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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

It's a good thing Raed Attar is dead

You might recall that on August 21, Israel eliminated three senior Hamas commanders, one of whom, Raed al-Attar, is pictured above with Gilad Shalit just before Shalit's October 2011 release. It turns out that Attar was a ticking time bomb. Israel's Channel 2 reports that eliminating Attar prevented a deadly paraglider attack that Attar had been planning.
“It could have ended in disaster,” a senior Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency – ISA) offical said of the combined IDF-ISA air strike in Rafah on August 21st that killed Raed Attar, along with Muhammad Abu Shamalah and Muhammed Barhoum.
“Attar’s assassination has disrupted everything,” the official said of the Izzadin al-Kassam chief, who set up a 15-member paragliding squad four years ago.
“Attar and Rafa Salamah (Attar’s aide) made ​​sure to send us to Malaysia to practice paragliding. We went through tunnels from Sinai to Cairo and then took a flight to Malaysia,” cell leader Mohammad Kadara, 28, confessed to Israeli interrogators, after his capture during Operation Protective Edge.
“We practiced in Malaysia for a week on motorized paragliders, and were trained by local instructors,” Kadara said.
The paragliding unit established by Hamas’s military wing was supposed to be the icing on the cake in terms of the organization’s military operations, which were looking for any way to surprise the IDF.
...
“The plans was to cross the border into Israel with a paraglider, reach an IDF post or settlement near the border, shoot at soldiers and civilians and kill as many Israelis as possible,” Kadara said.
“It’s vitally important that you succeed in carrying out the mission,” Attar told the cell members. “I’ll let you know when you go off and perform the operation,” Attar told them. “It is important for you to be ready at any moment to beat the Zionist enemy.”
Kadara later revealed how he commanded a suicide bombing unit.
“Our goal was to wait for the soldiers to attack tunnels, and then carry out suicide attacks,” Kadara said.
“Before I joined the operation in the Gaza Strip, I passed sniper training, and learned how to fire rockets and mortars,” he told investigators. “I got paid $300 per month for my activity, and practiced firing rockets at an IDF jeep and how to kidnap soldiers.”
Kadara also explained how two attack tunnels were built under an olive grove, that crossed the border into Israel.
“Our goal was to ambush the soldiers who would come to the scene, shoot them and detonate bombs. We planned to abduct soldiers and deliver them through the tunnels. We were two weeks in a tunnel with food: cartons of dates, bread and water. We were kept confidential, and were told not to reveal our activities to anyone,” he said. “An operative would update our families that we were all right.”
IDF troops captured Kadara, and seven cohorts in a firefight, according to the Shin Bet, and the IDF Prosecutor recently filed charges against the suspects in the Southern District Court in Beersheba.
The paragliding story has been reported before (albeit without naming the terrorist). The connection to al-Attar has not. Hmmm.

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Hamas pays tribute to Nahoul the bee

Yes, we are now back in Jerusalem.

You thought that Nahoul the Bee was 'martyred' in 2008. But the truth is that the actor who played Nahoul died during Operation Protective Edge. The Hamas kiddie show Pioneers of Tomorrow, on which 'Nahoul' appeared, paid tribute to the actor as part of Friday's episode.

Let's go to the videotape.



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At least the Israeli government is actually thinking

The timing of an announcement that the government is turning approximately 4,000 dunams (1,000 acres) of land near Gush Etzion into government land (what might be called a taking by eminent domain in the United States) for the Sunday of Labor Day weekend shows that at least someone in the government has their thinking caps on. It slowed the international reaction to a move that would inevitably be unpopular outside of Israel. But now the United States has criticized us, and so has Ban Ki-Moon. Is Netanyahu up to the challenge? This is from the first link.
The IDF on Sunday conferred the status of state land on 4,000 dunams in the Gush Etzion region, thus ending the civil administration’s investigation into the possibility that parcels were private Palestinian property.

The new designation for an area known as Gevaot opens the door for settlers to advance plans to build a fifth city in the West Bank on those dunams.

"We have long made clear our opposition to continued settlement activity," a State Department official said. "This announcement, like every other settlement announcement Israel makes, planning step they approve and construction tender they issue, is counterproductive to Israel's stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians."

"We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision," the US official said in Washington.
What if our 'stated goal' were not a 'two-state solution'? What if Netanyahu had the guts to reverse the Bar Ilan speech and say 'We tried. We've been trying for over 20 years. We failed. What we would need to secure us in the event of a two-state solution is much more than the 'Palestinians' are willing to agree to. It's time to move on.' Would Israelis agree?

Based on their political affiliations (at least in polls), the answer ought to be yes. But Israelis have been so conditioned - both by the media and by too many of our own politicians - to the idea that there is no solution other than the 'two-state solution' that much must be done to reverse this boxlike thinking. Perhaps this morning was a start.

I turned on the radio briefly this morning (I've avoided it entirely since we left Jerusalem on Sunday) and heard that Labor party leader Yitzchak Herzog and Meretz party leader Zehava Gal-On said that this is the time to make a big move forward in the 'peace process.' Huh? MK Zev Elkin (Likud) slammed Herzog (Gal-On spoke in response to Elkin) saying that he's out of touch with what Israelis want and that having seen what happened in Gaza, almost no Israelis would agree to taking the chance of turning Judea and Samaria into another Gaza.

Would Netanyahu agree? Would he say so?

By the way, note that the condemnation comes from a 'State Department official' - not Obama or Kerry. Could they finally be getting the idea that this is not the time to push for a 'Palestinian state'?

If you read the whole thing, you will discover that the plan to turn this into a Jewish city has been in place for nearly 30 years. Hmmm....

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CNN interviews journalist who shined spotlight on disproportionate media coverage of Israel

You will recall that last week, I posted a story from Tablet magazine from a former AP journalist in Israel who talked about how the media frames the Middle East narrative. That journalist, Matti Friedman, was interviewed on CNN over the weekend.

Let's go to the videotape.




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Today's edition of separated at birth....

Heh (Hat Tip: Yonatan H).

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Monday, September 01, 2014

Great speech: Israel's ambassador to the UK Daniel Taub visits Bradford

Israel's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Daniel Taub visits Bradford (which George Galloway wanted to make an 'Israel free zone') and blows them away with a great speech.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Renaud Sarda).




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If they had built an economy, they wouldn't have to schnorr

When Hamas and Fatah made their 'unity government,' they didn't bother to ask anyone's permission. After all, they consider themselves 'sovereigns' (when they're not kvetching about being 'occupied'). There's just one small problem: Over the past 20 years, the 'Palestinians' have done nothing - zip - zero to build an economy. Now, they're whining that they're going broke. It seems that you can't keep slapping someone in the face and then come to them to schnorr. The US and even the Arab countries have said enough is enough. No more money for a 'unity government.'
The Palestinian Authority "unity government" with Hamas is totally bankrupt, according to a leading PA minister, who blamed broken promises by America and Arab states for the dire situation.
"The government's budget is below zero, and it's starting to borrow from banks to move forward, because only less than third of donor funds that were scheduled to be received this year arrived," said Shawki Al-Ayasa, Minister of Social Affairs, Agriculture, and Prisoner's Affairs.
"The US has not provided a single penny since Jan. 1, and Europe and Arab states only provided a third of what they were scheduled to give," he lamented to the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news network.
He said Gazan families who had lost their homes as Hamas and other terrorist groups clashed with Israeli forces had received just 300 shekels ($84) in aid.
Boo Hoo. Let Hamas earn the money to pay for reconstruction.  If they stopped using all their money for rockets and terror tunnels, they might even have money to pay for it.

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A different kind of travel

Those of you who are long-time readers probably assumed that yesterday was a travel day. And it was, but not the way I usually travel. Mrs. Carl and I are taking advantage of the fact that today is Labor Day in the US (and therefore I shouldn't have a lot of people looking for work from me) to get away for a couple of days without the children. We are in a zimmer in the southern Galilee (if you're an Israeli you can drop me a private note and I will tell you where - we highly recommend it) and will God willing be back in Jerusalem Tuesday evening - right around lunch time on the east coast.

Posting today and tomorrow will be light as well.

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Israel shoots down drone from Syria

The IDF used a Patriot missile to shoot down a Syrian drone over the Golan Heights on Sunday. The drone belonged to the Assad regime and the IDF believes that it's entry into Israel was accidental.
Forces fired a surface-to-air Patriot missile at the drone, which came from the area of Quneitra - which has seen fierce clashes between Syrian rebels and regime forces.
The Israel Defense Forces told the Associated Press that the drone appeared to have belonged to the Syrian military and had flown accidentally into Israeli airspace. 
The IDF said that the drone was identified in Israel's air space and shot down by a ground-to-air Patriot missile. The IDF "will respond to any breach of Israel's sovereignty," Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.
It is not clear whether the drone was carrying explosives or was sent to photograph aerial images. It is also not clear whether the aircraft was intentionally launched at Israel, or if it was sent in Israel's direction by mistake.
Hmmm.

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Diary of a Foreign Minister: US Secretary of State Kerry strongly pro-'Palestine'

A new book by former Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr reveals what most of us probably already knew: That US Secretary of State John FN Kerry is strongly pro-'Palestine' anti-Israel (Hat Tip: David W).
In his book, “Diary of a Foreign Minister,” Mr. Carr reveals that Mr. Kerry did little to discourage a U.N. Vote to recognize Palestine as a state, despite American opposition.
Mr. Carr wrote that when he met with Mr. Kerry after the vote, the secretary said Australia’s “yes” vote on a Palestinian state was “fine by him,” Business Insider reported Aug. 22.
He added that Mr. Kerry told him, “If the vote were held today the Israelis wouldn’t get a vote from anyone except themselves.”

In April, Mr. Kerry was caught on tape supporting a separate Palestinian state saying, “A unitary state winds up being an apartheid state with second-class citizens or it end up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state.”
Mr. Carr also revealed that Mr. Kerry had undergone plastic surgery saying he admired Mr. Kerry’s “baby-fresh skin,” but noticed “something about the skin under John Kerry’s eyes, smooth and slightly discolored,” Business Insider reported.
He added that a month later, when he saw Mr. Kerry again, “The surgical scars under his eyes I noticed in April have faded in a triumph of American cosmetic surgery.”
Most pro-Israel administration evah?


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Hamas celebrates victory in Gaza with rally in Ramallah

Hamas celebrated its great 'victory' in Gaza on Saturday with a huge rally in Ramallah.
Thousands of local Arabs took part in the rally, which was organized by the Hamas movement in Ramallah in celebration of the hard-hit terrorist organization's supposed "victory" against Israel in Operation Protective Edge.
The rally, held in the Al-Bireh neighborhood of Ramallah, was entitled "The Pledge of Allegiance and Victory." Hamas leaders and parliamentarians in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) from different parts of Judea and Samaria took part in the celebration, accompanied by leaders of other Palestinian Arab organizations.
Horse-mounted Hamas activists led the rally march, waving Hamas flags and singing the praise of Hamas's "military wing," the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades.
Children also took part in the "festivities," parading models of the rockets fired in massive barrages by Hamas terrorists at Israeli civilian centers during the terror war, as well as pictures of senior Hamas leaders assassinated by the IDF in targeted airstrikes.
Khalil al-Haya, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza, gave a speech at the rally via telephone in which he emphasized the right to "resistance" against Israel.
The rally is particularly noteworthy because as mentioned above, it occurred in the heart of the PA governmental center of Ramallah.
 What could go wrong?

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Israel extends Gaza fishing area

Heh.

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Pass the popcorn: Fatah accuses Hamas of stealing humanitarian aid

The Fatah terror group headed by 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen has accused the Hamas terror group of stealing humanitarian aid during the recently completed Operation Protective Edge.
During the war, Fatah and Hamas refrained from criticizing each other and continued to insist that their reconciliation deal, which was signed last April, had not been affected.

But the statement issued by Fatah shows the gap between the two parties remains as wide as ever.

The statement accused Hamas “militias” of committing the ugliest crimes and encroachments during the war against Fatah members in the Gaza Strip.

It said Hamas representatives shot and beat dozens of Fatah members, some of whom were transferred for medical treatment in Ramallah, Hebron and Nablus.

The statement said Hamas also placed more than 300 Fatah members under house arrest, exposing them to Israeli air strikes.

Other Fatah members were kept in Hamas prisons during the war, which also endangered their lives, the statement said.

Fatah said it preferred to remain silent toward the Hamas “crimes” during the war out of keenness to preserve Palestinian unity.

Fatah also accused Hamas of confiscating food and medicine sent to the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and other countries. It said Hamas distributed the aid among its men in mosques and sold some of it in the black market.
Faster... faster....

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'Israeli Arab' MK's attend Hamas victory rally

'Israeli Arab' MK's Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Ibrahim Sarsur attended a Hamas 'victory rally' in a Galilee village on Friday.
Balad MKs Jamal Zehalka and Haneen Zoabi and United Arab list head Ibrahim Sarsur sang the Palestinian national anthem at a "victory rally" for Hamas that was held Friday in the Kabul Regional Council southeast of Akko.

Palestinian flags draped the event, which was held under the banner "Gaza won." Two thousand people attended the event, which was organized by the Monitoring Committee of the Israeli Arab Leadership. A moment of silence was observed for victims of IDF strikes on Gaza.

Zoabi called upon "the occupier" to do some soul searching following Operation Protective Edge. She referred to the Gazan casualties as the "2000 martyrs who were killed among my people."

"The Palestinian resistance and the entire nation in Gaza defeated the military and political targets Israel set for itself," Zoabi told Ynet. "The struggle of our people prevented [Israel] from achieving its goals and that is the result of the war. Israelis must learn the lesson that no military power can defeat a nation that wants to live."
These people sit in the Knesset! It's long past time for Balad to be banned under the law that bans parties that refuse to accept Israel's Jewish or Democratic nature (the only party ever so banned was Rabbi Meir Kahane's Kach party).

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Philippine UNDOF troops escape to Israeli side

A group of Philippine UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) peacekeepers that was captured by Syrian rebels has escaped to Israel. (The picture is from over a year ago).
Thirty-two UN peacekeepers were rescued from Islamist militants who had fired on their post on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights on Saturday, the United Nations said.

Another group of UN soldiers - also from the Philippines - remained trapped by the Islamists who surrounded their positions on Thursday, and a gun battle was ongoing, the UN press office said.

...

A Reuters cameraman spotted 11 UN armored vehicles returning to their base in Israeli-controlled territory about 12 hours after the peacekeepers came under fire at around 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) on Saturday.

"All 32 Filipino personnel from this position have been extricated and are now safe," the United Nations press office said in a statement issued in New York.

The remaining troops, at a separate border post, were still under mortar and heavy machine gun fire, the statement said.

"The UN peacekeepers returned fire and prevented the attackers from entering the position," it said. Officials in the Philippines have said there were a total of 72 soldiers trapped in the area.

Another 44 UNDOF peacekeepers, from Fiji, were detained by militants 8 km (5 miles) away from the Philippine troops on Thursday and remain missing.
Arutz Sheva adds:
According to reports in Syria, dozens of UN peacekeepers from the Philippines who had been holed up in two military positions in the Syrian Golan escaped io Israel Saturday. The border gates were opened up to let them in.

They had been surrounded by Syrian rebels from the Nusra Front.
Filipino UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights clashed with Syrian rebels Saturday, Defense Minister Voltaire Gazmin said in Manila.
He said in an SMS statement to reporters that the Filipino troops had been "extricated" from one of their two positions but added that another group of Filipino soldiers "is now under attack".
He was referring to two positions on the Golan Heights where more than 70 Filipino troops had previously been surrounded by Syrian rebels.
The peacekeepers were besieged by rebels on Thursday but defied demands that they give up their weapons. On Friday Syrian fighters took 43 Fijian soldiers hostage on the Golan Heights.
Asked if there was a fresh firefight Saturday, Gazmin replied: "Yes".
He said the clash took place at "6am, Syria time," but added that "morale is high" among the troops.
Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala later told AFP that "there is still an ongoing standoff but there was a firefight earlier today".
"All our troops are safe," he said, adding that the defense minister and head of the military were monitoring developments. He declined to elaborate further on the incident.
The Fijians are the ones who are really in trouble. They gave up their weapons. 

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Good news: Galloway's mouth shut for a while

British MP George Galloway - who recently tried to make his Bradford district an 'Israel free zone' (he failed) - had his jaw broken by an assailant on a London street on Friday.
Respect MP George Galloway was taken to hospital with a suspected broken jaw on Friday night after being attacked in the street.
Police arrested a British man over the incident, which is believed to have been prompted by comments Galloway has made about Israel in past weeks.
The 60-year-old was posing for pictures in Notting Hill, London, on Friday evening when a man lashed out at him, his spokesman said. Galloway gave a statement to police after a man aged 39 was arrested.
"George was posing for pictures with people and this guy just attacked him, leapt on him and started punching him," his spokesman said.
"It appears to be connected with his comments about Israel because the guy was shouting about the Holocaust. George is badly bruised but OK. He has bruising to his head and face and is in pretty bad shape."
Police said Galloway was badly injured and was being treated in a London hospital, but was in a stable condition. The arrested man remains in custody.
Last week, the MP was interviewed by police under caution after he was accused of inciting racial hatred by declaring his constituency, Bradford West, an "Israel-free zone".
In a speech he gave in Leeds on 2 August he said: "We don't want any Israeli goods; we don't want any Israeli services; we don't want any Israeli academics coming to the university or the college; we don't even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford, even if any of them had thought of doing so."
Galloway called the police investigation into him a "monumental – and monumentally expensive – waste of police time".
Galloway was released from the hospital on Saturday morning. 39-year old Neil Masterson was charged with assaulting Galloway.  Doesn't sound Jewish to me.

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Reporter poses as German, produces video proof of 'Palestinian' and leftist Holocaust deniers

Journalist Tuvia Tenenbaum is known throughout the 'Palestinian Authority' as 'Toby.' The 'Palestinians' and the Leftist internationals were convinced that Toby really was a German and they shared their real views with him.

The video below is Hebrew only - I'm hoping to get an English subtitled version within a couple of days. But I am translating the article from Israel's Channel 2's website into English for all of you. First the video, then the article.

Let's go to the videotape.



And the translation of the article, which summarizes the video.
"The Europeans aren't really familiar with the Middle East dispute and they did not do an investigation. They are coming out of every hole here. They don't want to help, but rather to catch the Jew doing something bad. It comes from hatred," claims Tuvia Tenenbaum. "I didn't lie in this case when I presented myself as a German journalist - I wanted to know what these people think. Even if there had been a conspiracy and it had been the only way to expose the truth, I would have done it, he added.

From the beginning, "Toby" joined a group of young Italians who learned about the dispute in Schchem (Nablus) and in Israel, with funding from the European Union. But the Israeli guide, Itamar Shapira - the brother of the pilot Jonathan Shapira who refused orders and became an extreme Leftist activist - presented himself to the group as "former Jew" and said harsh things against Israel.

During a tour of Yad Vashem, Shapira chose to focus specifically on stories of the massacre at Dir Yassin [the Jenin lie of the 1948 War of Independence. CiJ] and told the young Italians that it's necessary to impose a boycott and sanctions on Israel because "we have to stop an additional Holocaust." Shapira was fired in the past from Yad Vashem after he compared the Holocaust to the Naqba [the Palestinian characterization of the creation of the State of Israel as a catastrophe. CiJ], but today he leads private groups there.

The Palestinian guide who accompanied the group was Ataf Abu Rob, a Palestinian journalist and investigator for B'Tselem who is responsible for several stories published by the [extreme Leftist Haaretz] journalist Gideon Levy. Abu Rob told "Toby" that the Holocaust is "a lie. I don't believe it."

The senior Fatah commander Jibril Rajob also opened his door after he heard about the book that "Toby" planned to publish and told him: "Israel is racist and fascist, it will be isolated like South Africa." Rajoub's close confidantes whispered to Tenenbaum "We are all German, but the only problem is that that we know that General Rommel did not succeed in coming here."

Tenenbaum's book Catch the Jew will be published this week, and he will then not be accepted as a prodigal son in the Palestinian Authority once his cover is blown.

Yad Vashem reacted: "Yad Vashem is careful that the subject of the Holocaust will be presented in detachment from any political agenda. Itamar Shapira was employed in the past as a guide in Yad Vashem and was not careful about these norms, and therefore it was decided about five years ago to terminate him [after he had worked there for three and a half years! CiJ]. Today, we allow outside guides, but we are considering changing this policy."

From B'Tselem the following reaction was received: "B'Tselem condemns any expression of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. The matter will be clarified with the investigator with the full necessary seriousness." Journalist Gideon Levy added: "I traveled to the territories a number of times over the course of the years with Atef Abu Rob. I never conducted political discussions with him and I am not aware of his views. I very much hope that Holocaust denial is not one of them.
Anyone still want to argue that anti-Zionism isn't anti-Semitism? Think about that, Leftist American and European Jews.

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Now he doesn't have to find the 'real killers,' he can call it an honor killing

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

O.J. Simpson can stop looking for the 'real killers' of his wife. He's converting to Islam and that means that all his sins are forgiven (Hat Tip: Jack W).
The disgraced 67-year-old star has become interested in the religion through his friendship with former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, who was imprisoned in the early 1990s and is a devout Muslim.
Simpson has been studying the Koran but failed to successfully fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
An inside said: ”O.J. didn’t quite make it through the entire fasting process.
”He cheated during the day, and bought snacks from the prison canteen. But he’s really serious about converting to Islam. O.J. even made himself a prayer rug for his prison cell. He really likes the idea that upon converting to Islam, all of his previous sins are forgiven. O.J. has a lot to be forgiven for.”
Maybe he can even just call it an honor killing. 

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Friday, August 29, 2014

IDF was forced to forego opportunity to save Daniel Tragerman

Four-year old Daniel Tragerman HY"D (May God Avenge his blood) was killed by a Hamas terrorist mortar shot from Gaza near his home on Kibbutz Nachal Oz last Friday. That mortar fire could have and should have been stopped long before it cost Daniel his life (Hat Tip: Leah P).
A new revelation suggests that the tragic murder of four-year-old Daniel Tragerman hy''d, who was killed by terrorist mortar fire last Friday in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, may have been completely avoidable - if only the IDF was given a free hand against Hamas terrorists.

Israeli TV's Channel 10 on Monday reported that residents of Kibbutz Nahal Oz have said five mortar barrels have been aimed directly at their community by Gaza terrorists since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge on July 8.

The residents claim the IDF told them that three of the barrels are embedded adjacent to schools where displaced Gaza residents are taking shelter, and therefore the IDF did not strike them to eliminate the threat.

They add that the IDF said the two other barrels are located adjacent to the houses of residents that the IDF was unable to contact during the course of the 50 day operation so as to ask them to leave and avoid harming them. As a result, the IDF likewise decided not to strike.

Appraising the effect of such decisions not to strike, the commander of the IAF special reconnaissance Flying Camel Squadron said recently that aborting airstrikes due to Hamas's tactics of embedding among civilians "sabotages" the operation.

Tragerman's parents said they had less than three seconds to take cover, and that their young son did not have time to avoid the mortar shrapnel. They added that they, like many residents in the Gaza Belt, will not be returning to Nahal Oz at the end of the seven-day mourning period.
The IDF doesn't set that kind of policy. The government does. Think about that over Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom everyone.

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High Noon on the Golan Heights: IDF troops 400 meters from Nusra Front terrorists on the Golan

Israeli troops are now 400 meters from ISIS terrorists in a showdown on the Golan Heights after 43 UN troops were kidnapped and 81 more have had their movements restricted.
UN officials shuttled along the rocky frontier between Syria and the Golan Heights on Friday, trying to establish the whereabouts of 43 United Nations peacekeepers seized by Al-Qaida-linked militants inside Syria.

Israeli forces took up positions at Quneitra, a fortified crossing between Syria and the Golan, barely 400 meters from Nusra Front militants, who attacked a UN base on the Syrian side of the border on Wednesday and seized the 43 Fijians.

About 80 UN soldiers from the Philippines, all of whom serve with UNDOF, a UN force that has monitored the disengagement zone between Israel and Syria since the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, remain locked down in two camps on the Syrian side of the frontier, military officers in the Philippines said.

Officials from UNDOF, which has about 1,200 peacekeepers from six countries operating in the zone, declined to comment as they left one of their compounds on Friday.

...

It is the third time in two years that UNDOF troops have been seized on the Syrian side of the demarcation zone, a measure of the instability since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad began. Until then, UNDOF had been one of the quietest UN peacekeeping posts anywhere in the world.

In both previous cases those seized were released within days, UN officials said. But the situation appears to be more precarious this time. A militant close to the Nusra Front said the Fijians had been taken because they had been providing medical treatment to wounded soldiers from Assad's army.
Read the whole thing.

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More Americans want a more engaged foreign policy, but...

In the run-up to the US Presidential election, Hillary Clinton has been arguing for a more engaged foreign policy while Rand Paul has been arguing for isolationism. The American people would like a more engaged foreign policy. That would seem to favor Clinton, but in fact it may ensure that neither candidate is his or her party's nominee.
The percentage of the public saying the country does too little has almost doubled since November, from 17 to 31 percent. Thirty-nine percent say the U.S. does too much. 
Democratic former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been arguing for a more engaged in U.S. presence in the world ahead of a possible presidential run, in contrast to possible opponent Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and, to some extent, President Obama. 
Despite the overall increase in those saying they want the U.S. to do more, however only 24 percent of Clinton's own party say the U.S. does too little, compared to 36 percent who say too much. For Republicans, the numbers are reversed, with 46 percent saying too much and 37 percent too little.
Okay, that last sentence doesn't sound right, does it? So I went to the source:
Republicans, Democrats and independents all are more likely to say the U.S. does too little to solve world problems, but the shift among Republicans has been striking. Last fall, 52% of Republicans said the U.S. does too much to help solve global problems, while just 18% said it does too little. Today, 46% of Republicans think the U.S. does too little to solve global problems, while 37% say it does too much.
Oh yeah, and then there's this:
Obama gets his best rating for handling race relations; nearly half approve of how he is handling race relations (48%) compared with 42% who disapprove. His ratings for handling other issues – including policy toward Israel (37% approve), the situation involving Russia and Ukraine (35%) and the situation in Iraq (35%) – are more negative than positive.
But The Hill doesn't mention that.

Oh, and by the way, Pew says that a majority of Americans thinks Obama isn't tough enough on foreign policy. What a surprise....
Obama’s approach to foreign policy continues to be viewed as not tough enough: 54% say Obama is not tough enough in his approach on foreign policy and national security issues, while 36% say his approach is about right and just 3% say he is too tough.
 Are Americans waking up to the disaster Obama has wrought? We can only hope.

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Flashback: [Then] Defense Minister Ehud Barak: 'Restraint is strength'

DM Ehud Barak told Israel Radio that restraint is strength and those wanting absolute quiet should move to Finland. DM Barak said Israel would act to bring down the Hamas regime in Gaza and when necessary and such action would require retaking the Gaza Strip.

Let's go to the videotape.



Orwellian. How many Israelis do you think would prefer to retake Gaza over living under rocket fire? Sounds like an interesting poll question.

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Colossal #BDS_Fail in the Netherlands

One of Holland's largest pension funds has refused a demand that it divest from three Israeli banks because they finance construction in the disputed territories. The divestment demand came from teflon-coated anti-Semite Desmond Tutu.
ABP, the Netherlands’ €325bn civil service pension fund, has said it will not divest from three Israeli banks due to their alleged involvement in the so-called occupied territories of the West Bank.
In a statement, the board responded to an open letter from Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop for South Africa, who recently waded into the debate over whether the Dutch pension fund should remain invested in the banks.
The board said it would stick with its existing policy for responsible investment and that, “based on objective and rational criteria, the investments are not in violation of national or international legislation”.
Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, argued that ABP had in effect contributed to human rights violations through its €68m investment in Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi and Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot.
The ABP board discussed Tutu’s letter today, together with a petition calling for divestment signed by more than 1.7m people.
The petition was organised by Avaaz, an online civic organisation promoting activism.
The former archbishop’s letter comes as a report commissioned by Avaaz claimed that roughly 50% of the Dutch public believes ABP’s commitment to the banks is “irresponsible”. 
Of the 1,000 respondents to the survey, 10% said ABP’s stakes in the banks were of no concern, while approximately 40% said they had no opinion on the matter.
The survey asked: “If the directors keep ABP’s investments in Israeli banks that support the settlement of Palestinian land by Israeli settlers, would you view their decision as responsible or irresponsible?”
...
Earlier this year, the €152bn healthcare scheme PFZW made the controversial decision to divest from five Israeli banks, including those in which ABP is invested.
Wouldn't it be nice if PFZW reconsidered? 

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President Obama with his golf partners

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (Hat Tip: Jack W).

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William Schabas on why William Schabas should be disqualified from heading Gaza inquiry

Daniel Edelman, the brother of one of my childhood friends, uses William Schabas' own words to explain why William Schabas should be disqualified from chairing the United Nations fact-finding committee on Gaza.
Whether Professor Schabas thinks he can adjudicate the accusations against Israel fairly and independently has no bearing on the question of impartiality.  Judicial disqualification is not dependent on the judge’s subjective assessment of impartiality but is based on an objective test of whether the reasonable person aware of the facts and circumstances might consider the judge to be biased.  For example, the Rome Statute authorizing the International Criminal Court provides: “A judge shall not participate in any case in which his impartiality might reasonably be doubted on any ground.”  Even more directly, the Rules of Procedure and Evidence applicable to the Rome Statute establishes as a “ground[] for disqualification of a judge” the “[e]xpression of opinions, through the communications media in writing or in public actions, that objectively, could adversely affect the required impartiality of the person concerned.”
...
Moreover, Professor Schabas himself instructs that war crimes’ tribunal judges should be disqualified where there is even the appearance of bias under the objective test.  In his book on the UN War Crime Tribunals, Professor Schabas wrote: “A judge may be disqualified in any case in which he or she has a personal interest, or some other association which might affect his or her impartiality.  The test is one of ‘reasonable apprehension of bias.’”
Professor Schabas must concede that UN fact-finding commissions are subject to these same standards of judicial impartiality.  In various interviews, Professor Schabas has emphasized that he and others conducting the fact-finding are obliged to be as impartial as any judge.  Professor Schabas is also likely aware of Professor Thomas Franck’s seminal article relevant to UN fact-finding entitled Procedural Due Process in Human Rights Fact-Finding By International Agencies in which “choice of fact-finders” is one of the “key indicators of procedural probity.”  As Professor Franck wrote: “impartiality. . . certainly implies that persons conducting an investigation should be, and should be seen to be, free of commitment to a preconceived outcome.”
...
Perhaps Professor Schabas considers there to be only a few expert scholars with the necessary knowledge and skills to function as UN fact-finders investigating Israel.  Such elitism, however, should never be rationalized as an excuse for suppressing the fundamental due process protections safeguarding judicial impartiality.  If Professor Schabas genuinely cares about the integrity and fairness of UN fact-finding, he should immediately recuse himself from the commission.  Otherwise, Professor Schabas and the Human Rights Council have only themselves to blame for discrediting this commission as legally invalid.
Read the whole thing.

More of Schabas' words about Israel and Binyamin Netanyahu here, here, here and here. And for good measure, here's one from 2009.

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He wants to bring Gaza to Ramallah

Something tells me that there won't be much enthusiasm for what happened in Gaza among the Arabs in Judea and Samaria. While they hate Israel just as much as their Gaza brethren, the Arabs of Judea and Samaria tend to be less Islamist and less supportive of Hamas than of the 'Palestinian Authority.'

On the other hand, I could see Hamas taking over Judea and Samaria and creating another Gaza-like enclave if Israel lets them (the 'Palestinian Authority' is not strong enough to stop them - Abu Bluff's protests to the contrary).

And that is Hamas 'foreign minister' Mahmoud al-Zahar's dream.

Let's go to the videotape.



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Poll: IDF won Operation Protective Edge, Israel lost, Right would overwhelmingly win election

A poll by the Jerusalem Post and Maariv has found that 61% of Israelis agree with the proposition that the IDF won Operation Protective Edge... but Israel lost.
Sixty-one percent of respondents agreed with the statement that the IDF had won while Israel had lost, while 32% percent disagreed and 7% did not have an opinion.

Respondents expressed frustration with the cease-fire that ended the operation with Hamas still in power in the Gaza Strip. Fifty-eight percent said the IDF should have been allowed to continue the operation in order to degrade the terrorist organization’s military abilities and called the truce a mistake that wastes the achievements of the Israeli armed forces.

Thirty-three percent said the cease-fire was a correct step that could lead toward a diplomatic solution to the Palestinian conflict via PA President Mahmoud Abbas and moderate Arab states like Egypt, and 9% had no opinion.

While a Channel 2 poll broadcasted on Wednesday found that only 32% of Israelis were satisfied with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, he fared better in the Post’s survey.

Nearly half of the respondents, 49%, said they were satisfied with Netanyahu’s performance, 26% said it was mediocre, 20% called it bad, and 5% had no opinion.

...

When asked which party they would vote for if an election were held now, respondents went overwhelmingly with the Right. According to the poll, the Right would win 84 of the 120 Knesset seats, up from its current 61.

The Likud would win 32 mandates, Bayit Yehudi 18, Yisrael Beytenu 17, Labor 12, United Torah Judaism 10, Yesh Atid nine, Shas seven, Meretz six and Arab parties nine.
Notice that the Tzippi Livni party - which Netanyahu fawned over in the aftermath of the last elections - disappeared.

Unless there's enough discontent in the Likud to make the coalition uncontrollable, there won't be new elections now. There is no way Netanyahu wants to head a coalition of the Right like that. Yes, I know, just yesterday I wrote that there would be new elections within six months. Those two assessments don't contradict each other. I believe that there is enough discontent in the Likud and people like Danny Dannon and Moshe Feiglin will rock the boat.

What could go wrong?

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'In a neighborhood featuring Hamas, ISIS, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, just to name a few of the actors, President Obama was “enraged” at … Israel'

Peter Wehner picks up on this quote from the Foreign Policy interview with Martin Indyk that I blogged on Wednesday. First the quote, then Wehner.
Well, it started with Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon attacking [Kerry] publicly during the peace process, which I attribute to two things. One, the defense minister had a very clear sense of what Israel's security needs are and they do not include withdrawing the Israeli army from the Jordan River, which would have to be addressed in the peace negotiations if there was to be a deal. So I think there was a substantive disagreement, but the lack of respect was truly disturbing, specifically given the importance of American security assistance for the well-being of Israel's defense, for which the defense minister is responsible.
But it got completely out of control during the Gaza crisis, where the secretary was assailed for supposedly betraying Israel because he was trying to work with the prime minister on a cease-fire, and he engaged with Qatar and Turkey to test whether they could influence Hamas to stop firing the rockets. And that criticism came not just from the right but from pundits on the left as well -- Haaretz published three articles by their journalists attacking Kerry. I think that's a product of a particular circumstance in which Israelis felt very much isolated, on their own -- that the world didn't understand them. In that defensive crouch, I think they were waiting for a betrayal by the United States even though the secretary and the president repeatedly supported their right to defend themselves. So they interpreted the secretary's actions as being designed to undermine Israel in favor of Hamas and undermine its burgeoning alignment with Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
In fact, nothing could have been further from the truth but that was the perception and, unfortunately, it was a line fed by some unnamed Israeli officials, one of whom described Kerry as launching "a strategic terror attack." That was just outrageous and it enraged the president.
Wehner:
Think about this for a moment. In a neighborhood featuring Hamas, ISIS, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, just to name a few of the actors, President Obama was “enraged” at … Israel. That’s right, Israel–our stalwart ally, a lighthouse of liberty, lawfulness, and human rights in a region characterized by despotism, and a nation filled with people who long for peace and have done so much for so long to sacrifice for it (including repeatedly returning and offering to return its land in exchange for peace).
Yet Mr. Obama–a man renowned for his lack of strong feelings, his emotional equanimity, his disengagement and distance from events, who New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd refers to as “Spock” for his Vulcan-like detachment–is not just upset but “enraged” at Israel.
Add to this the fact that the conflict with Hamas in Gaza–a conflict started and escalated by Hamas, and in which Hamas used innocent Palestinians as human shields–had a very negative impact on America’s relationship with Israel. To show you just how absurd this has become, other Arab nations were siding with Israel in its conflict with Hamas. But not America under Obama. He was constantly applying pressure on Israel. Apparently if you’re a nation defending yourself and, in doing so, you wage a war with exquisite care in order to prevent civilian death, it is reason to earn the fury of Mr. Obama.
It’s clear to me, and by now it should be to others, that there is something sinister in Barack Obama’s constant anger aimed at Israel.
 Most pro-Israel President evah? Don't believe it for a minute. 

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