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Latest News in Israel – 18th February

Palestinian Voices for Peace (VIDEO)

The wave of terror directed against Israelis by Palestinians certainly harms Israelis. It hurts the victims, mostly civilians, and their families. It also frightens most Israelis, making them feel less secure. Yet arguably, this Palestinian violence harms the Palestinians much more. This is not merely the rhetoric of pro-Israel advocates. Rather, a growing number of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs are bravely making these observations. They are fearlessly speaking out for the sake of their own people, whose future, they believe, is seriously jeopardized by the return to terrorism.

“The Palestinian leadership has not yet internalized the bitter consequences of our fruitless terrorist attacks against Israel,” writes Palestinian scholar Bassam Tawil, explaining that this leadership “uses its media to spread false propaganda about knives, stone-throwing and car ramming attacks, along with threats of another intifada…We keep making the awful and perhaps irreparable mistake of educating our children, generation after generation, to hate the Jews and Israelis and to want to destroy the State of Israel.”

All this, he believes, is leading to a dead end.

“We should have understood a long time ago,” Tawil writes, “that Jews exist in Palestine, that they are here to stay forever, and that murdering them in the streets is not going to change anything. The time has come to try creating — for the first time in history — a peaceful and demilitarized Palestinian state, which the Israelis have indicated for decades they would be all too happy to help us achieve. I hope and pray we are not already too late.”

Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid, founder of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, grew up in the refugee township of Shuafat in eastern Jerusalem. He is outspoken against Israeli policies, but more so against the human rights abuses by the Palestinian Authority (PA). He opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, because in his view, “It only ends up harming the Palestinians themselves.” He cites the closing of the SodaStream factory in the West Bank as an example.

“I’ve met with Palestinians who worked at the factory and were fired because of the move,” he says. “They told me they were earning an average of NIS 5,000 ($1,287) a month there, and that today they are being offered salaries of just NIS 1,400 ($360) in the PA…[they are] deep in debt because they have taken on long-term commitments based on the understanding that their work at the plant would continue. Do you think the boycott movement cares about them at all?”

This concern for his people carries over to the spate of violence. Eid writes, “We Palestinians appear to have no responsible leaders… instead of calming the violence, [they] are fanning its flames. This wave of violence will not help the Palestinians’ economic situation. It will not help our ability to convince anyone, let alone Israelis, that we deserve a state. And it will not help grow our civil society which we badly need to do if we are to ever be taken seriously as a peace partner.”

Turning his gaze to Israeli-Arab Members of Knesset, he states, “Sadly, the incitement does not stop in the Palestinian territories. Even our Arab representatives at the Israeli parliament (the Knesset) are inciting Palestinians to engage in violence.”

These Palestinian voices for peace are accompanied by some Israeli-Arab voices. Meanwhile, Lucy Aharish, an Israeli-Arab Muslim and a Hebrew-language presenter on Israeli TV, echoes this sentiment. Israeli-Arab politicians, she tells Israeli viewers, are “adding fire to the environment and instead of understanding that once it calms down, we (Israeli Arabs) will be the ones to pay the high price.” In frustration, she asks, “What woman puts on a hijab and prays to God, takes a knife out from her purse and tries to stab innocent people? I don’t understand this. I can’t justify it in any way. I can’t accept it. Not even excuses of frustration. You (Arab leaders) are inciting thousands of young people to go to the streets, you are destroying their future with your own hands!”

Father Gabriel Naddaf of Nazareth is a Greek Orthodox priest who defines himself as an “Arabic-speaking Christian.” Naddaf was aghast when the PA issued a statement calling terrorist Nashat Melhem a “hero” after he murdered two Israeli Jews and an Israeli Arab on New Year’s Day. “This kind of glorification of death,” he writes, “is what feeds terrorism and the world needs to understand that the political and ideological narratives that support terrorism are wholly responsible for the deaths of innocent people around the world. In Israel and in Europe alike.”

Unfortunately, and tragically, these voices of peace and compromise are drowned out by extremists. Hamas envisions an Islamic state replacing Israel, while targeting Israeli civilians for terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, the ill-fated PA continues to incite Palestinian youths to violence, naming schools, parks, and streets after Palestinian terrorist “martyrs” and paying salaries derived from foreign aid to terrorists in Israeli prisons.

For the sake of a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians alike, these Palestinian and Arab voices for peace should be heard, supported, and amplified by the US, the European Union, the United Nations and everyone concerned for a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians. Now, before it is too late.       (the Algemeiner )

Senior Palestinian official calls on Jews to ‘return to country of origin’

Palestinian Authority envoy to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Ibrahim Khreisheh, said that all Jews living in Israel “should all return to their country of origin,” according to The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

In an interview with Palestinian Authority TV earlier this month, Khreisheh posited that Jews are not indigenous to the land of Israel, and their presence today is a product of years-long colonization.

Khreisheh begins by stating: “Our problem is that the Jews came to Palestine from outside the region, colonized it, and established their own state.”

He then adds that there is a chronicled history of Palestinian subjugation by Jews, citing the book of Exodus, the subsequent takeover of the “Promised Land,” and Israel’s modern efforts to “colonize” the West Bank.

“This ‘Promised Land’ within Israel is not large enough for them, and they have begun to take over our lands in the West Bank, with their settlements.”

Khreisheh then adds that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comments in late January, in which he suggested that Russia was “ready to accept” Jews back into his country, was “an important message” because it potentially provided a precedent which could lead all Jews out of Israel.

Putin made the comments while speaking at an event with Dr. Moshe Vyacheslav Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, in the Kremlin. Putin reacted to reports of stark increases in anti-Semitic violence by stating that Jews “should come here, to Russia. They left the Soviet Union; now they should come back.”

“It may be useful to consider asking many countries- Arab countries, European countries and other foreign countries- to allow Jews to return to their former lands and homes,” Khreisheh said.

“Then we, the Palestinians, will return to be the way we were,” he added.            (Jerusalem Post)

Wall Street Journal Columnist Says Israel ‘Diversifying Partnerships,’ Joining Sunni States in ‘Disenchanted With America’ Alliance

The United States “not being itself” is what’s new in the Middle East, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal foreign affairs columnist Bret Stephens.

Stephens, the Journal’s deputy editorial page editor and a former Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief, was describing his recent trip to Israel, where he “spent the better part of a week talking to senior officials, journalists, intellectuals and politicians from across Israel’s political spectrum.”

And though, he said (in his Feb. 15 piece titled “Israel Looks Beyond America”) his conversations about the downward spiral in relations with America were off the record, “[T]he consistent theme is that, while the Jewish state still needs the U.S., especially in the form of military aid, it also needs to diversify its strategic partnerships.”

Stephens pointed to a new wave of high-level Israeli meetings with Arab and other world leaders as an illustration of what he was told and sensed while in the Holy Land:

On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon publicly shook hands with former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal at the Munich Security Conference. In January, Israeli cabinet member Yuval Steinitz made a trip to Abu Dhabi, where Israel is opening an office at a renewable-energy association. Turkey is patching up ties with Israel. In June, Jerusalem and Riyadh went public with the strategic talks between them. In March, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi told the Washington Post that he speaks to Mr. Netanyahu “a lot.”

What struck Stephens about this shift was different from the more common response in Israel and abroad about the unlikely bedfellows that Israel and former enemy states made. Rather, he wrote, “This de facto Sunni-Jewish alliance amounts to what might be called the coalition of the disenchanted; states that have lost faith in America’s promises.”

The loss of America’s global standing is but one reason that Stephens has been consistently critical of the Obama administration since its inception. Others abound, such as its constantly being wrong where its predictions in relation to Israel and the Middle East are concerned, according to Stephens.

Stephens concluded: “More than one Israeli official I spoke with recalled that the country managed to survive the years before 1967 without America’s strategic backing, and if necessary it could do so again. Nations that must survive typically do. The more important question is how much credibility the U.S. can afford to squander before the loss becomes irrecoverable.”                 (the Algemeiner )

Elliott Abrams: US Mideast policy will be more assertive under next president

The next US presidential administration will be compelled to listen to its allies and enact a more assertive foreign policy, Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow for the Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Monday night at a speech to the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem.

“Whoever is president will start out listening to Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Poles, Czechs, South Korea… and will hear the need for more assertive policy,” said Abrams, who served in the George W. Bush administration as deputy National Security Adviser and was an assistant secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan.

Long regarded as a Washington insider with close ties to the Republican party, he began his Washington career under the hard-nosed democrat Henry “Scoop” Jackson in the 1970s.

In a wide-ranging discussion on US policy in the Middle East, relations with Israel and the upcoming US elections, Abrams was optimistic that the next administration would learn from the mistakes of the last seven years but warned people to prepare for the unexpected.

“No one was talking about [Bernie] Sanders or [Donald] Trump” in June of 2015, he recalled, attributing their rise to a global phenomenon in Western democracies that also has led to the ascent of Marine Le Pen in France and Jeremy Corbyn in England. American voters “do not love foreign entanglements, but also don’t love losing,” he asserted.

This election season in the US has confounded foreign policy experts, as a surge of populist resentment has brought candidates like Republican billionaire Trump and Democratic Vermont Senator Sanders into the limelight.

He predicted that Israel stands to benefit from whoever wins in the next election, because the lack of assertiveness of US President Barack Obama’s administration will likely result in a swing back toward the center.

There will be increased US military spending, and almost every major adviser to candidates on the Right, as well as Hillary Clinton are more hawkish, he said laying much of the blame for the situation at the feet of Secretary of State John Kerry.

“George Schultz would not have reacted as Kerry did to US personnel being captured by Iran,” he said, a day after attending an Israel Democracy Institute dinner in Jerusalem honoring the former secretary of state.

Abrams pointed to Kerry as being the architect of the current Iran deal and putting pressure Israel, and was also most pointed in his criticism of Obama on his Syria strategy, arguing that the US president’s “immoral” and dismissive policy toward the Syrian rebels resulted in the Russian intervention and Bashar Assad remaining in power. Abrams forecast that both these policies would be changed in the future.

“What do we do about a rising Iran?” the former official asked. “It’s not going away. The US Jewish community will be united in urging a tougher attitude to Iran.”

A new administration may not throw away the Iran deal, but will take a hardline on any cheating, he said.

Regarding Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Abrams admonished Israelis not to assume that the US will impose a solution or solve Israel’s problems.

“Under the next president, look for an improved situation for the West Bank [Palestinian] economy; increased Palestinian autonomy; improved relations between the US and Israel; seeing if the Arab states can do more for the Palestinians. We are approaching the end of the Mahmoud Abbas era… succession fights are a bad moment for comprehensive [peace] schemes, we have to see who rises and who falls.”

During a Q&A session, one audience member asked if that meant the US might acquiesce to Israel annexing part of the West Bank, but Abrams threw cold water on that scenario.

“There is a broad consensus for two-states… there should be an agreed settlement, don’t look to Washington for a hechsher on annexation,” he said, using the Hebrew term for a seal of kosher certification.

Abrams was comfortable in front of the audience, which consisted of academics, journalists and former Israeli security and diplomatic pashas.

Former ambassador to the US, Sallai Meridor, who spoke after Abrams, expressed concern that, in a US election year, Israel might become a partisan issue. Both Meridor and Abrams recalled having been unaware of who the young Senator Obama was before he became a rising star – evidence of how quick political fortunes can shift.

Abrams argued that Israel is an extremely strong position in the Middle East at the moment, saying “[Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-] Sisi could be gone in five years or two, Jordan is weakened…”

Despite the sometimes contentious political relationship between the two countries in recent years, Abrams said support for Israel was at an all time high in the US.

“For Republicans and conservatives, Israel is a pillar of their belief about the world and there is only some erosion in support in the Democratic party but not at high levels,” he said. Even Sanders, who rarely discusses his Jewishness, was evidence of the low levels of anti-semitism in the US, a success story of assimilation in the sense, according to Abrams, who said the year ahead still hold challenges if Trump becomes the Republican nominee or if there is a major terrorist attack.

“Buckle your seat belt and try to enjoy the ride,” he said.                     (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu in Berlin calls French plan ‘surprising’ as Merkel puts brakes on diplomatic efforts

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received some unexpected support Tuesday from German Chancellor Angela Merkel for his pessimistic prognosis of the peace process, with Merkel acknowledging that this is not the time for comprehensive progress.

Merkel’s comment came during a press conference in Berlin alongside Netanyahu, who characterized as “strange” a French peace initiative that calls for an international peace conference, and – if that fails – recognition by Paris of a Palestinian state.

