Friday, March 07, 2008

7-Mar-08: Carnage in the library

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Things change but really they stay just the same.

Another massacre in the heart of Jerusalem, so reminiscent of the massacre that took the life of our own precious Malki six and a half years ago.

Then too our trust and naiveté left a bustling location, full of children, totally unguarded.

Then too the leader of the PA condemned the attack out of one side of his mouth and gave terrorists the green light out of the other. Abbas is Arafat without the kefiyah and army drabs. Like his mentor he is waging a "fight" against terrorism that is nothing but window dressing. When Israel finally reacted last week to Hamas' daily attacks from Gaza, Abbas jumped up and down screaming "massacre".

Abbas' terrorists have unabashedly assured journalists that they retain their arms and have not disavowed terrorism. Time and again, terrorists that Abbas claims to capture mysteriously "escape" or are sentenced to token prison terms.

Nevertheless Prime Minister Olmert, with Condoleezza Rice almost visibly breathing down his neck, was quick to "reassure" the West that these vicious, sadistic murders will not derail the "peace" talks.

The mirage of a "moderate" Palestinian contingent ensconced in Gaza and the West Bank lives on. It is a mirage embraced not only by our American patrons but ever more widely here in Israel too. During the barrage of Qassams and Grads on Sderot and Ashkelon, Bradley Burston Polyanna-ed in his Haaretz column: "The world of jihad is fraying at many points and, in the worst symptom of any revolution, beginning to show its age."

Burston chirps about an "exhaustive" Gallup poll of the world's Muslims (actually a sample of 50,000) that "claims to represent the views of 90% of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims", 93% of whom are said to be moderates who condemn the 9/11 attacks.

Even disregarding the questionable reliability of such a poll, we all know that a dangerous distinction is consistently made between terrorism against Israel - which they "understand" - and the terrorism everywhere else.

Moreover, 7% of 1.3 billion is an awful lot of radical, blood-thirsty jihadists, particularly when so many of them reside within spitting distance of your own home.

Burston concludes with these empty words: "If recent indications hold, Islamist terrorism as an ideological brushfire is dimming in its ability to galvanize and electrify."

If we needed evidence of his delusion, last night was it. The demise of Islamist terrorism is nowhere on the horizon.

The world watches us grieve and bury our dead children. But it cannot commiserate. It sees footage of the "poor" Gazans rejoicing over our murdered children, handing out candies to passers-by, but it cannot condemn. (See AP's report this morning: "Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip praised the operation in a statement, and thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of Gaza to celebrate.")

Almost every major news-network concluded its reports of the terror attack with variations on this unrelated addendum: "...An inevitable response to last week's Israeli military operation in Gaza that killed more than 100 Palestinians." Never mind that those casualties were Palestinian terrorists clutching sub-machine guns along with the neighbors they chose to endanger by fighting from within their midst.

With that one sentence the Western mainstream media have equated them with innocent Jewish school-children murdered in school, seated at their desks, clutching their books.

---

We remember the young victims of last night's murderous terror attack on the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva:
Segev Pniel Avihail, 15, of Neve Daniel
Neriah Cohen, 15, of Jerusalem
Yonatan Yitzhak Eldar, 16, of Shilo
Yonadav Haim Hirschfeld, 19, of Kohav Hashahar
Yohai Lifshitz, 18, of Jerusalem
Doron Tronoh Maharata, 26, of Ashdod
Avraham David Moses, 16, of Efrat
Ro'i Roth, 18, of Elkana

Our thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and with the families of all those caught in the line of fire of the barbarian gunman and his backers.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

6-Mar-08: Questions for the humanitarians



Let's state it plainly; humanitarianism is not something we're against.

But when some of the world's largest, most influential, best-funded humanitarian groups get stuck into Israel again and again, it gets to be irksome. Especially when the arguments they make - and which have been broadcast all day on BBC World's television news today - are so plainly agenda-driven and outside the scope of humanitarian considerations.

In an earlier posting, we mentioned today's claims by BBC World, quoting Amnesty International, Save the Children, Cafod, Care International and Christian Aid, that Gaza's humanitarian situation is at its worst since Israel occupied the territory in 1967. The BBC says the aid agencies "criticise Israel's blockade on Gaza as illegal collective punishment which fails to deliver security."

