Current Postings

August 5, 2014: And Now?

I am chagrinned but not exactly shocked by the latest turn of events here. 

As Shabbat went out, I had expressed surprise that – following the Friday ceasefire broken almost immediately by Hamas with an attack that included a suicide bombing and the kidnapping of Hadar Goldin – Netanyahu had not ordered a significant escalation of the operation in Gaza. When it was clear that what was happening was that IDF troops were being pulled back, a sense of great unease set in.  It seemed the operation was about to be terminated in a move that many – myself very much included - saw as premature.

But no, we were told that it was just a redeployment, because the tunnel phase of the operation was complete.  We were told that the decision of the Security Cabinet was to continue the operation.  What is more, there would be no participation in internationally promoted ceasefires, and we would not be going to Cairo to negotiate: If Hamas cannot be trusted to honor its commitment for a 72 hour ceasefire, there is no point in pursuing negotiations, went the explanation.


What happened following this announcement was that the Palestinian Arab factions – Hamas, the PA, etc. – met in Cairo without Israel and put forth their jointly arrived at and ludicrous demands.  They hadn’t simply said – as one might expect - that if Israel would not be participating there would be no point in proceeding. They proceeded.  And this was cause for great unease regarding the likelihood of Israel’s joining the talks. Never mind the protests from the Israeli government that we were continuing to do battle in Gaza. 

The pressure for Israel to come participate was huge as a result of how the situation was set up.  Israel had wanted Egypt to mediate, with both Turkey and Qatar frozen out of the picture.  And that was actually happening.  Was Netanyahu going to leave Egypt’s al-Sisi with egg on his face – thus taking the chance that our newly positive relationship with Egypt would be soured?  Egypt, along with the US, was calling on Israel to come to Cairo.


All of this transpired within the course of three days.  Late yesterday it was announced that Israel and Hamas had jointly agreed to an Egyptian sponsored three-day ceasefire. 


And then it was announced that if the ceasefire held Israel would be pulling out of Gaza completely and joining talks in Cairo.

So far the ceasefire is holding...  When and if our troops are pulled out, they will be deployed on the Israeli side of the border, prepared to go back in immediately if necessary.

What Netanyahu said was that we had accomplished our primary goal of destroying all tunnels that had been discovered that led into the south of Israel; various technologies were being examined for use on the Israeli side of the border to prevent new tunnels from being dug.

Additionally, Hamas had taken a significant hit with regard to depletion of its rocket supplies and infrastructure.  And 1,000 Hamas terrorists had been killed.


The question lingers in the air, however, as to whether that significant hit on Hamas was strong enough.  The major leaders remain alive, and will come out of their tunnels prepared to rebuild for the next attack.  Some one-third of their weaponry remains (which means, it is estimated, over 3,000 rockets).

There was a disinclination on the part of the government to take over Gaza again and take down Hamas entirely.  I will not revisit here again in detail the relevant questions touching upon whether truly taking out Hamas would have been a good thing. Key among these is the question of whether it would have paved the way for a take-over by al-Qaeda.  But there is also the issue of the burden that would be imposed on Israel were we to take over Gaza, and the specter of horrendous fighting in Gaza City.

What remains with me, however, is a conviction that Hamas – if not entirely eliminated – should have been sufficiently taken down so that it acceded on our terms.  I am vastly uncomfortable with the whole concept of having to give Hamas – a terror organization that has been attacking us – something in return for securing its quiet. And that’s what is implied in negotiations.  Not only is it wrong, it gives them a “win.”


Netanyahu’s goal right now, as I have been writing, is to tie the rebuilding of Gaza to the demilitarization of Hamas.  Hamas, clearly, is not about to invite us, or international forces, in to seize its rockets (most of which are hidden in very deep tunnels or in civilian facilities).  What Hamas leaders are suggesting obliquely is that if the blockade of its coastline were lifted and all crossings to Gaza were opened, it might consider this.  But what we would have then is a situation in which rockets would be removed only to be replaced by more sophisticated ones, supplied by Iran and N. Korea, and brought through its open borders. In addition to this is the need to contend with the ability of Hamas to manufacture its own rockets.

Clearly, this is a vastly complex issue that will require close examination in coming posts.  Hamas’s goal remains the same: To destroy Israel.


What we do know is that Egypt would be delighted to see Hamas demilitarized, as would several Sunni Arab countries, starting with Saudi Arabia, and the EU.  What support Israel will receive in this matter remains to be seen.

On a positive note, I observe a couple of things:  It is my understanding that once the Palestinian Arab contingent came to Cairo, Netanyahu and al-Sisi were in touch daily.  It occurs to me that our government may have already received certain reassurances from Egypt that encouraged Netanyahu to go ahead in agreeing to negotiations.

Then I have noticed that those elements within the government, and more specifically within the Security Cabinet, who have been pushing for a hard stand against Hamas have been very quiet with this latest announcement.  I have in mind, for example, Lieberman.  I did pick up one statement by Bennett, but it was fairly subdued and had to do with hoping Hamas did not renege on the ceasefire again.  This prompts me to speculate about what they know, that may be reassuring.


We have lost 64 of our treasured boys in the war with Hamas, and the tone of the nation is subdued.  What has been observed over and over again is the valiant and, indeed, noble, way in which mourning families have conducted themselves. I salute every soldier – we have the very finest and most selfless - and every family.


I have been told that 27 young women who were engaged to soldiers are now bereft.


One thing we are going to be confronting, even with the ceasefire, is on-going unrest and violence on the part of segments of the Israeli Arab population.  We have a fifth column inside our country, and Hamas will be pushing them on.  In the last 24 hours or so, we’ve seen three terror attacks in Jerusalem:

Yesterday afternoon, a terrorist driving a tractor (heavy excavation equipment) in the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood drove into a bus – which was, thankfully, empty. The bus turned over and the driver was injured; a passerby was killed. The terrorist was shot and killed.

About three hours later, a soldier on Mt. Scopus was shot in the stomach multiple time, and critically injured.  I have not heard that they caught the terrorist.

Today, just hours ago, a security guard at the entrance to Ma’ale Adumim – just outside of Jerusalem to the east - was stabbed and moderately hurt.  I believe the terrorist, who drove away, has been apprehended.


The other day I put up a link to a YouTube that showed an interview with an Arab mother whose baby was being treated in an Israeli hospital. She speaks very openly about embracing death and the honor of being a shahid (martyr) for Jerusalem. She would gladly see her young son go this route.

I had asked that you help it go viral, but, as many wrote to point out, it was taken down.  I now have another longer (7 minute) and even more effective version of the video – more effective because it also shows the kindness to her of Israeli medical staff.  (With thanks to Fred E.)

If you haven’t seen it yet, please do so.  And please! I ask everyone who reads this to send it out to at least three people.  People need to understand what we are dealing with.


I am getting a great deal of wonderful email messages from readers telling me about pro-Israel demonstrations in various places.  Love it, but cannot mention them all or run all the videos showing them.

But I will close here – as Tisha B’Av comes to a close as well – with this lovely video about a spontaneous pro-Israel rally in the Diamond District of NYC:


© 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 Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 02:08PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 4, 2014: Let Us Draw Strength

Tonight begins Tisha B’Av, the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar.  It marks the day of the destruction of our two Temples and a number of other national calamities.

On this day we fast and mourn, read the Book of Lamentations. 
We also look to the religious meaning in our lives, our purpose, and examine ourselves in terms of our proper conduct.
I had not planned to post at all today. And even though, in the end, I decided to send out this short posting, I will still avoid news and political analysis. There will always be time to return to this.
Instead, I am writing to share a beautiful message from Warren Goldstein, Chief Rabbi of South Africa (with thanks to Diana S. and Rebecca M.).

It is a message we need to hear at this difficult time.
We are taught that Tisha B’Av derives from the Sin of the Spies (Meraglim): Moses sent spies to check out the land of Ca’anan, before the people of Israel were to enter.  They returned, and 10 of the 12 who had been sent told the people, we cannot do this, we will not succeed.  But the key phrase is that, “We were like grasshoppers in our eyes.”  We felt ourselves small and so others saw us as small.
This is the ultimate lesson for these difficult times – that we not see ourselves as small in our own eyes, and that we believe in what it is possible for us to do, and what we are meant to be doing, with the help of the Almighty.
Tradition also tells us that the Moshiach will be born on Tisha B’Av. Thus the symbol of ultimate hope and redemption.

Credit: Keep Jerusalem
© 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 Monday, August 4, 2014 at 05:31PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 3, 2014: Taking a Broader View

I begin with some very essential observations that go to the heart of Israel’s situation, observations that are broadly recognized among Jews here in Israel, but are not grasped by many - Jews and non-Jews alike - in the Western world:

1) The scourge of the Western world today is radical Islam, which is gaining traction in many quarters.  Israel is the only country that sees this with clear eyes and is prepared to do battle.  In taking on Hamas, we are on the front line for the world – a world that neither recognizes nor appreciates this.

2) Along with growing radical Islam there has been an incredible proliferation of anti-Semitism.  We are seeing violent actions that echo pre-Holocaust behaviors in Europe in the 1930s: A crazed mob locking Jews inside a synagogue in Paris.  This, in July 2014.  The single radical difference between the current situation and that of the Jews at the time of the Holocaust is the existence of the State of Israel. 

How heavy, then, is the burden on the shoulders of little Israel.  We truly are at the center of the world, and, with the help of Heaven, we will be equal to it. But how much harder it is because we are so roundly excoriated in many venues, criticized unjustly even by some of those who profess to be our friends.  We are far from perfect, but our every action is placed under a microscope that is reserved just for us.


Let me rush to mention here, lest anyone think otherwise, that I do recognize and appreciate that we have friends – and that heart-warming pro-Israel rallies have been held or are being planned in a host of cities, in NY, Toronto,  London, Sydney, San Francisco, Miami and elsewhere. 

Credit: Tibor Deme

Yet I feel moved to point out that these wonderful rallies are a reaction to the anti-Israel sentiment that floats in the air. Celebrating Israel is hardly the norm in Western societies.


I share here a video that pinpoints the moral difference between the Muslim Arabs in Hamas and Israelis.  Jewish doctors treating Palestinian Arab children, including from Gaza:


Truly do I wish I knew how to coherently describe what is going on now with regard to Hamas.  But the situation is terribly unclear and fluid.  There is no closure, no finality.  IDF troops have definitely pulled back from portions of Gaza, and lend the impression that the operation is close to an end.

Some troops have been pulled out and are being given a break, with the understanding that they might go back in.  

Yet, today, the JPost cites a senior IDF figure thus (emphasis added):

There is no decision to stop the operation. We are preparing to attack, not only to defend.  If a decision is made that this is necessary, we will attack."

It could not really be otherwise, as the south of Israel is still being hit rather fiercely by Hamas rockets.


While YNet cites a senior military source (the same one?) who explains (emphasis added):

“What we are doing in the field right now is based on the lack of an agreement; it is possible an understanding will not be reached.  There are other options on the table."

Israel is deploying forces in a temporary “security strip” along the border inside of Gaza, and is prepared to allow in large quantities of humanitarian goods, medications, etc.,7340,L-4553896,00.html


At the same time, Palestinian Arab delegations – Hamas and the PA, with other smaller groups such as Islamic Jihad - have shown up in Cairo to begin the “negotiations” that Israel will not be attending.

Other “international” figures such as Tony Blair are also present.

The agenda called for those Arab delegations to first meet amongst themselves regarding a joint position, which they would then take to the Egyptians.  And word tonight is that the delegations have already agreed:

“Cease-fire, the pullout of Israeli forces, ending the blockade, releasing the prisoners ... and starting the reconstruction process..” And an end to Israeli “incursions, invasions, assassinations, house shelling and flights over the Gaza Strip.” They are also demanding free passage between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, freedom of fishing within 12 miles of the coast, reopening the Palestinian airport in the southern Gaza Strip, construction of a seaport and cancellation of buffer zones along the border with Israel.

Cute?  A pretty comprehensive list. 

What happens next is anyone’s guess.  Israel is in constant touch with the Egyptians.  At some point Egypt is going to come forward with a “plan,” which will not incorporate all of the above demands but may well honor some of them. 

Both the Egyptians and the US are pressuring Netanyahu to join the talks. The very excessive nature of the Arab demands surely will stiffen his back. It is terribly important that the terrorists in Gaza not be rewarded for agreeing to stop launching rockets at us, and that he hold to his position that Hamas cannot be trusted to honor commitments.


It may be that something is transpiring behind the scenes that we are unaware of.  Our prime minister, who is under breathtaking pressure in this situation, may know what he is doing.  Who knows what “other options” he is weighing.

But I write today with an enormous sense of unease.  We cannot permit this to end badly for Israel.  And I am hardly the only one who would like to see a definitive victory. 

That Hamas is still launching rockets at us means they are not yet on their knees. Their leaders are still hiding out – whether in Qatar or in tunnels under Gaza City.  As long as the heads of some of them have not been separated from their shoulders, they will emerge from their tunnels with intent of rebuilding.

The risks of a reinvigorated Hamas, which manages to secure even better weapons for next time – perhaps because demilitarization has not been genuinely enforced, not genuinely embraced by the international community – do not bear thinking about.   

My friends, this is an existential issue for us.  We cannot allow ourselves to be defeated by the likes of that Palestinian Arab mother who loves death.

We here in Israel are all moving about with heavy hearts. None of this is simple for us.


Second Lt. Hadar Goldin was buried today.  It was announced earlier in the day that he had been declared dead, and his status was no long that of MIA – i.e., kidnapped.  I wish to touch upon this only very lightly, for it is difficult and unpleasant.  Let me simply report that it was not a question of “finding” the body.  The determination of death was made via a pathologist’s report in conjunction with a rabbinical ruling on halachha.  I am convinced that Hamas had him.

© 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 Sunday, August 3, 2014 at 05:23PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 2, 2014: Events Unfolding

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)

I left my posting abruptly yesterday because of the advent of Shabbat and want here to follow through.  But it’s tentatively only, because indeed events are in the process of unfolding and we have to see what tomorrow and the ensuing days will bring.

Quite frankly, I had expected to return to the news to learn that Israel was expanding the operation in the face of Hamas’s kidnapping of Second Lt. Hadar Goldin and the killing of two other soldiers, after a “mutual” ceasefire – that was supposed to include discussions in Cairo on terms for extending it - had begun. 

Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, who was reportedly captured by Hamas militants on Friday.

Credit: AP

The sense of outrage was very real, the anger.  It seemed finally the time to stop pulling punches and take down Hamas.  I was particularly eager to see us go after Hamas leaders.


What I found, then, when Shabbat ended, startled me:  I learned that our troops were being pulled back from the Beit Lahiya and al-Atatara areas of northern Gaza and the civilians told that they could return to those areas. 

The IDF was saying that all the tunnels that led into Israel that had been discovered would be destroyed in another day or two. 

This statement remains a bit amorphous: What if some haven’t been discovered yet – but still might be if the operation continued longer?  What if some of the other tunnels that do not yet lead into Israel (and there are many in various parts of Gaza) could yet be extended into Israel?  

Certainly we have done overwhelmingly destructive damage to that system of tunnels – they are saying we have demolished what it took Hamas five years to build.  We have rendered it impossible for them to do the sort of massive and horrific attack they had planned – with hundreds of terrorists leaping out from tunnel exits in multiple communities in the south of Israel all at the same time. 

All sorts of technologies are being examined to detect further digging across the border; troops are being stationed on the Gaza side near the border; and security forces in the communities in the south are being boosted.  So, the danger that had been incredibly great and very imminent, has been reduced to one that is small, if not totally eliminated.
All along Netanyahu had said there was no guarantee that we could get 100% of the tunnels.

Perhaps that’s an honest assessment of the situation – that is, short of totally taking out Hamas - even if it is one many of us are not fully comfortable with.  What will matter in the end is what the residents of the south are prepared to accept.  (Many of them have gone elsewhere and are waiting to go home.)


The first impression given by this joint announcement – that troops were pulling back from some areas and that we were almost done taking out tunnels – was that we’d be pulling out of Gaza momentarily. A startling, bewildering and distressing impression – and one that in the end seemed to be not true. 

Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to the nation this evening and indicated that the redeployment of forces, because the tunnel phase of the operation was coming to an end, did not mean that the campaign against Hamas in Gaza was ending. We would take as much time as we needed, he said, leaving all options open, and applying force as it was required.
Meeting late into the night last night, the Security Cabinet decided to maintain “the current nature” of the operation, and “take stock” as necessary.  It is, in other words, a situation in flux.


There are, however, some exceedingly important points that have been made:  We are now saying that we will not have any further “humanitarian ceasefires” promoted by the international community. We will decide when it is appropriate to halt firing.  Long overdue and sounding good.

What is more, we will not be sending a delegation to Cairo to negotiate a long-term quiet.  If Hamas cannot be trusted to honor its commitment for a 72 hour ceasefire, there is no point in pursuing negotiations.

I see this as very significant. For Hamas’s whole goal – its definition of “victory” – had to do with securing certain benefits it was after: release of prisoners, and, more importantly, opening up of its borders.  We were supposed to ultimately grant these benefits, in some measure, in exchange for having them stop firing on us. That would have been a great win for them.

I will note here the obvious: the purpose of kidnapping a soldier, or trying to, was to secure a bargaining chip in negotiations. But if there are no negotiations?


We are now saying that we’ll simply decide when to call it quits.  We cannot leave Gaza if there is no quiet however. And if Hamas continues to fire rockets at Israel, the operation – I certainly hope! - will continue.

Will we get all their rockets? Without a very massive ground operation that sought them out in all the places where they are hidden – tunnels, mosques, schools, etc. – that is not possible.  (Think about what a dirty situation this is!) But I am reading that at this point a considerable portion of their arsenal has been eliminated.


And this is what I suspect will be the end of the matter:  I believe for Netanyahu, the option of demilitarizing Hamas is still very much alive.  I believe that he sees this as the most effective and realistic way to resolve the matter.  And as I wrote the other day – as I discovered for myself the other day - there is support for this in several quarters internationally, and some good reason to think this might happen.  Even tonight he referred to his appreciation for nations he has new relations with, and that is a lightly veiled reference to Arab nations, who would be expected to support what he hopes to do.

What is more, as much as I truly want to see the heads of Hamas leaders roll, I understand what we’re dealing with here, which makes the take-down of Hamas perhaps not the most viable option.  A nightmare situation, with our boys having to go into an enormously congested Gaza City, where there are still tunnels underground, and running the risk of being murdered by terrorists leaping out at them, or attempting to kidnap them. I think Netanyahu is hoping for a different way.


From the Times of Israel we have this most interesting report:

”In a phone call with US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro about the breakdown of the short-lived UN- and US-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vented his anger, according to people familiar with the call.

“Netanyahu told Shapiro the Obama administration was ‘not to ever second-guess me again’ and that Washington should trust his judgment on how to deal with Hamas, according to people familiar with the conversation. Netanyahu added that he now ‘expected’ the US and other countries to fully support Israel’s offensive in Gaza...”

In his address to the nation, after this report had surfaced, Netanyahu denied its veracity and talked about how he appreciates the support of the US, etc. etc.

But that Times of Israel piece rings true to me.  It was the US and the UN jointly that had pushed for the ceasefire and subsequent negotiations.  And after the kidnapping, it was the US that apparently called upon Turkey and Qatar to get Hamas to release Goldin immediately, so negotiations could take place.  Turkey made some noise in that direction. As if – after a kidnapping during a ceasefire – we would proceed as if everything was fine if we got our soldier back.

I think that Obama and company have been made to feel very foolish with regard to this “negotiations” effort that backfired completely. And I suspect something in the dynamic here may have shifted in favor of what Netanyahu is seeking.

Time will tell.


As to Hadar Goldin, the IDF is saying they will everything possible to bring him back. But in truth there is reason to believe he is not alive – that what Hamas grabbed was his body, or that he was wounded and died after they took him.  For there has been no announcement from Hamas regarding this – which would be promoted as a great “victory.”

Goldin’s very lovely family appeared on TV tonight, and they implored the IDF not to leave without rescuing him.  Terribly painful stuff.  I learned tonight that he had recently gotten engaged.


Here I leave it, for now.  Again, I share a fantastic political cartoon:
 Dry Bones cartoon, kirschen, Israel, Gaza, Hamas, palestine, Dry Bones, Obama, terrorism, borders, tunnels, ~~~~~~~~~~

© 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 Saturday, August 2, 2014 at 07:57PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 1, 2014: With a Heavy Heart

Our whole nation is weary – strong, determined, clear about who we are, but weary.  How could it be otherwise?  We are contending with both an evil enemy and an insane world.
Shabbat is coming within hours – for which I thank Heaven.  I had thought perhaps a brief post today, one that simply provided background. No way...
What I wrote the other day – about how I would really need to post every two hours to keep my readers informed – continues to be the case.  I will send this out as late as possible before Shabbat and post again after, as necessary.
A brief chronological re-cap of today’s events:
The US and the UN jointly announced a 72 hour “unconditional” ceasefire, consented to by both sides, that would begin at 8 AM here. During those three days, it was said, there were to be negotiations on extending the quiet more permanently.
What? Another ceasefire?  Another attempt by our prime minister to show that we were on the right side and had humanitarian concerns?  I was deeply unsettled by the involvement of both the US and the UN, but the fact that Egypt would mediate talks was a good sign.
My first thought as the ceasefire began was with regard to work on taking out the tunnels.  Just yesterday, Netanyahu had said work on the tunnels would not stop even if there were to be a ceasefire (and I have to assume he knew it might be coming when he said that).
Via official channels it was hard to come by this information. Aaron Lerner pointedly asked a question about whether “continuing to work on the tunnels,” meant just filling them with sand, or using explosives to properly blow them up. 
Unofficially, from a source with connections inside the government, I was told that we would be continuing to blow them up and hoped that information was correct.
Following this, it then seemed important to monitor what would be happening with regard to the teams going to Cairo for the negotiations – and the issues of demilitarization, which Netanyahu had spoken of yesterday.  I saw that Egypt would not entertain the participation of Hamas without a PA presence, and that the Israeli delegation would include Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen and the head of the Policy and Political-Military Affairs department in the Defense Ministry Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Amos Gilad.
All of this became moot within two hours, however, when Hamas broke the ceasefire: in the Rafah area of southern Gaza (near the Sinai) terrorists emerged from a tunnel and began to shoot at IDF soldiers.  Reports followed of a fierce battle there.  Israel declared the ceasefire formally at a end; from the prime minister’s office came a statement about how the UN and the US can now see how Hamas conducts itself.  Hamas meanwhile attempted to point a finger at Israel – the “occupier” as the one who broke the ceasefire.
Reports of a fierce battle in the Rafah area then followed – a suicide bomber apparently emerged from the tunnel with the others and blew himself up, killing two. 
After this, came the chilling news that in the course of the fighting, an IDF soldier has been kidnapped.  He was grabbed during that battle, when the terrorists emerged from the tunnel (in the course of a “ceasefire”).  The IDF has identified him: Second Lieutenant (Platoon Leader) in the Givati Brigade, Hadar Goldin, 23, from Kfar Saba. There are enormous intelligence efforts and an intense search on-going in order to locate Goldin; the period of time from when he was grabbed until it was known that he was gone was short – which increases the possibility that he may yet be found. A search is being done house to house in the area. It is not known if he had been wounded. 
Hamas’s Moussa Abu Marzouk announced that Hamas had captured a soldier, but a spokesman for the Hamas military wing has denied a kidnapping.
Netanyahu has informed Kerry that Hamas will bear the consequences for whatever follows.  Kerry termed the kidnapping during a ceasefire “barbaric”  We are currently hitting Gaza very hard.
Miri Regev (Likud) released a statement on the question of Israel’s participation in ceasefires today (emphasis added):

We call on the Prime Minister to return Israel her sovereignty. We must stop these cease-fires - they give over a message of hesitancy.

"We must not accept a single condition in a cease-fire. We must either demilitarize or retake Gaza; there is no middle ground. Now is the time."

I’m with Miri. After this kidnapping, I trust and pray that Netanyahu will be as well:

The apparent goal of the kidnapping is so that Hamas can go to Cairo to negotiate a permanent truce from a strong bargaining position.  In their dreams.

There must be – there surely will be - no negotiations as long as they have one of our boys – only action to defeat them with finality.


An excellent cartoon:
Negotiating With Hamas Cartoon

I close here with links to diverse sources (compiled earlier) that will provide you with further insight into how Hamas functions.
Shifa hospital in Gaza was hit recently, and there were furious accusations of Israel having done it.  It turns out that Hamas itself that had done it, as terrorists were careless in the launching of rockets.
This was hardly an exception – it just made press more broadly because a hospital was involved.  In point of fact, Hamas rockets fall short about 25% of time and kill people in Gaza:
We know that Hamas cares not at all for the lives of its civilians, but not many know that child labor is used in digging the tunnels, and it is estimated that at least 160 children have died in the process:
See a tunnel hidden in the bathroom of someone’s house:
And the last information today. With the amount of cement Hamas used to build its tunnels, it could have built two hospitals, 20 clinics, 20 schools, and 100 kindergartens.,7340,L-4552468,00.html
Is your mind boggled yet? Getting the picture of the obscene neglect of the people visited upon them by Hamas?

© 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.

See my website at  Contact Arlene at
This material is transmitted by Arlene only to persons who have requested it or agreed to receive it.  If you are on the list and wish to be removed, contact Arlene and include your name in the text of the message.


Posted on Saturday, August 2, 2014 at 03:03PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 31, 2014: Potentially a Huge Turn-Around

Today I am feeling a far greater certainty that our government is going to see through this war to its necessary end.  That our prime minister is working with resolve, looking first at the people of our nation and not over his shoulder at Obama, or the UN.
Another 16,000 reservists have been called up and more troops were deployed in Gaza today.  We are stepping up the pace of the fighting, and expanding the arena of battle, at the same time that we are seeking and destroying tunnels.
Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90

We have sent a delegation to Egypt, where a ceasefire is being discussed.  But Netanyahu says ceasefire or no ceasefire, we will not stop our work.  He will not accept any ceasefire proposal that does not allow us to complete our work on the tunnels.
In fact, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s words spoken before this morning’s Security Cabinet meeting suggesting that we are now aiming for the full demilitarization of Gaza (emphasis added):
”We have struck hard at thousands of terrorist targets: Command centers, rocket arsenals, production facilities, launch areas and hundreds of terrorists have been killed. These achievements and the neutralization of the tunnels are only the first stage in the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip...
”We are working around the clock, shoulder to shoulder, sagaciously and responsibly, for the people of Israel. Naturally, we cannot share with the public all of the information and all of the considerations at our disposal. We have an orderly plan and we are acting accordingly.”
But he also said this, with regard to the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip:
The US, the EU and other important elements in the international community have accepted our position and I must say that this was not an easy thing to achieve but we did it together, with hard work.”
I read it and thought, “Nah... no way.” Then I thought that maybe it’s true but perhaps in order to bring the international community on board, Netanyahu promised who-knows- what with regard to “negotiations.”
But my checking – and I have two very solid sources here, one with PA connections and Arabic-speaking - indicates that this is real, or may yet be, and that Netanyahu promised nothing in terms of a negotiating position, or what we would give to Abbas with regard to “two states” or his position in Judea and Samaria.
What may be the case is that the international community would hope to see Abbas involved in a demilitarized Gaza at some level – at a bare minimum, regarding supervision of crossings. 
But this isn’t about the community’s desire to enhance Abbas’s position. This is about fear and hatred of Hamas, and thus an eagerness to see it taken out.
One of my sources spoke specifically about growing fear of radical jihadists in Europe, which has motivated the EU to completely support Israel’s bid to undo Hamas.  “One-hundred percent,” he said.
And then this same source said, without blinking an eye, “But not the United States.  Obama is for the Muslim Brotherhood.” It was his speculation that Netanyahu mentioned the US too so as to present a solid front, but that in the end the US, because of its position, would be frozen out.
Netanyahu also spoke about “other important elements in the international community who have accepted our position.”  Why wouldn’t he name these elements? Because they are elements who prefer not to be publicly allied with Israel, even as they support Israel’s position against Hamas.
The first of those elements would, quite clearly, be Egypt: Egypt’s president, al-Sisi, despises the Brotherhood.
But we can look further than this:
Khaled Abu Toameh has just written an article about the alarm expressed in certain Arab quarters with the current pro-Brotherhood position being taken by the US, which ultimately might even bring Iran into the picture.
Wrote Abu Toameh (emphasis added):
“According to a senior Abbas advisor, the Palestinian Authority president urged the Saudi monarch to exert pressure on the Obama Administration to keep Qatar and Turkey out of the picture.
The advisor said that Saudi Arabia voiced support for demands to demilitarize the Gaza Strip as part of any cease-fire agreement. ‘Demilitarizing the Gaza Strip would mean the end of Hamas,’ the advisor said. ‘The Egyptians, Saudis and other Arab countries also share this view.”
And so, my friends, we have to sit tight and see how this plays out now.  I do not say it metaphorically, but rather in very real terms: Please pray.
The PR war may have taken a turn for the better as well, because the lethal antics of Hamas and its partner-in-terrorism, UNRWA, are being exposed at a new level.
What I wish to focus on here is one specific incident, with more to follow soon. I ask that you note it and share it absolutely as broadly as possible. Please!. 
You know the routine: Tell people, write letters to the editor and op-eds in local papers, put out information in Internet discussion groups and post it on your FB pages. Do talkbacks on the Internet and call in to radio shows.  Send information (with the URL) to editors and demand that they cover this. Israel is being libeled daily.  Help turn the tide. Working together you can.
The news that has been released today is a mind-boggler.
Two days ago, we lost three soldiers because an UNRWA clinic was booby-trapped, while some additional 17 soldiers  were wounded.  The soldiers were in the vicinity of the clinic because they were working on dismantling tunnels.
Today this information has been released (emphasis added):
Over eighty kilograms of explosives were built into the UN-funded hospital’s walls themselves, it was cleared for publication Thursday – revealing that the clinic itself was built to mask, and perform, potential acts of terror on the IDF.

Moreover, the clinic was built over tens of terror tunnels, according to the report.”


Three times in this war alone (yes, it’s happened before), rockets have been discovered in an UNRWA facility and UNRWA staff don’t know how it got there.

But eighty kilograms of explosives built into the walls of an UNRWA clinic?  Tens of tunnels built under an UNRWA clinic?  So far UNRWA has had no response, likely because there is nothing they can say without further implicating themselves.

