Jerusalem Magazine
August 1, 2006  War in Israel Day 21
Three Israeli soldiers were killed today in fighting in Lebanon. Reportedly they were paratroopers staked out in an apartment waiting in ambush for the Hezbollah fighters to appear. Their position was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade. Their loss saddened the country. And remind the public of the tens of thousands of soldiers entering the battlefield of Lebanon. Every night the TV news anchors recite a prayer for the soldiers in battle, and pray for the safe return of the three that were kidnapped.
The Hezbollah cessation of missiles on Israel fell off dramatically on Tuesday. Only four fell in Kyriat Shmona.  Israel TV news anchor Yaacov Achimeir paused, reading that piece, and repeated “just four,” as if Israel accepted four rockets falling on its country as acceptable.
Tuesday night a few more fell in the upper Galilee. Residents of the north emerged from their bomb shelters to catch a breath of fresh air. The powers that be warned all residents to stay near their shelters. Some did. Some didn’t. Turns out it was a relatively quiet day. First one in three weeks.  In Haifa the fishermen returned to the sea. All they dragged in with their nets was shrapnel from katyusha rockets.
Israel is also on high alert for suicide bombers. This is yet another front, which will be exploited as time, goes on. Israel caught one Palestinian from Hebron on a road in the north. He had an explosive belt on him. The belt was taken away, and detonated by a robot. Two other Palestinians were arrested in Haifa, stripped naked, their car ransacked. No explosives were found. The Police claim they had detailed intelligence that these men were carrying a bomb. They were arrested, and taken away for interrogation.
These incidents are part of the backdrop to the daily anxiety level of the country. In the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, a heated debate took place between the Arab and Jewish Knesset members. One Arab parliamentarian later appeared on Israel Radio and said he was not ashamed of supporting Hassan Nasrallah nor calling Israel’s Defense Minister a “War Criminal.”  Another group of East Jerusalem Arabs demonstrated outside of the US Consulate in E. Jerusalem calling on Nasrallah to bomb Israel.
Democracy in action. Palestinians siding with Hezbollah. No surprise there. The Arab parliamentarian was allowed to espouse his views both in the Knesset and on the Radio. Right-wing Knesset members are livid over these Arab Knesset members and their support for Hezbollah. Pundits believe much of it is play-acting on both sides. Jews don’t vote for the Arab Knesset members. The Israeli Arabs are pro-Palestinian. If the Knesset member wants to be re-elected he has to represent his constituency. The right-wing politicians ask, ‘Where does politics end and sedition begin?’
One of the vocal anti-war Arab Knesset Members is Dr. Achmed Tibi, a physician who once practiced at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. Dr. Tibi was a close political adviser to the late Yassir Arafat. When Dr. Tibi practiced medicine at Hadassah he treated Jewish patients. Hadassah serves a large Arab and Jewish population.
These days there is a complete “seger” (closure) of Israel’s borders. West Bank Palestinian workers can’t get to their jobs in Israel. Even those with work permits. No one talks about the “Fence” these days. That’s the separation barrier going up along Israel’s border with the Palestinians. In some places it’s a five-meter high fence, in some places it’s a five-meter high cement wall (like the Berlin Wall). The purpose is to stop terrorism. Lots of talk about this wall. Will it stop terrorism? Won’t it stop terrorism?
In the US along the border with Mexico a fence is in place in certain sections. But as a rule it’s not terrorists who are sneaking in but unwanted future citizens will come in illegally. In Israel the authorities are worried that Palestinians wearing canvas belts packed with dynamite, a wish to go to heaven on their lips, will take advantage of the war and rush to Heaven and all the goodies awaiting them.
The events in Lebanon and Gaza underline the reality that the fence won’t be a huge help if the West Bank Palestinians obtain Kassam rockets. Once Hezbollah and Hamas are dealt with,  through battles or diplomacy, Israel will have to face the Palestinians. Life in the Middle East is like an onion, no sooner do you peel back one layer, deal with one problem, then bingo, there’s another one. A brief cease-fire raises thoughts of all those problems exigent before the war.
Yona Yahav, Haifa’s answer to former New York Mayor Rudy Guiiliani, was on the news this morning making his case for government relief funds. Other municipalities have also made their voices heard. According to press reports, 5,500 Israeli homes have been damaged. 300,000 people from the north moved south until the trouble subsides. Hundreds of millions of dollars will be needed to get Israel back up to speed once the fighting stops.
The ground operations continue. Israel claims success in battle as  governments do when they are preparing to sit down at the negotiating table. Each side will exaggerate their success.
However, reports in the Israeli press state that Hezbollah has been hit, and hit hard. Analysts say that the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah never expected Israel to bomb his prized possessions, his office buildings, his headquarters, his missile silos. All agree he still has ample supply but reportedly he was shocked by Israel’s knowledge of his arsenal and the location of his headquarters.
The press also quotes highly placed intelligence sources who claim that the Europeans, and the Arab countries, even Lebanon, want Nasrallah gone, and are willing to drag their feet until Israel gets the job done. One report states that most of the Lebanese are fed up with Nasrallah, but can’t get rid of him. The leaders of Lebanon, except for Wallid Jumblat, the outspoken Druze leader, are afraid of him, and for good reason. He’s a maniacal murderer.   Its difficult to think what will happen if he stays in power. One report says he’s waiting until hostilities end so he can deal with the Lebanese who oppose him.
In the long term, analysts on the Israeli talk shows echo what the Army and government have been saying. This war will take time to win. Gone are the lightening attacks of decades ago where Israel defeated the combined might of five Arab armies in six days. Not because Israel can’t do the same thing again, against traditional armies, but because the battlefield has changed.
This is guerilla warfare, they say. Tens of thousands of troops can go in and hold a position, but it’s the special ops guys, like those killed today, that have to go in like hunting dogs, sniff out the enemy and neutralize the threat. Experts say that’s what these Army and government officials mean by ‘it takes time.’ Special ops guys have to sit in a building for a day or two; their eyes open, waiting for the enemy to appear. Stealth, patience and iron nerves. In the end they are supposed to find the enemy and take him out. Little by little. Group by group. Brick by brick, taking down the building of Terror. No lightening strikes. No quick results. Same thing in Gaza. Same thing in Iraq. In Afghanistan. As the old general said in War and Peace, “Time and patience are the two best warriors.”
In these days of Internet, Cell phones, blackberries, e-mails, faxes, MTV and impatience, who can wait?  Syria and Iran are suspected of supporting terrorism but State-Sponsored terrorism is hard to prove. No one has yet released enough proof to justify an all out war against them.
So it’s the guerilla wars that are fought, like test battles. Fought over feeble excuses. These entanglements are dangerous, and costly. Look at Algeria? But in that case the Algerians wanted to shake off the shackles imposed by France. In this case Israel has withdrawn from Lebanon and Gaza, and still the guerillas keep coming. Because Israel is on Arab land. To them Israel is like the French.
The problem for the world is that to these fanatics the US are like the French, not because they occupy Teheran, or Riyadh, or Damascus, but because they exist. That alone is enough to keep Al Queda, Hamas and Hezbollah fighting. Occupation gives them an excuse to be.
As long as Israel exists, then the battle goes on.. (Not that over history anyone needed much of an excuse to exterminate Jews. In the 12th century Jews were slaughtered in Germany, after living there for hundreds of years, because they didn’t die in great numbers during the Black Plague. Mainly because the Jews observed kashruth, and bathed, in the Mikvah. Simple little things. But to the locals the Jews practiced witchcraft and were massacred in town after town. Reason didn’t save them.
Should Israel fall because of anti-Semitism, anti-decadent democracy, or just plain hatred, then it will be America’s turn next. And Britain, And France. And Italy, and Germany, and on and on. This is not a guerilla war that the West can afford to lose. The resultant complications are too awful to contemplate.
August 1, 2006, War in Israel Day 21