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A War on Two Fronts

My country is at war, and I have hardly any time to write about it.
 
Northern Front
 
When I went to bed last night, Israel had already decided on a severe response to yesterday’s events on the northern border. Our Air Force has since launched a number of attacks, including a strike on Beirut International Airport, and our navy has entered Lebanese territorial waters and blocked access to the country’s ports. Both these measures are designed to stop the flow of terrorists, supplies, and weapons to Hizbullah. In order to try and prevent civilian casualties, the IDF has warned civilians in southern Beirut to leave their homes, as we step up our operations.
 
For their part, Hizbullah have launched barrages of Katusha rockets overnight and this morning, including several at the northern city of Nahariya. One such rocket killed an Israeli woman, and wounded 29 other people, including children. Now residents are leaving Nahariya en masse. Hizbullah also launched 10 overnight at an IDF base on Mount Meron.
 
Southern Front
 
This morning, Palestinian terrorists fired a Kassam, which landed south of Ashkelon, causing no damage. The IDF responded with artillery fire.
 
Meanwhile, an IAF plane attacked the Hamas-led palestinian Foreign Ministry in Gaza city early this morning, severely damaging the building. We also managed to killed an Islamic Jihad terrorist, and wound another, in a different air strike.
 
In some more positive news, a senior IDF officer claims that arch-terrorist Muhammad Deif was severely to mortally wounded in an IAF air strike Tuesday night.
 
I will try and post updates throughout the day.
 
Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)
Friday 14th updates here.

12:35AM: Pam has the text of John Bolton’s statement on today’s draft Security Council resolution vetoed by the US. Excerpt:

The draft Resolution before the Council was unbalanced.  It placed demands on one side in the Middle East conflict but not the other.  This draft Resolution would have exacerbated tensions in the region and would have undermined our vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security.

Passage would also have undermined the credibility of the Security Council, which itself must be seen by both sides as an honest broker in the Middle East conflict.  In this regard, public statements of UN officials must also accurately reflect positions agreed by member governments.

The United States worked hard with other delegations to achieve a more balanced text, one which acknowledged that Israeli military actions were in direct response to repeated rocket attacks into Southern Israel from Gaza and the June 25 abduction of Israeli Defense Force Corporal Gilad Shalit by Hamas.  Regrettably, we were not able to reach consensus.

While we remain gravely concerned about the deterioration of the situation in the West Bank and Gaza, we remain steadfast in our conviction that the best way to resolve the immediate crisis is for Hamas to secure the safe and unconditional release of Corporal Shalit.

Establishing the foundations for a lasting peace, however, will require us to focus our attention not just on Hamas, but on the state sponsors of terror who back them — particularly Syria and Iran.  Let us be clear that without the financial and material support of Damascus and Tehran, Hamas would be severely crippled in carrying out its terrorist operations.  We call upon Syria and Iran to end their role as state sponsors of terror and unequivocally condemn the actions of Hamas, including this kidnapping.  We yet again call upon Syria to arrest the Hamas ringleader, Khaled Meshal, who currently resides in Damascus.  We stress again our condemnation of Syrian and Iranian support of Hizballah, which has claimed responsibility for the other kidnappings along the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon.

We further call on the Palestinian Authority government to stop all acts of violence and terror and comply with the principles enunciated by the Quartet:  renounce terror, recognize Israel, and accept previous obligations and agreements, including the Roadmap.  The failure of the Palestinian Authority government to take these steps hurts the Palestinian people. 

12:30AM: Here’s an interesting item from the Ha’aretz news ticker: Saudi Arabia says Hezbollah guilty of ‘irresponsible actions’ (Reuters)

12:28AM: Not to forget Gaza…another Kassam has been fired into Israel.

12:25AM: Ynetnews reports how some Arab readers of the Foreign Ministry website are supporting Israel against Hizbullah.

12:20AM: The BBC ask some Israelis about their views on this latest crisis.

11:48PM: Ynetnews: IDF officials estimated that the missile fired by Hizbullah to Haifa on Thursday evening was made in Iran.

The question is: are we going to go after Iran? I’m guessing no not yet.

11:43PM: The story behind the faces: The Jerusalem Post have this article on the 8 fallen soldiers.

11:26PM: I just heard more planes fly by.

11:25PM: The IDF has completed collecting the remains of the 4 soldiers killed in their tank by Hizbullah.

11:15PM: Tough-talking from our Defense Minister Amir Peretz.

“We expected Hizbullah to break the rules, and now we intend to break them.”

Catchy quote. I’m just not entirely sure he said it in English.

11:10PM: The US has vetoed the one-sided, Arab-backed Security Council resolution accusing Israel of a “disproportionate use of force”, and demanding we withdraw our troops from Gaza.

10:58PM: I interrupt this coverage to point out this post from Daily Kos: Imagine a world without Israel.

I find that there is a direct correlation between this kind of rubbish and either 1) anti-semitic sentiment or 2) extreme ignorance.

10:50PM: The IAF has again fired missiles at Beirut International Airport (as it had done earlier today).

10:45PM: Ynetnews reports that Minister of Education Yuli Tamir has instructed officials at the education ministry to close all summer camps for children in northern Israel.

10:40PM: This headline shows just why the UN is a useless body:
Close U.N. Vote Expected on Motion To Denounce Israel

10:33PM: American Idol, Israel style: Allison explains how tonight, the line was blurred between news and entertainment.

Thursday night is American Idol night in Israel. That is to say, it’s the night when A Star is Born, the local equivalent of American Idol is aired on the most popular of Israel’s three broadcast channels.

My seven year old daughter and I have a weekly ritual watching it together. As the news of the day unfolded, I thought of how disappointed she would be when it would be cancelled for news coverage.

But now I see that they are airing it anyway — but tonight, it’s non-competitive. It’s a special broadcast designed to entertain and raise the morale of the many families in the north and near Gaza who are confined to their homes and need the distraction.

A little live-blogging — one of the singers competing — they are down to the final ten — a beautiful Ethiopian girl named Israela Asago just said she expects to be called up for reserve duty — she deals with the parachutes for the paratroopers. Now, in the middle of the show, they are broadcasting live from a bomb shelter in Kiryat Shmona with a bunch of children in it. They are going to take requests from people who live in the north and sing whatever songs they ask for….

Now they are interviewing a family in Nahariya who watched a missile land and explode into the building next to theirs, killing one of their neighbors.

10:30PM: Thought I would post this picture from Nahariya, just so you really understand that we are under attack, and need to hit Hizbullah hard.

10:25PM: And speaking of Laurence, he has drawn my attention to this footage from Gaza, in which Fox News’ David Lee Miller almost gets himself killed.

10:18PM: A helping hand from my fellow Jews in America.

Within a number of hours on Thursday the Jewish Agency and the United Jewish Communities of North America raised $1 million so that children living under fire in northern Israel can spend the summer at the agency’s youth villages in central Israel.

And props to Laurence for sending me some gelt (slightly less than $1 million) to help with my bandwidth costs. But I’m thinking Magen David Adom could be a good starting point for anyone interested in donating.

10:10PM: Arutz Sheva reports that thousands of tourists and foreign employees are fleeing to Syria from Lebanon.

Not sure if that’s such a wise move..

9:55PM: Regarding my last update, a commenter on a Lebanese blog posts that leaflets are being dropped above Beirut and some southern areas.

9:53PM: The IDF have told Beirut residents to stay away from Hizbullah offices. I assume this is being done via leaflets.

9:48PM: A Safed man has died of wounds sustained in a Katusha attack. The death toll is now 3.

9:42PM: I just heard some IAF planes flying over my house. Just saying.

9:41PM: Israel is reportedly attacking targets in a suburb south of Beirut – a suburb renowned for being a Hizbullah stronghold.

9:40PM: I missed this..a second woman died earlier of her wounds from a Katusha attack. She was 70-years-old.

9:28PM: Reuters report that Israeli navy gunboats are shelling targets near Beirut airport.

9:25PM: Ynetnews reports that a child is trapped under some rubble after the building he/she was in took a direct hit from a Katusha.

9:23PM: Now Kiryat Shmona has been hit by Katushas.

9:19PM: Amnesty International doing what they do best, and by best I mean worst:

Amnesty International urged Israel to abide by

international law Thursday, calling for Israel to halt attacks on

civilian targets and for the Lebanese militia group Hizbullah to treat

two kidnapped IDF soldiers humanely.

“Israel must put an immediate end to attacks against civilians

and against civilian infrastructure in Lebanon, which constitute

collective punishment,” said Malcolm Smart of the London-based rights

group. “Hizbullah must stop launching attacks against Israeli civilians

and it must treat humanely the two Israeli soldiers it captured on 12

July and grant them immediate access to the International Committee of

the Red Cross.”

Amnesty stopped short of calling for the soldiers’ release

since both Lebanon and Israel were signatories of the Geneva

Conventions, said Donatella Rovera, also with Amnesty. The Geneva

Conventions offer protections to prisoners of war.

So let’s get this straight. Amnesty don’t call for our soldiers’ release because they are afforded protection as prisoners of war. So Amnesty acknowledge that this is a war, yet condemn Israel for defending herself and launching attacks against enemy combatants and infrastructure.

That’s Amnesty International for you. Morally bankrupt. And frikkin’ irrelevant.

9:14PM: Random thought: who would have thought that coverage of Operation Summer Rains in Gaza would be eclipsed by something else so quickly.
 
9:05PM: Haifa residents have been asked by IDF Home Front Command to stay close to bomb shelters.

8:57PM: Shimon Peres is being interviewed by an arrogant Sky News presenter, who is accusing Israel of waging war on Lebanon. Again, I’m no fan of Peres, but he’s replying beautifully to the tosser.

For instance, when asked why civilians are being killed in Lebanon, Peres replied that Israel does not want one civilian to be killed, and he recommends that if any civilians are in a house with a missile, then he suggests they leave the house, or give up the missile (Peres had earlier explained that Hizbullah have hidden missiles in civilian areas, in people’s homes).

8:47PM: Ha’aretz reports that Hizbullah have denied firing Katushas at Haifa. I guess they just fell out of the sky…

Earlier today, Hizbullah threatened to strike Haifa if we attacked Beirut (3:18PM update). We did not attack Beirut, but I guess Hizbullah couldn’t wait.

8:45PM: A barrage of Katushas have landed in Nahariya and Safed. The toll now stands at 1 dead and 122 wounded.

8:36PM: The 2 soldiers abducted by Hizbullah are Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

You can read more about them here.

(Regarding reports that they were Druze, there was some confusion stemming from the fact that a Druze soldier was missing. However, his body was recovered late yesterday – he was one of the soldiers killed in the Hizbulah attack).

8:25PM: They hit Haifa 20 minutes ago! As the Jerusalem Post notes, this is the farthest that a rocket has ever reached into Israel.

7:10PM: Our Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman has stated something which I have also noticed (and mentioned in my recent podcast interview with SNN): the worm is slowly turning (my words, not his)
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman noted on Thursday that the international response to the Israeli actions in Lebanon were much milder than expected.
 
He noted that in recent years there have been signs of a shift in the international view of Israel, with more countries expressing support of Israel.
 
When asked whether people were refraining from shaking his hand, he replied that the other diplomats shook his hands and even patted him on the back.
I have also noticed this from the countless emails and comments of support I have been receiving.
 
7:07PM: The name of this morning’s Katusha attack victim was released for publication. She was Monica Lerer, a 40 year-old new immigrant from Argentina who has been living in Israel for four years.
 
7:00PM: Solomonia has an excellent post on some of Ehud Olmert’s responses to questions from the international press the other day. Here’s an excerpt:
On demands for proportionality:
 
“What exactly is the criterion by which one measures the proportion of more than a thousand missiles shot at innocent civilians against the measures that were taken by the State of Israel in the last few days? Can one measure the anxiety, the fear, the shocks, the lack of security of tens of thousands of people living day-in and day-out for almost a year under the constant threat of missiles shot at them? When was the last time that the European Union condemned this shooting and suggested measures, effective measures to stop it? We were waiting and waiting and waiting and everyone knows that Israel pulled out entirely from Gaza precisely in order to try and establish a new basis of cooperation and understanding with the Palestinians, when there can be no claim for any territory by the Palestinians in the south part of the country. And the response was terror and terror and terror and terror again. So at some point Israel had no choice but to take some measures in order to stop this threat. And I think that this is the desire of the Palestinian people as well. I have no doubt in my mind that the majority of the Palestinian people sympathize with the demand of Israel that this violence will be stopped. They are victims of it – we are victims of it. They want to stop it – we want to stop it. They don’t know want to be held captives by the terrorist organizations which have no regard for the basic needs of the Palestinian people and therefore this is something that all the countries that care for us and for the Palestinians, must join forces together in order to stop. And that’s basically what we are doing and I think that once the Kassam shooting will be stopped and the terrorist actions against innocent civilians will be halted altogether, there will be no need for any Israeli action in Gaza.
I’m not Olmert’s biggest fan, but his answers are terrific. Read the whole thing.
 
6:52PM: And not to forget the southern front: a Kassam was just fired at the western Negev.
 
6:37PM: Public Relations Director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Gideon Meir said that we have information that Hizbullah is planning on moving the two abducted IDF soldiers to Iran.
 
Of course, it goes without saying that Iran is pulling the Hizbullah strings. But we knew that already.
 
6:33PM: And the Katushas just keep coming. The IDF estimates that 85 have now been fired into Israel today, with 1 person killed, and 90 wounded. And Hizbullah claim to have 10,000 such rockets.
 
Now let’s contrast these two news stories:
 
 
 
UN-believable.
 
6:28PM: The Lebanese want a ceasefire.
Lebanese Minister for Social Affairs Mila Mawad on Thursday said the government was preparing to announce its cease-fire proposal to Hezbollah and Israel, under which Hezbollah would be required to free the IDF soldiers it captured on Wednesday. The proposal does not mention the release of Lebanese prisoners.
Somehow, I don’t see Hizbullah relenting unless a) they get their freed prisoners or b) we pound them into submission. Needless to say, I favor option b.
 
Meanwhile, the Lebanese Minister for Social Affairs also explained why Hizbullah are in the government.
When asked by a reporter why Lebanon does not disarm Hezbollah, Mawad said the organization was brought into the government to grant its members the feeling they Lebanese.
And nothing to do with the fact that the Lebanese government support Hizbullah and view them as “resistance fighters”..right?
Lebanon’s Ambassador to the US Farid Abboud was recalled to Beirut on Wednesday night after expressing his support for Hizbullah in the US media.
 
Abboud was reported as saying that Israel was the only one who could bring about the release of the kidnapped IDF soldiers by agreeing to negotiate with the movement via mediators.
 
Officials in Beirut stressed that Abboud’s view did not represent that of Lebanon, which is vehemently opposed to Hizbullah’s actions on Israel’s northern border.
Oops!
 
But back to the Lebanese Minister for Social Affairs, who almost outdid the last statement with this corker:
Israel believes Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah did not intend to ignite such a dramatic escalation when his fighters kidnapped two Israel Defense Forces soldiers and killed eight others on Tuesday.
Of course not. How could he have known that Israel would react severely to the kidnap of its soldiers? It’s not like there is a very current precedent for this, or anything..
 
6:15PM: And the EU have criticized us for using excessive force. Pray tell, what does one do when under attack?! I guess if you are Jewish, you are supposed to lie down and take the hits..
 
6:05PM: The UN contribution to this situation:
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is sending a three-person team to the Middle East to urge all parties to exercise restraint and help defuse the major crisis in the region, a spokesman said on Thursday.
U-huh. Terrorists have crossed the border, abducted our soldiers, and are raining missiles on us, and what is needed from us is restraint. Sorry, Kofi. No can do.
 
3:18PM: Hizbullah have threatened to attack Haifa if we strike Hizbullah offices in Beirut.
 
1:30PM: Al Jazeera report that the IAF have bombed a bridge connecting the town of Sidon with southern Lebanon.
 
1:10PM: Ynetnews reports that the Lebanese army issued a statement expressing its support of “Hizbullah’s right to resist Israeli aggression.”

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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