a different side of Israel

Tag: Palestinian (page 5 of 12)

Grad Missiles up the Stakes in Southern Israel

The launching of a former Soviet Union BM-21 ‘Grad’ missile at the southern Israeli town of Netivot, may have changed the stakes dramatically in Israel’s on-going conflict with the Palestinians. The Grad, formerly a part of the Soviet Union’s field missile arsenal, has a diameter of 122 m/m and can carry a 25 kg payload a distance of up to 25 km (15 miles.) 25 km is well within striking distance of a number of Israeli cities and towns, including Ashkelon (pop. 117,000) and Qiryat Gat, home of Intel’s large computer chip processing plant. The “test firing” of the Grad at Netivot, apparently by members of Fatah’s militaristic Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, was announced by senior Brigade member Abu Fadi, is a response to Israeli intention to establish a “security strip along Gaza’s border with Israel.

It appears that a number of these rockets have been smuggled over the border from Egypt; and Israel television showed a short clip of some of these missiles being literally carried out of a parked van.

Netivot, a southern Negev town of some 28,000 inhabitants, has been placed on a state of high alert following the “firing exercise”. The Grad missile has been in production since the early 1960’s, and is still being manufactured in Russia, China, and various former Soviet Block countries. Rumor has it that quantities have even been made in the USA for use by allied countries such as Uzbekistan.

Should any of these missiles find their way into the P.A. occupied West Bank, cities like Petach Tikvah, Kfar Saba and Raanana, Netanya, and even Tel Aviv may become targets.

With the scheduled international summit being planned to take place in Annapolis Maryland at the end of this month, and with Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization being one of the key entities invited to participate, it’s a big question as to what will be the outcome of this meeting as Al Aqsa M. B. is a branch of Fatah. The Grad can be fired in a salvo of 40 from a truck mounted launcher in as little as six seconds. These missiles, packed with shrapnel such as steel balls and other items were launched in large quantities by Hezbollah forces against Israeli targets in the Lebanon II War in July and August of 2006.

Abu Fadi warned that the missiles “will only be used if the barbaric enemy launches a larger scale operation into Gaza or attempts to assassinate senior Gaza leaders”. Since a ground operation is presently in the planning stage, many residents of the aforementioned Israeli cities, not to mention the beleaguered town of Sderot, may be targeted by large numbers of Grad and Kassam missiles.

The big question that the Israeli government must be asking itself is just how many of these longer range missiles were “introduced” into Gaza following Israel’s withdraw in August, 2005. Egypt’s apparent laxness in enforcing any serious ban on such weapons being brought in to Gaza can only mean that possibly hundreds of these rockets may already have literally ‘walked over’ the border; as well as other weapons such as sophisticated anti-tank rockets which proved to be deadly in Lebanon.

No doubt these efforts of the part of Al Aqsa M.B. may be attempts to derail the upcoming summit, being planned so meticulously by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. With events such as the firing of these missiles, and with both Palestinian and Israeli officials already casting doubts concerning the effectiveness of such a meeting, it might be better if it is not attended at all. Israel is not about to agree to Palestinian demands, including dividing Jerusalem, under these circumstances.

Sukkot Lemons

Sukkot LemonsIsraeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, shown meeting Wednesday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas inside the Knesset’s Succa, must be trying everything to appease the man who really isn’t worth appeasing. No sooner had this most recent meeting between the two men taken place when it was learned that Mr. Abbas is planning to meet secretly with top Hamas officials; possibly with Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ leader in Gaza.

All of these events are tied with a proposed summit meeting between Israel, the P.A., Jordan, Egypt, and the USA. With Abbas planning to meet with Hamas officials in Cairo, and judging from the Israeli government’s policies concerning any dealing with Hamas, any benefit of a summit meeting does not have much of a chance of achieving anything, according to Israeli government officials. It was only a couple of weeks back that the Israeli government declared Gaza to be a ‘hostile entity’ and could therefore be treated like an enemy country, including cutting off all services, short of dire humanitarian ones.

Mr. Abbas, who’s ability to really represent the interests of the Palestinians was made very doubtful following the Hamas takeover of Gaza, does not really have much to negotiate with insofar as achieving any kind of agreements with Israel. His desire to find a way to patch things up with Hamas indicates that he fears for his own future in light of Hamas gaining strength, as contrasted to the fortunes of his own Fatah Organization. Being a radical Islamic entity, Hamas has managed gain considerable support with not only many Palestinians, but with Arab and Muslim states abroad as well. Hamas’ popularity is in fact so strong that a senior Hamas official remarked recently that his organization has “a million and one ways to receive funding abroad”. This statement is most likely very true in light of countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia more than willing to help out. The Saudis, despite being fearful of their own monarchy being destabilized by terror groups like Al Qaeda, still favor an entity like Hamas which wants to introduce strict Islamic Shariah laws into Gaza and turn the Strip into a mini Islamic republic.

Israel’s feelings toward Hamas are “known and unequivocal” according to officials in Jerusalem. And in light of events during the past two and half years, it is unlikely that any kind of peaceful relations will ever develop between Hamas and Israel.

Meanwhile, Mr. Olmert, shown Wednesday on T.V. explaining the significance of the yellow citrine fruit known as an Etrog to Mr. Abbas, may eventually find that his efforts to create a fruitful relationship with Abbas’ portion of the P.A. may turn out like that other type of yellow citrus fruit, known as a lemon. This reminds me of the words of that classic song dealing with a broken love affair: “lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet. But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat”.

Mr. Abbas, in looking at the prospects of his sharing power again with Hamas, is probably already aware of the significance of this song.

Back to Normal

No sooner had Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad split New York for a bit of “Latino Cucaracha” with his new friend, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez; then it was “back to normal” in our part of the Middle East. Hamas is now threatening to “send 200 suicide bombers” (women) against IDF Merkava tanks. Hooray for ‘normalcy’! I was almost beginning to think that those good folks had forgotten us with all that attention on that diminutive guy with the week’s growth of beard and the same drab tie-less suits that resemble something that Borat would wear when promoting his beloved Kazakhstan.

After being on the constant receiving end of Palestinian Qassam rockets, including more than 12 sent in a period of one day, it appears that the new Defense Minister Ehud Barak is finally keeping his promise concerning dealing with the people who shoot those home made ‘bottle rockets’ over into Sderot and other places within Israel. Israeli reprisal operations, mostly from the air, have killed at least 12 Gazans, including some suspected terrorists in both Hamas and Islamic Jihad. 4 Civilians were also killed, however, due their just being in the vicinity where IAF rockets hit their targets. After all, Gaza is so oversaturated with people that it’s very difficult to pick out targets without having innocent bystanders nearby. And the terrorists know this fact very well, and use it as propaganda weapons for more negative world opinion against the Jewish State. In fact, this time, PA President Mahmoud Abbas also jumped on the bandwagon and lambasted Israel for the “massacre” of innocent Palestinians.

Poor guy. I guess that was the best he could do from his relative comfortable headquarters in the Muqata compound in Ramallah. Mr. Abbas, who has been recently receiving a lot of support, both morally and financially, from Israeli P.M. Olmert, must have been feeling the heat from his former Prime Minister, Ismail Hananyah, who just happens to be in charge of Hamas’ Islamic fiefdom in Gaza.

Anyway, getting back to ‘basics’, Dr. Nizar Rian, a senior Hamas official, declared that his approximate 50,000 Hamas fighters “sleep with explosives, ready to prevent Israeli tanks from intruding into holy Palestinian territory”. He also said that many more Palestinian women have now joined their ranks and are prepared to become martyrs as well. He reminded Israel that women have been used very effectively in past terror operations, and though it is frowned upon by the Quran for women to assume militaristic roles, “the duty to guard to Motherland is more important than any other consideration”.

Guard the “motherland”? It’s more like blowing up their enemy, especially Israeli innocents. The horrible terror attack at the restaurant in Haifa a few years back, as well as an aborted attack from a Palestinian woman on her way to explode herself in the emergency entrance of Beer Sheba’s Soroka Hospital, are two examples of “guarding the Motherland”.

We will all surely hear again soon from Mr. Ahmadinejad, as soon as he returns from having cappuccino coffees with Mr. Chavez. But until then, we can go back to ‘normality’ which includes dealing with Hamas’s new threat of 200 female suicide bombers. I wonder what they are expecting to receive in paradise, as their male suicide counterparts await the embrace of 72 gorgeous virgins? Modern versions of Omar Sharif perhaps?

Watch Out New York

No boys and girls; this isn’t a jingle like the one heard every year at Christmas time. And Iran’s “beloved” president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is definitely not Santa Claus. But he is definitely coming to town – New York City that is – on Monday, September 24, to address the annual opening session of the U.N. General Assembly. This isn’t Mahmoud’s first visit, as he also came last year to address the U.N., not long after he had made his famous comments concerning Israel’s “irreverence” and that it should be “wiped off the face of the map”.

Scheduled to address not only the UN world body; he is also slated to address a large gathering of students and faculty members at Columbia University, located on the other end of that same island that was attached by Muslim extremists in September, 2001.

This year, the Iranian President’s visit to that international “free talk zone”, otherwise known as the United Nations, comes with the Islamic Republic being even closer to becoming a declared nuclear power. It also comes just days after a series of new weapons, including new fighter bombers and long range missiles were unveiled at Iran’s annual National Day parade officiated over by “you know who”. During this parade, the Iranian leader made further unfriendly comments, including one which stated that nothing, even the U.S., was going to stop Iran from achieving its military development goals; including its nuclear ambitions.

Despite all of this, not only is this guy and his entourage going to show up on American soil; he is also scheduled to make a speech at such a prestigious academic institution as New York’s Columbia U. His declared purpose for this address: “Americans do not know the truth”.

While it’s understandable that Mr. Ahmadinjad will again be allowed into the U.N.’s famous landmark, which due to the clauses written in the organization’s founding charter makes this patch of territory “off limits” for the U.S. or any other country’s jurisdiction; it doesn’t explain why Ahmadinjad should be allowed to address the student body of Columbia – albeit with the assistance of an interpreter. Mr. A. may be surprised to discover that though he doesn’t know English, at least well enough to make a credible address in this language; there may be a number of Farsei speaking people in the university audience – including some representing the Islamic Republic’s opposition; who are very interested in hearing what he has to say, before his words are ‘diluted’ a bit by his faithful interpreters. His interpreters, no doubt hand picked from among his political followers – some of them highly educated, will do their best to convey their mentor’s words of enlightenment. This ‘enlightenment’ includes why he believes that the genocidal event known as The Holocaust is a fabrication; and why (in his opinion) that upstart group of people, known as Zionists, should be banished from lands they have “occupied” over the past 60 years. This territory includes cities like Haifa and Tel Aviv, of course; not to mention “Holy al Quds”, otherwise known as Jerusalem.

Other un-welcomed tyrants have made addresses before the U.N. in the past, including Russia’s Nikita Khrushchev, who banged a shoe on the podium and said to the Free World: “We will bury you!”; and also Cuba’s cigar smoking and gun-toting Fidel Castro. And, of course, that gun-toting Palestinian bad guy, Yassir Arafat; who even managed to win the Nobel Prize in the end for his “contributions towards world peace”.

It’s very doubtful that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will win any peace awards – not this year anyway. And it’s surprising that Columbia U. would let such a man stand behind its forum’s podium, even though the university’s faculty has become more and more anti-Israel in its orientation over the past several years. There still is that hallowed right, however, in the American Constitution regarding freedom of speech and opinion. But that “right” is supposed to be reserved for Americans and not for persons with ultimate goals of mass destruction; which includes destroying sovereign nations such as Israel.

One thing for sure is that Mr. Ahmadinejad won’t be seen strolling by the Duck Pond in New York City’s Central Park. Or will he? He may even have the outright audacity to visit Ground Zero: site of the former World Trade Center. After all, he appears to have his own ideas as to why this event happened- and who the perpetrators really were.

With these realities in mind, and in light of what might be coming down in the next few months, this person should simply not be welcome on America’s, or any other free nation’s shores.

Blair Returns For ‘Occupiers’

Former British P.M. Tony Blair and now special envoy for the ‘Quartet’ Middle East peace group, returned on Tuesday, September 4, to deal with a number of issues involving Israel and the Palestinians; including the continued ‘occupation’ of the West Bank. Blair was in Israel and the Palestinian Authority six weeks ago; his first assignment in this capacity since his June 24 departure from No. 10 Downing Street.

Blair’s task this time was to get a better assessment of the security situation in the West Bank, from both the Israeli and Palestinian points of view. Both sides continue present their views and assessments as to what can be expected regarding the future of the West Bank, as well as the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip.

Great Britain, as part of the European Union, will no doubt try to convince other Quartet entities, including the USA, and Russia, to put more pressure on the Israel government to find a solution to what many the world over consider a most unjust occupation of territory that Israel captured during the June, 1967 Six Day War.

Coming from the U.K. Mr. Blair may not realize that in regards to the term occupation, defined in the dictionary as “the seizure or possession of foreign territory by military invasion” has and still applies to his own country; which at one time, during the height of the British Empire, was one of the most notorious military occupiers in the world. Some of the more ‘recent’ examples of this is Gt. Britain’s 300 year occupation of the Indian Sub-Continent, which ended in 1947, and Ireland, which lasted 400 years until 1922 with most of the Emerald Isle receiving its independence (except for the northern sector, known as Ulster).. Gt. Britain also “occupied” or colonized large parts of the African Continent, as well as North America. Even the original 13 American Colonies were once ‘occupied’ by The Crown.

And in the Middle East itself, it is most applicable here to include the areas “occupied” by British forces during the 28 year British Mandate of Palestine, Egypt, and other countries in the region. After all, it was this occupation that prevented thousands, perhaps millions of Jews from being saved from the Nazis during WWII.

Today, what is known as the United Kingdom is really a case of conquest and occupation which, in a sense, continues to this day. The British Isles were once occupied by a number of peoples, including the Celts, the Romans, the Saxons (a Germanic tribe originally from the province of Saxony; and, of course the Norman French, whose historic invasion and “occupation” in the year 1066 changed the ethnic character of Gt. Britain forever.

In addition, it should also be mentioned that Gt. Britain itself is actually composed of England, Scotland, Wales, and N. Ireland. Scotland and Wales, like Ireland were once separate entities with their own kings, culture, and even language. Even today, many people living in both Wales and Scotland are in favor of receiving their independence. In Scotland, for example, the consensus has grown so strong in favor of this, that the British government has even granted Scotland a measure of autonomy, complete with a regional parliament and even a national flag.

Autonomy; where have we all heard this term before? Has it been in regards to Israel granting autonomy to the Palestinians; complete with a parliament and a national flag? Doesn’t this sound a bit familiar?

Well, it should, and in the final reckoning, we can only wonder if the Palestinians will be granted a separate state any more than England granting this to either Scotland or Wales. This is the message that should be noted to Tony Blair, as he tries to find solutions to undue the ‘occupation’ which has only been in existence for 30 years. He and the new British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, should take a moment to ponder their own country’s illustrious history of “occupation”. Maybe Israeli government authorities can learn something from the Brits in regards to this sensitive topic.

Dangling the “Bait”: Hamas Reconfirms That Gilad Schalit is Alive

The ‘surprise’ announcement by exiled Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal that captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit is “alive and well” makes man wonder just what the radical Islamic organization is trying to do in regards to again “dangling the bait” in front of the Israeli public. Speaking from his headquarters in Damascus, Mashaal said that Schalit is “alive and well and being treated very humanely by those who have been assigned to care for him”. Mashaal also went on to say that Gilad has been given a pair of spectacles that had been supplied by Israel to the Red Cross office in Gaza City, where Schalit is rumored to be held captive.

Does “being treated humanely” mean that Schalit is being kept in a dark, possibly underground chamber, with perhaps constant death threats and other forms of intimidation? For a young man, aged 20, who appears to have been a quiet, sensitive boy and not an aggressive warrior as many young Palestinians profess to be, this year+ consignment to solitary confinement must be nothing short of being plunged into the depths of hell.

The Hamas leader went into some detail as to what might be ‘acceptable’ to gain the young solder’s release, and who has now been in captivity for 428 days. Aside from more than 1,100 Palestinian Hamas prisoners being held by Israel, Mashaal also mentioned that he is seeking the release of West Bank Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who was given no less than 5 consecutive life sentences for his responsibility in the deaths of numerous Israeli soldiers and civilians.

Now here is the intriguing question: why would Hamas, who are now still at odds with Fatah since the Hamas takeover in Gaza, want to have a potential political and security adversary like Barghouti released? Barghouti has often been tapped as a future Palestinian Fatah leader, despite the fact he may never be released from Israeli custody. But here is where a clever person like Mashaal, and perhaps his proxy in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, are ‘investing’ in a future “Sulha” between Hamas and Fatah by being the ones who may be responsible for Barghouti’s release. If Hamas can pull off this coup and Barghouti is included in a prisoner swap for Schalit’s repatriation, the possibility of Fatah and Hamas’ reconciliation is that much closer to being reality.

Asking for the release of all 1,100 Hamas prisoners, many of them with “blood on their hands”, like Barghouti, may not be a foreseeable accomplishment; even for an expert ‘fishermen’. But if, say 400-500 are released, including Barghouti, this would give Hamas a lot of credibility clout with Palestinians on both sides of the political and Islamic spectrum.

With the continuance of Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched Qassam rockets into Israel from Gaza, however; plus attempted terror infiltrations as what happened over the weekend when two Palestinians with explosive belts climbed over a security wall at the Eres crossover point from Gaza into Israel, Hamas and Company might use a bit more prudence when fishing in “Israeli waters”. The ‘bait’ they appear to now be dangling in front of the Israeli government may wind up not being taken.

The Settlers: Two Years After

August of 2005 was a very traumatic month for nearly 8,000 Jewish settlers who were forcefully evicted from homes in more than 20 settlements in the Gaza Strip. From what was known as Gush Katif in the southern part of “Gaza” to the northernmost settlements like Dugit, the entire Gaza Strip was made “Judenrein” in less than a week, Though army units stayed around a while longer, to (hopefully) make sure that Egypt and the U.N. sent forces to the border to keep watch against arms smuggling and the like, Israel’s settlement presence of more than 35 years had officially come to an end.

And today, the majority of these “evacuees” are still living the life of displaced persons, or refugees, in their own country! Many of them had been making an excellent living by farming, and had invested not only all of their capital, but their “human capital’ into what had been very successful agricultural ventures, where Israel received a good deal of certain farm produce such as cherry tomatoes. So much was raised in hot houses which dotted the Gaza landscape that the produce found ready markets abroad. And now, many of these former farmers are still without a source of livelihood, and living in temporary housing such as caravans, pre-fabricated homes, and even in tents.

Government offers of relocation assistance have been sketchy and inadequate for these families, many of whom have anywhere from 5 to 8 or more children. Those who were “lucky” enough to leave early received what became known as “caravillas”, and find them far too cramped as compared to spacious five to seven room homes which they had built years before, when the situation was much more stable and Palestinian labor was readily available. In fact, thousands of Palestinians made their daily livelihood working either on these farms, or in the many factories set up in border industrial zones in Gush Katif and other areas. Not only did many Palestinians make their living in these areas, but many thousands more crossed the border daily into Israel to work in a variety of occupations all over central and southern Israel.

Gush Katif - Neve DekalimMany Israelis are beginning to wonder if the government’s unilateral decision, made by then prime minister Ariel Sharon, was really a good idea. For not only are the former settlers still mostly displaced; the situation in Gaza itself, now with a radial Islamic governmental entity in control, has gone from bad to worse; with Palestinian made Kassam rockets being launched at Israeli towns and settlements bordering the Strip on an almost daily basis. The settler’s presence in strategic parts of Gaza, including locations near Gaza City and other cities like Rafiah and Khan Yunis, required large numbers of soldiers to be in place there in order to defend them. The Israeli army presence also gave the IDF a strategic foothold there from both a military as will as psychological standpoint. The price paid over the years was not an easy one, however, and scores of Israeli soldiers, as well as civilians lost their lives.

In comparison to what is the current reality, however, that price may have been worth it, for it delayed what is now the new fait accompli in which the Palestinian Authority has become split into two entities: an extreme radical section ruled by Ismiail Haninya and his Hamas organization, and another entity composed of the former PLO or Fatah organization controlling their part of the West Bank. With no Israeli army units patrolling the border between Gaza and Egypt, Hamas and other radicals, including the Islamic Jihad and even Al Qaeda, are bringing in untold quantities of munitions and explosives, including sophisticated anti-tank missiles and mobile SAM missiles capable of shooting down helicopters and perhaps even commercial airplanes.

Since its military victory over rival Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah forces less than four months ago, Haninya and his organization have been rapidly changing the Gaza Strip into an ultra-conservative Islamic fiefdom with some similarities to the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Palestinian women, even those who are not Muslim, are now required to wear full covering on their bodies, and many of them are even veiled. On the economic front, unemployment is as high as 80% in many sections, and most Gaza families have to rely on handouts from Hamas and the UN in order to survive. Naturally, all of those incomes that many Palestinians received from working for “Ha Yahud” are no more.

The security situation within Gaza is now so bad that even many foreign aid organizations, including UNWRA and UNICEF are considering either reducing their presence there or even pulling out altogether. The Al Qaeda organization is not only alive and well in Gaza, but is reported to have built up an army of more than 18,000 well equipped fighters; ready to be called into “action” when the right time arises.

Was the ‘Disengagement’ really worth what is currently happening in Gaza, as well as to the lives of so many good, loyal Israelis? Would Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit be in captivity now had a stronger Israeli presence been in place within the Gaza Strip? These questions, and many others, will have to be left for the history books to give a final and appropriate answer.

Alas, if people could only peer a bit into the future…

Meet the “New Nice Guys”

Peres and Abbas at the World Economic ForumPicture from The World Economic Forum Jan. 2007
Recent events centering around the attention being given to P.A. Authority President Mahmud Abbas and his Fatah Organization (formerly known as the Palestine Liberation Organization or PLO for short) makes many Israelis wonder who their true friends really are. With the P.A. now divided into two entities “Hamastan” in Gaza and “Fatahland” on the West Bank, both the Israeli and the United States governments seem to have thrown their combined support behind Abbas, even though his people were thoroughly crushed by Hamas in Gaza, and are only still in control of Palestinian held areas in the West Bank due to Hamas not yet having enough strength in these areas – not yet anyway.

Israeli P.M. Ehud Olmert inviting Abbas to Jerusalem for talks, together with U.S. President George Bush’s speech on Monday concerning the U.S. government’s support of Abbas’ reorganized administration and outright rejection of Ismail Haniyah’s Hamas organization, seems to indicate everyone’s acceptance of the division of authority within the P.A. Olmert in fact appears so willing to accept a “moderate” Palestinian entity that in a gesture of good faith, he has agreed to release a total of 255 Palestinian prisoners in order to cement the deal. Not only that, the Israeli P.M. is also willing to not pursue another 180 members of West Bank terror groups, such as the Al Aqsa Brigades, some of whom were definitely involved in killing and wounding Israeli soldiers and civilians in the past.

Just who are these “moderate” Palestinians with whom Israeli government leaders, including newly installed Israeli President Shimon Peres, are now willing to accept as new partners for peace? Many Israelis appear to have very short memories since previously, before groups such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad came into being, Israel’s Public enemy No.1 was non other than the PLO, headed by that old-time believer in armed struggles, Yasser Arafat himself. With Arafat at the helm, and being ably assisted by none other than Abbas , known better by his code name Abu Maazan, some of the worst “armed struggles” against Israelis occurred during a 25 year period leading up to the 1993 Oslo Accords. These attacks include:

1. The 1968 Savoy Hotel attack in Tel Aviv
2. The 1970 attack at Ben Gurion Airport, carried out with the able assistance of both the German Badar Meinhoff gang and the Japanese Red Brigade.
3. The massacre of Israeli Athletes at the 1972 Olympiad in Munich Germany.
4. The attack and massacre of 23 Israeli school children in the northern Galilee town of Maalot.
5. The 1978 Haifa Road bus hijacking in which more than 30 Israelis lost their lives.
6. And numerous attacks against Israelis in Nahariyah, Jerusalem, on Kibbutzim, and on army bases.

For the point of good order, it must be pointed out that all of these attacks were carried out long before the first suicide bomber blew himself up at the Hadara central bus terminal in late 1993!

In more recent times, many of these ‘moderate’ Palestinians were involved in numerous shooting incidents against both soldiers and civilians in the West Bank, and were also part of the group of Palestinians who lynched two Israeli reserve soldiers at the police station in Nablus at the beginning of the Second Intifada in October, 2000.

Moderate Palestinians? It might be argued by some that the group of 255 slated to be released on Friday are not supposed to be ones with “blood on their hands”, such as Marwan Barghouti, who was sentenced to no less than 5 consecutive life prison terms by an Israeli military court. But really now, how can it be possible that none of these persons, including several women, have absolutely clean records without even a few drops of blood on their hands? Not only that, with the P.A. now split into two separate entities, the release of even a thousand Fatah prisons will not help towards securing the repatriation of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is being held by a group similar to the one who held BBC journalist Allan Johnston in Gaza for nearly four months. Who knows how many Hamas and other prisoners, many whom are surely murderers, will have to be set free in order to gain Shalit’s eventual release?

“Moderates”, in reference to Abbas and his Fatah organization, is only a cosmetic term conjured up to make the whole situation seem more palatable. But ‘palatable’ for whom? The citizens of Israel who have to live with their Palestinian ‘neighbors, or for US President Bush and other nations composing the 4 nation “quartet” who have pledged to bring about a final status solution for both Israel and the Palestinians.

If this scenario is what one refers to as “palatable”, then a lot of indigestion is certainly due to take place in both Israel and within the Palestinian Authority. And acute indigestion usually leads to a severe case of ulcers – bleeding ones that is.

Allen Johnston and Gilad Shalit

Wednesday’s “miraculous” release of kidnapped British journalist Allen Johnston, and his appreciation to the efforts of the Hamas organization in gaining his release from a shadowy Palestinian extremist group, the Army of Islam, only continues to point out the absurdities between this episode and the continued captivity of a young Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Johnston. Looking tired and pale, but otherwise in relatively good health, Johnston couldn’t have enough kudos to express in regards to his appreciation for the efforts that Hamas was supposed to have made to secure his release.

No sooner had Johnston finished expressing his appreciation, in the midst of a meal prepared by “former” PA prime minister Ismail Haniyah, than Johnston was whisked off to Jerusalem to present a special message from Hamas to Israeli governmental authorities. The “special message” is alleged to be one regarding a potential release of Corporal Shalit, who recently passed his first full year as a prisoner of what appears to be the same group who held Johnston for nearly four months. No sooner had Johnston been released from captivity, Hamas’s spokesman said in an ITV interview that Shalit’s possible release was “a different situation” and that the price Israel would have to pay to gain the young soldier’s release was going to be much different than the one that resulted in Johnston’s release, which was only a handful of ‘prisoners’ being held by both Hamas and the Army of Islam.

Judging from all the media attention that was given to Johnston’s release, it is a wonder whether this event might have been staged in order to put Hamas in a better light with the world media. So far, this hasn’t appeared to have worked as U.S. President George Bush said that the act on behalf of Hamas still doesn’t take the heat off of what is still regarded in the USA as a terrorist organization. Shalit, from whom a brief tapped message was recently given over by his captors, is reported to be in bad health and is suffering from a variety of ailments, some of which may have been inflicted on the day of his capture on June 26, 2006. The torment that has been inflicted on Shalit’s family, as well as on the entire Israeli population, has been played out during his long captivity and mostly likely orchestrated by a number of people, including possibly Al Qaeda operatives who are reported to be receiving instructions “from Afghanistan”.

The price that will have to eventually be paid to secure Shalit’s release could involve literally hundreds of Palestinian prisoners being released from Israeli prisons; many of whom with “blood on their hands”.

As for Johnston, he will soon arrive back in his native England and will undoubtedly continue to express his undying appreciation to the Hamas organization for securing his release. If and when Cpl. Shalit is released, will he also have someone to thank for efforts made to secure his release? At present that “someone” has yet to present themselves as Israeli government officials, particularly Prime Minister Olmert, have not yet presented an offer attractive enough to satisfy Shalit’s captors. And meanwhile, the Qassam rockets still fall into Israel and Israeli military forces again conduct operations against Hamas and other organizations in Gaza.

As British author Charles Dickens once wrote in his novel, A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times” in regards to the conflict between two separate entities. One wonders what Dickens would have written concerning the fates of the two individuals mentioned in this article. Who would be Charles (Evremonde) Darnay, and who would be Sydney Carton? We’ll let you, the reader, figure this one out.

Message From Gilad Shalit on One Year Anniversary

Gilad SchalitIt’s a year today since Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas… Today they released an audio recording from him where he speaks. It’s the same thing we hear every time a group of terrorists in the Middle East kidnaps anyone, sad because you hear the people you love speaking someone else’s words. So painfully obvious that these are not the things a son would tell his parents after a year of nothing. I wonder if these people actually think this sounds real to anyone.

These are selected excerpts in their own words (Hat Tip: Ynet News) :

“Mother and father, my sister and brother, my friends in the Israel Defense Forces. I greet you from prison and miss you all.. I have spent a full year in prison, and my health is still deteriorating, and I need a prolonged hospitalization. I regret the lack of interest on the part of the Israeli government and the Israel Defense Forces in my case and their refusal to meet the demands of the al-Qassam brigades.. .. Just as I have parents, a mother and father, the thousands of Palestinian prisoners have mothers and fathers to whom their sons must be returned… ..I have a great hope from my government that it show more interest in me and meet the demands of the Mujahideen (captors).”

Just by way of comparison, this was the letter his parents wrote June 26, 2006:

Our dear and sweet Gilad: Mom, dad, Yoel and Hadas are very concerned for you and wish to hear from you. We hope that you are healthy and feeling well, as best as it is possible in your condition. We hope that you can read these lines and we want you to know that the greatest efforts are being carried out so that you can return home to Hila and the Galilee, to your family, and your room that awaits you as soon as possible.

We want you to know that we are thinking about you all the time and hope that somehow you are doing ok and surviving these moments.

We are confident that whoever is holding you also has a family and that they know what we are going through and will know to keep you healthy and safe.

Love you and support you,

Mom and dad

Video Interviews on Sderot, The Palestinians and The Future

A new video by Noah Ickowitz – A Closer Look: The Politics and Future of Israel, questions on Sderot, life in Israel, our future and the Palestinians…

If Arafat Could See This

Moshik has an idea of what Arafat would do if he saw the recent events in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza…

Arafat Would Not Want To See This

Rockets Hit Qiryat Shmona – Part Two ??

Rockets Hit Qiryat ShmonaAt 17:20 (an hour ago) 2-4 rockets landed in Qiryat Shmona and one in a UNFIL camp near the Northern border. These are simple 107 MM and rockets and the army is checking the source. A Spanish UN unit near the border is claiming that they heard multiple outgoing rockets but there is no confirmation. The Hezbollah is denying any connection to the event. The rockets hit outside the Neviot Mineral Water plant and damage was only to property. The Mayor of Qiryat Shmona already announced that everything is back to normal and that residents will be sleeping at home tonight. The army is waiting to get some intelligence reports and information from the UN Peace Keepers on the Lebanese border.

It could be that this is an attempt by some Palestinian groups to get something going in the North and heat up things on the Northern front. Hope this is just a “little misunderstanding”…

The Israeli Palestinian Comedy Tour

A long time ago we had a post here about Ray Hanania and I just came across this Israeli Palestinian Comedy Tour. It’s too bad that there is not more of the Palestinian side in this. I know that the intention is good and all, but if you ask anyone on the street about this they wouldn’t have heard about these guys. Still a nice story though…

The Six Day War 40 Years After

The Six Day War
They’re now graying, and many have more than comfortable paunches on their midriffs. But those Israelis who fought in the war of June 5-11 1967, now historically referred to as the Six Day War, still remember its glory. The Six Day War: a miracle victory against the combined armies of three Arab countries, two of whom are now at peace with Israel.

Recently, a reunion was made of the veterans who fought in the battle to liberate Jerusalem, three of whom are shown here when they experienced being at the Kotel or Western Wall for the first time in their lives. In fact, Israelis had not been allowed into the Old City and especially to pray at Judaism’s most holy site since the siege of this part of Jerusalem during the War of Independence, in 1948. The unification of the city, together with the capture of the entire Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank of the Jordan, including the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria, not only changed the history of the Middle East, but of the entire world.

As a result of this war, Israel’s status changed from being a tiny country under siege from all its neighbors to an occupying power due to its new jurisdiction over all the inhabitants of the lands it conquered during one of the most miraculous military conflicts of modern times.

It hasn’t been an easy change for the State of Israel, as less than 7 years later an even more terrifying war broke out, the Yom Kippur War, in which Israel was ferociously
Attacked by the combined forces of Egypt and Syria; a war that in its first critical days seemed almost to be the end of the Jewish State. Though Israeli military forces managed to win this war, at a terrible cost of more than 3,000 young soldier’s lives, and despite an eventual peace treaty with Egypt and the return to that country of the Sinai Peninsula, the situation regarding the ‘territories’ has become even more complicated with two ‘Intifada’ uprisings, scores of suicidal terrorist attacks and, now the specter of civil war amongst the Palestinians, who were given autonomy in the 1994 Oslo Accords.

40 years later, still no peace has occurred between Israel and its neighbors, which now include Israel’s entire northern regions after last summer’s Lebanon II war. Israel still maintains diplomatic relations with both the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. But it’s a very chilly peace, with indications that Egypt may one day again be at war with Israel, since that country continues to build up and improve it’s military forces; this time with help of Israel’s mutual ally, the United States.

The situation with Syria, Israel’s most immediately dangerous adversary, is as tense as ever, with Syrian President Bashar Assad, basking in the glory of his recent “re-election” to another seven year term in office, calling for the ‘liberation of the Golan Heights from the hands of the Occupiers’ (Israel). And Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah, head of the Lebanese based Hezbollah, is now stronger than ever following the end of last summers war in which more than 4,000 ketiusha rockets were launched into Israel, striking even Haifa, Israel’s third largest city.

And on top of all of this, what might be the most dangerous enemy of all for the Jewish State, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is bent on “uprooting the Zionist tree once and for all from this region”.

40 years after; and yet it seems almost like yesterday. As an ancient philosopher once said in Rome concerning events in this part of the world: “the only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain”. And judging from events which have transpired in the past 40 years, these words are still true in regards to the prospects of peace between Israel and its neighbors.

Still, the glory and the pride of those six fateful days, four decades ago, still linger in the minds of many who fought that historical war; including the three men who gathered a few days ago in the same spot where they stood so long ago in awe of their faith’s, and country’s most hallowed historical, symbol – the Kotel.

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