Please help make sure large numbers of people know about this (you will NOT find it in your mainstream media).


There is a great deal more to say about Hamas and how it is functioning, all of which needs to be put out broadly. I will following with more in coming posts.


© 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.

See my website at  Contact Arlene at
This material is transmitted by Arlene only to persons who have requested it or agreed to receive it.  If you are on the list and wish to be removed, contact Arlene and include your name in the text of the message.

Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 02:14PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 30, 2014: Struggle All the Way

Let me begin with a video of something I described last night from the Shloshim ceremonies at the Great Synagogue.  This is Lt. Col. Shai Abramson, Chief Cantor of the IDF, singing with choir in prayer for the soldiers of the IDF:

For strength.  (And with thanks to Linda O.)


I have joked about how I would have to put a posting out every two hours, in order to keep my readers abreast of events.  But, in truth, it is no joke.  At best, in a communication such as this one, I can only summarize. And so I ask, please, that you excuse any accidental omissions of significance.


Today the Security Cabinet met once again to discuss the issue – according to media reports - of whether the war should continue or be terminated. The decision, thank Heaven, was to continue:

The IDF has been instructed to ‘continue to forcefully hit Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and to complete the job of neutralizing the terror tunnels,’ a senior diplomatic official said Wednesday. (Emphasis added)

“According to the official, speaking after a four-hour security cabinet meeting, the IDF operation has led to ‘significant achievements on the ground’ and is hitting at the ‘strategic apparatus’ that Hamas has invested in for years.”


Every time the Cabinet meets to debate the continuation of this important effort, I ask myself – with no little concern and agitation – why they think they have to have this discussion yet again, since it’s obvious that we must continue for the security of the people, and that the nation is fully behind the effort. 

One reason – which I’m not claiming is necessarily a good reason - is because of the incredible international pressure being put on us.

This is a very difficult war to win, because we are dealing with an amoral and heartless enemy that is content to promote the death of its own civilians so that they might be used as PR fodder against Israel. And oh how the world – with the complicity of a great deal of the media – buys into this.  The vast majority of you know precisely what I’m referring to.

We are in the right.  We have the most moral of armed forces in the world. But it matters little to the world, and we must continue to operate while being accused of killing babies.


There are two specific issues I want to look at with regard to this.  The first is UNRWA.  UNRWA is blatantly complicit, no matter what mask they don as a humanitarian agency that only takes care of poor “Palestinian refugees.”

I have alluded before to my research on UNRWA and its relationship with Hamas, done for the Center for Near East Policy Research.  What was crystal clear when I did that research was that UNRWA was in bed with Hamas. So much was this the case that Hamas controlled the UNRWA schools in Gaza – with recruitment for Hamas going on in the high schools, and ceremonies to mark the “martyrdom” of Hamas terrorists held on UNRWA school grounds.

Now UNRWA schools in Gaza are in the news. Three times in this war, UNRWA officials have found rockets hidden in their schools. Declaring themselves totally bewildered as to how they got there, UNRWA official then returned them to Hamas. 


More pertinently, there have been a handful of incidents in which UNRWA schools were hit, or people using UNRWA schools were killed or wounded.  It goes without saying that a cry goes up each time, charging that the IDF shoots at schools and kills innocent people inside those schools.  In each instance the IDF has investigated.  Once, it was found that Israel hit only an empty building, in another case that Hamas mortars were involved.

See here, for example:

Most recently, there has been the charge that 15 people sheltered in an UNRWA school were killed by Israeli shelling. The incident is still under investigation, but what the IDF says is that mortar bombs had been fired from the vicinity of the school and IDF troops shot back.  Certainly they cannot – should not - sit still and allow themselves to be targeted without attempting to take out the source of the fire. 

Just as certainly, Hamas “militants,” when lobbing mortar bombs at the IDF from next to a school know full well that by doing this they are putting the civilians inside the school at risk.  Hey, a headline that says, “Israel kills civilians sheltered in a school,” is a big win for Hamas.


As a result of civilian injuries and deaths, there are demands daily from the international community that Israel call a halt to stop the heartbreaking damage.  British Prime Minster Cameron, while speaking of Israel’s right to defend herself, warned that Israel was losing the support of the world.


It is because of this pressure that the Security Cabinet – urged on, I have no doubt, by Netanyahu – votes regularly for short ceasefires that are unilateral (Hamas keeps going even as we hold fire inside of Gaza).  This is said to be to allow civilians a quiet time to go out and get supplies and such – and does not involve our work on destroying tunnels.  The attitude of the government is that this does not really harm our efforts and buys some international good will because we show we care about the civilians.

We had a four hour ceasefire today, and have said that even as we continue, we will do this every do often.


However, I want to share the criticism of this policy voiced by MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud):

“All this walking towards humanitarian a big mistake...Last weekend we were already in a state that Hamas was on the verge of breaking, we saw large groups of Hamas members who turned themselves in – and it happened because we attacked them without stopping.

“The rule against terrorism is that if you do not pursue terrorism, terrorists will pursue you...Therefore this method of ‘humanitarian ceasefire’ problematic. Hamas exploits the interval to organize itself and to continue its attacks. (Emphasis added)

“We currently have two options. We can either take the initiative and increase pressure on Hamas – and beat it until it begs for a ceasefire – or continue this on-and-off process and slowly fight it out.”


Credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90

So what we’re doing, it seems, is continuing to fight while looking over our shoulder at the international community.

And I would guess that it is issues such as this that are what occupy the Security Council during those meeting and not “yes or no” decisions about fighting or not fighting. There are a host of nuances here.


Yet another major decision involves the question of when it really will be time to stop.  Elkin says we have to fight until “they wave a white flag,” and we have to demilitarize, because no one else will.

Ze’ev Elkin does not fool around, and I rather like that.  He is absolutely correct that no one but Israel would demilitarize.


I have shared with my readers many times the concerns voiced by analysts that Hamas is not the worst of what we might deal with, and that if Hamas is taken out some other jihadist group such as al-Qaeda would move in.  This argues for leaving a severely weakened Hamas in place.

But I have been rethinking my opinion here, because I see that Hamas is better organized, more militarily prepared than had been expected.  Allowing them to remain in a situation in which they might rebuild could be dangerous.  What we’ve seen most recently is that Hamas, feeling beleaguered, is calling on Hezbollah to join the fight.  Not going to happen tomorrow, as Hezbollah has enough trouble at the moment.  But it does seem that eliminating Hamas from this equation might not be a bad move.

As Caroline Glick just wrote (source below): “The longer our soldiers fight, the more we learn about the vast dimensions of the Hamas’s terror arsenal, and about the Muslim Brotherhood group’s plans and strategy for using it to destabilize, demoralize and ultimately destroy Israeli society.”

In line with this are arguments that have taken place in the Security Cabinet regarding the need to assassinate the Hamas leaders, such as Ismail Haniyeh, so-called prime minister of Hamas.  Presumably we know where he and other leaders are hiding. And the notion of doing this, which would bring Hamas to its knees, is indeed attractive.


Lately, Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), who leans to the left, has been pushing for such assassinations.  Seemed pretty surprising, coming from him – until it came clear why he favors this:  He would like to see Abbas and the PA take over Gaza (thus paving the way for that “two state solution”).

Uh oh. This is a remaining reason for not taking Hamas out completely.  Paving the way for a PA presence in Gaza would bring us a great many headaches of the diplomatic sort, and is not something we necessarily want to be involved with at all.  Believe me, this is being discussed in the Security Cabinet as well.  (It should be mentioned that Netanyahu vetoed the idea of assassinating Hamas leaders – choosing instead to demolish their houses, which strikes me as silly.)

