Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said this week he will forge ahead with his plan to withdraw from Judea and Samaria. This comes although Israel is at war in Lebanon following repeated attacks after its withdrawal from the country’s border six years ago, and with Israel sending ground troops into Gaza following repeated attacks after its withdrawal from the territory eleven months ago.
“We will yet evacuate communities and it is important to me to complete this chapter as soon as possible so that we will be able to continue as a strong and united nation for the challenges that await us,” Olmert told a group of Israelis evacuated last summer from the Gaza Strip.
The prime minister, whose Kadima party was formed in part to carry out a withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, told the Gaza evacuees he is “convinced that we made the right decision to carry out the disengagement plan [from Gaza], and it is better for Israel that you are not living in the Gaza Strip at this time.”
Since Israel withdrew from Gaza last August, rockets have been fired almost daily into nearby Jewish communities, Hamas has been elected to power and both Israeli and Palestinian officials have stated that al-Qaeda has infiltrated the territory. Egypt recently announced that the terrorists who carried out April’s deadly triple-bomb blasts in the Sinai resort town of Dahab trained for the operation in the Gaza Strip with local Palestinians.
Last month Israel mounted a ground invasion of Gaza after Hamas carried out a raid against a military installation and abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. That military action is ongoing.
Since Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, Hizbullah has staged numerous attacks against the Jewish state, including rocket bombardments of civilian population centers, raids against military outposts, and ambushings and kidnappings of Israeli troops. In the past two weeks Hizbullah has fired over 2,000 Katyusha rockets at northern Israel, killing 15 and placing one third of the Israeli population under the threat of rocket attack.
Olmert also assured the Jewish Gaza evacuees that Israel still cares about them.
“I know that you are angry,” he said. “I know that you think that you need to be in Gush Katif. We think differently. The government will invest so that each evacuee feels that the state cares about him and so that your children love the country like your grandfathers did. It is important to me that you know that we are acting out of the same love for Israel that you have.”
The vast majority of Jewish residents of the Gaza Strip evacuated by Israel are unemployed, have yet to find permanent housing and have not received the full compensation promised to them by the Israeli government.
Iranian Presence in Lebanon
The bodies of several Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers killed by the Israeli army in Lebanon have been transported to Syria and flown to Tehran, according to senior Lebanese political sources.
The information was confirmed by Israeli and Egyptian security officials. It follows scores of reports that Iranian soldiers have been aiding Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon in their attacks against Isral, including helping to fire rockets into Israeli population centers.
Israeli security officials said they have “concrete information” that hundreds of Iranian soldiers are stationed at Hizbullah positions in Lebanon. They said Iranian guards directed the firing two weeks ago of a radar-guided C-802 missile that hit an Israeli navy vessel off the coast of Lebanon, killing four soldiers. Israel says Iran acquired the missile from China.
The officials said the Iranian soldiers’ duties in Lebanon include keeping custody of long-range missiles within Hizbullah’s arsenal, including Zalzal rockets, which are said to have a range of 125 miles, placing Tel Aviv within firing range.
Iran and Syria are the largest financial sponsors of Hizbullah. Israel says many Hizbullah rockets were made or upgraded by Iran. Earlier, Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mark Regev said Israel has information that Hizbullah was trying to transfer the two soldiers it kidnapped to Iran.
Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He is a co-host of ABC Radio’s nationally syndicated John Batchelor Show and can be heard regularly on other top American radio programs. Klein is editor of the Galil Report, an e-mail intelligence newsletter focused on news about Israel; subscribe at www.g2bulletin.com.