Israeli delegation bound for Cairo to negotiate long-term ceasefire as 72-hour truce begins; large rocket barrage minutes before lull; IDF pulls out of Gaza, says it has neutralized known cross-border tunnels
The Times of Israel is liveblogging events as they unfold through Tuesday, the 29th day of Operation Protective Edge. Terror returned to Jerusalem Monday, as two attacks left one man dead and several more injured. In Gaza, the IDF said it had finished destroying Hamas tunnels. Prime Minister Netanyahu said the operation would go on until sustained quiet was guaranteed, but late Monday Israel accepted an Egyptian-brokered truce to start Tuesday morning, and several Hamas officials said they had accepted it. Rocket fire on Israel continued throughout the day. The IDF death toll stands at 64. Gazan health officials put the death toll there at over 1,900. Israel says some 900 were armed operatives.
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Dozens of masked Palestinian protesters hurled stones, Molotov Cocktails, and firecrackers at police officers near the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, before being pushed back into the Al-Aqsa mosque by security forces who were rushed to the area.
Five policemen were injured during the riots, and twelve protesters were arrested.
The rioting took place as thousands of Jews gathered nearby for prayers at the Western Wall on Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar, a day of mourning that commemorates the destruction of the first and second Jewish temples. According to tradition, both temples were destroyed, the first by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the second by the Romans in 70 CE, on Tisha B’av.
IDF troops, who were highly motivated during the fighting in Operation Protective Edge, expressed disappointment as the army finished withdrawing its forces from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning. "We could've done more," some of them said.
Tanks and APCs congregated in a gathering area on the Israeli side of the Gaza border, with troops waiting for further instructions and future deployment. Some of them were preparing to return to their posts in northern Israel and in the West Bank. An Armored Corp battalion has already started moving north overnight.
"We did a lot of growing up during the 29 days of fighting," one of the Armored Corps soldiers admitted. "We were under anti-tank missile fire and we were only a few meters away from terrorists who just wanted to hurt us. We're all motivated to bring the peace back to the residents of the south, but there's also the feeling of a missed opportunity."
Ground troops coming out of the Gaza Strip also felt like something was amiss. "We were always taught to fight and completely eliminate the threats to the state," Yossi, a Golani soldier said. "On the one hand, we miss home, but on the other hand there was no decisive victory here. (But) as long as the calm remains, we could live with that."
The tanks and APCs will be loaded onto transporters in the coming hours on their way back to their original postings, and the fighters are already thinking about the day after.
The late Congressman Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to serve in the United States Congress, frequently would comment that “The veneer of civilization is paper thin.”
During the war in Gaza, we have witnessed this flimsy veneer ripped to shreds. The façade of a policy disagreement with Israel’s operations in Gaza quickly evaporated and revealed the familiar old virus of anti-Semitism, a virus which has endured for centuries and for which there is not, any known antidote.
Within the past few weeks, we have seen Jews locked in synagogues in France, as an anti-Israel demonstration dissolved into an anti-Semitic demonstration. We have witnessed a brick being thrown through the window of a kosher butcher store in France, another kosher store was burned to the ground, and three other synagogues have been attacked. In Frankfurt, Germany, an anonymous caller to a rabbi threatened that he and 30 other Jewish families will be listed and stricken. In the Netherlands, a rabbi’s home was attacked with stones, twice in one week. Also in Germany, which should know better), demonstrators were given a policeman’s megaphone and were allowed to shout, Jews, to the gas chambers.”
Concomitant with this hatred comes a very selective memory.
The signs and chants of “Free, Free Palestine”, and “End the Occupation of Gaza” which are being robotically shouted in front of the White House as I am writing this, seem to ignore the vexing fact that there is no longer any occupation of Gaza.
I was in Israel in 2005, when every remnant of a Jewish presence was eradicated from Gaza when Israel withdrew its forces from there.This was a gut-wrenching and internally divisive decision for the state of Israel to make. Israeli soldiers were taught not to feel the pain, as they were instructed to uproot Jews from their homes. Jewish millionaires bought the greenhouses to give to the Palestinians, because they reasoned the nascent Palestinian state would need some sort of economic infrastructure. Some rabbis wanted to keep the synagogues, so that they would be turned into mosques. “After all”, they argued, “We all pray to the same God”. The moment the blue and white flag of the IDF was lowered, and the last soldier left Gaza, those greenhouses and synagogues were destroyed in a frenzied carnival of hate-infested anarchy.
