Thu, 08/21/2014 - 10:02amToday’s Top Stories
1. Three of Hamas’s top Gaza commanders were killed in an Israeli air strike. Among them Raed Al-Attar, who played a prominent role in the abduction and five-year captivity of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and was also responsible for the abduction and murder of Lt. Hadar Goldin during Operation Protective Edge. Mohammed Abu Shamaleh was most recently involved in the July 17 tunnel infiltration of 13 Hamas men into southern Israel, near the town of Sufa. The third Hamas commander was named as Mohammed Barhoum, a senior Hamas operative in Rafah responsible for smuggling weapons into Gaza from neighboring Egypt. More background in The Times of Israel.
2. A senior Hamas official boasted during a conference in Istanbul on Wednesday that the group’s military wing was behind the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June.
“It has been said that it is an Israeli conspiracy, and I say it isn’t,” Turkey-based Hamas leader Salach Al-Aruri states.
“The al-Qassam’s mujahedeen were the ones to carry out [the abduction] in show of support for the prisoners’ hunger strike,” he adds, referring to Palestinian inmates held in Israel.
3. A record 168 rockets were launched at Israel on Wednesday. A breakdown of events can be found on YNet News. Meanwhile, a massive barrage of rockets has continued to rain down on Israel’s south, seriously injuring one Israeli. The Israeli government has permitted an additional 10,000 reservists to be drafted.
Israel and the Palestinians
• The fate of Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif is still unclear following an Israeli air strike on his home that killed his wife, baby daughter and another daughter whose body was later found in the rubble.
A Palestinian website posts an article stating that Hamas leader Muhammad Deif is killed by Israeli fire, and claims Hamas’s armed wing covered up the incident by erasing hospital files. The website also features a picture that it says is of Deif’s body. The photo could not be immediately authenticated.
The article was taken down from the Saham News website shortly after it was posted yesterday. According to Globes, which managed to screenshot the article before it was removed, it also featured the alleged death certificate for Deif, which may or may not have been fabricated.
More on Mohammed Deif here.
• A Canadian opposition party MP has quit the caucus over what she felt was an excessively pro-Israel stance on the current conflict in Gaza and demeaning party demands to toe the line.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair responded, stating his party’s stance on the conflict is “nuanced.”
• Also in Canada, the Ontario branch of the Canadian Federation of Students, representing more than 300,000 university students in the province, has unanimously passed a motion to boycott Israel.
• In Australia, a billboard equating Israel with apartheid-era South Africa has appeared beside one of the busiest roads in central Melbourne, prompting condemnation from the state government and Jewish leaders.
• Meanwhile, leading members of the Australian Muslim community have dismissed planned new terror laws, saying they are a response to a trumped-up threat. Included in their statement is this inappropriate reference:
It is instructive that similar issues about Australian troops travelling abroad to fight or Jews travelling to train or fight with the Israeli Defense Force are simply never raised.Commentary/Analysis
• Jason Reiskind argues in the Toronto Star that the UN human rights inquiry on Gaza is inherently biased:
Any legitimate legal commission would be bound to focus its investigation on Hamas’s glaring violations, including the inherent criminality of bearing arms without accepting the basic rules of warfare, the terrorist status, the intentional targeting of civilians and the use of civilians as human shields. Moreover, Hamas’s blatant act of aggression in initiating this war would be front and centre in setting the parameters for investigation.
Instead, the commission’s mandate presupposes the very facts that it ought to investigate. It is not being sent to determine whether violations of international law were committed, but rather to document “the crimes perpetrated.” Given the resolution’s condemnation “in the strongest terms” of Israel’s “widespread, systematic and gross violations” characterized as “wanton destruction,” it is clear from the outset that this will not be a credible investigation of the facts but a distorted affirmation of predetermined conclusions.
• Elliot Abrams addresses the media’s failure to state Hamas’s responsibility for breaking the ceasefire:
Now, it’s an obvious fact that Hamas broke the cease fire, and Israel then responded with air strikes–including the one aimed at Deif. But in the Telegraph, there was a “resumption of violence.” Like cease fires that break themselves, violence “resumes:” no human agency. But Israel is responsible because it launched air strikes and then abandoned negotiations in Egypt. That the Israeli negotiators withdrew after Hamas broke the cease fire is not mentioned, of course, because the predicate is never mentioned: that Hamas broke the cease fire.
Sadly, each day provides more and more examples of this unwillingness to state clearly that Hamas breaks cease fires. I will not offer a theory as to why, but it is certainly bad journalism.
• Former U.S. National Security Advisers Samuel Berger and Stephen Hadley call, in the Washington Post, for the return of the PA to Gaza:
For Israel, the PA’s return to Gaza offers the best hope for preventing the resumption of rocket, missile and tunnel attacks on Israel. Over time, PA security forces could take control of the heavy weapons now in the hands of Hamas and other terrorist groups and begin to disband their militias — steps that are fully consistent with Abbas’s avowed goal of “one authority, one law and one gun.” Any prisoners Israel agreed to release in return should be turned over to the PA government, not Hamas.
• Writing in The Times of London, Daniel Finkelstein says that while anti-Semitism was rarely an issue for him in the UK, it is now:
All this has been going on for quite a while. Yet there is no question about it, Gaza has made things worse.
Anti-Zionism, opposition to the creation of a homeland for Jews in Israel, is not the same as antisemitism, of course, and it is important to make that clear. It is absolutely and definitively not antisemitic to criticise Israel.
Yet at the same time much anti-Zionism is entangled with antisemitism and it is important to make that clear, too. There is much that is antisemitic in intent and much that is antisemitic in effect.
It is antisemitic to suggest that the world is being dominated by the great pariah state of Israel, defending its own interests through money and power. It is antisemitic to suggest that the “Zionists” control the media. It is antisemitic to elevate the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians high above all the wrongs being done, not least to Palestinians, by neighbouring states.
Anyone who doesn’t appreciate that at least part of this is fuelled by doctrine that preaches hatred against Jews is as ignorant as someone who suggests that all of it is.
And when someone throws a rock at a Jew, who is going to pick it up and ask: “Hold on, can we just be clear? Was this an anti-Zionist rock or an antisemitic rock?”
• In the New York Times, Deborah Lipstadt also weighs in on European anti-Semitism:
The rationales — “it’s just rhetoric,” “it’s just Muslims” — bother me almost as much as the outrages. Instead of explaining away these actions, cultural, religious and academic leaders in all the countries where these events have occurred should be shaken to the core, not just about the safety of their Jewish neighbors, but about the future of the seemingly liberal, enlightened societies they belong to. Yet when a Hamas spokesman recently stood by his statement that Jews used the blood of non-Jewish children for their matzos — one of the oldest anti-Semitic canards around — European elites were largely silent.
• As does Kenan Malik in the same paper:
At the same time, the emergence of “anti-politics,” the growing contempt for mainstream politics and politicians noticeable throughout Europe, has laid the groundwork for a melding of radicalism and bigotry. Many perceive a world out of control and driven by malign forces; conspiracy theories, once confined to the fringes of politics, have become mainstream.
Anti-Semitism has become a catchall sentiment for many different groups of angry people. The distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism has eroded, as many see Israeli action in terms of grand conspiracies. Thus someone can imagine that Israel would build gas chambers on the West Bank if it could get away with it.
• Ari Shavit carries on in the same vein in Haaretz:
But none of Israel’s sins can justify the return of Israel-hatred. Winston Churchill bombarded Dresden, Franklin Roosevelt bombarded Tokyo and Harry Truman destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No decent man in the world thinks that because of these disproportionate acts these great leaders became war criminals. Bill Clinton attacked in Serbia, Tony Blair attacked in Iraq and Barack Obama attacked in Afghanistan. No honest person in the world believes that because of those strikes Britain and the United States are illegitimate.
Only when Israel makes massive use of its power and only when Israel displays ugly fringe phenomena is the response a denial of its very right to exist. Only when Jews act like any other nation would act in similar circumstances is the result a rage at their very existence.
• Arsen Ostrovsky contends that there is a double standard between how the West treats Hamas and ISIS:
Every Western leader, including Ban-Ki Moon and President Obama repeatedly call on Israel to exercise more “restraint,” to avoid Palestinian civilian casualties. Taking aside for a moment that the Israel Defense Forces go to “unprecedented lengths” to avoid civilian casualties (many of which Hamas intentionally put in harm’s way), you will seldom hear a world leader calling on President Obama or the West to exercise ‘restraint’ against ISIS.
In short, the world seems to have one standard for the West dealing with terror, and a different one when it comes to Israel fighting terror. Is Jewish or Israeli blood really somehow cheaper?
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