Thursday, July 31, 2014

Forty big questions for the international media in Gaza

40. Is international media reporting from Gaza free from pressure and intimidation, or is there a real problem – and if so, how will you address it?

Saul O.
Harry's Place..
31 July '14..

1. Have you or any of your colleagues been intimidated by Hamas?

2. Do you feel restricted in your ability to ‘say what you see’ in Gaza?

3. How do you feel about the Spanish journalist who said Hamas would kill any journalist if they filmed rocket fire?

4. Has Hamas pressured you to delete anything you have published?

5. Has Hamas ever threatened to take your phone, laptop or camera?

6. Has Hamas ever taken the phone, laptop or camera of a colleague in Gaza?

7. Have you seen Hamas fighters in Gaza?

8. If yes, why have you not directly reported Hamas fighting activity when you are eye-witnesses in Gaza, but rather indirectly reported about what the IDF says Hamas has done?

9. Are you scared to publish photos of Hamas operatives on your Twitter page, or broadcast images of Hamas fighting and aggression on your news channel?

10. Have you published any photos of terrorists launching rockets in Gaza? If so, are these images being turned down by your newspaper or broadcaster?

(Ten Down, Thirty to Go. Continue)

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Destroying the Last Remaining Justification for Gaza Pullout

...To be clear, I never liked the argument that saving soldiers’ lives was worth the cost of incessant rocket fire on the south; soldiers are supposed to put their lives on the line to protect civilians, not the other way around. But I understand why it was so persuasive to many Israelis: Almost every Israeli has a father, husband, brother, or son in the army, while far fewer have relatives and friends in rocket-battered southern communities; thus many Israelis felt they personally benefited from the tradeoff, even if other Israelis were paying the price. Now, however, even that illusion is gone...

Evelyn Gordon..
Commentary Magazine..
31 July '14..

Has anyone noticed that the last remaining justification for Israel’s unilateral pullout from the Gaza Strip has just disappeared? Proponents’ claims that the pullout would bring peace, security, and international support have long since been disproven; what it actually brought was 16,500 rockets and mortars fired at Israel from Gaza–including 13,800 before the current war began–and unprecedented international vitriol every time Israel tried to fight back (see the current anti-Semitic pogroms in Europe or the infamous Goldstone Report). Yet disengagement supporters still had one trump card to play: “At least our soldiers aren’t dying in Gaza anymore.” And to many Israelis, that gain was worth the terrible price.

But now, Israeli soldiers are once again dying in Gaza, at a rate that wipes out all the gains of the previous few years. Here are the figures, compiled from B’Tselem statistics:

Between the start of the second intifada, in September 2000, and the pullout in August 2005, 87 Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza. Over the next eight years, it’s not true that no soldiers died in Gaza, but military fatalities did drop significantly: Altogether, 33 soldiers were killed either in Gaza or in southern Israel by fire from Gaza.

Even that “achievement” is actually an indictment of the disengagement, because in the West Bank, which Israel didn’t quit, military fatalities fell far more sharply: from 136 between September 2000 and August 2005 to just 13 in the subsequent nine years. But since Operation Protective Edge began earlier this month, even this meager gain has disappeared: 53 soldiers have so far been killed in or by attacks from Gaza, and the number will likely continue climbing as the operation progresses. In other words, Gaza has now claimed 86 military fatalities from Israel since the pullout–almost identical to the 87 it claimed during the second intifada–even as military fatalities have fallen sharply in the West Bank.

In contrast, had the Israel Defense Forces remained in Gaza, military fatalities would almost certainly have registered a decline similar to that in the West Bank, because Hamas wouldn’t have been able do either of the two things that are now costing so many soldiers their lives: smuggle in vast quantities of sophisticated weaponry or build an extensive network of attack tunnels.

Maybe it’s easier to see from Jerusalem than from Washington

Wheels up to Israel in

Vic Rosenthal..
Abu Yehuda..
30 July '14..

As you can see from the counter at the top ....., I will be returning to live in Israel in a few days, after 26 years in California. A few weeks ago, when it wasn’t clear that the Iron Dome system would work as well as it has, I was hearing remarks like “hmm, is this a good time?” or “don’t forget to duck.” But these have stopped. Now what I hear are comparative casualty numbers, and suggestions that maybe Israel is going a bit too far, and maybe Israel should try harder to fight a war without hurting anybody.

Before I continue, because I really do want to talk about moving back to Israel, here are a few things to keep in mind about the unequal casualty figures:

1. Palestinian numbers come from Palestinian sources beholden to Hamas, and are wildly exaggerated. 
2. Hamas counts every Palestinian as a civilian and anyone less than about age 20 as a ‘child’. 
3. Analysis based on lists of names from Palestinian sources, information about funerals, from Facebook pages, etc., shows that about half of them are probably combatants. This is supported by age and sex distributions (most casualties are males of fighting age, despite the fact that half of all Gazans are women and 34% of them are under the age of 15). 
4. Hamas does its best to prevent Gaza residents from obeying IDF warnings to leave areas that will be bombed. This is a war crime. 
5. The tunnels and fortifications that Hamas has built are used to shelter fighters, rockets and weapons — not civilians. 
6. Israel has spent billions on a missile defense system and shelters for its people. Hamas has spent zero and deliberately launches rockets and fires mortars from places where civilians, especially children, are found (another war crime). 
7. Many Hamas rockets fall short or misfire, causing deaths and destruction in Gaza. 
8. A ratio of 1 civilian to 1 combatant casualty in close urban warfare is equal to or superior than the record of other Western armies, including NATO and the US in recent wars.

So I am tired of hearing about the ‘genocidal’ behavior of the IDF for which these numbers are supposedly evidence. They are not — they actually point to the very great care that the IDF is taking to protect innocents while fighting a defensive war that it had no choice but to fight.

I am sick of reading this ugly lie in letters to the editor, hearing it implied if not made explicit in news reports. I am disgusted by the anti-Israel demonstrations that veer into Jew-hatred that is supposedly justified by Israel’s ‘brutality’ and ‘disproportionate’ actions.

And I am beyond exasperation when it is announced that our President is “increasingly concerned” by the number of “innocent Gazans” hurt, and — as always — wants to stop the fighting before Israel wins a decisive victory.

Hamas must be destroyed now by Shlomo Gazit

...The battle against the tunnels will not stop this threat and will not disrupt it. It only diverted us from addressing the major threat before us.

Dr. Aaron Lerner..

Hamas must be destroyed now
By Shlomo Gazit, General (ret.), former head of Military Intelligence
[Translation by IMRA. Origin Hebrew distributed by Shlomo Gazit to his distribution list.]
30 July 2014
IMRA note: Shlomo Gazit, General (ret.) is a leading and prominent member of the Israeli ex-brass in the Israeli "Peace Camp"

Even if we take the optimistic point of view and assume that IDF forces won't leave the Gaza Strip unless we know that all the attack tunnels, to the very last one, were destroyed (and I make this assumption despite the clear cut assertion of IDF officials that they cannot ensure this), what is to prevent Hamas forces from repairing the damage and digging new tunnels, on new routes, tens or hundreds of meters alongside the previous route? Our battle against Hamas will not end on 2014. The new tunnels could be for offensive operation in 2016 or 2017.

We have neither attacked nor defeated Hamas. If we fail to hurt the Hamas leadership with such damage that they are unable to restore and renew their military capabilities - or alternatively reach an agreement with Hamas - we have not achieved anything. To reiterate - Hamas will succeed to organize and be better prepared for Operation Protective Edge 2, in a year, two years or three years. Hamas will do its very best to make it difficult for the IDF to re-enter.

And on another front, and I will not elaborate, it is very possible that the international community will be less sympathetic to Israel in the next war.

This is a serious and existential threat facing us today and this threat must be destroyed today.

The battle against the tunnels will not stop this threat and will not disrupt it.

It only diverted us from addressing the major threat before us.



IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Since 1992 providing news and analysis on the Middle East with a focus on Arab-Israeli relations


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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Israeli Farmers Remain Hopeful Despite Rockets and Tunnels

...For farmers, the story is different. "As a farmer, it's not so simple to move away," says Cohen. "This is not only our home, but our livelihood as well. The farmers stay here no matter what -- we have to take care of the livestock, cows, crops, and fields. We can't just leave all this behind."

Anav Silverman..
The World Post..
29 July '14..

KIBBUTZ EIN HASHLOSHA -- For Danny Cohen of Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, it is hope that keeps the 50-year-old farmer living on the Gaza border.

Originally from Argentina, Cohen is the head of the kibbutz's emergency response team and is among the 60 kibbutz members who have remained on the kibbutz despite the rocket fire and Hamas infiltrations into the region. The rest of the 300 kibbutz residents have temporarily left, seeking relief in central and northern Israel.

"In the last few years, half of the homes on the kibbutz have been struck by rockets, both by direct hits or by shrapnel from rocket explosions fired from Gaza," Cohen told Tazpit News Agency. "There is not one neighborhood on this kibbutz that has not been struck by a rocket."

A home in the Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel directly hit by Gaza rocket on July 26. Photo: Eshkol Regional Council
Cohen points to the most recent house that has been directly hit by a rocket over a week ago, July 17. The blue sky can been seen through a wide gaping hole penetrating the ceiling of the living room and bedroom, which are now full of debris, where a Gaza rocket explosion left its devastating mark.

Chaya Pachuk, the 84-year-old grandmother who lives in the now partially destroyed house, was not home at the time of the rocket strike. Photos of Pachuk's grandchildren and children are among the dust and debris.

Pachuk, who was born in Uruguay, was one of the founding members of Ein Hashlosha. She made aliyah before the founding of the state of Israel and helped establish the Gaza border kibbutz with her husband in 1950. Two days before the rocket strike, Pachuk had gone to her son in Tel Aviv, who had asked his elderly mother to stay with his family during the war.

Chaya Pachuk's living room, directly hit by Gaza rocket, 2.5 kilometers away from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, July 17. Credit: Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency

"We called Chaya to let her know what had happened," Cohen told Tazpit. "She told us that everything would be fine -- that she would come and sweep up the mess herself with a broom and dustpan. She doesn't realize that she can't sleep in her bedroom because only part of the ceiling remains."

"It's been very difficult for the elderly members of the kibbutz to accept what is happening," Cohen explains. "They can't process the reality of what the rockets are doing to their homes and communities. They are in a kind of denial."

Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, which is 2.5 kilometers away from the Gaza border, is located in the Eshkol Regional Council, which has been the target of over 500 rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip since the war began nearly three weeks ago. "This is one of the most heaviest-hit areas in southern Israel," says Cohen of Ein Hashlosha.

The How and Why of Europe's Good Intentions Harming Gaza

...When Europeans finally find the courage to conduct full, independent and credible investigations of these policies, the reports will make tragic reading. This could take some time. The European Parliament in 2004 ordered the EU's Anti-Fraud Office to investigate previous funding for Yasser Arafat. A decade later, that report remains top secret—a blatant affront to democratic principles.

Gerald M. Steinberg..
WSJ Opinion Europe..
29 July '14..


In response to the latest outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas, European leaders have issued the familiar calls for peace and made the usual four-hour pilgrimages to the region. Yet little has come out of this European engagement, with the Continent remaining "a payer, not a player" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

If anything, the war between Hamas and the Jewish state can in part be blamed on the massive and unaccountable aid Europeans have poured into the Palestinian territories. The European Union and its 28 member states continue to channel millions of euros, pounds and kroner annually to both Hamas-controlled Gaza and the West Bank, without responsible supervision, transparency or oversight.

In Gaza, instead of building schools and developing a functioning economy, Hamas diverted resources into the two main local "industries": acquiring thousands of missiles and building a huge underground infrastructure designed to terrorize Israeli civilians. The miles of concrete-lined strategic tunneling under houses, schools and hospitals are estimated to have cost €1 billion, which wouldn't have been available without European aid.

The EU's Court of Auditors issued a detailed evaluation of aid to the Palestinians in December 2013. Yet the contributions to the war industry were noticeably missing. The report discussed the EU's project for private-sector reconstruction in Gaza, which pays for buildings "destroyed or damaged during the Israeli 'Operation Cast Lead' offensive of 2008." But there was no mention of the role of these structures as facades for the underground maze. Auditors visited Shifa hospital in Gaza City, but their report doesn't mention the concrete bunkers below the emergency room, which house a Hamas military command center, according to Israeli officials.

By contrast, the report repeated the standard EU slogans condemning Israel for trying to protect its citizens from Hamas attacks, writing that "restrictions on Gaza are particularly severe." Framing the conflict this way promotes the Palestinian-victimization narrative, which is then translated into intense pressure on the Jewish state to relax restrictions. When Israel accedes to such demands, Hamas accelerates its acquisition of thousands of missiles and the transformation of Gaza into an underground terror fortress.

The Not So Top Secret Hamas Command Bunker in Gaza Revealed

...What Hamas has done, therefore, is to turn Shifa Hospital into a Hollywood sound-stage filled with real, live war victims who are used to score propaganda points, while the terrorists inside the hospital itself are erased from photographs and news accounts through a combination of pressure and threats, in order to produce the stories that Hamas wants. So if reporters aren’t entirely to blame for participating in this sick charade, then who is? The answer is...

Hanging washed laundry to dry near
makeshift tents on July 27, 2014 in
the garden of Al-Shifa hospital in
Gaza City. 
(Getty Images)
Tablet Staff Notes..
Tablet Magazine..
29 July '14..

The idea that one of Hamas’ main command bunkers is located beneath Shifa Hospital in Gaza City is one of the worst-kept secrets of the Gaza war. So why aren’t reporters in Gaza ferreting it out? The precise location of a large underground bunker equipped with sophisticated communications equipment and housing some part of the leadership of a major terrorist organization beneath a major hospital would seem to qualify as a world-class scoop—the kind that might merit a Pulitzer, or at least a Polk.

So why isn’t the fact that Hamas uses Shifa Hospital as a command post making headlines? In part, it’s because the location is so un-secret that Hamas regularly meets with reporters there. On July 15, for example, William Booth of the Washington Post wrote that the hospital “has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices.” Back in 2006, PBS even aired a documentary showing how gunmen roam the halls of the hospital, intimidate the staff, and deny them access to protected locations within the building—where the camera crew was obviously prohibited from filming. Yet the confirmation that Hamas is using Gaza City’s biggest hospital as its de facto headquarters was made in the last sentence of the eighth paragraph of Booth’s story—which would appear to be the kind of rookie mistake that is known in journalistic parlance as “burying the lede.”

But Booth is no rookie—he’s an experienced foreign reporter, which means that he buried the lede on purpose. Why? Well, one reason might be that the “security sources” quoted whenever the location of the Hamas command bunker is mentioned—which, as evidenced by this 2009 article by the excellent and highly experienced foreign correspondent Steven Erlanger of the New York Times, happens every time there’s a war in Gaza—are obviously Israelis, not members of Hamas. It might be hard to believe the Israelis, the simple logic might run, since they obviously have an investment in arguing that Hamas is using hospitals and schools as human shields.

The Israelis are so sure about the location of the Hamas bunker, however, not because they are trying to score propaganda points, or because it has been repeatedly mentioned in passing by Western reporters—but because they built it. Back in 1983, when Israel still ruled Gaza, they built a secure underground operating room and tunnel network beneath Shifa hospital—which is one among several reasons why Israeli security sources are so sure that there is a main Hamas command bunker in or around the large cement basement beneath the area of Building 2 of the Hospital, which reporters are obviously prohibited from entering.

The Question: Is There Something Worse Than Hamas?

...Given the difficulty and the cost of a campaign that would completely eliminate Hamas or to replace it as the government of Gaza it may well be that Flynn’s nightmare will never be realized. Hamas thinks it is in no danger and statements such as that of the general and the willingness of the U.S. to embrace cease-fire proposals that would grant it an undeserved victory only strengthen their conviction that they can continue to fight with impunity. But using this argument to bolster Hamas’s hold on power is a terrible error. The only way to end the conflict is to demilitarize Gaza. The only way to do that is to eliminate Hamas.

Lt. General Michael Flynn
Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
29 July '14..

Critics of the Pentagon, and indeed of all defense establishments, have often quipped that the term “military intelligence” is an oxymoron. As a general rule, that sort of comment is as inaccurate as it is unfair. But Lt. General Michael Flynn, the outgoing head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, bolstered this assumption by declaring that the destruction of the Hamas terrorist government of Gaza would lead to something worse.

General Flynn warned that if Israel is seeking to either decapitate Hamas, remove it from power, or to eliminate it altogether, that might not be a smart move. He asserted that Hamas would be replaced by something far more radical and, by definition, more dangerous to both Israel and the rest of the world.

As Reuters reports:

“If Hamas were destroyed and gone, we would probably end up with something much worse. The region would end up with something much worse,” Flynn said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

“A worse threat that would come into the sort of ecosystem there … something like ISIS,” he added, referring to the Islamic State, which last month declared an “Islamic caliphate” in territory it controls in Iraq and Syria.

Is he right?

It is a reliable rule of existence on this planet than whenever you think things can’t get worse, they often do become even more unbearable. But that piece of general life wisdom aside, the argument that behind Hamas lurks more dangerous groups is not only unsubstantiated; to believe it you have to ignore everything we already know about Hamas.

As far as the possibility of more radical Islamists replacing Hamas, there is no question that the prospect of al-Qaeda-related groups becoming the address for Palestinian “resistance” to Israel’s existence would be scary for the West. Perhaps this fear is based on an assumption that they would not be content with slaughtering Jews as Hamas and Islamic Jihad attempt to do but would instead concentrate on killing Americans. But does anyone in the U.S.—even the spooks in the Pentagon—really believe that al-Qaeda types in the Middle East are not already doing their best to attack America right now?

Any group that replaced Hamas as the Islamist rival to the more secular Fatah would be competing in the same Palestinian political universe that grants credibility to groups that attack Israel, not Western targets. Whatever followed Hamas would not be a freelance Islamist terror group such as those in the Arabian Peninsula or North Africa but a Palestinian entity that would seek to escalate the fight against the Jewish presence in the country, not a scattered campaign against the West elsewhere.

But leaving that issue aside, the problem with Flynn’s thinking is that the more one looks at Hamas’s behavior, the harder it is to argue that there could be something that would be qualitatively worse in terms of conflict escalation or human rights.

Arguing the Palestinian side, making the case for barbarism.

...Or maybe he was just another victim of what I call the Palestine Effect: The abrupt and often total collapse of logical reasoning, skeptical intelligence and ordinary moral judgment whenever the subject of Palestinian suffering arises.

Ben Rhodes, a White House
victim of the Palestine Effect. 
mandel ngan/Agence France-Presse/
Getty Images
Bret Stephens..
Wall Street Journal..
28 July '14..

Of all the inane things that have been said about the war between Israel and Hamas, surely one dishonorable mention belongs to comments made over the weekend by Benjamin J. Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.

Interviewed by CNN's Candy Crowley, Mr. Rhodes offered the now-standard administration line that Israel has a right to defend itself but needs to do more to avoid civilian casualties. Ms. Crowley interjected that, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Jewish state was already doing everything it could to avoid such casualties.

"I think you can always do more," Mr. Rhodes replied. "The U.S. military does that in Afghanistan."

How inapt is this comparison? The list of Afghan civilians accidentally killed by U.S. or NATO strikes is not short. Little of the fighting in Afghanistan took place in the dense urban environments that make the current warfare in Gaza so difficult. The last time the U.S. fought a Gaza-style battle—in Fallujah in 2004—some 800 civilians perished and at least 9,000 homes were destroyed. This is not an indictment of U.S. conduct in Fallujah but an acknowledgment of the grim reality of city combat.

Oh, and by the way, American towns and cities were not being rocketed from above or tunneled under from below as the Fallujah campaign was under way.

Maybe Mr. Rhodes knows all this and was merely caught out mouthing the sorts of platitudes that are considered diplomatically de rigueur when it comes to the Palestinians. Or maybe he was just another victim of what I call the Palestine Effect: The abrupt and often total collapse of logical reasoning, skeptical intelligence and ordinary moral judgment whenever the subject of Palestinian suffering arises.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mr. President, about those humanitarian cease fires

...Speaking of "humanitarian," it's been a bit difficult to hear this word so many times over the past few days. This is a word, Mr. President, that does not even appear in the Hamas lexicon.

Boaz Bismuth..
Israel Hayom..
29 July '14..

Perhaps there was someone in Jerusalem who agreed with U.S. President Barack Obama's (strange) demands for a "humanitarian cease fire without pre-conditions," and his consent (really, thank you so much Mr. President) for Israel's demand to make a Gaza a weapons-free zone, but only within the framework of a future final-status accord.

Israel, it must be remembered, already agreed to six cease-fire proposals since the onset of Operation Protective Edge, including the Egyptian proposal that preceded the ground incursion. Hamas violated every single one. Incidentally, it was Hamas on Monday that perhaps solved the Israeli dilemma whether to say yes to the American proposal or not. The terrorist organization from Gaza, with its resumption of attacks on Monday, made Obama's proposal, much like Secretary of State John Kerry's proposal on Friday, unrealistic. If Obama wants to blame anyone, with all due respect let him turn to Hamas.

Hamas does not want a cease-fire. It continues to fire at Israeli population centers, and leaves the IDF without a choice: We are not stopping until we have victory, a clear one. Extremists of Hamas' ilk are not a rare breed in this neighborhood. God help us if they do not understand that the IDF's only option is victory.

On Monday, Hamas did not want to stop shooting because of Obama's failure to understand that he upgraded the terrorist group during his phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In doing so, the American president damaged Israeli deterrence, thereby ensuring the next round of fighting.

The recurring question. Is Gaza legally occupied by Israel? No.

...In short, anyone who claims Israel occupies Gaza is making an argument that no one has ever made in respect to occupation anywhere else in the world. It proves yet again that when it comes to Israel, the very definitions of words are uniquely different for Israel.

Elder of Ziyon..
29 July '14..

A number of so-called "fact checks" have been written that claim (among other things) that Israel legally occupies Gaza.

This is a topic I have discussed many times, so here are the highlights.

The Hague Conventions definition of 1907 is the only legal definition of occupation. That's it. The Fourth Geneva Conventions does not define it at all.

And here it is:

Art. 42. Territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army.

The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised.

Amnesty International expanded on this definition when the US invaded Iraq:

The sole criterion for deciding the applicability of the law on belligerent occupation is drawn from facts: the de facto effective control of territory by foreign armed forces coupled with the possibility to enforce their decisions, and the de facto absence of a national governmental authority in effective control. If these conditions are met for a given area, the law on belligerent occupation applies. Even though the objective of the military campaign may not be to control territory, the sole presence of such forces in a controlling position renders applicable the law protecting the inhabitants. The occupying power cannot avoid its responsibilities as long as a national government is not in a position to carry out its normal tasks.


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Darkening clouds this side of Gaza

Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
28 July '14..

For Israelis, the disturbing signs of an armed terrorist insurrection emerging from multiple quarters among the Arabs who shares our cities, hospitals and buses - the non-Gaza Arabs - are mounting and becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. A small and random selection:

A Mahmoud Abbas speech signals preparations for war

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas ended a speech about the current conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza with a quote from the Quran justifying war. His Fatah party interpreted Abbas' statement to mean that fighting against Israel is justified on religious Islamic grounds: "[PA] President [Mahmoud Abbas] concluded his brief speech with the first verse of the Quran that permits Muslims to wage war for Allah." [Facebook, "Fatah - The Main Page", July 22, 2014] [Source: Palestinian Media Watch | July 24, 2014]


Updates throughout the day at If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.Twitter updates at LoveoftheLand as well as our Love of the Land page at Facebook which has additional pieces of interest besides that which is posted on the blog. Check-it out!

Why It Gets Personal - Kerry v. Israel

...On Iran, Syria, and Russia, Kerry has done little to advance U.S. interests or to protect human rights. But with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he has done worse than that. Having set the region up for conflict, he is now doing everything possible to ensure that the violence will continue at some point in the future by allowing Hamas to survive and even claim victory. Seen from that perspective, his good intentions and the insults being thrown his way from Israelis are mere footnotes to a historic legacy of failure.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
28 July '14..

The Obama administration is fuming about the anger in Israel about Secretary of State John Kerry’s bumbling efforts to negotiate a cease-fire in Gaza. But while senior U.S. officials are claiming the attacks on Kerry from Israelis across the political spectrum puts the relationship between the two countries in jeopardy, the change in tune today from Kerry in his statements about the goals of negotiations illustrated just how deep is the hole that he has dug for himself and the United States in the current crisis.

After delivering demands to Israel that amounted to an American surrender to Hamas, in a speech delivered this morning Kerry said that “demilitarization” of Gaza was a necessary element of hopes for peace. He’s right about that, but after seeking to hamstring Israeli efforts to halt Hamas rocket fire and to eliminate the tunnel network they use to store their arsenal and to launch cross-border attacks on Israeli targets, the umbrage that administration figures are expressing about the reaction to the secretary’s behavior is unjustified.

The fact that it has become personal between Kerry and Israel does neither country any good and that is why even though the anger in the Jewish state at the secretary was universal, Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., rightly sought to disassociate his government from any personal attacks on Kerry today. But as with previous tiffs in which the administration expressed anger about criticism of the secretary, the focus on defending Kerry’s honor or good intentions is beside the point. Though he continues to pose as the tireless worker for peace that is being unfairly targeted for his even-handed approach, it’s time to realize that Kerry actually deserves a not inconsiderable share of the blame for the situation.

Even if we are to credit Kerry, as Dermer suggests, for his good intentions, the secretary deserves every bit of the opprobrium that has been leveled at him by Israelis from the right to the left.

Kerry’s disastrous intervention in the current fighting demonstrated the utter and complete incoherence of the position that he has carved out for the United States. On the one hand, Kerry has prioritized the effort to create a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But by seeking to save Hamas by granting it concessions in the form of open borders rather than forcing the demilitarization that he belatedly endorsed, Kerry is making such a peace deal impossible.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hamas"s raison-d"être is war on Jews

...The West needs to understand that there is no compromise with Hamas short of it being disarmed, overthrown and replaced by a more responsible government. As long as Hamas rules Gaza, peace between Israel and the Palestinians will be no more than a short interlude between wars. Permanent peace will remain as elusive as a trail of rocket smoke.

Point of No Return..
28 July '14..

In spite of saturation press and media coverage of the Gaza conflict, rarely are Hamas's objectives put in historical perspective. Hamas are not Palestinian nationalists but Islamists. Governments and pundits talk about the need for an end to violence and a 'diplomatic solution ': sit down and talk. But Hamas, an acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement, simply does not have a negotiating position, short of the annihilation of Israel and the subjugation of Jews to Muslim rule, as per its Charter.

Even the UK Hamas representative Azzam Tamimi makes clear that Hamas does not want a truce in order to aspire to a more peaceful life for Gazans, whom it cynically exploits as victims and human shields. He admits that Hamas only wants Israel to capitulate to its pre-conditions. Hamas would then steal a march over Fatah by appearing to be the only Palestinian force which could gain concessions from Israel - and so be better placed to wage the next war, or intifada.

Hamas is the local Gaza branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Its ideology has two dominant features: Islamic imperialism and extreme hatred for Jews, routinely broadcasting calls for genocide. Thus it shares certain characteristics with ISIS, the jihadist terrorist army sweeping across Syria and Iraq, and Boko Haram, who are terrorising northern Nigeria and kidnapping Christian schoolgirls.

Founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, a teacher, the Muslim Brotherhood was directly inspired by the rise of Nazism, as well as Mohammed's campaign against the Jewish tribes of Arabia in the Koran. By the late 1940s the German-funded Brotherhood's membership had rocketed - if you'll forgive the pun - from 800 to 500,000. The movement only ever targeted the Jews and other non-Muslims - and more specifically, the Jews of Egypt.

This campaign was set off by the 1936 uprising in Palestine directed against Jewish immigration and initiated by the notorious Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. Between 1936 and 1938 the Brotherhood organized mass demonstrations in Egyptian cities under the slogans "Down With the Jews!" and "Jews Get Out of Egypt and Palestine!" Leaflets called for a boycott of Jewish goods and shops. The Brotherhood's newspaper, al-Nadhir, carried a regular column on "The Danger of the Jews of Egypt," which published the names and addresses of Jewish businessmen and (allegedly) Jewish newspaper publishers all over the world - attributing every evil, from communism to brothels, to the "Jewish danger."

Exactly why does Israel supply Gaza with electricity and cement?

"The notion that a Belligerent Party in wartime is duty bound to supply electricity and fuel to its enemy is plainly absurd.”

Dr. Emmanuel Navon..
23 July '14..

When my children ask me why Israel supplies Hamas with the cement and electricity used to build tunnels for the storage of rockets and the kidnapping of Israelis, I refer them to an unforgettable scene from the movie Ice Age 4. In it, terrified prehistoric animals flee the apocalypse but two of them keep laughing. “Doesn’t it weigh on you?” asks a puzzled co-traveler, “that the world might be ending?” Trying to give a serious answer, the two merry fellows reveal their secret: “We are very, very stupid.”

Is Israel just being stupid, or does it have a legal obligation to supply the Gaza Strip with cement and electricity? As explained by Prof. Avi Bell from Bar-Ilan University in a recent paper published by the Kohelet Policy Forum, a think-tank, Israel is under no legal obligation to provide Gaza with electricity.

Article 23 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states, inter alia, that the contracting parties shall allow the free passage of food, clothing and medicine to children under 15 and to pregnant women (the article mentions neither electricity nor cement). The Gaza Strip is not a contracting party to that Convention, nor is it occupied by Israel. Israel, for its part, is not a party to the First Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1977, whose Article 70 imposes wider duties upon belligerents (though it doesn’t mention electricity and cement, either). Even if these articles were to apply to the conflict between Israel and Gaza, Israel would still be under no obligation to supply electricity to Gaza because the parties are required “to allow the free passage” of goods (Article 23) and to “allow and facilitate” their “rapid and unimpeded passage” (Article 70) - but not to supply them.

On the specific issue of electricity, targeting electric plants during wartime is a widespread and accepted practice. How can a country be allowed to destroy its enemy’s electric supply but be required to guarantee that supply? This is why Prof. Yoram Dinstein, a renowned expert on international law and on the laws of war, writes in his book "The Law of Belligerent Occupation:"

"The notion that a Belligerent Party in wartime is duty bound to supply electricity and fuel to its enemy is plainly absurd.”

Scoring an Own Goal, ‘The Biggest Political Mistake of the War So Far’

...That single FAA decision did more than any political argument ever could to ensure that Israel won’t be leaving the West Bank anytime soon. Having long argued that such a withdrawal would be untenably dangerous, I’m certainly not sorry. But for the Obama administration, it was definitely an own goal.

Evelyn Gordon..
Commentary Magazine..
27 July '14..

On Friday, the always perceptive Walter Russell Mead termed the FAA’s decision to suspend flights to Israel last week “the biggest political mistake of the war so far.” Mead was referring to the decision’s impact on a cease-fire, but it actually has far larger political implications. In one fell swoop, it destroyed the main diplomatic return the Obama Administration hoped to earn on its years of generous support for the Iron Dome anti-missile system: increased Israeli willingness to withdraw from the West Bank.

While Congress’s motive in supporting Iron Dome was mainly to save Israeli lives, the Obama administration always had an additional motive: countering Israeli fears that ceding the West Bank would lead to “rockets from Nablus, Ramallah and Jenin onto Ben-Gurion Airport,” as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon put it, just as leaving Gaza resulted in massive rocket fire on Israel’s south. If Iron Dome could protect Israel from rocket fire, the argument went, then Israel needn’t fear a West Bank withdrawal.

Until last week, that argument might have had a chance: True, Hamas was sending rocket barrages all over Israel and forcing Israelis into shelters several times a day, but the combination of Iron Dome and civil defense measures kept Israeli casualties negligible.

Last week, however, Israelis learned that even Iron Dome can’t keep their main airport open when their neighbors are launching rockets at it. No anti-missile system is foolproof, and one intentionally missed rocket proved enough for most of the world to suspend flights to Israel.

As Mead correctly noted, the discovery that Hamas’s rockets can threaten its main transportation link to the outside world makes it much harder for Israel to end the fighting without eliminating Hamas’s rocket capabilities. But it also makes it much harder for Israel to quit the West Bank as long as there’s any chance of it turning into a rocket launching pad like Gaza has.

The vast majority of Israel’s foreign investment and trade comes from the West, and Israel’s geographic distance from the West means this commerce depends on aerial traffic. With its airport shuttered, investors can’t come in and time-sensitive exports can’t go out. Thus Israel simply cannot afford to have its air links with the West at the mercy of a terrorist organization. Its economy wouldn’t survive.

What's scarcer than a photo of a dead Hamas gunman in Gaza?

...Headline: "In pictures: heartache as Gazans return to their flattened homes" Heartache? We're supposed to see the gunmen, along with their invisible close associates the rocket-men, as victims? Our sympathy is being demanded?

Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
27 July '14..

A photo of a live Hamas gunman in Gaza:

From a photo essay in the UAE news site The National, today [Image Source]

For anyone who cares about the integrity of the news organizations who are supposed to deliver comprehensible objective coverage of what is happening in and from Gaza, there's a question that is rarely articulated: where are the images of Hamas gunmen, alive or dead?


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Sunday, July 27, 2014

John Kerry, the Gaza Terrorist Government and the Betrayal

...Whether through ineptitude, malice, or both, Kerry’s intervention was not a case of America’s top diplomat coming to our region to help ensure, through astute negotiation, the protection of a key ally. This was a betrayal.

David Horovitz..
Times of Israel..
27 July '14..

When The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff first reported the content of John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal on Friday afternoon, I wondered if something had gotten lost in translation. It seemed inconceivable that the American secretary of state would have drafted an initiative that, as a priority, did not require the dismantling of Hamas’s rocket arsenal and network of tunnels dug under the Israeli border. Yet the reported text did not address these issues at all, nor call for the demilitarization of Gaza.

It seemed inconceivable that the secretary’s initiative would specify the need to address Hamas’s demands for a lifting of the siege of Gaza, as though Hamas were a legitimate injured party acting in the interests of the people of Gaza — rather than the terror group that violently seized control of the Strip in 2007, diverted Gaza’s resources to its war effort against Israel, and could be relied upon to exploit any lifting of the “siege” in order to import yet more devastating weaponry with which to kill Israelis.

Israel and the US are meant to be allies; the US is meant to be committed to the protection of Israel in this most ruthless of neighborhoods; together, the US and Israel are meant to be trying to marginalize the murderous Islamic extremism that threatens the free world. Yet here was the top US diplomat appearing to accommodate a vicious terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction, with a formula that would leave Hamas better equipped to achieve that goal.

The appalled response to the Kerry proposal by the members of the security cabinet on Friday night, however, made plain nothing had gotten lost in translation at all. The secretary’s proposal managed to unite Israel’s disparate group of key political leaders — from Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Liberman on the right, through Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni on the center-left — in a unanimous response of horrified rejection and leaked castigation.

The Netanyahu government has had no shortage of run-ins with Kerry in the mere 18 months he has held office. The prime minister publicly pleaded with him in November not to sign the interim deal with Iran on its rogue nuclear program, and there has been constant friction between the two governments over thwarting Iran’s bid for the bomb. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in January ridiculed Kerry’s security proposals for a West Bank withdrawal, calling the secretary “messianic” and obsessive” in his quest for an accord with the Palestinians that simply wasn’t there. The collapse of the talks in March-April was accompanied by allegations from Jerusalem that Kerry had botched the process, telling Israel one thing and the Palestinian Authority another, including misrepresenting Israel’s position on Palestinian prisoner releases.

But none of those episodes, though deeply troubling and relating to issues central to Israel’s well-being, provoked the kind of outraged disbelief at Kerry’s performance that has been emanating from the Israeli leadership in the past 48 hours. Leaked comments from unnamed senior government sources to Army Radio, Channel 2 and other Hebrew outlets have described the secretary as amateurish, incompetent, incapable of understanding the material he is dealing with — in short, a blithering fool.

But actually, it’s worse than that. What emerges from Kerry’s self-initiated ceasefire mission — Israel had already accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal; and nobody asked him to come out on a trip he prefaced with sneering remarks about Israel’s attempted “pinpoint” strikes on Hamas terror targets — is that Jerusalem now regards him as duplicitous and dangerous.

Dear Aba and Ema, ...‘I can’t imagine myself living in another place’

A letter from an IDF reservist to his parents.

Shmuel Adler..
Op-Ed Contributor/JPost..
27 July '14..

Dear Aba and Ema,

After two weeks in miluim (reserve duty), so much has happened and I want to share with you some of my thoughts.

A phone call from a blocked number, I know there’s a chance I’m going to be called to reserve duty, I decide to continue working, maybe it’s a mistake, but my phone rings again and again so I answer.

“Shalom, this is a recorded message. If you are Shmuel Adler please press 1, please press your military identity number. Your unit is called up for duty and you must arrive as soon as possible in the war-time reserve unit.”

I hang up, look around me. I need to call Daffy, Daffy will be fine on her own, Shaked will learn so much while I’m away, 37 unread messages from work, I need to oil the front door because it’s squeaking, I need to fill up our dog Bamboo’s food. Who’s going to lead the community meeting tonight? I need to cancel meetings.

I go to the storage room in our caravan, my army equipment was packed and stored just three months ago. I take out a few things, look for a few things around the storage room and the house, toothbrush, towel, Tallit and Tefillin, some dates and raisins.

Daffy comes home and gives me a big hug.

“You have to go pick up Shaked now, you can’t leave without saying goodbye.”

I pick her up, how do I explain to her where I’m going. She repeats my words like always: “Aba holech miluim (Dad is going on reserve duty).” We have lunch together, Daffy takes out of the freezer a chocolate yeast cake, my favorite, picks a book and brings a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom and puts all of them on my back pack. That’s exactly what I will be missing in the next few weeks. How did she know? I look at Daffy and Shaked. I love them so much, why do I have to leave them? When will I see them again, will something happen to me in combat? I hold Daffy, give her a kiss, bend down to Shaked, ask her if she can give me a big hug and a kiss, of course she agrees, she understand that I’m going and that Daffy and I are a bit sad. I try to get a long hug but Shaked had enough so I give her another kiss, give Daffy another kiss, say goodbye, get in the car. Just before I drive away, I look at Daffy’s eyes. She can read my eyes easily, and I don’t need to tell her what I’m thinking. I’m on the way.

All the way to the unit I hear on the radio that there’s missiles falling all over. I suddenly understand that there are sirens right around where I am but I continue driving like nothing is wrong. Even when I pull over for a bathroom stop, I hear a missile fall but I continue driving. I need to get to the unit as soon as possible.

Everyone’s very calm in the unit. We all know what we have to do, where we get our fighting equipment and gun. There’s no food so we order a few pizzas from a nearby town and while we’re eating them, we see the amazing Iron Dome shooting down a few missiles that were shot from Gaza.

We get our orders toward the evening and go to the post we were positioned at. We get up early, go down to the firing range to calibrate our rifles. It turns out that you don’t forget how to shoot a rifle, I’m focused and my hits on the target are very good. The brigade commander explains why we’re here, what we are about to do and what’s the situation in the area. Each company departs to its post and replaces regular service soldiers that will go down to Gaza.

Helping Hamas get away with war crimes

...What is disturbing is that foreign journalists did not bother (or dare) to ask any of the Hamas leaders and self-proclaimed spokesmen whether they were hiding inside the hospital, regardless of what the answer would doubtless be. They apparently did not even ask themselves this question. One foreign journalist explained that asking such a question would have "endangered my life." Another admitted over coffee that he and his colleagues were too scared to report news that would anger Hamas and other radical groups. "We know that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields," the reporter, who asked not to be identified, said. "But why would you report this when you are sitting in the middle of the Gaza Strip, surrounded by Hamas gunmen?"

Bassam Tawil..
Gatestone Institute..
27 July '14..

Hamas and its Palestinian and Western propagandists continue to insist that the Islamist movement does not use civilians in the Gaza Strip as human shields during war. But the truth is that Hamas itself has admitted that it does use innocent civilians as human shields, to increase the number of casualties and defame Israel in the eyes of the international community.

This admission, however, has, of course, gone unnoticed by most Western journalists and analysts reporting on the war in the Gaza Strip. Many Western journalists in the Gaza Strip choose to ignore the fact that Hamas is forcing civilians to serve as human shields. They also seem to ignore the fact that senior Hamas officials and militiamen have found shelter among civilians and in hospitals, especially Gaza City's Shifa Hospital. Is it really a coincidence that Hamas spokesmen gave interviews to the Arab and Western media from the premises of Shifa Hospital? Why hasn't anyone even noted it as odd?

Of course, the Hamas spokesmen, to attract the attention of the media, pretend that they are visiting the wounded in the hospital, but in reality, these Hamas spokesmen have been staying inside the hospital, bearing in mind -- even certain -- that Israel would not target such a sensitive site.

What is disturbing is that foreign journalists did not bother (or dare) to ask any of the Hamas leaders and self-proclaimed spokesmen whether they were hiding inside the hospital, regardless of what the answer would doubtless be. They apparently did not even ask themselves this question. .

One foreign journalist explained that asking such a question would have "endangered my life." Another admitted over coffee that he and his colleagues were too scared to report news that would anger Hamas and other radical groups.

"We know that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields," the reporter, who asked not to be identified, said. "But why would you report this when you are sitting in the middle of the Gaza Strip, surrounded by Hamas gunmen?"

On July 22, Hamas and Palestinian "resistance" groups issued a warning to residents of the Gaza Strip to remain indoors after 11pm. The warning, which was also ignored by most journalists, was published on several Hamas-affiliated web sites

So here is Hamas, literally imposing a curfew on the residents of the Gaza Strip, in the hope that they will be killed or wounded by Israel. But this, as far as the international media is concerned, is a story that is obviously not worth reporting,