Iran: We'll Send Arms for West Bank War - Ariel Ben Solomon (Jerusalem Post)
Amir Mousavi, a former adviser to the Iranian defense minister, told Lebanese Al-Mayadeen TV on Friday:
"A new front must be opened from the West Bank, after it has been armed - especially with missiles, because we know very well that the distance between the West Bank and Tel Aviv, Haifa and other areas is much shorter than the distance from Gaza."
"Therefore, simple means are required. There is no need for long-range missiles."
The "arming of Gaza will be stepped up and strategic weapons will be introduced into the West Bank."
Israel Hunts Attack Tunnel Openings - Gili Cohen (Ha'aretz)
To date the IDF has destroyed 2/3 of the Gaza attack tunnels that have been discovered, but officers in the field say that trying to track down all the shafts and openings leading from a given tunnel demands a large investment of resources.
The IDF is now using huge ventilators and smoke machines for this purpose.
It appears that the tunnel used to carry out the attack south of the Karni Crossing on Monday had already been discovered by the IDF, but all its openings were not known.
Rockets Found at UN Gaza School for Third Time - Ilan Ben Zion (Times of Israel)
The UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees said Tuesday that a stockpile of Hamas rockets was found in one of UNRWA's Gaza schools - for the third time.
Poll: 95% of Israeli Jews Believe Gaza Operation Is Justified (Ynet News)
95% of Israeli Jews believe that the ongoing military operation in Gaza is justified and that the IDF has not used excessive firepower, according to a new series of polls by the Israel Democracy Institute.
Is it True that American Support for Israel Is Waning? - Adam Taylor (Washington Post)
A Pew Research Center Poll conducted between July 24-27 finds that just one in four Americans believes Israel has "gone too far" in the recent Gaza conflict.
Another poll from Pew, conducted on July 8-14, found that 51% of Americans said they sympathize more with Israel than Palestinians, and only 14% sympathize more with the Palestinians.
A CNN poll from July 18-20 found that 57% said they supported Israel's action in Gaza. CNN Polling Director Keating Holland noted that "in 2012, an identical 57% thought that Israel's actions against Hamas in Gaza were justified."
Danish Prime Minister Refuses to Sign Nordic Letter Condemning Israel - Andreas Jakobsen (Copenhagen Post-Denmark)
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has come under fire after refusing to sign a letter from all Nordic social democratic leaders condemning Israeli attacks on Gaza, Politiken reports.
Party leaders in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland all signed the message which states that they "condemn Israel's use of disproportionate violence."
Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror - Rukmini Callimachi (New York Times)
Kidnapping Europeans for ransom has become a global business for al-Qaeda, bankrolling its operations across the globe.
While European governments deny paying ransoms, an investigation by the New York Times found that al-Qaeda and its direct affiliates have taken in at least $125 million in revenue from kidnappings since 2008, of which $66 million was paid just last year.
The U.S. Treasury Department has cited ransom amounts that total $165 million over the same period.
Counterterrorism officials now believe al-Qaeda finances the bulk of its recruitment, training and arms purchases from ransoms paid to free Europeans, making Europe the inadvertent underwriter of al-Qaeda.
Israeli Pilot: Hamas Puts Gaza Civilians in Harms Way - Kate Snow (NBC News)
Israel says it makes every effort to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza, and Capt. Omri of the Air Force explained how his team seeks to target Hamas fighters and weaponry.
Omri says the IDF will call off attacks if civilians are spotted.
"We are seeing Hamas preventing people from being vacated from the area, calling them back into neighborhoods where we announced we are about to perform attacks."
Israeli Architects Planned and Built Shifa Hospital in Gaza - Tzvi Elhayani (X-Net-Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
The IDF claims that senior leaders of the Hamas military are hiding in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
After 1967, Israeli architects designed the new Shifa medical center campus, which replaced the British Mandate-era hospital with a facility built to modern Israeli standards.
In the 1990s, the building contractor hired Hamas as security guards to protect the complex.
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News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Hamas Rejects Palestinian Call for Gaza Cease-Fire - Josh Levs, Jethro Mullen and Karl Penhaul
Hamas on Tuesday rejected a call from Palestinian leadership in the West Bank for a 24-hour truce to halt the bloodshed in Gaza.
See also Hamas Commander Mohammad Deif: There Will Be No Cease-Fire, Victory Will Be Ours
Hamas military commander Mohammad Deif broke years of silence on Tuesday to declare: "There will be no cease-fire without [Israel's] lifting of the siege" and stated, "Victory will be ours." Deif warned that Israel's soldiers face fighters "craving to die." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Video - Hamas Sermon from Gaza: We Will Not Leave a Single Jew Alive
On July 25, Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV in Gaza aired a sermon from a Deir Al-Balah mosque in which an unnamed imam declared: "Our doctrine in fighting you (the Jews) is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive, because you are alien usurpers of the land." (MEMRI)
- With Israel at War, U.S. Lawmakers Give Full Support - Bradley Klapper
U.S. lawmakers are pressing the Obama administration to take no action that puts pressure on Israel to halt its military operations. "At times like this, people try to isolate Israel," House Speaker John Boehner said Monday. "We are here to stand with Israel, not just as a broker or observer but as a strong partner and a trusted ally. What does that mean? Well, it doesn't mean issuing vague, on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand statements. No, it means backing up our words and showing solidarity with our friend." (AP)
See also Ted Cruz, Kirsten Gillibrand Team Up on Hamas - Burgess Everett
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) united on Monday to push a resolution condemning Hamas in its war against Israel. The resolution strongly criticizes Hamas for using "innocent civilians as human shields," tags Hamas and other terrorist groups with the blame for thousands of rocket attacks on Israel launched from Gaza, and demands that PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas condemn Hamas' tactics.
Gillibrand called on the global community to "stand up" to Hamas.
Cruz said the U.S. and the entire international community "must expose and denounce Hamas' barbaric tactics and unequivocally support Israel's right to self-defense." The resolution is a companion to a House resolution introduced by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.).
- Israel Debuts Micro Robot in Anti-Tunnel Campaign - Barbara Opall-Rome
Israel debuted the Micro Tactical Ground Robot (MTGR) built by Roboteam,
a locally developed micro robot, to explore the labyrinth of tunnels and concealed shafts supporting subterranean arms depots, command posts and cross-border attacks from Gaza.
Several systems are already operating with combat engineering units against dozens of tunnels and multiple access points concealed in homes and civilian structures throughout Gaza.
MTGR is tasked for high-risk surveillance, mapping and explosive-ordnance-disposal missions. It weighs less than 20 pounds and is built to clear obstacles, climb 8-inch stairs and maneuver in tight, dangerous terrain. Its five onboard cameras, internal microphone and infrared laser points generate intelligence and targeting data 360 degrees around the vehicle.
- Despite Rockets and Tunnels, Israeli Farmers Remain Hopeful - Anav Silverman
Danny Cohen, 50, of Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, 2.5 km. from the Gaza border, is the head of the kibbutz's emergency response team and is among the 60 kibbutz members who have remained despite the rocket fire and Hamas infiltrations. "In the last few years, half of the homes on the kibbutz have been struck by rockets, both by direct hits or by shrapnel from rocket explosions," he said.
Cohen points to the most recent house that has been directly hit by a rocket. The blue sky can been seen through a wide gaping hole penetrating the ceiling of the living room and bedroom, which are now full of debris. Chaya Pachuk, 84, who lives in the now partially destroyed house, was not home at the time of the rocket strike. Two days before, Pachuk had gone to her son in Tel Aviv.
"As a farmer, it's not so simple to move away," says Cohen. "This is not only our home, but our livelihood as well. The farmers stay here no matter what - we have to take care of the livestock, cows, crops, and fields. We can't just leave all this behind."
Eshkol Regional Council spokeswoman Ronit Minaker notes,
"Despite the rockets in the past seven years, there has actually been a 35% increase in population - people move here because of the quality of life, the scenic nature, and good community atmosphere." (Huffington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Hamas Shoots Protesters in Gaza - Ariel Ben Solomon
Hamas shot 20 Palestinians on Monday night for protesting against Hamas for the massive destruction inflicted on their neighborhood in Sejaiya by the IDF in the past weeks, Israel Channel 10 TV reported on Tuesday.
- Netanyahu's Vision for Gaza: Internationally Supervised Demilitarization - Barak Ravid
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to establish an international framework for demilitarizing Gaza, supervising entry of people and goods into the enclave and preventing smuggling, a senior Israeli official said Monday. This mechanism will oversee the use of funds, building materials and arms in Gaza, in order to ensure that they are not used for terror. Netanyahu said in a statement on Monday: "A mechanism for preventing the rearmament of terror organizations and a demilitarization of Gaza has to be part of any solution. The international community should forcefully insist on this."
Netanyahu supports international efforts to rebuild Gaza, with investments in its economy and infrastructure, but demands strict supervision of the money transferred, to ensure that it does not fall into the hands of Hamas or other terror organizations. Netanyahu believes that international supervision is required for shipments of concrete, cement, iron and other materials, so they do not serve for construction of more tunnels from Gaza.
- A Clear Victory for Israel, Whatever Hamas Says - Avi Shilon
There are those who think that as long as Hamas has not surrendered, we've failed. Actually, however, Hamas' insistence on continuing to fight demonstrates the extent to which it is dissatisfied with the current results.
What Israel is doing will strengthen recognition by the residents of Gaza that they derive no benefit from the confrontation that Hamas is waging with Israel.
Moreover, the fact that the European Union has called for the demilitarization of Gaza is an accomplishment for Israel.
- U.S. Push for a Gaza Cease-Fire Should Empower Moderate Palestinians - Editorial
The big revelation of this Gaza fight has been the degree to which Hamas has invested in stockpiling missiles capable of striking Israeli cities and constructing cross-border tunnels whose only purpose is to carry out offensive attacks inside Israel. Israel is insisting, reasonably, that its troops remain in Gaza at least long enough to destroy the tunnels. It is also making the obvious point that a solution to the conflict must prevent Hamas from focusing Gaza's economy on the production of more missiles and tunnels.
Israel is demanding that Hamas be disarmed as a part of any peace. It might be possible to make Hamas' surrendering of its missiles the condition for steps that would enable Gaza's economic development. At a minimum, new security provisions should aim at preventing Hamas from importing more military supplies. More broadly, the Obama administration should be working with Egypt and Mr. Abbas, as well as Israel, to end the conflict in a way that reduces rather than reinforces Hamas' power over Gaza.
- Israel-Hamas Conflict: Differences Over Calls to Demilitarize Gaza - Ilene Prusher
"Since the previous Gaza conflicts, there has been a clear escalation in the type of weaponry Hamas and other organizations in the Gaza Strip have deployed, largely in terms of the range they're able to reach with the rockets," says Dore Gold, one of Netanyahu's foreign policy advisors and the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. "If Israel were to just reach a standstill agreement for a cease-fire, based on what transpired before, in a very short amount of time there would be yet another qualitative improvement, and that would amount to improvements that pose an unacceptable threat to Israel."
As far as Netanyahu is concerned, what comes after a cease-fire is critical, Gold says. "In the last few years, international organizations and governments have pressured Israel to allow Gaza to import larger quantities of cement, so that houses can be built, new schools can be established, hospitals can be constructed. It turns out that this was used for attacks against Israeli targets," Gold says. "Therefore, the demilitarization agreement is needed to address this problem to ensure that Hamas doesn't use this concrete to make tunnels."
In the 1970s, the South Koreans discovered that the North Koreans had built a series of infiltration tunnels under the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two countries, with plans to use them for attacks. "These tunnels are not of that width or size, but the principle exists that with tunnels you could have 1,000 or 2,000 terrorists behind Israeli lines." Moreover, Gold says, the 1993 Oslo Accords envisioned a demilitarized Palestinian state with light arms for police and security forces. "Twenty years ago, no one ever imagined rockets that could hit Tel Aviv would be embedded in a self-governed Palestinian entity." (TIME)
- Kerry Sought to Change U.S. Policy toward Funding Hamas - Josh Rogin and Eli Lake
Secretary of State Kerry has been furiously working on a Mideast cease-fire, but when Kerry sent the Israeli government his draft cease-fire proposal on July 25, the Israeli cabinet rejected it unanimously. Moreover, a senior Palestinian Authority official said Kerry's plan was an attempt to destroy the Egyptian cease-fire proposal.
Israeli officials and experts said Kerry's proposal altered the Egyptian cease-fire in many important ways, and in one case altered long-standing U.S. policy toward the funding of Hamas.
The Kerry proposal committed to "transfer funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries of public employees." Israeli and U.S. officials said the understanding was that money would be given to Hamas by the government of Qatar. A senior U.S. official said that the American government doesn't like Qatar providing money to Hamas, which is still officially designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department. But Kerry was trying to reach Hamas and he believes this was the best way to influence them.
Matthew Levitt, a former senior Treasury Department official, said: "We've had a long-standing policy of proactively combating the financing of Hamas and the U.S. government has done a lot in this regard." (Daily Beast)
- Paying Protection Money to Hamas? - Efraim Inbar
The developing international consensus to offer Gaza an economic package in order to convince Hamas to agree to a cease-fire looks like the "protection money" collected by the mafia. Moreover, what moral justification exists for helping people who are intent on killing innocent Israeli citizens?
As long as Hamas stays in control, economic aid to Gaza strengthens its power and its grip over the poor Gazans. Allowing the continued rule of Hamas, as the U.S. plans, also undermines the rule of the more moderate PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Instead of using the tough pictures coming out of Gaza to tell Gazans: "We told you all along that Hamas leadership would only make things worse," Western leaders seem to have foolishly decided to bribe Hamas into behaving. Promises of aid send the wrong signal. It tells Palestinians that their leadership can make grave, deadly mistakes, and nevertheless gullible Westerners and others will bail them out.
It also signals to Hamas that it can continue seeking the destruction of Israel; for if Israel repeats its military action, merciful donor states will again repair the damage. The writer is director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University.
- For Its Own Security, Israel Must Finish the Job It Started in Gaza - Editorial
For years, Hamas imported tons of concrete into Gaza, material that could have been used to build desperately needed schools and houses.
But what did Hamas do? It sold out its own people, doing nothing to better their lives while secretly using all that concrete to reinforce dozens of tunnels from which to wage endless war. Now, the Israeli military is systematically finding and destroying those tunnels, and it is obligated to finish the job.
In this moment when Israel is confronted by an implacable foe that has rejected a cease-fire, we see only moral clarity: Israel must defend itself. What nation would do otherwise? If the tunnels are not destroyed, Hamas fighters will crawl through them again. If Israel agrees to link major concessions to a Hamas cease-fire, Hamas will have been rewarded for its violence.
Israel has clashed with Hamas three times in six years. It is entirely reasonable that Israel would now do all within its powers to destroy Hamas' military capabilities.
- Who Is the Real Enemy? - Masada Siegel
I was working at CNN as a field producer on Sept. 11, 2001. In disbelief, I watched smoke pour out of the World Trade Center. Soon after, the building started to fall. My nerves were shattered and that was one tragic day. I can't imagine danger raining down on my country on a regular basis. No American president would put up with America's people being attacked nonstop.
After September 11 America didn't run, we didn't hide, we took care of business, at a very high price: we lost over 2,000 American soldiers. In the process, estimates suggest over 170,000 innocent civilians in Afghanistan were killed.
Should we have been expected to "broker peace" with al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization whose main goal is to kill Americans and destabilize the modern world? No, we would care about one thing only: protecting Americans and doing the best we could to minimize innocent civilians' deaths. Hamas is the same entity as al-Qaeda, dedicated to destruction of Western values and freedom-loving people. Hamas is a recognized terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel and of Jewish people.
(Times of Israel)
- Khamenei's Team of Rivals: Iranian Decision-Making, June-July 2014 - Frederick W. Kagan
The recent crisis in Iraq and the nuclear negotiations in Geneva have opened a fascinating window into the efforts of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to bring rival groups within his government together behind a single set of policies. He appears to have been remarkably successful in mediating tensions between President Hassan Rouhani and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps senior leaders.
Much of the hopefulness about the negotiations has stemmed from the assessment that Rouhani is a determined reformer willing to buck the pressures of the "hard-liners," the IRGC and the clergy. But IRGC and clerical criticism of Rouhani has died away. Indeed, Rouhani's interactions with the Supreme Leader and with the IRGC do not show a factionalized government riven by power-struggles.
(American Enterprise Institute)
Why Do We Blame Israel More? - Carol Hunt (Independent-Ireland)
- We in the West hold Israel to a higher standard than we do her neighbors. Israel should know better, we say. Does this mean we hold her Arab neighbors to a lesser standard? Is this not basic racism?
- But Israel is the Goliath to Palestine's David, we insist. And in a narrow sense this is true. Yet in the broader sense Israel is a tiny Jewish, yet secular, democracy in a sea of warmongering, and increasingly dangerously anti-Semitic (and Christian) enemies. Israel is not the arrogant monolith we believe it to be, though it must try to give that impression in order to survive.
- Last week, our new foreign minister Charlie Flanagan was roundly excoriated for abstaining from a UN resolution to solely investigate Israel's military actions. Flanagan said: "We had problems with the text, we wanted it to include all violent acts on all sides, including Hamas and other militant groups in the region." And yet the consensus from the chattering classes in Ireland was that Israel, and only Israel, be investigated.
- What is the difference between our outrage at the children killed in Gaza and those being killed in Syria? It would be seem to be the people killing them. And if we insist that our disproportionate reaction to those killed by Israel is not anti-Semitic, then what is it?
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