Tuesday, July 25, 2006

more war - update (no.3)

Hello to all who may still be interested:

25th of July, 2006. I think its Tuesday. (update no. 3….or 4?)

Early This morning I woke up to the strange sound of quiet. Not total quiet. I could hear the birds. But no guns near by, none in the far distance, no plane passing by nor the whirl of a chopper.

It was not that I died and went to heaven. Thank goodness. I have a few things to do yet. (places to go, things to see, etc…). I reached for the radio, pushed the button and sorrowfully learned that we were temporarily lodged in the eye of the storm.

The war was still on all around us. Hezbollah was still there. Our soldiers are still carefully surrounding the Hezbollah stronghold of Bint-Jabil, Heavy guns and the air force are continuously active, but most of the noise is heard further east of us and in the upper Galilee. Condi is talking with Tzipi. The Lebanese gov wants a cease fire, but voices from there are also asking for a further weakening of Hezbollah before they can be replaced by the Lebanese army. That seems also to be the jist of talks between Condi and Tzipi. The war continues. No one has yet found available conditions for a meaningful cease fire. Condi has gone on. Dying also goes on.

Yesterday started out reasonably quiet in our small, partially vacated community. Then came late afternoon with a violent barrage of rockets all around us. Fortunately, no one hurt, and no damage other than heavy brush fires which we couldn’t control until a pro fire brigade arrived. Trees and bushes went up in flames.

I know that the demise of vegetation is such a very minor worry while people are being killed and maimed on both sides of the border. I know that the migration of families from the war area in Lebanon, hundreds of thousands of people, is causing human suffering which needs to be answered and aided. And yet, at least for a moment, I need also to spare a wet tear or two for the color green. So many trees, bushes, beautiful open areas of wild plants we call weeds, have turned to grey ash after more than 2000 rockets. I know we can eventually bring it all back (something which can’t be done with lives of people). But will we?

O.K., I just heard them. The big guns are once again barking not far from us. We’re back to normal. A number of rockets just landed in our area. We took our breakfast into our “security” bedroom, opened the T.V. for the latest news, and waited. Well, the warfront is no longer starring 24 hours a day on almost every local T.V. station. We’re back to some of the regular morning talk-talk shows and how-to-cook repertoire. Back to the radio. As yet no mention of our guest rockets this morning. Almost a feeling of being forgotten? I know we haven’t been, but life in most of the country travels on as we learn to absorb the present, grit our teeth, carry on and expect tomorrow to be better. Life for many in Lebanon is a lot more difficult. I am sorry for those who are the unwilling hostages of a Government policy which allows a terrorist organization to dictate what occurs along their border with Israel. Today I don’t know how to help them. Maybe others can. Maybe we’ll also be able to at some tomorrow. There it is on the screen: “rockets fall in western Galilee (that’s us). House hit in Nahariya. Everyone safe.” I knew we weren’t forgotten, neither by the Hezbollah nor by our media.

One of my sons was called up for active reserve duty a few of days ago. He is already in his 40’s with wife and three children. He is part of a medical team stationed along a very “warm” part of the border. We talk with him every day. He tells us that things by him are fine and safe. Somehow, we still worry. Parents are a fretful breed of humans.

Actually, I’m worried about a lot more. Violence can’t eradicate violence. This war (mini-war according to some) has its limits regarding the results it’s able to offer us in defense against terrorists who are deployed within the civilian population and who are connected to a much larger network of regional and global terror funded and funneled from Iran and Syria, but basically belonging to a much wider global rude awakening of an Islamic religious fundamentalism. (That sentence is way too long, but that’s how loaded the situation really is.)

I think our government made the right move by deciding to evict the Hezbollah from their entrenchment along our border. It would also be good if we could get the Lebanese government (and army) to take responsibility for southern Lebanon as was negotiated upon our leaving the area 6 years ago. It would also be good if the Hezbollah were totally disarmed, as was ditto promised. It would be a blessing to receive back the kidnapped soldiers. It would be right to enter a safer phase of life along our northern border.

On the other hand a whole bunch of blurry questions are constantly knocking at the back door of our cranium: When its all over, will the katyushas still come from somewhere further north in Lebanon?? If the Hezbollah never actually “give up” (which they won’t), how will we know when it’s over?? Can we keep this whole mess localized between us, the Hezbollah and Lebanon?? Where is the “line of turmoil” that should not be crossed?? Will Lebanon come out of this ‘independent’ or will it once more revert to a dependency on Syria?? At what point will Syria decide it can no longer sit on the sideline of the action?? Will we know to recognize that point before getting to it?? Can we be so sure that Iran will stay quiet, rumbling only at the mouth?? At what point does a local action turn into a regional bonfire….and from there into something more??

Plenty of questions, no clear answers. Government and army thinktanks, along with a variety of intelligence agencies, must have deliberated these and other questions before our soldiers were killed and kidnapped two weeks ago. I hope their judgments were based on ample raw data. I hope their judgments are right. They haven’t always been so in the past.

For the moment I’m optimistic and hopeful. Mainly, I’m expecting for some hard negotiations to begin at some point. Here again, I’m expecting our people to grasp hold of that point when it arrives. Hold on tightly. Don’t lose the point.

Aaron Sharif
Kibbutz Gesher Haziv

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