Thursday, July 24, 2014

How the “Enlightened West” Helps Hamas Thwart Future Israeli Pullouts

...Both Washington and European capitals are demanding that Israel “do more” to prevent civilian casualties, without explaining what more it could do short of abandoning the military operation and simply letting Hamas launch its rockets undisturbed, while also demanding an “immediate” cease-fire that would leave Hamas with much of its military capability intact. In short, Israel has learned that once it cedes territory, it’s at the mercy of any terrorist organization that chooses to attack it from that territory, because it will never have international legitimacy to conduct the kind of military operation necessary to suppress such attacks.

Evelyn Gordon..
Commentary Magazine..
23 July '14..

Several commentators have already noted that foreign airlines’ suspension of flights to Israel due to Hamas rocket fire may mean Israel will “never-ever hand land to Palestinians ever again,” as Shmuel Rosner put it on Twitter; Israel can’t afford to have its sole air bridge to the world be at the mercy of a terrorist organization’s whims. But blaming Hamas alone for such a development would be unfair, because the problem isn’t just that Israel evacuated every last inch of Gaza and got 13,000 rockets (and counting) fired at its territory in exchange. It’s that after evacuating Gaza and getting 13,000 rockets in exchange, Israel discovered it still had zero support from the West for any military steps sufficient to actually suppress this rocket fire.

Western leaders seem curiously oblivious to the fact that the promise of “international legitimacy” was the trump card played by every Israeli premier who executed territorial withdrawals to refute critics who worried (correctly) that the evacuated areas would become hotbeds of anti-Israel terror. Yitzhak Rabin, in withdrawing Israeli forces from parts of the West Bank and Gaza under the Oslo Accords; Ehud Barak, in the unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon; and Ariel Sharon, in the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza all made the same simple argument: If Israel is subsequently attacked from these areas, it will then have full international legitimacy to do whatever is necessary to stop the attacks. And most Israelis believed them.

Today, no Israeli believes this anymore. Those prime ministerial promises were made in 1993, 2000, and 2005–i.e., before the Second Lebanon War of 2006, Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2008, or the current Gaza operation. And what Israel discovered in all those wars was that Western leaders, diplomats, journalists, intellectuals, and other opinion leaders indeed declared loudly that Israel has a right to defend itself–but only on condition that it not kill civilians. And since it’s impossible to avoid civilian casualties in any war, much less one against a terrorist organization that deliberately uses civilians as human shields, that effectively means Israel has no legitimacy for military action at all.

This lack of legitimacy is evident in countless ways. Virulently anti-Semitic demonstrations against the Israeli operation have swept the Western world, though no such demonstrations were ever held against the far greater slaughter in, say, Syria. The UN Human Rights Council is working on launching an inquiry into Israeli “war crimes” in Gaza–though not, needless to say, those of Hamas; a similar inquiry after the last Gaza war produced the infamous Goldstone Commission, whose report accusing Israel of “war crimes” was opposed by only eight Western countries in the UN General Assembly, despite being so libelous that even its lead author subsequently repudiated it.

Civilian blood, on Hamas' hands by design and with clear intent

...And this matter -- the culture of death combined with a culture of hatred -- is not merely a theocratic-religious and ideological matter. As early as 2008, Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad said: "Death for the Palestinian people has become an industry, which the women excel at along with everyone else on this Earth. The elderly excel at it, the jihadist fighters excel at it, and the children excel at it. "Therefore they [the Palestinians], created a human shield of women, children, elderly and jihadists to confront the Zionist bombardment machine, to say to the Zionist enemy: 'We desire death just as you desire life.'"

Nadav Shragai..
Israel Hayom..
23 July '14..

Not by our hands has civilian blood been spilled in Shujaiyya. It is Hamas, which, like the Nazis before it, seeks to kill Jews simply because they are Jews, and must be held accountable by the world. The women and children who lost their lives there were, in effect, sentenced to death by Hamas, which turned them into human flak jackets.

It is Hamas that has positioned its combatants in nurseries, schools, around UNWRA buildings. Hamas is the one which has deployed its rocket launchers inside mosques, educational institutions and any other civilian structure one can possibly imagine, and it does so openly, unabashedly, declaring that this is its way -- the way of "death in the name of Allah," the path of the "shahid" (martyr), to which it must aspire.

Proof of this was provided by Mahmoud al-Habash, now PA President Mahmoud Abbas' adviser on religious and Islamic affairs and until recently the Palestinian Authority's religious affairs minister, who said: "After the prophecies and righteousness, there is no status more noble in the eyes of Allah than that of shahada [martyrdom]. ... Allah, praised be his name, forbade us from seeing them as dead. ... They even went to their deaths with a smile. ... The shahid, he has privileges with Allah that no one else has."

And this matter -- the culture of death combined with a culture of hatred -- is not merely a theocratic-religious and ideological matter. As early as 2008, Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad said: "Death for the Palestinian people has become an industry, which the women excel at along with everyone else on this Earth. The elderly excel at it, the jihadist fighters excel at it, and the children excel at it.

"Therefore they [the Palestinians], created a human shield of women, children, elderly and jihadists to confront the Zionist bombardment machine, to say to the Zionist enemy: 'We desire death just as you desire life.'"

This is the manner in which Hamas has treated its civilians in the past, and how it is treating them today, whether they desire death or are trying to escape it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What Was the Original Plan? Terror Tunnels or Invasion Tunnels?

...The potential use of the tunnels in a future invasion makes it just that more crucial to destroy the existing tunnels and prevent the construction of new ones in the future. And the potential use of the Hezbollah tunnels in an invasion raises very serious questions about the almost complacent attitude Israeli policymakers appear to have taken to this ongoing threat.

Dr. Aaron Lerner..
IMRA Weekly Commentary..
23 July '14..

Once again it looks like we lucked out.

Circumstances led to a single front conflict with the enemy fortuitously rejecting ongoing appeals for a ceasefire.

But our luck may be magnitudes greater than we realize.

Let's put the tremendous investment that Hamas made in the tunnel network crossing into Israel into historical context.

This huge project of tunnels predates the fall of the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt.

The lineup:

#1. Hezbollah investing heavily in a huge network of tunnels providing access to northern Israel from the Lebanese border.

#2. Hamas devoting a large portion of its resources to building a huge network of tunnels, 4-5 meters (13-16.5 feet) wide, providing access to Israel from the Gaza border.

#3. Moslem Brotherhood building a shadow army in the Sinai with the idea that, one way or the other, the armed forces serving in Egypt would ultimately execute without hesitation the orders of the Moslem Brotherhood.

When analysts put the Hezbollah and Hamas build ups into a regional context, it is typically with the idea that their purpose is to deter Israel from attacking Iran. That the fear of many tens of thousands of rockets blanket bombing the Jewish State in response to an attack on Iran would stop Israel from taking military action against Teheran.

In a way, it's a comforting thought since it means that as long as Israel doesn't strike Iran the rockets in Lebanon will stay in storage.

But the above "lineup" is consistent with a much more horrifying scenario.

Haifa's enormous heart

...I will never forget my elderly neighbors (many of whom had moved to Haifa from Germany during the 1930s), who volunteered, without hesitation, for Haganah missions ahead of the establishment of the state. Their generous hearts and their willingness to give to others, even during a time of austerity, will remain forever seared in my memory. That time may have long since faded into oblivion, but it left its mark on Haifa, helping shape its modest nature, as well as its ability to face any challenge and its willingness to pay the necessary price for defending the homeland.

Prof. Abraham Ben-Zvi..
Israel Hayom..
23 July '14..

During his life, Nissim Sean Carmeli was not a familiar figure to the Israeli public. He moved to Israel at the age of 16, completed high school, and enlisted in the IDF, serving in the Golani Brigade. On Sunday, Carmeli fell in battle in the Gaza Strip.

Despite his anonymity in life, Carmeli's death turned him into the focus of a huge wave of love, warmth and
solidarity from the residents of Haifa, who identified with his spirit of volunteerism and self-sacrifice, as well the righteousness of the nation to which he decided to tie his fate. Tens of thousands of people attended Carmeli's funeral, demonstrating that underneath Haifa's quiet and sleepy facade lies a layer of perseverance and moral commitment, which burst out in an impressive and powerful display of unity and cohesion.

