Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Contemplating Gaza

Gaza spoof

Why Netanyahu doesn’t want to go ‘all the way’ -David Horovitz

Also worth remembering, as Netanyahu holds back, is his unyielding focus on the Iranian nuclear weapon drive. If necessary, he has said time and again, Israel will act alone to stop Iran attaining the bomb. Netanyahu emphatically considers the Iranian program an existential threat to Israel, and is anything but confident in the will of the international community to avert it.

Becoming deeply embroiled in a major, bloody war in Gaza is a distraction he may be intent on avoiding. He may also be concerned at exhausting such tolerance for Israeli military action as still exists internationally over Gaza — where the scenes of devastation, death and helplessness effortlessly trump the most articulate efforts to explain why this is all Hamas’s fault — when he may need it over Iran.
[The Times of Israel]

No Economic Aid to Hamas-Ruled Gaza -Efraim Inbar

The developing international consensus to offer Gaza an economic package in order to convince Hamas to agree to a ceasefire is immoral and a strategic folly. It is also unlikely to be effective.

Getting paid for stopping to shoot at Israeli civilians looks like the "protection money" collected by the Mafia.

The morality of pouring money into Gaza so that their civilians can live better remains questionable for as long as Hamas does not stop its terrorism against Israel. Unfortunately, establishing a clear connection between economic aid and political compliance is not on the agenda of the "peacemakers".

Furthermore, we should not forget that the essence of war is a competition of inflicting pain in order to change patterns of behavior. Actually, pain may have a positive value in affecting the learning curve of the warring sides. Israel has tried to influence the learning curve of the Palestinians that aggression against Israel does not pay and that support for Hamas could be costly. While not politically correct, such treatment might be the recipe for turning the Palestinians into peaceful neighbors in the long run.

Moreover, economic aid to Gaza, as long as Hamas stays in control, strengthens its power and its grip over the poor Gazans. Western leaders seem to have foolishly decided that Gaza should speedily be rebuilt! The US efforts to bribe Hamas into behaving (while suspending aid to Egypt), are probably against American laws dealing with terrorist organizations.

Humanitarian aid should be dispensed judiciously, while making sure that it does not preserve poverty and dependence. Even the friends of the Palestinian national movement should realize that it is time for tough love for Gaza.
[Middle East Forum]

Israel Hunts Attack Tunnel Openings - Gili Cohen

To date the IDF has destroyed 2/3 of the Gaza attack tunnels that have been discovered, but officers in the field say that trying to track down all the shafts and openings leading from a given tunnel demands a large investment of resources.

The IDF is now using huge ventilators and smoke machines for this purpose.

It appears that the tunnel used to carry out the attack south of the Karni Crossing on Monday had already been discovered by the IDF, but all its openings were not known.

Micro Robot in Anti-Tunnel Campaign - Barbara Opall-Rome

Israel debuted the Micro Tactical Ground Robot (MTGR) built by Roboteam, a locally developed micro robot, to explore the labyrinth of tunnels and concealed shafts supporting subterranean arms depots, command posts and cross-border attacks from Gaza.

MTGR weighs less than 20 pounds and is built to clear obstacles, climb 8-inch stairs and maneuver in tight, dangerous terrain. Its five onboard cameras, internal microphone and infrared laser points generate intelligence and targeting data 360 degrees around the vehicle.
(Defense News)

Why Do We Blame Israel More? - Carol Hunt
What is the difference between our outrage at the children killed in Gaza and those being killed in Syria? It would be seem to be the people killing them. And if we insist that our disproportionate reaction to those killed by Israel is not anti-Semitic, then what is it?

Europe Funds al-Qaeda...Really

Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror - Rukmini Callimachi  

Kidnapping Europeans for ransom has become a global business for al-Qaeda, bankrolling its operations across the globe. While European governments deny paying ransoms, an investigation by the New York Times found that al-Qaeda and its direct affiliates have taken in at least $125 million in revenue from kidnappings since 2008, of which $66 million was paid just last year.

The U.S. Treasury Department has cited ransom amounts that total $165 million over the same period.

