Gaza & Hamas
- Un drone gazaoui s'écrase en Israël (AFP) - "Un drone lancé depuis la bande de Gaza s'est écrasé aujourd'hui [jeudi] en Israël, a affirmé l'armée israélienne, la troisième incursion de ce type en un an".
- Le Hamas revendique le lancement d'un drone en Israël (Times of Israel)
"Le micro-drone qui s’est écrasé près de la clôture à la frontière de Gaza était lancé par le Hamas, selon un communiqué publié par le groupe. « Nous avons lancé plusieurs drones pour des missions spéciales dans le territoire d’Israël », a indiqué le groupe dans un communiqué. L’armée israélienne a suivi le drone tout au long de son vol, a indiqué Ynet. Quand il s’est écrasé, les soldats du Corps de génie de l’armée israélienne sont arrivés pour l’examiner.
Le Hamas a déjà lancé un drone dans le passé, lors de l’opération Bordure protectrice. Il a été intercepté et abattu par un missile Patriot."
- La flottille contre le blocus [maritime] en route vers Gaza (Times of Israel) - "Cinq navires font partie de la flottille, qui devrait arriver au large de la côte de Gaza dans les trois prochains jours. Les responsables israéliens ont averti que les bateaux seront arrêtés avant qu’ils ne puissent accoster à Gaza".
- The U.N.’s Gaza Report Is Flawed and Dangerous, Richard Kemp (retired British Army colonel, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan) - "The report is characterized by a lack of understanding of warfare. That is hardly surprising".
"As a British officer who had more than his share of fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans, it pains me greatly to see words and actions from the United Nations that can only provoke further violence and loss of life. The United Nations Human Rights Council report on last summer’s conflict in Gaza, prepared by Judge Mary McGowan Davis, and published on Monday, will do just that.
The report starts by attributing responsibility for the conflict to Israel’s “protracted occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” as well as the blockade of Gaza. Israel withdrew from Gaza 10 years ago. In 2007 it imposed a selective blockade only in response to attacks by Hamas and the import of munitions and military matériel from Iran. The conflict last summer, which began with a dramatic escalation in rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians, was a continuation of Hamas’s war of aggression.
In an unusual concession, the report suggests that Hamas may have been guilty of war crimes, but it still legitimizes Hamas’s rocket and tunnel attacks and even sympathizes with the geographical challenges in launching rockets at Israeli civilians: “Gaza’s small size and its population density make it particularly difficult for armed groups always to comply” with the requirement not to launch attacks from civilian areas.
There is no such sympathy for Israel. Judge Davis accuses the Israel Defense Forces of “serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.” Yet no evidence is put forward to substantiate these accusations. It is as though the drafters of the report believe that any civilian death in war must be illegal.
Referring to cases in which Israeli attacks killed civilians in residential areas, Judge Davis says that in the absence of contrary information available to her commission, there are strong indications that the attacks were disproportionate, and therefore war crimes. But all we get is speculation and the presumption of guilt.
The report is characterized by a lack of understanding of warfare. That is hardly surprising. Judge Davis admitted, when I testified before her in February, that the commission, though investigating a war, had no military expertise. Perhaps that is why no attempt has been made to judge Israeli military operations against the practices of other armies. Without such international benchmarks, the report’s findings are meaningless.
The commission could have listened to Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said last November that the I.D.F. had taken extraordinary measures to try to limit civilian casualties. Or to a group of 11 senior military officers from seven nations, including the United States, Germany, Spain and Australia, who also investigated the Gaza conflict recently. I was a member of that group, and our report, made available to Judge Davis, said: “None of us is aware of any army that takes such extensive measures as did the I.D.F. last summer to protect the lives of the civilian population.”
The report acknowledges that Israel took steps to warn of imminent attacks but suggests more should have been done to minimize civilian casualties. Yet it offers no opinion about what additional measures Israel could have taken. It even criticizes Israel for using harmless explosive devices — the “knock on the roof” — as a final warning to evacuate targeted buildings, suggesting that it created confusion. No other country uses roof-knocks, a munition developed by Israel as part of a series of I.D.F. warning procedures, including text messages, phone calls and leaflet drops, that are known to have saved many Palestinian lives.
