Israeli Soldier Kidnapped in Gaza, IDF Says - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
A Hamas attack on IDF soldiers in southern Gaza, which occurred after the start of a humanitarian truce, ended with the kidnapping of a soldier, the IDF said Friday.
Terrorists emerged from a tunnel and a suicide bomber detonated himself near soldiers. Heavy exchanges of fire ensued before one of the soldiers was kidnapped, a senior army source said.
Gaza's Tunnel Wars - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
One of the most important stories of the fighting has been Hamas' defensive tunnels, into which they invested tens of millions of dollars, spreading across much of Gaza.
Soldiers speak of an extensive network of tunnels, bunkers and caches, which allow Hamas to fight with minimal exposure themselves.
The Hamas operatives move from one tunnel to another, emerging each time from a different hole, fire, then disappear again.
One officer told me about a network of defensive tunnels the IDF faced in Hiz'aa, in southern Gaza. Hamas dug three tunnels along three streets, with numerous entrances and exits.
"Every time they fired at us from a different place. Small squads of two or three people. We decided to put smoke into one of the shafts, and suddenly saw smoke rising from dozens of places along these three streets."
One can assume that, in the eight years since the Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah has accelerated its digging project on defensive tunnels within Lebanon and attack tunnels into Israel.
Eight years of work can mean that, in the next war, we will find Hizbullah fighters emerging from tunnels deep inside Israel.
See also Amid the Tunnels and Traps of Hamas' Militarized Gaza - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
In the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis the IDF soldiers seemed highly motivated and confident. Rumors that the IDF is "treading water" in Gaza had evidently not reached them.
"I don't feel that we're treading water. We make more progress every night," said Yoav, the battalion commander.
By April, IDF Knew Hamas Was Preparing for "Summer War" - Ben Hartman and Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
In April, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz alerted the military that a clash with Hamas might likely start in July, a senior military source said on Thursday.
In recent months, the IDF has added large forces to the Gaza Division in preparation.
Why Qatar's Intervention Won't Help End the Gaza Crisis - Sultan Sooud Al-Qassem (CNN)
Qatar's overall strategy with the Muslim Brotherhood has failed miserably: It resulted in the alienation of the Brotherhood in Egypt.
Qatari support for Muslim Brotherhood affiliates elsewhere in the region, such as Libya, Jordan, and Tunisia, has also backfired.
Qatar's continuous financial and media support for the Muslim Brotherhood through the once-popular Al Jazeera have further poisoned relations between Qatar and Egypt.
In Libya, Islamist Rebels Claim Control of Benghazi - Amro Hassan (Los Angeles Times)
Islamist militias said they had taken control of Libya's second largest city, Benghazi, on Thursday, declaring it "an Islamic emirate."
Questions for the International Media in Gaza - David Bernstein (Washington Post)
How do you feel about the Spanish journalist who said Hamas would kill any journalist if they filmed rocket fire?
When Hamas Health Ministry statistics contradict Hamas' own propaganda and reveal that mostly men of fighting age have died so far in Gaza, does it give you pause?
Were you aware that Hamas chose to execute dozens of anti-war protesters in Gaza? The writer is a professor at the George Mason University School of Law.
The Images Missing from the Gaza War - Uriel Heilman (JTA)
We've seen rubble, dead Palestinian children, Israelis cowering during rocket attacks, and Israeli military maneuvers. What we haven't seen are practically any images of Hamas fighters inside Gaza.
We know they're there: Someone's got to be launching those 2,800 rockets into Israel.
If we're able to see images from both sides of practically every other war, why is Gaza an exception?
For many viewers, the narrative of this war must appear quite straightforward: Powerful Israel is bombarding defenseless Palestinians. That's understandable when there are hardly any photographs of Palestinian aggressors.
If media outlets are suppressing images of Hamas fighters using civilians as shields, and using schools and hospitals as bases of operation, then people watching around the world are only getting half the story. And where I come from, a half-truth is considered a lie.
Life Under Fire - Sharon Udasin (New York Jewish Week)
As an American-born journalist living in the central Israeli city of Rehovot, 32 miles north of Gaza, I've encountered the same existential dilemma each night for several weeks: Is it safe to take a shower now?
A siren blares through my living room windows a few times a day, a warning of rockets fired from Gaza.
That means I have 90 seconds to scramble down two flights of stairs to our building's basement safe room.
Which means that before I decide to step inside the shower, I double-check my iPhone apps and Twitter feeds to see when and where the last rocket fire episode occurred.
For me, and for most Israelis, everyday parts of life like walking outside and driving have presented similar quandaries as the country has come under attack.
As I drive, I constantly glance to the side to identify a suitable place to seek shelter should the air raid siren begin to blare.
The Jews Refuse to Play the Victim - Suzanne Fields (Washington Times)
The current wave of anti-Semitism is linked to the conflict in Gaza, but the mindless hatred of the Jews and all things Jewish bubbles and squeaks in the crevices and dark places of society, like a volcano lying in wait to bury another generation of Jews.
The Jews in Israel vow to fight back until the rockets are silenced and the tunnels are destroyed, eliminating what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls the campaign of "destroying our citizens and killing our children."
Israel answers with the familiar vow of "Never Again." Who among the decent and the civilized can fault free men for that?
Israel's Tech Scene Continues to Thrive - Armin Rosen (Business Insider)
As Bloomberg News noted, investors pumped nearly $600 million into Israeli tech companies between June 12 and July 24.
Moreover, Mobileye, a Jerusalem-based company that makes camera and navigational systems for cars, is expected to raise over $600 million in an IPO this week.
Three Israel-based biotechnology firms are also having their IPOs, and two of them have a projected market capitalization of over $250 million each.
Israeli Cyber StartUp Closes $10 Million Funding Round - Orr Hirschauge (Wall Street Journal)
Israeli cyber security start-up ThetaRay Ltd., which makes software that detects anomalies in an organization's data, has closed a $10 million investment round.
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- Israel Says Gaza Cease-Fire Is Over
The Israeli military said on Friday that a Gaza cease-fire that went into effect earlier in the day is now over and military operations were in progress on the ground.
Asked if the cease-fire was over, Lt.-Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said: "Yes. We are continuing our activities on the ground." (Reuters)
See also Hamas Attacks During Cease-Fire; Heavy Fighting in Southern Gaza - Yoav Zitun and Elior Levy
Hamas broke the cease-fire agreement with Israel and renewed rocket and mortar fire at Israel Friday morning. Meanwhile, Palestinians have reported massive clashes with the IDF in southern Gaza.
See also Egypt Cancels Gaza Talks - Ahmed Eleiba
Egypt decided on Friday to cancel its hosting of cease-fire talks over the ongoing Gaza war, a Palestinian source said. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
- 72-Hour Cease-Fire Announced in Gaza as Talks Are Set - Michael R. Gordon and Mark Landler
The U.S. and UN announced a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza conflict on Friday. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were to head to Cairo for formal talks on how to end the conflict. Israeli troops would continue destroying the labyrinth of tunnels in Gaza that Prime Minister Netanyahu has said are the prime target of the operation.
"It's the package deal that Kerry has been working on for two weeks," said Martin S. Indyk, who served until recently as special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. "Both sides have accepted it and the follow-on negotiations, and both sides seem to prefer that to continuing the conflict."
American officials said Egypt would be issuing the formal invitations for the talks. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the PA, will pick the Palestinian delegation, which will include members of Hamas. (New York Times)
See also Kerry Announces Humanitarian Cease-Fire in Gaza
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday:
"Israel and the Palestinian factions have agreed that they are now prepared to implement a 72-hour unconditional humanitarian cease-fire. So starting later this morning at 8:00 August 1st, the parties are expected to cease all offensive military activities, and neither side will advance beyond its current locations. They will stay where they are in place. Israel will be able to continue its defensive operations for those tunnels that are behind its lines." (State Department)
- Israel Has to Keep Hamas from Rebuilding Once Gaza Fighting Ends - Paul Richter
Determined to avoid a repeat of the fighting in Gaza, Israel is seeking to build support for having an international force take charge of preventing Hamas from rearming once the conflict is over. The idea has been floated repeatedly by top Israeli officials in recent days.
Initial international reaction to the idea of an outside force has been positive, with the UN, EU and Obama administration all embracing the idea, in principle. In practice, figuring out who is willing to police Gaza and separate Hamas from its remaining weapons poses a problem. "The problem is somebody has to do the demilitarizing, and no one's running to the front of the line," said Daniel Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel. Preventing a repeat of the fighting has become a preoccupying concern for Israelis, Palestinians and world powers alike.
Billions of dollars in aid is expected to flow in for the rebuilding of Gaza. Israel wants to be sure Hamas will not be able to divert international aid to buy arms, officials say. Another need is ensuring that materials and equipment entering Gaza cannot be used to build tunnels or repurposed for rockets and other weapons.
President Obama, Secretary of State John F. Kerry, and national security advisor Susan Rice have signaled support for disarming Hamas, and the House adopted a resolution this week embracing the idea. Israel will insist that a force be deployed in Gaza to monitor what is happening, said Dan Arbell, a former Israeli diplomat.
More challenging is the question of how to eliminate existing stocks of weapons.
"It doesn't have to be the U.S. troops doing it: They could be overseeing it to guarantee that it be done," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The 38 European, Asian and African countries that contribute to the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon might be willing to help in Gaza, he said. (Los Angeles Times)
- The Quest for the Demilitarization of Gaza - Jodi Rudoren
After years in which Israel's prevailing approach to Gaza was a simple "quiet for quiet" demand, there is growing momentum around a new formula, "reconstruction for demilitarization." Said one senior Israeli official, "If you can, through this operation, significantly weaken them militarily, if you can reinforce with them the thinking that it's not in their interest to shoot rockets into Israel, and if you can have the international community on board to prevent Hamas from rearming, these are elements of an endgame."
Dore Gold, a foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu, said demilitarization had worked elsewhere in the Middle East, pointing to UN Security Council Resolution 687, which required Saddam Hussein to give up weapons of mass destruction after the First Gulf War in 1991, and President Bashar al-Assad's agreement in Syria to turn in chemical weapons last summer. Gold said that in demilitarization, Netanyahu now had "a very clear strategic goal." (New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Five IDF Soldiers Killed on Gaza Border
Five Israeli soldiers were killed by mortar fire on Thursday on the Israeli side of the Gaza border. Also on Thursday, eight Israelis were wounded, at least three seriously, by a Hamas mortar attack near the Gaza border.
- The IDF Campaign to Destroy the Terror Tunnels - Amos Harel
On Thursday, the army advanced on several fronts, hitting many armed militants while locating tunnel shafts deeper inside Gaza, farther from the border.
Commanders on the ground are discovering that these tunnels have many branches and that it is not sufficient to locate just one shaft in order to render a tunnel completely unusable. New methods to rapidly destroy a large network of tunnels are being quickly developed. The speed of the bulldozers and the detonation of explosive charges to cause the collapse of these tunnels are dictating the pace of the entire campaign.
The close-hand fighting dictates more aggressive use of firepower. Officers in combat brigades say that they are not taking chances. Any house that looks suspicious is struck from the air or knocked over by a bulldozer. Great care is taken with regard to UNRWA buildings and with verifying targets.
According to the assessments of IDF Military Intelligence and the Israel Security Agency, Hamas will soon agree to a cease-fire as a result of the extent of damage in Gaza and the hard blows Hamas' military wing has suffered. Hamas is now willing to reconsider the Egyptian proposal, after two weeks of pinning its hopes on Qatar's rival proposal. Egypt would not even receive a Palestinian delegation in Cairo until after Hamas commits to a cease-fire. (Ha'aretz)
- IDF Redeploys in Communities near Gaza in Wake of Tunnel Threat - Gili Cohen
By Thursday, about 90% of the known tunnels from Gaza would be destroyed, a senior officer in the Israel Defense Forces' Gaza Division said. "There's a possibility of additional shafts, but if there are any, there are very few," he said. Meanwhile, the IDF Southern Command is making preparations for the defense of communities near Gaza after the operation ends.
The IDF had already begun boosting its deployment in these communities a few weeks before the Gaza war began, due to intelligence warnings about a planned attack via the tunnels. It deployed additional intelligence collection devices such as radar, drones and observation balloons. It also stationed infantry forces in communities considered to be particularly at risk and altered the way outposts near the border fence were manned. The officer also expressed hope that even after the fighting ends, the IDF will be able to carry out pinpoint operations to deal with any tunnels discovered in the future.
The Gaza War
- The American Interest in Gaza - Charles Krauthammer
The Arab League backed the Egyptian cease-fire-in-place, which would have left Hamas weak and isolated, to ensure that Hamas didn't emerge from this war strengthened and enhanced. The American interest is to endorse and solidify this emerging axis of moderate pro-American partners (Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states, and the Palestinian Authority) intent on seeing Islamist radicalism blunted and ultimately defanged. (Washington Post)
- How to Think About the New Middle East - Dennis Ross
President Obama instructed Secretary of State Kerry "to push for an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas." However, first, the 2012 agreement had done nothing to prevent Hamas from building up an elaborate network of tunnels to launch rockets and infiltrate Israel - and Israel is not about to live with tunnels that penetrate the country and constitute, in the words of one Israeli, "a loaded gun at our heads."
Second, this is a different Egypt today, under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and it views Hamas as a threat rather than a potential ally. It has no interest in saving Hamas or allowing it to gain from the current conflict. Third, the Saudis, Emiratis and Jordanians see the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group from which Hamas sprang, as just as threatening as Iran. These moderate Arab states want to see Hamas lose and not win.
Kerry, to his credit, envisioned the cease-fire he was trying to arrange as one in which fighting would stop but Israel could finish destroying the tunnels. It has not worked yet, but if the U.S. works exclusively through the Egyptians, it may yet happen.
The administration needs to approach the Middle East with the broader goal of how it can ensure that U.S. friends in the region are stronger and their adversaries (and ours) are weaker. Ultimately, President Obama and Secretary Kerry would be wise to approach the current conflict, and its end, with that objective in mind. The writer served as special assistant to President Barack Obama from 2009-11.
- Israel and Hamas - Anthony H. Cordesman
Since 2005, the initial cause of each round of fighting has been repeated attempts by Hamas to change the strategic facts on the ground. In each round, Israel's decisive military edge has left Hamas weaker than before and failed to have any meaningful political impact that benefited Hamas. Each time, Hamas has recovered its ability to pose a threat while it has improved its tunneling efforts and capability to use rockets, missiles and mortars to strike into Israeli territory - although without any meaningful strategic benefits to Hamas.
When one looks at the cost to Palestinian civilians of Hamas' actions, it is impossible to respect any aspect of Hamas' intentions and strategy. There is something inherently horrifying in using a population as a weapon. (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
- Col. Kemp: Israel Is Standing Against the Onslaught of International Jihad - Deborah Danan interviews Col. Richard Kemp
Hamas' use of human shields is possibly the key element of their strategy.
So you see images of dead babies, women screaming about their children, and no reality can overcome those images. It is heart-wrenching. The problem is that there's no reference, no open-mindedness to the fact that the only reason that these children have been killed is because of Hamas' aggression towards Israel.
Israel is at a disadvantage too because while Israel might understand the need to come out with a rapid message of the truth of what's happening in the conflict, it still has to be utterly faithful to facts and cannot afford to get it wrong, or to exaggerate. Hamas, on the other hand, can say whatever they want and it doesn't get challenged, and if it does get challenged it doesn't matter for them because they're not accountable to anyone.
A few days ago I spoke to an Israeli pilot that told me that the same morning he had aborted an enemy target a total of 17 times because there were civilians in the target zone, and eventually he abandoned the operation.
That to me, is one of the best things about the Israel Air Force - that the very last thing they want to do is bomb a target and have that on their conscience for the rest of their lives. And it was the same thing with infantry soldiers. In fact, in terms of civilian casualties, the attitude of IDF solders is the exact mirror image of the way they're portrayed to the world.
British soldiers lives have also been saved by Israeli battlefield medical technology and also by Israeli counter-bomb technology, that is, technological equipment that stops or detects improvised explosive devices like roadside bombs. British soldiers' lives in Afghanistan have been saved and are being saved by that technology. Beyond that, British and Israeli intelligence cooperation is extremely tight and that has saved the lives not just of soldiers but of British civilians as well.
The Jewish people should be extremely proud of the State of Israel. They should try their best to disregard the terrible anti-Israeli propaganda that is designed solely to contribute to the conspiracy to exterminate the State of Israel. Israel is the one country in the Western world today that is standing up for its morality and for its values against the onslaught of international jihad. Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp is the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan. (Algemeiner)
- The Cheap Cement Goes to Building Gaza Homes, the Good Cement to Build the Tunnels - Doron Fiskin
Where did Hamas get the cement to produce its concrete-lined attack tunnels, especially in light of the Israeli blockade and an overall shortage of cement?
While the civilian sector in Gaza suffered from a lack of building materials, Hamas had no problem obtaining thousands of tons of cement.
Unfortunately, part of the cement that Israel allowed to enter Gaza for humanitarian needs ended up in Hamas' hands.
In addition, cement was brought in through smuggling tunnels from Egypt for years, especially during the period when the Muslim Brotherhood ruled Egypt (June 2012 to June 2013).
During that time, an average of between 400 and 3,000 tons of cement, iron, and building stone entered Gaza daily via the tunnels. High-quality cement came from Turkey to the port at El-Arish in Sinai. The Egyptian authorities at the time were aware of the flow but did nothing to stop it.
Beginning in 2011, complaints by Gaza contractors about the quality of the cement coming through the tunnels started appearing in the Palestinian press, with concerns voiced that newly built homes would one day collapse. It appears that in the private sector, cheaper Egyptian cement was often switched for what was labeled as high quality cement. One cement merchant in Gaza explained that suppliers would deliver a truckload of cement sacks. The outer ones were Turkish cement, while those beneath were Egyptian. Anyone who complained or tried to return the cement quickly found himself threatened by the military arm of Hamas, and dropped his complaint.
Two years ago, Israel approved Qatari financing of reconstruction projects in Gaza at a cost of $400 million. A large amount of Egyptian military grade cement was allowed into Gaza through the Rafah crossing. The moment the cement entered Gaza, Hamas took control of it. The Qataris didn't really care what happened to the cement and the other building materials they paid for.
When the Egyptian army closed the smuggling tunnels, a serious delay in Qatar's building projects in Gaza was announced. The local reaction was surprise, since Egypt had sent to Gaza all the materials that were needed for the Qatari projects. (Calcalist-Hebrew)
- Behind Hamas' Guns, a Serious Problem of Funding - Shuki Sadeh
Until 2011 Iran was Hamas' "sugar daddy," with an estimated 80% of the aid from Tehran going directly to the military wing of Hamas. Syria, another source of funds, cut off Hamas after it backed the Sunni forces fighting the Assad regime in that country's civil war, as did Iran for the same reason. Qatar has taken up some of the slack, as has Turkey, which has spent $350 million on projects in Gaza. In contrast to the money from Qatar, it is clear the Turkish funds actually reached their intended recipients.
In its early years, before it was designated a terrorist organization and banned from receiving funds, Hamas raised most of its funding openly, from wealthy Muslims in Europe and the U.S. That route has been closed, but money continues to enter Gaza in cash-filled suitcases, through the tunnels from Egypt. (Ha'aretz)
- Israel Is Fighting on Behalf of the Free World - Bob Fredericks
"Israel in the Middle East is fighting on behalf of the free world," declared Mosab Hassan Yousef, the outspoken son of Hamas leader Hassan Yousef.
"Hamas does not care about the lives of Palestinians, or the lives of Israelis, or Americans; they don't care about their own lives," Yousef told CNN. "They consider dying for their ideology a way of worship."
"Their goal is to conquer the globe and build an Islamic state on every inch of the globe....[Hamas] is willing to sacrifice as many Palestinian lives as it takes."
"Hamas is not seeking co-existence and compromise. Hamas is seeking conquest and taking over. And by the way, the destruction of the State of Israel is not Hamas' final destination. Hamas's final destination is building the Islamic caliphate, which means an Islamic state over the rubble of every other civilization."
(New York Post)
- The "Gaza Generation" Seems Worried about Arab Deaths Only When Jews Are Involved - Bernard-Henri Levy
If one were primarily concerned about Palestinian children - whose deaths are indeed an abomination - one would demand that Hamas operatives leave the hospital basements where they have buried their command centers, move the rocket launchers that they have installed in the doorways of UN schools, and stop threatening parents who wish to evacuate their homes when an Israeli leaflet informs them that a strike is imminent.
Bluntly anti-Semitic slogans have marred most European demonstrations "in support of the people of Gaza." Residents of Frankfurt and Dortmund were horrified in mid-July to see neo-Nazi groups join hands with Islamists in a grim chant: "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas." The center of London was blocked on July 19 by thousands who gathered in front of the Israeli embassy in Kensington to shout their hatred for Jews.
(Wall Street Journal)
- No Better Friend in the World:
The U.S. and Israel Have Each Other's Back - Josh Block
Israel plays a role in advancing just about every vital American interest. It's an unsinkable aircraft carrier in the Eastern Mediterranean at a time when our Pentagon is cutting back on actual ships. The Israelis have built defensive technologies like Iron Dome, which is now co-produced in the U.S. and will make its way to our other allies.
Most immediately, and daily - we and the Israelis share the same terrorist enemies and the same core values. Iran's leaders decry Israel as the Little Satan, but in their marches and speeches they still refer to the U.S. as the Big Satan. Israel's work undermining the Iranian nuclear program also protects the U.S. Jihadists throughout the region seek to destroy Israel as a way-station to attacking the American homeland. When Israel launches counterterror operations against those terrorists, they remove the threat posed to us as well. The writer is the CEO and President of The Israel Project.
- Khamenei Mends Relations with Hamas - Ali Alfoneh
Arm Hamas. That was the main message of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's speech on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, the feast marking the end of the month of Ramadan. The support for Hamas marked a shift in rhetoric for the Iranian leader. Ties suffered because of Iran's support for Bashar al-Assad. The Hamas external leadership left Damascus in 2012.
"A rabid dog, and a predatory wolf has attacked innocent people," Khamenei said, referring to Israel and its current war against Hamas in Gaza. He accused "the usurping and infidel Zionist regime" of committing "genocide," and demanded "punishment" for the "perpetrators of these crimes and their backers."
Finally, Khamenei said: "The entire world, and in particular the world of Islam, is obliged to do everything in its ability to arm the people of Palestine." The renewed partnership should serve as a warning to those who believe a negotiated solution to the nuclear crisis would lead to changes in the regime's policy of supporting violent non-state actors. The writer is a senior fellow at the FDD. (Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.)
- The Road to a Bad Nuclear Deal with Iran - Ephraim Asculai and Emily B. Landau
The decision to extend nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 beyond the July 20 deadline, giving Iran access to an additional $2.8 billion of its restricted assets, sends a problematic message that there are no negative consequences for not reaching a deal.
With absolutely no indication of any softening of Iran's steadfast intransigence on the nuclear front - if anything, positions have hardened - what could have convinced the Secretary of State that there was suddenly reason to believe that the next four months might see the significant Iranian concessions that had proven elusive in the previous six? There is ample reason to believe that an agreement with Iran will be no more achievable in four months than it is now.
The international community cannot enable Iran to continue the interim situation indefinitely in this manner, with a very short breakout time. It must clarify to Iran that this is not an option.
Ephraim Asculai is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and a former senior scientist at the Israel Atomic Energy Commission. Emily B. Landau is Head of the Arms Control Program at INSS at Tel Aviv University.
Israel's Doctrine of Proportionality in Gaza - Dore Gold (Los Angeles Times)
- The images of destruction in Gaza have caused many to declare that the Israel Defense Forces are behaving "disproportionately" and using excessive force in the Shajaiya neighborhood in Gaza. These accusations have no merit.
- Shajaiya was crisscrossed with an elaborate network of underground bunkers and tunnels containing equipment for the manufacture of rockets, storage facilities for rockets and other weapons, and launching sites from which the rockets were fired at Israeli towns.
- Israel had three choices in how to deal with Shajaiya:
- First, it could have decided that it had every right to use
overwhelming force to neutralize the neighborhood with air power, ignoring the question of collateral damage to civilians, much like the Allied bombing campaigns of World War II, or NATO's three-month campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999, in which 40,000 homes were destroyed. This option was not considered.
- Second, Israel could have decided there was nothing it could do, thus allowing Hamas to strike at Israeli population centers with impunity. Such a decision would have granted Hamas a license to kill Israelis, something no Israeli government - or, indeed, any accountable democracy - could do.
- Finally, Israel decided to separate, as much as possible, the civilian population from the Hamas fighters and arms in their midst. This required getting the Palestinian population to evacuate potential target areas, by dropping leaflets with evacuation routes, breaking into Hamas radio broadcasts with warnings about specific areas, Arabic-language telephone calls to homes, and text messages to cellphones. An Israeli drone would hover over the area to ensure that residents had left.
- Against this Israeli effort, Hamas employed a counter-strategy of trying to prevent civilians from heeding Israeli warnings. On July 8, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called on Gazans to serve as human shields against Israeli air attacks, and Hamas enforcers sought to dissuade civilians from fleeing.
- Anyone who complains about "disproportionality" must explain exactly what the IDF should have done to neutralize the terrorist threat while causing less destruction than what occurred.
The writer, who served as Israel's UN ambassador, is an advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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