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Friday, July 25, 2014

Hamas' New Year surprise... and John Kerry's cease fire - UPDATED

Maariv - Israel's third largest circulation daily - is confirming that Hamas planned a mass terror attack on southern Israel on Rosh HaShannah, the Jewish New Year, a little more than two months from now (second link in Hebrew).

According to the report, Hamas planned to send up to 200 terrorists through many tunnels that lead into six different kibbutzim, moshavim and villages around Gaza's borders. The terrorists' mission was to have been the mass murder and kidnapping of as many Jews as possible. Although the newspaper does not make the connection, I suspect that this map likely shows some of the places involved, and explains why the battle of Shejaiya earlier this week was so important.

The IDF was aware of the tunnels, and as a result, the soldiers who were sent to destroy them over the past week knew exactly where to go. But the IDF was not aware of the specific plan for a mass terror attack two months from now - that came from interrogating Hamas terrorists who were captured this past week.

During the course of Operation Protective Edge, the IDF discovered that the tunnels did not go straight as it assumed, but the tunnels intersected with each other, to allow the transfer of terrorists from one tunnel to the next. The tunnels also included storage rooms for weapons, tranquilizer drugs, and cables to tie the hands of potential kidnap victims. The idea was to kill as many people as possible, and bring back many more to ransom for 'Palestinian' terrorists languishing in Israel prisons.

According to Maariv, the tunnel digging started several years ago, and in the last year Hamas terrorists have been working three shifts per day, around the clock, in order to add 15 meters per day to each tunnel. Hamas has spent hundreds of millions of dollars (actually, euros) on the tunnels, which money could have gone to pay for schools hospitals, bomb shelters, etc.

The IDF has told the political echelon that it is capable of finishing the job, but it needs several more days to do so. Hamas, whose plans and capabilities have been completely exposed, now wants a cease fire to save what is left (about 4,000 of its 9,000 rockets, among other things), but it is in the IDF's interest not to have a cease fire now, and to nail Hamas to the wall.

Enter US Secretary of State John FN Kerry... our unwelcome guest.

Kerry has proposed a week-long cease fire beginning on Sunday (Hat Tip: Memeorandum). During that week, the parties would negotiate for a more permanent deal, i.e. until the next time Hamas violates it. It would leave Hamas with some tunnels intact, with about 45% of its rocket supply, and with the ability to fight another day. It would also bring Hamas billions in international aid for 'reconstruction,' much of which would likely be diverted to reconstruct the tunnels, as was the case after Operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense.
As soon as the truce took effect, Palestinian and Israeli officials would begin negotiations on the principal economic, political and security concerns about Gaza, with other nations attending.
Important details of the plan remained under negotiation early Friday, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as the negotiations were at a delicate stage. Among the unresolved issues is an Israeli proposal that its troops be allowed to remain in Gaza during the temporary truce.
It was not clear if the final plan would be endorsed by Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, or by the Israeli cabinet.
I don't see how Israel could withdraw from Gaza now. As noted above, a cease fire now is not in Israel's best interest, and in any event a withdrawal would make it that much harder to get back in. The last two times in this operation, Hamas did our dirty work by turning down the cased fire. Will it happen again?
Hamas’s political leader, Khaled Meshal, has stated that he would not accept an enduring cease-fire until his demands were met, including the lifting of an economic blockade on Gaza. But Mr. Meshal called Wednesday for a humanitarian truce to allow relief aid to reach Gaza, and the proposed start of the seven-day truce is intended to coincide with the Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr, which signals the end of Ramadan. The Israeli cabinet was expected to discuss the plan on Friday afternoon, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported.
The security cabinet is meeting now (after the meeting was postponed from Noon to 3:00 pm), but the plan it is considering would not only have the IDF remain in Gaza for the week, but it would have the IDF continue to destroy tunnels (presumably around the clock), and I'd be shocked if Hamas accepted that.
An Israeli official said the Netanyahu government envisages the initial halt to the fighting lasting seven days, during which the army would keep digging up tunnels on Gaza's eastern frontier.
"First Israel wants to hear Hamas's response to the (Kerry) proposals," an official said, adding that some members of the security cabinet also sought assurances that Gaza would be stripped of its remaining rockets under any extended ceasefire.
A Washington Post editorial earlier this week actually called for disarming Gaza, but I cannot see Hamas agreeing to that, at least so long as there are expendable civilians. And there are plenty of voices in Israel who don't want a cease fire either. For example, Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beytenu) publicly expressed support for continuing Operation Protective Edge on Friday, at a press conference with Israeli reporters.
"A ceasefire without exposing all the tunnels would be a mistake," he said. 
Aharonovitch denied that Israel was considering a cease-fire just yet, however.
"There are all kinds of proposals," he noted. "The IDF is operating in Gaza and exposing many terror tunnels, and the goal is to expose them all. We need to do what needs to be done, and not limit the IDF to a deadline."
Meanwhile, Kerry is trying to pressure the parties to reach an agreement by threatening to leave. This is the Times again.
“He isn’t here for an indefinite amount of time, and in the near future, he will determine whether there is a willingness to come to an agreement on a cease-fire,” a senior State Department official told reporters Thursday evening.
The Israeli news media has reported that Mr. Kerry planned to leave Cairo for the United States on Friday afternoon.
We wish he would leave. After all, Nantucket awaits.

Whether he will leave empty handed remains to be seen - at least as of now. But many here hope he goes home with his tail between his legs and doesn't return for a long time. We didn't ask him to come in the first place.


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At 5:53 PM, Blogger hashemlovesisrael said...

The muzzies blew up Jonahs tomb yesterday.
These are the people who also cut the nose off of the sphinx!
They have not changed much in several thousand years. We DO know exactly what we are dealing with! We have dealt with it so many times! Do not dance with the Devil! We know what we need to do in order to secure Israels' future! Let's get it done! And sideline this clown!

At 6:22 PM, Blogger Inmemoryof Yossi said...

The basic difference between America and Israel. Israel is PRO-ACTIVE. They are trying to prevent the next terror attack. If this was America's way of doing it, they would be trying to figure out how to prevent Hamas from kidnapping a few yeshiva students. Like you always say, they are trying to prevent the previous attack.
I hope Israel stands strong and tells Kerry to get the hell out of Israel. Or stay in Gaza or Sedrot or any where in the South.

At 2:53 AM, Blogger Sunlight said...

We'll need to insist that Condi Rice visit for a walk-through to see whether she will still think the Pali's are Martin Luther King's twins, before she ever gets a chance to be back in government. HAMAS as good government in Gaza was her idea. MLK must be turning in his grave as he admired and supported Israel. Condi could end her run in MLK's category if she revises her evaluations, based on performance, rather than wishes.


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