Israel Learning of Tunnels It Did Not Know About - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)
Israeli casualties have caused great elation among Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The Israeli intelligence community believes this is fueling their intransigence over cease-fire negotiations.
Uncovering the terrorist tunnel network is progressing more rapidly than expected, and intelligence gathered during the fighting in Gaza has led Israel to tunnels it did not know about.
The IDF is learning things it did not know before about the structure of the tunnel system and the way the terrorists intended - and still intend - to operate them.
Hamas is indeed showing increased resistance, but almost every encounter between combatants on both sides ends in heavy losses to the terrorists.
Losses on Israel's side cause great grief among the Israeli public, which sees every soldier in Gaza as a member of the family. But unlike during the Second Lebanon War, there is also public perception that this sacrifice is not in vain and that the war is justified.
Hamas' Attack Tunnels: Initial Implications - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, delivered a revealing speech on March 23, 2014, in which he stressed the strategic importance of the Hamas attack tunnels, which, he argued, have changed the balance of power with Israel.
Tunnel warfare provides armies facing a technologically superior adversary with an effective means for countering its air superiority. The tunnels from Gaza penetrate deep into Israeli territory.
Hamas has accumulated a great deal of experience in using the tunnels for operational purposes. Since 2000, hundreds of tunnels have been dug along Gaza's border with Egypt, providing a lifeline for Hamas' military buildup.
Based on Hizbullah's experience in the Second Lebanon War, and with the assistance and guidance of Iran, Hamas has also made use of the tunnels to build an underground network of missile launchers.
The attack tunnels create a new equation in the power balance between Israel and Hamas. They give Hamas an ability to infiltrate Israel and carry out strategic attacks involving mass killing, along with an ability to launch missiles from locations concealed within civilian population centers.
See also Getting from Gaza to Israel, by Underground Tunnels (New York Times)
Tunnels from Gaza to Israel have had a powerful hold on the Israeli psyche since 2006 when Hamas militants used one to capture an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was held for five years before being released in a prisoner exchange.
There have been several deadly clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants emerging from tunnels on the Israeli side of the border.
If Israel Is Forced to End Gaza Ground Operation Prematurely, Arabs May Perceive Hamas as Winner - Ely Karmon (Jerusalem Post)
Hamas is wracked by internal divisions between military and political cadres, extremist and pragmatic politicians, and Gaza-based and external leaderships.
Hamas' isolation in the regional context is greater than ever. Saudi Arabia and most of the Gulf countries support Egypt's fight against the Muslim Brotherhood and by extension against Hamas.
Qatar, one of the main providers of funds to Hamas, is much more cautious since the advent of the young Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and in light of the intense pressure by its powerful Gulf neighbors to cut off support for Brotherhood and jihadist forces in the region.
If Israel is forced to end its ground operation prematurely, part of Palestinian and Arab public opinion may perceive Hamas as the winner, due to its successes in massive rocket firing towards most of Israel without suffering heavy casualties among its military-terrorist ranks or its political leaders.
The writer is a senior research scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.
In Memoriam: The 29 IDF Soldiers Who Gave Their Lives to Protect Israel (Jerusalem Post)
Israel mourns the deaths of the 29 soldiers and officers killed in action in Operation Protective Edge. View photos and descriptions here.
How You Can Help: List of Volunteer Organizations Helping Israel's Citizens and Soldiers During War (#StrongerTogether)
Video: IDF Thwarts Terrorist Infiltration to Israel (Israel Defense Forces)
On July 21, Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel via a tunnel from Gaza. The terrorists were wearing IDF uniforms, including boots and vests, and had explosives strapped to their bodies. They were engaged and killed by IDF forces.
See also Video: Wounded Golani Brigade Commander Returns to Troops (Israel Defense Forces)
Col. Rasan Alian, commander of the Golani Brigade, was wounded while fighting Hamas in Gaza. On July 22, he returned to his troops after being in the hospital.
"We are strong and will do everything to finish our mission," he said.
See also Wounded Golani Commander Makes Good on Vow to Return to Gaza - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
Golani Brigade commander Col. Rasan Alian said Tuesday: "We had a hard battle the morning I was wounded. A rocket-propelled grenade flew several meters over my head. I have a few scratches."
"There were skirmishes in which we killed 10 and 15 terrorists."
Col. Alian is a member of the Druze community.
See also Video: Terrorists Use Ambulance for Transportation in Gaza (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF forces recently identified two Palestinian terrorists using an ambulance to travel within Gaza. Hamas uses ambulances on a daily basis to protect its fighters.
See also Map 1: Hamas Using Human Shields in Gaza (Israel Defense Forces)
Rocket launch sites concealed in a yard near several schools in Gaza City.
See also Map 2: Hamas Using Human Shields in Gaza (Israel Defense Forces)
Two Hamas military compounds with rocket caches and openings to terror tunnels, located adjacent to the Indonesian Hospital in Jabalya, Gaza.
See also Map 3 : Hamas Using Human Shields in Gaza (Israel Defense Forces)
An Islamic Jihad rocket cache and commend center hidden in a mosque in a civilian neighborhood in central Gaza.
Rocket Fired from Lebanon at Israel Tuesday Falls Short (Daily Star-Lebanon)
A rocket launched at Israel at 2 a.m. Tuesday from the outskirts of the south Lebanon village of Shebaa fell short of its target and landed inside Lebanon, security sources said.
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- After Rocket Strike in Tel Aviv Area, U.S., Europe Suspend Airline Flights to Israel - Mai Yaghi
A rocket crashed close to Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion international airport, prompting the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to ban flights to and from Israel for at least 24 hours. The European Aviation Safety Agency advised all carriers to avoid Tel Aviv "until further notice." It was the first time such measures had been taken since the 1990-1991 Gulf war.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to lift the ban. Kerry said the order would be reviewed within a day. "The flight restrictions are a mistake that hands Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately," said former New York mayor
Michael Bloomberg, who added that he was flying to Tel Aviv to show solidarity.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said a cease-fire "won't happen before we really finish the tunnels project." She said Hamas' "completely unacceptable" preconditions for a truce had "no chance of being accepted by anyone." (AFP)
See also U.S. Responds to Netanyahu's Request to Allow Flights to Israel - Karen Jacobs
A senior Obama administration official said: "We're not going to overrule the FAA, period....The FAA says this crosses our tripwires....We can look at this every 24 hours, but (when) a rocket lands a mile from [Ben-Gurion] airport, that kind of trips their wire." (Reuters)
See also British Airways Continues Flights to Israel (Press Association-UK)
See also Israel to Open International Airport near Eilat in Response to Flight Cancellations (Jerusalem Post)
- Kerry Arrives in Israel in Effort to Broker a Gaza Cease-Fire - Michael R. Gordon
Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise visit to Israel on Wednesday, as he pressed his effort to forge a cease-fire in Gaza.
His plane touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport just a day after the U.S. FAA suspended American civilian flights to Israel.
(New York Times)
See also Kerry Urges Hamas to End Conflict - Arshad Mohammed and Yasmine Saleh
Secretary of State John Kerry urged Hamas on Tuesday to pursue a negotiated end to its conflict with Israel. "Hamas has a fundamental choice to make and it is a choice that will have a profound impact for the people of Gaza," Kerry said in Cairo. "The Egyptians have provided a framework and a forum for them to be able to come to the table to have a serious discussion together with other factions of the Palestinians." Hamas has already rejected the Egyptian initiative.
A senior U.S. official said, "Right now our focus is on stopping the rocket fire so that we can begin a serious negotiation on the key issues."
See also Abbas-Led PLO Backs Hamas Truce Demands in Gaza - Nidal al-Mughrabi and Crispian Balmer
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) led by Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday endorsed demands by Hamas for halting Gaza hostilities with Israel, formally supporting the core conditions set by Hamas.
- Israelis Firmly Behind Gaza Operation as Military Losses Mount - Christa Case Bryant
Israel has lost 29 soldiers just four days into the Gaza ground operation, making this the deadliest fighting for the Israeli military since 2006.
But despite the casualties and nationally shared grief, Israel shows no sign of letting up in Gaza. Soldiers and civilians alike resist giving in to one's enemies, on the principle that doing so invites worse calamities down the line. For now at least, Israelis are not faltering in their support for an operation the government says was necessary after it exhausted all other options to crush Hamas' offensive capabilities.
"After the initial shock and trauma, you have a resilience," says Prof. Yehuda Ben Meir, director of the National Security and Public Opinion project at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
Col. Shaul Shay (res.), who served on the National Security Council during the 2009 Gaza war, says, "The government in this case has very high support of the public, because it's quite clear that the government did almost everything to prevent this conflict." (Christian Science Monitor)
See also Israel Mourns, But Undeterred by Soldier Deaths - Jean-Luc Renaudie
With the highest military casualty toll in eight years, Israel is in mourning, but has vowed to pursue its mission against Hamas militants. 13 were killed on Sunday alone. "13 Heroic Brothers" was the headline in Israel Hayom, reflecting the nationwide sense that the fallen were all "family." But so far, there has been no noticeable drop in support for the campaign.
See also 80 Percent of Israeli Jews Support Gaza Operation
A poll conducted by Israel Hayom on July 20 asked Israeli Jews if they supported or opposed Israel's ground incursion into Gaza. 80% supported it, 12% opposed it. 94% said they were satisfied with the Israel Defense Forces' performance thus far. 77% said Israel should not agree to a cease-fire with the situation as it currently is, with 16% supporting a cease-fire in current conditions. (Israel Hayom)
- Armed Palestinians Move Under Cover of Gaza Humanitarian Truce - Patrick Martin
Several of the hidden Hamas tunnels discovered by Israel in the past three days were found to lead back to Sejaiya in Gaza, which is 1-2 km. from the Israel frontier. Almost 10% of all rockets fired against Israel during this conflict are said to have come from there.
The presence of militant fighters in Sejaiya became clear Sunday afternoon when, under the cover of a humanitarian truce, several armed Palestinians scurried from the scene.
Some bore their weapons openly, slung over their shoulder, but at least two, disguised as women, were seen walking off with weapons partly concealed under their robes. Another had his weapon wrapped in a baby blanket and held on his chest as if it were an infant.
(Globe and Mail-Canada)
- Growing Civilian Death Toll in Gaza Prompts Charges of Human Shields - Michael Martinez
Tuesday's discovery of more rockets hidden in a vacant UN facility is the sort of evidence that Israel cites in accusations that Hamas fighters use civilians and their institutions as shields in the ongoing Gaza warfare. It was the second such discovery at a UN school in Gaza in a week.
Israel blames Hamas' aggression for putting Gazans in danger.
"They're putting missile batteries next to hospitals, next to mosques, next to schools," said Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the U.S. "They're the ones who are putting their civilians in harm's way. They use the strategy of human shields for a reason, because they think it works. They think that Israel will be (blamed) for these civilian casualties. Hamas should be [held] responsible for the use of human shields."
Israel also points to how they agreed to a recent Egypt-brokered cease-fire, but Hamas refused and continued firing rockets on Israeli cities and civilians, prompting the Israeli ground offensive into Gaza last week.
See also Dermer: IDF Deserves Nobel Peace Prize for "Unimaginable Restraint" - Raphael Ahren
The Israeli army should be given the Nobel Peace Prize for its "unimaginable restraint" in Gaza, Israel's ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer told the Christians United for Israel Summit in Washington on Tuesday.
During World War II, the British army responded to German attacks with the "carpet bombing of German cities," Dermer said.
"I will not accept, and no one should accept, criticism of Israel for acting with restraint that has not been shown and would not be shown by any nation on earth. I especially will not tolerate criticism of my country at a time when Israeli soldiers are dying so that innocent Palestinians can live." (Times of Israel)
- EU: "Terrorist Groups in Gaza Must Disarm" - Yossi Lempkowicz
The EU on Tuesday strongly condemned "the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas and militant groups in the Gaza Strip, directly harming civilians. These are criminal and unjustifiable acts." The EU said "all terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm," and strongly condemned "calls on the civilian population of Gaza to provide themselves as human shields."
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said all ministers recognized "Israel's legitimate right to defend itself against any attacks," but that the Israeli military operation "must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law." (European Jewish Press)
- Iran Is Pushing Limits on Nuclear Deal, Former Obama Advisor Warns - Paul Richter
Robert Einhorn, who was a special advisor on arms control at the State Department until May 2013, says the Iranians have been quietly extending what they claim they are entitled to on enrichment - what Einhorn calls "rights creep."
Last year, the Obama administration publicly acknowledged for the first time that it could support Iran having a domestic enrichment program. But now Iran contends that it is entitled to produce enough enriched uranium to supply a huge nuclear power generation program by 2021.
Instead of cutting back its capacity to a fraction of what it is today, as the West is now demanding, it wants to keep operating all the machines that are now producing; pursue unlimited research and development; limit the duration of the deal to eight years or less; and be free to expand to industrial scale once the deal lapses.
If Iran sticks to these demands when talks resume, "it will ensure continued deadlock," Einhorn warned.
(Los Angeles Times)
- Gloves Come Off between Syrian Regime, Islamic State - Edward Dark
The Islamic State (IS) now controls more than a third of Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The group's stunning victories in Iraq have been repeated in Syria. IS now controls nearly all of the oil-rich eastern province of Deir ez-Zor.
After ousting its rival, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, from the provincial capital, IS is now face to face with regime forces.
The undeclared truce between the regime and IS seems to have run its course. The devastating assault by IS on the al-Shaer gas field in Homs on July 16 left up to 300 regime troops and civilian employees dead. Meanwhile, the Syrian regime has launched airstrikes on IS headquarters and training camps, an indication that the gloves are now definitely off. (Al-Monitor)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel Continues Tuesday, Damage Reported - Avi Cohen and Lilach Shoval
Palestinians in Gaza continued to fire rockets at Israel on Tuesday.
The Iron Dome defense system intercepted a volley of rockets fired at the Tel Aviv area on Tuesday. The remnants of a rocket hit a building in the Tel Aviv suburb of Yehud, causing significant damage. There were also reports of rocket remnants falling in north Tel Aviv. Seven rockets were fired at Beersheba at 6 a.m.; six rockets were intercepted by Iron Dome.
Simultaneously, seven rockets were fired at Ashdod and Ashkelon. One of the rockets landed in a schoolyard in Ashdod, causing damage.
One rocket hit a home in Sderot. The family was in the safe room and was unharmed, but the home sustained significant damage. One of the rockets fired at Ashdod hit a residential building. The family was in a safe room and was unharmed. The remnants of a rocket fired at Rishon Lezion hit the 21st floor of a building.
See also Palestinians Fire Rocket Barrage at Central Israel on Tuesday Night (Ynet News)
See also Gaza Rocket Hits Bedouin City of Rahat in Israel
A Palestinian rocket from Gaza fell near a home in the predominantly Bedouin city of Rahat Tuesday evening, causing damage but no injuries.
- IDF Soldiers Engage Hamas in Gaza - Yoav Zitun
Israeli aircraft and tanks launched attacks on dozens of terrorist targets in Gaza Tuesday night as soldiers exchanged fire with militants in the Sejaiya neighborhood of Gaza City.
On Tuesday morning, the Israel Air Force conducted a massive, hour-long airstrike in Sejaiya, striking 100 buildings only 250 meters away from IDF ground forces.
"The heavy bombardment was meant to allow ground troops to find the tunnels better, with less threats to their safety," a senior Air Force official said.
- UK Ambassador to Israel Blames Hamas for Gaza War - Tovah Lazaroff
The United Kingdom blames Hamas for the IDF's military operation against Gaza and supports Israel's right to defend itself, its ambassador Matthew Gould said Tuesday.
"This was a conflict triggered by Hamas raining down on Israel hundreds and hundreds of rockets fired indiscriminately at Israeli towns and cities. Israel has a right and indeed an obligation to defend its citizens."
British Prime Minister David Cameron delivered the same message to his parliament on Monday, Gould said. "I have gotten rather used to hearing explosions and taking my family and my daughters into the bomb shelters," he added.
See also Foreign Ambassadors Forced to Run to Bomb Shelter During Visit to Ashdod - Jeremy Sharon (Jerusalem Post)
- The Road to a Cease-Fire Goes Through Cairo - Zvi Bar'el
On Monday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri announced that he saw no reason to make any changes to his country's cease-fire proposal. Over the previous few days, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's advance team had tried to discuss alterations in the proposal's wording, but was met with an aggressive Egyptian refusal. Cairo doesn't intend to give Hamas any discounts - at least not at this stage. For now, it seems Egyptian President Sissi isn't too upset over the prospect of Israel continuing its military operation in Gaza.
- Let Israel Decide: A Premature Gaza Cease-Fire Would Help Hamas - Editorial
The reality is that a cease-fire now would help Hamas. Now that it has moved on the ground, Israel will lose if it stops before it achieves its main military objectives. This means blowing up the entire network of tunnels that Hamas uses to infiltrate into Israel and to smuggle weapons into Gaza from Egypt. It also means destroying the stockpiles of rockets and storage sites.
The Israelis are best positioned to judge their progress, and the U.S. should publicly support its military response in a war it didn't start. This is what will bring the most rapid end to the violence.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Israel, the FAA, and International Isolation - Eugene Kontorovich
Israel's "growing isolation" was always a myth. Israel's trade with Europe has grown constantly in recent years, even as it developed new markets and ties in Asia. Now, however, international isolation has truly arrived - with the suspension of American and European flights to Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport.
Ben-Gurion remains an extremely safe airport. The FAA had many various measures short of a flight ban, like warnings, that it could have imposed. The FAA only warns airlines about flying to Afghanistan; it does not ban them. The FAA move comes the day after a general State Department warning about Israel - though far more people were killed in Chicago on Fourth of July weekend than in the Jewish state since the start of the Gaza campaign.
- Hamas Raises the Stakes - Alan Dershowitz
Whether the regulators and airlines that have stopped flights to and from Israel are right or wrong, this stoppage cannot possibly be tolerated by a democratic country that relies so heavily on tourism and international travel. It is of course a war crime to target an international civilian airport.
There will be even more innocent Palestinian deaths now, as Hamas has raised the stakes considerably for Israel. Every country in the world would do everything in its power to keep open the airports, which are the lifelines to its economic viability. Even more importantly, Israel will now be more reluctant than ever to give up military control over the West Bank, which is even closer to Ben-Gurion Airport than is Gaza.
The new reality caused by Hamas' shutting down of international air travel to and from Israel would plainly justify an Israeli demand that it maintain military control over the West Bank in any two-state deal. The Israeli public would never accept a deal that did not include a continued Israeli military presence in the West Bank. They have learned the tragic lesson of Gaza and they will not allow it to be repeated in the West Bank.
- Israel Can't Be Held Back by Hamas' Cynicism - Amos N. Guiora
While the loss of innocent life is always tragic, aggressive self-defense is the essence of operational counterterrorism. Israel has the right to protect its innocent civilians while making every reasonable effort not to harm innocent Palestinians deliberately endangered by Hamas. The Israel Defense Forces undertook a sophisticated early warning system; in many cases, Hamas encouraged the civilian population to act as human shields.
Israelis need not pay the price for Hamas' unconscionable decisions.
The writer, a professor at the College of Law, University of Utah, was a judge advocate general in the Israel Defense Forces.
(New York Times)
- Israel's Response Is Proportionate to Hamas' Threat - Ami Ayalon
We do not measure ethics and morality by counting dead bodies. The fact that many more Palestinians than Israelis have died does not mean that our cause, or this war, is not just. Many more Germans than Americans died in World War II. Does that mean that Hitler was right and America was wrong?
We give advance notifications to areas we are about to attack. Because of our intelligence capabilities, we give specific warnings to every house we intend to strike, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the attacks - allowing the militants to escape. How many other states have done this?
The conduct of Hamas is in blatant violation of international law and outside all norms of decency. It forces this war on us and uses its civilians as human shields. The writer is a former director of the Israel Security Agency.
(New York Times)
- Gaza, Israel, Iran and the Right of Self-Defense - Jose Maria Aznar
No other army like the IDF takes so many precautions as to avoid inflicting unnecessary casualties. It is also morally imperative to remember that Israel doesn't target innocent civilians, but combatants in plain clothes, unlike Hamas which fires indiscriminately against population centers.
Jerusalem is prompted to show restraint and moderation, but to my knowledge, no other nation has to cope with a neighboring terrorist land and just disregard the rockets flying overhead. Hamas leaders know that Israel fights with one hand tied behind its back: Israel cannot respond intensely because it would be accused of "disproportionality." Israel cannot inflict either much damage or many enemy casualties because it would be accused of crimes against humanity.
The more internationally isolated Iran perceives Israel is, the more daring Iran's actions will be. That's why, to bolster Israel's deterrence - and thus, our own security - we should support Jerusalem in its fight against the terrorists who run Gaza.
The writer was Prime Minister of Spain from 1996 to 2004. Today he heads the Foundation for Social Analysis and Study (FAES) in Madrid. (Friends of Israel Initiative)
- Hamas Has to Be Disarmed - Moshe Arens
The aims of Hamas are clear. It wants to destroy the State of Israel, and it poses an imminent threat to Israel's civilian population. Its rule in Gaza is a tragedy for the Palestinian population there. It is not a partner for negotiations. Israel's civilian population should not have to live under the threat of rocket attacks from Gaza. Hamas has to be disarmed. The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
- A Fight for Israel's Existence - Richard Cohen
Israel now fights not just to clear out the tunnels and rid Gaza of its rockets but for its very existence.
Hamas thinks it is winning the current war - which is why it rejected the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire proposal. Israel has an absolute right not merely to exist but to do so safe from rockets or incursions by tunneling terrorists.
Netanyahu to UN Secretary-General: "The International Community Must Hold Hamas Accountable for Starting and Prolonging This Conflict" (Prime Minister's Office)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday:
- "Israel is doing what any country would do if terrorists rained down rockets on its cities and towns - hundreds of rockets, day after day, week after week. In addition, as I've shown you, Hamas has dug terrorist tunnels under hospitals, mosques, schools, homes, to penetrate our territory, to kidnap and kill Israelis."
- "The international community must take a clear stand; it must hold Hamas accountable for consistently rejecting the cease-fire proposals and for starting and prolonging this conflict."
- "The international community must hold Hamas accountable for its increasing and indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians."
- "And the international community must hold Hamas accountable for using Palestinian civilians as human shields, deliberately putting them in harm's way."
- "The international community has pressed us to give cement to Gaza to build schools, hospitals, homes. And now we see what has happened to those deliveries of cement. They have been used to dig tunnels...that penetrate our territory so that Hamas can blow up our kindergartens and murder our children."
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