Israel has swung back and forth between 3 ceasefires today. First there was the ceasefire that was agreed yesterday to last from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m tonight.
However that ceasefire was rejected early this morning (late last night?) by Hamas because it would have involved recognizing Israel. How pathetic and juvenile can you get? However, Israel did accept a 24 hour extension of the UN-requested humanitarian ceasefire.
There wasn’t much point to Israel’s extension of the ceasefire unless it meant “we cease, they fire” since Hamas renewed its rocket fire in the morning: (right on my hometown again. At least we’re popular somewhere!):
A rocket falls near Petah Tikvah. No one is hurt and no damage is reported.
Police sappers are on the scene.
Residents are reminded not to approach fallen rockets, as some warheads are still live after the rocket falls.
Israel is observing a UN-requested 24-hour ceasefire. Hamas has rejected the ceasefire and continued rocket fire over Israel throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning.
At that stage Israel abandoned the non-existent ceasefire and resumed its activities against Gaza. At 12.30 Hamas quietly asked for another humanitarian ceasefire, to which Israel refused unless Hamas asked publicly:
Israeli officials say Hamas is quietly asking for a return of the humanitarian ceasefire.
Israel resumed strikes on Hamas targets Sunday morning after Hamas refused to abide by a UN-requested ceasefire and launched several volleys of rockets at Israeli towns.
Within two hours of Israel’s resumption of strikes, Hamas officials are now asking the UN’s peace envoy Robert Serry to arrange a renewal of the ceasefire.
If true, the report indicates Hamas has given up its previous demand that no ceasefire would go into effect unless Israel withdrew is ground troops from Gaza and stopped the destruction of Hamas’s tunnels.
Such a ceasefire extension won’t take effect until Hamas makes the request publicly, Israeli officials say.
Israel never gave an official answer to the truce request, the official position being a wait-and-see approach. By the time the intensified rocket fire renewed it was obvious that the whole thing was a non-starter. Israeli sources pointed out that Hamas had rejected 3 truce offers in one day.
Meanwhile Hamas used the ceasefire as a cover to execute 25 Gazans accused of “treachery”:
Hamas militants killed at least 25 Gazan civilians suspected of collaborating with Israel, World Net Daily reported, citing sources close to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad groups.
The sources told WND that most of the extra-judicial killings of suspected collaborators took place during a brief “humanitarian” cease-fire last Thursday. Hamas blamed the killings on Israel saying they took place four days earlier, in Shuja’iya, on Gaza’s northern border with Israel.
The murdered Gazans were accused of leading Israeli troops to smuggling tunnels and providing intelligence on Hamas’ infrastructure inside Gazan cities, according to the sources.
According to WND, the sources also said “the civilian suspects murdered by Hamas were publicly celebrated by Hamas as martyrs killed by the Jewish state.”
Keep those facts in mind when you are next confronted with the Gaza casualty figures.
In other news – those “harmless firecracker rockets” have damaged 1,000 buildings and 750 cars in Israel – and this is with the protection of the Iron Dome. Can you imagine what devastation would have been wrought without this anti-missile system?
Apart from the Gaza war, violence has been increasing in the West Bank. Today a not-so-minor miracle occurred when a car bomb was stopped at a checkpoint outside Beitar Illit:
Border Police officers stopped what they suspect was a potential terror attack Sunday, when they arrested a man at a West Bank junction they said was carrying an explosive device in his car.The Border Police said mid-day on Sunday that the man pulled up at a checkpoint near Beitar Ilit in the West Bank and almost instantly the officers found something suspicious about the man. They asked the man, who apparently was wearing a wig, large sunglasses, and acting “in a strange manner” to stop the car, but he refused.At this point, one of the officers reached inside to grab the keys from the ignition, at which point the man stepped on the gas and started driving off, while the officer was still hanging halfway out the window, according to the Border Police.The officer, however, managed to pull his service handgun and cock it, and ordered the man to stop, at which point he managed to pull the man out of the car and they rolled to the side of the road.The man was arrested and handed over to the Shin Bet General Security Service for questioning. Inside his car officers found pipe bombs, gas canisters, explosives, and a detonator, according to a statement put out by the IDF after the incident. The officer who arrested the man said the back seats of the car had been removed and the entire area was full of gas canisters rigged with electric wires.The incident caused massive gridlock as police shut down traffic in both directions from the junction in order to send in sappers to handle the explosives.At the moment it’s unclear where the man was taking the explosives, though one working assumption is that they were meant to be used for a terror attack in Jerusalem.
The sappers were still defusing the bomb after 8 pm tonight!
In other regional news, oh joy, Turkey is planning to send yet another “aid flotilla” to Gaza. It will serve them right if it ends up in the same way as the Mavi Marmara.
In a much more dangerous development, Hamas is said to be involved in an arms deal with North Korea:
Hamas and North Korea are involved in a secret arms deal to smuggle rockets and communications equipment into the Strip, British newspaper The Telegraph reports.
The report, based on Western security sources, claims that the Gazan terror group is working through a Lebanese intermediary to bring more fighting equipment to the Strip, in order to replenish stocks after three weeks of fighting with Israel.
The deal with Pyongyang is said to be worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
According to the Telegraph, Israeli officials believe North Korea consulted with Hamas to aid the group in building a network of tunnels into Israeli territory intended for terror attacks, tunnels that Israel is now scrambling to uncover and destroy.
The subterranean passages are reminiscent of tunnels built by North Korea in the 1970s into South Korea.
Now we begin to understand how Hamas had the ability to build such complicated and sophisticated tunnels. This is a hugely dangerous relationship for Israel.
Returning to ceasefire talk, US President Obama had the temerity to call PM Binyamin Netanyahu and demand an unconditional ceasefire. What is noticeable is he makes only passing mention of Israeli security needs. (Emphases are added):
An immediate and unconditional ceasefire ending Israel’s assault on Hamas is a “clear strategic imperative” to Israel, US President Barack Obama told Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in a phone call on Sunday.
While the conversation focused on the immediate concerns of the United States, the president also discussed the broader implications of Israel’s operation in Gaza, Protective Edge, now over two weeks old and burdened with a mounting death toll, both within the Israel Defense Forces and the civilian population of Gaza.
Obama told Netanyahu he wants a ceasefire “that both allows Palestinians in Gaza to lead normal lives and addresses Gaza’s long-term development and economic needs, while strengthening the Palestinian Authority,” the White House said, in a readout of the call to reporters.
For a permanent ceasefire to be agreed upon, Hamas is requiring an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, formed to prevent Hamas from obtaining weapons to attack the Jewish state. Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni has told US Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel categorically rejects this condition, and indeed, Netanyahu’s cabinet has unanimously voted against the measure as part of an end to the current crisis.
Obama reiterated his belief that Israel has a right to defend itself, and condemned Hamas’ construction of tunnels and continuation of rocket fire into civilian areas.
“Ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza,” Obama expressed.
At least he made a glancing reference to the necessity of disarming Hamas, but his request, demand in fact, for an unconditional ceasefire makes a mockery of that condition.
MK Danny Danon irreverently echoed many Israelis’ feelings when he remarked:
We need a ceasefire from the attacks coming from Obama and the government in Washington. Just as the US fought with determination against the Taliban, we must continue hitting Hamas and destroying the infrastructure of terror.”
He also added: “We need to withstand the pressure on us and worry about the interests of the State of Israel.”
Times of Israel editor David Horovitz returns to John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal of Saturday, and calls it simply “John Kerry’s Betrayal”:
When The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff first reported the content of John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal on Friday afternoon, I wondered if something had gotten lost in translation. It seemed inconceivable that the American secretary of state would have drafted an initiative that, as a priority, did not require the dismantling of Hamas’s rocket arsenal and network of tunnels dug under the Israeli border. Yet the reported text did not address these issues at all, nor call for the demilitarization of Gaza.
t seemed inconceivable that the secretary’s initiative would specify the need to address Hamas’s demands for a lifting of the siege of Gaza, as though Hamas were a legitimate injured party acting in the interests of the people of Gaza — rather than the terror group that violently seized control of the Strip in 2007, diverted Gaza’s resources to its war effort against Israel, and could be relied upon to exploit any lifting of the “siege” in order to import yet more devastating weaponry with which to kill Israelis.
Israel and the US are meant to be allies; the US is meant to be committed to the protection of Israel in this most ruthless of neighborhoods; together, the US and Israel are meant to be trying to marginalize the murderous Islamic extremism that threatens the free world. Yet here was the top US diplomat appearing to accommodate a vicious terrorist organization bent on Israel’s destruction, with a formula that would leave Hamas better equipped to achieve that goal.
What emerges from Kerry’s self-initiated ceasefire mission — Israel had already accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal; and nobody asked him to come out on a trip he prefaced with sneering remarks about Israel’s attempted “pinpoint” strikes on Hamas terror targets — is that Jerusalem now regards him as duplicitous and dangerous.
And Kerry didn’t let up after unleashing his dreadful proposal. Following Friday’s fiasco, he jetted off to Paris and, quite extraordinarily, convened further consultations dominated by countries that overtly wish to do Israel harm. He met with his counterparts from Turkey, whose Hamas-backing leadership has lately accused Israel of attempting genocide in Gaza and compared Netanyahu to Hitler, and with Qatar, Hamas’s funder in chief, directly accused by president Shimon Peres last week of financing Hamas’s rockets and tunnels. Staggeringly, he did not bring Israel, Egypt, or the PA to his Paris sessions.
Whether through ineptitude, malice, or both, Kerry’s intervention was not a case of America’s top diplomat coming to our region to help ensure, through astute negotiation, the protection of a key ally. This was a betrayal.
I don’t find any of this surprising although it is still shocking to be confronted by so blatant a betrayal. Despite the axiom “never attribute to malice what can be attributed to incompetence” I have my strong doubts that this is relevant to John Kerry or Barack Obama.
Someone who definitely has our back is our own Prime Minister who has been staunchly defending Israel in the international media. Here he is on CNN today:
May we have a quiet night and may tomorrow bring better news.
May Hashem protect our soldiers and watch over all of us.
הנה לא ינום ולא ישן שומר ישראל