July 27, 2014
Destroy Hamas? Something worse would follow: Pentagon intel chief

From the article:

(Reuters) - A top Pentagon intelligence official warned on Saturday that the destruction of Hamas would only lead to something more dangerous taking its place, as he offered a grim portrait of a period of enduring regional conflict.

The remarks by Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the outgoing head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, came as Israeli ministers signaled that a comprehensive deal to end the 20-day-old conflict in the Gaza Strip appeared remote.

At least 1,050 Gazans - mostly civilians - have been killed, and 42 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel have died.

Flynn disparaged Hamas for exhausting finite resources and know-how to build tunnels that have helped them inflict record casualties on Israelis. Still, he suggested that destroying Hamas was not the answer.

"If Hamas were destroyed and gone, we would probably end up with something much worse. The region would end up with something much worse," Flynn said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

"A worse threat that would come into the sort of ecosystem there … something like ISIS," he added, referring to the Islamic State, which last month declared an "Islamic caliphate" in territory it controls in Iraq and Syria.

Confined in the crowded, sandy coast enclave of 1.8 million, where poverty and unemployment hover around 40 percent, weary Gazans say they hope the battle will break the blockade that Israel and Egypt impose on them.

Israeli officials said any ceasefire must allow the military to carry on hunting down the Hamas tunnel network that criss-crosses the Gaza border.

Flynn’s comments about the conflict came during a gloomy, broader assessment of unrest across the Middle East, including in Syria and Iraq. Flynn said bluntly: “Is there going to be a peace in the Middle East? Not in my lifetime.”

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Ron Popeski)

July 26, 2014
‘No more deaths’: Thousands of Israelis protest the Gaza war | +972 Magazine

From the article:

Some 5,000 Israelis on Saturday evening protested the war in Gaza under the banner, ”No more deaths – Israeli-Palestinian peace, now.” The protest took place at Rabin Square in central Tel Aviv.

Speakers included Hadash MK Dov Khenin, an Israeli and Palestinian veteran from the organization Combatants for Peace, and Yifat Solel, the head of the Meretz party’s anti-occupation forum. Meretz, however, did not back the demonstration as a party. The speakers criticized the government for its attitude toward peace negotiations, and for resorting to war as a default policy. Demonstrators chanted “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies,” called for an end to the occupation and the siege on Gaza, and lit candles to commemorate the victims.

Roughly 300 right-wing counter-protesters were on the scene trying to reach the main demonstration. A large police presence circled the square in order to keep the sides separate. Four were arrested.

Some two hours before the protest was set to begin, police canceled it, citing fear of a rocket attack. The permit for the demonstration was reinstated only an hour before it began – by which time busses of protesters en route for Tel Aviv had turned back. Police ended the protest at around 10 p.m. – according some reports, because rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel, two hours before the a “humanitarian ceasefire” was to expire, and according to others, in order to prevent violence on the part of the counter-protesters.

July 25, 2014
Did Israel Just Start The Third Intifada?


(Image via Katie Zavadski / Abbas Momani / AFP / Getty Images)

Israeli government officials now admit that Hamas was not responsible for the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teens which sparked the recent escalation of hostilities, despite clearly stating early on that Hamas was responsible.  Katie Zavadski, who wrote the article linked above, points us to Musa al-Gharbi, who argues that Israeli officials were deliberately provoking Hamas:

All the illegal and immoral actions related to Operation Brother’s Keeper were justified under the premise of finding and saving the missing teens whom the Israeli government knew to be dead — cynically exploiting the tragedy to whip up public outcry in order to provoke and then confront Hamas. This pattern of deception continues under the ongoing military offensive in Gaza. For example, last week in collaboration with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Abbas, in its efforts to alienate Hamas, Israel announced a bad-faith cease-fire proposal, which Hamas was not consulted on and never agreed to but whose violation supposedly justified Israel’s expansion and intensification of the military campaign into Gaza.

If it’s true that the Israeli government lied about the time and cause of death for three Israeli teens in order to whip up support for a new war with Hamas, then it’s pretty clear that this was a war of choice. And while attempts to organize a ceasefire continue, it may too late to keep the number of casualties minimal, since some Palestinians in the West Bank are now claiming to have started the Third Intifada:

The epicenter of the protests was the Qalandiya checkpoint, which separates Jerusalem and Ramallah, while smaller protests reportedly took place in the West Bank towns of Bethlehem and Nablus. At least two Palestinians were killed and 200 others were injured after IDF troops returned fire to the protestors during Laylat al-Qadr, a holiday marking the night the first verses of the Quran are believed to have been revealed to the prophet Muhammad.

"In the West Bank, we need to take our resistance efforts to a higher level," a student named Na’el Halabi told Al Jazeera. "Gaza is not alone: we are part of the same struggle.”

This “day of rage” was evidently called for by Fatah, the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Often considered the preferred, more moderate alternative to Hamas by Western leaders, Fatah has recently felt pressure to build up support among its constituency by standing up to the West. Thursday’s protests are believed to be the largest since the end of the 2000–2005 uprising. Organized as the “48K March,” they were quickly branded with the “Third Intifada” hashtag on Twitter[.]

Maybe calling this the “Third Intifada” is just exaggeration from over-zealous protesters.  But either way, it is bad news for both sides.   Dropping bombs in Gaza is a sure way to provoke violence in the West Bank.  If these mass protests and clashes with security forces in the West Bank continue, the Israeli government may be looking at a lot more bloodshed than it originally anticipated.  

July 25, 2014
"My parents escaped from [Nazi] Germany. ‘Never again’ was always understood by me to mean never again for anyone. Speaking as a Jew, [what’s happening in Palestine] is a shonde. We’re driven by our tradition that says, ‘you shall not stand idly by,’ and we won’t stand idly by. I was shot at and arrested for principles of equal rights. I want a state where Israelis and Palestinians are safe [with] equal rights for all."

Dorothy Zellner

July 25, 2014
Protesters march in New York to protest the Israeli military’s latest intervention into Gaza, July 24, 2014.
Via Jewish Daily Forward

Protesters march in New York to protest the Israeli military’s latest intervention into Gaza, July 24, 2014.

Via Jewish Daily Forward

July 24, 2014

Lama Al Satari, five months old, was killed in Rafah on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 in an Israeli airstrike.
Via Humanize Palestine

Lama Al Satari, five months old, was killed in Rafah on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 in an Israeli airstrike.

Via Humanize Palestine

July 24, 2014
Al-Jazeera Gaza offices evacuated after direct hit by Israeli fire


Staff in Gaza said their 11th floor bureau was hit by two Israeli bullets as a crew was preparing to broadcast live from the balcony. “Two very precise shots were fired straight into our building,” said Stefanie Dekker. “We are high up in the building so we had a very strong vantage point over the area. But we have evacuated.” Al-Jazeera aired footage of their staff standing outside the building.

Nothing says freedom and democracy like shooting at the press.

LTMC: Must have been ”hiding Hamas’s rockets.”  More human shields, right?

July 24, 2014
"Three years ago, a team of Israeli documentary-makers produced a brilliant film about the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank entitled The Gatekeepers. For this, they persuaded five former heads of the Shin Bet, the nation’s security service, to be interviewed on camera. The outcome was fascinating, and devastating. Each chief in turn described the ruthless policies he had enforced to sustain Israeli dominance. Most agreed that repression had been counter-productive. Part of the explanation, they said, was that since the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish fanatic back in 1995, no Jerusalem government has pursued a serious political strategy for peace. The security forces have simply been left to impose varying degrees of repression, while Jewish settlers grab ever-larger areas of the West Bank and Jerusalem. In a remarkable moment of frankness, one former Shin Bet chief said: ‘Occupation has made us a cruel people.’"

Max Hastings

July 24, 2014
"I think my ancestors who were persecuted, tormented and exiled down the centuries for being Jews would be horrified to see what is being done in their name today. Maybe it’s crass to put words in the mouths of your dead relatives, but right-wing hawks have been putting their opinions in the mouths of my dead relatives for weeks, so I think I’m entitled to a say, too."

Laurie Penny

July 23, 2014
"Just as some within the Jewish community condemn Israel’s violent operation in Gaza by decrying “Not in my name,” we too must speak out against the unthinkable acts of violence that threaten to take place in ours. Anyone who claims to speak for Palestine while condoning acts of bigotry against our Semitic brothers and sisters should not be speaking on our behalf at all, let alone for those suffering in Gaza. Palestinians know firsthand what it’s like to be oppressed on the basis of identity; the last thing we should allow is for our peers and allies to hypocritically do the same."

Yasmeen Serhan, discussing recent violence by pro-Palestinian protesters in Paris.

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