Egyptians officials have admitted that 278 people, including 43 policemen, were killed in Wednesday’s violence, while the Muslim Brotherhood movement claims that more than 2,000 were killed. The true numbers are likely somewhere between the two.
The death toll was the highest since the uprising in 2011 against Hosni Mubarak. Thousands were wounded on Wednesday, and supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi attacked at least seven Coptic Christian churches and more than 20 police stations.
Relative calm returned Thursday morning, but the crisis is far from over. The Egyptian military, now the official ruler of Egypt for at least 30 days, is trying to maintain a calmer position following the extreme condemnation of the violence by the United States and the United Nations.
Vice-president Mohamed ElBaradei, a pro-reform leader in the interim government, quit Wednesday night following the announcement of the month-long state of emergency.
The United States is considering canceling a joint military drill with Egypt that is held every two years. Washington already has postponed the delivery of four more F-16 warplanes to Egypt in light of the military coup that ousted Morsi from power.
In a graphic reminder of how close Egypt is to the edge, if it hasn’t crossed that line already, Islamic supporters in Egypt were caught on camera throwing two youths off the roof of a building. If that wasn’t enough, they began beating the boy’s crushed bodies, reminiscent of the act of cannibalism that underscored the complete breakdown of civilization in Syria, when a Syrian rebel ate the heart of a Syrian soldier, on camera.
The youths were celebrating the overthrow of the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi. The Islamists decided to put an end to that.
Islamic and revolutionary opponents have been fighting in the streets since the military coup. The Islamists seem to have an actual majority in Egpyt, where between 30% – 50% of the nation are illiterate.
As an aside, following the precedent of Hamas’s violent coup in Gaza, Judea and Samaria will clearly descend into the same chaos and anarchy if Kerry has his way, and a Palestinian state is created on this side of the Jordan river.
The Syrian government issued a travel advisory today to Syrian citizens, warning them against traveling to Turkey, for their own safety, according the Syrian government’s official news site, SANA.
The Syrian foreign ministry warned its citizens about the deteriorating security situation in several Turkish cities, and the escalating protest violence between the Turkish government and Turkish protesters.
Syria even called on Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to stop the violent repression of the protesters, and if he can’t, then to resign.
The Foreign and Expatriates Ministry advises the Syrian citizens against traveling to Turkey during this period for fear for their safety, due to the security conditions in some Turkish cities that have deteriorated over the past days and the violence practiced by Erdogan’s government against peaceful protesters.
The advisory is similar to the one that Turkey published against travel to Syria.
The Syrian civil war has left 80,000 people dead. Turkey, which shares a border with Syria, has taken in a few hundred thousand Syrian refugees who fled from the violence.
When we think of warfare, most of us think of tanks roaring across the desert, dogfights in the air, infantry battles, or even guerrilla war, in which shadowy figures strike and then melt away. But when enemy populations are closely intermingled, then warfare can also comprise what we normally think of as crime. So when one population deliberately targets another in order to damage morale, to increase insecurity and even to drive them out, and when they do it for nationalistic motives, it can be more than a nuisance — it can be war.
This kind of warfare is traditional in the Middle East, where simple banditry is often more than that. I’ve written about how thefts and vandalism in the Galilee and the Negev have given rise to vigilante groups to protect farmers from wholesale loss of animals, machinery and crops to Bedouin and Palestinian thieves.
But today a far worse situation has arisen in Judea and Samaria where attempted murder — and sometimes the attempts are successful — is a daily occurrence. Although one often hears that terrorism in Israel has become far less frequent recently, this is simply not true. It is just much less likely to make the news if it occurs in Judea and Samaria, or if it happens to that less-than-human being, a ‘settler’.
There are multiple reasons for this. Palestinian Arab ideology encourages them to see themselves as oppressed, so anything they do is “justified.” Parents often encourage their children to act out their feelings of victimization, or at least accept their behavior, even when it’s violent. Official Palestinian media and schools continually glorify all forms of ‘resistance’, even murder.
