Wednesday, November 01, 2006

It Blew Over

IDF Staff Sergeant Kiril Golenshein, 21, was killed in a north Gaza raid Monday during the Israel Defense Forces action looking for Qassam rockets in Beit Hanun in the Gaza Strip.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said that he would not be drawn into a large operation in Gaza. According to media reports the Israeli military leaders are anxious to expand the action in Gaza to a wider role than just seeking Qassam rockets. Reportedly the army wants to attack the core of the Hamas activities all over Gaza.

The IDF was met with anti-tank rockets and roadside bombs. Israel TV showed footage of Palestinian activists on the streets of Gaza picked off by Israeli snipers. Reportedly six Palestinians were killed in the fighting. The IDF says that most were Hamas activists.

Today, the security cabinet Okayed plans for a major Gaza operation, even though Defense Minister Peres denies this will take place.

The vote followed Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.9 Qassams hit the western Negev today, injuring a boy in Sderot.

According to a poll in the Haaretz newspaper on Thursday, "about 80 percent of the public say the corruption among Israel's plitical leaders prevents them from taking pride in the state." The poll showed that in 2003 27 percent of the public said they don't trust public institutions to help them in a time of need, but this year the number jumped to 51 percent. 70 percent of the population do not believe the state allows its citizens to retire with dignity. 25 percent do not trust the IDF and another 25 percent have only average trust in the military. 55 percent thought the state offered minimal security. Only 16 percent of the people polled trust the police.However 73 percent of the people polled believe Israel is the best place for Israelis to live.

In action in Lebanon, fighting has broken out between Hezbollah and the Lebanese army. Haaretz reports that the Hezbollah organized violence is meant to destabilize Siniora’s government and force early elections. Reportedly Hezbollah is supported by Iran and Syria in unseating Siniora and turn Lebanon into an Islamic Fundamentalist state.

Israel’s embattled President Moshe Katzav checked into the hospital on Tuesday night reportedly because of chest pains. In a press conference on Wednesday Katzav said the hospital visit had been previously scheduled and was part of a routine check-up.

Katzav is under investigation for allegedly raping one of the young woman who worked for him. As a result of the investigation only 4 Knesset members are scheduled to attend a memorial for the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, who was assassinated eleven years ago.

Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, was grated permission for a conjugal visit by his new bride. The couple has expressed a desire to have children. Many voices were heard objecting to Amir having any benefits in prison. Amir is serving a life sentence. Surprisingly, a recent poll published in an Israeli newspaper stated that up to one-third of the Israeli public would allow Amir early release from prison.

John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, was killed by U.S. troops while resisting arrest a few days after Lincoln’s murder. Booth's body was carried up the Potomac and buried beneath the floor of the penitentiary in Washington, DC. His five accomplices were eventually caught and hanged a few months later.

None of the assassins of Israel’s late Premier Yitzchak Rabin died. Yigal Amir’s brother was also imprisoned for assisting in the assassination. However neither was hanged.

Egypt has rejected a U.S. offer to send observers to patrol the Egyptian border with Gaza that has become the focus of Israeli military actions. Tunnels that cross under the border have been used consistently to smuggle arms and ammunition to Hamas in Gaza. Israel’s defense circles are concerned that Gaza could become another Lebanon, and Hamas another Hezbollah. .

An ancient tablet that dates back over 2,000 years has been found amid the rubble excavated from the Temple Mount. A European archeologist spotted the stone on display while a guest of the Wakf, the Islamic religious council that controls the Arab sites on the Temple Mount.

The archeologist was given permission to examine and photograph the stone. He discovered writings that mentioned the Roman commander who besieged Massada. According to the archeologist, the stone was part of a larger piece that commemorated the defeat of the Zealots.

What analysts find interesting is that the Wakf allowed the archeologist to examine the stone. So far the Wakf has been steadfast in denying any investigation of the grounds beneath the current Mosques that sit on the Temple Mount. Any evidence to prove Jewish presence in Israel 2,000 years ago, or more, undermines the Wakf’s claim that Israel made up the history upon which Jews claim the Holy Land.

Pundits say that Israel made a huge mistake not taking keeping the Temple Mount when the IDF captured it, and the Old City of Jerusalem, in the 1967 6-day war. Instead then Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan decided to turn the Temple Mount over to the Wakf, in an attempt to appease Arab sensibilities.

Jews were long prohibited from stepping foot on the Temple Mount. Because of this lack of possession of one of Israel’s holiest sites, the Wakf has exerted near complete authority over the area, even denying Israeli archeologists from sifting through the debris left when the Wakf expanded “Solomon’s Stables” to accommodate a Mosque.

The Temple Mount is named after the First and Second Temples. The First Temple was built by King Solomon about 940 BCE and the Second Temple about 450 BCE. The latter was destroyed in about 70 CE. The stone found on the Temple Mount dates back to that latter period.

Jerusalem has been beset with demonstrations in the ultra-orthodox neighborhoods in protest over the planned Gay Parade on November Tenth. The parade is scheduled to take place on Jaffa Road, in the center of the city. At a parade a few years ago an ultra-orthodox man attacked the parade with a butcher knife wounding one man. This year some of the organizers of the parade have received death threats. The head of the Jerusalem police has petitioned the High Court for an injunction, prohibiting the parade from taking place due to the danger to those marching. The court is expected to make a decision in the next few days.

A visitor to Jerusalem said today that the cost of living is so high he didn’t understand how anyone could make a living. Just the tax on cars in Israel is usually the US equivalent to the cost of an entire vehicle. The visitor said he’d expect the government to make life easier for Israelis in order to keep them to stay in the country, and encourage others to immigrate.

However, the cost of security is so high that taxes have to remain exorbitant. These high costs reflect the decreasing level of Israel’s brainpower. Nobel Prize Laureate in Chemistry (2004) Professor Aaron Ciechanover said today on Israel Army Radio that the education budget cutbacks have severely decreased Israel’s ability to produce high-quality scientists. Budgets for lab equipment and supplies, as well as the surrounding infrastructure, have been falling steadily. Ciechanover said that he doubts, given the current standards that other scientific breakthroughs will come out of Israel. “The people today simply aren’t getting the training.”

Ciechanover did not blame the military for sucking up the government budget as much as Israeli leadership for putting their budgetary priorities in the wrong place. Ciechanover said this was not always the case, but refused to say when priorities became shortsighted.

The Israeli public is still awaiting the plan of Israel’s newly appointed deputy-Prime Minister Avigdor Leiberman for how to deal with Iran. Leiberman reportedly told the Israeli cabinet today that he favored dealing with the Arabs in Gaza much as the Russians dealt with the Chechnyan rebels. Leiberman has still not said anything about Iran, but pundits believe that will change once Leiberman becomes comfortable in his new offices.

Finally, the Israeli public shrugged at the news that four of the men in the Army high command during the War in Lebanon II were to be promoted or moved to more prestigious posts. Critics like Zeev Shiff of Haaretz said that the Defense Minister should have waited at least until the government finished it’s internal investigation.

Others excused the move saying that once Chief of Staff Dan Halutz officially denied responsibility for the failures of the war, his lesser officers simply followed suit. Only Gen Udi Adam head of the Northern Command took responsibility and resigned his position.

One wonders how over 100 Israelis dies a million Israelis fled their homes and thousands of missiles fell on Israel without the Israeli Army or Government taking appropriate steps.

Maybe all those sad facts were part of Israel’s plan to fight for over a month with nothing but tears, heartbreak, and destruction to show for it. No sense apologizing when the public allows the government to blame Hezbollah, Iran and Syria as if no one was in the Cabinet, the Knesset, or at IDF headquarters before, during, or after the War in Lebanon II. That all blew over. Now it’s only a question of what crises comes next, and if the government will be able to handle it? In light of the poll published today in Haaretz, most of the people don't think this government can.