Jerusalem – For a truce with Hamas, the government of Israel set one condition – that Hamas hand over the one POW in its grips, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, whom it has been holding since June 2006.
Hamas refused that condition, telling the media that any deal for Cpl. Shalit’s release was unrelated to the truce agreement. What Hamas asks in exchange for Cpl. Shalit is the release of key Hamas operatives who are sitting in Israeli jails for committing multiple murders – a price that Israel is not willing to pay.
As a result, the director of Egyptian intelligence, Gen. Omar Suleiman, who had been negotiating a truce between Israel and Hamas, the terror group that controls Gaza, left Israel on Monday night disappointed.
Israel now prepares for an escalated war on its southern border next week.
However, The Bulletin has learned that during President Bush’s visit in the Middle East, scheduled for tomorrow, Friday and Saturday, Israeli combat units have been ordered to refrain from offensive actions and to focus on defending and safeguarding roads and points of friction between Israelis and Palestinians. In addition, it was decided that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) would not make arrests until Mr. Bush leaves. There can be arrests only if the targets are considered “ticking bombs.”
If The Situation Continues, ‘We’ll Evacuate The Children’
“We’ll evacuate the children if the mortar shell fire is not stopped,” leaders of the Jewish communities near Gaza told the Israeli prime minister yesterday.
On Sunday, members of the kibbutzim and other communities in the area met with senior officers from the Southern Command and told them of their children’s anxieties and their fear of going outside and doing such basic things as playing soccer on the grass.
But they felt most frustrated when the military told them that the IDF has a military solution to the Kassam and mortar shellfire but that the political echelon is not giving them a green light.
The Eshkol Regional Council, the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, the Ashkelon mayor and Member of Knesset Shai Hermesh of Kadima decided to send a very clear message to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: “Either the Israeli government ensures a stop the mortar shellfire or we evacuate the children.” The chairmen plan to evacuate the children to other regional councils, where they will be hosted until decided otherwise. The council chairmen are demanding that a solution be found, even if this means a large-scale ground operation. “If there is an operation, then, in fact, we will stay home and fight for our homes.”
The answer that these communities got was to wait for the operation to begin next week, after Mr. Bush leaves Israel.
Shuli Katz Murdered By Gaza Missile
Shuli Katz, 70, from Kibbutz Gvaram near Ashkelon, was killed by a Gaza missile while she was visiting relatives in Moshav Yesha.
Ms. Katz drove to the moshav with her son Yariv, 40. The two parked in the backyard, and the son got out to make sure he had the right house.
At that moment, his mother also got out of the car; a missile fired from Gaza exploded a meter away from her. A large crater appeared in the road, and Ms. Katz died on the spot. The shocked son ran to the house to get help. Magen David Adom ambulance teams were called and tried to revive her, but to no avail. Magen David Adom is the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross.
A neighbor in Moshav Yesha said that “the family didn’t go to Kibbutz Gvaram to hold the family reunion there as planned because they feared missiles from Gaza, which had fallen in nearby Ashkelon in the morning, and then a missile from Gaza hit them here.”
Liora Yungar, whom Ms. Katz and her son went to visit, related on Monday: “I came to Israel for the Independence Day celebration and I began to prepare things in the kitchen for their visit. Shuli, my sister-in-law, came with her son to visit me. The door was open and suddenly we heard an enormous boom. Shuli was a good woman and we all loved her. She was a nurse, not only by training, but in her soul. Everyone loved her and she always helped everyone. Only now do I understand what I see on television about the missiles that are fired from Gaza.”
Moshe Yam, in whose house the family meeting took place, recounted: “I was late getting dressed for the meeting, and it seems that this delay saved my life. When I opened the door, I asked Yariv where his mother was and he said, ‘Outside.’ And then, as I was walking toward her, there was an enormous explosion.”
Ms. Katz worked as a nurse on Kibbutz Gvaram for 30 years. Ms. Katz was about to celebrate her 70th birthday with her four children and five grandchildren. Instead, her family will escort her to her final resting place.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008