Friday, November 28, 2014

28-Nov-14: Tentacles: Anti-terror raids in Austria today

Austrian police via Aljazeera
From ("Austria's news in English") this afternoon:
Austrian police arrested 13 people and raided homes, prayer rooms and mosques around the country early Friday in a mass operation targeting suspected jihad recruiters, prosecutors said. Some 900 police were involved in the raids, which took place in Vienna, Graz and Linz. They follow a two-year investigation into several people suspected of recruiting young people to fight in Syria. Media reports said a Vienna-based Bosnian preacher, who was the main suspect, was among those arrested in the raids which began at 4:00am. Police also seized "terrorist propaganda," files and money in various homes, said prosecutors in Graz, who were coordinating the operation. Beyond recruiting fighters, the Kronen Zeitung newspaper said that the suspects were investigated for helping to finance the Islamic State group.... Austria's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz und Terrorismusbekämpfung) warned in June over the threats faced by the country, saying: "Religiously motivated extremism and terrorism – above all of Islamic character – as well as Salafi-jihadi groups continue to present a great potential threat…The number of young radicalized followers of violent Salafism continues to rise. In this context, the conflict in Syria is of urgent relevance for Austria, since systematic efforts are being made within [Austria] to radicalize and recruit people for the war in Syria…The conflict in Syria has become very popular among violent extremist Salafis... The spectrum of recruits to the conflict in Syria is broadly ethnically diverse. The motivation, however, seems to be uniformly jihadi."
In a background analysis published just a few weeks back ["Radical Islam in Austria is active and growing", November 11, 2014], the same newspaper observed that Austria
has become a hub of extremism that includes not only Islamic State terrorism but also Iranian nuclear proliferation activities as well as active support for Hamas... The mushrooming recruitment by Islamic State, and the presence of a large pocket of support for Hamas, pose major challenges for Austria's struggling counterterrorism establishment. Even so, Iranian intelligence's extensive network, including agents who have previously carried out a 1989 terrorist attack with impunity in Vienna, will remain Austria's greatest terror threat for the foreseeable future. The interrelationship among the three jihadist movements -- Hamas, Iran's regime, and the Islamic State -- playing out in Austria helps to explain why critics view the relatively small Central European country as a danger zone.
A syndicated Reuters report ["Facing fears over extremism, Austria unveils new law on Islam", Reuters, October 2, 2014] noted that Austria is currently home to about half a million Muslims, about 6 percent of the total population. Growing concerns about rising Islamist radicalization and reports of Austrian Muslims joining Islamist forces in the Middle East led the Austrian government to announce a new law that will
prohibit foreign funding of Muslim organizations on its soil... prompting concern from a major local Islamic body, which saw it mirroring widespread mistrust of Muslims. "The clear message should be that there is no contradiction between being a faithful Muslim and a proud Austrian," said Foreign Affairs and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz, a member of the conservative People's Party. "If you don't have orderly legal regulation ... this can always bring dangers (of extremism). In this sense, if you like, this is maybe a part of prevention," he told reporters. He added that Sharia, or Islamic law, had "no place here". [Reuters]
On December 27, 1985, Palestinian Arab terrorists hurled grenades and fired guns at travelers lined up at the El Al check-in counter of Vienna's international airport,  Three people were killed.

28-Nov-14: Reports from a mostly-unreported war

Border Guard post outside Tomb of the Patriarchs,
Hebron - not today [Image Source]
The reports below of terror activity in the greater Jerusalem area pertain to the towns and villages close to, and including, the places from which the terror cell members we wrote about yesterday came.

From Times of Israel this morning:
A 17-year-old Palestinian girl carrying a knife was arrested Friday morning at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron after admitting she had planned to stab Israeli security personnel at the site. The girl arrived at a security checkpoint at the entrance to the holy site, sacred to both Jews and Muslims, at around 8 a.m., but refused to be searched. Police at the site told her she must either agree to be searched or leave the premises. After a few minutes of arguing, the girl pulled a knife out of her bag and threw it on the floor. She was then detained and told officials she had intended to carry out a stabbing attack at the site.
And nearby
Overnight Thursday a shooting incident was reported near Kiryat Arba, a settlement adjacent to Hebron. Shots were fired at a car driving near the Kiryat Arba junction from an unknown source. Two bullets penetrated the vehicle but did not hit its occupants, who sped away unharmed. Security forces were searching the area Friday morning for the assailants. [Times of Israel]
In the same area:
IDF forces arrested an Arab man near the Jewish neighborhood in Hevron Thursday evening after a sub-machine gun was found in his car, along with a bullet cartridge. The gun was of the Carl Gustav M/45 variety, a portable and lethal weapon. [Israel National News]
Meanwhile north of Jerusalem:
In another incident on Thursday evening, shots were fired at an Israeli car near the settlement of Na’ale, northwest of Ramallah. The driver was unhurt and fled the scene. The assailants remain at large. [Times of Israel]
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we note that none of the terror actions listed here rose to the level of physical injury to the intended victims. Our prayer: Long may the jihadists continue to fail, and the security authorities remain vigilant and successful.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

27-Nov-14: Hamas terrorist ring is busted; Israel says the handlers operate from Turkey; Qatar is involved

Haniyeh of Hamas is greeted by Erdogan of Turkey in the Turkish
parliament, during a solidarity visit, January 2012
[Image Source: Paltimes]
A week ago, an unconfirmed Times of Israel report by Avi Issacharoff revealed details of a Hamas terror group that had recently been exposed, penetrated and busted by Israel's security services. It had been active inside the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority and dozens of its members were said to be under arrest.

Issacharoff claimed the organization was based in, and run from, Turkey, under the control of already-well-known senior Hamas terrorists, and had undertaken several terror attacks, all of which (according to his report) had been thwarted or failed.

Funding and overall direction were in the hands of Saleh Muhammad Suleiman al-Arouri, a convicted terrorist who had been arrested and imprisoned several times over and deported by Israel from the West Bank to Turkey in 2010. From his new Turkish base, he assembled a "management team" that included a number of terrorists freed by Israel in the catastrophic Shalit Deal of 2011.

As far back as July 2013, Ehud Yaari, one of Israel's best-known and -respected strategic affairs commentators, writing in New Republic, had said Al-Arouri had "taken sole control of the movement's activities in the West Bank". Did the Turks know this? Does it matter to them?

Al-Arouri, according to an August 2014 profile in the Washington Post, was one of the main figures responsible for the revival of Hamas terrorist actions in the West Bank and an advocate of the usefulness of kidnapping innocent Israelis.

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center published a report three months ago asserting that al-Arouri had
told the participants of the fourth conference of the World Union of Islamic Sages (held in Turkey) that Hamas' military-terrorist wing was behind the abduction and murder of the three Jewish youths in Gush Etzion (June 12, 2014). He read his speech, saying that he was speaking on behalf of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (calling him the "head of this resistance"). He was apparently recorded without his knowledge and his speech was uploaded to YouTube and received much feedback. In his speech he claimed that "the struggle of the masses has grown to include all the occupied lands. It reached a height in the heroic action carried out by the [Izz al-Din] al-Qassam Brigades, which captured three settlers in Hebron." He claimed the abduction and murder were committed to support the hunger strike of the Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons. According to the speech, the abduction and murder a part of Hamas' campaign to ignite a new intifada throughout all of Palestine (including Israeli Arabs...) [Source: Meir Amit IITC, August 24, 2014]
Turkey's increasingly open involvement with the jihadists of Hamas was the focus of a recent Foreign Policy article ["Thorn in the Side | Why is Turkey sheltering a dangerous Hamas operative?", Jonathan Schanzer, September 17, 2013]:
In his attempts to strengthen Hamas, Erdogan has... allowed his country's ties with Israel to suffer. The Turkish leader famously stormed offstage during a contentious 2009 panel with Israeli President Shimon Peres, in protest of Israel's isolation of Gaza. Relations between Ankara and Jerusalem plummeted further the following year, after Turkey's largest NGO dispatched a flotilla that tried to break Israel's blockade of Gaza, leading to clashes between Israeli commandos and activists that left nine Turks dead... More recently, however, the two countries have take steps to bury the hatchet. This year, U.S. President Barack Obama facilitated a phone call between Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which began a process that resulted in Israel issuing an apology for the incident and agreeing to pay reparations to the victims' families... However, Erdogan's support for Hamas could become a serious stumbling block for a further warming of ties with Israel. The Turkish premier's ties with Hamas remain as strong as ever - in fact, they appear to have deepened... If Arouri is behind the funding, recruiting, or planning of any of these Hamas operations in the West Bank, it will have grave consequences for Turkey. To the letter of the law, Turkey could meet criteria as a state sponsor of terrorism. [Schanzer, Foreign Policy]
Today, the facts of last week's Times of Israel exclusive were validated by fresh new revelations ["Hamas gang plotted ‘major attack’ at Jerusalem soccer stadium", Times of Israel, November 27, 2014]. It turns out that, indeed, more than 30 Hamas terrorists were arrested by Israeli security during September 2014, according to the Israel Security Agency - better known as the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service.
The majority were recruited while studying in Jordan and trained in either Syria or the Gaza Strip, which they entered via tunnels from Sinai. The Shin Bet said the ring was preparing to kidnap Israelis in Israel and abroad, enter Israeli villages, detonate car bombs, perpetrate roadside attacks, and execute a major terror attack in [Jerusalem's] Teddy Stadium... The network, Palestinian officials said, was funded and directed by Hamas officials in Turkey who have set up a de facto command center in the Muslim country...
Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium [Image Source]
A key target of the Turkish-directed Hamas gang
Israel has complained to NATO, according to an Israeli newspaper reputedly close to Netanyahu
and demanded it take action against Turkey, after learning it has allowed Hamas to set up operational headquarters in Istanbul. Senior political sources in Jerusalem said Hamas has chosen to relocate its diplomatic and military headquarters from Damascus to Istanbul, over the civil war raging in Syria. Official communiqués sent from Jerusalem to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's office in Brussels, via several channels, said it was inconceivable that a member of the intergovernmental military alliance would maintain ties with a terrorist organization... A senior source said Tuesday that there was little doubt that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a staunch supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, was aware of Hamas operations in Istanbul, and that he had most likely authorized the move. [Israel Hayom, yesterday]
In today's announcement, the Shin Bet says the men arrested had a long shopping list of terror targets including shooting Israeli drivers in Judea and Samaria; infiltrating Israeli communities in order to carry out close-range killings; kidnappings of Israelis in Judea/Samaria as well as outside Israel's borders; car bombings; further recruiting in Jordan of new would-be killers; and (which has attracted the bulk of the media attention, understandably) terror attacks on Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium and on the Jerusalem Light Rail. Had they been executed, and in the absence of intelligence on the Turkish-controlled cell, some or all of these attacks might have been ascribed to "lone wolf" jihadists. We now know a little better.

Turkey is not the only foreign state being accused of deep involvement with the terrorism of this gang.
The officials accused Turkey as well as Qatar - the current home of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal - of enabling Hamas to operate freely within their territories to carry out attacks against Israel and undermine the Palestinian Authority... It appeared that the ring announced by the Shin Bet [today] began to unravel with a failed roadside attack on August 31, 2014... The Shin Bet said that intelligence work done in the wake of that failed attack enabled the organization to arrest the perpetrators and some 30 other suspects, revealing “a wealth of information about the infrastructure.” [Times of Israel today]
That 'wealth of information' might make for some revealing analysis in the coming days.

27-Nov-14: When things are said about terror from both sides of one mouth, it pays to listen carefully

Even in an Internet-rich age, television continues to strongly influence what we know and think. And in places where access to a range of varying ideas and opinions is greatly limited, its role is even larger. The villages, towns and cities of the Palestinian Authority are a good example.

Here's a video clip (translated to English by the invaluable Palestinian Media Watch team) from their version of Good Morning, America (and Good Morning Australia, and Good Morning Tanganyika etc), the typical sort of light-hearted fare that people watch while grabbing some breakfast and heading out to face the day and its challenges. Only it's light-hearted in a very specific way that prevails in places where the values of terror and its attractions have become central to the way ordinary lives are lived.

The presenter in this show is Mai Abu Asab. Her program goes to air every Friday (weekend) morning under the name Good Morning Jerusalem. If we were fed a daily diet of this sort of messaging, we might not have the views about hatred, racism and terror that we do; many other rational and emotionally healthy people might react like us.

The channel is the one owned, operated and marketed by the government that runs the Palestinian Authority. The PA is the terror-friendly regime headed by Mahmoud Abbas, currently in the tenth year of his four-year presidential term. Abbas has our attention this week because of his gymnastic approach to juggling his public views on terror: unreservedly against it in English and strongly for it in Arabic.

