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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Leadership and Lack of Leadership

Canada's Prime Minister Harper

Canadian Prime Minister Condemns Obama, West for Not Supporting Israel
-Thomas Rose

In perhaps his most strongly worded statement to date, Prime Minister Harper proclaimed that self defense is "not merely an Israeli right" to be exercised only in the abstract, but an "Israeli obligation" that must be defended by all Western nations

“Failure by the international community to condemn these reprehensible actions will encourage these terrorists to continue their appalling actions,’’ Harper said in a rare Sunday statement. “Canada calls on its allies and partners to recognize that these terrorist acts [by Hamas] are unacceptable and that solidarity with Israel is the best way of stopping the conflict."

Forget about the U.S.-Israel relationship being the bulwark of Israeli security, say some. Israel’s best friend and staunchest defender is no longer found in Washington, but rather in Ottawa.  

America’s curiously selective moral calculus -Michael Freund

With a predictability that is rapidly becoming mind-numbing monotony, various US officials from the president on down have been stressing the need for Israel to exercise restraint in its counter- terror operation in Gaza so as to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties.

In addition to President Barack Obama, this concern has been voiced in recent days in one form or another by none other than US Secretary of State John Kerry, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, as well as the spokesmen for the State Department and the White House.

And just in case we didn’t get the message the fourth or fifth time it was delivered in public, both the president and the secretary of state are said to have repeated it in private telephone conversations with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

But Washington’s recurring mantra about restraint is not merely tiresome, it is profoundly hypocritical, and it highlights just to what degree Obama’s foreign policy resembles the parent who tells his child, with cigarette in hand: “do as I say, not as I do.” America had few qualms about killing twice as many civilians as terrorists in its drone strikes in Yemen.

Sure, the Obama administration has voiced its support for Israel’s right to defend itself. But by couching this phrase alongside an overly insistent need for restraint, Washington is in fact sending the following message: you Jews can of course defend yourselves, but only up to a point.

[Jerusalem Post]

Will Kerry Hand Hamas a Victory? -Jonathan S. Tobin

Four days into Israel’s ground operations in Gaza casualties are rising on both sides, but the only ones who seems to be cracking under the pressure are President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.  [T]he administration may be...about to make yet another that will allow Hamas to emerge from the fray with a victory.

Hamas may have, for once, underestimated the resolve of both Israel’s government and its people. If it is allowed to continue, there is a chance that Israel will finally land a lethal blow against the group that is the real obstacle to peace in the region.

[B]y constantly carping about Israel’s counter-attacks after Hamas launched the current war, the administration has encouraged the terrorists to believe that the U.S. won’t let them be defeated. Thus Kerry’s decision to fly to Cairo to work on a cease-fire is exactly the news that Hamas wanted to hear.

[T]he U.S. appears to be as clueless as ever about the stakes involved in this fight and cracking under the pressure generated by the Palestinians sacrificed by Hamas on the altar of their jihadist mission. If so, the price paid by both Israelis and Palestinians in the future will be considerable.

Irresponsible Calls for Premature Ceasefire

While U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo to broker a cease-fire, he is likely to find that the urgency he feels is not shared by the main protagonists. As former National Security Council head Giora Eiland pointed out, the three main sides to a cease-fire - Israel, Hamas and Egypt - don't at this point have an overwhelming sense of urgency.

Israel, having made the decision to launch a ground incursion - and now paying a heavy price as a result - will not want to stop until it has significantly degraded Hamas' operational capabilities. Hamas, too, is not in any great rush to stop the firing. In Hamas' thinking, by continuing the fighting they have little to lose: Israel will come under increasing pressure as the Palestinian civilian casualty rate rises, and one of their "spectacular" attacks may succeed.

Egypt is definitely not shedding any tears over the beating Hamas is taking. Nor is Egypt necessarily sad to see Israel bleed.
(Jerusalem Post)

I'm Done Apologizing for Israel - Rabbi Menachem Creditor
  • I am a progressive American rabbi who leans left pretty hard. So, when it comes to Israel, many of those with whom I engage in social reform expect me to react to Israel's military actions in Gaza with scorn and criticism. To those who suggest that Prime Minister Netanyahu is over-reacting to the missiles, I offer this response:
  • Israel is risking Israeli lives in surgical strikes to destroy weapons-smuggling tunnels created with building materials Israel allowed into Gaza for infrastructure projects to benefit Palestinian society.
  • Israel has agreed to two humanitarian cease-fires. In the first hours of those ceasefires, Hamas rained down over 70 missiles onto Israel civilians. Israel is doing its best, sacrificing its own children to preserve the lives of Palestinians
  • I am done trying to apologetically explain Jewish morality. I am done apologizing for my own Jewish existence. Having watched in this last week anti-Semitic "die-ins" in Boston, violent assaults against Jews in Los Angeles and Antwerp, and an almost pogrom at a synagogue in Paris, I'm done mincing my own words.
  • We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies.
(Huffington Post)

Gaza Fighting Resembles Second Lebanon War - Amir Rapaport

In many ways, Operation Protective Edge resembles the Second Lebanon War much more than it does Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2009 or Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012.

What makes the fighting much more difficult is the strengthening of Hamas, which used the period in which the Muslim Brotherhood ruled Egypt to establish a real military industry in Gaza and to smuggle in a large amount of anti-tank missiles.      
(Israel Defense)

Tunnels Matter More than Rockets to Hamas - Michael B. Mukasey  

The entire network [of tunnels] is the jewel of Hamas' war-planning.
The writer served as U.S. attorney general (2007-09).     

(Wall Street Journal)

Gaza's Ordeal Has Not Struck a Chord with Many Arabs - Diana Moukalled

For the most part, there is little noticeable outrage over the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza. At this point, we must admit that the ordeal of Gaza's residents has not struck a chord with many Arabs.

Perhaps the difficulty is that the victims in Gaza have been crowded out by the many more in other places. Palestine is no longer the only tragedy of the Levant.      

(Asharq al-Awsat-UK)    

India Refuses to Censure Israel - Walter Russell Mead

India's parliament rejected a resolution that condemned the Israeli military campaign in Gaza - a conspicuous change for the country, which has historically been supportive of Palestinian claims.                     
(American Interest)

Hamas Sees Itself as the Victor - Avi Issacharoff

Due to the high death toll among IDF soldiers and the devastating blow to the Palestinian civilian population, Hamas sees itself as the victor. The perpetuated myth of a massacre in Sejaiya has brought the organization an unprecedented degree of support among the Palestinians, especially in the West Bank.

However, the myth of that "massacre" has also created panic among the Gazan public.

The driving emotion among the residents of Gaza is one of mass hysteria. This means that during the next operation in Sejaiya, or in any other neighborhood, the IDF will likely encounter far fewer civilians. The majority of Gaza residents in combat zones will from now on flee for their lives - heeding the IDF's warnings and not Hamas' calls to stay.
(Times of Israel)

Two cartoons, both several years old, attest to Israel facing the same condemnation then as now.  The international community seems to prefer that Hamas remain in place.

A Gaza Solution: Demilitarization - Michael B. Oren

The key to ending the current battle between Hamas and Israel - and preventing more fighting in the future - is the demilitarization of Gaza. Simply put, Hamas without rockets is not the same Hamas. The Obama administration supports the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state. President Obama provided the most recent precedent for demilitarizing Gaza: the removal of chemical weapons from Syria. The U.S. must unite with international and regional governments to convince Hamas that it has no choice but to demilitarize.

Still, Hamas is sure to cling bitterly to its rockets. And silencing the rocket fire may require reoccupying most of Gaza. That is why Israel must be allowed to maintain - and, if necessary, escalate - its pressure on Hamas.
The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
(Los Angeles Times)

How Many Israelis Must Die Before We Are "Allowed" to Defend Them?
- Hilik Bar

The coldhearted subtext is that Israelis must die in order for their military campaign to gain any sympathy. Yet no interviewer would dream of asking a British army general or politician why more Afghans died than British soldiers in the war there. 

As Israel's ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub, said recently: "We don't have to apologize for Israelis not being killed." 
The writer, deputy speaker of the Knesset, is secretary general of the Israeli Labor party.

Are Israeli Actions in Gaza "Disproportionate"? - Alex Safian

In the Pacific Theatre in World War II, over 2.7 million Japanese were killed, including 580,000 civilians, as against 106,000 Americans. Does it follow that Japan was in the right and America was in the wrong? Just having more dead on your side does not make you right.

There is no requirement that Israel place the lives of its own citizens in danger to protect the lives of Palestinian civilians.