“Land for peace” is a lovely concept in theory, that might work well with Canadians or Mexicans. In “Operation Protective Edge”, we have learned through the most painful way that is does not work at all with a people who believe that either the state of Israel and Jews everywhere must be eradicated immediately, as it says in the Hamas charter, or that they must be eradicated in stages, as it says in the Fatah charter
The question remains: how does Israel continue to survive when she is surrounded by people who are determined to destroy her and who use every bit of land ceded to them to launch a war to eradicate her?
For starters, we must begin with an open and honest re-examination of some of the premises of Oslo and to see whether or not they actually work in the Middle East. We have to acknowledge that Oslo was a huge foreign policy failure, and that it is time to go back to the drawing board. And secondly: we must stop doing things to prove to the world how far we are willing to go for the sake of peace. Not if it means a continuous wave of rockets onto Israeli cities and tunnels into their communities.
We must ask our liberal friends how much land they would cede to Boko Haram for the sake of peace, if they were firing rockets onto our cities, and burrowing tunnels under our daughters’ bedrooms, so that they could be kidnapped and murdered.
One look at a map tells you that Israel stands in the front lines between Western civilization and the world of radical Islam. And one look at a newspaper tells you that radical Islam is the scourge that is confronting the entire free world. By taking on Hamas, the brave soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces are fighting a war for the entire free, Western world.
The fact that people are not able to acknowledge this, and apply a double standard that they would never apply if they were under similar threats, to their own nations, speaks volumes to the virulence and intractability of the age-old virus of anti-Semitism. And it is time that we called it for what it is.
I am a daughter of Holocaust survivors, and I’m sad to say, I’m glad both my parents are no longer living. What they would see, to their horror, is déjà vu back to 1933 with an explosion of anti-Semitism, especially in Europe, the UK and even in the U.S. and Canada. Throughout Europe, where Muslim populations have grown substantially along with a left-leaning constituency, out-of-control violence against Jews and Israel has erupted, with the perpetrators using the Israeli-Gaza conflict as an excuse for the “old hatred.” This is, in part, a direct result of the media coverage of the conflict. The openly biased written and visual reporting has created a frenzy of anti-Semitism – even though much of this reporting has been, or will be, proven incorrect and to be simple disinformation propaganda.
In country after EU country, there have been violent anti-Israel demonstrations with signs reading such things as “death to Jews” and “no dogs or Jews allowed” (this was a sign seen by an elderly woman in Cologne, Germany who lived through the Holocaust). In France, Jewish businesses have been torched and synagogues attacked. The trend has also been visible in the US at demonstrations in Boston, Chicago and other locations. They have become violent where left-wing constituencies and large Muslim populations prevail. There is also the element of the universities, where anti-Israel sentiment is widespread and becoming a real danger in the United States. In addition, there is almost no outrage voiced by the U.S. administration or from the EU.
This whole situation is not a far cry from Kristallnacht.
Israel left Gaza in 2005 with agricultural and other infrastructure in place. Aid began to pour in from around the world. Hamas showed its gratitude by destroying the infrastructure left behind and using the supplies meant for new houses (i.e. building materials and cement) to construct an incredible fully-equipped underground tunnel system for attacks on Israel. Shortly after Israel left, the slow pounding of rockets began in the south of Israel – forcing citizens to live in shelters and in a constant state of terror.
Hamas is a terrorist organization, an arm of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood going back to the 3rd Reich, and its Charter calls for the destruction of Israel and all Jews. I won’t list all the worldwide media that have assisted in achieving this objective as that would run quite long. Suffice it to say, virtually no unbiased journalism abounds today where Israel is concerned.
Hundreds of rockets and missiles are shot daily directly at Israeli civilians. Hamas is using their own people as human shields, hiding and launching rockets and missiles from homes, hospitals, schools and playgrounds, knowing full well that Israel would have to strike back, increasing the amount of casualties and pressure on Israel.
Where was the world when the rocket attacks on Israel started? Why is it only Israel that elicits this type of condemnation when it defends itself? Had outrage been voiced and the real situation on the ground noted, this may have already ended without the casualties on either side. Ceasefire after ceasefire has been broken by Hamas – yet who gets blamed?
This is the purest form of anti-Semitism and nothing else.