“Palestine” and the ICC

by Reuven Berko
Special to IPT News
December 31, 2014

1108The Palestinian Authority’s latest unilateral attempt to gain recognition as a state without negotiating any concessions failed Tuesday. But other mischief remains in play, including Wednesday’s move to join the International Criminal Court(ICC).

Earlier this month, “Palestine” was upgraded from “observer entity” to “observer state” at the ICC. It was another milestone on the Palestinian Authority’s road to international recognition as a state without having to negotiate directly with Israel, make any concessions, or commit to a genuine dialogue for peace, a unilateral stem directly violating both the Oslo Accords and UN Resolution 242. Countries supporting the move know – but are apathetic to the fact – that their actions only reinforce the PA’s intransigence and destroy any motivation the Palestinians might have had to compromise on any issue that would bring about a just peace for both sides.

The Palestinian Authority’s dream to try Israel in the ICC for so-called “war crimes” in the Gaza Strip is the height of absurdity. The PLO won international recognition after it claimed to have abandoned terrorism against Israel. If its operational wing, the Palestinian Authority, manages to penetrate the international legal network, sign the Rome Convention and bring Israel to trial for its activities in the Gaza Strip, senior PLO and Palestinian Authority figures will immediately find themselves in the ICC accused of their own crimes.

The Palestinian national consensus government, with Rami Hamdallah as prime minister and Mahmoud Abbas as “president,” is a coalition with Hamas, whose suicide bombers blew themselves up in Israel on busy streets and in crowded public places and caused thousands of deaths and maimings, to say nothing of abducting and murdering three teen aged boys just six months ago. The Palestinian government is responsible for the war crimes committed by Hamas this past summer, including launching long-range rockets at densely populated cities, among them Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and sending its death squads to murder Israeli civilians indiscriminately.

Israel conducts military operations against Palestinian terrorism with pinpoint precision and in accordance with the best international legal and moral criteria. This past summer, as always, it warned the civilian population before it attacked terrorists, whose leaders had fled like rats into the basements of hospitals to wait out the war. In contrast, Palestinian terrorist organizations deliberately attacked the Israeli civilian population; they uttered no word of regret or sorrow, and certainly did not appoint a committee to investigate.

While Palestinians bemoan their failure to carry out a mass slaughter of Israeli civilians and destroy the country’s infrastructure, mainly thanks to the Iron Dome aerial defense system, Israel is undertaking a comprehensive examination of complaints lodged by Palestinians, Israelis and the international community regarding possible illegal actions taken by Israeli soldiers and officers during Operation Protective Edge.

No country comes close to Israel in following the letter of the laws of warfare. Arab countries, many of which are currently engaged in mutual slaughter, cannot even approximate Israel’s conduct when it comes to morality. Needless to say, no Palestinian or other terrorist organization has ever examined its own behavior the way Israel constantly does.

There are many Palestinians honest enough to admit – although not brave enough to do so publicly – that if they had the weapons Israel does, not one single Israeli would be left alive. Article 7 of the Hamas charter decrees the total annihilation of all the Jews in the world. Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas’ partner in the Palestinian national consensus government, had the unmitigated gall to stand before the UN General Assembly and accuse Israel of genocide.

Read more at IPT

Dr. Reuven Berko has a Ph.D. in Middle East studies, is a commentator on Israeli Arabic TV programs, writes for the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom and is considered one of Israel’s top experts on Arab affairs.

The Watchman Show: 2014 Year in Review

The Watchman, by Erick Stakelbeck, Dec. 30, 2014:

On this week’s edition of The Watchman, we take a look back at the major stories that shaped 2014: ISIS, Iran, Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, and much more. Plus, Middle East expert Jonathan Spyer joins us for a look ahead at what to expect in 2015.

Hamas’s International Triangle of Bases: Gaza, Turkey and Qatar

by Yaakov Lappin
Special to IPT News
December 18, 2014

1104In recent years, the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas has developed into a truly international entity. Today, it enjoys three territorial bases of operation: Gaza, the seat of the Hamas regime, Turkey, and Qatar.

