Saturday, August 02, 2014

Matt 24 watch, 246: What's not in the headlined news on the latest Gaza fighting (no prizes for guessing why)

IDF Map showing Israel's exposure to rockets
I have monitored the news on the latest Gaza rocketing -- now reported in some quarters as over 3,000 launched at Israeli civilian centres (most thankfully missing, most of the rest intercepted . . . but some hits) -- and the subsequent counter strikes and ground incursion that has uncovered over thirty tunnels leading into Israel . . . an obvious terror-invasion in preparation most likely intending to use the cover of suicide bombing terrorist attacks to seize hostages.

The news coverage has majored on creating a perception of immoral equivalency between declared genocidal pirates -- Hamas Covenant Clause Seven calls for genocide of Jews by citing an infamous Hadith of Mohammed -- who rocket civilians while forcing the unfortunate people they  oppress to serve as human shields and cannon fodder.

Unfortunately, the result is a cruel choice: 
[a] allow the bombardment to proceed apace until something breaks through the defenses (and no such can be perfect) and kills a large number of Israeli civilians which for a few days at most will silence critics when a reprisal is undertaken . . . and such support will evaporate so soon as any human shields can be shown off by the Pirates as grisly trophies, or

[b] respond to the rocketing, try to demolish the tunnels, trying to minimise inevitable deaths of civilians, while being smeared and denounced left and right. No wonder the Israeli PM has said, Israel cannot afford to lose on the security front . . . they cannot win the PR contest.
Israel has chosen b, at least until the next ceasefire is pushed on them as soon as a decisive result is in prospect. Where, the latest ceasefire seems to have at most lasted an hour or so, ending in an abduction attack:
Moussa Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, did claim that Hamas had captured a soldier. But a senior Hamas source later told this correspondent that this was a misunderstanding, and Abu Marzouk had merely been quoting the Israeli reports. Since Saturday afternoon, the entire Hamas political and military leadership has been chorusing that it has no information on a kidnapped soldier, and indicated that he is not in Hamas hands.

On Friday night, the Hamas military wing stated that “we lost contact with the group of fighters who participated in the ambush, and we believe that they were all killed in the (Israeli) blast. If they did capture a soldier during the fight, we believe that he was also killed in the incident.” The military wing said it did not know where the soldier was, or what his condition was.

Why is Hamas not taking responsibility for the kidnapping? It could be that, for a change, the military wing is telling the truth — that, as a result of IDF activity in the area, the soldier and his captors were killed. It could also be that Hamas is lying, and trying to cover up the fact that it is holding a soldier, because he was seized in breach of the UN- and US-brokered truce, in an action that is causing considerable embarrassment to its allies Qatar and Turkey, who were also signatories to the failed 72-hour truce. Despite Hamas’s lies, the attack on Goldin and the other soldiers emphatically did take place after the truce came into force at 8 a.m. It was carried out more than an hour later . . .
Of course, in Islamised minds, in any contention of testimonies on truth, the Muslim is presumed truthful as "Infidels" are automatically deemed of low character and dismissed. And, with decades of successful polarisation, many across the world will be inclined to doubt the Israelis. But the obviously changing Hamas tales and the admission to knowing of a planned attack lend credibility to the Israelis.

Times of Israel summarises the more or less current state of events:
The US and UN announced a 72-hour truce from Friday morning to be followed by negotiations, but the truce quickly collapsed as Hamas carried out an attack in Rafah in which one soldier, Hadar Goldin, was kidnapped and two others were killed. President Barack Obama led an international chorus demanding that Hamas release Goldin unconditionally.
The deaths in Rafah brought the IDF toll to 63; three civilians have also been killed on the Israeli side. Gazan health officials put the death toll there at some 1,500. Israel says hundreds of those are Hamas fighters. (Friday’s liveblog is here.) . . .  .

Security cabinet decides: No truce negotiations with Hamas via Cairo

The security cabinet decides that it will not negotiate with Hamas, via Egyptian mediators, on yet another truce and will not send a delegation to Cairo today as expected, Channel 2 reports.
The cabinet members met late last night for over five hours and the first reports about the outcome are being published now.
According to an Army Radio report, sources say that this does not mean that in, say, five days or a week, Israel won’t send a delegation, but for now this is the Israeli position arising from Friday’s marathon cabinet meeting.
The Palestinian delegation is expected in Egypt later today.
The same, adds as at 12:23 [Israel time]:

Finnish reporter confirms Hamas war crimes

A television reporter from the Finnish Helsingin Sanomat confirms that Hamas has been firing rockets out of the Al-Shifa Hospital.

The reporter, who is not named in the television segment shot on-site in Gaza, says a rocket was launched “right in the back the parking lot” of the hospital at 2 a.m. between Thursday and Friday.
“Really, it happened right in the area, the sound of it was really loud,” she says, confirming reports that Hamas is committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip by shooting from civilian concentrations, medical centers and other humanitarian institutions.

“It’s true that rockets are launched here from the Gazan side into Israel.”

( The Journalist seems to be displeased that her admission against interest is being "used as an excuse to target civilians in Gaza." That misrepresentation -- yes, it is a turnabout accusation -- itself underscores how much it is an against interest admission. This corroborates the Israeli statement that rockets are being launched at Israel's civilians from behind human shields. Had the Israelis retaliated and hit the Hospital, we would have heard no end of reports on Israeli targetting of Hospitals and the like. This telling admission should tell us worlds about what is going on. Including, Hamas having one of its main headquarters underneath the very same Al Shifa major Hospital. As Algemeiner reports: 
" The Al Shifa Hospital, in particular, has been an area of focus after journalists reported that Hamas was using the hospital as a headquarters, but many of their reports were withdrawn, deleted on social media or actually taken off their newspaper websites because of fears for their safety and retribution from Hamas for reporting the truth." [--> Cf. details here and here.]
  We have already seen cases of rockets being stored in UN schools, which would turn them into legitimate targets under the laws of war. This turns a major Gaza hospital into a Pirate's nest and human shielded launch platform for weapons used to target civilians in Israel. This is the spirit of Molech.)

A second video shows a reporter being used inadvertently as a human shield for rocket launching at Israel, even as he reports on camera live . . . notice how he ducks:


(Of course, had counter-battery fire hit the reporter, the news would predictably be on how Israel is targetting reporters. We need to have such reporters answer these forty pointed questions.)

Going beyond, Time Magazine informs us:
Hamas, the terrorist group controlling Gaza, endeavors to turn Israel’s military superiority to its own advantage by portraying the Israeli response to intense rocket and mortar fire as disproportionate and indiscriminate. In doing so, it hopes to turn public opinion against the Jewish state, as well as bolster its own standing at the expense of the Fatah-led Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank.

Fatality figures provided by Hamas and other groups should be viewed with suspicion. Not only do Israeli figures cast doubt on claims that the vast majority of fatalities are non-combatants, but a careful review of Palestinian sources also raises doubts.
Analyses of the casualties listed in the daily reports published by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a Gaza-based organization operating under Hamas rule, indicate that young males ages 17 to 30 make up a large portion of the fatalities, and a particularly noticeable spike occurs between males ages 21 to 27, a pattern consistent with the age distribution typically found among combatants and military conscripts. Palestinian sources attempt to conceal this discrepancy with their public message by labeling most of these young men as civilians. Only a minority is identified as members of armed groups. As a result, the PCHR calculates civilian fatalities at 82% as of July 26 . . . . 
Scrutiny of Palestinian figures in the current conflict reveals a spike in fatalities among males ages 21 to 27 and an over-representation from ages 17 to 30. Data gleaned from the daily reports of the PCHR show that from July 8, the start of Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge,” through July 26, 404 out of 915 fatalities tallied from daily reports in which the ages were identified occurred among males ages 17 to 30, comprising 44% of all fatalities among a group representing about 10% of Gazans.

Expanding the age range from 17 to 39 and including those identified as combatants whose ages were not given increases that number to 551 fatalities, or 57% of all fatalities, even though this group represents less than one-sixth of Gazans. By contrast, adult female fatalities were less than 10% of total fatalities for a group that comprises a quarter of the total population.

Children, here defined as those under age 17, represented 194 of fatalities, 20% of the total. Any child fatality is a tragedy, but it is important to note that children make up over half the population of Gaza. [--> How many children in Gaza are being induced to play at being child soldiers?]

Despite the discrepancies noted, the substantial number of civilian fatalities leaves room for further scrutiny. In seeking an alternate explanation for the excess of young male fatalities, it might be posited that this reflects some behavioral feature of this group separate from combat-related activities. However, the shape of the fatality demographic makes this unlikely. What feature would explain the sharp increase from age 17, peaking at ages 22 to 25 and then declining rapidly after age 30?

A more plausible explanation is that the age demographic of the fatalities reflects the relative involvement of different age bands in hostilities . . . 

Sobering, and a very different overall picture from what headlined news is telling us.

Nor, should we forget rockets that fall short of Israel, inside Gaza:

Hamas Rockets Exploding in Gaza Strip

Pressure from IDF, poor quality of rockets leads to rockets exploding in Hamas-controlled Gaza

JERUSALEM—More than a third of the 140 rockets fired by Hamas at Israel yesterday fell short and exploded inside the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli Army spokesman’s office.

Rocket shortfalls have increased, according to Israeli military sources. They attribute these misfires to the intense pressure Hamas rocket squads face from Israeli air and artillery attacks, as well as poorly assembled rockets.

Some 2,000 rockets have been fired at Israel since the fighting between Israel and Hamas began three weeks ago. Of these, say army officers, about 300 have fallen inside the Gaza Strip. The army spokesman said shortfalls were responsible for explosions three days ago at a hospital and a refugee camp that took dozens of lives. Hamas has denied the accusation and blamed Israel for the blasts.

“We believe that some 70 percent of their rocket arsenal has been depleted [--> presumably, between being depleted and being knocked out by the Israeli attacks from the air and ground] and they are now firing from the bottom of the heap,” a military source told the World Tribune.
 Obviously, the damage and deaths from such short-falls will predictably be blamed on Israel.

The deaths of and injuries to civilians are awful things, but must be set in context: were Hamas to cease from Terrorism and were the Palestinian Arab leaders to seriously negotiate, we would likely have a negotiation clock reset to Sept. 2000, with 100% of Gaza, 97% of the West Bank (with compensating land elsewhere), a causeway joining the two, and development aid instantly on the table.  That these are not on the table and that a weapons blockade is in force -- it seems a fairly porous one -- against Gaza, is the direct result of the piratical, genocide oriented policy pursued by Hamas and its enablers and backers. That's before we get to the double war crime of Hamas' deliberate targetting of civilians while using human shields. There simply is no immoral equivalency. (And we should never forget Israeli "occupation" really and primarily means the mere existence of Israel. With the sound of the ghastly Gharqad tree hadith about a latterday massacre of Jews lingering in the background, as something embedded in the Hamas covenant's Clause 7.)
Israeli commentator Maurice Ross makes some pointed observations:
. . . never again, never, will we walk as victims to our destruction.

People of the world open your eyes and see the humanity of our cause as it contrasts with our enemy Hamas, whose evilness is only surpassed by its wickedness. 

A number of events of this week should be enough to explain to the world that we are not fighting a war with an enemy that observes any semblance of human behaviour. We are fighting a war with an enemy that is obsessed by the very hatred that has consumed their mind.

They have no respect for the normal conventions of humankind. Life to them has no meaning and they perform the devil’s work here on earth.

But the world watches and instead of condemning the devil, it condemns the very people who uphold humanity. The world condemns those, who before the modern conventions of international law were constituted, gave to the world codes of ethical behaviour. The world condemns those who put their own soldiers at risk to ensure the safety of civilians who have been put in the firing line through the devil’s work.

This week in Han Yunes, Palestinian children, staying in an UNWRA clinic, cried for help. 3 Israeli soldiers, 3 beautiful young men called Matan, Omer and Guy, rushed to help them. When they got in the building, the pre-wired clinic blew up, killing the soldiers and injuring 12 others. This is the devil’s work.

On another day, a mentally handicapped man was found chained in a house to prevent him from leaving. Hamas did it so that Israeli soldiers would be extra careful and fall into the booby trap that had been set to kill them and which would also have killed the poor soul chained in the house. This is the devil’s work.

Fortunately, the Israeli soldiers realized that a booby trap had been set, managed to make the area safe and released the poor man.

It has now been verified that on three occasions, rockets have been found in UNWRA schools and that hospitals have been used as ammunition stores. This is the devil’s work.

Doesn’t Hamas know that those schools and hospitals then cease to be schools under International Law and regrettably become legitimate targets of war?

It has now also been verified by an Italian reporter that journalists were stopped, under threat of fire, from showing the true picture of the situation in Gaza; citizens being prevented from leaving; women and children being placed up front; innocents being shot as collaborators. This is the devil’s work.
And the devil’s men rise up out of the tunnels to commit massacres on Israel’s land and take hostages; tie babies to their chests to protect them from bullets; and shoot their own people in the name of Allah, whilst the devil’s accomplices arm them; fail to condemn them; call for Israel to show restraint; and even worse remain silent.

Of course, none of that was in global news headlines. As usual.

It is high time that we return to some basic common-sense:
1] Jews have unquestionable (though too often dismissed) roots in their homeland, and the Modern Israeli state has further legitimacy as the main settlement of Jews driven out from their homes all across the Middle East and stripped of land, houses and posessions.
2] Arabs and other people long settled in the area also have legitimate roots.

3] The Jewish resettlement and development of the land from the 1870's on, is what created the prosperous land we see.

4] For 3,000 years, down to today, Jews in the land have been willing to live with others in peace.

5] From 1946 on there have been several occasions where a peaceful settlement of disputes was on the table, most recently in 2000 which would have resulted in a legitimate Palestinian Arab state [a second one, Jordan being the first and 3/4 of the League of Nations Mandate], but every time that has gone to war, from the Arab side.

6] From 2005, the Arabs had an opportunity to create something out of Gaza, but instead have created a pirate's nest and terrorist base.  This, being consistent with the notorious Gharqad Tree hadith's declaration of an apocalyptic massacre of Jews. 

7] That kind of deep-rooted hostility cannot be negotiated with, save in a context of defeat leading to security for the intended target and abandonment of genocidal intent.
We therefore need to insist on context being given to news and commentary, and on standing up for stopping genocidal madmen before it is horrifically too late. 

Not that such will make a dime's worth of difference to those bent on evil or on enabling it. But, we can wake up, wise up and make some decisions that news sources and commentators who do not respect the wider context in what they say or do be viewed and treated as what they are: irresponsible enablers of genocidal pirates.

And, just maybe, decisive defeat of those pirates is the only way to genuine peace -- even as in the 1940's Germany had to be defeated at horrific cost, including to its civilian population. Let us remember, that that is why men like Churchill, Roosevelt and Eisenhower agreed that bombing was an awful necessity, knowing how many innocents would pay the price.  And knowing, the alternative.

I shudder to have to raise that comparison, but that is what history puts on the table. The implacable and genocidal have to be defeated decisively, they cannot be compromised with. Horrible, though that lesson is. We live in a sin- and evil- maddened world, one that in its perversity refuses to look to its only hope, The Prince of Peace. 

In that context, it looks like patently mad, appalling evil is inevitable and the statesmen facing such a challenge may well be backed into a corner where there are no non-horrible alternatives.

And in this case, I ever hear the ticking of Iran's nuke clock; which may well portend horrors on a scale that dwarfs what is happening already. 

Collectively, we are mad, sin- and evil- mad. 

Please, let us wake up and turn back before we turn horrible nightmares into realities that cannot even be put in words. And yes, that includes taking a second look at ideologies that feed such madness. END

PS: On withdrawing, IDF has issued statistics on the military incursion -- grim reading, and with an implication of significant civilian losses for fighting in urban areas that have not been evacuated [BTW, as there are abundant open areas in Gaza and as the UN commonly sets up refugee centres in such spaces, why wasn't there such a provision? Better yet, why didn't Hamas use these areas for its military bases . . . as Israel does?] -- consistent with statistics from WW II etc:

 Some 900 operatives from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terror groups were killed in the Gaza Strip in the four weeks of fighting, since Operation Protective Edge was launched by the IDF on July 8, a senior Israeli military source said Tuesday. 

The source added that the Israel Air Force hit a total of 4,800 targets in the Palestinian enclave.
Health officials in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip say that close to 1,900 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting began, most of them civilians and many of them children. Palestinian rights groups have claimed that 84 percent of those killed in the conflict were civilians; Israel disputes those claims. Israel has blamed Hamas for the deth and destruction in Gaza, since it emplaced its rockets, rocket launchers, cross-border tunnel openings and other military infrastructure in homes, schools and mosques, and thus used Gazans as human shields.

Earlier Tuesday, IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said the army had completed its mission of destroying 32 of Hamas’s attack tunnels that cross from the Strip into Israeli territory.

By 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the Israeli military had withdrawn all of its ground troops from Gaza, as an Egyptian backed, 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire came into effect.

The war in Gaza has claimed the lives of 64 soldiers, 11 of whom were killed by Hamas gunmen emerging from tunnels dug under the Gaza-Israel border, and three civilians on the Israeli side. Over 3,000 rockets have been launched at Israeli cities in the month-long conflict.