In spite of decidedly negative news I must address, below, I want to first share some very positive reports.
We start with Ari Abramowitz – a host on Israel Inspired Radio and former co-host of Tuesday Night Live in Jerusalem – who wrote a Tisha B’Av message from his unit, Battalion 969. It explained why the battalion had petitioned to remain in Gaza fighting in order to defeat those who have been terrorizing our nation (emphasis added):
”We want to continue fighting not because we love war, but because we love you.
”On a personal level, the paradox of the past month is that in the face of heartbreaking pain and the violence of war, my experience has been one of unparalleled love.
”…The love I have felt for my fellow soldiers during this war has transcended anything I have experienced before.
”While the bond of ’brothers in arms’ is a universal phenomenon, I find the love I feel for my fellow soldiers overtaking me like a wave. It is hard to explain as I don’t fully understand it myself. All I know is that I would happily give my life for any one of my fellow soldiers and I don’t doubt for a moment that they would do the same for me. Together we would not hesitate to give our lives for you.
”Throughout this war we have felt the love you have showered upon us – you have given us so much. I have never felt so much love from so many. Jews from both Israel and the Diaspora have flooded us with more care packages, clean underwear, dry socks, candy, potato chips and toothpaste then we can use. Jewish communities, federations, missions and individuals have not let the dangers of this war stop them from coming and volunteering. Hospitals have had to issue statements requesting that people refrain from visiting the wounded, for the lines to visit them were clogging the hallways and stairwells.
”Tens of thousands comfort the families of the soldiers slain and communities around the world hold solidarity and memorial rallies.
”We hang up your children’s letters next to our beds. I know a couple of them by heart. We read the articles, videos and Facebook posts with which you defend us and support us as we fight this just and moral war.
”While there will always be exceptions, from here it seems that this wave of solidarity spans the entirety of the religious, ideological and political spectrum. From the Gaza border the unity behind us feels unprecedented.”
An extraordinary love letter in the midst of the war. Ari Abramowitz has to be special to write this way, but he is also writing about an astounding phenomenon. This is who we are now, who we are showing ourselves to be. May it last and may our love for one another strengthen.
With soldiers such as this, backed by a wave of love, we cannot be defeated. God is watching.
We have a report from Nefesh B’Nefesh (“soul by soul”), which facilitates aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel). The war, they say, has motivated more young people to come to Israel, not fewer: The stories of the two “lone soldiers” who died has served as an inspiration. “…phone calls and requests by Americans to enlist into the IDF has grown considerably.” Next week there will be a Nefesh B’Nefesh “Lone Soldier” flight that will bring 109 young people, ages 18 to 23, who will be enlisting in the IDF.
And then we have this:
Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox in Israel, who have resisted being drafted, are now signing up to volunteer for the IDF.
“We believe that the people of Israel are in the midst of an obligatory war against ruthless enemies who seek to annihilate us,” declared an ad that ran on several ultr-Orthodox websites.
“We believe it is a great privilege to join the military effort, in addition to our important contribution through Torah study. We too yearn for this precious mitzvah.”
Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
I love it! Better, I am very grateful for all of this. For this place we are in.
Although the first stage is not over after all, the second stage of the war against Israel is being launched now as well – the stage of delegitimization and attempts to level war crime charges against our leaders and officials. A strong response that makes our case is exceedingly important.
The Israeli government is responding with vigor, but I ask that each of you also take the time to inform yourselves on the issue – using the material that follows – and then speak out on Israel’s behalf. The vilification of the Jewish State must stop. You know the drill: speak to people about this issue and share links, write letters to the editor, do talkbacks on Internet sites, do call-ins to talk radio shows, write op-eds for your local paper. You can make a difference if you do not remain silent.
One thing that must be made clear to people is that reporting from Gaza was exceedingly imbalanced for the simple reason that foreign journalists literally feared for their lives. They dared not report from inside of Gaza on what they were seeing. With the beginning of the 72 hour ceasefire, however, they came out of Gaza and started talking:
Indian journalist Sreenivasan Jain has now written about how he saw rockets launched right outside the hotel where he was staying: “important to report on how Hamas places those very civilians at risk by firing rockets deep from the heart of civilian zones.”
FRANCE 24 correspondent Gallagher Fenwick aired a report showing rockets being launched…100 meters away from a UN facility: “The Israeli army has repeatedly accused the Palestinian militants of shooting from within densely populated civilian areas and that is precisely the type of setup we have here. Rockets set up right next to buildings with a lot of residents in them.”
Italian journalist Gabriele Barbati exposed Hamas in a tweet (emphasis added): “Out of #Gaza far from #Hamasretaliation: misfired rocket killed children yday (yesterday) in Shati. Witness: militants rushed and cleared debris.” And then: “@IDFSpokesperson said truth in communiqué released yesterday about Shati camp massacre. It was not #Israel behind it.”
“Another foreign reporter said that it is an open secret that Hamas uses Al-Shifa hospital as its command center, but that reporters in Gaza would not report that out of fear that it would endanger them.”
See the stunning exclusive video by Sreenivasan Jain showing a rocket being shot from near his hotel:
Powerful stuff: use it!
