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Friday, July 03, 2015

07/03 Links Pt2: Netanyahu: UNHRC cares nothing for human rights; Flotilla Brought Hate, Not Aid

From Ian:

Vote approving UN’s Gaza war probe a case of much talk, few consequences
It came as no surprise whatsoever that the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday approved a resolution backing the controversial McGowan Davis report on last summer’s 50-day Israel-Hamas war.
The European Union deliberated until virtually the last minute on how to vote, but eventually decided to throw its full support behind the resolution welcoming a report that Israel considers to be deeply biased and skewed. The desire among the Europeans to speak with one voice eventually led even Germany to vote yes, in what will be perceived as a particularly painful sting in Jerusalem. As so often happens, only the US rejected the resolution.
But even if Israel had succeeded in splitting the European vote into many yeses and a few abstentions, the automatic Arab majority in the 47-member council meant that the end result was never in doubt.
Israeli diplomats in Geneva spent many hours trying to persuade their colleagues to vote against the resolution. Several Israeli politicians, from the coalition and opposition, sent letters urging council members to reject draft resolution A/HRC/29/L/35. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited the ambassadors of the countries sitting on the council to Jerusalem for a special briefing (though according to a diplomat who was there, he spoke mostly about Iran).
The bad news is obvious: Once again, Israel was let down not only by the usual suspects, but also by countries that it considers its friends.
During the debates that preceded the vote on the resolution, Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba and other countries with questionable human rights records voted against resolutions condemning Syria and Belarus. Yet on Friday they all happily voted in favor of a text that, at best, put Israel and Hamas on the same moral plane. (Since the McGowan Davis report strives to differentiate between Hamas and what it calls “Palestinian armed groups,” it actually spares Hamas the kind of direct criticism it levels at Israel.)
Full text of UNHRC resolution on Gaza war probe
The following is the full text of Friday’s UN Human Rights Council resolution backing last week’s report by the Gaza Conflict Commission of Inquiry. It is titled “Ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”:
Netanyahu: UNHRC cares nothing for human rights
Israel officials on Friday tore into the UN Human Rights Council’s adoption of a report on last summer’s war between Israel and the Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip. The report charged that Israel, as well as Hamas, may have committed war crimes during Operation Protective Edge.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response to the vote — which was supported by all European members of the UNHRC — that “the UN’s Human Rights Council cares little about the facts and less still about human rights.”
He added: “On a day when Israel is hit by fire from the Sinai, when Islamic State is carrying out cruel terror attacks inside Egypt, in Syria [President Bashar] Assad is slaughtering his people and in Iran the number of arbitrary executions rises on an annual basis, the council decides to condemn Israel that has committed no sins. Israel will continue to defend its citizens from those who call for its destruction and act every day to achieve this.”
Archival documents reveal secrets of mission to rescue Israeli hostages at Entebbe
The Defense Ministry released the military operations log for Operation Entebbe on Thursday, which marked 39 years since the daring mission to rescue Israeli hostages being held in Uganda.
The IDF Archives also released the handwritten notes passed between then-defense minister Shimon Peres and thenprime minister Yitzhak Rabin in which Peres’s apprehension over the fate of the mission was evident. In one such note Peres wrote to Rabin: “How does the operation start? – They say it is impossible, the timing isn’t right and the government won’t approve it – the only question I’ve seen, and continue to see, is how will it end?” Another note has Peres suggesting changes to Rabin’s plan for the raid at Entebbe Airport.
“The last improvement in the plan, instead of an airport vehicle, a big Mercedes will enter with flags. [Ugandan president] Idi Amin is returning home from Mauritius. I don’t know if it will be possible, but it’s interesting.”
Rabin replied to Peres’s suggestion by asking him, “When is Idi Amin returning from Mauritius? What is the Mercedes for?” The archives also released the video of the Israeli hostages being welcomed back home after the rescue. In the video, Peres and the defense leadership are seen waiting on the runway at Ben-Gurion Airport for the Israel Air Force Boeing 707 with the rescued passengers on board.
Operation Entebbe had the military codename Operation Thunderball, and was later called Operation Yonatan, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brother Lt.-Col.
Yonatan Netanyahu, the only IDF soldier killed during the mission that he led, sought to save 84 Jewish passengers and 12 French crew members who had been aboard an Air France flight that terrorists hijacked while en route from Tel Aviv to Paris.

PA really worried that Hamas will secede Gaza

A new rumor has erupted, that Hamas will declare Gaza to be independent if the new PA government does not include Hamas representation.

According to an unnamed source, if the PA unilaterally declares a new government, "Hamas will not recognize it and will be obliged to take firm and decisive action to ensure the stability of the Gaza Strip administratively and politically," meaning it will cut all ties to the PA and seek independence.

This is highly unlikely. Hamas would have no support or legitimacy, unlike a few years ago when Iran, Egypt and Turkey were wholeheartedly behind the group and supported it financially.

But it does show how paranoid Fatah is about Hamas and how little influence it has in Gaza.

UNHRC condemns Israel based on a report that was careful NOT to condemn Israel

From Haaretz:
The United Nations Human Rights Council decided on Friday to adopt a resolution condemning Israel over the UN report into the Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

41 countries vote in favor of the resolution, while one country – the U.S. – voted against.

India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Paraguay and Macedonia abstained.

The fact that India abstained reflects a significant policy change by Delhi; traditionally, India voted in favor of all anti-Israel resolutions in UN institutions. Friday's abstention is another sign of warming ties between India and Israel since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.

The resolution welcomes the UN Human Rights Council report, which found evidence of alleged war crimes committed by both Israel and Hamas during the Gaza conflict in 2014. The resolution calls for the implementation of the report and its recommendations. It also calls for an end to the impunity of Israeli officials responsible for alleged war crimes.

The resolution, which was drafted by the Palestinians and Arab states, condemns Israel's targeting of innocent civilians and completely ignores the rockets launched by Hamas; it also ignores the inquiry's criticism of the Palestinian side.
Here's the funny thing.

The UNHRC Davis report mentions about 23 cases of acts (from both Israel and terrorist groups)  that they say "may" or "could" amount to war crimes if they are confirmed, if intent is proven, or other caveats.

In only one single case did the report say, flatly, that an act was a war crime - and that was against Palestinians referring to the public executions of "collaborators":
Because of their link to the armed conflict, the extrajudicial executions constitute a violation of article 3 common to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which, in relation to “persons taking no active part in the hostilities […] and those placed “hors de combat” by […] detention, prohibits (a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture […]; (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples” and amount to a war crime. Whoever is responsible for the killings, whether the Al Qassam Brigades, other Palestinian armed groups, or the local authorities, must be brought to justice.
The UNHRC condemned Israel based on a report that didn't condemn Israel.

Which is par for the course.


07/03 Links Pt1: Rocket hits southern Israel; UNRWA, Hamas are two sides of the same coin

From Ian:

Rocket explodes in southern Israel
A rocket exploded in Israeli territory near the Gaza Strip Friday afternoon, and security officials were checking whether the launch had come from the Palestinian territory or the Sinai peninsula.
There were no reports of casualties or damage in the attack.
The launch set off “Color Red” warning sirens in the Eshkol Regional Council, which borders the southern Gaza Strip as well as the Egyptian peninsula. Security teams were scouring the area for the impact site.
Palestinian media also reported explosions in northern Gaza, according to Walla News.
There has recently been in increase in sporadic attacks by terror elements in the Strip. Recent weeks have seen several rocket launches from Gaza, the first significant attacks since the conclusion of the war between Israel and armed groups in the coastal territory last summer.
'UNRWA, Hamas are two sides of the same coin'
Little is known about the second U.N. report on Operation Protective Edge, waged in the Gaza Strip last summer. While the U.N. Human Rights Council's fact-finding mission, headed by American jurist Mary McGowan Davis, looked into alleged war crimes committed during the fighting, the second, 207-page report, penned by retired Dutch Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert, focused solely on the damaged sustained by U.N. Relief and Works Agency facilities during the 50-day military campaign.
Cammaert's report is classified, and only a fraction of it, some 27 pages, has been made public, garnering little attention. The findings concluded that 44 Palestinians were killed and 227 others were injured while taking shelter in U.N. facilities in Gaza. An addendum to the report said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon was "shocked that militant groups had endangered U.N. schools by using them as weapons caches."
One can understand why the Cammaert report was downplayed. Terrorist groups' continuous use of UNRWA facilities across the coastal enclave is a source of much embarrassment to the U.N. The "shock," however, should be taken with a grain of salt, as Israel has been warning for years about the interaction between Hamas and other terrorist groups and UNRWA. These ties have been recorded in dozens of files, and two new reports published in recent days, one by the Institute for Zionist Strategies and one by the Center for Near East Policy Research, indicate that the symbiosis between Hamas and UNRWA in Gaza is only growing stronger.
UNRWA itself recorded the terrorists' use of its facilities in the Strip, and the findings were corroborated in the Cammaert report, detailing dozens of cases when weapons, munitions, and missiles were hidden in schools, and how school buildings were used as cover for rocket launching sites.
JPost Editorial: Horror in Sinai
On Wednesday, cowardly terrorists killed more than 100 Egyptian police and civilians. As terrorism hit the Sinai Peninsula, Egyptian security forces swept in and killed nine armed men in Cairo just days after the top state prosecutor was assassinated.
Egypt is experiencing tumultuous times. It is a reminder that Egypt and Israel, as well as the region as a whole, confront similar enemies; extremism and terrorism.
In each country there are those elements that seek to spread murderous ideologies and harm civilian life.
The rise of Islamic State in Sinai is the latest culmination of years of turmoil in the peninsula. Under Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, the extremists were encouraged to strike down roots. According to interviews Egyptian security officials gave to foreign media, the harm done to civilians and security in Sinai was at the heart of then-Gen. Adbel Fattah al-Sisi’s outrage at the mismanagement of Egypt under Morsi.
Morsi ordered the army to give free rein to extremists, who often victimized Egyptians in the area.
Northern Sinai has long been home to localized Islamist groups, such as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis. These groups have bombed Beduin shrines and sought to impose their strict version of Islamist ideology on the inhabitants.

White House hasn't called out Iran's cheating for nearly two years - instead, it acts like Iran's lawyer

Omri Ceren at The Israel Project continues to document how the White House is backtracking on agreements in order to accommodate Iranian cheating. (These are all via email.)

On July 1:
Remember how at the beginning of June the State Department melted down on David Sanger, after he and William Broad published an article about Iran's failure to turn its enriched uranium gas (UF6) into oxide? Turns out, Sanger and Broad were right and the State Department was wrong.

