Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Solidarity with Israel is the best way of stopping the conflict and improving life for all in the region.

Editorial, 29 July 2014, by Steve Lieblich:

We are seeing a flood of media coverage expressing commendable concern for the Gazan civilians caught in the war between Israel and Hamas, but sadly little for the millions of Israeli citizens threatened on a daily basis for many years by Hamas's terrorist acts. 

The coverage often also also simplistically blames Israel entirely for  the suffering cause by war, while paying lip service to denouncing terrorism and completely ignoring human-rights abuses of the Palestinian Arabs by their own leaders over many decades.

Hamas incites hatred against the Jewish people in Gaza, starting with their own children in kindergartens, and around the world through international media. Hamas and Al-Jazeera are both heavily funded by Qatar. Al-Jazeera, which gets hours of airtime globally, is effectively a mouthpiece for Hamas. It seems that very many journalists have been mis-informed by this massive petro-dollar-funded propaganda campaign.

The people of both Gaza and Israel are suffering at this time, and Hamas is entirely responsible for this. Solidarity with Israel is the best way of stopping the conflict and improving life for all in the region.

Hamas was at first elected in 2006, but took control violently in 2007, and now rules Gaza by brutal force, creating an industry of death, inciting hatred and glorifying martyrdom.

It has squandered billions of dollars in international aid and instead of building a constructive economy in Gaza, it amassed over 10,000 rockets from Iran and Syria and built an underground tunnel network for infiltrating the Israel border to perpetrate murder and kidnappings. Over the years, there have been over 15,000 rocket and mortar attacks against Israel from Gaza; over 2,300 rockets in the last 2 weeks. And every Hamas rocket and military operation is aimed at civilians, not military targets.

We now know from captured terrorists, that if not for this war, Hamas would have perpetrated a mega-terrorist act this coming September, via their terrorist tunnel network, with the aim of murdering and kidnapping thousands of Israeli citizens.

Imagine if your Government knew about plans to perpetrate a massive terror attack like 9/11 or the bombings in London, would you expect the Government to wait until “enough” civilians had been killed to “justify” taking action ...or would you expect it to act now to prevent it?

Israel is on the front line of the West’s battle with violent extremism, whether it comes from Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Ukraine. We should stand with Israel as it defends its people, and denounce Hamas terrorism. Israel is the front line, and if we don’t support it now, we will be fighting this battle in our own backyard.

Israel is targeting only the Gaza terrorist infrastructure, including rocket-launching and storage sites, training camps, the houses of terrorists used as command centres, tunnels and terrorists responsible for the attacks. Israel uses military to protect the residents of Israel, and Hamas uses the residents of Gaza to protect terrorists. Hamas hides in mosques, hospitals, residences and schools. Hamas orders Gaza civilians, warned by Israel to evacuate, to stay where they are. Hamas hopes this will either deter the attacks, or result in casualties that can be used as propaganda against Israel. Hamas considers every death to be a propaganda win, whether it’s the death of an Israeli or of one of their own civilians.

True humanitarians should be directing their attention to overhauling this failed Arab leadership that has impoverished and tormented the Palestinian Arabs for decades.

Arab leaders persecuted the Jewish Palestinians from the 1920s, and launched a relentless campaign, against the interests of their own people, to obliterate the Jewish national revival - before any “occupation” and even before the establishment of the State of Israel.

They flatly rejected the restoration of the Jewish homeland as mandated by the League of Nations. Even after Jordan was created from 80% of the British Mandate of Palestine, they rejected the 1937 Peel Commission proposal to partition the remaining 20%.

In 1947, the UN partition would have created an even larger Arab state than the Peel proposal. But for the Arabs' violent attempt to abort the partition there would have been no war and no dislocation in the first place.

…and the rejection continues to this day…

In 1949, Israel offered to return captured land as part of a formal peace agreement. Arab rulers refused.

From 1948 to 1967, Israel did not control the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinian Arabs could have demanded an independent state from Jordan and Egypt, but did not. Had they sought peace and reconciliation, instead of rejection and global terrorism, a Palestinian state could have been established from the 1960’s.

They rejected the offer of Palestinian autonomy in the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace negotiations.

They scuttled the Oslo process that began in 1993 leading toward the creation of a Palestinian state, by violating their commitments.

In 2000, they also rejected the offer at Camp David to create a Palestinian state. And did so again in 2008.

Since their self-inflicted, violent and catastrophic rejection of the 1947 UN partition, misguided, self-serving Arab leaders have kept the dislocated Palestinian Arabs oppressed and in poverty, as cannon fodder, fed on hatred, false hope, and glorification of martyrdom. They've squandered repeated opportunities for statehood and economic progress. 

Yet here we are, with Israel under attack by yet another crop of Arab despots, and the media know no better than to continue to vilify Israel….

Solidarity with Israel is the best way of stopping the conflict and improving life for all in the region.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hamas "Underground" To Target Israel’s Kindergartens in a few weeks

Multiple media outlets report that Hamas’s offensive tunnel network – now known to have been composed of over forty attack tunnels dug underneath Israel’s border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip – was set to be activated during the Jewish High Holidays (September 24th) as a mass terror attack.
The attack was meant to generate as many as ten thousand casualties, men, women and particularly children and hundreds of captives.  Explosives were particularly placed underneath kindergartens to make certain that these “institutions” would be the first struck, even before any thing else.
The IDF recently published the below map showing that tunnels were created in pairs, to empty out on both sides of nearby communities.  The known cost of the infrastructure – each tunnel costs upward of some $1 million – clearly shows that Hamas was planning a coordinated mega-attack.  It must be understood that use of even one tunnel would inevitably trigger Israeli retaliation against the entire network.
A map of a small portion of the tunnels meant to be used 9 weeks from now.
Revelations regarding the planned tunnel attack magnitude played a decisive role in the Israeli government’s rejection of a ceasefire proposed late Friday by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Unbelievably, Kerry actually proposed in his latest “cease-fire proposal” – none of which have been honored by Hamas so far – that Israel refrains from degrading remaining attack tunnels.  This mind-boggling concept would necessarily be rejected by any sane government, of any country.
Israeli security sources, citing information acquired in interrogations of captured brigands, described a scenario under which hundreds of heavily armed Hamas fighters would have spilled out into Israel in the dead of night and within 10 minutes been positioned to infiltrate essentially all Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip.  Waiting then in hiding until schools and kindergartens were occupied, the terrorists would then attempt to kill the children first, and then kill and kidnap as many Israelis as possible.  The plot was set to take place during Jewish New Year, on September 24.
“It’s like the Underground, the Metro or the Subway,” Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said. “These tunnels are all connected. I would describe it as Lower Gaza.”
Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said, “A whole city of terror tunnels has been found.  Without the ground operation, we would have woken up one day to an Israeli 9/11.”
Except, the actual objective was to be five times 9/11.
This picture shows clearly the width of one of the tunnels, sufficient for wheeled vehicles to transverse it.  Hamas did not build a “subway” system for Gaza residents.  They built an infrastructure for one purpose, and one only, an industry of death.  
Israeli military officials reported that the tunnels are stocked with tranquilizers, handcuffs, syringes, ropes and other materials used for subduing abductees, civilians and soldiers.  The tunnels also had fantastic quantities of explosives and additional military materiel meant to be used in the up-coming mega attack.  Much of these explosives had already been placed underneath Israeli kindergartens.  Some of these tunnels were as deep as 30 meters underground.
Fantastic quantities of explosives were stored in every tunnel, meant to be used in a mega-attack on civilian communities and infrastructure.
Sources say the Gaza Strip war, Operation Protective Edge, could serve as a prelude for a more extensive underground war with the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah.  Perhaps, not ‘just’ in the Middle East.
The tunnels inside Gaza and under the Israeli border are not a secret project Hamas ran under the noses of Israel and the Palestinian public. Everyone in Gaza, knew that beneath Gaza, the City and all of its environs, a network of tunnels was being dug over the past five years, with an investment of tens of millions of dollars.  Yet no one in Israel, public or military, was prepared for the scope of the tunnels – the danger that became clear in the past week or two.
Senior Hamas operatives show off their offensive tunnels to their spouses.  Unbelievably, this is actually a picture of a Marriage taking place in the ‘place of death’.
In order to create this monstrosity, Hamas needed significant professional help; and this help had to have come from a large organization or state entity.  This is not just the monetary aid it received from Qatar, America’s ally.  This is professional guidance for the performance of such an underground feat.  Perhaps Hamas could have used experts from the tunnels dug at Rafah under the Gaza-Egypt border, but those were significantly simpler, and did not demand any extraordinary investment or effort.
A Hamas operative climbing upward in a pier of one of the major tunnels.  
Notice the work on the sides of the tunnel. 
Who supplied these quantities of material?  Who planned what would be needed?  How did Hamas acquire thousands of ampoules of tranquilizer, syringes and other, additional drugs to be used?  These are far beyond the quantities and variety of what is needed by any civilian medical service.
How was all this brought in to the Gaza Strip?  The logistics of this planned attack are the work of a well-organised military, not that of a militia or club.  This was no amateur plan.
Observers note that attack scenarios lined up with recently revealed data about the sophistication, scope and nature of the offensive tunnel network.  
...this sophistication and know-how is being copied right now by Mexico-based Hezbollah agents along the Southern US border.  Tunnels in Southern Lebanon, as in South US, are significantly more difficult to detect than those in the sandy terrain of the Gaza Strip.
“Hamas planned these tunnels for years, and planned to use them to kidnap soldiers,” Israeli military spokesman Brig. Gen. Mordechai Almoz said. “[Now] they see the tunnels collapsing one after the other.”  For the last two years, the Israeli army has sought to develop skills and equipment to fight in enemy tunnels and bunkers.  Hamas and Islamic Jihad have used tunnels to operate command and control, to infiltrate Israel and abduct soldiers, to fire rockets and to conceal fighters amid invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

“Egypt will not permit the establishment of a Brotherhood state on its eastern borders.”

From The Times of Israel, July 25, 2014, BY LEE KEATH AND MAGGIE MICHAEL:

CAIRO (AP) — In the Gaza war now in its third bloody week... Egypt is taking a hard line, refusing any opening that would strengthen Hamas, a group it accuses of fueling militancy on its soil. ...the Egyptian public has largely gone along.

...authorities in Cairo have insisted they won’t bend. Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri called Rafah a “red line,” warning against pressuring Egypt on the issue. ...For its part, Egypt has made it clear it won’t open the border unless the Gaza side is run by Hamas’ rival, President Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian Authority was ejected from Gaza when the militant group took over the territory in 2007. Hamas has been reluctant to let Abbas loyalists back in control.

... Egypt’s government is insulated from a backlash at home by the fierce anti-Islamist sentiment in the country since last year’s ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi by the then-military chief, now Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

...Egyptians’ fears have been increased by a wave of Islamic militant bombings and shootings in the past year, which the government accuses Hamas of helping by sending weapons through tunnels under the border...

For months, the Egyptian military has been working to destroy the tunnels.

...Egyptian TV stations and newspapers ... have issued a stream of commentary that sounds a lot like what is coming out of Israel: Hamas is to blame for the fighting and is exploiting Palestinian civilian deaths for its own gain.

The vehemence has at times been startling.

“Let Gaza burn with those in it,” proclaimed Tawfik Okasha, a pro-military TV presenter known for his rabid anti-Islamist rhetoric. He praised Israel’s leadership — “You are men,” he said — for striking back against Hamas after the kidnapping and killing of three Israelis last month.

Another presenter, Amany el-Khayat, accused Hamas of trying to promote its “resistance” image by letting Gazan civilians die, saying the group seeks to “wash its face … with Palestinians’ blood.”

On Wednesday, in his first public comments on the Gaza crisis, Egypt’s president did not even issue the usual Egyptian condemnation of Israeli “aggression.”

In past Israel-Hamas violence, Egypt’s government faced embarrassing public calls to open its Rafah crossing with Gaza, with critics accusing it of helping Israel.

This time, however, criticism has been muted, and there have hardly been any street rallies in support of Gazans. Anti-Islamist sentiment may not be the only reason; Egypt imposed a draconian anti-protest law last year.

One attempt by Egyptian activists to go in a convoy to Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid was blocked by Egyptian security. But a second activist convoy was allowed in on Friday.

Egypt has stepped in as a mediator in the conflict, presenting a proposal that called for an unconditional cease-fire, followed by Egypt-mediated talks. Israel accepted the proposal, but Hamas rejected it, insisting on guarantees up front that its demands will be met.

Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, in a speech Wednesday, demanded the immediate opening of Gaza borders “held by Arabs” — a clear reference to Egypt.

For Egyptian authorities, an unconditional opening of Rafah would only serve to strengthen Hamas’ rule.
“The whole issue here is that Hamas wants to be recognized as the legitimate ruler of Gaza Strip,” Samir Ghattas, head of the Maqdis Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo. “Egypt will not agree on this and will not permit the establishment of a Brotherhood state on its eastern borders.”

Israel rejects Kerry’s ceasefire proposals, despite US blackmail, after discovery of a plot for a mega-attack via Hamas tunnels

From MissingPeace, Saturday, July 26, 2014:

Kerry and Netanyahu during press conference 

On Friday US Secretary of State John Kerry failed to achieve a cease fire between Israel and Hamas.

Full details of the proposed truce have not been released, but the government official, who declined to be named, said Israel wanted modifications before agreeing to any end to hostilities. Hamas has yet to respond to the proposed ceasefire, according to a Reuters report.

Earlier Friday, Channel 10 cited sources in the diplomatic-security cabinet who said that Israel viewed Kerry’s bridging proposals as “a Qatari proposal with ornaments.” Qatar has been accused by Israel of providing financing and political support to Hamas.

According to Channel 10, senior Israeli ministers have ruled as “out of the question” a cease-fire in which the IDF would be prevented from fully rooting out the threat of underground tunnels built by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

...After Kerry left the Middle East for Paris where he will try to enlist European support for his proposals he again blamed Israel for his failure.

The Washington Post reported:
Kerry, speaking alongside U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Arab diplomats, said he will leave the region after five days and head next to Paris to try to enlist European help.
Kerry claimed progress, but acknowledged that Israel “has some questions.” With evident irritation, he said the Israeli cabinet vote was engineered to make “mischief.”

On the same day that Kerry made this remark Moshe Greenberg, an Israel aviation expert, delivered the evidence that last week’s FAA decision to ban US carriers from flying to Ben Gurion Airport was in fact political blackmail by the US administration.

