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UN Emergency Debate on Gaza Creates New Goldstone Report, Condemns Israel for "Gross Human Right Violations": Hillel Neuer, UNWatch, July 23, 2014—Testimony delivered…23 July 2014, by UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer, at the UN Human Rights Council Emergency Session on Gaza.
The Absurd and Amoral Disproportionality Charge: Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, July 22, 2014 — CNN’s Wolf Blitzer recently asked if Israel was “overreacting” in Gaza.
How Selective Body Counts Incite More Violenceselective: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, July 23, 2013— The media has obsessively counted every dead body in the conflict between Hamas and Israel.
Hamas’s Attack Tunnels: Analysis and Initial Implications: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, JCPA, July 22, 2014 — Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, delivered a revealing speech on March 23, 2014, in which he stressed the strategic importance of the Hamas attack tunnels, which, he argued, have changed the balance of power with Israel, when taken together with his organization’s military build-up.
In Calgary, Pro-Israel Protester Reportedly Strangled With Israeli Flag; Syrian Refugee Compares Violence to ISIS (VIDEO): Joshua Levitt, Algemeiner, July 23, 2014
UN Emergency Session on Gaza: Hillel Neuer Speaks Out (Video): UNWatch, July 23, 2014
Levin to Stewart: If Hamas Had Weapons Israel Has, 'Israel Would Cease to Exist' (Video): Michael W. Chapman, CNS News, July 23, 2014
Baird Disappointed That UN Human Rights Council Ignores Hamas’s Terrorist Attacks: Department of Foreign Affairs, July 23, 2013
Hillel Neuer UNWatch, July 23, 2014
Testimony delivered…23 July 2014, by UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer, at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Emergency Session on Gaza…
Mr. President, I have just returned here from visiting Israel to tell this assembly, and the world, about the grave situation that I witnessed and experienced. Never before, in the history of Israel’s seven decades of existence, has its men, women and children come under such a massive aerial assault, forcing them, at the sound of air raid sirens day and night, to run for shelter. An entire nation—towns, villages and cities, from the Negev Desert up to the Galilee, from the Judean hills of Jerusalem to the Tel Aviv seashore—has been under brutal and relentless attack, from more than two thousand mortars, rockets and long-range missiles, fired from Gaza toward civilians in every part of the Holy Land.
And never before, in the modern history of nations, has a free and democratic society come under such sustained bombardment from a terrorist organization, one that openly strives for and celebrates the murder of civilians, and that, as its general worldview, glorifies death. Did the world ever imagine that the ancient city of Jerusalem—sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and replete with holy places that are recognized by the United Nations as protected world heritage sites—would be deliberately targeted by indiscriminate rockets? And yet it is. During one air raid in Jerusalem, I ran down to the basement of a building with little children crying and traumatized. During an air raid in Tel Aviv, the neighbors of an apartment building showed great strength of spirit in defiance of terrorism, by reaching out to strangers in the shelters, as we heard the booms of the rockets above. And as I was seated in my airplane, about to depart and return back here to Geneva, the air raid siren went off around the airport. We all had to rush off the plane and seek shelter. You’ve heard the news today: that international airlines are now ceasing to fly to Israel because of this danger. I believe that the world should salute this terrorized, besieged and embattled nation, which has refused to surrender to demoralization, instead showing such courage, resolve and strength of spirit in surviving—and resisting—this massive aggression. And people should consider: Is there any precedent in world history for a nation passively to suffer a three-week bombardment of its civilian population, by more than 2,000 deadly rockets? The attempt by Hamas to shut down Israel’s sole international airport, in a country already besieged by land from hostile forces from north to south, would constitute the strangulation of an artery vital to the life of Israel’s people and economy.These acts of aggression also target the sovereign rights of the nations under whose flags these airplanes fly.I ask each ambassador in this chamber to take a moment and imagine terrorists deliberately firing deadly rockets at the airports of Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle, or Frankfurt; Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, or Tokyo. How would your government react? How long would your nation wait before doing everything in its power to exercise its right, under international law and morality, to resist such aggression?
