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

Shopping for un-Kosher trouble in anti-Semitic Britain

Two stories making the rounds on social media clearly illustrate the rising levels of antisemitism in Britain today, fuelled by unreasonably hysterical and vitriolic anti-Israel hatred, and disguised – of course – as “only” anti-Israel protests.

In Birmingham a Tesco supermarket was trashed by “Gaza protestors” – i.e. protestors who object to Israeli produce being sold anywhere in the UK:

Tesco store trashed by anti-Israel protestors who threw Israeli products to the floor

Police officers were attacked and stock was thrown around during a protest against the Gaza conflict at a Tesco store on Saturday.

Demonstrators, who want the supermarket to stop selling Israeli food, entered Tesco in Hodge Hill, Birmingham, threw produce to the floor and shouted at staff and shoppers.

Pictures show a large number of police officers at the scene and stock strewn across the floor of the store.

West Midlands Police said one person was arrested for assaulting its officers during the protest.

Speaking on social media, a customer said: “I was just in the Tesco in Hodge Hill, scanning my items and I heard chanting.

“Then a group of Asian men holding Palestinian flags came walking in and starting to push products over and getting aggressive with staff and shoppers.

“Police officers tried to stop them but I ran out.”

About 100 people had gathered outside the store to demonstrate, calling on Tesco to stop all trade with Israeli agricultural companies.

When the British press write about “Asian men” or Asians in general, it is code-speak for Muslims. Keep that in mind whenever you read about anti-Israel protests in Britain.

Following shortly afterwards, the Holborn (central London) branch of the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain took it upon themselves to remove all the Kosher food from their shelves! Colin Appleby tweeted the story

And then the happy denouement:

Another Sainsbury’s came under attack by protestors (via Harry’s Place), including a disgraceful display by a Labour MP:

In both cases the Jewish community and its supporters, and also ordinary well-meaning citizens, did not sit quietly by.

In the Tesco case, people took to the social media:

Tesco customers were not impressed by the riot and went on social media to castigate the behavior as Idiotic” and “disgusting,” among other adjectives.

“Peace protest? I think not. Disgusting!” one tweet stated. Another tweeter with the Arabic-sounding name, of Wagar Ahmed, wrote, “This isn’t helping the Palestinian cause. In fact, it’s doing the opposite.” Mehr Ali tweeted, “How is this going to help Gaza. Idiots.”

 Reaction against the Sainsbury’s kosher-boycott was much fiercer. Jonathan Sacerdoti, an Anglo-Jewish reporter and pro-Israel activist, recorded his phone complaint to Sainsbury’s (via Israellycool who also has the full transcript) and it was most revealing:

Some key points that he made:

* Why is it considered a good reaction to remove products of interest to Jews from the shelves when there’s going to be some sort of violent intervention rather than to stop the violent intervention.

* But why don’t you stop them doing that? If I told you I was going to go into the store and start trashing Halal products from the shelves, would you remove them all?

- Of course not. that is a…

* But that’s what you did with the Kosher products.

- This was one store that decided to do that with the store manager, and it has all been rectified now.

* So you mean it was a mistake to do that?

- No, I didn’t say it was a mistake. You’re putting words in my mouth. I did say that it has been sorted out. There was an issue with it, and it has been sorted.

* As you told me there was a threat that people were going to come in and throw products onto the shop floor, you took the kosher products off the shelves so that Jewish people during that day would be unable to buy them., ad yet you can’t understand the comparison that if there were a similar threat to halal products you’ve told me you wouldn’t have the same line of action, and you can’t understand why that’s a fair comparison.

Read it all and watch the video.

The level of anti-Israel discourse in Britain today is disgraceful and extremely worrisome.

Posted in Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Friday videos for Shabbat

I’m neither in the mood nor do I have time for a Good News Friday post, but I didn’t want to leave up those last two terribly depressing posts without a counterweight, so here are two videos that might put you in a better mood.

The first is the tefila Mi Sheberach for the soldiers – the prayer for the welfare of soldiers recited in synagogues every Shabbat. I can’t think of a more appropriate prayer at this moment:

The second song is one that has been making the rounds recently and it has stuck in my head – השבעתי אתכם בנות ירושלים. The words are taken from Shir Hashirim

שיר השירים ה8: “הִשְׁבַּעְתִּי אֶתְכֶם, בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָם! אִם תִּמְצְאוּ אֶת דּוֹדִי – מַה תַּגִּידוּ לוֹ? שֶׁחוֹלַת אַהֲבָה אָנִי!

“I have sworn you, daughters of Jerusalem, that if you find my beloved, what will you tell him? That I am lovesick for him”.

These are words of love between Israel and G-d, or between Israel and the Torah.

Enjoy!

Wishing us all a Shabbat Shalom and a better week ahead.

 

Posted in Israel news | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Obama “has Israel’s back” – with a knife in his hand

Obama has Israel’s back – with a knife in it (Branco at Legal Insurrection

For reasons which remain a mystery to all right-thinking people (of which there appear to be fewer every day), the Obama Administration has chosen to abandon Israel in the same manner as the Perfidious Brits.

In gob-smacking news yesterday we learned that the State Department confirmed a review on arms sales to Israel, in particular regarding the transfer of Hellfire missiles:

WASHINGTON — The State Department confirmed Thursday that weapons shipments to Israel would be undergoing additional review due to the war in Gaza, but denied reports that the Pentagon had engaged in weapons transfers to Israel behind the back of the White House and State Department.

State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said that she “strongly disagrees with the notion that some of us didn’t know what was going on.”

She said that, “to her knowledge,” there had not been any unauthorized weapons transfers between the Pentagon to Israel, and that she did not hear that anyone had been “caught off-guard” by such transfers.

Harf described an inter-agency process, including the Pentagon, White House and State Department, to review such transfers, and said that she “would disagree” with a report Thursday in the Wall Street Journal to the effect that the State Department and White House were “surprised” that the Pentagon continued to provide weapons to Israel.

Hellfire missiles

In its report, the Wall Street Journal said that the White House and State Department were angered by a transfer of Hellfire missiles to Israel and had blocked the delivery of a batch of Hellfire precision missiles as well as ordering greater oversight into future sales. At one point during her briefing, Harf said that she was not sure whether any transfers of Hellfire missiles were delayed or blocked, but later said that she was certain that no weapons transfers were being withheld or delayed.

A senior Israeli official had confirmed that the shipment of Hellfire missiles was canceled.

The State Department spokesperson worked to downplay the scale and implications of the additional review. “As I have said many times, the US has an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security,” Harf asserted, citing President Barack Obama’s recent approval of an additional funding package for the Iron Dome missile defense project.

“There has been no change in policy” regarding Israel’s security assistance, Harf insisted. She added, however, that given the situation, it is natural that there would be “additional care” taken in the review process. She emphasized that “additional steps” were not tantamount to an official “review” of US military aid for Israel.

The double-talk above raises many suspicions.  If there was “no change in policy” then why the “review”? And why the tendentious leaks to the Wall Street Journal, a newspaper not known for conspiracy theories or antipathy to Israel. On the contrary, the WSJ is solidly reliable and one of the few media outlets friendly to Israel.

Arutz Sheva describes the tense relations between the Administration and Israel:

A senior Obama administration official was quoted in the report as saying the transfer shouldn’t have been a routine “check-the-box approval,” given Israel’s defensive operation in Gaza against Hamas, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by the US.

The decision to clamp down on future transfers was the equivalent of “the United States saying ‘the buck stops here. Wait a second…It’s not OK anymore,'” said the official.

A Israeli defense official confirmed the reports to Walla! on Thursday, saying “the US delayed a shipment of Hellfire missiles to the Israeli airforce.” He added “apparently it was (done) on the background of national tension” with Israel.

Obama has been at odds with Israel over the defensive operation in Gaza, making various attempts to press Israel into accepting a truce with the adamant terrorist organization of Hamas. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly responded to the pressure by telling the administration “not to ever second guess me again,” after Hamas committed one of its many ceasefire violations.

