Thursday, August 21, 2014

The IDF’s first fully digital war

From Times of Israel, 21 Aug 2014, by Mitch Ginsburg:

The army employed a system of information sharing during Protective Edge that streamlined responses ...

On July 22, a team of paratroopers, stationed in a house in Gaza, took fire from locations unknown. “There are terrorists in the area,” a radio operator on the ground said. “They are dynamic. We need you to help locate them.”

The pilot of an aircraft, identifying himself by the call name Tzofit, chimed in: We are above you. We can see them firing.

The pilot then presumably relayed the precise location of the gunmen to the troops, who responded by saying, to the rather surprised pilot, “The location you’re talking about, I’m inside on the second floor.”

“You’re inside the house and the terrorists are in the same house, one floor above you?” the pilot asked, on a video released by the army.

“Yes, exactly,” the infantryman said.

Moments later the pilot spotted the operatives sprinting through a date orchard and down a street. “We followed them and destroyed them,” he told the soldiers on the ground.

“If you destroyed them, then I’m relaxed, because they were firing at us,” the infantryman said.

“I know. You can be relaxed,” the pilot responded. “We’re above you.”

... Operation Protective Edge, the first large scale operation in which the IDF’s Digital Army Program was widely used, saw a greater interconnectivity of forces than ever before – a fact that helped thwart an array of infiltration attempts, streamlined offensive missions, and, presumably, reduced the likelihood of friendly fire.

Two officers from the IDF’s computers directorate, known as C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence), discussed the army’s digital trial by fire during the past month or so of warfare.

“The command and control systems were used to unprecedented effect,” said Maj. Moran Mayorchik, the commander of the tactical connectivity department in the IDF’s C4I Directorate.

Explaining how the systems work, she said that video and camera footage from a wide array of sources is funneled back from the field to a central core and from there streamed forward, either automatically or based on an HQ staff officer’s decision, to the appropriate commanders in the field.

The soldiers not only receive the relevant footage but can also keep track of enemy and friendly forces on a digital map. If they have questions about a certain locale, Mayorchik said, they can post queries into the system.

For example, Mayorchik said, a battalion commander in the field, curious to know what is happening several blocks ahead, can ask for a view of a certain intersection, if available, or for input from other troops, in the air, land or sea. “And that situational picture is common to everyone,” she said.

Cap. Nitzan Malka, the commander of the tactical forecasting desk at the C4I Directorate, noted the role of Radio over Internet Protocol [RoIP].  Where once Special Forces troops had to carry a special radio to so much as speak with the air force on its own frequency – and other troops had to relay information back and forth through, at best, one HQ – today the frequency gap is bridged by RoIP technology.

“Take Zikim,” said Malka. During that July 8 infiltration to Israel, a large squad of Hamas frogmen swam from Gaza to Israel. Navy radars picked up the movements on the surface of the water. The warning was passed on to the military intelligence directorate’s surveillance operators along the coast. A private, manning one of the screens on the Zikim base, spotted the men emerging from the water; the video footage and the warning was delivered simultaneously to infantry troops in the vicinity and to available aircraft. Both engaged the enemy, killing the infiltrators. “There used to be islands of communication,” said Malka, where each force in the field reported back to its headquarters from its distinct vantage point. “Today it’s connected.”...

19 Hamas War Crimes

...Jewish leaders told United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon about the litany of abuses of international rules of warfare – 19 in total – by Hamas in Gaza.
The group included Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, directors of The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), the Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman, Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and representatives from B’nai Brith and Hadassah.

...In a follow-up note to Ban after their meeting, the SWC rabbi’s summed up the argument they presented. They said that 
“we must frankly ask you how many times will the world allow itself to be held hostage by Hamas? This is the third time since 2005 when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza that Hamas has brought death and destruction to the people of Gaza. Once again they are using the people of Gaza, the civilian infrastructure and UN facilities in its non-stop campaign to terrorize the Jewish state.”
During the 90 minute meeting, according to Rabbi Cooper, the SWC urged the UN to announce an official inquiry into the use of various UNRWA schools by Hamas to store and launch rockets for the benefit of the UN’s own reputation. They also called on the UN not to permit the UNRWA to supervise the billions in reconstruction funds expected for Gaza.
“The systematic hijacking of previous aid, cement, and building materials by Hamas to build an underground superhighway of terror is scandalous and a violation of the wishes of the donors who did not contribute funds for rockets or tunnels,” they said. “Those who failed to stop such theft and serial abuse of humanitarian aid, must be held accountable and should not have any involvement in supervising or dispersing of future funds.”
They also said that work shouldn’t begin until “the total disarming of Hamas and the destruction of all of the thousands of rockets and missiles Hamas still harbors.”

... the SWC rabbis left Ban with a detailed list they compiled of the 19 violations made by Hamas, with full notes and citations for Ban to reflect upon....

1) Hamas’ rocket attacks directed at Israel’s civilian population centers deliberately violates the basic principles of distinction (Additional Protocol I, arts. 48, 51(2), 52(1).) Any doubt about this is resolved by the fact that Hamas itself has boasted of its intention to hit population centres. It is well accepted in customary international law that intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking part in hostilities constitutes a war crime. (Rome Statute, art. 8(2)(b)(i))

2) Staging of Attacks From Residential Areas and Protected Sites: The Law of Armed Conflict not only prohibits targeting an enemy’s civilians; it also requires parties to an armed conflict to distinguish their combatant forces from their own civilians, and not to base operations in or near civilian structures, especially protected sites such as schools, medical facilities and places of worship. As the customary law principle is reflected in Article 51(7) of Additional Protocol I: The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or shield, favor or impede military operations.

3) Use of Civilian Homes and Public Institutions as Bases of Operation – see (2) for citations.

4) Misuse of Medical Facilities and Ambulances – Any time Hamas uses an ambulance to transport its fighters it is violating the Law of Armed Conflict: Under Article 23(f) of the 1907 Regulations annexed to the Hague Convention IV Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, which reflects customary international law, it is especially forbidden … [t]o make improper use of a flag of truce, … as well as the distinctive badges of the Geneva Convention. Article 44 of the First Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field (1949)also provides that: … the emblem of the Red Cross on a white ground … may not be employed, either in time of peace or in time of war, except to indicate or to protect the medical units and establishments…

5) Booby-trapping of Civilian Areas – see (2) for citations.

6) Blending In With Civilians and Use of Human Shields – As the ICRC rule states, lilt can be concluded that the use of human shields requires an intentional co-location of military objectives and civilians or persons hors de combat with the specific intent of trying to prevent the targeting of those military objectives.

7) Exploitation of Children – Hamas has paramilitary summer camps for kids. There are reports, from this war and previous ones, of children fighting and being used for tunnel digging. violates the Law of Armed Conflict, including prohibitions against allowing children to take part in hostilities. As customary international law is reflected in this regard in Additional Protocol I, the parties to a conflict must take “all feasible measures” to ensure that children lido not take a direct part in hostilities and, in particular, they shall refrain from recruiting them into their armed forces. (Additional Protocol I, art. 77(2))

8 ) Interference With Humanitarian Relief Efforts – While Israel kept its end of humanitarian truces. Hamas used them to shoot rockets into Israel, including the Kerem Shalom crossing where humanitarian goods are brought into Gaza. All of these actions violate the Law of Armed Conflict, which requires parties to allow the entry of humanitarian supplies and to guarantee their safety. Article 59 of the Fourth Geneva Convention requires parties in an armed conflict to permit the free passage of [humanitarian] consignments and shall guarantee their protection. Article 60 of the same Convention protects the shipments from being diverted from their intended purpose, something Hamas has certainly done in the past and is reported to have done in this conflict as well.

9) Hostage-Taking – The Fourth Geneva Conventions, article 34, says flatly “The taking of hostages is prohibited.” This is not an “arrest” as Israel-haters claim, and this is not a prisoner of war situation as Hamas has made clear – the purpose of Hamas’ hostage-taking falls under the definition on the International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages: “Any person who seizes or detains and threatens to kill, to injure or to continue to detain another person (hereinafter referred to as the “hostage “) in order to compel a third party, namely, a State, an international intergovernmental organization, a natural or juridical person, or a group of persons, to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the hostage commits the offence of taking of hostages (“hostage-taking ‘) within the meaning of this Convention.

10) Using The Uniform of The Enemy – Additional Protocol I prohibits the use of enemy flags, military emblems, insignia or uniforms “while engaging in attacks or in order to shield, favour, protect or impede military operations”. [3] Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, “making improper use … of the flag or of the military insignia and uniform of the enemy” constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts when it results in death or serious personal injury. [4] According to some, this is considered perfidy, a war crime. (h/t Joshua)

11) Violence Aimed at Spreading Terror Among the Civilian Population – Rule 2 of ICRC’s Customary IHL is Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited. II It quotes Article 51(2) of Additional Protocol I prohibits “acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population”. Hamas rockets are aimed not only at killing civilians, but also at spreading terror among Israelis.

12)Targeting Civilian Objects, such as Airports or Nuclear power plants – Rule 7 of the Customary IHL says “Attacks must not be directed against civilian objects, quoting Articles 48 and 52(2)of Additional Protocol I.

13) Indiscriminate Attacks – Besides targeting civilians and civilian objects, Rule 11 of the ICRC CIHL states flatly that “Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. II By definition, every Qassam rocket attack and most of the other rocket and mortar attacks are by their very nature indiscriminate. See also Rule 71, “The use of weapons which are by nature indiscriminate is prohibited.

14) Proportionality In Attack – ICRC’s Rule 14 states “Launching an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, is prohibited. Rocket attacks against civilians have zero military advantage, so by definition they are disproportionate to their military advantage. See also Rule 18: “Each party to the conflict must do everything feasible to assess whether the attack may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.

15) Advance Warning – Rule 20 of the ICRC CIHL states “Each party to the conflict must give effective advance warning of attacks which may affect the civilian population, unless circumstances do not permit. Given that Hamas has used the media and SMS calls to threaten Israelis, it is clear that they have the ability to warn before every rocket attack. Their failure to do so is a violation of IHL.

16) Protecting Civilians – Rule 22 of the ICRC Customary IHL states, “The parties to the conflict must take all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population and civilian objects under their control against the effects of attacks. Hamas not only has failed to protect civilians in Gaza by building bomb shelters, they have deliberately put civilians in harm’s way.

17) Attacking Medical Units – Rule 28 states, Medical units exclusively assigned to medical purposes must be respected and protected in all circumstances. Hamas has shot mortars at the Israeli field hospital, set up for Gazans, near the Erez crossing.

18) Protection of Journalists – Hamas has threatened journalists, implicitly and explicitly, accusing some of being spies and sometimes not allowing them to leave Gaza, making them effectively hostages. Rule 34 states “Civilian journalists engaged in professional missions in areas of armed conflict must be respected and protected as long as they are not taking a direct part in hostilities.

19) Mistreating The Dead. Rule 113 says, Each party to the conflict must take all possible measures to prevent the dead from being despoiled. Mutilation of dead bodies is prohibited. Hamas has shown off an alleged chip cut out from the (presumably) dead body of Shaul Orono.

Hamas confesses one of its crimes

A senior Hamas official has acknowledged that the organization’s military wing was behind the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June.
In a video posted by Israeli media, Hamas spokesman Salach Al-Aruri told a conference organized by the World Association of Muslim Scholars that the armed wing of Hamas, the al-Qassam Brigades, was behind the kidnapping of Israeli teenagers Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach. According to the Jerusalem Post, Al-Aruri praised the “heroic action of the Kassam Brigades who kidnapped three settlers in Hebron.”
Hamas’s leadership had formerly denied any involvement with the kidnappings. Previous reporting in American and Israeli media had suggested that Hamas was either not involved or that the kidnapping was carried out by a rogue group within Hamas.
However, Israeli officials have long insisted that the Hamas organization in Gaza had ordered and financed the attack. Al-Aruri’s statement appears to validate that claim.

Attack, don't defend

From JPost, 20 Aug 2014, Caroline Glick:

For most Israelis, the international discourse on Gaza is unintelligible.

... The knee-jerk reaction of many Israelis to the sight of UN officials, CNN anchors and New York Times reporters accusing us of committing war crimes is to blame ourselves.

 Our hasbara (public diplomacy) is a catastrophe, our defenders are incompetent idiots, we moan and scream.

 But the truth is not so simple. Our speakers have gotten much better over the past several years. Some, like ambassadors Ron Dermer and Ron Prosor and IDF Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, are excellent.

 Israel’s public diplomacy efforts have been unsuccessful in penetrating, let alone dismantling the edifice of lies that constitutes the Western narrative about the Palestinian war against us because our underlying strategy for contending with it is directed at the wrong goal.

 Our PR gurus defined our hasbara goal as getting our story out effectively. To do so, Israel has operated on two parallel tracks. First, we have tried to adjust our policies to adhere to what we perceive as the West’s demands.

 We have employed measures unprecedented in military history to protect the Palestinians from their elected leaders who use them as fodder in their propaganda war against Israel.

 There is no precedent in the history of warfare to Israel’s practice of warning Palestinians when it is about to attack civilian installations that Hamas has unlawfully used to attack Israel.

 Moreover, Israel has accepted interpretations of the laws of war – such as the specious assertion that Israel is required to provide free electricity to Gaza – that have no relationship whatsoever to international law.

 The second component of getting out our story has been developing the sort of glitzy, media-friendly PR apparatus that everybody who is everybody says is the be all and end all of a successful media strategy. There is no foreign press corps more coddled than the foreign press corps in Israel. No government is more active on social media sites than Israel.

 And yet, for all of our efforts, the UN Human Rights Committee appointed an open hater of Israel who doesn’t have a problem with Hamas to run a phony investigation of the IDF’s imaginary war crimes.

For all our efforts, The New York Times, MSNBC, the European media, CNN and all the rest demonize our soldiers and leaders. They ignore the fact that everything Hamas and its allies in Fatah and Islamic Jihad do is a war crime – from calling for the annihilation of Israel to shooting rockets at civilian population centers, to shooting rockets at civilian population centers from hospitals and from outside the hotel where their reporters are staying in Gaza.

 So desperate are we for any truth in reporting that we seize as a major victory the fact that a Wall Street Journal reporter was nice enough to Tweet the fact that he interviewed a Hamas leader in Shifa hospital.

 A casual glance at the mountain of distorted and simply false stories reported about Israel and its enemies makes clear that at a minimum, most of the Western media don’t care about the truth. The fact that they sent reporters to Israel and Gaza doesn’t mean they wanted those reporters to publish what is going on.

 The reporters knew what they were supposed to say before they even got on a plane to Israel. True, Hamas has openly acknowledged that it prohibited the foreign press from filming its terrorists and their war crimes. But with rare exceptions, the media had no problem with Hamas’s rules.

 So too, the UN Human Rights Council didn’t decide to form a commission of inquiry to criminalize Israel because we weren’t good enough at showing the lengths we go to protect Gazans from their elected leaders. And the UNHRC didn’t appoint William Schabas, who has called for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to be tried for war crimes, to lead its star chamber because it didn’t get the press release proving that Israel acts in compliance with international law.

 The media, the US State Department and the UN attack Israel for crimes that Hamas commits because they are wedded to a narrative in which Israel is to blame for its enemies’ desire to destroy it.

 As the UN, The New York Times and President Barack Obama see it, Israel is to blame because it is inherently guilty by its nature.

 The White House and State Department can accuse Israel of conducting a “totally indefensible” and “disgraceful” strike against an UNRWA school, when no such strike occurred, and if it had occurred it would have been totally defensible, because as far as they are concerned, as Martin Indyk claimed in May, Israel’s right to exist is conditional on our willingness to accept their belief that we are inherently morally deformed and in need of direction by our betters.

 Netanyahu is Schabas’s “favorite [to be placed] in the dock of the International Criminal Court,” because Netanyahu is the elected leader of the morally deformed Jewish state.

 Given this situation, it is clear that Israel’s public diplomacy efforts are directed toward the wrong goal.

 The goal of hasbara cannot be to educate the likes of The New York Times’ bureau chief Jodi Rudoren about the truth because the problem isn’t one of ignorance. The problem is that they consider the truth an impediment to their goal of reporting the narrative of Israeli criminality.

 Rather than striving to educate, we must work to manipulate the Rudorens of the world into covering the truth.

 For instance, there is no reason to provide reporters clearly dedicated to hiding the truth with access to national leaders and military commanders. Let them find their own sources. Israel is a free country. There is no reason for The New York Times to be invited to a press briefing by IDF commanders.

 Another critical element of a strategy for forcing hostile media and international agencies to contend with the truth is to create events that they can’t ignore.

For instance, the chief military prosecutor together with the state prosecution should indict Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah leaders on war crimes charges and the relevant Israeli courts should begin adjudicating the cases.

 The Knesset should begin deliberations on a bill to strip UNRWA of its legal immunity as a first step towards bringing its personnel up on charges of providing material support for terrorism.

 True, such actions will be met with howls of condemnation and hysterical reproaches from all the usual suspects.

 But at least they will be talking about Palestinian war crimes. At least they will be forced to acknowledge that UNRWA is a force of destabilization and radicalization, not of stabilization and moderation in the Arab conflict with Israel.

 Our leaders and spokespeople cannot win the information war by devoting themselves to pointing out the West’s hypocrisy and double standards, or the rank mendaciousness and bigotry that stands at the core of their approach to Israel.

No one ever won a war by only playing defense. And we won’t win this one by explaining why we aren’t war criminals.

 We will only begin to make progress when we define the goal of our hasbara as forcing an unwilling media and international community to discuss the truth by taking deliberate actions that will make it impossible for them to ignore it.

The 65th casualty: a reflective warrior

From JPost, 20 Aug 2014:

Although he was not killed in action, Cpl. David Gordon is, in fact, the 65th IDF fatality of the current conflict.

David Gordon z"l
David Gordon

In his last post on Facebook, on July 25, Cpl. David Gordon wrote:
“Unbelievably overwhelmed, not from this mission but from the support and messages of encouragement from family, friends and strangers. I am OK and I’ve never felt more loved. Thank you all! Taking a short break and then I’m off again.”
Gordon, a 21-year-old lone soldier from Detroit, served in the Givati Brigade and fought in Gaza last month during Operation Protective Edge.

He was reported missing from the Tzrifin base near Rishon Lezion on Sunday, and his body was found on Tuesday not far from the base. With his rifle at his side, he was wearing his uniform and purple beret of which he had been so proud.

The IDF has opened an investigation into the circumstances of his tragic death, and his family has flown in from the US to bury him with full military honors at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl Military Cemetery on Thursday.

Gordon was a gifted writer, and maintained a blog called Sparks of David where he wrote extensively in English about his experiences in Israel and in the IDF.

In his writing and on Facebook, he comes across as an intelligent, upbeat young man who loved Israel and his military service.

On June 26, he proudly posted a Reuters photo-shoot series of himself in camouflage uniform aiming his rifle, with a look of satisfaction on his face.

After concluding his basic training in the 424th Shaked Infantry Battalion in May, he penned the following beautiful blog post on June 4 during a break from the army – “for a weekend of rest, recovery and recuperation” – titled “On Abstinence and Effort”:
If the military has taught me anything it’s to appreciate the small things as well as things I had previously taken for granted. With all luxuries limited as of late, I have a new appreciation for everyday gifts like hot showers, tasty food, human connection, entertainment and even freedom.
Surprisingly, the army’s limitation of all these things has transformed me not only into a reflexive warrior but, in many ways, a happier person. When I have that free time I’m more conscious of it. Every tune is magic. Every kind pair of eyes is adored. Every uninterrupted night’s sleep with my boots off is a miracle and, of course, time in general is better utilized.
Boredom is not a fun state of mind. But even with increased stimuli and options we can still feel empty. I know I can. The idea is to pace yourself. Have something to look forward to. Limit yourself and let desire develop. Savor the flavor and enjoy the chase. Fight for lasting pleasures and take your time enjoying them.
After much time (unwillingly) abstaining from hot baths, groovy music and anything remotely close to Scotch I was finally able to properly enjoy myself. What followed resulted not only in renewed excitements but the restoration of the even greater pleasure of creativity.
In a more somber mood – on June 25 – Gordon faced the issues of life and death head-on:
I do not fear death. Just as I had no choice in being born I will have no choice but to die. The mystery is how and when our lives will terminate and what kind of life we will live before we are forced to embrace death’s final calling.
Like our favorite song, the tune may sound beautiful but the music will eventually end. The idea is to create a novel sound and always play your very best. Occasionally, yield in your tracks, listen closely, and enjoy the pure melody while it lasts.
Like many other soldiers serving in Gaza, Gordon may have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

This phenomenon should serve as a wake-up call to the IDF and to all families and friends of soldiers who fought in Operation Protective Edge. The experiences of troops in combat against Hamas must have been traumatizing, to say the least. They should be given proper psychological counseling and encouraged to confront their own horrors of war.

Although he was not killed in action, Cpl. David Gordon is, in fact, the 65th IDF fatality of the current conflict.

Our hearts go out to his parents, family, friends and comrades. May his memory be for a blessing. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

From Hillary to Shimon: Two states is no solution

From JPost, 20 Aug 2014, by DANI DAYAN:

Remarks made by Clinton, Peres, Netanyahu and others indicate that Israel’s need to retain control of Judea and Samaria has become, at last, a mainstream position. 

... As Israeli troops swept through the Gaza terror infrastructure, a political tidal wave was washing over two decades of obsessive tunnel vision focusing on the so-called two-state solution.

As the war progressed, the vulnerability of cities like Modi’in and Kfar Saba (which straddle the “Green Line”) to tunnels and rocket attacks became frighteningly clear.

The fact that Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the greater Tel Aviv area (hosting 70 percent of the Israeli population and economic output) would have just 15 seconds to find shelter only exposed the impossibility of Israel giving away Judea and Samaria.

One rocket from Gaza closed down Israel’s international airport, and terrorist tunnels caused fear across the country that armed Hamas death squads could appear any - where in Israel without warning. Furthermore one can see the skyscrapers of Tel Aviv from the hills of Samaria, so if Hamas gained control of the area, they would only need a few close-range mortars to create havoc.

... statements from across the political spectrum flooded in both in Israel and abroad from even the most ardent believers in the two-state paradigm, suggesting that Hamas had proven that it was no longer a solution.

The most significant statement was made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu himself at his July 11 press conference, where he all but acknowledged that the creation of an independent Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria was impossible. Jeffrey Goldberg reported that Netanyahu did not merely “renounce his rhetorical sup - port for a two-state solution.

He simply described such a [Palestinian] state as an impossibility.”

A concurrent analysis in Tablet Magazine concluded that Judea and Samaria will similarly pass to Israeli sovereignty “without fanfare, de facto rather than de jure, at some moment in the not-too-distant future when the foreign minis - tries of the West are locked in crisis session over Iraq or Syria.

And it will happen with the tacit support of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.”

Professor Shlomo Avineri, one of Israel’s greatest proponents of two states, declared in a recent op-ed:

“Those of us who supported Oslo – and who still think it was the right step – must recognize that salvation won’t come from the Palestinians. They’re genuinely uninterested in a solution of two states for two peoples because they’re unwilling to grant legitimacy to the Jewish right of self-determination.”
Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar (the No. 2 in Likud and potential heir to Netanyahu), went one further when he came out strongly against the creation of a Palestinian state as matter of policy. At the same time UK Prime Minister David Cameron also came to the conclusion that the two- state solution is increasingly an impossibility. In the after - math of FAA’s ban on flights to Israel, Professor Alan Dershowitz complained that the Hamas attack may well have ended any real prospect of a two-state solution.

The most telling accord was the admission to the BBC by former Israeli president Shimon Peres – one of Israel’s most outspoken proponents of Israel’s surrendering land – that,

“I find it difficult to explain today withdrawal from Gaza or justify future withdrawal from the West Bank.”
Even more startling than Peres’s admission were the remarks of all-but-announced US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who in her attempt to solidify support among the Jewish and pro-Israel individuals in the Democratic Party stridently championed Israel’s right to defend itself by explaining,

“So what I tell people is, yeah, if I were the prime minister of Israel, you’re damn right I would expect to have control over security [on the West Bank].”
The remarks of Clinton, Peres, Netanyahu and the others indicate that Israel’s need to retain control of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) has become, at last, a mainstream position. There is now widespread recognition that it would be the height of recklessness for Israel to surrender land in the strategic hills of Judea and Samaria that would ultimately end up in the control of an ideological “Hamas” – either by ballot or bullet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Schabas, veteran Israel-basher is the perfect choice for Goldstone 2

From JPost, 17 Aug 2014, by ANNE HERZBERG:
William Schabas Photo: screenshot

He has expressed no hesitation in exploiting international mechanisms to achieve political goals. 
[Goldstone = UN Human Rights Council “investigation” of Israel irredeemably tainted by bias, pre-judgement of issues and ulterior motives]

On August 11, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights appointed the members to the latest Human Rights Council “investigation” of Israel. Predictably, one of the appointees, law professor William Schabas, is well-known for his association with many anti-Israel NGO initiatives.

Given the history of special animus towards Israel by the Human Rights Council, a body dominated by dictators and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, it is no surprise that it would appoint such a partisan figure to render judgment on Israel’s operations against Hamas rocket fire and terror tunnels. But there is another agenda at play in the Schabas appointment beyond yet more absurd condemnations of the Jewish state by Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea.

One of the key components in the political war against Israel is “lawfare” or the exploitation of legal frameworks to achieve objectives that cannot be accomplished militarily. The goal is to delegitimize (and ultimately end) Israel’s existence as a Jewish state and to punish the country for its anti-terror operations.

The lawfare strategy was developed at the NGO Forum of the 2001 UN Durban Conference, which branded Israel a “racist, apartheid state” guilty of “genocide” and “war crimes” and called for “the establishment of a war crimes tribunal” and other measures.

Lawfare involves making accusations of “war crimes” and other international legal violations in the hopes that these allegations can then be turned into some form of legal “judgment” which can be used to imprison Israeli officials and implement BDS. Almost always, these violations are based upon invented or distorted concepts in international law. Another key component is to erase Palestinian terror attacks on Israeli civilians and to immorally support suicide bombings, missiles, shootings and other atrocities as “resistance.”

Shortly after the Durban Conference, NGOs operationalized their strategy by issuing “war crimes” reports that are then used to push for UN investigations, serve as the basis for universal jurisdiction lawsuits, underpin governmental lobbying campaigns for BDS, and promote cases at the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

And so enters William Schabas. Schabas has been an outspoken lawfare advocate for many years. In a September 2009 interview discussing the Goldstone Report and the effort to have Israeli indicted at the ICC, for instance, Schabas tellingly admits: 

“When we look at all the crimes committed in Gaza during the conflict... they are probably not, on a Richter scale of atrocity, at the top.
And there are many places in the world where worse crimes have been committed.
Sri Lanka, for example, in March or April of 2009 was much more serious in terms of the atrocities and loss of life that was committed... I think the reason why many people in the world are so upset...
is not because of the bombardment of facilities in Gaza... but because of our unhappiness about the general political situation there... And so, we mix our dissatisfaction with the situation of the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.”
In other words, the lawfare strategy is not about adjudicating actual crimes allegedly committed on the battlefield, but rather exploiting legal frameworks to affect political goals unrelated to the specific crimes at issue.

Similarly, Schabas penned the forward to a 2012 book, Is There a Court for Gaza.

In the piece, he calls the ICJ and the ICC tools to “nourish” Palestinian “advocacy strategies.” He also opines that the “core of the Goldstone Report dealt with the planned destruction of the entire infrastructure of a community, aimed at punishing Palestinians in Gaza for their support of Hamas” and that “it was a strategy that had already been used [by Israel] in Lebanon in 2006.”

Notably, one of the book’s co-authors worked for the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the primary organization behind universal jurisdiction lawsuits harassing Israelis, and represented the NGO at a closed meeting at the ICC to lobby for prosecution of Israel.

Schabas was also part of the farcical, neo-Marxist “Russell Tribunal,” a kangaroo court organized by the extreme BDS movement to put Israel and its allies “on trial.” During his presentation, he proclaimed that Netanyahu would be his favorite candidate for the ICC dock. He also suggested that “genocide” could be applied to the Palestinian situation and repeated that Israel’s operations against Palestinian rocket attacks and terrorism was simply to teach Palestinians “lesson” for supporting Hamas.

Given this record, it is no surprise Schabas was selected by 65 fringe BDS and lawfare NGOs including Al Haq, Badil, ICAHD, EAFORD, and many Islamic organizations, as the most “capable candidate” to replace Richard Falk as the HRC’s resident Israel-basher.

Now, under the pretext of a UN-sponsored “war crimes” investigation, Schabas has a highly visible platform to advance his political agenda. He gets to draft a report that will without a doubt conclude that Israel is guilty. He will get to work closely with NGO partners like HRW, Amnesty, PCHR, Al Haq, and other lawfare groups in a non-transparent, unaccountable process. He will be able to recommend that the ICC and ICJ take up his cause, that more universal jurisdiction cases be brought, and that European countries should immedmiately enact BDS policies.

Schabas is therefore the perfect choice for the HRC mission. He has expressed no hesitation in exploiting international mechanisms to achieve political goals. He has already declared Israel guilty of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.”

He has no problem participating in the most fringe anti-Israel initiatives. He erases the context of Palestinian terrorism.

Such characteristics define the very essence of the HRC and its NGO lawfare partners.

Is there any wonder then that Israel refuses to be part of this circus? 

*The author is the Legal Advisor of NGO Monitor and the author of ‘NGO ‘Lawfare’: Exploitation of Courts in the Arab-Israeli Conflict.’

"Moderate" Abbas's Fatah Declares a Return to Terror Against Israel

From Arutz Sheva, 16 Aug 2014, by Dalit Halevy, Ari Yashar:

Terror wing of 'moderate' Abbas's Fatah displays massive arsenal in Gaza video after taking part in Hamas war, vows to increase attacks.

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction, often touted internationally as a "moderate" alternative to Hamas, has declared its intentions to further increase its terror attacks against Israeli citizens.

A new video released to YouTube by Fatah's "military wing," the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, declares the unity of Fatah's various military branches, and announces a recent decision to strengthen Fatah's military activities.

