May 15, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas' March of Folly - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)
    Hamas failed on Monday. Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem didn't rise up to clash with Israeli security forces en masse.
    In Gaza, barely 40,000 protested at the border, nowhere near the 100,000 Hamas wanted.
    The Palestinians are talking about a "massacre," but EU politicians know the difference between a massacre and legitimate fire in self-defense.
    A massacre is a situation in which the helpless victims had no choice. But the Gazans had a choice - they could've not tried to breach the border fence, and then they wouldn't have been killed. They were also warned in advance in every possible way.
    The Gazans who were killed were not defending their homes from an Israeli invasion, they were trying to invade Israel.

Iran Transferring Funds to Hamas for Violent Action at Gaza Border (Israel Security Agency)
    Iran is transferring funds to Hamas for violent action at the Gaza border fence area.
    Hamas militants are taking an active part in the violence by wielding firebombs, knives and large wire-cutters.
    Hamas members supply Gaza residents with tires and assist them in setting them on fire in order to create thick smoke.
    Hamas members supply gasoline for the kite-borne firebombs designed to burn Israeli fields.

Iran Cleric Threatens Destruction of Israeli Cities - Amir Vahdat (AP)
    Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a prominent Iranian cleric, said Friday: "The holy system of the Islamic Republic will step up its missile capabilities day by day so that Israel, this occupying regime, will become sleepless and the nightmare will constantly haunt it that if it does anything foolish, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground."
    His remarks drew chants of "Death to America!" from those gathered.
    See also Israel: "We Would Like to Believe Iran Is Led by Reasonable Leaders" - Interview with Amb. Arye Mekel (Sputnik-Russia)
    Q: What is your take on Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami threatening Israel with destruction?
    Mekel: "Their threats just prove why we cannot allow the Iranians to have their positions in Syria, namely, they say clearly all the time that they want to destroy Israel."
    "Every time that they have their demonstrations chanting 'Death to America,' at the same time they chant 'Death to Israel," and that's why we will not allow them to have their positions in Syria from which they can attack us."
    "We would like to believe that Iran is led by serious or, anyway, reasonable leaders....If they continue to try to establish positions in Syria, and we don't allow it, they will pay the price....So, hopefully, they think it over and not try it anymore."
    Amb. Arye Mekel is a former spokesman for the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Al-Qaeda Chief Calls for Jihad on Eve of U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem (AFP-Telegraph-UK)
    Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, on Sunday urged Muslims to carry out jihad against the U.S. in a five-minute video entitled "Tel Aviv Is Also a Land of Muslims."
    He recalled that Bin Laden had declared the U.S. "the first enemy of the Muslims."

Iraqi Voters Strengthen Hand of Militia Leader Who Battled U.S. - Margaret Coker (New York Times)
    Moktada al-Sadr, a firebrand Shiite militia leader whose forces once battled American troops in Iraq, has emerged as the surprise front-runner in the Iraqi national elections.
    Sadr has remained vocally anti-American, though he has also been strongly critical of Iran.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • White House: Hamas to Blame for Gaza Violence, "A Gruesome, Unfortunate Propaganda Attempt" - Tessa Berenson
    White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said Monday that Hamas bears responsibility for the deaths of Palestinians at the border with Israel. "The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas. Israel has the right to defend itself." He referred to the Palestinian protests as a "rather cynical exploitation of the situation" and "a gruesome and unfortunate propaganda attempt."  (TIME)
        See also U.S. Blocks UN Security Council Statement Calling for Investigation into Gaza Violence - Amir Tibon
    The U.S. on Monday blocked a UN Security Council statement intended to call for an investigation of the events on the Israel-Gaza border. (Ha'aretz)
  • Australia Blames Hamas for Gaza Deaths - Primrose Riordan
    Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has blamed Hamas for the loss of life in Gaza on Monday. "Any loss of life like this is tragic in circumstances like this, but Hamas' conduct is confrontational. They're seeking to provoke the Israeli defense forces," Turnbull told 3AW Radio. "If they're pushing people to the border in that context, in that conflict zone, you're basically pushing people into circumstances where they are very likely to be shot at as Israel seeks to defend itself."
        Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, "We recognize that Israel has legitimate security concerns and needs to protect its population.... Australia urges Palestinian protesters to refrain from violence and attempting to enter into Israeli territory."  (The Australian)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem "a Great Day for Israel, a Great Day for America" - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    Prime Minister Netanyahu said Monday in Jerusalem: "Today, the embassy of the most powerful nation on earth, our greatest ally, the United States of America - today its embassy opened here....In Jerusalem, King David established our capital three thousand years ago. In Jerusalem, King Solomon built our Temple, which stood for many centuries. In Jerusalem, Jewish exiles from Babylon rebuilt the Temple, which stood for many more centuries. In Jerusalem, the Maccabees rededicated that Temple and restored Jewish sovereignty in this land....We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay."
        "You can only build peace on truth, and the truth is that Jerusalem has been and will always be the capital of the Jewish people, the capital of the Jewish state....May the opening of this embassy in this city spread the truth far and wide, and may the truth advance a lasting peace between Israel and all our neighbors."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Video: President Trump's Message at U.S. Embassy's Opening in Jerusalem (BBC News)
        See also Video: U.S. Embassy Opens in Jerusalem - Full Ceremony (Fox News)
  • 59 Palestinians Killed in Gaza Riots - Yoav Zitun and Elior Levy
    At least 59 Palestinians were killed Monday in violent clashes with the IDF on the border with Israel, according to Gaza sources. IDF planes and tanks attacked Hamas targets in Gaza following attempts to plant an explosive device on the fence and gunfire at soldiers. Defense officials said Hamas was offering Palestinian families in Gaza $100 if all family members took part in the protests. Schools were closed to encourage residents to join the protests and buses provided transportation to the border area. (Ynet News)
        See also List of Palestinian Attacks on Israel's Gaza Border on Monday
    Monday's violent clashes on the Gaza border occurred at 13 different spots. The following Palestinian attacks were recorded: 12:53pm - Five pipe bombs exploded. 12:58pm - Bomb exploded. 1:15pm - A terror cell sought to plant explosives by the border fence and opened fire at IDF forces. 1:30pm - Fire opened at IDF forces. 1:45pm - Fire opened at IDF forces by eight terrorists. 2:09pm - Three bombs exploded. 3:10pm - Bomb exploded. 7:02pm - Terrorists opened fire at IDF troops.
        17 kites carrying flammable materials were flown from Gaza into Israel, causing fires in 23 locations. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Behind the Riots in Gaza - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
    The "March of Return" is a declaration by the Palestinians that they are not ready to change their goal: the annihilation of Israel and its replacement by a Palestinian state. Even after Israel entirely withdrew from Gaza in 2005, most Palestinians were more interested in the battle against Israel than having better living standards for themselves. The first response must be a call to the Palestinians to conduct a reality check. They do not have the right to "return" and destroy Israel, and they will not be permitted to do so.
        Those people who claim they want to "return" are not refugees. They are Palestinians living in Palestinian territory under a Palestinian government that denies them the ability to have a better life and better housing because of its commitment to the struggle against Zionism.
        The real story of what is actually happening along the fence is terror activists from Hamas, guided and motivated by the Hamas leadership, are mobilizing brain-washed youth and using children and women as human shields as they seek to destroy the security fence. They knowingly ignore the security agreements between Israel and the Palestinian authorities that prohibit approaching the fence. The Palestinians know there are going to be casualties, and they embrace them because it helps build their victimhood narrative and fits their radical Islamist belief.
        Some present the violent riots as if they are motivated by the poor economic conditions created by Israel. If this was the reason, Palestinians would have not destroyed the Kerem Shalom border crossing and chosen Nakba Day for their riots. The writer is former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Division and a fellow at the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Upsurge in Gaza Violence Expected - Col. Richard Kemp
    The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas is intent on turning a "demonstration" this week into an orgy of death and bloodshed. Culminating six weeks of violence along the border, now they intend to pile the bodies higher still. Hamas claims that their purpose is to break through the Israeli border en masse, but they know they cannot achieve that.
        So the true and malevolent purpose of Hamas' plan is to incite violence in such a way that the IDF has no choice but to respond with lethal force, killing Gaza civilians. This makes Hamas the first government in history to deliberately lure its enemies to kill its own civilian population.
        The price paid in Palestinian blood of stopping border penetrations has so far been high and is likely to increase sharply this week. But imagine the consequences if the IDF failed to stop these crowds breaking through the fence. The nearest Israeli communities are just a few minutes' dash from the border by armed terrorists intent on mass murder. The writer commanded British forces in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans. (Gatestone Institute)
        See also Smoke and Mirrors: Six Weeks of Violence on the Gaza Border - Col. Richard Kemp
    Hamas' use of actual smoke and mirrors to conceal its aggressive maneuvering on the Gaza border is the perfect metaphor for a strategy that has no viable military purpose but seeks to deceive the international community into criminalizing a democratic state defending its citizens. The demonstrations are far from peaceful. They are carefully planned and orchestrated military operations intended to break through the border of a sovereign state and commit mass murder in the communities beyond. (High Level Military Group-Friends of Israel Initiative)
  • Hamas Incites Violence to Hide Its Own Shortcomings - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin and Ari Heistein
    Hamas' decision to lead violent protests along Gaza's border with Israel seeks to confront Israel in the fight for global public opinion. The IDF has operated with exceptional professionalism. It has protected the integrity of Israel's border and avoided Israeli civilian and military casualties, minimized the number of Palestinian civilians killed to the extent possible, and prevented escalation to a broader conflict.
        The senior PA official who called the protest organizers frauds who send women, children and youths to their deaths is certainly right. Hamas seeking to make political gains by convincing hundreds to attack a border fence protected by armed guards is despicable.
        It is ironic that some of those in the international community who insist on the importance of the 1967 lines are now supporting those attempting to demolish that same line around Gaza while criticizing the Israelis for defending it. What is apparent is that the dispute is not about geographic delineation but about a fundamental opposition to Israel.
        If Israel had refrained from firing on those rushing its border, doing so would likely have led to many more deaths. Amos Yadlin, former head of IDF Military Intelligence, is director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, where Ari Heistein is his special assistant. (Ynet News)

The Media War on Palestinian Free Will - Sohrab Ahmari (Commentary)
  • Palestinian Arabs are possessed of free will, agency, and the natural capacity to reason like any other people. Yet our media and foreign-policy establishment has apparently concluded the opposite.
  • On Monday, Palestinians attempted to infiltrate en masse the barrier fence that separates Israel from terrorist-run Gaza. By the Western media's dim lights, the blame for Hamas' criminal stunt and the casualties it caused lay with anybody and everybody but Hamas and the Palestinians.
  • The juxtaposition of Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and Benjamin Netanyahu celebrating in Jerusalem while Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians at the Gaza border proved irresistible to reporters.
  • The Palestinians' more sophisticated friends understand that young men whipped into a frenzy by Hamas, an organization that exists to destroy world Jewry, per its charter, aren't exactly latter-day Freedom Riders. But they think that the Palestinians can't help themselves.
  • While they expect Israel - a state encircled by hostile populations and threatened with nuclear extinction by the Iranian mullahs - to behave like Norway, of the Palestinians they have the most dismal, if any, expectations.
  • There are desperate people all over the world who never translate their frustration into suicide bombing, border-rushing, and violent "Days of Rage." It does the Palestinians no good to treat them as children entitled to tantrums, as permanent wards of the international community or, worse, as wild men bereft of reason.

    The writer is a former editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal.