One week after the conclusion of operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, the security reality alongside the Gaza Strip border is being reshaped, the IDF has been instructed to show restraint, farmers on both sides are permitted to stretch their tilled lands all the way to the border fence, and should a Hamas or Islamic Jihad cell aim a rocket launcher at Israel, Israeli soldiers would not be allowed to shoot at it before going through channels, Maariv reports this morning.
The rules of engagement have been altered radically. In the recent past, IDF soldiers were instructed to shoot at once at any Gaza resident who approached the fence. Now there is no such thing as firing at will, even if the person approaching engages in sabotaging the security fence. The IDF must treat them now as suspects to be arrested, as is the protocol in Judea and Samaria, and shooting at those suspect is limited to the legs and not beyond.
The rules of engagement have also been changed regarding terrorist cells in the process of launching a rocket. In the past, the IAF would be alerted and a plane would be sent directly to attack the target. Now the attack may tale place only should the terrorist cell actually initiate the process of launching.
Last Wednesday, according to Maariv, two hours after the ceasefire had gone into effect, IDF commanders in the field identified a cell which was setting up a rocket launcher and requested the approval of GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Tal Russo to shot at it, but Russo would not give his approval.
Sources in the IDF told Maariv they were surprised at the immediate and complete quiet that took place soon after the ceasefire.
General Russo, who is competing these days for the job of IDF deputy chief of staff, said yesterday: “It will take some reasonable period of time until we know whether we have achieved our objectives. For the time being, the change on the ground has been extreme. We reached a type of normalcy with the campaign, and we have complete quiet.”
For future reference, we should remind ourselves of the Hamas’s magical ability to put a lid on all the rest of the terrorist organizations when it served its objectives.
We should probably also ask General Russo if he heard the one about the guy who jumps off the Empire State Building and at the 20th floor he says: So far everything is fine.
The article that follows was published on a blog called Harry’s Place. But at least for now it is unavailable as a result of a denial-of-service attack probably launched by anti-Israel hackers. I am presenting it here in full. I encourage other bloggers interested in the truth to copy it and do the same. Note: the associated photo and video are linked to the site under attack and so are not available. I’ve replaced them with similar illustrations.
On the 14th of November, the son of BBC video editor Jihad Masharawi died. Here is his account of what happened:
Interviewer: “Our condolences, Jihad. Tell me what happened with you.”
JM: “Shrapnel hit our house.”
JM: “Yes. My sister-in-law was killed along with my son and my brother and my other son were wounded [the brother has since died -- ed.].
Interviewer: “In which area?”
JM: “In al Zeitoun.”
Zeitoun is a district of Gaza which hosted Iranian Fajr 5 missile sites, ready for launching into Israel. Here is a photograph of one such site:
It is, as you can see, situated within a civilian area.
As you can see by looking at aerial photographs of the Gaza Strip, the area contains a large amount of open and agricultural land. It would be entirely possible for Hamas and its allies to store their missiles in and fire them from somewhere other than residential and civilian areas: near mosques, hospitals, playgrounds, football fields, and private homes. However, they choose instead to situate them in locations where they know that, if they are hit by even the most precise of surgical airstrikes, the secondary explosions will quite possibly cause destruction and death in their area.
I’ve posted below a short video which shows what happens when Israel hits an ammunition cache. These are precisely the consequences that Hamas intends. It is often said that this tactic amounts to sheltering behind skirts and prams as it seeks to kill Israeli civilians. I think that’s precisely what it is.
Who killed Jihad Masharawi’s son?
There are a number of possibilities.
First of all, Israel deliberately launched a missile at a civilian house, intending to kill him and his family. That, as the Elder of Ziyon observes, is unlikely:
The idea that Israel, which managed to kill less than one civilian for every 30 airstrikes in Gaza, targeted the house of a low-level BBC employee during the initial wave of attacks – while he wasn’t home – is simply not believable. Unless you are convinced, ab initio, of Israel’s monstrous nature, there are other explanations that fit the incident far better.
However, that still allows for the possibility that an Israeli missile went astray, or that the attack on the house was intentional, but resulted from mistaken information. That certainly could have happened.
Nevertheless, there are two other possibilities which should be considered. The first is that Hamas or its allies launched a missile at Israel, but that it fell short and hit Jihad Masharawi’s house. That, quite possibly, is the cause of death of Mahmoud Sadallah, whose body was displayed to the world’s media, to be kissed by the Egyptian Prime Minister. Although it was widely claimed in the press that this child died in an Israeli strike, none appears to have taken place at the time of his death. By contrast, estimates of the percentage of the Hamas rockets which fall short and fall within Gaza range from between 15% and 40%. Damage to homes in Gaza by missiles is particularly perilous, because a large number of homes have propane gas heaters, and domestic generators. A missile or shrapnel hit can cause a secondary explosion. In any event, the Elder of Ziyon notes, the Daily Mirror has now removed the news item which most prominently covered the story, but has not announced its reason for doing so, or considered the matter further.
The final possibility is that the shrapnel which hit Jihad Masharawi’s house resulted from an explosion or a secondary explosion on one of the weapons caches and launching sites near his home.
Which theory is correct? We can’t know for sure: at least not yet. Perhaps there will be an investigation in which facts will become apparent. Israel knows where it launched attacks. It may have intelligence which shows the sites of misfired Hamas etc. rockets. Their proximity to Jihad Masharawi’s house could be ascertained.
Who is morally responsible for the deaths of civilians, where despite not being targeted, they die when Hamas shoots wonky rockets which fall short, or when Israeli missiles ignite weapons caches that are intended to be fired at Israeli cities? I can guarantee you that there are many who take the view that even in these circumstances, Israel and Israel alone should be held accountable.
As BBC Watch has pointed out, as far as the BBC and it’s correspondent Jon Donnison are concerned, there is only one possibility: that for some reason Israel fired a missile into Jihad Masharawi’s house. This is how he puts it:
Despite the evidence pointing towards an Israeli air-strike, some have suggested it might have been a misfired Hamas rocket. But at that time, so soon after the launch of Israel’s operation, Israel’s military says mortars had been launched from Gaza, but very few rockets. Mortar fire would not cause the fireball that appears to have engulfed Jihad’s house. Others say that the damage was not consistent with powerful Israeli attacks, but the BBC visited other bomb sites this week with very similar fire damage, where Israel acknowledged carrying out what it called “surgical strikes”. Like at Jihad’s house, there was very little structural damage, but the victims were brought out with massive and fatal burns.
As BBC Watch points out, there is no basis for Donnison’s conviction that an Israeli airstrike hit Jihad Masharawi’s house. Donnison provides observations based upon what he believes to be similar patterns of fire damage. However, the pictures show merely a hole in a building and a fire, which may have been caused by an Israeli airstrike or by any of the other possibilities canvassed above, including one of the ‘very few’ rocket strikes which Donnison discounts. There’s no discussion, either, of the evidence of Jihad Masharawi that ’shrapnel’ – not a rocket – hit his house. That is at odds with Donnison’s belief that the attack looked like the aftermath of an Israel “surgical strike” with a missile. In any event, I don’t know whether an exploding Israeli missile would have left identifiable fragments, but certainly none have been produced.
With limited data, Donnison can’t be sure: but it is very clear what he thinks.
As well as expressing near-certainty that an Israeli strike killed Omar Masharawi, Our Own Correspondent also contained a graphic description of the state of his body and the natural and terrible agony of his father. I think that, having been told the horrific story of how Israel launched a missile into a BBC employee’s house, killing his son, and having heard about the impact of that missile on a tiny child’s face, most people would be unprepared to discuss the possibility that the death had resulted from some other chain of events.
If Israel deliberately launched a missile into a civilian’s house, it should be condemned. If Israel did so, believing that the house was in fact occupied by a military target, then the BBC ought to investigate how it came to make such a terrible mistake. If Omar Masharawi died as a result of a misfired Palestinian rocket or mortar, then that should also be investigated and condemned. Were he to have died following an Israeli strike of a Fajr5 rocket site in Zeitoun, then that should at least be reported. The BBC should ask Hamas why it put a Fajr5 launching site in the middle of a civilian area. It could ask Israel the same question: and its answer would be that it knew that these rockets were being prepared for launch at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
I expect that some effort will now be put into trying to find out precisely what happened. If Israel’s culpability is ascertained, that too will be reported and Israel is likely to express regret, which will be regarded as insincere by most partisans of the Palestinian cause. If further evidence of Hamas culpability emerges then, from past experience, that is likely not to be reported at all. Hamas will express no sorrow, because it does not in fact regret the deaths of Palestinian civilians, and because it knows that it will never be pressed on its siting of missiles and caches within civilian neighbourhoods. In arguments on the internet, and at public meetings, we will be told that Israel should not have responded to missile attacks at all, which are in fact incapable of doing any harm, and in any case deserve them because of the supposed ‘occupied’ nature of Gaza.
[F]or a wide swathe of left-liberal and ‘anti-imperialist’ opinion there is now no way Israel can conduct itself from which it will earn moral credit. It is irredeemably tainted in its origin. Conversely, and in the same quarter, there is nothing that Hamas or other representatives of the Palestinian people can do, no wrong or outrage they can commit, which will not be morally ‘cleaned up’ by the perception that these representatives are supposedly the pure vehicle of a struggle against injustice.
One of the reasons for this opinion is that much of the media prominently report the deaths of children when they can be attributed to Israel but, as the Daily Mirror’s quiet de-publishing of its story illustrates, have very little to say when the facts shift and the story becomes less certain.
I, like all Jews, sincerely hope that the current cease fire between Israel and Hamas will live up to its namesake. And yet, Israel still has enemies very close to its borders, and peace with them is not yet knocking at our door. In the midst of last week’s war, I embarked on an emotionally profound visit to our brothers and sisters down south. The trip was planned, with the thought that they would be in need, while the rest of us should be concerned for them and yet personally find ourselves in a safer situation.
However, while down there, it seemed that it wasn’t an attempt to comfort those in danger, as opposed to ourselves.
While the rockets were flying in to southern Israel daily, and creating a terrible and dangerous lifestyle for the residents of the south for nearly 12 years, this week the rockets were reaching as far as my own home in Gush Etzion. Fatal rocks are thrown at an innocent women driving home, a bus blows up in Tel Aviv, and it seems that there aren’t many locations in the country that are not under attack.
Going back a few years, we can add in the entire northern frontier [including Haifa] that came under attack during the days preceding and proceeding the 2nd Lebanon war. With the events in Syria of the last few weeks, it seems that almost the entire country is a target, or a highly probable potential target. It seems that Israel is at war everywhere.
During this tragic and tense time in Israel, I believe something has changed drastically in the eyes of our enemies that goes against our own Israeli mindset, and that is the notion of subdivisions.
For as long as I can remember, we have subdivided both the population of Israel [i.e.- Dati, Chiloni, Charedi, Chardali and more,] as well as the land of Israel [i.e.- the territories, the green line, the Golan, then Dan region versus Jerusalem, etc.] into different categories.
We think that territories captured after the Six Day war are in a different category than those that were in our hands prior to it. We further believe that there are areas beyond the Green Line that are within a consensus not to give away, even in a peace treaty, versus others. And then, when rockets fly in, many have said that having them land in the small villages along the Gaza border is different than landing in the Tel Aviv and Haifa areas, with the response of the IDF being less or more fierce based on their target.
I am not one that believes that we should take lessons from the degraded enemies of Israel. But if our sages learned the great value of “Kibud Av Vaem” from the wicked Esav [Bereishit Raba 65,] then this past week should teach us one thing; in the eyes of the enemy, Israel is one Israel, and all Jews, regardless of the diameter of their Kippa or their willingness to give land for peace, are their enemies. Rockets are sent almost everywhere [including Tel Aviv and the outskirts of Jerusalem,] both army personal as well as civilians are targeted, and our enemies make no distinctions between them! Whatever way you attempt peace at this time, dare we ever forget that we are one people that should not be subdivided.
