Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spare Us Your Irrelevant Liberal Critique of Israel

From Commentary Magazine, 21 July 2014, by Jonathan S. Tobin:

... After being forced into a war that the overwhelming majority of people here understand is one about their survival and not the political issues that divide Jews, it’s little wonder that most Israelis pay little attention to their country’s foreign detractors who seek to save them from themselves. People who claim to care about the Jewish state need to draw similar conclusions.

The contrast between the support for the efforts of the Israel Defense Forces to attack Hamas’s rocket launchers and terrorist tunnel network in Gaza that is exhibited by most Israelis and the outrage that these efforts at self-defense have generated elsewhere is hard to ignore. 

Israelis understand the current conflict has nothing to do with arguments about settlements or borders. You don’t have to be a supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or those of pro-settlement critics on the right here to understand that Hamas and its sympathizers don’t care where Israel’s borders should be drawn.

Nor is there any real debate about the impact of a Palestinian political culture in which even the supposed moderates applaud terrorism and treat those who slaughter Jews as heroes. The point of the terrorist fortress in Gaza that the Israel Defense Forces is trying to disarm if not dismantle is to serve as the base for an ongoing war against the existence of the Jewish state. The choice of Hamas’s leaders to deliberately sacrifice as many of their own people as possible in order to protect their terrorist infrastructure has not been lost on Israelis.

Nor has it escaped their notice that the whole point of the massive investment in rockets and infiltration tunnels by the government of a district mired in poverty is to produce as many Jewish casualties as possible regardless of the impact such actions may have on the safety or the quality of life of Palestinians.

Just as important is the ugly anti-Semitic tone of much of the protests that have been mounted against Israel’s counter-attacks against Hamas in Gaza. Simply put, much of the world seems to think that Hamas has a “right” to shoot thousands of rockets at Israeli cities or to launch cross-border terror raids aimed at kidnapping or killing as many Jews as possible and that the Jewish state has no right to defend itself against these actions–even if they go to great lengths (as the Israel Defense Forces do as a matter of course) to avoid hurting the civilians that the Islamists use as human shields.

The general invective against Zionism being heard on the streets of Europe’s cities and even in the U.S. protests against Israel is of a piece with the tone of Hamas’s talking points. The solidarity these demonstrators are expressing for the “resistance” against the “occupation”–a term by which they mean all of Israel and not just the West Bank or the Hamas-run independent Palestinian state in all but name in Gaza–also makes plain the nature of the struggle.

Even those who support a two-state solution that would entail an Israeli withdrawal from most or all of the West Bank must now comprehend that their dislike of the settlements or the desire to satisfy the Palestinian ambition for sovereignty can’t ignore the fact that the debate about these ideas is entirely moot while the rockets are flying and terrorists are tunneling beneath the border in hope of emerging inside Israel to slaughter innocents. In this context of hate and violence, the only real points of contention are whether you support the survival of the Jewish state or not.

That is why the energy expended by so many American liberals on behalf of projects designed to pressure Israel’s government to make more concessions to the Palestinians is not merely wrongheaded. It’s utterly irrelevant to the realities of both the Middle East and the global resurgence of anti-Semitism. Groups such as J Street that are predicated on the notion that Israel must be saved from itself by principled liberal critics are treated as both serious and representative of Jewish opinion by the mainstream media. But that group has little to say about the current conflict that requires our notice. Nor are its efforts to distinguish itself from far more radical anti-Zionist groups that openly support efforts to isolate Israel economically and support protests against its right of self defense of any importance any longer.

At this moment it is no longer possible to pretend that the conflict can be wished away by Israeli concessions that would, if implemented, create another 20 Gazas in the West Bank. Nor can one rationally argue that more Israeli forbearance toward Hamas in Gaza and a less vigorous effort to take out its vast system of tunnels shielding its rocket arsenal and terror shock troops would bring the region closer to peace when the only way to give that cause a chance is predicated on the elimination of Hamas.

If, at some point in the indefinite future, the Palestinians turn on Hamas and its less radical allies and embrace a national identity that is not inextricably linked to Israel’s elimination, perhaps then we can resume the debate about settlements and borders that J Street craves. But until that unlikely event happens, it is imperative that Americans realize that the J Street critique of Israel that is often echoed by some in the Obama administration and throughout the left is over.

The only question to be asked today is whether you stand with Israel’s right to defend itself or not. Jews and others who consider themselves friends of the Jewish state must find the courage to speak up for the justice of Israel’s cause in the current crisis against the forces of hate. Viewed from the perspective of the last week’s events here in Israel, anything else is a waste of time.

Best friends of Hamas: Qatar and Turkey

From theguardian.com, Sunday 20 July 2014:

[Synopsis: Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are hostile to Hamas and are probably very happy to see Israel destroy the organisation; while Qatar and Turkey are Hamas's best friends in the region.]

International efforts to secure a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip are focusing on the Gulf state of Qatar, whose close links to Hamas make it uniquely placed to try to mediate in a conflict that has highlighted Arab divisions...

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, was flying to Doha at the start of a round of emergency talks ... Ban was due to meet the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani [friend and financier to Hamas leader Khakled Mishal; and owner of Al-Jazeera], and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and head of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.

It was unclear whether Ban would also see the Hamas leader, Khaled Mishal, who lives in Doha.

Mishal and Abbas were due to meet separately.

Ban is also due in Cairo on Monday to see President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi, author of a rival ceasefire plan that has already been rejected by Hamas...

Khaled al-Attiyeh, Qatar's foreign minister, has emerged as a key figure in the ceasefire effort, not least because he is close to John Kerry, the US secretary of state....

Qatar's role as mediator is being enhanced because of the deep hostility of the Egyptian government to Hamas, which has close links to the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood....

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia – a staunch backer of Sisi, and another sworn enemy of Hamas and other Islamist movements -– said at the weekend that he supported Cairo's proposals.

Qatar's efforts are being supported by Turkey, which is also close to Hamas. Qatar is said to be calling for an international conference to promote the ceasefire effort and to raise funds for reconstruction in Gaza.

Ban is also scheduled to visit Kuwait, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman. Jordan ...is [also] hostile to Hamas....

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Goldstone Effect

From  The Times of Israel, 20 July 2014, by Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor:

From the first day (July 8) of Israel’s response to renewed and deadly rocket attacks from Gaza, the network of highly politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) went into high gear. As in previous conflicts, powerful global groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Oxfam, allied with numerous Israeli and Palestinian organizations claiming human rights agendas, are issuing numerous condemnations, primarily directed at Israel. And once again, their reports and statements are quoted by political leaders and journalists without any independent examination, reinforcing existing biases and false allegations, and fuelling hate and violence.

Human Rights Watch, whose leaders have a long history of personal animosity, double-standards and false claims regarding Israel, repeated their accusations of “war crimes,” unlawful attacks and “targeting apparent civilian structures and killing civilians in violation of the laws of war.” These claims are invented and inconsistent with legal foundations and HRW positions in other conflict regions around the world – these attacks on Israel are unique. And while HRW bases its factual claims on “investigations” in Gaza, it is clear that the organization has no such capability.  

In sharp contrast, as in the previous Gaza conflicts and the 2006 Lebanon War, the NGO network that claims to promote moral agendas has largely and patronizingly ignored Palestinian terror, and the massive tunnels and thousands of rockets acquired by Hamas, stored in homes, schools (including those run by the UN), mosques and hospitals. Every missile located among civilians and every attack against Israeli cities constitutes a war crime, but these are not part of the NGO network’s warped definition of human rights.

Groups like Oxfam and the War on Want (UK), whose objectives are ostensibly focused on providing humanitarian aid worldwide, blame Israeli restrictions and “collective punishment” for the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza. Yet these organizations never mention the fact that most of the resources, including cement, sent to Gaza are exploited by Hamas and Islamic Jihad for tunnels and to protect missiles that were acquired in order to kill Israelis.

Among Israeli groups, B’tselem has been particularly active in this round of political warfare. The NGO, with an annual budget of NIS 9 million, provided by donors such as the New Israel Fund and European governments, has issued numerous press releases, statements, and social media posts repeatedly accusing Israel of “unlawful” actions, and “illegal bombing.” Like HRW, B’tselem refers to its “investigations,” although the group has no such independent capability, and instead simply repeats unverifiable “testimonies” from Hamas-controlled Gaza. B’tselem, like HRW and Amnesty, has no way of determining whether the IDF is striking entirely legitimate military targets, whether the force used is proportionate to the military necessity, or the real number of civilian casualties in Gaza.

Other Israel-based NGOs making similar unsupported allegations include Adalah, Gisha, Breaking the Silence, Coalition of Woman for Peace, and the +972 blog. All receive funding from European governments, including the European Union and many of its member states, such as Germany, Holland, Belgium, Spain and the UK. The money channeled from European governments to these highly politicized NGOs – usually provided through highly secretive processes used to block independent democratic oversight – enables the Israel-based NGO network to contribute substantially to the exploitation of human rights for political warfare. Thus, while a number of European leaders are calling for restraint and seeking to play a role in cease-fire negotiations, the money that their governments provide via the NGOs is contributing substantially to the conflict.

A third group of NGOs involved in this process are Christian aid groups with a long history of anti-Israel campaigning, including Diakonia (Sweden), the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Caritas Jerusalem (Catholic), and Sabeel. All repeat the standard accusations against Israel, adding a strong religious dimension to the political attacks.

This strategy of using NGOs that operate under the umbrella of human rights and humanitarian aid to condemn Israel was spelled out at the infamous 2001 UN Durban Conference. The first implementation took place in April 2002, during the IDF Operation Defensive Shield against the center of operations for the mass suicide bombings that had taken hundreds of Israeli lives, and injured many more. The NGO network – particularly Human Rights Watch and Amnesty — along with Palestinian officials, promoted the false allegation of a Jenin “massacre” and “war crimes”, and campaigned for the creation of a highly biased UN investigation. These campaigns were used to launch the academic boycott movement in the UK, and the wider anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) efforts.

The height of this process was the 2009 Goldstone Report – a 500 page document, which claimed to provide extensive evidence of Israeli human rights violations and “war crimes” during the Gaza conflict (Operation Cast Lead) that began on December 28 2008. This UN publication extensively referenced B’tselem, Amnesty, HRW, and many other NGOs. Although the entire report was later discredited, and Judge Goldstone acknowledged that the NGO-based allegations were unsupported, the impact, in terms of fueling boycotts and “lawfare” cases against Israeli officials, continues.

Nevertheless, during the current conflict, the same NGOs are again promoting the “war crimes” theme, and this form of the modern anti-Semitic blood libel is repeated in violent protests, particularly in Europe. Nothing seems to have been learned from the mistakes of the past, as these organizations and their funder-enablers continue to erode the very universal principles of human rights that they claim to uphold.

Terrorist Infliltration Foiled

From Arutz Sheva, 21 July 2014, by Gil Ronen:

Rare video documentation shows terrorists who infiltrated into Israeli territory Monday from northern Gaza, through a tunnel, hiding in grass and being engaged by IDF.

According to initial reports, about ten terrorists entered Israeli territory and split up into two teams. One headed toward Erez and the second toward Nir Am.

An IAF drone eliminated the squad that went toward Erez and a ground force eliminated the squad that turned toward Nir Am after a pitched battle.

Five IDF task forces begin driving into Gaza City. Israel plans for military control of the Gaza Strip

From DEBKAfile, 20 July 2014:

The IDF’s Shejaiya operation in the Gaza Strip continues apace, carried forward by five task forces now heading for the center of Gaza City amid casualties on both sides. 
Sunday, July 20, Israel’s crack Golani Brigades lost 18 fighters, without slowing down, compared with 170 Palestinian fatalities.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that each task force, the size of half a division, is an integrated amalgam of air, armored, artillery and engineering forces, capable of operating almost autonomously in field combat. The buildup of the last 24 hours has expanded Israel's fighting strength in the Gaza Strip to a total of 75,000 men, the largest ever fielded in this territory. Because of its scale, Israeli leaders are referring to Defensive Edge as a war rather than an operation.
The battle for Shejaiya waged Sunday burst into public prominence because of the heavy losses suffered by the Golani Brigades, but it is not the largest engagement underway at present. The other ongoing IDF battles... [are] around Beit Hanoun in the north; Zeitun, south of Gaza City and the Shati refugee camp to the north.
More arenas are scheduled to be added to the list of battle zones Monday.
Rather than causing despondency, the high IDF casualty toll Sunday – the highest in a single engagement since the 2006 Lebanon War – has invigorated the fighting forces in the field, making them more determined than ever to get the better of Hamas with all possible speed.
Whereas their orders on Sunday were to advance warily and slowly, meanwhile testing the strength of Hamas resistance and observing their tactics, the tempo went into high gear at dawn Monday, when the troops were told to speed their advance from the outer fringes of Gaza City into its center.
Their performance in Shejaiya and other engagements Sunday deeply impressed Israel’s war leaders and made them confident enough to step up the rate of advance.
This upbeat mood was evident in the comments made Sunday night by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and, from the field, by Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz. While condoling deeply with the bereaved families of the 18 soldiers who died in combat, they were full of praise for the troops’ performance “in defense of our home” which outdid all expectations.
The following decisions were reached in consequence:
1. Gen. Gantz would stay in the field and lead the forces from there, rather than from staff headquarters in Tel Aviv.
2. The prime minister and defense minister would manage the war, without constant recourse to security cabinet sessions to obtain its approval of every stage of the plan of operation, the final goal of which DEBKAfile has learned, is Israel’s military takeover of the Gaza Strip.
3. As the military operation unfolded, the three war leaders were convinced more than ever that demolishing Hamas’ terror tunnel complex was not optional, any more than wiping out the rocket menace hanging latterly over five million Israelis and, for nearly a decade over the million people living directly in the shadow of the Gaza border. Publicity guidelines were to be built around this conclusion.

International statesmen are flitting busily around regional capitals, including Jerusalem, in search of an opening to broker a ceasefire in Gaza hostilities. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been holding meetings and US Secretary John Kerry will try and reach the Middle East in the coming days... [however] the requisite political and military conditions for a ceasefire are not yet in place because of a number of circumstances, not least of which is Hamas’ refusal to contemplate a halt.

