UPDATE 11:20 PM WEDNESDAY. ASHDOD UNDER ATTACK. PALESTINIAN TERRORIST GRAD ROCKET HAS JUST STRUCK JUST EAST OF OUR LOCATION AT 11:16 PM. LOUD EXPLOSION. WE ARE ALL IN OUR BOMB SHELTER.
For the 4th consecutive day, the first bus of the morning from Hevron to Gush Etzion has been attacked by rock throwing Palestinians.
Just one week after it agreed to the Gilad Shalit deal (which your humble servant thought was the right action to take), Israel finds itself unsurprisingly beset in different directions this morning by attempted extortion.
Announcing that she is disappointed with PM Netanyahu because of continued building in Jewish communities of Jerusalem, Angela Merkel has announced that she may cancel the sale and delivery of the sixth submarine to the Israeli Navy. She indicates that her disappointment will be assuaged if Netanyahu will only agree to a new building freeze–in which case there will be no problem with the submarine.
What is to stop Merkel tomorrow from demanding Israel release Palestinian prisoners in return for the submarine? Her actions are nothing less than extortion, pure and simple.
Let’s continue with PLO head Mahmoud Abbas who announced yesterday that he will not return to the negotiating table unless convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti (who is serving five life sentences for the murder of 24 Israelis) is released from prison. He intends to communicate this new precondition to the Quartet representatives visiting Israel this morning. Abbas’ demand is nothing less than extortion, pure and simple.
Yet your humble servant cannot merely find fault with those seeking to extort Israel because Israel continues to submit to such extortion demands–as recently again as last night regarding the bizarre and unseemly episode of Israeli-American Ilan Grapel.
Grapel, as you may not know, is originally from Queens New York (where his family still lives). Upon graduating from Johns Hopkins University where he studied Arabic, he moved to Israel, became a citizen, and enlisted in the Paratrooper Brigade. He fought and was wounded in the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
Subsequently he returned to the United States, enrolled in law school at Atlanta’s Emory University where he was studying when he decided in May to take a vacation to Egypt to experience the Arab Spring and, according to his mother, “to help in the resettlement of people from Arab countries who were displaced” (whatever that means).
While on his Egyptian idyll, during which he took pictures of himself all around Cairo which he plastered on Facebook, the 27 year old Grapel was arrested on June 12 by Egyptian authorities and accused of spying for Israel. Grapel was never tried on these charges, and now the charges have been reduced to “attempting to incite violence among the anti-Mubarak protesters in Tahrir Square” (whatever that means).
On Thursday night, Grapel will be returned to Israel through the Taba border crossing beside Eilat in exchange for 25 Egyptian ‘criminal’ prisoners held in Israeli ‘jails’. Ten of the 25 prisoners are being held on drug-related offenses; another ten were convicted of smuggling weapons and explosives into Israel supposedly to be used by the Israel mafia; and the other five are being held on other “criminal” (as opposed to “terrorist”) offenses.
Interestingly, it was the United States government that pushed Israel to make this prisoner swap (offering by the way no release of Egyptian prisoners in American jails)–but apparently Israel was only too happy to do so in the interest of cultivating favor with the new Egyptian powers that be.
The Merkel and Abbas cases are bad enough, but Grapel case is particularly disturbing because it shows how far down the slippery slope Israel has already fallen–to an extraordinarily dangerous point at which any Israeli citizen anywhere in the world can be captured, kidnapped, detained, or arrested and held for ransom until Israel makes a ‘concession’ to the Palestinians or releases Palestinian prisoners.