By ordering the ban the US might have expected that it could pressure Israel into accepting Kerry’s ceasefire proposals. Below is Greenberg’s letter which was published by the Jerusalem Post.

Sir, – I am an airline industry professional and a Federal Aviation Administration- licensed pilot.
The mechanism by which the FAA issues such directives is called a NOTAM.
For the sake of fairness, the NOTAM issued for Ben-Gurion Airport was not entirely unprecedented. After the recent downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, the FAA banned US operators from flying over the eastern Ukraine cities of Simferopol and Dnepropetrovsk.
The main difference is that in Ukraine an airliner was actually shot down.
In other problematic areas of the world with “significant risk to civil flight operations,” including the Sinai Peninsula, North Korea, Yemen and Afghanistan, FAA NOTAMs direct US operators to “obtain current threat information” and then decide for themselves whether or not to fly. The NOTAM issued for Ben-Gurion did not use the word “risk” at all, referring only to a “potentially hazardous situation,” yet it declared: “All flight operations to/ from Ben-Gurion International Airport by US operators are prohibited.”
The FAA and/or the US Department of Transportation overstepped their mandate in issuing such a NOTAM. It appears to have been a political tactic, probably with the goal of pressuring Israel into accepting a US-sponsored cease-fire agreement with Hamas by crippling the flow of passengers and cargo into and out of Israel.
From Greenberg’s letter it is clear that the Obama administration was behind the FAA decision, thereby creating a severe additional problem for Israel. Ben Gurion Airport is Israel’s most important economic life line and its sole gate to the world.

It once again showed the hostility towards Israel by the current US administration.

Kerry and Obama must have known that Israel could not accept a ceasefire at this moment. As long as the Hamas tunnel network underneath Israel’s border is not destroyed Israel will not accept a ceasefire. This has everything to do with the discovery of a plot for a mega terrorist attack via these tunnels on the eve of the coming Jewish High Holidays.

Israeli security sources, citing information acquired in interrogations of captured Hamas fighters, described a scenario under which hundreds of heavily armed Hamas fighters would have spilled out into Israel in the dead of night and within 10 minutes have been in a position to infiltrate several sparsely populated and lightly guarded Israeli communities. Palestinian terrorists would then – per an assessment conveyed by i24news – have sought to “kill and kidnap as many Israelis as they could.”

Details of plot, which were first published by the Hebrew-language Ma’ariv, described it as set to take place when Israelis would have been celebrating the Jewish New Year, on or around September 24. Observers noted that attack scenarios lined up with recently revealed data about the scope and nature of the offensive tunnel network.

The IDF recently published a map showing that the tunnels were created to empty out on both sides of nearby communities. Israeli military officials had already reported that the tunnel entrances are stocked with tranquilizers, handcuffs, ropes, and other materials useful for subduing abducted civilians and soldiers. And the known cost of the infrastructure – with each tunnel costing roughly $1 million – implies that Hamas leaders were planning a coordinated mega-attack, since use of even one of the tunnels was likely to trigger an Israeli retaliation against the entire network.

Revelations regarding the magnitude of the planned tunnel attack are thought to have played a critical role in the Israeli government’s rejection of a ceasefire proposed late Friday by Secretary of State John Kerry, which would have prohibited the Israelis from degrading remaining attack tunnels.

Terrorist tunnels from Gaza into Israel

From Ynet News, 26 July 2014, by Itay Blumenthal:

Photographs taken by photographer Jack Guez show tunnels dug by Hamas from Gaza into Israel. IDF troops still occupied with uncovering and destroying more tunnels: ‘Every day of combat allows us to inflict greater damage on this infrastructure.’

The photographs illustrates the threat in full force – the tunnels are professionally constructed, some reinforced with cement, equipped with rail tracks, power cables and a communications system. Hamas has invested a fortune in building the tunnels meant for terrorist attacks.

An Israeli army officer gives explanations to journalists during an army organised tour in a tunnel (Photo: Reuters)
An Israeli army officer gives explanations to journalists during an army organised tour in a tunnel (Photo: Reuters)

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced on Friday that since the ground operation was first launched, IDF troops have uncovered 31 tunnels, 11 of which that were destroyed and taken out of use. Earlier, GOC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman held a press briefing and addressed the threat posed by the tunnels.

“We have been working steadfastly since the moment we entered the Gaza Strip to locate and destroy the tunnels. We were able to uncover and demolish at least half of the enemy's tunnels used for attacks and we are continuing to work with determination."

Photo: Associated Press
Photo: Associated Press

"Hamas has been building underground infrastructure for years. There's an underground Gaza – this isn't a slogan, but rather the plain truth. Our units have come across it and in every day of our combat we manage to damage this infrastructure.

He stressed that "It took the movement five years to build the tunnels, some of the tunnels took four years to build, and we managed, in one week, to cause significant damage to this capability. I believe that every day of combat will allow us to deliver a fatal blow to what Hamas considers an important infrastructure."

Israeli army officers talk at the entrance of a tunnel  (Photo: Reuters)
Israeli army officers talk at the entrance of a tunnel (Photo: Reuters)

In general, the tunnel issue is defined in Gaza as a national flagship project. It includes three types of tunnels: The smuggling tunnels on the Philadelphi Route in Rafah, the offensive tunnels along the border fence with Israel, and the strategic tunnels inside the Gaza Strip which are meant to be used mainly for mobilizing forces between areas at times of emergency, but also for firing rockets, mine laying and kidnapping.

The cost of each tunnel, some of which extend over hundreds of meters, is huge. There are hundreds of people in the Strip whose only purpose in life is to dig.

Photo: Associated Press
Photo: Associated Press

 Entrance of a tunnel said to be used by Palestinian militants for cross-border attacks (Photo: Reuters)
Entrance of a tunnel said to be used by Palestinian militants for cross-border attacks (Photo: Reuters)

The Gaza tunnel project is organized, calculated and does not leave any room for piracy. It is coordinated between all the factions' military wings and includes the registration of all the tunnels in the Strip, including the tunnels' routes, the ways to enter them and the destination according to which they are mapped.

The tunnels are divided into four districts: The northern Strip, Gaza city, the central Strip and the southern Strip. There is one person in charge of each district in coordination with the other districts, and only one person in charge of each tunnel. In order to maintain the secrecy, his name and the tunnel's route are kept confidential. The diggers and the person in charge of the district are the only ones familiar with the details.

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Each military wing in the Strip is permitted to dig a tunnel only after coordinating the activity with the person in charge of the district. An average dig takes about four months. Most of the tunnels are dug by hand during the night, and each tunnel is accurately calculated.

Photo: EPA
Photo: EPA

The factions have defined every part of the Strip as eligible for a tunnel for military purposes. When a tunnel is dug near the border fence, those responsible for it notify the land owner, subject to security coordination, and stress the structural separation:

Everything above the ground belongs to him and everything under the ground is under the responsibility of the military factions. If needed, he will be financially compensated. Thus, some of the land owners know that there is a tunnel under their lands, but they are unfamiliar with its route.

Al-Jazeera disseminates Hamas propaganda

From Times of Israel 25, July 2014, by Ran Boker:

[Israel's] Communications Minister Gilad Erdan wants the Qatar-based al-Jazeera news channel taken off the air in Israel due to its "forbidden incitement" against the country during the Gaza conflict.

In a letter to the to Israel's Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council, as well as to the HOT and Yes cable and satellite television providers, Erdan wrote that
"for the past two weeks, the State of Israel has been engaging in persistent fighting against the terror threat of the Hamas organization, as part of Operation Protective Edge.
"As part of the media coverage of this serious fighting, Qatari television channel al-Jazeera, which can be viewed in Israel through the cable and satellite services, is freely broadcasting serious words of incitement against the State of Israel alongside enthusiastic support for the Hamas organization and its acts of terror.
"Under these circumstances, the channel's broadcasts appear to constitute forbidden incitement," the minister wrote. "I would like to raise my request to remove al-Jazeera from the cable and satellite broadcasts with the council as soon as possible, at least until the security situation is destabilized and peace is restored."

Al-Jazeera. 'Propaganda at the enemy's service' 
(Photo: AFP)

According to Erdan, the channel presents Israel "as committing war crimes against the Palestinian population in Gaza, while the war crimes committed by Hamas on a daily basis – intentional firing at a civil population from within a civil population – receive no criticism or condemnations.

"The IDF's activities against Hamas' terror infrastructures are falsely presented as an intentional brutal attack on innocent civilians. The channel airs the Hamas organization's propaganda clips against the State of Israel, presents reality in a one-sided manner and serves as mouthpiece for Israel's worst enemies.

"There is no doubt that the freedom of expression, which has a place of honor in the Israeli democracy, also includes voicing opinions (and even radical opinions) which not every person approves of," the minister added.

"Nonetheless, I believe that at this time, while the State of Israel is engaging in persistent and bloody fighting against an unrestrained terror organization committing war crimes and cynically taking advantage of the fact that the State of Israel respect international combat laws, there is no room for broadcasts serving as the mouthpiece of the enemy.
"I am certain that in the entire world, there is not a single democracy which would allow an intolerable situation in which during a war against a terror organization, its citizens would receive propaganda broadcasts at the enemy's service. I believe that such a situation should not be allowed in the State of Israel either."

Friday, July 25, 2014

Qatar is a key Hamas terror sponsor

From Times of Israel, July 23, 2014, by Elhanan Miller:

Gulf emirate is branded the villain behind Hamas belligerence ... it funds tunnel diggers and rocket launchers
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, shakes hands with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, right, as the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, center, looks on, after signing an agreement in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Feb 6, 2012 (photo credit: AP/Osama Faisal) 

...Qatar recently attempted to transfer funds for the salaries of Hamas civil servants in Gaza, following the formation of a Palestinian unity government, but was blocked by the United States, which pressured the Arab Bank not to process them.

But former national security adviser Maj. Gen. (res) Yaakov Amidror told The Times of Israel that the emirate’s funding for the organization’s terror apparatus, including tunnel diggers and rocket launchers, has continued unabated.
“Hamas currently has two ‘true friends’ in the world: Qatar and Turkey...” ...
 The small Gulf state is currently Hamas’s closest ally in the Arab world, after the movement’s relations with Egypt soured following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi in June 2013. Qatar, which has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in reconstruction and infrastructure projects in Gaza, is also home to the movement’s political leader Khaled Mashaal in Doha.
“The one supporting this organization financially, almost alone, is Qatar...” ...
Qatar isn’t only being accused of funneling funds to Hamas. Israel and Egypt are also blaming it for blocking Egypt’s efforts to broker a ceasefire in Gaza. On July 17, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said that Qatar and Turkey were undermining Egypt’s quiet-for-quiet ceasefire initiative, a position echoed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.

... the [alternative] ceasefire draft presented to Abbas in Qatar over the weekend “had Hamas’s handwriting all over it...Qatar is clearly biased toward Hamas over Fatah.”

...Another aspect of Qatar’s destructive influence... is state-backed news channel Al-Jazeera.

[Israel's] Communications Minister Gilad Erdan requested of the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council this week that it stop broadcasting Al-Jazeera due to its “extremely severe incitement against the State of Israel as well as enthusiastic support for Hamas and its terrorist actions.” Liberman said his ministry was examining the possibility of shutting Al-Jazeera’s offices in Israel, Israeli news site Walla reported.

...Meanwhile, a diplomatic tug of war has been underway in the Arab Gulf between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — both staunch supporters of the new Egyptian regime —  on the one side and Qatar on the other. On Tuesday, Qatari emir Tamim bin Hamad arrived in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, to discuss the Palestinian situation with Saudi King Abdullah. No details of the meeting were immediately available.

Israel faced the greatest danger to its existence since the War of Independence.

by Guy Alony (Translated from the Hebrew)

The three kidnapped and murdered Israeli youths, in their deaths, saved Israel.

Dozens of offensive tunnels that end inside cities in the south of Israel, are not tunnels of terror, they are an infrastructure for land occupation. If we had not surprised ourselves by our sharp response to the abduction of the youths, then Hamas, at a time suitable to them, would have sent in thousands of terrorists via the tunnels to conquer cities and military posts, and thousands of terrorists dressed up as Israeli soldiers, would have slaughtered, captured and kidnapped civilians, while the IDF would not have time to organize and respond. At the same time they would have fired hundreds or thousands of missiles into the center of the country, paralyzing any possible organization against the invasion.

Why did they wait?
Maybe for a rainy day, but apparently for the recovery of Hizballah, in order to organize a combined military and missile offensive with Hizbullah from the north...and maybe they were also waiting for Hizbullah to dig  tunnels from Lebanon to reach Israel’s northern cities…

In Israel in such a scenario, there would be tens of thousands of fatalities, the paralysis of transport and communications systems and a need to establish local defenses for protection in neighborhoods and in the streets. And this is assuming that the Arabs in the Yehuda and Shomron regions, and a part of the Israeli Arabs, did not join in the battle. The counteroffensives of our Air Force would not help of course, when all the terrorists are in the tunnels underground laughing all the way to Jerusalem. In the best scenario, International forces would enter in order to demilitarize the country. Every dream of the Jewish state would disintegrate for another thousand years.

We were saved by two things which the enemy did not believe would happen, because even we did not believe it...they did not believe that the abduction of the three youths would unite the people of Israel in a such a way that it would lead to the return of the terrorist prisoners to jail, and a willingness for our land forces to enter the hornets’ nest that the enemy built. And they did not believe that Iron Dome actually works.

In the other words all Israelis from the political Left and the Right, underestimated the psychopathic-Islamic rhetoric that calls to conquer Jerusalem, we ignored the resolution of these psychopaths in Iraq and in Syria, and we did not want to understand that they had built a smart military system, strong and in fact perfect and almost errorless, for the crushing of the state of Israel.

We all saw how ten terrorists came out from a tunnel in a matter of minutes.

What prevents two hundred terrorists from coming out of tunnel when ordered, and many thousands from all the tunnels together, including hundreds of commando terrorists landing simultaneously on the beaches, and missiles landing in the center of Israel? The truth is that if we did not have tens of thousands of soldiers in the south at present, nothing could have prevented the next step in the materialization of the Islamic dream to annihilate Israel and march to Jerusalem.

Eyal, Naftali and Gil-ad - in your death you saved the country for us, our freedom and our lives.

Danny Gold, the inventor of the Iron Dome – we wish you long life.

And to all the soldiers – we love and embrace you endlessly.

Have courage and be brave! The entire Jewish nation, the whole world, and more than everyone, most of the Arab states and the sane Moslems, pray for the crushing of these maniacs. Yes, also Abu Mazen. Thanks to the three youths, we caught them with their pants down, at the time and under conditions that are not suitable to them. The country was saved, and now is the time to settle accounts with the murderers, until we have dealt with the last of them.

And one word to the citizens on the home front: when you hear an alarm, go into the shelter and smile. When you hear "booms"- laugh. These noises are the screams of frustration of the psychopaths in Gaza, as their ingenious plan to crush Israel was exposed prematurely. Any damage that happens to us now, is nothing compared to what was planned.

For Hamas, endless warfare with the Jews is preferable to reconciling and living together with them in peace

From Gatestone Institute, July 24, 2014, by Salim Mansur:

When a few years ago I travelled to Israel, I had the specific purpose in mind of making my own pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Looking back on that summer of 2010, Israel was enjoying an interlude of uncertain peace. More than a year earlier, in December 2008-January 2009, the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] had been sent into Gaza to disarm Hamas because of their launching rockets into Israel; then two years later, in November 2012, the IDF went back into Gaza again for similar reasons.

As I watch with people across the world, the IDF has once more been reluctantly forced into military action to stop Hamas from firing hundreds of rockets capable of reaching deep inside Israel, I shall try to go beyond simple and easy condemnations of the brutality of wars and ritualistic sympathy for its victims.

What we are witnessing – as perhaps Albert Camus would have expressed it – is Israel engaged in a Sisyphean struggle against Hamas, against Palestinians, against Arabs, against Muslims, and against an expanding body of opinion in the West that is less and less inhibited from displaying the rancid anti-Semitism behind its support for those who openly call for another Holocaust for the Jews.

The critics of Israel's military action against Hamas have erased from their memory what the government of Israel in 2005, then led by Ariel Sharon, unilaterally did in withdrawing from Gaza and handing it over to representatives of the Palestinian people. The IDF was authorized by Sharon and his government to remove by force those Jewish settlers in Gaza who had insisted on remaining there.
The forceful eviction was necessary because there was no indication given by Palestinians that they were prepared to live side by side with Jews in peace. Any indication – even if symbolic in nature – that at least some Jews be made welcome, or even allowed, to live there in peace and security, would have sent out a signal that Palestinians are reconciled with the idea of peaceful coexistence with Jews. Such a gesture would have signaled a shift in Palestinian thinking consistent with the promise that the Oslo Accords represented when it was signed in 1993 by Yitzhak Rabin, then Israel's prime minister, and Yasser Arafat, then chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO].

The Oslo Accords were, of course, the fork in the road – one leading to reconciliation with the Jews – which was not taken by the Palestinians.

The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza was a test that Ariel Sharon set for the Palestinians. It came some four years after Arab terrorists connected with al Qaeda hijacked American jetliners and ploughed them into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, as well as an attempt, presumably on the Capitol, that forced down by the plane's passengers onto a field in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. While much of the world recoiled in horror, seeing pictures of death and devastation wrought by the hijackers that morning of September 11, 2001, there were those in the Muslim world who celebrated. The Palestinians were among them, distributing sweets as if a great victory had been won. The Israelis were nevertheless willing to go forward on a path that promised an eventual settlement between Jews and Arabs [Palestinians] on the principle of two states in Palestine – the original intent of the UN partition plan for the territory, which the Arabs had rejected, in November 1947.

However, before such a plan was consummated, a period of trust was needed – so Israel's prime minister at the time, Ariel Sharon, reasoned – in which Palestinians would demonstrate, in both words and deeds, their desire to build a flourishing "Singapore on the Mediterranean," and acceptance of the Jews and Israel after over half-century of rejectionism and war.

Gaza was handed over to Palestinians as a test for building trust between the two peoples, and of turning the page that had come to stain a history that could have been so different.

Nothing is foreordained, or carved in stone, that cannot be altered, for ultimately all that matter in human history is mediated through and negotiated by men. It is well to remember what William James, an American philosopher, wrote, "Everything we know and are is through men. We have no revelation but through men."

Jews, many of whom had never left the land, had sought the return of more of their people to Palestine after two millennia of exile; that such a return could be realized after the catastrophe of World War I, which had brought Britain and France as allies to take possession of lands that had been part of the Ottoman Empire until its defeat in 1918 was, perhaps, a fluke of history.

Jews had ancestral claims that anyone familiar with the Bible could not deny. Similarly, anyone familiar with the Quran also could not deny the history of Jews in Palestine. The land between the Mediterranean and the two rivers of Mesopotamia -- including the Arabian Peninsula -- that was ruled as a Caliphate by Ottoman Sultans until 1918, was vast enough to accommodate the nationalist demands and destiny of both Arabs and Jews.

The defeat of the Ottoman Empire, however, and the accompanying political realignment in the region was required to fulfill the Zionist goal, or the Jewish aspiration, for statehood – an aspiration that was neither unique nor to be faulted

Even before this time, Jews had sought reconciliation with Arabs. In 1917 Chaim Weizmann, the Zionist leader, travelled to northernmost point of the Red Sea, Aqaba, which had been taken from the Turks by the Arab warriors loyal to Prince Feisal, and led by T.E. Lawrence, in a campaign that was part of the "Arab revolt" against Ottoman rule.

Chaim Weizmann, a Zionist leader and future President of Israel (L), meets with Emir Feisal in 1918.

Weizmann came to meet with Prince Feisal, son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca and the putative leader of Arabs, who was nurturing his own aspiration for a revived Arab kingdom. Weizmann and Prince Feisal would meet again in London in December 1918 ahead of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. These meetings were an effort to find good will on both sides so that what Britain had committed to both the Arabs and Jews in documents – the McMahon-Hussein correspondence of 1915-16 and the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 – might be amicably settled.

It was not to be. The Arabs were not prepared then, as they are not prepared even now, to recognize the Jews – the "other" – as being equal. The Jews also thought they had their own legitimate rights to statehood, which could not be denied on either a religious and political or a moral basis.

It is this denial of the "other," the refusal to recognize that the "other" also has equally legitimate rights and claims in history, which has made the history of Arabs and Muslims in dealing with "others" – regardless of whether the "others" are ethnically or religiously different – a hideous travesty right into our time. 

This history, with its ancient tribal roots, is unfolding right before our eyes as Islamist warriors or "jihadis" rampage across the lands of the Fertile Crescent, and as tribal wars with modern weaponry consume Arabs and Muslims. Ancient animosities of Sunni-Shi'a sectarianism are revived and minorities, such as the Christians in Iraq and Syria with their history going back to the time of the Apostles, appear doomed in the face of the whirlwind of Islamist bigotry sweeping across the region.

This denial of the "other" also makes any claim of moral righteousness, or historical justice by Arabs and Muslims sound specious and self-serving. When Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, goes public in stating that the actions of the Israeli government, in dealing with the indiscriminate firing of rockets from Gaza by Hamas, exceed Hitler in barbarism, what we have is a demonstration of how unhinged Muslim leaders have become – or have been for a very long time – when it comes to understanding the history of the "other."

In the instance of the Turkish leader, the unhinged nature of his remarks directed against Israel is compounded by the knowledge of how the Turks at the beginning of the last century carried out the destruction of the Armenian minority within the Ottoman Empire, now known as the "Armenian genocide," and which the Turkish republic refuses to acknowledge despite irrefutable evidence and the passage of time.

The same cannot be said about the Jews.

The Jews – as a people with a history that might be described as the "mother of history of the Semitic people" – have consistently recognized the "other" as they sought recognition from "others" of their own rights.

Arabs and Muslims need only to read sincerely the Quran, which they believe is God's Word, to find for themselves how clearly the history of Jews has been laid forth in their sacred text. Sincerity of reading, however, requires as a prerequisite a cleansing of the heart. The Quran states, "Not blind are the eyes, but blind are the hearts within the breasts" [22:46]. In other words, without a heart illuminated by sincerity, any strivings for peace and justice – as Arabs and Muslims claim their struggle against Jews amount to – is not only a futile exercise but also making a mockery of what is sought by denying the same respect to the "other."

In his recent column for the National Post under the heading "The unlikely Jewish Goliath," George Jonas concluded, "Jews were People of the Book, and Arabs were Desert Warriors." Circumstances of modern times turned Jews into warriors defending their rights, even as their right to defend themselves is scorned by Arabs and Muslims while they raze towns and villages of "others" whom they denounce as infidels or worse.

In the broader perspective of culture and history, George Jonas's observation sums up the problem and the dilemma of the Jews embattled by Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims on all sides. The Quran itself states repeatedly that Jews are the original "people of the Book" (ahl al kitab) among the people described as Semite by race or language. What might this mean from our perspective looking back from the perch of the twenty-first century?

I would offer that to be a "people of the Book" means to be a people striving towards freedom and justice by the means of intellect, through reasoning, reflection, introspection, questioning – indeed, always questioning – never acquiescing to authority merely because authority is claimed, but with no reason. This questioning would include even with God, as with Jacob wrestling (metaphorically) with God, and without abandoning human dignity.

The reverse of the "people of the Book" would then mean to remain unquestioningly tied to one's tribe, to be driven by instinct instead of intellect, to inflate the warrior code and prohibit reasoning as "treasonous" to the culture of the tribe.

Across the Arab-Muslim world there is the stultifying absence of what it means to be a "people of the Book," of a culture that progresses through criticism and self-examination. The Quran came to be worshipped by Muslims instead of being read, examined, reflected upon, contextualized, and discussed openly with the understanding that God's Word is infinite in meaning.

The Quran states, "If all the trees of the earth were pens and the oceans ink, with many more oceans replenishing them, the colloquy of God would never come to an end." [31:27] This verse means –almost as a warning for Muslims – that no one Muslim should absurdly claim he has a monopoly over its reading, for that would amount to reducing the majesty of God to the smallness of man.

The Quran was, nevertheless, turned by a significant number of Muslims into a weapon by which to kill, maim, destroy, enslave others and, most ironically, effectively to prevent the development of a culture of books or, in other words, a culture of enlightenment. Absent this culture of enlightenment, what the world finds among Arabs and Muslims is a culture of envy, of denial, of resentment, of bigotry that keeps bubbling into intermittent warfare for settling, if only temporarily, disputes that are readily rekindled into an endless round of maiming and killing while blaming "others" for the continued travesty.

Under these circumstances there is just about nothing that Jews, as "people of the Book," can do to assuage Arabs and Muslims, to make peace with Palestinians, except defend themselves as effectively as they must from the absurdity and malice of a people who have turned God's Word into a cult of death.

For Muslims, or enough of them, have sealed their hearts, plugged their ears, blinded their eyes so that they may continue heedlessly in the path of ruin they have chosen; and those Muslims who question the sheer imbecility of such conduct are then threatened as apostates and heretics.

And then there are those in the West who cheer the Palestinians on in their destructive path, with false arguments of morality, victimhood, human rights, and heedless of historical rights of Jews – and insisting that Jews should not do what they themselves would do in a similar situation, faced with never-ending abuse and violence.

Yet behind the supposed "cycle of violence" that darkens the land where prophets walked and preached God's Word, the promise of peace through reconciliation is ever-present. This was evident when Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt, in November 1977 visited Jerusalem with a sincerity of purpose in his quest for peace. All of Israel came to a stop to welcome Sadat as Menachem Begin, Israel's prime minister, received him. There was the return of Sinai by Israel in exchange for durable peace with Egypt, and which Cairo has maintained to this day.

But with Yasser Arafat there was the dearth of sincerity in his professions of peace, and it also remains missing with Palestinians refusing to recognize the Jews, as the "other," with rights of their own, the denial of which only means the unwillingness of Palestinians to make peace.

For myself, despite the pain and the fury of the battle across Gaza, I treasure the sweet memory of visiting Jerusalem. It was a Saturday evening, just before the ending of the Jewish Shabbat, when I walked down Jaffa Street to the Old City quarters to say my evening prayers at the Dome of the Rock. Later, under a bright moon I headed for the Western Wall, and there among my Jewish brothers absorbed in their own prayers I stood beside the Wall, recited a few verses from the Quran and prayed for peace for all of God's children. I then spent the better part of the evening sitting in the plaza of the Western Wall absorbing the sound all around me of a people joyously celebrating the rituals of their faith. I remember earlier that evening when I sought to enter the Temple Mount and head for the Dome of the Rock, I was stopped by Palestinian security guards and required to prove to them that I am a Muslim by reciting some verses from the Quran, which I did.

But in making my way to the Western Wall, I went through the Israeli security at the entrance into the plaza without any questioning or anyone taking any suspicious notice of me. This came as a relief and a sign, I felt, that at a place of prayers as sacred as the Western Wall, any pilgrim sincere in seeking reconciliation with the "other" should also be sincere in striving for God's Word to illuminate his heart. The rest then follows as easily as breathing.

If only the Arabs and Muslims would turn away from being Desert Warriors and learn to be a People of the Book, praying at the Western Wall would be as easy and uplifting for them as praying in Dome of the Rock -- while setting aside yesterdays' quarrels in celebrating the peace that comes through reconciliation with the "other." 

As I walked away from the Western Wall I recognized, almost as a certainty, the Jews still waiting for the Palestinians, and Arabs and Muslims to recognize them as the "other," with fears and hopes in their hearts not different from ours. With such a recognition there would be reconciliation, and an end to so many absurd quarrels.

That these quarrels persist, that the sound of battle is louder than the call to prayer, mean – in the impenetrable logic and animus of Hamas and their supporters among Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims – that endless warfare with the Jews is still taken as preferable to reconciling and living together with them in peace.

"Moderate" Abbas chooses radicalism

From Gatestone Institute, July 24, 2014, by Khaled Abu Toameh:

Until recently, Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas was very critical of Hamas and Islamic Jihad for their refusal to accept the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire with Israel.
But now Abbas appears to have made a 180-degree turn and has even endorsed the conditions of Hamas and Islamic Jihad for a cease-fire.

The shift in Abbas's position became evident after he visited Doha, Qatar, where he held separate talks with Emir Tamim bin Thani al-Hamad and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.

Prior to his visit to Doha, Abbas was in Cairo, where he met with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and discussed with him ways of ending the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

During his visit to Cairo, Abbas repeated his call for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to accept the Egyptian cease-fire plan. However, the visit to Qatar appears to have changed Abbas, who has now openly endorsed the conditions of the two groups and is no longer talking about the Egyptian proposal as the only plan on the table.