Hamas' Civilian Death Strategy - Thane Rosenbaum

In the U.S. if a parent is found to have locked his or her child in a parked car on a summer day with the windows closed, a social worker takes the children away. In Gaza, parents who place their children in the direct line of fire are rewarded with an interview on MSNBC
The writer is a professor at the New York University School of Law.
(Wall Street Journal Europe)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Israel Dismantles Hamas' Main Assest: Terror Tunnels

 IDF video above showing ground forces taking out a rocket launcher

Bill Maher Defends Israel's Battle with Hamas

The Treacherous Task of Tunnel Demolition - Mitch Ginsburg

Israel has sent in troops to find and destroy the underground tunnels in Gaza that stretch all along the border. Brig. Gen. Shimi Daniel, a former commander of the combat engineering corps, told Channel 2 news that the entrance shafts of the tunnels are located within civilian homes and that, by the time troops arrive, "they've already poured fresh concrete over the opening."

Once detected, soldiers specializing in counter-tunnel operations lower a robot into the shaft which sends back video and has the capacity to map the contours of the tunnel. Afterward, the army will send explosive-detecting dogs into the tunnel. Some of the recently discovered tunnels are more than 60-feet deep and over a mile long. Many branch out near the border with multiple exits.

Once detected, the tunnels can be struck from above. Brig. Gen. Asaf Agmon said the concrete-reinforced tunnels are readily penetrated by a standard one-ton bomb with a delayed fuse. However, a former commander of the combat engineering corps said that in order to completely dismantle a tunnel system, hundreds of pounds of explosives have to be inserted all along its length.
(Times of Israel)

Put an End to Terrorism Roulette - Avi Dichter

There is no Iron Dome against the terror tunnels. They can't be intercepted. So the ground incursion into Gaza is both appropriate and justified. Operation Protective Edge must not only destroy the tunnels, but also arrest terrorists and collect intelligence, demolish structures used by Hamas leaders and members, eliminate terrorist hotbeds, weapons-making operations and hiding places, and more.

In 2002, during the Second Intifada, the citizens of Israel woke up to suicide bombings every day until Operation Defensive Shield smashed terrorism in Judea-Samaria [the West Bank]. There is no question that the residents of southern Israel cannot be left to face terrorism from Gaza. For 13 years, they've woken up and lived their lives playing Russian roulette.

The tunnels are dug deep beneath Gaza and reach Israeli territory with one goal - to allow large terrorist forces to execute a surprise attack, murdering Israelis and then vanishing back into the Strip with civilians or soldiers as hostages.
The writer is former head of the Israel Security Agency, public security minister, and homefront defense minister.
(Israel Hayom)

The Hamas Fortress of Sejaiya
The Sejaiya neighborhood in Gaza is home to extensive Hamas infrastructure. In 13 days, Hamas fired over 140 rockets from Sejaiya into Israel.
IDF soldiers have found 10 openings to terror tunnels in Sejaiya for infiltrating Israel. The IDF warned civilians in Sejaiya to evacuate the area many days before striking the terror infrastructure within it - dropping leaflets, making phone calls and sending text messages. Hamas ordered the residents of Sejaiya to ignore the IDF's warning and stay in the neighborhood, thereby putting them in the line of fire.
(Israel Defense Forces)

The Battle of Sejaiya - Amos Harel

Hamas is currently busy trying to portray the battle of Sejaiya as an epic event of legendary proportions, depicting its courageous fighters as having stopped the most powerful army in the Middle East, which sustained casualties.

On Sunday a large force from the Golani Brigade was sent to the most densely populated area of Gaza. Hamas, which fled a similar confrontation in 2009, held its ground this time and fought back. Dozens of its fighters opened fire at advancing Golani units, firing anti-tank missiles and detonating explosive charges.

Characteristically, Golani soldiers fought bravely and with determination. Under difficult circumstances they struggled to extricate their fallen and wounded comrades. Furthermore, part of the operation was postponed for 24 hours, since too many residents had ignored the IDF's requests to evacuate. Very few armies operate this way when fighting an armed guerilla group in dense urban areas. It is doubtful whether the IDF will continue to do so as the fighting continues.

One is encouraged by the fighting spirit of the units involved and by the efficient operations on many fronts, as well as by the fact that for every commander who was injured in Gaza there were three officers who volunteered to replace him. 

All the News Hamas Sees Fit to Print - Noah Pollak

The New York Times appears to be complying with a Hamas demand that the only pictures from Gaza are of civilians and never of fighters. The most influential news organization in the world is manufacturing an utterly false portrait of the battle - precisely the portrait that Hamas finds most helpful: embattled, victimized Gaza civilians under attack by a cruel Israeli military.

Nearly every picture from Israel depicts tanks, soldiers, or attack helicopters. And every picture of Gaza depicts either bloodied civilians, destroyed buildings, overflowing hospitals, or other images of civilian anguish. It is as one-sided and misleading a depiction of the Gaza battle as one can imagine.     

There are no images of Israelis under rocket attack, no images of grieving Israeli families and damaged Israeli buildings, no images of Hamas fighters or rocket attacks on Israel, no images of the RPGs and machine guns recovered from attempted Hamas tunnel infiltrations into Israel.
(Weekly Standard)

Palestinians See Support Lacking from Arab Leaders
- Kareem Fahim

A few hours before Israel launched its ground assault of Gaza, Egypt's official state news agency quoted the country's foreign minister as blaming Hamas for the deaths of at least 40 Palestinians. The statement, which also criticized Qatar and Turkey, said the deaths would have been prevented if Hamas had signed an Egyptian cease-fire initiative. Egyptian television hosts continued to thunder against Hamas, while the Egyptian army turned back an aid convey for Gaza. 
(New York Times)

Israel Opening Field Hospital for Palestinians in Gaza    

The IDF will open a field hospital at the Erez Crossing on Sunday to supply medical assistance and humanitarian care to Palestinians from Gaza.
(Israel Defense Forces)

A Push into Gaza, But the Ground Has Shifted - Jodi Rudoren

Twice before, Israel battled Hamas and halted under international pressure without eliminating the threat of rocket fire. But this time, analysts say, the landscape is different. Israel has publicly framed a clear agenda targeting tunnels it says militants built to store weapons or stage attacks on its territory. This time, a weakened Hamas cannot turn to Egypt for respite. This time, Western leaders appear more patient.  
(New York Times)

Bill Clinton: Hamas' "Crass Strategy" Is to Kill Palestinians

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton told India's NDTV: "Hamas was perfectly well aware of what would happen if they started raining rockets into Israel. They fired one thousand and they have a strategy designed to force Israel to kill their own civilians so that the rest of the world will condemn them."

"In the short and medium term Hamas can inflict terrible public relations damage by forcing (Israel) to kill Palestinian civilians to counter Hamas. But it's a crass strategy that takes all of our eyes off the real objective which is a peace..." 
(The Tower)

Diplomatic Divide Saps U.S. Push for Cease-Fire - Jay Solomon

Israel and Egypt are voicing criticism of Qatar and Turkey playing a role in any efforts to end the fighting in Gaza, due to these countries' financial and diplomatic support for Hamas and its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood. The Obama administration, however, is seeking to use those two countries as intermediaries. "We think they all have a role that they could play and we're encouraging them to play that role to the [maximum] position," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday, referring to Turkey and Qatar.

"These external players are trying to prolong the conflict for their own political objectives," said a senior Arab diplomat involved in the negotiations. "They've encouraged Hamas and PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] to reject the cease-fire." 
(Wall Street Journal)

Anti-Israel riot in Paris turns violent

Anti-Israel Rallies Held in Paris, London, Brussels

14 French police officers were wounded and 38 people were arrested at an unauthorized rally by 3,000 protesters in Paris protesting Israel's actions in Gaza on Saturday. In Brussels, calls to "kill the Jews" were heard at a demonstration of a few thousand people, where approximately 200 protesters smashed shop windows and parked cars. In London, 10,000 people attended a protest rally that featured calls to destroy Israel.

Livni: All Options on Table, Including Bringing Down Hamas

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni was asked in a Channel 2 interview Friday to confirm that the goal of Israel's current ground offensive in Gaza is not to destroy Hamas. "I'm not taking anything off the table," she replied. She said Hamas, in rejecting Egyptian cease-fire efforts, and attempting to murder Israeli civilians via ongoing rocket fire and under-border tunnel infiltrations, had shown that it "lives in a completely different opera." Hamas appeared to think that it could come out of this conflict with political gains, she said. "I hope they understand today that's not going to happen." Livni expressed her "full support" for the ground offensive.
(Times of Israel)

Israel Assisting Arab National Security Against Iran - Tony Badran

Hamas' military activity is dependent on Tehran's backing and is in line with Iranian interests. Gaza represents the southern front - Lebanon being the northern counterpart - of an Iranian strategy to deploy long-range rockets and missiles on Israel's borders capable of targeting all of its cities. Sure enough, Iranian Revolutionary Guards officials emphasized on Monday how Gaza demonstrated that all of Israel was now within range of the rockets they supply.

The deterrence that Israel established in Lebanon in 2006 is what it is trying to recreate in Gaza, in cooperation with Egypt. Insofar as Israel intercepts destabilizing Iranian weapons, or strikes them before entering Lebanon or Egypt, Israel is acting as a guarantor of Arab national security in the eastern Mediterranean.
The writer is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Mofaz's Gaza 'demilitarization for dollars' plan gains traction
-Gil Hoffman

A plan for ending the current conflict between Israel and the Hamas by offering a huge sum in return for demilitarization continued gaining support Monday as the operation entered its third week. 

Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister and IDF chief of General Staff presented the plan last week to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The prime minister immediately endorsed the idea and first spoke about demilitarizing Gaza as a goal at a Knesset press conference with Italian foreign minister Federica Mogherini. 

Mofaz also received endorsements from outgoing President Shimon Peres and opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor). He was due to present it to American officials Monday ahead of the arrival of US Secretary of State John Kerry. Mofaz's Kadima colleague, MK Yisrael Hasson, has presented it in Arabic to Palestinian Authority officials.

“It's thinking outside the box so it should be seriously considered and transformed from an idea to a work plan,” Mofaz said. “If all the relevant players do their part, it could yield long-term results.”

The plan calls for the international community to oversee the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip using the same system that is successfully ridding Syria of chemical weapons. In return, Arab countries and the international community would provide the Palestinian Authority with fifty billion dollars to rehabilitate refugee camps and build the Gaza Strip.
[Jerusalem Post]

Friday, July 18, 2014

Can Israel Win In Gaza?

How To Win in Gaza -Caroline Glick

[I]f Hamas is able to produce a picture of victory that can burnish its reputation as the leader of the jihad against the Jews throughout the Islamic world, then it will be able to declare victory.

It is far from clear that the only way to destroy Hamas and end its capacity to harm Israel is to reconquer Gaza. [T]here is a reasonable chance that Hamas will face a full-blown insurrection once a ceasefire with Israel goes into effect.

Israel doesn't have to reconquer Gaza to destroy Hamas. We just have to humiliate Hamas and knock out capabilities like the tunnel networks that immediately threaten us. And then let the Gazans fight it out.

[I]n 2004 Israel was able to defeat Hamas through targeted killing of its commanders, repeating that success today without good human intelligence assets on the ground is a much more difficult prospect. This is why we are already beginning to see diminishing results from the air campaign. Without human assets on the ground, the IDF either cannot locate or cannot get to the remaining high value targets.

Unless Israel is able to change this situation fairly rapidly, it will not be able to sufficiently diminish Hamas's capabilities to convince Hamas's leadership that they are better off ending the current fight without achieving anything significant than maintaining it until they do.

This is why the government was finally compelled to order the ground campaign.  Ground forces are required to develop the information Israel needs to kill a large enough number of Hamas leaders and destroy the tunnel complexes and a large enough quantity of missiles and launchers to convince Hamas's terror masters to cry, "Uncle."  

While the ground operations continue, Israeli negotiators should be avidly agreeing to every ceasefire offer that denies Hamas any achievements. The IDF must continue to exercise an abundance of caution to prevent Hamas from luring our forces into a situation where we will be accused of massacring Palestinians.  

None of this is easy or simple. No result is guaranteed.  But in fighting Hamas today, Israel finds itself in a better position than it has faced in past fights with Hamas. For the first time, we face an enemy with a limited shelf life. Without supply lines from Egypt, Hamas cannot fight forever. Its allies at the UN can feed its forces and protect Hamas from an insurrection from a starving population. But the UN cannot rearm Hamas. It cannot reopen the smuggling tunnels from Egypt to enable materiel, money and trainers to enter Gaza.  

Hamas is desperate for anything it can call a victory. By denying it one on the one hand, while taking action to force its leaders to prefer organizational humiliation to personal destruction on the other, Israel can win a decisive victory.
[Jewish World Review]

Whatever happened to evil? -Rabbi Daniel Gordis

Where has the word “evil” gone? Why are so many otherwise intelligent people so incapable of calling Hamas what it so obviously is?

But Jews, even rabbis, can’t say that any longer. The murderers of Muhammad Abu Khdeir are pure evil (yes, actually, they are), but Hamas is not? What’s happened to us? At a recent meeting with a group of progressive American rabbis, I offhandedly used the term “Amalek” to refer to Hamas. One of the rabbis asked, very respectfully, if I could help him think about a different vocabulary to use about Hamas, one that “reflects Jewish values.” I was actually dumbstruck for a moment. I’d thought that in mentioning Amalek, I was referring to Jewish values.

Have we gotten to the point that tikkum olam and tzelem Elokim (being created in God’s image) are Jewish values, but that eradicating evil is not? That’s a bizarre bastardization of how Judaism has always seen the world. A world in which one refuses to call out evil is a world in which the meaning of goodness is also radically diminished.

[M]ust we Jews, and our religious leaders, be complicit in the charade? When Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, the head of the yeshiva of Eilon Moreh (a settlement, some will note), remarked that the murderers of Muhammad Abu Khdeir should be executed, he quoted the verse “so that you may burn out evil from your midst” (Deut. 17:7). Rabbi Levanon is quite right. There is, in fact, very real evil in the world.
But if the only evil to which progressive Jews can point is the evil in us, our moral compass has been badly damaged.

If the only people we can call evil are Jews, then Hamas and its viciousness are the least of the threats to our longterm survival.
[Jerusalem Post]

Israel Knows the Price of Weakness - Dan Hodges    

People may not like the current Israeli assault on Gaza, but please, let's not pretend we don't understand it.     

The threat of annihilation is not an historical abstraction to the people of Israel. It was the reason for the formation of that state. The Jews of Israel learned in the most barbaric way imaginable that the price of being too strong is not as high as the price of being too weak.     

The images of what is happening in Gaza may sear our consciences. But when the Jews of Israel say "never again," they mean it.     
The writer is a former British Labour Party and trade union official.    

Create a Different Strategic Balance - Hillel Frisch

Destroying the military infrastructure of Hamas could lead to its "jihadization"; to a Gaza controlled by a variety of small jihadist groups at Hamas' expense who would neither be deterred nor subject to pressure to desist from terrorist activity.

Israel should adopt the highly successful anti-terrorist strategy it employed in the West Bank over the past decade and take over Gaza temporarily to destroy the terrorist infrastructure as much as possible.

Even if a weakened Hamas was overwhelmed by other jihadist groups, they might spend more time fighting each other than against the Zionist enemy, as we see today in Syria.
Prof. Hillel Frisch, a senior research associate at the BESA Center, is a professor of Political Science and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University. 
(BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

Why Israel Launched a Ground War in Gaza - Aaron David Miller

Sure, Iron Dome has ensured that there were almost no Israeli casualties from Hamas' rocket attacks. But [s]ooner or later Hamas was bound to get lucky. Its missiles, or some terrorists tunneling out of Gaza, would succeed in killing a significant number of Israelis. So Israel had to act now. 
The writer is vice president and a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. 

Why Israel Is Winning in Gaza - Jonathan Kay

Yes, some weddings have been cancelled, as well as a Neil Young concert. But that's pretty thin gruel for those Hamas supporters who see every confrontation as a chance to sweep the Zionists into the sea.
(National Post-Canada)

The Ugly Rage Against Israel - Brendan O'Neill

Anyone possessed of a critical faculty must at some point have wondered why missiles fired by the Jewish State are apparently more worthy of condemnation than missiles fired by Washington, London, Paris, the Turks, Assad, or just about anyone else on Earth. It is now becoming very difficult to tell where anti-Zionism ends and anti-Semitism begins.


Moral Clarity in Gaza - Charles Krauthammer
  • We routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent "cycle of violence." This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting?
  • Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d'etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.
  • Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? Nine years ago worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians.
  • Instead of building a state, Gaza Palestinians spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel.
  • They built mile upon mile of underground tunnels to hide their weapons and their military commanders. They spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, even drones. They deliberately placed them in schools, hospitals, mosques and private homes to better expose their own civilians. And they fired rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
  • To deliberately wage war so that your own people can be telegenically killed is indeed, moral and tactical insanity. It's to the Israelis' credit that amid all this madness they haven't lost their moral scruples. Or their nerve.
(Washington Post)