Monday, August 27, 2007

“Summertime and the livin' is easy”

Well the “easy” life of the summer holidays (for the children) is drawing to a close, not so easy for the parents. The shopping malls are regaling the shoppers with all the books, accessories and school bags required for the new school year. It is reported that parents are spending around $2 billion on their children on back to school items. Ahead of the new school year, local industries have invested heavily in the design and development of new orthopedic back packs and school bags in a sector that employs over 5000 people.

Meanwhile in the south, in Sderot parents are apprehensive about the new school year because of the incessant barrage of mortars and kassams being fired from the Gaza strip. Palestinian infiltration attempts from Gaza are increasing. The Israeli army reports almost on a daily basis on the attempts at infiltration. Over the past three weeks, 10 gunmen have been killed while trying to plant bombs alongside the security fence. "Our goal is to stop anyone who approaches the fence; sometimes it's civilians, sometimes it's terrorists and sometimes it's terrorists pretending to be civilians," said a military official. "We have no intention of harming civilians, but it's often impossible to ascertain the intent of each individual infiltrator.

Here in the north we cannot be complacent as Iran helps to build a presence in Lebanon. Media reports are full of what is happening in Southern Lebanon under the noses of UNIFIL,0,4226946.story Along the roadways of southern Lebanon, thousands of banners festoon street lights and utility poles. They feature a distinctive symbol, a red inscription from the center of Iran's flag, protectively swathing Lebanon's iconic green cedar. The emblem belongs to the Iranian reconstruction organization. Its presence delivers a message that is not lost on those who have watched cratered roads filled in, damaged school walls resurrected, and life return to some semblance of normalcy over the last year.

Iran is a Shiite Muslim majority country that sees itself as the patron of Shiites around the world, including those in Lebanon, who make up a third to half of the population. Whenever the Lebanese government, nonprofit organizations or other donor nations have faltered, Iran and its ally Hizbullah, which dominates most of the municipal governments of the south, have quickly swooped in. For example, when Qatar slowed reconstruction efforts several months ago because of corruption worries, Iran quickly upped its contribution.

As the summer peaks it ain’t going to get any easier

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