U.S. Secretary of State arrived Monday in Cairo, where he hit the ground running to begin efforts to press for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
But for the first time in the history of the past several mini-wars with Gaza, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has the backing of nearly the entire country for Operation Protective Shield. In fact, most Israelis are determined to see the operation continue until it is clear that Israel has secured an unambiguous victory and that the rocket fire is completely silenced for a long time, if not “for good.”
Seven IDF soldiers died in battle just this morning (Monday) after two terrorist cells emerged from tunnels whose entrances opened into an area between the Erez and Nir Am kibbutzim along the Gaza border. They were spotted by Israeli air force pilots and ground forces, but pilots held their fire because the terrorists were dressed as IDF soldiers, right down to their shoes — presenting a new and extremely dangerous new security breach. A later search of their bodies discovered they were carrying injectable tranquilizers and handcuffs with which to subdue kidnap victims captured during their intended infiltration that day. Israel’s ground forces engaged the terrorists instead, killing all ten. But four IDF soldiers paid the ultimate price in the firefight, when the terrorists fired a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) at the patrol jeep in which they were riding.
Hamas terrorists have demonstrated a level of professionalism and posession of highly sophisticated equipment and lethal ordnance not previously stocked in their arsenals of the past. Moreover, the number and complexity of terrorist tunnels, not to mention the sheer reach of their infrastucture, which has been discovered deep into Israeli territory, makes it clear there is much work to do to dismantle the deadly Hamas threat to Israel’s existence.
A few days ago, a cache of 20 missiles was discovered in a vacant school owned and run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza. The agency, which has underscored its ‘neutral’ status numerous times, posted a statement of regret on its website and saying it had removed the missiles.
What the statement was careful to avoid saying was the fact that UNRWA handed the missiles over to the Hamas terrorist government in Gaza. The U.N. agency is now itself very possibly guilty of two war crimes: storing missiles on behalf of a terror organization in its own civilian building used to educate children in a neutral, international zone, one funded with taxpayer dollars worldwide; and handing over the missiles that it “found” to the terrorists who are known to place them among civilians in the first place.
When questioned about the incident, Kerry’s spokesperson adroitly sidestepped the issue and avoided providing any details to reporters, even though the United States generously funds UNRWA. The United Nations spokesperson did the same thing.
Meanwhile, Kerry is expected to meet with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi between Monday night and Wednesday.
Kerry is also expected to carry on talks with Israeli officials, as he will with those from Qatar and Turkey – both of whom have slipped into the process as mediators for Hamas despite objections from Israel, who agreed only to Egypt. Turkey, which has been a vociferous critic of Israel and a major supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, abandoned its ambassadorial ties with Israel several years ago and has threatened to several lower-level ties as well.
President Barack Obama expressed deep concern over civilian casualties in Gaza during a phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday. He later said bluntly that despite the fact that Israel ‘had a right to defend itself from rocket fire emanating from Gaza, it was time for a cease fire to be put into place to end the conflict.
Obama contends that “a lot more can be done” to protect civilians in the region during Israeli attacks on terrorist infrastructure – but offered no suggestions as to how that might be accomplished. As it is, the Israeli army carries out more preventive actions that any other military force in the world to avoid civilian casualties.
About the Author: Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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