Beyond the Cusp

September 22, 2014

Negotiations Palestinian Style

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According to all expectations, negotiations between Israel and the terrorist entities out of Gaza led by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but reputed to also have elements from al-Qaeda, PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), PLFP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), Fatah, ISIS and others; are scheduled to resume later this week. These negotiations have been delayed so as to have them coincide with the Jewish High Holidays starting the day before Rosh HaShana which starts that evening. They are also scheduled to begin within two days of the termination of the month-long cessation of hostilities which some Hamas spokespeople have promised that rockets will resume raining down on Israeli cities, towns, homes, shopping malls, houses of worship, actually virtually anywhere as these rockets are launched with the expressed accuracy of a blindfolded darts shooter. All hopes within Israel are that those threats were simply more of the bluster often emanating from Palestinian spokespersons. Perhaps one way of laying out the difficulties these negotiations will present is to simply reference some of the bandying of demands and rejections which have been reported in various media sources.

Israel has repeatedly stressed their demand for the demilitarization of Gaza and the Hamas and others have simply stated that such is not even a subject to be breached at the negotiations as their weapons are necessary to their ability and actions to resist and destroy the occupation and the occupiers. Hamas spokesman and political leader Khaled Mashaal gave the media the following. “The subject of the resistance’s weapons isn’t open for negotiations. Those weapons are for fighting the occupying enemy. They are not for internal affairs.” Furthermore, there is the demand reported in the Arabic daily Al-Hayat that Doha warned it would deport Mashaal if he approved the agreement for the ceasefire framework as put forth by Egypt without insisting that Hamas’s demands construction of a seaport and airport in the Gaza Strip be incorporated as part of the agreement. Additionally, Osama Hamdan said Saturday that Israel must either accept its demands including lifting of the security blockade on Gaza and allow the construction of an airport and seaport or face “a war of attrition.” But these are the official demands and maximalist positions put forth by both sides, Israel demanding the demilitarization of Gaza to prevent the continued aggressions as constantly threatened as seen above, and on the other side, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the others insisting the end to the United Nations validated embargo which is designed to prevent, or at least minimize, the import of heavy weapon systems, more terrorist fighters and provisions for the construction of infiltration tunnels and other military bulwarks, and permit, if not assist, the construction both of an international airport and a fully equipped seaport allowing for unfettered importation of any and all goods as desired by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the other terror entities.

All of this aside, what are the attitudes of the people, the Palestinian street, towards Israel and the ending of the near constant levels of violence which has become so commonplace that the media does not even bother to cover such violence unless it results in fatalities, often multiple Israeli fatalities or any Palestinian fatalities or even injuries. Perhaps relating a recent series of events might shed some light on this situation. Sixteen year old Mohammed Abu Sankara was participating in one of the regular afternoon rioting in Jerusalem and was reported to have joined with others hurling rocks, some shot from slings and the throwing of Molotov cocktails. The Israeli police responded shooting sponge anti-riot shot aimed for the low at the rioters’ legs. Mohammed Abu Sankara was struck in the leg and while running, retreating, he stumbled and fell striking his head on the road surface. His injuries were of a sufficient severity that the police had him transported to a hospital. Mohammed Abu Sankara was conscious at the point of transport but subsequently fell into a coma and died two days later. What is telling was the response from his mother when approached by the press at his funeral as well as the celebratory mass parade adjoining the passage of his casket to the cemetery.

Below is a report gathered from Palestinian Authority official television by PMW (Palestinian Media Watch) but first a few comments and quotes. The one thing one needs to know is that the Palestinian Authority still grants the families of those imprisoned or who die in terror related activities, which includes those participating in their scheduled rioting and other violence, a generous stipend for life. I am not sure that any entity could give me sufficient cash rewards what would have me celebrate any of my children sacrificing themselves as they are more precious than any monetary rewards. She exclaimed to the cameras, “This is the first time I see joy in my heart. This is the first time I see such joy. Thank Allah for giving him martyrdom.” I pray for the sake of this woman’s soul that her actions were simply a rehearsed part played out for the cameras in order to provide fuel for the cause and that she had to be forced to play the part and it took many, many takes before they got the desired enthusiasm. If this was her actual emotions and pride, I feel for her and am unable to understand the motivation which could bring a mother to celebrate the tragic death of her son. I further noted in the short clip the celebratory mood of those participating in the march presumably from the remembrance ceremony to the cemetery. The exuberance and joy was the same as in numerous similar situations where a martyr was being taken to their resting place. Thusly, I realize that the majority of those participating are not friends or family but rent-a-mob participants which are readily available to the Palestinian Authority as well as to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and on and on and are able to be gathered for the cameras with only mere moments preparation. They know their role and they play their parts to perfection, or close enough for government work, which it actually is, as often these are people on the Palestinian Authority government rolls receiving a salary simply to demonstrate when needed. The unfortunate reality is this mother’s action before the cameras are indicative of other mothers from previous such celebrations for the martyrs when they are ceremoniously given their splendid and well-choreographed funerals.

The question is how can one reach an agreement for a lasting peace with a society which really does treasure death and seek death by martyrdom as their highest aspiration when you treasure life, all life including those who martyr themselves amongst your people in their public places such as the actions by Ahlam Tamimi who planned the suicide bombing on 9 August 2001 at one of Jerusalem’s Sbarro Pizza Parlors. In an interview posted on the Hamas website Ahlam Tamimi was quoted saying, “It was a calculated act, performed with conviction and faith in Allah. Jihad warriors are always ready to die as martyrs, to be arrested or to succeed. I managed to overcome the barrier of prison and was released. Why should I repent?” Speaking about those terrorists who remain in prison after the releases as part of the Gilad Shalit deal of which she was one, Ahlam Tamimi said, “We left with our heads held high. All attempts to keep us in prison, and those who remain, will soon be forsaken.” For peace there needs be some common ground between the two parties on which to construct any peace agreement, after all, it is called an agreement for a reason.

That is where the problem arises seeking a permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The mistake the world makes is believing that the conflict is over territory, that is a lie and will perpetuate endless time wasting negotiations attempting to reach a border which will be honored by both sides. The Palestinian idea for making peace possible is for every last Jew to be eradicated from what they demand is their lands which include all of Israel, or as they state, from the river to the sea Palestine must be free. As recently stated by the Palestinian Authority ambassador to Iran, Salah Al-Zawawi stated, “All those people who have gathered to occupy our land must return to their countries of origin, leaving behind only the Palestinian Jews, with whom we had lived in love, respect, and fraternity. I would like to reiterate my gratitude to the Islamic Republic of Iran for the training, financing, and weapons it has provided us, as well as for its political and diplomatic positions regarding Palestine. Iran has helped us to attain our great victory. I am not saying that Palestine will be liberated tomorrow, but we have made real strides on the path to liberation. A missile with a 200 kilogram warhead will carry a warhead of 100 tons in the future, because weapons change as men change. We just need to cross the scientific threshold to get to our goal.” That makes their position amply clear except there is a small problem with his assertions, the Jews in Israel are finally home in their original country, it is the Jews dispersed around the world who needs to be brought home to Israel. Further, even if his intentions were accurate, would the Arab nations be acceptable reaccepting the descendants of the eight-hundred-fifty-thousand Jews who were dispossessed between 1945 and 1955? I honestly have my doubts. Further, there is a reason that the Jews who live in the many and various locations in the nations of the world other than Israel are referred to as the Diaspora; that is that they have not returned home and are still residing in where their wanderings have led them as a result of their families’ original dispersion to the far corners of the world, or at least the far corners of the Roman Empire, depriving them of the right to live in their homelands, the land that all the Jews originally came out from. So, sure, bring all the Jews to the one and only land which has ever been their home, bring them back to Eretz Yisroel.

Beyond the Cusp

August 13, 2014

So Many Ceasefires and No Peace

The conflict initiated by Hamas when after their abduction of three teenage boys and their murders was followed by an ever increasing numbers of rockets launched from within Gaza onto numerous Israeli civilian areas from Sderot just across the Gaza border all the way to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Netanya, Haifa and beyond forcing an Israeli military response is currently in yet another tentative ceasefire. It has almost seemed as if there is a new ceasefire announced every few days and often even multiple times per day when the conflict is hot. This is even more evidenced on those all too frequent times when only the Israelis are attempting to observe an announced ceasefire and some combinations of the terrorist groups populating Gaza have refused to accept that ceasefire. Things can get confusing when there are several, possibly as many as a dozen, separate terrorist entities each with their own hierarchy with some having factions which may act independent from the rest of the main body. There have been a couple of times where Hamas has initially claimed they are honoring the ceasefire but cannot be held responsible for the actions of the other groups they claim are beyond their control. Each case eventually proved out that Hamas had also not been holding to the ceasefire but had simply attempted to muddy the waters in an effort to prevent Israel from any retaliatory strikes, a ploy that soon became mute as Israel carried through on their threat to hold Hamas as the governing power in Gaza responsible for any rockets or other transgressions of any ceasefire. Even so there were those brief pauses by Israel even when a ceasefire resulted initially to be held to unilaterally by Israel in the hope that those initial transgressions would be curtailed and a lull would actually take hold. This was often a hope which fell into the dustbin of false hopes as the rockets raining down only increased going forward. The world has demanded that Israel answer for why these ceasefires have not progressed, as the world believes they should, to a permanent agreement to restore the peace, or at least a level of violence the world can comfortably ignore as Israel was not forced to respond as it is only the Israeli actions of self-defense which animates the self-appointed paragons of moral relative truths to rise up and express their indignations.

That answer was provided early yesterday in a press release from the military leadership of Hamas known as the Al-Qassam Brigades stating about the Egyptian negotiations that, “The warriors in Gaza are waiting with Allah’s help to renew the fighting, or to return to planning the next campaign. There’s no escape. Either jihad or planning.” The Hamas leadership in Gaza has expressed their disappointment with the Egyptians, being the neutral party, being the intermediary entity in the negotiations. This was reinforced by Palestinian Authority spokesperson Mustafa Sawaf, considered to be one of the closest leaders aligned with Hamas, who instructed the negotiation team in Cairo, which is comprised of Hamas and Palestinian Authority members, to go home immediately refusing to continue in negotiations mediated by Egypt. Mr. Sawaf defined the Egyptian efforts to be, “the basic delaying source preventing an agreement.” He even went so far as to threaten Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Araby not to make a solidarity visit to Gaza intimating, “El-Araby will not be received warmly, and Gaza residents will hit him and his delegation.” Sawaf went so far as to claim that Arab residents of Gaza now view the Arab League as being a, “partners to the slaughter,” an accusation purporting that they support the Israeli counter-terror Operation Protective Edge.

Should the Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Palestinian Authority negotiators heed the pronouncements from Mustafa Sawaf we can expect this conflict not to wane until Hamas and the other terrorist groups have run out of rockets to launch into Israel and not one moment before. This is what much of the coverage of this conflict have reported completely backwards laying the blame on Israel for refusing to compromise and meet Hamas’s demands at least part way. This demand is asking for Israel to meet Hamas part way in granting what would be suicidal concessions by Israel. It matters little whether Israel ends their naval blockade allowing for inspection of all goods into Gaza for weapons or if they permit Hamas to reopen the international airport in Gaza permitting flights to fly into and out of Gaza freely without any restrictions on the goods they transport and a way to enforce such restrictions. Either way, Hamas and the other terrorist groups would gain access to whatever weapons systems they could afford or their allies wished to provide them. How long after Hamas gains an unimpeded and inspection free avenue to import goods before they receive all the modern weaponry their heart desire? The delay would depend almost exclusively on how long it would take for either aircraft or ships to be loaded and arrive in Gaza and not a second longer. Imagine Hamas armed with AT-4 Spigot or AT-5 Spandrel Anti-Tank Light Infantry Missiles, MANPADS Man Portable Air Defense Systems,  MI-28 Havoc Russian attack helicopter or the KA-52 Alligator Attack Helicopter or possibly the Chinese WZ-10 Attack Helicopter & WZ-19, and possibly with time fighter aircraft such as Russian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25, Mikoyan MiG-29, Sukhoi Su-30 or even the T-50 Sukhoi PAK FA as well as possibly the Chinese J-10 Chengdu or even the Chengdu J-20 and not only attacking Israel in the most costly war Israel would ever have to fight, but also sharing their newfound armaments with the Muslim Brotherhood in their assaults to retake control of Egypt and then beyond. Allowing Hamas to gain unrestricted importation of whatever their devious black hearts’ desire and what would follow would make ISIS sweeping and slaughtering their way across Iraq seem absolutely tame and inconsequential. What granting Hamas such access to weaponry would produce would be an alliance between Hamas and every other Sunni Islamist extremist terrorist groups including ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and any others at the price of their funding the arming of what would really make for the new Caliphate. Sometimes the leadership of the world appears to be totally populated by morons who have absolutely no ability to foresee the results of their actions. Fortunately, in Israel the people will rise up and meet any need to instruct our leaders when they decide the time to try national suicide have arrived because their past mistakes failed to produce that result. Still, they often do not listen, thus the Gaza disengagement. Still, there are those throughout the world pressing Israel to meet Hamas half way and only commit suicide half way. Not sure if suicide can be performed merely half way without completing the act becoming self-fulfilling, so perhaps that would be a bad concession to make.

Beyond the Cusp

July 17, 2014

Hamas Rockets and Israeli Munitions

Hamas has a range of rocket varieties each with their own challenges, ease of intra-Gaza construction, imported through smuggling tunnels, ranges, warhead sizes and other varied characteristics. The best known are the Katyusha Rockets which is part of a Multiple-Rocket Launch System (MRLS) which can be set up to launch as many rockets in a short period of time as tubes can be assembled and wired to the main controller on the carrying vehicle, trailer or fixed mounted launcher. The Katyusha Rocket itself comes in three various calibers or diameter of rocket and warhead body which are 82mm, 132mm, and 300mm. The 82mm variant comes with a large choice of number of tubes or rails holding individual rockets with the larger systems requiring stronger mounting vehicles or might lend themselves to a fixed positioning even subterranean and the larger the launcher the longer it takes between salvos to reload and prepare for the next volley. The ranges of launch capabilities consist of the highly mobile and mountable on virtually any vehicle consist of 6, 8, and 12 launchers. Requiring slightly larger vehicle or trailer platform is the 20 and 36 tube models and the largest requiring a military grade vehicle consist of 40 and 48 launchers and the heaviest of the Katyusha Rockets Launch Systems is capable of holding 72 rockets. The vast majority of the Hamas systems are of the smaller end systems with the vast majority of their launchers being of the smallest variants while there have been some of the 20 through 40 or 48 rocket systems. The existence of the supersized 72 rocket launchers has thus far been unsubstantiated. The 132mm variant comes in 13 and 16 rocket abilities and the 300mm has variants of 4, 8, and 12.

 

The warheads carried by and range of these rockets are obviously dependent on the caliber of the rockets the system utilized. The 82mm has one variant named the M-8 which has a range of 5,900m (6,500 yds.) and a warhead size of 0.64kg (1.4 lbs.). The 132mm variant comes in a variety of models as follows; the M-13 with a range of 8,740 m (9,560 yds.) and a warhead size of 4.9 kg (11 lbs.); the M-13DD with a range of 11,800 m (12,900 yds.) and a warhead size of 4.9 kg (11 lbs.); the M-20 with a range of 7,900 m (8,600 yds.) and a warhead size of 18.4 kg (41 lbs.). Finally, the 300mm variant has two variants potentially utilized by Hamas which are the M-30 with a range of 2,800 m (3,100 yds.) and a warhead size of 28.9 kg (64 lbs.); and the M-31 with a range of 4,325 m (4,730 yds.) and a warhead size of 28.9 kg (64 lbs.).

 

The next most utilized rockets are the Qassam Rockets which are imported but are primarily produced within Gaza. The Qassam Rockets can be made from a large variation of materials such that they are difficult to classify into fixed dimensions, range and warhead sizes. They are generally broken down into three types, type 1, 2, and 3. They have ranges and warhead weight as the Type 1 has a range of up to 5km with a warhead of 5kg, the Type 2 has a range of up to 12km with a warhead of 10kg, and Type 3 has a range of up to 16km with a warhead of 20kg. These are single launch rockets which have the advantage of being able to be set up from scratch and fired within five minutes making them highly mobile and easily used with minimal exposure to Israeli countermeasures.

 

The Grad Rockets are another MLRS which are made in numerous nations with each having slightly different specifications. The largest numbers of Grad Rockets are believed to have been smuggled in through the tunnels originating in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. It is believed that Hamas and the other terrorist groups utilize the Chinese Grad variant as well as the Iranian, North Korean and even Egyptian variants. All of these are based on the original BM-21 launch vehicle launchers. These systems presumably require a crew of three to operate them and they have 40 launch tubes capable of launching two rockets per second having a radius of 122 mm which have a range of originally 20 km with the newer rockets capable of a range of 30–45 km and a warhead of 18 lbs. to 24.5 lbs. The recent extensive destruction of these tunnels by the new military government in Egypt has probably made resupply of these rockets more difficult and may be part of the reason Hamas finds it necessary to attack at this time. Many experts have claimed that the primary reason that Hamas agreed to form the unity government, and even agreed to minimal representation from their elite leadership, was they had become desperate lacking funds and resupply having become difficult due to the Egyptian destruction of their smuggling tunnels, closing the border between the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza as well as blockading the narrow Mediterranean Sea approaches to the southernmost Gaza beaches, which are the sole approach with any means of avoiding the Israel. The Egyptians prevented any approach from the northern shores of the Sinai Peninsula and slipping under the Israel monitoring Naval ships by utilizing Egyptian territorial waters and just minimally entering the Israeli enforced areas.

 

Hamas was supplied by Iran during the time they were allied, which was before Hamas announced their backing of the rebels against Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad, with the Fajr-5 with a range of range of up to 75km and can carry a 175kg warhead containing 90 kg HE (high explosive) content. Also received along the same timeline were the Khaibar M-302 rockets which were produced by Syria. The Khaibar M-302 is quite likely to be based on Chinese WS-1 having a range of 100km-212.4km (62.1-132m) and a warhead 175 kg (385.8 lbs.). This weapon may be armed with cluster munitions though it is unknown if Hamas has such warheads. This is a MLRS with up to six rockets on a single launch vehicle. There are also reports that Hamas may also have China WeiShi WS-1E 122mm and the WeiShi WS-1B 302mm Rockets. The WS-1E has a range of 20-40km and a warhead weighing 18-22kg. The WS-1B has a range of 60-680km and a warhead weighing 150kg.

 

On the Israeli side the heroic and most touted weapon is a purely defensive system called the Iron Dome anti-missile system and of course it can also be utilized against unguided rockets. This is an interceptor which targets short range rockets, missiles and 155 mm artillery rounds having a range of up to 70 km. The Iron Dome has surpassed everybody’s expectations except perhaps the designing engineers and R7D technicians who assisted in the development, testing and bringing this miraculous system into production. Each Iron Dome system carries twenty interceptors which are independently deployed and operated remotely via a secure wireless connection. Each battery is capable of protecting an urban, rural, suburban, industrial or combination of areas totaling approximately 150 sq. km. The system uses an EL/M-2084 active electronically scanned array and each interceptor is armed with a proximity fuse. The Iron Dome fires the Tamir interceptor missile which is equipped with electro-optic sensors and several servo-controlled steering fins for high maneuverability and adaptability providing the system with its remarkable success interception rate of approaching, or even surpassing, 90%. There is one potentially serious drawback with the Iron Dome system and that is the $20,000 price per interceptor missile as they are targeting rockets which cost between $75 and $2,500 per rocket. The price disparity makes the Israeli defense cost something that some other nations might debate the effectiveness versus costs of fielding such a system, yet Israel cannot build systems fast enough to have them fielded across the entirety of the country and not need to constantly cycle their positions to cover varying threats. The saving grace of the Iron Dome system is it is capable of tracking potential target projectiles and determine in real-time where the projectile will strike and determine whether or not that location is populated or an open space and thus only fire interceptors at those rounds which pose a serious threat to the Israeli people and military units.

 

On the offensive side, Israel uses similar munitions as most other Western nations. The Merkava main battle tank fires a 120 mm round through a smoothbore cannon with laser and optical computerized aiming system. The majority of the Israeli defensive reply which is laboring to force Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the other terrorist groups from their barrages of rockets and mortars fired predominantly at Israeli residential and metropolitan areas within Israel from within or adjacent to schools, hospitals, and residential neighborhoods has been using the F-15 fighter aircraft using precision munitions, both GPS, video or laser guided bombs and missiles. These munitions are of varied sizes but the size of the munitions can be misleading as Israel has a tactic which is pretty much unfound in as a tactic in any other military. Israel will reconstruct a bomb or missile so as to limit the amount of explosives in the munition to fit the target without doing as much collateral damage to other structures and any individuals in the area. These are oft referred to a sub munitions which is a little misleading because the size of the munition remains the same from one target to the next, just the amount of explosives within the bomb or missile changes. Many of these munitions are produced in the varying explosive capability when they are produced while round imported are often disassembled and reassembled with the necessary amount of explosives to minimize collateral damages. Israel also will drop leaflets and even call the cell phones of the residents in areas around any targeted structure informing them of the impending attack giving them anywhere from five to ten minutes to as much as twenty-four hours of notice. The problem with this effort is a Hamas spokesperson actually called on the citizens of Gaza to remain in their homes despite their receiving warnings of imminent attack and even for people to rush towards houses which have been identified as targeted. This announcement was made simply because Hamas knows and is relying on the fact that Israel will call off strikes if it appears that innocents are in danger of harm. This is why Hamas instructs these human shields to gather on the roofs of the targeted buildings so that they will be clearly visible by the pilots of the fighters tasked with the mission. The one relatively unreported fact is that not all rounds landing in Gaza originate from Israelis. There have been over one hundred rockets and mortars which have landed within Gaza with some falling on residences and populated areas of Gaza. The one thing many, if not the vast majority, of Israelis simply desires the violence to end, preferably once and for all. The troubling truth is that this is the third war that Hamas has initiated since they took control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. These attacks have resulted in Israeli responses of Operation Cast Lead in 2008, Operation Pillar of Smoke in 2012, and Operation Defensive Edge of 2014. May this be the final time that such a conflict will be thrust upon Israel from across any of her borders. The saddest thing is the futility of that wish when one stops and considers that on every side and across every inch of Israeli borders, even within her borders and even within her government to within the Knesset are significant numbers of people who wish to destroy Israel as being the safe nation for the Jewish People. Even some of the Jews living in Israel desire that Israel become a multicultural nation where the Jews no longer make up the majority and they cannot see any problems which may arise from such a consequence. This view has also infected a sizeable number of Jews living in the United States. This is just one more frightening and saddening reality infecting the world.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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