Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Operation Cast Lead: Day 4

That's what the Israelis are calling the current counterterrorism operations against the terrorists in Gaza.

The US media continues to push the anti-Israel propaganda and shows their sympathies for the Palestinians despite the fact that the Palestinians voted for Hamas and their incessant war against Israel.

MSNBC attempts to curry favor for the Palestinians by engaging in a photo essay about how the airstrikes are ruining the typical day in Gaza. I recall no such articles or photo essays recounting how Israeli lives were disrupted almost daily for the past three years as the terrorists in Gaza fired wave after wave of kassams and mortars against Israeli communities within range.

I don't recall MSNBC writing to discuss the hardships faced by Israelis living in Sderot and how Israeli hospitals have to build underground bunkers so that they can carry out their basic mission to save lives - those of Palestinians included as they are able to seek care in Israeli facilities even as the Gazans continue their attacks.

The MSNBC FAQ on the ongoing conflict is blatantly one-sided and omits so many instances of Palestinian and Arab aggression so as to make the whole document practically worthless. In fact, the piece omits key details about the past six months:
In June 2008, Hamas and Israel agreed, indirectly via Egyptian mediation, to a cease-fire to halt missiles being fired into Israel and stop Israeli incursions into Gaza. The cease-fire lapsed less than a week before Israel's massive crackdown.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad violated the ceasefire from the outset, carrying out kassam and mortar attacks almost every day of the past six months. There was no cease-fire; it was a hudna, and only Israel was consigned to cease firing. Hamas and Islamic Jihad continued their firing with no/minimal reporting by MSNBC or other media outlets.

Each and every violation was downplayed by the diplomats and the media, which wanted people to think that they were isolated incidents and didn't threaten a wider war. Hamas saw this and knew that they could increase the pressure by increasing the terror against Sderot and neighboring communities. They continued their attacks, until Israel had enough. That was the precipitating factor here. Israel's political leaders finally had enough.

CNN's history/background piece is moderately better, but downplays the fact that the Palestinians have controlled their own destiny in Gaza since 1993, and that after 2005, there were no Israelis in Gaza. Israel operated simply to prevent Gaza from arming, which they have done via the smuggling tunnels to Egypt and from boats.

Of course, that gets offset by the fact that CNN claims that the world rallies to the Palestinian cause. What exactly are we talking about here? Protests in a dozen countries, many of them Muslim dominated, and many of those protests can be numbered in the dozens. Not exactly rousing support, but that's all CNN had to work with. (HT: Jammie)

Demands for ceasefires will only prolong the fighting - extending it until the next time the fighting flares up and Hamas has still longer range rockets and missiles to hit even deeper into Israel, perhaps all the way to Tel Aviv. The UN is very good at demanding ceasefires, but is awful at recognizing that there are true evil regimes and bad actors - and placing them on the same page as nations defending themselves from such aggression is bad precedent and par for the course for the diplomats. The UN is also good at making demands of Israel without demanding Hamas or the other terrorists from carrying out humanitarian gestures in return. Where are the demands that they release Gilad Shalit, let alone cease firing the kassams and mortars against Israel. The UN demands that Israel provide still more humanitarian aid to Gaza, even as Gaza's terror regime attacks Israel.

Hamas demands that Israel release 1,400 Palestinian terrorists in exchange for Shalit, which is more than a 1,000 more than when they first started demanding prisoner exchanges. There are unconfirmed reports that Shalit was injured in the initial airstrikes against Gaza, but I honestly don't know what to think of whether Shalit is even alive after more than two years being held by the Hamas thugs.

No other nation is put in the position of having to provide humanitarian and medical assistance and power and utilities and infrastructure to the very people seeking its destruction. Yet, that is precisely the situation that faces Israel on a daily basis.

The press also simply invents facts out of whole cloth, with the AP spinning that Israel would engage in a lull in airstrikes to evaluate the situation. Their only proof is a quote from Arab sympathizer and UNRWA lackey, Karen Abu Zayd, commissioner of the UNRWA, as their only support despite the fact that no Israelis said anything about a lull, pause, or other kind of reduction in pace of airstrikes against Hamas. UNRWA is self-interested in continuing the status quo of Palestinian refugees since its entire bureaucracy is predicated upon the continued existence of refugee camps, even those that exist in Gaza - territory wholly under Palestinian control. Hamas has no interest in shutting down the refugee camps and neither does UNRWA. Hamas' only interest is getting Israel to stop killing their terror minions.

Of course, the Arab/Islamic reaction is one of calling Israel's actions nothing short of a massacre and repeating canards such as claiming that Israel is engaging in a holocaust or genocide - terms purposefully used to deceive and debase the meaning and the true extent of what Israel is actually doing by specifically targeting the terrorists and the infrastructure supporting the terror campaign against Israel.

Hamas is attempting to goad Israel into launching a ground campaign before Israel is ready to carry one out. Hamas is taking damage to their infrastructure, but it will take a ground operation to assure the destruction of Hamas infrastructure and capture the top terrorists. Hamas is also calling on 1,000 "reservists" to join and stand with Hamas against Israel. They're trying to recruit more people to join with the terrorists and stand against Israel.

Apparently the feckless lame duck Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has learned a few lessons from the Hizbullah war; no talk about ceasefires. I'm still awaiting hearing about how Israel will accept nothing less than Hamas' unconditional surrender. That's a general prescription for Israel winning and improving its security and the long term chances for peace between Palestinians and Israel.

Palestinians must learn the taste of defeat and how Hamas has brought them nothing but death and destruction. They must know that the only way out of this mess is to repudiate entirely the Hamas doctrine.

The problem, of course, is that Hamas doctrine is Islamist at its core, and it would require its adherents to violate the core tenets of Islam. It would require an admission that Israel will continue to exist and that they simply cannot defeat Israel.

I want to remind readers what I wrote six months ago, when I considered the so-called truce/hudna came to an end:
I'd say that this truce is dead and Israel should resume its operations against the terrorists along with a retightening of its restrictions on aid and items entering Gaza.

If Israel lets these incidents slide, the Palestinians will rightfully conclude that they can continue to fire on Israel at will without facing repercussions.

The terrorists will deny and evade responsibility for breaking the ceasefire, and will whine and seethe should Israel retaliate against those terrorists for attacking Israel. They will claim that it was Israel who broke the ceasefire, not them, even as there's irrefutable proof that the Palestinians broke it.

The terrorists might even point to an IDF operation that killed an Islamic Jihad terrorist as proof that Israel broke the truce. Never forget for one moment that the Palestinians have not given up on the idea of destroying Israel or attacking it at the earliest possible moment. They have simply engaged in a hudna to buy time and space to regroup and rearm.
Everything I expected had come to pass. Hamas and the terrorists have indeed used Israel's reluctance to carry out reprisals after that first violation of the ceasefire to launch hundreds of kassams and mortars since. It is to Olmert's everlasting shame that he allowed such a situation to persist, and it is a damning indictment of Israel's political landscape that no one could find the wherewithal to force Olmert to leave following the release of the Winograd Report.

Jules Crittenden has an interesting analysis of where this leaves Israel and the peace prospects. I think his analysis overestimates Fatah's ability to govern Gaza given the way Gazans thoroughly rejected Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas in 2005 and 2006 during the Palestinian civil war (defenestrations show no love lost for Fatah in Gaza). Still, that may be the best chances for a lasting uneasy peace between Israel and the Palestinians; the specter of Iranian influence and domination of the region is spurring Sunni dominated countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia to oppose Iran in subtle and not so subtle ways, including tacit support for the elimination of Hamas, which is a proxy for Iran.

Egypt continues to show Gaza and Hamas no love. They continue to refuse to open their border crossing with Gaza. They will only open the border if the Palestinian Authority is in control. Hamas continues to fire the kassams at Israel.

390 separate Hamas targets have been hit in the Israeli operation since it began four days ago.

The IDF has launched a YouTube channel to get their video publicized and to circumvent the media machine that is inescapably biased against Israel. This is something they should have done long ago, but there's no time like the present to show the world the true nature of Hamas and how carefully Israel is operating in a densely packed civilian environment.

Even as the kassams and mortars rain down on Israel, Israel continues to send in humanitarian aid to Gaza. The UN will complain bitterly that it isn't nearly sufficient. Perhaps the UN would impress upon Hamas that they would be better served making bread and not bombs.

