Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hamas' Violations of Ceasefires – A Chronology

Israel is acting in Gaza in self-defense to hostilities initiated - and prolonged -by Hamas. In clear violation of international law, Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza have fired thousands of rockets, indiscriminate weapons that target Israeli civilians. Tunnels dug from Gaza have been used to carry out terror attacks inside Israeli territory.

Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, Israel has respected numerous ceasefires. Most of these were humanitarian lulls for the benefit of the residents of Gaza.

Hamas, on the other hand, has violated all the ceasefires. Even a humanitarian lull initiated by Hamas was promptly violated by the terrorists themselves. 

Hamas also violated the 15 July ceasefire initiated by Egypt, supported by most of the international community, including the Arab League and accepted by Israel. Had Hamas respected this ceasefire, Israel would not have had to start its ground operation and much loss of life on both sides would have been avoided.

Following is a chronology of Hamas' violations of the ceasefires:

·       15 July: Israel accepted the ceasefire initiated by Egypt and stopped all fire at 09:00. However, terrorists fired more than 50 rockets at Israeli communities. Only after six hours of continuous rocket attacks did the IDF respond.

·       17 July: Israel agreed to a five-hour humanitarian ceasefire. The terrorist organizations rejected it and fired rockets, including at the city of Be'er-Sheva.

·       20 July: Israel approved a two-hour medical/humanitarian window in the area of Shejaiya, following an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) request. Forty minutes after the ceasefire began, Hamas violated it. Nevertheless, Israel implemented the ceasefire, even extending it for two more hours.

·       26-27 July: Israel respected an UN-requested humanitarian ceasefire from 08:00-20:00 on Saturday, 26 July. Israel announced its readiness to prolong the ceasefire until midnight, but a few minutes after 20:00, Hamas renewed firing rockets at Israeli civilians.

On the same day (26 July), Hamas announced a 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire, at 14:00. Hamas violated its own ceasefire a short time later.

Despite Hamas’ continuous fire, Israel decided to extend the humanitarian ceasefire a second time, from midnight Saturday to midnight Sunday.

·       28 July: Israel accepted Hamas' request for a ceasefire in honor of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. The IDF was instructed to cease military attacks, but Hamas continued to launch rockets at Israel.

·       30 July: Israel announced a temporary humanitarian ceasefire between 15:00-19:00. A few minutes after the ceasefire began Hamas fired rockets at the southern cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, as well as other Israeli communities. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Another Rocket Hits Aleh Negev

Aleh Hanegev is a center based in the Negev taking care of severely disabled children. I have visited there and seen the wonderful conditions and the staff.

With a war in Gaza and the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas, who knows where they will land. Consequently at the Aleh center, special precautions have to be taken. read and account of how they deal with a code red alert of an incoming missile.

Another Rocket Hits Aleh Negev-Nahalat Eran! Damage caused to property, but residents & staff are safe

Jul 20, 2014
“Only after I saw that all the residents were ok and that no one was hurt was I able to breathe a sigh of relief.  When the piercing sound of the siren blared, we didn’t have time to think about ourselves – our immediate concern was the residents.  The minute I closed the door of the safe room, we heard a deafening boom – the whole house shook from the impact.  Most of the residents were sleeping when it happened; amazingly, despite the commotion, they managed to sleep safely on…”

-- Eyal Hyosub, in charge of the overnight shift at Bet Shachar-one of the Residence Houses at Aleh Negev-Nahalat Eran

Timeline:  Thursday night – Friday    
July 17-18
1:00 a.m.

A barrage of rockets cleave the skies over Ofakim and the neighboring area – including the Aleh Negev-Nahalat Eran Rehabilitation Village for the Disabled.
A rocket falls directly inside the Village.  Shards and shrapnel scatter widely – hitting Bet Shachar.  Damage is sustained, with windows shattered and property destroyed.

Miraculously – and also through careful adherence to the rules and regulations laid out by Home Front Command –residents and staff are unhurt.

The windows shattered only in rooms that were empty at the time. 

Eran Hyosub, the shift manager, and Galia Ezekiel, the young woman volunteering at ALEH Negev as part of her National Service, were two of the staff members on duty that evening who had to make sure the residents were safely in the shelter.
The Home Front Command has advised the management of the village to keep all residents in the safe rooms around the clock for the duration of the operation. Only those who can walk or can be moved quickly inside are able to take a short trip outside with their caregivers, but they are not allowed to venture very far from the shelters. Every building on the premises has a safe area.

“But some of the residents are not willing to sleep in the shelters,” says Hyosub, “so when the siren went off, we had to rush them back inside as quickly as possible. Only after seeing all the residents were safe and sound, could we relax. While the siren sounds, we do not think about ourselves, but only think about the residents.

“As soon as I closed the door of the shelter, we heard a strong explosion. The house shook from the impact. Fortunately there were no casualties. Most of the residents were asleep at the time and didn’t hear anything.”

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hamas's Attack Tunnels: Analysis and Initial Implications

by Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan Dahoah Halevi

Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, delivered a revealing speech on March 23, 2014, in which he stressed the strategic importance of the Hamas attack tunnels, which, he argued, have changed the balance of power with Israel, when taken together with his organization's military build-up. In the meantime, the IDF's war against the tunnels continues. On Monday IDF forces thwarted another terror attack after two groups of Hamas operatives (numbering about ten) infiltrated from Gaza to Israel through a tunnel, apparently on their way to carry out a mass casualty attack at Kibbutz Erez and/or Kibbutz Nir Am.

Since Operation Protective Edge began, IDF forces have foiled several other attempted attacks by Hamas near Kibbutz Sufa and Kibbutz Nirim that also made use of attack tunnels, while uncovering and blowing up dozens of tunnels in Gaza along its border with Israel. Thesetunnels penetrate deep into Israeli territory, sometimes reaching a length of 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles).

Hamas has accumulated a great deal of experience in using the tunnels for operational purposes. Since 2000, hundreds of tunnels have been dug along Gaza's border with Egypt, providing a lifeline for Hamas's military buildup. The tunnels have been a main conduit for Palestinian imports from Egypt on a scale of millions of dollars annually, and for smuggling military supplies (from ammunition to missiles) and the construction materials needed to buildthe network of attack tunnels in Gaza.

Importation through the tunnels (it was in Egypt's political interest that this be referred to as "smuggling”) was fully controlled by the Hamas government, which levied a tax on the items and used its huge profits to accelerate its military buildup and preparation for hostilities with Israel.

During the Second Intifada, which began in September 2000, Hamas made use of attack tunnels that were dug opposite IDF positions along the Philadelphi Route. These tunnels enabled Hamas to lay powerful explosive charges beside the IDF positions in an effort to destroy them. On June 25, 2006, a joint Hamas/Jaish al-Islam (an al-Qaeda affiliate) unit infiltrated from Gaza to Israel through a tunnel whose opening was about a hundred meters from the border in Israeli territory, near the Kerem Shalom crossing. In that attack, an officer and a soldier were killed and the soldier Gilad Shalit was abducted.

Hamas, Hizbullah and even North Korean Tunnels

Based on Hizbullah's experience in the Second Lebanon War, and with the assistance and guidance of Iran, Hamas has also made use of the tunnels to build an underground network of missile launchers. During the Second Lebanon War, Hizbullah greatly expanded its underground fortifications in Southern Lebanon with the aid of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) and even North Korean engineers, who also provided guidance in how to incorporate the tunnels into Hizbullah's military doctrine.1

Tunnel warfare provided armies facing a technologically superior adversary with an effective means for countering its air superiority. For example, atunnel is opened only briefly to launch rockets and then immediately closed to prevent detection of the launchers' location by the IDF. The concealment of these launchers in tunnels, in the heart of the civilian population, makes it very difficult to detect them in real time and attack them.

The rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt during 2012-2013 was a golden age for Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood. During the tenure of President Mohamed Morsi and his foreign policy adviser Khaled al-Kazaz (a resident of Canada), missiles and a great deal of ammunition moved through the tunnels to Gaza, along with the materials needed to construct plants and manufacture missiles.

In addition to receiving close to half the budget of the Palestinian Authority, the economic aid the Hamas government received from international actors, including European countries, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, has helped it channel significant resources to its military buildup and the construction of the attack tunnels.

Also of help to Hamas were Israeli and international human rights organizations, which constantly pressured Israel to allow the entry of cement and iron into Gaza for purposes of civilian construction. In reality, these materials mainly went into building the attack-tunnel network, instead of houses for the Palestinians.

The attack tunnels create a new equation in the power balance between Israel and Hamas. They give Hamas an ability to infiltrate Israel and carry out strategic attacks involving mass killing, along with an ability to launch missiles from locations concealed within civilian population centers that serve, in effect, as human shields. Should Hamas retain in the future 20 tunnels, and dispatch 50 operatives in each, they could deploy 1,000 men behind Israeli lines. The tunnels would allow Hamas to wreak havoc if they are left in place.

Hizbullah's tactics, learned from Iran, have been replicated in Gaza, particularly the use of the tunnels to provide "breathing space” in waging the military campaign. The Hamas-Hizbullah-Iranian aim is to cause as much harm as possible to the civilian population and weaken Israel by damaging its economy. Like Hizbullah, Hamas in the current round has tried to strike strategic targets in Israel and inflict mass casualties, including the nuclear reactor in Dimona, the chemical plants in Haifa, and Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Despite the reconciliation agreement with Fatah and the establishment of the unity government, one of Hamas's objectives in the war is to ignite another intifada on the West Bank aimed ultimately at the toppling of Palestinian Authority rule and instituting a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian national movement. This current round of fighting highlights the importance of continued Israeli security control of key areas of the West Bank to prevent a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian Authority, and the maintenance of minimal defensible borders should a Palestinian state be established.


1 "Carl Anthony Wege, "The Hizballah-North Korean Nexus,”Small Wars Journal, Jan, 23, 2011

Reflections on “The Situation”

Just as the British open a conversation by talking about the weather, so here in Israel the opening question is “Nu, ma hamatzav?” in other words, what is the status of the present  “situation”, another word for the war with Hamas. These days are not normal days for majority of the population. Even here in the North of the country (we have had only a single “red alert”, and that at 3:30 am!!) everyone is affected in some way or another.
Attendees at funeral of Sean Carmeli

At the beginning of the week the airwaves were humming asking everyone to pay their last respects to an American who went into the army as a lone soldier and was killed. The funeral was planned for 11:00 pm and the usual short 10-12 minute drive turned out to be 50 minutes. Cars blocked the roads as everyone tried to get to the cemetery and find somewhere to park. Estimates suggest that 20,000 people turned up, it was such an emotional feeling of national unity. I don’t know what the parents, who flew in from the States, thought.

Today, another outpouring of national emotion was evident  as another lone soldier from the USA was buried in Jerusalem. Estimates suggest that 30,000 people attended.

Today, we received a text message informing us of a seriously injured soldier who is the grandson of a good friend in our neighbourhood and as we filled up with petrol after returning from Jerusalem, the attendant was telling me how worried he was because a grandson was in Gaza with the Israeli army.

Presenting goods for the soldiers
Another sign of the general public’s support for the soldiers in Gaza was the activity outside the supermarkets asking customers to buy “supplies for the boys”.  See attached picture of my wife presenting todays contribution. Yesterday our neighbourhood also arranged a collection which was well supported.

It is hard to imagine the “hell” they are in, fighting a gang of terrorist who  know absolutely no rules and break all with impunity and yet the world seems more focused on the legal actions of a well-trained and humane army.

A final reflection is that of one of our 17 year granddaughters with friends, taking time from their smart phones to go and visit injured soldiers and their families in a nearby hospital.

Thus we approach the 17th day of the operation to clear out all the tunnels which are there for one purpose and one purpose only – to kill the maximum number of Jews!

Monday, July 21, 2014

There's a Tunnel Under My House !

Imagine waking up in the middle of the night, hearing sounds of digging and drilling. You know that underneath your house there are monsters that are digging tunnels, trying to infiltrate your town. 

They are armed to their teeth with weapons, anesthetics and handcuffs, with the sole purpose of killing or kidnapping as much people as possible.

This description is not a horror story. This is the reality for thousands of Israelis living around Gaza strip.

No country can ignore such a threat. No nation would tolerate such danger. Israel has the right to defend itself.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Israeli and Gazan children suffer

With children being killed in Gaza when they are caught up in the cross fire as Hamas terrorists utilise their presence to protect themselves in abuse of international law, the media have a story line ready made  for their readers.

However, not one of the international media outlets that I am able to watch pays the slightest bit of attention to the effect of Hamas terrorism on Israeli children. 

The continuing missile attacks from Gaza have been taking their toll on Israeli children. The following are facts and figures which have been compiled between 13-17 July:from medical sources.

93 Children were wounded by rockets, of which 1 is in a severe condition (multi-trauma wounds); 2 are badly injured; 55 suffer light wounds (cuts from shrapnel etc.); 45 suffer from acute syndrome effect.

Over 20,000 children were moved north to lesser threatened areas.

Some facilities were relocated temporarily from the area bordering Gaza (up to 40 Km). For example, over 50 Special education children were transferred from a Kibbutz by the southern border to a safer location.
A total of several thousand calls have been made to different stress treatment facilities, an average of 600-700 calls per day to trauma centers: CHOSEN centers for trauma and preparedness received 550 calls between 13-16/7; Calls to the regional stress centers (MATAN) between 13-16/7 there were over 100 calls from children and 127 visits by children.

7 regional authorities (each encompassing many municipalities of towns and villages) in the southern part of Israel cancelled all activity in thousands of schools and summer camps, affecting tens of thousands of children.

This is just the tip of the iceberg since with the history of the conflict spanning years, the number of children growing up with psychological problems is immense.

Of course there is sympathy for those Gazan children caught up in this war but where is the same level of sympathy for the children of Syria,Iraq  and the other areas of conflict around the world?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hamas Guidelines To Social Media Activists

 Always Call The Dead 'Innocent Civilians'; Don't Post Photos Of Rockets Being Fired From Civilian Population Centers

Hamas Interior ministry's guidelines issued  the "Be Aware – Social Media Activist Awareness Campaign," via an instructional video posted on its official website and via posters published on its Twitter and Facebook pages.

The ministry website included the following text along with its instructional video: "The Information Department of the Ministry of the Interior and National Security has instructed activists on social media websites, particularly Facebook, to correct some of the commonly used terms as they cover the aggression taking place in the Gaza Strip. The following Information Department video calls on all activists to use "the proper terminology", in order to play their part in strengthening the home front and in properly conveying information worldwide."

Following are excerpts from the guidelines:

1)   "Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. Don't forget to always add 'innocent civilian' or 'innocent citizen' in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza.

2)   "Begin [your reports of] news of resistance actions with the phrase 'In response to the cruel Israeli attack,' and conclude with the phrase 'This many people have been martyred since Israel launched its aggression against Gaza.' Be sure to always perpetuate the principle of 'the role of the occupation is attack, and we in Palestine are fulfilling [the role of] the reaction.'

3)   "Beware of spreading rumors from Israeli spokesmen, particularly those that harm the home front. Be wary regarding accepting the occupation's version [of events]. You must always cast doubts on this [version], disprove it, and treat it as false.

4)   "Avoid publishing pictures of rockets fired into Israel from [Gaza] city centers. This [would] provide a pretext for attacking residential areas in the Gaza Strip. Do not publish or share photos or video clips showing rocket launching sites or the movement of resistance [forces] in Gaza.

5)   "To the administrators of news pages on Facebook: Do not publish close-ups of masked men with heavy weapons, so that your page will not be shut down [by Facebook] on the claim that you are inciting violence. In your coverage, be sure that you say: 'The locally manufactured shells fired by the resistance are a natural response to the Israeli occupation that deliberately fires rockets against civilians in the West Bank and Gaza'..."

Additionally, the interior ministry prepared a series of suggestions specifically for Palestinian activists who speak to Westerners via social media. The ministry emphasizes that conversations with them should be conducted differently from conversations with other Arabs. It stated:
  • "When speaking to the West, you must use political, rational, and persuasive discourse, and avoid emotional discourse aimed at begging for sympathy. There are elements with a conscience in the world; you must maintain contact with them and activate them for the benefit of Palestine. Their role is to shame the occupation and expose its violations.

  • "Avoid entering into a political argument with a Westerner aimed at convincing him that the Holocaust is a lie and deceit; instead, equate it with Israel's crimes against Palestinian civilians.

  • "The narrative of life vs. the narrative of blood: [When speaking] to an Arab friend, start with the number of martyrs. [But when speaking] to a Western friend, start with the number of wounded and dead. Be sure to humanize the Palestinian suffering. Try to paint a picture of the suffering of the civilians in Gaza and the West Bank during the occupation's operations and its bombings of cities and villages.

  • "Do not publish photos of military commanders. Do not mention their names in public, and do not praise their achievements in conversations with foreign friends!"