Some questions about the school incident in Beit Hanoun
You will note from the picture above the drastic decline in agricultural land around Beit Hanoun between 2003 and 2006. The Jews of Gaza were expelled, and the IDF withdrawn, in 2005. That's when Beit Hanoun was turned into a rocket launchpad for Hamas to attack Israel. Just sayin'....
I did several posts on Thursday regarding the alleged shelling of the UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun (last one here). An anonymous reader sent me several questions regarding Beit Hanoun which can serve as food for thought. The bottom line is that we don't know everything. .This is from CNN:
A CNN crew that visited
the school three hours after the hit discovered a one-inch deep hole in
the concrete in the courtyard where people were killed and injured. It
appeared shrapnel struck people within a 30-meter radius. Walls were hit
as high as about eight meters above the ground.
CNN personnel didn't see the remnants of any rocket or missile.
Some witnesses told CNN there were three to four explosions.
NO remnants of any rocket or missile, three hours later. That's an awfully fast clean-up job. Hmmm....
CNN also reported that the IDF said that it had been telling UNRWA for days to evacuate. UNRWA's Chris Gunness claimed no window for evacuation was given.
The IDF said it had told people at the school to evacuate because of the
fighting in the area and given a four-hour window to get people out.
Israeli officials told CNN they had warned U.N. officials for three days
Gunness posted: "Precise co-ordinates of the UNRWA shelter in Beit
Hanoun had been formally given to the Israeli army. ... " Then minutes
later, he tweeted: "Over the course of the day UNRWA tried 2 coodinate
with the Israeli Army a window for civilians 2 leave & it was never
The Israeli military first claimed, in a text sent to journalists,
that the school could have been hit by Hamas missiles that fell short.
Later, a series of tweets from the Israel Defence Forces appeared to
confirm the deaths were the result of an Israeli strike.
"Today Hamas continued firing from Beit Hanoun. The IDF responded by targeting the source of the fire."
night, we told Red Cross to evacuate civilians from UNRWA's shelter in
Beit Hanoun btw 10am & 2pm. UNRWA & Red Cross got the message.
Hamas prevented civilians from evacuating the area during the window
that we gave them."
Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations
Relief and Works agency said there had earlier been "firing around the
compound" and his organisation had asked the Israeli army for time to
evacuate civilians. "We spent much of the day trying to negotiate or to
coordinate a window so that civilians, including our staff, could leave.
That was never granted … and the consequences of that appear to be
tragic." Gunness said the Israeli military were supplied with
coordinates of UN schools where those displaced were sheltering. UN
sources told the Guardian a call was placed to the Israeli military at
10.55am requesting permission to evacuate but their call was not
Sabah Kafarna, 35, had also been sheltering at the school. "At about
11.30 someone from the municipality came to tell us that we were going
to be moved because it was too dangerous. But the buses didn't come.
That's why [there were] so many people all outside when the shells
landed," she said. "The shells came one after the other. I was inside by
the windows when they smashed."
Could it be that Hamas prevented the buses from reaching the school? And by the way, doesn't Gunness' admission that there was earlier 'firing around the compound verify the IDF version that Hamas was firing from the compound?
But Hamas’s leadership structure – Khaled Mashaal in Qatar
and Ismail Haniyeh (head of the political wing) and Muhammad Deif
(commander of the military wing) in Gaza have taken the decision to
continue to confront Israel.
By doing so, the leaders are
inviting Israel to launch the third phase of the offensive, and to lose
any control of when Israel ceases its large-scale military offensive
against Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Hamas has lost more than half of its
rocket arsenal through Israeli air strikes and depletion from its own
use. Should Israel launch its third phase, deterrence will become a
secondary goal, and the IDF will be instructed to attack and destroy
Hamas’s military assets all over Gaza.
Although the targets of
such a phase are unknown, it would not be unreasonable to assume they
would include Hamas’s senior military leadership structure, the
remainder of its weapons factories and rocket stockpiles, regime
buildings, Hamas posts, and large swaths of its territorial divisions
That would necessitate a deeper presence of ground forces inside Gaza, and a further, controlled escalation of the conflict.
could hope to stay on its feet and be able to fire rockets until the
last day of the war, thereby claiming a hollow “victory.” But that
assumption ignores the very real possibility that Hamas’s military wing
may be dismembered by the end of the conflict.
The protesters, who were holding up Palestine Liberation Organization
(PLO) flags and were reportedly of Turkish origin, stormed the field as
the game against the French soccer team Lille was going on. They
proceeded to spit at, curse and kick the Israeli players. Some of the
players retaliated, leading to a brawl on the field.
No one was injured, and the Haifa players were taken off the field by
police officers and instructed to remain in the locker room until
things calm down.
Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat reacted to the incident and
said, “This is a dangerous and seemingly pre-planned incident, and we
must not ignore it.”
Maccabi Haifa said in a statement following the incident, "We
experienced an unpleasant experience of violence on the field and in the
stands. We as a club call for co-existence and patience but this attack
was planned and dangerous in light of the incitement in the Turkish
“We deplore the violence against us, we came to play soccer and we
are sorry that this how the game ended, but this did not happen because
of the sport and because of soccer, but because we are a group
For years we have been warned that one day the 'Palestinians' would 'peacefully' march to Jerusalem and there would be nothing the Israeli security forces could do to stop them. On Thursday night, they marched to Jerusalem. As anyone who is familiar with the situation here could tell you would happen, a riot ensued. One 'Palestinian' is dead, three are in critical condition and more than 200 were wounded.
Some 10,000 Palestinians protested near the checkpoint, throwing rocks,
firebombs and fireworks at Israeli security forces, and setting tires
ablaze. The IDF forces and Border Police were using crowd dispersal
means on the masses.
Hospital officials in Ramallah earlier said three protesters had been
killed, but revised that to one killed and three others in critical
condition and on life support. Some 200 protesters were injured, a
hospital doctor said. Thirteen Israeli police officers were lightly
The IDF Spokesperson's Office did not immediately confirm the
Palestinian casualties. The military was checking reports of live fire
targeting Israeli forces at the checkpoint.
The protest erupted after allies of Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement marched from the West Bank city of
Ramallah to the edges of Jerusalem in protest against Israel's
17-day-old campaign against Hamas militants in Gaza.
Police so far arrested 39 Arab suspects during the protests.
Earlier on Thursday, Israel Police arrested nine suspects in east
Jerusalem, for disrupting the peace and attacking police officers, near
the Old City. The police said it used crowd dispersal methods to restore
At the same time, near the Temple Mount, dozens of east Jerusalem
residents threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police forces. The police
said said they have arrested 10 suspects, and that two police officers
were lightly injured during the clash.
As police prepared for Friday prayers, they planed to heighten security
in the Old City and throughout Jerusalem, as Operation Protective Edge
enters its third week, fueling already heightened tensions between
Arabs and Jews in the capital.
Read the whole thing. It explains the helicopters we've been hearing overhead every night this week all over Jerusalem.
I have been saying for many years that Hamas and Fatah differ only in methodology and not in goals. Perhaps this will wake up some people who waiver between the Right and the Left. Fatah (and the 'Palestinian Authority') is no better than Hamas. The delusion that there is a difference is one of the worst consequences of the Oslo fiasco.
Qatar and Turkey have been vying to replace Egypt as the intermediary between Israel and the 'Palestinians.' Jonathan Schanzer explains why that's not a great idea.
But using the good offices of Qatar is a huge mistake. The same goes
for Turkey. In exchange for fleeting calm, the United States will have
effectively given approval to these allies-cum-frenemies to continue
their respective roles as sponsors of Hamas, which is a designated
terrorist group in the United States.
Since a visit to Turkey by Qatar's ruler Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani,
and amidst reports that Meshal has been shuttling between the two
countries, Doha and Ankara have been floating terms of a joint
cease-fire proposal that would reportedly grant Hamas significant benefits. Specifically, the deal would grant Hamas an open border in Gaza that would allow the group to continue to smuggle rockets and other advanced weaponry at an ever alarming pace.
The Israelis see this as a nonstarter. But the White House is
nevertheless working the phones with Qatar and Turkey to see if a deal
can be struck.
Since the war broke out in early July, Secretary of State John Kerry has reached out at least three times by phone to Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and six times to his Qatari counterpart, Khalid Al Attiyah (Kerry's Mideast chief boasted
last month that the secretary of state "is in very constant contact"
with FM Al-Attiyah and even "keeps his number on his own cell phone").
Kerry was also expected to visit Qatar before Egypt's aborted cease-fire proposal.
It is by now no secret that Qatar has emerged as Hamas' home away
from home and ATM. Shaikh Tamim's father, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani,
visited Gaza in 2012 when he was still the ruler of Qatar, pledging $400 million in economic aid. Most recently, Doha tried to transfer millions of dollars
via Jordan's Arab Bank to help pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants
in Gaza, but the transfer was apparently blocked at Washington's
Since 2011, Qatar has been the home of the aforementioned Khaled Meshal, who runs Hamas's leadership. During a recent appearance on Qatar's media network Al Jazeera Arabic,
Meshal blessed the individuals who kidnapped and ultimately murdered
three Israeli teenagers. He boasted that Hamas was a unified movement
and that its military wing reports to him and his associates in the
political bureau. American officials have revealed that Qatar also hosts several other Hamas leaders. Israeli authorities reportedly intercepted
an individual in April on his way back from meeting a member of Hamas's
military wing in Qatar who gave him money and directives intended for
Hamas cells in the West Bank.
Israeli and Egyptian
officials report that Qatar is so eager for a political win at Cairo's
expense that it actually urged Hamas to reject the Egyptian cease-fire
initiative last week. Doha is also using its vast petroleum wealth to
striking diplomatic effect: one UN official source suggests that UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon would not have made it to Doha for
cease-fire talks on Sunday if the Qataris hadn't chartered him a plane out of their own pocket.
Buffoon Kerry asks fallen soldier's mother how her day is going
US Secretary of State John FN Kerry went to see the parents of US citizen and fallen lone soldier Max Steinberg HY"D (May God Avenge his blood). Kerry put his foot so deeply into his mouth as to make it crystal clear why our rabbis decreed that one who goes to console a mourner should not speak until spoken to.
According to the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, “Kerry entered and exited the room swiftly, surrounded by men in black and refusing to take any questions from press.”
“How’s your day?” Kerry asked as he sat down. “How’s your day?” Evie [Steinberg's mother] asked back. “My day’s going better than yours,” he said.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva at Jerusalem's Crowne Plaza Hotel, where the family are observing the seven-day shiva mourning period, Max's mother expressed gratitude for "all the love" the family had received from complete strangers.
"I cannot believe that all of these people are here for our son, and
all the people that are here are giving us strength to get through this
horrible time for our family," she said.
She recalled how her son had been inspired to join the IDF after
visiting the grave of another fallen lone soldier from America: Michael
Levin, who died fighting with the IDF's Paratrooper Brigade during the
2006 Second Lebanon War.
Max's father told how the Israeli people had "done everything they can to help us live through this very trying time."
Addressing the family's decision to bury Max in Israel - and not in
LA as originally planned - he said they felt their decision had been
validated after visiting Israel.
"...Once we got here and once we've been embraced by so many
wonderful people.. and the beauty of the country and what it all stands
for, there is no other decision."
Some 30,000 people showed up at Steinberg's funeral on Wednesday night.
The IDF Spokesperson's Office said on Thursday night that an initial
investigation into the shelling of a UN-run school in Gaza – which left
at least fifteen dead, and dozens wounded – found that terrorists had
opened fire from the vicinity of the school, and that the army returned
At the same time, Hamas fired in the general direction of the school,
the army said. Civilians in the school were asked to vacate the area,
but refused, the army added.
The Secretary General’s spokesperson emphasized that the United Nations
is still unsure which side committed the attack, but did confirm that UN
workers were killed.
The IDF Spokesperson's Office said it was still looking into the matter;
while IDF sources said the building may have been hit by an errant Gaza
rocket and that that possibility was being examined.
"Such a massacre requires more than one hospital to deal with it," said
Ayman Hamdan, director of the Beit Hanoun hospital. More than 140,000
Palestinians have fled 17 days of fighting during Israel's Operation
Protective Edge, many of them seeking refuge in buildings run by the UN
Chris Gunness, spokesman for the main UN agency in Gaza UNRWA, confirmed the strike and criticized Israel.
"Precise co-ordinates of the UNRWA shelter in Beit Hanoun had been
formally given to the Israeli army ... Over the course of the day UNRWA
tried to coordinate with the Israeli Army a window for civilians to
leave and it was never granted," Gunness said on his Twitter page.
URGENT! Please share with as much people as possible. The Rav hamekoubal Nissim Shalom declared that his grandfather ZT"L appeared to him in a dream and revealed to him that the Machiach is at his door, and ordered him to let as many jewish people as possible know about it as well as many people as possible. The Rav insisted upon the fact that whoever will send this message will be saved from the suffering which are supposed to occur with the coming of Machiach and that whoever won't do it will sustain a substantial loss of money. The Rav asked to send this message to at least 12 people, a number corresponding to the number of the tribes of Israel. It is a very favorable moment now in heaven , and to those who might be skeptical and not believe in the words of the Rav should know that the Rav would never make such a declaration without serious reasons to do so because it is forbidden to give false hopes to the Jewish people. From the Rav Yoel Benharoushe. Thank you to forward to all your contacts.
In a video obtained by The Jerusalem Post, a speech by
Mashaal is distorted to bring Gazans a message that the Hamas leader is a
corrupt politician who lives a lavish life abroad, while benifitting
from the suffering of Palestinian civilians.
"In the name of Allah, most gracious, most compassionate," says
Mashaal in the mock video. "I want to start by thanking the excellent
staff of the kitchen at my hotel."
Later, the leader speaks about hearing about what is happening in
Gaza and adds: "The hotel cost me the same as the price of a hospital
and three tunnels in Gaza."
Messages of this sort, according to reports on Palestinian social
media, are an almost daily occurrence. Israel gains control of TV
stations and broadcasts numerous videos mocking Hamas leaders.
has also attempted to psychologically affect the citizens of Israel
through hacking during the more than two weeks of hostilities.
organization has released a series of threatening videos on Youtube,
mocking the Israeli government in Hebrew and touting the strength of
Hamas. Pro-Hamas hackers succeeded last week in interrupting a live
Channel 10 news broadcast with their own propaganda.
And of course, let's go to the videotape... with English subtitles.
Israelis who found themselves in Turkey when the FAA ban on flying to Israel was announced are stuck. Turkish Airlines is not flying to Israel before July 31, and the Turkish authorities refuse to let El Al in.
Israelis yelled at Turks in Ataturk airport today, after the US
Federal Aviation Administration lifted its ban on flights to Tel Aviv,
and Turkish Airlines responded by extending its ban until July 31.
nearly four thousand stranded Israelis on outbound flights has been a
challenge, no doubt aggravated by the fact that Turkey will not let El
Al, Israel's national airline, land at its airports to airlift out its
One religious Israeli woman, on her third visit to the massive
Turkish hub, said she was prepared to bear the wrath of her family and
break Shabbat if she could just get a flight home on Saturday morning.
But those flights, too, were cancelled, as nearly all European airlines followed the Americans in lifting the ban.
Israeli man complained, quite loudly, that the airline was suggesting
he spend hundreds of dollars to reroute through Amman. Yet another said
she was prepared to travel by boat before remaining in Constantinople
Turkish Airlines offered passengers one night free in a four star
hotel, within the city limits here in Istanbul, including food and
transportation to and from the airport.
But with days more on the
ground, Israelis - and foreign nationals planning travel to Israel -
will accrue steep costs to extend their stays.
For those of you who thought you were saving money by flying Turkish, maybe you want to reconsider next trip?
Oh my... Al-Qassam Brigades office next to Shifa hospital emergency room
Elder catches a whopper. The headquarters of Hamas' Izz-e-Dine-al-Qassam Brigades (their 'armed wing') is one room over from the emergency room in Gaza City's Shifa hospital.
After four blocked attempts to leave Gaza without explanation over
weeks, the Palestinian journalist was summoned by the security services
of Hamas on Sunday. "I received a call from a private number. They
summoned me to Al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza City center, " explains
Radjaa. He carried with him his two phones, his press card and a small
A few meters from the emergency room where the injured from bombings are constantly flowing, in the outpatient department, he was received in "a small section of the hospital used as administration" by a band of young fighters.
They were all well dressed, which surprised Radjaa, "in civilian
clothing with a gun under one's shirt and some had walkie-talkies " . He
was ordered to empty his pockets, removing his shoes and his belt then
was taken to a hospital room "which served that day as the command
office of three people."
A man begins his interrogation: "Who are you? Who do you call? What are
you doing?" "I was very surprised by the procedure," admits Radjaa,
who showed him his press card in response. Questions came. They asked if
he speaks Hebrew, he has relations with Ramallah. Young Hamas
supporters insistently ask the question: "Are you a correspondent for
Israel?" Radjaa repeated that only works for French media and a chain
of Algerian radio.
It was then that the three men delivered this message: "This is yours to
choose. We are an executive administration. We will carry the message of
Qassams. You have to stay at home and give us your papers. " Stunned
to be covered by the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of
Hamas, Radjaa tried to defend himself and especially to understand why
such a decision was taken against him. In vain. "It is impossible to
communicate with these people," laments the journalist.
IDF SPOKESPERSON SMS. 44.7.2014
IDF: The IDF is currently in the midst of combat, with Hamas terrorists
in the area of Beit Hanoun, who are using civilian infrastructure and
international symbols as human shields. In the course of the afternoon,
several rockets launched by Hamas from within the Gaza Strip landed in
the Beit Hanoun area. The IDF is reviewing the incident.
Al Jazeera's correspondent Nicole Johnston, reporting from Gaza, said
the school in Beit Hanoun came under fire on Thursday. She said sources
had told Al Jazeera that up to 30 people had been killed in the
The Gaza health ministry later said that 15 were confirmed dead, and 200 injured.
The AFP reported a UN official as confirming "multiple dead and injured".
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Robert Turner, the director for
UNRWA, the UN's humanitarian organisation in Gaza, said there was no
warning from the Israelis before the shells landed. He confirmed there
He said the UNRWA were in contact with Israeli forces about a window to evacuate the school before the attack happened
"This is a designated emergency shelter," he said. "The location was conveyed to the Israelis.
"This is the fourth strike on our installations in three days."
Israel has attacked UN schools before, saying that they were safe havens for the armed Palestinians.
UN has criticised the Palestinian groups various times for using UN schools to hide fighters and weapons.
Turner said he had no information that there was military activity around the school.
"This was an installation we were managing, that monitored [to ensure] that our neutrality was maintained.
The IDF has learned its lesson and is not taking responsibility. It's investigating.
Of course, the source for all the casualty numbers is the Gaza Ministry of Health, and as my friend Aussie Dave has shown, the ministry has a penchant for double counting casualties.
Following our previous Gazan casualties analysis - which was deliberately based on the Al Jazeera list
(itself based on data from the Gaza Health Ministry) to prove a point –
our reader noticed that the list itself is replete with duplicate
names. In fact, there are at least 33, as I have attempted to show
below. Note there could actually be way more.
I have no doubt this is a deliberate ploy on the part of the Gaza
Health Ministry, to inflate the number of dead for propaganda purposes.
Which also begs the question. How many of these named people died
from rockets launched by Hamas (which misfired and landed in Gaza), or
in traffic accidents, honor killings or even natural causes?
These outrageous, vulgar, and violent sentiments provide insight into
the real views of groups like CAIR, ICNA, and the others listed on the
event flier.“Peace” protestors sponsored by these groups are normally able to stay relatively polite and on message, however,
the appearance of Israel supporters sent them into a revelatory frenzy
of great importance. Not all of the demonstrations these groups promote
will contain such overtly hostile messaging, but as the video proves,
peaceful-sounding chants are synonymous with calls to war.
Anti-Israel fanatics are predictable in that they utilize a constant
theme of claiming to be victims while simultaneously inciting hatred and
violence.What isn’t predictable is what they will chant in public.When similar protests take place, one should keep in mind the true motivation behind these “peace” mobs.
It doesn't take much to cause them to be uncivil, does it?
Israel's high tech industry may have suffered its first casualty of the current operation in Gaza. A key backer in Israel of something called the Y Combinator has withdrawn his support in response to its founder's pro-Hamas tweets (Hat Tip: Sunlight). The founder - Paul Graham - is a major high tech figure in Silicon Valley.
This is from the first link.
A heated exchange on Twitter between venture capitalist giant Paul
Graham and supporters of Israel, could delay plans by Graham’s Y
Combinator’s accelerator to recruit in Israel.
Tweets posted by Graham
that described the destruction wrought by the IDF in Gaza, but without
any citations of Hamas attacks on Israel. That led heavyweight Israeli
venture capital figure Roi Carthy to announce he was withdrawing an
offer to help Y Combinator (YC) recruit potential participants in
is considered one of the most prestigious accelerator and start-up
venture capital funds in the world. With over 700 start-ups funded since
2005, valued at over $30 billion, acceptance into the program is as
close to a guarantee of commercial and funding success as a start-up can
hope for. According to Graham, one of the group’s four founders, the
average valuation of Y Combinator-backed companies is $45.2 million.
All of the group’s programs take place in
Silicon Valley, and Y Combinator generally focuses on American
start-ups. Cognizant of the start-up scenes elsewhere, however, the
group announced several months ago that it was planning to step up its
recruiting elsewhere. Israel was in Y Combinator’s sightsl, and Carthy, a
managing partner at Tel Aviv-Sao Paolo investment firm Initial Capital — as well as former Israeli correspondent for the TechCrunch
website, which carries stories about Israeli start-ups and tech firms —
promised to help get the word out about Y Combinator’s programs to
“A couple of months ago though, I was
connected to a YC partner who is planning to be in Israel early August
to spread the YC gospel,” Carthy wrote in a blog post.
“I was happy to lend a hand by organizing a meet-up at a local bar and
getting the word out. “But I am now rescinding my offer,” Carthy wrote.
“I will not lend my hand to an organization that is comfortable with its
founder criticizing a nation, while at the same time, pitching to
incubate its best and brightest.”
Graham, said Carthy, makes no secret of his
sympathy for the Palestinian position, while ignoring the context of
Israeli responsive actions, such as Israel’s decision to hit Gaza
terrorist targets after facing thousands of rockets fired by Hamas
terrorists before Operation Protective Edge. “Paul has been making his
views known via tweets over the past few years,” wrote Carthy. “Nothing
new under the sun in this respect,” he noted.
“It’s not uncommon to accept that an
individual’s views do not reflect that of his employer. However, much as
it would be unacceptable to separate misogynistic views of a founder
from reflecting upon his company, I cannot separate Paul’s continued
views about Israel from YC,” Carthy added.
Read the whole thing. I just hope Roi is able to come up with something equivalent either on his own or with someone else.
Video: Hillel Neuer speaks out at the 'human rights council's emergency session on Gaza
Dictatorships attempt to silence UN Watch's Hillel Neuer at the July 23,
2014 UNHRC emergency session on Gaza. Interruptions came from Iran,
Syria, Egypt, the "State of Palestine," Cuba and Venezuela. The U.S.
and Canada defended Neuer's right to speak.
Video and more: Hamas terrorists at Al-Wafa hospital (Gaza City)
This write up came from the IDF spokesperson's office and was posted here.
Background Information – Al-Wafa Hospital
Al-Wafa hospital, located near Shajuayia in Gaza City, is a Hamas military
The hospital housed a Hamas command and control center, and was utilized to
direct and supervise the ongoing battles in the area. Among the hospital
grounds, there was a lookout post, used to gather intelligence and monitor
IDF forces activities in order to carry out attacks.
In addition, there were several access shafts to the Hamas tunnel network from within
On July 22, 2014, at the request of the IDF, the hospital was evacuated from
patients and staff, and continued to be occupied by Hamas gunmen, that
continued to fire at the IDF forces.
On July 21, 2014, the head of the Israeli Coordination and Liaison
Administration (CLA) with Gaza confirmed with the Head of the WHO (World
Health Organization) in Gaza that he has informed the hospital manager three
times, that the premises should be vacated. The head of the WHO stated that
the hospital manager declared there were no patients or staff in the
hospital, and that the building is empty. This was confirmed by the Gaza CLA
on July 23, 2014.
Attached is footage of the IAF strike carried out earlier today [July 23] at terror
targets in the site. Secondary explosions are visible in the footage,
indicating an extensive amount of weaponry stored.
The soldiers, who come from the Medical Corps, the Human Resources
Directorate, and the Military Rabbinate, are accused of sending
information about the identities of soldiers killed in action before
the names had been made public. The messages that made their way around
Israel included photos of the coffins of soldiers being prepared.
In a number of cases, relatives who received the messages learned of
their loved ones’ deaths before they had received an official
notification from the IDF. In other cases, false information reporting
that soldiers had been killed had made it to their relatives. Those
relatives spent hours thinking that tragedy had befallen them before
the mistake could be clarified by the IDF.
“Notifying a family of a soldier or an officer who was killed in action
is one of the most sensitive and well-planned procedures that exist in
the military, as befits such a serious moment,” the military said.
The IDF said that the arrests followed an investigation that it
described has having employed “both open-source and undercover means.”
“The unauthorized WhatsApp messages were irresponsible and spread quickly across social networks,” it said.
The issue of information passing via WhatsApp has been a serious one as
of late for the army. A commercial played in recent weeks on Army
Radio has instructed soldiers not to talk about operational information
on the application for fear it could fall into the wrong hands.
While these arrests will certainly have a deterrent effect, I don't think they will change anything in the long run. We live in a global village and foreign media report things that the Israeli media tries to keep secret for far too long. While I agree in principle that families of casualties ought to hear about it from the IDF (where there are units that are trained in how to inform families) and not from the media, I also believe that the government and the IDF are not realistic about how quickly stories spread in this country. This is a small country, nearly everyone in the work place has been involved in the military at some point, and what you hear at a water cooler during your coffee break at the average high tech company is probably far more informative - and tempting to spread - than anything you might read on Israel Matzav. In fact, many people argue that with the rise of Twitter and WhatsApp and other instantaneous methods of disseminating information, blogging may soon be (or may already be) passe.
On Wednesday, Peter Stefanovic of Australia’s Channel Nine News
tweeted: “Hamas rockets just launched over our hotel from a site about
two hundred metres away. So a missile launch site is basically next
An account called @ThisIsGaza said this was Stefanovic’s fourth time
“passing and fabricating information to Israel... from GAZA” and
threatened to sue him.
Another account, @longitude0 wrote: “You are a cretin. Are you working for the IDF” and “in WWII spies got shot.”
Financial Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief John Reed reported seeing “two
rockets fired toward Israel from near al-Shifa hospital, even as more
bombing victims were brought in.”
Shifa, in Gaza City, is the main medical facility in the Strip [and is where the Hamas leadership is hiding out. CiJ].
In response, @Saritah_91 tweeted: “We’ll hold you responsible if Israel
uses your tweet to bomb the hospital & then justify it.”
Another twitter user, @ Faysal_FreeGaza, said he’s “subtly justifying
and encouraging IDF attacks on hospitals,” and @Maysara_ ara wrote:
“Get out of Gaza u informant.”
Harry Fear, a journalist from the UK reporting from Gaza for RT
(formerly Russia Today) television, tweeted last week: “Early morning
Gaza rockets were fired into Israel. A well-known site in W. Gaza City,
near my hotel, was among the origins, confirm locals.”
Fear then took on the critics, tweeting soon after that he rejects
“loaded complaints that I ‘informed’ Israel about the specifics of Gaza
military sites... These sites are well-known among locals and
“Should a journalist only report the noise and ferocity of Israel’s
attacks & not the sounds of Gaza’s rockets? Both terrify people,”
Later that day, Fear tweeted: “Al-Wafa hospital has been hit in the
last while; injuries reported – this is the hospital with human
While a Goldstone 2 is unlikely to be any less biased than the GoldstoneCommission after Operation Cast Lead, these tweets should be filed away for future reference. If a future inquiry (there's already one in the making - more on that later) is biased against Israel, these tweets can be used to show that Israel acted justifiably.
The US Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on flights to Israel in response to 'increased security measures' undertaken by the IDF.
The decision to cancel the flight restrictions came after "working with
its US government counterparts to assess the security situation in
Israel and carefully reviewing both significant new information and
measures the Government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks
to civil aviation," the FAA said in a statement released Thursday
With the exception of British Airways, which continued flying to and
from Israel, most major European carriers, including Lufthansa and Air
France, also suspended their flights Tuesday. On Wednesday Lufthansa
said it would suspend flights – including its affiliates Germanwings,
Austrian Airlines, Swiss and Brussels Airlines – for another 24 hours as
Prime Minister Netanyahu had raised the ban with US Secretary of State John FN Kerry on Wednesday after Kerry's arrival in Israel was derided on social media as proof that the airport is safe.
The US national aviation authority has lifted a ban on American flights to Israel, but warned of a "very fluid situation" amid intense fighting with Palestinians in nearby Gaza, AFP reports Thursday.
"The FAA has lifted its restrictions on US airline flights into and out of Israel's Ben Gurion Airport by canceling a Notice to Airmen it renewedearlier today," the Federal Administration Agency said in a statement.
Before making its decision, the FAA said it worked with US government officials to evaluate the security situation in Israel and "carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation."
It did not, however, indicate what the new information might entail.
I suspect strongly that the 'new information' is that on Wednesday, Israel destroyed the rocket launchers that were being used to target Ben Gurion Airport. I didn't hear or read that anywhere and I have no source for it. It's just my speculation.
FAA extends flight ban, most European airlines join
The Federal Aviation Administration has extended its ban on American carriers flying to Ben Gurion Airport for another 24 hours until 7:15 pm Israel time on Thursday, and most European carriers (with the notable exception of British Airways) have joined.
Delta, United and US Airways all cancelled their scheduled flights for Wednesday, as did a raft of European carriers including Germany's Lufthansa, Air France, Poland's LOT and others.
"We will continue to suspend flying to and from Tel Aviv ... and will continue to coordinate with the FAA to ensure the safety of our customers and employees," a United spokeswoman said.
"We plan these things conservatively," added US carrier Delta's chief executive Richard Anderson, speaking on the CNBC business news cable channel. "But we will need concrete information from our government that lets us draw an independent conclusion ... that it's going to be safe for our passengers and our employees."
Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Finnair, Iberia, Lufthansa, Air Berlin, Aegean and SAS cancelled services to Tel Aviv, as did Turkish Air. British Airways flights continued.
"At the moment there is no reliable new information that would justify a resumption of flight service," said Lufthansa in a statement.
Austrian, which carries up to 700 passengers between Vienna and Tel Aviv every day, and SAS said they would review the situation for Thursday.
Aeroflot and Romanian carrier TAROM, on the other hand, said they would resume flights Wednesday after cancelling Tuesday. Air Canada cancelled one flight on Wednesday and another Thursday.
I don't see Alitalia on the list. Hmmm.
This is a huge incentive for the IDF to take care of business ASAP.
Quietly, foreign journalists acknowledge Hamas is using human shields
Honest Reporting has posted a group of three tweets (one since removed) and four article excerpts in which foreign journalists acknowledge that Hamas is using human shields.
Here are two of the stories they published.
4. Another report by Washington Post correspondents from 17 July recounts:
During the lull, a group of men at a mosque in northern
Gaza said they had returned to clean up the green glass from windows
shattered in the previous day’s bombardment. But they could be seen
moving small rockets into the mosque.
Hamas criticizes that “Israel massacres civilians”. On
the other hand, it tries to use evacuating civilians and journalists by
stopping them and turning them into “human shields”, counteracting
thoroughly with its guerrilla tactics…
Hamas’s “Human Shield” strategy is also aimed at foreign journalists…During
the current battle, Hamas’s checkpoint was bombarded, and there was
temporary checkpoint at another location. To some 20 journalists who
wished to leave, Hamas staff member suddenly told, “Israel closed the
checkpoint… However, when I called IDF personnel at the checkpoint, he
said that “We haven’t got attacked and we are open as usual…”. While
were discussing what to do, the same Hamas staff member shouted, “in 5
minutes Israel seems to conduct an airstrike on here. Return immediately
to Gaza!” All the journalists returned to Gaza by car. But we
remembered that Hamas, during the conflict with Israel in November 2012,
also closed checkpoints to block outflow.
Zany Zehava calls for investigating Rabbi Lior for stating Jewish law in time of war
Zany Zehava Gal-On of the MeretzSheretz party has called on the Attorney General to 'investigate' Rabbi Dov Lior for 'incitement' for stating that Jewish law permits punishing and crushing the enemy, including the civilians among whom Hamas embeds itself.
Lior said that he had received questions about whether it is permitted
according to Jewish law to harm a civilian population not directly
involved with the combatants.
“At a time of war it is permitted for the people who are attacked to
punish the enemy population with measures such as blocking supplies or
electricity and to shell the entire area according to the considerations
of the minister of the army and not to needlessly endanger soldiers but
rather to take crushing warning steps to exterminate the enemy,” Lior
Addressing the current hostilities with Hamas, the rabbi
continued “In the case of Gaza, it would be permitted for the Minister
of Defense to even order the destruction of all of Gaza so that the
south will no longer suffer and to prevent injury to our people who
have been suffering for so long from the enemies surrounding us.”
added that “talk of humanism and consideration are as nothing when
weighed against saving our brothers in the south and across the country
and the restoration of quiet to our land.”
You might recall that the IDF's previous chief rabbi, Avichai Ronsky, was forced out for a similar 'offense' to Lior's.
And perhaps this is the place to include a video that many people have sent me over the past week, and which I was holding because I thought it included music and we don't listen to music now - the three week mourning period over the destruction of the Temples. But this isn't music - it's only singing.
Moments before these Israeli soldiers enter Gaza and place their lives at risk for the sake of the Land of Israel, they prepare themselves by singing and dancing songs of faith in the G-d of Israel. They are singing:
1) "The whole world is a narrow bridge and the main thing is not to be afraid" - a famous rabbinical phrase
2) Serve G-d with joy and come before Him with song
3) "We Have No one Rely Upon Except Our Father In Heaven"
Let's go to the videotape.
I'm sure that the soldiers' reliance on God rubs Zany Zehava the wrong way.....
Germany's Lufthansa on Wednesday suspended flights to and from Tel
Aviv for an additional 24 hours. The decision also applies to
Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss and Brussels Airlines.
the present time no adequate authoritative new information is available
that would justify a resumption of flights. In close coordination with
the responsible authorities Lufthansa is continually evaluating the
safety situation for its total flight network," the company said.
On Tuesday, it suspended flights for 36 hours following a decision by
America's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to suspend travel to
and from Israel. A rocket had fallen in a house in Yehud, a residential
area near the airport, earlier in the day.
Delta Air Lines will
also extend its suspension of flights to Israel on Wednesday amid
hostilities between Israel and the militant group Hamas, its chief
executive said on CNBC.
"Today ... we are not flying to Israel," Delta CEO Richard Anderson said in an interview with CNBC.
comments come a day after air carriers in the United States and Europe
halted flights to Tel Aviv as turmoil in Israel and the Gaza Strip
The FAA on Tuesday
said it told US carriers they were prohibited from flying to or from
Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv for up to 24 hours, citing "the
potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel
At least Delta is consistent.
"We will not allow a flight to be dispatched over Iran, Iraq, Syria,
Ukraine, Afghanistan or North Korea," he told CNBC. "We make this
decision wholly independent of any geopolitical or regulatory mandate."
I'm shocked. Just shocked. (Not). The IDF discovered maps, IDF uniforms and weapons (of course) in yet another terror tunnel uncovered by the Givati brigade on Wednesday.
Operation Protective Edge's ground offensive has uncovered the full
extent of tunnel terror into Israel Wednesday, after a shaft uncovered
by the Givati Brigade was revealed to be holding IDF uniforms, maps, and
a full weapons cache.
I would not bet that they uncovered the full extent yet. Let's see what's under Shifa Hospital.
The IDF has not yet located and destroyed all of Hamas' terror tunnels, but the consensus about the intent behind them is quite clear. This is Jonathan Dahoah HeLevi of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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. These tunnels
penetrate deep into Israeli territory, sometimes reaching a length of
2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles).
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.
The prime danger, the second half of the
terror strategy that has required us to send our troops into Gaza, has
turned out to be Hamas’s cross-border tunneling, the scale of which was
not publicly known until the last few days. Labor Party leader Isaac
Herzog spoke Tuesday of the “unimaginable” mega-terror attack Hamas is
believed to have been planning — sending hundreds of terrorists swarming
through those tunnels to massacre Israelis in the Gaza-envelope
kibbutzim and moshavim. Netanyahu said Sunday that the intended Hamas
attacks on kibbutz kindergartens, homes and dining halls would have been
Five times in recent days, trying to use those
tunnels before the army finds them, well-armed terror gangs have made
their way through — entering them from beneath homes in the Gaza
neighborhoods a few hundred yards from the border, and emerging inside
Israel. An estimated 20 Hamas gunmen have been killed in the subsequent
confrontations; so have six IDF soldiers. Kibbutzim and moshavim close
to Gaza have been placed on shutdown for long hours while the army
made sure there were no more killers on the loose. Troop deployments on
the Israeli side have been significantly bolstered.
But those are defensive measures. The real
battle is taking place in those Gaza border neighborhoods — Shejaiya,
Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun and others — where thousands of Israeli solders
are searching, house to house, for the tunnel entrances. Dozens of
openings have been found — multiple entrances to the underground
passages that also have multiple exits on the Israeli side. Time after
time, Hamas gunmen have sought to surprise the Israeli soldiers by
rising out of the earth from these openings, and firing. They’ve been
largely unsuccessful. Ten Hamas gunmen were shot dead attempting the
feat from one tunnel opening inside a mosque on Sunday, military sources
said — just one of numerous such incidents.
Israel says some 210 Hamas fighters have been
killed; more than 20 have been captured and are providing intelligence
on the tunnels.
And finally there's this - long on details that I have been unable to confirm and short on verification or even a source (the person who posted it on Facebook did so without a link and has refused repeated entreaties to post one). Even if the details are all wrong (and they're probably not - lots of information that the army doesn't release gets disclosed around the water coolers at Israeli workplaces), it is a concrete example of what HaLevi and Horovitz are discussing above.
the 48 Hamas prisoners that have been captured, the intelligence have
been interrogating them and the most terrifying, and horrific picture is
They are being investigated about the many tunnels
that have been found and dug under many kibbutzim that surround Gaza.
The most terrifying detail is being uncovered that Hamas had a plan to
attack all the settlements and kibbutzim in the area this year on Rosh
Hashanah with an invasion of over 200 terrorists into almost all the
settlements in the area. The tunnels went under the kibbutzim under the
kindergartens and dining rooms and other areas within the kibbutz
perimeters. They planned to occupy the whole area and kill as many
Israeli as possible.
This could have been the worst terror attack
in the history of terrorism. Thousands of people, including women and
children would have been slaughtered in this planned attack.
think now we start to understand how dangerous these tunnels really are.
They all have to be destroyed and we cannot leave even one undetected
or unattended to. These tunnels are more dangerous than any rocket or
any other weapon .
What else happens on those 10-day trips? There is a lot of hooking up
and plenty of, as Feldman writes, “reinforcing the Zionist claim to the
land” (Feldman’s tour guide identified everything they saw out of the
bus window as “in the Bible,” and her group was given maps that
identified the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria”). And, “at some point
during their all-expenses-paid ten-day trip to a land where, as they are
constantly reminded, every mountain and valley is inscribed with 5,000
years of their people’s history,” there is “the moment”— the moment when
participants realize just how important Israel is to them, to their
fundamental identity, and how important they are to Israel.
According to Steinberg’s parents, that is exactly what happened to Max. His mother told the Washington Post
that, initially, he didn’t want to go on the Birthright trip, but once
he did, it changed him. It was on his group’s visit to Israel’s national
cemetery at Mount Herzl that Steinberg saw the grave of an American
“lone soldier” who died fighting for Israel and “decided that Israel was
where he wanted to be.” He joined the IDF, his father said, because he saw it as an obligation were he to stay in Israel.
Birthright says that aliyah—the immigration of diaspora Jews
to Israel—is not one of its goals, but like Steinberg, many
participants come away with the feeling that Israel is where they
belong. Birthright estimates that 20,000–30,000 of its participants
have acted on that feeling by moving to Israel. I have known many young
American Jews who have made the same decision—who at 18 decided that
they belonged in Israel and, though they’d never considered joining the
American military, moved across the ocean to join the IDF right after
high school. People say Birthright is “just like camp,” and it sure sounds like a very condensed version of the Jewish camp I attended as a kid,
whose purpose was, at the very least, to foster a connection to Israel
in young Jews—and at best, to get us to move to the country and fight
for it. My camp, filled with the children of liberal American Jews, did
this by presenting a very simplistic picture of the political situation
in Israel and the threat to Jews worldwide, all within the context of
helping to fix the world while having the time of your life. Birthright
does a form of the same.
On Tuesday, Birthright issued a statement from its CEO, Gidi Mark.
“We are deeply saddened to inform you of the tragic loss of one our
Taglit Birthright Israel alumni Max Steinberg,” Mark wrote. “His life—a
life filled with promise cut short far too soon—will live in our hearts
forever as a reminder of the sacrifices he and so many before him have
made to keep Israel safe.”
What makes an American kid with shaky Hebrew and no ties to the state
of Israel suddenly decide he is ready to make this sacrifice? Maybe Max
was especially lost, or especially susceptible, or maybe he was just
looking to do some good and became convinced by his Birthright
experience that putting on an IDF uniform and grabbing a gun was the way
to do it. That serving and protecting the Jewish people was the moral
thing to do, and that the best way to accomplish it was to go fight for
the Jewish state. It turns out that it’s not that hard to persuade young
people to see the world a certain way and that Birthright is very good
at doing it. You spend hundreds of millions of dollars to convince young
Jews that they are deeply connected to a country that desperately needs
their support? This is what you get.
Maybe this explains why 78% of American Jewry voted for Barack Obama - his non-support of Israel notwithstanding. Because to them, being Jewish isn't about joining their lives and fate to that of the Jewish people, including by supporting Israel. It's about liberalism and liberal values and not seeing the basic goodness and morality embodied in the Jewish state. Max Steinber saw it and that's why he came here. His death is a tragedy, but it should not be used as a club with which to destroy Birthright. He was not brainwashed. He chose to realize his identity with the Jewish people.
By the way, 30,000 people attended Max Steinberg's funeral in Jerusalem last night. Even John Kerry was moved (check out the link). And another 6,000 attended the funeral of French lone soldier Jordan Simon in Ashkelon, where the biggest concern was that too many people would show up and there would ba rocket attack during the funeral.
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-two years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 10 to 30 years and six grandchildren. Our eldest daughter and eldest son are married! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com