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Thursday, July 24, 2014

IDF response to accusations of shelling UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun

The IDF has just released the following:

IDF: The IDF is currently in the midst of combat, with Hamas terrorists in the area of Beit Hanoun, who are using civilian infrastructure and international symbols as human shields. In the course of the afternoon, several rockets launched by Hamas from within the Gaza Strip landed in the Beit Hanoun area. The IDF is reviewing the incident.

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Harmless rockets?

Indeed (Hat Tip: Mrs. Carl).

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Here we go: Israeli shells allegedly hit UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun

Al-Jazeera is reporting that IDF shells hit a UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun in which people are taking refuge from IDF bombing. The IDF is checking the report. This is from the first link.
Al Jazeera's correspondent Nicole Johnston, reporting from Gaza, said the school in Beit Hanoun came under fire on Thursday. She said sources had told Al Jazeera that up to 30 people had been killed in the bombardment.
The Gaza health ministry later said that 15 were confirmed dead, and 200 injured.
The AFP reported a UN official as confirming "multiple dead and injured".
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Robert Turner, the director for UNRWA, the UN's humanitarian organisation in Gaza, said there was no warning from the Israelis before the shells landed. He confirmed there were casualties. 
He said the UNRWA were in contact with Israeli forces about a window to evacuate the school before the attack happened
"This is a designated emergency shelter," he said. "The location was conveyed to the Israelis.
"This is the fourth strike on our installations in three days."
Israel has attacked UN schools before, saying that they were safe havens for the armed Palestinians.
UN has criticised the Palestinian groups various times for using UN schools to hide fighters and weapons.
Turner said he had no information that there was military activity around the school.
"This was an installation we were managing, that monitored [to ensure] that our neutrality was maintained.
You mean like they monitored the other two schools? Or like they monitored the one in Jabalya during Operation Cast Lead?

The IDF has learned its lesson and is not taking responsibility. It's investigating.

Of course, the source for all the casualty numbers is the Gaza Ministry of Health, and as my friend Aussie Dave has shown, the ministry has a penchant for double counting casualties.
Following our previous Gazan casualties analysis - which was deliberately based on the Al Jazeera list (itself based on data from the Gaza Health Ministry) to prove a point – our reader noticed that the list itself is replete with duplicate names. In fact, there are at least 33, as I have attempted to show below. Note there could actually be way more.
I have no doubt this is a deliberate ploy on the part of the Gaza Health Ministry, to inflate the number of dead for propaganda purposes.
Which also begs the question. How many of these named people died from rockets launched by Hamas (which misfired and landed in Gaza), or in traffic accidents, honor killings or even natural causes?
 Gee, ya think?

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CAIR, National Lawyers' Guild: 'We are Hamas'

Danielle Avel documents an anti-Israel rally in Miami - whose sponsors included CAIR and the National Lawyers' Guild - this past Sunday.

Let's go to the videotape.

Many more details here. Danielle concludes:
These outrageous, vulgar, and violent sentiments provide insight into the real views of groups like CAIR, ICNA, and the others listed on the event flier.  “Peace” protestors sponsored by these groups are normally able to stay relatively polite and on message, however, the appearance of Israel supporters sent them into a revelatory frenzy of great importance.  Not all of the demonstrations these groups promote will contain such overtly hostile messaging, but as the video proves, peaceful-sounding chants are synonymous with calls to war.
Anti-Israel fanatics are predictable in that they utilize a constant theme of claiming to be victims while simultaneously inciting hatred and violence.  What isn’t predictable is what they will chant in public.  When similar protests take place, one should keep in mind the true motivation behind these “peace” mobs.
It doesn't take much to cause them to be uncivil, does it?

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Israeli High Tech's first casualty

Israel's high tech industry may have suffered its first casualty of the current operation in Gaza. A key backer in Israel of something called the Y Combinator has withdrawn his support in response to its founder's pro-Hamas tweets (Hat Tip: Sunlight). The founder - Paul Graham - is a major high tech figure in Silicon Valley.

This is from the first link.
A heated exchange on Twitter between venture capitalist giant Paul Graham and supporters of Israel, could delay plans by Graham’s Y Combinator’s accelerator to recruit in Israel. 
Tweets posted by Graham that described the destruction wrought by the IDF in Gaza, but without any citations of Hamas attacks on Israel. That led heavyweight Israeli venture capital figure Roi Carthy to announce he was withdrawing an offer to help Y Combinator (YC) recruit potential participants in Israel.
Y Combinator is considered one of the most prestigious accelerator and start-up venture capital funds in the world. With over 700 start-ups funded since 2005, valued at over $30 billion, acceptance into the program is as close to a guarantee of commercial and funding success as a start-up can hope for. According to Graham, one of the group’s four founders, the average valuation of Y Combinator-backed companies is $45.2 million.
All of the group’s programs take place in Silicon Valley, and Y Combinator generally focuses on American start-ups. Cognizant of the start-up scenes elsewhere, however, the group announced several months ago that it was planning to step up its recruiting elsewhere. Israel was in Y Combinator’s sightsl, and Carthy, a managing partner at Tel Aviv-Sao Paolo investment firm Initial Capital — as well as former Israeli correspondent for the TechCrunch website, which carries stories about Israeli start-ups and tech firms — promised to help get the word out about Y Combinator’s programs to Israeli start-ups.
“A couple of months ago though, I was connected to a YC partner who is planning to be in Israel early August to spread the YC gospel,” Carthy wrote in a blog post. “I was happy to lend a hand by organizing a meet-up at a local bar and getting the word out. “But I am now rescinding my offer,” Carthy wrote. “I will not lend my hand to an organization that is comfortable with its founder criticizing a nation, while at the same time, pitching to incubate its best and brightest.”
Graham, said Carthy, makes no secret of his sympathy for the Palestinian position, while ignoring the context of Israeli responsive actions, such as Israel’s decision to hit Gaza terrorist targets after facing thousands of rockets fired by Hamas terrorists before Operation Protective Edge. “Paul has been making his views known via tweets over the past few years,” wrote Carthy. “Nothing new under the sun in this respect,” he noted.
“It’s not uncommon to accept that an individual’s views do not reflect that of his employer. However, much as it would be unacceptable to separate misogynistic views of a founder from reflecting upon his company, I cannot separate Paul’s continued views about Israel from YC,” Carthy added.
Read the whole thing. I just hope Roi is able to come up with something equivalent either on his own or with someone else.

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Pass the popcorn: Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev PWN's Joy Reid

Pro Hamas Reid confronts Mark Regev Spokesman for Israeli PM Netanyahu. This is really good. Sit back and enjoy.

Let's go to the videotape.

Jeff Dunetz has running commentary here.

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Video: Hillel Neuer speaks out at the 'human rights council's emergency session on Gaza

Dictatorships attempt to silence UN Watch's Hillel Neuer at the July 23, 2014 UNHRC emergency session on Gaza. Interruptions came from Iran, Syria, Egypt, the "State of Palestine," Cuba and Venezuela. The U.S. and Canada defended Neuer's right to speak.

Let's go to the videotape.

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Video: Who is responsible for the suffering in Gaza?

Even the Clinton's seem to get it.

Let's go to the videotape.

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Video and more: Hamas terrorists at Al-Wafa hospital (Gaza City)

This write up came from the IDF spokesperson's office and was posted here.
Background Information – Al-Wafa Hospital

Al-Wafa hospital, located near Shajuayia in Gaza City, is a Hamas military compound.

The hospital housed a Hamas command and control center, and was utilized to direct and supervise the ongoing battles in the area. Among the hospital grounds, there was a lookout post, used to gather intelligence and monitor IDF forces activities in order to carry out attacks.
In addition, there were several access shafts to the Hamas tunnel network from within the hospital. 
On July 22, 2014, at the request of the IDF, the hospital was evacuated from patients and staff, and continued to be occupied by Hamas gunmen, that continued to fire at the IDF forces.

On July 21, 2014, the head of the Israeli Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) with Gaza confirmed with the Head of the WHO (World Health Organization) in Gaza that he has informed the hospital manager three times, that the premises should be vacated. The head of the WHO stated that the hospital manager declared there were no patients or staff in the hospital, and that the building is empty. This was confirmed by the Gaza CLA on July 23, 2014.

Attached is footage of the IAF strike carried out earlier today [July 23] at terror targets in the site. Secondary explosions are visible in the footage, indicating an extensive amount of weaponry stored.
Let's go to the videotape.


Pretty impressive secondary explosions, no?

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Sad, but true

Hat Tip: NR (Daughter # 2, Child # 4)

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What you write on social media can get you into trouble

Three soldiers and a civilian have been arrested for disclosing on WhatsApp the identities of Israeli casualties in Operation Protective Edge before the families had been informed.
The soldiers, who come from the Medical Corps, the Human Resources Directorate, and the Military Rabbinate, are accused of sending information about the identities of soldiers killed in action before the names had been made public. The messages that made their way around Israel included photos of the coffins of soldiers being prepared.

In a number of cases, relatives who received the messages learned of their loved ones’ deaths before they had received an official notification from the IDF. In other cases, false information reporting that soldiers had been killed had made it to their relatives. Those relatives spent hours thinking that tragedy had befallen them before the mistake could be clarified by the IDF.

“Notifying a family of a soldier or an officer who was killed in action is one of the most sensitive and well-planned procedures that exist in the military, as befits such a serious moment,” the military said.

The IDF said that the arrests followed an investigation that it described has having employed “both open-source and undercover means.”

“The unauthorized WhatsApp messages were irresponsible and spread quickly across social networks,” it said.

The issue of information passing via WhatsApp has been a serious one as of late for the army. A commercial played in recent weeks on Army Radio has instructed soldiers not to talk about operational information on the application for fear it could fall into the wrong hands.
While these arrests will certainly have a deterrent effect, I don't think they will change anything in the long run. We live in a global village and foreign media report things that the Israeli media tries to keep secret for far too long. While I agree in principle that families of casualties ought to hear about it from the IDF (where there are units that are trained in how to inform families) and not from the media, I also believe that the government and the IDF are not realistic about how quickly stories spread in this country. This is a small country, nearly everyone in the work place has been involved in the military at some point, and what you hear at a water cooler during your coffee break at the average high tech company is probably far more informative - and tempting to spread - than anything you might read on Israel Matzav. In fact, many people argue that with the rise of Twitter and WhatsApp and other instantaneous methods of disseminating information, blogging may soon be (or may already be) passe.

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What's a disproportionate response?

Heh (Hat Tip: Debbie R).

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Foreign reporters threatened on Twitter for reporting on Hamas rocket fire

On Wednesday night, I reported that foreign journalists have begun to quietly acknowledge that Hamas is using hospitals and mosques to store and fire rockets and is using the civilian population generally as human shields for its activities. Unsurprisingly, we now have word that some foreign journalists have been threatened for their reporting.
On Wednesday, Peter Stefanovic of Australia’s Channel Nine News tweeted: “Hamas rockets just launched over our hotel from a site about two hundred metres away. So a missile launch site is basically next door.”

An account called @ThisIsGaza said this was Stefanovic’s fourth time “passing and fabricating information to Israel... from GAZA” and threatened to sue him.

Another account, @longitude0 wrote: “You are a cretin. Are you working for the IDF” and “in WWII spies got shot.”

Financial Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief John Reed reported seeing “two rockets fired toward Israel from near al-Shifa hospital, even as more bombing victims were brought in.”

Shifa, in Gaza City, is the main medical facility in the Strip [and is where the Hamas leadership is hiding out. CiJ].

In response, @Saritah_91 tweeted: “We’ll hold you responsible if Israel uses your tweet to bomb the hospital & then justify it.”

Another twitter user, @ Faysal_FreeGaza, said he’s “subtly justifying and encouraging IDF attacks on hospitals,” and @Maysara_ ara wrote: “Get out of Gaza u informant.”


Harry Fear, a journalist from the UK reporting from Gaza for RT (formerly Russia Today) television, tweeted last week: “Early morning Gaza rockets were fired into Israel. A well-known site in W. Gaza City, near my hotel, was among the origins, confirm locals.”

Fear then took on the critics, tweeting soon after that he rejects “loaded complaints that I ‘informed’ Israel about the specifics of Gaza military sites... These sites are well-known among locals and internationals here.”

“Should a journalist only report the noise and ferocity of Israel’s attacks & not the sounds of Gaza’s rockets? Both terrify people,” he tweeted.

Later that day, Fear tweeted: “Al-Wafa hospital has been hit in the last while; injuries reported – this is the hospital with human shields.” 
While a Goldstone 2 is unlikely to be any less biased than the Goldstone Commission after Operation Cast Lead, these tweets should be filed away for future reference. If a future inquiry (there's already one in the making - more on that later) is biased against Israel, these tweets can be used to show that Israel acted justifiably. 

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FAA lifts flight ban

The US Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on flights to Israel in response to 'increased security measures' undertaken by the IDF.
The decision to cancel the flight restrictions came after "working with its US government counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewing both significant new information and measures the Government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation," the FAA said in a statement released Thursday morning.
With the exception of British Airways, which continued flying to and from Israel, most major European carriers, including Lufthansa and Air France, also suspended their flights Tuesday. On Wednesday Lufthansa said it would suspend flights – including its affiliates Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss and Brussels Airlines – for another 24 hours as well.
Prime Minister Netanyahu had raised the ban with US Secretary of State John FN Kerry on Wednesday after Kerry's arrival in Israel was derided on social media as proof that the airport is safe.

But Arutz Sheva reports that the lifting of the ban came with a warning
The US national aviation authority has lifted a ban on American flights to Israel, but warned of a "very fluid situation" amid intense fighting with Palestinians in nearby Gaza, AFP reports Thursday.
"The FAA has lifted its restrictions on US airline flights into and out of Israel's Ben Gurion Airport by canceling a Notice to Airmen it renewed earlier today," the Federal Administration Agency said in a statement.
Before making its decision, the FAA said it worked with US government officials to evaluate the security situation in Israel and "carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation."
It did not, however, indicate what the new information might entail.
I suspect strongly that the 'new information' is that on Wednesday, Israel destroyed the rocket launchers that were being used to target Ben Gurion Airport. I didn't hear or read that anywhere and I have no source for it. It's just my speculation.

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This was Gaza

In two weeks, we will observe the 9th anniversary of the expulsion of Gush Katif and the destruction of several thriving communities in Gaza.

Here's what it looked like before the communities were destroyed. Very different from today, isn't it?

A pity that we ruined what we had accomplished with our own hands....


FAA extends flight ban, most European airlines join

The Federal Aviation Administration has extended its ban on American carriers flying to Ben Gurion Airport for another 24 hours until 7:15 pm Israel time on Thursday, and most European carriers (with the notable exception of British Airways) have joined.
Delta, United and US Airways all cancelled their scheduled flights for Wednesday, as did a raft of European carriers including Germany's Lufthansa, Air France, Poland's LOT and others.
"We will continue to suspend flying to and from Tel Aviv ... and will continue to coordinate with the FAA to ensure the safety of our customers and employees," a United spokeswoman said.
"We plan these things conservatively," added US carrier Delta's chief executive Richard Anderson, speaking on the CNBC business news cable channel. "But we will need concrete information from our government that lets us draw an independent conclusion ... that it's going to be safe for our passengers and our employees."
Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Finnair, Iberia, Lufthansa, Air Berlin, Aegean and SAS cancelled services to Tel Aviv, as did Turkish Air. British Airways flights continued.
"At the moment there is no reliable new information that would justify a resumption of flight service," said Lufthansa in a statement.
Austrian, which carries up to 700 passengers between Vienna and Tel Aviv every day, and SAS said they would review the situation for Thursday.
Aeroflot and Romanian carrier TAROM, on the other hand, said they would resume flights Wednesday after cancelling Tuesday. Air Canada cancelled one flight on Wednesday and another Thursday.
I don't see Alitalia on the list. Hmmm.

This is a huge incentive for the IDF to take care of business ASAP. 

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Meshaal: 'There will be no compromise'

Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal gave a speech tonight. Not from Gaza of course.

Much of the speech is a disgusting mix of anti-Semitism and rage. But here are the parts that matter:

Resistance proved to be more moral than Netanyahu's army. We will never disarm. Resistance is a right

Resistance will only disarm on 2 conditions. 1) Israel to end all its occupation of Palestine 2) Israel has to disarm too.

People were displaced inside Gaza. No one will leave Gaza. Refugees will be coming back, and this war makes it sooner.

We don't use our people as human shields. Contrary is true. Israel failed to break the resistance and thus Netanyahu punishes civilians.

During this humanitarian disaster, I'm calling all the Human rights organizations to put pressure on Israel to stop its genocides.

We care for a humanitarian ceasefire we support like this week. But it should be real and give aid to people and not trick us.

Our main demand is to end the Israeli offensives against our people and to completely lift the siege.

My conclusion from Meshaal there is no eminent ceasefire because the Palestinian resistance conditions are not met.

Our demands are legitimate and we have provided them to everyone, we will not stop the fire before agreeing to our demands.

We have 6 conditions and you consider them too much? After so much blood? And after so much resilience?

We want the aggression to end now, but if you bet on our patience we can take it as long as it take to end the siege.

I wish I were in Gaza now.

6 demands. then unite to free Palestine, bring back the refugees, use all sorts of resistance, to free JErsalem. End collaboration.

Somea re talking about ending the siege AFTER the ceasefire. We tried that. We do not accept it now.

If Kerry wants to reach an agreement, I invite him to go to Gaza where decision making takes place and final word is not Ramallah.

Ban Ki-Moon should go to Gaza and see the crimes there!
It doesn't look like this is ending anytime soon. There is NO chance that Israel will lift the blockade as part of a cease fire arrangement, especially after what's been discovered in the last week.

As to him wishing he could be in Gaza... where does he wish to be? In the bunker under Shifa? Surely not fighting. That's for the small people. 

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Quietly, foreign journalists acknowledge Hamas is using human shields

Honest Reporting has posted a group of three tweets (one since removed) and four article excerpts in which foreign journalists acknowledge that Hamas is using human shields.

Here are two of the stories they published.
4. Another report by Washington Post correspondents from 17 July recounts:
During the lull, a group of men at a mosque in northern Gaza said they had returned to clean up the green glass from windows shattered in the previous day’s bombardment. But they could be seen moving small rockets into the mosque.

6. The Japanese daily Mainichi’s correspondent in Gaza reported on 21 July:
Hamas criticizes that “Israel massacres civilians”. On the other hand, it tries to use evacuating civilians and journalists by stopping them and turning them into “human shields”, counteracting thoroughly with its guerrilla tactics…

Hamas’s “Human Shield” strategy is also aimed at foreign journalists…During the current battle, Hamas’s checkpoint was bombarded, and there was temporary checkpoint at another location. To some 20 journalists who wished to leave, Hamas staff member suddenly told, “Israel closed the checkpoint… However, when I called IDF personnel at the checkpoint, he said that “We haven’t got attacked and we are open as usual…”.  While were discussing what to do, the same Hamas staff member shouted, “in 5 minutes Israel seems to conduct an airstrike on here. Return immediately to Gaza!” All the journalists returned to Gaza by car. But we remembered that Hamas, during the conflict with Israel in November 2012, also closed checkpoints to block outflow.

Read the whole thing.

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Video: Givati brigade discovers terror tunnel

Here's a video of the IDF's Givat brigade going into a terror tunnel. The video is in Hebrew, but I'll have more after the video.

Let's go to the videotape.

Two terror tunnels were uncovered during the footage shown, and Givati soldiers stated that at least one of them was crucial to transporting Hamas terrorist cells covertly. 
So far, Givati has uncovered 17 separate shafts since the ground offensive began.
Givati has also arrested dozens of Hamas terrorists over the past week, including 16 in a 24-hour period. 
However, this is only start of a long mission ahead for the IDF, as Givati Brigade commander, Colonel Gen. Ofer Vinter noted, "we still have a lot to do."
Many more pictures here

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Zany Zehava calls for investigating Rabbi Lior for stating Jewish law in time of war

Zany Zehava Gal-On of the Meretz Sheretz party has called on the Attorney General to 'investigate' Rabbi Dov Lior for 'incitement' for stating that Jewish law permits punishing and crushing the enemy, including the civilians among whom Hamas embeds itself.
Lior said that he had received questions about whether it is permitted according to Jewish law to harm a civilian population not directly involved with the combatants. 
“At a time of war it is permitted for the people who are attacked to punish the enemy population with measures such as blocking supplies or electricity and to shell the entire area according to the considerations of the minister of the army and not to needlessly endanger soldiers but rather to take crushing warning steps to exterminate the enemy,” Lior wrote.
Addressing the current hostilities with Hamas, the rabbi continued “In the case of Gaza, it would be permitted for the Minister of Defense to even order the destruction of all of Gaza so that the south will no longer suffer  and to prevent injury to our people who have been suffering for so long from the enemies surrounding us.”
Lior added that “talk of humanism and consideration are as nothing when weighed against saving our brothers in the south and across the country and the restoration of quiet to our land.”
You might recall that the IDF's previous chief rabbi, Avichai Ronsky, was forced out for a similar 'offense' to Lior's.

And perhaps this is the place to include a video that many people have sent me over the past week, and which I was holding because I thought it included music and we don't listen to music now - the three week mourning period over the destruction of the Temples. But this isn't music - it's only singing.

Moments before these Israeli soldiers enter Gaza and place their lives at risk for the sake of the Land of Israel, they prepare themselves by singing and dancing songs of faith in the G-d of Israel. They are singing: 1) "The whole world is a narrow bridge and the main thing is not to be afraid" - a famous rabbinical phrase 2) Serve G-d with joy and come before Him with song 3) "We Have No one Rely Upon Except Our Father In Heaven"

Let's go to the videotape.

I'm sure that the soldiers' reliance on God rubs Zany Zehava the wrong way.....

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Hamas continues to launch rockets from Shifa Hospital

The only chance there is to clean out Hamas is to clean out Shifa. One goes with the other.

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Delta, Lufthansa extend flight ban

The FAA isn't due to weigh in until around 7:00 tonight Israel time, but Delta and Lufthansa have already decided to extend the ban on flights to Israel.
Germany's Lufthansa on Wednesday suspended flights to and from Tel Aviv for an additional 24 hours. The decision also applies to Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss and Brussels Airlines.
"At the present time no adequate authoritative new information is available that would justify a resumption of flights. In close coordination with the responsible authorities Lufthansa is continually evaluating the safety situation for its total flight network," the company said.
On Tuesday, it suspended flights for 36 hours following a decision by America's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to suspend travel to and from Israel. A rocket had fallen in a house in Yehud, a residential area near the airport, earlier in the day.
Delta Air Lines will also extend its suspension of flights to Israel on Wednesday amid hostilities between Israel and the militant group Hamas, its chief executive said on CNBC.
"Today ... we are not flying to Israel," Delta CEO Richard Anderson said in an interview with CNBC.
His comments come a day after air carriers in the United States and Europe halted flights to Tel Aviv as turmoil in Israel and the Gaza Strip intensified.
The FAA on Tuesday said it told US carriers they were prohibited from flying to or from Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv for up to 24 hours, citing "the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza."
At least Delta is consistent.
"We will not allow a flight to be dispatched over Iran, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan or North Korea," he told CNBC. "We make this decision wholly independent of any geopolitical or regulatory mandate."
But it really is safe to fly here. 

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IDF discovers maps, IDF uniforms in terror tunnel

I'm shocked. Just shocked. (Not). The IDF discovered maps, IDF uniforms and weapons (of course) in yet another terror tunnel uncovered by the Givati brigade on Wednesday.
Operation Protective Edge's ground offensive has uncovered the full extent of tunnel terror into Israel Wednesday, after a shaft uncovered by the Givati Brigade was revealed to be holding IDF uniforms, maps, and a full weapons cache.
I would not bet that they uncovered the full extent yet. Let's see what's under Shifa Hospital.

More on the day's events in Gaza here

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What Hamas planned to do with the terror tunnels

The IDF has not yet located and destroyed all of Hamas' terror tunnels, but the consensus about the intent behind them is quite clear. This is Jonathan Dahoah HeLevi of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, delivered a revealing speech on March 23, 2014, in which he stressed the strategic importance of the Hamas attack tunnels, which, he argued, have changed the balance of power with Israel, when taken together with his organization’s military build-up. In the meantime, the IDF’s war against the tunnels continues. On Monday IDF forces thwarted another terror attack after two groups of Hamas operatives (numbering about ten) infiltrated from Gaza to Israel through a tunnel, apparently on their way to carry out a mass casualty attack at Kibbutz Erez and/or Kibbutz Nir Am.
Since Operation Protective Edge began, IDF forces have foiled several other attempted attacks by Hamas near Kibbutz Sufa and Kibbutz Nirim that also made use of attack tunnels, while uncovering and blowing up dozens of tunnels in Gaza along its border with Israel. These tunnels penetrate deep into Israeli territory, sometimes reaching a length of 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles).
The attack tunnels create a new equation in the power balance between Israel and Hamas. They give Hamas an ability to infiltrate Israel and carry out strategic attacks involving mass killing, along with an ability to launch missiles from locations concealed within civilian population centers that serve, in effect, as human shields. Should Hamas retain in the future 20 tunnels, and dispatch 50 operatives in each, they could deploy 1,000 men behind Israeli lines. The tunnels would allow Hamas to wreak havoc if they are left in place.
Hizbullah’s tactics, learned from Iran, have been replicated in Gaza, particularly the use of the tunnels to provide “breathing space” in waging the military campaign. The Hamas-Hizbullah-Iranian aim is to cause as much harm as possible to the civilian population and weaken Israel by damaging its economy. Like Hizbullah, Hamas in the current round has tried to strike strategic targets in Israel and inflict mass casualties, including the nuclear reactor in Dimona, the chemical plants in Haifa, and Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Despite the reconciliation agreement with Fatah and the establishment of the unity government, one of Hamas’s objectives in the war is to ignite another intifada on the West Bank aimed ultimately at the toppling of Palestinian Authority rule and instituting a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian national movement. This current round of fighting highlights the importance of continued Israeli security control of key areas of the West Bank to prevent a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian Authority, and the maintenance of minimal defensible borders should a Palestinian state be established.
Then there's this assessment from Times of Israel's David Horovitz.
The prime danger, the second half of the terror strategy that has required us to send our troops into Gaza, has turned out to be Hamas’s cross-border tunneling, the scale of which was not publicly known until the last few days. Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog spoke Tuesday of the “unimaginable” mega-terror attack Hamas is believed to have been planning — sending hundreds of terrorists swarming through those tunnels to massacre Israelis in the Gaza-envelope kibbutzim and moshavim. Netanyahu said Sunday that the intended Hamas attacks on kibbutz kindergartens, homes and dining halls would have been “catastrophic.”
Five times in recent days, trying to use those tunnels before the army finds them, well-armed terror gangs have made their way through — entering them from beneath homes in the Gaza neighborhoods a few hundred yards from the border, and emerging inside Israel. An estimated 20 Hamas gunmen have been killed in the subsequent confrontations; so have six IDF soldiers. Kibbutzim and moshavim close to Gaza have been placed on shutdown for long hours while the army made sure there were no more killers on the loose. Troop deployments on the Israeli side have been significantly bolstered.
But those are defensive measures. The real battle is taking place in those Gaza border neighborhoods — Shejaiya, Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun and others — where thousands of Israeli solders are searching, house to house, for the tunnel entrances. Dozens of openings have been found — multiple entrances to the underground passages that also have multiple exits on the Israeli side. Time after time, Hamas gunmen have sought to surprise the Israeli soldiers by rising out of the earth from these openings, and firing. They’ve been largely unsuccessful. Ten Hamas gunmen were shot dead attempting the feat from one tunnel opening inside a mosque on Sunday, military sources said — just one of numerous such incidents.
Israel says some 210 Hamas fighters have been killed; more than 20 have been captured and are providing intelligence on the tunnels.
And finally there's this - long on details that I have been unable to confirm and short on verification or even a source (the person who posted it on Facebook did so without a link and has refused repeated entreaties to post one). Even if the details are all wrong (and they're probably not - lots of information that the army doesn't release gets disclosed around the water coolers at Israeli workplaces), it is a concrete example of what HaLevi and Horovitz are discussing above.
From the 48 Hamas prisoners that have been captured, the intelligence have been interrogating them and the most terrifying, and horrific picture is being built.
They are being investigated about the many tunnels that have been found and dug under many kibbutzim that surround Gaza. The most terrifying detail is being uncovered that Hamas had a plan to attack all the settlements and kibbutzim in the area this year on Rosh Hashanah with an invasion of over 200 terrorists into almost all the settlements in the area. The tunnels went under the kibbutzim under the kindergartens and dining rooms and other areas within the kibbutz perimeters. They planned to occupy the whole area and kill as many Israeli as possible.
This could have been the worst terror attack in the history of terrorism. Thousands of people, including women and children would have been slaughtered in this planned attack.
I think now we start to understand how dangerous these tunnels really are. They all have to be destroyed and we cannot leave even one undetected or unattended to. These tunnels are more dangerous than any rocket or any other weapon .
 Sounds to me like Mumbai....

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Slate: 'Birthright killed Max Steinberg'

These people just live on a different planet.
What else happens on those 10-day trips? There is a lot of hooking up  and plenty of, as Feldman writes, “reinforcing the Zionist claim to the land” (Feldman’s tour guide identified everything they saw out of the bus window as “in the Bible,” and her group was given maps that identified the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria”). And, “at some point during their all-expenses-paid ten-day trip to a land where, as they are constantly reminded, every mountain and valley is inscribed with 5,000 years of their people’s history,” there is “the moment”— the moment when participants realize just how important Israel is to them, to their fundamental identity, and how important they are to Israel.
According to Steinberg’s parents, that is exactly what happened to Max. His mother told the Washington Post that, initially, he didn’t want to go on the Birthright trip, but once he did, it changed him. It was on his group’s visit to Israel’s national cemetery at Mount Herzl that Steinberg saw the grave of an American “lone soldier” who died fighting for Israel and “decided that Israel was where he wanted to be.” He joined the IDF, his father said, because he saw it as an obligation were he to stay in Israel.
Birthright says that aliyah—the immigration of diaspora Jews to Israel—is not one of its goals, but like Steinberg, many participants come away with the feeling that Israel is where they belong. Birthright estimates that 20,000­–30,000 of its participants have acted on that feeling by moving to Israel. I have known many young American Jews who have made the same decision—who at 18 decided that they belonged in Israel and, though they’d never considered joining the American military, moved across the ocean to join the IDF right after high school. People say Birthright is “just like camp,” and it sure sounds like a very condensed version of the Jewish camp I attended as a kid, whose purpose was, at the very least, to foster a connection to Israel in young Jews—and at best, to get us to move to the country and fight for it. My camp, filled with the children of liberal American Jews, did this by presenting a very simplistic picture of the political situation in Israel and the threat to Jews worldwide, all within the context of helping to fix the world while having the time of your life. Birthright does a form of the same.
On Tuesday, Birthright issued a statement from its CEO, Gidi Mark. “We are deeply saddened to inform you of the tragic loss of one our Taglit Birthright Israel alumni Max Steinberg,” Mark wrote. “His life—a life filled with promise cut short far too soon—will live in our hearts forever as a reminder of the sacrifices he and so many before him have made to keep Israel safe.”
What makes an American kid with shaky Hebrew and no ties to the state of Israel suddenly decide he is ready to make this sacrifice? Maybe Max was especially lost, or especially susceptible, or maybe he was just looking to do some good and became convinced by his Birthright experience that putting on an IDF uniform and grabbing a gun was the way to do it. That serving and protecting the Jewish people was the moral thing to do, and that the best way to accomplish it was to go fight for the Jewish state. It turns out that it’s not that hard to persuade young people to see the world a certain way and that Birthright is very good at doing it. You spend hundreds of millions of dollars to convince young Jews that they are deeply connected to a country that desperately needs their support? This is what you get. 
Maybe this explains why 78% of American Jewry voted for Barack Obama - his non-support of Israel notwithstanding. Because to them, being Jewish isn't about joining their lives and fate to that of the Jewish people, including by supporting Israel. It's about liberalism and liberal values and not seeing the basic goodness and morality embodied in the Jewish state. Max Steinber saw it and that's why he came here. His death is a tragedy, but it should not be used as a club with which to destroy Birthright. He was not brainwashed. He chose to realize his identity with the Jewish people.

By the way, 30,000 people attended Max Steinberg's funeral in Jerusalem last night.  Even John Kerry was moved (check out the link). And another 6,000 attended the funeral of French lone soldier Jordan Simon in Ashkelon, where the biggest concern was that too many people would show up and there would ba rocket attack during the funeral.

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Kerry violates FAA ban, flies into Israel

Are we to assume that the United States believes that Air Force 2 could shoot down shrapnel from a Hamas rocket, like the shrapnel (no, it wasn't a rocket - link in Hebrew) that hit a home five kilometers from Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday leading to an FAA ban on flying here?

Let's go to the videotape.

Kerry - Israel's unwanted guest - is looking for a cease fire.
"We have certainly made some steps forward. There is still work to be done," Kerry said shortly after arriving in Jerusalem for a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He declined to give any details.
Kerry arrived in Tel Aviv earlier on Wednesday " to meet with officials to discuss the ongoing cease-fire efforts," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
"He will also travel to Jerusalem and the West Bank, and will be meeting with Palestinian Authority President [Mahmoud] Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu," she added.
On Tuesday, Kerry held talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo, while  Ban  met with leaders in Jerusalem and Ramallah. As of Tuesday night, there was no sign that a cease-fire was imminent.
 What could go wrong?

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Breaking: IDF orders Shifa Hospital evacuated (with live broadcast embedded) - UPDATED

Well, here we go. The IDF has just asked the 'Palestinians' to evacuate Shifa Hospital, which is being used as a military command and control center, and where the Hamas leadership is hiding in a bunker (link in Hebrew).

I'm embedding a live broadcast from Israel's Channel 2 below, and then I will go back and update with a summary in English on the post linked above.

The article is about the fighting at the neighboring al-Wafa Hospital (see previous post which went up two minutes before this one). The report says that over the past few days, the patients were removed from the hospital, and that it had become completely a military installation.

According to the article, the takeover of Shejaiya is nearly complete. More than 120 military targets embedded among the civilian population have been destroyed.

The last part of the story is about John Kerry's arrival (covered in a post that's queued for a little while from now).

I invite you to continue watching the broadcast above. If it stops, an arrow should pop up and just click on the arrow to continue. 

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IDF: Hamas shooting from inside al-Wafa hospital

The IDF reports that Hamas has been using the al-Wafa Hospital in eastern Gaza City to fire on IDF troops within the last hour.
Hamas has used positions in the Al-Wafa Hospital in Gaza to fire automatic weapons and anti-tank missiles on soldiers, and the IDF fired back in recent minutes, the army said Wednesday.

"The hospital was used for activating war rooms and command and control centers by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad," the army said.

The IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories has issued repeated and direct warnings to the hospital's manager, and to other Palestinians involved in running the hospital, the army said.

"Firing on our soldiers has grown in recent hours and endangered forces. As a result, the IDF has decided to strike terrorists operating in the hospital complex," it added.
Earlier, the IDF announced the results of an investigation into firing that destroyed part of the hospital last week. 
But a deeper initial investigation by the IDF, reported here by the Post for the first time indicates that there was no firing directly on the hospital, but only on a group of military targets, including combatants firing rockets on Israel in real-time.

Also, the military official said that an initial deeper review of the incident indicates that the hospital was not told to evacuate, as has been reported.

Rather, said the official, the warning was that rockets were being shot directly from the hospital area, that Israel intended to hit those firing the rockets and that at the very least, if the hospital could not be evacuated, patients should move away from the windows.

In this narrative, the damage to the hospital was the unintentional indirect result of attacking the nearby rocket launchers.

IDF Maj. Gen Noam Tibon will be investigating all such incidents even more fully and may even eventually report other conclusions, but this is by far the most in-depth and specific version of events that the IDF has given on this incident to date.

The damage to the hospital and the idea that the IDF was warning all of its patients to evacuate was seen as particularly controversial because the B'Tselem human rights group has said that the hospital has 17 patients, between the ages of 14 and 95, all suffering from different degrees of paralysis.

B'Tselem had also added that "there is no other rehabilitative institute in the area where patients can be transferred. These patients require special conditions that cannot be recreated," implying that a transfer not to a special rehabilitative hospital could be life-threatening.

The military official's version that there were rocket launchers in the hospital's vicinity receives some support from UNRWA's recent confirmation that terror groups had secretly hidden rockets in one of their Gaza facilities, breaking rules of neutrality.

Several attempts to receive an updated response from Hospital Director Basman al-‘Ashi before press time were unsuccessful.
Funny - I haven't heard of them using Shifa Hospital that way. Maybe because they don't want to endanger the Hamas leadership. But they couldn't give a damn about endangering sick and wounded civilians. Typical terrorists.

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Dershowitz weeps: Hamas is killing the 'two-state solution'

Alan Dershowitz writes that by targeting Ben Gurion Airport, Hamas has effectively killed the 'two-state solution.'
Hamas's decision to fire rockets in the direction of Ben Gurion Airport may well have ended any real prospect of a two-state solution. Whether the regulators and airlines that have stopped flights to and from Israel are right or wrong, this stoppage cannot possibly be tolerated by a democratic country that relies so heavily on tourism and international travel. It is of course a war crime to target an international civilian airport, as Hamas has clearly done. Israel has every right to keep that airport open, employing all reasonable military means at its disposal. Since Hamas fires its rockets from densely populated civilian areas, there will be more Palestinian civilian deaths.
This of course is part of Hamas' grand strategy: by targeting Israeli civilians and international air travel from its own civilian areas, Hamas leaves Israel no choice but to take military actions that risk the lives of innocent Palestinians. There will be even more innocent Palestinian deaths now, as Hamas has raised the stakes considerably for Israel. Every country in the world would do everything in its power to keep open the airports, which are the lifelines to its economic viability. Hamas knows this and welcomes Israeli military action that produces more dead Palestinian civilians and hence more international criticism of Israel.
Even more importantly, Hamas' actions in essentially closing down international air traffic into Israel, considerably reduces the prospect of any two-state solution. Israel will now be more reluctant than ever to give up military control over the West Bank, which is even closer to Ben Gurion Airport than is Gaza.
Were Israel to end its military occupation of the West Bank—as distinguished from its civilian settlements deep in the West Bank—it would risk the possibility of a Hamas takeover. That is precisely what happened when Israel removed both its civilian settlements and its military presence in Gaza. Hamas took control, fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilian targets and have now succeeded in stopping international air traffic into and out of Israel.
Israel could not accept the risk of a Hamas takeover of the West Bank and the resulting Hamas rocket attacks at the nearby Ben Gurion Airport. It may still be possible to create a two-state solution whereby Israel withdraws its civilian settlers from most of the West Bank and agrees to land swaps for areas that now contain large settlement blocks. But Israel will have to retain military control over its security borders, which extend to the Jordan River. It will also have to maintain a sufficient military presence to assure that what happened in Gaza does not happen in the West Bank. These military realities do not have to exist forever. Israel's military presence could be reduced if the Palestinian Authority were to maintain effective control over the West Bank and prevent terrorists from using that area to send rockets and terrorists into Israel.
The new reality caused by Hamas' shutting down of international air travel to and from Israel would plainly justify an Israeli demand that it maintain military control over the West Bank in any two-state deal. The Israeli public would never accept a deal that did not include a continued Israeli military presence in the West Bank. They have learned the tragic lesson of Gaza and they will not allow it to be repeated in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority, however, is unlikely to accept such a condition, though it should. This will simply make it far more difficult for an agreement to be reached.
Dershowitz's belief that Fatah (and the 'Palestinian Authority') is not in agreement with Hamas is an alternative reality. Fatah just concluded a unity agreement with Hamas a few months ago, and it has given no indication that it intends to abandon that agreement over a few thousand rockets and a few dozen terror tunnels. He's right that Fatah will never accept an Israeli presence (of any kind) in Judea and Samaria, and telling them that they should will not change that fact.

Dershowitz has turned himself into just another peace processor who thinks that just because he believes we 'cannot live without peace,' the other side must also think that way.

What could go wrong?

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Jon Stewart Liebowitz goes after Israel again

'Comedian' Jon Stewart Liebowitz goes after Israel for the second time during this war, whining that he's not allowed to talk about the Jewish state.

Let's go to the videotape.

He's not very funny, is he? You don't think he has a personal thing about Israel, do you? Maybe he's ashamed of his own heritage.... In case you didn't notice this post's title, his real last name is Liebowitz.

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More Hamas use of Israeli terror victims as their own

Another disgraceful use by Hamas or its supporters of Jewish terror victims - this time from the March 2002 suicide bombing at Jerusalem's Cafe Moment - to claim that they are actually 'Palestinians' victimized by Israel.

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Israel to offer international airlines use of Eilat's Uvda airport

I know that many of you think that we have only one international airport, but in fact we have two. Uvda Airport outside of Eilat has been used by charter flights from Europe in the winter for many years and is capable of handling many commercial passenger jets (that's a Boeing 737 in the picture). From Noon on Wednesday Israel time (around when this post will go live), the State of Israel is offering the use of Uvda to foreign airlines who are afraid to use Ben Gurion.
Speaking to reporters at Ben-Gurion Airport, Katz said that Uvda would begin operating at noon local time. The minister said that efforts are also being made to provide service to some 4,000 Israelis who were left stranded in Istanbul after their airlines refused to fly into Lod in light of the FAA ban announced on Tuesday.
Katz said that his ministry had urged Turkish aviation officials to transport the Israelis back home, but that the Turks are hesitant to land their aircraft in Uvda.
Israel Radio reported on Wednesday that US Airways will renew its regular fights to Israel beginning on Thursday.
Well, maybe. If the FAA doesn't renew the ban. But we won't know that until about 7:15 tonight Israel time. In the meantime, you can find statistics on Uvda (or Ovda) here. I note that it says that the airport cannot operate at night. If that's true, it won't be much of a solution for the foreign airlines.

