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Which Side Is UNRWA On?

UNRWA-logo-724x1024As Operation Protective Edge brought Israel back into Gaza, it also brought the United Nations’ UNRWA agency back into the news. Much of this attention was due to the fact that terrorist rockets were found in UNRWA-run schools, while many more rockets were launched from such locations. Former national security adviser Elliott Abrams writes that while UNRWA has always been bad, now they seem to be even worse:

So now there are two compelling reasons to end UNRWA. Its cooperation with Hamas, and the way in which it has been permeated by Hamas, constitute one reason. The second is that UNRWA is engaged in the perpetuation and expansion of the “Palestinian refugee problem” rather than its solution …

In the decades of its existence, it has not solved or even diminished the Palesinian refugee problem; instead it has presided over a massive increase in its size, for all the descendants of Palestinian refugees are considered to be refugees as well. Once there were 750,000; now there are five million people considered by UNRWA to be “Palestinian refugees … ”

Which side is UNRWA on? Its supporters would say “on the side of Palestinian refugees,” but instead the agency appears to be on two other sides: its own, always expanding its own empire and responsibilities, and on the side of Hamas …

The Gaza war has illuminated once again the ways in which Hamas has been acting as a parasite feeding on this UN agency–to which the United States is the largest donor. Time for a change.

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Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 at 8:34 AM  | Stand for Israel

Israel Has Emerged Stronger

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

As all wars do, Operation Protective Edge cost Israel much – in the lives lost, in the soldiers wounded, in the financial and emotional prices paid. Yet much was also gained. Writing at The Times of Israel’s blog, Dr. Daniel Polisar says that the war made Israel stronger by strengthening Israeli society, strengthening the Jewish state’s diplomacy, and weakening Israel’s enemies:

First and foremost, Israeli society was strengthened over the last seven weeks … showered soldiers with moral and material support, demonstrated gritty determination to continue the ground war despite the large number of IDF casualties, and bolstered the spirits of those most in need by attending en masse funerals of people whom they did not know—with the most sublime symbol being the sign placed near the grave of ex-Californian infantry fighter Max Steinberg, “There is no such thing as a lone soldier in Israel.”

Such acts gave Israelis and their leaders the fortitude to go on under difficult circumstances, but also have longer-term effects. They etched into the hearts of Israelis, especially those who recently came of age, that we are a people capable of great courage, compassion, and commitment when it matters most. When the dust settles and the commentaries of today and tomorrow are forgotten, it will be this sense that will remain and will instill in Israelis the conviction we have what it takes to survive and thrive, come what may.

Diplomatically, Israel was of course subject to increasing criticism from Europe and suffered a well-publicized rift with its leading ally, the United States. Even so, European actions, in any event not decisive, did not undergo a qualitative shift and the U.S.-Israel relationship remains firm, as witnessed by continued cooperation on numerous fronts. The only real strategic change was the remarkable deepening of Israel’s ties with Egypt, the most powerful Arab country …

Finally, the conduct of the war has given pause to Hamas and the heads of the more powerful Hezbollah about engaging soon in another military clash…

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Friday, August 29th, 2014 at 9:04 AM  | Stand For Israel

Is the Gaza War Really Over?

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

As the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has held, Israel begins to rebuild, even as it watches warily the threats it faces on all sides. But writing at the Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh asks – in light of Hamas’ stated intentions and overall strategy – if Israel’s war in Gaza is really over:

However, it is important to note that these cease-fire demands are not part of Hamas’s or Islamic Jihad’s overall strategy, namely to have Israel wiped off the face of the earth.

Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip are not only fighting for an airport and seaport. Nor are they fighting only for the reopening of all border crossings with Israel and Egypt.

During this war, many seem to have forgotten that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are actually fighting to “liberate Jerusalem and all Palestine.” The two groups have never recognized Israel’s right to exist and continue to oppose any attempt to make peace with the “Zionist entity.”

Operation Protective Edge may have ended, but the dream to destroy Israel is still alive. Even if Hamas and Islamic Jihad eventually get their own airport and seaport, it is obvious that the two groups are now more determined than ever to pursue their fight to eliminate Israel, especially in light of the fact that they feel they have emerged from the war triumphant.

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Thursday, August 28th, 2014 at 9:23 AM  | Stand For Israel

Hamas’ “Victory”

(Photo: flickr/ unknown unknown)

(Photo: flickr/ unknown unknown)

As soon as yesterday’s ceasefire was announced, Hamas’ leaders crawled out from the bunkers and tunnels in which they’d been living, and from the hospitals underneath which they’d been cowardly hiding, and began proclaiming that their war with Israel had resulted in victory. Writing at the Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil wonders how the terrorist organization can consider this devastating defeat a win:

The Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leadership waged their war from deep underground bunkers, beneath high-rise buildings and below Gaza’s showcase Al-Shifa Hospital. The leadership left the civilian population above ground and urged them onto the roofs of buildings or to stay home and receive the strikes that were coming toward their weapons stockpiles and rocket launchers. Waging war from five-star hotels in Qatar or bunkers under Gaza’s urban landscape, Hamas’s leaders positioned these rocket launchers next to hospitals, schools, mosques, UNRWA facilities, residential complexes and even hotels where foreign media personnel were staying.

It was the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders, not the Israelis, who are the war criminals. It was these Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders who were responsible for the civilian deaths of more than two thousand Gazans, while they safely hid and only claimed that they wanted to be shaheeds [martyrs].

While the Hamas leadership threw the Gazan civilians to their bitter fate, the Israelis used the safe rooms they had built for their civilians and their Iron Dome aerial defense system to keep their own civilians safe. Not relying solely on Iron Dome, the IDF sent infantry units to the front lines inside the Gaza Strip to protect Israel’s home front. The Israel Air Force attacked rocket and mortar shell launchers; its ground forces destroyed 32 terrorist tunnels that led from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.

Its tunnels into Israel were blown up; the rockets smuggled in from Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Korea were neutralized; thousands of civilians were killed and tens of thousands of Gazan homes were destroyed, and yet the…

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Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 at 9:28 AM  | Stand for Israel

Spanish Journalist in Gaza: Hamas Launched Rockets from Press Hotel

(Photo: twitter/ Fernando Gutierrez)

(Photo: twitter/ Fernando Gutierrez)

Stand for Israel has told you about Hamas’ tactics of using human shields and storing rockets in and launching them from homes, schools, and hospitals, but now we bring you this article from The Algemeiner about a Spanish journalist in Gaza who has reported the truth on the terror organization’s strategies:

Freelance Spanish journalist Fernando Gutiérrez said on Twitter Hamas was launching rockets from the press hotel, in Gaza.

In Spanish, Gutiérrez, who is writing for Melilla Hoy, tweeted, “On Saturday, 9th of August, Hamas launched a battery of rockets from the press hotel. What was their intent? To provoke to Israel to kill us?#SaveGazaFromHamas“.

On Twitter, Gutiérrez told followers he went to Gaza to see the facts for himself.

In another popular tweet in Spanish, Gutiérrez said, “I would be lying if I told you I saw signs of apartheid in Israel. But I’m not going to lie,” posting a photo of an Arab IDF soldier kissing his mother, wearing a hijab, on the cheek.

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Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 at 1:32 PM  | Stand For Israel

Hamas Attacks Israeli Humanitarian Aid to Gaza

This video from the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry shows rockets being fired at the border crossing through which Israel delivers humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. Because of the rocket attacks yesterday, the border was closed and deliveries of aid were stopped. Yet again, this shows that while Israel is trying to help the people of Gaza – even as the Jewish state defends its own people during this conflict – the terrorists of Hamas have no regard for the people who they claim to represent.

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Monday, August 11th, 2014 at 10:41 AM  | Stand For Israel

Lessons of the War in Gaza

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

As the current negotiations between Israel and Hamas continue, so does the latest 72-hour ceasefire that went into effect today. Writing at Israel Hayom, Dr. Daniel Pipes takes advantage of this lull to look at several insights gained during the conflict – the limited support for Hamas across the Middle East, the growing anti-Semitism around the world, and the difference between worldwide leaders’ responses to Israel’s actions and the response of the general public – coming to the conclusion that this is a war being fought as much in the arena of public opinion as it is on the battlefield:

This leads to the bizarre situation in which Hamas seeks the destruction of Palestinian property, compels civilians to sustain injuries and death, inflates casualty figures, and may even intentionally attack its own territory – while the IDF takes gratuitous fatalities to spare harm to Palestinians. The Israeli government goes further, providing medical care and food and sending technicians into harm’s way to make sure that Gazans continue to enjoy free electricity.

It’s a curious war in which Hamas celebrates Palestinian misery and Israel does its best to keep life normal for its enemy. Strange, indeed, but this is the nature of modern warfare, where op-eds often carry more weight than bullets. In Clausewitzian terms, war’s center of gravity has moved from the battlefield to public relations.

In all, the civilized and moral forces of Israel came off well in this face-off with barbarism. But not well enough to forestall, for too long, yet another assault.

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Monday, August 11th, 2014 at 8:35 AM  | Stand For Israel

Hamas: Don’t Post About Terrorist Deaths on Facebook

(Photo: flickr/ abd_abd4161)

(Photo: flickr/ abd_abd4161)

While Hamas has been using the people of Gaza as human shields so that the resulting photos of civilian casualties will bring international scorn on Israel, the terror organization is also trying to keep terrorist deaths off of social media. The IDF’s blog reports that Hamas has warned Gazans not to publish photos of terrorists during Operation Protective Edge:

Hamas has posted a Facebook message urging Gazans to stop publishing photos of terrorists killed by IDF forces. The post appeared yesterday (Aug. 5) on the official page of Hamas’ Ministry of the Interior and National Security. It instructs Palestinians to “refrain from disseminating photographs of martyrs of the resistance” in Gaza.

The message appears to have several purposes. In order to support Hamas’ claims of victory in battle, it seeks to hide the organization’s significant losses against Israel. The IDF killed over 750 terrorists in Operation Protective Edge, delivering a severe blow to Hamas’ capabilities.

The post also aims to support Hamas’ exaggerated claims of civilian casualties. By hiding evidence of terrorist deaths, Hamas can report higher numbers of civilian deaths in Gaza.

In addition, the message seeks to prevent the world from seeing where Hamas’ fighters operate. In violation of international law, Hamas’ terrorists attack Israel from within urban areas. Photographs of terrorists in civilian areas would confirm that Hamas uses these sites for military purposes.

 

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Friday, August 8th, 2014 at 12:41 PM  | Stand For Israel

The Empty Spaces in Gaza

(Photo: flickr/ london-photographer)

(Photo: flickr/ london-photographer)

As Operation Protective Edge progressed, we have heard from many media outlets about Gaza being densely populated. In this piece for the Gatestone Institute, Alan Dershowitz indicts Hamas for the war crime of using civilians as human shields while also asking about Gaza’s empty spaces:

The fact that these sparsely populated areas exist in the Gaza Strip raises several important moral questions: First, why don’t the media show the relatively open areas of the Gaza Strip? Why do they only show the densely populated cities? There are several possible reasons. There is no fighting going on in the sparsely populated areas, so showing them would be boring. But that’s precisely the point—to show areas from which Hamas could be firing rockets and building tunnels but has chosen not to. Or perhaps the reason the media doesn’t show these areas is that Hamas won’t let them. That too would be a story worth reporting.

Second, why doesn’t Hamas use sparsely populated areas from which to launch its rockets and build its tunnels? Were it to do so, Palestinian civilian casualties would decrease dramatically, but the casualty rate among Hamas terrorists would increase dramatically.

That is precisely why Hamas selects the most densely populated areas from which to fire and dig …

The third moral question is why does the United Nations try to shelter Palestinian civilians right in the middle of the areas from which Hamas is firing? Hamas has decided not to use the less densely populated areas for rocket firing and tunnel digging. For that reason, the United Nations should use these sparsely populated areas as places of refuge …

But instead the UN is playing right into the hands of Hamas, by sheltering civilians right next to Hamas fighters, Hamas weapons and Hamas tunnels. Then the United Nations and the international community accuses Israel of doing precisely what Hamas intended Israel to do: namely fire at its terrorists and kill United Nations protected civilians in the process. It’s a cynical game…

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Thursday, August 7th, 2014 at 4:13 PM  | Stand For Israel

Update: Militants “Blow Up UNRWA Clinic,” Killing 3 IDF Soldiers

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

Yesterday we reported on the deaths of 3 IDF soldiers who were killed when the building in which they had uncovered a terror tunnel exploded, having been booby trapped by Hamas. Now The Times of Israel‘s Mitch Ginsburg provides further details about the incident, including the fact that the structure was either a UNRWA clinic or a building disguised as one:

“And then we enter with our people, and they [the militants], from the very same terror tunnel, they blow up half the clinic on our troops.”“They blow [up] the UNRWA clinic on our troops.”

UNRWA did not immediately respond to a request for comment …

The three soldiers, members of the elite Maglan unit, were taking precautionary measures in efforts to limit damage to the structure before eliminating the tunnel, when the explosives detonated in the small building.

The soldiers had sent in sniffing dogs and a small tractor to minimize damage to the structure, but explosives rigged to the building detonated, toppling a section of the building on the soldiers.

Fifteen soldiers were injured. IDF soldiers evacuating the wounded came under fire from Palestinian fighters …

Edelstein used the alleged clinic as an illustration of the difficulty inherent in fighting an enemy willing to exploit both civilians and non-governmental organizations. “Once you enter such a clinic and you see the UNRWA sigh on it and you know there is a terror tunnel there, you know it’s a very very sensitive building, and you’re thinking of the not-terrorist Palestinians living there all around, and you’re trying not to harm this place,” Edelstein said.

Again, we pray that God comforts the loved ones of the three soldiers lost, and that He provides strength and healing to all those wounded.

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Thursday, July 31st, 2014 at 9:44 AM  | Stand For Israel

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Rabbi's Commentary
The Rabbi Recommends: Rebbe, by Joseph Telushkin

Rarely do I recommend a book with the exuberance and enthusiasm I do today. The author of Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, was my roommate in Yeshiva Seminary when I studied for semicha, or ordination, there. He was then, and remains today, a dear friend whom I admire and deeply respect.


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