How shall I describe my response? Unbearable frustration? Rage? Shame?
The government of Israel is making itself foolish, and it’s difficult to sit still for this. Even saying nothing is far preferable to making empty threats, and yet PM Olmert opts for the empty threats. He is going to cut off the electricity to Gaza if Shalit is not released, he announced. Then he decided he wouldn’t do this. He is going to prevent supplies from going into Gaza instead, he announced. Then he decided he wouldn’t do this.
What is this? Are they not laughing at us in Gaza?
Troops and heavy equipment sit on our border with Gaza. Will there be an action into Gaza if Shalit is released? There should be, as those responsible have to be held accountable in any event — never mind that it’s past time to stop the Kassams. There must be an understanding that terrorist behavior brings with it serious repercussions. As today’s Jerusalem Post editorial puts it: The price extracted must be higher than any gains to the Palestinians for their behavior.
But Israeli intention to actually act is in doubt. I read a statement that the U.S. was urging the terrorists to release the IDF soldier to prevent an Israeli incursion into Gaza. Really now? Is it that simple? Do they get cut slack once again?
The mention of the U.S. is key here. And in place of "U.S." read "State Department" and even more specifically "Condoleezza Rice." Rice has come forward with statements urging that no party do anything to "escalate" the situation.
Intolerable. This is a time for the Secretary of State of our presumptive closest ally to provide a tacit understanding that we cannot sit still for what is being done by terror groups and that we’ve got to get the bastards, good. Instead there is a report from Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA suggesting that Rice has control of the situation and that Israel will not move into Gaza without a nod from her. (See http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=29815) Very intolerable, indeed. Both what Rice would do and that Olmert caves.
YNet reports this statement from Defense Minister Peretz: "I don’t think the IDF should prove its military superiority every time."
Under the circumstances, about as lame as could be. This man, who stopped Israel cold with strikes when it was in the interest of his unions, is over his head.
Olmert has given yet another ultimatum: that if the soldier is not released within 48 hours (I believe as of late yesterday) then we will enter Gaza. Let’s see what happens on Thursday.
Reports right now place Shalit in a refugee camp in the Rafah area, but very well hidden. Wounded in the arm (or leg) and stomach, but receiving treatment. As time elapses, his release seems less likely. Apparently there is dissension between different Palestinian parties and factions regarding his release, with a poll showing that most Palestinians don’t want to see him released without a trade.
Israel has blockaded Gaza along the seacoast in an effort to prevent Hamas from slipping Shalit out of the area all together. Furthermore, Egypt has amassed troops along its border with Gaza to prevent a flood of people from entering Egypt if there is an Israeli action. (Aaron Lerner suggests, however, that a well placed Hamas bribe offered to Egyptian soldiers would allow them to slip Shalit into Egypt and then away, perhaps to Damascus.)
Much is garbled:
There are reports that Abbas has warned Haniyeh that Israel will try to assassinate him, and other reports that PA intelligence knows that Israel recognizes Haniyeh as the "moderate" facing off against Masha’al in Damascus.
There are statements regarding this situation as a test of Abbas: That is, does he have the power to effect Shalit’s release? But there’s another question that is not being adequately addressed: Does he have the desire to do so? According to a report from military intelligence, the PA militia are not actively seeking the kidnappers. My guess is that rescuing Shalit would be an extremely unpopular move and that Abbas, as is his wont, will give it no more than lip service. Ultimately it doesn’t matter: If he cannot or wishes not to, it comes to the same thing. Will the international community continue to push him on us as a viable negotiating partner after this???
The deputy head of research for military intelligence told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee this morning that the international community is not pressuring Hamas to release Shalit. This is something to be noted carefully.
Interestingly, according to him the single exception is Egypt, which has been very active in trying to resolve the situation. This is not for love of Israel, be assured, but rather out of concern about escalating tensions in the area at their border.
No aspect of the current situation is more intolerable than the position the extreme left is taking. Calls have come from several quarters, including from members of the Meretz party, for us to negotiate with Hamas, without comprehension of the way in which this encourages further terrorism. What is more, a Gush Shalom announcement declared, “It is worth remembering that in the Gaza Strip, as in other parts of the Palestinian territories, there are thousands of families waiting for the return of their loved ones from Israeli prisons, in exactly the same way the family of the soldier, Gilad Shalit, is waiting for his peaceful return.” This despicable drawing of moral equivalency conveniently overlooks the fact that Palestinian Arabs in Israeli prisons are for the most part there because they have taken or attempted to take innocent Israeli lives. We are, indeed, are own worst enemies.
Information has come to light regarding the attack: There was a warning in place for some days prior to this attack — intelligence had picked up the possibility of terrorists digging a tunnel in the Keren Shalom area and attempting to kidnap a solider. Apparently a search for tunnels was done, but the tunnel was not located. It had been dug very deep and entered farther into Israel than was thought it would. As I have read descriptions, the soldiers were facing the border with Gaza and the terrorists came up at their backs and attacked them from behind. A simple but serious mess up.
The terrorists did not take Shalit back through the tunnel, but blew a hole in the highly fortified fence separating us from Gaza and entered that way.
I strongly recommend today’s column on the kidnapping in the Post by Caroline Glick, "Israel’s Rude Awakening," in which she says that "a world view and a security doctrine have been blown to smithereens." http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1150885858215&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
While this is not yet a certainty, it seems increasingly likely that there may be a second kidnapping. Yeshiva student Eliyahu Asheri, 18, of Itamar in Samaria, hasn’t been seen since Sunday night, when he was in Beitar. The Popular Resistance Committees had announced that they had kidnapped a settler. Certainly Asheri’s disappearance does not augur anything positive.
Reportedly Fatah and Hamas have completed negotiations with regard to the "Prisoners’ Document." Negotiations were entered into in part to give Hamas the appearance of conciliation and moderation so that the PA would not be ostracized by the world community. The kidnapping has done a great deal to undermine the impression that Hamas hoped to convey. More to follow on this when it is signed.
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