Thursday, 7 August 2014

IDF loses another war: Israelis unhappy to see world-class military ‘surprised’ again

A high Israeli troop death toll in Gaza, with inconclusive results, reminds some of a "severe sense of failure" after a 2006 ground war.

Israel’s military can be fearsomely destructive. From the day in July 1967 when Israeli planes preempted an Egyptian attack by destroying Cairo’s air force on the ground, to surgical airstrikes on nuclear reactor projects in Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007, the Israel Defense Forces have displayed crack intelligence and technical skill.

So why does Israel keep getting caught by surprise when it fights ground wars against its neighboring enemies?

Sixty-four Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza over the past three weeks—more than six times the 10 lost in Israel’s 2008 incursion into the Palestinian territory. The Gaza incursion “revealed worrisome shortcomings in the Israel Defense Forces in battle readiness and management,” the Israeli daily Haaretz laments. The chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee is vowing to investigate both diplomatic and military failures, including the use of a poorly-armored personnel carrier in which seven Israeli soldiers were killed by a single missile last month. Military experts also say the IDF was generally “operating from an old playbook and [was] not fully prepared for a more sophisticated, battle-ready adversary.”

Other Israeli politicians are also asking “why the extent of the Hamas tunnel system into Israel was either not known or not prepared for better,” the New York Times reports, which adds that the tunnels were “a psychological and tactical surprise.”

Israelis may be angry and frustrated. But they shouldn’t be shocked. Israel has been here before. more

Video: Irish senator condemns Gaza massacre, “Nazi talk” by Israelis

Irish senator and former presidential candidate David Norris made a powerful speech on 31 July condemning Israel’s massacre in Gaza and the complcity of American, Irish and other European governments.

Norris called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador. The eight-minute speech can be seen in the video above.

Meanwhile, UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has given public backing to an arms embargo on Israel.

Excerpts from the official transcript of Norris’ speech:
In the 40 years that I have known the State of Israel and sometimes had a home there, I have seen it completely change. It changed from a left-wing, socially directed country to an extreme right-wing regime that is behaving in the most criminal fashion, defying the world and unscrupulously using the Holocaust to justify what they are doing. It is time that rag was torn away from them.
On Israel’s violence:
Entire families have been obliterated and in one case, 20 members of the same family were slaughtered. Also, a disproportionate amount of women and children have been killed in this situation, which is a violation of all the spiritual beauty that Judaism stands for – the respect for life and the fact that if one saves one life then one has saved the universe. All of that is blown out of the window and done so, as I saw, by the arrival of 1,200,000 extreme right-wing former citizens of the Soviet Union. It is time people told the truth about what is being said in Israel. For example, the interior Minister, Eli Yishai, stated in 2012 that Israel would send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Defence deputy Minister Matan Vilnai stated that it would visit the Holocaust on the Palestinians. That is Nazi talk. I am not saying that he is a Nazi but what he is saying makes him sound like a Nazi.
On the US role:
America has a shameful role to play in this. Israel could not get away with these disgraceful acts of international piracy and brigandage if it was not for the protecting shadow of the United States of America. I condemn President Obama for his utter inaction.
On Irish complicity:
We do not even mark a protest note with our vote at the United Nations Human Rights Commission. That is shameful – absolutely shameful. I would have interjected that it had been better to be one country in the right than be with all the rest of them in the wrong.
Norris’ reference to “Nazi talk” is bound to attract Israeli lobby criticism, but defenders are likely to point to other genocidal statements by Israeli politicians including rising-star lawmaker Ayelet Shaked’s call for killing Palestinian mothers because they give birth to “little snakes,” and the deputy speaker of the Israeli parliament Moshe Feiglin’s call for Palestinians to be put in concentration camps and expelled and for Israel to populate Gaza with Jews. more

US envoy arrives in Cairo for truce talks - Egypt hints at lifting siege

Acting US special envoy for Palestinian-Israeli negotiations Frank Lowenstein landed Thursday in Cairo where he is scheduled to meet with the Egyptian foreign minister and other officials to discuss extending Gaza's ceasefire.

The ceasefire is scheduled to end at 8 a.m. Friday unless a deal is reached to extend it.

Lowenstein said Egypt was working hard to try to prolong the ceasefire so to give negotiators enough time to reach an agreement on a long-term truce ending an 8-year, crippling siege on Gaza and assure that hostilities won't break out again.

A Ma'an reporter said that Israel agreed to more days of ceasefire, while the Palestinians are yet to determine whether they agree or not.

Also Thursday, Egyptian sources told Ma'an that Egypt would agree to permanently open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza on the condition that the Palestinian Authority's national consensus government runs the terminal along with the Egyptians. more

Gaza humanitarian aid ppeal to air on BBC and Sky News

The BBC and Sky News are to broadcast an appeal to help people affected by the Gaza conflict, after having refused to air a similar film four years ago.

In 2009, the BBC and Sky News declined to broadcast the Disasters Emergency Committee’s appeal to tackle the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, claiming it would compromise their impartiality in reporting the conflict.

But both networks as well as ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, which broadcast the 2009 appeal, have accepted the latest film meets the DEC’s “appeal criteria”, the charity body said.

The DEC organised the appeal, which will air on Friday, to help the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled their homes in Gaza.

Brendan Paddy, head of communications at the DEC, said: “We’ve made the case to all broadcasters that our appeal criteria had been met and all have agreed and have said they will carry the appeal.”

The BBC’s refusal, along with other broadcasters, to air a DEC appeal for Gaza on 22 January 2009 sparked protests from government ministers, religious leaders and senior members of its own staff. more

New York Times is furiously rewriting history of Gaza conflict

From Mondoweiss - An important journalistic pattern is beginning right now that must be countered by people who care about human rights: The New York Times is trying to rewrite the history of the Gaza conflict to treat it as a cycle of violence set off by Hamas in June by allegedly orchestrating the teen kidnappings on the West Bank– rather than as a war begun by Israel against Hamas. The Times whites out Israel’s interest: to destroy the unity government between Hamas and Fatah that was announced in May, a government the U.S. was prepared to work with, thereby defying Israel.

And as for the seven-year siege of Gaza that has put 1.8 million people in an open-air prison, the Times has nothing to say.

The pattern is evident in Steven Erlanger’s piece in the New York Times two days ago: “Arrest by Israel in Abduction of 3 Youths Is Made Public.” Erlanger said that Hamas abducted and killed the three Israeli teens June 12, and that this abduction set off the Gaza onslaught.
The abduction set off the most recent conflict with Hamas in Gaza… According to the court documents, [Hussam] Qawasmeh told the police during an interrogation that he had helped organize the kidnappings and had gotten money for the task from Hamas.
Not till the end of the piece are we given a muttered disclaimer of Hamas’s responsibility:
Critics argued that the local Qawasmeh clan might have acted on its own and that it was not clear that Hamas as an organization was behind the kidnapping.
A second piece in the Times that day, “Israel Exits Gaza as Truce Begins,” treats the Palestinian Authority as the only Palestinian party worth dealing with and rewrites the story of Hamas’s rise in Palestine:
[Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud] Abbas is 79 and has health problems, raising questions about who will succeed him. One possible candidate, Mohammed Dahlan, 52, who was born in Gaza, is favored by some Egyptian officials. But he is disliked by Mr. Abbas and hated by Hamas, which Mr. Dahlan tried to suppress when he effectively ran Gaza for the Palestinian Authority.
As Wikipedia reminds us, Dahlan was part of a U.S. plot to undo a democratically-elected government in Gaza.
In the April 2008 edition of Vanity Fair it was revealed that after the 2006 elections Dahlan had been central in a US plot to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power. The Americans provided money and arms to Dahlan, trained his men and ordered him to carry out a military coup against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. However, the elected Hamas government forestalled the move and itself carried out an armed counter-coup.

Gaza Municipality crews targeted by Israeli gunfire despite truce

GAZA, (PIC)-- Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) opened fire Wednesday afternoon at Gaza Municipality crews, hitting one of their vehicles in a clear violation of the 72-hour ceasefire declared on Tuesday morning.

Gaza Municipality said in a statement that Israeli forces stationed at east Gaza city opened fire at its crews while inspecting the damage in Shujaia neighborhood. A vehicle belonging to the municipality was directly hit.

The municipality earlier declared that the Israeli aggression had deeply and significantly damaged the city’s infrastructure.

The statement pointed to the total destruction of water network and water pumping and sewage facilities.

The municipality said that five trash trucks were completely destroyed as well as nine water wells. more

Israel, Hamas at odds over truce extension

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Israel and Hamas appeared at odds on Thursday over prolonging a 72-hour Gaza ceasefire, with Israel indicating it will back an unconditional extension but Hamas denying any agreement.

Fighting has ceased since 8 a.m. Tuesday, bringing relief to the Gaza Strip after the deaths of over 1,800 Palestinians and 67 Israelis.

Egyptian mediators have accelerated efforts to extend the truce after it expires at 8 a.m. on Friday, shuttling between Israeli and Palestinian delegations in Cairo.

"Israel has no problem extending the ceasefire unconditionally," an Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity late Wednesday. There was no immediate reaction from Hamas.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli army said 27,000 reservists called up for the conflict had been sent home, leaving a force of 55,000 still on active duty, in another sign of growing hopes for long-term quiet.

But Hamas deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzouq, part of the Palestinian delegation holding talks in Cairo, denied overnight there was yet any agreement.

"There is no agreement to extend the ceasefire," he wrote on Twitter. more