Friday, August 24, 2001

Unilateral Retreat

Unilateral Retreat
August 24, 2001

Again, yesterday was one of those days. Another one too many. Gunfire can never be defined as fun. Especially when it is aimed at you, your wife, children, family, friends, acquaintances, soldiers, etc.

Seeing anyone hit by gunfire is appalling, especially when the gunfire could have been prevented. Pictures of children injured by terrorist acts, by terrorist gunfire, is close to being the bottom of the barrel. A child, lying in the street, his face covered by an oxygen mask, with medics and doctors trying to save his life, with his mother hovering over him, praying to G-d that her son will live, this is a very difficult picture to stomach.

What could be worse? Seeing two brothers, one lying next to the other, both of whom were shot and wounded by the same bullet. The mother has to pray for two children, not only one.

Needless to say, preferable are the pictures of such children who live, as opposed to those who die. In Hebron, we have witnessed both.

Yesterday’s victim’s, thank G-d, will recover. Tzvi-El Meshulam’s condition has much improved. The doctors were able to quickly stop internal chest bleeding and remove part of the bullet that pierced his body. His older brother, Matan-El, struck in the hand, was operated on for almost eight hours last night. Following surgery doctors reported that after months of physiotherapy and other treatment, they hope Matan-El will recover 80% use of his wounded hand.

A 2nd Meshulam family miracle. The first one, in 1995, came after a Lowe missile hit their apartment. Their then 12-year-old daugher Bat-El, was home alone that morning, not feeling well. The fact that the whole apartment wasn’t destroyed, together with her, was literally a miracle.

Not all families are so lucky. Earlier this week, attending the funeral of a friend’s mother, I found myself face to face with five freshly dug graves, all in a row. The Schuyveschuurder family lost five loved ones: the mother, father and two children. There are no words to describe or express the sensations experienced while standing opposite the burial site of five people from one family, so needlessly killed.

Yet there are others. There are those who live. Sort of. For instance, the Bloomberg’s from Karnei Shomron. The mother, Techiya, was shot and killed. Her husband, Steve, was hit by three bullets, in his face, leg and stomach. The doctors still don’t know if he will ever walk again.

The Bloomberg’s oldest daughter, fourteen and a half year old Tziporah, was hit in the spine. She is paralyzed from the waste down.

And four other children, aged 7 to 13, remain at home. Without a father, without a mother, without their oldest sister. They have almost no other family. They have no maternal grandparents. Their paternal grandparents are elderly and live in England. They are virtually left to themselves. That is what is left of their lives. (See:
Over the past few hours journalists have been questioning me about last night’s operation on the Shalhevet (Abu Sneneh) hills. “Are you happy or satisfied with two houses being blown up? Is this enough?” 

First of all, last night’s short return to Abu Sneneh is much too little, much too late. The two houses, in the past a source of Arafat-initiated gunfire on Jewish neighborhoods in Hebron, should have disappeared off the face of the earth immediately after the beginning of shooting attacks, eleven months ago. And if not then, at least following the shooting and murder of Shalhavet Pass, in March. The ‘white house’ and the ‘brown house,’ as they were called, were empty for months. It is doubtful if any attacks occurred from within their walls for quite a long time. Their destruction was solely a symbolic act, saying to Arafat, “We have the ability to return to Abu Sneneh, and we might do it again.”

However, this is far from enough. Perhaps a good start, but nothing more than that. We aren’t interested in symbolic acts, lots of noise or a good show. We are interested in seeing an end to the shooting. We demand an end to the attacks. We want to be able to walk and drive the streets, to stand on our porches or next to our windows without risking our lives. That should not be too much to ask.

The only way this will be accomplished is when the IDF climbs the Abu Sneneh and Harat a’Shech hills and stays there. Senior military sources, including the Commander of Judea and Samaria, and the Deputy Chief of Staff have said, last night, and today, that this possibility does exist. The question is, what must happen before Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gives the orders? Must more bullets be shot at us, must another child be hit by terrorist gunfire, or G-d forbid, another life lost? Why  is Sharon waiting? He knows that last night’s short return to Abu Sneneh will not bring to an end to the shooting. So what is he waiting for?
For the past few weeks the Israeli media has been flashing around the idea of a unilateral Israeli separation from the Arabs (otherwise called “palestinians”).  The media, together with the left, is pushing this concept, trying to make people believe that it is a viable solution to today’s conflict. They have seemingly concluded that Arafat is not a “partner” and never will be. If we can’t make a deal with him then the next best thing is to “separate ourselves” from him.

Such short memories people have.

It was less than a year and a half ago that Ehud Barak decided to “separate” Israel, unilaterally, from the Hizballah in South Lebanon. One night the Israeli army fled, leaving behind weapons, and our then ally, the Lebanese Christians, who had so helped us in our battle against the Lebanese and Syrian terrorist forces who attacked our northern border cities.

The result of that “unilateral withdrawal” has been the so-called “second intifada,” or the Oslo War, declared by Arafat almost a year ago. Arafat then learned, if you kill enough Jews, they will flee. If it could be done in Lebanon, then why not in Judea, Samaria and Gazza?  With that thought came the declaration of war, bringing with it over 150 Israelis dead and thousands wounded.

Not only that. The forces we so desired to separate ourselves from, Hizballah, is not only kidnapping Israeli soldiers on the northern border. They too have become actively involved in Arafat’s war, supplying knowledge, manpower and weapons.

Yet the Israeli left, ill with serious amnesia, is attempting to bring additional catastrophe upon our country. “If you can’t live with them, run away.” That is, in other words, the definition of unilateral separation. It is an almost total withdrawal from Judea, Samaria and Gazza, uprooting hundreds of communities, and transferring almost 200,000 Jews from their homes. Leaving it all to Arafat.

What will happen next. Arafat will take a good look at the game board and move his piece again. To Tel Aviv, Kfar Saba, Petach Tikva, Haifa and Eilat. Why not? It worked twice already, so why shouldn’t it work again? What solution will the Israeli left then suggest?

The only solution is to stand up and fight. To stop playing games, to call Arafat’s bluff, and to KO him. Because, it really is a bluff. Arafat knows that he cannot militarily defeat us. He is counting on our “humanitarian conscience” to save him.  If he is unwilling to stop the war then let’s turn the tables, forcing him to declare a “unilateral separation” or better phrased, a “unilateral retreat” from Yesha. Better them than us.

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