Video: How Hamas Fires Its Rockets Without Detection (NDTV-India)
On Monday, Aug. 4, an Indian journalist looked out his window and saw a blue tent in a vacant lot that was hiding a Hamas team assembling a rocket in the midst of a residential area of multi-story buildings.
Wires were run leading away from the tent, meaning the rocket was prepared for remote detonation.
The Hamas team then dismantled the tent and cleaned up the site, even restoring bushes over the buried rocket.
On Tuesday, the rocket was fired at Israel minutes before the latest cease-fire.
See also Hamas Rocket Launch Pad Revealed Near Gaza Homes - Gallagher Fenwick (France 24)
France 24 has exclusive footage of a Hamas rocket launching pad that appears to prove the militant group has been firing from areas heavily populated with civilians.
The site, in Gaza City, is some 50 meters from a hotel where the majority of international media is staying, and just 100 meters from a UN building.
The Israeli army has repeatedly accused the Palestinian militants of shooting from within densely populated civilian areas and that is precisely the type of setup we have here.
The launching pad is also where the France 24 team had a close call last week. During a live broadcast to the Paris studio, a rocket was fired overhead, forcing the reporter and crew to take cover.
See also Photo: Hamas Rocket Launcher in Residential Area Near a UN Building (France 24-IDF)
U.S. Poll: 44 Percent Say Israel's Actions in Gaza Are Justified - Carrie Dann (NBC News)
44% said that they believe Israel is defending its interests and that its actions are justifiable, while 24% said that Israel's military actions are not justified, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows.
34% said that the U.S. should favor Israelis over Palestinians, 4% said the opposite, and 53% said that the U.S. should treat Israelis and Palestinians the same.
See also U.S. Poll: 42 Percent Say Israel Justified - Jonathan Topaz (Politico)
According to a Gallup poll released Tuesday, 42% of Americans say Israel's actions against Hamas are justified, compared with 38% who say they are unjustified.
By contrast, only 14% of Americans believe that Hamas' actions against Israel are justified, with 66% saying they are unjustified.
59% say they are following the conflict at least somewhat closely.
Defeat for Hamas, Devastation for Gaza - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
The fact that all Palestinian factions accepted the Egyptian framework, and abandoned the Qatar-Turkey channel, marks a significant victory for Egypt and a humiliating defeat for Hamas.
For almost three weeks Hamas had rejected the proposal for an unconditional ceasefire with its demands to be addressed only afterwards. But on Monday it changed course.
That shift signals the difficult position in which Hamas now finds itself. The damage done to Gaza stands in the billions of dollars, and Hamas certainly cannot fix it alone.
Maps: The Areas Damaged in Shuja'iya Were Used to Attack Israel (Israel Defense Forces)
A comparison of IDF Intelligence and UN damage assessment maps of the Shuja'iya neighborhood of Gaza City proves that the areas hit were terror sites.
The IDF only targets terror sites.
See also Photos: IDF Soldiers During the Gaza War (Israel Defense Forces)
The IDF Flickr page.
Much of the Destruction in Gaza Was Because of Hamas Booby-Traps - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
On the first full day of a truce with Hamas on Tuesday, senior IDF officers began sharing their war stories.
The army uncovered the shaft in Gaza of a cross-border tunnel that surfaced in a hothouse located right next to a Palestinian kindergarten. It led directly to Kibbutz Netiv Ha'asara in Israel, where Hamas gunmen planned to massacre civilians.
Other units found rocket launch tripods in school playgrounds.
"At the entrance to Beit Hanun, there were more homes with booby-traps than not," said another army officer.
"Much of the destruction of homes in Gaza was because of Hamas booby-traps."
In recent days, the IDF came under increased Hamas mortar fire, and when it traced the origin of the attacks, it found that they came from kindergartens and playgrounds in Gaza.
"This limited us a lot," said a source.
A senior IDF commander added, "Gaza is totally different now. Hamas built capabilities it could not effectively activate. Islamic Jihad's apparatus has been taken apart."
Iraq's Yazidis Face Islamic State or Perilous Mountains - Ahmed Rasheed and Michael Georgy (Reuters)
When the Islamic State made another dramatic push through northern Iraq, the Yazidis of the town of Sinjar were especially terrified.
The Islamic State regards the minority ethnic group as "devil worshippers," making them prime candidates for beheadings.
"The innocent people of Sinjar were slaughtered. Men were killed and women have been taken as slaves by Islamic State fighters," said Vian Dakheel, a member of parliament from the Yazidi community. Tens of thousands of Yazidis rushed to the surrounding mountains.
The Yazidis, followers of an ancient religion derived from Zoroastrianism, are spread over northern Iraq and are part of the country's Kurdish minority.
Alyas Khudhir, a 33-year-old government employee with three children, said:
"I'm sleeping with my kids on rocks and food is scarce. I have collected some tree leaves to feed my kids if food runs out. We are slowly dying and nobody cares about us."
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Kerry: Our Goal Is to Eliminate the Rockets and Demilitarize Gaza
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the BBC on Tuesday:
"We fully support Israel's right to defend itself and the fact that it was under attack by rockets, by tunnels, and it had to take action against Hamas. Hamas has behaved in the most unbelievably shocking manner of engaging in this activity. And yes, there has been horrible collateral damage as a result of that, which is why the United States worked very, very hard with our partners in the region, with Israel, with Egyptians, with the Palestinian Authority, with President Abbas, to try to move towards a ceasefire."
"Finally now, that ceasefire is hopefully in place in a way that can allow parties to come to the table and be able to not only deal with the question of how do you do a sustainable ceasefire, but the more critical, underlying, longer-term issues of how are we going to make peace? How are we going to eliminate these rockets? How are we going to demilitarize, move toward a different future? And that's really our goal."
"What we want to do is support the Palestinians and their desire to improve their lives and to be able to open crossings and get food in and reconstruct and have greater freedom. But that has to come with a greater responsibility towards Israel, which means giving up rockets."
"The United States stands behind Israel's right to defend itself, and we do not believe that it is appropriate for any group, particularly in the circumstances that we've seen in this terrorist group, Hamas, to be flying rockets against civilians randomly into the country, tunnels coming underneath the kibbutz, with people that we've seen discovered with handcuffs and tranquilizer drugs ready to capture people in the midst of their daily lives. No country can live with that condition, and the United States stands squarely behind Israel's right to defend itself in those circumstances, period." (BBC-U.S. State Department)
- London Times Rejects Wiesel Ad Against Hamas "Child Sacrifice"
The London Times refused to run an ad featuring Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel speaking out against Hamas' use of children as human shields.
The ad has run in the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. The London Times refused the ad because "the opinion being expressed is too strong and too forcefully made and will cause concern amongst a significant number of Times readers." (JTA)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Focuses on Demilitarizing Gaza at Cairo Cease-Fire Talks - Herb Keinon and Khaled Abu Toameh
Israel's security cabinet on Tuesday night discussed Israel's position on the negotiations in Cairo to put together a more lasting arrangement than the 72-hour cease-fire that went effect in the morning and held throughout the day.
The Israeli negotiating team in Cairo will conduct indirect negotiations through Egypt. While Hamas has a long list of demands it is presenting to the Egyptians, Israel - according to government officials - is concentrating on preventing Hamas from rearming in the short term, and demilitarizing Gaza over the long run. Israel will insist on a mechanism to ensure that Hamas is unable to rearm as it has done after previous campaigns.
See also Hamas Will Not Voluntarily Demilitarize - Herb Keinon
Terrorist organizations, by their nature, do not "demilitarize."
Their raison d'etre is to militarize, to accumulate arms and weapons to kill and terrorize. Hamas will not decommission its arms voluntarily.
Which means that achieving that goal rests on creating an international mechanism to ensure that Hamas does not use international funds and goods - yet again - to build more rockets and tunnels.
See also Israel: Truce Means Hamas Must Disarm to Govern Gaza - Raphael Ahren
"By accepting the ceasefire, as proposed by Egypt, Hamas has actually made a strategic decision," said Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Yossi Kuperwasser, director-general of Israel's Strategic Affairs Ministry.
"They realized that in order to keep Gaza under their control, they will have to give up - at least temporarily, but hopefully for a long time - their nature as a terrorist organization....They will continue to speak like a terrorist organization. But they will be forced to give up their ability to carry out their attacks."
The creation of a reliable international mechanism to monitor imports and exports and oversee the demilitarization of Gaza is "what we're worried about most," Kuperwasser said. If Israel is satisfied with security guarantees and an arrangement to disarm terror groups in the Strip, it would be willing to "enable the reconstruction and better economic conditions in Gaza."
"Control of what's coming in and out of Gaza would be strictly supervised," he added. PA President Mahmoud Abbas can play a limited role, "but we can't say that we can fully trust just [Abbas]. It has got to be something more robust than [Abbas' security] forces."
Kuperwasser said he was confident that the current ceasefire would hold longer than previous such efforts. "Hamas has realized not only that they're not gaining anything from the continuation of the fire, but that they're losing a lot." (Times of Israel)
- Hamas Still Has 2-3 Tunnels into Israel - Yoav Zitun
Even as the IDF Southern Command said that "southern residents can return to their homes and feel safe," some sources believe that Hamas still retains two to three tunnels into Israel.
On Tuesday a senior officer said: "We are tracking Hamas which is under great duress from within and without....We have hit the decisive majority of the tunnels in Hamas' hands. Hamas invested tens of millions into this tunnel system and was preparing other significant measures, which all went to waste." He stressed that "the operation led to a severe hit on (Hamas') infrastructure and capabilities."
Southern Command head Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman said:
"We found whole homes and streets booby-trapped, we encountered anti-tank missiles, mortar fire, sniper fire, and close-quarters combat....In every place where we operated, our forces [were able to] successfully subdue the enemy and to defeat him, to cope with his capabilities and neutralize them. Our forces won in every area, achieved their objectives with great success." (Ynet News)
- Leader in Murder of Israeli Teens Arrested, Admits Receiving Funding from Hamas in Gaza - Aviel Magnezi
Hossam Kawasmeh, arrested on July 11, has admitted to leading the cell which abducted and murdered Israeli teens Gil-Ad Schaer, Eyal Yifrach, and Naftali Frenkel, it was released for publication on Tuesday. Kawasmeh received funding for the terror attack from Hamas members in Gaza. (Ynet News)
- Palestinian Stabs Israeli Security Guard Near Jerusalem - Noam Dvir
A Palestinian stabbed a security guard at the entrance to Ma'ale Adumim on Tuesday.
See also Stabbed Guard: It's a Good Thing the Terrorist Didn't Enter the City - Noam Dvir
Avraham Yair, 63, the security guard who was stabbed by a terrorist in Ma'ale Adumim, said Wednesday, "I tried to get away from him, but the knife was too big. He stabbed me and ran." "I was standing a meter and a half away from him; he was with a black plastic bag. I asked him what's in the bag and he pretended to search for something in it, but in reality he was preparing to attack me."
I "feel like I'm guarding my kids and grandkids. It's a good thing we checked him carefully and that he stabbed me rather than go into the mall and stab children and other people." (Ynet News)
- ICC Says It Has No Jurisdiction over Crimes Committed on Palestinian Territory
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, told Riyad Al-Maliki, the Foreign Minister of Palestine, on Tuesday: "Palestine is not a State Party to the Rome Statute; neither has the Court received any official document from Palestine indicating acceptance of ICC jurisdiction.... Therefore, the ICC has no jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed on the territory of Palestine." (KUNA-Kuwait)
- IDF Soldier: "When the Residents of the Gaza Border Communities Can Sleep Peacefully, I'll Feel Like We've Won" - Itay Blumental
"They say we're a spoiled generation, but we've proven now that you could count on us," Ariel, a Golani brigade fighter, said. "Only when the residents of the Gaza border communities can sleep peacefully, will I feel like we've won." (Ynet News)
- Iran Watches Israel Knock Down Hamas Missiles - Victor Davis Hanson
In the current war, Israel has found a method of inflicting as much damage on Hamas as it finds politically and strategically useful without suffering intolerable losses. And because the war is seen as existential - aiming rockets at a civilian population will do that - Israeli public opinion will largely support the effort to retaliate.
The more the world sees of the elaborate tunnels and vast missile arsenals that an impoverished Hamas had built with other people's money, and the more these military assets proved entirely futile in actual war, the more Hamas appears not just foolish but incompetent.
Iran is watching the war, and its surrogate is not doing well. There is no particular reason why an Israeli anti-missile system could not knock down an Iranian missile. The writer is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
- America's Moral Compass - Daniel Gordis
Israelis are painfully aware of the horrific human suffering on the Gazan side of the border, and most of us regret it deeply. But while hiding behind Gazans, in mosques and hospitals, Hamas fired 3,300 rockets into Israel and sent terrorists through tunnels to murder and kidnap Israelis. What would America have done if it faced the same mortal danger?
So why the utter even-handedness? Whatever faults one may find with Israel's policy vis-a-vis Gaza, why could America's leadership not highlight the conflict's critical moral dimension? Hamas, a genocidal terrorist organization hell-bent on the destruction of Israel, is pure evil. America can't say that? What if Hamas vanquished the IDF? Does anyone doubt what would happen to Israel or to the more than six million Jews who live here? The writer is senior vice president at Shalem College in Jerusalem.
(New York Times)
- Egypt: Guarantor for Hamas' Conduct? - Zvi Bar'el
Egypt was the one to announce the cease-fire in Gaza. Egyptian sources said the cease-fire was conditioned on Israel agreeing to withdraw all its forces from Gaza. By making this demand, Egypt has accepted not only the role of mediator, but also the role of guarantor for Hamas' conduct. Any fire from Hamas or other Palestinian factions in Gaza will now be a black mark against Egypt.
Hamas currently has a vested interest in rehabilitating its relationship with Egypt, which controls the Rafah border crossing, a vital lifeline that Hamas desperately needs reopened. Cairo has an interest in maintaining ties with Hamas, as long as it remains the ruling power in Gaza, in order to neutralize the involvement of Qatar, Turkey and Iran in an issue over which Egypt has always held a monopoly.
- Are Gazans Still Standing Firm? - Amira Hass
When the cease-fire went into effect, R. returned to his neighborhood near the border. He said: "Journalists asked me, 'So you're standing firm?' And I asked, what standing firm are you talking about? We're standing...on the rubble of our homes. That's standing firm?" "One mustn't express an opinion about the war. They'll make you trouble if you say anything. I speak my mind, but others, if they say what they think, they'll say they're collaborators, or they'll beat them or even kill them."
"And what did we do? Since the first Egyptian [cease-fire] initiative - if they'd signed it, there would be 1,600 or 1,700 fewer people dead and none of this destruction. My house would still be standing. But 75 martyrs wouldn't have brought any money to them or to Gaza. They waited until they could get money."
M.'s house in Beit Lahia remained practically intact.
He said: "There's almost no house that hasn't been hit by a missile. If Hamas doesn't accept the PLO's proposals now, support and solidarity with them will disappear." (Ha'aretz)
- Gazans Are Responsible for Their Suffering - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland
The fact that we are fighting with one hand and supplying food and energy to the enemy state with the other hand is absurd. This generosity strengthens and extends the ability of the enemy state of Gaza to fight us. Hamas is the authentic representative of the population there. It rose to power following democratic elections and built an impressive military ability with the residents' support. The Gazans' suffering is not the result of Israeli pressure but of their support, through their elected government, for an armed struggle.
As soon as the fire ceases, we will be under heavy pressure to open up the crossings, restore the electricity lines, and help rebuild buildings and infrastructure. Israel should agree, but only if the other side agrees to demilitarize Gaza of heavy weapons. We are dealing with an enemy state, not with a terror organization which is seemingly operating from within an innocent civilian population. The writer is a former head of Israel's National Security Council.
- Reconstruction in Return for Demilitarization - Zvi Hauser
Even after the destruction of the Hamas tunnels, the main goal of Operation Protective Edge remains unchanged: A strategic change in Gaza. The operation cannot be concluded without achieving a real change in the balance of power in favor of Israel, which will be based on effective demilitarization.
A rare strategic opportunity has been created: a dismantled Syria, a Hizbullah confined to a different front, an Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood trauma, and an Israeli national unity creating rare national strength. All these will not repeat themselves and are making a different kind of achievement possible.
Israel must make it clear, as soon as possible, that Gaza's reconstruction will be attached to the Strip's effective demilitarization: If a cement and concrete truck enters from the Israeli side, a rocket truck exits from the Egyptian side. There are thousands of rockets and tens of thousands of mortar shells left in Gaza. The extent of the reconstruction must be linked to the depth of the demilitarization. The writer served as Israel's cabinet secretary (2009-2013).
- West Encouraging Terror with "Massacre" Claims - Ben-Dror Yemini
In France, it's the president and foreign minister who are using the word "massacre," thereby not only helping Hamas score points but also encouraging the jihadists on Paris' streets. British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that every arms deals with Israel would be reviewed thoroughly. Another achievement for Hamas.
France and Britain were in the exact same situation when NATO planes bombed Belgrade and its surroundings. A hospital, a retirement home and a refugee camp suffered direct hits. On April 15, 1999, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook reacted to the targeting of innocent people: "How dare they now produce crocodile tears for people killed in the conflict for which they are responsible." In 2012 in the bombardments against the Libyan regime, innocent people were killed. Amnesty demanded an investigation. NATO ignored it.
But when it comes to Israel, the West supports Israel's right to defend itself, as long as it goes to war with its hands tied.
- Hamas Doctrine: Detest Israel - Ken Stein
Anyone who believes that Hamas' current fundamental beliefs are flexible enough to recognize Israel or that the organization will ultimately give up arms as a long-term political concession is simply naive. As it has in the past, Hamas may accept a tahdi'a or calming down of tensions, or even a temporary truce or hudna, but for it to accept Israel as a reality is totally contrary to its ideological outlook.
Discussions about cease-fires and who broke any number of them masks Hamas' stated intentions. "Removing occupation" for Hamas currently means Israel's destruction, not merely withdrawal from Gaza or the West Bank or Jerusalem.
Just as al-Qaeda seeks the total destruction of Western democracies, Hamas seeks Israel's total demise.
Since its inception in 1988, Hamas has been crystal clear about its opposition to Zionism and Israel. It opposes any kind of negotiations or agreements that recognize Israel's reality.
The writer is Professor of Contemporary Middle Eastern History and Political Science at Emory University.
(Times of Israel)
- Why Islamic State Has No Sympathy for Hamas - Ali Mamouri
Most of today's Salafist jihadist movements have no interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On July 22, the Egyptian Salafist sheikh Talaat Zahran declared that it is inappropriate to aid the people of Gaza because they are equivalent to Shiites since they follow them, referring to Hizbullah and Iran. For Salafists, the purification of Islamic society takes priority over combat against non-Islamic societies.
This approach has its roots in Islamic history. The first caliphate of Abu Bakr gave priority to fighting apostates over expanding Islamic conquests. Likewise, Saladin fought the Shiites and suppressed them before he engaged the Crusaders in the Holy Land.
During the current war in Gaza, a number of IS fighters have burned the Palestinian flag because they consider it a symbol of the creation of an independent political state. In Salafist doctrine, the entire Islamic world must be united under a single state, an Islamic caliphate, which IS declared in June. (Al-Monitor)
Washington Needs to Help Cut Off Outside Aid to Hamas - Jonathan Schanzer (New York Times)
- To help bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Washington must bring an end to the activities of outside malefactors who fan the flames of this conflict by supporting violent Palestinian radical groups like Hamas.
- One good place to start would be Qatar, which provides Hamas a range of support, from financial backing to political cover to an external headquarters in Doha.
- Similarly, Turkey must be held to account for its ongoing material and political support to Hamas, as well as sheltering at least one known Hamas operative.
- More important, Iran must be held to account for its weapons smuggling, weapons training, Islamist indoctrination and the financing of terrorism.
- Gaza is now set to receive billions of dollars in international aid to help rebuild after the war. This will need to be monitored carefully, to ensure that funds are not diverted - as they have been in recent years - to buy rockets, build commando tunnels or prepare for the next round of conflict.
The writer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department, is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
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