Filming in what they term a "joint operations room" in Gaza, the Fatah terrorists are seen in the video proudly displaying three-barrel rocket launchers, anti-tank rocket launchers, assault rifles and portable communications devices.

One of the terrorists is filmed telling the camera that "the rifle" was and remains the only option to "free the occupied lands," and that Fatah has never abandoned the path of violent terrorism.

As demonstrated by the armed presence in Gaza, Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades has reportedly taken an active part in the terror war being fought against Israel from Gaza, joining Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror organizations against Israel during Operation Protective Edge.

In Judea and Samaria, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades have likewise declared "open war" on the Jewish state.

The declaration has been followed by numerous Fatah terror attacks, including a shooting attack south of Bethlehem last Sunday, after another shooting attack the Sunday before in Neve Tzuf. On Monday, a wanted Fatah terrorist was killed by IDF forces near Shechem after he refused to turn himself in and opened fire on the soldiers.

While there has been a common perception globally that Abbas's Fatah is somehow more "moderate" and accessible as a peace partner than Hamas or other alternative groups, Fatah has been open about its goals to destroy Israel.

The group just last Sunday falsely claimed to have murdered 11,000 Israelis, and has likely called for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel.

Fatah's position is in line with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) charter of 1968, which calls for "armed struggle" and "armed revolution," declaring "armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine," and calling on local Arabs to "be prepared for the armed struggle."

Following the charter, the PLO and Fatah were defined internationally as terror organizations, a status which was removed during the 1993 Oslo Accords process.

What Barry predicted for Gaza

From Rubin Report, 6 Aug 2014:

In light of the current situation in Israel and Gaza, the GLORIA Center is reposting Prof. Rubin's prescient analysis of the likely situation that would emerge in Gaza following the Disengagement.

This article is, if anything, even more relevant today than when it was first published in 2005:

By Barry Rubin*
August 2005

 It cannot be repeated often enough that Middle East politics are not like those of other places. They make sense once one understands the region’s history, politics, and institutions, but they defy the logic that uninformed or semi-informed outsiders expect.
Consider, as the most recent example, Palestinian politics and the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Here is what might be expected to happen:
  • “This is a step forward by Israel showing that this country is ready to make peace,” the Palestinian leader would tell his people. “We must now make the most of this opportunity in two ways
  • “First, we must encourage Israel to agree to a comprehensive deal by proving to its leaders and people that we really do accept their country’s existence and security. The best way to do this is by stopping all incitement to hate Israel and portray it as illegitimate in our media and textbooks, while showing our determination to prevent terror attacks. We will demand all of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip in a Palestinian state but we will simultaneously show we are true nationalists by making it clear that all Palestinian refugees should be resettled in our own state in order to make it prosperous and successful.”
  • “Second, we must show the world that we are worthy and ready for a state by governing the Gaza Strip well. We will put all security forces under political control and disband the extremist militias. A stable government will be established that will not permit anarchy. We will fight corruption and use the aid money well. And we will show our commitment to democracy. We may not succeed completely but everyone will know that we have done our best and made real progress. ”
  • “Critical in this effort is to show our people that this great day was brought about not by murdering Israeli civilians but as an outcome of the negotiations process begun with the Oslo agreement.”
Indeed, many people in the West no doubt think that this is what already is happening. But what, in fact, is the most likely course of events in the Palestinian debate and politics?
  • --There will be no decline in incitement or change in the public rhetoric of Palestinian officials speaking to their own people. Thus, of course, Israeli suspicions regarding their intentions will be reinforced.
  • --The Palestinian movement will continue to be oriented toward conquest and revenge rather than nation-state nationalism.
  • --No stable government with real control over the territory will be created in the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Authority will not even try too hard to do that. On the contrary, it will ignore the Road Map’s provisions about stopping terrorism and disarming radical groups and simply keep insisting on getting a state right away without preconditions or concessions.
  • --The Israeli withdrawal will be claimed as a victory for terrorism (under the phrase revolutionary violence) thus laying the basis for more of the same.
  • --Palestinian security forces will stand by most of the time and do nothing as not only Hamas and Islamic Jihad but also Fatah gunmen try to attack Israel. Then the Palestinian leadership will scream when Israel retaliates. The big losers here will be the Palestinians themselves since this continuing war will destroy any chance for development.
  • --Anti-corruption efforts will remain tiny even in the context of modest expectations. The new aid money being offered by the West will disappear without a trace.
  • --The Palestinian leadership will do everything possible to avoid power-sharing, wider democracy, or fair elections. There is some good reason for this since Hamas will benefit the most if people are given a choice but a large part of the reason for that situation is precisely the current leadership’s failure to do more for the masses’ welfare.
In short, there is every reason to believe that the Palestinian leadership and movements will throw away this opportunity. If you don’t think so, let’s talk about it again in six months’ time.

Does this analysis mean Israel should not withdraw? Actually, one could argue the exact opposite. For if nothing is going to change any way why should it be bound to the status quo? Take away the excuse of “occupation” and let the world—and far more importantly the Palestinians themselves—see the real cause of their problems. Let Israel determine its best deployments and use of security resources rather than have to be permanently tied down to being in the whole Gaza Strip.