The claims about "collective punishment" are not new. That doesn't make them less wrong than they were in the past and still are. NGO-Monitor published a plain-spoken report a week ago called "False Claims of Collective Punishment in NGO Campaigns on Gaza". Definitely worth a visit.

Here are some thoughts about whether there's a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and, if there is one, why.
  • The aid people say there's a shortage of medicine in Gaza. But Israeli sources say no fewer than 84 donations of bulk medications have been authorized since 1st January 2008 and not a single one has been refused or turned back. Hamas routinely grabs these donations as soon as they enter Gaza. They don't get transferred to Gaza's hospitals. They go to Hamas' institutions and are applied in a variety of other ways for its own purposes. This is no secret - the aid agencies are fully aware of it. From the standpoint of Israel, medical supplies are treated as priority items - it's in Israel's interests for the Palestinian-Arabs of Gaza to get decent health care and have something in their lives to protect, to lose. Israel's calculation is obvious, and also humanitarian.
  • It's been said repeatedly that the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip has been cut back. This is untrue. Egypt currently supplies 17 MW. Gaza's own power plant produces 60 MW. And Israel delivers 214 MW. The office of Israel's Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the public service agency that manages these matters, says today "Israel assisted with the transfer of transformers for the power plant into Gaza, and with the entrance of foreign technicians for maintenance work on other transformers. Only two weeks ago, the power grid in Gaza was repaired. Everything connected to it, such as pumping stations and sewage pumps, were in working order. The repairs were carried out under Hamas sniper fire, which necessitated use of protected vehicles and working at night." So who's keeping whom in the dark?
  • Is there a shortage of fuel? Official Israeli sources says the quantity of fuel transferred to Gaza exceeds Gaza's basic needs by a factor of 3:1. And by the way the transfer is routinely done under hostile fire from the terrorists. On Monday of this week, a fuel truck traveling from Nahal Oz in Israel to the Gaza Strip to hand fuel over to the Hamas regime was targeted by its snipers. Isn't there at least the possibility that Hamas is diverting the fuel being brought to Gaza for its own use and for terrorism? Not if you ask the aid organizations.
  • Is there a problem with the Gaza sewage management system? Maybe. Israel makes cement and pipes available to the Gaza regime for rehabilitation and extension of Gaza's sewage system. Hamas takes these materials and uses them to manufacture Qassam rockets. It's what's called a win/win strategy: Lets Hamas complain bitterly about Israeli oppression; and the foreign champions of aid can lay another emotive complaint at Israel's feet.
  • How great is the crisis in the treatment of Gaza's sick and disabled? Even though Hamas delivers terrorism on a daily basis into our communities and homes, Israel continues to operate an open-door policy for Palestinian Arabs from Gaza into Israel, enabling them to get first-class treatment at Israeli hospitals. (They could go to Egypt. But they vote with their feet to no one's surprise.) And this is no small-scale activity. Some 14,000 ailing Palestinians and their escorts entered Israel for medical treatment last year; that's 90% of those who requested permission. Israel's gates remain open to almost all of them, subject to tough security screening processes. To be more specific, the number of permissions and referrals to Israeli specialty medical services for the benefit of Gazan Palestinian Arabs increased by 45% in the past two years. The number was 4,934 in 2006, and rose to 7,176 in 2007.
  • The border crossings we just mentioned are open and used daily by diplomats, by employees of NGOs and "humanitarian" agencies like those providing BBC with the fuel for its serious allegations. They're also used for the transfer of medical supplies, equipment, food and other goods for Gaza's civilian population. But those gates are also under almost daily fire and the thugs of Hamas have taken advantage of them to infiltrate bombers, snipers and assorted other death-minded jihadists into Israel without let-up. See for instance the article on Wafa al-Bis, a 21-year-old Palestinian woman "with a lovely face and a quiet voice"; because of awful home-inflicted burns, she had to get medical treatment in a Beer Sheva hospital; she turned this privilege into an attempt to blow herself and fifty Israelis into the world to come. She failed only because she was caught by Israeli security, as the related video story above describes.
  • Are Israel's security measures pleasant? Probably not. Is this a humanitarian crisis? Only if you feel the need to manufacture one.
  • In view of the above, the real question is why do the international aid agencies persist in accusing Israel of creating crises? It must be frightening for them to work under Hamas, but if it's fear that prevents them from speaking out and telling it like it is, or that causes them to fabricate and mislead, this too is something they should admit.
Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip by means of a stunningly violent putch against Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas last summer. Since that time, Hamas has illegally grabbed hold of humanitarian shipments which entered Gaza and applied them for their own purposes - and certainly not for the benefit of Gaza's Palestinian-Arab population. Their gunmen routinely fire on the border crossings that make the supply of humanitarian aid for Gaza's population possible. For this and every other reason, it's time for the "humanitarian" agencies to address their complaints to Hamas. It has responsibility for virtually everything that happens and fails to happen in the Gaza Strip today.

A press conference arranged by NGO Monitor today made some strong criticisms of the aid agencies and their "worst humanitarian crisis" criticisms. A summary of the main points:
  • The facts, corroborated by numerous international bodies including the UN, UNESCO, WHO, WTO and IMF, show a significant increase in virtually every indicator of quality of life in Gaza. Infant mortality rates, life expectancy, general health indices, literacy rates, women’s participation in the workforce, GDP, electricity and running water availability, and the number of colleges, hospitals, schools and day-care centers all rose between 1967 (when Gaza came under Israeli control) and the “Oslo Process” of the mid-1990’s. A decade of authoritarian rule, corruption and mismanagement by the Palestinian Authority have erased only some of those gains.
  • The aid organizations speak with utter confidence. But their data are suspect, weak, and unverifiable. Amnesty's only ‘researcher’ in the region, for instance, is Donatella Rovera. She works in Europe and has very limited first-hand knowledge of events. The confident assertions of international law principles and breaches are outside their fields of competence and should be set aside.
  • A good part of the data on which the complains are based come from reports written by John Dugard about whom we wrote a few days ago. Without being unnecessarily offensive, Dugard should not be believed on anything that concerns Israel.
  • Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and the subsequent continuous - and growing - waves of rocket and mortar attacks on bordering Israeli towns, communities, schools and home are either ignored or mentioned in passing. When did you last see an Amnesty report or a Christian Aid brochure that reveal what Israelis are going through as the price for living near the Hamas regime? There have been more than 4,000 rocket attacks on Israel since ‘disengagement’ in August 2005; some 500 since January 2008. Is this irrelevant to the context? No, it's absolutely relevant, and ignoring it reveals the state of mind of those venting their spleen against Israel.
  • The organizations making humanitarian claims to attack Israel all come equipped with long and disgraceful histories of displaying a clear political agenda against Israel. The names are worth remembering: Christian Aid, Medecins du Monde UK, Oxfam, Save the Children UK, Trocaire.
Bottom line: when aid agencies play politics, there are two kinds of loser. One is the very individuals most needing humanitarian aid. Gaza's abused masses, treated as a political football for sixty years, are the world's most outstanding example of this. The second is the generosity of the supporters and providers of the funding; their innocent and well-intentioned goodwill is being cynically abused by the aid industry's agenda-driven bureaucrats.

6-Mar-08: Quiet.

BBC World has been running "humanitarian crisis in Gaza" stories all day, echoing the usual chorus of "aid" agencies - Amnesty International, Save the Children, Cafod, Care International, Christian Aid. But far from their gaze, the Palestinian-Arab rockets of Gaza keep being fired into Israel, spreading the desired fear, the desired terror, the desired anger.

Two such rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel this afternoon. A house in the town of Sderot sustained a direct hit. Several people are now being treated for shock. Elisheva Turjeman, whose house it was and whose salon is in the picture above, is described by YNet as finding it difficult to talk after the shattering experience.
"We were at home with the children, there was a very loud explosion, and the entire house was hit," she told Ynet. "We managed to get to the secured room and take shelter. It was a real miracle. I still can't believe we escaped it unharmed."
"We heard a very loud explosion, and I immediately understood that the house was directly hit," one of the residents on the street told Ynet. "Our houses all shook and the windowpanes were damaged. The rocket entered the house's living room through the roof. Several of the family members were at home at that time, and only a miracle prevented their injury. They are extremely frightened. There is an elderly sick lady there. It's simply a miracle that no one was injured."
Never shy to take credit, Islamic Jihad says its terrorists fired the rockets.

Five other rockets have been fired into Israel from northern Gaza so far today (for a total of seven), landing in open areas. Several mortar shells have been fired at communities within the Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel too. There are no reports of injuries or damage so far.

Absurdly, this will be reckoned as a quiet day in the context of this ongoing war.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

5-Mar-08: Wednesday update

Only nine rockets were fired into Israel today (Wednesday) from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip (that's according to YNet; JPost counts 14) by the forces of Palestinian-Arab terror. One landed inside Hamas territory with unknown consequences for the civilians in the area. The mainstream media never, but literally never, report on the damage caused to Palestinian-Arabs in Gaza by misdirected Palestinian-Arab missiles. Such 'mishaps' are a constant, almost daily, feature of the Hamas war against Israelis.

Today's other rockets mostly crashed into open land with the exception of two Qassams which, around 7:15 pm this evening, narrowly missed the chicken coop of a western Negev kibbutz. Credit for the almost-killed chickens was grabbed by Islamic Jihad, for whom dead Zionist poultry and wounded, maimed or killed Jews are all at about the same level of importance as strategic targets. This is one of the reasons why they are classified as terrorists.

JPost points out that today was "the first day in almost a week in which nobody was wounded by the attacks. Almost all the projectiles hit open areas."

YNet says some 120 portable cement-reinforced shelters were deployed across Sderot today. Some have wider entrances to enable accessible for individuals with special needs, an especially-prime class of terrorist target. This is why the school for blind and multiply-handicapped children in Jerusalem which our youngest daughter attends has an armed guard at the front door. So does every other institution for special-needs children and adult in this country. And not for nothing.

And as a further reminder that this truly is asymmetrical warfare (i.e. barbarian thugs on one side; civilized and fundamentally decent protectors of families and society on the other), Israel permitted "around two dozen Gazans to enter Israel to receive medical treatment" today, according to JPost. Medical treatment, it needs to be made clear, means medical treatment in Israel, by Israeli professionals, using Israeli medicine to treat sick and ailing Palestinian-Arabs from Gaza. No other media channel in the world, as far as we can tell from checking, makes mention of this small but telling point. This constant truth (check any Israeli hospital on any day of the week, any month of the year, any year, to see just how true) is - and we speak from experience - one of the most infuriating, humiliating and difficult dimensions of this ongoing war for the terrorists and for their media apologists.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

4-Mar-08: Uri Orbach and the draining of the Gaza swamp

The Israeli columnist and broadcaster Uri Orbach, writing on the YNet website today, delivers some home truths about what it means to have a full-fledged jihadist regime on our southern border. We have long appreciated Orbach's sane take on events, and this piece really gets it right.
Draining the Gaza swamp: Catchy proverbs are nice but the Gaza problem can only be resolved by action
Uri Orbach

Once upon a time, members of the peace camp came up with a nice proverb regarding the war on terror. “Instead of catching each fish separately,” they said, “it would be better to drain the entire swamp.” Or in other words: Instead of engaging in a Sisyphean war and pursuing each terrorist separately, it would be better to make peace and change the state of the region so that there is no reason for terror attacks to begin with.

This was a very nice proverb. To our misfortune, it was not tried on fish but rather on people – on us.

The years that followed the Oslo agreements were the testing grounds of this proverb: we had meetings and endless discussions. We even handed over territory to the terrorists’ control based on the assumption that this way we shall dry up the terror swamp and the fish will proceed to find another job.

As it turned out, the fish were not quite familiar with this proverb. The Israeli withdrawal process not only failed to bring about calm but instead led to a huge wave of Palestinian terrorism.

The Arafat gangs arrived here from Tunisia and the more this murderous partner established itself in the region, the higher the casualty toll became. Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was a bit more realistic, realized that there will be no peace forthcoming, and that the terror swamp will not be dried up. He too approached reality as a murky swamp and decided to disengage from Gaza and pull Israel, its army, and its communities from that muck. The most popular proverb at the time was “we have nothing to look for in the Gaza swamp.”

That experiment also crashed with a loud bang. The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which was accompanied by the uprooting of Jewish communities there, did not bring any quiet, but rather only made things worse.

Hamas took over the Strip and the residents of Sderot and Gaza-region communities have been increasingly suffering since then from Hamas attacks. The swamp did not calm even for a moment. The withdrawal attempts and the proverbs only made the swamp deeper.

So what is to come? Fewer proverbs and more action. The solution for the Gaza problem, assuming there even is such solution, would be a regional one, along with the Egyptians in the Sinai. It may be a solution that is forced upon the Palestinians, with the half-hearted acquiescence of their political forces. In the meantime, Israel would have to continue to eliminate, thwart, occupy, withdraw, and occupy again. The terror fish do not want to see their swamp drained and if we disengage from the swamp, they keep on chasing us on the shore.

The sad thing is that there are many proverbs that are appropriate for life, but life does not always abide by the proverbs.
It wasn't always a swamp down there. And it need not have remained one. With the phenomenal amounts of foreign aid poured into it by European governments and a host of other major donors, Gaza ought to have been turned long ago into a place of fertility and productivity and life. If nation-building is what the Gazans sought, they have been astonishingly unsuccessful at every single aspect of it. The problem is it's not only fish you find in the swamps. There are also leeches, blood-sucking parasites, snakes and slimy creatures. In Gaza's swamp, the weak and poor have long been the victims of the strong and thuggish. And relief has often come from places you might not expect. Read today's account of Israel admitting dozens of trucks packed with aid and medical supplies into Gaza for confirmation that life doesn't always abide by the proverbs as Uri Orbach says.

Monday, March 03, 2008

3-Mar-08: A tough time to be an Israeli

With Israeli forces deeply engaged in a ground assault on Gaza, these past two days have been especially worrying - and galling - to the many Israelis who, like us, hate the conflict with our neighbours - but hate their hatred even more.

Yesterday, Sunday, dozens of Palestinian-Arab rockets and mortar shells were fired from Gaza into Israel. Two landed in Sderot: one hit a house and caused several people to be sent to hospital to be treated for shock; another struck an electric power transformer that burst into flames, causing a power blackout throughout the area. Ashkelon came under sustained rocket attack. One hit a house in the city's center causing shrapnel injuries to a girl. Three other children were in the house at the time of the attack and escaped serious injury by running to the building's secure room as soon as they heard the dreaded 'Color Red' [tzeva adom in Hebrew] alert. Three adjacent houses were damaged as well. The famed tomb of the Baba Sali in Netivot, one of Israel's major centers of pilgrimage, also came under rocket fire Sunday for the first time.

Today (Monday) has been nerve-wracking.
  • A Gazan rocket landed near a Sderot kindergarten around 8:45am while dozens of toddlers were beginning their day.
  • 3 rockets crashed into Sderot and the area just south of Ashkelon around 9am.
  • A fourth rocket landed near Kibbutz Nahal Oz.
  • Three other rockets landed in the Eshkol Regional Council limits, one landing near a school.
  • A seven-storey Ashkelon residential building took a direct rocket hit. Two residents are injured and hospitalized; 28 others evacuated to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon suffering from shock. Significant property damage.
  • Extract from one of YNet's reports from Ashkelon: "We knew the rockets would reach Ashkelon but the moment it hits your house it's completely different," said city resident Avi Shani. "Everyone here is trembling with fear."
  • Two rockets crashed into Shaar Hanegev this afternoon.
  • Tonight, the IDF eliminated a cluster of Palestinian Arab terrorists firing rockets from the north Gaza town of Beit Hanun. Palestinian sources say one of the thugs was killed and that a second IDF strike in the area caused no casualties. The IDF version says the rocket squad was liquidated and the second attack destroyed a donkey cart loaded with rockets.
  • The IDF's infantry and armored forces begin pulling out of the northern Gaza Strip, bringing an end to this phase of the ongoing war. Virtually every newspaper, radio and television news analyst here in Israel has observed today that no one believes the battle is over. Far from it. Emphasizing the point, the heroic leadership of the jihadist revolution crawled out of their hiding places onto the rubble-strewn streets and, in the words of a BBC report, "claimed victory over Israeli forces and held a rally in Gaza City". This 'victory' cost more than a hundred Gazan lives. They celebrated by reiterating their determination to keep those rockets coming.
Disturbing and depressing as the events in the battlefields of Israel's towns and cities are, the aggressive, thoughtless and frequently hypocritical statements of analysts and politicians are, to us, ultimately more dangerous, more threatening.

