Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Golani fighter Sean Carmeli, who split his time between Ra’anana and Texas, is laid to rest amid huge crowds in Haifa
There was a crowd of thousands at Sean Carmeli's funeral Monday night in Haifa
Sean Carmeli’s Facebook page is almost typical for a 21-year-old. There’s his profile photo taken with a girl leaning on him, blurry Instagrammed shots with friends at parties and a sepia-toned picture of him bicycle riding with friends on the Tel Aviv boardwalk. There’s also his cover photo with his fellow squad members, some faces blackened, guns at the ready.
Not everyone is grinning in that photo, but Carmeli was.
“Me and the squad,” he wrote, labeling a batch of photos he put up on Facebook.
First Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli was killed Saturday night when his APC, the armored personnel carrier that featured prominently in that Facebook album, was struck by an anti-tank weapon in Gaza — one of 13 Golani soldiers killed in the Hamas stronghold of Shejaiya that night.
“No sleepin a lot of drivin,” wrote Carmeli on one photo featuring him in full gear, in front of an APC.
Lone soldier Sean Carmeli was buried Monday night in Haifa’s Neve David cemetery (Courtesy Sean Carmeli Facebook page)
Carmeli was buried in Haifa’s Neve David cemetery on Monday night. Tens of thousands of people attended the funeral, with some estimates putting the number at a staggering 20,000.
There had been concerns that the lone soldier, who split his time between Ra’anana and South Padre Island, Texas, where his Israeli parents live, wouldn’t have enough people paying their final respects at his funeral.
But since he was a huge fan of Maccabi Haifa, the soccer team posted a photo of Carmeli on its Facebook page after his death, asking fans to go so that his funeral wouldn’t be deserted.
The team also announced that it would have two buses waiting at the cemetery to bring people back to the country’s center, after the 11 pm service.
Thousands of Israelis attend the funeral of IDF soldier Nissim Sean Carmeli, from Texas, at the military cemetery in Haifa, Monday, July 21, 2014. (Photo credit: FLASH90)
Ahuvah Berger, a Kfar Saba resident who attended the funeral, was struck by the mix of people at the funeral.
“There were people from all walks of life,” she said. “Religious, secular, Chabad, a Ra’anana crew, a lot of people from Haifa. Soldiers from the navy, air force and infantries. It was really impressive to see it. And there were a lot of people walking around wearing flags, Israeli flags.”
Ra’anana mayor Ze’ev Bielski spoke, as did the principal of Ostrovski, the high school Carmeli attended.
‘Me and the squad,” wrote Carmeli of this photo, posted on Facebook (Sean Carmeli Facebook page)
While Carmeli spent part of his high school years in Ra’anana, under the care of his two older sisters, he was also tied to the South Padre community, where his parents became deeply involved with the small, but strong Chabad-led community.
He was technically a lone soldier, because his parents don’t currently live in Israel, but was close to his family, calling his sisters and niece, “My girls,” and writing of his sister’s baby daughter, “My little niece she’s so friggin cute and amazing.”
Carmeli served in the Golani Brigade with distinction. When he was called up to Gaza last week, his officer told him he didn’t have to go to the front because of a foot injury. Carmeli insisted on serving with his squad.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
VIA: The Daily Caller
BY: Ariel Cohen
As tensions continue to escalate in the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is heading back to the region to continue pursuing a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas — but he may not be welcome this time around.
Former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren believes that America’s presence isn’t welcome at all. During an interview with an Israel news network on Monday, Oren said that Kerry coming to the region is “to our chagrin.” Oren cited Kerry’s history of failed attempts at peace negotiations in the region, and strained U.S. relations with Egypt, as well as the Obama administration’s poor relationship with both Israel and Palestine.
Kerry left on Monday for Egypt, where he will continue to negotiate discussions of the continually failing cease-fire. The White House hopes to return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement, and also emphasized the need to protect civilian lives, both in Gaza and in Israel.
Kerry spent nine months pursuing peace talks between Israel and Palestine from 2013 to 2014, but abandoned the effort recently after each attempt proved to be futile. Since violence has taken off between the Israelis and the Palestinians in recent weeks, Egypt has attempted to broker two separate cease-fires. While Israel complied with each request, Hamas has refused to agree and has repeatedly ignored Egypt’s requests.
During an interview broadcast on “Fox News Sunday,” Kerry said that Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas militants. But Kerry was caught making an aside comment to an aide over the phone during a commercial break, sarcastically calling Israel’s Operation Protective Edge a “helluva pinpoint operation.”
Numerous networks and media outlets picked up on this comment and condemned America’s top diplomat for callously critiquing the Israeli operation. (VIDEO: ’Morning Joe’ Doesn’t Believe Kerry’s Open Mic Criticism Of Israel Was An Accident)
According to Oren, Kerry’s behavior and remarks during his Sunday interview make it clear that Kerry was not invited to the region, and rather, just forced his way in. The State Department said that Kerry’s main concern in the region is minimizing “risk of further escalation, and the loss of more innocent life.”
President Obama reiterated that sentiment during a briefing from the White Hose lawn on Monday. The president expressed continued concerned about the violence, stating that both sides must continue working to “stop the deaths of innocent civilians.” The White House continues to look toward Kerry, the United Nations and Egypt to help broker a working cease-fire.
Monday, July 21, 2014
VIA: The Daily Caller 7/20/2014
BY: Neil Munro
President Barack Obama stepped up his efforts Sunday to limit Israel’s gradual destruction of Hamas’ tunnel network in the Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza, which now conceals many of the rockets and jihadi units that attack Israelis.
In a morning call to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama “reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself [but] also raised serious concern about the growing number of casualties, including increasing Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza and the loss of Israeli soldiers,” said a 2.00 p.m. statement from the White House.
Israel’s government did not officially respond to Obama’s statement, which came after Israel ground units moved into Gaza to find the tunnels. The Gaza area is controlled by Hamas green-waving jihadis, whose mission is to destroy Israel because it is not controlled by Muslims.
The warring parties should comply with the 2012 ceasefire signed by Hamas, Israel and Egypt’s government, said the White House statement.
“Secretary of State John Kerry will soon travel to Cairo to seek an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement,” the statement said.
That 2012 deal was brokered by Egypt’s Islamist government, which was then aligned with Hamas parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood. Obama strongly backed the deal and also the Islamist government, until after the government failed to protect the U.S. embassy from Islamist rioters in September 2012.
The Islamist ceasefire deal opened Gaza’s border posts with Egypt. After the fighting ended, Hamas imported more weapons and construction material for its tunnel network, which are now being used to attack Israel.
Since the 2012 deal was made, Egypt’s pro-Hamas government has been replaced by a new anti-Hamas, anti-brotherhood government.
That new government has drafted a new deal, which would open the border posts “once the security situation becomes stable on the ground.” Hamas fears that Egypt’s new government will never conclude the security situation is stable enough to reopen the border, and will continue to block the movement of weapons in Gaza.
Egypt’s new deal would also allow Israel to launch drones strikes against Hamas military forces.
Israel accepted the new deal, but Hamas rejected it on July 16.
For at least a week, Obama has been pressuring Israel to not attack Gaza.
“Israel has the right to defend itself against what I consider to be inexcusable attacks from Hamas… [but] I believe further escalation benefits no one, least of all the Israeli and the Palestinian people,” Obama told Muslim attendees at a July 14 dinner in the White House.
“Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks… But over the past two weeks, we’ve all been heartbroken by the violence, especially the death and injury of so many innocent civilians in Gaza —- men, women and children who were caught in the crossfire,” Obama said in July 16 statement to the media.
Obama’s deputy repeated that two-track message today — acknowledging Israel’s right to defend itself, while also criticizing Israel’s attack on the tunnel network.
Kerry sat for an interview on Fox News, but privately criticized Israel’s tactics in Gaza during an intermission. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” he said in a quick phone call to an aide. “We need to get over there… it is crazy to be siting around.”
When asked to explain his off-air comments, Kerry said that Israelis “have a right to go in take out those tunnels, we completely support that… [and] we defend Israel’s right to do what it is doing in order to get at those tunnels.”
“Hamas has started this process of rocketing… [and now] is important for them to step up and be reasonable,” he said.
Obama’s July 20 intervention came as Israel ground forces pushed into the heavily populated Shejaiya neighborhood of Gaza, which shields part of Hamas’ tunnel network from Israel surveillance and airstrikes.
The area is being strongly defended by Hamas jihadis carrying imported weaponry.
In overnight fighting, 13 Israel soldiers were killed, including seven in a troop-carrier which was destroyed by a land-mine, and three who were killed by an anti-tank missile.
Israel has urged local Arabs to leave the embattled neighborhood, but Hamas forces are reportedly blockading any civilian exodus.
“We urged the civilian population to evacuate for days, through leaflets, broadcasts, telephone calls… because we didn’t want to see innocent civilians caught in the crossfire between Israel and Hamas,” a military official told Israel media. “It is Hamas that ordered the civilians to stay put. It is Hamas that wanted those civilians to stay, so it would have a human shield for its terrorist machine.”
Hamas is also pressuring media outlets to showcase the resulting civilian casualties, especially of children, who are brought to a nearby hospital and morgue for easy access.
The civilian casualties caused by Hamas’ blockage of the exits include the “increasing Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza” cited in the White House statement
“What choice do we have?” Netanyahu asked in a July 20 press conference.
“We try to target the rocketeers… And all civilian casualties are not intended by us but actually intended by Hamas who want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can because somebody said they use telegenically dead Palestinians for the cause,” Netanyahu told CNN. “They want ‘the more dead, the better.’”
The Hamas attacks on Israel violate international law because the rockets are too inaccurate to hit military targets. Nearly all of the attacks have been blocked by Israel’s forces and its Iron Dome anti-missile system.
Since 2012, when Egypt’s Islamist government failed to protect the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Obama has reduced his involvement in Middle East politics. However, he’s still trying to broker a peace deal between the the Jews in Israel and the Middle East Arabs, almost none of whom favor the existence of Israel.
Friday, July 18, 2014
Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.
“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”
Charles Krauthammer writes a weekly political column that runs on Fridays. View Archive
Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.
Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza.
And there was no blockade. On the contrary. Israel wanted this new Palestinian state to succeed. To help the Gaza economy, Israel gave the Palestinians its 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce.
The whole idea was to establish the model for two states living peacefully and productively side by side. No one seems to remember that, simultaneous with the Gaza withdrawal, Israel dismantled four smaller settlements in the northern West Bank as a clear signal of Israel’s desire to leave the West Bank as well and thus achieve an amicable two-state solution.
This is not ancient history. This was nine years ago.
And how did the Gaza Palestinians react to being granted by the Israelis what no previous ruler, neither Egyptian, nor British, nor Turkish, had ever given them — an independent territory? First, they demolished the greenhouses. Then they elected Hamas. Then, instead of building a state with its attendant political and economic institutions, they spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel.
Where are the roads and rail, the industry and infrastructure of the new Palestinian state? Nowhere. Instead, they built mile upon mile of underground tunnels to hide their weapons and, when the going gets tough, their military commanders. They spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, even drones. They deliberately placed them in schools, hospitals, mosques and private homes to better expose their own civilians. (Just Thursday, the U.N. announced that it found 20 rockets in a Gaza school.) And from which they fire rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Why? The rockets can’t even inflict serious damage, being almost uniformly intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. Even West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas has asked: “What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?”
It makes no sense. Unless you understand, as Tuesday’s Post editorial explained, that the whole point is to draw Israeli counterfire.
This produces dead Palestinians for international television. Which is why Hamas perversely urges its own people not to seek safety when Israel drops leaflets warning of an imminent attack.
A collection of cartoons about international news.
July 18, 2014Tom Toles/The Washington Post
To deliberately wage war so that your own people can be telegenically killed is indeed moral and tactical insanity. But it rests on a very rational premise: Given the Orwellian state of the world’s treatment of Israel (see: the U.N.’s grotesque Human Rights Council), fueled by a mix of classic anti-Semitism, near-total historical ignorance and reflexive sympathy for the ostensible Third World underdog, these eruptions featuring Palestinian casualties ultimately undermine support for Israel’s legitimacy and right to self-defense.
In a world of such Kafkaesque ethical inversions, the depravity of Hamas begins to make sense. This is a world in which the Munich massacre is a movie and the murder of Klinghoffer is an opera — both deeply sympathetic to the killers. This is a world in which the U.N. ignores humanity’s worst war criminals while incessantly condemning Israel, a state warred upon for 66 years that nonetheless goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid harming the very innocents its enemies use as shields.
It’s to the Israelis’ credit that amid all this madness they haven’t lost their moral scruples. Or their nerve. Those outside the region have the minimum obligation, therefore, to expose the madness and speak the truth. Rarely has it been so blindingly clear.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
What does it mean to say that casualties are “disproportionate”?
