Tuesday, September 02, 2014

02-Sep-14: Wondering how living with terror-minded neighbors works? Some tips here

PA insider Jibril Rajoub, being statesmanlike in 2011 [Image Source]
It's Tuesday morning in Jerusalem, and the sun is shining brightly. Here's what happened here last night.
  • A three-year-old toddler was lightly wounded on Monday night by Arab terrorists that hurled rocks through the window of the bus she was riding in, as it passed through Uzi Narkis Street in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat. Magen David Adom [ambulance] paramedics rushed to the scene to provide the baby girl with medical treatment, transferring her afterwards to the Hadassah Mount Scopus Medical Center. The toddler was injured while traveling on the Egged 143 bus line from Tel Tzion, located north of Jerusalem in the Binyamin area of Samaria, to the Israeli capital. Police forces were dispatched to scour the area for the attackers. [Israel National News]
  • Around the same time, also last night, a Molotov cocktail [a fire bomb] was hurled at a bus traveling along Route 505 between Tapuach and Sha'ar Shomron. The bus driver suffered injuries from windscreen glass shards. Yarkon-area Magen David Adom (MDA) ambulance teams treated him at the scene, while IDF troops combed the area for suspects. [Ynet]
It's been a less than pleasant time for some Israelis who come into contact with hostile Arab neighbors. Just in the past week:
  • This past Saturday night, another fire bomb [euphemism: Molotov Cocktail] at Beit Meyuhas, a Jewish residential building of historical significance (some little-publicized background here; the residence has been owned by Jews since the 1870s) in Jerusalem's Ir David ("City of David") area, immediately south of Jerusalem's Old City. A 45-year-old Jewish man was injured in that attack, suffering first and second-degree burns to the head. [Israel National News]
  • Also this past Saturday night, an Israeli vehicle in which a young family was traveling in the area north of Hevron was struck by rocks (one of them "the size of a melon") which shattered the windshield, hitting the driver, Yedaya Sharchaton, 25. The car flipped over causing the driver to suffer critical injuries. His wife Hadassah and one-year-old baby daughter Nitzan emerged relatively unharmed [Israel National News].
  • On Thursday, a two-year-old was injured when the vehicle in which she and her family were traveling was also hit by rocks near Yitzhar Junction in the West Bank. An IDF source said dozens of Palestinian Arabs had been throwing stones and other objects at Israeli vehicles traveling through the area. [Ynet]
  • Last Wednesday, a baby of 11-months-old was injured in an Arab rock attack on private vehicle in which she was traveling. The attack at Yitzhar Junction in the Samaria District was serious but could easily have been far worse: ambulance crew members said the rock that struck and injured her was the size of a man's fist, and could have caused far more extensive injuries [Israel National News]. 
  • Also last Wednesday, a woman suffered minor wounds after unknown assailants hurled rocks at a minibus traveling in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz. MDA ambulance paramedics provided initial treatment at the scene, and she was evacuated later to the city's Shaare Zedek Medical Center [Ynet]
It's difficult not to connect these attacks with the ongoing incitement by Arab leaders of their populations in the communities of the West Bank.

A clear illustration of the violent and dangerous role played by such men is Jibril Rajoub about whom we have written in the past. [See "3-Dec-12: Deadly dangerous games and those who play them" and "8-May-13: "I am your partner. I am going to kill you now" as two among many instances.] He heads the PA's Sports Authority as well as holding the political position of Deputy Secretary of Fatah's Central Committee. 

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) caught a speech of Rajoub's, naturally in Arabic so that most journalists reporting from the field would have missed it, and published a translation. It was done on the Awdah independent Palestinian TV channel just three weeks ago on August 13, 2014. The good people at PMW also uploaded the entire video for the skeptics: it's here

Some highlights now of what the Palestinian Arab public - but not Western consumers of the news media - hear and see:
  • “I’m telling everyone: Fatah has ‎decided that our relations with the Israelis are relations between enemies. There is no kind of ‎coordination between the Israelis and us."
  • "Everyone can be certain that any form of mutual ‎coordination ended a day after they declared war on the National Unity Government..."
  • "OK, brother, ‎here is the occupation, am I stopping you from slaughtering a settlement? No one is stopping anyone. ‎Don’t lie and tell me: ‘The [PA] Security Forces and Mahmoud Abbas,’ and so on [stop you]. Drop it, ‎OK? No one is stopping anyone." 
  • "Our political decision is resistance in the occupied territories in order ‎to bring an end to the occupation [using] all forms of resistance.”‎
Those are all direct quotes made by "political and military leader who is seeking a more peaceful coexistence for Israelis and Palestinians", "peace partner" and very senior sportsman Jibril Rajoub. Now a reminder of the content of an interview given by the great man to Lebanon's Al-Mayadeen television channel on April 30, 2013. His message of partnership and of peace included this gem:
Resistance to Israel remains on our agenda... I mean resistance in all of its forms. At this stage, we believe that popular resistance - with all that it entails - is effective and costly to the [Israeli] side..." [Al-Mayadeen]
PMW translated and published that too [here]. 

So now let's try to be clear about how his words, as a true PA insider, are understood by the simple folk out there in the villages. In advocating “resistance in all of its forms”, Rajoub means violence against Israel. Israel is the main enemy” of Arabs and Muslims. So why negotiate? He has an answer. It's because, says Rajoub, the Palestinians still lack military strength - and he doesn't mean military in the ordinary sense of the word, no sirree:
"We as yet don't have a nuke, but I swear that if we had a nuke, we'd have used it this very morning."
In a previous post, we asked (rhetorically) what the salaried employees of the very well-funded Geneva Initiative (mostly by the governments of France, Belgium and Switzerland), who served up Rajoub as living proof that there actually is a partner for peace with beleagured Israel, saying now? Is "oops - sorry" even in their lexicon? Or is there a more subtle, peace-friendly way to interpret "If we had a nuke, we'd have used it this very morning"? The Israelis we mentioned at the top of this post probably have their opinions.

Monday, September 01, 2014

01-Sep-14: European savagery comes back home and Europeans are having problems deciding what to do about it

The black flags of ISIS and other expressions of explicit backing
for jihadism, last month in the streets of The Hague,
Netherlands [Image Source]
France has a Moslem population of about 5,000,000 - the largest of any Western European country. Most of those people are demonstrably peace-loving and law abiding. That happens to be true, empirically speaking, of most people in most places at most times. Our focus for the moment is on those who are not.

Last week, the authorities in France announced they had cracked a plot to use immature human bombs to blow up a synagogue in Lyon:
The Central Directorate of Homeland Intelligence revealed that two Muslim girls, aged 15 and 17, were arrested in the Tarbes and Venissieux neighbourhoods a week ago, after authorities uncovered a plan to carry out a suicide bombing inside the Great Synagogue of Lyon. They were indicted on August 22nd for conspiracy to commit terrorism... “These girls were part of a network of young Islamists who were being monitored by security services,” said the unnamed security source. [Newsweek]
Those girls are said to be aged 15 and 17, putting beyond doubt the notion that others - probably many others - are involved in the plot. The girls have been detained and interrogated, and charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism.

Now for some perspective:
  • "They’re neither the first adolescents nor the first females arrested in France" on charges of this kind. They "are among some 60 people being investigated in France for criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise" against a background in which "citizens suspected of seeking careers as foreign fighters, even if they have yet to leave French soil" are being pursued by the law. How large a set is that?: "Thousands of European citizens have made the trip to Syrian battlegrounds...  French authorities say there are some 900 people from France who have been implicated in jihad — meaning they have taken part in one, plan to join one, or are returning from one. Several dozen have been killed." ["French teenagers planned suicide bombing at Lyon synagogue", Times of Israel, August 29, 2014]
  • In France, the Jewish leadership has eyes and a mouth. They experienced violent mob attacks on two Paris synagogues in July [Telegraph UK]...
  • And an especially cold-blooded series of murders in March 2012 in Toulouse in which a loathsome, self-styled Islamist gunman killed seven people, including a visibly Jewish teacher and three French-Jewish children aged 3, 6 and 8, at the gates of a Jewish school, Otzar Hatorah [The Guardian]
  • The National Bureau of Vigilance Against Antisemitism (BNVCA), one of France’s leading anti-semitism watchdogs, says synagogues have become increasingly popular targets for Islamists and terrorists... “Jewish citizens are increasingly pessimistic about their future in France,” the statement added." “Jews in France or Belgium are being killed because they are Jews,” Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), told Newsweek. “Jihadism has become the new Nazism... [Newsweek]
  • AP says unspecified "fighters" who have traveled from Britain and Europe to take part in fighting in the Middle East are central to the freshly elevated concern of a terror attack on UK soil. The horrific murder - by beheading - of the American journalist James Foley is believed to have been executed by a British jihadist. The Guardian calls him "intelligent, educated and a devout believer in radical Islamic teachings", and part of a small cluster of British terrorists, evidently all believers in Islamic teachings, who are called "The Beatles" by their hostages.[See "29-Aug-14: The British now call risk of a terror attack on the UK 'severe'"]
  • Mick Davis of the UK's Jewish Leadership Council has just circulated an open letter that starts with this: "For the first time in the 350 years, Jews are beginning to question whether they are valued as citizens and can securely think of Britain as their natural home... It is not acceptable to constantly single out Israel for unrestrained and uncritical condemnation without any acknowledgement of the disproportionate role that Israel has played amongst the Community of Nations in building a more prosperous and fairer world... It is not acceptable that incidents of anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom have increased fivefold since the start of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, according to the Community Security Trust (CST). From abuse on the streets and gratuitous threats of violence, to defilement of graves and places of prayer, it is a shameful exhibition of intolerance and hatred. For too long, Jews have had to have special measures to protect their places of  worship, learning, and celebration. It is tragic commentary on our society that we see no end in sight of this state of affairs."
That murdering Toulouse terrorist was depicted as a lone wolf with a record as a petty criminal, a minor figure unconnected to jihadist organizations and motivated by some unknowable complex of resentments and boredom. Was that true? Did he in fact act alone? For most parts of the mainstream news reporting industry, the answer was yesIn a blog post ["10-Feb-13: Suicides, haters and lone wolves"], we wrote:
Most media channels, up to and including those reporting on this week's Spanish/Moroccan jihadist, persist in referring to the lone-wolf profile of Mohamed Merah for purposes of comparison. But Merah made 1,800 phone calls to his 180 contacts. And his brother was arrested almost immediately. And now two additional men. So in what way was he a lone wolf? Could it be that it's less threatening, less discomforting, to their audiences if they are left to believe the man planned to do the killings on his own, devoid of an ideological/religious background? How unsettling is it for alert news consumers to try to make sense of the seemingly-endless ranks of young European men professing various expressions of the one religion as the justification for their acts of extreme prejudice, hateful murder and self-destruction?
It's now more or less acknowledged, even in places as ideologically resistant to such notions as the BBC ["Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah 'no lone wolf'", August 23, 2012], that he was part of something larger and more malevolent, as police intelligence assessments eventually showed. (But note how long after the initial contrary reports this re-assessment appeared.) But it's still hard for the mainstream media, even in Europe, to face up to the idea of Islam-minded terrorists as part of something corporate and social. We put it this way:
How unsettling is it for alert news consumers to try to make sense of the seemingly-endless ranks of young European men professing various expressions of the one religion as the justification for their acts of extreme prejudice, hateful murder and self-destruction? ["10-Feb-13: Suicides, haters and lone wolves"] 
Or more bluntly:
There's little doubt that thinking about home-grown made-in-Europe Islamist terrorists is easier to do when you categorize them as one-man bands. You can't blame the French for wanting this to be true. The problem is with how reality keeps messing with comfortable theories. ["19-May-13: In France, they prefer their terrorists to be of the 'lone wolf' kind, irrespective of the facts"]
The horrifying - and ever escalating - bloodbaths of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of today's post-Arab-Spring Arab world have forced some changes to those previous attitudes. The problem for Europe is that it is clearer now than before that a considerable part of the savagery being executed in those places is European savagery.

But not for all Europeans:
The arrest and detention of the two teenage girls drew criticism from human rights groups, with France’s Human Rights League (LDH) condemning the authorities’ response as “disproportionate”. These “two arrests of minors and their detention for 48 hours” has “completely violated and reduced to nothing” the International Convention of the Rights of the Child, said the group’s Rhone chapter. [France24, August 23, 2014]
For the sake of innocent French people, let's hope they quickly arrive at a view of human rights that adjusts to today's very uncomfortable realities. It's not, after all, a minor problem, and to the extent anyone can tell, it appears to be gaining momentum:
Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, neighboring Turkey has been a shelter for, but also an important transit country for, young Islamists on their way to fight “Holy War”. It is estimated that between 2,000 and 5,500 European jihadists are fighting in Syria... Turkey has been criticized for not doing enough to prevent them from traveling to Syria. ["European jihadists use Turkey as transit country", Deutsche Welle, May 14, 2014].
And that's just in Syria.

01-Sep-14: Gaza, Israel, the BBC: What children - and their parents - ought to know

BBC Newsround, a site for children: "This content doesn't seem to
be working"; we agree [Image Source]
Over at BBC Watch, they do truly excellent work in monitoring the often-astounding political spin of the BBC, "the largest broadcaster in the world" and its close-to-incredible 23,000 employees.

Now clearly, with a payroll on that scale, the BBC cannot really be thought of as a mere entertainment business. In fact, it has long been an instrumentality of the British Foreign Office which funded its international arm, the BBC World Service for decades until just four months ago [source]. Keep that connection in mind as you review the following.

One of the BBC's products is "CBBC", sometimes called the BBC's portal for children. With a mission that includes explaining sometimes complex news events in terms that children might find easier to digest, CBBC describes itself as the place to go for "funny clips, out-takes, exclusive star interviews, pop music, backstage previews"... and, it appears, potted explanations of the Middle East conflict's complexities.

CBBC's audience of children gets its own, child-focused news service called Newsround which exposes them to some rather troublesome child-sized newsbites like these:
  • The Israelis who have been living in proximity to the Gaza Strip for years have been under missile attack for a lot of that time. But it's cool; they have gotten used to it: "Though the Palestinians don’t have an army, rockets are regularly fired from Gaza into Israel. Israelis living in border towns are used to having to take shelter and adapting their lives to deal with the rockets." [Source: "Guide: Why are Israel and the Palestinians fighting over Gaza?", Updated to August 27, 2014]
  • "Israelis and Arabs have been fighting over Gaza on and off, for decades. It's part of the wider Arab Israeli conflict. After World War II and the Holocaust in which six million Jewish people were killed, more Jewish people wanted their own country." [Same source] A simple logic really: bad things done to Jews, so Jews say give me a country, and voila - they demand and are then "given a large part of Palestine". Not so surprisingly, this doesn't go down well with the Arabs who feel that this "was unfair and didn't accept the new country". No history of ancient yearning for a restored Jewish homeland in that specific part of the world which Jews down through the generations have always called Eretz Yisrael. No mention of the British policy of divide-and-conquer during the three decades of British occupation and Mandate. No reference at all to a 1947 decision of the United Nations to divide the land between the Jews and the Arabs. 
  • Fast forward, and we come to 1967 when "after another war, Israel occupied these Palestinian areas and Israeli troops stayed there for years."  [Again, the same source]. Had the Egyptians demanded the removal of the UN peace-keeping forces on Israel's Sinai border, and instantly gotten their way just a few weeks before that other war? Did the full set of Arab countries both bordering Israel and those further away huff, puff and warn that they were now going to destroy Israel and its Jews once and for all? Had the entire Jewish population of all the surrounding Arab countries been forcibly expelled and threatened with death in the intervening years? And had Israel happily and efficiently absorbed them, found them homes and productive jobs, and kick-started an economy (Israel's) that was based on close-to-zero natural resources? Had the military forces of an Arab monarchy, called Jordan, illegally occupied a large swathe of what was supposed to be the Palestinian Arab state in the war of 1947-49 and dug in there with close-to-zero objection from the local Arabs and from the other Arab states until the Israelis finally pushed back in that 1967 war - after the Jordanian military attacked - and forcibly returned them to the Jordanian side of the Jordan River? These and many other questions can only be answered with "no" if the CBBC account is to be our guide. It mentions none of them as if they never happened and had no relevance.
As partial and ideologically-spun as this narrative and an accompanying video are, the page itself tells us it has already undergone some review and
been amended since original publication to provide a fuller account of the history of the conflict in the region.
That's evidently a reference to a complaint filed with the relevant authority, the adjudication of which is documented here. The authority's decision resulted in some textual correction along with this advice:
Further action: The programme team edited the online video and will be mindful of the need for absolute clarity in any future attempts to condense such a complex story for the Newsround website.
We'll stick our necks out here: if the Newsround page on the Gaza war now reflects the programme team and its work-product being possessed of "absolute clarity", then the things that have been been made clear are neither history nor politics but rather the mindset of the people who assemble the site and its content. And what's been made clear is how disturbing that mindset is.

At BBC Watch, where they stick close to issues like these, they offer the view - which we find compelling - that the distortions (our choice of words, not theirs) perpetrated by the army of editors and staff people at the BBC go quite some way to explaining why
many educated people in Western countries exhibit a disturbing lack of factual knowledge with regard to Israel. With CBBC apparently reaching 34% of six to twelve year-olds weekly in the UK and its website having a million unique browsers a month, items such as this inaccurate and misleading ‘Newsround’ guide are clearly aiding to perpetuate that situation whilst failing young audience members and their licence fee-paying parents by neglecting the BBC’s obligation to promote “understanding of international issues”. [BBC Watch]
About this specific "Guide" ("Why are Israel and the Palestinians fighting over Gaza?"), the BBC Watch analysis points to "many problematic statements – not least in its title."
Neither the most recent conflict of July/August 2014 nor the one before it in November 2012 was rooted in a dispute “over Gaza”. The idiom ‘to fight over’ means “to fight a battle that decides who gets […] something”. Israel does not – as that title incorrectly suggests – want Gaza. Both those conflicts, like the one before them, began because of escalated attacks on Israel’s civilian population.  Neither was either conflict fought against “the Palestinians” but against Hamas and other terrorist organisations based in and acting from the Gaza Strip which perpetrate the attacks on Israeli communities. [BBC Watch]
It's a key point and we think they make it well. The confusion inevitably sown in the minds of young visitors to the Newsround site about this core idea seems to us to be either the result of remarkably poor expression or deliberate.

A quotation - which evolved into a strategy - ascribed to one of the branches of Christianity says "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man".

Say what you will about the world's largest broadcaster: they play their game with the long term in mind. With their history of "inaccurate presentation of Israel-related issues to young children", the BBC's Newsround team seem to go far beyond the “simplification appropriate for an item intended for children” in publishing inaccurate and substantively misleading information to an audience likely to carry a distorted understanding with them as they grow to maturity. 

Like many other instances of lethal journalism, it's a matter of the gravest concern.

Friday, August 29, 2014

29-Aug-14: The British now call risk of a terror attack on the UK 'severe'

In the British media, British terrorism is now
a front-page concern
The spectre of terrorism is with us and not only not about to go away but doing fairly well on its own terms. (Whenever we speak publicly about how the "war on terror" is going, we make the point that whatever is happening, it's certainly going to get worse before it gets better. Nothing in the past dozen years has caused us to change that view.)

In a further reminder of the robustness of Islamist terrorism and its protagonists, Theresa May, the UK's Home Secretary, has today announced that her country’s assessment of its terror threat risk level is being raised from "substantial" to “severe”. The change conveys the message that an attack is now considered “highly likely.” Associated Press says that puts it at the second highest level (out of five possible categories) on the scale, the highest it has been since July 2011. The highest level on the scale is defined as "imminent".

The upward threat revision was decided by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Center on the basis of intelligence; it is not a government decision. The minister says it stems from the perception that developments in Syria and Iraq make more likely than ever the threat of terrorist groups attacking Western targets.
"We face a real and serious threat in the UK from international terrorism... I would urge the public to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to the police."
AP says unspecified "fighters" who have traveled from Britain and Europe to take part in fighting in the Middle East are central to the elevated concern. The horrific murder - by beheading - of the American journalist James Foley is believed [source] to have been executed by a British jihadist. The Guardian calls him "intelligent, educated and a devout believer in radical Islamic teachings", and part of a small cluster of British terrorists, evidently all believers in Islamic teachings, who are called "The Beatles" by their hostages.

Monday, August 25, 2014

25-Aug-14: In Gaza, the idea of Israelis tending to sick and injured Gazans makes them crazy

Erez during a previous Hamas assault in 2007
First, the good news.

The Erez Crossing, a passenger and cargo terminal built by the government of Israel to serve the needs of the hapless Palestinian subjects of the dark Hamas regime, is still functioning. People, including those seriously injured or ill and in desperate need of the medical and other care that Israel's modern facilities can provide, are able to pass through it and get to where they want to be in Israel, even in these very difficult days of war.

The less-good news is that Erez came under rocket barrage yesterday (Sunday). Despite this, the cross-over remained open for emergency medical cases thanks to the dedication of the Israelis who operate it.
Some 50 people were scheduled to use the Erez crossing Sunday, but Kamil Abu Rokan, the Director of the Crossings Point Authority of the Defense Ministry, and General Yoav Mordehai, the Coordinator of the Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), closed the crossing to all traffic except for life-saving cases after the barrage... Two Gaza females were evacuated “20 minutes ago” (Sunday) via the crossing for life-saving surgery in Israel... Other taxi-drivers were on hand, “as always,” to transport emergency patients. [Times of Israel]
Barrage?
Four Israelis were injured Sunday, two of them seriously, when a large rocket and mortar barrage hit the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip... “The [drivers] sat in a shed and waited for the passengers and their relatives who were leaving Gaza for Israeli hospitals Ichilov and Tel Hashomer. Then seven shells fell — just one after the other. We didn’t have time to flee; it was a matter of a second...” The victims were Israeli-Arab taxi drivers, who were at the crossing to pick up wounded Gazans and bring them into Israel for medical treatment. The wounded were evacuated to Ashkelon’s Barzilai hospital. An outraged Israeli-Arab Erez crossing official, who spoke to Army Radio from a secured area at the crossing during a subsequent rocket attack, lambasted Hamas for not caring about the well-being of the Palestinians in Gaza. “This is an organization that cares about the [Palestinian] people? They’re shooting at the Palestinian terminal...” [Times of Israel]
The IDF says "some eleven mortar and rocket rounds landed near the crossing" and several people - there are conflicting media reports as to whether three or five - are injured.

Just one more small, under-reported and soon-to-be-forgotten story from the war waged by the Islamist terrorists against their own.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

23-Aug-14: Firing from right next to an UNRWA facility in Gaza, the terrorists achieve a strategic hit

Daniel, 4
Far from the scene, the indiscriminate fire of the Hamas terror forces into Israel and at anything Israeli has an almost-boring sameness about it. Thousands of firings (more than 3,500 in the past 46 days), place names that are vague and usually unrecognizable to non-Israelis, and outcomes that are usually stated as "no injuries, no damage, but that is not what the terrorists intended'.

Here is what the terrorists of Hamas did intend: the violent death of a four year-old Israeli child in his home on a kibbutz in southern Israel. Not occupied, not territories, not an act of liberation. Just a killing, a dead "Zionist", and - finally - a little child.
A four-year-old Israeli boy was killed by a mortar shell fired from the Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon. The boy, Daniel Tragerman, was at home with his parents and siblings at Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the Sha’ar Hanegev Region, close to the border with Gaza, when the attack took place. An Israeli security source said the fatal shell was fired from near an UNRWA shelter in Gaza... Sirens wailed only very shortly before the mortar shell struck outside the Tragerman family home at the kibbutz, and his parents — Doron and Gila — were unable to get their son Daniel into their protected room in time. He was killed by shrapnel from the explosion that smashed into the house. Daniel is the first Israeli child to die in the current Israel-Hamas conflict. His death brought the Israeli death toll since Operation Protective Edge began on July 8 to 68. He was critically wounded, and later died of his wounds... The family had only recently returned to their home, having stayed elsewhere during part of the war... [The child] was the first Israeli fatality since Hamas breached a truce on Tuesday and resumed rocket fire at Israel, prompting a re-escalation of fighting and the collapse of ceasefire talks in Cairo. [Times of Israel]
And please: no sanctimonious claims of "he was unfortunately caught in the crossfire". Like innocent victims of all terrorist attacks, 4 year-old Daniel was the target. His being a Jewish child simply completes the Hamas wish-list (see "15-Aug-14: Terror and children").

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

20-Aug-14: A shooting, rocketing war... yet again

The lack of faster and more frequent updates here is, unfortunately, not because of a lack of events but because we're traveling. We hope to update with commentary when we can.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

17-Aug-14: About that Hamas-friendly media coverage: its spokeswoman reveals all but it helps to know Arabic

Al-Modallal [Image Source: Der Spiegel]
We're not the first to report this. Still it's quite remarkable how very little attention the brand-name news-reporting businesses around the globe are letting their consumers know how manipulated the news coming out of Gaza is, and especially about the way Hamas holds Gaza's population hostage to its human-shield strategy.

Isra Al-Modallal is a 24 year-old woman whose job today, literally, is to help Hamas change its public image. Her roots give her a boost. Born like so many self-styled Palestinian Arabs (Arafat among them) in Egypt, she attended high school in Bradford, England, the city of half a million people whose parliamentary representative Galloway, in a video-recorded rant ten days ago, embarrassingly declared it "an Israel-free zone". Living for some years in the UK, she says, was useful in helping her "to understand Western culture", for which we now have the evidence.

Al-Modallal trained in journalism at the Islamic University of Gaza ("closely associated with Hamas"), and was named in November 2013 to be head of foreign relations in Hamas' Information Ministry, evidently a newly-invented job. In an interview with a friendly media outlet, she described her mission as being to:
"address Western and Israeli media" [and to] "work to change media discourse, painting a different picture of Palestine and Gaza... The Western media has begun to realize that the Israeli media falsifies the facts, and so we have to make a great effort to debunk Israeli falsehoods." [source]
On Thursday, industriously remaking Hamas' profile via some of that "media discourse", Ms Al-Modallal granted an interview via Skype to Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV. This was of course done in Arabic with the result that no working journalist (as far as we can tell) analyzed its content for the light it might shed on one of the world's most active terrorist organizations. Experience says the majority of those reporters who know enough Arabic are ideologically uninterested in revealing the things she said. The majority, knowing zero Arabic, are unable.

On Friday, the Middle East Media Research Institute - doing the invaluable work for which it has become famous - published an Arabic to English transcript, along with the video clip itself. Here, verbatim, are extracts of what the Hamas woman said:
  • "Fewer journalists entered the Gaza Strip during this war than in the previous rounds, in 2008 and 2012. Therefore, the coverage by foreign journalists in the Gaza Strip was insignificant compared to their coverage within the Israeli occupation [i.e., Israel]. Moreover, the journalists who entered Gaza were fixated on the notion of peace and on the Israeli narrative."
  • The foreign press was focused "on filming the places from where missiles were launched. Thus, they were collaborating with the occupation.... 
  • "Some of the journalists who entered the Gaza Strip were under security surveillance. Even under these difficult circumstances, we managed to reach them, and tell them that what they were doing was anything but professional journalism and that it was immoral."
  • "The security agencies would go and have a chat with these people. They would give them some time to change their message, one way or another.
  • "These journalists were deported from the Gaza Strip." 
She has no problem justifying the Hamas approach in this Facebook post. Her Twitter account, incidentally, mysteriously fails to mention the intimate closeness with Hamas that has provided her with a megaphone and influence. The full text of her Twitter profile: "Independent journalist and a Palestinian activist. Be Free Be Human".

And the chances that the head of the Jerusalem bureau of the New York Times who last week called claims by the Foreign Press Association of Hamas intimidation "nonsense", is going to issue an abject apology and set matters straight? 

17-Aug-14: Hamas sources that disclose what Hamas is hiding: available for whoever wants to find them

Illustrative image from Shijaiyah, Gaza City, of the kind that has
blanketed the global media coverage of the Hamas war
waged from Gaza: massive destruction of buildings,
and nothing but civilians in sight. Combatants dead or alive? Look
elsewhere [Image Source: APA]
It's possible the carnage and destruction that Gaza has endured under Hamas is over for now.

Or not: tonight's reports indicate the Hamas leadership - most of them based away from Gaza in luxurious accommodations - are ready, willing and very publicly anxious for more. See "Hamas rejects Egypt ceasefire terms, vows ‘continued struggle’" [Times of Israel, August 16, 2014], as a vivid illustration.

Against that background, we're still waiting for mainstream reporters and their editors at major news-industry channels to finally be upfront and open (i.e. to do what their professional code of ethics requires them to do) about what is known of the Hamas battlefield strategy, in particular as it pertains to (a) Gaza civilian casualties versus combatant casualties and (b) the appetite of the jihadists for more and more and more.

If they lack for source materials, we would like to direct their attention (as one small example among many) to Al-Monitor whose website tonight carries a revealing article translated to excellent English from the original Arabic. It's entitled "Is Hamas' tunnel network still intact?", and broadly speaking the answer is yes. The author is a Gaza based academic, the head of one of the faculties as well as something called the "Press and Information Section" at Gaza's Al Ummah University. Some direct quotes:
  • [Hamas] field commander Abu Jihad told Al-Monitor, “Israel’s allegations that it destroyed the tunnel network are inaccurate and aimed at local consumption to reassure Israelis that the war was progressing well. To determine the truth, all they have to do is embark on a wide-scale ground offensive in Gaza, for we have prepared a wide array of tunnels 5-25 meters [16-82 feet] deep, which allow our fighters to move about the battleground undetected. 
  • It is true that Israel destroyed a number of those tunnels, but the strategic ones are undamaged and have retained their full logistical capacity, in as far as available water supply, food, weapons, ventilation systems and electricity.”
  • ...Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, demonstrated resilience against the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip in the latest war, and their officials say they still have the military capabilities to continue the fight. 
  • It is interesting to note that, in this war, unlike the previous wars in 2008 and 2012, the al-Qassam Brigades [i.e. Hamas] did not divulge the names and numbers of its dead, nor did they allude to them in any way, except through unofficial activist posts and pictures on Facebook. It is well known, however, that they number in the dozens, with medical sources in Gaza confirming to Al-Monitor that corpses in uniform were brought to hospitals.
  • ...Rescue workers were still removing the bodies of fighters and those who died when Israel targeted their homes in various areas of Gaza, without any mention of the approximate number of martyrs. Some fighters who went on patrol have yet to return home, because it was only logical that dozens would fall in this confrontation where Israel targeted homes.
So - a Hamas source that says Hamas is hiding its combatants, hiding its casualties, hiding the strategic tunnels (some of which are known to be underneath Al-Shifa Hospital) and ready to keep fighting irrespective of the price paid in human lives and desperation of the powerless Gazan population whose lives are controlled by the Islamists of Hamas.

Do the dots have to be joined before information of this kind [and this kind too: "Top 9 facts the media wouldn't tell you about Hamas"] appears in our major newspapers and evening news programs?

Why exactly is that?

UPDATE 12:40 am Sunday: See What Happened to the Press in Gaza?, Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary Magazine, today.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

16-Aug-14: Far from the headlines, fresh violence in a little reported war

Streetscape in the thriving Israeli community of Beitar Illit [Image Source]
Israel National News (and as far as we can tell no other news channel) is reporting tonight on an attack carried out in the southern suburbs of Jerusalem tonight (Saturday) by assailants who might easily - but for some luck, Divine Providence, bad aim - have murdered the people they attacked.
Arab terrorists threw a molotov cocktail [a firebomb] on Saturday night at an Israeli car near Bethlehem, adjacent to the Hussan Junction in the Gush Etzion area of Judea, leaving the driver of the car suffering from moderate wounds... A 40-year-old resident of Beitar Ilit driving the car was inflicted with first- and second-degree burns, as well as as a cut to his head, apparently from a stone that was also thrown in the attack. The wounded man, who suffers from burns, was treated by Magen David Adom (MDA) medical crews at the scene, before being evacuated to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem... The Hussan Junction has been a problematic area in recent weeks, with Arab terrorists commonly targeting Israeli cars and buses with stones and molotov cocktails.
Husan (population about 7,000) has been on the minds of Israelis living in the area for some time. Just two weeks ago, residents of the nearby Israeli community of Beitar Illit (population: 43,000 and growing fast) held a protest [source] demanding greater security on the road serving their town:
Residents said that it has gotten to the point that they are afraid to drive past the Arab villages in the area of the junction, because they have been attacked so many times. They demanded that the IDF set up a command center near the junction, ensuring a regular presence to protect drivers. Beitar Ilit officials said that they have, in recent weeks, called for emergency army assistance numerous times as Arabs in the area rioted and threw rocks at residents' vehicles...
  

A February 2014 article in the Jerusalem Post on "how the economy trumps conflict" focuses on how the "car garages, construction material and home supplies" businesses in Husan serve to attract the attention of nearby Israelis whose optimism and natural willingness to live in a normal relationship with those around them evidently causes them to overlook the depths of hatred, and the accompanying danger that motivate some of their Arab neighbours.

Tonight's events, coming on top of those we reported here last month [an intercepted Arab car bomb in the same vicinity - see "28-Jul-14: Darkening clouds this side of Gaza"] will likely cause many Israelis to review carefully their future interactions. Presumably that is exactly what the terrorists intend.

UPDATE 12:30 am: A little news coverage is now emerging: Times of Israel has a small paragraph. We will link to others if we find them.

Friday, August 15, 2014

15-Aug-14: Terror and children

Our Malki, June 2001
In accordance with the Hebrew calendar, tomorrow - the twentieth day of the month of Av - we remember our daughter Malki's life and its tragic and cruel end. On that date, thirteen years ago - August 9, 2001 - she was one of fifteen innocent people murdered in a Hamas human-bomb attack directed, after careful planning and research, at a pizza shop located at one of the capital of Israel's busiest intersections. Frimet Roth honours our daughter's memory with this op-ed published today by the Times of Israel.


When children are the target: Defeating the terrorists and remembering their victims
FRIMET ROTH | Times of Israel | August 15, 2014

In the wake of Operation Protective Edge, Israel is enduring an unprecedented deluge of condemnation. This is trying for the entire nation but is especially infuriating for families like mine.

The crux of the vitriol is the large number of Gazan casualties in this latest conflict who were children. The blame for this is planted squarely at the feet of the Israel Defense Forces for firing at an enemy that attacks from positions in close proximity to those children. 

Most Israelis are aware that our army was forced to do so in order to protect its own civilians. 

In contrast, scores of Jewish children were targeted and murdered in cold blood by that same enemy during the Second Intifada. Yet few remember them; their stories have been virtually erased from the Palestinian-Israeli narrative. But we have not forgotten and we never will because our precious fifteen year old, Malki, was one of them. 

In those pre-security-fence days between 2001 and 2003, when Israel was shockingly lax about enemy infiltration, Hamas was able to invade our borders practically unimpeded. It executed a series of bloody terror attacks against us without any missiles or tunnels. On a near-weekly basis, innocent Israeli men, women and children perished at their hands.

Neither the United Nations Human Rights Council nor its predecessor, the UN Commission on Human Rights, ordered an inquiry into those violations of our human rights. If challenged about that apathy, the UN would probably have pointed out that Hamas was a mere rag-tag terror group and as such lay outside their purview. But since 2007, Hamas has been Gaza's democratically elected government operating under the same principles which guided it previously.

My daughter's murderer, Ahlam Tamimi, is proof of that.

Prying apart baby carriages in the street amid the carnage outside Jerusalem's Sbarro pizza shop
shortly after the human-bomb attack by a Hamas jihad squad, August 9, 2001 [Image Source]
One of the most productive, lauded and evil operatives Hamas ever had, Tamimi was released along with 1,026 other terrorists in the Shalit Deal which Hamas wrung out ofIsrael in 2011.

Shortly afterwards, she was interviewed [link] by a Kuwaiti TV presenter, Mohammed Al-Awadi. She related to him her modus operandi in chilling detail quoted below: 
I entered a [terrorist] cell. A cell is constructed by having a leader, then there are different groups; each one is divided into itself... You do not know who the leader is... First, I scouted places to decide where to carry out Jihadi operations... I would wander into Jerusalem to find the best spots to carry out these missions... First, I would scout stores and major shopping malls… schools, restaurants… I would then present my findings to the leader of the cell... I would do a meticulous count on the numbers of people moving in these areas and study it mathematically. I would use my wrist watch and count how many were walking in an area within one hour. So I would make reports that if an operation is conducted in such and such area. Then I would estimate the numbers of casualties; in some cases my number would be 30 Israelis will die and other estimates it would be 50 Israelis that will die... So from this time to that time there would be 70 Israelis who entered this spot. So during lunch for example, from this time to that time, so many Zionists enter this area. The school for example, I would study the morning time when school children would enter.
It would be convenient to argue that Tamimi committed that massacre in a bygone era. One could be deluded into believing that Hamas has matured with time; that it has evolved into a sane pragmatic entity; that it has discarded the ethos embodied by Tamimi and her cohorts.

But Tamimi remains a key part of Hamas’ war against Israel. Throughout Operation Protective Edge, Tamimi played a major morale-boosting role for the Gazans. She hosted a series of hour-long "resistance" programs, broadcast throughout the Arabic speaking world via the influential and globally-accessible Al Quds satellite television channel. Over the past two years, Al Quds has carried Tamimi’s weekly program, "Naseem Al Ahrar" (“Breezes of the Free”) celebrating the Islamist terrorists imprisoned in Israel. Those Al Quds programs are regularly uploaded to YouTube, often in high-definition quality. Her message of incitement against Israel and Jews is plainly one that Hamas is eager to disseminate widely.

Tamimi appearing on Kuwaiti interview show, July 2012,
  boasts of her role in murdering Jewish children
Israel's critics in the West seem incapable of acknowledging the evil of the Hamas ethos and its goals. Of Tamimi, the Hamas Wonder Woman, they seem basically unaware. In fact, Tamimi, who notoriously smiled with pleasure when she learned that there were eight dead children among the victims of the Sbarro massacre, is not even on their radar.

My husband and I must live each day with the painful realization that Tamimi is spewing her venom unhindered, while our pure, sweet kind Malki is gone.

The following is Malki’s journal entry after the June 2001 terror attack on a Tel Aviv discotheque frequented by teenage Russian immigrants. She had spent that Saturday at a retreat (a Shabbaton) conducted by the youth movement to which she belonged. Her words convey the angst she and her friends suffered during those days of unabated terror attacks in Israel. 
"There was one question that I really didn't understand. I just couldn't manage to understand. How is it that if everything is predetermined and known beforehand in Heaven? How is it that we are able to "remove the evil decree" and change things? It took Meir [the counselor] three hours to explain this, ‘till 3 in the morning. In the end, I understood it so well that now I explain it to my friends... Everything is known beforehand [but] without the element of time, and it is known that when you pray, you cancel a terror attack… At the morning prayers, we were notified that there had been a terror attack at the Dolphinarium in Tel Aviv last night and that there were many killed. That was it. I fell apart. Rafi's [another counselor] group gathered in our room and everybody just cried. We were broken. When Rafi arrived he made kiddush and simply didn't know what to do. He truly didn't know what to tell us."
The threat to Israel's existence posed by Hamas will not be eradicated until the world recognizes the special role that the murder of children has always had, and continues to have, in the Hamas outlook on life. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

13-Aug-14: Britain once again a step ahead of its peace-making competitors

13-Aug-14: A lesson about war-time nonsense from the New York Times

Women, children: Gaza war images [Image Source]
Two days ago, we wrote here ["11-Aug-14: So did Hamas intimidate reporters or not? Seems to depend on whose Tweet stream you believe"] about an odd situation in which the organization that represents locally-based reporters here in Israel complained publicly and bitterly about Hamas intimidation (and worse) of their members in the Gaza Strip over the past month while the local New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief seemed to be saying via Twitter that the media people with whom she was speaking thought this was "nonsense".

Nonsense or sense, there's something disturbing going on. Today in Haaretz, Matthew Kalman ["Foreign press divided over Hamas harassment"] takes a closer look:
When Jodi Rudoren, Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, read Monday’s statement from the Foreign Press Association in Israel and the Palestinian territories, she couldn’t believe her eyes. The association, representing some 480 resident correspondents and hundreds more visiting Israel/Palestine each year, protested “in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month." The FPA said it knew of journalists who were “harassed, threatened or questioned over stories or information they have reported through their news media or by means of social media” and accused Hamas of “trying to put in place a ‘vetting’ procedure that would, in effect, allow for the blacklisting of specific journalists.”
Not content with disparaging the Foreign Press Association's protest, Jodi Rudoren now says (according to Haaretz) in an email exchange with the FPA that the statement it released is "dangerous". We are still seeking clarification about whose lives she claims are endangered by it.

Meanwhile Kalman quotes the previous FPA chairman, former Jerusalem bureau chief for Reuters, Crispian Balmer:
We would certainly never issue broad statements condemning the behavior of one side or the other if we did not feel that a good number of our members had been impacted.
Kalman notes as well that Isabel Kershner who is a colleague of Rudoren's in the Jerusalem bureau of the NY Times was
one of the FPA board members who approved the statement. How could two colleagues from the same newspaper observing the same sequence of events come to such different conclusions?
How indeed. But note that Rudoren in fact "wasn't actually there" in Gaza, in Kalman's words. Or in her own: "I was not in Gaza during the height of the hostilities..." Nonetheless, she has now publicly stuck her neck out with minimizing whatever treatment it was that Hamas dealt out to the reporters and photographers in Gaza. She says:
There have been a few anecdotes re Hamas people shooing photographers away from fighters' faces at the hospitals, asking people not to shoot this or that, and yes, names and phone numbers were taken down in a spiral notebook of who was here, but nothing that these veteran war correspondents consider unusual... I have not heard about harassment, intimidation, censorship or threats. 
Why would Rudoren say that when others certainly have heard of threats, harassment and worse? In Haaretz' words, the experience was
enough to convince the FPA that they were not isolated incidents. Unfortunately for Hamas, they included prominent FPA members. So many of them complained that when the board met in Jerusalem on Monday and looked at confirmed information about a series of troubling incidents there wasn’t a single dissenting voice – only a discussion about just how fierce the protest should be... Some reporters received death threats. Sometimes, cameras were smashed. Reporters were prevented from filming anti-Hamas demonstrations where more than 20 Palestinians were shot dead by Hamas gunmen. In perhaps the most serious incidents considered by the FPA, Hamas began firing mortars right next to the location of foreign reporters, in what may have been an effort to draw Israeli retaliatory fire
And note this key observation:
One European reporter told Haaretz how Hamas officials prevented photographs being taken of any wounded or dead fighters at Al-Shifa hospital, even though their presence there was common knowledge. Only images of wounded or dead civilians were permitted. The journalist said Hamas repeatedly issued warnings to local translators that blatantly interfered with reporting. Other correspondents had similar experiences.
How plainly true this is can be seen from the total absence of published news photos in the past month of alive, dead, injured or healthy Hamas rocket firers and gunmen. We Tweeted about this ten days ago:

Perhaps in some parallel universe in the future, there will be some seriously critical public review of how it can be that a vast and incredibly influential medium like the New York Times aligns itself with the interests of the child-murdering Hamas.

To illustrate: when challenged as to why not a single photo of Hamas combatants has appeared in most of the media, including the pages of the New York Times, since this latest Gaza war got underway, a high-ranking NYT official - Eileen Murphy, the Times’ vice president for corporate communications, unbelievably speaking with a straight face - said this to a reporter:
Our photo editor went through all of our pictures recently and out of many hundreds, she found 2 very distant poor quality images that were captioned Hamas fighters by our photographer on the ground. It is very difficult to identify Hamas because they don’t have uniforms or any visible insignia; our photographer hasn’t even seen anyone carrying a gun... We are limited by what our photographers have access to. [Times of Israel, August 1, 2014]
Meanwhile the criticism of Hamas intimidation of the news industry comes from voices like that of a Palestinian Arab, Samer Shalabi - a news photographer who is now chairman of the FPA. He said to Haaretz.
“If there is any kind of harassment or pressure we are willing to stand and support our members, whoever they are, whatever they are, whatever nationality they are.”
And a final thought about the danger to which Jodi Rudoren refers: could she have meant the danger that the news organization whose Jerusalem bureau she heads might potentially be excluded from future news-reporting opportunities in which Hamas or some other arm of Jihad International is engaged? For some, that would certainly qualify as a war crime.

Further reading: 13-Aug-14: Now don't get me wrong say the reporters

13-Aug-14: Now don't get me wrong say the reporters

If, like us, you sometimes puzzle over how a terrorist group like Hamas - proudly dedicated to murder and for whom dead children are a prized outcome - nonetheless gets a kind of admiration, sometimes grudging, sometimes more direct than that, from members of the reporting classes, here's a brief (less than a minute) but thought-provoking video compilation from the Washington Free Beacon and via YouTube.

Of course, we're sure these media people don't defend Hamas. But.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

12-Aug-14: Despite everything, can it be that Israel is about to free more prisoners? Arabs are saying yes

File Photo
From a Khaled Abu Toameh report posted on the Jerusalem Post website this (Monday) evening:
With regards to Hamas’ demand that Israel release Palestinian prisoners who were detained over the past two months in the West Bank, the sources said that the Israelis have agreed to free those who were part of the Schalit prisoner exchange. Israel has also agreed, the sources claimed, to release the fourth batch of prisoners who were arrested before the signing of the Oslo Accords and who were supposed to be freed earlier this year as part of a US-sponsored agreement between Israel and the PA, but only in return for the bodies of two IDF soldiers killed during Operation Protection (sic) Edge.
We're naturally hoping the Jerusalem Post report is wrong. The background is here: "11-Aug-14: Shalit Transaction revisited: At what point does facing up to the cost of a disastrous decision become unavoidable?

Monday, August 11, 2014

11-Aug-14: So did Hamas intimidate reporters or not? Seems to depend on whose Tweet stream you believe

Screen shot: fpa.org.il
If it were not for the deep respect we have for the fairness and objectivity of the New York Times, these two mutually contradictory Twitter posts below would lead us to wonder how a NYT bureau chief could make so blunt a statement without any follow-up questions, clarifications or comments.

Start with the Tweeted statement of the Foreign Press Association in Israel ["Established in June 1957"] from this morning:
Condemning Hamas intimidation sounds straight-forward. Here's what their referenced "condemns Hamas" statement says, in part:
The FPA protests in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month. The international media are not advocacy organisations and cannot be prevented from reporting by means of threats or pressure, thereby denying their readers and viewers an objective picture from the ground. In several cases, foreign reporters working in Gaza have been harassed, threatened or questioned over stories or information they have reported through their news media or by means of social media. We are also aware that Hamas is trying to put in place a "vetting" procedure that would, in effect, allow for the blacklisting of specific journalists. Such a procedure is vehemently opposed by the FPA...
Sounds fairly definitive to us. And now, Jodi Rudoren's Tweet from this morning (she's the bureau chief for the NYT in Jerusalem):
Can you figure this out? We can't. She says that the FPA's complaint is nonsense. Does that mean Hamas doesn't intimidate anyone? They don't intimidate forcefully? At all? Ms Rudoren knows this? Or has not heard about it from anyone?

Whichever way you look at it, there's something a little disturbing about the chief of the New York Times's local office responding in such a definite, and yet uninquisitive, way. Is this because the NY Times finds it hard to believe Hamas could ever do such a thing?

11-Aug-14: Deep down below Gaza: Child-abuse, exploitation and murder by Hamas. And who are the principal victims?

Coal mine working children, Pennsylvania 1911 [Image Source]
The Israeli Hebrew-language news site Mako disclosed that the Islamist terrorists of Hamas executed dozens of tunnel workers in the past few weeks. Times of Israel picked up on the Mako report, revealing that the tunnelers, working underground for 8 to 12 hours each day for a monthly salary of between $150 and $300, were executed in order to preserve the secrecy of the tunnels project.
Sources in Gaza told the website that Hamas took a series of precautions to prevent information from reaching Israel. The terror organization would reportedly blindfold the excavators en route to the sites and back, to prevent them from recognizing the locations. The tunnels were strictly supervised by Hamas members, and civilians were kept far from the sites… 
This comes hard on the heels of another shocking revelation based on a report from the Institute for Palestine Studies ["Gaza's Tunnel Phenomenon: The Unintended Dynamics of Israel's Siege", Nicolas Pelham, 2012] that the tunnel constructions were marked by a "cavalier" approach by Hamas officials
to child labor and tunnel fatalities [damaging] the movement’s standing with human-rights groups, despite government assurances dating back to 2008 that it was considering curbs. During a police patrol that the author was permitted to accompany in December 2011, nothing was done to impede the use of children in the tunnels, where, much as in Victorian coal mines, they are prized for their nimble bodies. At least 160 children have been killed in the tunnels, according to Hamas officials [and] perceptions of corruption inside the organization have intensified. During the renewed fuel shortages of spring 2012, there were widespread allegations that Hamas leaders received uninterrupted electricity and that gasoline stations continued to operate for the exclusive use of Hamas members. True or not, they fed a growing mood of recrimination that Hamas had profited...
A recent article by Lee Smith ["The Underground War on Israel", The Weekly Standard, August 4, 2014] explains how the Gaza tunnels morphed in recent years from being a source of illicit income for Hamas insiders and assorted other fat-cats, as well as a way of circumventing the Israeli embargo on certain imports, into a strategic weapon. An Israeli strategic analyst is quoted:
"If you multiply tunnels, you can use them to send hundreds of fighters into Israel and create havoc, totally under cover. According to Hamas, the tunnels have changed the balance of power." Israeli officials have expressed amazement at the extent of the tunnel network. “Food, accommodations, storage, resupply,” one astonished official told reporters last week. “Beneath Gaza,” he explained, there’s “another terror city.” That is, Hamas’s tunnel network is evidence of a military doctrine, both a countermeasure to Israel’s clear air superiority and an offensive capability that threatens to take ground combat inside Israel itself, targeting villages, cities, and civilians as well as soldiers. Israel perhaps should not have been surprised to discover the size and seriousness of Hamas’s tunnel network because they’ve seen something similar before, in the aftermath of the 2006 war with Hezbollah. And indeed it was Iran’s long arm in Lebanon that helped build Hamas’s tunnels.
The North Koreans - "the leading tunnel experts in the world" according to North Korea expert Bruce Bechtol - have played a major enabling role:
It’s nothing new for the North Koreans to work with terrorist groups... It started with the Polisario, the North African, and at one time Soviet-funded, terrorist group fighting the Moroccan government. “The North Koreans built them underground facilities, command and control, hospitals,” says Bechtol. “All of it was supported by Soviets, but that changed with the end of the Cold War, when the North Koreans offered their services on a cash and carry basis only.” Their top customer is the Islamic Republic of Iran. The North Koreans, Bechtol says, have helped build some of the Iranians’ underground nuclear weapons facilities, as well as Hezbollah’s underground network. “They built it in 2003-04, coming into Lebanon disguised as houseboys serving the Iranians. Maybe nobody asked, hey, how come these houseboys are speaking Korean?” The significance of the tunnels became clear in the 2006 war, as Bechtol explains. “It lowered Hezbollah’s casualty rate. The Israelis wondered why the air force was not inflicting more damage and it was because of those tunnels. It was the first time Hezbollah was ever truly protected.”
Certainly a far cry from those coal mines of a century ago.

UPDATE Monday 7:00 pm: A Times of Israel report this evening quotes an IDF source and Israel Radio saying Israel has lab-tested two systems for finding tunnels. Field testing is now underway. The systems could be operational along the Gaza border within a year. A cost range of US$288 to $432 million is quoted, without explaining what it covers. Let's stay optimistic.