According to Israeli intelligence estimates, each base serves a different purpose. The three branches have worked, alternatively, in harmony and in discord, together and independently, in line with the various terrorist activities they pursue.

“These are not the same leaderships,” one security source said, speaking of the Hamas command structure in each base.

“Qatar is home to Hamas’s political branch, headed by Khaled Meshaal. In Turkey [in the city of Istanbul], Hamas maintains a military branch headquarters, which sets up terrorist infrastructure. This headquarters is comprised partly of former Hamas prisoners who were ejected from Israel during the [2011] Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange. In Gaza, there are both military and political operatives.”

Each branch plays a unique role, and relations between them fluctuate.

Hamas’s headquarters in Istanbul is headed by Salah Al-Arouri, a senior figure in the military wing who is focused on rejuvenating Hamas terrorism cells in the West Bank, and using it as a springboard for orchestrating deadly attacks against Israel.

Gaza is home to the main military wing, the Ezzedin Al-Qassam Brigades, whose operatives focus on building up their offensive rocket capabilities, tunnel networks, and, like Arouri, they also seek to also set up West Bank terrorism cells.

On Thursday, Hamas held what is described as its largest military exercise since the summer war against Israel.

Gaza is also home to Hamas’s political wing, headed by Ismail Haniyeh.

“They all have their own interests. Those in Gaza have one point of view, those abroad have another. There have, in the past, been disagreements,” the source said.

One example of such internal conflict was the dispute between Khaled Meshaal and Hamas in Gaza over when to end the summer war with Israel. Meshaal pushed Hamas to continue the fighting, despite growing calls by Hamas in Gaza to agree to a ceasefire. The conflicting positions were partly the result of geography: Hamas in Gaza had a better real time understanding of the heavy costs Israel was inflicting on it during the fighting than the overseas Meshaal, who, from his luxurious Qatari surroundings, could afford the privilege of calling for more fighting.

Nevertheless, a basic level of cooperation and consent exists among all three branches. Saleh Al-Arouri in Turkey would not have embarked on a major mission to set up a large-scale Hamas terrorist network in the West Bank, plan atrocities against Israel, and aim to topple the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, without approval from Khaled Meshaal and Hamas in Gaza.

Cooperation may not always be close, but it exists.

“There are connections,” the security source said. “Hamas in Gaza is connected to those trying to orchestrate terrorism in Judea and Samaria. There is a circle of cooperation.”

Arouri could seek and receive assistance from Gaza, as he has done, but he can also try to work independently. “There are no laws,” the source stressed.

In recent months, the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] uncovered two intricate Hamas terror plots to inflict mass-casualty attacks on Israelis, and to weaken Fatah in the West Bank. Both were tied to Arouri.

This discovery has led Israeli defense chiefs to become more vocal about the Hamas base in Turkey.

“Hamas’s terrorism headquarters are in Gaza and in Istanbul. It is unbelievable that a NATO member is hosting the headquarters of a terrorist organization in its territory,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told his Spanish counterpart earlier this month.

“We have stopped a coup planned by Hamas, which was organized in, among other places, its Turkish headquarters, against [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] Abu Mazen in Judea and Samaria. We saved him from this revolution. Hence, there is much significance and importance in our having freedom to operate security-wise in Judea and Samaria,” Ya’alon stated.

Likewise, at the end of November, the Shin Bet and IDF announced that they had broken up a large-scale international Hamas terrorist infrastructure that was in the planning stages of multiple mass-casualty attacks, including an intended bombing of a soccer stadium in Jerusalem.

The plot included car bombings, bombing Jerusalem’s light rail system, and targeting Israelis overseas.

This case illustrates the growing centrality of Istanbul to Hamas terror activities in the West Bank. Hamas’s headquarters in Turkey has become a key command and planning center.

Earlier this year, the Shin Bet announced the thwarting of another large Hamas network in the West Bank, set up by Saleh Al-Arouri in Istanbul, and headed locally by a Hamas member in Ramallah.

Hamas funneled more than a million shekels [more than $250,000] to terror operatives to prepare a series of attacks, which were designed to allow it to shift attention away from Gaza, and ultimately lead to the fall of the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority, according to Israeli investigation. This would be achieved by provoking Israel into harsh responses in the West Bank, destabilizing the area and leading to the toppling of the PA.

Hamas has come a long way since the days when its founders, Muslim Brotherhood operatives in the Palestinian territories, set up indoctrination and social support centers.

Today, it is an international terrorist organization, which continues to plot new ways to murder and maim Israelis from its various bases, while it dreams of setting up a second Islamist-jihadist regime in the West Bank, as it did in Gaza.

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.

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:

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:

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.”

Report Details Hamas’ Responsibility for Destruction of Gaza Strip

Free Beacon, By Adam Kredo:

A declassified intelligence report released by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) this week showed Hamas terrorists have been firing rockets at Israel from heavily populated civilian areas, including churches, United Nations facilities, Red Cross stations, hospitals, schools, children’s playgrounds, and a number of other areas.

The report, which was declassified by the IDF earlier this week, includes previously unreleased statistics and military surveillance videos showing Hamas launching missiles from many of these civilian locations, which constitutes a war crime.

New evidence is presented that Hamas used several United Nations schools run by the Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) as a base from which to fire rockets and mortars.

The revelation is likely to prompt further scrutiny of UNRWA’s activities during the most recent conflict, including the discovery of multiple rocket stashes that were later returned by UNRWA to Hamas.

At least 1,600 of the 3,600 rockets fired since July 8 at Israel by Hamas originated from civilian strongholds, according to the declassified report.

This included: Three rockets fired from churches, four from Red Cross stations, 10 from amusement parks, 20 from first aid stations, 30 from U.N. facilities, 41 from hospitals, 50 from children’s playgrounds, 85 from medial clinics, 248 from schools, 331 from mosques, and 818 from areas such as graveyards and power plants.

new-declassified-report-exposes-hamas-human-shield-policy-3-638

The IDF maintained that Hamas is chiefly responsible for the destruction of civilian areas in the Gaza Strip.

“Hamas’ tactics flagrantly violate international law and the most basic moral precepts,” the IDF stated in the report. “Given these tactics, the ultimate responsibility for the damage done to civilians as well as the civilian infrastructure of Gaza lies with Hamas.”

The report included video footage and surveillance photos of Hamas erecting rocket launchers at a U.N. facility and hotel where journalists were residing. Militants can be seen in the footage building the rocket launcher beneath a blue tent outside of the hotel.

Additional aerial satellite imagery released in the report shows that at least one rocket launcher was erected in a U.N.-operated elementary school for girls in Beit Lahiya.

Other rocket launchers were shown to have been set-up at UNRWA’s Shahada Al-Manar elementary school for boys, from which at least 11 mortars were fired on Aug. 2, according to satellite imagery.

Another rocket launching site was discovered at an UNRWA distribution center and health center in Gaza, according to video showing Hamas terrorists firing the rockets form the facility, which is located in a residential neighborhood.

Multiple other images show scores of rocket launchers and combat posts placed in densely populated areas throughout Gaza in what the IDF refers to as a “terror fortress.”

Hamas also has been discovered to have fired rockets from inside the El’ Ahzar Islamic College in Gaza, as well as the Abu Nur School, according to IDF military footage included in the report

“Another one, another one from the school, launching from the school,” an IDF soldier can be heard saying in the footage. “I see the rocket launcher. Three more rocket[s] launched.”

“It looks like the rocket launchers are inside the school,” adds another soldier.

Hamas additionally stored rocket stockpiles and established military headquarters at mosques.

Several of these mosques and civilian homes located nearby were used to conceal the entrances to Hamas’ sophisticated network of underground tunnels, many of which have been destroyed by the IDF in the past weeks.

On July 30, Hamas began firing rockets from a Red Cross ambulance station, according to the report.

Rocket launchers also were found to have been strategically placed around the Wafa Hospital in Gaza.

IDF footage also shows Hamas militants using an ambulance as a getaway vehicle after firing rockets from a house.

Also see:

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.

Read more

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.

Did a Hamas Plot to Seize the West Bank Really Cause the Gaza War?

fatah-hamas-450x252Front Page, By Daniel Greenfield:

If some of this information holds up, then the picture of the Gaza War changes significantly.

A large-scale Hamas terrorist formation in the West Bank and Jerusalem planned to destabilize the region through a series of deadly terror attacks in Israel and then topple the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority, the Shin Bet said Monday.

The Turkey-based Hamas overseas headquarters orchestrated the plot which centered on a string of mass casualty terror attacks on Israeli targets, the Shin Bet added.

The end goal was to destabilize the Palestinian territories and use the instability to carry out a military coup, overthrowing the government of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Hamas infrastructure relied on support from cells in neighboring Jordan, and on couriers who delivered terrorist finances, totaling at least two million shekels, which were used to purchase weapons and homes that were used as hideouts, according to the investigation.

Ninety three Hamas members are in Israeli custody, and the Shin Bet has questioned 46 so far. Security forces plan to indict some 70 suspects. The investigation began in May, and is ongoing, security sources said.

The earliest timeline of the arrests appears to predate the official onset of the fighting. Also the operation was orchestrated from Turkey, much like the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teens.

What that may really mean is that Israel was caught in the middle of a power play between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. If Turkey’s tyrant Erdogan seemed even more hysterical during the war than usual, it was because he had helped set it off. And if Saudi Arabia seemed a bit suspiciously supportive, that was because it was using Israel in its proxy war with Qatar and Turkey.

Once it was clear that the operation was exposed, Hamas decided to go all in while counting on Turkey and Qatar to bring Obama to the rescue. The results have been mixed, but if Israel ends up making concessions then all the bad guys on both sides will get what they want.

The war as we saw it, was actually a semi-accidental result of a larger Hamas operation going off prematurely as part of an internal civil war within the Muslim world.

The twist in all this is that the Unity Government of Fatah and Hamas was only a prelude to Hamas stabbing Fatah in the back.

UN Should Investigate Hamas Deaths of Children and Adult Tunnel Excavators

Cross Border tunnel, July 25, 2014, Source: AP

Cross Border tunnel, July 25, 2014, Source: AP

By Jerry Gordon:

This past weekend, former New Jersey Congressional candidate Rabbi Schmuley Boteach and head of This World: The Values Network  published  an ad in the Weekend Edition of the Wall Street Journal directed at exposing the calumnies of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) investigating alleged IDF War Crimes in Gaza against civilians, especially women and children. Maybe it’s time for the UN to investigate the use of Gaza civilians, especially children as human shields.   Perhaps that suggested investigation should be broadened to investigate Gazan children and adult men   killed as expendable slaves excavating those terror tunnels used to attack and kill IDF forces  threatening kidnapping and death of Israeli children.  What does that remind you of?  The Nazi use of Jews and other slave laborers during WWII, thousands of whom lost their lives in hollowing out tunnels for the  assembly of V-2 revenge rockets that rained death on unoccupied Europe and Britain. Different tyranny, same result.

The target of This World ad was Canadian lawyer William Schabas, a notorious vitriolic critic of Israel, whom even the Harper government in Canada has taken to task for his hatred of the Jewish nation. The WSJ full page ad accused Schabas of Last Monday,  of being “ a Toadie of Iran”.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird was prompted last Monday to send this message on his Twitter account:

The “UN Human Rights Council continues to be a sham for advancing human rights. It’s an utter shame and will do nothing to promote peace and dignity in Gaza for the Palestinian people”.

Earlier, Baird had this comment about Hamas:

Canada is frustrated and deeply disappointed that the UNHCR decided to completely ignore the abhorrent terrorist acts of Hamas.

Israel and the US condemned the UNHRC appointment of the three person investigative committee headed by Schabas.

The Jerusalem Post reported this exchange with Schabas following the UNHRC announcement of his appointment as head of a three person inquiry into Operation Protective Edge:

He was asked about Hamas’s inclusion during an interview with Channel 2. “I cannot tell you what the commission is going to do in terms of interpreting its mandate. I am only one member and I have not had a meeting with the other commissioners,” Schabas said.

“Do you consider Hamas a terrorist organization?” Channel 2 asked him.

“It would be inappropriate for me to answer a question like that,” Schabas said, adding that it was important to “study this question in as neutral and objective a manner as possible.”

But, then we had self-hating Jewish Princeton Professor emeritus, Richard Falk, as the UNHRC Special Rapporteur on Gaza. To say nothing of the current head of the so-called Human Rghts Commission, South African Jurist of Tamil Indian origins.

Earlier in August, Boteach’s This World had published another full page WSJ ad, that the London Times felt was strong that criticized Hamas for using civilians, especially women and children as human shields. That ad was headlined “Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it’s Hamas turn”.  It quoted Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel saying:

In my own lifetime, I have seen Jewish children thrown into the fire. And now I have seen Muslim children used as human shields, in both cases, by worshippers of death cults indistinguishable from that of the Molochites.

“What we are suffering through today is not a battle of Jew versus Arab or Israeli versus Palestinian. Rather, it is a battle between those who celebrate life and those who champion death. It is a battle of civilization versus barbarism”.

In our series of NER/Iconoclast articles we reported:

As for children killed or maimed in the current conflict, Tablet Magazine cited a 2012 Report by The Institute of Palestine Studies stating  that  “At least 160 children have been killed excavating  the tunnels, according to Hamas officials.”

Read more at New English Review

Who watches the watchers?

by Steven Emerson
The Jerusalem Post
August 16, 2014

The performance of the media in covering the Israel-Gaza conflict remains the one area of investigation that is sorely needed.

1045As is the historical pattern concerning Israel, last week began the growing tsunami of groups – representing the United Nations, The Hague, the European Union, human rights groups, and other non-governmental organizations – announcing their intention to “investigate and review” the military actions under taken by Israel and Hamas during the past five weeks to determine if “war crimes” were committed.

We know from past history the demonstrable manifestation of the vitriolic anti Israeli (and some might add anti-Semitic) bias by nearly all of these organizations clamoring to declare Israel guilty of war crimes, as they have repeatedly accused Israel in the past of everything from massive human rights violations to war crimes to genocide.

No other country in the world – even those like the Sudan, North Korea and Iran – who have committed genuine massive human rights violations – have ever been the object of such massive condemnations as Israel has selectively been. And as far as the official inclusion of Hamas actions into the investigative agenda of these groups, we know that their inclusion is only window dressing, designed to give the false veneer that their investigations are “even handed.”

Yesterday, the UN announced that nearly 2,000 civilians were killed in the Ukrainian battle with the pro Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine in the past 2 days alone. Two-thousand in two days? In five weeks, Gaza suffered 1,957 deaths, of which most were actual terrorists, not civilians, as the mainstream media and UN agencies had speciously alleged. But don’t expect any onslaught of investigations by the UN or human rights groups. And where was the international media coverage of the 2,000 deaths in eastern Ukraine? AWOL of course.

Indeed. the performance of the media in covering the Israel-Gaza conflict remains the one area of investigation that is sorely needed. And if truth be told, why should the media be afraid of an assessment of its performance? After all, it is a profession that claims the moral high ground, asserts that it is only pursuing “the truth,” claims that it is the only institution in a free society that can provide accountability to the actions of the government, hence the moniker “Fourth Estate” for the media, and portrays any criticism of its performance as somehow an attack on “free speech.”

But who watches over the watchers?

Well, no one actually does. Yet the media likes to proclaim they are self-policing and that any external oversight would be a violation of the fundamental right to free speech. So from time to time, ever so rarely, we actually witness the media admitting to mistakes and inaccuracies in its coverage. Generally speaking however, those admissions of wrongdoing are initiated not by the high priests in the mainstream media but by “lesser” media on the periphery of the priesthood, outside observers and critics who have caught the media with their hands in the cookie jars and by truly honest journalists, few as they are, snubbed and derided by the mainstream media. Just look at how established journalists Bernard Goldberg and Sharyl Attkisson were viciously denigrated and attacked by the mainstream media after they had the chutzpa – actually integrity – to criticize the performance of their own co-religionists.

What is at stake here is the very honesty and accuracy of the mainstream media’s coverage of the Israel-Gaza war. Specifically, how honest, fair and accurate was the mainstream media – such as The Washington Post, National Public Radio, The New York Times, and CNN – in covering Hamas actions in Gaza, Hamas human rights violations and atrocities, and Hamas threats to journalists. We know all too well how they covered Israeli actions in Gaza. Coverage of the deaths and damage in Gaza was covered wall to wall by both print and television, often without providing the critical context that the Israeli targets were Hamas terrorist missile launching sites, Hamas command and control headquarters, and Hamas military sites – all embedded in Gaza’s civilian population centers, from schools to hospitals to UN Centers.

In the coverage provided by those above named media outlets, there was not one photo of one Hamas terrorist, not one photo of a Hamas missile site embedded in a civilian area, such as a UN school, hospital, apartment building, kindergarten. There was not one story or photo of Hamas executions of Palestinian dissidents. And there was not one story about direct Palestinian threats to and harassment of journalists if Hamas suspected them of actually showing any of the above. Thus, it was with amazingly refreshing candor that we witnessed Foreign Press Association (FPA), an organization of 480 international journalists covering Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, actually issue a statement last week condemning the threats by and intimidation of journalists by Hamas.

Read more at IPT

Middle East Meltdown: Here’s What’s Happening

Screen-Shot-2012-09-15-at-8.28.27-PMBy Patrick Poole:

The Middle East is in full meltdown and the U.S. is rapidly nearing full retreat in the region. But considering the incompetents running our foreign policy, our absence may be best for the Middle East for the moment.

So here’s what’s happening:

Iraq: Last night Prime Minister Maliki gave a speech accusing new President Fuad Masum of violating the constitution as Golden Dawn militias backing Maliki took up strategic positions around Baghdad, including the Green Zone, in an all-out coup. Remarkably, Maliki is accusing Masum of a coup. Maliki’s issue with Masum is that the new president has not selected Maliki for a third term as prime minister. One report said that U.S. forces had to extricate President Masum from the presidential palace when it came under mortar fire from Maliki’s renegades. Let’s not forget the words of President Obama in December 2011, when he declared that “we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq” upon pulling out all remaining U.S. troops.

Islamic State: A coup, of course, is exactly what Iraq needs right now as the terrorist Islamic State continues to push south despite U.S. airstrikes, as the Islamic State conducts ethnic and religious cleansing of Yahzidis and Christians creating a staggering humanitarian crisis. Last week the Islamic State forces captured the dam north of Mosul, the largest dam in Iraq that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers described in 2007 as “the most dangerous dam in the world” because of its instability. This is a key strategic asset that will give the Islamic State control of the Tigris River as they push towards Baghdad. The best hope to stall this push is not the Iraqi Army, which collapsed several weeks ago when the Islamic State began their offensive, but Kurdish forces. The Islamic State is also preparing to target Saudi intelligence officials as they plan to open a front there, despite the fact that much of their funding has come from Saudi Arabia.

Lebanon: Iraq is not the only place where the Islamic State has launched an offensive. Last week they launched an attack on the Lebanese border town of Arsal, overrunning Lebanese Army checkpoints and taking Lebanese soldiers hostage. Arsal is home to a large camp housing refugees from Syria. ISIS took the captives hoping to exchange them for a Syrian Islamist militia commander supported by Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State that had been arrested by Lebanese authorities. Although the terrorist groups eventually agreed to withdraw and release their captives, the New York Times quoted one their commanders that the attack forces included the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra (the Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate) and the Free Syrian Army – the same Free Syrian Army receiving weapons from the U.S. As I reported here last month, some of those U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army forces have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Meanwhile, Lebanon remains without a president as Hezbollah and their March 8 Alliance allies in parliament refuse to elect a president, a position reserved for a Maronite Christian. Syrian refugees now make up one-third of the country’s population, further destabilizing Lebanon.

Syria: The war in Syria drags on as 170,000 people are estimate to have been killed – one-third of those civilians – and many of its largest cities, such as Homs, lie in complete ruin. The Islamic State controls a wide swath of territory in the north, while the Iranian and Russian-backed Assad forces fight to hold onto the coast and Damascus with no end to the war in sight. The recent successes of the Islamic State are prompting many Syrian rebels to join with the terror group.

Turkey: Yesterday’s presidential election saw the Islamist current Prime Minister Recep Erdogan elected.  Last week Erdogan signaled that as president he intended to turn the office from its largely ceremonial role to running the country from this new position. Under Erdogan, the country has grown increasingly authoritarian, with last year’s Gezi protests violently suppressed and the country remaining the largest jailer of journalists in the world. Concerns have been raised about Erdogan’s support for terrorism, particularly financing of Hamas and looking the other way as terrorist groups operate openly on the country’s Syrian border. Recent news reports have directly linked Erdogan to internationally-banned Al-Qaeda financier Yasin al-Qadi, even meeting with him repeatedly despite being on Turkey’s own terrorism list. Despite Erdogan’s dictatorial manner President Obama has hailed the neo-Ottoman Erdogan as one of his top five favorite world leaders, and notwithstanding its support for terrorist groups, Turkey remains as co-chair of the State Department’s Global Counterterrorism Forum.

Israel/Gaza: A new 72-hour truce was announced last night in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. While negotiators are headed back to Cairo today for continued talks, there remains a Mexican standoff: Israel has no intention of ending the blockade on Gaza allowing Hamas to resupply itself as it continues to rain down rockets on Israel, and Hamas has made the border openings a pre-condition to any deal. Since the beginning of Israel’s Operation Protection Edge, Hamas and other terrorist groups have launched 3,488 rockets at Israel and casualties in Gaza are approaching 2,000 (though many media outlets and even the UN are expressing long-overdue caution about casualty figures being supplied by Hamas-controlled ministries).

Egypt: One of the chief causes of the current Israel/Hamas conflict is that the Egyptian government has wisely put a stranglehold on the smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza. Since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi a year ago, Egypt has shut down and destroyed a reported 80 percent of the Gaza smuggling tunnels, putting a severe crimp in the Hamas finances that netted the terror group $1 million every day and stocked the terror group with material and weapons. Thus, Hamas is eager to have the Rafah border crossing reopened. The Egyptian presidential election in May that saw Abdel Fattah al-Sisi installed as president seemed to definitively resolve the country’s political crisis, but terror attacks in Sinai and around Egypt directed at the new government continue. These same terrorist groups have also used the Sinai to launch rockets towards Israel. This past weekend the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies announced the formation of the “Egyptian Revolutionary Council” in Istanbul, hoping to model itself off the Syrian opposition and portending a continued insurgency against the Egyptian government. Violence could erupt this week as the first anniversary of the dispersal of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Rabaa protests last August 14th, and attacks on Coptic Christians continue in Upper Egypt, where I recently visited.

Read more at PJ Media