10 IDF Reserve Soldiers were killed less then the hours ago as they gathered to attend an orientation conference at Kibbutz Kfar Giladi, north of the town of Kiryat Shmona. The men, who were standing in an open parking area, at the Kibbutz entrance, apparently had no advanced warning that the missiles were coming their way. They had arrived to attend the conference for the purpose of receiving full orientation regarding the military operations still in progress in southern Lebanon in units they had been assigned to join. Another reservist was critically wounded and four others received medium injuries.
The event, the worst tragedy that has happened to Israelis since the 26 day old conflict has begun, occurred in broad daylight, like so many other rocket attacks in Israel’s northern sectors. More than 150 Katyusha rockets have fallen so far today. Many of them struck other parts of Israel’s Galilee ‘panhandle’; including Kiyat Shmona, and a Golan Heights Druze village, Magdal Shams.
Scores of emergency vehicles, including police units, ambulances, fire Brigade units, and special terror fighting vehicles were on the scene within minutes. But for most of the above mentioned victims, help arrived too late.
Israeli government ministers and spokesmen, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, are reviewing all aspects of the tragedy, before making a formal statement. Questions are already being raised as to why the reservists had gathered in an open area prior to attending the conference, despite previous warnings to not be so exposed, due to so many rockets already falling in this area. Another question is why no warning siren had been sounded in time to give the men at least a chance to dash to the safety of a shelter.
The government’s call for reprisal action is likely to be forthcoming. One wonders, however, what further action can be done in addition to the present on-going military operations still in progress in Southern Lebanon by IDF ground and air units to eliminate further catastrophes as this from occurring again.
“It still appears that despite intense IDF military actions to take out Hezbollah missile launching sites, this organization still appears to have the ability to continue launching their missiles at will”, Channel 2 ‘on the scene’ reporter commented.
Hezbollah leaders have reportedly said, they only honor a cease fire if “all enemy troops leave Lebanon at once”. This will unlikely happen until, some kind of international ‘buffer force’ arrives to patrol the Southern Lebanese areas formerly held by the Hezbollah.
Israel’s casualty list (both military and civilian) of those killed in this conflict has now surpassed 75. Though much smaller than the number of Lebanese casualties, it is still ranks as the largest number of deaths in recent times, and by far the largest number of civilian deaths, outside of terrorist attacks. This incident is a definite reminder that the conflict is far from over, and that Israelis will have to understand that what is needed to persevere is same fortitude as noted by Winston Churchill during WWII: “Blood, Toil, Sweat, and Tears.”