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The Proverbial Chicken Is Coming Home to Roost

It is a rainy Monday night in Jerusalem, day three of the Hanukkah war against the Hamas terrorist regime in Gaza. I just met a family from Ein Tzurim that spent the day in Jerusalem. Ein Tzurim is a religious … Read More

By / December 29, 2008

It is a rainy Monday night in Jerusalem, day three of the Hanukkah war against the Hamas terrorist regime in Gaza. I just met a family from Ein Tzurim that spent the day in Jerusalem. Ein Tzurim is a religious kibbutz located about 23 kilometers northeast of Gaza, by now well within range of the Grad rockets being fired at Israeli towns. The family, along with all the other people living in their part of the kibbutz, was expelled from the Gush Katif settlements in the summer of 2005. They still live in temporary structures with thin plywood walls, waiting for the houses that have been promised them for three and a half years now. There is not a single bomb shelter in the entire neighborhood, so this family of seven decided to take the day off in Jerusalem. They are so used to being screwed over by the Israeli government that they don’t even have the energy to be cynical about it. On the way to Jerusalem they were pulled over by the cops because there were more kids than seat belts in the car. "We are from Gush Katif," they said to the police officer. Gush Katif. This nonsensical name of a place that does not even exist anymore, a name that has come to signify defiance. The officer let them go without a word.

As I write this, thousands of Israeli troops are waiting from the green light along the Gaza border. The Israeli Air Force has just about exhausted its target bank in Gaza after three days of intense bombing, unequaled since the Six Day War in 1967. Rumors have been circulating since mid-afternoon that the ground invasion has already started, but so far nothing has been confirmed. What can be said for sure is that morale is high, to the point where media has been forbidden access to the soldiers. Israel obviously does not want the polished rhetorical efforts of Peres, Livni, and Barak to be undone by gun-wielding 18-year-olds expressing their excitement about the prospects of killing people.

Operation Cast Lead, as it is called, is an attempt to set things straight after years of hodge-podge in lalaland. Nobody saw it coming: Defense Minister Ehud Barak was accused of treason in the Knesset as late as Friday for allowing a shipment of humanitarian aid into Gaza a day after 60 rockets and mortars pounded the south. The entire country has been under the impression that its leadership is indifferent and corrupt to the core, holding on to power with a white-knuckled grip with no regard to popular opinion or the unbearable reality of hundreds of thousands of Israelis living within range of the rockets that Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza have been firing indiscriminately for over seven years now. And in just about five minutes around noon on Saturday, all that changed.

It turns out that Defense Minister Barak is sneaky bastard with integrity, allowing his own popularity to slump in the polls for the better good. People are elated in a way I have not seen since the early days of the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, excited about fighting for a just cause. Everybody knows a combat soldier at the border, so of course there is also some worrying going on, but not enough to detract people from the clear sense that the time has come to clean up the mess in Gaza, once and for all.

A seasoned colleague of mine warns me that this field day will end as soon as the IDF screws up and blows up an orphanage by mistake ("It always happens"), but until that happens we can expect to see a determined IDF trying to secure its main objective: to completely change the rules of the game.

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