.חשיפה: צה”ל שיקר לתושבי הדרום לפני פרסום גילוי המנהרה, והסתיר את תפקידו של עריק החמאס בגילויה
Yesterday, I broke a gag by the Israeli military censor against reporting the discovery of a tunnel from Gaza entering Israeli territory. Today, the censor lifted the gag and the media are now permitted to report this. However, the media may not report some new information I’ve learned, which indicate a major level of obfuscation and outright lies concerning key aspects of the story.
Haaretz and other outlets, for example, report the IDF’s claim that they uncovered the tunnel through major new technological advances which enable them to detect Hamas operations they couldn’t detect earlier. This is largely untrue. Of course, the army does use such technological means. But in this case, the tunnel was discovered through one of the oldest tricks in the book of spycraft: a senior Hamas operative who defected. Israeli intelligence analyst, Avi Melamed, filed a similar report two days ago alleging the defection of a major figure in the “Hamas Tunnel Authority.”
It seems likely that the claim of technological innovation discovering the tunnel is actually a smokescreen to cover the tracks of the defector who, presumably, is no longer in Gaza.
It’s important to note that Israeli intelligence officials would like nothing more than to be able to report it had penetrated Hamas’ tunneling operation. It would be a major blow to morale. So it’s important to treat this claim with a few grains of salt. But until I hear otherwise, it seems a credible claim.
In another bit of dissembling, the IDF lied to the two Israeli settlements closest to Gaza, Kerem Shalom and Sufa, telling them that explosions they heard were from anti-terrorist activity in Sinai and that Israeli helicopters they saw overhead were engaged in training exercises. In effect, they were deflecting the public’s attention from the truth: the explosions were IDF sappers blowing up the tunnels and the helicopters were part of the anti-tunnel efforts.
There is another critical IDF admission in the reporting of this story: both the army and the defense minister have conceded for the first time that Hamas’ tunneling operations have both offensive and defensive missions. You wouldn’t know this from listening to Bibi Netanyahu or Israel Lobby mandarins like Dennis Ross. They robotically repeat the mantra that Hamas’ tunnels are designed to kill Israelis. This is not true-or rather it is largely untrue. The vast majority of Hamas tunnels are designed for fighters to protect Gaza from Israeli attack. There are some tunnels that are offensive in nature. They are designed to permit an attack on Israeli military forces inside Israeli territory (but not used against civilian targets). They are meant to be used in the event that Israel attacks Gaza (which it most certainly will). But even those forces attacked inside Israel are engaged in activities against Gaza.
What we have here is a failure of the military echelon to communicate with the political echelon. Or more likely, it indicates the Israeli military understands Hamas’ military capabilities and mission far better than Israeli (or American) leaders. It wouldn’t be the first time. But the next time Hillary pulls this meme out of her bag of pro-Israel hasbara talking points remember that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
You won’t find the above information in any Israeli newspaper or website. Nor will you find it in any foreign media site. It is original reporting exclusive to readers of Tikun Olam. Further, if you want to tell the Israeli censor–who threatened to get even with me for this reporting–to put it where the sun don’t shine, please contribute either through Paypal or Network for Good (tax-deductible). Click on the respective widgets in the sidebar.
Last week, the Israel correspondent of France’s prestigious Le Nouvel Observateur, published an article (pdf in French) about the Israeli military censorship regime. He interviewed me for the article. I thank Maya Papineau for her translation of this excerpt from the article:
Richard Silverstein is one of the privileged recipients of these leaks. This American Jew, who is…critical of Israeli politics, has specialized in publishing details of material censored by the Jewish State on his website Tikun Olam. His source?
“Journalists, of course, but also members of various security services who want to circumvent the burdensome restrictions imposed on them,” he says.
Simply mentioning his name in an article might precipitate a prohibition against publication. His case illustrates military censorship has lost the war in the digital era. Faced with social media and the instantaneous transmission of information, the system, designed to function on the basis of a “gentleman’s agreement” with a few established publishers, has reached its limits.
“Journalists who write on these subjects are constantly running into censorship. There is a dialogue, a negotiation on what is publishable or not. It’s a process of give and take confirms Oren Persico, who writes for 7th Eye, a site specialize in the analysis of Israeli media.
“But how can you censor a blogger who tweets from another country? You can’t.” They are powerless in this situation.
I read that Hamas claimed that it was an old tunnel that was used in the previous war.
In any case I find it neither surprising nor particularly disturbing that Hamas is trying to build tunnels. It’s not happy news for the border settlements or army bases nearby. But Israeli leaders expression of indignation or outrage in misplaced– why is it so alarming or surprising that Hamas would continue to try to improve its military capabilities?
Undoubtedly Bennett, Leiberman and others will try to get maximum mileage of this to promote their own political agendas. I hope it’s not used as an excuse for a new war.
“It’s not happy news for the border settlements” – the fact you them settlements, is exactly the problem in this conflict and why Israel cannot negotiate with the Palestinians.
They are part of Israel which is recognized by most countries and the UN but Hamas will not settle for anything less than everything between Jordan and the Mediterranean. Anyone who says differently is either a lair or a fool.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Israel: These communities are settlements. There would be no one living in them were it not for the fact that Israel wishes to make a statement about Judaizing the Negev. Therefore it plops people in places they wouldn’t ordinarily choose to live, gives them rich subsidies & cheap housing. So they move there.
When you agree to return to 67 borders & recognize Jerusalem as capital of 2 states, then I’ll recognize them as legitimate Israeli communities. Let me know when you do. Till you recgonize Palestinian rights I see no reason anyone should recognize your alleged rights.
@Israel: Whoa, slow down, cowboy.
I used the term ‘settlements’ as a loose translation of “yishuvim”. I was not implying that they are illegal or illegitimate. But you are correct that in these circles people use the term in a derogatory fashion referring to illegal settlements in territories occupied since 1967. And Hamas considers all of Israel as one big illegal settlement.
The point of my post is that Hamas considers itself as an enemy of Israel and therefore when it does something to improve its military capabilities, this should be viewed not as terrorism or with surprise, just as if Syria or Iran would do the same.
Yehuda – Well, Richard seems to not recognize them as legitimate. Apparently, Israel has limitations on what it can or cannot do with land under it’s sovereignty. Typical!
Richard Silverstein says
@ Israel: No, my problem is with you & Israel refusing to recognize Palestine. When you do, let me know. Till then I see no reason why any Palestinian, or anyone for that matter, should recognize Israeli sovereignty. But as soon as Israel does recognize Syrian sovereignty over Golan, Lebanese sovereignty over Shebaa Farms & Palestinian sovereignty, then Israel should expect the same recognition from the world & Arab states. This indeed is promised in the Saudi peace initiative, which Israel has rejected or ignored.
Of course, if Israel and Palestine combine into a single state, that would also satisfy the issue of mutual recognition of sovereignty.
So your claim I don’t recognize Israeli sovereignty period, is wrong. It is a conditional statement & has a very specific context. If you omit the context then you are distorting my views & that is a definite No-No.
So… to sun it up – YOU CURRENTLY DO NOT RECOGNIZE ISRAELI SOVEREIGNTY.
Richard Silverstein says
Israel: No moron. You can’t read. Nor do you have the right to “sum up” my views. But do let me know when you agree to recognize Palestinian sovereignty. Then we can talk about what I recognize or don’t recognize. And if I find you lie or misconstrue my full views, and remove them from the proper context, I’ll ban your ass in a NY minute. You’re about a heartbeat away from being moderated. No further comments from you in this thread. Done here.
You occupy and hold people under siege you should expect tunnels of all kinds – it is the most logical consequence.
You don’t like it, end the occupation instead of whining.
“There are some tunnels that are offensive in nature. They are designed to permit an attack on Israeli military forces inside Israeli territory (but not used against civilian targets). ”
Richard , that is just ridiculous . If you think for second that there is some moral distinction going on by hamas to not attack civilian targets, then youve reaally jumped the shark.
Qassam rockets? Indiscriminate civilian targeting .
Stabbing attacks? Indiscriminate random civilianS
Bus bomb attacks? Indiscriminate random civilians
Yet somehow you believe that these tunnels are only used to attack soldiers , and they wouldn’t massacre an entire kibbutz if they had the chance
That’s just being naive, or purposefully deceitful
Richard Silverstein says
@ MOshe: Israel kills far more Palestinian civilians than Hamas kills Israeli civilians (SIX TIMES as many). But when Hamas builds tunnels into Israel it does not attack civilians. Period.
You have no proof that Hamas was responsible for the recent bus bomb attack. And Hamas has nothing whatsover to do with stabbling attacks. Those are committed by individual Palestinians having no affiliation with any Palestinian militant groups.
Comments here must be factual. Not based solely on your opinions. So if you wish to make claims in your comments they must be supported by credible sources or be factual. NOthing you wrote above is factual. Don’t do that again. And read the comment rules carefully.
You have got be kidding me. I don’t even know why I bother comment.
Nothing anybody says will help you see how bias you are. I don’t think you even believe what you write
Richard Silverstein says
THis is about the 10th time I’ve read the exact same comment from others. If you don’t know why you bother, we certainly don’t either. For answers to these questions you need to consult your spiritual or political hasbara advisor.