Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
L'institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaisme
Strength of Israel will not lie

Tag: Hamas

IDF INVESTIGATES GAZA OPERATION WHILE JEWISH STATE PREPARES FOR NEXT CONFRONTATION

IDF Opens Probes into Gaza Special Ops Raid that Went Awry: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Nov. 27, 2018 — The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday announced it was launching two separate investigations into an operation that went awry in the Gaza Strip earlier this month…

Israel’s Next Northern War: Operational and Legal Challenges: Michael Hostage & Geoffrey Corn, Real Clear Defense, Nov. 3, 2018 — Hezbollah has threatened Israel’s northern border for decades.

Why Japan is Building its Military, Fast: David J. Bercuson, National Post, Nov. 6, 2018— With 18 diesel electric submarines, four so-called “helicopter destroyers” that look suspiciously like small aircraft carriers, 43 destroyers and destroyer escorts, 25 minesweepers and training ships, fleet oilers, submarine rescue ships and other vessels, Japan’s navy…

The INF Treaty Hamstrings the U.S. Trump is Right to Leave It.: Elbridge Colby, Washington Post, Oct. 23— The Trump administration has announced that it plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987.

On Topic Links

Israeli Air Force Holds First-Ever Combat Rescue Drill With Six Other Forces: Yaakov Lappin, JNS, Nov. 26, 2018

Looking at the Gaza Strip: From Short Term to Long Term: Kim Lavi, Udi Dekel, INSS, Nov. 20, 2018

Hezbollah Firepower Exceeds 95% of World’s Conventional Armies, Report Says: Sean Savage, JNS, Nov. 9, 2018

In the Middle East, You Win With Fear: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, Nov. 13, 2018

                             

IDF OPENS PROBES INTO GAZA

SPECIAL OPS RAID THAT WENT AWRY                                                                 

Judah Ari Gross                                                                                                  

Times of Israel, Nov. 27, 2018

The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday announced it was launching two separate investigations into an operation that went awry in the Gaza Strip earlier this month in which special forces soldiers were exposed by Hamas operatives, leading to a firefight in which one Israeli officer and seven Palestinian gunmen were killed. In response to the raid and the deaths of its men, the terror group launched a massive three-day attack on Israel, along with other terror groups in the Strip, firing some 500 rockets and mortar shells at Israeli cities and towns near the Gaza border and leading Israel to the brink of war.

On the night of November 11, Israeli special forces soldiers entered the Gaza Strip on an intelligence-gathering raid, the details of which remain under a strict gag order by the military censor. According to Hamas officials, the Israeli soldiers were from the Sayeret Matkal elite reconnaissance unit and entered the coastal enclave through a proper border crossing, either Israel’s Erez Crossing or Egypt’s Rafah. They were said to have been driving through Gaza in civilian vans, approximately three kilometers (two miles) from the border. Israel has not confirmed any of the claims.

During the mission, the unit was stopped and searched at a Hamas checkpoint, and were initially believed to be Palestinian criminals, according to recordings of the terror group’s radio chatter, transcripts of which were published by Hadashot news. At a certain point, the Israeli troops opened fire on the Hamas gunmen, prompting a gun battle. An Israeli lieutenant colonel — who can only be identified by the first Hebrew letter of his name, “Mem” — was killed and another officer, who went back to recover Mem’s body, was wounded. The special forces unit beat a rapid retreat from the coastal enclave, calling in airstrikes for cover and a helicopter evacuation from the elite search-and-rescue Unit 669.

According to the army, one investigation will be conducted within Military Intelligence. The findings will be presented to the head of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Tamir Hyman and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. The military said an initial probe was expected to be completed within the coming weeks. In addition, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon — the former head of IDF Operations — was also charged with a wider investigation into how the army conducts such raids. Alon was instructed to lead a team to “examine and study the challenges and [make] recommendations at the level of the General Staff, of multiple army branches and of the inter-organizational cooperation between different special forces,” the army said.

The Hamas terror group is conducting its own investigation into the Israeli raid. Last week, Hamas published photographs of eight people that it says were involved in the raid. The photographs were distributed on social media along with the email address and two phone numbers of the terror group’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in order to allow people to provide information about the operation. The phone numbers stopped working later in the day.

Pictures of the two cars allegedly used by the Israeli special forces soldiers during the raid were also published. Though freely available on the internet, the photographs could not be published by Israeli media by order of the military censor. The censor approved the publication of the pixelated photograph used in this article.

In a highly irregular public statement, the censor also called on Israelis not to share any information they have about the raid, even if they think it benign. “Hamas is working now to interpret and understand the event that occurred within Gaza on November 11, and every piece of information, even if it is considered by the publisher as harmless, is liable to endanger human lives and damage the security of the state,” the censor said. Hamas officials are said to view the gun battle as a failure, because their primary goal — according to a Hadashot news report — was to capture the IDF soldiers who had placed themselves so near Hamas’s grasp.

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ISRAEL’S NEXT NORTHERN WAR:

OPERATIONAL AND LEGAL CHALLENGES

Michael Hostage & Geoffrey Corn

Real Clear Defense, Nov. 3, 2018

Hezbollah has threatened Israel’s northern border for decades. Today, however, the nature of this threat has become dire, and the risks of escalation real, as Iran continues supplying Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon with game-changing weapons to devastate the Israeli homeland.

When the next conflict erupts between Israel and Hezbollah, its scale and intensity will bear little resemblance to those of recent memory. Hezbollah today is highly competent, adaptable and lethal. Its forces have gained invaluable battlefield experience in Syria and amassed more weaponry than 95 percent of the world’s conventional militaries, including at least 120,000 rockets and missiles. This is more than all of Europe’s NATO members combined, and ten times as many as when it last went to war with Israel in 2006.

Especially troubling is Hezbollah’s growing arsenal of powerful long-range precision missiles capable of striking targets throughout Israel. Unlike in recent conflicts, Israel’s missile defenses will be incapable of shielding the nation from such a threat. From the outset of conflict, Hezbollah will be able to sustain a launch rate of more than 3,000 missiles per day – as many as Israel faced in the entire 34-day conflict in 2006.

Despite this quantum leap in its capabilities, Hezbollah is under no illusion about its ability to inflict military defeat on Israel. It will not seek victory in the valleys of Lebanon or the skies over Israel, but in the court of public opinion. To do so, it will use combat operations to lay the groundwork for an information campaign delegitimizing Israel. Two tactics will be central to Hezbollah’s efforts: first, deliberately attacking Israeli civilian population centers to compel an aggressive response by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF); second, illegally exploiting the presence of Lebanese civilians to shield itself from IDF attack.

Hezbollah will then manipulate the inevitable casualties by relying on widespread misperceptions about the true nature of combat operations and how international law (the law of armed conflict, or LOAC) regulates such operations. It will use the inevitable images of civilian suffering in Lebanon to portray Israel’s lawful operations as immoral and illegal. By weaponizing information and the law, Hezbollah will seek to force Israel to halt its self-defense campaign before the IDF can achieve decisive victory.

This is the increasingly prevalent face of hybrid warfare, where law-abiding militaries confront non-state actors like Hezbollah who blend robust combat capabilities and unlawful tactics with sophisticated information operations. This difficult reality is highlighted in a new report by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America’s (JINSA) Hybrid Warfare Task Force, which examines the significant operational and legal challenges Israel will confront when it is compelled to engage Hezbollah and potentially other regional adversaries including Iran.

A key finding is that Hezbollah’s intentional emplacement of rockets, missiles and other vital military assets in villages and cities throughout Lebanon will increase risks to innocent civilians. To gain strategic advantage, Hezbollah will exploit the common – but erroneous – assumption that Israel, by virtue of attacking these sites, must be acting unlawfully, even when the unfortunate effects of these attacks are rendered unavoidable by Hezbollah’s deliberate and illegal use of human shields. This dilemma for Israel is further complicated by our expectation that the IDF will be compelled to undertake large-scale, aggressive operations to neutralize as much of Hezbollah’s rocket threat as possible before it is ever employed.

This will include ground operations deep into Lebanon. In addition to their sheer scale, the nature of such operations in towns and villages will magnify the likelihood of collateral damage and civilian casualties. This will also make it much more difficult for the IDF to utilize the extensive and often innovative measures to mitigate risks to civilians that have been commonplace during more limited operations – for example, warnings and providing civilians time to evacuate before an attack.

Despite these challenges, our task force found an IDF fully committed to compliance with the LOAC, knowing full well Hezbollah seeks to exploit this very same commitment. We worry, however, that the nature of a major combined arms operation will contribute to the operational and legal misperceptions that are so adeptly exploited by enemies like Hezbollah, resulting in false condemnation of Israel from the international public, media and many states.

How this story plays out for Israel will have reverberating effects for other professional militaries, including our own. Unless the challenges of such operations become more widely understood, with more credible assessments of legality, morality and legitimacy, others will be incentivized to replicate Hezbollah’s perverse tactics.

Ultimately, this requires a greater appreciation of the realities of combat against hybrid adversaries. It also requires a greater appreciation for how the LOAC strikes a rational balance between civilian protection and military effectiveness. Nowhere will these considerations be more apparent – and more consequential – than in Israel’s next conflict with Hezbollah.

 

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WHY JAPAN IS BUILDING ITS MILITARY, FAST                                                                 

David J. Bercuson

National Post, Nov. 6, 2018

With 18 diesel electric submarines, four so-called “helicopter destroyers” that look suspiciously like small aircraft carriers, 43 destroyers and destroyer escorts, 25 minesweepers and training ships, fleet oilers, submarine rescue ships and other vessels, Japan’s navy — the Maritime Self-Defense Force — is the second largest in Asia and one of the largest in the world. It is also highly advanced technologically and is growing all the time. The two 27,000 ton Izumo-class helicopter destroyers, the largest in the fleet, with flat flight decks and islands on the starboard side of the vessels, are small compared to the United States Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carriers (approximately 100,000 tons) or Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers (65,000 tons). But if equipped with the new short-take-off-and-vertical-landing F-35B stealth fighter they will still pack a powerful punch. And Japan is considering adding more of these aircraft carriers to its fleet and advanced U.S.-style Aegis class destroyers, capable of shooting down medium-range ballistic missiles.

The irony in all of this is that Japan’s post Second World War constitution still contains a provision — Article 9 — that prohibits it from possessing any offensive military capability. In the early 1950s, Japan began to build its self-defence forces and now has a powerful navy, a modern medium-sized air force that will soon fly the F-35 along with specially built F-15s, alongside more than 300 fighter aircraft and 50,000 personnel, and a growing land army and marine sea landing capability.

Are these military assets “defensive” in nature? Partly, but aircraft carriers, high-speed destroyers, modern fighter aircraft and assault ships are surely as offensive as they are defensive. And Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made it plain that in less than two years, he intends to seek to change the Japanese constitution to drastically curtail any obligation Japan has to maintain a purely defensive capability. In other words, he will ask the Japanese people and legislature to bless what Japan has already done. That could be more problematic than people realize.

Like Germany, Japan suffered greatly in the Second World War. Virtually all its great cities were levelled either with atomic bombs (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) or fire raids that were carried out by giant B-29 bombers at low altitude at night. The attacks burned the heart out of Japan’s cities. In March 1945, 100,000 people were killed in one night in a fire raid on Tokyo and many acres of the city were burned to the ground. Submarine blockades of Japan drastically curtailed food and fuel supplies. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese soldiers were killed either in the United States’ march across the Pacific or in the Russian invasion of Manchuria near the end of the war. Japan was a prostrate nation by the end of 1945 and its ancient system of government was a shambles.

The result of this terrible defeat was the rise of pacifist thinking throughout Japan. Having suffered from military defeat, few Japanese were interested any longer in military adventurism. At the same time democracy took root under the American occupation of Japan. To give but one example, although women still endure many disadvantages in Japan — as they do here also — the Americans forced the Japanese to accept women as fully equal in civil rights and political authority. Japanese industry re-grew and although Japan is no longer the second largest economy in the world — it was recently surpassed by China — it is still a highly technologically advanced economy turning out everything from advanced motor vehicles to high-quality TV sets and computers. Prime Minister Abe is a strong supporter of free trade as are most of the political hierarchy of Japan.

Why then would the Japanese people support a militarization of their country? We need look no further than the bellicose growth of Chinese nationalism and the recent moves by the Chinese to dominate the South and East China Seas in the way that the United States dominates the Caribbean. The Chinese have made no secret of their ambition with the creation of artificial islands that now host air bases, anti-aircraft missiles, and Chinese “coast guard” vessels that though mostly painted white (as coast guard vessels generally are), mount naval-style guns on their foredecks.

Japan is heavily dependent on sea transport, especially for fuel oil and natural gas, that comes from the Middle East via the Strait of Malacca and the Formosa Strait. With the U.S. under President Donald Trump adopting an increasing isolationist tone, Japan, like Australia and other nations in the region, will have to put more assets into their own defence.

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THE INF TREATY HAMSTRINGS THE U.S. TRUMP IS RIGHT TO LEAVE IT.          Elbridge Colby                       

Washington Post, Oct. 23

The Trump administration has announced that it plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987. This treaty banned the United States and Russia from possessing any ground-launched ballistic and cruise missile systems with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (300 to 3,400 miles). The administration’s decision is sure to elicit a cacophony of criticism, but the truth is that the United States should no longer tolerate the INF status quo. The reasons basically boil down to two: Russia appears unwilling to give up the systems that violate INF (meaning INF is essentially a dead letter), and, more important, the United States no longer benefits from a ban on ground-based intermediate-range systems — but because of China, not Russia.

This is not to downplay the importance of INF. The treaty played a major role in enabling and locking in the diminution of tensions that ended the Cold War. In particular, it eliminated all of the Soviet Union’s SS-20 intermediate-range missiles, which posed a particularly pressing threat to NATO’s defenses in the 1970s and 1980s.

This was all well and to the good. But today is another day. Russia is no longer abiding by the treaty, and Moscow gives no indication of being open to coming back into compliance. The treaty has therefore become a one-way arrangement: The United States is abiding by it, but Russia is not.

This would not by itself be a compelling argument for withdrawal, because the United States does not require INF-restricted systems for effective deterrence and defense in Europe, and staying in the treaty highlights Russia’s perfidy. The United States and its NATO allies must take steps to improve their defense posture against Russia, but noncompliant systems are not necessary to do this. Since the Russian threat is more modest in scale than the Soviet one was, the United States could meet the need by investing in better penetrating strike aircraft and munitions, sea- and undersea-launched missiles, improved ground-based fires, more resilient basing, better logistics, more effective and affordable air and missile defense, and the like.

Rather, the most compelling reason for withdrawal is that the United States could materially improve the military balance against China in East Asia by developing and deploying INF-noncompliant systems. China poses a much larger and more sophisticated long-term military threat than Russia, and U.S. strike options are more constrained by the geography of the Pacific. Washington would benefit from having the ability to deploy survivable land-based ballistic and cruise missile systems to provide a larger, more diverse and resilient greater strike capability in the event of a conflict in the western Pacific.

The United States is currently complying with a treaty unilaterally and suffering for it — albeit in a different theater. It was worth spending several years trying to bring Russia back in compliance, but that course has clearly failed. Now is as good a time as any to adapt our arms-control architecture to our strategic needs. Many will argue that leaving the INF treaty is tantamount to tearing down the late-Cold War arms-control architecture, thus bringing the world to the nuclear brink. But such statements are gross exaggerations. First, INF did not need to be a disarmament treaty; most arms control treaties involve ceilings rather than bans, as well as transparency and inspections. There is nothing inherently destabilizing about INF systems. In reality, it was likely that then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev simply wanted to reduce the economic burden imposed by the Soviet military, and getting rid of INF systems was a convenient way to do that.

Second, if anyone should be calling for withdrawal, it should be the disarmament community. For those who look at arms control as a useful strategic tool but not a panacea, violations are important but not existential, because resting a nation’s security on arms control would be foolhardy in the first place. It is disarmers who argue that we should put our faith in treaties — but if there is no consequence for violating them, what hope is there for disarmament?

All that this means, however, is that there is a middle course open. Russia clearly believes it needs INF systems, and the United States could benefit from them in Asia. A revised INF that regionalized the treaty and replaced the ban with ceilings and transparency measures, as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty does with strategic systems, is therefore a natural area of potential agreement. Ending up there could make sense for all parties.

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On Topic Links

Israeli Air Force Holds First-Ever Combat Rescue Drill With Six Other Forces: Yaakov Lappin, JNS, Nov. 26, 2018—In the first international drill of its kind, the Israeli Air Force hosted six foreign air forces for an helicopter combat search-and-rescue drill in November.

Looking at the Gaza Strip: From Short Term to Long Term: Kim Lavi, Udi Dekel, INSS, Nov. 20, 2018—In the most recent escalation between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the message conveyed by both parties was that they are not interested in paying the price of a war that will ultimately return them to square one.

Hezbollah Firepower Exceeds 95% of World’s Conventional Armies, Report Says: Sean Savage, JNS, Nov. 9, 2018—Israel and Hezbollah have been adversaries for decades now, dating back to the Jewish state’s involvement in the Lebanese civil war.

In the Middle East, You Win With Fear: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, Nov. 13, 2018—The past six months have brought us violent demonstrations along the Gaza Strip border, cross-border infiltrations, rocket fire and incendiary kites and balloons. This means that a so-called “agreement” or truce is not a viable option.

HAMAS WANTED ESCALATION WITH ISRAEL DURING LATEST ROCKET BARRAGE, BUT BIBI “PREVENTED UNNECESSARY WAR”

Will History Repeat Itself if the Right Brings Down a Likud Government?: Jeff Barak, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 18, 2018— Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu knows his history: Whenever a Likud-run government has been brought down by its erstwhile allies on the Right, the Left has returned to power.

Why Israel Doesn’t Want a War With Gaza: Mudar Zahran, American Thinker, Nov. 16, 2018 — The Israeli people are rarely as angry with their political leadership as they are today – and the reason for their anger is clear: they believe that their leadership has failed to take decisive military action against the terrorist group Hamas in Gaza.

What is Hamas’s End-Game? Escalation Control: Dan Feferman, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 15, 2018— I almost entitled this piece “Hamas, What the Hell?!” but I thought better of it.

Palestinians Arresting Women; Where are the Media?: Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute, Nov. 19, 2018 — Last August, the Palestinian Authority (PA) protested because Israel arrested a Palestinian woman from Hebron on charges of incitement and affiliation with Hamas.

On Topic Links

Let Me Get On With My Job: How Netanyahu Dwarfed his Political Rivals Within: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, Nov. 19, 2018

How Hamas Brought Israel to the Brink of Election Chaos: Seth J. Frantzman, National Interest, Nov. 16, 2018

Liberman: Bennett Flip-Flop Shows Why Hamas is Emboldened: Stuart Winer, Times of Israel, Nov. 19, 2018

The Israeli Security Concept: Wandering Through a Maze: Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, BESA, Nov. 15, 2018

                   

WILL HISTORY REPEAT ITSELF IF THE

RIGHT BRINGS DOWN A LIKUD GOVERNMENT?                                                                             Jeff Barak                                                           

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 18, 2018 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu knows his history: Whenever a Likud-run government has been brought down by its erstwhile allies on the Right, the Left has returned to power. Hence his determination to recapture control of his coalition and not be seen as having been forced into elections in March.

If there are to be early elections, it is crucial for the prime minister’s positioning that he is the person pulling the plug on his government, at a time of his own choosing, as opposed to losing a no-confidence vote in the Knesset and being kicked out of office.

In 1992, the hardline Yitzhak Shamir had to bring forward the date of the elections after two small right-wing parties left his coalition to protest against a plan to grant autonomy to the Palestinian population in West Bank and Gaza Strip. Fought against a background of a poorly performing economy, no progress in the peace process, and public protests against institutional corruption (unlike our present prime minister, Shamir himself was famed for his frugal lifestyle and disinterest in money), Yitzhak Rabin succeeded in forming the first Labor-led coalition for 15 years.

Seven years later, Netanyahu shared a similar fate to Shamir. Unable to win the right wing’s support for the Wye Agreement, which promised further Israeli withdrawals from populated areas in the West Bank, Netanyahu lost a vote of no confidence in the Knesset, forcing his government to disband. In the resultant elections, Netanyahu was decisively beaten by Labor’s Ehud Barak and turned out of office.

Avigdor Liberman’s resignation as defense minister threatens Netanyahu with a repeat performance of 1992 and 1999. Yet again, a Likud prime minister is being undermined by a political ally to the right of him. Liberman’s charge that Israel capitulated to terrorism in agreeing to a ceasefire with Hamas after the Palestinians fired almost 500 rockets into Israel is a deadly missile attack on Netanyahu’s credentials as Israel’s Mr. Security.

Netanyahu has always promised his supporters a vigorous response to Palestinian terrorism, but his current premiership has been marked by a surprising and welcome pragmatism. On the eve of the most recent round of fighting in Gaza, Netanyahu was busy telling reporters he was doing everything in his power “to prevent an unnecessary war.” On a national level, his decision to follow through on this by seeking a ceasefire and not stepping up Israel’s reaction to Hamas’ rocket attacks was the correct one to make, although it will cost him politically.

Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi gave the game away as to Netanyahu’s thinking, with his unscripted remarks that Hamas’ rocket attacks were “minor” in the sense they were not targeted at Tel Aviv. Unpalatable as this truth is, there is a huge difference in terms of the country’s national interest between rockets disturbing Israeli life in Gaza Strip periphery communities and one blowing up a plane on the runway at Ben Gurion Airport. Opposition politicians sanctimoniously declaring otherwise are guilty of shameless political cynicism.

Nevertheless, a prime minister cannot afford to be seen as weak on countering terrorism. Liberman’s resignation, combined with Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett’s constant attacks on the IDF’s weak response to events in Gaza, will inevitably erode Netanyahu’s standing among his base. The demonstrations against the ceasefire in the Likud-supporting heartland of Sderot will definitely have set off the political warning bells in the prime minister’s Balfour Street residence.

On top of this, Netanyahu also risks fighting early elections at exactly the time when Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is liable to make his decision regarding an indictment in the various corruption cases surrounding the prime minister. Despite the prime minister’s insistent denials there is nothing to these charges, he certainly does not want to be going to the polls under the cloud of a criminal indictment.

But unlike 1992 or 1999, Netanyahu is not facing a serious opponent with real leadership credentials. As former IDF chiefs of staff, both Rabin and Barak could outperform Netanyahu in the security arena. Both men also offered the country a chance of real change, which Rabin delivered with the breakthrough Oslo Agreements with the PLO and Barak with his courageous unilateral withdrawal of the IDF from Lebanon.

Unfortunately, there is no one in today’s opposition with a similar profile to either Rabin or Barak, nor is there one dominant party able to challenge the Likud’s standing as Israel’s largest party.

Now that Liberman has fired the first bullet in the 2019 election campaign, Israel’s center and center-left parties have a short window of opportunity to rally behind one leader – a returning Ehud Barak? Tzipi Livni? (Yair Lapid is too lightweight for the role and Avi Gabbai is a political nonentity) – and form one party to rival the Likud and bring down Binyamin Netanyahu. If they fail to do so, then Netanyahu will most likely break the pattern of 1992 and 1999 and re-emerge as the country’s next prime minister, despite having lost the support of his right-wing allies.         

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WHY ISRAEL DOESN’T WANT A WAR WITH GAZA

Mudar Zahran

American Thinker, Nov. 16, 2018

The Israeli people are rarely as angry with their political leadership as they are today – and the reason for their anger is clear: they believe that their leadership has failed to take decisive military action against the terrorist group Hamas in Gaza.

As witnessed by the world a few days ago, Hamas began shooting rockets at southern Israeli towns and villages. In total, more than 500 rockets were launched, and in response, Israel undertook very precise, decisive and surgical military air strikes, hitting some of Hamas’s most significant facilities and military installations. This brought about a very quick cease-fire, a cease-fire that has come as a disappointment for many Israelis – especially those who bore the brunt of the attacks. Apparently, the Israeli public wanted military actions that would either annihilate Hamas, or, at least, serve as a deterrent that would force it to stop shooting rockets into Israel.

The call for tough military action against Hamas is so strong that Netanyahu’s Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, resigned in protest after the Prime Minister settled for a quick cease-fire despite Hamas’s defiance, millions of dollars in damage, and more financial support from Iran. Apparently, the Israeli public was further provoked when they saw Hamas celebrating the ceasefire, jubilantly declaring it a “victory” against Israel specifically, and Jews, generally. While militant Hamas operatives celebrated, many Israeli politicians, writers, and commentators are fed up and spitting bullets over what they perceive as the Prime Minister’s inherent weakness in combating terrorism. As a result, hundreds of Israelis from the targeted southern villages protested publicly against the ceasefire.

While the anger of many Israelis is understandable, the facts on the ground clearly explain Netanyahu’s decision to agree to a quick ceasefire – a ceasefire that saved lives on both sides. Simply put, Hamas wants war. It is my experience that when an enemy is so determined to get into an armed conflict, one must be very careful not to give the enemy what they want. Additionally, we have to realize this: those pushing the Hamas buttons are heavily financed by Iran, through the mother group, the Muslim Brotherhood, who is also deeply in bed with Iran. Therefore, it is no stretch of the imagination as to why Hamas started provoking Israel: The military actions started shortly after US sanctions on Iran took effect. In fact, unprovoked, Hamas did not have any apparent reason to start fighting; to the contrary, things were going well for Hamas.  On the very day Hamas began firing rockets, they received $15 Million from Saudi Arabia and $60 Million from Qatar to pay its public servants who have not received pay checks. As a result, a joyous atmosphere was dominant in Gaza.

At this point, evidence shows that it is safe to say that Hamas operates upon orders from its Iranian mentors. Iran is already feeling the pain caused by the US-imposed sanctions, and with more sanctions likely to come in the future, they are lashing out – and Israel is their best bet to rally support for them. In other words, Iran needs a war as a diversion from its predicaments, and to tell the US that it could cause trouble and must be left alone, otherwise full scale war will break out.

That said, Netanyahu clearly could have launched a war that would have brought him tremendous public support and strengthened his political position with the Israeli public. Nonetheless he did not give in to public pressure, and did what he felt was right based on military intelligence, because he knew the outcome would hurt Israel’s interest in the long run. The world has to recognize that if Iran got the war it wanted, it would have been the best thing that could happen for them. To make matters worse, their puppets in Hamas really don’t care how many of my people are killed in the process. That is because their terrorist leaders are millionaires hiding in bunkers. In other words, Hamas didn’t have much to lose, while Iran had a lot to gain – and Netanyahu understands this.

On the other hand, Hamas fulfilled its ‘handshake agreement’ with their bosses, and eventually agreed to a ceasefire, against their wishes. In support of this, an Egyptian military intelligence source confided in me yesterday, saying that Egypt conveyed a stern message to Hamas. He told me that the message said the following: “Unless you stop, President Trump will allow Israel to annihilate you”. This scared Hamas to the core, and forced them to agree to the ceasefire.

As for Netanyahu, he has risked his public approval ratings and political career for the sake of his nation’s interest. This is true diplomacy and should be supported around the world.  As an Arab, Palestinian, Jordanian and a Muslim, I could not help but think how Arab leaders regularly sacrifice their people for political gain while an Israeli leader is risking his entire political career to save his people. This…is the difference between a politician, and a statesman.

 

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WHAT IS HAMAS’S END-GAME? ESCALATION CONTROL                                      

Dan Feferman

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 15, 2018

I almost entitled this piece “Hamas, What the Hell?!” but I thought better of it. So, I’ll ask in another way: What is Hamas’s end-game? The answer is: escalation control. In recent months, Hamas has encouraged tens of thousands of miserable and frustrated Gazans to vent their domestic anger not at them, but rather at the Gaza-Israel border. Protesters cut through the fence, torched thousands of tires, threw rocks, shot at soldiers and then realized they can terrorize Israel, Iron Dome and all, with kites and children’s balloons hooked up to flaming Molotov cocktails.

Why? To pressure Israel to relax the blockade it currently maintains on Gaza, together with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The ruthless and crafty terrorist-group-turned-government of the coastal enclave well understands that Israel will not commit mass killing of mostly unarmed Palestinians on its border and that despite its technological and military superiority, it has not yet found an answer to floating fire bombs and favorable winds. Hamas is also well aware that Israel – despite the bluster of its far-right politicians – has no interest in another war in Gaza, and certainly has no interest in reconquering the strip and establishing military control. Hamas well understands that for Israel, it is the lesser evil of many bad options in Gaza.

According to press reports and official comments from Israeli officials, the sides finally reached an agreement recently (through third-party mediators, of course) for a long-term cease-fire in which the protests, balloons and rockets would stop in exchange for Hamas gaining access to a port of its own (possibly in Cyprus), work permits for Gazans to enter Israel, and a relaxation on the embargo. The last piece of the puzzle included Egyptian pressure on the Palestinian Authority to allow such a dynamic, despite that it would grant Hamas the legitimacy it so craves while sidelining Ramallah, pushing it further away from its illusory control over what happens in Gaza. Just to make sure, Hamas also demanded last week, in full mafia form (and got) Israel to accept and even help facilitate the transfer of $15 million in cash (literally, three suitcases in a car) each month from Qatar to help pay Hamas salaries, after Ramallah stopped paying those. Electricity in the Strip is already up from four to eight hours a day since Qatari cash and fuel began entering the impoverished territory through Israel.

So, if Hamas got what it wanted, what does it get from such an unprecedented escalation (Hamas fired more rockets in one day than ever before)? And why now? What the hell, Hamas?! The short answer is: Escalation control, and because it can. While Hamas’s leadership has begrudgingly accepted that they will not be able to defeat and destroy Israel in the conceivable future, they are also acutely aware that Israel will do almost anything to avoid a full-on invasion of Gaza that would result in toppling Hamas’s rule. Such an operation would be extremely costly in Israeli lives, could take many months if not longer to restore order, and would draw significant international criticism as it would most likely result in thousands of Palestinian casualties. While many Israelis say they are in favor of such an operation now, it would become increasingly politically unpopular as the months go by and the casualty count inevitably climbs.

Since Hamas wrested control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007, it has instigated three extended conflicts against Israel, characterized by rocket and mortar fire and the digging and utilization of terror tunnels. Having largely neutralized these threats through technological innovation, Israel retaliated each time through aerial and artillery strikes, carefully choosing targets either for their symbolic or military value. The aim in each round of fighting has been to limit Hamas’s war-making ability, reestablish deterrence, and gain escalation control. In other words, Israel has aimed to set the rules of the game; Hamas sought to challenge those rules and establish rules of its own. The two sides, despite a total asymmetry of capabilities, have stumbled, more or less, onto the same playing field. Rockets beget air strikes – that is agreed. But as it turns out, rockets and mortars fired on Israeli border communities beget symbolic air strikes against pinpoint targets replete with advanced warnings (“knock on the roof”) to minimize civilian casualties, or only against the launch-team. Rockets at Ashkelon equal more significant air strikes against high-value targets (as happened last night – Israel struck 160 targets). Hamas already warned the next phase will be to extend rockets to Beersheba and Ashdod, which would invite targeting even higher value targets. Rockets on Tel Aviv will force the ground invasion neither side wants. Apparently, attempts to breach the border fence or incendiary balloons do not pass the threshold for a serious Israeli retaliation. Hamas already succeeded in establishing those rules and Israel has, more or less, accepted them.

According to the IDF Spokesperson, a covert Israeli military unit on a routine mission over the weekend deep in Gaza stumbled upon a Hamas force, resulting in a fire fight in which a senior Israeli officer and seven Hamas members, including a senior military figure were killed. So why risk a major escalation now that could cancel all the significant gains Hamas made? Simple. The 460 rockets fired into Israel, including an anti-tank missile that hit a bus (that just minutes before was full of young soldiers) are Hamas trying to gain an upper hand in the game for escalation control. An Israeli military operation deep in Gaza that ends up killing a senior Hamas leader equals hundreds of rockets, and Hamas wants to make sure Israel thinks twice before trying that again. As the sides reportedly reach a fragile cease-fire to end this two-day exchange, it seems that so far, and at least this time, Hamas has succeeded in controlling the escalation scale, and thus further weakening Israeli deterrence. Until next time.

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PALESTINIANS ARRESTING WOMEN; WHERE ARE THE MEDIA?                                       Bassam Tawil

Gatestone Institute, Nov. 19, 2018

Last August, the Palestinian Authority (PA) protested because Israel arrested a Palestinian woman from Hebron on charges of incitement and affiliation with Hamas. The 42-year-old woman, Lama Khater, is also known as a strong critic of the President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority. Khater’s scathing attacks on Abbas and his government, however, did not stop the Palestinian Authority from condemning Israel and demanding her immediate release.

This was not the first time that the Palestinian Authority has condemned Israel for arresting a Palestinian woman who voiced criticism of Abbas and his policies. Last year, the Palestinian Authority condemned Israel for arresting Khaleda Jarrar, a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, one of several PLO terrorist groups. Jarrar was arrested by Israel for membership in a terrorist group and incitement.

The incidents concerning Khater and Jarrar came to mind this week as Palestinian sources revealed that Mahmoud Abbas’s security forces in the West Bank arrested two Palestinian women. The first woman, Majdoleen Marab’eh, was arrested in the West Bank city of Qalqilya after she criticized the Palestinian Authority’s controversial social security law. The law, which has sparked a wave of protests among Palestinians, calls for deducting 7% of private sector employees’ monthly salaries for a social-security fund and setting the retirement age for men and women at 60 years.

The second woman recently arrested by the Palestinian security forces is Suha Jbara, a mother of three from a village near Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinians in the West Bank. According to Palestinian sources, the 31-year-old Jbara was arrested on November 2, when more than 25 Palestinian security officers raided her home and arrested her in front of her three children. The sources said she was suspected of transferring donations collected from Palestinians in the West Bank to the families of Palestinians killed and wounded by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip.

Her father, Badran, said she was first taken to a Palestinian Authority detention center in Ramallah where, after a brief interrogation, she was transferred to the PA’s notorious Jericho Prison. He said that although his daughter suffers from a heart disease, she has been denied medical treatment and was being held in harsh conditions. A lawyer appointed by her family has since been banned from seeing her. Jbara’s family has expressed deep concern about her health. “We’re very concerned about her condition because she’s being held in harsh conditions,” the family complained. “Her three children, aged 12, 9 and 8, have since been crying, and are refusing to eat and go to school.”

“In the past few days, there is widespread outrage on social media over the arrest of Suha Jbara,” said Obada Subeih in a blog in the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera network. “Undoubtedly, the Palestinian Authority has become a heavy burden on the Palestinian people. The charges attributed to her are a moral scandal for the Palestinian security forces and the Palestinian political leadership in Ramallah.” Several Palestinians took to social media to express extreme consternation over the arrest of Jbara, and described her imprisonment as “disgraceful.” They also launched several hashtags demanding her release and calling on the International community to exert pressure on the Palestinian Authority to stop targeting women. These appeals, however, have thus far fallen on deaf ears. The Palestinian media in the West Bank, which is directly and indirectly controlled by Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, has ignored the arrest of the two women…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.] 

Contents

On Topic Links

Let Me Get On With My Job: How Netanyahu Dwarfed his Political Rivals Within: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, Nov. 19, 2018 —It was over for Benjamin Netanyahu. He’d agreed on an informal truce with Hamas after 500 rockets had been fired at Israel, and his defense minister, the volatile Avigdor Liberman, had resigned in a seething firestorm of anger and recrimination.

How Hamas Brought Israel to the Brink of Election Chaos: Seth J. Frantzman, National Interest, Nov. 16, 2018—Hamas didn’t achieve a military victory. But toppling the defense minister is a kind of victory because it shows that Hamas can shake Jerusalem’s politics at the very top.

Liberman: Bennett Flip-Flop Shows Why Hamas is Emboldened: Stuart Winer, Times of Israel, Nov. 19, 2018 —Former defense minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday that the decision by leaders of the Jewish Home party to drop their ultimatum and remain in the coalition was emblematic of Israel’s inability to follow through on its military threat against terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli Security Concept: Wandering Through a Maze: Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, BESA, Nov. 15, 2018—The discourse that tends to swirl in the wake of events like this week’s sharp Gaza escalation generally revolves around a clichéd discussion about “the loss of deterrence.”

 

AFTER LATEST GAZA ROCKET ONSLAUGHT: ISRAEL OPTS FOR CEASEFIRE, LIBERMAN RESIGNS, AND ELECTION TALK BEGINS

Why Israel Let Hamas Win: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 15, 2018— Israel’s security cabinet’s decision Tuesday afternoon to walk away from the war Hamas initiated Monday and to accept a “ceasefire” is frustrating and infuriating.

Praising Netanyahu’s Caution: Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS, Nov. 15, 2018 — People demonstrated in the streets of Sderot on Tuesday, and who could blame them?

In the Middle East, You Win With Fear: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, Nov. 13, 2018 — The past six months have brought us violent demonstrations along the Gaza Strip border, cross-border infiltrations, rocket fire and incendiary kites and balloons.

A Rude Awakening for the Palestinian Dream: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 7, 2018— When something is built on an unstable foundation, it is only natural for its long term survival to be at risk.

On Topic Links

Israel Heads Toward Elections as Jewish Home Says it Will Leave Coalition: Raoul Wootliff, Times of Israel, Nov. 16, 2018

Netanyahu Showed Why He Is ‘King Bibi’ By Agreeing To Gaza Cease-fire: Charles Bybelezer, Media Line, Nov. 15, 2018

Barring a Miracle, War with Gaza is a Matter of When, Not If: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Nov. 13, 2018 Restore Deterrence in Gaza Now: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 29, 2018

                            

WHY ISRAEL LET HAMAS WIN             

Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 15, 2018

Israel’s security cabinet’s decision Tuesday afternoon to walk away from the war Hamas initiated Monday and to accept a “ceasefire” is frustrating and infuriating. Hamas shot nearly 500 projectiles into Israel in under 24 hours. It blew up a bus with a Kornet anti-tank missile. Sixty Israelis were wounded, several critically. One civilian was killed. Numerous homes were destroyed.

Israel has never experienced any rocket onslaught from Gaza remotely as intense as what Hamas and Islamic Jihad shot off on Monday and Tuesday. And yet, rather than respond with equal – or better yet – far greater force and teach Hamas and Islamic Jihad a lesson they would long remember, the security cabinet sufficed with a couple hundred pinpoint air attacks, and then accepted the IDF’s advice and opted for the ceasefire. In so doing, they left the residents of southern Israel virtual hostages of Hamas and Islamic Jihad who have retained the capacity to attack them at will.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s sudden resignation on Wednesday may help his little party Yisrael Beitenu get reelected to Knesset in the next elections. But if it does, then Liberman will have won his political survival at Israel’s expense. Hamas is entirely justified in presenting Liberman’s resignation as proof that it defeated Israel this week.

Winners don’t quit. Losers do. But beyond being frustrating and infuriating, the cabinet’s decision is a cause for deep concern. Why did the cabinet opt to stand down in the face of Hamas’s unprecedented onslaught? Leaving concerns about the prospect of war in the north with Iran, Hezbollah and Syria out of the picture for a moment, there are on the face of things, two basic explanations for the cabinet’s decision. First, maybe the WhatsApp jokes making the rounds are right. Maybe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministers are a bunch of stupid chickens. Liberman effectively accused them of stupidity and cowardice at his press conference Tuesday afternoon when he announced his resignation.

But there is no evidence that Netanyahu is stupid. To the contrary. As for fear, there is ample evidence that if he and his ministers were fearful, they have good reason to be deeply worried. This brings us to the second and more realistic reason to view the cabinet’s decision to stand down in the face of Hamas’s aggression as a bright red warning light. The source of that concern is the IDF’s General Staff.

Israel does not seek to overthrow the Hamas regime in Gaza. And for good reason. The price of a war to overthrow Hamas would be exorbitant both in terms of the human and monetary cost of war. And the return would be dubious at best. Israel doesn’t have an army big enough to spare three divisions to control a post-Hamas Gaza. The other option often touted by the far Left is that Israel pay the price of overthrowing Hamas and then hand Gaza over to the PLO. The PLO, though, is no less hostile than Hamas. Israel has no interest whatsoever in empowering the PLO by giving it Gaza.

Given the absence of a better alternative to Hamas in Gaza, rather than work to overthrow the terror regime, Israel has focused its efforts on keeping Hamas as weak as possible. And so, since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, Israel’s effective strategy for dealing with the terror regime can be equated to mowing the grass. Every time Hamas becomes too powerful, Israel finds itself in another round of war with it. The purpose of Israel’s operations is to cut Hamas down to size and walk away, until the next round of war.

But this week, Hamas made clear that Israel needs to mow it down. A terror regime capable of sending 500 projectiles into Israeli territory in less than 24 hours and destroying a bus with an anti-tank missile is a terror regime that has become too powerful. So why didn’t the cabinet order the IDF to mow the grass in Gaza? Why didn’t our leaders order the IDF to kill Hamas commanders Yahye Sinwar and Ismail Haniyeh? Why didn’t they order the IDF to destroy the rocket launchers and the crews that operate them? Why didn’t they order the IDF to destroy Hamas’s bases and missile depots? There are two possible explanations for their decision not to give these orders. Taken separately and together they point to an acute problem with the IDF’s senior ranks that requires immediate attention.

One explanation has been highlighted by retired senior IDF commanders and Yediot Aharonot’s military commentator Yossi Yehoshua. This explanation argues that the cabinet decision to stand down on Tuesday owed to the General Staff’s refusal to take the actions necessary to cut Hamas down to size. The General Staff’s refusal, they say, stems from the role lawyers are now playing in the IDF’s targeting decisions. Since Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, military lawyers have been attached to fighting units down to the battalion level. These attorneys are allegedly prohibiting required action by claiming that strategically significant and operationally vital actions like killing Hamas commanders and bombing rocket launching units constitute war crimes…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link: Ed]

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PRAISING NETANYAHU’S CAUTION

Jonathan S. Tobin                                                                                                                  

JNS, Nov. 15, 2018 

People demonstrated in the streets of Sderot on Tuesday, and who could blame them? They had spent days running back and forth to bomb shelters and safe rooms, enduring the tension and dangers of being subjected to hundreds of rockets fired at their town, as well as the rest of southern Israel, by Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists from Gaza.

But their reaction to news of a ceasefire between Israel and its foes didn’t bring the usual joy and relief. They were mad that, once again, Hamas had terrorized and held hundreds of thousands of Israelis hostage — and gotten away with it. More to the point, they blamed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for failing them and the country by refusing to respond more forcefully to the 450-plus rockets fired on the country. They said he had not only abandoned them, but encouraged Hamas to repeat this dismal process the next time it suited them. Nor were these demonstrators alone in castigating Netanyahu. Some members of his coalition sniped at him for what they considered timorous behavior.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman denounced Netanyahu, and went so far as to resign because of the prime minister’s failure to escalate the conflict against Hamas. Lieberman’s motives were transparently political since he opposed military action only weeks ago. His goal was to position himself to Netanyahu’s right if the country goes to early elections. But opposition leaders also joined in the Bibi-bashing, giving some on the left the rare opportunity to criticize him from the right for allowing a dangerous security situation to develop, and then not resolving it in a satisfactory manner. Most embarrassing was the way his critics in the Knesset and the media used video clips of Netanyahu saying the same things about former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s similar policies towards Gaza when Netanyahu was in the opposition.

But being hoisted on his own petard in this manner didn’t appear to faze the prime minister. Nor should it. The world looks a lot different from the perspective of being the person who must make life-and-death decisions, as opposed to those who can criticize from the sidelines.

The impulse to say enough is enough about the terrorist state in Gaza is almost irresistible. As long as Hamas rules the independent Palestinian state in all but name only, there will always be a dagger pointed at Israel’s throat. While Hamas agrees to ceasefires and now speaks of being willing to accept an agreement in which Israel would be forced back to the 1967 borders, it isn’t interested in peace. Its goal, made painfully obvious by the violent mass protests conducted every Friday at the border with Israel since March, is the elimination of the Jewish state. Long-term peace with it is impossible.

Why then doesn’t Netanyahu seek a final reckoning with it, rather than forcing Israelis to endure weeks like the last one, punctuated every few years by a massive counter-attack — like the operations launched in 2008, 2012, and 2014 — that always stops short of deposing Hamas? Though he is routinely denounced as an opponent of peace, when it comes to the use of military force, Netanyahu is one of the most cautious prime ministers Israel has known. The reasons are part personal and part strategy.

As a young man, like his brother Yonatan, the slain hero of the 1976 Entebbe rescue, Netanyahu served in an elite military unit often sent to do the most difficult and dangerous tasks. He understands the cost of battle and has only ordered troops into battle after every possible alternative is exhausted. Over and above his sure grasp of Israel’s diplomatic and military situation, the fact that he spends Israel’s most precious resource — the lives of its soldiers — only with great reluctance is part of the reason why he is trusted by most Israelis.

More than that, Netanyahu doesn’t believe that sending the army into Gaza is in Israel’s best interests. He knows that even a decisive knockout blow against Hamas would likely make the situation even more unbearable for the Israeli people. The fact is that Israel is in a “no win” situation with respect to Gaza. The fault for this belongs to the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who withdrew every soldier, settler, and settlement from the strip in 2005. Though he vowed that if Gaza became a terror base, Israel would strike back and re-occupy it, his successors realized that such a vow was easier said than done.

The cost of such a campaign would be prohibitive in terms of Israeli casualties, and catastrophic when one considers how many Palestinians would be sacrificed as human shields as Hamas made its last stand. The opprobrium that would be directed at Israel from a hypocritical international community that regards the Jewish state as the only one on the planet that doesn’t have a right to defend itself would be a problem. But the real concern would not be foreign criticism, but the fact that the aftermath of even a successful military effort would leave Israel with the issue of governing Gaza. Maintaining an occupation would also be costly. So would an attempt to install the rule of the Palestinian Authority there. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas desperately wants to get control of Gaza, but is only willing to do so by fighting to the last Israeli.

Netanyahu also realizes that, as bad as it is, the status quo — both with respect to Gaza and the West Bank — is better than the available alternatives, all of which would present a greater danger to Israel, and make a Palestinian state more, rather than less, likely. Rather than satisfying the need of his people for a resolution of the Gaza problem, the prime minister is playing the long game. He understands that standing pat and waiting — however long that wait must be for the Palestinians to give up their century-long war on Zionism — without making foolhardy choices to give up territory or to launch wars with unpredictable consequences is the smartest strategy.

The frustration of the residents of Sderot and other Israelis under fire is real and understandable. But as painful as it may be, those who care about the Jewish state and understand the complex politics around it should also acknowledge that Netanyahu is right to avoid another war if at all possible.               

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IN THE MIDDLE EAST, YOU WIN WITH FEAR

Prof. Efraim Inbar

Israel Hayom, Nov. 13, 2018

The past six months have brought us violent demonstrations along the Gaza Strip border, cross-border infiltrations, rocket fire and incendiary kites and balloons. This means that a so-called “agreement” or truce is not a viable option. We cannot trust Hamas to keep the calm. Only when Hamas is afraid of IDF retaliation, which has yet to come, will calm prevail. Israelis tend to overlook the fact that in the Middle East, it is fear, above everything else, that governs how people act.

Unfortunately, from time to time, we must give our enemies a violent reminder, lest they continue terrorizing us. The very fact that Hamas continues its actions unabated shows a lack of deterrence, without which no truce is worth the paper it is signed on. Expecting Hamas to honor agreements with the Jewish state it wants to annihilate is inexcusably naive. Extortion that leads to an “agreement” is a prelude to more extortion.

The assumption that boosting the quality of life for Gazans will reduce Hamas’ violence and hatred is fundamentally flawed. There is no place on this planet where there is a direct correlation between quality of life and terrorism. This holds true in the Palestinian case as well.

Recent polls show that Gazans are actually less hostile toward Israel than are their brethren in Judea and Samaria, where the quality of life is better. Perhaps the suffering in Gaza has taught them that prolonged conflict with Israel comes with great pain. While it is true that it takes time to change the behavior of large groups of people, what ultimately makes a population embark on a new political path is the degree to which it suffers. Germans suffered immensely during the two world wars and have since shed their violent past. Egypt also realized that a peace deal with Israel trumps more violence.

The goal of war is to inflict pain on the other side, to make it change its behavior. There is no point in giving Hamas candy while it fights against us. The exact opposite is true: It should be forced to pay a heavy price for its aggressive behavior. This is the message Israel should be sending Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and other enemies. To survive in the Middle East, Israel has to make it clear that it will inflict unimaginable pain on anyone who attacks it.

Israel is naturally reluctant to re-occupy the Gaza Strip. It would also serve no purpose to try to engineer its political system. Israel would not benefit from bringing the hostile Palestinian Authority back to the Gaza Strip. Likewise, it is understandable why Israel does not want to be dragged into a protracted military campaign when its eyes are trained on the most important threat: Iran. That said, the IDF can ratchet up the pressure by several notches without conquering the Gaza Strip, in order to send Hamas the message that more conflict will result in more pain.

Despite the events of this week, Israel must continue with its incursions into the Gaza Strip and even widen their scope. We must prove that we are not afraid of using ground forces to punish those who want us dead. The fear of casualties, however important, should not come at the expense of Israeli deterrence, which is essential for establishing long-term calm on the border and preventing future fatalities.

Only a crushing and devastating blow to Hamas will pave the way for a truce that would not be a victory for the terrorists. Such a truce would survive much longer than a half-baked truce that survives only several months until another extortion scheme.

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A RUDE AWAKENING FOR THE PALESTINIAN DREAM                                          

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Arutz Sheva, Nov. 7, 2018

When something is built on an unstable foundation, it is only natural for its long term survival to be at risk. It is also natural for it to be in need of constant support just to keep from falling. The belief that it will eventually be able to stand on its own two feet causes people to lend their support, but only egregious fools continue to do so if there is no hope of its ever being independent, because in that case, everythiing those supporters have invested is doomed to be irretrievably lost.

The Palestinian Authority is in exactly that position today and this article will expound on the reasons it has no hope of every being able to become a viable and independent entity. The prime reason for this situation is the very reason the PA was founded. In 1993, the Israeli government tried to find someone who would accept responsibility for eliminating the terror network created by the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, someone willing to be rewarded for anti-terrorist activity by being granted the authority to rule the area and administer the lives of the Arabs living there. This was the “deal” concocted by the Israelis, and the “contractor” who accepted the challenge was the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) headed by arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat. The Israeli government actually believed that Arafat was serious about eliminating terror and establishing an autonomous administrative system for running those territories.

Of course, this deal was doomed to failure from the start due to the residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and also the government of Israel. The Arab residents considered the Palestinian Authority (PA), the governing arm of the PLO, to be the operative arm of Israeli policy, an organization collaorating with Israel by means of the coordinated security system that exists up until this very day.

“Security coordination” to the Palestinian Arab mind is a laundered word for cooperation, meaning PA security forces attempt to apprehend the terrorists that belong to organizations other than their own and hand them over to Israel. Many of the Arab residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza see this as no less than treason. In order to cover up that perceived betrayal and silence its critics, the PA employs thousands in both real and artificial jobs (the kind where the worker does not have to do anything in order to be paid) . For the sake of earning a livng, people are willing to shut their mouths and utter not a word about what they really think of the PA and the reasons for its existence.

No matter, members of the PA know exactly in what esteem the authority is held by the public. To combat this and in order to create legitimacy for themselves and the PA,  they invented a national ethos whose purpose was establishing a state under conditions to which Israel could never agree: the “right” of return for millions of “refugees” to Israel and insistence on Israel’s relinquishing Jerusalem. These impossible demands were raised knowing full well that Israel would never agree to them, and that there would never be a Palestinian Arab state, so that Israel could continue to remain the eternal enemy.  Anyone who thinks that a Palestinian Arab state adjoining Israel would live in peace with it does not comprehend the basic tenet of the Palestinian dream – fanning the flames of Israel-hatred, encouraging terror against its citizens and blaming it for all the ills of Arab society.

That is why – according to the PA media – Israel is the result of a European colonialist venture originating in Europe’s desrie to rid itself of the Jews, the Jews are nothing but cosmopolitan communities with no homeland, Judaism is a dead, not living religion, the Jews have no history in the lands belonging to “Falestin.” In addition, the Palestinian Arabs are victims of a Euroean conspiracy and their legitimate goal is to free all of “Falestin” from the “river to the sea.” Therefore “peace” with Israel can never be more than a temporary ceasefire, with the final goal the destruction of the Jewish state.

Over the past 25 years, more and more Israelis have begun to understand the failed “Oslo Accords” deal their government signed, and that is why the Israeli left, which engineered this fatal mistake, has gradually lost much of the public support it had during the initial euphoric period after the agreements were signed. The “Arab Spring” – which is more reminiscent of a wintery swamp filled with fire, blood and tears – helped the Israelis awaken from the dream of “a new Middle East” described in utopian terms by Oslo Accords master architect, the late Shimon Peres.

Today, it is clear that all Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas wanted and Abbas still desires is the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state on the ruins of the Jewish one. It is hard to find any enthusiasm among Israelis for continuing to pump oxygen into the artificial entity known as the Palestinian Authority, whose only source of life is the money it gets from other countries and pours into salaries for its employees and the murderous terrorists serving sentences in Israeli prisons…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link: Ed]

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

Contents 

On Topic Links

Israel Heads Toward Elections as Jewish Home Says it Will Leave Coalition: Raoul Wootliff, Times of Israel, Nov. 16, 2018—The Jewish Home will leave the coalition, bringing down the government and forcing new elections, senior sources in the Orthodox-nationalist party told The Times of Israel Friday.

Netanyahu Showed Why He Is ‘King Bibi’ By Agreeing To Gaza Cease-fire: Charles Bybelezer, Media Line, Nov. 15, 2018—For his entire tenure, the knock on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been that he reflexively chooses the path of least resistance based exclusively on electoral calculations.

Barring a Miracle, War with Gaza is a Matter of When, Not If: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Nov. 13, 2018—In the past 24 hours nearly 500 Hamas rockets have pummelled civilian targets in southern Israel, the most intense assault ever launched by the terrorist-run government in the Gaza Strip.

Restore Deterrence in Gaza Now: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 29, 2018—All of us abhor military confrontation or war, which inevitably leads to casualties. Today Israel faces a major threat from Hamas in the south; Iran and Hezbollah could become involved if we go for the military option.

SAUDIS & U.S. ALLIED AGAINST MUTUAL IRANIAN THREAT, DESPITE RIYADH’S ISLAMISM AND “ILLIBERALISM”

AS WE GO TO PRESS: ISRAEL, HAMAS REPORTEDLY AGREE TO CEASEFIRE — Israel and Hamas reportedly agreed to a ceasefire Tuesday after over 460 rockets were fired from Gaza to southern Israel. The ceasefire comes after close to 48-hours of escalated hostilities between Israel and Palestinian factions. The IDF said over 100 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. While the majority of others fell in open territory without causing damage or injuries, another 20 or so fell in the cities of Ashkelon, Sderot, and several other border vicinity communities. A 40 year-old man was killed Monday in Ashkelon after an apartment building sustained a direct hit by a rocket fired from Gaza. The rocket barrages came after a deadly IDF raid in the Gazan city of Khan Younis on Sunday killed an elite IDF officer and seven Hamas militants, including the battalion commander of Khan Younis. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 13, 2018)

 

Muhammad Bin Salman: For Better or for Worse?: Dr. James M. Dorsey, BESA, Nov. 2, 2018— King Salman’s announcement that Prince Muhammad has been put in charge of reorganizing Saudi intelligence…

How Saudi ‘Donations’ to American Universities Whitewash Islam: Raymond Ibrahim, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 11, 2018— Why would the center of illiberalism, religious fanaticism, and misogyny ever sponsor the center of liberalism, secularism, and gender equality?

Massive Missile Attack on Israel after Qatar Funds Hamas: Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute, Nov. 13, 2018— Last week, as efforts were underway to achieve a new truce between Hamas and Israel, this author asked a legitimate and straightforward question: Can Hamas be trusted?

Opportunities Abound Should Israel and Gulf Nations Cooperate: Ellen R. Wald, Arab News, Nov. 2, 2018— Events in Oman and the UAE this past week give us an opportunity to consider anew the relationship between Gulf countries and Israel, and particularly the potential for rapprochement and cooperation through the prism of the aspirations of the citizenry.

On Topic Links

Some ‘Modernizer’: Reuel Marc Gerecht, Weekly Standard, Nov. 2, 2018

The Unknown Turkish Refugee Crisis: Nikolaos Lampas, BESA, Nov. 1, 2018

Turkey Demands ‘Immediate End’ to Israeli Retaliatory Strikes: David Rosenberg, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 13, 2018

Militarization of Mediterranean Rises with Exploration Disputes: Metin Gurcan, Al-Monitor, Nov. 8, 2018 

                   

MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN: FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE?                                                    

Dr. James M. Dorsey                                                           

BESA, Nov. 2, 2018

King Salman’s announcement that Prince Muhammad has been put in charge of reorganizing Saudi intelligence – at the same time that the kingdom admitted for the first time that journalist Jamal Khashoggi had been killed within the grounds of its Istanbul consulate – signaled that the crown prince’s wings are not being clipped, at least not yet, and not publicly.

With little prospect for a palace coup and a frail King Salman unlikely to resume full control of the levers of power, Prince Muhammad, viewed by many as reckless and impulsive, could emerge from the Khashoggi crisis – which has severely tarnished the kingdom’s image and strained relations with the US and Western powers – defiant rather than chastened by international condemnation over the journalist’s killing.

A pinned tweet by Saud Al-Qahtani, a close associate of Prince Muhammad who was among several recently fired senior officials, reads: “Some brothers blame me for what they view as harshness. But everything has its time, and talk these days requires such language.” While this could be Prince Muhammad’s motto, his domestic status and mettle are likely to be put to the test as the crisis unfolds. Ankara might leak further evidence of what happened to Khashoggi, or it might officially publish whatever proof it has.

Turkish leaks or officially announced evidence would likely fuel US Congressional and European parliamentary calls for sanctions, possibly including an arms embargo, against the kingdom. In a sharp rebuke, President Trump responded to Riyadh’s widely criticized official version of what happened to Khashoggi by saying that “obviously there’s been deception, and there’s been lies.”

A prominent Saudi commentator and close associate of Prince Muhammad, Turki Aldakhil, warned in advance of the Saudi admission that the kingdom would respond to Western sanctions by cozying up to Russia and China. This could certainly happen if Saudi Arabia is forced to seek alternatives to shield itself against possible sanctions. This does not, however, mean that Prince Muhammad would not brazenly attempt to engineer a situation in which the Trump administration has no choice but to fully reengage with the kingdom.

While pundits are suggesting that Trump’s Saudi-anchored Middle East strategy, which is focused on isolating Iran, crippling it economically with harsh sanctions, and potentially forcing a change of regime, is in jeopardy because of the damage Prince Muhammad’s international reputation has suffered, Tehran could in fact prove to be a window of opportunity for the crown prince. “The problem is that under MBS, Saudi Arabia has become an unreliable strategic partner whose every move seems to help rather than hinder Iran. Yemen intervention is both a humanitarian disaster and a low cost/high gain opportunity for Iran,” tweeted former US Middle East negotiator Martin Indyk, referring to Prince Muhammad by his initials.

“Trump needed to make clear he wouldn’t validate or protect him from Congressional reaction unless he took responsibility. It’s too late for that now. Therefore I fear he will neither step up [n]or grow up, the crisis will deepen and Iran will continue to reap the windfall,” Indyk said in another tweet. If this was an unintended consequence of Prince Muhammad’s overly assertive policy and crude and ill-fated attempts to put his stamp on the Middle East prior to the murder of Khashoggi, it may, in a twisted manner, serve his purpose.

To the degree that Prince Muhammad has had a thought-out grand strategy since his ascendancy in 2015, it was to ensure US support and Washington’s reengagement in what he saw as a common interest: projection of Saudi power at the expense of Iran. Speaking to The Economist in 2016, Prince Muhammad spelled out his vision of the global balance of power and where he believed Saudi interests lie. “The United States must realize that they are the number one in the world and they have to act like it,” the prince said. In an indication that he was determined to ensure US re-engagement in the Middle East, Prince Muhammad added: “We did not put enough efforts in order to get our point across. We believe that this will change in the future.”

Beyond the shared US-Saudi goal of clipping Iran’s wings, Prince Muhammad catered to President Trump’s priority of garnering economic advantage for the US and creating jobs. Trump’s assertion that he wants to safeguard $450 billion in deals with Riyadh as he contemplates possible punishment for the killing of Khashoggi is based on the crown prince’s dangling of opportunity…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link: Ed]

 

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HOW SAUDI ‘DONATIONS’ TO AMERICAN

UNIVERSITIES WHITEWASH ISLAM                                                                             

Raymond Ibrahim

Breaking Israel News, Nov. 11, 2018

Why would the center of illiberalism, religious fanaticism, and misogyny ever sponsor the center of liberalism, secularism, and gender equality? This is the question that crops up when one considers the largesse that human-rights-abusing Saudi Arabia bestows on the leading universities — those putative bastions of progressive, free thinking — in the United States. According to a recent report in the Daily Caller, “elite U.S. universities took more than half a billion dollars from the country [Saudi Arabia] and its affiliates between 2011 and 2017. Saudi Arabian interests paid $614 million to U.S. universities over a six-year period, more than every country but Qatar and the United Kingdom.”

What would cause Saudi Arabia, which represents much that is regressive and barbarous — from having elite units dedicated to apprehending witches and warlocks, to legitimizing pedophilia — to become a leading financial supporter of America’s liberal arts? Certainly, it is not because the Saudis are randomly lavish with their money and award gifts to all and sundry. Reports often criticize citizens of the kingdom for being “stingy” and not spending on worthy and humanitarian causes.

“These gifts and contracts,” the report continues, “in some instances, are intended to influence students’ and faculty experts’ views on the kingdom.” While this explanation may make sense to Western sensibilities which tend to think only in terms of nation-states, in reality, Saudi Arabia is influencing “views” on Islam.  After all, the desert kingdom is modeled after the principles of Islam arguably more than any other Muslim nation in the world.  Saudi society and politics are virtually synonymous with Islamic society and politics—or, in a word, Sharia.

Much of this has to do with the desert nation’s unique place in Islam: Muhammad and Islam were born in what is today “Saudi Arabia,” making Peninsular Arabs the descendants of Islam’s first Muslims, who conquered much of the post-Roman Christian world in the seventh century, transforming it into the Muslim, Arab-speaking world…Their Saudi descendants are not “Wahhabis”—a strawman term created by Saudi funded Western academics—but dedicated Muslims.   Walking in the footsteps of their Arabian forefathers and prophet, they seek to empower and spread Islam. That is, after all, the widely believed reason why Allah bestowed so much oil wealth beneath their feet: for them to use it to resuscitate Islam’s “glorious” heritage and their role as leaders.

The importance of Islam to Saudi Arabia — and vice-versa — is well captured on the website of the Saudi embassy in Washington DC: For centuries the people of the Arabian Peninsula have possessed a strong identity based upon the tenets of Islam. Saudi Arabia… adheres to Islam, honors its Arab heritage and tradition, and presses vigorously forward in the service of Islam… The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the heartland of Islam, the birthplace of its history, the site of the two holy mosques and the focus of Islamic devotion and prayer. Saudi Arabia is committed to preserving the Islamic tradition in all areas of government and society….. The Holy Qur’an is the constitution of the Kingdom and Shari’ah (Islamic law) is the basis of the Saudi legal system.

That Saudi Arabia’s identity is “based upon the tenets of Islam; ” that it “presses vigorously forward in the service of Islam,” and that the “Qur’an is the constitution of the Kingdom, and Shari’ah (Islamic law) is the basis of the Saudi legal system” — should all make clear that the Saudi worldview is antithetical to the spirit of Western liberal education.

Capital punishment in the desert kingdom still takes place (as seen in this video of a hysterical woman being incrementally beheaded); child-marriage and slave-like conditions are rampant; “apostates” are persecuted and sometimes sentenced to death; churches and other non-Muslim houses of worship are strictly banned, and Christians quietly worshipping in their homes are regularly arrested, imprisoned and tortured. Saudi Arabia even has online a fatwa, an Islamic-sanctioned opinion — in Arabic only— entitled, “Duty to Hate Jews, Polytheists, and Other Infidels” (my translation here). It comes from the fatwa wing of the government, meaning it has the full weight of the government behind it. Written by Sheikh Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz (d. 1999), former grand mufti and highest religious authority in the government, it still appears on the website…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link: Ed]          

 

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MASSIVE MISSILE ATTACK ON ISRAEL AFTER QATAR FUNDS HAMAS

Bassam Tawil

Gatestone Institute, Nov. 13, 2018

Last week, as efforts were underway to achieve a new truce between Hamas and Israel, this author asked a legitimate and straightforward question: Can Hamas be trusted? The conclusion was that a real truce between Israel and Hamas can be achieved only after the Palestinian jihadi terrorists are removed from power, and not rewarded for violence and threats. Days later, Hamas itself provided proof as to why it cannot be trusted with any deal, including a truce.

Since yesterday, Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip have been firing hundreds of rockets into Israel. The current barrage began hours after Hamas terrorists attacked Israeli commandos inside the Gaza Strip, killing an Israeli officer and moderately wounding a soldier. In response, the Israeli army killed seven terrorists, including a top Hamas military commander — Sheikh Nur Baraka.

The Israeli commando unit was not inside the Gaza Strip to kill or kidnap anyone. They were there as part of a routine covert operation to foil terrorist attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups. The commandos, all the same, were attacked by Hamas terrorists who did try to kill or kidnap some of them. The soldiers of the elite Israeli unit managed to return to Israel under the cover of Israeli airstrikes called in to aid their exfiltration.

What is clear is that it was Hamas, not Israel, that initiated the armed clash with the Israeli force. It was Hamas that attacked the Israeli soldiers, killed the officer, and then rushed to accuse Israel of launching a “new aggression” against the Gaza Strip. When the Israeli soldiers tried to defend themselves and killed seven terrorists with return fire, Hamas accused Israel of committing a “despicable crime” against Palestinians.

It is worth noting that the Hamas attack on the Israeli commandos came hours after a Qatari envoy left the Gaza Strip. The Qatari official, Mohammed El-Amadi, had arrived in the Gaza Strip last week carrying suitcases stuffed with $15 million in cash. The money was delivered to Hamas leaders so that they could pay salaries to thousands of their employees in the Gaza Strip. The Qatari financial grant was delivered to the Gaza Strip with Israel’s approval. The Qatari envoy even entered the Gaza Strip through Israel’s Erez border crossing.

Why did Israel facilitate the transfer of the Qatari cash to the Gaza Strip? Israel has been — and still is — trying to avoid an all-out war with Hamas. Israel is not afraid of Hamas. Israel simply does not want the Palestinian civilians living under Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip to pay another heavy price for the foolish acts of their leaders. Israel, in fact, has repeatedly expressed a desire to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians there.

In recent years, Israel has been actively working to support reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli measures include the upgrading of the border crossings between Israel and Gaza to more than 800 truckloads of building materials and other goods to enter Gaza on a daily basis, and facilitating the passage of more than 3.4 million tons of materials into Gaza since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. Earlier this year, Israel presented to the EU, US, UN, and the World Bank various projects that were approved by the Israeli government to develop infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, promote energy solutions and create employment opportunities for the Palestinians there.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended last week’s deal with Qatar by saying it was aimed at preventing a “humanitarian crisis” in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu said that he would do “whatever I can” to keep Israelis living in communities adjacent to the border with Gaza safe, while at the same time working to prevent a humanitarian crisis. Hamas took Qatar’s $15 million cash grant, paid its employees, and days later has resumed its terrorist attacks against Israel. This is Hamas’s way of saying thank you to the Qataris and Israelis who have been working hard to reach a truce in the Gaza Strip and avoid another war — one that is likely to cause more suffering to the two million Palestinians living there.

Hamas has clearly interpreted the goodwill gesture of Israel and Qatar as a sign of weakness. Hamas leaders have even gone on the record as saying that the $15 million grant was the “fruit” of the weekly violent riots that it has been organizing along the border with Israel since March. Shortly after the Qatari envoy delivered the grant to the Gaza Strip, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum used those very words: he boasted that the Palestinians were finally reaping the fruits of their violent protests along the Gaza-Israel border.

Hamas’s stance is reminiscent of its reaction to the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Then, Hamas and other Palestinians also interpreted the Israeli “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip — intended to give Gaza the chance to become a Singapore on the Mediterranean — as a sign of Israeli weakness and retreat. A few months later, Hamas even won the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election — largely because it claimed that it had forced Israel to pull out of the Gaza Strip by conducting suicide bombings and rocket attacks. Hamas told Palestinians back then: vote for us because we drove the Jews out of the Gaza Strip through the armed struggle.

The renewed Hamas attacks on Israel serve as a reminder that the terrorist group is not interested in a real truce. Hamas wants millions of dollars paid to its employees so that it can continue to prepare for war with Israel while not having to worry about the welfare of its people. Qatar’s $15 million cash grant has failed to stop Hamas from launching hundreds of rockets into Israel. On the contrary, the money has only emboldened Hamas and increased its appetite to continue its jihad to eliminate Israel. All the money in the world will not convince Hamas to abandon its ideology or soften its position toward Israel…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link: Ed]

 

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OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND SHOULD

ISRAEL AND GULF NATIONS COOPERATE                                                                 

Ellen R. Wald

 Arab News, Nov. 2, 2018

Events in Oman and the UAE this past week give us an opportunity to consider anew the relationship between Gulf countries and Israel, and particularly the potential for rapprochement and cooperation through the prism of the aspirations of the citizenry. The entire Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region is preening for economic breakout — the promise that comes from an educated class and ambitious people. Gulf countries who choose to work with Israel could gain an advantage over those who do not. After all, Israel has the Middle East’s most dynamic economy, best higher education system and a cultural experience that aligns easily with the rest of the region.

In the last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Oman and an Israeli judo team competed in Abu Dhabi. The Israeli team celebrated the Jewish Sabbath in Abu Dhabi and, when two Israeli judokas won gold medals, the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah, was played without incident. At the same time, Middle East events have reminded us all that we are foolish to deny the existence or sovereignty of another nation. We know that countries and populations need not approve of everything that happens in another country.

Egypt and Jordan have had peace and cooperation with Israel for 40 years and 24 years, respectively. Both Egypt and Jordan have benefited through the economic exchange most of all. Tourism from Israelis has been a success, and international visitors to Israel can now easily add side trips to Giza or Petra. There are other trade benefits as well. For instance, Israel supplies Egypt with natural gas, just as Israel would be a natural customer for Gulf region oil. Even now, Israel buys oil from Iraqi Kurds that is transported through Turkey. As Egypt, Jordan and other groups have benefited from relationships with Israel, Gulf countries could find even more opportunities.

Israel has the highest gross domestic product per capita in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, a G-20 country, has the largest economy in the region, and the Emirati economy is also slightly larger than Israel’s. However, according to the World Bank, Israel has the world’s 31st largest economy and the largest non-hydrocarbon economy in the Middle East. It is known globally for its tech industry. There was even a bestselling 2009 book about it called “Start-up Nation.” Israel is also a leader in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. By the start of this decade, Israel was the fourth-largest pharmaceutical exporter to the US, ahead of the UK, Canada, China and India. The partnership opportunities for Gulf businesses and engineers abound.

Israel is also home to several of the best universities in the Middle East, according to Times Higher Education. Israel has two universities listed in the top 250, four in the top 500, and six in the top 800. No other Middle Eastern country has as many universities so highly ranked. Moreover, in the last seven years the number of Arab (Palestinian) students at Israeli universities has grown by 78.5 percent, according to Israel’s Council for Higher Education. Today, 16.1 percent of students at Israeli universities are Arab (Palestinian), so the cooperation could be seamless. There is a great opportunity for the exchange of students and scholars in engineering, sciences, medicine and entrepreneurship…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link: Ed]

 

Contents

On Topic Links

Some ‘Modernizer’: Reuel Marc Gerecht, Weekly Standard, Nov. 2, 2018—The modernizing rulers of the Arab Middle East date from the early 19th century, with Muhammad Ali of Egypt, who forcibly indentured the peasants of the Nile valley to farm cash crops, and Ahmad Bey of Tunisia, who in 1846 became the first Muslim ruler to abolish slavery.

The Unknown Turkish Refugee Crisis: Nikolaos Lampas, BESA, Nov. 1, 2018—According to data from the Greek Asylum Service, over the past two years, the number of asylum applicants from Turkey has grown from 189 in 2016 to 2,463 in August 2018. This represents an increase of approximately 1,300%. Moreover, according to Eurostat, approximately 25,000 Turkish citizens applied for asylum in European countries between 2016 and 2017.

Turkey Demands ‘Immediate End’ to Israeli Retaliatory Strikes: David Rosenberg, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 13, 2018— The Turkish government demanded Israel end its air campaign in the Gaza Strip following a massive wave of rocket and mortar attacks from the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave.

Militarization of Mediterranean Rises with Exploration Disputes: Metin Gurcan, Al-Monitor, Nov. 8, 2018— Tensions are rising quickly in the eastern Mediterranean over sharing hydrocarbon reserves in the area.

 

“PEACE PROCESS” EFFORTS DOOMED UNTIL PALESTINIANS RECOGNIZE ISRAEL’S LEGITIMACY

Hamas-Israel Truce Would Be “Painkiller, not Antibiotic”: Yaakov Lappin, BESA, Aug. 9, 2018— Intensive efforts are underway to reach a long-term, comprehensive truce arrangement between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Was the Peace Process Doomed to Failure From the Start?: Charles Bybelezer, Media Line, Aug. 1, 2018— The international community spearheaded by its professional peace processors are feverishly working to prevent another full-blown war between Israel and Hamas.

The IOI — ‘If Only Israel’ — Syndrome: David Harris, Times of Israel, July 18, 2018 — IOI is the misguided notion, peddled in the name of Israel’s “best interests” by some in the diplomatic, academic, and media worlds, that if only Israel did this or that, peace with the Palestinians would be at hand.

US Peace Initiatives – Quo Vadis?: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, July 17, 2018 — All US (Israel-Arab) peace initiatives, initiated by Democratic and Republican Presidents, aimed at advancing the cause of peace, while enhancing the US strategic stature. However, all failed on both accounts.

On Topic Links

Israelis and Palestinians Must Unite Against Shared Threat: Jason Greenblatt, CNN, Aug. 9, 2018

Where is Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan?: Michael Wilner, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 9, 2018

Does Trump’s ‘Ultimate Deal’ Reject PLO Propaganda?: David Singer, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 5, 2018

Philip Riteman, Holocaust Survivor Who Taught Canadians ‘It Is Better to Love Than to Hate,’ Dies at 96: Aly Thomson, National Post, Aug. 9, 2018

 

HAMAS-ISRAEL TRUCE WOULD BE “PAINKILLER, NOT ANTIBIOTIC”

Yaakov Lappin

BESA, Aug. 9, 2018

Intensive efforts are underway to reach a long-term, comprehensive truce arrangement between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Israel. Former members of the Israeli defense establishment have expressed skepticism that such a truce is feasible. In their view, a limited truce might be more realistic. Reaching a broad cease-fire arrangement would be “a very complex maneuver,” said Col. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay, former deputy head of the National Security Council of Israel.

Egypt is leading the attempt, mediating talks and hosting senior Palestinian delegations in Cairo. A high-ranking UN coordinator in the region, Nickolay Mladenov, is also involved. Shay, who today serves as director of research at the Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) in Israel, pointed out that a long-term arrangement for Gaza would be possible only if two components are put into place. The first is a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, and the second “is a period of calm between Hamas and the State of Israel. The two things are interlinked,” Shay said.

“In order to obtain a long-term period of calm, there needs to be major investment in the Gazan economy and infrastructure,” he went on. “That means bringing the Palestinian Authority (PA) to Gaza. Because this is a condition, it is very problematic. If you look back, ever since Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007, there have been countless attempts, led by Egypt, to reach Palestinian national reconciliation.” None of them have succeeded, Shay pointed out.

Today, while Hamas has an interest in reaching reconciliation with its Palestinian rival, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has no similar sentiment. “Abbas is dragging his feet because he has no interest in promoting this procedure, which would give Hamas gains, but not the PA,” said Shay. “If internal Palestinian reconciliation is the condition for an Israel-Hamas arrangement, then very large question marks will remain over this.”

On the other hand, a more limited truce involving the end of Gazan border demonstrations – and the cessation of incendiary kite and balloon attacks from Gaza, which have burned large swaths of Israeli farmland, harmed wildlife, and affected Israel’s honey production before Rosh Hashanah – is feasible. In exchange, Shay said, Israel could reopen the Kerem Shalom border crossing, allowing more materials to flow into Gaza, and expand the fishing zone for Palestinian fishermen.

“The more limited the agreement, the more limited its ability to improve the Gazan economic situation,” he cautioned. Therefore, “it is like a painkiller, not an antibiotic. It does not significantly change the situation on the ground.” Any such arrangement should also include the return of the bodies of two IDF soldiers held by Hamas, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in combat during the 2014 Gaza conflict, in addition to the return of two Israeli nationals being held captive by Hamas. “This must be a condition,” Shay said.

Echoing Shay’s assessment, Dr. Col. (res.) Moshe Elad, one of the designers of the security coordination between the IDF and the PA, said any attempt to reach a full agreement was very likely to end in failure. “There are a number of arenas involved; each is more complex than the other,” said Elad, currently a lecturer at Western Galilee College. Hamas and the PA have failed at all previous attempts to settle their differences, and “this time will be no different,” he said.

On the Israel-Hamas front, Israel will want “full quiet” as part of a large package deal. But “Hamas has never agreed to full quiet,” Elad noted. “I don’t remember it ever agreeing to this.” “There are smaller [armed] groups in Gaza that are known as the rebellious groups. The truth is, if Hamas wants to, it can rein them in. But the problem is that Hamas does not want to stop them. It wants to use them to threaten Israel. Israel will insist on full quiet. It will insist that not even a single shot is fired. Hamas won’t agree to that,” Elad said.

All the economic benefits being offered to Gaza as part of a package deal – an improvement in water and electricity supplies, the construction of a seaport, the cancellation of debts owed by the Hamas government, a relaxation of the Israeli security blockade – hinge on a PA-Hamas agreement, but Elad does not see “any intention” by the PA to agree to this since Abbas would emerge as “the main loser.” “What incentive does he have for it to succeed?” he asked.

At best, if Hamas finds its back to the wall, it might agree to freeze the activities of its military wing and place its members on leave, said Elad. “But they will never disband the military wing” as the PA has demanded. Doing so would symbolize “cancelling the resistance” from Hamas’s perspective, which would be unthinkable for the hardline Islamist organization. According to Elad, recriminations over “why this didn’t work out” will likely emerge within days.

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WAS THE PEACE PROCESS DOOMED TO FAILURE FROM THE START?

Charles Bybelezer

                                                Media Line, Aug. 1, 2018

 

The international community spearheaded by its professional peace processors are feverishly working to prevent another full-blown war between Israel and Hamas. As part of this effort, United Nations envoy Nickolay Mladenov has been conducting intensive shuttle diplomacy between Jerusalem, Gaza City and Cairo in a bid to forge a long-term ceasefire agreement.

According to media accounts, ideas being floated include the immediate cessation of hostilities, specifically the launching from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel of primitive incendiary objects and corresponding Israeli military strikes on Hamas assets; the complete re-opening of Israel’s Kerem Shalom border crossing, through which thousands of trucks of goods enter the Palestinian enclave; and expanding the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast.

This, within the broader context of major Gaza rehabilitation projects being dangled in front of Hamas. Concurrently, a parallel, although intersecting, initiative is underway to end the decade-long divide between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling Fatah faction and Hamas. Among the issues purportedly being negotiated are removing Ramallah’s sanctions on Gaza; restoring PA administrative rule over the Strip; and disarming Hamas. Essentially, these constitute the same terms of a failed intra-Palestinian reconciliation accord signed this past October in Cairo, and, beforehand, formed the basis of an original deal agreed to four years ago under the auspices of Qatar.

Meanwhile, it is business as usual in the Israeli political arena, with the Left promoting the unilateral removal of the blockade on Gaza without explaining why Hamas might subsequently be expected to reform itself; whereas, on the other end of the spectrum members of the Right are engaged in familiar one-upmanship, as Education Minister Naftali Bennet tries to outflank Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman attempts to outdo them both. This dynamic is comparable to that of 2014, when Bennett and Liberman pressured the premier to take a harder line on Hamas, effectively resulting in an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza during the 50-day conflict. One year later, Hamas had essentially reconstructed its war machine.

All of this comes on the backdrop of the Trump administration’s ongoing work on an Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal, dubbed the “deal of the century.” While the plan reportedly contains some “out-of-the-box” suggestions to resolve longstanding “final status” issues, the fact of the matter is that almost nobody believes that either side is in a position to deliver. Netanyahu is hamstrung by the make-up of his coalition and his own stringent demands on the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and future security arrangements that are anyways non-starters for the PA. For his part, Abbas is constrained by his regime’s indoctrination of the Palestinian public to oppose outright the notion of Jewish sovereignty.

In other words, then, it appears as though absolutely nothing new under the sun is being proposed along any of these three diplomatic tracks, thus begging the question: Has the process morphed into an end in itself, devoid of any realistic expectations of success?

In this respect, it seems increasingly unlikely that Mladenov and Co. will be able to prevent the next round of fighting in Gaza, which most maintain is inevitable for widely-cited reasons even though neither Israel nor Hamas wants any part of it. At the same time, it is unreasonable to assume that Abbas will suddenly accept responsibility for governing Gaza when Hamas still refuses to cede its weapons or allow PA security forces to deploy to the enclave.

Finally, in terms of forging a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace, it can only be viewed as a pipe-dream considering the above-mentioned, less complicated issues—which, for that matter, are integral components of a potential wider deal—remain unsettled. Notably, that the PA continues to boycott the US administration has conveniently been swept under the rug…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

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                    THE IOI — ‘IF ONLY ISRAEL’ — SYNDROME  

                                                  David Harris

                                                Times of Israel, July 18, 2018

IOI is the misguided notion, peddled in the name of Israel’s “best interests” by some in the diplomatic, academic, and media worlds, that if only Israel did this or that, peace with the Palestinians would be at hand. But since it doesn’t, then Israel constitutes the principal, perhaps the only, real obstacle to a new day in Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Striking, isn’t it? Poor Israel. If only it had the visual acuity of these “enlightened” souls, including, most recently, a slim majority of Irish senators, then all would be hunky-dory. After all, according to them, Israel holds all the cards, yet refuses to play them. The thinking goes: Why can’t those shortsighted Israelis figure out what needs to be done — it’s so obvious to us, isn’t it? — so the conflict can be brought to a screeching halt?

Thus, if only Israel reversed its settlements policy. If only Israel understood that Gaza’s tunnel-diggers and kite-flyers are just exercising their right of “peaceful protest.” If only the IDF restrained itself. If only Israel stopped assuming the worst about Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas. If only Israel went the extra mile with President Mahmoud Abbas. If only Israel got beyond its Holocaust trauma. If only Israel ______ — well, go ahead and fill in the blank.

The point is that for the IOI crowd, it essentially all comes down to Israel. And the IOI syndrome has only been strengthened by its adherents’ assessment of the current Israeli government, of course. After all, many media outlets, from the Associated Press to CBS News to Der Spiegel, branded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “hardline” from the get-go. Their word choice simply reinforces the notion that the conflict is all about alleged Israeli intransigence, while generally avoiding any descriptive judgement of Abbas and his entourage.

At moments like this, it’s important to underscore a few basic points too often lost in the din. First, the Netanyahu government follows on the heels of three successive Israeli governments that sought to achieve peace based on a two-state settlement with the Palestinians — and failed. Each of those governments went far in attempting to strike a deal, but, ultimately, to no avail.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak, joined by President Bill Clinton, tried mightily to reach an agreement with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. As confirmed by Clinton himself, the answer was a thunderous rejection, accompanied by the launching of a deadly wave of terror attacks on Israel. And, not to be forgotten, a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon also took place during the Barak era. It was met by the entrenchment of Hezbollah, committed to Israel’s destruction, in the vacated space.

Then, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon defied his own Likud Party — indeed, he left it to create a new political bloc — and faced down thousands of settlers and their supporters to leave Gaza entirely. It was the first chance ever for Gaza’s Arab residents to govern themselves. Had Gazans seized the opportunity in a responsible manner, they could have created unstoppable momentum for a second phase of significant withdrawal from the West Bank. Instead, Gaza quickly turned itself into a terrorist redoubt, realizing Israelis’ worst fears.

Finally, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, joined by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and urged on by Washington, pressed hard for a deal with the Palestinians on the West Bank. According to Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, the Israeli offer “talked about Jerusalem and almost 100 percent of the West Bank.” Not only was the far-reaching offer not accepted, but there wasn’t even a counter-proposal from the Palestinian side.

Prime Minister Netanyahu inherited a situation in which: (a) Hamas holds the reins of power in Gaza, spends precious funds on digging tunnels to attack Israel, flies kites to set extensive fires in Israel, and teaches kids to aspire to “martyrdom”; (b) Hezbollah is continuing to gain strength in Lebanon, thanks to Iranian largesse, and has tens of thousands of missiles and rockets in its arsenal; (c) the Palestinian Authority has been AWOL from the negotiating table; and (d) Iran continues to call for Israel’s destruction, while enhancing its military capability, entrenching itself in Syria, and funding Hamas. So before Israel gets any further lectures on what needs to be done, perhaps we should take stock of what’s transpired — and why. There have been at least three bold Israeli efforts since 2000 to create a breakthrough — and three successive failures. And that’s not to mention Netanyahu’s ten-month settlement freeze and the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to seize this opportunity to break the stalemate.

The vast majority of Israelis yearn for peace and understand the considerable price the country will have to pay in territory and displaced population. Poll after poll proves their readiness, but only if they are assured that lasting peace, not new phases in the conflict, will be the outcome. Tellingly, few see that possibility on the horizon anytime soon. Israelis don’t have to be pushed, prodded, nudged, cajoled, or pressured to seek a comprehensive peace beyond the current treaties with Egypt and Jordan. More than any other nation on the planet, they have lived with the absence of peace for 70 years, and know full well the physical and psychological toll it has inflicted on the country. Rather, they must be convinced that the tangible rewards justify the immense risks for a small state in a tough area. Those rewards begin with its neighbors’ acceptance of Israel’s rightful place in the region as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders. And that, far more than settlements, checkpoints, or any of the other items on the IOI bill of particulars, gets to the essence of the conflict.

The Gaza disengagement in 2005 demonstrated that settlements and checkpoints can be removed when the time comes. But unless and until the Palestinian side recognizes Israel’s legitimacy, and stops viewing the Jewish state as an “interloper” that can be defeated militarily or swamped by “refugees”— who are in most cases third- and fourth-generation descendants of the original refugees from a war started in 1948 by the Arab world — then whatever the IOI folks call for will inevitably be a secondary issue in the real world. Only when this recognition is reflected in Palestinian textbooks, where children have been taught for generations that Israelis are modern-day “Crusaders” to be driven out, can there be hope for a brighter future…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

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US PEACE INITIATIVES – QUO VADIS?

Yoram Ettinger

Jewish Press, July 17, 2018

 

All US (Israel-Arab) peace initiatives, initiated by Democratic and Republican Presidents, aimed at advancing the cause of peace, while enhancing the US strategic stature. However, all failed on both accounts. The well-intentioned US peace initiatives were doomed to failure by the tendency to downplay the complex intra-Arab/Muslim Middle East reality, since they conflicted with the eagerness to advance peace ASAP, wishful-thinking and oversimplification.

US peace initiatives were the casualties of the inherent conflict between Western eagerness for quick-fix and short-term convenience, on the one hand, and the long-term and complicated nature of the intricate reality and national security, on the other hand. US peace initiatives were frustrated by the tectonic forces which have shaped the well-documented intra-Arab/Muslim labyrinth since the birth of Islam in the 7th century: explosive unpredictability, violence, intolerance (religiously, ethnically, politically and socially), absence of peaceful-coexistence domestically and regionally, minority/rogue regimes, disregard of civil liberties, brutal domestic fragmentation (tribally, ideologically and religiously) and the tenuous/provisional nature of regimes, policies and agreements.

Moreover, the US peace initiatives were further derailed by the politically-correct assumptions that the Arab-Israeli conflict has been “The Middle East Conflict” and that the Palestinian issue has been the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a core-cause of Middle East turbulence and a crown-jewel of Arab policy-making. Such assumptions have been dashed against the rocks of Middle East reality, as highlighted by the 2010 eruption of the still-raging Arab Tsunami (erroneously named “the Arab Spring”), which has been totally unrelated to the dramatically less significant Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue. Furthermore, the preoccupation with the Palestinian issue – at a time when the Middle East and the US are confronted with significantly more pivotal national and homeland security challenges/threats – has damaged the US posture of deterrence and its regional and global standing.

All US peace initiatives attempted to force Israel into making major concessions to the Arab/Palestinian side, thus rewarding systematic Arab aggression, which encouraged further aggression. These initiatives exhibited the self-defeating moral equivalence between (Arab) aggressors and the intended (Israeli) victim; between the most effective, unconditional strategic ally of the US (Israel), and a close ally of enemies and rivals of the US, such as Nazi Germany, the USSR, the Ayatollahs, Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela (the Palestinians); and between the role model of counter-terrorism (Israel) and a role model and a major training ground of anti-US terrorists and a shrine of hate-education (the Palestinians).

The subversive and terroristic track record of the Palestinians, and their closest allies, sheds light on the inherent contradiction between the need to minimize Middle East instability and violence, on the one hand, and the attempt to establish a Palestinian state, on the other hand. US peace initiatives have forced the Palestinians, in particular, and the Arabs, in general, to outflank the (“infidel”) US from the maximalist/radical side, thus further intensifying conflict and disagreements. Contrary to the well-meant goal of the US peace initiatives, this added fuel – not water – to the fire, exacerbated instability and undermined US diplomatic and geo-strategic posture and interests.  One may note that in spite of the US presidential recognition of the PLO, its support for the idea of a Palestinian state and sustained pressure on Israel to freeze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), the US has been systematically terrorized by Shite and Sunni Islamic terrorism…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

Israelis and Palestinians Must Unite Against Shared Threat: Jason Greenblatt, CNN, Aug. 9, 2018 —With the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, it is hard to imagine that deadly fires brought the two groups together — not once, but twice — in a display of shared humanity. Yet, in 2010 and again in 2016, Palestinians fought fires in northern Israel alongside their Israeli neighbors, saving lives and property.

Where is Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan?: Michael Wilner, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 9, 2018—US President Donald Trump’s plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace may be the most closely guarded policy secret in Washington these days, 18 months in the making and yet still known only to the small handful of men behind it. Senior administration officials describe the plan as detailed, pragmatic, and essentially complete. All that prevents them from publishing it is their sense that the timing is off.

Does Trump’s ‘Ultimate Deal’ Reject PLO Propaganda?: David Singer, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 5, 2018 —President Trump’s as-yet unannounced “ultimate deal” to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict has received a setback following Saudi Arabia’s King Salman reassuring Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that Saudi Arabia would oppose any Trump peace plan that did not accept the PLO stance on East Jerusalem becoming the capital of an independent Palestinian Arab state.

Philip Riteman, Holocaust Survivor Who Taught Canadians ‘It Is Better to Love Than to Hate,’ Dies at 96: Aly Thomson, National Post, Aug. 9, 2018—Holocaust survivor Philip Riteman, who spent 30 years speaking to young people about his experience in concentration camps and ardently urging love over hate, has died.

