Rumours of Israel’s isolation in the Middle East are dead wrong

The crash of civilizations by A.F. Branco at Legal Insurrection

Israel is constantly being warned by its erstwhile allies and their wagging fingers that if we don’t correct our behaviour, or if we don’t agree to suicidal ceasefires with an implacable genocidal enemy, we are going to become isolated.  There are two answers to that:

  1. We tried “correcting our behaviour” with the pullout from Gaza – and look where that got us. Not only that, but we received no credit for it once we had committed that almost suicidal act. Israel is still accused of being the “occupier”, of laying an “illegal siege”, and generally being the cause of all the mayhem and misery in the Middle East.
  2. Despite our “bad behaviour” (you’d think we were a nation of 2 year olds) Israel’s isolation has only grown from our Western “allies”. Our former enemies however are almost all onside in our fight against Hamas and its extremist Muslim Brotherhood proxies and allies, up to and including Iran.

Here are a series of links that I’ve been collecting since this war began (and never had a chance to post as the news kept overtaking me as I blogged).

A Saudi official accused Hamas of being responsible for the deaths in Gaza and called for peace with Israel.

The former head of Saudi intelligence services Turki al Faisal said that Hamas was responsible for “the crimes Israel has committed in the Gaza Strip,” according to a report by Israeli news website NRG.

Faisal said that “Hamas is responsible for the slaughter in the Gaza Strip following its bad decisions in the past, and the haughtiness it shows by firing useless rockets at Israel, which contribute nothing to the Palestinian interest. The Hamas rockets pose no threat to the Israeli occupation, even when they reach Tel Aviv.”

Faisal further blamed Qatar and Turkey for their mediation efforts, saying that instead of preventing Israel from destroying Gaza, these two countries were destroying Egypt’s leadership role in the Arab world. He also attacked the US and Europe for giving Israel the diplomatic credit to continue its campaign.

Earlier over the weekend, an influential Saudi wrote an op ed published by Al Arabiya headlined “Peace with Israel is the solution.”

Several weeks ago, a Saudi intellectual, Abdallah Hamid a Din, wrote in Al Hayat that Israel cannot be forcefully defeated. In his words, the Palestinians have been missing opportunities since 1947, and all the while Israel grows stronger while the Palestinians weaken and their territory shrinks. Hamid said many of the Palestinians’ demands were unrealistic, like the right of return for refugees, which he compared to an Indian demand to return native Americans to cities in the US.

The Egyptians are hoping that Israel will destroy Hamas

Some Egyptians are even openly expressing hope that Israel will completely destroy Hamas, which they regard as the “armed branch of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization.”

Sisi’s Egypt has not forgiven Hamas for its alliance with Muslim Brotherhood and its involvement in terrorist attacks against Egyptian civilians and soldiers over the past year.

An uncomfortable moment during an April 2014 meeting between PA President Abbas and Egyptian President Sisi. (Image source: Video from President Abbas’ Office)

The Egyptians today understand that Hamas and other radical Islamist groups pose a serious threat to their national security. That is why the Egyptian authorities have, over the past year, been taking tough security measures not only against Hamas, but also the entire population of the Gaza Strip.

Famous Egyptian TV presenter and journalist Amr Adeeb has been told by many Egyptians to “shut up” after his criticism of Sisi’s “silence” toward the war in the Gaza Strip.

One Egyptian reminded Adeeb that “Hamas is responsible for the killing of Egyptian soldiers.”

Her colleague, Azza Sami of the newspaper Al-Ahram, went as far as thanking Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for ordering the attack on Hamas. “Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more [people] like you to destroy Hamas,” she wrote.

In response, an Egyptian wrote: “May God make the State of Israel victorious in its war against the terrorist movement Hamas during this holy month of Ramadan.”

Echoing the widespread sentiment among Egyptians, journalist Mustafa Shardi said: “No Arab country has done for the Palestinians as Egypt did. Why doesn’t Hamas go to (Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan? Where is Erdogan when you need him? Why is he silent? If he opens his mouth they (Israel and the US) will hit him with a shoe. The Egyptian people are asking: Where are our people who were kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip? Hamas should apologize for the 1000 tunnels that were used to smuggle the resources of Egypt. They all have their own planes and accounts in Swiss banks.”

Watch this MEMRI TV video of various Egyptian TV hosts lambasting Hamas during the first weeks of the war:

The Egyptians are furious not only at Hamas but at their supporters, mainly Turkey and Qatar.

Turkey and Egypt have been trading insults over Gaza:

Egypt warned Ankara Saturday of “further action” as it protested for the second time in a week at the Turkish premier criticizing its president and Cairo’s handling of the Gaza conflict.

Turkish PM Recep Tayipp Erdogan

The foreign ministry said it was summoning the Turkish charge d’affaires — for the second time within a week — to protest against Erdogan’s criticism in the media on Thursday of President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and Cairo’s stance on the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty told AFP that the protest comes after Erdogan in an interview with US television channel CNN “repeated again that Sissi was a tyrant and that Egypt has no role” in resolving the Gaza crisis.

Erdogan also denounced Sissi on July 18 as an “illegitimate tyrant,” saying that Cairo could not be relied upon to negotiate a truce in Gaza.

Saturday’s ministry statement said Erdogan’s remarks show “the total ignorance and dismissal of the political reality in Egypt since the June 30 revolution.”

An interesting summation of the new regional configuration in which Israel finds itself was written in the New York Times (via the Times of Israel, h/t DavidinPT):

 After the military ouster of the Islamist government in Cairo last year, Egypt has led a new coalition of Arab states — including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — that has effectively lined up with Israel in its fight against Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip. That, in turn, may have contributed to the failure of the antagonists to reach a negotiated cease-fire even after more than three weeks of bloodshed.

“The Arab states’ loathing and fear of political Islam is so strong that it outweighs their allergy to Benjamin Netanyahu,” the prime minister of Israel, said Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington and a former Middle East negotiator under several presidents.

“I have never seen a situation like it, where you have so many Arab states acquiescing in the death and destruction in Gaza and the pummeling of Hamas,” he said. “The silence is deafening.”

