Tuesday, September 16, 2014

UN Peacekeepers Stop Pretending to Keep Peace - The End of an Era

...The international community also likes the idea of considering the Golan Heights occupied Syrian territory. They should ask the UN peacekeeping forces if they’d like the land to which they’ve currently retreated to still be on the Syrian side of the border. They should ask that question, by the way, while there still is technically a country called Syria.

Seth Mandel..
Commentary Magazine..
15 September '14..

The United Nations has come up with a strange follow-up to Israel’s credible accusations that UN facilities allowed themselves to be used essentially as human shields for Hamas in Gaza: the UN is now, apparently, using Israeli soldiers as human shields up north. Somehow I don’t think that’s what Israeli authorities had in mind when they protested the UN’s one-sided wartime behavior.

What appears to have happened, and which has been confirmed by UN spokesmen, is that UN peacekeeping forces on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights are in retreat. They have, in fact, left Syria. The phrase “peacekeeping forces” should have made them aware of the fact that they would not be supervising a game of hacky sack. A peacekeeping force, theoretically, would arrive during a period of temporary peace to ensure it becomes a permanent peace. The UN forces see it differently.

An AP story today very gently and generously breaks the news, and in doing so buries the lede a bit:

The United Nations said Monday it has withdrawn its peacekeepers from many positions on the Golan Heights because of escalating fighting in the war between Syrian government forces and opposition fighters.

Which positions on the Golan Heights? Asked and answered:

The situation has deteriorated severely over the last few days and advances by armed groups posed “a direct threat to the safety and security of the U.N. peacekeepers” along the Syrian side of the border and in Camp Faouar where many troops are based, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. He said all troops in those areas have been relocated to the Israeli side of the border.

The Syrian side of the border! That’s seems pretty significant. Indeed, it’s the end of an era, as AP notes:

The 1,200-strong U.N. force has patrolled a buffer zone between Syria and Israel since 1974, a year after the Arab-Israeli war. For nearly four decades, U.N. monitors helped enforce a stable truce between Israel and Syria, but the spillover from the Syrian war has led to the abduction of peacekeepers four times since March 2013, made troop contributors wary, and led several countries to withdraw their soldiers.

But all is not lost. It’s possible, says the UN–though they don’t know for sure–that someone affiliated with the UN is still in Syria, somewhere, keeping some kind of peace:

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told The Associated Press earlier that he doesn’t think every single post has been vacated.

Seems like an important detail. But never mind. The important thing is that the UN peacekeepers are safe, hiding behind Israelis.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Anyone surprised? BBC’s ‘reporter in the rubble’ theme gets its own feature

...Rather than investing the work of the nine BBC staff members it took to produce this feature in an in-depth investigation of how considerable sums of European tax-payers’ money has been misappropriated by Hamas over the years, the BBC has instead produced a feature designed solely to feed BBC audiences with yet more out of context images of rubble and damage in the Gaza Strip and to continue the campaign being promoted by the BBC in general – and Yolande Knell in particular – with regard to the border restrictions made necessary by the very terrorism which also brought about those images.

Hadar Sela..
BBC Watch..
15 September '14..

On September 15th a big feature titled “Gaza: Life amid the rubble” by Yolande Knell and no fewer than eight additional contributors appeared on the BBC News website’s main homepage and on its Middle East page, with the item being heavily promoted on various BBC Twitter accounts.

Almost two months on – and long after clarification of the circumstances of the battles in Shuja’iya – the BBC continues to misrepresent the events as partially as it did at the time, promoting many of the same themes which were evident in its initial reporting from the district.

The feature – which includes text, video and photographs – opens:

“More than 400,000 of Gaza’s residents were displaced by Israel’s recent 50-day military operation. Some 18,000 homes were also destroyed and many more were damaged. One of the worst affected neighbourhoods was Shejaiya, near the eastern border, where the Israeli military says it targeted Palestinian militants and their tunnels.”

Note how this conflict has been turned into “Israel’s recent 50-day military operation” with all mention of the missile attacks on the civilian population of Israel – which not only sparked the conflict but persisted until its final minutes – erased from the picture presented to BBC audiences. Notably, another article appearing on the BBC News website the previous day similarly referred to “Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in July” – suggesting that such framing is not coincidental.

As has been the case in all of its reporting from the Gaza Strip since July 8th, the BBC continues in this item to conceal from audience view the issue of buildings deliberately booby-trapped by Hamas and other terrorist organisations or those hit by missiles misfired by terrorists or destroyed as a result of their being used to store explosives. BBC audiences are hence led towards the mistaken belief that every single structure damaged or destroyed in the Gaza Strip during the seven weeks of conflict was the result of Israeli actions.

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The most ancient of indigenous Middle Eastern peoples vs. the colonialist myth

...We must re-assert that Jews are the most ancient of indigenous Middle Eastern peoples, with a history of continuous residence in what is now known as the Arab world going back 3,000 years. Moreover, the colonial relationship between Sephardi/Mizrahi Jews and the Arab Muslim conquerors is the exact opposite of what reporters and western observers believe: the Jews of the region are the colonised and the Muslims the colonisers. For fourteen centuries, Jews survived at the beck and sufferance of their Muslim rulers.

Lyn Julius..
Times of Israel..
15 September '14..

This summer’s Gaza war has highlighted the role of the media and opinion formers in shaping a hostile view of Israel and a more favourable understanding of Hamas. Two journalists, formerly staffers with mainstream media, Matti Friedman and Tom Gross, have called the biased reporting on the Arab-Israeli conflict a ‘political weapon – with which they arm one side in the conflict.’

There are many reasons why journalists have become accessories to Hamas’s propaganda war, behaving as activists rather than reporters. They relay a picture of Palestinian victimhood and Israeli extremism and intransigeance, suppressing any facts that make a nonsense of this narrative. Tom Gross identifies one reason:

” …Many have a kind of guilt about being white and Western, and the history of their own colonization. Israel is perceived as a white country and the Palestinians are perceived as non-white, even though in fact many Palestinians have lighter skin than some Israelis. Many Western journalists abroad have barely heard of the fact that there are Sephardi or Mizrahi Jews.”

This is a key reason why organisations like mine, Harif, have been trying to raise awareness that Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews constitue over 50 percent of Israel’s population.

We want people to ask why these Jews ended up in Israel. They did not move to Israel only out of Zionism, although this was a factor : the majority fled their countries as refugees – out of fear, to escape harassment, violence and death.

They fled the same conditions of intolerance and bigotry that are now forcing the other non-Muslim minorities of the Middle East to choose between extinction or exodus.

Preparing for the next round but making every effort to push it as far into the future as possible

...The true test is not whether Hamas will continue to rebuild its military might -- in the absence of Israeli occupation that is the only possible scenario (as we learned after Oslo and after the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza) -- the true test is the test of preserved calm. The longer the calm persists, the more of a success the operation will have been. Time will tell, but we have the power to influence how the future will unfold, and we must not forget or neglect that despite the complexity.

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror..
Israel Hayom..
14 September '14..

Last week media outlets in Israel quoted a diplomatic official as warning that Hamas has resumed manufacturing rockets and has begun rebuilding the terror tunnels destroyed by the Israel Defense Forces during the recent Gaza operation. I dare surmise that the reports were merely attempts to demonstrate how badly Israel's Gaza operation had failed rather than the product of reliable information. However, I do believe that at some point in the future Hamas will in fact resume manufacturing rockets and digging tunnels. After all, that is the nature of the cease-fire agreement: Both sides preserve the calm while preparing for the next confrontation.

Anyone with eyes can see that in order to obviate preparing for a future confrontation, or to prevent a future confrontation for that matter, the recent operation should have been handled differently. The IDF should have re-conquered the Strip, or at least Gaza City and its immediate surroundings and paid the price that occupation entails in order to clean out the city. Israel should have been able to sacrifice more Israeli soldiers and kill more Palestinians, including many civilians. The occupation would have been short, but the cleansing process would have gone on for months. The damage incurred by the fighting and the subsequent cleansing and the demolition of tunnels would have been immense, much greater than the devastation actually suffered by the Palestinians (itself not at all trivial). Finally, Israel would have remained as the only entity required by law to ensure the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Gaza and its residents.

The moment Israel decided not to pay the price these actions entail it became obvious that there was no way to break Hamas' will to fight or to prevent it from remaining in power after the operation's end. All the proposed alternatives were, and are, completely unrealistic both militarily (to cut off the head of the snake) and in regard to the aftermath (transfer authority over to the U.N. or hand Gaza over to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas).

