Good News Friday

This week’s Good News Friday installment is going to be a little bit different for this very strange week.

My first item comes from Saudi Arabia of all places: The Saudi Foreign Minister has said that “we must denounce our hatred towards Israel“: (h/t Lewy 14 in the comments).

Speaking on the sidelines of the world assembly of Islamic scholars in Jeddh, Saud bin Faisal Al Saud said that the Middle-East needs peace and co-existence more than ever and Saudi Arabia as a leading Islamic country is ready to make sacrifices in peace negations [that HAS to be a typo! - Ed] and encourages President Abbas to follow the same policy.

Referring to the ongoing war in Gaza strip, the Saudi foreign Minster stressed that Hamas authority is the sole responsible for Palestinian calamity and they must brought before the law.The Saudi official further added that Arab World Increasingly Frustrated With Hamas which is seeking more wars.

I know that this is just a small beginning, but if it signifies the beginning of a change of heart amongst our Arab opponents this can only be to the good. Let’s hope this is not just a swallow without the summer to follow.

On the subject of support for Israel, here is a fantastic letter by a Jewish American actress in London saying Thank you to Hollywood exec Ryan Kavanaugh for your support (h/t Henry):

Last week, Relativity Media CEO Ryan Kavanaugh became the first major Hollywood executive to publicly oppose a letter condemning Israel signed by Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. “It makes my blood boil,” Kavanaugh told The Hollywood Reporter. “As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, anyone calling it Israeli ‘genocide’ vs. protecting themselves are either the most ignorant people about the situation and shouldn’t be commenting, or are truly anti-Semitic.”

Here’s an excerpt from the letter. Read it all:

The past few weeks have been some of the most trying and isolating I have ever experienced. In the arts world especially, I feel as though I am on an island of one, as any voice of support for Israel is met with accusations of war mongering, genocide and disgust.

My parents raised me to always use my voice.

I don’t understand why so many titans whose voices could be heard around the world refuse to use theirs.

At a time when Jewish businesses are being fire-bombed in Paris, when Jewish families in Amsterdam have had to remove mezuzahs from their doors for fear of being attacked, and when Jewish storefronts in Rome are being vandalized with swastikas and tags such as “Jew your end is near,” I can’t help but fear for the future.

What example are we setting?

What legacy are we leaving?

Israel is fighting for her survival in a unique moment of absolute moral clarity, and some of the most accomplished and successful artists in the world have labeled this genocide.  Where is the overwhelming disgust? Where is the backlash? At best, where is the education?

The blatant double and ultimately suicidal standard by which Israel is being judged is not a reasonable critique of a military situation; it is in fact a thinly veiled anti semitic assault perpetrated by the likes of Jimmy Carter and Navi Pillay and echoed by throngs of ignorants around the globe to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish state.  These extraordinary standards to which no other country in history have been held are part of a larger movement that is unearthing and harnessing the virulent, deep seated and devastating tides of victriolic hatred that too often seem to percolate just beneath the surface against the Jewish people. In my lifetime the tide has never been stronger.

Jews around the world who are being assaulted and maligned need your support, you in Hollywood whose voices cut across oceans.

Mr Kavanaugh, thank you for cutting across oceans, for not only cutting across, but for leading by example.

As I stare at the sea of articles posted by fellow actor “friends” on Facebook, all riddled with mis-truths vilifying Israel, and hear the faint cries of a “peaceful” protest rejecting Israel’s right to exist through my cracked window,  I cannot begin to articulate how much I appreciate your public and definite stance both supporting Israel and condemning the horrific and dangerously false accusations towards Israel by certain celebrities.

And for a brief moment, six thousand miles away, I don’t feel so completely alone.

Kol hakavod to Ryan Kavanaugh for his support and kol hakavod to Taube Brahms for expressing her thanks in her own name and in all our names.

And to conclude on a different note, the Apple co-founder visited Israel even as rockets were flying:

One of the issues Wozniak feels strongly about is how technology can help kids learn better. On Monday, he will be talking about that issue at Eduaction, a conference on all things educational sponsored by Mifal HaPayis (the Israel Lottery). Profits from Mifal HaPayis, which runs games like lotto, scratch card contests, and other legal gambling ventures, go into the educational system, generally to build classrooms and community centers and to sponsor programs in schools in depressed areas. Wozniak — making his first trip to Israel — is set to be one of the keynote speakers at the conference, which will take place in Holon, south of Tel Aviv.

And this is what Wozniak found during his trip:

Steve Wozniak (Photo credit: Courtesy)

It started when Woz posted a picture of Jerusalem, with the following message attached.

Woz: “Had a good time visiting Jerusalem and Gaza Strip today. If Israel did not react, the rockets would continue anyway. If Hamas halted rockets, Israel would not attack them. Peace.”

Steve Wozniak Israel opinion

This incited a flurry of comments, both supportive of Israel, and against.

But Woz is a straight talker – he doesn’t avoid a chance to voice his opinion – so he continued on.

“Sam, I looked across a few miles to Gaza. Right there you realize how stupid and senseless these crude rockets are. They can only kill indiscriminately. They are fired into populated areas. They can’t do much good for the Arab ideology since they really can’t inflict much damage. But the Israeli’s in certain places have to live with some fear and alarms and these rockets keep coming. You may be mathematically safe, but it’s like being raped when you can’t do anything about it. It may be ‘pinpricks’ to Russell Brand but he could say the same thing about rape. If Israely instantly bombs where the rockets come from they would likely hit a school or a home and the terrorists are a short distance away (most likely) or quickly move the small launchers. When it continues like this, it’s not unreasonable to call it an act of war and we know what the response to an act of war has to be.”

Then Woz got into the philosophical – good technology versus bad technology. This is where my favorite quote came from.

Thank you Mr. Wozniak for your clear-sightedness and for your support of Israel. What a shame you can’t give some lessons in clear thinking to world leaders and the UN.

Apologies for the short posting this week but I’m posting from my short summer holiday in the north (not near the border!).

Wishing you all a quiet and safe weekend and Shabbat Shalom!

Posted in International relations, Israel news, Technology | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

A reporter’s inside story about the disproportionate focus on Israel

Media bias at its finest

If you read nothing else about the war, aka Operation Protective Edge, read this article. Matti Friedman, a former AP correspondent, explains how he and his colleagues got Israel so wrong in this seminal article “An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth“.  It also talks about the disproportionate focus on Israel (which I have written about many times previously) and ties in with two further articles below.

I could quote the whole article but I won’t. It’s pretty long, especially for an online article, but every word is important. Here’s a short excerpt. Go and read it all:

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.

You don’t need to be a history professor, or a psychiatrist, to understand what’s going on. Having rehabilitated themselves against considerable odds in a minute corner of the earth, the descendants of powerless people who were pushed out of Europe and the Islamic Middle East have become what their grandparents were—the pool into which the world spits. The Jews of Israel are the screen onto which it has become socially acceptable to project the things you hate about yourself and your own country. The tool through which this psychological projection is executed is the international press.

Israel is not an idea, a symbol of good or evil, or a litmus test for liberal opinion at dinner parties. It is a small country in a scary part of the world that is getting scarier. It should be reported as critically as any other place, and understood in context and in proportion. Israel is not one of the most important stories in the world, or even in the Middle East; whatever the outcome in this region in the next decade, it will have as much to do with Israel as World War II had to do with Spain. Israel is a speck on the map—a sideshow that happens to carry an unusual emotional charge.

Many in the West clearly prefer the old comfort of parsing the moral failings of Jews, and the familiar feeling of superiority this brings them, to confronting an unhappy and confusing reality. They may convince themselves that all of this is the Jews’ problem, and indeed the Jews’ fault. But journalists engage in these fantasies at the cost of their credibility and that of their profession. And, as Orwell would tell us, the world entertains fantasies at its peril.

This is just a fraction of the article. Go and Read. It. All.

I had planned to leave this post with just the above article linked. But earlier today I came across the following post (via Twitter) from Richard Mather’s blog Defense of the Israeli People (it looks like an excellent blog to follow).  His post, entitled Israelophobia, demonstrates in a nutshell what Matti Friedman was writing about:

I recently came across a rather strange letter from a man called Philip Sandland. The letter was sent to a parochial English newspaper called The Sentinel, which usually deals with minor concerns like the local cricket scores and the quality of care in the local hospital. Here it is:

“MAY I be allowed to say a few words in answer to Margaret Browns letter on June 19? She says that Sunni and Shia Muslims have been fighting for more than 1,000 years. This is only partly true. When strong leaders such as President Assad or Saddam Hussein were in control, peace usually was the norm – minorities like Christians and Druze were left pretty much in peace. I believe that the fly in the ointment is Israel. The West has allowed the Zionist Jews to establish a state in Palestine, which enraged much of the Muslim world, and this is understandably so! How would the average British citizen feel to be thrown out of his rightful home and sent packing? The violent attacks by certain Muslims on Western targets is I believe due to a servile approach by the U.S. and sadly Great Britain to the misdeeds of the Israeli state, which invariably go unchallenged.”

There are many things that I could say about this letter and none of them would be complimentary.

This letter is a typical indication of the level of political discourse in Britain. And it is also typical of a highly unpleasant mental condition called Israelophobia, which is quite simply a political variant of anti-Semitism. Israelophobia, like anti-Semitism in general, is a mental illness, quite possibly a neurosis or morbid fear, although it some cases it takes on the characteristics of psychosis – paranoia, delusions, denial and the loss of contact with reality. I’m only half joking.

Whether it is neurotic or psychotic, Israelophobia can be defined as the hysterical, spiteful, hyperbolic and irrational fear or hatred of Israel. The unhealthy fixation with the State of Israel and Zionism is sometimes referred to as the “new anti-Semitism.” The “new anti-Semites” have merely substituted the word “Jew” with the word “Israel.”

As with all irrational prejudices, Israelophobia is intolerant and obsessional. The fact that Israelophobia attracts people from across the ideological, cultural and political divide is a good indication that it is unreasonable and confused.

In any other circumstance you would be hard pressed to find a situation in which Islamists, neo-Nazis, socialists, liberals, radical Islamists, Quakers and people who believe in shape-shifting aliens agree on anything. But when it comes to Israel and “the Jews,” all these factions share the same demented prejudice. Moreover, the disproportionate focus on Israel by the UN, the media and university campuses clearly indicate that Israelophobia is an obsession. And an obsession is a neurosis.

Sadly, Israel-bashers are completely immune to facts and statistics.

Why? It is because Israelophobes are anti-Semitic. They are not anti-Semitic because of Israel’s perceived wrong-doings. They are Israelophobes because they hate Jews. In short, Israelophobia is a symptom of anti-Semitism and not the other way round. In fact, I would go far as to argue that Israel-bashers do not want a political solution in the Middle East because that would remove their excuse to demonize the Jewish people.

In the end, there is no reasoning with these people because they don’t want to be reasoned with. Such people persistently deny they have a problem by refusing to admit they are anti-Semitic. But denial is just another sign of their madness. If these people weren’t so dangerous, I would pity them.

As above, read it all.

And a final article (there are so many out there, it’s surprising Israel doesn’t get better press) is from Abu Yehuda (previously Fresno Zionism) who writes “We can’t satisfy the world so let’s stop trying“:

Tzipi Livni, Israel’s Justice Minister and the one who more or less carries the flag of the Left in the government, was quoted today saying something like “we need to end this soon, or the world will get tired of the violence and end it in a way that will not be good for Israel” (sorry, I don’t have the exact quote, but this is close).

Why do I mention this? Because it illustrates a certain mindset that we need to leave behind.

The fact is that “the world” will always find some way that Israel doesn’t measure up to the ideal moral standard that it has set up for us, and if we make heroic efforts to do so, then it will move the goalposts.

The problem is that Jew-hatred is a characteristic of the hater, not the Jew. A Jew can’t ameliorate it by changing in any way, which is why trying to do so is so frustrating. What a Jew can and should do in the face of Jew-hatred is defend himself. This is both practically and psychologically beneficial to the Jew, and may even act to reduce Jew-hatred.

What is true of the individual Jew is also true of Israel, the Jew among nations. The IDF can go to even greater extremes to protect civilian residents of Gaza, but it will never go far enough to satisfy “the world,” which is insatiable for Jewish self-abnegation.

Israel’s primary responsibility is to protect its citizens against attack. It does not need to try to gain approval by living up to fanciful standards that no other nation has ever met. Today we need to continue the war in Gaza until Hamas has been completely neutralized as a military force, and effective arrangements can be made to keep it that way.

There’s much more in the article. Again, go and read it all.

None of these articles will make us feel any better but they will help us explain that nothing we do short of national suicide – and maybe not even then – will persuade the Israelophobes (what a brilliant neologism) that we are “good” or worth letting us live. So we have to learn to ignore them and get on with doing what we do best – living, growing, flourishing, building.

But how do we convince our government?

Posted in Antisemitism, Defence and Military, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Media and journalism | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Yet another ceasefire: Einstein’s definition of insanity

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. — Albert Einstein

Ceasefire, as seen by Hamas (via A.F. Branco at Legal Insurrection)

Never before have I seen so many glum faces at a wedding – and not because anyone disapproved of the match. On the contrary, the wedding was beautiful and elegant and very joyous. But as we were leaving the house we caught the news that a ceasefire had been declared - yet again – between Israel and the Hamas terrorists.

In a “normal” war situation, the civilians of a country under fire would be delighted at the news of a ceasefire. But we are not a normal country, our situation is not normal and our enemy is most definitely not normal. In fact they are the most immoral and cruel enemy one could never wish to have this side of ISIS, and they are backed by the same sponsors as ISIS and have similar aims.

We wedding guests were not the only ones opposed to the ceasefire. There was opposition to the ceasefire across entire political spectrum:

Murmurs of dissatisfaction rose from the political Left and Right Tuesday night, after Israel agreed to a ceasefire with Hamas.

Meanwhile, Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yellin indicated that he does not trust the truce will last, saying residents of his constituency who evacuated should not return to their homes.

“It doesn’t interest me what the government or Hamas say. I will only call on residents to return when I feel like there’s a real ceasefire,” Yellin told Channel 10 News.

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.”

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.

On the Left, lawmakers called for the government to take initiative and launch diplomatic negotiations.

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said “this cease-fire comes too late, and its conditions prove, finally, that Operation Protective Edge is [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu’s strategic failure, as he went to war without goals and finished [it] letting Hamas gain on the backs of residents of the South.”

Gal-On also posited that the suffering residents of the South underwent in recent weeks came without any long-term planning by an “irresponsible” government.

MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) said a cease-fire is a positive thing, but it must come with “active and courageous initiative toward a diplomatic agreement.”

“We lost our best sons in this war and we cannot accept bloody rounds [of fighting] as necessary,” she said. “A historic axis of moderates was created in the Middle East, with Arab powers that share interests with Israel, and we cannot miss this opportunity.”

Like Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), Yacimovich called for an international summit to bring a peace treaty with the Palestinians.

An international summit is the last thing we need! It will be hardly better than the UN’s biased “Commission of Inquiry into Israeli war crimes” (or whatever pseudo-title it’s been given), it would be loaded with anti-Israel members and would seek to impose a one-sided solution on Israel.  Thanks but no thanks.

So what the hell was Bibi thinking when he accepted an open-ended ceasefire?  Especially as this undemocratic-but-legal decision of his has led to his popularity drop in a free-fall.

In the first week of Operation Protective Edge at the beginning of July, 57% of Israelis were satisfied with Netanyahu, according to a Channel 2 poll taken by Shiluv Millward Brown Market Research. It rose to 82% on July 23, after ground forces entered the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu came back down to earth Monday night when data showed that 50% of Israelis were dissatisfied with him and just 38% satisfied – a 17% drop since a poll broadcast Thursday night.

I am at a loss to explain his decision.

Let’s first have a look at the parameters of the ceasefire:


* Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza agree to halt all rocket and mortar fire into Israel.

* Israel will stop all military action including air strikes and ground operations.

* Israel agrees to open more of its border crossings with Gaza to allow the easier flow of goods, including humanitarian aid and reconstruction equipment, into the coastal enclave.

* In a separate, bilateral agreement, Egypt will agree to open its 14 km (8 mile) border with Gaza at Rafah.

* The Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, is expected to take over responsibility for administering Gaza’s borders from Hamas. Israel and Egypt hope it will ensure weapons, ammunition and any “dual-use” goods are prevented from flowing into Gaza.

* The Palestinian Authority will lead in coordinating the reconstruction effort in Gaza with international donors, including the European Union.

* Israel is expected to narrow the security buffer along the inside of the Gaza border, reducing it from 300 metres to 100 meters if the truce holds. The move will allow Palestinians more access to farm land close to the border.

* Israel will extend the fishing limit off Gaza’s coast to six miles from three miles, with the possibility of widening it gradually if the truce holds. Ultimately, the Palestinians want to return to a full 12-mile international allowance.

Longer-term issues to be discussed are a Gaza sea-port, more prisoner releases, the return of the bodies of the two abducted IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin HY’D, and a Gaza airport.

Demonstrating the viciousness and venom of our enemy, they continued pounding the south with mortar and rocket fire until the very last second – and beyond. And in the last barrage two more Israeli civilians were killed in Kibbutz Nirim:

Two Israelis died Tuesday evening in a mortar attack on Kibbutz Nirim, near the border with the Gaza Strip, and four others were wounded.

One person was in serious condition, and three others suffered minor injuries, in the strike on the Eshkol region community.

Kibbutz Nirim security chief Zeev Etzion HY’D (screen capture: Channel 2)

Fifty-five year-old Ze’ev Etzion, the security chief for the kibbutz, was killed on the spot as he worked to fix electricity lines damaged in an earlier mortar attack. Israel Radio reported that he was also a volunteer ambulance driver for Magen David Adom.

Nirim resident Shahar Melamed, a 43-year-old father of 3, died on his way to the hospital.

Nirim resident and kibbutz mechanic Shachar Melamed HY’D, killed by Hamas mortar attack

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

Medical care was given to the wounded as rockets and mortars fell around the kibbutz and Code Red sirens wailed.

The two Israelis killed Tuesday raised the civilian death toll in Israel in Operation Protective Edge, which entered its fiftieth day Tuesday, to six.

Last week a four-year-old child was killed in an attack in the nearby Kibbutz Nahal Oz.

The Nirim attack came amid a fierce bombardment of the towns and communities of southern Israel in the hour before a ceasefire agreed upon by Israeli and Palestinian representatives took effect.

Earlier in the day, dozens were injured in Ashkelon when a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck a house in the southern coastal city.

This is what that house in Ashkelon looked like after the rocket hit it:

Objection to the ceasefire came not only from the political classes but from media commentators too. Nachum Barnea called the ceasefire “too little, too late“:

Israel Prize winner Nahum Barnea writes in Yedioth Ahronoth that the ceasefire is “Too little, too late.”

“Not every ending is a happy ending,” he writes. “The fear is that instead of paving the way for the Gaza threat to be lifted, we are paving the way for the next round, from Lebanon or Gaza. But this is what our government produced for us, and we must live with it.”

Barnea, who lost a son in a 1996 Hamas bus bombing, says that Israel discovered a few unpleasant truths during the fighting. One, Israel couldn’t defeat a small, isolated terrorist organization. Two, even limited conflicts demand a price Israelis are reluctant to pay. Three, the army ran the fighting, not the government.

The clearest objection though comes from a different angle, reflecting my own opinion, in Arlene Kushner’s excellent analysis “Worse and Worser“:

The truth: There is no entirely satisfactory resolution to our war with Hamas (the war that is not called a war).

Aside, of course, from that “ultimate” resolution in which we would fully retake Gaza and banish all terrorists and jihadis – thereby creating a peaceful situation in Gaza and a situation of deterrence with regard to terrorists in other locales – and then rebuild Gush Katif, helping the former residents to return.

But I also know that this vision is not about to be realized. There are a variety of factors that are arrayed against us and render this scenario severely problematic. I’ve covered them before:

  • The fact of the network of tunnels means we would pay a large price in the lives of our young soldiers – a price that would be difficult for the nation to bear.  …
  • The expense of this war, which would be prolonged, and of then assuming responsibility for the Arabs in Gaza who would remain would create a tremendous fiscal drain on the nation that many would consider unacceptable.
  • As soon as Hamas and related jihadi groups were banished, there would be an incredible international push for Abbas and his “moderate” cohorts to control Gaza as a step towards a Palestinian state.  (More on this below.)  There are a host of international problems associated with this.
  • Perhaps most significantly, the drain on our military resources might render us ill-equipped to do battle with Hezbollah in Lebanon and radicals in Syria who are at our border in the Golan, should this become necessary.  [...]  But what if, while we were in the course of fighting that extended war in Gaza, Hezbollah decided that it would be a great time to attack us from the northern front?  [...]  And here I didn’t even mention Iran.

