Yuval Diskin, former Director of Shabak (Shin Bet) was interviewed by Spigel about the current situation in Gaza.
He’s not hopeful.
Yuval Diskin, former Director of Shabak (Shin Bet) was interviewed by Spigel about the current situation in Gaza.
He’s not hopeful.
As the fight in Gaza wears on, anti-Semites across Europe are attacking the continent’s Jews under the pretext of protesting Israel’s politics.
Since the beginning of the current war between Israel and Hamas, eight synagogues in France have been attacked. In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has asked for Jews to apologize for the actions of the Jewish state. In Germany, a prominent Muslim Imam gave a sermon asking Allah to kill all of the “Zionist Jews.”
The atmosphere in Europe since the beginning of the war has been so toxic that the foreign ministers of France, Italy, and Germany on Tuesday issued a rare joint statement condemning anti-Semitism at pro-Palestinian demonstrations.
All of this presents a troubling paradox for Zionism. The state of Israel was founded in 1948 as a haven for Jews. But in 2014 Europe’s anti-Semites have attacked Jews for the deeds of the Jewish state.
It is a classic anti-Semitic canard to punish any Jew for the perceived crimes of all of them. There is no evidence also to suggest that if Israel did not respond to rockets fired from Hamas, the Jews of Europe would be any safer or the continent’s anti-Semites would be any more tolerant. After all, some of the worst attacks on Jews in France occurred at a time of relative quiet in Israel.
But during a war that has claimed nearly 700 Palestinians and far fewer Israelis, Jewish leaders in Europe say their communities are being held responsible for the actions of Israel.
“If you are a French Jew you should not be responsible physically for what happens 4,000 kilometers away,” Roger Cukierman, the president of the umbrella organization representing the Jewish community in France known as CRIF, told The Daily Beast.
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.
Police said a window was smashed some time on Friday night or Saturday morning.
A replacement window was then smashed on Saturday afternoon or evening. Police are treating it as a religious hate crime.
They have appealed for anyone who witnessed the attacks or has any information about them to contact them on the non-emergency 101 number.
Rabbi David Singer said the Jewish community had been left shocked by the attack.
He said: “I think across the community, first of all, it’s very sad that it happened. I would imagine that there’s a certain amount of anger that it could happen, but angry in the sense of frustration, not angry in the sense that they’d want to do anything about it.
“Certainly, it’s very sad and very disturbing that Belfast would show its face like this.”
The Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said it was “totally unacceptable” for places of worship to be targeted.
“The Jewish community have been valuable members of our society for many years,” he said.
Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters descended upon “Little Jerusalem,” the Jewish neighborhood in the suburb of Sarcelles, north of Paris, on Sunday. Rioters threw a Molotov cocktail at a religious institution next to the synagogue, setting alight a Jewish pharmacy and mini-market, burned vehicles, destroyed property and wreaked havoc at the city’s train station while police tried to secure the area.
This neighborhood is home to one of France’s biggest Jewish communities, its members residing in a block of buildings centered around a synagogue and a Jewish school. Outside “Little Jerusalem,” the great majority of the population is of African and North African descent.
The situation here has been tense for more than a decade following several anti-Semitic attacks, so when pro-Palestinian organizations called for a protest at the local train station just days after clashes had erupted outside three Paris synagogues - it seemed obvious that things could get out of hand.
To avert public disorder the authorities had banned the Sarcelles rally, as was also the case with a number of events planned for this past weekend in the Paris area, including a protest that the Jewish Defense League wanted to hold.
But like the previous day, in Paris, the pro-Palestinian demonstrators defied the police and began to gather at 3 P.M. Sunday at the train station, about a mile from the local synagogue. The protesters had negotiated with police over the right to hear several speeches and then disperse.
One of the event’s organizers, Suleiman, called for peace.
“We’re not against Israel,” he said. “We just want peace for both Palestine and Israel. We have nothing against our Jewish brothers, our friends, our cousins.” He then added, “Allahu akbar (God is great).”
As the protest was staged on the day that commemorates the roundup of Jews in Paris in 1942, the organizers noted: “We respect World War II roundups but what you’re doing in Gaza is genocide, too.”
Quickly, the crowd started chanting anti-Israeli slogans, along the lines of “Israel is a murderer,” “[French President] François Hollande is an accomplice.”
When the speeches were over Suleiman asked the crowd about 20 times to leave, but it wouldn’t. Hundreds of people carrying Moroccan and other North African flags then started running. At first, they ran in the opposite direction of the synagogue, as police were blocking the street. Then they turned to a street parallel to that of the synagogue, under the gaze of hundreds of people watching them from above in tall buildings.
The crowd then turned again and reached the city’s main avenue, on which the synagogue is located, and then walked toward it. They burned cars, attacked a television crew, and chanted “Allahu akbar.”
Police were stationed on all the streets leading to the Jewish neighborhood, whose residents stood helplessly behind them. Some were afraid that relatives outside the quarter would get hurt.
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.
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Last updated: 2014-03-07 2:19 pm PST
All right, Zubin, hit it! -- Frank's onstage cue to conductor Zubin Mehta during their collaborative effort with the L.A. Philharmonic orchestra in 1970