Archive for August 2014

The War with Gaza: Let the Recriminations Begin

 

In a wretched neighborhood called the Middle East where perception usually trumps reality, Israel has lost on both accounts.  As Likud Central Committee chairman, Danny Danon announced on Wednesday: “The Protective Edge war that began with huge support ended with Israel shamed and confused.”  Despite the spin of some pundits and people in and out of government, the facts support MK Danon’s assertion.

In addition to Danon, the deal, unilaterally agreed to by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu without consent from his cabinet rattled coalition partners and political rivals such as Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman as well.  Itamar Shimoni, The Mayor of Ashkelon, a beachside city adjacent to Gaza hit incessantly by rocket fire since 2005 had this to say: “Any concession to Hamas is a surrender to terrorism.”

Steven Emerson, writing for the “Investigative Project on Terrorism” seemed to concur with senior Israeli security officials which stated that Hamas has taken a severe military and morale blow, but its military arm is preparing for another round of fighting believing the price its people are paying is tolerable as long as its goals are achieved.  By Netanyahu acquiescing to this latest truce, their assessment seems have been proven correct?

 Emerson closes out his article describing the bitterness and hatred felt by some Gazans in the street toward Hamas for firing and placing munitions in hospitals, Mosques, and private residences while senior leadership hid in tunnels leaving residents to fend for themselves.  He quotes an Hamas fighter claiming to have received his anti-tank training in a hall under the Alshafi Mosque in Khan Yunis where the Izzadin Al-Kassam Brigades train.  All this is probably true.  Yet the streets were filled Gazans celebrating what they deemed a great victory over the “Zionist occupation.”

That Gaza has been dealt a heavy blow, there can be no question.  According to a CBS report; (biased no doubt and dependent upon over inflated U.N. and Hamas estimates) The Gaza war has killed at least 2,133 Palestinians and wounded more than 11,000, according to Palestinian health officials.  The U.N. estimates more than 17,000 homes have been destroyed, leaving 100,000 people homeless.  Inflated or not, the damage to Gaza is indeed considerable.

 But so what?  To a rogue “government” of terrorists which ruthlessly use its people as human shields, death and destruction is water off the back of a Duck.  It’s actually welcomed for its propaganda value.  Throughout the war biased media constantly harped on the absurd issue of “proportionality.” As if war was a game and Israel was guilty of not suffering sufficient fatalities.

Emerson may be correct:  “Many within Gaza are disillusioned with Hamas.”  No doubt during the waning days of the World War II many Germans were likewise disillusioned with the Nazis as their cities too laid in ruin and they lacked control of events.  Yet the war dragged on until unconditional surrender was effectuated and Germany no longer had the wherewithal to conduct aggression.  This is not the case with Hamas which still retains the capacity after 50 days of fighting to disrupt the lives of not only Israelis living adjacent to Gaza but throughout all of Israel.

To these Israelis, recriminations against Prime Minister Netanyahu have already begun.  They correctly view it is upon his shoulders that failure to unconditionally win this war surely lie.

 Trying to paint a brighter picture, at a Jerusalem Press conference Wednesday alongside Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, Netanyahu declared, “Hamas was hit hard, and did not get any of the things it demanded for a cease-fire.” With obfuscation worthy of President Obama, he listed his take on Israel’s achieved goals in the war:

Destruction Hamas’s attack tunnels; killing some 1,000 terrorists, including top commanders; destroying thousands of rockets, rocket launchers, arms depots, and weapon manufacturing facilities; knocking out “hundreds” of command centers; and preventing Hamas attacks on Israel from the land, sea and air; Hamas’s conditions of a sea and airport were denied; as were their demands to release prisoners placed back under arrest following the murder of the three Israeli boys.

Glaringly, he failed to come to grips with the least common denominator of this war.  Issues which politicians and people from all points on Israel’s political spectrum are already taking him to task for, his irresolute military leadership and Hamas’s ability to renew hostilities at any time of its choosing.  Many are also accusing him of being more concerned with world opinion than the welfare of the people he was elected to defend.

According to polls conducted by Israel’s Channels 2 and 10: 54% of Israelis oppose the cease-fire, 37% support it.  In accordance, 59% are dissatisfied with Netanyahu’s performance.  Most notable, the poll also found satisfaction with the Prime Minister fell to just 32%, down from 38% on Monday, 55% last Thursday, and down 82% since July 23 when ground forces first entered Gaza.

In fairness, when asked who won the war another poll from Channel 10 indicated: 32% said Israel, 25% said Hamas, and 26% called it a tie; 19% did not know.  Not exactly a mandate for Netanyahu’s conduct of a war in which he seemed to lack a cogent plan, one that some are accusing him of lacking the moxie to finish Hamas off having ground troops already in Gaza.  The question is not so much as who won the war as the absurdity to the way it was fought.

From dropping of leaflets warning Hamas of immanent attack to allowing them a respite by tolerating eleven ceasefire violations.  From failure to consider sensitive targets due to collateral damage to continued electrical service into Gaza.  Netanyahu may go down in Israeli history not as a leader but as its most congenial warrior.  Particularly in the Middle East, moral codes of ethics are viewed as cowardice not strength.  Like bad neighborhoods throughout the world, perception of weakness is immediately recognized by bullies and bad guys.

On Wednesday the Iranian Foreign Ministry wasted no time congratulating Hamas:  “The heroic Palestinian people have forged a new era with the victory of the resistance which has brought the Zionist regime to its knees.”  Hamas senior spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri proclaimed: “The value of this campaign is not in the opening of this crossing or that crossing, but in paving the way for the next stage, liberating Jerusalem.”  It’s this long term messianic viewpoint spelled out explicitly in its charter of 1988 that makes Hamas so dangerous to Israel.  Unwilling to accept the sacrifices necessary to totally eviscerate this sworn enemy, Netanyahu has allowed them the perception of victory, a pause to re-arm, and preparation for the next round which is surely to come.

The American Thinker 30Aug14

Israel in Gaza and an Upside Down World

 

DSC00640-1
Israel in Gaza and an Upside Down World
by
Jerrold L. Sobel
As if a ceasefire between Israel and messianic, Islamic terrorists could ever hold true.  Just as though, five “humanitarian” truces all upheld by Israel but broken by Hamas ever meant anything.  No matter, but for the sake of God and the Iron Dome, thousands of Israelis would be dead and wounded from incessant, indiscriminate shelling.  Add the labyrinth of connecting tunnels hidden beneath Gaza to infiltrate and murder Israelis.  Take into account Hamas‘ use of human shields, storing weapons in Mosques, hospitals and schools.   Throw in firing rockets from private residences and you should get a pretty good idea who the aggressor in this conflict is.   Israel of course.
This past week, of the 47 members of the UN Human Right Council, 29 nations voted to set up a commission to launch an international, independent inquiry, effectively passing a resolution to look into:  “all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Gaza Strip in the context of military operations conducted since mid June.”  In this upside down world of make believe we live in today, they criticized Israeli military operations for unleashing “widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms.” But since they’ve already come to that conclusion, you have to wonder, what’s the need for the inquiry?
So much for them, the “Human Rights Commission” is a recognized joke and should be discounted, what’s shouldn’t be is the Obama Administration’s dreadful response to Israel’s righteous struggle.

Secretary of State Kerry, spiraling past ineptitude and rapidly approaching irrelevance has exposed his boss and himself to be no friend of Israel.  If there was any doubt, his ceasefire proposal last Friday, rejected out of hand by Israel, should put it to rest. 

Forty eight hours following a complete halt to hostilities Kerry’s proposal calls for the start of contacts between Israel, Palestinian and Egyptian delegations in Cairo.  The talks in Egypt would include a discussion of Hamas’s call for the lifting of the so-called siege of the Gaza Strip, and other demands.  It doesn’t get any better. 

The discussions would cover Hamas’ demands relating to: opening border crossings between Gaza and Israel; opening the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt; the release of recently re-arrested prisoners from the Shalit deal; the release of some 30 convicted terrorists, including Israeli Arabs, who were set to go free under the collapsed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in late March; widening Palestinian fishing rights off the Gaza coast, and the establishment of a Gaza seaport.  Why not an international airport as well?
Shelling of Israeli towns unabated for nine years; no mention.  Kidnapping and murder of soldiers and citizens alike; no mention.  A vast network of tunnels used to store weapons and infiltrate Israel likewise absent from this document.  The “state” ordered kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers;  just Hamas being Hamas.  Nothing about human shield Hamas war crimes or raising the casualty count of its own citizens for propaganda purposes.
Forget instant rejection by the Israeli cabinet of this ill-conceived plan.  Writing for the liberal newspaper, Haaretz, columnist Avi Shavit expressed the feelings of Israelis on all sides of the political spectrum:  “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ruined everything.” He was relentlessly vilified in other media as well.  Their main issue,  why was the Israeli demand for a demilitarized Gaza Strip not on Kerry’s proposed agenda?  Likewise, both the government and a vast majority of Israeli’s resent terrorists being elevated to equal status particularly by their main ally the United States.
If nothing else, Kerry was successful at doing something few have been able to accomplish, unite Jews in Israel to rally around the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu.  According to a poll taken at the University of  Haifa, ninety one percent (91%) of Israeli Jews support his self-defense campaign and a continuation of Operation Protective Edge.  Only 4.2% believe the operation is a “mistake.”
How has the Administration responded to this repudiation?  “It’s simply not the way partners and allies treat each other,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki shilled.  “Partners and allies?”  They must have hired her for her sense of humor.
For his part, President Obama, even to his most ardent supporters both here and in Israel agree, the past few days have left little doubt as to where he leans, or as some may say outright supports.  From his opening gate Middle Eastern tour and Cairo speech in 2009 to his latest intrusion into the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, he has either exhibited extreme naiveté or an arrogant bias against Israel.
In a bizarre phone call to Netanyahu, he called for a ceasefire “that both allows Palestinians in Gaza to lead normal lives and addresses Gaza’s long-term development and economic needs.”  Somehow Israel once again didn’t show up in this equation.  He paid usual homage to his increasingly hollow mantra, “Israel has a right to defend herself.”  He condemned Hamas’s construction of tunnels and continuation of rocket fire into civilian areas.  But inexplicably once again placed the onus of Gaza’s casualties on Israel rather than the terrorists using their own people as human cannon fodder.  
Although denied by both the White House and the Prime Minister’s office,  according to an Israeli Channel 1 report,  a transcript of the phone conversation went like this:
  “I demand that Israel agrees to an immediate, unilateral cease-fire and halt all offensive activities, in particular airstrikes,” Obama reportedly said.  Netanyahu then asked what Israel would get in exchange?  To which the President replied: “I believe that Hamas will cease its rocket fire, silence will be met with silence.” 
Claiming authenticity of the transcript given to him by a senior U.S. official, journalist Oren Nahar claims Obama went on to say:  “The pictures of destruction in Gaza distance the world from Israel’s position.”  The President then demanded:  “Within a week of the end of Israel’s military activities, Qatar and Turkey will begin negotiations with Hamas based on the 2012 understandings, including Israel’s commitment to removing the siege restrictions on Gaza.”  Turkey and Qatar?  If you believe the report, and judging by recent actions, many tend to do so, having Turkey and Qatar mediate on Israel’s behalf is like having a Wolf mediate with a Mountain Lion on behalf of Chickens in a hen house.  Regardless, one thing seems certain, nowhere in the conversation did Obama offer a solution addressing Israel’s current or longterm security or what he meant on March 21, 2013 when he spoke at the Jerusalem Convention Center.  
“ Israel cannot accept” rocket attacks from Gaza, and we have stood up for Israel’s right to defend itself.  And that’s why Israel has a right to expect Hamas to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.”  Recognizing the ceaseless rocket attacks was an admission that despite the truce he helped broker in 2012, the one he wishes to back Israel into today was already violated countless times during that one year.  He concluded his predictably cavernous five thousand word pontification with the catchphrase he’s “the President of a country that you can count on as your greatest friend.”  A skeptic might say, “with a friends like this…..”  What he or Kerry didn’t say was more telling than what they did.

A more astute Secretary of State, and a more discerning President might see the humanitarian benefits to Palestinians as well as Israelis with the eradication of Hamas.  It’s scary to think they both would have the same mentality if we in the United States were being attacked.  

Eschewing Israel’s security needs, one also has to wonder if either man ever considered the political benefits a demilitarized Gaza Strip would be to the Middle East.  Or how a de facto alliance between Israel and Egypt less Hamas is a formidable bulwark against the daddy of all terrorist movements, Iran. 

Like many Germans during World War II, there is no doubt some Gazans would like nothing more than to live out their lives in peace with their children but are held sway by these fanatical fiends.  Concerned with “Gaza’s long-term development and economic needs,” how does Obama expect  to fulfill those concerns with Hamas still in power?  Can he possibly believe rhetoric alone can talk these murderers into becoming good guys?

At all costs, Israel should be encouraged to win this war, not fight to a stalemate.  This is another battle between western civilization and the forces of 7th century barbarism employing 21st century technology.  If Israel stands fast and extracts this abscess from the Gaza strip it will be a seminal moment.  She will not only have rid herself of her blood sworn enemy, Hamas.  She will have given the West their first victory over a radical Islamic element since 1979.  As a law of unintended consequences, it will serve notice to every Islamic terrorist group in the Middle East and Africa.  There is one Western democracy in their neighborhood willing to fight to the finish.

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This article first appeared in the August 2nd edition of the American Thinker online magazine.

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