Mahmoud Abbas (r) meets with the Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar, July 20, 2014. (Image source: Handout from the Palestinian Authority President's Office/Thaer Ghanem)

...So what brought about the sudden shift in Abbas's stance toward the war in the Gaza Strip?

One reason could be growing resentment among Palestinians of Abbas and his top officials in the West Bank for their failure to "side with their people" against the Israeli "aggression."

For the first time since the eruption of the war, Palestinians in the West Bank have taken to the streets to condemn Abbas strongly as a "traitor" and demand his removal from power. In some Palestinian cities, Palestinian policemen used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse Palestinians demonstrating against both Israel and the PA leadership.

Evidently, Abbas has reached the conclusion that unless he hurries up and declares his support for the Palestinian "resistance" groups in the Gaza Strip, his people will march on his office and force him to quit.

That prospect is probably why Abbas decided this week to send his wife and grandchildren to stay at the family's residence in Amman, Jordan. According to various reports, members of Abbas's families left Ramallah "secretly" and headed for Jordan amid increased criticism of the Palestinian Authority president.

Witnesses said that security has been intensified around the home and office of Abbas in Ramallah out of concern for his safety.

Abbas's fear of a Palestinian revolt against his regime has driven him into the open arms of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Another reason for the unexpected change in Abbas's policy could be related to a promise he received from Qatar [the largest funder of Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas] to provide the Palestinian Authority with financial aid. 

If true, this would strain relations between Abbas and al-Sisi, who is despised by Qatar...

Abbas has chosen to be on the side of the Palestinian "resistance" against Israel....  if he wants to survive, he will have to be on the side of the radicals. Moderate statements and policies have only gotten him into trouble.

Stage three looms: systematic destruction of Hamas’s military assets across Gaza

From JPost, 25 July 2014, by YAAKOV LAPPIN:

Following the entry of ground forces, next up in the IDF's campaign in Gaza, if the military should launch it, will be the systematic destruction of Hamas’s military assets across the Strip. Gaza

Givati brigade in Gaza Photo: IDF SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE

From the moment it was launched, Operation Protective Edge has been a gradual effort, designed to extinguish Palestinian mass rocket attacks through a carefully planned deterioration of Hamas’s strategic position.

The first phase – intensive air strikes on rocket launchers, weapons-production centers and command-and-control centers – was followed by the second stage, the entry of ground forces and their highly complex and challenging task of destroying Hamas’s tunnel network.

But Hamas’s leadership structure – Khaled Mashaal in Qatar and Ismail Haniyeh (head of the political wing) and Muhammad Deif (commander of the military wing) in Gaza have taken the decision to continue to confront Israel.

By doing so, the leaders are inviting Israel to launch the third phase of the offensive, and to lose any control of when Israel ceases its large-scale military offensive against Hamas and Islamic Jihad. 

Hamas has lost more than half of its rocket arsenal through Israeli air strikes and depletion from its own use. Should Israel launch its third phase, deterrence will become a secondary goal, and the IDF will be instructed to attack and destroy Hamas’s military assets all over Gaza.

Although the targets of such a phase are unknown, it would not be unreasonable to assume they would include Hamas’s senior military leadership structure, the remainder of its weapons factories and rocket stockpiles, regime buildings, Hamas posts, and large swaths of its territorial divisions and battalions.

That would necessitate a deeper presence of ground forces inside Gaza, and a further, controlled escalation of the conflict.

Hamas could hope to stay on its feet and be able to fire rockets until the last day of the war, thereby claiming a hollow “victory.” But that assumption ignores the very real possibility that Hamas’s military wing may be dismembered by the end of the conflict.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The attack on Hamas comes by Saudi Royal Appointment.

From Huffington Post, 20 July 2014, by David Hearst:

There are many hands behind the Israeli army's onslaught on [Hamas]. 

America is not unhappy that Hamas is getting such a beating. ...

Nor is Egypt overcome with grief. Its foreign minister Sameh Shoukry held Hamas responsible for civilian deaths after their rejection of the ceasefire.

Neither matter to Netanyahu as much as the third undeclared partner in this unholy alliance, for neither on their own could give him the cover he needs for a military operation of this ferocity. And that can come not from a handwringing but impotent parent like the US. Such permission can only come from a brother Arab.

The attack on Gaza comes by Saudi Royal Appointment. 
This royal warrant is nothing less than an open secret in Israel, and both former and serving defense officials are relaxed when they talk about it. Former Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz surprised the presenter on Channel 10 by saying Israel had to specify a role for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the demilitarization of Hamas. Asked what he meant by that, he added that Saudi and Emirati funds should be used to rebuild Gaza after Hamas had been defanged.

Amos Gilad, the Israeli defense establishment's point man with Mubarak's Egypt and now director of the Israeli defense ministry's policy and political-military relations department told the academic James Dorsey recently : 
"Everything is underground, nothing is public. But our security cooperation with Egypt and the Gulf states is unique. This is the best period of security and diplomatic relations with the Arab."
The celebration is mutual. King Abdullah let it be known that he had phoned President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to approve of an Egyptian ceasefire initiative which had not been put to Hamas...

Mossad and Saudi intelligence officials meet regularly: The two sides conferred when the former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was about to be deposed in Egypt and they are hand in glove on Iran, both in preparing for an Israel strike over Saudi airspace and in sabotaging the existing nuclear program. There has even been a well sourced claim that the Saudis are financing most of Israel's very expensive campaign against Iran.

Why do Saudi Arabia and Israel make such comfortable bedfellows? For decades each country has had a similar feeling in their gut when they look around them: fear. Their reaction was similar. Each felt they could only insure themselves against their neighbors by invading them (Lebanon, Yemen) or by funding proxy wars and coups (Syria, Egypt, Libya).They have enemies or rivals in common - Iran, Turkey, Qatar, Hamas in Gaza, and the Muslim Brotherhood. And they have common allies, too - the US and British military industrial establishments, Fatah strongman and US asset Mohammed Dahlan who tried to take over Gaza once, and will probably be at hand when next required.

The difference today is that for the first time in their two countries' history, there is open co-ordination between the two military powers. Abdullah's nephew Prince Turki has been the public face of this rapprochement, which was first signaled by the Saudi publication of a book by an Israeli academic. The prince flew to Brussels in May to meet General Amos Yadlin, the former intelligence chief who has been indicted by a court in Turkey for his role in the storming of the Mavi Marmara.

It could be argued that there is nothing sinister about Prince Turki's wish to overcome ancient taboos that his motives are both peaceful and laudable. The prince is a staunch supporter of a ...peace initiative proposed by the Saudi King Abdullah. 
... Prince Turki's promotion of the Arab Peace Initiative comes at the cost of abandoning the kingdom's historical support of Palestinian resistance.

The well connected Saudi analyst Jamal Khashogji made this very point when he talked in coded language about the number of intellectuals who attack the notion of resistance:
... the number of such intellectuals here in Saudi Arabia is higher than average. If such a trend continues it will destroy the kingdom's ...claim to support and defend the Palestinian cause ...
Peace would indeed be welcome to everyone, not least Gaza at the moment...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Obama to the rescue – of the Islamists

From JPost, 23 July 2014, by Caroline Glick:

Operation Protective Edge is now two weeks old. Since the ground offensive began Thursday night, we have begun to get a better picture of just how dangerous Hamas has become in the nine years since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip. And what we have learned is that the time has come to take care of this problem. It cannot be allowed to fester or grow anymore.

