May 31, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Poll: U.S. Voters Support Israel, Favor Sending Aid and Weapons - Dana Blanton (Fox News)
    59% of U.S. voters say they side more with the Israelis, while 24% sympathize with the Palestinians, according to a Fox News survey conducted May 22-25.
    By 56-38%, voters approve of providing the Israeli government with financial aid for its military, and by 51-44% support selling weapons to Israel.

Video: Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leader Thanks Iran for Missile Technology (MEMRI-TV)
    Secretary-General of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Ziad Al-Nakhaleh spoke about IRGC Qods Force commander Qasem Soliemani's role in arming and training the military factions in Gaza on Al-Alam TV (Iran) on January 1, 2021.
    Al-Nakhaleh said that thanks to the experience earned under Soleimani's guidance, people in Gaza learned how to manufacture missiles locally.
    "This was in addition to the strategic step of sending missiles and weapons to Gaza," he said.
    See also Gaza Factories Resume Missile Production (Mehr-Iran)

Photos: Thousands of Armed Hamas Soldiers Parade in Gaza - Jack Wright (Daily Mail-UK)
    Thousands of Hamas terrorists held a military parade Friday in Rafah in southern Gaza while being cheered by women and children a week after the ceasefire.
    Masked members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades paraded and rode in pick-up trucks, while showing off a military arsenal that included rockets and drones.
    See also Video: Hamas Holds Military Parade in Gaza (Daily Mail-UK)

Iran: Gaza Is "the Advance Bunker of the Resistance Front" - Amir Taheri (Gatestone Institute)
    Official media in Tehran describe Gaza as "the advance bunker of the Resistance Front" as it emerges from its latest mini-war against "the Zionist enemy."
    In messages to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei asserts that he has received "a divine pledge that total victory is on the way," and demands that the two groups continue the fight until "our holy land is cleansed of the existence of the usurper."
    Tehran media claim that "the great victory" achieved by Hamas and Islamic Jihad is, to a large extent, due to financial, material and training support from Iran.
    The writer was editor-in-chief of the Iranian daily Kayhan.

How the IDF Takes Care to Avoid Palestinian Civilian Casualties - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)
    At the height of the recent fighting in Gaza, a small rocket hit the roof of a house in Rafah belonging to Muhammad Bawab, leader of Hamas' East Rafah Brigade. His home is a command post overseeing all of the unit's operations.
    The building was seconds away from being attacked when an officer says a drone has spotted a group of people under a palm tree near the house who are at risk of getting hurt.
    The attack is stopped as an Israel Security Agency operative phones Bawab's neighbor and warns him that a bomb is coming.
    After several minutes the group moves away, but the drone operator sees three people still at the scene.
    A small rocket is then launched at the nearby road to make them truly understand they are in danger.
    When it explodes, the people under the palm tree start scattering. And then the Hamas command post is destroyed.

Video - Commentator Bill Maher: Israel Did Not Steal Anybody's Land - Gabe Friedman (JTA)
    Political commentator Bill Maher defended Israel on his HBO talk show Friday night.
    "I've heard the last couple of weeks, words like 'occupiers' and 'colonizers' and 'apartheid,' which I don't think people understand the history there."
    "The Jews have been in that area of the world since about 1200 BCE, way before the first Muslim or Arab walked the earth. A thousand years before. Jerusalem was their capital."

Israeli Drug Registers Success in Treating Coronavirus Patients (i24News-Xinhua-China)
    Israel's Bonus BioGroup announced Wednesday that preliminary findings from a clinical trial of the drug MesenCure for the treatment of corona patients in life-threatening respiratory distress were "very impressive."
    Nine of the ten patients suffered from background diseases as well, yet each of them treated with MesenCure showed marked improvements.
    Prior to treatment, as much as 55% of a person's lung area showed inflammation in chest x-rays. Within five days of beginning a course of the drug, that figure dropped to 15%, while it was almost normal one month later.
    The new drug, consisting of adipose-derived stem cells from healthy donors, is transmitted to the patients by blood transfusion.
    The ten Covid-19 patients in the trial all suffered from acute respiratory distress, severe pneumonia, and dangerous immune response.
    All the patients were discharged from the hospital after one day on average since the treatment ended.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Rights Council Orders Inquiry into Israel after Gaza Strife - Nick Cumming-Bruce
    Acting in the aftermath of the fighting in Gaza, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday voted 24 to 9, with 14 abstentions, to approve a far-ranging inquiry into Israel's actions. Pakistan's UN ambassador Khalil Hashmi proposed the panel on behalf of the Organization of Islamic States. The resolution creating it does not mention Hamas or other Palestinian militant groups.
        Israel denounced the decision as a one-sided sham. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized it for not acting against Hamas. "Once again, an immoral automatic majority at the council whitewashes a genocidal terrorist organization that deliberately targets Israeli civilians while turning Gaza's civilians into human shields." European states, which have backed the creation of a dozen commissions of inquiry in the last five years, voted against it or abstained.
        Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, cited the statement of a senior Hamas leader three days before the start of hostilities urging followers "to cut off the heads of Jews with knives." She said Hamas had fired 4,300 rockets from Palestinian homes, hospitals and schools, indiscriminately targeting Israeli civilians. "Each one of these rockets constitutes a war crime."  (New York Times)
        See also Israel Will Continue to Defend Itself Against Hamas Attacks (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also U.S.: Human Rights Council Decision Does Not Contribute to Peace
    The U.S. Mission to the UN in Geneva said Thursday: "The United States deeply regrets today's decision by the Human Rights Council to establish an open-ended Commission of Inquiry into the recent violence between Israel and the Palestinians....It is deeply unfortunate that...some members of the Human Rights Council have chosen to engage in a distraction that adds nothing to ongoing diplomatic and humanitarian efforts."
        "We all should be working to find real solutions to help the Palestinian people and ensuring that terrorist organizations, including Hamas, do not exploit the situation on the ground, including by indiscriminate firing of rockets, to further their own destructive aims. The actions of the Human Rights Council today do not contribute to peace."  (U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Geneva)
  • Did a Hidden Hamas Weapons Cache Cause Deadly Gaza Explosion? - Felicia Schwartz
    Israeli airstrikes targeted underground tunnels used by Hamas on Al-Wahda Street in Gaza City on May 16. An Israeli military official said the attack only struck the street and not any nearby buildings, but in the resulting explosion, three apartment buildings collapsed and 48 people died, according to Gaza's Health Ministry, making it one of the deadliest hours of the recent conflict.
        The official said that something located above the tunnels that the military didn't know about "caused a different and much bigger explosion," collapsing the buildings. The official said there was no warning to the buildings' residents because Israel had carried out strikes on other similar tunnels without impacting the homes above them.
        Azzam Al-Kolak, who lived on the top floor of one of the buildings, said engineers who visited the site told him the building dropped some 40 feet below street level. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu Meets Egyptian Intelligence Chief, Demands Return of Captives in Gaza
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded the return of Israeli captives being held in Gaza in a meeting with the head of Egypt's intelligence services, Abbas Kamel, on Sunday in Jerusalem. The talks centered on shoring up the truce with Hamas in Gaza.
        Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, in Cairo that Israel would not allow Gaza reconstruction to move ahead without the return of two civilians and the remains of two soldiers held in Gaza. "We will not allow a situation in which the rehabilitation of Gaza will allow Hamas to rebuild its terror capabilities and without solving the issue of returning the captives and missing held by the Hamas terror group," Ashkenazi said. Ashkenazi's visit to Cairo was the first by an Israeli foreign minister since 2008. (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Answers Hamas "Victory" Narrative - Shmuel Smith
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said Thursday that after the recent conflict with Hamas, "the balance of accomplishments ended in a clear advantage for the IDF. And Hamas, which started a war as the alleged defender of Jerusalem, finished it as the destroyer of Gaza."
        Kohavi contrasted the IDF's "many achievements" in the campaign versus the "limited" military achievements of Hamas, most of which he termed as "psychological." Kohavi noted the high price Hamas paid: elimination of a number of its top operatives, three dozen rocket production facilities, and over 60 miles of Hamas tunnels in Gaza. The IDF also intercepted every drone sent over the border by Hamas, as well as its autonomous submarines. (Hamodia)
  • Airstrikes on Gaza Tunnels Reduced Long-Range Missile Fire - Noam Amir
    Hamas' command, control, and war-fighting capabilities were based in its "Metro" underground tunnel network beneath Gaza, a senior IDF officer in the Southern Command explained. "As soon as we began attacking the Metro in a certain area, we saw immediately that Hamas was no longer able to fire long-range missiles from that area, and was no longer able to launch synchronized attacks from there on Israel. After each section of the Metro was attacked, we saw the difference immediately, and how this reduced the quantity, the ability, and the effectiveness of their operations."
        "The underground was their brain, and we've now taken this from them. They also understand that whoever enters these tunnels must take into account that they are a death trap. Already by the second night we saw the change. They immediately changed their method of operation and moved their management of the war above ground, which enabled us to take advantage of the opportunity to target their commanders.... Hamas now faces a dilemma regarding whether to rebuild the tunnels. They were sure these were protected areas."  (Makor Rishon-Hebrew, 27May2021)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Real Peace Depends on Recognizing Israel's Right to Exist - Dani Dayan
    President Biden recently described in a nutshell the entire Middle East peace process: "Let's get something straight here. Until the region says unequivocally, they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace." He articulated a principle that is too often overlooked: Achieving peace will require a sincere and genuine internalization by everyone in the region, including the Palestinian national movement, of Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish state.
        But many Palestinians seem to see themselves as having the exclusive right to the land. Hence, they do not want to compromise. In an interview with Israel Radio in 2017, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres casually mentioned that it is "completely clear that the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple." Shortly thereafter, the Palestinian Minister for Jerusalem Affairs said Guterres "must issue an apology to the Palestinian people."
        Simply recognizing that Israel is strong may be enough for a truce, but not for genuine peace. The day Palestinians accept Israel's right to exist as the legitimate homeland of the Jewish people, a real peace process will begin.
        The writer is former consul general of Israel in New York. (New York Times)
  • The Pandemic of Anti-Semitism - Donna Brazile
    The perpetrators of vile anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. and elsewhere use the fighting between Israel and Hamas as an excuse to mount assaults against Jews. But attacking people because they're Jewish isn't about a policy dispute - it is about simple hatred. Those who profess to champion Palestinian rights are sorely misguided if they believe praising Adolf Hitler, beating up Jews, and defacing synagogues with swastikas will aid Palestinians.
        Anti-Semitism is based on the same belief as racism and other forms of prejudice - "the other" is inferior and not entitled to the same human rights as the "superior" class. So while I'm not Jewish, as a black woman, I can empathize with the pain and the injustice anti-Semitism inflicts in the same way Jews have expressed empathy for the racist oppression black Americans have suffered.
        Jews were among the most prominent and important nonblack supporters of the civil-rights movement. I am proud to stand with Jews against anti-Semitism, just as many Jews have stood and continue to stand with black Americans against racism.
        The writer is a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Hamas Changed the Rules of the Gaza Game - Dr. Michael Milshtein
    The rocket volley that was launched on Jerusalem was a blunt and conscious violation of the status quo in Gaza for the past year and a half. The fighting came as quality of life in Gaza was continually improving and after Israel promoted many moves designed to ensure civilian stability - from issuing traders exit permits, through promoting exports, to expanding its fishing zone and providing broad assistance to help eradicate Covid-19.
        Hamas' attack attests to how it perceives the status quo: nebulous understandings from which it can opt in and out according to its whims. The Israeli side had worked strenuously to preserve the arrangement to guarantee long-lasting peace in the Strip.
        Hamas was under the impression that Israel was too afraid to undercut the status quo and that after several days of fighting it could return back to square one or even secure further concessions. However, Hamas found itself paying a much heavier toll than it had originally expected.
        Now, as the dust settles, Israel faces a dilemma - reverting to the status quo ante or changing the rules of the game. A swift reversion to the conditions that existed before the operation would signal to Hamas that its aggression does not entail any consequences. Given the non-binding nature in which Hamas perceives ceasefire agreements, Israel may also need to adopt a similar approach.
        The writer, a former head of the Department for Palestinians Affairs in IDF Military Intelligence, now heads the Palestinian Studies Forum at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Ynet News)
  • As Hamas Fired Rockets, the New York Times Joined the Assault on Israel - Gilead Ini
    Since May 10, as Israeli civilians were under attack by Hamas rockets and Jews around the world were being harassed and assaulted, the New York Times opinion editors published 9 anti-Israel Guest Essays, 3 evenhanded Guest Essays, and not a single Guest Essay that was primarily critical of Hamas or Palestinian behavior in the conflict.
        Beyond trying to steer people toward the Palestinian narrative, Times opinion editors are guilty of curating a lack of empathy for Israeli Jews. Even as Israeli families were traumatized by emergency runs to bomb shelters as Hamas strove to kill them, their experiences and emotions were largely missing from the Opinion pages.
        Readers got to know to Gaza resident Refaat Alareer, his wife Nusayba, and their children, 6-year-old Amal and 8-year-old Lina. They were intimately introduced to Laila Al-Arian's grandfather, Abdul Kareem, and her grandmother, Inaam. They were told of Diana Buttu's 82-year-old father and her 7-year-old son. Israelis, on the other hand, had no ages and no faces. No brothers or sisters. No Holocaust-surviving grandparents. Nameless victims, but mostly oppressors, attackers, shooters, racists - and generally heartless.
        Readers of the country's most influential paper learn that Hamas rockets are "legitimate" and that Israel's efforts to stop that rocket fire aren't really an effort to stop the attacks, but rather to arbitrarily oppress Palestinians. (CAMERA)
        See also Former ADL Head Abe Foxman Cancels New York Times Subscription over Front-Page "Blood Libel" - Ira Stoll
    The national director emeritus of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, has publicly canceled his subscription to the New York Times after its Friday front-page which displayed photographs of mostly Arab children killed in the recent Israel-Gaza war. Accusing Jews of killing non-Jewish children is a classical anti-Semitic trope.
        The executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Robert Satloff, commented, "Few people on this planet have more authority on confronting anti-Semitism than @FoxmanAbraham. When he makes an accusation of 'blood libel,' sit up and take notice."  (Algemeiner)

  • National conflicts cannot be resolved by wars and violence, but only by a political resolution, leadership and compromise. A religious conflict is not a conflict over rights, but a fight against the right of others to live by their faith. For religious ideologists, there is no compromise.
  • Hamas is a radical Islamic terror organization that is fighting not to establish a Palestinian state but against the existence of Jewish "infidels" living in Israel. In 2006 the international Quartet set forward parameters for Hamas that included acceptance of previous peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, commitment to nonviolence, and recognition of Israel. Hamas refused.
  • Had Hamas adopted these principles, the lives of the residents of Gaza might today look different, and Gaza could flourish. But for Hamas, ending the conflict is something to which it will never agree. Without accepting these conditions, there's no hope for peace with Hamas; therefore, we cannot, and should not, give it legitimacy.
  • There is no doubt, as President Biden rightfully expressed, that a country has the right to defend itself. In this case, we must defend ourselves against terror by a group that does not accept our very existence. Criticizing any government policy is legitimate, but denying the right of a country to defend its citizens is not.
  • We must cooperate and support everything that strengthens pragmatism and weakens extremists. The solution must reflect both sides' legitimate rights, aspirations and interests, with compromises that allow us both to fulfill our legitimate national aspirations and live side-by-side in peace and security.

    The writer is a former Israeli vice prime minister, minister of foreign affairs and justice minister who was chief negotiator in the last two rounds of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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