Of course, one should quickly add, that Israel largely withdrew from the territory eleven years ago when it was turned over to the tender mercies of Yasir Arafat. The presence of 7500 settlers and Israeli control over certain roads had very little effect on the Palestinian situation there. On my many trips to the Gaza Strip in the second half of the 1990s, I never saw Israeli settlers, soldiers or road blocks. It was like being in Jordan or Lebanon, a Palestinian state in all but name.

The idea at the time was that he would have to deal with schools and sewage, jobs and housing. The problem was that he and his colleagues had no interest in anything other than fighting Israel. Some of his top successors have better intentions but lack the power or determination to do better.  As a substitute, they will complain about inadequate international support, blame Israel for everything, and urge more militancy. Which side will be better off after the withdrawal? Watch the material realities, not the rhetoric to find out.
*Barry Rubin was director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC).  He was the author and co-author of many books on history, politics and the Middle East.  He passed away in 2014.

Hamas Coup and Intifada thwarted

Israel’s Shin Bet security service said Monday it thwarted a Hamas coup attempt in the West Bank aimed at toppling Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and starting a third intifada uprising.

The Shin Bet said it arrested more than 90 Hamas operatives in May and June, confiscated dozens of weapons that had been smuggled into the West Bank, and seized more than $170,000 aimed at funding attacks. It produced photos of the confiscated weapons and cash and a flowchart of the Hamas operatives who had been questioned, and said they planned a series of massive attacks on Israeli targets, including the Temple Mount, in order to start a widespread conflagration. Indictments are expected to be filed against at least 70 of the suspects.

Terror cells were set up in dozens of Palestinian West Bank towns and villages — including in and around Jenin, Nablus, eastern Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Hebron — the Shin Bet said.
Many of those recruited for the cells were students studying chemistry and engineering, and academics, according to the investigation.

Weapons caches discovered by the Shin Bet during a sweep of Hamas operatives in May and June, 2014 (photo credit: Shin Bet)
Weapons caches discovered by the Shin Bet during a sweep of Hamas operatives in May and June, 2014 (photo credit: Shin Bet)

The Shin Ben said the plot was orchestrated by senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri, who is based in Turkey and enjoys the support of the local officials there.
Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 from forces loyal to Abbas. It is currently negotiating in Cairo over a ceasefire to formally end the past six weeks of Israel-Hamas conflict.

The Israel-Hamas fighting was preceded by Israeli arrests of hundreds of Hamas members in the West Bank following the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers in June. The Shin Bet said it uncovered the West Bank coup plot due to information gleaned from those arrests.

Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, the three Israeli teenagers who were seized on June 12 and whose bodies were found on June 30. (photo credit: IDF/AP)
Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, the three Israeli teenagers who were seized on June 12 and whose bodies were found on June 30. (photo credit: IDF/AP)

...Detailing what it said was the thwarted bid to topple the PA in the West Bank, the Shin Bet said Monday that Hamas military cells in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, run through headquarters in Turkey, sought to execute a string of attacks against Israel, overthrow the PA, and establish a second front against Israel during Operation Protective Edge.

The Shin Bet revealed that during a three-month operation, it arrested 93 activists and confiscated 24 rifles, six pistols, seven rocket launchers, a large amount of ammunition, a getaway car, and funds amounting to over NIS 600,000 (some $170,000). It said that the infrastructure for the unusually “severe” string of attacks was based, also, on a “forward front in Jordan.”

Using a network of couriers to Jordan and Turkey, the Shin Bet said, the Hamas activists transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars of funds into the West Bank, with the intention of purchasing arms, and preparing safe houses, warehouses for weapons and laboratories for manufacturing rockets.

The leader of the operation, Riad Nasser, a resident of the village Dir Kadis, was recruited by al-Arouri, the head of West Bank operations for Hamas abroad, the Shin Bet said. Al-Arouri was one of the founders of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing

 ...according to an Israeli security official, al-Arouri was behind the kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli teens on June 12.

Hamas operative Saleh al-Arouri (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)
Hamas operative Saleh al-Arouri (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

Udeh Zaharan, a resident of Zarka in Jordan and a former Israeli security prisoner, funneled the money into the West Bank via a network of couriers, the Shin Bet said.

Other key operatives included Majdi Mafarja, a resident of Beit Likiya, who has a doctorate in computer science and was recruited in Malaysia. According to the Shin Bet, he was arrested on May 22 and admitted during interrogation that he had served as courier for apparently encoded messages for the military wing of Hamas.

Salah Barakat, an Israeli citizen and resident of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa, was arrested on July 1 and admitted, too, to passing messages from the Hamas diaspora to the operatives in the field.

Suspected key terrorists arrested by the Shin Bet during a sweep of Hamas operatives in May and June, 2014 (photo credit: Shin Bet)
Suspected key terrorists arrested by the Shin Bet during a sweep of Hamas operatives in May and June, 2014 (photo credit: Shin Bet)

Muhammad Kafaya, a former leader in the Hamas student union in Abu Dis University, was arrested on June 27. He turned over 19 rifles and five handguns.
The Shin Bet called the network “one of the most widespread we have known,” and said that its existence pointed to the danger of Hamas operations abroad, particularly in light “of Hamas’ strategic intentions of toppling the PA.”