Iran is obligated by the interim JPOA to do two things by the end of every 6 months: (1) get rid of any UF6 it has enriched above a total stockpile is 7,650kg (this is the "hexafluoride cap") (2) get rid of that excess UF6 in a very specific way: by turning it into uranium dioxide powder (this is the "oxidation requirement"). The oxidation requirement was written into the JPOA because other methods of getting rid of enriched gas aren't as proliferation resistant. When the JPOA was extended last summer, this was how Kerry described it: "Iran has committed to take further nuclear-related steps in the next four months... [t]hese include a continued cap on the amount of 5 percent enriched uranium hexafluoride and a commitment to convert any material over that amount into oxide." [a]
Sanger and Broad reported at the beginning of June that Iran had enriched too much gas to hit their targets by June 30 [b]. That triggered a full week of administration pushback, but State spokespeople never quite got the argument: they thought it was about the hexafluoride cap not the oxidation requirement. The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) tried during the week to explain the difference but to no avail [c]. On day 4 of press briefings on the subject Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications Marie Harf was still asserting that the Iranians would be in compliance with the JPOA because they'd decrease their hexafluoride [d]. When reporters clarified they wanted answers about the Iranians refusing to oxidize she said - falsely - "I don't think we've seen any evidence that they are converting it more slowly." When reporters subsequently informed her that - in fact - the Iranians had stopped oxidizing in November 2014, she promised to look into it.
Today the IAEA published a report confirming the Iranians have met the hexafluoride cap but didn't meet the oxidation requirement. That would put them in violation of the JPOA, except the administration has declared that it's not a violation because the Iranians did something that wasn't what they were supposed to do, but was OK anyway. The full story is pasted below, but here's the key part:
However, the report indicated that only several hundred pounds of the oxide that is the end product had been made. A U.S. official told The Associated Press the rest of the enriched uranium in the pipeline has been transformed into another form of the oxide that would be even more difficult to reconvert into enriched uranium. The official said that technical problems by Iran had slowed the process but the United States was satisfied that Iran had met its commitments to reduce the amount of enriched uranium it has stored.

A few reasons this is a huge deal:
-- The Obama administration is already playing Tehran's lawyer and explaining away Iranian cheating - They're letting the Iranians pick and choose which parts of the agreement they want to comply with. Then they're working to justify it. As another part of the AP article notes: "Violations by Iran would complicate the Obama administration's battle to persuade congressional opponents and other skeptics." So they have to either ignore or spin.
-- Even worse, the administration appears to be politicizing the reporting process so as to better spin away the cheating away - It's not just that the administration is saying that the Iranians cheated but it doesn't count. They're also fiating that Iran complied with the JPOA as a legal matter, even though Iran didn't.
-- The Iranians flat out cheated; again - It's not the first time they cheated (they've busted through the JPOA's oil export caps every month and they injected gas into an advanced centrifuge). It's not even the first time that the administration tried to sandbag the press corps on the cheating by saying "wait and see; this is just a normal fluctuation; they'll hit their target" (that was the State Department's argument about oil export caps for months). But nonetheless the administration keeps telling lawmakers that the Iranians can be trusted to meet their final deal obligations, because they met their interim deal obligations. No they didn't.
-- The esoteric technical fixes that were built into the interim JPOA - and which are being built into the final JCPOA - failed - The oxidation condition was always a too-cute-by-half mechanism to let the Iranians keep enriching (their red line) while ostensibly keeping their program frozen (the administration talking point). But the final JCPOA is built on similar esoteric technical fixes, which were similarly designed to placate the Iranians. When administration officials go to the Hill to brag about the "science" behind the 1 year breakout timeline - which they insist they can achieve despite giving into Iran's demand to spin thousands of centrifuges - that's what they're talking about. The evidence now suggests that the Iranians can't or won't implement such fixes.
And today:
Day 3 of this, and still nothing on the record from the Obama administration about why it's OK to let the Iranians be in violation of the interim JPOA's requirement that they convert their excess enriched uranium (UF6) into uranium dioxide powder (UO2). The main argument appears to be that the Iranians got close enough: a "US official" told the Associated Press the US was "satisfied" with Iran transforming the uranium gas into something that's not dioxide, and yesterday Scott Kemp - a former science advisor for the State Department on Iran's nuclear program - tweeted that the distinction was about "minor chemical variants not meaningful in the slightest."

No it's not. The issue isn't about chemical variants of uranium oxide as mandated by the interim JPOA deal. It's about the credibility of the final JCPOA deal that Congress will have to evaluate. For the interim agreement, the administration invented an unproven technological quick-fix so that it could cave to an Iranian demand - the demand to keep enriching - while still telling lawmakers that Tehran's program was "frozen." When that technological quick-fix failed the White House went into “Iran’s lawyer” mode: first they declared that skeptics were wrong and that the Iranians would stay in compliance - because White House scientists said so (!) - and when that became indefensible they weakened the deal's criteria so they could claim the Iranians weren't cheating.
His last paragraph is devastating, and should make even the most enthusiastic Obama supporter think twice:

If lawmakers were evaluating the agreement based on whether the Obama administration will even enforce it, 100% of the evidence cuts the other way. In the last 20 months, the administration has never called out Iranian cheating, and has instead played Iran's lawyer on half a dozen different JPOA and UN sanctions violations.

Why Hamas' beating of protesters is a big story

This story encapsulates how much the media ignores stories from the territories that don't involve Israel.

Last night, many members of the Eshtewi family held a protest outside the home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza. One of their sons, Mahmoud (in some reports Abul Magd) has been in Hamas prisons for months without charge. The family demanded that Haniyeh come out to talk to them, and they chanted slogans and held up banners.

Hamas police came and started beating them, injuring a number of family members including a female journalist Buthaina Eshtewi, and two brothers were arrested and taken away to an unknown destination.

In one story we have:

  • Detention without charge
  • Peaceful protesters being beaten
  • Peaceful protesters being arrested
In the grand scheme of things, this is not that big a deal. But the complete absence of any western media ever reporting stories like this while eagerly reporting on similar stories that can be blamed on Israel reveals a much bigger issue here. 

Even if the media does not consider this newsworthy, "pro-Palestinian" NGOs would be expected to be compiling statistics of these sorts of events, and issuing annual reports counting the number of arrests, beatings, imprisonment without trial, cases of torture, people killed by police - all the statistics that are being zealously kept and often inflated by these same NGOs against Israel, even though they often claim that they are non-partisan.

Journalists, NGOs and diplomats have an unwritten agreement to ignore these sorts of stories to ensure that the news that filters out to the world is one-sided against Israel. The tiniest anti-Israel stories in the Hebrew press get translated and quoted prominently while Arabic stories like these get ignored. The decision as to which stories get coverage is not newsworthiness or the level of human rights being violated. No, the major decision-making is based on a single factor: whether the Jewish state can be properly blamed. 

This ensures that generations of young people are brought up on biased, one-sided news stories based on simplistic memes of Jewish oppression and Arab victimhood.. It takes real effort to find out the truth and practically no one will spend the time, since there is an assumption that the news media will do their jobs. And the very people who should investigate this bias are the people who practice it. 

This particular case is not a big story. But the situation that causes stories like this to be ignored day in and day out is indeed a very big deal. 

How the IDF decides on a target (and why @HRW and @UN_HRC and @Amnesty are clueless)

Haaretz has a an accidentally excellent article with a terrible headline and perspective that describes the checks and balances that go into the IDF's  decision to bomb a house.

The headline is "After UN report on summer Gaza war, Israel Air Force still believes it acted properly" - as if the IDF is closing its eyes to the stories told in the UNHRC Davis report.

HRW and Amnesty, and to a lesser extent the Davis report, believe that the IDF acts like an irrational person who gets his kicks out of randomly bombing Arabs.

Last November, Amnesty released a statement:
“Israeli forces have brazenly flouted the laws of war by carrying out a series of attacks on civilian homes, displaying callous indifference to the carnage caused,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

“The report exposes a pattern of attacks on civilian homes by Israeli forces which have shown a shocking disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians, who were given no warning and had no chance to flee.”
Here's the truth:

The army is not turning its back on the results of the war, but even today it is convinced that all the targets went through what they call “the oiled machine.” This air force-speak means that they were researched by intelligence people and approved to the effect that bombing them did not violate international law. Then, they went through a planning process to decide how and from where the target would be bombed. Only at the end of that process were they sent as coordinates to the aircraft.

The “target page” that explains what is to be bombed includes an aerial photograph of the target and its surroundings, and indicates whether there is likely to be weaponry nearby. It also shows what kind of aircraft will attack – combat plane or helicopter – and with what armament. In addition, it notes what warning needs to be given to the inhabitants of the house. In most cases, this was the “roof knock” procedure in which the plane first fires a relatively light bomb at the corner of the target in order to warn the inhabitants of the impending strike.

“Let’s say there’s a target located in some building and it’s a kind of war room, and in order to destroy the building we need to use bomb X,” an officer with the rank of colonel who was involved in these planning stages explained to Haaretz. “Because of the population density of the neighborhood, it’s clear that the bomb will damage adjacent buildings, which could endanger their inhabitants. In a case like that they’d choose a smaller bomb, at the expense of damage to the war room. We wouldn’t necessarily demolish it but we’d have a consultation in order to make sure we achieve an operational effect while it also looks like we aren’t attacking disproportionately.”

Proportionality was one of the key topics in the UN report, which also questioned why Israel did not moderate its aggressive aerial line during the fighting. “The apparent lack of steps to re-examine these measures in the light of the mounting civilian toll,” states the report, “suggests that Israel did not comply with its obligation to take all feasible precautions before the attacks. Furthermore, the large number of targeted attacks against residential buildings and the fact that such attacks continued throughout the operation, even after the dire impact of these attacks on civilians and civilian objects became apparent, raise concern that the strikes may have constituted military tactics reflective of a broader policy, approved at least tacitly by decision-makers at the highest levels of the Government of Israel.”

In the army they are claiming that Hamas exploited the private residences of military arm commanders for terror actions: In some of them weapons were hidden, in others war rooms were located. The prevailing explanation is that the military use of a residential building transforms it into a legitimate military target.

“If it was clear that this commander was directing terrorist activities from his residence, then we don’t give him any immunity in his home,” says Major-General (res.) Amos Yadlin, a combat pilot in his military training, formerly head of Military Intelligence and currently head of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. “Of course it is necessary to check the collateral damage (military-speak for harm to civilians who are not involved in the fighting) from the attack, vis-à-vis the military advantage that will be obtained. If there is a military advantage here that can be proved, then it is definitely a legitimate target.” However, says Yadlin, if a bomb hits a minor militant and many uninvolved civilians around him are killed – that is “a grave mishap.”

At the same time, Yadlin emphasizes it was Hamas that chose to absorb itself into a civilian environment, using it as a human shield. “It is our fundamental moral obligation to defend the State of Israel by hitting those people and not giving them any immunity – not in homes and not in any civilian environment from which they operate against us,” he says.

One such case is the attack on the Abu Ghanem family in Khan Yunis. According to reports in the Palestinian media, 10 people were killed in the bombardment, two of them Islamic Jihad militants. The military inquiry found that the target of the attack was Danian Mansour – a commander in the organization with a rank parallel to brigade commander. He was responsible for the group’s activity in northern Gaza. In the army they assessed that there were civilians in the building in which Mansour was located but believed that there was only one residential apartment at the site.

During the preparations for the attack, the military took into account the expected damage to adjacent buildings. Ultimately in the IDF they decided the attack was legal, as “the extent of the strike on them would not be excessive relative to the military advantage” that would be achieved. That is, the attack would be proportionate under the principles of international law. In fact, despite the specific warning given to those who were inside the building, five civilians were killed in the Abu Ghanem house and three more in an adjacent house. In addition to Mansour, another Jihad member was also killed.

In another incident, in which the Al Najjar family home in Khan Yunis was bombed, eight people were killed, two of them Hamas members. The target of the attack, according to the army, were Hamas militants who were manning a war room that had been set up in the family home. Here too, in the army they thought there would be civilians there but it was decided to attack nevertheless, using precision weaponry in order to avoid hitting adjacent buildings. In this case, the air force decided not to warn the residents of the building “so as not to thwart the aim of the attack.”

In conversation with members of air force personnel on active service, in the reserves and after their service, it is evident that they believe these cases do not reflect the majority of the air force’s activity in what is a densely populated and complex area. “It could be that we don’t see people in the building, or intelligence says there aren’t any people – and in the end there are,” one of them explained.

In the army they explain that when an attack is planned there are a number of people – reservists, air crews, intelligence officers and people in operations research – who are shown nearly all the information the defense establishment can provide. This includes how the building is constructed and out of what materials, how many people live in it according to the population registry, and what intelligence has been gathered about the place that transforms it from just another house on a street into a military target. After that, each target is sent for approval by a small group of officers, a number of standing army officers with the rank of brigadier general and colonel in the air force.

“We do not look at it with the eyes of ‘this is the target, we don’t ask questions.’ We see ourselves, in the very fact of our existence – as people who push the buttons and fly the planes – as responsible for the attack. We will not act as though we are blind when we receive an order,” explains the brigadier general. “And still, it’s not a rosy world. In the end, when you
attack with a fighter plane, in an urban area, you inevitably take a risk. It’s clear that it this is what you are doing, with a fighter plane, and you aren’t going to complete it without hitting anyone. That is not reasonable. And I think that this is clear to everyone.”

Lt. Col. Yoav, commander of Squadron 100 – the air force intelligence squadron – says that his people are required to report whether after the “roof knock” procedure people left the building or whether there were people in the area of the attack and after the bombardment – and whether the target was bombed as required. “There is always the potential that there will be people – and in many cases the crew identifies this, reports and stops the attack.” According to him, during the course of Protective Edge, the presence of civilians in the area of strikes engaged his people quite a lot.

“In the end people on the other side get killed, however you look at it. We see the collateral damage, and also the direct damage,” explains Yoav - who’s last name has not been released - and screens a video documenting an attack on an armed motorcyclist who fired on Israeli soldiers. “He was killed because I was good at my task,” he says. “It’s clear to me that I had to do it but it isn’t that I get up in the morning and lick my lips over this. This isn’t fun.”

An air force officer, a navigator by training, says: “You can make a mistake – and you’ll have to know how to go on fighting to live with that mistake. You have to absorb that blow, which is huge if it is personal, and keep going forward. You don’t have the luxury of saying that on the day you make a mistake – you’ll stop. The answer is that this is a complex situation. But that’s the work, and that’s the reality.”

Eshel, who spoke at a Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies conference, added, “We must minimize the extent of potential collateral damage because today, with the attack capability of thousands of targets a day, it could reach thousands of fatalities a day of people who are not involved. This is first of all bad morally, and I am saying this way before any external problem – of legitimacy and so on – and if we are not strict about this matter it will cause us to crumble from within.”
In short, every single target is vetted by may people of varying ranks with the information they have available at the time, and every bomb is accounted for to ensure that it was used properly. And mistakes are made.

Notice also that even though the left-wing Haaretz interviewed a number of people anonymously at all levels, not one of them had a "Breaking the Silence" experience of the Israeli air force just bombing people for kicks. Their accounts are consistent and also consistent with other reports over the years - reports that the NGOs studiously ignore because they write the verdict before they look for evidence.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Israel now more allied with Egypt than America is

From Times of Israel:
Israel has been giving the Egyptian military a free hand to operate in northern Sinai against local jihadist groups, voluntarily ignoring an annex to the 1979 Camp David Peace Accords banning the presence of significant Egyptian forces in the area, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel on Thursday.

According to the military annex of the Camp David accords, Egypt is allowed to maintain a civilian police force only in the eastern strip of the Sinai Peninsula, where the majority of local jihadists are currently located. Following Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the Egyptian army was allowed to deploy a border patrol battalion along the border with Gaza.

An official told The Times of Israel in 2014 that due to the challenges facing the Egyptian military in the northern Sinai, “In practice, the military annex is nonexistent.”

With fighting between the Egyptian army and jihadists pledging allegiance to the Islamic State intensified this week following a coordinated attack against army positions in northern Sinai Wednesday, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that Israel has maintained its policy of ignoring the peace treaty’s military annex for the benefit of Egypt’s war on terror.

Unlike the United States, which continues to place immense hurdles on the Egyptian army before authorizing the delivery of “a few crummy F-16s” — the official quoted his disgruntled Egyptian counterparts as saying — Israel has allowed the Egyptian army to do as it pleases in northern Sinai without hesitation, realizing the common interest in its fight on terror.

“It took one phone call from Cairo to Jerusalem to authorize whatever Egypt wants in Sinai, counter to the military annex,” he said.

“Israel understands the challenge facing Egypt. We face the same challenge,” he added. “We aren’t worried that Egypt may attack Israel, nor are they worried that Israel will attack them… it is clear to the [Egyptian] leadership that not only is Israel not an enemy, it’s an ally.”
The most populous Arab nation is now a de facto ally of the Jewish state.

This doesn't mean that there will ever be normalization between the two countries, but this is the best Israel can hope for with all its neighbors.

Haaretz goes further, but this report seems too far-fetched unless Egypt's army is really against the wall:
An Egyptian source familiar with Egypt’s decision-making process told Haaretz that if Islamic State comes near Gaza, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi may “invite” the Israel Defense Forces to act against it. This will not be seen as an Israeli breach of Egypt’s sovereignty, because Gaza falls under Israel’s responsibility.

“The two armies may already be coordinating in preparation for such a possibility,” the source said. “The Egyptian problem is that a military campaign inside Gaza could lead to breaking down the fences and a mass flight of civilians from Gaza to Sinai.”
(h/t Paul H)

07/02 Links Pt2: Haaretz Editor Urges Boycott of all of Israel; Flotilla 'aid' only two cardboard boxes

From Ian:

Haaretz Editor Urges Boycott, Collective Punishment of Israelis
Not satisfied with demanding that the world boycott goods from Judea and Samaria, Ha'aretz op-ed writer Roy Isacowitz is now asking the world to boycott Israeli goods – all of them – as well as companies that do business here.
In an op-ed piece titled “Target me with your boycott, please,” Isacowitz bemoans the fact that the “limited” boycott of goods for Judea and Samaria is not working. Instead, he writes, more aggressive action is needed – and that would include a boycott of all Israeli products.
“After almost 50 years of Israeli defiance and evasion, there is little prospect of diplomatic change. The prime goal of the boycott against Israel, therefore, is to persuade the bulk of Israelis that the occupation is not in their interests,” writes Isacowitz. “And the way to do that is by focusing their attention sharply on what those interests are and how much they have to lose.
“It follows that boycotting only the settlements and their commerce, as many on the Israeli left suggest, makes no sense. They are not ideologically inclined to force the government out of the occupied territories and their numbers are insufficient. It is precisely those of us who have – or perceive ourselves to have – little personal investment in the occupation who should be targeted. For the occupation to end, Israel’s self-indulgent, apathetic and blinkered middle class needs a profound wake-up call – courtesy of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement,” Isacowitz says.
This is not the first time that Ha'aretz writers have adopted the language and tactics of radical anti-Israel groups.
Hevron Jew's Showdown with Ultra-Leftist Activist Goes Viral
A video that has received more than 90,000 views since being uploaded to Facebook Tuesday shows the face of Israel's radical Left, in a way that is both entertaining and disturbing.
The video is a verbal showdown between Ofer Ohana, a Jewish resident of Hevron, and Leah Shakdiel, a member of the ultra-leftist women's group Machsom Watch (“machsom” means checkpoint in Hebrew), whose members routinely harass IDF soldiers at checkpoints in Judea and Samaria.
Most intriguingly, however, is the dynamic between Shakdiel and the local Arabs she is ostensibly there to help.
At one point she attempts to shame an Arab man who appears to be on good terms with Ohana.
Shakdiel's insistence that Ohana is “violent” whereas Hevron's Arabs are “peace seekers” is a high point of the video, but perhaps the most dramatic - and cringeworthy - point comes immediately after.
Once again displaying her surprising disrespect for the (mainly Muslim) Arab residents she claims to help, the supposedly liberal Shakdiel proceeds to openly drink water in front of them during Ramadan. When Ohana challenges her for doing so, several local Arabs take his side and rebuke Shakdiel for her insensitivity, provoking a groveling apology. (h/t Jewess)


The ‘humanitarian aid’ aboard a recent flotilla to Gaza fit in two cardboard boxes
Members of the Gaza flotilla organization -- which sent four boats, three of which turned around before arriving in the vicinity of Israel -- have repeatedly said the vessel that was stopped, Marianne, was carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Asked to provide some evidence of the humanitarian aid, Ann Ighe, a member of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition sent this photograph:
The Gaza activitists said the larger cardboard box contains a solar panel, donated by a Swedish magazine, ETC, which also runs an “environmentally-friendly electricity company.” The panel was bound for Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.
Ighe said the Swedish Association of Midwives also donated a nebulizer, a machine used to inhale medicines, often used to calm asthma attacks. That is the small cardboard box.
“Last but not least,” Ighe said, “the boat is cargo in herself, bound to be donated to a fishermen’s organization in Gaza.”
“We bring means of production, not means of destruction,” she added. (h/t Yenta Press)
IsraellyCool: Mocking The Flotilla-holes: Herman Reksten


"Obesity has become prevalent in the Gaza Strip"

I missed this Al Monitor story from a few months ago:

Obesity has become prevalent in the Gaza Strip, as confirmed by the increasing demand on dietitians. Ata Qaisi, health care consultant and owner of Gaza City's Diet Center, said obesity can have negative repercussions on a person's life, making him or her more vulnerable to hypertension, diabetes and joint pain. Obese women are also more susceptible to pregnancy complications and miscarriages, according to Qaisi.

Qaisi told Al-Monitor that there is a large demand in Gaza for weight-loss programs. “The comfort is in the improvement of the figure and this is what we seek through our programs, which are supposed to be followed through diets and not only by relying on weight loss. When the person finds that the weight has been reduced and the shape has been improved, his or her entire life completely changes. This is how people find comfort in their hearts and minds,” he said.

In the Gaza Strip, a high proportion of people suffer from obesity. “Only 18% to 25% of the Strip’s residents have a normal weight," he said. "The rest are suffering from obesity because of the nature of our life pattern, in addition to the unbalanced social lifestyle, bad eating habits, food traditions and dessert consumption.”

He added, “Such a large proportion is the result of common diseases such as diabetes, stress, cancer and rheumatism. If, for example, the proportion of patients with high blood pressure is 30% of the population, know that 97% of them are due to obesity and the rest are due to accidental causes.”

Just like concentration camps!

(h/t OBoZ)

Michael Oren is tired of American Jews, and so am I (Vic Rosenthal)


Vic Rosenthal's weekly column:


Rabbi Eric Yoffie is offended by Michael Oren, on behalf of (non-Orthodox) American Jews. These Jews, like America’s “first Jewish president,” turn out to be very easy to offend, if you think Israelis are best qualified to run the country they live in.

Oren’s new book has offended both Yoffie and the Obama Administration, which has launched an all-out media blitz against him (as far as I know, Obama spokespeople haven’t called him a ‘chickenshit’ yet, but give them time).

Obama is angry because Oren has exposed the fact (which Obama believes he had managed to hide) that despite his words to the contrary, he could not care less about Israel’s security; the empowerment of Iran and the partition of Israel to create a ‘Palestinian’ state take priority over our survival. And I might add that it doesn’t help Obama’s case when Oren describes the way he and his surrogates have treated our country and our Prime Minister with contempt since day one back in 2009.

But what about the liberal Jews that Yoffie represents? He explains:
What actually happened, according to the book, is that Michael Oren came to see American Jews as unreliable in their support of Israel, quick to criticize the Jewish state, and unable to appreciate Israel’s vulnerabilities. In his eyes, they were unsure of their own position in America. This made them incurable do-gooders, forever babbling about Tikkun Olam, and more inclined to help others than their own. To Oren’s dismay, the harder he worked, the more critical of Israel the community became. …

“I could not help questioning whether American Jews really felt as secure as they claimed [Oren writes]. Perhaps persistent fears of anti-Semitism impelled them to distance themselves from Israel and its often controversial policies. Maybe that was why so many of them supported Obama, with his preference for soft power, his universalist White House seders, and aversion to tribes.”

This, then, is Michael Oren’s message: American Jews flee from commitment to Israel and the controversies that Israel provokes. They prefer weakness to strength, the universal to the particular, and the weak-willed Democrats to the stand-tall Republicans. And the reason for all of this is not conviction but fear — fear for their well-being in America and fear of the anti-Semitism that lurks beneath the surface.
He continues,
Oren’s words here say nothing about the pride, power, and toughness of the American Jewish community. They say nothing about how indispensable American Jews remain to Israel’s standing in America. They say nothing about the relative cohesion of American Jews at times of war and crisis in Israel. And they say nothing about the obvious fact that disagreements between American Jews and Israel are natural and flow mostly from the same questions of politics and values that divide Israelis from one another. … [H]e gave us a book dripping with contempt.
I must say that I can feel for Michael Oren, because I was in almost the same position in my last few years in the US. No, I wasn’t the ambassador, but I was deeply involved in pro-Israel activism and the Jewish community. I was the treasurer of our local Jewish Federation, and my wife was the president of the Hadassah chapter (more than once). We stood on street corners in small groups facing huge anti-Israel demonstrations every time Israel was forced to defend herself. We went to meetings, lectures and films put on by the well-organized anti-Israel groups and distributed our material. We obtained speakers, showed films, and held panel discussions. We thought it was important for American Jews to support Israel, because if we didn’t, who would?

We tried to bring the local Jewish community – the organizations, the synagogues and individual Jews – along with us. With a few exceptions, mostly people like us who had lived in Israel or had relatives there, we had to drag them kicking and screaming. Most of our pro-Israel events drew the same few supporters.

The local Reform temple was probably the most frustrating. A film critical of J Street, followed by a discussion? Absolutely not, it would be ‘divisive’! The Jewish Federation and Hadassah were better, but it was always easier to organize an event about Jewish culture than Israel.

Is Oren right that American Jews are more interested in helping others than their own? Certainly they were far more upset about terrorism in Charleston than Jerusalem, and far more ready to criticize our Prime Minister than their own administration. The Reform rabbi threw himself into activities to help the poor and homeless. He is seen on TV on panels with the Imam of the Islamic Cultural Center. He is an outspoken advocate of liberal causes, but he did not give a sermon in favor of PM Netanyahu’s speech about Iran before the Congress.

Is it because of fear of anti-Semitism? I can’t say, and Oren exposes himself to quibbles when he speculates about motives. But the sheer obtuseness of Jews who insist on calling for an utterly impossible “two-state solution” despite the other side’s willingness to kill and die to prevent our keeping a state within any borders, and the ones that supported and still continue to support the administration’s Iran policy (which even Yoffie calls “profoundly mistaken and dangerous”) despite overwhelming evidence against it make me wonder. What drives their irrational attitudes?

Why was it that even after we showed them that J Street was funded by the anti-Zionist George Soros and received contributions from people associated with Saudi Arabia and Iran, they continued to support J Street? Why was it that they continued to contribute to the New Israel Fund after we showed them that some of its grantees advocated BDS and some called for the “de-Zionisation” of Israel?

Oren admits that he despaired of trying to win over US Jews. Just this week I heard a veteran American pro-Israel activist say that she was going to concentrate on building non-Jewish support, because working with people who can’t be persuaded by facts is a waste of time.

Yoffie is wrong about the “cohesion of American Jews at times of war and crisis in Israel.” They didn’t cohere when we needed them for counter-demonstrations during Cast Lead, and they haven’t cohered against Obama’s plan to empower Iran with nuclear weapons. If not now, when?

And he is wrong when he says that the disagreements about Israel in the US are similar to those among Israelis: in Israel, the great majority of Israelis agree that negotiations with the PLO are fruitless, that Gaza must continue to be blockaded, and that the US-Iran deal is a disaster. Yes, there are sharp political disagreements, but except for the extremists (the small academic/media/artistic Left) the disagreements are about personalities, style and domestic economic issues.

In a recent interview, Oren repeated the joke about two Jews who are about to be murdered by the SS. When one of them refuses to be blindfolded, the other tells him “don’t make trouble.”

American Jews don’t want to make trouble. They want to be like their non-Jewish liberal friends, with whom they complain about those troublesome settlements and that stubborn, ungrateful Netanyahu. They get a warm feeling from saying that they support “their” president. It makes them feel good about themselves to say that “Palestinians have rights, too.”

And if the war that results from Obama's destabilizing policy ends up killing a lot of us, they will be sorry it happened, but they will read with approval in the NY Times that it was our fault for not “making peace” when we had the chance.

07/02 Links Pt1: Nicholas Winton, savior of Jewish children, dies at 106; Ramadan Terror

From Ian:

Nicholas Winton, savior of Jewish children, dies at 106
Dubbed "Britain's Schindler," Winton almost single-handedly saved more than 650 Jewish children from the Holocaust, and kept quiet about his role • "The world lost a great man," says British PM • "He valued human life above all," says Israeli president.
He was just a 29-year-old clerk at the London Stock Exchange when he faced the challenge of a lifetime. Traveling with a friend to Czechoslovakia in 1938, as the drums of impending war echoed around Europe, Nicholas Winton was hit by a key realization: The country was in danger and no one was saving its Jewish children.
Winton would almost single-handedly save more than 650 Jewish children from the Holocaust, earning himself the label "Britain's Schindler." He died Wednesday at age 106 in a hospital near Maidenhead, his hometown west of London, his family said.
Winton arranged trains to carry children from Nazi-occupied Prague to Britain, battling bureaucracy at both ends and saving them from almost certain death. He then kept quiet about his exploits for a half-century.
His daughter, Barbara, said she hoped her father would be remembered for his wicked sense of humor and charity work as well as his wartime heroism. And she hoped his legacy would be inspiring people to believe that even difficult things were possible.
"He believed that if there was something that needed to be done you should do it," she said. "Let's not spend too long agonizing about stuff. Let's get it done."
Netanyahu: The Jews owe an eternal debt of gratitude to the 'British Schindler'
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday mourned the loss of Nicholas Winton, the man who became known as the "British Schindler" for saving hundreds of Czech children from Nazi persecution in the run-up to World War Two. Winton died at the age of 106 on Wednesday.
"The Jewish people and the State of Israel owe an eternal debt of gratitude to Nicholas Winton, who saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Nazis," Netanyahu stated.
"In a world plagued by evil and indifference, Winton dedicated himself to saving the innocent and the helpless," the prime minister added. "His extraordinary moral leadership serves as an example to all of humanity."
Netanyahu sent his condolences to Winton's surviving family.
Phyllis Chesler: Sir Nicholas Winton: One Daring Act of Kindness Can Change the World
A great soul has just gone on to his Creator: Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 mainly Jewish children from Prague in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, died today. He was 106 years old.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: "The world has lost a great man. We must never forget Sir Nicholas Winton's humanity in saving so many children from the Holocaust." Home Secretary Theresa May, called Sir Nicholas "a hero of the 20th century." He set an "enduring example of the difference that good people can make even in the darkest of times."
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, described him as "one of the greatest people I have ever met."
Sir Nicholas was a British-Jewish stockbroker. He gave up a 1938 skiing holiday to help Jewish refugees in flight. He organized foster families for these Jewish children in Britain by placing ads in the newspaper. He persuaded a reluctant bureaucracy "to allow all the children in despite incomplete documentation."
Menemsha Films, an extraordinary distribution company which is devoted to high quality, Jewish-themed films, has an enthralling documentary about him: Nicky's Family—narrated by the Canadian journalist, Joe Schlesinger, who was one of the 669.
In 1988, on a BBC talk show, "That's Life," the host invited Sir Winton to sit in the front row of the studio audience. He discovers, teary-eyed, that everyone in that audience—all the adults—had been saved by him.
Sir Nicholas Winton - BBC Programme "That's Life" aired in 1988
Sir Nicholas Winton who organised the rescue and passage to Britain of about 669 mostly Jewish Czechoslovakian children destined for the Nazi death camps before World War II in an operation known as the Czech Kindertransport. This video is the BBC Programme "That's Life" aired in 1988. The most touching video ever.