Category Archives: Gaza

Goldstone Again: What to make of the Israeli Response

It’s time to take up Goldstone again. The Israelis have released the results of their investigation in four parts, and at some point in the not too distant future, they’ll release their final findings.

The Operation in Gaza: Factual and Legal Aspects (July 2009)
Gaza Operation Investigations: Update (Jan 2010)
ITIC: Hamas and the Terror Threat from the Gaza Strip (March 2010)
Gaza Operation Investigations: Second Update (July 2010)

I am preparing with others a systematic study comparing Goldstone’s findings with those of the Israeli army. I’ll post up each significant incident in turn.

Right now, I want to suggest reading two pieces, one pro, one contra Goldstone. Comments welcome.

Elder of Ziyon, Goldstone: Asymmetric Legal Warfare

Yaniv Reich, New Israeli report on Operation Cast Lead confirms Goldstone report’s main findings

First thoughts on Rosner’s first comments

Monday May 31, 2010
Rosner’s Domain: First comments on the Gaza flotilla disaster
Posted by SHMUEL ROSNER

Details are still sketchy as I write this post, so all is subjected to changes. However, here are a couple of things that need to be watched, and understood at this time. I will update this post as we go along.

1. Obviously, this was not the intended result of Israel’s intercepting of the convoy. Did Israel know in advance that the soldiers will be ambushed? If not, that is a problem. Maybe the problem. If they did, how did Israel prepare the forces and what was the plan for taking over the ships

Agreed.

2. With all the all-too-familiar outcry about public relations, public opinion, world opinion, Israel’s image etc, one has to remember that PR – as important as it might be – is not all in life. Definitely not all in military life. If force had to be used as to prevent the flotilla from going into Gaza – if there was no way around it – than PR becomes a secondary issue and will have to be dealt with later.

It’s not that simple. If the IDF didn’t anticipate this, and they didn’t have at least one photographer with every landing team, then that’s a failure to understand what this is about. This is cognitive warfare and the violence is for effect, not for victory. If you drop the cognitive and just focus on the military, you’ve taken your eye off the ball. PR is not secondary; it’s above all primary in this situation. This doesn’t mean you let soldiers by killed for PR, but it means that if you’re going to have to kill – as this case turned out to be – then you damn well better have your ass covered.

Israeli Army claims their troops were attacked by “peaceful” militants

This just came from the Army Spokesperson’s office:

IDF Forces Met with Pre-Planned Violence when attempting to Board Flotilla

Early this morning, IDF Naval Forces intercepted six ships attempting to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. This happened after numerous warnings from Israel and the Israel Navy that were issued prior to the action. The Israel Navy requested the ships to redirect toward Ashdod where they would be able to unload their aid material which would then be transferred over land after undergoing security inspections.

During the intercept of the ships, the demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs. Additionally one of the weapons used was grabbed from an IDF soldier. The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose.

As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces employed riot dispersal means, including live fire.

According to initial reports, these events resulted in over ten deaths among the demonstrators and numerous injured, in addition, more than four naval personnel were injured, some from gunfire and some from various other weapons. Two of the soldiers are moderately wounded and the remainder sustained light injuries. All of the injured, Israelis and foreigners are currently being evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Israel.

Reports from IDF forces on the scene are that it seems as if part of the participants onboard the ships were planning to lynch the forces.

The events are ongoing, and information will be updated as soon as possible. Israeli Naval commander, Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom is overseeing the events.

In the coming hours, the ships will be directed to the Ashdod port, while IDF naval forces will perform security checks in order to identify the people on board the ships and their equipment. The IDF Spokesman conveys that this event is currently unfolding and further details will be provided as soon as possible.

This IDF naval operation was carried out under orders from the political leadership to halt the flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip and breaching the naval blockade.

The interception of the flotilla followed numerous warnings given to the organizers of the flotilla before leaving their ports as well as while sailing towards the Gaza Strip. In these warnings, it was made clear to the organizers that they could dock in the Ashdod sea port and unload the equipment they are carrying in order to deliver it to the Gaza Strip in an orderly manner, following the appropriate security checks. Upon expressing their unwillingness to cooperate and arrive at the port, it was decided to board the ships and lead them to Ashdod.

IDF naval personnel encountered severe violence, including use of weaponry prepared in advance in order to attack and to harm them. The forces operated in adherence with operational commands and took all necessary actions in order to avoid violence, but to no avail.

