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January 10, 2009: Chazak! Chazak!

February 25, 2009

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)

When we complete the reading of a book of the Torah, as we did this Shabbat with the completion of Breishit (Genesis), the congregation rises and says Chazak Chazak V’Nit’chazeik — Be strong, be strong, and we shall be strengthened.

Never have these words seemed more meaningful than they do now, as we face our challenges. And, looking at these words, as I did this morning, with a full heart, I saw a new wisdom in them. As we are strong, so does further strength come to us.


I have information on one more death: Sgt. Amit Robinson, 21, a tank crewman from Kibbutz Magal. He was killed by a sniper. His ultimate sacrifice is noted gratefully.


As anticipated when I completed Friday’s posting, the Security Cabinet decided not to accept the UNSC resolution regarding an immediate ceasefire.

My first thought, with regard to this, was that Hamas, in launching those 25 rockets Friday, had made it impossible for us to stop fighting. But the other piece of the story is the so-called Egyptian plan to prevent smuggling from the Sinai.

The statement from the Prime Ministers office immediately after the Cabinet meeting addressed both issues:

“The State of Israel has never agreed that any outside body would determine its right to defend the security of its citizens.

“The IDF will continue operations in order to defend Israeli citizens and will carry out the missions with which it has been assigned in the operation. This morning’s rocket fire against residents of the south only proves that the UN Security Council Resolution #1860 is not practical and will not be honored in actual fact by the Palestinian murder organizations.”


According to Haaretz, attempts to broker a ceasefire fell apart because Israel was dissatisfied with Egyptian plans (such as they may be) to prevent Hamas from smuggling weapons. At the end of the day it turned out that Egypt would not allow foreign forces on its side of the border with Gaza, it would only accept “international technical support.”

A senior European diplomat reported that, “The truce talks are going nowhere at the moment. There is a growing sense that the Egyptian-French plan is not going to work.”


And so, the war effort in Gaza will intensify, as we enter the third stage of the operation. This is essential to our survival as a nation, and the nation is of one mind (90% of our citizens) about the need to hit Hamas hard. The heaviness of heart comes with the knowledge that some of our young men — please G-d the absolute minimum possible — will be lost defending the nation.


Our Air Force has dropped leaflets warning the populace of the coming escalation:

Strip residents: Two days ago, the IDF dropped leaflets in Rafah, warning residents and instructing them to leave their homes for their safety,” the leaflet read. “As Rafah residents complied with IDF instructions, civilians not involved in the fighting were spared any harm.”

“In the near future, the IDF will continue to attack tunnels, arms caches, and terror activities with greater intensity all across the Strip. For your safety and the safety of your families, you are required to refrain from staying near terror elements or sites where weapons are being stored.”


We have opened a Humanitarian Affairs Coordination Center (HACC) in Tel Aviv, which coordinate between the different organizations operating in the field and the IDF, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. Its purpose will be two-fold: to expedite evacuation of foreign nationals from Gaza and facilitate the flow of food, fuel and supplies of goods to the humanitarian groups in the field.

Organizations represented at the center include the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), USAID, World Food Program (WFP), the European Commission, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East (UNSCO), United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Representatives from Israeli governmental agencies and various IDF departments are also located at the center.


The notion of what we are responsible for in the course of this war has reached the point of the ridiculous. We are already going above and beyond. Now the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and Adalah (a totally pro-Arab Israeli organization) have petitioned the High Court to require Israel to evacuate all wounded civilians from Gaza.

We’re in a war, guys! Get real!

We have transferred several civilians to our hospitals, as well as two Palestinian sharpshooters (don’t have the details on this). Additionally, since the war began, we’ve transferred 36 Gazans who are ill for treatment in Israeli hospitals.


And now the Red Cross is complaining that we’re not letting them have quick enough access to wounded civilians. They have alluded in particular to their inability in one instance to speedily reach four children still alive when their parents were not.

Why did the IDF not permit the Red Cross speedy access? The IDF said the delay was the result of heavy fighting in the area. But, complains the Red Cross, “the Israeli military must have been aware of the situation…” Huh?


This entire tone reflects a most offensive attitude: one that suggests that we are responsible for the civilian injuries and deaths, and not Hamas, which is deliberately locating in heavily populated civilian areas.

And there is a further issue: That is the question of who is a civilian. The charges regarding how many civilians have been killed or wounded is dependent upon this definition. But Hamas is not a regular army with all its troops in uniforms.

According to Avi Bell, a professor at Bar Ilan University Law School, the definition of combatant is different when it is regional, and does not involve two states at war — and that many see the definition as much broader in a regional situation such as we have now with Gaza. “Israel considers a combatant someone who is actively involved in planning the fighting, even if they are not armed.” Combatants, he said, “can also include inactive reserve forces.”


This leads to a mention of the flow of accusations from the UN and specifically UNRWA. It appears that UNRWA at this point is serving blatantly as a PR mouthpiece for Hamas.

I’ve already written about the UNRWA accusation that we shelled a school where civilians were hiding, but where the IDF says a cell of rocket launchers was hiding and from which mortar shells were being fired.

But there have been two incidents since, one of which I’ll deal with here: It took place on Thursday, during the self-imposed Israeli lull in fighting instituted to allow humanitarian goods to get through. A convoy of UNRWA relief trucks was making its way in Gaza, having gone through the Erez Crossing, when the driver was shot dead and two other workers were wounded. UNRWA immediately charged that the IDF has shot their driver.

It’s important to note that UNRWA personnel behaved as if they knew immediately and with much certainty who has shot their driver — no delay to allow an investigation. They actually responded with great drama, announcing they wouldn’t send in any more relief trucks because the IDF wouldn’t guarantee their safety.

Of course, this made foreign press, and the damage was done. It was only later that UN sources admitted that they weren’t sure which way the truck was headed when hit or if tank shells had hit it.

The IDF has now released a statement, following an investigation, in which it says we did not hit the truck. The IDF says the matter of who may have shot at the truck is still being investigated.


The wounded workers were evacuated to Israel and it’s worth noting that the Magen David Adom workers involved in the evacuation reported that soldiers in the field had told them that Hamas snipers had targeted the UNRWA workers.

UNRWA has resumed operations but its official statement in no way acknowledges even the possibility that it might not have been IDF that killed its driver.


According to the Guardian, advisors to president-elect Obama are telling him to initiate low-level or clandestine talks with Hamas, because ostracizing Hamas is counterproductive.

This is bad news, although not unexpected, if it is true.

It is not possible to constructively negotiate with Hamas, a terror organization sworn to Israel’s destruction. Strengthening this group or granting it credibility will work against what we’re attempting to do now.

Obama is echoing a similar refrain with regard to Iran. At a press conference he reiterated his concern that Teheran is “a genuine threat to US security,” and declared that he would have more to say on the matter after inauguration. But he indicated that he believes diplomacy should be put into play more.

Uh oh. Let him not do too much damage before wising up, please.


Reports are that advisors to Turkey’s prime minister have met with Hamas in Cairo.


According to Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas is no longer president of the PA; according to Abbas, he is. The argument has arisen because PA law calls for the president and legislature to be elected together (which is why Abbas says he has a year to go, as that is when the legislative elections will occur). But the law also says that the presidential term is four years, and Abbas has completed this length of service, as he was elected to replaced Arafat, a year before the legislative elections.

A great deal would have been made of this by Hamas, were it not otherwise occupied in Gaza now — as it is they’ve simply noted it, and have no intention of attempting to call for elections. This is something to watch down the road, however.


A couple of readers have written to say that the correct number of the SC resolution on the ceasefire is 1860, and that I had it wrong. Indeed that is the case, and I stand corrected; the number I used, it seems, was the number of the UN press release announcing the resolution. Sorry.


I had written last about the fact that the resolution was not binding. Several readers have written to point out that only Chapter 7 resolutions are binding. Indeed, but I was still hoping to secure information regarding the Chapter that applies to this resolution (although it becomes less relevant now).

I would like to thank Salomon, who has sent me these very pertinent comments with regard to the SC resolution:

“All those UN member states (mainly France and the EU) who drafted or supported UN Resolution 1860 should be ashamed for not abiding by their binding obligations to fight terror, as clearly spelled out in UN Security Council Resolution 1566, passed under Chapter VII in October 2004. Some excerpts follow:

“'[The UN Security Council] calls upon States to cooperate fully in the fight against terrorism, especially with those States where or against whose citizens terrorist acts are committed …(Article 2)’

“'[The UN Security Council] recalls that criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public …are under no circumstances justifiable by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other similar nature, and calls upon all States to prevent such acts and, if not prevented, to ensure that such acts are punished by penalties consistent with their grave nature.“ (Article 3)'”

The hypocrisy of the UN knows no bounds.

Anne Bayefsky, of Eye on the UN, notes that the Security Council managed to pass a resolution without mentioning Hamas by name.




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