Current Postings

July 28, 2014: How It Is

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.

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© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/7/28/july-28-2014-how-it-is.html

 

Posted on Monday, July 28, 2014 at 05:12PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 27, 2014: Time to Finish the Threat

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. 

[Image]

[Image]


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. 

 

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© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

 http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/7/27/july-27-2014-time-to-finish-the-threat.html

 

Posted on Sunday, July 27, 2014 at 04:30PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 24, 2014: A Bit Better

Kerry has left Israel, for consultations in Cairo.  He’ll be back, undoubtedly.  But it’s nice to know he’s not here.

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The FAA ban on US airlines flying in and out of Ben Gurion has been lifted.  They say it’s because they have been “working with its US government counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewing both significant new information and measures the Government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation,"

http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/FAA-lifts-flight-ban-on-US-flights-to-Israel-368705

Yea, right. They were simply called out on this decision and backed off.

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And I suspect that the forthright and public response of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) may have had something to do with it.  The Senator wanted to know whether the decision to ban flights amounted to an economic boycott of Israel, expressed himself dubious about the exact timing of that decision, and posed five specific questions.  Among those questions: Why, if the issue is safety, was Israel singled out when flights are permitted into Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen? 

When a state department spokesperson called the questions “offensive and ridiculous,” he countered that, “Serious questions were asked about the nature of a decision that handed Hamas a public relations victory...the only thing ‘ridiculous’ is the state department’s response to basic questions.”

In his full statement – which you can see here:  http://www.cruz.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=1593 - he declared that “Ben Gurion has rightly earned the reputation as one of the safest airports in the world due to the aggressive security measures implemented by the Israeli government.”  (Emphasis added)

He then said he would hold up the approval of state department diplomatic nominees until he got answers to his questions.

It’s important to recognize that we do have good friends in the American government (if not in the executive branch). 

Ted Cruz is pictured. | AP Photo

Credit: AP

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As to the need to take out all of Hamas’s tunnels...

Chief of Staff Benny Gantz made a statement yesterday when he visited soldiers on the front lines:

"we must stick to the targets for which we entered [Gaza] and continue our maneuvers as long as it takes." 
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4549085,00.html

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And then there was an interview late in the day yesterday given by member of the Security Cabinet Finance Minister Yair Lapid (head of Yesh Atid).  It perhaps has added significance because he’s center-left and until recent days talked a great deal about “peace.”  Said Lapid (emphasis added):

“...the objectives of the operation needed to be met ‘before they talk to us about a ceasefire.’

“Lapid defined the objectives as cleansing ‘Gaza of its terrorist tunnels and delivering a significant blow to Hamas’s rocket infrastructure.’

“Even amid all the talk of a ceasefire, Lapid said the government was telling IDF to ‘go, achieve your objectives.’”

http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Security-cabinet-discusses-both-expanding-Gaza-operation-cease-fire-efforts-368668

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While Communications Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) who is a member of the Security Cabinet, said today that we are not seeking a ceasefire at present – we must complete our ground offensive first, something he estimates will take another week or two.  After that, he said, if Hamas is still launching rockets, we may have to go further, and find Hamas leadership “hiding in their holes.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/army-may-have-to-grab-hamas-leaders-hiding-in-their-holes/

As I wrote yesterday, “Hold on, hold on!”  If this remains the policy of the government, we will be OK.

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I share here an article put out from The Investigative Project on Terrorism, headed by Steve Emerson.

It raises some serious questions regarding the identification of all of Hamas’s tunnels.  It’s pointless to talk about taking them all out if they haven’t all been identified.  Additionally, it raises troubling questions about whether the US necessarily shares all of its information on the tunnels with Israel and whether Israel is utilizing all possible hi tech equipment for identifying tunnels deep underground.  (Please be assured, Israel is aware of this equipment.)

According to Emerson, US officials believe that Israel is underestimating the number of tunnels.  American information on this has been acquired via satellites equipped with special high resolution infrared detection technology.
 
And then we have this information:

“It is believed that the construction of the more advanced Palestinian tunnels began right after the 2012 cease-fire agreement, when Israel agreed to lift restrictions for humanitarian aid, including large quantities of steel and concrete," he [Emerson] said, adding that the agreement to lift the blockade was overseen by Hillary Clinton.

“...the tunnels are quite sophisticated, with water, sewage, and lighting allowing for months-long stays.” (Emphasis added)

http://www.investigativeproject.org/4471/exclusive-us-intelligence-source-claims-hamas-has
 
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Much is being made these days of a shift in international opinion that reflects a greater acknowledgement of the nature of Hamas. There is some shift, true (and I’ll explore this further in a coming post), but I think it would be foolish to rely upon this in any significant way.

The EU Foreign Affairs Council released a statement with regard to the Gaza war two days ago.  And it has been pointed out that the EU foreign ministers for the first time said: ”All terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm.” (Emphasis added)

Yes, good. But it also said:

”The EU condemns the loss of hundreds of civilian lives, among them many women and children. While recognizing Israel's legitimate right to defend itself against any attacks, the EU underlines that the Israeli military operation must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law.”  (Emphasis added)

So there we are.  A “balanced” assessment that levels fallacious charges against Israel.

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Here, as elsewhere, the concept of “proportionate” is either misunderstood or deliberately distorted.

International law defines proportionality in the context of legitimate military goals. 

If there is a military necessity – e.g., striking a launcher – then it is considered legitimate to act even if there may be civilians injured or killed. 

As Col. Richard Kemp - former commander of British forces in Afghanistan - explained in a talk he delivered here in Jerusalem just this evening, the question of proportionality comes in with regard to how much is force is required to achieve that legitimate goal.  If the force used is not excessive, then even if there are civilians hit, it is proportionate.
            
What would be “disproportionate” would be an intentional attack directed against civilians or an attack launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage. 

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Ambassador Alan Baker, an international lawyer, in a new piece for JCPA, also addresses these issues.  He writes (emphasis added):

“International law recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself, whether by the conventional international right of self-defense as set out in the UN Charter or by the international customary right to self-defense.
 
“Accusations that Israel is collectively punishing the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip have no basis. Israel’s military actions are solely directed to one strategic and tactical purpose, not to punish the population, but to halt the indiscriminate rocket fire and terror infiltration into Israel’s sovereign territory.
 
The allegation leveled against Israel that it uses disproportionate force, is a misreading of the international rules of proportionality in armed conflict which are intended to regulate the extent of force needed in relation to the military challenge anticipated.”
 
http://jcpa.org/article/hamas-israel-confrontation-legal-points/

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Speaking of proportionate force...

A topic that I must mention here (and will return to in considerably more detail soon) is the prospect of a “Goldstone II,” which we are now facing.  Remember the Goldstone Report? Libelous accusations regarding Israel’s “war crimes” committed during Operation Cast Lead (at the beginning of 2009) were leveled at us in this major report.  It followed an “investigation” that was headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, as mandated by the UN Human Relations Council.

I mention it here because that same UN Human Rights Council, which is consistently and notoriously anti-Israel, has now voted to appoint an “international commission of inquiry” to look at Israeli actions in “the Palestinian territories” and most specifically Gaza.

Only the US voted against this.  While 29 countries approved it and 17 nations – including those considered allies, such as the UK, Germany and France - abstained.

Israel has called this action a “travesty.” A statement from the prime minister’s office said, “This investigation by a kangaroo court is a foregone conclusion.”

Indeed.  UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has already come out with a statement that, “There seems a strong possibility that international humanitarian law has been violated in a manner that could amount to war crimes.”

This is not at all unexpected.  It was at a seminar discussing this issue that I heard Col. Kemp speak tonight.

