07/30/14

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Faith Edition

The Watcher’s Council

IDF soldiers sing before entering Gaza: “The whole world is a narrow bridge and you must not be afraid. Serve G-d with joy and come before Him with song. We have no one to rely upon except our Father in heaven.”

Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday morning.

Council News:

Ah, the big news today is that it’s party time…

Our own Courtney, GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD adds another year to the ledger. The actual date was Monday, but we’ll celebrate it today… especially since she managed to get through her birthday weekend in one piece and without any serious encounters with the authorities.

https://www.800florals.com/img/TW490.jpg

First, some flowers, just because…

http://www.tempstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Happy-Birthday-Cake-2.jpg

Now this is a decadent rum cake… the alcohol’s cooked off, but that wonderful flavor of Mount Gay Bajan rum remains. And I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to mar that wonderful chocolate top with candle holes, but I’ll let the birthday girl decide that one… and how many candles.

And some chilled Veuve Cliquot on the side to wash it down…

Another year Courts, and you still crack me up with the joyful mayhem you perform on the defenseless English language in your articles and of course in our asides! Even better is the real substance in what you write that’s behind it. It’s a great pleasure to have you in the group and especially to have you as my friend… many, many more and keep treading the Narrow Way.

The Council In Action!!

My latest over at The Times Of Israel is up. When it comes to Hamas and Gaza, ‘demilitarization’ is the new buzzword and it gets mentioned frequently as a solution. In What ‘Demilitarization’ Really Means’, I revisit what happened the last time this carrot was held out to push a ceasefire with the full force of the ‘international community’ behind it.

This week, The MidKnight Review, Blazing Cat Fur and Gates Of Vienna earned honorable mention status with some great articles.

You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.

To bring something to my attention, simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title and a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address (which won’t be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6 PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category. Then return the favor by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week when it comes out Wednesday morning.

Simple, no?

It’s a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members, while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?

So, let’s see what we have for you this week…

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that!

07/29/14

Shloshim

Arlene from Israel

Shloshim means 30 in Hebrew, and and it is now a significant 30 days since the funerals of the three students who had been kidnapped and murdered by terrorists because they were Jews.

3 kidnapped teen boys Israel 6-14-2014

Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shayer and Naftali Fraenkel

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Tonight there was a major ceremony at the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem to mark this day that terminates the formal mourning period for the boys’ families.

 

It was incredible and powerful, because it touched not just the families, but all of us. We had taken these boys into our hearts.

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What was stunning was the understanding that ran throughout of the intrinsic connection between the murders of the boys and the war we are currently engaged in with Hamas.  It has been a process that we have witnessed, and now consider with a sense of certainty:

The boys were grabbed – they disappeared.  An emergency phone call by one of them to the police was considered a prank, and so was not promptly followed up.  This allowed the kidnappers/murderers to get away – although it was very quickly determined by authorities that members of Hamas were involved.

During the ensuing intensive search for the boys in the Hevron area, the IDF re-arrested members of Hamas who had been released during the trade for Gilad Shalit, and undermined the Hamas infrastructure in Judea and Samaria – altogether an excellent thing to have done, as Hamas was itching to take over in the Palestinian Arab areas of Judea and Samaria. This angered Hamas in Gaza, which began launching rockets into Israel.  Ultimately, because the leaders of Hamas persisted with hardened hearts, it lead to the war in which we are now engaged.

A war, it turns out, which was very very necessary, even with the price that is being paid.  For a network of reinforced tunnels had been dug that reached into communities in the south of Israel.  They were going to be used -  reportedly on Rosh Hashana – for a very major attack that would have involved – Heaven forbid – a massacre of many. The intention was to take over small communities in the south and bringing Israel to her knees.

There is not a religious person in Israel who does not see the connections within the unfolding of this situation – and the hand of Heaven.

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So powerful is this situation within the consciousness of the people of Israel that the crowds were incredible. The Great Synagogue sanctuary is huge, but filled up very quickly.  Although I arrived early with friends, we found ourselves in the spacious lobby, where chairs had been set up with large screens.  And then, we were informed, there the crowds of people gathered outside.  Thousands, they said.  The police blocked off the entire street and large screens and loudspeakers were set up there, as well.