Additional information:

Rosner on the fog of conflict, now and then:

http://cgis.jpost.com/Blogs/rosner/entry/first_comments_on_the_gaza

Haaretz:

Ben Eliezer: regrets, but NB: after troops came under fire

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-mulls-cancelling-u-s-trip-in-wake-of-gaza-flotilla-deaths-1.293187?localLinksEnabled=false

Latest from JPost:

http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?ID=176970

http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?ID=176963

YNet:
soldiers attacked with live ammunition

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3896500,00.html

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3896431,00.html

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3896416,00.html

Rosemary Church covers the “Gaza Armada” story: As journalism, it’s an F

Comments welcome.

Foolish Cowards: The Flotilla Shows its Colors

In an op-ed which will hopefully appear in a Swedish newspaper and which I will then post here, I wrote about the bizarre behavior of the European progressives participating in this “flotilla of fools” to Gaza.

    The only people this flotilla does assist, are the elected leaders of Gaza, Hamas. Here it gets curious. These European saviors think that they will help these leaders help their people. But Hamas is not a social democratic regime. It is a pre-modern, predatory élite that exploits its people, in this case, theocratic fanatics who promised an end to domestic corruption, and honor in the struggle for Palestine, and gave their people instead, death, destruction, and more misery. Even its kindergartens teach their death cult.

    And more corruption. When Israel recently opened its crossing in the far south, militants targeted it with Qassams on behalf of the tunnel moguls, who were losing money as prices dropped. With the material Hamas garnered through those tunnels – especially cement – they now rebuild their prison and more police stations, as well as a shopping center where Hamas employees get special privileges.

    As for the wretched people who lost their homes in a war Hamas did much to provoke… it’s Israel’s fault. Let the do-gooder Western progressives pressure Israel to open the borders to cement. Hamas has a vested in the blockade: it secures their power. This flotilla comes not to the aid of blockaded Palestinians, but to the aid of those people responsible for the blockade.

Now today this article in Ynet (HT/TB5Y) about an exchange between the Shalit family and the organizers — who all invoke great zeal for human rights the world over — reveals an interesting dimension to their problems identifying reality.

Shalit family’s offer to back Gaza flotilla declined

Kidnapped soldier’s family asks organizers of aid mission to urge Hamas to allow international organizers to visit him. Family’s attorney: I thought they supported human rights
Ahiya Raved
Published: 05.27.10, 13:46 / Israel News

Gilad Shalit’s family offered to support the international flotilla to Gaza if its participants would demand that Hamas permit various organizations to visit the kidnapped Israeli soldier and allow him to receive packages.

Members of the campaign for Shalit’s release said the organizers of the international aid mission to Gaza declined the offer.

Attorney Nick Kaufman, who approached the Free Gaza Movement on behalf of the kidnapped soldier’s family, told Ynet that he offered the flotilla’s organizers the family’s full support provided that “in addition to their demand that Israel lift its blockade they will urge Hamas to allow the soldier to receive letters and food packages from his family and allow international organizations to visit him.”

According to Kaufman, he was referred to the movement’s legal counsel, who rejected the offer.

It would be nice to know the wording of the response. Always valuable to know how people explain themselves publicly.

“I thought this movement supports human rights, as it claims, but according to the reaction it seems that it is only interested in provocation and expressing support for a terror group that doesn’t really care about human rights,” said the attorney.

Now there are two scenarios here. 1) They are afraid to ask for fear of alienating Hamas; 2) they feel Shalit is not a victim, but an aggressor, and therefore not their concern.

Ben Wedeman trying to undermine Israel on its Aid to Gaza: But even he has to admit…

Here’s Ben Wedeman in the second week of the war commenting on Israel’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, by supplying Gazans with aid.

This is a particular gem of MSNM moral and intellectual confusion since his overall thrust is that Israel’s aid is a) just PR for show, b) pretty pathetic given that “ironically, their actually bombing the place,” and c) that no one’s impressed in Gaza since Israel’s to blame for the blockade in the first place. In the process of dismissing Israel’s effort, he makes an error which forces him to correct himself in mid-stream, which then leads him in another direction. The result: a revealing piece of euphemistic nonsense well worth savoring.

Well Israel has allowed a steady number of trucks coming with humanitarian goods uh into Gaza. This rather ironically as they’re actually bombing the place they’re sending food in as well. My understanding is 66 trucks went in today, so they do want to be at least seen as, as uh caring or providing or allowing others to provide humanitarian relief to the civilian population. Uh, but that sort of thing doesn’t necessarily go down very well, because it’s only Israel that controls the crossings, uh, into Gaza, with the exception of the one in Egypt and uh so, therefore if Israel were to cut off the supply altogether, uh, they would depend on Egypt and that’s not a good, uh, place to depend on.

Let’s take this piece apart:

Goldstone vs. Talal abu Rahmah on Hamas’ human shields: Whom to believe

As any serious reader of this blog knows, I don’t have a lot of respect for Talal abu Rahmah, the seeing of whose rushes (see below) for September 30, 2000 inspired the term Pallywood. So what to think when he and another favorite unreliable rogue in my gallery disagree?

The Goldstone Report, at paragraph 481, takes up the subject of whether Hamas deliberately hid among civilians.

¶481. On the basis of the information it gathered, the Mission is unable to form an opinion on the exact nature or the intensity [emphasis added] of their [Hamas’] combat activities in urban residential areas that would have placed the civilian population and civilian objects at risk of attack. While reports reviewed by the Mission credibly indicate that members of Palestinian armed groups were not always dressed in a way that distinguished them from civilians, the Mission found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack [emphasis added].

Moshe Halbertal in “The Goldstone Illusion,” not an author known for his sarcasm, remarks on Goldstone’s cautious conclusion:

The reader of such a sentence might well wonder what its author means. Did Hamas militants not wear their uniforms because they were inconveniently at the laundry? What other reasons for wearing civilian clothes could they have had, if not for deliberately sheltering themselves among the civilians?

So imagine my surprise when I ran across the following gem from Talal abu Rahmah in a phone interview with a CNN reporter on January 2, 2009:

Hamas, they are under cover, all of them they are civilians now, you don’t see any militants around you, even the cars I don’t know if the car in front of me or in the back of me, if it’s a target or not.

Whom to believe?

Here I think Talal has told us the truth. Why? Partly because he’s showing off. “This is really difficult and scary. I have to do my job, what can I do. Now Hamas…” After presenting himself as a brave journalist who has to do what he must, he jumps on Hamas’ contrasting behavior.

But also, I think he tells us this in part because he thinks the journalist interviewing him is too stupid to notice what a revelation he’s handed her.

And he’s right. Her next question is not: “So Hamas is hiding among civilians and endangering the population? That’s a war crime. How do people feel about that?” Instead it’s the kind of nauseating experiential post-modern journalism that the Gaza war was full of, where the interviewer gives Talal a platform to vaunt his courage, his “in-his-blood” journalism, and the dangers he runs.

Tell us more about how it feels, Talal, send us more pictures, and stay safe. Why without you, we might have to think.

Appendix: Talal’s rushes as presented to the French court (17 of the 21 minutes).

One Man, One (Stupid) Vote, One Time: Bronner on Gaza and Democracy in the Arab world

Ethan Bronner, who probably should think twice before going back to Gaza, has an interesting article in the NYT on feelings in Gaza. According to him, the isolation and devastation that Gazans see around them has led them to rethink their support for Hamas. This goes counter to the “conventional wisdom” of most Western observers, who berate Israel both in principle — collective punishment — and in practice — it backfires.

But ironically, many of those who make that argument are also the people who jump on Hamas’ election as proof of democracy. They thereby offer a magnificent example of the way “progressives” treat Palestinians as children who must, at all costs, be protected from the consequences of their actions. Democracy without responsibility. What an excellent formula for the 21st century!

In the interviews, we get some insights into the way Palestinians — here, largely the professional, middle class — thought about the elections.

Opportunities Fade Amid Sense of Isolation in Gaza
By ETHAN BRONNER
Published: October 26, 2009

GAZA — The bank executive sits in a suit and tie behind his broad empty desk with plenty of time to talk. Almost no loans are being issued or corporate plans made. The Texas-trained engineer closed his firm because nothing is being built. The business student who dreamed of attending an American university — filling a computer file with meticulous hopes and plans — has stopped dreaming. He goes from school to a part-time job to home, where he joins his merchant father who sits unemployed.

Ten months after the Israeli military said it invaded this Palestinian coastal strip to stop the daily rocket fire of its Islamist rulers, there are many ways to measure the misery of Gaza.

Bits of rubble are being cleared, but nothing is going up. Several thousand homes remain destroyed. Several dozen families still live in United Nations tents strung amid their ruined houses. A three-year-old embargo on Hamas imposed by Israel and Egypt keeps nearly all factories shut and supplies away. Eighty percent of the population gets some form of assistance.

At least Bonner is honest enough to admit that the embargo is Egyptian as well as Israeli, something many, including Goldstone, do not concede explicitly. This point will be important, and absent, later on.