We have known for years that tunnels were a central component of Hamas’s logistical infrastructure.

What began as the primary means of smuggling weapons, trainers and other war material from Hamas’s sponsors abroad developed rapidly into a strategic tool of offensive warfare against Israel.

As we have seen from the heavily armed Hamas commando squads that have infiltrated into Israel from tunnels since the start of the current round of warfare, the first goal of these offensive tunnels is to deploy terrorists into Israel to massacre Israelis.

But the tunnels facilitate other terror missions as well.

Israel has found tunnels with shafts rigged with bombs located directly under Israeli kindergartens.

If the bombs had gone off, the buildings above would have been destroyed, taking the children down with them.

Other exposed shafts showed Hamas’s continued intense interest in hostage taking. In 2006 the terrorists who kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Schalit entered Israel and returned to Gaza through such a tunnel.

Today the presence of sedatives and multiple sets of handcuffs for neutralizing hostages found in tunnel after tunnel indicate that Hamas intends to abduct several Israelis at once and spirit them back to Gaza.

In an interview with Channel 2 Monday evening, Minister Naftali Bennett spoke of a mother at Kibbutz Netiv Ha’asara who told him that her children wake her in the middle of the night and tell her that they hear digging beneath their beds.

As Bennett said, this state of affairs simply cannot continue. People cannot live in fear that there are terrorists burrowing beneath their homes, digging tunnels to murder or kidnap them.

These tunnels must be found and destroyed not merely because they constitute a physical danger to thousands of Israelis. They must be located and destroyed, and Hamas’s capacity to rebuild them must be eliminated because the very idea that they exist makes a normal life impossible for those immediately threatened.

Hamas’s tunnels are also the key component of their command and control infrastructure inside Gaza.

Hamas’s political and military commanders are hiding in them. The reinforced bunkers and tunnel complexes enable Hamas’s senior leadership to move with relative freedom and continue planning and ordering attacks.

The sophistication of the tunnels and the malign intentions of Hamas are not in the least surprising.

But Hamas’s rapid advances in both tunnel and missile technology are deeply worrisome. At a minimum, they indicate that if it is allowed to end the current round of fighting as a coherent, relatively well-armed terrorist army, Hamas will be able to rapidly rebuild and expand its capabilities.

As a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas is not a stand-alone terror group. It is part of a much larger web of Islamic jihadist terror groups including al-Qaida and its affiliates as well as the Shi’ite Hezbollah. Like Hamas, all of these threaten several major Sunni Arab states.

Due to their recognition of the threat Hamas and its allies pose to the survivability of their regimes, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have taken the unprecedented step of supporting Israel’s efforts to defeat Hamas.

They understand that a decisive Israeli blow against Hamas in Gaza will directly benefit them. Not only will Hamas be weakened, but its state sponsors and terrorist comrades will be weakened as well.

Presently, Hamas’s most outspoken state sponsors are Qatar and Turkey.

As Israel’s Calcalist newspaper reported earlier this week, Qatar is Hamas’s biggest and most important financier, a role it plays as well for ISIS, al Nusra, the Muslim Brotherhood and various jihadist groups in Libya.

Turkey for its part is aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Like Qatar, Turkey has also been a major supporter of ISIS and al Nusra, as well as Hamas. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s slander against Israel has grown so hysterical in recent weeks that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has been trying to downplay Turkey’s animosity, called him out on his open anti-Semitism.

By Tuesday morning, IDF forces in Gaza had destroyed 23 tunnels. The number of additional tunnels is still unknown.

While Israel had killed 183 terrorists, it appeared that most of the terrorists killed were in the low to middle ranks of Hamas’s leadership hierarchy.

Hamas’s senior commanders, as well as its political leadership have hunkered down in hidden tunnel complexes.

In other words, Israel is making good progress.

But it hasn’t completed its missions. It needs several more days of hard fighting.

Recognizing this, Israel’s newfound Muslim allies have not been pushing for a cease-fire.

In contrast, the Obama administration is insisting on concluding a cease-fire immediately.

As Israel has uncovered the scope of Hamas’s infrastructure of murder and terror, the US has acted with the UN, Turkey and Qatar to pressure Israel (and Egypt) to agree to a cease-fire and so end IDF operations against Hamas before the mission is completed.

To advance this goal, US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Monday night with an aggressive plan to force on Israel a cease-fire Hamas and its state sponsors will accept.

As former ambassador to the US Michael Oren told the media, it is clear that neither Israel nor Egypt invited Kerry to come over. Their avoidance of Kerry signals clearly that the US’s two most important allies in the Middle East do not trust US President Barack Obama’s intentions.

And their distrust is entirely reasonable.

The State Department has openly applauded Turkey and Qatar for their involvement in attempts to achieve a cease-fire. Last week Israeli officials alleged that the US was responsible for Hamas’s rejection of the Egyptian cease-fire proposal. By attempting to coerce Egypt to accept Qatar and Turkey as its partners in mediation, Obama signaled to Hamas’s leaders that they should hold out for a better deal.

Due to Turkey’s membership in NATO and the glamour of the Qatari royal family, many Westerners find it hard to believe that they are major sponsors of terrorism. But it is true. Turkey and Qatar are playing a double game.

While sending his ambassador to Brussels for NATO meetings, Erdogan has been transforming Turkey from an open, pro-Western society allied with Israel into a closed, anti-Semitic and anti-American society that sponsors Hamas, ISIL, al Nusra and other terrorists groups.

As for Qatar, the tiny natural gas superpower presents itself to Americans as their greatest ally in the Muslim world. The emirate gives hundreds of millions of dollars to US universities to open campuses in Doha and pretends it is a progressive, open society, replete with debating societies.

Qatar hosts three major US military bases on its territory. And it is becoming one of the most important clients for US military contractors. Earlier this year Qatar signed an $11.4 billion dollar arms agreement with the US.

At the same time, according to the Calacalist report, Qatar is the major bankroller of ISIS and al Nusra in Syria and Iraq. It gives $50 million a month to jihadists in Libya. It gives Hamas $100m. in annual aid. And in the past two years Doha has provided Hamas with an additional $620m. dollars, including $250m. it transferred to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s personal bank account, and $350m. in military aid to Hamas, transferred after the Egyptian military forced the Muslim Brotherhood government from power last July.

Add to that the $100m. per year that Qatar pours into Al Jazeera’s satellite network – which has dedicated itself to undermining pro-Western Arab regimes while popularizing the likes of al-Qaida and Hamas, and Qatar is the largest financier of international jihad in the world.

Rather than notice that Qatar and Turkey are playing a double game, and treat them with suspicion, the Obama administration has embraced them.

Chances that Kerry will secure a cease-fire in the near future are small. In all likelihood, the government will be able to buy the time necessary to complete the mission in whole or large part. But the fact that the US has chosen at this juncture in the operation – with Israel enjoying unprecedented support from the most important Sunni states in the region – to side with Hamas and its state sponsors in their demand for an immediate cease-fire speaks volumes about the transformation of US foreign policy under Obama’s leadership.