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Divided Israeli Cabinet Debates ‘Harsh Retaliation’ Against Gaza

gaza air attacks

Gaza is burning…again

In the midst of the baying of the Dogs of War over the discovery of the bodies of three Israeli teenagers apparently murdered after being abducted, let’s hear a still small voice of reason and sanity.

First, despite scores of repeated claims by Israeli officials and reporters that the alleged killers were affiliated with Hamas, not a single shred of evidence has been presented to confirm this.  One of the few journalists covering this story with any skepticism is Sheera Frenkel of Buzzfeed, who wrote this:

Israeli intelligence officials…remained divided over whether Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha — two men named as wanted suspects behind the kidnapping — had direct ties to Hamas. The Qawasmeh family, one of the better-known families in Hebron, had recently distanced itself from Hamas.

“What we do know, is that this was likely an opportunistic move. The men behind this may have ties to a larger terror group, but this does not have the markings of a well-planned, complex operation,” one Israeli officer, based in the West Bank, told BuzzFeed earlier this month.

In Hebron, local residents who knew the families of the suspects expressed doubt that Hamas was responsible, especially after the Hamas’ senior leadership distanced itself from the kidnapping.

“That family, the Qawasmehs, often acted without the knowledge or signing-off of the senior Hamas leadership,” said Mahmoud Zabir, a Palestinian resident of Hebron who knows the family well. “They were considered troublemakers, even by Hamas.”

So due to the precipitous acts of a small handful (perhaps as few as two) of Palestinian killers, Bibi Netanyahu gets to pursue his blood lust scorched earth policy which may lead to a new invasion by Israeli forces.  Veteran Israeli security reporter, Yossi Melman, tweeted:

“Harsh retaliation” may be another way of saying ground invasion.  As I write this the IAF has launched over 35 sorties against ‘targets’ in Gaza.  Though this is a misnomer since there are no discrete targets there.  As far as Israel is concerned, all of Gaza is the target.  The cardinal rule of contemporary Israel is that whatever happens, Gaza suffers.  Gaza is the punching bag.  When a prime minister is falling in the polls and needs any sort of distraction to divert attention, take it out on Gaza.

Further, one day before the bodies were discovered Israel ordered armored units to report to the Gaza border where they are mobilizing for what may happen.  The cabinet will resume its meeting momentarily after failing to reach agreement yesterday.  I shudder to think of what’s in store for the people Gaza and those of southern Israel who will undoubtedly face volleys of rockets if there is sustained military action.

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon is rattling his sabers:

Israelis have the willingness and the fortitude necessary to endure the hardships of a long-lasting operation aimed at eradicating Hamas.

We will not stop until Hamas is completely defeated.

This is the same rhetoric that preceded the 2006 Lebanon war and the 2008-9 Operation Cast Lead.  I predict one of two things: either there is a full-scale invasion of Gaza; or a punishing air assault accompanied by some dramatic targeted killings over the next six months which try to eliminate some of Hamas’ senior leadership.  Neither of those options will eradicate or defeat Hamas.  To do this, Israel would have to occupy Gaza and no Israeli has the stomach for that.

The question is where will Pres. Obama be when the tanks begin rolling?  Will he be playing golf?  Or occupied with some other matter as Gaza babies die?  He may be the only figure who can stop this madness before it starts.  It’s doubtful he has the will or interest to do so.

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Lou June 30, 2014, 11:28 PM

    Hamas has chosen to violate the de facto truce it has had with Israel since 2012 by launching their own rockets at Israel.
    If Hamas persists with these attacks, then they will have initiated the next war in Gaza.


    • Richard Silverstein July 1, 2014, 12:26 AM

      @ Lou: “Hamas” didn’t choose to violate anything as no proof has ever been produced that Hamas approved this kidnapping or had anything to do with it. Nor do you have any proof that Hamas is launching rockets now. But I assure you if the IDF continues the air attacks or invades, then Hamas will respond. But that’s just what you & Bibi want, don’t you?

      • Lou July 1, 2014, 4:57 AM

        I never mentioned the kidnappings.
        Rockets being launched from exclusively controlled Hamas refugee camps, presumes Hamas is firing rockets at Israel.

        Nothing could be clearer.

        • Richard Silverstein July 1, 2014, 11:42 AM

          @ Lou: Nothing could be muddier. Hamas doesn’t “control” refugee camps. Unless the IDF “controls” all settlers who murder and maim Palestinians. If you’re willing to blame the IDF & Israeli state for every act of violence against Palestinians, then I might change my mind. Let me know.

  • Lou June 30, 2014, 11:48 PM

    Yossi Melman’s bizarre tweet on the (premature) fall of Baghdad.


    Someone pass the salt shaker.

    • Richard Silverstein July 1, 2014, 12:26 AM

      @ Lou: It was a joke. Or have you forgotten what a joke is? Melman’s tweet I published tonight is as serious as a heart attack.

      • Lou July 1, 2014, 5:01 AM

        Journalists who issue phoney news reports, as jokes, should find new work.

        Conversely, the only comedian who ever sat on stage reading the news, instead of telling jokes, was Andy Kaufman.

        • Richard Silverstein July 1, 2014, 11:43 AM

          @ Lou: Sorry buddy. He’s one of Israel’s best security reporters. Not always right (& I’ve said so). But he has good sources much of the time. When your sources are as good as his, let us know. We’ll start reading your blog.

      • Richard Silverstein July 1, 2014, 11:36 AM

        @ Lou: A friend has pointed out to me that Melman wasn’t joking and that his tweet was based on a source who gave him erroneous information. I can’t account for his error. But I can account for the fact that in the past I’ve pointed out when I thought Melman was right and when he was wrong. In this business, every time you trust a source you leave yourself open for error. All I can say is that I trust Melman (except on that tweet) more than I do most Israeli security reporters. In fact, he once pointed out to me that I was wrong about a story.

  • nessim dayan July 1, 2014, 12:33 AM

    the world has had it with israel and it’s leaders loony bin leaders. as much as obama has told to iraq the initiative must come from them as primordial show of attitude. the same applies to this corner as well. until and unless this happens nobody in the world will bother israel’s loony bin leaders and their hatred and racism
    it is truly breath taking the hypocrisy of the jewish leaders asking palestinians to stomp out the hate teaching in their (palestinians) education when on this side, there is nothing but pure and unadulterated hate and racism permeating every single fiber of israel’s people (perhaps not extreme but at one point or another in their lives that virus has shown it’s head)
    the only thing changing lately is the “degree” –

  • Oui July 1, 2014, 2:34 AM

    Were the Israeli teens fron Gush Etzion settlement bloc?

    Peace Talks and Zionist Optimism … Gush Etzion and Palestinian Land – April 14, 2014

    (Haaretz) – With the stroke of a pen, Israel seized control of 984 dunams of territory in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared the area “state land.” The terrain would be more aptly defined as contested territory, since it surrounds private Palestinian lands, which will now become enclaves that are inaccessible to the owners.

    The area also includes the illegal outpost Netiv Ha’avot, home to Ze’ev Hever, secretary of Amana, an organization that primarily builds illegal outposts in the West Bank. It’s likely that this outpost will be “laundered” as well, and along with the settlements Neve Daniel, Elazar and Alon Shvut, Netiv Ha’avot will see significant expansion.

    Ya’alon’s outstretched arm did not stop in Gush Etzion. On the eve of Passover, he allowed Hebron settlers to inhabit the so-called “House of Contention,” in the wake of the High Court of Justice’s rejection of the petition by the home’s former owners and ruling that the sale of the building to a Jewish investor was legal.

    … their bodies were found near the town of Halhul, just north of Hebron.

    • Yuval July 1, 2014, 8:39 AM

      Nope. Two of them were from inside the Green Line, the third from a settlement in Samaria, west of the security fence.

  • Markus July 1, 2014, 4:04 AM

    This just comes at an all too convenient time. Why would Hamas do this now ?

    Cui Bono ? Not Palestinians, not official Hamas.

  • Oui July 1, 2014, 10:22 AM
  • sanych July 1, 2014, 11:23 AM

    Hamas is on record calling for kidnaping of Israeli Jews. What other evidence do you need?

    • Oui July 1, 2014, 1:52 PM

      Israel’s cabinet members are on record for legalizing outposts and killing Palestinians in revenge. What other evidence do you need?

      • sanych July 1, 2014, 2:15 PM

        Oui, don’t switch the subject. The issue is that Israeli government “did not present a shred of evidence” that Hama’s is behind the kidnapping. Who killed Jesus is not on the agenda, so stick to the subject.

        • Richard Silverstein July 1, 2014, 2:41 PM

          @ sanych: When I need you to direct the comment thread & make editorial decisions, I’ll ask. Till then, that’s my role.

    • Richard Silverstein July 1, 2014, 2:38 PM

      @ sanych: That’s evidence? Of what? If I used this sort of ‘evidence’ to convict you of murder I should be laughed out of court.

      • sanych July 1, 2014, 3:46 PM

        [comment deleted–knock off the Nazi references or you’ll be moderated. READ THE COMMENT RULES. I warned you earlier today. The next problem will lead to moderation.]

        • sanych July 1, 2014, 5:00 PM

          OK. Let me rephrase.

          1. Consistent incitement to violence is equivalent to participation in violence.

          2. Israel may be reluctant to share information if it comes from a sensitevr source.

          3. Israel is not obligated to prove anything to anybody. It does have an obligation to protect its citizens. Thus, it can act accordingly.

    • SimoHurtta July 1, 2014, 2:41 PM

      Masses of “them” are now shouting “death to Arabs” in Israel and in settlements. What else proofs do Arabs and Muslims need?

      Reading the comments Israeli Jews are now making it is obvious that they do not understand numbers. In Israel are 6 million Jews and around the world some 7 million more. In the world are 1.2 billion Muslims and 450 million Arabs. If it gets “serious” it obvious which side will win. Drones and a couple of hundred of nukes are not enough against a world wide “religious guerrilla war”.

  • ben July 1, 2014, 2:18 PM

    It seems the Qawasameh tribe are some hard core people they make hamas look like fatah.

    I would guess the reason why the family distanced itself from hamas is they consider the unity government a betrayal and probably took this crime of opportunity to start another war.

    Here is a list of “famous” members of the tribe and all thier hanious acts. Below is the wiki article. If anything israel should go after them and leave gaza alone.

    Mahmud Amaran Qawasameh (suicide bomber in Haifa bus 37, dead)
    Hazem Qawasameh (committed shooting attack in Kiryat Arba, dead)
    Fuad Qawasameh (suicide bomber in Gross square in Hebron, dead)
    Hamza Qawasameh (killed Netanel Uzari, dead)[1]
    Muhasan Qawasameh (committed attack on Negohot settlement, dead)
    Raad Misk Qawasameh (suicide bomber of Jerusalem bus 2 massacre, dead)
    Abbedallah Qawasameh (leader, dead)
    Bassal Qawasameh (leader, dead)
    Ahmed Abed Qawasameh (suicide bomber in Beersheba, dead)
    Imad Qawasameh (leader, arrested October 13, 2004)[2]


    • Richard Silverstein July 1, 2014, 4:25 PM

      @ ben: You don’t think there are Israeli Jewish families equally proud of the ultimate sacrifice made by their children? You don’t think Baruch Goldstein’s family considers him a martyr for the Jewish people? Spare me the morality tales.

      • ben July 1, 2014, 6:19 PM

        Richard how many goldstiens were nut jobs? The answer is one. This hamasnik family has several suicide bombers. The fact is baruch was an isolated incident for that family you cant say the same for the other. They are the bad guys not the poor folks in gaza.

        • Richard Silverstein July 1, 2014, 11:02 PM

          @ ben:

          how many goldstiens were nut jobs? The answer is one.

          You are exposing your ignorance. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of Israeli extremists who’ve engaged in violence against Palestinians. There are scores who’ve killed Palestinian civilians in cold blood. Only one Israeli extremist nut job?? Open a book on the subject & read much more. In fact, I’ve written many many blog posts recounting terror attacks against Palestinians by settlers.

  • poirefrais July 1, 2014, 6:32 PM

    Enough killing, atrocities, crimes against humanity!
    How many more will be killed, tortured, brutalized because of zionist/Netanyahu intransigence!


  • Andy July 1, 2014, 9:28 PM

    “We will not stop until Hamas is completely defeated.”

    Over and above Hamas’ possible involvement in what happened, it is important to point out that Hamas is a ‘symptom’ of Israel’s longstanding mistreatment of the Palestinians. Hamas would not exist in the first place if Israel treated the Palestinians as Jews themselves would want to be treated.

    I hate to break the news to Israel and its so-called ‘supporters’, but as long as Israel views the Palestinians as untermenschen and treats them accordingly, there will be a Hamas.

  • Mary Hughes Thompson July 1, 2014, 9:33 PM

    With the apparent blessing of Israel’s leaders, retribution has begun.

  • Mary Hughes Thompson July 1, 2014, 9:35 PM

    And from the Globe & Mail. It appears there were witnesses to the boy’s kidnapping. Waiting for Obama to make his speech… “As as father…. bla bla bla…”


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