Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

2 Tammuz 5766 - June 28, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Israeli Military Forces Mass Near Gaza

by M Plaut and Yated Ne'eman Staff

Two days after an Israeli soldier was abducted by Hamas gunmen from an IDF outpost inside of the Green Line, there have been no significant further developments, and it is not clear when there will be. Neither side has spoken about any deadlines.

Also on Tuesday afternoon there were growing fears that Eliyahu Asheri, 18, from the settlement of Itamar near Shechem who has been missing since Sunday, has been kidnapped. Palestinian terrorists claimed that they had kidnapped someone on the West Bank. As we go to press the IDF says that it does not have definite proof. Asheri was reported missing, but the IDF initially thought that they Palestinians may have taken advantage of the missing person report to declare that they had taken another hostage. Security forces also said that members of Breslav had announced that they were planning to visit the tomb of Yosef Hatzaddik on his yahrtzeit even though the IDF prohibited such a visit. They were concerned that one of the Breslavers had been taken hostage.

For Hamas and all the Palestinians, freeing Palestinians who have been tried and convicted and are serving time in Israeli jails for crimes they committed is one of the highest priorities. It is certainly more important to many Palestinians than their own lives, which they are prepared to give up in order to murder Israelis, also a high priority among parts of the Palestinian population.

Even though Israel declared when it left the Gaza Strip last summer that it would feel free to reenter if its security needs required it to do so, it has been reluctant to incur the costs that such an operation would probably exact. Even as it has become increasingly clear that a way to stop the regular launching of Kassam rockets without reentering Gaza is not available, Israel has not mounted a large scale effort within Gaza.

The difficulties of doing so include the casualties that Israel is likely to incur, as well as the political cost since such a move may arouse widespread condemnation. Palestinians also make an explicit effort to wage a propaganda war against Israel, accusing it of harming civilians after their terrorists deliberately operate from among Palestinian civilian populations, contrary to the accepted international rules of warfare. Thus, when Israel entered Jenin they tried to accuse Israel of a massacre.

The Palestinians are trying to exact the greatest price for their captive, which is only possible if he remains alive. Although Cpl. Shalit (Gil'ad ben Avivah) was seen to have been captured alive, no one has released any further proof of his state since then. Reportedly he was wounded during the capture, but the wounds were not serious.

Some Palestinian groups have demanded the release of all of the 95 Palestinian women and 313 Palestinians under 18 in Israeli jails before they would release information. It was not made clear if those groups are even holding the prisoner. In any case, Israel rejected the demand. PM Olmert said: "This is not a matter of negotiations, this is not a matter of bargaining . . . [the] release of prisoners is absolutely not on the agenda of the Israeli government."

Israel seems to be preparing the world for a military assault through a concerted diplomatic effort to make its position clear before it takes action. PM Olmert has said several times that Israel holds all of Hamas liable for the safety of Shalit. "We will do all that we can to ensure that Gilad Shalit returns home safe and sound, and it must be clear that there will be no immunity for anyone connected in any way to his kidnapping and imprisonment."

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spent Monday meeting with some 60 ambassadors she called to the Foreign Ministry. She reportedly told them that if Israel were forced to take military action to secure the release of Shalit, Jerusalem would expect "understanding and support in the international community for that action, and that it should be seen as Israel's acting within the right of legitimate self-defense that every nation enjoys." Livni also called up UN Secretary General Kofi Annan about the affair.

Livni was also in touch with Washington, and particularly with US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. On Tuesday Rice today urged Israel to give diplomacy more time. "There really needs to be an effort now to try and calm the situation, not to let the situation escalate, and to give diplomacy a chance to work to try to get this release," Ms. Rice told reporters.

Israel has tried to seal off the southern part of Gaza to ensure that its soldier is not taken elsewhere.

Cpl. Gilad Shalit, 19, was captured early Sunday morning in a raid by eight Palestinians into Israel through a long tunnel from Gaza. The tunnel extended about 300 meters into Israel and appeared to have been at least twice as long on the Palestinian side. Such a raid must have been in planning and preparation stages for weeks or even months. Hamas was part of the planning and execution.

Eight Palestinian fighters came out of the tunnel behind Israeli lines and near an IDF outpost at Kerem Shalom. The terrorists split up into several smaller groups. One group attacked a tank from behind, killing two members of the tank crew: the commander of the tank Lt. Hanan Barak, and Staff Sergeant Pavel Slutsker. Shalit, also a member of the tank crew, was taken captive. He was wounded but was seen walking away. The terrorists blew a hole in the Gaza separation fence and went back through it.

Two of the terrorists were killed when they tried to enter a watchtower. The rest escaped. After the two terrorists were killed there was an explosion that injured several Israeli soldiers. The suspicion was that the terrorist was planning to detonate the charge inside the tower.

One official in the Prime Minister's Office said that PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar was asked in March how Hamas would be different from Fatah, and he replied that Hamas would win the release of prisoners by kidnapping soldiers and then negotiating for their release. "Zahar implicated himself," the official said.


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