I keep tabling this discussion about the end of the war energizing discussion of “negotiations” - because it has to be considered very seriously indeed. When the time is right, I will look in some detail at what we likely have coming down the road.  I see the signs in many quarters.


So, if we don’t take Hamas out all the way – when do we stop?  Right now there are still tunnels to attend to, although it is being said (I’m not entirely convinced, but maybe) that more have been found and we will be finished in some days or a week or two.  After that?  Leaving rockets in place seems a bad idea. And what if we want to pull out and Hamas is still strong enough to keep launching rockets?  There is no resolution on this yet.


I want to touch here only very briefly on something that made big press in Israel the last couple of days. Truth to tell, I’m a bit weary of it:

Oren Nahari, reporting on Channel 1 here in Israel, claimed that a senior American official had given him a transcript of Obama’s phone call to Netanyahu, in which he demanded an immediate ceasefire.  It makes Obama look particularly bad. Both parties have since denied that it is an accurate transcript – although what caught my attention was that the denial from the prime minister’s office was verbatim the denial from the US.  (One gets the feeling protocol demands a denial.) My feeling is that if it is not a precise transcript, word for word, it reflects a tone that comes close to the truth of the interaction.  Nahari stands by his story and defended it again in the last day or so.

You can see some of the purported transcript here:

Then I recommend Caroline Glick’s article, that looks at the same situation – what we need to do with Hamas and how Obama is pressuring Netanyahu (emphasis added):

“Obama is as involved in the Middle East as all of his immediate predecessors were. He is personally leading US policy on every front. Kerry is not an independent actor.

 “The problem is that in every war, in every conflict and in every contest of wills that has occurred in the Middle East since Obama took office, he has sided with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, against America’s allies.

Under Obama, America has switched sides.”


© 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 Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 06:42PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 28, 2014: Shloshim

Shloshim means 30 in Hebrew, and and it is now a significant 30 days since the funerals of the three students who had been kidnapped and murdered by terrorists because they were Jews.

3 kidnapped teen boys Israel 6-14-2014 

Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shayer and Naftali Fraenkel


Tonight there was a major ceremony at the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem to mark this day that terminates the formal mourning period for the boys’ families.



It was incredible and powerful, because it touched not just the families, but all of us. We had taken these boys into our hearts.


What was stunning was the understanding that ran throughout of the intrinsic connection between the murders of the boys and the war we are currently engaged in with Hamas.  It has been a process that we have witnessed, and now consider with a sense of certainty:

The boys were grabbed – they disappeared.  An emergency phone call by one of them to the police was considered a prank, and so was not promptly followed up.  This allowed the kidnappers/murderers to get away – although it was very quickly determined by authorities that members of Hamas were involved. 

During the ensuing intensive search for the boys in the Hevron area, the IDF re-arrested members of Hamas who had been released during the trade for Gilad Shalit, and undermined the Hamas infrastructure in Judea and Samaria – altogether an excellent thing to have done, as Hamas was itching to take over in the Palestinian Arab areas of Judea and Samaria. This angered Hamas in Gaza, which began launching rockets into Israel.  Ultimately, because the leaders of Hamas persisted with hardened hearts, it lead to the war in which we are now engaged.

A war, it turns out, which was very very necessary, even with the price that is being paid.  For a network of reinforced tunnels had been dug that reached into communities in the south of Israel.  They were going to be used -  reportedly on Rosh Hashana - for a very major attack that would have involved – Heaven forbid – a massacre of many. The intention was to take over small communities in the south and bringing Israel to her knees.

There is not a religious person in Israel who does not see the connections within the unfolding of this situation – and the hand of Heaven.


So powerful is this situation within the consciousness of the people of Israel that the crowds were incredible. The Great Synagogue sanctuary is huge, but filled up very quickly.  Although I arrived early with friends, we found ourselves in the spacious lobby, where chairs had been set up with large screens.  And then, we were informed, there the crowds of people gathered outside.  Thousands, they said.  The police blocked off the entire street and large screens and loudspeakers were set up there, as well.

The people who came were of all kinds – young and old, religious and less apparently so, dark-skinned and light-skinned.  They are the people of Israel.


There were several talks delivered during the evening.  Touching, tasteful and meaningful.  “We are united,” was the constant refrain.  Yitzhak “Buji” Herzog, head of the opposition Labor party, spoke. There is no opposition now, he declared. There is no left and no right. We are one.  Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat – himself politically centrist - implored Prime Minister Netanyahu not to give in. Someone else assured the prime minister that we are all together behind him.

Both chief rabbis spoke, and there were meaningful words, again, of unity of the people and what this means, especially as we approach Tisha B’av (with more on this next week).


There were prayers recited.  When the chief cantor of the IDF, backed by a choir, sang the prayer for the soldiers of the IDF, people wept openly.  There were intervals of song. 

The three fathers together recited the mourner’s kaddish for their sons.  The parents throughout have been extraordinary models of strength and dignity and faith.


The message, then, is clear: We are the people of Israel, united. Do not underestimate us. Our prayers are for the blessings and the protection of Heaven.


The war?  It is ugly, and, as I have indicated, necessary; it will not go away soon.  Tomorrow will be time enough for me to write in more detail.  (Sometimes I feel as if I would have to post hourly to keep my readers abreast of the shifting circumstances.)

In brief now:

After I had written yesterday, the death of five more soldiers was announced, bringing the total to 53.  These soldiers had spotted terrorists who – again! – came through a tunnel into Israel near Kibbutz Nachal Oz.

IDF operations were then expanded.  I noted in particular mention of Jabaliya, a name readily recognizable to me: When I did research on Hamas some years ago, in connection with my work on UNRWA, the name Jabaliya came up time and again – it is clearly a terrorist hotbed.


Earlier today, Mahmoud Abbas announced that he had convinced Hamas leaders to agree to a “humanitarian” ceasefire of 24 hours or more.

But once again, Hamas ended up saying there was nothing doing.  For the first time since the beginning of the war, Mohammed Deif, head of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades – the “military branch” of Hamas – made a statement, broadcast on Hamas’s television network: The fighting will end, he declared, only when Israel lifts its blockade of Gaza. Deif is considered a major policy-maker for Hamas.

Tonight there was a barrage of rockets, once again fired upon Israel.


© 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 Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at 07:02PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 28, 2014: How It Is

A true story told last week by Col. Richard Kemp: He was given the opportunity to meet with several of our soldiers, and in one special instance met with a pilot in our air force. This pilot had had 17 missions aborted because civilians were spotted.  “You must be very frustrated,” said Col. Kemp, “going out on missions and being called back so many times.” 

“Oh, no, sir” replied the pilot.  “I was glad.  I wouldn’t want it on my conscience that I had killed innocent people.” 

Col. Kemp calls our army the most moral in the world.


It seems as if we stand alone among the nations of the world.  Yes! there are individual people – very good people - with us. Some of them write to me.  Yet we face situations that are not just severely unacceptable, but unbelievable.


The president of the United States is doing incredible damage. The only positive thing to be said for how he’s behaving is that he is so blatant that he is uniting diverse factions in Israel against him.  I’ve been writing about concrete, and how it is used in Gaza.  Well, I think it an apt analogy to say that Obama comes at us like a cement truck.  No subtlety for him.  He serves as a diplomatic weapon for Hamas.

U.S. President Barack Obama (Reuters)

Credit: Reuters

Yesterday the president called Prime Minister Netanyahu and, after defending Kerry, whom he said Israel misunderstood, he demanded an "immediate, unconditional humanitarian cease-fire,” which he called a “strategic necessity.”


I have no information on what Netanyahu said to the president, but I have only the greatest empathy for him regarding the difficulty of remaining even semi-courteous in the face of this outrage.  (I would imagine that, since he was dealing with Obama as head of the Jewish state, and not as a private individual, he would - in spite of what inclinations he might have had to the contrary - have attempted to retain a reasonable tone.)

You can see some objections to Obama’s demands as voiced by government officials, ministers and MKs, in this Israel Hayom piece, “Rage in Jerusalem: 'Reject Obama's cease-fire demands.'”:

One official is quoted as saying, “Obama is stopping Israel just when we have Hamas against the wall." (Emphasis added) That, my friends, is the name of Obama’s game.


The official White House version of the message delivered by Obama to Netanyahu says:

“The President stressed the U.S. view that, ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza.” 
That is, US readiness to push for disarmament of terrorist groups is keyed to that “two state solution.”  If Israel wants disarmament, we’d better get to work on resuming negotiations.  This is not about disarming Hamas now because Hamas is dangerous, period.


Aaron Lerner compares Obama’s statement to a recent EU statement that called “on Hamas to immediately put an end to these acts and to renounce violence. All terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm.”  There were no political provisos attached to this demand.

If the EU comes out better than Obama here, you can understand what we’re dealing with.


Then yesterday there was a non-binding resolution by the Security Council in which it called for:

”an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire, allowing for the delivery of urgently needed assistance.”  It urged all parties to accept and fully
implement the humanitarian ceasefire into the Eid period (which marks the end of Ramadan and is taking place now) and beyond.

It further urged “the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace.”
No mention of the human rights of Israelis, who have had rockets launched at them, or of the need for terrorist groups to surrender their weapons. The only concern voiced is for the civilians of Gaza. And, once again, the implication is that the current situation could be resolved via a “two state solution.”  Unspoken here, but starring us in the face, is the obscene notion that if it weren’t for the “injustices” visited upon the Palestinian Arabs by the “occupier,” Israel, Hamas would not be violent.

Rest assured, I will come back to this theme, and to what we can expect down the road with regard to pressure to negotiate. 


So where are we?  Israel accepted a sort of “de facto” ceasefire, unofficially, in which we would only return fire.  Over the night, Hamas was quiet, which has been taken as a sign that its strength is faltering.  (And which is likely why the US is now coming to its rescue.)  There was one rocket launched in the morning, and shortly after noon, four more.  And then more still.  Each time, Israel has responded and as I write we are striking targets in Gaza.

What this means, at a minimum, is that there will be no more one-sided ceasefires, in which Israel remains quiet when Hamas does not (which was the intolerable situation a couple of times in recent days).  In fact, Netanyahu called Ban Ki Moon this afternoon and rejected UN calls for an immediate cease fire.

Right on!

Netanyahu said that the UN resolution did not mention that Hamas is attacking Israel (a small “oversight”) or that Hamas uses UN (i.e., UNRWA) facilities in doing so. He said that the world must ensure that Gaza is demilitarized and that international donations do not go towards terrorist infrastructure.

It is glaringly evident that the world is in no rush to demilitarize Gaza.  But I see it as enormously important that Netanyahu should keep demanding this – and the need to avoid having “rehabilitation funds” go for terrorists infrastructure, as they have in the past.  We are staking out our position.

And Netanyahu is responding with strength:

"the president of the UN Security Council addresses the needs of a murderous terrorist organization attacking Israeli civilians, and does not address the needs of Israel's security...”  (Emphasis added)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset on Thursday, July 24, 2014. (photo credit: Flash 90)
Credit: Flash90


One thing Israel will continue to do – and Netanyahu made this clear in his phone call to Ban – is to dismantle tunnels. We have started using explosives on them again and this will continue whether Hamas is quiet or not. 

This video from the IDF is great: a tunnel that lead to Israel demolished: .

Our prime minister referred to this process as the first step in demilitarizing Hamas.


I picked up one article today that said according to an IDF source, all of the tunnels that lead into Israel had been taken care of.  I mention this in case some of my readers might see it.  I believe it is overly optimistic.  Perhaps we have demolished all of the tunnels leading into Israel that we knew about – but that is something different.  As it seems clear that we have not identified every singe tunnel, we cannot possibly know that we have demolished all those that cross over the border. 

I believe that there remains an imperative for setting up monitoring and other systems on our side of the Gaza border. No chances should be taken.


As to the rockets – how much more of Hamas’s rocket cache we will take out depends in part, I would imagine, on how Hamas behaves in coming days.  Right now, we have moved back to a full war footing, taking out operatives and infrastructure as well as rockets.  We will do more damage, but it is not likely that we are not going to eliminate Hamas’s arsenal.  Especially is this the case as rockets are stored in tunnels.

The Hamas leadership is eager to rebuild its stores of weapons – which is precisely what it has done in the past. I have already written about a deal with North Korea that would would provide more rockets to Hamas in Gaza.  But beyond this is a readiness by Iran to retrofit Hamas rockets with new guidance systems that would make them more accurate.

Thus – and I cannot emphasize this enough! – it is imperative that calls by Hamas for a loosening of the blockade on Gaza (they claim for “humanitarian” purposes) not be permitted.  We are in a good position right now because Egypt has blocked the tunnels from the Sinai, which Hamas had utilized previously. We must make sure that Hamas can not bring in additional rockets or enhancements to them.

“Amos Yadlin, a former IDF Military Intelligence chief, says Israel must stop treading water and dramatically expand its ground offensive in Gaza. Actions that take the IDF ‘deeper into Gaza’ are necessary, he tells Channel 2, to the areas where much of the Hamas military wing is concentrated.

“’I’m not one of those who think we should reconquer Gaza,’ Yadlin says. But the Hamas military wing is ‘pretty satisfied now’ and must not be allowed to emerge from this conflict relatively intact.’”

(Times of Israel, above)


Late this afternoon, four soldiers near the Gaza border were killed and several wounded in a mortar attack launched by Hamas. (In the first reports it was not clear that those dead were soldiers.)   A fifth soldier died in battle inside of Gaza, bringing the total of military dead to 48.

Tonight, our prime minister addressed the nation because of this:

“We knew we would have difficult days,” he said.  “This is a hard and painful day.  Patience and determination are required in order to fight a terror organization that seeks to destroy us,”
“There must be an end to this, It is unacceptable that the citizens of Israel will live under threat of death. Killing from above and killing from below.”

Netanyahu said we should be prepared for an extended operation.   Defense Minister Ya’alon, who spoke after Netanyahu, said we would not hesitate to expand our operation.


Sometimes I size up the situation and find myself breathless.  In a “normal” world, where decent values pertained, the administration of the US would be working hard to protect its ally Israel, and seeking to weaken a jihadist terror organization by all means possible.  The American administration would fully grasp the fact that the same terrorists who are after Israel intend ill for all of the West.

Americans need to look very hard at how they have gotten to where they are now and what their president is doing.


© 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 Monday, July 28, 2014 at 05:12PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 27, 2014: Time to Finish the Threat

It’s going on 72 hours since I’ve posted – the longest interval I’ve gone without a posting since this war with Hamas began.  In that period, as I have attempted to track what is happening, I felt as if my head was spinning 350 degrees. Round and round.

Here I only intend to review the essential outline of what has been transpiring and then look at the bottom line basics that matter most.


In the period leading up to Shabbat, on Friday, Israel was said to be considering a proposal for a week long ceasefire that had been put on the table by Kerry.  In the end, that proposal was unanimously rejected by the Israel Security Cabinet; its members were, to a person, furious: Kerry had come out solidly on the side of Hamas.
Communicating with representatives of Qatar and Turkey in putting together his proposal, Kerry had, in the words of unnamed Israeli sources cited by Times of Israel, “’dug a tunnel under the Egyptian ceasefire proposal’ — which Israel accepted and Hamas rejected last week — and presented the Israeli government with a text that accepted ‘most of the demands’ raised by Hamas...

”To the ‘horror’ of the Israeli ministers, the Kerry proposal accepted Hamas’s demands for the opening of border crossings into Gaza — where Israel and Egypt fear the import of weaponry; the construction of a seaport; and the creation of a post-conflict funding channel for Hamas from Qatar and other countries, according to the sources. The proposal, meanwhile, did not even provide for Israel to continue demolishing the Hamas network of ‘terror tunnels’ dug under the Israeli border. (All emphasis added)

”Channel 2′s diplomatic reporter Udi Segal said ‘voices”’ from the cabinet had described Kerry as ‘negligent,’ ‘lacking the ability to understand’ the issues, and ‘incapable of handling the most basic matters.’”

I myself think describing Kerry thus is cutting him too much slack. He is not the rocket scientist of the diplomatic world, true. But he’s not so foolish that he cannot perceive the implications of failing to call for demolishing the terror tunnels into Israel.  What we are seeing is not an attempt to stop the fighting that is simply lacking in conceptual clarity. We’re seeing an ally of Hamas express his distain and malice toward the people of Israel.  Make no mistake about this, or about the fact that Kerry speaks for the man in the White House.

Times of Israel editor David Horovitz calls what Kerry did a “betrayal,” and says the result is that “Jerusalem now regards him as duplicitous and dangerous.”
This is an awakening that I see as all to the good.
Subsequent to this, Kerry went to Paris where he met with representatives of Qatar and Turkey to “continue working” on the ceasefire.  I believe he met there as well with Ban Ki Moon, whom my readers know well as another duplicitous anti-Israel diplomat.

Should you feel inclined (you many not), you can see here a recent video of a press conference with Netanyahu and Ban. Our prime minister very vividly lays out the picture of what we are contending with regarding Hamas, after which Ban professes sympathy and then advises us that we cannot solve the problem until there is no more “occupation” and a “two state solution.”  We should start talking to each other.

Today, Ban made a comment about how the people of Gaza have suffered enough.  As if we were causing that suffering on purpose and calling a halt to it is all that matters.


After Israel rejected the week-long ceasefire that had been proposed by Kerry, Ban Ki Moon, in Paris, working with other “diplomats,” called for a short humanitarian ceasefire – to allow supplies to be brought in and the dead to be brought out – to be honored from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM yesterday. That was accomplished.

The UN then asked that the ceasefire be extended for another day.  We agreed to four more hours. But at 8:01 PM Hamas started firing again, declaring that “We didn’t agree to an extension.”  In spite of this, we held our fire.

Yet another extension – another day – of ceasefire was then requested and at about midnight last night the Security Cabinet met again (they are in very frequent session) and voted to agree to that further extension – I believe 20 hours - even though it was a one-sided ceasefire.  It was about at that point that I went into my WHAT ARE THEY DOING? mode.

Today we started shelling in Gaza again, because Hamas did not honor the ceasefire and enough was enough.


AFTER we started shooting again, Hamas suddenly decided a ceasefire was a good idea after all, and called for it to be mutually instituted. This time Netanyahu said, Nothing doing.  Hamas had violated five ceasefires, two in the last 24 hours. Just since midnight last night, Hamas has launched over 40 rockets.


One can readily see, reading this description of what has been transpiring, how the head might spin.  But the precise details are not important – it’s the bigger picture that matters.

There have been many questions raised about how much work was being done on dismantling the tunnels during times when we were holding fire.  I’ve gotten different reports on this from various sources, but my sense is that very little was done.  Thus do these “humanitarian” ceasefires unsettle me because they have the potential to shut us down a little at a time.  Before everything we have set out to do has been done.


However, in the end, it’s not just about dismantling the tunnels we have uncovered: The stark truth is that we are not going to get all of the tunnels

Several times I have a great sense of unease as our prime minister has said, “We are moving ahead with our goals, but there is no guarantee we will get 100% of the tunnels.”  And slowly, the picture has become clear.

Reports say we have identified about 35 tunnels.  I cited a report from Steve Emerson the other day that said the Americans, utilizing infrared censors in a satellite, had identified 60 tunnels.  Just today I picked up reliable information that, from the terrorists we have arrested in Gaza, we have learned that there are somewhere between 70 and 100 tunnels. 

What is more, we are not fully dismantling all of those tunnels we have identified – a difficult job because of that reinforced concrete. 



We are, at least in some cases, apparently doing such things as detonating charges at the mouths of tunnels and pouring sand into them.  Is it far fetched to wonder whether some of them would be able to be reinstated as working tunnels with some effort by Hamas?


Preventing Hamas from using these tunnels is the top priority now.  A major story has been making the news about what Hamas had planned.  I’ve heard alternately that written plans for this were picked up inside of some of the tunnels, or that the information came from some of the terrorists who have been captured.  I cannot verify the story and thus normally would not even mention it.  But it sounds like something Hamas might have been planning. They didn’t build the tunnels for recreation.  If it wasn’t this, it would be something similar:

“Hamas had apparently been preparing a murderous assault on Israeli civilian targets for the coming Jewish New Year Holiday, Rosh Hashanah, which begins on September 24, according anonymous sources in the Israeli security services, as reported today by the Israeli daily Maariv.

The Hamas plan consisted of what was to be a surprise attack in which 200 fighters would be dispatched through each of dozens of tunnels dug by Hamas under the border from Gaza to Israel, and seize kibbutzim and other communities while killing and kidnapping Israeli civilians.” (Emphasis added)


So, if we take out 45 tunnels and 15 or 20 remain – each with several exit points in Israel?  It does not bear thinking about.  But we have to think about it.

Other means must be devised for preventing this.  The threat must be finished.  And it remains the responsibility of the government to do so.
It is very much to the good that Netanyahu is saying that the only ceasefire proposal on the table is Egypt’s, and that the rehabilitation of Gaza will depend on its demilitarization:

There is, as well, the need for the development of techniques at the Gaza border on our side that will reveal any underground activity, or interfere with it.  There are many cutting-edge engineers we can draw upon. We think out of the box: We need the attention and the dedication to see this through.


What I ask, then, is that you please write to PM Netanyahu. Let him know that you are with him as he stands strong – that standing strong against all demands that weaken Israel is imperative.  Tell him that the job must be done right.  Hamas must be sufficiently weakened or eliminated, so that it is no longer a threat to Israel. In particular, Hamas must be totally blocked from its ability to attack Jews in Israel via tunnels. The nation of Israel is depending upon him; and the Western world requires his model of strength and determination.                            

E-mail:  also  (underscore after pm) use both addresses. 


The rockets also must be contended with.  Some tens of thousands remain (in truth, we cannot be certain precisely how many).  They present less of an immediate threat than the prospect of large scale attacks via tunnels because of Iron Dome and our use of shelters. But this threat, too, must be eliminated.

 You will note that a constant refrain of Hamas is that their borders must be opened. This would facilitate the transfer of more rockets into Gaza.  And I mention here that Hamas reportedly expects to acquire new rockets from North Korea:

“Hamas [has] signed an arms deal with North Korea in order to replenish its depleted rocket arsenal...according to The Telegraph.

In an exclusive report the British paper sited senior security sources who claimed that the deal, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, had already been signed, having been made via Lebanese intermediaries.  Hamas has reportedly made an initial down payment in cash to Pyongyang, and is hoping for an imminent delivery to Gaza.”

These plans signal the attitude of Hamas leaders – they are not feeling defeated, but want to pick and go on.  Our methods of dealing with them must be informed by their attitude.


As of today, 43 of our soldiers have died. 


A new poll indicates that 86.5% of Israelis do not want a ceasefire now.

The spirit of the nation is incredible, as people gather to pray for the soldiers, and pack gift packages to bring to them. Almost everyone is involved somehow. 



© 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 Sunday, July 27, 2014 at 04:30PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint