Saturday, November 17, 2012

16,000 Reservists Called up; IDF Chief Prepares for Gaza Ground Assault

by Shlomo Cesana and Lilach Shoval

An air force strike on Gaza on Thursday. Dozens of Palestinian long-range rockets were destroyed in the first wave of attacks.
Photo credit: AP

Self-propelled 55 mm artillery gun ready for action on the Gaza border on Thursday.
Photo credit: Reuters

Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz (right) with GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Tal Russo in a war room near Gaza on Thursday.
Photo credit: IDF Spokesman's Unit

Operation Pillar of Defense entered its third day on Friday, and the Israel Defense Forces were preparing for a ground assault in Gaza by calling up thousands of reservists. The reservists will be joining the soldiers already moving toward Gaza, after IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz instructed forces to accelerate preparations for a ground operation. So far, 16,000 reservists have been sent voice messages telling them to report for duty.

In the meantime, the IDF struck dozens of targets in Gaza from the air and sea on Thursday and well into Friday. During the day, the government denied reports of a cease-fire, with one senior official saying "There is no talk of that at this point. We are continuing the operation and not discussing an exit strategy."

Army Radio reported on Friday, however, that Israel agreed to halt all offensive operations during a visit to Gaza by Egypt's prime minister, Hesham Kandil. However, once rockets were fired from the Strip, the temporary ceasefire was suspended. 

On Friday, a ground assault seemed imminent as infantry, tank and artillery units amassed close to the Gaza border.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday and later met with Homefront Defense Minister Avi Dichter, Israel Security Agency (ISA) chief Yoram Cohen and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, to discuss the situation in Gaza and how to proceed with the operation.

The defense minister requested and received approval from the government to call up a total of 30,000 reservists and to prepare the military for a large-scale ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

The political-security cabinet and Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee authorized both Netanyahu and Barak to expand the offensive in Gaza as they saw fit. The committee was scheduled to meet again on Friday to receive updates on the situation and to make further decisions if necessary.

As most of the long-range rockets Hamas possessed before the operation were destroyed by air strikes on the first day of the offensive, government officials expressed doubt on Thursday of Hamas' ability to launch missiles at the central Gush Dan region. One official said they may have a limited capability to fire such missiles and the possibility is being taken into account by the relevant authorities. It is clear, he said, that Hamas will try to score some morale-boosting points by firing missiles at Tel Aviv.

"The prime minister's instructions are to hit them hard and prepare for an expansion of the operation," the official said. 

Despite the assessments, however, an IDF spokesman confirmed on Thursday night that three Iranian-made Fajr-5 missiles had in fact landed not far from Tel Aviv in an apparent attempt by Palestinian groups to make good on their promise to strike the city during the conflict. The missile launches triggered sirens throughout Tel Aviv and Bnei Brak but no injuries or damage were reported in the incident. Netanyahu heard the sirens himself during his visit to the Kirya, the IDF's General Staff headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Former Defense Minister MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) remarked on the situation on Friday, saying that the operation in Gaza must continue in its current form. Ben-Eliezer told Israel Radio that he believed the operation was achieving its objectives. 

"Besides the assassination of Ahmed Jabari, an achievement in and of itself, many weapons stores were destroyed," Ben-Eliezer said. "We mustn't stop until they realize in Gaza that the rules of the game have changed and that Israel will no longer live with the regular violence-truce-violence routine." 

Officials in the Prime Minister's Office expressed satisfaction over U.S. President Barack Obama's support for Netanyahu and the operation on Wednesday. Netanyahu spoke with Obama on the phone, with the president agreeing that Israel has the right to defend itself. British officials echoed Obama's support.

The American president also spoke with Egyptian counterpart Mohammed Morsi and asked him to do all he could to prevent an escalation of the situation, which apparently prompted Morsi to send Kandil to Gaza in an attempt to broker a cease-fire.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon is also seeking a way to end the conflict and is scheduled to arrive in Israel next week to discuss the matter with Netanyahu, Lieberman and Barak. He will also meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Netanyahu also spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and expressed his dismay at a statement by Russian officials calling Israel the "aggressor." Netanyahu discussed the situation with other world leaders as well, including French President Francois Hollande and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Meanwhile, IDF units began moving southward, amassing near the Gaza border. Troops belonging to the paratroopers, Givati and Kfir brigades, as well as tank units and division staff commanders streamed to the south in preparation for a possible ground assault in Gaza.. 

Officers of the Gaza Brigade and Southern Command held meetings on Thursday to assess the situation and confirm their plans should a green light be given to enter Gaza.
Local and foreign media outlets covered the buildup of forces near the border and the IDF Spokesman's Unit distributed images of the buildup to news agencies in an apparent attempt to tell the world that the IDF is ready for more intense action in Gaza if rockets continue to be launched at Israel. 

Although the IDF has attacked more than 350 targets in Gaza up to this point, hundreds more appear on lists prepared by the IDF before the operation began.

Palestinian media reported on Thursday that the air force struck a target near the home of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in a possible warning to Hamas leaders that they too are in the IDF's crosshairs. IDF spokesmen refused to comment on the report.

In an address filmed by the PMO, Netanyahu said "Over the past day, Hamas has received strong blows from us. In addition to precision strikes on its military leadership, the IDF successfully struck Fajr missiles meant for Tel Aviv, Gush Dan and even further north."
Barak spoke to the media as well on Thursday and said "The launches against Gush Dan, and the volume of rockets in general, constitute an escalation. There will be a price that the other side will have to pay for this. I have instructed the IDF to expand the draft of reservists and prepare for any development that may occur."

Barak has ordered that the delivery of a fifth Iron Dome anti-rocket battery to the IAF's Aerial Defense Network be pushed up to Saturday night. The battery had originally been scheduled to be delivered to the IAF at the start of 2013.

Lieberman spoke with his counterparts throughout the world and told them that Israel is doing all it can to avoid harming innocent civilians in Gaza, although the rocket fire from Gaza is aimed directly at citizens residing in Israeli cities. "We do not intend to make do with a cease-fire which will inevitably be violated after one or two weeks. We intend to build a deterrence that will prevent the Palestinians from resuming terrorist activities against us."

Shlomo Cesana and Lilach Shoval


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Hamas Missile Launch Pad next to Mosque, Playground

by Aaron Klein


TEL AVIV – A missile launch site in the Gaza Strip was set up by Hamas just half a block from a mosque and children’s playground, according to aerial photographs provided to KleinOnline by the Israel Defense Forces today.

Israel on Wednesday carried out a surgical strike of the site in question – a Fajr-5 missile launch pad established in the heavily populated Zeitoun district of Gaza to fire long range rockets into the Jewish state.

The photograph of the launch site, posted above, shows a children’s playground and a mosque located about a half a block away as well as two civilian factories and a gas station also within a half a block radius.

In a new development, Hamas on Friday said it fired a rocket toward Jerusalem. Air sirens were heard in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Security sources confirmed one rocket had landed in an open area in a Palestinian village just outside Gush Etzion, a suburb located south of Jerusalem near Bethlehem.

Abu Abdullah, a spokesperson for Hamas’ so-called military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, told KleinOnline today the rocket fired at Jerusalem was aimed at the Knesset, or Israel’s parliament.

Abdullah also claimed Hamas was targeting the official residence of Israeli President Shimon Peres with the Jerusalem rocket fire.

“This is not the end of the surprises we can have,” Abdullah said.

“In some circumstances, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem will not be the last station of our targets.”

On both Friday and today air raid sirens were blasted in Tel Aviv and explosions could be heard.
In a dramatic display, today’s rocket fired at Tel Aviv was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome battery system, which had deployed in the region just hours earlier.

That rocket added to more than 240 Iron Dome interceptions throughout Israel since the beginning of what the Jewish state is calling Operation Pillar of Defense.

Since the beginning of that operation, more than 400 rockets have hit Israeli territory. Five Israeli civilians and 4 soldiers were injured by rocket fire today.

Meanwhile, Israel has been taking preparations for a possible ground operation into Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces said over 16,000 reservists have been mobilized, out of the now 75,000 approved for call-up by the Israeli government

The IDF told KleinOnline the Paratrooper and Givati Infantry brigades have completed what they say are final preparations for a potential ground operation. The forces are currently outside Gaza on standby awaiting orders.

NOTE: ‘Aaron Klein Radio’ will be broadcasting live from Tel Aviv on Sunday. Click here for details.

Aaron Klein


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'We were Convinced that Israel Would not Retaliate'

by Dr. Reuven Berko

It was a brilliant intelligence-driven military operation, reminiscent of the 2008 assassination of Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyeh. The assassination of Hamas' military commander Ahmed Jabari with a direct missile hit to his car, along with the killing of additional key Gaza terror figures, were a resounding opening shot. In a string of subsequent strikes from the air and from the sea, additional cars and stationary targets were eliminated. There is no doubt that Jabari's assassination severely crippled Hamas' military operations and greatly contributed to Israel's power of deterrence. It is very likely that Israel's precise intelligence and the intensity of the subsequent attack have also prompted Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah to hide even further underground in his bunker.

Senior Hamas officials didn't heed the warnings that Israel was keeping score and continued to fire rockets into southern Israeli towns — as orchestrated by Jabari. In this way, the various Gaza terrorist organizations dictated the daily routines of thousands of Israeli civilians, as well as the fate of their children. This week, it seems, the idea that Hamas is running a legitimate regime collapsed as terror organizations under its command continued to fire more and more rockets. The rhetoric and the threats aim for "beyond, beyond Tel Aviv" (a reference to a speech by Nasrallah in 2006, who threatened to strike further south than Haifa, saying "baada, baada" or beyond, beyond). But reality keeps getting better.

Jabari, born in 1960 to a Hebron family that immigrated to Gaza, has been a dead man walking since 1982 when he joined the ranks of Fatah. His life path, paved with terror attacks against Israelis, led him to an Israeli prison, where he served a 13-year sentence. During his time in prison he became friends with top Hamas terrorists, including Salah Shehade, Mohammed Deif (both of whom served as commanders of Hamas' military wing), Adnan al-Ghoul (an explosives expert considered to have invented the Qassam) and Ibrahim al-Makadmeh. Some of these murderers later joined the procession of shahidim (martyrs) like Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi and others in heaven.

It was the assassinations of Yassin and Rantissi that offered Jabari a shortcut to the top of Hamas' chain of command. In 2004, already with a lot of Israeli blood on his hands, Jabari evaded an attempt on his life that killed his son, his brother and an additional person. He managed to survive, strengthen Hamas and arm it, and star in additional terror attacks in between. All the while he smuggled weapons into Gaza. Most importantly, he planned and executed the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in 2006, held him captive for over five years and ultimately released him in exchange for 1,000 Palestinian terrorist prisoners.

His terrorist activities only served to make Jabari increasingly popular and he rapidly climbed to the highest echelons of the organization. Meanwhile, he displayed exceptional organizational skills and managed to incorporate changes into Hamas' armed forces, transforming the organization into a multi-branched military like any other, with links to Iran.

The man was not only brazen outward; he also waged internal battles against the very leadership of Hamas, especially against "outsider" politburo chief Khaled Mashal. In 2007, Jabari, along with key Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Zahar and others staged a military coup and forced Fatah out of Gaza — making Hamas the sole ruler of the Strip.

Among other roles Jabari also served as the so-called Hamas chief of staff — commanding the group's military wing, the "Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades." In this capacity, he was responsible for the organization's terrorist attacks and rocket fire on Israeli civilians. That is, up until the moment his crushed body parts were successfully launched into the "heavenly procession of the dead" that he so longed to join.

When these lines were written the Israel Air Force was still striking Hamas targets with full force. In the course of these strikes the IAF destroyed, among other things, stockpiles of long-range Fajr rockets, hidden in camouflaged pits. These pits were to be used to launch rockets further into Israel and shed the blood of Israelis living in the center of the country. These long-range rockets were being saved precisely for times such as these: the plan was that if Israel were to launch a full blown attack, the Israeli victim pool would be widened to include central Israel, rather than just the south. Instead, the Iron Dome missile defense system is turning out to be a cornerstone of Israeli deterrence, because it severely undermines Hamas' threat to the Israeli homefront.

Commentators have remarked with awe in recent days that the hum of drones, which had become a fixture in the auditory Gaza experience, has now ceased. According to these sources, Israel is now using a new type of weapon that guides missiles directly toward the target from a great distance, silently, while exploiting the element of surprise.

Jabari's assassination also prompted some of them to admit bitterly that Palestinian society was coming apart, and that Palestinians working with Israeli intelligence were providing information about Hamas targets.

Confusion and Accusations

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri self-righteously argued after the assassination that Hamas was actually preparing for a hudna — a sort of temporary ceasefire — with the "Zionist enemy." He made sure to stress, however, that even a hudna would include, as it has in the past, "incessant reminders" in the form of sporadic rocket salvos, which would continue, presumably, until Palestine is liberated.

The spectrum of indignant responses to Jabari's assassination was accompanied by self-righteousness and surprise at the Israeli response. After all, they keep insisting, the rockets fired from Gaza into Israeli towns haven't killed that many civilians. Therefore, they ask innocently, what is Israel so upset about? The Palestinians' spokespeople — including Israeli-Arab MK Taleb a-Sana — try to portray Hamas and the plethora of other Gaza terrorist groups as innocent parties; their only sin is that they have been turned into tools in the hands of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as part of the former's "bloody elections campaign."

These spokespeople claim that the Israeli operation in Gaza was intended to divert the Israeli public's attention away from internal economic and social ills, and to win votes with a populist invasion. One after another, these Hamas spokespeople can't seem to understand what could possibly be wrong with firing rockets at Israelis.

Meanwhile, there is also an extensive diplomatic effort underway. In the initial stages Hamas is mainly looking toward Egypt as well as the Arab League and other Arab countries that are veterans of the Islamic Arab Spring revolutions. According to Hamas' spokespeople, Israel underhandedly tricked Egypt. They say that Israel's response to Egypt's reconciliation efforts suggested that they were going to delay the planned Gaza offensive for the time being. That is how Israel deceived Egypt, put Hamas to sleep, and with "betrayal and deception" managed to surprise its operatives and exact revenge on Jabari for the prisoner exchange deal they were forced to make to secure Schalit's release in 2011, crippling Hamas in the process.

Hamas, therefore, is expecting Egypt to take action against Israel. From their perspective, Cairo must now prove that it is no longer Mubarak's Egypt, and fight for its Muslim honor. They must renounce the Israeli deception, freeze relations with Israel, deport the Israeli ambassador and recall the Egyptian ambassador from Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party in Egypt passionately and defiantly voiced even tougher demands.

Senior Palestinian Authority officials also condemned Israel's actions, but in their case it sounded more like lip service, in light of the blows being dealt to the organization that has as much hostility toward the PA as it does toward Israel.

In the meantime, as Egypt begins a slow rehabilitation process while dealing with internal divisions and upheaval alongside a crippling economic dependence on the West, Cairo has displayed solidarity with Hamas and has warned Israel that escalation in Gaza would invite repercussions. Egypt even convened a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers and approached the United Nations Security Council demanding an emergency meeting on Israeli aggression. The Israeli ambassador has indeed left Egypt, and the Egyptian ambassador has been recalled until further notice.

In the background there is an essential contradiction between the extreme Islamist identity of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's anti-Semitic regime and the country's existential interests. Egypt's survival depends, for the time being, on a positive relationship with the West. That is why Egypt, which hosted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas this week, will continue to mediate between Israel and Hamas, under American supervision, despite the crisis with Israel it has deliberately created to appease Hamas.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' associates accused Israel's government of adopting an opportunistic approach in deciding the timing of the Gaza offensive. This, they say, is motivated by the upcoming Israeli elections. These associates argue that the basis for the offensive was actually a move to foil Abbas' initiative to upgrade the PA's status at the U.N.

Both Hamas and Abbas' PLO have voiced the need to join forces in the face of the "malicious" Israeli hostility. But unfortunately, even the tone of these voices gave away the fact that these were empty words, and that there is no chance, not even under the current circumstances, for reconciliation between these two rival Palestinian factions.

The Palestinian obsession, especially on behalf of Hamas, with Israel's upcoming elections as a motive for Israeli actions actually raises suspicion that Hamas itself had timed the digging of a terror tunnel (which failed), meant to attack an IDF border patrol unit, and its escalation of rocket fire on Israel's south, to coincide with the Israeli elections campaigns. They did this fully aware of the political deliberations within Israel and the opportunity to pit Israeli politicians against one another with mutual accusations. Hamas may have assumed that this infighting would tie the Israeli government's hands, preventing Israel from retaliating for the attacks coming out of Gaza for fear of damaging accusations from the left-wing opposition. Because a retaliation is something that is inextricably linked with the elections process, in their minds. Therefore, Hamas' most recent onslaught was launched with the impression that Israel's hands would be politically tied and they would not respond.

Israel's response was their second surprise.

The agitated spokespeople for both Hamas and for the PLO called upon their groups to join forces against the Zionist enemy. They appealed to Arab nations, to the leaders of the Arab Spring revolutions and to the nations of the free world to take action to prevent Israel's aggression. The only thing missing was someone to remind us that the Arab countries are currently looking the other way while masses are being massacred daily in Syria. These countries won't do anything for Hamas but make declarations. From the perspective of most of the regimes in the Arab world, Hamas is an extension of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which poses a threat to their leaderships.

But Arab news commentators had to admit that the Palestinians, and Hamas in particular, are currently not the center of the world's focus, and Israel can take advantage of that to advance its own ends. They even pointed out Israel's successful public diplomacy campaign.

Hamas' conduct before and after Jabari's assassination demonstrated that in essence there is no difference between the organization's military wing and its so-called political (diplomatic) leadership. This was evident in the remarks made by Hamas' spokespeople, who called for targeted revenge attacks against the Israeli homefront (more of the "beyond, beyond Tel Aviv" rhetoric). At the same time, the same spokespeople were whining about the counterstrike launched by Israel on Gaza, which, contrary to an attack on the homefront, was characterized by a surgical focus only on terror-related targets.

The problem is that Hamas' spokespeople actually believe their own arguments. After all, even according to Jabari himself, every Jew in "Palestine" is as good as dead. This rhetoric again accentuated the inherent contradiction in the Hamas leaders' declarations, who claim to have a "lust" for death but still vow revenge when their operatives are sent to heaven.
A military solution

Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza view the ongoing confrontation with Israel as a years-long war of attrition. Their leaders are listening and can quote certain Israeli circles as remarking that "there is no military solution" — which serves to boost their motivation.

But Hamas actually only believe in a military solution, one that will continue until the Israelis get tired and go away. Even the hudna, as they see it, includes periodic but consistent rocket attacks (as a reminder), and not a permanent truce. Peace is not even a possibility for the Islamic movement, which sees recognition of Israel as heresy.

Operation Pillar of Defense, named after the biblical cloud pillar that guided the Israelites in the desert, is now guiding a new approach to handling terror: key figures and infrastructure. Taking the initiative back into Israel's hands and dealing a premeditated, painful and methodical blow to Hamas' key figures and its infrastructure. This is the best way to tire Hamas out and convince its leaders that the price of terror is intolerable.

Now, if Hamas wants to take out whatever resources it has left and exact revenge, their weapons reserves will be revealed, and pulverized. Hamas and the popular front organizations know full well that the hunt for people like Jabari will be followed by attacks on Gaza infrastructure. The Arab media is reporting that much of the Gaza population is hysterical. The question is, when will these hysterical voices reach Hamas?

Dr. Reuven Berko


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Report from the Rocket Zone

by P. David Hornik

By Thursday night Israel was well into its second war against the Gaza terror statelet since Israel’s ill-considered “disengagement” from Gaza in 2005, a move widely hailed at the time as ushering in a new era of peace.

The year leading up to the first Gaza war, 2008, saw over a thousand rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza. In 2009 and 2010, the years after that war, the attacks declined steeply; then they began to rise again and this year, 2012, had reached about 800 before Israel, on Wednesday, finally started to fight back again.

Israel launched the campaign on Wednesday afternoon with two major, successful hits: a lethal aerial strike on Ahmad Jabari, head of Hamas’s military wing and the most senior Hamas figure in the Strip, known especially to Israelis for masterminding the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit; and a series of strikes against Hamas’s Iranian-made long-range Fajr missiles, considered strategic because of their ability to hit the Tel Aviv area in central Israel.

Since then southern Israel has been enveloped in rocket firings from Gaza. On Thursday morning three people were killed in the town of Kiryat Malachi, 18 miles from Gaza, when a rocket made a direct hit on a building there. In my city, Beersheva, 25 miles from Gaza, the attacks have been so frequent that this article is literally being written in intervals between air-raid sirens. So far the city’s Iron Dome battery has intercepted most of the rockets and no serious injuries have been reported.

Israel was further stunned on Thursday night when, for the first time ever, rockets from Gaza hit the greater Tel Aviv area, indicating that the air force had not managed to destroy all the Fajrs and signaling a strategic escalation on Hamas’s part. Israel, for its part, had hit over 200 targets in Gaza including terror hubs and arms caches.

On Thursday morning the Israeli air force dropped leaflets on Gaza warning civilians to stay out of the line of fire. That meant the war’s moral asymmetry was absolute, with one side doing its utmost to avoid civilian casualties and the other, Hamas and other Gaza terror groups like Islamic Jihad, launching hundreds of projectiles meant to kill, injure, and terrorize as many civilians as possible.

That did not, however, prevent Mohammed Kamel Amr—foreign minister of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood regime, in power since July—from asking U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton for “immediate U.S. intervention to stop the Israeli aggression.” And the spokesman for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, had still stronger words, saying Morsi had been “follow[ing] the Israeli brutal assault.”

As opposed to words, Egypt’s actions so far have been relatively mild. On Wednesday, immediately after the hostilities began, Egypt’s ambassador to Israel was recalled. On Thursday it was announced that Egypt’s prime minister Hesham Kandil—far less significant than Morsi—would be paying Gaza a solidarity visit on Friday.

In other words, despite the Muslim Brotherhood regime’s radical hostility to Israel, it is probably in no shape at this point to make more than symbolic gestures in Hamas’s defense, with Egypt not far from economic collapse and desperately dependent on U.S. aid. In other regards, too, the regional situation gives Israel a window for action, with both Syria and its Lebanon-based ally, Hizballah, enmeshed in trying to put down the Syrian rebellion.

After a day of aerial and tank fire at the Strip, it was reported by Thursday evening that Israel was calling up 30,000 reserve soldiers, making a ground invasion of the Strip likely. Israel’s goals probably do not include toppling Hamas, since Israel does not want to either reoccupy Gaza or install the Palestinian Authority there, but certainly do include regaining its deterrence by hitting Hamas hard, and restoring normal life to the people of southern Israel.

Although reactions from Washington and London have so far been supportive, it is hard to be optimistic that the West will keep backing Israel when Palestinian casualties start flashing across TV screens. It will be a shame, since one cannot imagine a more just war than one between, on the one hand, a country simply seeking to live in peace, and on the other, savage terror organizations trying to destroy it.

It’s to be hoped that, however much flak is flying Israel’s way, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak will stay the course.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator in Beersheva, Israel. He blogs at


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Gaza Conflict Wasn’t Launched to Help Bibi

by Jonathan S. Tobin

Hamas rockets reached Jerusalem today as the terrorist barrage on Israel continued. Rather than being silenced by Israeli counter-attacks the Islamists have apparently been emboldened by the ardent support they have received from both Egypt and Turkey and have raised the ante in the conflict. That leaves Israel’s government having to choose between a cease fire that will give Hamas a victory or to launch a costly ground invasion of Gaza that might inflict serious damage on the terrorists and perhaps restore some much of deterrence. But looming over all of the discussions about the country’s options is the accusation that the fighting this week has been motivated more by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s re-election campaign than Israel’s security.

That’s the theme being sounded by a chorus of leftist critics of the PM on the Haaretz op-ed page and is even being echoed by President Obama’s good friend and Hamas ally Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today according to Ynet. Leaving aside Erdoğan’s fantastic claim that the several hundred rockets that have been fired at Israel are a “fabrication,” the notion that the decision to try and stop the rocket attacks is connected to Israel’s parliamentary election scheduled for January.

Considering how unpopular Netanyahu is outside of his own country as well as with Israel’s media, it’s hardly surprising that this sort of thing would be said. But it should also be understood that it is complete nonsense. The timing of the conflict was determined by Hamas, not Israel and far from boosting Netanyahu’s chances of winning re-election, the growing violence is much more of a liability than it is an opportunity to win votes.

First of all, the notion that Netanyahu need a “wag the dog” style war to be assured of winning in January is absurd. The prime minister’s Likud has been a prohibitive favorite for months. While there has been virtual unanimity about the fact that Likud will form the next coalition, any doubts that his party would receive the most votes was erased by the merger with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu group. Though the expanded Likud may not dominate as much as Netanyahu hopes, it’s probably a lock to receive more Knesset seats than any party has won in 20 years.

A war may boost Netanyahu’s personal popularity while the fighting is going on but that isn’t likely to translate into extra votes for his party in January. After all, centrist voters who are uncomfortable with Lieberman or even the prime minister are more likely than not to stick with Yair Lapid or any of the other alternatives that will probably wind up in Netanyahu’s coalition anyway.

Far more important to these calculations is that there may be more votes lost than won from a conflict.

It is true that had Netanyahu allowed Hamas to go on pounding the south as they did this past weekend, it would have undermined his credibility as a leader.  Nor would the approximately one million Israelis who live in proximity to Gaza appreciate him leaving them unprotected. But the counter-attack exposes him to criticism on a number of key points.

Having set out this week to clip Hamas’s wings and restore Israel’s deterrence factor, how will it look if the fighting stops with the Islamist group’s power intact and in position to declare a victory. Indeed, with more than half of the hundreds of rockets launched by Hamas getting through Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome anti-missile system and with rockets landing in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem since the offensive started, it’s hard to argue that even the hard blows administered to the terrorists this week have made a dent in their ability to threaten the Jewish state.

If Netanyahu decides not to accept a cease fire under these conditions and launches a ground attack on Gaza of some sort that will satisfy some Israelis but the heavy casualties that will be suffered by both sides will be also be held against him as well as heightening foreign pressure to stand down before Hamas’s infrastructure is significantly damaged. While a clear success would make him look good, does anyone really believe that under the circumstances and the advantages Hamas has in asymmetrical warfare it is likely that such an outcome is likely.

Most important, it should be remembered that Hamas launched this conflict for its own purposes. It was Hamas that dug the tunnel under the border with Israel to facilitate future terror attacks and whose discovery set the first attacks in motion. It was Hamas that chose to fire at Israeli army vehicle across the border. And it was Hamas that decided that rather than instead of a limited exchange of fire after these incidents, it would launch a barrage of over 150 missiles into Israel on Sunday and Monday.

This decision was related to Hamas’s desire to upstage the Palestinian Authority and its bid for United Nations recognition. The flexing of their muscles was also about their desire to bolster the group’s popularity, something that required them to re-establish their reputation as the Palestinian group that was best at killing Israelis. None of that had much to do with Israel’s election, let alone Netanyahu’s political interests.

The long-term impact of the conflict that Hamas has fomented has yet to be determined. But whatever it turns out to be, ascribing it to a plot to re-elect Benjamin Netanyahu reflects the malice that many observers have for the prime minister, not a clear-headed analysis of the situation.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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Terrorist Release is Rebuff for Obama

by Max Boot

The loathsome Ali Musa Daqduq, a senior Hezbollah operative who engineered the kidnapping and killing of five American soldiers in Iraq in 2007, is reportedly back in Beirut, no doubt basking in his new-found freedom to plan fresh terrorist outrages. His release from Iraqi custody, while not unexpected, is nevertheless dismaying. The U.S., after having released all other detainees, turned him over last to Iraqi custody in 2011 hoping against hope that the Iraqis could somehow be persuaded to keep him locked up. Fat chance.

What makes the whole situation really pathetic is that Vice President Biden called Prime Minister Maliki in recent days pleading for Daqduq not to be released. The fact that he was set free anyway is hardly a sign of Maliki’s respect for the rule of law. It is a sign of how little influence the U.S. now wields in Iraq and how much influence Iran now has. Daqduq, after all, was in Iraq working for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to train Shiite militants to attack U.S. personnel. His release is a big victory for Iran and a big defeat for the United States.

If President Obama is chagrined about the outcome, he had no one to blame but himself. His failure to make a serious push to maintain U.S. forces in Iraq past 2011 means that our influence over that country’s future is marginal. There is little, alas, we can do as Iraq aligns itself more closely with Iran and against our interests in the region.

Max Boot


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"Islam Needs a Fair Chance in Germany"

by Soeren Kern

The most controversial part involves a commitment by the city government to promote the teaching of Islam in the Hamburg pubic school system. The agreement grants the leaders of Hamburg's Muslim communities a determinative say in what will be taught by allowing them to develop the teaching curriculum for Islamic studies. Muslim officials will also be able to determine who will (and will not) be allowed to teach courses about Islam in city schools -- meaning that only Muslims will be allowed to teach Islam. Muslims, for their part, are hoping the Hamburg treaty will establish a precedent for the rest of Germany to follow.
Hamburg, the second-largest city in Germany, has concluded a "historic treaty" with its Muslim communities that grants Muslims broad new rights and privileges but does little to encourage their integration into German society.

The November 13 agreement, signed by Hamburg's Socialist Mayor Olaf Scholz and the leaders of four Muslim umbrella groups, is being praised by the proponents of multiculturalism for putting the northern port city's estimated 200,000 Muslims on an equal footing with Christian residents.
But critics say the agreement, the first of its kind in Germany, will boost the growing influence of Islam in Hamburg and will encourage the perpetuation of a Muslim parallel society in the city.
The most controversial part of the accord involves a commitment by the city government to promote the teaching of Islam in the Hamburg public school system. The agreement grants the leaders of Hamburg's Muslim communities a determinative say in what will be taught by allowing them to develop the teaching curriculum for Islamic studies.

Moreover, Muslim officials will also be able to determine who will (and who will not) be allowed to teach courses about Islam in city schools. In practice, this means that only Muslims will be allowed to teach Islam and that pupils will not be exposed to any critical perspectives about the religious, social and political ideology of Islam.

Under the wide-ranging accord, Muslims in Hamburg will also have the right to take three Islamic holidays as days off from work. Up until now, it has been up to individual employers to decide whether or not to grant Muslim staff religious days off on a case-by-case basis. In addition, Muslim students will be exempt from attending school on Muslim holidays.

The agreement also includes provisions for the construction of more mosques in Hamburg, the upkeep of cultural Islamic facilities, the authorization for Muslims to bury their dead without the use of coffins, as well as the counseling of patients and prison inmates by Muslim clerics.

Hamburg has also pledged to incorporate Muslim broadcast slots alongside Protestant and Catholic broadcasts on public and private radio and television, as well as broadcasting council seats for Muslims with the northern Germany's NDR public broadcaster and Germany's federal ZDF television channel.

Muslims for their part undertake to respect fundamental rights and support equality between the sexes, although the document provides no specifics on how these notions are defined or how they will be enforced.

Mayor Scholz, who is a former federal labor minister of the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), described the signing at the Hamburg city hall as a "milestone" for integration, adding: "With the signing of these agreements, we are strengthening the societal foundation of our city: we are all Hamburg."

Hamburg's agreements were made with the city's Alevi community (Alevis are a liberal sect within Islam based mostly in Turkey) and three Muslim umbrella organizations: the DITIB Turkish-Islamic Union (DITIB), the Council of Islamic Communities (Shura) and the Federation of Islamic Cultural Centers (VIKZ). Together these four groups are said to represent about 90% of the Muslims living in Hamburg.

Zekeriya Altug, chairman of the Hamburg branch of the DITIB Turkish-Islamic Union (DITIB is actually a branch of the Turkish government's Ministry of Religious Affairs), called it a "historic day" for both Hamburg and Germany. In a statement Altug said: "With it, Hamburg has today set a precedent for the future of our country. Many Muslim employees didn't dare ask for days off on those days for fear of being seen badly. Now they will be able to say: 'It's my holiday, it's governed by law.' That makes an enormous difference."

The agreement still requires final approval by Hamburg's Parliament, in which Scholz's Social Democrats hold a majority. Mayor Scholz said he hoped for a "broad consensus." The opposition Greens have welcomed the accords; Green Party spokesperson Christa Goetsch called them "a new chapter in the history of equality." And Hamburg's Protestant Bishop Kirstin Fehrs said the agreement proved that Hamburg was "open to the world and tolerant."

Nevertheless, SPD parliamentary leader Andreas Dressel urged caution. In an interview with the German newspaper Die Welt, he said political leaders should "take their time before approving such important matters." He said the Hamburg Parliament's Constitutional Committee will convene an expert hearing on the agreement and that a vote will not take place until the spring of 2013.
The leadership of the opposition Christian Democrats (CDU) has also expressed skepticism about the agreement. Party leader Marcus Weinberg and party chairman Dietrich Wersich issued a joint statement saying that although they welcome the conclusion of the talks, after six years of negotiations there are key issues that remain unresolved: "The agreements contain a number of points, the implementation of which need to be clarified. For this reason, the CDU will not take a final position on the matter until it concludes discussion with representatives of the churches, with scientists and with lawyers. The unresolved questions involve detailed issues such as the regulation of the school day, the teaching of religion in public schools and the holidays."

The agreement has also been met with vociferous opposition from the classical liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP). In a statement, FDP Deputy Anna von Treuenfels characterized the agreement as "an unnecessary and imprecise treaty unacceptably negotiated behind the backs of the citizenry." She added: "Moreover, this agreement is totally imprecise when accuracy is required more than ever. On the issue of wearing religiously motivated clothing by public servants, especially teachers [sic]. Even the future of the heretofore successful interdenominational model of religious education in Hamburg is being jeopardized. Plus the fact that the lengthy negotiating process and final signature has been carried out without parliamentary involvement is also unacceptable, yet another reason why the FDP rejects this treaty."

The Central Council of Ex-Muslims, a Cologne-based group representing former Muslims who have been sentenced to death for apostasy, said the signing of the accord on November 13 represented a "black day" for Germany. Chairperson Mina Ahadi said: "The city of Hamburg has bowed to pressure Islamic organizations and has made concessions that are a step backwards and do not improve the rights of women."

Muslims for their part hope the Hamburg treaty will establish a precedent for the rest of Germany to follow. The spokesperson for the Alevi community in Germany, Aziz Alsandemir, says: "We hope that this accord will be viewed as a trigger by other provinces."

Bremen, the second-largest city in northern Germany, is close to finalizing its own treaty with local Muslim umbrella groups. According to the Socialist mayor of Bremen, Jens Böhrnsen, "Muslims form a significant part of the population of Bremen." The German states of Baden-Württemberg and Schleswig-Holstein, both of which are run by Socialist governments, are also looking at negotiating treaties with the Muslims in their regions.

At the national level, the SPD has said it would like to see Islam recognized as an official religion in Germany. In an interview with the newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, SPD politician Dieter Wiefelspütz said: "It would be an important signal to the four million Muslims in Germany, if the state recognizes Islam as a religious community." He added: "Islam needs a fair chance in Germany."
Why are Germany's Socialist politicians, who are usually militantly proud of their secular credentials, bending over backwards to accommodate Islam? The SPD hopes to unseat German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the German elections in the fall of 2013, and Muslim voters may very well determine the outcome. 

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Suggestions for the Arab Gulf

by Najat Fawzy AlSaied

Turkey plans to revive its Ottoman Empire, Iran its Persian hegemony over the Gulf region, and the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists announce that they want to fulfill their dream of the revived Caliphate – all in the name of democracy.
Nothing can teach us more about the perils of a promised rapid transition to liberal democracy than the human rights abuses and chaos we ­­­have witnessed recently in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The West called these revolutions, or this upheaval, the "Arab Spring," while others in the region have referred to it as resulting in an "Islamic Winter," a term with which I agree. The oil-rich countries of the Arab Gulf in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries might do well to learn lessons from the countries that have experienced these revolutions. The only way for GCC countries to endure the blizzard of the "Islamic Winter" is by building democracy gradually, brick-by-brick, grounded in a robust model of development.

The dangerous mistake made by the West, under the leadership of the Obama administration, is its use of an ill-defined notion of democracy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA); it leads to mixed signals and exploitation. Such a loose definition of democracy, combined with the absence of a clear strategy for implementation, leaves a vacuum for countries and groups to take advantage of a period of turmoil to pursue their own agendas.

In the name of democracy, Qatar has exploited the Arab uprisings to expand its power in the region; similarly, Saudi Arabia, under the banner of democracy, wants apparently to spread its Wahhabism. Turkey plans to revive its Ottoman Empire, Iran its Persian hegemony over the Gulf region, and the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists announce that they want to fulfill their dream of the revived Caliphate -- all, they claim, in pursuit of democracy.

The West, therefore, must be very specific when considering what constitutes democracy and who counts as a human rights activist in the Middle East. There are some key questions that should be thought through very carefully. Does the West consider political Islamists or radicals in GCC countries to be human rights activists, such as members of the United Arab Emirates Al-Islah movement: Al Qaida sympathizers who are against religious tolerance, and women's and minorities' rights? Does the West consider movements such as the Al Wefaq National Islamic Society in Bahrain, who are allied with the Iranian regime, and whose members threaten the sovereignty of GCC countries, as human rights activists?

The other mistake made by Western countries is their continued reliance on GCC countries such as Qatar – which does not respect human rights on its own soil – previously to depose Gaddafi and currently to oppose Bashar Al-Assad in Syria. Qatar's true aspirations for these countries are neither democracy nor open societies, but regional domination. In what way can a country like Qatar that subsidizes Hamas and detained a Qatari poet, Mohammed Al Ajami, for his peaceful criticism of the ruling system, help proponents of democratic uprisings in the revolutionary Arab countries? Miscalculations like these caused the terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012; the motive for which the Obama administration, ridiculously, attributed at first to protests against a low-budget film that insulted Islam.

GCC countries would be mistaken if they thought that the best way to combat the threat of Islamists inspired by the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the danger of the Shia Muslims allied with Iran would be by backing other opposing radicals. For example, since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Saudi Arabia has heavily empowered the "Salafis" – a camouflage term for ultra-fundamentalist Wahhabis – to face the Shia Crescent backed by Iran. Over time this has created Saudi terrorists who now threaten the Saudi regime, killing Americans whenever they can. Moreover, this tactic has in no way weakened Iranian power in the region. Saudi Arabian officials would be mistaken if they thought that reinforcing support for Wahhabi, or so-called "Salafi" clerics would create a bulwark against the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamists.

On the contrary, this generates more Islamist totalitarianism and radicalism in the region, and may even result in events no less disastrous than those of September 11, 2001. Bahraini leaders will make the same mistake if they think they can counter the Shia majority opposition by relying on the Muslim Brotherhood and Wahhabi, or "Salafi," groups. These leaders must remember that Sunni Islamists, regardless of their differing rhetoric, share the same ambition for realization of the Caliphate project, with all Muslim countries subordinated to a single political and religious authority, as revealed in the views of Saudi Wahhabi clerics Salman Al-Ouda and Aaidh Al-Qarni, who supported the Brotherhood and praised their gains in social media.

The best way GCC countries can shield themselves from such threats is by pursuing a development model that will lead to the gradual introduction of democracy. Dhahi Khalfan, a Lieutenant General and Chief of the Dubai Police Force, mentioned on several occasions that development and reform are the best tools for challenging Islamists' threats and for retaining the sovereignty of GCC countries. However, Khalfan's statements on social media sites are not sufficient to counter the dangerous threat that Islamists pose. His ideas and speeches must be made real, by the creation of institutions embodying them, allowing them to have greater impact across the Gulf region.

Evidence indicates that the Gulf's wealth alone is not enough to protect it from a growing demand for political rights. Demonstrations that have taken place in Kuwait, Bahrain and in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia should be taken seriously. How to accomplish a transition from a good standard of living in an undemocratic country, to the establishment of a democratic government, should be studied carefully. Steps taken towards a fully-functioning democracy must be considered and gradual. One appropriate program would be the establishment of democracy academies that would train political parties in the foundations of democratic rule. These parties should be taught to disentangle themselves from tribal, sectarian and ethnic strife. These parties, be they conservative or liberal, must learn to protect fundamental human rights and freedoms. A religious party, for instance, that wants to implement an interpretation of Sharia law, which would violate women's and minorities' rights, should be prohibited.

Such academies must be the first action toward political reform; cosmetic "advisory election committees" established in some GCC countries are not the solution. Democracy must be based on real and extensive political education, not on improvised interest groups monitoring a process that may be premature or superficial.

The next stage in political reform is to draft and adopt constitutions that embody respect for human rights and equality. The establishment of civil society bodies to push for both development and democratic progress is also essential.

All of this should be carried out in conjunction with a thorough national-level process of development and reform in all GCC countries. This should start with a push for educational excellence that could be achieved largely through improving the quality of public schools and higher education. A reduction in unemployment, especially among young people, is also crucial. One of the reasons for enhancing education would be to generate more skilled graduates.

Important measures towards reform that need to be taken by GCC states immediately are a more equal distribution of wealth and an effective curb on financial and administrative corruption. Adherence to religious doctrines does not promise less corruption; in the Corruption Perception Index for 2008, Saudi Arabia, irrespective of its ultra-rigid Wahhabi domination, was the most corrupt of all GCC states. Saudi Arabia ranked at the 80th position, low on the list of limiting corruption, compared to the 35th place, with much less corruption, for the UAE. To confront corruption, there should be more transparency, especially in business transactions, more social justice, and greater executive, judicial and legislative reform. In addition, the persistence of nepotism in positions of authority is a factor encouraging corruption. Power in GCC states is confined mostly to certain families and individuals, who are selected not on the basis of their qualifications but by virtue of membership in certain networks. An official holding lifelong tenure should not be acceptable; when officials reach a certain age a successor should be selected. GCC countries have also underperformed on some Millennium Development Goals (MDG) measures such as poverty reduction, and in collating statistics and data on poverty.

If GCC countries hope to be the "economic tigers" of the Middle East and to prepare themselves for a post-oil future, they must be ready to create the conditions enabling investment to thrive and flourish. An investment environment is not all about money. Investors would also want any foreign staff be able to enjoy some aspects of their culture and religion in a GCC host country. Leaders in Saudi Arabia, for example, should lift restrictions on women and allow non-Muslims places of worship.

Improving the status of women in the GCC countries is also vital for development and fundamental to the democratic process. The requirement in Saudi Arabia of a male guardian's approval in nearly every aspect of a woman's life, especially affecting education and employment, can hinder development. This has led to a high rate of illiteracy among women, which in turn perpetuates high unemployment among women, and the proportion of Saudis below the poverty line has risen to 22 percent. Despite investment in women's education in GCC countries, women are underrepresented in leading roles such as senior executive positions in politics, public administration and professions in the private sector. Women in some GCC countries are restricted from entering architecture and engineering. Based on the United Nations report on human development in 2007/08, Saudi Arabia has the lowest female economic participation rate, at 20 percent, of all GCC countries, compared to 49 percent in Kuwait, which ranks the highest. There should also be more women's organizations. Many such organizations cannot be managed independently and are often subject to government checks or are tied to a religious party. Nevertheless, women's organizations are essential for the development process in the GCC region.

After working on all the above recommendations, there will be a need for federal and regional integration in areas of the economy, defence and foreign policy. Members of the GCC should try to bury any vestiges of historical disagreement or conflict between them, if they are to achieve a reformed and sovereign GCC region.

The lessons learned from the Arab revolutions are that building a liberal democracy overnight can be misused and freedoms misinterpreted, resulting in chaos and corruption. GCC states need to understand that institutional reform during such turmoil in the region is inevitable. To avoid any anarchy or further instability in the GCC region, there needs to be a step-by-step approach to building democracy, with the focus on development and reform. This path is the means, in addition, for GCC states to protect themselves from both foreign and domestic opportunists. 

Najat AlSaied is a Saudi PhD researcher in media and development at University of Westminster in London. She can be reached at:

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Beware of 'Pallywood' Magic

by IPT News

Fighting between Palestinian terrorists in Gaza and Israeli troops all but guarantees civilian casualties. With the fighting comes heart-wrenching photos of the dead and wounded, along with their grieving loved ones.

Each death represents a human tragedy.

But sometimes, reality is not enough. Some Palestinians have been caught faking images or appropriating them from other conflicts. This form of propaganda has been dubbed "Pallywood," and the nascent conflict already has several examples.
Tablet Magazine's Adam Chandler exposed one, a terrible image of a grieving father holding his dead child as mournful doctors look on helplessly. Hamas's military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigade, sent the picture out on Twitter. It's a dead child all right, but it took place in Syria, not Gaza, and had nothing to do with this week's violence.
It's powerful to see the wounded being rushed into ambulances, and in the crucial battle for public sympathy, some Palestinians put on a show for international news cameras, as the web site Honest Reporting shows in this video.
The video shows a Palestinian in a beige jacket being hustled away due to an apparent injury following an Israeli airstrike. Moments later, it appears the same Palestinian has miraculously recovered.

These two cases exemplify Hamas' attempts to exaggerate the number of Palestinian casualties throughout the recent escalation of violence with Israel. But this strategy is nothing new.

When Israeli troops entered the West Bank city of Jenin in 2002 to root out terrorists there, reports of a "massacre" surfaced immediately and were accepted by western media. More than 1,000 people were reported killed. In the end, the death toll was revised to 56.

The ruse went so deep that Palestinians were caught faking funerals with corpses who weren't dead yet.

During Israel's 2008-09 incursion into Gaza, reports claimed that a United Nations school building in Jabaliya was bombed, killing more than 40 people.
It just didn't happen.

In the social media and communications age, the public relations war is a vital component of Israel's struggle to win the hearts and minds of the international community. Israel Defense Forces are using Twitter and live updates to present its side of the equations. It also is vital to continue exposing Palestinian deception.

IPT News


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Hamas' Confounding Motivation

by IPT News

Palestinian advocates blame Israel for the latest clashes in Gaza, pointing out Israel's vastly superior military edge.

That superiority might be the one fact not in dispute. But it raises the question of why Hamas would provoke Israeli retaliation by firing hundreds of rockets at civilians, and now by broadening those attacks to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

It could be pure anger and madness. But other factors may be in play.

Hamas may have underestimated Israel's reaction to the incessant rocket attacks, believing Israel was not prepared to further strain deteriorating relations with the new Egyptian government. As a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot, Hamas may expect Egypt would deter Israel from taking severe action. Furthermore, Turkey's ongoing support for Gaza and recent exhibits of Arab solidarity, such as the Qatari emir's visit to Gaza in October, may have been construed as a sufficient increase in the diplomatic risk facing potential Israeli retaliation.

In light of the emergence of more assertive jihadi groups operating in Gaza, Hamas' control over the territory has been eroding. As a result, Hamas' reputation as the main "resistance" force to Israeli "occupation" has diminished. In this context, Hamas seeks a more active and leading role in the fight against Israel to enhance its dominance of Gaza and restore its image regionally. This is exemplified by Hamas claiming responsibility for Friday's rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and even the Israeli capital, Jerusalem.

Domestic concerns within the Palestinian political arena may also have a role in the timing of this escalation. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas intends to request the upgrading of the PA's status within the United Nations General Assembly on Nov. 29. The date is symbolic since the UN voted for the partition plan to facilitate a two-state solution on November 29, 1947 – an offer Abbas has stated was a mistake for the Palestinians to reject. The recent rocket fire may be an attempt by Hamas to subvert the broader 'peace process,' as the Palestinian issue is set to receive significant international attention in the coming weeks.

With internal and global considerations in play, analyzing Hamas' motivations for instigating this confrontation may be the key to institute the appropriate American and international pressure required to facilitate a de-escalation in the violence. Otherwise, Israel will be forced to take more aggressive action to quell the unbearable rocket fire.

IPT News


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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mordechai Kedar: Abbas, ya Bahai, Get Lost!!

by Mordechai Kedar

Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)
Muhammad As’ad Bayoudh al-Tamimi is a Palestinian columnist living in Jordan. In the past he has often clearly expressed the opinions of the man on the Arab street. Following the interview that Muhammad Abbas gave to Channel 2 (aired on Nov. 2, 2012), in which he gave up the right to return to live in Safed, Israel rejoiced that Abu Mazen had surrendered the "right of return" in the name of the Palestinian people. Abbas himself denied doing so afterward, but "the horse had escaped from the barn".

In response to the surrender of Mahmoud Abbas, al-Tamimi wrote the following article, entitled: "Abbas, get lost, Palestine belongs to us and we will only replace it with Paradise". The title lends itself to two short explanatory comments:

1. The expression "Get lost" was the slogan that accompanied the "Arab Spring". It was the peoples' call to bin Ali in Tunisia, Mubarak in Egypt, Qadhaffi in Libya, Saleh in Yemen and Asad in Syria. What al-Tamimi hints at is that Abbas has no more legitimacy as a leader than they did, and therefore his future will be like theirs.

2. Paradise in this context is death, meaning "Palestine or Death".
Below is the article (with my comments, M.K.)
The recent declarations of the person who is called "Abu Mazen" (whose real name is, M.K.) Mahmoud Rida Abbas Mirza, and is of Iranian origin, appeared on the 95th anniversary of the infamous Balfour Declaration, according to which "Great Britain" awarded Palestine - the blessed land (the alleged name for Palestine based on the Qur'an, M.K.), our homeland, the land of Islam - to the Jews whose rights to the land don't even amount to the weight of a mustard seed. The declarations (of Abbas, M.K.) are a confirmation of the promise of Balfour and are a great betrayal on the part of anyone who claims to be a leader of the Palestinian people and its legitimate representative, and I don't know where he who is nicknamed "Abu Mazen" (a mocking reference, M.K.) got his legitimacy and who brought him to be a leader.
The Palestinian people know how this man with Iranian roots and Bahai faith (a religion that originates from Islam, M. K.) a Safavid (a member of an Iranian dynasty, M.K.) was brought in, to sit on the neck and the back of the Palestinian people, in order to fulfill the role of faithful watchdog, and the one who brought him is Sharon who used tanks to impose his leadership as prime minister of the virtual authority in order to usurp forcefully the authorities of Arafat, who refused to surrender the right of return and Jerusalem, just as he refused to come to a historical  agreement with the Jews. Therefore he (Sharon, M.K.) had no choice but to get rid of Arafat. Sharon began a war against the Palestinian people and invaded the West Bank in 2000, ruined the Muqata'a in Ramallah where Arafat was holed up, proclaimed Abu Mazen as prime minister and the spy Muhammad Dahlan as minister of the interior, and these things cleared the way for the physical elimination of Arafat after they eliminated him politically by the order of Sharon... and after these two served the role that Sharon assigned to them, a disagreement broke out between them about who would inherit the leadership, and Abu Mazen won with the support of the Jews, which he got because of his ideological closeness to them.
This is why he fulfilled  the task that was imposed upon him with complete faithfulness, since this mission is to oppress the Palestinian people, to tyrannize it and to humiliate it in the name of the thieving entity (a name for Israel, M.K.), because the Jewish entity, ever since its inception, has never enjoyed as much peace and tranquility as it does now, in the time of Mahmoud Rida Abbas Mirza, which proves how much he hates the Palestinian people, and how faithful he is to the Jews. Whether there is a reason for it or not, he always emphasizes his faithfulness to them by requesting friendship with them, flattering them, satisfying their desires and submitting to them. He again says with the deepest disgrace, humiliation, sordidness and weakness, that we have no choice but to surrender and enter into negotiations on the terms of the surrender.
He enraged the Palestinians with his declaration, whether they live in Palestine or in the diaspora, because he said that he does not want to return to Safed. According to Abbas, he has no permission to return to it and to live there because Palestine is only within the borders of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, forever.
But he is not Palestinian at all and he is not from Safed, because he is of Iranian origins, from the city of Bandar Khamin, the city that his grandfather - the founder of the Bahai religion, Rida ‘Ullah Mirza – left to come to Palestine in the year 1882. Can a Palestinian - even if he is a traitor - say that I have no right to live in my homeland if I return to it?
In the interview he also said that he will not allow another intifada to break out against the Jewish entity or to use weapons against it as long as he sits in his chair. When he said this he pointed to the chair on which he was sitting, but this is not a chair, but rather a khazuk (a knife that is stuck in his flesh, M.K.). He also emphasized that he will take only diplomatic and political steps in order to cope with the thieving Jews. And in the past he has announced that Israel will remain forever.
What kind of leader is this?!?!?! Can anything be better than this for the Jews?? He is faithful to them, believes in their entity and surrenders Palestine to them for free with the height of generosity, as if it is his private property that he inherited from his father the Bahai, Rida Abbas Mirza. If he had the conscience of the tortured, oppressed Palestinian people, who have the legitimate and historical rights to Palestine, if he was really a Palestinian from Safed, if he was a Muslim, he would not have been able emotionally to make these declarations, even as a political ploy...
O Mahmoud Mirza, Palestine does not belong to you, nor to your father or grandfather, you are not from Palestine and you do not belong to the religion of its owners and therefore you cannot give it away to the Jews as a gift as your previous master, the foreign minister of Britain, Balfour, did in 1917, when he gave what was not his to those who have no right even to the size of a seed of the land of Palestine.
O, Abbas Mirza, Palestine belongs to us, the Muslims, who declare the unity of the Master of the universe, because we inherited it from our fathers and grandfathers even before there were Muslims... Allah stated in several passages of the Qur'an that no one will surrender it in the future because he - Who knows all hidden things - knew that the Islamic nation will undergo a dangerous phase of great weakness and a terrible void regarding both leadership and politics as it has been since the fall of the Ottoman state, the last Islamic state, and as a result of this, Jews will rule over Palestine and people such as you will steal into the nation in order to dismantle it and surrender it to the Jews.
O, Mahmoud Rida Abbas Mirza, Palestine is the property of the grandchildren of the companions of the prophet Muhammad who conquered it; it belongs to Umar bin al-Khattab (the second caliph who conquered Palestine in 637, M.K.)... It is Islam that liberated Palestine from the Byzantines, and Islam rescued it from the Tatars and the Mongols, and liberated it from the Jews, because the faithful, righteous, Muslims who wage jihad for Allah are the ones who liberated it from you and from the Jews. Behold, they are coming, so don't rejoice, you and your masters, the Jews.
Now a dark period reigns because of a summer cloud that soon will dissipate. The Jews, and you are one of them, know the truth, that they have not taken Palestine from the Palestinian people because of their heroism and courage but rather because of an international plot of many participants, a plot with many resources at its disposal in the leadership of Great Britain and because of the betrayal of the Arab countries at the historical moment when the nation was in its weakest state.
O Mahmoud Abbas Mirza, behold the nation which has begun to heal, to awaken and to stand on its feet. Do not be fooled by the temporary quiet of the Palestinian people because this is the calm before the storm of rage and a frenzied volcano.  For these hundred years this people has been in a state of struggle with the entity that is alien to blessed Palestine, it has not surrendered and has not raised the white flag. However much you and your Jewish masters oppress us, the Palestinian people will not surrender, will not wave the white flag, and will not cease to struggle except after this entity will be eliminated from reality and after our holy land will be cleansed from its corruption.
Palestine belongs to us from Rosh Hanikra in the north to Umm al-Rashrash (Eilat, M.K.) in the south, from the Jordan River in the East to the Mediterranean Sea in the West. We will return to her one day and if Allah wills, that day will be soon. We will burst upon the land from the four corners of the heavens and we will conquer it while praising and exalting Allah, just as we entered her the first time under the command of Umar bin al-Khattab... and we will liberate her like Salah-a-din al-Ayubi liberated her from the crusaders (towards the end of the 12th century, M.K.)...
We say to you, O Mirza, "No", a thousand million times: "No", the Jewish entity will not remain in our land, in the blessed land of Islam, and it is walking toward oblivion despite your anger, the anger of the Jews, the anger of the East, the anger of the West and the anger of all the traitors. The day will come when the call for the prayer of victory will be sounded from the minarets of the mosque of al-Jazzar in Acre, the mosque of Hasan Beck in Jaffa, the mosque of al-Istiqlal in Haifa, the great mosque of Safed, and the other mosques of Safed: the red mosque, the mosque of al-Saraya and the mosque of al-Yunsi. This eternal call will join the call of the prophet Muhammad and his companions in the victorious battles of Badr (623 CE), in Yarmouk (636), in al-Qadasiya (635), in Hattin (1187) and in Constantinople (1453).
O Abbas Mirza, this entity is a totally alien body in the region, ideologically, philosophically and culturally just like you are, and the Palestinian people and all Muslims will continue forever to refuse to accept it just like they refuse to accept you and they will vomit it out just as they will vomit you out until you will be totally lost like the alien crusader entity was thrown out after two hundred years by the believers in the unity of the Master of the world. This is what our Master promised us, and you are headed for the trash heap of history.
We say to you, O Mahmoud Rida Abbas Mizra, "Abu Mazen": who are you to surrender the blessed land of Palestine, and if you wish to surrender the blessed land of Palestine, the land of Islam, you must collect the signatures of all the Muslims, the living as well as the dead, since Islam came to the world, because Palestine belongs to all of the Muslims, the living and the dead, for these 1400 years. It is not your private property so you cannot give it to your Jewish lovers and masters, while totally debasing the Palestinian people and all of the Muslims.
Go, Abbas, and leave us, because Palestine, from the river to the sea is ours, go and leave us because we will not exchange Palestine except for Paradise, we do not want to surrender our homeland, we return to it, O Palestine, from every state and land, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar and may Allah be praised.
This concludes the main content of al-Tamimi's words. It is important to note several points regarding this article:

1. As of the writing of these lines, the article is in more than twenty two thousand Internet pages, which reflects the popularity of the content.

2. The article does not mention "Israel" and "Zionists", but rather only "the Jews", which emphasizes the religious aspect of the conflict with Israel. The writer does not differentiate between Jews who live in Israel and those who live in any other place in the world.

3. Al-Tamimi's claim - that Mahmoud Abbas is not an Arab but of Iranian origin and is not Muslim but Bahai and therefore a heretic to Islam - is not new. His supporters refute this very energetically, and his detractors bring it up every time he says or does something they don't agree with. This claim is intended to undermine the legitimacy of Abbas to rule or to surrender what they see as their historical inheritance, which they received from Him who dwells on high.

4. The attitude that is expressed in this article must be made clear to all those who think that the conflict between Israel and her neighbors is territorial, national or political, because the basis for this conflict is religious, between the Muslims and the Jews, between what Muslims see as "Din al-Haq" - the religion of truth which is Islam, and what they call "din al-Batel" - a religion of falsehood, which is Judaism. Incidentally, Christianity is also a religion of falsehood according to their point of view.

5. The spokesman of the Bahai community in Israel contacted me after the article was published and asked me to add the following:

The rumor that Mahmoud Abbas is Bahai is well known and has been disseminated by his opponents for several years. According to the Bahai community he is not a Bahai, has never had any connection with the Bahai community, and those who propagate this false allegation do so in order to undermine his Islamic credibility.

Whoever ignores the religious basis of the conflict misses the root of the problem and therefore will not be able to arrive at the correct solution.

The solution to the problem that Islam has with Judaism is by means of a mechanism of "temporary peace" that Islam can give to an illegitimate but strong state which it cannot defeat, a temporary peace that can survive forever, as long as this state is strong and invincible.

Only religious authorities can arrive at a religious solution to the conflict between Israel and her neighbors, because only they have the legitimacy to cope with religious arguments like those of al-Tamimi. Only religious Muslim leaders have the authority to decide when "al-Masalha" - the overall interest - obligates the Muslims to come to an agreement with invincible infidels. This is no simple matter, but possible, and throughout the history of Islam there have been not a few instances when those with religious authority have reluctantly found creative solutions to religious-based issues. The conflict between Israel and the Islamic world is no different in its basic character from other instances.

Because of people like Tamimi and the tens of thousands who have similar attitudes, Israel must continually be perceived as an invincible state. Only thus will she win a peace, temporary but unlimited in time, which will win the seal of approval from the religious people of Islam, such as al-Tamimi.


Dr. Kedar is available for lectures

Dr. Mordechai Kedar
( is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav with the permission of the author.

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Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.

- Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.