In the last few days, there has been a series of leaks from the American establishment with regard to the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran.
None was more startling than the comment last week by Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, that an Israeli strike on Iran might "destabilize" the region. One was forced to ponder whether Mullen considered the possibility that Iran might develop nuclear capacity something that would lead to relative stability in the admittedly volatile Middle East.
Mullen had been briefed by Israeli military brass in Washington recently, but declines to indicate what he knows about Israeli intentions. His concern, as voiced, was that opening a "third front" — in addition to Iraq and Afghanistan — would be very stressful, though not impossible, for the US.
According to some analysts the intensifying US debate regarding the repercussions of what Israel might do reflects two camps at odds with each other within the US: Vice President Dick Cheney, who is for an attack on Iran, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who is opposed.
At the end of the day, Israel requires US support in order to attack, because we would go through US controlled airspace over Iraq and because we would require help in responding after the fact.
The sense I’ve had in the last few days regarding Arabs with Jerusalem residency cards is that they’re running scared. There were loud protests from the neighborhood of Sur Bahir that Husam Taysir Dwayat wasn’t a terrorist at all, but only an Arab who liked Jews and happened to go berserk.
There are several flaws in this reasoning, however. One is the fact that he shouted Allah Akhbar! which is what terrorists shout when about to kill Jews. And that an aunt of his, on hearing the news, yelled, "He’s a shahid ! (martyr)." Then there is the information that Dwayat was convicted a few years ago of raping a Jewish woman. Rape is an act of aggression. And in an interview given yesterday to the Post, the Jewish woman who lived with him for some time (and with whom he fathered a child) said she left him because he was abusive: "He would really hit me hard…"
The decision was made a few days ago to raze his house , and with it the house of Ala Abu Dhaim of Jebl Mukaber, the Mercaz Harav yeshiva terrorist. This was after Attorney General Menahem Mazuz had informed the government that "In view of the rulings of the High Court of Justice over many years, it cannot be said that there is a legal obstacle to activating the authority to demolish homes." However, he said, in a statement that was not clarified in the press, "such action arouses significant legal difficulties."
And so, Defense Minister Barak gave the IDF the order to begin the demolition process. But — wouldn’t you know it? — in short order there was backtracking. Seems another family lives in the house where the Dwayat family lives. So it has been decided to seal the living quarters of the Dwayat family, which doesn’t not have the same impact. Apparently no one was interested in pursuing the option of simply relocating that other family. The home of the family of Abu Dhaim will also be sealed rather than razed, even though I haven’t heard of any other family living there.
Preliminary work has begun on adjusting legislation so that families of terrorists will not receive Israeli benefits. As the law is structured now, Dwayat’s widow is eligible for benefits. Yes, I know this is incredible.
And the family of Dwayat has been prohibited by the police from erecting a traditional mourning tent.
An update on the "pretend" ceasefire: Intermittently we continue to be hit by rockets and mortars (a mortar was fired just today). Although Hamas has not fired any of these weapons, Israel is holding it responsible.
One of the groups that does fire rockets — along with Fatah’s Al Aksa Brigades — is Islamic Jihad, ostensibly because of "ceasefire violations" in Judea and Samaria. But we hadn’t agreed to a ceasefire in Judea and Samaria, although that is what the terrorists had been plugging for. We’re continuing to take out terrorists there, which isn’t sitting well with IJ.
In fact, the IDF is also gearing up for major operations in Judea and Samaria against Hamas civilian infrastructure. A senior IDF officer was reported by Haaretz as saying of Hamas:
"They have knowledge, funds and skilled people , much more so than Fatah….They won the elections in many towns and local authorities, and they are gradually gaining control of more education, health, welfare and religious institutions…The Palestinian public prefers Hamas, because they are less corrupt and more efficient."
As Hamas has taken over not just blatantly Islamic bodies , but also those that used to be under PA control, this is an attempt to strengthen the PA, which currently has little control. The IDF has received permission to confiscate buses, prohibit the opening of a school with Islamic ties, and shut down offices and warehouses tied to providing funds for Hamas. Just today four facilities associated with a Hamas-affiliated charity were closed in Nablus.
The first question that comes to mind is how long the "lull" in Gaza will last with this going on.
And the second is how it can be imagined that this will "strengthen" the PA if it needs the IDF to step in for it.
In spite of the intermittent fire alluded to above , we have opened crossings into Gaza off and on. Presumably we are closing the crossings for a day or two every time there are rockets fired, but it doesn’t seem to have a noticeable effect.
In a breathtakingly foolish statement last week, Olmert declared that “an absolute lull cannot be imposed within a short while, and therefore we have shown and will show some patience. However, no one should interpret this patience as weakness."
Please see the Jerusalem Post article detailing what Hamas is doing to strengthen for war under cover of the ceasefire, and then decide for yourself if our sitting still is a weakness:
Meanwhile, Hamas declared on Friday that it was discontinuing negotiations on Shalit — with Abu Marzuk telling Al Hayat in London that Hamas would not send a delegation to the talks that were supposed to take place in Cairo. First there was some claim about unspecified ceasefire violations that Israel was said to be guilty of.
But then came the truth of the matter, with an unnamed "activist" with Hamas telling the paper that: "After the prisoner swap deal between Israel and Lebanon, according to which Lebanese prisoner Samir Kuntar is slated to go free, Israel is expected to display greater flexibility in talks over a prisoner swap with Hamas."
This was so predictable. So painfully predictable.
Today the brothers of Eliyahu Shahar , a police office killed by Kuntar at the same time that he murdered Danny Haran and his daughter in 1979, have appealed to the High Court to block his release. The way these thin
gs work, I have doubts that the appeal will be successful, but it’s certainly worth the try.
The process for releasing Kuntar apparently requires having the president, Shimon Peres, pardon him. That won’t happen until a "certain" stage, when everything is in place, but the mere thought of "pardoning" him, even if it is simply form, brings shudders.
At present Israel is exhuming bodies of some 200 terrorists, which are to be returned. Someone from the rabbinate, which will be supervising this, made a point of saying that dead bodies are treated with respect, no matter whose they are. Let the world note this.
The Israeli government doesn’t consider the deal finalized yet, as a report on Ron Arad that was part of the agreement has not yet been read. Arad was captured after his plane went down over Lebanon in 1886; while he is now presumed dead, no definitive information on him has been forthcoming.