Israel, for its part, is fighting for the first time in its history with solid Arab backing from the Egyptian-Saudi-United Arab Emirates bloc. So determined are its members to obliterate the Muslim Brotherhood that they have virtually blacklisted Qatar for supporting the Brothers and for patronizing the Palestinian Hamas, regarded as the MB’s paramilitary arm.

This rift has put a spoke in the diplomatic effort to set in motion effective mediation for a Gaza ceasefire predicated on co-opting Qatar.
A bid to make Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas the bridge between the Egyptian-Saudi-UAE grouping and Qatar has likewise foundered. And there isn’t much Secretary Kerry can do if and when he comes over to try his hand.
US President Barack Obama’s suggestion, when he called Netanyahu Sunday, to build a new Gaza ceasefire around the 2012 formula concocted by the US, Egypt, Qatar and Turkey - and accepted by Israel and Hamas - for ending Operation Pillar of Defense, shows him to be cut off from the fundamentally altered diplomatic and military realities of the current Gaza conflict.
He declines to recognize the emergence of a powerful new Arab bloc. It will be necessary to twist the arms of each of its members, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE, to gain their consent for a bid to cut the Israeli offensive short to rescue Hamas from defeat. And even then, they will stall.
And although anti-Israel demonstrations are being staged in some parts of the world, the most violent in Paris, hardly any world governments have openly condemned the Israeli operation – as yet.

UNRWA Gives Rockets to Hamas; Why is Us and Europe Still Funding It?

From Commentary Magazine, 20 July 2014, by Evelyn Gordon:

Last week, the UN refugee agency dedicated exclusively to Palestinians admitted that 20 rockets had mysteriously turned up in one of its schools in Gaza, thereby confirming a claim Israel has made for years: that UNRWA facilities are frequently utilized by terrorists. 

This week, the organization announced that it has turned the rockets over to “the local authorities” in Gaza, aka Hamas. 

In other words, a UN agency funded almost entirely by American and European taxpayers handed rockets over to a terrorist organization that is shooting them at Israel. And that isn’t even the most outrageous part of the story.

The truly outrageous part was a Western diplomat’s response, as reported by the Times of Israel:
A Western diplomat familiar with the incident said there is “absolutely no evidence” that UNRWA handed the rockets to Hamas. Rather, the diplomat suggested, the authorities who collected the rockets are under the direct authority of the Palestinian unity government, “which Hamas has left and which many in Hamas are openly hostile to. The key point is that the weapons were handed over to people who are not answerable to Hamas,” the diplomat said, referring to the fact that the unity government, not Hamas, is officially the ruling power in Gaza.
​The idea that the Palestinian Authority, rather than Hamas, is the ruling power in Gaza is risible. True, that’s the ostensible implication of the unity government it recently formed with Hamas, but in reality, the PA doesn’t have a single soldier or policeman in Gaza. When PA Health Minister Jawad Awwad tried to exercise his nominal authority by inspecting Gaza’s hospitals last week, his vehicle was stoned. PA President Mahmoud Abbas hasn’t even dared set foot in Gaza. Egypt has repeatedly said it will reopen its border crossing with Gaza only if Hamas allows the PA to resume control of the crossing–surely a superfluous demand if the PA were already in control of Gaza. And we haven’t even mentioned the glaring internal contradiction in the diplomat’s own words: If Hamas has “left” the unity government, how can the unity government even exist, much less be in control of Gaza?

​Of course, the unnamed diplomat knows all this quite well; nobody who’s been conscious for the past seven years could be ignorant of who really rules Gaza. The diplomat was simply contorting the facts to avoid admitting that UNRWA gave lethal weapons to Hamas–which both America and Europe deem a terrorist organization–because financing an agency that gives arms to terrorists would violate both American and European law. In other words, admitting the truth would require them to stop funding UNRWA, which neither America nor Europe wants to do.

In reality, UNRWA should have been defunded long ago, given both its role in perpetuating the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the fact that its enormous budget comes at the expense of other refugees, like the Syrians, whose need is far greater. But by turning rockets over to Hamas, UNRWA has lost its last shred of pretense to being a “humanitarian” agency. It’s high time for Congress to pull the financial plug.

Warning Civilians is Killing Our Soldiers

From Arutz Sheva, 20 July, by David Rubin, former mayor of Shiloh, Israel:

Is the Israeli army moral or suicidal?  For several years, our political and military leaders have been proudly reciting the national mantra - about the extensive warnings that we give before we attack an enemy. This proclamation is repeated over and over to the world media during our many wars, all to counter the unfair charge that we are excessively harming civilians.

It is now being reported that thirteen Israeli soldiers are dead in the terrorist stronghold of Shejaiya in Gaza, after advance warning was given by the IDF to leave the area because the IDF would be attacking soon. Hamas was well prepared, apparently using the advance notification to plant explosives and to prepare ambushes well ahead of time, thereby putting our soldiers at a disadvantage.

Nobody wants to say the truth, because we know that our political leadership is under heavy pressure from Obama, Kerry, the EU, and the UN, who claim to be concerned about civilian casualties. None of us want to be seen as undermining our prime minister with criticism that will make it difficult for him, but it needs to be said and stated clearly:

The warnings given in advance of attacks- the leaflets dropped from the sky, the text messages, and so on are putting our soldiers in danger. Not only the Gaza Arab civilians get the warning messages, but also the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, and especially their leadership that has been planning for years for this scenario. They exploit our political defensiveness to defeat us militarily by eliminating our deterrence. It's a sophisticated, yet simple game of psychological warfare and they are winning.

Every general in the free world knows that you cannot win a war - even a very justified war like this one -  by essentially giving the enemy 48 hours advance warning to evacuate a bomb factory or to plant booby traps with which to ambush our soldiers. Israel should ignore the private lectures of self-righteous politicians like John Kerry, recently caught off camera blasting Israel for harming civilians, yet publicly spouting empty words referring to our right of self-defense.

The IDF is not an organization of public relations apologists and should only be in the business of winning wars by defeating the enemy - speedily, decisively, and completely. For our political leadership to continue this risky political game of national suicide through pathetic apologetics is a danger to our soldiers and to their ability to win.

We Must Support Israel in Destroying Hamas Tunnels

From PJ Media, 20 July 2014, by Roger L. Simpson:

If you’re looking for a reason for the supposed impoverishment of Gaza, look no further than the maze of tunnels – some of them miles long — Hamas has built under their territory and beyond their borders into Israel.  
It’s the jihadist version of Boston’s “Big Dig.” The construction is so extensive that nearly every able-bodied man must have been employed in the occupation of tunnel-building, not to mention the huge diversion of funds, much of it donated by the West,  for material like concrete originally trucked into Gaza by the Israelis and others for “humanitarian purposes.”
A huge complex is reported to have been built under Gaza City that houses the wealthy Hamas leadership, including Ismail Haniyeh, who is said to be a multi-millionaire. He is undoubtedly a “strong” critic of “income inequality,” along with the Hamas capo di tutti cappi Khaled Meshal, said to be a billionaire and currently residing in a luxury hotel in Qatar safely out of harm’s way.
(For those, like most members of the MSM, who are unaware, Gaza before Hamas was considered one of the more opulent areas of the Arab world and was frequently used by Egyptians as a honeymoon spot.)
Although the tunnels have been employed for smuggling of some consumer goods, their main purpose, of course, was and is transporting and storing arms and killing or kidnapping Israelis. (I was going to be blunt and say “killing Jews,” but Hamas appears not to be quite so discriminating, as they lob missiles over Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron, areas filled with Muslims.  What would happen if one of their missiles hit the Dome of the Rock?  I don’t even want to go there.)
This obsession with tunnel-building, driven as it is by a rancid cocktail of hate and envy leavened with religious fanaticism and the psychotic lust of a death cult, is clearly not commercially productive.  It is also only one aspect of a rapidly metastasizing global phenomenon, replete with beheadings and crucifixions, that is unlikely to end and may only be at its beginning unless someone puts a genuine stop to it.
Obama, Kerry and the rest of the flaccid moral narcissists who govern our country or the creepy disingenuous bureaucrats who represent “the international community” obviously don’t have the gumption to do it — or even the inclination.
Perhaps because it is already a life or death matter for them, the only people with the will or the ability literally to save the precarious civilization we all take for granted are the Israelis.   Israel alone is defending the West.
It’s the duty of all those who support her to be especially vigilant now because the Obama-Kerry-Ban-Ki-Moons will do everything possible to prevent Israel from going further and accomplishing her goals and ultimately try to unravel everything she has accomplished.  They think — or they pretend to themselves in their moral narcissism — that they are doing this for the sake of the Palestinians or the “disadvantaged” in general.  But the reverse is true.  What they do is contemptuous, almost racist, toward the Palestinians and others of Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth” who are not, for the most part, impoverished but are adherents of a belief system entirely different from ours — and quite willing to do anything to make theirs prevail.
The hypocritical moralizing of the Obama-Kerry-Ban-Ki-Moons is about to go into overdrive as they will increasingly accuse the Israelis of over-reacting and harming too many civilians.  Their media Greek chorus will scream out the death count at the top of their lungs , even though the numbers are puny compared to what is happening in Iraq and Syria or even, often enough, on a weekend in Chicago.
They will also all ignore, already having done so in an absolutely disrespectful manner, that the Israeli army does more to avoid civilian casualties than all the armies in the history of the world squared.  I find Obama and Kerry’s pontification about this matter particularly nauseating, considering the American record on civilian deaths via drone attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen is significantly worse than the Israeli.
But most of all, now is the time to get behind the Israeli government and troops with our support.  We need them to finish the job, to keep going until not a single Hamas tunnel is left. That will send a message that will resonate throughout the world. 

And remember — #DefundHamas.

'Hamas leaders are in hotels, not on the battlefield'

From Ynet News, 20 July 2014, by Roi Kais:

... Egyptian insiders told Asharq al-Awsat that Hamas was lying...The same Egyptian sources accused Hamas ... of a series of falsehoods by the leaders of the organization. Nor did these stop there, and attacked in the Hamas leadership in an unprecedented manner.
"While the Hamas leadership is abroad, in Qatar and other places enjoying a comfortable life, holed up in luxury hotels and driving luxury cars, dozens of innocent Palestinians are killed every day...They are bleeding and paying the price for the political and military adventures of the movement's leadership."
...Meanwhile, Hamas is relying on Qatar to act in its favor. A senior Qatari official told Reuters that Doha "will not put any pressure on Hamas to bring down or reduce or change their demands." The source noted that Mahmoud Abbas, who is currently in Qatar, will meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon before the former's meeting with Mashal.

At the same time, Abdulah Bin Bijad Al-Otaibi, a Saudi columnist, wrote Sunday in Asharq al-Awsat  that,
"the killing of children and the elderly is a great crime against humanity... Yet it is odd that throughout those stupid provocations by Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel, we have seen no pictures either of them fighting or of their outposts..."
The only images coming out of the scene of the battle are those civilians, children and the elderly. Where are these brave warriors? Why do we not see them or their destroyed positions in any pictures of the dead?" 

Timeline and Video: Four Deadly Incidents in Gaza

From Arutz Sheva, 20 July 2014, by Gil Ronen:

The IDF has released a timeline of the events early Sunday morning in which 13 soldiers from the Golani Brigade were killed in Gaza.

In the first incident, at 1:05 a.m., an armored personnel carrier caught fire after an explosive device was set off under it. Seven soldiers were killed.

At 1:30 a.m., a soldier was killed when two soldiers got into a firefight with terrorists.

At 5:45 a.m., another Golani force got into a firefight with terrorists. Two soldiers were killed.

At 8:50 a.m., three soldiers were killed when a Golani squad was caught inside a burning building.

The IDF has also released a short video of Golani operations in Gaza.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Israel's Operation Protective Edge is critical to civilian safety

From Arutz Sheva, 20 July 2014, by Ido Ben Porat:

..[the] alternative to ground operation was ‘an Israeli 9/11.’

Ground offensive in Gaza
Ground offensive in Gaza
IDF/Flash 90

Israel’s ongoing defensive operation in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, is critical to civilian safety, Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday.
“The operation is vital, and it is progressing as we planned,” Bennett told Galei Tzahal (Army Radio).

The IDF has uncovered dozens of terrorist tunnels in northern Gaza. Several tunnels led far into Israel. One was used Saturday to attack soldiers in the Negev, killing two.  

The operation’s necessity “goes beyond just the matter of tunnels,” Bennett noted.
“We’re definitely planning the next steps. If it weren’t for the ground operation, we would have woken up one day to an Israeli 9/11...” 
“We’re paying a heavy price, and we will continue to pay a price, but we are preventing very serious attacks on innocent Israeli civilians,” he stated.

Coalition head MK Yariv Levin (Likud) made similar statements Sunday morning. 
"Israel ignored a 'terror fortress' in Gaza that could have led to terrorist attacks with unprecedented civilian casualties..."“The current operation is a war of necessity, there were no other options... The brave soldiers fighting in Gaza are fighting in an operation that is vital to the security of Israel’s citizens.”

IDF Works to Destroy 34 Terror Tunnels

From Arutz Sheva, 19 July, by Tova Dvorin:

Five of the tunnels extend deep into Israel, according to IDF; more than 450 terror targets destroyed.

Terror tunnel discovered by IDF soldiers
Terror tunnel discovered by IDF soldiers
Flash 90
As of Saturday night, the IDF has uncovered 34 terror tunnels, including 5 which extend from Gaza far into Israel, the IDF Spokesperson's Office announced Saturday night.
The tunnels have been neutralized and are in the process of being destroyed, it said.
Seventy terrorists have been killed - including 20 on Saturday alone - and an addition 13 were taken into Israeli custody for questioning after surrendering on Friday.
The IDF has attacked more than 450 terrorist targets since the ground offensive was launched. 
Several of the IDF's elite combat forces are currently in Gaza, including the Paratroopers, Nahal, Givati, Tanks, Engineering Corps, and Special Forces. 
Operation Protective Edge was launched twelve days ago to protect Israel from a constant barrage of rocket fire from Gaza.
Since the beginning of the operation, 1,497 rockets have been launched at major Israeli population centers. Of those, 1,093 rockets hit Israel; 301 were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. An additional 100 were estimated to have hit Gaza itself, causing an untold number of Palestinian Arab deaths. 
The IDF has attacked over 2,037 terror targets - by ground, by air, and by sea. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

13 tunnels and 95 rocket launchers destroyed in Gaza

From Ynet News, 19 July 2014:
The IDF began mobilizing large forces near the Gaza border on Saturday afternoon, for a possible expansion of its ground operation inside the coastal Strip hours after unearthing a series of tunnels believed for suspected use in terror attacks.

