The Hamas Bombardment of Gaza - Petra Marquardt-Bigman (Jerusalem Post)
When the body of a young boy was brought to a Gaza hospital just when Egypt's prime minister was visiting there last week, his death was blamed on Israel. The dramatic images were widely distributed by the media.
But ultimately, it turned out that the dead boy whom CNN presented as "a symbol of civilian casualties" was the victim of a crashed Hamas rocket.
See also Gaza Boy Killed by Palestinian Rocket - Phoebe Greenwood (Telegraph-UK)
The highly publicized death of four-year-old Mohammed Sadallah appeared to have been the result of a misfiring home-made rocket, not a bomb dropped by Israel.
See also 98 Rockets Have Landed Inside Gaza (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
One source of civilian injuries in Gaza is the many Palestinian rockets that have fallen short and landed inside the Strip.
These 98 rockets (so far) have most certainly caused casualties, although this is not a topic that Hamas can be relied upon to report accurately.
Syrian Massacre Photos Recycled as Gaza Tragedy - Anav Silverman
The Arab news site Alarab Net released a photo on Nov. 18 which depicts three bloodied children and their mother lying on a floor,
who were allegedly "massacred" in Gaza.
Tazpit News Agency found that the photo originally had been published on the Dubai-based Moheet news site on Oct. 19 with a story about Syria.
Last week, Hamas' Al Qassam Brigades uploaded a photo of a dead child in his weeping father's arms, which was alleged to be the result of an IDF strike in Gaza.
The American news site Breitbart found that the photo had originally appeared in a slideshow about the Syrian conflict in October in the UK Guardian.
War Song on Palestinian Websites: "Strike a Blow at Tel Aviv" (MEMRI)
On Nov. 17, a music video was posted on various Palestinian websites threatening Israel and promising to attack Tel Aviv.
The music was accompanied by still images of rockets being fired, a plane being shot out of the sky, and Israelis injured and bracing for imminent landing of rockets.
Lyrics: "Strike a blow at Tel Aviv and frighten the Zionists.
The more you build it the more we will destroy it."
"We don't want no truce or solution.
All we want is to strike Tel Aviv."
View the Video (MEMRI)
Israel Aborts Airstrikes in Effort to Protect Gaza Civilians - Yael Livnat and Yiftach Carmeli (Israel Defense Forces)
An air strike on an underground launch site in Gaza, in response to the incessant rocket fire directed at Israel, was aborted due to the discovery of civilians in the area.
Intelligence-collecting aircraft identified a rocket launch, and Air Force aircraft were sent to strike the area Thursday. But "we saw that innocent civilians were approaching the area of the underground launch site," said Lt. Omer, part of the intelligence squadron.
"We immediately contacted the forces and instructed them to abort the strike." This is one of many similar stories.
See also Video: IDF Pinpoint Strike on an Underground Launching Site Near Mosque (Israel Defense Forces)
On Nov. 18, the Israel Air Force targeted an underground rocket launching site near a mosque in Gaza. The strike was precise, and the mosque was unharmed.
Israel's Hospitals Continue to Treat Gazan Patients - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli hospitals are treating dozens of patients who came to Israel from Gaza to get healthcare unavailable there.
"We at Rambam Medical Center are taking care of sick children and adults, and we are not looking at their religion or where they come from," said Rambam director-general Prof. Rafael Beyar.
"It's absurd that we are doing this at the same time Israelis are being attacked, but there is no other way."
Beyar said he had received no reports of any tension among Jewish and Arab personnel in his medical center. "We are used to working together to save lives."
Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer said that it provides medical care to several dozen Palestinians each month.
Tel Aviv's Sourasky Medical Center said 50 patients and their accompanying relatives from Gaza are now at the hospital.
How to Select a Secure Space (IDF Home Front Command)
See also Video: Behavior During Rocket Attacks (IDF Home Front Command)
Israel Terror Relief Fund
(Jewish Federations of North America)
The Jewish Federations of North America started a new Israel Terror Relief Fund, to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel at this critical time.
The fund will help support more than 1 million residents of Israel who have been living in siege, under rocket fire from terrorists in Gaza.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- President Obama: "No Country on Earth Would Tolerate Missiles Raining Down on Its Citizens"
President Obama said Sunday in Bangkok:
"The precipitating event here...that's causing the current crisis...was an ever-escalating number of missiles; they were landing not just in Israeli territory, but in areas that are populated. And there's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel's right to defend itself from missiles landing on people's homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians. And we will continue to support Israel's right to defend itself."
"Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory. If that can be accomplished without a ramping-up of military activity in Gaza, that's preferable; that's not just preferable for the people of Gaza, it's also preferable for Israelis....If we're serious about wanting to resolve this situation and create a genuine peace process, it starts with no more missiles being fired into Israel's territory." (White House)
- Israeli Reservists Set for Possible Gaza Assault - Joshua Mitnick
Thousands of Israeli army reservists streamed Sunday to bases around Gaza, ready to invade by land if cease-fire talks fail. At a time of war, Israel's combat reservists serve as the military's backbone and can be asked to leave their families and careers on little notice. "I do this out of love,'' said Orel, 24, a combat engineer. "I have a lot of friends in southern Israel, and it's not fair they have to hear air raid sirens all the time.'' (Wall Street Journal)
See also The Faces Behind the Uniforms - Itzik Saban and Gadi Golan
When the phone rings, they don't think twice about it. Tens of thousands of reservists leave their families behind and make their way to Gaza invasion preparation sites in southern Israel in record time. Some reservists left behind families still under the threat of Palestinian rockets. David Frankel, a resident of Ashdod, said: "We all left behind wives and children....We have suffered the rockets for the past 12 years....It is intolerable. Our motivation is sky high and we will carry out any mission we are given."
Michael Dvorin, a Jerusalem attorney who is married with four children, said:
"There is a good feeling about us finally being able to do what is necessary. It is heart-warming to see the brotherhood and friendship among the citizens."
Shimon Hillel, of Beersheba, said: "I left a wife, a five-year-old son and a six-month-old baby in our protected room at home. They understand the need to restore security in the south." His friend Yuval Shmuel, from Dimona, said: "We came with motivation to contribute to the country without thinking twice about it." (Israel Hayom)
- With Longer Reach, Rockets Bolster Hamas Arsenal - Ethan Bronner
In the current round of fighting, Israel is aiming at a supply line of rockets from Iran that have for the first time given Hamas the ability to strike as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Its assassinated commander, Ahmed al-Jabari, had armed Hamas with sophisticated Iranian weapons like Fajr-5 rockets with a range of about 45 miles, which are fired from underground launching pads.
Hamas had perhaps 100 of them. The rockets are assembled locally after being shipped from Iran to Sudan, trucked through Egypt, and broken down and moved through Sinai tunnels into Gaza, according to senior Israeli security officials. Israeli officials said the movement of the Fajr-5 rockets through Egypt could not go unnoticed there, given their size.
Each is 20 feet long and weighs more than 2,000 pounds - the warhead alone weighs 375 pounds - and the trucks carrying them across Egyptian bridges and through roadblocks into Sinai would be hard to miss. The smuggling route involves salaried employees from Hamas along the way, Iranian technical experts traveling on forged passports, and government approval in Sudan, Israeli officials said.
"[Jabari] sent commanders to Syria and to Iran to be trained by the Revolutionary Guards. And then he built up this whole new branch to develop military technology focusing on long-range missiles," said a retired Israeli general.
The collapse of Libya last year created other supply options for Hamas as Libyan military storehouses were raided and the weapons were driven across Egypt and into Gaza.
(New York Times)
- Israeli Iron Dome Stops a Rocket with a Rocket - Isabel Kershner
In the first five days of the Gaza conflict, Israel's unique Iron Dome anti-rocket system has successfully intercepted more than 300 rockets fired at densely populated areas, with a success rate of 80 to 90%, top officials said. Developed with significant American financing and undergoing its ultimate battle test, the Iron Dome system has saved many lives, protected property and proved to be a strategic game changer, experts said.
Casualties on the Israeli side have been kept low by the Iron Dome system and the fact that most Israelis have followed the instructions of the Home Front Command, taking shelter in the 15 to 90 seconds they have between the warning sirens and the landing of a rocket.
(New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Palestinians Say Israel Demands 15-Year Lull, Morsi Guarantee - Elior Levy
According to reports in Cairo, Israel's conditions for a ceasefire include:
1. A lull for a period of more than 15 years.
2. An immediate cessation of arms smuggling and the transfer of weapons to Gaza.
3. Cessation of rocket fire on the part of all armed Palestinian factions and an end to attacks on soldiers near the Gaza border.
4. Israel has the right to hunt down terrorists in the event of an attack or if it obtains information on an imminent attack.
5. The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt will remain open, but the crossings on the Gaza-Israel border will remain closed.
6. Egypt's politicians, headed by President Mohammed Morsi, will be the guarantors of any ceasefire agreement; meaning, the agreement will be backed by Egypt's political echelon rather than by its security establishment.
See also Hamas Weighing Israel's Ceasefire Terms - Elior Levy
Hamas deputy politburo chief Mousa Abu Marzook said Sunday that the group rejected Israel's terms for a ceasefire, while Hamas spokesman Razi Hamed told Al-Jazeera that Israel and Hamas had agreed on 90% of an outline for a truce. Abu Marzook told Al-Arabiya that Israel is discussing a possible settlement with Egyptian mediators but has presented two preconditions that were not acceptable to Hamas:
a demilitarized zone near the border and a cessation of weapons smuggling via tunnels. He confirmed that Hamas officials are negotiating a ceasefire in Cairo.
- Gaza Rocket Hits School in Ashkelon on Monday - Yaakov Lappin and Ben Hartman
A rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza hit a school parking lot in Ashkelon on Monday morning. No injuries were reported as all Israeli schools are closed within a 40-km. radius of Gaza.
The Iron Dome rocket-defense system intercepted three of the four rockets fired at Ashkelon. The fourth scored a direct hit on an apartment building, wounding two people. A house near Kiryat Malachi was struck Sunday evening in a direct hit. There was widespread wreckage but no injuries were reported. The residents had taken cover in the reinforced safe room.
Hamas and other terrorist factions launched 120 rockets into Israel on Sunday, including two Fajr-5 missiles at Tel Aviv. Both were intercepted.
In Ashdod, six Grad rockets were intercepted, while one smashed into a residential building, wounding two residents.
Five civilians traveling in a vehicle in Ofakim were injured by shrapnel from a rocket.
The Iron Dome intercepted 38 rockets heading for built-up areas on Sunday. The army has completed preparations for a ground offensive, as it masses growing forces at the border with Gaza.
See also Rockets Fired from Gaza Soccer Stadium, IDF Responds - Yoav Zitun
Israel Air Force aircraft bombed the Gaza Strip's soccer stadium on Sunday night, after long-range rockets were fired from the site towards Israel. The facility also served as a weapons cache. The IDF also gained control over Gaza's radio station, using it to warn Gaza residents to distance themselves from terror hubs.
- Can Terrorists Be Deterred? - Moshe Arens
Where did this seemingly inexhaustible number of rockets in the hands of the terrorists in Gaza come from? They were stockpiled while Israelis thought Operation Cast Lead in 2009 had deterred the launching of rockets. Many people lulled themselves into believing that deterrence works on terrorists. Now it is said that deterrence needs to be refreshed. Will the current operation do that? Can terrorists be deterred?
The fact that a conflagration is followed by a period of relative quiet may not mean that the terrorists, remembering the blows they received last time, are being deterred, but rather that they are using the time to resupply their armory with more and longer-range rockets in preparation for the next round. That's what happened in Gaza, and that's what's happening with Hizbullah in Lebanon. Nation-states can be deterred when faced by overwhelming force, but it is damn difficult to deter terrorists.
If the terrorists cannot be deterred, and the population in the southern half of Israel is not to face recurrent rocket attacks, each time increasing in intensity, the terrorists have to be disarmed, their rockets destroyed and rocket supply lines blocked. That has to be the ultimate aim of a military operation or diplomatic initiative.
Preventing the recurrence of rocket attacks on Israel in the coming months requires the cooperation of the Egyptian government. It must reestablish control over Sinai and block all attempts to supply weapons to Hamas and its affiliates in Gaza from Sinai.
If at all possible, only American diplomacy can bring this about.
The writer served as Israel's minister of defense three times, as minister of foreign affairs, and as Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
See also The Rocket Threat from Gaza - Moshe Arens (Ha'aretz-20 March 2012)
- What an Egypt-Brokered Cease-Fire Should Look Like - Ehud Yaari
Israel does not seek to topple the Hamas regime in Gaza. As statements from senior Israeli officials indicate, the objective is a long-term cease-fire along the Israel-Gaza border.
Previous conflicts between Israel and Hamas, including the 2008-9 war, have been resolved with Egyptian facilitation. But these calm periods have historically not lasted very long. Hamas has increasingly allowed other heavily armed terrorist groups in Gaza, such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, to launch attacks on Israel. And in the past few months, despite Egyptian warnings, Hamas has targeted Israeli soldiers and military outposts along the border, too.
This time, ending the conflict and restoring stability will require a different type of arrangement. The cease-fire agreement should involve other parties and contain additional checks on violence. It will have the best chance of lasting if it is primarily based on an Israeli-Egyptian agreement, supported by the U.S. and, possibly, by the EU.
Since most of the weapons in Gaza were trafficked through Egyptian territory, Cairo should agree to help prevent the reconstruction of Hamas' arsenal. Egypt and Israel also need to ensure that when the cease-fire takes hold in Gaza, terror operations do not simply pick up and move south to Sinai.
The writer is an International Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a Middle East commentator for Israel Channel 2 news.
- Hamas Decided to Create a Crisis - Elliott Abrams
In the last two weeks the number of rockets and mortars fired from Gaza into Israel grew into the hundreds, something no Israeli government could tolerate for long. This kind of terrorism from Gaza is what produced Operation Cast Lead in December 2008, when Israeli air and ground forces attacked Hamas and other terrorist groups there.
It remains unclear why Hamas decided to produce a crisis now, but it is clearly a Hamas decision and not merely the action of uncoordinated jihadist groups. Hamas could have done more to repress the other groups and prevent them from firing into Israel; instead it joined the fray and officially claimed credit for some of the attacks. The actions of the leaders of Hamas remind us that they are terrorists, enthralled by blood, death, and martyrdom.
The Israeli tactic is to make the Hamas leadership pay directly for these terror attacks on Israel rather than to make the population of Gaza pay. Israeli targeting was extremely careful, and by Friday afternoon there had been several hundred strikes by the Israeli Air Force but fewer than two dozen Palestinian deaths - and very few accidental hits at civilians that Hamas could turn to propaganda advantage. The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
America, Israel, Gaza, the World - Walter Russell Mead (American Interest)
- For some, Zionism itself is an illegitimate idea and a state that has no right to exist has no right to defend itself. Anything it does to defend itself is a crime. This is how Hamas and many others think and it is why people in this camp are able to work themselves up into such a froth of indignation and rage when Israel responds to their fire.
- Certainly if a terrorist organization were to set up missile factories across the frontier in Canada and Mexico and start attacking targets in the U.S., the American people would demand that their President use all necessary force without stint or limit until the resistance had been completely, utterly and pitilessly crushed. Americans might feel sorrow at the loss of innocent children and non-combatants killed when overwhelming American power was used to take the terrorists out, but they would feel no moral guilt. The guilt would be on the shoulders of those who started the whole thing by launching the missiles.
- Thus when television cameras show the bodies of children killed in an Israeli air raid, Jacksonian Americans are sorry about the loss of life, but it inspires them to hate and loathe Hamas more, rather than to be mad at Israel. They blame the irresponsible dolts who started the war for all the consequences of the war and they admire Israel's strength and its resolve for dealing with the appalling blood lust of the unhinged loons who start a war they can't win, and then cower behind the corpses of the children their foolishness has killed.
- The whole situation strengthens the widespread American belief that Palestinian hate rather than Israeli intransigence is the fundamental reason for the Middle East impasse, and the television pictures that drive much of the world away from Israel often have the effect of strengthening the bonds between Americans and the Jewish state.
- Far from seeing Israel's use of overwhelming force against limited provocation as harsh or immoral, many Americans see it as courageous and wise. It strengthens the sense that in a wacky world where a lot of foreigners are hard to understand, the Israelis are honest, competent and reliable friends - good people to have on your side in a tight spot.
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