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Inside Look at What is Happening In Israel
by David Dolan
Wednesday, 9:00 PM
I am in the Israeli coastal town of Ashkelon tonight, where I have been listening for several hours to the sound of Israeli fire striking at Yasser Arafat's "Force 17" security headquarters in the nearby Gaza Strip. Other Palestinian sites in Ramallah, north of Jerusalem, have also been hit by Israeli fire this evening.
Many of you have written to me concerning various news reports saying that Israel is on the verge of going to war against the Palestinians and/or Hizbullah forces in Lebanon. I have not commented before now on reports from a web site called "Debka" that is apparently being reprinted by several major pro-Israel web sites. I was still in the United States when Debka reported on February 22 that Israel was on the verge of going to war against Syria and Iraq. Upon returning to Israel in early March, I could find no evidence that the reports had been true. What I did learn was that Saddam had moved troops toward the Syrian and Jordanian border, as he had several times before, but that no special Israeli response had taken place.
This past Sunday, the site reported that Israel would strike at Hizbullah positions in south Lebanon "within 72 hours" to take out new Iranian-manned missiles that can hit central Israel. Now that this deadline has passed, I feel freer to comment. Please be VERY CAREFUL about accepting any reports on supposed Mideast events that do not originate in the region! It is certainly true that we are on pins and needles at present but it does not help to have such reports spread abroad by people who are not based here in the Middle East. All of us who work as journalists in Israel realized immediately that the reports were false, since there was ABSOLUTELY NO CHANCE that the new Sharon government would take offensive action against Hizbullah forces in the run-up to the Arab summit meeting in Amman, which is ending today. The last thing the new government needed was to hand the Arab leaders a fresh reason to bash Israel. With all due respect, reports that originate from outside this region often show ignorance of the realities of the Israeli political and military situation.
However, now that the Arab summit has ended, and more than this, in light of the extremely sharp escalation of terror attacks aimed at Israeli civilians--nay children--in recent days, there is no doubt that we are in A VERY SERIOUS SITUATION AT PRESENT. PM Sharon basically said today that the Palestinians have declared full-scale war on Israel in recent days by means of their outburst of terror attacks. As tonight's Israeli strikes on Force 17 outposts demonstrate, the new Israeli leader will respond, make no mistake about it. However, he will do so in an intelligent manner, in cooperation with his coalition Labor party colleagues. A sign of what lies ahead was given today by the head of the opposition, Meretz party leader Yossi Sarid, who sharply attacked Yasser Arafat for allowing terrorism to explode (we have had six attacks in just the last 48 hours). When Israel gets to the point where the head of the most left-wing Israeli party is condemning Arafat, the political path is open for a very strong response to the escalating Palestinian terror war. The missiles in Lebanon--manned by Iranian forces--are an obvious threat as well, and Israeli action against them in the coming days is altogether possible.
In a nutshell, the Israeli public has had it. The shooting death of a baby in her mother's arms on Monday in Hebron, the twin terror attacks in Jerusalem yesterday (which miraculously did not kill any of the intended victims, but did leave some seriously wounded) and today's bestial slaughter of two teenage Israeli teenage boys near Kfar Saba northeast of Tel Aviv has left Israelis angrier than I have seen them in many months--really since the lynching of two soldiers in Ramallah last October. The Palestinians have clearly gone too far in their goading of Sharon and his Jewish citizens, and the new leader--who won the February election on a pledge to enhance the security of the average Israeli--will surely respond. Sharon is aware that Arafat wants him to act with great force in order to prod the UN to send an "international protection force" to the disputed territories in the coming weeks. Since he does not want such a force to come here, he will take Arafat's aims into consideration as he responds to the orgy of terrorism. Yet he cannot ignore the fact that it is HIS civilians who have been the targets of repeated and unprovoked deadly attack in recent weeks, not Arafat's people.
Indications are growing that a "significant response" (i.e. one more severe than tonight's helicopter bombings of Force 17 headquarters) is imminent, especially after the "Land Day" demonstrations scheduled to take place on Friday. PM Sharon is not likely to do too much before then in order not to reopen the internal wounds that occurred when 13 Israel Arabs were killed during riots last October. However, next week is another matter. It is assumed that Arafat's strategy is indeed to force Sharon to act before Friday in order to "draft" Israel's 1,000,000 plus Arab citizens into his "holy war" against the hated Jewish state. Labor party leaders and some in the Likud are warning Sharon not to fall into this trap. However, one or two more terrorist attacks before Friday against Israeli citizens--especially children--may be enough to force his hand.
All this to say that the situation here is very serious. I do not share this special report to scare you, but to urge you to pray for us at this critical time. Israel's leaders need divine wisdom to cope with the present situation. Please pray that they will receive the same. And don't forget that the LORD REIGNS!