Armed men roam the streets, enlisting people to the Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, Fatah officials call for the end to security coordination with Israel and Mahmoud Abbas is seen as the enemy of the people. Is the explosion closer than we think? By Gershon Baskin I have just returned from a work visit to Ramallah. I am very concerned and disturbed by what I heard from friends and colleagues there. The calm appearance of the city hides the sizzling bubbling under the surface. The West Bank is on the verge of explosion. As an illustration of what I've heard from people…Read More... | 15 Comments
With a ceasefire now in effect between Israel and Hamas, diplomacy can begin to take root. By Lolita Brayman A 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas seems to be shakily holding, with a lull in rocket attacks and the deployment of the Israeli military to positions outside of Gaza. The IDF spokesperson officially announced on Tuesday that Operation Protective Edge’s goal – to destroy all known terrorist tunnels leading into Israel – was complete. What was looking like a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza a few days ago, a surprising move that forced Hamas to change its strategy and…Read More... | 10 Comments
Hamas could be moderated by entering the mainstream, internationally acceptable Palestinian government. Or it could follow the Hezbollah model and slowly reverse Abbas's legacy. The Hamas-Fatah reconciliation is either the end of days, or the dawn over new horizons. The deal is so confusing because it might mean one thing – or else the opposite. Here are some of the polarized possible outcomes: 1. Fatah will become one with terrorists, OR terrorists were just co-opted by a more moderate political leadership. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Liberman look at this as Hamas spreading its terrorist stain over Palestinian politics.…Read More... | 18 Comments
A self-fulfilling prophecy is playing out in the north. After nearly eight years of quiet, Israel’s northern border got stormy over the past week. The culmination of the tit-for-tat violence was a bomb placed on the border with Syria that wounded four Israeli soldiers, one seriously, which was followed by an Israeli air strike on a Syrian military base that killed a soldier and wounded others. Amos Harel, Haaretz’s military affairs correspondent, wrote the following: There has been no such series of events in the north since the Second Lebanon War in 2006. The pace is starting to resemble the…Read More... | 69 Comments
When you believe your enemies hate you more than they love their children, as Golda Meir put it, there's no real deterrence against them; you have to keep bombing. Most people in the West, I’d say, think that if Israel gives up the occupation, it will be healed. It will no longer be a danger to others and itself. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and additional proof of this came Monday night when Israeli jet bombers again struck Hezbollah in Lebanon. The attack was another reminder that even if Israel were to get out of the West Bank and adopt…Read More... | 56 Comments
A policy decision on American military action in Syria cannot be justified by an analogy between Syrian suffering under Assad and Jewish suffering during the Holocaust. Two weeks after a chemical attack in Syria killed at least 1,400, including 400 children, and one week after U.S. President Obama announced he favors a limited military strike on Syria, mainstream American Jewish groups broke their silence Tuesday and expressed what they conveyed as unequivocal support for a strike. As reported in Politico, AIPAC - the powerful Israel lobby known for being forthright on all issues related to American policy in the Middle East…Read More... | 26 Comments
It's a mission impossible. Because of the severe (and understandable) limitations it’s placing on a possible military intervention in Syria, the Obama administration would do better to pass on the idea. The U.S. shouldn’t try to play the humanitarian in a civil war like that one under such self-imposed restrictions; it’s much more likely to end up doing harm than good. Since last Wednesday’s chemical weapons attack that killed at least many hundreds of Syrian civilians, and which the U.S., Britain, France, Israel and others are convinced was carried out by Assad’s forces, Obama has been gearing up for some…Read More... | 14 Comments
Israel is now bombing the strategic interests not only of its preferred targets – Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Iran or other vastly inferior military powers – but of Russia. When I think of Israel’s continual acts of military "preemption," I think of a cocky kid who believes he can run across the freeway, so he tries, and he makes it, which makes him even cockier, so he tries again, and he makes it again, and by now he thinks he’s invincible, he’s invulnerable, so he’s running across the freeway whenever he feels like it. He’s become the hero of his…Read More... | 19 Comments
How long can Israel's luck hold out? How many more times can it attack Syria without Assad or Hezbollah hitting back? People in this country have been worried that the fighting in Syria is going to "spill over the border," and now Israel, unprovoked, unattacked, has gone and bombed Syria twice in the last 72 hours. Is anyone in this vibrant democracy protesting? I haven't heard it. That's because the missiles from Syria and/or Hezbollah haven't started falling here. So far so good, people figure. As long as we get away with it, hooray. If, however, our neighbors to…Read More... | 38 Comments
Sending armies or air forces to stop jihadists from grabbing Syria's chemical weapons would be inordinately daunting and dangerous - and inconclusive. I, too, would like to neutralize the threat of the jihadists in Syria, and Hezbollah, and the possibility that they will take control of Assad's chemical weapons (and worse, much worse, his possible biological weapons). But how is that going to be accomplished? Here, according to Haaretz's Amos Harel, is what the Americans think it will take. In briefings recently for American media representatives, administration officials have said that removing the chemical weapons threat in Syria would…Read More... | 10 Comments
Under pressure over the issues of Iran and Israel at his Senate confirmation hearing, Obama's nominee for defense secretary caves in completely. Thursday's Senate confirmation hearing of Chuck Hagel was something out of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," or the 1950s House Un-American Activities Committee sessions. "Senator Hagel, are you now or have you ever been a realist?" "Your soul is in peril, Senator - recant!" And Hagel recanted, over and over again. Under pressure on Iran and Israel (among other taboo subjects), he apologized to his inquisitors for referring to the "Jewish lobby" ("I should have said 'pro-Israel lobby'"), apologized…Read More... | 36 Comments
What will the third Netanyahu government look like, and how will it deal with the Palestinian issue?
Netanyahu would like to include some centrist elements in his government in order to present a more moderate face to the world. However, any meaningful effort to end the occupation is not very likely. The Israeli post-election routine is under way, and tomorrow (Saturday) night, President Shimon Peres will officially ask Benjamin Netanyahu to try and form a new government. Netanyahu will have 28 days for his coalitions talks (which are already underway), and he may ask for an extension of 14 days. While I do not have high hopes from the new government regarding the Palestinian issue, it is enough…Read More... | 9 Comments
Yesterday morning's air strike in Syria was apparently the latest instance of Israeli aggression posing as self-defense. No Israeli public figure I'm aware of has spoken out against yesterday morning's attack on an arms convoy transferring weapons (reportedly not chemical ones) from Syria to Hezbollah, which, according to foreign news agencies, was carried out by the Israel Air Force. Everybody here is scared - look what's happening in Syria, there's chemical weapons up there, the country's breaking up. "The entire area is raging and we must be prepared and strong and determined in the face of any possible development," Netanyahu…Read More... | 74 Comments
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Assault on Gaza
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IDF investigators haven’t even contacted the Gazan teen allegedly used as human shield http://t.co/ZgeeYKjiUd
We follow up on the case of a Gazan teen who says IDF used him as a human shield http://t.co/ZgeeYKjiUd by @samwithaner
In Gaza, justice delayed is justice denied http://t.co/ZgeeYKjiUd by @samwithaner
A most determined occupation and its cursed victory http://t.co/uqlEtyqA5M by @RoiMaor
There's nothing static about the 'status quo’ in the West Bank http://t.co/zu4xHbZW6N by @nsheizaf