UPDATES 6 pm Israel time Saturday:
*Another swarm of locusts (grasshoppers) has flown into Israel from Egypt this afternoon landing in the Ramat Negev Regional Council area. Israel will begin a massive spraying of the area tomorrow.
*One hour and 45 minutes from now, PM Benjamin Netanyahu will arrive at the President’s residence in Jerusalem (actually it’s a short walk from the PM’s residence) and inform Shimon Peres that he has formed a government. The new government will be sworn in on Monday in the Knesset.
*Egyptian security authorities have expelled seven Palestinians back to Gaza. This action follows on the heels of the decision last week concerning Hamas responsibility for the deaths of the Egyptian police at the Rafah Crossing last year.
*15 Palestinians were killed and 30 more injured this afternoon in the crash of their bus near the Allenby Bridge in Jordan. They were returning from a pilgrimmage to Mecca. Israel transportation minister Katz has ordered that the relatives of the dead be allowed through the crossing in order to claim the bodies of their relatives.
Ehud Barak is finally gone.
For almost six years (since June 2007), Barak was Israel’s so-called Defense Minister. During his term of office–which was the third longest of any “Defense Minister” in Israeli history, Barak was a model of passivity against Hamas on the Gaza border and aggression against Israeli citizens in Judea and Samaria.
Always one for unilateral withdrawals and adherence to political correctness, Barak sowed disastrous seeds among the IDF General Command transforming it from a world-admired fighting machine into a passive military body afraid of its own shadow.
Barak argued against striking the Syrian nuclear facility at Dir al-Zur in 2007 because he was afraid of the Syrian response, and he argued against continuing the war against Hamas last November because he was afraid of the world’s response.
But if there is one item that Barak always argued in favor of–it was the razing of fledgling Jewish communities throughout Judea and Samaria. Even in the face of Israel Supreme Court orders that property belonged to Jewish residents in such places as Hebron, Barak refused to follow the Court.
One of the most disgraceful episodes that Barak was involved in–and one that cost him dearly in terms of support among the Israeli public–was the Harpaz affair. Though the details of this affair are still not completely known, a forged document was used to try to keep Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant (Israel’s best combat General) from becoming IDF Chief of Staff. Gallant was eventually passed over by Barak in favor of the pusillanimous and malleable Benny Gantz.
There were many other aspects of Barak’s behavior that caused him to lose favor in Israel–from his penchant for accumulating luxury apartments to his treatment of a personal employee. But, in your humble servant’s opinion, it was Barak’s use of the IDF as his personal fiefdom that deserves the most opprobrium.
Yet the intensely narcissistic Barak will broach no criticism–his website this morning is extolling his “achievements”, and his media advisor is still putting out such garbage as: “It sounds like a cliche, but the country owes him a lot” (your humble servant will never forget Barak’s unilateratal, in the middle-of- the-night withdrawal from Lebanon in May of 2000 or Barak’s attempt to install Yasser Arafat in an office on the Temple Mount two months later).
Perhaps the most telling and self-serving comment came from Barak himself when he announced his retirement: “We gave the IDF back the ethical code of our lives and it understands the subservience of the military echelon to the political one.” Political correctness. Political correctness. Political correctness.
And, oh by the way, Barak did not give the IDF anything except a tarnished reputation to its General Staff; it was perhaps the most ethical army in the world long before Barak took over, and its soldiers remain so.
Good riddance Ehud Barak.
And good luck to Israel’s incoming Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.