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No Thanks, President Sarkozy

Four IDF soldiers killed by 'friendly fire'

Israeli leader turn down proposal for immediate ceasefire

IDF soldiers entering the Gaza Strip

Israeli leaders have rejected a proposal by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his European colleagues, calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. From President Shimon Peres on down, the Israeli officials made clear that not only must there be a stop to the eight years of Hamas rocketing, but a mechanism would also have to be in place to prevent any recurrence in the future. Meanwhile, inside the Gaza Strip, four IDF soldiers have been killed by 'friendly fire' in the campaign to root out the terrorists who have taken cover behind the civilian population.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy

'Thanks, but no thanks' - that was the clear and unequivocal response by Israel to the proposal by French President Sarkozy for an immediate ceasefire to the current flare-up between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the French president that neither the Europeans nor the UN Security Council could provide an answer to the Hamas terrorism and Israel's campaign to suppress it should be given a chance. Israel was determined to halt the eight years of Hamas rocketing across the border and would insist on arrangements that would prevent any recurrence in the future. At his meeting with Sarkozy, opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu of the Likud said that any ceasefire agreement must guarantee the closure of the Philadelphi corridor between Egypt and Gaza which the Palestinians have used to smuggle in huge quantities of rockets and weapons. Otherwise, it would only be a matter of time before Hamas again regrouped and again started rocketing Israel.

Touring the border area, Defense Minister Ehud Barak reacted to the death of four IDF soldiers who were killed Monday night inside the Gaza Strip. Barak said: "we knew it wouldn't be simple or easy, and we paid the price yesterday. But this battle was inevitable. In this eleventh day of operation 'Cast Lead', I send my condolences to the bereaved families and wish a speedy recovery to all the wounded. It is a bitter battle but a people who want to survive cannot allow a terror organization to disrupt its life or torment its citizens. These are our goals, and we intend to achieve them. We have now severed the Gaza Strip and cut off the city of Gaza. IDF troops are fighting around the clock, at close quarters and accomplishing their mission. I also wish to commend the home-front which is behaving admirably in support of the troops."

Capt. Yehonatan Netanel, 27, from Kedumim
Yousef Moadi, 19, from Haifa
Sgt. Nitai Stern, 21, from Jerusalem

The death of the four IDF soldiers by Israeli shells illustrates the danger and difficulty of trying to root out Hamas terrorists who take cover behind civilians in built-up populated areas. In an interview with Israel Radio, Ma'ayan Wartman, the younger brother of 32 year old Major Dagan Wartman who was one of the four killed, talked about his brother and operation 'Cast Lead':

What do you know so far about how your brother was killed?

I don't know the details but what I understand is that Dagan and his soldiers were deployed in a building which was hit by several shells.

Maj. Dagan Wartman, 32, from Ma'aleh Michmash

Can you tell us about Dagan?

Dagan was a wonderful brother, at an early age he was someone you could tangle with and later-on as a role-model to admire.

Is he the biggest brother in the family?

No, he is the third.

How many brothers are you?

We were five brothers with him – now we are four. But we intend to take with us the all the things we saw in him and, god willing, to carry on.

He was a full time officer in the 'Golani' infantry brigade, and you spoke about the way he showed you and the others.

Yes, Dagan reached the Israel defense forces after six years of study in a Yeshiva. During those years he also went through a kind of deep introspection of who he was as a human being, as a Jew, I would say he even did a doctorate in it. He wanted to be and succeeded as both a soldier and a Jew without either being weakened.

Are all the brothers also serving in 'Golani'?

There's a younger brother who is now in 'Golani' basic training and I have just received my call-up orders as a reserve 'Golani' soldier. My biggest brother is in the paratroopers but yes, all the others are in 'Golani'.

Why are you so 'sold' on the army?

We all believe in the Jewish people, its qualities of goodness and strength. And all of us in 'Golani' or the paratroopers have found a way of giving this a full expression.

When did you speak last with Dagan?

Since he went into Gaza there was no contact with him. But last Friday he telephoned and spoke with all of us in the family. He was very happy, he hoped for the ground operation – not because he wanted to go to war but because he believed it was necessary to defend the Jewish people. On the other hand it was a conversation very different from what you would expect from a soldier about to go into Gaza. Nonetheless, all of us felt deep inside that if there were dangers near-by, Dagan would be the first to go.

Can you recall anything he said to you in that last conversation?

It's a little hard for me right now, I'm sorry. But could I say something for the family?

Certainly.

All of us in the family are convinced that Dagan would still have enlisted in 'Golani' even if he knew beforehand that one moment later he would be killed in action. He would not be sorry even now and we are all convinced that Dagan would have enlisted again without any hesitation, and we know that if in some way he could be with us today, he would say he would so it all again. As a family, we want to stand firmly behind the 'Golani' brigade, and all the soldiers now fighting in Gaza. We want to encourage the political leaders not to stop before this mission is accomplished. This is what we believe as a family and that Dagan would be very sorry if this mission is not accomplished. No one should say now that because Dagan and other soldiers had been killed that the campaign should be stopped and that this battle is unnecessary.

Do you have anything in your heart about the fact that an Israeli shell killed Dagan?

No, and I believe that no terrorist had the 'privilege' of killing him and not by chance. Everyone knew he was a dedicated believer in the Torah. We see it as an integral part of war, we are sorry it happened but accidents do happen in battle.

Ma'ayan, where do you get such strength?

From the Torah. We believe that this place, this land and the people on it have a vision, a goal and a way of life that began long ago and god willing things will be better.

David Essing

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