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The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff has long provided thoughtful, well-written journalism on Israel and the Middle East. Now he gives this gripping account of traveling with IDF paratroopers into Gaza, in search of the tunnels and traps Hamas has built:
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“The sheer destruction around us is devastating,” a battalion commander, Yoav, noted. “What’s most disturbing is that they operate from this urban environment, and the ones who suffer most are the civilians. I’d much rather manage all this in face-to-face combat against a real Hamas, one that is genuinely here.”
He elaborated: Late one evening, after the troops thought they had secured the area around another tunnel, he said, three Hamas fighters suddenly emerged from a tunnel shaft out of the ground, and almost managed to catch the soldiers off guard. Luckily, the officer said, the soldiers were alert and reacted quickly. “The second they saw us, the terrorists slipped back into the tunnel. They then popped out from another entrance,” he said …
This is indeed one of the most difficult problems for IDF forces fighting within the Strip. Hamas has worked tirelessly in recent years to build up the tunnel infrastructure, with multiple entrance-ways that enable its gunmen to move quickly and undetected between private homes and streets and alleyways. At any moment, a Hamas fighter might come out of the ground and open fire with machine guns and anti-tank missiles on the troops.
An additional challenge is Hamas’s almost unthinkable decision to rig the homes of many residents in the Strip with explosives, aiming to collapse the structures upon Israeli soldiers.
Thursday, July 31st, 2014 at 8:51 AM | Stand For Israel
As the international media focuses on the civilian casualties in Gaza – faulting the IDF, while assigning no blame to Hamas for using Palestinians as human shields, or for hiding themselves and their weaponry in hospitals, schools, and homes – one might wonder why journalists do not report the whole story. This eye-opening piece at Tablet not only explains the censorship and fear dealt with by reporters on the ground, but also reveals Hamas’ secret command center hidden in Gaza’s largest hospital:
The Israelis are so sure about the location of the Hamas bunker, however, not because they are trying to score propaganda points, or because it has been repeatedly mentioned in passing by Western reporters—but because they built it. Back in 1983, when Israel still ruled Gaza, they built a secure underground operating room and tunnel network beneath Shifa hospital—which is one among several reasons why Israeli security sources are so sure that there is a main Hamas command bunker in or around the large cement basement beneath the area of Building 2 of the Hospital, which reporters are obviously prohibited from entering.
Hamas obviously has no interest in having a photo-layout of one of its command bunkers beneath Shifa Hospital splashed on the front pages of newspapers. After all, such pictures would show that the organization uses the sick and wounded of Gaza as human shields while launching missiles against Israeli civilians. What Hamas wants is for reporters to use very different pictures from Shifa—namely, photos of Palestinians killed and wounded by Israelis, which make Palestinians look like innocent victims of wanton Israeli brutality.
To that end, the rules of reporting from Shifa Hospital are easy for any newbie reporter to understand: No pictures of members of Hamas with their weapons inside the hospital, and don’t go anywhere near the bunkers, or the operating rooms where members of Hamas are treated. While reporters can meet with members of Hamas inside the hospital—because it’s obviously convenient for everyone—they are not allowed to take…Read More » Comments (2) »
Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 at 3:31 PM | Stand For Israel
Stand for Israel has been reporting on the recent frequency of terrorist rockets being found in United Nations-operated schools. And as we noted in today’s Daily Dispatch, rockets were again found in a UNRWA-run school in Gaza on Tuesday. The Times of Israel reports that this is the third such occurrence since the onset of Operation Protective Edge:
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In its press release, UNRWA’s spokesperson said that the discovery was made during a routine inspection of the school, “which was closed for the summer and not being used as a shelter.”
“All the relevant parties have been notified,” UNRWA said, without elaborating which parties. Hamas, the terror group that controls the Gaza Strip, has launched over 2,000 of rockets at Israel in the past month …
Despite announcing the discovery, UNRWA could not send a UN munitions expert to disarm and remove the weapons “because of fighting in the vicinity,” it said in a statement. “But we hope to do as soon as the security conditions allow.”