“We in the EU and in Germany are trying to see things realistically,” Merkel said, when asked whether, following the killing of hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East, it “wasn’t time to admit that Palestinian terrorism has nothing to do with settlements and the so-called ‘occupation.’” “We recognize the terrorism threat that Israel must face, and on the other hand we want to promote a process of living together in peace, based on two states for two peoples,” she said.

Merkel said she discussed with Netanyahu during their meeting possible future steps. Though acknowledging that “this is not the time for progress,” she said it is possible to “improve things in certain areas,” and said that Germany in particular would help in areas of economic development.

Netanyahu, in Berlin with four of his ministers and three directors-general to take part in the sixth Israel-Germany government-to-government meeting, applauded Merkel’s position on the diplomatic process during remarks to Israeli journalists.

“This is a realistic approach to the situation in our region,” he said.

“I hear the same thing from leading statesman around the world. I heard the same thing from [US President Barack] Obama, and now from Merkel.

I also heard it from the chairman of the opposition [Zionist Union MK Isaac Herzog]. Therefore, what is needed is to stabilize the situation on the ground alongside a stable economy.”

Netanyahu told the press conference it was “strange” for the French to say in advance they would recognize a Palestinian state if the peace conference fails without knowing whether that state may turn into yet another dictatorship in the region; whether that state “really intended to end the conflict” with Israel and “recognize the ‘state of the Jews;’ and without knowing if there will be security arrangements in that state to prevent Hamas, Islamic State or both from taking over land from which Israel might withdraw.

“Obviously this ensures that a conference will fail,” Netanyahu said.

“Because if the Palestinians know that their conditions will be accepted a priori, and they don’t have to do anything [to compromise], then certainly there is an internal contradiction and they will not do anything.”

Netanyahu said the only way to promote peace was “through negotiations without preconditions, directly between the two sides. That is the real way, and anyone who tries to divert from that path will not advance successful negotiations.”

Netanyahu’s comments came within hours of French ambassador Patrick Maisonnave’s meeting in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem with Alon Ushpiz, the ministry’s deputy director-general for political affairs, and presenting him with details of the French plan.

The plan calls for the convening of a peace conference in Paris in the summer.

This meeting is to be preceded by a meeting of an international support group, without Israeli and Palestinian participation.

Maisonnave issued a statement saying the purpose was to discuss the “objectives and the method” of the French proposal, with the goal being the relaunch of the negotiation process between the parties, “with the actual support of the international community.”

Maisonnave said a special envoy, Pierre Vimont, has been appointed to deal with the matter, and that consultations with Israeli officials will continue in the coming weeks.

Regarding his recent conversation with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, and understandings between them meant to “reset” Israel’s ties with the EU, Netanyahu said Israel “must be treated fairly.”

“We are not the root of the problem in the Middle East; we are part of the solution,” he said.

“If Israel were not there, the Middle East would be inundated. The entire western part of the Middle East would be flooded by the forces of radical Islam and many more millions would ride this flood to Europe. Israel is a defensive shield of Western civilization in the heart of the Middle East.”

Merkel said that despite differences between Israel and the EU, it was important to keep the channels of communication open.

“We agree that Israel, Europe and Germany are facing the same challenges, and we had our talks in this spirit, and discussed how to fight Islamic State and how it is possible to stop the terrorist threat.”

During the meeting Netanyahu asked for German assistance – as it has provided in the past –in retrieving the bodies of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin from Hamas in Gaza.

During his prepared statement at the press conference, Netanyahu noted that the cooperation between the two countries was testament to a “unique relationship” whose significance goes “far and beyond the confines of this hall.”

The Israeli-German relationship, he said, “doesn’t only bring tangible benefits to both our countries, it also gives hope to all of mankind.

It’s an example of how, despite the unparalleled horrors of the past, our two peoples have forged a unique and constructive friendship. And I believe that this offers hope for the entire world.”

Before leaving Berlin to fly back to Israel, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, were accompanied by Merkel on a tour of the Yad Vashem art exhibition currently on display at the German Historical Museum, featuring 100 works of art created between 1939 and 1945 in the concentration camps, ghettos and places of hiding. Merkel had already attended the opening of the exhibit.

Netanyahu said he appreciated Merkel’s gesture of accompanying him.

“We always said we will never forget the six million,” the prime minister said.

“But it is my responsibility to assure that we are never again left defenseless in the face of genocidal enemies.

And that is why I even more greatly appreciate the fact that you assist us in ensuring our ability to defend ourselves.”                 (Jerusalem Post)

Nasrallah threatens to bomb chemical facility, kill thousands of Israelis

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday insisted that although his group isn’t currently seeking war with Israel, it could defeat the Jewish state in a future conflict by targeting Haifa’s ammonia storage tanks, resulting in massive fatalities.

Dismissing recent reports of a possible outbreak of hostilities with Israel, Nasrallah said deterrence established by the terror organization in the first and second Lebanon wars was keeping Israeli aggression at bay.

“Israel’s psychological warfare is of no use against us,” he said in a speech that was broadcast by the Lebanese Naharnet news site.

As an example, Nasrallah said Israel “feared” the group’s cache of rockets capable of striking the ammonia facilities in Haifa, an attack that he said would result in casualties equivalent to those that would be caused by a nuclear attack.

He quoted an unnamed Israeli official to the effect that a strike on the northern city’s ammonia storage tanks would cause tens of thousands of fatalities.

“This would be exactly as a nuclear bomb, and we can say that Lebanon today has a nuclear bomb, seeing as any rocket that might hit these tanks is capable of creating a nuclear bomb effect,” he said, adding that Hezbollah, which has reportedly lost many of its men in the Syrian civil war, was continuing to boost its capabilities.

Hours after Nasrallah issued the explicit threat to strike Haifa, Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbai said he had ordered that the ammonia storage facility be moved to the Negev desert.

During his speech, the Hezbollah chief also accused Israel of behind-the-scenes intervention in Syria, speaking of an Israeli-Saudi-Turkish axis. He warned Saudi Arabia not to ally itself with Jerusalem over the conflict and slammed other Sunni states for moving closer to Israel.

“Do you accept a friend occupying Sunni land in Palestine? Can you become friends with an entity that has committed the most horrible massacres against the Sunni community?” he said.

“You are free to consider Iran an enemy, but how can you consider Israel a friend and ally? This issue must be confronted in a serious manner.

“It is beneficial to monitor the Israeli media to realize that the Israeli rhetoric has become identical to the rhetoric reflected in some Arab media, especially in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia,” Nasrallah charged.

His comments came on the heels of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call to Arab states with which Israel has covert ties to publicly acknowledge those relationships.

Addressing the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Sunday, the prime minister maintained that most moderate Arab countries see Israel as their ally, not their enemy, as they share a common struggle against Iran and the Islamic State.

Israel has long said there are secret back-channel talks between Jerusalem and Sunni states, however, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries maintain they will only normalize ties with the Jewish state once a peace deal is reached with the Palestinians via a two-state solution.                                 (The Times of Israel)

Stranger on Train in Israel Pays Crying IDF Soldier’s Utilities Bill After Electric Company Threatens to Shut Off Her Power

An IDF soldier who witnessed the kindness of a stranger towards a fellow young woman in uniform lauded the man’s generosity on Facebook, the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Tuesday.

Daniel Danino, a 19-year-old solder from Beersheva, recounted what she saw while traveling home from her base by train — another female soldier boarding, while weeping into her cellphone as she tried to talk the Israel Electric Corporation out of disconnecting her electricity due to an outstanding debt.

Danino, who was eavesdropping on the conversation, noticed a man also watching the distraught soldier try to figure out what to do. Suddenly, the man went over to her and not only offered to cover her NIS 1,950 (about $500) debt — but paid it on the spot.

“Friends, meet the angel, Ofir Yitzhak,” Danino posted on her page, next to a photo she took of him with her cellphone.

The man who doesn’t have Facebook, but does have the greatest soul I’ve ever come across! Today, during my usual routine, I get on the train that leaves Lod at 16:27 on the way home from the base, and I take a seat by the window, put on earphones and relax from the day. Suddenly, I hear a young soldier girl like myself, subsisting on a soldier’s salary – a soldier who is the only child of a single mother — who is begging the electric company not to cut off the electricity until her mother receives her financial aid check from national insurance… But they are impervious and disconnect her electricity anyway.

I get off the train with hope and faith in people. There are still those who do things for others without expecting anything in return. I was left with my mouth hanging open, speechless, and full of a sense of pride in being a part of this nation that galvanizes to help others during times of distress. Friends, share this post, so that it reaches people who know this amazing guy so they can be filled with pride as well.

In an interview with nrg following the posting of her moving anecdote, Danino said that it didn’t take 10 minutes for the guy to get up, take the girl’s phone and promptly pay her electricity bill with his credit card.

“So I got up and went over to him and said, ‘I cannot remain apathetic towards a person like you. I think people need to see and know that there are good people in this world, and learn from you about giving with love.’ And then I took a photo of him to post on Facebook,” Danino told nrg.

Ofir

Ofir Yitzhak, an Israeli who came to the aid of a female IDF soldier on a train.

Danino also said that a short time after posting the story, the goal of which she said was to illustrate Israeli goodness, she received hundreds of shares and comments.

“I learned a great life lesson from this man,” Danino added. “And all he did was say that the point [of what he did] was to see the young woman calmed down and with a smile on her face, which is the most important thing.”                (the Algemeiner )

Peres to ‘TIME’: Dimona suspicions helped achieve Oslo Accords

Israel’s nuclear facility in Dimona helped spur the signing of the Oslo Accords between the Jewish state and the PLO in 1993, Shimon Peres told TIME magazine.

Regional conjecture over rumored nuclear weapons work at the Negev Nuclear Research Center was a factor in reaching the historic agreements on the peace process, the former president indicated in an interview published Tuesday.

“Dimona helped us to achieve Oslo. Because many Arabs, out of suspicion, came to the conclusion that it’s very hard to destroy Israel because of it, because of their suspicion,” Peres said with reference to the controversial peace process he helped initiate as foreign minister.

Israel has maintained a policy of nuclear ambiguity, refusing to confirm or deny possession of atomic weapons.

When questioned about Israel’s nuclear capability, Peres asserted that “we’ve never threatened anybody with nuclear bombs, and we’ve never tested it.”

When asked whether suspicions over Israel’s nuclear weapons capabilities might have caused Iran to seek its own such arms, the 92-yearold stressed that human beings make arms races, not the weapons themselves.

Pointing toward Iran, he ascertained that threatening calls for death and destruction create dangerous situations that are not present with weapons alone.

“For example, if Switzerland would try today to have a nuclear bomb, I’m not sure people would be very concerned,” he told the weekly magazine.

“But when you have ayatollahs who call for the destruction of Israel and even for the destruction of the United States of America – ’the big Satan and the small Satan’ – that is a very dangerous combination.”

Peres met on Tuesday with US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power with whom he discussed both regional issues and the global agenda.

On her first visit since taking up her present role, Power came to hold meetings with government officials and to discuss global issues relevant to both the US and Israel.

She also came to participate in the Model UN debate held on Monday at the American International School in Even Yehuda, where she told the young students who are mostly the children of foreign diplomats stationed in Israel how they could help the UN to live up to its own core principles including fighting bias and injustice.

In acknowledging UN bias against Israel, Power said Israel is not treated like other countries. There are legitimate reasons for criticizing Israel, she said, but anti-Israel bias at the UN has extended way beyond Israel as a country.

She cited as an example the UN’s refusal to accept the ZAKA emergency organization as a member.

ZAKA had consistently applied for four years and the application was denied each time until January this year when the organization received official consultative status.

Peres told Power at the start of their meeting that her visit to Israel in these difficult times, was important and signified the strength of the relationship between the US and Israel.

Power responded that it was wonderful to be at the Peres Center, and that she was honored to meet him.

This was her fourth day in Israel on this trip, she said, as she enthused about meeting inspiring young students and civil society leaders.

Power also referred to the need to restore hope for peace among the citizens of the Middle East: “Hope is not limited to one field or a place,” Peres observed.

“The problem is that we are unable to break free of the habits, prejudices, and hatred of the past.

Until we are able to break away from them, not many possibilities and courses of action are open before us.”

On Monday, Power, accompanied by US Ambassador Dan Shapiro and Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, called on President Reuven Rivlin who asked her to tell PA President Mahmoud Abbas that he must understand that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians can be solved only through direct negotiations without a solution being imposed on either side.             (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian prisoner in 83rd day of hunger strike refuses offer to transfer hospitals

A Palestinian in his 83rd day of a hunger strike to protest being held in administrative detention on Tuesday refused an offer to be transferred to an east Jerusalem hospital.

This leaves the issue of his possible freedom hanging in the balance before the High Court of Justice following a heated hearing.

Muhammad al-Qiq, 33, had requested through his lawyer that he be transferred to a hospital in Ramallah. He currently is hospitalized in Emek Medical Center in Afula.

On Tuesday, Qiq’s attorney told the High Court that the hunger striker rejected the offer to be transferred to al-Makassid, a Palestinian hospital in east Jerusalem.

Deputy President Elyakim Rubinstein said the High Court would make a decision soon, but no decision had been reached by press time.

The High Court had offered its proposal on Monday. The east Jerusalem hospital agreed to receive Qiq if he authorized the transfer.

“There is no difference between Afula and al-Makassid hospital for al-Qiq,” Ahmad Abu Muhammad of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society in Bethlehem told the Maan Palestinian news agency. “If he decides to go to Jerusalem, they will take him, put two or three soldiers by his bed. It will be exactly the same.”

According to IDF military court decisions obtained by The Jerusalem Post, part of the controversy was that Qiq, a known journalist, was extensively questioned by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) without uncovering sufficient evidence to bring him to trial.

Despite that finding, West Bank Military Appeals Court Judge Ronen Atzmon on January 13 ruled that the classified evidence he was shown outside of the presence of Qiq’s lawyers proved that he was dangerous and involved in planning dangerous operations.

Atzmon said the explanations about deriving that intelligence-style evidence was detailed enough to approve continued administrative detention. This was even as the main publicly reported evidence has focused on incitement charges, which is not typically sufficient for administrative detention, and as Qiq explained that his connections with Hamas members were in his capacity as a journalist.

Maan reported Monday that Hanan al-Khatib, a lawyer with the Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs, said in a statement that Qiq was suffering sharp pain in his chest and numbness in his face. He also had begun “shouting loudly, and screaming ‘Let me hear my son’s voice, please God,’” the statement said.

Qiq reportedly is at risk of heart attack, stroke and total systemic failure. He has refused all treatment and has taken only plain water, refusing the infusion of minerals.

Earlier this month, the High Court suspended Qiq’s detention due to his failing health from the hunger strike and offered to release him by May 1 if he halted his hunger strike. Qiq reportedly responded that he would not accept an offer unless it ended his detention immediately and allowed him to be treated in a Palestinian hospital.

Qiq, who worked as a reporter for a Saudi television news station, has said he will continue the strike until “martyrdom or freedom,” according to Maan. He is protesting being held by Israel in administrative detention since November 24.

Under administrative detention, a prisoner can be held for six months without being charged or tried. The order can be renewed indefinitely.

On Sunday, 16 senior Hamas operatives jailed in Israel announced that they had launched a hunger strike in solidarity with Qiq.

Qiq has been jailed by Israel before, including a month in 2003 and 13 months in 2004, the French news agency AFP reported. In 2008, he was sentenced to 16 months on charges linked to his activities on the student council at the West Bank’s Birzeit University, according to AFP.                (Jerusalem Post)

Survey: Most Palestinians oppose security coordination with Israel

More than two-thirds (67.4 percent) of Palestinians oppose security coordination between the IDF and the Palestinian Authority, a survey released Monday by the Watan Center for Studies and Research found.

According to the survey, titled “Palestinians’ opinions about the Jerusalem intifada and the siege on Gaza,” 76.2% of Palestinians are dissatisfied with recent declarations by senior officials in the Palestinian Authority about their success in foiling Palestinian terror attacks.

In an interview in January with Defense News, the head of the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence services in the West Bank revealed that PA security forces have prevented some 200 terrorist attacks against Israel since October 2015.

Asked about the Palestinian faction with the greatest influence on the so-called Jerusalem intifada, 39.1% of Palestinians claimed it is Hamas, while 33.5% of the Palestinians claimed it is Fatah.

Even though 43.1% of Palestinians allege that the continuation of the intifada will lead Israel to tighten its control on the Palestinian territories, 68.6% of Palestinians want it to continue.

Although the survey reflects support for the intifada by most Palestinians and their aspiration for a popular uprising against Israel, the recent wave of violence against Israelis has mostly involved lone-wolf attacks and is not part of a mass uprising with participation by the lion’s share of Palestinian society.                    (Jerusalem Post)

Remains of fifth millennium BCE settlement found in Jerusalem

New archaeological discoveries attest to the existence of a well-established settlement in the Jerusalem area as long ago as the fifth millennium BCE, as well as to the fact that Jerusalem has been a prime real-estate location for 7,000 years.

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Excavation director Ronit Lupo of the Israel Antiquities Authority next to the remains of the ancient house.

Finds uncovered during archaeological excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority during work on a new road in the Shuʻfat neighborhood in northern Jerusalem, initiated by Moriah – the Jerusalem Development Company.

An important discovery was recently unearthed in north Jerusalem when archaeological excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority prior to the laying of a road in the Shuʻfat neighborhood – initiated and financed by Moriah, the Jerusalem Development Company –revealed the remains of an ancient settlement from the Chalcolithic period, approximately 7,000 years ago (fifth millennium BCE).

During the Chalcolithic period, man started using tools made of copper (chalcos in Greek) for the first time while continuing to use tools made of stone (lithos), hence the name given to the period. According to Dr. Omri Barzilai, Head of the IAA’s Prehistory Branch, “The Chalcolithic period is known in the Negev, the coastal plain, the Galilee and the Golan, but is almost completely absent in the Judean Hills and Jerusalem. Although in recent years we have discovered a few traces of Chalcolithic settlements, such as those at Abu Gosh, Motza Junction, and the Holyland compound in Jerusalem, they have been extremely sparse. Now, for the first time, we have discovered significant remains from 7,000 years ago.”

The excavation exposed two dwelling houses with well-preserved remains and floors containing various installations as well as pottery vessels, flint tools, and a basalt bowl, all typical of the period. The construction phases and signs of their maintenance show that the buildings were used for a considerable time.

According to Ronit Lupo, director of excavations for the Israel Antiquities Authority: “On completion of the excavations at Shuʻfat, it is quite evident that there was a thriving settlement in the Jerusalem area in ancient times. Thousands of years later, the buildings uncovered are of a standard that would not fall short of Jerusalem’s architecture. This discovery represents a highly significant addition to our research of the city and the vicinity. Apart from the pottery, the fascinating flint finds attest to the livelihood of the local population in prehistoric times: Small sickle blades for harvesting cereal crops, chisels and polished axes for building, borers and awls, and even a bead made of carnelian (a gemstone), indicating that jewelry was either made or imported. The grinding tools, mortars and pestles, like the basalt bowl, attest to technological skills as well as to the kinds of crafts practiced in the local community. We also recovered a f ew bones of sheep/goat and possibly cattle; these will be analyzed further in the Israel Antiquities Authority laboratories, permitting us to recreate the dietary habits of the people who lived here 7,000 years ago and enhancing our understanding of the settlement’s economy.”      (Israel MFA)

Anti-Semitism’s licit disguise on the Left

By   Jennifer OrielI                      The Australian

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/antisemitisms-licit-disguise-on-the-left/news-story/814b2919601d820724a6cd28ddd91ea4

The success of Labor rationalists in thwarting a ban on politicians’ travel to Israel provides welcome relief from the standard irrationality of the Socialist International on foreign affairs.

In a stymied motion, Labor Friends of Palestine sought to ban MPs’ and Young Labor members’ subsidised travel to Israel. Biased agitation against the Israeli state is a chief characteristic of the new anti-Semitism, where the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is invoked to justify hostility towards Jews and resurrect racist stereotypes while avoiding prosecution under anti-racism legislation.

Anti-Semitism is a type of ­racism denounced readily in the West when associated with neo-nazism, or the far Right. But the new anti-Semitism is more consistent with socialist agitation against liberal democratic statehood; it is to threaten the existence of Jews by denying the legitimacy of the Israeli state.

Recent research conducted by the Melbourne-based Online Hate Prevention Institute measured the new Jew hatred in its report Measuring the Hate: The State of Anti-Semitism in Social Media. OHPI found Twitter played host to the greatest volume of anti-Semitic material. While 49 per cent was classified as traditional anti-Semitism, comprising racial slurs and conspiracy theory, 34 per cent reflected the newer form.

Seventy years after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism should have been eradicated. Instead, it is on the rise. There was a 61 per cent increase in anti-Semitic activity in London last year.

A Brandeis University survey found nearly 75 per cent of Jewish students in US colleges had experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism.

Much Jew hatred on campus finds political legitimacy in the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign and other expressions of hostility to the existence of Israel.

Members of the international Left present the new anti-Semitism as a rational critique of Israeli state policy, invariably viewed as punitive to Palestinians. Yet they ­offer simultaneous support for the policy of Islamist regimes, such as Hamas, that seek the annihilation of Israel, while claiming to be social justice war­riors, untroubled by the cognitive dissonance apparent.

Thus, the Australian Greens support Gaza without challenging its governance under Hamas, which incites genocide, persecutes gays, subjugates women and conducts extrajudicial executions.

In the most recent anti-Semitic statement from Gaza, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar calls for the forcible removal of Jews from Palestine. Using the academic parlance of postcolonialism, Hamas officials label Jews “occupiers” and ­encourage Palestinian youth to rise up against them.

Led by a coalition of European socialists and Greens, the EU also has called for recognition of Palestine without stipulating the ­illegitimacy of Hamas.

Emboldened by its success in the European parliament, the red-Green alliance is articulating its allegiance to Islamism and the new anti-Semitism more openly.

At their conference last year, the Scottish Greens called for Hamas to be removed from international terrorist lists, labelling Israel the “racist apartheid” state.

In November, Dutch Socialist Party chairman Jan Marijnissen blamed the Paris jihadist attacks on the Israeli conflict with Palestine.

The irrationality of Europe’s red-Green coalition against Israel is reflected in Australian politics, where the Greens and Labor Left readily distort reality in gross displays of contemporary anti-Semitism.

The failed BDS campaign championed by campus activists, socialists and Greens was superseded by the “What is the cost of a free trip to Israel” campaign, associated with the now failed Labor motion. It gained traction on Facebook among groups such as the Sydney Staff for BDS, the National Tertiary Education Union Members for BDS and the Australian Palestinian Professionals Association.

The APPA hosted the notorious event at which former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr railed against politicians travelling to Israel on the urgings of “the lobby”. Carr said a politician was elected to the NSW upper house: “And the lobby was in his door ­offering him an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel. It’s disgraceful.”

Before the Carr event, the APPA recommended on Facebook a YouTube clip with the ­national anthem of Palestine ­accompanied by the text: “Long live Palestine. ‪Palestine will regain it’s (sic) hounor (sic) and Jerusalm (sic) will be the capital and Al Aqsa will (be in) danger no longer and the world will see that (I)srael will have to pay for all (its) deeds painfully.”

The state of Israel is a living testament to Jewish survival. It is proof positive against the anti-­Semitic conspiracies proliferating online that reduce Jews to subhuman status. The success of the Jewish people, their extra­ordinary rise from centuries of genocide to successful statehood, should be regarded as a triumph of enlightened humanity.

Instead, a new alliance of Islamists and the socialist Left has embarked on a course of anti-Semitism that seeks to deny Jews their hard-won homeland. Israel is not immune to bad policy and no state is above criticism, but we should regard attacks on its core legitimacy as an attack on the perpetuity of the Jewish people. There is no room for the new anti-Semitism in our new century.

Palestinian Leaders: Who Are They Fooling?

by Khaled Abu Toameh             The Gatestone Institute

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/7443/palestinian-leaders-rhetoric

For Abbas and the Palestinian leadership, the death of more than 170 Palestinians and 26 Israelis in the past five months occurred in the context of a “popular and peaceful uprising.” One can only imagine what the uprising would have looked like had it not been “peaceful.”

Abbas assured his people that those who die defending their holy sites would go straight to heaven. “Every drop of blood that is spilled in Jerusalem is pure blood,” he stressed.

According to the Palestinian Authority, these youths are acting out of despair — over settlements, checkpoints and lack of progress in the peace process. The attackers are in fact targeting Jews because they have been incited and brainwashed by the same leaders who are now denouncing Israel for protecting itself.

Not a single senior Palestinian official has condemned the targeting of innocent civilians in this “peaceful” uprising. They are too busy glorifying the assailants and naming streets after them.

The blood of the Palestinians who are being shot and killed while attacking Jews is on the hands of Abbas and his senior officials.

It is a puzzle: are the leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA) playing dumb, or do they believe their own ridiculous rhetoric?

As the current wave of stabbings, car-rammings and shooting attacks, which began in October 2015, continues and even seems to be intensifying, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and top Palestinian officials insist that we are witnessing nothing but a “popular peaceful uprising.”

Abbas said precisely this to a group of Arab Israeli journalists he invited to his office last week. Abbas voiced his full backing for the “popular and peaceful uprising.” He further explained that Palestinians were using “all peaceful means” to “resist Israeli occupation.”

For Abbas and the Palestinian leadership, the death of more than 170 Palestinians and 26 Israelis in the past five months occurred in the context of a “popular and peaceful uprising.” One can only imagine what the uprising would have looked like had it not been “peaceful.”

Interestingly, Abbas seems to consider knives and automatic weapons “peaceful” tools that Palestinians are entitled to use to “resist occupation.”

Rather than seeking to calm the situation, Abbas and company add fuel to the fire by glorifying the Palestinian assailants — many of whom are under the age of 20 — and encouraging others to join the “peaceful uprising” against Israel.

Let us get things straight. The current Palestinian leadership is incapable of placing any blame whatsoever on the Palestinians, particularly those who have wounded and killed Israelis. In their view, all fault lies with Israel alone, and the international community is duty-bound to step in and stop Israeli “crimes” against Palestinians.

Palestinian leaders have a long history of shirking responsibility for the travails of their people. In doing so, they have brought disaster to generation after generation of Palestinians.

Of course, victimhood is a broad category. The Palestinian youths who are goaded by the Palestinian Authority to murder Jews are also victims. They are victims of failed leaders who push them to their death by lying to them about Israeli and Jewish “conspiracies” against Arabs and Muslims and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Not a single senior Palestinian official has condemned the targeting of innocent civilians in this “peaceful” uprising, even when the victim is a 38-year-old mother and nurse. They are too busy glorifying the assailants and naming streets and squares after them.

Palestinian leaders are not denouncing such cases of murder for two reasons.

The leaders themselves are responsible for the massive campaign of anti-Israel incitement that preceded the current wave of attacks. This campaign intensified in the past two years as Abbas and top Palestinian officials began telling Palestinians that Jews were “defiling the Aqsa Mosque with their filthy feet.” Several days before the attacks began, Abbas assured his people that those who die defending their holy sites would go straight to heaven. “Every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure blood,” he stressed.

Abbas and his henchmen have succeeded: Palestinian minors are going out and “stopping” Jews from desecrating the Al-Aqsa Mosque and thwarting their “scheme” to destroy Islamic holy sites. So the PA and its president have upped the ante, claiming that now Israel is supposedly carrying out “extrajudicial executions” by shooting Palestinians who are in the process of trying to commit murder with knives and automatic rifles — the very Palestinians brainwashed by Palestinian leaders and media outlets.

And so, we come to two unpleasant truths: (1) PA leaders would be hard-pressed to denounce acts of terrorism against Israel when they incited that very violence; and (2) the current wave of anti-Israel attacks provides Abbas and other Palestinian leaders with ammunition to delegitimize Israel and dehumanize Jews in the international arena.

Palestinian leaders are twisting reality to rally the world against Israel and to advance their own political goals. Since the beginning of this round of attacks, Abbas and several senior officials in Ramallah have called for international intervention to stop Israeli “aggression” against the Palestinians. In their view, the shooting of a knife-wielding minor is an act of “aggression” and a “war crime” which requires immediate international intervention.

The Palestinian leadership is now seeking to leverage the violence to call for an international peace conference, toward receiving international “protection” for the Palestinians. Abbas hopes that such a conference would yield an overall solution imposed upon Israel. The Palestinian Authority president is convinced that world pressure on Israel will get him more than a negotiated settlement. That is why he does not want to return to the negotiating table with Israel.

Thus, there is a method here: For five full months, the official Palestinian stance has been that Israel initiated this violence and that Israelis are “deliberately targeting Palestinian children.” The Palestinian Authority leadership argues that only the UN can save those children, by sending troops to the Palestinian territories.

What pass have we come to. Thanks to the poison with which the Palestinian Authority has indoctrinated its people, Palestinians are now unable to condemn the murder of any Jew or even call among themselves to keep their teenagers from becoming deadly attackers. The Palestinian leaders have made it impossible even to talk about peace with Israel. Such is their journey to a healthy and prosperous society and state.

According to the Palestinian Authority, these youths are acting out of despair — with settlements, checkpoints and lack of progress in the peace process. Leaving the dream-world of Abbasland, however, we are privy to a different reali ty. The attackers are in fact targeting Jews because they have been incited and brainwashed by the same leaders who are now denouncing Israel for protecting itself. It is precisely Palestinian and other Arab television stations, imams and other leaders spurring the youth to take on their deadly missions.

Despite the old saying that you can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time, Abbas and company are doing pretty well fooling many people much of the time. Once again, Palestinians have fallen victim to the lies of their leaders, who encourage them to seek martyrdom and engage in acts of violence instead of building good lives for themselves and their communities. The blood of the Palestinians who are being shot and killed while attacking Jews is on the hands of Abbas and his senior officials. They can be found in Ramallah, thinking up ways to fool more of the people more of the time.

Should Israel launch a preemptive strike against Hamas tunnels?

The main issue for Israel’s decision makers is: what is the red line that, once crossed by Hamas, demands a proactive military operation against the tunnels?

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Hamas tunnels

by  Amos Yadlin    The Jerusalem Post

http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Should-Israel-launch-a-preemptive-strike-against-Hamas-tunnels-445210

For Israel, the question regarding the Hamas tunnels is not only what action to take, but also the nature of the confrontation that is sure to follow such action.

The repeated rounds of fighting in the Gaza Strip forced on Israel by Hamas since 2009 have not achieved the necessary strategic goals: long term deterrence; severe damage to the Hamas military wing; the weakening of the organization; and effective constraints on its future military buildup. It is no surprise that Hamas, which is preparing for the next confrontation with Israel, is heavily invested in building tunnels.

Operation Protective Edge (2014) proved that attack tunnels dug beneath the border of the Gaza Strip were almost the only strategic tool Hamas possessed to attain any significant gain, and most of its other so-called surprises and military efforts – long range rockets, UAVs, and naval commandos – failed. The tunnels, however, were a military tool that could potentially cause severe damage to Israel: in addition to operatives emerging from tunnels to kill Israeli soldiers, the very existence of the tunnels sowed concern among civilians in the nearby areas. Against this background, Israel was dragged into a limited ground maneuver, part of a 50-day confrontation that ended with no comprehensive agreement to demilitarize the Gaza Strip.

Current relations between Israel and Hamas are marked by a mutual desire not to be dragged into yet another round of fighting. For Israel, the desire to avoid escalation prevents it from confronting Hamas’s buildup openly and dictates a policy of imposed passivity, heightened by the difficulty in ensuring that provisions brought to the Gaza Strip, especially construction materials, are not used for military buildup – though it is highly probable that this is precisely the case. Moreover, while Ismail Haniyeh’s recent public statement about tunnel digging and the fears of Israelis living nearby have prompted renewed discussion of the tunnels, there is in fact nothing new about this situation. The only difference is how seriously the military and political echelons in Israel are finally starting to take the threat.

In any event, the debate over Israel’s proper response to the tunnels must be well thought out and address both the near-certainty of the military escalation that will follow and Israel’s ensuing objectives, rather than focus exclusively on the implications of the immediate response to the threat of the tunnels.

The tools currently available to Israel are not sufficient to deter Hamas from continuing its military buildup, including tunnel excavation. While reconstruction activity might affect Hamas’s willingness to confront Israel militarily in the short term, it will not eliminate the organization’s military ambitions in the medium to long terms.

Therefore, the main issue for Israel’s decision makers is: what is the red line that, once crossed by Hamas, demands a proactive military operation against the tunnels? It seems that this red line should be the discovery of tunnels that cross the border, and/or the certainty, or very high probability that Hamas has decided to embark on a military campaign against Israel in the immediate future.

Over the years, when faced with emerging situations that it considered intolerable, Israel was prepared to take preventive or pre-emptive action. In this context, preventive action is an initiative to operate against the enemy’s strategic buildup of forces without having concrete prior information about the timing of the threat’s deployment and implementation. A pre-emptive action is also an attack in advance of an enemy attack, but it is taken when there is certainty about the enemy’s intention to use force in the near future.

Preventive and pre-emptive actions are familiar concepts in Israel’s security doctrine, from the 1956 Sinai Campaign (a preventive campaign) and Operation Moked, which opened the 1967 Six Day War (pre-emptive action), through the attack on the Iraqi reactor in 1981 and the 2007 attack on the Syrian nuclear facility, which was attributed to Israel (preventive attacks).

But the spirit of the 21st century – i.e., intolerance in the international arena for offensive initiatives – and the changes in Israel’s strategic environment, as well as the fact that the enemy is often deeply embedded in the civilian population, have narrowed the scope for both preventive and pre-emptive actions and reduced their legitimacy. Indeed, in recent years there has been a debate about the need for preventive strikes against Hezbollah’s increasing military capabilities in Lebanon, which represent a far more potent threat than that posed by Hamas’s tunnels, and to date no action has been taken. Is the rationale vis-à-vis Hamas so very different?

A critical factor that can help make the decision is the existence of high quality intelligence. The lack of precise information about the location of the tunnels makes the issue theoretical, creating a situation in which the only way for Israel to take on the threat is to take over the Gaza Strip and inflict critical damage on Hamas rule while risking international condemnation and extensive harm to civilians. Such a comprehensive act, which would mean occupying Gaza, is not recommended. A reliable intelligence assessment, on the other hand, affords several alternatives.

The first is a case-by-case handling of cross-border tunnels that penetrate Israeli sovereign territory. Should any such be discovered, action must be limited and focused on those specific tunnels, supported by precise intelligence and backed by messages to Hamas that this preventive action reflects no desire for escalation. A second option is to deal with the problem systemically, including all tunnels within the 3-4 kilometer range of the fence – i.e., up to Gaza’s city limits. This is more extensive action, though also clearly circumscribed based on the same plan for ground action that the IDF used in Operation Protective Edge. This alternative, and to a lesser extent the preceding one as well, carries a high probability for escalation and the outbreak of another large scale round of fighting.

Thus, Israel would do well to avoid both options and pursue a third alternative, based on restraint, technological response, and improved intelligence, with the intention to prolong the calm for as long as possible. Obviously, if a technology to identify and/or block tunnels is developed and deployed, it will be easier to adopt restraint and build preparedness for the next confrontation.

Such technology would provide Israel with the breathing room it needs to prepare a plan of action against Hamas, knowing that the tunnels are no longer a strategic wild card as they are now – just as the Iron Dome system proved its strategic value thanks to its ability to eliminate almost entirely the threat of high trajectory fire in most locations in Israel. One may assume that an underground version of Iron Dome would dramatically alter Israel’s opening position in the next conflict, making it imperative to find, as quickly as possible, the budgets that would enable the implementation of technologies to identify the precise location of the tunnels. But as long as such technologies are not yet operative and the intelligence detect signs of an imminent attack by Hamas, a pre-emptive strike is essential.

While the alternatives cited above differ in their approach regarding a preventive or pre-emptive strike, they share one fundamental assumption: eventually, Hamas will force Israel into another conflict. Since conventional wisdom contends that a preventive strike is better, the first question, more important than the tunnels, is: what is the objective of the future round of fighting and how prepared is Israel?

The current strategic balance between Israel and Hamas is a failure stemming from the lack of a proper strategic objective in previous rounds of fighting. The manner in which Operation Protective Edge was fought did not seek to change the reality between the sides on the day after, so that Israel and Hamas stayed deadlocked in their asymmetrical strategic draw. The campaign failed to ensure any essential change in the situation over what existed formerly. Another round fought by the same rules is not recommended; it will only exact high costs from both sides while producing no positive results for Israel’s long term security.

Therefore, before Israel embarks on any campaign, it must answer the most basic questions about its operational goals and their feasibility. How can Israel inflict lethal damage upon Hamas’s military wing and thereby ensure better conditions when the fighting ends? How does Israel prevent Hamas from future military build up? Is leaving Hamas in place as the go-to entity in the Gaza Strip in Israel’s best interests, or should Israel abandon that assumption and perhaps work to end Hamas’s rule of the Gaza Strip?

The optimal situation for Israel vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip entails a technological solution for Hamas’s attack tunnels. This would postpone the inevitable next round of fighting with Hamas and put Israel in a better position when it does break out. But the fact that no such technical solution is ripe for use means a current dilemma about the proper course of action. Israel must establish that the discovery of cross-border tunnels ready for Hamas attacks requires pre-emptive action. If such action should escalate into a full-blown conflict, the conflict must be brief but forceful, based on a clear strategic objective that unlike all previous military encounters has the potential to effect a fundamental change in the balance of power and the dynamics between the sides. Any other choice will see Israel engaged in the same discussion in 2016 after yet another conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.