Counterterrorism officials now believe al-Qaeda finances the bulk of its recruitment, training and arms purchases from ransoms paid to free Europeans, making Europe the inadvertent underwriter of al-Qaeda.   
(New York Times)

Obama's Phone Scandal

Israeli TV reported on a leaked transcript of a hostile telephone call between Obama and Netanyahu

US Denies Report on Obama Netanyahu Telephone Call
-Herb Keinon

US President Barack Obama told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in a phone conversation that Israel must immediately stop all military activities in Gaza, and said Jerusalem was not in a position to pick the mediators of a cease-fire, Channel 1 reported Tuesday night.

According to what Channel 1 said was a partial transcript of the Sunday phone call, when Netanyahu asked what Israel would get from stopping its military operation, Obama said that he believed Hamas would stop the firing of rockets, and that “quiet would be met with quiet.”

The White House quickly issued a denial, with Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, calling the supposed transcript of the call “totally false.”

Netanyahu, according to the report, replied to Obama that Hamas was a terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction, and one that had already violated five cease-fires.

Obama reportedly repeated his call for an immediate end to the IDF operation, saying the pictures of the destruction from the Gaza Strip were distancing the world from Israel. He said that a week after the operation ended, Turkey and Qatar would negotiate with Hamas on the basis of the understanding that ended Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012.

When Netanyahu said that Turkey and Qatar were Hamas’s biggest supporters, and it was impossible for Israel to rely on them, Obama reportedly said that he would rely on them, and that Israel was not in a position to chose the mediators.

The ball was in Israel’s court, Obama told Netanyahu, according to the report, and it must stop the military operation.
[Jerusalem Post]

Hostile Obama Tries to Force PM to Accept Truce

Damning evidence has emerged of US President Barack Obama's dismissal of Israel's position in favor of supporting the position of Hamas and its allies during ceasefire talks.

A "senior US official" leaked an audio recording of a telephone conversation between Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Channel One. In it the 35-minute conversation, which took place on Sunday, the US President appears downright hostile at points, and even cuts off Netanyahu in the middle of his protestations over a one-sided truce proposal which would have seen Hamas receive all its key demands, but that Israel ultimately rejected.
[Virtual Jerusalem]

The President’s Call with Prime Minister Netanyahu

Building on Secretary Kerry’s efforts, the President made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement.
[The White House]

Under Obama, America has switched sides -Caroline Glick

When US President Barack Obama phoned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday night he ended any remaining doubt regarding his policy toward Israel and Hamas.

The Obama administration is insisting...[that] the eventual terms of that cease-fire must include opening Hamas-controlled Gaza's borders with Egypt and Israel and ending Israel's maritime blockade of the Gaza coast. That is, the cease-fire must allow Hamas to rebuild its arsenal of death and destruction quickly, with US political and financial support. 

Until Obama made the call, there was lingering doubt among some Israelis regarding his intentions. Some thought that US Secretary of State John Kerry might have been acting of his own accord last Friday night when he tried to force Israel to accept Hamas's cease-fire terms.
But then Obama made his phone call. And all doubts were dispelled. Kerry is just a loyal steward of Obama's foreign policy.   

Obama is siding with Hamas, and its Muslim Brotherhood patrons in Qatar and Turkey, against Israel, and its Sunni Arab supporters — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.  

It is Obama who demands that Hamas have open borders so it can resupply, and receive billions of dollars — starting with an immediate cash injection of $47 million from US taxpayers... 

The discovery that the Obama administration is in Hamas's corner hit all of Israel hard. But it hit the Left the hardest. The Israeli Left went ballistic [against Obama].
The Israeli Left has been Obama's ace in the hole since he first ran for office. They were the grease in the wheels that legitimized the administration's anti-Israel pressure group J Street. They were the ones who could be counted on to tell the US media and American Jews that Netanyahu is to blame for Obama's hostility. 

Yet, rather than backtrack the administration doubled down on Monday, releasing a series of statements condemning the Israeli media's condemnations of Kerry's pro-Hamas position. [T]he administration went so far as to say that by criticizing Kerry, Israel's media were endangering their country's alliance with the US. 

Americans are the ones who need to be most alarmed by what Obama's actions on behalf of Hamas reveal about the general direction of American Middle East policy under his leadership.

The problem is that in every war, in every conflict and in every contest of wills that has occurred in the Middle East since Obama took office, he has sided with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, against America's allies.  

Under Obama, America has switched sides.  
[Jewish World Review]

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Future of the MidEast: Anarchy & Disintegration

"Disintegration" by Richard Kostelanetz

The One-State Solution Is on Our Doorstep -David P. Goldman

A one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is upon us. It won't arrive by Naftali Bennett's proposal to annex the West Bank's Area C, or through the efforts of BDS campaigners and Jewish Voice for Peace to alter the Jewish state. But it will happen, sooner rather than later, as the states on Israel's borders disintegrate and other regional players annex whatever they can. As that happens, Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] is becoming inevitable.

Palestinian organizations are in their worst disarray in 20 years.

Iran's intervention into the Syrian civil conflict has drawn the Sunni powers into a war of attrition that already has displaced more than 10 million people, mostly Sunnis, and put many more at risk. The settled, traditional, tribal life of the Levant has been shattered. Never before in the history of the region have so many young men had so little hope, so few communal ties, and so many reasons to take up arms.

As a result, the central premise of Western diplomacy in the region has been pulled inside-out, namely that a resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue was the key to long-term stability in the Middle East. Now the whole of the surrounding region has become one big refugee crisis.

The region has seen nothing like it since the Mongol invasion of the 13th century. Perpetual war has turned into a snowball that accumulates people and resources as it rolls downhill and strips the ground bare of sustenance. Those who are left shiver in tents in refugee camps, and their young men go off to the war.

As a result of this spiraling warfare, four Arab states—Libya, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq—have effectively ceased to exist.

Lebanon, once a Christian majority country, became a Shia country during the past two decades under the increased domination of Hezbollah. [But then] nearly 2 million Syrian Sunnis have taken refuge in Lebanon, as Israeli analyst Pinhas Inbari observes, and comprise almost half of Lebanon's total population of 4 million, shifting the demographic balance to the Sunnis—while the mass Sunni exodus tilts the balance of power in Syria toward the Alawites and other religious minorities, who are largely allied with Iran. Jordan, meanwhile, has taken in a million Syrian Sunnis, making Palestinians a minority inside Jordan for the first time in a generation. A region that struggled to find sustenance for its people before 2011 has now been flooded with millions of refugees without resources or means of support. They are living for the most part on largesse from the Gulf States, and their young men are prospective cannon fodder.

The remaining states in the region—Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran—will alternately support and suppress the new irregular armies as their interests require.

Israel has little to fear demographically from annexation. Net Jewish immigration and net Arab emigration will combine with higher Jewish fertility to establish a Jewish supermajority over time.

The character of the West Bank population is changing: It is becoming older and more educated, and increasing numbers of Arabs are benefiting from the strong Israeli economy. Over time, West Bank Arabs may embrace Israeli citizenship—when it is offered—as firmly as their counterparts inside the Green Line. The so-called apartheid issue is a canard. Israeli Arabs lived under martial law between the end of the War of Independence in 1949 and 1966, and no one spoke of apartheid. Israel's most pressing problem in the near future may be Arab refugees trying to get in.

[T]he notion that the Palestinians could stay clear of the riptide that has engulfed their neighbors was fanciful to begin with and has now been trampled by events. Over the past two decades, since the Oslo agreements were signed, the Palestine Authority shown little ability to govern anything. After Egypt's military government suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood, it turned viciously against the Brotherhood's Palestinian wing, Hamas, and blockaded Gaza. If the PA were capable of ruling the West Bank, it would have allied with Egypt and Saudi Arabia to further isolate Hamas: Instead the PA formed a national unity government with Hamas. Events have shown that the PA cannot rule without Hamas, and it cannot rule with Hamas; it can neither support nor suppress terrorism on the West Bank. The inability of the Palestine Authority to govern, the inability of Hamas to distance itself from its patron in Tehran, and the collapse of the surrounding states eventually will require Israel to assume control over the West Bank. This time the Israelis will stay.

Israel's border with the Hashemite Kingdom in the Jordan Valley, meanwhile, has become a strategic pivot. ISIS is now operating in strength at the common border of Israel, Syria, Jordan, and occupied Iraqi-Syrian border towns close to the common frontier with Jordan. Jordan's own security requires a strong IDF presence on its western border.

When Israel absorbs Judea and Samaria—and it is a when, not an if—the chancelleries of the West will wag their fingers, and the Gulf States will breathe a sigh of relief.

The historical homeland of the Jewish people will pass into Israeli sovereignty not because the national-religious will it to be so, or because an Israeli government seeks territorial aggrandizement, but because Israel will be the last man standing in the region, the only state able to govern Judea and Samaria, and the only military force capable of securing its borders. It will happen without fanfare, de facto rather than de jure, at some moment in the not-too-distant future when the foreign ministries 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.

Israeli authority will replace the feckless regime of the Palestine Authority in order to maintain public order and ensure that the electricity works, and the roads are secure, and that bands of jihadist marauders or Shiite terrorists do not massacre entire villages; this action will elicit the reflex condemnation from bored and dispirited Western diplomats. The realization of the Zionist dream will then be consummated not with a bang, but a whimper; the bangs will be much louder elsewhere.
[Tablet Magazine]

Monday, July 28, 2014

American Jews Stick With Israel

Rabbi Eric Yoffie

American Jews Are Standing with Israel - Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie

Despite gruesome pictures of civilian casualties in Gaza, American Jewish support for Israel has been unwavering. According to the most recent CNN poll, a majority of Americans believe that Israel's actions in Gaza are justified.

Jewish support for Israel comes from across the religious and political spectrum. Apart from fringe elements, American Jews of all persuasions back Israel's position.

The rule of thumb is that when Israeli Jews are more or less of one mind, American Jews will be united too. Most Jews in Israel, whatever their political orientation or religious outlook, despise Hamas and support the war that their government is waging; and not surprisingly, most American Jews agree with them.

Are American Jews repelled by all the killing? Of course. But they want the fighting to end on terms that will disarm Hamas and not simply pave the way to another round of rockets and terror.
The writer served as president of the Union for Reform Judaism from 1996 to 2012. 

What Was Kerry Thinking?

Livni: Kerry's cease-fire proposal 'completely unacceptable'
-Gil Hoffman

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday that his proposal for a week long cease-fire of Israel's Gaza campaign was "completely unacceptable" and that it "would have strengthened extremists in the region."

At a press conference [Kerry] said that Palestinians “need to live with dignity” and “with goods that can come in and out....”

The tunnels, Kerry said, “have to be dealt with. We understand that; we’re working at that. By the same token, the Palestinians can’t have a cease-fire in which they think the status quo is going to stay and they’re not going to have the ability to be able to begin to live and breathe more freely and move within the crossings and begin to have goods and services that come in from outside.”
[Jerusalem Post]

Kerry Gives New Life to Muslim Brotherhood Alliance - Ari Shavit

Very senior officials in Jerusalem described the proposal that Secretary of State John Kerry put on the table as a "strategic terrorist attack." His decision to go hand in hand with Qatar and Turkey, and formulate a framework amazingly similar to the Hamas framework, was catastrophic.

It put wind in the sails of Hamas' political leader Khaled Meshal, allowed the Hamas extremists to overcome the Hamas moderates, and gave renewed life to the weakened regional alliance of the Muslim Brotherhood.

He Came, He Saw, He Muddled - Herb Keinon

It takes a certain artistry to irritate and annoy not only the Israeli left and the Israeli right at the same time, but also both Jerusalem and Ramallah. Secretary of State John Kerry has found that artistry.

Kerry presented a proposal to Israel that included many of Hamas' demands but none of Israel's. This provided Hamas with a badly needed tailwind. Sure, they were getting clobbered, but they were getting what they wanted. The world was talking to them, recognizing their standing in Gaza, presenting their demands.
(Jerusalem Post)

Now is not the time to take the foot off the pedal

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday that Israel needs to take advantage of the current opportunity to disarm Hamas, rather than acceding to UN requests for a cease-fire.

On the minister's Facebook page Sunday morning, Bennett likened the latest UN cease-fire request to a boxing match where the opponent is knocked to the ground. "A cease-fire would be like lending a hand to the opponent to help him get up, and then giving him something to drink so he can compose himself," he wrote.

Bennett wrote that Hamas is desperate for a cease-fire so its forces can regain their strength and reorganize in order to continue to attack Israeli forces. "Especially at this moment, it's impossible to take the foot off the pedal. Now is the time to be determined," he continued.
[Jerusalem Post]

Kerry's Plan: What Was He Thinking? - Barak Ravid

The draft cease-fire plan that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry passed to Israel on Friday shocked the cabinet ministers not only because it was the opposite of what Kerry told them less than 24 hours earlier, but mostly because it might as well have been penned by Khaled Mashaal. It was everything Hamas could have hoped for. The Israeli security cabinet unanimously rejected Kerry's plan.

U.S. Plan Would Let Hamas Keep Its Rockets - Barak Ravid

The cease-fire draft U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented to Israel on Friday contained practically no mention of Israel's security needs or of demilitarizing Gaza of rockets. The draft also forbade Israel from demolishing terror tunnels running from Gaza into Israeli territory.

Israel: Kerry "Completely Capitulated" to Hamas

Israeli government sources on Saturday night accused U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry of "completely capitulating" to the demands of Hamas and its champion Qatar in drafting the Gaza war cease-fire proposal that Israeli ministers unanimously rejected on Friday. Israeli sources, quoted by Israel's Channel 2 TV, said Kerry "dug a tunnel under the Egyptian cease-fire proposal" - which Israel accepted and Hamas rejected last week - and presented the Israeli government with a text that accepted "most of the demands" raised by Hamas.

The Kerry proposal accepted Hamas demands for the opening of border crossings into Gaza - where Israel and Egypt fear the import of weaponry.
(Times of Israel)

Kerry Disappoints PA with Cease-Fire Proposal

The Palestinian Authority expressed deep disappointment over Secretary Kerry's Paris cease-fire proposal, which was drafted with no consultation with Egypt or the PA.  
(Asharq Al-Awsat-Arabic)

Hamas Planned To Attack Israel on Rosh Hashanah - Ariel Kahana    

Israeli security sources unearthed evidence that Hamas was preparing to dispatch 200 terrorists in one action via tens of tunnels towards six Israeli communities in the western Negev, with a goal of killing and kidnapping tens of Israelis on the Jewish New Year (Sept. 24).

Hamas Killed 160 Palestinian Children to Build Terror Tunnels
- Myer Freimann

Hamas uses child laborers to build their terror tunnels. The Institute for Palestine Studies published a detailed report on Gaza's tunnel phenomenon in the summer of 2012, noting: "At least 160 children have been killed in the tunnels, according to Hamas officials."

Elite IDF Unit Operates Behind Enemy Lines - Yaakov Lappin

Operating behind enemy lines in Gaza, the IDF's elite Maglan unit has attacked dozens of terrorist cells in the last few days, targeting Hamas gunmen waiting in ambush for the IDF's ground forces.

A senior source from the unit revealed that in recent days a recognizable wave of demoralization has washed over Hamas combat battalions. "They simply escape, leaving behind weapons and suicide bomb vests that were laid out for battle. This morning we stormed a position, and they just weren't there. I don't see a determined enemy."
(Jerusalem Post)

Both Egypt and Israel Want to Subdue Hamas
- Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah

A defeat of Hamas is probably what President Sisi wishes for the most.

A victorious or even partially weakened Hamas would have dire implications for the stability of the Egyptian regime, since it would be a model for all those who wish to see an end to the Sisi presidency in Egypt. It is in the national interest of both Egypt and Israel to subdue Hamas and strive for conditions for a permanent cease-fire.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Inside Gaza with the Givati Brigade - Lilach Shoval

Brigade Commander Col. Ofer Vinter said, "The IDF is winning by doing what it knows how to do....I say to the Israeli public: Don't be afraid for us. The IDF is strong. Sometimes things aren't easy, but the fighting isn't so hard here. They fight and run." 
(Israel Hayom)

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

Joan Rivers Nails It

Gaza War Likely To Intensify

The Gaza War: When Strategies Collide - Walter Russell Mead

Israel continues to fight because it believes that with more time, it can destroy enough tunnels and inflict enough damage on Hamas to significantly degrade the organization's military strength and weaken it politically. Furthermore, both Saudi Arabia and Egypt are, perhaps for the first time, quietly rooting for Israel to crush the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Hamas.

Hamas, on the other hand, is elated by its success in temporarily hampering operations at Ben-Gurion Airport. In addition, its fighters have had unexpected success killing Israeli soldiers on the ground...

For Israel, as a small country surrounded by enemies and facing hostile public opinion in the world at large, its security depends in large part on its reputation for military supremacy. That reputation is an advantage that Israel will not lightly give up; hostilities are unlikely to end until and unless the Israelis feel they have made their point.
The attack on Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel's vital link with the rest of the world, is a military game-changer. Israeli defense officials likely feel that they must now eliminate the capacity of Hamas to repeat this attack, and make the consequences so wounding and expensive to Hamas as to reduce the attractiveness of repeat efforts.
(American Interest)

Hamas Is Not About to Fold - Avi Issacharoff

Hamas is adamant that it will continue to fight until Egypt and Israel accept its demands. Hamas has not been sufficiently damaged and does not feel its future is existentially threatened, and therefore is not seeking compromise, much less surrender. Its military and political command echelons are unharmed, its gunmen are killing IDF soldiers, and its rocket capabilities have been slightly weakened but not destroyed.
(Times of Israel)

"There Is a Moment When a Nation Must Protect Itself, and that Moment Is Now"
- Daniel K. Eisenbud

"It's a war about our survival," said retired IDF brigadier general and Yom Kippur War hero Avigdor Kahalani, as he discussed why the IDF must ignore international pressure and stay in Gaza until Hamas is "demilitarized."

"Can you imagine Russia or the U.S. accepting missiles launched into their countries and not reacting?," he asked. "There is a moment when a nation must protect itself, and that moment is now."

"We're living in a jungle, and only the strong survive. If you are weak, they will eat you." "They need to understand that we can't and won't move from here. We don't have a spare country." 
(Jerusalem Post)

Hizbullah's Plan for Underground War - Lee Smith 

Shimon Shapira, a Hizbullah expert and senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:

"Hassan Nasrallah says Hizbullah has a two-part operational plan," says Shapira. "One is rocket fire on Tel Aviv and two is conquest of the Galilee. I wondered what he meant by that?"

"How is Hizbullah going to invade the Galilee, take hostages, capture villages, and overrun military installations? But we're learning from what is happening now [in Gaza]. Nasrallah means Hizbullah is going to penetrate Israel through tunnels."      
(Weekly Standard)

Egypt Destroys Rockets Smuggled from Gaza    

Egyptian troops in the North Sinai town of Rafah destroyed a vehicle laden with Grad rockets being smuggled from Gaza through a tunnel, a security source in the army told Aswat Masriya. Militants were planning to use the weaponry [in the Sinai] to fire at Israel.
Egypt's government accuses Hamas of aiding Islamist militants in Egypt.

Egypt Kills Suicide Bomber Approaching Israeli Border      

Egyptian troops killed a suicide bomber who tried to approach the Israeli border near Kerem Shalom. The bomber carried an explosive device in addition to an explosive belt on his body. He was shot dead while running towards the border with Israel.    
(Ma'an News-PA)

Egypt Taking Hard Line over Border - Lee Keath and Maggie Michael

Hamas is demanding Egypt open its border with Gaza, but Egypt is taking a hard line, refusing any opening that would strengthen Hamas. The vilification of Hamas in Egypt has only increased since the Gaza war erupted. Egyptian TV stations and newspapers have issued a stream of commentary that sounds a lot like what is coming out of Israel: Hamas is to blame for the fighting and is exploiting Palestinian civilian deaths for its own gain.

"The whole issue here is that Hamas wants to be recognized as the legitimate ruler of the Gaza Strip," said Samir Ghattas, head of the Maqdis Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo. "Egypt will not agree on this and will not permit the establishment of a Brotherhood state on its eastern borders." 
(AP-ABC News)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Calls For A Demiitarized Gaza

Some of the 150 Hamas fighters who surrendered in the southern Gaza Strip

White House: Cease-Fire Should Include Demilitarization of Gaza
- Eyder Peralta    

Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said in an interview that any cease-fire agreement between Israel and Palestinians must include the demilitarization of Gaza.

"There has to be some way forward that does not involve Hamas having the ability to continue to rain down rockets on Israeli civilians," he said. "One of the results, one would hope, of a cease-fire would be some form of demilitarization."

U.S. Should Push to Disarm Hamas - Editorial

The depravity of Hamas' strategy seems lost on much of the outside world...

While Secretary of State John Kerry, the Egyptian government and other would-be brokers are right to seek a cease-fire, they should reject Hamas' agenda.

Instead, any political accord should link opening of the borders and other economic concessions to the return to Gaza of the security forces of the Palestinian Authority and the disarmament of Hamas
(Washington Post)

U.S. Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire

"Any effort to broker a cease-fire agreement that does not eliminate those threats cannot be sustained in the long run and will leave Israel vulnerable to future attacks."    


Isolation for Hamas - John R. Bradley

In the Arab world, an air of indifference reins regarding Israel's military offensive in Gaza. The dramatic rise of the jihadi outfit the Islamic State is one of the key reasons. Aside from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are the two countries that matter geopolitically, and both are threatened by jihadi-inspired unrest on the back of the successes of the Islamic State - an outfit that Hamas has reportedly been forging links with.

The Islamist State's goal is not only the destruction of Israel, but also the overthrow of the Saudi and Jordanian monarchies.

Though they loathe to acknowledge the fact publicly, Saudi Arabia and Jordan would quietly welcome the eradication of Salafist-aligned Hamas' military capabilities
(Jewish Chronicle-UK)

The Gaza Tunnel Threat - Anshel Pfeffer

IDF officers have been astonished by the extent of Hamas' tunneling operation.

This intelligence "blind spot" is being explained by the fact that Hamas didn't use its own members to do the digging but families from Rafah in southern Gaza which made their living digging smuggling tunnels to Egypt.   

A Monster of Death Aimed at Israel - Aharon Lapidot

I was watching foreign correspondents reporting from Gaza. With their bullet-proof vests, they stand 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. None of them notice that a key component of the scene is missing.

If, God forbid, any rocket were to fall in a populated area in Israel, the first ones to swamp the scene would be the uniformed rescue forces: police officers, soldiers, firefighters, paramedics. No one in uniform is seen in any of the reports from Gaza. 

Where are the Hamas soldiers and police in Gaza when an Israeli bomb falls? They are hiding underground in the immense tunnel system constructed beneath the city, in Underground Gaza.

In the clearest possible manner we have been faced with a dizzying reality. Hamas has built a monster of death and destruction aimed at us.

The billions of dollars in humanitarian aid, tens of thousands of tons of concrete and construction materials, the electricity and water that Israel has supplied to Gaza for years - have been used to build these tunnels, which are intended to kill as many Israelis as possible
(Israel Hayom)

Video: Secondary Explosions Show Hamas Turned Hospital into Rocket Site     

Hamas turned Wafa Hospital into a command center and a rocket-launching site. Hamas has fired at Israel and at IDF forces from the hospital.

As a result, the IDF repeatedly conveyed warnings to the hospital staff and urged civilians to leave the area, before targeting specific sites and terrorists within the hospital grounds. Numerous secondary explosions can be seen, confirming the storage of munitions at the site.
(Israel Defense Forces)

200 Gazan Terrorists Killed, 150 Taken Prisoner
More than 200 Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists have been killed by the IDF since the start of the ground offensive. 

The IDF took some 150 Hamas terrorist prisoner[s] after they surrendered Wednesday in the southern Gaza cities of Khan Yunis and Rafah. 
(Jerusalem Post)

30,000 Gather to Honor IDF Soldier from L.A., Killed in Gaza
- Bradley Burston

Sgt. Max Steinberg, 24, was from Los Angeles' West San Fernando Valley. After he first visited Israel on a Birthright trip in 2012, he decided to move here and join the IDF. A member of the Golani infantry brigade, he was killed last Saturday night in Gaza.

Only a handful of the some 30,000 mourners had even heard of Max Steinberg prior to his death. During the day preceding the funeral, calls were made on Facebook to attend Steinberg's funeral. "As I look around right now, I am overwhelmed by the impact you had on so many lives," Max's sister Paige said. "It is unbelievable to see how many people are here in your honor."

Desperately Seeking Relevance -Jonathan Spyer

Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood want a bloody war in Gaza, so as to reinsert themselves into popular legitimacy, relevance and diplomatic influence in the Arab world.

Hamas, previously isolated and increasingly irrelevant, is starring in a drama of its own making. Hamas banners are being carried once more by baying crowds in European cities.

Cairo is effectively allied with Israel and against Qatar/ Hamas/MB in this conflict. The obvious explanation for this is Cairo's ongoing war against the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The "Arab street" has failed to rally to the Qatar/Hamas banner. There are larger demonstrations in European cities for Hamas than in any Arab capital.

The Arab world is engulfed by issues of far greater historic magnitude than the question of Gaza. And in any case, from the regional perspective this conflict appears as an Israel vs Hamas war, not an all out clash between Israelis and Palestinians.

[T]he war derives from the desire of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar to return to relevance and centrality in the region, and from the persistent misreading of the nature of Israel and the true balance of forces between the Jewish state and its enemies, by the Islamist rulers of Gaza.
[Jerusalem Post & Middle East Forum]

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tunnels, Terror and Tenaciousness

Israel has found tunnels with shafts rigged with bombs located directly under Israeli kindergartensIf the bombs had gone off, the buildings above would have been destroyed, taking the children down with them.  
Today the presence of sedatives and multiple sets of handcuffs for neutralizing hostages found in tunnel after tunnel indicate that Hamas intends to abduct several Israelis at once and spirit them back to Gaza. 
In an interview with Channel 2, Minister Naftali Bennett spoke of a mother at Kibbutz Netiv Ha'asara who told him that her children wake her in the middle of the night and tell her that they hear digging beneath their beds. As Bennett said, this state of affairs simply cannot continue. People cannot live in fear that there are terrorists burrowing beneath their homes, digging tunnels to murder or kidnap them.     

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

Due to their recognition of the threat Hamas and its allies pose to the survivability of their regimes, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have taken the unprecedented step of supporting Israel's efforts to defeat Hamas. They understand that a decisive Israeli blow against Hamas in Gaza will directly benefit them. Not only will Hamas be weakened, but its state sponsors and terrorist comrades will be weakened as well.    

Israel is making good progress. But it hasn't completed its missions. It needs several more days of hard fighting. Recognizing this, Israel's newfound Muslim allies have not been pushing for a cease-fire.  

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

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

Last week Israeli officials alleged that the US was responsible for Hamas's rejection of the Egyptian cease-fire proposal. By attempting to coerce Egypt to accept Qatar and Turkey as its partners in mediation, Obama signaled to Hamas's leaders that they should hold out for a better deal.

Chances that Kerry will secure a cease-fire in the near future are small. In all likelihood, the government will be able to buy the time necessary to complete the mission in whole or large part. But the fact that the US has chosen at this juncture in the operation — with Israel enjoying unprecedented support from the most important Sunni states in the region — to side with Hamas and its state sponsors in their demand for an immediate cease-fire speaks volumes about the transformation of US foreign policy under Obama's leadership.
[Jewish World Review]
- Nidal al-Mughrabi and Crispian Balmer
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) led by Mahmoud Abbas endorsed demands by Hamas for halting Gaza hostilities with Israel, formally supporting the core conditions set by Hamas.

The EU strongly condemned "the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas and militant groups in the Gaza Strip, directly harming civilians. These are criminal and unjustifiable acts." The EU said "all terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm," and strongly condemned "calls on the civilian population of Gaza to provide themselves as human shields."
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said all ministers recognized "Israel's legitimate right to defend itself against any attacks," but that the Israeli military operation "must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law." 
(European Jewish Press)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri announced that he saw no reason to make any changes to his country's cease-fire proposal. Over the previous few days, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's advance team had tried to discuss alterations in the proposal's wording, but was met with an aggressive Egyptian refusal.
Cairo doesn't intend to give Hamas any discounts - at least not at this stage. For now, it seems Egyptian President Sissi isn't too upset over the prospect of Israel continuing its military operation in Gaza