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March 11, 2008: Stymied

March 11, 2008

What to say? How to understand?

It was clear yesterday that Olmert was lying through his teeth when he said there was no ceasefire being arranged and that Egypt had no mandate to try to arrange one. The launching of rockets just stopped spontaneously, right?

Well, today the truth — such as it may be — begins to emerge, but the precise parameters of what’s going on remain fuzzy. That there has been some sort of deal — very likely only informal at this stage — is clear. An Israeli defense official, who has insisted on remaining anonymous, says a deal has been worked out with Egyptian mediation in which Israel agrees to refrain from massive attacks in Gaza if there are no rockets launched at us.

According to this version of events , we would retain the right to carry out attacks on specific targets if the need should arise, and Egypt is pledged to work to stop the smuggling of weapons.


But before this made the news , al-Quds al-Arabi in London had released a different version of the deal. This paper, citing Arabic sources, said that Amos Gilad, when he was in Cairo, had demanded a month long trial period, and that if it was successful, Israel would then be party to an official ceasefire.

I believe that the notion that we can sustain even a lull without weakening ourselves is unrealistic: The Security Cabinet had set out a policy of going after Hamas and weakening its infrastructure. If we back off now, we show ourselves to be weak and our deterrence power diminishes even further than it already has.

But the implications of what al-Quds described are far more serious still. Hamas has said repeatedly that they won’t accept a ceasefire unless it includes Judea and Samaria. This would be nothing short of a disaster, because it’s our IDF operations there that protect us from terrorist attacks. It’s hard for me to believe that even Olmert would be that stupid. Or, let me say, that the defense/security establishment would sit still for this.

There are other parameters to the agreement reported in al-Quds, but I won’t belabor them at great length as I have no clue as to how accurate this report is. For example, a Cairo source is said to have reported that Gilad stipulated that there had to be an end to the digging of weapons smuggling tunnels. Well, that stuck me as fairly foolish. For there are already dozens of such tunnels and the goal is to stop the smuggling, whether via those tunnels or via breaks in the border fence, or via the crossing at Rafah should it be opened, or any other way.


The point, quite simply, is that we would, once again, with such an arrangement, be trusting our security to others — to the integrity of Hamas to honor an agreement (which is a totally ludicrous notion) and of Egypt to ensure that smuggling stopped (which is also fairly ridiculous).

It makes no sense to imagine that if we sit still Hamas won’t be strengthening in the interim. I just wrote about 150 Palestinians from Gaza currently training in Iran. Some of them are being prepared as trainers who will come back and teach others. Will the ceasefire agreement block their re-entry into Gaza? Or will it somehow (how?) stop Hamas from working on improving their rockets or building more?

We received the news this week that Hezbollah has completed its rearmament and is again ready to take on Israel. Dear G-d! This is the result of trusting others to protect us. And Olmert would do it again?


Meanwhile, Olmert met with people from Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon today. These good people were traumatized by the Grad-Katyusha that almost hit the hospital the other day and are seeking protection. "Get used to it," our joke of a prime minister told them. "It’s going to keep on happening."

Well, I had two conflicting responses to this at the same time: First, that’s the wrong answer. The only proper answer is that our defense forces will act to take out the enemy that shoots at our civilian population this way. And then, I wondered why he was saying this, if there is a "ceasefire," even informally, in effect.


And, sure enough, it happened today . It was almost surreal: Shortly after Olmert left, a rocket came into Ashkelon, although it landed in a field and caused no injuries or destruction. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility, but Israel says Hamas, which controls Gaza, must be held responsible.

One rocket is not going to stop the informal agreement for a lull, such as it exists. But if renegade groups continue?


And so, it’s still a "wait and see" situation.

Likud faction Chairman Gideon Sa’ar submitted a petition to Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, signed by some 40 MKs, calling for a special Knesset session to be held with Olmert in attendance. According to Sa’ar, the session is needed because the government "has no way and no strategy, and is only serving for its own survival purposes."


Other news will wait until another day.

The suggestion was made in the al-Quds report (again, that has not been confirmed) that there will be no retaliation for the terrorist attack at Mercaz Harav if the ceasefire agreement is forged. This is totally unacceptable. But I noticed today that there was no news about the investigation, although there had been so very much news just a day before. If Hamas is suspected of being involved, and if this ceasefire deal is in process, it might be hushed up. An unbearable thought. But a possibility.

And so, I end today, most appropriately , with this:

I see a lot of video and pp presentations . But this memorial flash presentation, produced by Shlomo Wollins, in memory of the yeshiva victims, is as stunning as it is incredibly painful. View it, and share it share it broadly. "Never again," it says, "or again and again and again?" "It is up to the Jews."





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