The charge against Israel is that the IDF does not have the right to fire at a rocket launching site if there are civilians present – which means, of course (although this is not acknowledged in the charges), if civilians are present because Hamas told them to remain even after Israel warned them to leave.
In point of fact, this is simply not the case. The IDF has a solemn obligation to protect its soldiers and the people of Israel. Think about it: If this were the case, Israel could never defend herself against rocket or mortar attacks, because Hamas would simply place civilians in the way every time and that would be the end of it – Hamas would be able to kill whom it wanted to. Israel has more than met her moral obligation in warning the civilians.
Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a press conference in English on Wednesday in which he addressed this issue. He says if Israel were to fail to respond, it would be a mistake: “It is a moral mistake. It’s an operational mistake. Because that would validate and legitimize Hamas’s use of human shields, and it would hand an enormous victory to terrorists everywhere and a devastating effect to the free societies that are fighting terrorism.” (Emphasis added)
See text of his full statement, which utilizes several examples from the field:
Israel Prize laureate Professor Asa Kasher, who helped formulate the military’s Code of Ethics, says Israel is in compliance with the ethics of battle. (Emphasis added)
“We are fulfilling the ethical requirements. Every battalion commander has an officer in charge of locating civilians, and everything is overseen by too many lawyers, who help direct the operation on the ground. The number of casualties is irrelevant—it does not speak of omissions or any wrongdoing on the part of the IDF.”
There is aggressive criticism of Israel’s operation, he says, because “there are people whose perspective is very shallow.”
Also on Wednesday, Israel Ambassador to the UN (what a thankless job!) Ron Prosor delivered tough and honest words to the General Assembly (emphasis added):
“It might be too much to ask you to stand on our side in this battle between civilization and barbarism, but at least have the decency to swallow your selective outrage while Israel wages war against the extremist groups seeking to eradicate the values that we all hold very dear.
“If the U.N. assembly had invested a tenth of the energy invested in investigating Israel, it would reveal horrific war crimes on the part of Hamas. The international community has lost its way. This organization was founded to promote morality, truth, and justice. Unfortunately, that is not its mission now.”
Lastly on this issue, I share a superb video by StandWithUs ( With thanks to Bernice S.):
If you share this video broadly it will be great.
“The head of Hamas in the West Bank since 2010 was recently arrested and was indicted on Thursday in the IDF West Bank Courts for organizing possibly dozens of terror cells for a wave of potential kidnappings, suicide bus bombings and attacks on settlements.
“Arrested on May 27…Riad Natzer, is accused of raising over NIS 1.5 million for terror operations, buying weapons for his operatives and organizing them into cells – each trained for a different kind of terror activity.
“…Known for allegedly running Hamas’s terror operations ‘with lust’ for his job, Natzer recruited dozens of operatives and Natzer’s arrest also led to the arrests of dozens of those operatives.”
The above was written Thursday night, but I held off on sending it to see how the situation with Hamas evolved.
Yesterday, Hamas, unhappy that its demands in the negotiations were not being met, refused to agree to an extension of the ceasefire – although Israel had already done so. But until this morning it was not entirely clear if that was an attempt at extortion (as Lieberman called it) or a declaration of a genuine intent to start launching rockets again.
Now we know that it was very serious indeed, as Hamas has been launching rockets at the south – at Sderot, Ashkelon, Eshkol, Sha’ar Hanegev, etc. – since 8 AM, which marked the end of the three-day ceasefire. (Actually, I understand two mortars had been fired before the end of the ceasefire.) As I write, already 35 rockets have been launched. By the time you read this, it will be much more.
I held my breath for a while, as Israel did not respond immediately. But by about 10 AM the Air Force had begun to return fire.
We have recalled our negotiating teams from Cairo. Hamas had said it would agree to continue negotiating while it fired rockets. In their dreams.
Hamas has a problem: its leaders invited destruction upon Gaza with its attacks and promised the population of Gaza that there would be a success in the end that will have made it all worth while. But they have nothing to show the people. Thus their shooting persists with a “go for broke” mentality.
I cited an IDF source just the other day that said Hamas had crawled to Cairo on its knees begging for a ceasefire. Not quite. Hamas may have sought that ceasefire, but only with the intention of securing good terms in the subsequent negotiations. It is not yet on its knees and it must be brought down if not eliminated. At present it still possess too much strength.
Our troops are still at the border of Gaza and I have no clue as to whether they will be sent in again. What I do know is that the soldiers themselves are ready and eager. Netanyahu said there would be a forceful response if Hamas started firing again. Truly, do I hope so. No token bombings.
That seems to be what our MKs across the political spectrum are calling for: a very vigorous and determined response, as our deterrence depends upon this. This is being said by the left as much as the right.
All that I so thoughtfully wrote the other day about how there is an argument for not continuing the fight in Gaza has been rendered moot now. Currently we are in an “ein breira” (no choice) situation. It’s not whether we think we should continue to fight or not: We must.
Shabbat preparations call to me now. When next I write, there may be a bit more clarity on the situation, and there will be time to make comments about Obama and other players on the diplomatic stage.