Gaza Conflict Day 17: UN Human Rights Council Launches Inquiry

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 12:02pm

Today’s Top Stories

1. The US cancelled its ban on flights to and from Ben Gurion Airport but some airlines are saying they’re not ready to wing it just yet. The Times of Israel, JTA and Irish Times look at the significance of what Hamas pulled off. For the latest flight updates, just go to straight to Ben Gurion passenger info.

2. The UN Human Rights Council voted to launch an inquiry into Operation Protective Edge.

The probe team, yet to be appointed, is tasked with reporting back to the council by March.

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3. As this roundup went to press, Ruby Rivlin was being sworn in as Israel’s 10th president. Because of the fighting in Gaza, the Knesset inauguration is a low-key affair. In one of his last acts as president, meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Shimon Peres denounced Qatar for supporting Hamas terror.

4. Stephen Walt: Still Blaming the Israel Lobby: Any argument that relies on presenting Hamas as a catalyst for Palestinian moderation reeks of desperation – or a very poor handle of the facts on the ground.

Operation Protective Edge

• For details on the latest developments, see today’s live-blogs at the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, Times of Israel, and i24 News.

• Shortly before today’s roundup was published, there were early reports that a UN school where Palestinians went for shelter was hit by Israeli shelling.

YNet: Egypt thwarted two attacks on Israel. One involved a suicide bomber (killed by Egyptian soldiers), the other a truck loaded with Grad rockets set to fire at Israel.

• The UNRWA’s comedy of errors continues.

• White House adviser to NPR: Cease-fire should include demilitarization of Gaza.

• In protest of Operation Protective Edge, Brazil recalled its ambassador to Israel.

• Hamas is going for broke by demanding that any ceasefire be conditional on an end to the Gaza blockade first.

• No Turkish delight: Boycotts cut both ways.

Media Angles

Michael Oren fires a shot across Big Media’s bow:

Intentionally or unknowingly, the international media has been cast in a leading role in Hamas’ horror screenplay. While journalists assume that they are helping the Palestinians by broadcasting their suffering and distress, they are really making them worse. They exempt Hamas from any accusation of using the population as a human shield and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for humanitarian aid to use to build bunkers for its leaders and dig tunnels whose only purpose is to murder innocent civilians. At the same time, Israel is expected to apologize for its defense systems and for not having civilian casualties. Rather than painting for the viewer the complicated picture in which both Israelis and Gazans are victims of the Hamas terror group, the media prefers a superficial discussion of East vs. West, colonialists vs. children, David vs. Goliath.

• Journalists tweeting about the proximity of rocket launches to civilians are catching flak from critics, the Jerusalem Post reports. I screengrabbed the three tweets by Peter Stefanovic, John Reed, and Harry Fear that Hamas and its apologists don’t want you to see. And the BBC‘s Yolanda Knell adds:

There have been occasional televised statements by the former Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, but most of the Islamist group’s officials have gone to ground during this conflict. Their houses tend to be empty when they are targeted by Israeli air strikes.

 

The only place where we have been able to approach Hamas spokesmen is at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City where they make periodic appearances.

 

 

• If you’re trying to understand Hamas’ reluctance to trust Cairo to broker a truce, look no further than the Egyptian state-controlled media’s blistering attacks on Hamas, described by McClatchy News.

And Tawfik Okasha, an Egyptian television presenter sometimes referred to as Egypt’s Bill O’Reilly, offered a personal insult to all of Gaza.

 

“Gazans are not men,” Okasha told his viewers. “If they were men they would revolt against Hamas.”

Indeed, The Economist argues that President Sisi will struggle to mediate, and that the Egyptian public supports the Palestinians more than their news services do.

• In a Haaretz commentary, Stephen Games lays out a thoughtful case for why the BBC is so incapable of reporting from Gaza, viewers might be better served by not having any Beeb presence in Israel or the Palestinian territories.

What did emerge from the interview is the unintended damage caused by the BBC’s ostensible policy of even-handedness. Because it cannot be seen as editorialising, the BBC bends over backwards to maintain a policy of “show-don’t-tell”. Thus, the only truths about Gaza that BBC reporters can convey are those that a camera can point at. Never has a BBC reporter broken a story from Gaza, interviewed a Hamas commander about splits in the ranks, examined the Palestinian justice and detention system, exposed the climate of fear that Gazans are subject to, shown missile stockpiling or residential defensive positions, or challenged the brainwashing of children in schools.

 

Nor, in spite of changing conditions in Egypt and Syria, has any BBC reporter discussed with Hamas officials the growing fragility and unpopularity of their regime. They cannot. Challenge to Israel, however, is a given.

• If all you wagging tongues are wondering why Jon Snow deleted a tweet apologizing for a photo, you’ll find the answer in an editor’s note at Mashable, Turns out the photo really was taken in Gaza after all, and not in Syria.

 

 

• Staff-eds in the  Times of London and the Daily Telegraph slams the anti-Semitism of British public debate:

It is a legitimate if debatable political viewpoint that Israel has taken too little care to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza. It is something else entirely when the Jewish state, a refuge for a persecuted people and a vibrant democracy, is compared to Nazi Germany and accused of committing genocide. Yet that has now become a familiar trope in anti-Israel demonstrations, shared by — of all bizarre associations — the revolutionary left and militant theocratic Islamists.

 

Vilification of Israel for what it is, rather than merely criticism of specific government policies, is liable to result in real harm. The most likely way for policymakers to ensure that antisemitic hatred remains on the fringes is to identify it publicly as belonging there, and there alone.

• On a related note, British MP David Ward apologized for this tweet that had British Jewry up in arms. You’ll have to judge for yourself if the apology goes far enough.

• Israeli officials continued their media offensive. Yair Lapid got op-ed space the Daily Telegraph (opposite Saeb Erekat) while Ido Aharoni weighed in at the New York Daily News. Ambassador Ron Dermer discussed the situation with in a Wall St. Journal video. And Mark Regev appeared on MSNBC (followed by Yousef Munayyer).

 

 

Commentary/Analysis

Gil Troy: The absurd and amoral disproportionality charge

This proportionality indictment is not only absurd but amoral. When a democracy launches a just war, its moral obligation to its citizens and soldiers is to apply overwhelming force against the enemy, to secure peace quickly and authoritatively . . . .

 

War reportage should not treat the casualty count as some kind of moral barometer. War is not a game; only in games such as golf does a higher score make you the loser.

 

The fact that Germany suffered over 10 times the number of war dead than Americans did in World War II does not change that war’s moral calculus. One can only imagine Wolf Blitzer on D-Day, counting German casualties without acknowledging German guilt. Americans were fighting a savage war – as all wars are – against a particularly heinous regime.

• The Daily Telegraph‘s Dan Hodges wonders what the proportional response that Israel’s critics demand would look like. His conclusion?

Because if we say Israel has a right to defend itself, and mean it then, then we’re going to have stop handwringing and start choosing. And if we don’t, then we’re going to have to be honest and admit we don’t want Israel to defend itself at all.

• Regarding efforts to reach a cease-fire, Rick McKee of the Augusta Chronicle gets it.

 

• Regarding the threat of terror tunnels, this Washington Post staff-ed gets it.

Hamas’s offensive tunnels should not be confused with the burrows it has dug under Gaza’s border with Egypt to smuggle money, consumer goods and military equipment. The newly discovered structures have only one conceivable purpose: to launch attacks inside Israel. Three times in recent days, Hamas fighters emerged from the tunnels in the vicinity of Israeli civilian communities, which they clearly aimed to attack. The ­concrete-lined structures are stocked with materials, such as handcuffs and tranquilizers, that could be used on hostages. Other tunnels in northern Gaza are designed for the storage and firing of missiles at Israeli cities.

 

The resources devoted by Hamas to this project are staggering, particularly in view of Gaza’s extreme poverty. By one Israeli account, the typical tunnel cost $1 million to build over the course of several years, using tons of concrete desperately needed for civilian housing. By design, many of the tunnels have entrances in the heavily populated Shijaiyah district, where the Israeli offensive has been concentrated. One was found underneath al-Wafa hospital, where Hamas also located a command post and stored weapons, according to Israeli officials.

 

The depravity of Hamas’s strategy seems lost on much of the outside world, which — following the terrorists’ script — blames Israel for the civilian casualties it inflicts while attempting to destroy the tunnels. While children die in strikes against the military infrastructure that Hamas’s leaders deliberately placed in and among homes, those leaders remain safe in their own tunnels.

Ari Shavit: In this sad war story, Israel is in the right.

• Attacking Ben Gurion may be Hamas’ undoing, argues Matt Gurney.

• Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, discussed Operation Protective Edge with YNet.

 

Hamas’ dilemma: Trust Egypt’s staged truce initiative or demand advance commitments

• Is Israel really obligated to supply electricity and cement to Gaza? Emmanuel Navon says no.

• House of God or Palestinian arsenal??

As long as it is beneficial to use mosques as bases of ?terrorism, Palestinians will continue to do so — and to lie about it.

• Why does Abbas now endorse Hamas demands? Khaled Abu Toameh answers:

Evidently, Abbas has reached the conclusion that unless he hurries up and declares his support for the Palestinian “resistance” groups in the Gaza Strip, his people will march on his office and force him to quit.

 

That prospect is probably why Abbas decided this week to send his wife and grandchildren to stay at the family’s residence in Amman, Jordan. According to various reports, members of Abbas’s families left Ramallah “secretly” and headed for Jordan amid increased criticism of the Palestinian Authority president.

• For more commentary/analysis, see David Aaronovitch, Aharon Lapidot, and Haroon Siddiqui, plus staff-eds in the Boston Globe and New York Daily News.

• For a sense of what the other side’s saying, see Queen Rania of Jordan, Foreign Policy, the Washington Post,

Rest O’ the Roundup

• A US federal judge ruled that Iran and North Korea are liable for damages that Hezbollah’s rocket attacks caused during the 2006 war in Lebanon. i24 News reports:

A special master will now be assigned to determine the amount of damages each country will be ordered to pay.

For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream and join the IDNS on Facebook.

 

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