Mr. President, I turn now to the resolution upon which this Council will soon vote. The text before us denounces Israel, denies its right to self-defence, and disregards Hamas war crimes. We ask: why does this Council refuse to say that which was said only two weeks ago by the Palestinian ambassador himself? In an extraordinary moment of candor, Palestinian Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi admitted, on Palestinian TV, that “each and every” Palestinian missile launched against Israeli civilians constitutes “a crime against humanity.” And that, by contrast, Israel’s own response actions in Gaza “followed the legal procedures” because, as Hamas spokespersons admitted on TV, “the Israelis warned them to evacuate their homes before the bombardment; but, “as for the missiles launched from our side, we never warn anyone about where these missiles are about to fall or about the operations we carry out.” Can any UN entity, or any individual, be truly for human rights when they refuse to say that which was said by the Palestinian ambassador himself?
Is it possible that the true purpose of this session is to silence the true victims and voices of human rights around the world by deflecting attention from the world’s worst abuses? We ask all those who embrace hypocrisy and double standards: if in the past year you didn’t cry out why 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; hundreds in Pakistan were killed by jihadist terror attacks; 10,000 Iraqis were killed by terrorists…
[Hillel Neuer is the UN Watch Executive Director, and a former CIJR Publications Manager]
Jerusalem Post, July 22, 2014
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer recently asked if Israel was “overreacting” in Gaza. Rebuffing this new, trendy disproportionality argument, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu mocked those who say “yes, you have the right of self-defense, as long as you don’t exercise it.” Simplistic, voyeuristic media coverage spreads “Palestinian porn” – obsessed with exhibitionist victimization, not sex. Exploiting their dead, Palestinians seek to arouse the world’s guilt – while deflecting responsibility for triggering the conflict. This proportionality indictment is not only absurd but amoral. When a democracy launches a just war, its moral obligation to its citizens and soldiers is to apply overwhelming force against the enemy, to secure peace quickly and authoritatively.
War by definition entails resorting to violent extremes. The cliché that democracies are slow to anger but once mobilized become formidable, reflects the power harnessed when free-thinking citizens finally are willing to risk their routines because of the intensity of a threat. When deploying some of its citizens in the resulting armed conflict, a democracy’s first obligation is to guard the home front while solving the problem that prompted the war. The democracy’s second obligation is to try to protect its soldiers. A democracy cannot, therefore, allow its soldiers to fight with blinders, handcuffs and leg irons. The ugly reality remains that trying to limit ferocity in war is like trying to limit sweat in a basketball game – there’s no spigot to regulate such a natural, inevitable flow. To be clear, the current progressive and media “proportionality” talk is not about crossing that red line of targeting civilians directly. The issue is war’s lethal side effects, what the Pentagon euphemistically calls “collateral damage” but should be labeled frankly as the death of innocents. During America’s Civil War General William T. Sherman said: “War is cruelty and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out.” Sherman’s “war is hell” understanding linked effect and cause. When the cause is just, those guilty of triggering the war bear full blame for the war’s savagery. Americans have usually fought more harshly than Israelis.
Even during these recent battles against a Hamas foe who respects no rules, Israel has often forfeited the element of surprise, dropped leaflets, even aborted attacks to save civilians. Sherman advised: “You might as well appeal against the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war.” Over a century later, a leader far more ambivalent about military power, Bill Clinton, articulated his own brutal truth about the necessary balance of fear any self-respecting country must maintain when attacked, especially by terrorists. As the “Blackhawk Down” nightmare unfolded in Somalia in 1993, President Clinton complained to staffers: “We’re not inflicting pain on these f–kers. When people kill us, they should be killed in greater numbers.” In that Battle of Mogadishu, between 1,500 and 3,000 Somalis died, including civilians. For some reason, the media at that time did not simply tally body counts without providing any explanation or context in an attempt to make the well-armed Americans appear brutal. Reporters emphasized the 18 dead Americans – especially after Somalis dragged some American bodies through the streets.
War reportage should not treat the casualty count as some kind of moral barometer. War is not a game; only in games such as golf does a higher score make you the loser. The fact that Germany suffered over 10 times the number of war dead than Americans did in World War II does not change that war’s moral calculus. One can only imagine Wolf Blitzer on D-Day, counting German casualties without acknowledging German guilt. Americans were fighting a savage war – as all wars are – against a particularly heinous regime. Hamas is similarly responsible for the carnage now. In fact, this “overkill” condemnation implicitly acknowledges Israel’s justification in responding to thousands of rockets launched from territory it left nine years ago. Hamas not only turned Gaza into a launching pad and tunnel warren, it has proved that as long as Israel exists, many Palestinians will call Israeli land “occupied,” disproving the Left’s blame-Israel-first occupation preoccupation. The issue is Israel, not Israel’s West Bank presence.
These difficult days, while most Israelis are sticking to their routines between scrambling to shelters during Color Red alerts, the closer you live to the Gaza border, the more your life is disrupted. Some Israelis emphasize the resulting disruption, fear and casualties in an attempt to compete with the Palestinian woe-is-me, we-are-the-victims war porn. Most Israelis, however, prefer demonstrating indomitable insouciance, echoing Londoners resisting the Nazi Blitz. Two weeks ago, amid the great tensions preceding the war, we celebrated my daughter’s bat mitzvah. After working so hard to learn her Torah portion, she made one request: that her father and two brothers start a family flash-mob to Ray Charles’s classic cover of “Shake a Tail Feather” during a post-bat mitzvah beach party for her friends (getting her mother and sister to dance was easy). So there we were, Twisting and Phoney-Moroneying on the beach, flash-mobbing away, with the menace of rockets already clouding the magical Mediterranean night. The image of this dance – and many other normalizing moments amid the moaning of sirens, shrieks and explosions of rockets and sound of feet running to shelters – illustrates Israelis’ scorn for Hamas threats. Cliché but true: living well is the best revenge. We mourn both sides’ suffering – and hope for a quick, peaceful resolution. The memorial for the 2001 Hamas suicide bombing at the Dolphinarium disco vows “lo nafseek lirkod,” we won’t stop dancing. We are all saying that to Hamas, even while mourning our painful losses this week. We won’t be manipulated by false claims of disproportionality into risking even more Israeli casualties. And we absolutely won’t stop dancing.
Alan M. Dershowitz
Gatestone Institute, July 23, 2014
The media has obsessively counted every dead body in the conflict between Hamas and Israel. They rarely explain why so many more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed: Hamas does not allow Palestinian civilians into their shelters, while using civilian areas from which to fire their rockets; Israel, on the other hand, devotes its resources to building shelters and Iron Dome protection. Put another way, while Israel uses shelters and Iron Dome to protect its civilians, Hamas uses its civilians to protect its rockets and its terrorists… Recently, supporters of Hamas have argued that to say that Hamas uses civilians as human shields is a manifestation of racism and an attempt to dehumanize Palestinians. But it is Hamas' own leaders who have long boasted of this tragic reality. Listen to Fathi Hammad, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council: "For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideen and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: 'We desire death like you desire life.'"
Ban-Ki Moon—who is not known for a pro-Israel bias—recently confirmed what every objective observer knows to be true: that Hamas uses hospitals and schools as shields from which to launch rocket attacks against Israeli civilians—a double war crime. Here are his words: "We condemn the use of civilian sites – schools, hospitals and other civilian facilities – for military purposes." He was referring, of course, to Hamas, since Israel does not use such civilian facilities to fire rockets. That is why more Palestinians than Israelis have died in recent weeks. During a two day period this past week while dozens of Palestinians and several Israelis were killed, the media failed to report that in neighboring Syria, 700 Arabs and Muslims were killed in just two days of fighting. This constitutes only a tiny fraction of the 160,000 people killed in Syria during the ongoing civil war. According to the Britain-Based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 53,978 civilians have been killed including 8,607 children and 5,586 women. Many if not most of these deaths were deliberate—part of calculated efforts on both sides of the conflict to maximize civilian casualties. Yet this body count has received little notice compared to the far smaller body count in Israel and Gaza. Why is this? Is it because when Arabs and Muslims deliberately kill other Arabs and Muslims, that deserves less attention than when Israelis kill Arabs and Muslims, even in self-defense and in an effort to prevent the murder of their own civilians? If so, this is racism pure and simple, and the application of a noxious double standard. The lives of all human beings have worth, and the death of Arabs and Muslims at the hands of other Arabs and Muslims deserve as much media coverage as the deaths of Arabs and Muslims that are caused by Israel's efforts to protect its own civilians.
The media's exclusive focus on the death toll in Gaza—without explaining that it is largely Hamas' fault and part of its media strategy—incites hatred and anti-Semitism around the world. It has incited violence against Jews and Jewish institutions in many cities. Much of this violence comes from radicals on the hard left and from radical Islamists. But a recent incident in Italy shows that bigoted hate can come from the mouths of intellectuals as well as the fists of rabble rousers. Gianni Vattimo, who has been called Italy's most famous philosopher, recently announced that he would personally, "like to shoot those bastard Zionists," calling them "a bit worse than the Nazis". He said he was planning to launch a fundraising campaign to buy better rockets for Hamas so that this Jew-hating group can kill more Zionists, by which he means Jewish Israelis. He urged European volunteers to join Hamas and fight alongside of them against Israel, as volunteers fought against Franco during the Spanish Civil War. If Vattimo is indeed Italy's most famous philosopher, I cry for the current state of philosophy in a nation that has contributed so much to that field over the millennia. Vattimo reminds me of the intellectual thugs—some of them "eminent" philosophers who provided academic cover and justification for the fascist abuses of Hitler and Mussolini. It is interesting, and perhaps relevant, that Vattimo is a follower of Martin Heidegger, a philosopher who joined the Nazi Party and provided cover for its anti-Semitic policies. Hamas, after all, is an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, which actively supported Hitler during World War II. It is also interesting that Vattimo, who vociferously supports gay rights, would have such hatred for the one country in the Middle East that accords equal rights to gays and be so supportive of Hamas which punishes gays by torture and execution. Obviously his hatred for the nation state of the Jewish people runs deeper than his support for gay rights.
It is a crime under the law of the United States and several European countries to provide material support to designated terrorist groups, of which Hamas is one. Vattimo has committed this crime and might well be banned from travel to the United States and other countries or arrested if he travels to countries that have such laws. The media has a moral obligation to tell the whole truth when it shows the pictures of the dead and counts the bodies on each side. If it fails in this obligation, it becomes complicit in the sins and crimes of bigots such as Vattimo and in the war crimes of Hamas.
Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi
JCPA, July 22, 2014
Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, delivered a revealing speech on March 23, 2014, in which he stressed the strategic importance of the Hamas attack tunnels, which, he argued, have changed the balance of power with Israel, when taken together with his organization’s military build-up. In the meantime, the IDF’s war against the tunnels continues. On Monday IDF forces thwarted another terror attack after two groups of Hamas operatives (numbering about ten) infiltrated from Gaza to Israel through a tunnel, apparently on their way to carry out a mass casualty attack at Kibbutz Erez and/or Kibbutz Nir Am. Since Operation Protective Edge began, IDF forces have foiled several other attempted attacks by Hamas near Kibbutz Sufa and Kibbutz Nirim that also made use of attack tunnels, while uncovering and blowing up dozens of tunnels in Gaza along its border with Israel. These tunnels penetrate deep into Israeli territory, sometimes reaching a length of 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles).
Hamas has accumulated a great deal of experience in using the tunnels for operational purposes. Since 2000, hundreds of tunnels have been dug along Gaza’s border with Egypt, providing a lifeline for Hamas’s military buildup. The tunnels have been a main conduit for Palestinian imports from Egypt on a scale of millions of dollars annually, and for smuggling military supplies (from ammunition to missiles) and the construction materials needed to build the network of attack tunnels in Gaza. Importation through the tunnels (it was in Egypt’s political interest that this be referred to as “smuggling”) was fully controlled by the Hamas government, which levied a tax on the items and used its huge profits to accelerate its military buildup and preparation for hostilities with Israel.
During the Second Intifada, which began in September 2000, Hamas made use of attack tunnels that were dug opposite IDF positions along the Philadelphi Route. These tunnels enabled Hamas to lay powerful explosive charges beside the IDF positions in an effort to destroy them. On June 25, 2006, a joint Hamas/Jaish al-Islam (an al-Qaeda affiliate) unit infiltrated from Gaza to Israel through a tunnel whose opening was about a hundred meters from the border in Israeli territory, near the Kerem Shalom crossing. In that attack, an officer and a soldier were killed and the soldier Gilad Shalit was abducted.
Based on Hizbullah’s experience in the Second Lebanon War, and with the assistance and guidance of Iran, Hamas has also made use of the tunnels to build an underground network of missile launchers. During the Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah greatly expanded its underground fortifications in Southern Lebanon with the aid of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) and even North Korean engineers, who also provided guidance in how to incorporate the tunnels into Hizbullah’s military doctrine. Tunnel warfare provided armies facing a technologically superior adversary with an effective means for countering its air superiority. For example, a tunnel is opened only briefly to launch rockets and then immediately closed to prevent detection of the launchers’ location by the IDF. The concealment of these launchers in tunnels, in the heart of the civilian population, makes it very difficult to detect them in real time and attack them.
The rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt during 2012-2013 was a golden age for Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood. During the tenure of President Mohamed Morsi and his foreign policy adviser Khaled al-Kazaz (a resident of Canada), missiles and a great deal of ammunition moved through the tunnels to Gaza, along with the materials needed to construct plants and manufacture missiles.
In addition to receiving close to half the budget of the Palestinian Authority, the economic aid the Hamas government received from international actors, including European countries, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, has helped it channel significant resources to its military buildup and the construction of the attack tunnels. Also of help to Hamas were Israeli and international human rights organizations, which constantly pressured Israel to allow the entry of cement and iron into Gaza for purposes of civilian construction. In reality, these materials mainly went into building the attack-tunnel network, instead of houses for the Palestinians.
The attack tunnels create a new equation in the power balance between Israel and Hamas. They give Hamas an ability to infiltrate Israel and carry out strategic attacks involving mass killing, along with an ability to launch missiles from locations concealed within civilian population centers that serve, in effect, as human shields. Should Hamas retain in the future 20 tunnels, and dispatch 50 operatives in each, they could deploy 1,000 men behind Israeli lines. The tunnels would allow Hamas to wreak havoc if they are left in place. Hizbullah’s tactics, learned from Iran, have been replicated in Gaza, particularly the use of the tunnels to provide “breathing space” in waging the military campaign. The Hamas-Hizbullah-Iranian aim is to cause as much harm as possible to the civilian population and weaken Israel by damaging its economy. Like Hizbullah, Hamas in the current round has tried to strike strategic targets in Israel and inflict mass casualties, including the nuclear reactor in Dimona, the chemical plants in Haifa, and Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Despite the reconciliation agreement with Fatah and the establishment of the unity government, one of Hamas’s objectives in the war is to ignite another intifada on the West Bank aimed ultimately at the toppling of Palestinian Authority rule and instituting a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian national movement. This current round of fighting highlights the importance of continued Israeli security control of key areas of the West Bank to prevent a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian Authority, and the maintenance of minimal defensible borders should a Palestinian state be established.
In Calgary, Pro-Israel Protester Reportedly Strangled With Israeli Flag; Syrian Refugee Compares Violence to ISIS (VIDEO): Joshua Levitt, Algemeiner, July 23, 2014 —A pro-Hamas rally in Calgary, Canada, turned violent at the weekend, with a report of the extent of the brutality against supporters of Israel published on Wednesday by a dissident blogger who equated the hatred on display as being on par with what he experienced fleeing the civil war in Homs, Syria.
UN Emergency Session on Gaza: Hillel Neuer Speaks Out (Video): UNWatch, July 23, 2014 —The Palestinian ambassador to the UNHRC, together with Iran, Syria, Egypt, Cuba and Venezuela tried but failed to silence UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer during today's UN Emergency Session on Gaza, as he defended Israel's right to resist Hamas aggression, and called out the hypocrisy of those who initiated the biased proceeding.
Levin to Stewart: If Hamas Had Weapons Israel Has, 'Israel Would Cease to Exist' (Video): Michael W. Chapman, CNS News, July 23, 2014—Conservative talk-radio host Mark Levin strongly criticized comedian and quasi-news commentator Jon Stewart for his acerbic jokes and comments concerning Hamas's ongoing missile attacks against Israel, stating that "if Hamas had the weaponry that Israel had," then "Israel would cease to exist."
Baird Disappointed That UN Human Rights Council Ignores Hamas’s Terrorist Attacks: Department of Foreign Affairs, July 23, 2013—Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement after the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) once again singled out Israel while not even mentioning Hamas and its continued terrorist operations…
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