Showdown in Mumbai

Showdown in Mumbai

After the horrific attacks in Mumbai, India yesterday, several Israelis, as well as Mumbai’s Chabad rabbi and his wife, were missing. The Jerusalem Post is now reporting that terrorists have holed themselves up in the Chabad house in Mumbai and have several hostages including Chabad’s Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife Rivka Holtzberg, and a handful of visiting Israelis.

The Post also reported that Indian security officials are considering storming the Chabad house. Israel seems to have some involvement in locating other missing Israelis although it is not clear if it will participate in a rescue operation. The terrorists have indicated they want to negotiate but Indian officials are saying no.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is using the opportunity to condemn worldwide terrorism.

“This is further painful evidence that the terrorist threat is the greatest challenge which Israel and the international community have to face. Nothing justifies the unforgivable slaughter of innocents.”

A strong statement but is now the time for statements? Israeli citizens are being held hostage and the foreign minister is apparently trying to score political points. That is understandable since this crisis and how Livni handles it will likely play a role when Israelis go to the polls in February. But I sincerely hope that Livni has the strength of character to keep this from becoming a political platform and she takes action toward the rescue of the hostages.

Of course, she had to issue a statement, but while she said the Israeli consulate was making “maximum efforts to ascertain the situation of the Israelis in the city as quickly as possible,” she did not say Israel was making efforts to have the hostages released.

Perhaps India is shutting Israel down and it wants to run the operation within its sovereign territory. That is India’s right. However, Israel has experience in missions like this.

There are three ways this can go: the hostages are released, whether through negotiation or the terrorists caving to pressure; a failed rescue operation like in Munich; a successful rescue operation like at Entebbe. Based on historical precedent, the Israelis should be involved in the rescue attempt.

I hope that by the end of the day we will have something else to be thankful for and all the hostages will be rescued safely.

More as the story develops.

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