Thursday, July 24, 2014

As Gaza sends rockets to Israel, Israel sends food and fuel to Gaza

Major media still refers to Israel's "siege" of Gaza.

Yet not only hasn't there been any sort of "siege" by any definition, there isn't even a siege today during wartime. 

In the entire history of warfare, never has a nation given so much aid to the enemy as Israel does right now.

Israel, so vilified in so many demonstrations and articles and clueless newscasts, is providing food, fuel, medicines, setting up a field hospital, allowing patients to go to hospitals in Israel, and even helping fix the infrastructure that is being damaged by Hamas rockets!

The IDF's COGAT is even giving instructions on how people around the world can get their own humanitarian supplies into Gaza. 

Here is their summary as of Thursday morning:

Usually, the Kerem Shalom crossing is closed on Friday - but the IDF is opening it for industrial fuel, diesel and cooking gas.

This is, of course, all but ignored by the media intent to paint Israel as targeting children.

It's amazing how so many reporters in the region can miss so many stories.

Poor Yaseen Al Kilani. Hamas says he was killed three times.

Yesterday, Israellycool made the interesting discovery that many of the names of the Gaza casualties listed by Al Jazeera (which gets its names from the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry) were listed more than once.

He counted about 33 names that were listed twice, out of less than 600 listed with known names.

I just looked at the list myself, and I count even more - some 42 names out of 592 are listed more than once! They usually have different spellings but it is clear they are the same names.

Even worse, two people are listed as being killed three times! And by sheer coincidence - they are both children!

8 or 9 year old Yaseen Ibrahim Dib al-Kilani was also listed as Yaseen Ibrahim Dieb Alkilani and Yaser Ibrahim Dib al-Kilani.

13 or 14 year old Hiba Hamed Mohammed Alshiekh Khalil/Hiba Hamid Alsheikh Khalil was also listed three times, the second spelling done twice and noted as a duplicate in the list, but still there and counted separately.

This means 7% of the names being solemnly offered to the world media are double or triple counted.

By contrast, I only counted 5 duplicates in the PCHR list of the over 1400 names listed  after Cast Lead.

Of course, this list doesn't list the other lies - people who were killed by Hamas rockets, people who were executed as "collaborators" (reportedly 9 of those,) and those who may have died of natural causes that are being counted as casualties. Hamas doesn't exactly have a great track record of being honest.

My only question for the many reporters still using Hamas numbers: Once it is proven that a source is a liar, is it standard practice to continue to trust it?

You know, I'm not a professional journalist, only a mere blogger. Perhaps I don't understand the rules as well as the guys who get paid to do this. I'm willing to learn. After all, if I start loosening my standards, blogging the news will become a whole lot easier.

07/24 Links Pt2: A salute to lone soldiers; Col. Kemp: Hamas has commmitted War Crimes

From Ian:

Richard Kemp Analysis: The war crimes have been committed by Hamas
Hamas have learnt many lessons from their defeat in the two previous Israeli operations in Gaza. They are better at concealing their rocket launchers and have developed a vast complex of concrete lined underground tunnels using resources that could have been spent on alleviating the plight of their hapless civilian population.
These tunnels protect their munitions from air attack and allow rockets and launchers to be moved about the battlefield immune from air attack. Their commanders also skulk underground while their fighters and civilians die in the mayhem above.
Because of this, only so much can be achieved from the air. The current Israeli ground assault is restricted to locating, clearing and destroying attack tunnels that threaten civilians across the border. If Hamas do not agree to cease their rocket fire, the IDF may well have to expand the operation to take on the network of rocket launchers and command bunkers deep inside the Gaza Strip.
I have spent time in the last week speaking to IDF soldiers on the Gaza border. Their job is extremely dangerous and they know it. Yet, like their British counterparts whom they so closely resemble, every one was stoical, good-humoured and ready to close with the enemy to defend their families at home.
I pay tribute to the more than 30 soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. They have made the greatest contribution to their country that is possible. We owe them our support. Not just out of respect for their courage and sacrifice but because their war is our war, too. They are fighting the 21st century scourge of Islamist terrorism at democracy’s front line.
Col Richard Kemp was Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan (h/t Yoel)
'IDF does more than any other army to prevent civilian deaths'
INTERVIEW: Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, talks to Ynet about Israel's military and moral superiority over Hamas, and says Israel should hit Gaza harder and faster.
Israel's military makes more effort than any other army to prevent civilian casualties, but should be more aggressive in Gaza, says Colonel (ret.) Richard Kemp CBE, the former commander of the British armed forces in Afghanistan and fierce international advocate for the IDF.
"I would like to see the IDF operating much faster, going in perhaps harder and faster, that's what I would like to see," Kemp told Ynet on Wednesday.
"But having said that, I recognize - as you recognize - the pressures on Israel from all around the world to absolutely minimize the number of civilian casualties they're causing", he added. "I believe that on the basis of everything that I've seen, that everything the IDF does to protect civilians and to stop the death of innocent civilians is a great deal more than any other army, and it's more than the British and the American armies." (h/t Yoel)
JPost Editorial: A salute to lone soldiers
There has been an overwhelming outpouring of solidarity over the three lone soldiers (in Israel without close family) killed in clashes with Hamas in the Gaza Strip over the weekend.
Tens of thousands attended the Jerusalem funeral on Wednesday of St.-Sgt. Max Steinberg, 24, who grew up in California. On Tuesday night, there was a massive turnout for the funeral in Ashkelon of St.-Sgt. Jordan Bensemhoun (Ben-Simon), 22, who was born and raised in Lyon, France. And the previous night, a spontaneous social media campaign led to masses attending the Haifa funeral of Sgt. Sean (Nissim) Carmeli, 21, who was raised in Texas by Israeli parents.
All three young men were, by all accounts, exceptional human beings, Jews and Zionists who made aliya in the prime of their lives and joined the IDF’s elite Golani Brigade.
They excelled during their service and made the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Protective Edge. We offer heartfelt condolences to their families.
30,000 attend Mount Herzl funeral of US-born IDF soldier
Sgt. Max Steinberg, a U.S.-born Golani Brigade soldier who fell in battle in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, was laid to rest on Wednesday on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
Around 30,000 Israelis attended Steinberg's funeral, making it one of the largest in the history of the Mount Herzl military cemetery.
Steinberg, 24 at the time of his death, was born and raised in Los Angeles. In June 2012, Steinberg, joined by his younger siblings Jake and Paige, visited Israel for the first time on a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip and fell in love with the country. After the trip was over, Steinberg decided he would move to Israel and enlist in the Israel Defense Forces.

Abbas chooses Hamas over peace. Again.

Who says there is no unity?

Mahmoud Abbas, faced with a decision to support or oppose Hamas terror, decided that terror is the way to go. He praised the Hamas "resistance" - which means he is praising rockets to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Here is the official announcement from the PA leadership (translation by MEMRI):
The Palestinian leadership, headed by Mahmoud 'Abbas, held an emergency meeting tonight to study the recent developments in the national activity, as part of its confrontation with the criminal terrorist aggression being carried out by Israel against our steadfast people in the brave Gaza Strip.

The leadership heard the announcement by President Abu Mazen at the beginning of the meeting, and expressed its appreciation for the efforts that he has made on the international and regional level and for [his efforts] to connect with the leaderships of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. [The leadership] stressed the importance of continuing these efforts, and of continuing the coordination and the joint activity on all levels. This comes as part of strengthening the Palestinian national unity under the flag of the PLO, our only legitimate representative.

[The leadership] praises the steadfastness of our people in its courageous resistance against the occupation army that is carrying out ongoing massacres and crimes.

The leadership has stressed that our entire people, both in and outside the homeland, stands assertively alongside Gaza and alongside its bleeding people, at every hour, in defense of the Palestinian homeland, the rights of the people, and the national Palestinian enterprise.

The heroic Gaza is today [our] defensive shield, because it heads the ranks to protect our land, our rights, and our steadfast and sacred goals of liberation, return, and independence.

The Palestinian leadership has called on our people to take the most extensive and ongoing popular action in order to express steadfastness alongside the heroic Gaza and its courageous resistance and against the army of aggression and its ongoing crimes. We are certain that Gaza will not break as long as it [enjoys] the cohesion of our entire people...

Likewise, the Palestinian leadership has called for expanding the campaign of international solidarity with the brave and steadfast Gaza, for calling on all the international organizations and bodies, for condemning the crimes of the occupiers, and for acting intensively to prosecute its leaders and senior officials in international courts for these crimes. Also, it calls on the entire world to reject the misleading propaganda being spread by the government of the occupation and the aggression."

Gaza's demands for a halt to the aggression and the removal of the siege, in all its forms, are the demands of the entire Palestinian people, and it is to the implementation of this goal that the Palestinian leadership is devoting all its capabilities."
Abba Eban famously said that Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. In this case, though, a different rule is in effect:

Arabs, no matter how much they hate each other, will always hate Israel more.

Nothing is going to change that.

Of course, Hamas has no love for Fatah and Abbas. Their idea of "unity" has always been imposing their own, Islamic supremacist worldview on the more "moderate" factions. Abbas happily goes along with this, because deep down there is no ideological difference between his party and Hamas, just he is more sensitive to Western pressure.

Assuming that Israel is less moral than Hamas is pure bigotry

It started this morning with a tweet from UNRWA head Chris Gunness:

It spread like wildfire, with over 1200 retweets.

Gunness piled on, urging his followers to retweet his messages about supposed Israeli atrocities:

Soon it was in the news:



The Washington Post's headline was "Israel shells UN-run school in Gaza Strip." (since changed.)

The New York Times (since changed):

Even the Jewish Telegraphic Agency joined the bandwagon:

I had written  at the outset of this war that the number one mistake reporters were likely to make is assuming that all Gaza casualties are the result of Israeli fire.

And that is exactly what happened.

As usual, the IDF was slow to respond. And they still have not responded definitively. But here's what we know so far from them, facts that Chris Gunness and Hamas are unlikely to admit:

Times of Israel adds the latest:

Errant Israeli shell, Palestinian rocket may have hit school — Channel 2An Israeli mortar shell may have hit the UNRWA school in which 15 Palestinians are said to have been killed today, Channel 2′s Ehud Ya’ari says, citing Israeli military sources. It was one of nine shells fired at a Hamas target — but went off course, “possibly” hitting the school instead.
Ya’ari adds, however, that a Palestinian rocket also hit the compound, and indicates that UNRWA officials have acknowledged this. Two hours ago, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness tweeted that Hamas rockets were falling in Beit Hanoun, where the school is located, earlier today.

So either someone fired from the school and the IDF responded - unlikely, based on how careful the IDF was to ensure the Wafa hospital was empty before firing at it - or Hamas rockets hit the school, killing the innocent, or there was a mistake on Israel's side with an "errant shell."

Whatever the truth is, to make a blanket assumption that Israel is at fault is not reporting, but advocacy.

The media across the board assumed that this was an Israeli strike, based on sources known to lie and to be consistently biased.

I tweeted these questions out to the world.

If it wasn't an airstrike, why does the media think it is more likely that Israel shelled a UNRWA school than Hamas? Is it more inconceivable that Hamas would attack its own people than Israel deliberately attacking civilians? Who gains from such an action?

The only explanation for the headlines is that, to the world media, Israel is a bloodthirsty nation.

The logic is sickening.

On the one hand there is a professional army, with mountains of guidelines and layers of lawyers all for the purpose of ensuring that their wartime activities are legal under international law. An army that has weapons that can be aimed carefully and precisely. An army that can destroy a car of terrorists while leaving people a few meters away unhurt. An army that warns the enemy populace to leave so they don't get hurt.

And, an army with huge disincentives to kill innocent civilians.

On the other side are - terrorist organizations, in the purest sense of the word. Groups that purposefully put their people in harm's way. Groups that shed their uniforms and purposefully place themselves and their weapons among civilians. Groups that shoot their own fellow Arabs because of feuds, or suspicions, or honor.  Groups that have killed dozens of their own people this year from assassinations, work accidents, and rocket misfires.

Not to mention that these are groups that are frustrated that they have not managed to kidnap any Israelis, and frustrated that their best fighters are being killed by the dozen.

And even more importantly - groups whose major strategy is to influence world public opinion by maximizing deaths among their own population.

Forget the likelihood of this being an accidental Qassam rocket or mortar volley. How unlikely is it that Hamas would purposefully fire into a UNRWA building - a building that symbolizes the entire world community - in order to deal a crushing blow to Israel's ability to wage war against it? Who has the most to gain from the deaths of dozens of civilians?

If the media was remotely objective, there is no way that they would assume that the IDF had fired those shells.  On the contrary, they would have been asking these questions of Chris Gunness within minutes of his first tweet, instead of slavishly retweeting it themselves (as many did.)

The IDF isn't perfect, but if the IDF was as bloodthirsty as the headlines imply, then Gaza would have 70,000 dead by now, not 700.

There is no objectivity here. The a priori assumption of IDF guilt is evidence that the media truly thinks that the IDF is a sickeningly depraved army, the exact opposite of what has been seen over and over again even during this conflict (for those who care about the truth.)

Assuming that the IDF is morally depraved and at the same time not even entertaining the idea that Hamas, which brags that it targets civilians, could be behind this incident is proof positive that it is the media that is depraved and immoral. 

07/24 Links Pt1: Hamas Uses Humanitarian Aid for Evil; Who is responsible for the suffering in Gaza?

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Why Abbas Endorsed Hamas Demands
Evidently, Abbas has reached the conclusion that unless he hurries up and declares his support for the Palestinian "resistance" groups in the Gaza Strip, his people will march on his office and force him to quit.
That prospect is probably why Abbas decided this week to send his wife and grandchildren to stay at the family's residence in Amman, Jordan. According to various reports, members of Abbas's families left Ramallah "secretly" and headed for Jordan amid increased criticism of the Palestinian Authority president.
Witnesses said that security has been intensified around the home and office of Abbas in Ramallah out of concern for his safety.
Abbas's fear of a Palestinian revolt against his regime has driven him into the open arms of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Another reason for the unexpected change in Abbas's policy could be related to a promise he received from Qatar to provide the Palestinian Authority with financial aid. If true, this would strain relations between Abbas and al-Sisi, who is despised by Qatar -- the largest funder of Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
Alan Dershowitz: How selective body counts incite more violence
During a two day period this past week while dozens of Palestinians and several Israelis were killed, the media failed to report that in neighboring Syria, 700 Arabs and Muslims were killed in just two days of fighting. This constitutes only a tiny fraction of the 160,000 people killed in Syria during the ongoing civil war. According to the Britain-Based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 53,978 civilians have been killed including 8,607 children and 5,586 women. Many if not most of these deaths were deliberate—part of calculated efforts on both sides of the conflict to maximize civilian casualties.
Yet this body count has received little notice compared to the far smaller body count in Israel and Gaza. Why is this? Is it because when Arabs and Muslims deliberately kill other Arabs and Muslims, that deserves less attention than when Israelis kill Arabs and Muslims, even in self-defense and in an effort to prevent the murder of their own civilians? If so, this is racism pure and simple, and the application of a noxious double standard. The lives of all human beings have worth, and the death of Arabs and Muslims at the hands of other Arabs and Muslims deserve as much media coverage as the deaths of Arabs and Muslims that are caused by Israel's efforts to protect its own civilians.
The media's exclusive focus on the death toll in Gaza—without explaining that it is largely Hamas' fault and part of its media strategy—incites hatred and anti-Semitism around the world. It has incited violence against Jews and Jewish institutions in many cities. Much of this violence comes from radicals on the hard left and from radical Islamists. But a recent incident in Italy shows that bigoted hate can come from the mouths of intellectuals as well as the fists of rabble rousers. Gianni Vattimo, who has been called Italy's most famous philosopher, recently announced that he would personally, "like to shoot those bastard Zionists," calling them "a bit worse than the Nazis". He said he was planning to launch a fundraising campaign to buy better rockets for Hamas so that this Jew-hating group can kill more Zionists, by which he means Jewish Israelis. He urged European volunteers to join Hamas and fight alongside of them against Israel, as volunteers fought against Franco during the Spanish Civil War.
The U.S.-Israel Alliance: No Apologies Necessary
First, there is no change in U.S. policy toward Israel that will win any true allies in the Muslim world, no matter what its leaders claim. They often assert that only if we would solve the Palestinian-Israeli problem first, relations would improve. This is a tactic. These leaders employ it simply to divert Western officials from making demands on them instead of on Israel. The reality is that most Arabs view the U.S., its European allies, and Israel with ineradicable contempt.
No Arab state has recognized the legitimacy of a Jewish -- or often even a pluralistic -- state in Palestine. Egypt and Iraq have been persecuting their Christians, only because the Jews were all forced out already; and many Muslim countries cannot even abide each other, as seen every day in the Shia-Sunni conflict, still under way after centuries.
This struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is not about land. If it were, there would have been a two-state solution long ago. Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat would have said yes to the Camp David Plan offered by President Clinton and former Israeli Prime Minister Barak. The current strife between the Hamas terrorist movement and Israel is just another stage in the permanent state of Arab hostility towards the existence of a Jewish state in the region.
Stand with US: Who is responsible for the suffering in Gaza?

Hamas Al Qassam offices are next to the emergency room at Shifa Hospital (UPDATE)

French-Palestinian journalist Radjaa Abu Dagga tells of his harrowing experience with Hamas' Al Qassam Brigades in Liberation:

Correspondent Radjaa Abu Dagga for years divided his time between Paris, where his wife and son live, and Gaza, where his parents live and where he works. On 18 June, when he wanted to cross the Rafah border, an officer banned his way and took his passport like all Palestinians trying to cross into Egypt that day.

After four blocked attempts to leave Gaza without explanation over weeks, the Palestinian journalist was summoned by the security services of Hamas on Sunday. "I received a call from a private number. They summoned me to Al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza City center, " explains Radjaa. He carried with him his two phones, his press card and a small camera.

A few meters from the emergency room where the injured from bombings are constantly flowing, in the outpatient department, he was received in "a small section of the hospital used as administration" by a band of young fighters. They were all well dressed, which surprised Radjaa, "in civilian clothing with a gun under one's shirt and some had walkie-talkies " . He was ordered to empty his pockets, removing his shoes and his belt then was taken to a hospital room "which served that day as the command office of three people."

A man begins his interrogation: "Who are you? Who do you call? What are you doing?" "I was very surprised by the procedure," admits Radjaa, who showed him his press card in response. Questions came. They asked if he speaks Hebrew, he has relations with Ramallah. Young Hamas supporters insistently ask the question: "Are you a correspondent for Israel?" Radjaa repeated that only works for French media and a chain of Algerian radio.

It was then that the three men deliveed this message: "This is yours to choose. We are an executive administration. We will carry the message of Qassams. You have to stay at home and give us your papers. " Stunned to be covered by the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, Radjaa tried to defend himself and especially to understand why such a decision was taken against him. In vain. "It is impossible to communicate with these people," laments the journalist.

He is not the first to undergo this kind of pressure and combatants in front of him did not hide. "They are enraged against the presidency and accused me of collaborating with Mahmoud Abbas," he says. Reporters Without Borders confirms that this is not an isolated case. The organization has indeed been alerted by the threats of Hamas against Palestinian and foreign journalists for their professional activities.
There are many journalists that have been hanging around Al Shifa hospital. Very few have mentioned that the terrorist wing of Hamas is even present, let alone set up next to the emergency room.

Is it because they are pro-Hamas? Is it Stockholm syndrome? Or is their hate of Israel so deep that anything that supports the IDF's assertions of Hamas war crimes is considered off limits?

But this is the fundamental story of the conflict: Hamas is using the entire population as human shields for their terror, ad they deliberately choose hospitals to ensure that either they are not targeted or that any Israeli actions will look barbaric.

The sad thing is, judging from many of the reports we have seen, most journalists are complicit in this.

My headline here should be a front page story. Dozens of journalists in Gaza know it is true from their own experience. And this story is being buried by the people the world depends on for their information.

(h/t Yoel)

UPDATE: The article has been taken down at Dagga's request.

The Jerusalem Post reported today that journalists who were writing things that Hamas doesn't like were being threatened. Since Dagga's parents are in Gaza, this seems very possible.

The article was copied here.

(h/t JudahE)

Egypt foils two attacks against Israel

Ma'an reports:

Egyptian military sources said that Egyptian troops killed a "suicide bomber" who tried to approach the Israeli border near Kerem Shalom military base on the border on Wednesday night.

The sources told Ma'an that the army also destroyed a vehicle loaded with Grad missiles shortly before they were launched towards Israeli territory.

The vehicle was spotted in Sheikh Zuweid in the North Sinai district before it was hit by artillery shells, killing two individuals inside.

According to the sources, the "suicide bomber" carried an explosive device in addition to an explosive belt on his body.

He was shot dead while running towards the border with Israel south of Rafah in what they said was an attempt to reach an Israeli military base in Kerem Shalom.
Egypt's rhetoric has been anti-Israel but its actions have shown that it hates Hamas much, much more. They have repeatedly banned foreigners from sending aid and doctors through Rafah, although the Egyptians themselves sent a token amount of medicines.

From Ammon News:
Egyptian authorities have denied on Sunday the entry of a Jordanian medical delegation into Gaza Strip via Rafah crossing.

The delegation includes five Jordanian doctors who reached Cairo on Friday en route to Gaza to participate in the treatment of the growing number of injuries as a result of the ongoing Israeli aggression on the besieged enclave.

The delegation was carrying medical equipment and devices offered by the Jordanian Committee to support the health sector in the Gaza Strip.

The delegates said that the Egyptian authorities barred their entry along with other Arab and foreign doctors.

Hamas helpfully explains what it means by "truce" (in Arabic, of course)

Mushir Al Masri is a member of Hamas parliament and one of the more prominent spokespeople for Hamas.

Here, he explains in Arabic exactly what Hamas has in mind with its "generous" offer of a hudna ("truce"):

Al Masri is also behind a quite different message aimed at Westerners:

Hamas claims its media campaign has helped unify Gazans behind it and stoke protests against Israel in cities around the world. "We were able to confront their media machine and to win the battle in most cases," said Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas spokesman.

He is pictured here, in front of a staged backdrop of a bombed out house, in Hamas' de facto headquarters in Shifa Hospital (a fact ignored by most media)  in a now deleted tweet by the WSJ's Nick Casey:

Here you have Hamas' media strategy in a nutshell. Hamas tries to appeal to Western "liberals" by parading dead babies in front of cameras while they "unify" their own people by predicting their own future massacres of Jewish babies.

(h/t Bob Knot)

13 Questions for Stephen Walt (guest post)

From Online Maccabee, responding to another of Stephen Walt's unhinged anti-Israel diatribes, this one in the Huffington Post:

13 Questions for Stephen Walt

Stephen Walt is at it again: ascribing nefarious policies to Jews that allegedly are against the best interests of the US and international communities. This time, in a piece for the Huffington Post, he insists Netanyahu is killing Palestinians for political reasons. Walt claims the Israeli government is trying to keep Hamas out of a Palestinian unity government so that Israel won’t have to face up to peacemaking. According to him, a Palestinian unity government with Hamas in it would be focused on peace whereas Israel ultimately wants “colonization.”

Walt obviously thinks he knows better than the Israeli experts on the ground. He hasn’t consulted with them as far as we know; he has not revealed any access to intelligence reports; nor has he shown us the minutes of even one meeting he has attended with Israeli officials. He just knows. How they are. Greedy, land grabbing colonists who are ready to kill innocents and manipulate the good American public in order to avoid peace.

Forget that Israel is the only country in the Middle East, and probably the world, whose territory has willingly shrunk by considerable proportions over the years. Forget that Hamas has a history of lying, and that they do not keep their agreements whereas Israel does. Forget that Hamas has spent all of its military budget on offense and zero on defense, whereas Israel has spent billions on defense. It’s Israel who doesn’t want peace.

But even more than that, let’s forget the importance of legal agreements, and the desire to keep the Palestinian Authority as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. The reason why Israel and Egypt blockaded Gaza when Hamas violently took over the territory after winning elections is because the two countries had an agreement with the Palestinian Authority for the safe transfer of goods through the border crossings. Egypt told Hamas to return the border crossings to the PA if they wanted Rafah reopened, but Hamas refused, and in the name of human rights, Israel and Egypt were largely blamed for a siege.

Walt also says that Palestinians have the right to resist occupation. OK, but Israel pulled out of Gaza nine years ago, and gave two years notice before it did so. Where were the blueprints for territorial development to alleviate Palestinian living conditions? Where were the donor conferences to stimulate growth? Where were the attempts to create a demilitarized zone that would become a haven for Palestinians to have self determination? Where was Walt? Or should I ask, where is he now? He’s telling Israel no again. But is putting the onus of responsibility singularly upon Jews really how to help Arabs?

Clearly, sociopolitical responsibility is neither his purview, nor that of Israel bashers who conveniently ignore all the proof that too many Palestinian powerbrokers have chosen war against Jews rather than the development of their own people; and have done so in concert with the willful negligence of the international community to the extreme detriment of the Palestinian populace. When Israel left Gaza with plenty of notice, it was the perfect opportunity for the world to show how much they care about uplifting the Palestinian condition. They failed, and blamed Israel for responding to rockets, which were imported simply as part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s desire to repress the only indigenous minority in the Middle East that has gained self-determination, rather than to maximize all they were given for the benefit of their own people. What Hamas is doing is not resisting occupation. It’s warmongering. Resisting occupation would mean building underground bunkers for civilians like Israel does, not attack tunnels directed at civilians, which Israel doesn’t. But, according to Walt, it’s Israel who prefers war over peace.

None of that matters, according to Walt, as to why the US public and government support Israel. It’s AIPAC’s fault for allegedly manipulating Americans against their best interests. But is that really true? Does Walt’s “smells like The Lobby” meme really pass the test of logic and evidence regarding support for Israel? Or could it be that the US supports Israel through shared cultural values about living in an open and accountable government that is threatened by repressive regimes? Is AIPAC manipulating Americans, or is the US public actually demonstrating moral consistency by supporting outposts of democracy?

Let’s ask him some questions to find out:

13 Questions for Stephen Walt

  1. If the “Israel Lobby” is in control of the US Government, why is Jonathan Pollard still in prison? In your answer, I would appreciate it if you would explain how an interest group can conscript an entire government to have a foreign policy that is against its own best interests more readily than they can spring just one guy out of lock up.
  2. You have claimed in the past that American support for Israel is responsible for generating mass consternation toward the USA throughout the Middle East. Please explain where else US support for an ally creates hatred.

    In your answer, please explain:

    -- Why isn’t there wide-spread hatred toward the USA by Kurds (not even the PKK) over our support and alliance (political and military) with Turkey, which has wrought suffering upon that population?

    -- Why isn’t there wide-spread hatred toward the USA by Western Saharans and their refugees in Tindouf (not even by the Polisario) over our support and alliance (political and military) with Morocco which refuses to recognize Saharawi sovereignty over Western Sahara?

    -- Why isn’t there wide-spread hatred toward the USA by Serbs over our support, recognition, and alliance (political and military) with Kosovo?

    -- Why haven’t there been any uprisings by Tibetans against the US providing China with economic power that translates into military hardware?

    All of these peoples have been denied sovereignty over (substantial parts or all of) their lands due to US relations with their rivals, but grassroots level hatred toward the USA among them is not nearly as widespread as it is among Palestinians and their allies. What makes the case of Palestine different in ways that justify their anger beyond that of any other suffering people, and put the onus squarely upon the “Israel Lobby” for blame?
  3. If anti-Zionism is legitimate international outrage toward “western colonialism,” and has not been purposely crafted by agenda-driven propaganda, how do you explain the claims that Israel as an illegitimate “western, colonialist outpost” on   Arab/Muslim lands, but not any international discussion of substance whatsoever (not even on a much smaller scale) about other modern colonialist outposts in the Muslim world with their own recent histories of abuse toward Muslims, such as the Spanish exclaves, Ceuta and Melilla? Is it the act of colonialism that creates resentment, or the identity of the one accused of doing it? Please explain.
  4. If it is true that the “Israel Lobby” is the driving force behind US governmental support of Israel to the detriment of American foreign relations with (nondemocratic) regimes in the Middle East, then who is responsible for US governmental support of Taiwan and South Korea to the detriment of American foreign relations with nondemocratic regimes in East Asia (e.g. China and North Korea), which are already nuclear and somewhat hostile toward the USA for reasons that have nothing to do with Israel?
  5. How can you discount that US support for Israel is directly related to US support for Taiwan and South Korea because they are all democracies threatened by nondemocracies? If there is a significant difference in American motivation to lend threatened democracies in East Asia our support from our (supposedly AIPAC-manipulated) support of a threatened democracy in West Asia, explain it.
  6. As a realist, why do you spend so much more time writing warnings about US support of Israel, which antagonizes Middle Eastern regimes instead of US support for Taiwan, which antagonizes the Peoples Republic of China? Do you think Middle Eastern regimes pose a more dire threat to US security than China? Please explain.
  7. Please support your claim that Jews are colonialists in Israel, Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, using stringent academic and (nonpoliticized) international criteria rather than populist lingo.

    In your answer, please explain how it is irrelevant to claims of colonialism that the land in question is ancestral to the (ethnic) Jewish people, that the identity of the Jewish people has been inseparable from it for millennia, and that the only people in both ancient and modern times to have self-determination on those lands are Jews.
  8. Embedded in your claims of Israeli (Jewish) colonialism and an end to the occupation is a call for the enfranchisement of a Palestinian state that today makes no accommodation for Jews to live among them. Currently, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Libya, and Jordan make it illegal for Jews to live there. Explain the morality behind the construction of a 7th Arab country that is de jure Judenrein, especially one formed on the ancestral lands of the Jewish people; and why resistance to that happening is colonialism.
  9. Please explain how it is possible, and logical, that the “Israel Lobby” is responsible for generating hatred toward the USA among populations in Middle Eastern countries that have a strong history of abuse and violence toward Palestinians.
  10. Please provide us with all the facts you have – basically a balance sheet -- to prove that antagonistic US foreign policy toward Iran is predominantly generated by the “Israel Lobby” and not by other “real politik” and special interest groups, such as those on behalf of American energy interests in the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea regions.
  11. It is well known that many hundreds of thousands of indigenous Middle Eastern Jews were turned into refugees by Arab regimes in the years following 1948 (even though they did not participate in war) and then subsequently absorbed by Israel. Explain how this does not constitute a legitimate population transfer, which was de facto initiated by Arab regimes similar to other population transfers in recent history, and how those Jews living in Judea are colonialists.
  12. Leaders and students of the national liberation movements of indigenous minorities throughout the Middle East, including KurdsBalochKabyliansBerbersAssyrians, and others, have been very vocal in their support for Israel. Why is their narrative less relevant than the narrative of the majority ethnic groups in the region? Is it resource control, or morality?
  13. When and where has your work brought tangible results resulting in improved public safety, trade relations, and/or US international influence so we can better understand why we should listen to you?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hamas shells field hospital set up to help Gazans (UPDATE)

On Sunday we saw this story:
The IDF announced on Sunday that it was setting up a field hospital at the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

The field hospital was set to begin functioning at 8 p.m. on Sunday.

The IDF said that it will serve mainly women and children and will include a delivery room.
So how is this working out?

Walla reports that Hamas has actively prevented injured Gazans from going to the hospital to be treated by Israel. Even worse, on Wednesday Hamas shot ten mortars at the hospital!

Yes, Hamas is targeting a hospital, something that the "human rights" community seems not to care much about in this case.

UPDATE: Yes, the hospital is live and treating Gazans who manage to get there.

During Cast Lead, the IDF set up a similar field hospital but Hamas didn't allow patients to go then either.

I explained why back in 2009, and the same reasons apply today, perhaps more so:
Why are Gazans not coming to the clinic? One would think that with thousands of injured civilians, including women and children, people would want to have the best care possible. No one would have any doubt that the Israeli doctors would do an excellent job and would have higher medical standards than those in Gaza. So why is it a failure so far?

The major reason is clearly Hamas. As the WHO official said, Hamas leaders would simply not allow Gazans to be treated there. A little thought would show why.

First of all, Hamas engineered the entire battle to maximize the number of Gazans who would die or be injured. Every day there are new deaths from injuries suffered during the fighting, and each time the number of dead tick up, Hamas has a new propaganda victory. It is not cynical to notice that Hamas values PR more than human lives; it is merely recognizing the cynicism of the terrorists.

The second reason is the flip-side of the first: Hamas does not want any news media to report that Israelis are selflessly treating Gazans. The contrast with the selfishness of Hamas, where they confiscated medical aid to treat terrorists at the expense of Gaza civilians, would not be flattering. Hamas needs to be looked upon as caring more about civilians than Israel is, and will go to any lengths to ensure that Israel does not appear humane.

Thirdly, there are more terrorists injured than Hamas is willing to admit, and they cannot go to Israel to risk capture.

The fourth reason is more insidious. Hamas has now enlisted an army of doctors who are willing to testify - really lie - about alleged Israeli use of white phosphorus, depleted uranium and DIME weapons. These doctors are happy to do so in order to be part of Hamas' jihad against Israel (or, in the case of the European doctors, to simply demonize Israel.)

Israeli doctors treating the same patients would see that these doctors are lying, and would have the physical proof.

A related thought is behind the fifth reason Hamas would never allow Israeli doctors to treat Gazans: because a percentage of Gazan civilian injuries are the direct result of Hamas and its allies' rockets, mortars and guns, as well as secondary explosions. We will never know how many of the innocent civilians who died or were injured were hurt from Hamas fire, but it is reasonable to assume that the numbers are significant.

There were reports from Israel that the tragic death of three daughters and a niece of a Palestinian doctor came not from Israel but from a Grad rocket, as determined by shrapnel removed by Israeli doctors who treated them.

We know that a percentage of mortars and Grad rockets fall short, and we know that these have sometimes fatal results. Shooting rockets hurriedly would increase the number of misfires. There was also at least one IDF video of the bombing of a weapons depot where a rocket shot out of the targeted area and flew a few hundred feet before landing.

In addition, there were some firefights in Gaza between the IDF and various groups, and one would not expect the terror groups to be as careful as the IDF in where they were firing.

How many civilians were killed by Hamas, or by secondary explosions of Hamas ordnance? We will never know. Most of the evidence is buried. But we can be sure that the number is higher than zero, and that Hamas will do everything necessary - including forcing Gazans to forego quality medical care - to ensure that this information never sees the light of day.

UNRWA praised the smuggling of cement into Gaza in 2011. What did they know then?

From a UNRWA press release, December 7, 2011:

The UNRWA report finds a “surge in private employment” as a result of “expanded importation of much-needed building materials and other productive inputs”.

UN estimates show that for the month of September, 46,500 tonnes of aggregate came through the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel into Gaza, whereas 90,000 tonnes came through the tunnels; 9,195 tonnes of cement came through Kerem Shalom, while there were 90,000 tonnes of cement through the tunnels, and 1,418 tonnes of steel bars came through Kerem Shalom, whereas 15,000 tonnes came through the tunnels.

“Despite the easing of restrictions on the Israeli-imposed blockade, tight controls of the crossings from Israel into Gaza are a significant factor behind the growth in the tunnel economy,” said UNRWA spokesman, Chris Gunness. “The facts speak for themselves. Construction jobs grew by more than 9,400, increasing by 3.5 times relative to first half 2010. This accounted for 27.7 per cent of all job growth in the year-on-year period. This is still significantly lower than pre-blockade levels. But despite significant gains, broad unemployment in Gaza, at nearly 33 per cent, remains among the most severe in the world. Under such circumstances, the reversal of deepening poverty and aid dependency among ordinary people in Gaza is unlikely.”
OK, you might be thinking, UNRWA surely didn't know that the cement it was praising was being used for building terror tunnels, right?

But as Israel Behind the News reported last year, UNRWA's administrators union is dominated by - Hamas:

[T]he "administrators union" in UNRWA fell into the hands of Hamas in the union elections which were held in UNRWA facilities in 1999, 2003, 2006, 2009 and later again in 2012.

In other words, Hamas controls funds and supplies that are dispatched to UNRWA in Gaza.
So, as I had reported recently, lots of the cement that was supposedly earmarked for UNRWA projects was being diverted to Hamas tunnels - and now we see that in all probability, some UNRWA officials were complicit with this crime.

(h/t Canadian Otter)