‘Where are our boys?’ ask bereaved Israeli parents
Israel will refuse to return the bodies of Palestinian terrorists killed over the past month unless the Palestinian side agrees to keep their funerals “modest,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Sunday.
Israel has handed over the bodies of eight Palestinian terrorists over the past week, enabling their families to bury them. These handovers have been criticized by some members of the Israeli government.
Briefing reporters on Sunday, Ya’alon said the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet had initially intended to withhold the bodies but had reassessed this because of the resentment it stirred among Palestinians.
On two occasions where Israel handed over bodies for burial, the Palestinian Authority “met our conditions” by ensuring the funerals were “modest family affairs, held at night,” Ya’alon said.
Ya’alon said a third handover, in Hebron, was halted before all the bodies were delivered because “they [Palestinians] in effect allowed a popular funeral that we saw as a security threat.” He appeared to be referring to the burial of five of the Palestinians in Hebron on Saturday, which was attended by tens of thousands of mourners, including Palestinian officials.
Two more Palestinians were buried in Hebron on Sunday, but the event was on a smaller scale, with hundreds attending.
“Where there is a commitment to quiet, modest funerals, we will continue to return [bodies],” Ya’alon said. “Where there is not, we will not return them, even if that means us burying them here.”
Meanwhile, the families of fallen IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, whose bodies are being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, have expressed opposition to returning the bodies of dead Palestinian terrorists to their families.
Shaul’s mother, Zahava, said on Sunday, “Where our are children in this deal? Why are they not returning our boys?”
Goldin’s father, Simcha, said returning the bodies of dead terrorists represented “twisted morals of the highest order.” He also said it weakened Israel’s bargaining position regarding the return of the bodies of his son and Shaul. (Israel Hayom)
Ex-commander: Israel isn’t stopping Hamas digging tunnels under border
Hamas is digging attack tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border, and Israel is failing to take actions to stop it, a former senior military commander told a security conference on Monday.
Speaking at an event entitled ‘Operation Protective Edge to the Third Intifada?’ organized by the Institute for National Security Studies, former officers offered scathing criticism of government policies at the Sapir Academic College in Sderot.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yom Tov Samia, former OC Southern Command, said the government has consistently been setting ambiguous goals for the IDF during times of conflict, goals “that cannot be checked or measured for achievements.”
Samia, who said he was part of the team of officers who formulated goals during past Israeli operations in Gaza, said the government is forcing the IDF to set poorly defined goals, while failing to order preventative action between rounds of fighting.
Although the defense establishment knew all about Hamas’s tunnel activities prior to Operation Protective Edge in 2014, “no preventative action was taken on tunnels,” he said, adding, “Unfortunately, right now there are tunnels being dug under the [border] fence,” and Israel is failing to stop this.
“The IDF has lost the ability to go to the government, when it is quiet, and say, this is intolerable, we’d like to initiate preventative actions. The result is more tunnels. Unfortunately, this is continuing right now.”
Part of the problem, Samia said, is the very nature of the Israeli government model, which leads to a “lack of sovereignty.”
He also blasted the way Israel had reacted in the past to kidnappings of soldiers and civilians, affirming that kidnappings should not turn into “strategic events that shock the country. We must stop this nonsense, and I said that without trivializing human lives.”
“In my eyes, Gilad Schalit was a war captive. We gave him a $30 million tank and a crew. He was captured. Captives can be released through ransom, but the country should not go into hysteria. Israel did not carry out any anti-Hamas operation for five years for fear of killing a hostage. [Then] we learned that price of releasing him was 800 terrorists, with blood on their hands,” Samia said, adding, “I think this realization is starting to trickle down in the IDF.”
Samia also criticized the way the IDF reacted to the kidnapping of the late Lt. Hadar Goldin on August 1, 2014, in Gaza, when the IDF opened heavy fire from the air and artillery fire in Rafah and activated the Hannibal protocol, killing dozens of Palestinians.
“After Black Friday, I sat in the command room and I felt bad. We turned over the whole city, and I knew it would not lead anywhere,” Samia said.
Samia also said the existing rate of conflicts in Gaza is unsustainable for the Israeli economy.
“Operation Cast Lead in 2010 did not prevent Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, and that in turn did not prevent Operation Protective Edge in 2014. I can say that Operation Protective Edge will not prevent the next operation. Unless [the next operation] will be different, and unless it will have a different goal, [it too won’t prevent subsequent conflicts],” Samia said.
To have an operation “every other year is ‘checkmate’ for tourism and for business. In fewer than nine years we had four complex rounds of fighting [including the Second Lebanon War] – rounds of fighting in which most Israelis were in safe rooms or bomb shelters.”
Samia praised the IDF’s field units, saying that battalion, brigade, and company commanders are outstanding officers who strive to engage the enemy.
“Can I say the same about division commanders?” he asked, leaving the question unanswered.
Samia also blasted what he described as “festivals” of military awards and citations to soldiers following conflicts.
“If full investigations, which would be embarrassing, took place… including [an investigation of] the government, then I’d be in favor of these celebrations. But unfortunately, this is not the case, and it really disturbs me.”
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ido Nahushtan, former commander of the Israel Air Force, said he is highly disturbed by the post-Iran nuclear deal reality taking shape around Israel.
The 2014 conflict with Hamas was a milestone in the evolution of Iranian strategy, which is based on eroding the Israeli home front with missiles and rockets fired from civilian population centers. “It is very hard to beat it, both tactically and strategically,” Nahushtan said.
With the lifting of sanctions on the Islamic Republic, Hezbollah in Lebanon is currently gaining access to Iran’s very plentiful resources, unlike Gaza, which is limited in resources.
Iran and Hezbollah are bogged down in the Syrian civil war, and “this point in time is, I think, an opportunity…to prepare ourselves to better deal with this [Iranian] strategy,” Nahushtan said.
Israel has developed world-leading precision strike and intelligence capabilities, and built rapid sensor- to-shooter cycles, but these are still inadequate for future conflicts, he warned.
Israel’s air superiority is not assured over Lebanon during a future clash with Hezbollah due to its plentiful surface-to-air missile systems.
“Their goal is to hit and wear out Israel. It works for them. They invest in it, both in Gaza and Lebanon. They view tunnels as assets. They view our air defenses as their weakness, and they are working on overcoming this,” the former IAF chief said.
“What have we learned? Despite the exceptional defense offered by Iron Dome, and the IAF, and despite the exceptional strikes on enemy forces, this [current] equation is bad for Israel. Fifty one days of conflict, all over Israel, that disrupted lives. Thankfully, we sustained low casualties, but this is before they learned their lessons. We want to do things better,” Nahushtan said. “We want to be able to hit every place that they fire from. We need another kind of intelligence, and another kind of direct strike capability. We have to decide that we want this. We must also invest in subterranean warfare. In terms of intelligence, we should strive for higher resolution, and automation.”
The nuclear deal between the P5+1 countries and Iran has allowed Tehran to open “the dam” and enable its many resources to flow to Hezbollah.
“This must be a milestone for us, to build new forces that will be ready for the next Protective Edge, for Hezbollah, or for Iran in four to five years. I am very disturbed by the opening of the Iranian dam.” (Jerusalem Post)
Terrorist foiled at West Bank crossing near Jenin
A possible terrorist attack was thwarted at a West Bank checkpoint on Tuesday morning that has been the site of three terror attacks in the last two weeks.
An IDF unit apprehended a Palestinian terrorist at the Gilboa West Bank crossing and discovered a pipe bomb and knife in his possession.
The suspect was arrested on the Palestinian side of the crossing, and confessed to soldiers that he was planning an attack, an army spokeswoman said. Security forces took the suspect in for questioning. There were no injuries in the incident.
On Monday, two Palestinian terrorists attempted to stab a soldier outside of the crossing.
One terrorist, 16, was shot and killed in the Monday attack, while the other was arrested.
The attack occurred after soldiers from the Beduin Desert Battalion spotted two suspects at a nearby gas station in the West Bank, some 150 meters from the crossing, and asked them to stop for a security check.
One of the suspects produced a knife and ignored warnings to lay down the weapon. Soldiers opened fire, striking and injuring him, while a second suspect was arrested.
The injured terrorist received medical aid on the scene. The assailant later succumbed to his wounds.
Monday’s attack was the third attack at the Gilboa crossing in the last ten days. On Saturday morning, a Defense Ministry Crossings Authority guard killed a Palestinian terrorist at the crossing.
According to a Defense Ministry spokesman, the incident occurred when a Palestinian terrorist ambushed a security guard after hiding behind a taxi.
The security guard was combing the area when the terrorist began running toward the officer holding a weapon in his hand. After ordering the assailant to stop several times, the officer readied his weapon and killed the suspect.
Following the incident, the IDF closed the crossing to all traffic. The attack came one week after a Palestinian youth posing as a candy vendor tried to stab a security guard in the same location, before being shot dead.
Separately in Hebron, the Judea and Samaria police with the help of the IDF arrested a Palestinian man after they found a rile and a shotgun in his home. (Jerusalem Post)
Danon to Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon: Root out hypocrisy towards Israel at UN
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon called on UN secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to root out hypocrisy from within the UN bodies during their first official meeting at UN headquarters in New York on Monday.
“We demand that hypocrisy and hostility towards Israel be rooted out from the UN organizations,” said Danon. “The Israeli public sees the United Nations as a non-objective organization with a bias against Israel.”
“We must build bridges between Israel and the UN and show Israel’s true face to the world as a whole,” Danon added.
Ban visited Israel in late October to discuss the recent wave of terror that had swept over the region.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN Secretary General in their meeting last month that if the international community truly wants to help end the current bloodshed, it should affirm Israel’s proven commitment to the status quo on the Temple Mount, support Israel’s right of self-defense, and hold PA President Mahmoud Abbas accountable for his dangerous incitement.
Ban urged the government to do its utmost to calm down the situation, and said he welcomed statements by Netanyahu, other ministers and prominent rabbis about maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount.
“We must create the conditions for meaningful negotiations that will end the occupation and realize the aspirations of both peoples. The only way to end this conflict is through negotiations that produce visible, meaningful results. Unilateral actions from either side will only perpetuate a downward spiral,” said Ban at the time. (Jerusalem Post)
Final score: Dershowitz 137, BDS 101
Lawyer, academic, and political commentator Professor Alan Dershowitz won over a packed debate on BDS at the Oxford Union, with the motion ‘Is the BDS movement against Israel wrong?’ being carried with 137 votes to 101.
The lively event on Sunday night pitted Dershowitz against British human rights activist Peter Tatchell, who has campaigned on various issues and notably attempted to commit a citizen’s arrest on Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe in 2001.
Adopting a strong line against the movement’s leadership, Dershowitz argued that “BDS will absolutely not bring peace. If the BDS movement is desirous of peace, then why will its leaders not debate me?” Asked about the lack of official representative from the BDS National Committee, Oxford University responded that “it is the Union’s policy never to comment on our invitation process.” The BDS National Committee were unavailable for comment.
In an interview Dershowitz made clear he came to the debate well aware that as somebody talking in favor of Israel he was by no means guaranteed to be successful.
“I was told in no uncertain terms that I wouldn’t win a debate in the Oxford Union because Israel generally loses,” said Dershowitz, who emphasized that the basis for his criticism of the movement stemmed from advocating neither for the Israeli government nor its policies, but the aims of the BDS movement.
In his view, “BDS is not an alternative to war as Tatchell said, but rather an alternative to negotiations for the Palestinians. The message to the Palestinian cause is clear, you don’t have to negotiate with Israel, you’ll get a state through external intervention.”
Peter Tatchell told the Post that despite Dershowitz’s assertions he was not an official representative of BDS per se, “it’s very important to remember that BDS is not a single unified campaign, even among Palestinians.”
“As I made clear in the debate, I support BDS with a somewhat heavy heart. For me it is a last resort because I can see no prospect of the Israeli government voluntarily agreeing to pull out of the West Bank and dismantle the settlements,” Tatchell said.
In his eyes, “BDS is a peaceful, nonviolent attempt to secure Israel’s withdrawal from the territories taken in 1967 and to secure a Palestinian homeland. I see it as an alternative to war and armed struggle in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.”
Tatchell’s response to the commonly touted accusation that BDS is a movement with an anti-Semitic element, was to state that “neither myself nor any of the people I know who support BDS are in any way anti-Semitic nor deny the right of Jewish people to live in peace with equality and security in the Middle East. Nearly all of us support a two-state solution that includes Israel.” (Jerusalem Post)
EU to publish guidelines on the consumer labeling of settlement products
The European Union is expected to publish in the next few weeks its long anticipated guidelines on the consumer labeling of Israeli products produced over the pre-1967 lines, in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
The impending EU labeling of what it calls “settlement products” has been a contentious issue between Brussels and Jerusalem since 2012.
Late Monday night an Israeli diplomatic official said, “We expect the guidelines to be published soon, possibly within days.”
The official added, “We’re trying to convince the European Union and its member states that this is a mistake. It has an element of discrimination to it and does not in any way help the diplomatic process.”
The official took issue with the publication of the guidelines at time when the Palestinian leadership refuses to hold direct talks with Israel and when Palestinian assailants have killed 11 Israelis and wounded over 100 in a series of some 60 attacks since October 1.
“If anything the publication of these guidelines now, gives the Palestinians a prize for their terrorism and obstinance. It also supports the overall atmosphere of Israeli boycotts,” the official said.
The guidelines, to be published out of Brussels under the guidance of the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, do not need to be put to a vote.
The document simply puts together already existing guidelines and legislation with regard to “settlement products.” It is designed to help EU member states understand what the law is with regard to the labeling of such products.
The EU considers Jewish communities over the pre-1967 lines in east Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the West Bank to be illegal.
For over a decade, Israeli products produced over the pre-1967 lines have been excempt from Israel’s free trade agreement with the EU. Codes have been placed on the products to allow EU custom official to properly determined if the products were produced within the Green Line or over it.
These guidelines would provide European consumers in stores with that same information.
Under pressure from the United States, the EU backed away from its push to publish the settlement guidelines during the nine-month negotiations period brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry that ended without any results in April 2014.
Since then the peace process has been frozen. All attempts to bring the two sides together have failed. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to resume direct talks immediately without any preconditions.
Abbas has refused to hold such talks unless Israel agrees to withdraw to the pre-1967 lines and to stop all Jewish building in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
On Tuesday Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely is expected to head to the Barkan Industrial Park in the Samaria region of the West Bank to speak against settlement product labeling.
On Sunday Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein also attacked product labeling a special meeting int he Knesset with the Samaria Regional Council and a visiting delegation of Italian Jews.
The information about the pending publication of EU guidelines for settlement products comes just one week before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to travel to Washington DC to meet with US President Barack Obama.
On Monday, Army Radio said that in advance of that trip, the Jerusalem Municipality has agreed not to publish building permits for Jewish and Arab construction over the pre-1967 lines in the country’s capital. It noted in particular that approval for permits to allow for additional construction in the contentious Ramat Shlomo neighborhood had been removed from the agenda of Wednesday municipal planning and construction committee.
The Jerusalem Municipality denied the report and said that construction would continue unabated throughout the capital.
“The Jerusalem municipality continues to advance construction throughout the city for all populations,” it said in a statement. It added, “The plans will be presented later.”
Initial plans for that neighborhood first hit the headlines during a 2010 visit to Israel by US Vice President Joseph Biden and created a major diplomatic row with Washington. Two years later, the Interior Ministry’s Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee ratified the plan. (Jerusalem Post)
Looters desecrate Holocaust victims’ graves
Looters have desecrated mass graves at the Sobibor death camp in southeast Poland, museum sources revealed Monday, apparently in a bid to find treasure buried with Holocaust victims.
A large archaeological project has been underway at the camp for the past two years, the source said, “but when we started excavating we discovered that people had already been digging near to where the gas chamber had been in Camp Three.”
“We found lots of pits which were nothing to do with us and clearly weren’t professionally dug by scientists,” the source said to the British Daily Mail. “We don’t know who did it, but we suspect they were looking for gold or metal.”
“The idea that thieves have been here looking for such disturbing mementos is truly shocking.”
Personal items recovered in archaeological excavations at death camps have included, among other things, gold fillings and silver dentures.
More than 250,000 people were murdered at Sobibor between March 1942 and October 1943. (Arutz Sheva)
On average, one person killed every day on Israeli roads
On average over the past year, traffic accidents have led to one fatality and 64 injuries daily, the road safety organization Or Yarok revealed on Monday.
With 298 Israelis dying in road accidents since the beginning of the year – in comparison to 261 over the same period last year – the number of fatalities has increased by 14 percent since last year. The 64 traffic-related injuries that on average occur daily amount to about three people hurt every hour.
Or Yarok released the data on the occasion of National Road Safety Day, which occurs on Tuesday.
“How many more people need to die until someone in the Transportation Ministry wakes up and realizes that human life takes precedence over everything?” asked Or Yarok CEO Shmuel Aboav. “The reduction in funds that the Transportation Ministry allocates to road safety is the cause of the rise in number of fatalities for the third year in a row.
“Therefore, we must strengthen police enforcement, take care of dangerous roads and intersections and provide education on road safety to all children, from kindergarten through the receipt of a driver’s license.”
Looking at accidents involving pedestrians in particular, the Or Yarok data indicated that, once every three days on average, a pedestrian is killed in a road accident, while nine pedestrians are injured daily.
During the first 10 months of 2015 alone, more roadside fatalities occurred than during the entire year of 2012, according to Or Yarok.
From the beginning of 2015 through now, 79 drivers and 63 passengers were killed, as opposed to 64 and 46 respectively during the same period the year before, the data said. Thus far this year, 46 motorcyclists, 14 bicyclists and 91 pedestrians were killed in traffic fatalities, in comparison to 32, 8 and 104 respectively during the year before.
In response to the report, the Transportation Ministry said that the number of road fatalities stands at approximately 300 annually, a number that is 50% percent lower than the figure recorded a decade ago. The country is continuing to experience “a constant trend of declining road accidents,” a statement from the ministry said.
“The Transportation Ministry has made the war against traffic accidents a primary goal,” the statement continued.
“The annual budget invested in fighting traffic accidents amounts to billions of shekels and includes, among other things, building new roads, constructing interchanges, developing safety infrastructure, constructing safety barriers and markings along the roads, pedestrian bridges and more. All of these are life-saving projects of the first rate.”
In addition, the ministry added, each year hundreds of millions of shekels are invested in urban safety promotion, public transportation improvements, police and administrative enforcement, education and advocacy. (Jerusalem Post)
Recent Palestinian violence is just another example of worldwide Islamic terror
Don’t blame latest terror wave on breakdown of peace talks. These terrorists cannot be appeased. Their aim is death to the infidels — to the Jews and the ‘Crusaders.’
By Moshe Arens Ha’aretz
Are we witnessing another intifada or just part of the worldwide jihad? Does it make any difference what we call it? The name may not matter but understanding the roots of the latest wave of violence can provide the key to dealing with it effectively.
Many commentators claim that the recent upsurge in violence is an expression of frustration and impatience with the lack of progress in negotiations between Israel and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. That it is in effect a third intifada that might very well spread and grow more violent in the future. The conclusion to be drawn from this assumption is that Israel needs to make dramatic moves that will provide a “political horizon” and an indication of the concessions that Israel is prepared to make. Such moves should presumably include the cessation of building activity in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem, and renewed expression of Israel’s readiness to support a “two-state” solution.
The well known French-Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy takes a different view. “It is highly doubtful”, he writes in The Algemeiner, that intifada is the right term to apply to acts that bear more resemblance to the latest installment of a worldwide jihad of which Israel is just one stage.” Those who have seen on Youtube a recent sermon by the preacher Muhammad Salah, delivered at the Al Abrar Mosque in the Gaza city of Rafah, might tend to agree with him. Brandishing a knife in front of the microphone, he calls to “my brothers in the West Bank, stab! Plunge this knife into the belly of your enemies. Cut them into body parts.” To the Jews he says, “you have come here of your own volition to be slaughtered in our land.” Probably not many Israelis have watched this sermon, but no doubt many Palestinians have seen it, and possibly some of those who stabbed Jews in the streets of Jerusalem were inspired by it.
The preacher in the Gaza Strip is obviously not seeking a two-state solution. It is likely that those who are inspired by him or by similar sermons held in other mosques who go out to stab Jews or run them over in the street are not doing so because they have lost hope in the peace efforts chaperoned by John Kerry. It may even be that the status quo on the Temple Mount is of little interest to them.
If that is the case then Levy may very well be right. What we have seen on the streets of Jerusalem in recent weeks is just another chapter of the wave of radical Islamic terror that has attacked targets around the world during the last few years. The perpetrators are inspired by the gruesome decapitations carried out by ISIS in front of television cameras in Syria and Iraq. The knife wielders in Hebron are probably longing for the “good old days” when their ancestors butchered the Jewish community there with knives and hatchets in 1929. These terrorists cannot be appeased. Their aim is death to the infidels — to the Jews and the “Crusaders”.
The efforts being made to prove that the status quo on the Temple Mount has not been altered is of little interest to them. The installation of cameras on the Temple Mount is not going to appease them. They believe that not only should Jews not be allowed to pray there, but they should not be allowed to be there at all, and moreover that there is no place for Jews in this land. The resumption of negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas may please Kerry and may relieve some of the pressure from King Abdullah II in Amman, but it is not going to placate those brandishing knives in the streets of Jerusalem and Hebron.
The answer to their kind of murderous activity is the same all over the world: effective police work and constant alertness on the part of the civilian population. Fortunately, in both these areas Israel excels.
Distinguishing between friend and foe
Israel, not Iran, is America’s natural ally
By Gary Bauer The Washington Times
Since Israel repelled its Soviet-sponsored Arab aggressors in the 1967 and 1973 wars, a strong U.S.-Israeli alliance has been a cornerstone of America’s national security strategy in the Middle East. The Obama administration’s undermining of that relationship to facilitate a rapprochement with Iran has emboldened enemies of the West and the values for which it stands.
Trying to turn over a new leaf with an old enemy has only resulted in a more hostile Islamic republic. The Obama administration’s retreat from the Middle East has encouraged Iranian aggression, threatened regional stability and undermined American national security interests. In addition, President Obama’s tilt toward Tehran has frayed longstanding allied relationships, upset the traditional balance of power and infected the democratic community with defeatism. Only those who oppose Western values and human rights are celebrating.
Moreover, the perception of capitulation by a previously influential superpower has caused a ripple effect through the region, eviscerating any sense that the world order is backed by the United States. Although the Obama administration claims that it remains fundamentally important for the United States to prevent Iran from advancing its hegemonic ambitions, it has done almost nothing to demonstrate seriousness about stopping a new alignment of dangerous actors — with Iran as the fulcrum — from dominating the region. Russia’s buildup of forces in Syria to bolster the Assad regime is merely the latest stinging American defeat. A Middle East more concerned about consequences from Russia, rather than the United States, will continue to sink the region into chaos.
The framework for the Obama administration’s outreach to Iran was morally and strategically flawed. Iran provided no grounds to believe that it would radically transform. On the contrary, the regime’s militant Islamic creed demonstrated increasing disdain for Western civility during the nuclear talks, not less. The longer the United States flirted with the clerical regime’s architects, the more it endorsed a bigoted ideology and strengthened a regime devoted to diluting its influence. When Israel and other opponents of the deal with Iran tried to be proactive, rather than passive in the face of Iranian aggression, the Obama administration distorted their legitimate strategic argument and constrained their operability.
Increasingly, Israel has become the object of withering criticism from the Obama administration and unfriendly groups, which find Israel’s triumph over autocracies and guerrilla forces offensive to their sensibilities. Such is the commitment of the administration to the cause of progressivism that it supports the status quo in Iran, but finds the status quo in Israel unacceptable.
There is something shameful about the Obama administration’s failure to distinguish between democracies that share American interests and dictatorships that wage war against the West. The notion that one could be censorious confronting Israel’s liberal and democratic standards but tolerate Iran’s theocratic prejudices is offensive to true Western sensibilities. The president’s double standard is morally inconsistent with the defense of democracy and strategically insensible regarding the national interest.
No relationship is in more urgent need of repair than that with Israel, which remains a credible foil to Iran’s growing danger. The United States can and should work harder to support Israel against radical Islam. A vision of moral clarity should guide American policy toward terrorism. In the absence of such a framework, one should expect enhanced determination on the part of Iran and its clients to exploit the intentions of the Obama administration, and promote greater violence and instability.
As a liberal democracy, Israel’s greatest strength is that it continuously examines its weaknesses — ensuring more freedom, opportunity and success than its neighbors. Pursuing Western norms has aided Israel to punch above its weight in many categories, especially economically and militarily, making it a force multiplier for America in the Middle East. That should inspire any policymaker not only to maintain, but to strengthen the alliance.
Mr. Obama is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November. The president should drop all pretense of (misplaced) moral superiority and make clear how he plans to mend ties. To allay Israel’s concerns of a nuclear-armed Iran — and to restore regional deterrence against a rising hegemon — the United States could provide Israel with military hardware capable of attacking Iranian nuclear facilities with a degree of confidence. At worst, America will have regained a friend, and Iran will know the limit of its transgressions. At best, it will send a message to those who would foment instability that the United States stands firmly on the side of those who promote, and practice, the values for which we stand.
Iranian leaders imagine a world without America. Their blueprints for destruction run through the one and only Jewish state. Critics of Israel shouldn’t deceive themselves: The abandonment of Israel threatens all of Western civilization.
- Gary Bauer, who served in President Ronald Reagan’s administration as undersecretary of education and chief domestic policy adviser, is the Washington director of the Christians United for Israel Action Fund.
A year after Gaza war, Israel’s military experts wonder: Was it worth it?
Then-IDF chief Benny Gantz blandly defends operation against Hamas as ‘the right thing to do,’ but joins chorus concluding it achieved little
By Judah Ari Gross The Times of Israel
Over a year has passed since summer’s 2014’s campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and though Operation Protective Edge has drawn little harsh criticism in Israel, even the IDF chief of staff who orchestrated it has little to say to its credit.
At a conference titled “From Protective Edge to the Third Intifada,” past members of the defense establishment, researchers and politicians gathered Monday at Sderot’s Sapir College to discuss the 2014 war and its relevance a year later. The consensus: Operation Protective Edge was well executed, but accomplished little.
Former IDF Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, who served as chief of staff during the operation, delivered the keynote address at the event, which the Tel Aviv University-affiliate Institute for National Security Studies organized. But even he, as the campaign’s executor, if not architect, offered a relatively bland defense of the operation.
“It was the right thing to do at in the right time,” Gantz said dispassionately.
The former IDF chief, who served from 2011 to 2015, praised the Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip for having remained steadfast and strong during the operation.
He also lauded the efforts of the prime minister, the defense minister, the IDF and the Shin Bet security service, but admitted, “Protective Edge is not something that I’m in love with.”
Gantz even cast doubts on the efficacy of the operation, warning that Hamas was “rearming and trying to recreate its abilities.”
Gantz was not alone in expressing ambivalence towards the operation, in which 72 Israelis and approximately 2,000 Palestinians died. Enough time had passed since the 50-day military campaign to allow the presenters to utter once taboo ideas.
Dr. Yom-Tov Samia, who led the IDF’s Southern Command in the early 2000s before becoming a counter-terrorism researcher at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herzliya, was perhaps the most provocative. Samia criticized the 72 medals of honor awarded to soldiers for their service during the operation, calling it “absurd.”
“When you have an operation, in which its impact is not yet clear and its achievements are still a question mark, as a military man, I have a problem with giving out 72 medals of honor,” Samia said.
None of the IDF’s actions in Gaza before Operation Protective Edge, including Operation Hot Winter in 2008, Cast Lead in 2009 and Pillar of Defense in 2012, prevented the operation that succeeded it, he said. So too the 2014 war won’t prevent a future military incursion into the Strip, Samia presumed. Should the tendency of a one-to-three year cooling off period between actions hold true, he said, Israel can expect the next Gaza operation to occur in 2016 or 2017.
But while Samia sees this never-ending cycle of violence as a futile and Sisyphean exercise, deputy director of INSS Udi Dekel described Israel’s need to periodically strike terror groups in the Gaza Strip as the best possible solution for handling the territory.
The alternative, Dekel explained, would involve either completely taking over the Gaza Strip, toppling Hamas and accepting full responsibility for the population, or completely disengaging from Gaza, sealing the border entirely, cutting off electricity, water and sewage lines, but allowing the population to build a port or whatever other infrastructure they desire so long as it is not used to smuggle in weapons that can be used against Israel.
Neither of these extremes would be particularly beneficial to Israel, Dekel told the dozens of students, researchers and journalists who attended the conference. The former would be far too demanding and near impossible to carry out well. The latter, meanwhile, would leave Israel vulnerable to an unchecked enemy.
‘The better things are in the Gaza Strip, the better our chances that the quiet will remain for longer’
Instead, the government and military must continue with their policy of not intervening in Gaza, until they have no other choice. In the meantime, Dekel said, that means encouraging the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, despite knowing that some of the building materials will wind up going to Hamas bunkers and tunnels.
“The better things are in the Gaza Strip, the better our chances that the quiet will remain for longer,” he said.
Dekel also shattered the taboo against speaking frankly and openly about the benefits Israel enjoys from keeping Hamas in power in the Gaza Strip. “Though Hamas is an enemy, and a dangerous enemy at that, it’s better to have one enemy with one address, than having a whole bunch of addresses,” Dekel explained.
Amos Yadlin, executive director of INSS and the man who would have been defense minister had Labor won the March elections, reinforced this pointed during his address. “I have a surprise for you about Hamas: They’re our weakest enemy, our weakest enemy. They’re not Hezbollah or Iran or Syria,” he said.
If Israel got rid of Hamas, Dekel argued, it would leave a vacuum that would be filled by multiple extremist groups, which would present a logistical nightmare for the IDF.
Now, for instance, regardless of which group actually fires a rocket into southern Israel, the air force strikes Hamas positions. Hamas, realizing this, is forced to act as sheriff in the Gaza Strip, stopping other terrorist groups from carrying out attacks. Without Hamas, that onus of responsibility would instead fall on Israel.
So when politicians say that we need to destroy Hamas, Dekel added, “it’s more about appearances than what is actually happening.”
Attorney Gilead Sher, who helped lead negotiations with the Palestinians at the Camp David summit in 2000, spoke after Dekel and attempted to provide a sense of optimism.
“Conflicts more difficult than ours with the Palestinians have been solved,” Sher said.
What’s important is that Israel renew negotiations, he said. “Even interim agreements are OK. We don’t need to solve everything in one shot,” he added.
This information is compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman, Board Member of the Zionist Council of NSW