Current Postings

September 15, 2014: Hitting Bottom?

Things have been really awful for some time now.  Horrendous. Here in this region we’ve had the murder of an American ambassador by a group Obama previously claimed had been undone; the wholesale murder by Assad of Syria of tens of thousands of his own people; the heartless and manipulative use of human shields by Hamas in a manner that they parlayed into something of a PR victory – because dead babies “sell.”  And on, and on, and on.  Those of us who don’t have blinders on have been watching, and asking, in anguished tones, “Don’t they get it?”  There has been so much apathy, such refusal to confront painful realities.

~~~~~~~~~~

Well, folks, I believe something has now shifted.  Now in Syria and Iraq there is ISIS (aka IS, ISIL), which has beheaded Westerners and marched hundreds of people to their deaths by wholesale shootings, all on video. They have declared a state that is a “caliphate,” to be run according to Sharia law – with declarations of intention of expanding that caliphate. 

And there’s something else happening that makes ISIS more frightening for Western nations: Muslims from their own citizenries have gone to fight with ISIS and will be returning radicalized and ready to do damage from within.  Damage?  Wreak terrorism.

Have we hit bottom?  Not sure, but I’d like to think so – would like to think it isn’t going to get even worse. Whether this is the case or not, what I am seeing is that it has gotten sufficiently horrendous so that people are now getting up from their chairs and rousing themselves.

And so, it’s very horrible, but there are just glimmers, sparks, of hope.

~~~~~~~~~~

Very briefly, what we are seeing happen:

Obama is very reluctant warrior. But he’s assuming the stance of warrior in a manner that most of us never believed we’d live to see.

As Daniel Greenfield, writing as Sultan Knish, said recently:

“Winston Churchill, quipped, ‘The United States invariably does the right thing, after having exhausted every other alternative.’

“It’s not true of the United States, but it is true of Barack Obama who, having exhausted every alternative that involved appeasement or pretending that ISIS wasn’t a threat, has decided to do the right thing.”  (Emphasis added)

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il

Will he do the “right thing” with sufficient strength?  There is reason to doubt this, precisely because he remains reluctant.  He’s committed at the moment to airstrikes only and not to boots on the ground.

As Mark Steyn wrote:
 
“When it comes to war, he [Obama] suffers from an additional burden: before he can persuade anybody else, he first has to persuade himself. And he can't do it.”

http://www.steynonline.com/6560/coalition-of-the-unwilling

But his turn-about, I suspect, has genuine significance, none-the-less.

~~~~~~~~~~
 
Now 30 countries have come together in Iraq to discuss what to do about ISIS. There is a determination here – a sense of urgency - that hasn’t been reflected in international attitudes towards Syria’s civil war and other crises:

“Diplomats from around the world pledged to fight ISIS militants ‘by any means necessary.’

“An American official said Sunday several Arab countries had offered to conduct airstrikes, speaking on condition of anonymity...

“...’The threat is global and the response must be global,’ French President François Hollande said, opening the diplomatic conference intended to come up with an international strategy against the group. ‘There is no time to lose.’

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/isis-must-be-fought-by-any-means-necessary-diplomats-say-1.2766247

~~~~~~~~~~

What we are seeing then, with all of the political machinations and problems (about which more below), is a suggestion that the world may be waking up.

Israel has come out fully supportive of Obama’s efforts. While we will remain in the background on this, the current scenario puts us on the same side as the US and multiple other nations – there is less of a tone of “Israel vs. the world.”

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, in Prague last week, told Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (emphasis added):

When Islamic State reaches Europe, everyone will understand what Hamas meant for Israel.  We must eradicate Islamic terrorism for the good of humankind.”

,
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Edelstein-in-Prague-Europe-will-understand-Israels-problems-when-Islamic-State-reaches-it-374978

Presidente del parlamento israelí: Acción en Gaza está 'justificada' y la considera 'vital'
Credit: Emol

We’re not talking about Israel’s problem, we’re talking about a world problem – one that Israel shares with others.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) gave a speech in the Senate last week in which he condemned Hamas and declared it to be no better than the Islamic State (ISIS).

Reid called the failure to condemn Hamas as one would condemn the Islamic State group "stunning hypocrisy." (Emphasis added)

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/185111#.VBcZ5JtxnIV

~~~~~~~~~~

Before turning to the situation closer to home, I did want to mention one other factor here:  It would be a danger of considerable dimensions if the global concern about ISIS were to eclipse concern about Iran – which has not been nearly strong enough in any event.  Or if action against ISIS were to put Iran – which is on the verge of getting the bomb - in a better place.

Claire Lopez expresses concern that Obama will end up supporting Iranian puppets in Iraq and Syria in the process of weakening ISIS.

http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/2014/09/12/obama-pledges-additional-support-for-iranian-puppet-regimes/

~~~~~~~~~~

Here in Israel, I confess to being amused by the problems generated for the Palestinian Authority by the global focus on ISIS:  The Palestinian-Arab problem is no longer the focus of world concern. Shock.  Horrors.

But they keep trying:
“Speaking to the Fatah television channel, Saeb Erekat said on Sunday that the reason behind the extremism in the Middle East was the continued Israeli occupation, the suffering of the Palestinian people and the ‘terror acts’ committed by Israel and the settlers, the report further added.

“Meanwhile Adnan Damiri, the official spokesman for the Palestinian Authority's security forces, has urged the United States and Europe to form a coalition against what he called ‘the terror of the Israeli occupation.’"

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4570785,00.html

Does anyone take these clowns seriously?

I’ll be following with a great deal more on what Abbas is doing, hopes to do, says he’ll do, might do.

~~~~~~~~~~
 
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/9/15/september-15-2014-hitting-bottom.html

 

 

Posted on Monday, September 15, 2014 at 04:29PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 11, 2014: Never Happened

You may well have read various news items in the last few days about how Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, president of Egypt (pictured below), offered a deal to Abbas:

What was said was that al-Sisi was prepared to turn over to Abbas a considerable swath of land in the Sinai adjacent to Gaza, in which Palestinian “refugees” could settle, and which would – unified with Gaza - become the Palestinian state.  In return, Abbas would withdraw demands for Israel to return to the 1949 armistice line (which is commonly and erroneously referred to as the “1967 border”).  The areas of Judea and Samaria that were already under PA control – primarily the major Arab cities such as Ramallah – would become an autonomy.

Word was that Abbas turned it down.

Much was written about how this proved Abbas didn’t really want a Palestinian state (that indeed is the case – but not because of this) and how this offer by al-Sisi signaled a new diplomatic era.

~~~~~~~~~~

But I am here to tell you that this never happened.  My source is a very highly credible Arabic-speaking Israeli with connections in the Palestinian Arab world. 

The one who made this offer, he says, was former president Morsi, who is Muslim Brotherhood.  The offer back then, my contact explained with consider logic, was made with the idea that Hamas would be in control of the area that would become the Palestinian state, while Abbas would be sidelined.  There would then have been two Muslim Brotherhood states – Egypt and Palestine.

At present, there is no way that Abbas and his PA could take control of Gaza and an area adjacent to it in the Sinai -  Hamas remains firmly in control in Gaza.  And al-Sisi has absolutely no desire to strengthen Hamas.

 

Credit: Ahram


~~~~~~~~~~

As for Abbas himself, I must return to the Yiddish expression I have used previously: You cannot ride on two horses with one tuchis.  (Yes, I like this expression because it so colorfully describes the situation.)  Seems he is still attempting to do just that.  With very limited success.

During the recent conflict, he was thoroughly on the side of Hamas, in public.  Participated in the indirect ceasefire talks with Hamas and even led the negotiations.  At that time I was advised that he was doing this in order to stay “relevant.”  He wanted to remain in the public eye as a player of consequence.  Thus, he did not break the unity agreement with Hamas or come out critical of Hamas.

Now that the conflict is on hold, he has switched sides.  Sort of.  Wants to appear as the one to be embraced as a “moderate.”

Four days ago, during a meeting in Cairo, he declared:

“If Hamas won't accept a Palestinian State with one government, one law, and one weapon - then there won't be any partnership between us. This is our condition, and we won't back away from it.
 
“We will only be talking to Hamas if they meet our requirements. The partnership with Hamas depends on arms being under the control of the Palestinian State."

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4568206,00.html

~~~~~~~~~~

If Abbas truly thinks that Hamas will relinquish control of their weapons to a unity government he heads, he’s dreaming. 

The April 23 reconciliation agreement signed by Palestinian leaders did not address the most contentious issue between them: the weapons of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing. Both Fatah and Hamas thought it best to pass on the issue to avoid it posing an obstacle to reconciliation.” (Emphasis added)

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/05/qassam-weapons-hamas-fatah-reconciliation.html#
 
