Current Postings

August 26, 2014: Worse and Worser

The truth: There is no entirely satisfactory resolution to our war with Hamas (the war that is not called a war). 
 
Aside, of course, from that “ultimate” resolution in which we would fully retake Gaza and banish all terrorists and jihadis - thereby creating a peaceful situation in Gaza and a situation of deterrence with regard to terrorists in other locales – and then rebuild Gush Katif, helping the former residents to return. 
 
Certainly I am among those who dream of such a thing.   And I do believe in the importance of dreams.  I know that there would be no Israel without dreams and the courage to act upon them. 
 
But I also know that this vision is not about to be realized. There are a variety of factors that are arrayed against us and render this scenario severely problematic. I’ve covered them before:
 
[] The fact of the network of tunnels means we would pay a large price in the lives of our young soldiers – a price that would be difficult for the nation to bear.  That is not to say our dedicated young soldiers would not go with willingness, for they would – bless them for their dedication and for long life.  But many deaths would have a corrosive effective upon the morale of the nation and would cause serious doubts to be raised about the operation.
 
[] The expense of this war, which would be prolonged, and of then assuming responsibility for the Arabs in Gaza who would remain would create a tremendous fiscal drain on the nation that many would consider unacceptable.
 
[] As soon as Hamas and related jihadi groups were banished, there would be an incredible international push for Abbas and his “moderate” cohorts to control Gaza as a step towards a Palestinian state.  (More on this below.)  There are a host of international problems associated with this.
 
[]  Perhaps most significantly, the drain on our military resources might render us ill-equipped to do battle with Hezbollah in Lebanon and radicals in Syria who are at our border in the Golan, should this become necessary.  Yes, I just wrote, above, that were we to banish radicals from Gaza, we would have great deterrence power.  But what if, while we were in the course of fighting that extended war in Gaza, Hezbollah decided that it would be a great time to attack us from the northern front?  It could be that we need a certain portion of our forces and equipment kept at the ready for other attacks and that IDF planners are reluctant to become too enmeshed in Gaza right now. And here I didn’t even mention Iran.
 
And so we must resign ourselves to something less.
 
~~~~~~~~~~

Some of my readers have written to me to tell me what the Israeli government “must” or “should” do.  They learned that I was sometimes less than receptive to this.  For I believe there are many extenuating factors that make it difficult if not impossible for someone from the outside to judge precisely what “must” or “should” be done.  In responding to critics, I have tried to give the government reasonable latitude – understanding that there is always much that is going on under the surface.
 
What I had wanted to consider today were possible resolutions in real terms that took into account a variety of different and often painful factors – part-way or not totally satisfactory resolutions, but resolutions that might be considered a gain nonetheless. 
 
HOWEVER... we seem to be caught now in a situation that is very far from satisfactory resolution.  Too far.
 
From my perspective there had to be certain parameters to any resolution: Hamas should not be rewarded for its attack on Israel.  It should not receive something as enticement to get it to stop firing upon us.  It should be sufficiently vanquished so that it would petition us for a respite.  (“Sufficiently vanquished” does not mean finally defeated.)
 
Most importantly, Israel must (now I use that word) convey strength.  And Hamas must be prevented from re-arming (leave aside the question of whether it would have to  surrender the rockets it currently has).
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Just hours ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted a ceasefire as proposed by Egypt, which went into effect at 7 PM Israel time.  All of its parameters are not yet known, and so I will have to return to this. But I have searched my sources of information and have yet to discover anything about this that conveys Israel’s strength. 
 
Thus – while I am prepared to learn more - I find this very disturbing.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
In a nutshell now: The ceasefire, accepted also by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, is for a month.  At the end of the month, negotiations would begin on the demands of each side: from our side, demilitarization of Hamas; from the Hamas side, lifting of the blockade of Gaza, building of a seaport and airport, release of prisoners, etc.  
 
This ceasefire, then, is another temporary one, albeit for a longer period of time.  It is not permanent, and in point of fact is likely to fall apart once the difficult issues are approached.  What would happen then is that Hamas – which would have had a month to regroup and manufacture more rockets - would begin to launch rockets again.  And where does a month leave us? Right at the time of our High Holidays.
 
Oh great.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
At this time, the restrictions for Gaza fishermen will be relaxed, with the limit being extended to six nautical miles. And apparently two crossings will be opened under Israeli supervision to allow in humanitarian supplies and building supplies for reconstruction.  (What kind of materials?)  It is entirely unclear what sort of supervision there would be inside of Gaza to make certain that the materials were used appropriately or who would oversee the reconstruction.  What would UNRWA’s role be?
 
I am not finding anything definitive in terms of the PA role, which might include oversight of reconstruction.  Certainly there had been much made previously of anticipated PA supervision at crossings, and I do believe that Egypt has already consented to PA supervision at the Rafah crossing into Egypt. 
 
A statement was made recently by a representative of the EU, who said that the EU wanted to be involved.  How? They would supervise the PA to be sure it was doing the job it was supposed to do at the crossings. That’s reassuring, is it not?
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
It should be noted here that Netanyahu approved the ceasefire without allowing a vote in the Security Cabinet, even though Naftali Bennett had requested one. Clearly, the prime minister had unease about whether the Cabinet would approve this move.  This action, while unpalatable, was legal. 
 
Netanyahu had been doing very well in polls of the Israeli electorate until this week, when his approval rating dropped some 17%, to 38%.  I anticipate considerable distress within the government, the Knesset and the electorate in the wake of Netanyahu’s current decision.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
One source I encountered now said that in a month Israel would resume negotiations with the PA. That this was going to be pushed on us is no surprise, but I believe this is still a projection for down the road – not a statement of Israel’s commitment at present.
 
I think of everything I find this prospect most offensive.  Abbas is the good buddy of Hamas’s Mashaal.  Representatives of Fatah sat at the negotiations during ceasefires with Hamas, and spoke for Hamas.  Abbas has never renounced the “unity government.”  Yet we are supposed to consider the PA “moderate,” a partner for peace.  This is the sort of stuff that drives me to consider running my head into the wall.
 
Retired US general John Allen came to town last night to meet with Israeli officials regarding the renewal of peace talks after there is a ceasefire. 

http://www.timesofisrael.com/top-us-general-in-israel-for-post-ceasefire-talks/
 
Who knows what message Allen conveyed from Obama to Netanyahu and how this played into Netanyahu’s decision to accept the ceasefire proposal.
 
Gen. Allen was the one who came here to design a “security plan” for the Jordan Valley that was supposed to advance our negotiations with the PA some months ago; Israel rejected his ideas.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Israeli officials are pointing out how badly damaged Hamas is as a result of the fighting. This is certainly the case, but what happened is that Hamas, with its back to the wall, adamantly refused to stop launching those rockets.  The entire scenario continued far longer than Israeli military had anticipated it would – we were entering a war of attrition, which is something Israel wanted to avoid – especially as residents of the south had left their homes and were demanding quiet.  
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
 
© 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/2014/8/26/august-26-2014-worse-and-worser.html

 

Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 05:07PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 23, 2014: The Ikar

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)
 
“The Ikar” (the essence of the matter)
 
Tomorrow night my eldest granddaughter goes off with her class to Poland for a week, to visit death camps and related sites.  In Israel doing this is a rite of passage.  She and her 12th grade classmates have been exceedingly well prepared.  I was with her for Shabbat, and I told her that I will wait, once she returns, for her to let me know she is ready to speak with me about her experience.  She thanked me for this, saying that she suspects in the beginning she will be so filled with powerful emotions that there will not yet be any way for her to speak about them.
 
So, why put these kids through this?
 
Because it IS the ikar, and never has this fact been more clear.  We’re looking at an existential issue for Jews, and not “just” history.  The year 2014 is shaping up more and more like 1938, as anti-Semitism - including in its violent manifestations - becomes more “acceptable.”
 
But there is one stunning and essential difference: Today there is an Israel.  
 
Would that every young Jew in the world would grasp this reality.  But what matters most is that young Israelis comprehend it.  And they do. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Commentator Michael Freund touched me deeply when he wrote recently about his son’s army service, in “The holiness of the IDF uniform.”  In this meditative essay, he described his brief moment of panic, when he realized that his son, who was about to serve in the IDF, might have been going to college in the US instead, had his family not made aliyah when he was one year old.
 
But then, very quickly, he saw an overwhelmingly significant reality about the IDF uniform and what it represents (emphasis added):      

                    
“It is a piece of Jewish history, an item that countless Jews for the past 2,000 years could only dream of: A Jewish uniform that belongs to a Jewish army tasked with defending Jews in their own land.

What could possibly be more holy?”

http://www.michaelfreund.org/15182/idf-uniform

 

 

Credit: Jewishmiracles

~~~~~~~~~~

To defend our people and our land is our moral imperative.  Most especially to defend it against those such as Hamas who incorporate into their ideology destruction of Israel and the Jews.
 
Our right to do this should be a “no brainer.”  And yet we are besieged by those who – as Prime Minister Netanyahu has so often pointed out – grant us that right in principle but rush to block our ability to actually exercise it.  They readily seek to cripple our self-defense, even in the face of our existential threat: monitoring us as no other nation in the world has ever been monitored, critiquing what they have absolutely no right to critique, and talking about “international law” that is largely invented. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Today, in my own meditative mood, I realized how I’ve begun to be tangled in my writing – which attempts to describe this deplorable situation, again and again and again. It is not clean and clear; it is forever convoluted.  How it wearies the soul. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
They are still launching rockets, my friends.  Hamas has not let up.  In the last 24 hours, there have been some 100 rockets – launched at Be’ersheva and Ashkelon and Ashdod.  In the communities closest to the Gaza border, in Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. In the region of Tel Aviv - with sirens sounding in Rishon Lezion, Holon, Yehud, Givatayim, and Bat Yam.
 
Yesterday, little four-year old Daniel Tragerman, of Kibbutz Nahal Oz, was killed by mortar fire emanating from Gaza.  His parents were in process of preparing to leave the kibbutz when he was hit.  He simply didn’t make it to a shelter in time.  The barrage on Nahal Oz was heavy.
 