 

 

 

 

HAMAS-BACKED, ANTI-ISRAEL PROTESTS, ROCKET FIRE, AND “FIRE KITES” CONTINUE IN GAZA

Truce or War: Hamas’s Bipolar Rule in Gaza: Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel, July 14, 2018— Several hundred Palestinians participated in clashes at the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip last Friday…

Scorched Earth and International Law: Michael Cotler-Wunsh, Jerusalem Post, July 14, 2018— The last few months have given rise to the return of a historical military strategy known as “scorched earth,”…

‘Pay to Slay’ and Why the ‘Occupation’ Continues: Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS, July 9, 2018 — To Israel’s critics, there really is only one issue to discuss with respect to the conflict with the Palestinians: the “occupation.”

Palestinian Sovereignty after Abbas: Dr. Alex Joffe, BESA, July 13, 2018— “Après moi, le deluge” – a form of blackmail – has a long and ignoble history in international affairs.

On Topic Links

Netanyahu Visits Arson-Ravaged Gaza Border, Warns of a ‘Protracted Stuggle’: Stuart Winer, Times of Israel, July 16, 2018

How to Report on the Next War in Gaza: Liel Leibovitz, Tablet, July 11, 2018

Economics Won’t Help. The Palestinians Will Continue with Terror Attacks: Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, JCPA, July 10, 2018

Oslo is Obsolete: Time for a Victory Mindset: Gideon Saar, Jerusalem Post, July 06, 2018

 

TRUCE OR WAR: HAMAS’S BIPOLAR RULE IN GAZA                                             

Avi Issacharoff

Times of Israel, July 14, 2018

Several hundred Palestinians participated in clashes at the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip last Friday, the remnants of the so-called “March of Return” demonstrations, which at times advocated for Palestinian refugees’ return to their homes — in Israel, of course — and at other times pressed for breaking Israel’s “blockade” of Gaza. Hamas is putting considerable time, energy, and money into keeping up a presence at these demonstrations, even though the number of participants has been steadily decreasing.

As the clashes went ahead, thousands of Gaza residents went to the Gaza beach, simply to enjoy themselves on family outings, just like old times. Gaza’s coast is unsafe for bathing due to pollution, but many people went into the water anyway to cool off from the oppressive July heat — an attempt at normalcy in one of the least normal places in the region, or on Earth.

Gaza is a place where poverty, with its accompanying economic and humanitarian hardships, is only growing more severe — a place that gets only four hours of electricity per day followed by a 16-hour blackout. Ice cream and even cold water are in short supply because there is insufficient power to keep them cold. The generator-powered elevators in high-rise buildings only operate on the hour and are idle the rest of the time. Of the water that flows through the pipes only once every five days, approximately 97 percent is undrinkable. Almost every home in Gaza has a device for filtering and improving the water that comes from the faucets.

These are only small examples of the mad state of things in the Gaza Strip. Gaza’s bipolar nature is also evident in bigger issues: Hamas, the terror organization that controls Gaza and seeks Israel’s destruction, has been intermittently working in recent weeks to keep things relatively calm with the Jewish state, even amid periodic escalations of rocket fire and endless fire kites and incendiary balloons flown into and burning the fields of southern Israel. It has also been intermittently trying to reach a long-term cease-fire agreement with Israel, even as it continues to dig terror tunnels and produce long-range rockets.

While ever howling of “hardship” and “the blockade,” Hamas consistently chooses to spend its funds on its terror infrastructure rather than investing in the population. Examples of this abound, from the enormous budget of its military wing to its collection of money from Gaza’s residents to fund its ongoing military activity. A classic example is recent events at the Rafah border crossing.

For some time, the Egyptians have been bringing through the Rafah crossing merchandise and products that they previously barred from entering Gaza, such as construction materials, fuels and other products. Approximately 30 million liters of diesel fuel, supposedly intended for Gaza’s power station, have been brought in since the beginning of the year. Hamas buys the diesel fuel from Egypt, but instead of using it all to fuel the station and produce more hours of electricity per day, it has been using some of the diesel fuel to make a profit. Of the 30 million liters, 17.8 million were taken to Gaza’s power station. Another 12.2 million liters were either sold on the black market to those willing to pay the maximum price for it, or diverted for Hamas’s military purposes. Hamas makes a profit of NIS 2.5 on every liter of diesel fuel sold in Gaza.

The Rafah border crossing has become Hamas’s most significant economic lifeline. It has been open for 70 days since the beginning of the year, compared to only 36 days throughout the whole of last year (This is partly the result of the dramatically improved security situation in Sinai). Hamas collects a tax on all merchandise that enters through the Rafah border crossing, unlike at the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel, where the taxes go to the Palestinian Authority.

Two large companies are in charge of the transport of merchandise. On the Egyptian side, the company in charge is Ibna’a Sina’a (The Sons of Sinai), and has ties with the Egyptian security forces. On the Palestinian side, the company in charge is Multitrade, a company that has ties with Hamas. If a Palestinian merchant wants to bring merchandise into Gaza, he must pay close to $5,000 per truck. He must also pay both companies for unloading and loading the stock. In this way, each kilogram of merchandise brings more and more revenue to Hamas’s dwindling coffers. Here it must be added that Hamas is dealing with a severe budgetary problem, even if taking into account Iran’s willingness to provide it with financial aid — a willingness that is once more uncertain due to the economic sanctions that have been imposed upon Iran.

Anyone in Israel who hopes that these measures by Hamas, which every Gazan is aware of, will lead to unrest or demonstrations against the terror group, is bound to be disappointed. According to polls in Gaza, most of the residents believe the Palestinian Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas are primarily responsible for the situation in Gaza, followed by the “occupation” — meaning Israel, which has no presence in Gaza — and only then Hamas, which controls Gaza.

The question, even before Friday night’s escalation, is where all this is leading, and whether another major conflict is around the corner. Hamas has been exerting quite a bit of effort to let Israel know it has no interest in open conflict. On the other hand, it is doubtful that Hamas will maintain this trend if the humanitarian situation directs public anger in its direction…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

Contents

   

SCORCHED EARTH AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

Michael Cotler-Wunsh

Jerusalem Post, July 14, 2018

The last few months have given rise to the return of a historical military strategy known as “scorched earth,” in which approximately 100 fires have ravaged and devastated hundreds of acres of the State of Israel, in particular in agricultural communities along the Gaza border. An hour’s drive from Tel Aviv, devastating fires have been set ablaze by balloons and kites flown over the border that have destroyed thousands of acres of fields, forests and wildlife.

Judging from recent events, it seems that the war of attrition launched against the nascent State of Israel in 1948 has not ended, only morphed. The commitment to its destruction has not vanished, only mutated. Enacting the age-old adage “Plus ca change, plus c’est la même chose,” it seems that those that did not accept the legitimacy of a Jewish homeland in the ancestral home of the Jewish people still do not, and are committed to its destruction utilizing any and all means to achieve their goal.

Ironically, the hope for finding a solution and of realizing the centuries-old dream of peace, persuaded many to adopt a paradigm that would enable a “way out.” According to this well-meaning, responsibility-taking paradigm, it was the results of the Six Day War (launched in a surprise, well-planned campaign by five neighboring Arab countries in 1967) that rendered Israel responsible for the terms and conditions of a much-coveted peace. If only Israel would withdraw from areas that it “conquered” in the aftermath of that war, there would be peace. If only there was a “two-state solution,” Palestinians would no longer carry out murderous attacks against Jews. Living under “occupation” resulted in “understandable” violent reactions according to this narrative, and “settlers” were vilified as the barrier to peace, the root of all evil. Herein lies the paradox. The adoption of this narrative actually fueled Israel’s hope, in keeping with millennia of Jewish tradition, that there is a chance to realize the dream of peace with its neighbors.

With all the incredible progress our world has made in the last century, including Israel’s contributions, despite the advances in health research, desalination of water, production of food, global online resources in education, that harbor the potential of improving the human condition, it seems that the machinery of hate and war has remained the same. Rearing its ugly head, recreating itself and holding the world back from genuine progress, it is a sad reminder of human inability to comprehend the repetition of history and recognize real threats as they arise.

Despite seeming progress, tactics of destruction and strategies of devastation reappear with ever so slight modifications or variations. Close and long-range missiles threaten and are launched into Israel, forcing it to develop self-defense systems such as Iron Dome to protect its civilian population; underground terror tunnels are dug into the country below external borders threatening individuals and communities, forcing Israel to develop technologies that address tunnel warfare; and now, in a cynical abuse of kids’ toys and joy, terror balloons and kites are utilized in an old-new version of scorched-earth practice, destroying decades of hard work, amazing achievement and dreams of a better future.

Once again, thousands of Israeli civilians, men, women and children, are living under daily threat and trauma. Doing the only thing that can be done against the terrorism that seeks to instill fear and paralyze them, they work, shop, write exams, drop kids off at camp or school, doing their utmost to lead a semblance of normal life. In these heroic daily acts that should be understood and acknowledged as such, they are fighting terrorists by denying them the victory of instilling anxiety and dread. Hundreds of volunteers show their support by doing the only thing they can, showing up in solidarity and working with brave firefighters day and night, to minimize the damage and save what can be saved.

In defiant breach of international law, fires are ravaging Israel daily. It is noteworthy that this strategy of destroying the food and water supply of the civilian population in an area of conflict is banned under Article 54 of Protocol I of the 1977 Geneva Conventions. The relevant passage states: “It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive.”

The past few months have brought many civilians to the very area that is burning, along the Gaza border, for a gathering that highlights the unacceptable breach of international law and offers much the same clarity as to the enemy that Israel faces. Week after week, we gather to demand the return of the remains of Hadar Goldin, abducted and murdered by Hamas, the very same terrorist organization responsible for the implementation of the scorched-earth strategy. In a cynical abuse of the humanitarian ceasefire, under the auspices of the UN and brokered by the US in the “last blast from the warfare past” in the form of underground tunnels. In a cynical abuse of the understanding of the sanctity of life, and in violation of international law, they have been holding Goldin’s remains for four years. Week after week, en route to the gathering, the heartbreaking changeover from green to black can be seen, the demoralizing smoke in the air can be smelled. Week after week, we continue to go, recognizing the importance of standing together in solidarity, and of understanding and sensing reality…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

Contents

                          

‘PAY TO SLAY’ AND WHY THE ‘OCCUPATION’ CONTINUES           

Jonathan S. Tobin

JNS, July 9, 2018

To Israel’s critics, there really is only one issue to discuss with respect to the conflict with the Palestinians: the “occupation.” For them, Israel’s presence in the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem—the territories it gained as a result of the 1967 Six-Day War—is an outrage. The fact that Israel has not retreated from these lands, irrespective of any discussion of its rights, history or the potential consequences, remains the sole salient fact about the conflict.

So it’s not terribly surprising that the attempts by both the United States and Israel to pass laws forcing the Palestinian Authority to stop paying subsidies to terrorists and pensions to their families hasn’t persuaded foes of the Jewish state to reverse their thinking. They don’t even seem to consider what Abbas’s Fatah and its Hamas rivals are doing to ensure that peace hasn’t broken out, let alone to stop complaining about the “occupation.”

Yet those who put the lion’s share for the continuation of the conflict on Israel, the Netanyahu government and American supporters really should pay more attention to the facts on the ground. The Knesset passed legislation last week that forced the government to withhold transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority in proportion to the amounts that Ramallah pays to terrorists imprisoned in Israel, as well as in pensions to the families of those who have committed acts of terror. This so-called “pay to slay” act is a potentially devastating blow to the P.A. since it receives nearly half of the $5.2 billion it spends every year from taxes collected for it by Israeli authorities. This comes after the U.S. Congress passed the Taylor Force Act back in March, which would similarly withhold U.S. aid to the P.A. if it continues subsidizing terrorism.

But the potential loss of so much money hasn’t moved the P.A. to even discuss halting the flow of funds to terrorists and their families. In 2018, it will spend about $360 million, approximately 7 percent of all of its revenues, on the various “heroes and martyrs” funds that go to those who kill or wound Israelis, or seek to do so. On Sunday, P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas reiterated this stand, saying that nothing would interfere with this practice.

To the Palestinians, this is not merely social-welfare spending for an estimated 35,000 families; it is also a matter of patriotism. The PLO—the parent group of the authority that Abbas rules despotically—has been doing this since it came into existence in 1965. The fact that this predates the “occupation” of the West Bank by two years should serve as a hint to observers as to the true cause of the conflict. But the point here is that the P.A. is not shy about saying why “pay to slay” is integral to what it means to be a Palestinian. Abbas and his Fatah Party, as well as Hamas, sees those who get the money as carrying out the national will of the Palestinian people. They believe these “heroes and martyrs” have every right to “resist” the presence of Jews on any part of the land on which the two peoples live.

That is why we need to ask Israel’s critics what it is they are actually protesting when they talk about the “occupation.” To those who see the existence of a Jewish state on any part of the territory between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea as a wrong that should be righted, it doesn’t really matter what the Palestinians do. If you think Israel shouldn’t exist and that Zionism is a racist crime, then all Palestinian acts of “resistance”—up to and including the most bestial acts of terrorism and mass murder—is both understandable and justified. If “occupation” means all of Israel, which is how the most Palestinians consider any land over which Jews have sovereignty, then there’s nothing really to talk about.

Along with Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, that’s also the perspective of groups that oppose Zionism elsewhere, including the United States. Their concern about the “occupation” isn’t a protest about West Bank settlements. Supporters of BDS and opponents of Zionism, like the Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow groups, are similarly either indifferent to or opposed to Israel’s continued existence, and therefore just as uninterested in Palestinian terror…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

Contents

   

PALESTINIAN SOVEREIGNTY AFTER ABBAS

Dr. Alex Joffe

BESA, July 13, 2018

Après moi, le deluge” – a form of blackmail – has a long and ignoble history in international affairs. Fomenting chaos and touting one’s own regime as the only possible safeguard is a basic policy tool of Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas. Internationalization of the conflict is another traditional tool. But what happens to the idea of Palestinian sovereignty when those two conflict?

Abbas is 82 years old and, as we are frequently reminded by Abbas himself, in poor health. His increasingly frequent hospitalizations are a reminder that his era of pseudo-stability will soon end. That pseudo-stability takes this form: the Israeli security apparatus keeps Hamas at bay in the West Bank, allowing Abbas to crack down on his rivals; and in exchange, the PA does not support a full-fledged uprising, only terrorism by individuals. The probability of chaos, in the form of Hamas efforts to take over the West Bank or factional warfare between “security services,” is very real.

What will not end is the century-old Palestinian tradition of demanding that the international community take responsibility for the conflict, provide material support, and guarantee a political outcome that is favorable to them. This is done continually in international fora like the UN and through the mechanisms of UNRWA, lawfare, and the international BDS movement. The Palestinians demand that they set the agenda and that the international community provide the muscle and the cash. Reciprocal demands are trivial and lip service only, such as an “end to incitement.” Even so, without fanfare, Palestinian sovereignty, or the promise thereof, is compromised.

The myth of indispensability is an old trick pioneered by the rais himself, Yasser Arafat. Abbas’s brinksmanship trades on the promise of his own mortality to extract material support from Europe and the US, much of which is then stolen, with full knowledge of the donors, by the PA. Abbas’s repeated threats to dissolve the PA are also in line with this strategy. Apparently only he can simultaneously blackmail donors with the threat of uncontrolled violence and ensure that violence is limited through payoffs.

Similarly, threats of violent leadership contests between old-time Fatah members such as Muhammad Dahlan and Marwan Barghouthi, or between nascent strongmen such as Jibril Rajoub, former head of preventive security in the West Bank, and Majid Faraj, chief of general intelligence, have been long discussed. The implicit promise to the West is, to paraphrase an apocryphal statement by US President Lyndon Johnson, they are bastards but at least they’ll be our bastards. Of course, selecting among future blackmailers is no easy task, for Palestinians or the West.

But these internal Palestinian battles have another context – an international one. For one thing, they are funded by the international community and by Arab states through support to the PA. For another, the PA is always demanding that the international community uncritically support it and its political positions. Internationalization of the conflict, by generating antipathy towards Zionists, Israel, and Jews, has been a Palestinian strategy for a century. Third, no Palestinian leader is truly independent. All have become tools of larger movements, from Hajj Amin Husseini onward.

Through the very act of demanding international support, Palestinians long ago lost international leadership of their own issue as Arab and Muslim regimes have used it to rally their own societies and, along with the Soviet bloc (and now the global red-green alliance), to create a wedge against the West. But where does all of this leave the idea of Palestinian sovereignty? By choice and by default, there has never actually been any, nor do Palestinian political elites promise any. The future shape of their own society has been out of their hands for decades. The pattern continues today. By internationalizing the conflict, Palestinian elites demand solutions imposed from outside on their own impossible terms, but settle for payoffs from donors unwilling to exercise their leverage…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

Netanyahu Visits Arson-Ravaged Gaza Border, Warns of a ‘Protracted Stuggle’: Stuart Winer, Times of Israel, July 16, 2018—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday paid a visit near the Gaza border — an area whose residents saw hundreds of rockets and mortar shells fired at them over the weekend and endured months of fires set by Palestinian incendiary kites and balloons — warning Israel was in a “protracted struggle.”

How to Report on the Next War in Gaza: Liel Leibovitz, Tablet, July 11, 2018—After Hamas spent months repeatedly attacking Israel’s border with Gaza, including dispatching fiery kites that consumed 2,260 acres of land—that’s just about three Central Parks laid to waste—Israel responded this week by shutting the Kerem Shalom crossing, banning anything save for food and medicine.

Economics Won’t Help. The Palestinians Will Continue with Terror Attacks: Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, JCPA, July 10, 2018—The ostensible connection between the Palestinian economy and terrorism is now taking center stage in discussions about the Palestinians.

Oslo is Obsolete: Time for a Victory Mindset: Gideon Saar, Jerusalem Post, July 06, 2018—Finding a solution to any conflict or disagreement between two sides demands the will and mutual understanding. It cannot be accomplished unilaterally.

 

 

HAMAS ADOPTS “KITE TERRORISM” AMID INCREASING POLITICAL & TERROR SETBACKS

Hamas’s Kite Terrorism: A Threat that Requires a Decisive Response: Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, BESA, June 20, 2018— Hamas’s setting of wildfires on thousands of hectares of natural woodland and farmland on the Israeli side of the Gaza border is a calculated and organized strategy.

The Decreasing Effectiveness of Hamas Terrorism: Hillel Frisch, Jerusalem Post, June 19, 2018— Hamas’s recent political setbacks are well known.

The Gaza Strip and “the Deal of the Century”: Yoni Ben Menachem, JCPA, June 21, 2018 — Senior figures in the Palestinian Authority are concerned about the visit of a U.S. team, led by Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt…

Palestinians: How to Achieve a Better Life: Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute, June 21, 2018— In the past two weeks, Palestinians received yet another reminder that they are living under undemocratic regimes that have less than no respect for public freedoms.

On Topic Links

The Many Ways Palestinians Violate International Law: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, June 17, 2018

Palestinians: Victims of Arab Apartheid: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, June 18, 2018

Why Abbas Refuses to Ease Sanctions on Gaza: Yoni Ben Menachem, JNS, June 14, 2018

UN: ‘Great Return March’ Increased Abuse of Women in Gaza: Elder of Ziyon, Algemeiner, June 13, 2018

 

HAMAS’S KITE TERRORISM:

A THREAT THAT REQUIRES A DECISIVE RESPONSE

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

BESA, June 20, 2018

Hamas’s setting of wildfires on thousands of hectares of natural woodland and farmland on the Israeli side of the Gaza border is a calculated and organized strategy. The immense damage being caused to property, wildlife, and natural resources is gradually transforming the area around the Strip into a wilderness, undermining Israel’s ability to provide peace and security to its residents.

The kibbutz movement did well to demand an end to this new terrorist modus operandi. And while the rules of engagement are undoubtedly the exclusive prerogative of the Chief-of-Staff rather than a subject for public debate, by demanding action the kibbutz movement has proved yet again that in the enforcement of state sovereignty, especially in frontier areas, there is no substitute for civilian steadfastness and clinging to the land.

This stands in stark contrast to the withdrawal from al-Hama in April 1951 after an IDF force that had been sent to patrol an area that was under Israeli sovereignty ran into a Syrian ambush that killed seven soldiers. Had there been a civilian community there, the withdrawal might well have generated an outcry and a demand for a more determined military response. In this respect, the kibbutz movement’s demand for a decisive response is emblematic of the traditional pioneering role of frontier communities.

Hamas’s management of the struggle along the fence displays an impressive degree of systemic adaptation. Anxious to avoid an all-out war, and keenly aware of the necessity of finding new means of sustaining the struggle, Hamas has been quick to realize the immense potential of kite terrorism. On the physical level, this method exhausts Israeli security and emergency forces on a daily basis. On the cognitive and legal levels, the activities – which are in some cases carried out by young boys – place Israel in a difficult political and diplomatic position in the international arena.

Although kite terrorism is presented as posing no direct threat to human life, its scope and significance cannot be denied. The question is this: is the state entitled to protect its assets and sovereignty only in those cases where there is a clear danger to human life?

The Talmudic literature recognized the uniqueness of the frontier long ago and established special rules that facilitated its distinct struggle for existence. The Sabbath regulations, for example, include a special stipulation allowing frontier residents to fight on the holy day in defense of their property. In the words of the Holy Scriptures: “Robbers who attack frontier Jews on the Sabbath should be fought even if they only tried to rob straw and hay.”

In other words, even a minor matter that does not ordinarily involve a life-saving situation becomes sufficiently life-threatening whenever it applies to frontier areas and, as such, justifies violating the Sabbath. This encapsulates the underlying ethos of frontier existence: those who cannot protect their straw and hay will have a hard time protecting their lives.

Moshe Dayan, as the Chief-of-Staff who masterminded the retaliation strategy of the early 1950s, explained the rationale of the IDF’s action: “The Arab states will not fight the infiltrators or punish them unless they find this to be in their own interest. The Arab army will awake to the need to fight infiltration only when it realizes that stealing a cow in Ramat Hakovesh is liable to hurt Qalqiliya and that murdering a Jew in Ruhama endangers the residents of Gaza.” The stealing of a cow and the burning of a field are not in and of themselves an existential threat. But by accumulating into a critical mass, they pose a threat that no sovereign state can afford to leave unanswered.

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THE DECREASING EFFECTIVENESS OF HAMAS TERRORISM                                       

Hillel Frisch

Jerusalem Post, June 19, 2018

 

Hamas’s recent political setbacks are well known. The most punishing was the downfall of Egyptian president and Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammad Morsi and his replacement by President al-Sisi, who destroyed the tunnel industry from which Hamas derived most of its revenues to rule Gaza. This was supplemented by moves on the part of the Palestinian Authority to deny Hamas revenue by reducing salaries to 70,000 PA employees in Gaza, by far the largest group of consumers in Gaza. The goal was similar to al-Sisi’s intent – to reduce imports from Israel means also less tax revenue for Hamas.

The downturn in Hamas’ fortunes is not only political, but equally in the exercise of terrorism. Starting from very lethal suicide terrorism in the 1990s through the Second Intifada, the substitutes since then – ballistic, tunnel and now kite terrorism – are decreasingly effective.

How effective suicide attacks by Hamas and its Islamic Jihad ally were in the Second Intifada can be gauged in the numbers of its victims. In the course of three years, these two organizations were responsible for the murder of 400 Israeli citizens (and tens of foreigners), with Hamas doing the lion’s share of the bloodletting. Its effectiveness did not only end there. Suicide bombings brought about the only absolute contraction of the Israeli economy since the state’s inception – what no war with the Arab states brought about, including year-and-a-half-long War of Independence.

The effectiveness of suicide bombing, in fact, the very phenomenon of this lethal means, came to an end after Israel reconquered Area A in the Palestinian Authority in 2002, with nearly daily penetrations and arrests of would-be terrorists since then. The destruction of the sanctuaries that enabled Hamas to plan elaborate suicide bombings – coupled with the smashing of its human infrastructure through incessant arrests of its operants – considerably reduced the capabilities of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

When this happened, Hamas, like most violent organizations, looked for substitute means to hurt the enemy. The decline in suicide bombings was followed by the spectacular rise from 2004 in missile launchings and by continuous improvement in the payload they carried and in the distance they traversed – so much so that by 2006, the number of Israelis directly affected by the missiles increased from 25,000 inhabitants in the immediate areas bordering Gaza to hundreds of thousands who lived in major cities such Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon and beyond.

For all the feelings of terror that the launching of over 14,000 missiles between 2004-2014 engendered, the phenomenon largely came to an end after the third bout between Hamas and Israel in the summer of 2014. The effects of missile terrorism were not nearly as costly to Israel as suicide bombings. Military expenditures as a percentage of gross domestic product and as a percentage of total government expenditures continued to decline, whereas at the height of the Second Intifada they remained level. Missile terrorism was far less costly in human terms as well. Even if we take all the casualties of the three rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas, mortalities add up to approximately 120, less than one-third the human price that Israel paid during the wave of suicide bombings. Note also the wave of missile terrorism took place over 10 years, compared to suicide bombing wave, which lasted three years.

Whereas the effectiveness of suicide terrorism was vastly reduced as a result of military punishment meted by the IDF and the Israel Security Agency, missile terrorism became less effective over time due to technological developments that denied Hamas much of the potency of this means of terrorism. BESA associate Uzi Rubin, in his extensive studies on the Iron Dome anti-missile system published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, plotted its growing effectiveness over time. In the flare-up in 2014, only two of the 72 Israeli deaths during the 55 days of fighting resulted from missile launchings. By then, Hamas had already figured out that tunnel attacks, at first considered a supplement to its arsenal, could become a major substitute for missile launchings.

Just as missile terrorism was far less effective than suicide bombing, tunnel terrorism was less effective than both, essentially foiled by technological developments. Since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, Hamas scored successes in tunnel forays in 2006 with the killing of two tank crew members and the capture of a third, for which it successfully negotiated the release of over 1,000 Palestinian terrorists in 2011. During the course of the 2014 campaign, Hamas used tunneling to surprise Israeli forces and succeeded in killing 11 soldiers in three separate incidents.

Significantly, it never used the tunnels it dug into Israel territory, partially out of fear that Israel had developed means to monitor and mine them, as indeed it proved in the killing of at least 12 Islamic Jihad terrorists in October 2017. In any event, the price tag to Israel of tunnel terrorism was only a fraction of the costs of missile terrorism.

It is against the backdrop of the never-ending quest to find substitutes to increasingly ineffective terrorist measures that Hamas’ innovation of kite terrorism can be understood. Though it is too early to say conclusively that this means is the poorest substitute of all those that preceded it, it would seem that a solution will be found before it becomes lethal rather than merely destructive, as it is at present. Of course, a technological solution would be best, but in its absence, some innovative combat moves against the perpetrators would be welcome.  Increasingly admired as a military force that reacts effectively to the innovations of its enemies, the IDF is now faced with a golden opportunity to show that operating beyond enemy lines in daring and innovative ways is not only a legacy of the past.

 

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THE GAZA STRIP AND “THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY”

Yoni Ben Menachem

JCPA, June 21, 2018

Senior figures in the Palestinian Authority are concerned about the visit of a U.S. team, led by Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, to the region and American preparations for promoting President Trump’s peace plan, known as “the deal of the century.”  With this in mind, they see the June 18, 2018, meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and King Abdullah II of Jordan in Amman as an additional American-Israeli attempt to soften the King’s opposition to “the deal of the century” and an American effort to create a barrier between him and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Sources in the Authority do not dismiss the possibility that Prime Minister Netanyahu has soothed the Jordanian monarch’s concerns regarding anything challenging Jordan’s position as guardian of the holy sites in Jerusalem, in accordance with the 1994 peace agreement between Israel and Jordan, and that Netanyahu has promised that Jordan’s position will not be harmed by “the deal of the century.”

The Palestinian Authority claims that the Trump administration is trying to use the Gaza Strip as a “key” to present to the leaders of the moderate Arab states to advance “the deal of the century.” These Arab leaders want complete calm in Gaza, and they are concerned that continued violence and the “return march” campaign will upset the stability in their own countries and will lead to a military confrontation between Israel and Hamas on the southern border, the results of which would be particularly hard on the Palestinians.

The fears of the senior PA officials are based on a report in the Haaretz newspaper on June 17, 2018, that, according to sources in the Trump administration, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt will try to raise between $500 million and $1 billion from Qatar and Saudi Arabia for a series of projects serving the Gaza Strip. It is hoped that these projects will quiet the security situation and create positive momentum for the presentation of President Trump’s “the deal of the century” plan.

Among other things, projects built in northern Sinai will provide the needs of the residents of Gaza, such as solar energy, a power station, and a seaport. Some of these ideas were presented to the U.S. team during a conference at the White House in March 13, 2018, by the then-coordinator of activities in the territories Gen. Yoav (Poli) Mordechai. PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas was invited to the conference, attended by the representatives of 20 countries, but he boycotted it. Of course, implementing these ideas requires the agreement of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

A considerable part of “the deal of the century” deals with the Gaza Strip. According to PA sources, which learned about the plan from Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the Gaza Strip will be declared an independent state together with parts of the West Bank, excluding east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. The Palestinian capital will be located in the Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis, along with several Arab neighborhoods in northern Jerusalem.

All of this is meant to solve the problems of the Gaza Strip and soften the resistance of Arab leaders to the new U.S. peace plan. Senior sources in the Palestinian Authority told the Al-Hayat newspaper on June 17, 2018, that Kushner and Greenblatt are working to raise Arab funding for essential projects in Gaza in order to put it at the center of a diplomatic solution in accordance with Trump’s “deal of the century.” Nabil Abu Rudeina, the PA chairman’s spokesman, claims that the United States and Israel are planning to separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank under the headline “humanitarian aid for Gaza.”

He added that the Palestinian leadership warns against any measures where the objective is to bypass the Palestinian “national project” and perpetuate the division of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and to compromise on Jerusalem and the holy sites.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is continuing to boycott the Trump administration since its declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. He also continues to rail against the administration and to “reveal” the details of “the deal of the century” plan even though he has never seen any of its details. Abbas is afraid of possible betrayal by the Arab leaders over the Palestinian problem because, for them, the Iranian danger takes priority.

Therefore, the senior officials of the Palestinian Authority make sure to issue regular reminders through the media that not only is the PA chairman opposed to “the deal of the century,” but so are all of the leaders of the Arab countries. Nabil Shaath, Mahmoud Abbas’ adviser for international affairs, told the Al-Hayat newspaper on June 17, 2018, that the Palestinians relied on the resistance of the Arab leaders to “the deal of the century” and that they promised to oppose any diplomatic plan that was not acceptable to the Palestinian leadership.

PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas has been working in recent months to build a Palestinian, Arab, and international consensus to torpedo “the deal of the century,” the motto of which is “there’s no state in Gaza, and there’s no state without Gaza.” The Trump administration is now working hard to break up this consensus. Hamas terror in the Gaza Strip is increasing the concerns of the leaders of the Arab world who want quiet, and it is most likely that they will cooperate with the ideas of President Trump.

 

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PALESTINIANS: HOW TO ACHIEVE A BETTER LIFE

                                                         Bassam Tawil       

Gatestone Institute, June 21, 2018

In the past two weeks, Palestinians received yet another reminder that they are living under undemocratic regimes that have less than no respect for public freedoms. The regimes of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip never miss an opportunity to remind their people of the dire consequences that await anyone who speaks out against the leaders. The two Palestinian regimes have been forcing it down the throats of their people for many years.

Still, some Palestinians seem surprised each time the PA or Hamas send their police officers to break up (or, more precisely, to break bones in) a demonstration in Ramallah or the Gaza Strip. The streets of Ramallah and Gaza City showcase, yet again, that the Palestinians’ true tragedy over the past five decades has been failed and corrupt leadership — one that keeps dragging them from one disaster to another; one that never offers them any hope; one that has been radicalizing and brainwashing its people; one that steals large portions of the financial aid provided by the international community, and one that has brought them nothing but dictatorship and repression.

The Palestinian Authority is nearly 25 years old, but it continues to act as a corrupt dictatorship. Like most Arab regimes, the PA and its leaders have zero tolerance for any form of criticism. Ask Palestinian journalists, bloggers and pundits in the West Bank and they will tell you (in private and anonymously; they would like to save their skins) how the Palestinian Authority cracks down on them and imposes severe restrictions on their work. In the past year alone, at least 11 Palestinian journalists and political activists have either been arrested or summoned for interrogation by Palestinian security forces in the West Bank. The charge: voicing various forms of criticism against the Palestinian Authority or one of its senior officials, including, of course, President Mahmoud Abbas.

Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority went one step further in demonstrating to its constituents what dictatorship looks like. Hundreds of Palestinians were staging a peaceful demonstration in the center of Ramallah to call on Abbas to lift the sanctions he had imposed on the Gaza Strip a year earlier. The sanctions, which severely aggravated the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip, included firing thousands of PA civil servants and cutting off social assistance to many families. Abbas has also refused to pay for the electricity and medical care that Israel supplies to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas placed the sanctions on the Gaza Strip in the hope that affected Palestinians would revolt against his enemies in Hamas. So far, however, his measures seem to have backfired. Hamas is still in power and there is almost no real challenge to its rule over the Gaza Strip. Also, Abbas does not want to bear any responsibility for his people in the Gaza Strip; he wants the Gaza Strip to be the problem of Israel, Egypt and the rest of the world. Anyone who thinks that Abbas is eager to go back to the Gaza Strip is living in a dream world. (Hamas expelled the Palestinian Authority and Abbas from the Gaza Strip in 2007).

Abbas does not like to be reminded of his responsibility for what many describe as a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, and he does not want any Palestinians to protest the punitive measures he imposed on the Gaza Strip. First, Abbas issued a directive banning Palestinians from protesting in the major cities in the West Bank. His directive, however, did not stop hundreds of Palestinian activists from taking to the streets of Ramallah on June 13 to condemn Abbas’s sanctions. What was supposed to be a peaceful protest turned out to be one of the most violent clashes between Abbas’s security forces and demonstrators, whose only crime was that they were calling on their leader to lift the sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians in the West Bank are also trying to show solidarity with their brothers in the Gaza Strip. They seem to be beginning to realize that Abbas, instead of helping the people in the Gaza Strip, is actually punishing them by cutting off their salaries and denying them medical and humanitarian aid. The Ramallah protest also came amid growing criticism (mainly from the Gaza Strip) that the Palestinians of the West Bank are indifferent to the suffering of their brothers in the Gaza Strip. On instructions from Abbas, dozens of Palestinian policemen, both in uniform and civilian clothes, attacked the protesters with brute force, using clubs and tear gas. More than 44 protestors were arrested and 20 injured…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

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On Topic Links

The Many Ways Palestinians Violate International Law: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, June 17, 2018—The international community unleashed a new round of Israel-bashing at the UN General Assembly on June 14, 2018, on the issue of the Hamas-generated riots and demonstrations along the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians: Victims of Arab Apartheid: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, June 18, 2018—Lebanon is one of several Arab countries where Palestinians are subjected to discriminatory and apartheid laws and measures. The plight of Palestinians in Arab countries, however, is apparently of no interest to the international community, pro-Palestinian activists and groups around the world.

Why Abbas Refuses to Ease Sanctions on Gaza: Yoni Ben Menachem, JNS, June 14, 2018 —The two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip are paying the price for the political rivalry between Fatah and Hamas. This week, the Israeli government’s Security Cabinet decided not to make any further humanitarian concessions to Gaza as long as Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas stands firm in his refusal to remove the sanctions that he imposed on Gaza a year ago.

UN: ‘Great Return March’ Increased Abuse of Women in Gaza: Elder of Ziyon, Algemeiner, June 13, 2018—The United Nations Population Fund has written a report about the dangers to Gaza’s women as a result of the “Great Return March.” The report proves that Palestinian society is pretty sick — and it identifies four groups of Gazan women that were negatively impacted by the riots.

WESTERN MEDIA PLAYS INTO HAMAS’ PROPAGANDA AND “DEAD BABY STRATEGY”

Why Does the Media Keep Encouraging Hamas Violence?: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, May 17, 2018— If this were the first time that Hamas deliberately provoked Israel into self-defense actions that resulted in the unintended deaths of Gaza civilians, the media could be excused for playing into the hands of Hamas.

The Media War on Palestinian Agency: Sohrab Ahmari, Commentary, May 14, 2018— Palestinian Arabs are human beings, which means they are possessed of free will, agency, and the natural capacity to reason like any other people.

Media Goes Wild in Anti-Trump, Anti-Israel Fervor: Ben Shapiro, The Hill, May 15, 2018 — On Tuesday, the New York Daily News ran with another of its desperate appeals for circulation.

Falling for Hamas’s Split-Screen Fallacy: Matti Friedman, New York Times, May 16, 2018— During my years in the international press here in Israel, long before the bloody events of this week, I came to respect Hamas for its keen ability to tell a story.

 

On Topic Links

‘Canada Would Do Exactly the Same Thing’: Israel’s Deputy Minister Defends Gaza Border Violence (Interview): CBC, May 16, 2018

Guardian Editorial on Gaza Perfectly Shows the Media’s Anti-Israel Bias and Hatred: Adam Levick, Algemeiner, May 16, 2018

Hamas Official: Majority of Palestinians Killed in Violent Protests are Our Men: IPT News, May 16, 2018

Why Is Hamas So Interested in Palestinian Deaths?: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, JCPA, May 16, 2018

 

WHY DOES THE MEDIA KEEP ENCOURAGING HAMAS VIOLENCE?

Alan M. Dershowitz

Gatestone Institute, May 17, 2018

 

If this were the first time that Hamas deliberately provoked Israel into self-defense actions that resulted in the unintended deaths of Gaza civilians, the media could be excused for playing into the hands of Hamas. The most recent Hamas provocations — having 40,000 Gazans try to tear down the border fence and enter Israel with Molotov cocktails and other improvised weapons — are part of a repeated Hamas tactic that I have called the “dead baby strategy.” Hamas’ goal is to have Israel kill as many Gazans as possible so that the headlines always begin, and often end, with the body count. Hamas deliberately sends women and children to the front line, while their own fighters hide behind these human shields.

Hamas leaders have long acknowledged this tactic. Fathi Hammad, a Hamas Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, stated as far back as 2008: “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.'”

Hamas used this tactic to provoke two wars with Israel in which their fighters fired rockets from civilian areas, including hospitals, schools and mosques. When Israel responded, it tried its best to avoid civilian casualties, dropping warning leaflets, calling residents of potential targets and dropping non-lethal noise bombs on the roofs of houses that were being used to launch rockets and store explosives. Inevitably, some civilians were killed, and the media blamed Israel for these deaths, despite the precautions it had taken. The same was true when Hamas built terror tunnels used to kidnap Israeli civilians. The entrances to these tunnels were in civilian areas as well, including mosques and schools. Using their own civilians as human shields, while targeting Israeli civilians, is a double war crime. Yet, the media generally focuses on Israel’s reaction to these war crimes, rather than Hamas’ war crimes.

The cruel reality is that every time Israel accidentally kills a Gaza civilian, Israel loses. And every time Israel kills a Gaza civilian, Hamas wins. Israelis grieve every civilian death its army accidentally causes. Hamas benefits from every death Israel accidentally causes. That is why it encourages its women and children to become martyrs. Calling this the “dead baby strategy” may seem cruel, because it is cruel. But don’t blame the messenger for accurately describing this tactic. Blame those who cynically use it. And blame the media for playing into the hands of those who use it by reporting only the body count and not the deliberate Hamas tactic that leads to one-sided body counts.

It is true that Gaza is in a desperate situation and that it is wounded. But the wound is self-inflicted. When Israel ended its occupation of the Gaza Strip — removing every single soldier and settler — Gaza could have become the Singapore of the Mediterranean. It is a beautiful area with a large seacoast. It received infusions of cash and other help from Europe. Israel left behind agricultural equipment and greenhouses. But instead of using these resources to feed, house and educate its citizens, Hamas built rockets and terror tunnels. It threw dissenters off roofs and murdered members of the Palestinian Authority who were willing to recognize Israel and negotiate with it.

Hamas rejects the two-state solution or any solution that leaves Israel intact. Its only solution is violence, and the events at the fence these past days are a manifestation of that violence. Would any country in the world allow 40,000 people, sworn to its destruction, to knock down a border fence and attack its citizens living peacefully near the border? Of course not. Could Israel have done more to reduce casualties among those trying to breach the border fence? I don’t know, and neither do the legions of armchair generals that are currently criticizing Israel for the steps it took to prevent a catastrophe among the residents of villages and towns that are proximate to the border fence.

One thing is crystal-clear: Hamas will continue to use the dead baby strategy as long as the media continues to report the deaths in the manner in which it has reported them in recent weeks. Many in the media are complicit in these deaths because their one-sided reporting encourages Hamas to send innocent women and children to the front line. Perhaps Israel could do a better job in defending its civilians, but it is certain that the media can do a better job in accurately reporting the Hamas strategy that results in so many innocent deaths.

There is a marvelous cartoon that illustrates the difference between Hamas and Israel. It shows an Israeli soldier standing in front of a baby carriage with a baby in it, shielding the baby. Then it shows a Hamas terrorist standing behind a baby carriage with the baby in it, using the baby to shield him. This cartoon better illustrates the reality that is occurring at the Gaza fence than most of the “objective” reporting by the media.

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THE MEDIA WAR ON PALESTINIAN AGENCY

Sohrab Ahmari

Commentary, May 14, 2018

Palestinian Arabs are human beings, which means they are possessed of free will, agency, and the natural capacity to reason like any other people. This basic, incontestable anthropological reality needs to be frequently restated today since our media and foreign-policy establishment has apparently concluded the opposite. The latest media assault on Palestinian agency came Monday, as Israelis celebrated the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, while Palestinians attempted to infiltrate en masse the barrier fence that separates the Jewish state from the terrorist-run Gaza Strip to the south.

By the Western media’s dim lights, the blame for Hamas’s criminal stunt and the casualties it caused lay with . . . anybody and everybody but Hamas and the Palestinians. The narrative emerged early on Twitter, and the social-media platform’s deplorable tendency to flatten reality into cheap, emotive images no doubt accelerated its dissemination. The juxtaposition–of “Jivanka” and Benjamin Netanyahu celebrating in Jerusalem while Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians at the Gaza border–proved irresistible to reporters. The BBC’s Katty Kay, for example, was quick to point out that President Trump’s warm words for the Jewish state came while there were “41 dead on the Israel Gaza border today.” An AFP White House correspondent posted the two sets of images side-by-side–a smiling and clapping Bibi next to a photo of fire and smoke from Gaza–with the words: “Quite the disconnect.” He had garnered more than 2,600 retweets as of this writing.

Then there was Peter Beinart (Marshall, declined): “While Jewish + Christian bigots celebrate an occupied city, Jewish soldiers kill people fleeing an open-air prison. As a great lover of Zion said long ago, ‘This is not the way.’” Yes, “fleeing.” That is an interesting way to describe a concerted, Iranian-regime-funded operation to violate Israeli sovereignty and do “whatever is possible, to kill, throw stones,” as the Washington Post quoted one of the “protesters” describing the movement’s goals.

The Palestinians’ more sophisticated friends know what Hamas is all about. They understand that young men whipped into a frenzy by an organization that exists to destroy world Jewry, per its charter, aren’t exactly latter-day Freedom Riders. But they think that the Palestinians can’t help themselves. While they expect Israel–a state encircled by hostile populations and threatened with nuclear extinction by the Iranian mullahs–to behave like Norway, of the Palestinians they have the most dismal, if any, expectations.

Thus Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer tweeted: “The Palestinians killed today knew Israeli Defense Forces would use lethal force in response to their demonstrations. It didn’t stop them. They felt hopeless.” The Mideast reporter Sulome Anderson echoed his sentiments: “Imagine the desperation it takes to walk into live gunfire from the Middle East’s most powerful fighting force, armed with nothing more than rocks & the occasional Molotov or grenade. Try to conceive of the circumstances that could drive so many human beings to such an act.”

Or maybe try to conceive of the poisonous power of Hamas’s anti-Semitic ideology and the Palestinians’ permanently aggrieved mentality, which has allowed the conflict to fester despite numerous peace offers from the Israeli side. There are desperate people all over the world who never translate their frustration into suicide bombing, stone throwing, border-rushing, and violent “Days of Rage.” It does the Palestinians no good to treat them as children entitled to tantrums, as permanent wards of the international community or, worst, as wild men bereft of reason. Then again, such highhanded pity isn’t really about helping the Palestinians so much as it is about flattering their Western friends.

Meanwhile, Israel has good reason to celebrate: 70 years of independence, a dynamic economy, an innovative tech industry, a vibrant public square, a globally influential culture, demographics that are the envy of the West, burgeoning alliances with former enemies, and now American recognition of its capital. Leave it to the New York Times to frame the anniversary as a moment of “peril” and a “nightmare taking shape.” The Times dispatch, by David Halbfinger, acknowledges these successes. But it claims that “Israelis seem not to know what to feel” and quotes historian Tom Segev, who says that the “future is very bleak.” This is a distorted picture of Israeli sentiment. Massive celebrations have been going on for weeks, involving hundreds of thousands of people. It does, however, reveal the psychological anguish in the Times newsroom over the Jewish state’s triumph.

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MEDIA GOES WILD IN ANTI-TRUMP, ANTI-ISRAEL FERVOR                                                               Ben Shapiro                                                                                                                       The Hill, May 15, 2018

 

On Tuesday, the New York Daily News ran with another of its desperate appeals for circulation. This time, it blamed Ivanka Trump for Hamas-generated violence in the Gaza Strip. The cover featured a grinning Ivanka, dressed to the nines, at the inauguration of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. But instead of her gesturing to the placard featured on the new embassy, the Daily News photoshopped in a photo of a wounded Palestinian on the Gaza border — so now Ivanka was gesturing at Palestinian suffering, a smile spread broadly across her face. The headline: “DADDY’S LITTLE GHOUL.”

This is absolutely abhorrent. It’s also reflective of the media coverage of both the Trump administration and Israel overall. The media have been repeating Hamas propaganda — and, presumably, they know it. They’ve been claiming that Israel is killing “protesters,” even though these are Hamas-led riots. They’ve been claiming that Israel has been targeting civilians, when it is clear this is not the case. And now they’re claiming that the Trump administration is to blame. The Washington Post headlined, “Israelis kill dozens of Palestinians in Gaza protesting U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem.”

The violence in the Gaza Strip has been ongoing for weeks, and has been entirely orchestrated by Hamas. Palestinians, including Hamas terrorists, have been throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli troops, as well as explosive devices and stones; they’ve been burning tires and attempting to cut through the border fence with wirecutters. The Israel Defense Forces spokesperson, Ronen Manelis, says Hamas is paying families to protest, and that they have intelligence that Hamas seeks to kidnap an Israeli soldier.

Hamas’ leadership has announced that it seeks to promote violence along the border, and has activated tens of thousands of Palestinians as public cover for that violence. Hamas’s leader, Yahya Sinwar, said last month, “We will take down their border and we will tear out their hearts from their bodies.” Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al Zahhar openly told al Jazeera, “This is not a peaceful resistance … when we talk about peaceful resistance, we are deceiving the public. This is peaceful resistance bolstered by a military force and by security agencies and enjoying tremendous public support.” Palestinian participants know this. NPR asked a Gazan flying a kite with a swastika about his motivation. His answer: “We want them to burn.” Mohammed Mansoura, a 23-year-old “protester,” explained, “We are excited to storm and get inside … whatever is possible, to kill, throw stones.”

Palestinian rioters captured by Israel have said the same thing. According to the Israeli Security Agency, Yahiya Eijle, a Hamas member arrested on April 29, told them that Hamas was instructing its activists to cut the fence, that they want their activity to be seen “in the international media as a popular uprising, and not as violent action led by its militants,” and that Hamas members are embedded in the general population for purposes of public relations. Another Palestinian terrorist captured by Israel stated that “Hamas militants in civilian clothes encourage children to try to cross the fence in order to steal IDF equipment.”

Yet according to the media, all of this is Israel’s fault — or the fault of the dastardly Trump administration. Never mind that Hamas has participated in ongoing war with Israel since its election in 2006, the year after Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip. Never mind that Hamas routinely locates terrorists among civilians in order to mislead the media into believing that Israel targets civilians. (Hamas hid its headquarters during the 2014 Gaza war in a hospital). No, it must be Ivanka Trump’s fault.

Let’s be clear: Ivanka Trump’s presence in Israel to announce the inauguration of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem has nothing to do with the violence. Blaming Ivanka Trump for the situation in Gaza isn’t just politically illiterate, it’s utterly immoral. Ivanka is Jewish; her husband is Jewish; they were in Israel to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment. To photoshop her on the cover of a newspaper grinning as she gestures to a picture of a wounded Palestinian is nothing less than a blood libel. But all’s fair in love and anti-Trump garbage these days

 

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FALLING FOR HAMAS’S SPLIT-SCREEN FALLACY

Matti Friedman

New York Times, May 16, 2018

During my years in the international press here in Israel, long before the bloody events of this week, I came to respect Hamas for its keen ability to tell a story. At the end of 2008 I was a desk editor, a local hire in The Associated Press’s Jerusalem bureau, during the first serious round of violence in Gaza after Hamas took it over the year before. That conflict was grimly similar to the American campaign in Iraq, in which a modern military fought in crowded urban confines against fighters concealed among civilians. Hamas understood early that the civilian death toll was driving international outrage at Israel, and that this, not I.E.D.s or ambushes, was the most important weapon in its arsenal.

Early in that war, I complied with Hamas censorship in the form of a threat to one of our Gaza reporters and cut a key detail from an article: that Hamas fighters were disguised as civilians and were being counted as civilians in the death toll. The bureau chief later wrote that printing the truth after the threat to the reporter would have meant “jeopardizing his life.” Nonetheless, we used that same casualty toll throughout the conflict and never mentioned the manipulation.

Hamas understood that Western news outlets wanted a simple story about villains and victims and would stick to that script, whether because of ideological sympathy, coercion or ignorance. The press could be trusted to present dead human beings not as victims of the terrorist group that controls their lives, or of a tragic confluence of events, but of an unwarranted Israeli slaughter. The willingness of reporters to cooperate with that script gave Hamas the incentive to keep using it.

The next step in the evolution of this tactic was visible in Monday’s awful events. If the most effective weapon in a military campaign is pictures of civilian casualties, Hamas seems to have concluded, there’s no need for a campaign at all. All you need to do is get people killed on camera. The way to do this in Gaza, in the absence of any Israeli soldiers inside the territory, is to try to cross the Israeli border, which everyone understands is defended with lethal force and is easy to film. About 40,000 people answered a call to show up. Many of them, some armed, rushed the border fence. Many Israelis, myself included, were horrified to see the number of fatalities reach 60.

Most Western viewers experienced these events through a visual storytelling tool: a split screen. On one side was the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem in the presence of Ivanka Trump, evangelical Christian allies of the White House and Israel’s current political leadership — an event many here found curious and distant from our national life. On the other side was the terrible violence in the desperately poor and isolated territory. The juxtaposition was disturbing.

The attempts to breach the Gaza fence, which Palestinians call the March of Return, began in March and have the stated goal of erasing the border as a step toward erasing Israel. A central organizer, the Hamas leader Yehya Sinwar, exhorted participants on camera in Arabic to “tear out the hearts” of Israelis. But on Monday the enterprise was rebranded as a protest against the embassy opening, with which it was meticulously timed to coincide. The split screen, and the idea that people were dying in Gaza because of Donald Trump, was what Hamas was looking for.

The press coverage on Monday was a major Hamas success in a war whose battlefield isn’t really Gaza, but the brains of foreign audiences. Israeli soldiers facing Gaza have no good choices. They can warn people off with tear gas or rubber bullets, which are often inaccurate and ineffective, and if that doesn’t work, they can use live fire. Or they can hold their fire to spare lives and allow a breach, in which case thousands of people will surge into Israel, some of whom — the soldiers won’t know which — will be armed fighters. (On Wednesday a Hamas leader, Salah Bardawil, told a Hamas TV station that 50 of the dead were Hamas members. The militant group Islamic Jihad claimed three others.) If such a breach occurs, the death toll will be higher. And Hamas’s tactic, having proved itself, would likely be repeated by Israel’s enemies on its borders with Syria and Lebanon.

Knowledgeable people can debate the best way to deal with this threat. Could a different response have reduced the death toll? Or would a more aggressive response deter further actions of this kind and save lives in the long run? What are the open-fire orders on the India-Pakistan border, for example? Is there something Israel could have done to defuse things beforehand?

These are good questions. But anyone following the response abroad saw that this wasn’t what was being discussed. As is often the case where Israel is concerned, things quickly became hysterical and divorced from the events themselves. Turkey’s president called it “genocide.” A writer for The New Yorker took the opportunity to tweet some of her thoughts about “whiteness and Zionism,” part of an odd trend that reads America’s racial and social problems into a Middle Eastern society 6,000 miles away. The sicknesses of the social media age — the disdain for expertise and the idea that other people are not just wrong but villainous — have crept into the worldview of people who should know better.

For someone looking out from here, that’s the real split-screen effect: On one side, a complicated human tragedy in a corner of a region spinning out of control. On the other, a venomous and simplistic story, a symptom of these venomous and simplistic times.

 

Contents

On Topic Links

‘Canada Would Do Exactly the Same Thing’: Israel’s Deputy Minister Defends Gaza Border Violence (Interview): CBC, May 16, 2018—Israeli Deputy Minister Michael Oren blames Hamas for the bloodshed at the Israel-Gaza border this week, and says the media is doing the militant group’s bidding. Israeli forces killed at least 60 Palestinians, most by gunfire, and injured more than 2,700 since Monday during protests near the border.

Guardian Editorial on Gaza Perfectly Shows the Media’s Anti-Israel Bias and Hatred: Adam Levick, Algemeiner, May 16, 2018—The first thing that stands out in The Guardian’s latest official editorial on the Gaza border riots is the absence of even one use of the word “Hamas” in more than 600 words of text, despite the fact that the violence has been organized and funded by the terror group.

Hamas Official: Majority of Palestinians Killed in Violent Protests are Our Men: IPT News, May 16, 2018—Hamas official Salah Bardawil may have destroyed the narrative that Israel is indiscriminately killing non-violent protesters at the Gaza border. The vast majority of Palestinians killed, Bardawil told a Palestinian interviewer, were Hamas fighters.

Why Is Hamas So Interested in Palestinian Deaths?: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, JCPA, May 16, 2018—Hamas defined the day of violent clashes at Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, on May 14, 2018, during which some 59 Palestinians were claimed to have been killed, as living proof of a victory for jihad and the armed struggle against Israel. It openly admitted that these were not spontaneous demonstrations but a campaign orchestrated by Hamas and other Palestinian organizations defined as terrorist groups in the West.

 

HAMAS ORCHESTRATES VIOLENT GAZA “PROTESTS” AMID U.S. EMBASSY MOVE & ESCALATING ISRAEL-IRAN TENSION

The Gaza ‘Protests’: Editorial, Weekly Standard, May 15, 2018 — On Monday President Donald Trump fulfilled his campaign promise to move the United States embassy in Israel to the country’s capital, Jerusalem.

Smoke & Mirrors: Six Weeks of Violence on the Gaza Border: Richard Kemp, Gatestone Institute, May 14, 2018— Since 30th March Hamas has been orchestrating large-scale violence on the border between Gaza and Israel.

Israel Unleashes Powerful Strike Capabilities After Iran Hits First: Yaakov Lappin, JNS, May 10, 2018— In striking more than 50 Iranian military targets within 90 minutes early on Thursday morning, the Israel Defense Force displayed just a sample of its advanced, intelligence-fueled precision firepower, dealing a crushing blow to Iran’s assets in Syria.

What Might an Israel-Iran War Look Like?: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, May 10, 2018— In both word and deed, Israel is firmly committed to its red lines.

On Topic Links

Hamas has Taken Gaza Back to the Stone Age: Jason Greenblatt, Jerusalem Post, May 11, 2018

For Hamas, Dancing on the Brink of Chaos is a Winning Tactic: Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel, May 15, 2018

Conflicting Claims Swirl As Israel Continues Air War Against Iranian Interests In Syria: Joseph Trevithick, The Drive, Apr. 17, 2018

Israel’s Nuclear and Conventional Deterrence: Prof. Louis René Beres, BESA, Apr. 29, 2018

 

THE GAZA ‘PROTESTS’

Editorial

Weekly Standard, May 15, 2018

On Monday President Donald Trump fulfilled his campaign promise to move the United States embassy in Israel to the country’s capital, Jerusalem. As usual, the American and European media’s coverage interpreted the event in the worst possible light for the nation of Israel. One learns very little from our mainstream news sources about what the move may mean for the nations primarily concerned—Israel and the United States—but a great deal about the Palestinian “protests” happening along Israel’s southern border with Gaza: Headlines in the New York Times and Washington Post proclaimed (misleadingly) “Israel Kills Dozens and Wounds 1700 at Gaza Border” and “Over 50 Killed in Gaza Protests as U.S. Opens Embassy in Jerusalem.”

We put the word “protests” in quotation marks advisedly. In ordinary English usage, a protest is a collective action or gesture meant to bring pressure on a government or corporate entity. The Gaza “protests” are meant to bring pressure on Israel, but they’re intended mainly to kill and maim both Israelis and the Palestinian “protesters” themselves.

These demonstrations would be better described as suicide-riots. For nearly two months, Hamas and other militant factions have been encouraging young Palestinian men to storm the fence separating Gaza from Israel. The rioters cut holes in the fence, charge Israeli guards with crude weapons like axes, and lob fire bombs over the wall in attempts to set Israeli fields on fire. Hamas has pledged to massacre those on the other side of the fence, and these riots are expressions of that intention. Israeli defense forces are obliged to respond with force. An axe-clutching Palestinian insanely charging into Israeli territory isn’t a “protester” but a combatant and a terrorist. The fact that he doesn’t expect to prevail against the might of the Israel Defense Forces—he is in essence on a suicide mission—doesn’t somehow oblige Israeli soldiers not to use force to stop him. The Israelis have no choice but to fire back, and they do, often with deadly results.

This is Hamas’s longstanding strategy: The more Palestinian young men die, the more hellish the conditions of Palestinian neighborhoods, the more sympathy aroused in Western media. Hence Palestinian rioters’ destruction of the only cargo passage through which cooking fuel can get to Gaza’s 2 million residents. The act of vandalism appears senseless unless you understand Hamas’s aim is to make Palestinians destitute for the benefit of Western media.

And the Western media generally fill their expected role by placing at least an equal share of the blame on Israel and its American backers. So, for instance, American and European media readily accept casualty statistics from the Gaza Health Ministry, a Hamas outfit deliberately aiming to exaggerate Palestinian deaths. These same media, similarly, nearly always accept as genuine the reasons for the riots expressed by Palestinian organizations. Eighteen years ago, it was Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple mount that supposedly sparked the second intifada and the attendant bloodshed. This time, we’re told, it’s Trump’s embassy move that gives Palestinians license to plunder their own resources in acts of irrational rage.

Most ordinary Palestinians, however, appear to be smarter than the smart people whose job it is to give us news about Israel and the Palestinian territories. Despite all the violence in Gaza, the place where most Palestinians live—the West Bank—has remained largely quiet. The Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, too, have been devoid of riots. All contrary to the dire predictions of Western experts who foresaw destruction and bloodshed across the Arab world in response to the U.S. decision to move its embassy.

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SMOKE & MIRRORS: SIX WEEKS OF VIOLENCE ON THE GAZA BORDER

Richard Kemp

Gatestone Institute, May 14, 2018

Since 30th March Hamas has been orchestrating large-scale violence on the border between Gaza and Israel. The major flare-ups have generally occurred on Fridays, following mosque prayers, when we have repeatedly seen concerted action involving crowds of up to 40,000 people in five separate areas along the border. Violence and aggressive actions, including specific acts of terrorism involving explosives and firearms, have also occurred at other times during this period.

Hamas intend to continue this violence until the 14th or 15th of May 2018. The 15th is the date they will commemorate as the 70th anniversary of ‘Nakba’ Day – ‘Castastrophe’ Day, the day after Israel’s declaration of statehood. There is however speculation that an upsurge in violence is now planned for the 14th, coinciding with the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. It is expected that the violence will reach a culminating point of intensity on one or both of those days, which, as well as coinciding with Nakba Day and the embassy opening, are also at the start of the Islamic month of Ramadan, when violence usually increases in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Hamas is currently planning to mobilise up to 200,000 people to the Gaza border, which — if it materialises — will be well over twice the maximum number seen previously. Hamas will also be determined to incite greater violence than ever before, and to make significant penetrations of the border fence. In the face of such efforts it is likely that there will be very high casualty figures among Palestinians. In addition to the border area, there are Palestinian plans for significant violence elsewhere around this time including in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Although 15th May was originally intended as the culmination of six weeks’ violence on the Gaza border, Palestinians have recently declared an intent to maintain their aggression at the border throughout the month of Ramadan.

The Gaza violence has been orchestrated under the pretext of the ‘Great March of Return’, a demonstration to draw attention to what Palestinian leadership consider to be a right of return of their people to homes in Israel. The stated intention is not just to demonstrate, but to actually break through the border fence en masse and physically march in their thousands through the State of Israel. The intention of the ‘right of return’ of course is not actually the exercise of such a ‘right’, which is strongly contested, and is in any case the subject of final status negotiations. It is well understood as a long-standing Arab policy intended to eliminate the State of Israel and has of course been consistently rejected by the Israeli government.

The real goal of Hamas’s violence is to continue their long-standing strategy of creating and intensifying international outrage, vilification, isolation and criminalisation of the State of Israel and its officials. This strategy includes creating situations which compel the IDF to respond with lethal force so that they are seen to kill and wound ‘innocent’ Palestinian civilians.

Within this strategy, Hamas have used a range of tactics which include firing rockets from Gaza into Israeli population centres and constructing sophisticated attack tunnels under the Gaza border into nearby Israeli communities. Critical elements of these tactics are the use of Palestinian human shields — civilians, often including women and children, who are either forced or volunteer to be present in locations from where attacks are launched or commanded; or where fighters, combat supplies and munitions are located; so that Israeli military response will include potential harm to these civilians. In some cases, including during the current wave of violence, we have seen Hamas present their fighters as innocent civilians; numerous fake incidents staged and filmed which purport to show civilians being killed and wounded by Israeli forces; and films of violence from elsewhere, eg Syria, portrayed as violence against Palestinians.

Following the use of rockets and attack tunnels, in three major Gaza conflicts (2008-2009, 2012 and 2014), as well as in other more isolated incidents, we now observe the use of a new tactic with the same fundamental purpose. This is the creation of large-scale ‘demonstrations’ combined with aggressive actions again intended to lure Israeli defensive action that leads to killing and wounding of Gaza civilians, despite strenuous IDF efforts to avoid such civilian casualties. In some respects this new tactic is more effective than the use of rockets and attack tunnels, because the primary targets for these activities — political leaders, international organisations (eg UN, EU), human rights groups and media — find it harder to understand the use of lethal force against what are falsely portrayed as peaceful demonstrations which they can equate to similar activities in their own cities.

As always, many elements of these primary targets have been ready and willing to be taken in by this ploy. Since the start of this spate of violence we have seen vehement condemnations from the UN, EU and ICC; from several governments and human rights organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch; and from many newspapers and broadcast media stations. These have included demands for international inquiries into allegations of unlawful killing and accusations of breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights law by the IDF…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

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ISRAEL UNLEASHES POWERFUL STRIKE

CAPABILITIES AFTER IRAN HITS FIRST

                      Yaakov Lappin                                                                                                     JNS, May 10, 2018

In striking more than 50 Iranian military targets within 90 minutes early on Thursday morning, the Israel Defense Force displayed just a sample of its advanced, intelligence-fueled precision firepower, dealing a crushing blow to Iran’s assets in Syria. This exchange of fire represents a new, stepped-up phase in the escalating Israeli-Iranian standoff in Syria.

Much of Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria was destroyed in this wave of strikes, likely leaving the Quds Force—the overseas elite Iranian unit trying to consolidate its presence in Syria—reeling. The Quds Force has been busy in Iran, building missile and rocket bases, drone bases, importing Shi’ite militia forces and trafficking heavy weapons into the region. It had begun launching direct attacks on Israel in contrast to Iran’s older pattern of aggression, which was based on activating proxy attacks. Most disturbingly, the Quds Force had begun initiating the next stage of Iran’s takeover of Syria. All of these efforts had one goal: to be able to use Syria as a springboard for attacking Israel.

The Iranian axis in Syria, with the help of Russian airpower, has nearly completed its victory over the Sunni rebel organizations and could now turn its attention to stage two of its Syrian project: Israel. The Iranian leadership has made no secret of its intention to establish a grand, radical Shi’ite empire across the Middle East, stretching across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon—and beyond. These imperial ambitions threaten not only Israel, but the region’s Sunni powers, which is why these states are in full support of Israel’s self-defense measures. Iran’s mistake was to underestimate Israel’s ability to put a stop to this plan. On Tuesday night the Quds Force, led by the charismatic and notorious Gen. Qasem Soleimani, dispatched a truck rocket-launcher towards Israel. As it drove south of Damascus, preparing to fire on Israel, it was destroyed in a missile attack.

The ability to detect such a developing threat in real time—and take action—is exactly the kind of unparalleled intelligence and strike capabilities that enable Israel to be a step ahead in its conflict with Iran. But the Iranians did not take the hint. They tried again on Wednesday night, firing 20 rockets at IDF positions on the Golan Heights. The IDF was prepared, intercepting the rockets with Iron Dome missile-defense system, and then going on the offensive in a massive wave of firepower.

Israel’s operation on Thursday, which was the largest conducted by the Israel Air Force in years, required extraordinary intelligence-gathering abilities, and in particular, the know-how to map out the various locations in which the Quds Force had taken root. This intelligence was then converted into the capability to fire guided munitions at the targets in large quantities in little time. Several of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s air-defense batteries made the mistake of getting involved in the fight, firing surface-to-air missiles at Israeli jets. They paid a price for that decision; a good number of units were destroyed in Israeli counter-strikes.

These events ultimately mean that Iran tried to force the Jewish state to accept its presence in Syria, and the effort completely failed. Iran ended up losing more than 50 military targets, and Israel’s message to Tehran—to exit Syria immediately—received a powerful boost. It’s too soon to know if this round of fighting has ended. But Iran is unlikely to give up on Syria so quickly. Despite the blow absorbed, the Iranians will likely make a new attempt to move into Syria, smuggling new kinds of weapons, and preparing the ground for future attacks on Israel.

The events of recent days have marked the start of a new phase in a long-term Iranian-Israeli long-term conflagration. This is a conflict, however, that began when Iran came to Israel’s borders to threaten and attack it, and not the other way around. So far, Hezbollah has kept out of this conflict, and this is welcome news. Iran is unlikely to want to risk its proxy ensconced in Lebanon, preferring to continue pointing Hezbollah’s 120,000 rockets and missiles at the Jewish state. Despite a remarkable display of Israeli military capabilities, this is no time to be complacent. The Iranians will be back, and the IDF must be prepared for its return.

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WHAT MIGHT AN ISRAEL-IRAN WAR LOOK LIKE?

Prof. Hillel Frisch

BESA, May 10, 2018

In both word and deed, Israel is firmly committed to its red lines. The reddest of all is that Israel will not permit Syria to be turned into a forward base for direct Iranian operations and a manufacturing center for precision-guided missiles. The Islamic Republic of Iran is equally committed to making both of those things happen.

Given their mutual resolve in meeting diametrically opposed objectives, the prospects of a conflagration between Iran and its proxies against Israel are high enough to consider how such a war might play out and what the ramifications might be of such a deadly conflict. If war does break out, it will signal the end of an era ushered in by the October 1973 War and formalized in the peace treaty with Egypt, which was the most powerful Arab enemy at the time. That treaty marked an end to inter-state wars between Muslim states and Israel.

Most of the conflicts in the four and a half decades since have taken place between Israel and non-state actors, including the long low-intensity conflict between Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, and Israel in southern Lebanon and the larger conflagration in 2006. Would Iran attack Israel directly or make do with activating Hezbollah? (The Syrian army has its hands full completing the defeat of the Sunni opposition forces in northeastern Syria in the Idlib area and preventing their resurgence.)

Tehran might decide to attack directly for several reasons. One is its perception that a Hezbollah-directed missile war might not be sufficiently costly to Israel to deter it from continuing to attack the Iranian infrastructure in Syria. It would also bring in its wake the danger that Israel might choose to retaliate directly against Iran.

Hezbollah’s war-weariness could be another factor in Iran’s decision to either attack alone or share the pain of war-making with its proxy. Hezbollah draws its ranks from a small community of fewer than two million souls. It is responsible for the continuous bloodletting of that community’s youth from 1982 to 2000, primarily against Israel but also against the Sunnis of Tripoli and the Palestinians in the “war of the camps” in 1985.

The bloodletting came to a temporary halt with the Israeli withdrawal/hurried retreat from southern Lebanon in 2000 and the disintegration of its Maronite-supported militia, only to reemerge six years later as Hezbollah suffered hundreds of deaths in the 2006 confrontation with Israel. Six years after that, Hezbollah was again bleeding its community’s youth in the bloody civil war in Syria, which continues to this day. The lack of popularity of what is probably the deadliest of Hezbollah’s wars to date can be seen in the major media sites linked to the organization.

These sites scarcely report on Hezbollah’s participation on the Syrian battlefield, and the sophisticated videos the organization produces to immortalize the fighters (“martyrs”, as they call them) are buried on the sites in a way that makes them difficult to find. They are clearly intended for the families alone and not for the general Shiite public, which seems opposed to such participation – not least because the Shiites do not want to antagonize their Sunni neighbors in Lebanon and once again risk a deadly civil war.

Demographic data also show that the birthrate of Shiites in Lebanon (as indeed in Iran itself) has plummeted. In 2004, it reached a “European” fertility rate that is below replacement rate.  This means new recruits will increasingly come from four member families that have already experienced painful loss of life. For these reasons, Tehran is more likely to attack Israel directly. However, as it has no air force and very little capacity to dispatch troops from Iran (they would be prey to Israel’s air force en route), Iran will probably opt for a missile war in which Hezbollah will likely take part.

A missile war and the subsequent massive use of Israeli air power would reveal both countries’ vulnerabilities. Iran is vulnerable despite its massive population size compared to that of Israel (80 million for Iran as opposed to 8.5 million for Israel) and the even more substantial difference in territorial size (1.65 million sq. km for Iran compared to only 21,000 for Israel).

Why is Iran as vulnerable as Israel despite these differences? Because it has existential liabilities. One is that Iran exports 90% of its oil and gas from a single port (essentially an island), Kharg, one hundred miles southeast of the tip of the Iraqi-Iranian border on the Persian/Arab Gulf. The revenues Iran derives from that oil and gas amount to at least 40% of government expenditures and around half its foreign reserves. Also, the port of Bandar Abbas (“bandar” is “port” in Farsi) on Iran’s southern tip is responsible for 90% of its container trade. The goods brought in by container represent only 15-20% of total trade, but they are the goods that keep the Iranian quality of life in the 21st century.

One can safely assume that the Israeli air force has given much consideration to addressing these two major points of Iranian vulnerability. The war will be very destructive and disruptive – not only for Israel and Iran but for neighboring states as well. Israel might feel compelled to attack airports in Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq to prevent the movement of Iranian troops and equipment. Israel is vulnerable due to its small size and dense population, especially in its coastal area. But it has one advantage: Israel’s citizens will be firmly behind its democratically elected government in the event of hostilities with Iran.

This might not be the case for the fundamentalist regime of Iran, whose population has been paying dearly for the regime’s imperialist ambitions and will pay a hundred times more if such a war breaks out. Who knows? To stave off its own downfall, the Iranian regime might decide to avert a war with Israel – which never wanted a conflict with Iran in the first place.

 

Contents

On Topic Links

Hamas has Taken Gaza Back to the Stone Age: Jason Greenblatt, Jerusalem Post, May 11, 2018—As Hamas continues to exploit protests to foment violence against Israel, finding a way to help the people of Gaza in any meaningful way becomes more and more challenging. All parties interested in bringing change to Gaza need to face the reality that Hamas has failed its own people.

For Hamas, Dancing on the Brink of Chaos is a Winning Tactic: Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel, May 15, 2018—Monday was undoubtedly among the most bewilderingly dissonant days in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: As the Israeli leadership, joined by US officials, feted the US embassy’s move to Jerusalem, and as tens of thousands of Israelis welcomed back Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai in celebrations in Tel Aviv, the Gaza Strip suffered one of its most doleful days in memory.

Conflicting Claims Swirl As Israel Continues Air War Against Iranian Interests In Syria: Joseph Trevithick, The Drive, Apr. 17, 2018—he Syrian government and its partners have issued a string of contradictory reports regarding yet another reported Israeli strike against Iranian interests in the country. Though the exact details of the event remain unclear, Syria’s dictator Bashar Al Assad and his Russian benefactors seem eager to dismiss the incident, in part or in full, while still declaring some sort of victory in the aftermath a massive U.S.-led missile barrage against various chemical weapons sites in the country.

Israel’s Nuclear and Conventional Deterrence: Prof. Louis René Beres, BESA, Apr. 29, 2018—Left to their own likely preferences, whether expressly stated or prudently obscured, certain of Israel’s potentially nuclear adversaries could someday bring the Jewish State “into the eternal darkness, into fire, and into ice.” It is indispensable, therefore, that Israel’s senior leadership take all conceivable steps to ensure that any preventable failures of deterrence never spark a nuclear attack or exchange.

SYRIA-RUSSIA-IRAN ALLIANCE AND HAMAS-BACKED GAZA RIOTS THREATEN ISRAEL’S SECURITY

The Holocaust and Assad: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 11, 2018— If Syria, Russia and Iran are right and Israel did in fact carry out an attack on a Syrian air base a day and a half after Bashar Assad’s regime used chlorine gas against civilians in a Damascus suburb, the Jewish state should be proud.

The Extraordinarily High Stakes in Syria: Noah Rothman, Commentary, Apr. 11, 2018— U.S.-led retaliatory strikes on Syria are imminent.

No Country Would Tolerate What Hamas is Doing at Israel’s Border: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Apr. 6, 2018 — Wednesday was a relatively quiet day along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

What The New York Times isn’t Telling You About Israel’s Gaza ‘Blockade’: Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, Apr. 8, 2018 — Nearly every New York Times dispatch about the recent violent pre-planned riots in Gaza has used the word “blockade” to describe Israel’s treatment of the territory.

On Topic Links

Syria to Chair UN Disarmament Forum on Chemical & Nuclear Weapons: UNWatch, Apr. 9, 2018

Report: 80% of Palestinians Killed in Gaza Border Crisis Were ‘Terrorists’: Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 11, 2018

West Bank’s Apathy Amid Gaza Chaos Shows Palestinians Becoming a Divided People: Khaled Abu Toameh, Times of Israel, Apr. 8, 2018

Palestinians: License to Kill Americans: Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute, Apr. 12, 2018

 

THE HOLOCAUST AND ASSAD

Editorial

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 11, 2018

If Syria, Russia and Iran are right and Israel did in fact carry out an attack on a Syrian air base a day and a half after Bashar Assad’s regime used chlorine gas against civilians in a Damascus suburb, the Jewish state should be proud.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, as Israel commemorates the destruction of European Jewry at the hands of Nazi Germany and its allies in Vichy France, Austria, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine and elsewhere, it is essential for the world – and the Assad regime – to know that indiscriminate acts of barbarism will not be tolerated.

US President Donald Trump was exercising a healthy moral sense when he responded strongly on his Twitter account to the atrocity committed by Assad’s regime against Syrians in Douma, including women and children. “President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay.”

Trump’s Tweet should be followed up by military action and it should be backed by all civilized countries, particularly the nations of the European continent on which the Holocaust was carried out. (Russia, which prides itself so much on having destroyed Nazism during World War II, is now protecting the Assad regime and spreading lies that poison gas was not used in Douma.) The point of the military action is not to change the course of the civil war in Syria. Rather, the point of a combined US, European military strike that causes significant damage to the Assad regime’s military capabilities is to make a moral statement and, one hopes, to deter Syria from using poison gas against anyone in the future.

What makes the Syrian use of chlorine gas all the more despicable is that it was motivated not by desperation but by depravity. Assad, with the backing of Russia and Iran, has all but won the civil war. Forces loyal to him have surrounded Douma. In any event, the ruthless murder of civilians is rarely if ever a deciding factor in war. In World War II the Axis powers were responsible for the vast majority of deaths – as well as for a disproportionately high rate of civilian killings, in part due to the Holocaust – yet their defeat was total and relatively speedy once the US entered the war.

Assad, apparently emboldened by Trump’s declaration that the US plans to pull its troops out of Syria, believed that the world would stand by in indifference, as it has in the past when he used barrel bombs containing chlorine against civilians. Perhaps Assad also thought that the Trump administration’s decision a year ago this month to fire Tomahawk missiles at Syrian army bases in response to his use of Sarin gas was a blip and that the US under a fickle Trump, who was now in the mood for retreat, would not act again alone among the nations. Perhaps he also thought that the US and other nations would make a distinction between the chlorine gas used this week and sarin, the nerve gas developed by the Nazis during World War II.

Syria’s Assad and Putin’s Russia must know that they are not above the moral reckoning of the community of civilized nations. The two men lied when they claimed to have handed over all of Syria’s chemical weapons to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in accordance with a deal reached between the Obama administration, the UN and Russia in 2013. Now they must pay for their lies. Failing to act will send a message to other rogue states and autocratic strongmen that it is possible to lie and deceive in international forums without consequences.

It should mean something that Syria is a signatory of a 1997 convention that bans not only the use but also the production of chemical weapons. Syria should be just as compliant as any other country, or face the consequences. Holocaust Remembrance Day is not just a time to commemorate those lost to genocidal hatred, it is a time to remember the many failures of the community of nations that made the Holocaust possible, so that they are not repeated.

 

Contents

THE EXTRAORDINARILY HIGH STAKES IN SYRIA

Noah Rothman

Commentary, Apr. 11, 2018

U.S.-led retaliatory strikes on Syria are imminent. The president said so himself. On Twitter. In fact, he went into wildly imprudent detail about the forthcoming military action, describing the type of ordnance that would be used and confirming that Russia has threatened to target American assets in defense of its Syrian patron. Donald Trump’s decision to accentuate Moscow’s threats and Russia’s relationship to the regime he intends to target places appropriate emphasis on the real stakes of America’s coming mission. But neither the president nor his administration is making a compelling case to the country as to why our deepening involvement in Syria is in America’s national interest. Those interests are as clear as they are critical.

The Trump administration established a precedent in April of 2017 with its strikes on Syrian targets following Damascus’s gruesome release of sarin nerve gas on civilians. Breaking with the last administration, this president made it clear that the use of prohibited and indiscriminate weapons will not be tolerated. That precedent evolved into a doctrine when the administration publicly threatened the Bashar al-Assad regime in June of 2017 following reports indicating that another mass casualty gas attack was in the planning stages. The threats worked; Assad backed down, and a mutually understood set of parameters had been established.

The tacit exemption both Trump and Barack Obama adopted for dual-use chemicals ensured that the Assad regime would deploy chlorine gas on civilian targets frequently and that stronger nerve agents would eventually be used again. In 2017, both Damascus and Moscow, which operates a number of sophisticated air-defense batteries across the country, all but consented to a relatively bloodless strike on a single target (Russia received forewarning ahead of the attack). They will likely stand down in the face of something similar in 2018. If, however, the United States is disinclined to pursue cosmetic and superficial strikes on Syrian targets—which would have no deterrent effect on Bashar al-Assad or anyone else, for that matter—Russia will face increasingly serious pressure to respond militarily.

Russia can only stand down so many times before the value of its S-400 anti-air batteries—which Moscow is right now attempting to sell to India in violation of U.S. sanctions—begins to depreciate. Russia’s envoy to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, probably expressed the prevailing sentiments in the Kremlin when he said Russia would attempt to shoot down U.S. missiles in flight if America and its allies were to attempt any broader retaliatory response to Assad’s chemical attack on civilians. More frightening still, Zasypkin also intimated that Russia would attempt to respond disproportionately, potentially targeting U.S. ships and aircraft. These may not be the empty threats of one diplomat. In the last 24 hours, Russia has begun jamming U.S. unmanned vehicles over Syrian skies, harassing French warships in the Mediterranean off the Syrian coast, and engaging in snap naval exercises near U.S. maritime assets.

Moscow has no interest in inaugurating a broader war with the West. It would almost certainly lose that costly conflict, but it does not have to limit its response to direct action in the Syrian theater. Moscow might turn up the temperature in Eastern Ukraine, increase support for Islamist insurgents in Afghanistan, augment aid to the North Korean and Iranian regimes, harass NATO’s air and sea assets, violate NATO airspace, or all of the above. Given the risks associated with a retaliatory strike on Assad, why should the U.S. chance it? Unfortunately, the Trump administration has almost no choice.

The White House now feels enormous political pressure—both at home and abroad—to maintain the precedent that the administration established last April. That means that the next round of punitive strikes will have to be more expansive to be effective, or there will be more chemical attacks and not just in Syria. That would be a disaster. American soldiers are deployed all over the world, often in nations with weak governments engaged in civil hostilities. Any number of illegitimate regimes would like to deploy with plausible deniability these cheap and relatively ubiquitous weapons of mass destruction. The erosion of the prohibitions around chemical warfare will mean that more Americans are exposed to these agents, and even casual contact can be hazardous (as U.S. soldiers who were exposed to chemical weapons in Iraq can attest).

In the last 13 months alone, two state-sponsored chemical attacks (attributable to Russia and North Korea, respectively) using nerve agents were executed on foreign soil, poisoning many civilians in the process. This is reckless, and it can lead to a spiraling crisis. Reestablishing deterrence is in America’s vital national interest. At the moment, that would likely mean disabling anything in the Assad regime’s possession that can fly, as well as targeting chemical production and storage facilities. This mission must be broad in scope if America’s strategic objective is to be achieved…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                

 

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NO COUNTRY WOULD TOLERATE WHAT

HAMAS IS DOING AT ISRAEL’S BORDER

Vivian Bercovici                               

National Post, Apr. 6, 2018

Wednesday was a relatively quiet day along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Israelis were out in throngs, picnicking in a national park in the northern Negev desert, enjoying spectacular spring weather during the weeklong Passover holiday. A few hundred metres to the west, small groups of Palestinians were seen scurrying a little too closely to the border fence, on motorcycles. They were likely readying for the continuation of their #MarchofReturn.

For weeks leading up to Friday March 30, Hamas had been exhorting Gazans to assemble at the fence to commemorate the Palestinians’ “Land Day,” and from there conquer all of Israel and Jerusalem.  Speaking to protesters last Friday, Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in Gaza, fired up the crowd to storm the so-called “transient border.” This “March of Return,” he declared, “affirms that our people can’t give up one inch of the land of Palestine.” When the Gazans came, many reportedly out in large family groups with children, Sinwar added for good measure that they would “eat the livers of those besieging” them. He actually encouraged them to feast on the bodily organs of Israelis.

Since then, 20 Palestinians participating in the still ongoing march activity have reportedly been killed by IDF responses, mostly sniper fire. Scores more have been injured by riot-control techniques, rubber bullets and tear gas. The dead include Hamas fighters, whose portraits have been featured in Gaza media reports where they are hailed as “martyrs” in the ongoing struggle to liberate all of Palestine from the Zionist colonizers. These particular martyrs were reported by the IDF to have been at or very near the fence with Israel, hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at soldiers, or reportedly attempting to infiltrate Israel. They ignored warning shots, flares and the firing of tear gas canisters. Each fatality will be carefully investigated.

The IDF estimates that approximately 41,000 Gazans participated in the march, with most doing so peacefully and at a safe distance from the fence. The goal of Hamas organizers and fighters, however, was clearly to provoke an Israeli military reaction. Israel’s critics claim the IDF fired recklessly on a “peaceful protest,” massacring innocents. Thing is, peaceful protests do not encourage participants to overrun an international border, or use weapons, while threatening to conquer the country and murder its people. Thousands of Israeli civilians live within a few hundred metres of this fence, in agricultural settlements that have been undisputedly part of Israeli territory since 1948. Peaceful protests are not organized by terrorist organizations and led by terrorist leaders, some of whom show up with Molotov cocktails and other weapons.

Local residents and the IDF are bracing for Friday, when the Hamas government controlling the Gaza Strip is promising a fresh offensive: for tens of thousands of “peaceful protesters” to dump masses of car tires along the fence and burn them. The plan is to create a toxic black cloud, allowing Hamas fighters to more easily breach the border. There is no doubt that Hamas’ primary raison d’être is to destroy Israel. That paramount goal is clearly stated in the organization’s charter. There is no question that Hamas places little importance on the welfare of Gazans. Hundreds of millions of dollars in Western dollars donated for civilian aid is diverted from humanitarian purposes to build Hamas’s network of tunnels burrowing into Israel, funnelled into local weapons factories and, of course, the bank accounts of Hamas leaders.

There is also little doubt that many Gazan civilians, bussed from their homes on the coastal Strip to the border fence by Hamas, actually did come to protest peacefully — and are being exploited by Hamas as human cannon fodder, to bait the Israeli military into killing civilians. Incredibly, a seven-year-old girl was sent to walk up to the fence. Alone. Was someone hoping she’d be hurt? If so, they were disappointed: She was sent back unharmed. Shamelessly exploiting civilians, especially women and children, is the modus operandi of Hamas, responsible for almost all suicide attacks against Israelis during the second Intifada. Hamas has a well-chronicled habit of storing and shooting rockets and other weapons into Israel from hospitals, UN-run schools, clinics and apartments.

When ISIL terrorists murder and maim on the streets of Europe, shock, consternation and horror ensue in the West. But Hamas is like ISIL light: they are despotic, murderous Muslim extremists who subjugate women and persecute homosexuals, while imposing an unforgiving theocracy on the Gaza Strip. If a group like that was to carry on in Europe as it does on the Gaza-Israel border, it is difficult to imagine Europeans would sit back in deck chairs with binoculars and just watch. The protesters of Gaza will not succeed in overrunning Israel, of course. But given a chance, many aspiring martyrs will storm the fence and unleash as much carnage as possible, if they can.

Yahya Sinwar and his fellow thugs promise to hold border demonstrations every Friday until May 15, culminating in a grand protest on the 70th anniversary of the declaration of Israeli independence, which the Palestinians mark as the “Naqba,” or the day of catastrophe.  The response so far by the UN body, predictably, has been to vilify Israel in hastily convened emergency sessions. What the global community should instead be asking is: why are Hamas’s “peaceful protesters” carrying weapons and calling for the destruction of Israel? Aside from the United Kingdom and the United States, no one has bothered to ask the obvious questions. Canada certainly hasn’t.

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WHAT THE NEW YORK TIMES ISN’T TELLING

YOU ABOUT ISRAEL’S GAZA ‘BLOCKADE’

Ira Stoll

Algemeiner, Apr. 8, 2018

Nearly every New York Times dispatch about the recent violent pre-planned riots in Gaza has used the word “blockade” to describe Israel’s treatment of the territory. “While Gaza was poor and crowded to begin with, the 11-year-old blockade by Israel and Egypt has driven it into crisis,” reports a “news analysis” by Times Jerusalem bureau chief David Halbfinger that appears in the April 8 Times. A news article in the April 7 Times reported, “The protests are aimed at Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which began after Hamas seized control in 2007.” A news article in the April 6 Times referred to “the second round of protests against Israel’s longstanding blockade of Gaza.”

An article on page one of the March 31 Times reported that the Palestinians “were protesting against Israel’s longstanding blockade of the territory and in support of their claims to return to homes in what is now Israel.” Leave aside the inconsistencies. Some Times accounts mention Egypt’s participation in the “blockade,” while others omit it. Some Times accounts describe the riots — sorry, “protests”— as only against the “blockade,” while others also mention the “claims to return.” Let’s focus for now on the unifying thread, that term “blockade.” My authoritative Webster’s Second Unabridged dictionary defines a blockade as “a shutting off of a place or region by hostile troops or ships in order to prevent passage” or “any blocking action designed to isolate an enemy and cut off communication and commerce with him.”

Using that word overstates it to describe Israel’s treatment of Gaza. Israel’s Defense Ministry reports that in one week in March of 2018, 2,728 trucks entered the Gaza Strip from Israel, carrying 74,202 tons of supplies, including 87 tons of medical supplies, 15 tons of agricultural products, 1,506 tons of food supplies, and 51,044 tons of building supplies. Another week this year, the Defense Ministry reported 1,712 trucks entering Gaza, carrying 49,166 tons of supplies, including 43 tons of medical supplies, 92 tons of agricultural products, 5,426 tons of food supplies, and 31,356 tons of building supplies. In one single day in February, 11,485 tons of goods, in 379 trucks, entered Gaza through Israel, according to the Israeli Defense Ministry. On another February day, 12,295 tons of goods in 431 trucks entered Gaza through Israel, according to the Israeli Defense Ministry.

In addition, Israel supplies electricity to Gaza via ten power lines. And Israel supplies water to Gaza via two pipelines. Some “blockade.” You won’t read about all those trucks of supplies in the New York Times, alas. Now, it is true that Israel maintains control over its border with Gaza, as does Egypt. But nearly all countries do the same thing on their own borders. I drove across the border to Canada from the United States through Vermont earlier this month. Some Canadian border guard stopped the car and looked inside before letting us in. A friend’s parents were visiting the US from Canada for Passover. An American border guard stopped their car and inspected its contents, right down to opening up a cooler full of Passover food. Does that mean that the United States is “blockading” Canada or that Canada is “blockading” the United States? No.

And of course, the Israel-Gaza situation is different than the US Canada one, in part because Gaza is controlled by a terrorist organization, Hamas, that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and that has a proven record of using imported supplies to build tunnels and rockets for deadly attacks on Israeli Jews. Accusing Israel of a “blockade” of Gaza when in fact Israel is allowing food, medicine, building supplies, electricity, and water into the territory is inaccurate. It gives Times readers a false impression of what is actually happening, uncritically echoing Palestinian propaganda. That’s not to say that the situation in Gaza is a picnic. But the blame for it lies with the Hamas terrorist organization, not with Israel or some “blockade” imagined by Times journalists.

 

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On Topic Links

Syria to Chair UN Disarmament Forum on Chemical & Nuclear Weapons: UNWatch, Apr. 9, 2018—Despite accusations that it perpetrated yet another deadly chemical weapons attack on Saturday, Syria will next month chair the United Nations disarmament forum that produced the treaty banning chemical weapons…

Report: 80% of Palestinians Killed in Gaza Border Crisis Were ‘Terrorists’: Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 11, 2018—Around 80% of the 32 Palestinians killed by the IDF during the ongoing Gaza border crisis were terrorist operatives or identified with terrorist organizations, an intelligence report asserts. The report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center said that 26 of the 32 Palestinians fit into those categories.

West Bank’s Apathy Amid Gaza Chaos Shows Palestinians Becoming a Divided People: Khaled Abu Toameh, Times of Israel, Apr. 8, 2018—For the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Friday was another difficult day. For the Palestinians in the West Bank, Friday was just another ordinary day — a day for weddings, family gatherings, and, for some, dining at the fancy restaurants in Ramallah and Nablus.

Palestinians: License to Kill Americans: Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute, Apr. 12, 2018—Hate speech and incitement make up the core of the Palestinian narrative. For several decades now, the Palestinians have been waging a massive and vicious campaign of incitement against Israel.