August 30, 2014

Gaza War Grade: Incomplete

The IDF prevented a disaster by demolishing the tunnels through which Hamas had planned surprise terror for Rosh Hashanah. The rockets, guns, IDF uniforms, handcuffs, drugs, and even motorcycles stored in the tunnels were to be used in massive attacks and kidnappings at kibbutzim and homes closest to the Gaza border.

Dozens of other tunnels and huge stockpiles of weapons were destroyed. The IDF killed many terrorists and a number of Hamas terrorist leaders. According to a poll conducted by Geocartography Institute, 61% of Israelis feel that the IDF won.

But interestingly, the question was framed in this way: “Do you agree with the statement that the IDF won while Israel lost?” That a majority agreed with this statement may be explained by another question in the same poll: 

Respondents expressed frustration with the ceasefire that ended the operation with Hamas still in power in the Gaza Strip. Fifty-eight percent said the IDF should have been allowed to continue the operation in order to degrade the terrorist organization’s military abilities and called the truce a mistake that wastes the achievements of the Israeli armed forces.

Meanwhile, as in previous wars, Hamas has declared itself victorious.  An excellent Gatestone Institute article explains what’s wrong with that assessment and even Mahmoud Abbas blames Hamas for the deaths and destruction in Gaza that he now says “could have been avoided.”

The photo above (why is there no dust on that white robe?) represents winning to Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader who has not appeared in Gaza during the war until now and is pictured here, smiling, raising his hand in a V for victory sign amid the rubble of his own house.

August 18, 2014

UN, Media: No Outrage

Last week in Syria, one percent of the al-Sheitaat tribe was killed, 700 people, some by beheading. Their murderers are members of ISIS, known also as Islamic State.

On a single weekend last month, another 700 people were killed in Syria. Syria’s war death toll is up to nearly 200,000.

This past Friday, in one small village in Iraq, ISIS executed 80 Kurdish men and kidnapped 100 women and children. Elsewhere in Iraq, they hauled off 300 Kurdish women to rape. Young girls returned to their families and committed suicide.

On a single day this month, ISIS slaughtered 1,500 Iraqi Christians. Christians have been fleeing Iraq, where they will be murdered unless they convert to Islam. At least 200,000 have fled to Kurdistan.

Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority apparently believe that ISIS is responsible for some of the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. 

ISIS objects that Hamas is “not doing enough to destroy Israel” and Hamas considers ISIS to be a threat to their own power.  But they have the same long-term goals—establishing an Islamic caliphate.

A practical difference between ISIS and Hamas at the moment is that Hamas is attacking Israel, a strong country with a strong army. The Jews of Iraq, a community with a 2500-year history, experienced over many years what the Iraqi Christians are experiencing now. There are no longer Jews in Iraq.

Like ISIS, Hamas uses terror, targets civilians, and executes political opponents. They kill their own people as “suspected collaborators.” Using cement intended for building homes to instead build terror tunnels, setting up headquarters in hospitals, launching rockets from neighborhoods, ordering their own citizens not to evacuate dangerous areas and at the same time preventing or intimidating journalists from filming or reporting Hamas’s actions are all in line with their strategies that may seem more complex than those used by ISIS. But their larger agendas are the same.

That there is so little attention to the horrific slaughters by ISIS or to the violence and subterfuge of Hamas threatens all of us who are their intended targets.

--published at Times of Israel

August 11, 2014

Ceasefire Media Fail

How hard is it to tell when a ceasefire is broken?  Aren’t there thousands of eyewitnesses?

In fact, all of the ceasefires have been broken when rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. 

So why the misleading language?  

“Gaza Attacks Resume as Ceasefire Expires; Truce Talks Up in the Air.” That’s the LA Times on the latest ceasefire. If you read carefully, almost between the lines, you can figure out that Israel did not break the ceasefire.  But it is as if the paper is trying for lack of clarity, casting doubt on the story even as it tells it, and using quote marks around “terror sites,” as if these might be something other than terror sites:

The Israeli army spokesman’s office said in a statement that “terror sites” across Gaza had been targeted following the resumption of Palestinian rocket fire. Hamas disavowed responsibility for the initial volleys of rockets after the cease-fire’s end, with smaller Palestinian factions claiming to have carried out the attacks.
At least two projectiles were intercepted by Israel’s antimissile system, with others falling in open areas in southern Israel.
Since the Iron Dome intercepted two “projectiles,” that is, rockets, there really isn’t a question about who broke the ceasefire. A “smaller faction” of Gaza terrorists rather than the larger faction, Hamas, still clearly means the attacks are coming from Gaza though the headline suggests attacks on Gaza or that the ceasefire expired due to actions from both sides.

Similarly—but more so—The Guardian’s headline, “Israel and Hamas Resume Attacks as ceasefire talks remain deadlocked” suggests that the failure of the talks caused the fighting to “resume” rather than the refusal of Hamas to continue the ceasefire. The Guardian also uses quotes around “terrorist targets” to even greater obfuscation than the LA Times, by not indicating that Hamas places their launchers and rockets in these locations:

Israel's military said it had hit 33 "terrorist targets" since midnight. These included several mosques and houses across the length of Gaza.
And CNN equalizes the ending of the ceasefire with this headline, “Israel Carries Out Strikes on Gaza After Rocket Fire Resumes.” After twenty-four paragraphs detailing the ongoing fighting and Hamas demands, the article does include a quote from Israeli UN Ambassador, Ron Proser responding to UN President, Ban Ki Moon:

"Your statement said that you were disappointed that the parties were unable to agree to an extension of the ceasefire. I couldn't help but notice that you didn't mention one of the parties, which happens to be the party that violated the ceasefire. This party has a name -- they are called Hamas."

August 05, 2014

Where is the Hamas Offensive?

We get constant news of the “Israeli offensive” and the “Gaza offensive” but both refer to action by Israel. What about the Hamas offensive?

This phrase does not exist in mainstream media.  It doesn’t come up in a Google search.

And without the concept of  “Hamas offensive,” the fact that Israel is fighting a defensive war stays out of focus.

American and UK media report on IDF soldiers and Palestinian civilians.  Hamas fighters are invisible.

We hear about Hamas rockets, though not often about the ones landing inside Gaza. Mostly the rockets are mentioned in terms of their uselessness against the rather mysterious Iron Dome.

Israelis who are not currently serving in the IDF are nearly as invisible as Hamas fighters.  As the war reporting continues, Israelis seem to be receding into the background, as if each story is titled, “what did the IDF do to Gaza today?”

The gruesome casualty count continuously reported from Gaza -- but not from other conflicts -- does not distinguish Palestinian combatants from civilians.

The source for this count, so far, is Hamas itself or the Gaza Health Service that is run by Hamas. And the familiar words: “most of them civilian,” cannot be accurate given that a majority are men of fighting age.

Simultaneous strikes at a Gaza hospital and the Shati refugee camp provoked outrage. Israel showed photos to demonstrate that they were not targeting these areas and reiterated that they never target civilians.  But media went with identifying Israeli strikes or equalizing Hamas and Israeli “claims.”

Yet, whenever a reporter is brave enough to say what’s really happening we hear the truth, as occurred last week in tweets from Italian reporter, Gabriele Barbati:

Out of #Gaza far from #Hamas retaliation: misfired rocket killed children yday in Shati. Witness: militants rushed and cleared debris
@IDFSpokesperson said truth in communique released yesterday about Shati camp massacre. It was not #Israel behind it

Journalists could help by acknowledging the limitations of their sources and the intimidation reporters and photographers face from Hamas.  There could be blazing headlines with information of the kind Gabriele Barbati shared.

Luckily, there are some in the media who do get it.  But right now, they’re the exceptions.

 published at Honest Reporting