Wednesday, July 23, 2014

23-Jul-14: Clipped wings and foreign policy [UPDATE]

Ben Gurion Airport arrivals hall on better days
The US Federal Aviation Administration announced in the past hour (Wednesday midday) that U.S. carriers remain banned from flying to and from Tel Aviv for at least another day. They declined to lift Tuesday's suspension of flights between Israel and the US. That decision prohibited US carriers from flying to or from Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv for up to 24 hours, by reason of "the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza."

Two US airlines - Delta and American - were reported earlier in the day to have independently decided to extend their suspension of flights beyond the initial 24 hours announced Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal, in a story posted at noon, Eastern time, today, says the suspension now remains in effect for the rest of today.

Delta's chief executive is quoted saying its decision yesterday
to divert its Tel Aviv-bound flight to Paris on Tuesday was made independent of the Federal Aviation Administration's later 24-hour ban on U.S. flights to that airport. A rocket strike occurred quite close to the Ben Gurion Airport, so Delta proactively diverted its Boeing 747 to Paris, the company said. In light of the FAA's notice Tuesday, Mr. Anderson said Delta also will refrain from restarting flights Wednesday. Even if the FAA lifts the ban... Delta may decide not to go back in, depending on the circumstances and the private information it receives from governments around the world and the U.S. government. "We have an obligation to make our own risk assessments," he said... Delta also has a "very dynamic process" to assess which routes to fly internationally." [WSJ]
How dynamic? It appears Delta has its own "no fly zones" over such places as Syria, Iran, Iraq, Ukraine and Afghanistan. Notwithstanding, Delta flights were still flying over Iraq and Syria en route to Dubai recently (says WSJ) and might still be. Its Amsterdam-Mumbai flights often fly over Ukraine. Asked about these seeming anomalies, Delta's CEO said today that his airline
"makes those kinds of changes regularly" in its 24-hour operations center. "Just like yesterday morning we decided to turn the Tel Aviv flight around because of the rocket," he said. [WSJ]
At American, they are say today
"If the FAA approves, we plan to resume service" on Thursday... "We remain in contract with the FAA and continue to monitor the situation."
Other airlines:
  • At least 22 non-Israeli airlines are maintaining their scheduled flights. They include British Airways, Aeroflot and Ukrainian Airlines. Overall Ben-Gurion Airport expects 209 flights today [USA Today]
  • From checking, we think these airlines (among others) are still operating their Israel flights: Alitalia, EasyJet, Iberia, Aegean, Czech, British Airways 
  • LOT, from Poland, said it was cancelling all flights from today until Monday. "This is caused by the tense situation in the region," they said in a published statement.
  • Lufthansa and its affiliates Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss and Brussels Airlines have extended their suspension for a second 24 hours [Jerusalem Post].
  • US Airways Flight 796 from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv is now canceled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday "in response to security concerns" the airline announced. [USA Today]
  • Other airlines that have cancelled their flights (from our own checking) include: Royal Jordanian, Turkish, Pegasus (Turkey).
John Kerry, the US Secretary of State is here in Israel. The security situation at Ben Gurion did not prevent him from flying in at the start of the day. Is there a connection between his efforts and the FAA decision? Maybe.

UPDATE Thursday 06:00 am Jerusalem time:  FAA Lifts Flight Restrictions for Ben Gurion International Airport (FAA Statement). Now waiting to see what the Europeans and Delta do.

23-Jul-14: Flying solo, yet again

Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv [Image Source]
Israelis, deeply engaged in fighting a no-holds-barred enemy that turns its own children into human shields for its armed men who take aim at our children, is waking up to an unwelcome new/old reality this morning:
Airlines in the United States and Europe suspended flights to and from Israel on Tuesday after a rocket fell about a mile from Ben-Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv. Major airlines canceled service — and in several cases, diverted planes in midflight — after the Federal Aviation Administration instructed American carriers not to fly to Israel for 24 hours because of the “potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza.” The disruption of air travel at the height of the summer tourism season highlighted the growing impact of the conflict in the Gaza Strip on the Israeli economy, even as the government sought to project an aura of business as usual. [New York Times, July 22, 2014]
Who is flying into Israel today? GLOBES, the Israeli business newspaper, says only the three Israeli airlines:  El Al Israel Airlines, Arkia and Israir. It's worth keeping in mind for future reference.

Times of Israel's report points out the dichotomy of views behind the decision:
Israel called American carriers to assure them there was no security problem for take-offs and landings. US Secretary of State John Kerry told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the ban was ordered only to protect the safety and security of US citizens.
The flight advisory board at Ben Gurion at this moment
[Source]
Safety and security are certainly vital concerns. Israelis share them, but wonder whether the US entirely understands that
most of the rockets fired at the Tel Aviv area by militants had been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome antimissile system. Ephraim Sneh, a retired general and deputy defense minister of Israel, was sharply critical of the decision to suspend flights. It was a dream of the militant Hamas leadership “to disconnect Israel from the outer world,” he told reporters... [New York Times, July 22, 2014]
As a Jerusalem Post article this morning points out ["El Al says there is 'no chance' it will cancel flights to, from Israel"], the major Israel-based carriers El Al and Arkia will keep serving travelers to and from Israel, of course. They did the same the last time a host of foreign operators suddenly cancelled all of their Israel-bound flights in 1991 as Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces made a previous missile-driven assault on Israel.

There's something sadly familiar to Israelis and their supporters at the sight of fair-weather friends crumbling on cue: that's you Delta, United, US Airways, Lufthansa, Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss, Air France among many others.

Yet another reminder, even in these times of a global village and universal brotherhood, of what Jewish experience has taught us [see "A nation that dwells alone"].