According to US officials cited in the Wall Street Journal report, the Wednesday night phone call between Obama and Netanyahu was “particularly combative.”

The report noted that on July 20, ahead of the Hellfire missile cancellation, the IDF asked the US military for various munitions such as 120-mm mortar shells and 40-mm illuminating rounds, without the knowledge of Obama’s administration.

Three days later the request was approved by the military, without Obama or US Secretary of State John Kerry being approached for approval, given that their approval was not required for such a transfer.

A US defense official added that the standard review process in such requests was properly followed.

The transfer without Obama’s unnecessary approval was followed by a similar incident ahead of the Hellfire cancellation, which occurred the same day as the July 30 IDF strike on terrorists adjacent to a UN school, which the US slammed as “disgraceful.

On the same day as the UN school strike, US reports said the 120-mm and 40-mm rounds had been released by the US army to the IDF, with one Obama administration official saying “we were blindsided.”

 A US defense official responded, saying “there was no intent to blindside anyone. The process for this transfer was followed precisely along the lines that it should have.”

Demonstrating the tense ties between Obama’s administration and Israel, a senior official of the administration told the Wall Street Journal “we have many, many friends around the world. The United States is their (Israel’s) strongest friend.”

“The notion that they are playing the United States, or that they’re manipulating us publicly, completely miscalculates their place in the world,” added the official.

I find that last statement more ominous than the cancellation of the missile transfer. The implicit cold threat behind those words could have come from the mouth of Don Corleone. “Nice little state you got there, it would be a shame if something happened to it”.

You would think that the Obama Administration would be happy that Israel is doing the West’s dirty work in fighting the Jihadists of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.  Apparently we were wrong.

The Administration’s decision is also particularly dumb in the light of the Hellfire missile’s specific ability to strike surgically. Abu Yehuda (previously the excellent Fresno Zionism blog who has just made Aliya) explains some of the Hellfire’s technical specs and how the Obama Administration is helping Hamas:

The cutoff of Hellfire missiles is especially silly if the US is upset about casualties from artillery or other non-precision weapons. The Hellfire is about as surgical a weapon as you can get, preferred for taking out a target as small as a car or motorcycle without collateral damage.

There is also a degree of hypocrisy involved, since the US has a far worse record than Israel of safeguarding civilians in its recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sadly, the unity in Israel engendered by the war in Gaza has already started fraying, with Israeli politicians all weighing in on who is to blame for the tension in US-Israel relations. Of course the opinions are divided straight down party lines.

 Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel on Thursday accused the Obama administration of applying a double standard when it comes to Israel.

“I don’t accept in any way that President [Barack] Obama can attack in Iraq and harm citizens, women and children, but when it comes to us, it’s not permissible,” he told Israel Radio. “I said in the past and I’ll say again that the Americans don’t understand what is happening in the region – not in Syria, where they don’t intervene in the daily murders; in Iraq, where everything is collapsing; in Egypt; or here.”

MK Danny Danon (Likud) said he was not troubled by the Obama administration’s behavior, because its time in office is limited and polls show the American people support Israel.

“We have to take into account that in two-and-a-half years, Obama will not sit in the White House and we will remain here with the threats and challenges,” he said.

Ministers and MKs on the Left defended Obama and blamed Netanyahu for the deterioration of relations with the American administration.

Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich called on Netanyahu to restrain his party’s MKs, who she said were competing over who could insult America better. She called the Likud lawmakers’ criticism irresponsible, stupid and dangerous and said it shows they are disconnected from reality.

Interestingly, Prof. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection, a very strong supporter of Israel, warns Netanyahu not to overplay his hand with America (emphases are mine):

This paragraph, though, highlights that Bibi may be overplaying his cards:

Now, as Egyptian officials shuttle between representatives of Israel and Hamas seeking a long-term deal to end the fighting, U.S. officials are bystanders instead of in their historic role as mediators. The White House finds itself largely on the outside looking in.

While Israeli officials have privately told their U.S. counterparts the poor state of relations isn’t in Israel’s interest long term, they also said they believed Mr. Netanyahu wasn’t too worried about the tensions. The reason is that he can rely on the firmness of Israeli support in Congress, even if he doesn’t have the White House’s full approval for his policies. The prime minister thinks he can simply wait out the current administration, they say.

Bibi is miscalculating. The overwhelming support of the American people for Israel, reflected in Congress, can only go so far.

Congress has no control over military deliveries. Or U.N. votes.

As I have said many times, there is only one person in the world who can destroy Israel, and it’s the President of the United States, who can do so by not acting, by doing nothing, and by not resupplying Israel in time of need.

Bibi beware.

These are extremely worrying words of advice.

David Horowitz, editor of the Times of Israel, has produced another excellent article, saying: “US livid with Israel? Hamas can’t believe its luck“:

t becomes ever harder to understand what the US administration thinks it is doing in the Middle East. Its influence is waning across the region. It appears insufficiently robust — to put it mildly — when dealing with the region’s most dangerous regimes, notably Iran. Its ill-judged lack of enthusiasm for Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi — apparently blamed by Washington for ending an elected Muslim Brotherhood presidency, even though president Mohammed Morsi would likely have ensured no further elections — is pushing Egypt ever closer to Russia. And now ties with the region’s only democracy are fraying.

Some in the administration appear to labor under the delusion that if only Benjamin Netanyahu — described by some US officials in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal as “reckless and untrustworthy” — could be weakened and eased aside, Israelis might elect a leadership more inclined to follow its thinking and consider territorial compromise in the cause of a rejuvenated peace process with the Palestinians. The fact is, of course, that an Israel attempting to de-fang Hamas, concerned at the possibility of rising tensions in the West Bank, aware that Hezbollah in Lebanon is many times more powerful than Hamas is, and watching Iran working to outwit the West on its route to nuclear weapons, is as likely to veer left as Hamas is to voluntarily disarm. Far from being the most obdurate prime minister, Netanyahu is the most moderate that Israel can be expected to choose in the foreseeable future.

It is frankly astounding to the overwhelming majority of Israelis that Israel is being blamed for and pressured to end a war it manifestly sought to avoid — against a terrorist-government sworn to its destruction that repeatedly breaches the ceasefire efforts Israel consistently accepts. That the conflict is widely misrepresented, and that hostile governments are critical, is bad enough for Israel. Far, far graver is that key allies, to one degree or another, are turning upon it.

..

Rather than criticizing Israel for seeking to protect its civilians from Hamas, and moving now to limit its capacity to do so, the US, UK and the rest of the international community should be emphatically backing Israel in its struggle against the cynical Hamas — for the sake, too, of the civilians of Gaza. They should be insisting that Hamas disarm. And they should be making clear that they share Israel’s and Egypt’s concern that lifting the blockade is not tenable so long as any easing of restrictions would be exploited by Hamas.

From Hamas’s point of view, it must be a source of immense delight to witness the strains, and practical fallout, in the relationship between Washington and Jerusalem. It wins an election in which the US insisted it be allowed to take part, even though it has never renounced terrorism. It murders its way to control of Gaza. It diverts Gaza’s resources to turn the Strip into one great big terrorist bunker. It hits Israel, over and over and over again. It intimidates international journalists to not report on and film its attack methods. And the international community condemns Israel, the UN sets up inquiries into Israeli war crimes, and Israel’s allies limit its arms supplies.

All it needs to do, Hamas can only conclude, is keep firing at Israel’s towns and villages, forcing Israel to respond, confident that this will bring still more criticism down on Israel as well as growing restrictions on Israel’s ability to defend itself. Wow, the Hamas leaders must be thinking, the free world is just so dumb.

And they would be right.

Who’s left, besides Australia and Canada, to side with Israel after its abandonment by Britain and the US? I’m not even counting the UN who, as far as I’m concerned is an active participant and ally of Hamas.

The nausea and depression pile up.

Posted in Defence and Military, International relations, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments