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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
August 7, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Threatens to Resume Attacks - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas warned Wednesday that it would resume its attacks on Israel unless Jerusalem accepts all Palestinian demands.
    Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official, told Al Jazeera that "our finger is still on the trigger" if Palestinian demands are not met. "Our rockets are still ready to hit all areas [inside Israel]."

Cairo Truce Talks Could Radically Reshuffle Hamas Deck - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
    The tactics used by Egypt during the Gaza crisis point to a trend of neutralizing certain centers of power in Hamas while strengthening others.
    The Egyptians vetoed participation in the Palestinian delegation to Cairo of some of Hamas' most prominent figures, including the head of its political bureau, Khaled Meshal, and Ismail Haniyeh, the former Gaza prime minister. Nor would it allow the heads of Hamas' military wing to come.
    Egypt sees Hamas' military wing - and perhaps even Haniyeh himself - as partners in the terror attacks against Egyptian policemen and soldiers in Sinai. Egypt did, however, welcome the involvement of Meshal's deputy, Mousa Abu Marzook, the only Hamas leader who lives in Cairo.

U.S. Soldier Shot in Sinai (AFP-Daily Star-Lebanon)
    A U.S. soldier with the Multinational Force and Observers mission in Egypt's Sinai was wounded in the arm when gunmen shot at his camp near the northern Sinai village of Al-Joura on Monday, a security official said.

A Soldier Returns from Gaza - Mitch Ginsburg (Times of Israel)
    First Sgt. Max, from Great Neck, New York, joined the IDF through the Machal program - a 14-month service for foreign volunteers. He chose to serve in the Golani Brigade.
    "We spent a week inside [Gaza]," he said, "and didn't see a single person." They heard the air force strikes ahead of them and the artillery all around. They took fire "from every direction" and barreled out of their armored vehicles when they reached tunnel shafts, but they never saw the enemy's face.
    His own platoon leader was wounded along with several other soldiers and, in the absence of an officer, he was given command of the platoon. Suddenly, all eyes were on him.
    He led from the front, like all low-to-mid-level Israeli officers, and realized that "every movement I make, everything I do, will impact them in the most significant way." A twitch of fear, a moment's hesitation - all would be picked up on immediately by the troops.
    He said that despite the intensity of the battle in Shejaiya, the most memorable moments of the war were the reception the soldiers received from the rural communities of Kfar Maimon and Nir Moshe, near Gaza.
    People came from everywhere, carrying home-cooked food and insisting on feeding them. Adults took mops from their hands and cleaned the bathrooms for them. "There's nothing like that anywhere else in the world," he said.

"White Shrouds" Mobilize Against ISIS in Syria - Marlin Dick (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    Last month's sweeping territorial gains by militants from ISIS in Syria's Deir al-Zor province have generated a fierce counter-offensive by locals, organized loosely in "popular resistance" groups. Small, clandestine groups calling themselves "white shrouds" have adopted a low-profile tactic of assassinating ISIS militants and attacking their positions.
    In the last few weeks a string of small-scale, hit-and-run attacks have been reported in more than half a dozen villages between Deir al-Zor and the border town of Al-Bukamal, where a demonstration by residents against ISIS late last month was dispersed by gunfire.
    Some supporters of the movement against ISIS are referring to the actions as a "tribal intifada." An observer said ISIS was largely to blame for the counter-offensive because it had violated the non-aggression pacts struck with locals.
    Referring to areas purported to be under ISIS control in northern and eastern Syria, the observer said: "You can't control a population of 5 or 6 million people with a few thousand fighters unless you adhere to your agreement with them - otherwise, you'll need fighters everywhere."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israeli Premier Voices Regret for Civilian Casualties, But Blames Hamas - Isabel Kershner
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel deeply regretted every civilian casualty in Gaza but that Hamas must be held accountable for the loss of life. "A full 90% of the fatalities in this conflict could have been avoided had Hamas not rejected then the cease-fire that it accepts now," Netanyahu said. (New York Times)
        See also below Observations - Netanyahu: Hamas' Human Shield Strategy Is a Test for the Civilized World (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Obama: Hamas Deliberately Sites Rocket Launchers in Population Centers
    President Barack Obama said Wednesday: "I have said from the beginning that no country would tolerate rockets being launched into their cities. And as a consequence, I have consistently supported Israel's right to defend itself, and that includes doing what it needs to do to prevent rockets from landing on population centers and, more recently, as we learned, preventing tunnels from being dug under their territory that can be used to launch terrorist attacks. I also think it is important to remember that Hamas acts extraordinarily irresponsibly when it is deliberately siting rocket launchers in population centers, putting populations at risk because of that particular military strategy."
        "We intend to support the process that's taking place in Egypt. I think the short-term goal has to be to make sure that rocket launches do not resume, that the work that the Israeli government did in closing off these tunnels has been completed, and that we are now in the process of helping to rebuild a Gaza that's been really badly damaged as a consequence of this conflict. Long term, there has to be a recognition that Gaza cannot sustain itself permanently closed off from the world."  (White House)
  • A Part of Hamas Negotiates, and Another May Fight Again - David D. Kirkpatrick
    Israel is coming to the negotiating table demanding that Hamas surrender its weapons completely - what Israel calls the "demilitarization" of Hamas' stronghold, Gaza. Without disarmament, Israel says, it will not ease its blockade of the territory. Egypt, the broker of the talks, has now joined Israel in pushing to cripple the militant group.
        But Mousa Abu Marzook, a senior Hamas political leader, said Hamas would keep its military wing distinct - and allow it to prepare for another war with Israel. He insisted that the Hamas fighters would remain outside the new unity government's control. But if Hamas succeeds in keeping its Qassam Brigades independent and viable, that would appear to portend new clashes with Israel. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • EU Powers Propose Gaza Reconstruction in Exchange for Hamas Disarmament - Barak Ravid
    Germany, France and Britain presented Israel with an initiative to rehabilitate Gaza, subject to an international supervision apparatus that will prevent the rearmament of Hamas. Three senior European diplomats gave a document of principles for an international agreement to Israeli National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
        The principles include preventing the armament and strengthening of Hamas and the rest of the terror organizations in Gaza, rehabilitating Gaza in cooperation with the international community, and setting up an international mechanism to prevent the entry of prohibited materials and ensuring that materials such as cement and iron do not reach the terror organizations. (Ha'aretz)
  • Some Gazans Want Hamas to Resume Fighting - Avi Issacharoff
    The quiet is deceptive, Sameh, a prominent political analyst in Gaza, said Wednesday. "It's not over yet. Hamas is under a lot of pressure to return to fighting if Egypt and Israel don't allow the blockade to be lifted."
        "Those who have lost their children and relatives actually want the fighting to continue. So do those whose houses were destroyed. They don't have anything to lose anymore, and they are pressuring [Hamas] not to stop now unless the blockade is lifted completely. On the other hand, those whose houses are still standing want it to end."
        "You are sorely mistaken if you think it's over. Have you seen any of the Hamas top brass leave the bunkers? From the political or the military wing? Yesterday, they said in no uncertain terms: We're in the middle stage, not at the end of the war. And they are already preparing for the renewal of the clashes. They can't stop now without a significant achievement in Cairo."  (Times of Israel)
  • How Israel Sees the Aftermath of the Gaza War - Amos Harel
    Israel reiterates that Hamas' intransigence has cost it dearly. It achieved after 1,800 dead in Gaza what it could have achieved after 200 dead. Defense officials say Israel's insistence on the Egyptian channel has proved itself. The U.S. has stopped flirting with the Qatari plan, and the clash between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary of State Kerry has prevented Washington from imposing an American diktat. Jerusalem has avoided an agreement that wouldn't have let the army destroy all the tunnels.
        Israeli officials realize that no international force is going to be stationed in Gaza to collect the rockets from Hamas storehouses, as was done with Syria's chemical weapons. But they do plan for security coordination with Egypt to prevent the resumption of weapons smuggling through the tunnels, and to take more care inspecting incoming materials that could be used to make weapons.
        Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman, the head of Southern Command, said Tuesday that, in any agreement, Israel has to demand the right to deal with new tunnels, even if that means a raid inside Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel to UN: Hamas Must Be Disarmed, Gaza Must Be Demilitarized
    Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor told a UN General Assembly special session on Gaza on Wednesday: Every day we are confronted by stories of radical Islamic terrorism: ISIS is purging Iraq of Christians, Boko Haram has kidnapped school girls in Nigeria, Al-Shabab gunmen are raiding fishing villages on the Somali coast. And yet this Assembly does not utter a word. It can only muster its outrage when Israel acts to defend its citizens.
        It might be too much to ask you to stand on our side in this battle between civilization and barbarism. But at least have the decency to swallow your selective outrage as Israel wages war against the extremist groups, seeking to eradicate the values that we all hold very dear.
        The Arab nations, backed by some members of the non-aligned movement, may have the numbers, but they don't have the morals. They use the majority to convene special sessions, issue condemnations, and push through resolutions demonizing Israel. In fact, I won't be surprised if the Arab states pass a resolution saying that the terror tunnels were actually simply an irrigation system, and that the rockets were nothing more than shooting stars.
        There is only one way to achieve sustained quiet in Israel and build a peaceful and prosperous Gaza. Hamas must be disarmed, Gaza must be demilitarized. And the international community must divorce itself from the romantic notion of Hamas as "freedom fighters." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israel Has a Duty to Defend Its Citizens - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    Israel is a democratic country that wishes to live in peace with its neighbors, but cannot escape a duty to defend its citizens. Hamas is a terrorist group whose whole reason for being is genocide. It is dedicated to the extermination of the State of Israel and to the extinction of all Jews, whom it refers to as "inherently evil."
        Hamas operates by creating grief and then exploiting it. It places missile batteries next to playgrounds, private homes, and mosques - inviting retaliation. It uses UN facilities as weapons depots. Hamas sacrificed the Palestinian people for its ideological cause. Its attack was specifically designed to produce images of dead and injured Palestinians for television. Having more dead on your side does not make you right. It didn't make Japan or Germany right in World War II.
        The American public is on tricky ground judging Israel on how it treats Palestinians, because we don't have Palestinians threatening us. We can't possibly know how we would cope with rockets, kidnappings and neighbors preaching annihilation. We must ask ourselves what we would do under a situation like this, living in a very small territory and with the constant threat of annihilation. The Jews of Israel have learned in the most barbaric way imaginable that the price of being too strong is not as high as the price of being too weak. (U.S. News)
  • Making the Gaza Cease-Fire Last - Editorial
    Hamas knowingly targeted Israeli civilian centers in violation of any civilized standard and launched weapons from populated areas in what looks like a deliberate effort to draw Israeli fire on innocents. Political officials of Hamas were crowing about its determination to regroup and attack again.
        Rocket attacks into Israel by Hamas and other extremist groups must stop, along with other terrorist attacks. So does the smuggling of weapons into Gaza and the production of a new supply of rockets. There will need to be an international donors' conference to rebuild Gaza, but with assurances that Hamas will not divert money for civilian projects into rockets and tunnels.
        If any agreements come out of Cairo, they must be designed to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, by managing whatever funds are donated to Gaza. It may be necessary to have Hamas in Cairo, but the group offers Palestinians nothing except nihilism and endless suffering. (New York Times)
  • There Is No "Cycle of Violence" in Gaza; Hamas Is Trying to Annihilate Israel - Ephraim Mirvis
    What we have witnessed in Gaza is not a conflict between Israel and the Palestinians but a war between Israel and Hamas - a ruthless terrorist organization. Within the last month alone, Hamas has fired over 3,000 missiles at population centers in Israel. Hamas does not distinguish between Jew, Muslim and Christian, so hell-bent is it on killing Israelis.
        Hamas has been diverting humanitarian funds donated by us, the international community, intended to assist and enhance quality of life for the people of Gaza. These funds have instead been used to perpetuate terror and hate. Concrete and other materials intended for the building of vital infrastructure have been expropriated by Hamas to build a network of tunnels for use in the murder and kidnapping of Israelis.
        Hamas does not seek a two-state solution, or any kind of accommodation with Israel. Hamas' stated aim is the elimination of the Jewish state and all its Jewish citizens. As recently as July 25, Hamas warned, "We will exterminate you [Jews], until the last one, and we will not leave even one of you." The writer is the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Israel Might Have Won; Hamas Certainly Lost - David Horovitz
    Whether or not Israel "won" - attaining "sustained calm" for its people - will be determined by the negotiations now taking place in Cairo. But Hamas certainly lost. Three weeks ago, with its rocket capacity largely intact, its fighting forces completely intact, the tunnel network it had spent seven years building intact, and most of the Gaza it claims to represent intact, it rejected an unconditional ceasefire. On Tuesday, with most of its rockets used to relatively little effect, hundreds of its gunmen dead, 32 of its major tunnels smashed, and Gaza devastated, it pleaded for the very same unconditional ceasefire. That constitutes defeat.
        The world is very angry with Israel. It holds Israel primarily accountable for the devastation in Gaza. But for what it's worth, Israelis most of the way across the spectrum honestly aren't too conflicted. They are not insensitive to the terrible death toll and devastation in Gaza; they just know that Israel didn't provoke it, and believe Israel's leaders and armed forces tried to minimize it, in a war Israel didn't want but couldn't avoid. Few Israelis believe that any other country would have tackled the particularly pernicious Hamas strategy of using Gazans as human shields more carefully than the IDF did. (Times of Israel)

Netanyahu: Hamas' Human Shield Strategy Is a Test for the Civilized World (Prime Minister's Office)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a press conference on Wednesday:

  • The goal of Operation Protective Edge was to protect Israeli civilians. That means to protect our people from 3,500 rockets that Hamas and the other terrorist groups have fired on our cities, on our towns, on our civilians, on our children in the last month. The goal of this operation was to protect our people from the threat of terror tunnels built to send death squads into Israel, to commit terrorist atrocities against Israel's civilians, to kidnap and to kill.
  • Israel deeply regrets every civilian casualty. We do not target them; we do not seek them. The people of Gaza are not our enemy. Our enemy is Hamas and the other terrorist organizations trying to kill our people. We've taken extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties.
  • The tragedy of Gaza is that it is ruled by Hamas - a tyrannical and fanatical terror group that relishes civilian casualties. They want civilian casualties. They use them as PR fodder. Indeed Hamas has adopted a strategy that abuses and sacrifices Gaza's civilians. They use them as human shields; they endanger them and deliberately increase the death toll. They fire their rockets at Israel from schools, from hospitals, from mosques.
  • This is a testing period now. Can a terrorist organization fire thousands of rockets at cities of a democracy? Can a terrorist organization embed itself in civilian areas? Can it dig terror tunnels from civilian areas? Can it do so with impunity because it counts on the victimized country to respond as it must, as any country would, and then be blamed for it? Can we accept a situation in which the terrorists would be exonerated and the victims accused? The test is for the civilized world itself, how it is able to defend itself.
  • Israel accepted and Hamas rejected the Egyptian ceasefire proposal of July 15th. At that time, the conflict had claimed some 185 lives. Only on Monday night did Hamas finally agree to that very same proposal. That means that a full 90% of the fatalities in this conflict could have been avoided had Hamas not rejected then the ceasefire that it accepts now.
  • Hamas must be held accountable for the tragic loss of life. It must be ostracized from the family of nations for its callous abuse of civilians, and Hamas must be prevented from rearming as part of Gaza's general demilitarization.

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