A true story told last week by Col. Richard Kemp: He was given the opportunity to meet with several of our soldiers, and in one special instance met with a pilot in our air force. This pilot had had 17 missions aborted because civilians were spotted. “You must be very frustrated,” said Col. Kemp, “going out on missions and being called back so many times.”
“Oh, no, sir” replied the pilot. “I was glad. I wouldn’t want it on my conscience that I had killed innocent people.”
Col. Kemp calls our army the most moral in the world.
It seems as if we stand alone among the nations of the world. Yes! there are individual people – very good people – with us. Some of them write to me. Yet we face situations that are not just severely unacceptable, but unbelievable.
The president of the United States is doing incredible damage. The only positive thing to be said for how he’s behaving is that he is so blatant that he is uniting diverse factions in Israel against him. I’ve been writing about concrete, and how it is used in Gaza. Well, I think it an apt analogy to say that Obama comes at us like a cement truck. No subtlety for him. He serves as a diplomatic weapon for Hamas.
Yesterday the president called Prime Minister Netanyahu and, after defending Kerry, whom he said Israel misunderstood, he demanded an “immediate, unconditional humanitarian cease-fire,” which he called a “strategic necessity.”
I have no information on what Netanyahu said to the president, but I have only the greatest empathy for him regarding the difficulty of remaining even semi-courteous in the face of this outrage. (I would imagine that, since he was dealing with Obama as head of the Jewish state, and not as a private individual, he would – in spite of what inclinations he might have had to the contrary – have attempted to retain a reasonable tone.)
You can see some objections to Obama’s demands as voiced by government officials, ministers and MKs, in this Israel Hayom piece, “Rage in Jerusalem: ‘Reject Obama’s cease-fire demands.’”:
One official is quoted as saying, “Obama is stopping Israel just when we have Hamas against the wall.” (Emphasis added) That, my friends, is the name of Obama’s game.
The official White House version of the message delivered by Obama to Netanyahu says:
“The President stressed the U.S. view that, ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza.”
That is, US readiness to push for disarmament of terrorist groups is keyed to that “two state solution.” If Israel wants disarmament, we’d better get to work on resuming negotiations. This is not about disarming Hamas now because Hamas is dangerous, period.
Aaron Lerner compares Obama’s statement to a recent EU statement that called “on Hamas to immediately put an end to these acts and to renounce violence. All terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm.” There were no political provisos attached to this demand.
If the EU comes out better than Obama here, you can understand what we’re dealing with.
Then yesterday there was a non-binding resolution by the Security Council in which it called for:
”an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire, allowing for the delivery of urgently needed assistance.” It urged all parties to accept and fully
implement the humanitarian ceasefire into the Eid period (which marks the end of Ramadan and is taking place now) and beyond.
It further urged “the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace.”
No mention of the human rights of Israelis, who have had rockets launched at them, or of the need for terrorist groups to surrender their weapons. The only concern voiced is for the civilians of Gaza. And, once again, the implication is that the current situation could be resolved via a “two state solution.” Unspoken here, but starring us in the face, is the obscene notion that if it weren’t for the “injustices” visited upon the Palestinian Arabs by the “occupier,” Israel, Hamas would not be violent.
Rest assured, I will come back to this theme, and to what we can expect down the road with regard to pressure to negotiate.
So where are we? Israel accepted a sort of “de facto” ceasefire, unofficially, in which we would only return fire. Over the night, Hamas was quiet, which has been taken as a sign that its strength is faltering. (And which is likely why the US is now coming to its rescue.) There was one rocket launched in the morning, and shortly after noon, four more. And then more still. Each time, Israel has responded and as I write we are striking targets in Gaza.
What this means, at a minimum, is that there will be no more one-sided ceasefires, in which Israel remains quiet when Hamas does not (which was the intolerable situation a couple of times in recent days). In fact, Netanyahu called Ban Ki Moon this afternoon and rejected UN calls for an immediate cease fire.
Netanyahu said that the UN resolution did not mention that Hamas is attacking Israel (a small “oversight”) or that Hamas uses UN (i.e., UNRWA) facilities in doing so. He said that the world must ensure that Gaza is demilitarized and that international donations do not go towards terrorist infrastructure.
It is glaringly evident that the world is in no rush to demilitarize Gaza. But I see it as enormously important that Netanyahu should keep demanding this – and the need to avoid having “rehabilitation funds” go for terrorists infrastructure, as they have in the past. We are staking out our position.
And Netanyahu is responding with strength:
“the president of the UN Security Council addresses the needs of a murderous terrorist organization attacking Israeli civilians, and does not address the needs of Israel’s security…” (Emphasis added)
One thing Israel will continue to do – and Netanyahu made this clear in his phone call to Ban – is to dismantle tunnels. We have started using explosives on them again and this will continue whether Hamas is quiet or not.
This video from the IDF is great: a tunnel that lead to Israel demolished: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-hH2026OnU&feature=youtu.be .
Our prime minister referred to this process as the first step in demilitarizing Hamas.
I picked up one article today that said according to an IDF source, all of the tunnels that lead into Israel had been taken care of. I mention this in case some of my readers might see it. I believe it is overly optimistic. Perhaps we have demolished all of the tunnels leading into Israel that we knew about – but that is something different. As it seems clear that we have not identified every singe tunnel, we cannot possibly know that we have demolished all those that cross over the border.
I believe that there remains an imperative for setting up monitoring and other systems on our side of the Gaza border. No chances should be taken.
As to the rockets – how much more of Hamas’s rocket cache we will take out depends in part, I would imagine, on how Hamas behaves in coming days. Right now, we have moved back to a full war footing, taking out operatives and infrastructure as well as rockets. We will do more damage, but it is not likely that we are not going to eliminate Hamas’s arsenal. Especially is this the case as rockets are stored in tunnels.
The Hamas leadership is eager to rebuild its stores of weapons – which is precisely what it has done in the past. I have already written about a deal with North Korea that would would provide more rockets to Hamas in Gaza. But beyond this is a readiness by Iran to retrofit Hamas rockets with new guidance systems that would make them more accurate.
Thus – and I cannot emphasize this enough! – it is imperative that calls by Hamas for a loosening of the blockade on Gaza (they claim for “humanitarian” purposes) not be permitted. We are in a good position right now because Egypt has blocked the tunnels from the Sinai, which Hamas had utilized previously. We must make sure that Hamas can not bring in additional rockets or enhancements to them.
“Amos Yadlin, a former IDF Military Intelligence chief, says Israel must stop treading water and dramatically expand its ground offensive in Gaza. Actions that take the IDF ‘deeper into Gaza’ are necessary, he tells Channel 2, to the areas where much of the Hamas military wing is concentrated.
“’I’m not one of those who think we should reconquer Gaza,’ Yadlin says. But the Hamas military wing is ‘pretty satisfied now’ and must not be allowed to emerge from this conflict relatively intact.’”
(Times of Israel, above)
Late this afternoon, four soldiers near the Gaza border were killed and several wounded in a mortar attack launched by Hamas. (In the first reports it was not clear that those dead were soldiers.) A fifth soldier died in battle inside of Gaza, bringing the total of military dead to 48.
Tonight, our prime minister addressed the nation because of this:
“We knew we would have difficult days,” he said. “This is a hard and painful day. Patience and determination are required in order to fight a terror organization that seeks to destroy us,”
“There must be an end to this, It is unacceptable that the citizens of Israel will live under threat of death. Killing from above and killing from below.”
Netanyahu said we should be prepared for an extended operation. Defense Minister Ya’alon, who spoke after Netanyahu, said we would not hesitate to expand our operation.
Sometimes I size up the situation and find myself breathless. In a “normal” world, where decent values pertained, the administration of the US would be working hard to protect its ally Israel, and seeking to weaken a jihadist terror organization by all means possible. The American administration would fully grasp the fact that the same terrorists who are after Israel intend ill for all of the West.
Americans need to look very hard at how they have gotten to where they are now and what their president is doing.