Today’s Top Stories
1. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to a five-day truce. The ceasefire had a bumpy start last night, but it’s been holding up.
2. An Italian journalist working for Associated Press, Simone Camilli, became the foreign press corp’s first fatality in Gaza. He was killed along with a Palestinian translator and three Gaza policemen who were trying to defuse unexploded ordinance.
Hazem Abu Murad, who headed Gaza’s bomb squad unit was among the dead; reporters from The National, Sydney Morning Herald and The Guardian spent time Murad without mishap. AP photographer Hatem Mousa and four others were injured in the blast. More on the story at the New York Times.
3. You get the impression from the Wall St. Journal (click via Google News that Israel’s practically stealing American munitions. But if you read Adam Entous’s report carefully enough, it’s clear that Washington policy makers feel “blindsided,” its because they weren’t in the loop anyway — a classic case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand’s doing.
If US officials want to more closely scrutinize weapons transfers, that’s an issue between the “politicians” and the “professional bureaucrats” to sort out on their own.
White House and State Department officials who were leading U.S. efforts to rein in Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip were caught off guard last month when they learned that the Israeli military had been quietly securing supplies of ammunition from the Pentagon without their approval . . .
On July 20, Israel’s defense ministry asked the U.S. military for a range of munitions, including 120-mm mortar shells and 40-mm illuminating rounds, which were already kept stored at a pre-positioned weapons stockpile in Israel.
The request was approved through military channels three days later but not made public. Under the terms of the deal, the Israelis used U.S. financing to pay for $3 million in tank rounds. No presidential approval or signoff by the secretary of state was required or sought, according to officials.
A U.S. defense official said the standard review process was properly followed.
The WSJ added that the White House did a put a hold on a shipment of Hellfire missiles. Michael Oren weighed in on the WSJ’s report, saying there is no way Israel could have circumvented the US administration on arms sales:
I can only tell you as an ambassador that is impossible because there’s a very specific and deeply embedded procedure for doing that and Israel, in order to get access to preposition military equipment in this country, American equipment, has to go through the administration,” Oren said.
4. Entire Family of Dead Palestinians Found to be Alive: Between the fog of war and Hamas’s deliberate distortion of casualty figures, can any reports on alleged deaths be trusted?
5. NY Times’ Rudoren: FPA Statement on Hamas is “Dangerous”: What’s really nonsense – Hamas intimidation of journalists or the New York Times’s bureau chief dismissive attitude towards the problem?
Israel and the Palestinians
• According to Hebrew media reports, Egypt intercepted three Grad rockets being smuggled into the Sinai from Gaza. The rockets were intended to be fired at Israel.
• The man leading the UN Human Rights Council’s probe of Operation Protective Edge, William Schabas, acknowledged that the UN applies double standards to Israel. Schabas badly waffled on whether he thinks Hamas is a terror organization and couldn’t articulate why Israel should feel confident it will get a fair hearing. Here’s the Channel 2 interview.
• People looking into previous statements by Schabas and Schabas and fellow investigator Doudou Diene turned up some comments that raised my eyebrows. Schabas has said that Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Syria is technically not a war crime.
And Human Rights Voices points out that Diene — a UN expert on racism and xenophobia — has written that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. Why single out the Jewish people for the denial of national aspirations? Sounds like racism to me.
• Britain’s threat to suspend arms sales to Israel if the conflict in Gaza resumes is a cheap political gesture to UK voters that will have no impact on the IDF, according to Haaretz:
So far, the Israeli government has been satisfied with the British policy toward the Gaza crisis, and the official response to Cable’s announcement was relatively low-key. Unnamed Israeli officials did however accuse the British minister of “incentivizing” Hamas to break the ceasefire in order to achieve a “diplomatic victory” by triggering the export suspension. But even they said that an actual suspension was highly unlikely and would have very little impact on the Israeli military, which does not use any major British weapon systems.
• In Belfast, a blue plaque marking the home where Israeli president Chaim Herzog was born was removed due to anti-Semitic attacks. Amid Gaza war, the University of Massachusetts Amherst canceled its fall programs in Israel, affecting two students.
• If you want a sense of how anti-Semitism has gone through the roof, the World Zionist Organization quantified the hate before and after Operation Protective Edge.
• Isn’t Fatah Israel’s moderate partner for peace?
• Thanks to boycotts, Israeli fruits are going to do brisk sales in Russia. Haaretz explains why:
Russia is interested in increasing its fruit imports from Israel, after deciding to boycott imports from Europe as part of the ongoing diplomatic spat between Russia and the West.
This development comes as buyers in Gaza, Jordan and some European nations have started refusing to buy Israeli mangoes due to Operation Protective Edge. Most recently, a buyer for a supermarket chain in Montreal announced that it would not be buying Israeli fruit.
• A study found a spike in malware attacks on Israel over a few days leading up to the Gaza war. The findings suggest that a rise in such digital assaults might be able to predict conflicts. More on this at ITProPortal.
• Don’t expect free speech activists to deploy their hashtags in solidarity with this Malaysian teenager. He says he accidentally “liked” an I love Israel page on Facebook. That’s not getting any thumbs up back home in Penang. Details at Malay Mail Online.
• Quebec’s Jewish community disturbed by lack of outrage over columnist’s anti-Semitic radio rant.
Gilles Proulx was invited onto Montreal’s Radio X last Friday after writing a column in the Journal de Montréal on the Israel-Hamas conflict. “No need to be an expert to say that Israel could make Washington, Paris or Ottawa bend, knowing in advance that its diaspora, well established, will make any government submit!” he wrote in the Journal.
Speaking to Radio X, he elaborated on his thinking, suggesting Jews historically provoke hate and persecution. “The diaspora is scattered around the world, where they take economic control, provoke the hatred of local nations, whether it is in Spain, for example, with the Inquisition, or again later with Adolf Hitler,” he said.
. . . the media would still have you believe that the conflict in Gaza is all about Hamas’s rockets, and that only Israel has the right to defend itself. But that turns reality on its head. . . Israel has no right to defend itself from territories it illegally occupies . . . The terrorism is the killing of civilians by Israel on an industrial scale that we’ve seen in the last month.
He’s so in lockstep with the Palestinians, it brings to mind a quote by the late New York Times editor, A.M. Rosenthal.
If you sleep with elephants, you can’t cover the circus.
• Israeli officials continued their media offensive. Knesset member Hilik Bar commented in Forbes.
• Dr. Daphne Richemond-Barak lays out a compelling argument why Hamas terror tunnels are war crimes.
• Irish columnist Eamonn McCann on why the left boycotts Israel and not other Islamic dictatorships: Unlike Syrians, the Palestinians asked for it. Problem with McCann’s argument is that Mahmoud Abbas himself went on record (in South Africa, no less) that boycotts aren’t in the Palestinian interest, a real slap in the face of the BDS movement.
• Ed Husain‘s worried about the rising anti-Semitism he sees in London.
This ugly politics is not only about Israel but helps create an atmosphere which threatens our Jewish citizens, who have already reported an increase in anti-Semitic activities.
Londoners and London’s Muslims must change course, and soon. Where we lead, the country will follow. London is home to nearly a million Muslims. Together, we can stop tolerating this new extremism in our midst and learn from the openness of London’s Muslim tourists and our American cousins. This new Marxist-Islamist axis must be broken.
Raheel Raza is another welcome voice of Islamic moderation.
• Irish columnist Nelson McCausland looks at the grotesque irony of Republican support for Hamas.
• For more commentary/analysis, see David Horovitz (When the history of this war is written), Einat Wilf (on William Schabas), Ben-Dror Yemini (Hamas’s logic of destruction), Eytan Gilboa (International media failed professionally and ethically in Gaza), Gil Troy (Idealism + Self Interest= US Support for Israel), Dr. Yishai Ashlag (UNRWA is a millstone around Gaza’s neck), Jonathan Tobin (Don’t count on Abbas to save Gaza), Anna Altman (European anti-Semitism) Daniel Finkelstein, Barbara Kay, and Paul Monk. Staff-editorials in the New York Post and Toronto Sun denounce the UN investigation of the Gaza conflict.
• For a sense of what the critics are saying, see the Daily Telegraph.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• I did a double-take after seeing this headline too.
Featured image: CC BY-NC flickr/Arjun Karkhanis, Washington via Flickr/Brian Talbot, Oren via YouTube/AtlanticCouncil