Sunday, August 03, 2014

Tzuk Eytan (Protective Edge) Day 27

"22 Gazans were killed for ever Israeli. Don't you feel guilty about that?” asked the host of a BBC talk-show. He was speaking to Israel government spokesman Mark Regev, who replied, “Hamas shot 2,700 rockets at Israel. If someone shot rockets at Britain you'd react the same way.”

"But you have the Iron Dome that effectively neutralized the threat,” the host said. Regev responded Israel was lucky to have the Iron Dome or more Israeli lives would have been lost. He said Hamas was trying to kill Israelis, just wasn't succeeding. One viewer watching the interview said, “What, now we're to feel guilty that we have the Iron Dome?”

Regev also pointed out that Hamas was managing the news, prohibiting reporters from showing anything but the destruction caused by the Israeli attacks, or bodies in Gazan hospitals. “Hamas rules Gaza with an iron fist,” Regev told the BBC host, who appeared to brush off any Israeli response to what seemed a pre-disposition to find Israel guilty no matter what the facts. The moderator also asked how Israel could bomb a marketplace when a ceasefire had been declared. Regev seemed put off by the blatant one-sidedness of the questions, but kept his cool. He reminded the moderator that Hamas had broken the ceasefire by firing rockets into Israel so no ceasefire was in place when Israel went after terrorists firing rockets from the marketplace.

Earlier the program discussed the conflict in Gaza with five participants. One the former head of the pro-Arab Al Jazeera TV news station, based in and paid for by Qatar; an Egyptian novelist who thought Egyptians would live to regret unseating Moslem Brotherhood's Morsi as president; and a professor from the London school of Economics who had an Arab name. Two others were former Mossad head Ephraim HaLevi, and a US diplomat.

HaLevi was given a couple of minutes to speak, in which he pointed out that Hamas and Hezbollah were non-state terrorist groups, with Hezbollah members fighting for Assad in Syria, with Iran supplying boots on the ground both in Syria and Gaza, and Russia and Iran supplying the weapons used both in Syria and Gaza. Then he was cut off towards the end of the sentence as the moderator shifted the topic and interviewee.

This was the beginning of a revolution similar to the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution, said the London School of Economics professor. The Israeli humanitarian carnage in Gaza would only fuel this revolution. His words were supported by the Al-Jazerra man, who said that the entire Arab world would now be mobilized against Israel and the west, all because of what Israel was doing in Gaza.

The BBC also ran a special report by chief international correspondent Lyce Doucet on the plight of children in UN schools in Gaza. One observer watching the report commented that Doucet has long been a harsh critic of Israel going back to the time she first began reporting for the BBC. The report on the children was another of her harsh criticisms of Israel. Another report on the BBC gave a balanced background to the conflict, “Israel occupied Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war and only pulled its troops and settlers out in 2005. Israel considered this the end of the occupation, but it still exercises control over most of Gaza's borders, waters and airspace. Egypt controls Gaza's southern border.”

Other stations ran anti-Israeli pro-Palestinian protests around Europe and in Washington. Rarely did the reporters note that the mass of protesters were themselves Palestinians.

As Israel begins to pull forces out of Gaza the questions now begin, did the IDF accomplish the goal of quelling the Hamas attacks? Were the Israeli farms and villages safer after the Israeli incursion into Gaza than before? Would Israel be held to a harsh standard because of the human life lost in Gaza?

Israel's PM Netanyahu told a news conference Saturday night that Israel would continue to do what was necessary to protect Israel's citizens. This even as protesters took to the streets calling on the IDF not to withdraw from Gaza until Hamas was destroyed. Gen (res.) Giora Eiland, former Israeli National Security Advisor, said that Hamas was Gaza. You couldn't separate the two. You couldn't destroy Gaza. The only way to change the situation was to do something that throws Hamas off-balance. So far, Eiland said, nothing like this has been achieved.

Military analysts say that Israel has destroyed 35 tunnels, and will withdraw forces from those areas where the tunnels were located, but keep other troops in place to protect the southern settlements.

Most observers say that a full-scale invasion of Gaza was indeed possible since is a relatively small area, and could be overrun by Israel. The question pundits ask is at what cost to Israeli lives, and Gazan lives. And what comes next? The common thread heard by most experts is that the solution is to have the PA's Abu Mazan take control of Gaza, protected by perhaps Egypt or other outside forces.

2nd Lt. Hadar Golden, believed to have been kidnapped during a Hamas attack, was pronounced deceased on Saturday night. His family was visited by Israel's chief rabbi who gave them the news. Later Moshe Yaalon, Israel's Minister of Defense, visited the family. Golden's death brings the number of soldiers killed to 65. Nearly 140 soldiers are still in the hospital, 11 in grave condition.
The Palestinians claim that approximately 1,700 Gazans have died in the fighting and about 9,000 injured.

Some analysts remind TV viewers of the fact that Hamas kidnapped three Israeli teenagers, then began firing rockets into Israel, and these facts go nearly unnoticed in the foreign press. On Saturday Hamas fired 90 rockets into Israel. One mortar round landed in a farm along the border fence seriously wounding a 70-year old farmer. The Hamas rocket fire continued on Sunday. The fact that Hamas can still fire rockets underlines that Hamas still has the ability to fire weapons into Israel even after 27 days of Israeli counter-attacks.

Where is the fairness in this coverage, asked one concerned Jewish American. A Sky News reporter in Gaza quoted residents who stated that Israel was bombing Mosques simply because they were Moslem structures and that the mosques had no missiles or terrorists in them. He also said that Hamas was demanding and end to the economic boycott of Gaza. One analyst said that had this reporter criticized Hamas in any way he would have at least lost his privilege of reporting from Gaza. In the past Hamas has been known to kidnap reporters and hold them for ransom.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashal admitted to CNN that Hamas had indeed broken the ceasefire on Friday, but only because Israel was occupying Gaza and digging up tunnels. The fact Hamas broke the ceasefire was lost in a previous news cycle replaced by scenes of destroyed buildings in Gaza.

Hamas representatives, along with their partner Islamic Jihad, as well as representatives of Qatar, Turkey, and the PA arrived in Cairo to continue the process of reaching a formal ceasefire. Israel has said it will not attend at this time. Experts say that Cairo will take a tough line against Hamas, not wanting them to achieve any significant goals as a result of this conflict. These pundits point out that Egyptian president Al-Sissi has more than 35,000 prisoners in jail, including many members of the Moslem Brotherhood, a Hamas brother organization.

Critics of PM Netanyahu say that the war against Hamas is ending with muddled results. Tunnels destroyed can be rebuilt. The farms along the border will still be hit with mortars, and long range rockets will still lobbed into Israel when Hamas felt like doing so.

Israeli residents on the Israel/Lebanon border in the north of Israel have reported that they hear tunneling beneath their homes. The terrain in Lebanon is much different than Gaza with hard thick bedrock and basalt rather than soft sand. Drilling equipment and explosives are needed to tunnel. Experts said that once Israel withdraws from Gaza and the south they will focus on the very real tunnel threat along the northern border.

Pundits say that as long as this rise of Islamic Fundamentalism continues, Israel will be on the front line of confronting these groups, functioning as proxies of the west, all the while criticized for the damage incurred in the fighting by the countries they are representing.

As author William Goldman wrote in “The Princess Bride” who ever said life was fair.