Gaza Archbishop: Hamas Fired Out of Our Church

The plight of Christians in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East is dire. Now The Algemeiner brings this report on Hamas firing rockets from a church in Gaza:

A Catholic Archbishop ministering to Gaza’s minute Christian minority says Hamas terrorists forced him to allow them to use his church to fire rockets at Israel during the four week-long Operation Protective Edge.

“Islam is the rule of this place and whatever Hamas says we must obey or face consequences,” Archbishop Alexios told The Christian Broadcasting Network.

Alexios showed the reporter where Hamas terrorists used the roof of the center to fire rockets at Israel …

Functioning as a tolerated Christian minority in an Islamic supremacist entity, some residents charge that Hamas has “imposed strict Taliban-style Islamic laws” on the populace, Muslim and Christian alike.

However, Alexios allowed 2,000 Gazans to take refuge within the church compound during the fighting, according to the report.

We pray for the safety of the many persecuted Christians in Gaza, in Iraq, and elsewhere across the troubled region.

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Friday, August 8th, 2014 at 10:44 AM  | Stand For Israel

Dozens of Rockets Fired at Israel As Hamas Ends Ceasefire



With the 72-hour ceasefire set to end this morning, Hamas officials refused to extend the truce. Instead, The Times of Israel reports that the terror organization launched dozens of rockets into Israel, forcing the IDF to respond with airstrikes:

Hamas officials refused to extend the three-day cease-fire, but said they were willing to continue negotiations in Cairo. Israel said it would not negotiate under fire and would protect its citizens by all means …

Within minutes after the temporary truce expired at 8 a.m., Gaza militants began firing rockets. By midday, some 35 rockets had been fired. Twenty-six landed in Israel, three were intercepted and four fell short in Gaza, the army said. Four Israelis were hurt, none seriously. One rocket landed meters from a gasoline station.

Israel eventually responded with what the military said were strikes “across Gaza …”

The resumption of violence cast doubt over the Cairo negotiations.

Both Israel and Hamas are under international pressure to reach a deal. As part of such an arrangement, Israel wants to see Hamas disarmed or prevented from re-arming, while Hamas demands Gaza’s borders be opened.

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Friday, August 8th, 2014 at 8:23 AM  | 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

Israel Might Have Won; Hamas Certainly Lost

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

As fighting in Gaza has halted (for now), and as the international community chimes in on what it thinks should be done, The Times of Israel’s David Horovitz gives an Israeli assessment on “the (possible) end of the Israel-Hamas war”:

Whether or not Israel “won” — by which I mean attaining the “sustained calm” for its people that was the limited goal of the war — will be determined by the negotiations now taking place in Cairo, or the failure of those negotiations. But Hamas certainly lost. Three weeks ago, with its rocket capacity largely intact, its fighting forces completely intact, the tunnel network it had spent seven years building intact, and most of the Gaza it claims to represent intact, it rejected an unconditional ceasefire which Israel accepted and instead issued a long list of arrogant preconditions.

On Tuesday, with most of its rockets used to relatively little effect, hundreds of its gunmen dead, 32 of its major tunnels smashed, and Gaza devastated, its “military wing” in Gaza overruled its fat-cat political chief Khaled Mashaal in his Qatar hotel, waved a metaphorical white flag, and pleaded for the very same unconditional ceasefire. That does not constitute evisceration. Hamas aims to live to fight another day. But it does constitute defeat …

Perhaps folks abroad really just don’t care, or perhaps we haven’t explained it well enough, but Hamas directed much of its energy, money, manpower, time and strategic thinking since seizing the Strip in 2007 to digging a vast network of tunnels — including numerous tunnels under the border with Israel, wide enough to drive through on motorbikes, with the incontrovertible goal of sending large numbers of terrorists into southern Israel to carry out mass murder …

Apparently there are still political leaders and opinion-shapers in relatively enlightened countries who don’t realize any of this, who persist in arguing that Gaza’s tunnels were built solely to smuggle in the basic goods that Gazans are cruelly denied by the Israeli-Egyptian alliance, and who…

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Thursday, August 7th, 2014 at 8:41 AM  | Stand For Israel

The Media’s Role in Hamas’ War Strategy

(Photo: flickr/ ygurvitz)

(Photo: flickr/ ygurvitz)

Yesterday Stand for Israel reported on the IDF’s recovery of a Hamas combat manual – a manual that detailed the terrorists’ despicable use of human shields that the international media often neglects to mention. Today at The American Interest, Richard Landes writes that Hamas’ public relations strategy only works if the media is a cooperative partner, whether they’re aware of it or not:

Of course, Hamas’ strategy, what Elie Wiesel characterizes as child sacrifice, can only work if it has the sustained cooperation of the international news media, which must fulfill two key tasks in the strategy: 1) broadcast to the outside world the suffering the conflict causes; and 2) implicitly or explicitly blame Israel for that suffering. Without the first, there is no sense of outrage and urgency. Without the second, the world might not intervene on the Jihadi side.

Hamas shows full cognizance of the media’s importance. It has even issued detailed directions to Gazan “social media activists.” And although Hamas addressed them to Palestinian social media activists, the guidelines clearly apply to their media “fixers,” who direct all the foreign journalists working in Gaza. One might call these directives the “Hamas media protocols.”

  • not to show Hamas fighters, certainly not firing from hospitals and schools;
  • to attribute all the casualties to Israeli attacks;
  • to call all dead “civilians”;
  • to give the statistics Hamas supplies as facts, emphasizing how the “vast majority” of casualties are civilian;
  • to show the face of Palestinian suffering 24-7;
  • to give voice—their own and those of invited guests—to indignation and outrage over the appalling carnage.

So consistently has the media played these scripted roles that it has become a mere pawn in a predictable game. Jeremy Bowen explains: every conflict plays out between the time the Israelis go in to stop the rocketing until the time that Western outrage at civilian casualties gets them to stop. The more victims, the greater the pressure.

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Wednesday, August 6th, 2014 at 8:40 AM  | Stand For Israel

IDF: Captured Hamas Combat Manual Explains Benefits of Human Shields

(Photo: IDF blog)

(Photo: IDF blog)

During their sweep through Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, IDF troops found a Hamas combat manual on urban warfare. Post on the IDF’s blog, the manual explains to Hamas’ terrorist operatives the importance of using civilians as human shields, as well as Israel’s moral obligation to minimize civilian casualties:

In a portion entitled “Limiting the Use of Weapons,” the manual explains that:

The soldiers and commanders (of the IDF) must limit their use of weapons and tactics that lead to the harm and unnecessary loss of people and [destruction of] civilian facilities. It is difficult for them to get the most use out of their firearms, especially of supporting fire [e.g. artillery].

Clearly Hamas knows the IDF will limit its use of weapons in order to avoid harming civilians, including refraining from using larger firepower to support for infantry.

The manual goes on to explain that the “presence of civilians are pockets of resistance” that cause three major problems for advancing troops:

(1) Problems with opening fire
(2) Problems in controlling the civilian population during operations and afterward
(3) Assurance of supplying medical care to civilians who need it

Lastly, the manual discusses the benefits for Hamas when civilian homes are destroyed:

The destruction of civilian homes: This increases the hatred of the citizens towards the attackers [the IDF] and increases their gathering [support] around the city defenders (resistance forces[i.e. Hamas]).

It is clear that Hamas actually desires the destruction of homes and civilian infrastructure, knowing it will increase hatred for the IDF and support their fighters.

This finding is evidence of what the international media often neglects to mention – that the IDF acts morally, even as it battles a foe that has no problem with placing women and children in the line of fire.

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Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 at 11:10 AM  | Stand For Israel

As Truce Holds, Israel Set to Negotiate Long-Term Solution

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

As we noted in today’s Daily Dispatch, a 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas went into effect this morning, while Israeli officials headed to Cairo to negotiate a long-term end to the current conflict. The Times of Israel reports on what Israel will insist on during the negotiations, as well as the challenges it faces:

“Israel will bring to these discussions our top priority, which is preventing Hamas from rearming,” a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel on Monday morning, a few hours after the 8:00 a.m. ceasefire went into effect. “Their military machine has been largely dismantled, their network of tunnels destroyed and their arsenal of rockets greatly depleted.”

Israel’s challenge now is to figure out how to demilitarize the Gaza Strip and prevent Hamas from rearming, the senior official said. “We believe that both regional and international cooperation can be effective in preventing Hamas from rearming.”

The ceasefire ended 28 days of fighting in Gaza that has left over 1,800 Gazans dead, according to health officials in the Hamas-run Strip. Israel said Tuesday that some 900 of those killed in Gaza were combatants. Mere minutes before the truce went into effect, Hamas fired 17 rockets at Israel, six of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Jerusalem’s precise demands for the future are unclear, but it appears that the Israeli delegation in Cairo will highlight the “rehabilitation in exchange for demilitarization” formula. “Obviously, regional actors have a major role,” the senior official said, hinting that either Egypt or the Palestinian Authority, or both, should be put in charge of Gaza border crossings to make sure that no arms are smuggled into the Strip.

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Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 at 9:36 AM  | Stand For Israel

Hamas and Palestinian Authority: United Against Israel

(Photo: flickr/News Agency)

(Photo: flickr/News Agency)

Before Operation Protective Edge began, and before terrorists kidnapped and murdered the three Israel teenagers, much of the focus on the Palestinians and their leadership was directed at the unity government formed by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. While most speculated that the unity agreement would fail, Khaled Abu Toameh writes that shockingly the factions seem to have grown closer – united against Israel:

Despite predictions to the contrary, the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas seems not only alive and well, but stronger than ever.

Over the past month, the two parties have been waging separate wars against Israel – one (Hamas) on the battlefield and the second (Fatah) in the international arena.

At the beginning of the war in the Gaza Strip, political analysts predicted that the unity agreement that was signed between Hamas and Fatah last April would be one of the war’s first victims …

The previous wars between Israel and Hamas had resulted in a deterioration in relations between Hamas and Fatah. During the past two wars, Hamas did not hesitate to accuse Abbas and Fatah of “collusion” with the “Zionist enemy.”

But the current war has thus far brought the two sides closer to one another. Abbas even instructed his security forces in the West Bank to suspend their crackdown on Hamas supporters, a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah disclosed.

Abbas is expected to continue his efforts to enhance his partnership with Hamas even after a cease-fire is reached in the Gaza Strip. This may be good for Palestinian “national unity” and Hamas, but it also means that the prospects for peace with Israel on the basis of a two-state solution – an idea vehemently opposed by Hamas – will be as remote as ever. By strengthening his ties with Hamas, Abbas is burying any chance of a peaceful solution with Israel.

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Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 at 8:36 AM  | Stand For Israel

The Long War Against Hamas

(Photo: flickr/ elmeromero

(Photo: flickr/ elmeromero

Even as the fighting between Hamas and the IDF slows, former U.S. national security adviser Elliott Abrams says that depleting Hamas’ rocket supplies, killing its army of terrorists, and destroying its labyrinth of terror tunnels is only the first step against defeating the terrorist organization:

Cornered and desperate, Hamas took a chance in starting the war this summer. It has been eight years since Hamas won that election and seven since it seized Gaza. Our goal now should be to make 2014 the turning point, and make this war one from which Hamas never recovers. Hamas will claim victory this summer, but whether it actually gains from its murderous decisions or is permanently damaged by them will not be settled the day combat ends. That’s when the IDF’s current battle stops, but it’s when the longer struggle against Hamas—Israel’s and hopefully ours as well—begins again.

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Monday, August 4th, 2014 at 8:59 AM  | Stand For Israel

As Israel Withdraws Troops from Gaza, a Dilemma for Hamas

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

After finishing the process of destroying Hamas’ terror tunnels, the IDF has pulled its troops from Gaza’s populated areas and redeployed them along the Gaza border. The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff writes that Hamas now faces two choices – either a ceasefire that meets none of its outrageous demands, or a continuation of its terror attacks on Israel, and the quick and decisive response from the IDF that such attacks would warrant:

At the start of the operation, the organization’s military wing presented six demands for a ceasefire: the release of the prisoners freed during the 2011 swap for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and recently rearrested in the West Bank, the establishment of a port, the expansion the fishing zone, opening the Rafah crossing into Egypt, opening the crossings into Israel, and the payment of Hamas salaries. Slowly, the demands eased, and the head of Hamas’s military wing, Mohammed Deif, said last week that the organization wouldn’t agree to a ceasefire unless “the aggression ceases and the blockade is lifted.” These two demands are vague, but it was interesting to note that Deif didn’t mention the prisoner releases or the establishment of a port. And if this round of hostilities concludes without Israel or Egypt agreeing to accept even one of the organization’s demands, Hamas will be humiliated …

The Palestinian public, which now seeks quiet, will ask itself why the organization drove Gaza to ruin for no reason, with no results to show for its efforts. Hamas is aware of this, and is therefore likely to be tempted to do two things: first, fire more rockets so long as it can, despite the inevitable Israeli response; and second, to continue attempts to carry out significant attacks, mainly through tunnels that may have been left untouched, to render empty the Israeli assurances about finishing the tunnel demolitions. But an attack of that degree is likely to draw a very harsh response, perhaps even a renewed ground offensive — and once again, the Gazan…

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Monday, August 4th, 2014 at 8:44 AM  | Stand For Israel

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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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