“There is clearly a convergence of interests of these various regimes with Israel,” said Khaled Elgindy, a former adviser to Palestinian negotiators who is now a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. In the battle with Hamas, Mr. Elgindy said, the Egyptian fight against the forces of political Islam and the Israeli struggle against Palestinian militants were nearly identical. “Whose proxy war is it?” he asked.

The dynamic has inverted all expectations of the Arab Spring uprisings. As recently as 18 months ago, most analysts in Israel, Washington and the Palestinian territories expected the popular uprisings to make the Arab governments more responsive to their citizens, and therefore more sympathetic to the Palestinians and more hostile to Israel.

But instead of becoming more isolated, Israel’s government has emerged for the moment as an unexpected beneficiary of the ensuing tumult, now tacitly supported by the leaders of the resurgent conservative order as an ally in their common fight against political Islam.

And here we see the utter ineptness, not to say deluded ignorance, of the American Administration as embodied by John Kerry:

For Washington, the shift poses new obstacles to its efforts to end the fighting. Although Egyptian intelligence agencies continue to talk with Hamas, as they did under former President Hosni Mubarak and Mr. Morsi, Cairo’s new animosity toward the group has called into question the effectiveness of that channel, especially after the response to Egypt’s first proposal.

As a result, Secretary of State John Kerry turned to the more Islamist-friendly states of Qatar and Turkey as alternative mediators — two states that grew in regional stature with the rising tide of political Islam after the Arab Spring, and that have suffered a degree of isolation as that tide has ebbed.

But that move has put Mr. Kerry in the incongruous position of appearing to some analysts as less hostile to Hamas — and thus less supportive of Israel — than Egypt or its Arab allies.

If Kerry would have taken proper advice from knowledgeable people rather than from his little echo-chamber coterie, he might not have found himself in this embarrassing situation.

Meanwhile, a 72-hour ceasefire was declared a few hours ago, to begin at 8 a.m. on Friday.  Perhaps the US has learned its lesson from its abortive attempt at a ceasefire last week, because this time, Israel’s security needs were taken into account:

He notes that the joint US-UN text provides that during the 72 hour truce, “the forces on the ground will remain in place.” This clause reflects Netanyahu’s insistence that he would not agree a deal that requires the IDF to stop looking for and demolishing Hamas’s terror tunnels.

And despite the announcement coming from the UN and the US, where will the ceasefire negotiations be taking place? In Egypt, considered by Israel to be more neutral than the US. Who could ever have dreamed of such a situation?

As Lewy14 says in his comment on my previous post:

It seems there is another cease fire. This one negotiated in Cairo, including representatives of the PA.

Nota bene – not negotiated in Paris, with Qatar and Turkey as proxies for Hamas.

So, it’s confirmed: Kerry is an idiot. Not just an opinion, but a fact.

…To hell with world opinion: Israel simply needs to keep KSA/Jordan/UAE/Egypt onside. They share the benefits of a demilitarized Gaza. They also share the certain knowledge that the US is an unreliable ally.

Precisely. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Let’s hope for a quiet night and that the ceasefire holds for the full time-span, while the IDF continues on its search-and-destroy mission of the terror tunnels.

Posted in Defence and Military, International relations, Mideast news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UNRWA’s pernicious role and Hamas’s abuse of civilian institutions

Yesterday three more IDF soldiers were killed when a booby-trapped house exploded in Gaza. Later investigation reveals that it is possible that the building was not an UNRWA clinic but was disguised as one:

Three IDF soldiers were killed Wednesday morning in Gaza in an explosion at a booby-trapped UNRWA health clinic that housed a tunnel entry shaft, the IDF’s Gaza Division commander, Brig. Gen. Micky Edelstein, said in a briefing.

After describing certain precautionary measures, Edelstein said, “And then we enter with our people, and they [the militants terrorists], from the very same terror tunnel, they blow up half the clinic on our troops.”

“They blow [up] the UNRWA clinic on our troops.”

UNRWA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

However, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the military unit that implements government policies in the Palestinian areas, later said that the clinic in Abu Daka, outside Khan Younis, was last registered as a sensitive location three years ago, “and it hasn’t been since.”

The spokesperson said the site had not been registered then as belonging to UNRWA, leading to speculation that, perhaps, militants terrorists [there, fixed that -Ed.] stole the sign and tacked it on the door, posting it as a security umbrella under which a tunnel could be dug.

The army named the fallen soldiers as Staff Sgt. Matan Gotlib, 21, of Rishon Lezion, Staff Sgt. Omer Chai, 21, of Savion, and Sgt. Guy Algranati, 20, of Tel Aviv.

St. Sgt. Omer Chai HY’D

St. Sgt. Guy Elgranati HY’D

St. Sgt. Matan Gottlieb HY’D

Here is where we see that the IDF’s caution in protecting enemy installations is actually endangering the soldiers’ own lives. In my humble opinion that is as immoral as shooting at civilians:

The three soldiers, members of the elite Maglan unit, were taking precautionary measures in efforts to limit damage to the structure before eliminating the tunnel, when the explosives detonated in the small building.

The soldiers had sent in sniffing dogs and a small tractor to minimize damage to the structure, but explosives rigged to the building detonated, toppling a section of the building on the soldiers.

Fifteen soldiers were injured. IDF soldiers evacuating the wounded came under fire from Palestinian fighters. All of the fatalities and injured were eventually brought back to Israeli territory.

The deaths brought the toll of IDF soldiers killed since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge to 56.

With mention of the number of IDF casualties it is also sad to note that 5 IDF dogs have also been killed in Gaza:

Five dogs of the IDF’s Oketz canine unit have been killed in the Gaza Strip during the course of Operation Protective Edge, Ynet News reports.

The dogs were involved in various operations, including uncovering explosives in booby-trapped buildings.

Returning to the original article:

Edelstein used the alleged clinic as an illustration of the difficulty inherent in fighting an enemy willing to exploit both civilians and non-governmental organizations.

“Once you enter such a clinic and you see the UNRWA sign on it and you know there is a terror tunnel there, you know it’s a very very sensitive building, and you’re thinking of the not-terrorist Palestinians living there all around, and you’re trying not to harm this place,” Edelstein said.

He said Hamas militants terrorists have used more than a thousand IEDs so far, destroying thousands of buildings in the Gaza Strip.

As an example he noted that in sweeps of a single street of 28 buildings Tuesday night, 19 were found to be booby-trapped.