And so we must resign ourselves to something less.

From my perspective there had to be certain parameters to any resolution: Hamas should not be rewarded for its attack on Israel.  It should not receive something as enticement to get it to stop firing upon us.  It should be sufficiently vanquished so that it would petition us for a respite.  (“Sufficiently vanquished” does not mean finally defeated.)

Most importantly, Israel must (now I use that word) convey strength.  And Hamas must be prevented from re-arming (leave aside the question of whether it would have to  surrender the rockets it currently has).

In a nutshell now: The ceasefire, accepted also by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, is for a month.  At the end of the month, negotiations would begin on the demands of each side: from our side, demilitarization of Hamas; from the Hamas side, lifting of the blockade of Gaza, building of a seaport and airport, release of prisoners, etc.

This ceasefire, then, is another temporary one, albeit for a longer period of time.  It is not permanent, and in point of fact is likely to fall apart once the difficult issues are approached.  What would happen then is that Hamas – which would have had a month to regroup and manufacture more rockets – would begin to launch rockets again.  And where does a month leave us? Right at the time of our High Holidays.

Oh great.

At this time, the restrictions for Gaza fishermen will be relaxed, with the limit being extended to six nautical miles. And apparently two crossings will be opened under Israeli supervision to allow in humanitarian supplies and building supplies for reconstruction.  (What kind of materials?)  It is entirely unclear what sort of supervision there would be inside of Gaza to make certain that the materials were used appropriately or who would oversee the reconstruction.  What would UNRWA’s role be?

A statement was made recently by a representative of the EU, who said that the EU wanted to be involved.  How? They would supervise the PA to be sure it was doing the job it was supposed to do at the crossings. That’s reassuring, is it not?

Arlene returns to the role played by the PA, and possible US influence over Netanyahu’s decision:

One source I encountered now said that in a month Israel would resume negotiations with the PA. That this was going to be pushed on us is no surprise, but I believe this is still a projection for down the road – not a statement of Israel’s commitment at present.

I think of everything I find this prospect most offensive.  Abbas is the good buddy of Hamas’s Mashaal.  Representatives of Fatah sat at the negotiations during ceasefires with Hamas, and spoke for Hamas.  Abbas has never renounced the “unity government.”  Yet we are supposed to consider the PA “moderate,” a partner for peace.  This is the sort of stuff that drives me to consider running my head into the wall.

Retired US general John Allen came to town last night to meet with Israeli officials regarding the renewal of peace talks after there is a ceasefire.

Who knows what message Allen conveyed from Obama to Netanyahu and how this played into Netanyahu’s decision to accept the ceasefire proposal.

Gen. Allen was the one who came here to design a “security plan” for the Jordan Valley that was supposed to advance our negotiations with the PA some months ago; Israel rejected his ideas.

The ceasefire will be debated to death in Israel for days and weeks to come. But how did Hamas “celebrate” their glorious victory?

Like this:

David Horovitz in another perceptive column says we should not dismiss Hamas’s “victory celebrations” so quickly:

Hamas has breached truce agreement after truce agreement in the past 50 days, and there is no compelling reason to assume that this case will be any different. Unnamed sources in the Palestinian negotiating delegation — a curious forum comprising rival factions including Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad — claimed Tuesday night that Hamas’s leadership in Gaza insisted on accepting the same unconditional Egyptian terms that it rejected more than a month ago, and sidelined the Qatar-based Khaled Mashaal, who had previously rejected such terms. Some say that the sight of the Israeli Air Force moving to smash the apartment buildings in which Israel claims it had some of its command centers finally prompted Hamas in Gaza to call a halt. Time will tell if a terror government’s solemn assurance that it has silenced its guns has any credibility.

Entirely predictably, Hamas immediately busied itself extricating what it called success from amid the devastation it has brought down upon Gaza these past seven weeks. It fired over 4,500 rockets at Israel. It killed 64 soldiers and five civilians. It prompted several dozen airlines to shun Israel for two days last month. It terrorized southern Israel, especially in more recent weeks, when it stepped up its mortar fire and rocket barrages on the south. It killed four-year-old Daniel Tragerman inside his own home on Kibbutz Nahal Oz. For an organization committed to the destruction of Israel, these are achievements to celebrate.

By emplacing its war machine in the very heart of Gaza, it also condemned hundreds of thousands of people — the Gazans in whose interests it falsely claims to have fought — to homelessness, dire poverty, and the bleakest of futures. But for Hamas, these too are achievements. Extremism flourishes amid bitterness. Islamic radicals find willing recruits where hope of a better future is in short supply. Thus Hamas expects to profit, too, from the destruction wrought as Israel targeted all those rocket launchers and terror tunnel entrances sited in the homes, mosques and schools of the Gaza Strip. And it can also celebrate the staining of Israel’s reputation in those wide international circles where the evil, cynical nature of Hamas’s war strategy is misunderstood or ignored.

A slightly more positive note is taken by Yossi Melman at the Jerusalem Post, whose analysis tells us how Israel made Hamas crawl to a ceasefire:

Hamas was forced to accept Egyptian and Israeli dictates.

Hamas crawled to the cease-fire. One should not be impressed by the well-organized victory festivities in Gaza. Most of Hamas’s demands and preconditions were rejected from the outset.

The cease-fire is unlimited in time and Hamas was not promised anything except that which had been offered at the start of the military campaign.

Full of itself and arrogant, it miscalculated. If Hamas had not rejected the offers, Israel would not have launched a ground incursion. Hamas’s 32 attacking tunnels would not have been destroyed. Its rockets and mortar shells wouldn’t be reduced to a residual arsenal of 20 percent – from 10,000 to approximately 2,000.

And most importantly, parts of Gaza wouldn’t have been destroyed.

Unfortunately, Gaza has been set back decades. More than 5,000 houses were destroyed. Thousands were damaged and on the verge of collapse. Gaza has been suffering water and electricity shortages.

Three hundred thousand residents – 15% of its population – turned into homeless refugees within the boundaries of the small enclave, which was already mostly one big refugee camp.

Anger, despair and frustration are ruling the day in Gaza.

Surely people will not go to protest in the streets. Hamas has established a reign of fear and terror. The massive public executions during the war, and in particular last week, of alleged traitors were not aimed at unveiling and disrupting Israeli intelligence operations, rather to send a clear message to the Gazans: We are Hamas and we are here to stay. Don’t dare revolt against us.

But the locals have a long memory. They will remember who brought them the calamity.

n a sense, the Gaza war is reminiscent of what happened during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Hezbollah was defeated. Its secretary-general admitted it in public. But then he heard Israeli defense commentators who criticized the war’s conduct by then prime minister Ehud Olmert’s government and regained his self-confidence. Hassan Nasrallah told himself that if stupid Israel thought that it was defeated, so let it – and declared his false victory.

Eight years later, it is quite clear that war brought Israel significant gains at the strategic level. Northern Israel has enjoyed peace and tranquility.

The bottom line is that Hamas failed to reach its strategic goals. Israel showed determination and except some marginal manifestations, the Israeli home front was stubborn and did not break down.

The real index with which to check Israel’s gains is against the war’s declared aims. The leading trio – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz – who have shown reason and self restraint in order to avoid more casualties, were determined not to surrender to populist voices, including from their cabinet colleagues who pulled out long knives to stab them in the back and demanded to “smash Hamas.”

Netanyahu, Ya’alon and Gantz decided neither to occupy Gaza nor topple the Hamas regime.

Having said all that, much depends on the cease-fire being honored.

I like the optimism in Melman’s article but my true feelings, or maybe suspicions, are more along the lines of Arlene Kushner and David Horovitz.

If Israel does not project strength, or is perceived to have lost the war or only lost international standing, then even if technically we have won the war as Melman says, not only Hamas, but Hezbollah and ISIS will learn their lessons and repeat the exercise.

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Victory over Hamas will come when our leaders care more for our children than for the enemy’s

The picture below sums up the entire absurd situation in which we find ourselves, where the IDF takes extra-special care not to harm the enemy’s civilians, but that “special care” in fact endangers our own civilians, not to mention our soldiers.

The caption in the photo is a paraphrase of Golda Meir’s famous quote:

“We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

The caption in the photo says:

We can beat terror only when our Government will love our children more than they care about what the world says.

It is becoming obvious to any Israel-watcher that this is indeed the case.Why else has our pusillanimous government not carpet bombed the border area from which those deadly mortars are being launched, one of which killed little Daniel Tragerman on Friday, and a few of which injured several Israelis yesterday, and all of which have caused all the kibbutzim and moshavim along the Israeli side of the Gaza border to empty out completely.

Hundreds of Israelis left their homes along the border with the Gaza Strip on Monday, reflecting growing frustration over the war with Hamas and the Palestinian mortar fire raining down on their communities. Tens of thousands of Israelis have fled the area in nearly two months of fighting, which has turned the communities into virtual ghost towns.

With the school year fast approaching, the government began offering assistance to residents Monday in the first large-scale voluntary evacuation in nearly eight weeks of fighting.

Officials estimate that 70 percent of the 40,000 inhabitants of the farming communities along the Gaza border have left over the course of the fighting, including hundreds on Monday. Some went to stay with relatives and friends, while others are staying at hostels or were taken in by strangers who want to help fellow Israelis.

Fields that once yielded vegetables and flowers are barren and pockmarked by Palestinian mortar shells. Streets are empty and most homes eerily silent.

The government this week offered to help anxious Israelis close to the war zone leave their homes, the first time it has sponsored a large-scale evacuation.

“It is their right to leave, and we will assist them with temporary solutions,” Finance Minister Yair Lapid said in a TV interview

He’s darn right that it’s their right to leave. In fact it is their obligation to leave, to protect their own lives and the lives of their children. But it is the government’s obligation – not just a right – to act in order to protect their own citizens, not the enemy’s.  It is the government’s obligation to act to bring about a situation where our civilians can return home in peace and safety, and not have to abandon the territory.

Don’t think that the Palestinian Authority and Hezbollah are not watching and learning from Hamas’s victory. Why else are Lebanese terrorists now waking up and shooting rockets into northern Israel? They’re reckoning what worked for Hamas will work for Hezbollah. And soon enough it will work in Hebron and Jerusalem too if the government doesn’t act forcefully and quickly.

And don’t think too that Israel will earn the world’s esteem and admiration for taking so much care about Gaza’s civilians. Whatever we do, we are accused of genocide, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, baby-killing, land-theft,  and more (and probably the Icelandic volcano too. We just have to wait for it to erupt…). So if we’re going to be accused of the crime…

I’m not suggesting we go out and commit mass murder of Gaza civilians. On the contrary. We should carry on giving them warning of impending attacks. But then we should attack – not hold off because there might still be a civilian present, whether voluntarily or human shield. International law does not demand that of us, and we don’t need to be holier than the US and NATO in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan.

Confirming our suspicions that the government is more worried about world opinion or some specious version of morality, in which the enemy’s civilians are more precious and more necessary to save than our own civilians, watch this shocking video from Channel 10 news (h/t Naomi Ragen’s email list):

The English translation:

Published on 25 Aug 2014

Channel 10 reporter reveals that the IDF has advised the residents of Nahal Oz that

the five mortar launchers that have been the source of deadly mortar fire since the start of the operation include 3 that have not been destroyed by the IDF because they are located next to school where Gazans have taken refuge and the other two are located next to houses whose occupants the IDF hasn’t yet managed to get in touch with in order to request that they leave. As a result, these mortars have been firing at Nahal Oz for 49 days.

This morning we learn that the IDF finally bombed the school from which the lethal mortar was launched on Friday. But if the school had been bombed earlier, along that whole swathe from where the mortars were being launched, Daniel Tragerman might very well have been alive today.

Victory over Hamas anyone? You’ve got to be joking!

And if Netanyahu thinks he’s going to earn brownie points where it really counts – in the Israeli ballot box – he’s much mistaken. His popularity, which had been soaring in the high 80s or more during Operation Protective Edge, has now plummeted to 38% because of his poor handling of the aftermath (or continuation) of the war.

Posted in Defence and Military, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Media Intifada – looking at the media’s anti-Israel bias

As regular readers of this blog know well, media bias is a “favourite” bugbear of mine. The outrageous injustice and unfairness of the mainstream media’s bias against Israel, expressed in tendentious stories, slanted reports, manipulation of facts and statistics, and – yes – even outright lies, is not only a problem for Israel’s image. It becomes literally a life and death issue for Israelis and Jews everywhere when the slanted reports lead to public outrage, violent anti-Israel and antisemitic demonstrations, which then persuade governments to impose sanctions, embargoes and boycotts on Israel.  We have seen all these outcomes in recent weeks, from the demonstrations and pogroms to the UK’s review of arms exports to Israel to the US’s review of missile transfers to Israel to the UN’s perpetual slamming and condemnations of Israel in every forum.

Following are a couple of excellent articles on the subject which were published last week.

The first (from which I borrowed the title) is “The Media Intifada: Bad Math, Ugly Truths About New York Times In Israel-Hamas War” by Richard Behar in Forbes Magazine. The article is very long but really worth-while reading through to the end (but take your blood pressure pills first!). Here are some excerpts:

It’s a “media intifada,” notes Gary Weiss, an old colleague and one of the world’s top business investigative reporters. He is referring of course to the ongoing war in Gaza, where journalists working for American news outlets have, he says, “become part of the Hamas war machine.”

“Brotherhood” – By A.F. Branco at Legal Insurrection

As more than a month has passed since Israel began its Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, it’s high time to dig through the carnage that many of my colleagues from major U.S. media outlets are leaving behind—especially the New York Times.

On August 11th, the normally Israel-averse Foreign Press Association in Israel conceded what those closely following the war coverage already knew: That Hamas has been intimidating foreign reporters. In a harsh statement, it condemned the terrorist group for “the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month.”

This is hardly surprising, as who can expect a terrorist group to treat reporters nicely—except perhaps many reporters themselves? But what is surprising is that New York Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren undermined her own newspaper—quickly denouncing the FPA’s statement. She said in a tweet that she wasn’t aware of any such harassed reporters, even though she concedes she spent only one week in Gaza herself during the height of the conflict. In an email to the FPA, she said that the FPA’s statement could be “dangerous” to the “credibility” of the foreign press who are covering the conflict. “Every reporter I’ve met who was in Gaza during war says this Israeli/now FPA narrative of Hamas harassment is nonsense,” she tweeted.   [Boldface type hers.]

Among other things, I’ve discovered that the Times’ most important reporter in Gaza for the past few years has used the late Yasser Arafat as his profile photo on Facebook, and, in a second photo, praised the former Palestinian leader. This suggests that the Times may have less to worry about in terms of Hamas intimidation than others in the press corps. Indeed, this Times reporter’s parallel pieces for Qatar’s Al Jazeera since the war began can only be pleasing to the terrorists.

Journalism ethics professors and historians take note: You are bearing witness, with few exceptions, to some of the most abysmal overseas reporting since Hearst’s New York Journal in 1898 got us into the Spanish-American War and Walter Duranty of the New York Times was ignoring Stalin’s crimes in the 1930s. “We’re not just talking bad journalism,” says Weiss. “We’re talking about journalism that functions as a tool of a terrorist organization, Hamas: breathlessly pushing its narrative, whether cowed by its threats, sympathetic to its cause, or simply ignorant.”

I raised the topic last week with Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York. “As someone who is a student of the media and a former journalist,” he says, “I find it bizarre — journalistically and morally – that after a month of intense fighting between Israel and Hamas, there were hardly any images shown in Western media of Hamas terrorists holding guns or Hamas terrorists engaged in hostile activities against Israel. It’s as if there’s only one side, and this could be a result of two reasons: Either journalists are looking for the easy story, the available story, what’s in front of their eyes. Or they’re being intimidated by Hamas. And I believe that what we’ve probably had is a combination of both.”

This epidemic of journalistic malpractice is contributing to the pain and loss of life that Palestinians in Gaza are suffering—as it helps to empower Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., the EU, Canada, Japan, Egypt and Jordan. (This designation is too often not-fit-to-print by the New York Times and other media outlets.) In turn, this no doubt helps spread oil on the rising and frightening anti-Semitism we’re seeing in Europe and elsewhere.

Behar goes on to list numerous examples of the New York Times’, Al Jazeera’s, and the UK media’s slanted, not to say inaccurate, reporting.

Although by then I knew the answer, on August 3rd I asked Kobi Michael (the former Israeli strategic-affairs official) if he believes that Western reporters were seeing civilian centers—mosques, schools, hospitals—being used as shields, but not reporting it. “Are you kidding me?” he responded. “Do you have any doubt about it? It is a question of life or death most times, and biased journalists who don’t care about truth, motivated by hatred to Israel and sympathy to Hamas in other cases. In other cases, there are journalists who are looking for the touching story, for the title, for the excitement and—in these cases—the more the scenes are horrible and bloody the better.”

So what’s an American reader or viewer to conclude about all this? Perhaps to amp-up your satellite dish, and quickly learn a few foreign languages, if you want to closely follow this war.

There is so much more in this article, with detailed examples of every kind of bias from multiple international media sources.  Just two more quotes from an article that I wish I could quote in full:

One thing I wish the Times had deemed worthy of sharing with its readers is an electrifying speech delivered by Florida Senator Marco Rubio on the Senate floor in late July.

“Please don’t tell me that this was caused by Israel,” Rubio implored a Palestinian official in Washington who had sent him a blistering letter. “In my time here in the Senate, I’ve had the opportunity to visit multiple countries. I have never met a people more desirous of peace than the people in Israel. But peace cannot mean your destruction. And that’s what they’re facing here… They [Hamas] are willing to sacrifice their own people to win a PR war. And I think it is absolutely outrageous that some in the press corps domestically, and most of the press corps internationally, is falling for this game. So please don’t tell me that both sides are to blame here.”

And the second, following on directly from the above:

Comedian and political commentator Bill Maher has noted the absurdity of constantly blaming Israel for its efforts to exist.  ”What I find so ironic is that after World War II, everybody said, ‘I don’t understand the Jews. How could they have just gone to their slaughter like that?’” he told the Los Angeles-based Jewish Journal in 2012. “OK, and then when they fight back: ‘I don’t understand the Jews. Why can’t they just go to their slaughter?’ It’s like, ‘You know what? We did that once. It’s not gonna happen again. You’re just gonna have to get used to the fact that Jews now defend themselves…”

Read the whole thing. And weep.

An article on a similar theme appeared in the Washington Post by Richard Cohen – “Israel is held to an impossible standard“, in which he discusses the way Israel is demonised by expecting it to adhere to standards not applied to any other Western country, not to mention Third World countries. Some excerpts:

Israel was created by defeating five Arab nations and won three subsequent wars. Soon, extraordinary feats seemed ordinary.

In 1960, Israeli agents seized Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and brought him to Israel to stand trial.

n 1976, Israeli commandos flew 2,500 miles to Uganda to rescue 102 Israelis and other Jews taken off a hijacked airplane. Five Israeli commandos were wounded and the unit’s commander, Lt. Col. Jonathan Netanyahu, was killed. He was the current prime minister’s older brother.

Years ago, when Israel was fighting in Lebanon, I was shown aerial photos of a Beirut street that were so clear the license plates of parked cars could be read and matched with motor vehicle records. Israel knew who lived where.

All these impressive technological feats, all this bravery and derring-do, suggest a kind of perfection. They suggest, further, that what seems like war crimes must indeed be war crimes because Israel does not make mistakes.

Not only is this hardly true — a list of operations botched by the Mossad could fill the rest of this column — but it also veers into a kind of anti-Semitism. If the bombing of a school or hospital is not a mistake, then it must have been on purpose: Israel is the cold-hearted killer of children.

This is the gravamen of a column in the Independent, a British newspaper. The author is Mark Steel and, in a Swiftian sort of way, he calls Israel “the child murdering community.”

I am not sure if Steel’s column is an example of philo-Semitism — excessive admiration of Jews — or anti-Semitism, whose excesses run the other way. I see it as the latter. It assumes a maniacal willingness to kill children either on purpose or because they are in the way — collateral damage, as it is sometimes called. It gives mocking recognition to all the precautions Israel takes to avoid such casualties.

It is not a child-murdering community, although Syria, next door, most certainly is. I await Steel’s clever column on the Bashar al-Assad regime’s purposeful gassing of civilians, including children.

Richard Cohen could have written a similar article about any number of British – or American, French, German and Spanish – reporters.  Their bias, their smugness, their self-righteous moral superiority at Israel’s presumed crimes are sickening.

Interestingly, anti-Western extreme liberal attitudes represented by the anti-Israel media bias is coming to back to bite the West on their tuchus. The wonderful Douglas Murray writes in the Gatestone Institute about ISIS which, according to prevailing attitudes in the chatterati of Britain is “Just a Bit More Beheading than we are used to“:

Who is surprised? That is one question I have most wanted to know since the video was released of the murder of American journalist James Foley. The politicians keep expressing it. And interviewers have kept asking people whether they feel it. But who can honestly say that he was surprised to learn that the murderer of the American journalist turned out to be a “British” man?

American journalist James Foley (left) is shown kneeling beside the British jihadist who murdered him moments later (Image source: Islamic State video)

Did anyone really still think that a British Islamist would not be capable of doing this? Why wouldn’t he do it in Iraq or Syria if his allies had already done it in London? After all, it was only last year that two other Islamists beheaded one of our own soldiers – Drummer Lee Rigby – in broad daylight in London. And it is only twelve years since another Londoner – Omar Sheikh – arranged the abduction and decapitation of another American journalist, Daniel Pearl.

The question, as written here before, is not how sorry any one political leader feels about such savagery, but what they are going to do about it.

Atrocity after atrocity is perpetrated by Muslims radicalized in the UK, and the debate over what to do about it remains bizarrely circumscribed and ineffectual. Surely somewhere in the conversation and response should be the expression of a desire for a strategy against ISIS which has at its base the utter eradication of the group — wholesale battlefield victory against them, killing their members and leadership in their entirety. Would that not be a desirable objective? I have yet to hear a mainstream politician suggest this or even talk in these terms. Indeed, there has been debate in the UK press suggesting we should hope that some of these ISIS killers come back to Britain, realize that jihad was all a phase and then head off to university for the start of a new term.

Even more concerning was a young woman from Nottingham who spent as much time as possible talking about the “alienation” and “rejection” which a lot of young Muslims feel. It was repeatedly pointed out to her that there isn’t a young person of any religion or background who does not feel alienation at some point. The vital question then, is not just whether such a sense of grievance is justified, but whether there are people seeking to manipulate and then play into such grievances and what extremes some individuals might urge vulnerable minds to as a result. A snapshot of my fellow guest’s own thinking was available in her own condemnation of the murder. The beheading of James Foley was terrible, she stressed, because among other things “we don’t know what [his] views were.”

Here again a little peep-hole into a mainstream and radical world view becomes possible. What if James Foley had not been — as he appears to have been — a man with a deep desire to bring out the terrible stories and sufferings of the region, but someone who was ambivalent to them? What if he had been the most pro-intervention bomb-them-all-to-hell right-winger? Or a member of the Republican Party? What if he had been a Zionist? Or a Jew?

There are poisonous attitudes and lies going around unmolested in this country. And they are one of the causes of the repeated international shame that is coming down upon us. These ideas — hatred and suspicion of the actions of Britain, America, Israel and our other liberal, democratic allies — act as the background music to radicalization. This music plays to exactly the sort of people who are going out to fight with ISIS and exactly the sort of people who think that although they might condemn a beheading in this circumstance, it isn’t always a cut-and-dry issue.

As Murray is essentially saying, what goes around comes around. What starts with the Jews – antisemitic and/or anti-Israel bias – comes back to haunt the West with extreme Muslim radicalization, finally ending up with the horror of ISIS and the West’s squirming with the realization that they are going to have to deal with it.  That is going to take the kind of violence which will make Israel’s conflict with Hamas look like child’s play.

If it weren’t such a terribly dangerous situation I would be sitting back to enjoy my cup of schadenfreude with my morning coffee.

Posted in Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Media and journalism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Gaza war update: 4 year old Israeli boy killed by mortar, several Israeli civilians injured

With all the fanfare about Hamas’s missiles and rockets it’s easy to overlook the danger of mortars, which seem to be little more than glorified stones – until they hit someone.  In fact as many soldiers were injured or killed by mortar fire as they were by explosions within Gaza, and all the civilians killed so far have been victims of mortars.

Daniel Tragerman HY”D, 4 years old, killed by Hamas mortar in Nachal Oz

On Friday the list of Israeli victims grew by another tragic figure: a 4-year old boy, Daniel Tragerman of Kibbutz Nachal Oz, was killed when a mortar hit his house.  In a case of supreme bad timing, his family was packing up to leave for the safety of the center of the country when the mortar hit.

Gila Tragerman said a shell had exploded in their kibbutz, Nahal Oz, some time earlier, convincing the family to leave for her parents’ house in Kiryat Ono, near Tel Aviv.

“The suitcases were already packed,” she said. “A minute before the explosion I went out to take Uri’s baby carrier (her young son) from the clothesline and met the neighbor. I asked him if they were leaving and told him we were setting off now. I went inside and there was the Color Red siren.

“The children were playing in a tent inside the house, and from the moment of the siren to the explosion only three seconds passed. We didn’t have time to get the children and go into the protected room.”

At little Daniel’s funeral, his mother addressed the mourners:

“we were the happiest family in the world, and I just cannot come to grips with it. Daniel,” she says, “we want to thank you; you taught us how to love and you gave us so much joy. I find solace in the fact that you were a loved and happy child until your last minute.”

“We wanted to protect you but even the code red siren failed to save you,” she says. “You would always run first and call your little brother (to the shelter) and then in a second it ended. We don’t want to say goodbye. You are the love of my life, the perfect child, every parent’s dream: smart, sensitive, ahead of his age group and beautiful, so beautiful,” she adds.

Gila says, “We always said you’d be the youngest leader in the world, who would bring piece.” That didn’t happen in your lifetime, she says, so perhaps it will happen after you.

President Reuven Rivlin also speaks at the funeral, calling Daniel’s death, “the moment we so feared.”

The Tragerman family had previously left Nahal Oz in order to find safety during the Israeli-Hamas hostilities, but returned just days before their child was killed, during a ceasefire, on the safety assurances of IDF officials.

An IDF investigation showed that the mortar that killed Tragerman was fired from next to a Hamas-run shelter in Gaza.

What words of comfort can we say to a mother mourning for her little son who could not escape Hamas’s evil intentions? May Daniel’s memory be for a blessing for all of us and may his family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Because mortar-fire has little to no warning – unlike the “long” 15 seconds afforded by Kassams – Israelis have almost no chance to take cover against them. Today another 4 Israelis were injured at the Erez crossing by a combined rocket and mortar attack.

To give you an idea of the intensity of the massive rocket bombardment, the IDF announced that as of 2 p.m. today, Hamas had shot over 570 rockets over the last 5 days.

The rocket-fire is so bad that Ashkelon’s Barzilai Hospital has moved its pediatrics department underground.

Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon has transferred its children’s unit to an underground shelter. Due to the ongoing security threat, the director of the hospital, Dr. Hezi Levi, ordered the pediatrics unit to be moved to a secure location in the hospital for the indefinite future.

Compare and contrast with the way Hamas uses its children as human shields and “bait” for Israel’s return fire.

In other news of the war since Friday: an IDF soldier who came through the fighting in Gaza was critically injured while he was on leave:

Netanel Maman, 22, the soldier who was wounded by a rocket on Friday, is still in critical condition and remains in the intensive care unit in Bellinson Hospital in Petah Tikvah. Boaz Tadmor, assistant director of the hospital, says that Maman’s life is “still in danger.”

Maman was wounded when a Grad rocket exploded near his vehicle outside the southern town of Gan Yavne, near Ashdod on Friday night. He was struck in the head by shrapnel from the projectile. Maman was on leave from the IDF’s Ordnance Corps after having served in combat in the Gaza Strip.

From the above reports and so many more, it is clear that it is the civilian home front who are suffering the bulk of the casualties – which all goes to prove (in case anyone wasn’t sure by now) that Hamas are not out to defeat an army but to commit terrorism against civilians.

Residents of the south are understandably furious at the government for their inability to bring quiet to the south and for persuading them to return home too early, just before the last ceasefire was broken by Hamas last week.  Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon met with representatives of the residents over the weekend:

He says the operation will end “only when there is calm in the south” and when there is no more rocket fire.

Until then, Israel will pound Hamas, “for now from the air” but Israel has “other ways” too.

Israel has hit key Hamas terror leaders, and is using all its intelligence capabilities to find them, “even when they are hiding out among women and children… We know to get to them.”

Ya’alon says Israel is “in the midst of a long, complex operation against a ruthless enemy.”

The harm done to Hamas “is unprecedented but we need patience,” he says. “There are no magic solutions.”

“The only consideration guiding us is the good of Israel and its residents,” he says.

He notes that he met Saturday with council chiefs and residents of the south — “who represent the best of Israel.”

Their “hard feelings” about the situation “are justified,” he says, “and we will help them… We are obligated to restore quiet and security to their lives.” They face “not a ‘drizzle’ of rocket fire” but “daily attempts at murder,” says Ya’alon.

PM Netanyahu addressed the weekly cabinet meeting about the situation in the south:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opening the weekly cabinet meeting, says that Israel will not halt Operation Protective Edge until security and calm have been restored.

He says Hamas will pay a heavy price for the crimes it is committing. “I call on Gaza residents to leave any location from which Hamas is conducting terror activities,” he says. “Every such place is a target for us. We have seen in recent days that there isn’t, and won’t be, any immunity for someone who fires on the citizens of Israel.”

Operation Protective Edge will continue “until its goals are achieved. I said on the first day of the operation that it can take time and we’re prepared for the possibility that the campaign will last even until after the start of the school year.”

Netanyahu speaks now “to the dear residents of the Gaza periphery, the villages and kibbutzim. I admire your fortitude, I admire your suffering, and I share your pain. We will do everything to help you get through these difficult days. In the next cabinet meeting we’re going to approve an extraordinary package of aid to your towns. We are with you, and we will stay with you until the quiet is restored, and afterward as well.”

He adds: We embarked on Operation Protective Edge in order to restore for you and all Israel’s residents the quiet and security, and not to end the operation until this goal is achieved.”

“The more determined we remain, the more we demonstrate patience, the sooner our enemies will understand that they will not succeed in wearing us down,” says the prime minister. “While they try to tire us out, they are being crushed. I think anyone who observes [Hamas’s losses] in recent days understands this concept. The IDF continues to deliver, and to increase, its painful blows against Hamas and the terror groups in the Gaza Strip, and will continue to do this until the goal is achieved.”

He also compared Hamas to ISIS (Da’ash in its Hebrew acronym) and hoped the world would understand that we are are fighting the same fight.

As if rockets on the south and center are not enough, it seemed for a while last night that  a new front had opened up in the north as a rocket was shot from Lebanon, striking near Akko (Acre), damaging a property. Shortly afterwards 5 rockets were fired from Syria into the Golan, injuring several Israelis.  It’s not clear if the rockets were spill-over from the Syrian civil war, or were a deliberate provocation against Israel.

Israel issued a complaint to UNIFIL but warned that this is the last time:

The IDF chose to turn to UNIFIL in response to the overnight rocket into Israeli territory from Lebanon, but will not do so in the case of future attacks, the army says. The next time the IDF will respond, and “the Lebanese government should not count on future restraint from Israel.”

And just in case we forget the violence from local Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, a stoning attack on an Israeli car near Hebron caused the car to flip over, injuring the driver and passenger:

An Israeli vehicle driving near Beit Ummar, north of Hebron in the West Bank, was targeted by Palestinian rock throwers overnight, the IDF says.

The vehicle overturned; one person was moderately injured and two others were lightly hurt.

Security forces were searching for the perpetrators of the attack. The injured were evacuated for medical treatment.

Israeli Eitan UAV

To conclude today’s depressing update, Iran claims to have shot down an Israeli drone over Natanz:

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard said it has brought down an Israeli stealth drone above the Natanz uranium enrichment site in the centre of the country.

“A spy drone of the Zionist regime (Israel) was brought down by a missile… This stealth drone was trying to approach the Natanz nuclear zone,” the corps said in a statement on its official website

This act demonstrates a new adventurism by the Zionist regime… The Revolutionary Guard and the other armed forces reserve the right to respond to this act,” the statement added.

Natanz is Iran’s main uranium enrichment site, housing more than 16,000 centrifuges. Around 3,000 more are at the Fordo plant, buried inside a mountain and hard to destroy.

Israel has often threatened to attack Iranian nuclear installations.

In 2010, the Israeli Air Force launched an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), dubbed “Eitan,” “Heron TP” or “Heron 2″, which can stay in the air 24 hours and can reach Iran.

“The ‘Eitan’ marks a technological breakthrough and a new level in the Air Force’s ability to operate against threats, near and far, in its every day missions and during emergencies,” IDF spokesmen said.

Military officials declined to say whether the new UAV was designed for use against Iran and did not specifically mention the Islamic Republic, but foreign news services noted that the Eitan can fly as far as Iran.

“The launching of this airplane is another substantial landmark in the development of unmanned aerial vehicles.” Maj.-Gen. Nehushtan said.  “They have gone from the humble beginning of their development, with initial operational results during the first Lebanon war, to the substantial and professional apparatus that now accompanies almost any air force operational frame work.”

The Eitan was grounded for much of 2012 following a mysterious crash during test flights.

Hmm. Is it good news or bad? If an Israeli drone really made it all the way to Iran that’s excellent. Shot down? Bad. Unnerves the Iranians? Good.

Stay tuned for more.

Meanwhile, the azakot (red alerts) are coming thick and fast over the radio, so many that the broadcasters can hardly read the news or continue their talk shows. We still have a long way to go until we can say Hamas has been completely defeated.


Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments