Today’s Top Stories
1. Daily Telegraph: Hamas is trying to purchase missiles and communication equipment from North Korea.
Security officials say the deal between Hamas and North Korea is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and is being handled by a Lebanese-based trading company with close ties to the militant Palestinian organisation based in east Beirut.
Hamas officials are believed to have already made an initial cash down payment to secure the deal, and are now hoping that North Korea will soon begin shipping extra supplies of weapons to Gaza.
2. Pro-Palestinian activists in Turkey are organizing another “Freedom Flotilla” for Gaza. And the organizers, the IHH (the Foundation of Human Rights and Freedom), claim the Turkish Navy will provide protection from a potential Israeli intercept. See Jerusalem Post coverage.
The guarantees promised to Hamas by Kerry under a ceasefire, as relayed to The Times of Israel by the Palestinian sources, pertain to the following issues: an easing of restrictions on the passage of goods from Israel to Gaza; an easing of restrictions on the passage of traders and businessmen from Gaza to Israel; expansion of the permitted Gaza fishing zone to 12 miles off the coast; the opening of the Rafah crossing with Egypt, to be manned by Palestinian Authority officials; and a promise to ensure the transfer of salaries to Gaza’s government employees.
Later in the day, Haaretz obtained a copy of Kerry’s cease-fire draft. See also Kerry under fire in Israel for negotiating with Qatar, Turkey, not Egypt, Israel.
Operation Protective Edge
• For details on today’s developments, see live-blogs at the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, Times of Israel, and i24 News. (For more, see the Friday live-blog posts at the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, Times of Israel, and i24 News.)
• According to Israeli media reports, Hamas was planning to use its terror tunnels for a mega assault on Israel over Rosh HaShanah, the upcoming Jewish new year.
The Hamas plan consisted of what was to be a surprise attack in which 200 fighters would be dispatched through each of dozens of tunnels dug by Hamas under the border from Gaza to Israel, and seize kibbutzim and other communities while killing and kidnapping Israeli civilians.
• IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner updated CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer on the continuing war against the terror tunnels.
• Would you believe 160 Palestinian kids were killed building those terror tunnels? They used child labor, according to Tablet.
• Jerusalem Post: Police intercept would-be bomber at West Bank checkpoint.
• For the first time since Operation Protective Edge began, major clashes erupted in the West Bank. Two Palestinians were killed; YNet quoted police saying some protesters fired live ammunition. Hoping to capitalize, Hamas called for a third intifada. See also the New York Times, which took the pulse of the West Bank streets.
• The shells that hit a UN school on late Thursday afternoon, killing 15 Palestinians, may have been fired by Hamas. See Washington Post coverage.
If it turns out Hamas is responsible for killing its own people with errant rocket or mortar fire, as Israel initially suggested Thursday, then the group — already branded a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union — could find itself even more isolated.
• An outgoing Pentagon intelligence official warned against toppling Hamas. Reuters was on hand when Lt.Gen. Michael Flynn weighed in:
“If Hamas were destroyed and gone, we would probably end up with something much worse. The region would end up with something much worse,” Flynn said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.
• French-Palestinian journalist Radjaa Abu Dagga (of the Paris-based Liberation) documented how Hamas has illegally commandeered sections of Shifa Hospital.
The background: Hamas tracked down Dagga, who unsuccessfully sought to leave Gaza for Egypt. Several hours after it was published, Liberation removed the article at Dagga’s request (it endangered him). But the article was republished at Actualite Israel. Via Elder of Ziyon, who translated the full article.
After four blocked attempts to leave Gaza without explanation over weeks, the Palestinian journalist was summoned by the security services of Hamas on Sunday. “I received a call from a private number. They summoned me to Al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza City center, ” explains Radjaa. He carried with him his two phones, his press card and a small camera.
A few meters from the emergency room where the injured from bombings are constantly flowing, in the outpatient department, he was received in “a small section of the hospital used as administration” by a band of young fighters. They were all well dressed, which surprised Radjaa, “in civilian clothing with a gun under one’s shirt and some had walkie-talkies ” . He was ordered to empty his pockets, removing his shoes and his belt then was taken to a hospital room “which served that day as the command office of three people.”
• Egypt’s Air Sinai: The only airline that kept flying to Israel
The decision to continue flying to Israel must have been made at the highest echelons, and is meant to send a message to Hamas, which Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi regards with disdain, Calcalist reported.
• National Post: Dozens of Canadians have gone to Israel to take up arms for the Jewish state
• One German paper’s taking a brave stand against the latest European anti-Semitism. Israel HaYom explains:
German newspaper Bild launched a campaign against anti-Semitism following calls made against Jews during protests against Operation Protective Edge in Germany.
The campaign, titled “Never Again Jew Hatred,” was published Friday on the paper’s front page and included pictures of German figures, such as Chancellor Angela Merkel, alongside their quotes against anti-Semitism.
• In comments to the Washington Free Beacon, IDF officials accused the UNRWA of lying about Palestinian casualties.
However, in an unusual move late Thursday, multiple IDF sources rejected UNRWA’s claims and characterized them as outright falsehoods when reached by the Washington Free Beacon.
“For two days we were trying to move people out of that school in particular and the Beit Hanoun area in general,” said an IDF official who was involved in the interactions between the IDF, UNRWA, and International Red Cross (ICRC) leading up to the incident.
The official continued: “This morning we sought a cease-fire in the area and a humanitarian evacuation of civilians, but Hamas refused—because they wanted to keep civilians in the area to protect their fighters who were firing on the IDF,” the source said. The claim by Gunness and UNRWA that the IDF did not respond to their request to evacuate civilians, the source said, is “a flat-out complete and total lie.”
The source of the Israeli ire was this tweet by UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness.
• Lies, damn lies, and statistics:
- Gil Lavi: New York Times war statistics deceive again
- David Bernstein: Media’s casualty figures are “journalistic malpractice.”
• The Israeli embassy in Ireland is catching some grief after tweeting — and then removing — images like the Mona Lisa wearing a hijab and holding a rocket. Daily Telegraph coverage.
• Turns out that a viral photo which German astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted from the International Space Station — which he thought showed rockets and explosions in Gaza from 200 miles up — is just routine night-time lights around Israel.
• Israeli officials continued their media offensive. Ambassador Yakov Hadas-Handelsman discussed the anti-Semitism of Europe’s anti-war protests with CNN. Knesset member Danny Danon appeared on BBC’s Hard Talk. And I think Mark Regev deserves a bonus for keeping his cool during a combative interview with the BBC‘s Emily Maitlis. Last but not least, Ambassador Ron Dermer (who was profiled by the New York Times), took CNN to task — on CNN, which prompted Erin Burnett to followup and fact-check Dermer’s accusations with Michael Oren (filling in for Dermer) and correspondents Karl Penhaul and Paula Hancocks. Here are the two videos.
• Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution penned the most skewed cartoon I’ve seen since the conflict began.
• In a Washington Post op-ed, Dore Gold notes that while Arab support for Hamas is falling, Western support for Hamas seems to be strangely rising. Indeed, a staff-ed in the Sunday Times of London, Eli Lake, and Belfast Telegraph columnist Lindy McDowell draw a similar conclusions. McDowell writes:
What is indicative of anti-Semitism is the sheer scale of the very cleverly manipulated global campaign against Israel. Tens of thousands die in Syria, Libya, Iraq, the Sudan and while this makes headlines there is nothing, nothing on a par with the outcry against Israel.
• These two op-eds sum up the prevailing Israeli views on Kerry’s cease-fire plan:
A common argument by critics of Israel in its conflict with Hamas is that Palestinians wouldn’t have to resort to terror if they didn’t feel isolated and economically beleaguered in Gaza. This ignores that Palestinians on the West Bank have enjoyed generous foreign aid and a period of strong economic growth. More important, this ignores that Hamas pours whatever money it has into what is essentially a terror economy.
• Houston Chronicle cartoonist Nick Anderson suggests a disproportionate Israeli response to Palestinian terror. Or is there another way to understand this?
The disproportional attacks on civilians must end.
Down with Israel? Not quite. Yarmouk and Jarabulus are in Syria.
• Amos Yadlin: To save Gaza, destroy Hamas
• Elliott Abrams: The EU’s Split Personality on Gaza
• Alan Dershowitz: UN probe of Israel will encourage more Hamas war crimes
• Col. Richard Kemp,the former top commander of UK forces in Afghanistan, assessed Operation Protective Edge and slammed Hamas in Times of London and Jewish Chronicle commentaries, and in an interview with the Times of Israel. He’s not the only military expert calling out Hamas. Tim Conway, the former US Marines commandant, lays out the “moral chasm” between Israel and Hamas in a Wall St. Journal op-ed (click via Google News).
The tragic reality is that no matter how much the IDF tries to avoid collateral damage, its operations will kill some number of civilians. That won’t be close to the carnage of noncombatants in the Syrian civil war, but it won’t matter. As one Israeli commander told me, “The world judges Israel differently,” regardless of its efforts to minimize civilian casualties.
I suspect that he may be right. If so, it is essential for the IDF to be as vigilant in shaping the information environment as it is in intercepting rockets from Gaza.
• Michael Oren: Israel must be permitted to crush Hamas
• Shlomi Eldar: The delusion of Hamas’ military wing
• Miami Herald cartoonist Jim Morin gets it. So does Times of London cartoonist Peter Brooks.
• Yossi Beilin urges Israel not to boycott the UN Human Rights Council’s investigation of Operation Protective Edge.
• For more commentary, see Yuval Diskin, David Horovitz, Melanie Phillips, Daniel Barenboim, Ron Ben-Yishai, Jonathan Spyer, Professor Gerard DeGroot, Farzana Hassan, David Quinn, Rich Lowry, Gabriel Sassoon, Jonathan Freedland, Trudy Rubin, and Michael Goodwin.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Introducing readers to Israel’s new president, AFP describes Ruby Rivlin as “the affable face of Israel’s far right,” “the guard dog of democracy,” and a “hawk with a heart.”
• Thugs from the Islamic State (better known as ISIS) blew up the tomb of the Jonah, saying it had become “a place of apostasy.” No word on whether they “knocked on the roof” or found weapons inside. AP coverage.
• Iran confirmed that it arrested the Washington Post‘s says its Tehran bureau chief, Jason Rezaian and several other journalists — without elaborating why. The 38 year-old Rezaian holds American and Iranian citizenship. His wife and two other unidentified individuals — also US citizens — were also detained.
Image: CC BY flickr/Markus Spiske