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Sol Salbe: Israeli News Items Easy To Miss

Some News Items That Would Be Easy To Miss

From Middle East News Service

[ Middle East News Service comment: I am aware that a large number of you also peruse the Haaretz website at least in English, But unless you read every item there are real gems that you may miss. In trying to improve the service I am experimenting with forwarding compilations of such items.

– Sol Salbe]


1) Words of wisdom from S Yizhar:

As the headlines indicates in every Israeli website you care to check, one of the giants of Hebrew literature, S Yizhar (Yizhar Smilansky) died yesterday aged 89. Unless Hebrew literature is your cup of tea you would miss Yizhar’s own words quoted by Shiri Lev-Ari in Haaretz:

'You don't win wars'

In the past few weeks, Yizhar was ill and was hospitalized most of the time, so he did not have a chance to respond to the war in Lebanon in any conscious manner. Nevertheless, anyone asking themselves what he would have said about it could perhaps have found the answers in an article he published in Haaretz in April 1996.

"It is once again obvious that there are wars that you do not win by force," he wrote. "Even when the force is superlatively massive and smart. You don't beat Katyushas, it seems, by force. In the same way that the suicide terrorists didn't win by force, in the same way that the intifada wasn't won by force. The Katyushas are a miserable weapon of the poor. The suicide bombers are a single individual who wear a weapon, and the intifada wielded the most primitive weapons - stones, knives and bottles... It is hard to win against people who feel they have nothing to lose ... There's no choice but to resort to the diplomatic path. You don't win wars, you only win agreements."


2) In the meantime in the south 11,280 shells

[From a column by senior Haaretz commentator Akiva Eldar, Hebrew only Translated by Sol Salbe.]

In the middle of the war with no name in the North, Amir Peretz found time to answer a question asked by Zahava Gal-on. The Chair of the Meretz Knesset faction asked last (northern) spring in regard to an operation honoured with name “summer rain.” In his reply Peretz reports that between April 2006 and 20 July a total of 11,280 shells were fired towards “open, uninhabited areas in which [rocket firing] units move on their way to launching places or from which rockets are actually launched.” By comparison in operation “First Rain” that ran form 25 September last year and ended on 3 April only 2713 were fired. The Defence Minister knew that each shells cost NIS2,900 (A$875.) According to him this was “a relatively cheap substitute in comparison to the need to maintain a permanent armed platform in sector or the cost of a guided missile.

What the Defence Minister was not able to tell Gal-On was the number of Palestinian Civilians (non-combatants) who were hit by the thousands of shells. What he did know was that , in the South like in North, “Terrorists are not reluctant to carry out the launching of rockets and mortar shells from private yards or in their vicinity. At the same time in view of the degree of accuracy of the artillery shells and in order to avoid hitting the innocent a large safety margin has been established keep a distance from residential areas and urban conglomerates.

If “hitting innocents” trouble Peretz so much (apart from the need to maintain a line of communications with the Palestinians), B’Tselem will be delighted to provide him with the data. The [Israeli civil rights] organisation has a list of 163 Palestinians who were killed in the Gaza Strip during July, 78 of which (48 per cent) were not involved in combat operation when they were killed. Of the dead 36 were children under 18, and 20 were women. In the same month 15 additional Palestinians were killed on the West Bank. According to the B’Tselem figures, the number killed in Territories was the highest for a ingle month since April 2002. Who said that we need to return Shaul Mofaz to the Defence Ministry?



[ Middle East News Service comment: again Haaretz is being a bit coy, some might even use the terms disingenuous. Where would Israel capture 70-80 year old POWs? You have to remember the famous raid earlier in the war on the near-empty Hezbollah owned hospital in Baalbek. This morning Israel handed over the five POW from that operation to UNIFIL. At the time the Hezbollah said that hey were non-combatants who had nothing to do with the organisation while the IDF said that they were important. Prime Minister Olmert called them “tasty fish”. It turned out that they included a greengrocer, a wall tiler and a 13 year old boy whose crime was that his name is Hassan Nasrallah (some thing equivalent to David Brown in Australia.)]

Reservists: Lebanese POWs were kept in bus for 4 days

By Nir Hasson

Five Lebanese citizens, including two elderly men, were imprisoned for four days in a bus, reserve soldiers serving in the Military Police told Haaretz Monday.

The reservists said that arguments in the Israel Defense Forces prevented putting the prisoners in a POW compound. The prisoners were released when it transpired that they were not associated with Hezbollah.

When a war starts, army regulations require setting up a prison facility for POWs in 24 hours, and one was set up in a military camp in the north. Some 15 days after the fighting began, the IDF started sending prisoners it captured in Lebanon back to Israel.

The MP soldiers asked to intern the POWs in the prison facility that had been set up for this purpose, but senior officers refused to open it. "They feared the temporary facility would become permanent and be a burden after the reserve soldiers are discharged," a military source said.

The idea to set up a POW facility in tents on civilian territory was ruled out, for fear of media attention, and the soldiers and POWs were forced to sit together in a bus that was placed on a truck chassis for four days and nights.

"Two of them were 70 or 80 years old, it was very difficult for them because they had to climb in and out of the bus with chains on their legs. It would be hard to describe it as humanitarian treatment," one soldier said.

The bus was filled with equipment, leaving little room for the POWs and the heat in it was unbearable. The soldiers said some 20 POWs were sent to them, most of whom were released after questioning.

A small number of POWs was sent to prisons in the central region for the continuation of their interrogation.


[The independent Middle East News Service concentrates on providing alternative information chiefly from Israeli sources. It is sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the AJDS. These are expressed in its own statements]

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