Saturday, May 19, 2007

Olmert Must Stop Hamas Missiles Or Resign

I have not been one of those to caustically criticize Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for his conduct of the war Israel waged last summer against the Hezbollah organization in Lebanon.

Yes, it would have been nice had Israel wiped Hezbollah off the map. Olmert decided not to try, out of fear of much higher Israeli casualties and a possibly wider war. Israel's ground incursion into Lebanon was quite limited, and even Israeli air attacks were kept out of central Beirut. On its side, Hezbollah also showed restraint, firing missiles into Haifa, but not using anywhere as many missiles as it had. After the war was over, Hezbollah claimed victory.

But, still, as time has shown, Israel made quite a bit of progress in the Hezbollah war. The fact is, Hezbollah has not fired a missile into Israel since the war ended in a cease fire Aug. 14, and there have been no further Hezbollah kidnapping expeditions into Israel. A stronger, more assertive United Nations peacekeeping force has been inserted into southern Lebanon. Hezbollah has been preoccupied with trying to widen its and proxy Iranian influence in the Lebanese government, but even in this it has not been successful. And the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has to some extent moderated his tone. Even the Iranians may have backed off a little.

So, despite strong criticism against Olmert that he was too hesitant in the war, and even findings of the Winograd Commission inside Israel that the war was ill-prepared, I still think Olmert has quite a bit to show for it, and, so far, he has withstood calls for his resignation, despite being very low in the polls, in fact, only 3% recently.

Olmert's position as prime minister, however, can only be prolonged, if Israel is successful now in its use of force to stop the terrorist Hamas organization in Gaza from continuing to fire missiles daily at the Israeli city of Sderot and other points outside the Gaza territory.

Hamas is an organization that has increasingly become aligned with Al-Qaeda, and is crazier by quite a degree than Hezbollah. In fact, Hamas, like Al-Qaeda, is a psychotic group that must be resisted now with any force necessary to stop its aggressions against Israeli civilians.

In recent months, as the missiles continued to fly, despite the always half hearted effort of Palestine Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, to rein in the terrorists, Israeli policy has been probably too restrained. For once, the Israelis turned the other cheek to the missile attacks.

However, in the last two weeks, the attacks have intensified. There have been quite a few injuries in Sderot, and about 40% of the 24,000 residents have left the city for safer parts of Israel, as dozens of missiles were fired.

Several days ago, the unpopular Olmert government finally began acting more forcefully. The Israeli Air Force has attacked Hamas installations in Gaza, the Israeli Army has crossed into northern Gaza and taken up positions in some areas from which missiles have been fired, and Israel apparently encouraged Egypt in its decision to allow 500 armed Fatah security forces which had been training in Egypt to cross the Gaza border and take up positions against Hamas in the internecine warfare between Hamas and the more moderate Fatah which has also marked the Gaza situation.

Two years ago, the Israeli government pulled back from Gaza in hopes of allowing the Palestinians themselves to run the pest hole, and to appear more reasonable in its policies of occupying Arab territories.

However, the experiment has not been successful. Gazans promptly elected the radical and terrorist Hamas organization to power, and they have proved just as intransigent and dangerous as ever.

It's now evident, I think, that Israel must see that the missile attacks against its territory from Gaza are ended definitively, no matter what kind of steps it has to take, including a repossession of the Gaza territory. If he cannot bring a cessation of the missile attacks about, Olmert's usefulness as prime minister will be over, and he should resign, allowing more forceful leaders to take over. As long as Israel remains under missile attack, heavy casualties must be inflicted on the enemy, and there are thousands of armed enemies in Gaza.

Meanwhile, there are reports that Israel has been talking with King Abdullah in Jordan to see if the Jordanians might not play a greater role in controlling the West Bank. Jordan possessed the West Bank prior to the Six-Day War in 1967, while Egypt had control in Gaza.

If the Palestinians prove unable to govern themselves peacefully and to keep terrorists from attacks against Israel both in the West Bank and Gaza, it might be wise to bring the Jordanians back. And, it is useful to note, the Mubarak regime in Egypt has just as strong reasons to want to keep Hamas at bay in Gaza, because it does not like Hamas either.


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The Washington Post and New York Times have stories this morning about attempts, likely generated by the Russian government, to destroy cyber systems in the Baltic Republic of Estonia, following the decision by the Estonian government to remove a Soviet war memorial in Tallinn, Estonia's capital.

After disruption of many official and private Web sites, Estonian authorities have been able to trace the cyber attacks to official Russian agencies.

This is a disturbingly aggressive act at a time when the Putin regime in Russia has grown noticeably more repressive toward homegrown dissidents and more aggressive and anti-American and NATO in its foreign policy. It also points the way to possible attempts by Al Qaeda and other terrorists to disrupt cyber systems elsewhere in the world.

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