23-Jul-14: Parliamentary question

A thought about David Ward, MP for Bradford East in the UK Parliament:
Source
Or to put that another way: 
"The big question is, if David Ward MP, a politician who evidently understands angry Islamists, had the chance to do so, would he dispatch a young religious fanatic with a bag full of explosives into a restaurant filled with women and children in order to have him explode there and kill and maim as many as possible of the Israelis around him? Probably yes."
Does he even understand what Hamas stands for? We're ready to give him some first-hand guidance

What are reasonable people to make of the thundering silence from his Liberal Democrat colleagues? And from his fellow Parliamentarians? What are his constituents saying about him in Bradford East tonight? Is this something we ought to examine? Does anyone care to know?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

22-Jul-14: Polite suggestion to Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson: Some background on those very generous Qataris

Newsweek a few hours ago on a judgement-call many would see as bordering on the bizarre:
The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, is flying to the Middle East, on a trip to promote a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, in a private jet financed by Qatar, the chief ally of the Gaza-based terror group.
Ban began his tour of regional Middle East capitals in Doha, Qatar, where he landed Sunday to denounce what he called the “appalling” operation that Israel conducted over the weekend in the neighborhood of Sajaiya, near Gaza City. It was the first time in two weeks that Ban did not mention rocket or other attacks against Israelis, which Jerusalem cites as its reason for entering Gaza. Ban was in Cairo Monday, and was scheduled to visit Jerusalem and Ramallah Tuesday.
When asked about Ban’s travel arrangements, his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said on Monday, “It was the Qatari government [that] very generously chartered a plane for the secretary general to enable him to go about his visit." Speaking to reporters from Cairo, Dujarric added, "This is not the kind of visit he could do if he was not flying on a private plane.”
Qatar, an absolute monarchy whose affairs are conducted in accordance with the "strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam" is frequently said to have the character of a family business controlled by one family, the Al Thanisas much as it has the nature of a state. The Democracy Index describes Qatar as an "authoritarian regime" with a score of 3.18 out of ten, putting it 138th out of the 167 countries covered. It's also the home of Al JazeeraAnd did we mention that, by reason of being located on top of vast deposits of oil and gas, it is the wealthiest state in the world per capita? 

Finally, a memo to Mr Ban's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric: In order to avoid any potentially unpleasant encounters with the media today, you might find some helpful background in these three sources: "Qatar’s ceasefire offer adopts most Hamas demands" [Times of Israel, July 19, 2014]; "Qatar and Hamas: A dangerous link" [Yisrael Hayom, July 21, 2014]; "How the Middle East has gone cool towards Qatar" [BBC, March 10, 2014]. 

You're welcome.

22-Jul-14: Shooting attack in Shomron

Against the ongoing drama in and from Gaza and a call Sunday by a prominent Hamas figure, former Interior Minister Fathi Hammad, calling on Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank to attack Israeli targets to show support for the “resistance” in Gaza, an Israeli man has been shot by a gunman in a passing vehicle in the vicinity of Rehelim Junction in the Samaria district overnight. The man, reported [Times of Israel] is wounded and now being treated for his injuries at Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva. He is about 25 (but this Hebrew report says 19). Ynet describes him as being in serious condition. IDF forces were searching the area for the perpetrator.

Monday, July 21, 2014

21-Jul-14: For Hamas' friends, accusing Israelis of genocidal massacres is far easier than confronting complex realities

Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal ping-pongs in his safe luxury villa
far from Gaza where phone calls from the IDF in the middle of
the night are of no concern. [Image Source] Since he surely
authorized the release of this photo, what message was he aiming to
send to his own people?
After receiving just one-too-many hostile emails and Tweets from supporters of the Palestinian Arab cause this morning, and being lectured about how Israel engages in racism, the massacre of innocents and genocide, it's good for the soul to refer to an article called "The moral edge" by Reuven Ben-Shalom that was published in the Jerusalem Post on July 17, 2014. It's behind the Post's premium firewall, so here's a taste:
‘This is the Israeli army calling. Am I speaking to Bassem?” The officer spoke Arabic slowly and clearly, using an impeccable Gaza dialect. “Yes,” came the answer.
“Listen to me carefully, Bassem. You have five minutes to evacuate your house because we are going to bomb it. Do you understand?”
The caller was assertive, not aggressive, and his voice was empathetic, even compassionate.
When I asked him about this later, he answered: “They are human beings. My job is to do everything I can to save them...”
“Count them. Each and every one of them,” the commander ordered, a tense expression on his face. “Are they all out?” Someone gave the number and confirmed that the procedure had been completed, but then a major intervened: “Let’s verify this again. If we can save even one person, it’s worth it.
Readers might be interested in this live, actual recording of how those phone calls to the Arabs of Gaza work.

The author says he spent a long night in the IDF's “ping-on-the-roof” cell
where targets were being attacked after a meticulous process of verification aimed at getting uninvolved civilians out of harm’s way, including phone calls, and warning shots to the roof, before dropping the bomb. As Operation Protective Edge unfolded, I visited the operational nerve center of the Air Force. My objective was to discover the organizational culture, the operational atmosphere and the spirit of the airmen. As a reserve lieutenant-colonel, I received official approval, on condition that I strictly follow operational security regulations and comply with requested omissions. Naturally, not all of my experiences can, or ever will, be revealed, but those described are true and accurate.
The writer, who did his military service as an air force pilot, ends on this thoughtful note:
Everyone knows that the military’s goal in asymmetric warfare is not to win a decisive victory, but to bring about a reality which will enable the political echelons to shape the strategic environment. The Israel Air Force is a key component of Israel’s defensive and offensive capabilities. It is an incredibly lethal war machine, but at its core are the most dedicated, professional and morally driven group of people I have ever met.
In the same vein, the IDF released video footage this morning ["Evidence of Hamas Shooting from Within Homes"] of the ethical heights from which our enemy, the jihadists of Gaza, operate:



When you're a jihadist, there are no red lines.

20-Jul-14: UNRWA: The jihadists' willing executioners

UNRWA claims the moral high ground on July 17 before slithering back
to its customary lair [Image Source]
The transparent hypocrisy of the decision by UNRWA to call in the media and report on Hamas rockets stored in one of its Gaza schools has become manifest in light of what followed.

Times of Israel reports:
The United Nations agency that last week found rockets in a Gaza school operating under its auspices has handed that weaponry over to Hamas, Israeli officials said Sunday, accusing the organization of actively helping the terrorist organization potentially attack Israeli civilians. “The rockets were passed on to the government authorities in Gaza, which is Hamas. In other words, UNRWA handed to Hamas rockets that could well be shot at Israel,” a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel. A different senior official said UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, charged with overseeing humanitarian efforts in Gaza, has been suffering from “battered-wife syndrome” for years and currently “attempts to ingratiate itself with Hamas.” A spokesperson for UNRWA said the organization gave the rockets to “local authorities,” which answer to the Hamas-backed unity government led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. 
UNRWA's actions are breathtaking in their brazenness: first claiming the high moral ground by announcing the "discovery" of the lethal stash and condemning “the group or groups responsible for placing the weapons in one of its installations. This is a flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law...” And then a day later, after the media move on, handing the arsenal over to the men who put it there and who will certainly have fired off those explosive rockets in pursuit of their jihadist lust.
And all the while duplicitously playing the role of "know-nothing" innocent, mere victims of other people's malevolence.