In addition to the booby trapped clinic, disguised or not, rockets were found for the third time in an UNRWA school, (and I suppose they’ll claim once again that they are “shocked! shocked!”):

A UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees said Tuesday that a stockpile of Hamas rockets was found in one of UNRWA’s Gaza schools — for the third time since the onset of Operation Protective Edge.

The incident, however, was not publicized by UNRWA on its website or official Twitter feed, or that of its spokesperson.

In its press release, UNRWA’s spokesperson said that the discovery was made during a routine inspection of the school, “which was closed for the summer and not being used as a shelter.”

“All the relevant parties have been notified,” UNRWA said, without elaborating which parties. Hamas, the terror group that controls the Gaza Strip, has launched over 2,000 of rockets at Israel in the past month.

“We condemn the group or groups who endangered civilians by placing these munitions in our school,” said UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness. “This is yet another flagrant violation of the neutrality of our premises. We call on all the warring parties to respect the inviolability of UN property.”

Tuesday’s incident was the third instance in which Palestinian armaments were found in UN facilities in the Gaza Strip. On July 22, the UN agency found rockets stockpiled in another school which “is situated between two other UNRWA schools that currently each accommodate 1,500 internally displaced persons.”

A week before that, UNRWA found some 20 rockets in a school under its auspices, also during a standard inspection. A spokesperson for UNRWA said the organization gave the rockets to “local authorities,” which answer to the Hamas-backed unity government led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “According to longstanding UN practice in UN humanitarian operations worldwide, incidents involving unexploded ordnance that could endanger beneficiaries and staff are referred to the local authorities,” Gunness told The Times of Israel.

In Jerusalem, officials charged that the weaponry was returned to Hamas. “The rockets were passed on to the government authorities in Gaza, which is Hamas.

In other words, UNRWA handed to Hamas rockets that could well be shot at Israel,” a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel.

The truth is that none of this is surprising any more. UNRWA’s pernicious role in perpetuating the Palestinian “refugee” narrative is well-documented. See for example this post by Brian Goldfarb.

The collapsed minaret of a destroyed mosque in Gaza City, on July 30, 2014 after it was hit in an overnight Israeli strike

Hamas’ cynical use of civilian infrastructure is not limited to NGO’s and aid organizations. Here for example is a video of what IDF soldiers found just yesterday in a Gaza mosque. (Hint: not just prayer books but tunnel openings and weapons):

I’m sure the world outrage at Hamas will pour forth in 3..2..1.. /crickets…

Watch this video of Hamas shooting rockets from a school, and keep this in mind next time Israel is condemned for “indiscriminately targeting a school” as has happened a few times in the last few days:

Even the dead are not allowed to rest in peace (in pieces maybe) as Hamas also launched rockets from a cemetery:

The only mystery to me is why the IDF would at this point consider any UNRWA installation to be innocent. They should all be treated enemy installations a priori, unless proven otherwise.

UN school in Jabalia which was shelled by unknown assailants

Yesterday the IDF was accused once again of shelling a UN school in which 19 civilians were killed. The IDF announced that it was simply returning fire which emanated from the school. Why anyone should be surprised at such an occurrence by now is incomprehensible to me, given Hamas’ documented history, and the IDF’s huge efforts at avoiding civilian casusalties:

The Israeli military says it fired back after soldiers were targeted by mortar rounds launched from the vicinity of the school.

In the incident last week in which Israel was wrongly accused of shelling the Bet Hanoun school, here’s what an Italian reporter tweeted:

But will this be enough to destroy the myth of “murderous Israel bombs schools”? I doubt it. The fabricated “truth” has flown around the world before the real truth has had a chance to get out of bed.

Interestingly, the US, which has been coldly neutral-to-hostile to Israel recently, while requesting an investigation, did not outright condemn Israel for the school shelling, preferring to wait for the facts to emerge (something which ought to be a given, but isn’t in today’s topsy-turvy world):

The White House expects a “a full, prompt and thorough investigation” into Wednesday’s shelling of a United Nations-run girls’ school in Gaza, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told reporters during an impromptu press conference aboard Air Force One. Schultz’s statement underscored similar calls from the State Department, but unlike the UN, administration officials refused to ascribe blame to Israel for the incident that Gazan sources said left some 20 people dead.

Schultz seemed to dismiss statements from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon immediately pinning responsibility for the attack on Israel, which Ban accused of ignoring repeated communications on the location of the school.

The White House spokesperson said that he “understands” that “the UN has put out a statement on its views, but from our vantage point, we just want to underscore the importance of a full, prompt and thorough investigation.”

Instead, Schultz ducked calls to blame Israel for the incident while offering an ambiguous concern over “actions [that] violate the international understanding of the UN’s neutrality.”

“We are extremely concerned that the thousands of internally displaced Palestinians, who have been called on by the Israeli military to evacuate their homes, are not safe in these UN-designated shelters in Gaza,” Schultz told reporters. “We also condemn those responsible for hiding weapons in the United Nations facilities in Gaza. All of these actions violate the international understanding of the UN’s neutrality.”

Earlier Wednesday, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf ducked questions as to Israel’s culpability in the shelling.

“We don’t know for certain who shelled the school,” said Harf, explaining why she refused to explicitly blame Israel for the incident.

Harf said that Washington did not know if there were rockets stored in the school, but said that rather on relying on conclusions drawn by the UN, the US government would “attempt to get its own facts” regarding the incident. Rockets have been found hidden in UN schools in two separate incidents since the IDF began its ground operations in the Gaza Strip.

The US also acceded to Israel’s request for more ammunition:

Last night, the Pentagon confirmed the Israeli military had requested additional ammunition to restock its dwindling supplies on July 20, with the US Defense Department approving the sale just three days later.“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to US national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a public statement before today’s cabinet meeting, once again stressed that no ceasefire will be acceptable without the IDF being allowed to remain to deal with the terror tunnels.

He says Israel will not accept any ceasefire proposal that prevents the IDF from completing the task of demolishing the tunnels, and reiterates that this is only the first step in the full disarmament of the Gaza Strip. He says the US, Europe and others now recognize that imperative.

An IDF artillery unit shells Hamas positions in Gaza

He says Hamas is suffering harsh blows: “thousands of terror targets” have been attacked — “terror command centers, rocket stores, weapons workshops, launchers, and hundreds of slain terrorists.”

Netanyahu extends condolences to the fallen soldiers’ families — he says he has spoken to the dozens of families by phone — and praises the public for its resilience.

He says there is a minority of the Israeli public that grows increasingly radical at this time — on both extremes of the political spectrum — in a reference to the hostile online and in-person clashes between left-wing and right-wing activists. “Be careful what you say; be careful what you do,” he urges.

He says the ministers must serve as a personal example to the public, and that national unity is vital.

As he speaks, sirens sound in the Gaza border towns, including Sderot.

Yesterday Hamas released a graphic video of the tunnel infiltration into Nahal Oz in which 5 soldiers were killed  Echoing the Prime Minister’s words, an IDF spokesman said:

“These are the people we’re dealing with on a daily basis – cowardly terrorists who don’t care about human lives. They’re on an ongoing mission to kill and maim, and to abduct Israeli soldiers and civilians,” Maj. Arye Shalicar, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, told The Times of Israel. “We have to be prepared for this to recur again and again around the Gaza Strip. Until we find and destroy each and every tunnel they have dug over the last few years, such attacks can happen anytime, anywhere.”

Let us not forget the rockets that are almost as great a threat to Israel, despite the spectacular success of the Iron Dome. As of yesterday, Hamas has fired over 2,760 rockets at Israel. The number is almost too hard to grasp, and it keeps rising as the rocket fire continues.

And if Iran gets its way, G-d forbid, its plan to send rockets to the West Bank could ignite an even greater regional conflagration. Again, keep this information in mind next time Israel is demanded to give up the West Bank to its implacable enemies.

May Hashem watch over and protect our soldiers and all the citizens of Israel.

הנה לא ינום ולא ישן שומר ישראל

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Kerry’s delusional ceasefire proposal: When the left and right are in agreement you know you’ve lost the argument

John Kerry is back, like a bad penny

A lot has been said and much fun been made of John Kerry’s ridiculous ceasefire proposal, which was utterly rejected by Israel. It turns out that John Kerry’s delicate feelings and fragile ego have been mortally wounded by the mockery.

Below are a series of items from yesterday’s Times of Israel live-blog which illustrate this:

First, an overview from Avi Issacharoff regarding the ongoing dispute with Kerry:

Labor opposition leader Isaac Herzog told Channel 2 earlier that Secretary Kerry, with whom he says he speaks often, has been “hurt to the depths of his soul” by the criticisms he’s received in Israel for his handling of the ceasefire effort.

ToI’s Avi Issacharoff explains in an analysis piece why Kerry has so infuriated his allies.

One key point: “Kerry and his staff made an outrageous decision to turn their backs on the Egyptian framework for a ceasefire in a manner that encouraged Hamas to continue shooting rockets… By turning to Doha and Ankara behind the backs of Cairo and Jerusalem, Washington — no doubt unintentionally — strengthened Hamas’s resolve against Egypt and Israel.”

Another: “The farce continued with the amateurish draft that was immediately rejected by Israel’s security cabinet.”

And a third: “It then reached new heights on Saturday in Paris, when Kerry decided to participate in an international summit on Gaza, attended by his new friends al-Attiyah and Davutoglu (the foreign ministers of Qatar and Turkey) as well as the foreign ministers of the European Union, but not by a few players that Kerry apparently perceives as marginal – representatives of Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and, of course, Israel.

It’s hard to say what caused the Obama administration to join forces with the Muslim Brotherhood of all camps — loyally represented by Turkey and Qatar — and turn its back on the movement’s sworn enemy, the Egyptian government. The best case scenario is that it might have been amateurism or a misreading of the situation. In a less ideal scenario, Washington decided to forge an alliance with organizations and entities that would be happy to see Israel disappear from the map.”

Says Issacharoff: “I prefer to bet on the first option… that Kerry just doesn’t understand who’s playing against whom in the Wild Mideast.

Here is Avi Issacharoff’s full article.

Here’s just one example of an MK’s scathing view of American diplomacy. Zeev Elkin said “Last time we listened to the US, Hamas took Gaza”.

The US clearly can’t abide any criticism and use nasty menacing language against Israel’s legitimate criticism as we read that “Criticism of Kerry could jeopardize Israeli-US ties — US officials“. It seems that criticism is a one-way street. The US, particularly the State Deparment,  can and does criticise Israel loudly, publicly and often, but cannot dish it out. We’ve been here before.

The State Department goes on the defensive Monday afternoon, critiquing Israeli sources for leaking details of a Gaza ceasefire draft, and then denying allegations that the draft represented a capitulation to Hamas demands.

Leaks and criticism of the sort that Secretary of State John Kerry faced over the weekend are “simply not the way allies and partners treat each other,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki complains.

Riiight. The US has never criticised Israel. Not.

The US ought to know that in the Middle East, but especially in Israel, you know you’ve lost your argument when you’ve lost the left as well as the right, and when their views converge -Voices from left, right wary of US ceasefire proposal.

However, despite all America’s sound and fury at Israel’s audacity in rejecting their ceasefire proposal, Israeli criticism did manage to alter the US ceasefire terms:

While American officials continue to fume at the Israeli media for its harsh criticism of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to reach a ceasefire last week, apparently it had some effect. During a speech, Kerry says that “any process to resolve the crisis in Gaza… must lead to the disarmament of Hamas.” In a ceasefire proposal Kerry had submitted to Israel on Friday, no disarmament of Hamas was mentioned.

Small comfort but we have take the crumbs that we can find.

Israel’s confusion at John Kerry’s delusional behaviour has not gone unnoticed in the foreign press. The Daily Telegraph’s Robert Tail reports that “Israel thinks that John Kerry is an alien, an ongoing embarrassment“:

John Kerry has almost certainly been called worse things than a space alien – particularly by Israel’s Right-wing camp, where contempt for the US secretary of state and his failed peacemaking efforts is unabashed.

But when the insult is levelled by the previously supportive Haaretz newspaper, standard-bearer of the country’s liberal-Left, it may be time for him – and by extension, President Barack Obama – to take notice.

The withering description was coined by Barack Ravid, the paper’s well-informed and normally restrained diplomatic editor, to describe Mr Kerry’s attempts at brokering a truce to the bloody conflict in Gaza – rejected by Israel amid widespread mockery.

“It’s as if he isn’t the foreign minister of the world’s most powerful nation, but an alien, who just disembarked his spaceship in the Mideast,” wrote Mr Ravid, even while softening his remarks by describing Mr Kerry as “a true friend to Israel”.

Worse still from Mr Kerry’s viewpoint, the journalist suggested that, Moshe Ya’alon, the Israeli defence minister, “may have had a point” earlier this year when he labelled America’s top diplomat “obsessive and messianic” in remarks that were widely disparaged at the time over his abortive attempts to mediate a peace deal with the Palestinians.

The Israeli media carried similarly mocking depictions in abundance on Sunday – all fuelled by senior figures in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, who professed amazement at the terms of a proposed ceasefire deal which they said were skewed in favour of Hamas, the Islamist militant group which Israel is fighting.

Yet it is the Haaretz insult that signals Mr Kerry’s credibility loss in the eyes of Washington’s closest Middle East ally, according to Israeli government insiders.

“If he gets rubbished by Haaretz, it means he really goofed up,” said one official, who said the criticism was widely shared across the Israeli political spectrum.

Debka reports (h/t DavidinPT) that it wasn’t only Israel who was furious at the Kerry proposal. The Palestinian Authority strongly objected too:

The Palestinian Authority was much more open and blunt than Netanyahu in its disapproval of the game that was being played out in Paris. Walid Assad, one of the spokesmen of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas protested what he called Kerry’s “appeasement” of Qatar and Turkey at the expense of Egypt and the PA, and his failure to invite either to the meeting for discussing a ceasefire in Gaza hostilities.

Senior Palestinian officials warned against attempts to “bypass the PLO as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”

In the legitimacy stakes, Netanyahu has three solid allies for crushing Hamas: Saudi King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi and the UAE ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Sunday, Mahmoud Abbas attached a Palestinian voice to this group.

Debka goes on to try and explain the American rationale behind their ceasefire attempts:

This regional coalition has enormous clout, derived, on the one hand, from the Israeli military and its fight against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian army’s containment of Hamas efforts to break out into Sinai for strategic depth; and, on the other, from the financial might of Saudi Arabia and the oil emirates and the world prestige they enjoy.

So why is the Obama administration shoving this powerful coalition out of his way and building a rival alliance to counter it?

Its primary motive is fear that if this group is allowed to make the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip a success, it will become the springboard for its next move, a victorious assault on Iran.

This sequence of events would totally derail current US Middle East policy, which hinges on détente with Tehran, Obama’s advisers warn him, and even jeopardize his strategy for bringing the nuclear negotiations between the six world powers and Iran to a successful conclusion.

I can’t see anything wrong with derailing American policy in the Middle East. As far as I’m concerned, and probably most Israelis, that should be a feature, not a bug, of any future agreement.

Posted in Israel news | Tagged , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

5 soldiers were killed in Monday’s tunnel infiltration at Nahal Oz, IDF strikes Hamas centers of power

In my previous post I mentioned that a tunnel infiltration by Hamas terrorists into Kibbutz Nahal Oz was thwarted. Today the news was released that five IDF soldiers were killed in that attack, and another soldier prevented the abduction of one of the dead bodies, killing one of the terrorists.

Five soldiers were killed when Hamas terrorists breached the border from Gaza near Kibbutz Nahal Oz on Monday, it has been cleared for publication.

A sixth soldier prevented the abduction of a body of one of the soldiers who was killed. He reportedly opened fire on the terrorists from the guard position he was in, when he saw them trying to drag a body toward the tunnel they emerged from. One of the terrorists was killed and the rest threw down their weapons and fled back into Gaza through the tunnel, according to Channel 2.

The IDF was reportedly aware of the tunnel’s existence and it is thus not clear how the terrorists managed to use it. One possibility is that the terrorist squad had been ensconced in a hidden room inside the tunnel network and emerged to carry out the attack.

Sergeant Daniel Kedmi, 18, from Tzofim. His funeral will be held on Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. at the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery.

Sergeant Barkay Ishai Shor, 21, from Jerusalem. He will be laid to rest on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. at the military cemetery on Mount Herzl.

Sergeant Sagi Erez, 19, from Kiryat Ata. His funeral will be held on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at the military cemetery in Haifa.

Sergeant Dor Dery, 18, from Jerusalem. He will be laid to rest Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. at the military cemetery on Mount Herzl.

Sergeant Nadav Raymond, 19, from Shdemot Devorah. He will be laid to rest Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. in Shdemot Devorah.

Hamas has admitted that it was trying to kidnap an IDF soldier in the incident.

According to the group, the conditions on the ground did not allow for the plan to go through. One of the terrorists was killed and the rest fled back to Gaza.

The deaths of the five soldiers brings the total number of soldiers killed on Monday to 10.

Four of the soldiers were killed by a mortar that struck a group of soldiers near the Gaza border. Six other soldiers were seriously wounded by the mortar shell.

A fifth soldier, First Sgt. Moshe Doino, 20, of Jerusalem, was killed in the course of fighting inside Gaza in the early afternoon.

53 IDF officers and soldiers have been killed since the start of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

May their memories be for a blessing, and may their deaths not be in vain.

This is terrible news, devastating for the families and for the nation.  But as Binyamin Netanyahu said, we must be strong and be prepared for a long operation in order to root out this cancer.

In response Israel intensified its onslaught against Hamas targets in Gaza. So far today, the Gaza seaport, Hamas radio and TV stations and the power station have all been bombed.

Here’s the Gaza seaport after a structure there was bombed:

And the Gaza power plant:

Screenshot of burning Gaza power plant via Sky News

Screenshot of burning Gaza power plant via Sky News

The Hamas media offices were hit in the middle of the night:

The IDF also destroyed the homes of Hamas leaders, including Khaled Mashaal, so cowardly staying far away in Qatar.

In my humble opinion this might make good TV but the war will not stop until Hamas leaders themselves are eradicated.

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Gaza operation day 21 – Hamas rockets kill Gaza civilians, mortars kill IDF soldiers, no ceasefire in sight

Today, the 21st day of Operation Protective Edge, began on a less intense note. There had been no rocket fire overnight, and although no official ceasefire had been declared, Israel had made the decision to extend the humanitarian truce while continuing search-and-destroy mission against the terror tunnels.  Hamas persisted with  dribble of rocket fire until around 4 p.m. this afternoon, when they suddenly went ballistic (if you excuse the pun).

Cartoon by Peter Brookes at the London Times

Cartoon by Peter Brookes at the London Times

It started with the sudden news that Shifa Hospital had been shelled, and at least 10 civilians killed, amongst them children.  My initial reaction was happiness that the IDF had attacked the main Hamas headquarters, the Shifa Hospital itself where the cowardly terrorist leaders hide. I was only surprised that the IDF hadn’t called for the hospital to be evacuated first.

All became clear very soon when, for a change, the IDF almost immediately denied responsibility and laid it squarely where it belonged: Hamas had tried to launch a Fajr missile at central Israel and had misfired.

The Israeli army said it was not operating in the vicinity of Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza on Monday, where an explosion reportedly killed and wounded dozens of Palestinians.

“A short while ago Al-Shifa Hospital and Al-Shati Refugee Camp were struck by failed rocket attacks launched by Gaza terrorists,” the army said in a statement sent to reporters.

The failed attempt to fire the projectile apparently hit a car near the center, according to Israel’s Channel 2 News, causing the casualties.

The station said that a “Hamas Fajr-5 rocket aimed at central Israel, which was fired from a playground outside the Shifa hospital and exploded on the site causing casualties, had at least a 100 kg (220 lbs) warhead,” according to The Times of Israel.

Reporter Nir Devori of Channel 2 and analyst Ehud Yaari confirmed the carnage was most likely the result of a failed Fajr rocket launch — aimed at central Israel.

Palestinian reports are claiming at least seven dead and dozens wounded in a “failed rocket launch” by terrorists from the vicinity of the medical compound, according to Israeli Channel 1 reporter Yoram Cohen.‏

Palestinian sources at the Al-Shati Refugee Camp, said an airstrike killed children, a claim the army denied.

I wonder whether the media will accurately report the IDF denial, or whether it will blame Israel in its usual knee-jerk fashion. In this respect it is of great interest to read the last part of the above Algemeiner article, regarding Hamas intimidation of civilians and reporters:

Additionally, some reporters trying to cover events in the coastal enclave say Hamas is limiting coverage and threatening them for reporting anything unflattering to the Islamist terrorist group.

Radjaa Abu Dagga, Gaza correspondent for France’s Libérationtold the newspaper‘s readers on Tuesday how Hamas refused his requests to leave Gaza and how he was interrogated by Hamas members from their headquarters inside Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital.

Blogger Elder of Ziyon published a translation of his harrowing account on Thursday.

Posting a photo to Twitter of a Hamas spokesman being interviewed on camera, Nick Casey, The Wall Street Journal‘s Middle East Correspondent, wondered how patients there might feel about Hamas using the hospital as a “de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices,” as reported by The Washington Post last week.

On Monday, Casey wrote: “You have to wonder [with] the shelling how patients at Shifa hospital feel as Hamas uses it as a safe place to see media.”

The Shati refugee camp was also hit by an errant Hamas rocket, which of course was also blamed on the IDF. The IDF fired back – verbally:

Immediately after the Shifa Hospital explosion Hamas launched their latest rocket barrage, reaching as far north as Zichron Yaakov.

Amongst this onslaught they also shot mortars over the border – against which no Code Red alarm or Iron Dome can protect because the distance and the time-span is so short, and four soldiers were killed in this attack.  A fifth soldier was killed today fighting in Gaza:

Five soldiers were killed Monday in and near the Gaza Strip.

Four of the soldiers were killed by a mortar that struck a group of soldiers near the Gaza border. This is the same mortar strike that was reported earlier as killing four “Israelis.” The “Israelis” have been identified as soldiers.

Six other soldiers were seriously wounded by the mortar shell.

A fifth soldier, First Sgt. Moshe Doino, 20, of Jerusalem, was killed in the course of fighting inside Gaza in the early afternoon.

Since the campaign in Gaza began, 48 IDF officers and soldiers were killed.

May their memories be for a blessing and may Hashem avenge their blood.

A short while later, in a terrifying replay of previous tunnel infiltrations, residents of several Israeli border communities were put in lockdown and roads were closed because of an infiltration by terrorists through a tunnel into one of the communities. The IDF located the terrorists and killed them:

Five terrorists infiltrate into Israel through a cross-border tunnel in southern Israel, Channel 2 reports.

Israeli troops locate the gunmen and kill them.

Sweeps of the area to ensure no other terrorists successfully infiltrated are ongoing.

This is the sixth attempt by Hamas to send terrorists into Israel through the tunnels this month.

The thwarted attack underlines that Hamas still has tunnels through which it can try to attack Israel, even though the IDF has located more than 30 such tunnels in the past week and a half.

The IDF has resumed its aerial and artillery onslaught on Gaza terror targets after warning residents of Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya and Jabaliya to evacuate.

Binyamin Netanyahu address the nation after mortar attack

The day is not yet over, but for now I’ll conclude with the short press briefing held by PM Netanyahu, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon and Chief of Staff Benny Gantz: (emphases added):

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed Israeli citizens on live television Monday evening after Hamas fired a mortar shell that killed four people in southern Israel.

“We knew that we would have difficult days,” he said. “This is a hard and painful day.”

“Patience and determination are required in order to fight a terror organization that seeks to destroy us,” the prime minister added. “We will not complete the operation without neutralizing the tunnels whose only purpose is to annihilate our children and our civilians.

“The action against the tunnels is the first step in demilitarizing Gaza,” Netanyahu declared. “The discussion about demilitarizing Gaza must be a part of any solution, and the international community must demand this with fervor, instead of letting money that enters Gaza to reach Hamas, and allowing concrete that enters to be used in tunnels.

“There must be an end to this,” Netayahu said. “It is unacceptable the citizens of Israel will live underthreat of death. Killing from above and killing from below.

The Jerusalem Post also reports on the press briefing:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the nation in a televised press conference Monday night, saying that Israel must be prepared for a long mission in Gaza, as the operation would not be over until all the terror tunnels are destroyed.

“There is no war more just than this one,” he said. “We will not end the operation in Gaza without neutralizing the terror tunnels.”

“Hamas is a cruel enemy, not only to us, but to their own citizens,” Netanyahu continued. “They have rejected numerous cease-fires. We are prepared for an extended operation.”

Earlier on Monday Netanyahu slammed a UN Security Council statement calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza, saying during a phone conversation with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the statement addresses the needs of a murderous terrorist organization, but not those of Israel.

Israel accepted a UN request for a humanitarian cease-fire three times, he said, while Hamas violated each one.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, speaking after Netanyahu, echoed the premier, saying Israel will not hesitate to expand its actions against Hamas in a manner that will harm the terror organization.

He stressed that Israel would not compromise the security of its citizens.

“We won’t be deterred from fighting for our home and citizens,” he said in a press conference.

Ya’alon vowed that quiet would be returned to the citizens of Israel, although he noted that the military’s campaign in Gaza could be prolonged.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz wrapped up the conference, saying the IDF was making “excellent” progress in its operations in Gaza, which he said would continue for as long as needed.

Gantz said the IDF was taking all possible measures not to cause civilian casualties in Gaza, but reiterated Israel’s warning for Palestinian civilians to distance themselves from the areas where Hamas is operating.

Turning to the Israeli front, the IDF chief called for public support to remain strong. “I have no doubt we can succeed,” he stressed.

It sounds like the top political and military echelon are united in their determination to carry this operation through to the bitter end – at least a bitter end for Hamas. For Israel it will be a sweet day indeed when Hamas is eradicated. We just have to stand firm and hold our nerve in the face of international pressure and condemnation.

I have no doubt that we are capable of this.

May tomorrow bring better news.

May Hashem protect our soldiers and watch over us.

הנה לא ינום ולא ישן שומר ישראל

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Operation Protective Edge day 20 – Ceasefire see-saw

Hamas ceasefire

We cease, they fire

Israel has swung back and forth between 3 ceasefires today. First there was the ceasefire that was agreed yesterday to last from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m tonight.

However that ceasefire was rejected early this morning (late last night?) by Hamas because it would have involved recognizing Israel. How pathetic and juvenile can you get? However, Israel did accept a 24 hour extension of the UN-requested  humanitarian ceasefire.

There wasn’t much point to Israel’s extension of the ceasefire unless it meant “we cease, they fire” since Hamas renewed its rocket fire in the morning: (right on my hometown again. At least we’re popular somewhere!):

A rocket falls near Petah Tikvah. No one is hurt and no damage is reported.

Police sappers are on the scene.

Rocket lands in Petach Tikva

Rocket lands in Petach Tikva (picture taken by a friend of my daughter)

Residents are reminded not to approach fallen rockets, as some warheads are still live after the rocket falls.

Israel is observing a UN-requested 24-hour ceasefire. Hamas has rejected the ceasefire and continued rocket fire over Israel throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning.

At that stage Israel abandoned the non-existent ceasefire and resumed its activities against Gaza. At 12.30 Hamas quietly asked for another humanitarian ceasefire, to which Israel refused unless Hamas asked publicly:

Israeli officials say Hamas is quietly asking for a return of the humanitarian ceasefire.

Israel resumed strikes on Hamas targets Sunday morning after Hamas refused to abide by a UN-requested ceasefire and launched several volleys of rockets at Israeli towns.

Within two hours of Israel’s resumption of strikes, Hamas officials are now asking the UN’s peace envoy Robert Serry to arrange a renewal of the ceasefire.

If true, the report indicates Hamas has given up its previous demand that no ceasefire would go into effect unless Israel withdrew is ground troops from Gaza and stopped the destruction of Hamas’s tunnels.

Such a ceasefire extension won’t take effect until Hamas makes the request publicly, Israeli officials say.

That request finally came at 2 pm when Hamas asked for another 24 hour truce. But their own ceasefire lasted barely 20 minutes when the rockets began to fall again.

Israel never gave an official answer to the truce request, the official position being a wait-and-see approach. By the time the intensified rocket fire renewed it was obvious that the whole thing was a non-starter.  Israeli sources pointed out that Hamas had rejected 3 truce offers in one day.

It seems that the situation as of tonight is that Israel has not officially agreed to a truce but will hold its fire if it is not fired upon. This unofficial ceasefire will last for 3 days.

Meanwhile Hamas used the ceasefire as a cover to execute 25 Gazans accused of “treachery”:

Hamas militants killed at least 25 Gazan civilians suspected of collaborating with Israel, World Net Daily reported, citing sources close to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad groups.

The sources told WND that most of the extra-judicial killings of suspected collaborators took place during a brief “humanitarian” cease-fire last Thursday. Hamas blamed the killings on Israel saying they took place four days earlier, in Shuja’iya, on Gaza’s northern border with Israel.

The murdered Gazans were accused of leading Israeli troops to smuggling tunnels and providing intelligence on Hamas’ infrastructure inside Gazan cities, according to the sources.

According to WND, the sources also said “the civilian suspects murdered by Hamas were publicly celebrated by Hamas as martyrs killed by the Jewish state.”

Keep those facts in mind when you are next confronted with the Gaza casualty figures.

In other news – those “harmless firecracker rockets” have damaged 1,000 buildings and 750 cars in Israel - and this is with the protection of the Iron Dome. Can you imagine what devastation would have been wrought without this anti-missile system?

Police at the scene of the stopped car bomb at the checkpoint outside Beitar Illit

Apart from the Gaza war, violence has been increasing in the West Bank. Today a not-so-minor miracle occurred when a car bomb was stopped at a checkpoint outside Beitar Illit:

Border Police officers stopped what they suspect was a potential terror attack Sunday, when they arrested a man at a West Bank junction they said was carrying an explosive device in his car.
The Border Police said mid-day on Sunday that the man pulled up at a checkpoint near Beitar Ilit in the West Bank and almost instantly the officers found something suspicious about the man. They asked the man, who apparently was wearing a wig, large sunglasses, and acting “in a strange manner” to stop the car, but he refused.
At this point, one of the officers reached inside to grab the keys from the ignition, at which point the man stepped on the gas and started driving off, while the officer was still hanging halfway out the window, according to the Border Police.
The officer, however, managed to pull his service handgun and cock it, and ordered the man to stop, at which point he managed to pull the man out of the car and they rolled to the side of the road.
The man was arrested and handed over to the Shin Bet General Security Service for questioning. Inside his car officers found pipe bombs, gas canisters, explosives, and a detonator, according to a statement put out by the IDF after the incident. The officer who arrested the man said the back seats of the car had been removed and the entire area was full of gas canisters rigged with electric wires.
The incident caused massive gridlock as police shut down traffic in both directions from the junction in order to send in sappers to handle the explosives.
At the moment it’s unclear where the man was taking the explosives, though one working assumption is that they were meant to be used for a terror attack in Jerusalem.

The sappers were still defusing the bomb after 8 pm tonight!

In other regional news, oh joy, Turkey is planning to send yet another “aid flotilla” to Gaza. It will serve them right if it ends up in the same way as the Mavi Marmara.

In a much more dangerous development, Hamas is said to be involved in an arms deal with North Korea:

Hamas and North Korea are involved in a secret arms deal to smuggle rockets and communications equipment into the Strip, British newspaper The Telegraph reports.

The report, based on Western security sources, claims that the Gazan terror group is working through a Lebanese intermediary to bring more fighting equipment to the Strip, in order to replenish stocks after three weeks of fighting with Israel.

The deal with Pyongyang is said to be worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to the Telegraph, Israeli officials believe North Korea consulted with Hamas to aid the group in building a network of tunnels into Israeli territory intended for terror attacks, tunnels that Israel is now scrambling to uncover and destroy.

The subterranean passages are reminiscent of tunnels built by North Korea in the 1970s into South Korea.

Now we begin to understand how Hamas had the ability to build such complicated and sophisticated tunnels. This is a hugely dangerous relationship for Israel.

Returning to ceasefire talk, US President Obama had the temerity to call PM Binyamin Netanyahu and demand an unconditional ceasefire. What is noticeable is he makes only passing mention of Israeli security needs. (Emphases are added):

An immediate and unconditional ceasefire ending Israel’s assault on Hamas is a “clear strategic imperative” to Israel, US President Barack Obama told Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in a phone call on Sunday.

While the conversation focused on the immediate concerns of the United States, the president also discussed the broader implications of Israel’s operation in Gaza, Protective Edge, now over two weeks old and burdened with a mounting death toll, both within the Israel Defense Forces and the civilian population of Gaza.

Obama told Netanyahu he wants a ceasefire “that both allows Palestinians in Gaza to lead normal lives and addresses Gaza’s long-term development and economic needs, while strengthening the Palestinian Authority,” the White House said, in a readout of the call to reporters.

For a permanent ceasefire to be agreed upon, Hamas is requiring an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, formed to prevent Hamas from obtaining weapons to attack the Jewish state. Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni has told US Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel categorically rejects this condition, and indeed, Netanyahu’s cabinet has unanimously voted against the measure as part of an end to the current crisis.

Obama reiterated his belief that Israel has a right to defend itself, and condemned Hamas’ construction of tunnels and continuation of rocket fire into civilian areas.

“Ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza,” Obama expressed.

At least he made a glancing reference to the necessity of disarming Hamas, but his request, demand in fact, for an unconditional ceasefire makes a mockery of that condition.

MK Danny Danon irreverently echoed many Israelis’ feelings when he remarked:

We need a ceasefire from the attacks coming from Obama and the government in Washington. Just as the US fought with determination against the Taliban, we must continue hitting Hamas and destroying the infrastructure of terror.”

He also added: “We need to withstand the pressure on us and worry about the interests of the State of Israel.”

Times of Israel editor David Horovitz returns to John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal of Saturday, and calls it simply “John Kerry’s Betrayal”:

When The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff first reported the content of John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal on Friday afternoon, I wondered if something had gotten lost in translation. It seemed inconceivable that the American secretary of state would have drafted an initiative that, as a priority, did not require the dismantling of Hamas’s rocket arsenal and network of tunnels dug under the Israeli border. Yet the reported text did not address these issues at all, nor call for the demilitarization of Gaza.

t seemed inconceivable that the secretary’s initiative would specify the need to address Hamas’s demands for a lifting of the siege of Gaza, as though Hamas were a legitimate injured party acting in the interests of the people of Gaza — rather than the terror group that violently seized control of the Strip in 2007, diverted Gaza’s resources to its war effort against Israel, and could be relied upon to exploit any lifting of the “siege” in order to import yet more devastating weaponry with which to kill Israelis.

Israel and the US are meant to be allies; the US is meant to be committed to the protection of Israel in this most ruthless of neighborhoods; together, the US and Israel are meant to be trying to marginalize the murderous Islamic extremism that threatens the free world. Yet here was the top US diplomat appearing to accommodate a vicious terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction, with a formula that would leave Hamas better equipped to achieve that goal.

What emerges from Kerry’s self-initiated ceasefire mission — Israel had already accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal; and nobody asked him to come out on a trip he prefaced with sneering remarks about Israel’s attempted “pinpoint” strikes on Hamas terror targets — is that Jerusalem now regards him as duplicitous and dangerous.

And Kerry didn’t let up after unleashing his dreadful proposal. Following Friday’s fiasco, he jetted off to Paris and, quite extraordinarily, convened further consultations dominated by countries that overtly wish to do Israel harm. He met with his counterparts from Turkey, whose Hamas-backing leadership has lately accused Israel of attempting genocide in Gaza and compared Netanyahu to Hitler, and with Qatar, Hamas’s funder in chief, directly accused by president Shimon Peres last week of financing Hamas’s rockets and tunnels. Staggeringly, he did not bring Israel, Egypt, or the PA to his Paris sessions.

Whether through ineptitude, malice, or both, Kerry’s intervention was not a case of America’s top diplomat coming to our region to help ensure, through astute negotiation, the protection of a key ally. This was a betrayal.

I don’t find any of this surprising although it is still shocking to be confronted by so blatant a betrayal.  Despite the axiom “never attribute to malice what can be attributed to incompetence” I have my strong doubts that this is relevant to John Kerry or Barack Obama.

Someone who definitely has our back is our own Prime Minister who has been staunchly defending Israel in the international media. Here he is on CNN today:

May we have a quiet night and may tomorrow bring better news.

May Hashem protect our soldiers and watch over all of us.

הנה לא ינום ולא ישן שומר ישראל

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