An Indian TV crew says it was able to film Palestinian militants setting up a rocket launcher outside a Gaza hotel on Monday.
The video released by India’s NDTV appears to show a three-man Hamas rocket team setting up shop in a heavily populated Gaza neighborhood. NDTV reporter Sreenivasan Jain calmly explains from the window of his hotelroom how the emergence of a blue tent became the site of suspicious activity, with men running wires within.
Jain explains that the tent disappeared after an hour and its content was seemingly covered with various bits of camouflage. The next morning Jain reports the team heard a “loud explosion and a whooshing sound” coming from the site just minutes before a 72-hour ceasefire took effect.
Throughout four weeks of fighting, Israel has said Gaza militants fired rockets from densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip, endangering the enclave’s population. Though militants have launched thousands of rockets towards Israel in this conflict, both the danger related to being in the vicinity of the launchers and the clandestine manner in which they are assembled have made the sites hard to report on. The sites from which militants fired at their foe therefore often remained well-hidden. As The New York Times photojournalist Tyler Hicks explained in a recent interview about the two weeks he spent in Gaza, he never saw a launching device. “It’s as if they don’t exist,” he added.
Missing IDF officer Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, said to have been captured by Hamas, was declared dead by Chief Military Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Raffi Peretz on Saturday, at 11:25pm.
The Givati commander died in combat on Friday, August 1, 2014, in Rafah when a terrorist emerged from a tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip and detonated himself near an IDF force, killing another officer and a soldier from Givati Brigade - Major Benaya Sarel and Staff Sergeant Liel Gidoni.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon arrived at the Goldin family home in Kfar Saba accompanied by the head of the IDF’s Human Resources Branch, Maj.-Gen. Orna Barbivai and the Chief Military Rabbi, to deliver the news.
The army said the Chief Military Rabbi considered halacha, medical and other relevant considerations, as well as findings from the battlefield, before making the decision. The family was told there were enough pathological findings at the scene to declare Hadar’s death, and these findings also allow his burial.
It is interesting that Hamas has been unable to prevent Islamic Jihad militants from operating along the border with Israel, in an area that is supposed to be off limits to them. This, despite having recently stationed its Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in the area to ensure that no rockets are fired from it. But what is actually stopping Hamas, a group that even Israel recognizes as the sovereign authority in the Gaza Strip, from disarming the Al-Quds Brigades? Who or what is preventing fighters from the al-Qassam Brigades, whose military strength is several orders of magnitude greater than Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, to enforce their authority? And what made the Hamas slogan of “concentrating military power in one hand” so hollow and meaningless?
Right now, the leaders of Hamas are looking at Islamic Jihad and coming to the conclusion that the Al-Quds Brigades are capable of doing to them exactly what Hamas did to Fatah seven years earlier. They can achieve military superiority, thereby posing a threat to Hamas and especially to its position of seniority in the Gaza Strip.
Iran favors Islamic Jihad. Hamas realizes this, and is not trying to disarm it. For its part, Islamic Jihad now knows how to take advantage of the crisis facing Hamas and the movement’s weaknesses. This leaves the leaders of Hamas caught between a rock and a hard place. On one side they have Israel, which threatens them with a large scale military attack if the rocket fire doesn’t stop. On the other side is Iran, which will not stand silently by if Hamas causes any harm to the members of Islamic Jihad or to Iranian interests in Gaza.
The leaders of the Hamas movement are being forced to evaluate the options and choose between Israel or Iran. Which frightens them more? Which poses a greater threat, as far as they are concerned? Which threat has far-reaching implications for their future? From which threat will they emerge with damage they can tolerate? Hamas tends to choose Iran.
Rocket From Gaza Hits Israel, Breaking Cease-Fire
By JODI RUDOREN
Published: February 26, 2013
JERUSALEM — For the first time in more than three months, at least one rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel early on Tuesday morning, according to Israeli authorities, breaking a cease-fire that had been in place after eight days of intense violence between Israel and Gaza last fall.Members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade
The Israeli police and military reported that a single Grad rocket landed in a road outside the city of Ashkelon, causing damage but no injuries.
A subgroup of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the military wing of the Palestinians’ Fatah faction, said in an e-mailed statement that it had fired the rocket in “an initial natural response to the assassination of prisoner Arafat Jaradat,” a 30-year-old Palestinian who died in an Israeli jail on Saturday. The statement also said that Palestinians “should resist their enemy with all available means.”
About the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades:
The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades (Arabic: كتائب شهداء الأقصى Katā’ib Shuhadā’ al-‘Aqṣā) is a coalition of Palestinian nationalist militias in the West Bank. The group’s name refers to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The organization has been designated as a terrorist group by the governments of Israel, the United States, Canada, Japan and the European Union.
The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade comprises an unknown number of small cells of Fatah-affiliated activists that emerged at the outset of the second Palestinian uprising, or al-Aqsa Intifadah, in September 2000.
Al-Aqsa’s goal is to drive the Israeli military and settlers from the West Bank and establish a Palestinian state loyal to the secular nationalist Fatah ideology. Al-Aqsa employed primarily small-arms attacks against Israeli military personnel and settlers as the uprising spread in 2000, but by 2002 it turned increasingly to suicide bombings against Israeli civilians inside Israel. In January 2002, the group claimed responsibility for the first female suicide bombing inside Israel. After a deadly al-Aqsa bombing in March 2002, the United States designated the group a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Al-Aqsa members are operationally more active in the Gaza Strip but also plan and conduct attacks inside Israel and the West Bank. The group has killed US citizens, most of them dual US-Israeli citizens, in its attacks. It has members in refugee camps in southern Lebanon and overseas but has not demonstrated the capability or intent to conduct transnational terrorist attacks.
Al-Aqsa cells operate with autonomy.
There are multiple splinter factions, though they remained ideologically loyal to Palestinian Authority (PA) President ‘Arafat until his death in 2004. Many al-Aqsa cells suspended anti-Israeli attacks as part of the broader unilateral Palestinian cease-fire agreement during 2005. Others did not, however, highlighting the absence of central leadership or control.
After the June 2007 HAMAS takeover of the Gaza Strip, al-Aqsa Martyrs cells in the territory stepped up rocket attacks against Israel. However, the group’s attacks have largely diminished since the end of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in January 2009 because of HAMAS’s efforts to enforce a cease-fire. Media reports claim Iran provides support to various al-Aqsa cells in an effort to sustain anti-Israeli attacks.
In 2007 and 2008, more than 200 West Bank al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade elements participated in an Israeli-Palestinian Authority amnesty program in which they promised to cease anti-Israeli violence and surrender their weapons. By August 2009, however, the program remained fragile and threatened to lose credibility with participants because of Israeli incursions in the West Bank that targeted al-Aqsa members, and Israel’s significant bureaucratic delays in processing amnesty requests.
Egypt is flooding Gaza smuggling tunnels, choking off one of Hamas’ biggest sources for money and placing a virtual siege far more severe than Israel ever created.An Arab working outside a smuggling tunnel connecting the Gaza Strip and Egypt in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. Photo Credit: Rahim Khatib/Flash 90
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood regime has been flooding Hamas smuggling tunnels for three days in a move that may be aimed at punishing Sinai terrorists who threaten Cairo’s authority but also may be a warning to Hamas of who is the boss.
Ironically, heavy rains last month forced Hamas to close the tunnels, but now Egypt is taking over where nature left off.
The truth sometimes hurts; that is why the Palestinian Authority has been working hard to prevent the outside world from hearing about many occurrences that reflect negatively on its leaders or people.
In recent years, the Palestinian Authority leadership, often with the help of the mainstream media in the US and EU, has been successful in its effort to divert all attention only toward Israel.
Following are examples of some of the inconvenient truths that the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank do not want others to know about:
- Over 100 senior PLO and Fatah officials hold Israeli-issued VIP cards that grant them various privileges denied to most Palestinians. Among these privileges is the freedom to enter Israel and travel abroad at any time they wish. This privileging has existed since the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO in 1993.