The Israeli police are in general ineffective and outnumbered. The IDF operates with strict rules of engagement, and anyway is the not the best tool — after all, armies are, or should be, designed to kill people — to deal with theft, arson, vandalism and harassment (which, nevertheless, often turns into murder).
And then there is most of the Israeli and international media, which seem to believe that if a ‘settler’ gets hurt, it’s his or her own fault for living in a place where, “Palestinians want the land for their future state.” According to them, the solution to the problem is “peace” and a “two-state solution.”
Anyone with sense enough to listen to what the Palestinian Arabs themselves say knows that they consider Haifa, Acco, Yafo, Lod, etc. Arab land too. I suspect that if the Jews abandoned everything but downtown Tel Aviv, the violence would follow them there.
These reports are translated and publicized by Yehudit Tayar for Hatzalah Yehudah and Shomron with the clearance and confirmation of the IDF. Hatzalah Yehudah and Shomron is a voluntary emergency medical organization with over 500 volunteer doctors, paramedics, medics who are on call 24/7 and work along with the IDF, 669 IAF Airborne Rescue, the security officers and personal throughout Yesha and the Jordan Valley, and with MDA [Magen David Adom]. …
From the reports which we received here is a partial summary of the hundreds of attempts to murder innocent Jews during the past week;
3 IDF soldiers, 9 civilians, and 3 policemen were injured:
• Civilian injured from rocks a Sinjal, child injured moderately from bottle thrown on bus at the Mt. of Olives, young civilian injured from rocks near Ofra, 5 children moderately from rocks between El Hadar and Efat,
• IDF soldier moderately [injured] from rocks near the Tunnel Road, IDF soldier moderately in his head from rocks near T Junction in Etzion, IDF soldier moderately at El Fuar, Border policeman moderately from rocks at Abu Dis, 2 policemen moderately at the Temple Mt., Fireman moderately injured from rocks at Issawiya during attempt to extinguish a fire at Opharin Base.
We received reports of at least 143 Molotov Cocktail attacks:
100 at Azoria, 6 Abu Dis, 9 Shuafat Refugee Camp, 1 at bus at El Arub, 5 at car and 1 at security vehicle near Ofra, 4 Kever Rachel, 3 at security force at Tunnel Road checkpost, 4 at security force El Fuar, 3 at security force at Parsa Junction,1 thrown by rioters at Shuafat which caused a fire to break out near Pisgat Ze’ev, 1 at Ophrit Base, 2 at the security fence near Ja’ama. [Molotov cocktails, of course, are gasoline bombs that can and have burned people to death or scarred them for life — ed]
10 explosive devices at Azaria
5 Arab rioters attacked a yeshiva student on his way to the Kotel (Western Wall)
3 PA policemen were apprehended who were involved in the murder of Ben Zion Livnat HY”D, after they had beenreleased from prison by the PA after serving short sentences.
Arab with improvised weapon caught in his car at Bene Naim
This week also there were scores of attempted murder of innocent men, women and children by Arabs attacking with rocks thrown on the roads at the cars as they drove in their vehicles:
A partial list of the places where the attacks occurred:
160 turn – Hevron, Policeman checkpost – Hevron, Adoriam Junction Southern Hevron Hills, El Fuar, near the Tunnel Road checkpost, Har Homa-Tekoa Highway, near the Spring by Hevron, El Arub, H Junction, T Junction by Tekoa, Arab Tekoa, between Efrat and El Hadar, Halhul, luben A-Shrakia, Postmans Junction Benjamin Region, Ras Karkar, Wadi Haramia, Sin’jil, Dir Abu Mishal, Nebe Zalah, near Ofra, Abud bypass, near Na’alin, Betliu, El Moyar, near Ba’al Hazor, Shokba, Abu Dis, Azaria, the Temple Mt., A’Zaim checkpost, Ras hamis, Issowiya, at the almond grove in Yitzhar, between Ariel and Nofei Nechemia, a rock barricade between Tapuah and Migdalim, Pundok, Gat Junction, this week also Beduin damaged property near Retamim. [This is the kind of attack that killed Asher Palmer and his son in 2011 andcritically inured a young girl this March — ed].
Here is a short video to give you a taste of what “stoning” is like:
For decades in the Middle East the most reliable political tool often seemed to be the Israel card, the idea that by condemning Israel, blaming it for the Arab world’s problems, and claiming that those who were insufficiently militant on the issue were traitors.
But the Israel card doesn’t work anymore, at least not in the way it used to do so. True, the rise of revolutionary Islamism has focused more hatred against Israel. Yet at the same time—and this analogy is imperfect—it is less of a single-issue movement. As revolutionary Islamists seek to destroy their rivals (nationalist, moderates, and each other) and fundamentally transform their own societies, they are kept pretty busy.
Jibril Rajoub, a senior Fatah official and supposed moderate, may insist that Israel is the main enemy of the Arabs and Muslims, but the Arabs and Muslims aren’t paying much attention. The Palestinian Authority which his group runs–and which rules only on the West Bank [Judea and Samaria -.ed]–has no Middle Eastern patron at all.
The Sunni-Shia conflict is deepening, with clashes already taking place in Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and above all Syria. Indeed, the Syrian civil war is a full-scale contest between the two blocks. Even Muslim Brotherhood think-tanks have said that the Shia, and especially Iran, are more dangerous threats than is Israel.
The chance that these two blocs would cooperate against Israel is close to zero. It was different a few years ago.
Before the “Arab Spring,” Iran seemed set to become the region’s Muslim superpower. If Tehran obtained nuclear weapons (sometimes referred to as the “Islamic bomb”) it was expected to wield growing influence throughout the Arab world.
Today, however, that situation has reversed itself. Sunni Arabs, whether they are Islamists or anti-Islamists, openly hate and fear Iran. A nuclear weapon in Tehran’s hands would not increase its strategic or political influence. Iran faces a Sunni wall against its ambitions and it is almost without Arab allies.
As for Hizballah, Iran’s sole reliable ally, it is not able to attack Israel from southern Lebanon. Thousands of its soldiers are tied up in Syria to keep an arms’ supply open, help the Bashar al-Assad regime win, and protect Shia villagers. It also faces growing opposition from Sunni Muslims, financed by the Saudis and stirred up by hatred over Hizballah’s actions in Syria, within Lebanon itself. Plus the fact that the Lebanese don’t want to be victimized by Hizballah going to war with Israel given the damage suffered in the late round in 2006.
And what of the Syrian regime itself? For decades it held Syria together in large part by portraying itself as the most courageous, militant force rejecting peace with Israel and striving to wipe that country off the map. As late as three or four years ago, President Bashar al-Assad’s strong support for Hizballah, opposition to the “peace process,” and championing of Sunni terrorists in Iraq was enough to hold the country together. Yet the seeds of Sunni Islamism he planted in Syria because it supported him at the time have now blown up in his face. His anti-Israel credentials don’t matter anymore in mobilizing support for his continued rule.
This disintegration and the multiplication of issues and enemies is not, of course, due only to the Sunni-Shia issue. There has also been a sharp revival of Arab identity against the Turks and Persians. The region’s history of such ethnic clashes has been revived. If the Syrian civil war ends in a rebel victory, the winners will soon turn against their Turkish patrons. Indeed, while the trade between the two countries is still growing, the Syria issue has driven a deep rift between Turkey and Iran, who are supporting opposite sides.
Even Muslim Brotherhood Egypt and Muslim Brotherhood Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, have fallen out, albeit perhaps temporarily. The Egyptian government is unhappy that Hamas has not cracked down enough on the Salafists in Gaza and the Sinai who want to attack it.
