Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 11/15/2012: Operation Pillar of Defense

From DG:

1) Al Hayat on the Hudson
No country should have to endure the rocket attacks that Israel has endured from militants in Gaza, most recently over the past four days. The question is how to stop them permanently. 
This sympathetic sounding boilerplate starts the New York Times editorial, Another Israeli-Gaza War?. The editorial continues:
On Wednesday, Israel launched one of the most ferocious assaults on Gaza since its invasion four years ago. At least 20 targets were struck and a Hamas military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari, was killed. Israeli leaders also threatened another ground war. 
Hamas has controlled Gaza since Israel withdrew in 2007. The group has mostly adhered to an informal cease-fire with Israel after the war there in the winter of 2008-09. But, in recent months, Hamas has claimed responsibility for participating in rocket firings, and last week it took credit for detonating a tunnel packed with explosives along the Israel-Gaza border while Israeli soldiers were working nearby. 
Actually Israel withdrew in 2005; Hamas launched a coup to expel Fatah in 2007 and took over Gaza then. Given that even the editors admit that in recent months Hamas has claimed credit for terror attacks against Israel, why do they cling to the false notion that Hamas "mostly adhered" to a ceasefire?
Either one ceases fire or one doesn't.  (Theescalation of a few weeks ago did not prompt an outraged editorial, leading me to conclude that the editors of the New York Times, despite a reasonable sounding opening, are more offended by Israel's self defense than by Hamas's terror.)
Israel has a right to defend itself, but it’s hard to see how Wednesday’s operation could be the most effective way of advancing its long-term interests. It has provoked new waves of condemnation against Israel in Arab countries, including Egypt, whose cooperation is needed to enforce the 1979 peace treaty and support stability in Sinai. 
Obviously Israel deemed the threat to its citizens of rockets in Gaza to be greater and more immediate than the threat presented the predictable outrage of the Arab world for defending itself. Of course, the point that the editors miss is that Egypt's failure to support stability in the Sinai is one of the factors that emboldened Hamas.
The action also threatens to divert attention from what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly described as Israel’s biggest security threat: Iran’s nuclear program.
Isn't this rich? In recent months the Times has featured numerous articles mocking Netanyahu's concern over Iran's nuclear program. Now it takes that threat seriously, in order to criticize Netanyahu! Just because a country faces two threats, doesn't mean it ought to ignore one. 
Engaging in a full-scale ground war is especially risky. Israel’s last major military campaign in Gaza was a three-week blitz in 2008-09 that killed as many as 1,400 Palestinians, and it was widely condemned internationally. It did not solve the problem. Hamas remains in control in Gaza and has amassed even more missiles.
Yes Cast Lead was condemned. Unjustly. News accounts that exaggerated the destruction gave cover to those making the outrageous charges against Israel. Of those 1400, roughly half were members of Hamas (as admitted by Hamas). It did not solve the problem, because Hamas still controls Gaza, but it did set reduce some of Hamas's capabilities, forcing them to rebuild. International pressure on Israel to relax the blockade of Gaza played a major role in allowing the rebuilding. The New York Times can be proud of the role it played in helping Hamas re-arm. 
Some Israeli commentators have suggested that Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to order the operation is connected to elections in January. But there are other options. Israel could have asked Egypt, whose new Islamist-led government has close ties to Hamas, to mediate a more permanent cease-fire. On Monday, Hamas hinted that it was open to that. Or Israel could have responded as it usually has in recent years, avoiding high-profile assassinations while attacking rocket-launching squads, empty training sites and weapons manufacturing plants.
As noted about, Egypt is part of the problem. By striking at leaders of the terror war and arms caches, Israel reduced Hamas's capabilities. Do the editors of the New York Times object to that?
Hamas is a dangerous adversary that may never accept Israel’s right to exist. But it would be easier to win support for retaliatory action if Israel was engaged in serious negotiations with Hamas’s rival, the Palestinian Authority, and working toward a durable peace agreement. 
Mahmoud Abbas the head of the Palestinian Authority is not welcome in Gaza. Any deal with him will necessarily be limited. If Israel makes a deal with him and cedes even more control, what is to prevent Hamas from taking over on the West Bank too? Then most of Israel's population would be under threat from Hamas. Of course that assumes that Abbas even wants a deal. His history - including an op-ed in the New York Times threatening to join international bodies for the purpose of initiating a legal assault on Israel - suggests otherwise.

I would like to say that the editors of the New York Times are exceedingly ignorant and illogical. But their regular opposition to Israeli self-defense has to prompt the question whether they are anti-Israel.

2) The Social Media war

Given that the New York Times can't be depended to report accurately on Israel's current anti-terror efforts, the IDF has taken to the social media to make its case.

The website BuzzFeed was impressed by the IDF's efforts. (h/t Tamar Abraham)

Unsurprisingly anti-Israel New York Times blogger, Robert Mackey gave equal time to Hamas. Mackey, of course, gives plenty of attention to civilian casualties in Gaza, but refuses to mention that it's due to Hamas placing its arms and terrorists in civilian areas.

Israel Matzav observes that TechCrunch is unimpressed by the IDF's efforts. 

To my mind, the most important numbers are 25% and (for now) 822.  25% is the amount of Israeli territory currently under threat to Hamas rockets. The Israel Project provided a map for the sake of comparison. 822 is the latestnumber of rocket attacks that Israeli has suffered from this year alone.

In an article receiving a lot of attention on Twitter, Yair Rosenberg explains the name of the Israeli operation - Amud Anan - and why it's appropriate.

Ynet has remarkable footage of Iron Dome shooting down incoming rockets. 

While I don't like the title, State Department sides with Israel in new Hamas war tells us:
"We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, and we regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence," State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement. "There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately. We support Israel's right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties."
Toner placed the blame for the new violence squarely on Hamas for initiating a campaign in recent weeks that has included firing hundreds of rockets into Israeli territory.
"Hamas claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that is counterproductive to the Palestinian cause. Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza or to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self determination," Toner said. 
One would hope that siding with Hamas was unthinkable for the State Department.

3) Kiryat Malachi
The Washington Post reports Three Israelis killed by rocket fired from Gaza Strip; Israel intensifies air offensive. This is important:
Residents in Gaza said militants have begun firing rockets at Israeli targets from inside teeming Gaza city, making direct Israeli strikes on the populous city likely.
This is disappointing:
Representatives of Hamas, which Israel and the United States consider a terrorist organization, said they also have no intention of backing down. The assassination of Ahmed al-Jabari, the Hamas military commander, “is a serious crime, and they crossed the red line,” said Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman. “It’s time to declare war.”
Hamas, by its ideology and actions is a terrorist organization; no "considering" is necessary.

The New York Times reports in Rocket Attacks and Airstrikes Resume in Gaza Conflict: 
It was the first time that a building in Kiryat Malachi had been struck and the farthest north a projectile had landed in the current violence. With schools closed after Wednesday’s turmoil, residents said, many people had stayed home with their children.
Residents said people living on the lower floors of the apartment house had taken cover in stairwells, as the police urged residents to do when they heard warning sirens, but those on the top floor apparently had not. Police said 180 rockets had been fired at southern Israel since Wednesday.
In Gaza, the death toll rose to 11 as Israel pummeled what the military described as medium- and long-range rocket and infrastructure sites and struck rocket-launching squads. The military said it had dispersed leaflets over Gaza warning residents to stay away from Hamas operatives and facilities, suggesting that more was to come.
Much of the Times article deals with the damage Israel is doing to its "fragile relations with Egypt, " without faulting the Muslim Brotherhood. Establishing "closer ties with Hamas" is a reason that Israel's relations with Egypt have become so fragile.

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