I participated in a conference call with a senior Israeli Cabinet Minister yesterday and he stated attacks on Hamas, to date, have been a huge success when figured in number of deaths and casualties among Hamas operatives and lesser ranked members. Hamas is under stress, extreme stress and were caught by surprise by Israel's actions. They have taken a beating but are not beaten.
No attacks have been or will be undertaken by the IDF/IAF unless identified as Hamas by Israeli intelligence sources which have been exceedingly accurate. Hamas consistently uses civilian houses, Mosques, commercial stores, universities and hospitals etc. to fire rockets from in order to blame Israel when these facilities are attacked by the IDF and IAF. Proof they are being used for this purpose has become increasingly evident from satellite surveilance and when, after many of these targets are attacked, collateral explosions continue for a long period from stored munitions etc.
A news interview by a Palestinian media source, intercepted by Israel intelligence, was abruptly stopped when a Palestinian girl being interviewed responded: 'Hamas was to blame' because the media interviewer did not get the response he expected.
The Israeli public understands the necessity to do what is being done and are prepared for and expect world opinion to be biased against them.
Israel's reliance upon Egypt's ability and success in carrying through on its commitment to prevent weapons supply must also be addressed. The Israeli government does not expect this will happen any time soon but are prepared to be patient. Patience is a major weapon in the Middle East and all must nurture and learn to embrace it if one is live there with any modicum of sanity.
Israel has two goals and objectives regardless of whether from air and/or ground operations:
a) Cessation of attacks on Israeli cities.
b) Cause dramatic change in flow of weapons from Egypt into Gaza. It has also been revealed many of the longer range rockets that have been fired have been made in China.
Though the speaker did not put any spin on his comments, it remains to be seen just how long Israel will persist in trying to acheive these goals and whether they can without being forced to cease because of world tolerance, ie. destruction of Gaza infrastructure, unavoidable civilian casualties etc.
Arab propaganda is a powerful weapon and the hypocrisy of bleeding hearts make them very vulnerable. Israel is always portrayed as the aggressor. Arab provocations mean nothing to appeasers.
Rasmussen Poll reveals what I would have suspected. Liberal Grass Root Democrats are overwhelmingly opposed to Israeli action, Conservative Grass Root Republicans support Israel's right to defend itself. It's a lamb lay down and be eaten thing. Liberals can't stop bleeding over the plight of defenseless terrorists? They refuse to believe the Geneva Convention allows a nation to defend itself. (See 1 below.)
Commentary from a dear friend, fellow memo reader and one who has experienced war first hand and a response to his comments from another friend and fellow reader who also responded to my question about proportionality regarding indiscriminate attacks by terrorists on civilians from 'off limit' facilities - 'a perfected terrorist technique and choice du jour.'(See 2, 2a and 2b below.)
Over the next several weeks the news and press will be full of interviews of those responding to how will the fighting end between Hamas and Israel.
For sure losing face is a critical issue for Arabs so it is unlikely Hamas will buckle unless they are punished to the point they have no choice. Therefore, the matter of time, Israel's ability to find enough significant targets to diminish Hamas' ability to continue to target Israel and world efforts to force Israel into a compromising position since it has little leverage over Hamas all become critical.
Israel has many military options left and may eventually use boots on the ground but in a most conservative way partly to protect its own and because it knows Hamas will use civilians as shields. I doubt seriously Israel cares to go as far as entering Gaza city because that would lead to senseless destruction and few useful targets but Israel is determined not to repeat the mistakes of their confrontation with Hezballah and their military been studying and restudying their mistakes and have been intensely preparing for the type of confrontation thet are currently undertaking.
We have housed several members of the IDF who have explained the intense training they have been unergoing since the Lebanese War. It is also interesting to note that as of this date Hezballah , though it encouraged Hamas, has not started a second front though that must not be ruled out.Hamas is going to be bloodied, you can bank on that.
Generalizations are just that and I admit I probably indulge more than I should. However, Arabs, like donkeys and most particularly radical terrorists, are stubborn asses and place a different value on life, if any. Pride, religion and hate far too often drive their actions. Their own feeling of self-worth, or lack thereof, their embarrassment over falling behind, their anger towards historical Colonial invaders are deep seated feelings. Furthermore, too many they see themselves as punching bags and Israel is the easiest and most convenient target for projecting their justified and unjustified frustrations and anger.
Finally, Arabs/Muslims have been abused by their own leaders and one can never discount the poverty they have been subjected to - some of which is self-induced because of poor leadership choices and their incessant succumbing to the siren song of seeking retribution against others for the wrongs and slights they feel they have endured at the hands of their supposed 'enemies'. One day, Arabs /Muslims may awake and learn POGO was right - "the enemy is us!"
A few memos ago I published a piece by a Syrian who wrote just that.
Comments from a dear friend and senior IDF officer in response to my question regarding Israel's response should the IDF enter Gaza and meet the kind of tactic Hamas and other extrreme Islamist terrorists employ, ie human shields.
It's about time and Israel seems to have taken a page from Clinton's playbook - 'you gotta do what you gotta do.' (See 3 below.)
1) Israel's Policy Is Perfectly 'Proportionate'
Hamas are the real war criminals in this conflict.
By ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ
Israel's actions in Gaza are justified under international law, and Israel should be commended for its self-defense against terrorism. Article 51 of the United Nations Charter reserves to every nation the right to engage in self-defense against armed attacks. The only limitation international law places on a democracy is that its actions must satisfy the principle of proportionality.
Since Israel ended its occupation of Gaza, Hamas has fired thousands of rockets designed to kill civilians into southern Israel. The residents of Sderot -- which have borne the brunt of the attacks -- have approximately 15 seconds from launch time to run into a shelter. Although deliberately targeting civilians is a war crime, terrorists firing at Sderot are so proud of their actions that they sign their weapons.
When Barack Obama visited Sderot this summer and saw the remnants of these rockets, he reacted by saying that if his two daughters were exposed to rocket attacks in their home, he would do everything in his power to stop such attacks. He understands how the terrorists exploit the morality of democracies.
In a recent incident related to me by the former head of the Israeli air force, Israeli intelligence learned that a family's house in Gaza was being used to manufacture rockets. The Israeli military gave the residents 30 minutes to leave. Instead, the owner called Hamas, which sent mothers carrying babies to the house.
Hamas knew that Israel would never fire at a home with civilians in it. They also knew that if Israeli authorities did not learn there were civilians in the house and fired on it, Hamas would win a public relations victory by displaying the dead. Israel held its fire. The Hamas rockets that were protected by the human shields were then used against Israeli civilians.
These despicable tactics -- targeting Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians -- can only work against moral democracies that care deeply about minimizing civilian casualties. They never work against amoral nations such as Russia, whose military has few inhibitions against killing civilians among whom enemy combatants are hiding.
The claim that Israel has violated the principle of proportionality -- by killing more Hamas terrorists than the number of Israeli civilians killed by Hamas rockets --is absurd. First, there is no legal equivalence between the deliberate killing of innocent civilians and the deliberate killings of Hamas combatants. Under the laws of war, any number of combatants can be killed to prevent the killing of even one innocent civilian.
Second, proportionality is not measured by the number of civilians actually killed, but rather by the risk posed. This is illustrated by what happened on Tuesday, when a Hamas rocket hit a kindergarten in Beer Sheva, though no students were there at the time. Under international law, Israel is not required to allow Hamas to play Russian roulette with its children's lives.
While Israel installs warning systems and builds shelters, Hamas refuses to do so, precisely because it wants to maximize the number of Palestinian civilians inadvertently killed by Israel's military actions. Hamas knows from experience that even a small number of innocent Palestinian civilians killed inadvertently will result in bitter condemnation of Israel by many in the international community.
Israel understands this as well. It goes to enormous lengths to reduce the number of civilian casualties -- even to the point of foregoing legitimate targets that are too close to civilians.
Until the world recognizes that Hamas is committing three war crimes -- targeting Israeli civilians, using Palestinian civilians as human shields, and seeking the destruction of a member state of the United Nations -- and that Israel is acting in self-defense and out of military necessity, the conflict will continue
2)Majority of Democrats oppose Israeli self-defense actions in Gaza;
Nearly two-thirds of Republicans support it.
A Rasmussen poll of American opinions of the Israel-Hamas conflict, which showed a majority of Democrats opposed to Israel's defensive actions in Gaza while nearly two-thirds of Republicans supported Israel's actions.
The latest Rasmussen poll (conducted December 30, 2008*) highlights the continuing deep division between rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans regarding support for Israel's right to defend herself. As Israel takes military action to defend herself from the continuous assault of rockets and mortars coming from Hamas-controlled Gaza, that divide is especially note-worthy.
The Rasmussen poll shows that there is a huge split between Democrats and Republicans on whether Israel should have undertaken the current military action against Hamas. Democrats opposed the Israeli action 31%-55% and Republicans supported Israel's course of action 62%-27%.
This is not an isolated instance. We saw a similar split between Democrats and Republicans when Israel fought Hezbollah forces in Lebanon in the summer of 2006. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in late July 2006 showed that among Republicans, an overwhelming 84% said they sympathized more with Israel (1% sympathized more with Arab states); by comparison, just 43% of Democrats did so (12% sympathize more with Arab states). In a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll at the very end of July, when asked whether the U.S. should be more neutral in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah or whether the U.S. should align itself with Israel, Democrats supported neutrality over alignment, 54% to 39%. However, by comparison, Republicans strongly supported alignment with the Jewish state, 64% to 29%.
Though many Democratic congressional leaders have offered their unqualified support of Israel, an overwhelming majority of Democrats at the grassroots level oppose Israel's self-defensive action.
2a)Hello Dick, Yes , it's about time, and in fact long overdue! The last few days have been quite interesting, with TV films attesting to the aim of the Israeli AF and to the accuracy of Israeli intelligence, which has resulted in some very nice "secondaries," as well as in the loss of at least one key Hamas player . It is my hope that Israel will invade and permanently reoccupy Gaza , thus calling the Iranian bluff of this AM. What is most disturbing is the whining of the left-wing press about the "disproportional" Israeli response. There is no such thing as "proportionality" in war. I am, of course, an adherent of the abhorrent Clausewitz school, but I still believe that getting it over quickly, without the interference of diplomats , is the best way to do things. Such an approach will result in less casualties in the long run. If we had fought WWII with proportional guidelines, the war would still be going on---and we'd be fighting in California and New England.
2b)Your friend is more than right. Proportionality means Israel has to produce Kassam rockets.... It also infers that for each rocket it sends one rocket and yet even then Israel will still have less casualties because it is better protected and has better medical service. So then the idiots on the LEFT will complain that the Gazans have more victims... One can win this argument only by STEADFASTLY insisting on cause and effect and about legality of self defense.
As for targeting civilians from 'off limit' facilities: Clearly a violation of the Geneva Convention not to shoot from amongst civilians onto civilians. But if the Left wants proportionality then Israel should blow them off.
3)If in the fighting Hamas uses their citizens as human shields, we plough right through them. Life is a bitch and then you die. We have bombed schools, universities, and mosques in this war when we knew for sure they were stashed with arms and terrorists. I have no doubt the hospital down there has hundreds of terrorists holed out, but that one is a no no, I guess.