 
Daniel Tragerman (photo credit: Courtesy) 


This cannot stand.  This must not stand.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Egypt is planning on extending invitations to all parties to return to Cairo for more negotiations.  The Times of Israel reports that Netanyahu and al-Sisi of Egypt speak frequently and at length.  But unless I’m really missing something, the notion of more negotiations with Hamas is simply nonsense. Hamas – which has demonstrated its failure to honor commitments again and again - says they will return on their terms only. 
 
Is there any effective alternative to another ground invasion? 
 
Is there a plan that the government has to bring this situation to an effective end? 
 
Are the members of our government prepared to turn their backs to those who critique us and monitor us, and finally sanction a non-holds barred response – even in terms of attacks by air - that puts an end to this situation?
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
The residents of the south have had it. They’re leaving in large numbers.  What they are being told by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has got to be less then reassuring.  After Shabbat tonight, I picked up various sources who cited his comments today – and I turned away deeply unsettled:
 
“The goal of the [Israeli] decision makers is to bring Hamas to the negotiation table in Cairo under terms that Israel decides, and to achieve a ceasefire deal as demanded by Jerusalem,”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/day-48-mortar-victim-daniel-tragerman-4-to-be-buried-sunday-fire-from-lebanon-rocket-hits-beersheba-car/
 
That’s it?  I’m assuming for the moment that there is likely more, as yet unspoken.
 
Hamas will not agree to Israel’s terms until it has been defeated.  The goal, then, it seems to me, is not bringing Hamas to the table, but defeating it.
 
Communications Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud), who is a member of the Security Cabinet, said today that a serious ground invasion is being considered:
 
“Has the final decision been made? No, but we are closer to it than we have ever been before.
 
“Hamas continues a war of attrition and we are pounding them by air, but this is not a situation that can persist for weeks.  The purpose of a ground offensive could be retaking Gaza fully and the collapse of Hamas rule, or specific attacks on the organization itself."
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184334#.U_kckJvlrIU
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
There have been a handful of rockets launched from Lebanon into the Galil tonight.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I’ve been advised by someone considerably in the know with regard to the PA, that Abbas’s motivation at present is “staying relevant.”  He must appear to be a player of significance so that he is factored into future situations and does not simply get lost.  Perhaps.  Abbas is playing it to the hilt – great buddies with Mashaal of Hamas as they plan mutually for attempting to bring Israel to the International Criminal Court.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© 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/2014/8/24/august-23-2014-the-ikar.html

 

Posted on Sunday, August 24, 2014 at 04:11AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 21, 2014: Off-Again On-Again War

If we listen to what Netanyahu said yesterday, he never really thought our battle with Hamas was going to be peacefully resolved – he refers to it as “on-going.”  That would mean that even when there were negotiations proceeding during a ceasefire, he knew.

Could well be. 

There were so many rumors about what sort of deal was being cooked up, so many suggestions that the Israeli delegation was caving on this, or that. 

And some of this could be as well – although I suspect much was speculation or disinformation.

What is obvious in the end is that whatever Israeli concessions might have been made, they were not nearly sufficient to satisfy Hamas.  Not even sufficient to keep Hamas talking.

~~~~~~~~~~

On Monday, there was a mutual Israeli - Hamas agreement to extend the temporary ceasefire that was in place by another 24 hours past the deadline of midnight Monday - so that talks might continue. This was at the behest of Egypt, and what was implied, if not overtly stated, was that “progress” (however this would be defined) was being made.

Yet on Tuesday, Azzam al-Ahmad, a Fatah official and head of the Palestinian delegation, declared that there had been no progress.

He accused Israel of trying to impose its will on the Palestinians Arabs: “It’s impossible for the Palestinians to accept this. Israel is continuing with its policy of procrastination.”

http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Palestinian-delegation-calls-negotiations-difficult-says-no-progress-made-371539

According to Husam Badran, of Hamas, Israel was sabotaging the talks, putting up obstacles on every issue. "If we don't reach an agreement that serves the interests of the Palestinians, all options are open."

If Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "doesn't understand the message from the people of Gaza in diplomatic language in Cairo, we know the way that will force him to understand."
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Hamas-Israel-is-escalating-the-situation-to-influence-Cairo-truce-talks-371522

A PA source reported: “The problems in the talks are significant. We cannot at this time reach an agreement. The talks reached a dead end.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/301930#.U_Y3t5vlrIV

~~~~~~~~~~

Well, OK then.  We see that Netanyahu had not provided concessions sufficient to keep Hamas remotely content.  Clearly, whatever he did offer was not going to bring a deal. 

Did he know this going in? Were the concessions (wherever they were – such as opening of crossings) made with confidence that they ultimately wouldn’t be enough?  Were they offered because it would allow Israel to say to the international community that the failure of talks was not our fault because we were flexible?  This would be Netanyahu’s M.O., but truly I do not know; I suspect a case could be made either way.

~~~~~~~~~~

In the end, far better that there was no deal. Nothing should be given to terrorists in order to get them to stop attacking.  This would signal weakness. 

Netanyahu had gone into negotiations with ideas about the demilitarization of Hamas.  Had that been achieved, it would have been a different situation.  But there is no way that Hamas was going to sign onto anything requiring them to surrender their weapons – not even in return for an airport and a seaport.  Compromise is not in the vocabulary of jidhadis.

What is more, Hamas leaders never feel themselves bound to their own commitments.  In the past several weeks, they broke ceasefires 11 times.  And so, indeed better that we should have made no compromise. 

At this point, whatever Netanyahu was or was not prepared to concede in negotiations is almost certainly moot.
 
~~~~~~~~~~

At roughly 6 PM on Tuesday, three rockets were launched towards Be’ersheva.  Hamas claimed it had nothing to do with this. 

The Israeli delegation was promptly called back from Cairo, because we do not negotiate under fire.  For a few hours there was some vague talk about bringing everyone back for more talk, but that possibility was promptly abandoned.  (Although I now read that Kerry – who had been scheduled to come to Cairo before talks broke down – is trying to resuscitate those negotiations.)

Since then, with a few lulls, we’ve been hit with an on-going barrage of rockets from Gaza.  In fact, yesterday more rockets – roughly 100 – were launched than in any other single day since the beginning of these hostilities.  From Tuesday night until the present, over 300 rockets have been launched. No one in Israel has been killed, but there have been some injuries.

There have been a handful of rockets aimed at the Tel Aviv area, and at Jerusalem. And Hamas threatened the airport, but all has been quiet there.

~~~~~~~~~~

Once Hamas broke the ceasefire on Tuesday night, a strong response by the Air Force ensued. We’ve been hitting Gaza hard, with the full sanction of Israeli leadership from across the political spectrum:

Even Nachum Shai of Labor said, ‘No more talking, shoot!”

http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Ministers-and-MKs-urge-Netanyahu-to-pound-Hamas-371567

And a solid majority of the nation is eager to see tough action.  The off/on situation had become ridiculous and terribly draining.

~~~~~~~~~~.

In addition to a solid pounding, there has been one significant difference in how we are responding: We’ve now seriously begun to go after leadership.  Yesterday, there was an attack on the house in Gaza City where Mohammed Deif – head of the military wing of Hamas and allegedly the “brains” behind the operation – was staying with his family. Deif’s wife, daughter and baby son were killed.

There have been conflicting reports as to whether Deif also died.  Hamas – which would in any case be reluctant to say he had been eliminated - says he is alive; Israeli intelligence indicates otherwise.  Interestingly, a Palestinian Arab website (Saham) reported that he was dead.  I have read that, whether he is dead or not, he is definitely out of commission at the moment and not issuing commands. This is to the good.

Then this morning in a pre-dawn strike at a home in Rafah, the IDF with Shin Bet assistance took out two key Hamas commanders: Muhammad Abu Shamalah and Ra'ad Atar, who had both been involved in the Shalit kidnapping. Another major commander, Mohammed Barhoum, was also killed. All three had been involved in operations against Israel for 20 years.

In the short term there is confusion, and a lack of direction.  But beyond this, once leadership is targeted, everyone gets nervous and this enhances our deterrence power: if leaders are busy looking over their shoulders to see if we’re coming, they have scant time to plan operations.

~~~~~~~~~~

Both Netanyahu and Ya’alon have made statements in the last couple of days indicating that Hamas leaders are fair targets. (Hamas leaders are “not invincible,” said Netanyahu.) This represents an escalation of our policy, and I see it as something that had been planned if negotiations hit a dead end.

What must be asked is why we waited so long on this.  Clearly, we were holding back before. This was obvious when we hit Haniyeh’s empty house some several days ago.

~~~~~~~~~~

The question now is where we go from here.  (Yes, it’s a question I’ve asked before.)  

Netanyahu continues to say the goals of the operation are “restoring quiet for a prolonged period along with a significant blow to the terrorist infrastructure.”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Yaalon-IDF-will-continue-to-strike-Hamas-leaders-at-any-time-and-place-371789

But in a talk to the nation last night, he also said:

We have not given up on our goal to overthrow Hamas and its leadership.” (Emphasis added)

http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Netanyahu-says-Operation-Protective-Edge-is-not-over-371694

That’s a lot tougher.

As soon as the rockets started again, we called up some reservists – a relatively small number that I understood were involved with intelligence.  Now there has been approval for 10,000 more to be called up.  THE big question is whether there will be a ground operation again.  And how serious an operation it would be. 

What seems to me to be of significance is that Times of Israel is reporting that Hamas has now depleted 75% of its rocket supply, including the major portion of its mid-range rockets. This means it is not likely that the airport will be targeted or that much will be launched at Tel Aviv or beyond.  Now it is the South, and specifically the area close to Gaza, taking the brunt of the attack.

~~~~~~~~~~

A couple of points here worthy of mention before closing:

According to a key member of Fatah, the negotiations broke down because Qatar pushed Mashaal into a tougher stance – saying they would expel him from the country if he agreed to the long-term ceasefire agreement.  Allegedly, Qatar was angry at having been rebuffed as a negotiator. 

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184225#.U_ZCLZvlrIU

This rings true in certain respects.  And indeed I’ve read many times about the tougher stance of Mashaal, sitting comfortably in Qatar, relative to the position of the Hamas leaders in Gaza.  But I note the quotes above, which indicate genuine Hamas dissatisfaction with Israel’s position, and the PA official’s quote about the negotiations having reached a dead end.

I suspect they might well have fallen apart even without a push from Qatar.

~~~~~~~~~~

What I wonder about is the role of Fatah (the PA) in all of this.  Not only was the PA involved with Hamas in the negotiations, it led the delegation and often spoke for it.  There may have been reasons why Fatah, eager to convey the impression that the delegation it headed in Cairo was more flexible, preferred to point a finger at Qatar. Speculation.

Once the news broke about the Hamas plot to overthrow Fatah in Judea and Samaria, there were, according to Egyptian reports, tensions that surfaced between Fatah and Hamas members of the delegation in Cairo.  And Abbas – even while downplaying the reports - said that an investigation of these allegations would be necessary. Yet Abbas has now gone to Qatar to see Mashaal, for what was reported to be a very positive meeting.

Go figure.  There is a great deal that is murky and requires further investigation.  One report I encountered said that Mashaal gave the order for those rockets to be launched at Be’ersheva Tuesday night himself, circumventing the military wing of Hamas.  In the end it doesn’t matter because if ALL of Hamas is not on board seriously there is no deal.

~~~~~~~~~~

There are, as might be expected, a couple of international initiatives being developed for a resolution at the UN Security Council to stop the fighting.

What I’m seeing at present is that the Obama government, which took a great deal of criticism for withholding weapons from Israel, is now attempting to show what a good friend it is.  For however many days this lasts...

~~~~~~~~~~

More, hopefully, after Shabbat.

~~~~~~~~~~

© 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.

 

Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 04:05PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 18, 2014: Deja Vu

How many times?  How many times do we count down as the final hours of a 72 hour – or 120 hour – ceasefire come to an end, aware that resolution of the issues between Israel and Hamas is exceedingly unlikely and wondering what will happen next??

The guessing is that it will either be active war or a tacit “quiet for quiet” situation.  But I’m not going to discuss various pros and cons, various implications, now: That discussion will wait for my next posting.

~~~~~~~~~~

Here, briefly, I want to share a couple of selected pieces of news that are significant now – even before we know what follows this ceasefire. They will remain significant no matter how things play out because they are indicative of the underlying situation, and of certain attitudes and intentions.

Most telling here is the news that in recent weeks the Shin Bet has arrested 93 Hamas activists who had set up terrors cells across Judea and Samaria, and in eastern Jerusalem: in 46 Palestinian towns and villages, as well as in Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, and Hebron.

Focusing on the Temple Mount, they intended to start a third intifada.  Under cover of that intifada, Hamas intended to take down the Palestinian Authority and take over in Ramallah just as it took down the PA and seized rule in Gaza seven years ago.

The head of this complex operation was Saleh al-Arouri (pictured below); the Shin Bet says he operated from Turkey and remains there now. Al-Arouri is referred to as “the Mohammed Deif of the West Bank.”  In recent months there has been an influx of Hamas operatives known to be loyal to al-Arouri.  Sophisticated Palestinian Arabs - were recruited from abroad.  Notable among these was one with a doctorate in computer science who was trained in encryption and cyber-attacks.  Head of the military infrastructure in Judea and Samaria was Riyad Nasser, who has been in prison for some months now.

Funds for the operation were brought by Jordanian couriers from Jordan and Turkey, in order to purchase safe houses and vehicles.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4560000,00.html

Saleh al-'Arouri - Arabs48

Credit: Arabs48

~~~~~~~~~~

Folks, this Hamas plan is no surprise (even if the scope of it was greater than most of us had assumed).  But it is mind-boggling because of its various implications:

[] Let me begin with the kidnapping-murder of the three students – martyrs, truly:  In the course of searching for the boys, the IDF and associated security agencies pulled off a major operation in the Hevron area.  This was well after the Shin Bet had uncovered the plot (which was in May) and so clearly the search provided the opportunity to do considerable destruction of Hamas infrastructure in the area, to do arrests of Hamas operatives, and to confiscate Hamas funds.

[] I – along with many others – have been writing about the foolishness of thinking that Mahmoud Abbas’s PA might be installed in Gaza to monitor reconstruction, or the crossings, or whatever.  The PA is not strong enough, I’ve been saying.  In fact, I have been writing, Hamas even wants to overthrow Abbas in Judea and Samaria and is prevented from doing so only by the presence of Israel. 

Well, hello??? Here we are. 

Any one who proposes that Abbas move into Gaza after the exposure of this plot has got to be willfully blind (as most leftists are) or have distinctly devious motives.  The fact of this plot should be waved in the face of those who dare (and they will dare) to continue to suggest this.

What is more, anyone who suggests that we provide Abbas and the PA with an autonomous/sovereign state in parts of Judea and Samaria should be likewise challenged.  As things stand now (and barring a full take-out of Hamas – no simple task): to give the PA a state is to guarantee a Hamas state at our east.
 
[]  I must speculate, as well, as to what Abbas is using in place of brains.  I would assume that he imagines he will be the winner if the international community gives him a role in Gaza.  He probably thinks it’s pay-back time for what Hamas did to him. 

But the article I cite, above, says that PA security was updated on the investigation regarding Hamas plans.  Abbas knew that Hamas was planning to overthrow him, and that it was only the Shin Bet that protected him
 
This leads to the question, as well – a significant question – as to why Abbas did not disavow the “unity government” with Hamas in light of this information.  Or why he sits as one of the factions negotiating on the side of Hamas against Israel.  Is he motivated simply by fear?  This man who some imagine would monitor Hamas.

This is all too convoluted and surreal.

[] The article makes a significant point about the international nature of Hamas.  Mashaal is in Qatar. The Turkish government knew what was taking place on its territory – with al-Arouri planning the operation from there and recruiting operatives loyal to him from diverse places, including Malaysia (which is where the guy trained in cyber-attacks came from).  This makes Hamas more dangerous than would be the case if it were – as it once was – primarily a “local” terror group.

I cannot speak for my prime minister or the Security Cabinet.  But I would suspect that this awareness of the nature of Hamas may have played into decisions regarding how to deal with it.  “Taking out Hamas” would be more complicated and vastly more difficult than those who charge that Netanyahu is remiss for not doing so likely imagine.  This is not to say that Hamas in Gaza should not be taken down – a good case can still be made for this.  But it’s important to consider broader ramifications and not draw conclusions too quickly.

[] It is a good bet that this information about the Hamas plot was made public now for a purpose.

[] Lastly, the Temple Mount – Har Habayit - where Hamas wanted to focus its intifada scheme.  We’ve known for some time that there has been Hamas incitement on the Mount. But, again, most of us did not understand the full ramifications.

While I do write about the Temple Mount from time to time, I feel that perhaps I have been remiss in not focusing on it more.  Any one who thinks this most sacred space for Jews – our right to which is being challenged – is not at the heart of matters does not see the full picture.

~~~~~~~~~~

Only one other piece of news here.  I think this is sufficient for now:

The US has offered to guarantee Israel’s commitment to any signed agreement. As Aaron Lerner of IMRA put it: “US offers to guarantee that Israel doesn’t interfere with Hamas missile construction?”

Please read Steve Emerson, Executive Director of The Investigative Project, on this:

http://www.investigativeproject.org/4522/op-ed-the-president-true-colors-finally-revealed

Every time you think Obama has stooped as low as he might, in seeking to block Israeli actions against Hamas and protect Hamas, something else emerges.  None of this should be forgotten.

~~~~~~~~~~

© 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/2014/8/18/august-18-2014-deja-vu.html

 

Posted on Monday, August 18, 2014 at 03:04PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 14, 2014: An Ugly Mess

No matter what happens with regard to Hamas, it will be a mess of one sort or another.  There are no clean, neat diplomatic solutions. There is either war now, with all the pain and cost that is necessarily concomitant, or there is the possibility (only the possibility) of a temporary diplomatic resolution that has the seeds of war embedded within it and that, while providing a respite, will inevitably backfire.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Where are we, as I write? 
 
The 72 hours of indirect, Egyptian-mediated negotiations in Cairo between Israel and “Palestinian factions” – which ended midnight Wednesday night – led to no resolution of the differences between Israel and Hamas.  We shouldn’t have expected there would be such a resolution, as each side has demands diametrically opposed to the other: Israel is seeking demilitarization of Hamas and Hamas is seeking an end to the blockade of Gaza (in place to prevent importation of further weaponry).
 
I am reluctant to relay reports of what is said to have gone on, because a good deal of it is undocumented and unreliable: most, if not all, of what we ostensibly learned regarding terms being discussed came from the Palestinian Arab faction (remember, Abbas’s Fatah faction is right in there, negotiating with and on behalf of Hamas).  And they have a strong propensity to exaggerate their achievements in such matters. 
 
Did Israel agree to allow Gazan fisherman to go farther into the Mediterranean?  Or to permit the quantity of goods – either humanitarian or commercial - going into Gaza from Israel to be substantially increased?  Did we concur that Fatah forces might police the border?  Could it possibly be that Israeli negotiators agreed to facilitate the movement of money from the PA in Ramallah into Gaza so that Hamas salaries could be paid??? 
 
It’s difficult to state what Israel agreed to tentatively, in the course of negotiations – or even agreed to just put on the table for discussion.
 
Several times, while those reports were coming out, anonymous Israeli officials were cited as saying that no progress was being made.  Apparently (and, again, there is no confirmation on this) Hamas is refusing to release the remains of two soldiers it is holding - Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul; this would represent a real stumbling block to any deal Israel might be considering.
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184003#.U-zhP5vlrIU
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Several factors in particular must be mentioned with regard to these negotiations:
 
First, it is clear that, whatever Israel did or did not agree to, the Palestinian Authority – Abbas’s Fatah faction thereof - is being widely promoted as the “solution” to the problem of Gaza, just as we knew would be the case.  We must continue to declare loudly that reliance on Abbas would be a disaster – both because he’s in bed with Hamas and would not “guard” the situation with regard to preventing it from rearming, and because Fatah forces are weak and liable to be taken down by Hamas.
 
And then, it seems to be the case (is it??) that Israel has dropped the demand for the full demilitarization of Hamas, focusing instead mainly on ways to prevent its rearming.  Preventing more sophisticated weapons from being brought in to Gaza is, needless to say, an important and necessary thing to do. But it is not sufficient in and of itself.  Hamas still has some 3,000 rockets in its arsenal.
 
What is additionally the case is that Hamas currently has the capacity to build more of its own rockets, and is continuing to do so. 
 
See here: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4558720,00.html
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Reports, some leaked, that did come out citing Israeli sources yesterday seemed quite troubling.  We learned that a Security Cabinet meeting that was supposed to have been held had been cancelled because there was “no progress” and nothing to discuss or vote on.  But what happened instead of a full Security Cabinet meeting was a series of private meetings that Prime Minister Netanyahu had with various key members of that Cabinet (primarily but not exclusively heads of factions) – notably Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu), Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), Economics Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua), and Communications Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud).  Some sources described these meetings as a way for Netanyahu to alert these people to what to anticipate. 
 
Other sources described what happened as an attempt by Netanyahu to “soften up” the Cabinet members in order to get them to vote for some controversial concessions. Something they might or might not agree to:
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183984#.U-y-KJvlrIU
 
Additionally there were complaints from some Cabinet members that they were being kept in the dark:
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4558420,00.html
 
Uh Oh.  What doesn’t he want them to know?  What might he be promoting?
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
For the record, I do not believe Netanyahu WANTS to give Hamas anything.  He is clear-eyed as to the nature of this adversary.  But I am concerned, very simply, that he lacks the nerves of steel required right now to buck the considerable pressure being brought to bear on Israel from a host of international sources.  Binyamin Netanyahu has demonstrated himself to be someone who worries a good deal about the international community and functions while watching over his shoulder.
 
In fairness to him, I acknowledge very readily that the pressure has to be absolutely incredible. (I am not sleeping well at night and right now I wonder how he can sleep at all.)  There is reason to believe that he might be considering a host of unpalatable factors – the rising world-wide hostility to Israel because of the deaths of babies in Gaza, the up-coming UNHRC “inquiry” – dubbed Goldstone 2 - into whether we committed “war crimes” in Gaza (which I’ll address another day), the malevolence of Obama (about which more below).  It might seem to him that not taking on Hamas right now would be prudent because of all of the other issues that we confront.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
But there is a solid case to be made for dealing with Hamas without making concessions – with all that this likely implies.  Period. 
 
Two days ago, the “military wing” of Hamas, al-Qassam Brigades, released this statement:
 
The warriors in Gaza are waiting with Allah’s help to renew the fighting, or to return to planning the next campaign. There’s no escape. Either jihad or planning [for the next jihad].”
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183978#.U-zLGZvlrIV
 
Now, we know that this is how the jihadis operate.  It’s hardly a surprise. But for them to be so “in our faces” about it?  We should allow them to buy time to plan a better attack on Israel? 
~~~~~~~~~~

The hours leading up to the midnight termination of the temporary ceasefire last night were tense.  Egypt – the mediating party - was pushing for an extension to the temporary ceasefire because more time was needed.  But, while apparently Israel agreed at some point, Hamas was defiant – with Khaled Mashaal, head of the politburo, the most intransigent – and it seemed that this was not going to happen.
 
So certain did Hamas seem to be that there would be no extension, and that “negotiations” had failed, that rockets were launched from Gaza into several communities in the south of Israel a full two hours before the official end of the ceasefire.  (Something that Hamas later denied having done.)
 
The situation suddenly seemed clear: Enough fooling around in those negotiations; once again Hamas failed to even honor its full commitment to cease firing for 72 hours.  The Israeli negotiating team had returned home. Time to get serious.  Additional reservists had been called up and our troops were moved up to the border of Gaza.  Yair Lapid made a statement about how, if we must attack again because they start launching rockets again, “this time we’ll hit much harder.”
 
So be it then...
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Just to interject a small personal note here.  I was relieved – because the prospect of making concessions to Hamas felt terribly wrong: one does not negotiate this way with terrorists.  But I was hardly upbeat.  I had more of a pained, it’s the right way to go and we’ll have to deal with this with resolve, attitude. I spoke to my visiting grandchildren about where we would would go if there were a siren; having lived through this multiple times already in their own home, they were cool.  But I felt an incredible sadness, that the absolute evil of Hamas was making all of this necessary.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Even as Hamas started launching those rockets, however, news began to trickle out from Cairo about an agreement from both sides to extend the temporary ceasefire so that more effort might be expended in reaching a permanent agreement.  And indeed, by midnight, the new ceasefire was announced: fire would be held for five days, but it was my understanding that there would be a two-day hiatus before talks began again, which would mean another 72 hours of negotiations.
 
What turned the trick, apparently, was direct intervention by Barack Obama, who let it be known that he wanted either a final agreement or, at the least, a temporary extension.  Reports are that a call he placed to Netanyahu to convey this was exceedingly tense, as have been most of their recent exchanges.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
This is what I am seeing:
 
According to a Wall Street Journal article, which cited government sources, “the US administration has halted a shipment of Hellfire aerial anti-armor missiles to Israel.

“The sources noted that Israel had requested the transfer of ammunitions directly from the Pentagon, without receiving the approval of the White House or State Department officials.

"’We were blindsided,’ one US diplomat said, while a US defense official insisted that ‘there was no intent to blindside anyone. The process for this transfer was followed precisely along the lines that it should have.’

“According to the sources, White House officials were concerned about Israel's use of artillery, instead of precision-guided munitions in the more densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip...

“After the shipment of the 120-mm and 40-mm rounds caught the White House by surprise, the Pentagon was instructed to put another arms shipment to Israel - a large number of Hellfire missiles - on halt and the administration instructed all of its defense agencies to consult with the White House and State Department before approving any additional arms requests from Israel, the Journal reported.

A US official told the paper that ‘the decision to scrutinize future transfers at the highest levels amounted to the United States saying “The buck stops here. Wait a second… It's not OK anymore.”'"  (All emphasis added)

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4558615,00.html
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Michael Oren, who served a term as Israeli ambassador to the US that ended last fall, has weighed in on this:
 
"There is a claim in the Wall Street Journal that Israel went around the back of the United States to get a resupply of ammunition from the Pentagon, that it didn't get permission from the White House. I can only tell you as an ambassador that is impossible because there's a very specific and deeply embedded procedure for doing that and Israel, in order to get access to preposition military equipment in this country, American equipment, has to go through the administration."
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4558760,00.html
 
Oren says the WSJ story is unsubstantiated.  But if a US “source” deliberately leaked this faulty information on orders?  If this provides Obama with a fabricated public rationale for holding back on Israel?
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
When did this story appear? Wednesday?  When did Obama place his call to Netanyahu insisting that the ceasefire had to be extended?  Wednesday.
 
Here I move into speculation – but speculation informed by a sequence of events that gives it considerable plausibility.
 
Perhaps Netanyahu was not thinking about “Goldstone 2” or anti-Israel riots in various places.  Maybe his concern – a very real and enormously serious one one – was that the US, by withholding military equipment, would make it difficult for Israel to sustain a full war against Hamas.  Perhaps this is what he sought to communicate privately to key members of the Cabinet.  Perhaps his nerves were sufficiently steel-like in this situation, but he calculated that it might be better to forestall that final confrontation with Hamas until Obama was out of office. (Which might mean making nauseating compromises in the interim.)
 
Perhaps...
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Obama’s position on the record in this situation was clearly established some while ago:  First he has no desire to see Hamas brought down.  And then, he is eager to see that “two state solution” advanced via placement of Abbas in Gaza.  What better way to promote these interests than by weakening Israel’s hand?
 
If there is truth to my speculation, then it is my very fervent hope that Netanyahu will not sit still for this.  Oren’s commentary seems the first return volley, but a great deal more would need to follow.  Often threats are not spoken about. But, for a number of reasons, whatever threat may have transpired here would need to be addressed as boldly and perhaps publicly as possible.  We have many friends in the US. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And there is one last piece to my speculation.  Obama would have had to do something to get Hamas to agree to a ceasefire extension.  It is quite clear that there was not unanimity within Hamas on this score.  The president has a very distorted and distinctive MO in his dealings with other countries: he fails to be supportive of those who are traditional US allies, and he overtly courts and makes concessions to radical regimes such as Iran that embrace values inimical to American interests. 
 
My guess would be (and Kerry played this very game with Abbas during recent negotiations) that Obama either exaggerated to Hamas what Israel is ready to concede or promised Hamas that he would do everything in his power to get Israel to... whatever (perhaps release prisoners)...to provide Hamas with that much needed sense of victory.
 
We might then, look for increased pressure on Israel to...whatever...
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
All this said, there is no reason to expect that, when the next 72 hours of negotiations is over, a long-term ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas will necessarily have been achieved.  It still remains quite unlikely, I think, concessions or not.  If (or when) those Hamas rockets start flying again, there will still be some very tough decisions that will have to be made here in 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/2014/8/15/august-14-2014-an-ugly-mess.html

 

Posted on Friday, August 15, 2014 at 02:19AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 10, 2014: Forecast Cloudy

Before I look at that forecast, let me mention “Kaitana Savta,” which translates literally as “Camp Grandma” (it sounds better in Hebrew).  I am about to begin Kaitana Savta, which comes every year in August and is truly as much fun for me as for my grandkids. Starting tomorrow and in days ahead, I will have two and three kids sleeping here and going out where Savta takes them to have fun, or staying in to do games and arts and crafts.

