web analytics
September 15, 2014 / 20 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Cease Fire’

Netanyahu Says Making Gaza ‘Israel’s Fallujah’ Was Too High a Price

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Crushing Hamas instead of accepting a cease-fire might have turned Gaza into another Fallujah, with Israel paying an exorbitant price in terms of the lives of soldiers as well as risking security on the Syrian front, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in interviews this weekend.

He noted that the United States in 2004 fought against Islamists in the Iraqi city, one-tenth the size of Gaza, killed thousands of Iraqis and destroyed thousands of homes only to hand over control to the Iraqi government, which last year lost control of the city to Al Qaeda.

The Prime Minister went on a media blitz with three television interviews over the weekend after his popularity sank dramatically in the past week. He was the target of barbs from left and right for accepting a cease-fire with Hamas instead of going for the kill and for not fulfilling his promise that a cease-fire would be conditioned on dis-arming Hamas. Instead, the issue of weapons in Gaza was put off for “negotiations” in 30 days while Hamas insists it never will give up its rockets.

He tried repair the political damage by emphasizing that the “big picture” is more important than destroying Hamas, which can always be done later, if need be.

None other than U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry provided him with an escape hatch by calling for ”global coalition” to fight radical Islamists who are “perilously close to Israel.”

“The Islamic State is galloping toward us [and] al-Qaeda is on the Golan borders,” said Netanyahu, who explained he did want to “not to invest all my assets in this one arena” of Gaza.

“I am preparing for a reality in the Middle East that is very problematic,” Netanyahu said, but Bloomberg News quoted Ben Gurion University political science Prof. Yoram Meital as saying that ISIS and Al Qaeda “have yet to form large enough armies to “significantly pose an existential threat to Israel.” He added, “There is a tendency to exaggerate the power of these groups for political aims.”

Netanyahu said that beheading Hamas, figuratively speaking, still is an option and that there might be a situation in which Israel has to occupy Gaza

He asserted that while he will not tolerate even a drizzle of rockets, invading Gaza at this time would have come at a possibly intolerable loss of soldiers.

Netanyahu did not state, nor has the IDF commented, that a massive invasion of Gaza was not a real option ever since the military pulled out most of its tanks and armored personnel carriers (APCs) from the Gaza front almost immediately after the last temporary cease-fire before the current truce was announced last week. The IDF apparently knew it had won as much as it could at the least possible price.

Buried amid the praise for the military’s dealing Hamas a severe blow from the air and from the ground are well-sourced reports that the army was not prepared for the massive and lethal Hamas defense in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza.

Entering all of Gaza to topple Hamas would have meant facing a well-organized terrorist army in every city in the Gaza, despite the elimination of top Hamas commanders by the Israeli Air Force.

However, there is no doubt, as Netanyahu said, that Hamas did not expect the force with which Israel retaliated following rocket attacks on most of Israel.

The Prime Minister also emphasized in the interviews that Hamas agreed to the same Egyptian cease-fire proposal that it originally rejected.

He did not relate to the difficulty that awaits Israel with diplomatic maneuvering by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to use the “peace process” to allow his security forces to patrol Gaza borders.

Mashaal Vows Cease-Fire a Step to New ‘Resistance’ War against Israel

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Hamas’ supreme leader Khaled Mashaal dashed any hopes of long-term peace with Israel in a speech in Qatar on Thursday in which he shot from the hip at Israel and also at his terrorist organization’s new partner, the rival Fatah movement headed by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

His lengthy speech in Qatar, which has financed Hamas terror and which fought Egyptian cease-fire proposals, followed by one day a “victory” speech by Ismail Haniyeh, the senior Hamas political leader in Gaza. Mashaal’s silence while Haniyeh accepted the cease-fire is a clear sign of a fierce power struggle between Hamas in Gaza and between Mashaal and Qatar, which holds the purse strings.

Mashaal also claimed victory, with lies that Hamas missiles hit the Ben Gurion Airport, which is not true, and that more than 5 million Israelis hid in bomb shelters, a gross exaggeration. However, there is no doubt that Hamas succeeded in scaring the daylight out of millions of Israelis, interrupting a few flights and generally turning half of Israel into sitting ducks.

And this won’t be the last time, regardless of a cease-fire, he warned.

“Whatever happened [in Gaza] is not the end to this story, and this is not the last operation to free Palestine. It was an important stop on the way to victory,” Mashaal declared.

His speech threw every obstacle possible on the road to negotiations with Israel. The talks are supposed to begin in a month, leaving open the possibility, or probability, that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is carrying on secret negotiations that will be formalized in 30 days.

The Prime Minister suffered another blow to any trust that Israelis may have for him with a report on Thursday that he met secretly with Jordanian King Abdullah, and perhaps Abbas, prior to the cease-fire, circumstantial evidence that Israel negotiated under fire, contrary to Netanyahu’s promise.

If Mashaal gets his way, there won’t be any talks because one of the new powers in Gaza is slated to be Abbas, whose security forces would patrol Gaza borders, according to the Egyptian proposal. That would provide Cairo with another tactic to get rid of Hamas.

Mashaal nailed Abbas to the wall in his speech, accusing him of throwing cold water on the resumption of the intifada during the war by allowing his security forces to limit protests.

“The next operation needs to use all of the Palestinian capabilities, not just part of them,” Mashaal said. “The resistance is holy and weapons are holy. There is no such thing as a country without weapons.”

A country or not, Gaza still has at least 2,000 rockets as well as anti-tank rockets and presumably anti-aircraft missiles. It still has rocket factories, one of which was filmed in production by Hamas during one of the failed cease-fires during the war.

Netanyahu had demanded that any halt in violence would be accompanied by disarming Hamas, but this week’s cease-fire only left the issue to be put on the negotiating table, along with Hamas’s demands for a deep-sea port and an airport.

Mashaal’s speech was full of hate and crude accusations that Israel inflicted a “Holocaust” on Gaza by “destroying schools and hospitals,” which all but the most extreme anti-Israel media now know were used by Hamas as rocket launching and terrorist command centers.

“We are against what Hitler did to the Jews, and Israel committed a second Holocaust in Gaza. Israel is an embarrassment to Jews and to the entire world,” according to Mashaal.

His rhetoric was aimed at Abbas as well as Israel. If and when negotiations begin, Egypt and the United States will be on the side of Abbas, who despite his unity government with Hamas has proved politically smart by a patient and single-minded tactic of using international support to slowly but surely win concession after concession from Israel until there is nothing left to negotiate.

Echoing Cease-fire, Britain’s Jews and Muslims Call for Peace

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

In the wake of an Israeli-Gaza cease-fire that may have been forced on both parties, Britain’s Jews and Muslims have issued a joint call for peace.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews “exists to promote and defend the religious and civil liberties of British Jewry,” according to the mission statement on the group’s website. “As the community’s democratically elected cross-communal organisation, the Board connects with Government, media and wider society, providing a unique means through which all British Jews can be heard and represented.”

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) “is an independent body established to promote consultation, cooperation and coordination on Muslim affairs in the United Kingdom.” The group describes itself in a statement on its website as a “non-sectarian body working for the common good without interfering in, displacing or isolating any existing Muslim work in the community. It is a broad-based, representative organisation of Muslims in Britain…pledged to work for the common good of society as a whole…”

The joint statement issued by the two groups was unprecedented and condemned anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. It was entitled, ‘British Jews and Muslims Call for Peace, Wisdom and Hope over Conflict in Israel and Palestine.’

The text of the statement, released Wednesday, read as follows:

There is no doubt that Muslims and Jews have deeply held views about the conflict in Israel and Palestine. We acknowledge that our communities may disagree about the origins, current reasons and solutions to end the conflict. But there are also points of agreement.

The death of every civilian is a tragedy, and every effort should be taken to minimise such losses. The targeting of civilians is completely unacceptable and against our religious traditions. We pray for a speedy end to the current conflict and for a lasting peace for all.

In spite of the situation in the Middle East, we must continue to work hard for good community relations in the UK. We must not import conflict. We must export peace instead.

Whilst everyone has the right to voice their political opinion, be that in a rally or on social media, we must be mindful of how we convey our protest. There can be no excuse for racism, violence, or other forms of intimidation, when expressing views in the media, on the streets, outside shops or online.

We condemn any expression of Antisemitism, Islamophobia or any form of racism. We call for Muslim and Jewish communities to redouble efforts to work together and get to know one another.

We need constructive dialogue to limit our disagreements and identify the widest possible range of areas for cooperation. There are more issues that unite us than divide us.

May the God of Abraham grant our World more peace, wisdom and hope.

Reportedly there was, however, some disagreement over one line of the text: that which condemns the targeting of civilians.

Both groups agree that such behavior is “a tragedy” and “completely unacceptable and against our religious traditions.” But the Jewish group said it was willing to sign the document because it had no reference to mutuality of targeting civilians, since “it’s a known fact the IDF does not deliberately target civilians.” The Muslim group said it was willing to sign because it believed the document held both sides responsible for the same behavior.

 

 

Both UN and Hamas Need Better Ceasefire Commitments

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

The current agreement is not an unmitigated disaster, but it is a busha (embarrassment), that only serves to encourage Hamas, Islamism in general, and will no doubt be pointed to during the next war with Hamas as a failure in diplomacy. I’m specifically disappointed by the fact that Hamas got tangible if retractable gains (double the fishing zone, 200 out of 300 meters of the inner-border security strip, and more open borders), while Israel got absolutely nothing in return.

The halting of rockets doesn’t count, because we also have to hold our fire, and anyway, at issue is what is gained from a ceasefire agreement. What Israel should have demanded in exchange is a tandem of commitments from Hamas and the UN, as follows: Hamas: In lieu of disarming (which is probably futile anyway at this point), Hamas should have had to sign a declaration that it will never again fire rockets towards civilian areas (with a hard list of Israeli cities and communities), that it will neither store nor use rockets in civilian areas (also based on a predefined list), and that it will cease to dig tunnels that invade Israeli territory. UN: The UN should have to issue a declaration (or agreed to pass a resolution) that it will provide a team of inspectors (agreed upon number like 500) to make sure that Hamas is keeping its word, and that if the inspectors discover violations at UN sites, those sites will be closed down to the detriment of the Gazan population.

Violations in general would lead to UN condemnations and withdrawing of financial support from the US and the EU members, as well as funding of UNRWA. A separate team of UN inspectors would have the job of monitoring Palestinian media and school books for gross incitement (i.e. not maps of Greater Palestine and the like, but overt calls for genocide and terrorism), with similar repercussions as listed above for serious violations.

Israeli Right to Self Defense: Moreover, the UN declaration/resolution should specify that Israel has the right to fire at all active missile launchers (using up to a pre-specified weight and type of munitions) regardless of the location, and that if there is civilian collateral damage within a pre-specified distance to the launcher, those casualties will be deemed acceptable and no reason for any accusation of war crimes in the Hague.

Remuneration for Israel: Finally, the UN should declare that any funding given to Gaza for rebuilding will be matched by funding for Israel to remunerate merchants who depend on tourism for their livelihood, and of course for rebuilding damage caused by Gazan rockets. That would send an important message to Gaza’s terrorists that they cannot cause permanent economic damage to Israel with their rockets, and conversely, the Gazan population will understand that supporting rocket launchings and tunneling may jeopardize the amount of funding that they will receive to rebuild their homes.

I think all of the above suggestions are realistic and would enjoy broad support from most countries, no?

Less realistic, but crucial in my opinion, would be Hamas having to issue a new charter that removes the openly antisemitic sections of the current charter, and even better, replaces them with the Zionist quotes from the Quran and Hadith. This would then have to be taught in Gazan schools and published in the media. OK, with this I’m dreaming, but it’s a worthy dream.

Netanyahu Tries to Sell Bill of Goods that Israel Won Goals in the War

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave a miserable sales pitch to the Israeli people Wednesday night in a weak effort to turn around public opinion that is unhappy, if not disgusted, with his agreeing to the cease-fire announced by Hamas and its new war partner, Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.

The Prime Minister, followed by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantzת repeated over and over Israel’s achievements in the war

Netanyahu claimed that Israel achieved the goals it set from the beginning, mainly to restore quiet to Israel and to destroy terror tunnels.

He also rewrote his promise earlier this month that there will no cease-fire without disarming Hamas. Magically, that now has become a “long-term” goal.

He buried that promise among the insistence that “Hamas did not get one demand” that it made before the cease-fire.

Netanyahu listed Hamas’ demands as a deep-sea port, an airport, freeing terrorists who were released in the delay of the return of Gilad Shalit and then were re-arrested for returning to terror, mediation of Turkey and Qatar in cease-fire talks.

And what happened to his position that Israel would not negotiate under fire?

Technically, Netanyahu kept its word. Israel negotiators were recalled from Cairo every time Hamas broke a cease-fire and resume rocket fire on Israel.

But negotiations do not require face-to face discussions. Does Netanyahu want everyone to believe that Israel was not updated on the Egyptian-brokered plan and Hamas’s reactions?

Does he really want everyone to believe that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority announced the cease-fire without knowing that Israel would accept it?

And if indeed that is what happened and the cease-fire simply fell on Israel out of the blue, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s acceptance only shows how destructively passive he was, failing to seize the last days of the war to make demands.

More likely, the United States was involved. U.S. State Dept. spokeswoman Jen Psaki said yesterday that Kerry and his point man in the Middle East, Frank Lowenstein, were in constant contact with Netanyahu.

She said the United States was not an active participant in the talks but was part of the action, in one way or the other.

Netanyahu hammered away at all of the achievements that are well-known – the destruction of terror tunnels, the relentless attacks on hundreds of Hamas command centers, rocket launchers and weapons factories and storerooms.

Approximately 1,000 terrorists were killed in the war.

Israel’s successes in the war cannot be pooh-poohed. Hamas indeed was dealt a crippling blow. Hamas knows very well that the days are over when it can lob mortar shells and launching rockets at the Gaza Belt without a fierce retaliation.

However, the Israeli public, including the influential center and center-left in Tel Aviv, no longer trusts agreements with Arabs and does not trust the Israeli government, no matter who is charge, to walk out of diplomatic negotiations without opened up the chicken barn for the foxes.

“Hamas is isolated politically, and we received legitimacy in the international community,” Netanyahu insisted. He said that Israel won solid backing in the international community, and that is true – today. And maybe tomorrow.

By next week, it will have evaporated into thin air, and once again there will be international demands that Israel make peace by diplomatic suicide.

One of the most disturbing statements at the press conference was made by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who boasted that it will take Hamas 10 years to re-build.

So what do we have? A 10-year respite before the next war?

Netanyahu noted that Israel has allegedly enjoyed peace and quiet in the north since the cease-fire that ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Mixed Reactions Among Leaders in Southern Israel to Ceasefire

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Details of the current ceasefire between Israel and Hamas are being revealed, and the agreement obtained by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are generating mixed reactions among the leaders of the South. The majority of the reactions are against the truce, and all voiced skepticism about its viability. Itamar Shimoni, Mayor of Ashkelon, harshly condemned the ceasefire, calling it a surrender to terror: “The residents of the South wanted a decisive victory, but it seems they will not receive it,” said Shimoni, “We wanted to see Hamas begging for its life, while in fact we are witnessing Israel running to the negotiations table every chance it has to do so.” Shimoni further believes that objectives set for Operation ‘Protective Edge’ were not achieved: “We did not lose 64 soldiers and six citizens for this ‘achievement’. We sat in bomb shelters for two months and incurred heavy financial losses, but not for this ‘achievement’. we expected much more. Hamas made demands while using force, and it seems they will get what they demanded. the conclusion is the terror pays.” Shimoi believes that the current ceasefire with Hamas will not last long: “We have already begun to prepare of the next round of violence, and it will be more deadly and violent than what we have experienced up until now.”

Tamir Idan, Head of the Sdot Negev Regional Council, also believes that the current ceasefire is a surrender to terror. relating to the IDF’s refrain from responding to Hamas’ heavy fire on Israel hours before the ceasefire took effect, Idan stated: “The ceasefire is Israel’s agreement by silence that it is possible to fire relentlessly at Israel with no response just before the commencing of the ceasefire, and this is very grave. We demand that the State of Israel and the IDF stand by their vow to respond to every incident in a harsh and meaningful fashion.” Yair Farjun, Head of the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, believes the ceasefire has little credibility. “We cannot become indifferent and must remain vigilant, at least in the coming days. the government must stand fast and ensure that the terror organization does not achieve any meaningful objectives, while planning to bring down the Hamas regime if the fire is renewed.”

Alon Shuster, Head of the Sha’ar Ha’Negev Regional Council, is the only leader to voice support for the ceasefire. “The great pain caused by the bloody incidents in the past days emphasizes the need to stop the violence in our region. I support the ceasefire and the negotiations that are supposed to commence in its wake,” said Shuster. Despite his support for the ceasefire, Shuster too is skeptical about its practicability. “If the terror organizations renew their fire that will be the sign for Israel’s government to enter into a deep military campaign in the Gaza Strip that will uproot the Hamas regime. if the terror ceases its crimes and cooperates with a disarmament process, the rehabilitation of Gaza will be possible,” concluded Shuster.

Despite the ceasefire, the residents of the south are reportedly reluctant to return to their homes after fleeing them weeks ago. They have little faith that the truce will hold for long, basing their decision not to return on past experience. As the opening of the school year nears they will have make a final decision if to risk relying on the current truce.

Cease-fire Terms: Even U.S. Sounds Dubious, and No Mention of ’2 State Solution’

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

The 50-day war waged between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and Israel is once again on hold, as the latest cease-fire – there have already been more than a dozen – began at 7:00 p.m. IST, on Tuesday, Aug. 26.

So what are the terms of this cease-fire? What was gained, and what was lost, during the War of the Summer of ’14?

First, the terms:

As of 7:00 p.m. local time, all violence on the part of Israel and of Gazans had to cease. In addition, closed border crossings between Israel and Egypt and the Gaza Strip were reopened, and the distance from the shore in which Gazans are permitted to fish was expanded.

It also  appears, although this is not entirely clear, that Hamas has agreed to allow the Palestinian Authority to assume responsibility for overseeing the passage of people and goods in and out of Gaza.

The second stage of activity is intended to take place in a month, if the first set of conditions hold. These include discussions between the parties about the construction of a sea port in Gaza, and, ultimately, the rebuilding of a Gaza airport which was destroyed years ago following terrorist acts by Gazans.

In addition, the parties are to discuss Israel’s release of Hamas members who had been imprisoned during the search for the three kidnapped and murdered Israeli teens.  This term may constitute an exchange for body parts and personal belongings of two Israeli soldiers who were killed in Gaza and which are believed to be held by Hamas.

So, who won? Or, to put it more accurately, who lost the least?

Hamas accepted terms that it rejected during earlier cease-fire discussions, and  it essentially returned to the status quo reached in a 2012 ceasefire. On its major points, all it won was the agreement to have discussions about the items, such as the rebuilding of an airport and the creation of a seaport.

The number one goal of Hamas: a complete lifting of the blockade over the Gaza Strip, is not even on the agenda as a talking point. Plus, a few thousand Gazans are dead, and some neighborhoods are in ruins.

Israel was able to destroy at least the vast majority of the terror tunnels into Israel and to eliminate several senior members of the terrorist leadership. But Israel lost more than 60 soldiers and six civilians, including a four year old boy. And the trauma to its southern border communities and lost sense of security across huge swathes of Israel is an inestimable loss. What’s more, it’s number one stated goal was to disarm Hamas, and that talking point is glaringly absent from this truce agreement.

Even the United States finally seemed to have received the memo: there is no complete end in sight.

In his press release about the ceasefire, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his support and his hope that it will be “durable and sustainable.” He also included such cautionary terms for the effort as “an opportunity and not a certainty.”

But here’s the best part of Kerry’s statement. He talks about what he sees as the true goals of the people of Israel and the people of Gaza. And he talks about a path to meet those goals. And he does not mention the loathsome, until now inexorable three word incantation: two state solution.

We are approaching the next phase with our eyes wide open. We have been down this road before and we are all aware of the challenges ahead. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians have strong views about their needs and the future of the region. Certain bedrock outcomes, though, are essential if there is to be long term solution for Gaza. Israelis have to be able to live in peace and security, without terrorist attacks, without rockets, without tunnels, without sirens going off and families scrambling to bomb shelters. Palestinians also need to be able to live in peace and security and have full economic and social opportunities to build better lives for themselves and for their children. Getting there will not be easy, but it is the only path to a future that the people on both sides deserve.

The absence of that three word absurdity is certainly welcome. Even if the reason for its absence is that it is Hamas and Gaza, rather than the “West Bank” and the PA that are being discussed, it is still a step forward, for it was not long ago that Kerry and other U.S. officials were talking about the future Palestinian State being “contiguous,” meaning,  the West Bankistan and Hamasistan would be conjoined.

That single step forward may be what constitutes a victory for Israel, one dearly bought, to be sure, but important nonetheless.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/cease-fire-terms-even-u-s-sounds-dubious-and-no-mention-of-2-state-solution/2014/08/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: