The war moves on, not just in the north, but on all fronts. There was considerable action today in Gaza. And on Yaffo Street right here in Jerusalem a Palestinian was picked up near the Old City, packing a ten pound explosive belt designed for a major suicide bombing. This, my friends, is the third front of this war.
In the north, we took hits again. Haifa received another barrage of missiles, which wounded 11, one critically, and destroyed part of an apartment house. These missiles are not Katyushas, they are from Syria — identifiable by the metal pellets they contain, designed to cause additional injury. For the first time missiles fell in the Golan Heights, and as far south as Afula. Truth is, we don’t know exactly what the Hezbollah arsenal contains or how far they might reach with various missiles.
Hezbollah claimed to have downed an Israeli plane, but Israel says it’s not so — it was a Katyusha that had been hit inside of Lebanon and spotted in its trajectory.
Earlier today Israel announced that 25% of Hezbollah’s strength had been taken out, which is not nearly enough. Israel is hoping to be able to continue to the end of the week to finish the job — which does not mean every single missile destroyed, of course, but the capability to do significant harm. The trick is to leave behind a situation in which it’s impossible for Hezbollah to immediately re-arm via Syria. There is talk of an international force, and considerable concern that this would be worthless.
Kofi Annan and Tony Blair today demanded an immediate cease fire, and, to his credit, PM Olmert refused.
In his excellent talk to the Knesset tonight — found at http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=30131 — Olmert addressed his determination to see this to its end, and his appreciation of the solidarity and strength of the people of Israel in facing this time.
Israel has continued to bombard inside of Lebanon. A cache of missiles was taken out. A brief ground sortie was done to clear out an area, but then the soldiers pulled back again.
From a variety of sources (including The Washington Times) has come a report that Israel is waging this war in four stages of increasing intensity, culminating in an operation with ground forces. The first stage was bombing missile caches, the second stage attacking Hezbollah command infrastructure; the last two stages are secret.
However, it seems the approach taken today of sending ground troops in then quickly pulling them out may the only ground operation we will see. Today, according to the Middle East News Line — source of information for yesterday’s alert– Olmert’s government has decided against a major ground operation because it would greatly increase European and U.S. pressure.
This represents a clear sign that whatever is being said publicly by Bush, a different message is being sent to Israel privately, and Olmert has decided not to buck it. According to information I had secured from MENL, which specializes in security issues, a ground operation is critical to completing this mission properly. Whether Israel can creatively compensate, utilizing quick ground sorties and other techniques remains to be seen.
What is greatly unsettling is the announcement that Condoleezza Rice is due here soon. Ladies and gentlemen, this woman does not show up here to give hugs and kisses and tell us we’re doing well. I write from the experience of previous visits she’s paid us. I’ve been privy to the complaints from Israeli military that she wanted what she wanted and showed no concern for the Israeli point of view. I remember vividly what happened only months ago when she shoved the agreement regarding the Rafah crossing down our throats in spite of it being a security risk for us. Our wellbeing is not high on her list of priorities; making nice with the Europeans counts a great deal more. Guaranteed, she’s coming to shut things down. Concern for Lebanon and all that. Then she’ll talk about diplomatic solutions to keep things in place. The UN, international forces, and all the rest.
It takes enormous strength to withstand this one-woman verbal barrage. At the time of the Rafah agreement, hotel employees where the meeting was held heard her screaming at high level Israelis. Screaming. It came through the door. So now is the time to continue to communicate to Bush that the American people are not in favor of pushing Israel, and, here, to communicate to Olmert that we’re with him and hope that he can stand strong. I will count every day that she does not arrive here as a positive. It buys us important time.
Absolutely critical to how this entire crisis is handled is the understanding that this is an international affair and not a local one, involving as it does Iran, and international resolve to confront that paramount threat to world peace. Olmert alluded to this in his talk today. It must be said and said again. Hezbollah is an Iranian proxy. Any backing down here will be interpreted as a victory by Iran.
Says Dore Gold, head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: "Defeating Iran’s opening shot in this Middle Eastern war is not just Israel’s interest, but the collective interest of the entire civilized world."
What I find alarming is that a good part of the civilized world simply doesn’t get it. This was made painfully clear in the statement released yesterday by the Group of Eight leaders at their summit.
The main goal they have, you see, is "restoring peace." What they have not yet perceived is that sometimes the interests of genuine peace are not served by bringing about a quiet that lets the aggressor off the hook. This is Munich mentality. Sometimes evil must be defeated.
Particularly infuriating is the statement: "The root cause of the problems in the region is the absence of a comprehensive Middle East peace." This reduces it to a regional conflict and demonstrates a total failure to understand what’s going on. Total. The root cause is the attempt of Islamic radicals to dominate the world. And woe unto the world if it fails to do battle.
These eight leaders, who are surely operating in an alternate universe, declared: "The extremists must immediately halt their attacks." They "must," huh? And who’s going to stop them if Israel is shackled? That means not calling on Israel, as they do, to "exercise utmost restraint." This is a war, guys!
And there’s more: "All Palestinian parties should accept the existence of Israel, reject violence, and accept all previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap." Should. Have they discussed this with Hamas?
Enough. This gave me a stomach ache.
This posting can be found at: https://arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/7/17/posted-july-17-2006.html