Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tzuk Eytan (Protective Edge) Day 15

The EU (European Union) foreign minister called for Hamas to be disarmed. Commentators say this is as a result of the EU and other countries reaching the conclusion that Hamas is the root of the crises.

The FAA issued an ordered to cancel flights to Israel for at least 24-hours. Reportedly, the FAA is concerned that terrorists may fire at airliners taking off or landing in Israel. European countries quickly followed suit. Israel’s national airlines EL, and other Israeli airlines continued flying. Pundits also pointed out that these airlines are constantly considered potential terrorist targets and are equipped with anti-missile technology similar to that found in military aircraft. Other commentators have called the FAA decision "sily." The head of Israel's airports told Israel Radio's Reshet Bet this morning that the FAA decision "hasty," and added that he wasn't about to criticize the FAA in a public forum

Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg has criticized the FAA decision and announced he is flying to Israel today.

At least 29 Israeli soldiers have been killed, as well as two civilians since Hamas began shelling Israel fifteen days ago. One Israeli soldier is reportedly missing, presumed dead, after the APC he was traveling in was attacked. Seven other Israeli soldiers were killed in that battle. Two American immigrants were among the soldiers killed.

Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel. One landed directly on a private house in the central Israeli town of Yehud, not far from Tel Aviv. Sirens sounded throughout the day in Israeli farms and villages along the Gaza border. Yehud is also close to Israel's Ben Gurion airport.

Israel responded with artillery and air attacks, as well as ground actions. So far Israel claims they have taken out 3,000 targets on their list, eliminated nearly 30 tunnels, many of which reached under the fence from Gaza into Israel, and destroyed nearly 50 tunnel openings, from which Hamas fighters emerge, fire rockets, and retreat back underground. Some military commentators say that the major battlefield will be underground in the future.

A days-long “Humanitarian cease-fire” was to have begun at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, that was to give time to work out the terms for a lasting cease-fire, but Hamas refused to accept the terms brokered between Khaled Mashal, Hamas CEO, and Egypt’s representative, with the Palestinian Authorities Mohamed Abbas acting as a go between since Egypt considers Hamas a mortal enemy.

Open borders to Egypt. Release Hamas prisoners held by Israel. These are only two of the demands Hamas made before they’d agree to a ceasefire brokered by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and representative of Egypt’s President Al-Sissi.

US Sec. of State John Kerry also flew in to participate in the talks, although he was not invited. Kerry has succeeded in antagonizing both the Egyptians and Israelis with statements considered unhelpful.

However, Kerry pledged $47 million in aid to Gaza as an incentive to get Hamas to join a cease-fire. Egypt offered to leave the Gaza/Egypt border open for a year if Hamas agreed to a cease-fire. That border has been sealed since Moslem Brotherhood candidate Morsi was ousted from his role as President of Egypt.

Security analysts say that Israel  closed the Gaza/Israel border as a result of Hamas suicide bombers coming freely through the border to Israel. Since the border was closed, and the security fences errected, suicide bombers have been unable to enter Israel.

In a press conference with the UN Sec.Gen Ban, Israel PM Netanyahu reminded the UN leader that Israel has accepted every cease-fire proposal put on the table since the conflict began and Hamas has consistently rejected them.Ban, in his statement, said, “Stop fighting, start talking.” He also said, “The situation cannot return to the status quo.There is no alternative but a two-state solution.” Analysts say that Ban Ki-Moon realized that Hamas had to be dismantled. This as the death toll in Gaza rose to 400 civilians and 200 Hamas fighters.

PM Netanyahu said, “Hamas is like ISIS, …and other Islamist groups (like those that kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls in Africa)  that reject human rights.”  He said the international community should hold Hamas accountable for double war crimes, holding its own people as human shields, and firing on Israel. Netanyahu said this is a phenomenon that affects not only Israel but the world. And that “We will do what we need to do to defend ourselves.”

Funerals took place across Israel again on Tuesday as soldiers who fell in battle were laid to rest. Israel is such a small country that everyone knows someone with a soldier in the army, in the hospital, or wrapped in a shroud.

Commentators point out that Hamas is managing a very successful public relations campaign. Photographers and journalists are heavily censored. Only footage of damaged buildings, homeless civilians, wounded women and children are allowed to be broadcast. One Arab newspaper commented cynically that it appeared only women and children were fighting in the war since no men, certainly no men in uniform or with weapons, are shown in any pictures. Even though Hamas claims over 150 of their fighters have been killed so far in the conflict.

Images of children in hospitals, or in ambulances, are plentiful. As are interviews with Gazans calling for a cessation of Israel’s attacks. One Arab journalist reported from Gaza that the citizens were under siege, and have been for seven years, by Israel on one side and now Egypt on the other.

There is no mention to Israel’s border crossing that has always allowed shipments of food, clothing, medicine and building supplies into the Gaza strip, even if the cement went to build tunnels not homes, offices, or schools.

Israel also controls most of the electricity and water going into Gaza. Neither of these have been cut off. Netanyahu, in his statement to the UN Sec. Gen, reminded him that Israel even opened up a field hospital on the Gaza border to treat Gaza citizens.

Israel’s ground forces continue the search for tunnels. On Monday a group of ten Hamas terrorists emerged from a tunnel, were spotted, and eliminated by a rocket fired from an Israeli helicopter. However the fighting in the densely populated Gaza strip is often man to man. Hamas has also deployed snipers, laid booby-traps, and scurry around with Rocket Propelled Grenades that are fired at slow moving vehicles or Israeli troops deployed in apartments.

The images of the mounting death toll in Gaza has brought about the call for an immediate cease-fire. But those images, according to experts, are exactly what Hamas wants in order to be able to point and yell “massacre” and thus illicit sympathy from the world. Analysts say that seldom do observers from the BBC or even the usually even-handed Sky channel, now with an Arabic speaking woman of apparent Moslem extraction, broadcasting the Hamas side of the story. Pundit point out that any reporter in Gaza caught criticizing the regime risks being ejected, or killed.

A blog entry from a well-meaning American, committed to the existence of Israel, but distressed by the mounting body count among Gaza citizens, was posted recently on the web. One of this persons questions was, what happened to Hezbollah? Where were they? Why weren’t they firing their 30,000 rockets. And Israel must stop the carnage.

Another blogger answered:

Hezbollah has an estimated 100,000 rockets.

They are holding their fire because they simply aren't in Lebanon. They're in Syria fighting with Assad's men.

If they were on the border with Israel we'd be in trouble because there aren't enough Iron Dome anti-missile batteries to go around.
Only one front at a time. Luckily there are enough for the south. Israel needs 23 batteries for all three fronts, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan. So far they only have 9.

Civilian casualties are horrendous. Deplorable. Painful. Israel sent flyers to warn the residents. Then Hamas demanded that everyone stay. As one commentator says, Hamas' leadership is safely underground. Those above ground are treated as Shaiidim, holy fighters who if they die go to heaven, with or without the 72 virgins. Some of these guys in shots in the street will,if they go to heaven and meet 72 virgins, someone better supply them with a case of viagra.

Gaza is the most densely populated area in the world. No way Israel can fight there without people getting hurt, and killed. Including Jews.

Today you may have noticed that 10 terrorists emerged from a tunnel near kibbutz Yad Mordecai, intent on carrying out an attack. Lucky for Israel they were spotted. And killed. Yesterday another group blew up a jeep and killed a few Israelis before rushing back to the tunnels. They meant to kidnap someone. Again, luckily they failed.

So what do you do? Let them continue this terrorism or stop them? Remember that every year or so they start a thunderstorm of rockets on Israel. This time they were surprised that the Iron Dome actually worked and neutralized the threat. But those farmers along the Gaza border have been getting hit by rockets for the last year, a few a week. Would Obama stand for allowing Mexico to send rockets at California?

When Syria decided to go to war with the rebels they were brutal. So far over 150,000 killed. Al Sisi in Egypt overthrew the Moslem Brotherhood (remember one of the big shots of the Moslem Brotherhood, Zarwahari, broke off and formed Al Quada with Bin Laden), locked up the leaders and killed nearly 700 others. Just like that.

Israel is held to, and holds itself to, a higher standard. Everyone on the TV from the most right-wing to the most liberal, abhors the killing of innocent civilians. But tell that to Hamas. They won't stop firing rockets. More fell today in Tel Aviv, luckily again, intercepted by this wonder of engineering the Iron Dome. And if the Iron Dome wasn't there? So far they've fired a few thousands rockets. Imagine if they hit their targets. You'd have dead Jews lining the streets, and corridors of hospitals. Do you think Hamas would care that the UN complained about the tragic loss of civilian life?

Tough situation. Can't quit. And get blamed for fighting.

You have a solution to the problem let’s hear it. One that doesn't factor in that in a year or less Hamas will be back shooting rockets, sending in suicide bomb squads, trying to kidnap soldiers or civilians.

Wish there was an easy answer.

And remember this, as well, the civilian population supports Hamas. The idea of Hamas. That the unbelievers must die.

Go figure.