- Out of the 600 Christians from the Gaza Strip who arrived in the West Bank in the past two weeks to celebrate Christmas, dozens have asked to move to Israel because they no longer feel comfortable living under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
- Dozens of Christian families from east Jerusalem have moved to Jewish neighborhoods in the the city because they too no longer feel comfortable living among Muslims.
- Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank continue to summon and arrest political opponents, journalists and bloggers who dare to criticize the Palestinian leadership.
Read the rest HERE (source).
Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal made his first visit to the Gaza Strip on Friday, telling crowds he hoped his next visit would be to Jerusalem, Ramallah and a liberated Palestine.
After passing through the Egyptian border crossing, Mashaal knelt on the ground to offer a prayer of thanks and was then greeted by dozens of officials from an array of competing factions lined up to meet him in warm December sun.
Mashaal praised the people of Gaza and the political factions in his first ever speech on Palestinian soil. “We politicians are in debt to the people of Gaza,” he said.
The leader was briefly tearful as he was welcomed by Gaza’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
Mashaal said his visit to Gaza was his “third birth” referring to an assassination attempt by Israeli Mossad agents in 1997 as his previous “re-birth.”
“I pray to God that my fourth birth will come the day we liberate Palestine,” he said, clearly moved by his reception, with uniformed police breaking ranks to try and kiss his hand.
“Today is Gaza. Tomorrow will be Ramallah and after that Jerusalem then Haifa and Jaffa,” he said.
The exiled Hamas chief broke into tears Friday as he arrived in the Gaza Strip for his first-ever visit, a landmark trip reflecting his militant group’s growing international acceptance and its defiance of Israel.
Khaled Mashaal, who left the West Bank as a child and leads the Islamic militant movement from Qatar, crossed the Egyptian border, kissed the ground, and was greeted by a crowd of Hamas officials and representatives of Hamas’ rival Fatah party. He was also welcomed by a group of Palestinian orphans — children of Gaza militants killed by Israel in recent years — wearing military-style uniforms.
That the visit took place at all is a window on the changing climate of the Middle East and the balance of power among the factions and nations.
If humanitarian crises were listed by some sort of moral — or editorial — standards on the stock exchange, to help indicate which ones urgently require international news coverage and political action, shares of the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) would have commanded international news headlines and extensive press coverage over the past 12 years.
The U.N. has labeled the DRC, Africa’s second largest country, as the “rape capital of the world” because of the pace and scope of the use of rape as a weapon of war by proxy militia gangs fighting for control of Congo’s easily appropriable and highly valuable natural resources, destined for sale in Europe, Asia, Canada and the United States.
The wars in that country have claimed nearly the same number of lives as having a 9/11 every single day for 360 days, the genocide that struck Rwanda in 1994, the ethnic cleansing that overwhelmed Bosnia in the mid-1990s, the genocide that took place in Darfur, the number of people killed in the great tsunami that struck Asia in 2004, and the number of people who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki — all combined and then doubled.
Yet we rarely hear anything about it. Indeed, one only need contrast media coverage of the latest Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza strip and Hamas rocket attacks into southern Israel, which have made front pages around the world, to the stunningly limited media coverage afforded to graphic accounts of atrocities committed that same week by M23, the newest militia gang terrorizing the local population.
From AFP, via the Lebanese Daily Star:
CAIRO: Israel and Hamas agreed Wednesday to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire accord to end a week of violence in and around the Gaza Strip following days of marathon talks.
Here is the text of the ceasefire agreement which is set to take effect at 1900 GMT:
“Israel shall stop all hostilities in the Gaza Strip land sea and air, including incursions and targeting of individuals.
“All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel, including rocket attacks and all attacks along the border.
“Opening the crossings and facilitating the movement of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents’ free movements and targeting residents in border areas. Procedures of implementation shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire.
“Other matters as may be requested shall be addressed.”
“Setting up the zero hour understanding to enter into effect.
“Egypt shall receive assurances from each party that the party commits to what was agreed upon.
“Each party shall commit itself not to perform any acts that would breach this understanding. In case of any observations, Egypt as a sponsor of this understanding, shall be informed to follow up.”