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Israel Will be at War by Summer, Politician Says

Kenneth R. Timmerman
Saturday, March 31, 2007

Israel will be at war by summer, a prominent opposition member of the Israeli Knesset told NewsMax in an exclusive interview this week.

"We have no choice. We will have to do it," said Dr. Arieh Eldad, member of the opposition National Union Party.

In a wide-ranging interview during a Passover visit to the United States, Dr. Eldad explained that Israel was facing a new strategic threat, caused in part by its own failure to deal a crushing blow to Hezbollah in Lebanon and the impression of weakness last summer's failed war created in the minds of Israel's enemies.

"Hezbollah is becoming stronger every day," he said. "They are rebuilding their ammunition stores, their medium and long missiles. They are going back to their bunkers in the south of Lebanon."

Israel has "no choice" but to launch a pre-emptive war to destroy Hezbollah as an effective fighting force, he believes. "There is no way the United Nations force [currently in south Lebanon] is going to prevent the smuggling of these missiles across the Syrian border or the fortification of south Lebanon."

The Hezbollah template for attacking Israel is being repeated in Gaza, Dr. Eldad said. "Hamas is building bunkers. They are bringing missiles across the Egyptian border, and the Egyptian government is failing to prevent it. So I hope the next Israeli government will be courageous enough to carry out these operations before it is too late."

By too late, he meant before Iran "crosses the red line" and becomes a nuclear weapons-capable state.

"If we do not neutralize Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria as a preliminary step, we will not be able to engage Iran," he added.

Eldad is not suggesting economic or diplomatic "engagement," as the State Department might use the term. He is talking about having Israel's military take out Iranian nuclear and missile sites if the Western nations refuse to do the job.

He is convinced Iran will use nuclear weapons against Israel, should it ever acquire them. And he is equally convinced that economic pressure and diplomatic sanctions will fail to deter Iran from that path.

Sanctions are based on Western logic, he argued. "But when states have missions that are bigger than life, they are not obeying the basic rules of logic that Western civilization obeys."

Iran is behaving on a state level as a suicide bomber behaves on the personal level, Dr. Eldad said. "The Iranian regime is willing to sacrifice millions of their own people just to beat the Big Satan [the United States] and the Small Satan [Israel]."

Eventually, military action against Iran will become necessary.

Like most Israeli leaders, Dr. Eldad would prefer that the United States and its partners take out Iranian nuclear and missile sites, if for no other reason than the vastly superior conventional firepower the U.S. could bring to bear.

Because Iran has built its nuclear plants in deeply buried, hardened facilities, it will be difficult if not impossible for Israel to destroy them with conventional weapons, Dr. Eldad said.

"If Israel is left alone and the point of no return [in Iran's nuclear weapons program] arrives, then Israel will have to do the job. But most probably we will not be able to do it with conventional warheads. And this is something the world should know."

Dr. Eldad has served for the past four years on the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs committee, and has received classified briefings on Israel's military capabilities and on Iran's progress toward building nuclear weapons.

Those briefings have been sobering, he said.

"Once we reach the eve of destruction of a new Holocaust [from Iran], we will not think of anything else. We will be ready to destroy the nuclear infrastructure of Iran at whatever cost it takes. That means we will be ready to use unconventional weapons," he said.

A would-renowned plastic surgeon by trade, Dr. Eldad has seen the horror of the terror war against Israel up close.

As head of the burns trauma unit at Hadassah hospital, his surgeons treated 3,000 casualties from terrorist attacks over the past seven years. "Among them were a couple of terrorists who were not killed. And I treated them," he said.

One man, a Lebanese accountant named Hussein Mikdad, blew off both his own legs, one arm, most of his remaining fingers, and lost both eyes when he detonated his suicide bomb by accident in his East Jerusalem hotel room. Sixty percent of his body was covered with burns.

"He couldn't understand why I was fighting for his life and treating him," Dr. Eldad said. "I said, I was fighting for his life because, as an Israeli citizen, I believed he deserved to live in his current condition."

Dr. Eldad saved his live, and Mikdad was eventually returned to Lebanon in exchange for the bodies of several Israeli soldiers who had been killed there.

Few in Israel expect the current government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to last for long.

In addition to ongoing corruption scandals, which have seen the criminal prosecution of the Minister of Justice, a government-appointed body known as the Vinograd commission is investigating the botched management of last summer's war.

The commission has already forced the resignation of Chief of Staff, Gen. Dan Haluz. Eldad believes Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz could be next.

"The government of Israel abandoned millions of its citizens to the mercy of katyusha missiles [during the Lebanon war]. They failed to provide them with food and medical supplies when they were needed, or to evacuate them," he said.

Instead, non-government organizations had to step in, including "these strange guys, like this Russian oligarch, who everyone started to call the savior of the nation."

Eldad was referring to Russian-Israeli billionaire, Arkady Gaydamak, who spent millions of dollars of his own money last summer to house and feed 6,000 Israelis who fled their homes in the north of the country to escape the Hezbollah rocket attacks.

"I don't think they mismanaged the war to cause harm. Ehud Olmert is just totally incapable of being prime minister."

He called Defense Minister Amir Peretz, a former union boss, "a wonderful labor leader. I'd be the first to recommend him to go to Lebanon to organize a labor union strike."

But his performance during last summer's war showed that "once we have a real war, we're in trouble."

Dr. Eldad expects that the Olmert government will fall in the next few weeks, either from the corruption scandals or as a result of the Vinograd Commission findings.

While Olmert's ruling Kadima party will try to cobble together another coalition, Dr. Eldad believes they will fail.

"I expect new elections within a few months. And that's what Israel really needs, for the preparation of the next war," he said.

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