All Quiet on the Northern Front

Olmert's reaction was passionate. He pounded on the podium and exhorted people to examine "Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon as a model which Israel would apply to Gaza and Samaria."

David Bedein,

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credit David Michael Cohen
On February 18th, 2005, during a public presentation for the annual Jerusalem meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faced a challenge from a questioner. The questioner asked Olmert how he could trust the intentions of Abu Mazen, since Abu Mazen has been allowing terrorists under his jurisdiction to arm themselves to the teeth.

Olmert's reaction was passionate. He pounded on the podium and exhorted people to examine "Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon as a model which Israel would apply to Gaza and Samaria." Olmert explained that Hizbullah terrorists now stationed in former Israeli army positions throughout Southern Lebanon had accumulated 15,000 missiles and mortars in Lebanon. Continuing to pound on the podium, Olmert that "they have never, never, never used missiles against Israel on the northern border since Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in May, 2000."

I found Olmert's comments to be incredible. My son Noam served on the northern border in an IDF combat unit for almost three years and was under fire the entire time This was not at some kind of summer camp.

Our news agency dispatched a reporter to a press reception on February 23rd, at Jerusalem's Beit Agron International Press Center in Jerusalem, to ask Olmert if he stood behind his statement that the Hizbullah had not fired any missiles into Israel since Israel's withdrawal in May, 2000. The reporter showed Olmert a declassified IDF situation report from June 8th, 2004, the day that Noam completed his IDF service.

The IDF document shown to Olmert spoke for itself:

"In the four years since the IDF unilaterally redeployed its troops from Lebanon, the following attacks on Israel took place from the north: 34 attacks with mortar shells and anti-tank missiles into northern Israel; 7 shooting attacks with light arms fire into northern Israel; 8 roadside bombs that were planted in northern Israel; 127 times when anti-aircraft missiles** were fired into northern Israel; 5 Katyusha rocket attacks into northern Israel; 10 infiltrations into northern Israel; 11 soldiers killed in northern Israel, while three IDF troops were kidnapped and murdered; 50 soldiers were wounded in northern Israel; 14 civilians were killed in northern Israel."

Olmert glanced at the IDF report, stood his ground, and reiterated his stand that "I meant to say that they have not fired into Israel in the last five years." When the reporter showed Olmert that the IDF report demonstrated that the Arab terrorists had continued firing missiles into Israel, killing 28 people, Olmert walked away, saying that he did not want to discuss it..

It is now abundantly clear that Ehud Olmert, the number two man in the Israeli cabinet and Prime Minister Sharon's point man in selling his political program to the Israeli public, will now be using the "example" of a unilateral withdrawal that "worked". Well, it worked in one essential way: less news reports come from the north because hardly any reporters are stationed there, so the mainstream media is bereft of news reports from the northern border. Hence, all "seems" quiet on the northern frontier, at least in the media

Indeed, during my son's tenure in the north, I, as a father and a journalist, received the reports about daily bombardments on the northern border from Noam - reports that were never reported anywhere in the Israeli media. But they often made it into my weekly news column in the Israeli weekly newspaper Makor Rishon.

The bottom line: Hardly anyone in Israel or abroad is aware of the arms buildup in southern Lebanon, and they are even more unaware of the attacks from the north, and how Israel's hasty withdrawal from southern Lebanon has left Israel vulnerable to attacks from the north.

What is clear from Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's public statements is that the Israeli government, seeking new ways to promote the Sharon Plan, which will allow the PLO free reign in Gaza and northern Samaria - placing all of Israel in rocket range of Arab terrorists - will now try to sell the notion that 'all's quiet on the northern front.'