Ehud Barak Gaza Strip Israel

“Stevey reads Ha’aretz? Oh no!”

Q: Sorry to wake you. We have an emergency

A: It’s OK. I’m here to serve the community.

Q: It’s about Stevey, my son.

A: So sorry. He’s sick?

Q: No, he’s started to read Ha’aretz on-line.

A: Oh, no!

A: He’s started to surf the Web and find out what’s really going on. And now he’s asking questions and you need to help me answer them. You’re the Consul-General and you’re supposed to tell us what to say. Stevey showed me a piece by Akiva Eldar. He wrote that just before Israel invaded this past Saturday

Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal announced on the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Web site that he was prepared not only for a “cessation of aggression” – he proposed going back to the arrangement at the Rafah crrossing as of 2005, before Hamas won the elections and later took over the region. That arrangement was for the crossing to be managed jointly by Egypt, the European Union, the Palestinian Authority presidency and Hamas.

It seems Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not hear such news, or did not want to hear. Once again he “looked the mothers in the eye” and pledged that he had sent their children to the battlefield only after the government had tried everything else to achieve quiet for the children of Sderot. In the best case, Olmert did not tell the whole truth.

Is that true?

A: Eldar is very biased.

Q: And now Stevey is reading and hearing that Israel bombed and invaded and killed all those civilians WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT ITS END GAME WAS. This morning Steven Erlanger wrote in the Times that Olmert, Livni and Barak may not agree on the political solution. He quotes an Israeli general saying there is “confusion” about the message you’re trying to send.

“`Confusion'”?!! Stevey yelled. “How could they destroy all those innocent lives if they don’t even agree why they are doing it? They don’t even have an end-game, do they? They didn’t invade and fight in the alleyways just to stop the rockets, that’s clear, but then what was the point? What is the plan? Why did all those kids have to die at the UN school?” So, you tell me. What do I tell Stevey? And what do I tell everyone at the Federation. They’re asking me, too. What’s the end-game?

A: Like I said, I’m the last to know these things. It looks like it is either a ceasefire with international guarantees or destroying Hamas.

Q: Stevey says that if Israel topples Hamas, then Abu Mazen and Fatah couldn’t take control of Gaza and have any credibility. They wouldn’t be able to just march in on the back of the Israeli army. They are already thought of as collaborators and this would just destroy them. So either you let Hamas govern, and let them declare victory, or you re-occupy Gaza.

A: There are other alternatives.

Q: What are they?

A: How should I know? (Sighs) Anyway, you’ve got a smart kid. You should be proud of him.

Q: I told him your army was taking all kinds of steps to avoid civilian casualties. That’s what you keep telling us. Then he pulled out something by Amira Hass, from Ha’aretz.

A: Oh no…!

Q She wrote:

Whoever gave the instructions to send 100 of our planes, piloted by the best of our boys, to bomb and strafe enemy targets in Gaza is familiar with the many schools adjacent to those targets — especially police stations. He also knew that at exactly 11:30 A.M. on Saturday, during the surprise assault on the enemy, all the children of the Strip would be in the streets – half just having finished the morning shift at school, the others en route to the afternoon shift….

This is the time to speak about the detailed maps in the hands of IDF commanders, and about the Shin Bet advisers who know the exact distance between the mosque and nearby homes. This is the time to discuss the drone planes and the hot air balloons fitted with advanced cameras floating over the Strip day and night, filming everything….

A: She is biased. Always has been. Always takes their side and never provides the context.

Q: But was she wrong? I can tell Stevey she was wrong? Was Eldar wrong?

A: Please. These are difficult times. War is hell. Your general said that.

Q: Stevey has already said, “I know war is hell. I know civilians always get killed in wars. But if you are going to bomb and shell and do house-to house- fighting in places where you know there are innocent people, there’d better be a damn good reason.” Help me, please. Do you have a damn good reason?

A: There were rockets falling every day on Israel and still are. A “Grad” rocket just landed a short drive south of Tel Aviv. We had to do something. Tell me what we should have done.

Q: I read that Meshal offered a ceasefire. And international supervision of the crossing routes. If that wasn’t true, or you didn’t think that would work, why couldn’t there have been a more limited attack if you wanted to send a “message?”

A: It wouldn’t have stopped the rockets. You and Stevey shouldn’t be armchair generals. Israel is taking the steps it needs to take.

Q: To accomplish what, exactly? What do I tell my son? I want him to respect me. I have to tell him why all those kids died…

A: We really appreciate your help. I need to get ready for work now.

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