A very partial list:
  • Saudi Arabia on Sunday compared Israel’s deadly assault on the Gaza Strip to Nazi war crimes and urged a halt to its “mass killings” of Palestinians. “Saudi Arabia, which condemns the Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people and the threats of Israeli officials to turn Gaza into an inferno, sees that Israel through its actions is copying the war crimes of the Nazis,” an unidentified Saudi official told the official SPA news agency.
  • United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon condemned what he calls Israel's disproportionate and excessive use of force in the Gaza Strip. He said while he recognizes Israel's right to defend itself, he condemns the "disproportionate and excessive use of [Israeli] force that has killed so many civilians."
  • The European Union has condemned on Sunday what it called the “disproportionate use of force" by Israel in the Gaza Strip as the EU’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana is arriving in the region. In a statement, the EU’s Slovenian presidency said: "The presidency condemns the recent disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) against Palestinian population in Gaza and urges Israel to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from all activities that endanger civilians."It added: "Such activities are contrary to international law...
  • Turkey's prime minister has accused Israel of using "disproportionate force" in its attacks in the Gaza Strip that have killed nearly 70 Palestinians in two days. Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the attacks are killing "children and civilians" and that the attacks can have "no humanitarian justification."
  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended peace negotiations with Israel on Sunday, demanding it end a Gaza offensive that has killed more than 100 Palestinians, many of them civilians... Abbas had ordered "the suspension of negotiations ... until (Israeli) aggression is stopped"...
  • Iran has called on the International Criminal Court to bring to justice Israeli leaders for committing war crimes in Gaza Strip. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday night that the International Criminal Court is responsible to make case against Tel Aviv leaders for committing war crimes against the people living in Gaza Strip... Palestine Authority chief Mahmud Abbas said the Israeli raids were "more than a holocaust".
  • John Dugard, the United Nations Special Rapportur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied Since 1967 issued the following statement today: "Israel's excessive and disproportionate response has likewise been unlawful in terms of international humanitarian law. The failure to distinguish between civilian and military targets violates one of the most fundamental rules of humanitarian law. Collective punishment and the terrorization of an occupied people are also unlawful."
Just to recap the Palestinian-Arab Gazan achievement: thousands of incoming rockets from a regime explicitly dedicated to delivering every form of warfare into our cities and homes; a five-fold increase in rocket attacks from Gaza between the day the last Israeli soldier and farmer left the area until today; indiscriminate and lethal fire at Israeli nursery schools, bakeries, hospitals and power stations... and it's Israel that's charged with being disproportionate!

We quoted from a first-rate Bret Stephens essay, originally published in the Wall Street Journal a couple of days ago. He suggested that "a 'proportionate' Israeli response would involve, perhaps, firing 2,500 artillery shells at random against civilian targets in Gaza." Maybe.

Did you ever wonder how a serious international organization like, say, the United Nations would react when faced with a proportionate response? How would you be able to recognize a proportionate action when it happens? We want to suggest an answer based on our personal experience:
A privileged, young religious fanatic, scion of a land-owning Palestinian-Arab family, walks into a restaurant filled with women and children at lunch hour on a school holiday afternoon and explodes the bomb concealed in his guitar case. He kills fifteen people immediately. A sixteenth person, the young mother of a two-year-old daughter, is left brain-damaged and unconscious for more than six years (she remains unconscious today). He maims and mangles the bodies of more than 130 other innocent restaurant patrons and passers-by, the overwhelming majority of them children.
One of the noisier of the ambassadors seated in the General Assembly, Nasser Al-Kidwa, a nephew of Arafat, takes the floor and responds to the central-Jerusalem massacre by reading the names of individuals he terms "martyrs" into the UN's public record.

