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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

HaZorfim wins tender to supply Hamas with silver platter

The venerable HaZorfim silver chain has won a government tender to supply the silver platter on which Hamas' victory in the recent war will be placed (Hat Tip: Danny S).
Proposed designs for the platter varied widely, but the winning selection will be oval, with ornamental handles and a pattern in bas-relief that spells out “Death to the Jews” in one direction and “In blood and fire, we will free you, Palestine.” The size will exceed twelve meters in diameter along the platter’s longest dimension, and slightly more than eight meters across at its shortest.
The exact amount of the impending transaction was not disclosed, but sources close to the Prime Minister’s Office placed it at about 10 million shekels (about $3M). Manufacture of the platter, which will be handmade, is expected to take approximately two weeks, with delivery to occur via the Kerem Shalom crossing along with several truckloads of dual-use cement that can be incorporated into more tunnels into southern Israeli communities for purposes of kidnapping or massacres.
Yosef Merdiger, a spokesman for HaZorfim and a descendant of its founder, offered details of the platter’s design. “We have yet to produce an item of this scale, but the principles of its production are in line with our other products,” he explained, noting that the company makes a large variety of silver trays, typically to hold Sabbath candlesticks. “The platter will be of classic design, of the sort that HaZorfim preserved from Romania in the 1940′s. That will drive home the idea that what is happening now is a repeat of what happened to the Jews of Romania and Eastern Europe at large during that fateful decade.”
He added that the packaging for the platter will also include instructions on how to melt down the metal for use in various weapons systems.
Read the whole thing.

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Did Hamas win?

David Horovitz explains how Hamas may have just won the war.
[I]f, under a long-term deal, Hamas is able to replicate Hezbollah’s strategy in Lebanon — to retain full or significant control of Gaza, to re-arm, to build a still more potent killing mechanism — then its claims of victory, appallingly, will be justified.
Only if a long-term mechanism can be fashioned that denies Hamas the capacity to fight and kill another day will the Israeli leadership be justified in asserting that its goal — ensuring sustained calm and security for the people of Israel — has been met.
The early word is that Israel has made no commitment to meeting any of the central, long-standing Hamas demands — for a lifting of the security blockade, and for the opening of a seaport and an airport. These are concessions that, if agreed in the absence of an effective supervisory mechanism, would give Hamas the ready means to strengthen itself militarily. But it is extremely hard to imagine how such an effective supervisory mechanism could be constructed. And one can only wonder whether Hamas, if it is denied concessions on those issues in the coming weeks of negotiations, will refrain from renewing the conflict.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s popularity has nosedived in recent weeks as the war has continued, as the rockets have pounded on, and as residents of the south have learned to their bloody cost that the political and military leadership were wrong in assuring them three weeks ago that it was safe for them to return to their homes. Support for Netanyahu’s handling of the conflict will rise again if time, and the long-term ceasefire terms, prove that Hamas has been marginalized and de-fanged. Many Israelis, indeed, will come to hail him for not having ordered a far more extensive ground offensive into the treacherous heart of Gaza, where Hamas lay in wait, with the consequent likely loss of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of soldiers’ lives.
But if Hamas is not marginalized, if it proves capable of rebuilding its tunnels, restocking its rocket arsenals, and plotting new strategies toward its goal of Israel’s annihilation, the Israeli strategy for handling this conflict will have been a failure, and the popularity of the prime minister will be far from the most central of Israel’s concerns.
I would guess that Hamas will start shooting again when (not if, but when) they don't get what they want at the negotiating table. Of course, it's possible that Netanyahu will just give them what they want anyway.

What could go wrong?

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Shame on you, Netanwho?

The office of the soon-to-be-deposed Prime Minister declared 'victory' this morning.
"We were victorious in the negotiation phase,” said Liran Dan, Head of the National Information Directorate in the Prime Minister's Office, in an interview with IDF Radio Wednesday. “The military blow that the IDF dealt Hamas – the hardest it has experienced since it was founded – was heavy and meaningful. What we saw is that in a prolonged and well executed campaign, Hamas suffered a harsh military blow and damage to the most heavily constructed arrays it built.”
Idan said that Hamas built up networks of rockets, attack tunnels and terror forces over years with the intent of using them against Israel, and these have been smashed by the IDF. 
"We should ask the opposite question,” Dan said. “What has Hamas achieved with this campaign? It set out with a very clear goal and did not achieve it.” Hamas wanted sea and air ports, it wanted funding allowed into Gaza, it wanted the blockade of Gaza lifted, it wanted the terrorists who were released in the Schalit deal and recently rearrested released, it wanted Turkey and Qatar to mediate in the negotiations, and received none of these things, he noted.
Hamas thought that the Israeli public's spirit would break after one week's fighting, and was proved wrong, he insisted.
Really? Guess what's on the agenda next week in Cairo.... Air and sea ports? Check. Funding? Check. Lifting blockade? Check. Terrorist release? Check. 12-mile fishing limit? Check. The only thing that might not be on the agenda is replacing Egypt with Turkey and Qatar. So just what did Israel achieve by agreeing to a cease fire when it had Hamas reeling?

Haaretz's Barak Ravid got it right last night. 
The same Benjamin Netanyahu who ran for election five years ago, after Operation Cast Lead, on the platform that the mission had not been accomplished, that Hamas rule had to be destroyed and that he was the only one who could do it.
Netanyahu's conduct during the 50 days of fighting in Gaza highlighted the gap between his statements and promises and the reality. The prime minister, who was the most strident in his statement against Hamas, ended the confrontation with the organization in the weakest position. All he wanted was to achieve a cease-fire at just about any price. When the opportunity came, he simply grabbed it and ran.
The Egyptian cease-fire proposal that Israel accepted on Tuesday did not deliver a single achievement. The only thing that the prime minister's spokesmen could boast about on Tuesday was the denial of achievements to Hamas, such as the dissolution of its demands for a sea port, an airport and salary payments. But all those demands will be raised during the negotiations with Hamas that will resume in Cairo next week.
In return for unlimited quiet, Israel agreed to immediately open the border crossings with Gaza to humanitarian aid and to extend the fishing zone to a distance of six nautical miles. Israel also agreed to the immediate entry of construction materials for the rebuilding of Gaza, without any guarantee from either Egypt or Hamas for the establishment of a monitoring mechanism to ensure that the cement and concrete is not used for the rehabilitation of the tunnels project.
The Egyptian proposal didn't include any statement, not even a hint, regarding Israel's security demands. There was nothing about the demilitarization of the strip, the re-arming or the issue of the tunnels. When reading the thin Egyptian document to which Benjamin Netanyahu agreed, John Kerry's draft – which was rejected by the cabinet with a disdain that bordered on humiliation of the secretary of state – suddenly looks like the proposal of the year.
The third agreement that Netanyahu has signed with Hamas since he entered office in 2009 does not even return Israel to the starting point with Gaza. Netanyahu just wanted to return to the status quo that has become a personal ideology, but the reality is that Israel has regressed.
So just what has Netanyahu achieved? An audience with King Barack after the November elections that will bring nothing but more demands? 

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'We wanted to see Hamas defeated and begging for its life; instead we see Israel running to the negotiating table'

Israel has agreed to a one-month cease fire with Hamas, and the local authorities in the Gaza envelope are furious.
Tamir Idan, who heads the Sdot Negev Regional Council, said that “if the reports in the mdeia are right, and the agreement for a ceasefire is for one month only, in which Hamas's demands for constructing ports will be discussed, then this is a surrender to terror.”
He also refused to accept Israel's lack of response to a last minute attack by Hamas that killed two men in Kibbutz Nirim Tuesday.
"Israel's tacit acceptance that it is alright [for Hamas] to fire without limits, and without a response, before the ceasefire goes into force, is a very grave matter. We demand that the Israeli government and the IDF stand behind their commitment to respond in a meaningful way to any fire.”
Itamar Shimoni, Mayor of Ashkelon, said that any conmpromise with Hamas is a surrender to terror. “The residents of Israel and the south wanted to see a decision in this campaign, but this will apparently not happen,” he stated.
"We wanted to see Hamas defeated and begging for its life; instead we see Israel running to the negotiating table at every opportunity,” he added. “We did not lose 64 fighters and five civilians, including a four-year-old boy, for this 'achievement'. We did not sit in the shelters and protected spaces for almost two months for this 'achievement'. We did not take a harsh economic blow, in which businesses collapsed, for this 'achievement'. We expected a lot more than this.”
"Hamas raised demands through violence, and it seems they can expect to get what they wanted. The conclusion is that the path of terror pays off, and therefore the next round of fighting is just a matter of time. As far as I am concerned, a ceasefire agreement in this reality means starting to prepare the systems in Ashkelon for the next round, and it will be more grave and lethal than anything we have known up to now.”
The head of the Eshkol Council, Haim Yelin, said that he will not ask the residents of his region to return to their homes. “In Jerusalem there appears to be a ceasefire. I don't know what they are talking about,” he told Channel 10 news. “In Jerusalem they feel safe, and in some neighborhoods of Gaza they feel safe, but not us. We went into a war of attrition in which we paid with the lives of families and deep pain of the wounded. The government was unprepared for this war.”
The national politicians are also irate over this 'cease fire.' Half the cabinet was opposed.
Just as half of the cabinet ministers were opposed to the cease-fire, many in the coalition expressed similar opinions.

Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said “any agreement that doesn’t include eliminating the rocket threat on residents of Israel and demilitarizing the Gaza Strip is less than half of what is necessary.

“In this reality, the defense establishment will have no choice but to prepare for the next round, which will be soon,” Ariel added.

According to MK Danny Danon (Likud), in the Middle East, restraint is seen as weakness.

“Despite the heavy price Hamas paid, we did not defeat Hamas,” he said. “Fifty days of fighting, 64 soldiers killed, five civilians killed, 82,000 reservists called up, and in the end we’re back to the agreement from Operation Pillar of Defense.”

Danon said a defeat was necessary to broadcast to the whole Middle East, including Hezbollah, Islamic State and Iran, that “they should not mess with the people of Israel.”

“I am concerned we did not succeed enough. Now is the time for national introspection. The policy of restraint and hesitation hurt Israel’s deterrence,” he added.

MK Eli Yishai (Shas) said that a cease-fire without Gaza being demilitarized means Israel may as well pencil in the next round of fighting in its calendar.

“This will be time for Hamas to resupply itself with weaponry to use against Israel,” he said. “Not demilitarizing Gaza will bring Israel to another round of fighting that will be even worse.”

On the Left, lawmakers called for the government to take initiative and launch diplomatic negotiations.
What's worse, afraid he would lose, Netanyahu pulled an Ariel Sharon and circumvented a cabinet vote.
Government ministers Naftali Bennett, Avigdor Lieberman, Yitzhak Aharonovich and Gilad Erdan, who were against the deal, complained that they had merely been informed of the details of the agreement and were not given the opportunity to vote on it.

Economy Minister Bennett demanded that a vote be held on Wednesday but was informed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had received a legal opinion that a vote was not required.

A senior official in Jerusalem said on Tuesday night that Israel had informed Egypt that it accepted the proposal for a cease-fire without time limitation. The response was given only after all the ministers in the cabinet had been updated, the source said.

According to the official, the agreement does not meet Hamas' demands for a sea port, an airport, the release of prisoners and a solution to the issue of funding salaries for Gaza officials.

Each of the sides will raise its demands during the negotiations following the cease-fire; Israel will demand the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip.

Humanitarian aid, including equipment and materials to repair the damage in the Strip, will be allowed to enter Gaza through the crossings controlled by Israel. Entrance of the materials will be controlled. It is also possibly that the Gaza fishing zone will be extended.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni responded earlier to reports of the imminent cease-fire in Gaza and says that the end of the operation should not include "any significant political achievements for Hamas, which is a terrorist organization which doesn't accept our existence here."
I'll have more on this later, but let's put it this way: It takes three months to hold elections in Israel. I predict we will have them and we will have a new Prime Minister within six months. Write it down. 

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Was Aharon Sofer kidnapped?

It's now been more than four days since American yeshiva student Aharon Sofer went missing. His peers started returning to yeshiva last night, and will all be back in yeshiva by tomorrow. But Sofer, who by all indications is a serious student is nowhere to be found. There is a growing fear that Sofer was kidnapped by 'Palestinian' terrorists.
Soffer's family members expressed their great anxiety for his welfare, an anxiety has been heightened by rumors that he may possibly have been abducted. Three Israeli teens were abducted and murdered by Hamas terrorists on June 12, and fears over potential copycat crimes have remained since.
Those fears were heightened after the revenge killing of an Arab youth soon after the murdered boys' funeral in July. Mohammed Abu-Khder's body was discovered in the Jerusalem Forest the day after he went missing.
In the last two days the police decided to involve the Israel Security Agency (ISA) in the search for Soffer, after initial efforts turned up no results.
Likewise members of ZAKA, a disaster rescue organization, have been actively leading the search, aided by many dozens of volunteers. Also part of the search is a jeep unit, ATVs (All-Terrain Vehicles), a canine squad, all combing the area since Shabbat as yet to no avail.
"We don't know how to deal with this," a family member of the missing youth told Arutz Sheva. "They tell us that there are fears for his life, and there still isn't even a thread to go on, but what's driving us crazy are the rumors of an abduction."
The family member noted on the war in Gaza and growing terror in the Jerusalem area, adding "in days like these when there is tension about security, this is the worst scenario that we could have imagined."
...
One of the sources helping in the search told Arutz Sheva that the danger to Soffer's life increases with each hour that passes, saying "each passing hour that he doesn't contact us raises the concern that he is unable to contact us. There is definitely a fear for his life. Therefore, we ask for the help of the public."
This does not sound like a kid who would just disappear. If you have information, please call the Jerusalem police at 02-5391520, or the 100 emergency police hotline. 

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'Our war isn't to lift the blockade - it's to liberate Jerusalem'

You have to feel sorry for Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. Even when he says exactly what he means in Arabic (because they just won't say it in English), and it's translated into English, no one believes him. Here's a MEMRI translation of an August 17 speech by Abu Zuhri that's been on its website since yesterday, and which doesn't seem to have gotten much notice.

Let's go to the videotape. More after the video.


Given how little exposure this speech has gotten, I would argue that most of the world is not taking Sami seriously. And given the domination of the world's media by the Left, that's not surprising.

Professor Richard Landes explains.
This is our dilemma. We face an implacable enemy who wants to destroy and subject us. The enemy openly proclaims his beliefs, even acts savagely on those beliefs, and we don’t want to know that we have enemies like that. Surely, as people say so often to the Israelis, if you sat down with Hamas, I’m sure you could work something out.
We want to be nice; we don’t want to be mean. And we end up being nice to the mean and mean to the nice. If we understand that we face an apocalyptic enemy who views the “other,” the infidel, as evil that must be destroyed, then we can’t keep telling ourselves that money and economic programs will solve the problem.
As a colleague said to me once about Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, “I wouldn’t have that on my shelf.”
Academia, which tells us how to think, and the media, which tells us what to think, are both dominated by liberals.

What could go wrong?

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The most important story you will read today: How the media turns Israel into the pool into which the world spits

The article linked and discussed in this post really is the most important story you will read today - regardless of what else happens over the course of the day. Matti Friedman is a former AP correspondent in Israel, who has lived here since 1995. In this article, he discusses how the mainstream media frames the 'Israel story' so that  you think it's the most important story in the world, and why the mainstream media chooses to do that. He also explains some of the things the mainstream media ignores because they interfere with its narrative of the 'Israel story,' and why it chooses to do so. Here are a few highlights.

The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues.
While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.
...

The volume of press coverage that results, even when little is going on, gives this conflict a prominence compared to which its actual human toll is absurdly small. In all of 2013, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago. Jerusalem, internationally renowned as a city of conflict, had slightly fewer violent deaths per capita last year than Portland, Ore., one of America’s safer cities. In contrast, in three years the Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 190,000 lives, or about 70,000 more than the number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict since it began a century ago.
News organizations have nonetheless decided that this conflict is more important than, for example, the more than 1,600 women murdered in Pakistan last year (271 after being raped and 193 of them burned alive), the ongoing erasure of Tibet by the Chinese Communist Party, the carnage in Congo (more than 5 million dead as of 2012) or the Central African Republic, and the drug wars in Mexico (death toll between 2006 and 2012: 60,000), let alone conflicts no one has ever heard of in obscure corners of India or Thailand. They believe Israel to be the most important story on earth, or very close. 
...
A reporter working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel. If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate. The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated. Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters.
Get ready for this one - here's a biggie.
There has been much discussion recently of Hamas attempts to intimidate reporters. Any veteran of the press corps here knows the intimidation is real, and I saw it in action myself as an editor on the AP news desk. During the 2008-2009 Gaza fighting I personally erased a key detail—that Hamas fighters were dressed as civilians and being counted as civilians in the death toll—because of a threat to our reporter in Gaza. (The policy was then, and remains, not to inform readers that the story is censored unless the censorship is Israeli. Earlier this month, the AP’s Jerusalem news editor reported and submitted a story on Hamas intimidation; the story was shunted into deep freeze by his superiors and has not been published.)
But if critics imagine that journalists are clamoring to cover Hamas and are stymied by thugs and threats, it is generally not so. There are many low-risk ways to report Hamas actions, if the will is there: under bylines from Israel, under no byline, by citing Israeli sources. Reporters are resourceful when they want to be. 
The fact is that Hamas intimidation is largely beside the point because the actions of Palestinians are beside the point: Most reporters in Gaza believe their job is to document violence directed by Israel at Palestinian civilians. That is the essence of the Israel story. In addition, reporters are under deadline and often at risk, and many don’t speak the language and have only the most tenuous grip on what is going on. They are dependent on Palestinian colleagues and fixers who either fear Hamas, support Hamas, or both. Reporters don’t need Hamas enforcers to shoo them away from facts that muddy the simple story they have been sent to tell. 
It is not coincidence that the few journalists who have documented Hamas fighters and rocket launches in civilian areas this summer were generally not, as you might expect, from the large news organizations with big and permanent Gaza operations. They were mostly scrappy, peripheral, and newly arrived players—a Finn, an Indian crew, a few others. These poor souls didn’t get the memo.
Are you furious after reading that? I was. Here's another story that will infuriate you.
In early 2009, for example, two colleagues of mine obtained information that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had made a significant peace offer to the Palestinian Authority several months earlier, and that the Palestinians had deemed it insufficient. This had not been reported yet and it was—or should have been—one of the biggest stories of the year. The reporters obtained confirmation from both sides and one even saw a map, but the top editors at the bureau decided that they would not publish the story.



Some staffers were furious, but it didn’t help. Our narrative was that the Palestinians were moderate and the Israelis recalcitrant and increasingly extreme. Reporting the Olmert offer—like delving too deeply into the subject of Hamas—would make that narrative look like nonsense. And so we were instructed to ignore it, and did, for more than a year and a half.
This decision taught me a lesson that should be clear to consumers of the Israel story: Many of the people deciding what you will read and see from here view their role not as explanatory but as political. Coverage is a weapon to be placed at the disposal of the side they like.
And why are these decisions made? Surprise: It's classical anti-Semitism (and Friedman is not a conservative - he is opposed to the 'settlements').
For centuries, stateless Jews played the role of a lightning rod for ill will among the majority population. They were a symbol of things that were wrong. Did you want to make the point that greed was bad? Jews were greedy. Cowardice? Jews were cowardly. Were you a Communist? Jews were capitalists. Were you a capitalist? In that case, Jews were Communists. Moral failure was the essential trait of the Jew. It was their role in Christian tradition—the only reason European society knew or cared about them in the first place.
Like many Jews who grew up late in the 20th century in friendly Western cities, I dismissed such ideas as the feverish memories of my grandparents. One thing I have learned—and I’m not alone this summer—is that I was foolish to have done so. Today, people in the West tend to believe the ills of the age are racism, colonialism, and militarism. The world’s only Jewish country has done less harm than most countries on earth, and more good—and yet when people went looking for a country that would symbolize the sins of our new post-colonial, post-militaristic, post-ethnic dream-world, the country they chose was this one. 
When the people responsible for explaining the world to the world, journalists, cover the Jews’ war as more worthy of attention than any other, when they portray the Jews of Israel as the party obviously in the wrong, when they omit all possible justifications for the Jews’ actions and obscure the true face of their enemies, what they are saying to their readers—whether they intend to or not—is that Jews are the worst people on earth. The Jews are a symbol of the evils that civilized people are taught from an early age to abhor. International press coverage has become a morality play starring a familiar villain.
Read the whole thing.

I have two further comments. First, people occasionally ask me why I write a blog when most of the world gets their information from the mainstream media anyway. Unfortunately, I and my fellow bloggers have not yet reached the point where our impact approaches that of the New York Times, the Washington Post, AP or the Guardian. But collectively, we are having an impact. Not enough of an impact, but an impact all the same.

Second, after reading this story, I am more convinced than ever that the Sheldon Adelson's of the world are correct and that the answer is to create an alternative mainstream media (Adelson finances Yisrael HaYom, which has become the largest circulation newspaper in Israel - it is handed out for free and subsists on ad money). But while Israel may have been the place to start, the real places where an alternative mainstream media needs to play out are the western countries - especially in North America and Europe.

I hope you all read the story. I'm quite jaded and I was still astounded by how blatant the framing of Israel's story really is.

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Captured terrorist: 'Everyone knows Hamas leadership under Haniyeh hiding in Shifa Hospital'

The Shin Bet (General Security Service) has published interviews that it has done with Hamas terrorists who were captured during Operation Protective Edge. It has also taken the unusual step of publishing their names.
The ISA said that interrogation of captives taken in Operation Protective Edge gave a “somewhat disturbing” picture of Hamas's use of civilians and public buildings to carry out military activity, “out of an assumption that Israel will avoid hitting them.”
In an unusual step, the ISA quoted captives and provided their names. Abd el-Rahman Baalusha from Khan Yunis said that the mosques Al-Safa and Al-Abra in Gaza City serve as staging and gathering points for terrorists.
Two captives from Bayt Lahya, Afif Jarah and Amad Jarah, said that an attack tunnel from a Bedouin village was dug from a point adjacent to a kindergarten. In case of a successful operation to abduct an Israeli, the abductee was to be broguht to the kindergarten and taken elsewhere from there.
Muhammad Kadra of Khan Yunis told interrogators that “everybody knows” that the Hamas leadership in Gaza under Ismail Haniyeh is hiding out inside Shifa Hospital, apparently in an area that is out of bounds to ordinary civilians.
If Netanyahu wants to raise his rating from 38% back to 82%, going after that area of Shifa Hospital would go a long way. 

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Video: Ashkelon house takes direct hit from rocket

Six members of an Ashkelon family were lightly injured this morning when a rocket slammed into the master bedroom of their home just after the parents had gone to awaken their children and lead them to a safe room.

Let's go to the videotape.

video

John Daly, who videotaped the rocket's impact, describes what happened.
Ashkelon resident John Daly recorded the moment of impact and uploaded the video to Facebook. "Two blocks over and a direct hit," he wrote. "Alarm goes off and my cat knew we were headed to film so she went to the window with me. You can hear the sound of glass shattering up and down the street from the shockwave. The 'shaking' of the camera is from the explosive force, look at the tree - it is shaking as well."
And a lot of people outside the house were hurt as well.
While national news outlets put the number of people hurt at six, Ashkelonet, a local news outlet, reported that 50 people were brought to Barzilai Hospital following the rocket attack. Of these, it said, 21 suffered light physical injuries and 29 suffered from emotional shock.
Is this really how we can expect to live for the next several years?

UPDATE 12:02 PM

Here's a picture of the house.

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Former President promotes Islamic terrorism

For Jimmy the Dhimmi, the enemy is always Israel (Hat Tip: Joe L).

And for those who have forgotten....
A US court ruling that has been kept under wraps for more than a year, but which was just released to the public, shows that three organizations who were named as unindicted co-conspirators in the CAIR trial have more than enough evidence against them to leak them to al-Qaeda.
A federal judge's long-secret ruling that federal prosecutors violated the rights of three major American Islamic organizations and others named as unindicted co-conspirators in a Texas terrorism support case finally became public on Friday.

However, publication of the ruling is a mixed blessing for the groups: the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America and the North American Islamic Trust. That's because U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Solis found that the government presented "ample evidence to establish the association" of the three organizations with Hamas, a Palestinian group that the U.S. has labeled as a terrorist organization and with a defunct charity convicted in the terrorism support case, the Holy Land Foundation.

NAIT appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to overturn Solis's ruling and have it unsealed. The federal appeals court recently agreed that the ruling should be unsealed and suggested that parts of it went too far, but the appeals panel refused to change it.
More here

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Still missing....

This notice was sitting in my synagogue this morning (in multiple copies so that people could take them). Aaron Sofer, who has been missing since Friday, is still missing R"L. More details here.

Hashem Yerachem (May God Have mercy).

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This ad is brilliant

This ad - for Republican Senatorial candidate Allen Weh (New Mexico) is brilliant, says what has to be said, is entirely about foreign policy and the fallout of the United States' lost stature in the world under Obama.

Let's go to the videotape.



We should be seeing a lot more like this over the next two months. By the way, did you note that only 17% of Americans are satisfied with Obama's handling of 'Israel-Hamas'? Can I interpret that as saying that Main Street USA still loves us? Or are they upset that Obama hasn't put a stop to the war yet? Comments invited....

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Egypt and UAE attack Islamist rebels in Tripoli

If you happen to own a commercial jetliner, I sure hope you didn't park it in Tripoli.

In yet another indication that the Arab world understands the implications of an Islamist takeover, while much of the West does not, the New York Times reports that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have taken matters into their own hands, 'secretly' carrying out airstrikes in Libya (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington or seeking its consent, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to American diplomats, the officials said.
The strikes are another high-risk and destabilizing salvo unleashed in a struggle for power that has broken out across the region in the aftermath of the Arab Spring revolts, pitting old-line Arab autocrats against Islamists.
Since the military ouster of the Islamist president in Egypt one year ago, the new Egyptian government, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc exerting influence in countries around the region to roll back what they see as a competing threat from Islamists.
Arrayed against them are the Islamist movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, backed by friendly governments in Turkey and Qatar, that sprang forward amid the Arab Spring revolts.
Libya is the latest, and hottest, battleground. Several officials said that United States diplomats were fuming about the airstrikes, believing they could further inflame the Libyan conflict at a time when the United Nations and Western powers are seeking a peaceful resolution.
“We don’t see this as constructive at all,” said one senior American official.
The Obama administration is so enamored with political Islam that they don't get (or don't want to get) that for most people in this region, political Islam is a death sentence. It's being thrown back to the 8th century with no chance of escape. It's going back to an agrarian economy that doesn't produce enough of anything, and to a brutal 'justice' system. And if you're not Muslim, it's even worse.... 

By the way, what do these 'American officials' think? That these countries are going to come and beg them for permission to act? This is their territory! Since when do they have to ask the Lord King Hussein Obama for permission to act in their territory? They at least understand that they have to protect their populations (Egypt shares a border with Libya). 
Officials said that the government of Qatar has already provided weapons and support to the Islamist aligned forces inside Libya, so the new strikes represent a shift from proxy wars —where regional powers playout their agendas through local allies —to direct involvement.
The only complaint I have is that the strikes were not successful - the Islamists have taken control of the airport. But the old line Arab countries have decided that it's better to go down fighting than passively. And they're right. If the Islamists take over this region, no one will be happy except for Obama. 

Read the whole thing.

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IDF knew where Deif was for 3 days, held off due to cease fire; Hamas spox son-in-law killed by IDF

The IDF knew where Mohammed Deif was hiding for three days last week, but did not kill him because a 'cease fire' was in effect. Today, with the 'cease fire' (and maybe Deif) long gone, the IDF killed the 27-year old son-in-law of Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.
The IDF continues to show that Hamas's terrorist leaders are not immune in the war they started on Israel, as the son-in-law of Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum was killed on Monday.
Abdullah Mortaja, the son-in-law of the Hamas leader, was killed in a strike by the IDF. Yedioth Aharonoth reported on his connection to Barhoum.
The 27-year-old was a freelance journalist, who himself previously worked in the propaganda machine of the terrorist organization Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV station, according to AFP.
The news source added that Hamas medical officials claimed Mortaja was hit by tank fire in the Sheijaya neighborhood in eastern Gaza City.
...
Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif was targeted in a strike last Tuesday night, in which his wife and two of his children died. There are conflicting reports, with Hamas claiming he survived, but not saying anything about his condition.
According to recent reports Sunday, Israel knew the location of the arch-terrorist Deif as many as three days ahead of the strike, but chose not to act on the rare opportunity to take him out due to the ceasefire.
So when are we taking out the bunker at Shifa already?

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His popularity dropped from 82% to 38% in seven weeks

No, it's not Barack Hussein Obama whose popularity dropped from 82% to 38% in seven weeks. And it's not George H.W. Bush whose popularity dropped dramatically in the aftermath of the First Gulf War. It's Binyamin Netanyahu whose popularity has dropped... because the war is still going and Israel has not decisively defeated Hamas.
A new poll released by the Hebrew-language Channel 2 news site on Monday reveals that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's approval rating has fallen as a "casualty" in the faltering Operation Protective Edge.
The poll, conducted by Shiluv Millward Brown and iPanel for the news source, found in the last four days Netanyahu's support has taken a sharp nose-dive.
A mere 38% of Israelis responded that they are satisfied with Netanyahu, as opposed to 50% who are dissatisfied. Just four days earlier, Netanyahu's support stood at 55%.
The sudden dive corresponds to a period during which four-year-old Daniel Tragerman hy''d was murdered by mortar fire in his Kibbutz Nahal Oz home last Friday, possibly contributing to a feeling of government neglect in providing security to its citizens.
The poll adds that three weeks ago Netanyahu's support was at 63%; towards the beginning of the operation early last month when the IDF began its ground entry to Gaza that it later withdrew, that support was at a whopping 82%.
A University of Haifa poll late last month likewise found that Netanyahu's support had spiked at the start of the operation, showing that 65% were "very satisfied" with Netanyahu's handling of the operation, 20% were "satisfied" and only 10% "not satisfied."
However, that support has dipped as Netanyahu continues to be unable to take decisive action against Hamas in an operation that started July 8, while making numerous ceasefire agreements that Hamas repeatedly breaks, and "softening" ministers to Israeli concessions.
Ironically, US President Barack Obama told the New York Times earlier this month in an interview that Netanyahu had too much public support, and that he needed internal pressure - not to defend Israel, but rather to make land concessions to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
If Netanyahu wants to stay in office, he has to stop listening to Obama and finish the job. And if Obama doesn't want to find himself sitting in the oval office next to Naftali Bennett or Avigdor Lieberman, he is going to have to bite his lip and let Netanyahu finish the job. The Israeli public is furious and is not in the mood to make any concessions to the 'Palestinians,' to Hamas or to anyone else.  And the longer this goes on, the less likely that they will favor any concessions to the 'Palestinians' in Judea and Samaria either. Everyone in this country knows that the IDF is capable of finishing the job - if only they were allowed to finish it.

Read the whole thing.

JPost adds:
Regarding whether to start the school year if rocket fire continues, 18% said to open schools all over the country, 63% said school should begin everywhere except the South, and 15% said all schools in the country should remain closed.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Terrorists shoot rockets from Lebanon at Kiryat Shmona

Terrorists fired two rockets at Kiryat Shmona around 10:15 this evening, and as of 11:00 the IDF was retaliating.
Sirens sounded throughout the Upper Galilee close to 10:15 pm Monday night, just before a series of explosions were heard near Kiryat Shmona.
The IDF confirmed that two rockets were fired from Lebanon at northern Israel. No injuries or damage were reported.
The IDF “retaliated with artillery fire towards the source of the attack,” the IDF Spokesperson wrote on Twitter.
Troops are currently scanning the Lebanese border, sources say, in cooperation with mediating body UNIFIL. 
Just before 11:00 pm, unconfirmed reports have begun surfacing that the IAF has begun responding to the rocket fire. 
Since Operation Protective Edge began 49 days ago, at least ten rockets have been fired into Israel from Lebanon.
Through UNIFIL, the IDF has warned the government of Lebanon, which includes Hezbullah, that Israel sees the government of Lebanon as responsible for any attacks.

Beirut's Daily Star adds:
The rockets that were fired from the Jarmaq area near the Litani River in south Lebanon came two days following a similar attack on Saturday. Dozens of shells landed on the river’s banks near Jarmaq and Ayshieh as a result of retaliatory Israeli fire, the source said, adding that the Lebanese Army cordoned off the area in search of the perpetrators.

In mid-July, at least nine rockets were fired from Lebanon at the Jewish state, prompting Israel to retaliate with artillery fire. Lebanese military officials had at the time said they believed the attacks were carried out by a small Palestinian group in an act of solidarity with Gaza.

Over the weekend, newly-appointed UNIFIL commander Maj. Gen. Luciano Portolano strongly condemned the rocket attacks as a violation of U.N. Resolution 1701 that ended Lebanon’s 2006 war with Israel.
I don't see Israel doing anything to escalate with Lebanon right now. We need to finish off Hamas. The problem is that Hezbullah might have different ideas.

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Iz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades claims to have an Israeli drone

Story in Arabic here (Hat Tip: MFS - The Other News).

And here's the text:
Turkey News

Announced the Brigades of the Martyr Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas, they seized the aircraft reconnaissance drone, belonging to the Israeli army.

The brigades said in a statement via its social networking "Twitter" it captured the plane in the neighborhood of Oz, adding that it will be published in the coming hours video photographer for the event.

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What you can't see on the UN's maps of Gaza

Last week, the UN published several maps showing the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge. The maps mark damaged buildings with red dots scattered throughout Gaza. But these maps tells only half the story: Hamas used many of these buildings – including houses, hospitals and schools – as sites to launch rockets and carry out other attacks.

In many cases, the IDF struck buildings in order to stop Hamas’ violence. This means that the red dots on the UN’s maps represent more than destruction. They show the many cases in which terrorists attacked Israel from heavily populated areas in Gaza.

Let's go to the videotape.




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This is not a parody....

This is not a parody....

A left-wing Moshavnik from Netiv HaAsara on the Gaza border tells Israel Radio why we should give the 'Palestinians' whatever they want.
In a live interview broadcast this morning on Israel Radio Reshet Bet, Roni Keidar, resident of Netiv HaAsara, a moshav that borders on the northern edge of the Gaza Strip and has been subject to intensive attacks, explained that Israel should give the Palestinians what they want.

Keidar, who is a member of Other Voice, gave as her proof that Israel should follow her policy recommendation the fact that she engages in dialogue with a woman in Gaza in English who also seeks peace. Keidar even meets this woman periodically when she accompanies a relative to Israel for monthly medical treatment.

"The two sides each have to share rather than take the position that everything is theirs." Keidar noted.

Keidar, who was being interviewed from Eilat where she was taking a break from the ongoing attacks on her home from Gaza, explained that while she is free to express her views in Israel, her Palestinian friend has to keep her views about peace and reconciliation to herself as it would be "life threatening" for her Palestinian friend if her Palestinian friend's neighbors were to find out her views.

The reporter declined to ask Keidar to address the disconnect between her policy recommendation that Israel give the Palestinians what they want with her belief that Palestinian society would murder an innocent Palestinian only because they advocate peace and reconciliation with Israel.
And you were wondering how anyone in the Gaza envelope could be a Leftist.... 

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'Club Med for terrorists'

In the New York Times, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, refers to Doha, Qatar as 'Club Med for terrorists.'
Since Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005, Hamas has dragged us into three rounds of major assaults, and more than 14,800 rockets have been fired into Israel by the group or its proxies. The discovery of dozens of tunnels packed with explosives, tranquilizers and handcuffs that end at the doorsteps of Israeli communities should be enough to convince anyone that Hamas has no interest in bringing quiet to Gaza or residing alongside Israel in peace.
It says a great deal that Hamas’s former Arab backers, which historically have included Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia, long ago abandoned the terrorist group. Only a few nations still stand by Hamas. Among the most prominent is the tiny Persian Gulf emirate Qatar.
In recent years, the sheikhs of Doha, Qatar’s capital, have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Gaza. Every one of Hamas’s tunnels and rockets might as well have had a sign that read “Made possible through a kind donation from the emir of Qatar.”
...
This hasn’t stopped the Persian Gulf monarchy from serving as a Club Med for terrorists. It harbors leading Islamist radicals like the spiritual leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who issued a religious fatwa endorsing suicide attacks, and the Doha-based history professor Abdul Rahman Omeir al-Naimi, whom the United States Department of Treasury has named as a “terrorist financier” for Al Qaeda. Qatar also funds a life of luxury for Khaled Meshal, the fugitive leader of Hamas.
Mr. Meshal’s uncompromising stance — he has vowed never to recognize Israel — has long been an obstacle to reaching a peace deal. But behind Hamas, Qatar is pulling the strings. According to a report last week in the pan-Arab daily newspaper Al Hayat, Qatar even threatened to expel Mr. Meshal if Hamas accepted Egyptian proposals for a long-term cease-fire in Gaza. All because Doha wants a starring role in any cease-fire agreement between Hamas and Israel.
It is time for the world to wake up and smell the gas fumes. Qatar has spared no cost to dress up its country as a liberal, progressive society, yet at its core, the micro monarchy is aggressively financing radical Islamist movements. In light of the emirate’s unabashed support for terrorism, one has to question FIFA’s decision to reward Qatar with the 2022 World Cup.
Qatar’s continued sponsorship of Hamas all but guarantees that, whatever happens in this round of hostilities, the terrorist group will rearm and renew hostilities with Israel. The only way forward is to isolate Hamas’s last major backer. Given Qatar’s considerable affluence and influence, this is an uncomfortable prospect for many Western nations, yet they must recognize that Qatar is not a part of the solution but a significant part of the problem. To bring about a sustained calm, the message to Qatar should be clear: Stop financing Hamas.
 Indeed.

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Deif's mother-in-law sorry she only has two more daughters to sacrifice for the cause

And you thought your mother-in-law was out of her mind....
Apparently believing that Deif survived the Israeli strike, Widad’s mother Zeian Asfura, 61, told London’s Sunday Times in an interview published Sunday: “Should Deif request the hand of any of my other daughters, I will happily consent and even if she, too, is martyred I will consent to the third.
“It is an honor to have Deif a husband to any of my daughters and be a father to their children,” Asfura added.
Hamas claims that Deif survived Tuesday’s assassination attempt, but has produced no sign of life.
Asfura said that when she consented to the marriage in 2011, she realized the possible consequence. “When I agreed the marriage, I in effect consented to a fate of martyrdom for my daughter,” she said.
Something tells me that she did not ask her daughters before making that statement.

I wonder if they're at least teenagers...

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Time retracts a blood libel

In an earlier post, I reported that Time Magazine had recycled a 2009 blood libel from the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, which accused Israel of harvesting and selling 'Palestinians' organs. Having been called on their slander, Time has now corrected the video in question.
On Sunday, the magazine deleted the allegations from a two-minute video on its website about the Israel Defense Forces and added a correction, writing at the end, “Correction: The original version of this video cited a contested allegation in a 2009 Swedish newspaper report as fact. The allegation has been removed from the video.”
The video, titled “The IDF: A look inside Israel’s powerful military,” said the “IDF is not without controversy,” reporting that “in 2009 a Swedish report came out exposing some Israeli troops of selling organs of Palestinians who died in their custody.”
Maybe next time they'll be a little more careful.

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What if the drone Iran shot down over Natanz wasn't Israeli?


Hmmm.

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Gaza envelope communities 'relocating'

Friday's murder of Daniel Tragerman HY"D (May God Avenge his blood) of Kibbutz Nachal Oz was a watershed event for the Jewish communities of the Gaza envelope. According to Haaretz some 70% of their residents have now fled to safer places.
In contrast to policies in place from the start of Operation Protective Edge until now, Friday’s fatal attack set the Defense Ministry’s National Authority for Emergency Management looking for solutions for families wishing to evacuate the area.
Over the last three days, some 400 families have requested assistance in finding arrangements far away from the border. In contrast to earlier stages of the fighting, such families no longer have to depend on non-governmental agencies or private donations. The state is now committed to financing their stay away from areas at risk.
All sides are careful to note that this does not constitute an evacuation. “This isn’t 1948,” clarified an employee at one local authority. “Don’t label it an evacuation. These are arrangements for living away from home,” said another employee. “We’re not evacuating any community.”
However, semantics cannot hide the fact that most residents living in high-risk areas chose to leave their homes again.
“We were told not to call it an evacuation, only a breather, but we should call a spade a spade. We left the kibbutz since it’s impossible to remain there,” says Yael Stadin, community head at Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha. Yesterday, with the assistance of the Authority for Emergency Management and the Eshkol Regional Council, most kibbutz members left, moving into a youth hostel in Jerusalem. One family, a mother and two adult daughters, decided at the last minute to stay. A few hours later, a mortar shell landed near their house and one of the daughters suffered slight head injuries.
The change in policy came after pressure from residents, communities and local authorities that had to fend for themselves for over a month and a half. The defense establishment emphasized that as far as the Home Front Command is concerned, there is no change in guidelines, and families have not been instructed to leave their homes. However, anyone wishing to do so gets assistance.
The problem is apparently limited to communities that are close enough to be within mortar range. Iron Dome doesn't catch mortars and there are no warning sirens.
An estimated 30 percent of families remain in the Gazan border communities. In more distant communities, outside the range of mortars, some 80 percent of residents remain.

...
The death of Daniel Tragerman caused many people to make rapid plans for leaving their homes.

The events of the last few days have drawn a clear distinction between communities lying within mortar range – up to two kilometers from the border – and all other settlements in the western Negev. In the absence of a technological solution such as Iron Dome, the relatively simple mortar has become Hamas’ most lethal weapon against civilians. Residents living within two kilometers of the border find themselves facing a difficult choice, of either remaining at home in a dangerous environment or uprooting themselves for an unknown duration.
But if Jewish communities are abandoned, Hamas will step into the vacuum, as they did when the Jewish communities of Gaza were expelled (the government doesn't like me using that word, but that's the reality) nine years ago.

There has been a lot of talk recently about Gaza developing into a 'war of attrition.' There was a war of attrition along Israel's border with Egypt 45 years ago.  That war - which lasted from 1968-69 - saw hundreds of casualties. But it was conducted along the Suez Canal. There were few civilians involved.

Given this situation, I don't understand why we're even discussing a cease fire. Hamas must be destroyed.

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Hamas: No 'progress' in 'cease fire' talks

Hamas' Moussa Abu Marzouk is denying reports of 'progress' in 'cease fire' talks.
12:17 P.M. Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas offical and head of the Palestinian delegation to Cairo, rejects reports of progress in talks with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire deal. (Jack Khoury)
We haven't hit them hard enough yet. Then again, given that Marzouk is in Qatar, he, like Khaled Meshaal, is happy to fight to the last Gazan.

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Iranian television shows video of alleged Israeli spy drone

You will recall that on Sunday, Iran claimed to have downed an Israeli spy drone - apparently a Hermes - near its Natanz nuclear facility. Israel has declined to comment on the story.

But Iran put the alleged drone on television on Monday morning.

Let's go to the videotape.



Notice - no markings. Nothing that might identify it as an Israeli drone. Let's just say I doubt this story.

And even if they did down it, so what? Does anyone doubt that Israel is spying on Iran?

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Wow! SIX MORE Hamas commanders were supposed to be in bunker busted meeting

Six more senior Hamas commanders were supposed to be at a meeting that Israel broke up with three bunker busters on Thursday morning, killing Mohammed Abu Shamalah, Raed al-Atar and Mohammed Barhum. Hamas is so scared of what has happened that they have charged an additional 150 people as 'collaborators.'
Hamas's "military wing", the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, issued a statement on Sunday saying that the men had been arrested over "security leaks", a source told the Arabic-language outlet. The source claimed Hamas was "in a state of confusion" following the elimination of three top al-Qassam Brigades commandersMohammed Abu Shamalah, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Barhum on Thursday, as well as an attempted assassination of the Brigades's top leader, Mohammed Deif.
Hamas claims Deif survived the attack, which killed his wife and two of his children, but has not issued any word on his condition.
Compounding the group's fears is the fact that the Israeli Air Force strike killed Abu Shamala, Attar and Barhum as they met in a top-secret bunker some 30 meters underground. Six other commanders were reportedly due to join them, but the decision appears to have been taken to eliminate them as soon as they were together, to avoid the possibility of any of them getting away.
And the assassinations of top Hamas leaders has continued since, with the group's top financial chief and "Justice Minister", Mohammed al-Ghoul, taken out by an Israeli airstrike on Sunday.
The bunker was located under the home of the "Kilab" family, and the IAF targeted the house and the tunnel beneath it with bunker-buster bombs weighing up to three tons, both ensuring the elimination of the terrorists and avoiding unnecessary damage to surrounding homes as much as possible.
Their liquidation essentially wiped out Hamas's entire southern military command in Gaza.
Why aren't we doing the same with Shifa Hospital, where the most senior Hamas commanders are hiding out?

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Hey Lionel Messi: Do you stand for Hamas?

In June, I posted the picture above, which although a photo shop, has garnered 34,397 hits as of this writing - one of the most popular posts ever on this blog.

It turns out, however, that Messi, who has many fans in this country, is far less sympathetic to Israel than he is to the 'Palestinians.' As a result of the murder of a four-year old fan of Messi's on Friday, Daniel Tragerman HY"D (May God Avenge his blood), Israelis are trying to get Messi's attention like never before.

Last photos of Daniel show him sporting Messi's number 10 jersey, in Argentinian national colors.
Messi wrote two weeks ago that as a father and a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, he is “terribly saddened by the images coming from the conflict between Israel and Palestine, where violence has already claimed so many young lives and to injure countless children.” The post featured a photo of an injured Palestinian child.
The international star plays for FC Barcelona, a soccer team funded by the Qatari government, which also serves as Hamas’ chief financier.
“Hey Leo Messi, take a look at that boy, Daniel Tregerman, wearing the national jersey of the best player in the world,” Liran Cohen, an Israeli citizen, wrote in a Facebook post that tagged Messi.
“As you can see, you were Daniel’s hero. He was killed today, by a mortar which was fired by Hamas, the terror organization that your team’s #1 sponsors is [sic] sponsoring,” Cohen wrote. “Is this what you stand for? FC Barcelona—is this what you stand for? I guess money can buy everything.”
The post went viral on Facebook and also on Twitter, but has yet to prompt a response from Messi.
 Let's make this one go viral too.

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British expert: Israel choosing not to win in Gaza

No, the expert is not Richard Kemp. Barak Seener, an Associate fellow at Britain's Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies, says that Israel is choosing not to win the war in Gaza.
“In general,” he explained, “modern warfare is not geared towards protracted conflict, and thus Israel should have initially gone in harder. This was prevented by a lack of extensive sound intelligence of tunnels and the whereabouts of Hamas operatives. Israel's diplomatic standing will decline as Europe does not anymore understand the power of ideologies, let alone a genocidal, zero sum game Islamist and suicidal ideology.”
Is Israel's hasbarah effort regarding the effort to avoid civilian casualties doing any good?
“There is so much that has been reported in Israeli news outlets but has not been reported in European outlets. This includes Hamas executing Fatah members, children digging tunnels, concrete being redirected to building tunnels rather than hospitals and schools, the affluence of Hamas's leadership who divert funding to the Palestinians to their own personal accounts, even pictures of tunnels were reported by the Washington Post a few weeks earlier than Reuters.
“The main issue is that Israel should take exactly the same initiatives (not more) as Allied forces have done in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. While it is natural that Israel should seek to avoid civilian casualties, its priority is to its own civilians and soldiers. Israel has failed as there is a current stalemate of its civilians under attack, Hamas perpetuating its firing of rockets with Israel's economy having been hurt as a result.
“If Israel chooses not to win a war against Hamas decisively then it will continue to conduct reprisal attacks while emphasizing its avoidance of civilian casualties. If it seeks to win decisively then Israel will not cede the initiative and strategic surprise to Hamas by announcing beforehand where it plans to strike. This serves to embolden Islamism and provokes them to continue their practices of human shields and firing of rockets.
“Paradoxically, the only way to win decisively is by reclassifying human shields as combatants and demonstrating that Israel will not abort strikes or hand Hamas the initiative by announcing beforehand Israel's plans. It is tragic that civilians unwittingly find themselves as combatants, but this may be the only way to demonstrate to Hamas the futility of their current strategy of human shields, which has already caused their popularity to plummet in Gaza and the broader arab world.
“Imagine, had US forces announced to ISIS its strike plans and in turn handed to them the strategic initiative. It would be considered absurd! Israel has nothing to be proud of with such a morally dubious approach of letting Hamas know where and when it plans to strike. Israel should be consistent. If it resents being subjected to double standards, then it should not subject itself to norms and procedures that no military of any western liberal democracy would ever consider.”
He also has some scathing criticism for former British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. Read the whole thing

The problem is that we are so afraid of our own Supreme Court in this country that we have developed a standard of 'ethics' for the IDF that is merciful to the cruel and cruel to the merciful, and in which our first priority is protecting Gazan human shields and our last priorities are protecting our own soldiers and citizenry.

Here are some examples.
As I noted on Sunday, two IDF soldiers have been convicted for using something called the 'neighbor procedure.' The 'neighbor procedure' calls for using an Arab resident of a building being entered or searched to enter the building or to open suspicious objects. The theory behind it is that a terrorist in the building is less likely to shoot one of their neighbors than to shoot an IDF soldier, or that the neighbor is more likely to know whether a certain package is booby-trapped than the IDF soldiers who might otherwise open it.

The Supreme Court outlawed all use of the neighbor procedure five years ago. Kasher says that the Supreme Court is wrong, although the military court that convicted the two soldiers on Sunday was right.
“What those two soldiers did was wrong,” said Kasher in a telephone interview, endorsing the military court ruling. “But there are situations in which the use of the enemy’s civilian population to defuse a potentially explosive situation is not only ethically permissible, it also saves lives.”

In many instances of confrontation between IDF forces and a terror suspect who has barricaded him or herself inside a building, neighbors who are either family from the same clan or friends can peacefully and effectively neutralize the situation, Kasher explained.

Neighbors often have a vested interest in preventing the IDF from destroying the building where the suspect is hiding because they live in the same building; relatives or loved ones also have a desire to save the terrorist’s life, Kasher explained.

“If they volunteer to do so of their own free will they should be allowed to,” said Kasher.
Read the whole thing. I wonder if any other army in the world would give a though to not using the neighbor procedure.
Example 2:
Speaking at a conference on military ethics this week, Professor Asa Kasher, the main draftsman of the IDF Code of Ethics, said that officers were 'too concerned' with their soldiers' lives during this past summer's war in Lebanon.

Say what?
"Missions were not completed because commanders did not want to jeopardize their soldiers' lives," he said at a conference on military ethics Tuesday in Jerusalem.

"Concern about casualties is important," Kasher said. "Soldiers are not robots, they are human beings. But the commander must not underestimate the importance of his mission vis a vis the importance of his soldiers' lives.

"The Hizbullah were shooting hundreds of rockets at population centers in the North, thus endangering Israeli citizens' lives. So risking soldiers' lives to stop those rockets was perfectly justified."

...

The phenomenon of commanders being overly protective of their soldiers' lives was not a result of a general "softening" of the Israeli soldier, Kasher told The Jerusalem Post after his lecture. Rather it was a symptom of the atmosphere during the Second Lebanon War in which different and often contradictory orders were given by the high command within short periods of time.

"Commanders on the battle field did not want to risk their soldiers' lives to carry out an order that might be changed in the next hour," he said.
Seeing this article, the first thing I did was head for Kasher's resume, where I verified, as I suspected, that he was not a career army officer.

Yes, risking soldiers' lives to stop Hezbullah last summer was undoubtedly morally justified. But in recent years, the IDF has become too worried about 'civilian' casualties on the other side. They tend to ignore the part of the Geneva Convention (Article 28 of the 4th Geneva Convention) that says that the terrorists cannot immunize themselves to military operations by hiding among civilians. Look at the picture at the top of this post. Should we really be risking soldiers' lives to go in and get this crew on the ground to ensure that the 'civilians' among whom they hide are not hit? Our own soldiers are sons, fathers and brothers too. Don't they deserve to have their lives safeguarded at least as much as the 'civilians' who shield terrorists like those in that picture? Whose lives come first?

Under those circumstances, it may well be that officers refused to endanger their soldiers' lives. But those are the kind of officers I would want commanding my sons.
What the government and the IDF tend to forget is that sometimes, even the IDF's chief ethicist allows ignoring the presence of civilians. Here are two examples. Example 1.
Professor Asa Kasher, the man who wrote the IDF 'code of ethics,' that has us sending ground troops in to be killed instead of bombing from the air and killing (often willing) human shields, says that it MIGHT - note that MIGHT - be permissible to carpet bomb some terrorist strongholds under some circumstances. As if any other civilized country would dream of doing otherwise....
"I don't know what the truth is about the circumstances," Kasher stressed. "But assuming that we warned the civilians and gave them enough time to leave, and that the civilians who remained chose, themselves, not to leave, then there is no reason to jeopardize the lives of the troops," he told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Kasher's statements followed the deaths of nine soldiers on Wednesday, eight of whom were ambushed at Bint Jbail. Israel has been reluctant to use sufficient weaponry to flatten the Hizbullah "terrorist capital" of Bint Jbail, a policy that many have criticized as being overly sensitive toward the enemy and its civilians.

Moshe Keynan, the father of a soldier killed in another conflict, said he was angry with the IDF for jeopardizing soldiers' safety to protect civilians.

"We need to worry that our kids return to their parents and we need to worry about our family and sons and wives, not how we look on BBC," said Keynan.

Meir Indor, director-general of the Terror Victims Association, seconded Keynan's concerns.

"There is an argument which is dealing with the subject of how much danger soldiers can be exposed to in order to save civilians. I think the world already decided that you don't sacrifice your soldiers in order to save enemy civilians," said Indor, whose organization is lobbying the military and the government against putting soldiers in unnecessarily dangerous situations.
And if Hezbullah forces them to stay?
Kasher admitted that the decision to bomb a house or town was quite complicated, especially if there are citizens who wanted to leave but were prohibited from doing so by Hizbullah.

"We should take into consideration that people want to leave and aren't allowed to leave, and that changes the situation, but not on a grand scale," he said. "There you can justify certain infantry attacks... but only if it doesn't dramatically increase the jeopardy of our troops. Something which is a slightly higher level of risk is acceptable, but something drastically higher is not acceptable."
I would suggest that if 'civilians' allow rocket launchers to be installed in their homes (which is what is going on in southern Lebanon), whether they choose to stay or not is irrelevant.

I cannot think of any other country in the world that would worry so much about killing too many Hezbullah supporters. This is what we get for being led by people who have abandoned Judaism and adopted 'liberalism' as their religion.
Example 2.
And what do we do to minimize the harm done to the neighbors of the terrorists?

We can’t separate the terrorist from his neighbors. We can’t force the terrorists to move away, because they don’t want to move away. That’s their whole strategy: To be there. The Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, they want to work from within. The terrorists have erased the difference between combatants and non-combatants.

They live in residential areas. They operate from within residential areas. They attack civilians. And they won’t leave when I tell them to leave. No one has the power to move them from where they are without conquering the entire area, which requires special justifications.

But if we can’t force the terrorist out, we can make the effort to move his neighbors. He won’t move away from his neighbors, but maybe his neighbors will move away from him. And experience shows that this kind of effort succeeds. That is, very many non-dangerous neighbors do move away from terrorists if they are warned.

So Israel, the IDF, carries out very intensive warning operations. Unprecedented. There are those who don’t like the term, “the most moral army in the world.” I think it’s a very complex phrase, and one has to make all kinds of professional diagnoses. You can’t just blithely invoke it. But let’s look at that claim in this particular context.

Who tries harder than we do to warn the neighbors [to leave a conflict zone]? Who does it better than we do? I don’t know if the public realizes this, but we recently carried out precisely such an act of warning – by publishing a map of Hezbollah positions in south Lebanon. Israel released details of hundreds of villages where Hezbollah has a position deep inside the village. From there, they’ll fire on us if and when they want to, and we will have to protect ourselves. That means we’ll have to fire into the village.

The publication of this map is a warning: We know, it says, that Hezbollah is intertwining its terrorists with non-dangerous neighbors. Understand that to protect ourselves in this situation will mean endangering the populace. The populace has to know that it is in a dangerous situation.

What to do in this dangerous situation? We don’t know. We’re telling those non-dangerous neighbors to give it some thought. Try to kick out Hezbollah? That is apparently very difficult. Move away from the Hezbollah position? Perhaps that is possible. Get away when the time comes? That may sound theoretical at present, but when the time comes, who knows? The fact is, this is an advance warning.

Now let’s come to Operation Cast Lead in this context. We distributed leaflets [to Gaza civilians, telling them that they should leave a potential conflict zone]. It may be that we can do that better – distribute better leaflets, more detailed, with more precise guidance on how to get away. We broke into their radio and TV broadcasts to give them announcements, to warn them. That can be done still more effectively.

We made phone calls to 160,000 phone numbers. No one in the world has ever done anything like that, ever. And it’s clear why that is effective. It’s not a piece of paper that was dropped in my neighborhood. The phone rang in my own pocket! Yes, it was a recorded message, because it’s impossible to make personal calls on that scale. But still, this was my number they dialed. It was a warning directed personally to me, not some kind of general warning.

And finally, we had the “tap on the roof” approach. The IDF used nonlethal weaponry, fired onto the roofs [of buildings being used by terrorists]. That weaponry makes a lot of noise. It constituted a very strong, noisy hint: We’re close, but you still have the chance to get out.

What we don’t use is nohal shachen (the “neighbor protocol”). I recently read comments by a British general, a commander in Afghanistan...

Gen. Richard Kemp?

No, this was someone else, saying at a press conference, how moral his forces are. And then he described their policy, which was nohal shachen, as the symbol of the morality of British soldiers.

What did he say, specifically, that they do?

He said that when they are facing a terrorist hiding out in a building with non-dangerous neighbors, they make one of the neighbors telephone or speak through a loudspeaker to the Taliban terrorist who is in this building, and say that rather than killing him and the neighbors and destroying the house, he should surrender and that he’ll be taken away with various guarantees. This British commander was very proud of this ostensibly humane procedure – a procedure that the courts here forbid us to do. We don’t do it.

We issue warnings in an unprecedented way – not one warning, but many. We make enormous efforts to get the neighbors away from the terrorists.

Now there’s one more thing that maybe we could do, and there’s an argument surrounding it: send soldiers into the building. Send in soldiers to check that maybe someone has stayed. I am against this. Very against this.

So there’s a difference between what we did in Jenin [during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, where 13 soldiers were killed in an ambush] and what we did in Gaza?

Yes, we changed our approach. The approach is more appropriate now. I think what we did in Jenin was a mistake. There was a primitive conception that “it’s all right to endanger soldiers.” Every time there was a dilemma like this – soldiers here and non-soldiers on the other side – the soldiers were endangered.

Why was that wrong?

You need, to a certain limit, to warn the people to get out. At a certain point, the warnings are over and there are two possibilities. That people have stayed because they don’t want to leave or because they can’t leave. If they can’t leave, despite all the warnings, despite the possibilities to get them out, even to send ambulances to get them out, that’s interesting to me, and we’ll come back to that.

But if a neighbor doesn’t want to leave, he turns himself into the human shield of the terrorist. He has become part of the war. And I’m sorry, but I may have to harm him when I try to stop the terrorist. I’ll do my best not to. But it may be that in the absence of all other alternatives, I may hurt him. I certainly don’t see a good reason to endanger the lives of soldiers in a case like that.

Sometimes people don’t understand this. They think of soldiers as, well, instruments. They think that soldiers are there to be put into danger, that soldiers are there to take risks, that this is their world, this is their profession. But that is so far from the reality in Israel, where most of the soldiers are in the IDF because service is mandatory and reserve service is mandatory. Even with a standing army, you have to take moral considerations into account. But that is obviously the case when service is compulsory: I, the state, sent them into battle. I, the state, took them out of their homes. Instead of him going to university or going to work, I put a uniform on him, I trained him, and I dispatched him. If I am going to endanger him, I owe him a very, very good answer as to why. After all, as I said, this is a democratic state that is obligated to protect its citizens. How dare I endanger him?

...

Well, they ask that Israel not be disproportionate, that it not be too heavy-handed.

It’s good that you mentioned that. The world in general doesn’t have a clue what proportionality is. Proportionality, first of all, is not about numbers. The question of proportionality, according to international law, is whether the military benefit justifies the collateral damage. And secondly, also according to international law, it is a consideration for the commander in the field, because only the commander in the field can make the judgment: What does he gain from what he’s about to do and what is the collateral damage he is likely to cause? With Israel, we fire and two minutes later, the UN secretary- general is already accusing us of using disproportionate force. On what basis does he make that assumption? How can he possibly know?

And, finally, this whole concept of proportionality exists in international law only in situations where you know that you’re going to harm non-dangerous people. It’s not relevant in other circumstances. This is designed for situations where noncombatants will be hurt and in those circumstances the commander in the field must weigh the benefits and the damage. The questions of proportionality are clear only at the extremes. Between those extremes, only the commander in the field can weigh the balance. It’s very hard to give him a formula.

...

So, coming back to Cast Lead, this was certainly not our invasion and their defense. When facing the armies of the United States and the Soviet Union in World War II, did the Germans have the moral right to self-defense because those armies invaded their country? The entire invasion of the allies into Germany was self-defense against Nazi Germany. To claim that, in Gaza, they are defending themselves against our invasion is really a not-serious objection.

Now, as to the matter of kill ratio. That’s not the point. It’s not a sporting contest. You ask yourself, “What is he doing to me?” – not in terms of the damage but in terms of the danger.

Look at what happened with the recent attack on the school bus. Only one child was killed. “Only one.” One too many. But if the terrorist had fired five minutes earlier, there would have been dozens of children killed. The fact is that there’s a danger to the lives of children traveling in a school bus on the roads of Israel. That [most of the children] were lucky this time, that one child was killed and the rest not, does not enter the equation.

Let’s say I have the ultimate Iron Dome system and nobody is being killed from their attacks. Am I therefore barred from attacking those who are firing on me? Of course not. I have to be concerned for a dangerous situation in which Iron Dome doesn’t work, or doesn’t work properly, or I don’t have enough Iron Dome batteries in service. I need to silence the source of the danger and therefore I am permitted to attack it.

As for the numbers of those killed on the other side, that needs to be examined without any connection to how many were killed on our side. Hamas today admits to having lost very high numbers of people who were directly connected to Hamas. All those “policemen” [killed in IAF attacks at the start of Cast Lead] were not policemen in the Western sense of the word. Those weren’t people employed to give speeding tickets. Information published soon after Cast Lead detailed their combat deployment, the role each of them was to play when the IDF came in. This was a support force for the Hamas army. We hit them legitimately.
There are many more posts that I have done about this issue if you search "Asa Kasher" or "IDF ethics." but the bottom line is that the time has come to reevaluate our approach. We are fighting an enemy for whom it is a zero sum game. The enemy is not moved by the deaths of its own civilians - even children - and neither apparently are many of the enemy's civilians. We are fighting wars on our borders and not in far off lands like the United States or Britain. While I'm not suggesting targeting civilians, I am suggesting that we ought to bring our practices in line with those of western countries. In the long run, not getting the job done in Gaza is just prolonging the war and leading to more casualties, albeit at a slower rate. Hamas is not going to give up regardless of how many of its civilians are killed. And we cannot give up because we would - God Forbid - all be killed. 

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