(Video) 10 minutes about living on the Gaza border

Dana, 27 years old, lives with her family on Kibbutz Nir Am, located immediately adjacent to Gaza. While not a political video, she speaks eloquently and compellingly from the heart, and with an experience that must be heard in wider circles.

23 July '14..

Dana, 27 years old, lives with her family on Kibbutz Nir Am, located immediately adjacent to Gaza. While not a political video, she speaks eloquently and compellingly from the heart, and with an experience that must be heard in wider circles. If you agree, please help make this happen by sharing this video.

(Or Movement) - Nir Am is a secular agricultural kibbutz in expansion, with 110 families. Nir Am is a well-tended commuinty with lovely green corners, located in geographic area inspiring love toward the place and desire to tour the region. The population of Nir Am is a multi-cultural one, because throughout its existence the kibbutz absorbed graduates of various youth movements in Israel, Latin America, France and Northern Africa, which generated an atmosphere of cultural openness and pluralism. Learn more about Nir Am by clicking here.

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Hamas takes aim and targets Israel’s lifeline

...Hamas believes that its human shield strategy will continue to constrain Israel and protect its headquarters and rocket launchers. But there is a limit to how much pressure the international community can apply, and if Israel’s leaders feel that the threat from Hamas is approaching an unacceptable level, they might loosen rules of engagement and stop answering the phone. I think a rocket barrage aimed at the airport falls into this category. This is even more evidence, if any more is needed, that there must be no ceasefire until Hamas’ offensive capabilities are fully neutralized — whatever that takes.

Vic Rosenthal..
Abu Yehuda..
22 July '14..

News item:

In a sign of increased caution about flying near combat zones, US and European airlines halted flights to Israel Tuesday after a rocket landed near Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines suspended service between the US and Israel indefinitely. US Airways scrapped its one flight to Tel Aviv Tuesday. Germany’s Lufthansa and Air France also suspended flights. The actions come days after a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down over eastern Ukraine with 298 people on board.

Following the action by the US airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration prohibited US airlines from flying to the Tel Aviv airport for 24 hours.

This is a very grave development. Ben-Gurion airport is Israel’s main connection to the rest of the world. The economic and psychological disruption that could occur if it were to be closed for a long period would be very severe.

The immediate cause was a Hamas rocket which landed in Yahud, about 1 mile away, and it appears that Hamas is now trying to fire rockets in this direction, as they have threatened to do. Although the airport itself is protected by an Iron Dome system, it’s easy to see why airlines might be nervous. It’s hard enough flying into busy airspace without having to worry about rockets falling from the sky and Tamir missiles coming up to meet them from below.

In fact, one of the most powerful arguments against withdrawing from Judea and Samaria is that it would enable terrorists to subject the airport to the kind of bombardment that has so far been reserved for Sderot and the kibbutzim next door to Gaza.

An Outrageous Act on Behalf of Hamas - Israel, the FAA, and International Isolation

An Outrageous Act on Behalf of Hamas

Israel was shocked by the FAA's swift and sudden decision Tuesday to suspend all US civilian air traffic to Tel Aviv. The move was made without an investigation, without issuing any warning, and without any discussion with Israel. As my friend Prof. Eugene Kontorovich from Northwestern Law School explains in the post below published on Commentary's website, the FAA's action is over the top when compared to its continued willingness to permit US civilian aircraft to take off and land in Afghanistan. After all, in stark contrast to the situation in Israel, military aircraft in Afghanistan have been downed by Taliban forces. The double standard the FAA has applied to Israel leads necessarily to the conclusion that concern for aircraft safety was not the primary cause for the FAA ruling.
-Caroline Glick

Eugene Kontorovich..
Commentary Magazine..
22 July '14..

For years, peace processors and pundits have threatened that to stop its “growing international isolation,” Israel must make “painful concessions” and withdraw from territory. The “growing isolation” was always a myth. Israel’s trade with Europe has grown constantly in recent years, even as it developed new markets and ties in Asia. Tourism has reached record levels almost every year, as has the number of Israelis traveling abroad. Except to those sensitive to the movements of postmodern dance troupes, the international isolation was a chimera.

Now, however, international isolation has truly arrived–not from holding territory, but from leaving it. With the suspension of American and European flights to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, rockets from Gaza yielded what peace processors said settlement construction would. The flight suspension by all major airlines is a major–even if temporary–economic, diplomatic, and psychological setback for Israel. It finds itself, for the moment, in same position as Iraq, Libya, and Somalia.

The subtext here is that Israel has a sword at its neck: face a private-sector no-fly zone or agree to a cease-fire that lets Hamas keep its rockets, and thus close Ben Gurion Airport again at the time of its choosing. It is a lose-lose proposition.

Yes, Israel faces international isolation–as a consequence of its attempts to avoid international isolation. Of course, nuanced thinkers are already explaining why this should not prejudice further, massive territorial withdraws from the hills immediately overlooking Ben Gurion Airport and the coastal plain.

Everyone is jittery from the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 over Ukraine, they will say. If so, Hamas has succeeded in turning Israel into Donetsk. Moreover, the timing of the FAA’s absurd and unjustified warning seems to have more to do with Kerry’s visit to the region to impose a cease-fire on Israel. Until his administration’s flight ban, that effort seemed entirely futile.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Huge Price of Israeli Restraint

...Yet some of Israel’s critics seem to operate under the impression that Israelis have almost magical powers in warfare and that, if only the mood took them, they could defeat Hamas without causing any significant harm to the surrounding population. Under the circumstances Israel shows incredible restraint. The result is that it cannot stop the rockets or the terror tunnels by airstrikes alone. Instead it has to send in its young men. And because the Israelis insist on showing a concern for Gazan civilians—the like of which is an utter anathema to Hamas—they also withhold the kind of shelling that would make the work of their ground troops much easier. That comes at a most terrible price for the Israeli soldiers and their families.

Tom Wilson..
Commentary Magazine..
22 July '14..

Ever since Israel began its latest Gaza operation in an effort to stop the rocket fire directed against its civilians, calls for Israel to “show restraint” have become a mantra for both the Obama administration and the international community at large. Quite what would constitute both a “restrained” and an effective response goes completely unspecified by those making these calls. Failing any useful suggestions from the outside, Israel’s current strategy has actually shown a great deal of restraint in its effort to balance meeting military objectives with attempting to avoid civilians. So restrained, in fact, that it has inevitably placed limits on Israel’s ability to definitively prevent either rockets or the infiltration of terrorists by sea and tunnel. And this restraint comes with another still greater price for Israelis, a price that is being paid by the young men of Israel’s armed forces.

“It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation! It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation!” an exasperated John Kerry was caught saying over an open mic this weekend. But the Secretary of State knows full well from America’s own military operations just how difficult it is to target guerrilla fighters operating in urban areas without also endangering civilians. What more is it that Kerry thinks Israel should be doing? Should Israel be dropping more warning leaflets and making more phone calls encouraging Gazans to flee the conflict zone? Should Israel be making more last-minute cancellations of strikes when it becomes apparent that civilians might be in the line of fire? Should Israel simply rule out altogether any target that Hamas has embedded in an urban area no matter how crucial hitting it is for stopping Hamas’s terror activities? It is meaningless for outsiders to talk of Israel’s right to defend its people in theory, only to then lambaste Israel’s every effort to do so in practice.

During Israel’s 2009 Operation Cast Lead similar measures were taken to avoid civilian casualties and yet the use of airstrikes was evidently much heavier. This had two results. The first was that casualty figures among Gazans were significantly higher than has so far been the case this time around. And the second was that when the IDF undertook its ground operation in Gaza the number of Israeli soldiers killed by Palestinian militants was limited to six. This time, just a few days into the ground operation, the IDF casualty figure stands at twenty-eight. This is in part because Hamas is now armed with far more advanced (Iranian supplied) weaponry than ever before, as seen with its use of anti-tank mortars. Yet when it comes to fighting in such densely built-up areas as Gaza’s Shejaiya neighborhood, the Israelis have an impossibly difficult calculus to make between risking a greater loss of civilian life by using heavier airpower, or carrying out fewer airstrikes and putting Israeli troops in considerably greater danger.

When looking into the gaping jaws of hell, maybe you should reassess reality

...While I, and I assume many others, believed that we were holding negotiations with the end goal of reaching a deal, Hamas was busy preparing to do its best to take out the State of Israel. This operation has made it clear that Gaza truly is hell. And when you're looking into the gaping jaws of hell, maybe you should reassess reality.

Aharon Lapidot..
Israel Hayom..
22 July '14..

In English, people like this are called "clueless" -- cut off from reality with no idea of what's happening around them. The term came to mind when I was watching foreign correspondents (what network they were from doesn't matter) reporting from Gaza. With their bullet-proof vests, they stand there in the middle of the street against a background of the ruins left as a result of IDF strikes, as women, children, and wounded scurry around them. Difficult images, undoubtedly, and the reporters pepper their reports with even harsher words.

But none of these people notice that the scenes described above are missing a key component. If, God forbid, any rocket were to fall in a populated area in Israel, who would be the first ones to swamp the scene? Correct -- the rescue forces: police officers, soldiers, firefighters, paramedics -- people in uniform. No one in uniform is seen in any of the reports from Gaza. And it seems to me that there is no shortage of uniforms there: We see them in the thousands in constant parades and protests, in propaganda films, in training caps, and even in children's sizes.

Where are the Hamas soldiers and where are the police in Gaza when an Israeli bomb falls? Why don't they direct the stream of displaced people to shelter instead of letting them roam the streets aimlessly? This is probably part of a sophisticated propaganda campaign: Television loves heart-rending, truly heart-rending, scenes like these. On the other hand, we cannot avoid the conclusion that they are hiding underground in the immense tunnel system constructed beneath the city, in Underground Gaza.

A prime time show where the Palestinians provide us with the more romantic story

...For terrorists, the death of innocent children is irrelevant. In a society that promotes martyrdom as the ultimate sign of success, the death of innocent children can sometimes even be seen as a public relations blessing. In every action, intent is paramount. There should never be a moral equivalence painted between the deliberate killing of civilians, and a retaliation that tragically leads to casualties among civilians. There is, however, one small difference: in the Middle East, reporters are threatened, except in Israel. Their choice becomes a simple one: promote the Palestinian point of view or stop working in the West Bank. Keep the eye of the camera dirty or lose your job. This show should not go on.

Pierre Rehov..
Gatestone Institute..
22 July '14..

"This whole conflict," the foreign journalist said over coffee, "is a prime time show; the Palestinians provide us with the more romantic story."

Terrorism is a show; it needs a producer and a distributor. Without a certain complicity from the international media, terrorism would not be so effective and might even disappear altogether.

While Hamas is raining rockets and missiles on the Israeli civilian population, and in return, is suffering a high level of destruction and hundreds of casualties as a result of collateral damage, one might ask: "What is the purpose?" The same question is also true of suicide terrorism. The genuine aim seems to be to gather sympathy while terrorizing the enemy, with an audience on an unlimited number of channels.

Casualties, in this show, whether Arab or Israeli, always play for the same side of the conflict: the one they hope will gain the most sympathy for the victims. These are usually Hamas and other terror organizations. In this round, they are mostly of Muslim origin, originate in the Palestinian territories and are funded by Iran and other countries with oil revenues

If a rocket succeeds in going through Israel's anti-missile defense and causing damage to Israel, Hamas is "showing its strength," by hitting the Jewish state. If a retaliation by Israel sadly results in the death of Arab civilians, Hamas is "showing how inhuman Israel is," and therefore how much Israel deserves the world's opprobrium. For Hamas and similar terror groups, therefore, the "show" is always a win-win.

Why is the dirty eye of the camera always playing for the same actors? Let us forget antisemitism, which obviously plays a role in this current equation. Many media outlets even belong to Jews, but they use the same images, often from the same point of view.

The reality is that terrorists, activists, Palestinian fighters or whatever you want to call them, long ago learned the weakness of democracies. In societies where the distribution of power is the key to freedom, freedom of speech is a solid counter-power, capable of revealing corruption, denouncing a policy, and reshaping a system. The media are the real leaders of the free world.

The Second Intifada that began in 2000, for instance, had been prepared a long time before. It took on a religious name, referring to a mosque built on the ruins of the Jewish temple. It was ready to be launched immediately after Yasser Arafat rejected Prime Minister Ehud Barak's offer of 98% of the Palestinian territorial demands in exchange for a lasting peace. The Intifada needed only a "marketing gimmick" before it exploded in the face of the world and led to thousands of casualties on both sides. Arafat found its gimmick: the (innocent?) help and complicity of a French television channel, France 2. Nothing was easier than to post a Palestinian cameraman between an Israeli base and two unfortunate actors, then eventually plant close by a shooter armed with an AK47, and be ready for a big scoop: Lights, Camera... Action!

The image of the supposed shooting of young Mohammed al-Dura, cowering against his father and then falling under fire -- with no blood! -- had more success than any video on YouTube. Never mind that the footage of him lifting his arm to look out after he had allegedly been killed was later shown in French court, and that several minutes of footage are still "missing."

The event was sold as the best of all reality shows. Israel, of course, was the villain, and even the grisly lynching of two Israeli reserve soldiers in Ramallah a few days later did not have the same impact on the world's opinion: they were grown men, not boys, and soldiers who had lost their way, not civilians.

The Irrelevance and End of the Liberal Critique of Israel

...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.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
21 July '14..

After several days of personally observing the people of Israel reacting to rocket attacks and the grim reality of the fight against Hamas in Gaza, the irrelevance of most of the things the country’s American critics say about it has never seemed more obvious to me. 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.

Where the only road to peace runs through victory

...If we give Kerry the benefit of the doubt and assume that his primary concern is humanitarian, then he should follow the path that will bring the war to an end as soon as possible, in such a way as to make it unlikely to resume for as long as possible. That means letting the conflict take its course, while fully supporting Israel in defeating and disarming Hamas, destroying its rockets and tunnels, and putting in place a system that will keep it from recovering its ability to fight.

Vic Rosenthal..
Abu Yehuda..
21 July '14..

This bloody past suggests to us that enemies cease hostilities only when they are battered enough to acknowledge that there is no hope in victory — and thus that further resistance means only useless sacrifice. Victor Davis Hanson

Many of us have welcomed statements from various world leaders, including those of the US, which affirm Israel’s right to defend herself, and accuse Hamas of aggression and war crimes.

As I have written countless times — particularly with respect to the US — it isn’t words that count, it is actions. And sometimes what appear to be supportive words are accompanied by actions that are not so supportive.

For example, here is John Kerry responding to a question from Fox News’ Chris Wallace:

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, when you said it’s a hell of a pinpoint operation, are you upset that the Israelis are going too far, and in fact, do you intend to go back to the Middle East tonight, sir?

SECRETARY KERRY: I think it’s very, very difficult in these situations, obviously very difficult, Chris. You have people who’ve come out of tunnels. You have a right to go in and take out those tunnels. We completely support that, and we support Israel’s right to defend itself against rockets that are continuing to come in. Hamas has started this process of rocketing after Israel was trying to find the people who killed three young – and one American kid, three young Israeli citizens. It’s disgraceful.

And so, yeah, it’s tough. It’s tough to have this kind of operation, and I reacted obviously in a way that anybody does with respect to young children and civilians. But war is tough, and I said that publicly and I’ll say it again. We defend Israel’s right to do what it is doing in order to get at those tunnels. Israel has accepted a unilateral ceasefire. It’s accepted the Egyptian plan, which we also support. And it is important for Hamas to now step up and be reasonable and understand that you accept a ceasefire, you save lives, and that’s the way we can proceed to have a discussion about all of the underlying issues which President Obama has clearly indicated a willingness to do.

It sounds very supportive. But the cease-fire that Kerry is coming to the Middle East to demand would prevent Israel from destroying the tunnels that Israeli soldiers have, at a shockingly high cost, so far kept from becoming instruments of mass murder. It would prevent Israel from finding the storerooms and production facilities for those rockets, that a combination of technology and luck have so far kept from killing hundreds of Israelis.

Kerry’s intentions contradict his words. If Israel has a “right to do what it is doing,” then it has a right to continue doing it until its objective is attained. Cynical Israelis can be excused for assuming that Kerry’s urgency is due more to the strategic effect of Israel’s ongoing operations than to the number of civilian casualties — indeed, they ask, if he is worried about noncombatant casualties, why doesn’t he go to Syria or Iraq? Why doesn’t he demand an immediate stop to the vicious ethnic cleansing of Christians in Mosul? The world is full of conflicts much more deadly than the one in Gaza.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Surprise! UNRWA Gives Rockets to Hamas; Why is U.S. Still Funding It?

...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.

Evelyn Gordon..
Commentary Magazine..
20 July '14..

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?

Time to Pursue a Decisive and Unmistakable Outcome

...Each battle entails its own set of circumstances and emotional toll, but the result of the military campaign as a whole will be the one to determine the future of Israel. We cannot afford another round of violence and we have the moral right to do whatever it takes not to be held hostage by radical fanatics. We must use this opportunity to indicate to others that when it comes to the threat of terror, our patience has worn out.

Tzvika Fogel..
Israel Hayom..
21 July '14..

Today, one can only hope, the war outlined by Hamas leaders Mohammed Deif, Marwan Issa and their Islamic Jihad counterparts, is clear to all. Ten thousand rockets, thousands of mortal shells, dozens of terror tunnels, hundreds of tons of explosives, drones, amphibian terror cells, and thousand of murderous terrorists, all aimed against the Israel Defense Forces and Israel as a whole.

The terrorists meant to overrun communities near the border, commit mass murder, carry out abductions and wreak havoc in their wake. Hamas has been training for such attacks since it seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Hamas has never recognized our right to live here and has gone to great lengths to exhaust its nefarious intents.

This horrific scenario was outlined by hate-filled minds immediately after 2008's Operation Cast Lead was concluded, when Israel's aerial superiority became clear. Hamas' plans was upset slightly by 2012's Operation Pillar of Defense and Abdel Fattah el-Sissi rise to power in Egypt, but the original outline was always clear in Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal's and Ismail Haniyeh's minds.

The Islamic bloodlust coursing through their veins was realized mostly due to our inability to put the pieces of the intelligence puzzle completely together. The funds, donations, and raw materials funneled to Gaza by Israel and many other nations to facilitate the Gazans' hope for a better future were seized and used by Hamas leaders to create the military and human infrastructure of their terrorist venture.

What the world still does not have clear

...If you consider that something like 2000 military targets placed among the civilian population have been hit till now, you can realize how it is hard for the IDF to defend, besides the Israeli children, also the Palestinian ones. I wish that the people of Gaza could do it, in defiance of Hamas.

Fiamma Nirenstein..
Times of Israel..
20 July '14..

The greatest sorrow in this war springs out from the incomprehensible inability of the world to realize what is actually going on here. Journalists and public opinion, which feel virtuous for denouncing the death of Palestinian children, completely ignore the reasons why these casualties occur. Painful reasons for the Palestinians as well as for the Israelis.

First of all, there is a sort of tacit and cynical disapproval for the fact that Israeli children do not die, or do not die enough. But the truth is that while Israeli children, contrary to the Palestinians, are the deliberate target of the thousands of missiles fired from Gaza, they are also the treasure of Israel, which undertake infinite measures to protect them, with the shelters, the red alert, with expensive defence systems, with continuous monitoring of the school timetable with a continuous surveillance by their parents.

Two kindergartens have already been completely destroyed, but the children were not in the classrooms: because the danger for children is the first preoccupation for Israel, because the keyword here is prevention and the authorities ordered to keep those kindergartens closed that day.

For Hamas it is the exact opposite: the UNRWA itself (better late than never) just denounced that one of its schools in the Gaza Strip has been transformed into a missile deposit. UNRWA could report this violation, but what about the other schools in Gaza, public or private? They are not able to report these kind of abuses because they are afraid of Hamas. Hamas rules the Gaza Strip, it orders to transform public institutions, private homes, schools, mosques into weapons storage centers.

(+Video) PM Netanyahu's Statement at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv

...At the outset we knew, and I also said, that this could be a long campaign but from the history of our people we know a simple truth – the eternal people do not fear a long road. We are proud of our heroic soldiers. With the Almighty's help, and theirs, we will succeed."

Dr. Aaron Lerner..
2o July '14..

[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: These remarks were followed by remarks by Defense Minister Yaalon.

One note about the difference in their remarks: while PM Netanyahu seemed to talk about what was already achieved ("Regarding the tunnels, the current operation has significantly damaged Hamas's underground offensive capability against the State of Israel.") the DM indicated that 2-3 days of work on the tunnels would be needed get the job done.

The DM's remarks are included in the PM's YouTube video

These opening remarks were followed by the most interesting Q&A session I have ever heard in Israel. The questions were top quality and the answers had a depth that reflected both that there was a lot of thinking behind the explanations being offered and also a desire to have the audience understand and appreciate the answers. Unfortunately, the Israeli TV stations covering the press conference broke away in the middle of the press conference and the press release below only covers the opening remarks. Hopefully a follow up press release will include the rest of the transcript. Or at least it will be uploaded to the YouTube.]

PM Netanyahu's Statement at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Sunday, 20 July 2014), at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, issued the following statement:

"The heart of the entire nation is with the families of the fallen. We feel your pain. We bow our head to your sons who fell so that we can continue living here. On behalf of the Government and the entire People of Israel, I would like to express the deep pain that we feel. We send our condolences to the parents, children, spouses and families of the IDF soldiers who have fallen in defense of the State of Israel.

I would like to say to you that there is no war more just than that in which your sons and ours heroically fell. We will complete the mission that we have begun. We will restore quiet and security to the south, the center and the entire country.

A conflict that Hamas planned long in advance

...Israel faces both a short-term and long-term challenge at this point. The short-term one is the need to hurt Hamas as much as possible while not giving in to the international pressure to stop fighting before Hamas is thoroughly disarmed. Hamas, of course, is doing its best to increase such pressure, crying victim and even encouraging its population to behave in ways that will create civilian casualties.

Vic Rosenthal..
Abu Yehuda..
20 July '14..

This morning I awoke to hear that at least 13, probably more, IDF soldiers were killed in battles with Hamas fighters in Gaza. Quite a few Hamasniks, and undoubtedly some civilians were killed as well. Now we are beginning to hear from the usual suspects that the IDF committed a horrible massacre, deliberately murdering women and children, etc.

They are also saying that Israel started this war, in order to commit a genocide on the population of Gaza. All Hamas wants is for Israel to lift its blockade, release prisoners, pay Hamas employees, and so forth. Then we can live at peace, at least until the hudna expires in 10 years (or sooner, if Hamas feels strong enough to move up its timetable). For some reason, Israel is not buying this idea!

Israel’s security cabinet was divided on the question of whether to OK the ground invasion, because everyone knew that it would unavoidably lead to deaths of IDF troops and Arab civilians. What tipped the balance was the opening of a tunnel and the infiltration of a group of heavily armed terrorists close to a small kibbutz near Gaza. Had they not been detected (by an all female IDF unit!) and intercepted, they would certainly have killed dozens of kibbutz residents and possibly taken hostages.

The IDF is aware of many such tunnels (I saw a report that some 20 or 30 have already been uncovered since the beginning of the ground action). Terrorists have been killed or captured in possession of heavy weapons and such things as handcuffs and anesthetics that would be used to take hostages. The amount of death and destruction that could be spread inside Israel if a group of gunmen succeed in infiltrating through these tunnels can only be imagined. Think of what 10 or 15 trained terrorists could do in a crowded city!

The tunnels take months to dig. They are lined with concrete — remember when the ‘international community’ was complaining about how the mean Israelis weren’t letting Hamas import cement and other construction materials? Apparently, between the smuggling tunnels under the Egyptian border that have just recently been destroyed by the al-Sisi regime and the materials Israel agreed to allow through its crossings in response to international pressure, Hamas got what it needed. Despite the fact that some 42,000 government workers did not receive their salaries for months, Hamas found the money to pay the tunnelers and the cement to build the tunnels.