(Whenever we have managed to persuade people to click "UNRWA" in order to read some of the previous posts about the evil done by this unique body, even the best-informed of them come back and admit they were taken by surprise. UNRWA's existence, structure, funding, modus operandi and ethos are poorly understood.)

The lethally shabby role played by UNRWA and its management team in the past decade (especially) is worthy of a widespread journalistic expose that no one expects will ever happen.

21-Jul-14: War, civilians, children: what the terrorists of Hamas can teach us

A Gaza rooftop, yesterday. We added the word "Child" to the photo. [Image Source: IDF]
The image above was posted by the IDF overnight. The caption reads: "After we fired a warning shot at this target, Hamas ordered civilians to form a human shield on the roof." We assume every one of the men and boys in yesterday's snapshot is alive today. We also assume some of the injured and killed IDF servicemen owe their fate to the IDF's moral standpoint and unwillingness to unnecessarily endanger the lives of non-combatants.

Five minutes before posting this item, we saw a Haaretz report that says: "8:46 A.M. Palestinian militants infiltrate Kibbutz Nir-Am, a gunbattle is raging in the area". The war-front, for Israelis, is our homes. [UPDATE 9:10 am: INN reports that six of nine terrorists who penetrated the kibbutz have been eliminated.]

Unarmed civilians play a central role in the Hamas doctrine of war. The delicacy and political-correctness of mainstream foreign reporters will rarely tackle the issue, but it's a reality that has long played a role in the jihadist assault on those they perceive to be their enemies.

The overt use of civilian human shields by the Hamas forces is as eloquent a statement as any academic essay could be about the ethical values that underpin Islamist society and their views about others. The photo above is emblematic of the moral dilemmas confronting Israel as it seeks to stop the wave of Hamas rockets and infiltrations. Hamas, directed by men safely hidden away in luxury hotels in Cairo, Qatar and elsewhere, self-evidently views its own unarmed civilians as being as expendable and destroyable as the civilians on our side.

The Hamas view of children - theirs, ours and yours - also speaks for itself. The evil they embody is of Biblical proportions. So too is the deadly ignorance and confusion this sows among large segments of the onlooking and bewildered Western public.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

20-Jul-14: A word-free explanation of how it feels for Israelis

20-Jul-14: In Egypt's media, suddenly a falling away of the customary solidarity with Palestinian Arabs

Tawfik Okasha, Egyptian TV current affairs commentator [Image Source]
It's now 5:30 pm Sunday in Israel. Israeli communities right across the south have been taking a painful rocket-pounding in the past half-hour following a day in which the IDF has been engaged in fierce fighting on the ground in Gaza City's suburbs.

Since 5:00 pm, the IDF's Iron Dome intercepted 4 rockets over Ashkelon, and Tzeva Adom incoming-rocket sirens blared in Beersheba, Ofakim, the Hof Ashkelon region and Netivot [Times of Israel].

Against this turbulent background, here's an eye-popping analysis published today that lloks at how the fighting between Hamas and the IDF is perceived in one of the world's most complex and important Arab media markets. It comes from AFP, the French international news agency, and from the France24 global television news channel.

Egyptian media applauds Israel’s Gaza offensive 
AFP | France24 | Text by Boualem RHOUBACHI | Latest update : 2014-07-20

Since the beginning of Israel’s offensive in Gaza, much of the Egyptian media has laid the blame squarely on the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the tiny Palestinian enclave. Some journalists have even said that all Palestinians are to blame for their current plight.

Israel’s escalating attack on the Gaza Strip has triggered worldwide debate. Egypt is no exception. But there is little of the traditional Arab solidarity towards Palestinians to be found in the Egyptian media.

Adel Nehaman, a columnist for the Egyptian daily El-Watan, said bluntly: "Sorry Gazans, I cannot support you until you rid yourselves of Hamas."

Azza Sami, a writer for government daily Al-Ahram, went so far as to congratulate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Twitter: "Thank you Netanyahu, and God give us more men like you to destroy Hamas!"

Star presenter of the Al-Faraeen TV channel, Tawfik Okasha, an ardent supporter of Egypt’s military regime and known for his firm stance against the ousted Muslim Brotherhood, attacked the entire Palestinian population live on air. “Gazans are not men,” he declared. “If they were men they would revolt against Hamas.”

His broadcast was even picked up by Israeli TV to demonstrate Egyptian support for Israel.

Why the hatred of Hamas?

The hostility of these journalists is part and parcel of the movement that saw democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi removed from power in a military coup in 2013. They are now applying the same logic behind the ouster of Morsi, who was the favoured candidate of the now-censured Muslim Brotherhood, to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

In 2013, a significant chunk of the Egyptian media called for the Muslim Brotherhood’s “liquidation”. That same sentiment is now applauding Israel’s efforts to disarm Hamas, originally the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch. These Egyptian journalists link Hamas to ongoing violence in the Sinai Peninsula where in the last 12 months, armed Islamist groups have attacked Egyptian security forces on an almost daily basis.

Egypt’s current rulers insist that the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are behind these attacks (even though other groups, such as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and Ajnad Misr regularly claim responsibility).

Much of Egypt’s media toes the government line. They see the neutralisation of Hamas as crucial to winning Egypt’s undeclared war in the Sinai Peninsula. They don’t hesitate to criticise Hamas and Palestinians generally, who they hold in contempt for failing to revolt against their Islamist leaders as Egyptians did in 2013.

Some Egyptian journalists are shocked by this stance. Tarek Saad Eddin, deputy editor of Al-Musawar magazine, told FRANCE 24’s Arabic service: “These people are part of a media that takes its orders straight from the government. They have claimed that it was Hamas that was responsible for killing protesters in Tahrir Square during the 2011 revolution [which saw unpopular former president Hosni Mubarak removed from power]. But going so far as to criticise all Gazans is appallingly wide of the mark.”

Media campaigns against an entire nationality are not unprecedented in Egypt. In the aftermath of Morsi’s ouster in the summer of 2013, Syrians were targeted.

Tawfik Okasha accused all Syrian refugees in Egypt of being supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the wider media onslaught resulted in violent attacks on Syrian refugees on the streets of Cairo.

There are 80,000 Palestinian refugees living in Egypt. Many of them fear an escalation in anti-Palestinian rhetoric.

Not all Egyptians are hostile to their besieged Arab neighbours. There have been demonstrations against Israel’s attack on Gaza in Cairo and Alexandria in recent days, but these only attracted a few thousand people at the most.

A group of young Egyptian activists, mostly linked to far-left groups, also organised a solidarity convoy to the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza. The group was turned back by the Egyptian army and sent back to Cairo.

Beyond this very small minority of pro-Palestinian militants, Egyptians are broadly unsympathetic to the plight of their Gazan neighbours. Hosni Mubarak fostered a general distrust of Palestinians for years. It hasn’t gone away.

20-Jul-14: Hamas rocket devastates Israeli family, kills father

Zero red lines: Rocket men in Gaza fire at anything Israeli
The constant indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza continues, and exacted a human life during Saturday afternoon.

Jerusalem Post says an Israeli died after sustaining critical injuries from a rocket attack near Dimona. Four other people, including two young children, were injured in the same attack and are undergoing hospital treatment for their injuries. One, a three-month-old baby, is in critical condition; another appears (to us) to be her mother and the widow of the dead man. Times of Israel names the dead victim as a 32-year-old man from a Bedouin community near Dimona, Ouda Lafi al-Waj, and explains
Since many Bedouin communities are unrecognized by the government, many basic services are not provided to them. They are also not protected by Iron Dome, which registers their homes as “open areas” and allows rockets to fall there without attempting interception.
Maan, the Palestinian news agency, says the dead man was killed by a rocket that fell short of its real target (if that's an expression that can fairly be used in a war in which rockets by the hundred are simply flung into the air by the jihadists in the general direction of something Israeli.) The Negev desert city of Dimona is home to an Israeli nuclear reactor and there is constant speculation that Hamas is making efforts to hit the reactor, among various other "quality" targets.

The Maan report says Al-Waj lived in
Qasr al-Sir, an unrecognized Bedouin village in southern Israel with a population of around 1,000. Israeli medical sources said that the injured included a 4-month-old baby girl in serious condition as well as a 5-year-old boy and a woman in her 30s with light injuries. The injured appeared to all be members of the same family.
On Tuesday, Dror Khenin, 37, was killed near the Erez border crossing with the Gaza Strip. He was hit by a mortar launched by Gaza terrorists and rushed to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon but died there of his wounds. Khenin was a volunteer who had come to distribute food to soldiers posted to the area.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

19-Jul-14: Where does it end?

Taking shelter from Gazan rocket attack in
Israeli community of Nitzan [Image Source]
Just received this note from a warm and supportive friend in Melbourne:
​you, your family and nation and all innocents in our thoughts
where if ever does it end
Our reply:
It's not going to peter out - not now, not ever. If powerful, weapons-enhanced hatred is going to be brought to an end, that will be only because it was stopped by those who oppose them. Head-in-the-sand optimism surely is not going to do it.
What you can say about the current battle in this ongoing war is that the ideological lunatics of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have succeeded in unifying Israel's fractious society around the idea that this has been forced onto us, and that sending thousands of our sons down south to stop the rockets and the men who fire them is simply unavoidable. And so too the deaths of innocents which are the inevitable consequence of the campaign of jihad.
Everyone, I can tell you, wishes there were a different way to look at this but there plainly is not.

19-Jul-14: In case anyone is still thinking of holidaying in Turkey

Tayyip Recep Erdogan, a politician who understands
the Nazis [Image Source]
In the wake of violent demonstrations outside Israel's embassy in Ankara and its consulate in Istanbul on Thursday [see "18-Jul-14: Before holidaying in Turkey, some messages to bear in mind"], Israel's Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning today to Israeli citizens against nonessential travel to Turkey.
“Given the public atmosphere in Turkey in light of Operation Protective Edge, we are honing our recommendation to avoid visits to the state that are not essential..." [source]
Israel also took the decision yesterday [says Reuters] to order the return of its diplomats' families and reducing the staffing at its Turkish diplomatic posts to a minimum.

Underlining the danger of those anti-Israel mobs and the inflammatory role played by Turkey's current political echelon, here's an extract from a syndicated AP report published this afternoon under the unambiguous headline "ERDOGAN SAYS ISRAEL MORE BARBARIC THAN HITLER":
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Israel of "barbarism that surpasses Hitler" during its ground invasion of Gaza. Erdogan made the comment during a campaign speech Saturday in the Black Sea port city of Ordu. He is running for the presidency in elections next month. He has been speaking out strongly against Israel during its offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza, which has killed more than 300 Palestinians. He accuses Israel of using disproportionate force and has said the operation there has derailed efforts to normalize Turkish-Israeli ties. Those soured after Israel's 2010 raid on an aid ship which killed eight Turks and a Turkish-American...
The cheap demagoguery of Turkey's chief politician is something we hope is not quickly forgotten by the many - here and in other countries - with future holiday plans in mind.

Friday, July 18, 2014

18-Jul-14: Before holidaying in Turkey, some messages to bear in mind

Israeli consulate in Turkey under assault last night [Image Source]
We happen to have warm feelings for the Turks and their gorgeous country. But it is impossible to ignore some of the very ugly events unfolding there.

Bulent Yildirim, a lawyer, is the head of a large Turkish not-for-profit organization that provides humanitarian relief in Libya, Pakistan,, Russia, China, Kashmir, Darfur, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Somalia, Mauritania, Chile, the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, Greece, Crimea and Haiti. Speaking in the wake of the IDF's measures against the Gaza regime, he says (as quoted in Algemeiner.com today):
“Turkish Jews will pay dearly” for Israel’s actions... “Israel is acting like a spoiled child... Jewish tourists, don’t dare come to Turkey. Tonight and tomorrow we are going to hold a different kind of protest, we do not have patience anymore... The Zionists are putting the future of the Jews in danger, we can not hold our youngsters anymore”...
The organization at the head of which Yildirim stands is called IHH. It took a prominent role in the news some years back: see "28-May-10: Who's behind those "humanitarian" Gaza-bound ships?" and "4-Oct-12: With humanitarians like these, who needs militant barbarians? Revisiting the Mavi Marmara".

Other voices in Turkey need to be heard in these challenging days. For instance, that of İbrahim Melih Gökçek, another lawyer who has served as mayor of Ankara (population 4.6 million) for two decades, tweeting about the consulate of Israel (see photo above):
“It will be taken… The despicable murderers’ Consulate has to be kicked out of Turkey. We do not want an Embassy in Turkey of the murderers!”
The price of discount flights from Israel to Turkey
may yet fall further 
Another of the mayor's tweets this morning describes Israel as "one hundred times worse than Hitler". There's a context to this: Wikipedia quotes him publicly praising Hitler on earlier occasions.

Two days ago, as Algemeiner.com notes, Yeni Akit, a local newspaper affiliated with Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called on Turkey's Jewish community to apologize for "the casualties of Israel’s operation in Gaza".
In an open letter to Turkey’s chief rabbi, correspondent Faruk Köse wrote, “You have lived comfortably among us for 500 years and gotten rich at our expense. Is this your gratitude – killing Muslims? Erdogan, demand that the community leader apologize!”
We expect the ancient Jewish community of Turkey will be drawing conclusions. How about the tourists?

18-Jul-14: Moral clarity and the obligations it imposes

One of the thousand-plus rockets fired at Israel from
deep within residential neighbourhoods of Gaza this week
[Image Source: AP]
Moral clarity in Gaza
Charles Krauthammer | Washington Post | July 17, 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.”

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.

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

17-Jul-14: Enough! With rockets still flying into Israel, Israeli forces now operating within Gaza

[Image Source]
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya’alon have ordered IDF ground troops into the Gaza Strip to destroy Hamas’s terror tunnels. The announcement appears throughout the media [here, for instance].

On Israel's television stations, the live images of the skies over Gaza are being viewed in most homes at this hour.

Our overwhelming sense of public opinion here is (a) a great pity that this had to be done (b) virtually the entire spectrum of political views within Israel accept the inevitability of what is now underway.

Thursday has been a day of drama and danger for all Israelis. It began with the discovery - and then elimination - of a large scale infiltration attempt near Kibbutz Sufa close to the Gaza border. This time (after two previous efforts, one from the sea near Kibbutz Zikim, the other a tunnel near the Kerem Shalom crossing) some 13 armed terrorists emerged from a tunnel around dawn [video here], and were spotted and then bombed. The thwarted goals of the terrorists can be guessed at.

UNRWA, evidently under considerable pressure from certain sources, owned up earlier today to the fact that one of its school buildings in Gaza had become a store for some 20 Hamas rockets [UNRWA announcement]. To anyone following the work of UNRWA this is no great surprise, other than for the admission. Hamas routinely, for years, has stored its weapons inside UNRWA facilities. And beyond mere storage it has placed its rocket launchers inside mosques, schools, hospitals - an extension of its tried and proven strategy of deploying human shields.

Meanwhile those rockets have kept coming, Tzeva Adom sirens have been heard in cities all over Israel all day, and Israel has finally declared enough, no more. In the IDF's words:
A large IDF force of infantry, tanks, artillery, combat engineers, and field intelligence is entering the Gaza Strip. The force is supported by the Israel Air Force, Navy, and other Israeli security agencies. Their mission is to target Hamas’ tunnels that cross under the Israel-Gaza border and enable terrorists to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks. Such a goal requires intensive and precise operations inside Gaza. Hamas terrorists are operating underground, and that is where the IDF will meet them. The IDF intends to impair Hamas’ capability to attack Israel. Hamas fires rockets at Israelis around the clock – 1,500 since July 8. The IDF is operating in order to counter this threat.
We pray that the efforts of the IDF's service men and women in and on Gaza be executed with great effect, at minimum cost and quickly.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

16-Jul-14: The jihadists of Hamas want this battle to go on though it's going disastrously for them. Why?

Hamas political head Khaled Mashaal in his luxurious (and safe) Gulf state boudoir [Image Source]
The Washington Post's editorial board ask the question that troubles many Israelis as the IDF continues to pound the Gaza Strip and as the jihadists fire more and more of the thousands of rockets stored in their repositories deep within the civilian infrastructure of their cities:
Hamas’s military campaign against Israel has been a dismal failure... [so] why would Hamas insist on continuing the fight when it is faring so poorly? 
In "Hamas is playing a dangerous game with Gazan lives | The Post's View", published yesterday, they offer an answer. They say it's the only one that's plausible. They term it "stomach-turning"; most people would agree:
The Islamic movement calculates that it can win the concessions it has yet to obtain from Israel and Egypt not by striking Israel but by perpetuating the killing of its own people in Israeli counterattacks. More than 200 people, including a number of children, have already died in Gaza; Hamas probably calculates that more deaths will prompt Western governments to pressure Israel to grant Hamas’s demands.
The Washington Post editorial then takes a look at Israel's military values:
To its credit, Israel has used sophisticated technology, including targeted text messages and dummy warning missiles, to minimize civilian casualties. But innocent people will inevitably be killed in attacks on launchers and missile factories that are purposely placed in densely populated areas.
Whether that credit means anything or not, Israelis are now in the ninth wearying and frightening day of running to shelters, cleaning up the damage and worrying about children deployed at Gaza's gates awaiting orders. With each day, it becomes clearer that there's a limit to the patience of a population under fire and possessed of the technology and military power to carpet bomb the murder-minded zealots on the other side of the fence.

But try explaining that to a Hamas leadership the key members of which are hiding out in comfortable, air-conditioned Qatar and other Gulf state locations, and in bunkers buried safely and deeply below Gaza's mosques and hospitals.

16-Jul-14: Nothing says contempt for Palestinian Arabs better than what this map shows

Rocket launched from a Gaza
neighbourhood in 2013
We have routinely referred in these posts over the years to a little-reported phenomenon we call "Fell Shorts": rockets which are launched by the terrorists of the Gaza Strip that crash and explode inside the Gaza Strip, sometimes killing Palestinian Arabs, often doing damage to homes.

They happen all the time, and the price they exact is politely ignored or hidden by reporters working the Gaza Strip because that's what Hamas wants. A more eloquent statement of the utter contempt of Hamas leaders of their own people would be hard to imagine. That, more than the imbalance of resources on the two sides, is what makes this an asymmetrical war.

The graphic below comes from the IDF. They don't have the Hamas problem of being reluctant to expose what the terrorists do to their own.

By the way, don't wait for the editors at The Guardian, El Pais, the New York Times or CNN to focus attention on these self-inflicted casualties. We'll leave it to readers to figure out why.


16-Jul-14: Looking behind the jihadists' public relations

Gilbert and images of arch-terrorist Mahmoud
Zahar [Image Source]
Sometimes, just understanding how the news channels source their news, which voices they reject and on whose they rely helps discerning consumers of news reports understand why things come out as distorted and inaccurate as they frequently are. And especially so - for a long list of reasons - in everything related to the news reporting around the conflict between the Arabs and Israel.