Since Hamas never agreed to turn over its weapons, he is on thin ice with his demands. And what I observe is that so far he is all talk.  He has not broken with Hamas, he has merely threatened to do so.

~~~~~~~~~~

According to an analysis by Malcolm Lowe, Abbas is not nearly as smart as he imagines himself to be, and has maneuvered himself into a corner (emphasis added):

“The recent hostilities between Hamas and Israel have prompted various Israeli figures...to advocate an enhanced role for Mahmoud Abbas, the President (sic) of the Palestinian Authority [PA], in an eventual solution for Gaza. The implausibility of this idea has been pointed out elsewhere. What both the proponents and the critics of this idea have not asked, however, is a more fundamental question: To what extent was Abbas complicit in the aggression of Hamas?”

Lowe then documents the multiple ways in which Abbas was clearly complicit – thereby demonstrating that it is not as easy to switch horses as Abbas apparently imagined it would be.
 
“Previously, [Abbas] had been using security collaboration with Israel to weaken Hamas, his chief rival [in Judea and Samaria].  Now [March 2014] he chose the reverse tactic: by forming a Palestinian unity government...he hoped to use Hamas to weaken Israel to the point of succumbing to his demands.

This was a catastrophic miscalculation on the part of Abbas Hamas had its own reasons for joining a unity government.  Above all, Hamas had been made bankrupt by the Egyptian decision to eliminate the tunnels between Egypt and Gaza, so it relied on the promise that the unity government would pay the long overdue salaries of its 40,000 civil servants..

“...as the Israeli Security Service (Shin Bet) has discovered, Hamas exploited the formation of the unity government for a scheme to overthrow Abbas in the West Bank, while brutally injuring Fatah operatives in Gaza.
 
“Worst of all, an opinion poll shows that the Palestinian public -- in its characteristic mode of collective insanity -- accepts Hamas's claim of ‘victory’ over Israel. Whereas until recently Abbas enjoyed clear superiority over Hamas's Ismail Haniyeh in opinion polls, now Haniyeh is projected to defeat him by 61% to 32% in the upcoming election for the Palestinian presidency. Remember that the agreement to form a unity government stipulated that fresh elections for both the Palestinian parliament and the presidency should take place within six months. The same poll ascribes even greater popularity to Haniyeh in the West Bank than in Gaza (66% versus 53%)...
 
“In another misjudgment, Abbas finally opened his mouth to denounce Hamas's responsibility for the destruction of Gaza just days before that poll was published. That is, he was silent when the destruction could have been prevented, but chose to criticize it precisely when the broad Palestinian public had euphorically decided that it was a price worth paying.

“...the Palestinian government has now recommitted itself to paying the 40,000 Hamas officials in Gaza in addition to the 70,000 PA officials who have been receiving salaries in Gaza since 2007 without actually working.  In other words, the proposal is to pay 110,000 employees for the work that is currently done by 40,000 – and this is out of a Palestinian budget that is already (as usual) in deep deficit....”

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4679/evaluating-mahmoud-abbas

I suggest you save this URL and send it to anyone who promotes Abbas as the solution to the current situation in Gaza.

 

Credit: The Guardian


~~~~~~~~~~

At the time of the ceasefire, Izzat al-Rishq, a member of the Hamas politburo who was part of the Hamas negotiating team, said: “the resistance maintains its finger on the trigger.”

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/08/gaza-war-ceasefire-cairo-hamas-israel.html#
 
Nothing else was expected.  Most clearly, we are in a hiatus, but have not seen the end of hostilities.  Not only is Hamas refusing to surrender its weapons, there are reports that it is already working to replenish its weapons cache.

~~~~~~~~~~

“A senior political source warned on Sunday that Hamas has renewed its rocket manufacturing and smuggling operations and has begun rebuilding the terror tunnels destroyed by the IDF.”

“On Friday, Yedioth Ahronoth's political analyst Shimon Shiffer said that the Military Intelligence Director is expected to present in the coming days a comprehensive report to the political establishment regarding Hamas' rehabilitation efforts.”
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4568482,00.html

Now, there are claims that these reports are in error.

And then we’re told that it takes time for rebuilding to be done. Plus there is talk of methods to be put to use to detect tunnel construction.

It does not matter.

Once commercials goods start coming into Gaza, it is possible to smuggle parts of rockets inside commercial supplies.  I’ve even read about schemes to utilize a submarine to bring materials to Gaza (have no idea if this is viable).  Hamas – which is very determined - is aiming for more sophisticated equipment, not just replenishment of lost supplies.  Remember, it has a deal with North Korea.  It is not thinkable that down the road there should be equipment in the hands of Hamas that Iron Dome is not equipped to deal with.

It is Israel’s job now not only to track what is going on, but to respond to it quickly if re-arming is detected.
 
In the past, we sat still while arming went on in Gaza, waiting until Israel was attacked first – so that we would not be labeled the aggressor.  This would be deplorable in the current situation.

Israel is currently in negotiations with Hamas for a final truce.  We haven’t even reached that stage yet.  The maximum in vigilance and in responsiveness is required.

~~~~~~~~~~

There has been so much talk about a new diplomatic situation that would help us manage the situation in Gaza, with new alliances and new distress about jihadi regimes.  We’re part way there - witness the difference between Morsi and al-Sisi and expressed concerns of the EU regarding jihadists - but so far I have not seen anything of substance I can write about, although I would dearly love to do so.

All I see at present is a morass of confusion.

~~~~~~~~~~

You may well have seen one or more hysterical articles about how Israel is involved in a “land grab.”  I would like to close with a link to an article that refutes this (emphasis added):

“Last week, the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria declared that some 1,000 acres in the area of Gush Etzion was public (state) land.
 
“As expected, the extreme left-wing NGOs in Israel, led by Peace Now, exploded with an intensive campaign against this step, and shortly thereafter, the US, the UN and certain European countries began to condemn the move and demanded that Israel repeal its decision.

In a malicious manner intended to throw sand in the eyes of the international community, and to blacken the name of Israel, Peace Now purposely misrepresented this step – which was simply the formal completion of a well-known process – as expropriation of land, and another example of ‘occupation, expulsion and theft.

However, an accurate analysis of this declaration and its basis in law completely disproves the claim that Israel has taken over privately owned land. The opposite is actually true – this entire process, implemented by the government, of surveying and officially declaring land to be state land, is intended to ensure that no private property rights will be harmed and that new or expanded communities will be established only on land that belongs unequivocally to the sovereign power according to international law, and not to a private individual.”

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Get-a-grip-Theres-no-grab-374894

Another article to save, my friends. Share it and utilize it to defend Israel.  Please!

~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/9/11/september-11-2014-never-happened.html

 

Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 12:52PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 5, 2014: Briefs

Here I want simply to share information and analyses provided by others that will enlightened you – and, in one case, even entertain you.
 
The subject at hand, first, is the issue of the land in Gush Etzion that has been declared state land – in the process generating a horrified response heard round the world.
 
Daniel Greenfield, writing in his typically incisive manner as Sultan Knish, addresses this issue with tongue-in-cheek.  
 

 

Credit: Frontpage

 
It’s a piece worth reading and sharing:
 
”There are few weapons as deadly as the Israeli house. When its brick and mortar are combined together, the house, whether it is one of those modest one story hilltop affairs or a five floor apartment building complete with hot and cold running water, becomes far more dangerous than anything green and glowing that comes out of the Iranian centrifuges...
 
“Forget the cluster bomb and the mine, the poison gas shell and even tailored viruses. Iran can keep its nuclear bombs. They don't impress anyone in Europe or in Washington. Genocide is a minor matter when in the presence of the fearsome weapon of terror that is an Israeli family of four moving into a new apartment.”

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2014/09/the-deadly-israeli-house-strikes-again.html
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Ari Briggs of Regavim, observing the paucity of solid information regarding this issue, has put together material- including a map - that is exceedingly valuable for anyone seeking to understand what is going on.
 
From that material (italics in the original, bold added):
 
[] The area of the land is 1.46 square miles (990 acres, 380 Hectares, 3799 dunams)
 
[] Nobody lives on this land, neither Palestinian Arabs nor Israelis.
 
[] This land has been classed as public land since before 1948.
 
[] In 1967 all public lands including this piece in the West Bank came under Israeli control.  As an extra precaution, to ensure the protection of private property rights, the authorities put in place an additional process to double and triple check that no private land was mistakenly included. This process of investigation and final declaration is what the government announced recently. The declaration does not change the status of the land.
 
[] The land is situated in the Etzion bloc which is acknowledged and widely accepted to be included on the Israeli side of a future land swap in any negotiated peace agreement.
 
[] The land straddles the 1949 Armistice lines and is in Area C under full Israeli administration and security control based on 1993 Oslo Accords.
 
[] Pre-1948 there were Jewish communities in the Etzion bloc that were destroyed by the Jordanian Arab Legion and Egyptian Army in Israel’s Independence War.
 
[] As a general rule in Western countries there is either public land or private land. Thus the concept of ownerless land is not familiar. As a rule a sovereign power owns all land that is not privately owned. This is based on Ottoman land law and British land law and is also enshrined in Israeli land law. The process of final declaration as proscribed by the authorities is in place as an extra protection of private property rights. As such in the case where the sovereign power wants to advance building plans in an area where the land registry record is not complete it has to do an in-depth survey of the land by law, to ensure 1000% that the land is not privately owned.
 
After decades of due process the land was surveyed and determined to not be privately owned, yet even so a 45 day window of appeal is available by law.

Anyone seeking additional information is welcome to contact me.
 
~~~~~~~~~~

Lastly, on the subject, I invite you to see this fine article by international lawyer (and member of the Legal Grounds Legal Advisory Board) Eugene Kontorovich (emphasis added):
 
Israel’s declaration of certain open, uncultivated areas near the 1949 Armistice Line as ‘state land’ has been widely mischaracterized as an ‘appropriation’ of private Palestinian land, and a promotion of settlement activity. It is neither.

A determination that land is ‘state land’ is a factual, administrative finding that does not change the ownership of land. In the West Bank–like in the American West–massive amounts of land have no private owners. There is nothing unusual about this...

“An ‘appropriation’ involves taking something that is someone’s. A designation of land as ‘state land’ requires a determination, based on extensive investigation, that it does not have a private owner. The determination can be challenged administratively and judicially, as Palestinian claimants often do, and sometimes prevail.

“In other words, nothing has been taken from anyone, or given to anyone. Thus a ‘state land’ determination does not create any new facts or change ownership.

”Moreover, designating an area state land does not mean that a Jewish community can be built on it...Authorizing a new residential community would require a vast number of additional administrative and political permissions...

“The hysteria over this announcement illustrates several points. First, it reflects how detached discussions of “illegal settlements” are from international law...”

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/09/04/defining-settlements-down-the-false-appropriation-hysteria/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Switching gears now to what went on in Gaza, I want to provide this important information “Israel vindicated by UN damage assessment in Gaza.” It is so very different from the impression lent by most media reports and I advise saving this for reference (emphasis added):
 
”An analysis of the damage assessment data collected - on the Gaza War - by the UN Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (which has never been biased in Israel's favor), confirms that Israel attacked Hamas targets in a restrained manner.
 
”Israel bombed areas which harbored Hamas missile launching grounds and facilities, command posts, terrorists homes and hideouts, operational bases, weapon inventory and tunnels.

”Most of the damage concentrated in very limited areas of 25 square meters of less, while most of Gaza was not damaged at all or in a very limited manner.  Less than 5% of Gaza was hit by The Israel Defense Forces.

”The most populated areas of Gaza City, Jabaliya, Khan Yunes, Rafah and Deir el-Balah were disproportionally-undamaged: damaged in a very limited way or not damaged at all.
 
“The areas highlighted by the UN damage assessment report are compatible with the Israel Defense Forces briefings on the location of Hamas facilities, especially in the Shuja'iya area, which was the arena of the most intense battles.

”While Hamas concentrated its terror facilities...in densely populated urban areas in Gaza, the vast majority of these urban areas were undamaged.”

 
http://send.hadavars.com/index.php?action=message&l=2090&c=30525&m=28855&s=a6cb16d3b3816334978bf4ecf04fe6e1
 
I’ve been writing about standing strong for Israel.  Here is information that provides clarity and enables you to stand up for Israel in letters to the editor, talkbacks and the like.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
In closing, some good news:  Israel and Jordan have signed a $15 billion natural gas deal.  This benefits Israel economically and creates ties of Jordan to Israel that can only serve us well:
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184721#.VAmp5pvlrIV
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
More to follow soon.  Shabbat Shalom!
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/9/6/september-5-2014-briefs.html

 

Posted on Saturday, September 6, 2014 at 06:23PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 3, 2014: A Lonely Mandate

These are particularly tough times for Israel (and for Jews more broadly). The situation demands steady nerves and absolute determination to pursue our course with conviction.  Is is difficult, indeed, not to be deflected by rage, which enervates, or to fall into depression, the flip side of that rage. 
 
The world, which has turned upside down, is smoldering, and on the cusp of bursting into flames.
 
But in the face of consummate and breathtaking evil, attacking Israel occupies the attention of the western world.  For we have done something that is deemed terrible: we have allocated close to 1,000 acres in the Gush Etzion area as state land available for future housing. 
 
Shocking, isn’t it?  Never mind that Islamists are raping women in large numbers, or that there are hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, or that ISIS has beheaded two American journalists.  Or that Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas politburo, has said Hamas will never relinquish its “sacred” weapons, and is prepared, as necessary to return to “resistance” until its goals (destruction of Israel) are reached.  The EU and the US have time to harshly criticize Israel:
 
The US has formally asked Israel to reverse the decision on this land.
 
The EU has said this decision constitutes “an obstacle to peace and threatens to render the two state solution impossible.”
 
There has been “condemnation” of Israel’s action in several quarters, and Britain warned that this would “threaten” our “standing” in the international community.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Allow me, then, to respond with pertinent background information.
 
The land in question is largely in Gush Etzion, a bloc of Jewish communities south east of Jerusalem that is solidly tied to Israel’s history – and to the modern history of Jews in the Land even before the founding of Israel.  See: http://www.gush-etzion.org.il/history.asp
 
It is unthinkable that this area would ever be part of a “Palestinian state,” and the notion that building here would render the “two state solution” impossible is unmitigated nonsense.
 
It is simply that the world has decided we have no rights to land beyond what is referred to as the “pre-1967 border” but is in fact a 1949 temporary armistice line.  An irrational fixation with that “Palestinian state” persists at all costs.  A fixation that we must counter.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
In point of fact, the Oslo II Interim Agreement, as elucidated in a briefing by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, “established a division of the West Bank into three areas: Area A, where the Palestinians had full control, Area B where there was mixed Israeli and Palestinian security control but full Palestinian civil control, and Area C, where Israel had full military and civilian control. Israeli responsibilities in Area C included the power of zoning and planning.  The territory which Israel declared as state land is within Area C.” (Emphasis added) 
 
http://jcpa.org/israels-988-acres-of-west-bank-territory/
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Oslo aside for the moment, matters of land allocation in Judea and Samaria are complicated precisely because Israel has not annexed the area. There is a layering of laws going back to the pre-Mandate Ottoman period; the Mandate period (1922 – 1948), when Great Britain was the administrator; through the period of illegal Jordanian occupation (1949 – 1967; and since to the present with Israel as administrator.
 
Broadly, land in Judea and Samaria falls into one of three legal categories: state land, private land, and land whose status is to be determined. The area in question had the status of territory whose status is to be determined.  However, an investigation was required before the change of status to state land could be announced: That lengthy investigation, completed this summer, determined its status.  No private Arab ownership was uncovered. Now there will be a window of opportunity for those who might wish to contest this finding.  And as we are looking at a bureaucratic process, it will be some time before any actual building is done.
 
This, then, is what the furor is about.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
All of this has to do with the resumption of the “peace process.”  A linkage that is without reason has been made: now that there is a ceasefire (still temporary) between Israel and Hamas, Israel must go back to the table to negotiate with the PA.  How that is – when Abbas sat at the table with Hamas in Cairo and has not pulled out of the unity agreement – is unclear.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I’ve written several times lately about the difficulty of determining where our prime minister stands, as his statements and policies do not seem consistent.  I wrote this with regard to the goals of the war with Hamas, but it applies, as well here with Israel’s stand against the international community. 
 
I do not for a moment consider the pressures being brought to bear on Netanyahu to be anything less than horrendous.  But this is what I’m seeing:
 
According a report in Arutz Sheva two days ago, in response to the June 12 abduction and murder of Gilad Sha'ar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrah, Netanyahu had ordered for bids to go out on 2,500 housing units – in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos in the Judea and Samaria communities of Ariel, Emanuel, and Beitar Illit.
 
“The bid publications were prepared and ready to go - until Netanyahu at the very last minute waffled and changed his mind, canning the plan right before it was to be published. (Emphasis added)
 
According to Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit “the international pressure placed on Israel during and following Operation Protective Edge...led Netanyahu to fear an international ‘crisis’ if he were to announce plans for new Jewish houses.”
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184641#.VAdBTJvlrIV
 
These were plans for new housing in areas where Israeli development already existed and yet were deemed too controversial.  Yet now an announcement has been made for a new area to be considered state land, and Netanyahu has allowed this to go through.
 
Gil Hoffman of the JPost says that Netanyahu permitted this for political reasons: with Naftali Bennett besting him in polls as the right wing leader of the nation, he had to show his nationalist credentials.
 
Perhaps. But the fact is that he did it.  He presumably made the judgment that it is possible to withstand the international furor.  A lesson that should not be lost.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
On the issue of negotiations, Netanyahu is showing strength right now.
 
In the face of Abbas’s peace plan (which I will track in more detail in following posts), our government has made it clear that we will not deal with a PA government that has Hamas backing.
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Israel-insists-it-will-not-deal-with-Hamas-backed-PA-government-374282
 
This is precisely as it should be, for starters.  (I can think of many reasons not to negotiate with a PA government even if it were no longer backed by Hamas.)
 
In addition, according to Israel’s Channel 2, yesterday, before the Gaza war Netanyahu had told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that his government would no longer release prisoners convicted of terrorists acts as a gesture to Abbas. 
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/No-more-prisoner-releases-for-Abbas-Netanyahu-says-374301
 
Considering the disasters we’ve encountered as a result of terrorists who were released (and never should have been), no other position is possible. 
 
This is not going to play well with the US, or with the PA.  Or, I would assume, with the EU.  But it is a position that absolutely must be maintained – and which may, in and of itself, preclude negotiations because of what Abbas will demand.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
It is, I believe, the mandate of our prime minister and his government to stand strong for Israel – for Israeli rights and Israeli security both. A tough mandate, given the pressures and the complex decisions that must be made, and a very necessary one.  More necessary, perhaps, than at any other time.  Appearance of Israeli weakness or doubt as to Israel’s rights would be a disservice to the nation.
 
Along with this, there is a mandate to present Israel’s positions in a clear, forthright manner, in public forums and for the media.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And it is, then, the mandate of all who care about Israel, to stand with the prime minister in this time as he stands for Israel’s rights and security.  This means speaking out in a forthright way for Israel and missing no opportunity to broadcasts the facts. which are so little understood.  It also means exposing the evil and the duplicity of the PA, which continues to be embraced by the international community.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Here I ask, please, that you communicate with Prime Minister Netanyahu.  Do it with courtesy and brevity.  Encourage him to stand strong against a perverse international community that will never be pleased no matter what Israel does.  Implore him to speak for Israel’s rights and security.  And ensure him that you will salute him for this, and stand with him – and speak out for Israel in your community.
 
E-mail: Memshala@pmo.gov.il and also pm_eng2@it.pmo.gov.il (underscore after pm) use both addresses. 

~~~~~~~~~~ 

Do not write to ask Obama or Kerry to support Israel – it would be an absolute waste of your energy, as they have an agenda that will not change.  But please do reach out to your elected representatives in Congress in support of Israel, as often as it seems necessary to do so. 

For your Congresspersons: 

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ 

For your Senators: 

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm 

~~~~~~~~~~

 I will, to the best of my ability, continue to provide information on the political/diplomatic situation – so that ramifications and processes might be understood, and on the devious machinations of Abbas.  Please, my friends, use my material.

~~~~~~~~~~ 

And there is something else I expect to do, as well: 

As many of you know, Jeff Daube, head of ZOA in Israel, and I co-chair “Legal Grounds – the Campaign for Israel’s Rights in Judea and Samaria.”  During the war we were silent, because we understood what came first and where attention had to be focused.  

Now it’s time to begin the campaign again.  I will be providing information on what we have done to date and what we yet hope to do. I encourage the interest and the participation of my readers. With the international push to get us to surrender our rights in Judea and Samaria, and to negotiate a “Palestinian state,” this campaign assumes enormous importance for Israel’s future. 

~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/9/3/september-3-2014-a-lonely-mandate.html

 

Posted on Wednesday, September 3, 2014 at 04:14PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 1, 2014: Discontent

While I am mindful of constraints on my time and the fact that it is Labor Day, I post to do follow-through and share some important perspectives.

Netanyahu has now made additional comments as to why he chose to embrace certain positions regarding Hamas, and what he might still do.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Credit: Flash 90

First, he explained why he called a halt to the fighting with Hamas when he did:

“...today, when I look around and I see Al Qaeda on the [border] fence, and ISIS galloping into Jordan and already in Lebanon, and in Lebanon there is Hezbollah that is a little larger than Hamas, and Iran that backs it, and Iran [itself] – and I say, in the face of these combined threats, we set a goal in the Cabinet, to deal Hamas a very severe blow, and we did this, with the thousand terrorists we killed, the senior commanders, the tunnels, the rockets... I decided not to put all of our resources into this single arena and not into other arenas.”

He alluded to Fallujah in Iraq. where American troops fought against the Islamists.  Once the US pulled out of Fallujah, the Islamists came back in and took over.  He didn’t want to create such a problem in Gaza – where Israel would take out Hamas, and then pull out, only to leave space for Islamists in Gaza to take over.
 
And he explained his reluctance to do another ground operation: “Why do I need to go in? If I can hit them from the air and get the effect of grinding them without risking soldiers' lives, why should I go in?”
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184577#.VAOg95vlrIV

~~~~~~~~~~

And you know what?  I understand all of these reasons.  In fact, I enumerated them myself just days ago – when I explained why taking out Hamas completely might not be the best way to go. 

However...I remain unsettled because the decision to terminate the fighting was made in a way that felt precipitous.  A beautiful and much-loved four year old child had been killed by Hamas mortar.  This saddened the heart of Israel. And then very shortly before the ceasefire was called, two other Israelis - Ze'ev Etzion, head of security for Kibbutz Nirim, and his deputy, Shahar Melamed – were killed and some four others wounded by mortar fire.

What is more, there was no reduction in the number of projectiles fired from Gaza into Israel in the hours before the ceasefire.  There was, instead, a horrendous barrage that persisted until the last second and I believe even a bit beyond.

That a ceasefire was agreed to precisely then gave the Israeli populace a sense that governmental resolution was lacking – that an adequate job had not yet been done.  It wasn’t, after all, an either/or question of stopping that very instant or having to go into Gaza and take out Hamas completely.  A continuation of the punishing bombing might have been possible for some additional days.  Perhaps another high level terrorist might have been taken out.  Or there might have been a foray of ground troops that headed for a specific target inside of Gaza and then pulled back.

Instead, what it felt like was that we took that last minute beating – with the deaths and the furious barrage – and then said, that’s it, guys, we’re done. And that didn’t feel like victory – no matter how accurate the prime minister’s description of the beating Hamas had taken.  It felt like caving. And, as I’ve said before, perceptions do matter.  Not just for our own populace, but because al-Qaeda and ISIS and all the others are watching.

~~~~~~~~~~

The fact that the agreement to accept the ceasefire was made just then, with that sense of precipitousness and lack of resolution, leads me to believe, still, that Netanyahu was under duress – that he did not decide this unilaterally, but had some “guidance” from the White House.

It is pretty much a given that presidential pressure was part of the picture – it would not be something unexpected.  The question remains (and we will likely never know) what the import of the threat was.  Was Netanyahu, for his part, too quick to concede – for indeed, it is the job of the prime minister to stand strong for Israel’s sovereignty? Or was the threat of a serious enough nature that what he did was prudent? 

~~~~~~~~~~

I am mindful of the fact that Netanyahu did not take a vote in the Security Cabinet before deciding to agree to the ceasefire, it is said because he was unsure of securing its approval.  Were the bottom-line issues the ones he now enunciates regarding other dangers to contend with, etc., one would think that he would have discussed them with the members of the Cabinet; the fact that this didn’t happen also leads to questions as to what was going on.

The reason he now gives for not taking it to the Cabinet: he saved the ministers who would likely have opposed the ceasefire - Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Communications Minister Gilad Erdan - the “dilemma of opposing a proposal whereby Hamas gave up all its demands.”  They were secretly pleased not to have to vote on this, he said.

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Netanyahu-Toppling-Hamas-remains-an-option-372828

Well. These ministers will have to speak for themselves on this, but it sounds more than a bit hollow. 
~~~~~~~~~~

Netanyahu has said that a “drizzle” of rockets launched from Gaza will not be tolerated.  This – tolerating a “drizzle” - has been a problem since the Hamas takeover of Gaza: “So, Hamas launched two rockets today.  No one was hurt. Are we going to start up over that? Let’s make a statement (or bomb an empty field where a launcher had been)   and then let it go.”  Thus was deterrence lost, as Hamas observed the Israeli readiness to be shot at, a little. 

Now the terrorists must know that there cannot be even a single rocket launched or single instance of firing of mortar shells.  This is not only for deterrence, it is to provide a very necessary sense of security to the residents of the south.   

What he has indicated is that the bombing Gaza has endured until now would be nothing compared to the attack that would ensue if they started launching rockets again.  This is by way of deterrence.  There is reasonable likelihood that Netanyahu will be tested on this: the negotiations in Cairo are due to begin and Hamas intends to demand a seaport, an airport, release of prisoners and all the rest.

http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/08/31/report-indirect-cairo-talks-to-resume-this-week/

~~~~~~~~~~

Netanyahu is also saying something else:  “I never removed the goal of toppling Hamas, and I am not doing that now.”  (JPost citation above.) 

And here, again, his statements lead to a confusion as to what his plan was, or his specified goal.  For he is still saying that the goal was to remove the danger of the tunnels and strike a hard blow to Hamas – goals he says we achieved. 

This latest comment is presumably intended as deterrence: What he means, I trust, is that he didn’t want to focus on Gaza sufficiently to take out Hamas all the way, but if Hamas persists in its aggression, then he will have to adjust his goals and topple this terrorist group.  Would that he had been more precise in saying this.

~~~~~~~~~~

When I last wrote, a report from a Jordanian paper had surfaced that claimed Netanyahu and Abbas had met in Amman.  At that point there was no denial from Netanyahu’s office and it was most unsettling.

There have since been denials here in Israel:

http://www.jerusalemonline.com/news/politics-and-military/politics/the-prime-minister-and-abbas-did-not-meet-in-jordan-7741

I was asked by an associate if this makes me feel better.  My answer: only marginally.  For Netanyahu did make inane statements about how he hopes Abbas will be a partner for negotiations.  That is, he hopes that Abbas will chose peace with Israel and not unity with Hamas.  But, as I have repeatedly pointed out, Abbas has already made his choice and is no moderate peace partner. The fact that Netanyahu – well knowing this - feels the need to make such a statement tells us a good deal about the duress he faces and what may be coming down the road.

There was a bit of a flap when Abbas allegedly claimed that Netanyahu had agreed to negotiate based on the pre-1967 border.  When it was vehemently denied here, a correction ensued.  There had been a mistake – it was Obama who agreed on this line, not Netanyahu.  And, indeed, this has been Obama’s position from the start.

~~~~~~~~~~

My wish for a long time now has been that Netanyahu would have the courage to state forthrightly and publicly that it is a mistake to talk about negotiations based on the pre-1967 border, because there was never such a border: There was only a temporary armistice line.

How can we remotely expect the world to understand this, if our head of state will not clarify?

~~~~~~~~~~

This, however, is encouraging, if true:

According to the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi, Kerry and Netanyahu recently had a conversation about restarting the peace talks, and Israel’s release of the fourth group of prisoners.  As Netanyahu was not receptive, Kerry apparently decided to cancel plans to come to this area.
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Report-Kerry-and-Netanyahu-discussed-restarting-peace-talks-4th-prisoner-release-373069

Release of prisoners?  Netanyahu knows this would fly here in Israel like a lead balloon.

Reportedly, a PA delegation will be going to Washington, instead, to discuss “a new peace initiative.”

Actually, Abbas is falling back into his habit of making threats – re: the Security Council and the ICC now - in order to frighten us into making “peace” on his terms.  This will not work.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Israel has just designated about 4,000 dunams (988 acres) of land in Judea and Samaria, mostly in Gush Etzion, as state land.
 
This paves the way for construction to be done on the land, and, as could be anticipated, the US has objected because this is “counterproductive” to the “peace process.”
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184623#.VAREY5vlrIU

What else is new?

~~~~~~~~~~
 
Reportedly -  there was no official word on this - the land will be used for building a community in memory of the three students kidnapped and murdered in June.
 
While I am all for memorials to the students, I object to the notion that we need a pretext to build in Judea and Samaria.  It is simply our right to do so.  In point of fact, Israel has been talking since 2000 about a community to be called Gva'ot, to be built on that land, starting with 1,000 housing units.  I hope to have more on this.
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4566227,00.html

~~~~~~~~~~
 
I want to end here with information about the dangers of encroaching radical Islam, which in the end is not only a major problem for Israel, but for the entire world.

I note, first, that Islamic rebels have taken the area on the other side of the Golan border, and that from time to time shelling spills over.  With the war with Hamas, I did not focus on this but now hope to watch the situation with greater attention.  As I write, there is fierce fighting at the Quneitra crossing.

In a picture taken from the Golan Heights, smoke billows from the Syrian village of Quneitra following an explosion during fighting, between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels, near the Quneitra border crossing on August 31, 2014.

In a picture taken from the Golan Heights, smoke billows from the Syrian village of Quneitra following an explosion during fighting, between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels, near the Quneitra border crossing on August 31, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/MENAHEM KAHANA)

 Credit: AFP/Menahem Kahana

~~~~~~~~~~

And then there is the issue of ISIS (the “Islamic State” in Iraq and Syria), which in its determination and viciousness, makes the threat of Hamas pale considerably.

Please see this video of a news program on the issue by CBN (with thanks to Dov Shmuel Freedman for posting this on his FB page.):

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10154600234650393&set=vb.140647865392&type=2&theater

If can watch this with equanimity, you just do not get it.  Every single American ought to be terrified at this point, for ISIS is aiming for the United States, which is very vulnerable.  This is because the southern border of the US is porous and will permit the infiltration of ISIS terrorists, and because there are reported to be at least 100 people with US citizenship fighting with ISIS, who – thoroughly indoctrinated - may then return to America to generate terrorism. 

With this all, Obama does not have a plan.  Obama does not have a plan.

CBN is a Christian station.  Their broadcasters have a vision that is clear – a vision that mainstream liberal media lack.  They end their program with prayer – and it is prayer that my Christian readers will embrace.  For my Jewish readers, I heartily endorse prayer, as well, of a Jewish nature.

~~~~~~~~~~

Clare M. Lopez, Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy and a former CIA agent, is an entirely reputable analyst with a strong background in issues of terrorism. 

 

Credit: familysecuritymatters

I have had direct communication with her, and I respect her greatly – as it turns out, not just for her knowledge but her courage in speaking truth (emphasis to her quotes added):

Just days ago, she cautioned against a strong US response to ISIS before the US has an overall strategy in place.  “Any military action would be further complicated...if it were not clear which side the U.S. is on, either in the short term or in the overall war on terror.

“In any case, and for whatever motivations, there is no doubt this administration switched sides in what used to be called the Global War on Terror.”

Lopez believes Obama has essentially the same goals in the Mideast as the late Osama bin Laden: “to remove American power and influence, including military forces, from Islamic lands.”

http://www.examiner.com/article/cia-now-admits-that-president-obama-is-a-radical-islamic-enemy-of-america

Reports the Examiner:

According to a report by the Center for Security Policy, Mohamed Elibiary, a senior member of the Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council, supports brokering a US partnership with the Muslim Brotherhood. “Two months ago, a firestorm erupted online after Elibiary tweeted that a ‘Caliphate’ is inevitable and compared it to the European Union.”

(With thanks to Andrew B.)

~~~~~~~~~~

Is it too late to save America?  I pray not. But in the end, only Americans can answer this question.

Coming full circle, I suspect that the state of affairs in the American administration, as we’re seeing it, provides clues as to what Netanyahu likely must cope with.  This is with regard to what Obama might stoop to in making threats.  But it is also an indicator of how very alone Israel stands: America does not have our back at all but quite the contrary. 

~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/9/1/september-1-2014-discontent.html

 

Posted on Monday, September 1, 2014 at 08:10AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 27, 2014: A Second Look

I’m sure that - after today’s assessment - I will take a third and a fourth and fifth look at the ceasefire declared last night in Gaza.  In many ways this is an evolving situation,  more complex than it might have seemed at first blush.
 
I begin by noting that impressions do matter – especially where deterrence is concerned.  If Hamas appears to be the victor, that impression reverberates internationally in a way that is detrimental to our concerns.  And in any event the sight of celebrating Palestinian Arabs in Gaza, which we have been shown in news video clips over the past several hours, is extraordinarily galling.
 
 
Palestinians celebrate what they said was a victory over Israel following a ceasefire in Gaza City August 26, 2014 (Reuters / Mohammed Salem)

Credit: Reuters
 
However, there are a couple of points that must be made with regard to this “victory” celebration.
 
The first is a reminder that the Arabs always win.  Even when they have been very soundly defeated, they will let you know that they have won.  This approach stems from their honor-shame culture, which simply does not allow for anything that might be considered shameful.
 
Bassam Tawil, writing now in Gatestone, refers to “the pathetic way Arabs boast to convince themselves that they won every war the Israelis defeated them in.”
 
http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4653/hamas-victory
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
The second is that they may be celebrating the end of the fighting more than a victory: because of Hamas’s “martyr” policy, the people of Gaza have had a very hard time.  It was Mahmoud Abbas (please note this) who made the announcement in Arabic to the people of Gaza.  I saw a sub-title translation, and if it is correct, he said there was now a permanent ceasefire.  Permanent? Then they’re done with running from Israeli bombs? Or standing still in order to get hit? A good time to celebrate.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
We did not succeed in bringing Hamas to its knees, in order to get them to simply stop firing rockets at us – which would have been the best outcome.  Perhaps, had we not agreed now to the ceasefire, we might have.  That, I would say, is the major frustration here – and certainly it constitutes a good part of what deprives us of a solid sense of victory.  
 
But what must be clarified is that we certainly did a huge amount of damage to them.  On the face of things, this is obvious, but it needs to be said.
 
According to some analysts, even though Hamas did not stop launching rockets – they defiantly launched them even into the beginning of the ceasefire – they agreed to that ceasefire because they were beaten down.
 
Wrote Steve Emerson, citing a report from Israel security officials (emphasis added):
 
“...amid the report's assessment that Hamas had lost much of its will to fight, the terrorist group agreed to the latest Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.

“There is growing discontent among the Hamas ranks, as the group suffered significant terrorist casualties, destruction of vital military infrastructure, rocket construction capabilities, and major destruction of its sophisticated underground tunnel network, the Post report said. Israel's successful targeted assassination of senior Hamas leaders severely disrupted the terrorist organization's command and control structure, and even resulted in the desertion of rank and file terrorists from battle.

“In light of the assassinations, growing suspicion of Israeli intelligence infiltration also forced Hamas to halt the use sophisticated technologies in the battlefield, significantly reducing its ability to fight. The growing mistrust and panic led Hamas to summarily execute over 20 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel.

“Mid-range commanders allegedly fled with their families from conflict zones to avoid having their houses destroyed, producing a sense of mistrust and abandonment among remaining fighters. In one case, 14 Hamas fighters were reportedly trapped in a tunnel for 20 days with no supplies while their commanders failed to even attempt a rescue effort. Some are believed to have starved to death.”

http://www.investigativeproject.org/4547/decimated-hamas-accepts-ceasefire-claims-victory
 
This is a picture of Hamas as the loser with claims of victory that are very hollow.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And we are being provided with a picture of Hamas that has now agreed to terms it could have had previously. 
 
Writes Ron Ben-Yishai in YNet:
 
“In Jerusalem and the Defense Ministry's Kirya compound in Tel Aviv they are rubbing their hands in satisfaction - and quite rightly so. After a short-lived war of attrition of just one week, even without a fresh ground incursion, Hamas blinked first and agreed to the outline of the initial ceasefire proposed the Egyptians - the outline of which it had received before Israel sent its ground troops in weeks ago.
 
“Hamas has not even received the ‘minor agreement’ it could have secured eight days ago, before it violated the ceasefire the last time. Israel, however, has not ceded on anything, rather simply agreed to the ceasefire approved by the Cabinet back in mid-July, a few days after the start of Operation Protective Edge.”
 
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4564522,00.html
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Does this mean, then, that I have re-thought the situation and now believe the ceasefire was a good thing, and that Israel is the uncontested winner?
 
No, my friends, it does not.  While I have provided balance in the above, there are still some very serious considerations, some very serious problems.  I am not sure we know yet how much we have won, or have failed to win.  Many of us wanted a clear win, and that it is not.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Ben-Yishai, cited above, also says this (emphasis added):
 
”Granted, the organization is badly wounded, has had all of its military capabilities taken away and more than a thousand of its fighters lost their lives...And yet, there is no satisfactory answer that will ensure the safety of the border communities against mortars, short-range rockets and even anti-tank missiles that could be fired on a bus carrying children to school in the Eshkol Regional Council or the Negev.

“The indefinite ceasefire that took effect Tuesday evening is a tactical win that, for the moment, does not guarantee long-term, stable calm for the Western Negev communities or the whole of Israel. It was indeed Hamas who sought the ceasefire, even pleaded for it, but the organization is known to be a serial violator of ceasefires, and the need to hurt and shed the blood of the Israelis has often overcome its survival instinct and concern for the Palestinians under its control.”

So, Hamas is down, but not out – and this does not qualify as a clear win for us. 

~~~~~~~~~~

This, certainly, is how the residents of the communities near Gaza are feeling.

Itamar Shimoni, Mayor of Ashkelon, believes any compromise with Hamas is a surrender to terror. (Emphasis added)

The residents of Israel and the south wanted to see a decision in this campaign, but this will apparently not happen.


"We wanted to see Hamas defeated and begging for its life; instead we see Israel running to the negotiating table at every opportunity.”

The head of the Eshkol Council, Haim Yelin, said that he will not ask the residents of his region to return to their homes.He told Channel 10 news, “In Jerusalem there appears to be a ceasefire. I don't know what they are talking about. In Jerusalem they feel safe...but not us.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184469#.U_32lJvlrIV

Quite frankly, this is shameful: the people of the south deserve better.  They were told, by Netanyahu himself and the military leaders, “be patient, be strong...it will be OK.”  But it is not OK.

~~~~~~~~~~

On his Facebook page, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (head of Yisrael Beitenu) has written:

"It is forbidden to make peace with Hamas, and as long as Hamas exists it's impossible to make peace. As long as Hamas rules in Gaza, it is impossible to ensure the security of Israeli citizens, and impossible to reach a peace agreement.

“...we opposed a ceasefire under whose cover Hamas will be able to continue and grow, and manage additional campaigns against Israel at a time convenient to it.

As long as the Hamas regime is not overthrown - the threat of rockets and tunnels remains. We must stand firm on Hamas not receiving any diplomatic achievement thanks to this ceasefire."

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184481#.U_39P5vlrIU

~~~~~~~~~~

And Times of Israel editor David Horovitz has written a thoughtful piece that I suggest you read in its entirety. He says (emphasis added):

“Support for Netanyahu’s handling of the conflict will rise again if time, and the long-term ceasefire terms, prove that Hamas has been marginalized and de-fanged.  Many Israelis, indeed, will come to hail him for not having ordered a far more extensive ground offensive into the treacherous heart of Gaza where Hamas lay in wait, with the consequent likely loss of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of soldiers’ lives.

But if Hamas is not marginalized, if it proves capable of rebuilding its tunnels, restocking its rocket arsenals, and plotting new strategies toward its goal of Israel’s annihilation, the Israeli strategy for handling this conflict will have been a failure, and the popularity of the prime minister will be far from the most central of Israel’s concerns.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/those-hamas-victory-celebrations-should-not-be-easily-dismissed/

~~~~~~~~~~

There are those who declare that because we didn’t do the full job, the entire war was “for nothing.” I vehemently disagree.  If for no other reason than that we took out the tunnels which led into Israel and which were going to be used by Hamas to massacre large numbers of Israelis, it was for something.  In addition to which, we have weakened Hamas considerably.

Anyone who calls this “for nothing,” in my opinion desecrates the memories of those soldiers who gave their lives – so that innocent people in the south would not be massacred, and so that Hamas would be weakened.

~~~~~~~~~~ 

It is, however, also a given that Netanyahu was not as strong as he should have been in this war.  I have written innumerable times that he makes decisions while watching over his shoulder, and indeed, it was true here as much as it has ever been.  He is forever watching world opinion.  The question is whether this is ever a valid way to proceed – there are a lot of hazards to Israel out there. But what this means is that sometimes he fails to pay attention to the needs of Israel’s citizens.

A horrendous example of this has come to light, and I shudder even as I share it here – but share it I will:

According to a Channel 10 report on Monday, five mortar barrels were aimed at Kibbutz Nachal Oz, and mortars were shot at the kibbutz repeatedly.  Residents of the kibbutz “claim the IDF told them that three of the barrels are embedded adjacent to schools where displaced Gaza residents are taking shelter, and therefore the IDF did not strike them to eliminate the threat.

“They add that the IDF said the two other barrels are located adjacent to the houses of residents that the IDF was unable to contact during the course o the 50 day operation so as to ask them to leave and avoid harming them.  As a result, the IDF likewise decided not to strike.”

The fear of course was being accused of “war crimes.” But this is ludicrous.

If this report is true, a mortar from one of those guns, which could have been silenced by the IDF, is what killed little Daniel Tragerman.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184482#.U_4DfZvlrIU

~~~~~~~~~~

What remains to be seen now is how strong Netanyahu will be in the follow-up to the war, as he deals with the international community.  Herein lies the key. 

In my next posting, I want to take a look at the role of the international community – Obama, Kerry, the UN, the EU, et al – and of Mahmoud Abbas.

And I will close today by citing one more commentator who segues into this issue. Avi Issacharoff writes (emphasis added):  

“...unless there is a 180 degree turn in Israeli policy relating to Abbas, the ceasefire will change nothing and the next escalation is only a matter of time.”


http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamass-humiliation-and-israels-looming-defeat/

I will return to this critical issue.  We all have a great deal of work to do.

~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/8/27/august-27-2014-a-second-look.html

 

Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 04:48PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 26, 2014: Worse and Worser

The truth: There is no entirely satisfactory resolution to our war with Hamas (the war that is not called a war). 
 
Aside, of course, from that “ultimate” resolution in which we would fully retake Gaza and banish all terrorists and jihadis - thereby creating a peaceful situation in Gaza and a situation of deterrence with regard to terrorists in other locales – and then rebuild Gush Katif, helping the former residents to return. 
 
Certainly I am among those who dream of such a thing.   And I do believe in the importance of dreams.  I know that there would be no Israel without dreams and the courage to act upon them. 
 
But I also know that this vision is not about to be realized. There are a variety of factors that are arrayed against us and render this scenario severely problematic. I’ve covered them before:
 
[] The fact of the network of tunnels means we would pay a large price in the lives of our young soldiers – a price that would be difficult for the nation to bear.  That is not to say our dedicated young soldiers would not go with willingness, for they would – bless them for their dedication and for long life.  But many deaths would have a corrosive effective upon the morale of the nation and would cause serious doubts to be raised about the operation.
 
[] The expense of this war, which would be prolonged, and of then assuming responsibility for the Arabs in Gaza who would remain would create a tremendous fiscal drain on the nation that many would consider unacceptable.
 
[] As soon as Hamas and related jihadi groups were banished, there would be an incredible international push for Abbas and his “moderate” cohorts to control Gaza as a step towards a Palestinian state.  (More on this below.)  There are a host of international problems associated with this.
 
[]  Perhaps most significantly, the drain on our military resources might render us ill-equipped to do battle with Hezbollah in Lebanon and radicals in Syria who are at our border in the Golan, should this become necessary.  Yes, I just wrote, above, that were we to banish radicals from Gaza, we would have great deterrence power.  But what if, while we were in the course of fighting that extended war in Gaza, Hezbollah decided that it would be a great time to attack us from the northern front?  It could be that we need a certain portion of our forces and equipment kept at the ready for other attacks and that IDF planners are reluctant to become too enmeshed in Gaza right now. And here I didn’t even mention Iran.
 
And so we must resign ourselves to something less.
 
~~~~~~~~~~

Some of my readers have written to me to tell me what the Israeli government “must” or “should” do.  They learned that I was sometimes less than receptive to this.  For I believe there are many extenuating factors that make it difficult if not impossible for someone from the outside to judge precisely what “must” or “should” be done.  In responding to critics, I have tried to give the government reasonable latitude – understanding that there is always much that is going on under the surface.
 
What I had wanted to consider today were possible resolutions in real terms that took into account a variety of different and often painful factors – part-way or not totally satisfactory resolutions, but resolutions that might be considered a gain nonetheless. 
 
HOWEVER... we seem to be caught now in a situation that is very far from satisfactory resolution.  Too far.
 
From my perspective there had to be certain parameters to any resolution: Hamas should not be rewarded for its attack on Israel.  It should not receive something as enticement to get it to stop firing upon us.  It should be sufficiently vanquished so that it would petition us for a respite.  (“Sufficiently vanquished” does not mean finally defeated.)
 
Most importantly, Israel must (now I use that word) convey strength.  And Hamas must be prevented from re-arming (leave aside the question of whether it would have to  surrender the rockets it currently has).
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Just hours ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted a ceasefire as proposed by Egypt, which went into effect at 7 PM Israel time.  All of its parameters are not yet known, and so I will have to return to this. But I have searched my sources of information and have yet to discover anything about this that conveys Israel’s strength. 
 
Thus – while I am prepared to learn more - I find this very disturbing.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
In a nutshell now: The ceasefire, accepted also by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, is for a month.  At the end of the month, negotiations would begin on the demands of each side: from our side, demilitarization of Hamas; from the Hamas side, lifting of the blockade of Gaza, building of a seaport and airport, release of prisoners, etc.  
 
This ceasefire, then, is another temporary one, albeit for a longer period of time.  It is not permanent, and in point of fact is likely to fall apart once the difficult issues are approached.  What would happen then is that Hamas – which would have had a month to regroup and manufacture more rockets - would begin to launch rockets again.  And where does a month leave us? Right at the time of our High Holidays.
 
Oh great.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
At this time, the restrictions for Gaza fishermen will be relaxed, with the limit being extended to six nautical miles. And apparently two crossings will be opened under Israeli supervision to allow in humanitarian supplies and building supplies for reconstruction.  (What kind of materials?)  It is entirely unclear what sort of supervision there would be inside of Gaza to make certain that the materials were used appropriately or who would oversee the reconstruction.  What would UNRWA’s role be?
 
I am not finding anything definitive in terms of the PA role, which might include oversight of reconstruction.  Certainly there had been much made previously of anticipated PA supervision at crossings, and I do believe that Egypt has already consented to PA supervision at the Rafah crossing into Egypt. 
 
A statement was made recently by a representative of the EU, who said that the EU wanted to be involved.  How? They would supervise the PA to be sure it was doing the job it was supposed to do at the crossings. That’s reassuring, is it not?
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
It should be noted here that Netanyahu approved the ceasefire without allowing a vote in the Security Cabinet, even though Naftali Bennett had requested one. Clearly, the prime minister had unease about whether the Cabinet would approve this move.  This action, while unpalatable, was legal. 
 
Netanyahu had been doing very well in polls of the Israeli electorate until this week, when his approval rating dropped some 17%, to 38%.  I anticipate considerable distress within the government, the Knesset and the electorate in the wake of Netanyahu’s current decision.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
One source I encountered now said that in a month Israel would resume negotiations with the PA. That this was going to be pushed on us is no surprise, but I believe this is still a projection for down the road – not a statement of Israel’s commitment at present.
 
I think of everything I find this prospect most offensive.  Abbas is the good buddy of Hamas’s Mashaal.  Representatives of Fatah sat at the negotiations during ceasefires with Hamas, and spoke for Hamas.  Abbas has never renounced the “unity government.”  Yet we are supposed to consider the PA “moderate,” a partner for peace.  This is the sort of stuff that drives me to consider running my head into the wall.
 
Retired US general John Allen came to town last night to meet with Israeli officials regarding the renewal of peace talks after there is a ceasefire. 

http://www.timesofisrael.com/top-us-general-in-israel-for-post-ceasefire-talks/
 
Who knows what message Allen conveyed from Obama to Netanyahu and how this played into Netanyahu’s decision to accept the ceasefire proposal.
 
Gen. Allen was the one who came here to design a “security plan” for the Jordan Valley that was supposed to advance our negotiations with the PA some months ago; Israel rejected his ideas.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Israeli officials are pointing out how badly damaged Hamas is as a result of the fighting. This is certainly the case, but what happened is that Hamas, with its back to the wall, adamantly refused to stop launching those rockets.  The entire scenario continued far longer than Israeli military had anticipated it would – we were entering a war of attrition, which is something Israel wanted to avoid – especially as residents of the south had left their homes and were demanding quiet.  
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
 
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

 http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/8/26/august-26-2014-worse-and-worser.html

 

Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 05:07PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 23, 2014: The Ikar

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)
 
“The Ikar” (the essence of the matter)
 
Tomorrow night my eldest granddaughter goes off with her class to Poland for a week, to visit death camps and related sites.  In Israel doing this is a rite of passage.  She and her 12th grade classmates have been exceedingly well prepared.  I was with her for Shabbat, and I told her that I will wait, once she returns, for her to let me know she is ready to speak with me about her experience.  She thanked me for this, saying that she suspects in the beginning she will be so filled with powerful emotions that there will not yet be any way for her to speak about them.
 
So, why put these kids through this?
 
Because it IS the ikar, and never has this fact been more clear.  We’re looking at an existential issue for Jews, and not “just” history.  The year 2014 is shaping up more and more like 1938, as anti-Semitism - including in its violent manifestations - becomes more “acceptable.”
 
But there is one stunning and essential difference: Today there is an Israel.  
 
Would that every young Jew in the world would grasp this reality.  But what matters most is that young Israelis comprehend it.  And they do. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Commentator Michael Freund touched me deeply when he wrote recently about his son’s army service, in “The holiness of the IDF uniform.”  In this meditative essay, he described his brief moment of panic, when he realized that his son, who was about to serve in the IDF, might have been going to college in the US instead, had his family not made aliyah when he was one year old.
 
But then, very quickly, he saw an overwhelmingly significant reality about the IDF uniform and what it represents (emphasis added):      

                    
“It is a piece of Jewish history, an item that countless Jews for the past 2,000 years could only dream of: A Jewish uniform that belongs to a Jewish army tasked with defending Jews in their own land.

What could possibly be more holy?”

http://www.michaelfreund.org/15182/idf-uniform

 

 

Credit: Jewishmiracles

~~~~~~~~~~

To defend our people and our land is our moral imperative.  Most especially to defend it against those such as Hamas who incorporate into their ideology destruction of Israel and the Jews.
 
Our right to do this should be a “no brainer.”  And yet we are besieged by those who – as Prime Minister Netanyahu has so often pointed out – grant us that right in principle but rush to block our ability to actually exercise it.  They readily seek to cripple our self-defense, even in the face of our existential threat: monitoring us as no other nation in the world has ever been monitored, critiquing what they have absolutely no right to critique, and talking about “international law” that is largely invented. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Today, in my own meditative mood, I realized how I’ve begun to be tangled in my writing – which attempts to describe this deplorable situation, again and again and again. It is not clean and clear; it is forever convoluted.  How it wearies the soul. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
They are still launching rockets, my friends.  Hamas has not let up.  In the last 24 hours, there have been some 100 rockets – launched at Be’ersheva and Ashkelon and Ashdod.  In the communities closest to the Gaza border, in Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. In the region of Tel Aviv - with sirens sounding in Rishon Lezion, Holon, Yehud, Givatayim, and Bat Yam.
 
Yesterday, little four-year old Daniel Tragerman, of Kibbutz Nahal Oz, was killed by mortar fire emanating from Gaza.  His parents were in process of preparing to leave the kibbutz when he was hit.  He simply didn’t make it to a shelter in time.  The barrage on Nahal Oz was heavy.
 
 
Daniel Tragerman (photo credit: Courtesy) 


This cannot stand.  This must not stand.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Egypt is planning on extending invitations to all parties to return to Cairo for more negotiations.  The Times of Israel reports that Netanyahu and al-Sisi of Egypt speak frequently and at length.  But unless I’m really missing something, the notion of more negotiations with Hamas is simply nonsense. Hamas – which has demonstrated its failure to honor commitments again and again - says they will return on their terms only. 
 
Is there any effective alternative to another ground invasion? 
 
Is there a plan that the government has to bring this situation to an effective end? 
 
Are the members of our government prepared to turn their backs to those who critique us and monitor us, and finally sanction a non-holds barred response – even in terms of attacks by air - that puts an end to this situation?
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
The residents of the south have had it. They’re leaving in large numbers.  What they are being told by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has got to be less then reassuring.  After Shabbat tonight, I picked up various sources who cited his comments today – and I turned away deeply unsettled:
 
“The goal of the [Israeli] decision makers is to bring Hamas to the negotiation table in Cairo under terms that Israel decides, and to achieve a ceasefire deal as demanded by Jerusalem,”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/day-48-mortar-victim-daniel-tragerman-4-to-be-buried-sunday-fire-from-lebanon-rocket-hits-beersheba-car/
 
That’s it?  I’m assuming for the moment that there is likely more, as yet unspoken.
 
Hamas will not agree to Israel’s terms until it has been defeated.  The goal, then, it seems to me, is not bringing Hamas to the table, but defeating it.
 
Communications Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud), who is a member of the Security Cabinet, said today that a serious ground invasion is being considered:
 
“Has the final decision been made? No, but we are closer to it than we have ever been before.
 
“Hamas continues a war of attrition and we are pounding them by air, but this is not a situation that can persist for weeks.  The purpose of a ground offensive could be retaking Gaza fully and the collapse of Hamas rule, or specific attacks on the organization itself."
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184334#.U_kckJvlrIU
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
There have been a handful of rockets launched from Lebanon into the Galil tonight.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I’ve been advised by someone considerably in the know with regard to the PA, that Abbas’s motivation at present is “staying relevant.”  He must appear to be a player of significance so that he is factored into future situations and does not simply get lost.  Perhaps.  Abbas is playing it to the hilt – great buddies with Mashaal of Hamas as they plan mutually for attempting to bring Israel to the International Criminal Court.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/8/24/august-23-2014-the-ikar.html

 

Posted on Sunday, August 24, 2014 at 04:11AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 21, 2014: Off-Again On-Again War

If we listen to what Netanyahu said yesterday, he never really thought our battle with Hamas was going to be peacefully resolved – he refers to it as “on-going.”  That would mean that even when there were negotiations proceeding during a ceasefire, he knew.

Could well be. 

There were so many rumors about what sort of deal was being cooked up, so many suggestions that the Israeli delegation was caving on this, or that. 

And some of this could be as well – although I suspect much was speculation or disinformation.

What is obvious in the end is that whatever Israeli concessions might have been made, they were not nearly sufficient to satisfy Hamas.  Not even sufficient to keep Hamas talking.

~~~~~~~~~~

On Monday, there was a mutual Israeli - Hamas agreement to extend the temporary ceasefire that was in place by another 24 hours past the deadline of midnight Monday - so that talks might continue. This was at the behest of Egypt, and what was implied, if not overtly stated, was that “progress” (however this would be defined) was being made.

Yet on Tuesday, Azzam al-Ahmad, a Fatah official and head of the Palestinian delegation, declared that there had been no progress.

He accused Israel of trying to impose its will on the Palestinians Arabs: “It’s impossible for the Palestinians to accept this. Israel is continuing with its policy of procrastination.”

http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Palestinian-delegation-calls-negotiations-difficult-says-no-progress-made-371539

According to Husam Badran, of Hamas, Israel was sabotaging the talks, putting up obstacles on every issue. "If we don't reach an agreement that serves the interests of the Palestinians, all options are open."

If Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "doesn't understand the message from the people of Gaza in diplomatic language in Cairo, we know the way that will force him to understand."
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Hamas-Israel-is-escalating-the-situation-to-influence-Cairo-truce-talks-371522

A PA source reported: “The problems in the talks are significant. We cannot at this time reach an agreement. The talks reached a dead end.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/301930#.U_Y3t5vlrIV

~~~~~~~~~~

Well, OK then.  We see that Netanyahu had not provided concessions sufficient to keep Hamas remotely content.  Clearly, whatever he did offer was not going to bring a deal. 

Did he know this going in? Were the concessions (wherever they were – such as opening of crossings) made with confidence that they ultimately wouldn’t be enough?  Were they offered because it would allow Israel to say to the international community that the failure of talks was not our fault because we were flexible?  This would be Netanyahu’s M.O., but truly I do not know; I suspect a case could be made either way.

~~~~~~~~~~

In the end, far better that there was no deal. Nothing should be given to terrorists in order to get them to stop attacking.  This would signal weakness. 

Netanyahu had gone into negotiations with ideas about the demilitarization of Hamas.  Had that been achieved, it would have been a different situation.  But there is no way that Hamas was going to sign onto anything requiring them to surrender their weapons – not even in return for an airport and a seaport.  Compromise is not in the vocabulary of jidhadis.

What is more, Hamas leaders never feel themselves bound to their own commitments.  In the past several weeks, they broke ceasefires 11 times.  And so, indeed better that we should have made no compromise. 

At this point, whatever Netanyahu was or was not prepared to concede in negotiations is almost certainly moot.
 
~~~~~~~~~~

At roughly 6 PM on Tuesday, three rockets were launched towards Be’ersheva.  Hamas claimed it had nothing to do with this. 

The Israeli delegation was promptly called back from Cairo, because we do not negotiate under fire.  For a few hours there was some vague talk about bringing everyone back for more talk, but that possibility was promptly abandoned.  (Although I now read that Kerry – who had been scheduled to come to Cairo before talks broke down – is trying to resuscitate those negotiations.)

Since then, with a few lulls, we’ve been hit with an on-going barrage of rockets from Gaza.  In fact, yesterday more rockets – roughly 100 – were launched than in any other single day since the beginning of these hostilities.  From Tuesday night until the present, over 300 rockets have been launched. No one in Israel has been killed, but there have been some injuries.

There have been a handful of rockets aimed at the Tel Aviv area, and at Jerusalem. And Hamas threatened the airport, but all has been quiet there.

~~~~~~~~~~

Once Hamas broke the ceasefire on Tuesday night, a strong response by the Air Force ensued. We’ve been hitting Gaza hard, with the full sanction of Israeli leadership from across the political spectrum:

Even Nachum Shai of Labor said, ‘No more talking, shoot!”

http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Ministers-and-MKs-urge-Netanyahu-to-pound-Hamas-371567

And a solid majority of the nation is eager to see tough action.  The off/on situation had become ridiculous and terribly draining.

~~~~~~~~~~.

In addition to a solid pounding, there has been one significant difference in how we are responding: We’ve now seriously begun to go after leadership.  Yesterday, there was an attack on the house in Gaza City where Mohammed Deif – head of the military wing of Hamas and allegedly the “brains” behind the operation – was staying with his family. Deif’s wife, daughter and baby son were killed.

There have been conflicting reports as to whether Deif also died.  Hamas – which would in any case be reluctant to say he had been eliminated - says he is alive; Israeli intelligence indicates otherwise.  Interestingly, a Palestinian Arab website (Saham) reported that he was dead.  I have read that, whether he is dead or not, he is definitely out of commission at the moment and not issuing commands. This is to the good.

Then this morning in a pre-dawn strike at a home in Rafah, the IDF with Shin Bet assistance took out two key Hamas commanders: Muhammad Abu Shamalah and Ra'ad Atar, who had both been involved in the Shalit kidnapping. Another major commander, Mohammed Barhoum, was also killed. All three had been involved in operations against Israel for 20 years.

In the short term there is confusion, and a lack of direction.  But beyond this, once leadership is targeted, everyone gets nervous and this enhances our deterrence power: if leaders are busy looking over their shoulders to see if we’re coming, they have scant time to plan operations.

~~~~~~~~~~

Both Netanyahu and Ya’alon have made statements in the last couple of days indicating that Hamas leaders are fair targets. (Hamas leaders are “not invincible,” said Netanyahu.) This represents an escalation of our policy, and I see it as something that had been planned if negotiations hit a dead end.

What must be asked is why we waited so long on this.  Clearly, we were holding back before. This was obvious when we hit Haniyeh’s empty house some several days ago.

~~~~~~~~~~

The question now is where we go from here.  (Yes, it’s a question I’ve asked before.)  

Netanyahu continues to say the goals of the operation are “restoring quiet for a prolonged period along with a significant blow to the terrorist infrastructure.”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Yaalon-IDF-will-continue-to-strike-Hamas-leaders-at-any-time-and-place-371789

But in a talk to the nation last night, he also said:

We have not given up on our goal to overthrow Hamas and its leadership.” (Emphasis added)

http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Netanyahu-says-Operation-Protective-Edge-is-not-over-371694

That’s a lot tougher.

As soon as the rockets started again, we called up some reservists – a relatively small number that I understood were involved with intelligence.  Now there has been approval for 10,000 more to be called up.  THE big question is whether there will be a ground operation again.  And how serious an operation it would be. 

What seems to me to be of significance is that Times of Israel is reporting that Hamas has now depleted 75% of its rocket supply, including the major portion of its mid-range rockets. This means it is not likely that the airport will be targeted or that much will be launched at Tel Aviv or beyond.  Now it is the South, and specifically the area close to Gaza, taking the brunt of the attack.

~~~~~~~~~~

A couple of points here worthy of mention before closing:

According to a key member of Fatah, the negotiations broke down because Qatar pushed Mashaal into a tougher stance – saying they would expel him from the country if he agreed to the long-term ceasefire agreement.  Allegedly, Qatar was angry at having been rebuffed as a negotiator. 

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184225#.U_ZCLZvlrIU

This rings true in certain respects.  And indeed I’ve read many times about the tougher stance of Mashaal, sitting comfortably in Qatar, relative to the position of the Hamas leaders in Gaza.  But I note the quotes above, which indicate genuine Hamas dissatisfaction with Israel’s position, and the PA official’s quote about the negotiations having reached a dead end.

I suspect they might well have fallen apart even without a push from Qatar.

~~~~~~~~~~

What I wonder about is the role of Fatah (the PA) in all of this.  Not only was the PA involved with Hamas in the negotiations, it led the delegation and often spoke for it.  There may have been reasons why Fatah, eager to convey the impression that the delegation it headed in Cairo was more flexible, preferred to point a finger at Qatar. Speculation.

Once the news broke about the Hamas plot to overthrow Fatah in Judea and Samaria, there were, according to Egyptian reports, tensions that surfaced between Fatah and Hamas members of the delegation in Cairo.  And Abbas – even while downplaying the reports - said that an investigation of these allegations would be necessary. Yet Abbas has now gone to Qatar to see Mashaal, for what was reported to be a very positive meeting.

Go figure.  There is a great deal that is murky and requires further investigation.  One report I encountered said that Mashaal gave the order for those rockets to be launched at Be’ersheva Tuesday night himself, circumventing the military wing of Hamas.  In the end it doesn’t matter because if ALL of Hamas is not on board seriously there is no deal.

~~~~~~~~~~

There are, as might be expected, a couple of international initiatives being developed for a resolution at the UN Security Council to stop the fighting.

What I’m seeing at present is that the Obama government, which took a great deal of criticism for withholding weapons from Israel, is now attempting to show what a good friend it is.  For however many days this lasts...

~~~~~~~~~~

More, hopefully, after Shabbat.

~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

 

Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 04:05PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 18, 2014: Deja Vu

How many times?  How many times do we count down as the final hours of a 72 hour – or 120 hour – ceasefire come to an end, aware that resolution of the issues between Israel and Hamas is exceedingly unlikely and wondering what will happen next??

The guessing is that it will either be active war or a tacit “quiet for quiet” situation.  But I’m not going to discuss various pros and cons, various implications, now: That discussion will wait for my next posting.

~~~~~~~~~~

Here, briefly, I want to share a couple of selected pieces of news that are significant now – even before we know what follows this ceasefire. They will remain significant no matter how things play out because they are indicative of the underlying situation, and of certain attitudes and intentions.

Most telling here is the news that in recent weeks the Shin Bet has arrested 93 Hamas activists who had set up terrors cells across Judea and Samaria, and in eastern Jerusalem: in 46 Palestinian towns and villages, as well as in Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, and Hebron.

Focusing on the Temple Mount, they intended to start a third intifada.  Under cover of that intifada, Hamas intended to take down the Palestinian Authority and take over in Ramallah just as it took down the PA and seized rule in Gaza seven years ago.

The head of this complex operation was Saleh al-Arouri (pictured below); the Shin Bet says he operated from Turkey and remains there now. Al-Arouri is referred to as “the Mohammed Deif of the West Bank.”  In recent months there has been an influx of Hamas operatives known to be loyal to al-Arouri.  Sophisticated Palestinian Arabs - were recruited from abroad.  Notable among these was one with a doctorate in computer science who was trained in encryption and cyber-attacks.  Head of the military infrastructure in Judea and Samaria was Riyad Nasser, who has been in prison for some months now.

Funds for the operation were brought by Jordanian couriers from Jordan and Turkey, in order to purchase safe houses and vehicles.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4560000,00.html

Saleh al-'Arouri - Arabs48

Credit: Arabs48

~~~~~~~~~~

Folks, this Hamas plan is no surprise (even if the scope of it was greater than most of us had assumed).  But it is mind-boggling because of its various implications:

[] Let me begin with the kidnapping-murder of the three students – martyrs, truly:  In the course of searching for the boys, the IDF and associated security agencies pulled off a major operation in the Hevron area.  This was well after the Shin Bet had uncovered the plot (which was in May) and so clearly the search provided the opportunity to do considerable destruction of Hamas infrastructure in the area, to do arrests of Hamas operatives, and to confiscate Hamas funds.

[] I – along with many others – have been writing about the foolishness of thinking that Mahmoud Abbas’s PA might be installed in Gaza to monitor reconstruction, or the crossings, or whatever.  The PA is not strong enough, I’ve been saying.  In fact, I have been writing, Hamas even wants to overthrow Abbas in Judea and Samaria and is prevented from doing so only by the presence of Israel. 

Well, hello??? Here we are. 

Any one who proposes that Abbas move into Gaza after the exposure of this plot has got to be willfully blind (as most leftists are) or have distinctly devious motives.  The fact of this plot should be waved in the face of those who dare (and they will dare) to continue to suggest this.

What is more, anyone who suggests that we provide Abbas and the PA with an autonomous/sovereign state in parts of Judea and Samaria should be likewise challenged.  As things stand now (and barring a full take-out of Hamas – no simple task): to give the PA a state is to guarantee a Hamas state at our east.
 
[]  I must speculate, as well, as to what Abbas is using in place of brains.  I would assume that he imagines he will be the winner if the international community gives him a role in Gaza.  He probably thinks it’s pay-back time for what Hamas did to him. 

But the article I cite, above, says that PA security was updated on the investigation regarding Hamas plans.  Abbas knew that Hamas was planning to overthrow him, and that it was only the Shin Bet that protected him
 
This leads to the question, as well – a significant question – as to why Abbas did not disavow the “unity government” with Hamas in light of this information.  Or why he sits as one of the factions negotiating on the side of Hamas against Israel.  Is he motivated simply by fear?  This man who some imagine would monitor Hamas.

This is all too convoluted and surreal.

[] The article makes a significant point about the international nature of Hamas.  Mashaal is in Qatar. The Turkish government knew what was taking place on its territory – with al-Arouri planning the operation from there and recruiting operatives loyal to him from diverse places, including Malaysia (which is where the guy trained in cyber-attacks came from).  This makes Hamas more dangerous than would be the case if it were – as it once was – primarily a “local” terror group.

I cannot speak for my prime minister or the Security Cabinet.  But I would suspect that this awareness of the nature of Hamas may have played into decisions regarding how to deal with it.  “Taking out Hamas” would be more complicated and vastly more difficult than those who charge that Netanyahu is remiss for not doing so likely imagine.  This is not to say that Hamas in Gaza should not be taken down – a good case can still be made for this.  But it’s important to consider broader ramifications and not draw conclusions too quickly.

[] It is a good bet that this information about the Hamas plot was made public now for a purpose.

[] Lastly, the Temple Mount – Har Habayit - where Hamas wanted to focus its intifada scheme.  We’ve known for some time that there has been Hamas incitement on the Mount. But, again, most of us did not understand the full ramifications.

While I do write about the Temple Mount from time to time, I feel that perhaps I have been remiss in not focusing on it more.  Any one who thinks this most sacred space for Jews – our right to which is being challenged – is not at the heart of matters does not see the full picture.

~~~~~~~~~~

Only one other piece of news here.  I think this is sufficient for now:

The US has offered to guarantee Israel’s commitment to any signed agreement. As Aaron Lerner of IMRA put it: “US offers to guarantee that Israel doesn’t interfere with Hamas missile construction?”

Please read Steve Emerson, Executive Director of The Investigative Project, on this:

http://www.investigativeproject.org/4522/op-ed-the-president-true-colors-finally-revealed

Every time you think Obama has stooped as low as he might, in seeking to block Israeli actions against Hamas and protect Hamas, something else emerges.  None of this should be forgotten.

~~~~~~~~~~

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/8/18/august-18-2014-deja-vu.html

 

Posted on Monday, August 18, 2014 at 03:04PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint