Israel Resource Review 27th June, 2006


Dr. Aryeh Eldad, Member of Knesset, National Union Party

We are still mourning the deaths of IDF soldiers Lt. Hanan Barak and Staff Sgt. Pavel Slutzker, and we are still praying for the safety of Gilad Shalit and his return home. And yet some of us, as if deliberately so, have begun to focus on the most marginal details of the incident. As if deliberately not to focus on the main issue.

We are still mourning the deaths of IDF soldiers Lt. Hanan Barak and Staff Sgt. Pavel Slutzker, and we are still praying for the safety of Gilad Shalit and his return home. And yet some of us, as if deliberately so, have begun to focus on the most marginal details of the incident. As if deliberately not to focus on the main issue.

When a terror attack used to be committed in one of the settlements, a half-day of debates would begin immediately about whether there was a fence or whether there wasn't a fence. When a suicide bomber terrorist would blow himself up in a bus or a mall they used to debate for an entire day how the suicide bomber got in: through the fence or through the roadblocks that bypass the fence.

When soldiers who were guarding a "settlement" were killed, a knife-in-the-back debate used to begin: why does an entire IDF battalion have to guard a single settlement. And now, when we still have not buried the dead of the Kerem Shalom attack and it is patently evident that the fence did not stop the terrorists, an endless debate has begun over whether there was concrete intelligence or not.

In Chelm [the town of fools in Jewish lore] there was a small river that had a bridge over it. One day the bridge broke and many of the people crossing it tripped and were injured. The wise men of Chelm sat for seven days and seven nights until they decided to build a hospital beside the bridge.

The State of Israel is behaving similarly. We have a war and our attention is focused on budget cuts. Hundreds of rockets slammed into Sderot in the course of this past month and the government experts busy themselves with the question of where we are going to take the money from to finance installing protective armor in the schools in the city.

We have a war on our hands and the government busies itself with defense, fortification, excuses and preparations for the next withdrawal, which is going to turn the lives of everyone in this country into a living hell.

Where today are all those people who gambled with our lives, who promised us that if we would only withdraw from the Gaza Strip back to the Green Line quiet would reign? Where are they today, all those foolish experts who argued passionately that it would be in the terrorist organizations' best interest to maintain quiet in the Gaza Strip and that they would relocate the bulk of their terrorist activities to Judea and Samaria?

They have names: Shaul Mofaz, Dan Halutz and Amos Gilad. Why is it that they do not admit today to their strategic error? Why are they not doing penance and admitting openly: we were mistaken and we misled you. We fled from Gaza and Gaza is now pursuing us. The rule for Netzarim is the rule for Kerem Shalom.

Fix the Bridge

The people who did not respond to the 5,000 rockets that were fired on Gush Katif are now perplexed by the thousands of rockets that have been fired on the western Negev. And the defense minister, who preached restraint a week ago, bears responsibility for our dead today. If he thought seriously that the warnings that he aired to Hamas would deter that murderous organization, perhaps we need a defense minister who knows how to think better. And if he knew that the warnings would be insufficient, but he needed the Israeli casualties to "justify" assassinating the Hamas leadership, then, in my opinion, he is an out and out criminal.

Either way, he and the prime minister are responsible for the fact that Israel has been unsuccessful at stopping the Kassam rocket fire.

They have sent a message of weakness and hesitation to the terror organizations and incessantly-but truly incessantly-have busied themselves while Sderot was under continuous rocket attack with trips overseas and statements that Israel wants to withdraw and to uproot tens of thousands of settlers and to destroy hundreds of settlements.

As we speak, when the entire army ought to be busy fighting in the Gaza Strip, the defense minister has chosen to busy himself with uprooting outposts in Judea and Samaria. It is no wonder that the army needed "early warning" even when it was deployed opposite an enemy that is engaged in warfare.

And now they will punish Hamas. Now they will carry out one operation or another in Gaza, perhaps they will kill Mohammed Deif, perhaps they will kill Ismail Haniya. But, once again, it will be too little too late, if with the other hand they signal to Hamas-patience, you're winning, we intend to continue to withdraw. You can dig tunnels from Nabi Samuel all the way until you're under the Knesset, you can shoot up Ben-Gurion Airport, and then Peretz and Olmert will roll their eyes and threaten the guilty parties. But it is they who are guilty.

It is not a hospital we need, but to fix the bridge itself. To change Israel's security approach. To restore the power of deterrence.

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Yaron London, written for Yediot Ahronot on June 27th, 2006

[Veteran Journalist and Pundit Yaron London was one of the most fervent supporters of Sharon's disengagement policy last year -db]

It should be recognized that the warnings of the opponents of the disengagement from Gaza have materialized.

Disengagement did not reduce the intensity of the confrontation, and we are unwillingly being forced to send the army back to the places it abandoned. Huge quantities of weapons were smuggled through the breached entrances to the Gaza Strip, and as we learned on Saturday night, the operational ability of the terrorists has also improved. The fence has stopped hundreds of infiltration attempts, but it does not ensure quiet.

The Kassam rockets pass over it, and terrorists can dig under it. What is more severe is that the Palestinians did not use their relative freedom to rehabilitate themselves. The area where the Jewish settlements resided, about one fifth of the area of the Gaza Strip, with hothouses that could have served for the residents' welfare, is not being cultivated. Nothing was built on the ruins besides training camps for terrorists. Palestinian society did not pass the test of autonomy that was granted to it, and it is as divided, wild and combative as ever before.

There is no point in hanging onto the hope that something will come of Abu Mazen. No gesture will help him. This good man is unable to overcome the powerful currents that are sweeping the Palestinians into oblivion. We should talk with him, so that the Western countries take note of the fact that we talked, but the pressing questions that face us are not diplomatic but rather military: What to do in order to reduce the terror attacks. We tried targeted killings from the air, operations by commando units, artillery volleys aimed at sparsely populated areas and economic siege, and all these did not improve the nightly sleep of the children in Sderot. The moment is approaching when we will have to implement what we promised to do when we evacuated Gaza: You will suffer if the harassment continues after we have relieved you of the burden of the occupation. From now on we will do what states do when their sovereign territory is bombed. They return fire towards the source of the fire, no matter what it is.

Threatening to employ this tactic is also the way to bargain over the fate of the abducted soldier. Not trading him for imprisoned terrorists, but rather taking the lives of the dispatchers of the terrorists, those who conceal terrorists and the propagandists of the terror organizations.

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