12-hour humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas group went into force on Saturday morning, as top diplomats pressed efforts to secure a longer-term ceasefire.
Hamas said it and other groups in Gaza had reached “national consensus on a humanitarian truce”, and Israel later confirmed it would observe “a humanitarian window in the Gaza Strip”.
The Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza advised people not to approach bombed-out buildings and militant bases for fear of “explosive objects”.
The Israeli military warned Gaza residents who had been told to evacuate their homes not to return and said “activities to locate and neutralize tunnels in the Gaza Strip will continue”.
The appeals came after US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Cairo on Friday, said efforts to broker a longer halt to the fighting had yet to bear fruit.
On Friday night, the Israeli cabinet unanimously rejected a ceasefire offer drawn up by Kerry which Israel says is heavily tilted toward Hamas.
On Saturday Kerry flew to Paris where French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was to host him and their counterparts from Britain, Germany, Italy, Qatar, Turkey and the European Union.
Israel wants more time to destroy tunnels and rocket launching sites in Gaza, while the territory’s Hamas rulers want international guarantees that an Israeli and Egyptian border blockade will be lifted.
The Israeli government has also begun suggesting that Gaza be demilitarized as a condition for a permanent cease-fire so that Hamas cannot rearm itself ahead of yet another round of fighting. The current war is the third in Gaza in just over five years.
In the West Bank, which had been relatively calm for years, protests raged Friday against Israel’s Gaza operation and the rising casualty toll there. In the West Bank, at least six Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, hospital officials said.
Gaza terrorists have fired close to 2,500 rockets at Israel since July 8, exposing most of Israel’s population to an indiscriminate threat that has killed three civilians.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Friday that Israel’s military would continue to strike Hamas hard.
Israel-Hamas fighting seemed headed for an escalation after US Secretary of State John Kerry failed Friday to broker a week-long truce as a first step toward a broader deal and Israel’s defense minister warned Israel might soon expand its Gaza ground operation “significantly.”
Hours after the US-led efforts stalled, the two sides agreed to a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire to begin Saturday. However, the temporary lull was unlikely to change the trajectory of the current hostilities amid ominous signs that the Gaza war was spilling over into the West Bank.
In a “Day of Rage,” Palestinians across the territory, which had been relatively calm for years, staged protests against Israel’s Gaza operation and the rising casualty toll there. In the West Bank, at least six Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, hospital officials said.
The latest diplomatic setbacks, after several days of high-level diplomacy in the region, signaled that both sides are digging in and that the fighting in Gaza is likely to drag on.
The Israeli military said in a statement that Saturday’s 12-hour pause in fighting would start at 8 a.m. But it warned that the military “shall respond if terrorists choose to exploit” the lull to attack Israeli troops “or fire at Israeli civilians.” The military also said that “operational activities to locate and neutralize tunnels in the Gaza Strip will continue.”
A Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said earlier Friday that the group had agreed to the 12-hour lull, intended to allow civilians to receive aid and evacuate to safer areas.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Friday that Israel’s military would continue to strike Hamas hard, in order to deter it from firing rockets at Israel in the future.
“At the end of the operation, Hamas will have to think very hard if it is worth it to taunt us in the future,” Ya’alon was quoted as telling soldiers manning an Iron Dome anti-missile battery. “You need to be ready for the possibility that very soon we will order the military to significantly broaden ground activity in Gaza.”
“Hamas is paying a very heavy price and will pay an even heavier price,” he said, according to a statement by his office.
This is the lesson of previous rounds of fighting between the Israeli Defense Forces and terrorist strongholds. In Lebanon in 2006 and in Gaza in 2008 and again in 2012, Israel responded to rocket attacks on its cities with fierce counteroffensives. Fighting against a deeply dug-in enemy that both blended in with the local population and used it as a shield, Israel’s best efforts to avoid civilian casualties invariably proved limited. Incensed world opinion generated immense pressure on governments to convene the U.N. Security Council and empower human rights organizations to censure Israel and stop the carnage. These measures succeeded where the terrorists’ rockets failed. Israel was compelled to back down.
And the terrorists, though badly mauled, won. Admittedly, their bar for claiming victory was exceptionally low. While Israel must achieve a clear battlefield success to win, the terrorists merely had to survive. But they did more than survive. Under the protection of cease-fires and, in some cases, international peacekeepers, they vastly expanded their arsenals to include more lethal and longer-range missiles. While reestablishing their rule in the streets, they burrowed beneath them to create a warren of bombproof bunkers and assault tunnels. Such measures enabled Hamas, as well asHezbollah, to mount devastating attacks at the time of their choosing, confident that the international community would once again prevent Israel from exacting too heavy a price.
So the cycle continued. Allowed to fight for several weeks, at most, Israel was eventually condemned and hamstrung by cease-fires. The terrorists, by contrast, could emerge from their hideouts and begin to replenish and enhance their stockpiles. That is precisely the pattern established in the second Lebanon War and repeated in Operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense in Gaza. Hezbollah and Hamas sustained losses but, rescued and immunized by international diplomacy, they remained in power and became more powerful still. Israel, on the other hand, was forced to defend its right to defend itself. Jihadist organizations no different from the Islamic State and al-Qaeda gained regional legitimacy, while Israel lost it in the world.
The cycle can end, now and decisively. As Operation Protective Edge enters its third week , responsible world leaders can give Israel the time and the leverage it needs to alter Hamas’s calculus. They can let the Israeli army ferret Hamas out of its holes and make it pay a prohibitive cost for its attacks. They can create an outcome in which the organization, even if it remains in Gaza, is defanged and deprived of its heavy arms. Of course, Hamas will resist demilitarization, and more civilians will suffer, but by ending the cycle once and for all thousands of innocent lives will be saved.
Life in Gaza is miserable now, but if Israel is permitted to prevail, circumstances can improve markedly. U.S.- and Canadian-trained security forces of the Palestinian Authority can take over key crossings and patrol Gaza’s porous border with Egypt. Rather than be funneled into Hamas’s war chest, international aid can be transferred directly to the civilian population to repair war damage and stimulate economic growth. Terrorist groups and their state patrons can be put on notice: The game has changed unalterably.
And by letting Israel regain its security with regard to Gaza — with all the pain it entails — the United States and its allies will be safeguarding their own. Though bitter, the fighting between Israel and Hamas raging in Gaza’s alleyways is merely part of the far vaster struggle between rational nations and the al-Qaeda and Islamic State-like forces seeking their destruction. Relative to that global conflict, Operation Protective Edge may seem small, but it is nevertheless pivotal. To ensure that it concludes with a categorical Israeli win is in the world’s fundamental interest. To guarantee peace, this war must be given a chance.
As Hamas continues to target Israeli civilians with rockets and use Palestinian civilians as human shields, United Nations members calling for an investigation of Israel’s defensive operation to shut down the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.
The Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution Wednesday calling for an international investigation into alleged violations committed by Israel during its ongoing military defense operation.
The meeting was convened a meeting at the request of Egypt, Pakistan and the state of Palestine, which has been granted observer status at the U.N.
Member states during the meeting “condemned in the strongest possible terms” Israel’s military operation and passed a resolution demanding an “immediate cessation of Israeli military assaults” on what they referred to as the “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu was outraged by the vote, calling it a “travesty.” In a public Facebook post, he argued the U.N. had it exactly backwards.
“Rather than investigate Hamas, which is committing a double war crime by firing rockets at Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians, the UNHRC calls for an investigation of Israel, which has gone to unprecedented lengths to keep Palestinian civilians out of harm’s way.”
Israel’s envoy to the UNHCR, Eviatar Manor, responded to the accusations.
“There can be no moral symmetry between a terrorist aggressor and a democracy defending itself,” Manor said.
After the resolution was passed, he questioned how naming and shaming Israel would achieve anything and wondered when the U.N. would realize Hamas was the one perpetrating war crimes.
Throughout the course of UNSC debates, a majority of states condemned Israel’s actions and demanded an immediate cease-fire and de-escalation of the conflict. During an emergency session Tuesday morning, Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour went so far as to pull out graphic pictures of the dead and wounded, stating, “We are not just numbers, we are human beings.”
Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, in return, emphatically reminded U.N. representatives that the Palestinian government, Hamas, has been designated by several countries as a terrorist group.
If Israel were to lay down its arms, there would be no more Israel, he said.
“The equation is simple” he stated during the Tuesday emergency meeting. “When it is quiet in Israel, it will be quiet in Gaza. … Israel is fighting in Gaza, not against the people of Gaza.”
Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of all British forces in Afghanistan, is in Israel this week to lend support to the military campaign in Gaza and to take on take on detractors who claim the Israeli army is perpetrating war crimes there.
“No other army in the world has ever done more than Israel is doing now to save the lives of innocent civilians in a combat zone,” Kemp said in an interview with Channel 2 News, adding that when world leaders demand Israel do more, “perhaps Israel should ask what more it can do.”
Having served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Kemp is intimately familiar with exactly the kind of enemy Israel is facing, and the environment in which it is fighting.
“Islamic extremists around the world use very similar tactics,” the retired colonel explained, as he recalled Taliban using young children to attack his troops. “British soldiers have fought exactly this kind of enemy in Afghanistan and in Iraq. British soldiers understand what Israel is doing.”
Kemp went on to accuse some in the mainstream international media of culpability in Hamas’ war crimes.
“The media, in some cases, bear responsibility for the killing that’s taking place, because they are themselves projecting Hamas’ desired propaganda,” he said.
Congressional committees have a lot on their plate these days with the IRS, Benghazi, the VA fiasco, etc., but recent events dictate they must add one more — the role of the United Nations in Gaza.
The United States provides more financial support to the UN than any other country. As Claudia Rosett wrote in Forbes in 2011 (“Magic for U. S. Money for the United Nations“): “The U.S. is by far the biggest donor to the U.N., bankrolling 22% of the U.N.’s core budget, and roughly one-quarter of its far larger and murkier system-wide spending (estimated at somewhere upward of $25 billion).”
In other words, the UN takes a bucket of your cash and mine at a time when many people in our country are suffering. It therefore behooves Congress to make sure this money is being spent for good, or at the very least benign, purposes.
Unfortunately, evidence developing from the ongoing conflagration between Israel and Hamas appears to suggest the reverse. The UN — specifically the UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency), but other agencies as well — may have been actively supporting terrorism and terrorists in the Gaza Strip, even aiding with the storage of Hamas weaponry (missiles), whether deliberately or accidentally is unclear.
UNRWA admitted itself on two different occasions since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge began 16 days ago that they discovered rockets in their facilities.
Liberman said Israel was very “troubled” by these developments. “UNRWA schools were established to educate children in Gaza, but instead they are providing a hiding place for rockets meant to kill children in Israel,” he said.
Amidst news the Israelis have turned down secretary of State Kerry’s latest, apparently Qatar-inspired, ceasefire, not to mention the other day’s nauseatingly familiar anti-Israel fusillade from the mega-Orwellian UN Human Rights Council, comes word that Hamas had been planning a gigantic attack on Israel this September via its dozens of tunnels.
From the Gatestone Institute:
Hamas had apparently been preparing a murderous assault on Israeli civilian targets for the coming Jewish New Year Holiday, Rosh Hashanah, which begins on September 24, according anonymous sources in the Israeli security services, asreported today by the Israeli daily Maariv.The Hamas plan consisted of what was to be a surprise attack in which 200 fighters would be dispatched through each of dozens of tunnels dug by Hamas under the border from Gaza to Israel, and seize kibbutzim and other communities while killing and kidnapping Israeli civilians.
Assuming this to be true–and Hamas has already used the tunnels for a similar attack last week–questions arise. Why didn’t Israeli and U.S. intelligence know about the extent and dangers of these tunnels earlier — if they didn’t? And if they did, why didn’t they do something about it?
Well, we don’t know. But at least the Israelis are doing something about it now, even with resistance from the Americans.
Meanwhile, another culprit waits in the wings, perhaps the greatest enabler of all of Hamas terror — the United Nations. I strongly suspect the UN has not just been consistently biased and hateful toward Israel, it has also — at the very least — looked the other way as mass murder and kidnappings (sedatives and handcuffs have been found in the tunnels) were being planned against Israel’s citizens.
We already know that Hamas hid missiles in at least two UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) schools in Gaza. Ban Ki-moon claimed to be shocked, but I predict he will be really shocked if a full investigation were made because there is far worse.
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