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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
August 13, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Envoy to Iran: "Israel's Annihilation Has Begun" (Fars-Iran)
    Palestinian Ambassador to Tehran Salah al-Zawawi told a gathering in Tehran in support of the Gaza people on Tuesday:
    "Israel's annihilation has begun and the new generation in Iran will certainly witness our victory over Israel."
    On Monday, the Hamas representative in Tehran Khaled Al-Qadoumi told a similar gathering: "We hope to be able to make our missiles more advanced with the help of the knowledgeable Iranians."

After War with Israel, More Gazans Question Hamas Decisions - Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post)
    Ziad Abu Halool of Beit Lahiya in Gaza says he is tired of seeing his neighborhood destroyed after watching Hamas and other Palestinian militants fire rockets into Israel. He says that although he despises Israel, he also blames Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups for his woes.
    More and more Gazans are questioning the decisions and strategies of Hamas. Most of the disapproval is still beneath the surface, but discontent is bubbling up openly.
    "All the people are whispering, 'Why didn't Hamas accept the Egyptian initiative in the beginning of the war when the casualties were still low?'" said Hani Habib, a Palestinian journalist and political analyst.

    See also Some Palestinians Question Fighting for the Cause - Adania Shibli (Washington Post)
    Adania Shibli, a visiting professor at Birzeit University's Institute of Women's Studies and Cultural Studies, describes the mood of her Palestinian students in the West Bank:
    "My students want to finish their studies, find jobs, get married, [and] buy cars and flats, now that mortgages have been introduced by Palestinian banks. They'd rather not waste their futures fighting for a cause that is proving to be a lost one."
    "'What had we gained from all our repeated intifadas?' some ask. The quest for national liberation, which many have lost hope in, is now eclipsed by the quest for personal, mostly economic, gains."

Israel: No White Phosphorous Fired in Gaza War - Dan Williams (Reuters)
    Israel fired almost five times more artillery shells into Gaza during the last month of fighting than in the 2008-2009 war there but did not use controversial white phosphorous this time, IDF artillery chief Brig.-Gen. Roy Riftin said Tuesday.
    Israeli gunners masked troop advances with locally-made M116 "gray smoke" rounds that contain no white phosphorous.
    Smoke produced by M116 shells disperses more quickly than white phosphorous smoke, so more of them had to be used, Riftin said, putting the number at around half of some 34,000 artillery rounds his corps fired since July 8, as well as hundreds of camera-guided Tammuz ground-to-ground missiles.
    Riftin said that, in the current fighting, heavier shelling with high-explosive rounds was required to dislodge Palestinians who, though outgunned, were more effectively dug in and killed 64 Israeli troops in urban combat.
    "In the places where we had to protect our forces, because they were under huge risk, we did what was necessary," he said.

Syrian Forces Advance on Aleppo - Maria Abi-Habib (Wall Street Journal)
    Syrian government forces have nearly encircled Aleppo, Syria's largest city and economic hub.
    Losing the city of Homs in May was a tremendous blow to the rebels. If they lose the battle for Aleppo as well, it could spell the end of their revolt.
    Simultaneously, extremists with the Islamic State are encroaching on rebel-held territory north of the city, uprooting the Western-backed Free Syrian Army from the countryside.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Egypt Presents Proposal to End War in Gaza - Mohammed Daraghmeh
    Egypt presented a proposed cease-fire to Israel and Hamas aimed at ending the month-long war, Palestinian officials said early Wednesday. They said Egypt's proposal calls for easing parts of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, but leaves key areas of disagreement to later negotiations. The current cease-fire is set to expire at midnight on Wednesday. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said he did not know if there would be a deal by Wednesday night and warned that fighting could resume. (AP-ABC News)
        See also Israel, Hamas Talks Over Gaza Deadlocked - Joshua Mitnick, Asa Fitch and Adam Entous (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Palestinian Official: No Hamas Decision to End the War - Avi Issacharoff
    A senior member of the Palestinian delegation to the cease-fire talks in Cairo said Tuesday, "I'm still not sure that there's a Hamas decision to end this war....There's a major disagreement between the Hamas leadership in Qatar, headed by Khaled Mashaal, and the leadership in Gaza. Doha [Qatar] is pushing Mashaal all the time not to agree to the Egyptian formula."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Talk of a Deal May Be Unduly Optimistic - Avi Issacharoff
    Reports in Israeli and Palestinian media about a breakthrough or an emerging draft agreement seem unduly optimistic. The problems stem from Hamas' more far-reaching demands. Egypt is currently primarily focused on extending the cease-fire by another 72 hours, which Hamas currently opposes. (Times of Israel)
  • Fatah Boasts of Killing Israelis - Paul Alster
    Hopes that Fatah will be a calming influence on Hamas have been tempered by messages the supposedly more moderate wing of Palestinian leadership is sending to its international audience and its West Bank constituents - including boasting on its Facebook page of the number of Israelis it has killed. In a post seemingly aimed at reminding Palestinians it hates Israel as much as Hamas, the belligerent Facebook message - containing fabricated statistics - on its official home page claims "Fatah has killed 11,000 Israelis; Fatah has sacrificed 170,000 martyrs."
        Gilead Sher, head of the Center for Applied Negotiations at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said double talk from Fatah has long been standard procedure. "In the past we've seen numerous times that the PA spoke in different languages saying different things. There was the language for satisfying Western listeners, then another language, usually in Arabic, that was made to satisfy Arabic speakers. More importantly, we have seen them on several occasions resorting to terrorism, violence, and acts of indiscriminately aiming at civilians in order to attain more than they could at that point in time around the negotiation table."  (Fox News)
  • Israel Targeted Gaza Mosques Used for Terror - Hamza Hendawi
    Gaza's Al-Qassam Mosque in Nuseirat was one of 63 that Israel destroyed in its war with Hamas, according to Palestinian officials. Israel says Hamas used mosques to stockpile weapons and rocket launchers, to hide tunnel access shafts and lookout posts, and to hold military strategy sessions. It says that Hamas fired 160 rockets at Israel from mosques, and posted video clips showing Israeli troops uncovering weapons caches inside mosques. "It was Hamas that intentionally chose to establish its offensive capabilities within these premises, rendering them a legitimate target," the IDF said.
        Israeli counterterrorism expert Jonathan Fighel of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism explained: "Cynically, they are using those places in order, first of all, to feel immune that they will not be targeted. And then if the place is targeted, they can scream and shout and say that the attacking side was violating the sanctity of worship."  (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: Appointment of Outspoken Critic of Israel as Chair of Gaza Commission of Inquiry a "Travesty of Justice"
    Israel's Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon regarding the appointment of William Schabas to chair the Gaza commission of inquiry: "Yesterday, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) set a new record for anti-Israel bias....It is a complete travesty of justice to invite one of the most outspoken critics of Israel to serve as its judge and jury. This is like inviting ISIS to chair the UN's World Interfaith Harmony Week."
        "William Schabas...has repeatedly called for the prosecution of Prime Minister Netanyahu and former President Shimon Peres....In light of his hate-fuelled rants, one doesn't need to be a fortune teller to predict the outcome of any inquiry led by Mr. Schabas."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Egypt Thwarts Rocket Fire Directed at Israel
    The Hebrew website Walla reported that Egyptian security forces in northern Sinai on Tuesday seized a launcher with three Grad rockets that were ready to be launched into Israel. State security officials told Egypt's Al Masry al Youm that the plan was for radical Islamists to shoot the rockets into Israel from the launcher, located south of Rafah. (Walla-Hebrew)
  • In Jerusalem, Rising Arab Violence Against Jews
    Violence against Jews living in primarily Arab east Jerusalem neighborhoods nearly doubled last month compared to the same period last year, with over 360 assaults against Jews reported in July, according to a report released by the Israel Police and the Housing Ministry on Monday. More than 70 attacks took place on the final night of Ramadan late last month. The majority of the assaults were by masked youths and young adults throwing powerful firecrackers, rocks and firebombs at the homes and cars of Jewish residents. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Condemnation of Israel Prevents Peace - Hilik Bar
    The international response to Israel's defensive actions against terrorism is disturbingly familiar, and it is galvanizing the Israeli public against making further compromises to their security for the sake of peace. This experience is driving yet another nail into the coffin of Israeli-Palestinian peace, as global condemnation of Israel becomes increasingly disconnected from realistic expectations of how a sovereign nation should handle terrorist rockets raining down on its cities.
        With no better solution to offer Israel for the protection of its population, international opinion becomes increasingly irrelevant to Israel's government and alienates moderate Israelis who would support political and territorial concessions to the Palestinians - but not at the cost of their personal safety.
        That the Gaza war, one of many raging in the world today, has yielded one of the lowest rates of civilian casualties, and showcased some of the most valiant efforts in the history of modern warfare to protect the other side's innocents, seems to matter not one whit to Israel's critics. Israel scrupulously abides by the laws of war.
        Israelis have watched the hypocritical international reaction and have concluded that Israel's very real security concerns are not taken seriously. Israel has a right to defend itself, we are told, but apparently this is a right that exists only in theory, not in practice.
        Consider the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, during which right-wingers warned that Gaza would turn into a launching pad for rockets against Israeli cities. Israel's left, and the international community, regarded the idea as preposterous. That laughable idea has become reality. Now rockets are raining down on Tel Aviv and beyond. The writer is deputy speaker of the Knesset and Secretary-General of the Israeli Labor party. (Forbes)
  • Tunnels as War Crime - Daphne Richemond-Barak
    The tunnels built by Hamas in Gaza present novel issues for international law. Gaza's tunnels burrow under an internationally recognized border, they traverse civilian areas, and their primary objective and effect - contrary to international law - is to harm and endanger civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian. Most tunnel digging begins within homes, hospitals, mosques and other "protected objects." Filled with explosives and weapons, tunnels can detonate at any time, risking the lives of the civilians living above them.
        For these reasons, the construction of combat tunnels under civilian populated areas and protected sites like hospitals, across borders, and/or with the intention of maiming civilians must be regarded as a violation of international law. The writer is assistant professor at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at IDC Herzliya. (Times of Israel)
  • The Myth of an Israeli Siege on Gaza
    There is no Israeli "siege" on Gaza, which also shares a border with Egypt. That country, and not Israel, controls the Rafah crossing into Gaza - the main connection for Gazans to the rest of the world. For the past four years all goods are allowed to enter Gaza from Israel, except for weapons and a short list of dual-use items which can be exploited by terrorists.
        Even during the latest hostilities in Gaza, an international journalist reported on shopping at one of Gaza's supermarkets, which offered "all kinds of goods." Given the free entry of almost all goods, it is impossible to legitimately claim that Gaza is under siege.
        In the first five months of 2014, 60,000 individuals entered Israel from Gaza. Many were patients and their escorts who came for medical treatment in Israel and elsewhere, while large numbers of Gazan businessmen and merchants also visited Israel. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Hamas Lies, and the Media Believed It - Oren Kessler (U.S. News)

  • Hamas lies systematically, instructing civilians to misinform the foreign press. It lies habitually, with a formidable record of mendacity from previous conflicts. And it lies guiltlessly, convinced that the objectives of "resistance" supersede quaint notions of truth-telling.
  • Nonetheless, since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge over a month ago, Western media have relied on Gaza's Hamas-run Health Ministry for casualty tallies. Hamas Health Minister Ashraf Al-Qidra has acknowledged that he considers any fatality who not been claimed by an armed group as a civilian. And Hamas almost never admits its operatives have been killed - and instructs Gazans to do the same. Consequently, Qidra's running total labels 3/4 of Gaza deaths as civilians. The result has been thundering condemnation of Israel.
  • After nearly a month, however, the media has belatedly cottoned to the Hamas game. Over the last week the New York Times, Al Jazeera and the BBC - none of them traditional redoubts of Zionist fervor - have begun casting doubt on their own previously reported statistics. Al Jazeera published the names - provided by the Hamas Health Ministry - of all of 1,507 known fatalities. Men of combat age are disproportionately represented.
  • The BBC released its own breakdown, based on data provided by the UN. The conclusion: "If the Israeli attacks have been 'indiscriminate,' as the UN Human Rights Council says, it is hard to work out why they have killed so many more civilian men than women."
  • Objective analysis of the available data reveals that the civilian proportion of deaths appears closer to half. Hundreds of dead civilians are hardly reason to celebrate, but a 1-to-1 civilian casualty ratio is remarkably low by the grim standards of war. Coalition efforts in Afghanistan produced a 3-to-1 ratio, and 4-to-1 in Iraq.
  • Hamas mendacity is old news. During its first major clash with Israel in 2008-09, it claimed that fewer than 50 of the dead had been combatants. Years later, it conceded that the total had been identical to that acknowledged by Israel: between 600 and 700.

    The writer is a Middle East research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society in London.

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