One Last Roll of the Dice

The intoxicating sensation of this move is known to every gambler: Just one more roll of the dice, another hand, another spin of the roulette wheel, and we will be winners. At a time when there is talk about an Israeli agreement to the French-Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire, air force aircraft dropped fliers over Rafah, in which the civilians were called to evacuate their homes before yet another air attack.

"Where are they supposed to evacuate to?" a television presenter naively asked, his question hanging in the air. "Move to the north," was the answer of the all-knowing analyst, who is aware that even "northward" these people have no safe haven.

One of the areas that are in the program for evacuation-bombing is the refugee camp Yibneh. Those who live there, a camp I visited many times and which is perhaps the most miserable of the lot, were already evacuated once from Yibneh - today's Yavneh, the hometown of Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit. He said last night that if we stop firing now without an agreement, we will come out "looking like idiots."

Either way, yesterday they inaugurated the "siesta" in the Gaza Strip, in honor of the "peace activist" Condoleezza Rice: three hours of "humanitarian" cease-fire, during the normal siesta period between 1 P.M. and 4 P.M. The pictures from Gaza were depressing: As hundreds of desperate civilians stood in line for hours during this short tahadiye (lull) waiting for bread at the few bakeries, wounded from the Zeitun neighborhood made their way to hospital.

They had not been wounded yesterday, or the day before. They were injured four days ago, and since then were stuck, bleeding in their homes and neighborhoods, in pain and unable to reach hospital. In any case, 21 medical personnel had already lost their lives in this war, contravening any international convention, but in the case of Zeitun, even the brave ones could not get close.

At a time when the new national propagandist, Danny Gillerman, in his usual fancy dress and with ridiculous arguments, explained that Hamas is responsible for killing children - among the 686 dead Palestinians so far, 217 were children. A bereaved father pointed to the bodies of two small children at the entrance to Shifa Hospital and shouted in Hebrew: "Is all this for the sake of elections?"

Our leadership wondered yesterday whether to take another spin on the roulette wheel, broaden and thrash some more victims for no reason - or to hold fire and bring an end to a war that is probably the most brutal and least necessary in the history of Israel.