When Gilad Shalit was abducted three weeks ago by members of the Hamas and other groups, it was soon clear that the guidance for the hostage-taking was coming from Damascus. Khaled Meshal, the exiled senior Hamas leader, had observed the developments taking place in the Palestinian Authority, and could not have been happy that Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah (Hamas) was about to reach a compromise with PA President Mahmoud Abbas (Fatah) on accepting the “Prisoner’s Document.” Haniyah, and other senior Hamas figures in Gaza and the West Bank, were beginning to hint at the possibility of a long-term truce with Israel. Meshal had to do something to re-impose his authority on the Hamas leadership in the PA, and the result was the raid killing two Israeli soldiers and abducting one other from inside Israeli territory.
Once this happened, even Palestinian and Israeli children knew what to expect: Israel’s armed forces would unleash their wrath, and the Palestinian population would suffer. Innocent children and grandmothers would be killed, families would be traumatized, livelihoods destroyed, and a new crop of recruits to the rows of “suicide martyrs” would be born. The anger of the population, born of the harsh Israeli measures after the abduction would force the Hamas leadership in Gaza to once again coalesce under the leadership in Damascus, men who are sworn to keep on fighting to destroy Israel and establish a fundamentalist Islamist state in all of Palestine.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak intervened to try to assure the release of Shalit, and senior Israeli ministers began alluding to the possibility of the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the young soldier. A few voices of common folk in Gaza were heard criticizing the abduction, because of the pain and destruction raining down upon the population. There were even expressions of empathy for the pain caused to the family of Gilad. Could it be that Meshal might end up loosing this round?
And then, Hezbollah sent its men over the border from Lebanon, and set up an ambush that resulted in the death of several Israeli soldiers on patrol along the Israeli side of the border, and the abduction of 2 reservists: Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Israeli forces immediately lashed out, destroying the Hezbollah outposts along the border (most were formerly Israeli positions abandoned by Israel when it withdrew from Southern Lebanon in 2000). Hezbollah let loose barrages of rockets aimed at civilian targets in Northern Israel, and the Israeli Air Force damaged the runway at Beirut airport, cutting off the Hezbollah from being re-supplied with rockets from Iran. The cycle of violence continues to escalate, and more civilians are suffering and damage is being done to the economy on both sides of the border.
With Hezbollah’s intervention, the picture becomes clearer, despite the fog of war. It is impossible to believe that they did not have the blessing of their patron, the Islamist regime in Iran. One does not have to be a conspiracy theorist to see that Ahmedinajad and other pan-Islamists such as Hezbollah’s Nasrallah and Hamas’ Meshal cannot allow any move towards resolving the Palestinian – Israeli conflict peacefully, which is what the “Prisoner’s Document” envisioned. So now, along with thousands of Palestinians and other Arab prisoners, three Israelis are held hostage. As are the populations of Israel, the PA, Lebanon, and ….