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Friday, August 24, 2007

Defeatist IDF 'strategy' in the western Negev

In Israel's battered western Negev, which has borne the brunt of the foolish expulsion of Jews from Gaza two years ago, the government has forced the IDF into a defeatist strategy. It's as if the residents of Sderot and other towns that are proximate to Gaza have been told to climb into their beds, roll themselves up into little balls and then it will all be alright. Instead of ordering the IDF to remove the threat to the western Negev, the government continues to find ways to 'live with' it. I'd like to see the cabinet spend a week living in Sderot - it might change their tune. But instead, they continue to make a big show of running to Sderot for meetings for an hour or two at a time and then run back to the relative safety of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

What could the IDF do to change the situation? This is from DEBKA:
Israeli farmers have been ordered by the military to work their fields only up to one kilometer short of the border.

Yet Israeli forces are not permitted to execute their plan to carve out a 1.5-2 km buffer strip inside the Gaza Strip to keep Palestinian assailants at bay, although prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Ehud Barak have promised that the Israel military will not pull its punches against the enemy.

A senior officer in command of the sector complained that without this buffer, Palestinians hold the initiative of when, where and on what scale to wage war. “We are only allowed to shoot when they are near the border fence. It is therefore inevitable that the Palestinians will intensify their attacks, extend their range and start building up casualties on our side.”

Military commanders told DEBKAfile Tuesday night that there is nothing to deter the Palestinians from bringing out their advanced anti-tank rockets and extended-range Qassam surface missiles against the towns of Ashkelon and Netivot, as well as the cluster of military facilities guarding the Israel-Gazan border.

They also believe that not all the tunnels running under the fence from Gaza into Israel have been found and the Palestinians intend to use them for surprise attacks.

DEBKAfile’s Palestinian sources explain that local Hamas extremists have intensified their offensive, defying guidelines laid down by their political leaders in Gaza and Damascus, in order to break out of the military, economic and financial blockade clamped down on their rule by the US, Israel, Egypt and the Europeans. This stranglehold prevents Hamas from exercising government and its rule is in danger. To save themselves, Hamas’ military chiefs are driving their war with Israel to extremes. They hope for enough civilian deaths to force outside intervention for a ceasefire in hostilities. Then, Hamas can make its acceptance contingent on the reopening of the Israel-Gaza and Egyptian border crossings under their control.
The government's response is to open school in Sderot in bomb shelters (link in Hebrew) rather than guarantee the children's safety. The government will spend 'hundreds of thousands' of Shekels to convert the bomb shelters into suitable classrooms before school opens on September 2.

It was Comrade Yuli's turn to spend an hour in Sderot today, and parents who are not members broke into her meeting with the parents' committee to protest the army being responsible for their children's education in place of the Education Ministry.
One of the parents who entered the meeting was Rina Mor-Yosef, a well-known activist in Sderot, who decided to protest "in a spontaneous manner".

"This morning I heard the Education Ministry director-general giving an interview about Sderot and saying that the army is responsible for Sderot's education system and not the Education Ministry. I was very angry and that's why I broke in. I wanted to know why the defense minister didn't arrive for the meeting if the defense establishment was responsible.

"Did the minister come here in order to defend herself against the next commission of inquiry, or does she want to keep her position? I asked to enter and talk to the minister. They didn't let me in, so I broke in. I am the mother of children here in Sderot and they are trying to turn us into monsters, when all we want to do is protect our children's lives. I don’t know if the minister even knows that there is no transportation to the school where my daughter studies." [I doubt that she knows - or cares. CiJ]

In the meeting with the minister, the parents' committee demanded that all education institutions be fortified. They asked that Defense Minister Ehud Barak sign a document guaranteeing Sderot children's safety. [That 'document' would not be worth the paper on which it was written. CiJ]

The parents also demanded that the minister interfere with the municipality's decision not to let children study outside the city. Earlier, the minister examined bomb shelters and reinforced rooms that could be used as classrooms.

On Wednesday, the High Court decided to postpone its ruling on mandatory fortification for all schools in Sderot until after the school year starts. [Several months ago, the Supreme Court ordered the government to fortify all the classrooms in Sderot to make them impenetrable to Kassams before the school year starts. The government doesn't want to spend the money and has defied the order. I hope you all recall that Sderot is NotInMyBackYard. CiJ]

In doing so, the court would allow the State, which petitioned for the delay of the fortification by three years, a chance to rebut Sderot's Parents Association's petition for the immediate fortification of the city's schools.

In response to the court's decision, the parents' committee threatened to prevent the start of the school year.
Although this is yet another instance in which the court overstepped its power, it's too bad they didn't order the government to go into Gaza and clear out the Kassams. I hope they at least put air conditioning in those shelters before next week. It's oppressively hot here right now.


At 1:47 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

In the late '70's there was a mayor of Chicago wo will otherwise be forgotten except for the fact that she showed leadership by moving into a high criome low income housing project. Her name was Jane Byrne, and while she was otherwise forgettable this was at least an true act of leadership.
You think Olmerde of Tamir will move to sderot as a show of solidarity?

At 9:38 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


Not a chance.


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