And so it begins.
Or, in truth, continues. I'm talking, of course, about our forces moving en masse into Gaza for the first time since we pulled every soldier and settler from the area and unoccupied it almost one year ago. I'm talking about a young soldier, our Gilad, who has been kidnapped and is being held hostage somewhere in southern Gaza. I'm talking about an Israeli high school student, Eliyahu Asheri, who has been kidnapped in the West Bank and whose captors are threatening to kill him. I'm talking about a Palestinian leadership that is fractured into so many factions and factions within the factions, with so many old and new fissures, cracks, and unsteady alliances they can't be counted. I am talking about the mess in which we all live.
I was up all night watching the news, checking the various online newspapers. My phone rang at 3 a.m. My mother, of course. She was worried. She was angry. My mother is a very big fan of Mahmoud Abbas. She considers him to be a man of peace and a man of principle, of intelligence and pragmatism --and she understands, of course, that these very qualities are why he has so little real power or influence. Moderateness is not valued in this part of the world. She pointed out that the attack on Israeli soldiers within sovereign Israeli terrority, resulting in the deaths of two soldiers and the kidnapping of Gilad are as much an attack on Abbas and on the internal Palestinian negotiations on the Prisoner's Document as they are on us. The timing gives it away. This was an operation that was in the planning for months. And it was carried out within hours of an agreement being reached between the two main Palestinian factions --the action taken, of course, in direct contradiction to the agreement. And Haniyeh has now been shown to have as little pull and influence within Hamas as Abbas has over anyone or anything. A strike against the "zionist enemy" to be sure, but also a strike to emasculate Abbas --and Haniyeh.
And so now we all, Israelis and Palestinians alike, sit and wait. The humane among us hope that this will end with the safe return of Gilad and Eliyahu to their homes and their families. They hope that no innocent Palestinian civilians will be harmed. In the words of Gilad's father , "The emphasis here is on an intelligent, rather than impassioned, operation," Shalit said. "We would like no additional injuries, not among IDF troops and certainly not among innocent civilians on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian. This is of the utmost importance to us."