Written by The Lekarev Report
July 4, 2008
The Lekarev Report
Iran is likely to launch ballistic missiles against Israel and the United States and the NATO alliance should prepare for it, was the warning issued earlier this week by Admiral James Winnefeld, commander of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.
In recent years, the missile boats of the Sixth Fleet practiced intercepting Shahab-3 missiles from Iran aimed at Israel, along with the Arrow batteries of the air force and U.S. and Israeli batteries of Patriot missiles.
In an article entitled "Maritime Strategy in an Age of Blood and Belief" in the U.S. Naval Institute's monthly Proceedings, Admiral Winnefeld describes the possibility of an offensive barrage of ballistic missiles fired from Iran against Israel as being "by far the most likely employment of ballistic missiles in the world today, and it demands our immediate attention in the event of a need for a U.S. or NATO response."
He says Iran is an "unpredictable adversary," which could be provoked into action "by an isolated, and perhaps seemingly unimportant, event."
Winnefeld's commander, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, Admiral Michael Mullen, mentioned earlier this week during his visit in Israel the presence of missile defense vessels of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean and their role in intercepting Iranian missiles.
At a briefing to reporters in the Pentagon Wednesday, Mullen discussed his good relations with Ashkenazi and his impressions of the visits with the IDF on the northern border and near the Gaza Strip. "Israel remains a vital and trusted military ally in the Middle East," he said, which faces "very real security threats" and "the tyranny of what I call 'close-quarters geography,'" Mullen said.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs added that "Iran is still working to develop nuclear weapons" and that the Israeli timetable in relation to Iran's nuclear program is shorter than the U.S's.
Peres: No Chance of Peace with Palestinians
President Shimon Peres believes there is no chance of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Peres, the one-time proponent of a "new Middle East" made this statement last Saturday at a dinner with the Jordanian and French ambassadors in Defense Minister Ehud Barak's Tel Aviv apartment.
At the end of the meal an argument erupted between the Jordanian envoy, Ali Ayed, and a well-known "dovish" attorney, who said Israel had no chance of reaching an agreement with the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas' leadership. Barak supported his guest's hawkish stance.
At a certain point, Peres intervened, surprising the participants by joining the attorney's prediction. "It would be very hard to reach an agreement," Peres said, due to the Hamas-Fatah split.
He said Abbas had no support among his people, no power to carry out security agreements and that any agreement Israel and the PA made crumbled a day later due to the PA's weakness. Therefore there is no chance of agreement, he summed. .
Sderot's Newest Playground Includes Bomb Shelter
The children of the battered city of Sderot will soon be able play outside with a greater sense of security as a tunnel into a secure and 'playful' bomb shelter is being constructed within the context of a new playground. The construction of the playground is in its final stages and the tunnel will provide a quick escape from Kassam rocket barrages.
According to construction manager Boaz Etzion, "The idea of the park is that when there is a Color Red [incoming rocket] alarm, the children can run quickly to safety in the tunnels."
The playground has been funded by private donations and is scheduled to open next month. The escape tunnel, at a cost of 150,000 shekels ($46,000) is being built in the shape of a centipede to make it appear to be part of the playground and not look like a bomb shelter.
According to the most recent Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) report, there are 3,578 students in the western Negev city. More than 70% of the city's children show signs of suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of the constant rocket fire.
Shalit Deal Apparent Impasse
First of all, thank you to the dozens and dozens of you who participated in the worldwide prayer for Gilad Shalit's release two days ago. My inbox was flooded with commitments to pray at your location at the appointed time and I have no doubt whatsoever that Hashem heard every prayer.
According to the Hamas terrorist group, Israel is the one holding everything up by not opening the border crossings. Israel had opened some crossings but closed them in response to the continued rockets being fired into Israel in violation of the cease-fire agreement. Of course, Hamas failed to mention those!
Hamas is insisting that every one of the 300 prisoners on its list be released in exchange for Shalit's freedom. They are being absolutely adamant about that and will not budge.
A senior Hamas figure said Thursday that the Islamist group refuses to pass on any additional signs of life, including tapes and letters, from Shalit as long as Israel remains adamant in its prerequisites for a prisoner exchange deal.
Osama al-Muzaini accused Israel of obstructing a possible prisoner swap under Egyptian mediation, saying "we've forced the enemy to accept our demands, but if the Israelis insist on not accepting them, we can hold on to Shalit for 20 years and never grow weary".
MY RESPONSE to all this: we who have prayed and continue to pray must expect something different than what Hamas declares and expects. As men and women of faith, it is up to us to expect to see the intervention of Hashem, in response to fervent prayer. Prayer to the one true G-d, the Holy One of Israel, the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is more powerful than Hamas or any other enemy of Israel.
That's exactly why I titled this piece "Shalit Deal Apparent Impasse".
The Israeli Connection
Israelis are justifiably proud today to have learned last night that a sizeable group of agents from the Mossad and the Shin Bet were involved in the dramatic and successful release of hostages in Colombia who had been imprisoned for five years.
Israeli TV Channels 2 and 10 broke the news last night, saying that for the first time it could be reported that the Israelis were "intimately involved in great depth" in the successful liberation of the captives, along with their American counterparts.
Ingrid Betancourt, the Colombia politician who was restored to her family (pictured above embracing her daughter) said in her statement to reporters after her release: "I am not aware of a precedent to such a perfect mission. Maybe only the Israelis with their wonderful commandos may be reminiscent of the mission that took place here."
Betancourt's reference to Israel's military history is not by chance. Last year, a group of Israeli military advisors, receiving approval from the Israeli Defense Ministry, resided in Colombia in order to assist the army there and especially the special units.
The Israeli mission was focused mainly on intelligence issues, special operations and integration and coordination between different security elements. This was in order to prepare them for a coordinated and productive campaign within a short period of time. The group was headed by Major-General (Res.) Israel Ziv, who served as the head of operations in the elite Sayeret Matkal unit up until four years ago.
Ziv and at least some of his men have already returned to Israel but the assistance the Israeli team provided to the Colombian security forces assisted them in attaining the list of successes they have been achieving lately against the FARC rebel organization, most notably the "perfect" rescue of the hostages.
The TV announcer said last night, "The names of the agents involved will never be made public but they are in fact our anonymous heroes."
USA Immigrant: "G-d Saved Us from the Bulldozer"
The Jerusalem Post carried this account today of an immigrant to Israel from Baltimore who came perilously close to being victims of the bulldozer terrorist on Wednesday in Jerusalem.
The father of three who immigrated with his family from Baltimore, Maryland, four years ago, said G-d saved them from Jerusalem's bulldozer-driving terrorist.
"The guy was driving about 30 miles an hour, probably the maximum speed that bulldozer could go," Eissenstat continued. "I tried to back up to get out of the way but cars behind me blocked me."
"The right wheel of the bulldozer crushed a taxi cab and the left wheel crushed our Mazda. He saw that he did not kill [us]. I looked at him and he looked at me. And all that I could think was, 'How do I get my family out of this.'
"Then he put the bulldozer in reverse. He wanted to finish off the job. He ran over us again. But nothing happened to us. Then he lowered the shovel on us and began crushing the roof of the car. My daughter Nechama put her arm over her head to protect herself.
"For reasons unknown to us Hashem did not let him kill us. I think he [the terrorist] realized that and decided to move on to someone else."
Rabbi Menachem Kutner, head of the Chabad project in Sderot, said he was certain the Eissenstats' salvation was in part a result of their charity to terror victims.
"Eissenstat and his family were unique donors," Kutner said. "They did not just write a check and send it, they themselves came and visited the terrorist victims. They involved themselves, using their feet to walk from victim to victim and their hands to comfort the injured.
"Because they used their bodies to perform the mitzva of visiting the sick, Hashem protected their bodies from the terrorist."
Despite her narrow escape, Nechama, who turns 14 next week, said she wasn't sorry about her family's decision to immigrate to Israel.
"I am happy to be here in the Land of Israel," she said.
A marvelous testimonial to the biblical principle that our giving of ourselves to others comes back to us in our hour of need. Baruch Hashem for the preservation of the Eissenstats' family.
It never ceases to amaze me how the Torah reading on Shabbat always has something in it that relates to what Israel is facing that very week. This Torah reading, Chukat, is no exception.
Some of the greatest blessings we experience in life are the ones we don't know about. Now, before you shake your head and wonder what in the world I'm saying, stop and think. Do you have any idea how many times during life Hashem saved you from disasters, car accidents, illnesses? No, you don't - and neither do I. These are the hidden blessings for which we will only be able to give adequate thanks in the world to come.
This week's Torah portion brings out attention to this oft-forgotten principle. Click below for what I hope will be very inspiring and uplifting to you after a difficult week.
And to my fellow Americans, a blessed Independence Day to you, this Fourth of July, 2008.
May the ideals of the founding fathers be restored to the nation, most particularly that of faith in Almighty G-d who has blessed the United States of America in amazing ways over its 200+ years of existence.
Shabbat Shalom and blessings to all of you,
This Week's Torah