It was not clear from the statement where the school was, how many rockets Hamas or one of the other Palestinian terror groups stored at the UN facility, or where the weapons are now.
Tuesday’s incident was the third instance in which Palestinian armaments were found in UN facilities in the Gaza Strip …
In Jerusalem, officials charged that the weaponry was returned to Hamas. “The rockets were passed on to the government authorities in Gaza, which is Hamas. In other words, UNRWA handed to Hamas rockets that could well be shot at Israel,” a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel.
Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 at 9:37 AM | Stand For Israel
The Iron Dome defense system has proved its worth, helping defeat many of the terrorist rockets launched on Israel over the past weeks. But Hamas’ extensive system of attack tunnels that are still being uncovered by the IDF, writes Jeffrey Goldberg, illustrates the terrorist group’s true, murderous goals and shows how Israel must continue to respond:
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But there is no Iron Dome for tunnels. The tunnels give me real pause. It’s hard enough to imagine a situation in which your neighbors are quite intentionally trying to blow up your house and kill your children with rockets. But Hamas’s well-developed kidnapping strategy represents a whole other category of depravity. The handcuffs and tranquilizers are mere baroque, Pulp Fictionish details. The core depravity of Hamas is its longstanding policy of treating every Jew as a target for elimination.
So I would ask this question: What would you want your government to do if your enemy was digging tunnels under your village, in order to pop out at night to kill or kidnap you? Could you imagine taking the risk that members of your family might be seized, dragged underground, handcuffed and tranquilized, and then held in the dark, perhaps for years, perhaps never to come home? Hamas terrorists have recently emerged from these tunnels inside Israel multiple times. This is not a theoretical threat …
The tactical goals are to terrorize Israelis and bring about the international delegitimization of Israel. The strategic goal — the theological goal, in fact — is to bring about the end of their country.
Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 at 8:44 AM | Stand For Israel
In an interview for CBS yesterday morning, Charlie Rose spoke with Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader safely hidden in Qatar during the conflict in Gaza. Among other topics, when Rose pressed Meshaal whether he would recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Meshaal answered, “No.” Watch the interview above.Comments (5) »
Monday, July 28th, 2014 at 1:59 PM | Stand For Israel
In this fascinating interview with CNN, the son of one of the founders of Hamas discusses the terror organization’s tactics and ultimate goals. Now a Christian, Mosab Hassan Yousef details how the group his father helped found aims not only to kill Palestinian civilians but to destroy the Jewish state, as well.Comments (20) »
Monday, July 28th, 2014 at 9:45 AM | Stand For Israel
Although some in the world media are yet again – unfairly – championing Hamas as some kind of David to Israel’s Goliath, Professor Eli Avraham writes a hopeful piece in Israel Hayom, saying that the international community seems to be catching onto the terrorists’ media strategy:
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This time, however, the international community is aware of Hamas’ nefarious tactics, thanks to the intensive reporting by foreign correspondents on the ground and Israel’s public diplomacy efforts. This exposure has prompted European foreign ministers to protest Hamas’ use of human shields.
Moreover, the rise in anti-Semitic attacks against Jews in Europe have prompted Germany and France to bar anti-Israeli demonstrations at this time, while numerous European nations have expressed their unequivocal support for Israel’s right to self-defense.
Many Israelis are frustrated that Palestinian casualties win extensive international media coverage, while casualties in other war-torn countries garner only minimal exposure …
Hamas, it seems, has encountered difficulties in preserving the momentum of media and political attacks on Israel, given the changes the Arab world is undergoing. The exposure of its use of human shields and its persecution of Christians … has caused its media strategy to falter. Hamas has failed to garner the international media attention and therefore failed to mark the political success it had hoped for.
Monday, July 28th, 2014 at 8:51 AM | Stand For Israel
As the international media continues to bring us pictures of the civilian casualties in Gaza, it does little to show us the Hamas leadership behind them, or the fact that these terrorist leaders are hiding among said civilian population. Writing at the Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil discusses the fact that many journalists are allowing Hamas to get away with these crimes against humanity:
Hamas and its Palestinian and Western propagandists continue to insist that the Islamist movement does not use civilians in the Gaza Strip as human shields during war. But the truth is that Hamas itself has admitted that it does use innocent civilians as human shields, to increase the number of casualties and defame Israel in the eyes of the international community.
This admission, however, has, of course, gone unnoticed by most Western journalists and analysts reporting on the war in the Gaza Strip. Many Western journalists in the Gaza Strip choose to ignore the fact that Hamas is forcing civilians to serve as human shields. They also seem to ignore the fact that senior Hamas officials and militiamen have found shelter among civilians and in hospitals, especially Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital …
One foreign journalist explained that asking such a question would have “endangered my life.” Another admitted over coffee that he and his colleagues were too scared to report news that would anger Hamas and other radical groups.
“We know that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields,” the reporter, who asked not to be identified, said. “But why would you report this when you are sitting in the middle of the Gaza Strip, surrounded by Hamas gunmen?”
Besides the human shields story, there is another item that the international media also choose to ignore: the extrajudicial execution of Palestinian “collaborators” during the past two weeks.
Palestinian sources have confirmed that Hamas has executed at least 13 Palestinians on suspicion of “collaboration” with Israel. None of the suspects was brought to trial, and the executions were reportedly carried out in the most brutal…Read More » Comments (28) »
Monday, July 28th, 2014 at 8:39 AM | Stand For Israel
As we reported in today’s Daily Dispatch, Hamas has spent many years, hundreds of thousands of tons of concrete, and millions of dollars building its extensive system of terror tunnels. Now, Israeli security sources are saying that the IDF’s discovery of some of the tunnels has thwarted a large terror attack Hamas had planned for Rosh Hashanah:
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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, as reported 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.
Israeli soldiers already frustrated a surprise assault by Hamas through one tunnel from Gaza into the Eshkol district of Israel on July 19. The Hamas fighters escaped back into the tunnel, but the clash cost the lives of two Israel Defense Force [IDF] troops.
Friday, July 25th, 2014 at 9:48 AM | Stand For Israel
As the IDF continues Operation Protective Edge – finding and destroying Hamas’ massive system of tunnels used for smuggling weapons into Gaza and sneaking terrorists into Israel – Liel Leibovitz brings us an informative piece at Tablet that not only puts into perspective how the terrorist organization created these tunnels (using 800,000 tons of concrete) but why they did so:
What else might that much concrete build? Erecting Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, required 110,000 tons of concrete. Hamas, then, could’ve treated itself to seven such monstrosities and still had a few tens of thousands of tons to spare. If it wanted to build kindergartens equipped with bomb shelters, like Israel has built for the besieged citizens of Sderot, for example—after all, noted military strategists like Jon Stewart have spent last week proclaiming that Gaza’s citizens had nowhere to hide from Israel’s artillery—Hamas could have used its leftovers to whip up about two that were each as big as Giants Stadium. And that’s just 18 tunnels. Egypt, on its end, recently claimed to have destroyed an additional 1,370. That’s a lot of concrete …
So, where did Hamas get all that concrete? Most of it came from you and your government. Hamas got its hands on the supplies it needed to build the tunnels after it pleaded with the international community last year to help redeem Gaza from the throes of a humanitarian crisis, caused by the fact that both Israel and Egypt closed their borders to Gaza, because both countries grew tired of having their soldiers and citizens murdered by terrorists. Needless to say, Israel’s concerns about how the concrete would be used were universally derided in the West as inflicting cruel and needless suffering on the people of Gaza—who, needless to say, didn’t receive any of the concrete for their own use. The priorities of Ismail Haniyeh’s government were crystal clear—to use all resources at their disposal to launch another war with Israel …
Hamas isn’t here to talk or build…Read More » Comments (34) »
Friday, July 25th, 2014 at 8:54 AM | Stand For Israel