Thursday, April 07, 2011

7-Apr-11: Terror rocket intercepted

Ynet tonight says residents in Ashkelon reported Thursday seeing Israel's new Iron Dome defense system intercept a Grad rocket fired towards the southern city from the Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses told Ynet they saw the rocket explode in midair and realized that the system had intercepted its first rocketHaaretz says "Iron Dome's success Thursday marks the first time in history a short-range rocket was ever intercepted. According to reports from the area, the interception could be seen in Israeli towns near northern Gaza. The second Iron Dome battery was positioned in the area of Ashkelon over the weekend, in addition to a battery already placed north of Be'er Sheva."

7-Apr-11: More on this afternoon's rocket attacks on southern Israel

An hour ago, we reported on a direct hit taken by a bus in the south of Israel and the critical injuries suffered by a teenage boy. We now know this was a clearly-marked bright yellow  school bus. BBC says the bus had just finished unloading most of its children, leaving at least some of us to imagine what this jihadist attack might have reaped had more children had been on the bus when the anti-tank shell struck.

AFP says an additional fifteen rockets or mortars or anti-tank shells have been fired indiscriminately into Israel by the thugs of Gaza in the past couple of hours. Anything they hit is a win, and just firing is a victory because sowing fear is what makes them terrorists.

"None of you would give up on the security of your country, and Israel will also defend itself," Shimon Peres, Israel's president, told UN Security Council ambassadors during a visit to New York this afternoon, according to the Jerusalem Post.

To which we would add: No one, anywhere, would willingly put up with having a next-door neighbour armed to the teeth, and ready to fire his rockets in every direction, without striking back hard.

7-Apr-11: Rocket strikes Israeli school bus, critically injuring boy

Ynet is reporting that a 16-year boy was critically injured this afternoon (Thursday) after a bus driving in the Sha'ar Hanegev region was hit by a 'smart' (guided) anti-tank missile rocket fired from the Gaza Strip. Haaretz says the driver of the bus was also hurt. (Reuters reports that it was a mortar - they are wrong.) The Jerusalem Post says the boy and the driver were the only people on board in the attack which came in the vicinity of Kibbutz Saad. Hanania Reich, a paramedic who arrived on the scene, recounts
We were first to arrive together with soldiers. On the road lay a young victim, unconscious and bleeding. We began to resuscitate him and eventually MDA came and evacuated him by helicopter.
Immediately after the attack on the bus, additional mortars were fired into the area from the same Gazan sources and residents have been instructed to stay inside buildings. This attack comes some hours after the IAF scored direct hits on three smuggling tunnels in southern Gaza and one in the northern area of the Strip early this morning in response to Gazan-Palestinian-Arab anti-tank missiles fired into Israel.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

2-Apr-11: Quotes of the week: Judge Goldstone - too little and much too late

On Friday, Judge Richard Goldstone, principal author of a UN report bearing his name, published an extraordinary confessional in the pages of the Washington Post. It starts with these words:
"We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council..."
The editor of the Jerusalem Post, David Horovitz, writing with his customary eloquence, pays close attention to Goldstone's words and places them into a thoroughly deserved moral context:
"Yom Kippur has evidently come early this year for Richard Goldstone.
He couldn’t quite bring himself, in his Friday article “Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and War Crimes,” to write, “I have sinned, forgive me.”  But the astounding piece in the Washington Post by the Jewish justice, who presided over the Goldstone Report that accused Israel of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, represents nothing less than an apology to Israel.
“If I had known then what I know now,” he writes in the first extraordinary paragraph of his mea culpa, “the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”
How dramatic the about-face.
And how terrible that it was necessitated.  How tragic, that is, that Goldstone so misplaced his moral compass in the first place as to have produced a report that has caused such irreversible damage to Israel’s good name. Tragic least of all for the utterly discredited Goldstone himself, and most of all for our unfairly besmirched armed forces and the country they were putting their lives on the line to honorably defend against a ruthless, murderous, terrorist government in Gaza...
An apology just isn’t good enough. The very least he owes Israel is to work unstintingly from now on to try to undo the damage he has caused.
Yom Kipper came early this year for Richard Goldstone.
His show of penitence has come far too late."
We believe Goldstone's report did more harm to the global struggle against terrorism than any other single action anywhere and any time. We hope the Horovitz article gets read in full and distributed as widely as possible.

UPDATE Sunday morning: The acerbic British columnist Melanie Phillips has weighed in with a plain-speaking, no-holds-barred dissection of Goldstone's mea culpa:
What self-serving rubbish. There was ample evidence at the time from numerous sources that Hamas was telling lies about the number of civilians who were killed by Israeli fire. There was ample evidence that Hamas was deliberately putting civilians in harm’s way. There was ample evidence that Hamas does not operate under the rule of law or uphold human rights. There was ample evidence that Israeli rules of engagement required the IDF to avoid hitting civilians wherever possible. There was ample evidence that Israel always investigates allegations of misconduct made against its soldiers and holds them to acount under the rule of law. Yet Goldstone, having accepted the poisoned chalice from the UN Human Rights Council to subject Israel to a show trial whose verdict preceded the evidence (despite his protestations that he modified this odious remit), chose to believe the propaganda put out by Hamas... Like all previous blood libels against the Jews, the poison this one has injected into the global bloodstream has no antidote. The damage is done – and no amount of self-serving recantations by Richard Goldstone will undo the terrible harm he has done.
Her article is here.

Friday, April 01, 2011

1-Apr-11: Indonesian tentacles

Reports in the Australian media today say there is growing concern about new and additional terrorist attacks with Australians among the targets. Australian concern stems from several factors including that its largest neighbour happens to be home of the world's largest population of Moslem citizens, and that it was the site of a showcase massacre by local jihadists in 2002. The Sari Club bombing was the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of Indonesia, killing 202 people including 88 Australians and 38 Indonesians. 240 other people were injured. Jemaah Islamiyah, an Islamist terror organization, took credit.
Terror alert for Indonesia following arrest  
The Age, MelbourneJIHADIS may be planning new terrorist attacks against Westerners in Indonesia, according to the Foreign Affairs Department, with the arrest of a key Bali bombings suspect inflaming tensions on the archipelago. Umar Patek, south-east Asia's most wanted terrorist suspect and known in Indonesia as the ''Little Arab'', was arrested several weeks ago in Pakistan following a tipoff from the CIA. He is suspected to have been Jemaah Islamiyah's deputy field commander during the 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali and personally helped build the car bomb that ripped through the Sari Club. Indonesia's spy chief, Sutanto, said Umar Patek was captured following a violent raid, in which he was injured. His wife was also captured in the raid, he said. ''He has been arrested and he is currently in custody in Pakistan,'' Pakistani military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas told The Age yesterday. But General Abbas declined to confirm reports coming from Pakistan that Patek had confessed to his role in the Bali bombings as well as disclosing details of further terrorist plots, including attacks targeting Australians."
Given the immense dangers, it's refreshing to see a major newspaper use the word terror without planting it between quotation marks.

Some news channels tend to follow a rule that says (to paraphrase) terror that impacts the other country's population may or may not be terror, we wouldn't know (might be militants, might be activists) and we wouldn't want to be judgmental. But terror that endangers our own innocent citizens - now that's real terror.

Two recent examples among many. Until it came under a barrage of criticism, CNN's initial reporting of the massacre of the Fogel family in the Israeli community of Itamar three weeks ago appeared under this cowardly headline:

And in Canada, the Toronto Sun (along with the New York Times and others) was not sure enough about a bombing in the center of Israel's capital city to use the word terrorist without those quote marks:

More than thirty years ago, today's incarnation of Islamist terror was just beginning to gain momentum and many people - news media and analysts as well as politicians and policy makers - were hard-pressed to know how to deal with its implications on their societies. In Paris, a bomb exploded in a synagogue - the Union Libérale Israélite de France synagogue on Rue Copernic, Paris - on 3rd October 1980, killing four and injuring 42, mostly worshippers. The attack was first attributed to neo-Nazis, but then traced to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-Special Operations (PFLP-SO) in Lebanon.

In a quotation that captures the spirit of terrorism denial, the French prime minister of the time, Raymond Barre called the attack "a heinous act against Jews in a synagogue that struck four innocent Frenchmen crossing the street."

What he and most others failed to understand at the time, and what many in the media and public life still do not adequately grasp, is that the terrorists see all of us, and certainly including their own people, as legitimate targets.

No one is caught in the crossfire of the terrorists because we are the targets. The targets of the terrorists are always innocent, and that certainly includes Israeli families even when they are living on disputed soil.