With the likelihood that both United States Secretary of State John Kerry and entourage as well as United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and his squads of aids and experts will both be descending on Israel, it can also be expected that the numbers of reporters and bureau chiefs will be accompanying one or the other party and simply add to the cacophonous din of small bits of truth lost within voluminous tons of misinformation and broadcast throughout the world, especially in the Western nations of Europe, North America and Australia. Rather than bore you by repeating information you could just as easily learn by switching on the Television or radio news where you will probably hear stories about how one side or the other or both are being intractable and refusing to agree to any ceasefire, I will try to find a few precious pieces of information which you likely have not heard or come across after a short prediction on the coming blitz of the self-important arbiters of the enlightened manners of peaceful coexistence. There will be the commentaries about how Hamas is making some reasonable or ridiculous demands, depending on the network or the host or speaker you hear, and definitely there will be reports that Israel has refused even the smallest of the conditions posed by Hamas in order to reach a ceasefire. There might even be another hilariously insulting monologue from John Stewart which might go something like this, “Well, have you heard the latest from the Middle East? Israel is refusing to allow the Gazans to open their international airport in order to have a ceasefire. The airport? What next, not allowing them to swim in the Mediterranean? Oh, wait, Israel insists on continuing their naval blockade only allowing Gazans to swim and fish in the most shallow waters. This is preventing peace? Next they will be blowing up tunnels, oh, wait, they already have. So, let’s see if I have this correct, no airplane trips to take vacations, no swimming in the deeper waters and no tunnels, I’m surprised Israel doesn’t outlaw cars in Gaza.” John would do better as he has a dozen very funny writers and I don’t do comedy that well which is why I cover news as it is often amusingly ridiculous enough without my assistance.
Now for some news that either will be sparsely covered or simply concealed as it would be too revealing of some realities that apparently are too close to the truth which many prefer remain unspoken. The battle which has been being fought since early Saturday has revolved around the Gaza neighborhood of Shejaiya, east of Gaza City, and has been an extremely difficult going for the IDF. Shejaiya is the neighborhood where Hamas locates a large number of their rocket and weapons manufacturing facilities. It also is riddled with underground storage locations which are interconnected by tunnels which lace throughout the area with numerous entrances. This has made clearing the area difficult and probably somewhat reminiscent to military historians of the battle for Stalingrad during World War II and the difficulty of taking the central areas of town and the building referred to as the tractor works. In Stalingrad the sewer tunnels provided the defending troops easy access to supplies and the ability to appear as if out of thin air and ambush the enemy at close quarters. This is the same scenario which caught some members of the Golani Brigade in an ambush by Hamas which resulted in thirteen Israeli fatalities in that one encounter alone. The battle in the streets with door to door encounters within Shejaiya has apparently been so extremely costly for Hamas such that they requested a humanitarian ceasefire in order to remove the dead and wounded. Israel initially denied the request favoring their efforts to continue to push their advantage. Israel relented soon thereafter and not only agreed to a temporary ceasefire for three hours but also granted a two hour extension despite the fact that Hamas had continued launching rockets into Israel throughout the length and breadth of the ceasefire right out of the Shejaiya neighborhood. It is suspected that Hamas utilized the ceasefire to set up the positions with which they launched their ambush of the IDF troops of the Golani Brigade which included seriously wounding Golani Brigade Commander Colonel Raslan Alian. Hamas is using absolutely any advantage they can force or find in order to gain sufficient advantage and make Israel desire ending the carnage and cut their losses making Israel willing to make whatever concessions Hamas demands, or at least sufficient concessions such that Hamas can claim their victory and use such claims to gain an overwhelming victory in any Palestinian elections and thus gain control over Judea and Samaria in addition to Gaza and replace totally Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah making Hamas the sole Palestinian leadership. This would allow Hamas to finally attain their wildest dream of easy range and the advantage of the Judean Hills overlooking central Israel with the majority of Israeli industries, population, infrastructure and her international airport outside Tel Aviv.
There are some events revolving around the Erez Crossing in northern Gaza. The IDF is setting up a fully functioning field hospital which even has a delivery room. This field hospital is not for IDF soldiers or even for Israelis, it is for the Palestinians of Gaza, even if they are injured members of Hamas. Of course any Hamas member receiving treatment would not be returned to the fighting, Israelis are compassionate, not insane, though some might debate that with me. The field hospital will likely resemble the field hospital the Israelis constructed in Haiti after the devastating earthquake virtually destroyed that island nation. IDF medical soldiers were reported to have saved the life of a Hamas terrorist fighter. Soldier Daniel Albo was quoted in the Yediot Aharonot new service stating, “My team and I saved the life of a terrorist who tried to kill us because we are IDF soldiers and citizens of Israel. We saved him because we are human. I’m proud to serve in the IDF.” The building of this field hospital is just another facet of the IDF and Israeli government efforts to minimize the numbers and severity of civilian casualties which will treat those who either by choice or having been forced by Hamas terrorists to remain within the areas being contested in this conflict to serve as human shields, some with the hope of becoming martyrs. All the Israeli efforts to warn the civilians of Gaza, even when doing so also alerts Hamas terrorists to Israeli plans, of either imminent bombings, artillery fire or other military operations which would pose a threat to their safety have often proven to be ineffective due to Hamas instructing the Gazan citizenry that the Israeli warnings should not be heeded and they should remain in harm’s way in service of Hamas and to become martyrs. It was some such activities which resulted in the deaths of several relatives of Hamas commander Khalil al-Haya which was also claimed to be part of the reason Hamas requested Israel agree to a humanitarian ceasefire and allow their bodies and others to be properly tended and removed from the area of continuing combat.
Now for the one oddity which you are unlikely to hear about in your morning newscasts. You see, not all of the relatives of the Hamas leadership are in danger inside Gaza and are in somewhat less danger but in danger just the same and that danger for them is Hamas. While former Hamas and Gazan Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh may have stepped down from his position to permit the formation of the new Palestinian unity government and taken refuge safely far from the fray in Qatar, some members of his family remain endangered in the current fighting. These relatives are his three sisters, Kholidia, Laila and Sabah. All three married Bedouins and moved into Israel where they became citizens some thirty years ago. Bedouins used to take brides from amongst the Gazan Arab communities due to the lack of available women in their tribes, the Tel Sheva Bedouins. Salameh Abu Rukayek, the Bedouin who married Kholidia recently told an interviewer, “Our life is normal here and we want it to continue.” The three sisters live currently somewhere within the Negev Desert in an undisclosed location for their privacy as well as safety. The three sisters are far from the only members of the Haniyeh family which have received assistance from Israel. Both his mother in-law and granddaughter have received medical treatments over the past year all at the same time as their dear relative, Ismail Haniyeh, was swearing to have pledged to Israel’s complete and utter destruction.” Add to this that during the entirety of the three weeks when the rocket fire into Israel by Hamas was escalating and the two weeks of actual open conflict that Israel has continued to supply Gazans with truckloads measured in tons per day of food, medical supplies and other necessities. Israel has also continued to provide Gazans with much of their fresh water supply and close to two-thirds of Gazan electricity until one of the Hamas rockets damaged one of the high voltage lines transferring electrical power into Gaza. So far no technician has volunteered to attempt to repair the broken high voltage line supplying Gaza as the repairs would necessitate working within easy sniper range from Hamas snipers in Gaza. There has been a history of sniper fire being loosed on repair technicians working on electrical equipment which provides power to Gaza including an Arab employee who was murdered while attempting to repair similar damage during a period of relative tranquility. Relative tranquility does not mean complete absence of violence but rather under a couple dozen rockets per month and the taking of every opportunity to shoot at or murder by other means anyone within range from within Gaza. That included the firing of a guided antitank rocket fired into a school bus which resulted in the death of the last remaining young teen as the rest of the children had disembarked seconds and several yards at the previous stop preventing a larger tragedy.
With Secretary Kerry and Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon et al arriving in the near future within Israel we can expect them to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to cease all further IDF actions inside Gaza whether Hamas agrees to end the violence or not. One for the arguments will echo the protesters from around the globe who point to the facts that the Israeli casualty rates are far lower than that of the Gazans. The fact that without the building of hundreds of shelters and the Iron Dome extremely effective protective shell there would have been tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Israeli fatalities and near countless casualties of all varieties and severity. There have been over one-hundred rockets intercepted by the Iron Dome, which because the system only launches to intercept those projectiles which by computations are guaranteed to strike within built-up areas. With the majority of those intercepted having been aimed at Haifa, Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheba, Jerusalem and the densely populated central areas of Israel the carnage would have been unimaginable. Imagine rockets pummeling central Tel Aviv or Jerusalem and exploding destroying the type of buildings found in most major cities. The people within these buildings would not have had sufficient time to escape the building and there could easily have been numerous large building collapses daily in the cities around much of Israel. The miracle of the Iron Dome is all which stood between the rain of Hamas rockets and the destruction of Israeli society from the threats of the steel rain falling over Israel exploding away lives as well as buildings and infrastructure. Those who continue to claim that Israel is using excessive force and military power may have another reality they are expressing in a coded manner, the desire to see more dead Israelis, more dead Jews. These are the people who were witnessed through media rampaging across Paris and who assaulted two synagogues and attempted to injure or kill the Jews inside those synagogues. The rioters in Paris are not alone in their desires as there have been numerous such riots and massive demonstrations across the Western world as well as the Arab and Muslim worlds all calling for the destruction of Israel for the benefit of mankind, an old canard which still refuses to quiet. A hunger which is warned about in the Passover service where it warns stating, “In each generation, there are those that rise up against us to destroy us.”