Abbas/Abu Mazen is flaming the fire of violence and getting away with it

It is so heartbreaking and disillusioning to hear American leaders attacking Israel’s Prime Minister on a personal level, and creating the illusion in the eyes of the American public and the world that Israel is the obstacle to peace.

Two weeks ago the leader of the Palestinian Authority, the so-called ‘moderate’ Abbas,

  • called Jews “herds of cattle” (http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/186265#.VFIYgIvF-x8)
  • falsely accused Jews choosing to pray on the Temple Mount (Judaism’s holiest site) of “aggression against the Al Aqsa Mosque”,
  • use the pejorative “settlers” to describe the Jews who pray at their holiest site even though they were from all over Israel (and yes, the word “settler” has become a pejorative in the media and public view as regards Israelis)
  • called the Jewish presence near Muslim places of worship “a desecration” – something he has never said about Christians
  • called on Palestinians to protect the Temple Mount “by all means” – inflaming greater violence (http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/186257#.VFIen4vF-x8)

Let’s take a look at the type of aggression and desecrating behavior of the Jews on the Temple Mount.  Rabbi Yehuda Glick is one of the foremost leaders of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, and lives in a settlement on the West Bank.  He is often branded by the Palestinians and foreign media as an extremist.

Here you can see him praying with Muslims (!) on the Temple Mount.  Note the anger and hatred: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152298332378717

And here you can hear him speak about his dark visions against the Al Aqsa Mosque: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152530483833717

It makes you want to cry.

Are the facts so hard to find?  Is there hatred here?  No, there is only love and dreams of peace and coexistence.

So what is Abbas talking about?  Why is he inciting violence and bigotry?

Last night Rabbi Glick was shot in the chest by a Palestinian from the West Bank as he exited from a conference in Jerusalem.  And Palestinians and Jerusalem shot off fireworks to celebrate this evil action.

But Netanyahu is the problem…

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/186802#.VFIFaIvF-x8

Did Bibi Capitulate? Did Israel lose? Or is the light of sunrise hurting your eyes?

Author’s Note:  In the interest of time, I am posting this entry without linked sources.  I am currently traveling and do not have time to link them all.  I will update this article with linked sources in the coming days.  Where sources are to be added, a “***” marking has been provided.


 A permanent and long-term ceasefire has been agreed to by all Palestinian factions. And Israel has agreed to it, too. 

All around Israel (and probably around the Jewish world), folks are lamenting “Bibi’s capitulation”. “Hamas is declaring victory”, they say. “Israel gave in and agreed to lift the blockade on Gaza”, they say.

The fact is that Hamas has been brought to its knees, but has been allowed to save face via the usual false-bravado bluster that has been typical of every Arab leadership in the Middle-East that has lost a war over the last 100 years. It is a well known fact of recent history that when Arab leaderships lead their people to a victory, they publicly celebrate a victory. And when Arab leaderships lead their people to a stunning defeat, they publicly celebrate a victory. Take a look at the aftermath of the 1948 and 1967 wars…

So let’s not get ourselves all worked up because Hamas is printing silly photoshop posters of Israelis holding white flags and surrendering to Hamas gunfighters, or because Hamas is giving out candies and holding parades in the few cities of Gaza that aren’t laying in utter ruin.

Let’s go back to the beginning:

  • Israel dismantled all of Hamas’ military and operational infrastructure in the West Bank in the aftermath of the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli children by Hamas operatives ***.
  • It has since been revealed publicly what I argued in this blog several weeks ago ***, that Hamas intended to take over the West Bank just as it had taken over Gaza, and that Israel’s dismantling of Hamas’ infrastructure in the West Bank was an end-game for Hamas’ aspirations of capturing Greater Israel – something they could only do with control of the West Bank (from Gaza they can cause pain, but will never be able to wage a war that can recapture Israel).
  • Israel was not looking for a war in Gaza right now. It was content to bank its massive strategic gain of a Hamas-castrated West Bank. Remember: Until Hamas opened up a front in Gaza after Israel took down its West Bank operations, the world was complaining that Israel over-reacted in the West Bank and had made “many unlawful arrests”.
  • Hamas, however, could not afford to lose its West Bank enterprise, and knew that the fastest way to free its operatives would be to capture an Israeli soldier. Solution: Open up a front in Gaza and draw Israeli soldiers inside where they can be ambushed and kidnapped. Who cares (according to Hamas thinking) how many innocent Palestinian’s have to die for Hamas to save its jihadist ambitions of capturing Greater Israel…
  • So when Hamas opened up a front from Gaza, Israel did not want to send in ground-troops, as Israel knew the stakes.
  • Egypt and the Palestinian Authority also understood the stakes very well, too***, and everyone preferred a West-Bank-castrated Hamas.
  • This is why Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority (along with the support of Saudia Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Baharain) gave Hamas a Set of Terms (translate: ‘Ultimatum’) in Egypt at the outset of Hamas’ firing of missiles into Israel: “You can go back to the 2012 offer and keep Gaza for now. Period. Your losses in the West Bank will not be restored. And you will gain nothing for yourselves in Gaza.”
  • Needless to say, Hamas didn’t like this.
  • Hamas continued to attack Israel, and opened up its “secret weapon” on Israel: The Terror Tunnels. These tunnels were being saved up for a super-terror attack on surrounding Israeli farming communities over the Rosh-Hashana holiday ***. But given Hamas’ need to kidnap a soldier, they played the Terror-Tunnel card early.
  • Hamas got what it wanted: Israel sent in ground troops, putting soldiers at incredibly high risk of getting kidnapped. Note: I have heard personal eyewitness accounts of soldiers who fought in Gaza, explaining that the ground-warfare they experienced was more difficult than anything ever known before. In the past, they explained, you moved forward, captured and secured an area, and then stood guard over your forward perimeter (since everything behind you was ‘cleared’). Now, due to the Terror Tunnel matrix that also had myriad entrances and exits all over Gaza (from under bushes in fields, to under bathtubs in houses), soldiers had to constantly guard for attack from any and all sides; an attack could come from literally anywhere. It was strategically complex for Israeli soldiers to stay safe, and emotionally exhausting.
  • Since the ground-offensive began, Hamas agreed to several cease-fires, and used each one as an opportunity to try to capture Israeli soldiers via a cease-fire-violation-ambush. Each attempt failed, although in one attempt Hamas did gain some Israeli soldier body-parts (yes, we are dealing with that gruesome an enemy).
  • All this time, Israel, Egypt, and the PA stuck to their guns: Same Set of Terms.
  • Sticking to this Set of Terms was incredibly complex: The United States with its unwanted and highly harmful and naïve interference in Qatar *** had to be put to bed, and this required an incredibly delicate dance that very-much pulled at the seams of Israel’s relationship with the Obama administration ***. And the Qatar leadership’s cynical manipulation of Hamas-head Khaled Mashal for Qatar’s own sought-after gains on the world stage also caused incredible difficulties. ***

 

Now let’s look where we are at Day 50 and a Long-Term Ceasefire:

  • The Hamas Infrastructure of the West Bank is still removed, but now the world no longer cares and is not complaining about it anymore
  • Israel has destroyed over 5,000 high-value military targets in Gaza, including hundreds of command-and-control centers, missile-manufacturing factories, drone-manufacturing factories (remember those!), military training facilities, weapons storehouses, and more. ***
  • Israel has eliminated 3-4 of the very top military leaders of Hamas ***
  • Israel has eliminated many of the top leaders of Islamic Jihad ***
  • Israel has destroyed a major arms cache that was waiting for Hamas in the Sudan (this one nearly slid by in the news!) ***
  • The head of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) has been mysteriously killed in Lebanon ***
  • Only 10% of Hamas missiles remain. Less then 2% of those can reach beyond the Gaza periphery. *** Defacto, this means Hamas has been disarmed for all intensive purposes. (It is hardly worth sticking to “the demand to disarm Hamas” when Hamas has virtually nothing left to take away from them…)
  • All known Terror Tunnels leading into Israel have been destroyed
  • Egypt has destroyed (during this same war ***) any known remaining smuggling tunnels into Gaza
  • The world has agreed to only fund the rebuilding of Gaza if the funds are managed by the PA and not Hamas *** (i.e. No more dual-use supplies going to make new weapons or Terror Tunnels)
  • All border crossings into Gaza will be taken over by the PA (who has fantastic security cooperation with Israel – seriously).
  • Hamas has agreed to the same Set of Terms offered to it by Israel, Egypt, and the PA at the outset of this war.

 

Hamas’ Gains:

  • Israel will expand the fishing zone
  • Hamas captured the body-parts of two Israeli soldiers (which sadly, yes, will likely gain the freedom of at least some of those arrested in the West Bank – although not nearly then numbers that Hamas hoped for. And probably ‘deported’ to Gaza or elsewhere…)

 

So how is it that people are faulting Bibi, Yaalon, Gantz, and Livni, or calling this anything less than a stunning victory?

Oh, right. Because the press is also saying that Abbas (Abu Mazen) will now be demanding a Palestinian state based upon 1967 borders. And that Israel has agreed to ‘lift the siege on Gaza’.

So let’s clarify a few things. All this means is that the Mofaz Plan is going forward. Google it. Read about it. And then read the news again.

Creating an internationally monitored means of rebuilding Gaza, which Israel will also actively participate in, lead by the PA, while simultaneously finally closing a peace-agreement with the PA has been the Israeli long-term plan since the opening of Operation Protective Edge. As documented in my earlier blog-post, there has been a declared diplomatic strategy to this operation all along ***.

Yes, it is true: Israel would love to lift the siege on Gaza under the right conditions. And we are closer to those conditions than ever, thanks to having a now doubly-castrated Hamas (no longer in the West Bank, and having surrendered financial and border control in Gaza [with most of its weapons-of-war gone]). And thanks to a new and powerfully strategic relationship with Egypt ***. And thanks to the alignment of Interests with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Baharain. And thanks to the exposure on the world-stage of Hamas’ main funder, Qatar, as being part of the problem and not part of the solution ***.

And 1967 borders as a basis of discussions?

C’mon everyone. Remember the language of “agreed upon land swaps” that has been part of every peace-proposal since the time of Arafat. Discussions have always been based upon 1967 borders. Always.

So if Israel’s only concession to Abbas at this critical time of moving towards a new opportunity for regional stability is to say out loud what has always been the basis of negotiations, I think it is time for us to swallow that tiny, bitter pill.

 

The fact is, that HaShem (G-d) has led the Israeli government, our soldiers, and our nation through a minefield of complexity on both the military and diplomatic battlefields over the past 50 days (think “Sefirat HaOmer” or “Matan Torah” or “Yovel”).

And if people cannot see the wonder of the miraculous victory God has given us, and the gift it is to both Israel and the Palestinian people through this new horizon of hope, then it is only because the light of dawn is hurting their eyes and causing them to turn away from the sunrise.

Why Israel Has Pulled Back from Gaza

Kiryah Statement

There is a lot of speculation going on about Israel’s decision on Saturday night to unilaterally begin withdrawing from Gaza, followed by the current 72-hour ceasefire.  There are those analysts who suggest we have once again failed to “win the war”.  There are those who believe that Israel’s leadership has succumbed to international pressure.  There are those who suggest that Israel has lost its stomach for war.

But let’s recognize the key element here.  It is all speculation.  These are all people’s opinions.

Now let’s look at a few facts:

Fact #1: Operation Protective Edge Had Specifically Defined First-Stage Objectives

  1. As Defined by PM Netanyahu, the original goals of Operation Protective Edge were:  (http://www.pmo.gov.il/English/MediaCenter/Speeches/Pages/speechkirya200714.aspx)
    1. “To restore quiet and safety to Israelis for a long time to come”
    2. “Significantly harming the infrastructure of Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip” .
    3. The objective did notinclude toppling Hamas (although it could be expanded to include toppling Hamas if goal 1A could not be achieved through the limited military engagements or via diplomatic means).
  2. In his 7/28 address to the nation Netanyahu expanded the current operation to include:
    1. The discovered terror tunnels, and declared that Israel would “not complete the current operation without neutralizing the tunnels”.  (http://www.pmo.gov.il/English/MediaCenter/Events/Pages/eventkirya280714.aspx)

Goals 1B and 2A were met by the recent military operations.

Goal 1A is unclear at this time.  But this is because it ties in with the second side of Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s diplomatic operations.

 

Fact #2: Operation Protective Edge has been clearly defined to have both a Military and Diplomatic Component, and each is a Critical Part of the Israeli Leadership’s Strategy

  1. In his 7/20 address to the nation from Israel’s military headquarters, PM Netanyahu stated: “In the days before we commenced ground action, we were engaged in building the diplomatic and military infrastructure for it and we did this in several areas simultaneously… These measures, along with the personal talks we held with many world leaders, built the diplomatic infrastructure thanks to which we are currently receiving international credit for the operation. This can never be taken for granted; it must be invested in.”  (http://www.pmo.gov.il/English/MediaCenter/Speeches/Pages/speechkirya200714.aspx)
  2. At that same address, Defense Minister Yaalon have emphasized that the international diplomatic front is as important to this war as the military front. He stated: “We have three possible pathways in this operation against Hamas: Diplomatic; Military; or Military and Diplomatic.  Hamas, by rejecting the original Egyptian ceasefire approach, eliminated the possibility of a diplomatic solution at this time.  Now we are engaged militarily.  We will return to diplomacy at the right time.  And just like we have have military surprises for Hamas, we have diplomatic surprises for them, too.”   This early statement by Yaalon identifies a strategy from the outset to return to diplomacy after the military component of the operation was completed, and that there is a thoughtful strategy on the diplomatic front, too.  Yaalon has reiterated that we have a combined military/diplomatic strategy at nearly ever subsequent address to the nation since then. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elKSbwqtz_A&list=UU4XJnRPZjXhgvVMhXKNSJvQ – min 7:22-8:00)

 

Fact #3: The Second-Stage Goals of Operation Protective Edge, Which Israel Has Decided to First Seek to Achieve Diplomatically, Consists of Two Stated Components

  1. In their 7/28 address to the nation, Netanyahu and Yaalon began revealing the diplomatic ‘next stage’ of the operation.
  2. PM Netanyahu Stated: (http://www.pmo.gov.il/English/MediaCenter/Events/Pages/eventkirya280714.aspx)
    1. Goal 1: “The process of preventing the arming of the terrorist organization and demilitarizing the Gaza Strip must be part of any solution. The international community needs to demand this explicitly.”
    2. Goal 2: “Instead of the international community allowing funds to enter the Gaza Strip, via Hamas, for concrete and cement to serve in the unlimited construction of tunnels, there must be monitoring and supervision. In the past, when we raised these demands and these concerns of ours, we were not taken seriously. This has to change.”
  3. DM Yaalon stated: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elKSbwqtz_A&list=UU4XJnRPZjXhgvVMhXKNSJvQ   min: 7:50-8:00)
    1. That after the current phase of the operation “we will continue to demilitarize Hamas, either diplomatically, or militarily.
  4. These goals are the logical extension of goal 1A of the First Stage Objectives, “to restore quiet and safety to Israelis for a long time to come”.

 

Fact #4: Unilaterally Pulling Out of Gaza at This Time Was Militarily Helpful, Diplomatically Helpful, and Strategically Helpful

  1. Militarily, if Israel decided to topple Hamas, attacking from its positions held at the conclusion of destroying the tunnels would have been somewhere between disadvantageous and downright dangerous to Israeli soldiers.
    1. Israeli soldiers were dispersed over the entire length of the Gaza border
    2. They had been deployed for a very different type of mission, with armaments, staffing and positioning suited to that mission
    3. There were massive amounts of tools in the field (bulldozers, engineering machinery) related to the prior mission that would be in the way
    4. Hamas knew the precise locations of Israeli troops, and Hamas was already well-deployed to resist the advancing of IDF soldiers from those positions
    5. IDF troops were exhausted, many having been engage in high-risk/high-livefire circumstances for several weeks
    6. Pulling back temporarily allows:
      1. Soldiers to rest and have 24-hour furloughs with their family,
      2. Armor and troops to redeploy for a different kind of mission from different positions
      3. An element of surprise if Israel does choose to go after Hamas
      4. The clearing of unnecessary armor and materials from the field
      5. Sows uncertainty among the enemy
      6. Provides time for Hamas to come out of hiding, see the damage, and face the wrath of its people – a reality check that is sure to unsettle them (http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183741#.U-D6Po2wLlk)
    7. Diplomatically, the ability for world leaders of allied countries to continue providing cover for Israel to continue the operation was waning.  Domestic opposition among the citizens of many allies had reached a fever pitch.  By Israel unilaterally pulling out of Gaza (without even a promise of a ceasefire from Hamas), followed by Israel providing a 7-hour humanitarian ceasefire for Gaza (again, without Hamas, the UN, or the US even asking for it), Israel shifted the image of ‘agressor’ squarely back to Hamas
    8. Strategically, Israel’s leadership seized an absolutely brilliant moment to make this move, painting Hamas into an isolated corner at its weakest moment
      1. The Friday prior, the US and UN exerted fierce pressure on Israel to agree to a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire.
      2. Qatar, Hamas’ key financial sponsor and patron, had guaranteed both Obama and Ban Ki Moon that Hamas and all other Palestinian factions would honor the ceasefire.  They guaranteed it. This was key, as it proved another major point that Obama had been trying to make to Israel, namely:
        1. Israel (and Egypt and the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia and Baharain and the United Arab Emirates) objected to the inclusion of Qatar in matters here, since Qatar sponsors Hamas and even provided engineering support for their terror-tunnels.  The regional players told Obama he was too far away from the region to understand the mistake in involving Qatar. (http://www.cipmo.org/rassegna-internazionale/2014/07/pautority.html)
        2. Obama countered that the local players were ‘too close’ to the situation, and that the best way to get Qatar and Hamas to change their behavior was to include them in the process.
        3. Being the United States, Obama won the argument – thus Qatar was included and sought to prove its value (and Obama’s wisdom), by being able to produce a guarantee of halting fire from all Palestinian terror groups.
      3. When Hamas staged a combined ambush-suicide bombing-kidnapping all within 90 minutes after the ceasefire began, they humiliated all three patrons (Qatar, the US, and the UN) in front of the entire Middle-East region.  Through this action, Hamas isolated itself from its most sympathetic supporters.
      4. In light of Hamas’ attack and severe violation of the ceasefire, everyone expected Israel to escalate after that attack.  Israel’s move to instead unilaterally pull back from Gaza – without even a guarantee of an end to rocket-fire – left Hamas exposed as the belligerent, while simultaneously breaking the stereotyped image the press had been building of Israel as an insatiable war-monger
      5. Every rocket Hamas fired at Israel after she pulled back only made them look further belligerent and added to the embarrassment of those who supported them
      6. By doing a unilateral pullback, Israel also excused itself from participating the planned US/UN sponsored ceasefire talks.  This enabled Israel to sideline Qatar, who is now no longer central to the new (Aug 5) 72-hour ceasefire taking place in Egypt.  Again, Hamas’ public humiliation of Qatar increases (a BIG deal in the Arab world)

 

Fact #5: Israel Has a Real Chance to Topple Hamas Diplomatically

  1. The Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Baharain are all interested in seeing Gaza demilitarized and the military arm of Hamas retired.  (http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/20887)  (http://www.haaretz.com/mobile/.premium-1.608894?v=36A181AE97A30BC315053246B2E3C6CB)
  2. Egypt has destroyed nearly all (if not all) smuggling tunnels into Gaza, eliminating Hamas’ ability to quickly rebuild and save face with the Palestinians of Gaza
  3. With electricity, water, and housing crises now upon the Palestinian population, the heat Hamas faces as the local government to restore order is extraordinary; and Hamas inability to deliver may be fatal to them
  4. The ‘Mofaz Plan’ has been in motion since the first days of the war, and the USA, many European countries, Japan, and several Arab countries have already promised millions of dollars towards the plan, as has Israel itself (http://www.timesofisrael.com/the-mofaz-plan-for-demilitarizing-gaza/)
  5. Hamas only path to survival may be as a political group in Gaza, and even more that it hates Israel, Hamas loves itself (http://www.timesofisrael.com/truce-means-hamas-must-shift-from-terror-to-governing-official-says/)

 

Fact #6: Operation Protective Edge is not Over; it is Just in a Diplomatic Phase.  Israel is Prepared to Move in and Topple Hamas if Hamas does not Willingly Disarm

  1. The Southern Commander of the Israeli Army has said so (http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/IDF-prepared-to-continue-conflict-if-necessary-says-OC-Southern-Command-370142)
  2. The Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni, has said so (http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/183706#.U-EE2o2wLlk)
  3. PM Netanyahu has emphasized that the Operation is not over (http://www.pmo.gov.il/English/MediaCenter/Events/Pages/eventpikuddarom040814.aspx)

 

Fact #7: There Have Been No Recriminations or Statements Against One Another Among the 4 Israeli Leaders In-the-Know

  1. The Inner Cabinet of Operation Strategic Edge include Tzipi Livni (a dove), Bogie Yaalon (a warrior-politician), Benny Gantz (a warrior), and Netanyahu (a politician).  When things don’t go as planned, these personalities consistently come out publicly to defend themselves and expose each other’s mistakes (http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Before-meeting-Abbas-Livni-was-told-by-Netanyahu-You-dont-speak-for-Israeli-government-352553)
  2. To date, they continue to speak publicly in a unified, confident, serious, and optimistic tone.
  3. The only public figures doubting Israel’s current moves or position are those who are not in the know.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

My goal here has been to present the facts without opinion, so that readers can decide for themselves whether to be optimistic about the future.

I, for one, am very optimistic (albeit with a broken heart due to all the loss of life, trauma, and destruction).  There is a real vision and tangible opportunity here to move towards peace and a better future for the Palestinians and Israel.

May we see the blessings of peace in our days.

 

My Tears Flow

2014-08-01 10.55.57

In the supermarket today, as I bought some Challah-Bread, the traditional bread of the Sabbath meal, two reserve soldiers came up to the bakery counter to buy some ‘borekas’, a middle-eastern pastry snack.  They were sent to the supermarket by the army to buy a cart-full of provisions for their platoon.  But they came to the bakery counter because they wanted to surprise their brothers-in-arms with a treat for Shabbat.

“How much would 90 borekas be?” the soldier on the left asked the woman behind the counter.

“It goes by weight”, she said.

He looked uncertain.  He wasn’t carrying much of his own money with him.

“Brother,” I said, “Get anything you want!  It’s my treat.  Do you want to pick up some hotdogs or burgers, too?”

They were so happy to just buy the borekas for their friends.  They thanked me profusely.  They asked to take a picture together.  They thought I was the most amazing guy in the world!

Yeah, right.  Me.

What about them?!  Judging by the non-regulation length of their hair, I could guess they were reservists.  Most of these guys have young families at home.  They walk into the hell of Gaza, into a necessary war that is not of our choosing, knowing that they may never hold their children or kiss their wives again (God forbid).  And they do it with unflinching bravery and smiles.

And they treat me like I am the hero.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Last week a Kassam Missile fired by Hamas landed in an open property next to my home.

2014-07-22 17.43.15-12014-07-22 17.44.44-1

 

That’s my orange house in the background.

The concussion blew out my screens, split the center-wall of my house, and ripped a hole through my roof.  Those Kassam Missiles have a big payload, and an enormous shrapnel blast-radius.

The thing is, there are no army bases for miles and miles around here.  And half-a-dozen Kassam Missiles fall on our community every day.

And then there are the terror-tunnels.  The other day my wife and I left our home at 8am, our kids still asleep in their beds.  I was bringing her to work, and I was heading to accompany a young friend of mine to the funeral of two of his 20-something year old friends who were killed the previous day in Gaza in an RPG ambush.

About three miles from our home, we suddenly saw an army helicopter hovering over a wheat-field, and about a half-dozen humvees racing across the same fields.

We turned on the radio, and heard an alert instructing everyone in our area to lock their doors and stay inside their homes; terrorists had come through another terror-tunnel and were loose in the fields.

My wife an I looked at each other.  We were three miles from home.  Our children were home alone, asleep in their beds.  We turned white, as fear washed over us.  “Even if we were at home”, I whispered to my wife, “we would still be helpless.  We have no gun, and these terrorists are highly trained killers…  These soldiers in front of us are the only thing between us and those who would do our children harm…”  It was a horrible thing to have to think about as a parent.  It is the kind of calculus no parent should ever have to process.

(http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4041237,00.html)

As we spun our car around – pointlessly, to the logical mind, but our minds were not interested in logic – I called the security coordinator of our farming town.  “It’s an error”, she said.  “They are not loose in our area.  They are loose around a village 3 miles from here, and the army is already closing in on them.  We’re safe.”

For now.

And so here I am in the supermarket buying some pastries for a platoon of soldiers who have left their own families behind, walking into the fog of war in order to protect mine.  And they treat me like I’m the hero.  Yeah, right.

These beautiful, selfless young men and women of the Israeli Defense Force.  Key word: “Defense”.

Amazing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

But here is the part that will surprise you, if you are not from Israel.

I am a fair representative of the Israeli people.  And I live under circumstances that could easily allow me to hate “the other”.

But I don’t.  And neither do over 80% of Israelis.  You wouldn’t know this from the press.  They prefer to make sensationalistic stories out of those that are too deeply scarred by war to be able to forgive anymore.  But the vast, vast, vast majority of us want no war with the Palestinians.  In fact, just the opposite.

We want peace for them.  We are an intelligent enough people to understand that our fates are tied to each other.  We know that nothing could offer Israelis a greater guarantee for a peaceful existence than a prosperous Palestinian society.

But Hamas does not want that for either of us, Israelis or Palestinians.  Death on both sides of the border is a victory for Hamas.

 

Here in Israel, we see the same images of Palestinian suffering that those in the rest of the world do.  And you are a fool and an idiot if you cannot comprehend that it hurts us here so much more than it does you on the other side of the world (and of course, it hurts innocent Palestinians most of all).

My Palestinian cousins and I are victims of the same darkness.  The missile and terrorist threat to my children is reflected in the 1,400 lives lost over the past three weeks in Gaza.  We both live under the specter of the same cruel regime.  Hamas turns its own children into targets, and our children into trigger-men.  (http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/07/29/hamas-police-shoot-kill-starving-gazans-a-day-after-executing-protesters/)

Diplomacy will not end this madness.  Regimes like Hamas, Isis, and Al Qaida do not leave their bloodlust ideologies at the doorpost of US-brokered and UN-endorsed agreements.

For each time Israel stopped the last two wars in Gaza in order to spare more lives, the cost has been a stronger Hamas, another round of fighting, and nearly double the lives lost on both sides.

Cancer is not cured by removing half-a-tumor.

We must steel our nerve, grit our teeth, and finish this.  Hamas must be removed from power.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

A the funeral of Gilad, one of the first Israeli soldiers to fall in this war, his father wept over the fresh grave of his young son.  Through his sobs, this is what he said:

“Please, God, let us win this war, so that not one more Israeli family has to bury their children.. and so that not one more Palestinian family has to bury their children.”

He said these words over the fresh grave of his son, killed hours earlier by a Palestinian.

This is the DNA of Israel.  These are not words spoken to sound nice, or to improve our diplomatic standing in front of the world or our image in front of the media.  These are the words of a father spoken through sobs over the grave of his son, who fell protecting my family and Israel, and trying to save the Palestinians from the grips of a terrorist regime called Hamas.

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So these soldiers in the supermarket thank me endlessly and treat me like a hero for buying them pastries.

But I know what is in their DNA.  And I know what is in mine.  And I know what is in the DNA of the Palestinians that the world-press is failing by not telling the real story of Gaza. (http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/07/why_the_media_bear_moral_responsibility_for_the_gaza_civilian_casualties.html

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4518/media-hamas

http://www.timesofisrael.com/the-images-missing-from-the-war-with-hamas/)

 

Our DNA is peace.  It is love.  It is hope.  It is a mutual dream of no more wars, and prosperity for all of us.

And as those soldiers leave the supermarket with smiles of gratitude, I return home to the sensational and distorted media-images of targets and trigger-men.

And my tears flow.

Identifying the Enemy

What do we do when evil kicks us between the eyes?  What do we do when darkness takes our children from us?  How do we respond to unbridled hatred?

How, when we feel a sense of overwhelming pain, hurt, and anger towards those who have hurt us, do we not become filled with hate ourselves, becoming that which we despise.

Here is an important meditation from the Torah portion of ‘Balak’ – “I am not My Enemy”

It was recorded before the war in Gaza began, after three Israeli teens who were kidnapped by Hamas members were found murdered.  It is even more important now, as we find ourselves in the midst of battle, surrounded by the loss of innocent human lives on all sides.

It reminds us that our enemy is not a human being or a specific race, but rather it is blind hatred and those who would sow such hatred in the world.  Palestinians are not the enemies of Jews.  Jews are not the enemies of Palestinians.  Hamas is the enemy of both.

May we each be blessed to channel our love, even in ager, towards creating a world of growing light and compassion.

What Hamas is after, and why… (and why a ceasefire is so evasive)

The perspectives presented in this article reflect the conclusions of the author after having spent the last several weeks reading and watching the press from multiple Mid-East sources, including: Israeli left, right and centrist publications; Israeli television; Egyptian English language press; Egyptian television; Saudi English language press; Lebanese English language press; Palestinian English language press.  This article reflects a holistic view of a vast landscape of information.

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Hamas has an endgame.  It is the destruction of Israel.

Hamas achieved unparalleled military and political strength, as relates to its own history, when it staged a brutal and bloody coup and overthrew the Palestinian Authority in Gaza.  Its military power, and the international government respect given to Hamas, has increased exponentially every year since then.

From its relatively protected haven in Gaza, Hamas has gone from building primitive pipe-bomb type mortars to lob over the fence at Israeli farmers, to having a vast and well-trained terrorist army, long-range missile manufacturing plants, UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or “Drones”) manufacturing plants (yes, they are made right in Gaza, and are fully weaponized), and an underground war-city that spans literal miles.

Yet Hamas reached a dead-end.  For it realized that while it can cause Israel serious harm, pain, and the death of innocent civilians and farmers from Gaza, it will never be able to pose a true existential threat to Israel from Gaza or be able to wage a war to destroy Israel from Gaza.

For that, Hamas would need to control the West Bank (aka: Judea and Samaria), too.  With control of both the West Bank (which chokes Israel from a width of 40 miles to a width of 9 miles) and Gaza, a well-armed and well-staffed Hamas army could conceivably mount an existential threat to Israel.  Hamas’s Endgame.

To get out of Gaza, Hamas has been searching for the right formula that would enable it to earn the trust of the Palestinian Authority enough to begin operating again in the West Bank.  The fig-leaf has been: “Hey, let’s work for Palestinian unity and form a unity government <3!”.  

And then, perhaps a year or so into “working together in a unity government”, Hamas would overthrow the PA in the West Bank – just like they did in Gaza.

Until a few months ago, Abbas (aka: Abu Mazen) wasn’t falling for Hamas’s “Unity Government” overtures.  ‘Fool me once..’ and all that.  But then Israel cornered Abbas diplomatically in the peace-talks.  Abbas couldn’t get the deal he wanted from Bibi in a Peace Accord.  And for reasons that are well-hidden behind thick curtains of an international diplomatic chess game, Abbas was also unable to continue making unilateral moves to sign ‘Palestine’ up with more UN bodies.

So he took a chance with the Hamas card, hoping it would scare Israel into a compromise.  He reasoned that once Israel saw that he was really ready to make a deal with the devil, Israel would have no choice but to soften it’s position in order to pull him back from the Dark Side.  Because Israel has much to fear from a Hamas unleashed in the West Bank.

And so Abbas signed some unity documents with Hamas, and ordered his police force in the West Bank, which until then did not allow ANY known Hamas agents to move around the West Bank freely, to relax the restrictions of movement on the close to 500 Hamas agents within PA territories.

What Abbas didn’t expect, (and sources indicate that neither did the Hamas leadership in Gaza and abroad), was that the long-cooped-up Hamas operatives of the West Bank would not be able to contain their bloodlust with their new-found freedom of movement.

And so a Hamas cell from Hevron struck out to kidnap and murder three Israeli teens, very proud to hang the Hamas shingle-of-terror back out: “We’re back!  And none of your children are safe anymore!”

(note: It has been well-proven that it was indeed a Hamas cell that staged the kidnapping/murder of the three Jewish teens, and not the random act of a few crazed Palestinians in a spontaneous rage.  There were car-drops and switches, escape routes, and multiple hiding spaces that were well-prepared, and which entailed the assistance and precision-coordination of many, many operatives.  See: http://www.timesofisrael.com/with-accomplices-kidnappers-evade-the-shin-bet-for-now/)

But Hamas miscalculated in its assessment of how much the world has changed since Hamas has been holed up in its own fantasy world in Gaza.  It miscalculated how clearly both Israel and the Palestinian Authority understood what Hamas’s goals were for the West Bank.  And it grossly miscalculated how ready and determined Israel was to make sure that would never, ever happen.  Finally, Hamas misunderstood that Abbas was only using them as a bluff for Israel, and upon seeing how quickly Hamas was prepared to engage in violence, Abbas would instruct his security forces to work hand-and-hand with Israeli security forces as they tracked down and arrested nearly every Hamas operative in the West Bank in a matter of weeks.

A month after the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens, Hamas’ entire West Bank infrastructure was completely dismantled by Israel, and all of its essential operatives were in Israeli and Palestinian jails.  And just like that, Hamas’s endgame – an endgame it had been patiently planning and working towards for decades – an endgame that was finally within its grasp – was completely destroyed.

Without its West Bank army, Hamas will never be anything more than an ugly and dangerous regime contained within the left-hand corner of Israel.  Without its West Bank army, Hamas’ dreams of destroying Israel faded into oblivion.

There was only one thing Hamas could do.  Kidnap an Israeli soldier, dead or alive.  After all, Israel released 1,000 Hamas operatives for Gilad Shalit.  “If we capture just one soldier”, reasoned Hamas’s leadership, “we can get all 450 of our holy warriors from the West Bank released and put back in place.”

But since Hamas is well contained in Gaza (and since they didn’t want to call attention to their underground terror-city, since they were saving it for a massive Rosh Hashana terror attack [http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4516/hamas-mega-attack]), the best way to get an Israeli soldier was to draw some Israeli troops into Gaza.  So Hamas started firing volleys of missiles at Israeli cities, with the hope of drawing a few Israeli military units into Gaza so that Hamas could ambush them and get themselves a soldier for trading.

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The background above summarizes the dynamics that have fed into the current conflict between Hamas and Israel, now known as “Operation Protective Edge”.

The following is a succinct summary of each side’s goals and positions vis-a-vis the current war, including a clear explanation of why Hamas has thus-far refused every ceasefire offer:

Hamas:

  1. Hamas wants its West Bank infrastructure and personnel put back.  And capturing an Israeli soldier is the only sure way Hamas knows it can get what it wants.  So Hamas wants an Israeli soldier, dead or alive.
    1. Hamas does not care how many Palestinians die as it seeks to achieve this goal.  At worst, the Palestinian peasant-class are a cheap and expendable commodity to Hamas, who are “blessed to die as martyrs for a good cause”.  At best, the bodies get blamed on Israel, and Hamas’s international stature continues to rise as Israel’s continues to fall.
    2. Hamas will be very happy to achieve the release of its West Bank operatives via diplomacy instead of kidnapping.  That is why, buried in its cease-fire demands is the condition that all recently arrested prisoners of the West Bank round-up be released.  In fact, all other demands Hamas is making for a ceasefire are smoke-and-mirrors.  At the right time, Hamas will reduce its demands to be only the release “of our Palestinian brothers in Israeli jails”.  Hamas has its eye on the prize.
    3. The reason that Hamas will not agree to “a ceasefire as a first step that leads into negotiations”, as the world has repeatedly proposed, and will only agree to stop the war if its demands are met, is because Hamas does not seek a deescalation.  The deeper it can draw Israel into Gaza and the maze-like narrow streets of its inner-urban centers, the greater its chances for a kidnapping.  The Israeli aerial bombings and tanks and cannon-fire have all been part of the foreplay that Hamas expected and knew would come.  They are pushing Israel with everything they can to ‘come-and-get-them’.  They want Israeli soldiers on the ground in the heart of Gaza.

Israel: 

  1. Israel is satisfied that it has been able to vanquish the threat of Hamas in the West Bank; it wants to put that victory “in the bank” and call it a day.
    1. Israel has achieved unprecedented security by having finally uprooted the Hamas threat from the West Bank.
      1. The capture of these terrorist operatives essentially ‘kneecaps’ the existential threat of Hamas towards Israel. 
      2. It also neutralizes the leverage of the Palestinian Authority in threatening a unity government with Hamas.  Sure, such a unity government is still ‘offensive on paper’.  But it no longer carries a security risk, and here in the Middle East that’s all that really matters.
  2. Israel understands perfectly well that Hamas is looking for a soldier to capture, and that falling into Hamas’s hands with a ground-war risks the kidnapping of soldiers (which in turn would mean surrendering many of the major gains on the West Bank).
    1. This is why Israel rushed to a ceasefire the second Egypt put one on the table.  Israel was keenly determined to avoid a ground-war.
    2. This changed when the Hamas terrorists came through a terror-tunnel into Israel last week.  Because it revealed that the kidnapping threat is a clear-and-present-danger, regardless of whether or not Israel sends ground-troops into Gaza.
    3. Therefore, Israel revised the essential goals of the current engagement with Hamas to include a limited ground-incursion in order to eliminate the terror tunnels
    4. However, the terror-tunnels have been exposed to be a much larger underground city (and a much more serious terror-threat) than Israel was aware of, forcing Israel deeper and deeper into Gazan territory in order to eliminate the tunnels.  This plays into Hamas’ hands as it increases the risk to Israeli soldiers

The Conflict:

  1. Israel would like nothing more that to simply ignore Hamas’s rocket fire.  But that is not possible, when the entire country is running into bomb-shelters as missiles rain down day and night.  Ever-optimistic (or desperately wishful), Israel keeps grabbing onto every cease-fire offer that does not include freeing Hamas prisoners or creating unfettered weapons-smuggling routes.  Because Israel wants to avoid an extensive ground-war with Hamas in Gaza at this time.
  2. Hamas wants a soldier, and is scrambling to get this through one of three ways:
    1. Capture one via the terror-tunnels, before the tunnels are all destroyed
    2. Create as much Palestinian bloodshed as possible, and humiliate Israel on the world stage to such a degree that Israel is forced to capitulate to Hamas’s demands (as almost happened last week when Kerry went to Qatar and Turkey)
      1. http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-and-us-openly-at-odds-over-gaza-ceasefire-terms/
      2. http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4365.htm
    3. Keep the rain of missiles falling on Israeli cities, forcing Israel’s hand on a full invasion of Gaza

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Israel will do everything in its power to avoid a full invasion of Gaza and to avoid toppling of Hamas, even if it means ‘waiting out’ Hamas as it exhausts its missile supplies by firing on Israel.  Without it’s West Bank Operatives, and with the horrible death and destruction Hamas has brought on the Palestinians of Gaza, Hamas’s days are numbered.

Egyptian and Saudi media are decimating Hamas (http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4344.htm), and Palestinians read those newspapers and watch those news channels.  And the loss of electricity in Gaza due to the power-plant being hit and so many main power-feed lines from Israel coming down (10 out of 12) will leave millions of Gazans sweltering in the summer heat with rotting food for many weeks after Israel is long-gone from Gaza.  That frustration and discomfort will ultimately direct itself to the natural local scapegoat – the government that is failing to quickly restore power and which “brought the problems on the people” for no worthwhile gains.

Hamas will fall, if Israel can avoid being drawn into a full ground-war.

In the meantime, Hamas will do everything in its power to capture a soldier or steal a body.  And Hamas will do everything in its power (and with the deliberate intent to cost of the lives of its people) to draw Israel into a full ground invasion.  They will break every ceasefire, fire larger and larger missiles, and stack up as many bodies on both side of the border as possible.

In tragic irony, however, is that should Hamas God-forbid manage to capture an Israeli soldier, it would eliminate the single reason that Israel is avoiding a ground-invasion to topple Hamas.  With a soldier in Hamas custody, an ground-invasion and the toppling of Hamas would actually make the most sense.  Because in a scenario where Hamas captures a prisoner-of-war, the only way for Israel to avoid selling out its safety would be to eliminate Hamas completely.

Either way, Hamas loses.  

Hamas thought getting a foothold in the West Bank would lead towards its endgame.  Instead, it has lead to its game-over.

How to truly help better the lives of Palestinians

It’s time for me to start telling the world what I see. I live on the border of Gaza. I live surrounded by miles and miles of residential farmland. There are NO Israeli military bases or targets anywhere near where I live. Yet my family has been living under missile fire of Hamas and other Gaza-based Palestinian terror groups for about 8 years now.

My government has failed to fully protect me. The world has failed to understand the predicament faced by me, my family, my children, and my local Jewish neighbors.

And the world has failed to understand the plight of my Palestinian neighbors.

The first thing I always communicate with a pro-Palestinian advocate, is that I am fiercely pro-Palestinian, too. I have travelled Gaza’s streets personally and have seen the poverty of some areas of Gaza (yes, there are wealthy areas, too) with my own eyes. I truly dream and pray for my Arab cousins to know better days.

The second thing I communicate is that being truly pro-Palestinian requires a much closer understanding of the Palestinian crisis than anyone can possibly glean from the news across the ocean.

The Palestinians are largely hostage to a government that cares firstly about itself, its power, its money and greed, and its survival. Only then, do some of the Palestinian leaders begin to consider the needs of their people and prioritize them.

(http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-the-phenomenal-wealth-of-hamas-leaders-1000957953)
(http://www.thepeoplesvoice.org/cgi-bin/blogs/voices.php/2007/08/17/how_did_suha_arafat_amass_all_these_mill)
(http://www.quora.com/How-much-money-has-Mahmoud-Abbas-stolen-from-the-Palestinian-people)

The levels of corruption and embezzlement of the Palestinian leadership is simply sickening. And it is funded to a large portion by the United Nations, which in turn is funded to about 40% of its budget by US taxpayers.

Beyond the literal BILLIONS of dollars that have been embezzled by Palestinian leaders, while their people are lacking the most basic living amenities (and these daily deprivations are much more humiliating than Israeli Army checkpoints), these US taxpayer>UN monies go to funding hate-indoctrinating children’s public television programs and school textbooks.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21dIRCMfnHs)
(http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/16/opinion/how-palestinian-hate-prevents-peace.html?_r=0)
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57Q8K5TmivM)
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB55IIpCUtk)
(http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=122)

Tell me, please: What chance do young Palestinians have for a future if they are indoctrinated with values of hate, martyrdom, death, and intolerance from nursery-age? Oslo was signed in 1994 – 20 years ago. So Palestinians between the ages of 20-30 have lived their entire lives being fed this IV-tube of hate.

Leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority can sign any political or peace document the US and Europe dream of. But the damage of 20 years of hate-education cannot be undone with politician’s signatures.

We have destroyed a generation of Palestinians. They never had a chance or a choice.

US taxpayers fund 40% of the UN monies that have made this crime possible, and it is still ongoing today.

If you support the Palestinian cause, as I do, abandon the vilification of Israel; this is not the Palestinian people’s greatest problem, humiliation, or enemy.

Their enemy are the leaders who steal their funds for personal greed; use humanitarian building supplies to build tunnels of murder and war, rather than schools and bomb-shelters; and publish TV and textbooks to poison young minds into worshiping death and hatred.

cost of hamas tunnels

Screaming against Israeli policies at protests on a college campus or in front of a local US government office will do very little to help the Palestinian Future. But demanding that the US stop transferring funds to the United Nations unless mechanisms for absolute transparency in the use of those funds are put in place can save the minds and spirits of todays Palestinian youngsters (and tomorrows adults). And it can see that the billions of dollars sent over to better the lives of the Palestinian public reach the needy people the funds are intended for, and not their corrupt leadership’s Swiss bank accounts.