 


This year especially, this time will help me regain my balance - after weeks of focusing on the war.

And so... I will be posting.  But less frequently, and perhaps – after today – with shorter posts.

~~~~~~~~~~

Now, as to that forecast.  I use the term cloudy in two regards.  First, the clouds block our vision. And then, they suggest storms advancing. 

As most of you doubtlessly already know, an Israeli negotiating team is back in Cairo after Hamas agreed to yet another 72 hour ceasefire.  Hamas leaders had refused to extend the last one because they weren’t happy with the way negotiations were going.  And so, last Friday they began launching rockets again. 

 

Credit: mikesamerica

How wearisome, how straining. These rockets startled many in Israel, as people had just begun to relax and think in terms of “normal,” and quiet. 

Hamas offered to continue to negotiate, but Israel made it very clear that we have a policy of not negotiating under fire, and our team was called home.

~~~~~~~~~~

Then followed a touch-and-go situation, with Hamas reluctant to stop launching again and Egyptian mediators trying to bring about yet another ceasefire.  Finally Hamas agreed: For another 72 hours.  As is the Hamas norm, there was a barrage of launchings right before the ceasefire was to begin – they have to get in as much as they can.  This is the last ceasefire, they said.  If they are not happy with the results of negotiations in 72 hours, forget it.  They will not only begin launching again, they will escalate their attacks.

The ceasefire was called for midnight last night, but the Israeli team was only sent back to Cairo this morning, after it seemed that the ceasefire was holding.

The team: Maj. Gen. (res) Amos Gilad, Director of the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Ministry of Defense; Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen; Yitzhak Molcho, lawyer and close confident of Netanyahu; Maj.-Gen. Nimrod Sheffer, head of the IDF’s Planning Directorate; and Yoav Mordechai, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. 

They will concentrate on security issues.

~~~~~~~~~~

Israel wants Hamas disarmed: With rockets in its possession removed and the means for bringing in more rockets blocked. 

Hamas wants to be fully open to the world, permanently and unconditionally: the blockade at sea must be lifted and all crossings into Gaza must be open. That’s just a start. They also want a seaport and an international airport.

These demands are mutually exclusive and the odds that they can be reconciled somehow within 72 hours are zero.  The only way to see an extension of the current ceasefire would be if one or both parties were to significantly compromise or modify its demands (Heaven forbid that Israel should). 

~~~~~~~~~~

There are some very modest actions being taken – and proposals being made – in an effort to reconcile demands.

Egypt, which has kept the Rafah crossing into the Sinai tightly closed for some while now, opened it in recent days for wounded in Gaza and those with foreign passports.  Rafah is a key element here – would be a key avenue for opening up Gaza.

Additionally, Netanyahu has been alluding for some time to the readiness of some EU countries to lend an assist here, and it turns out that he spoke with some solid reason.  Last week, Britain, Germany and France presented Israel with a proposal for international supervision of the rehabilitation of Gaza that would prevent Hamas from re-arming. 

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.609310

It is, however, a long step from making such a proposal to providing Israel with reassurance that sufficient mechanisms would be in place and that the international community would persevere in its commitment.  We’re talking about making sure that forbidden armaments do not make their way into Gaza at all, and that materials needed for reconstruction (yes, including concrete!) do not fall in the hands of Hamas.

~~~~~~~~~~

Netanyahu has said, and it is certainly true, that the EU is more prepared to help now because of alarm about radical Islam (and more on this below).  

But there is another proviso in the offer by the EU nations: They want to bring Mahmoud Abbas and the PA into the act, either with regard to manning the crossings or taking some control of Gaza in a more serious way.  Obama is pushing for this as well. This is supposed to be a solution to the problem – and a segue into new “two state solution” negotiations!.  But it is an absolute non-starter.

Consider the major stumbling blocks here:

[] Abbas and his Fatah party are solidly in league with Hamas.  They are sitting with Hamas officials, pumped for pro-Hamas Turkey and Qatar to serve mediator roles in negotiations, failed to criticize Hamas for breaking ceasefires, and so on.  Israel should trust representatives of Fatah to guard Hamas? This would clearly be a case of assigning the fox to guard the henhouse.

[] Abbas and Fatah – the Fatah-dominated PA – are weak and no match for Hamas.  Hamas drove Fatah from Gaza in the first place and has failed to defeat Fatah in Judea and Samaria only because of an IDF presence.  There is no way Abbas’s people are up to the job, even should they want to do it.   

I see this entire scenario as totally absurd anyway, as I had mentioned the other day when I spoke about Abbas trying to ride two horses with one tuchis.  Fatah and Hamas have a unity agreement that Fatah, and Abbas, have not disavowed.  I allude above to “the Fatah-dominated PA” because in theory the PA now includes Hamas.  Sort of.  They identify as one when it’s convenient and separately when that suits.

Such is the insanity of world diplomacy that all of this is taken seriously.

~~~~~~~~~~

As far as the crossings into Gaza from Israel are concerned, I anticipate that in due course they will be opened to commercial merchandise.  Whatever authority is checking the crossings from the Gaza side, I cannot imagine a situation in which Israel would not monitor the flow of goods from our side. 

Please be aware, Israel has been permitting large quantities of humanitarian goods into Gaza.  (Israel does not pay for these goods, but does permit them to go in.)  Hundreds of tons of supplies go into Gaza daily: medical supplies, food products, hygiene products, etc., via the Keren Shalom crossing.

Here is yet one more piece of information that exposes the true cold-blooded nature of Hamas:

The Keren Shalom crossing had to be shut down because of deliberate shelling of the area by Hamas.  Such is Hamas concern for the civilians of Gaza.

http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/08/10/deliberate-and-continuous-hamas-rocket-fire-forces-closure-of-gaza-crossing-video/

~~~~~~~~~~

So, if (when) Hamas begins launching rockets again, what will Israel’s response be?  It’s here that vision is blocked by the clouds.

We have had several operations over the years fighting Hamas in Gaza (these operations are not technically referred to as “wars”).  In each instance, Israel has stopped short of taking Hamas out.  This is referred to as “mowing the grass.” There are some very serious thinkers who believe the whole notion of “solving” the problem with Hamas is not realistic, as the radical ideology is too ingrained in the populace. They believe – even today - that it is in Israel’s best interest to increase deterrence from time to time so that Hamas is reluctant to attack Israel again for some period of years.

They believe that to try to do more is both unrealistic and would take too great a toll on Israel.

People of this persuasion speak of our waging a war of attrition, and not more, even if Hamas starts launching again: Hamas launches, we bomb from the air and shell from the sea, until Hamas finally gets tired of doing this.

~~~~~~~~~~

But there is a growing number of Israeli voices calling for a more serious action. 

There are not only voices inside the government calling for this – I note Avigdor Lieberman in particular.  There is the almost unanimous opinion that the job is not yet done that has been expressed by frustrated members of the IDF. 

And now we have a new situation that we did not have before: pressure from residents of the south of Israel. This is not something that can be ignored. 

These long-suffering residents have endured years of living in shelters when rockets were launched from Gaza – and they endured with a stoic bravery. But when word was released about the Hamas tunnels and the Hamas plans for massacres of thousands in the south via those tunnels, that was something else. A large percentage of these residents fled the south, awaiting word that it was safe to return.  The tunnels were eliminated, a long term ceasefire was about to be negotiated, and they were told it was time to return.  Turns out that it was not yet safe to return, because Hamas started launching rockets again.  They are irked and are demanding that the government protect them. And Netanyahu has to pay attention.

~~~~~~~~~~

And then the question is, how serious would the action be?  Stay in Gaza until all terrorist elements are eliminated and then walk away. Stay permanently?  Weaken Hamas much more seriously than we’ve done yet – including with assassination of some Hamas leaders – without totally taking Hamas down?  The opinions are vastly varied. 

~~~~~~~~~~

I recognize that this is a long posting, but would like to touch upon a few other relevant factors before closing:

It is said that Hamas is continuing on the road of attacking because it is desperate – is low on money and feels it has nothing to lose. (And, it should be noted, since it has had no major “success” in the fighting, it is further motivated to keep trying.) But what I see is that it is also a more formidable enemy than was the case previously. 

This has to do in large part with those tunnels.  Yes, presumably we eliminated those that crossed the line into Israel. But a huge network of tunnels remains: this is where rockets are kept and where many of their leaders are hidden.  A major part of this intricate underground construction is located under Gaza City.  Were our troops to enter there – which they would have to do in a serious ground operation - they would be set upon by terrorists literally leaping out of the ground from behind them, either to kill them or to kidnap them.

Our marvelously trained troops, all of whom are dear to Israel, are ready to go.  But to send them into this?  

~~~~~~~~~~

A confession: When Hamas started sending those rockets our way again at the end of last week, I thought – Enough! let’s take them down. Israel cannot tolerate this. And Hezbollah and others to the north are watching.

But then I thought again.  I realized that the launching of rockets might be a trap, luring us into Gaza City.  I realized what the cost might be.

This quandary is precisely what the decision makers of Israel must deal with.  And it is possible that some very heavy decisions will have to be made soon.

~~~~~~~~~~

We speak about fighting the fight against radical Islam for the world.  Perhaps, then, we must do what we must do, with full determination. 

But perhaps there are other avenues that can accomplish what needs to be done...

What I am seeing, which makes me hopeful (if I am allowed to say “hopeful” in such a gruesome context) is that the world is waking up to the horrors of radical Islam.  The absolute horrors of what ISIS is doing in Iraq may have a quantum effect on how the world sees these matters.  Finally.

And the world is starting to see that Hamas and ISIS are one and the same.  Which will bring about growing isolation for Hamas – already Egypt and Saudi Arabia are arrayed against Hamas, and others will follow - and a stiffening of the spine of the international community.

See this very important and articulate TV interview by anti-terrorist Steve Emerson regarding the fact that Hamas and ISIS are one and the same.

He says Obama cannot bomb ISIS in Iraq and support Hamas as a legitimate entity in Gaza.  He says, what is more, that if everyone doesn’t wake up, the US will have to contend with ISIS on its own shores.

http://www.investigativeproject.org/4508/emerson-interviewed-on-fox-news-justice-with#av651

Share this link broadly, please!

~~~~~~~~~~

And we have this tough statement on the issue as well - may it be a harbinger of new attitudes:

http://teapartyorg.ning.com/video/video/show?id=4301673%3AVideo%3A3019543&xgs=1&xg_source=msg_share_video

~~~~~~~~~~


© 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/2014/8/11/august-10-2014-forecast-cloudy.html

 

Posted on Monday, August 11, 2014 at 02:59PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 8, 2014: Soldiering On

In spite of decidedly negative news I must address, below, I want to first share some very positive reports. 
 
We start with Ari Abramowitz - a host on Israel Inspired Radio and former co-host of Tuesday Night Live in Jerusalem – who wrote a Tisha B’Av message from his unit, Battalion 969.  It explained why the battalion had petitioned to remain in Gaza fighting in order to defeat those who have been terrorizing our nation (emphasis added):
 
”We want to continue fighting not because we love war, but because we love you.

”On a personal level, the paradox of the past month is that in the face of heartbreaking pain and the violence of war, my experience has been one of unparalleled love.
 
”...The love I have felt for my fellow soldiers during this war has transcended anything I have experienced before.

”While the bond of ’brothers in arms’ is a universal phenomenon, I find the love I feel for my fellow soldiers overtaking me like a wave. It is hard to explain as I don’t fully understand it myself. All I know is that I would happily give my life for any one of my fellow soldiers and I don’t doubt for a moment that they would do the same for me. Together we would not hesitate to give our lives for you.

”Throughout this war we have felt the love you have showered upon us – you have given us so much. I have never felt so much love from so many. Jews from both Israel and the Diaspora have flooded us with more care packages, clean underwear, dry socks, candy, potato chips and toothpaste then we can use. Jewish communities, federations, missions and individuals have not let the dangers of this war stop them from coming and volunteering. Hospitals have had to issue statements requesting that people refrain from visiting the wounded, for the lines to visit them were clogging the hallways and stairwells.

”Tens of thousands comfort the families of the soldiers slain and communities around the world hold solidarity and memorial rallies.

”We hang up your children’s letters next to our beds. I know a couple of them by heart. We read the articles, videos and Facebook posts with which you defend us and support us as we fight this just and moral war.

”While there will always be exceptions, from here it seems that this wave of solidarity spans the entirety of the religious, ideological and political spectrum. From the Gaza border the unity behind us feels unprecedented.”
 

Credit: landofisrael.com
 
An extraordinary love letter in the midst of the war.  Ari Abramowitz has to be special to write this way, but he is also writing about an astounding phenomenon.  This is who we are now, who we are showing ourselves to be.  May it last and may our love for one another strengthen.
 
With soldiers such as this, backed by a wave of love, we cannot be defeated. God is watching.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
We have a report from Nefesh B’Nefesh (“soul by soul”), which facilitates aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel).  The war, they say, has motivated more young people to come to Israel, not fewer: The stories of the two “lone soldiers” who died has served as an inspiration.  “...phone calls and requests by Americans to enlist into the IDF has grown considerably.”  Next week there will be a Nefesh B’Nefesh “Lone Soldier” flight that will bring 109 young people, ages 18 to 23, who will be enlisting in the IDF.
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183808#.U-OeJZvlrIV
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And then we have this:
 
Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox in Israel, who have resisted being drafted, are now signing up to volunteer for the IDF. 
 
“We believe that the people of Israel are in the midst of an obligatory war against ruthless enemies who seek to annihilate us,” declared an ad that ran on several ultr-Orthodox websites.
 
“We believe it is a great privilege to join the military effort, in addition to our important contribution through Torah study. We too yearn for this precious mitzvah.”
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/shunning-taboo-hundreds-of-ultra-orthodox-seek-to-volunteer-for-idf/
 
 
A Religious Jewish soldier is embraced by an ultra orthodox Jewish family member after attending a swearing-in ceremony for the orthodox Jewish IDF "Nahal Haredi" unit, at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, May 26, 2012 [photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90


I love it!  Better, I am very grateful for all of this.  For this place we are in.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Although the first stage is not over after all, the second stage of the war against Israel is being launched now as well – the stage of delegitimization and attempts to level war crime charges against our leaders and officials.  A strong response that makes our case is exceedingly important. 
 
The Israeli government is responding with vigor, but I ask that each of you also take the time to inform yourselves on the issue - using the material that follows - and then speak out on Israel’s behalf.  The vilification of the Jewish State must stop.  You know the drill: speak to people about this issue and share links, write letters to the editor, do talkbacks on Internet sites, do call-ins to talk radio shows, write op-eds for your local paper.  You can make a difference if you do not remain silent.
 
~~~~~~~~~~ 
 
One thing that must be made clear to people is that reporting from Gaza was exceedingly imbalanced for the simple reason that foreign journalists literally feared for their lives.  They dared not report from inside of Gaza on what they were seeing. With the beginning of the 72 hour ceasefire, however, they came out of Gaza and started talking:
 
Indian journalist Sreenivasan Jain has now written about how he saw rockets launched right outside the hotel where he was staying: "important to report on how Hamas places those very civilians at risk by firing rockets deep from the heart of civilian zones."
 
FRANCE 24 correspondent Gallagher Fenwick aired a report showing rockets being launched...100 meters away from a UN facility: “The Israeli army has repeatedly accused the Palestinian militants of shooting from within densely populated civilian areas and that is precisely the type of setup we have here. Rockets set up right next to buildings with a lot of residents in them."  
 
Italian journalist Gabriele Barbati exposed Hamas in a tweet (emphasis added): “Out of #Gaza far from #Hamasretaliation: misfired rocket killed children yday (yesterday) in Shati. Witness: militants rushed and cleared debris.” And then: “@IDFSpokesperson said truth in communiqué released yesterday about Shati camp massacre. It was not #Israel behind it.”
 
“Another foreign reporter said that it is an open secret that Hamas uses Al-Shifa hospital as its command center, but that reporters in Gaza would not report that out of fear that it would endanger them.”
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4556016,00.html
 
See the stunning exclusive video by Sreenivasan Jain showing a rocket being shot from near his hotel:
 
http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/ndtv-s-hamas-exclusive-is-an-international-headline-571487
 
Powerful stuff: use it!
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
The charge against Israel is that the IDF does not have the right to fire at a rocket launching site if there are civilians present – which means, of course (although this is not acknowledged in the charges), if civilians are present because Hamas told them to remain even after Israel warned them to leave. 
 
In point of fact, this is simply not the case.  The IDF has a solemn obligation to protect its soldiers and the people of Israel.  Think about it: If this were the case, Israel could never defend herself against rocket or mortar attacks, because Hamas would simply place civilians in the way every time and that would be the end of it – Hamas would be able to kill whom it wanted to. Israel has more than met her moral obligation in warning the civilians.
 
Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a press conference in English on Wednesday in which he addressed this issue.  He says if Israel were to fail to respond, it would be a mistake: “It is a moral mistake. It’s an operational mistake. Because that would validate and legitimize Hamas’s use of human shields, and it would hand an enormous victory to terrorists everywhere and a devastating effect to the free societies that are fighting terrorism.” (Emphasis added)
 
See text of his full statement, which utilizes several examples from the field:
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-full-text-the-tragedy-of-gaza-is-that-it-is-ruled-by-hamas/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Israel Prize laureate Professor Asa Kasher, who helped formulate the military’s Code of Ethics, says Israel is in  compliance with the ethics of battle. (Emphasis added)

“We are fulfilling the ethical requirements. Every battalion commander has an officer in charge of locating civilians, and everything is overseen by too many lawyers, who help direct the operation on the ground. The number of casualties is irrelevant—it does not speak of omissions or any wrongdoing on the part of the IDF.”

There is aggressive criticism of Israel’s operation, he says, because “there are people whose perspective is very shallow.”

 http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/08/07/ethics-expert-idf-fulfilled-all-ethical-requirements-in-gaza/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Also on Wednesday, Israel Ambassador to the UN (what a thankless job!) Ron Prosor delivered tough and honest words to the General Assembly (emphasis added):
 
“It might be too much to ask you to stand on our side in this battle between civilization and barbarism, but at least have the decency to swallow your selective outrage while Israel wages war against the extremist groups seeking to eradicate the values that we all hold very dear.

If the U.N. assembly had invested a tenth of the energy invested in investigating Israel, it would reveal horrific war crimes on the part of Hamas.  The international community has lost its way. This organization was founded to promote morality, truth, and justice. Unfortunately, that is not its mission now.”

http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/08/07/israeli-u-n-envoy-says-international-community-%e2%80%98has-lost-its-way%e2%80%99/

~~~~~~~~~~

Lastly on this issue, I share a superb video by StandWithUs ( With thanks to Bernice S.):
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEQrHkEG4Jo&feature=youtu.be
 
If you share this video broadly it will be great.
 
~~~~~~~~~~

“The head of Hamas in the West Bank since 2010 was recently arrested and was indicted on Thursday in the IDF West Bank Courts for organizing possibly dozens of terror cells for a wave of potential kidnappings, suicide bus bombings and attacks on settlements.

“Arrested on May 27...Riad Natzer, is accused of raising over NIS 1.5 million for terror operations, buying weapons for his operatives and organizing them into cells – each trained for a different kind of terror activity.

“...Known for allegedly running Hamas's terror operations ‘with lust’ for his job, Natzer recruited dozens of operatives and Natzer's arrest also led to the arrests of dozens of those operatives.” 

http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Hamas-West-Bank-head-arrested-indicted-for-planning-wave-of-terror-attacks-370332

~~~~~~~~~~

The above was written Thursday night, but I held off on sending it to see how the situation with Hamas evolved. 

Yesterday, Hamas, unhappy that its demands in the negotiations were not being met, refused to agree to an extension of the ceasefire – although Israel had already done so.  But until this morning it was not entirely clear if that was an attempt at extortion (as Lieberman called it) or a declaration of a genuine intent to start launching rockets again.

Now we know that it was very serious indeed, as Hamas has been launching rockets at the south – at Sderot, Ashkelon, Eshkol, Sha’ar Hanegev, etc. - since 8 AM, which marked the end of the three-day ceasefire.  (Actually, I understand two mortars had been fired before the end of the ceasefire.) As I write, already 35 rockets have been launched.  By the time you read this, it will be much more.

I held my breath for a while, as Israel did not respond immediately. But by about 10 AM the Air Force had begun to return fire. 

Israeli airstrikes in Gaza

Credit: Reuters

~~~~~~~~~~

We have recalled our negotiating teams from Cairo.  Hamas had said it would agree to continue negotiating while it fired rockets.  In their dreams.

Hamas has a problem: its leaders invited destruction upon Gaza with its attacks and promised the population of Gaza that there would be a success in the end that will have made it all worth while.  But they have nothing to show the people.  Thus their shooting persists with a “go for broke” mentality.

I cited an IDF source just the other day that said Hamas had crawled to Cairo on its knees begging for a ceasefire.  Not quite. Hamas may have sought that ceasefire, but only with the intention of securing good terms in the subsequent negotiations.  It is not yet on its knees and it must be brought down if not eliminated. At present it still possess too much strength.  

~~~~~~~~~~

Our troops are still at the border of Gaza and I have no clue as to whether they will be sent in again.  What I do know is that the soldiers themselves are ready and eager.  Netanyahu said there would be a forceful response if Hamas started firing again.  Truly, do I hope so.  No token bombings.

That seems to be what our MKs across the political spectrum are calling for: a very vigorous and determined response, as our deterrence depends upon this.  This is being said by the left as much as the right.

All that I so thoughtfully wrote the other day about how there is an argument for not continuing the fight in Gaza has been rendered moot now.  Currently we are in an “ein breira” (no choice) situation.  It’s not whether we think we should continue to fight or not: We must.

~~~~~~~~~~

Shabbat preparations call to me now. When next I write, there may be a bit more clarity on the situation, and there will be time to make comments about Obama and other players on the diplomatic stage.

~~~~~~~~~~

© 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/2014/8/8/august-8-2014-soldiering-on.html

 

 

Posted on Friday, August 8, 2014 at 09:41AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 6, 2014: With Clear Eyes

I will be posting less frequently now that the war is over – updating my readers often but not necessarily daily on the anticipated negotiations in Cairo and other matters of importance for Israel.
 
But for today, having stepped back for 24 hours plus now to assess the situation and gather information, I want to focus in this posting on how I see our current situation. And to make a couple of pertinent comments:
 
Wishful thinking is an indulgence we cannot permit ourselves now.  What is necessary is to look at the broader picture with eyes wide open.  And to recognize that there is no perfect solution to our very difficult and complex situation.
 
With all the above in mind, I do believe that stopping the war at this point – and heading towards negotiations in Cairo - is probably the best solution for Israel at present.  I write this fully aware of the fact that some strenuously disagree with me and believe Hamas must be taken out.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Indubitably I would have liked to have seen Haniyeh’s head separated from his shoulders.  But I have come to the conclusion that the price of achieving this may be too high right now.
 
The IDF has done an assessment of what would have been required to re-take Gaza and clean it of terrorist elements (that would mean not just Hamas but also al-Qaeda and other jihadists) and remove all weapons:
 
We would have seen many hundreds of our best soldiers killed; as they entered the cesspool of Gaza city, with its network of underground tunnels, there likely would have been numerous kidnappings as well (the worst of nightmares), as terrorists leaped out of tunnels and grabbed them.
 
It is estimated that the entire operation would go on for at least five years.
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/purging-gaza-of-terror-would-take-5-years-cabinet-was-told/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And then there is the issue of the civilian death toll in Gaza.  There are always civilian deaths in war.  And we should not allow ourselves to be manipulated by Hamas’s cruel use of human shields.  (Indeed, even as the war is over, we must continue to present to the world evidence of that tactic and of the moral integrity of Israel’s fight.) 
 
But neither can this factor be totally brushed aside. For the number of dead – some of them children - would have increased enormously.  And the fact is that we Israelis ourselves are not terribly comfortable with this.  I am reminded of the story told very recently by Col. Richard Kemp, who spoke to an Israeli pilot who said he was glad he had had 17 missions aborted because of civilians – he said he didn’t want to have it on his conscience that he had killed a civilian.  We have, indeed, the most moral army in the world, and we need to ask what the corrosive effect on the collective soul (and fighting morale) of Israel would be, were we to pursue a very extended battle here.
 
The concomitant to this is the world’s response. This is the age of TV and video and Internet, and the Western world has no stomach for the sight of bombed babies.  That the response to us is grossly unfair (and colored by anti-Semitism) is a given.  As is the bias of the media, and the way that Hamas stifles fair reporting via threats to journalists inside of Gaza. But, judging by the hammering we’ve endured these past weeks, it’s difficult to even imagine the dimensions of what we’d be dealing with, were the war to continue for years.
 
And the unpalatable fact is that the international response would have ramifications: be it in terms of the deaths being used as a rationale for violent anti-Semitic attacks in Europe and elsewhere, or in terms of damage to our economic growth and ability to sustain ourselves, or attempts at legal delegitimization of Israel.  Perhaps, just perhaps, this needs to be factored into the equation somehow.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Yet concern about civilian deaths and its ramifications is a small matter compared to what I believe is the over-riding concern here:
 
Hamas is not the only enemy we face.  Nor is it remotely the most lethal. 
 
Hezbollah sits at our north in Lebanon with weaponry – including guided missiles! - more sophisticated than that of Hamas.  It is not inclined to attack us now, but we must remain prepared for that possibility. 
 
Were we to become too pre-occupied with military battles in Gaza, it might weaken our ability to face Hezbollah effectively
 
And then there is Hezbollah’s sponsor, Iran. Remember Iran, which sort of fell off the radar screen these past weeks?  We require resources to deal with this threat as well.  Iran has a friend in Obama and the rest of the world sits with its eyes and ears covered.  It may yet fall to Israel to face this threat alone.
 
Nor are these two threats separate, as Iran supports Hezbollah and would surely promote an attack on us from Lebanon, were we to hit.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
My understanding is that we’ve done sufficient damage to Hamas at this point so that efforts to control it without further fighting have a reasonable chance of being successful.  If this were not the case, there would be no excuse for pulling out.  As it is, Hamas, while not out, is badly injured and in an extremely weak negotiating position.
 
Egypt has already rejected several Hamas demands, such as opening of a port and an airport, and is reportedly negative on requests for a crossing from Gaza into Egypt at Rafah.  Nor are we about to lift the sea blockade.  While we will permit goods to go into Gaza (via crossings from Israel), we will monitor them.  Israel will work with Egypt to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza via the Sinai.
 
An Israeli team is already in Cairo and meeting with Egyptian intelligence. Israel maintains the right, at any point, to go back into Gaza should Hamas begin launching rockets again.
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183769#.U-JeE5vlrIV
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Deputy commander of the Nahal Brigade Ori Shechter told Army Radio this morning that Hamas “crawled to Egypt” to beg for a ceasefire. He described Operation Protective Edge as an “overwhelming defeat for Hamas.”
 
http://www.timesofisrael.com/public-skeptical-but-idf-confident-it-trounced-hamas/
 
This is all to the good, but does not addresses the demilitarization that Netanyahu is seeking.  Without some form of demilitarization, keeping Hamas down indefinitely will be problematic.  It may be crawling, but still has leaders and some rockets, and rocket-building know how. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
As was anticipated, that consummate diplomat, John Kerry, is back pushing “the two state solution” again.  No point in wasting time. He is seeking a "bigger, broader approach to the underlying solution of two states" and suggests negotiations on this be tied to the negotiations with Hamas.
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183765#.U-Jmn5vlrIV
 
There are more holes in this approach than there are in a bath sponge.  There is a Jewish saying; You cannot ride on two horses with one tuchis.  But indeed this is what Abbas is attempting to do.  He represents himself as the moderate in contrast with the radicals of Hamas, but he is defending Hamas and seeks to join in negotiations in Cairo at the side of Hamas.  What makes it all the more ludicrous is that Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah have a “unity agreement” that Abbas has not chosen to disavow.  One tuchis, two horses.
 
There is some poorly conceived scheme afoot to put Abbas and his PA in control again in Gaza, at least partially.  I think very few have a clear conceptualization of what is involved here.  When Hamas took over Gaza from the PA, the PA forces fled or refused to fight.  Yes, they are better trained now (thanks to the US), but still cannot even protect the PA administered areas of Judea and Samaria without considerable assistance from the IDF.
 
PA involvement in Gaza would be used by the likes of Kerry to further promote that “two state” vision, as now in theory all of the Palestinian Arabs would be under the same administrative umbrella.  But it can also work to Israel’s advantage, as the PA has obligations, under the Oslo Accords, to eliminate weapons not on the list of those specified as permissible by the Accords.  You had better believe rockets are not on that list, and Abbas would have accountability for removing them.
 
Stay tuned here...
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Breaking news:

“Israeli security officials on Tuesday evening announced the arrest of the chief of a Hamas cell, who has confessed to organizing the abduction and murder of three Israeli teens a month-and-a-half ago.

“Hussam Kawasma, who arranged the three-man cell which kidnapped Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Sha’ar and Naftali Fraenkel from a hitch hiking post south of Jerusalem on the night of July 12,  was arrested several weeks ago.

“He was caught trying to flee to Jordan, according to The Jerusalem Post.

“The State Prosecutor said Kawasma told investigators that he funded, found weapons, and helped bury the bodies on land he’d recently purchased.

“Under interrogation, Kawasma admitted that the operation, whose brutality shocked the Israeli public, received training and funding from Hamas handlers in Gaza, according to Army radio. (Emphasis added)

“Officials said he is related to one of the kidnappers.

“The other  two cell members are still at large.”

http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/08/05/breaking-israel-arrests-leader-of-hamas-cell-responsible-for-kidnapping-and-murder-of-three-teens/

Husam Kawasma, who was a resident of Hevron, was arrested in the Arab neighborhood of Shuafat in Jerusalem in a joint operation involving IDF forces and the Shabak.  The other two cell members are Marwan Kawasma, 30 and Amar Abu-Eisha, 32.

~~~~~~~~~~

The IDF in Gaza captured a training manual that describes the advisability of using human shields.  See it here (and thanks to the many people who sent me this link):
 
http://www.wiesenthal.com/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=lsKWLbPJLnF&b=4441467&ct=14144177#.U-Juy2flrIV
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© 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. 

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/8/7/august-6-2014-with-clear-eyes.html


 

Posted on Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 06:40AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 5, 2014: And Now?

I am chagrinned but not exactly shocked by the latest turn of events here. 

As Shabbat went out, I had expressed surprise that – following the Friday ceasefire broken almost immediately by Hamas with an attack that included a suicide bombing and the kidnapping of Hadar Goldin – Netanyahu had not ordered a significant escalation of the operation in Gaza. When it was clear that what was happening was that IDF troops were being pulled back, a sense of great unease set in.  It seemed the operation was about to be terminated in a move that many – myself very much included - saw as premature.

But no, we were told that it was just a redeployment, because the tunnel phase of the operation was complete.  We were told that the decision of the Security Cabinet was to continue the operation.  What is more, there would be no participation in internationally promoted ceasefires, and we would not be going to Cairo to negotiate: If Hamas cannot be trusted to honor its commitment for a 72 hour ceasefire, there is no point in pursuing negotiations, went the explanation.

~~~~~~~~~~

What happened following this announcement was that the Palestinian Arab factions – Hamas, the PA, etc. – met in Cairo without Israel and put forth their jointly arrived at and ludicrous demands.  They hadn’t simply said – as one might expect - that if Israel would not be participating there would be no point in proceeding. They proceeded.  And this was cause for great unease regarding the likelihood of Israel’s joining the talks. Never mind the protests from the Israeli government that we were continuing to do battle in Gaza. 

The pressure for Israel to come participate was huge as a result of how the situation was set up.  Israel had wanted Egypt to mediate, with both Turkey and Qatar frozen out of the picture.  And that was actually happening.  Was Netanyahu going to leave Egypt’s al-Sisi with egg on his face – thus taking the chance that our newly positive relationship with Egypt would be soured?  Egypt, along with the US, was calling on Israel to come to Cairo.

~~~~~~~~~~

All of this transpired within the course of three days.  Late yesterday it was announced that Israel and Hamas had jointly agreed to an Egyptian sponsored three-day ceasefire. 

Whoa.

And then it was announced that if the ceasefire held Israel would be pulling out of Gaza completely and joining talks in Cairo.

So far the ceasefire is holding...  When and if our troops are pulled out, they will be deployed on the Israeli side of the border, prepared to go back in immediately if necessary.

What Netanyahu said was that we had accomplished our primary goal of destroying all tunnels that had been discovered that led into the south of Israel; various technologies were being examined for use on the Israeli side of the border to prevent new tunnels from being dug.

Additionally, Hamas had taken a significant hit with regard to depletion of its rocket supplies and infrastructure.  And 1,000 Hamas terrorists had been killed.

~~~~~~~~~~

The question lingers in the air, however, as to whether that significant hit on Hamas was strong enough.  The major leaders remain alive, and will come out of their tunnels prepared to rebuild for the next attack.  Some one-third of their weaponry remains (which means, it is estimated, over 3,000 rockets).

There was a disinclination on the part of the government to take over Gaza again and take down Hamas entirely.  I will not revisit here again in detail the relevant questions touching upon whether truly taking out Hamas would have been a good thing. Key among these is the question of whether it would have paved the way for a take-over by al-Qaeda.  But there is also the issue of the burden that would be imposed on Israel were we to take over Gaza, and the specter of horrendous fighting in Gaza City.

What remains with me, however, is a conviction that Hamas – if not entirely eliminated – should have been sufficiently taken down so that it acceded on our terms.  I am vastly uncomfortable with the whole concept of having to give Hamas – a terror organization that has been attacking us – something in return for securing its quiet. And that’s what is implied in negotiations.  Not only is it wrong, it gives them a “win.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Netanyahu’s goal right now, as I have been writing, is to tie the rebuilding of Gaza to the demilitarization of Hamas.  Hamas, clearly, is not about to invite us, or international forces, in to seize its rockets (most of which are hidden in very deep tunnels or in civilian facilities).  What Hamas leaders are suggesting obliquely is that if the blockade of its coastline were lifted and all crossings to Gaza were opened, it might consider this.  But what we would have then is a situation in which rockets would be removed only to be replaced by more sophisticated ones, supplied by Iran and N. Korea, and brought through its open borders. In addition to this is the need to contend with the ability of Hamas to manufacture its own rockets.

Clearly, this is a vastly complex issue that will require close examination in coming posts.  Hamas’s goal remains the same: To destroy Israel.

~~~~~~~~~~

What we do know is that Egypt would be delighted to see Hamas demilitarized, as would several Sunni Arab countries, starting with Saudi Arabia, and the EU.  What support Israel will receive in this matter remains to be seen.

On a positive note, I observe a couple of things:  It is my understanding that once the Palestinian Arab contingent came to Cairo, Netanyahu and al-Sisi were in touch daily.  It occurs to me that our government may have already received certain reassurances from Egypt that encouraged Netanyahu to go ahead in agreeing to negotiations.

Then I have noticed that those elements within the government, and more specifically within the Security Cabinet, who have been pushing for a hard stand against Hamas have been very quiet with this latest announcement.  I have in mind, for example, Lieberman.  I did pick up one statement by Bennett, but it was fairly subdued and had to do with hoping Hamas did not renege on the ceasefire again.  This prompts me to speculate about what they know, that may be reassuring.

~~~~~~~~~~

We have lost 64 of our treasured boys in the war with Hamas, and the tone of the nation is subdued.  What has been observed over and over again is the valiant and, indeed, noble, way in which mourning families have conducted themselves. I salute every soldier – we have the very finest and most selfless - and every family.

image

I have been told that 27 young women who were engaged to soldiers are now bereft.

~~~~~~~~~~

One thing we are going to be confronting, even with the ceasefire, is on-going unrest and violence on the part of segments of the Israeli Arab population.  We have a fifth column inside our country, and Hamas will be pushing them on.  In the last 24 hours or so, we’ve seen three terror attacks in Jerusalem:

Yesterday afternoon, a terrorist driving a tractor (heavy excavation equipment) in the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood drove into a bus – which was, thankfully, empty. The bus turned over and the driver was injured; a passerby was killed. The terrorist was shot and killed.

About three hours later, a soldier on Mt. Scopus was shot in the stomach multiple time, and critically injured.  I have not heard that they caught the terrorist.

Today, just hours ago, a security guard at the entrance to Ma’ale Adumim – just outside of Jerusalem to the east - was stabbed and moderately hurt.  I believe the terrorist, who drove away, has been apprehended.

~~~~~~~~~~

The other day I put up a link to a YouTube that showed an interview with an Arab mother whose baby was being treated in an Israeli hospital. She speaks very openly about embracing death and the honor of being a shahid (martyr) for Jerusalem. She would gladly see her young son go this route.

I had asked that you help it go viral, but, as many wrote to point out, it was taken down.  I now have another longer (7 minute) and even more effective version of the video – more effective because it also shows the kindness to her of Israeli medical staff.  (With thanks to Fred E.)

If you haven’t seen it yet, please do so.  And please! I ask everyone who reads this to send it out to at least three people.  People need to understand what we are dealing with.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrKFbsnvTw8

~~~~~~~~~~

I am getting a great deal of wonderful email messages from readers telling me about pro-Israel demonstrations in various places.  Love it, but cannot mention them all or run all the videos showing them.

But I will close here – as Tisha B’Av comes to a close as well – with this lovely video about a spontaneous pro-Israel rally in the Diamond District of NYC:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152279672417689

~~~~~~~~~~

© 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/2014/8/5/august-5-2014-and-now.html

 

Posted on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 02:08PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 4, 2014: Let Us Draw Strength

Tonight begins Tisha B’Av, the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar.  It marks the day of the destruction of our two Temples and a number of other national calamities.
 

 
 
On this day we fast and mourn, read the Book of Lamentations. 
 
We also look to the religious meaning in our lives, our purpose, and examine ourselves in terms of our proper conduct.
 
I had not planned to post at all today. And even though, in the end, I decided to send out this short posting, I will still avoid news and political analysis. There will always be time to return to this.
 
Instead, I am writing to share a beautiful message from Warren Goldstein, Chief Rabbi of South Africa (with thanks to Diana S. and Rebecca M.).
 
http://youtu.be/T7cN8p33328

It is a message we need to hear at this difficult time.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
We are taught that Tisha B’Av derives from the Sin of the Spies (Meraglim): Moses sent spies to check out the land of Ca’anan, before the people of Israel were to enter.  They returned, and 10 of the 12 who had been sent told the people, we cannot do this, we will not succeed.  But the key phrase is that, “We were like grasshoppers in our eyes.”  We felt ourselves small and so others saw us as small.
 
This is the ultimate lesson for these difficult times – that we not see ourselves as small in our own eyes, and that we believe in what it is possible for us to do, and what we are meant to be doing, with the help of the Almighty.
 
Tradition also tells us that the Moshiach will be born on Tisha B’Av. Thus the symbol of ultimate hope and redemption.

Credit: Keep Jerusalem
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© 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/2014/8/4/august-4-2014-let-us-draw-strength.html

 

 

Posted on Monday, August 4, 2014 at 05:31PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint