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

Islamic State Captures Iraq’s Largest Dam

(Photo: flickr/ gorillasguides)

(Photo: flickr/ gorillasguides)

Earlier this week we updated you on the spread of the terror organization the Islamic State (IS) across Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere, all the while persecuting and killing Christians and all others who do not accept their beliefs. Today, The New York Times brings this terrifying report that IS has now seized control of Iraq’s largest dam:

Residents near the dam and officials in the region confirmed that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, held the dam, a potentially catastrophic development for Iraq’s civilian population.

The dam, which sits on the Tigris River and is about 30 miles northwest of the city of Mosul, provides electricity to Mosul and controls the water supply for a large amount of territory. A report published in 2007 by the United States government, which had been involved with work on the dam, warned that should it fail, a 65-foot wave of water could be unleashed across areas of northern Iraq …

The latest ISIS push followed its pattern of exploratory attacks on the outskirts of an area it wants to take. On Wednesday, it repelled Kurdish efforts east of Mosul and shelled Qaraqosh, which is one of several largely Christian settlements in the area between Mosul and Erbil, 60 miles to the east. As plumes of smoke drifted across the plains of Nineveh between Mosul and Erbil, panicked residents fled from the settlements there in cars and pickup trucks piled with belongings, creating lines more than half a mile long at checkpoints guarded by the pesh merga.

On Thursday, many villagers who had not already left departed hurriedly, throwing just a few items in suitcases, said Father Amar, a Syrian Catholic priest from Bartella, one of the largely Christian settlements, who had left with them. Shortly afterward, he said, he spoke to some who had decided to remain, and they reported that ISIS had taken the town …

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Thursday, August 7th, 2014 at 1:05 PM  | Stand For Israel

Frightened Ukrainian Jews Seek Haven in Makeshift Camp

(Photo: FJC)

(Photo: FJC)

As the war in Gaza has ceased for now, the fighting in Ukraine still rages. The Times of Israel reports on how The Fellowship is providing safety and shelter for Ukrainian Jews forced to flee their homes and lives because of the violence and chaos in their country:

Funded by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, some 250 Jews have found a personal haven — while their homes, businesses, assets and jobs remain in peril …

In a telephone conversation from Ukraine, Fellowship head Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein paints a dire picture of eastern Ukraine Jewry’s prospects …

“These are people who are refugees. They are middle class Jews who had to leave surreptitiously, in the middle of the night, in a dangerous way to get out,” said Eckstein …

“The camp here has been fully sponsored by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews,” states [Rabbi Sholom] Gopin in a article. “But I really don’t know what will be on the first day that camp ends. Many people came to camp expecting to go back to Luhansk, but they can’t anymore. We are working to make sure that everyone has a place to go, but we are very seriously lacking the funds right now.”

Eckstein says he has traveled to Ukraine every few weeks for the past six months since Ukraine-rebel-Russia conflict intensified. The Fellowship consistently donates $25 million a year, but this year has increased its grants in Ukraine by $4.5 million, earmarked for food/basic supplies, security and aliya initiatives.

We thank our faithful friends for allowing us to support these many people who have been left with so little. We will update you soon on Rabbi Eckstein’s visit to this camp.

Help us meet the needs of Ukraine’s Jewish community during this crisis.


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Thursday, August 7th, 2014 at 11:51 AM  | Stand For Israel

Bringing Jews and Christians Together to Help Israel

(Photo: Oren Nahshon)

(Photo: Oren Nahshon)

As The Fellowship continues helping Israel and its population – especially during times of such need as these – Yediot Achronot features the important work being done by The Fellowship and Rabbi Eckstein to protect the Holy Land and its most vulnerable people during Operation Protective Edge:

Since the start of the operation, IFCJ has been assisting the southern communities hardest hit by the hostilities that engulfed the area in the past month. Speaking to Ynet, Eckstein, who lives in Jerusalem, emphasizes that “playing a leadership role on the ground” is the secret to the organization’s success …

… close cooperation with local bodies has allowed the IFCJ to execute what Eckstein called “a two-pronged attack” to deal with Israel’s security needs and the needs of its impoverished populations.

The US non-profit has advanced its agenda of protecting Israelis by rebuilding some 2,300 bomb shelters in both northern and southern Israel. It has spent $33 million on security needs alone since the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and as purchased 35 additional mobile shelters since Protective Edge started in early July.

Eckstein stresses that IFCJ’s mobile shelters are deployed quicker than those donated by other organizations because his organization is in direct contact with the manufacturer; the organization has also purchased more than a dozen fire trucks …

“We are in place even in times of peace.” Eckstein says.

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Thursday, August 7th, 2014 at 9:10 AM  | 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

A Holocaust Survivor and IDF Veteran on Defending Israel

Israeli soldiers during Battle of Negba, 1948 (Photo: wikicommons)

Israeli soldiers during Battle of Negba, 1948 (Photo: wikicommons)

Yesterday Israel Hayom published a letter of support from an IDF soldier wounded during Operation Protective Edge. Today they present a letter from a Holocaust survivor and IDF veteran whose granddaughter currently serves in the Israeli military, the third generation of his family to defend a nation he so eloquently supports:

As an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, I felt an internal obligation to send a direct message of support to our soldiers serving on the front and their families. While Western hypocrisy about the conflict between Israel and Hamas eats away at my heart, I believe, as I always have, in the strength of Israel.

As a teenager, I survived Josef Mengele’s selection at Birkenau and a death march. During the selection, I was standing next to my grandfather, but my cousin shouted at me to go right. I was a handsome blond and Mengele decided to keep me alive. In Israel, I fought in the War of Independence and was wounded in the Battle of Negba. In recent weeks, I could not help but think of our soldiers in Gaza, fighting in sweltering heat inside armored personnel carriers or next to tunnels …

I am a disabled IDF veteran and a victim of Nazi persecution. The Holocaust is present in every thought of mine, particularly in my dreams. But unlike those who live in the shadow of the Holocaust, I always espouse the mantra “Masada shall not fall again.” Or as my son in the U.S. puts it, “Never again.”

I was unable to grieve for my relatives who died in the Holocaust because I was not with them when they perished and did not bury them. Since 1944, I have not cried. I have no tears, but I completely identify with bereaved families and feel their cries in my heart …

For the past month, my 20-year-old granddaughter Ella…

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Wednesday, August 6th, 2014 at 8:25 AM  | Stand For Israel

Mastermind Behind Kidnapping of Three Israeli Teens Arrested



Arutz Sheva is reporting that Israeli authorities have arrested the man thought to be the leader of the terrorist cell that kidnapped and murdered three the three Israeli teens - Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel – earlier this summer:

Hussam Kawasmeh, a resident of Hevron, was arrested in the Arab neighborhood of Shuafat in Jerusalem in a joint operation involving IDF forces and the Shabak (Israel Security Agency), and has admitted under interrogation to having orchestrated the kidnapping. It is not clear precisely when he was arrested, but news of the arrest was only released for publication on Tuesday evening.

He is a close relative of Marwan Kawasmeh (30) who, along with Amar Abu-Eisha (32), is believed to have physically abducted the three teens, murdering them shortly afterwards. Both men are well-known Hamas operatives in the Hevron region, who have both spent time in Israeli prisons.

We thank God that this terrorist and murderer can now be brought to justice, while asking that He continue to comfort the loved ones of the three boys so tragically taken from their friends and families.

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Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 at 3:28 PM  | 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
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State of Israel"

Rabbi's Commentary
Urgent Prayer Alert

Yesterday during ceasefire talks, Hamas launched 50 rockets into Israel in as single half hour — rockets targeting Ben Gurion airport, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem. The quiet is over and rockets rain down on Israel.

Read Rabbi Eckstein's message »


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