Monday, June 02, 2008

Return of soldiers' remains greets release of Hizbullah spy

Israel released a suspected Hizbullah spy yesterday and, in return, received the remains of Israeli soldiers, sparking speculation that even more exchanges are on the way; with the most obvious candidate being the young Israeli soldier whose kidnap in Gaza was quickly followed by the kidnap of two other Israeli soldiers on the Lebanese border, ostensibly, starting the Israel-Lebanon war. That young soldier was named Gilad Shalit.

Ehud Olmert invaded Lebanon and the Gaza strip in an effort to find Gilad and the two other Israeli soldiers whilst refusing to engage in the kind of prisoner swap which Israel routinely indulges in.

I said at the the time that I thought Israel's behaviour was disgraceful, especially as we all knew one day she would do the very thing she was refusing to do at the time of the war.

The country that Hariri rebuilt, against all the odds, after years of civil war and after a twenty year Israeli occupation, is being systematically torn to pieces. It's bridges, it's power plants, it's roads, it's buildings, it's airport, are all being levelled. Even the viaduct has been broken.

Beirut, the "Paris of the East", is being reduced to rubble.

And for what? For what?

When all this rampant, disgraceful destruction is over, the Israelis will still have to carry out their prisoner swap if they want their soldiers returned.
And now, having brought about billions of dollars worth of damage in Lebanon, and killing God knows how many people, Ehud Olmert is arranging the same prisoner swap which was on offer two years ago.

Had he embarked on this course then, the Israel-Lebanon war - which he lost - would never have had to be fought. It's the final proof, were any more needed, of how unfit he is to hold his office.

Israel freed a convicted Hizbullah spy yesterday and received what was believed to be the remains of Israeli soldiers in return, sparking speculation of a bigger prisoner exchange between the enemies.

Nassim Nisr, the son of a Jewish mother and Lebanese Muslim father who migrated to Israel as an adult and became a citizen, was deported by Israeli security officials after serving a six-year sentence for passing information to the Iranian-backed militia.

Israeli security officials delivered Nisr to the Red Cross and the UN, who ushered him across the border to a hero's welcome in the Lebanese border town of Naqoura, where a Hizbullah official told the crowd it had released the remains of Israeli soldiers.

Of course, Israel is denying that what we are witnessing is a swap of any kind.

Israel said it was surprised by the gesture and denied it was formal trade. "At the moment we are saying nothing," a spokesman for Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said.

Israel are demanding the release of the two soldiers whose kidnap - shortly after the kidnap of Gilad Shalit - was instrumental to the invasion of Lebanon.

Israel has also been demanding the return of two soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, whose capture by Hizbullah in July 2006 culminated in the outbreak of war, but the militia has refused to reveal whether they are still alive.

I am slightly appalled that Gilad Shalit is not even mentioned in this article, but I've written before about how this young man has been erased from the storyline of this particular period of Israeli history.

Thousands of people died and millions of pounds worth of damage was done to Lebanon's infrastructure to ensure the return of Eldad Regev, Ehud Goldwasser and Gilad Shalit.

And now, finally, after all that unnecessary mayhem, Olmert, at last appears to be doing the deal. Israel may be denying that a deal is being done but the Europeans are making noises which confirm that negotiations are taking place.
While Israel played down suggestions of a larger deal, the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has been mediating between the parties, said: "I am happy that preliminary steps were taken in that direction and hope that this creates a positive dynamic, building mutual trust."
However, even whilst this swap is being arranged, young Gilad Shalit has been, once again, removed from the narrative.

The war, which was ostensibly to guarantee his rescue, eventually became about destroying Hizbullah, and it's original objectives were forgotten. As I said at the time:
It should be obvious to even the most casual observer that, if the goal of this operation is to ensure the rescue of kidnapped soldiers, then it is time for a rethink. The mission is not going to plan.

But the mission has changed, the original reasoning has been discarded, the aims of the war are now the complete destruction of Hizbullah.

And, with that change of mission, young Gilad Shalit lies, like a thrown away photograph, floating down a gutter.

But I remember Gilad.
The mother of Ehud Goldwasser has recently condemned Olmert for refusing to "pay the price" to secure her son's release and the father of Gilad Shalit has been reduced to asking people to send his son 21st birthday cards via the United Nations.

Now, at long last, Israel appears to be willing to do a deal to secure the rescue of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. It's a deal they should have done two years ago before so many needlessly died.

And, once again, young Gilad Shalit has dropped out of the narrative.

But I remember Gilad. And so should you. And we should all never forget how many died because Olmert refused to do then what he is doing now.

Click title for full article.


We must also not forget the influence of the neo-cons in this war.

Nor will anyone who witnessed it ever forget this classic exchange.


Ingrid said...

Kel, just linked to this.


Kel said...

Thanks Ingrid, much appreciated.