‘Operation Summer Rains’ and Shalit Part of ‘Long War’
In a Reuters headline titled Israel warns of ‘long war’ over captured soldier, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s quote on the situation is misrepresented by the headline and is sure to be picked up by other news outlets that rely on Reuters’ wire services for news reportage.
Prime Minister Olmert said, “This is a long war. It requires lots of patience, sometimes endless restraint. We have to know when to clench our teeth and to deal a decisive blow.”
While he was speaking of potential coming events in Operation Summer Rains in Gaza and, potentially, the West Bank as well, his reference to a ‘long war’ was an attempt to put the current situation into greater context. The current crisis, while crucial at the moment, will in time be viewed as simply another chapter in the conflict…the ‘long war.’ The significance of this chapter is yet to be determined.
The Rueters headline displays a bit of sensationalism or misunderstanding or both by stating that the crisis over captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit could develop into a ‘long war.’ That simply is incorrect and unfortunate. The ‘long war’ has existed since 1948 and is acknowledged in Hamas’ founding charter calling for the destruction of Israel. This ‘long war’ is accentuated today by Hamas’ refusal to explicitly recognize Israel’s right to exist, putting it at odds with many of its own fellow Palestinians and fueling the violent internal feud with Abbas’ Fatah.
Meanwhile, the Operation Summer Rains chapter in the ‘long war’ continues to lengthen as Israeli activity in northern Gaza increases. Exchanges of gunfire were reported and the IDF killed one and injured two Palestinians as they were attempting to plant explosives near the northern border.
Abu al-Muthana of the Islamic Army, one of the three groups responsible for abducting and holding Shalit, said that no information about him will be released. Said al-Muthana, “Whether he will be killed or not killed, we will not disclose any information. Discussion is closed.” However, he added, “We do not kill captives. Our Islam requires that we treat captives well and fairly.” This was not the observance of those who had kidnapped and executed 18 year old Israeli civilian Eliahu Asheri just days ago. His abductors were one and the same with Abu al-Muthana, the Islamic Army’s partner in the Shalit abduction endeavor, the Popular Resistance Committee. Al-Muthana’s claims that “our Islam requires that we treat captives well and fairly” should therefore be dismissed as taqiyyah.
This is not to say that the trio of the Islamic Army, the Popular Resistance Committees and their guiding Hamas will execute Shalit. The repercussions would surely be an iron Israeli fist that they are ill-prepared to endure or defeat, public bellicosity not withstanding. As it stands, Olmert is making it clear that not only the terrorists, but also their sponsors (presumably including Syria and Iran) would be held accountable for any harm done to Shalit. Olmert said he had given the IDF orders “to strike terrorists and those who sent them and those who sponsor them. None of them will be immune.” The current restraint would likely be shelved were Shalit to be executed. Hamas and their handlers know this clearly.
Israel remains publicly steadfast in refusing to negotiate with Hamas (et al) for a prisoner swap. The Israeli demeanor is perhaps best summed up by Vice Premier Shimon Peres, who said, “I suggest that the Palestinians negotiate with themselves. Should we reward them for kidnapping? for killing two soldiers? for firing Katyushas on Sderot? It’s up to the Palestinians that they get their own state. The terrorist[s] sabotage the Palestinian people’s future with the help of the great (Syrian President Bashar) Assad who’s first rate at doing nonsense.”