On the third day of Operation Punching Bag (aka Protective Edge), Israel has stacked up 72 Palestinian corpses like cordwood. Sixteen of them are children, ten are women, and almost none are militants (one senior Hamas leader was killed on the first day). 550 have been wounded.
Israel began amassing its forces around Gaza days before the invasion allowing the militant leaders to go into hiding in underground bunkers and tunnels (like those built by the Vietnamese during the war or the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto).
Bibi Netanyahu suggested today that an invasion was likely. Shimon Peres said that it “may happen quite soon.” Yuval Steinitz, a Netanyahu confidant, said this:
“We will have to take over Gaza temporarily, for a few weeks, to cut off the strengthening of this terror army,” Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence minister, told Israel Radio. “If you ask my humble opinion, a significant operation like this is approaching.”
This is not merely an opinion, an invasion is definite according to my Israeli source. It’s only a matter of whether it happens tomorrow or three days from now. But it will happen.
Sheera Frenkel writes that the IAF concedes it has already bombed anything of military value in Gaza. Now it’s pursuing “secondary targets,” which it defines as residential homes! Homes of what it claims are Hamas leaders. But we know that many of these homes will not be those of Hamas leaders, and even those which are will likely contain civilians who will be murdered.
This happened on the first day of the war when neighbors of a Hamas leader moved into his home when the IDF warned it would bomb it. The result was that despite knowing there were civilians inside, the IDF destroyed the home and eight family members were killed. Today, a senior military officer conceded the strike was an error, but an unavoidable one:
“There was nothing to be done, the munition was in the air and could not be diverted,” a senior air force officer said. “Although you see [the family members] running back into the house, there was no way to divert the missile,” he said.
What a load of horsecrap. How long does it take for a missile to reach its target from the moment it’s fired? 2 seconds? Three? So you mean to tell me that when the pilot fired the missile there were no civilians in sight, but that three seconds later they miraculously made their way inside it? Israel has massive aerial surveillance which selects targets and views them throughout the flight of those attacking them. A pilot too can see what he’s attacked. It’s the job of the flight controller to view the target and make out civilians. There’s no way the controller and pilot both missed seeing them. Again, a likely war crime in the making.
The IDF has the quaint idea that calling someone to warn them their home will be destroyed by a massive bomb in five minutes absolves them of any violation of war crimes conventions. This interpretation follows the Israeli penchant for twisting rules for its own benefit, like the character in Alice in Wonderland who says:
A word means precisely what I want it to mean, nothing more and nothing less.
My hope is that there will come a day of reckoning when Israel’s generals and security agents will be told the law means something entirely different than they supposed.
An Israeli friend sent me the flyer I’ve displayed here which was a patriotic broadside distributed by the IDF just as the 1956 Sinai War began. Sixty years later, the echoes of today’s carnage in Gaza still resonates:
The will to win: the first condition for victory!
Tonight our forces will break through to Gaza.
GAZA is a living part of the body of Israel that has been severed from it. A fist thrust toward the State, a base for the Egyptian murderers, a center for the fedayeen, an eternal threat to our security.
Opposite [Gaza] is Nachal Oz, Beeri, Kisufim, Nirim, a string of settlements blossoming on the border with the enemy. Our settlements sit solitary amidst threat and harassment, shelling and death. We’ve protected them on our southern border.
Residents of the Negev! Today the hour has arrived!
Fighters! Tonight we will break through and flood the outposts of the enemy, uprooting the gates of Gaza and break their bolts. As veterans of battle we will uphold the best of our fighting tradition, our military strength and iron will, to strike the enemy and win!
We will battle with him with the full measure of our military and human strength.
Strike the enemy! Return and strike again!
Until he is overthrown by the sword of our unit!
Forward to battle and victory!
–The Unit Commander
Sixty years later. What has changed? Nothing, other than the flowery archaic prose of post-State Hebrew has given way to a more idiomatic contemporary Hebrew. Today, we see the same brutalism. The same false conviction that we are marching onward to ultimate victory. The same hope only meant to be dashed when defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory after the troops go home and everything returns to status quo ante. As I’ve often said before, this is the definition of insanity. Beating your head against the wall believing that if you only did it one more time, that would make all the difference. Israel’s leaders should be in psychiatric clinics, not in the halls of power.
Whenever there is a war, the NY Times sends Steven Erlanger to augment Jody Rudoren and Isabel Kershner. Erlanger is similar in approach to Ethan Bronner, a clear supporter of Israel who sees the Palestinian story as peripheral to his beat. I’ve criticized a number of Erlanger’s more egregious articles. But today, he made a beaut of a mistake:
Only in March, Israeli forces intercepted a ship in the southern Red Sea, 1,000 miles from Israel, that contained a shipment of M-302s that the Israelis said had been intended for their militant adversaries in Gaza. Israel blamed Iran, which supports Hamas and Islamic Jihad, for the shipment. They denied the Israeli accusation.
Since Erlanger is based in Paris, he’s not up to date on Middle East developments. Otherwise he’d know that the claim those weapons were meant for Gaza was made by Israel after it intercepted the ship. However, as often happens in these circumstances, Israeli intelligence made a major error. The shipment, so found a UN panel of experts, was meant for Sudan (where it was headed) and not Gaza. Israel never acknowledged its error. It hoped the rest of the world wouldn’t notice: the standard Israeli bluff. But this means both Erlanger and the Israelis made errors!
Another random note: I’ve noted that the higher the Gaza body count, the more hasbara activity there is on social media. I imagine hasbara worker bees sitting in a conference room at the foreign ministry, keyboard warriors for Zion. They should be earning overtime. What really humors me is when the obvious ones exclaim incredulously: “Hasbara? Me? You must be kidding!”
NOTE: A week ago I published a story about a major Israeli police corruption scandal. The information was provided to me by a source, who called himself “Joe Black” (obviously enamored of Hollywood romantic treacle) I’d never worked with him before. He provided the arrest record of one of the key figures in the investigation which established the accuracy of his claim.
A few days later, Mohamed Abu Khdeir was kidnapped and brutally murdered. The source found a Facebook post published by the Shomron Community Council claiming the lead suspect was Ezra Batzri of Har Nof, Jerusalem. The source promised names of the other suspects which he never provided. He also offered Batzri’s arrest record, which he didn’t provide.
An Israeli blogger tweeted that a source had given him the names of the suspects and Ezra Batzri wasn’t one of them. The real ringleader was a fellow named Yosef Ben David. Ben David’s father, like the possibly fictitious Batzri, is a rabbi. Also, like Batzri, Ben David is a product of disaffected Mizrahi Haredi youth, and follower of La Familia, the notorious racist Beitar Jerusalem fan club. The blogger tweeted three other names of suspects: Israel Yosefian, Yakov Abuhazera and Elad Twito. I understand that three of the six suspect originally arrested have been released. I don’t know whether these individuals are still in custody or were released.
I no longer have full confidence in my source and his identification of the lead suspect. It appears more likely that the blogger is right.
As I’ve written here before, the Hasbara brigade is itching to put one over on me. This may’ve happened in this case, though I have no way to be sure. I’m writing this in the interest of transparency. When I may’ve made an error I act pre-emptively and acknowledge it.
Blue Moon says
“The IDF has the quaint idea that calling someone to warn them their home will be destroyed by a massive bomb in five minutes absolves them”
That’s more than Hamas is doing when they target Israeli civilian areas with their rockets.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Blue Moon: Gaza’s rockets haven’t killed an Israeli in years. I wish F-16s had aim that bad.
[Read the comment rules and respect them. Comments saying that I am anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, or that I hate Israel are lies and not permitted. If you post similar comments in future your comment privileges will be restricted]
Daniel Rocha says
Hamas use sugar rockets, they are simple to made at home. Their thrust and cargo capability are low. Though , because of their reach, require authorization from government for launching, at certain places in deserts. But they are just hobbyists. There are festivals which include firing such rockets in US. But,this kind of rockets are of the ones which are less sophisticated.
For some to reach as far as Jerusalem, they probably had lacked the explosive cargo, and were used just as part of the fuel. So, these were probably launched to reach the highest altitude possible, to make a parabola in rarified air. The destruction power was very low, and it just had the ability to turn on warning sirens. The trajectory is considerably easier to calculate, so it could be readily intercepted by the far more sophisticated and expensive Iron Dome rockets. But if they were let to hit, they’d just hit the flor, making a large metal noise, with no explosion.
If there is an explosion, it is something new. Probably given by Hesbollah (I don’t know by which means…).
No. That’s a common ‘misconception’.
If you read http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/hamas-qassam.htm you will see that Hamas has already used the Fajr-5 missile with a range of 75km and a 175kg explosive head. They also have fired Chinese-made 122mm rockets. The Qassam-3 packs 20kg of exclusive – hardly a ‘firework’.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Hey: It doesn’t matter how much explosive it contains if it can’t hit the broadside of a barn.
Daniel Rocha says
Nowhere I said it’s firework. I meant it is dirty simple and cheap to make, and it is one of the less lethal and psychological efficient weapon tactics that I know of. And, using more explosives in a longer range rocket does not really make much sense since it makes the probability of hitting a palestinian target in the west bank more likely.
According to the link you gave, it seems none of these more powerful rockets never hit anything. And the conclusion that it was a Fajr5 is, right now, just speculation or mere IDF claims.
@RS – and you don’t see the problem with shooting those towards population centers, hoping it just hits someone. Why don’t you go blog from Sderot then?
@daniel rocha – it is less lethal up to the point it hits and kills someone. And the population is clearly under psychological stress.
The conclusion it was a Fajr 5 comes from no other than the commander of the IGRC, Mohammad Ali Jafari, who declared in the Guardian on Nov 21,2012, that Iran enabled Hamas with the Fajr 5, and Hamas claim that it did fire the Fajr at Israel.
Daniel Rocha says
Anything is safe until it kills. Anything kills. Besides, psyc washing is even more unexcusable than pink washing. Imagine the stress Palestinians suffer to the point of insanity! You have to not look further reasons to find why a few youngsters are willing to explode themselves.
Mind to give the link for the claim by Hamas about the rocket?
Daniel Rocha says
If I lived in Sderot, I swear whenever the sirens, I swear I’d start a barbecue, at least to me, in front of my house. From the statistics, it’s much more likely than being harmed there, during this time, than anytime, anywhere in my city, Rio de Janeiro, or in any big Latin American city.
Probably, it’s more likely, much more, to die driving there.
Hard to imagine the tough Jews nervous about these rockets. But maybe it’s the sirens that disturb them. One way or another, their extreme anxiety gets alleviated by terminating the lives of hundreds of gentiles, including 13 children already. That seems to do the trick. Israel might just as well swoop in on helicopters (donated by US taxpayers) pick up say one hundred Pals and sacrifice them one by one on an altar of the State as a god. This is transparently the case: Human sacrifice to a false idol.
Daniel Rocha says
I imagined this to be the case: Iran provided the technology, that is, not only the design of the rocket, but the specifications that gives pressure in various parts of it, given different fuels. This is very important. It is very likely that Hamas uses a modified version, which keeps only the most critical parts parts to functioning with the low performance fuel they use in the Qassam.
There is quite simply no need. But, I do love when the true believers get into the “most moral army” mood. The much-touted army hasn’t fought another army in many decades. I’ve seen these moral but tough guys corner a five year old and arrest him.
Did Uri Breitman delete his tweet?
Richard Silverstein says
From his website: Since 1995, I served in the Army Radio. A professional hasbarist? I had googled the four names but found no link to be alarmed. Part of disinformation by IDF or Office of the PM.
○ Uri Breitman’s Manifesto – Israeli Army Radio “Galatz”
Clearly a decoy, so the name of Batzri could still be correct.
Funny, Israel doesn’t target civilians but kills scores of them. Hamas targets civilians and kills none. I would say I go by the result. To even the score, Hamas would have to kill 80 Israeli civilians or if adjusted to population size, 400 civilians.
That is one of the most moronic comments I’ve seen in this site, and that’s saying something.
‘Even the score’? What’s this, the world cup?
Israel has less casualties since it invests billions in civil defense.
No, I just see outrage only when Jewish blood is spilled, never when Palestinian blood is spilled so I have to explain to ethnocentric people like yourself what it would feel like if things were turned around. Now try to imagine the world outrage if 80 Israelis were killed! But when they are poor and defenseless, their blood is worthless.
Also, you seem to imply that having civil defense compared to a population of refugees locked in a ghetto, makes your killing somewhat more acceptable?
If you don’t see the outrage, time to step out of your echo chamber.
If Hamas focused more on building Gaza than on destroying Israel we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But you keep your indignation for those defending themselves and ignore the root cause.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Hey: More horseshit from the hasbara gallery. How is Hamas supposed to “build” Gaza when Israel & Egypt have it under siege? What is it supposed to use? Air? Sand?
If Israel focused more on building Israel and less on destroying Palestine, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Usually I try to be very conservative about moderating or banning commenters. But I’m afraid I may have to add a comment rule about not publishing hasbara bullshit. It would go something like this: if you try to publish anything that defies reason and insults our intelligence, you may lose your comment privileges.
○ Israel Has a New Weapon Against Hamas: International Indifference
The bombing, death and injured is devastating. I demonstrated against Israel’s last offensive against Gaza. Again, Israel is ruthlessly killing Gaza civilians, men women and children. Netanyahu has more blood on his hands!
July 10, 2014 – All of Gaza burns: Gaza’s Ark as well
During an attack on the port of Gaza, the area came under fire from the Israeli Occupation forces. At about 2:00 am local time Gaza’s Ark caught fire. The sustained Israeli assault prevented the civil defense fire brigade from extinguishing the blaze until approximately 3:30 am. When daylight comes to Gaza it may be possible to better evaluate the nature of the damage to the Ark and to nearby fishing boats.
In the context of so many innocent civilian Palestinian deaths, the destruction of homes, hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure, the material damage to our project pales to insignificance. We are all thankful there was no loss of life in this particular attack, and we mourn with you all the senseless destruction and killings of Palestinians by the ongoing Israeli attacks.
Together with the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, Gaza’s Ark campaign will not give up. Together with our Palestinian partners we will continue to challenge the blockade and press for freedom for all Palestinians.
Petitions for a truce/ceasefire:
Jewish Voice for peace (JVP)
Richard, or anyone, please leave locations/links to current/upcoming protests in the US and Canada. Thank you.
Mary Hughes Thompson says
More events added as they are announced…
Someone left a link to this article, which I went to and posting below, segment. Thank you, whoever posted it!!
Thank you Mary for the above link, protests around the world. I was able to find one in my town tomorrow – I searched online and was unable to locate anything, till I saw this link.
And, thank you Richard, for your dedication, perseverance and all your invaluable work and time clarifying what is happening.
Diskin: Delusional government brought us to this security deterioration” – ynet
“Former Shin Bet chief criticizes Israeli leadership that is under the ‘illusion that the Palestinians will just accept all that we are doing in the West Bank and not respond.’ ”
“”The escalation of violence in the territories, Jerusalem and the triangle (of Arab towns in central Israel) are the direct result of the policies of the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin wrote late Friday in a harshly critical Facebook post.”