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The battle with Hamas inside of Gaza continues.  The count of young soldiers we have lost is now 32. 

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In a ceremony in the Knesset that was very low key because of the war, Ruby (Reuven) Rivlin was sworn in as president of Israel today, succeeding Shimon Peres  His term of office is seven years.

After reciting the Shehechiyanu prayer, he said: “With this prayer, in awe and humility, on your behalf and at your command, I come to faithfully fulfill my role as tenth president of the State of Israel.”

Reuven Rivlin to take Shimon Peres´ post.
Credit: Philly.com

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© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/7/24/july-24-2014-a-bit-better.html

 

Posted on Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 02:33PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 23, 2014: Hold On, Hold On!

We buried another lone soldier today.  Max Steinberg, 24, a Golani soldier who came from Los Angeles just a couple of years ago.  Again, a call went out for people to come to the funeral, held at the national cemetery on Har Herzl, Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said: “Over 30,000 people came to give you the honor of a hero. The strength of the Jewish people lies in people like you.”

There are tears that do not go away. 

Embedded image permalink

Credit: LoneTreeBeer

~~~~~~~~~~

The big news last night was that the US Federal Aviation Administration gave an order banning US flights to and from Ben Gurion Airport for 24 hours. (That ban has already been extended beyond the original 24 hours.)  Some US airlines then said they were going to cancel flights into Israel indefinitely. and some European airlines fell in line.

The US is saying that this was done because of potential risk to planes of being hit by Hamas rockets, because a rocket had hit a house in Yehud, which is about a kilometer from the airport.

http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/FAA-bans-flights-to-Israel-on-US-airlines-for-24-hours-368542

~~~~~~~~~~

Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz (Likud), however, calls this decision “surrendering to terrorism”: “This decision is not proper...Contacts are being made at all government and professional levels to change this decision.”   He explains that both because of the Iron Dome system and the airport's own security arrangements - both inside the airport itself and for aircraft - there really is no reason to fear.

The airport remains open; El Al continues to operate and has no intention of stopping.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183243#.U8_ZXpvlrIV

~~~~~~~~~~

Eugene Kantorovich, international lawyer, posed it a great deal more strongly in “Israel, the FAA and International Isolation” (emphasis added):

“For years, peace processors and pundits have threatened that to stop its ‘growing international isolation,’ Israel must make ‘painful concessions’ and withdraw from territory. The ‘growing isolation’ was always a myth...
 
“Now, however, international isolation has truly arrived–not from holding territory, but from leaving it. With the suspension of American and European flights to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, rockets from Gaza yielded what peace processors said settlement construction would. The flight suspension by all major airlines is a major–even if temporary–economic, diplomatic, and psychological setback for Israel. It finds itself, for the moment, in same position as Iraq, Libya, and Somalia.

The subtext here is that Israel has a sword at its neck: face a private-sector no-fly zone or agree to a cease-fire that lets Hamas keep its rockets, and thus close Ben Gurion Airport again at the time of its choosing. It is a lose-lose proposition...

“Indeed, the decision-making behind the FAA ban demands investigation. Ben Gurion remains an extremely safe airport. The FAA had many various measures short of a flight ban, like warnings, that it could have imposed. The FAA only warns airlines about flying to Afghanistan; it does not ban them. And the FAA move comes the day after a general State Department warning about Israel–though far more people were killed in Chicago on Fourth of July weekend than in the Jewish state since the start of the Gaza campaign...”

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/07/22/israel-the-faa-and-international-isolation/

~~~~~~~~~~

J.E. Dwyer, a retired Naval Intelligence officer who cites Kontorovich in her piece, provides additional evidence for the political nature of the FAA ruling (emphasis added):

“I would cite the example of Pakistan, where there have been multiple, very serious attacks on commercial airports in recent months, including an attack on an airliner in Peshawar, this one on the airport in Karachi, and an earlier one involving Taliban rocket fire in Peshawar...In none of the instances in Pakistan has the FAA banned U.S. carriers from flying in and out of the Pakistani airports.  At most, it has issued safety warnings.”

http://libertyunyielding.com/2014/07/23/finally-obama-leads-front-hamas-faa-move-ben-gurion/

(With thanks to Saul G.)

~~~~~~~~~~

The bottom line here is that we cannot allow Obama/Kerry to squeeze us.  We must – absolutely must – bite the bullet and do what we need to do with Hamas in Gaza. 

Caroline Glick describes the situation (emphasis added):

“We have known for years that tunnels were a central component of Hamas’s logistical infrastructure.

“What began as the primary means of smuggling weapons, trainers and other war material from Hamas’s sponsors abroad developed rapidly into a strategic tool of offensive warfare against Israel.

“As we have seen from the heavily armed Hamas commando squads that have infiltrated into Israel from tunnels since the start of the current round of warfare, the first goal of these offensive tunnels is to deploy terrorists into Israel to massacre Israelis.

“But the tunnels facilitate other terror missions as well.

Israel has found tunnels with shafts rigged with bombs located directly under Israeli kindergartens.

If the bombs had gone off, the buildings above would have been destroyed, taking the children down with them.

“Other exposed shafts showed Hamas’s continued intense interest in hostage taking...”

http://carolineglick.com/obama-to-the-rescue-of-hamas/

~~~~~~~~~~

In “Hamas’s Attack Tunnels: Analysis and Initial Implications,” written for JCPA, Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is even more explicit about the tunnels (emphasis added):

“...Tunnel warfare provided armies facing a technological superior adversary with an effective means for countering its air superiority.  For example, a tunnel is opened only briefly to launch rockets and then immediately closed to prevent detection of the launchers’ location by the IDF.  The concealment of these launchers in tunnels, in the heart of the civilian population, makes it very difficult to detect them in real time and attack them...
 
“The attack tunnels create a new equation in the power balance between Israel and Hamas. They give Hamas an ability to infiltrate Israel and carry out strategic attacks involving mass killing, along with an ability to launch missiles from locations concealed within civilian population centers that serve, in effect, as human shields. Should Hamas retain in the future 20 tunnels, and dispatch 50 operatives in each, they could deploy 1,000 men behind Israeli lines. The tunnels would allow Hamas to wreak havoc if they are left in place.”
 
http://jcpa.org/hamas-attack-tunnels/

~~~~~~~~~~

Thus, there must be no cessation of Israel’s operation in Gaza until the job is done.  No, “almost done,” no, “we got most of the tunnels.”  Done.

Kerry is here in Israel, working on that ceasefire.  He claims to have made “some progress,” but we must remind ourselves that he always says this no matter the situation.  “There is still work to be done,” he admits, and I would say so: 

From Qatar, Khaled Mashaal declares in a public statement, regarding a ceasefire, “We reject today and will reject in the future."
 
Mashaal will not accept the Egyptian proposal for establishing a humanitarian ceasefire first and then negotiating terms.
 
First Israel must end its siege of Gaza, he says, and then there can be a ceasefire.  No outside force will disarm Hamas. (So much for Netanyahu’s notion of getting the international community to do this.)  The only way this could happen is if Israel also disarmed, says Mashaal.