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The lady doth protest too much?

For the second time in five days, UNRWA has 'discovered' that Hamas is storing rockets in their schools (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
Today, in the course of the regular inspection of its premises, UNRWA discovered rockets hidden in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip. As soon as the rockets were discovered, UNRWA staff were withdrawn from the premises, and so we are unable to confirm the precise number of rockets. The school is situated between two other UNRWA schools that currently each accommodate 1,500 internally displaced persons.
UNRWA strongly and unequivocally condemns the group or groups responsible for this flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law.
The Agency immediately informed the relevant parties and is pursuing all possible measures for the removal of the objects in order to preserve the safety and security of the school. UNRWA will launch a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident.
UNRWA has reinforced and continues to implement its robust procedures to maintain the neutrality of all its premises, including a strict no-weapons policy and regular inspections of its installations, to ensure they are only used for humanitarian purposes.
Palestinian civilians in Gaza rely on UNRWA to provide humanitarian assistance and shelter. At all times, and especially during escalations of violence, the sanctity and integrity of UN installations must be respected.
Why can't UNRWA confirm the number of rockets? Didn't they disarm them? Or did they turn them over to Hamas like they did the first time rockets were 'discovered'?

Why is UNRWA pussyfooting about 'the group or groups responsible for this flagrant violation' of their non-standards? Do they really not know who is doing this?

In how many more schools are rockets 'hidden' despite UNRWA's 'robust procedures' and 'no-weapons policy'? Do they even have a clue?

And finally, instead of 'protesting' and 'condemning,' why doesn't UNRWA do something about the problem - like root out the terrorists in its midst.

It has long been known that UNRWA knowingly hires terrorists [pdf link]. In UNRWA union elections in March 2009, Islamists won all eleven seats in the teacher's union. In March 2009, it was also reported that UNRWA was using a bank that had been sanctioned by the United States for money laundering. And in February 2009, UNRWA transmitted a letter from Hamas to then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry.

UNRWA has long since outlived its usefulness. All it does is perpetuate the myth that 'Palestinian refugees' will 'return' to the homes that their great grandparents abandoned in Israel. UNRWA has resisted efforts to find 'Palestinians' permanent housing. It's time for it to be dismantled.

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Our commanders lead from the front

Golani brigade commander Col. Ghassan Alian, the highest ranking Druze soldier in the IDF, has returned to his command just three days after suffering shrapnel wounds in battle.
Ynet reports today that Col. Ghassan Alian, the commander of the Golani Brigade and the highest ranking Druze in the IDF, has returned to fight against Hamas in Gaza, just three days after he suffered shrapnel wounds in battle.
“I’m leaving hospital to go to the unit,” he said. “I was in touch with the battalion commanders regarding the IDF’s accomplishments, and am returning to take command of the division, and move forward.
“The spirits in the division are strong and high. I visited the wounded fighters and I would have loaded them back inside the bus if I had had one available.We had a hard battle the morning I was wounded. A rocket-propelled grenade flew several meters over my head. I have a few scratches but I’m ok.”
Despite his confidence, Alian also acknowledged that the brigade has suffered losses in the fighting, “I want to send a warm embrace to the bereaved families. I could not see them all but plan on doing so. They give us strength.”
Alian wanted to return to battle right away, but his doctors made him stay. On Monday, his doctors still wanted him to stay a while longer in the hospital but he insisted on returning. “I have a lot of soldiers there and I have to get back to them,” he said.
The IDF posted a Hebrew video of Alian's release from the hospital. You can watch it here.

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President 'Lead from Behind' leads from the front for Hamas

President 'Lead from Behind' is finally leading from the front. Unfortunately, he's leading on behalf of Hamas against Israel by ordering the FAA to ban flights to Israel. This is from Jennifer Dyer.
Pundits and other advocates have been swift to condemn this U.S. action, a serious measure of economic isolation which will deny Israel millions of dollars in commercial revenues even if it lasts only 24 hours.  Eugene Kontorovich points out that the message is prejudicial and the timing is suspicious, with John Kerry heading for Israel to try to broker a ceasefire.
The subtext here is that Israel has a sword at its neck: face a private-sector no-fly zone or agree to a cease-fire that lets Hamas keep its rockets, and thus close Ben Gurion Airport again at the time of its choosing. It is a lose-lose proposition. …
Moreover, the timing of the FAA’s absurd and unjustified warning seems to have more to do with Kerry’s visit to the region to impose a cease-fire on Israel. Until his administration’s flight ban, that effort seemed entirely futile.
The message is unsubtle.  “Nice commercial hub you got, there, Bibi.  Be a shame if anything happened to it.”
Kontorovich observes further that the FAA would have been more consistent with its policies elsewhere if it had issued a warning rather than imposing a ban.  He cites the example of Afghanistan.
I would cite the example of Pakistan, where there have been multiple, very serious attacks on commercial airports in recent months, including an attack on an airliner in Peshawar, this one on the airport in Karachi, and an earlier one involving Taliban rocket fire in Peshawar.  In terms of the type of threat posed, the Pakistan Taliban is a fairly exact analogy to what Hamas can threaten Ben Gurion in Lod, Israel with – except that Israel does a much better job of securing Ben Gurion against the Hamas threat.  In none of the instances in Pakistan has the FAA banned U.S. carriers from flying in and out of the Pakistani airports.  At most, it has issued safety warnings.
Meanwhile, the implication many will propose, about an abundance of caution after the MH17 shootdown over Ukraine, falls apart on inspection.  The potential for a Hamas rocket to fall near the airport isn’t the same threat as the one posed by the fully militarized pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.  The pro-Russian separatists have the weaponry to shoot an airplane out of the sky at altitude – and they had actually done it before the MH17 shootdown.  That game-changing condition is not present in Israeli air space.
Ordinarily – as with Pakistan – the U.S. would take such things into account and avoid issuing flight bans against an ally’s airport.  As an “abundance of caution,” the flight ban on Ben Gurion is a psychotic one in comparison with the FAA’s use of its judgment elsewhere.  See the Special Notices here for the FAA’s ongoing warnings for U.S. carriers about air space in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and North Korea.  And note that in spite of the much greater potential threat to commercial aircraft in Syria and Iraq (for example) than in Israel, the prohibitions for U.S. carriers are not absolute in either nation.
The prohibition on Ben Gurion is uniquely stringent, and inconsistent with FAA practices elsewhere.  It also had to be approved by Obama.  Israel is an ally, one of America’s closest partners in the world.  Cutting off her commercial airport from U.S. carriers is inherently a presidential-level decision, and Obama is responsible whether he made it or not.
Caroline Glick also sees Obama's actions as fronting for Hamas
While Israel had killed 183 terrorists, it appeared that most of the terrorists killed were in the low to middle ranks of Hamas’s leadership hierarchy.

Hamas’s senior commanders, as well as its political leadership have hunkered down in hidden tunnel complexes.

In other words, Israel is making good progress.

But it hasn’t completed its missions. It needs several more days of hard fighting.

Recognizing this, Israel’s newfound Muslim allies [Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates] have not been pushing for a cease-fire.

In contrast, the Obama administration is insisting on concluding a cease-fire immediately.

As Israel has uncovered the scope of Hamas’s infrastructure of murder and terror, the US has acted with the UN, Turkey and Qatar to pressure Israel (and Egypt) to agree to a cease-fire and so end IDF operations against Hamas before the mission is completed.

To advance this goal, US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Monday night with an aggressive plan to force on Israel a cease-fire Hamas and its state sponsors will accept.

As former ambassador to the US Michael Oren told the media, it is clear that neither Israel nor Egypt invited Kerry to come over. Their avoidance of Kerry signals clearly that the US’s two most important allies in the Middle East do not trust US President Barack Obama’s intentions.

And their distrust is entirely reasonable.

The State Department has openly applauded Turkey and Qatar for their involvement in attempts to achieve a cease-fire. Last week Israeli officials alleged that the US was responsible for Hamas’s rejection of the Egyptian cease-fire proposal. By attempting to coerce Egypt to accept Qatar and Turkey as its partners in mediation, Obama signaled to Hamas’s leaders that they should hold out for a better deal.

Due to Turkey’s membership in NATO and the glamour of the Qatari royal family, many Westerners find it hard to believe that they are major sponsors of terrorism. But it is true. Turkey and Qatar are playing a double game.

While sending his ambassador to Brussels for NATO meetings, Erdogan has been transforming Turkey from an open, pro-Western society allied with Israel into a closed, anti-Semitic and anti-American society that sponsors Hamas, ISIL, al Nusra and other terrorists groups.

As for Qatar, the tiny natural gas superpower presents itself to Americans as their greatest ally in the Muslim world. The emirate gives hundreds of millions of dollars to US universities to open campuses in Doha and pretends it is a progressive, open society, replete with debating societies.

Qatar hosts three major US military bases on its territory. And it is becoming one of the most important clients for US military contractors. Earlier this year Qatar signed an $11.4 billion dollar arms agreement with the US.

At the same time, according to the Calacalist report, Qatar is the major bankroller of ISIS and al Nusra in Syria and Iraq. It gives $50 million a month to jihadists in Libya. It gives Hamas $100m. in annual aid. And in the past two years Doha has provided Hamas with an additional $620m. dollars, including $250m. it transferred to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s personal bank account, and $350m. in military aid to Hamas, transferred after the Egyptian military forced the Muslim Brotherhood government from power last July.

Add to that the $100m. per year that Qatar pours into Al Jazeera’s satellite network – which has dedicated itself to undermining pro-Western Arab regimes while popularizing the likes of al-Qaida and Hamas, and Qatar is the largest financier of international jihad in the world.

Rather than notice that Qatar and Turkey are playing a double game, and treat them with suspicion, the Obama administration has embraced them.
Caroline also fills in a few facts about the tunnels that you might have missed.
As we have seen from the heavily armed Hamas commando squads that have infiltrated into Israel from tunnels since the start of the current round of warfare, the first goal of these offensive tunnels is to deploy terrorists into Israel to massacre Israelis.

But the tunnels facilitate other terror missions as well.

Israel has found tunnels with shafts rigged with bombs located directly under Israeli kindergartens.

If the bombs had gone off, the buildings above would have been destroyed, taking the children down with them.

Other exposed shafts showed Hamas’s continued intense interest in hostage taking. In 2006 the terrorists who kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Schalit entered Israel and returned to Gaza through such a tunnel.

Today the presence of sedatives and multiple sets of handcuffs for neutralizing hostages found in tunnel after tunnel indicate that Hamas intends to abduct several Israelis at once and spirit them back to Gaza.

In an interview with Channel 2 Monday evening, Minister Naftali Bennett spoke of a mother at Kibbutz Netiv Ha’asara who told him that her children wake her in the middle of the night and tell her that they hear digging beneath their beds.

As Bennett said, this state of affairs simply cannot continue. People cannot live in fear that there are terrorists burrowing beneath their homes, digging tunnels to murder or kidnap them.
Indeed, they can't. And at least from the perspective of this Israeli, even if Obama is determined to hurt us and damage our economy now if we continue to pursue Hamas and its tunnels, that's still less of a price than we would have to pay to deal with the tunnels (and the rockets) later.

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Is the FAA the new IRS?

US Secretary of State John FN Kerry assured Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday that the Federal Aviation Administration decision to ban flights to Israel was strictly a safety issue and there are no ulterior motives.
Kerry, in Cairo to broker a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict, told Netanyahu by telephone that U.S. authorities would review the order within a day, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was quoted as having said.
The notice "was issued to protect American citizens and American carriers," Psaki said in the Egyptian capital.
"The only consideration in issuing the notice was the safety and security of our citizens," she said.
The Federal Aviation Administration "continues to monitor and evaluate the situation, and will issue updated guidelines no later than 24 hours from the time the (notice) went into force," she said, according to AFP.
It bears pointing out that what landed in a backyard in Yahud, five kilometers from the airport, on Tuesday, was not a rocket but a piece of shrapnel from a rocket that was shot down by Iron Dome.

But is this really just a safety question? WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein argues that it may not be. 
Behind the scenes, several Jerusalem diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity questioned whether the FAA flight-ban was in part a tactic to press Israel into a truce with Hamas. A cease-fire would tentatively stop Hamas’ rocketing of the Jewish state.
Kerry is currently in Egypt in an attempt to negotiate a truce.
State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf suggested to reporters Tuesday that Kerry may stay in the Middle East until progress is made toward a cease-fire.
Except that the last three 'cease fires' did not stop Hamas' rockets, and it's Hamas that is unwilling to accept an unconditional cease fire (which Israelis are quite pleased about, but that's a separate story).

The Obama administration has already been caught using one government agency - the IRS - to advance its political agenda. Could it now be using another, namely the FAA?

Meanwhile, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg left on a flight to Israel on Tuesday night to show that it's safe to travel to Israel (Hat Tip: Memeorandum). 
In a statement Bloomberg said, “This evening I will be flying on El Al to Tel Aviv to show solidarity with the Israeli people and to demonstrate that it is safe to fly in and out of Israel. Ben Gurion is the best protected airport in the world and El Al flights have been regularly flying in and out of it safely. The flight restrictions are a mistake that hands Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately. I strongly urge the FAA to reverse course and permit US airlines to fly to Israel.”
Of course, as I noted before, El Al's planes have a means of shooting down missiles shot at them. Other airlines' planes do not. But I agree with Bloomberg. You probably have a better chance of being hit by lightning than of your plane being struck by a Hamas rocket. 

But this should be yet another motivation to destroy Hamas quickly.

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