Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Islamist enemy

There is a strong tendency to equate Hamas and Israel in the current conflict in Gaza, as if they are two equivalent entities.  But, they are not!  Israel is a responsible, sovereign, democratic state and member of the UN for 66 years, while Hamas is a terrorist organization that is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, that took over Gaza in a coup in 2006 and murdered hundreds of Fatah activists.  As a terrorist organization, whose major aim is to destroy Israel, it does not recognise the UN and is opposed to Egyptian Pres. al-Sisi.  It does not accept the "two state solution" proposed by the UN and the Quartet and most of the international community as a solution to the "Palestine problem" (do most western liberals realize this?) The Israeli Government under PM Netanyahu has accepted the two-state solution as the basis for negotiations with the Palestine Authority under Pres Abbas, but when Abbas formed a Unity Government for Palestine and Gaza with Hamas, Israel suspended all contacts.
It is common for international leaders, such as US Secty of State Kerry and UN Secty Gen. Ban ki-Moon to suggest a mutual ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.  Moon and most UN operatives act effectively as propagandists for Hamas, as if they were the true representatives of the Palestinian people.  But, they are not talking to Hamas and Hamas will not talk to them.  It as stupid as suggesting that the US negotiate a ceasefire with al Qaeda, or the Nigerian Govt. negotiate a ceasefire with Boko Haram, or the Kenyan Govt. negotiate a ceasefire with Al Shabbab, or the Iraqi Govt. negotiate a ceasefire with ISIS.  It can't happen, because these Islamist terrorist organizations do not recognise the existence of those States and will not negotiate with them.  The only thing they will do is fight them.  However, they will cease to fight them for some time if it suits their purpose, a so-called hudna.  This is in line with Muhammed's truce of Hudaibiyya with the Qureish tribe of Medina, which he broke as soon as his army was strong enough and then massacred all their men, as described in the Koran.  This is why there is a continuing series of attacks from Hamas, in 2009, 2012 and now.
It should be noted that all these Sunni extremist Islamist groups are linked in their aim to destroy Western (secular Judeo-Christian) civilization and establish a universal Islamic Caliphate.  Yet, while western liberals do not express sympathy with Boko Haram (that kidnapped hundreds of Nigerian Christian girls), or Al Shabbab (that killed dozens in their attack on the Southgate Mall in Nairobi), or ISIS (who have massacred hundreds of Iraqi soldiers and destroyed many Churches), they somehow find sympathy for Hamas (that has murdered hundreds of Palestinian opponents and fired thousands of missiles into populated civilian areas). I think we all know why there is this difference in the attitudes to Hamas vs these other Islamist terrorist groups.  Note also that all of these Sunni extremist terrorist groups are funded by Qatar (that also owns Al Jazeera).
Some terrorist organizations are of Shia Muslim origin, such as Islamic Jihad in Gaza and Hizbollah in Lebanon, that are both proxies of Shia Iran.  These terrorists will sometimes fight alongside the Sunni terrorists against their common western enemies, but they regard each other as enemies and the ISIS organization, that has just esablished the so-called Islamic State in the ruins of Syria and Iraq, is aggressively fighting the Shia-led Govt. of Pres. Nuri al-Maliki in Iraq.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The big picture

Decapitation, massacres, destruction of holy shrines, destruction of mosques, destruction of churches, murder of opponents...Gaza?  No, Iraq, the Islamic Republic is in the process of consolidating its power in Mosul, the second largest city in what was Iraq.  Shia Muslims are being massacred, Christians have been given the option, convert to Islam or die (many choose to flee).   Syria, every day in fierce fighting about 1,000 civilians are killed since both sides show no consideration for civilians, neither the Syrian Army nor Hizbollah supporting the regime of Bashar Assad nor the Islamic militants of the al Nusrah Front.  
Meanwhile the eyes of the Western world are focussed on Gaza, where after 21 days of fighting, 50 Israelis and ca. 1000 Gazans have been killed.  Yes, it is a large number, but actually since the UN, based on Hamas figures, estimate that 75% were civilians and Israel esimates only 20% were civilians, if we take 40% to be civilians, since a majority of those killed were likely Hamas combatants, then that corresponds to ca. 400 civilians killed, which is a very small number given that the IDF has been attacking Gaza, a densely populated area, from ground, sea and air for three weeks.  I defy anyone to tell me that this is a huge number of non-combatants, even if you take 75% it certainly is very much less than the civilian casualties that the US caused in the Iraq war.  So instead of focusing on the poor Gazans, the world should be focusing on what is happening in Iraq, Syria and Libya, where the US was forced to close its Embassy due to a civil war.  In fact, the Gaza war is a side-show to the general breakdown of civil society and civilization in the whole Arab world.  That's what your news organizations should be telling you, and that is the story that they ignore in order to bring you pictures of children tragically killed in the Gaza conflict.  They are not showing you the important bigger picture. 
Note also that while Israel is blamed for all Gazan casualties - out of the ca. 2,400 missiles fired by Hamas into Israel during this conflict, at least 100 missiles fired from Gaza have landed within Gaza territory and have exploded there killing innocent Gaza civilians.   This has not been mentioned by the media, but is important given the incident Monday of an explosion in a Gaza City park that killed ca. 10 children.  While Hamas has of course attributed this to the IDF, the IDF have announced that they were not firing in that region and attribute the incident to a self-inflicted errant Hamas missile. 
Although the UN and everyone else was calling for an unconditional ceasefire in Gaza, this was rejected by Hamas because it was based on the Egyptian proposal, that Israel had accepted.  But, instead on Monday Hamas went on the offensive, and fired dozens of missiles into Israel, sent a terrorist squad to infiltrate into Israel, but they were spotted just short of their civilian target at Nahal Oz and some were killed by the IDF, but 5 IDF soldiers were also killed.  Also, 4 IDF soldiers were killed in a mortar strike into Israel near the Gaza border.  These incidents caused the Israeli Cabinet to decide to continue the ground offensive into Gaza.
Another aspect of this issue is, why does Hamas seek a direct confrontation with Israel now, given that it will certainly be hit hard and there will be many civilian casualties?  According to the analysis of Jonathan Spyer of the IDC, whose work I greatly admire, Hamas and its main backer Qatar are forced to seek relevance due to the loss of Iran as a sponsor of Hamas, and the loss of Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood and their lack of support elsewhere in the Arab world.  He points out that the demonstrations in favor of Hamas in London and Paris have been far larger and more vociferous than those in any Arab capital.   In Cairo they are against Hamas, in Amman they couldn't care less, in Baghdad they have bigger fish to fry and in Damsacus, well there is hardly a city functioning there anyway.  But, the chief test is that there are no large-scale demonstartions in favor of Hamas in Ramallah, capital of the PA, and elsewhere in the Palestinian territories.  Ask the demonstrators in Paris, London, LA and elsewhere which Palestinians they support, those that support Hamas or the majority that are opposed to Hamas.  Hamas and their supporters in Qatar also greatly underestimate the strength of the IDF and the resilience of the Israeli people (see ) . 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


A lot of what is happening in Gaza is in line with the basic Israeli credo of "don't tread on me," to take a quote from the American context.  In effect Israel is saying, we will take so much, but no more.  The Israeli Govt. tried to maintain the 2012 truce, but Hamas decided for whatever reasons to indiscriminately fire barrages of rockets into Israel.  Once that happened there was in reality no going back.  We will not accept that.  That is why there was a 10 day aerial bombardment of Gaza, striking at Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist targets, particularly rocket launching sites, weapons caches, operational centers (including those hidden in houses and civilian areas) and tunnels.   Even the IDF was surprised at the extent of the "attack" tunnels that opened into Israeli territory (30 found so far), that were designed only to be used to infiltrate Israel, to carry out high profile attacks (massacres) and kidnap Israelis.
When Hamas refused to accept the Egyptian truce offer, that Israel accepted, then it was clear that the next stage had to be the ground invasion.  The IDF chose Sajaiya as its primary target because it was a Hamas stronghold from which about 20% of the rockets were fired and where there was an extensive underground "city."  In order to hurt Hamas it was decided that this town must be destroyed as a center of Hamas activity.  Leaflets were dropped and phone warnings were made to the civilian population.  Many left, but many at the urging of Hamas did not heed the IDF warnings and stayed.  Hence the use by Hamas of "human shields." The IDF then attacked Sajaiya, and it is has effectively destroyed Hamas capability there. Whatever the next stage of the war, perhaps expanding into other Hamas strongholds, the outcome will be disastrous for Hamas.  They should not achieve any positive outcome for their aggression.
What the overall message that the State of Israel is sending to Hamas and others is, that if you truly think you can attack and hurt us, you will live to regret it.  Our military capability is great and our defensive capability, with the Iron Dome anti-missile system, allows us to attack without sustaining civilian casualties.  Yes, we have lost 42 soldiers so far in the campaign Operation Protective Edge, but we have killed around 500 Hamas operatives and destroyed a huge amount of their weaponry and infrastructure.  But, they are still firing dozens of rockets every day and while this goes on the campaign to eradicate their launching capability and missile supplies and destroy their tunnels must continue.  But, make no mistake, the utter destruction of Sajaiya was deliberate, it is a message to Hamas, the Palestinians and everyone else, that if you mess with us, we will destroy you!  This is what happened the last time Hizbollah attacked us, and there has been quite on the northern border since then (also Hizbollah has its own problems in Lebanon and Syria). Remember, you other guys out there who are thinking of attacking Israel, "don't tread on me!"  In other words, Israel has to re-establish it deterrence

Monday, July 28, 2014

Kerry's about turn

Secty of State Kerry, flanked by the Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Qatar, made an amazing anti-Israel ceasefire proposal at the end of the failed meeting in Paris of the representatives of all the main powers, plus Turkey and Qatar representing the interests of Hamas.  Instead of continuing to support the Egyptian ceasefire proposal that Israel had accepted right at the beginning of the conflict in Gaza, which was for a 7 day ceasefire followed by negotiations, Kerry apparently accepted hook, line and sinker the Hamas proposal, namely that Hamas will accept a ceasefire in exchange for a lifting of the blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt.  This is incredible and completely unacceptable.  Has Israel gone through all this fighting, been bombarded by over 1,000 missiles and lost over 40 men in order to give up the only means it has to try to prevent Hamas rearming and restarting the cycle all over again. 
Kerry said that we must be sensitive to the need for the Palestinian people to live a normal life in Gaza, but how can he say that without taking into account that they are controlled by the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas.  It is they who will benefit from such a proposal.  Who at this interational gathering was speaking for Israel, certainly not the US, perhaps nobody.  Kerry did say that the ceasefire must ensure that Hamas will stop firing rockets into Israel's populated areas.  But, how does he plan to ensure that?  It seems that Kerry and the Obama Administration has changed sides, if they ever were on Israel's side.  Kerry's statement was meant to curry favor with the Turks and the Qataris who are supporting Hamas and with all those who are demonstrating violently against Israel. 
It is clear that if Israel were to agree to such a ceasefire demand, this would be considered a major victory by Hamas, and this is what Kerry wants to give them.  This comes from the mistaken belief that any ceasefire must be mid-way between the conditions of both sides and must treat both sides equally, a case of moral relativism.  In fact, Hamas is the aggressor, Hamas has amassed a huge stockpile of missiles, has build a huge complex of tunnels and has at the same time kept the Palestinian inhabitants of Gaza in poverty.  As a terrorist organization it has also used the Palestinians as human shields while firing rockets from their homes, schools and mosques.  It can in no way be compared to Israel, which is a significant friend and ally of the US, and that has been protecting civilians on both sides. 
Today Hamas played games with the ceasefire situation.  Israel agreed to a further 24 hr humanitarian ceasefire requested by the UN.  Hamas rejected the ceasefire and started firing rockets (including from schools) into central Israel.  As a result Israel cancelled the ceasefire and started responding.  Then Hamas immediately requested another 24 hr ceasefire for the Eid festival that starts today..  But, this time Israel refused.  It is obvious that Hamas is not motivated by the need to help the Gazan population, which it uses as a hostage.  So far 42 Israelis have died in the conflict, and more are likely to die.  It is not reasonable that Israel will make a huge concession to Hamas and reward it for starting this conflict and causing so many casualties.
Last night Pres. Obama reportedly called PM Netanyahu and told him it was "imperative" that Israel accept a "humanitarian ceasefire."  This is supposedly based on the Nov 2012 ceasefire as well as the July 2014 Egyptian proposal that Israel accepted and Hamas rejected.  Now Kerry has muddled the situation by proposing a ceasefire very different from that which makes a significant concession to Hamas.  Kerry's statements have been criticized by right and left in Israel, by the Palestine Authority and by Egypt and Jordan for rewarding Hamas for its aggression.  Meanwhile the US officially rejected the widespread criticism of Kerry. The UN Security Council is currently discussing a humanitarian ceasefire proposal.  If it means that the US Obama Administration is abandoning Israel in order to curry favor with Turkey and Qatar in order to placate Hamas this could be a disaster for Israel and for the whole western anti-terrorism campaign.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Reality in Gaza

In relation to the current war in Gaza it is important to remember certain facts.  Although Hamas is a threat to Israel, Israel has 8 million people now and Gaza has ca. 1.6 million.  Israel has a well-disciplined and highly effective military force, the IDF, while Hamas has some militias, mostly made up of irregulars, but hardly a disciplined force.  Israel has a technologically developed air force, the IAF, while Hamas has unguided missiles.  Yes, it is asymmetrical warfare.  Another crucial difference is that Israel tries to protect its civilian's lives, with shelters, the Iron Dome anti-missile system, the Code Red sirens and even text messages to warn of danger.   By contrast, Hamas does nothing to protect Gaza civilians, on the contrary they deliberately use them to provide human shields when they fire missiles and shoot from civilian areas, including schools, hospitals and mosques.  A high civilian death toll is a war aim of Hamas, because they know they have the sympathy of the western liberal media and public opinion.  They play to that sympathy.  So far 40 Israelis have been killed and 1,000 Gazans, of which only about 400 were civilians.  This is not an unexpected ratio.
Several years ago, following a previous outbreak of fighting in Gaza, Israel extended its blockade of Gaza to include building materials cement, concrete, mortar, bricks, etc.  Chris Gunness the spokesman for UNRWA in Gaza went on a PR campaign to embarrass Israel by pointing out that the destruction that the IDF had wrought in the fighting needed to be repaired.  As a result Israel agreed to allow the import of building materials into Gaza.  This was paid for by the UN and donations from the US, EU and elsewhere. Building materials were trucked into Gaza from Israel, together with the hundreds of other trucks taking food and medicines into Gaza every week. We naievely thought that this was being used to re-build Gaza and improve the lives of ordinary Gazans.  Wrong!
Now we know that most of this material, to the tune of millions of dollars worth of cement and other building blocks, were used to construct a massive amount of tunnels throughout the Gaza strip.  There are three kinds of these underground constructions: 1. Bunkers in which the leaders of Hamas are hiding and organizing the attacks against Israel; 2. Missile firing positions that are underground to avoid detection by Israeli drones, and are often located in populated urban areas, in houses and mosques; 3. Attack tunnels that lead from Gaza under the Israeli border to come up very close to Israeli settlements and villages, some several km long.   It has been learned from captured terrorists and intelligence that Hamas was planning to use these (so far over 30 have been found) to mount a huge coordinated attack on border towns and villages.  It was only luck that due to the rocket barrages fired by Hamas into Israel, that the IDF was forced to go into Gaza and found these tunnels.  The IDF says that it could take weeks to check and destroy all of them.  To prevent a further frenzy of tunnel building, Israel and Egypt will have to block such building materials from being imported into Gaza again.
According to reports, the main condition that Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal and "the Palestinian people" demand in order to agree to a  ceasefire is the removal of the Israel blockade of Gaza and similarly from Egypt at the Rafah crossing.  There is essentially no possibility that Israel and Egypt will agree to this, given the gross violations of previous agreements (the import of missiles and other offensive weapons) and their human rights violations (firing into Israeli populated areas and using their own population for human shields).  There is no way that they can be trusted, they are a bunch of terrorist thugs, would you agree to trust your lives to them?
There has been the usual wave of anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian riots in Europe and elsewhere, operating under the banner of "Human Rights."  Most political extremists are using this as an excuse to push for their own objectives.  Among the usual Muslims and anti-Semites, there are extreme left-wing groups, including the Communists, the Socialist Workers Party, the Anti-Capitalist Association and the Anarchists, who just want to cause mayhem and destruction.  In Paris, they have tried to ban these "demonstrations" and Pres. Hollande has said that Frenchmen must not bring the Gaza conflict onto the streets of France, but it is too late for that.  There have been grotesque murders of Jews in France by Muslim terrorists and they don't intend to stop now.  No wonder Jews in France fear for their lives and emigration from France to Israel is doubling every year.  In London, they found that there was a large group of "football hooligans" who have nothing to do with the Gaza situation but who just wanted an excuse to fight the police and commit mayhem. Such are our enemies. 
However, although there has been some rioting of Palestinian youths on the West Bank, throwing petrol bombs and even firing on IDF troops and police, mostly around Jerusalem, the outbreaks have not been as extensive as previously.  It seems that since Israel arrested the majority of the Hamas leadership in the West Bank following the murder of the three Israeli schoolboys, the riots have been mostly leaderless.  To date 7 youths have been killed by IDF fire, but this is no third intifada.  Most of the Palestinians on the West Bank support Fatah and are probably glad that Hamas is being hit hard.  There is essentially no support for Hamas from the traditional Arab States, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait.  Only Qatar and Turkey are actively supporting Hamas.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Arab mentality

Arab proverb: "kiss the ring again and again, until you can cut off the hand."
The Arabs and Muslims in general have no concept of democracy, no idea of a "loyal opposition" and no tolerance for toleration.  In their culture, which is one of honor killings and martydom, an enemy is always an enemy, there is no compromise.  One of the reasons for this is that absolutism is an act of faith in Islam.  Islam meaning "submission," must triumph, it is Allah's will, and people who refuse to become Muslims (infidels) because they are ignorant and stupid, must be shown the right way or be killed, it's that simple.  In Muslim thought the world is divided into two regions,  Dar al-Islam, the region of Islam (or peace) and Dar al-Harb, the region of war.  Ironically just the exact opposite is the case, the region of Islam is contorted by war and the rest of the world is relatively peaceful, how do they explain that to themselves.  It does indicate something terribly wrong with the basis of Islam.
That is why after 100 years of the war against Jewish sovereignty, the Arab/Muslims cannot stop the war of attrition against Israel.  That is why we have another cycle of missiles being fired from Gaza against our cities.  All Israelis are legitimate targets as far as Hamas is concerned.  It has nothing to do with "settlements" or "occupation," as most naieve westerners think, but is all due to the right of existence of a non-Muslim entity in their midst.  One might argue that Egypt and Jordan have signed peace treaties with Israel, after being totally defeated in wars in 1967 and 1973, wars that they initiated when they had every advantage on their side (surprise and the numbers).  But, even today, 35 years after the peace treaty with Egypt was signed, many people in Egypt still regard themselves as actually at war with Israel. 
This mentality is the reason why all major Arab countries are in some kind of war, from Morocco to Iraq, the whole Arab world is engulfed in turmoil and violence.  In particular: Libya, since the overthrow of Qaddafi, the various power centers cannot compromise; Iraq, the historical Shia:Sunni schism is now the major cause of conflict, with thousands being massacred; Syria, the civil war has destroyed the country, leaving three distinct areas, that controlled by the pro-Shia Assad regime, by the Sunni Islamists and by the democratic opposition, so far ca. 160,000 people have been killed with ca. 7 million refugees; Egypt, the al-Sisi regime has declared war on the Muslim Brotherhood, displaced Pres. Morsi and put hundreds to death, and are fighting a war against the jihadists in Sinai.  Such a widespread and ubiquitous resort to war and violence cannot be just by chance, it is the Arab mentality, the Arab culture.  The war in Gaza between Hamas and Israel is in fact a minor skirmish in the unfortunate proclivity of the Arabs for violent confrontation instead of peaceful compromise.
But, let's admit that Europe was also once engulfed in war for centuries, based on religious differences (Catholic vs. Protestant) and tribal nationalism (Germany vs. France, etc.) .  The ultimate hope is that if Europe can be pacified after so many hundreds of years of bloodshed, maybe the Arab world can be too.  But, I wouldn't bet on it, so Israel must keep its powder dry and its finger on the trigger, so to speak.  It's the only way to survive in this neighborhood.  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Jumping to conclusions

According to the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay (not known as a friend of Israel), the casualty figure in Gaza of 600 killed so far is "significant."  The Turkish PM Erdogan has ludicrously called it a "genocide."  But, wait a minute this number from Hamas itself includes Hamas and other terrorists killed in combat or while launching rockets at Israel (usually not wearing any uniform).  According to an analysis of the casualties by Al Jazeera (also not known as a friend of Israel) 68% of the casualties are young men of military age (18-35).  Israel claims 90% are combatants and Hamas claims 25%, so 68% is probably a reasonable estimate, especially since Israel uses targeted strikes.  According to this number that means that 32% or ca. 192 civilians have been killed in 2 weeks of intense bombing and ground attacks, in a densely populated area containing 1.6 million people.  I would say that this number is relatively "insignificant" when you consider that there is intense fighting going on and that up to now 29 IDF soldiers have been killed in combat.  There seems to be a general attitude, as we have experienced before, that Israel will be damned whatever the numbers.  By comparison, ca. 1,000 civilians are being killed every week in Syria, and ca. 350 were killed every week by US forces during the invasion of Iraq.  The reason the civilian death toll in Gaza is so relatively low must be due to the many precautions Israel is taking to avoid civilian casualties.
Pillay also said publicly that some of Israel's actions in Gaza amount to war crimes, such as targeting the homes of terrorist leaders.  After all, if the terrorist leader is not there and is in hiding and only his family is there and they are killed, that amounts to a war crime.  But, it could also be that the terrorist leader is there and the home was being used as a military headquarters, in which case it is a legitimate target.  Only an unbiased investigation after the event will find whether Israel had enough evidence to justify such a targeted attack.  I am convinced that Israel would not target a house unless it had good evidence that it was a legitimate target, otherwise it would not be worthwhile for the IDF to attack it.  Pillay should hold her criticism until there is a consideration of actual evidence, rather than shooting from the hip. Nevertheless the UNCHR voted to investigate Israel for "war crimes" but did not mention Hamas, even though Hamas is clearly carrying out war crimes by indiscriminately firing rockets at Israeli cities and using its own population as human shields (this behavior has been documented).  Of course the UN agency has a majority of Muslim and affiliated states from Africa and S. America as well as Russia and China that vote with them.  PM Netanyahu labelled this decision "a travesty."
Another UN action causes grave concern.  For years we have been warning that UNRWA, the UN Palestinian welfare organization, is aiding and abetting terrorists.  The Palestinians are the only group of "refugees" in the world that have a UN agency dedicated solely for their needs, while all other refugees in the world come under the UNHCR (High Commissioner for Refugees), including the Syrian refugees.  Not only does UNRWA employ Palestinians who are members of terrorist organizations, but they glorify Palestinian "martyrs" (suicide bombers) in the UNRWA-run schools, and they store military equipment there.  In two cases it has been found that there are caches of missiles stored in UNRWA schools.  Chris Gunnes, their spokesman in Gaza stated that he did not know about this (he was shocked!) and that when he learnt he ordered that they immediately be turned over to the appropriate authorities.  Who are the "appropriate authorities," why Hamas of course.   It has been suggested that Israel suspend all cooperation with UNRWA (which would severely curtail its operations) and initiate a process to wind it down, sixty years after it was founded, and let the Palestinians be treated as all other refugees in the world, that would be fair.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sympathy and cynicism

There was a time when Jews generated a lot of sympathy amongst the liberal western elite, because of course they were defenceless and were being murdered at an alarming rate.  But, it didn't help, because the sympathy for those killed usually came too late, after they were dead.  Now the sympathy is being expressed for the enemies of the Jews, the poor Palestinians, because they are relatively defenceless, even though they seem to have an unlimited supply of missiles and plenty of guns. But, the Jews had enough of the sympathy of well-meaning people, and decided to take their destiny into their own hands.  That is why we are now able to fight our enemies.  Let them have the sympathy, we'd rather have the Iron Dome and the IDF.
There is no doubt that the lingering effects of having been the eternal victims of whoever was out there with a weapon and an excuse for hatred, is still with us.  That's why we try to limit civilian casualties among our enemies.  Of course, if we were to kill people like our former enemies did, the Germans, the Ukrainians, the Poles, the Lithuanians, and so on (the list is too long to give here) then we could make a death toll among the Palestinians that they would be proud of.  But we are not like that, and even they, having enjoyed their bloodlust killing Jews, are even quite humanistic now.  Even the British and the Americans, who are always preaching to us, have been able to raise up quite a toll of dead civilians when they have a mind to (remember Vietnam, remember Kenya).  In the last round in Europe, when NATO attacked Serbia to prevent a larger massacre in Kossovo, they managed to murder 2,000 Serbian civilians, as well as bomb the Chinese Embassy, by accident.  Were US actions in Iraq ever "proportionate", what about "shock and awe."  But, of course, only Israel is not allowed to make "collateral damage."
Our forces are now in Gaza routing out Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists.  But, these terrorist organizations cause great suffering and death to their own people, by not making shelters for them, by not agreeing to a ceasefire (that Israel accepted) and by using them as human shields.  Nevertheless, the world automatically assumes that all deaths in Gaza are civilians, whereas in fact at least half and probably more like 80% are combatants.  Yes, I know they show the bleeding children on the News, but there will always be a bleeding child in any conflict and the Palestinians will always have them ready for the cameras (just come to the emergency room of the Shiba Hospital).  But, we'd rather let them have the world's sympathy than be the ones taking the casualties and being the losers in this deadly war.
Regarding the cynicism of Hamas, in previous conflicts they were caught taking bodies from the morgue (killed in road accidents or simply dead) and transporting them to the hospital in an ambulance to add to the body count.  They also show photos of injured and dead children on their Facebook page, at least one of which was taken from the Syrian conflict.  There is a report that Hamas has issued instructions to its social media supporters that all dead must be labelled "civilians" and not just that but "innocent civilians."  It has also been found that Hamas military operatives are moving around in ambulances to avoid being killed by IDF targeting.  Perhaps the most cynical aspect of this conflict is that while Hamas spent years and huge amounts of money constructing tunnels and bunkers under Gaza for their leaders to hide in and from which to infiltrate and attack Israel, they constructed NO shelters for their civilian population.  They have issued instructions that when Israel drops leaflets telling the civilians to move out before that area is targeted, that the civilians should ignore this warning and remain there.  They also fire rockets from houses and schools and store rockets in schools (including UNRWA schools) and mosques.  Hamas is deliberately causing most of the civilian casualties.
It has been argued that one reason that Hamas did not accept the Egyptian ceasefire proposal that Israel accepted is that they have nothing to show so far from their campaign to attack Israel with missiles and inflitration.  It is said that they at least need a high civilian casualty count in order to gain the sympathy of western liberals and the media.  But Israel is taking every action to keep the civilian casualty count down, such as not only dropping leaflets, but actually calling them on their cell phones and sending SMS messages.  Also all offensive IDF actions are subject to approval that no civilians are obviously there.  Comparing this Gaza conflict to that in Syria there is no comparison, in three years of fighting there have been ca. 160,000 deaths in Syria, that is over 1,000 a week, while in 14 days of fighting in Gaza there are only ca. 500 casualties, including mostly combatants.  Obviously Israel is trying to keep the casualty count down, and Israel should be commended for this, not constantly criticized

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

War and peace

The deaths of a further 20 IDF soldiers in Gaza in the past few days is a tragedy, but not unexpected.  As well as Hamas having years to construct their extensive tunnel system, that have been used very effectively to strike into Israel, they have also had time to prepare ambushes and bury explosives.  This is what happens in war, it is the price of survival.  There is nothing we can say to alleviate the suffering of their families, but I try to remember that when we had no army, Jews were being killed at a much higher rate, in the Holocaust thousands a day perished.  Much better that a few dozen should die with a gun in their hand fighting to save innocent Jewish civilians.  They are our martyrs and heroes, but they are also our defenders. 
This morning two teams of terrorists were caught and killed by IDF forces as they tried to infiltrate Israel from tunnels from Gaza that open inside Israeli territory.  It is to destroy these tunnels that the IDF had to go in on the ground.  But, it is also important that the IDF administer a devastating blow to Hamas.  There are two reasons for this, first if Hamas is broken it will not be able to recover for a long time and this will give Israel some peace.  If 25% of an organization is destroyed, including personnel and materiel, then it ceases to be able to function effectively.  This should be one of the targets of the IDF.  Second, the situation today is not the same as it was during the last conflict in Gaza in 2012.  At that time Pres Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was President of Egypt, and he allowed Hamas to replace their destroyed and used weapons, including long-range missiles, through the tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border.  Pres. al-Sisi is an enemy of the MB who displaced Pres. Morsi, and he is fighting Hamas in Sinai.  He has closed the tunnels and will not allow Hamas to be resupplied with weapons and missiles, so this is a great opportunity tfor Israel.  If the IDF can now destroy most of the weapons caches of Hamas, including their missile stockpile (already about 50% used and/or destroyed), then Hamas will be unable to replace them and Hamas will be much weakened in the future.
There are increased calls for a ceasefire, particularly using the civilian casualties in Gaza as an excuse (were there such calls in Iraq or Syria?).   Pres. Abbas has journeyed to Qatar, that is the only country, apart from Turkey, that is actively supporting Hamas in this conflict.  The only other people who actually are supporting Hamas are the western liberal intelligentsia and the Muslim rabble. Egypt has proposed a ceasefire, that Israel accepted and Hamas rejected, but Egypt is not supporting Hamas and the Arab League and most of the other Arab countries have kept a low profile.  They acknowledge that the loss of Palestinian civilian life is largely due to Hamas and its tactics. 
Can there be a ceasefire acceptable by both sides?  At present not!  To save face Hamas is insisting that Israel must stop the naval blockade of Gaza (that Israel cannot do because they would import weapons and missiles), Egypt should open the Rafah crossing, (that al-Sisi will not do for the same reason), and Israel should release arrested Hamas operatives and allow free transfer of people between Gaza and the West Bank (something that Israel will certainly not allow).  Israel's conditions for a ceasefire have not been spelled out, it accepted the Egyptian proposal which is without conditions.  But, its conditions must be the destruction of all offensive tunnels and the destruction of all missiles in Gaza.  Hamas will not agree to this and they continue to fire missiles over Israel all the time.  So the fighting will continue until the IDF has done sufficient damage to Hamas that it will be forced to sue for a ceasefire to avoid further damage and the loss of its control of Gaza.  When that may happen cannot be predicted, but it will take some time.  So the diplomatic vultures who are currently circling (Secty of State Kerry, French FM Favius, UN Secty Gen. Ban ki-Moon, Italian FM Mogherini) may as well go home for the time being.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Hypocrisy on casualties

I'm fed up with hearing the first item of the News being the casualty count in Gaza, but given without any analysis or comparisons. The civilian casualties in Gaza are actually quite small in number compared to other conflicts. The total number of deaths given according to Hamas sources is ca. 400 in 14 days of fighting.  But, a large proportion of these must be combatants (note that Hamas combatants are usually without uniforms and often counted as civilians).  Hamas estimate 50% and Israel estimates 70% are combatants, so if we choose 60%, an estimate of civilian deaths is 160.  This is an incredibly small number given that there are ca. 1.6 million people densely crowded into Gaza and that the IAF has flown ca. 2000 sorties.
In the Syrian civil war in the past three years the current conservative estimate of civilian deaths is 160,000, or ca. 1,000 per week.   In the Iraq war from 2003-2011 there were estimated to be a minimum of ca. 135,000 civilian deaths or 350 per week. In the NATO campaign in 1991 in Kossovo-Serbia the civilian casualties were estimated at 2,000 in two months.  Then there were the civilian casualties in the Vietnam War from 1955-75 inflicted by US forces, estimated at 880,000 civilians.  One can of course also include the millions of deaths of various native populations contributed by the British Empire in India, Kenya, Australia, America and so on.  And this is without including the Holocaust and other massacres carried out by German and other European forces during WWII that go into millions.  Then of course there was the UK carpet bombing of Germany and the US dropping atomic bombs on Japan.  So let's have a bit of humility over the hypocrisy of civilian casualties in Gaza.
If the civilian casualty count is anything to go by, Israel deserves to be commended in Gaza, since the IDF warns civilians with leaflets, phone calls and SMS messages of the pending attack on a specific area.  Hamas, while digging bunkers for their leaders and tunnels to attack Israel at a huge cost (millions of dollars, derived from US and EU assistance), gave their civilian population NO shelters.  By contrast Israel not only has civilian shelters everywhere, but spent a huge amount with US support for the Iron Dome system that is very effective at protecting civilians as well as giving a Red Alert alarm to warn civilians to take cover. Perhaps the worst thing is that Hamas fires missiles from populated areas and stores their missiles in schools (including UNRWA schools) and mosques.  Let's keep things in perspective. 
It seems clear to me (and no doubt to Turkish Pres. Erdogan) that Israel must be behind the downing of the Malaysian Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine.  After all, wasn't the timing perfect to draw attention away from the war in Gaza.  This will no doubt go down in history as another one of those anti-Semitic canards, with the Zionist destruction of the Twin Towers (of course, Jews were given a prior warning!) and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Anti-Semitism in the Diaspora

Whenever Israel is forced to take military action against its Arab enemies, there is always an upsurge of anti-Semitism around the world.  Of course, this is not rationally justified, but the hatred and bias against Israel and Jews very quickly bubbles to the surface.  There are three sources of this anti-Semitism, 1. Good old-fashioned right-wing nationalism expressed as Jew-hatred; 2. Left-wing sympathy and support for the poor Palestinians as victims of "imperialist," "colonialist," "apartheid" Israel; and 3. Muslim anti-Semitism, that is endemic and ubiquitous in all Muslim countries and is growing more confident in Europe as the number of Muslims there grows.
We all saw pictures of the attacks in tolerant, secular France by a mob of mixed Muslims and left-wingers, viciously attacking two synagogues and beating up Jews.  The anti-riot police saved this from becoming a massacre.  As a result, French PM Vail denied permission for another demonstration in support of Hamas, with a good expectation that it would turn violent.  It's not much better in Britain, where the latest anti-Israel demonstration in the center of London at Traflagar Square took a violent turn when the mob began to attack individuals whom they identified as Jews.
Unwittingly these stupid anti-Israel protesters are causing French Jews, the largest Jewish community left in Europe after the Holocaust, to re-evaluate their safety there and many are now coming on aliyah to Israel.  Today, in the midst of the current Gaza war, ca. 450 French Jews arrived in Israel to live.  They feel safer here under the Iron Dome and with the IDF to protect them, than they do in France where all Jews are subject to daily incidents of hateful anti-Semitism.  The French Jewish population in Netanya is blossoming and they are buying apartments here, partly expaining the huge growth in apartment buildings all over Netanya.  In many cafes downtown French is now the main language and they have an active Francophone cultural scene.  Obviously news gets back and so we expect more French Jews to come, the numbers have doubled in each of the past two years and is now up to 5,000 in 2014.  So go ahead with your anti-Semitic violent protests, you vile ridiculous idiots, it only makes Israel stronger.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The ground invasion begins

On Thurs evening, PM Netanyahu ordered the IDF to initiate ground operations against Hamas in Gaza.  There were several reasons for this, most notably the continuation of barrages of rockets from Gaza against civilian centers in Israel, including a salvo of at least 20 rockets fired against Tel Aviv Thurs evening.  Also, Thurs morning before the 6 hr humanitarian ceasefire went into effect, a group of 13 terrorists from Gaza entered Israeli territory via a tunnel and were en route to the village of Sufa, but were detected and intercepted by the IDF and were mostly killed.  Also, Hamas launched a second drone over Israeli territory, but this too was shot down.  All these hostile and aggressive actions, and the rejection by Hamas of the ceasefire on Tues, were enough to convince even the most pacific of Israeli politicians that the time had finally come to launch a ground offensive. 
After 10 days of battering by the IAF in response to the continual firing of missiles into Israel and the last day of intense action in northern Gaza, as well as the dropping of leaflets for 2 days warning civilians to leave their homes in northern Gaza and go to safe areas, the ground invasion finally started.  Both Israel and Hamas have representatives in Cairo with Egyptian Pres al-Sisi and PA Pres. Abbas, acting as intermediaries, and various other well-meaning countries, including Turkey, Qatar and the USA wanting to facilitate a ceasefire.  But, the reports of a possible agreement for a longer ceasefire on Friday were apparently unjustified.  Both sides have conditions for a ceasefire, but it is extremely unlikely that either side will acccept the other's conditions.  Israel is not looking to destroy Hamas altogether, even if it could, but Israel must insist that all missiles and rockets be removed from Gaza and/or destroyed under international inspection, and that rocket making facilities be removed (just as in the case of the chemical weapons in Syria).  If this is not done then the Israeli counter-action in Gaza would have been in vain, since as before the terrorists will simply start another war in a few years. 
On the Hamas side, they are looking for concessions from Israel, the removal of the naval blockade against Gaza, the permanent opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt (this must involve Egypt), the release of Hamas prisoners held by Israel (some in the wake of the murder of the three Israeli teens) and allowing Hamas operatives to transit Israel to the West Bank.  It is extremely unlikely that Israel would agree to any of these conditions.  By making the ground offensive, Israel is upping the ante and will be putting Hamas to the test, at some point they will see that they have no alternative and they will be forced to accept Israeli conditions for a ceasefire.
Note that the pressure from the international community is on both sides to come to terms, and even the Arab League has proposed that Hamas accept a permanent ceasefire.  Anyone with any understanding of the situation knows that Hamas is the aggressor and that all the casualties, including the Gazans, result from the fact that Hamas made no provision to protect its civilians, as well as firing rockets from civilian areas, telling civilians to stay in areas when warned to leave by the IDF and Hamas refused the initial ceasefire agreement that Israel accepted.   Under these circumstances the IDF will be busy destroying Hamas missiles caches and infrastructure (tunnels, underground bunkers) and no doubt killing as many Hamas military leaders as they can.  By then, Hamas will either accept a permanent ceasefire with Israeli conditions or they will no longer function effectively.    

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Futile Hamas strategy

The Arabs have tried various strategies to destroy Israel and kill Jews.  Their initial major strategy was simpy to invade Jewish areas with militias and armies to massacre Jews and defeat Israeli forces.  They did this in 1921 (riots), 1929 (massacre in Hebron), 1936 (the Uprising), 1948 (the War of Independence), 1956 (the Sinai campaign), 1967 (the 6-Day War), 1973 (the Yom Kippur War), and 1982 (the First Lebanon War).  When the enlightened leaders of Jordan (King Hussein) and Egypt (Pres. Sadat) saw that this was a futile strategy, they capitulated and signed peace treaties with Israel (Egypt in 1979, Jordan in 1994).
Since the Palestinian Arabs under Yasir Arafat could no longer depend on the Arab States to fight their battles, the PLO switched strategies and turned first to intifada (i.e. more riots) (the First Intifada 1987-1993; the Second Intifada 2000-2005).  But when that failed to work they extended their strategy to terrorism and suicide bombings (mostly 2001-2005).  This strategy was ended by the Israeli building of the Security Fence (2003-2012) which prevented easy Palestinian access into Israel.   Since the rocket attacks by Saddam Hussein on Israel during the First Gulf War of 1991 were seemingly successful and Israel had no effective answer to them (and did not use the IAF against Iraq), the Palestinain terrorist organizations have turned to a strategy of firing rockets into Israel at civilian centers, although the rockets and missiles are not targeted.
With the development by Israel of the Iron Dome anti-missile system, now it can be concluded that this rocket strategy of Hamas and Hizbollah is futile, it has been successfully counteracted by Israel.  Since the deployment of Iron Dome in 2011, and operational improvements, the Iron Dome anti-missiles are now ca. 90% effective.  With a tenth battery now becoming operational there is little chance that any rockets can get through the Iron Dome umbrella and cause mass Jewish casualties, as intended by their launchers.  For example, in the current round of hostilities, Hamas have launched ca. 1,000 missiles into Israel.  Of these, ca. 70% fell on unpopulated territory, and only ca. 30 % were expected to fall on populated (or protected) territory.  Since the operational ability is ca. 90% that means that only 10% of 300 or only 30 rockets were actually able to penetrate to Israeli populated areas.  Today the first actual Israeli casualty, Dror Chanin, a volunteer killed by shrapnel from a mortar near the Gaza border, was announced.
This is a laughable proportion, 30 out of 1,000, or 3%, or 1 man killed for 1,000 rockets fired, indicating that the strategy is totally futile.  Imagine the cost and danger of firing 970 rockets for NO reason.  Not only do the launchers usually get killed because of the rapid IAF response to rocket fire, but it is a futile strategy.  Certainly the firing of the Iron Dome anti-missiles is much more costly than the rockets fired by Hamas, but Israel as a technologically advanced country with a strong economy, can well afford this expense to protect its civilians.  During this current bombardment by Hamas, most Israelis have in fact been going about their business, living their lives and continuing to be productive without much interference (this is not to minimize the truly terrifying situation in certain parts of the coutnry, particularly the south, where rockets have been falling at a truly alarming rate and life is lived under a reign of terror).  When will Hamas and the Palestinians realize that their current rocket strategy is a failed approch to kill Jewish citizens of Israel and bring the country to a standstill.  They are running out of ideas and time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The vultures are circling

Whenever there is a war between Israel and the Palestinians (every two years or so) and the Palestinian death toll begins to rise (because they don't have any shelters or warning system, except the IDF), then the diplomatic vultures begin circling.
Today we had the visit of the German FM Franz-Walter Steinmeier, a true vulture if ever there was one.  He is here of course to ask for a ceasefire, in which both sides are considered equally at fault and must cease all hostilities ("mutual restraint").  This is based on the UN Security Council resolution drafted by our friend Jordan, that does not even mention Hamas firing missiles into Israel's populated areas.  Tony Blair, the Quartet representative has been circling around Netanyahu and Peres for a few scraps. Then the biggest vulture of all, US Secty of State John Kerry, was due to land in Cairo to pick over the bones.  Such vultures as the French FM Laurent Fabius and the EU Foreign Policy coordinator Catherine Ashton, have gone on record also demanding that Israel cease its aggressive military action.  They also say that Hamas should stop firing rockets into Israel, but since they don't talk to Hamas there is no conviction in that request. Finally, Egyptian Pres al-Sisi proposed a ceasefire to be effective as of 9 am today (Tues).  The entire international community, UN Secty Gen Ban-ki Moon, US Pres Obama, British FM Haig, EU Foreign expert Ashton and the Arab League, all endorsed the Egyptian proposal. 
The Israeli Government immediately accepted Egypt's ceasefire at a Cabinet meeting Tues morning and all Israeli military action ceased.  This is a smart move by Israel, although Israel has given up a potential tangible advantage by accepting this ceasefire now, namely no ground invasion.  The Israeli armor and troops have been poised on the Gaza border for a week now, but have not been called into action.  So far the damage done to Hamas and the infrastructure in Gaza is tremendous, with over 1,500 sorties by the IAF.  It is estimated that Hamas had ca. 9,000 missiles (they have plenty of missiles, but not enough food, medicine or electricity for their people) and they have fired ca. 1,000 at Israel in the current hostilities and Israel has destroyed an estimated 3,000.  That leaves them with another 5,000 still on hand, mostly stored underground.  If there is a ceasefire without addressing these missiles, then this is an open invitation for another round of rocket attacks to start in a few years.  Only if these missiles are destroyed by some international agreement or Israel goes in with ground forces to find and destroy all missile caches can there be a peaceful outcome of this conflict.
Hamas immediately rejected this Egyptian ceasefire. Hamas regard al-Sisi as an enemy, because he has decimated their ally, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and to accept his mediation is an affront for them. In effect the ceasefire does not give the Palestinians any basis to declare a victory, what have they gained by this confrontation?  Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel (some 50 Tues morning) and alarms sounded all over southern and central Israel, while this morning the IDF ceased all military activities. Meanwhile the rockets were still being fired from Gaza and Tues afternoon adter 6 hours the IDF again began retaliating.  Who are the war-mongers?  This rejection by Hamas plays into the hands of Israel.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Christy Anastas

I was told about Christy Anastas by our Filippina carer.  She is a Christian and she came across a Youtube video of Christy Anastas, a Palestinian Christian speaking out in support of Israel.  Since this is quite unusual she brought it to my attention and I have since watched several of Christy's videos.  Let me say at the outset that she is a very brave and very intelligent woman. 
Christy was born and grew up in Bethlehem, which is part of the Palestine Authority (PA).  She tells the truth as she has experienced it, her central point is that as a Christian her main persecutors were not and are not the Israelis, but are in fact the Palestinian Muslims.  She certainly has suffered, and knows many Christians who have suffered, at the hands of Israeli soldiers for being Palestinian, but as she tells it, she sees them performing their duty defensively against Palestinian Muslim attack.  But, as well as the Muslims attacking the Jews they also attack the Christians, yet the Christians have no soldiers or guns to protect them. 
Bethlehem and Ramallah were Palestinian Christian cities, until 50 years ago the percentage of population in each was ca. 95% Christian in Ramallah and 80% Christian in Bethlehem.  Now it is 5% in Ramallah.  During the Israeli occupation from 1967 to 1994, before the PA was founded under the Oslo Accords, the Christian population in Bethlehem actually went up to 85%.  But, since the PA has been in control, the Christian population has plummeted, down to 20% in 20 years and now down to 7%.  This is a great travesty, that is being ignored by the liberal western population and media.   Where have all the Christians gone?  They have escaped abroad, to the USA, Britain, Scandinavia and so on.  But, they are intimidated from telling their stories, because they are threatened with death and also death for the families and friends they left behind in the PA. 
Christy's story is symptomatic of the situation.  She was a bright student and went to University to study law.   She was disillusioned to find that although the law that is taught in the University speaks of human rights and women's rights, but there are actually no such rights in the PA.  For example, women are considered to be property and there are many honor killings of women and girls.  Christians are still required to pay the jizya tax, that has been required of Christians and Jews under Muslim rule since the Middle Ages. This tax is supposed to earn them protection from whatever Muslim ruler controls the state (there were similar taxes for Jews under Christianity).  Her Uncle was paying this tax, yet he was being exploited by the Muslims, for example, they were firing from his house and store and the Israelis were firing back at them, thus destroying Christian property (this is a general problem for the Christians, it happened also when Gilo in Jerusalem was under attack and the PA fighters shot from Christian homes).  Her Uncle protested to the authorities of the PA, but nothing was done, so in protest he stopped paying the jizya tax.  He was arrested, put in a Palestinian jail, tortured and then shot.  No trial, no enquiry, nothing! 
Christy discovered that the law actually practised in the PA is a combination of Muslim Shariah law and local Beduin law.  But, the judges were corrupt and biased towards their own clan or tribe.  For example, several of her Christian relatives had land stolen from them by Muslims from Hebron.  But the judge who heard the case was from Hebron and allowed the theft to be legalized.  She began reading the Bible and the Koran as well as the New Testament.  She also visited Yad Vashem and became convinced that the Jews had the right to have their State and that the Palestinians could live in peace side-by-side with the Jews.  When she discussed this with a group of friends, the next day one of her uncles came to see her and told her that he had a gun with a bullet in it for her, and if she did not stop talking the way she was he would have to kill her for the safety of her family and other Christians.  But, she could not change her views.  Then she was visited by a Muslim gunman, probably from Hamas, and told that she must stop or leave, otherwise she would be shot.  She left immediately for Britain, where she was granted political asylum in three days. 
She has confronted Saeb Erekat, Chief negotiator for the PA, in Oxford when he was visiting, where he assured her that there would be human rights and women's rights in "Palestine," but she is understandably sceptical.  Meanwhile she lives in hiding and under threat for speaking out like so many others before her, Irjit Manji in Canada, Aayan Hirsi Ali in Holland, and Salman Rushdie in Britain.
To see Christy's video go to  She has been sponsored by the Emmaus Group.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Casualty counts

In the conflict in Gaza, casualty figures play a large role especially in the minds of uninvolved observers.  When they hear that no Israelis have been killed by missiles fired from Gaza into Israel, but that 160 Gazans have been killed by Israeli counter-strikes, people tend to sympathize with the side that has the larger body count.  They are considered the "victims," but that is simplistic.
Israel protects its citizens: Notwithstanding the fact that ca. 850 missiles have been fired from Gaza into Israel in the past week, starting the conflict, there have been no deaths in Israel because the majority of the missiles targeted at populated areas have been intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.  This is a remarkable innovation that has been developed by Israel precisely to protect its civilian population from such repeated attacks.  The Code Red alarm sounds to warn civilians to run for cover.  But, two old people died from heart attacks and several were injured by explosions and shrapnel.
You cannot believe everything you read that comes out of Gaza:  The estimate that 160 civilians have been killed to date in Gaza is an unreliable figure, since this figure comes from Hamas sources (the "Ministry of Health") and is re-quoted by all news media without any kind of verification or analysis.  One reason for this figure is that Hamas terrorist operatives do not wear uniforms, they are irregulars.  Hence it is impossible to distinguish them from actual civilians.  It is beyond credulity that all of those killed by Israeli counter-strikes are actually civilians and that no combatants have been killed, even though Israeli targeting is extremely accurate.  It’s anybody’s guess how many actual combatants and how many civilians have really been killed. One estimate that three quarters of those killed by Israeli strikes are actual civilians is merely guesswork and certainly an exaggeration.  I would put the percentage nearer 10%.  This is specifically because the IDF warns people by SMS message on their mobile phones that a strike will occur on their house or in the vicinity!  What other Army in the world does this, to warn their enemy so as to reduce their civilian casualties.  
"The Palestinian casualty amplification effect."  Can you tell me how many civilians have been killed in the current conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan in the past few days.  Admit it, you have no idea, and really you don't care,. yet the casualty count in Gaza is the most prominent number on the news.  Why is this?  It's for two reasons, first exaggerated sympathy for the poor Palestinians, the underdogs, the "victims" of Israel's "brutal disproportionate aggression," and second because the enemies of the Palestinians are the Jews and the Jews are aggressive and deliberately kill people, according to the Western anti-Semitic stereotype.  Note that Palestinians being murdered in Syria by Assad's forces are not even mentioned in the news.  So Palestinian lives are worth more than those of any other group of civilians in the world, as long as they are being killed by Jews.
In wars people die: This is of course all nonsense and even though there are attempts by Israel (and not by the Ukrainians, the Syrians, the Iraqis and the Afghanis) to reduce civilian casualties, there are always going to be some (collateral damage), and in the case of Gaza a very small number given the number of sorties flown by the IAF (now up to ca. 1250).  The news media are touting that several thousand people have been forced to leave their homes, but where was their concern when 5 million Syrians were forced to leave their homes.  In fact, several IAF sorties have been called off if it is seen that there are civilians nearby, including those placed on the roofs of houses as human shields by the terrorists when they want to protect their facilities.  Hamas spokesmen have publicly called for people to stay in their houses when the IDF warns them to leave.  This is a war crime, but Hamas has not been criticized in the media for this.  One Palestinian spokeswoman denied this report on Fox News and said that if true it would be "reprehensible," and then the interviewer played the video showing the Hamas spokesman saying this (see ) and she was crushed. 
The difference is encapsulated in PM Netanyahu's remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:  This is the entire difference between us and Hamas – we are using defensive systems against missiles to protect the residents of Israel and they are using the residents of Gaza to protect arsenals of missiles.  Nothing better underscores the difference in this campaign.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Mindless in Gaza

Do the leaders of Hamas truly believe that they can terrorize Israelis and score a victory against the State of Israel by firing hundreds of missiles at us?  I think the answer to that question is "yes!"  From our perspective it cannot work and it can never do any real damage, not only do we have the Iron Dome anti-missile system that is intercepting 90% of rockets fired at populated areas, but the Israeli public is very resilient.  We have been through a lot worse, and we know that we can and must stick it out.  So far no Israeli has been killed by the hundreds of rockets that have been fired into Israel (approx 800 in the past week) and one person was badly injured today when a rocket struck a gas station in Ashdod.  Even though Israel is a very densely populated country (apart from the Negev) nevertheless without targeting, just firing dumbly into space, they can never hope to score a major success. 
By contrast, the IAF response is targeted and uses specific intelligence, a much more intelligent and effective way of destroying an enemy.  If you destroy 25% of any organization it will cease to be able to function effectively, that is what we must aim to do in relation to Hamas, render it unable to function.  They have put billions of dollars worth of money, most of it contributed by the EU and the US as well as UNRWA for humanitarian purposes, in buying and manufacturing rockets and missiles.  They have dug launching silos below ground and constructed a network of inter-connecting tunnels and command centers below ground.  Although much of this can be destroyed by IAF bombs, it needs men on the ground to actually go in and root it out.  If the Netanyahu Coalition does not have the guts to follow up the softening process of air attacks with a ground offensive, then in another few years the same will happen again, as it has before, and another Israeli government will in the future face the same dilemma.
Many reasons have been proposed for the current timing of the massive barrage of rockets from Gaza, including the rounding up of the Hamas organization in the West Bank by Israel following the murder of the three Israeli boys.  But, I think this is an excuse, a fortunate opportunity that Hamas has been waiting for.  Their main reason for this onslaught is that they have for years been accumulating the rockets and building the infrastructure, and they were looking for an opportune moment to carry out their plan. I think they also wanted to grab some headlines in competition with the success of the Islamic forces in Iraq.  As I said, I think they truly believe that this onslaught would deal a death blow to Israel.  They think we are weak and stupid, and they can't help thinking otherwise, because that is what their religion and culture tell them.  Jews were for so long defenceless, inferior Dhimmis, how could they stand up against the forces of Allah.
There have been many cases where a military leader has underestimated his foe due to cultural bias or racism, for example Maj. Gen. George Armstrong Custer ignored sage advice and rode out against a superior force of Sioux in 1876, and you know what happened.  In WWI, the British in the Middle East underestimated the Turks at Galipolli and at Gaza, at the cost of many thousands of Allied soldiers lives (for further examples see "Military blunders," June 11, 2014).  The leaders of Hamas are said to be surprised by the ferocity and strength of the Israeli retaliation, much as Hizbollah was last time they tested the IDF.  But, because the IDF has never been allowed to finish the job, Israel's deterrent capability has been blunted.  To change their cultural bias that Jews are weak and easy prey they must unfortunately be taught a lesson much as Egypt, Syria and Jordan were in 1967 and 1973.  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Operation Protective Edge

About 2 years ago Israel carried out Operation Defensive Shield against Gaza, the objective of which was to stop Hamas and other terrorist groups from launching rockets into Israel.   Although we had an informal ceasefire and relative calm for most of the past two years, clearly the Operation in 2012 did not really succeed, because here we are again, facing a huge barrage of long-range missiles from Hamas and once again attacking Gaza.  To stop this cyclical process, we need to deter Hamas completely and to do that we need to destroy their infrastructure and cache of missiles. 
Although it took the Cabinet and PM Netanyahu some days to make up their minds to counter-attack Gaza, not after 10 rockets and not after 100, but after about 300 rockets had fallen all over Israel, nevertheless, by day 3 of Operation Protective Edge a great deal of damage has been done in Gaza.  The reasons we have cause to be confident about the current conflict are as follows:
1. The Iron Dome anti-missile system (developed in Israel with US funding) has been very successful.  In operation it distinguishes between missiles that will fall in populated areas and those in unpopulated areas.  The battery is only activated against missiles targeting populated or security areas, and in those cases it is ca. 90% successful.  As a consequence, notwithstanding the hundreds of rockets and longer range missiles that have been launched against Israel, there have so far been no Israeli casualties.  There has been billions of shekels of property damage and many near misses, but by and large people are forewarned by the Red Alert warnings given by the Iron Dome, that allow from 15 secs up to 3 minutes warning to get to a shelter, depending on how far the area is from the Gaza border. 
2. Hamas are launching barrages of rockets at once in order to try to overcome the Iron Dome system, but the system is sufficiently well designed that it can cope with many such missiles and is able to counteract only those that pose a danger to populated areas, consequently this reduces the effectiveness of the rocket barrages. 
3. Hamas have buried their missile launching sites, and connected them with underground tunnels, so that their personnel are not exposed to the IAF drones.  However, as soon as a missile is launched its trajectory tells the exact spot from where it started, and the IAF can target that area with bombs that are powerful enough to destroy not only the metal doors that are supposed to protect the launching site, but also the launching pad and anything in it.  In this way the IAF are gradually degrading Hamas's underground launching capabilities.
4. Israeli intelligence is incredibly accurate and this is a tremendous success.  Although many Hamas leaders have gone into hiding (I like the thought of this), nevertheless Israeli intelligence knows pretty accurately where many of them are and where they operate from, often from civilian houses and buildings.  Two major Hamas Government agencies, the Defense Ministry and the Intelligence Agency, have been destroyed.  Two leaders of the rocket launchings were killed in the past day, one driving in a car that was targeted and blown up and one on a motorcycle.   Also, the house of every Hamas brigade commander has been reportedly blown up, so that none of those who survive will have a home to go back to.  It has been reported that Hamas, while still firing rockets, has expressed dismay at the extent and effectiveness of the IDF response.  Approximately 80 people have been killed in Gaza, but most of them are Hamas operatives, rocket launchers and terrorists, who do not wear uniforms.  About 800 people have been injured in Gaza, and the Egyptians have opened the border to injured Palestinians, but since they have a bad relationship with Hamas, that is in fact the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Government under Gen. al-Sisi will not help Hamas.
5.  It has been reported that the IDF has carried out more sorties in the past 36 hours than they did in the whole of Operation Defensive Shield.  PM Netanyahu has warned that this operation has just started and will be a long one.  Notwithstanding the damage to Hamas and the other terrorist organizations, the missiles are still flying over Israel, the warnings can be heard every few minutes on the FM band, and the terrorist infrastrucutre is still intact.  A ground invasion is needed to definitively degrade Hamas and re-establish Israel's deterrence.  Only in this way can there be a longer lasting result of this current Operation.

6. World opinion is more muted this time, as a result of the obvious and crude fact that Hamas clearly initiated hostilities, and Israel definitely tried to arrange a ceasefire through Egypt and others.  The UN Security Council has been called into session and Secty Gen Ban ki-Moon  is due to make a report.  But, no decisions or resolutions are expected within the next few days.  It seems that there is sympathy for Israel's predicament and even though the US and others have called for Israeli restraint, no-one in the West is actually talking to Hamas or to Iran that supplies them with missiles.  They are talking to Pres. Abbas of the PA, but he has no control over Hamas, even though they are supposedly in a PA Unity Government together.  This time there may be enough time for Israel to sufficiently degrade the military capability of Hamas, so a ground invasion may be imminent.  We don't want to be back in another two years for Operation Defensive Edge or Protective Shield.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Who is Baghdadi?

Abu-bakr al-Baghdadi is the self-professed Caliph of the Islamic State, that now stretches some 250 miles from Aleppo in former Syria to Mosul in former Iraq, also known as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.  He was a fomer Imam in Baghdad who joined al Qaeda and then went beyond them.  He has just released a video of himself preaching at a Mosque in Mosul and commanding all (Sunni) Muslims to obey him.  He is now presenting himself as the top authority in Islam.  As such he has many enemies, he has broken with Al Qaeda, and his fighters have clashed with those of al Qaeda.  The difference in tactics between ISIS and al Qaeda is that although their ultimate aims are the same, to establish a world-wide Muslim Caliphate, he has gone directly to that goal, seeing the opportunity in the disintegration of Syria and Iraq, while al Qaeda is hung up on attacking the West and particularly the USA as the chief obstacle to Muslim expansionism.   
His other chief enemy are the Shia, who he and other Sunnis regard as heretical Muslims. The schism occurred very early in the history of Islam and is fundamental to the progress of the Islamic State.  The immediate enemy is the Shia-dominated Iraqi Government of Nuri al Maliki, whose American-trained and supplied forces faded away when faced by the ISIS fighters.  Now the Iraqi army with Shia militias is mounting a counter attack, with limited success.  His other Shia enemy is of course Pres. Assad of Syria, who is an Awalakite and an ally of the Shia, and their principal backer is of course Shia Iran.  The Ayatollahs in Iran must be preparing themselves for a long brutal war against the forces of this new Sunni Islamic State. 
His other enemies are Saudi Arabia, the center of orthodox Salafist  Islam and an American ally, and of course the US and the West itself.  But, he is unlikely to try to mount attacks directly on the US and the West, while he is fighting an intense military war with the Shia in Iraq as well as other local forces, such as the Kurds.  He will presumably try to consolidate his position before attacking Iran or Saudi Arabia or the USA.  He might be a threat to Israel, since he regards Jordan, Lebanon and Israel as part of the historica Islamic State and will no doubt try to undermine them, taking advantage of the millions of Syrian Sunni Arabs now living as refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.   He also regards Turkey as an enemy since they "stole" the Caliphate from the Arabs in 1453 and retained control until defeated by the British in WWI and the subsequent Turkish revolt of 1923, when the last Caliphate was abolished. 
In summary, everyone is his enemy because his Islamic code requires him to try to take over the whole world and convert it to his version of  Islam. Many people have not yet realized the extreme brutality of these Islamists, when they capture a town the first thing they do is massacre the Iraqi Shia soldiers, then they destroy all the Churches, murder the Christians, sometimes by crucifixtion, desecrate the Shia Mosques and forcibly convert the Shia to Sunni Islam.  So you have to hope that he will be defeated soon by one or more combinations of these enemies.  If he manages to survive then expect to see his picture in your neighborhood soon.  In the meantime sit back and enjoy the show as they slog it out against each other.
There are of course many questions that arise regarding the viablility of a State that seeks to go back to medieval times.  Not only will it be hard for them to maintain the loyalty of their citizens if they treat them brutally for any infraction of Islamic purity, as the Taliban did in Afghanistan, but how will they maintain a working economy, they must use modern weapons, communications and develop an oil industry.  In time, and with so many enemies, it is not difficult to predict that they will fail, but that remains to be seen.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Disproportionate intent

Western liberals like to complain about the "disproportionate force" that Israel uses in response to the Palestinians, both in terms of police putting down Palestinian youth demonstrations (riots) and IDF response to rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, often termed "asymmetric warfare."  But there is a far more fundamental "disproportion" that liberals prefer to ignore, that is the fact that Palestinians and Arabs in general intend to destroy Israel and kill all the Jews, while Israel has no such agenda in relation to the Arabs.  We merely want to stave them off and survive. 
I defy anyone to find anywhere in Israeli documents a statement of a plan or intention to kill all Palestinians.  But, it is in plain view in the founding documents of the PLO (supposedly abrogated) and Hamas, the deliberate intention to destroy Israel and kill all the Jews.  That's why they use any excuse to riot in full force with stones and petrol bombs, and what do they shout "Death to Israel," "Kill all the Jews."  That's why Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza have fired 100 missiles, rockets and mortars into Israel in the past day, no nation can accept such a barrage.  Yesterday there were Red Alert sirens in Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheva, Beth Shemesh and Jerusalem and 10 missiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.  This cannot be allowed to continue and is unacceptable, even the US sympathizes. 
Yet, the Israeli Cabinet's announced policy is a gradual escalation of response, from ca. 10 sorties a day to last night there were 60 IAF sorties over Gaza.  The US of course asks for restraint on both sides (that's a laugh). The extent of the damage in Gaza has not yet been assessed, but you can be sure it was greater than the damage done in Israel.  But, if they stopped the firing of missiles into Israel the IAF attacks would stop immediately, and they know that.  It may be that right now, given the success of the ISIS Sunni terrorists in Syria and Iraq, they want to remind the world that Hamas is also there and active.  They may also want to demonstrate that although they signed a unity agreement with Fatah, they have not changed their basic extremist policy.  But, whatever the reason for the current atacks, it is the disproportion of Palestinian intent that is clearly the cause of the escalation of violence.
It is true that a Palestinian youth was murdered by 6 Israeli youths in revenge for the murder of three Israeli schoolboys.  But, this is so disproportionate, let's not forget the murder of Shelly Daddon, a 19-year old girl who was abducted by an Arab taxi driver and stabbed multiple times and her body dumped.  And the Israelis driving in the West Bank who have been murdered by stones thrown at their cars or shot as they drove, including the killing of babies.  And the hundreds who were killed in suicide bombing attacks before the Israeli Government built the security fence and wall, that has saved countless lives from terrorist attacks.  And now ca. 120 missiles and rockets were launched from Gaza at Israel overnight from Hadera in the north to Beersheva in the south.  No, this is the true disproportion, the Jews want peace, while the Arabs want war.  

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Failed Arab States

Syria and Iraq are failed Arab states.  Other failed Muslim States are Yemen, Libya and Somalia, to name a few.  Syria and Iraq were originally founded after WWI by France and Britain, respectively. Contrary to Western perceptions they are not of ancient origin.  Their current disintegration highlights the mistakes that these imperial powers made in cobbling together what they conceived as viable states.  But, they were based on the wrong criteria, instead of forcing different tribes, ethnic groups and sects into one state in an attempt to enforce a national uniformity, they should have separated them according to the basis of their loyalty to their group.  Thus, the Alawites, Sunnis and Druse should not have been forced together into Syria and the Sunnis, Shia and Kurds should not have been forced together into Iraq. The Middle East is currently suffering massively  from the stupidity and misconceptions of the former colonial powers.
After the defeat of the Turkish Empire in WWI the Allied powers, principally Britain and France, re-worked the map of the Middle East according to their own interests, based on the secret Sykes-Picot Treaty that they negotiated during the War.  According to the Treaties after WWI of San Remo (1920) and Lausanne (1923), that were ratified by the League of Nations, the precursor to the UN, Britain was given Mandates for Palestine and Mesopotamia (Iraq), and France was given a Mandate for Syria.  It was understood that the Mandate was a temporary occupation, with the intention that the local peoples would be given self-determination.  The Mandate for Palestine was, according to the Treaty, assigned for the development of a Jewish Homeland, and Israel was established at the end of the British Mandate in 1948.   Pres. Wilson of the USA rejected any American Mandate either for Turkey or Armenia.  He argued that since the US had not declared war on Turkey during the war the US would not be involved in the Middle East and he was certainly against colonialism.
But, it was not only the Colonialists who were at fault.  The Hashemite Sherif Hussein of Mecca, who was then the most powerful Muslim leader, had two sons Feisal and Abdullah, and he signed agreements with the British and French so that each would become King of an Arab Kingdom.  But the French (characteristically) reneged on their agreement, they separated Lebanon from Syria to protect the Christian minority there, and they threw King Faisal out after a short reign in 1920.  The British under Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill, to maintain good relations with Sherif Hussein, appointed Feisal instead as King of Iraq, a country they invented.  In 1922, Britain separated Trans-Jordan illegally from the Palestine Mandate in order to satisfy the need for a second Arab State and appointed Abdullah its King.  Syria eventually became an independent Republic in 1946 with the official end of the French Mandate and Iraq became a Republic in 1958 with the violent overthrow of the Hashemite Monarchy there.  The Hashemites were also overthrown in Arabia by the Saudis in 1932.  Both Syria and Iraq were inventions of the fantasy of the colonialists that they could carve up the Middle East according to their whim. That proved to be far from reality and today Syria and Iraq are failed states.
Syria under Pres. Assad now consists of ca. 40% of its original area.  Approx another 40% is controlled by ISIS, the extreme Sunni Islamist group, that also controls ca. 40% of what was Iraq and that has declared an Islamic Caliphate.  The other ca. 20% of Syria is controlled by other anti-Assad groups, including the so-called democratic opposition.  A similar situation exists in Iraq, the Shia-dominated government of Pres. Mailiki controls only about 40% of what was Iraq, and the rest is under Kurdish control in the north that will soon be declared an independent Kurdistan.   Those who seek to cobble Iraq back together again, like Pres. Obama, are like Humpty Dumpty, attempting to do the impossible, it can't be done.  Now the US is doing what Pres. Wilson expressly decided against, playing the role of the European colonial powers in the MIddle East.  Give it up and let them fight it out until they reach a conclusion.  It may take years, but it's the only way.  Meanwhile we should sit on the sidelines, cheering them on.
PS. My blog postings can now be seen on the web-site "IsraelSeen" at


Monday, July 07, 2014

Facing the truth

The Israeli police have released the information that 6 Israeli youths have been arrested for the murder of 16 year old Mohammed Abu Khdeir in East Jerusalem, as a revenge murder for the killing of the three Israeli youths a few weeks earlier.  One of the youths confessed to the crime and acted it out for police and implicated his accomplices.  Notwithstanding incidents of police incompetence and brutality, the police acted with professional competence in this case.  They used surveillance photos of the car used and of the youths talking to Abu Khdeir to make the arrests.  The day before, a group of Israeli youths attempted to abduct a 9 -year old Palestinian boy in E. Jerusalem, but were fought off by neighbors.  Although they reported this to the police, the report was ignored, until the arrested youth described the previous attempt.  These neighbors saw the youths and could have given the police descriptions had they asked.  Incidentally, none of the six right wing Jewish activists who have been arrested for the murder are actually "settlers," they come from good homes in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh. 
The cell phone videos of two border policemen beating up the cousin of the dead youth, Khaled Abu Khdeir, an American citizen, has been widely shown in the media.  It is shocking, and according to PM Netanyahu and other spokesmen for the government, an independent enquiry has been started, not controlled by the police themselves, and any crime will be punished.  It is strictly against all regulations for police to beat a suspect after his hands have been restrained by handcuffs or otherwise.  Such incidents have happened many times in the USA, and even today there was a video of a cop beating a woman who refused to stop, and he punched her in the face when she was on the ground.  None of this is excusable or acceptable.  In the case of Khaled Abu Khdeir he was released by a judge on bail under house arrest.   He and his parents claim he did nothing, not even throw stones.   But, it is certainly dangerous for a youth to be among youths who are throwing stones and petrol bombs.
It is a measure of the democratic institutions of Israel that Israeli youths were arrested for the murder of the Arab youth and the police who carried out the beating will be investigated and charged.  The Israeli Government is under a great deal of pressure at the  moment, there has been widespread rioting in Jerusalem over the murder of the Arab boy (note that there was no such rioting against the Arabs by Jewish Israelis when the three Israeli youths were murdered); there have been copycat riots in other Arabs towns in northern Israel, this time carried out by Israeli Arabs, not Palestinians; there have been over 100 rockets fired on Israel from Gaza in the past few days (several of them intercepted by the Iron Dome system), as well as daily IAF raids against Gaza; and there is the continued search for the murderers of the three Israeli youths.  According to most accounts, PM Netanyahu is handling the situation calmly, as asked by the US and EU to show restraint.  He has shown restraint, but will it earn him any points with them or the media.  In any case, many Israeli citizens would like to see a more active military reaction to stop the Arab riots and the Gaza rockets. 
At the same time, the Arab murderer of 19 year old Shelly Dadon of Afula, who was stabbed to death some months ago in the north, has been arrested and will stand trial for the murder.  He is Hussein Khalifa, a taxi driver from the Galillee.  No one is safe from these murderers.