Monday, June 26

IDF dismisses 2nd kidnapping claim

The IDF said early Tuesday morning that Palestinian claims of kidnapping an Israel West Bank resident were false.

Let's hope that's so, despite a persistent report aired on Army Radio's 08:30 news break that the individual was a Breslav Hasid nabbed trying to reach Patriarch Joseph's Tomb in Nablus.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I posted the following late last night, and pulled it moments later awaiting any denial or confirmation).

Palestinian sources are claiming to have kidnapped what they are referring to as a "settler," in the Nablus area of the West Bank, and are, reportedly, planning a press conference soon to announce the deed.

There has been no official response to this claim, as of this posting.

Israeli security officials are investigating the claim, and are taking it seriously, according to initial reports on my beeper service, and Israel Army Radio at the 23:30 update Monday night.

From Ynetnews:

"A spokesperson for the Popular Resistance Committee told Ynet on Monday evening that his group kidnapped a settler in the West Bank. Spokesperson Mahmoud Abed Alal said he would release more information on the kidnapping later Monday night.

"The Israel Defense Forces said it was aware of the announcement but could not yet confirm that an Israeli citizen had been kidnapped, adding that they had received no report on a kidnapping from settlers. Settler leaders also said they are unaware of a kidnapping attack.

I so hope this report turns out to be psy-ops against Israel, and not valid.

However, there was a similar kidnapping attempt against two Israeli women in the West Bank two weeks ago, which, thnakfully, she managed to escape from.

From Haaretz:

"Palestinians tried to kidnap two Israeli girls at the Rechalim Junction, near the West Bank town of Nablus, on Thursday. Israel Defense Forces troops and police officers searched the area, and arrested the three would-be abductors.

"The three armed Palestinians pulled up to a hitchhiking station near the settlement of Rechalim, where the two young women were standing. They exited the vehicle and tried to force one of the girls, Amona Shahar, into the car. She fought them off, suffered a light head wound, and fled. The other girl waiting at the hitchhiking station ran away and used her cellular phone to alert security forces."

Kassam rocket into Sderot wounds one, cuts power to area

First report:

A Kassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip slams into a neighborhood in Sderot, wounding one resident, who sustained shrapnel wounds to the leg and traumatizing several others, according to first reports.

The rocket hit a power pole in the town's Kasdor neighborhood, cutting electricity to the area, Lachish region police report.

'Editorial writers of America's leading newspapers: biased, silly or stupid?'

Barry Rubin at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center asks:"Are the editorial writers of America's leading newspapers biased, silly or stupid about the Arab-Israeli conflict? This week I'm leaning toward the theory that they are silly, by which I mean addicted to saying things that don't make sense.

"True, they are sometimes biased in the sense that both sides can be equally right; the Palestinians can be right, but Israel cannot be right. That doesn't always apply but often does, especially to the New York Times. They are also often stupid in the sense that they are simply ignorant about basic facts, facts which can often be gleaned from reading their own news columns.

Barry, I always liked that about reading and interviewing you one-on-one: simple, plain spoken and to the point, and so refreshingly un-"academic."

Israeli army demolishes Gaza tunnel - almost (Video)

IDF armor units deploy near Gaza for possible incursion (Photos: AP)

From Ynetnews:

"Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, speaking in Jerusalem, said: "Yesterday I ordered army commanders to prepare our forces for a long and ongoing military operation in order to strike terror and its commanders. We will get to everyone wherever they are. There will be no immunity for anyone."

"National Security Council, has been appointed to head an investigation committee which will look into the attack and submit its conclusions to the defense minister and chief of staff.

"IDF forces blew up the tunnel used by terrorists to penetrate Israeli territory, but also found that the tunnel branched out – pointing to possible plans to carry out a more complex attack."

From Haaretz:

"Militants demand women, children in Israeli jails released in return for information on soldier"

From The Jerusalem Post:

"Exactly 30 years after the heroic rescue of Air France hostages from Entebbe by an airborne IDF force, Israel still suffers from a hostage complex. Ongoing warfare at varying levels, which has been Israel's norm for its entire modern history - including hostage-taking, soldiers missing-in-action and others held as prisoners-of-war - are all a tragic part of the normal scheme of things. Israel regularly captures hundreds of terrorists and other prisoners, and so, the IDF's superiority notwithstanding, it can't be illogical for things to also happen the other way around."

Zionists Gone Wild! over at 'Soccer Dad'

Soccer Dad has an engaging discussion goin' on over pros and cons of pro-Israel blogging, with a raft-full of thoughtful comments by the more learned MOT, most focusing on the Gaza beach explosion.

Go jump in, and leave a comment on the ideas being thrashed about. No fragging allowed.

'The Byrds,' abductions, and blogging too close for comfort

Woke up with the blues before sunrise, reading, and listening to the morning news.

Army Radio played The Byrds' classic "Turn, Turn, Turn." Israel. Army. Radio. Robin Williams' Good Morning Vietnam is a damp squib compared to radio coverage here. Israeli broadcasters are a helluva' lot more irreverent than that Hollywood burnout. And the Palestinians are not the Vietnamese. And the war's all around us, and not an ocean away. Well, you get the drill, right?

That came just after the 0700 news report about the last 25 hours. About a soldier kidnapped into enemy hands, and funerals of two others later today. And Fatah threatening chemical weapons attacks against any Israeli attempt to to enter Gaza to free the abducted Gilad Shalit. As I wrote below - ok, cynically enough - been there, done that.

Following are personal reflections (yes, I know this blog is nearly all personal reflections...) written late last night, over covering news here, as a journalist, a blogger.
Unfortunately, with too much of the latter and too little of the former, lately. It's not comprehensive; it may even sound unbalanced, and a bit too self-absorbed in the morning light. But, there it is.
Excuse me while I belly up to the bar here and suck down my first arak of the evening. That strong shot allows me to tell you that, personally, my own nerves are tired and gone from covering the Gaza assault and Israel Defense Forces soldier abduction story since early Sunday morning.

So here we are again, back to somber music on the radio. Tunes usually reserved for Israel Memorial and Holocaust Day. Watching stressed-out TV and radio reporters doing their hastily-organized stand-ups and stake-outs from assorted locations throughout Israel. Listening as they read off flimsily jotted notes, and grasping for clarity in the censorship blackout as to what they can say and what they can't, alluding and hinting to the rest, using a shared language every Israeli knows by heart, by din of overuse, but can't precisely define in terms clear to those beyond the shared group, despite professed heartfelt support for Israel's security predicament. Listening to breaking news of how Hamas may now launch Kassams from Gaza into Israel with chemical payloads.

The personal intestinal fortitude and national gumption required of Israelis dealing with ongoing terrorism on a daily – if not hourly basis, redlines the needle.

Bloggers, here and abroad are no less susceptible to that language of the heart, of a shared fate an Israel experience that binds Jew and gentile, hassid and secular, Muslim and Christian, sometimes far too painfully across seas and continents. Sometimes, just across town.

A hurried early morning call to a flustered representative at the IDF Spokesman's Office in Tel Aviv for a breaking news podcast, I implore the young-sounding, English-speaking soldier to let me know exactly what I can and cannot say on-air to the blogosphere, to family, friends, strangers - and enemies, only a mouse click away.

I worry about saying something that might be easily read and communicated to a family member, frozen in grief, frozen, waiting for the IDF to tell them that it was their turn to give a child to a needless death, to to a hospital or psychiatric ward, into terrifying captivity for the sake of “protecting the Israeli people and nation.”

Israel has one of the world's highest levels of broadband Internet connectivity per capita, and, in comparison to the worldwide assumption of “six degrees of separation” between any two people in this spinning, clattering, beeping global village, in Israel, it's only one, maybe two degrees on a slow day.

Israel have become used to the sense that the Israel Defense Forces, if not able to stop the lethal steel Kassam rain into Israel for the last several years, were at least capable of thwarting almost any infiltration into Israel from the heavily-guarded, state-of-the-art electronically monitored security fence.

Until today.

Until 20-year-old 1st-Lieutenant Hanan Barak of Arad, 20-year-old St.-Sgt. Pavel Slotzker of Dimona, the latest names and passport pictures flashed across our shared Israel reality; of 19-year-old Gilad Shalit of the Galilee community of Mitzpe Hila near Carmiel, one of three siblings, and now “shavui,” in the ancient Hebrew term, a wounded captive fallen into enemy hands.

A term redolent of Biblical antecedents, of fervent prayers of Jewish communities across the ages, across the world for members taken into captivity, in Babylon and other locations inscribed into antiquity, and hearts.

A particularly ghoulish aspect of the current incident is a Palestinian claim that the captors are holding body parts of the slain Israelis, to increase the pressure on the Israel government to accede to their demands, among them, the release of Palestinian security prisoners held in Israel jails.

IDF Special forces searching for Shalit also discovered the entrance of the nearly kilometer-long Gaza tunnel, which extended some 300 meters into Israel territory. IDF spotters said that that they'd had intel warnings for over a month of a tunnel in the vicinity, although massive army backhoes criss-crossing the football field-sized sandy field were unable to find it in time.

Israel Channel 2 News reports shortly after 20:00 this evening that the Israel security cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has decided upon a large-scale, graduated operation against Palestinian targets in southern Gaza. However, the extent and aims of the IDF operation were not revealed.

Local bloggers in Israel may know, but, so far at least, can keep this military secret – a secret. Such a people, such a country. Blogging, recording, uploading again and again for nearly 15 hours I feel I stumble through the words, as the night wears on.

Hoping overseas correspondents will somehow, this time, "get it" about how it's all so close to home: Gilo, Jerusalem Tel Aviv, Mitzpe Hila, Gaza, all in an area smaller than New Jersey. Bringing up painful memories of IDF soldier Nachson Waxman, abducted and slain by Palestinian captors near Ramallah in December, 1994.

I interviewed his mother not long after the IDF killed the man behind his abduction and death. So harrowing. So close to home. Please God, let it not be that way again.

(Cross-posted, in part, at Israel News Agency, and Little Green Footballs)

Palestinian chemical weapon threats against Israel? Been there, done that...

Not that it isn't a valid, chilling threat, but we've been in and continue living this movie:

Fatah Aksa Martyrs Brigades' threat on Sunday, that it has succeeded in manufacturing chemical and biological weapons are nothing new.

Despite the bellicose statement, emanating from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's own party, which asserted that the weapons were the result of a three-year effort, Palestinians have already used chemical weapons against Israel. Repeatedly.

On some five occasions in the last several years of suicide bombings against Israelis, I recall forensic investigations showing assayable amounts of the pesticide wafarin - that's rat poison - soaked on remains of the bomb casings and shrapnel removed from victims. The pesticide, thankfully, was mostly incinerated when the charge was detonated, limiting the gruesome, hoped-for effects.


"[Jerusalem Hadassah Hospital's Dr. Avi] Rivkind regularly encounters injuries virtually unseen before: horrific wounds to the head, chest, even rectum, caused by nails, screws and ball bearings flying at high velocity. One suicide bomber sprinkled rat poison among his nuts and bolts, which acts as an often-fatal anticoagulant. “This 14-year-old girl was bleeding uncontrollably from every one of her puncture wounds,” Rivkind says. The doctor managed to stop the bleeding by using a coagulant, still unapproved by the American Food and Drug Administration, which he has since used to treat several other bomb-blast victims."


"There have been many reports of Hamas operatives planning and preparing attacks incorporating chemicals. Hamas has long sought to increase the lethality of its attacks by lacing shrapnel attached to its suicide bombs with chemicals. Israel’s Health Ministry revealed that nails and bolts packed into explosives detonated by a Hamas suicide bomber in a December 2001 attack at the Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall in Jerusalem were soaked in rat poison. Furthermore, an interrogation of Hamas military leader Mohammed Abu Tir revealed that on the verge the new millennium, Hamas intended to commit a mass murder of Israelis. The plan, masterminded by Adel Awadallah, then head of Hamas’s military wing in the West Bank, involved the contamination Israeli water resources. In his interrogation, Abu Tir admitted that Awadallah told him that he and others had “reached a high level in producing chemical substances which could cause mass murder if put into the drinking water or swimming pools.”

And let's not forget a foiled plot to poison diners at a popular downtown Jerusalem eatery with a drug "Palestinian plotters hoped would produce heart attack symptoms in Cafe Rimon patrons some 15 hours after eating food laced with toxic quantities of the muscle relaxant Delaxin"

All this, as I'm drinking my morning coffee...

How did Ariel Zilber's wry, classic Israeli pop song go? "We survived Pharoh? We'll survive this, too..."


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