White House Adviser: Cease-Fire Should Include Demilitarization of Gaza - Eyder Peralta (NPR)
Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said in an interview that any cease-fire agreement between Israel and Palestinians must include the demilitarization of Gaza.
"There has to be some way forward that does not involve Hamas having the ability to continue to rain down rockets on Israeli civilians," he said.
"One of the results, one would hope, of a cease-fire would be some form of demilitarization."
See also U.S. Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire (AP)
Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) wrote to President Obama Wednesday:
"The threats posed by Hamas rockets and tunnels whose only purpose is to kill and kidnap Israelis are intolerable, and Israel must be allowed to take any actions necessary to remove those threats."
"Any effort to broker a cease-fire agreement that does not eliminate those threats cannot be sustained in the long run and will leave Israel vulnerable to future attacks."
The Gaza Tunnel Threat - Anshel Pfeffer (Ha'aretz)
Hamas has made at least five attacks through tunnels in recent days. The proximity of Israeli kibbutzim close to the border makes the tunnels a potent threat.
Destroying those tunnels is a dangerous job, as seen in the deaths of three IDF paratroopers who were blown up by a Hamas booby trap while entering a tunnel entrance on Wednesday morning.
IDF officers have been astonished by the extent of Hamas' tunneling operation. This intelligence "blind spot" is being explained by the fact that Hamas didn't use its own members to do the digging but families from Rafah in southern Gaza which made their living digging smuggling tunnels to Egypt.
Gaza Reporters' Tweets: Hamas Using Human Shields - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
Journalists have reported seeing rockets fired from civilian areas in Gaza in recent days.
Peter Stefanovic of Australia's Channel Nine News tweeted: "Hamas rockets just launched over our hotel from a site about two hundred meters away. So a missile launch site is basically next door."
Financial Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief John Reed reported seeing "two rockets fired toward Israel from near al-Shifa hospital," the main medical facility in Gaza City.
Wall Street Journal correspondent Nick Casey tweeted a photo of a Hamas official using Shifa hospital for media interviews.
Harry Fear, a journalist from the UK reporting from Gaza for RT (formerly Russia Today) television, tweeted: "Early morning Gaza rockets were fired into Israel. A well-known site in W. Gaza City, near my hotel, was among the origins."
Video: Numerous Secondary Explosions Show How Hamas Turned Hospital into Rocket Site (Israel Defense Forces)
Hamas turned Wafa Hospital into a command center and a rocket-launching site. Hamas has fired at Israel and at IDF forces from the hospital.
As a result, the IDF repeatedly conveyed warnings to the hospital staff and urged civilians to leave the area, before targeting specific sites and terrorists within the hospital grounds.
Numerous secondary explosions can be seen, confirming the storage of munitions at the site.
See also Video: Terrorists Fire Rockets from Gaza Hospital - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
Video: Hamas Fires Mortars at Israel from Hidden Bunker - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
See also Video: IDF Calls Off Airstrike After Target Enters Ambulance (Israel Defense Forces)
See also Video: Why Israel Started a Ground Operation in Gaza to Stop Hamas (Israel Defense Forces)
Protestors Attack Israeli Soccer Players in Austria (Daily Mail-UK)
Maccabi Haifa's pre-season game against Lille in Austria was stopped when pro-Palestinian protesters of reportedly Turkish origin stormed the pitch and headed for the Maccabi players.
Al-Jazeera: Syria's Army Can Learn a Lot about Morality from IDF (Jerusalem Post)
The Syrian army can learn from the Israeli army about morality in urban warfare and safeguarding the lives of civilians, Faisal al-Qassem, a moderator on a popular Al-Jazeera news show, has said.
"Why don't they learn from the Israeli army, which tries, through great efforts, to avoid shelling areas populated by civilians in Lebanon and Palestine?"
"The Israeli army, if it wanted to break up a demonstration, would have used water cannons or rubber bullets, not rockets or explosive barrels as happens in Aleppo today."
Use of Medical Facilities and Ambulances for Military-Terrorist Purposes by Hamas and Other Terrorist Organizations in Gaza (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
Hamas and other terrorist organizations have frequently made use of hospitals and other medical facilities for military purposes.
Using a medical facility provides their operatives with a kind of immunity. For the same reason they use ambulances to move terrorist operatives and weapons in combat zones.
Hospital in Gaza City has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders.
Experts Discuss Extension of Iran Talks (Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs - Harvard Kennedy School)
Nine foreign policy experts - Nicholas Burns, Chuck Freilich, Orde Kittrie, Martin Malin, Gary Samore, Michael Singh, Ariane Tabatabai, Will Tobey, and Mark Wallace - write on what they believe the extension of P5+1 talks will mean for the future of nuclear negotiations with Iran.
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- FAA Lifts Ban on U.S. Airline Flights to Israel
A ban on U.S. airline flights to Israel because of the fighting in Gaza was lifted late Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The FAA made the decision to end the ban after reviewing measures the Israeli government was taking to mitigate risks to civilian aircraft.
- UN Human Rights Council Votes to Probe War Crimes in Gaza - Nick Cumming-Bruce
The UN Human Rights Council voted to establish an inquiry into human rights violations in Gaza and the West Bank at a special session on Wednesday. 29 members voted for the resolution, 17 abstained, and only the U.S. voted against. American Ambassador Keith M. Harper said the inquiry created by the council was a "biased and political instrument." (New York Times)
See also Text: Human Rights Council Establishes Independent, International Commission of Inquiry (Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights)
See also Israel: Human Rights Council Decision "Should Be Rejected by Decent People Everywhere"
The decision by the UNHRC is a travesty and should be rejected by decent people everywhere.
Rather than investigate Hamas, which is committing a double war crime by firing rockets at Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians, the UNHRC calls for an investigation of Israel, which has gone to unprecedented lengths to keep Palestinian civilians out of harm's way.
The UNHRC should launch an investigation into Hamas' decision to turn hospitals into military command centers, use schools as weapons depots and place missile batteries next to playgrounds, private homes and mosques. Like the investigation that led to the infamous Goldstone report, this investigation by a kangaroo court is a foregone conclusion.
(Prime Minister's Office)
See also At UN, Canada Blames Hamas for Gaza Casualties - Les Whittington
Canada's representative to the UN, Guillermo Rishchynski, told the Security Council on Tuesday: "The indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel are terrorist acts, for which there can be no justification." Hamas has "sought to deliberately put civilians, from both sides, in mortal danger." "The Israel Defense Forces have continued to demonstrate a commitment to minimize civilian casualties in response to the relentless rocket attacks," he added.
Canada called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to disarm Hamas, eliminate militias and private armies in Gaza, and keep smugglers from making military equipment available to militants there.
- Judge Finds North Korea, Iran Liable for Missile Damages - Michael Doyle
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth on Wednesday found North Korea and Iran liable for damages caused by a series of missile attacks on Israel in 2006 because they "provided material support and assistance to the Hizbullah terrorists who fired the rockets at Israel."
"North Korea provided Hizbullah with advanced weapons, expert advice and construction assistance in hiding these weapons in underground bunkers, and training in utilizing these weapons and bunkers to cause terrorist rocket attacks on Israel's civilian population and Iran financed North Korea's assistance and helped transport weapons to Hizbullah." (McClatchy)
See also Text of the Court Decision (U.S. District Court-Washington)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- 200 Gazan Terrorists Killed, 150 Taken Prisoner
More than 200 Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists have been killed by the IDF since the start of the ground offensive last Thursday.
The IDF took some 150 Hamas terrorists prisoner after they surrendered Wednesday in the southern Gaza cities of Khan Yunis and Rafah. See photos of captured Hamas prisoners.
See also IDF Strikes Senior Islamic Jihad Commanders - Yaakov Lappin
In recent days, the Israel Security Agency and the IDF targeted Islamic Jihad field commanders who stood behind many attacks on the army and rocket fire on Israeli civilians.
They include Akram Salah Muhammad Sha'ar, a senior Islamic Jihad member in the Khan Yunis area; and battalion commanders Muhammad Awad Ali Ziada, from Jabalia; Sa'aban Khaled Sa'aban Dahduah, from Gaza City; and Said Muhammad Nasser Abu Muamar, of Rafah.
See also Tanks Operating in Gaza Protected by Trophy Anti-Missile System - Yaakov Lappin
Israeli Merkava 4 tanks operating inside Gaza are protected by the Trophy anti-missile system, and as a result are able to move deep inside enemy territory and destroy targets from a distance, while dealing with the threat of anti-tank missiles.
See also Six Palestinian Rockets Intercepted over Central Israel Thursday - Yoav Zitun and Gilad Morag (Ynet News)
- Hamas Leader Rejects Cease-Fire, Will Never Agree to Disarm - Roi Kais
Hamas political chief Khaled Mashal said Wednesday in Qatar: "We reject the cycle of cease-fire and negotiations. We rejected it today and we will reject it in the future." Mashal stressed that Hamas will never agree to demilitarization. "No one can disarm the resistance," he said. (Ynet News)
See also Kerry Leaves Israel without Breakthrough in Gaza Cease-Fire Talks - Barak Ravid
Senior officials in Secretary of State John Kerry's entourage said after his meetings in Israel on Wednesday that a cease-fire is not around the corner.
See also New Push to Lure Hamas into Truce - Jay Solomon, Nicholas Casey and Tamer El-Ghobashy
The Obama administration, Israel and other Middle East allies are refashioning an Egyptian cease-fire proposal to assure Hamas that Gaza's economic interests would be addressed if the Islamist group stops rocket attacks, senior U.S. and Arab officials said. Diplomats outlined a two-stage plan under which Israel and Hamas would agree to stop military operations, and the U.S. and the international community would then move quickly to begin talks on a longer-term recovery program for Gaza.
Secretary of State John Kerry outlined the proposal during discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank on Wednesday.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Israel Singles Out Qatar as Key Hamas Terror Sponsor - Elhanan Miller
President Shimon Peres accused Qatar on Wednesday of becoming "the world's largest funder of terror" due to its financial support for Hamas in Gaza.
"Qatar does not have the right to send money for rockets and tunnels which are fired at innocent civilians," he told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Jerusalem. "Their funding of terror must stop."
Former national security adviser Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror said the emirate's funding for Hamas' terror apparatus, including tunnel diggers and rocket launchers, has continued unabated. (Times of Israel)
- 30,000 Gather to Honor IDF Soldier from L.A., Killed in Gaza - Bradley Burston
Sgt. Max Steinberg, 24, was from Los Angeles' West San Fernando Valley.
After he first visited Israel on a Birthright trip in 2012, he decided to move here and join the IDF. A member of the Golani infantry brigade, he was killed last Saturday night in Gaza.
Only a handful of the some 30,000 mourners had even heard of Max Steinberg prior to his death. During the day preceding the funeral, calls were made on Facebook to attend Steinberg's funeral. "As I look around right now, I am overwhelmed by the impact you had on so many lives," Max's sister Paige said. "It is unbelievable to see how many people are here in your honor."
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said,
"A son of the United States, a soldier of Israel, he represented the best of both of our countries." (Ha'aretz)
- Israeli Pilots Describe Their Determination to Avoid Civilian Casualties in Gaza - Nechama Douek
Lt. Col. Ram Shmueli, 54, has been a fighter pilot in the Israel Air Force for 36 years. He says,
"The moment our country is under attack, there are no dilemmas. If our children are reduced to hiding in bomb shelters, there is no reason we should not be using all methods at our disposal to remove the threat and eliminate those responsible. Rockets into our cities are an insufferable situation, one that no other country in the world would permit."
"I have friends in foreign air forces who think that the efforts we take to avoid civilian casualties are outrageous, bordering on irresponsible for a military tasked, first and foremost, with defending its own citizens. Let's be clear: calling and sending text messages to civilians warning them to evacuate a structure, and instructing them on exactly where to go for safety, demands tremendous resources."
"You are also providing the enemy with actionable intelligence. The 'knock on the roof' policy is not just a warning to civilians. It is also a statement to the enemy saying 'This is what we plan to do in five minutes, and this is exactly where we plan to do it.' This is obviously a questionable military tactic. It allows Hamas forces to remove rocket launchers from targeted structures, prepare ambushes for IDF forces, or...send civilians into these structures, forcing us to abort important missions, or incur terrible consequences." (Ynet News)
- The U.S. Should Push for the Disarming of Hamas in Gaza-Israel Cease-Fire - Editorial
As of Wednesday, the Israeli army had uncovered 28 tunnels in Gaza, and nearly half extended into Israel. The newly discovered structures have only one conceivable purpose: to launch attacks inside Israel. Three times in recent days, Hamas fighters emerged from the tunnels in the vicinity of Israeli civilian communities, which they clearly aimed to attack.
The depravity of Hamas' strategy seems lost on much of the outside world, which - following the terrorists' script - blames Israel for the civilian casualties it inflicts while attempting to destroy the tunnels.
While Secretary of State John Kerry, the Egyptian government and other would-be brokers are right to seek a cease-fire, they should reject Hamas' agenda. Instead, any political accord should link opening of the borders and other economic concessions to the return to Gaza of the security forces of the Palestinian Authority and the disarmament of Hamas.
- Israel Is in the Right - Ari Shavit
Hamas are Palestinian neo-Nazis. They've turned the first strip of Palestinian land that was granted freedom into a bastion of totalitarianism. They've incessantly attacked Israel for roughly a decade. They staunchly rejected every Israeli attempt to prevent the current escalation. They stubbornly fired thousands of rockets at civilians.
The murderous terrorist organization that took over Gaza in 2007, while executing many of its own people, is an organization of war criminals. By no means can they be allowed to win this difficult conflict, and by no means can we show any empathy for the evil they represent.
- Gaza: How Hamas Tunnel Network Grew - Dr. Eado Hecht
Hamas built a maze of underground concrete bunkers connected with tunnels and multiple entrances and exits underneath the residential areas of Gaza.
These underground complexes are similar in concept to the Viet Cong tunnels dug beneath the jungles of South Vietnam, though the quality of finishing is better, with concrete walls and roofs, electricity and other required amenities for lengthy sojourn.
After the failure of Hamas' rocket forces to inflict significant damage on Israeli towns in November 2012, they decided to build a large offensive-tunnel capability that would enable them to infiltrate assault teams into Israeli villages within a few kilometers of the border or place large bombs underneath these villages.
To discover the tunnels, the Israelis must either have excellent intelligence from within Gaza or they must go in and search for them house by house.
Destroying a tunnel is a lengthy and complex operation. The entire length of the tunnel and its branches must be located, mapped and then completely destroyed.
The writer is a lecturer in military doctrine at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.
- "Proportionality" Does Not Mean a Proportionate Number Has to Die - Gabriel Sassoon
Watching the debate in the UK over Gaza is like peering into a parallel universe. This is a nation which sent its troops thousands of miles away to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, neither of which were firing a single rocket at Britain. Over 100,000 Iraqi civilians were killed, while no civilians in Britain were killed in the fighting, and "only" 179 British soldiers were killed. Over 20,000 Afghan civilians were killed, while no British civilians were killed, and "only" 453 British soldiers were killed.
What does the "low" British casualty rate tell us? Nothing at all. "Proportionality" does not mean that a "proportionate" number from each side has to die for a war to be fought morally and legally. Does anybody believe that, because of the low British body count, Britain indiscriminately murdered civilians and invaded these countries to commit war crimes?
- Hamas Has Built a Monster of Death and Destruction Aimed at Israel - Aharon Lapidot
I was watching foreign correspondents reporting from Gaza. With their bullet-proof vests, they stand in the middle of the street against a background of the ruins left as a result of IDF strikes, as women, children, and wounded scurry around them. None of them notice that a key component of the scene is missing.
If, God forbid, any rocket were to fall in a populated area in Israel, the first ones to swamp the scene would be the uniformed rescue forces: police officers, soldiers, firefighters, paramedics. No one in uniform is seen in any of the reports from Gaza. Where are the Hamas soldiers and police in Gaza when an Israeli bomb falls? They are hiding underground in the immense tunnel system constructed beneath the city, in Underground Gaza.
In the clearest possible manner we have been faced with a dizzying reality. Hamas has built a monster of death and destruction aimed at us. The billions of dollars in humanitarian aid, tens of thousands of tons of concrete and construction materials, the electricity and water that Israel has supplied to Gaza for years - have been used to build these tunnels, which are intended to kill as many Israelis as possible.
- Muslim Double Standards Abound - Tarek Fatah
Muslims around the world have taken to the streets and social media to protest Israel's Operation Protective Edge. Undoubtedly the death of 200 Arabs, many of them civilian women and children, is tragic and worthy of condemnation. However, just next door to Israel almost 200,000 Arabs have been killed by fellow Arabs in Syria, but that tragedy has triggered no public demonstrations of anger in Islamic capitals.
Few are aware of Pakistan's operation underway against the Taliban inside that country, which has killed over 400 and made over 900,000 Pashtun Pakistanis homeless and destitute in their own country.
- Jihadi Surge Means Isolation for Hamas - John R. Bradley
In the Arab world, an air of indifference reins regarding Israel's military offensive in Gaza. The dramatic rise of the jihadi outfit the Islamic State is one of the key reasons. Aside from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are the two countries that matter geopolitically, and both are threatened by jihadi-inspired unrest on the back of the successes of the Islamic State - an outfit that Hamas has reportedly been forging links with.
The Islamist State's goal is not only the destruction of Israel, but also the overthrow of the Saudi and Jordanian monarchies. Though they loathe to acknowledge the fact publicly, Saudi Arabia and Jordan would quietly welcome the eradication of Salafist-aligned Hamas' military capabilities. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
Palestinians: The Arabs Betrayed Us - Again - Khaled Abu Toameh
Arab indifference and silence toward the current war between Israel and Hamas has once again reminded Palestinians of the "betrayal" by their Arab brethren. True, there have been some marches in a number of Arab countries in solidarity with the Palestinians, but with a small number of participants. The Arab governments moved quickly to suppress any show of support for Palestinians. (Gatestone Institute)
- The Goldstone Effect - Gerald M. Steinberg
From the first day of Israel's response to renewed and deadly rocket attacks from Gaza, the network of highly politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) went into high gear, issuing numerous condemnations, primarily directed at Israel. And once again, their reports and statements are quoted by political leaders and journalists without any independent examination, reinforcing existing biases and false allegations, and fueling hate and violence.
The NGO network that claims to promote moral agendas has largely ignored Palestinian terror, and the massive tunnels and thousands of rockets acquired by Hamas. Every missile located among civilians and every attack against Israeli cities constitutes a war crime, but these are not part of the NGO network's definition of human rights. The writer is professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor.
(Times of Israel)
The Latest Hamas-Israel Confrontation - Some Pertinent Legal Points - Alan Baker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- The ideological foundation of Hamas as set out in its national charter, and its actions of indiscriminate terror directed against Israeli citizens, clearly define its character as a terrorist entity. Hamas has been formally outlawed in several major states.
- Hamas' indiscriminate targeting of Israel's civilian population centers, and the deliberate and cynical use of its own civilians, mosques, hospitals and schools as human shields, are violations of international humanitarian law. for which Hamas' leaders and commanders are accountable and prosecutable.
- International law recognizes Israel's right to defend itself, whether by the conventional international right of self-defense as set out in the UN Charter or by the international customary right to self-defense.
- Accusations that Israel is collectively punishing the Palestinian population of Gaza have no basis. Israel's military actions are solely directed to one strategic and tactical purpose, not to punish the population, but to halt the indiscriminate rocket fire and terror infiltration into Israel's sovereign territory.
- The allegation that Israel uses disproportionate force is a misreading of the international rules of proportionality in armed conflict, which are intended to regulate the extent of force needed in relation to the military challenge anticipated.
Amb. Alan Baker served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as Israel's ambassador to Canada.
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