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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Gaza’

A Not-So-Happy Anniversary

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Israel had an anniversary of sorts this month. It was by no means a celebratory event.

There was no excitement, as there is with Yom Ha’Atzmaut, when we commemorate the occasion of Israel’s birth as a nation in 1948. There was no exultation, as there is on Yom Yerushalayim, when we remember the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. In fact, many people failed to note that there was a date on the calendar worth remembering.

This month marked the ninth anniversary of the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. In August 2005, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon oversaw one of the most dark and disturbing chapters in Israel’s history when he ordered the expulsion of approximately 9,000 Jews from Gaza. Entire communities were uprooted, over 2,500 homes were destroyed, and countless families were displaced.

The images of Jews forcibly removing fellow Jews from their homes left an indelible mark on the psyche of the Jewish nation. Watching men and women, young and old, weep as they were escorted from their homes was especially painful, and seeing children forced to leave the only homes they had ever known was absolutely heart-wrenching.

We watched with horror as Jewish residents who refused to leave willingly clashed with the Jewish soldiers tasked with evicting them from their homes. As the residents barricaded themselves inside synagogues and climbed atop the roofs of their homes in acts of defiance, we shuddered and wondered how the situation has spiraled out of control so quickly.

Ultimately, every Jewish resident was evacuated from Gaza and shortly thereafter the Israel Defense Forces completely withdrew from the area, thereby ceding control of Gaza to the Palestinians.

Following the expulsion from Gaza, the situation for the former residents worsened considerably. The financial compensation promised by the Israeli government never fully materialized. People were relocated to temporary domiciles. The unemployment rate among the residents skyrocketed. The sociological ramifications of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza were quite dire.

The political consequences, as we know, were calamitous. Although Prime Minister Sharon believed the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza would improve Israel’s security and burnish its reputation in the international community, his dream never materialized.

Hamas took control of Gaza and quickly turned it into a hotbed of terrorism. What had just recently been vibrant bastions of Jewish life morphed into the main command center for Hamas’s jihad against Israel.

Over the past several weeks, more than 3,300 rockets were fired from Gaza by Hamas terrorists. Those are in addition to the 11,000-plus rockets fired at Israel from Gaza since the withdrawal in 2005.

In addition to Operation Protective Edge, Israel was forced to embark on Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 in response to relentless rocket fire from Gaza. In 2008, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in an effort to impair Hamas’s ability to launch rockets at Israeli cities.

While hindsight is 20/20, at this juncture it is easy to ascertain that the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security. The fact that over 5 million Israelis live under a constant threat of rocket attacks emanating from Gaza is a stark and scary reminder of how vulnerable Israel has become after it chose to vacate Gaza.

Rather than questioning Sharon’s decision to leave Gaza devoid of any trace of the Israeli presence that existed prior to the withdrawal in 2005, we must look to the future and ask: What now? What happens next?

The reality is that over the past several weeks we’ve witnessed the increased firepower that Hamas has amassed, including long-range rockets that can strike Israeli cities that until now had been considered out of harm’s way. We saw the callous disregard Hamas has for human life and the intense hatred it harbors for Israel.

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.

US Embassy Personnel Collect Israeli Drone Parts After Crash Near Baghdad

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

For the third time in a week, an Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was reportedly shot down, this time in Iraq, near the Baghdad Airport, according to the Iranians.

According to reports by the Iran state-run FARS news agency and the Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen television network, the UAV was a Hermes model drone. U.S. embassy personnel went to the site to collect the remains.

A drone was allegedly shot down by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on Monday as it was approaching the Natanz uranium enrichment nuclear plant.

Also this week, the Izz a-Din al-Qassam military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization that rules Gaza claimed it ‘seized’ a “Zionist reconnaissance plane” in eastern Gaza City.

Of course, Iran has a history of making up these type of news and victory stories, so we’re taking these drone reports with a big grain of salt.

Is UNRWA Aiding Terrorism?

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) has come under increasing fire in recent weeks for aiding Hamas in the terror group’s war against Israel, with one advocacy group lodging a formal complaint against the organization. As evidence seems to continue to emerge of the use of the agency’s schools and clinics as Hamas storehouses, rocket launching sites and tunnel entrances, protest has grown in Israel and abroad that the organization, established to aid the Palestinian Arab refugee population, has far exceeded its mandate by aiding and sustaining the psychological and physical assault on Israeli civilians and infrastructure.

At the same time that evidence was mounting that the UN agency was allowing Hamas to use its facilities to launch attacks on Israel, a number of statements were issued by UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon criticizing Israel for use of disproportionate force. In response, the Legal Forum for Israel drafted a letter to Moon decrying his accusations and denouncing the lack of accountability by the international body for its role in the violence.

Several thousand attorneys from around the world signed the August 15 letter, which called Moon’s statements “shocking, deceitful and totally inaccurate” in light of the extraordinary efforts made by the IDF to minimize civilian casualties at the cost of its own soldiers’ lives, especially when compared to the continued appropriation of UN facilities by Hamas in its war on Israel.

“We are shocked at your utter disregard of the fact that the very UN premises of which you accuse Israel of attacking, have been cynically abused by Hamas and used as store-houses for ammunition, and launching pads for rockets,” read the statement.

“Rather than falsely accusing Israel,” the letter continued, “one might have expected that as the executive head of the UN, you would have admitted responsibility of the UN for such abuse of its facilities, and instituted a thorough inquiry as to how and why UNRWA facilities were placed at the disposal of the Hamas terror organization, how and why the UN officials responsible for such facilities permitted this situation to occur, and why those rockets and other weapons that were discovered in such facilities were transferred to Hamas, for their continued use against Israel’s citizens.

“In permitting the storage of weapons, and in transferring such weapons into the hands of Hamas,” the letter asserted, “the UN has in fact permitted itself to become accessory to the commission of war crimes.”

The statement concluded by calling on Moon to conduct a “high-level inquiry” of these infractions and to bring its perpetrators within the organization to justice, and charged that the Secretary-General’s “exaggerated, selective, biased and often false accusations against Israel and [his] total disregard of the truth have irreparably discredited [him] and the UN.”

Last Friday’s death of four-year-old Daniel Tragerman, killed in his home by mortar fire originating near a UNRWA school close to the Gaza-Israel border, capped a string of incidents involving UN facilities in Gaza. On July 30, IDF troops operating in Khan Yunis discovered a terror tunnel that had been dug inside a UNRWA medical clinic. Three soldiers were killed in the subsequent inspection when Hamas detonated 12 explosive devices they had embedded in the clinic’s walls as a booby trap.

The previous day, a stockpile of rockets was found in an UNRWA school in Gaza. The agency acknowledged the find but did not disclose the number of rockets found, the location of the school or which terror group the arms belonged to. Days earlier, an IDF investigation had found that Hamas terrorists fired anti-tank missiles at the army from within a different UNRWA school complex.

In addition, the IDF says at least 30 rockets have been fired at Israeli civilians from UNRWA compounds or places adjacent to them throughout the war.
On July 22, the UN agency found yet another cache of rockets stockpiled in one of its schools, which it said was “situated between two other UNRWA schools that currently each accommodate 1,500 internally displaced persons.”

This came just a week after some 20 Hamas rockets were discovered hidden in a different UNRWA school. Although the organization condemned the incident as a “flagrant violation” of international law, pledged an investigation, and later declared that the rockets had been removed, senior Israeli officials maintained that the rockets were simply returned to Hamas.

In another incident, while inspecting a terror tunnel in a private house in Gaza, IDF forces found UNRWA equipment that has been used to dig the tunnel, along with flour sacks bearing the UNRWA logo that were used for concealment purposes.

Admissions of malfeasance by at least one senior official of UNRWA bolstered the indictments leveled at the UN’s role in Gaza and its official conduct in the conflict. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official told Times of Israel that his agency has been suffering from “battered-wife syndrome” for years and continues to “ingratiate itself with Hamas.”

Another UNRWA official said that the organization gave rockets that it found to “local authorities,” which answer to Hamas.

There is also evidence that the terror group has infiltrated the agency’s labor unions and school system.

According to David Bedein, head of the Center for Near East Policy Research, Hamas has been in control of UNRWA’s workers’ union for many years. In the last union elections on September 2012, the “Professional List,” led by Hamas operative Suhail al-Hindi, won all 11 of the seats that had been allocated to the teachers’ sector, six out of seven of the seats in the workers’ sector and eight of the nine seats in the service sector.

A report issued by the Center also named a number of terrorist operatives holding high-level teaching positions in UNRWA schools, resulting in Hamas having a “tremendous impact on the UNRWA education system and the contents taught in it.”

The radicalization of UNRWA school curricula by Hamas, and its use of the schools as a platform for inculcating children with hatred towards Jews and a desire for martyrdom, has long been documented. Phrases like “the road to Palestine passes through the blood of martyrs” and similar imagery are part of the regular syllabus, says the report. Posters in UNRWA classrooms glorify suicide bombers, and Gazan television stations regularly broadcast shows in which children are prompted to boast of their devotion to killing Jews.

The results, according to the report, speak for themselves. “An examination of the resumes of the Al-Qassam Brigades activists who were killed reveals a pattern,” notes the paper, coauthored by Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi. “Dozens of activists in the Al-Qassam Brigades started out as activists in the Islamic Bloc in UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip, joined Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and later the military wing of Hamas, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades. All of them were involved in terrorist activities against Israel or in fighting against the IDF,” Halevi added.

“By definition, UNRWA schools function as a supportive element of the Palestinian propaganda,” says Alan Baker, Director of the International Action Division of the Legal Forum for Israel and former Israeli Ambassador to Canada. Speaking about UNRWA workers, he noted that “it’s very clear what their orientation is—by day they may work in schools and clinics, by night go out and throw stones and commit other acts of terror.”

Baker went on to say that the situation vis-à-vis Hamas and UNRWA was “unbelievably inane” and perpetuated by deceit on all levels of the United Nations body. “Drastic change needs to take place in the way the international community funds UNRWA and the way it is run by its bosses and the United Nations,” he concluded.

Israel Ambassador to UN Demands Action Against Hamas

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, has demanded the world body take action against Hamas for the terror group’s clear violations against international humanitarian law.

“Despite the fact that the UN has recognized the war crimes committed by Hamas during the fighting, nothing has been done about the matter,” he said in a letter sent to the UN Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The letter included a detailed report of terrorist artillery and missile fire that emanated from civilian population centers in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.

“I expect the Security Council to condemn with a clear voice the tactics of Hamas,” he wrote, according to the Hebrew-language NRG news site. “The Council cannot be silent in light of the use by Hamas of Gaza civilians as human shields.”

The Palestinian Authority unity government led by Ramallah-based PLO Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, which includes Hamas, has demanded the UN Security Council set a deadline for Israel to withdraw from all territory won in the 1967 Six Day War, including parts of its capital restored to the nation during that defensive conflict. Failing that, Abbas has vowed to charge Israel with war crimes in the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.

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.

Hamas Arrests 15 More “Collaborators”

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

On Wednesday, NRG reported that Hamas in Gaza arrested another 15 suspected “collaborators” with Israel.

If found guilty by Hamas (100% likely), they will most likely be executed (but probably not in public like the previous executions held last week).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/hamas-arrests-15-more-collaborators/2014/08/28/

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