Judge Davis suggests that the I.D.F.’s use of air, tank and artillery fire in populated areas may constitute a war crime and recommends further international legal restrictions on their use. Yet these same systems were used extensively by American and British forces in similar circumstances in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are often vital in saving the lives of our own soldiers, and their curtailment would jeopardize military effectiveness while handing an advantage to our enemies.
The I.D.F. is not perfect. In the heat of battle and under stress its commanders and soldiers undoubtedly made mistakes. Weapons malfunctioned, intelligence was sometimes wrong and, as with all armies, it has some bad soldiers. Unnecessary deaths resulted, and these should be investigated and the individuals brought to trial if criminal culpability is suspected.
The reason so many civilians died in Gaza last summer was not Israeli tactics or policy. It was Hamas’s strategy. Hamas deliberately positioned its fighters and munitions in civilian areas, knowing that Israel would have no choice but to attack them and that civilian casualties would result. Unable to inflict existential harm on Israel by military means, Hamas sought to cause large numbers of casualties among its own people in order to bring international condemnation and unbearable diplomatic pressure against Israel.
Judge Davis’s report is rife with contradictions. She acknowledges that Israeli military precautions saved lives, yet without foundation accuses “decision makers at the highest levels of the government of Israel” of a policy of deliberately killing civilians. Incredibly, she “regrets” that her commission was unable to verify the use of civilian buildings by “Palestinian armed groups,” yet elsewhere acknowledges Hamas’s widespread use of protected locations, including United Nations schools.
Most worrying, Judge Davis claims to be “fully aware of the need for Israel to address its security concerns” while demanding that it “lift, immediately and unconditionally, the blockade on Gaza.” Along with the report’s endorsement of Hamas’s anti-Israel narrative, this dangerous recommendation would undoubtedly lead to further bloodshed in both Israel and Gaza."
- Being right about Gaza war report isn't enough, Major-General (res.) Giora Eiland (former head of Israel's National Security Council) - "We prefer to use explanations which mainly convince ourselves, that the UN Human Rights Council is an anti-Israel body. While that is true, it has to be the necessary conclusion following a professional refutation of the report's content, rather than the claim itself".
"Israel is rightfully slamming the conclusions of the United Nations commission of inquiry into Operation Protective Edge, but being right is not enough. We must also act more wisely. [...]
The counter report prepared and published by the State of Israel does not contribute a thing and only creates damage. Naturally, it is filled with praise for ourselves, and is therefore not seen as credible by the world, even if the facts contained it in are true.
We should have (and we should still) wait for the official report expected to be published by senior generals from European countries, the United States and Australia, who visited Israel recently and investigated Protective Edge themselves. As opposed to the rumors, they have yet to publish anything official. It's always better to "let another person praise you, and not your own mouth."
Instead of reiterating that the UN report is political and biased and anti-Semitic, we should attack its fundamental weaknesses. It is a shallow and unprofessional report, and that is not hard to prove. It says, for example, that Israel used excessive force, or that many civilians were killed. The necessary question is: "Exaggerated" or "many" compared to what?
The report's authors, like the authors of the Goldstone Report before them, did not bother checking operations conducted by other countries in population-saturated areas. The average ratio between civilian casualties and fighters in the allies' operations in Iraq was about 1:5 (five times more civilians). In Protective Edge the ratio was about 1:1. Any professional and objective source should have praised Israel.
The report's authors settled for describing the results (casualties, building destruction, etc) and completely ignored a number of parameters which can explain the results. The first parameter is the circumstances and conditions (including the population size, density, etc).
The second is the enemy's power. Clearly, the stronger the enemy – more fighters, more anti-tank weapons and more rockets, alongside a network of offensive and terror tunnels – the stronger the force that has to be used in order to achieve the desirable result. In such a case, there will necessarily be more casualties and destruction. Any professional comparison aimed at examining whether excessive or proportional force was used must therefore consider the enemy's strength in order to receive normalized results (in other words, "comparing apples to apples"). That wasn't done.
The third parameter is the enemy's code of conduct. When the enemy intentionally operates out of schools and hospitals, when it uses its citizens as a human shield and prevents them from abandoning threatened places, the result is more dead civilians.
The report's authors ignored any professional military standard which allows a comparison between Operation Protective Edge to other events, and wrote conclusions which are based on nothing.
We prefer to use explanations which mainly convince ourselves, that the UN Human Rights Council is an anti-Israel body. While that is true, it has to be the necessary conclusion following a professional refutation of the report's content, rather than the claim itself. This requires us to work vis-à-vis relatively objective elements, like the security establishment in Western countries or the American Congress. It's harder work, but it's necessary."
- What war crimes did Israel commit in Gaza?, Nahum Barnea (Ynet) - "World powers are exempted from investigation, exempted from punishment: Tyrant regimes, which destroy nations, in Africa and in the Middle East, are reprimanded from time to time, but don’t give a damn. Israel is stuck in a bad place in the middle".
"I beg the forgiveness of the distinguished members of the human rights community, but the talk about war crimes in regards to the fighting in Gaza is hollow talk at best, and false talk at worst. War crimes compared to who? Compared to what? Compared to what Russia is doing in Ukraine? Compared to what the United States did in Iraq? In Afghanistan? Compared to what China is doing in Tibet?
I won't be revealing any exciting news to my readers if I say that the international community's investigation procedures are selective. World powers are exempted from investigation, exempted from punishment: Tyrant regimes, which destroy nations, in Africa and in the Middle East, are reprimanded from time to time, but don’t give a damn. Israel is stuck in a bad place in the middle.
In light of this reality, Judge McGowan Davis' report spares Israel. Yes, there was an excessive use of ammunition in many cases, disproportional damage to residential buildings, unnecessary killing of children and civilians, and in two cases a fire frenzy in order to prevent a soldier's abduction. But every decision maker in the international community knows that there is no practical way of waging military operations while keeping sterile, with zero flaws.
Like in other Western countries, the public opinion's sensitivity towards fallen soldiers, and the government and army's fear of losing the public opinion's support, increase the number of civilian casualties on the other side. [...] The prime minister, the defense minister and the IDF commanders during Operation Protective Edge wanted to kill as many Hamas fighters and fighters of other terror organizations as possible. They were not thirsty for the blood of civilians in Gaza. On the contrary: The fear of a legal or diplomatic entanglement over unnecessary fire made them insist on warning procedures such as "roof knocking," waste sophisticated and expensive ammunition and keep fighter jets in the air for hours, all so as not to make a mistake. [...]"
- The UN is preserving the Israeli occupation, Ari Shavit (Haaretz) - "After the Gaza war report, every reasonable Israeli will think it's better to rule over another nation than to retreat, be attacked and be sent to The Hague when you’re defending yourself from the aggression".
- UNHRC report ignores Hamas' use of nuclear terrorism (Elder of Ziyon) - "During last summer's Gaza war, Hamas took credit for attacking, and threatened to further attack, Israel's nuclear power plant in Dimona"; "This is nuclear terrorism. The 2005 UN International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism defines acts that fall under that designation"; "Just another international law that Hamas violated that the UNHRC couldn't mention".
- An absurd UNHRC commission story and the games that will result (Elder of Ziyon) - "there is no downside to lying to the UNHRC. They will publish whatever people are willing to say. They won't try to corroborate it in the least. And then, when the Military Advocate General is forced to investigate these obviously bogus claims and concludes after many months that almost all the stories are fiction, the headlines will be that the MAG cannot possibly be objective because of the high percentage of accusations that were dismissed".
- Un Palestinien tire sur des militaires (AFP)
"Un Palestinien qui avait ouvert le feu sur des soldats israéliens a été blessé par balles à un point de passage en Cisjordanie [...], a annoncé l'armée ce jour. "Un véhicule palestinien est arrivé au point de passage de Bekaot, le terroriste à son bord a tiré sur les soldats" qui "ont répliqué", selon un communiqué militaire. L'état de santé du tireur ne pouvait être précisé dans l'immédiat. [...]"
- Palestinian shot dead after opening fire on soldiers at Jordan Valley (Ynet) - "A Palestinian was shot dead by IDF fire on Friday at the Bik'ot checkpoint, near Route 90 and about 30 kilometers south of Beit She'an. No soldiers were wounded and the site was declared a closed military area".
"Processus de paix"
- Les Palestiniens à l'offensive contre Israël devant la CPI, Cyrille Louis (Le Figaro) - "Ils ont versé à leur dossier le rapport de l'ONG israélienne Breaking the silence".
"Une délégation palestinienne conduite par le ministre des Affaires étrangères, Riyad al-Maliki, doit être reçue jeudi après-midi à la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) de La Haye. Un dossier de plusieurs centaines de pages y sera remis au bureau du procureur Fatou Bensouda afin de nourrir l'examen préliminaire ouvert, le 16 janvier dernier, sur les crimes présumés commis depuis un an dans les territoires palestiniens. «Cette démarche marque la fin de l'impunité dont Israël jouit, depuis 1948, au regard du droit international, estime le député indépendant Moustafa el-Barghouti, qui siège au sein du comité mis en place pour suivre les travaux de la Cour. Les responsables militaires, politiques et économiques de ce pays vont maintenant devoir rendre des comptes.» [...]
Les Palestiniens entendent également attirer l'attention de la Cour sur le déroulement de la dernière opération militaire à Gaza, qui a fait plus de 2200 morts durant l'été 2014. Ils ont versé à leur dossier le rapport de l'ONG israélienne Breaking the silence («Rompre le silence»), dans lequel d'anciens soldats dénoncent un usage indiscriminé et disproportionné de la force durant ce conflit. Le rapport publié cette semaine par la commission d'enquête indépendante de l'ONU sera également transmis au procureur Bensouda. [...]
Les autorités israéliennes, invitées par la Cour à communiquer les informations qui leur semblent pertinentes, n'ont pas encore fait connaître leur réponse. Elles s'interrogent sur la meilleure stratégie à adopter pour contrer l'initiative palestinienne, qu'elles assimilent à une déclaration de guerre. N'étant pas membre de la CPI, l'État hébreu ne dispose d'aucun levier direct pour défendre son point de vue au sein de cette juridiction. Il n'a pas encore indiqué s'il délivrerait un visa à l'équipe que la Cour envisage d'envoyer, d'ici à la fin juillet, dans les territoires palestiniens."
- PA presents claims of Israeli crimes to ICC (Ynet) - "Foreign Minister Spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon responded to the step by the Palestinians saying, "This step is nothing more than provocation and manipulation of the court in the Hague. We hope that the attorney won't fall for this trap"."
- Washington opposé à une action palestinienne contre Israël devant la CPI (AFP) - "Les Etats-Unis ont «clairement indiqué être opposés à des actions contre Israël devant la CPI car elles sont contre-productives», a indiqué le porte-parole du Conseil de sécurité nationale Alistair Baskey".
- Support for a two-state solution dropping — poll (Times of Israel) - "Belief in a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict stood at 62 percent among Israelis and 54% among Palestinians in 2014. But today only 51% of both groups are in favor of creating two separate countries for Arabs and Jews".
- Palestinian sports teams named after terrorists (PMW) - "During the month of Ramadan, Palestinian youth will be playing a football tournament in the Palestinian town Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem. Some of the participants will be playing on teams named after terrorists who have killed numerous Israeli civilians. This is Palestinian role modeling for kids".
- If Nazi Germany is Any Guide, Palestinian Children of Today Will Always Hate Israel, Stephen M. Flatow (attorney in New Jersey) - "Palestinian children are especially likely to retain the anti-Jewish hatred they learn in school".
"A new study has found that many of the children who were educated in Nazi Germany retained, for the rest of their lives, the anti-Semitic attitudes they learned in school. What does that portend for Palestinian children, who are likewise inculcated with hatred of Jews?
After surveying some 5,300 German citizens, American and Swiss researchers found that those who were educated in Germany in the 1930s, under the Hitler regime, are much more likely than other Germans to still cling to anti-Semitic beliefs. “It’s not just that Nazi schooling worked, that if you subject people to a totalitarian regime during their formative years it will influence the way their mind works—the striking thing is that it doesn’t go away afterward,” said Hans-Joachim Voth of the University of Zurich, one of the authors of the study.
Prof. Voth also noted that anti-Semitism was particularly long-lasting if there was already some anti-Semitism in the neighborhoods where the children lived, which they measured by studying the number of votes received by anti-Semitic political parties in specific German towns going back to the 1890s. “The extent to which Nazi schooling worked depended crucially on whether the overall environment where children grew up was already a bit anti-Semitic,” Voth noted. “It tells you that indoctrination can work, it can last to a surprising extent, but the way it works has to be compatible to something people already believe.”
This does not bode well for Israel. It suggests that Palestinian children are especially likely to retain the anti-Jewish hatred they learn in school, since it conforms with attitudes that often are commonplace in their home towns—that is, attitudes based on those aspects of Arab nationalist ideology or fundamentalist Islam that encourage hostility toward Jews and Israel.
Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) introduced a resolution targeting the problem of “anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement within the Palestinian Authority (PA).” The 16 examples of incitement that the resolution cites—based on the exemplary research of Palestinian Media Watch—include many instances of Palestinian children being taught to hate.
The resolution notes that the Oslo accords require Israel and the PA to “ensure that their respective educational systems contribute to the peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples and to peace in the entire region.” Israel has honored that obligation. The PA, however, has done the opposite. The Ros-Lehtinen resolution cites examples such as a PA magazine for children presenting Adolf Hitler as a role model; a teacher leading Palestinian children in chants of “Palestine is an Arab land from the river to the sea. We want Haifa, we want Acre”; and schoolgirls shown on PA television receiving a poem that calls Jews “barbaric monkeys,” “wretched pigs,” “filth,” and “impure.”
The resolution concludes not only by condemning the incitement and urging the PA to change its ways, but also “directs the United States Department of State to regularly monitor and publish information on all official incitement by the Palestinian Authority against Jews and the State of Israel.” That’s crucial. It will help keep the PA’s feet to the fire. The Ros-Lehtinen bill is called House Resolution 293, and it is now in the hands of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. [...]"
- Study by German commission: Schoolbooks biased against Israel (JP) - "The study noted that “tendentious and one-sided photographic presentations” of Israeli soldiers inflicting violence on weak-appearing Palestinians lead to student bias". La situation, vraisemblablement, est encore pire en France.
"German schoolbooks present a one-sided view of Israel as an aggressive, warlike country while ignoring that the Jewish state is the only functioning democracy in the Middle East, according to a new study by a joint Israeli-German commission reported on Monday by the daily Tagesspiegel paper. “Pupils connect Israel with a warmongering society,” said Simone Lässig, director of the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research.
The institute sponsored the work of the commission, made up of German and Israeli academics and pedagogical experts. The Tagesspiegel reported the results of the analysis from 1,200 history, geography and social studies textbooks covering five German states – Bavaria, Berlin, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony. The study examined 94 articles relating to the depiction of Israel and 25 chapters from history books addressing the Holocaust. The commission also analyzed 44 Israeli schoolbooks.
The commission said Europe’s influence in the region should be part of the curriculum, as well as the role of the Arab League. “One can hardly find anything about the socialist kibbutz experiment” in German schoolbooks, noted the authors of the report.
According to the report’s authors, the equal claim to territory in the region by Palestinians and Israelis needs to be stressed. Textbooks should avoid “a clear partisan view for one of the parties in the conflict.” The study noted that “tendentious and one-sided photographic presentations” of Israeli soldiers inflicting violence on weak-appearing Palestinians lead to student bias. The Tagesspiegel showed in its online report a photograph of the June LGBT parade in Tel Aviv as an example of what German pupils should be learning about Israel as a diverse, liberal nation. [...]"
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