Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Israel-Hamas Conflict - A Roundup

  • Israel has defeated a special unit of Hamas trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard; and two captured terrorists admit they were "surprised" by Israel's response to Hamas' rocket attacks (Israel National News reports):
    Two captured terrorists interviewed by Maariv/NRG say that Hamas was not expecting Israel's response to the escalation in missile attacks on Israeli targets that preceded Operation Cast Lead. One of them, a 52-year-old victim of a premature detonation who had already done time in an Israeli jail, said, "Hamas took a gamble. We thought, at worst Israel will come and do something from the air - something superficial. They'll come in and go out. We never thought that we would reach the point where fear will swallow the heart and the feet will want to flee. You [Israel] are fighting like you fought in '48. What got into you all of a sudden?"

    The second terrorist, a 21-year-old, said Hamas brought order to Gaza, but also brought fear. He noted that it was dangerous in Gaza for non-Hamas members, citing an instance of his being beaten and another in which he saw a friend killed when he went to get gas. "Now they're all gone," he said. "There have been no Hamasniks in the streets since the start of the campaign."

  • Palestinian "Fauxtography" GatewayPundit. "Using children's toys, like using children's shoes, is a very effective tool for the photographer turned propagandist."

  • Gaza's True 'Disproportion', by Carlos Alberto Montaner. Washington Post January 12, 2009:
    Here's another very important asymmetry. The Jews build underground shelters in all houses near the border; they close the schools and hide the children at the least sign of danger; they treat the death of a single soldier as a national tragedy; they do everything possible to rescue their prisoners, and protect the civilian population from the consequences of war. In contrast, the authorities in Gaza, drunk with violence, fire their machine guns irresponsibly into the air to express joy or grief (causing numerous injuries), do not hesitate to install their headquarters or hide their guns in schools, mosques or hospitals, use human shields to protect themselves, turn to suicidal terrorists and reward the families of such "martyrs" with money.

    One week before Hamas broke the truce and stepped up its rocket attacks against the Jewish state (the spark that set off this conflict), I was in Israel, where I had been invited to deliver a lecture at the University of Tel Aviv. As part of the contacts organized by my hosts, I visited the Wolfson Medical Center to learn about the program "Save a Child's Heart." I was very moved. It is a foundation devoted to providing heart surgery for very poor children, most of them from the Arab world. As it happened, I witnessed the hurried arrival of a tiny 5-day-old girl, who had to be operated on at once to keep her from dying. She was brought in by her mother, a woman in a black head covering that allowed me to see only her tear-filled eyes, and her husband, a small, bearded man who watched with amazement the indescribable kindness with which a group of doctors and nurses treated the baby. The family came from Gaza.

    Since the war erupted, I have asked myself constantly what became of them all.

  • Israelis near Gaza can’t lower guard - Sebastian Rotella reports from Sderot, Israel. Los Angeles Times January 15, 2009:
    Hamas units that build and fire rockets have suffered severe losses but retain hundreds of rockets in their arsenal, intelligence officials say. The Israeli officials warn that a pipeline used for smuggling arms and components through tunnels from Egypt will resume functioning unless a concerted military or diplomatic solution shuts it down.

    And Israeli leaders assert that ending the attacks has become more difficult because Hamas fighters resort to firing from densely populated areas in Gaza, using civilians as a shield against retaliation.

    "To surround yourself with innocent people and to launch it from within a city, from within a refugee camp, is not a tactical situation," said Avi Dichter, Israel's minister of public security, during a visit to Sderot on Tuesday. He said Israeli forces "can see the line of the missile in the sky and you know exactly where it comes from. But to respond with artillery to the middle of a refugee camp, I think that everybody understands that it's impossible."

    And bad news -- the rockets are getting more and more advanced:
    Hamas smuggled in explosives and chemicals enabling the production of a more advanced generation of Qassams with a range of up to 11 miles, said an Israeli intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons. The rockets had had a range of about 7 1/2 miles.

    In addition, militants developed a network of tunnels from Egypt to smuggle in more potent Grad rockets manufactured in China, Iran and North Korea and supplied by Iran, according to Capt. Ron Edelheit, a spokesman for the Israeli military.

    "The impact is much larger because the explosives payload is much bigger," Edelheit said. "The amount of casualties is much higher. If a Qassam hits a house, everything in a room might be destroyed. When a Grad hits an apartment building, it is so much larger it can take down the whole home."

  • Can we trust the casualty numbers? -- Stephanie Guttman reminds us that as you read about the Gaza death toll, remember Jenin:
    virtually every public official in the Gaza strip, including hospital administrators, is, in effect, a Hamas appointee. It is, after all, a totalitarian regime that has crushed any remnant of a free press and thrown dissenters off the roofs of buildings. Israel thus “seriously questions Hamas’s figures,” but at this point — obviously — it has no way of doing the kind of intense forensic investigation needed to issue its own more precise estimate.

    It’s time to recall another Israeli incursion in which Palestinians used casualty numbers seemingly plucked out of the air to justify its claim that Israel was employing “disproportionate force.” In the spring of 2002, after months of near-daily suicide bombings inside Israel, the IDF decided to make a major incursion into the Jenin refugee camp ...

    The last time the Palestinians protested a "massacre of thousands", the United Nations "found no evidence of such, supported IDF claims that about 45 Palestinians had died, mostly men aged 18 to 45." When it was claimed that Israelis had shelled the "western wing" of a hospital, it was later discovered that “there never was such a wing and, in any case, no part of the hospital was shelled or bombed.”

    In What is a "child"?, blogger Elder of Zion reminds us that, while statistics given to the Western media, without exception, refer to any Palestinian Arab victim in the violence who is under 18 as being a "child", a considerable number of young adults are employed in Hamas' terrorist activities.

Would this classify as child abuse?