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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hospitalized soldiers: Terrorists charged with babies in hand

I think the picture above was intended to be humorous. It's not. It really happened.
Parents of wounded soldiers spoke to Kol Yisrael on Tuesday and shared some of the disturbing stories they had heard from their sons. They said soldiers have repeatedly seen young children in Sheijaya, Gaza, be sent out into the streets with guns to try to attack IDF troops.
One parent reported that terrorists had run at IDF soldiers with a gun in one hand and a baby in the other, apparently in hopes that the soldiers would see the child and hold their fire. If soldiers fired, the parent added, the child’s death could be used as propaganda against Israel.
“They’re continuing the same trick of using children as human shields, just as they did in Operation Cast Lead,” one father said. Women are used as human shields as well, he added.
He expressed frustration at figures on the Israeli far-left who have accused IDF soldiers of committing war crimes. Israel’s soldiers do everything they can to avoid hurting innocent people, he said.
No words. 

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United, Delta and USAir suspend flights to Israel - UPDATE FAA BANS US FLIGHTS, EUROPEANS FOLLOW SUIT

United, Delta and USAir have suspended all flights to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport after a Hamas rocket this afternoon landed in Yahud, some 5 kilometers from the airport (Hat Tip: NY Nana). The White House says that it did not order the flights suspended, but Delta said it made its decision in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Delta said it suspended service to and from its New York JFK hub "until further notice," while the Israel Airports Authority would only confirm that the carriers had suspended flight scheduled for Monday. US Airways has not yet released a statement.
United announced it was also suspending flights to and from Tel Aviv until further notice.
Transportation Minister called on American aviation companies to return to normal functioning, stressing that Ben-Gurion airport was safe from for take-offs and landings, and that there was no security concern for passenger planes.
"There is no reason for the American companies to stop their flight and give a prize to terror," he said.
Though media had reported that the US Federal Aviation Authority had ordered the cancellations, it did not issue any new guidance on flying through the region. The airline companies had acted on their own authority.
An order from the FAA could have had far greater repercussions for Israel's economy.
"As soon as the FAA gives such an order to US carriers, in most cases it's a domino effect, and most European carriers will be forced to suspend their flights," said an industry source.
Regardless, the source added, "This is a huge coup for Hamas."
Tourism accounts for about 5% of Israel's exports, and has already declined as a result of the rocket fire from Gaza.
According to Channel 2, Israeli and American flight officials are reportedly trying to come to an understanding regarding the US concerns over rocket fire.
Israel contends that the Iron Dome rocket defense system, which has proven to be 90% effective during Operation Protective Edge, is also capable of intercepting projectiles in the area of Ben-Gurion Airport.
The rocket which landed in the courtyard of a home in Yehud on Tuesday, causing damage and leaving two people lightly injured, marked the first direct hit in the greater Tel Aviv area since the Gaza operation began more than two weeks ago.
There is an answer, but so far only El Al has bought into it.  American Airlines (which recently merged with USAir) decided six years ago that the solution was too expensive.


The FAA has now banned all US airlines from flying here for the next 24 hours and Air France, KLM and Lufthansa have all said that they won't fly here either.
"The FAA immediately notified US carriers when the agency learned of the rocket strike and informed them that the agency was finalizing a [Notice to Airmen]" prohibiting the flights.
Delta diverted flight 468 from JFK with 273 passengers and 17 crew, Paris-Charles de Gaulle "after reports of a rocket or associated debris near the airport in Tel Aviv," and said that it was working to re-accommodate its customers.
While the FAA does not have jurisdiction over European or other international air carriers, the decision may lead to other cancellations.
"As soon as the FAA gives such an order to US carriers, in most cases it's a domino effect, and most European carriers will be forced to suspend their flights," said an industry source. "This is a huge coup for Hamas."
Air France suspended all flights to and from Israel due to "security reasons linked to the evolution of the local situation," Reuters quoted an airline spokesman as saying.
Lufthansa, Swiss Air, and KLM also suspended flights to Ben Gurion.
The US issued a travel warning against traveling to Israel or Gaza this morning. Nevertheless, over 200 North American immigrants arrived here today.

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Zbig spews anti-Israel hate on Morning Joe

In the book of Jimmy Carter's Secretary of State, and President Hussein Obama's adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Israel and only Israel is at fault for the current goings on in Gaza.

Let's go to the videotape.

More from Truth Revolt here.

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Video: The Arab Darwin Award Winner (Graphic warning)


I'm not even sure who gets the award for this one, but it happened in Syria.

A suicide bomber was killed before he could set himself off. He was wrapped in shrouds and they went to bury him. Unfortunately, whoever prepared him for the funeral didn't remove the bomb belt. And the results?

Let's go to the videotape.


So who gets the award?

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The pictures are fake

The pictures that I posted that were Hamas' attempt to prove that they have Oron Shaul are fake. Yes, even the one posted above, which I thought was real, is fake.

For the proof, go here.

Either he's dead, or Hamas doesn't have him (or more likely, both). At best, they might have some of his documents or his dog tag. But nothing more than that.

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Unbiased headlining, al-Reuters style

This is what al-Reuters considers an unbiased headline (Hat Tip: Memeorandum):

Israel pounds Gaza despite international peace efforts

Excuse me? Israel has accepted every cease fire offered over the last two weeks. Hamas has refused every one. Within the last hour, Israel Radio reported that John Kerry has given up and that Ban Ki-Moon is about to admit that the reason there is no cease fire is because Hamas is not backing off demands that would turn a rout into a victory and make Israel pay a penalty for winning.

So Israel continues to pound Hamas in the hope that it will agree to a cease fire (or will lose all of its strategic assets if it fails to do so), and al-Reuters makes it sound like we should stop fighting and wait for Hamas to come to terms?

Parts of the article aren't much better. The headline reflects the tone of the article. And that is precisely the problem. You would have no clue from reading the article that the reason that there is no cease fire is that the Hamas leadership in Gaza - safely ensconced in its bunker underneath Shifa Hospital in Gaza City - does not want one. They would rather fight to the last civilian. But don't expect Reuters to clue you in on that.

Shameful. Absolutely shameful.

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Israel's unwelcome visitors

US Secretary of State John FN Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon are in the area today. Anne Bayefsky explains why they're not welcome right now.
It is hard to imagine two more unwelcome, uninvited visitors to Israel in the middle of a war against Palestinian terrorists than UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.  But even more unwelcome is that they are working together.

Their common cause is that although Israel has a right of self-defense in theory, Israel ought to be prevented from exercising this right in practice.


On July 16, 2014, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued a report stating: “the Israeli military delivered text messages to virtually all the residents of Ash Shuja’iyya and Az Zaitun neighborhoods in eastern Gaza city, approximately 100,000 people, warning them to leave their homes by 8 am today (16 July), ahead of attacks to be launched in the area.”  The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also made phone calls and distributed leaflets.

OCHA then describes what came next:  “Subsequently, the Palestinian Ministry of Interior in Gaza reportedly instructed the residents to…not flee the area.”  As a result, OCHA admits: “the vast majority decided to stay.”

This story tells us both that Israel adhered to the Geneva Convention demand of providing “effective advance warning” to civilians and that Hamas violated the rule forbidding parties to “direct the movement of …civilians in order to shield military objectives from attack.”

What was Hamas trying to protect when it used Palestinians as human shields in Shuja’iyya?

The IDF refers to Shuja’iyya as the Hamas’ “terror fortress” in the Gaza Strip. The IDF has found more than ten openings to tunnels in Shuja’iyya and since July 8, Hamas has fired over 140 rockets at Israel from this neighborhood alone. As IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz put it: “Hamas has built a war machine in residential areas.”

This is another violation of the laws of armed conflict. By deliberately locating its terrorist infrastructure in the midst of Shuja’iyya’s civilian population, Hamas violates the prohibition on “locating legitimate military targets within or near densely populated areas."

Following the warnings, the IDF went into the Shuja’iyya neighborhood – and is still there – for the purpose of destroying the tunnels that have been designed and used to attack Israeli civilians.  This is Hamas’ most basic war crime of all. In the words of the Geneva Conventions, civilians “shall not be the object of attack.”


What is clear is the outrageous reaction of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  On July 20, 2014 he said: “dozens more civilians, including children, have been killed in Israeli military strikes in the Shuja’iyya neighborhood in Gaza. I condemn this atrocious action. Israel must exercise maximum restraint and do far more to protect civilians.”

Ban Ki-moon said nothing about Hamas having failed to protect Palestinian civilians.  He said nothing about Hamas having put Palestinian civilians directly in harm’s way.  In fact he said nothing about any “atrocious action” by Hamas.  He also made no demand that Hamas “restrain” itself from fulfilling its stated goal, namely, that “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.”

For the UN, no move that Israel makes short of surrender to the Palestinian mob, will ever be sufficient.

When Palestinian civilians did heed Israel’s warnings and did not die, on July 16, 2014 OCHA complained “the relocation experience has been…traumatic…Women have reported stress due to their inability to maintain…modesty norms…[in] overcrowded spaces...”

Five million Israelis have just seconds to run for a bomb shelter and save their lives. Older people have died from heart failure when the sirens go off. Small children flee rockets raining down on their kindergartens and spend hours trapped between four walls day after day. Let alone the parents and brothers and sisters of the 50,000 plus heroic young men and women on the front lines who spend every waking minute dreading a phone call, haunted by the prospect of kidnapping by very real monsters.

The truth is the UN doesn’t give a damn about the suffering of Israelis.

When Ban Ki-moon comes knocking, therefore, his bona fides are non-existent. So why is Secretary Kerry by his side?
Read the whole thing.

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Michael Oren on Hamas' media strategy

Michael Oren explains how causing civilian casualties gains media attention and international sympathy for Hamas.
And the reason is simple: More than a military strategy, Hamas has a media strategy. Calculatingly, Hamas employs primitive military tactics to mount a sophisticated media campaign that can threaten Israel's basic security. And in conducting that offensive, Hamas can count on one of the world's most powerful weapons: the international media.
Hamas fires hundreds of rockets at Israeli cities and towns and tries to attack Israeli farms via the sea and through tunnels. Thanks to Israeli technology and vigilance, few of these actions have inflicted extensive damage. Still, they disrupt Israeli life, impair the economy, and leave cumulative psychological scars.
As a sovereign nation, Israel must respond robustly to such attacks. And as a state committed to Jewish and democratic values, Israel provides water, humanitarian aid, and electricity to the residents of Gaza even as their government murders Israelis.
Throughout, Israel strives tirelessly to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties. Yet in spite of the hundreds of thousands of leaflets Israel dropped, the countless text messages and personal phone calls it made warning Palestinian civilians to leave targeted areas, tragedies still occur. Israel deeply regrets these losses and continuously hones its operations to make them more surgical still.
In a war with Hamas, though, Israel's strength and morality can become vulnerability and guilt. By investing nothing in air raid sirens and bomb shelters, by hiding deep beneath neighborhoods and shooting near hospitals and mosques, Hamas ensures that Israel will invariably wound and kill civilians.
Hamas gunmen carry out attacks disguised as women and old men, fight from UN and Red Cross vehicles, store rockets in schools, and physically prevent Palestinian civilians from fleeing combat zones. This context, though, is rarely mentioned by the media when covering the civilian cost of the fighting.
Unwittingly or not, the international media is complicit in Hamas's plan. While some may think they help the Palestinians by highlighting their plight, in reality, the journalists only worsen it. They effectively absolve Hamas of culpability for using Gaza's population as a human shield, of stealing its aid money to buy munitions and dig fortified tunnels with the sole purpose of killing Israelis, and of contributing nothing to Gaza's welfare.
Read the whole thing.

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He's done apologizing for Israel

Rabbi Menachem Creditor of Berkeley, California explains why he's done apologizing for Israel to his liberal friends (Hat Tip: Mrs. Carl).
To those who suggest that Prime Minister Netanyahu is over-reacting to the missiles, I offer this response which I have now shared regularly at campus and communal conversations:
Israel is treating wounded Palestinians during this conflict, risking Israeli lives in surgical strikes to destroy weapons-smuggling tunnels created with building materials Israel allowed into Gaza for infrastructure projects to benefit Palestinian society. Just for a moment, consider the deaths that would result from Israel wishing harm on Palestinian civilians. In just the last 48 hours, Israel has allowed over 10 tons of goods into Gaza. During the past weeks, Israel has agreed to two humanitarian cease-fires. In the first hours of those ceasefires, Hamas rained down over 70 missiles onto Israel civilians.
I ask: What do Israel's enraged critics truly desire? How is it possible to hear indignant claims of human rights violations in the context of Syrians slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands, state-sanctioned terrorism around the globe, and young immigrants treated like chattel by the US and other? Israel is doing its best, sacrificing its own children to preserve the lives of Palestinians.
I also ask, regarding the world's seemingly acceptance of Hamas' tactics as the only remaining option left for a desperate leadership:
Were Hamas to truly lead its people forward to a life of stability and peace, wouldn't it use building materials for schools instead of smuggling tunnels? Wouldn't Hamas stop stockpiling weapons in mosques and transporting them in UN ambulances? Wouldn't Hamas stop firing missiles from civilian population centers if it valued Palestinian lives as much as Israel does? If Israel weren't so concerned for Palestinian lives, wouldn't it respond to Hamas' horrific decisions in kind?
I ask the enraged critics of Israel's defensive responses to Hamas: Would you have us not respond to this monstrosity? Do you think it's not worth losing the PR battle to retain our humanity and save as many lives as possible? What country would stand by when thousands of terrorist missiles assault its citizens? I, a Jew, have lost 20 of my sons in the last three days, because I will not lose my humanity and stage a careless ground war in Gaza that would cause mass casualties. Though I fight monsters, I will not become one.
My response has changed these last few weeks, in which three Jewish teens were murdered by Arab terrorists and Palestinians celebrated by distributing sweets to children and an Arab teen was murdered by Jewish terrorists and the Jewish world condemned the hatred. I am done trying to apologetically explain Jewish morality. I am done apologizing for my own Jewish existence.
Some will call this needless hyperbole. But, having watched in this last week anti-Semitic "die-ins" in Boston, violent assaults against Jews in Los Angeles and Antwerp, and an almost pogrom at a synagogue in Paris, I'm done mincing my own words.
We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else.
No more apologies.
Spot. On. 

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Video: Terrorists using ambulance for travel

IDF forces recently identified two Palestinian terrorists using an ambulance to travel within Gaza. On a daily basis, Hamas uses ambulances, houses and other civilian infrastructure to protect its terrorists.

Let's go to the videotape.

Yes, that's a war crime.

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Sick: Hamas sets up fake Twitter account in Oron Shaul's name - UPDATED

Tweets mostly in Hebrew and Arabic.


Facebook too

As Akiva Novick writes on Facebook, Hamas is trading bodies using Google Translate.

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IDF identifies soldier missing in Gaza as Oron Shaul

The IDF has named the soldier who is missing from Sunday's APC incident in Shejaiya. He is Oron Shaul, the soldier whom Hamas claims to have. The IDF does not know if he is alive or dead. The Facebook page to which I linked on Monday morning has been taken down. The other six soldiers in the APC were all found dead. This is from the first link.
An IDF soldier who was in an infantry APC targeted in a Hamas attack in Gaza on Sunday is missing, the army said Tuesday.
Six bodies of soldiers  who were on board the ACP when it was hit were identified, the army said, but a seventh soldier who was also on board remains unaccounted for. His fate remains unknown, and the IDF is working intensively to find answers. 
The announcement came after Hamas claimed to have kidnapped an Israeli soldier on Sunday, not clarifying if he was alive or dead.
I'm going to share with you a couple of the images I found while searching for the one above.

I'm going to tell you flat out that I believe that the soldier is dead and that Hamas is holding a body. The body is probably being hidden somewhere in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. I'm sick over this. I'm even sicker over it because of this sentence that appeared in the Times of London on Monday (sorry - I don't have a link. I received it by email), which has also appeared in Israeli media, but will likely not be addressed until the current war is over.
"However, in a development that may lead to criticism of Israel’s political elite, it emerged that seven of the soldiers were in an ageing 1960s’ armoured personnel carrier when they were killed by a rocket-propelled grenade. All were from the elite Golani Brigade."
Oron Shaul was one of those seven soldiers. 

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US intelligence: Hamas has many more tunnels than Israel has destroyed

According to US intelligence assessments, Hamas has many more tunnels - possibly as many as 60 - between Gaza and Israel than the IDF has destroyed.
Steven Emerson, founder and executive director of the Washington-based Investigative Project on Terrorism, told the Post in an exclusive interview on Sunday that US intelligence officials believe that Israel is underestimating the number of tunnels.

He said that according to a senior National Security Council official dealing with the Middle East, American satellites – equipped with special high resolution infrared detection technology – have preliminary findings of around 60 tunnels on the Israel-Gaza border.

This number could actually be higher though because it does not include overhead satellite coverage of ground structures that are several stories in height and are impervious to infrared detection, Emerson said.
This information seems to contradict Israeli estimates of remaining tunnels, Emerson said.

The IDF told the Post on Monday that up until now 45 tunnels have been discovered, but when asked how many it estimated remain, it said that no information was available.

Emerson said that the advanced American satellite, which was originally developed to deal with the Iranian theater, had been directed to orbit over Israel and send the data to specialized reconnaissance agencies operating under the aegis of  the National Security Agency (NSA) for analysis.

The infrared heat-seeking technology works by detecting changes in terrain density and the preliminary findings show that the tunnels are 1.5 m. by 1.2 m. and at least 46 m. in length.

Emerson said that he is unaware if Israel requested such intelligence from the Americans or if it has yet been shared between the two nations – though he presumes that if it hadn’t it will be.


Steven Emerson, founder and executive director of the Washington-based Investigative Project on Terrorism, told the Post in an exclusive interview on Sunday that US intelligence officials believe that Israel is underestimating the number of tunnels.

He said that according to a senior National Security Council official dealing with the Middle East, American satellites – equipped with special high resolution infrared detection technology – have preliminary findings of around 60 tunnels on the Israel-Gaza border.

This number could actually be higher though because it does not include overhead satellite coverage of ground structures that are several stories in height and are impervious to infrared detection, Emerson said.
This information seems to contradict Israeli estimates of remaining tunnels, Emerson said.

The IDF told the Post on Monday that up until now 45 tunnels have been discovered, but when asked how many it estimated remain, it said that no information was available.

Emerson said that the advanced American satellite, which was originally developed to deal with the Iranian theater, had been directed to orbit over Israel and send the data to specialized reconnaissance agencies operating under the aegis of  the National Security Agency (NSA) for analysis.

The infrared heat-seeking technology works by detecting changes in terrain density and the preliminary findings show that the tunnels are 1.5 m. by 1.2 m. and at least 46 m. in length.

Emerson said that he is unaware if Israel requested such intelligence from the Americans or if it has yet been shared between the two nations – though he presumes that if it hadn’t it will be.

Emerson said that Hamas has learned from Hezbollah how to improve its use of tunnels. He also said that Hamas terrorists are probably not using any communication devices while inside the tunnels, making it harder to detect them.

In addition, the tunnels are quite sophisticated, with water, sewage, and lighting allowing for month longs stays.

Regarding Israel’s efforts at using conventional forces, such as tanks and troop carriers, Emerson said that these are easier targets for Hamas since they can gather intelligence on them from close up.

Hamas has been very good at adapting and Israelis “need to think outside the box as they traditionally have and use their ability to think two steps ahead of their enemies,” Emerson said.
Unfortunately, it seems that we really need this war to go on for a while.

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Oh no.... IDF soldier missing in Gaza

You might recall that after Sunday's battle in Shejaiya, Hamas claimed to have kidnapped an IDF soldier, and that Israel's UN ambassador, Ron Prossor, denied that was the case. The IDF, however, said nothing. Now, the IDF is saying that there is a soldier missing - albeit not the one Hamas claimed to have kidnapped - and they don't know whether that soldier is dead or alive.
An IDF soldier who was involved in a Hamas attack on Israeli soldiers on the Gaza border on Sunday is missing, the army said Tuesday.
The IDF on Tuesday said that it had identified six of seven bodies of IDF soldiers killed in Sunday's attack on an armored personnel carrier (APC) on the Gaza border.
The announcement came after Hamas claimed to have kidnapped an Israeli soldier on Sunday, not clarifying if he was alive or dead.
Abu Ubaida, the spokesman of the Hamas's armed wing, said the soldier was seized in heavy fighting on the Gaza border. He displayed a photo ID and army serial number of the man, but showed no image of him in their hands.
The IDF had previously announced on Sunday that the seven soldiers aboard the APC were killed in the incident, but their names had not been released due to problems identifying them. The families of the soldiers, however, were notified that their loved ones had been killed in the incident.
The IDF on Tuesday released the names of the six soldiers who have been identified as Sgt. Max Steinberg, aged 24, from Beersheba;  Stf.-Sgt. Shachar Tase, 20, from Pardesiya; Stf.-Sgt. Daniel Pomerantz, 20, Kfar Azar; Sgt. Shon Mondshine, 19, Tel Aviv; Sgt. Ben Itzhak Oanounou, 19, Ashdod; Stf.-Sgt. Oren Simcha Noah, 22, Hoshaya. All six soldiers were from the Golani Brigade and have been promoted posthumously.
Deja vu all over again.... 

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Oh my... Egypt refuses to add Hamas' 'ridiculous' conditions to cease fire arrangement

The number in the picture is surely incorrect by now but you get the idea.

With a 'humanitarian cease fire' rumored (unconfirmed) to be going into effect from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm today, Hamas is holding up a real ease fire by demands that are far beyond what's been reported in the media and that are so 'ridiculous' that Egypt refuses to put them in the agreement.
Hamas, which has rejected not one, but three separate ceasefire attempts, called on Israel over the past week to submit to a number of 'conditions' - or demands - in return for an end to the violence against Israelis. The calls were accompanied by threats against the Israeli people, made through a series of weakly-worded text messages
These 'conditions' include, among other things, greater access to international waters, reopening of border crossings, and relaxation of trade restrictions; release of terrorists who were re-arrested during and after Operation Brother's Keeper earlier this month; and the possibility of constructing an international airport from Gaza. Israel rejects these demands for their potential to re-arm Hamas and enable it to make stronger ties with its Iranian and Arabian contacts. 
According to Tuesday's report, Palestinian Authority (PA) "Intelligence Chief" General Majid Faraj and representatives of Egypt met late Monday night to discuss a possible deal.
Faraj, who attended the meeting in Qatar between the head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshaal and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, left hastily after the Cairo meeting. 
Sources close to the negotiations claimed to the Israeli daily that Hamas's demands are even more than what was leaked to the media last week, and are so pretentious that even Egypt has balked at adding them to terms of the deal. 
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports continue to circulate Tuesday morning that yet another "humanitarian ceasefire" has been called for a five-hour period, between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm. 
It should be noted that Israel has denied these rumors, and has not admitted to being in cease-fire talks with Hamas in any event. However, the existence of indirect contacts, through mediators, is undeniable.
This has been the Arabs' problem since the War of Independence. They have lost every war, and then they expect to be treated as if they were a victor making conditions of surrender. Yes, they've lost again. But we're happy to keep going until their entire terror infrastructure is destroyed and the Hamas leadership is killed. And no one can say that we kept the war going.

What could go wrong? 

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Obama: 'Mind if I play through'?

Hat Tip: Jack W.

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Cease fire talks going on, Kerry not invited

There are cease fire talks going in to try to bring the war between Israel and Hamas to an end, but US Secretary of State John FN Kerry - who is on his way - is not even invited. Former Israeli ambassador to the United States says that's because of the United States' tense relations with both Egypt (where the Obama administration backed the Muslim Brotherhood) and Israel.
In comments to Channel 2 on Monday afternoon, Oren cited the Obama administration’s strained relations with Egypt, and the “tension” in ties between the US and Israel. To Israel’s chagrin, he said, America has consequently not been able to play a more constructive role in this crisis, whereas previous administrations had been able to do so in past crises. He commented on the way the Administration handled the Arab spring, the blame it placed on Israel for the failure of the peace process, and the US’s strained ties with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
Oren said Kerry and the Obama administration have close ties with Qatar and Turkey, “who are not on the best terms with Egypt right now.”
Oren emphasized that Kerry, who made things worse with a live-microphone slip Sunday criticizing the scope of Israel’s operation, was coming to the region even though that hot-mic incident showed he had “not been invited.”
“It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation, it’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Kerry told an aide over the phone on Sunday, seemingly criticizing the Israeli government’s pledge to limit the scope of its ground invasion, Politico reported. Kerry used the same word, “pinpoint,” that was employed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a Sunday interview with CNN.
Later in the phone call, Kerry added: “We’ve got to get over there…. I think John, we ought to go tonight. I think it’s crazy to be sitting around.”
It was plain from those remarks that Kerry decided on his own to come to the region, Oren said, rather than being invited to do so.
Oren’s comments followed remarks Sunday by Channel 2′s veteran Arab affairs analyst Ehud Ya’ari, who said that as far as Israel is concerned, the secretary of state’s ceasefire trip was premature “and bad for Israel,” and that he should have left it to the Egyptians to lead the ceasefire effort. Ya’ari said many people, “including senior American officials,” tried to convey this to Kerry.
This marks the continuing trend of the Obama administration “to give credit” to the Muslim Brotherhood, in this case Hamas, Ya’ari said, except that now it’s graver, because “we’re in a war.”
I guess the Obama administration has done one hell of a job of repairing the United States' relations with the Middle Eastern countries that George W. Bush had screwed up, haven't they?

The silver lining in the cloud as that at least the insufferable Martin Indyk has gone back to his think tank, and presumably won't be along on this trip. 

What could go wrong?

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And again: Terror attack in Samaria

There's been a terror attack at the Rechalim junction in Samaria. A 25-year old Israeli was shot by a passing car around sunrise, and has been taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva in serious condition. More here.

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Report: Cease fire in Gaza on Tuesday

Reports on Arab television claim that Khaled Meshaal will sign a 'humanitarian' cease fire on Hamas' behalf in Cairo on Tuesday.
Mashaal held cease-fire discussions with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Qatar on Monday in the first meeting of its kind since the beginning of the current round of fighting.

During the meeting, Abbas emphasized the need for all parties to abide by the recent Egyptian cease-fire initiative, a Palestinian official accompanying the PA president said.

The official said that Abbas and Mashaal agreed to continue consultations in order to “stop the Israeli aggression” on the Gaza Strip.
There are two small problems with this report. One is that Meshaal is not in Gaza and does not control the Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Their leader - Ismail Haniyeh - would rather fight than quit.
In the Gaza Strip, former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said in a televised speech his movement has decided to “end the blockade with its blood and weapons and there would be no return back.”

Haniyeh said that Hamas’ conditions for a cease-fire include ending the blockade and Israeli “aggression” on the Gaza Strip and the release of former Palestinian prisoners who were rearrested by Israel in the past few weeks.
Haniyeh is also furious at the lack of support from the Arab world (well, duh - did you really expect the Arab world to support mass suicide with no gains in return?).
Haniyeh also denounced Arab “silence” toward the war in the Gaza Strip. “The silence of the Arab regimes has emboldened the enemy and given it a cover to perpetrate more crimes,” he charged.
There's a second problem with this report: No one seems to have asked Israel if we agree to this 'cease fire.' Do we?

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Monday, July 21, 2014

The New York Times on why no terrorist pictures in the New York Times

In an earlier post, I blogged an article by Noah Pollak on how the New York Times is playing by Hamas rules in this war - no pictures of terrorists and no pictures of weapons in civilian areas.

The Times has - unofficially - responded to Noah's accusations by two tweets from Anne Barnard. Barnard is the Times' Beirut bureau chief and is currently the Times' reporter who is embedded in Gaza.


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Emergency Committee for Israel blasts Obama call for cease fire

President Obama appeared in the White House Rose Garden on Monday to call for a cease fire in Gaza.
US President Barack Obama said on Monday the world must focus on a cease-fire in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to put an end to the rising number of civilian casualties.

The Palestinian death toll in an Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip rose above 500 on Monday. Hamas, which killed 13 Israeli soldiers in Gaza on Sunday in the biggest one-day toll in eight years, continued to fire rockets deep into Israel.

Obama repeated that Israel had the right to defend itself against onslaughts from Hamas militants but said he had serious concerns about the growing number of civilian deaths resulting from the conflict.

"As I've said many times, Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket and tunnel attacks from Hamas. And as a result of its operations, Israel has already done significant damage to Hamas's terrorist infrastructure in Gaza," Obama told reporters at the White House.

"I've also said, however, that we have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, and that is why it now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a cease-fire that ends the fighting and that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians," he said.
The Emergency Committee for Israel blasted Obama's call
Israel does not need a mediator. Israel needs an ally. Pressuring Israel to agree to a cease-fire that rescues Hamas from defeat and leaves it in possession of its missiles, tunnels, and terror infrastructure is foolish and wrong. If President Obama and Secretary Kerry want to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East, they should support Israel and its campaign to end the terror threat from Gaza.
That's been the problem since Day One of this administration. Obama does not see himself or the United States of America as Israel's ally. 

For those who have forgotten, as one of Obama's first acts even before becoming President, Obama forced Israel to stop Operation Cast Lead before his inauguration. After Operation Pillar of Defense, which was stopped before there was a ground invasion, Hamas started making threats before the ink on the cease fire was dry. There too, an inauguration was about six weeks away. Obama is about Obama - and nothing else. Counting the days until his term is over.

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Good question

Not to mention that it's also used for weapons storage.... 

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Report: Lieberman calls for Meshaal's assassination

Israel's Channel 2 is reporting that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has called for the assassination of Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal, saying that it's the only way to ensure that no more terror tunnels will be built.
According to the report, Liberman said in the meeting that killing Mashaal is the only way to ensure that further infiltration tunnels from Gaza to Israel will not be built in the future.

The foreign minister added that Mashaal was responsible for and had funded terror attacks which have killed hundreds of Israelis.

Mashaal, the political bureau chief of the Palestinian Islamist group, was Hamas' Jordanian branch chief in 1997, when Mossad agents poisoned him to death in an assassination attempt in Amman.

The Mossad agents were arrested by Jordanian authorities. King Hussein threatened to sever ties with Israel and to try the Mossad agents unless Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who ordered the assassination on Mashaal in retaliation for a suicide bombing committed in Jerusalem that year, turned over the antidote.

After some hesitation, Netanyahu relented, and Mashaal's life was saved.
I would love to see Meshaal assassinated... but why tip the guy off? 

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Israel Radio broadcaster blasted for saying there won't be peace

Israel Television and Radio reporter Oded Shachar opened his Hakol Diburim program on 21.7.2014 on Israel Radio Reshet Bet with a short commentary that there will never be peace. As I have noted in the past, Israel Radio is extremely Leftist. Later in the program he read the angry responses received by the station. Responding to the critics, Shachar says he would be willing to give up even on access to the Western Wall if that's what it took to have peace - but nothing will get Israel peace.

Let's go to the audio tape (sorry - Hebrew only).

As I have related many times on this blog, seven years or so ago, I heard David Horovitz speak at a synagogue outside Boston. After the program ended, I went up and introduced myself. He was already familiar with my blog. I told him that I had no hope that there would ever be peace with the 'Palestinians.' He told me that he could not live in Israel if he felt like I feel. I wonder if David and other moderates like him are still hopeful, and what they will do about it if they are not.

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The terrorists wore IDF uniforms

The two groups of Hamas terrorists who emerged from terror tunnels on the Israeli side of the border on Monday morning wore IDF uniforms according to IDF Southern District Commander Major General Sami Turgeman.
Dozens of terrorists in military uniform emerged from a tunnel, and were successfully stopped by the military, Turgeman added.
Uncovering the tunnels is a complex and challenging task, requiring intelligence and technology, he added.
The IDF's work in destroying tunnels, both inside Gaza and cross-border tunnels, "is disturbing the enemy," which spent years digging them,Turgeman said.
Two terrorist attack cells entered Israel from northern Gaza via a smuggling tunnel on Monday morning.
They were identified by IDF lookouts, and an aircraft was dispatched to intercept them. The first cell was struck from the air, and ten of its members were killed.
The second cell fired an anti-tank missile at a military vehicle.
The Shin Bet sent an alert to the IDF hours before the attack, warning of intentions of terrorists in northern Gaza to infiltrate the country.
The Shin Bet said a serious and complex terror attack has been thwarted "due to the readiness of the IDF on the ground, following the pinpoint alert that was sent."
By the way, in addition to it being a war crime to fight without a uniform, I believe it is also a war crime to fight while wearing the other side's uniform. 

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Erdogan vows Turkish-Israeli relations will never improve so long as he is in power

I have blocked three people on Twitter in the last two days because they threatened me. All three came from Turkey. Given the behavior of that country's leadership, it's not surprising that the population is behaving like brownshirts as well.
I get the anger and frustration, and I see it personally from Turkish friends on my Facebook feed and my Twitter stream, who are furious with Israel not because they are Jew-hating anti-Semites but because they deplore the mounting civilian death toll in Gaza, which they see as disproportionate and excessive. And it isn’t just the AKP; anger at Israel is widespread among all segments of the population, as evidenced by the multiple leftist Gaza solidarity rallies taking place in Turkey today and by joint CHP/MHP presidential candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoğlu bashing Israel’s actions in Gaza and the CHP generally trying to score points over the last few days by absurdly trying to paint the AKP as in bed with Israel and complicit with its actions. Israel isn’t exactly popular in Turkey, to make the understatement of the decade, and to expect Turkish politicians to hold their tongues completely or to support Israel’s actions in Gaza is unreasonably naive.
But there is a world of difference between criticizing Israel out of a deeply held difference of opinion versus comparing Israelis to Hitler, equating Israel with Nazi Germany, throwing around the term genocide, openly advocating violence against Israeli nationals and property, and threatening Jews over Israel’s behavior. It is completely beyond the pale, and anyone who cares a lick about liberal values should be denouncing it loud and clear without qualification.
Erdoğan is appealing to the darkest forces imaginable in order to win a presidential election and bolster his laughably pathetic standing in the Arab world, and let’s not forget that he said straight out today that he will never normalize or even improve relations with Israel while he is in office. He has dropped the charade that this has anything to do with the Mavi Marmara or even a set of fulfillable demands that Israel is not meeting, so let’s all remember that the next time someone blames Israel for the impasse in the bilateral relationship. Erdoğan is anti-Israel because he does not like Israel, full stop.
If Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza, stopped responding to Hamas rockets with missiles, ended the blockade, and awarded Khaled Meshaal the Israel Prize, Erdoğan and Davutoğlu would just find some other reason not to normalize relations. Yes, the situation in Gaza undoubtedly plays a big role in all of this – just look at Israeli-Turkish relations under the Erdoğan government between 2002 and 2008, which were cordial and cooperative – but it’s about more than that at this point. Erdoğan and the AKP have gone too far down the garden path of anti-Israel rhetoric at this point to ever turn back.
Read the whole thing.

Another Obama-Kerry 'success story'.... /Sigh

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New York Times: All the news Hamas wants printed

Noah Pollak reports that the New York Times' coverage of Operation Protective Edge is complying with Hamas' rules for what it wants published.
A review of the Times's photography in Gaza reveals a stark contrast in how the two sides are portrayed. Nearly every picture from Israel depicts tanks, soldiers, or attack helicopters. And every picture of Gaza depicts either bloodied civilians, destroyed buildings, overflowing hospitals, or other images of civilian anguish. It is as one-sided and misleading a depiction of the Gaza battle as one can imagine. 
Today's Times photo essay contains seven images: three of Gaza civilians in distress; one of a smoke plume rising over Gaza; and three of the IDF, including tanks and attack helicopters. The message is simple and clear: the IDF is attacking Gaza and harming Palestinian civilians. There are no images of Israelis under rocket attack, no images of grieving Israeli families and damaged Israeli buildings, no images of Hamas fighters or rocket attacks on Israel, no images of the RPG's and machine guns recovered from attempted Hamas tunnel infiltrations into Israel.
Another report yesterday was accompanied by a single image: that of a dead child in a Gaza hospital. 
A second report yesterday, ostensibly about Hamas tunnel attacks on Israel, bizarrely contained not a single picture related to those attacks. The three pictures it contained presented the same one-sided narrative of Israelis as attackers, Palestinians as victims. One picture showed an IDF artillery gun firing into Gaza; a second showed Palestinian mourners at a funeral; a third showed Palestinians waiting in line for food rations.  
Indeed, a check of the Twitter feed of the Times’s photographer in Gaza shows not a single image that portrays Hamas in a negative light. It's nothing but civilian victims of the IDF. 
Likewise, the Twitter feed of Anne Barnard, the Beirut bureau chief for the Times currently "reporting" from Gaza, is almost entirely devoted to one thing: anecdotes, pictures, and stories about civilian casualties. Perusing her feed, one would think there are simply no terrorists in Gaza who started this war, who are perpetuating it, who are intentionally attacking Israel from neighborhoods and apartment buildings and thereby guaranteeing the very civilian casualties Barnard appears so heartbroken over.
Unfortunately, a lot of people in America still regard the Times as a - if not the most - reliable news source. They are living a myth.

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Deja vu all over again: IAF reported to have destroyed missiles bound for Hamas in Sudan

Now where have we heard this before? This is from the second link.
Sources in Khartoum claimed on Monday that Israeli forces struck a weapons arsenal which held long range missiles for Hamas.

The Arabic-language UK-based newspaper Al-Arab reported that the government in Sudan is not confirming the incident in order to cover up relations with the terrorist organization in Gaza. Such ties could entangle the country's president Omar al-Bashir with an accusation of supporting terrorism from the US and Western nations.

The attack came only hours after Israel accused the Sudanese government of storing long range missiles for Hamas.

Eye witnesses claimed to have seen a "huge explosion" and billows of smoke before ambulances and firefighters arrived at the scene. Six people were allegedly wounded in the attack.

Sudanese security forces stated that the huge explosion in a weapons arsenal was the result of a fire that broke out and took place on Friday morning in the al-Jili neighborhood of the capital.

The Sudanese Army Spokesman Khaled Sa'ad denied all connections in the incident to an attack by foreign forces.

Two weeks before the alleged Israeli strike, Sudan's President al-Bashir was seen meeting with Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar.
Arutz Sheva adds:
According to the report, eyewitnesses said they saw a “huge explosion” after planes flew over the building. Six people were injured in the attack, witnesses said. The resulting blaze required the services of large numbers of firefighters, they added.
Sudanese officials confirmed that there was an explosion, but denied any connection to weapons or missiles. The officials did not accuse Israel of the attack, but did say that it was carried out by “foreign forces.”
There has been no independent confirmation of the story, which did not appear in any other publication. Israel has not commented on the story.

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Why the 'peace talks' failed

From an epic piece by Ben Birnbaum and Amir Tibon in The New Republic, here are just a few of the reasons why the 'peace talks' failed.
In his rush to announce the resumption of talks before flying home, though, Kerry left the conversation with two serious misunderstandings that would sow the seeds for later surprises. Netanyahu’s 2,000-plus figure covered only homes that were open for bidding. (In his mind, long-term building plans were a different story.) Nor did it include East Jerusalem, a part of the West Bank that Israel considered sovereign territory. Focused on the big picture, Kerry hadn’t asked for such clarifications.
The more consequential miscommunication concerned the prisoners. Netanyahu told Kerry that he was prepared to release approximately 80 of them (excluding those with Israeli identity cards). Kerry asked forand thought he heard Netanyahu agree toall 104. “Both of them like to talk for long periods of time,” said someone who has dealt with both leaders. “And I’m not sure that when one of them is lecturing the other at length, the other guy is really listening very carefully.”
Two weeks later, the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met at a hotel west of Jerusalem. Both sides showed up angry. Erekat and Shtayyeh were steaming at new Israeli settlement plans that had been announced immediately after the second prisoner release days earlier, and at Netanyahu’s (false) claim in an interview that Abbas had accepted the new building in return for the prisoners. Meanwhile, Livni and Molho, who had adhered rigorously to Kerry’s gag order on the talks, were incensed by a slew of Palestinian news stories that they believed their counterparts had leaked. Both sides, excepting Molho, were frustrated at the lack of progress they’d made over three months. And the claustrophobic settinga small bedroom that had been converted into a conference roomdidn’t help to calm nerves.
Erekat stormed into the room and slammed his briefcase on the table. In recent weeks, with the talks faltering, he had begun drafting a Palestinian Plan B that would include ending Fatah's six-year-old rift with Hamas and resuming the U.N. campaignsteps that would doom the process. Pointing at the briefcase, he declared: “This case contains our requests to join fifteen U.N. treaties and conventions, and my president will get my suggestion that he should sign them immediately if you say it was prisoners for settlements. And if he doesn’t approve it, I will resign tonight.”
“You can’t do this,” Livni said, raising her voice. “This is not what we agreed on.”
“What we agreed on was prisoners for no-U.N., not prisoners for settlements,” he barked.
“Stop shouting,” Livni said. “You’re being unfair.” But Erekat kept yelling that the settlements were making him a pariah among his people.
As Livni listened to Erekat complain about his political problems, something inside her snapped.
“Do you think this is easy for me?” she shouted. She recited a litany of some of the worst Palestinian prisoners that Israel was releasing for the sake of the talks: one who had murdered an elderly Holocaust survivor, another who had stabbed two teenagers, yet another who had hurled a firebomb at a bus, killing a mother and her children. “These are your heroes,” she said, disdainfully. “I don’t know why they are your heroes, but I pushed to release them to get these talks started so we could get a peace deal, so if I can do it, you can accept a few houses. Houses can be demolished. We can’t put those murderers back in jail, and I can’t get back three lives that were just taken.”
Erekat shot back: “What should I tell all the Palestinians who were killed?”
Finally, Indyk intervened, waving his arms like a baseball umpire making the safe sign. “Time out!” he screamed. The Palestinian negotiators went out to a nearby veranda, and minutes later, Indykwhom Kerry had dubbed “the Saeb whisperer”joined them. “I can’t take it anymore,” Erekat told Indyk. “It’s time for me to move on. Netanyahu is cheating us. He is not a man of peace.”
It was a refrain Indyk had grown accustomed to hearing. “I can tell you that he’s changing,” he said. “He’s moving.” After a few minutes, Indyk and the Palestinians returned to the room, and the meeting resumed, awkwardly. When they parted after three hours, the negotiators shook hands, as they had always done. But it was clear something had changed. That night, Erekat and Shtayyeh presented a joint letter of resignation to Abbas, while Livni called her top aides to vent. “I was one hundred percent sure it was over,” said one.
In early December, Kerry presented Allen’s proposals to the Israelis. While they sidestepped the question of when Israeli forces would leave the Jordan Valley, they sketched out what the areaand the rest of the West Bankmight look like after they did. The future Palestinian-Jordanian border would include new early warning infrastructure, an invisible Israeli presence (via cameras) at border crossings, and top-shelf American gadgetry. Livni liked the package. So did most of Israel’s security brass. Even hard-line Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was making conciliatory noises. “Israel will not get more than it is getting from Kerry,” he said publicly. Netanyahu saw it as a basis for discussion.
Netanyahu’s hawkish defense ministerLikud’s Moshe Ya’alonthought it was worthless. “The Americans think we are natives who will be impressed with their technology,” he told one confidant. “Don’t they know that we are the masters of technology?” Unfortunately for everyone involved, it was impossible to imagine the Israeli government approving any deal without Ya'alon's support.
For months, the Americans had courted the crusty defense minister and concluded that he wasin the words of one senior official“beyond repair.” Ya’alon, meanwhile, railed about American naïveté in off-the-record briefings with journalists. On January 14, an Israeli newspaper published some of his remarks, including his diagnosis of Kerry as “obsessive” and “messianic.” “The only thing that can save us,” Ya’alon said, “is for John Kerry to win his Nobel Prize and leave us alone.” 
Abbas had always been more wary. From the beginning, he felt as if Kerry was privileging Netanyahu’s needs over his. And the numbers seemed to bear the Palestinian leader out: Kerry had met with Netanyahu nearly twice as often as he had with him. It was not lost on the Palestinians, either, that the secretary’s teamIndyk, Lowenstein, Makovsky, Schwartz, Yaffe, Goldenberg, Blumenthalsounded like a Bar Mitzvah guest list. To Abbas, the asymmetry of the diplomatic triangle was best illustrated by a December meeting between him and Kerry at the muqata. The meeting, devoted to security issues, was supposed to have been attended also by General Allen. Kerry showed up without him. When Abbas asked where he was, Kerry apologized and explained that Allen needed to stay in Jerusalem and work more with Netanyahu.
The depth of Palestinian alienation became clear to Kerry and his team only on February 19, when the two sides met for dinner at Le Maurice Hotel in Paristhe kickoff to a three-day parley. As the Palestinians walked in the door, each American was struck with the same thought: These guys do not look like they’re in a good mood. Following dinner, Kerry met alone with Abbas while Erekat and Indyk spoke in a separate room. Afterward, Kerry and Indyk got in the car that would take them to their rooms at the Grande Hotel. The secretary turned to his envoy: “That was really negative.” At around the same time, Abbas, who was nursing a terrible cold, saw Erekat in the hall and told him that he was going straight to sleep. “It was a difficult meeting,” he said. “I’ll brief you tomorrow.”
The next morning, at around 7:30, Indyk called Erekat. “The secretary wants to see you,” he said. Erekat was surprised at the early time of the summons. This must be important. He put on a suit and took a cab to the Grande. When he and Indyk got to Kerry’s Louis XIII-style suite, the secretary answered the door. He was dressed casually: hotel slippers, no jacket or tie. He looked concerned. After a moment of silence, the first words came out of Kerry’s mouth. “Why is Abu Mazen so angry with me?”
Erekat responded that he hadn’t yet been briefed on the meeting, so Kerry offered to get his notes. “I barely said a word, and he started saying, ‘I cannot accept this,’” Kerry grumbled, going through some of Abbas’s red lines.
“What do you want?” Erekat said. “These are his positions. We are sick and tired of Bibi the Great. He’s taking you for a ride.”
“No one takes me for a ride!”
“He is refusing to negotiate on a map or even say 1967.”
“I’ve moved him,” Kerry said, “I’ve moved him.”
“Where?” Erekat said, raising his voice. “Show me! This is just the impression he’s giving you.”
The next month, Abbas led a Palestinian delegation to Washington. At a March 16 lunch at Kerry’s Georgetown home, the secretary asked Abbas if he’d accept delaying the fourth prisoner release by a few days. Kerry was worried that the Israelis were wavering. “No,” Abbas said. “I cannot do this.” Abbas would later describe that moment as a turning point. If the Americans can’t convince Israel to give me 26 prisoners, he thought then, how will they ever get them to give me East Jerusalem? At the meal, Erekat noticed Abbas displaying some of his telltale signs of discomfort. He was crossing his legs, looking over at him every two minutes. The index cards on which he normally took notes had been placed back in his suit pocket. Abbas was no longer interested in what was being said.
The next day at the White House, Obama tried his luck with the Palestinian leader. He reviewed the latest American proposals, some of which had been tilted in Abbas’s direction. (The document would now state categorically that there would be a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem.) “Don’t quibble with this detail or that detail,” Obama said. “The occupation will end. You will get a Palestinian state. You will never have an administration as committed to that as this one.” Abbas and Erekat were not impressed.
After the meeting, the Palestinian negotiator saw Susan RiceAbbas’s favorite member of the Obama administrationin the hall. “Susan,” he said, “I see we’ve yet to succeed in making it clear to you that we Palestinians aren’t stupid.” Rice couldn’t believe it. “You Palestinians,” she told him, “can never see the fucking big picture.”
Like Kerry, Abbas felt that his credibility was at stake. He had promised the Palestinian people that the prisoners would be released on schedule, on March 29. But as the date approached, that was looking less and less likely. So Abbas continued working with Erekat on what he was calling “the Palestinian nuclear option.” He even put a timer on it: If Israel didn’t vote to release the fourth tranche by seven o’clock on the evening of April 1, Abbas would formally resume the U.N. bid in a grand ceremony at the muqata.
The night before that deadline, Kerry was supposed to meet Abbas at nine o’clock in Ramallah, but as of eleven, there was no sign of him. Erekat called the U.S. consul-general, who told him that Kerry was meeting with Netanyahu, and that it was running long. Abbas wanted to sleep, so he dispatched Erekat and Faraj to meet Kerry after midnight in Jerusalem. In his suite at the David Citadel, Kerry promised Erekat that the Israeli government would vote on the fourth prisoner release the following day.
“When?” Erekat pressed.
Kerry was peeved that Erekat was insisting on a specific hour. “Before noon,” he said.
Noon passed without a vote. Then one o’clock, then two, then three. Making matters worse, Israel’s Housing Ministry approved 708 new homes for a disputed neighborhood in East Jerusalem that afternoon. Abbas was nearing the end of his patience.
Around seven o'clock, he sat in his office with Erekat and Faraj. “Have you heard any word from the Israelis?” he asked Erekat.
“No,” Erekat replied. “Not a word.”
“How about you?” he asked Faraj, who gave the same answer.
The U.N.-ceremony attendees were taking their seats down the hall. “Let’s give them another half-hour,” he said.
Livni had no idea what was happening inside the muqata. She was sitting in the hall outside Netanyahu’s office, along with many other people, waiting for her turn to speak to the prime minister. But shortly before eight, she got a bad feeling: Everyone around her started receiving text messages, all at once. An aide turned on the television. There, beneath the Jerusalem panorama at the same table from which he had first lobbied his peers to resume talks nine months earlier, Abbas declared to a roomful of officials and VIPs that “the Palestinian leadership has unanimously approved a decision to seek membership of fifteen U.N. conventions and international treaties.”
“This is our right,” he continued.“All we get from the Israeli government is talk.” As Abbas took out his pen to sign the U.N. conventions, with Erekat at his side, the room gave him a standing ovation.
Earlier that afternoon, while Abbas and Erekat were watching the clock at the muqata, Netanyahu sat in his office, taking meeting after meeting. First, he would invite in Livni and Kerry’s team to discuss the coalescing Pollard-for-prisoners-for-talks deal. Then, he would bring in a group of pro-settler politicians led by Housing Minister Uri Ariel to calm their nerves about the impending settlement freeze. Wow, Ariel thought each time he passed Livni in the doorway, it’s like we’re doing shifts.
Livni was pressing Netanyahu for an immediate vote on the deal. “Everything is ready,” she said, “just get the ministers here.” Netanyahu, however, was working with Kerry on an exchange of letters that would make everything official. Kerry, meanwhile, was waiting on White House approval of a single paragraphthe Pollard paragraph. But Rice’s staff was still engaged in frantic negotiations with Israeli officials over the particulars: when Pollard would go free, where he could travel, what he could say. Though Netanyahu had promised Kerry the night before that he would hold the vote today, he had told Kerry and Indyk earlier that morning that he wanted to wait one more to prepare Israeli public opinion. Indyk was incredulous. “Mr. Prime Minister,” he said, “you are playing with fire.”
The Israeli right was also in rebellion mode, with Likud officials vowing to resign and Bennett again threatening to leave the government if the fourth tranche was released. As Netanyahu pressed the merits of the extension deal to Ariel and his hard-right allies during one of their shifts, one of his aides entered the room: “Mr. Prime Minister, Abu Mazen has just signed fifteen U.N. conventions.” Netanyahu froze. For years, he had feared that the Palestinians might join the International Criminal Court and lodge war-crimes charges against Israeli officials. “Which conventions?” he asked. After several minutes of confusion, one of the people in the room managed to locate a list. Chuckling, he told the others that the Palestiniansthe Palestinianshad signed the anti-corruption charter. The room burst into laughter.
Erekat, who for months had been urging Abbas to blow up the talks, was as giddy as the settlers. That night, Indyk summoned Erekat to the U.S. Consul-General’s home in Jerusalem. The moment the Palestinian negotiator walked in the door, Indyk began yelling. “Don’t act surprised, Martin,” Erekat said, grinning. “You told me nine times in four days that the prisoners were about to be released.” (The Americans dispute Erekat’s number, claiming that they had told the Palestinians the prisoner-release vote was imminent only three or four times.) Indyk asked Erekat when the U.N. letters of accession would be submitted. He replied that the local U.N. representative would receive them the following morning at nine. “Please delay it,” Indyk said. “Just for twenty-four hours, hold it back.”
While Erekat and Indyk were going back and forth, Erekat’s phone rang. It was Livni. “OK,” she said, “so you had your little show. Now hold back the documents. We have a deal to extend the talks. The prisoners can go out in forty-eight hours, and then we can get to substance. Don’t destroy this.” Erekat told her that he was with the Americans and would have to call back. The following morning, he sent her a text message. “It’s a done deal,” he wrote. “We just handed in the documents.”
Over the next three weeks, with April 29 approaching, Indyk would meet nine times with Livni, Molho, Erekat, and Faraj in a bid to salvage the peace talks. He was determined to get everything in writing this time. No more misunderstandings. And by April 23, the sides seemed close to an extension agreement. Indyk drove to Ben Gurion Airport that day to pick up his wife, and while at the baggage claim, he got a call from Livni. She’d heard that the Palestinians had just done something to ruin all the progress they had made. Indyk immediately phoned Erekat, who said he wasn’t aware of the development, but would investigate. Back at the U.S. consulate, the Kerry team was combing over the details of the emerging deal, with the secretary calling periodically to check in. Soon, the news penetrated their office, too. Weeks earlier, they had been surprised by the timing of Abu Mazen’s U.N. ceremony, but not by the act. The Palestinians had put them on notice. But as the American officials huddled around a desktop computer, hungry for actual details about this rumor they were hearing, they couldn’t believe the headline that now flashed across the screen: FATAH, HAMAS END YEARS OF DIVISON, AGREE TO UNITY GOVERNMENT.The next day, the Israeli Cabinet had voted to suspend the talks. John Kerry’s peace process was over.

The only surprising things about this were (a) that the Americans apparently were willing to release Jonathan Pollard just for an extension of the talks (okay, yes that would have been sensible, but there hasn't been a lot of common sense in Pollard's case, only vindictiveness) and (b) how amateurish some of Kerry's behavior was.

But it's a good story....

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Must read: How Israel establishes its moral edge


It's a pity that the JPost put this piece by Reuven Ben Shalom called The Moral Edge behind a paywall. In fact, it's immoral. So I'm going to put most of it here, and hope you will share it with others who may not have access to the paywall (for the record, I got it by email from someone who pays).

‘This is the Israeli army calling. Am I speaking to Bassem?” The officer spoke Arabic slowly and clearly, using an impeccable Gaza dialect. “Yes,” came the answer.

“Listen to me carefully, Bassem. You have five minutes to evacuate your house because we are going to bomb it.

Do you understand?” The caller was assertive, not aggressive, and his voice was empathetic, even compassionate. When I asked him about this later, he answered: “They are human beings. My job is to do everything I can to save them.”

We watched real-time imagery of the house, as people exited.

“Count them. Each and every one of them,” the commander ordered, a tense expression on his face. “Are they all out?” Someone gave the number and confirmed that the procedure had been completed, but then a major intervened: “Let’s verify this again. If we can save even one person, it’s worth it.”

I spent a long night in the “knock-on-the-roof” cell, where targets were being attacked after a meticulous process of verification aimed at getting uninvolved civilians out of harm’s way, including phone calls, and warning shots to the roof, before dropping the bomb.

As Operation Protective Edge unfolded, I visited the operational nerve center of the Air Force. My objective was to discover the organizational culture, the operational atmosphere and the spirit of the airmen. As a reserve lieutenant-colonel, I received official approval, on condition that I strictly follow operational security regulations and comply with requested omissions. Naturally, not all of my experiences can, or ever will, be revealed, but those described are true and accurate.


It is a known phenomenon that inside operational units there is humor that would sound heartless to outsiders. I had prepared myself for this, but to my amazement, I witnessed nothing but reserved and restrained conduct. I could also sense a touch of modesty which I had not seen in the past. It seemed as if the organization had matured. I could tell that the focus was on the mission, not on personal ego.

Frankly, I feared that I might find a bunch of trigger-happy officers, but there was no sign of it. When a bomb hit its target, I could see relief, pride and satisfaction – no cheering or gloating. Everything about the place demonstrated severity and professional conduct.

What I saw was an implementation of Proverbs 24:17: “Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles.”

I remember that back in the 1990s, Hezbollah fighters were sometimes referred to by a nickname which implied contempt. Not anymore. Hamas terrorists are referred to as well equipped, well trained, serious, professional and challenging rivals.

I was stunned when I saw the crowded air picture.

I asked a senior air controller how they could safely manage so many aircraft in such a small airspace.

He showed me a colored chart, dividing the sky into “blocks” ranging from low-flying helicopters to high-altitude strategic assets. “That’s a lot of airpower,” I remarked. “You bet,” he smiled, proudly.

Operation Protective Edge is led by the Southern Command. The Air Force headquarters in Tel Aviv is connected to Southern Command via an embedded liaison team which works in full collaboration with its “green” (ground forces) partners. The integration is superb – the product of many years of combined operations, training and implementation of lessons learned.

I attended a planning session, where a target was processed before attack. The level of detail, amount of time and attention invested in one target was above and beyond what I had expected. Operational research engineers were consulted as to “adjusting armament to target,” as there are multiple options to choose from. Every aspect is scientifically analyzed: from the direction from which to approach and angle of penetration, to the precise point of impact and how many milliseconds of delayed detonation to set in order to ensure destruction of the target and minimize collateral damage. The various armaments allow for pinpoint targeting of individual terrorists, destruction of partial segments of a target such as a room or a floor, or the toppling of an entire building.

Legal advisers from the International Law Department at the IDF Military Advocate General serve as a strict buffer, assessing the legality of the target according to the guidelines of international laws of war, mainly ensuring that it is clearly defined as a military target, used by Hamas for terror activity. I personally witnessed a debate relating to a target which I thought would be a legitimate strike against Hamas, but the mission was postponed until a better legal case could be constructed.

Multiple other professionals are involved in the planning process, such as meteorologists and intelligence officers. The final product is an operational order disseminated to the squadrons for execution.

This meticulous and uncompromising process was carried out for each and every one of the many targets attacked during the operation (of course this does not apply to real-time targeting of terrorists as they launch rockets).

I was thunderstruck by the proximity of many targets to civilian infrastructures.

Hamas intentionally situated weapons caches and launch sites near (or inside) sensitive civilian institutions such as schools, hospitals and mosques.

I was also very impressed with the teamwork demonstrated. The IAF is known to be a hierarchal organization, yet when working together side by side during operations, the atmosphere is that of camaraderie and professional respect.

The IAF’s operational staff is presently undergoing a dramatic reorganization, or rather transformation, with the overall goal of boosting operational effectiveness and a remarkable boost of attack capacity, i.e. the number of targets that can be attacked every day. Technical aspects have been made to allow swift layover between sorties (flights), making the process look much like a “pit stop” in motorsports, where the plane is refueled and rearmed for immediate departure.

It’s not only a matter of planes and bombs. A major bottleneck in air operations has always been the ability of the operational headquarters to plan and control, and the new organizational structure addresses this.

In modern warfare, success is not measured simply by the number of enemy targets destroyed, but by rendering fighting pointless in the eyes of the enemy. Some even claim that the damage we inflict during the current conflict hardly affects the outcome of this “round” of violence, but the probability and proximity of the next one. The enemy will remember the consequences of attacking Israel, and have this as a major factor in his calculations.

Observing from the outside, it sometimes may look as if “the owner went crazy,” as the Hebrew saying goes (going berserk). I would say that the Air Force’s mode of operations is exactly the opposite, and is characterized by restrained, calculated and measured operations.

The IAF acts within a unique paradox. On the one hand, it employs extremely lethal capabilities, but on the other hand, it is fighting a delicate operation of surgical strikes, with a key consideration of preventing collateral damage and innocent casualties. It is therefore important to realize that this scenario does not reflect what an overall campaign would look like, when the full capabilities of the Air Force are unleashed.

I found that there is a deep understanding of the limitations of military might.

Everyone knows that the military’s goal in asymmetric warfare is not to win a decisive victory, but to bring about a reality which will enable the political echelons to shape the strategic environment.

The Israel Air Force is a key component of Israel’s defensive and offensive capabilities.

It is an incredibly lethal war machine, but at its core are the most dedicated, professional and morally driven group of people I have ever met.

The writer is a former pilot in the IAF, founder of Cross-Cultural Strategies Ltd. and Project Manager at CockpitRM. www.CCSt.co.il

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