One of the most shocking aspects of the murderous attack on a Jerusalem synagogue this morning by men with guns and axes is not the attack itself—we’ve seen, from time to time, this sort of sectarian barbarism take place in places like Jerusalem, and Hebron. The most shocking aspect is the wholesale endorsement of this slaughter by Hamas, a group that, during this summer’s war in Gaza, half-succeeded in convincing the world that it wasn’t what it actually is: a group with actual genocidal intentions.
According to witnesses, the two attackers entered the synagogue, in the Har Nof neighborhood, and began killing worshipers with pistols and axes. (Both assailants were killed by police, but not before they murdered four worshipers and injured at least six others, including two police officers.)
“To see Jews wearing tefillin [phylacteries] and wrapped in the tallit [prayer shawls] lying in pools of blood, I wondered if I was imagining scenes from the Holocaust,” said Yehuda Meshi Zahav, who leads an emergency-response team, according to The New York Times. “It was a massacre of Jews at prayer.”
This is how a Hamas spokesman reacted to the massacre of Jews at prayer: “The new operation is heroic and a natural reaction to Zionist criminality against our people and our holy places. We have the full right to revenge for the blood of our martyrs in all possible means.”
Twenty years ago, shortly after the Jewish fanatic Baruch Goldstein massacred Muslims at prayer in Hebron, the then-prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, said of the killer, “You are not part of the community of Israel. … You are a foreign implant. You are an errant weed. Sensible Judaism spits you out.”
Hamas’s endorsement of the massacre of Jews at prayer in their holy city confirms—as if we needed confirming—that its goal is the eradication of Israel and its Jews. We should pray for the day when the leaders of Gaza react to this sort of massacre in the manner of Yitzhak Rabin.
The Palestinian Authority leader, the more moderate Mahmoud Abbas, has condemned the attack, but it is also fair to say that he helped create the atmosphere in which attacks like this one become more likely. As the Times reports, the attackers “were described as being motivated by what they saw as threats to the revered plateau [the Temple Mount] that contains Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has repeatedly asserted that he will not alter the status quo at the site, where non-Muslims can visit but not openly pray, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority has called on his people to protect the area and has warned of a ‘holy war’ if it is ‘contaminated’ by Jews.”
Four people were killed Tuesday morning when two terrorists brutally attacked worshippers in a synagogue and yeshiva in the Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem. Eight other people were wounded; four were in moderate to serious condition. Two police officers were among the wounded.
At around 7am, the terrorists - wielding massive knives and a gun - entered the Kehilat Yaakov synagogue on Harav Shimon Agasi Street, which includes both a synagogue and yeshiva (rabbinical seminary), and carried out attacks in more than one location.
The two were killed following a gunfight with security forces who arrived at the scene. The wounded were taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Hadassah Ein Kerem. At around noon Tuesday, the hospitals said that two people were in critical condition, two people had sustained serious wounds, one person was in moderate condition, and two more were lightly hurt.
Funerals of the victims of the attack - Rabbi Moshe Twersky, Rabbi Kalman Levine, Aryeh Kupinsky (all US citizens), and Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, a UK citizen - are currently underway at the Har HaMenuchot cemetery, with thousands in attendance.
The Jerusalem police has decided to increase its presence throughout the city and has recruited civil guard volunteers in the wake of the morning attack, the latest and most brutal in a series of attacks directed against civilians in the city over the course of the past few months.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement earlier today condemning the attack of ‘Jewish worshippers in their place of prayer’ and the killings of civilians, and called for an end to what he defined as ‘Israeli provocation over the Temple Mount’.
Abbas’s statement was preceded by a statement from Hamas, which claimed that the attack on the synagogue was “an act of retaliation” over the death of Arab bus driver Hassan Yussuf Ramoni, whose body was discovered hanging several days ago in East Jerusalem. Ramoni’s death was ruled as a suicide by Israeli Forensic specialists after no signs were found indicating potential violence or criminal intent behind his death. Despite this ruling, his family has claimed that he was in fact murdered by Israeli settlers, and Palestinian protests have erupted as a result, with Hamas and other Palestinian groups such as Islamic Jihad calling for acts of retribution.
Terror returns to Jerusalem: A 3-month-old baby girl was killed and seven other people were wounded Wednesday evening when a Palestinian plowed his car into a crowd of people waiting at the Ammunition Hill station of Jerusalem’s Light Rail.
The driver - a resident of the village of Silwad with a record of security related offenses - attempted to flee the scene on foot, but was shot by police. He sustained chest wounds and was taken to a Jerusalem hospital in serious condition.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the car struck the train station near the national headquarters of the police force.
He said police were investigating but all signs pointed to an intentional attack. “There is a strong possibility that it was a terror attack,” he said.
Interior Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, who arrived at the scene, also said that, “all signs indicate this is a terror attack.” He further said that the driver had served time in prison before. He praised the police for their quick response.
“This is not an intifada,” Aharonovich said, noting that he had spoken with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and that the police and the Shin Bet internal security service were investigating.
Two men in their 20s also were taken to Hadassah Medical Center on Mount Scopus with light wounds. Hadassah at Ein Kerem took in three wounded women, one in serious condition and two lightly hurt.
According to MDA paramedics at 5:54 pm they received a report saying that a car hit a number of pedestrians near the Ammunition Hill station.
A paramedic at the scene told Ynet that the baby’s mother “brought her to me with a serious head wound. She told me that the car hit the stroller and she was hysterical. The baby was unconscious.”
When Jodi Rudoren, Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, read Monday’s statement from the Foreign Press Association in Israel and the Palestinian territories, she couldn’t believe her eyes.
The association, representing some 480 resident correspondents and hundreds more visiting Israel/Palestine each year, protested “in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month.”
The FPA said it knew of journalists who were “harassed, threatened or questioned over stories or information they have reported through their news media or by means of social media” and accused Hamas of “trying to put in place a ‘vetting’ procedure that would, in effect, allow for the blacklisting of specific journalists.”
“Every reporter I’ve met who was in Gaza during war says this Israeli/now FPA narrative of Hamas harassment is nonsense,” Rudoren tweeted, referring to Israeli accusations that Hamas pressure on foreign reporters had helped massage the messages coming out of Gaza in the last month.
Rudoren’s Tweet was followed by a furious email exchange with the FPA, in which Rudoren denounced the statement as “dangerous.”
Crispian Balmer, last year’s FPA chairman and former Jerusalem bureau chief for Reuters, told Haaretz the FPA was not in the habit of issuing such protests without very good reason.
“When I was on the FPA board, we took our statements very seriously,” said Crispian Balmer. “They were never written on a whim and were only issued after broad consultation - either face-to-face at a board meeting or via a stream of email exchanges. Our prime concern was always the well-being of the foreign press pack and we would not pull our punches if we thought our members needed vocal support. We would certainly never issue broad statements condemning the behavior of one side or the other if we did not feel that a good number of our members had been impacted.”
Even more intriguing, Rudoren’s deputy at the NYT, Isabel Kershner, was one of the FPA board members who approved the statement. How could two colleagues from the same newspaper observing the same sequence of events come to such different conclusions?
“I was not in Gaza during the height of the hostilities, I have only been here a week,” Rudoren told me. “But in conversations with many colleagues, those who were here from NYT and other major news organizations who I trust, I have not heard about harassment, intimidation, censorship or threats. There have been a few anecdotes re Hamas people shooing photographers away from fighters’ faces at the hospitals, asking people not to shoot this or that, and yes, names and phone numbers were taken down in a spiral notebook of who was here, but nothing that these veteran war correspondents consider unusual.”
“I am confident the FPA based its statement on detailed reports from members regarding their experiences on the ground, and only had the best intention of protecting journalists and journalism, as it always does. But I found the wording of the statement overly broad, and, especially given the narrative playing out in some social media circles regarding foreign correspondents being taken in by the Hamas narrative and not reporting on the war fully or fairly, I was concerned that it undermined what I consider to have been brave and excellent work by very talented people,” she said.
Rudoren wasn’t actually there. Her conclusions are based on talking to colleagues. But several other reporters who spoke to Haaretz agreed with her. British freelancer Harry Fear was reporting for Russia Today TV when he was asked to leave Gaza by three plainclothes Hamas officials at Al-Shifa Hospital, apparently for referring to rocket launches near his hotel. But Fear said he did not feel he had been subjected to intimidation or interference for the four weeks he reported from Gaza, where he has worked intermittently since 2012.
More at Haaretz, including THIS:
Some reporters received death threats. Sometimes, cameras were smashed. Reporters were prevented from filming anti-Hamas demonstrations where more than 20 Palestinians were shot dead by Hamas gunmen.
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.
1) Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of ALL Jews — it says so in their charter and they refuse to repudiate it.
2) I am a Jew so Hamas is trying to kill me and my family.
3) Someone who supports, aids or provides information in support of Hamas (and by extension their mission) is an accomplice in my attempted murder and does not get to be my “friend”.
US-UN plan for 72-hour ceasefire and talks falls apart, as Hamas breaches truce with Rafah attack and kidnapping; after five soldiers killed Thursday, IDF death toll rises to 61
The Times of Israel is liveblogging events as they unfold through Friday, the 25th day of Operation Protective Edge. The US and UN announced a 72-hour truce from Friday morning to be followed by negotiations, but the truce quickly collapsed as Hamas carried out an attack in Rafah in which a soldier was kidnapped. Thursday saw 90 rockets fired at Israel, several Israelis hurt by mortar fire, ongoing IDF strikes at Hamas targets in Gaza and tunnel demolitions, and US criticism of an Israeli strike that killed a reported 15 people at a UN school in Gaza on Wednesday
Five IDF soldiers were killed late Thursday in a mortar attack inside the Israeli border; 61 soldiers and three civilians have been killed on the Israeli side in the 25 days of fighting, while Gazan health officials put the death toll there at over 1,400. Israel says hundreds of those are Hamas fighters.
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
About a 1,000 Palestinian Muslims in Gaza have found relative safety within the walls of a 900-year-old Greek Orthodox church.
“We have opened the church in order to help people. This is the duty of the church and we are doing all we can to help them,” Archbishop Alexios told Reuters as the sounds of small children echoed outside his office at the church.
“At the beginning there were 600 people and today they became a thousand - mostly children and women. Some of those children are a week old,” said the head of Gaza’s Greek Orthodox minority, the largest of the Christian communities here.