We reprint in full below an essay by Ben Cohen in Commentary Magazine, published in the past few hours, and focusing on a specific individual whose role in shaping the transmission of the jihadist narrative on its journey into Western minds has been significant for years. Understanding not only Mads Gilbert but the enthusiasm of professional journalists to swallow his claims wholesale and uncritically is something we on the anti-terrorism side need to understand better so that it can get the exposure it deserves.


A Maoist in Gaza
Ben Cohen | Commentary Magazine | July 15, 2014
Source: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/07/15/a-maoist-in-gaza/

Despite the flurry of reports from Gaza today, very few news outlets picked up on Hamas’s declaration that it had closed the Erez border crossing into Israel, citing “Israeli shelling” as the reason for doing so. The move, reported AFP, left stranded a group of Palestinians who had arrived at Erez early in the morning, “some of whom were scheduled to enter Israel for cancer treatment.”

Sadly, these patients may have to wait a while before attempting the journey again, as Hamas subsequently announced that the border crossing will remain closed until it receives an “international guarantee that the crossing, and the route between the two sides of the crossing, will not be bombed by Israel.” In the interim, their other option is to ascertain whether Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor currently in Gaza City, is willing to take time out of his busy media schedule to assist them.

Over the last couple of days, Gilbert has become an unofficial spokesman for the Hamas regime, giving interviews like this one in which he accused Israel of “deliberately” targeting civilians, “particularly women and children.” Pro-Palestinian activists on social media platforms have been eagerly reporting Gilbert’s every move, lauding him with such terms as “hero” and “great humanitarian.” Among Gilbert’s admirers is Chris Gunness, the spokesman for UNRWA, the UN agency devoted exclusively to Palestinian refugees, who repeatedly tweeted the doctor’s email address and cell phone number, describing him as a “brilliant interviewee” on the “impact of the conflict on civilians.”

One does not, however, have to dig very deep to discover that the halo effect around Gilbert masks some very disturbing affiliations. To begin with, Gilbert is an active member of Norway’s Red Party, a Maoist organization formed in 2007, which begs the question as to how someone who perpetuates the ideology of a tyrant who murdered 45 million of his own people over four years can be described as a “humanitarian.”

Nor does Gilbert have a track record of helping anyone other than the Palestinians; as the journalist Benjamin Weinthal revealed on Twitter, his emails and phone calls to Gilbert asking the doctor why he wasn’t treating victims of the slaughter in Syria were met with silence.

Gilbert’s reputation is derived not from his medical work, but from his frequent verbal assaults on Israel and the United States, which stretch back to the early 1980s, when he became active in Palestinian solidarity work. As the Israeli watchdog NGO Monitor pointed out in a statement urging media organizations to treat Gilbert’s comments on Gaza with extreme caution, a few days after the al-Qaeda atrocities of September 11, 2001, Gilbert gave an interview to the Norwegian daily Dagbladet in which he stated, “The oppressed also have a moral right to attack the USA with any weapon they can come up with.” Chairman Mao himself couldn’t have put it better.

None of this has eroded Gilbert’s celebrity; arguably, it’s enhanced it. When he and his colleague Erik Fosse visited Gaza during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09, their expenses were covered by a Norwegian NGO that is funded by the Norwegian government. While the two doctors were in Gaza, spending an inordinate amount of time talking to journalists about Israeli “war crimes,” they received a phone call from no less than Jens Stoltenberg–then Norway’s prime minister, now the incoming secretary-general of NATO–who assured them that “all of Norway is behind you.” A subsequent book about their experiences in Gaza was praised by Norway’s Foreign Ministry, which said that conveying their impressions was “not their duty, but their responsibility,” given that in such dire situations, “civilians become voiceless.”

No wonder, then, that Gilbert now feels licensed to elevate the political goals of his current Gaza mission above any medical considerations. Speaking to a reverential Amy Goodman on the left-wing Democracy Now! show, Gilbert went so far as to say, “As a medical doctor, my appeal is don’t send bandages, don’t send syringes, don’t send medical teams. The most important medical thing you can do now is to force Israel to stop the bombing and lift the siege of Gaza.”

As Operation Protective Edge enters its second week, we can expect Gilbert to make ever more outlandish statements the longer he remains in Gaza. But that won’t stop media organizations from trumpeting Gilbert’s medical credentials–as did Britain’s Channel 4 News, which billed him as “a Norwegian volunteer surgeon at Shifa Hospital in Gaza,” thereby encouraging its audience to take the good doctor at his word–while ignoring the fact that he is an integral element of the Hamas propaganda network.

But that, ironically, is what underlies Gilbert’s appeal. He tells Europeans what they want to hear: that Israel has made Gaza into a prison camp, and that nothing is more noble than the Palestinian determination to resist. Once you succeed in getting that message across, what does it matter whether Hamas rejects a ceasefire, or invites a firm Israeli response by sending even more missiles over the border?  

As tempting as it is to dismiss Gilbert as a crazy Norwegian Maoist in Gaza, the reality is that he is using his media appearances to stoke the libel of the century: namely, that Israel, in the words of the Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki, is engaged in “a genocide against the Palestinian people in all territories.” [Commentary Magazine]

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

15-Jul-14: Tuesday and the battle against the jihadists of Hamas goes on

  • 05:40 pm: The ceasefire of this morning, rejected immediately by Hamas while accepted - and observed - by Israel until the middle of this afternoon, is over. Hamas rockets kept on appearing throughout those hours in the skies above many Israeli cities. Now the IDF is again attacking Gaza, and the rockets are continuing as before.
    The IDF announced this around 3:00 pm this afternoon. That's about when one of its spokespersons tweeted this:
Here's how the Guardian conveyed the failure of the ceasefire to its fans:

So for a large part of the ,educated, classes, the conviction that "Israel army resumes attack" is the whole story. That the terrorist forces of Hamas didn't even bother to stop shooting at any stage is somehow of marginal interest to The Guardian's editors. That's how things work in parts of the ideology-driven news media.
  • 06:15 pm: As distorted as UNRWA's representations of fact frequently are, you can't help but get a sense of the devastation that has somehow fallen out of the sky and struck the Palestinian Arabs of the Gaza Strip. A syndicated AFP report ["UNRWA: Gaza destruction 'immense'"] published in the past hour dwells on much of the human suffering while being strangely short of the sort of context that might help explain how this mess came about. Some highlights:
  • "The level of human losses and destruction in Gaza is really immense," said UNWRA spokesman Sami Mshasha. "According to our latest figure, we are talking about 174 killed and well over 1,100 injured. This number will increase. The numbers are increasing by hours," he told reporters. 
  • "A good number of those killed and injured are women and children. That is a cause of concern for UNRWA," he added. The death toll Tuesday had risen to 192, according to local officials in Gaza. 
  • Mshasha said that 560 homes had been totally destroyed, while thousands of buildings had suffered damage. Mshasha said that 47 UNRWA facilities had also been damaged by bombing... He called on the warring sides to respect U.N. buildings. 
  • A total of 17,000 people had found refuge in 20 schools run by the U.N. agency, which has sent their GPS coordinates to Israeli authorities. 
  • In a separate statement, the International Committee of the Red Cross said the bombing had devastated Gaza's water supply. "Hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza are now without water. Within days, the entire population of the Strip may be desperately short of water," said Jacques de Maio, who heads ICRC operations in Israel and the Palestinian territories. "Water and electrical services are also affected as a result of the current hostilities. If they do not stop, the question is not if but when an already beleaguered population will face an acute water crisis," he said in a statement.
  • 06:25 pm: US Secretary of State John Kerry, of whom we have written repeatedly in this blog, spent today in Vienna. This morning, he spoke to the media there, making a statement [via jpost.com] worth reprinting: "I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas in so brazenly firing rockets in multiple numbers in the face of a goodwill effort to offer a ceasefire, in which Egypt and Israel worked together, that the international community strongly supports..." Hamas is "purposely playing politics" by continuing the rocket fire, using innocents as "human shields... against the laws of war." "And that is why they are a terrorist organization," Kerry added. Unquote. 
  • 06:30 pm: As the fighting between the Hamas regime and Israel continues, here's an indication of where US public opinion stands. Herb Keinon, the Jerusalem Post's diplomatic correspondent, has just tweeted [@HerbKeinon] this:
  • 06:50 pm: Some more about that Pew survey: "As violence between Israel and Hamas shows no signs of abating, the sympathies of the American public continue to lie with Israel rather than the Palestinians. And dating back to the late 1970s, the partisan gap in Mideast sympathies has never been wider. Currently, 51% of Americans say that in the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, they sympathize more with Israel. Just 14% sympathize more with the Palestinians, while 15% volunteer that they sympathize with neither side and 3% sympathize with both. These views are little changed from April, before the recent outbreak of Mideast violence. However, the share of Republicans who sympathize more with Israel has risen from 68% to 73%; 44% of Democrats express more sympathy for Israel than the Palestinians, which is largely unchanged from April (46%). The share of independents siding more with Israel than the Palestinians has slipped from 51% to 45%.
    Just 17% of Democrats, 17% of independents and 6% of Republicans sympathize more with the Palestinians than Israel. These numbers have changed little since April... White evangelical Protestants remain more likely than members of other religious groups to sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians (70%). White evangelical Protestants make up nearly a third of Republicans (31% of all Republicans and Republican leaners), so this accounts for at least some of the partisan gap in sympathies. However, even among Republicans who are not white evangelicals, two-thirds (66%) sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians. This compares with 78% of white evangelical Republicans." [source]
  • 06:55 pm: Since 6:00 pm, there have been rocket warnings in these communities:  Hof Ashkelon region; Netivot - where Iron Dome intercepted two rockets over the city, and two more fell in open land; Beersheba (several times) - two rockets crashed without causing serious harm; Nevatim; Sderot; Sdot Negev region; Sha'ar Hanegev region.
  • 6:58 pm: And in many communities around the country right now, including the Greater Tel Aviv area.
  • 07:00 pm: Australia's ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma drove down to Beersheba today to visit two Bedouin Arab girls injured on Monday in a Hamas rocket attack on their village. He brought with him a toy koala. Mar’am Alwakili, 10, remains unconscious at Soroka Medical Center. Her sister Atil is in moderate condition. “The destroyed home and the fate of the Bedouin children encapsulate the indiscriminate nature of rocket fire, which continues to emanate from Gaza,” Ambassador Sharma wrote in a statement quoted by Times of Israel. Good on ya, mate.
  • 07:15 pm: A mortar attack on the Erez Checkpoint has resulted in an Israeli civilian, age 37, being injured critically [Jerusalem Post]. Quoting Channel 2 TV News, they say the man was a volunteer visiting soldiers near Gaza to deliver food to soldiers. UPDATE 07:30 pmYnet says he has died from his injuries.
  • 07:45 pm: There are multiple Gazan rocket attacks going on right across the land at this moment. Times of Israel says they number 36, and that warning sirens are being heard in Ashkelon, Sderot, and the Shaar Hanegev region. Two buildings in Ashkelon have taken direct hits in the past few minutes.  
  • 07:50 pm: The BBC's Jeremy Bowen observed what we call here a Fell Short and tweeted about it in the past hour: "@BowenBBC: Just saw one rocket that seemed to fail in flight, dropping back into Gaza”. Do you imagine he has any idea how very common these Gazan-rockets-fall-on-Gazan-heads are? Has he reported on it?

15-Jul-14: Tuesday with both rockets and ceasefire in the air

Eilat early this morning: Incoming rockets from Gaza destroyed
several cars and narrowly missed doing much more serious harm
[Image Source: Cell phone snapshot
This morning's news and general conversation here focuses to an understandably large extent on talk of a ceasefire. Meawhile there's considerably more fire than cease.
  • 08:30 am: Times of Israel points out that in continuing to hit each other while ceasefire talks are happening, "they might be continuing a pattern seen in recent conflicts — an increase in attacks right before a deal to end hostilities is set to take place."
  • 08:40 am: Tzeva Adom being heard right now in the Ashkelon area.
  • 08:45 am: Eilat came under rocket attack during the night. Haaretz says these were apparently launched from the Sinai Peninsula. Three rockets were fired after the sirens sounded around 01:30 am; two crashed within the city and the third in an open field.
  • 08:55 am: The Eshkol region just now heard the Tzeva Adom siren, with the ceasefire starting in 5 minutes.
  • 09:10 am: A journalist with the BBC tweeted this just now: "Hamas sources tell BBC "there is no real (ceasefire) effort yet," Hamas's armed wing says attacks will increase in "ferocity and intensity"." And Anshel Pfeffer who writes for Haaretz tweeted this "Someone usually lobs a rocket from #Gaza after the ceasefire just to say they had the last word..."
  • 09:15am: Widely reported now (NY Times, for example) that Israel's government has accepted the Egypt-brokered ceasefire proposal but that Hamas is still holding out for its conditions. The tone of Israeli reports is that the proposal on the table gives little comfort to the terrorists. Past experience unfortunately suggests the terrorists are actually pretty good at extracting concessions when others give them little chance. We're hoping things work out much better this time, but not optimistic.
  • 09:20 am: We're seeing a Tweet now from an Israeli source, @galberger, saying that the Hamas TV channel has made no mention of a 9:00 am ceasefire with the Israelis and is continuing with its war-friendly programming as before. The Islamic Jihad TV station did carry a Reuters report about Israel having agreed: ‏הטלוויזיות של חמאס (אלאקצה אלקודס) משדרות עסקי מלחמה כרגיל. אין אזכור להחלטת הקבינט. הטלוויזיה של הג'יהאד דווקא ציטטה את רויטרס במבזק
  • 09:25 am: @barakravid who writes for Haaretz is quoting an Israeli official saying that, in the wake of Israel accepting the 09:00 am ceasefire, Israel is going to see itself as having international legitimization to strike back hard at Hamas if the terrorists ignore the ceasefire. News reports say Hamas has not accepted. On the other hand, our impression is there have been no further Tzeva Adom warnings since 09:00 am.
  • 09:50 am: We can't recommend highly enough an article published now on jpost.com, the Jerusalem Post's site: "The Gaza numbers game | UN officials’ emotive statements are entirely disconnected from the legal and moral implications of Israel’s actions". Anne Herzberg attacks the abuse of public positions and of tendentious data and analysis to criticize the victims of Hamas terror via claims that "are entirely disconnected from the legal and moral implications of Israel’s actions.... Many highly politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have issued overwrought statements on Gaza casualties, making unverifiable claims that the vast majority are civilians and blaming Israel again. These comments stand in stark contrast to the sterile, pro-forma and brief mentions of Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, to the extent they are mentioned at all."
  • 10:05 am: An hour after the purported start of today's ceasefire, Tzeva Adom sirens are being heard now in Israeli communities around the Gaza Strip. AP quotes Sami Abu Zuhri of Hamas declaring “this proposal is not acceptable.” Fox News tweets it this way: "Hamas rejects proposed Gaza cease-fire minutes after Israel Security Cabinet approves it http://t.co/o4l8YhdGE9". We can expect further developments. (Excuse us while we take care of some urgent business.)
  • 12:20 pm: There has been an intensification of rocket fire from the jihadist forces in Gaza. Times of Israel, writing two and a half hours after the govetnment of Israel agreed to the terms of the Egypt-brokered ceasefire, said "Ten rockets are fired toward Ashdod and nearby towns. Iron Dome knocks down one rocket. Another lands in the yard of a house in Ashdod. No damage or injuries are reported, and rescue personnel are performing searches to verify that no one is hurt." As we write this, there are fresh Tzeva Adom sirens in Sderot and other southern communities around the Gaxa Strip, and another barrage on Tel Aviv's southern suburbs.
  • 12:25pm: And now rocket warnings again for Ashkelon and surrounding communities.
  • 12:30 pm: And again around Ashkelon.
  • 12:35 pm: And now a major wave of rockets targeting the coastal communities north of Tel Aviv.
  • 12:40 pm: Now Haifa.
  • 12:50 pm: Via jpost.com "Sirens go off in Binyamina, Zichron Yaakov, Hadera and the Haifa area, warning of incoming rockets launched from Gaza. Meanwhile in southern Israel, sirens blare across several communities in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, as a rocket explodes near a kibbutz."
  • 01:10 pm: Another wave of Tzeva Adom sirens across central Israel now: Ashdod, Rehovot, Nes Ziyona, Rishon Lezion, and other parts of Greater Tel Aviv. Hamas have thousands more rockets, and the lives of their own people are cheap in their eyes so the waves of indiscriminate flinging of explosives goes on. What do such savages have to lose?
  • 01:20 pm: "Netanyahu: If Hamas does not hold fire, Israel will have broad legitimacy to hit back hard http://t.co/LnlWcoTrRa"
  • 02:00 pm: For those of us totally fed up with media portrayals of Mahmoud Abbas, "moderate" "president" of the PA, as Israel's peace partner, a report published in the last few minutes: "The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed movement of Fatah, claims responsibility for launching two Grad missiles at Ashdod at 12:30 p.m. In a statement posted on Fatah’s official Facebook page, the movement writes: “We continue pummeling the enemy’s settlements everywhere. We will not back down at any cost.” [source]
    For the record, the head of Fatah is Mahmoud Abbas. That's something the residents of Ashdod in particular may find hard to forget when this rocket war has passed.
  • 02:35 pm: Some sharp-eyed observers have pointed out that parts of the mainstream media are so discomforted by the sickening rejection by Hamas of the ceasefire that Israel accepted this morning, they are going back over their own published stories and removing the one about Sami Abu Zuhri of Hamas declaring “this proposal is not acceptable.” He has a long track-record of making statements in Hamas' name. So pretending now (which appears to be what the media people are doing) that it's only the military wing of Hamas that is rejecting the ceasefire can be done only by doctoring history. Omri Ceren's tweet [@cerenomri]addresses the NY Times via its Jerusalem bureau chief: ".@rudoren Hey, why did NYT remove Sami Abu Zuhri's rejection of ceasefire from your copy 1 hr after it went live? http://t.co/hUHrvXZXq9" We will be surprised if he gets an answer. And it will surprise us if readers are not surprised that this is the sort of monkey business that some of the world's most influential news organizations get up to.
  • 03:20 pm: We're hearing word about the IDF expressing the current state of mind of most Israelis i.e. "We're totally fed up with barbarians", and abandoning the ceasefire which Hamas rejected anyway.  Details coming.
  • 03:25 pm: From Times of Israel just now: "IDF Spokesperson: “After six hours of unilateral attacks by Hamas, the IDF has resumed operational activity in the Gaza Strip. Since 9am Tuesday, about 50 rockets were fired at Israel.”
  • 03:30 pm: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructs the Israel Defense Forces to “act forcefully against terror targets in Gaza,” after Hamas and Islamic Jihad refused to accept the Egyptian ceasefire proposal and fired dozens of rockets at Israel, diplomatic sources say." [Times of Israel
For further Tuesday updates, please go here.