Well, it appears Hamas has won. This is another replay of the Lebanon war. Supposedly our leaders learned something from that war, but, sadly, it appears they have not. According to the Winograd Report:
Overall, we regard the 2nd Lebanon war as a serious missed opportunity. Israel initiated a long war, which ended without its clear military victory. A semi-military organization of a few thousand men resisted, for a few weeks, the strongest army in the Middle East, which enjoyed full air superiority and size and technology advantages. The barrage of rockets aimed at Israel's civilian population lasted throughout the war, and the IDF did not provide an effective response to it. The fabric of life under fire was seriously disrupted, and many civilians either left their home temporarily or spent their time in shelters. After a long period of using only standoff fire power and limited ground activities, Israel initiated a large scale ground offensive, very close to the Security Council resolution imposing a cease fire. This offensive did not result in military gains and was not completed. These facts had far-reaching implications for us, as well as for our enemies, our neighbors, and our friends in the region and around the world.Sound familiar? Here we have Olmert proclaiming that we have a victory in Gaza while rockets rain down on our citizens.
He tells us that Cast Lead has destroyed half of the Hamas rockets and most of their long-range stockpile, but there is no way he can know that (and, as far as I can see, it doesn't appear that Ashdod and Be'er Sheva are any better off). Our soldiers sit in the field, a magnet for terrorist attacks, and the Galid Shalit is still a prisoner.
As far as I can see, Israel has lost its second war against a bunch of snot-nosed terrorists, not because we can't win it, but because we WON'T win it. We are too worried about public opinion in the places where people hate us anyway and would love to see us disappear tomorrow, and we are not worried enough about the safety, security, and future of Israel.
Now every little terrorist is going to want to stand up to the IDF, hide behind small children and refugees, and shoot at us indiscriminately knowing, of course, that we don't have the BZ to defend ourselves against bloggers, screaming crowds, and hostile UN representatives.
Seriously, this is an incredibly sad moment and an incredibly dangerous one. Olmert and his cronies have put Israel in the bullseye of every hostile group in the middle east, and we have lost our ability to instill fear in them. That was our greatest protection. It is gone. We have lost face, lost respect, and, most of all, lost this war.
Shame on our leadership. Our dear country will be paying for this folly for the next century.
Cabinet Okays Unilateral Truce; Hamas Continues Rocket Fire
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
(IsraelNN.com) The government approved a unilateral truce Saturday night as Hamas continued to attack. Two Cabinet ministers, Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) and Industry Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) voted against the decision. Rafi Eitan (Pensioners), Minister for Pensioners' Affairs, abstained although he previously threatened to resign if the government okayed a ceasefire without the return of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a press conference that the Cast Lead counterterrorist operation has achieved gains beyond expectations in the three weeks since it began. He pointed out that Hamas rocket fire has been reduced and that the IDF has wiped out most of the group's long-range arsenal.
However, he warned residents of southern Israel not to expect an immediate end to rocket attacks.
Minutes after he spoke, Hamas attacked the Be'er Sheva area with a rocket that exploded in an open area. Several minutes before he spoke, Hamas carried out its threat not to halt attacks and fired on Ashkelon and Ashdod, where one home sustained a direct hit. No one was physically wounded, but several people were hospitalized for treatment of shock.
The house sustained heavy damage, and power was knocked out in the neighborhood.
The Prime Minister said that four countries - Germany, France, Italy and Britain - have committed to sending personnel to stop smuggling of weapons into Gaza. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said his army will send warships to patrol the Gaza coast.
He held out an olive branch to the Palestinian Authority, saying that Israel considers the Gaza region part of a future Arab state to be created within Israel's current borders.
Hamas earlier rejected the expected unilateral ceasefire, stating that "resistance and confrontation will continue" until the IDF withdraws from Gaza.
The government truce calls for the IDF to remain in the area but not to attack effective 2 a.m. Sunday (7 p.m. Saturday EST), but allows soldiers with complete freedom to retaliate if Hamas continues to attack.
Concerning kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, Prime Minister Olmert said that the issue is a top priority and that it is best not to talk about the matter publicly.
Meanwhile, negotiations continue in Egypt concerning security along the border between Egypt and Gaza and conditions for the re-opening of the border in the divided city of Rafiah.
In Washington, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discussed guarantees for stopping smuggling along the border with visiting Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
However, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters, who questioned what is different from previous commitments that have not stopped smuggling, "Well… we are not responsible for, you know, smuggling happening or not. We are able to participate in robust ways to assist others as well in making sure that smuggling, resupply of Hamas, does not take place.
"There are a lot of different moving parts to this problem. And we have been engaged on this problem for a while. I think all of you understand that we sent a team to Egypt – Army Corps of Engineers – to look specifically at tunnels. There are other aspects to this: the air aspect, the sea aspect to this. But we think we have the beginnings of that."