In addition, Egypt—busy with internal transformation, domestic conflicts, and economic problems, wants Hamas to keep things quiet on its border with Egypt. Israeli officials describe current security cooperation with the Egyptian government, or at least the intelligence services and military, as being quite good. Disputes between Muslim Brotherhood groups and even more radical Salafists are creating problems in Egypt and Syria.
In Vienna, toward the end of the Age of Aquarius, a father bought his little girl a baby crocodile for her birthday. The child had become enchanted with the reptile after seeing a picture of it in a storybook and when all the other presents were opened, her new pet was presented to her.
The little girl was delighted with the present. She began to play with the baby croc and then tried to kiss it. The croc bit her on the nose. The little girl began to cry and had to be taken to the hospital. And the angry father went off to dispose of the nasty little beast.
On the next day, the police responded to reports of a strange creature in the Danube canal, that arm of the great river which flows timidly through the locks and into the city. Vienna being full of animal lovers, the crocodile was rescued from the canal while the father was reprimanded for nearly causing the creature, used to the warmer climes of the east, to perish of a cold in the chilly waters.
The matter was worried over in the newspaper columns dedicated to one of the rare events in a city where not very much was happening.
Scandalized animal lovers complained that the beast had been misunderstood. They urged readers to empathize with the crocodile. Imagine, they said, that a giant creature a hundred times your size brings you close to its parted mouth. Could they not see that the crocodile was convinced that it was about to be eaten and was only defending itself?
Wiser heads suggested that the father should never have introduced a dangerous creature into his home and once he had introduced it, he should have expected that it would bite. Like the fable of the Scorpion and the Frog; biting was in its nature. And throwing it into the canal after it had bitten one of us was in our nature.
The subject was fortunately confined to crocodiles, canals and little girls. There was no talk of the ’75 hostage crisis in which the Austrian government allowed the Arm of the Arab Revolution led by Carlos the Jackal to escape to Algeria with his hostages after murdering a police officer.
Not long after the crocodile controversy, two Muslim terrorists armed with machine guns and grenades attacked a synagogue where a Bar Mitzvah celebration for children was taking place. Hesham Mohammed Rajeh, a mathematics student, had been living in Austria for two years. When he was later put on trial, he tried to kick the judge and shouted, “When I am out of here, I will spit on you.”
Hesham Mohammed Rajeh and Marwan Hasan shouted “PLO, PLO” and began to shoot and throw their grenades.
Ulrike Kohut, 25, rolled in front of a grenade to protect another woman’s child. She died of her injuries on the way to the hospital. Lotan “Nathan” Fried, 68, died of shrapnel wounds on the same route. Many more were wounded including a pregnant woman and a 12-year-old girl.
Two policemen and an Israeli bodyguard shot it out with the terrorists and won. Their arrest was followed by a phone call in broken German threatening bombings if they were not released, but this time, perhaps because no actual bomb was found, the authorities held firm and the crocodiles stayed in the canal.
A month earlier, two terrorists had been stopped at the airport after Kalashnikov rifles and hundreds of grenades were found in their luggage. The terrorists had been deported and the authorities had lodged a formal protest with Ghazi Hussein, the PLO representative in Vienna, who had been there to meet them at the airport, and eventually kicked him out of the country. Four years later, that airport was the scene of a hand grenade attack in which 39 people were wounded.
Austria’s Socialist Chancellor, Bruno Kreisky, despite being of Jewish ancestry, was fond of Muslim terrorists and of Nazis, but not at all of Jews. Despite being on the left, Kreisky had a habit of filling his cabinet with former Nazis while comparing Zionism to Nazism. His political success rested on a welfare state built with Soviet money funneled through commercial orders and turning a blind eye to terrorist attacks carried out with Soviet and Polish machine guns was part of the price.
Israel, as a liberal democratic country dedicated to human rights and women’s rights, seeks to help South Sudan address gender-based violence, a significant problem in that country.
Helen Animashaun, a volunteer working with the South Sudan Women Empowerment Center, wrote in the Huffington Post, “The reality of life for women in the world’s newest country is harsh; it is full of challenges and limited opportunities.” She reports that “[a]ccess to healthcare and education in South Sudan is simply not an option in many places. The statistics speak for themselves: more than 80% of women are illiterate and one in seven women die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth.” Nevertheless, Animashaun wrote that “the greatest challenge women experience is the social acceptance of sexual and gender based violence.”
According to Human Rights Watch, about 48 percent of young girls in South Sudan between the ages of 15 and 19 are forced into marriages by their families, who are often given generous gifts as dowries in return. If a girl dares to resist, they can face violent actions from their families. In fact, some South Sudanese girls are even murdered or raped for attempting to resist such arranged teenage marriages. In one particularly brutal case, a 17-year-old girl was raped and beaten to death in South Sudan for not submissively accepting her family’s decision to marry her off to a 75-year-old man.
According to Ophelie Namiech, IsraAID’s country director in South Sudan,
After more than 40 years of conflict, displacement and poverty, the people of South Sudan are facing enormous social challenges!…Violence against women is pervasive and has been exacerbated by decades of war that have left many children without a proper family structure, education or health care… A large portion of the population suffers from deep trauma that prevents them from being fully included in the development process.
Namiech claims that Juba, South Sudan’s capital city, has not been spared these challenges facing all of South Sudan. “On the contrary, rapes, human trafficking, and under-aged prostitution have all dramatically increased due to rapid and uncontrolled urbanization,” she claims.
Namiech emphasized that “In particular the children in some slum areas are exposed to appalling and sustained sexual abuse. Sexual pressure is very strong in Juba – especially in the most vulnerable areas of the capital where young girls quickly fall into the cycle of sexual violence and exploitation.”
It is not uncommon to see girls as young as eight years old in Juba raped, Namiech says. “In those areas, those girls are condemned to spend their lives in the street, looking for food in the garbage behind market places and being surrounded by violent drunk and drugged men who abused and mistreat them.”
IsraAID, as an Israeli humanitarian organization seeking to improve the status of women within developing countries in addition to providing pivotal emergency relief assistance, has a program to combat gender-based violence in South Sudan that works with local services such as the State Ministry of Gender and Social Development, the South Sudan Police Service as well as several local community-based organizations to help them better address violence against women in South Sudan. IsraAID trains, mentors, and accompanies these South Sudanese actors so that one day they will better be able to address cases of violence against women on their own.
In 2012 alone, IsraAID trained 172 service providers on gender-based violence, as well as how to design and implement gender-based violence related programs. Nevertheless, despite IsraAID’s best efforts, Namiech claimed, “When we monitor the situation in the slum areas with our local partner Confident Children Out of Conflict [the only local NGO that has a shelter for 35 vulnerable girls] we often find very young girls wandering the slum areas alone without any clothes on, who rapidly become surrounded by abusive men.” Namiech has attempted to help such young girls, yet unfortunately there are many of them. “I have seen those scenes myself. They are heartbroken,” she asserts.
Nevertheless, despite the violent plight endured by way too many women living in South Sudan, IsraAID has been able to make a difference there. According to Namiech, “A few weeks ago, the police and social workers that IsraAID has been training since 2012, have encouraged reporting and succeeded in bringing before court the case of a 14-year old girl victim of rape. This is, in itself, a small successful first step.” In addition, IsraAID has sponsored advocacy sessions on gender based violence within South Sudan involving legal, social and security services as well as members of the South Sudanese community.
IsraAID has also supported awareness sessions on gender-based violence in schools and raising public awareness about this issue in the local media as well as training sessions and workshops designed to increase cooperation between social workers and the police in order to work towards increasing reportage of cases of gender based violence. In February 2013, more cases in fact were brought to courts than previously, although there still is much work to be done on this issue. Yet, what IsraAID is doing by training local South Sudanese on gender-based violence is a step in the right direction towards improving the plight of all South Sudanese women.