And so it is that the man who exploded the Sbarro restaurant on 9th August 2001 and stole so many innocent lives including that of our fifteen year-old daughter is honored by having his name entered in a list of 'martyrs', exponents of heroic, appropriate, proportionate actions, and deserving of being memorialized in the official UN record. That record is here.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

2-Mar-08: Disproportionality



We're sitting here, trying to formulate some appropriate thoughts about the near wall-to-wall attacks on Israel for what's being called a disproportionate response to month after month, day after day, hour after hour, of lethal rocket attacks on its territory and its people. While we prepare something, here's Cox & Forkum's observation from the summer of 2006.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

1-Mar-08: Scenes from an ongoing war

Remember two summers ago when the government of Israel tore down decades of peaceful and productive Jewish life in Gash Katif and other parts of the Gaza Strip in the name of disengagement? Remember the bright outcome some people were predicting back then?
Israel's planned disengagement from Gaza and parts of the West Bank in August [2005] will be a historic opportunity for the Israeli people, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says.
That historic opportunity is unfolding right now, this weekend. It's worth taking a close look at what has been gained.

The pictures below are from Israel's southern war-front - the cities of Sderot and Ashkelon - where some 50 rockets have been fired from Gaza since Friday night (it's now late Saturday evening here in Jerusalem). The flourishing Israeli communities and greenhouses and fields of Gaza have been replaced by rocket launchers and grinding, hatred-inspired poverty and hopelessness. (We reflected on this depressing reality here, here and here.)

It's been a bloody and violent weekend. Too much pain, too many injured and too many incidents of damage for us to cover them adequately here. There's detailed reporting from the Israeli areas hardest hit on the YNet website and at Haaretz. (The havoc on the Gazan side is described fulsomely and at great length in almost every media channel in the world. You won't need our help finding it.)

Stepping back from the smoke and damage, it's worth remembering what the mainstream media have omitted to say and even today are not reporting. Missiles have been fired hourly into Israel by the terrorists for months. They can cause small-scale misery to this city or that, this family or that, but nothing significantly strategic. The goal of what is sometimes called low-intensity warfare of this sort (but it's far from low-intensity if you're in the target area) is to draw the enemy into a serious response, to wear down his restraint, to provoke, to escalate.

The terrorist strategy of the jihadist Hamas regime has included storing in, and despatching their rockets - huge quantities of them - from, residential areas of the Gaza Strip. Why? Because this maximizes the likelihood that when Israel's patience, its ability to absorb these attacks (up to dozens of them each day) dries up, there will be photogenic casualties, particularly of children, and public opinion points to win. Hiding behind their children, deploying them as human shields, is a long-established dimension of the manhood and courage of the heroic freedom fighters of Gaza.

Yesterday and today, the terrorist thugs appear to have hit the jackpot.

Even so, as the New York Times reports today, half the dead are reported to be Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists. Its report also reveals what we know here but which is rarely said for outside consumption:
"Hamas said that one young girl, Malak Karfaneh, 6, died Friday night from an Israeli strike on Beit Hanun in northern Gaza, but locals said that a Palestinian rocket had fallen short and landed near the house. Israeli officials say that up to half of Palestinian rockets — mostly crude, inaccurate Qassams — fall inside Gaza."
To be kept in mind as the propaganda war of the jihadists and their more-than-willing media collaborators crank up their latest assault.



The mainstream press love calling the terrorist weapons "home made". This is an apartment in Ashkelon after yet another "home made" attack today.



Sderot's mayor, Eli Moyal, inspects an apartment in his town on Friday after the jihadists delivered the latest in a long series of 'home-made' greetings.



Police and journalists momentarily abandon their nonchalant cool as yet another 'rocket incoming' alert is sounded on Friday in Sderot.



Ashkelon on Friday. That roof is reinforced-steel and cement. Home-made Gazan war implements blew right through it. That there were no deaths here is miraculous.



Injured on the streets of Sderot, Thursday 29th February.



Sderot 29-Feb-08: Hundreds of rocket attacks per month, for months. But you never get accustomed to the fear.



Sderot 29-Feb-08: Hospitalized for treatment after one of dozens of attacks on Thursday (alone).



The carpark of Sapir College, a tertiary education institution just outside Sderot. It came under rocket attack this past Wednesday. A student was killed, his four children left orphaned.



Israeli forces have been ready to roll into Gaza for months. The picture above was taken at Kibbutz Mefalsim, southern Israel, Thursday 29th February. They wait, equipment at the ready, for the possibility that someone in a position of authority in that crazed place will come to his/her senses and realize that no one has more to lose in this ongoing war than the Palestinian Arabs of Gaza. Sadly, losses don't count for much when, like the ruling clique in Gaza, you're driven by religious fanaticism and hatred. So these young men and their equipment are rolling tonight.