We are on a roll! Today Guatemala officially opened its embassy in Jerusalem.
Right after the dedication, the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus held an event in the Knesset celebrating the two embassies newly dedicated in Jerusalem.
The Caucus – which has 19 members from diverse parties in the Knesset – seeks to promote cooperation between the Knesset and Christian leaders around the world in support of Israel. In the legislatures of 38 nations today there are Israel Allies Caucuses, speaking out for Israel.
I had the honor to be present for this Knesset event, and was deeply moved by the depth of feeling for Israel expressed by the Christian Zionists I spoke with.
When Caucus Chair MK Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beitenu) addressed the group, he alluded to how important it was to explain Israel’s situation – and he made specific reference to the events at the Gaza fence. This resonated with me, because I was already working on a posting addressing these events. Completed now, it follows below.
I had decided to move away from other issues and take the time to focus on this, because I find the readiness of leftists to swallow whole the propaganda that is being put out by Hamas deeply offensive.
In my last post, I wrote that people who believe what Hamas is saying want to believe it: They are biased against Israel from the get-go. But even as I recognize this, I have been shocked and angered by the calumnies I have been encountering.
As much as I would like to simply turn my back in contempt on what these people are saying, I cannot. I have a responsibility to my readers, and to Israel, to provide facts and context.
I provide a wealth of information here. I ask each of you, my friends, to share it broadly. Send it out by email and put it on your FB pages; write letters to the editor setting the record straight.
A stunning example of exactly how bad it can get is a May 14th opinion piece in the NYTimes, “A Grotesque Spectacle in Jerusalem,” by Michelle Goldberg.
I want to share a portion of what she wrote, and provide responses and context (all emphasis to her text is added). She opines that:
“Gazans, facing an escalating humanitarian crisis due in large part to an Israeli blockade, are demanding the right to return to homes in Israel that their families were forced from at Israeli’s founding.”
It is truly remarkable how many distortions of fact she managed to compress into this one sentence.
There is no Israeli blockade of Gaza! A blockade is “The isolation of an area by hostile forces in order to prevent the entrance and exit of traffic and commerce.”
In point of fact, Israel maintains crossings from Israel into Gaza so that traffic and commerce will be possible.
On one average day recently, 33 tons of produce and goods were exported from Gaza for commercial purposes, and over 12,000 tons of goods and equipment were imported into Gaza. Everything but dual use materials goes in – medicines, baby products, foodstuff, construction materials, household goods and a great deal more.
People also move in and out for humanitarian purposes – such as medical care in Israel. On the same day referred to above, 160 people crossed. With regard to non-humanitarian crossings, during the first three months of 2018, Israel has increased the number of crossing permitted at the Erez Crossing by 30%; of the 3,000 plus individuals who cross per month, 80% are Gazan merchants and businessmen.
(COGAT = Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories)
Some 800 trucks a day go into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing when the situation is normal.
With regard to the Kerem Shalom Crossing, the situation is surreal:
Two Fridays in a row, in the course of “peaceful demonstrations,” some of those demonstrators made their way to the Kerem Shalom crossing facility, on the Gaza side, and set it on fire. In the course of doing this, they “damaged pipelines carrying gas and oil into Gaza, which already suffers from a severe energy shortage.”
This picture is of the fire at Kerem Shalom on May 11:
A conveyer belt use to bring construction materials and animal feed into Gaza was also destroyed in the fire.
The IDF charged that “Israel along with many other countries is working to bring food, equipment, and fuel to the residents of the Gaza Strip, and Hamas is preventing them from entering…”
The IDF announced that Kerem Shalom would be closed so that repairs could be done – except for humanitarian situations.
Israeli officials were “astonished by the devastation and destruction Palestinians left in their wake.
“They’re bringing a disaster upon themselves.”
The arson attack was orchestrated by Hamas: senior Israeli defense officials reported that Hamas operatives divided rioters into groups and gave them specific instructions on which part of the crossing to attack.
The motive for this apparently insane behavior seems to be a weakening of the PA, which controls this crossing.
Before we leave this subject, allow me to share the latest information about the humanitarian goods sent into Gaza (emphasis added):
“On Tuesday, Israel facilitated the entrance of eight trucks full of medical equipment into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom Crossing…
“Four of the shipments were from the Palestinian Authority, two from the United Nations Children’s Fund and two were provided by the Israel Defense Forces’ Technological and Logistics Directorate.
“According to Israel, the IDF shipments included IV fluids, bandages, pediatric equipment and disinfectants, as well as fuel for hospital generators.
“However, on Wednesday morning…Hamas officials saw that the two shipments from Israel had labels identifying them as coming from the IDF and sent them back….
“’Hamas officials checked the trucks, saw that there were IDF stickers on the medications and said they were not prepared to accept medicine with IDF labels on it,’ said a COGAT spokesperson.”
For the record, there is a naval blockade of Gaza. This is necessary to prevent the smuggling of Iranian weaponry, including missiles, from being brought to Hamas. It is entirely legal.
While Israel is blamed, Hamas is clearly the cause of the humanitarian crisis. This terrorist organization co-opts large sums of money given to help the people, and uses it instead for weaponry and construction of tunnels. Tunnels are very expensive. See one example among many:
Referring back to Goldberg‘s original sentence:
There is no “right of return” – no right of refugees to demand that they be allowed to return to where they or their families had come from. It is a myth invented by Palestinian Arabs and their supporters, and UNRWA, to pressure Israel.
Nor were they all forced out. A large percentage of the Arabs fled of their own volition or were urged by their own leaders to do so. See:
And also this:
Goldberg gives the demand for return as the reason for the “demonstrations,” but in other sources other reasons are given, such as the moving of the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
We need to look at the reasons Hamas leaders give for the violence at the Gaza fence. In April, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said, the world should “wait for our great move, when we breach the borders and pray at Al-Aqsa…We are going to Jerusalem, millions of martyrs.”
While Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said the demonstrations would continue until the Palestinians return to “all of Palestine.”
Please see this very brief video of Sinwar in which he says “we will take down the borders and tear their hearts from their bodies.”
Continuing with Goldberg, she says:
“The demonstrators have been mostly but not entirely peaceful; Gazans have thrown rocks at Israeli soldiers and tried to fly flaming kites into Israel. The Israeli military has responded with live gunfire as well as rubber bullets and tear gas…
“But even if you completely dismiss the Palestinian right of return…it hardly excuses the Israeli military’s disproportionate violence. ‘What we’re seeing is that Israel has used, yet again, excessive and lethal force against protesters who do not pose an imminent threat,’ Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, told me by phone from Jerusalem…”
With this we have the ultimate outrage. She plays down the actions of the “demonstrators,” who were “mostly peaceful.” She could not say “entirely peaceful” because no one would have believed this. So she speaks of “trying” to fly flaming kites into Israel.
Trying? How benign she makes it all sound. We’re talking about arson kites that destroyed many acres of farmland. And they did more than “throw rocks” at soldiers. How about Molotov cocktails?
Here is a Hamas video of less than half a minute: “A beginner’s guide to a peaceful demonstration. Bring a knife or dagger or gun…keep it under your clothes…”
She claims that Israel used “excessive force” against protestors who were “not an imminent threat.” But let’s look at the scenario:
In the days before Nakba Day, senior Hamas leader Ismail declared:
“…the entire Palestinian people will be out on the streets of Palestine.
“We’ll turn the nakba that ended Palestine to a nakba that ends the Zionist enterprise…
“We won’t give up Palestine, from the river to the sea…”
On April 25th, Alex Fishman wrote (emphasis added):
“According to Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam, ‘teams for breaking through the fence’ have been training under the auspices of ‘the organizers’ – in other words, Hamas – and are supposed to throw hooks at the fence and pull it down until it collapses. Parts of the looped barbed fence installed by Israel along the border have already been removed in different places. The Palestinian side has appointed teams to ‘handle’ the gas grenades and built sort of catapults to launch Molotov cocktails at Israeli fields.
“The main goal of the riots, orchestrated by Hamas, was and remains to break through the fence allowing hundreds and thousands of civilians to run into Israeli territory.”
By Sunday, this was the situation:
“The Israeli military is gearing up for fierce ‘March of Return’ protests along the Gaza security fence on Monday, with more than 100,000 Palestinians expected to take part, and dire warnings from the IDF that hundreds plan to try breach the fence and carry out a ‘massacre’ of Israeli civilians.”
The threat of what was planned was ominous. It represented an imminent danger.
It was the obligation of the IDF to prevent a breakthrough at the fence. This they were able to do. And they are to be commended for this. Both Israeli lives and Israeli sovereignty were protected. That they were not eager to kill “demonstrators” is clear because they dropped leaflets twice warning people not to be tools of Hamas and risk their own lives at the fence. It was made clear to the civilian population that those who came to the fence were risking their lives. Similar messages were put out on social media.
“…intelligence gathered over the past few weeks suggests Hamas is paying Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip to charge the fence on the border with Israel during violent demonstrations.”
In recent days, Shabak – Israel’s secret service – has interrogated Arabs who have infiltrated into Israel from Gaza. Among the information that was secured:
 Hamas members in civilian clothing circulate among violent activists and supply gasoline for the kite-borne firebombs.
 Hamas encourages children and young people to cross the fence.
 Hamas terrorists themselves are prohibited from approaching the fence lest they be killed or captured by the IDF. However, should the fence be breached, then they are to enter Israeli territory armed – under cover of the mob – and carry out attacks.
 Hamas wants the activity to be seen in the international media as a popular uprising.
The clincher (not surprising): Shabak says Iran is transferring money to Hamas for the riots.
I close with this, which broke today : Hamas official Salah Bardawil said in a television interview that 50 of the 62 Gazans killed on Monday and Tuesday were members of Hamas. Islamic Jihad had already said three of their members had died.
So Hamas puts the lie to its own pretense that these were innocent “civilians” who were killed by the IDF.
VERY IMPORTANT: There have been charges that tear gas released by the IDF killed an eight-month old baby. From the beginning this raised questions about what an infant was doing there.
“A Gazan doctor told the Associated Press that an 8-month-old baby, who the Gaza ministry said died after inhaling Israeli tear gas on Monday, had a preexisting medical condition and that he did not believe her death was caused by tear gas.“
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.