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gaza war deadThe Gaza War, which began in blood, has turned into a gothic horror story.  Faced with a Hamas defense that is far more dynamic and lethal than during Cast Lead, the IDF has lost 28 soldiers, almost three times as many as were killed during the entire 2009 invasion.  The Palestinian fighters have spent the past three years honeycombing Gaza and the border area with Israel with tunnels.  This is the same strategy Hezbollah used to surprise the IDF, when it killed nearly 130 Israeli soldiers.  The new strategy has allowed Hamas fighters to appear out of nowhere to engage Israeli troops directly.  It allows them to move almost at will underground from place to place depending on where they deem an attack to be likely of success.

Besides the high death count, Hamas appears to have captured IDF soldier, Shaul Oron, or at least have his body.  Oron was among the soldiers in the outdated 50 year old APC that was struck and destroyed by an anti-tank shell.  Seven were killed in this single incident.  Though the IDF initially denied a soldier had been kidnapped, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told the Guardian today:

…The IDF could not rule out the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Hamas, despite denials late on Sunday by the Israeli ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor.

My Israeli source tells me the IDF now believes that Hamas has Oron’s body, but that he is not alive.  There was one survivor of the attack on the APC.  He claims to have seen the bodies of everyone else in the vehicle and no others were alive. Maariv reports that six bodies have been positively identified, but not a seventh.

Though I give my source and these media accounts the strong benefit of the doubt, Lerner’s deliberate phrasing at least allows for the remote possibility that Oron is alive.  If he is, this changes the picture entirely for Israel, which finds the idea of leaving a soldier behind in enemy hands to be abhorrent.  It gives Hamas a powerful weapon in any ceasefire negotiation.  Even if Oron is dead, his body remains a bargaining chip.  For those readers who find this language to be cynical, I remind them that there are 600 Palestinian bodies, none of which are bargaining chips for anything.

Dead Palestinian children

Hamas’ “telegenic dead.” (AP/Khalil Hamra)

In response to Hamas’ new robust strategy and Israeli losses, the IDF has engaged in the carpet-bombing of the Shejaia neighborhood, with hundreds of dead.

The merciless, almost genocidal nature of the assault can be seen in a heartbreaking video, which I didn’t have the heart to display here, of a Gaza civilian leading three medics to his home to try to retrieve a relative.  While the man lies in the rubble of his home, an IDF sharpshooter fires into his body repeatedly till he is dead.  The medics are forced to stand by helplessly throughout the murder.

Not to be outdone, Bibi Netanyahu today, uttered one of the more heinous, disgusting statements in the history of Israeli premiers.  He complained about the media coverage of Palestinian deaths:

“These people are the worst terrorists — genocidal terrorists,” he said. “They call for the destruction of Israel and they call for the killing of every Jew, wherever they can find them.”

“They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can,” Netanyahu added. “They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better.”

In that single italicized phrase above, he turned Israel from a sympathetic figure in at least some portions of the world (i.e. the Congress and White House, at least) into outright ghouls.  Natasha Lennard, in one of the most outraged and eloquent of all articles I’ve read during this invasion, tore him to shreds, and rightfully so:

From the vantage point of New York, Israel’s Operation Protective Edge is narrativized through a ghastly visual field of corpses. We saw the mangled, limp frames of four Palestinian children killed on a beach by Israeli missiles.

Then, today, a video emerged from the devastated neighborhood of Shujaiyeh that will knock the air from your lungs. The footage apparently depicts a young man, searching for his family, who is repeatedly shot by a sniper until dead. Like the volunteer who captured the execution on his cellphone, all we can do is watch as the man flails and falls still…

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu…in a monstrous comment to CNN, he condemned Hamas for displaying “telegenically dead” Palestinians to garner international sympathy. His words bear picking apart.

Telegenic, of course, means that something is specifically suited to the medium of TV. Young children are arguably more telegenic than most other members of our species. So Bibi is not wrong: Dead children are more suited for TV coverage than most. This is terrible, this is true; this is true because it is terrible. If news media barters in horror and bathos, innocent dead bodies are prime currency.

Bibi says the “telegenically dead” are a Hamas PR tool, and in so doing he admits that Israeli fire is producing the sort of dead bodies that make news…

Bibi says that Hamas wants the Palestinian dead to visibly pile up. His words, as Glenn Greenwald pointed out, were hauntingly reminiscent of a comment made by Joseph Goebbels about Jews “send[ing] out the pitiable” to gain sympathy. His words are also of no consequence compared to the fact that the dead bodies, horrifyingly suited to media consumption, continue to pile up in Gaza.

So long as “telegenic” has been an available concept, history has offered only one conclusion when presented with dead children’s bodies. We often learn of the darkest points in modern history through visceral images of innocent dead. Images coming from Gaza now of Palestine’s telegenic dead should confine this Israeli government to a reviled place in history. 

The final act in this carnival of horrors is an interview with Bar Ilan University professor, Mordechai Kedar.  He is one of Israel’s best known Arabic language instructors, though his views of Arabs are distinctly racist.  But he’s outdone himself in this Israeli radio interview (audio here for Hebrew speakers) in which he said:

“You have to understand the culture in which we live,” said Kedar…Terrorists like those who kidnapped the children and killed them — the only thing that deters them is if they know that their sister or their mother will be raped in the event that they are caught. What can you do, that’s the culture in which we live.”

When Hadar said, “We can’t take such steps, of course,” Kedar continued: “I’m not talking about what we should or shouldn’t do. I’m talking about the facts. The only thing that deters a suicide bomber is the knowledge that if he pulls the trigger or blows himself up, his sister will be raped. That’s all. That’s the only thing that will bring him back home, in order to preserve his sister’s honor.”

Let’s put Bar Ilan in some perspective.  It’s the same institution which offered Jewish terror-assassin, Yigal Amir his college degree.  It also offers an academic home and imprimatur to “Dr.” Gerald Steinberg, whose NGO Monitor I’ve profiled here.  In the guise of an Orthodox religious institution of higher learning, Bar Ilan caters to some of the most rabid, racist Islamophobic views in Israeli academia.

The school released a joint statement with Kedar, undoubtedly written for him, which only makes matters worse, because it insults one’s intelligence and says that what the professor clearly said, he didn’t say:

…He “did not call, and is not calling to fight terror except by legal and moral means.” It also said Kedar “wanted to illustrate that there is no means of deterring suicide bombers, and using hyperbole, he gave the rape of women as an example. In order to remove all doubt: Dr. Kedar’s words do not, God forbid, contain a recommendation to commit such despicable acts. The intention was to describe the culture of death of the terror organizations. Dr. Kedar was describing the bitter reality of the Middle East and the inability of a modern and liberal law-abiding country to fight against the terror of suicide bombers.”

In taking its audience to be fools and in trying to pull the wool over its eyes with this fraudulent statement, Bar Ilan only makes a fool of itself.  Of course, if Israel was a democracy which honored the rule of law, Kedar would be arrested by the police and charged not just with incitement, but with incitement to commit sex crimes.  This is more than just an assault against “Arabs,” as Kedar would call them, but an assault on women.  No one harboring such abhorrent, aberrant views should be permitted inside the academy.  I used the word “aberrant,” but of course the problem is that they’re not aberrant at all in Israel.  And the fact that Kedar is a respected academic figure in Israel points to the deformity at the heart of Israeli society.

Finally, you’ll find it no surprise that one of Kedar’s major academic missions is to teach future IDF, Mossad and Shabak intelligence officers to speak Arabic so they can infiltrate the Israeli Palestinian community and ferret out nationalist firebrands who must be silenced in order to maintain Jewish predominance inside the country.  Kedar is a backbone of Israel’s anti-terror apparatus.  He’s probably even more valuable to Israeli intelligence than he is to Bar Ilan as a faculty member.

In fact, an Israeli source tells me that before beginning his academic career, he was a Lt. Col. in Aman, the IDF’s intelligence corps.  The source would not say what his responsibilities were, but he deemed them “sensitive.”  No doubt part of the Arab-killing apparatus.  Perhaps a bit of rape was involved as well?  Anything for the Jewish ‘fatherland.’

One of Israel’s leading Orthodox rabbis, Dov Lior, delivered a halachic ruling that it is permitted under Jewish law to kill Palestinian civilians and to ‘destroy’ Gaza.  He added that in wartime it is permissible for a nation attacked to “punish” the enemy population [civilians].  Lior is a leading settler rabbi and a key figure in Israel’s far-right political scene.  The rabbi sent his rabbinic legal ruling to the defense minister, no doubt, in order to bolster the confidence of the ‘good Jewish boys in the IDF’ who are facing severe resistance from Hamas fighters.  Need I mention that this statement endorses not just ethnic cleansing, but genocide?  Should we ‘proud’ that the Nazis have earned a posthumous victory?  They’re turned Jews into genocidal monsters.

Further, Lior doesn’t just speak for his Orthodox followers in the extremist enclave of Hebron, he speaks for the entire nation because he’s employed and paid by the State.

H/t to Ariel Shatil.


Gaza War, Day 14: 18 IDF Dead, 430 Palestinian Dead

Even for such a bloody war as Operation Protective Edge has turned out to be, the past 24 hours have taken a particularly deadly turn.  In that period, 13 IDF soldiers have died, including seven in a single incident (Hebrew and English) in which an anti-tank rocket slammed into an armored personnel carrier known for its defective, obsolete design.  The day before, five soldiers died after being ambushed near an observation post which IDF personnel had left abandoned.  This is almost twice the number of troops as died in all of Operation Cast Lead.  The first IDF soldier has been captured as well. UPDATE: the IDF denies a soldier was captured.  It says rather that the soldier Hamas claims to have captured was among those killed.

It appears that Hamas has changed its method of defending Gaza.  During the 2009 incursion, when the IDF occupied a good portion of the enclave’s territory, resistance was spotty and the IDF had almost free reign.  But now, the Palestinian fighters have riddled the area with tunnels used both to penetrate Israeli territory and to enable defending Gaza itself.  Though I don’t know whether there is a connection, it’s interesting to note that Hezbollah used a similar strategy during the 2006 Lebanon war.  It dug underground tunnels which allowed its forces to attack IDF armor and troops concentrations from multiple directions, with the Israelis seemingly unaware where the fighters would appear.

israeli bombardment of shjaia

Israel’s massive bombardment of Gaza neighborhood of Shejaia caused 70 deaths. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

Further, Hamas has told Gazans to remain in their homes and they appear to be heeding that call in significant numbers.  Though the IDF doesn’t appear to be hindered by the civilian presence (70 Palestinians were killed last night in a single neighborhood), this has caused a drastic rise in the death toll.  This, along with the capture of the IDF soldier, will begin exerting an inevitable “drag” on the Operation.

The Palestinian death toll nears 400, with 70 alone being killed in the Shejaia neighborhood yesterday.

The most devastating attack yesterday against Israelis, was the one on the APC, an American model known as M-113.  This model is the oldest in the IDF arsenal.  It was built in the 1960s and is 50 years old.  It has a design defect which allows penetration of rockets and hasn’t been used in Gaza in a decade.  In 2004, a similar incident cost the lives of 11 soldiers.

It is precisely this mounting loss of its own soldiers which may cause Israelis to take stock of this bloody mess and step back from the brink.  Clearly, Israelis have no sense of proportion or concern when it comes to Palestinian dead.

John Kerry was interviewed yesterday on FoxNews.  Aside from the usual pro-Israel pablum, he made the mistake of telling an aide in front of a “hot” mic, which he didn’t know was on, that Operation Protective Edge had turned into a “helluva pin-point operation.”  No doubt, we’ll hear the usual apology from Kerry today or tomorrow.  But the cat’s out of the bag.  We know what the Obama administration privately thinks of this bloodbath.  Of course, a politician’s private thoughts mean nothing if he’s not willing to turn them into action or public policy.

We know that Kerry wants to get to the Middle East to exert maximum pressure on Israel to end the mess.  He’s scheduled to travel to Egypt and Israel on Monday (but not to Palestine!).  I haven’t a clue why he thinks the Egyptians can play any useful role in this matter since they’re sworn enemies of Hamas.  This is typical of the U.S. ham-handed approach to Middle East policy.  Since we have no long-term constructive policy of engagement with the Arab states, we resort to discredited military dictators who don’t even have the support of their own citizens, let alone Hamas.

My hope is that by the time Monday comes around, that even Netanyahu will be willing to step back from the quagmire into which he’s sunk.  The question will be what Hamas is willing to settle for: will it accept the same empty ceasefire offer cobbled together by Israel a few days ago, which offers Gaza nothing except the temporary cessation of the massacre, with no improvement in their everyday lives?  Or will Kerry and Israel be able to create a ceasefire that will offer real benefits to Gazans like removing the Egyptian-Israeli siege and opening borders?

It’s highly doubtful this is possible given the U.S. unwillingness or inability to recognize Hamas or engage with it in any substantive way.  Obama is simply unwilling to pay the price to the Israel Lobby which it would extract from such a move.  That means Gaza and will continue to prove an intractable obstacle to any long-term prospect for peace.  The collapse of the Kerry peace talks proved in part that there can be no deal without Hamas being included in some way.  A unity government offered such a possibility till it was sabotaged by Netanyahu’s West Bank pogrom which preceded Operation Protective Edge.


Ynet confirms that the first IDF battle deaths which occurred today resulted from a major fashla (“disastrous mistake”).  Because an IDF observation post was abandoned, Palestinian militants not only penetrated Israeli territory via a tunnel, they lay in wait for an IDF patrol to pass by.  They attacked the patrol with RPGs, killing a major and sergeant.  One of the Palestinians was killed, but the remaining eight fighters successfully retreated back to Gaza.  In separate attacks, two other IDF soldiers were killed. Bringing the total IDF death toll to five (one was killed by friendly fire).

The infiltration I mentioned above was adjacent to a Negev kibbutz and the Palestinian force could have attempted to attack that community, in which case there may’ve been even more deaths.  According to Hamas, they deliberately chose to wait six hours to attack an IDF patrol, rather than civilians.

A Palestinian rocket landed on a Bedouin residence near Dimona killing one and wounding others.  Israel largely provides bomb shelters for its Jewish citizens.  There are no shelters provided for Bedouin:

The incident in Dimona highlighted the severe lack of bomb shelters and protective cement structures in Bedouin villages across the Negev. Since many Bedouin communities are unrecognized by the government, many basic services are not provided to them. They are also not protected by Iron Dome, which registers their homes as “open areas” and allows rockets to fall there without attempting interception.

“Their homes are what’s called ‘open areas,’” one relative, Yasser al-Beit, told Ynet, “so Iron Dome doesn’t intercept the rockets. And there’s no warning siren. When you hear of impacts in open areas, sometimes it’s fallen (near) one of our homes. This time it fell on people’s home; hit everyone, a mother and children. We have no protection,” he said.

…Two Bedouin girls aged 11 and 13, were seriously injured after a rocket fell near their home on the outskirts of Beersheba.

The girls’ grandfather, Ibrahim al-Wakil said then that “All the residents of the Bedouin diaspora are in danger, especially in the unrecognized villages. They are defenseless. We’ve asked time and again that they give us protection but nothing has been done.”

Although they live in encampments for which it would be difficult to create permanent shelters, it would not be difficult for create stationary shelters near or between such encampments to which the Bedouin could retreat during attacks.  The problem is that the State refuses to recognize these communities.  They literally don’t exist in the eyes of the government.  So it refuses to offer services to them.  Similary, Israel doesn’t sound air raid sirens for missile launches landing near Bedouin communities.  Nor does it site Iron Dome to intercept rockets landing in these zones.  In other words, Israeli Bedouin are Israel’s “disappeared.”

israeli anti war protest

Israeli anti-war protest in Tel Aviv

Yesterday, an IDF soldier was killed by friendly fire from an IDF tank shell.  The IDF has refused to provide any further information on this incident.

Yossi Melman published a piece in The Forward in which he made the nonsensical claim:

Most Israelis — even many on the radical left — share the view that Israel had no choice.

At first, I though he may be referring to Meretz, which has a history of ardently supporting Israeli wars no matter the circumstance.  Usually it takes about two weeks of fighting before Meretz comes to its senses, screws up its courage, and begins posing tentative questions about the wisdom of the military adventure.  After week two or three, it comes  forward with full-throated criticism.

But not this time.  MK Zahava Gal On has forthrightly portrayed this war as a “bloody Gazan swamp (Hebrew), which will cost the lives of IDF soldiers and innocent Palestinians.”

So who, pray tell, are these mysterious “radical leftists” supporting the war on Gaza?  Use of such pejorative terms by supposed journalists exposes their own political prejudices rather than portray the actual views of those they demean.

Some real Israeli peace activists protested the war yesterday in Haifa.  The police arrested 30 of them (Israeli Palestinians naturally) for having the chutzpah to oppose the national consensus.

Another alarming development was this from a NY Times report:

Four Israeli rockets struck a building in Rafah on the same floor where a dozen foreign and Palestinian journalists were working in an office. They narrowly escaped, and Israel later issued a statement saying it was not responsible for journalists’ safety.

Though reporters are becoming ever more vulnerable in military conflicts (U.S. fire killed a foreign journalist in Baghdad several years ago), Israel attributes no value to free speech or a free press when it is deemed contrary to its interests.  It’s a miracle Israel isn’t ranked even lower than its already low ranking in international press surveys.  No democracy expresses the disdain Israel has expressed for the press.

In Pres. Obama’s press conference yesterday, he mentioned dramatically that air raid sirens sounded during his conversation with PM Netanyahu.  This was supposed to instill sympathy for Israel in the press corps.  But imagine what Obama would hear if he bothered to call Ismail Haniyeh, Gaza’s leader.  He wouldn’t hear air raid sirens.  He’d hear Israeli missiles toppling buildings and the wail of ambulances and screaming children.  He’d hear the overbearing roar of his own nation’s F-16 engines flying low over Gaza, terrifying 1.8 million civilians.  But of course Obama can’t and won’t talk to a Palestinian leader.  Because to do show would show unseemly sympathy for the bad guys in this script concocted by the Israel Lobby.

In a related development, I’ve previously covered here the skeptical views about Iron Dome of Prof. Ted Postol, Haaretz’s late military analyst, Reuven Pedatzur, and Israel Defense Prize winnner, Dr. Moti Shefer.  Shefer has bet the house in his criticism of Iron Dome saying virtually the entire system is an IDF ruse:

Israel Defense Prize laureate and aerospace engineer Dr. Moti Shefer, whose specialty is interception missiles, says Iron Dome is a bluff. It doesn’t intercept anything but rather invents virtual rockets. The explosions we hear are the sounds of Iron Dome missiles self-destructing. As of the writing of these lines, Hamas rockets have done very little damage to people and property. We see this as proof of Iron Dome’s efficacy and reliability; Shefer says the number of rockets coming in from the Gaza Strip is immeasurably smaller than what Iron Dome reports and in any case they are tinpot weapons, so 95 percent of the time we are safe anyway, irrespective of Iron Dome (and the endless “open spaces” with which we have suddenly been blessed, like some new sort of manna rained down upon us by a benevolent deity).

A word of caution is in order.   The anti-missile system Shefer proposed to the IDF was rejected in favor of Iron Dome.  So he does have an axe to grind.  But if he was the only figure criticizing it that might be significant.  Considering there are many experts doing so, his criticism bears taking notice.  Here’s another of those experts expressing his reservations.

The concluding sentence of this Haaretz report on Iron Dome, from which I quoted above, is worthy of serious consideration, and constitutes the reason I’ve paid so much attention to the issue:

It is amazing that none of the media are investigating this assertion [that Iron Dome is a fraud]. No one wants to know.


Gaza War, Day 12: 303 Palestinian Dead

death toll_180714_part1When is an invasion not an invasion? When it’s the IDF and they’re killing Palestinians.  Then it’s a defensive operation (“Protective Edge”) solely meant to protect Israeli citizens from terrorists.  The objectives of the campaign aren’t to kill Palestinians, but solely to root out ‘nests of terrorists’ and destroy the purported tunnels they dig to snatch IDF soldiers (though one hasn’t been snatched in years).  And by all means, the IDF would never expel 100,000 Palestinians from their homes in northern Gaza.  That might be collective punishment, a violataion of international law.  Instead, it seeks to ‘create a buffer,’ a demilitarized zone from which the terrorists can’t launch rockets against Israel.  No mention of where the displaced new refugees will go.  As it is Gaza is one big refugee camp, since most of its residents flocked here after the 1948 Nakba, during which they were expelled from Israel.  That means Israel has devised a mini-Nakba for them, turning them into internal refugees within Gaza.

So through a combination of hocus-pocus and smoke and mirrors, Operation Protective Edge morphs itself from a vicious assault on Gaza’s 1.8-million imprisoned civilians into a war to protect the mothers and babies of Israel.  As the song says: “It’s nice work if you can get it.”

Today, marked the first IDF fatality.  But he wasn’t killed by Hamas.  No vicious firefight with terrorists.  Just an errant shell from an IDF tank took his life: friendly fire.  This isn’t the first time this has happened either.  Friendly fire has cost the lives of Israeli soldiers in many of these mini-wars Israel fights against it’s enemies.  Four of the ten troops who died during Cast Lead were killed by friendly fire.

Now that Israel has allowed itself to get sucked into a ground invasion, how will it extricate itself?  Will it go on till the world tires of the mayhem and Israel gives in and asks for a ceasefire?  And what will make this ceasefire different from all the other previous ones which only led to the next war?

One gets the distinct impression that we’re moving into pathological behavior.  It’s going to beat its head against the wall until it stops hurting.  That makes as much sense as Israel’s current military strategy (which is no strategy at all).



Gaza War, Day 11: 246 Palestinian Dead, Ground Invasion!

four palestinian children murdered on gaza beach by idf

IDF: Suffer the Palestinian children (Tyler Hicks/NYT)

Today is the day that brings even more death and destruction than previous days.  Israel, tiring of not being able to bring Hamas to its knees with a merciless air assault and a fraudulent ceasefire offer, decided to put the screws on.  The troops go in.  The young boys eager for a kill, whose commanding officers, like those of the Givati, drilling into them primitive hatred of the Arab, will have more than their chance to put notches in their gun barrels.

246 Palestinians have been killed till today, though the count will undoubtedly rise much faster with Israeli boots on the ground and snipers around every corner just waiting to pick off the children, women and infirm men holding up white flags (as happened the last time around during Cast Lead).

Two days ago an Israeli navy artillery “sharpshooter” picked out a choice target.  Little boys playing soccer on the beach, where their father earned his living as a fisherman.  The first shell only killed one of them.  The boys, their legs not yet muscled to run fast enough, flew as fast as they could to the beachside tent where foreign reporters congregated.  The second shell, finely calibrated to hit them as they fled, struck them and killed another three.  Killing children: fine sport in the Israeli navy.

This war is an obscenity.  The international community are pathetic useless ciphers ratifying Israeli brutality.  The only difference between Condi Rice and John Kerry is that he won’t call this mass murder the “birth pangs of Middle East democracy.”  Other than that, he’s useless too.  Imagine that, going from exposing U.S. war crimes as a Winter Soldier during the Vietnam War to standing mute in the face of Israeli war crimes.

Today brought another war crime.  Israel has threatened for the past weeks to target the al-Wafa Hospital in Gaza, whose patients are terminally ill and disabled.  At least two hospitals have been struck with missiles.  Earlier, patients were murdered at a rehabilitation center for the severely disabled.  Israeli pilots have hit any target of any possible value.  Now they’re left with the ‘dregs,’ taking potshots at those too infirm to flee.  When will the outrage happen?  What will it take?  Machine-gunning patients in wheelchairs?  Or is even that not enough?

The Nation published an eyewitness account in which local Gazans noted that the IDF is even targeting graveyards: not satisfied to kill them once, they want to kill them again.



Over the past week, I joined together with Stanford Professors David Palumbo-Liu and Joel Beinin to draft the following statement opposing Israel’s war against the people of Gaza.  We circulated the statement widely among academics, writers, analysts and some cultural and artistic figures.  Among those who signed are Tariq Ramadan, Avi Shlaim, Gabriel Pieterberg, Juan Cole, Gareth Porter, Dina Khoury, Richard Falk and Guy Davidi.

The ad was published today in Haaretz’s Hebrew and English editions.  Below you’ll find the text and signers of the ad.

Originally we’d hoped to publish the ad in the NY Times or Washington Post, because it would have the greatest impact.  But the expense of ads in those publications was prohibitive.  We settled on Haaretz because we knew Israel’s political, military and intelligence officials, along with the professional elites, read it.  Haaretz ads were a considerable expense as well.  I am financing the ads along with financial support from the signers.  Now, I’d like to turn to you readers for your assistance as well.  It’s important to make such projects self-sustaining and only you can do that.

Tax deductible gifts may be made online via WePay.  Gifts may also be made via Paypal.  To avoid the accompanying fees, you may also send donations (including tax-deductible ones) directly to me via check.  Contact me for my address.

Here is the statement:

gaza ad-only haaretz english-jpg


Gaza War: Day 9, 202 Palestinian Dead

Let’s talk about the faux ceasefire.  Really a fraudulent ceasefire.  Egypt’s ceasefire with no one.  My Israeli source, who was consulted as part of the negotiations, tells me that this was not, in reality, an Egyptian proposal.  It was, in fact, an Israeli proposal presented in the guise of an Egyptian proposal.  Israel wrote the ceasefire protocol.  The Egyptians rubber-stamped it and put it out under their letterhead as if it was their own.

Jodi Rudoren typically called the ceasefire “one-sided,” meaning Israel honored it and Hamas didn’t.  But it was “one-sided” in a way she hadn’t considered.  Only one-side prepared the ceasefire and essentially presented it to itself and accepted it.  The other side wasn’t consulted.

The contents of the ceasefire proposal were a fraud as well.  They promised and delivered nothing.  They only called for a cessation of hostilities on the part of Israel and Hamas.  The same document has been signed in the past only to see Israel violate it almost as soon as the ink was dry.  There were no provisions for easing the Israeli siege.  No provision to open the border with Egypt.  Most importantly, the ceasefire didn’t address any underlying issues between the parties.  It was a guarantor for resuming hostilities at the earliest possible opportunity: these wars have come at two-year intervals over the past six years.  The next one will be in 2016, if not sooner.

The reason Israel felt compelled to do this, as Haaretz reports, was that John Kerry phoned the Egyptians and Israelis and told them he was coming to Cairo for the ceasefire talks, when essentially, there were none.  Bibi could smell a trap.  He knew this visit by Kerry was meant to embarrass Israel and maneuver it into defending its unconscionable assault on Gaza’s civilian population.  So the ceasefire was a ploy to deflect a U.S. stratagem.  As usual, Bibi is very deft on political tactics, but clueless as to a strategy.

Haaretz also makes clear that neither Hamas’ military or political wings were consulted in preparation or negotiation over the plan.  So how the Hell do you make such a proposal without including one of the parties?  Well, you don’t unless the entire exercise is a charade.

idf gaza ground invasion

Israeli forces prepare for ground invasion

Returning to Egypt, General-President Sisi comes across as the buffoon here.  Puffed up and used by Israel for its own purposes.  Apparently, Sisi thought he could take up where Mubarak left off in serving as go-between when there is a war between Israel and Hamas.  He made one fatal error: at least Mubarak paid lip service to the Palestinian cause.  He allowed a trickle of people and goods to flow across the border into Gaza.  Sisi reviles Hamas as an alleged offshoot of his hated enemy, the Brotherhood.  That makes him persona non grata with Hamas.  Why would he have dreamed he could serve as an honest broker in this instance?

The problem for Bibi is that Hamas’ rejection has put him on the spot.  He now really has to crap or get off the pot regarding a ground invasion.  It appears the IDF wants Operation Protective Edge to be essentially a theatrical production in which it osentatiously briefs the media about the hundreds of targets struck.  All this is supposed to assure the Israeli public that its national army is really doing something concrete, when it’s doing almost nothing that will deter anyone for any length of time.

The IDF does not want to invade Gaza.  It remembers the punishing reception it received from Hezbollah in 2006.  It remembers the tongue-lashing it suffered at the hands of the Goldstone Report (till its main author recanted under pressure from the pro-Israel auto da fe).  Though the IDF isn’t a very effective fighting force, its leaders understand the implications of a ground invasion.  If you thought the air war was bloody, the next stage will see rivers of blood rushing through the alleys of Gaza.

In a way, Israel’s ploy is liable to blow up in its face.  It thought it had pulled one over on Kerry.  But the rejection of the ceasefire has applied much greater pressure on Israel to act.  When Israel acts it always overdoes it: too many dead, too many injured.  Lots of photos of martyred children, bombed mosques.  The coming days promise more of the same.

They’ve hinted at what’s to come with today’s destruction of the home of Mahmoud Zahar, the former foreign minister of Hamas’ Gaza government.  He is the highest level Hamas official to be so targeted.  This isn’t the first time Zahar’s home was attacked.  In 2003, Israel tried and failed to assassinate him.  Instead he was wounded and his son was martyred.

Eventually, Israel will target not just a home, but Zahar himself (again).  It’s almost guaranteed to happen.  Such an escalation will only lead to greater bitterness and make a real ceasefire impossible.  But will it produce any desired result?  Will it deter anyone or anything?  Have the assassinations of past Hamas or Hezbollah leaders weakened the militant groups?  Have they brought them “to their senses” from an Israeli perspective?  Nothing of the sort.  As I’ve written here a number of times, one of the definitions of insanity is doing something that’s failed many times before with the expectation it will succeed if you try just one more time.  Pretty much sums up Israel’s approach to Hamas.

Former Mossad chief, Ephraim Halevy, interviewed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, said Israel must talk with, and recognize Hamas.  He said that Sunni extremist groups like ISIS were far more formidable and radical potential enemies.  The problem is that none of the extremists running Israel’s government cares what an effete “leftist” like Halevy thinks.  He represents an old era when the Mossad preferred wits and strategem, rather than solely brute force to achieve objectives.

Today, the first Israeli fatality was reported.  A man who’d collected food parcels at his West Bank settlement and trucked them to the Erez Crossing to give to the troops, came under mortar attack and was killed.