500 Armed Palestinian Fighters Have Been Killed in Gaza War - Yoav Limor (Israel Hayom)
IDF combat brigade commanders, who met on Saturday with Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, believe that at least 500 armed Palestinian fighters have been killed during Operation Protective Edge, including dozens who were trapped in tunnels as they were blown up.
86.5 Percent of Jewish Israelis Oppose Cease-Fire - Gil Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
86.5% of Jewish Israelis agree that Israel cannot accept a cease-fire because "Hamas continues firing missiles on Israel, not all the tunnels have been found, and Hamas has not surrendered,"
according to a poll conducted by Mina Tzemach and released Sunday.
The Underground War on Israel - Lee Smith (Weekly Standard)
Operation Protective Edge revealed a network of attack tunnels that end in Israel, where over the last two weeks Hamas commandos have attempted several terrorist operations.
"Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that we are not under siege, we are imposing a siege," says retired IDF officer Jonathan Halevi, now a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
"What he meant was that [Hamas] can use tunnels as a strategic weapon. If you multiply tunnels, you can use them to send hundreds of fighters into Israel and create havoc, totally under cover. According to Hamas, the tunnels have changed the balance of power."
See also The Enemy Below: The Gaza Tunnels - Gerard DeGroot (Washington Post)
If a target is well-fortified, like Israel, attackers have difficulty engaging it. By providing concealment up to the moment of engagement, tunnels are a labor-intensive but cheap alternative.
During World War I, British miners placed 22 mines under German trenches at Messines. Nineteen of these were detonated on June 7, 1917, producing a blast that killed 10,000 German soldiers.
In the Vietnam War, Viet Cong rebels would hide in vast tunnel complexes such as those at Cu Chi, which extended more than 200 miles and could house thousands of troops for long periods.
The writer is a professor of history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
Video: Hamas Fires Rockets from Abu Nur School in Gaza (Israel Defense Forces)
Hamas terrorists are seen shooting three rockets at Israel from within the Abu Nur school in Gaza. Hamas has consistently used schools and other public buildings as rocket launching sites.
See also Video: Hamas Fires Rockets from Civilian Areas in Gaza (Israel Defense Forces)
See also Photos and Videos: IDF Finds Weapons throughout Gaza (Israel Defense Forces)
Gazans Set International Red Cross Office on Fire in Khan Yunis - Batsheva Sobelman and Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times)
Palestinian frustration boiled over Sunday in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis, where the International Committee of the Red Cross said dozens of angry residents broke into the ICRC office and set it on fire.
They were apparently angry that the organization could not assist them, said Ran Goldstein, a spokesman for the ICRC in Israel.
Israel Offered Medical Aid to Gazans, But the PA Refused to Accept It - Itay Gal (Ynet News)
Israel's Health Ministry offered humanitarian aid worth millions of shekels to Gaza, but the Palestinian Authority has refused to accept it.
The aid includes medicine, and chemotherapy and medical equipment that is ready to be transferred to the PA.
Earlier this week, Israel's Magen David Adom said it offered to send blood donations to Gaza in order to help wounded Palestinians, but the PA refused to accept that offer as well.
Health Minister Yael German told Ynet: "We offered full medical treatment to Gaza citizens in any of our hospitals and will continue to offer that."
"The State of Israel has no desire to hurt the people of Gaza. We didn't go to war to kill, but rather to defend the people of Israel, and will continue offering full humanitarian aid to the Palestinians for as long as we can."
"Hamas Will Resume Tunneling as Soon as We Leave" - Mitch Ginsburg (Times of Israel)
Israel will not find all of the cross-border tunnels in Gaza during this operation,
Col. (res.) Atai Shelach, former commander of the combat engineering unit that tackles the tunnels, said Sunday.
"And the moment we leave, they will start digging again."
The Return of the Tank - Yossi Yehoshua (Ynet News)
Infantry brigade commanders in Gaza report that the death toll would have been much higher without the tanks that escorted their troops.