Quoted (in Arabic) by Al-Hayat Al-Jadida. the PA's mouthpiece newspaper, on November 3, 2014, Mahmoud Abbas said
that Martyr Mutaz [who fired four bullets straight into the chest of Rabbi Yehuda Glick on a Jerusalem street in late October] from at point rose to Heaven while defending our people’s rights and holy places. In addition, he condemned this barbaric act, which is added to the occupation’s crimes against our people since the Nakba ("catastrophe", the preferred Palestinian Arabic term for the establishment of the State of Israel), as well as the continuation of the historic injustice being committed against it wherever it is present.” [source]
Quoted (in Arabic) again by Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on November 24, 2014,
It is a moral, national and religious right to defend Al-Aqsa and the places holy to Islam and Christianity. Our people oppose the thieving attackers who are supported by the government of Israel – the same [government] that has sabotaged the efforts to attain peace and is leading the wild campaign in Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, seeking to strike any chance of obtaining security and peace between the two peoples on the basis of the two-state [solution]. I congratulate our people for their steadfastness in defending Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa. We are all ready to sacrifice ourselves for Al-Aqsa and for Jerusalem. [source]
Quoted in English by Haaretz on November 18, 2014, there's what appears to be a whole different approach:
Abbas' office said in a statement that "The presidency condemns the attack on Jewish worshippers in their place of prayer and condemns the killing of civilians no matter who is doing it" [but] "While we condemn this incident, we also condemn the aggression toward Al-Aqsa Mosque and other holy places and torching of mosques and churches," Abbas said at the start of a meeting of the Palestinian security services in Ramallah. Such attacks, according to Abbas, "violate all religious principles and do not serve the common interest we are trying to promote – establishing a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel." [source]
It's worth noting, as Khaled Abu Toameh did the same day, the background:
Abbas was forced to condemn the Har Nof synagogue attack after facing pressure from US Secretary of State John Kerry, who had phoned the PA president twice over the past few days to demand that the Palestinians stop anti-Israel incitement. On Tuesday, Kerry issued a call to the PA leadership to condemn the Har Nof attack. Kerry’s pressure prompted Abbas to issue two condemnations of the incident. The first came in the form of a terse statement published by official PA news agency Wafa, in which the Palestinian leadership condemned the “killing of worshipers in a synagogue and all acts of violence regardless of their source.” The statement also called for an end to “incursions and provocations by settlers against the Aksa Mosque...” In both statements, the PA leader sought to establish a direct link between the recent spate of terrorist attacks and visits by Jewish groups to the Temple Mount. [source
The latest phase in this peekaboo now-you-see-it-now-you-don't performance by Abbas' government comes with a PA TV program on Tuesday that declares the axe men of the Har Nof synagogue killings as heroes for the cause, referring to "the death of 2 Palestinians as martyrs from occupation police fire", conveniently and despicably ignoring the knives, axes and guns in the hands of the two Abu Jamals as they launched a ferocious attack on unarmed men at prayer.

To their great credit, many ordinary people in today's Palestinian Arab society continue - against all the pressures from their religious and secular leaders - to hold somewhat-independent views and to remain rooted in values that give hope... to them and us.

Here are some of those, based on a little-noticed (outside Israel) public opinion poll carried out for Israel's Channel 10 television station by Statnet (motto: "Discovering things you never expected"), an Israel-based research center headed by Yousef Makladeh (there's a self-promoting business video here for Arabic and Hebrew speakers).

Statnet focuses its attention on Arabs in the PA and Israel and unfortunately seems to publish almost nothing in the English language which, given the insights they have, is a pity.

The Jerusalem Post and a small handful of other Israel-based sources reported in the last few days on the poll's findings. Selected highlights appear in a number of other Israel-focused publications but take the results way out of their context, in our view. The survey, conducted in Arabic by phone a week ago, polled 405 Israeli Arabs from all parts of Israel but not east Jerusalem. 39% of respondents are men; 61% are women:
  • 68% of Israeli Arabs opposes the ongoing "recent wave of terrorist attacks". The language of the Jerusalem Post report on the following breakdown is not clear (and we have not seen the original findings), but we think they go on to say that 88% of Druse oppose the terror; 80% of Christian Arabs, and 64% of Muslim Arabs.
  • 77% of Israeli Arabs when asked to choose between two options said they prefer to live under Israeli rule rather than Palestinian Arab. Again, the Jerusalem Port report's language is not well expressed, but it seems to be saying that support among Israeli Arabs for living in an Israeli state is at the 70% level among Druse, 57% among Christian Arabs, and 49% among Muslim Arabs. But if that's right, then we have a problem understanding how the overall percentage gets to 77%.
  • (This finding meshes with another by Prof. Sammy Smooha Haifa University whose annual survey, the Index of Arab-Jewish Relations in Israel showed in 2013 63.5% of Arabs said Israel is a good place to live, while 20.9% were "willing to move" to "a Palestinian state".)
  • As for preferring to live under the Palestinian Authority: 2% of Druse held that view; 5% of Israeli Christian Arabs, and 18% of Israeli Muslim Arabs.
  • 84% of Israeli Arabs "support Knesset members who condemned the attacks in Jerusalem" and "16% opposed the condemnation of the attacks by Arab MKs"
  • 81% of them believe Israel "is trying to harm the status quo on the Temple Mount".
  • Again the language of the report is problematic, but it seems to say something emphatic about the sense Israeli Arabs have of living in a racist society: 42% say they suffer from "strong racism"; 44% from "moderate racism"; 14% from "light racism". Since those numbers add up to exactly 100%, it means there is not a single Arab living in Israel, including the majority who says he/she prefers living in Israel compared with the PA alternative, feels there is no racism. That might be, but it sounds suspect to us, especially when we take into account their attitude to how the State (not clear exactly what that means beyond the obvious) treats them: 9% say it "treats them equally"; 52% "semi-equally"; 39% "not equally at all". That also comes to a neat 100%. So if 9% feel they are being treated equally, are they also among the 100% who suffer from racism? Perhaps yes, but on this, the JPost report's language and formulation bothers us.
  • 65% of Israeli Arabs blamed the conflict on "the Jews"
  • And finally, a clear sign of the positive effect living in Israel has on its citizens: 63% of Israeli Arabs "do not trust Arab leaders in Israel". Unfortunately the survey report does not say whether the respondents were asked if they don't trust Israel's Jewish leaders. Or non-Israel-based Arab leaders.
Image: "Real Jerusalem Streets"
Readers wanting to do their own polling might consider standing in the center of Jerusalem, say at the busy intersection of King George Avenue and Jaffa Road (we know the corner only too well). As Jerusalemites know, since the Jerusalem Light Rail began running from Jerusalem's eastern neighbourhoods into the center and out to Mt Herzl, the number of Arab shoppers and pedestrians walking around, enjoying the cafes and the pedestrian malls, has risen substantially to levels that might surprise people from far away.

The image at right (young Arab females wandering around in the center of town) from the excellent Real Jerusalem Streets photo blog [here] illustrates the story.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

26-Nov-14: Terrorist deals and the price we’re now paying: A birthday message

Convicted Palestinian Arab terrorists prematurely freed from prison
on August 13, 2013 are greeted by admirers [Image Source]
A version of this article by Frimet Roth appears as an op ed in Times of Israel today.

The latest terror attack struck as I pondered my daughter’s birthday. It falls on on November 27. For the past 13 years, marking that day has been a real challenge for me. The grief it arouses is overshadowed only by that of August 9, the day Malki died in the Sbarro massacre of 2001. Her murderer, AhlamTamimi, a Hamas operative who primed, escorted, instructed and armed her accomplice, a young man called Al-Masri, with ten kilo of explosives, has been free since 2011. Prime Minister Netanyahu released her in the Shalit Deal of 2011.

As in the past, a few reminders about the workings of terrorism, painfully familiar to me, will be my commemoration of Malki’s birthday.

Much has been written about the new religious character that Palestinian terror has supposedly acquired. In an article about the Har Nof synagogue attack, Isabel Kirschner and Jodi Rudoren of the NYTimes wrote:
Others around the world condemned the attack and the rising religious dimension of the spate of violence, which has been attributed mainly to a struggle over the very site the victims were praying toward.
Convicted Palestinian Arab terrorists prematurely freed from prison
on October 18, 2011 are greeted by admirers [Image Source]
The truth is that religious Jews have always been our enemies’ prime targets. Malki’s murderer told journalists that when she met her accomplice, the human bomb, in advance of their joint mission, he told her that he yearned to murder religious Jews. Tamimi said she assured Al-Masri that the target she had selected would satisfy his wishes. For, as she later recounted, she had scouted the city thoroughly and found an eatery frequented almost exclusively by religious Jerusalemites: fourteen of the fifteen men, women and children slaughtered in the Sbarrorestaurant that day were religious.

There is another facet to the current spate of violence that has been overlooked or ignored: Mr. Netanyahu’s contribution to it.

Naturally, he has spoken forcefully about the need for global denunciation of recent terror attacks. He has pointed an accusatory finger at those he believes guilty of incitement. He ordered the demolition of the homes of the latest perpetrators – the Har Nof killers.

According to his office, he also “directed that enforcement against those who incite toward terrorist attacks be significantly increased.” That statement referred to “the series of additional decisions that have been made to strengthen security throughout the country,” whatever they may be. [Boston Globe/New York Times, November 18, 2014]

But all this is too little, too vague and too late. 

Convicted Palestinian Arab terrorists prematurely freed from prison
on August 14, 2013 are greeted by admirers [Image Source]
Mr. Netanyahu has already done irreparable damage during his tenure. His band-aid treatments are futile because terrorism has been on the rise ever since he freed hundreds of murderers in the Shalit Deal. [“Israel and Hamas Agree to Swap Prisoners for Soldier”, NY Times, October 11, 2011]

Until recently most of their attempts at fresh acts of terror were foiled. But we have been descending headlong toward our current predicament ever since the busloads of waving murderers left the prison grounds in October 2011 [photo].

The Shalit Deal and Netanyahu’s subsequent releases last year to “jump-start” talks with Mahmoud Abbas destroyed the most effective deterrent we had. There is no more powerful impetus to terrorism than the assurance that they will not be punished.

The newly enacted law [here] purporting to prevent future releases of terrorist murderers is riddled with loopholes.
  • First, it is not retroactive. If Netanyahu wishes, currently imprisoned murderers could well be freed.
  • Second, it relates only to “murder under extraordinarily severe circumstances” when the convicting judge categorizes it as such.
  • And third, it can be entirely by-passed via a Presidential pardon. (Another law introduced just months ago would strip the president of this power with regard to political deals but has not been enacted.),
  • Finally, even these most “extraordinarily severe circumstance” murderers – whoever these may be – will be eligible to appear before the release committee after only 15 years’ imprisonment. That committee can choose to reduce their sentence to 40 years. So a future mass-murdering terrorist, akin to my Malki’s murderer, could conceivably be free, without any swaps or deals, after 40 years!

Convicted Palestinian Arab terrorists prematurely freed from prison
on December 31, 2013 are greeted by admirers [Image Source]
The man with arms raised is Jamal Abu Jamal, a clansman of the two
murdering Abu Jamal axe-men responsible for the slaughter in a Jerusalem
synagogue on November 18, 2014. Freed 10 months ago, this
Abu Jamal was re-arrested for terrorism offences in the first half of
November 2014 [source]
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett was far from accurate when he boasted of this new law: “Terrorists should die in prison, and now that will be the case.”

Mr. Netanyahu’s serial releases have also sent a resounding message to the world: In Israel, terrorists with blood on their hands are not “real” murderers. Here, their sentences are not binding like those of “real” murderers. Here they are not punished as severely as “real” murderers are.

That message, conveyed by Netanyhau’s actions, rings truer and louder than any of his pronouncements in the wake of the latest terror attacks.

No matter how tough and stricken Netanyahu sounds and appears now, these emotions wane fast for him. Soon, no doubt, any accomplices that may be arrested and convicted of involvement in recent terror attacks will become political currency for him. Or they may be traded along with hundreds of others for the release of one Israeli – thanks to those generous loopholes in the new law.

Mr. Netanyahu is confident we have forgotten his misdeeds and their effects. We need to prove him wrong.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

25-Nov-14: How different from the Nigerian Islamists are the Pal Arab terrorists?

Two girls did, in fact, come back today - with bombs
inside their clothes. The others are still where they were
[Image Source]
The largest city in the Nigerian state of Borno, is Maiduguri, with a population of about 1.2 million, most of them Muslim.

In 2006, at the height of the drama over a newspaper in far-off Denmark publishing cartoon images of the central figure in Islam, riots broke out, fifteen people were killed there and twelve Christian houses of worship were destroyed. And then things got devastatingly worse.

Nigeria's highest profile terrorist organization, Boko Haram, visited phenomenal violence on the area in July 2009, leaving 700 people dead in its wake. They have continued to carry out mind-numbingly bloody attacks right up to this month. Despite this, according to its Wikipedia entry, Maiduguri is popularly known as the City of Peace. But possibly not after today.

This morning, two female human bombs walked into Maiduguri's crowded main market a little after 11 o'clock. One exploded, and it appears three women were killed. Then when (as Nigeria's most influential newspaper puts it)
unsuspecting sympathisers gathered to watch the scene, the second girl who was also heavily wired with explosives screamed and then the device hidden under her garment blew up killing about 30 persons.... The Civilian-JTF chieftain explained that "from what one of the survivors told me while being helped to get to the hospital, the bombers were two girls dressed in full hijab..." [Leadership, Nigeria, today]
(UPDATE: Another Nigerian source says the death toll has risen to 45 and that the second human bomb was male; the explosion ensures it will be hard to tell from visual inspection.)

Boko Haram is said to mean "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language, according to the BBC, and it is
waging an insurgency in Nigeria. It was based in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, after its formation in 2002, but it has since been driven out of the city by the military and vigilante groups. It now controls a large number of towns and villages in Borno, amid fears that it is preparing to launch an assault to capture Maiduguri. [BBC, today]
From the time it was formed, it claimed to be "opposing Western education". But an education campaign like this is unique in historical terms. Today, the Boko Haram people are open about seeking to create an Islamic state by military means; education has evidently slipped down their list of goals. And military in their case means kidnapping hundreds of school-girls in April 2014 (and still holding most of them despite Mrs Obama's Instagram campaign), and by mutilating shoppers and traders in open-air market places; a July 2014 truck bomb in the same city killed at least 56 people.

In the wake of previous Boko Haram massacres, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the describes itself as "the largest bloc of Islamic states with 57 members and the only official voice of the Muslim world", condemned the group's "barbaric acts of violence in the strongest terms" on the basis of their
having nothing to do with Islam and against its basic tenets. The OIC continues to issue statements condemning every heinous killing and destruction of property committed by this group and urging the authorities to intensify their efforts to end these acts of terrorism and violence and bring the perpetrators to justice while offering its solidarity and assistance. [Alarabiya, July 2014]
Click here to see dozens more examples
But how different are Boko Haram from the other Islamist barbarians Hamas and Hezbollah, or from so-called secular Arab terrorists groups like Fatah and PFLP that are the "freedom fighting" darlings of the OIC? And do their values and their actions really have nothing to do with Islam?
  • Boko Haram send female human bombs to cause devastating explosions. And what was the Palestinian Arab woman Wafa Idris
  • Boko Haram send immature boys ("A gunman who looked like a 12-year old boy") to do their terrorist bidding. Husam Abdo, a 'mentally challenged' 14 year old Palestinian Arab boy was sent by his Fatah handlers to a certain death, with 8 kilo of explosives strapped to his torso, convinced that this was his best chance of having sex with 72 virgins. This is no figure of speech, but to be taken literally; see this BBC report and this CBS News report, "Bomb Boy's Family Mad At Militants".
  • Boko Haram send little girls to be human bombs (see "10-Yr-Old Girl Strapped To Explosive Belt"). On the Palestinian Arab side, aged either 16 or 18 at the time, a female human bomb called Ayat Al-Akhras, recruited by the Fatah/Tanzim organization that was headed by Marwan Barghouti at the time walked into a Jerusalem supermarket and exploded, there with the expected lethal results. Incidentally one of the most prominent 'activists' in the current "Free Marwan Barghouti" campaign is a high profile South African religious figure, Desmond Tutu
  • Add to this that Palestinian Authority TV routinely screens children's programs in which teenagers and pre-teens, like the little girl in the screenshot above right, probably 10 or 11 years old, sing of their desire to die as martyrs for the Palestinian Arab cause. Dozens of additional instances appear on this Palestinian Media Watch page and throughout the web.
  • The mass murderers of Boko Haram don't regard themselves as having "nothing to do with Islam". Their leader, Abubakar Shekau , said just three months ago [BBC, August 25, 2014] that his forces have "set up an Islamic state in the towns and villages it has seized in north-eastern Nigeria." He makes it clear that his men, women and children are saving the world for Islam.
Flag of Boko Haram which, as the
Organization of Islamic
Cooperation says, has nothing
to do with Islam [Image Source]
We feel the embarrassment of the writer from the Organization of Islamic Co-operation ["Denying Boko Haram its assumed Islamic identity", July 15, 2014] . Who wants to be classified as "like" the blood-lusting savages of Boko Haram, most of whose victims are said to be Muslims? But then how different is that from the blood-lusting ISIS killers of (mainly) Muslims in Iraq and Syria?

The Pew Research people said in July ["Concerns about Islamic Extremism on the Rise in Middle East"] that
publics hold very negative opinions of well-known extremist groups, such as al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah. In Nigeria, the vast majority of respondents, both Muslims and Christians alike, have an unfavorable view of Boko Haram, the terrorist group that recently kidnapped hundreds of girls in the restive north of the country. And a majority of Pakistanis have an unfavorable view of the Taliban... as well-publicized bouts of violence, from civil war to suicide bombings, plague the Middle East, Africa and South Asia... [Pew Research]
But if people's lives depended on what public opinion feels about terrorists, then public opinion pollsters like Pew would be running states. As we know, they don't. In reality, acts of terror consistently get huge support from certain specific demographics, Pew's research notwithstanding. And major international roof-bodies - like OIC which speaks for 56 nations [listed here] making it the largest international grouping of countries after the UN - line right up behind the terror organizations that do them,

And leaving aside what "publics" think, can we look at how the OIC - the "only official voice of the Muslim world" - looks at Hamas and the other jihad organizations? How, for instance, does it feel about Hamas training Palestinian Arab children to want to die as young martyrs? What does it consider to be the very worst kind of terrorism? As it happens, this we can answer:
At the 34th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM), an OIC section, in May 2007, the foreign ministers termed Islamophobia the worst form of terrorism... [source]
On April 3, 2002, a few months after the Hamas-engineered massacre that took the life of our daughter Malki, the OIC adopted and published a cornerstone policy document entitled "The Kuala Lumpur Declaration on International Terrorism" [full text here]. Some of its highlights:
  • "We reject any attempt to link terrorism to the struggle of the Palestinian people in the exercise of their inalienable right to establish their independent state with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital... We reject any attempt to associate Islamic states or Palestinian and Lebanese resistance with terrorism which constitutes an impediment to the global struggle against terrorism..." A clearer vote of confidence in Hezbollah, Hamas and Fatah would be hard to find.
  • And it articulated this clear warning: "We reject any unilateral action taken against any Islamic country under the pretext of combating international terrorism, as this will undermine global cooperation against terrorism".
  • It established a thirteen member ministerial-level OIC Committee on International Terrorism. If that committee has done anything, or even put out a press release since 2002, we can;t find any sign on-line. Seems to be nothing more than a fig leaf.
Faced with acts of beastial savagery like the axe/hatchet/butcher knife attack on Jews at prayer in a Jerusalem synagogue, the otherwise voluble OIC - which expresses views on a wide range of issues all the time - is silent. Its search engine [here] seems to let a person search on any word and see what the OIC stand is. But if you enter "Jerusalem"... well, try it and see what happens.

Monday, November 24, 2014

24-Nov-14: What it takes to be a real man in a society of sociopaths

Fathi Hamad, once the Hamas minister of the interior and a man who has a way with words - ugly words, conveying violent hatred, often directed at putting the lives of children at risk - got a mention in a post we published here earlier today, and not for the first time: click here for previous Hamad appearances in our blog.

Just this afternoon, by coincidence, someone over at the IDF Spokesperson's Office gave Hamad the ultimate accolade: a poster of his own, and a quote that reminds people of what a man's man this man is:
Courtesy IDF Blog [here]
Ah, but this Hamad is so much more than just a pretty face. Six years ago, Frimet Roth quoted him in a post ["27-Mar-08: Palestinian infanticide"] on our blog that got a fair amount of attention because of the way Hamad's rant completely upended some outrageously dishonest statements famously made some years earlier by Hanan Ashrawi, the long-time apologist for the now-deceased, corrupt despot, Yasser Arafat. 

Frimet quoted a Hamad speech delivered on February 29, 2008 that had been broadcast on the Hamas Al Aqsa television channel, reaching an exclusively Arabic-speaking audience, unfortunately. MEMRI fixed that; they translated it to English, under the title "We Used Women and Children as Human Shields" and put it where the world could see and pay attention:
"For the Palestinian people", Hammad boasts in Arabic, "death has become an industry at which women excel and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this and so do the mujahideen and the children... This is why they [the Palestinian people] have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine."

Frimet recalled how Ashrawi had appeared on the CBS "Sixty Minutes" program back in October 2000 [transcript here], injecting heat but not so much light into an interview with the show's Bob Simon:
"To me this is the essence, the epitome, of racism... They're telling us we are – we have no feelings for our children? We're not parents? We're not mothers or fathers? This is just incredible.

As Frimet wrote in that 2008 post: Indeed it is. But we in the Middle East learned long ago that reality can be incredible.

24-Nov-14: Destroying their own children's lives is not the worst option for the terrorists. In their eyes, it may even be the best

Golda Meir visits a Milwaukee elementary school, 1969
[Image Source]
Khaled Abu Toameh, writing for the Gatestone Institute today, reviews the unsatisfied list of demands the jihadists of Hamas have made in the three months since the latest phase of their ongoing war with Israel segued into a ceasefire, explains why they are not going to get what they want, and predicts a bad outcome:
  • The only option Hamas faces, therefore, is to attack Israel again as a way of ridding itself of the severe crisis in the Gaza Strip and the growing frustration among Palestinians living there. Hamas's biggest fear is that this frustration will be translated into disillusionment with its regime. That is why Hamas is now seeking to direct the anger on the Palestinian street toward Israel... 
  • Hamas is now talking about an imminent "explosion" against Israel if the promises to rebuild Gaza are not fulfilled. Some Hamas representatives even have the audacity to hold Israel fully responsible for hindering the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip...
  • Hamas's threats against Israel should be taken seriously, especially in light of reports that the movement is continuing to prepare for another war. Hamas not only continues to dig tunnels under the border with Israel [as we wrote here: "23-Nov-14: Gaza's wealth and where it is - and is not - going"]; it has also been test-firing rockets into the Mediterranean Sea...
  • Hamas does not have much left to lose in another military confrontation with Israel. The killing of a few hundred more Palestinians in the Gaza Strip will allow Hamas to shift attention from its failure to rebuild the Gaza Strip to blaming Israel for "waging another war" on the Palestinians...
  • Hamas is also hoping that another war will further increase anti-Israel sentiment around the world and earn the Palestinians even more sympathy.
Hamas continues to funnel jihad-centric hatred into the heads, hearts and blood stream of Gaza's children ensuring a steady stream of willing cannon fodder. Of all the options open to the Gazan regime, the one that focuses on the well-being, safety and health of their people, and especially their children, comes stone, motherless last.  Bottom of the list. Not worthy of serious consideration. 

The Hamas terrorists who murdered our beautiful daughter sought a children-rich, explicitly-Jewish target and then boasted about it on camera. So we have long felt it's right, moral and essential to remind people at every chance of how the savages of Hamas see children, even their own people's children (though not necessarily their own actual offspring, as we will explain).

Last year, we quoted the Hamas regime's Minister of the Interior, an especially loathsome individual called Fathi Hammad ["27-Jan-14: In Gaza, a death cult celebrates its graduating class"]. His theme was children. Even now, it makes our blood run cold to hear the man's words:
"Sons and brothers, you do not have much time to train. Study, conduct training, become experts and be inventive, with the help of Allah. The battle will be your battle. The Jihad will be your Jihad. Palestine is your land, Islam is your religion, and Allah is your God. The Messenger is your role model, and the Koran is your constitution. You have been planted by Allah, and therefore, you will harvest the enemies of Allah in the battle to come... We pray for Allah to choose martyrs and leaders from among you – and not only in Palestine, but throughout planet Earth, so that the call for Jihad will be spread all over the world, and the entire world will embrace the religion of Allah." 
Hamad's own child needed the best possible medical care in April 2010 following a botched medical procedure in Gaza. Like other Hamas insiders, he had little hesitation in getting her across the border into an Israeli children's hospital ward. Her life was saved by the Israeli medical team. He later thanked those responsible for the act of salvation, carefully avoiding any mention of Israel. [For similar expressions of screw-you Hamas fat-cats, see "20-Oct-14: Sincere wishes for a complete and thorough recovery as soon as possible", "18-Nov-13: When Hamas insiders need the best care around, to which Zionist Entity do they turn?", "23-Apr-12: Does a people really get the leadership it deserves? Ask the Palestinian ruling class as they make their way to Israeli medical centers"]

But in the Palestinian Arab world, sociopathic views of what children are good for are not a Hamas monopoly. Consider a Fatah (not Hamas) poster that is central to a piece we wrote here a while back ["1-Feb-12: A video that reveals more about how the war against the terrorists is going than a shelf-full of analyses"]
The text [of the Fatah poster] reads: "Our children are our honor and glory. They were created to be fertilizer for the land of Palestine, and for our pure land to be saturated with their blood." [Our comment at the time:] What kind of future do youngsters raised to see themselves as fertilizer build for themselves? And who is at fault? - because someone surely is.
The nausea-inducing Palestinian Arab leadership's disregard of the welfare of their own people's children is hardly a new phenomenon. Most people have heard of the famous epigram attributed to the late prime minister of Israel, Golda Meir, who said to the National Press Club in Washington nearly sixty years ago: Peace will come only when the Arabs love their children more than they hate ours. Too true then, even more strikingly true today.

So many decades; so little advancement.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

23-Nov-14: Global terror: just how well did we think the world was doing?

Image Source
For only the second time (the first was a year earlier), a systematic ranking of global terrorism by country has just been published. It delivers some startling findings.

The 2014 edition of the Global Terrorism Index (GTI), produced by an organization modestly named Institute for Economics & Peace, headquartered in Sydney
is an attempt to systematically rank the nations of the world according to terrorist activity. The index combines a number of factors associated with terrorist attacks to build an explicit picture of the impact of terrorism over a 10-year period, illustrating trends, and providing a data series for analysis by researchers and policymakers... [source]
It's a major work, filled with interesting data-driven insights about terrorism in 2013 across the world, and by comparison with the past:
  • 87 countries experienced a terrorist incident; the number was 81 in 2012. That's a 7.4% year-on-year increase by our figuring.
  • The number of people murdered by terrorists (the study calls such events deaths, which we think is somewhat missing the point) in 2013 was 17,958. For the previous year, it was 11,133. According to our spreadsheet, that's a year-on-year increase of 61.3%.
  • And for those who still think the forces of good are prevailing over the terrorists, this shrieking siren: "The number of people who have died from terrorist activity has increased fivefold since the year 2000". That's a global statistic, and it ought to shake us.
  • In some ways, the data seem to say terrorism is a highly localized problem. 60 per cent of all attacks (by number) occurred in a handful of countries; Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. But the entire rest of the world, apart from these five, experienced a 54 per cent increase in terrorist events during 2013, year on year. Kind of hard to make the case that we're overcoming the threat.
  • From the GTI report
  • Still, the authors try to offer comfort in this statistic: more than 85 per cent of all 2013 terror incidents "were successful". (How does that compare with attempted bank robberies, attempted rapes, attempted murders, across the globe in 2013? We don't know.) The "good" news? In 2011, the success rate exceeded 90%. So, compared to that, things are looking up, right? Wonderful.
Here's the most serious point we want to make, and it's not about the numbers but the words. Like most observers of terror and like the entire global news reporting industry, the GTI repeatedly uses the expression "suicide bombers". It's a usage we wish could be eliminated because it's wrong on several levels. It puts the focus on the perpetrators, and simply ignores the victims. It connotes an unwarraned degree of selflessness that in some quarters is understood as bravery, or even heroism - and that's simply deplorable. But the main point is that bombings carried out by terrorists who conceal the explosives on their person are not about suicide at all, but about murder The death of the person carrying the bomb is incidental to the plan; those behind the plan virtually always include people who are not injured by the explosion, and were never endangered by it in any way. We think the terms "human bomb" and "human bomb attack" are more accurate. We wish they were widely adopted instead, and try to encourage everyone we meet to take the same view.

We speak often, in front of many different kinds of audience, about how terror impacts societies and ordinary people, and we almost always finish with words to the effect that the war against the terrorists is certain to get much worse before it gets better. The statistics, sad to say, seem to be with us.

23-Nov-14: Partial reporting from the lethal Gaza border

The BBC has a major story to tell at this hour:

A cold-blooded attempt by trigger-happy IDF soldiers to raise the body count? Maybe. But why does the BBC not also report what Israeli news channels have been reporting since early this morning? That two Palestinian Arabs — one armed with a grenade — were detained near the Kerem Shalom crossing (on the Israel/Gaza border) after infiltrating into Israeli territory just a short time before. Times of Israel knows it. The Jerusalem Post knows it. For crying out loud, even the Palestinian Maan News Agency knows it. But the BBC makes no mention of it at all.

23-Nov-14: Who cares about rebuilding Gazan lives?

Kerem Shalom crossing seen from the Israeli side, August 2014
More than an ordinary stream of trucks; a lifeline [Image Source]
If you have not already seen our post from earlier today (including video) of Hamas trumpeting the tunnels they are busy digging and/or repairing in order to murder more Jews ["23-Nov-14: Gaza's wealth and where it is - and is not - going"], please do that before reading on. It's at the top of the list of messages Hamas is delivering to its captive population and the larger Arabic-speaking world.

Back? OK, so if it's not the thugs of Hamas (and it is surely not), who is taking seriously the need of the Palestinian Arab Gazans for repaired houses and a better life? From the Jerusalem Post:
Under an arrangement reached last month to ensure that building materials needed to rebuild the thousands of homes destroyed in the seven-week Operation Protective Edge are not diverted to build terror tunnels or manufacture rockets, the UN is to present Israeli engineers with construction plans, and the engineers will determine how much cement is needed. That cement then will be allowed into Gaza in stages, to enable inspection to ensure that it is being used for the designated purpose. If it is determined that the cement is being stolen and used for other purposes, the supply will stop. A recent assessment conducted by the UN found that more than 100,000 homes in Gaza remained damaged or destroyed. The first batch of construction materials since the Gaza military operation in the summer entered the Strip from Israel in September... ["25,000 Gazans to get access to construction materials to rebuild homes",, November 22, 2014]
Keep in mind the mentality of the parties concerned.
  • Israel fights the Hamas regime because of the jihadists' rockets, terror tunnels and single-minded desire to kill as many of us as possible. The fight that it fights can, given the circumstances, be devastating. (It's hard for us to see the logic of Israel doing less than that.) But at the same time, and with essentially the same goal in mind, Israel permits a steady flow of goods, services and electrical energy to traverse its roads and borders even while the Gazans are firing rockets into Israeli towns. Israeli repair crews, for instance (among many instances) risked their lives worked on fixing the high-voltage cables running into Gaza [see report] even while those Gazan rockets were being fired at them in August. Those cables had been put out of action by Hamas/Islamic Jihad Gazan rocket fire.
  • The Hamas inner circle systematically fails to provide anything close to a livable environment for the people they dominate. They consistently point to other parties (always other parties) who they say are responsible for almost everything, even including Gaza's own security. But - and this is mostly unknown to the Gazans themselves - when their own wives, children and close family members need the best possible, most conscientious and professional medical care, to which Zionist entity do they run (with not the slightest sign of embarrassment)?
Who cares about rebuilding Gazan houses and lives? Who cares about the Gazans?

According to the most recent daily report filed by the people at COGAT, Israel supervised the entry across its Gazan border of 1,014 people that day (last Monday), as well as the entry of 274 trucks carrying 7,335 tons of goods for the people of Gaza. An additional 94 semi-trailers that had been authorized and scheduled by the Israeli side (this has consistently happened over the years, as we know from visiting the crossings) simply did not show up. Requests for a entry/crossing permit from the Israelis is seen by the Hamas side as part of a war strategy, and dealt with accordingly, consequences be damned. Some 600 kg of Gazan fish were trucked through Israel to the towns of the Palestinian Authority the same day.

And there is some additional somewhat startling background, here: "Egypt tightens closure on Gaza as Israel eases it" [Ynet, yesterday].

A strange form of warfare, no? But it tells a reasonable person something about the relative values of the human societies on the two sides.

23-Nov-14: Gaza's wealth and where it is - and is not - going

Khaled Mashaal: Almost inconceivably wealthy
Hamas top dog, in his non-Gaza residence
A flurry of recent reports, like this one from Haaretz and a post of ours ["16-Nov-14: Gazan money, Gazan terror"], say that Hamas is now the world's second wealthiest terror organization. It has income on the order of a billion US dollars per year. And it's not just the organization: among its kleptocratic leadership are some newly-super-wealthy career-terrorists, prominent among them Mousa Abu Marzouk and Khaled Mashaal, Arafat would have admired their cynical brazenness.

Keep that in mind as we revisit the matter of how the damage from this summer's war with Israel is (or is not) being repaired.

A BBC report ["Gaza reconstruction facing obstacles despite aid"] reminds us that the International Donor Conference in Cairo on October 12, 2014
ended with pledges to Gaza that added up to about $5.4bn (£3.4bn)... a powerful signal that help was at hand. The reality is slightly more complex... Of that $5.4bn,, about half has been earmarked for the direct repair of war-damage - the reconstruction of buildings, roads, electricity supply lines and sewerage systems. It is not immediately clear how the rest of the money will be spent - but Gaza has no shortage of needs.
(About that mystery, the rest of the money is likely intended to be appropriated by Fatah officials. Which when you think about it - and this April 2014 post of ours can help - is quite outrageous.)

Most people will understand those Gazan needs to include improved water supply and sewage disposal, better roads, schools that begin to approach the needs of a 21st century society, decent hospitals, medical supplies, and so on. Not a short or inexpensive list. You don't need a great imagination or deep familiarity with Gaza's generations-old misery to figure that out.

Osama Hamdan, one of those senior expatriate Palestinian Arab "leadership" figures, is quoted during October by a sympathetic online publication saying
"Hamas is not going to spare any effort to support the reconstruction mission... The real goal of the reconciliation [with Fatah, with whom there are in reality endless cat fights] is to serve the Palestinian people and their cause,"
To illustrate what Hamdan means about Hamas serving the Palestinian Arabs, and what is truly on the top of the Hamas collective mind, here's a new video. It was posted just yesterday by a Palestinian "news agency" with the usual sort of agenda ("to expose the crimes of the occupation against the Palestinian people"). And as clearly as video can, it demonstrates the current reality: what's being done right now with the Gazan Palestinian Arab people's resources:

The military-sounding audio track, the typical grinding chant of the male voices, the manly men with guns and uniforms - as if this were a real military with discipline, rules, principles and so on - make clear that Hamas - far from acknowledging that they brought destruction onto the heads of the Gaza beleagured population - are on the road to the next installment of their ongoing jihad. And let the consequences fall where they may.

That, plainly, is their message to their own people in their own language. What they tell the world, and especially the money sources, is an entirely other matter.

So let's go back to what the donor governments who are providing that astronomical quantum of money were told it's all for (source: the Donor Conference website):
The goal of the conference is to strengthen the basis of the ceasefire and improving political solution prospects for the conflict through:
(i) Strengthening the Palestinian government's ability to assume its responsibility in the rehabilitation of Gaza Strip.
(ii) Enhancing the existing UN mechanism for import and export of goods and materials to and from Gaza.
(iii) Providing the financial support required for reconstructing Gaza Strip.
Not much evidence in the Hamas video clip above of those goals being achieved. In fact, not even a whisper. The tax-payers of the main giving states might want to ask their treasury people whether the cheques are already signed. They include Qatar ($1bn). Saudi Arabia ($500m), Turkey ($200m), United Arab Emirates ($200m), the European Union ($568m), the United States ($212m) and the United Kingdom ($32m).

Looking on the slightly-less-dark side, we can hope the analyst from the BBC was right when he wrote:
It is a simple truth that governments do not always honour pledges they make to good causes at moments of international crisis. Palestinian officials have said that most of the money pledged after Gaza's conflict with Israel in 2009 for example never came. So for the moment that $5.4bn has a rather theoretical feel to it - but it is reasonable to assume that a substantial amount of money is on its way.
For the sake of the victims of the Hamas Billionaire's Club, let's hope he's right about the first part of his assessment. And wrong about the second.

And a request: if anyone finds online video of Gaza reconstruction and repairs now underway, please email us right away. That would be something worth reporting. Then again, as the BBC notes
However quickly and completely those donor nations cough up the cash, the truth is that without some sort of political progress between Israel and the Palestinians - of which there is absolutely no sign - there is no guarantee that anything rebuilt in Gaza this year or next year won't simply be destroyed again in the next conflict.
That very likely includes those shiny new, concrete-lined millions-of-dollars-each terrorism tunnels.