~~~~~~~~~~

And please note this:

“Referring to the suspension of international flights to Israel, Mashaal said: ‘When you lay siege to our airspace, we lay siege to your airspace. The resistance is today in the Gaza Strip and tomorrow it is capable of surrounding you in the West Bank.’”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Mashaal-Israel-must-end-siege-for-humanitarian-cease-fire-in-Gaza-368653

~~~~~~~~~~

Heaven is giving us our chance here.  Mashaal reminds me of Pharaoh, whose heart was hardened.  He thinks he can stand against us, but he is sowing the seeds of Hamas’s destruction. 

He says that he and the other leaders of Hamas are prepared to die for the sake of ending the blockade.

But that’s pure rhetoric. While we would be happy to oblige, what he means is that he’s prepared to allow the civilians of Gaza to keep dying.

See this:

“Hamas has millions in assets, and it seems that the wealth extends to day-to-day life as well as investments and fat bank accounts. For them [the leaders], life is about private jets and luxury, not war planes and hunger.”

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4548202,00.html

~~~~~~~~~~

Where are we now?  Making good progress, winning every battle with Hamas, uncovering new tunnels.  We have captured several Hamas operatives, and secured information from them about tunnels we hadn’t been aware of.  Just today a major tunnel was discovered that had maps and weaponry that was clearly intended for an imminent terror attack.

Obviously, Ya’alon’s statement three days ago that we needed only two or three more days was over-optimistic.  Either that, or, my gut tells me, perhaps at that point it was anticipated that a ceasefire would be forthcoming soon, and so it was best to set this time table publicly.

At any rate, several more days are necessary.  Tonight there is talk that the Security Cabinet might vote to further step up the operation.

As we progress, painfully, we also continue to lose soldiers.
 
~~~~~~~~~~

Today, we struck a terrorist position in al-Wafa hospital in Gaza (emphasis added):

“IDF sources say that the controversial decision to attack the position was taken after several days in which ground forces came under heavy fire from gunmen positioned inside the hospital grounds. The fire report included both light weaponry and heavy anti-tank missiles directed towards IDF armored vehicles.
 
The hospital premises were being used as war rooms and command centers by the terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad,’ said an IDF spokesperson.

“The military added that it had repeatedly warned international agencies and the Palestinian head of the hospital directly about the gunfire from the hospital, as well as several other senior Palestinian officials – but to no avail. Instead, in the past several hours the intensity of the attacks has only increased, posing a real and imminent danger to the lives of soldiers operating in the area, forcing the IDF to respond with fire of its own.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183247#.U8-t8pvlrIU

The fact that the IDF finally acted here is significant,  That Hamas uses hospitals as command centers is hardly news.  But the readiness to defend our soldiers (after appropriate warnings), even if a hospital was involved, shows a strength that is encouraging.  They didn’t hold back because the PR will be negative.

~~~~~~~~~~

There are rumors that we have killed  Muhammad Sinwar, one of the commanders of Hamas’s military wing.  Hamas is denying this. 

Unquestionably, we are aiming for the big guys when it is possible (and they’re not hiding in tunnels under hospitals).

~~~~~~~~~~

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, is here in Jerusalem, having flown in on El Al:


“I flew here to show solidarity with the Israeli people, who have come under attack from Hamas, and to show that it’s safe to fly in and out of Israel.

“Halting flights here – when the airport is safe – hurts Israel and rewards Hamas for attacking Israel. Hamas wants to shut down the airport; we can’t let that happen.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/day-16-of-hamas-israel-conflict-finds-ceasefire-bids-stalled-foreign-airlines-leaving-israel-and-death-toll-rising/

Much appreciated.

Credit: AP
 
~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/7/23/july-23-2014-hold-on-hold-on.html

 

Posted on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 05:39PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 22, 2014: A Proud and Anguished Heart

Before I share news, I want to take the liberty of talking, first, about the anguish in my heart – the tears that I carry inside of me - because of this war we are fighting.

There is, above all, the sense of loss that fine young Israeli men in the prime of their lives are being taken down by the enemy.  I mourn them, and the circumstances that have brought them to their deaths. (see below)

But there is more: There is the sense of inherent and breathtaking injustice that is at the core of what is going on. 

I’ve seen it expressed in several different contexts over the years: Muslim Arabs, who face us as enemies, crow that they have a tactical advantage because “Just as they [the Jews] love life, so do we love death.”  While we seek to protect our people, they find theirs dispensable. And oh, what a diabolical imbalance that generates.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Might-have-been-horrors” don’t count for the world. 

It’s true with regard to the rocket attacks from Hamas. They have launched way over 1,000 rockets since the beginning of the war.  If they had been successful, many many Israeli civilians would have been killed and enormous damage would have been done.  But we have the Iron Shield anti-missile defense and a homefront defense that seeks to protect civilians. So the world pays no attention to the maliced intent of Hamas or to the fact that they are committing war crimes.

In recent days, as well, we’ve caught several Hamas terrorists coming through tunnels on their way to generating massacre and mayhem in Israel.  But that’s the point. We were on the lookout and we caught them. 

The world clearly has no imagination about what would have happened, had the Shin Bet and the IDF not been diligent. 

So let me provide a reminder.  Three years ago, terrorists made their way into the community of Itamar and slaughtered the Fogel family.  Among those killed was a three month old baby.  Her throat was slit. 

Credit: Hezbos

When the terrorists were caught, they expressed pride in what they had done.  Bodily mutilation is the norm, you see, when they murder Jews.

So the world may not care, or may choose to look away. But we here in Israel know.  The possibilities have been seared into our national consciousness.  We know what would happen – Heaven forbid! – if terrorists utilizing tunnels made their way into our communities. 

We know that we must do all that we can to assure that this does not happen.  This means taking out those tunnels.  It’s the obligation of the government and the IDF to see it done, to protect the people of Israel.

~~~~~~~~~~

But we are dealing with a diabolical enemy that is pleased to sacrifice its own people in order to make matters difficult for us.  Just as their rockets are stored in and launched from civilian places such as mosques and schools, so are the entrances to the tunnels located in civilian areas. Some tunnels open up inside of houses.  Maybe underneath someone’s bed.  Or under mosques.

We warn the civilians that they should leave before we launch an attack – an attack that is essential for the safety of Israeli civilians.  What other nation in the world does this??  I do not believe there has ever been another.  I don’t believe there ever will be another.  It actually puts us at a tactical disadvantage because Hamas knows where we are about to attack.  But does the world notice? Are we praised?  Of course not.

For the local civilians are told by Hamas not to leave when Israel advises them to do so.  They are encouraged to be “martyrs” for their great cause.  Being a martyr means dying in an Israeli attack so that Hamas can leverage the death against us in a PR blitz.  Dead Arab women and children are Hamas’s weapon.  It’s made to look as if Israel uncaringly or deliberately launches attacks on innocents.

More anguish.  There is no joy for us in killing children. 

~~~~~~~~~~

In various places in the world from Paris to Boston  (pictured), there are orgiastic demonstrations of hatred towards Israel going on.  Because we are “child killers.” 


Credit: Israelagainstterror

The venom of anti-Semitism flows in the veins of these demonstrators. But their maliced views of Israel are stoked by left leaning media that can only be described as anti-Semitic as well. (There is no difference between irrational anti-Israel attitudes – imbalanced reportage - and anti-Semitism.)

With it all, they’ve had help from the American secretary of state.  John Kerry had been advised by Israeli officials that we were attempting to do pinpoint operations that would minimize collateral damage.  After having done an interview, and when he mistakenly thought the mike was off, he said, “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.  A hell of a pinpoint operation. We’ve got to get over there [to push a ceasefire].”  See it here:

 http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/hot-mic-kerry-mocks-israel-hell-pinpoint-operation_796808.html

And so a pox on the houses of all those who judge us wrongly and all those who wish us ill.

In the end, we know who we are, and we must account only to Heaven.

~~~~~~~~~~

Because of who we are, my heart is also filled with pride. And when the anguish has dissolved, the pride will remain.  I could not be more proud to be an Israeli.  I could not be more proud of who the Israeli people are.  Very, very far from perfect, we are heads and shoulders above the rest of the world.

Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, bless him, says that: “...the Israeli Defense Forces should be given the Nobel Peace Prize… a Nobel Peace Prize for fighting with unimaginable restraint.”
 
Reminding his audience that the British had carpet bombed Germany after being attacked, he said, “I will not accept, and no one should accept, criticism of Israel for acting with restraint that has not been shown and would not be shown by any nation on earth. I especially will not tolerate criticism of my country at a time when Israeli soldiers are dying so that innocent Palestinians can live.” (All emphasis added)

“Israel did not have to send its soldiers into many of the places they are fighting today. We could have...bombed from the air all the buildings that were being used by fighters to store and fire weapons. But we didn’t. As we have done time after time, we are sending our soldiers into this hornet’s nest of Palestinian terror that is booby-trapped with mines and riddled with subterranean tunnels.”

 http://www.timesofisrael.com/dermer-idf-deserves-nobel-peace-prize-for-unimaginable-restraint/
 

~~~~~~~~~~

See some of the beautiful soldiers of the IDF (with thanks to Chana G):

http://youtu.be/4IkwXf18FcQ 

They sing of not being afraid, and of putting trust in Heaven. This video made me weep.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Here in Israel we have “lone soldiers.”  Young men who have come to Israel and joined the IDF, while their families are still abroad.  One such lone soldier died in battle the other day: Nissim Sean Carmeli, originally of South Padre Island, Texas. and more recently of Haifa.  The Maccabi soccer team of Haifa put out a call to its fans to attend his funeral “so that his funeral will not be empty.”  More than 12,000 people came.
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183181#.U86mgpvlrIV
 
This, my friends, is Israel with its largeness of heart.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
We have lost 27 soldiers to date in Gaza.
 
A couple of days ago, Hamas announced it had kidnapped a soldier in Gaza, but Israel denied this was the case. 
 
Also two days ago a Personnel Carrier in Gaza that was carrying seven soldiers ran over a device that exploded, causing a fire in the carrier.  The original announcement was that the seven had died.  Now we are being told that only six soldiers’ bodies have been positively identified.  I need not spell out the ugly and painful circumstances that have caused a delay in doing this identification. 
 
The one soldier whose remains have not been identified has now been identified as Oren Shaul, which is the person Hamas said it had kidnapped. 
 

Credit:IsraelMatzav

The very best information I have at this point is that while he must be listed MIA until his body is located and identified, the working assumption is that he is, indeed, dead. Hamas may have grabbed his body – although I have heard that the site was under surveillance after the grisly event.  Or, his dogtag may have been thrown a distance away in the explosion, and grabbed by Hamas.  It has been noted that Hamas, after the initial jubilant announcement, has not put up any video of him – which would have been expected for them to make their case.
 
~~~~~~~~~~

Now as to that “ceasefire” that various international agents are pushing.  Eventually, certainly. But it is not going to happen so fast, I’m pleased to report.  Consider some of the elements in play:

[]  Abbas went to Doha, Qatar to meet with head of the Hamas politburo Khaled Mashaal regarding a ceasefire.  Word was that Mashaal was agreeable and was going to come to Cairo to pursue matters further.  However, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas leader sitting directly in Gaza (and identified for some time now as more militant than Mashaal), says that his movement has decided to “end the blockade with its blood and weapons and there would be no return back.” 
 
In other words, he is holding out for a lifting of the naval blockade of Gaza, which is not going to happen.  He is also still demanding the release of the prisoners originally traded for Shalit who had been rearrested recently, something Israel is opposed to as well.

Commented Netanyahu to Sky News Arabic, “If Hamas really wants a cease-fire, I am sure that we can get to that, but they don’t want one.”

http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/US-UN-pushing-hard-for-immediate-cease-fire-368386
 
As long as Hamas is holding out, we keep fighting.  Terms that are mutually acceptable are going to be hard to come by.  Hamas wants a victory and Israel will not give it one.
 
~~~~~~~~~~

At the same time, Israel, having not yet done all that must be done, at a bare minimum, is not looking for a ceasefire anyway.
 
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon came calling in Jerusalem today. Israel, Netanyahu told him, will “act decisively to end the threat to its citizens.”  It’s time for the international community to hold Hamas responsible for its behavior:  “The international community must take a clear stance...
 
”I believe that you understand this, it is the right of every state to defend itself, and Israel will do what it needs to do to defend ourselves.

This is not only our right, this is our duty.”  (all emphasis added)

https://warsclerotic.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/netanyahu-rejects-cease-fire-ban-ki-moon-suports-israel/

The prime minister knows that the nation is solidly behind him if he stands strong in continuing to fight. This is a long post, and it’s impossible here for me to fully convey the sense of the Israeli public with regard to wanting the IDF to keep going.

~~~~~~~~~~

Lastly, we have this:
 
Kerry, who had declared, “we must get over there,” arrived in Cairo today.  Master diplomat that this deluded man perceives himself to be, he was coming to make sure that a ceasefire was put in place without delay.
 
But when Kerry and his top aides showed up for a meeting with Egyptian President Sisi – oops! - Egyptian security checked them with metal detectors. This is absolutely unheard of, as top American diplomats are routinely offered every courtesy.  Sisi has “dissed” the secretary of state. 
 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/22/kerry-security-check-egypt_n_5608923.html
 
This contempt from Sisi has been well earned by Kerry.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

 http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/7/22/july-22-2014-a-proud-and-anguished-heart.html

 

Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at 03:56PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 21, 2014: War Update

Today was a day on which I had planned to skip posting.  A busy day, starting with an event in the Knesset this morning (about which more in time). But I know I must write to update my readers, even if very briefly.
 
After I had written yesterday, news was released of 13 soldiers who died late Saturday night during the operation in Shejaia, near Gaza City.  They were all from the Golani Brigade.  Terribly painful news. Sad news, pulling at our entire nation.
 
http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Seven-Golani-soldiers-killed-in-Gaza-363528
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
The battle in which they died was the biggest of this war, and one in which the IDF accomplished a great deal with regard to identifying and destroying tunnels, locating rockets, etc.
 
Later in the day yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the nation, in order to offer comfort and strength (emphasis added):
 
The heart of the entire nation is with the families of the fallen. We feel your pain. We bow our head to your sons who fell so that we can continue living here. On behalf of the Government and the entire People of Israel, I would like to express the deep pain that we feel. We send our condolences to the parents, children, spouses and families of the IDF soldiers who have fallen in defense of the State of Israel.

“I would like to say to you that there is no war more just than that in which your sons and ours heroically fell. We will complete the mission that we have begun. We will restore quiet and security to the south, the center and the entire country.

“On behalf of all of you, citizens of Israel, I would like to send best wishes for a quick recovery to all the wounded soldiers. I believe that each one of us knows someone who is participating in the campaign, and mutual guarantee is also the secret of our strength. We must be strong in difficult days such as today as well as those that are likely to come. We are in a war for our home. Our forces are currently active in the field; they are operating professionally, with determination, great strength, great firepower and great strength of spirit.

“Soldiers of the IDF, I would like to tell you that the citizens of Israel are behind you and are praying for your welfare.

“To the dear families, I would like to say that I am aware of your concern, we all share it. We are doing our utmost to secure the lives of our citizens and of our soldiers.

“Israel did not choose to enter this campaign but from the moment it was forced on us, we will carry it out to achieve the goal of restoring quiet to Israel's citizens for a prolonged period while inflicting a significant blow on the infrastructures of Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza. We are not deterred and we will continue to act as necessary. The current operation is necessary to for the security of Israel's citizens...”
 
http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=64399
 
~~~~~~~~~~

The words of comfort are on the mark, appropriate and gracious.  His statement about the necessity of fighting this war is absolutely true.  Those who died, gave their lives with purpose.
 
And he speaks with strong determination.
 
It is difficult, however, to get a clear sense of the goals for this war from the words of the prime minister, or the minister of defense.  Not clear when the end of the ground operation will be declared or when the shelling by air and sea will stop. I would say this is how it should be, to keep the enemy off balance. There is talk about seeing through the operation to its end (whatever “end” means).  But Defense Minister also speaks about the days (two or three) necessary to eliminate the tunnels.
 
This is what I see now:
 
The wagons of “ceasefire” are circling and it will become more and more difficult to continue in the face of international pressure.  Kerry is due in Cairo tomorrow to work on a ceasefire plan.  (Not that Kerry matters.)  Ban Ki Moon is making noises about how excessive our operation is.  (Not that Ban Ki Moon matters).  But more difficult.
 
Under no circumstances do I see us withdrawing from the ground in Gaza until we are satisfied we have done what we need to do with the tunnels.  That job is not done yet.  Just this morning 10 terrorists attempted again to infiltrate inside Israel, using two different tunnels. They were taken out because of a Shin Bet warning.
 
This risk has to be eliminated or Israelis will live forever on the edge, with terrorist murders and kidnappings not uncommon.
 
Will every single tunnel be identified and eliminated? There is such a network of those tunnels, that this is difficult to say. But every attempt is being made, and in particular with regard to the tunnels that go into Israel or head in that direction.  They really need to be eliminated.
 
It is this that is estimated to require another two or three days of intensive effort by our troops.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Will we continue beyond that time that is essential regarding the tunnels?  I would guess that it depends on the military and diplomatic situation. 
 
We have at this point eliminated at least 50% if not more of Hamas’s rocket supply – and will, of course, continue to take out more in the days ahead (remember, there are rockets stored in the tunnels, as well as elsewhere).  But there is no way that it will be possible to have eliminated every rocket.  This is especially so as rockets are hidden in civilian areas – in schools and mosques. What we will have done, at a minimum, is strike a blow that will serve as a long time deterrent to this terrorist group, which have been seriously depleted and demoralized.  Then it remains to be seen what sort of ceasefire is negotiated.  Netanyahu has in mind some sort of confiscation of the rockets by the international community.  I am not going to discuss that here.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I know there are those (and some of my readers among them) who think we should “go all the way”: taking down Hamas and taking over Gaza.  Maybe it will happen – and from a purely emotional perspective it seems great - but I tend to doubt it. What is more, I am not sure it would be a good thing.  A seriously weakened Hamas might be the better option right now.
 
There are several factors to remember:
 
[] There are jihadists even more radical and vicious than Hamas, such as al-Qaeda, in Gaza.  To eliminate Hamas would be to make room for them.  This is a critical factor that must not be discounted.
 
[] To literally take over Gaza lock, stock and barrel is to assume an incredible burden, and at a great cost.  It talks easy from an arm chair.  It would not be easy.
 
[] To become enmeshed in handling a long term operation and then management of Gaza might be unwise considering that our military must focus on multiple fronts. Remember that Hezbollah is at our north, as are jihadists in Syria at the border of the Golan.  We will undoubtedly have other battles to fight.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
One last matter: As I have mentioned before, Hamas is trying desperately, in its last gasp, to score a “victory.” This is why we are seeing all of those incursions into Israel now.
 
Last night they tried something else as well: They put out a story that they had kidnapped an Israeli soldier in Gaza – a horrible prospect. Turns out that this is not true.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Please, share this video that shows how the Israeli military operates:
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j16xIxZdqgg&list=UUawNWlihdgaycQpO3zi-jYg&index=10
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/7/21/july-21-2014-war-update.html

 

Posted on Monday, July 21, 2014 at 05:06PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 20, 2014: Who Is Like Our Nation?

The question is rhetorical. For there is no nation like Israel. 
 
Said Prime Minister Netanyahu on Friday (emphasis added):

“I have met with the commanders who are leading the IDF operation, uncommonly brave, determined and motivated commanders, with strong values. I am impressed by the motivation of our soldiers, both conscripts and reservists, and their desire to take part in the campaign. They understand that their mission is to defend Israel’s citizens.”

“Our fighters all know that they are fighting for the most just of goals – the defense of our shared home.”

http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/07/18/netanyahu-says-international-coalition-supporting-israel-to-take-systematic-and-strong-action-against-hamas/

~~~~~~~~~~

Meet here one uncommonly brave commander with strong values:

Col. Rassan Alian, a Golani Brigade battalion commander, was moderately injured last night when he was hit by shrapnel.  Doctors where he was hospitalized insisted it wasn’t time for him to leave the hospital yet. But the colonel objected: "I have a lot of soldiers over there and I need to get back to them."

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4546862,00.html

Col. Alian is not some extraordinary exception.  He represents a norm for Israeli commanders.

~~~~~~~~~~

Overnight, our operations in Gaza increased further.  That this should be necessary at all is painful, but since it IS necessary, it is possible to view the new clear-eyed determination of our political and military echelon with great satisfaction and relief.  This time we are going to do what needs to be done.

Credit: Yossi Aloni/Flash90
 
What Netanyahu also said was: The IDF is a moral military without peer; it does not aspire to harm any innocent person. We are operating only against terrorist targets and we regret any inadvertent civilian casualties.
 
http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/248444/video-pm-netanyahus-remarks-at-the-start-of-the-special-cabinet-meeting.html
 
Continue reading for more on how Israel conducts herself.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Also overnight, in the course battle in Gaza, we have lost two more soldiers:
 
Staff Sergeant Bania Roval, a 20-year-old soldier from Holon, serving in the Paratroopers 101st Battalion, and Second-Lt. Bar Rahav, 21, from Ramat Yishai, from the Engineering Corps.  They were killed in separate actions.  Israel mourns every death.

 

Credit: TimesofIsrael
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
A major operation conducted today was against the neighborhood of Shejaia, which had been identified as a main focus of terrorist activity in Gaza.  In the course of the fighting some 40 to 50 Arabs were killed.  The IDF reminded everyone that warnings had been sent out two days ago asking civilians to please leave. These were ignored – or, Hamas advised people to ignore them. At any rate, it was only after the shelling – which has been very heavy – started that people suddenly decided it was essential to leave immediately.
 
 Palestinians flee their homes in Gaza's eastern Shejaia district on July 20, 2014, after heavy Israeli shelling that left casualties lying in the streets. MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images) 

Credit: AFP/Getty
 
It should be noted that ten tunnels were found in this operation.
 
Among the dead were family members of Hamas leader Khalil al-Haya.
 
What happened subsequently – precise media reports vary – is that Hamas asked for a humanitarian ceasefire so the dead and wounded could be evacuated and civilians would have a chance to leave.  The Red Cross intervened, Israel agreed, and a two-hour ceasefire was set – with the proviso that if Hamas broke it, Israel would not hold fire.
 
It took forty minutes for Hamas – who was said to have wanted this ceasefire – to again start shooting at Israel. Israel returned fire, but then, in spite of this, agreed to once more hold fire and even extend the ceasefire by an additional hour, for those humanitarian reasons.
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4546861,00.html
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Are we crazy to do this?  I am sure some think we are.  From where I sit, this sort of humanitarian gesture is fine, AS LONG AS WE PROCEED to pummel Hamas – and don’t pull back in the face of casualties inflicted on the enemy. 
 
We are fighting two sides of the same war: the military and the public relations.  There are major anti-Israel demonstrations in a host of countries because we are so “vicious.”  If this humanitarian gesture gives people a different view of Israel (a somewhat dubious proposition) that is to the good. 
 
And, in terms of humanitarian gestures, there’s even more.  (This indeed seems certifiably nuts.)  The IDF is setting up a field hospital at the Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza:  It is for women and children from Gaza, and includes a delivery room.
 
http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/IDF-sets-up-field-hospital-at-Erez-border-crossing-for-injured-Palestinians-363541
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
What must be remembered here is that we are fighting a defensive war that is entirely justified as our civilians are being targeted. In wars, no matter the precautions, innocents are casualties.  In every war this has been so.  No one can legitimately point a finger – but the world loves to accuse Israel.
 
The ceasefire pressure is going to increase.  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is going to meet with Abbas. And Kerry is coming to the area. How did we get so lucky?
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Remember the 20 rockets found in an UNRWA school that UNRWA officials say they knew nothing about?  Well. Israeli officials are objecting to the fact that UNRWA has now turned those rockets over to Hamas.
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/un-agency-handed-rockets-back-to-hamas-israel-says/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/7/20/july-20-2014-who-is-like-our-nation.html

 

 

Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2014 at 03:57PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 19, 2014: Keep Going, Keep Going!

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)
 
I mentioned in my last post the intention to return to the issue of ceasefires, and I will do so below.  But I begin by noting that my greatest fear in this very necessary war we are waging now is that it should be terminated prematurely because of pressure for a ceasefire.  Yet, in spite of that persistent unease, I think not. It’s simply too blatantly clear that we must do now what should have been done years ago. 
 
We lost two soldiers today.  But not in combat inside of Gaza. IDF reserve officer, Col. Amotz Greenberg, 45, of Hod Hasharon, and Sgt. Adar Bersano, 20, of Nahariya, were killed when a terrorist squad infiltrated from Gaza into Israel through a tunnel.  
 
קצין וחייל נהרגו

Credit: Israel National News courtesy of the families
 
There were eight or nine terrorists, according to reports, who encountered a motorized IDF force on exiting the tunnel.  In the battle that ensued, the two soldiers were killed. One of the terrorists was shot dead, while the remainder went back into the tunnel.  They carried anesthetics and handcuffs with them, as well as arms, which meant they were going to attempt a kidnapping.
 
This, of course, simply reinforces the conviction that we have a great deal of work to do in Gaza.  The IDF has identified some 36 tunnels, five of which go into Israel.  Intensive work is being done to dismantle them, and to continue to seek out others that still exist.  I’ve picked up a couple of reports regarding plans to dig a trench that would disable tunnels near the Gaza-Israel border, i.e., those that could lead into Israel.  I’ll follow with more on this in due course.
 
Now there is talk that the operation will be stepped up further, and this is as it should be.  We need to hit hard, as quickly as possible. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Dismantling the tunnels, while high on the IDF agenda, is not all that must be accomplished.  Today, some 95 rockets were launched at Israel, and the south is still taking a beating. The IDF is now saying that about half of Hamas’s supply of 10,000 weapons is gone: Some 17% has been launched, while we have either hit or otherwise destroyed 30% to 40%.  But that leaves 5,000 rockets still in Hamas hands.
 
And so, along with the ground assault, we are continuing to hit hard from the air and by sea.
 
http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Israel-says-Gaza-has-used-up-or-lost-half-its-rockets-363478
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
This whole issue of all that must still be done allows me to segue directly into a report on what the State Department has had to say in the last couple of days. 
 
On Thursday, Kerry said that he “reaffirmed” our right to defend ourselves against attacks from tunnels (nice of him) but called for the ground incursion to be restricted to a precise operation against the tunnels.  In other words, we do not have a right to defend ourselves against rockets shot against our civilian population by removing caches of rockets and destroying launchers.
 
Kerry “emphasized the need to avoid further escalation and to restore the 2012 ceasefire as soon as possible.”  I would simply brush this off with the greatest of contempt, but I believe there are points that have to be made here:  The US secretary of state is working for the other side.  He would save Hamas’s collective neck here.
 
On Wednesday, four children playing near a pier on the Gaza beach were killed by Israeli fire.  Israeli officials immediately termed the incident “tragic” and let it be known that the children were near a Hamas installation that the Air Force was firing on.  One might ask (should ask) why there were children playing in the open near a Hamas installation in the middle of a war. Why (this is rhetorical) they were not in shelters, the way Israeli children are.
 
State Department spokesperson Jan Psaki told reporters that the US was “asking for a redoubling of efforts moving forward to prevent civilian casualties given the events of the past couple days.”
 
What is more, she shared the information that in a phone call to Netanyahu, Kerry had said, “We believe there is more that can be done” to protect civilians.  (Emphasis added)
 
This said to the head of state of the nation that is doing more than any nation in the world has ever done to protect the lives of civilians during a war. This is beneath contempt, and I say again that he is working for the other side and happy to give us bad press.
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-restrict-gaza-operation-to-precise-action-against-tunnels/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Now as to ceasefire issues. First, we are not returning to the 2012 ceasefire. That is what left Hamas arms intact.  If and when a ceasefire is negotiated, finally, it would have to be a different kind all together.
 
Three nations are vying for involvement in mediating that ceasefire (let it be many days away!): Egypt, Turkey, and Qatar.  This is not only because this role allows a nation to accrue prestige within the Muslim world  - we’re looking at a power issue. Israel wants only Egypt involved because of inherently anti-Israel positions emanating from Turkey and Qatar.  What must be noted here is that the US is promoting involvement by Qatar. 
 
The US is saying that it’s time to bring in another party, since Egypt is not having success.  This is likely because Egypt is not running rings around Hamas (more on this below). While Sisi, president of Egypt, considers the Brotherhood an enemy, Qatar is blatantly supportive of Muslim Brotherhood. And Hamas is a spin-off of the Brotherhood.   
 
So what’s with the US?
 
What is being exposed here – hardly for the first time – is a predisposition by the Obama administration to support Muslim Brotherhood.   I remind my readers that when Obama delivered his very first international address, in Cairo, he invited members of the Muslim Brotherhood to attend, and Mubarak was so incensed he boycotted the talk.  When Morsi – of the Brotherhood - was being overturned, the US was supportive of him.
 
Thus, all efforts by the US to be involved here must be viewed as suspect.  The US has just signed an $ 11 billion arms deal with Qatar.
 
http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2014/07/19/Qatar-Releases-Hamas-friendly-Ceasefire-Offer
 
~~~~~~~~~~     
 
I confess – and I am certainly not alone here – that I abhor the notion of a “ceasefire agreement” that includes any demands from Hamas to which we will have acceded.  The thought of it makes me rip-roaring furious. They’ve been launching rockets at our civilian population, and each rocket launched is a war crime.  So we should give these terrorists something that they are demanding in return for their ceasing their war crimes? 
 
In the past several days, a number of their “demands” have made the press.  Broadly speaking the focus is first on the release of terrorists from our prisons – specifically those released in the trade for Gilad Shalit and recently rearrested. And then on opening the borders of Gaza, via opening of crossings into Gaza from Israel and, via Rafah, from the Sinai.  There has been talk of international guarantees, so that the crossings could never be closed again – a proposal that did not exactly catch Egypt’s fancy. But there have been other demands as well, such as securing permission for the people of Gaza to pray on the Temple Mount – which was rejected out of hand by Israel, as was the idea of a prisoner release.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Earlier this past week one ceasefire proposal put forth by Hamas actually had me laughing.  They suggested a ten year cease fire, if we would fully lift the blockade of Gaza at sea.  On the face of it, both aspects of this proposal are ridiculous.  A ceasefire with an end: In ten years and one day they can, per agreement, start launching rockets again.  Of course, they’d have about half a million cutting edge rockets by then, because they would have been bringing them in by sea for ten years.
 
Yea. Right. They cannot think us that stupid.  They’re playing games.
 
But wait!  This is quintessentially Muslim.  It was a Hudna – a temporary period of quiet – they were offering, which in truth is all they offer.  And it was modeled right after the Treaty of Hudaibiya, which was negotiated by their prophet. In 623 CE, Muhammad made a ten-year peace pact with the Quraysh tribe, which controlled Mecca.  After two  years, he saw that his strength had increased sufficiently to move on Mecca. And so he devised a pretext for attacking the Quraysh, who had their guard down because, after all, they had a treaty with Muhammad’s people.  He defeated them and took Mecca.  This sequence of events is so thoroughly engraved in Muslim consciousness that even Arafat referred to it after signing at Oslo (which tells us what Oslo was worth from the start).
 
So that’s the other factor: a ten year ceasefire would not last ten years.  Or, put differently, Hamas would break any deal it signed as it was to its benefit to do so.  This is something that should never be forgotten.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Originally, Netanyahu has been talking about disarming Hamas, with international support, as part of any ceasefire agreement. I would have much to say about this, but will bide my time now.  If we do what needs to be done in Gaza, this issue may become moot.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Mentioned in closing here (with more to follow on this): Abbas is also seeking to be involved in ceasefire negotiations. To that end he will be meeting with Hamas’s politburo here Khaled Mashaal.  And where is Mashaal quartered for many years now?  In Doha, Qatar.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
A correction: The video I shared last time that showed little children being given a demonstration of rocket launchings may have come from Syria and not Gaza.  (With thanks to Bennett R. for this alert.)
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/7/20/july-19-2014-keep-going-keep-going.html

 

Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2014 at 03:58AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 17, 2014: Ground Invasion into Gaza Begun

It is very very necessary, this invasion – which has been ordered by Prime Minister Netanyahu. 


Credit: TimesofIsrael

~~~~~~~~~~

So let’s stop here for a prayer for the thousands of Israel’s soldiers who are now inside Gaza. 

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/15289#.U8g8IZvlrIW

“He Who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob -- may He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Forces...
 
“May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighters from every trouble and distress...and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.”

Amen v’amen!

~~~~~~~~~~~

I just heard an interview with Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan and an enormous friend of Israel.  He was down at the border of Gaza before the incursion began, he reported, and what he can say is that the troops are superbly prepared for this operation.  In fact, he said, there is no fighting force in the world that could do it better.

The troops, sitting at the border for many days, have been eager to go in.

See this article:

“...history shows Hamas is awful at killing IDF troops on the move.”


http://www.timesofisrael.com/whos-afraid-of-boots-on-the-ground-in-gaza/

~~~~~~~~~~

The operation is being led by the IDF's Southern Command, and will see close coordination between various IDF units: infantry, armored corps, engineer corps, artillery, and intelligence. They are, of course, supported by the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) and other intelligence organizations.  Israeli intelligence in Gaza is excellent and is critically important.

There was heavy aerial bombardment before the ground invasion began; the ground troops will continue to be supported by attacks from the air and the sea.

The troops went in under cover of night and in many areas there were blackouts.  Except for flares, there was little that could be seen. 

Lighting flares over Gaza

Credit: Reuters

~~~~~~~~~~

The prime minister made it clear in his announcement that the initial goal of the invasion is taking out terror tunnels.

The need for this has been evident for some time, but it was likely something that happened this morning that made action inevitable:

A Hamas tunnel that opened 250 meters inside of Israel, near Kibbutz Sufa, was utilized by 13 terrorists with full intent to launch a massacre.  They carried with them heavy weapons - 15 anti-tank weapons and Kalashnikovs - with an enormous amount of ammunition.  The blood runs cold at the thought of what they would have done, if Israeli army and security had not spotted the tunnel.  Extensive forces were waiting for the terrorists when they tried to exit.  One was reportedly killed, at least some turned back.

~~~~~~~~~~

What became apparent then was that no ceasefire, no matter the terms, would keep our people safe from terror attacks if these tunnels were left intact.

The purpose of that particular attempted massacre was very clear: Hamas was looking for a “victory” before ending the war.  Now they will pay.

There is a whole city of very sophisticated tunnels under Gaza.  They have electricity and air conditioning. And walls that are covered with tons of concrete.  (Note: the “poor” people of Gaza have cried because Israel has limited the amount of concrete brought into Gaza for building their homes, and here you have it.) 

 

Credit: ElderofZiyon

Our soldiers will not seek all of the tunnels, we are being told, but will focus on those that are within two or three kilometers of the border with Israel. 

But from what I am reading, there are a number of different sorts of actions taking place in the central, southern and northern sections of Gaza. The operation is likely to expand beyond the stated goal of dismantling tunnels.  Eighteen-thousand more troops have now been called up, and the larger goal of significantly weakening Hamas has been put on the agenda.

~~~~~~~~~~

What we are learning now is that the Security Cabinet had approved this ground operation two days ago, when it was apparent that Hamas was not going to cooperate in a ceasefire.  This is a signal lesson for us all, I think, in terms of what goes on that we, in the main, are not aware of.  This is how it is supposed to be done: with an element of surprise.

Today was a difficult day in many respects. This was, in part, with regard to false rumors of a ceasefire agreement that had been successfully negotiated (disinformation?).  I had intended to write about it, and the broader issue of ceasefires with Hamas, but the ground incursion has trumped this reporting. Hopefully I will return to it.  There are significant matters to be discussed regarding Egypt’s involvement, the desire of Qatar and Turkey to be involved, and the position of the Obama administration.  And much more.

We did have a five hour ceasefire today that had been requested by the UN so that humanitarian goods could be brought into Gaza.  We honored this; Hamas was supposed to, but did launch some rockets during that interval of time.  Once the ceasefire was over, Hamas immediately began launching a heavy barrage of rockets – with 50 in the subsequent four hours, and 100 during the course of the day.  This was one of the heaviest bombardments of the 10-day war, and surely helped move Netanyahu in the direction of ordering the troops in on the ground, as well.

~~~~~~~~~~

There is a broad consensus among commentators that we have an extraordinary window of opportunity for doing this operation now. There is even the tragedy of the Malaysian airplane that was shot down - it is occupying the media, which would normally be focused on every step our soldiers take.  Additionally, Netanyahu is in a superb place with regard to international approval because of his willingness to go with a ceasefire.  Amazingly, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry came out with a strong criticism of Hamas, saying it could have saved many lives if it had agreed to a ceasefire.  Deaths yet to come will be the fault of Hamas, he suggested.

What we must do however, is move quickly, as this honeymoon is no likely to last. 

~~~~~~~~~~

To strengthen your sense of what is going on in Gaza, and what the ruthless enemy we face is like, I provide the following links.  Please, use them extensively. The more people “get it,” the better:

UNRWA found 20 rockets stored in one of its school buildings. As you can imagine, they have no idea how they got there.  I have clear memories, from the days when I was investigating UNRWA, of terrorist equipment and even terrorists hidden inside UNRWA property.  But I guess they didn’t know about any of it:

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183016#.U8hcRZvlrIV

~~~~~~~~~~

Ruthless manipulation of the people of Gaza by Hamas, which is praising the “martyrs” who stay in their homes even when the IDF warns them to leave to avoid danger:

“’Our mighty people presented a unique example of steadfastness and perseverance and are not affected or fearful from the psychological warfare of the Occupation,’ Hamas boasted. ‘They did not respond to calls from the Occupation to leave their homes – they stayed there and did not abandon them.’”
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183018#.U8hfDJvlrIV

~~~~~~~~~~

And then a horrible look at how their kids are influenced (appreciate it, Barbara):

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152558633733398&set=vb.806093397&type=2&theater

~~~~~~~~~~

Shabbat does approach, and I do not know that I will be able to post again before its advent.  I will post as I can – and as the situation requires it - in the days ahead.

~~~~~~~~~~
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/7/17/july-17-2014-ground-invasion-into-gaza-begun.html

 

Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 08:21PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 15, 2014: PHEW!

What a rollercoaster ride the last 24 hours has been with regard to our war with Hamas. 

Yesterday Egypt announced a proposal for a ceasefire: Both sides would stop firing, and then in 48 hours parties would convene in Cairo and – via an intermediary – discuss terms for a more permanent truce.  Kerry was said to be coming to Cairo to participate.

This really did not have a good feel to it, and there was anxiety in several quarters here regarding what appeared to be pending capitulation by our prime minister.  For word had come out that he was favoring acceptance of this proposal.  Was he going to say that we had done enough, and that it was now time for ‘quiet for quiet’? 

For the bottom line is that we have not done enough – I don’t care what Defense Minister Ya’alon says.  Yes, there are ways in which Hamas has taken a real beating. But I’m picking up on reports that indicate that the key leaders, sitting in their underground tunnels, are alive and well and would be ready to pick up the fight again in no time.  Similarly, because of the tunnels and the use of human shields, a large portion of the rockets remains intact and ready for future use.  One source said we’ve destroyed one-third of their rockets.  Ya’akov Amidror – who is a straight talker – says they have retained 90% of their high quality rockets. 

No, it hardly time seemed like time to call it quits if there is serious intent to make sure that Hamas does not come back at us again in two years or three. Or four or five. 

Of course, there was always the question of what Netanyahu would demand at those truce negotiations. But yet...but yet...

~~~~~~~~~~

This morning the prime minister called a 7:00 AM meeting of the eight-person Security Cabinet to discuss the Egyptian proposal.  Word came out that they had decided to accept the proposal.  Only Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman were opposed, and they were both furious.  Hearts dropped, stomachs tightened, all over Israel. This looked like caving, a disastrous show of weakness.  My own depression (and yes, I know what depression is) was heavy.

At 9:00 AM we stopped all attacks on Gaza. 

~~~~~~~~~~

But Hamas, adamantly and defiantly refusing the Egyptian proposal, kept right on firing rockets at us – at least 50 in the next six hours. 

Credit: Yonaton Sindel/Flash90

Hamas would have had trouble accepting the ceasefire because they had not achieved any significant “victories.”  With their honor-shame mental-set, it would have been near impossible to do.  Especially as they did not anticipate any major victory in the negotiations – no Gaza blockade lifted, no Hamas prisoners released. Their leaders actually complained about this: How can we stop when there is nothing indicated about what terms would be?  All that was discussed was a readiness by Israel to open crossings to let additional supplies in.

It took six hours.  At 3:00 PM, Netanyahu said, “That’s it!”  He ordered attacks on Gaza to begin again, and about half an hour later they started.

~~~~~~~~~~

Well now...we were suddenly seeing something different.  And perhaps quite brilliant.

Netanyahu had been seeing the growing criticism of Israel around the world.  The scum in Hamas, by encouraging human shields, had upped the casualties and secured multiple PR opportunities for talking about how Israel hits innocent children.  (See more about this below.)  In multiple quarters, there were anti-Israel voices being raised. Forgotten is the fact that Hamas started firing those rockets first.  Or that we abort sorties to save children.

Our prime minister (and the Cabinet?) likely saw that carrying through a major operation would have been increasingly problematic because of large scale international criticism.  The dynamic needed to be changed.

And this undoubtedly changed it.  The situation was structured so that Netanyahu became a seeker of peace, the person willing to stop shooting.  And Hamas was the party that sought violence even in the face of quiet.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Credit: Oliver Fitoussi

This is what Netanyahu said at a press conference earlier today with the German foreign minister (emphasis added):

"...the refusal of Hamas to honor the ceasefire "gives Israel full legitimacy to expand the operation to protect our people.

"We agreed to the Egyptian proposal in order to give an opportunity for the demilitarization of the Strip - from missiles, from rockets and from tunnels - through diplomatic means.

“But if Hamas does not accept the ceasefire proposal, as would now seem to be the case, Israel would have all international legitimacy to broaden the military operation to achieve the required quiet."

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4543685,00.html

~~~~~~~~~~

John Kerry had cancelled his trip to Cairo, because there were not going to be any ceasefire negotiations after all. From Vienna, he said (emphasis added):

"I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas in so brazenly firing rockets in multiple numbers in the face of a goodwill effort to offer a ceasefire, in which Egypt and Israel worked together, that the international community strongly supports.

Hamas is "purposely playing politics" by continuing the rocket fire, using innocents as "human shields... against the laws of war.  And that is why they are a terrorist organization."
 
http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Kerry-cancels-trip-to-Cairo-relying-on-Egyptian-brokered-ceasefire-instead-362853

How about that?  He cannot tell us to use “restraint” now, can he?

~~~~~~~~~~

I’m going to stick my neck out here, with pure speculation, colored by a bit of intuition.  (No one has let me in on any secrets.)  I think it possible that Egypt was complicit in setting up a situation that cornered Hamas.  I think this did not just “happen.”  I’ve provided evidence in recent days of an Egyptian desire to have Israel take out Hamas.  Their role in the current scenario has helped to make it more possible.

~~~~~~~~~~

How far will Israel now go towards taking Hamas out?  This remains to be seen.  Still tonight, I hold my breath, as I wait to see what unfolds.  The nation is so weary of this, and so eager to be done with Hamas.

We are being told there is a long operation likely ahead of us, and that what must be done will be done. But this tells us nothing.  The prime minister says the war will intensify.  Lieberman is pushing for us to take over Gaza.

YNet quotes an unnamed “senior military official,” who said:

“A ground offensive could help combat the many tunnels in the Strip, where the Air Force is not effective...
 
"Our recommendations to the political leadership were clear on this issue. A ground maneuver to destroy the tunnels will take somewhere between a week and two weeks, and the troops deployed to the border are trained for this and prepared for this. There is a small but significant amount of tunnels that we've yet to expose, and they're targets in this maneuver.

[A ground offensive against the terror tunnels] "has high chances of being successful. It will require confrontation with the enemy and the evacuation of civilians, and will lead to the increase of rocket launching at Israel, but we trust the troops. The solutions will come from the fighting forces on the field, from the bottom, not just from the army command."

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4543811,00.html

I will add here that trusting the troops with solutions from the bottom is very Israeli.

~~~~~~~~~~

Data of note:

In a report it just released, CAMERA has revealed Israel has killed “mainly combatant-age males, not women or children”:  a close read of the data “shows that, as in past hostilities, the fatalities are disproportionately [compared to the overall population] among young males, which corresponds with the characteristics of combatants. Males over 40 years old are also disproportionately represented. Some of the fatalities in those over 40 years of age likely represent senior members of terrorist organizations.”

This contradicts “media reports that tried to paint Israel’s Operation Protective Edge as indiscriminately killing civilians.”

http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/07/15/watchdog-al-jazeeras-gaza-fatalities-data-indicates-israel-killed-mostly-combatant-age-males-not-women-or-children/

~~~~~~~~~~

Keep praying for our soldiers, please!  And for all of Israel.

~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/7/15/july-15-2014-phew.html

 

Posted on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 05:03PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint
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