It is the end of the 23rd day of Operation Protective Shield. As of writing, 56 Israeli soldiers have been killed and several times that number have been wounded. The government is being pressured from within and from without, by those who want an all-out victory and those who want an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal.
Friends Don't Behave This Way! Friends are supposed to encourage, to come alongside and help, to be there with an outstretched arm that intends to comfort, to share a wise word of counsel - not with a pointing finger and demands, subtle and not so subtle, that would only make the situation worse.
It seems that in addition to the Hamas War - 2014, another conflict is brewing, one that begins to reveal whether friendships will stand the test of disagreement and be able to weather the storm of growing distrust.
There can be no doubt that Israel is the greatest ally of the United States in the Middle East. But, there is increasing doubt whether theUnited States really understands what is happening in this area of the world, a doubt which clouds over a long-standing friendship that has been beneficial to both countries since the modern State of Israel came into being.
Last weekend provided Israel with considerable cause to be concerned over the intervention of the U.S.in the present war. Secretary of State John Kerry pushed for a cease-fire last week that succeeded in uniting most of the political factions in this country against it.
Even the ultra-leftist Tzippi Livni came out against it. Kerry completely capitulated to Hamas. And, if that were not enough, the "Palestinian" Authority headed up by Mahmoud Abbas also rejected it.
In short, the proposal was so far out of line and slanted in favor of the Hamas terrorist organization as to cause reasonable people to wonder whether Kerry has a realistic handle on the situation here. Notwithstanding his "frequent flyer" status to this region, he either didn't grasp what the problems are surrounding the conflict, or he understood them, but chose to ignore them, which would be far worse.
If that wasn't enough, President Barack Hussein Obama called Prime Minister Netanyahu this past Sunday evening, to impress upon him "the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian cease-fire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 cease-fire agreement."
If we stop and look at that statement for a moment, we see that this was a one-sided demand made upon Israel for an "immediate, unconditional ... cease-fire". Obama's demand was for the benefit of Hamas.
For that terrorist organization, "cease-fire" simply means that we "cease" while they "fire". And so it has been with all of the cease-fire agreements that have been entered into to date, including the four-hour cease-fire that Israel agreed to today, during which Hamas fired at least 25 rockets and mortars into Israel.
Before reporters could print out a new story about any of the cease-fires that went into effect, Hamas violated them with renewed missile attacks against Israel. There may have been a "strategic imperative" for the U.S., but not for Israel.
Washington officials were upset, not only that reports of the proposed cease-fire were made public, but that Israelwas criticizing Kerry over the one-sided, pro-terrorist proposal. Think of it: we are being pelted with missiles and with mortar attacks that took the lives of 10 soldiers in 24 hours and officials in the U.S.are upset that we saw through the blatant effort to tie our hands so that Hamas, an al-Qaeda wannabee, could take better aim at us to kill us.
The great concern expressed by both Obama and Kerry is the rising number of civilian casualties in Gaza. They join others around the world who condemn Israel in this regard, ignoring the fact that Israeli civilians have suffered and died for years because of constant attacks by Hamas and its terrorist affiliates.
What Obama complains about today, he supported in 2008. While visiting the city of Sderot, which has now suffered from 13 years of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Obama was asked then how he would respond if missiles were fired on Washington. His respond was very clear: "If someone would shoot at my home, where my two daughters are sleeping, I would do everything to stop him - and so I expect that Israel will do."
Now that Israel is doing it, not only to protect the citizens of Sderot, but all of Israel, Obama is doing an about-face and, in a practical way, is abandoning Israel. And now, the White House has condemned Israel's shelling of a U.N. school in the Gaza Strip. If the U.S.condemns Israel, other countries will immediately follow suit, even those which had up until now, supported Israel's actions.
What seems to be a lack of understanding by individuals and nations alike is that if Israel had wanted to carry out some form of "collective punishment", it could have flattened Gaza within the first day or two of Operation Protective Shield.
Instead, it made and continues to make every effort to minimize civilian casualties, pursuing a policy of taking the moral high ground. But, this is war and in war there are civilian casualties. Unlike Hamas, which "targets civilians",Israel targets the armed terrorists and their means of carrying out terrorist attacks.
Hamas is responsible its people staying in harm's way and Hamas is the one that benefits from showing the gruesome images of dead children, which evokes sympathy stirred up by the Western media. It doesn't care about the lives of the people living in Gaza, or the lives of anyone else for that matter.
It is not looking for either coexistence or compromise, but rather conquest. As stated by Mosab Hassan Yousef, a Hamas defector who worked for Israel's security service for 10 years, and is the son of one of Hamas's founders: "The destruction of the state of Israel is not the Hamas final destination." The goal of Hamas is to establish an Islamic state "on the rubble of every other civilization."
It seems that some in Europe are more enlightened than the White House and its present administration, in that some Europeans are in favor of the demilitarization of Gaza, whereas Obama just wants to return to the conditions of a former truce that didn't work and will not work in the future.
The Moral Failure of the Media. Sensationalism has always sold newspapers. But, technological advances have allowed satellites to broadcast images of death and destruction right into our living rooms. Transmissions through cyberspace allow even more gruesome images to be brought to wherever we have a computer or a cell phone. Following the lead of Hollywood, the mainstream media understands that its viewing audience reacts to blood and guts.
Unlike earlier times when the good guy always won and the bad guy was either killed or sent to jail, today's full-color images result in turning people's thoughts and moral perspectives upside down. A blatantly evil, publicly condemned, terrorist organization is receiving world sympathy, while its victim is being accused when Hamas' plans backfire and its own citizens are being killed instead of Israeli citizens.
But did its plans really backfire? Not if Hamas expected that the media would back it up as the underdog. And the mainstream media, knowingly or ignorantly, has played right into the hands of Hamas.
The media rarely points out that Israel has accepted cease-fires that have been rejected by Hamas. There is hardly any mention that notwithstanding the Gaza War,Israel has supplied Gaza with humanitarian aid, water and electricity (until a wayward Hamas missile knocked out the electric power line to Gaza).
Few media outlets made mention of the fact that a field hospital was set up by Israel for the sole purpose of providing immediate medical assistance to civilians from Gaza. There was hardly any mention of the fact that Israel even treated terrorist casualties in Israeli hospitals.
If that was not enough, the media has worked to create a mindset that places blame on Israel for the civilian casualties in Gaza, rather than reporting the facts: that civilians are ordered by Hamas to ignore early warnings to evacuate from certain targeted areas; that civilians are often threatened with harm, or actually beaten, if they fail to listen to the directives of Hamas in this regard; that women and children are used as human shields, so that Israel would not retaliate at command posts and rocket-launching sites.
But Hamas doesn't care about its civilians and executes them without trial, even if they are only suspected of being against them or suspected of collaborating withIsrael.
There is so much to report about the evil of Hamas, but the media ignores it. Rather, it is easier to write about Israel and to condemn Israel, not for defending itself, but for defending itself too much! I wonder how these same reporters would react if some terrorists showed up in their own back yard. Hamas operatives give us an opportunity to see and hear what they have to say about the tunnels.
The hypocrisy of the media is appalling. To the northeast of Israel, some 180,000 civilians have become casualties of the war in Syria. ISIS massacred civilians in Iraq and in other parts of this region. Where is the international outcry and the U.N. investigations?
The media proudly jumps on almost every word of Kerry when he says something against Israel, including remarks about Israel's failure to avoid "Palestinian" casualties. It is easy to criticize and to condemn. But, the media has failed to indicate what more Israel could do to further minimize civilian casualties without endangering the lives of its own citizens.
In reality, the main media should take a good, hard look at its own immoral behavior. It may come to the realization that its encouragement of a terrorist organization like Hamas may actually have been a cause of the deaths of so many civilians. Maybe the folks in Sweden will come up with a Nobel Prize for Israel bashing.
There are tunnels and ... there are more tunnels. P.M. Netanyahu has indicated that Operation Protective Shield will continue until the tunnel threat is stopped. If that is truly the case, then we are in for a long war. While I'm not a fan of CNN and would think ten times before I would consider watching it, still, its reporter, Wolf Blitzer, was able to get inside of a Hamas terrorist tunnel discovered by the IDF. It is worth the watch.
But, the former head of Israel's Intelligence unit recently claimed that there are some 5,000 tunnels inGaza, some of which are very short, while others extend for a kilometer or two. Some of them are interlinked. He said that hundreds are smuggling tunnels on the border with Egypt, while Israel knew of 31 tunnels that were intended for attacking Israel.
Apparently, it did not know about the rest of them. Unless the IDF is able to get its hands on a master schematic, showing where all of the tunnels are, the not-so-pleasant conclusion is that while we may find many more than the present 32 that were already found, we will not be able to find them all. And if we don't bring about a decisive end to the tunnel-making ability of Hamas, it will begin to repair the tunnels and/or make new ones as soon as our troops leave Gaza.
It seems almost incredible that there would be so many tunnels under Gaza. But when we stop to think about it for a moment, it would make sense, even if there were only 1,000 tunnels, instead of 5,000. Much of the economy of Gaza was based on goods smuggled in from Egypt and the current leadership of Gaza would charge a surcharge on all goods that were smuggled in, which explains, in part, how Mashaal and Haniya (of Hamas) were able to acquire so much wealth.
The tunnels were also used for smuggling weapons and military equipment for ultimate use against Israel. If the number of tunnels is only 10% of what was reported by the former head of the intelligence unit, then we have our work cut out for us.
Sadly, Israel has, in good faith, supplied Hamas with much of the materials needed to build those tunnels. According to the IDF, since the beginning of 2014,Israel has supplied construction materials to Gaza which were intended for the citizens there and to help build a civilian, economic infrastructure.
However, Hamas has used 4,680 truckloads of building supplies, including 181,000 tons of gravel, iron, cement wood and other supplies which have passed through the Kerem Shalom crossing.
There is another factor which helps explain the hesitancy of the present Israeli government to destroy the entire length of the tunnels that were discovered by the IDF. When we read about Israel destroying a Hamas terrorist tunnel, what it really means is that a portion of the tunnel fromIsrael to a certain area inside Gaza has been destroyed.
Going through the entire length of the tunnel could put our troops in considerable danger, due to booby-traps closer to the tunnel opening inside of Gaza. Moreover, if we were to blow up several tunnels, it could weaken the foundations of the buildings that are over the tunnels, resulting in the collapse of those buildings, which would lead to considerably greater numbers of civilian casualties.
Inasmuch as the stated goal of the government is to remove the threat to Israel posed by those tunnels, the security cabinet needs to make a decision whether to move further into Gaza or to withdraw. If we move in, the fatalities, which now number 56, as well as the number of wounded, will considerably increase.
There are tremendous pressures on Netanyahu from outside of Israelto declare a cease-fire and get out of Gaza. However, nationally, polls indicate that he is being encouraged to continue Operation Protective Shield until all of the tunnels are destroyed. Some want to continue until Hamas is eliminated or brought to its knees.
Moving forward has its problems, as indicated. But not completing the job would be worse. The mentality of the Middle East is such that if we accomplish only 98% of our goals, our enemies would latch onto the other 2% and claim a victory. In other words, if we don't fully accomplish our stated goals, Hamas and other terrorist groups will see it as though we lost, which would encourage them to fire more rockets and mortars against us.
Netanyahu and his cabinet need much wisdom and courage in these days. A day is coming and is not too far off, when God will "judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation and never again will they learn war." (Isa. 2:4-5)
And THAT is part of what's happening in the Gaza War - 2014.
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my savior, You save me from violence [in Hebrew: violence is the word hamas, which is spelled differently from Hamas] (2 Samuel 22:3)
Thus says the LORD, "For three transgressions of Gaza and for four I will not revoke its punishment, because they deported an entire population to deliver it up to Edom. So I will send fire upon the wall of Gaza and it will consume her citadels." (Amos 1:6-7)
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing, Marvin
Posted by Marvin Kramer