Therefore, having no illusions about the future, we must prepare for the next operation while simultaneously making every effort to push it as far into the future as possible. And it is possible. But in order to do so we must instate a very clear policy under which Israel responds to every cease-fire violation with force and immediacy.

The rules of the game will be decided by our response to the first instances of rocket fire, so it is important to really think about what we will do when that happens. Fortunately for us, on the other side there is a different Egypt, not the Egypt that was completely passive during the Mubarak era or the Egypt that actively supported Hamas during the reign of Mohammed Morsi. The current Egyptian leadership understands that Hamas poses as much of a threat to Egypt as it does to Israel, and will make much more of an effort to prevent Hamas from regaining its power. But even then, Hamas will inevitably try, and may occasionally succeed, to smuggle weapons and other materials into the Strip, because military power is its raison d'ĂȘtre and it will never give it up.

Who would've thought? Gaza landlords refusing to rent to Hamas

Landlords are worried that their homes will be targeted by Israel if Hamas members are inside; Hamas official calls this trend "a dangerous one."


Khaled Abu Toameh..
Arab-Israeli Conflict/JPost..
14 September '14..

Landlords in the Gaza Strip are refusing to rent apartments to Hamas members and their families, a senior Hamas official revealed on Sunday.

Musa Abu Marzouk, a political leader of Hamas based in Egypt who recently toured the Gaza Strip, pointed out that landlords were afraid to rent out their apartments out of fear they would be targeted by Israel in the future.

“The phenomenon of refusing to rent out homes to families of resistance fighters is a dangerous one,” Abu Marzouk wrote on his Facebook page. “The landlords are punishing the resistance fighters and their families.”

Palestinians are indebted to those who made sacrifices for their people, who are required to embrace them, he added.

“This is what the occupation wants by targeting the homes of the resistance fighters,” he said.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Unbelievable! Gaza Power Plant Miraculously Repaired

...Who needs truth when you can so easily obtain anti-Israel lies?

Elder of Ziyon..
14 September '14..






The Guardian reported on July 29:

Flames and clouds of black smoke billowed over Gaza's only power plant on after it was destroyed during the most relentless and widespread Israeli bombardment of the current conflict.

"The power plant is finished," said its director, Mohammed al-Sharif, signalling a new crisis for Gaza's 1.8 million people, who were already enduring power cuts of more than 20 hours a day.

Amnesty International said the crippling of the power station amounted to "collective punishment of Palestinians". The strike on the plant will worsen already severe problems with Gaza's water supply, sewage treatment and power supplies to medical facilities.

"We need at least one year to repair the power plant, the turbines, the fuel tanks and the control room," said Fathi Sheik Khalil of the Gaza energy authority. "Everything was burned." He said crew members who had been trapped by the fire for several hours were evacuated.

It wasn't only The Guardian that said this. The Times (UK), Haaretz, the ICRC,and many others reported that the power plant was "destroyed."

Israel denied attacking the power plant or having bombed anything in the vicinity that day but that news was barely reported outside being buried in single CNN report. That didn't stop Amnesty and HRW from blaming Israel for the attack, and not one media outlet or NGO even considered that Hamas may have attacked Gaza infrastructure and been guilty of war crimes in order to increase suffering - which was a major part of its war strategy.

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Those who don't see fit to protect their brothers' lives

...This en masse absence without leave is an immoral act by people without a conscience. I am repulsed by the Hebrew expression "beautiful souls" that is commonly used to describe people like these. There is nothing beautiful about the souls of those who leave their posts, about those who don't see fit to protect their brothers' lives. Self-justification isn't justice and piety isn't devotion.

Uri Heitner..
Israel Hayom..
14 September '14..

A total of 1,500 Israelis were murdered in terrorist attacks in the decade following the Oslo Accords (1993-2003). In the 10 years after that, there were nearly no attacks. This was not due to a change in the Palestinians' beliefs or motivation. It was the result of a daily war against Palestinian terrorism through military operations and intelligence, a fight that saved human lives. Obviously, the terrorists continue to employ other methods, like firing rockets and digging attack tunnels, and the struggle against them continues -- a hard one, fought every day, mostly drudgery. Thousands of soldiers and members of the security forces are part of it. Some are combat soldiers, and some are in intelligence.

The IDF's Unit 8200 is one of the most important arms in protecting the State of Israel in general, and fighting the Palestinian enemy in particular. In exhausting, daily gruntwork of bugging and intercepting information its soldiers put details together, and the information they bring in thwarts terrorist attacks by helping the Israel Defense Forces stop suicide bombers or take out a terrorist operative. They do holy work.

The state owes them a great deal and gives them a great deal in return. They enjoy much better service conditions than the combat troops. They don't put their lives at risk. And in civilian life, the knowledge and experience they acquire through the enormous resources invested in their training opens doors in the high-tech sector in Israel and abroad, as well as paving the way to top management positions in Israel.

And now, a group of reservists from the Unit 8200 has stood up and decided to throw it all away, to abandon their posts in the war on terrorism. These people in whom the government invested vast resources in training and exempted from military roles that would endanger their lives, because it understood that they were necessary to the defense of the state and the lives of its citizens, have suddenly decided not to repay the state's investment, to go AWOL from the fight, to abandon their posts, to stand by in the face of their fellow citizens' spilled blood -- the blood of children -- while continuing to get rich thanks to all we put into them.

Is there any accounting for the media's ongoing acceptance of Gaza myth-making?

...If we can find evidence of this kind about open spaces and what they might mean using open source images and reports only, and Associated Press's best people cannot, what is actually going on here?

Really? No open spaces in Gaza?
[
Image Source: Peace Now]
Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
13 September '14..

An Associated Press article published this morning ["Evidence growing that Hamas used residential areas"] makes a startling observation:

Two weeks after the end of the Gaza war, there is growing evidence that Hamas militants used residential areas as cover for launching rockets at Israel, at least at times. Even Hamas now admits "mistakes" were made. But Hamas says it had little choice in Gaza's crowded urban landscape, took safeguards to keep people away from the fighting, and that a heavy-handed Israeli response is to blame for the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians. "Gaza, from Beit Hanoun in the north to Rafah in the south, is one uninterrupted urban chain that Israel has turned into a war zone," said Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official in Gaza... [AP, today]

Beyond the "no, duh" reaction of those of who actually pay attention to issues like the firing of rockets from locations deliberately close to people, journalists, schools, and UN facilities, the AP writers - Hamza Hendawi and Josef Federman, both of them senior reporters - seem to treat the Hamas terrorist spokesperson as a credible authority about the absence of Gazan open spaces without justification and against all the evidence, while failing to use their own powers of observation.

Do they believe what they wrote? Should their readers? Do they know how much of the Gaza Strip is made up of sparsely populated open, sandy spaces? They should. And they should say so.

In a punchy August 5, 2014 article on the Gatehouse Institute website, prominent Harvard professor and litigation lawyer Alan Dershowitz writes ["The empty spaces in Gaza"] asks the questions that AP's men should have raised. And he suggests answers:

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The Israeli Left. A Group Yet So Smitten With Itself

...In Israel, they are not in danger of being killed by the government or the army for criticizing policy and actions, as might happen in other places in our geographical neighborhood. They do risk public censure, however, and the writers of this letter were aware of this potential cost and seem to accept that as a consequence for speaking out against what they consider to be wrong. I can respect that. However, their use of their own obvious political agenda as a basis upon which to judge military tactics or strategy as unethical and immoral is, in my opinion, unethical, immoral and unfounded.

Sheri Oz..
Times of Israel..
13 September '14..

I must say that I am very impressed with the ability of some Israeli leftists to be so enamored with their sense of righteousness that an otherwise significant message gets lost in a whole lot of garbage. And I wouldn’t be surprised if what they did is against the law as well.

What do 43 Israeli elite intelligence reserve personnel think makes them so special that they designate themselves as protectors of ethics and morals in this country? Their scathing letter to the Prime Minister and the IDF Chief of General Staff and Head of Intelligence found its way to the media and a lengthy article on the group of 43 was published in Ynet on 9 September 2014. It was implied that many more agree with this stance but refrained from identifying themselves with it for fear of repercussions.

The Ynet article opens with an epiphany on the part of one of the group: after having seen a movie about East Germany, he realized that he had been engaged in the same kind of intrusive behavior regarding Palestinians as that country’s dreaded secret police had done regarding its own civilian population. That would certainly be reason to reconsider what one had done as an intelligence officer, and the ethical self-exploration of all the letter signers is worthy of admiration. My issue with them is not with their examination of their beliefs and their struggle with their conscience, but rather, with the manner in which they chose to expose the nature of their operations to all and their holier than thou attitude.

While the Ynet article did not once associate the group with the political left of Israel, it is clear from their original letter in Hebrew that they are so aligned. Let me give a few examples from the letter (my translation): They talk about millions of Palestinians living under Israeli military control, about the occupied territories, settlement expansion, economic exploitation of land on the West Bank, collective punishment of the Gaza population and the separation fence. In short, all the rhetoric that is familiar to us from leftists. They claim that their intelligence activities were for the purposes of promoting these injustices and not for enhancing Israeli self-defense.

I wonder what makes them think that they are privy to the decision making levels in the army and government that would allow them to reasonably base such a determination that their intelligence is for promoting ‘The Occupation’ and not the defense of our country? Just because you believe Israel is wrong in hanging onto the West Bank and not yet signing a peace treaty with the Palestinians does not mean that you know enough about what is going on in the wings of the diplomatic stage or that you totally understand Israel’s defense needs to be able to make such damning statements. Political beliefs do not give one the privilege of knowing the difference between political and defense goals.

I have been told, by someone who I believe has access to accurate information, that Israelis do not know how many terrorist attacks are snuffed out before their execution. We do not know, because those that were prevented never make the news. And how does the army know about these intended attacks? Is it not the intelligence provided by the very unit to which our supposedly ethically motivated conscientious objectors belong that gives us the means to know?

For sure, it is a distasteful task to listen in to private conversations and know that the ‘dirt’ you pick up on will be used to find informants. But I think that that is a far less distasteful task than that of ZAKA picking up body parts and human tissue after a terrorist attack.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Meeting the doctor who saved his life

"You see," Zlotnick says. "One day, a boy becomes a man, and he is a man from A to Z whenever he does what needs to be done, without thinking twice. This is the foundation of our country, these youngsters who don't stop regardless of the circumstances. I helped him to continue to live, but everything that has happened since then, and whatever happens in the future, will be solely because of him."

Bat Hen Epstein Elias..
Israel Hayom..
12 September '14..

It is a Saturday night in mid-July in the Gaza Strip. Confused and in excruciating pain, Lt. Amos is lying on a stretcher. Two days ago, the 23-year-old entered Rafah. Now, he isn't quite sure where he is. Deafening noises are all around him. Soldiers are running to and fro. Vehicle engines are roaring in the background. Voices are crackling over communication devices. The noise of a helicopter landing nearby drowns out all the other sounds.

Amos feels his stretcher being lifted off the ground. He is passed from one pair of hands to another, and is set down on the floor of the helicopter.

"Head injury," someone, perhaps a doctor, yells nearby. "He's conscious. His condition is stable."

The doors shut and the helicopter takes off. Amos is short of breath, dazed and in pain. Everything feels as if it's closing in on him.

Somebody takes him by the hand. His injuries trigger more pain. Amos begins to lose control and feels himself screaming.

In his confusion, Amos tries to get up and leave. He wants to be out there, in the field, with his troops. He is unaware that he has a serious head injury and that shrapnel has penetrated one of his eyes and one of his hands. He came here to fight, to be in the field. He feels he is losing his sanity. Then, silence.

Last week, we visited Amos at the head injury and rehabilitation ward at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer as he waited excitedly to meet the doctor who worked to save his life in the helicopter.

Maj. (res.) Prof. Alex Zlotnick, a 42-year-old anestheologist at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, comes smiling into the room. Amos shakes his hand warmly, and the expression on his face says it all. The doctor looks at him carefully.

"Yes, now I can tell that it's you," he says. "You might have lost a bit of weight. I saw you during the intense fighting, and I can also tell it's you by the injuries. It's very emotional for me to see you like this, standing on your feet."

He pats Amos on the shoulder.

"The way I look at it, you are a very special patient, because I got to see you in those initial moments in the field and again now," he says.