Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)
I mentioned in my last post the intention to return to the issue of ceasefires, and I will do so below. But I begin by noting that my greatest fear in this very necessary war we are waging now is that it should be terminated prematurely because of pressure for a ceasefire. Yet, in spite of that persistent unease, I think not. It’s simply too blatantly clear that we must do now what should have been done years ago.
We lost two soldiers today. But not in combat inside of Gaza. IDF reserve officer, Col. Amotz Greenberg, 45, of Hod Hasharon, and Sgt. Adar Bersano, 20, of Nahariya, were killed when a terrorist squad infiltrated from Gaza into Israel through a tunnel.
There were eight or nine terrorists, according to reports, who encountered a motorized IDF force on exiting the tunnel. In the battle that ensued, the two soldiers were killed. One of the terrorists was shot dead, while the remainder went back into the tunnel. They carried anesthetics and handcuffs with them, as well as arms, which meant they were going to attempt a kidnapping.
This, of course, simply reinforces the conviction that we have a great deal of work to do in Gaza. The IDF has identified some 36 tunnels, five of which go into Israel. Intensive work is being done to dismantle them, and to continue to seek out others that still exist. I’ve picked up a couple of reports regarding plans to dig a trench that would disable tunnels near the Gaza-Israel border, i.e., those that could lead into Israel. I’ll follow with more on this in due course.
Now there is talk that the operation will be stepped up further, and this is as it should be. We need to hit hard, as quickly as possible.
Dismantling the tunnels, while high on the IDF agenda, is not all that must be accomplished. Today, some 95 rockets were launched at Israel, and the south is still taking a beating. The IDF is now saying that about half of Hamas’s supply of 10,000 weapons is gone: Some 17% has been launched, while we have either hit or otherwise destroyed 30% to 40%. But that leaves 5,000 rockets still in Hamas hands.
And so, along with the ground assault, we are continuing to hit hard from the air and by sea.
This whole issue of all that must still be done allows me to segue directly into a report on what the State Department has had to say in the last couple of days.
On Thursday, Kerry said that he “reaffirmed” our right to defend ourselves against attacks from tunnels (nice of him) but called for the ground incursion to be restricted to a precise operation against the tunnels. In other words, we do not have a right to defend ourselves against rockets shot against our civilian population by removing caches of rockets and destroying launchers.
Kerry “emphasized the need to avoid further escalation and to restore the 2012 ceasefire as soon as possible.” I would simply brush this off with the greatest of contempt, but I believe there are points that have to be made here: The US secretary of state is working for the other side. He would save Hamas’s collective neck here.
On Wednesday, four children playing near a pier on the Gaza beach were killed by Israeli fire. Israeli officials immediately termed the incident “tragic” and let it be known that the children were near a Hamas installation that the Air Force was firing on. One might ask (should ask) why there were children playing in the open near a Hamas installation in the middle of a war. Why (this is rhetorical) they were not in shelters, the way Israeli children are.
State Department spokesperson Jan Psaki told reporters that the US was “asking for a redoubling of efforts moving forward to prevent civilian casualties given the events of the past couple days.”
What is more, she shared the information that in a phone call to Netanyahu, Kerry had said, “We believe there is more that can be done” to protect civilians. (Emphasis added)
This said to the head of state of the nation that is doing more than any nation in the world has ever done to protect the lives of civilians during a war. This is beneath contempt, and I say again that he is working for the other side and happy to give us bad press.
Now as to ceasefire issues. First, we are not returning to the 2012 ceasefire. That is what left Hamas arms intact. If and when a ceasefire is negotiated, finally, it would have to be a different kind all together.
Three nations are vying for involvement in mediating that ceasefire (let it be many days away!): Egypt, Turkey, and Qatar. This is not only because this role allows a nation to accrue prestige within the Muslim world – we’re looking at a power issue. Israel wants only Egypt involved because of inherently anti-Israel positions emanating from Turkey and Qatar. What must be noted here is that the US is promoting involvement by Qatar.
The US is saying that it’s time to bring in another party, since Egypt is not having success. This is likely because Egypt is not running rings around Hamas (more on this below). While Sisi, president of Egypt, considers the Brotherhood an enemy, Qatar is blatantly supportive of Muslim Brotherhood. And Hamas is a spin-off of the Brotherhood.
So what’s with the US?
What is being exposed here – hardly for the first time – is a predisposition by the Obama administration to support Muslim Brotherhood. I remind my readers that when Obama delivered his very first international address, in Cairo, he invited members of the Muslim Brotherhood to attend, and Mubarak was so incensed he boycotted the talk. When Morsi – of the Brotherhood – was being overturned, the US was supportive of him.
Thus, all efforts by the US to be involved here must be viewed as suspect. The US has just signed an $ 11 billion arms deal with Qatar.
I confess – and I am certainly not alone here – that I abhor the notion of a “ceasefire agreement” that includes any demands from Hamas to which we will have acceded. The thought of it makes me rip-roaring furious. They’ve been launching rockets at our civilian population, and each rocket launched is a war crime. So we should give these terrorists something that they are demanding in return for their ceasing their war crimes?
In the past several days, a number of their “demands” have made the press. Broadly speaking the focus is first on the release of terrorists from our prisons – specifically those released in the trade for Gilad Shalit and recently rearrested. And then on opening the borders of Gaza, via opening of crossings into Gaza from Israel and, via Rafah, from the Sinai. There has been talk of international guarantees, so that the crossings could never be closed again – a proposal that did not exactly catch Egypt’s fancy. But there have been other demands as well, such as securing permission for the people of Gaza to pray on the Temple Mount – which was rejected out of hand by Israel, as was the idea of a prisoner release.
Earlier this past week one ceasefire proposal put forth by Hamas actually had me laughing. They suggested a ten year cease fire, if we would fully lift the blockade of Gaza at sea. On the face of it, both aspects of this proposal are ridiculous. A ceasefire with an end: In ten years and one day they can, per agreement, start launching rockets again. Of course, they’d have about half a million cutting edge rockets by then, because they would have been bringing them in by sea for ten years.
Yea. Right. They cannot think us that stupid. They’re playing games.
But wait! This is quintessentially Muslim. It was a Hudna – a temporary period of quiet – they were offering, which in truth is all they offer. And it was modeled right after the Treaty of Hudaibiya, which was negotiated by their prophet. In 623 CE, Muhammad made a ten-year peace pact with the Quraysh tribe, which controlled Mecca. After two years, he saw that his strength had increased sufficiently to move on Mecca. And so he devised a pretext for attacking the Quraysh, who had their guard down because, after all, they had a treaty with Muhammad’s people. He defeated them and took Mecca. This sequence of events is so thoroughly engraved in Muslim consciousness that even Arafat referred to it after signing at Oslo (which tells us what Oslo was worth from the start).
So that’s the other factor: a ten year ceasefire would not last ten years. Or, put differently, Hamas would break any deal it signed as it was to its benefit to do so. This is something that should never be forgotten.
Originally, Netanyahu has been talking about disarming Hamas, with international support, as part of any ceasefire agreement. I would have much to say about this, but will bide my time now. If we do what needs to be done in Gaza, this issue may become moot.
Mentioned in closing here (with more to follow on this): Abbas is also seeking to be involved in ceasefire negotiations. To that end he will be meeting with Hamas’s politburo here Khaled Mashaal. And where is Mashaal quartered for many years now? In Doha, Qatar.
A correction: The video I shared last time that showed little children being given a demonstration of rocket launchings may have come from Syria and not Gaza. (With thanks to Bennett R. for this alert.)
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