First-hand accounts by soldiers and commanders emphasize that they would not be able to achieve the objectives of the ground operation without the firepower, protection, and mobility of the tanks.
The tanks' new Trophy defense system has intercepted 10 anti-tank missiles, saving the lives of dozens of soldiers.
During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, 47 tanks were hit.
War "Statistics" and the New York Times - Gil Lavi (Gatestone Institute)
The "Daily Tally" in the New York Times, a casual-sounding infographic, presents a side-by-side count of casualties and missiles in Gaza and Israel.
Although ostensibly a clear representation of violence, it is seriously misleading.
Numbers and graphics are a compelling way to prove a point, and a lousy way of explaining what is really going on.
During World War II, it is estimated that 378,000 German civilians were killed in British air raids, compared to only 62,000 British civilians killed in German air raids.
The Daily Tally quantifies two elements related to the conflict: the number of deaths and the number of attacks. It does not reveal who started the latest round of battle or who the dead are.
The numbers simply attempt authoritatively to represent an amount of violence, devoid of all context.
When Anti-Semitism Strikes Science and Medicine - Dr. Afshine Emrani (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
On July 23, The Lancet published
an extremely biased analysis of the situation in Gaza by members of pro-Palestinian groups who are hostile to Israel.
Two Israeli physicians wrote a response in-between sirens in Tel Aviv and reserve duty in the south.
Last week, Israel set up a field hospital near the Gaza crossing to provide care for those caught in the crossfire. Hamas shot mortars at the field hospital on July 23.
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- Netanyahu: The Only Path to Sustainable Quiet Is the Egyptian Initiative - Candy Crowley
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview Sunday:
"Hamas doesn't even accept its own cease-fire. It's continuing to fire at us as we speak. Israel has accepted five cease-fires since this conflict began, five. We accepted them and we implemented them, including two humanitarian cease-fires in the last 24 hours which Hamas rejected, as they rejected all the other cease-fires."
"Hamas is simply continuing all its operations. And Israel will not let this terror organization decide when it's convenient for them and not convenient for them to attack our people, [and] when it's convenient for them to restock and reload."
"Israel is doing what any other country would do, and certainly the U.S. would do. If 80% of your population were under fire and you had 60 seconds or 90 seconds to get into bomb shelters, if terror tunnels were dug underneath your border in order to come in and explode your kindergartens and massacre your people and kidnap American citizens, you would take action. If America was attacked by land, by sea, by air, you would take action. So, Israel is taking action."
"Obviously, we hope we can get a sustainable quiet as soon as possible. I think the only path to do that is by adopting the Egyptian initiative....We need demilitarization. That's critical."
"People said to us, enable concrete and cement to go into Gaza so they can rebuild, build schools, build hospitals and so on. They took all that cement and built this vast tunnel network penetrating into Israel, so they can come out under our towns, our cities, our schools and explode our children."
"Remember, Hamas is firing at our cities, at our people, firing from these areas, from these homes, schools, mosques, hospitals....So, what would you do? Would you say, all right, we can't do anything because they are hiding behind civilians...and therefore [the U.S.] should absorb attacks on its own civilians, on its own forces?"
"You don't want to give the terrorists immunity because they use civilians as a human shield. That's a mistake. I don't think Americans or Europeans or Asians or anyone else would want to have this established as a principle." (CNN)
- White House: Obama and Netanyahu Discuss Gaza
President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke again Sunday by phone about the situation in Gaza. The President underscored the U.S.' strong condemnation of Hamas' rocket and tunnel attacks against Israel and reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself. The President also reiterated the U.S.' serious and growing concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, as well as the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Building on Secretary Kerry's efforts, the President made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement. The President reaffirmed the U.S.' support for Egypt's initiative, as well as regional and international coordination to end hostilities.
The President underscored the enduring importance of ensuring Israel's security, protecting civilians, alleviating Gaza's humanitarian crisis, and enacting a sustainable ceasefire that both allows Palestinians in Gaza to lead normal lives and addresses Gaza's long-term development and economic needs, while strengthening the Palestinian Authority. The President stressed the U.S. view that, ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza.
- UN Security Council Calls for Humanitarian Cease-Fire in Gaza Based on the Egyptian Initiative - Michelle Nichols
The UN Security Council agreed on a statement on Sunday expressing strong support for "an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire" in Gaza, where Israeli troops and Hamas have been fighting for nearly three weeks. The Security Council statement, drafted by Jordan, "calls on parties to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected cease-fire, based on the Egyptian initiative." (Reuters)
- Israel to UN: Stand with Us Against Terrorism
Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor says the sentiment behind the UN Security Council statement on Gaza did not reflect what Israel has to deal with. He called on members to "stand with Israel" in the fight "against terrorism." "Every single time the international community calls for a cease-fire, we cease and Hama fires."
"Make no mistake - Hamas is not working alone," Prosor said. "It is funded by Qatar and Iran. Every rocket flying out of Gaza could bear the imprint 'courtesy of Tehran.'" (Radio Australia)
See also Hamas Has Fired 2,500 Rockets at Israel
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said Hamas has fired 2,500 rockets at Israel, and reiterated that if Israel were not facing rocket attacks, it would not need to carry out its own strikes.
"We did everything we could to avoid this conflict, but Hamas refused to stop the attacks. Israel agreed to five cease-fire proposals; Hamas rejected or broke all of them, even the ones that they requested themselves." (VOA News)
See also Israel's UN Envoy Slams Security Council
Israel's ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said, "The presidential statement miraculously managed to not mention the Hamas or rockets or Israel's right to defend its citizens....We have grown tired of the vilification and demonization of the only democracy in the Middle East." (Times of Israel)
- Clinton: Any Enrichment by Iran Could Trigger Arms Race - Amy Harder
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday that any Iranian uranium enrichment could trigger a nuclear-arms race in the Middle East.
"I believe strongly that it's really important for there to be so little enrichment or no enrichment at least for a long period of time because I do think any enrichment will trigger an arms race in the Middle East," Clinton said on CNN in an interview with Fareed Zakaria.
(Wall Street Journal)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Investigation: IDF Fire Did Not Killed Palestinians at UNRWA School
The IDF has conducted a comprehensive inquiry
regarding the incident in which an UNRWA school was fired upon. The inquiry
concluded that during intense fighting between IDF forces and Hamas
militants, the militants operated adjacent to the UNRWA school. The
militants fired anti-tank missiles at IDF soldiers, who then responded by
firing several mortars in their direction. The documented footage presented here concluded that a
single errant mortar landed in the courtyard of the UNRWA school when it
was completely empty.
In light of the inquiry's findings, the IDF rejects the claim that people
were killed on the school premises as a result of IDF operational activity.
- IDF Limits Itself to Destroying Tunnels in Gaza, Responding to Rocket Fire
On Monday the IDF returned fire after a Palestinian rocket fired from Gaza landed in Ashkelon. IDF forces continued working to destroy the Hamas tunnels, and described the current situation is an "unlimited cease-fire," in which Israel will only hit targets when provoked.
See also Palestinians in Gaza Fire 56 Rockets and Mortars into Israel Sunday - Ben Hartman (Jerusalem Post)
- In Private, Harsh Criticism for Hamas - Daniel Siryoti and Lilach Shoval
"Gaza cannot stand another month of fighting. The Israelis have turned entire neighborhoods to dust - infrastructures were entirely ruined and we were brought decades back," one Gaza reporter told Israel Hayom. He claimed many feel the same as him, but fear reprisal from the Hamas intelligence and security apparatus: "Anyone who dares criticize Hamas is immediately branded a collaborator and helper of Israel, but everyone knows that we, the simple residents, have paid dearly for Hamas' adventurism." (Israel Hayom)
See also Gazan Public Is Reeling from the Destruction - Avi Issacharoff
A statement Sunday by Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accepting a 24-hour humanitarian truce marks the first indication that Hamas is starting to break. There's no surrender, but the message is a sign of significant distress.
Something has changed over the last few days. The group's political leaders sound different, less decisive, less fiery. Gazans want Hamas to stop. The Gazan public is exhausted and being forced to deal with a situation akin to an earthquake: thousands of homes completely destroyed, thousands more damaged, 1,050 people dead (including hundreds of gunmen) and 6,000 injured - and all this on the eve of Eid al-Fitr, a major Muslim holiday.
(Times of Israel)
- Inside Gaza with the Givati Brigade - Lilach Shoval
After we enter Gaza, Maj. Yaron, the Givati Brigade operations officer, says, "There are booby trapped houses here. In several cases, we fired at a house and the entire structure disappeared. The entire building went up in the air."
The Givati troops arrived at this Hamas stronghold from behind, from an entry point that the terrorists didn't anticipate. "The fact that we surrounded them had an effect," Yaron explains. "At first there was a lot of contact. They fired anti-tank missiles and small arms. But then the terrorists simply fled. They disappeared, leaving behind a lot of ammunition. They don't have commanders in the field. Their company commanders, regiment commanders, brigade commanders are all underground."
"We also found a control room with antennas and televisions. A war room designed to collect information about the Israel Defense Forces, about our troops. It was booby trapped with explosives, and when we realized that we blew it up," says Maj. Netanel, a Givati Brigade commander.
Brigade Commander Col. Ofer Vinter said, "The IDF is winning by doing what it knows how to do....I say to the Israeli public: Don't be afraid for us. The IDF is strong. Sometimes things aren't easy, but the fighting isn't so hard here. They fight and run." (Israel Hayom)
- The Battle of Sejaiya - 1 - Gili Cohen
During the fighting in Sejaiya in Gaza on July 20, the Golani Brigade had been under fire for several hours, said an IDF officer involved in the fighting. "The enemy was spread in every direction, and was shooting....Working with the knowledge of the enemy's location, we put all the Golani soldiers in the Namers [the army's best APCs]...and we laid down fire" only 100 meters away. Artillery fired 600 shells at Sejaiya as planes bombed from above, "after which there was no more shooting from there, not even light weapons."
The next day as well, in an aerial attack that included about 100 one-ton bombs, the Israel Air Force dropped bombs only about 250 meters away from IDF ground troops. (Ha'aretz)
See also The Battle of Sejaiya - 2 - Yaakov Lappin
A senior army source from the Artillery Corps provided a chilling account on Sunday of the battle that raged in Sejaiya on July 20, when a Golani infantry force sent to search for tunnels came under a massive attack by Hamas' Shejaia Battalion, made up of 8-900 highly trained armed men. In a coordinated fashion, the gunmen emerged from "the metro under Sejaiya" and launched a massive wave of anti-tank, mortar, sniper and automatic gunfire from buildings surrounding the Golani force. "I saw that enemy cells had come to within 40 meters of our forces."
At this stage, the Artillery Corps mapped out the location of enemy forces, and three artillery battalions rained fire on Sejaiya while Hamas continued to blast the soldiers with mortars from all around the neighborhood. After 20 minutes of shelling, silence ensued.
The Kerry Mission
- Kerry Proposal Gives New Life to Muslim Brotherhood Alliance - Ari Shavit
Very senior officials in Jerusalem described the proposal that Secretary of State John Kerry put on the table as a "strategic terrorist attack." His decision to go hand in hand with Qatar and Turkey, and formulate a framework amazingly similar to the Hamas framework, was catastrophic. It put wind in the sails of Hamas' political leader Khaled Meshal, allowed the Hamas extremists to overcome the Hamas moderates, and gave renewed life to the weakened regional alliance of the Muslim Brotherhood. (Ha'aretz)
- He Came, He Saw, He Muddled - Herb Keinon
It takes a certain artistry to irritate and annoy not only the Israeli left and the Israeli right at the same time, but also both Jerusalem and Ramallah.
Secretary of State John Kerry has found that artistry.
Kerry presented a proposal to Israel that included many of Hamas' demands but none of Israel's. This provided Hamas with a badly needed tailwind. Sure, they were getting clobbered, but they were getting what they wanted. The world was talking to them, recognizing their standing in Gaza, presenting their demands.
In 2002, just a week after Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield at the height of the Second Intifada and moved back into the major West Bank cities, then-U.S. President George Bush lost patience with Israel and said he expected Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to withdraw "now, not tomorrow." Sharon's answer: Israel would continue to "fight relentlessly" against terrorism. Israel views its interests differently, and when it feels its vital interests are on the line, will act as it sees fit.
- Kerry's Intervention in the Gaza War Empowers Hamas - David Horovitz
It seemed inconceivable that the American secretary of state would have drafted a cease-fire initiative that did not require the dismantling of Hamas' rocket arsenal and network of tunnels dug under the Israeli border. It seemed inconceivable that the initiative would specify the need to address Hamas' demands, as though Hamas were a legitimate injured party.
Israel and the U.S. are meant to be allies; the U.S. is meant to be committed to the protection of Israel in this most ruthless of neighborhoods; together, the U.S. and Israel are meant to be trying to marginalize the murderous Islamic extremism that threatens the free world. Yet here was the top U.S. diplomat appearing to accommodate a vicious terrorist organization bent on Israel's destruction, with a formula that would leave Hamas better equipped to achieve that goal.
What emerges from Kerry's self-initiated cease-fire mission - Israel had already accepted the Egyptian cease-fire proposal; and nobody asked him to come - is that Jerusalem now regards him as duplicitous and dangerous. (Times of Israel)
The Gaza War
- In This Gaza War, the Truth Is Buried - Jeffrey Goldberg
Much of the world suffers from a kind of Hamas-specific amnesia, in which the group's past deeds (hundreds of murdered Israelis) and extreme goals are forgotten as soon as they are learned.
The tunnels give me real pause. It's hard enough to imagine a situation in which your neighbors are quite intentionally trying to blow up your house and kill your children with rockets. But Hamas' well-developed kidnapping strategy with handcuffs and tranquilizers at the ready represents a whole other category of depravity. The core depravity of Hamas is its longstanding policy of treating every Jew as a target for elimination.
What would you want your government to do if your enemy was digging tunnels under your village, in order to pop out at night to kill or kidnap you? Could you imagine taking the risk that members of your family might be seized, dragged underground, handcuffed and tranquilized, and then held in the dark, perhaps for years? Hamas terrorists have recently emerged from these tunnels inside Israel multiple times. This is not a theoretical threat.
This is why Israelis appear adamant that any cease-fire must eradicate the threat of these kidnapping tunnels, at a minimum. Israel must ensure that its citizens aren't kidnapped and murdered by a group that seeks not an equitable two-state solution but the annihilation of their country.
- American Jews Are Standing with Israel - Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie
Despite gruesome pictures of civilian casualties in Gaza, American Jewish support for Israel has been unwavering. According to the most recent CNN poll, a majority of Americans believe that Israel's actions in Gaza are justified. Jewish support for Israel comes from across the religious and political spectrum. Apart from fringe elements, American Jews of all persuasions back Israel's position.
The rule of thumb is that when Israeli Jews are more or less of one mind, American Jews will be united too. Most Jews in Israel, whatever their political orientation or religious outlook, despise Hamas and support the war that their government is waging; and not surprisingly, most American Jews agree with them. "We are one" is our slogan, and also our reality.
Are American Jews repelled by all the killing? Of course. But they want the fighting to end on terms that will disarm Hamas and not simply pave the way to another round of rockets and terror. The writer served as president of the Union for Reform Judaism from 1996 to 2012.
- Some Israel-Gaza Notes - David Bernstein
Secretary of State Kerry recently presented a cease-fire proposal. The Israeli cabinet rejected it unanimously. The cabinet includes individuals from several parties ranging from left to right who rarely agree on anything. How can a diplomat publicly offer a cease-fire proposal to a friendly country when you have no support whatsoever for it. Israel currently prefers Egyptian mediation to American mediation.
The media has engaged in journalistic malpractice by reporting casualty figures for civilians coming from Gaza as gospel. The figures come from the Gazan Ministry of Health, which is controlled by Hamas.
The ministry counts everyone not in uniform as a civilian. Most Hamas fighters don't wear uniforms.
Al-Jazeera published names and ages of the early casualties, and about 3/4 were men of fighting age.
The Israeli media reports that, based on interrogations of captured Hamas fighters, Hamas was planning a major massacre for the Jewish New Year in September, with dozens of fighters simultaneously attacking border towns via Hamas' tunnels. Most support for an early cease-fire dried up after this report, as Israeli opinion turned from "we need a period of quiet from the missiles" to "we need to get rid of Hamas' offensive military capacity." The writer is a professor at the George Mason University School of Law.
- The UN, Hamas, and Alice in Wonderland - Irwin Cotler
The UN Human Rights Council's vote to launch an international inquiry into alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza has an Alice-in-Wonderland feel of "sentence first, verdict afterwards," because the resolution presupposes Israeli guilt. If precedent - such as the Goldstone Commission following the 2009 war - be the guide, the inquiry will likely marginalize war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Hamas.
Israel is systematically denied equality before the law in the international arena. Israel must respect human rights, but the rights of Israel deserve equal respect. Human rights standards should be applied to Israel, but must be equally applied to all others. Regrettably, this prejudicial UN decision will only encourage Hamas criminality, with Israeli and Palestinian civilians themselves as the tragic victims. The writer is a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
See also Depravity at the UN Human Rights Council - Anne Bayefsky
The UN Human Rights Council voted on July 23 to launch an "investigation" into what the Council decided in advance were Israel's violations of Palestinian rights. The vote was 29 in favor, 1 against [the U.S.], and 17 abstentions. The majority of the UN world cheered - literally.
Before the vote, the UN staff announced that the initial price tag for Goldstone II will be $2,321,500 - 22% of which will come from the American taxpayer.
- While Hamas Prevails in Gaza, Prospects for Peace Are Remote - Editorial
Gaza's citizens voted for Hamas in 2006. The price of that electoral choice has been a series of armed conflicts, provoked by Hamas, in which Israel has defended itself robustly. Gaza citizens who long for peace, not bloodshed, and economic infrastructure rather than rockets must grasp the reality that while Hamas prevails, the prospect of sustainable peace is remote, at best. Hostilities will erupt periodically while Hamas, with its passionate commitment to Israel's destruction, retains its hold on Gaza. (The Australian)
Can Israel Achieve a Demilitarized Gaza? - David Horovitz interviews Col. Richard Kemp (Times of Israel)
- Col. Richard Kemp, a former commander of British troops in Afghanistan, is notorious for his robust defense of the morality of Israel's army and his empathy for the challenges Israel faces from Hamas and other Islamic extremist groups seeking its destruction.
- He cautioned, "It's preferable to end with a diplomatic solution only if and when the IDF believes there has been sufficient damage to Hamas and/or you are confident that Hamas is so restricted as to significantly reduce the threat it poses."
- He did recommend something Israel could do to boost its security - encroaching deeper into Gaza to carve out "a more substantial buffer zone that would provide some defense against the cross border tunnels." But he immediately acknowledged that there would be heavy international criticism for the removal of Gaza's civilian population that this would entail.
- "The language of extreme violence has more leverage here [in this region]. But that's not on the table in the 21st century....That's not feasible or desirable." Therefore, he concluded, "You're in an enduring situation....It's a matter of containment, rather than resolution."
- He added, "As the Gaza lessons show, how could Israel possibly come to any agreement with the Palestinian Authority which would allow them full sovereignty in the West Bank? Maybe in 20, 50 years. But in the world today, it's not possible for Israel, with its security needs, to withdraw its forces significantly from the West Bank."
- Israel deserves full support for what is a "legal, lawful operation, [a case of] Israel defending itself," he said. When that full support is not forthcoming, that encourages the extremists.
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