Jerusalem, Israel – On Friday, Palestinian terrorists fired a missile near a “strategic facility” near the Southern Israeli port city of Ashkelon. The Israeli army remained under orders not to respond.
As The Bulletin reported last week, the U.S. government has placed no constraints on Israel’s response to terror. The Israel Defense Forces Southern Command is pressing the Israeli government for a major ground operation into Gaza. Israel Defense Forces Southern Commander Yaakov Galant has adamantly asserted that the Hamas army must be weakened immediately or it will become as strong as Hezbollah.
Yet the Israeli Security Cabinet, meeting in special session yesterday, would not support the military option, preferring, instead, to embark on a worldwide diplomatic campaign against the Palestinians for smuggling in weapons and for continuing to attack Israeli cities.
The Israeli government would not name the country which is supplying weapons and ammunition to the Palestinian terrorist forces, although the only contiguous country that could supply such weapons was Egypt. With Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni now visiting Egypt on a peace mission, the Israeli government made no mention or criticism of Egypt as the obvious arms supplier.
Hardest hit has been the town of Sderot, just north of Gaza. Polls were taken over the past week to assess the feelings of the people of Sderot.
Ninety-three percent of Sderot residents feel the security situation in the city is bad or very bad, and 94 percent blame the government of Israel for the continued missile attacks, the poll revealed yesterday.
This is the first time such a comprehensive survey was held among Sderot residents, and its timing is no coincidence as yesterday’s cabinet meeting was set to focus on potential reactions to the missile threat.
The poll, conducted by the Maagar Mochot Research Institute in Israel, was carried out for The Sderot Security Advocacy Association, and showed a consensus across the political spectrum who all agreed that there is no security in Sderot.
Fifty-five percent of the younger respondents and 39 percent of the adult respondents stated that they have considered or are currently considering leaving the city.
Seventy-one percent of Sderot residents support IDF military action in the northern Gaza Strip.
The poll further revealed that 71 percent of Sderot residents support IDF military action in the northern Gaza Strip and the Philadelphi Route in order to damage terror infrastructure and put an end to the missile attacks.
The respondents said they would still be interested in military action even if this meant increased missile shootings for some time.
Seventy-one percent of the respondents feel that in light of the Winograd report and the continued missile attacks, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should resign from his position.
Seventy percent said that they felt Defense Minister Amir Peretz should resign for the same reasons. Peretz is a resident of Sderot himself.
The respondents were also asked about changes in their personal and family lives following the missile attacks. Forty-four percent said that as a result of the rockets, their children suffered anxiety, stress and damage to their quality of life.
Another 44 percent said that the security situation has affected their financial situation for the worse.
Alon Davidi, the chairman of Sderot’s Security Advocacy Council, said, “These findings should shake up every person in the State of Israel and set off an alarm for the military and state leaders. Sderot’s residents hold the government directly responsible for the deterioration in security and financial situations in the city and the failure to deal with the Qassam rocket shootings.
“The residents are expressing an unequivocal position, under complete consensus, that the government should order the IDF to carry out an extensive ground operation in the northern Gaza Strip and the Philadelphia Route in order to damage terror infrastructure and put an end to the missiles. The residents even expressed willingness to suffer even greater missile attacks in order to allow the Israeli army to act in the Strip,” Davidi added.
Hezbollah Guerrillas Return To Destroyed Israeli Villages
Last week, Israel Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres declared on at least four occasions that Israel’s great achievement in last summer’s war was that Hezbollah is no longer on Israel’s northern border.
However, Israeli intelligence sources confirm that Hezbollah fighters have begun to return to the villages in southern Lebanon, even villages that abut the border with Israel. This has been confirmed by a number of high-ranking military officials. A building boom of the organization’s infrastructure is clearly visible in the villages that were destroyed in the war, including observation posts that have been manned once again to resume the collection of intelligence about Israel.
For the time being, underscore the sources, no armed Hezbollah guerrillas have been spotted. They said that the guerrillas were able to return because the UNIFIL mandate does not allow the UNIFIL troops to enter the villages to prevent Hezbollah from rebuilding its military infrastructure. UNIFIL is permitted to do so only outside the villages, in the open areas. Indeed, UNIFIL troops have tried to disrupt Hezbollah’s efforts to rehabilitate its military infrastructure in the “nature preserves.”
Israeli military sources said that the monitoring work being done by the Lebanese army along the Israeli and Syrian borders was very sketchy because of the power struggles within the Lebanese government and Lebanese society. The instability of the Siniora government has prevented it from forcing its will to be done. The Lebanese government has a clear interest in preventing weaponry from being smuggled in through the Syrian border, since those smuggling operations undermine the regime and damage the economy. However, in an attempt to appease some of the conflicting forces at work within it, the Lebanese government has taken a conciliatory approach and has refrained from enforcing its will.
The high-ranking sources confirmed that Hezbollah has replenished a significant part of its rocket supply – both the long- and short-range – that it lost or expended in the course of the Second Lebanon War. Nonetheless, Hezbollah has been hard put to recover from its loss in personnel after having lost hundreds of fighters over the summer.
Furthermore, security officials said they believed that Nasrallah’s fulminating statements notwithstanding, Hezbollah lost much of the freedom of action it enjoyed prior to the war in the internal Lebanese arena.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007