I , for one, would feel utterly embarrassed in front of the Almighty, if these degraded forms of human beasts, sending murderous rockets and bus bombs to kill innocent Jews, understand the unity of the Jewish people, while the Jewish people see divisions! If the Talmud states that the evil “Cenaan” [Grandson of Noach,] left a will to his progeny to continue to steal, etc., and yet obligated them as well to “Ahavu ze et ez” (“Love one another”) (Tractate Pesachim 113b) shall we be on any lower level?
If there is any lesson that we Jews should reiterate, it’s the feeling of that we are all one nation, we are all part of our family. Thus, when the Torah commands against taking revenge on a fellow Jew (Vayikra, 19/18) the Talmud (Yerushalmi, Nedarim 9/4) explains this prohibition by simply stating that if your right hand cuts your left, would you take revenge on your right hand by cutting it off?! Indeed, this analogy assumes that the Jewish people are like two hands in one body.
As photographs of a triumphant U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made international headline news following her mediation role in the Israel and Hamas truce–which had already seen 12 Gaza rockets fired at Israel within the first two hours–Tel Aviv was not in the spirit to celebrate.
Shortly before the ceasefire went into effect at 9 p.m. Israel time, the corner of Shaul Hamelech and Henrietta Szold streets in central Tel Aviv where the bus bombing had taken place earlier, were still teeming with press and people. The bombing which had left 28 people wounded, mostly young people in their 20s and 30s as well as teenagers, was praised by a Hamas spokesperson as a “blessing.”
Other Gaza terror groups like Islamic Jihad and Popular Resistance Committee also celebrated the terror attack in press interviews, with Islamic Jihad saying “this is a victory for the blood of shahids.”
For Gadi, an older security officer standing outside a Tel Aviv office building, the bus bombing was terrifying. “It was terrible to see,” he told Tazpit News Agency. “There was blood everywhere. I saw a young woman with her hand blown off, and another man whose foot was severed.”
“At first, when I heard the explosion, I thought it was a rocket that had landed without the sirens going off. I couldn’t understand what had happened until I went to the terror scene at the bus station. It was full of smoke and the smell of gas,” Gadi said. “It’s very hard for me to describe the casualties—the images are hard for me to deal with,” he says as he lights a cigarette, starting on his second box of the day.
“Something must be done about this, we need to be strong and show these terrorists we are strong,” emphasizes Gadi. “I hope we don’t go back to the old times.”
For Michal, a 27-year old history student at Tel Aviv University, who arrived on scene an hour later working as a producer for a local TV station, the bombing brought back memories of her childhood growing up in Jerusalem. “It was just like the 1990s, when I was in eighth grade and there were suicide bus bombings all the time,” she said. “Seeing the images of this bus today, made me go back in time.”
“I saw even worst terror attacks growing up in Jerusalem,” she added. “Thank God there was no one killed in this attack.”
The Tel Aviv terror victims were evacuated to a nearby hospital, where three who had serious wounds to their limbs underwent surgery today. Their conditions are now listed as moderate.
At an Italian pizzeria not too far from the attack, diners sat somewhat subdued as the T.V. in the background broadcasted Hillary Clinton shaking hands with P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas. “When will all this end already?” exclaimed one Israeli to another. “Politicians shaking hands has never ended terror.”
Additionally, the media – including those belonging directly to the parties to the conflict – are not legitimate military targets, even if they are used to disseminate propaganda.
I think that a terror group’s units – including its communications networks – are very much a legitimate target for how else would they be able to direct their terror campaign, and that includes general programming because it is used to recruit and mobilize.
Journalists are not protected against deliberate attacks if and for as long as they take a direct part in hostilities
and as to what the law refers to
the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions (AP I) deals specifically with journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict
“Professional” means not a terrorist.
As civilians, journalists and their crew must under no circumstances be the object of a direct attack. Parties to an armed conflict have the obligation to take all feasible precautions to ensure that attacks are only directed at military objectives.
Al-Aqsa TV and others are not civilians and are not professional journalists.
Ramallah- 21 November 2012: Israeli occupation forces committed a new crime against the Palestinian journalists when they killed Al-Aqsa TV cameramen Mahmoud Al-Komi (30 years) and Hossam Salameh (30) years at about six o’clock in this evening, after their car was targeted In Gaza City, by a Missile fired from an Israeli warplane, which led to their deaths immediately.
MADA lawyer Karem Nashwan said that Salamah and Al-Komi were travelling in Al-Aqsa TV car, with press sign, but the occupation forces targeted it. The crime took place in Alnaser (Victory) Street near alshifa Tower near Alshifa Hospital, and it seems they had intended to go to cover the martyrs and the wounded in the hospital, where occupation forces have escalated from its bombardment of the Gaza frantically through the last few hours, where about twenty martyrs fell. Al-Komi and Salamah were married and each of them has four children.
And by the way:
the French government instructed its broadcasting authority to take Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV off the air. The satellite channel was broadcast on Eutelsat, a French satellite company headquartered in Paris. French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said that the instruction was given when France received a warning from the European Commission that the channel repeatedly violated European laws by showing programs which incited hatred or violence for reasons of religion or nationality, mostly against Israel and Judaism (AFP, June 7).
On March 18, 2010, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions against two Hamas-linked organizations in Gaza – Al-Aqsa TV and the Islamic National Bank (INB). The actions, taken pursuant to Executive Order 13224, freeze any assets that Al-Aqsa TV or INB hold under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with them. The targets of the sanctions include terrorists and terrorist organizations, among others. The Treasury Department stated that Al-Aqsa TV is financed and controlled by Hamas, serving as a primary Hamas media outlet that airs programs “designed to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers upon reaching adulthood.”
P.S. I am beginning to wonder in whose service is B’tselem?
…investigation indicates that several Al-Quds TV employees were present in their offices in Shawwa-Husari Building at the time of the attack, as they were under the assumption that the Israeli military would not bomb it.
They report that after the attack on the Shawwa- Husari Building, they removed some of their equipment from their building’s top floors, out of concern that the Israeli army would strike that building as well, because of the location of Al-Aqsa TV’s offices on its 15th floor.
In other words, B’tselem fail to mention the presence of the Islamic Jihad fighters in the Al Sharouk tower.
According to a report by Ynet, seven people, including five soldiers, were injured in a rocket attack on the Eshkol Regional Council on Wednesday afternoon. One soldier , an officer in the army reserves, was critically injured, and the others were hurt lightly to moderately.
Almost half of Sderot’s preteens suffer from signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a study that was published this November in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Based on a questionnaire answered by 154 seventh and eighth grade students, it was found that 43.5 percent of the children demonstrated clinical signs of PTSD.
The survey, which was conducted in 2007-2008 during a time period when thousands of rockets had been fired towards Sderot, was directed by a team led by Dr. Rony Berger, a clinical psychologist at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Dr. Berger is also the community services director of NATAL, the Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War, which released a report in 2011 that 70% of all Sderot children suffer from at least one symptom of post-traumatic stress, and that 50% continue to relive rocket trauma.
Idan Bitton, a 25-year-old student at Sapir college, spoke with Tazpit News Agency this week, relating how life had changed for him when the rockets from Gaza began striking Sderot 10 years ago. “Suddenly, in the middle of class, we would hear a rocket explosion,” he explained. “There was no Code Red [rocket alarm system] then, so we had no idea when the rockets would land in our city.”
Fifteen-year-old Odaya of Sderot after rocket attack on her neighbor’s home, Sunday, November 18. Photo: Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency.
“I remember as a student in school, hearing an explosion, and then continuing on in class as if nothing happened. This was a mistake,” emphasized Bitton. “In a way, our passive reaction gave legitimacy that those rocket attacks against us were OK, even acceptable.” Bitton says that the rockets attack dramatically affected his friends. “Most of my friends from high school didn’t stay in Sderot or the south– they moved to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It was a kind of ‘flight’ reaction to the rockets,” he explains.
But Biton says that he learned in the army how to respond, and take on the ‘fight’ approach. “In the army when I trained to become an officer, I learned how to respond effectively in an emergency situation, and how to take on bad situations and turn them around.”
“It all begins with your attitude and approach,” he said.
But for Idan’s 12-year-old brother, the fear still remains. “My brother was born into the rockets, he doesn’t know anything else. He associates the color red with the rocket warning system.”
“Last week, when I brought my brother to school, he was trembling,” recalls Idan. “He was simply too scared to leave the car because of the rockets.”
“I feel lucky because I still got to enjoy my childhood until I was a teenager when the rocket strikes began—my brother never had one,” he said.
For 15-year-old Odaya of Sderot, the rocket attacks on her city hit very close to home, literally, this past Sunday, November 18, when Gaza rocket struck Odaya’s neighbor’s home. The soft-spoken teenager told Tazpit News Agency, that the rocket attack was “scary” and had left her in shock.
“I went into our family’s bomb shelter as soon as the Code Red siren went off,” she said. “And then as I was standing there, I heard the shriek of the rocket as it flew over our house, followed by a deafening explosion. I thought the rocket had fallen on our home.”
The rocket, which slammed into the roof of Odaya’s neighbors’ house, sent pieces of shrapnel and glass everywhere, reaching also Odaya’s home. The neighboring family was away at the time of the attack, but for Odaya, the experience was scarring.
Elsewhere in southern Israel, children continue to remain targets of Gaza rocket attacks.
In Ashkelon on Sunday, November 18, a group of Ethiopian children experienced a rocket attack on their apartment building, which left two residents wounded and a gaping hole in the ceiling and floor of two apartments.
“The roof exploded open,” six-year-old Eli triesto explain. “We all heard the rocket boom.” Eli and his teenage cousins, Eden and Stav, have been living in the public bomb shelter of their run-down apartment building for five days, since Wednesday, November 14. Beds, blankets, and canned foods pack their shelter. Their mothers’ faces are lined with worry.
The Ma’an news agency reports that Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri hailed the explosion in Tel Aviv this afternoon.
“Hamas blesses the attack in Tel Aviv and sees it as a natural response to the Israeli massacres…in Gaza,” he told Reuters. “Palestinian factions will resort to all means in order to protect our Palestinian civilians in the absence of a world effort to stop the Israeli aggression.”
Sweet cakes were handed out in celebration in Gaza’s main hospital, which has been inundated with wounded from the round-the-clock Israeli bombing and shelling.
“You opened the gates of hell on yourselves,” Hamas’s armed wing, the al-Qassam brigades, said on Twitter. “Oh Zionists, you have to drag yourselves out of hell, go back home now, go back to Germany, Poland, Russia, America and anywhere else.”
The last time a bomb blast hit Israel’s commercial capital was in April 2006, when an Arab suicide bomber killed 11 people at a sandwich stand near the old central bus station.
Hamas Terrorists have fired at least four rockets at Tel Aviv over the past week, but they were not able to get any direct hits and caused no casualties.
Israel launched its air offensive with the goal of putting a stop all missile launches out of the Gaza Strip, which lies a little over 40 miles south of Tel Aviv. So far, despite a dense and relentless pounding by the Israeli air force, of targets that have been analyzed and picked over months, and despite the fact that many Hamas assets have been laid to ruin – the terrorists are still able to inflict pain on Israel’s civilian population.
As every army in modern history has learned, you can’t win wars from the air, or even with artillery from afar. Wars are won by infantry and armored units who move in and deny the enemy the freedom to continue operations.