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 sepahnews.com.

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

Breathtaking disingenuousness: UNHRC head Navi Pillock Pillay criticizes UNHRC for ineffectiveness over Syria and other conflicts

UN - Useless Nations

UN – Useless Nations

UN Human Wrongs Rights Council head witch Navi Pillock Pillay has come out with what can only be described as a case of extreme blindness, total self-unawareness and a moronic level of disingenuousness when she accused the UNHRC of having been ineffective in dealing with Syria and other intractaable conflicts. Here is an excerpt (emphases are mine):

“I firmly believe that greater responsiveness by this council would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives,” said Navi Pillay, whose term as high commissioner for human rights ends on 30 August.

Pillay said Syria’s conflict “is metastasing outwards in an uncontrollable process whose eventual limits we cannot predict”. She also cited conflicts in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Congo, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Ukraine and Gaza.

“These crises hammer home the full cost of the international community’s failure to prevent conflict,” Pillay said. “None of these crises erupted without warning.”

Pillay spoke at a meeting where the security council unanimously adopted a resolution promising more aggressive efforts to prevent conflicts.

The resolution acknowledged that the United Nations has not always used the tools in its charter for preventing conflict. It prescribed several steps for improvement, focusing on addressing human rights violations earlier and recognizing that such abuses are often warning signs of looming conflicts.

Pillay touched on the problem in her remarks. “Short-term geopolitical considerations and national interest, narrowly defined, have repeatedly taken precedence over intolerable human suffering and grave breaches of and long-term threats to international peace and security,” she said.

The human rights chief said the use of veto power on the security council “to stop action intended to prevent or defuse conflict is a short-term and ultimately counter-productive tactic”.

Pillay offered her own solutions. She proposed that the council adopt a menu of new responses, including “rapid, flexible and resource-efficient human rights monitoring missions”. And she suggested building on the Arms Trade Treaty by requiring that, in countries where there are human rights concerns, governments accept a small human rights monitoring team as a condition of purchasing weapons.

I was so flummoxed at Pillock Pillay’s statement that I was momentarily struck speechless. I was literally spluttering.

For is she herself not the vaunted head of this illustrious Council? Is not she the one who should have been setting the agenda and guiding the Council to the correct resolutions and conclusions?

I have addressed the wrongs inherent in the Human Wrongs Rights Council too many times to count on this blog.

But the graphics that I use (one above and one below) whenever the UNHRC or Navi Pillay’s position as High Commissioner for Human Rights aptly illustrate the reason why the UN’s human rights committees have been so ineffective. The reason has been repeated ad nauseum by Hillel Neuer of UN Watch and Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor, besides other supporters of Israel protesting at the anti-Israel bias of the various UN human wrongs rights committees.

UN anti Israel bias

In a nutshell – the microscopic concentration on Israel’s alleged and unproven human rights abuses have detracted attention from the real human rights abusers around the world.

If Pillay is genuinely upset and not just engaging in a “cover your ass” exercise, the best advice I can give to and to her successor is the warning and advice offered by the indefatigable and eloquent UN Watch spokesman Hillel Neuer, whom I quoted not two weeks ago in his Test: Are you pro-human rights, or anti-Israel?

If in the past year you didn’t CRY OUT when thousands of protesters were killed and injured by Turkey, Egypt and Libya, when more victims than ever were hanged by Iran, women and children in Afghanistan were bombed, whole communities were massacred in South Sudan, 1800 Palestinians were starved and murdered by Assad in Syria, hundreds in Pakistan were killed by jihadist terror attacks, 10,000 Iraqis were killed by terrorists, villagers were slaughtered in Nigeria, but you ONLY cry out for GAZA, then you are not pro HUMAN RIGHTS, you are only ANTI-ISRAEL.

Embedded in the above quote is a video which I have posted here before but is worth watching and sharing again.

Note to Navi Pillay: You could have saved your discomfort and embarrassment at your committee’s ineffectiveness and your disingenuous criticism of it had you persuaded your colleagues at the UNHRC not to ban this video.

From the blurb of the video:

UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer exposes the hypocrisy of the UN Human Rights Council, the body that created the Goldstone Report. The Council president, Amb. Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico, rejects the speech as “inadmissible” — and bans it from ever being delivered again.

Luckily for us, there is UN Watch and their YouTube channel, preserving the video for posterity, exposing the hypocrisy of Pillay and her ilk.

Should we expect things to change under the new head of the Human Rights Commission at the UN?

I’m not holding my breath.

Posted in International relations, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Good News Friday – War edition

Israel is still under fire since Hamas broke the ceasefire on Tuesday, and the IDF is attacking back, picking off Hamas’s commanders and targeting terror infrastructure, rocket launchers etc.

Part of the kindergarten struck by Hamas rockets in the south in which a man was seriously injured

The south of Israel has been under an intense rocket assault all this time, and it seems to me that the intensity is only increasing. Yesterday two kindergartens suffered direct hits from rocket fire. Thank G-d one kindergarten was empty since it is still holiday time, but the other kindergarten was located in a kibbutz, where the nurseries operate throughout the year. Miraculously the nursery carers managed to usher all the children into the safe room within 15 seconds but the father of one of the children, who was celebrating his birthday, was seriously hurt protecting the children:

Magen David Adom (MDA) crews gave initial treatment to the man, who is 33. He was seriously wounded by shrapnel that struck his chest.

MDA paramedic Oren Vacht, who treated the man before his evacuation to hospital, described him as having been hit in the chest by a shell fragment, “fully conscious and in great pain.”

“Civilians who had been at the scene told us that he did not make it to the protected space in time, and was hurt by shrapnel when he lay down on children who were near him, to protect them with his body,” Vacht said.

The thought of what might have happened sends chills through my veins.

Today we just heard that a synagogue has just taken a direct hit – a couple of hours before Shabbat begins. Two people were injured in that attack.  Earlier, several other people were injured in missile attacks on Beer Sheva. Ynet has more:

Over 50 rockets were fired at Israel’s south Friday, with one landing a direct hit on synagogue in Ashdod, wounding three. Some people were treated for anxiety at the scene.

Synagogue hit by rocket fire in Ashdod

 

Earlier rockets fell near a preshcool in Be’er Sheva, wounding a man while another landed meters from another preschool in the south, after a quiet night gave residents a much needed rest from renewed fighting which have seen a record number of rockets slam into Israel.

The synagogue in Ashdod suffered a direct hit from a rocket in the early afternoon hours on Friday. Several suffered from anxiety after the attack and three were lightly wounded.

A rocket was fired at Tel Aviv in the early afternoon, but fell in an open area, failing to cause damage. Hamas has claimed responsibility for the attack.

A 52-year-old Israel man was moderately wounded from shrapnel in his arms after a rocket hit in Be’er Sheva noontime Friday; damage was also reported and he was taken to a local hospital.

As of Friday afternoon, some 56 rockets were fired at Israel, 43 of which managed to hit Israel, while seven were intercepted.

The synagogue that was hit might be more damaged than appears in the picture. Firefighters fear the structure might collapse completely.

For constant news updates, rocket attacks, IDF targeting of terrorists and their infrastructure, analyses and more, read the Times of Israel live-blog which updates in real-time.

For now, I want to post at least a couple of items to turn this into a Good News Friday installment of sorts.

One item from the above Times of Israel live blog which could technically count as good news is that Hamas has been busy executing alleged “collaborators with Israel”. Today they executed 18 people, including 6 whom they caught coming out of Friday prayers at a mosque. (So much for the sanctity of their mosques).  As long as they are devouring their own, there is less work for for us!

But now for some real good news. Despite the war and despite the appalling smears of Israel in the international media, an OECD report ranks Israel as the 4th best foreign investment target:

Despite the security situation and the threats of commercial boycotts in Europe, a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has ranked Israel the fourth most attractive target for direct investments among the OECD’s 34 member-nations.

According to the report, which tracks the ratio of foreign direct investments (FDI) to countries’ gross domestic product, Israel’s FDI totaled 4 percent of its GDP in 2013, trailing relatively closely behind Luxembourg, Ireland, and Chile.

 In a related item, Israel’s hi-tech industry is flourishing despite the war. There are some down-sides too but it was noted that:

the number of startups that raised money in July continued the impressive trend in the second quarter of 2014. Instead of the expected downturn in the volume of capital raising caused by the security situation, it accelerated during Operation Protective Edge.

These items illustrate how solid is Israel’s economy, and despite the bad publicity it receives in the popular media, in places where it counts Israel’s reputation is still rock solid. May it continue thus!

Another upside to the war is the news that even the burglars stayed home during the fighting!

When the cannons roar, crime goes down. It turns out that one consequence of Operation Protective Edge was that thieves preferred not to take any chances, opting to hide out in their protected spaces. Police reported a 10 percent decrease in criminal cases that were opened throughout Operation Protective Edge, compared to the same period last year and compared to the period just prior to the war, and property-related incidents were dramatically lower by some 20 percent.

It’s nice to know that patriotism is not a dirty word, even amongst thieves. :P

To conclude this good news section, to show you that not everyone is against us, here are some great videos taken around the world of shows of support for Israel in its fight against Hamas:

From Tokyo, Japan:

From Kolkata, India, where 20,000 Hindus rallied in support of Israel!:

And back in good old Blighty, the wonderful Sussex Friends of Israel organized a very well-attended rally in Brighton last Sunday at which Col. Richard Kemp addressed the crowd, accusing Hamas is committing war crimes.

Sussex Friends of Israel Brighton rally

Thank you to all our supporters all round the world. Knowing that we have the support of wonderful people like these gives us the strength to continue our fight.

May we have a quiet and peaceful Shabbat (well, we can but hope). Wishing everyone Shabbat shalom!

Posted in Defence and Military, International relations, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Good News Thursday – IDF targets 3 top Hamas commanders

Some good news has finally emerged from the Gaza war. After the barrage of 130 rockets fired by Hamas on Israel on Wednesday, the IDF finally did what we have all been hoping for from the start of this war – and even before then: The commander of the Izz ad-Din al-Kassam, the “military wing” of Hamas (as if there’s any kind of wing) Mohammed Deif has allegedly been killed – though he seems to rise from the dead after every attack – and his wife and child too. And in a later strike the three top Hamas commanders were killed in an IAF air strike.

In the case of Deif, both Hamas and Israel are remaining cagey about what happened. Deif’s alleged death certificate from Shifa hospital was displayed online, sparking a huge debate whether it was genuine or not.  Israel says the IAF did indeed kill Deif while Hamas deny it.

Hamas said the air strike on the home of the al-Dalou family in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City killed Deif’s wife and infant son, but not him.

The three-story home was reportedly hit by five missiles, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported. The report said a third, unknown person was also killed.

The IAF destroyed this home in the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in Gaza City where Mohammed Deif, his wife and daughter were staying

Hamas also further threatened Israel, saying “We are warning international airlines and press them to stop flying into Ben Gurion airport from 6 am (0300 GMT) Thursday,” said Al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida in a televised speech.

A member of the Palestinian delegation in Cairo said the heavy barrage of rockets fired on Tuesday night was a response to the “massacre” at the al-Dalou home, the home Deif’s wife and son were in.

I waited expectantly for the 6 a.m. alarm (i.e. I was fast asleep) and their threat turned out to be an empty one.

The Ynet article has more background on Deif and his shadowy life:

Mohammed Deif, commander of Hamas’s Izz ad-Din al-Kassam Brigade

Deif has been repeatedly targeted by Israel, attacks in which he is believed to have been seriously wounded. Until Tuesday, the most recent – and fifth – attack came in 2002, shortly after he was named Hamas’ military leader.

That attack left him severely wounded, and some rumors suggested he had been left paraplegic, although these were never confirmed, largely due to the secrecy surrounding the details of his life.

Deif delegated the leadership of the brigades to his deputy, Ahmed Jabari, thus earning the nickname the “cat with nine lives” among his enemies, and cementing his reputation inside Gaza.

Born in the Khan Younis refugee camp in southern Gaza in 1965, Deif has been involved in Hamas operations for more than 20 years, plotting suicide bombings inside Israel, kidnapping soldiers, firing rockets and helping plan the tunnels used to launch attacks.

He was appointed the military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in 2002 after the death of his predecessor, Salah Shehade, in an IAF strike on Gaza.

But Deif had had a long yet shadowy career as a militant even before then. His involvement with the Islamist movement in Gaza began in the 1980s when, as a biology student close to the Muslim Brotherhood, he headed the Islamists’ union at Gaza Islamic University.

With the eruption of the second Palestinian Intifada in 2000, he escaped, or was freed, from a prison run by Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority. His departure from prison angered Israel, which by then had had him in its crosshairs for more than a decade.

Master of disguise

Only a few, poor-quality photographs of Deif are known to exist, the most recent taken some 20 years ago. His hiding place were unknown, and he was said to have been a master of disguise able to blend seemlessly into the population.

He also used no techonology that might allow Israel to track him, a Hamas official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Deif may have learned caution from the death of his mentor, Yahya Ayash, who was killed in 1996 by a mobile telephone booby-trapped with explosives by Israel.

Deif’s real name is Mohammed Diab al-Masri, and he owes his ‘nom de guerre’, which is Arabic for guest, to his habit of constantly changing his location, the Hamas official said. He described Deif as a man who is “polite, discreet, softly spoken” and fascinated by “military strategy”.

The elusive leader’s public statements are extremely rare. In 2012, he warned Israel against launching Operation Pillar of Defense, which was aimed at halting rockets fired by militants in the Gaza Strip.

After the death of his mentor Ayash, who passed on his explosive-making expertise, he took on the role of “engineer for the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades”, the IDF says in its blog.

Israel sees him as the mastermind of the campaign of suicide bombings that targeted buses and public places in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem until 2006, and considers him “personally responsible for the deaths of dozens of civilians.”

He also played a key role in the strategic development of Hamas, Israel says.

It claims that Deif was among the militants “who designed the Qassam rockets” – the Islamist movement’s signature weapon with has a range of eight kilometers, until Iran supplied them with more advanced missiles.

I really hope the news is true.

Meanwhile the IDF were kept busy chasing other terror heads, killing three more senior Hamas commanders overnight:

Three senior Hamas commanders, including the head of Hamas’s southern command in the Gaza Strip, were killed in Rafah Wednesday night, both Israel and Hamas confirmed Thursday morning.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Shin Bet’s “exceptional intelligence” and the IDF’s operational activity, which led to the detection and successful assassination of Hamas head of southern command Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, Rafah commander Raed Al-Attar, and senior weapons smuggler Muhammad Barhum

Abu Shamaleh and al-Attar were said to have played central roles in the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and in other high-profile attacks against Israelis.

The Shin Bet also named al-Attar as one of the architects of Hamas’s offensive tunnel operations in southern Gaza and as the head of the division that killed Israeli soldier Lt. Hadar Goldin while attempting to kidnap him. He was also allegedly responsible for smuggling weapons into Gaza from Sinai.

Barhoum, also killed in the strike, was a senior Hamas operative in Rafah responsible for smuggling weapons into Gaza from neighboring Egypt, Israel said.

Gaza emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said eight Palestinians were killed in pre-dawn air strikes on Thursday — seven in Rafah and another in Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

It was not immediately clear if the three dead commanders were among, or in addition to, the seven dead recorded by medics.

The IDF tweeted this info-graphic:

Not that this will be the end of Hamas, at least for the moment. They are like a multi-headed hydra. As soon as you cut off one head, another one grows. This is one of the concerns of the Israeli authorities, along with the worry that Hamas will davka escalate their attacks on Israel to take revenge for the killings and to prove that they are still a force to be reckoned with despite their leader’s assassination.

Hamas has suffered a fair number of blows since the start of the conflict with Israel. Hundreds of gunmen from its military wing have been killed, many of its tunnels have been destroyed, and its rocket stores have been depleted. But the overnight strike on a home in the Tel al-Sultan district of Rafah was the harshest blow – militarily and in terms of morale – that it has sustained since the start of Operation Protective Edge.

Three of its most senior commanders in the southern area of the Strip were assassinated in the Israeli airstrike, in an operation that, for the first time, demonstrated that Hamas has been penetrated by Israeli intelligence, enabling the targeting of its most senior command echelons.

The Shin Bet, as the intelligence behind the strike, and the IDF, as the operational arm, targeted the trio in a building in a crowded Rafah neighborhood on one of the heaviest days of fighting thus far. [...] . Given that the fighting had re-escalated since Tuesday, and that Israel was known to be trying to hit the Hamas military leadership, the three had taken every possible precaution to evade Israeli intelligence. Those precautions simply were not good enough.

It can be assumed that whether or not Muhammad Deif is still alive, those members of the Hamas military leadership who have survived are now desperately trying to figure out what went wrong. How could it be that after long weeks in which Israel was unable to get to any of the heads of the military wing, now, within 48 hours, the Shin Bet located one of Deif’s hideouts and killed three other members of the Hamas general staff?

It should be stressed again: Two of the three were not mere senior commanders of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Muhammad Abu Shamala, the “head of the southern command” and Raed al-Attar, the commander of the Rafah area, were part of the founding generation of the Hamas military wing — along with Deif and several others who are no longer with us, including Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh and Emad Akel. They were among Deif’s closest brothers-in-arms — long-term veterans with experience and knowledge that cannot be easily replaced.

Abu Shamala and al-Attar are tied to almost every major attack in and from the Rafah area since 2001. These include the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit on a tunnel raid into Israel in which two other soldiers were killed, and even the killing of 16 Egyptian soldiers on the Gaza-Sinai-Israel border two years ago. Thus the two had tangled not only with Israel, but also with Egypt, which knew of their ties to terrorist organizations in the Sinai.

Their colleagues in the military leadership — Marwan Issa, Muhammad Sinwar, and whatever may remain of Deif — will try to return to business as usual as soon as possible given the pressure under which Hamas now finds itself. That is to say Hamas will make every effort, every desperate effort, to carry out attacks — and that includes in the West Bank and in Israel.

In the next few days, Hamas will try to use every military means at its disposal: the rockets it has saved for a “moment of truth,” any of its cross-border attack tunnels that may remain, West Bank suicide bombers — anything to prove to Israel that Hamas has not been defeated and is still standing.

Seeing the results of Israel’s targeted assassination policy, one would be justified in wondering why on earth Hamas broke the ceasefire in the first place when it seemed that they were on their way to gaining great concessions from Israel at the Cairo talks.

Wonder no more. Rumour has it that it was Qatar that threatened Hamas head coward Khaled Mashaal with expulsion if Hamas accepted the Cairo deal;

Arabic daily Al-Hayat reported Wednesday that Doha warned it would deport Mashaal if he approved the agreement in its current form, without insisting that Hamas’s demands — which include the construction of a seaport and airport in the Gaza Strip — be met.

Citing a member of the Palestinian delegation to Cairo, the newspaper said Qatar demands that Egypt give it a role in ending the Gaza crisis. Egypt, however, reportedly rejected the demand, conditioning its agreement to it on Qatar formally apologizing for its policy toward Egypt since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi’s in June 2013.

And yet Qatar is still the destination of choice not only for PA “President” (or is that Chairman?) Mahmoud Abbas, but more importantly and much more seriously, for US Secretary of State John Kerry. With all the evidence pointing so clearly at Qatar, what is Kerry, and the Obama Administration, playing at?

Equally, three Arab-Israeli MKs visited Qatar last week. As Israel Matzav says, they should be expelled from the Knesset, if not from Israel, for treason in the light of Qatar’s protection and promotion of Hamas.

Posted in Defence and Military, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Media bias, anti-semitism, and the anti-anti-semitic pushback

Media Bias against Israel

Media reporting on Israel

This post is going to be a catch-up of sorts of some of the news items I let slip over the last few days. They all have a connection, if only tangential, to Israel’s war against the Hamas in Gaza.

My first item is typical of the propaganda that masqueraded as fact during the fighting (now renewed) in Gaza. The foreign press gleefully reported that an entire family of six was killed by the IDF in Gaza, implying that the Israelis are barbaric baby-killers. The truth is somewhat different. The entire dead family has miraculously been discovered to be heartily alive:

The media has been getting its ghoulish Gaza death toll from Hamas and its employees. And it turns out they might not be that accurate. And the media is more than happy to manufacture and inflate any story that makes Israel look bad.

If we take a closer look at the ranks of the Gaza dead, we’ll find more living dead people than an episode of The Walking Dead.

First Donald Macintyre of the New Statesman claimed that ten-year-old Mohammed Badran’s “entire family had been killed when a missile destroyed their home at the Nuseirat refugee camp.”

Now… not so much.

Update, 12 August: Mohammed Badran’s family turned out not to have been killed in the strike on his home, as had been reported here.

That’s quite an update.

But Donald Macintyre of the New Statesman insists that Israel is still the villain, randomly killing innocent civilians for no reason.

Read the rest and be suitably outraged at the tendentious reporting that is in essence anti-Israel incitement.

A similar very important story was discovered by the Elder of Ziyon (reprinted in the Algemeiner) to be not quite the whole truth and nothing but. A Righteous Gentile who returned his award in disgust at hearing about members of his family being killed in Gaza turns out to have a terrorist skeleton in his family closet:

This story was on the front page of the New York Times and has been reported all over. The irony of a person who saved Jews during the Holocaust now accusing Israel of war crimes is too rich to ignore:

In 1943, Henk Zanoli took a dangerous train trip, slipping past Nazi guards and checkpoints to smuggle a Jewish boy from Amsterdam to the Dutch village of Eemnes. There, the Zanoli family, already under suspicion for resisting the Nazi occupation, hid the boy in their home for two years. The boy would be the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust.

Seventy-one years later, on July 20, an Israeli airstrike flattened a house in the Gaza Strip, killing six of Mr. Zanoli’s relatives by marriage. His grandniece, a Dutch diplomat, is married to a Palestinian economist, Ismail Ziadah, who lost three brothers, a sister-in-law, a nephew and his father’s first wife in the attack.

…Dr. Zeyada (older brother) said last month that none of his family members were militants. Israel says that it takes precautions to avoid killing civilians, and that Hamas purposely increases civilian casualties by operating in residential neighborhoods. It has offered no information on whether the Zeyada family home was hit purposely, and if so, what the target was and whether it justified a strike that killed six civilians. The military told the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which first reported Mr. Zanoli’s decision, only that it was investigating “all irregular incidents.”

Once can understand why the IDF is unwilling to discuss details that could reveal its intelligence assets during a war. But there is information that is freely available out there – information that the media like the NYT hasn’t bothered to check – that indicates that there was a valid military target in that house.

Here is the list of people killed in the July 20th attack, from PCHR:

At approximately 14:00, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at a 3-storey house belonging to Jameel Sha’ban Ziada, in which 20 people live, in al-Boreij refugee camp. The house was destroyed and 6 members of the family, including 2 women and a child, and a guest were killed: Jameel Sha’ban Ziada, 53; Yousef Sh’aban Ziada, 43; ‘Omar Sha’ban Ziada, 32; Sha’ban Jameel Ziada, 12; Muftiya Mohammed Ziada, 70; Bayan ‘Abdul Latif Ziada, 39; and Mohammed Mahmoud al-Maqadma, 30.

Hmmm…one of those names is a bit different.

What do we know about Mohammed Mahmoud al-Maqadma?

Well, you can ask B’Tselem. When they list the people killed in the house, they laconically mention that Maqadama was a “military branch operative.”

Suddenly, it looks like there might have been a valid military target at the Ziyada house.

The point is - this information is available. The New York Times first discussed the bombing of that same house on August 4, and by then the identity of the “guest” was known to NGOs. The anomalous name among the victims is a point that a decent reporter should have checked out.

This is really the proof of media bias against Israel. Any thinking person knows that Israel has an active interest in minimizing civilian deaths, and every knowledgeable reporter knows that Israel has good intelligence in Gaza.

The same research that people can do on the Internet is available – along with much more  – to the staffs of major media outlets like the NYT.

Yet the media report, without skepticism, every claim that there were no military targets in each flattened home. The information that contradicts this claim is out there - if they would bother to look for it. 

They don’t.

Again, I recommend you read the entire article. I don’t know how the Elder finds time to do his extensive research, write his numerous blog posts and hold down a day job. But if he can do it so can the New York Times and every single other media outlet. But as he says, they don’t. Because they’re lazy, or because their “received wisdom” just confirms their anti-Israel bias.

As I mentioned, this anti-Israel media bias is in effect incitement to violence against Israel, and by extension to Jews. We have been witness to the extreme rise in antisemitic violence and boycotts around the world in the last few weeks – with new cases every day, for example a Jewish charity shop (a charity shop!) and a synagogue, both in Southgate, London, were vandalised in antisemitic attacks -  and yet the international media are shocked! shocked! at this phenomenon.

Dovid Efune at the Algemeiner details how the anti-Jewish riots have exposed Hamas’s antisemitism and chastises the international media for ignoring it:

The editors at British newspaper The Guardian are beside themselves.

Somebody forgot to pass on the ‘Anti-Israel Rioting Etiquette Handbook’ to the largely vicious and thoroughly bigoted hordes who gathered to call for Israel’s demise in the streets of the world’s major cities over this past month.

Media reports said that the marches were prompted by Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza and sympathy for Palestinian children.

So why is it that protesters in Paris were chanting “death to the Jews” and “Hitler was right,” and activists in London proclaimed “Heil Hitler” and “Oh Jew, you will die”?

Of course all this left the honchos at The Guardian, and others who are generally aligned with the anti-Israel cause, feeling rather uncomfortable, and they quickly moved to disassociate themselves from the hate.

In an editorial on Friday, The Guardian wrote, “It should not need saying, but it does: people can be as angry as they like at the Israeli government, but to attack a synagogue, threaten children at a Jewish school, or throw a brick through the window of a Jewish grocery store is vile and contemptible racism. It cannot be excused by reference to Israeli military behaviour. The two are and should be kept utterly distinct.”

But The Guardian has completely missed the point.

The sad truth is that while the situation in Gaza may have been used to ignite the raging protesters, it is the marches themselves and their message that have exposed a key motivation in Gaza’s war against Israel.

Hamas has made no secret of its visceral hatred of Jews, and anti-Jewish animus is enshrined in the group’s constitution.

Read the rest. It is a point that has been made numerous times but bears repeating over and over until the liberal media get the message.

In other anti-anti-Semitic news:

George Galloway is being investigated by the police for his racist declaration of Bradford as Israel-free zone.

An American Fortune 500 company cancelled a prestigious six-day trip, bringing 600 business visitors to Glasgow, in protest at their Palestinian flag-waving stunt at City Hall.

Palestinian flag flies from Glasgow City Hall

South African Jews are suing a trades union leader for hate speech after he accused the Jewish Board of Deputies of complicity in murder because they sided with Israel in the Gaza conflict.

It will be interesting to see how much media bias and hate speech is engendered by the US attacking ISIS in Iraq – a situation very much in parallel with Israel’s fight against Hamas. As of yesterday, the US had hit 90 ISIS targets in air-strikes in Iraq.

Somehow I doubt they used the IDF’s warning systems of “knock on the roof” or dropping leaflets to warn civilians to evacuate ahead of the bombings. I wonder how many civilians were killed, or if anyone is even bothering to count. I also wonder how long it will take the UN to issue a condemnation or form a commission of inquiry to investigate US war crimes.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no objection to the US’s actions. On the contrary, I’m all in favour. I’m just pointing out the double standards where Israel is concerned.

On second thoughts, I wouldn’t rely on the UN to act any more fairly towards the US. Perhaps that explains the pressure being applied on the ICC to forego an investigation into “Israeli war crimes”. Israel and the Jews are forever the canary in the coal mine. If Israel is investigated, whether or not it is found guilty, it could lead to similar charges against the US and NATO allies.

And to conclude, here’s my favourite headline of the day: Egypt (!) calls on the US to exercise restraint (!) in Ferguson (where a police shooting of an unarmed black teen has led to violent race riots). As the article snarkily notes about Egypt:

Last week saw the anniversary of an Egyptian police crackdown on two protest camps in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares that killed hundreds of people.

You couldn’t make it up. :-)

Posted in Antisemitism, Defence and Military, Media and journalism, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Hamas collapses the ceasefire with renewed rocket fire

Surprise surprise. Not. The extension to the 5-day extension to the schmeasefire ceasefire didn’t last through its full 24 hours before Hamas or one of its proxies or allies started firing rockets at Israel earlier this evening. The first barrages hit the south and the Gaza border area. Later this evening rockets were also launched at the Gush Dan area. I can assure you that with no sirens the sudden booms gave me rather a shock!

The Times of Israel reports:

15:47: Three rockets launched from Gaza into Israel

Thankfully Israel wasn’t taking this lying down, and in contrast to previous times when we have let Hamas get away with a “dribble” of rocket fire, PM Netanyahu ordered the IDF to renew operations:

The rate of rocket fire picked up from then on:

16:28 Reports of rocket fire at Ashdod, Ashkelon

16:34 IDF begins strikes on Gaza Strip

The IDF says it’s currently targeting terror sites across the Gaza Strip in response to the rockets fired in the past hour at the southern city of Beersheba, breaking the 24-hour truce extension agreed upon last night.

There are no immediate reports from Gaza concerning the strikes.

17:16 Rocket hits Eshkol region after sirens sound

After sirens go off in the Eshkol region of southern Israel, at least one rocket is reported to have exploded in an open area, causing no injury or damage.

The projectile was the fourth fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel in recent hours.

And thus it continued. By 11 p.m. over 20 rockets had been fired at Israel within the hour, including at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem:

22:56  8 rockets reported fired at Tel Aviv area

Eight rockets were fired at the Tel Aviv metropolitan area in the latest barrage, Ynet reports.

22:58  Sirens in outskirts of Jerusalem

Air raid sirens are going off in Beit Shemesh and the Judeah region.

The IDF Home Front Command instructs communities up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the Gaza Strip to open their public bomb shelters as rockets are launched deeper into the country.

An official said Israel is going back to all-out war

Just a short while ago (shortly after midnight local time) it was reported on Channel 10 that the IDF had assassinated (or attempted to)  a senior Hamas official – thereby explaining the massive rocket barrage on Israel (though they don’t seem to need much excuse):

A Channel 10 reporter says that prior to the recent massive rocket barrage, Israel tried to assassinate a senior Hamas figure in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood.

Alon Ben-David tweets that Israeli officials refuse to comment on rumors that the target of the assassination attempt was the secretive Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif, who survived several Israeli assassination attempts over the years.

As at the time of writing these words over 50 rockets have been fired at Israel today. Considering the rocket fire only started at 3.30 this afternoon, that’s 50 rockets within 9 hours, i.e 6 rockets an hour, or one every 10 minutes.

Earlier, Hamas in its cynicism had threatened Israel that it had better do as Hamas says – or else:

18:00 For calm, Israel must do as we say’ — Hamas

Hamas spokesperson in the Gaza Strip Mushir al-Masry says, “If Israel wants calm it must accede to the demands and rights of the Palestinians.”

The announcement comes a couple hours after the breaking of the ceasefire, when rockets from Gaza exploded near Beersheba. No Palestinian group has claimed the fire.

Or as the Israeli activist Avi Mayer tweeted:

In normal times we wouldn’t be surprised, but in today’s climate it is certainly gratifying to learn that the US backs Israel’s right to self-defense, firmly blaming Hamas for the breakdown in the ceasefire talks:

“We are very concerned about today’s development and condemn the renewed rocket fire,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf says at a press briefing.

She notes that the US has confirmed that rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, and that “Hamas has security responsibility for Gaza.”

Harf reiterates that the US supports Israel’s right to defend itself against terror attacks from Gaza.

Besides the renewed rocket fire, the Shin Bet said it had foiled a Hamas plan for a coup against the PA in the West Bank (similarly to how it overthrew the PA in Gaza):

Israel’s Shin Bet security service said Monday it thwarted a Hamas coup attempt in the West Bank aimed at toppling Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and starting a third intifada uprising.

The Shin Bet said it arrested more than 90 Hamas operatives in May and June, confiscated dozens of weapons that had been smuggled into the West Bank, and seized more than $170,000 aimed at funding attacks. It produced photos of the confiscated weapons and cash and a flowchart of the Hamas operatives who had been questioned, and said they planned a series of massive attacks on Israeli targets, including the Temple Mount, in order to start a widespread conflagration. Indictments are expected to be filed against at least 70 of the suspects.

Abbas said later Monday that the revelation was “a grave threat to the unity of the Palestinian people and its future,” NRG reported.

The Shin Bet said terror cells were set up in dozens of Palestinian West Bank towns and villages — including in and around Jenin, Nablus, eastern Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Hebron.

Many of those recruited for the cells were students studying chemistry and engineering, and academics, according to the investigation.

The Shin Ben said the plot was orchestrated by senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri, who is based in Turkey and enjoys the support of the local officials there.

Detailing what it said was the thwarted bid to topple the PA in the West Bank, the Shin Bet said Monday that Hamas military cells in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, run through headquarters in Turkey, sought to execute a string of attacks against Israel, overthrow the PA, and establish a second front against Israel during Operation Protective Edge.

The leader of the operation, Riad Nasser, a resident of the village Dir Kadis, was recruited by al-Arouri, the head of West Bank operations for Hamas abroad, the Shin Bet said. Al-Arouri was one of the founders of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing

The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff reported in June that, according to an Israeli security official, al-Arouri was behind the kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli teens on June 12.

You’d think the PA would be grateful for Israel’s prevention of what would have been a disaster for both parties.  All the PA has to say for itself is that it blames Israel for the breakdown in the ceasefire talks!

Speaking from Egypt, Azzam al-Ahmad, the head of the PA delegation to the Cairo truce talks, blames Israel for the collapse of negotiations. He says that Netanyahu recalled the Israeli delegation at 4 p.m., which signaled the end of the efforts for a long-term ceasefire.

He notes that the Palestinians are still talking to Israel through Egypt.

I’ve heard of “saying it with flowers”, but never “saying it with rockets”.

In related news, the IDF also destroyed the houses of the kidnappers of the three teens:

#EyalGiladNaftali. Left to right: Eyal Yifrah, Gil-ad Shayer and Naftali Frenkel

The homes of the main suspects in the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June, were demolished on Monday.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said that combat engineers supported by Border Patrol officers set explosive charges to two houses belonging to Hussam Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha in the southern West Bank and sealed off a home belonging to suspect Marwan Kawasme.

Hussam Kawasme, 40, from Hebron, was arrested on July 11, but both Marwan Kawasme and Aysha have still not been found.

Kawasme’s arrest was made public earlier in August via a court case document, dealing with whether or not his house, or those belonging to the other suspects should be demolished.

The three men, all affiliated with Hamas, are suspected of engineering the abduction and murder of teenage yeshiva students Gil- Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah, and Naftali Fraenkel, who were killed shortly after they hitched a ride on June 12 near a Gush Etzion junction.

According to the court document published earlier this month, Hussam Kawasme helped organize the kidnapping and secured funding from Hamas to buy weapons for the other two suspects.

He also helped bury the bodies of the youths on a plot of land he bought months before, the document said.

The IDF said that they carried out the demolitions “as part of the ongoing war against terror and its infrastructure.”

The army said that the demolitions “issue a severe message of deterrence to terrorists and their accomplices – that they will pay a price if they continue their terrorist activities and harm innocent people.”

They added that security forces from the army, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), and the police were still looking for the remaining kidnappers.

Stay tuned for more developments. I’m sure we’re in for a bumpy ride.

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments