Tag Archives: Hamas

Palestinian state

What Netanyahu talks about when he talks about a Palestinian state

Does Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have a vision for the Palestinian issue? Does he know what he wants?

I don’t believe people who say that he doesn’t.

For instance, in an oped today in Haaretz, David Landau writes:

The British elder statesman Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a proud Jew, pointedly told delegates at a conference in London last week that he has never been able to get Benjamin Netanyahu to answer one straightforward question: “What is your strategy? I understand your short-term tactics, but what is your long-term strategy?” That meant, said Sir Malcolm, that Netanyahu doesn’t have one or, worse, that he doesn’t want to share it because it does not provide for a viable, contiguous Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel.

But one only has to look at Netanyahu’s speeches and actions to understand what Netanyahu talks about when he talks about a Palestinian state. Continue reading

Forecast Israel 2012

What’s in store for Israel in 2012?

Will Israel attack Iran’s nuclear facilities? And will the attack succeed? What will Iran’s retaliation look like? Will there be Knesset elections in Israel, and what effect will this past summer’s social protests have on the country’s political landscape? What will become of Egypt and Syria, Israel’s large and unstable neighbors? What of the peace process with the Palestinians, now that Hamas and Fatah seem to be moving closer to a unity government? What of the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Sinai – a badlands awash with weapons, terrorists, and economic migrants? And who will win the US Presidential elections towards the end of the year, and how big a part will Israel ultimately play in the campaigns of both Republicans and Democrats?

So many questions and possibilities present themselves in the coming year. Here are some trends I believe are worth looking out for in the coming year. Continue reading

Some thoughts on the Gilad Shalit deal

1. Hamas number 2 Mousa Abu Marzouk has apparently opened a Hamas office in Cairo to prepare for a new base for the terror group. This is an extremely interesting development, as Hamas’ offices in Damascus are looking rather shaky the deeper Bashar Assad’s Syria sinks into oblivion. Will Hamas leader Khaled Mashal join Marzouk? If and when Hamas leaves Syria, what will that mean for the organization, and its new relationship with Egypt? It’s natural for Hamas to be based in post-Mubarak Egypt, where the Muslim brotherhood [Hamas' mothership] is a resurgent political power and is sure to play a prominent role in any future political constellation there. If and when Mashal leaves Syria, it would signal that Hamas has bet against the survivability of Bashar Assad. Continue reading

Terrorist quote of the month

Reacting to Prime Minister Binyamin Nentanyahu’s statement over the weekend that Israel would begin to withdraw the special privileges that Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails receive, Hamas’ Gaza spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri made what must be the most ironic, absurd, and maddening statement I have heard from a terror group for, well, maybe ever; and wins this month’s “Terrorist quote of the month”:

It is a violation of international and humanitarian law. The international community must intervene as it is a blatant attempt on Netanyahu’s part to cover up his failure to achieve a prisoner exchange deal.” Continue reading

Two national unity governments for two peoples

Much of the international community’s hope for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians currently rests on the formation of two national unity governments, one in Israel and one in the Palestinian territories.

Both the Israelis [represented by the Likud and Kadima parties] and the Palestinians [represented by Fatah and Hamas] are currently absorbed in near-identical processes to unite their two largest ideological blocs. On the Palestinian side, one of the blocs is represented by a terrorist organization that refuses to recognize Israel, disavow violence, or respect previous signed agreements. Its charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and the most it is willing to countenance is a long term truce, not a two-state solution. Hamas’ inclusion in a Palestinian unity government the world can engage with is by no means a foregone conclusion, nor is Israel’s engagement with such a Palestinian national unity government should it arise. Continue reading

Israeli soldier writes to Gazans whose home he took over

The following text is a letter posted on the Facebook profile of Yona Cymerman, an acquaintance of mine. It is written by her brother-in-law and translated by Yona. I’ve posted it here because it is quite powerful. There have been reports of IDF soldiers leaving notes for the Palestinians whose homes they commandeered throughout the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast lead.

An Open Letter to a Citizen of Gaza: I Slept in Your Home

An Open Letter to A citizen Of Gaza:
I Am the Soldier Who Slept In Your Home:
By: Yishai G (reserve soldier)

Hello,

While the world watches the ruins in Gaza, you return to your home
which remains standing. However, I am sure that it is clear to you
that someone was in your home while you were away.

I am that someone. Continue reading

Erdogan walks out on Peres

Here is the full video from the Davos panel on Gaza where on Turkish PM Erdogan walking out at the end after the Israeli president gave him a dressing down he will never forget.

You can also watch it here:

Peres used the high profile forum, probably one of the most visible in the world, to deliver a speech to an increasingly hostile world that seems, to many Israelis, to be to be slowly deligitimizing Israel. In Israel, the latest war on Hamas was a justified response to eight years of terror and rocket attacks. To many outside of Israel, it is seen as an assault on Gaza’s impoverished population. Erdogan used the platform to shore up political points inside Turkey and the rest of the Arab world. Continue reading

Some thoughts on the situation

Since the Gaza war [can we even call it a war?] started, the Israeli government barred foreign correspondents from entering the Gaza Strip to cover the war.

AP now has a good story about how Al Jazeera, who were one of the few media outlets to have reporters inside Gaza, were the big winners of the war in terms of holding a monopoly over news and images coming out of the Strip during the 22 days of Operation Cast Lead. Continue reading

Is Israel breaking international law in Gaza?

Here is a Q&A with Dr. Robbie Sabel, a lecturer in international law at the Hebrew University and former legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry.

Israel has been accused of violating the laws of war during the Gaza fighting. What are these laws, and is the accusation true?

Israel, during the fighting in Gaza, has taken greater steps than any other army in recent history to try and prevent enemy civilian casualties. The laws of war were formulated when armies in uniforms were battling other armies in uniform, usually in open fields. We are now facing an enemy often dressed as civilians, hiding among civilian buildings and aiming its fire deliberately and cold-bloodedly at Israeli civilian targets. Continue reading

UN-Israel relations going up in Gaza’s smoke

Looking at the massive plume of thick smoke rising above the Gaza skyline on Thursday, Israelis tasked with coordinating humanitarian aid shipments into the Strip couldn’t believe their eyes. Thousands of sacks of wheat and other foodstuffs sent through the Israeli crossings over the past weeks and stored at the food storage warehouse at UNRWA headquarters were on fire, sending a thick smoke throughout the area that could be seen from miles away. All the work Israel and UNRWA have been doing to avert a humanitarian crisis in Gaza was going up in flames, literally. Continue reading

To Annie Lennox, from Sderot

[Singer Annie Lennox has joined high-profile campaigners to call for an end to Israel's bombing of the Gaza Strip.]

Here’s some imaginary fan mail from Sderot:

Dear Annie,

We’re huge fans of yours down here in Sderot; you’re a talented musician, and so beautiful – when are you coming to visit us? We heard you called the latest violence on Hamas in Gaza “a pornography of violence”.
Have you seen the mini-series of constant rocket attacks on Sderot called “Endless Terror”? It’s into its 8th season.

We love your music, especially this song:

The sun’s still shining in the big blue sky
But it don’t mean nothing to me
Oh let the rain come down
Let the wind blow through me
I’m living in an empty room
With all the windows smashed
And I’ve got so little left to lose
That it feels just like I’m walking on broken glass

And if you’re trying to cut me down
You know that I might bleed
Cause if you’re trying to cut me down
I know that you’ll succeed
And if you want to hurt me
There’s nothing left to fear
Cause if you want to hurt me
You’re doing really well my dear

Now everyone of us was made to suffer
Everyone of us was made to weep
But we’ve been hurting one another
And now the pain has cut too deep…
So take me from the wreckage
Save me from the blast
Lift me up and take me back
Don’t let me keep on walking…
Walking on broken glass

annie-lennox

Happy New War

New year, new war.

Some observations:

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is taking the most aggressive approach to Hamas this time round, rejecting ceasefire proposals and saying that when she wins the general elections and becomes Prime Minister, she’ll destroy Hamas. Livni is trying to take moderate voters away from the Likud who may be worried that Netanyahu’s party is too right wing. Livni’s talking tough because a) she is tough [her family hail from pre-state Jewish underground groups] and b) Kadima is lagging in the polls behind Likud, so taking a hard line stance on Hamas should endear her to many on the right. This election will be decided by about 8-10 percent floating voters, most of them to be had between Kadima and Likud. Continue reading

The weather is with Hamas

According to the Israel Meteorological Institute there is still a possibility of very light rain in central and southern Israel on Thursday but it will get significantly cooler. On Friday the weather will get fair and slightly warmer, but still cooler than average for this time of the year. On Saturday it will be partly cloudy to clear with a rise in temperatures and a drop in humidity.

But this is not a weather report – it is a crucial element in the diplomatic and operational calculations of the Israeli leadership for the next few days. Continue reading

In Sderot, eyeing Gaza’s Black Sabbath

David Bouskila had a long and busy Friday night. The workload and
consultations started again very early on Saturday morning. So at about
11:30 a.m., when he finally found a few minutes to rest, he walked into his
bedroom and let his hefty body slump onto the mattress.

The second his head hit the pillow, IAF bombs hit their marks in nearby Gaza
City causing a thunderous sonic boom which shook Bouskila’s home. Sderot’s
new mayor knew it was not a good time to catch some sleep.

David Bouskila

Credit: Sderot media center

Bouskila is speaking on his cell phone to the BBC when I catch up with him.
“We praise the IDF and the government for acting after having been under
rocket attack for over eight years,” he says. Speaking in good English all
the way through the interview, Bouskila spells out the letters of his name
to the BBC reporter on the other end of the line. Continue reading

Gaza war weather report

UPDATE: So I was off by one day; I predicted Sunday but the IAF went in Saturday.

According to defense sources, the Israeli cabinet has given the IDF a green light to attack Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip following the end of the ceasefire last week. On Wednesday, Hamas and other Palestinian groups fired some 80 rockets into Southern Israel, causing no injuries but extensive damage.

The defense establishment is not keen for a full ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, preferring instead to rely on a series of measures starting with air attacks on Hamas military installations and senior personnel.

However, for this to be possible, the Israel Air Force needs clearer skies than the cloudy and rainy conditions currently prevailing across the country. It has been raining since Tuesday night in various parts of the country, with heavy cloud cover throughout.

AP reports: Defense officials, speaking on condition on anonymity because they were not permitted to discuss the plans, said the Israeli operation would likely begin with surgical airstrikes against rocket launchers and continue with a land incursion. Current weather conditions are hampering visibility and complicating air force missions, so the operation won’t be launched until the skies clear, they added.

So, while the decision to act against Hamas has been taken, the timing of the start of operations depends largely on the weather.

So here is the weather report for the coming days from the Israel Meteorological Institute:

Forecast for today and tonight:
Local rain from northern Israel to northern Negev. The rain will weaken in the afternoon. The temperatures will be below the average for this time of the year.

Fri.
26/12 Partly cloudy to clear with a slight rise in temperatures but still cooler than usual for the season.

Sat.
27/12 Clear to partly cloudy with an additional rise in temperatures.

Sun.
28/12 Clear with no significant change in temperatures.

Forecast Highs says keep an eye on Sunday.