Drudge is linking to this CNN story, which is carrying a report from IBA Channel 1 in Israel that a doctor has claimed to have treated Gilad Shalit for his injuries.. Would be great news if it is confirmed.
Quite a chain..
The reports are as of yet unconfirmed. If you read the rest of the CNN story however one thing does become clear & quite confirmed. Weak Israeli leadership & endless concessions to the Palestinians with NOTHING in return for 15 years now have made Israel the punching bag of the World.
CNN practically waxes poetically about the leader of the Hamas terrorist organization, how they are 'powerless' to free Shalit like they are some sort of white knights, neglecting to expound on how Hamas kidnapped him in the first place.
Goes on to report how the USA has unilaterally snatched Israel's right to determine its own fate or defend itself away;
"We want the Israelis to practice restraint, and the Palestinians to hand over the soldier," Snow said Friday morning.
A full 180 as Queen Condi reverses policy to placate her European court jesters, Israel served up cold to the hungry jackals of Europe for 'future considerations'.
Lack of experience
Prime Minister Olmert with little experience, Foreign Minister Livni with even less, the Defense Minister Peretz simply incompetent, it all equals the weakest Israeli leadership I can remember. Egypt's Mubarak plays them like suckers, the USA steam rolls them. World wide expectations, appeasement & negotiations with terrorist groups under the cover of it being 'indirect' have now destroyed a core principle which has defended the people of Israel for 58 years - Our integrity & strength.
Sold off like a cheap trinket by the Olmert government, that will be Olmert's legacy.
And the lesson for Israel's enemies?
Snatch whomever you want, launch whatever you want anywhere, pound Israel with abandon. The dog may snarl and growl, but it is firmly on its master's leash and you can taunt it with glee. Israel will flex and moan, destroy empty fields, launch air strikes against empty buildings, and despite it all still be the bad guy!
Tell the world to go fly a kite Ehud Olmert, before it is too late.. Before all of Israel and not just Gilad Shalit becomes an eternal hostage.
The misleading headlines tell the story..
For the first time in over 5000 years, the life of an 'innocent philistine' is worth more than the lives of two sons of Israel, one already shot in the head. I'm ashamed.
The Army is upset at the Defense Minister, the PM is upset at the Army, and operations in the North of Gaza appear scrapped..
(Haaretz) Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday rejected a proposal by Defense Minister Amir Peretz and the Israel Defense Forces for a ground operation in the northern Gaza Strip against the ongoing Qassam rocket fire. Olmert demanded that they present him with an approved operational plan.
According to government sources, the operation, which will target Beit Hanun, will take place, but Olmert wants the operation to be "prolonged and exhausting," and did not believe that the plan he was shown fit the bill. [...]
Sounds like a load of hogwash to me, but let's give Israel Prime Minister Olmert the benefit of the doubt. Meanwhile, Amir is not adored by his public and the rift between him and the defense establishment is growing canyonesque..
Maybe the operation was too watered down, though my own understanding is that major major forces were gathered next to the strip in the North. These delays and lack of confidence are allowing the Palestinians to build treacherous defenses.
It is worth noting that Olmert did pretty much the same regarding the Phase I plan earlier this week, delaying things about 24 hours or so for a new plan to be presented to him. That's the reason I think Ehud may be covering & stalling, because it looked like cover to give so called diplomacy (with a terrorist group yet) more time.
[...] The operation was aimed at halting Qassam rockets from being fired at southern Israel. Meanwhile, six of the homemade rockets struck the western Negev and Sderot on Thursday evening. There were no casualties.
Defense officials were furious at Peretz Thursday night, accusing him both of revealing that the planned military offensive in northern Gaza had been postponed and of denying initial reports that the postponement had been at Egypt's request.
Egypt had asked Israel to delay the operation at the beginning of the week, in order to allow time for diplomatic efforts to obtain the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. However, though negotiations with Hamas officials both in the territories and outside them are continuing, the talks have yet to yield a breakthrough [...]
That's the understatement of the year, they have yet to even yield a photo or sign of life from Gilad. Is Olmert going for a better plan, or is he caving to outside pressures? Either way it is looking VERY messy at the top echelons of Israel's government.
See a breakdown of a different sorts regarding the second phase of the Gaza operation right here at the Hashmonean.
UPDATE: Always go with your gut..
The Prime Minister's Office rejected the claim that the military program did not look good to Olmert, and diplomatic sources assert that the operation was delayed due its timing. "It seems to us that the time is not right to widen the operation," said a government source.
However, pressure by the international community not to escalate the situation seems to be a significant factor preventing the widening of Operation Summer Rains into northern Gaza. Criticism by the foreign minister of the G8 countries, alongside a clear call by the US secretary of state for "Israeli restraint" in Gaza came before a decision to delay, taken by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday afternoon.
Diplomats in Jerusalem say that despite the delay, a very good atmosphere is in place between the prime minister, defense minister, and IDF sources. "There is no tension following the delay, and whoever claims there is tension is unfamiliar with that situation," a source said. [...]
Spin Spin Spin.. One call from Condi was all she wrote. You know with this weakness, one is only left to imagine the disaster that will be should Israel see a point of no retun vis a vis Iran, this man leading Israel, there's no way he puts it on the line. He can't even say no to the US in matters entirely local, never mind deal with Nuclear Weapon threats.
YNET NEWS – New wall structure can repel rocket attacks.
It's a novel approach that can save lives so that in itself is good news, but I see a danger as well..
Security forces successfully tested a special wall designed to protect buildings from Qassam rockets on Thursday.
In a first experiment in Rishon Letzion, headed by Home Front Commander Yitzhak Gershon, a number of rockets resembling Qassams were fired at the wall. The wall stood up to the rockets, which failed to penetrate. It was specially designed by a number of defense companies, and is aimed at protecting buildings in the cities, towns, and villages of the western Negev.
After successfully testing out the wall, the defense establishment could adopt it for beefing up structures in communities on the Gaza border and Sderot, with a special focus on educational institutions and kindergartens. A military source explained that the wall can be place at the front of the building and will repel a strike by a Qassam rocket.
"This is a relatively cheap solution. The wall can be received directly from the manufacturer and all that is left to do is to install it in the targeted place," he said. [...]
Like I said, anything that can safeguard lives is a positive thing, but the term "Solution" up there is as grave a falsehood as one can muster. This won't prevent rocket attacks clearly, this notion of this being any form of solution is highly flawed, as it subscribes Israelis to a life of rockets.
These weapons take a heavy toll on the population & Israel's children mentally through shock, fear and a feeling of constant insecurity, no plaster edifice will alleviate that very grave situation.
My.. What Big Walls You Have.
Also, military doctrine & experience has shown that when you armor up, your enemy just seeks out something that will make a bigger bang, soon Israel might have key buildings with room enough for a single person to stand alone in, the rest being thick walls!
So if this can safeguard temporarily Israel's young in schools and key facilities somewhat from concussive weapons that is happy news, but no one least of all the Defense Minister should delude himself into thinking this is a solution to anything by any stretch. I say it only because so far, Amir Peretz is prone to these types of convenient delusions. This is a safeguard, let's find a real solution.
Now, if only we could get that beautiful Jerusalem stone look integrated : )
I know that Powell can get to your head.. Condi has been head of the NSA, now she's the Secretary of State – That's a lot of Powell, but the recent weak statements on Iran (yet to produce anything but laughing Mullahs) added to the following from the G8 meeting have left me a bit dubious, is she on a full fledged Powell trip?
[...] "With restraint, perhaps we can get back to a place where there can be hope for a peaceful resolution," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice added during a news conference attended by the eight countries' foreign ministers, as well as representatives of the European Union and other groups. [...] (Haaretz)
What kind of restraint would she suggest? Israel has faced months of a terrorist government on (within) its borders. A brazen attack, the loss of its deterrence primarily to satisfy world opinion and the never ending fetish of restraint. It's Thursday, fast approaching Friday in Israel. This started on Sunday and murdered so far a young innocent Israeli, kidnapped after the initial attack!?
This kind of weakness gets people killed in the Middle East, the State of Israel has shown nothing but restraint to this point. We can get back exactly where? Perhaps? All this pandering to multilateral European BS has not been working, on any issue, at any point.
Time is running out, the Prime Minister said the time for restraint is OVER. No one's asking for Condi to cheer, just let Israel do its thing, there's enough pressure on an already weak duo leading Israel. They don't need their lone ally on the planet serving up a Secretary of State on a recent Powell trip..
Israel can't afford to play games with its foreign policy, the threats to Israel are serious and very real, only 24 hour vigilance and an iron fist keep the country safe.
UPDATE: Operation in the North currently cancelled due to INTL pressure for 'more diplomacy'
UPDATE II: Adam Ereli in State Dept briefing (C-Span) today mentions Secretary Rice did call Israeli foreign Minister Livni.
United States pressure has had its effect, for now..
For previous information on the initial stage of Phase 1, as well as some great links please see the post below.
Southern Rain Phase I: Visual Aid – Updated
As was expected, the IDF has now completed their deployments in the Rafah area.
Highly honored in Israel Golani Brigades have taken up positions around Rafah, and Rafiah which can be seen just north of the orange Rafah refugee camps in the grey bounding box.
So far these operations and deployments have resulted in no casualties, impressive considering that the plan in the South was for intense pressure. The IDF has not been given a go to expand operations to the incursion level and attempt any retrievals we are aware of yet..
Terrorists are holed up in the areas in & around that refugee camp and they've dug in, they have had ample time to prepare in attempt to ambush any IDF actions. Let's hope that the pressure will cause a break and spare the Golani's the need to enter what I would term a terror cesspool, the Rafah refugee camp.
Whatever the case may be, there has still been no proof offered of Gilad Shalit's condition. In light of the news reports that Eliyahu, the other youngster kidnapped – Was apparently killed within hours of being taken on sunday, while the terrorists claimed he was alive just yesterday, does not I fear bode well. I have a sinking feeling in my heart that Gilad has also indeed been murdered. Nothing would make me happier than to be entirely wrong on the matter, and I look forward to striking my entry from this post. UPDATE: Arab sources claim to have visited with Gilad, these positive reports are days later not fully confirmed, and Gilad's family is still waiting for concrete sign of life.
Waiting for their green light..
The IDF in the south of Gaza, operating under Israel's Southern Command and Phase I, fully deployed now wait for a final go. Movement of Gilad Shalit if he is indeed in the Rafah area is no longer possible. Egypt is deployed to the south, the IDF to the East & North, while the Western sea access to the Med. is being patrolled by the Israeli Navy.
I've posted a map of Phase II just below this post if you are interested.
Also, bloggers are welcome to use the maps I've made, please put a link in to my blog, thanks.
I'll update this post again with new key developments of the IDF's Phase I operation in the southern strip as they develop.
UPDATE I: Gilad's father shares some of the concerns I voiced above concerning his son's condition (YNET)
"As long as we don't receive living proof that Gilad is alright, we have nothing to grasp to other than unverified reports at this stage," Shalit said Thursday. "We know clearly that time is not on our side, but against us. We are not sure of anything," Shalit said.
There's video there in hebrew, the family is hurting. But the support of the IDF is astounding, they support the military 100% and have faith it is doing everything it can. I noticed a few times already, that confidence in politicians Olmert / Peretz has not been mentioned at all, only confidence in the IDF..
Operation Southern Rains second phase appears ready to go at any time should the order be given.
The IDF has mobilized adjacent to the Northern area of the Gaza Strip, the site of thousands of Kassam rocket launches against Israeli population centers. Sderot, being the hardest hit. But longer range Soviet style Katyusha rockets & Grad missiles capable of striking approx 20 Km with a measure of accuracy have impacted critical zones as far North as the major industrial city of Ashkelon.
Southern Rain Phase II: Visual Aid
Objective: Strike at terrorist infrastructure, including manufacturing, support & Kassam rocket launching cells.
Key points on the graphic:
Sderot in blue, is the site of the vicious never ending Kassam attacks, and the main impetus for the need of this operation. Its population has been under siege, unnaceptable for the State of Israel.
Beit Hanoun in red is a key staging ground for Kassam cells, and terror operations striking Israel. The deeper orange area is farming fields, some of which have been made notorious rather unjustly by the western media. Primarily devoid of population, these fields are where many of the thousands of IDF counter shells have been launched into by the two main Northern IDF Artillery battalions as a deterrent measure, with little success other than forcing the terrorists to rush their launches and often miss.
Beit Hanoun, and directly to its left Bet Lahiya is where IDF dozers, tanks and then infantry will be moving into for suppression purposes. One assumes this will be similar to the IDF 2002 Operation Defensive Shield, where major areas of the West Bank were reoccupied by IDF troops. Characterised by brutal terrorist engagements and warfare, like in the city of Jenin. The tightly & densely populated areas are mazes of tiny alleys, crumbling infrastructure and apparently now, booby traps.
It is important to note that in previous examples, the IDF has gone to great care and subjected GREAT risk to young IDF troopers by going house to house in these types of engagements, with close in urban combat. It is much easier & safer to drop smart bombs, but the safeguarding of all civilian lives of every stripe form a core driving principle of the IDF, one of the most moral armies on the planet.
Erez Crossing; Access to Gaza via Israel is tightly controlled by strategic crossing points. Erez is one such point, when one reads in the media that the crossing points are closed, or that access is denied due to terror & security considerations it most often Erez, or the Kissufim and Qarni crossings cited. Clearly, in the past few months with Hamas in control Erez has been shut tight, with aid flowing sometimes into Gaza but solely in a unidirectional manner.
The Jabaliya refugee camp just south of Bet Lahiya is a particularly nasty place (darker on the map). It is the largest of the Palestinian refugee camps, the source of the original Palestinian intifada in the 80's. Terror central, despite appearances on the map, the camp is only about 2km square in size (the map is at super high resolution.)
Dangerous defensive mission
I will update this post with key details on the operation if / when they develop. Already IAF air strikes of key production facilities have been reported, and the artillery battalions have fired in response to Kassam attacks on the gathered IDF forces.
UPDATE I – Troops informed operation in the North currently canceled.. Due to Foreign pressure at seeking a 'possible diplomatic solution'
Soldiers stationed in field informed on cancellation of operation planned for Thursday night. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convenes security consultation; decision to delay entry to northern Strip possibly related to diplomatic efforts [...]
Cycle of weakness continues..
Defense Minister Amir Peretz said earlier that "we are now in one of the most significant moments in terms of determining the rules of the game between us and the terror groups in the Palestinian Authority in the near future."
Have you ever heard of anything so absurd in your whole life? The rules of conduct between US and the TERROR GROUPS!? This man will grasp at anything, he's a pacifist who's the Defense Minister of Israel, outrageous.
The decision to postpone plans for a ground incursion into northern Gaza comes as the foreign ministers from the group of eight industrialized nations called on Israel to show restraint and expressed concerned over the latest escalations during a meeting in Moscow.
WOW. More you say? No problem..
[...] During the meeting, Peretz approved further steps of Operation Summer Rain in Gaza and ordered the government's operations coordinator in the territories to continuously report on the "humanitarian situation in Gaza."
Peretz instructed security officials to examine every ground operation "for ifs affectivity." He noted that despite the fact that at this stage the political-diplomatic dimension has been fruitless in effecting the return of kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit, it may gain sudden momentum. [...]
Mr. Rogers is defending the State of Israel..