Report from Eilon

Categories: Israel
By Barry Steinberg

It is almost a cool dawn breeze rather than sporadic shelling that wakes us. The dog, of course is alarmed, when the shelling finally resumes. He leaps into the air, barking sharply, dispelling any hope of falling back to asleep again. We think the firing, when it does come, is mostly directed into the coastal town of Tyre, tracing the route of more recent rocket attacks in this sector.

Debby is in Tel Aviv for the weekend. Work has slowed down in her office. Employees commuting to Eilon are home, and just the locals have been showing up. As this conflict continues, work-time is gradually being reduced. Debby was quickly wearying of the noise, and living, at least psychologically, on a precarious ledge with all this business going on. Like most Israelis, we are addicted to the newscasts, commentaries and analyses. Taken as a whole, the entire bundle of news, noise and peril is often enervating.

Debby describes Tel Aviv as another world. It is simply a place where the battle has not reached. People are in its streets going about their business. On this weekend, perhaps vivified by the contrast between life within the “zone” and that which has remained beyond it, everyone is feeling perhaps a bit more celebratory.

Except for the taxis, much of the public transportation service both north and south of Haifa has been halted.

Avner dropped by in the afternoon. He had been out shopping and decided to stop by with a crate of freshly picked peaches. Adamit’s factory has been closed for the duration of these hostilities, so Avner, idled by the closing, responded to the appeal of one of Adamit’s apple orchard employees, traveling the distance to Ramot Naftali to help harvest this fellow’s peach crop. Farms in the midst of their mid-summer fruit harvest are facing disaster. Under these conditions they are unable to work their orchards, or to get their fruit marketed in time.

We spent part of the afternoon discussing the battle of Midway and the Punic wars while sipping black coffee in Antonio’s “bunker”, which some might recognize as Antonio’s kitchen in Granot. His oldest daughter, Na’ama, is serving at a forward post near the border. She was personally involved in the initial engagement with Hezbollah that has sparked this conflict. The ambushed patrol originated from her base. She is acquainted with the soldiers involved in the initial skirmish.

Another Close Call!

A neighbor of ours in Eilon was driving along the road when a rocket exploded across from Mizra’a. The front of his truck was splattered by shrapnel, but he survived unscathed.

There is a propaganda war, a war of information and disinformation. Sheikh Nasrallah interviews for al-Jazeera television. After absenting himself for half a week it is important to show himself in public and arouse the morale of his fighters, and those Lebanese taking a beating at his expense. He refutes Israeli estimates of Hezbollah losses and apologizes to the Nazarene Arab family for the slaying of their two young children the other day. As he expresses his regrets, he assures them that the two brothers killed in this rocket attack have indeed achieved martyrdom. He appears confident that his resistance fighters will cause heavy casualties on the invading Israeli troops. He is practically guaranteeing it.

For her part, Israel has injected Special Forces into southern Lebanon, whose role is graphically described as a search and destroy mission. It is thought that most of the Hezbollah fighters are hidden in well-concealed bunkers some one-hundred sixty feet deep. These bunkers may be disguised beneath the facade of inconspicuous houses. It is within this context that the army has sent troops into Lebanon. Comparisons are being made between these bunkers, and the underground network built by the North Vietnamese to withstand the American bombardment in Vietnam.

Hezbollah has filmed the movement of Israeli troops and circulated footage on its television channel, al-Manar. It has also filmed close-up shots at what appears to be war booty, the personal belongings of an Israeli soldier, including a set of prayer phylacteries, which would seem to suggest that in some ensuing battle, some personal effects were abandoned on the battle field.

It was not possible to determine when this scene was filmed or where, only that it had never been aired before on Lebanese television.

Why have the Druze and Christians not brought pressure on the Seniora government to act forcefully against Hezbollah? Observers here say that the Druze and Christian leadership is hesitant in its support for Israel, and beyond disavowals has refrained from denouncing Hezbollah.

They are afraid that Israel, for whatever reason, will fail to complete the job of vanquishing her foe. During the 1982 campaign in Lebanon the
Druze practiced a studied form of neutralism as Israel fought to evict the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Syrian army. The Druze position was not hindered by their alliance with the PLO [or their shifting association with Syria] while waging war against the Christian Phalange militia. The Druze were disappointed by Israel’s subsequent withdrawal from the Shouf Mountains, which destabilized an uneasy truce between the Druze militia and Christian forces.

Both sides are fearful, according to this analysis, of being left in the lurch, much as the Kurds and Shi’ites were when they rebelled against Baghdad after the Gulf War, if Israel falls short of achieving her maximum goal of disarming Hezbollah.

About Berry Steinberg

Barry Steinberg was raised in Brooklyn and Long Island. He first arrived in Israel in 1969, participating in a kibbutz volunteer program. In 1971 he was part of the second contingent of western immigrants that reestablished Kibbutz Adamit in Western Galilee. He remained there until 1989 when I moved to Kibbutz Eilon. He have worked as a fruit farmer in both communities. He represented Adamit at Mapam and various kibbutz federation functions. Barry developed strong ties with our Bedouin neighbors of Arab al-Aramshe. He was involved in the earlier stages of Aramshe's integration into the local regional counsel. He am married with three sons.
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