Here's video of Hamas loading Grad rockets onto trucks in Gaza as caught by Israeli aircraft in the course of an airstrike:

The BBC continues its long tradition of hysterical anti-Israel propaganda, claiming that Israel is engaging in atrocities by carrying out airstrikes against Gaza's population.

Maybe the BBC ought to be reviewing IAF video showing Hamas using those people as human shields as they stockpile, produce, and fire the rockets from the civilian areas.

As always, check in with Aussie Dave and Carl in Jerusalem for more updates. More than 600,000 Israelis are now within kassam and mortar range from Gaza. That number will continue increasing so long as Hamas remains in control and is capable of firing rockets at Israel.

The Czech Republic isn't tolerating the anti-Israel bias and is supporting Israel's actions against Hamas. Why is that important? The Czech Republic takes over as the EU President January 1.

Hamas continues goading Israel into launching a ground campaign questioning Israel's manliness to use airstrikes rather than ground forces. Funny, but Hamas is busy hiding behind the skirts of women and children when firing those kassams and mortars at Israeli civilians during the 6-month hudna that lasted all of five days before Hamas and Islamic Jihad resumed the rocket war against Israel. Who exactly is not acting like the responsible party? Hamas.

Who exactly within the Israeli defense establishment is calling for a 48 hour truce to pursue diplomatic options? I want names.

The reason that Israel is in the current mess is because the diplomatic option was pursued prior to achieving the tactical and strategic objectives. Hamas is still fully functional in Gaza and is still launching kassams and mortars against Israel. A diplomatic effort - a new hudna - will only mean that Hamas gets to crow about winning another war against Israel and use it as recruiting new terrorists to the cause and Israel will be under assault from the kassams for the duration.

It seems that Prime Minister Olmert has learned some of the lessons from the Winograd report. In any event, Hamas refuses to accept any such truce. For Hamas, it would be much better to watch Gaza reduced to rubble than to admit defeat.

Hamas is summarily executing people in hospitals who they believe were collaborating with Israel. Some were injured in the Israeli airstrikes, but Hamas thugs executed them in cold blood.
On Monday, Dr. Ashour was not the only official in charge. Armed Hamas militants in civilian clothes roamed the halls. Asked their function, they said it was to provide security. But there was internal bloodletting under way.

In the fourth-floor orthopedic section, a woman in her late 20s asked a militant to let her see Saleh Hajoj, her 32-year-old husband. She was turned away and left the hospital. Fifteen minutes later, Mr. Hajoj was carried out by young men pretending to transfer him to another ward. As he lay on the stretcher, he was shot in the left side of the head.

Mr. Hajoj, like five others killed at the hospital this way in 24 hours, was accused of collaboration with Israel. He had been in the central prison awaiting trial by Hamas judges; when Israel destroyed the prison on Sunday he and the others were transferred to the hospital. But their trials were short-circuited.

A crowd at the hospital showed no mercy after the shooting, which was widely observed. A man in his 30s mocked a woman expressing horror at the scene.

“This horrified you?” he shouted. “A collaborator that caused the death of many innocent and resistance fighters?”
The terrorists could care less about who lives and who dies. This is little different from the way they treated Fatah terrorists when Hamas took over Gaza in 2006. Hamas rules are pretty simple. You are either with them or you are against them. If you're against them, you will be shot and killed.

The kassams keep falling. This time it's Beersheba in the Negev.

The rocket attack on Beersheba (also transliterated as Beersheva) hit a nursery/kindergarden. It's on fire, but thankfully no one was inside as it was after dark. One of the rockets actually overshot Beersheba and landed in a field beyond the city.

Israel now says that they'd destroyed 30% of Hamas rocket arsenal.
The army said that the IAF struck 30 additional targets over the course of Tuesday, including seven Grad and five Qassam rocket launchers, rocket launching cells, rocket launching sites, weapons manufacturing facilities, Hamas outposts and armed terror operatives.

The IAF kept up a relentless string of attacks on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday, smashing a government complex, security installations and the home of a top militant commander.

According to a Military Intelligence assessment, the air offensive has destroyed a third of the Hamas rocket arsenal, Channel 10 television reported.
I call that a good start. The other 70% isn't going to get destroyed unless Israel carries on with its attacks against Hamas. Otherwise, that 70% will find itself destroying Israeli homes, businesses, fields, and inflicting Palestinian and Israeli casualties along the way.

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