The people who came were of all kinds – young and old, religious and less apparently so, dark-skinned and light-skinned.  They are the people of Israel.

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There were several talks delivered during the evening.  Touching, tasteful and meaningful.  “We are united,” was the constant refrain.  Yitzhak “Buji” Herzog, head of the opposition Labor party, spoke. There is no opposition now, he declared. There is no left and no right. We are one.  Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat – himself politically centrist – implored Prime Minister Netanyahu not to give in. Someone else assured the prime minister that we are all together behind him.

Both chief rabbis spoke, and there were meaningful words, again, of unity of the people and what this means, especially as we approach Tisha B’av (with more on this next week).

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There were prayers recited.  When the chief cantor of the IDF, backed by a choir, sang the prayer for the soldiers of the IDF, people wept openly.  There were intervals of song.

The three fathers together recited the mourner’s kaddish for their sons.  The parents throughout have been extraordinary models of strength and dignity and faith.

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The message, then, is clear: We are the people of Israel, united. Do not underestimate us. Our prayers are for the blessings and the protection of Heaven.

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The war?  It is ugly, and, as I have indicated, necessary; it will not go away soon.  Tomorrow will be time enough for me to write in more detail.  (Sometimes I feel as if I would have to post hourly to keep my readers abreast of the shifting circumstances.)

In brief now:

After I had written yesterday, the death of five more soldiers was announced, bringing the total to 53.  These soldiers had spotted terrorists who – again! – came through a tunnel into Israel near Kibbutz Nachal Oz.

IDF operations were then expanded.  I noted in particular mention of Jabaliya, a name readily recognizable to me: When I did research on Hamas some years ago, in connection with my work on UNRWA, the name Jabaliya came up time and again – it is clearly a terrorist hotbed.

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Earlier today, Mahmoud Abbas announced that he had convinced Hamas leaders to agree to a “humanitarian” ceasefire of 24 hours or more.

But once again, Hamas ended up saying there was nothing doing.  For the first time since the beginning of the war, Mohammed Deif, head of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades – the “military branch” of Hamas – made a statement, broadcast on Hamas’s television network: The fighting will end, he declared, only when Israel lifts its blockade of Gaza. Deif is considered a major policy-maker for Hamas.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183442#.U9gdr5vlrIV

Tonight there was a barrage of rockets, once again fired upon Israel.

07/29/14

Time Runs Out on Counting Casualties in Gaza

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

Last week I received an email from Time magazine, asking if I “would be interested in contributing a piece for Time.com on the casualty numbers being reported in Gaza. These come mostly from Hamas, and we’re interested in a piece on how reliable/unreliable the numbers are,” the email said.  But the magazine apparently wasn’t interested in the product they requested.

I immediately responded that I would be willing to provide them with a piece, and, at their request, suggested what I would plan to say. They wrote back the following: “I think we need a piece that focuses on the reported casualties and how we can/should unpack those numbers as reliable or not. What source or sources should we be going to, and how should the casualty count be done? I don’t think we need to address Israel being treated as the aggressor since I think many will be familiar with that perspective and its counter.” When I submitted a full piece targeted more toward what they suggested, they decided to pass. It wasn’t “quite what we’re looking for so will have to pass.”

The media have been playing games with the coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and most of it favors the residents of Gaza. After the UN school in Gaza was hit last week, and said to have killed 15 or 16 people, Time ran a story, which, as stated in the postscript at the end of the article, was a corrected version. By Time magazine’s admission, the earlier version of the story “drew a premature conclusion that the attack on the Gaza shelter was committed by Israel. The source of the attack has not yet been confirmed.”

NBC news also cited “Israeli shells” for the attack and spoke with “health ministry official Ashraf al-Kidra.” Israel acknowledged that a single Israeli Defense Force (IDF) shell hit the school courtyard, but said it was at a time when there was no one there, and that it had nothing to do with the deaths of those 16 people.

It’s not surprising, then, that The New York Times on July 28 counted the “mounting outrage over the hundreds of civilian Palestinians dead” as among several levers in the leverage that Hamas has in cease-fire negotiations. This hints at something all too true: every dead or crying Palestinian woman and child serves as propaganda on behalf of the militant Hamas terrorist cause.

The New York Times also describes Hamas, which was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department in 1997, as a “militant Palestinian faction that dominates the Gaza Strip” in this piece. The article front-loads the pro-Hamas sources as it makes its analysis, but the “former Israeli chief of military intelligence” is given the last word. “This is their ideology, this is what they believe in; it’s the resistance,” says Amos Yadlin. “To ask Hamas to demilitarize Gaza is like asking a priest to convert to Judaism.”

How many people really read the Times’ articles to the last sentence, especially in a 1,300-word piece?

But the Times does hint at one important issue: for all the talk about aid to those in the Gaza Strip, would international aid produce the intended effect at this point? “Politically isolated after breaks with Syria, Iran and especially Egypt, and its effort at reconciling with the Palestinian factions that rule the West Bank having failed to bear fruit, Hamas has all but given up on governing Gaza to focus on the battlefield,” writes the Times. Resistance is now a make-or-break issue.

The mainstream media’s reporting on the whole has been despicable. Although Israel agreed to five cease-fires, every one of them was broken by Hamas—which, since the Palestinians are now supposedly a “unity government,” is the same as the Palestinian government. For those who think that Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah in the West Bank represent the moderates, they should pay attention when he declares the current conflict a religious “War for Allah.” In fact, Abbas is no moderate at all, as former Israeli diplomat Yoram Ettinger has detailed. Earlier this year Abbas  said there is “no way” that he will accept Israel as a Jewish state.

Unfortunately, Time magazine, like most of the media, is determined to blame Israel in this conflict. Thus, they weren’t interested in an article that even partially discussed Israel being unfairly treated as the aggressor.

With all of their images of hospitalized and injured children, and adults, how often do the reporters connect the dots and say, “This is happening because Hamas is using women and children as human shields, and doing what it can to create more such casualties, since that is what they understand works to bring pressure on Israel. Hamas clearly does not care about the lives of its own people.” That should be the obvious conclusion to these so-called journalists, but instead, the focus of most of the reporting is to characterize Israel as the aggressor, the real terrorists, responsible for all of these casualties. Besides, the numbers of civilian deaths coming from Hamas, or the Gaza Health Ministry, are largely propaganda. How many of the casualties are caused by missiles fired from Gaza that didn’t make it into Israel? How many are because they were used as human shields? How many were killed because they were viewed as collaborators with Israel? I discuss more about the issue in the article below that was apparently too hot for Time magazine to touch.

 

Counting Casualties in Gaza

By Roger Aronoff

July 23, 2014

The death toll continues to rise in the Gaza Strip, for both Palestinians and Israelis. But media outlets have been relying on figures from the Gaza Health Ministry, which has a vested interest in making sure the death toll reflects poorly on Israelis. Raphael Ahren wrote for The Times of Israel recently that “the number of casualties, and the percentage of civilians among the dead, comes exclusively from Palestinian sources.” Israeli sources will likely not publish their numbers until much later.

In addition, according to Ahren, the United Nations has been using this same Gaza Health Ministry figures within its own reports, lending them greater credibility. The liberal ThinkProgress, a project of the Center for American Progress, challenges Ahren by saying that the United Nations only partially relies on the Gaza Health Ministry, which was historically run by Hamas. But it still gets some of its numbers from there. How much?

News organizations such as The Washington Post and CNN have been reporting on the Palestinian death toll in a causal vacuum. What should be reported is that the deaths are the responsibility of Hamas, which is committing the double war crime of targeting civilians with their missiles, and using their women and children as human shields. In addition, there are credible reports of Hamas killing members of Fatah, the supposedly moderate partner in the recently formed “unity government” for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

A couple of Washington Post articles point to the complexity of the issue. The first of two July 21st articles covered the terrorist activities within the tunnels proceeding from Gaza into Israeli soil, and the second discussed the rising Palestinian death toll. It was a choose-your-own-adventure: pick whichever side of the Palestinian-Israeli debate you’re on and proceed.

One might think that the first Post story of the two could have at least informed the second, given their close proximity. According to Washington Post writer Terrence McCoy, “…a Palestinian militia document obtained by Al-Monitor said the objective of the underground network was ‘to surprise the enemy and strike it a deadly blow that doesn’t allow a chance for survival or escape or allow him a chance to confront and defend itself.’”

The latter article focuses on the death toll of average Palestinians, which now stands at more than 500. Little mention was made of terror tactics by the Palestinians. It is as if McCoy’s story doesn’t exist.

“The number of Palestinians seeking refuge with the United Nations also rose overnight, growing to at least 85,000 people now living in 67 shelters, mostly at schools, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency said Monday,” reported the Post. “The United Nations also said a preliminary review in Gaza found that more than 72 percent of those killed were civilians, not militants, and include large numbers of women and children. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs said the high numbers of children and noncombatants raises ‘concern about respect for the principle of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law.’” Who is aiding the UN in compiling these figures—Palestinian officials, or objective observers? We now know the answer—it’s both, and since its “preliminary” and from the Gaza ministry source, these figures are suspect.

A citizen blogger went through Al Jazeera’s list of names of the deceased, and found that approximately 82 percent were male, and a plurality were in their 20s. And that is not atypical. Consider Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal, who wrote that “at the height of the so-called [2002] al-Aqsa Intifada” 2.8% of those killed were female. “To be female is a fairly reliable indicator of being a noncombatant,” wrote Stephens in 2008. “… If Israel had been guilty of indiscriminate violence against Palestinians, the ratio of male-to-female fatalities would not have been 35-1.”

Steven Stotsky of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), who went to the same Al Jazeera website, captured the demographics of those killed between July 7 and July 14. “Media coverage often parrots the line fed by Gazan authorities that ‘most of the casualties are civilians’ despite the well-established propensity of Gazan authorities to exaggerate the proportion of civilian casualties,” he writes.

“Sami Abu Zohri, a Hamas spokesman, called the Israeli offensive in Shijaiyah ‘a massacre’ and ‘a war crime,’” reported the Post. This is reminiscent of the so-called Jenin massacre of 2002, which even the UN acknowledged was a fabrication, and a history of other exaggerated claims by Palestinians that serve their short term interest of gaining public sympathy while Israel is condemned.

Even Secretary of State John Kerry sees through this type of propaganda, while most of the media apparently can’t. Asked by Candy Crowley on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday whether the U.S. is “comfortable” with “Israeli actions thus far,” Secretary Kerry said, “The fact is that Hamas uses civilians as shields, and they fire from a home, and draw the fire into the home, precisely to elicit the kind of question you just asked.”

Facts like these should make it into the Post’s and other news outlets’ reporting.

Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at roger.aronoff@aim.org.

07/28/14

How It Is

Arlene from Israel

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.

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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.

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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.

U.S. President Barack Obama (Reuters)

Credit: Reuters

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.”

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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.’”:

http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=19079

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.

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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.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/07/27/readout-president-s-call-prime-minister-netanyahu-israel

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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.

http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=64495

If the EU comes out better than Obama here, you can understand what we’re dealing with.

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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.”

http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=64499

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.

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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.

Right on!

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.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/day-21-obama-calls-netanyahu-urges-immediate-unconditional-ceasefire-in-hamas-conflict/

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)

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183436#.U9ZdEZvlrIU

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset on Thursday, July 24, 2014. (photo credit: Flash 90)
Credit: Flash90

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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)

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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.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183446#.U9aql5vlrIU

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.

http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Netanyahu-Were-prepared-for-an-extended-operation-in-Gaza-369193

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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.

07/28/14

Forum: What Should Israel Do About Gaza?

The Watcher’s Council

Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture or daily living. This week’s question: What Should Israel Do About Gaza?

The Independent Sentinel: Israel should finish the job now while Hamas has few supporters in the Arab world. They need to obliterate the tunnels and the missiles. Then they should go back home but monitor any shipments going into Gaza.

It’s a blessing that Morsi is gone.

Simply Jews: What happens the day after Hamas is destroyed?

Unfortunately, we may not see that day anytime soon. Our government is not up to sacrifice lives of hundreds of soldiers required to smoke out the terrorists from under the center of the Gaza City, which will be the price once the fighting in the confines of the city really starts.

Or should Hamas be destroyed or just disarmed, if that’s possible?

In the ideal world Hamas should be destroyed, in a less ideal – disarmed. In our world, neither will happen, due to (see above). It will be helpful as well to read this;

http://www.timesofisrael.com/a-supportive-british-colonel-and-a-bleak-vision-of-endless-costly-military-operations/

I am sorry to say that it is all true.

What should Israel’s strategy towards Hamas/Fatah be?

Trying to bolster the latter in every situation that will harm the former. For example, if freeing prisoners: leave the Hamas ones in prison. Any relief of restrictions goes to the latter – leaving the former in the mud. But all of this – publicly, with lots of coverage. Encourage good behavior so that all can see it.

What strategy should America support?

The one agreed in the privacy between the two sides and not the one blurted via “accidentally” operating mikes to the media, totally not agreed by the other side. As it more and more frequently happens lately.

What is most likely to occur there?

Nothing essentially new. Same old. Another year or two of relative calm, followed by a new round of strife.

Sorry for being so pessimistic.

JoshuaPundit: There are two things you hear said a lot about this situation, usually by genuinely stupid politicians or equally stupid think tank inhabitants. The first is the trophe that ‘there is no military solution.’  The second is to say there is a major  difference between Hamas and Fatah.

Actually, a military solution would be the only one that would work. And the dime’s worth of difference between  Hamas and Fatah,the difference between ‘acceptable’ terrorists and ‘unacceptable’ terrorists has faded to nothingness because of the unity agreement between the two and their coordinated strategy in the Third Intifada.

It should be apparent by now that anything Israel does to defend itself is now going to be subject to  criticism by the usual suspects, which now unfortunately includes the Obama regime. That should be apparent to anyone following the news of President Obama’s trying to rescue Hamas by demanding Israel abide by an unconditional ceasefire…while he and Qatar and the EU fund them.

Israel is in the same position with Obama as they were with France’s DeGaulle on the eve of the Six Day War.Since anything they do short of committing suicide is going to get the same reaction, they have little to lose.

There is a solution to Gaza. It involves Israel  (1) destroying Hamas utterly by whatever means necessary (2) Annexing Gaza (3) removing most of the Arab population either to Area A, the reichlet of Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas or to UNRWA refugee camps outside Israeli territory and (4) Gradually repopulating Gaza with Jews and watching it become Singapore or Hong Kong instead of an Islamo-fascist swamp.

Every poll indicates that Israel’s population overwhelmingly supports defeating Hamas once and for all.There really is no choice.

At the same time, the behavior of Abbas and Fatah have shown that  a similar solution has to be coordinated with them. Israel needs to delineate its borders unilateral and enforce them. Annex Area C and the Jordan Valley where the populations are overwhelmingly Jewish as well as whatever strategic areas of Areas A and B Israel determines it wishes to control. Cede the rest of Area A to Abbas as his little reichlet, and move all Jews outside the new borders  to Israeli territory and all Arab non-Israeli citizens to ‘Palestine’. Endgame, and as the divorce becomes final,  a  warning:  let Abbas and Fatah know that any aggressive action, including lawfare will involve severe consequences. And follow through on it.

Peace comes from victory. And after all of the ‘sacrifices for peace’ written in Jewish blood forced on Israel since the Oslo debacle, I think the Israeli people would support this over these constant wars of attrition that grow more costly each time. Enough of the balagan gadol.

The Razor: Unfortunately Israelis don’t have the stomach for permanently fixing the problem in Gaza and the West Bank: Ethnically cleansing the Palestinians from both areas and forcing them into refugee camps in Jordan or Egypt or wherever else the locals will put up with them. It’s not that Israel couldn’t survive the heat from the outside world; I believe the average Israeli doesn’t have the conscience to do it. Contrary to what the Europeans and many on the Left here in the US believe, the Jews are a moral people. It would be difficult for them to accept the morality of a campaign of trucking the Palestinians out of their homes in Gaza and the West Bank to the border crossings in Egypt and Jordan. But morality and political stability are two mutually exclusive domains.

Barring such a moral turn, the only viable solution I’ve seen is the “Shock the Casbah” strategy described here: http://www.the-american-interest.com/garfinkle/2014/07/24/why-is-this-gaza-war-different-from-all-other-gaza-wars/. In a nutshell, it means negotiating a final settlement with the PA, but it’s a longshot as Garfinkle notes, “because it requires a boldness of vision and leadership in Israel, among the Palestinians, and in the United States, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia that is simply not available.” I believe Netanyahu is bold, but he has no counterpart on the PA side, and definitely lacks a bold leader here in the United States. So I doubt that will happen.

At this point I don’t see an end to the violence in Gaza, just a lot more muddling through. If Hamas can be destroyed the Israelis should do it. It’s on the ropes with an unfriendly Egypt behind it and it’s Iranian patron too busy in Syria and Iraq to give them much notice. Of course there can always be worse in Gaza. Look at Isis in Northern Iraq…

 Ask Marion: There really is no Palestinian State.  They have continually failed to lay the groundwork for a viable homeland and the continual jockeying over the two state solution exists to placate International opinion.

It would be nice to say, just disarm Hamas and everything will be fine, but in reality the only way to peace is for Israel to destroy them.  Even after years for war in the Middle East, Americans are generally clueless about what is going on there, where the borders are or even where most of the countries in the Middle East are and they certainly have no clue as to the minutia.

Operation Protective Edge continues to move toward its goals while the Hamas system of complex and advanced military infrastructure tunnels is being realized beneath them. Israel can and I believe has the ability to reach their immediate goal of destroying this tunnel system that has been constructed, subduing rocket fire and leave Gaza… establishing a couple of years of calm and normalcy. But if Hamas is not destroyed, this is a temporary solution… until the next round. As Netanyahu has pointed out, Hamas breaks all cease fires and agreements.

Video: Netanyahu: Hamas Has Broken All Cease Fires We Have Agreed To

But why wait for a next time? Israel should eliminate the Hamas threat completely right now during Operation Protective Edge, including reoccupying Gaza and destroying every rocket, gun, bullet, armament, as well as their factories. Israel has already mobilized into Gaza and Hamas has been weakened by these first few weeks of fighting. Plus, maybe the most important difference is the Sinai factor which has not presented itself before and could disappear again in the future. There has been a military rapprochement with the Egyptians since al-Sisi overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood. Currently, Egypt is completely in Israel’s court. Having their backs up against the wall Hamas leaders and fighters will not be able to escape into the Sinai, the only place they could go in the past in a final Israeli assault scenario. The Egyptians will cut them down if they try to enter their territory. They will be forced to shoot it out with the IDF. So now is the time. Israel certainly is not going to get any help from the U.S. while Obama is our president and who knows what the future will bring?!? Funny how that border word seems to vary from situation to situation in President Obama’s mind… and actions!!

Well, there you have it.

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum. And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council and the results are posted on Friday morning.

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07/27/14

Time to Finish the Threat

Arlene from Israel

It’s going on 72 hours since I’ve posted – the longest interval I’ve gone without a posting since this war with Hamas began.  In that period, as I have attempted to track what is happening, I felt as if my head was spinning 350 degrees. Round and round.

Here I only intend to review the essential outline of what has been transpiring and then look at the bottom line basics that matter most.

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In the period leading up to Shabbat, on Friday, Israel was said to be considering a proposal for a week long ceasefire that had been put on the table by Kerry.  In the end, that proposal was unanimously rejected by the Israel Security Cabinet; its members were, to a person, furious: Kerry had come out solidly on the side of Hamas.

Communicating with representatives of Qatar and Turkey in putting together his proposal, Kerry had, in the words of unnamed Israeli sources cited by Times of Israel, “’dug a tunnel under the Egyptian ceasefire 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…

”To the ‘horror’ of the Israeli ministers, the Kerry proposal accepted Hamas’s demands for the opening of border crossings into Gaza — where Israel and Egypt fear the import of weaponry; the construction of a seaport; and the creation of a post-conflict funding channel for Hamas from Qatar and other countries, according to the sources. The proposal, meanwhile, did not even provide for Israel to continue demolishing the Hamas network of ‘terror tunnels’ dug under the Israeli border. (All emphasis added)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/kerry-completely-capitulated-to-hamas-in-ceasefire-proposal-says-israel/

”Channel 2′s diplomatic reporter Udi Segal said ‘voices”’ from the cabinet had described Kerry as ‘negligent,’ ‘lacking the ability to understand’ the issues, and ‘incapable of handling the most basic matters.’”

I myself think describing Kerry thus is cutting him too much slack. He is not the rocket scientist of the diplomatic world, true. But he’s not so foolish that he cannot perceive the implications of failing to call for demolishing the terror tunnels into Israel.  What we are seeing is not an attempt to stop the fighting that is simply lacking in conceptual clarity. We’re seeing an ally of Hamas express his distain and malice toward the people of Israel.  Make no mistake about this, or about the fact that Kerry speaks for the man in the White House.

Times of Israel editor David Horovitz calls what Kerry did a “betrayal,” and says the result is that “Jerusalem now regards him as duplicitous and dangerous.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/john-kerry-the-betrayal/

This is an awakening that I see as all to the good.

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Subsequent to this, Kerry went to Paris where he met with representatives of Qatar and Turkey to “continue working” on the ceasefire.  I believe he met there as well with Ban Ki Moon, whom my readers know well as another duplicitous anti-Israel diplomat.

Should you feel inclined (you many not), you can see here a recent video of a press conference with Netanyahu and Ban. Our prime minister very vividly lays out the picture of what we are contending with regarding Hamas, after which Ban professes sympathy and then advises us that we cannot solve the problem until there is no more “occupation” and a “two state solution.”  We should start talking to each other.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qG-abT0lYYM

Today, Ban made a comment about how the people of Gaza have suffered enough.  As if we were causing that suffering on purpose and calling a halt to it is all that matters.

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After Israel rejected the week-long ceasefire that had been proposed by Kerry, Ban Ki Moon, in Paris, working with other “diplomats,” called for a short humanitarian ceasefire – to allow supplies to be brought in and the dead to be brought out – to be honored from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM yesterday. That was accomplished.

The UN then asked that the ceasefire be extended for another day.  We agreed to four more hours. But at 8:01 PM Hamas started firing again, declaring that “We didn’t agree to an extension.”  In spite of this, we held our fire.

Yet another extension – another day – of ceasefire was then requested and at about midnight last night the Security Cabinet met again (they are in very frequent session) and voted to agree to that further extension – I believe 20 hours – even though it was a one-sided ceasefire.  It was about at that point that I went into my WHAT ARE THEY DOING? mode.

Today we started shelling in Gaza again, because Hamas did not honor the ceasefire and enough was enough.

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AFTER we started shooting again, Hamas suddenly decided a ceasefire was a good idea after all, and called for it to be mutually instituted. This time Netanyahu said, Nothing doing.  Hamas had violated five ceasefires, two in the last 24 hours. Just since midnight last night, Hamas has launched over 40 rockets.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183396#.U9Ue15vlrIU

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One can readily see, reading this description of what has been transpiring, how the head might spin.  But the precise details are not important – it’s the bigger picture that matters.

There have been many questions raised about how much work was being done on dismantling the tunnels during times when we were holding fire.  I’ve gotten different reports on this from various sources, but my sense is that very little was done.  Thus do these “humanitarian” ceasefires unsettle me because they have the potential to shut us down a little at a time.  Before everything we have set out to do has been done.

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However, in the end, it’s not just about dismantling the tunnels we have uncovered: The stark truth is that we are not going to get all of the tunnels.

Several times I have a great sense of unease as our prime minister has said, “We are moving ahead with our goals, but there is no guarantee we will get 100% of the tunnels.”  And slowly, the picture has become clear.

Reports say we have identified about 35 tunnels.  I cited a report from Steve Emerson the other day that said the Americans, utilizing infrared censors in a satellite, had identified 60 tunnels.  Just today I picked up reliable information that, from the terrorists we have arrested in Gaza, we have learned that there are somewhere between 70 and 100 tunnels.

What is more, we are not fully dismantling all of those tunnels we have identified – a difficult job because of that reinforced concrete.

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We are, at least in some cases, apparently doing such things as detonating charges at the mouths of tunnels and pouring sand into them.  Is it far fetched to wonder whether some of them would be able to be reinstated as working tunnels with some effort by Hamas?

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Preventing Hamas from using these tunnels is the top priority now.  A major story has been making the news about what Hamas had planned.  I’ve heard alternately that written plans for this were picked up inside of some of the tunnels, or that the information came from some of the terrorists who have been captured.  I cannot verify the story and thus normally would not even mention it.  But it sounds like something Hamas might have been planning. They didn’t build the tunnels for recreation.  If it wasn’t this, it would be something similar:

“Hamas had apparently been preparing a murderous assault on Israeli civilian targets for the coming Jewish New Year Holiday, Rosh Hashanah, which begins on September 24, according anonymous sources in the Israeli security services, as reported today by the Israeli daily Maariv.

The Hamas plan consisted of what was to be a surprise attack in which 200 fighters would be dispatched through each of dozens of tunnels dug by Hamas under the border from Gaza to Israel, and seize kibbutzim and other communities while killing and kidnapping Israeli civilians.” (Emphasis added)

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4516/hamas-mega-attack

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So, if we take out 45 tunnels and 15 or 20 remain – each with several exit points in Israel?  It does not bear thinking about.  But we have to think about it.

Other means must be devised for preventing this.  The threat must be finished.  And it remains the responsibility of the government to do so.

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It is very much to the good that Netanyahu is saying that the only ceasefire proposal on the table is Egypt’s, and that the rehabilitation of Gaza will depend on its demilitarization:

http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Netanyahu-Future-funds-to-rebuild-Gaza-must-be-linked-to-its-demilitarization-369066

There is, as well, the need for the development of techniques at the Gaza border on our side that will reveal any underground activity, or interfere with it.  There are many cutting-edge engineers we can draw upon. We think out of the box: We need the attention and the dedication to see this through.

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What I ask, then, is that you please write to PM Netanyahu. Let him know that you are with him as he stands strong – that standing strong against all demands that weaken Israel is imperative.  Tell him that the job must be done right.  Hamas must be sufficiently weakened or eliminated, so that it is no longer a threat to Israel. In particular, Hamas must be totally blocked from its ability to attack Jews in Israel via tunnels. The nation of Israel is depending upon him; and the Western world requires his model of strength and determination.

E-mail: Memshala@pmo.gov.il  also pm_eng2@it.pmo.gov.il  (underscore after pm) use both addresses.

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The rockets also must be contended with.  Some tens of thousands remain (in truth, we cannot be certain precisely how many).  They present less of an immediate threat than the prospect of large scale attacks via tunnels because of Iron Dome and our use of shelters. But this threat, too, must be eliminated.

You will note that a constant refrain of Hamas is that their borders must be opened. This would facilitate the transfer of more rockets into Gaza.  And I mention here that Hamas reportedly expects to acquire new rockets from North Korea:

“Hamas [has] signed an arms deal with North Korea in order to replenish its depleted rocket arsenal…according to The Telegraph.

In an exclusive report the British paper sited senior security sources who claimed that the deal, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, had already been signed, having been made via Lebanese intermediaries.  Hamas has reportedly made an initial down payment in cash to Pyongyang, and is hoping for an imminent delivery to Gaza.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183374#.U9U6opvlrIV

These plans signal the attitude of Hamas leaders – they are not feeling defeated, but want to pick and go on.  Our methods of dealing with them must be informed by their attitude.

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As of today, 43 of our soldiers have died.

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A new poll indicates that 86.5% of Israelis do not want a ceasefire now.

http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=64491

The spirit of the nation is incredible, as people gather to pray for the soldiers, and pack gift packages to bring to them. Almost everyone is involved somehow.