Monday, March 23, 2015

The Gaza War 2014....The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster It Averted

The Gaza War 2014....The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster It Averted

Executive Summary

The Gaza War 2014: The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster It Averted is a researched and documented narrative that relates the truth as it happened. Israel was the target of thousands of rockets and mortar attacks against its civilian population, with some Israeli areas targeted that had three times the population density of Gaza. Israel clearly acted out of self-defense.

Though the images of the moment may have reflected massive damage in Gaza, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, announced on November 6, 2014, that Israel had gone to “extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and prevent civilian casualties in the Gaza conflict.” A team of senior U.S. officers was sent to learn from Israel’s tactics. An analysis of UN satellite photos taken during the war shows that 72 percent of all damaged areas in Gaza were “within two miles of the Israeli border.”

While this was a war Israel did not want, it was a war that inadvertently preempted a terrorist massacre inside Israel’s heartland, principally through a network of sophisticated tunnels built deep under the border, and intended to stream hundreds, if not thousands, of dedicated terrorists, many on suicide missions, in the quiet of night, to destinations where they could kill as many innocent people as possible and leave Israel mauled as never before. This was potentially Hamas’ terrorist version of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Egypt and Syria launched a joint surprise attack on Israeli forces in Sinai and the Golan Heights.

Israel suffered 74 dead in the war. Had the Iron Dome system not intercepted 735 rockets fired from Gaza, the Israeli casualty count would have been incalculably higher. Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal of July 15, as did Israel, Palestinian wartime fatalities would have numbered less than 200, as opposed to more than 2,100 who died by the time Hamas agreed to a final ceasefire on August 27. Thus, Hamas was fully responsible for more than 1,800 Palestinian deaths.
Moreover, while UN and Palestinian sources claimed that 72 to 84 percent of Palestinians in Gaza killed during the war were civilians, there are strong reasons to argue that the percentage of civilian casualties was less than 50 percent, a low one-to-one combatant-to-civilian ratio that is unprecedented in modern-day warfare. In addition, we don’t know how many Palestinians in Gaza died as human shields or of natural causes during the 50 days of war, or how many were casualties of the 875 Palestinian rockets known to have landed inside Gaza.

Yet many in the international community uncritically accepted the narrative about the war advanced by Hamas and its allies. A discerning look at the facts of what happened, however, would lead to the conclusion that it is Hamas, not Israel, which should be in the dock for war crimes and crimes against humanity.


Expert: The Time for Alternatives is Now

Expert: The Time for Alternatives is Now

Israelis have sought a chance to change the public discourse on a two-state Solution. Now is the time to talk about it, says one expert.

By Gedalyah Reback

PM Binyamin Netanyahu, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas / archive
PM Binyamin Netanyahu, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas / archive
Israel news photo: Flash 90
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may not have done it with finesse, but his very public challenge to the viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has opened a major window according to David M. Weinberg of the Begin-Sadat Center for Security Studies.

In Mr. Weinberg's mind, whether or not it is fair, Israel will have to respond assertively to the latest diplomatic challenge for the country - a country which technically doesn't even have a government.

"Israel's government must answer intelligently and responsively to international questions on peace with the Palestinians. They can't let the international community or the Palestinians dictate the terms of a framework for peace," he said.

That includes, according to Mr. Weinberg, major alternatives to the two-state solution.

"Obviously it's going to be a difficult period" to start for the new government, he says. "But, Israel cannot have duplicity or be vague about it. We need to be clear, smart and responsive."

Part of that framework has to include letting Israel not be beholden to the stopping points of previous failed attempts at peace. According to a recent blog post by Mr. Weinberg, "Israel’s baseline position at the outset of the talks should be that 100 percent of the West Bank belongs to Israel" by historical right, "political experience, legitimate settlement, and security necessity."

The objective here seems to be a reboot of the premise of talks and the notion that anything a Palestinian entity receives is a gift of the Israeli government, not a relinquishing of something Palestinians actually had a claim of sovereignty over.

Another major issue Mr. Weinberg reminds readers that needs to be highlighted is that the Gaza Strip's political secession from the PalestinianAuthority disrupts any attempt to actually resolve things.

"Hamas will have to be sidelined or sign-on to an eventual deal. Israel should not be in the business of birthing two Palestinian states."

There has been an often unmentioned issue that the Gaza Strip has to be a part of a final peace deal. This applies to supporters of a two-state solution as much as anyone, because Israel was expected to swap land adjacent to the coastal enclave as part of a final deal. While Mr. Weinberg does not mention this, this would also present problems because of the lack of definite acceptance by Hamas of any arrangement.

That, among other things, dovetails into the need to re-raise the possibility of alternatives like a “Palestinian-Jordanian federation” or “shared sovereignty with Israel” in Judea and Samaria. This might also open the door to other arrangements, like those of Economy Minister Naftali Bennett or Dr. Mordechai Kedar.

Putting the Temple Mount on the Table
Mr. Weinberg also concludes that post with a very critical caveat: whatever Palestinian entity (or entities) that come of a peace process must share the Temple Mount. Critically, he says Israel must assert that Jewish prayer is "a basic human, civic, national and religious right" entitled to Jews.

"In Hevron there is a time-sharing arrangement whereby certain days of the year are exclusively for Jewish or Muslim prayer. Most days of the year there is a division of the site whereby both groups can use it. This is one possible model," he says.

"Another is for something on a more permanent basis, including the establishment of a small prayer area or a synagogue in the corner of the Temple Mount that need not interfere with the Muslim shrines."

His statements are actually a major indictment of the one-sided nature of past negotiations over the Temple Mount, in which Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert offered Israeli sovereignty merely "under" the Temple Mount and no presence on the plaza itself.

While the issue of prayer is still quite removed from using the Mount for actual rituals related to Temple service, it would still reflect a leap forward for some observers who might have seen negotiations as negating Jewish religious concerns about Mount Moriah.

But any resolution to the Temple Mount that incorporates Jewish concerns over the site would inevitably involve Jordan, which maintains a custodial role over the site despite Israeli police authority there. According to Temple Institute Director, Rabbi Chaim Richman, “The accord between Israel and Jordan promises religious freedom of worship there. Yet, there is this strange, fictitious ‘status quo’ that non-Muslims – including Christians – cannot pray up there.”

This leads back to Mr. Weinberg’s suggestion for regional alternatives to a two-state solution, possibly also in line with suggestions made by centrist parties during the campaign to have a “regional agreement and separation from the Palestinians” which Yesh Atid spokesman Yair Zavid explained recently meant the party felt “the bilateral track had run its course.”

According to Mr. Weinberg's outline, it would be still only be a mere tokenrecognition to Jewish sanctity at the site; or as he called it, a "smidgen" of it.