Archive for the ‘International’ Category

According to recent reports, Hamas negotiates with Gaza’s other armed factions to establish a unilateral cease-fire, after killing eight Israelis on August 18th – and more, via rocket attacks. While some might believe it suggests Hamas is scared and wants to prevent further destruction of its assets, it is likely that the scheme is more sophisticated than that.

Hamas understood in advance that attacking Israeli civilians would provoke Israeli response and no condemnation of the Arab league would defend the Strip. Realizing political winds around the world, though – UN in particular – Ismayil Haniyeh, Hamas’ leader in Gaza believed he could terrorize Israelis, scoring points with his superiors and some neighbors, while suffering relatively little to no damage.

Haniyeh understands that leveraging international press – as well as bodies such as the United Nations and the Arab League – is a cinch; on all previous occasions, the international community was quick to call upon Israel to halt counter-operations in Gaza. The talk of a cease-fire is no more than a ruse to leave the scene unscathed, after achieving Hamas’ goals.

When Hamas declares another lull – which never is what Hamas claims it to be – Israel will have two options. Either abide by the newly set game rules, hence suffering political defeat vis-à-vis Gaza, or continue the armed campaign. The latter option is also split into two: either Israel keeps destroying Gazan targets from the air (mostly an ineffective tactic) or it moves into Gaza with armed forces, an operation similar to 2008-09 operation Cast Lead.

Haniyeh calculated that whatever path Israel chooses, Hamas wins. If Israel halts its attacks, Hamas claims it won the battle. If Israel keeps bombarding the area, each civilian casualty (real or invented by Palestinian press handlers) plays against the Jewish state. And, finally, if Israel moves into Gaza with ground forces, Gaza’s ruler is confident the Israelis will not cause significant damage to Hamas’ infrastructure, learning his lessons from past experiences.

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IDF troops attacked on board Mavi Marmara Israeli right-wing human rights group Shurath ha-Deen (aka Israel Law Center) sent an official letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting the latter to start an investigation into US-based ‘Free Gaza’ movement. The group that led an assault on IDF soldier on board the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ last week, backs Gaza-based Hamas and harshly criticized Israel, with some comments bordering on anti-Semitism:

The Free Gaza organization is providing military assistance to Hamas by attempting to break the Israeli blockade while Hamas continues its attacks on Israeli civilians, Darshan-Leitner said. In doing so, it is taking part in attacking a state friendly to America – a violation of the U.S. Neutrality Act (18 U.S.C. 960).

The Neutrality Act states, “Whoever, within the United States, knowingly begins or sets on foot or provides or prepares a means for or furnishes the money for, or takes part in, any military or naval expedition or enterprise to be carried on from thence against the territory or dominion of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people with whom the United States is at peace, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both." ( Channel 7 News )

FREE GAZA IS known for its anti-Israel stand. As the group set sail for Gaza, it was asked to transfer a package to Israeli POW Gilad Shalit, in exchange for Shalit family’s official support for the sail. The group refused. Later, the group posted a set of testimonies of their website, calling them ‘Survivor testimonies’. According to the radical group, IDF soldiers used violence on all ships, although no evidence of such on vessels other than Mavi Marmara was produces. Moreover, all testimonies discard IDF-posted videos and pictures, illustrating heavily skewed picture. Among other things, the activists claimed the soldiers used live fire prior to landing on the ship and at the moment of touchdown itself. However, Free Gaza failed to explain why its activists are seen strolling on all decks of Mavi Marmara, if the ship was indeed under live fire.

On its Flickr photo stream, the group published most flattering images of themselves, picturing the activists caring for the injured soldiers. Missing from the stream are other pictures – where troops are seen injured, on the floor, with persons holding them at knifepoint. It is propaganda at its best.

Best testimony to Free Gaza’s fervent anti-Israel stance is the GPS map posted on its co-website, WitnessGaza:

GPS map posted on WitnessGaza.Com

Capture2 The map fully ignores Israel (as well as the West Bank and Gaza, for that matter), but details borders and cities in Jordan and Lebanon. The logo promoting the website is a blunt propaganda, showing IDF troops assaulting the ships (from Mi-26, surprisingly), with activists pulling the injured. Unsurprisingly, there’s no evidence of relentless beating the soldiers endured onboard.

