.
"To be fair, no one wants a wider war than the one they think we already have. But here is the lesson of al Qaeda–they were at war with us long before we were at war with them. Politicians saw what was happening, but no one wanted to mention the war until after 3,000 of our citizens had been killed at home. We’ve taken the same approach with Iran. Will the outcome differ?"
Think on this, long and hard. And if you’re not terrified, you haven’t thought enough. Time is running out but it’s not too late. May I suggest that this JINSA report go to every Congressperson and Senator who advocated a pullout from Iraq.
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/11/9/posted-november-9-2006.html