Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Gaza and Israel

For three days running the IDF managed to kill Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, one set of five of them were returning from a "successful" firing of several rockets and mortars into Israel. The rockets did not kill anyone, but one of them hit a kindergarten that was fortunately empty at the time. These terrorists in Gaza were from Hamas, and at their funeral processions the next day there were the usual extremist threats against Israel. Last night a leader of the military wing of Hamas was killed in a group near the Gaza border. Targeted killings are successful in preventing effective attacks on Israel.
Meanwhile part of Gaza was suffering without electricity in the sweltering heat. About 25% of the electricity supply of Gaza was cut off because the generating company had insufficient oil supply. But, this was suspicious because the money to buy the oil from Israel was being supplied by the EU office here, and they suspected that the money was instead being siphoned off by the Hamas Govt. to use for other purposes, such as buying arms. So the EU cut off the funds and the Israeli company supplying the oil stopped the shipments. While the Hamas spokeman denied misuse of the funds, the EU insisted on a guarantee that the funds would not be used by the Hamas Govt., which it does not recognize. Once the EU got this guarantee, for what its worth, they reinstituted the payments and after five days the oil started flowing again. Israel is committed to supplying humanitarian aid to Gaza throughout this conflict. But, the question is should Israel supply oil and electricity to Gaza while they are shooting rockets at us? I don't think so!
Meanwhile, the tentative agreement between Israel and the Fayyad PA Govt. in the West Bank to stop terrorism in exchange for an amnesty for al Aksa Brigade terrorists seems to have foundered. The IDF has still been going after and arresting some wanted terrorists who are not on the list of ca. 270 that the two sides agreed upon. Instead the al Aksa leadership claimed that all of their cadres were covered by the amnesty, but this was not true and is denied by the Israel Govt. Using this excuse, the al Aksa Brigades have issued pamphlets to their members telling those that put down their arms to take them up again. The IDF now predicts an increased terrorist wave against Israel from the West Bank. While the Fayyad Govt and Pres. Abbas have declared themselves against the use of terrorism, it seems that they can do nothing about the terrorists operating from their territory, in violation of the amnesty agreement and of the first requirment of the Road Map, that Abbas signed several years ago.
The lack of funds in Gaza is beginning to tell. The number of Kassam rockets from Gaza into Israel is now at a fairly constant low level of 2-3 a day. Not acceptable, but at least not increasing. The IDF puts this down to the lack of funds to buy explosives to produce the rockets in Gaza. But, meanwhile the Olmert Govt. has not done its job in reinforcing the roofs of schools and kindergartens in Sderot and in the north of Israel, in case of a new war there. To a large extent they have been relying on donations (mainly from the US) and private organizations doing the job. This is unacceptable in a situation where children's lives are at stake and the Courts have issued injunctions requiring this work to be done. The Olmert Govt. can claim that there are limited funds and they have just agreed to increase the payments to Holocaust survivors in Israel, as well as a looming teacher's strike and a general agreement that the salaries of teachers are much too low and must be increased. Certainly funds are low in Israel too, but many will blame the Olmert Govt. for a lack of clear budgetary priorities.


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