Archive for Gaza

Cover Blown

While the European Union considers Hamass as harmless as the Elks or the Webelos, Hamass considers its options:

According to the reports, Hamas has acknowledged the limited efficacy of its mid- and longer-range rockets, many of which were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system during the war, inflicting very limited civilian casualties. Meanwhile, Hamas has recognized the deadliness of mortar shells, which fall short of Iron Dome’s range.

One new approach that Hamas has been considering in an effort to extend its effective range is to launch large volleys of rockets that would challenge Iron Dome’s ability to fire interceptors in rapid succession, the reports said. It has also been conducting tests, lobbing dozens of rockets into the Mediterranean Sea in recent weeks, according to Ynet, which cited Palestinian Gaza sources in its report.

Is that how a crushed people in a devastated territory behave? Why would the international community reward an Islamofascist entity that starts wars, targets civilians (its own as well as Israeli), and earns the loathing of its big brother, Egypt?

Egyptian military troops have started to inform residents in Rafah that they must evacuate another 500 meters from the border with Gaza, indicting the beginning of the second phase in creating a buffer zone between Egypt and Gaza.

Residents of Rafah have begun to look for alternative housing in el Arish and Sheikh Zuwayed,

An earlier decision ordered residents to clear 500 meters from the border, following this order, the total area to be evacuated will reach 1 kilometer.

The government hopes the buffer zone will isolate the militants who say they attack the security forces in retaliation for the government crackdown on Morsi supporters in which at least 1,400 people have been killed in street clashes.

The authorities also hope that the buffer zone will neutralize hundreds of illegal underground tunnels connecting the Egyptian side of Rafah with Gaza.

Such tunnels are often used for smuggling weapons and militants, and the army says it has already destroyed more than 1,600 of them.

My only disappointment is that Egypt is using its own territory to build a moat around Gaza. I had previously congratulated them on seizing Gaza’s own land for that purpose.

And just for the sake of completeness:

A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip exploded in open territory near the Eshkol Regional Council on Friday around noon, the IDF confirmed.

But when I asked above “why would the international community reward an Islamofascist entity”, I was being rhetorical:

Two months after donors pledged $5.4 billion to help rebuild Gaza after the war between Israel and Hamas, Palestinian, UN and other officials say barely two percent of the money has been transferred.

The conference in Cairo had been hailed as a success, with Qatar promising $1 billion, Saudi Arabia $500 million and the United States and the European Union a combined $780 million in various forms of assistance.

Half was expected to go to rebuilding houses and infrastructure in Gaza destroyed during seven weeks of fighting, and the rest to support the Palestinian budget.

But of the total, only $100 million or so has been received, according to UN and other officials. While the EU and the United States have accelerated some funding that was already in the pipeline, very few new pledges have come to fruition.

So, the Arab states welsh on their pledges, made at a lavish, pointless conference, leaving the US and EU to pick up the tab—with some, most, or all of the money going toward rearming a group even Egypt treats as rabid, as the EU seeks to delist them as a terrorist organization.

And you say I’m cynical.

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Other Evictions You May Have Missed

Hey Amnesty, thanks for reading us, but…where’s our Hat Tip?

Egypt has forcibly evicted an estimated 1,165 families in Rafah so that it can clear a buffer zone by the Gaza border, charged the human rights group Amnesty International, which is concerned that additional homes will be demolished in the coming weeks.

“The scale of the forced evictions has been astonishing; the Egyptian authorities have thrown more than 1,000 families out of their homes in just a matter of days, flouting international and national law,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Shocking scenes have emerged of homes in Rafah being bulldozed, bombed, with entire buildings reduced to piles of rubble and families forcibly evicted,” said Sahraoui on Thursday.

Give me a break with that “shocking” nonsense. Bulldozing and bombing buildings to rubble is always shocking, therefore never so. You sound like a bunch of sissies.

We’ve covered this story for a couple of weeks, though our coverage as been significantly more positive than AI’s.

Egypt has destroyed some 800 homes in November in response to an attack on one of its military checkpoints in north Sinai on October 24, in which 33 soldiers were killed. The armed group Ansar Bait al-Maqdishas claimed responsibility for this attack, Amnesty said.

Days after the attack, on October 29, Egypt’s Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab issued a legal mandate to create of a buffer zone by Rafah and called for the area to be evacuated.

Clearing a buffer zone to stop Hamas from building infiltration and smuggling tunnels from Gaza into Egypt is one of the steps Egypt is taking to protect its armed forces from attacks by militant groups, Amnesty said.

At least 238 members of the security forces have been killed in northern Sinai since 3 July 2013, according state media reports.

Egypt has a right to take security measures, but it must do so within the bounds of international human rights law, Amnesty said.

The forced evictions have ignored these laws, said Amnesty, which explained that residents were not given adequate notice, proper compensation and alternative housing.

What rights? Gaza is run by Hamass, a criminal and terrorist organization. It must be isolated. When it isn’t, people—Egyptian, Israeli, Gazan—die.

Besides:

In a November 20th interview on France i24, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi defended the home demolitions and explained that the local population had been notified.

“Meetings have been organized in order to compensate them and to rebuild a new city of Rafah,” Sisi said.

“In our struggle against terrorism, we always tried to do our utmost to spare the human lives of civilians. We always respected human rights,” Sisi said.

In a related story of displaced people:

History was made on Sunday, November 30, when for the first time in the annals of the state, official recognition was given to Jewish refugees from Arab lands and Iran.

The event, hosted by President Reuven Rivlin at his official residence, was the continuum of legislation that was passed by the Knesset in June of this year designating November 30 as the national day of commemoration of the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab lands and Iran. The date was significant in that it commemorates the day after the anniversary of the November 29, 1947 United Nations resolution on the partition of Palestine, which led to an immediate flare up of anti-Zionist action and policy among Arab states, resulting in the killing, persecution, humiliation, oppression and expulsion of Jews, the sequestration of Jewish property and a war against the nascent State of Israel.

In 1948 close to a million Jews lived in Arab lands. Some were massacred in pogroms. Most fled or were expelled between 1948 and 1967. In 1948 there were 260,000 Jews in Morocco. Today there are less than 3,000. In the same time frame, the Jewish population of Algeria declined from 135,000 to zero, in Tunisia from 90,000 to a thousand, in Libya from 40,000 to zero, in Egypt from 75,000 to less than one hundred, in Iraq from 125,000 to zero, in Yemen from 45,000 to approximately 200, in Syria from 27,000 to 100, and in Lebanon from 10,000 in the 1950s to less than 100.

Jewish population in Arab lands is now 4,500 out of 1948’s 1,000,000—a 99.55% eradication of their former number. And they have the chutzpah to accuse Israel of genocide.

We trust these two stories have been helpful in understanding the region. You’re welcome.

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Last Turkey Before Thanksgiving

We’ll post what we can while we prepare the fatted bird, but couldn’t resist this one.

Way to go, Egypt!

Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing Wednesday to allow thousands of stranded Palestinians to return to Gaza but the frontier will remain closed to traffic going the other way, Palestinian and Egyptian border officials said.

One of Gaza’s vital gateways to the outside world, the Rafah crossing was shut on Oct. 25 after Islamist militants in Egypt’s adjacent Sinai region killed 33 members of the security forces in some of the worst anti-state violence since Islamist president Mohamad Mursi was toppled in July 2013.

The month-long closure marooned around 6,000 Palestinians in Egypt or third countries, while around a thousand people in Gaza are desperate to get out for medical treatment in Egypt, officials in Islamist-ruled Gaza say.

Rafah is the only major border crossing into the impoverished Gaza Strip, a narrow, densely populated enclave on the Mediterranean coast, that does not go through Israel, which blockades the territory.

Oh really? Some blockade:

Twenty-eight trucks of cement entered the battered Gaza Strip Tuesday in only the second delivery of building materials for the private sector since a 50-day summer war, an official said.

Raed Fatouh, the Palestinian Authority official in charge of the entry of goods through the Kerem Shalom crossing, said 28 trucks, each carrying 40 tons of cement, had crossed into the enclave.

It was the first delivery of building materials for the private sector since Oct. 14, when 75 trucks entered Gaza, carrying 1,300 tons of material – 15 trucks of cement, 10 of metal and 50 of gravel.

“This is the biggest delivery of cement since the war ended,” Fatouh told AFP, referring to the seven-week conflict between Israel and Hamas which ended with a truce on Aug. 26.

“But it is not enough, it is only a tiny amount for the reconstruction.”

You wouldn’t need any of it if you didn’t go around starting wars, dip[bleep]. You’re lucky not to starve.

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The UN, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International Could Not be Reached for Comment

But we’ll keep trying:

Ten civilians were killed overnight during fighting between the Egyptian army and Islamist militants in Sinai, near Egypt’s border with Gaza, where the military has launched a crackdown in recent weeks, security and medical sources said on Wednesday.

At least three of the casualties were children and three were women, the medical sources said. The victims were killed in their home by two mortar shells fired by militants during a night-time curfew, security sources said.

When will our State Department condemn these senseless killings? When will Jen Psycho take a # selfie? Why is it only news when Israel regrettably and regretfully takes civilian lives in its battles for self-defense?

These are all rhetorical questions.

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And the Difference Is…?

Journalist…terrorist… [shrug]:

Abdullah Murtaja, a Palestinian killed in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge on August 25, has been described by the United Nations for the past several months as a civilian “journalist.”

According to reports, Murtaja worked for the Hamas-affiliated Al Aqsa TV satellite channel, and was killed during shelling of the al-Shujaiyya neighborhood of Gaza City.

The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, said in a statement from August:

“I condemn the killing of Abdullah Murtaja. Journalists must be able to carry out their work in safe conditions and their civilian status needs to be respected at all times. Society needs to be kept informed of events, never more so than when living in the shadow of conflict.”

But a video portraying Murtaja “reporting” from Gaza in full jihadist uniform with rifle in hand, had disproved their civilian journalist theory.

“On 14 November, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, issued an update about the statement she issued on 29 August, 2014, regarding Abdullah Murtaja, in the context of UNESCO’s mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom.”

“The original statement issued on 29 August was in line with UNESCO’s policy of condemning all killings of journalists. During this week, information has been brought to the attention of UNESCO that Mr Murtaja was a member of an organized armed group — an active combatant, and, therefore, not a civilian journalist. This has come to light in a video was posted recently on the Internet with Abdullah Murtaja speaking as a member of an organized armed group.”

“UNESCO therefore withdraws the statement of 29 August.”

Whoop-di-frickin’-do. At least the guy admitted his bias. I wish reporters for the New York Times and NPR cut like videos. Same goes for every United Nations agency.

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Hey, Bankie Moon!

You got some splainin’ to do.

Still:

Nearly five months after a United Nations agency pledged to investigate rockets found on its premises during this summer’s Gaza war, no such inquiry has taken place.

While other UN institutions have rolled out commissions of inquiry into Operation Protective Edge, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, known as UNRWA, has yet to launch the promised probe to examine the circumstances of three separate instances in which rockets having been placed in schools it operates.

How these weapons got into the schools and what happened to them afterwards remains somewhat unclear. UNRWA says it returned the rockets to “the local authorities,” which Israeli officials charge means they found their way back to Hamas and might have been fired at Israeli civilians.

On Monday, UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon launched an “internal and independent” inquiry into incidents that involved UN premises during Operation Protective Edge, including the shelling by Israeli forces of UNRWA schools and the rockets found there.

Can’t ask for more than that. Though…how an investigation can be both “internal and independent” is a little unclear to me.

Untitled

Today’s lesson, boys and girls…

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Jen Psycho

Jen Psaki will never go lower than when she began:

But give her credit for trying:

MATT LEE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Yesterday, the ICC made its decision that there was no case to prosecute for war crimes in Gaza. But also yesterday – and you spoke about that very briefly here. But also yesterday, General Dempsey, who is no slouch when it comes to military things, told an audience in New York that the Israelis went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage during the Gaza war.

And I’m puzzled, because I thought it was the position of the Administration – or maybe it was just the position of the State Department and the White House – that Israel was not doing enough to live up to its – what you called its own high standards. Back on August 3rd, there was the statement you put out after the UNRWA school incident, saying that the U.S. “is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling.” And that was some pretty fierce criticism.

How do you reconcile these two apparent divergent points of view? When this statement came out, the United States was appalled? Did that just mean the State Department was appalled?

Allow, me, BTL—aka Thirstradamus—to take a bow. We called this yesterday. Over our morning coffee:

Dempsey said the Pentagon three months ago sent a “lessons-learned team” of senior officers and non-commissioned officers to work with the IDF to see what could be learned from the Gaza operation, “to include the measures they took to prevent civilian casualties and what they did with tunneling.”

The general said civilian casualties during the conflict were “tragic, but I think the IDF did what they could” to avoid them.

“The IDF is not interested in creating civilian casualties. They’re interested in stopping the shooting of rockets and missiles out of the Gaza Strip and into Israel,” Dempsey stressed.

Boy, another member of the Obama regime going off the reservation. Wait’ll Barack and John Kerry hear about this! Obama will know whose ass to kick.

Not only did the general praise Israel, he sent a team to learn how they did it!

Ms. Psaki, your response?

JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT: No, that is the position of the Administration; it remains the position of the Administration. As we made clear throughout the summer’s conflict, we supported Israel’s right to self-defense and strongly condemned Hamas’s rocket attacks that deliberately targeted civilians, and the use of tunnels, of course, of attacks into Israel. However, we also expressed deep concern and heartbreak for the civilian death toll in Gaza and made clear, as you noted in the statement you pointed to, that we believed that Israel could have done more to prevent civilian casualties, and it was important that they held their selves to a high standard. So that remains our view and position about this summer’s events.

LEE: Okay. But I’m still confused as to how you can reconcile the fact that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – who knows a bit about how military operations work, I would venture to guess; I don’t know him, but I assume that he wouldn’t be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff if he was – if he didn’t —

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

LEE: — says that the Israelis essentially did the best that they could and lived up to – by extension lived up to their high standards by taking – by going to, quote, “extraordinary lengths” to limit the collateral damage.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would point you to the chairman’s team for his – more specifics on his comments. But it remains the broad view of the entire Administration that they could have done more and they should have taken more – all feasible precautions to prevent civilian casualties.

I almost think she couldn’t be this dumb, that someone is holding a metaphoric gun to her head, making her say these imbecilic things.

And then I look at that absurd selfie again. The administration’s position is that Israel did everything it could to prevent civilian casualties, yet is could have done more (while Hamass wanted as many as it could get, both Arab and Israeli). Yep, that twit could utter that nonsense on her own, without any coercion.

And, given her “high standard”, she could utter more.

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Subterranean Society

You can’t get much lower than this:

[General Martin] Dempsey said Hamas had turned Gaza into “very nearly a subterranean society” with tunneling throughout the coastal enclave.

“That caused the IDF some significant challenges. But they did some extraordinary things to try and limit civilian casualties, to include … making it known that they were going to destroy a particular structure,” he noted.

He said the IDF, in addition to dropping warning leaflets, developed a technique called “roof-knocking” to advise residents to leave sites they planned to strike.

Dempsey said the Pentagon three months ago sent a “lessons-learned team” of senior officers and non-commissioned officers to work with the IDF to see what could be learned from the Gaza operation, “to include the measures they took to prevent civilian casualties and what they did with tunneling.”

The general said civilian casualties during the conflict were “tragic, but I think the IDF did what they could” to avoid them.

“The IDF is not interested in creating civilian casualties. They’re interested in stopping the shooting of rockets and missiles out of the Gaza Strip and into Israel,” Dempsey stressed.

Boy, another member of the Obama regime going off the reservation. Wait’ll Barack and John Kerry hear about this! Obama will know whose ass to kick.

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Oh, Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

They said if Israel would just work with Arab states more, things would improve with the so-called Palestinians.

And they were right!

Israel has given the Egyptian army authorization to move two more battalions into the Sinai Peninsula Thursday.

In addition to the infantry battalions, the Egyptians will also move attack helicopters into positions in the Sinai, according to Army Radio, which reported that the decision was made in order to enable Egypt to fight radical elements in the peninsula.

Egypt has ramped up its operations in the Sinai since an attack last month on a military installation by local jihadist organization Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis left 31 soldiers dead. Following the attack, Egypt closed its border with the Gaza Strip and began construction on a buffer zone in the area.

The Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty limits the number of troops Cairo can deploy in the Sinai, but Israel has given its blessing to move in more forces as Egypt began making a concerted effort last year to rein in Islamist groups.

You don’t hear much talk about it these days, but there is also undoubtedly cooperation between Israel and the Sunni gulf states to stop Iran’s nuclear program—especially with Barack Hussein Obama and John Farouq Kerry ready to hand them the keys to the silo.

In other news:

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor says she will not take action over Israel’s deadly commando raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010.

Fatou Bensouda said this was despite a “reasonable basis to believe that war crimes… were committed on one of the vessels, the Mavi Marmara”.

But she said the ICC had to prioritise war crimes committed on a large scale.

Nine Turkish activists were killed on the ship as it attempted to breach a blockade of the Palestinian territory.

“Activists”, ha! That would make Tony Sopranos crew activists. The Manson gang were activists. But I’ll take my good news where I can find it. If the limit is nine terrorists killed, but ten will get you charged, Israel has its marching orders. “Nine is fine; ten is a sin.”

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#AISL

And you wonder why we hate so-called “human rights organizations”:

The campaigns manager for Amnesty International UK, Kristyan Benedict, published a Tweet on Wednesday comparing Israel to the Islamic State, using the contentious hashtag #JSIL.

The hashtag has been used by extreme anti-Israel groups to draw a parallel between Israel and the Islamist organization infamous for beheading its captives, including several Western hostages.

In response to Benedict’s Tweet, the Israeli embassy in London on Wednesday accused the Amnesty official of ignoring real terrorist attacks and of using anti-Semitic tropes.

“Amnesty’s campaigns manager has unfortunately compromised the integrity of his organization, by choosing to use the #JSIL hashtag, used by the most extreme activists to compare Israel with the ISIS terror group,” said the statement by the embassy.

“It’s ironic that for all of Amnesty’s work on Syria and Iraq, its own campaigns manager can’t see Hamas terrorism for what it is, and instead chooses to use an ugly, hateful term with anti-Jewish connotations.”

Usually, Human Rights Watch plays this game. You can understand why Amnesty wants a piece of the action. Hang on, ASPCA, your turn will come.

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It’s Another Nakba!

Not the Nakba you’re thinking of, but nakb-esque nevertheless:

The Egyptian army continues expelling Arab residents and detonating buildings in its destruction of the Gazan side of the Egyptian border as the world is notably silent, even as Egypt reveals it will not refrain from taking action against Muslim clerics as well.

The Egyptian Waqf (Islamic trust) announced it will dismiss and expel Muslim clerics if smuggling tunnels are found below the mosques in which they serve, reports the Egyptian news agency Aswat Masriya.

In the recent Operation Protective Edge, the IDF was faced with lethal attack tunnels from under mosques, but nevertheless was hit by massive international criticism for its defensive operation – a criticism that has been completely absent regarding Egypt’s “buffer zone” plan.

According to Yedioth Aharonoth, one of the lone sources of criticism of the plan has been the Qatar-based Al Jazeera news outlet, which identifies with the Muslim Brotherhood that has been at odds with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s regime, and which has several reporters still being held under arrest by Egypt.

The Qatari paper quoted residents calling the buffer zone plan “the Egyptian parallel to the Nakba (Catastrophe) of ’48,” a reference to the Arab residents who fled the nascent modern state of Israel as it survived attacks on all fronts in the War of Independence.

I had a post on this story over the weekend. I still haven’t stopped smiling.

Today, for the first time in my adult time, I am proud of Egypt. Actually, not for the first time. With some minor exceptions, General Sisi has been the model of a modern Arab dictator. Sisi by name, badass by nature.

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Peace in Our Time

I noted that Egypt had so soured on Hamass’s [bleep] that they were going to impose a buffer zone. I just thought they’d do so with their own territory. I was wrong.

Way to go, Egypt:

Arab residents of Gaza were rounded up by armed soldiers and forced to flee their homes, which were promptly exploded in impressive plumes of dust and sand – but the soldiers were Egyptian, and there has been no international criticism of the buffer zone Egypt is establishing by force on the Gaza side of the Sinai border.

In the buffer zone plan, Egypt is seizing and evacuating all homes and farmland up to 500 meters (over 1,640 feet) into Gaza, all along the 13 kilometer (over eight mile) border. Additionally, a channel with a depth and width of 20 meters (over 65 feet) will be dug along the Gaza border.

The expulsion is in fact being sped up, after the Egyptian army said Saturday night it discovered hundreds more smuggling tunnels into Sinai from satellite imagery, reports the Arabic-language Sky News as cited by Yedioth Aharonoth.

The Egyptian move follows two lethal terror attacks two weeks ago on Friday, in which at least 31 Egyptian soldiers were killed in El-Arish in the Sinai by a suicide bombing and a shooting attack.

Egyptian sources revealed last week that Hamas terrorists had provided the weapons for the attack through one of its smuggling tunnels under the border to Sinai; the attacks were conducted by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis jihadists, members of a group sympathetic to Islamic State (ISIS).

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi justified the expulsion by citing the attacks, which led him to declare Sinai in a state of emergency, and insisting “Egypt is fighting a war of existence.”

And the world’s outrage over Egypt’s “disproportionate” response? The UN Security Council emergency meeting?

crickets

Such hypocrisy should make me mad, but I’m enjoying the (misplaced, delayed) justice too much. That’s 6.5 square kilometers that Hamass won’t have to launch terror attacks at Israel or Egypt. If Israel did the same thing, and no more, that would mean an additional 26 square kilometers. The two “safety zones” would comprise nearly ten percent of Gaza’s territory. Let’s call it the “Egyptian Peace Plan”, and let’s get it done. For peace.

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