Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise visit to Israel on Wednesday, as he pressed his effort to forge a cease-fire to bring a halt to the bitter fighting in the Gaza Strip.
Mr. Kerry’s plane touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport just a day after the United States Federal Aviation Administration suspended American civilian flights to Israel.
Mr. Kerry will visit Jerusalem and the West Bank and is scheduled to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel; Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority; and Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations.
The latest battle in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas (Operation Protective Edge) continued without any sign of letup. Israel’s military continues ground operations inside Gaza, while Hamas has continued firing rockets and missiles at Israel. Israeli ground forces have taken casualties while Gazan casualties continue to grow.
Thus far, Palestinians living in Gaza have taken the brunt of the fighting. There have been hundreds of casualties and it is still unclear just how many of them are civilians and how many have been Hamas fighters. Media outlets are relying almost exclusively on Hamas and PA sources for casualty counts, and Hamas has been notorious with lying about who was killed and conflating their casualties with civilians.
It is indisputable that Israel has hit civilians, including children in the course of the fighting and trying to hit at Hamas terrorists who are entrenched in urban areas and firing at Israel from within civilian areas. Israel reports that they’ve killed at least 270 terrorists, while the UN indicates that 479 have been killed overall, including 364 civilians, 76 militants, and 39 who they can’t classify. Gaza’s Health Ministry puts the tally at 632 killed and nearly 3,800 wounded.
It is also indisputable that Hamas has no problem firing from civilian positions including schools and UN facilities. For the second time in a week, the UNRWA has found rocket caches in one of their facilities.
Hamas has become more brazen in where they’re storing their weapons, all while their leaders cower in underground bunkers while Gazans who aren’t connected with the leadership and don’t have the means to protect themselves are taking the brunt of the damage with no where else to go.
It is also indisputable that but for Hamas firing rockets and missiles at Israel incessantly since even the last ceasefire in 2012 (all but one month had missile/mortar or rocket fire) that Israel would not have needed to invade Gaza once again after the latest rounds of barrages that have landed deep inside Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The FAA may have succeeded in doing what Hamas couldn’t do directly. After firing missiles in the direction of Ben Gurion Airport, Delta Airlines and a quick succession of other airlines decided that they didn’t want to put their planes in harms’ way. The FAA then ordered US airlines to halt flights to and from Israel for 24 hours. Other airlines also followed suit.
The airlines rightfully don’t want to see their gear destroyed by the missiles or rockets, and that’ll be more than enough to keep them away though it is strange that they are not willing to fly into Israel but haven’t had issues with flights to/from or over other war zones and conflict regions in recent years, including Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ukraine (prior to the shoot down of Malaysian Air Flight 17).
The FAA order and its effect on the conflict can play out in one of two ways. It could force Israel to a ceasefire while Israel has not achieved its goals militarily so as to get flights to resume. If the flights remain shut down, it would have the effect of imposing economic harms on Israel (lost tourism/commerce) and indirectly strengthens Hamas’ hand.
However, the concern for Israel’s economy is just as likely to move Israel to mount an even larger military campaign into Gaza so as to eliminate the threat to Israel’s only international airport and crush Hamas’ capabilities once and for all. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu is likely to opt for the latter, knowing that his country needs the influx of tourists to keep the economy going and a prolonged shutdown would have dire consequences. Israeli public opinion isn’t going to take this kind of existential threat to their livelihood and country; they’re going to press ahead with rooting out Hamas if it means eliminating the threat to Israel’s airport.
Until now, the primary justification for the Israeli ground assault has been to root out the tunnels and bunkers Hamas has used to bring weapons into Gaza from Sinai, store the weapons, and to infiltrate into Israel. The missile attacks near Ben Gurion are the kind of justification that Israel could make to continue its fight inside Gaza - to eliminate the threat to Israel’s economy and transportation networks that fighting to clear the tunnels from Gaza didn’t. It would potentially provide the open-ended invitation for Israel to remain in Gaza, a region Israel unilaterally withdrew from in 2005 as no nation would ever allow its key transit locations to be under constant threat from missiles and bombs.
Meanwhile, the diplomats are trying to formulate yet another cease fire proposal. It’s actually a joke at this point. Everyone knows that the ceasefire agreement is going to end up being the same as all the prior deals between Israel and Hamas. Both sides will promise not to fire on the other beginning at X. Once X plus a given period Y has occurred, Israel will promise Z and Hamas will need to reciprocate with A. The ceasefire deals are essentially fill-in-the-blank and you can substitute the times, dates, and in the end, all that is left are the casualties on both sides to be buried and hospitalized.
It’s nice that the diplomats and EU members are calling on Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza to be disarmed, but there’s no indication of how or who would do what they propose. Hamas seems to have an answer to that question - they’ll keep firing their munitions until they’ve expended their stockpiles. Israel will continue taking that fire until they have forced Hamas to expend all of its weapons.
Gazans will continue to suffer from Hamas actions and Israeli responses and both Israelis and Gazans will mourn their losses and curse Hamas. And that, unfortunately, is the takeaway.
Cross posted at A Blog for All
Benjamin Netanyahu’s comment about dead Palestinian children was rightfully condemned, though it became fodder for professional anti-Semites. Greenwald’s latest article for example compared Netanyahu’s comment to a Goebbels quote defending the policy of making Jews wear yellow stars. Which is objectively racist, the US and the EU have classified any comparison of Israel to nazi Germany as anti-Semitic. By doing so the EU and US simply acknowledged the obvious about people who seek to use the genocide of Jews to attack Jews.
Greenwald realized how offensive the comment was and immediately propped up a series of defenses, numbered for reading pleasure. He insisted that to “to compare aspects of A and B is not to posit that A and B are identical” which is irrelevant, a comparison is not the act of arguing that two things are identical. If he compared Obama to an ape that would be racist no matter how many times he insisted that he doesn’t think that Obama is genetically identical to an ape. Greenwald’s comparison is officially racist under two systems, his claim that he doesn’t believe that Israel and nazi Germany are non-identical doesn’t make his article any less racist.
The closest he comes to offering evidence is falling back on his shameful comparison of the Iraq war to nazi invasion of Poland. He insists that “observing that both the U.S. in 2003 and Germany in 1938 launched aggressive wars in direct violation of what were to become the Nuremberg Principles is not to equate the two countries.” Yet thats the only possible reason to make the comparison; there is no common ground between the two invasions and the comparisons ignores more accurate comparisons.
Glenn’s hyperbole is not only anti-Semitic, its ridiculous since by his reasoning that allies were just like the third reich rendering any comparison moot. The allies carpet bombed on a scale dwarfing any 21st century war; if the US or UK in the 1940s were at war with Hamas they would have covered every inch of Gaza in bombs. The allies also invaded nations on false pretenses in pure examples of aggression such as the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran.
Greenwald rails against the strawmen that people are “barred from ever citing certain historical examples in order to draw lessons for contemporary conflicts is as dangerous as it is anti-intellectual.” Such a blockade doesn’t exist, people are only criticized for racist hyperbole like using the Holocaust as a weapon against Jews. Though it is truly anti-intellectual to pretend whatever you don’t like is just like nazi Germany ergo you are an anti-fascist hero and that criticism of you is somehow censorship. There is nothing wrong with nazi comparisons if they are accurate, yet states and entities genuinely comparable to nazism fail to illicit Glenn’s condemnation. When it comes to genuine parallels like Hamas’s genocidal intent, DPRK and PRC death camps, Baathism Glenn is either silent or ridicules the notion that such horrors could ever have anything in common with nazism.
Glenn cites his own articles as evidence blurring the line between arrogance and laziness. The articles include a defense of his comparison of the invasion of Iraq to the invasion of Poland, which compares Iraqi Kurds to pro-nazi Sudaten Germans! A comparison as offensive and racist as comparing Saddam to Anne Frank. If we must compare the Iraq war to WWII Iraqi Kurds can only be validly compared to victims of the reich which inspired Baathism. To compare victims of genocide to nazis is depravity that shows Greenwald has no honest interest in “citing certain historical examples in order to draw lessons for contemporary conflicts” he’s more into rewriting it.
On twitter Greenwald provided another example of his anti-Semitism by endorsing a comment arguing that Jews bear collective guilt for Gaza. The commenter said he felt “responsible” for civilian deaths in Palestinian areas because he’s Jewish, collective Jewish guilt is legally classified as anti-Semitism. “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” represents an example of modern day antisemitism, according to the EUMC Working Definition, a concept Glenn promoted and endorsed.
Glenn has previously refused to condemn Assad who is guilty of using a state modeled on European fascism to starve and massacre Palestinians. Why is that Greenwald is only vocal on the subject of dead Palestinians in one area but silent in another area which cannot be used as a cudgel against the US and Israel? The answer is in the question.
This makes me furious. These men pledged their loyalty to their country and their country betrayed them. It treated them as disposable, throwing their lives away in a war that was premised on lies, that was chosen gleefully, and that will change nothing except the number of graves on both sides.
And now, the final insult, it cynically uses their deaths to justify the craven decisions that killed them. Our country is not made stronger by their loss. It’s weakened by every young person uselessly gone, all the grieving friends and family they leave behind. And it’s weakened by the manifest injustice of the futile, bloody meat grinder the government tossed them into, weakened even more by the transparent lies the government tells the world to justify it - and the lies we increasingly tell ourselves.
It’s like 2003 in the USA playing in some obscene rerun.
As civilian casualties mount in the ongoing Gaza conflict, the IDF is set to open a field hospital on the border with the Strip on Sunday evening, with the intention of providing humanitarian services to Palestinians injured in the fighting taking place in the coastal enclave.
Gaza sources have said the number of wounded in the coastal enclave has exceeded 3,000, with many more injured Sunday morning in a large clash between IDF troops and Hamas gunmen in Gaza’s Shejaiya neighborhood. Israeli military officials said Sunday that they had told civilians to leave the Shejaiya area days ago, ahead of IDF military action in a neighborhood that is a Hamas stronghold.
The facility, which was approved by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, will open its doors at 8 p.m. on Sunday, the army said in a statement.
“The hospital will include an emergency clinic, pediatrician and gynecology services, a delivery room and hospitalization when needed. The staff will include doctors, nurses, x-ray technicians and lab technicians,” the statement read.
“The hospital will treat sick and wounded Palestinians in coordination with the liaison department of the Erez crossing and will open its gates tonight,” the statement continued.
In Gaza City Sunday, the Shifa hospital was struggling to reach those in need of case, with many of the wounded walking for hours to receive treatment. Casualties were being brought in by the minute, some in ambulances, others in cars and trucks. Among them were children screaming in agony, many peppered with shrapnel wounds.
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Israel of “barbarism that surpasses Hitler” during its ground invasion of Gaza.
Erdogan made the comment during a campaign speech Saturday in the Black Sea port city of Ordu. He is running for the presidency in elections next month.
He has been speaking out strongly against Israel during its offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza, which has killed more than 300 Palestinians. He accuses Israel of using disproportionate force and has said the operation there has derailed efforts to normalize Turkish-Israeli ties. Those soured after Israel’s 2010 raid on an aid ship which killed eight Turks and a Turkish-American.
Hundreds have also staged protests in recent days outside Israeli diplomatic mission in Ankara and Istanbul.
Deadly clashes broke out after Israeli tanks drove into Gaza and launched a ground operation that further escalates the conflict with Hamas.
The military is prepared to widen the offensive, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday.
He told a Cabinet meeting that he instructed the Israel Defense Forces to “prepare for the possibility of a significant expansion of the ground operation.”
The incursion Thursday night follows 10 days of Israeli bombardment of Gaza that has killed more than 250 people. Israel launched the ongoing aerial offensive last week, saying it aimed to halt the firing of Hamas rockets from Gaza into Israel.
There are lots of things we can debate about the crisis in Gaza. You can argue that Israel has committed war crimes, that a culture of violence has corrupted Palestinian society, or that a ground invasion is a terrible idea. But one thing should be clear to everyone: Hamas is insane. It’s destroying Gaza.
Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.
I’m not saying this to excuse Israel. Its pathological relationship with Gaza—war, occupation, radicalization, bombardment, blockade—is full of callousness and mistakes. The casualty list from the current air campaign, filled with Palestinian civilians, is grotesque. Israel thinks its need to respond outweighs the cost of killing women and children. But part of the travesty is how little Hamas has done for its own people.
Hamas seized control of Gaza seven years ago. Its reign has been disastrous. Unemployment and poverty are around 40 percent. The government is bankrupt. Israel’s control of Gaza’s borders has played a huge role in that. But Hamas has done everything possible to tighten Israel’s grip and delegitimize Palestinian resistance.
Israel’s military says three mortar shells were fired from Gaza after a humanitarian cease-fire went into effect.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld had earlier said two rockets fell in open areas in southern Israel, causing no damage or injuries. He said the rockets landed at 12 p.m. local time, two hours after the cease-fire began.
The army later said in a statement that the attack consisted of three mortar shells.
It was not immediately clear whether the Israeli military would respond. Israel and Hamas both agreed on a halt in fighting for a five-hour period Thursday to allow Gazans to stock up on supplies.