On “NBC Nightly News” on July 12, David Gregory spoke of growing pressure from the United Nations for a ceasefire in Gaza. He noted that the United States and many other nations believed that Israel had a right to self-defense. Nonetheless, Gregory reported, these countries were likely to be sympathetic to calls for a ceasefire because of the “disproportionate” number of casualties between the two sides. Among the residents of Gaza, the death toll then exceeded 100, while Israel had suffered dozens of injuries but no casualties.
Mr. Gregory was simply reporting the news, but I found his comments disturbing, nonetheless. What does it mean to say that the casualties are “disproportionate”? And is that really the moral issue that we need to be concerned about?
The implication of the “disproportionality” claim is that, given their losses, the people of Gaza are the real victims. But morally and politically, this is an intolerable and distorted interpretation of the realities in the region.
The reason that Hamas has not killed more Israelis is not because they haven’t tried. In the seven years during which it has controlled Gaza, Hamas and its proxies have fired more than 5000 rockets into Israel; almost 800 have been launched just this past week. Each one has been aimed at civilians and intended to murder and maim. The reason that more Israelis have not died is that the weapons are mostly crude and inaccurate and that, over time, Israel has prepared herself with shelters, warning sirens and an anti-missile system. In addition, Israelis have been just plain lucky.
But that luck could change at any moment. If a single rocket were to hit a school or a mall, the number of dead could balance out in a flash. Then, to be sure, you would have “proportionality,” but there is no moral calculus by which additional dead civilians is a preferable outcome.
For Israel, the fundamental issue is the responsibility of its government to protect its citizens. As missiles have fallen on her cities over the years, the government has not succeeded in providing that protection. The reasons are many, including sensitivity to American wishes and a concern for world opinion; but the desire not to hurt the innocent is the most important. Now, however, as children in the south continue to live in terror and civilians throughout Israel flee to shelters several times daily, Israel’s leaders have concluded that they must act.
There is something bizarre, in fact, about the idea of “proportionality” being used as a moral criticism against Israel. A proportional response by Israel to the attacks of the last seven years would mean that every time a rocket is fired by Hamas at an Israeli civilian center, Israel would respond by firing a rocket at a civilian center in Gaza. Israel, of course, rejected that, then and now. Still, when Hamas violated the ceasefire yet again and got its hands on longer-range rockets, something had to be done.
The best way to evaluate Israel’s action is to imagine how we as Americans would respond to similar provocations. Assume the following: a terrorist group embedded in Mexico that the Mexican government refused to disarm is firing missiles into Houston night after night, endangering American lives. Our government would not wait a week or a month; indeed, it would not wait a single day before taking action to assure the well-being of her citizens. In fact, we need only remember how American forces flew half way around the world to engage in a war in Afghanistan against terrorists who carried out an attack on American soil. The talk then was not of proportionality, but of providing security for our country and stopping those who wished to do us harm.
Of course, let us not think for a moment, God forbid, that we can be indifferent to the death of innocents. The death of any child, Israeli or Arab, Muslim or Jew, is an unspeakable tragedy that rends the heart. Israel must do everything humanly possible to avoid the civilian casualties; already she issues warnings and calls for evacuation of areas about to be attacked, and must do more. Still, for any country, morality begins with a reasonable measure of security for her own citizens, and it is not right to say that Israel must protect Palestinian civilians at the cost of abandoning her own.
The issue was never “proportionality”; it is the suffering and dying of too many Arabs and Jews. And while there is much that is complicated about the Middle East, ending the violence in Gaza is not complicated. Hamas needs to halt the missile attacks and provide credible assurances to Israel and the world that they will not be resumed. If the rockets stop, quiet can come tomorrow. And tomorrow is not soon enough.
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, a writer and lecturer, was President of the Union for Reform Judaism from 1996 to 2012. His writings are collected at ericyoffie.com.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
July 17, 2014
Joshua Muravchik, a fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, author of Making David Into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel, 2014.
In the 1960's, Liberals were among some of Israel's strongest supporters, but have since become some of Israel's staunchest opponents. In his new book, Making David Into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel, Joshua Muravchik, a fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, explores the reasons behind this change.
Last month's vote by the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. to divest from three American companies whose products are sold to Israel was a recent example of the animus toward Israel commonly found on the Left
In an email interview with The Christian Post, Muravchik says that opposing Israel and supporting Palestinians fits with a new Leftist ideology that views modern political struggles as between race and ethnic groups, with the predominantly white West against the non-white rest of the world. This viewpoint has surpassed the previous class-based, rich versus poor, categories as the predominant ideology of the Left, he argued.
Despite this change on the Left, Muravchik does not believe that Democrats will change their support for Israel because American voters are strong supporters of Israel.
Muravchik also spoke about the anti-Israel sentiments found among some liberal Evangelicals and the bias in media coverage of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Here is the full transcript of that interview:
CP: Why, today, are conservatives generally pro-Israel and liberals generally pro-Palestinian?
Muravchik: Leftists/liberals/progressives believe that the great moral drama of our era is "the rest against the West" or the "people of color" against the "white man." This has replaced poor-against-rich or worker-against-capitalist as the core idea of progressive thought. Seen through that lens, Israel (the "Western," "white" guys) is automatically wrong and the Palestinians (the "anti-colonialist" "people of color") are automatically right. On the other side, conservatives value Israel as a free country, a democracy, and an ally of the United States.
CP: U.S. foreign policy toward Israel has remained remarkably consistent across presidential administrations. Do you see that changing?
Muravchik: The U.S. will remain pro-Israel because polls show that the American public is strongly pro-Israel. President Obama has been cooler toward Israel that any other president in recent memory, saying in his first year that he wanted to "put daylight" between the U.S. and Israel, and he has done that, but still he has not changed U.S. policy radically.
CP: What would we see from the Democratic Party today if there were no strong pro-Israel forces within its coalition?
Muravchik: Support for Israel by Democratic politicians has less to do with any "forces" in the "coalition" than with the simple fact that U.S. public opinion is firmly pro-Israel. The Left, however, is now anti-Israel and it does its best to push the party in that direction.
We saw its influence at the 2012 Democratic convention when the draft platform was much less pro-Israel than in the past, and the Obama team had to pull out all the stops — and go through three votes — to change the wording because they feared it would cost votes.
CP: Last month, the Presbyterian Church (USA), a Mainline Protestant denomination, voted to divest from three American companies whose products are sold to Israel. What is the source of this strong anti-Israel sentiment among Mainline Protestants?
Muravchik: In the 1960s and 1970s the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, and the leadership of some of the individual Mainline Protestant denominations turned sharply to the Left. To an outsider it looked as if they were replacing religious faith with political messianism. They embraced "revolutionary" forces in Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua, and other "third world" places even though those forces were both anti-human and anti-God. And they embraced Palestinian "revolutionaries" in the same spirit.
CP: In the United States, the strongest supporters of Israel have been Jews and Evangelicals. Recently though, there have been some vocal anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian sentiments from liberal Evangelicals. Has anything surprised you about this phenomenon?
Muravchik: It is not surprising for Evangelicals to be liberals. This faith does not require any particular political persuasion. But a genuine liberal must be pro-Israel. Israel — and not its enemies — is democratic, observes freedom of speech and worship, tolerates minorities, sanctifies the rights of women, and constantly reaches out to the other side with humanitarian gestures, such as the six Gazan babies who were transported to Israel this week, amidst the rocket fire, for free operations to repair congenital heart defects. To be anti-Israel is not to be liberal; rather it is to embrace the worldview of the radical Left which is totalitarian, anti-freedom, and anti-faith. It surprised me greatly to see some Evangelicals join that camp.
CP: What do you think about the media coverage of the current conflict taking place between Israel and Hamas? Some conservatives have complained that the coverage is unfairly biased against Israel.
Muravchik: The coverage is biased, especially in The New York Times, which once was fair and balanced but today filters the whole world through a leftish lens. And of course the Times influences others.
In addition to simple bias, another factor is at work. Israel is an open society, with a press that watchdogs the government and washes the country's dirty linen in public. Many stories in the U.S. press that show some of the bad side of Israel originate in the Israeli press. There is nothing remotely comparable on the Arab side. There is no press freedom, and if someone in Gaza wants to reveal Hamas's nasty deeds, it's as good as his life.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday repeated his position that "Israel will continue to do what it needs to do to defend itself until peace and quiet are restored."
The premier spoke at a joint news conference with Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini at the Knesset on Wednesday.
Netanyahu called on the international community to condemn Hamas for committing the "double war crime" of firing on Israeli civilians and using Palestinian noncombatants as human shields. He also said that the "most important step for the international community to insist on" is "the demilitarization of Gaza."
The premier noted that while Israel accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, Hamas rejected it.
Turning to the Italian foreign minister, Netanyahu said, "Imagine in Rome, Florence, and Milan were rocketed. You wouldn't accept that. You'd fight back. Those firing the rockets aren't seeking a political solution."
Mogherini commended Netanyahu for accepting the ceasefire while calling on both sides to refrain from civilian casualties. She also expressed concern for the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Israel’s military says it has resumed airstrikes on the Gaza Strip after Hamas militants rejected and violated a proposed cease-fire that was approved by Israel's Security Cabinet.
Israeli officials said that the truce proposed by Egypt's Foreign Ministry had been accepted by the cabinet shortly after it was due to take effect Tuesday at 9 a.m. local time (2 a.m. Eastern Time). Less than half an hour later, a senior Hamas official told The Associated Press that the group had rejected the proposal, claiming that Cairo had not consulted them.
"We did not receive any official draft of this Egyptian proposal," Sami Abu Zuhri said, adding that the plan, as is, was "not acceptable."
Military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said Tuesday that after holding its fire for six hours Israel has "resumed operational activities.”
The military said that during the six hours Gaza militants fired about 50 rockets all over Israel. No injuries were reported.
In addition, the military said three rockets were fired at the southern city of Eilat, injuring two people and sparking a fire. The military did not immediately know who was behind the rocket fire. Previous rocket attacks on the city have come from radical Islamic militants in the neighboring Sinai Peninsula.
Earlier Tuesday, the military also denied it launched at an air strike on Gaza after a Hamas police spokesman Eyad Bouzam reported a strike on an apartment building.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was willing to intensify the country's military campaign against the Islamic militant group following their rejection of the proposed cease-fire.
"If Hamas rejects the Egyptian proposal and the rocket fire from Gaza does not cease, and that appears to be the case, we are prepared to continue and intensify our operation," Netanyahu said in a statement Tuesday.
Under the Egyptian plan, proposed late Monday, a 12-hour period of de-escalation was to begin at mid-morning Tuesday. Once both sides agree to halt hostilities, they would negotiate the terms of a longer-term truce.
But the armed wing of Hamas said the Egyptian plan "wasn't worth the ink it was written with." Reuters reported that a statement on the website of the al-Qassam Brigades called the proposal "an initiative of kneeling and submission" before vowing that "our battle with the enemy continues, and will increase in ferocity and intensity."
Word of Hamas' rejection of the cease-fire came hours after State Department officials told The Associated Press that Secretary of State John Kerry had opted not to travel to the region on his way back to Washington from talks regarding Iran's nuclear program in Vienna. There was no immediate word of whether Kerry would reconsider his decision in light of the cease-fire's rejection.
The militant group appeared to be holding out for better cease-fire conditions, with senior officials saying the current proposal offers no tangible achievements, particularly on easing a border blockade of Gaza enforced by Israel and Egypt.
Osama Hamdan, a key aide to top Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, told The Associated Press that Hamas has a series of demands, including the release of Hamas activists arrested by Israel in the West Bank in recent weeks. Hamas also wants to be recognized by Egypt as a partner in any truce efforts.
Another Hamas official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, sounded more conciliatory, saying internal consultations on the cease-fire proposal are continuing.
Hamas officials are weary of promises by Egypt and Israel to ease the border blockade. Such promises were also part of a truce that ended more than a week of fighting in 2012, but were quickly broken as violence flared again.
An easing of the blockade of the coastal strip is key to the survival of Hamas.
Before the outbreak of the latest round of fighting, the militant group found itself in a serious financial crisis because a particularly tight closure by Egypt had prevented cash and goods from coming into the strip through hundreds of smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border.
Israel launched an offensive July 8, saying it was a response to weeks of heavy rocket fire out of Hamas-ruled Gaza. The Health Ministry in Gaza claims 185 people have been killed, and more than 1,000 people wounded, though it is not clear how many of those casualties were civilians and how many of those were Hamas operatives.
There have been no Israelis killed, although several have been wounded by rocket shrapnel, including two sisters, ages 11 and 13, who were seriously hurt Monday. Ahead of the Egyptian announcement, there appeared to be no slowdown in the fighting, with Hamas for the first time launching an unmanned drone into Israeli airspace that was shot down.
The violence followed the kidnappings and killings of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank last month, as well as the subsequent kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian teenager in an apparent revenge attack, along with Israeli raids against Hamas militants and infrastructure in the West Bank.
Israeli officials have said the goal of the military campaign is to restore quiet to Israel's south, which has absorbed hundreds of rocket strikes, and that any cease-fire would have to include guarantees of an extended period of calm. Hamas officials say they will not accept "calm for calm."
With the death toll mounting, both sides have come under increasing international pressure to halt the fighting.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Monday, July 14, 2014
The Daily Caller 7/14/2014
By: Jamie Weinstein (Senior Editor)
Don’t believe everything you read — especially as it relates to Israel.
As Israel’s latest war with the Palestinian terror group Hamas continues with no clear end in sight, it’s worthwhile to debunk some of the myths that have been perpetuated about the conflict.
Myth 1.) The current conflict between Israel and Hamas is part of a “cycle of violence”
The media love to use language that projects evenhandedness, but the current conflict is not merely a tale of tit-for-tat. As others have noted, if Hamas unilaterally stopped attacking Israel, Israel would have no reason to attack Hamas. But if Israel unilaterally stopped attacking Hamas, Hamas would continue to attack Israel.
The difference lies in the stated goals of both entities. Israel was not founded to destroy Palestinian Arabs. If Hamas had no beef with Israel, Israel would be happy to go about its business creating one of the most remarkably innovative societies in the world.
Hamas, conversely, was founded upon a charter that not only calls for the destruction of Israel, but the murder of all Jews. Perhaps if Hamas had a more uplifting mission, Gaza would be a seaside paradise today instead of a hell hole.
Myth 2.) Hamas is attacking Israel because of Israel’s occupation of its territory
We can debate whether the phrase “occupied territory” applies in the West Bank — I think it’s pretty clear that “disputed territory” is more accurate — but it sure doesn’t apply to Gaza. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
Since then, Hamas won the most seats in a parliamentary election and ultimately kicked out the rival Fatah party from Gaza through force, before proceeding to turn Gaza into one big terror haven. Last month, Hamas and Fatah reconciled and came together in support of a unity government. Nonetheless, Hamas still effectively controls Gaza.
Myth 3.) The higher casualties on the Palestinian side prove Israel is the bad actor
This is idiocy.
It is true that far more Palestinians have been killed and injured than Israelis in the current conflict. But that’s because Israel, fortunately, is much stronger. There’s no doubt that if Hamas had the power Israel did, we would be witnessing a second Holocaust.
But we don’t judge what side is in the right and what side is in the wrong by a simple casualty count. In the 1991 Gulf War, for instance, America and its allied coalition took fewer than 500 casualties in battle compared to an estimated 20,000 or more it inflicted. Were the U.S. and its coalition allies therefore bad actors for taking action to reverse Iraqi aggression? Of course not.
Let’s be clear: Don’t think because Israel hasn’t taken many casualties, its population isn’t suffering. Well over half Israel’s population is within range of Hamas’ rockets and could, at any moment, be targeted. Israel’s Iron Dome missile shield is effective, but not full proof. There is no country that would tolerate that kind of constant threat to its civilian population.
Myth 4.) Israel is perpetrating a genocide
Perhaps the most ludicrous charge is that Israel is perpetuating a genocide against the Palestinians.
“It’s genocide. It’s called genocide,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said of Israel’s actions. “What can I say about Abu Khdeir? Shall we recall Auschwitz?” he added, referencing the brutal death of an Israeli Arab at the hands of Jewish extremists who have now been arrested by Israel.
Where to begin? First, it’s especially rich for Abbas to be referencing Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz since his PhD dissertation was chock full of Holocaust denial. But if Israel is perpetuating a genocide, it is the most inept genocide in world history.
Israel has the power to indiscriminately level entire Palestinian towns and villages if it so desired. But it hasn’t. In fact, Israel tries its best to avoid civilian casualties, which is the crucial difference between itself and the other side. Israel even warns Palestinian civilians to leave buildings it is about to target. No need to grab a history book: The Nazis never did that.67=
Unfortunately, Hamas has encouraged its own people to ignore the Israeli warnings and stay in the soon-to-be destroyed buildings. As grotesque as that sounds, it’s not surprising. Hamas has a long history of using civilians as human shields.
Friday, July 11, 2014
At the end of Operation Protective Edge's third day, PM states campaign to continue, expand; premier gives no indication of when, whether IDF will send ground troops in to Gaza Strip.
Binyamin Netanyahu speaks at the Knesset on Monday Photo: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu emerged from a marathon security cabinet meeting on Thursday at the end of Operation Protective Edge’s third day, saying the campaign would continue and expand.
Netanyahu issued a statement saying the operation was progressing as planned, and that “more stages were expected.” Hamas and the other terrorist organizations operating from the Gaza Strip had been hit hard by the IDF attacks, and would be hit even harder as the operation continued, he said.
One official said it was clear that what Israel might have accepted two weeks ago in terms of “quiet for quiet,” it would not accept now. Netanyahu, the official said, would not agree to a situation whereby yet another cease-fire would be declared, which Hamas would then take advantage of to “tend to its wounds” and restock missiles for the next round.
Barkat: Hamas rockets don’t discriminate The official refused to say what exactly Israel was demanding in order to halt the operation. Rather than having a grocery list of demands, Israel has parameters, one of which is ensuring Hamas will be unable to rearm after the campaign, which is aimed at severely depleting Hamas’s rocket stockpile and degrading its ability to manufacture projectiles.
While neither Netanyahu nor Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon nor IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz gave any indication of a decision being made to commit ground troops, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared Thursday that Israel was about to launch a ground operation.
He called for an unconditional cease-fire, saying that all his efforts to end the violence had failed.
Abbas claimed that the government had already approved a ground operation, which – he added – would begin in the coming hours late Thursday evening.
He pointed out that the IDF had asked Palestinians living close to the border with Israel to leave their homes and move deeper into the Gaza Strip.
Abbas told residents of east Jerusalem who visited him in his office in Ramallah that Israel was seeking to expel Palestinians from their lands and homes.
“But we say to them that we’re not leaving,” he said. “We don’t have weapons, but we will remain steadfast and fight with words. If Israel has missiles and weapons, this doesn’t mean that we will surrender. We will fight in a civilized way that disturbs others.”
The two sides should agree to an unconditional truce, Abbas added. “The most important thing now is to avoid bloodshed,” he said. “The Egyptians have held contacts with the two sides, but these efforts have unfortunately failed.”
Abbas said he spoke with American officials and demanded that Israel halt its military operations unilaterally so that he could persuade Hamas to stop its attacks. These efforts also failed to end the fighting, he said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who earlier this week broke with Netanyahu partly over his unhappiness that the prime minister was not responding more forcefully to the rocket fire from Gaza, cited that restraint positively in a letter sent on Thursday to his colleagues from around the world.
The letter, part of Israel’s diplomatic campaign to garner understanding and support for Operative Protective Edge, said that since the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens on June 12, Hamas has fired nearly 300 rockets at Israeli cities, “putting millions of Israeli lives at risk. Families have been forced into shelters, summer camps for children closed, and all normal daily activities have been impacted.
This is unacceptable.”
Israel, said Liberman, who has advocated taking over Gaza, has “shown great restraint prior to this operation. Our intention was to restore the calm without a major military operation.
However, Israel’s repeated efforts to achieve calm were met with increased rocket fire by what is becoming a Hamas terrorist state.”
As part of the effort to explain Israel’s actions, Netanyahu continued speaking with world leaders on Thursday, holding a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The prime minister, his office said, told Putin that Hamas was hiding behind civilians, and was responsible if they were unintentionally harmed.
During a meeting Netanyahu held with the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Thursday, he was asked why the government did not cut off Gaza’s water and electricity, and replied that Israel could not take measures like “the Russians did to the Chechens.”
Over the past two days, Netanyahu has also spoken to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, British Prime Minister David Cameron and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
The purpose of these conversations, one official said, was to create an atmosphere of understanding for what Israel was doing. For the most part, he said, that understanding exists in the West, though that atmosphere could change as the media broadcast more and more pictures of casualties in Gaza.
Liberman, in his letter, said Hamas “is a recognized terror organization... motivated by the most radical ideology, including a charter that calls for the murder of all Jews. Hamas is responsible for 80 suicide bombers that have killed nearly 1,000 Israeli civilians.”
This group, he wrote, “seeks to establish an Islamist state characterized by human rights violations, violent repression of minorities, women and non-Muslims.” He called on the PA government to immediately dissolve its partnership with Hamas, and on the international community to “take action to dismantle the Hamas terrorist infrastructure” and to “demonstrate understanding for Israel to exercise its legitimate right to self-defense.”
As part of the campaign to explain Israel’s position to the world, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi held a briefing for foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel.