Wednesday, June 06, 2012

6-Jun-12: Has anyone heard of a Palestinian "Peace Now" group? Why not? And does it matter?

A handful of the many thousands of enforcers deployed by
the "moderate" Fatah/Mahmoud Abbas regime to impose
discipline and order and suppress unauthorized views [Image Source]
From "Where Are the Moderate Arabs and Palestinians?" on the Gatestone Institute website today. The author is Khaled Abu Toameh.
Over the past two decades, Israeli Jews have been marching toward pragmatism and moderation. A majority now supports the two-state solution and, according to public opinion polls, is even willing to make compromises on settlements and Jerusalem, By contrast, the Palestinians seem to be marching backward. The Palestinians have been radicalized to a point where it is almost impossible to talk about peace and coexistence with Israel. For Palestinians, the true heroes are suicide bombers who blew themselves up in cafes and buses, killing innocent civilians. Peace activists, human rights advocates, moderates, journalists and reformers have almost no say and are often denounced as "traitors" and a "fifth column"  ...When was the last time an Arab parliament or prominent politician or columnist called for peace and compromise with Israel?
Abu Toameh's short essay deserves wide circulation.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

5-Jun-12: Incoming mortar fire from the Gazan terrorists

The steady increase in tensions on Israel's southern border with the Hamas regime of Gaza of the past few days (never, to judge from history, an accident) continues today. Mid-afternoon, a mortar shell was fired from the Hamas/Gaza side of the fence. It landed at an undisclosed location in the Eshkol region, causing a fire to break out but there is no damage no injuries have been reported. No indication at this stage whether the mortar contained phosphorous like those fired into the same region in January [report]. Phosphorous is packed into mortars when the people doing the shooting want to ignite a fire around the impact zone. Its use near civilians is prohibited under the Geneva Convention, and elicited an Israeli complaint to the UN in March with the expected response.

5-Jun-12: If there's one single thing about UNRWA that we wish people understood, it's this

A week ago, Australia signed on to a USD 90 million partnership agreement with UNRWA in support of what are termed its core programmes throughout the Middle East. The Australian commitment is for five years, and appears to be the initiative of Foreign Minister Bob Carr.

That Australia, an enlightened and fair-minded country filled with people of a similar character, is handing over large wads of donation money to that disgraceful organization is distressing. It's rare for the public sense of a major international body to be so at odds with what it actually does, what it stands for. You hope that people in government can see past this sort of thing. But too often, that's not what happens.

UNRWA, the United Nations agency created to care for the Palestinian Arabs 63 years ago, ought to be one of the bright spots in the dismal UN story. It's difficult to think of higher humanitarian principles: helping the dispossessed, educating and clothing the poor, giving meaning to lives damaged by political turmoil and dispossession. 

But the way it works in practice is not quite so bright.

Most Australians, if they pay attention to this at all, are likely to interpret criticism of the Carr decision as being political in its nature. This is a pity. Criticism of UNRWA, how it gets supported, what it does with the money it receives, cuts right across political lines. You don't have to be a friend of Israel to be appalled with what UNRWA is and does. 

But this is not a detailed take-down of UNRWA; maybe another time. For now, we want simply to point to one single factor. It's one we blogged about in February, and it's this: 
If UNRWA's work is so important, if it brings us closer to peace, if it restores dignity to the lives of dispossessed and destitute Arabs, then why, when you look at the top twenty list of donors to this agency that exists entirely from donations do you see that only one is Arab
In 2010, the most recent year for which we can find reliable data, that Arab donation (from an entity called Islamic Development Bank) comes in at number 19. Australia gave three times as much. And that was before last week's major gift announcement.

Every Aussie who pays taxes and/or cares for a decent humanitarian outcome to the Arab/Israel conflict needs to ask her/himself why the Arabs consistently don't give to alleviate the suffering of their Palestinian Arab brethren

This is a truly key question to which there are some persuasive and deeply disturbing answers.

We are more than willing to share an analysis of why UNRWA's work - all of it - makes the Middle East conflict worse not better, and was always intended to have that effect since UNRWA's inception in December 1949. 

Without any doubt, Australia's increased payments are a step away from peace, not towards it, and in the direction of encouraging more and more and more terror. But that's for a separate post.

5-Jun-12: A stabbing in the Tomb of the Patriarchs

Fifteenth century image of the burial
of the patriarch Jacob (Israel) in the
Machpelah Cave [Image Source]
On Monday afternoon, a Palestinian Arab clutching what Haaretz calls "a large nail" approached a small group of Israeli security personnel posted to keep the peace at the ancient Machpelah Cave in Hebron. It's a site that has been revered by Jews for thousands of years (long before Islam was created) as the traditional burial place of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as well as the matriarchs of the Jewish people Sarah, Rivka and Leah. [A striking collection of photographs is here on the excellent Israel Daily Picture website.] Many know it as the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

The Palestinian Arab executed a stabbing attempt, managing to wound one of the Border Guard (Mishmar Hag'vul) servicemen in the head. His name, according to the Bethlehem-based Palestinian news agency Maan, is Laith Mashaal. It reports that he had come to the tomb to pray on Monday afternoon. Evidently feeling especially religious, he then stabbed the Israeli officer outside what Maan terms "the mosque". Another Border Guard police prevented a worse outcome by managing to use his weapon to fire a bullet at the Palestinian Arab, hitting him in the chest.

Times of Israel says the wounded Arab assailant received immediate care from a Magen David Adom rescue service unit called to the scene. They resuscitated him and rushed him to Hadassah Medical Center in the nearby Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ein Karem where he is in serious condition, but (in the customary irony that accompanies terrorist attacks in this unusual country) receiving the very best of Zionist medical care.

The Border Guard man with the stabbing injury to the head was taken to the same hospital where he is in moderate condition and recovering.

Monday, June 04, 2012

4-Jun-12: Another rocket launched at southern Israel by the Gazan terror squads

Around 1:45 this morning (Monday), and following on from the earlier rocket attack during Sunday night [we posted on that here: "4-Jun-12: Gaza's rocket men are firing them off into Israel again tonight"], the rocket-equipped terror squads of Gaza fired their deadly weaponry again in the direction - as always - of anything, but anything, Jewish on the map of Israel. The report we saw (in Hebrew) says it exploded in an open field in the Eshkol region, same as a few hours before. No injuries, no damage but the intention of the men with the explosives is to achieve much more than that. They, after all, belong to what foolish and mischievous political naifs in almost every part of the world (this South African group, for instance) call the “alliance of resistance”, in which they are partnered with the humanitarian giants of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah.

We're nauseated by the notion that terrorist groups armed to the teeth and beyond with rockets numbering in the tens of thousands and all pointed at our homes, are anyone's idea of a resistance. So long as there is confusion on this scale about what constitutes terrorism, there is little chance it is going to be stopped.

During May, Israel absorbed 81 terrorist attacks on its people and land, compared with 70 in the month before (source: the Israeli Security Agency). Especially noticeable was the rise in the hurling of fire bombs (Molotov cocktails) at Israeli drivers and their passengers on the roads. Some 50 attacks happened in May in Judea and Samaria (36 in April). All but two involved the use of explosives. Terror attacks originating in Gaza were at the same level as the month before. Eight Israeli victims of these attacks suffered significant injuries.

4-Jun-12: Gaza's rocket men are firing them off into Israel again tonight

It's late Sunday night here, and a day before the 45th anniversary of the start of the Six Day War of 1967.

The Times of Israel and Ynet both report that a Qassam rocket was fired by terrorists from the Gaza Strip around 9:40 this evening. It exploded at an undisclosed place somewhere in the open fields of southern Israel's Eshkol region. No damage or injuries are reported.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

3-Jun-12: Scenes from the front lines: today's update

East Jerusalem: Firebombs, cement blocks, rock volleys
[Image Source]
The chronology below picks up where we left off this past Tuesday ["29-May-12: Terrorism from up close: low-intensity attacks continue"]. Like several earlier reports summarized in our blog, this is based on the Tayar Security Report, compiled by Yehudit Tayar from first-responder, police and army reports.

Tuesday May 29, 2012
  • Molotov cocktail (fire-bomb) attack on the IDF post at Tel Ares, south-west of Nablus/Shechem
  • Civilian buses come under rock attacks in the area north-west of Nablus/Shechem between Sebastia and the Jewish communities of the Shomron (Samaria district) 
Wednesday May 30. 2012
  • Tekoa in the Gush Etzion region, on Jerusalem's southern edge: A crowd of Palestinian Arabs, including a considerable number of political activists, provocateurs and anarchists (to adopt the Tayar Security Report's terminology) gathers, seeking to cause violent clashes with the community's Jewish residents. They also attack IDF troops whose presence prevented the confrontations which they evidently wanted to achieve. One of the Arab protestors is moderately injured.
  • Negahot in the Southern Hebron Hills: Rock throwing attacks on the IDF with two soldiers suffering  moderate injuries. They are taken away by ambulance for hospital treatment.
Thursday May 31, 2012
  • Betar Ilit: An Israeli passenger bus comes under rock attack resulting in property damage but no injuries
  • In the Shomron (Samaria district): Rock attacks on vehicles traveling on the Gilad Road
  • Negahot in in the Southern Hebron Hills: Continuing rock attacks
 Friday June 1, 2012
  • Terrorist incursion near Kisufim on the Israel/Gaza border. We posted on this ["1-Jun-12: In the south, things are growing warmer... yet again"]
  • Two incoming rockets are fired from Gaza in the general direction of Israeli communities, this time landing near the security fence
  • Village of Kfar Hursa, in the Southern Hebron Hills: Continuous rioting by local Palestinian Arabs directed against Israeli vehicles passing on the nearby roads. An Israeli motorist, struck by a bottle of paint, safely reached Bet Hagai where she reported on the damage to her vehicle
  • Also in the vicinity of Hursa: An Israeli child suffered injuries from glass fragments as a result of a rock attack (one of many) on a vehicle traveling near the village. In addition, two IDF soldiers were injured from rock throwing in the same area during the week.
Saturday June 2, 2012
  • The Gal neighborhood of Kiryat Arba: A fire is set by protesting Arabs from nearby towns. Fire fighters prevented damage or injury.
  • Adjacent to the village of El Arub on the Gush Etzion-to-Hebron road: During Friday night, a Molotov cocktail (fire-bomb) is hurled at an IDF post 
Sunday (today) June 3, 2012
  • The vicinity of Har Gilo on Jerusalem's southern edge: An Israeli vehicle is car-jacked. The driver, who had transported her son to his army post nearby, is thrown from her vehicle but is unhurt. The brazen thieves make good their escape to the nearby Arab town of Bet Jala.
  • Hebron: Rock attacks on Israeli vehicles in and near the city's Jewish community quarter, with property damage
  • Multiple rock attacks today against Israeli vehicles traveling several roads including the Yigal Alon Road, north-west of Ramallah; the major Tel Aviv/Jerusalem Route 443, in the vicinity of the Dor Energy gas station (owned and operated by the Hawaja family, Israeli Arabs) a few kilometers south of the city of Modi'in; and in the vicinity of Shilo with the rock throwers based at the Arab school at Luben A-Sharkia. Damage caused to vehicles.

Friday, June 01, 2012

1-Jun-12: More on this morning's terror attack in southern Israel

Netanel Moshiashvili, 21, a staff sergeant in the Golani Brigade,
was killed in the fire fight with the terrorist this morning
Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed credit for this morning's terrorist infiltration near the Kisufim Crossing in southern Israel, attributing it to its Saraya Al Quds [trans. Jerusalem Brigades], and saying the mission was to abduct an IDF soldier.

A couple of hours later, there is a vehement 180 degree reverse (according to Times of Israel). A PIJ spokesman calling himself Abu Ahmed says it was not them that did it. Nevertheless the mission that resulted in the killing of the terrorist - a 23-year-old man from Abassan, east of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip - was “heroic”. The Maan newsagency, based in Bethlehem and generally identified with the views of the Abbas/Fatah part of the Palestinian Arabs, says this morning's attack (that's the word they use, and with justice of course) appears "to have been aimed at luring Israeli forces into the area in an attempt to capture a soldier". There have been numerous such attempts this year.

Whether or not we agree with Maan's line, its editors avoid the silly fence-sitting games of a certain London-based global network whose news editors are saying right now that "An Israeli soldier and a Palestinian have been killed during an exchange of fire along the Gaza border."

An exchange - like the "exchanges" that happened in London on July 7, 2005? Funny how, when the attack is on British turf, the BBC's coverage is so much more factual, less "spun".

Let's note also that the same British news agency is explaining to its millions of listeners and readers that "it is not uncommon for the Israeli army to open fire on Palestinians who approach the fence". The notions that that this was a deliberate terrorist attack, that Israel's border was breached, that the Palestinian Arab died on Israeli soil - well, why spoil a perfectly nice news-like confection?

The fallen Israeli serviceman is Staff Sergeant Netanel Moshiashvili21, from nearby Ashkelon. His funeral is taking place as we write these words. Meanwhile there are urgent immediate warnings of incoming rockets affecting almost all the communities of southern Israel.

1-Jun-12: In the south, things are growing warmer... yet again

From Israel's side of the Gaza fence, constant watchfulness.
The murderous goals of the terrorists are patently clear
from over here. [Image Source]
It's early summer and the very warm and still conditions here are highly conducive to trouble-making for people with serious trouble on their minds. Based on the many-decades-long history of the Arab/Israel conflict, there are plenty of people on the far side of the fence who do. 

Around 4 this morning (Friday) in conditions of thick fog and relatively low visibility, a Palestinian Arab man with a gun got to the Hamas side of the fence between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Ynet says he cut through it and was heading towards the usual target (definition: "absolutely anything Jewish") when he was intercepted by a fast-moving IDF Golani response patrol, backed up by the Armored Corps. There was a fire-fight, and the Palestinian Arab Gazan is now with his heavenly virgins. JPost says the cause of death was Israeli tank fire. Haaretz (which dogmatically persists in describing the infiltrator as a militant) is reporting that an IDF soldier was killed in the exchange of fire.

The Haaretz report notes that there has been a noticeable rise during the past few months in hostile activity emanating from the Hamas side of the Israel-Gaza border "including the planting of explosive devices, shootings, and RPG fire".

We assume this rise in lethal activity intended to produce dead Israelis, as sadly happened today, is somehow connected to the mysterious new Hamas force in black uniforms and on motorcycles and 4WD vehicles about whom we recently posted. That's the force allegedly tasked with restraining the "activists" who keep lobbing rockets and grenades at civilians and residential communities on the Israeli side of the border.

When that restraint starts to happen, the IDF will need to broaden its strategy and be on the lookout for flying pigs.

1-Jun-12: Bodies... and souls

Gaza City, Thursday: Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists carry
a coffin with the remains of a dead colleague. The AP  caption accompanying
this picture reads somewhat bizarrely: "Israel transferred the bodies
of Palestinian militants in an effort to induce Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas to renew negotiations". 
A Jerusalem Post editorial, to appear on Friday, looks hard at today's Israeli release of nearly a hundred dead Palestinian Arab terrorist bodies ["Israel turning over terrorists' bodies"]. The surreal scene raises again some very troubling considerations. Are we to believe that peace between the Arabs and the Israelis is now closer?
Israel delivered 91 corpses of Arab terrorists to the Palestinian Authority on Thursday. This was part of a “confidence-building” measure by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, geared to encourage Abbas to return to negotiations.
In fact, however, it was another sequel to the Gilad Schalit swap saga. Abbas was miffed by the uplift Hamas gained as a result of Schalit’s kidnapping, prolonged hostage drama and the subsequent extortion. If Hamas got a prize, Abbas reasoned, why shouldn’t he? If he too isn’t rewarded, then they, the presumed anti-peace forces, win an advantage over him, the presumed pro-peace party...
The JPost editorial notes that, in the unfocused eyes of much of the world's news media,
"Abbas is a genuine peace-seeker, a man of moderation and a sincere advocate of coexistence. But under Abbas’s aegis, terrorists – past and present – are revered and feted. The official media he controls, the educational system he runs and the mosques whose clerics he appoints and subsidizes, all effuse paeans of praise for terrorists. This is intense indoctrination of an anyway volatile population to regard mass murderers as role models." 
The eerie propaganda spectacle mounted by the PA over the killers’ corpses raises some seriously troubling questions.
"Why, for instance, is Israel always the one obliged to make “goodwill gestures?” Why does Abbas need to be bribed to negotiate? ...Why does the PA celebrate and glorify those whose crimes constitute the absolute antithesis to peace? ...It names streets after terrorists, bestows honors upon them, devotes school hours to them, encourages their emulation on TV and agitates for the release of all convicted mass murderers. Delegitimizing terrorism is a prerequisite for coexistence – a symbolic prelude to actually fighting terrorism, the barest minimum we rightfully expect of peace partners. Yet as long as Palestinians are brainwashed, from the cradle, to venerate the slaughter of Israelis, an authentic change of heart will remain a chimera.
We're waiting for some good answers.