 

In the meanwhile, Israel seems to enjoy support in the United States, an additional incentive for Eric Holder, who constantly takes flak over various issues and enjoys relatively little popularity among the American people.

In a most recent expression of such support, Democrat John Kerry countered critics’ accusations of Israel being a ‘liability’ for the US. Democrat Chuck Schumer sent a letter to US Secretary of State Clinton, asking the State Department to investigate linkage between organizations backing the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ and various terror groups:

Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a key player in US President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, said that "there are obviously tensions with respect to certain policies" but that Israel "has every right in the world to make certain that weapons are not being smuggled in after the thousands of rockets that have been fired on it from Gaza."

Schumer demanded that the adminisration examine whether IHH provided financial, logistic and material support to any organization included the State Department’s list of terror groups.
According to the senator, IHH funded terror organizations and send rebels to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. He also called for a probe into a French judge’s claim that IHH was involved in an attempt to bomb the Los Angeles Airport in late 1999. ( Ynet )

Fueling further backing of Israeli by Obama administration, recent Rasmussen poll shows only 19% of Americans believing Israel should bear blame for grave outcome of IDF’s Marmara boarding. 32% were not sure, while staggering 49% defended Israel’s actions.

Turkish ‘peace activists’ attempted to further humiliate Israeli ‘Flotilla 13’ soldiers, by underscoring that the soldiers felt threatened and feared for their lives:

One of the activists, who identified himself as Mahir Tan, said, "The three Israeli commandoes were helpless in our hands, the lives of these children were at our discretion."

"As a former commando I could have used the weapon in a skilled manner, but because we were the defenders of the ship, we didn’t do it. I took the gun, unloaded it and kept it as proof to Israel’s villainy – and that they intended to kill me," he added.

"They looked at us, and thought we were about to kill them, but then we let them go," he said.

(Ynet)

KENNETH O’KEEFE, AN activist on board the ship – identified by the IDF as having terror ties – then went on to make a statement worth mentioning:

"I took one of their guns, and another activist grabbed him. He had a 9mm gun. We didn’t use the weapons against the Israeli soldiers. I unloaded the magazine and took out the bullets – we didn’t come here to fight," he said.

It is interesting to note that O’Keefe is a former marine and has experience with firearms. It is interesting that he mentioned the caliber of the firearm, as IDF claimed the troops used ammunition different from the standard 9mm bullets. With this particular statement, O’Keefe attempts to promote his own version of events, by claiming the Israelis lied about the arms used on the ship.

Turksih Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan criticized release of the images released by the IHH, showing injured IDF soldiers, claiming the photographs harm Turkey’s image, while Israeli authorities released a statement saying the images proved that some soldiers were kidnapped by the rioters on board Mavi Marmara. However, he went on and continued verbal attack on Israel, stating today that the Jewish state should ‘put an end to the occupation of Arab lands’. Now that we know Erdogan aligns himself tightly with terror groups such as Hamas, we can only imagine that by ‘Arab lands’ he means same as they do – a ‘Palestine’ from Jordan river to the Mediterranean. Erdogan made the statements during joint press conference with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, further pitching himself against the Western world. Assad himself made steps to kiss Erdogan’s rear end, saying Syria is ‘about actions’. Hopefully for himself, Erdogan remembers that in past conflicts with Israel, Syria promised much but did little, costing Egypt the Sinai Peninsula and effectively helping Jordan lose control of the West Bank.

They stepped out onto the deck and sat in a neat line. The captain escorted several men and told them to join the group. The boats were very close now. People on the deck felt calm, however, despite their adversaries’ olive-green uniforms and military gear. They knew that as long as they kept their hands to themselves, they will be spared any abuse.

Thus, passengers of infamous vessel Rachel Corrie offered no violent resistance to the IDF soldiers and – according to military sources – cooperated with the boarding troops. Soon enough, the soldiers – now in control of the boat – brought Corrie to the Ashdod port, where passengers, as well as the cargo, were offloaded. Israeli officials even praised the activists, hailing their non-violent protest. Sadly, the cargo will have to wait, as Hamas government bars entry of ‘Freedom Flotilla’s goods into the Gaza Strip – a curious occurrence in itself, as Hamas claims people literally die on Gaza streets. Where is the empathy?

The empathy is left down in the sea, with the propaganda. Hamas isn’t the only movement which denies Gazans’ access to aid – so is Free Gaza, the movement that allegedly champions Palestinian cause and risks own lives (or, should I say, lives of others) to promote radical agenda, as illustrated by IDF’s most recent audio clip. In it, Israeli Navy officers attempt to resolve Rachel Corrie standoff peacefully, without the need to border the ship. Moreover, the Israeli Defense Force offers transfer of the goods into Gaza by an independent NGOs – not the army – yet, Free Gaza activists decline the offer. I guess it’s better for the aid to rot at the border.

Expectedly, Free Gaza crowd receives support from some of the most radical elements around the world – from Hamas to Turkey to Iran. Some reports went as far as claim Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan might himself visit Gaza to personally break the blockade – a circus we’d all love to see (the report was later dismissed by Turkish officials). Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad offered (no political play here, of course) the Revolutionary Guards to escort future ‘Freedom Flotilla’ convoys – a spectacular view no doubt. Iran’s tactic at sea, you might remember from its recent exercises, is use of multiple very small rocket boats to swarm and attack its target. It is likely those could be easily destroyed by the Israeli Air Force.

Israeli authorities say they’ve uncovered terrorist support for the flotilla, as some ‘peace activists’ arrested on board Mavi Marmara were directly involved with terror activities, such as funding or training terror groups. And last – but not least – German Jewish group just announced they would support Free Gaza by organizing a ‘blockade-busting’ flotilla of their own. Well, ‘flotilla’ is too tough a word – scheduled for July, activists have a single boat, filled with 12 to 16 persons.

 

'Flotilla 13' soldier held at knifepoint by 'Mavi Marmara' crew Far from politics, various sources released more information about the mess on board Mavi Marmara. First reports by Israeli sites claimed several IDF soldiers were kidnapped by Marmara crew after being beaten by ‘peace activists’. While at first critics doubted such allegations, later in the day Turkish newspaper released pictures of injured IDF soldiers, held at knifepoint by the ‘Freedom Flotilla’. The pictures further enraged Israelis and shifted somewhat opinion in the international press towards Israel’s point of view. The intent of Turkish Hurriyet was to humiliate the injured soldiers, headlining the article “Tears of a Commando”.

On the Israeli side, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to diminish the conflict between Israel and Turkey, by diverting attention from sail’s organizers to the extremists themselves. In a cabinet meeting, Netanyahu claimed the few dozen activists who attacked the IDF soldiers on board Mavi Marmara organized and boarded the ship separately from the IHH and Free Gaza activists, thus exploiting the sail for own purposes. Turkish behavior, however, seems to counter those claims.

 

Despite fiery speeches and unequivocal support of local media, Turkey faced harsh criticism from some famed quarters around the world. The New York Times’ editorial, for example, snubbed Thanksgiving country’s government for going radical, saying that while extremist rhetoric might score few points for Erdogan among his people, he will find it much harder to convert his coarse language into reality:

Mr. Erdogan may find it hard to walk things back when he needs to — and he will.

(Ynet)

Erdogan, however, might already be in trouble, according to some experts, who say Erdogan’s passionate rhetoric is the result of predictions his party will lose upcoming elections next year. The analysts say Erdogan sees support for his Islamic Movement diminish, thus he attempts to restore some faith in his policies and influence the vox populi.

Erdogan and Free Gaza movement find themselves in deeper trouble, as their claims of ‘illegal blockade’ and ‘illegal raid in international waters’ is being crushed to pieces by legal experts around the world. In an interview to BBC, Douglas Guilfoyle, a maritime lawyer and a lecturer at University College London, claimed that while the issue is complex and requires thorough investigation, Israel’s actions might be within parameters set by the international law. In a Reuters Q&A, several experts claim that Israel is allowed to board vessels declaring they are about to breach an imposed blockade – even if it means boarding the ships in international waters. Moreover, Reuters says Israel’s interception of Gaza-bound ships could be applied globally, as long as ship’s declared goal is to breach Israeli-imposed blockade. The only areas where Israel cannot uphold its blockade is waters of a neutral, third-party state.

Most importantly, Turkish violence, vile allegations and demands enraged the Israelis – from IDF supporters to satirists. Several demonstrations in support of the IDF were held in Israel throughout past few days. While handful radical Left-wing activists – supported by Israeli Palestinians – marched through Tel Aviv, calling upon the government to lift blockade on Gaza, most Israelis offered explicit support for the troops and the government. With feelings of persecution rising among Israeli Jewish population, Benjamin Netanyahu managed to keep nation’s spirit strong.

Some pro-Israel NGOs and blogs take on the job to counter anti-Israel claims and press. In one post, Little Green Footballs – a blog that revealed a ‘doctored’ photo in Reuters’ report during Second Lebanon War, again encountered dubious practice by the wire service, where picture released to subscribers excluded a knife held by an ‘activist’. A slew of others stood up for Israel, such as Elder of Ziyon, CAMERA, News That Matters, Augean Stables, and many others. These blogs identified and collected much information on legal issues, as well as inaccuracies reported by Free Gaza and the likes.

To contribute to national pride, a satirical group Latmah released a video clip, based on famous song ‘We are the World’. The Israeli version – named ‘We Con the World’, has already seen over 1,100,000 views – and still rising. The video – posted four days after first report on the incident by Al Jazeera English – still surpassed the latter by 400,000 views. Turkish expressions of outrage over the clip produced no damage to its popularity.

On the other side of the activist aisle, some Israeli students set off to organize own flotilla into Turkish territory, with supplies to nations oppressed by Erdogan’s radical regime – the Armenians and the Kurds. The organizers are yet to set a date for the humanitarian mission, but claim their goal is to set sail by the end of the week.

IDF's 'Flotilla 13' soldier attacked and dragged by the IHH Mere two days after Israeli Defense Forces boarded the ‘Freedom Flotilla’, where they were beaten, stabbed, clubbed and shot at, Turkish ‘Palestinian rights group’ IHH thanked Israel for the ‘publicity’:

"We thank Israel for its raid," said Omar Faruk, a member of the organization’s directorate. "We’ve become famous."

(Ynet)

I believe this quote precisely point to the insanity of the ‘activists’, who hail a victory in propaganda battle, over mourning their loss.

On the flip side, however, Israel has much to thank IHH for. As few times before, IHH’s attempt to murder IDF troops on board Mavi Marmara brought all Israelis together in their vehement support for the IDF and their country, save for Israeli Palestinians and most radical Left wingers.

I spoke to a woman today, who in the past shared with me she voted for the extremist MERETZ party. This faction is advocating conceding as much as possible to the Palestinians. Her stance, however, surprised me:

“I am Left wing and everything, but I understand we have to defend our country.”

Hers is an expression of feeling familiar to many Israelis today. With the international community viciously attacking the Jewish state and relentlessly denying it any opportunity to effectively defend itself, the Israelis feel at the brink. Many – amongst themselves – restore memories of the World War II, where peoples of Europe were slaughtered, and powerful nations stood on the sidelines.

But with fear comes strength. As during the 2008-9 operation Cast Lead, the 1982 Peace of Galilee and 1967 Six Days War, Israelis feel protective of their country and of their nation. Unlike any other people, for thousands of years Jews were the homeless person, deprived of own home. Today, more Israelis than ever stand on guard to defend homeland. And that is the greatest gift no one but the IHH – and the likes – could give the Jewish nation.

'Free Gaza' activists on board 'Rachel Corrie'. Peaceful or more attempted murder? As was predicted by some – me included, although it isn’t tough a prediction to make – the crew of ‘Rachel Corrie’ – an Irish vessel bound for Israel late, refused Israel’s offer to dock in Israeli port of Ashdod, to have its cargo examined and then transferred to Gaza. Not unlike the crews of six ships led by IHH’s Mavi Marmara – who suggested Israeli Navy soldiers should go back to Auschwitz – ‘Rachel Corrie’ told the IDF and Irish government it would proceed to Gaza:

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs announced Friday that it had reached an agreement with the Israeli government on the ‘Rachel Corrie’, by which it would dock at Ashdod and submit the aid it was carrying to inspection, but that the ship’s crew had refused.

According to the agreement reached between the two states, the Rachel Corrie would dock at Ashdod port, where its cargo would be inspected under the supervision of UN officials.

Then the supplies, which reportedly include 550 tons of cement, would be transported to Gaza through the Erez crossing. Two crew members would accompany the transport until that point.

(Ynet)

THE ACTIVISTS ON board ‘Rachel Corrie’ said their intentions were ‘peaceful’ and said they would not resist IDF troops boarding their vessel. Hm, that reminds me of those Free Gaza activists on the six boats ‘Flotilla 13’ boarded recently – didn’t they say they were peaceful as well? And then proceeded to do this:

That looks like some real peaceful activism to me, up close and personal…

Anyway, the Israeli authorities warned the ‘Corrie’ – again – saying they were not interested in confrontation. While one could understand the move – Israel does not want to look harsh – it is likely to spark even more resentment among the ‘peaceful activists’, whose objective – among others – is to murder or injure Israelis. Seeing signs of weakness, Free Gaza crew would continue to push forward, with estimated arrival time being Saturday.

From previous statements by Free Gaza organizers, it is clear the objective is to break the blockade, not necessarily deliver the aid. And hey – Hamas are in no hurry to receive the aid themselves, as recently it was reported they declared Gaza would not permit entry of Free Gaza aid as long as group’s activists are held in Israel. If everything Free Gaza says is indeed true and people are starving on Gazan streets, what is Hamas doing, allowing its people to simply die out? I mean – what about the lack of food, lack of medicine? How cruel is that?

Well, not everything’s as simple as it looks. Danish reporter Steffen Jensen visited Gaza on Tuesday (June 1st, 2010) and discovered that while Gaza has some problems – grave problems indeed – there are no dying people on the streets, no Africa-like, hungered children. What a surprise that is…

 

Update 05062010 0727GMT: You can follow live updates on the ‘Rachel Corrie’ from IDF’s Twitter reporting. Most recently, the vessel ignored IDF’s second request to dock at Ashdod port.

Hamas' murder of hundreds does not worry me. Erdogan

In the past decade, the Thanksgiving country made an effort to join the European Union. For Turkey, such accession would mean additional boost for the economy, better relations with mostly prosperous Europe and an opportunity to further its influence into Europe. The European Union, in its turn, would acquire further influence in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, as well as opening own markets to 71 million consumers. The EU required Turkey to comply with quite a few conditions to join, such as enacting liberal market policies and improving Turkey’s competition policies.

Well, today it all went down the drain, when Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan aligned his country with Hamas, stating that the latter was not a terror group, but in fact a democratically-elected movement:

Speaking at a ceremony in Konya, the prime minister announced that Hamas was not a terror organization. "They won an election. You always speak of democracy, but you will not let Hamas rule. What kind of democracy is that?" he asked.

"Hamas’s resistance fighters were meant to defend their land. They won an election. I’ve told American officials before that I do not consider Hamas a terror organization, and I still don’t. They are defending their land," he was quoted by Turkish media as saying.

(Ynet)

UNSURPRISINGLY, ERDOGAN FAILED to tell his people that after Hamas indeed won elections (garnering about 40% of the vote), it proceeded to round up its opposition – Mahmoud Abbas-led Fatah faction – execute and expel them from Gaza. At the time evil Israelis opened the checkpoints to allow thousands of Fatah members and their families to run to the West Bank. After forcibly exterminating its opposition – which led to an immense rift between the two groups – Hamas progressed to imposing a strict Islamist regime in the Gaza Strip, under which music, alcohol and public express of affection is barred and punishable by jail.

Moreover, ‘democratic’ friends of Erdogan still execute people on the streets for ‘collaboration’ with Israel – a sentence where the accused has no lawyer or a right to defend self – closes NGOs and steals large sums of money from Gaza’s banks, using unpublished ‘court orders’ as pretense.

So well done, Mr. President. You have officially aligned yourself with murderers and genocidal maniacs. What does that say about your ‘Freedom Flotilla’?