Friday, January 07, 2011

7-Jan-11: Defeating terror: they have their ways, we have ours

Two dimensions of the world's struggle with the terrorists in today's news. And a reminder of the side to which the "moderate" PA regime under Mahmoud Abbas belongs in the war.

Story #1

PA Releases Prisoners Involved in Terror Attacks on Israelis
Khaled Abu Toameh - Jerusalem Post 6th January 2011 (19:48 Israel time): PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday ordered the release of six Hamas detainees who were on a hunger strike in a PA prison in Hebron. Israel Radio reported that one of the prisoners, Waed al-Bitar, was involved in a terror attack near Kiryat Arba in which 4 Israelis were killed, and another prisoner was involved in a Dimona area terror attack. More
Story #2

IDF Re-arrests Hamas Members Freed by PA
Haaretz Service, Reuters and DPA - 7th January 2011 (08:18 Israel time): The IDF raided Hebron Friday to re-arrest six Hamas members that the Palestinian Authority had released the day before. The PA had taken the six into custody in September after four Israelis were killed and two injured in two separate shooting attacks in the West Bank. Hamas' military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, took responsibility for both shootings, one of which occurred on the eve of the start of direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in Washington. The six Hamas members, all Hebron residents, were first held in a PA prison in Bethlehem, south of Hebron, but went on hunger strike, demanding to be moved to Hebron so that their families could visit them. The PA moved only five to Hebron after about 40 days of the hunger strike and following coordination with Israel. The sixth remained in Bethlehem. PA officials said Thursday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered their release after direct appeal from the emir of Qatar.
Two reports separated by half a day - and a difference of 180 degrees in attitude.

In case you have forgotten, the convicted, freed and now re-incarcerated murderer, Waed al-Bitar, named in the Jerusalem Post article, is one of the Hamas thugs who gunned down four unarmed Israeli civilians, two of them women, in September 2010. We reported it ("1-Sep-10: Real people, real terror") at the time.

Our September 2010 report of the murders executed by the thugs released this week,
and then recaptured by Israeli forces
Here's a reminder of what we said four months ago, in the wake of these especially cold-blooded killings:
"For those of us who can still summon up a sense of outrage after so much terror, so much hatred, so much hypocrisy, there's the matter of the so-called moderate Palestinian Arabs and their response. In today's New York Times, the Palestinian Authority's prime minister, Salam Fayyad, expresses his condemnation of the murders. These were offenses against the noble Islamic religion. No, sorry, that's not what he said. The perpetrators betrayed the noble and moral aspirations of the Palestinian people. No, sorry, that's not what he said either. Acts of terrorism and jihadist murder like these undermine the Arab right to a two-state solution. No, sorry again, that's not what he said. What Salam Fayyad, a man who knows his people very well, said is:  “We condemn this operation, which contradicts Palestinian interests and the efforts of the Palestinian leadership to garner international support for the national rights of our people.”  As so often in the past, the "condemnation" (which is really not condemnation but tactical criticism) is entirely focused on the effect it might have on other people's support. Where you stand on terror, terrorism and terrorists says everything about your morality, decency and values. The Palestinian Arab position, in its moderate and other forms, is out there for all to see."
Small wonder the PA had so few qualms about freeing the Jew-killers barely four months later.

We don't know where the organs of the European Union stand on the morality of the murders, the release of the killers, or their recapture and reimprisonment. We do know that at about the same time Abbas, president of one of the two Palestinian Arab regimes, was signing the order yesterday for the release of the terrorists from a PA jail to appease the leaders of the other Palestinian Arab regime, he was spending happy-face time with the EU's foreign minister, Catherine Ashton.

The image of arch-terrorist Arafat beaming down at the two of them seems quite apt in the circumstances.

7-Jan-11: UK authorities say there is no imminent terrorist threat. On the other hand...

Reports in the past few hours (Hindustan Times and Associated Press) quote an unnamed security source in London saying there is no imminent terrorist threat, and the overall terrorist threat level has not changed.

With that laconic introduction, the reports say:
  • There is British activity from extremist cells that cause concern
  • There has been either "an adjustment in policing levels" or "Police increase presence in London", depending on the specific publication 
  • Police have been freshly deployed at transport hubs in London in the past 24 hours 
  • Intelligence intercepts are unclear as to whether the terrorists are planning Mumbai-style shootings, or suicide bombing attacks, or both.
  • Transport police were told to cancel days off Friday (today), according to Sky News on Thursday
  • There is a heavy police presence near Luton and Heathrow airports and members of the emergency services were briefed very recently about how to respond to a Mumbai-style attack on London (Sky News)
  • British police have set the level of the threat at "severe". This is the second highest level, meaning an attack is highly likely
They have been on high alert since September 2010 when intelligence agencies said they were aware of pending attacks in France, Germany and the UK. The plans were at an advanced stage. Since then, 10 Moslems, all of them with Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds, were arrested in the UK and charged with plotting pre-Xmas terror attacks. On 11-Dec-11, a jihadist who had been living in the UK for years blew himself up in Stockholm while heading towards the city's central train station. And in Denmark a week ago, five men were arrested on similar charges, with a cache of weapons including a submachine gun, silencer and ammunition in their possession.

Google the term "no terror threat" and you are likely to get hundreds of thousands of hits. That statistic reflects what people used to call whistling past the graveyard (trying to stay cheerful in a dire situation). So yes, there is no threat this afternoon. And yes, jihadism is alive, well and thriving. But no, we cannot afford to lower our guard if we want to keep our families and societies safe.

Journalists and editors publishing those headlines about no imminent threat does not mean they know more about this vexed subject than the rest of us. In fact there's a strong case that, with the agenda-driven political mindsets of some of them, they know less. We owe it to ourselves to prepare accordingly.

7-Jan-11: If these terror attacks go unreported, did they happen?

AP's contribution yesterday
We know from experience that it is simply not possible to understand terrorism or the fight to defeat terrorism without knowing what is being done in the name of terrorism. So drawing on Israel Defence Force news sources here is a summary of what this past week delivered.
  • Saturday 1-Jan-11: A single Qassam rocket fired into Israel from Gaza crashed into open land within the Sha’ar Hanegev region of southern Israel. Some 6,500 people live in the vicinity. Fortunately no one on the Israeli side was hurt.
  • Sunday 2-Jan-11: Another Gazan rocket was fired into Israel, landing in the Eshkol region of southern Israel where some 10,000 people live. None of them was injured, thankfully, but that was not the intention of the jihadists.
  • Tuesday 4-Jan-11: Another Qassam rocket from Gaza was fired into Israel [we reported it] and crashed into an undisclosed site within the Hof Ashkelon region, home to to 13,000 residents, causing damage to agricultural buildings (greenhouses are a big piece of Israel's taming of the desert lands). Fortunately no injuries to life or limb, at least on the Israeli side.
  • Wednesday 5-Jan-11, seven mortar shells [we reported when the number was only two] were fired into southern Israel's Eshkol region. Despite the multiple attempts, the terrorists failed to cause any loss of life.
  • Thursday 6-Jan-11, another rocket fired from Gaza, this time landing in the Sedot Negev region in the south. 8,000 residents live there. Not one of them was hurt, thank heavens.
Last night, Thursday, the IDF struck back at two terror-related sites. Israeli Air Force (IAF) planes hit what it called a terrorist activity center in the northern Gaza Strip, and also a weapons manufacturing facility in the central Gaza Strip, both operated by Hamas, the dominant power in the area. Palestinian Arab sources confirm this and say no humans were hurt.

During 2010, some 235 rockets and missiles (including Grads, Qassams and mortar shells) were fired into Israel by the terrorists of Gaza. The total for 2011, meaning one week, so far, is eleven. Not a single one of them was aimed at a military or strategic target. (This is absolutely not surprising, unless you fail to understand what the terrorists want.)

How may of them were mentioned in any of the news sources that reach your community?

Not knowing what the terrorists do makes it impossible to understand the actions of their victims - Israel, for instance - in taking steps to keep them at bay. The mainstream news media could play a constructive role in this life-and-death interaction; generally they do not. The AP photo above (count the cameras) gives us a taste  of the kind of material many editors prefer.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

5-Jan-11: We're not hearing about these incoming rockets - but they keep coming

Of close-to-zero interest to the many journalists plying their trade in this over-reported country, two additional rocket firings occurred this morning (Wednesday) along lines familiar to those of us deeply worried about the steady escalation emanating from the terrorists of Gaza.

As reported by Arutz 7, two explosive shells fired today from the vipers' nest called the Gaza Strip crashed into open fields in the Eshkol Regional Council area. Fortunately, there was no injury to human life and no damage was reported. But this (as we try to point out at every opportunity) is not the intention of the jihadists. It's just the way it works out when you fire, as they do, in the general direction of the other side of the fence without caring one iota for where it lands or whom it hits. Any target, in the eyes of the Islamicist barbarians, is a legitimate target.

There are no caught-in-the-crossfire victims for them, and there never were. If they can hit or hurt someone or something, the ends fully justify the means. Thankfully their technical skills are at a primitive level, like their morality and ethics. So they generally miss. But not always.

Or their rockets and grenades crash on their side of the fence and damage or injure Gazan people or Gazan property which happens frequently but goes largely unreported and unremarked. Virtually no one on the Gazan side - other than the immediate victims - cares. Rocket firing into Israel, beyond the chance that it might deliver Israeli pain, is largely about baiting the Israeli side so that the inevitable civilian injuries and damage that follow from Israeli actions can get into the headlines and the seven o'clock news.

The day is not yet over.

5-Jan-11: Incoming rockets again: zero impact on reporters (as usual); terrifying to the innocent victims

Ashkelon's southern fringe

Qassam rockets were fired into Israel yet again yesterday (Tuesday). The source, as usual: the terrorist gangs of the Hamas-controlled Gazan jihad regime. The target: Any place in Israel where there is a chance of damaging Israeli lives or property. But in fact (as happens so frequently) the rockets (according to Ynet) struck somewhere undisclosed within the administrative region called Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. Fortunately these latest haphazard attempts of the terrorists produced no injuries to people. But there is damage to several greenhouses. The area, entirely desert until Israeli energy and initiative turned it into Israel's very productive vegetable garden in the fifties, is home to numerous agricultural communities. A Haaretz report says one of Tuesday's rockets hit Ashkelon's southern fringe.

If you are looking for conventional media coverage of these attacks, good luck. In normal circumstances rocket attacks like yesterday's would properly be regarded as acts of war if Israel's relations were with a normal sovereign state. But given that we have a border with a dysfunctional, Islamicist puppet client statelet that takes its inspiration and direction from the Mullahs of Teheran, these are instead considered terrorist attacks. And since they exacted no lives, they go unreported.

Not so the Israeli response. Today's syndicated Agence France Press report is headlined "Israeli warplanes hit Gaza: Palestinians".  And Xinhua starts its report thus: "Israeli airplanes attack two targets in Gaza".
Ynet's version: The Air Force attacked two targets in the Gaza Strip Tuesday in response to the firing of Qassam rockets at Israel earlier in the day. The Palestinians did not report any injuries. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said that in a joint operation with the Shin Bet forces attacked a smuggling tunnel and a terrorist center in the Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinians, the site served as a training base for Hamas's military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam. 
Reality check for those of us more-than-fed-up with the selective reportage of news media located far from where the terrorist missiles fall: during 2010, more than 230 rockets and mortar shells were fired into Israel by the Gazans. We are currently (January) in what Israeli observers are calling "an escalation in the area". 

Not an escalation of reporting, of course but of life-threatening violent actions by the hatred-driven religious fanatic barbarians on our southern border.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

4-Jan-10: Jerusalem Arabs planned showcase massacre

Jerusalem's Teddy Kollek Stadium
Ignoring the provocative headline ("Israel accuses Palestinian staff at UK consulate in rocket plot inquiry"), the Guardian - along with the entire Israeli press - carries a story today with disturbing implications for Jerusalemites like us.

Four Jerusalem men, all evidently connected with the Hamas jihadists who run the Gaza Strip, were tracked for months by Israeli police while they prepared to execute a rocket attack on this city's main sports arena, the Teddy Kollek Stadium. The announcement of the arrests came from the Shin Bet, Israel's special security service, after a news blackout of some weeks. It included the rather chilling assertion that the accused terrorists systematically checked "how best to launch a projectile when the stadium was crowded with people during a game". The Guardian rather laconically calls it "an alleged plot to fire a rocket at a local football stadium", but it would be more accurate to say this was an attempt to carry out a showcase massacre of innocent non-combatants.

All four live on the east side of our city. Two of the Hamas activists are Mussa Hamada and Bassem Omari. Omari holds Israeli citizenship, and is believed to be behind plans to carry out a separate attack, "possibly a kidnapping", against Israeli soldiers. The remaining two, Mohammed Hamadeh and Bilal Bakhatan, happen to work for Britain's Jerusalem consulate in maintenance roles, and are charged with helping to procure the weapons. It's presumably the British connection that propels this report into the British media.

Reading the Guardian's report, in particular, with its slightly sneering tone and gratuitous references to inflated Palestinian  numbers of casualties in the 2008 flighting in Gaza, you could be struck by how differently this might have been reported. When a plot by Islamicists in Melbourne to blow up the Melbourne Cricket Ground during the playing of the 2005 AFL Grand Final (see this report) was reported in Australia, the media and the public understood only too well how dangerous and despicable the intended terrorism was, and the serious tone of the reports reflected this. We guess it all depends on how much you feel yourself to be in the cross-hairs of the terrorists' weapons.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

1-Jan-11: The ordinariness of day-in, day-out terror

The Israel Security Agency published figures Thursday reporting on terror attacks against Israel during 2010. 798 attacks defined as acts of terror were reported in the year just ended. This amounts to more than two acts of terror every day of the year. The report counts 9 people, unarmed and innocent victims, murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists.

Reminding us that terror happens not in a vacuum but because there are terrorists, the Hamas regime in Gaza issued its own press release yesterday boldly, courageously claiming credit for seven of those Israeli deaths (see this Palestinian news agency report). Their self-congratulation, as far as we can see, has gone entirely unreported.

No unusually dramatic acts of terror happened this week - just more of the ongoing too-familiar toll of bombings, shootings and the calculated sowing of fear. These events did not rate highly enough on the scale of significance or newsworthiness to be reported where you live or even where we do. But for the victims directly impacted by them, this week's acts of terror were a private nightmare. Week after week, year after year, for as long as the astonishing revival of the Jewish homeland in the last decades of the nineteenth century has been underway, the steady drumbeat of terror has been the background to the attempts by people of goodwill to achieve co-existence and peaceful relations.

Among this past week's attacks:
  • Today (Saturday) two female soldiers came under attack by a knife-wielding Palestinian Arab man near their base in the Gush Etzion community zone. Soldiers searched the area, found a Palestinian Arab man in possession of a knife and arrested him. He admitted having intended to cause harm to Israelis. (Source)
  • Friday, a Jewish shepherd tending his flock in the Maaleh Shomron area of Samaria came under fire from  Palestinian Arab shooters. Soldiers were called in but the attackers got away. (Source)
  • Thursday evening, a group of Palestinian Arab men attacked a soldier at the entrance to Kiryat Arba. He suffered injuries to the head in the attack. The assailants are under arrest. (Source)
  • Also on Thursday, yet another in a long series of Palestinian Arab rockets was fired into Israel (source - Arab report, describing the terrorists as "Gaza resistance fighters") from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip overnight, exploding around midnight in the Negev desert. 
Meanwhile we are reminded that Islamicist hatred, while relentlessly directed at Jews and Israelis at every opportunity, has additional targets as well. In Egypt last night, a thousand Coptic Christians leaving a New Year's Eve mass in Alexandria came under terrorist attack, leaving 21 dead and more than 80 injured (source). The first reports were that this was a car bombing but it appears now, 24 hours later, that the bomb was delivered by a former human being and not by a vehicle. The Egyptian Interior Ministry is now saying the Alexandria bomb, like the Hamas bomb that took our daughter's life, was filled with nuts and bearings so as to kill and main as many as possible. 

While the Egyptian authorities have claimed last night's terrorism was an attack on Egyptian society from outside, they have some uncomfortable history to deal with that suggests this terror came from within and not so much from outside Egypt. A year ago, seven Egyptians were shot dead by Moslem gunmen as they left a pre-Xmas service at another Coptic church, this one in the town of Naga Hammadi, 600 km south of Cairo. Then in April 2010, in the coastal city of Marsa Matrouh, an enraged mob of some 3,000 Muslims gathered after Friday prayers, exhorted by the local mosque's imam to "cleanse the city of its infidel Christians" (source). The subsequent rampage produced a heavy toll: 18 homes, 23 shops and 16 cars completely destroyed, and 400 Copts forced to barricade themselves in their church for 10 hours until the frenzy passed.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the Egyptian government cynically insists it has no sectarian problem. Those who draw international attention to the plight of Egypt's Christians are, according to the government of Egypt, "traitors". It adds that the United States and other Western democracies, despite repeated Coptic appeals, have done little beyond calling upon the Egyptian regime to foster greater tolerance. 

Small wonder the terror continues there, here and elsewhere. Terror will stop only when governments decide it must be stopped, and this is never going to be easy to do.