Israel sent its ground troops into the area late Thursday night, after the aerial bombardment stage of what it calls Operation Protective Edge failed to halt rocket fire on its southern and central communities. Israel says it has encountered little resistance on the ground so far, and has killed about 20 militants in sporadic gunbattles...

One of the tunnel openings found near a mosque in the Gaza Strip (Photo: IDF Spokesman)
One of the tunnel openings found near a mosque in the Gaza Strip (Photo: IDF Spokesman)

Meanwhile, IDF soldiers in tanks and bulldozers dug in across a mile-wide strip of eastern Gaza on Saturday. The military said its engineers were concentrating on an effective buffer-zone 2.5 km (1.5 mile) wide and were looking to destroy the tunnels dug in secret by Hamas after the last major fighting there in 2012.

The IDF acknowledged that there was a de facto buffer zone in eastern Gaza, but said other military operations continued. IDF Spokesman Brigadier General Moti Almoz also signaled that the forces conducting the unearthing mission would not stay permanently.

IDF spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said 13 tunnels, at least one of them 30 meters deep, and 95 rocket launchers were found and destroyed since the Gaza ground incursion began. The military also said it had thwarted a second infiltration attempt through such a tunnel, killing one militant and forcing the others to return to Gaza. On Saturday morning, a terrorist was killed in the Eshkol region of Israel after infiltating from Gaza.

"We have struck hard on the two main strategic assets of Hamas: the rockets and these tunnels," Lerner said. Searches were continuing in what he described as an open-ended mission that had "severely impeded Hamas capabilities".

"I can't promise that when we leave the territory we will have exposed all of the tunnels," he told Army Radio.

The IDF said Saturday that in 12 days of fighting, it has hit 2,350 targets in Gaza, including 1,100 rocket launchers. Three new entrances to tunnels were uncovered on Saturday, as a senior army source described the harsh blow the IDF has dealt Hamas' tunnels. 

"In less than 24 hours, Hamas lost 13 tunnels and the IDF has seized control of all 13," the source said, adding that some of the tunnel mouths were on the other side of the border inside Israel.

The army was still scanning the tunnels, and it was unclear whether these were 13 separate tunnels, or whether some were simply branches of others. It also remained unclear how many of these tunnels ended inside Israel.
"It's hard getting to the entrances to these tunnels, some are in greenhouses and others in houses. Intelligence is working on this," the source continued.

"We're cautiously speaking about taking away Hamas' ability to dig tunnels. These tunnels are just a part of Hamas' defenses, but it is the apple of their eye," he added. 

...Since the beginning of the ground offensive on Thursday night, the IDF has attacked 260 targets, among them weapons caches, launching sites, tunnels, houses of terror operatives that serve as command and control centers, and others.

In total, since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, the army has struck 2350 targets, some 1100 on hidden rocket launchers and 215 of them command and control centers.

Flares light up the Gaza sky (Photo: AP)
Flares light up the Gaza sky (Photo: AP)

In addition, 21 Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists have been arrested and taken for questioning by the Shin Bet and other security forces. At least 17 were killed in fire exchanges with the IDF.
Troops outside the Gaza Strip (Photo: Reuters)
Troops outside the Gaza Strip (Photo: Reuters)

At present, according to reports in the foreign press, IDF troops are not yet deep in urban areas. They are mostly operating in open areas about a kilometer and a half north, south and east of Gaza City.

The troops encountered armed Palestinians in several incidents and has been exchanging fire with them near Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.

The army has been shooting flares to light up the Gaza sky overnight, and continuing airstrikes across the Strip.

Friday, July 18, 2014

US public support for Israel at near record highs

From JPost, 17 July 2014, by HERB KEINON:

Poll finds massive US support for Israel; Blacks, Hispanics sympathize with Israel more than twice as much as with Palestinians.

The US public’s support for Israel is at near-record levels, according to a Pew Research Center poll, despite the current violence and images of the destruction in the Gaza Strip playing out nightly on television screens across America.

Furthermore, the poll – carried out from July 8 to July 14 – indicates that support for Israel among blacks and Hispanics – demographic groups to which Israeli advocacy groups are increasingly reaching out – is more than double what it is for the Palestinians.

White evangelicals are – with the possible exception of Jews, who were not a demographic studied in this survey – the most sympathetic for Israel, while those unaffiliated with any church are the least supportive.

While Republicans sympathize with Israel far more than Democrats, Democratic support is still strong and even among “liberal Democrats” support for Israel far outstrips that for the Palestinians.

According to the survey, 51 percent of Americans said that they sympathize more with Israel in the “dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.” Only 14% said their sympathies are more with the Palestinians. Another 15% said they sympathize with neither side, and 3% with both sides.

This figure of support for Israel is down from April, when the numbers were 53% and 11%.

Even as some critics of Israel claim that Israel’s support in the US is waning, the poll shows that the number of people expressing sympathy with Israel is at the second-highest level it has been since this particular question was first asked back in 1978.

The gap between the support for Israel as opposed to that for the Palestinians stands at 37%.

Though this is down from the 42% gap registered in April, it is much higher than in 1990, when the gap was at its lowest point in a generation, standing at “only” 20%.

In January 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, the gap between support for Israel and the Palestinians stood at 38%, and in November 2012, following Operation Pillar of Defense, that number was 40%.

A further analysis of the numbers shows that both American blacks and Hispanics support Israel by a more than 2:1 ratio.

According to the poll, 43% of blacks sympathize more with Israel, as compared to 20% for the Palestinians. Among the Hispanics that number is 41% to 17%, and among whites it is 55% to 12%.

The older the Americans, the more likely they are to sympathize with the Jewish state. That figure reaches 60% for the 65+ age group, and goes down to 44% among those aged 18 to 29. The younger age group also has the most sympathy for the Palestinians at 22%.

Regarding party differences, some 73% of Republicans sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians, compared to 44% of Democrats and 45% of Independents.

And even among those who consider themselves “liberal Democrats,” there is almost twice as much support for Israel as for the Palestinians, with 39% saying they have more sympathy for Israel, and 21% more for the Palestinians.

Among the strongest supporters are white evangelicals, with the figures there standing at 70% to 5%. Those unaffiliated with any church, by comparison, support Israel over the Palestinians 36% to 20%, the lowest figure among any of the groups studied in the poll.

The survey was conducted from July 8 to 14 among a national sample of 1,805 adults. It a has a 2.7% margin of error.

World Condemns Hamas Rejection of Ceasefire

International pressure has been directed at Hamas, following its rejection of a ceasefire with Israel - raising the level of international criticism and condemnation of the terrorist organisation.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu, backed by the Israeli Cabinet, accepted an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas. Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Netanyahu, announced on Twitter that "the Cabinet has decided to accept the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire." At 9am on Tuesday Israel halted its fire, following which, between 9am and 3pm, Hamas fired 47 rockets at Israel from Gaza, prompting Israel to resume its military response.

Hamas rejected the deal... 
statement released by the al-Qassam Brigades said the group "totally and completely" rejected the terms of the ceasefire," saying it was "not worth the ink it was written with."

Hamas not only rejected the ceasefire proposal, which had the blessing of the Arab League, but spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri implied it was a "betrayal," saying, "We feel greatly betrayed by official Arab regimes; we have encountered no real official Arab position."
Other world powers had strongly endorsed the proposed ceasefire.
US Secretary of State John Kerry endorsed the planned ceasefire, saying, 
"The Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire and negotiations provides an opportunity to end the violence and restore calm... We welcome the Israeli Cabinet's decision to accept it. We urge all other parties to accept the proposal."
UK Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond, fresh to the job, commended Israel on accepting the ceasefire and called on Hamas to do the same: 
"I welcome Egypt's ceasefire initiative... I also welcome Israel's acceptance in principle of the terms of the proposed ceasefire agreement, and the Palestinian Authority's endorsement of the Egyptian initiative. I call on Hamas and all militant factions in Gaza to take this opportunity to cease hostilities."
Following the rejection by Hamas and the continued firing of rockets, denunciations of Hamas were sharp by diplomatic standards.
Kerry came out very strongly against Hamas's rejection: 
"I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas in so brazenly firing rockets in multiple numbers in the face of a goodwill effort to operate a cease-fire, in which Egypt and Israel worked together, that the international community strongly supports."
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said: 
"The Australian Government strongly condemns the decision of Hamas to reject a ceasefire to hostilities between Israel and extremist groups in Gaza. Hamas claims to represent Gaza, yet it has jeopardised the welfare of its own people by rejecting the proposal for a ceasefire."
...Also publicly critical of Hamas - his partners in a unity government - was Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who called on both sides to stop firing and accept the ceasefire. 
Abbas called Hamas' conditions for accepting the ceasefire "exaggerated and unnecessary."
On Thursday, both Israel and Hamas did accept a temporary 5-hour ceasefire, termed a "humanitarian pause," to allow aid into Gaza. It was agreed the ceasefire would take place between 10am and 3pm local time on Thursday, beginning at 5pm EST. Yet, reportedly, Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel during the temporary ceasefire.
It now appears Israel has concluded that they have no choice but to launch the long-discussed ground offensive into Gaza in response to the rocket attacks - something reports indicate both the Israeli military and Prime Minister Netanyahu were extremely reluctant to do. It seems likely that Israel's actions will be met with some understanding in Western capitals - and even some Arab ones - in the wake of Hamas' intransigence over the past week.