The view from Carmel
As the Hebrew year 5763 enters it's third month, the Gregorian year 2002
enters it's last. Which ever calendar you use, one thing is for sure - as
renowned Jewish musician Bob Dylan once sang, " The times they are a
changing ". Unfortunately not for the better, it seems
and this final report of the year does not make for happy reading.
Living in Israel, one quickly grows accustomed to rapid and often drastic
change, often overnight.
5 Murdered in Kibbutz terror attack
On the morning of November 11th, the country awoke to reports
of one of the most callous attacks of the current Intifada. Shortly before
midnight, an Arab terrorist infiltrated the security fence of Kibbutz
Metzer. He first shot at two people walking on a path, mortally wounding
the first, but not injuring her companion, who managed to escape and hide out in
a barn for several hours. The head of the kibbutz secretariat, came to assist
when he heard the gunfire, and apparently fired several shots at the terrorist,
but to no avail. The Arab shot at him as well and killed him, then entered a
house and pumped bullets into two 4 and 5 year-old brothers and their mother as
she was cowering with them in their bedroom.
This pioneering community has been a model of Jewish / Arab
co-operation as it has existed along side its Arab neighbors since the early
1950's. Kibbutz Metzer is situated in central Israel between Samaria and
Hadera. The residents of the kibbutz were left in shock and mourning after
the slaughter of the two children and three adults.
12 worshipers ambushed and murdered in Hebron
As a group of Jewish worshippers and their armed guards made
their way home after praying at the tomb of the Patriachs, they were fired upon
by a terrorist who had been laying in wait for them. In the ensuing
exchange of gun fire three of the worshippers were killed as well as nine of
their guards. This attack was particularly abhorrent due to the fact
that the perpetrators purposely targeted people returning from praying at one of
Judaisms most spiritually relevant sites, the tomb of Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob. The government's immediate reaction was to reinstate the curfew
that had been lifted in a gesture of good will towards the Arabs of Hebron.
Jerusalem bus bombing
After a four month respite, with no bus or restaurant
bombings in Jerusalem, tragedy and horror once again struck the
city. During the morning rush hour of November 21st, a terrorist
exploded himself on the 7:15 am # 20 bus. The bus had been following its
route around the Kiryat Menachem neighborhood, picking up its regular
passengers, comprising mainly workers and school children. In all 12
passengers died in the attack. Amongst the dead were a mother and her
16-year-old son, a 67 year old woman and her 8-year-old grandson, and a 13 year
old girl. Half of the 49 people wounded were younger than 18. There
were schoolbooks lying in the road beside the remains of the bus, as well as
sandwiches the children were taking to school.
One of the young passengers Maor Kimche, aged 15 told
reporters, "I was sitting at the back of the bus," Suddenly
there was a very powerful explosion. Everything went black, lots of
smoke." "People were burning," he said. "Their
faces were red, yellow, white. I don't know how to explain it."
Since Iraqi President Saddam Hussein capitulated to World
pressure and agreed to allow the return of UN weapons inspectors, the immediate
threat of an Iraqi chemical or biological missiles attack on Israel has
abated. However I am sure the Israeli government and military leadership
are still monitoring the situation. Gas masks are still being checked and
replaced if necessary, and Patriot 'anti-missile' missile launchers are in place
in several key localities, including close by our home on Mt.
The political arena
Apart from the daily reports of Intifada related incidents,
local Israeli news reports are focused on the run up to the early elections that
PM Ariel Sharon was forced to call in early November after the Labour party
members resigned from the coalition government. In the wake of the
departure of Shimon Peres, former PM Benjamin Netanyahu returned to the
government as Foreign Minister and recently retired army Chief of Staff, Shaul
Mofaz commenced his political career as Minister of Defence. In the lead
up to the Likud primaries, the contest for party leadership and the position of
Prime Minister in the very likely event of a Likud victory in the January 28th
general election, is a race between current PM Sharon and Netanyahu.
The Labour party elected super-doveish Haifa mayor Amnon Mitzna as its head and
candidate for prime minister.
World opinion continues to rally against Israel's very
controlled attempts to defend her citizens from the incessant infiltration of
terrorists intent of killing as many Israelis as possible. The USA, UK and
Russian leadership continues to attempt to achieve an Israeli / Palestinian
peace treaty that demands that Israel cede large tracts of land that rightfully
belong to the Jewish people, not the Arabs. UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan denounced Israel as an expropriator of Arab land and said it must give up
"nearly all of the territory" for peace with the Arabs.
And the secular media continues to mislead the public with their constant
barrage of anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian reporting.
Extreme water shortage
Finally, adding to all of Israel's other current woes, is the
extremely depleted water reserve. Rainfall is predicted to be lower than
average this winter. The prediction refers to the months
December-February, which normally sees the heaviest rainfall.
Yet another dry winter will be absolutely disastrous to the water
reserves. Tension has been high on the northern border following Lebanon's
decision to divert water from the Wazzani River, a tributary of the Hatzbani,
which flows into the Upper Jordan and Sea of Galilee. If the
forecasts are correct, Israel's reservoirs will be empty by the end of 2003.
As 2002 comes to a close, lets pray that 2003 will bring a
much needed break in the death and destruction and some desperately needed rain
in the parched and hurting Holy Land. Wishing you all a blessed Christmas
and a prosperous year ahead.