Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Let's not become confused

Nathan Alterman, who wrote extensively about purity of arms, wondered many years ago what kind of memorial should be erected for three IDF soldiers -- Hanan Samson, Yossi Kaplan and Boaz Sasson -- who fell while pursuing terrorists, because they were reluctant to harm a nursing mother who stood at the entrance to a cave in the Jordan Valley and behind whom the terrorists were hiding. Should it be an ordinary memorial, like those scattered everywhere else in the country in memory of the fallen in Israel's battles, or perhaps a monument in the shape of a woman with a child at her breast, whose lives the three purchased with their deaths? Even today, the enemy holds children with one hand and fires on Israeli civilians and soldiers with the other, and the world uses false scales to weigh Israel's morality. Forty years ago, Alterman defined the difference between us and them after the deaths of Samson, Kaplan and Sasson. "There is no question that even by the furthest stretch of our imagination, we would be unable to imagine the possibility of the opposite of what happened during that pursuit. In other words, a situation in which IDF fighters would hide behind Jewish women and children, and use a Jewish nursing mother as camouflage and a hiding place to conceal themselves from Fatah members. IDF soldiers would be incapable of such a thing -- even if we ignore all the other reasons -- first and foremost for the simple reason that a Jewish woman with a baby in her arms is not a 'deterrent factor' for Arab fighters." What has changed since Alterman's time -- and maybe it's nothing new -- is that not only does the civilian population not constitute a deterrent factor for Hezbollah fighters and for Palestinian terror, but also a civilian population has nearly become their sole target. The IDF, on the other hand, has already sacrificed fighters in Bint Jbail and refrained from massive "target softening" bombing raids from the air in order to avoid killing civilians. In the tragic events of Qana, Hezbollah intentionally set itself up in the heart of civilians, thereby deliberately creating the conditions that led to the disaster.
We cannot become confused and allow the world and ourselves, and particularly the Arab citizens of Israel who live among us, to turn things upside down. Hezbollah, like Palestinian terror, harms women and children with malice in a systematic fashion. We do it rarely and by mistake. These things must be said just because things that are self evident tend to be forgotten. This war must end in victory and in the disarming of Hezbollah, either by us or by others. That is the line separating victory from a missed opportunity. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is well aware than anything less that that will only serve to draw the starting line of the next campaign against Hezbollah. That is why he is rightly insisting on a continuation of the fighting, and we must help him repel the internal and external pressures to hold our fire already now. The prime minister also deserves support when it comes to his policy on the issue of the kidnapped soldiers. The leadership must exercise level-headed considerations of profit and loss, cost and returns, and place them on the scales, even if they are cruel. That is why it was decided to refrain during the first stage of fighting from massive use of ground forces in order to prevent heavy losses to the IDF, and that is how Olmert is behaving on the issue of the kidnapped soldiers as well. It is not easy to write these words, and I hope that the hostages will return home soon and in good health, but the unequivocal opposition to releasing terrorists in exchange for the hostages, to which Olmert is adhering for the time being, is well anchored in the bloody reality in which we live. Fourteen of the mass terrorist attacks in recent years were carried out by freed terrorists. Dozens of attacks in which hundreds of more people were killed or wounded were also organized by freed terrorists. Confronting the families of the kidnapped men is certainly a heartrending experience for the prime minister, but he must continue to keep these statistics in mind. Israeli behavior in previous kidnapping cases must constitute a warning light, rather than a precedent on which to rely, God forbid. Just as we have to end the war differently this time, we also have to try to free the kidnapped men this time in another way or at another price. If this time the considerations of "here and now" also get the upper hand, the blood price of the next round will only increase further

Source Haaretz Daily news Paper

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