February 10, 2008: Gut Wrenching

What we’re seeing today IS gut-wrenching, and I can only hope that the ultimate effect of all the bad news will be something positive, i.e., the downfall of Olmert’s government.

There are times for staying calm , and times when staying calm is inappropriate. Consider all of the following:

Osher Tuito, the eight-year old boy hit by a Kassam yesterday had to have his leg amputated. The deputy director general of Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon where this boy and his relatives were taken, reported:

"When Osher arrived here, his leg was completely crushed. It was clear that we would probably have to amputate it. He underwent surgery during the night and we are trying to keep the second leg, but it’s also in bad condition.

"Apart from that, he has a hole in his chest and his lungs are injured. We still fear an infection and are constantly on the lookout. His brother Rami was also operated on tonight. Both his legs are plastered now and we presume that he will be transferred to the orthopedic ward in the coming hours."

Osher’s father, Rafi, said, with tears in his eyes, "He is just an eight-year-old kid. A child who should be playing football, riding his bike. How can such a child live with an amputated leg, with his entire life ahead of him?"

He further explained that his sister’s house in Sderot was hit six months ago, and that his daughter, who lives outside of Sderot, is afraid to come and visit with her baby, and he tells, her, "You’re right, don’t come."


This is a source of shame for all of Israel.

But Olmert seems beyond shame. He wished the people injured in this attack in Sderot a refuah shlemah, the traditional wish that means a "complete recovery." How is he so insensitive as to wish a boy who lost his leg a "complete recovery"?


Enough is enough, and this is way over the top. Many many people are furious today. The Cabinet meeting, from all reports, was hot.

Interior Minister Sheetrit, for example, recommends leveling one Gaza neighborhood as a warning. "Any other country would have already gone in and leveled the area, which is exactly what I think the IDF should do – decide on a neighborhood in Gaza and level it….We should let them know ‘you have to leave, this area will be taken down tomorrow’ and just take it down – that will show them we mean business."

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz (who intends to challenge Olmert in Kadima primaries) lamented that there’s no plan in Gaza. Wasn’t that the trouble in Lebanon?

Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter , who just visited Sderot, is pushing for that operation into Gaza. "The home front is under an extensive Kassam attack. The home front is sustaining casualties and its civil functioning is badly damaged, but no military operation is prepared to give an answer to the situation." Dichter pointed out that the limited results of what is being done are causing frustration and dissatisfaction "among commanders and fighters." Destroying fighting morale is dangerous. And, in my opinion, considering what we face, stupid.


In addition, furious residents of Sderot came to Jerusalem, where — joined by Jerusalem residents in solidarity with them — they first blocked the entrance road to Jerusalem.

Then, carrying parts of a Kassam , they moved on the prime minister’s office, where they hoped to break in. Said Sderot resident Davidi, "We have a coward for a prime minister and a coward for a defense minister. Is there any reason to abandon children?" While one of the many children participating said, "We’ve had enough. They are firing Kassams at us. This is no joke, the Kassam kills."


But, says Olmert, "Rage is not a plan.

"We need to act in a methodical and organized fashion, over time. That’s what we’re doing, that’s what we’ll continue to do. We’ll continue to go after all terror operatives, their handlers and their dispatchers."

But it’s not enough. It’s not enough. It’s not enough. What is being done isn’t working. And now Olmert is giving notice that even though it isn’t working, he intends to go on with the same approach and not order that ground operation.

He brags that we’ve taken out about 200 terrorists who launched rockets. But I’ve read that thousands of such guys exist, and reducing the numbers to this extent is meaningless.


Why won’t he order that ground operation? Because the Palestinians have let it be known that it would interfere with "negotiations," and — Heaven help us! — Livni is coming back to invigorate that "peace process," which has been moving slowly and seems more moribund than not. In fact, the PA has appealed to the US to intervene to stop us from doing a ground operation.

So, what does Olmert answer to? His responsibility to keep Israelis safe, or his perceived need to keep Rice happy and to move on that "process" no matter what?


Oh! And there’s more. Hopefully this will help bring down the government.

Shas has agreed to stay in the government because Olmert promised that there would be no negotiation on Jerusalem now — it would be saved for last. Seemed like a flimsy excuse for staying in the government — when it was obvious what Olmert’s intentions were, but Shas faction head Minister Eli Yishai latched on to that. See, he said, because of us there are no negotiations on Jerusalem. Good we’re in the government.

But it turns out that Olmert deceived Shas. First there was this in today’s Post:

"There are public meetings and there are secret ones," the PA official explained. "The main progress has been achieved during the secret talks, particularly on the issue of Jerusalem. Today we can say that Israel is prepared to withdraw from almost all the Arab neighborhoods and villages in Jerusalem. Israel is prepared to redivide Jerusalem and this is a positive development."

This was followed by a report by Hagai Huberman in today’s edition of Makor Rishon that FM Livni told foreign diplomats a few days ago that "in her talks with [Ahmed Qurei] they are in fact discussing all the key issues, including Jerusalem. She admitted that this conflicts with what the prime minister said two weeks ago…for Shas to hear, that the matter of Jerusalem would only be discussed at the end of the negotiations."

How low can Olmert sink? If he goes much lower he’ll be operating underground.

The pressure is now on Shas , in a major way, to leave the government and help bring it down.

Tonight a spokesman for Shas, unnamed, was cited in the Post as saying Shas would not stay in a government that negotiates on Jerusalem. Right… But "would not stay" is not the same as "we resign this instant and since you lied to us, we will work to bring you down." I want to see them do it.