ISIS’ Sinai Attacks Show Real Threat to Hamas

Hamas fighters (Photo: Video screenshot)

Hamas fighters (Photo: Video screenshot)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, July 3, 2015:

The attacks on Egypt in the Sinai Peninsula by the Islamic State (ISIS) this week shows why its new vow to topple Hamas in the Gaza Strip should be taken seriously. Polls show that Palestinians have the highest level of sympathy for ISIS in the Arab world with the possible exception of Syria.

ISIS has killed at least 17 Egyptian security personnel (13 soldiers and 4 police officers) and injured 30 in coordinated attacks that reflect increasing sophistication.  The Egyptian military said 70 Islamist terrorists participated and five checkpoints were assaulted. ISIS claims it struck 15 sites all at once.

The Egyptian government immediately accused the Muslim Brotherhood of involvement as it has in the past. Egypt also claims Hamas, the Brotherhood’s Palestinian wing, is secretly supporting ISIS operations in the Sinai Peninsula. It has even threatened to attack Hamas in Gaza in response.

The Egyptian claims are questionable because of the open animosity between the two groups and ISIS’ new video pledging to conquer the Gaza Strip, but the Israeli military confirmed the links after Wednesday’s attacks. It identified two senior Hamas officials who advise ISIS and covertly arrange for hospital visits in Gaza for its injured operatives.

The Brotherhood denies involvement and its website has a statementurging Egyptians to reject violence, but the group’s double-talk is well-documented. It is simply false that the Brotherhood is completely non-violent and Brotherhood media outlets explicitly call for violence like that perpetrated by ISIS this week.

However, there does appear to be a division within the Brotherhood.Youth leaders and elements outside the country are advocating violent jihad, while the older generation repeatedly reaffirms the group’s non-violent stance in Egypt. It’s possible this is all a calculated deception. It’s also possible the rift is real and a faction would be willing to support ISIS against a common enemy.

One Brotherhood official, Mohamed Gaber, said it “seeks to use all expertise inside and outside the Brotherhood to achieve its goals at this stage,” referring to toppling the Egyptian government.

The Egyptian government’s crackdown on the Brotherhood makes it tempting for Hamas to support ISIS operations in the Sinai. Hamas may prefer a situation where its southern border is a battlefield between ISIS and Egyptian forces instead of a base for either. Plus, the Brotherhood uses every death as proof that Egypt’s crackdown is counter-productive and should end.

There are three possibilities: Claims of Hamas/Brotherhood links to ISIS in Sinai are simply wrong; the two groups simultaneously collaborate and fight with each other depending on circumstances; or there are elements within Hamas/Brotherhood that work independently with ISIS against the wishes of the leadership.

Whatever the truth is, the attacks in the Sinai show the threat to Hamas should be taken seriously.

A November 2014 poll found that the Palestinians are the most sympathetic population to ISIS in the Arab world. Only 4% view ISIS positively but if you include those who view it somewhat positively, it grows to nearly one-quarter of the population. However, another poll found that only 3% of Palestinians view ISIS’ gains positively and 88% view it negatively.

ISIS could capitalize on widespread dissatisfaction with Hamas and the situation in Gaza. ISIS’ message that Gaza is in bad shape because Hamas is not sufficiently implementing Sharia could resonate with Islamists who are struggling to understand why Hamas’ rule has not been blessed by Allah. The video also slams Hamas for being too soft on Israel.

A poll released last month shows that 50% of the population in Gaza—and an astounding 80% of the youth—want to leave. About 63% favor continuing rocket attacks on Israel. Another poll found that almost 25% would not vote if elections were held today.

Should a full-blown war between Hamas and ISIS break out that makes Gaza look like Syria, the West mustn’t embrace Hamas as the better alternative. The minute differences between them should not be exaggerated out of a desire for a side to pick. They are the two manifestations of the same enemy.

Also see:

War Crimes in Gaza: Filmmaker Takes Cameras Deep into Hamas Territory appeared first on Breitbart

Youtube/Screenshot

Youtube/Screenshot

Breitbart, by Phyllis Chesler, June 26. 2015:

Just as another “Freedom Flotilla” is sailing to Gaza, veteran filmmaker Pierre Rehov’s latest film War Crimes in Gaza will be shown next week to the European Parliament under the auspices of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Pierre Rehov’s film should also be seen by the International Criminal Court, which has just received files documenting what it claims are “Israeli war crimes.”

This 55-minute film is superb and packed with both visual, factual, and historical information. If everyone on board this flotilla watched this film—and if they were open to reason—they would turn back.

Going undercover into Gaza, Rehov is able to show us some of the wealthy mansions and villas of Gaza, the bustling malls and supermarkets, luxury cars, and well-dressed people at beachfront resorts—so different from the usual visual narratives of disinformation. Rehov shows us those as well: The weeping Palestinian civilians amidst rubble telling tales of IDF atrocities and devastation.

Undercover, Rehov has frightening footage of Hamas training children as young as six how to kill; the torture and public corpse-desecration of anyone whom Hamas suspected was a ‘collaborator’ or anyone whom they viewed as an opponent; Hamas’s omnipresent but hidden “civilian” army in Gaza; the location of Hamas missiles and guns in heavily populated civilian areas; how different Hamas missiles look than IDF missiles once they have hit their target—and much else.

The film teaches us that, since Hamas could not inflict major military damage to Israel, their strategy became one of propaganda—the kind meant to turn the entire world against Israel. It worked. Everyone wanted to believe the worst of the Jewish state. No one wanted to focus on the Muslim-on-Muslim, Arab-on-Arab, and Hamas-on-Palestinian violence.

Colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, confirms, on camera, that Hamas’s goal is not the liberation of Palestinians but the destruction of Israel. Hamas tries to “present Israel as being war criminals.”

According to journalist and author Matti Friedman, hating Jewish Israel “erases a deep sense of guilt” about the Holocaust. Seeing Jews as victimizers not as victims” does that. Friedman also notes in the film that reporters only cover “Israeli actions,” not the preceding Hamas attack, but also because “it matches the story that they want and [reporters] are not interested in being killed [by Hamas]…Bad Jews, good Arabs. Anything that complicates the story is taken out.”

Rehov’s film confirms that Hamas controls all press coverage and will not allow reporters to either see or report on the three kinds of vast, expensive, underground tunnels that Hamas has built all over Gaza. We see the offensive tunnels, which open out into civilian Israel; the smuggling tunnels and the defensive tunnels, which house weapons and Hamas fighters. We come to understand—we see with our own eyes—how Hamas dresses its fighters as “civilians,” and forces it real civilian population to function as human shields in the ground and propaganda wars begun by Hamas.

War Crimes in Gaza turns every Big Lie right side up. From various on-camera Israeli soldiers and military experts, we quickly understand that the IDF follows strict rules of engagement and is, without doubt, the most ethical army in the world with the least civilian casualties possible.

Rehov also challenges some of the latest Lies being told, namely, the IDF purposely killed four small boys who were running on the Gaza beach. Rehov wonders why “so many cameras were filming the sea at this very moment? Were reporters expecting something to happen? Then, who informed them?”

The film attempts to answer some of these. According to Colonel Kemp, “It would not surprise me if the Hamas deliberately lured the IDF to attack this location, as they have done it many times in this conflict before… it is extremely unlikely that children would be targeted by the IDF.” Israeli Colonel Peter Lerner claims that “The IDF had a Hamas terrorist target. We had intelligence pointing specifically to that location.”

Bassem Eid, the founder and director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring group, is perhaps the most eloquent and passionate voice on camera. He hold Hamas responsible for committing war crimes against the Palestinian people. Here is some of what he says:

Israel is using its own rockets and missiles to protect their people. Hamas is doing the opposite. Hamas is gaining power and money while more Palestinians are being victimized in Gaza…there is no doubt that Hamas used people as human shields. IDF sent messages to leave their houses. Hamas prevented them getting out of their houses by saying they are spies of Israel if they do.

Eid insists: “The one [who] committed the genocide is Hamas. The Hamas is offering their innocent people for such a kind of war.”

Rehov has made 12 films, some of which I have previously reviewed. His twelfth film will shortly appear as well. It focuses on the BDS movement. The film’s title is: Beyond Deception Strategy.

Rehov joins Gloria Greenfield as the premier filmmakers spurred by this latest, bloodiest, and long-lasting Al Aqsa Intifada.

Also see:

“Perversion of Truth” – UN Report on the 2014 Gaza War

Former New York Surpreme Court Justice Mary McGowan Davis, Chair of UN Investigation in to 2014 Gasa War

Former New York Surpreme Court Justice Mary McGowan Davis, Chair of UN Investigation in to 2014 Gasa War

NER, by Jerry Gordon, June 23, 2015:

In a mid-May 2015 Jerusalem Report/Jerusalem Post interview by Paul Alster, “The Redoubtable Colonel [Richard] Kemp”, anticipated the findings of the UN Task Force Commission on the 2014 Gaza War. Kemp said: “I think their staff is going to be so heavily biased against Israel that it will be quite a struggle for them to produce a fair report.” Col. Kemp, former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, was present on the battle front last summer at the Israeli /Gaza frontier had presented his independent testimony to the UN Human Rights Commission investigation. It was a furtherance of his remarks to the earlier UN report following IDF Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009.  Conclusions, as Col. Kemp indicated,  rejected by Israel.

Former British Commander in Afghnistan Col. Richard Kemp (ret.)

Former British Commander in Afghnistan Col. Richard Kemp (ret.)

His predication was reflected in the UN Report by the ‘independent’ investigation released yesterday in Geneva by the Chairperson, former acting New York Supreme Court Justice Mary McGowan Davis. Davis has made a post retirement career after she left the bench in 1998  conducting  independent UN investigations into human rights violations. Justice Davis was member of the team that concluded the IDF had perpetrated war crimes against civilians in Gaza defending Israeli citizens from Hamas rocket terrorism in Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009. The summation of the latest UN investigation on the 2014 War in Gaza  accused both  Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes, while holding IDF to a “higher standard” of behavior.

Read more

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IS Threatens Israel Monday, Israel Air Force Jets Return Fire This Morning

Screen-Shot-2015-06-04-at-1CSP, by Caitlin Anglemier, June 4, 2015:

The Islamic State (IS) issued a threat to Israel on Monday, June 1st, declaring that the Sunni terrorist group Hamas must halt its recent attacks and assaults on IS supporters in the Gaza Strip within 48 hours “or else”. Hamas’s recent crackdown is in response to the May 31 assassination of one of its senior commanders by the Hadid Brigade (full name, “Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade”), a group of IS supporters in the Gaza Strip. IS issued its 48 hour threat, which gave no insight into future consequences if Hamas does not meet its demands, to various Middle East reporters on Monday who then dispersed the news.

According to an article posted on June 2 by World Net Daily, a leader of Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, Islamic State’s affiliate in the Sinai Peninsula, reportedly declared “that if Hamas does not cease its crackdown, the group [IS] will not only continue to target Hamas, it will also break the Israel-Gaza truce with more attacks launched against the Jewish state”. On the same day, however, Hamas forces killed Islamic State supporter Younis al-Honnor. The 27-year-old was reportedly killed unintentionally while resisting arrest by Hamas forces.

As retaliation for Honnor’s death, rockets were fired Wednesday evening from the Gaza Strip at the Israeli city Ashkelon and the town Netivot. The “Omar Brigade,” which is likely the same as the Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade, claimed responsibility for the assault.

In response to Wednesday night’s attack on Ashkelon and Netivot, Israel Air Force jets hit “three ‘terror infrastructure’ targets in the Gaza Strip” this morning.

Israel’s Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, declared today in a press release “that the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] struck Hamas targets because even if the militants who fired the rockets belong to ‘rogue gangs’ from the Islamic Jihad, Israel holds Hamas ‘responsible for what is happening in the Strip’”.

Before these recent events, on May 3rd of this year, Hamas followers destroyed the Al-Moutahabbin Mosque, located in the central region of the Gaza Strip. This mosque belonged to a group of Islamic State supporters known as the “Supporters of the Islamic State in Jerusalem”. A daily Egyptian newspaper, Al-Masry al-Youm, reported that this group described the destruction as carried out, “in a manner that even the Jewish and American occupation has not done”. This demolition was in response to previous unclaimed bombings in the Gaza Strip.

After the attack on the Al-Moutahabbin mosque, Supporters of the Islamic State of Jerusalem stated its renewed loyalty to and faith in IS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The group then threatened Hamas members, even publishing some names and photos, unless Hamas releases several captives, including a local Salafi sheikh.

Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 following what is known as the Battle of Gaza. A primary difference and source of conflict between Hamas and IS is Islamic law, called sharia. IS abides by and fights to enforce much stricter adherence to sharia law and says Hamas is “too liberal” and “soft on Israel.”

Various tweets have been released indicating such differences, one stating, “The Hamas government is apostate [one who renounces a religious or political belief or principle], and what it is doing does not constitute jihad, but rather a defense of democracy.” Another message states, “Khaled Meshaal [head of Hamas political bureau]: Hamas fights for the sake of freedom and independence. The Islamic State: it fights so that all religion can be for God.”

The conflict between Hamas and the Islamic State is much more than a dispute over geographic terrain or political quarreling; it is one about a deeply engrained moral, political, and theological ideology. Based on these ideological differences, events like those that have transpired over the past couple days in Gaza and Israel will not cease anytime soon.

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ISIS appears ready to announce expansion to Gaza

isis-flag (1)WND, by Aaron Klein, April 16, 2015:

TEL AVIV – Internet forums and group chatter among ISIS supporters indicate the brutal jihadist organization is debating when to declare the Gaza Strip part of its expansive caliphate, WND has learned.

Informed Middle Eastern security officials said Hamas has been preparing a major crackdown on Salafist cells supportive of ISIS ideology, fearing the group could indeed make such a declaration of control over Gaza.

The officials further said Hamas has been trying to bribe Salafist ideologues away from ISIS by providing them with salaries while integrating them among the ranks of Hamas’ salaried security forces.

Asked by WND for comment on the report, Mushir al Masri, a member of Hamas’ parliament and a media spokesman for the group, denied ISIS was even present in the Gaza Strip.

“This is not the first time Israeli and Western media tried to pit us against ISIS. There is no truth to these claims, and ISIS is not in the Gaza Strip,” he said.

Masri further clarified that “anyone caught breaking the law will be dealt with just like all lawbreakers according to the criminal justice system in Gaza.”

However, just last week Hamas reportedly arrested a prominent ISIS-aligned preacher from Gaza after the terrorist group went on a rampage earlier in a Palestinian camp in Syria.

ISIS last month took control for a time of the Yarmouk camp in Syria, home to one of the largest Palestinian camps outside of Gaza. The group took responsibility for beheading several Palestinian men in the camp and reportedly raped some of the women there.

This week, in an apparent attempt to gain sympathy with the Gazan population, ISIS supporters reportedly gave away Israeli-made space heaters adorned with ISIS logos. ISIS supporters also have been giving other so-called charity to Gaza’s Palestinian population.

According to informed Middle Eastern security officials, Israel is so concerned about the prospect of ISIS rising in Gaza that the Jewish state has helped to step up the transport of civilian goods into the territory. Israel fears a shortage could provoke a discontented population to turn closer to ISIS, which has been trying to endear itself to Gazans with numerous Islamic charity initiatives.

Last July, WND reported an attempt by jihadist organizations in the Gaza Strip to unite under the common ISIS banner. Contacted by WND at the time, Abu Saqer, one of the leaders of Jihadiya Salafiya, which represents al-Qaida ideology in the Gaza Strip, confirmed the attempt to organize various jihad groups to fight Israel under the ISIS umbrella.

Sinai to Gaza

Any ISIS gains in Gaza would pose a major threat to both Israel and neighboring Egypt.

The moderate regime of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been fighting an ISIS and Salafist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula and beyond. The jihadists seek to connect the Sinai with the Gaza Strip to form one big territory.

ISIS allies took responsibility for a roadside bomb attack on an armored vehicle in Egypt’s northern Sinai that killed six Egyptian soldiers last Sunday.

Also over the weekend, a group formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, now fighting under the ISIS banner, released a video that featured the graphic killing of an Egyptian soldier captured April 2 in the northern Sinai.

In December, WND reported Egypt arrested dozens of foreign jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula, stoking fears ISIS militants were seeking to open a new front.

In February, WND was first to report that thousands of foreign jihadists were attempting to infiltrate Egypt, with plans of a coming destabilization campaign akin to the insurgency in Syria, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials.

The officials warned at the time of a troubling development taking place among the al-Qaida-linked organizations already inside Egypt. They said there is information the militant groups are forming a de facto chain of command, with alarming coordination between the various jihadist factions embedded around the country.

The terrorist infrastructure is being set up beyond the Islamist stronghold of the Sinai Peninsula. The officials said al-Qaida-linked groups in Egypt have been forming divisions replete with leadership and assignments to specific territories, including in the Sinai, Suez regions, outside Cairo and along the delta.

Sisi has appealed to the Obama administration and international community for help in battling the insurgency.

In a Fox News interview last month, Sisi appealed for an increase in U.S. military aid.

“It is very important for the United States to understand that our need for the weapons and for the equipment is dire, especially at the time when the Egyptians feel they are fighting terrorism and they would like to feel the United States is standing by them in that fight against terrorism,” he said.

Egypt’s War on Terrorism: World’s Double Standards

Gatrestone Institute, by Khaled Abu Toameh, November 3, 2014:

Egypt’s crackdown in Sinai once again exposes the double standards of the international community toward the war on terrorism. While it is fine for Egypt to demolish hundreds of houses and forcibly transfer thousands of people in the name of the war on terrorism, Israel is not allowed to fire back at those who launch rockets and missiles at its civilians.

The Egyptians have finally realized that the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has become one of the region’s main exporters of terrorism.

What is perhaps more worrying is the fear that the security clampdown in Egypt will drive Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip to resume their attacks on Israel.

Needless to say, the international community will continue to ignore Egypt’s bulldozing hundreds of houses and the forcible eviction of hundreds of people in Sinai.

Three months after the military conformation between Hamas and Israel, the Egyptians are also waging their own war on terrorism in north Sinai.

But Egypt’s war, which began after Islamist terrorists butchered 33 Egyptian soldiers, does not seem to worry the international community and human rights organizations, at least not as much as Israel’s operation to stop rockets and missiles from being fired into it from the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian army’s security crackdown includes the demolition of hundreds of houses along the border with the Gaza Strip and the transfer of thousands of people to new locations.

A building is blown up by Egypt’s army as part of an operation to clear all buildings out of a “buffer zone,” along Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip. (Image source: PressTV video screenshot)

Egypt’s goal is to establish a security buffer zone along its shared border with the Gaza Strip in order to prevent terrorists from using smuggling tunnels to launch attacks on Egyptian soldiers and civilians. In other words, the Egyptians are tightening the blockade on the Gaza Strip and collectively punishing the Palestinians living there, not only Hamas.

All this is happening before eyes of the international community and media. Nonetheless, the UN Security Council has not been asked to hold an emergency meeting to condemn what some Egyptian human rights activists describe as the “transfer” and “displacement” of hundreds of families in Sinai.

Egyptian lawyer and human rights activist Gamal Eid said that the Egyptian security measures were “unconstitutional.” He noted that Article 63 of the Egyptian constitution prohibits the forcible and arbitrary transfer of citizens in all forms.

Egyptian security experts warned this week that the “displacement” of Sinai residents would not stop terrorist attacks on the Egyptian police and army.

Former General Safwat al-Zayyat said he expected the terrorists to intensify their attacks not only in Sinai but also in other parts of Egypt, including Cairo, to prove that the Egyptian army’s measures are ineffective. He also predicted that the transfer of thousands of families and the demolition of their homes would play into the hands of the terrorists.

Egyptian activist Massad Abu Fajr wrote on his Facebook page that the forcible eviction of families from their homes in Egypt was tantamount to a “declaration of war by the Egyptian authorities” on the three largest and powerful clans in Sinai. He too predicted that the security crackdown would boomerang and further strengthen the terrorists.

But what is perhaps more worrying is the fear that the unprecedented security clampdown in Egypt will drive Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip to resume their attacks on Israel.

The Egyptians, of course, are entitled to wage a ruthless war on the various terror groups that have long been operating in Sinai. However, by tightening the blockade on the Gaza Strip, the Egyptians are also giving Hamas and Islamic Jihad an excuse to resume their attacks on Israel.

The two Palestinian terror groups are not going to retaliate by attacking Egypt. They know that Egypt’s response to such an attack would be more severe than Israel’s military response. That explains why Hamas and other Palestinian groups have been cautious in their response to Egypt’s measures — no condemnations or protests thus far.

In fact, Hamas is already in a state of panic in the wake of allegations by some Egyptians that Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were involved in the killing of the soldiers in Sinai.

Once again, Egyptian journalists are calling on their president to go after Hamas in response to the Sinai attack. A previous attack on Egyptian soldiers in Sinai earlier this year prompted similar calls.

Reham Noaman, a prominent Egyptian journalist, called on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to “crush” Hamas and its armed wing, Ezaddin al-Qassam. “Israel is not better than us,” she said. “When Israel wants to hit Hamas because of a rocket that is not worth a penny, it does not seek permission from the Security Council.”

The Egyptians have finally realized that the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has become one of the region’s main exporters of terrorism. Israel reached this conclusion several years ago, when Hamas and other terror groups began firing rockets and missiles at Israeli communities.

The Egyptians have also come to learn that the smuggling tunnels along their shared border with the Gaza Strip work in both directions. In the past, the Egyptians believed that the tunnels were being used only to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip. Now, however, they are convinced that these tunnels are also being used to smuggle weapons and terrorists out of the Gaza Strip.

Now that the Egyptians have chosen completely to seal off their border with the Gaza Strip, the chances of another military confrontation between Hamas and Israel have increased. Hamas will undoubtedly try to break out of its increased isolation by initiating another war with Israel.

The Egyptians, for their part, are not going to mind if another war breaks out between the Palestinians and Israel — as long as the military confrontation is taking place on the other side of the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt.

And of course, the international community will once again rush to accuse Israel of “genocide” against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Needless to say, the international community will continue to ignore Egypt’s bulldozing hundreds of homes and the forcible eviction of thousands of people in Sinai.

If anything, the Egyptian security crackdown in Sinai has once again exposed the double standards of the international community toward the war on terrorism. While it is fine for Egypt to demolish hundreds of houses and forcibly transfer thousands of people in the name of the war on terrorism, Israel is not allowed to fire back at those who launch rockets and missiles at its civilians.

Also see:

Obama to Spend $414 Mil to Rebuild Hamastan – Qatar top donor at $1 Billion #StopQatarNow

384-9XzEa.AuSt_.55-444x350Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield:

What’s a mere $414 million? That’s not even half a billion? And we’re in an administration that uses billion dollar bills as toilet paper.

Countries from around the world have pledged $5.4 billion to help rebuild the war-torn Gaza Strip

And that should do it until the next war in two years which will be partially paid for by all that money which Hamas diverts to rockets.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende announced the total Sunday at the close of a 30-nation donor conference in Cairo.

“The people of Gaza can not be held hostage to negotiations that may or may not produce the desired outcome. Letting Gaza fester while leaving the parties to their own devices is the surest way of setting ourselves up for another round of war a year or two down the road,” he said.

Actually putting more money into Hamastan is the surest way of rerunning this war a year or two down the road. But international diplomacy means never learning from history.

Among the biggest donors was Qatar, the Persian Gulf state with natural gas riches, which pledged $1 billion.

Qatar is also a prolific state sponsor of terror for groups such as ISIS and Hamas.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced an immediate American donation of $212 million, which is in addition to $202 million in humanitarian aid the U.S. had already committed.

Wasn’t that generous of him?

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the world community has “clearly recognized the massive needs” in Gaza.

But he said this “must be the last Gaza reconstruction conference.” He said the “cycle of building and destroying must end. Enough is enough.”

Sure. Put more money into Hamastan and then insist that it’s going to be the last time.

Also see:

Caroline Glick: President Sisi’s Gift

Egyptian Minister of Defense Abdel-Fattah al-SissiBy Caroline Glick:

Something extraordinary has happened.

On August 31, PLO chief and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told an audience of Fatah members that Egypt had offered to give the PA some 1,600 kilometers of land in Sinai adjacent to Gaza, thus quintupling the size of the Gaza Strip. Egypt even offered to allow all the so-called “Palestinian refugees” to settle in the expanded Gaza Strip.

Then Abbas told his Fatah followers that he rejected the Egyptian offer.

On Monday Army Radio substantiated Abbas’s claim.

According to Army Radio, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi proposed that the Palestinians establish their state in the expanded Gaza Strip and accept limited autonomy over parts of Judea and Samaria.

In exchange for this state, the Palestinians would give up their demand that Israel shrink into the indefensible 1949 armistice lines, surrendering Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Sisi argued that the land Egypt is offering in Sinai would more than compensate for the territory that Abbas would concede.

In his speech to Fatah members, Abbas said, “They [the Egyptians] are prepared to receive all the refugees, [and are saying] ‘Let’s end the refugee story.’” “But,” he insisted, “It’s illogical for the problem to be solved at Egypt’s expense. We won’t have it.”

In other words, Sisi offered Abbas a way to end the Palestinians’ suffering and grant them political independence. And Abbas said, “No, forget statehood. Let them suffer.”

Generations of Israeli leaders and strategists have insisted that Israel does not have the ability to satisfy the Palestinian demands by itself without signing its own death warrant. To satisfy the Palestinian demand for statehood, Israel’s neighbors in Egypt and Jordan would have to get involved.

Until Sisi made his proposal, no Arab leader ever seriously considered actually doing what must be done. Indeed, the rejection of this self-evident Israeli claim has been so overwhelming that in recent years, every Israeli suggestion to this effect was met with raised eyebrows and dismissal by Israelis and foreigners alike.

So what is driving Sisi? How do we account for this dramatic shift? In offering the Palestinians a large swathe of the Sinai, Sisi is not acting out of altruism. He is acting out of necessity. From his perspective, and from the perspective of his non-jihadist Sunni allies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinian campaign against Israel is dangerous.

Facing the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, and the rise of jihadist forces from al-Qaida to the Islamic State to the Muslim Brotherhood, the non-jihadist Sunnis no longer believe that the prolongation of the Palestinian jihad against Israel is in their interest.

Egypt and Jordan have already experienced the spillover of the Palestinian jihad. Hamas has carried out attacks in Egypt. The Palestinian jihad nearly destroyed Lebanon and Jordan. Egypt and Saudi Arabia now view Israel as a vital ally in their war against the Sunni jihadists and their struggle against Iran and its hegemonic ambitions. They recognize that Israeli action against Sunni and Shi’ite jihadists in Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran serves the interests of non-jihadi Sunnis. And, especially after the recent conflict in Gaza, they realize that the incessant Palestinian campaign against Israel ultimately strengthens the jihadist enemies of Egypt and Saudi Arabia like Hamas.

Apparently, Sisi’s offer to Abbas is an attempt to help the Palestinian people and take the Palestinian issue out of the hands of Palestinian jihadists.

Unfortunately for Sisi and his fellow non-jihadist Sunnis, Abbas is having none of this.

In rejecting Sisi’s offer Abbas stood true to his own record, to the legacies of every Palestinian leader since Nazi agent Haj Amin el-Husseini, and to the declared strategic goal of his own Fatah party and his coalition partners in Hamas. Since Husseini invented the Palestinians in the late 1920s, their leaders’ primary goals have never been the establishment of a Palestinian state or improving the lives of Palestinians. Their singular goal has always been the destruction of the Jewish state, (or state-in-themaking before 1948).

Sisi offered to end Palestinian suffering and provide the Palestinians with the land they require to establish a demilitarized state. Abbas rejected it because he is only interested hurting Israel. If Israel is not weakened by their good fortune, then the Palestinians should continue to suffer.

For Israel, Sisi’s proposal is a windfall.

Read more at Front Page

Also see:

United Nations Relief Agency in Gaza Strip is a ‘branch of Hamas’

Religious Freedom Coalition, by Andrew Harrod (Exclusive)

In the Gaza Strip “UNRWA is effectively a branch of Hamas,” the Middle East Forum’s Alexander H. Joffe and Asaf Romirowskyrecently concluded concerning the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.  Weapons caches in UNRWA schools and other forms of UNRWA support for Hamas, though, are no surprise given documentation of how Palestinians abetted by the UN misuse refugees to attack Israel.

Rockets found in a UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip

Rockets found in a UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip

Founder of the Israel Resource News Agency, David Bedein has recently authored Roadblock to Peace:  How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict—UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, describing the uniquely dysfunctional treatment of Palestinian refugees throughout history.  Anywhere from 540,000 to over 750,000 Arabs lost their homes in what became Israel during its 1948 independence war.  For these people UNRWA originated as the “only UN organization dedicated to handling exactly one ethnic group of refugees” while theUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) handles all others.

Begun as a short-term mission on May 1, 1950, UNRWA’s existence has continued with successive three-year mandate renewals, the latest being last June 30.  UNRWA’s longevity derives from evolving definitions of “refugee,” never defined in UNRWA’s founding 1949 UN resolution, that count descendants through a refugee’s male line.  This includes some whose ancestors were nomadic Bedouins or who simply became indigent after losing their jobs in the new state of Israel.  The 1951 UN Refugee Convention’s definition, by contrast, is not inheritable, nor does it encompass individuals who obtain new citizenships, like the 2 million Palestinian “refugees” in Jordan who may attend both UNRWA and Jordanian schools.

Additionally, UNRWA’s 59 camps serve 1.1 million beneficiaries in the Gaza Strip, 688,700 in the “West Bank” territories of Judea and Samaria, including East Jerusalem, 496,000 in Syria, and 425,000 in Lebanon.  These 4.7 million UNRWA clients compare with 15.4 million refugees in UNHCR’s definition and 12 million stateless individuals.  Yet UNHCR counts 7,200 staff and a $3.32 billion budget compared to UNWRA’s 29,000 (99% local Palestinians) and $1.0037 billion budget.

Only an estimated one-third of 100 million 20th century refugees received any assistance, yet international aid helped encourage 962,000 people to register as refugees with UNRWA at its founding.  UNHCR usually expects host countries to provide refugee services, in contrast to UNWRA’s agencies, such that non-refugee Palestinians avail themselves of services in Gaza and Jerusalem camps largely indistinguishable from the surrounding cities.  Although overcrowded, UNWRA camps consist largely of stone-block buildings with modern utilities such as phone lines, sewage, water, and electricity.  Some camps even have luxury dwellings, such as those in Jenin with Italian marble and Spanish tiles.

Bedein condemns, though, that UNRWA “mandates the perpetuity of refugee squalor.”  Traditional refugee policy practiced by UNHCR focuses on refugee resettlement where return to lost homes is not possible or even permitted.  The 1949 Geneva Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War, meanwhile, do not recognize any refugee “right of return.”

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Egypt Strikes Jihadis After Decapitation Video

ansar-bayt-al-maqdis-israel-mossad-beheadingjpg (1)Breitbart, By KATIE GORKA, Sep. 1, 2014:

Within just days of a video surfacing showing the decapitation of four Egyptian nationals, the Cairo government took decisive military action and killed the leader of the Jihadist group alleged to have been responsible

Several sources have reported that on Sunday, August 30, Egyptian forces carried out two successful operations against Islamist militants in Sinai. In Al Arish, a city on the northern coast of Sinai, members of a joint police-military action killed Fayez Abdallah Hamdan Abu-Sheta, believed to be a leader of the terrorist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM), thought responsible for the May 2013 kidnapping of 7 police officers and a border guard.

In a separate operation 32 miles away, in the town of Rafah, which borders Gaza, Egyptian forces killed 6 and arrested 10 others, Daily News Egypt reported. It has not yet been revealed whether those killed or arrested are members of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, but this raid occurred three days after the Jihadi group released a very graphic video of the beheading of four Egyptians in Sinai for allegedly spying on behalf of Israel. The video is similar to that of U.S. journalist James Foley, whose beheading by ISIS on August 19, 2014, was also posted online.

While the world’s attention has been focused on the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and their aggressive sweep across Iraq and Syria, Egypt has been waging its own battle against violent jihadists, particularly in the Sinai.  This is a conflict kindled under the Muslim Brotherhood leadership of Mohamed Morsi and which exploded with his ouster in July 2013. When the Muslim Brotherhood announced at a rally on May 1, 2012 that their candidate for president would be Mohammed Morsi, Egyptian Cleric Safwat Higazi declared the following in his impassioned speech to the crowd of thousands (broadcast on Al-Nas television and translated by MEMRI TV):

We can see how the dream of the Islamic Caliphate is being realized, Allah willing, by Dr. Muhammad Mursi, and his brothers, his supporters, and his political party.  We can see how the great dream—shared by us all—that of the United States of the Arabs…the United States of the Arabs will be restored, Allah willing.  The United States of the Arabs will be restored by this man and his supporters. The capital of the Caliphate—the capital of the United States of the Arabs—will be Jerusalem, Allah willing.  Mursi will liberate Gaza tomorrow….Our capital shall not be Cairo, Mecca or Medina.  It shall be Jerusalem, Allah willing. Our cry shall be: ‘Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem.’  Banish the sleep from the eyes of all Jews. Come on, you lovers of martyrdom, you are all Hamas. Forget about the whole world, forget about all the conferences. Brandish your weapons…Say your prayers….And pray to the Lord.

 

 

As Thomas Joscelyn, senior editor of the Long War Journal, testified before Congress in February 2014, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt in January 2011, Al Qaeda and other violent jihadist groups saw an opportunity for proselytizing and rebuilding the ummah, or Muslim community of believers. Not only was the new government of Mohamed Morsi not going to crack down on jihadists, but he greatly aided their cause by releasing many of them from prison, including members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) and Gamaa Islamiyya (IG). Egypt became fertile ground for their activities, and the Sinai took on a particular importance because it was the perfect launching ground for renewed attacks on Israel. This suggests that there is also a strong correlation between the terrorism in the Sinai and the fighting in Gaza. The Muslim Brotherhood promised to free Gaza and to rebuild the Caliphate with Jerusalem as its capital.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which translates to “Champions of Jerusalem,” began operations in January 2011 with the uprisings that led to the overthrow of the Egyptian government. Initially, they targeted Israel. In July 2012, they blew up a pipeline that served Israel, calling it treason to send Egyptian resources to Israel, according to an article in Egypt News Daily. But following the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government on July 3, 2013, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis stepped up their attacks and directed the majority of them against the Egyptian police and military. Their near-daily attacks included the execution of 24 unarmed policemen on August 19, 2013, the attempted assassination of Interior Minister Muhammad Ibrahim in September 2013, an attack on South Sinai’s Security Directorate, and an attack on the military intelligence building in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya in October 2013.

The attacks by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis as well as other terrorist groups operating in the Sinai are explicitly carried out in retaliation for the Egyptian military’s role in helping to oust Mohammed Morsi and for their subsequent crackdown by military and police on groups engaging in violence. Indeed, the relationship between groups such as the violent Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and the “non-violent” Muslim Brotherhood may be more than ancillary. According to the BBC, some have identified Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis as the military wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Several different sources, including Nabil Naeem, founder of the Islamic Jihad, allege that Khairat al-Shater, the deputy supreme guide of the Brotherhood, directly supports Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.

Katie Gorka is the president of the Council on Global Security. Follow her on Twitter@katharinegorka.

 

Man Threatens to Murder Children Due to Israel-Hamas Conflict

A Palestinian girl looks at masked militants of Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, military wing of Hamas, celebrate at a victory rally at the debris of destroyed houses in Shijaiyah, neighborhood of Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip, Wednesday / AP

A Palestinian girl looks at masked militants of Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, military wing of Hamas, celebrate at a victory rally at the debris of destroyed houses in Shijaiyah, neighborhood of Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip, Wednesday / AP

Washington Free Beacon, By Adam Kredo:

An Ohio school was placed on lockdown Wednesday after a man with a “heavy accent” phoned the school and threatened to murder children with an AK-47 due to the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, according to local police.

All schools in Pickerington, Ohio, were placed on lockdown after an unknown man made a threatening call to the Pickerington North High School, Fairfield County Sheriff Dave Phalen confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon.

The man, who claimed to have an AK-47, said he planned to launch an attack on the school and kill students over his apparent anger at the Middle East conflict, Phalen said.

“The school received a call [at around 11:15 a.m.] from a male with a heavy accent and he indicated that he was going to attack Pickerington North due to attacks on Israel and was going to kill the kids and that he had an AK-47 gun,” Phalen recounted.

“He identified himself as ‘Mohammed Shehad,’” or something similar to that, and claimed to live in the area, Phalen said, explaining that those who fielded the call were unsure precisely what last name the man provided.

“My sense is that due to the way he identified himself it sounds like he was upset at Israel,” though the individual’s exact motivations remain unclear, Phalen said. At this point, authorities “really don’t know what his frame of mind was or what he was thinking.”

All area schools were placed on “exterior lockdown” as a precautionary measure, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

School will resume on Thursday and an officer will be assigned to Pickerington North. Additional deputies will also be in the area, Phalen said.

Fairfield County detectives also are beginning to investigate the matter to determine the individual’s identity.

“We have detectives assigned to that; they’re working on trying to trace the phone number and identify the suspect,” Phalen said.

Patrick Poole, a terrorism analyst who lives in the area, said he believed the threat was made by a person upset with Israel’s military action in the Gaza Strip.

“We have had a growing problem here in the Columbus area for years that local law enforcement and the media want to continue to sweep under the carpet,” Poole said. “Not only has Central Ohio been the home of the largest known al-Qaeda cell since 9/11—with several members currently in prison on terrorism charges and at least two deported—we’ve had a number of cases of homegrown jihadists come through town, including al-Shabaab rapper Omar al-Hammami and Little Rock Army recruiting station killer Carlos Bledsoe.”

“An al-Shabaab recruiter and fundraiser from the area was killed in a firefight in Mogadishu in 2010, and we know of several cases of young men who have left from Columbus to join the Somali terrorist group,” Poole said. “One of the original online jihadist forum operators, Sarfaraz Jamal, grew up in the area and initially ran his operation from his Worthington home.”

Additionally, “we just had a pro-Hamas rally at the statehouse a week and a half ago, a regular feature here in central Ohio whenever there is conflict in that part of the world,” Poole noted. “In fact, two of our local Hamas activists are currently in prison in Egypt. Now that the threat is targeting area school children, hopefully it will begin to wake people up to the scope of the problem.”

ISIS, HAMAS, AND THE SURGING THREAT OF RADICAL ISLAMISM

hamas-flag-soldier-Reuters (3)Breitbart, by NOAH BECK:

The beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley has raised concerns in the West about Islamist threats. But Israel has been facing this specter for decades and – given Israel’s proximity to the Islamist threat – the Jewish state is the West’s canary in the coal mine. But Gaza seems to be the Western blind spot, even though the Hamas-ISIS parallels are glaringly obvious.

Since beheadings are the current media focus, and ISIS has beheaded infants, it’s worth noting that Hamas praised the 2011 Itamar murders, which involved the decapitation of a baby. Islamist beheadings should surprise no one, given that they’ve been happening for much of (and despite) modernity – perhaps because “Islam is the only major world religion today that is cited…to legitimize beheadings,” according to this study.

While there have been no reported Hamas beheadings of journalists, the similarities between Hamas and ISIS are more important than their differences.

Both would like to establish a Caliphate. Hamas Interior Minister declared as much in this 2013 speech. Both gain and keep power through savagery and fear. Hamas rose to power in Gaza thanks to its violent, 2007 coup, and recently planned a second putsch (in the West Bank). Hamas famously threw its political opponents off rooftops.

Like ISIS, Hamas uses clinics, schools, mosques, and charities to gain legitimacy, and inculcates children with the values of jihadi terror. A Vice documentary exposed how ISIS indoctrinates children for war, but Hamas has been doing so for years, educating children to worship death and using child soldiers.

Hamas’ use of human shields has been widely documented (and proven very effective in turning public opinion against Israel by exponentially increasing Gazan civilian casualties). ISIS used 500 Yazidi captives and 39 abducted Indians as human shields.

ISIS is known for its expulsion of Christians from Mosul and its genocidal murder of Yazidis and Christians who refuse to convert to Islam or pay the jizyah, and Hamas would undoubtedly behave the same way if Israeli Jews didn’t have the protection of a superior military, and if Hamas didn’t depend on international donations to Gaza that might dry up after a wholesale slaughter of the tiny Christian community there. But even with these checks on Hamas’ brutality, Hamas regularly practices and preaches religious hatred. For years, Hamas has attacked Christians, including defiling Christian graves, abducting and murdering Christians, and more recently using a Gazan church to launch rockets at Israel. Hamas preaches hateful incitement against Jews, has desecrated Jewish holy sites, and has murdered hundreds of Jews in terrorist attacks.

ISIS uses Sharia to justify its barbaric treatment of women. Also enamored with Sharia, Hamas treats women as second-class citizens and endorses honor killings.

Hamas advocates the death penalty for homosexuals, and (like ISIS) lets Islamic morality police govern economic activity and punishes crime with lashings, amputations, and executions. There have been no broadcast beheadings of homosexuals by ISIS yet, but such horrors can’t be far off, given that ISIS fighters include gay-hating Westerners.

Hamas condemned the assassination of Osama Bin Laden and ISIS aspires to surpass him.

Yet, astonishingly, President Obama and liberals have continually called for restraint when Israel’s military has confronted Hamas (after Hamas’ countless attacks against Israeli civilians) and Obama has pressed Israel to negotiate with Hamas (as if the U.S. would ever negotiate with ISIS). Worse still, the Obama administration tried to advance Hamas’ negotiating position and recently pressured Israel into letting Hamas keep its military capabilities. Given the opportunity to obliterate ISIS’ terrorist infrastructure, would the U.S. ever spare any part of it?

Even more troubling – in terms of the perils involved – is Obama’s feckless strategy towards the Iranian regime, which is the world’s chief sponsor of Islamist terrorism (including by Hamas and Hezbollah). Like so many Islamist terrorist organizations, Iran executes homosexualsmistreats womenpersecutes religious minorities; employs barbaric, Sharia-law punishments (like amputation and stoning); and brutalizes political dissenters (among myriad other human rights violations). But unlike the terrorist organizations, Iran could theoretically acquire a nuclear capability in under two months. Imagine an Islamist state, which openly supports Islamist terrorists, possessing nukes. Alarmingly, Obama’s approach and over-eagerness to negotiate any deal he can get, have signaled weakness in a region that respects only strength and have improved Iran’s nuclear position.

Islamist groups like Hamas, ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Boko Haram all seek the destruction of Western values and civilization. The West ignores this fact at its peril, and should therefore support Israel’s war against Hamas, as the U.S. has rightly (albeit tardily and minimally) supported the Kurds in their fight against ISIS.

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, a doomsday thriller about the Iranian nuclear threat and current geopolitical issues in the Middle East.

Understanding the Israeli-Egyptian-Saudi alliance

partners-300x191By Caroline Glick:

Hamas’s war with Israel is not a stand-alone event. It is happening in the context of the vast changes that are casting asunder old patterns of behavior and strategic understandings as actors in the region begin to reassess the threats they face.

Hamas was once funded by Saudi Arabia and enabled by Egypt. Now the regimes of these countries view it as part of a larger axis of Sunni jihad that threatens not only Israel, but them.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and its state sponsors Qatar and Turkey, are the key members of this alliance structure. Without their support Hamas would have gone down with the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt last summer. As it stands, all view Hamas’s war with Israel as a means of reinstating the Brotherhood to power in that country.

To achieve a Hamas victory, Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood are using Western support for Hamas against Israel. If the US and the EU are able to coerce Egypt and Israel to open their borders with Gaza, then the Western powers will hand the jihadist axis a strategic victory.

The implications of such a victory would be dire.

Hamas is ideologically indistinguishable from Islamic State. Like Islamic State, Hamas has developed mass slaughter and psychological terrorization as the primary tools in its military doctrine. If the US and the EU force Israel and Egypt to open Gaza’s borders, they will enable Hamas to achieve strategic and political stability in Gaza. As a consequence, a post-war Gaza will quickly become a local version of Islamic State-controlled Mosul.

In the first instance, such a development will render life in southern Israel too imperiled to sustain. The Western Negev, and perhaps Beersheba, Ashkelon and Ashdod, will become uninhabitable.

Then there is Judea and Samaria. If, as the US demands, Israel allows Gaza to reconnect with Judea and Samaria, in short order Hamas will dominate the areas. Militarily, the transfer of even a few of the thousands of rocket-propelled grenades Hamas has in Gaza will imperil military forces and civilians alike.

IDF armored vehicles and armored civilian buses will be blown to smithereens.

Whereas operating from Gaza, Hamas needed the assistance of the Obama administration and the Federal Aviation Administration to shut down Ben-Gurion Airport, from Judea and Samaria, all Hamas would require are a couple of hand-held mortars.

Jordan will also be directly threatened.

From Egypt’s perspective, a Hamas victory in the war with Israel that connects Gaza to Sinai will strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamic State and other allies. Such a development represents a critical threat to the regime.

And this brings us to Islamic State itself. It couldn’t have grown to its current monstrous proportions without the support of Qatar and Turkey.

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IDF Scores Hits on Hamas Military Leaders in Gaza

Muhammad Abu Smalla, 39 and Ra'ad Atar, 39

Muhammad Abu Smalla, 39 and Ra’ad Atar, 39
Source: General Security Service of Israel

By Jerry Gordon:

The Hamas breach of the 12th cease fire unleashed a new phase by the IDF in Operation Protective Edge to take down Hamas military leaders. By going after Hamas military commanders via air assaults based on intelligence gathered by Shin Bet, it has scored some important hits, including operatives involved in the 2006 kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit. Schalit was held in captivity for five years by Hamas until his release in October 2011 in exchange for 1037 Palestinian prisoners. The IDF announced the killing of Muhammad Abu Smalla, 39 and Ra’ad Atar, 39 and a third operative in an IAF air assault on a Rafah location in southern Gaza. The significance of the killing of both Smalla and Atar was their involvement in several operations, notably the 2004 tunnel attack in the Philadelphi corridor that sparked IDF tunnel detection developments and the recent cross border tunnel attacks in Operation Protective Edge. See our recent Iconoclast post, “How Israel’s Military Bureaucracy Bungled the Terror Tunnel Threat”.

Further, there are conflicting reports that the IAF may have taken down the head of the Hamas military wing, Mohammed Deif. However, Hamas only acknowledges that Deif’s wife and infant child were killed in the attack on their home in Gaza. Hamas is now concentrating its rocket barrages on Southern Israel and strategic launches against the Tel Aviv area in central Israel seeking to score another hit near Ben Gurion Airport. An earlier rocket hit in late July on a residence near Ben Gurion Airport brought about an order from the US FAA resulting in temporary suspension of flights to Israel by US and international carriers.

Read more at New English Review

Also see:

War Leaves Hamas Battered as Israel Gives Diplomacy a Chance

by Yaakov Lappin
Special to IPT News
August 19, 2014

1049The summer war that has raged between Hamas in Gaza and Israel has left the Islamist terrorist organization battered and bruised. Its offensive tunnel capabilities lie in ruins, while its rocket arsenal near depletion.

The war began when Hamas launched heavy rocket salvos at Israeli cities in July, and then rejected multiple Egyptian-media truce offers. Hamas’s decision to go to war proved to be very costly, and it is now attempting to salvage some gains through a round of indirect negotiations with Israel in Cairo.

Israeli intelligence agencies heard chatter in Gaza about an impending conflict several months before it began. The Israel Defense Force’s Southern Command quietly prepared for the clash, and senior army sources say the fruit of these diligent preparations are apparent today.

Despite its bravado, claims of victory, and public rhetoric, and irrespective of its long list of demands, many of which are unrealistic and will not be met – like Hamas’s demand for a seaport in Gaza – Hamas is negotiating from a position of weakness. Its posturing is aimed at domestic consumption, and is also an attempt to convince the Israeli public that the mere fact Hamas survived the war, and continued shooting projectiles, represents a defeat for Israel.

In fact, Israel deliberately refrained from seeking to destroy Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades. The defense establishment believes that it is in Israel’s interest to have a weakened, single address in Gaza, responsible for governing the Strip, and capable of enforcing a truce. Most importantly, any entity ruling Gaza must be responsive to Israeli deterrence.

If Hamas is toppled, the reasoning in the Israeli defense establishment goes, it may be replaced by an assortment of jihadist militias, creating an even more chaotic situation in which deterrence becomes impossible, and where Gaza would resemble Somalia.

The first two stages of the Israeli operation against Hamas – air strikes and a limited ground offensive – test the idea that Hamas can still be deterred. Should Hamas resume hostilities and prove that it is immune to deterrence, despite the wide-scale damage it has brought on itself and to the people of Gaza, the IDF has prepared operational plans for a full-scale ground offensive into the Gaza Strip, aimed at the destruction of Hamas’s military wing.

IDF ground forces continue to be positioned along the Gaza border, and await instructions from the security cabinet after completing preparations for the possibility of renewed fighting.

A damage assessment of Hamas’s military capabilities thus far reveals the true extent of the price it has paid for its aggression against Israeli civilians. During the war, the IDF destroyed nearly 5,000 targets, most of which were planted by Hamas deep inside Gaza civilian areas. The targets included 1,700 rocket launchers and sites used to store the projectiles. Hamas lost around 1,000 command and control centers – most of which were based in the homes of Hamas field commanders. Another 1,000 targets that threatened advancing IDF units on the ground were destroyed. Israel also struck 240 Hamas regime buildings that were used by its military wing in terrorist-guerilla operations, 200 rocket factories, and a myriad of additional targets.

Gaza terror factions began the war with an arsenal of about 9,000 rockets. Today, under a third of that arsenal remains, due to depletion or destruction by Israel Air Force strikes.

Rocket attacks proved highly ineffective in Hamas’s goal of sowing death and destruction in Israeli cities. Nevertheless, daily rocket attacks on millions of Israelis paralyzed ordinary life and spread fear among the public.

It was the performance of the Iron Dome air defense system that prevented mass casualties and large-scale wreckage in Israel. Nine Iron Dome batteries deployed across Israel intercepted 90 percent of all targeted rockets heading towards populated Israeli regions, while the remainder of rockets mostly fell in uninhabited areas.

Some 3,400 rockets were fired into Israel, and Israeli civilians were forced to deal with the psychological terror and daily disruption of air raid sirens, and the need to quickly take cover. In physical terms, however, Hamas’s rocket arsenal was rendered largely useless by Iron Dome. All of the rockets fired by Hamas were produced in Gaza’s flourishing arms industry, which rose up after Egypt blocked smuggling tunnels linking the Strip to the Sinai Peninsula. Previously, those tunnels were used by Iran to export weapons to Hamas.

Israeli villages and agricultural regions bordering the Gaza Strip fared worse than the rest of the country. These areas were exposed to constant mortar shells fired from Gaza and the threat of cross-border tunnels. Residents abandoned much of the area, becoming internally displaced persons during the war.

Hamas’s second disappointment came when its elaborate network of underground attack tunnels it dug from Gaza into Israel were destroyed before they could be used in grand terrorist attacks against Israeli border villages and army bases. Hamas spent tens of millions of dollars building the heavily fortified tunnels, which were supposed to be used to launch indiscriminate killing sprees and kidnap soldiers.

Although a few of the tunnels were used by Hamas cells to launch deadly raids on Israeli army units that protected villages in the south of the country, the majority of the tunnels had been mapped out by military intelligence, and were destroyed during the course of the ground offensive. During this stage of the fighting, Israeli infantry, armored, and combat engineering units reached tunnel shafts, and proceeded to destroy the underground structures using liquid explosive. Hamas’s regional battalions mounted a stiff defense of the tunnels, firing a very large number of RPGs, mortar shells, sniper rounds, and automatic fire from Palestinian civilian areas at the army. Hamas guerillas used an internal Gaza tunnel network to launch hit-and-run attacks. They also booby-trapped large numbers of Palestinian residential buildings.

Nevertheless, the IDF destroyed all of the attack tunnels – 32 it knew about – taking two weeks to complete the mission. It took Hamas five years and a great deal of treasure to build up its underground warfare capability, but this was ruined by the Israeli army in little time.

The tunnels, complete with telephone lines, electricity, and rail cars, were built with cement sent into Gaza for the purpose of civilian construction projects, such as schools and medical clinics.

Sixty four IDF soldiers and officers were killed in the battle to destroy the tunnels, and three Israeli civilians were killed by projectiles. But Hamas, and to a smaller extent, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, lost several hundred terrorists in combat with soldiers. Between 900 and 1,000 terrorists were killed by the army in Gaza clashes, according to Israeli intelligence evaluations. According to Hamas medical sources, nearly 2,000 Gazans were killed in the conflict. That would put the civilian/combatant casualty ratio at roughly 1:1, a rate IDF sources say is one of the lowest in recent wars by a Western military against an asymmetrical foe. By comparison, NATO’s operations in Afghanistan have resulted, according to reports, in a 3:1 civilian/combatant casualty ratio.

Hamas also spent years developing its own drone program, but when it tried to send these into Israel during the war, the IAF detected the threat and shot them down. Additionally, a Hamas naval commando unit attempted to infiltrate the country via a southern Israeli beach, but it too was detected by the military, and its members were swiftly killed.

Israel’s operations in Gaza included, for the first time, a fully integrated joint forces command and control network. This system allowed infantry units, navy missile ships, tanks, fighter jets, artillery units and drones to share real-time intelligence on targets, and to synchronize their firepower. All of these forces were also linked up to military intelligence, allowing for new and critical information on threats in the sectors of units in combat to be transmitted in seconds.

For example, when the army obtained vital information from Hamas detainees on booby- trapped homes in the vicinity of an infantry unit, information was immediately sent to the infantry commanders, enabling them to take evasive action.

The big question now is whether Israel’s military success will convince Hamas to end its belligerent course.

Tuesday afternoon brought reason for doubt. Three medium-range rockets were fired at the Negev city of Beersheba, prompting swift Israeli air strikes on targets in northern Gaza. Israel recalled its negotiators from Cairo in response, and the coming hours will be crucial in charting the course of future developments.

If Hamas chooses to resume attacks on Israel, it is likely that the IDF will be ordered to target the remaining components of Hamas’s terrorist-guerilla army. This time around, the goal will be to defeat Hamas, rather than deter it.

Yaakov Lappin is the Jerusalem Post’s military and national security affairs correspondent, and author of The Virtual Caliphate (Potomac Books), which proposes that jihadis on the internet have established a virtual Islamist state.