Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Qatar’s Rise and America’s Tortured Middle East Policy How did it happen that Washington has such close relations with a country actively and massively sponsoring terror, even after 9/11?
One of the most notable aspects of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is the prominent role being played by the Emirate of Qatar in supporting the terrorist organization, whose genocidal charter calls for the murder of Jews and destruction of Israel.
Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, the leader of the Emirate of Qatar, is acting as Hamas’ “channel of communication” to the international community. Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal is now in the Qatari capital of Doha directing his organization’s war effort in Gaza, where the Qatari royals welcomed him with open arms after his welcome in Damascus came to an abrupt end. Qatari funds have been crucial to Hamas’ military build-up in recent years, as they were to the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempted takeover of Egypt under Mohammed Morsi. And the Doha-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera is energetically backing Hamas, as it has other terrorist-connected and supporting movements.
Yet Qatar is not part of the regional bloc of anti-Western states and movements led by the Islamic Republic of Iran. While Qatar has a far warmer relationship with Tehran and Hezbollah than others Arabs states, it also remains America’s landlord, handsomely leasing the U.S. military its largest foreign air base in the world—Al-Udeid. Nor has Qatar consistently pursued a policy of unremitting, unambiguous hostility to Israel. In fact, Doha maintained a trade mission in Israel until the 2008 Operation Cast Lead, also aimed at stopping Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.
At least for now, Qatar’s clear support for a designated terrorist organization does not appear to be hampering its flourishing relations with the West. In recent days, at a time when Hamas was openly engaged in attempts to murder Israeli civilians, it was announced that Qatar had sealed an arms deal with the U.S. worth $11 billion. The deal includes the purchase of Apache attack helicopters, as well as Javelin and Patriot air defense systems. Indeed, last December, the U.S. signed a 10-year Defense Cooperation Agreement with the Emirate.
Ironically, Qatar’s relations with fellow Arab states have been far less cozy, even downright hostile. Qatar’s massive funding of terrorists and support of Islamic radicals seeking to destabilize neighboring Arab governments, has sharpened tensions in the region, highlighting the three way divide in today’s Middle East – moderate and Western-oriented Sunni Arab states, like the Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Saudi, Bahrain, Kuwait and others; the Sunni extremists terrorist supporting states, Qatar and Turkey, who fund and promote forces like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas; and the dangerous and radical axis of Iran, Assad, and Hezbollah. In recent weeks, the U.S. appeared to momentarily favor the Qataris—alongside the Hamas supporting government of Turkey —over Egypt in the diplomatic effort to end the Gaza conflict. On , Secretary of State John Kerry met with the foreign ministers of Turkey and Qatar in Paris as part of his attempt to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Egypt and Israel were furious—and so was the Palestinian Authority. PA officials blasted the U.S. for “appeasing” Qatar, and referred to the Paris meeting as a gathering of “friends of Hamas.”
This move, fronted by John Kerry, was especially ironic, given his personal record on the fundamental contradiction posed by Qatar and its support for terrorism. It was Kerry himself, speaking at the Brookings Institution in March 2009, shortly after the last defensive war Israel waged against Hamas, who warned that “Qatar cannot continue to be an American ally that sends money to Hamas .”
In one of the most telling responses to the disturbing shift on ceasefire terms, an unnamed PA official quoted by the respected Sharq al-Awsatnewspaper said that Kerry was seeking to sabotage the Egyptian peace effort by offering his own plan “in order to restore the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region.”
The official explained the U.S. stance by suggesting that the Americans “wrongly believe that moderate political Islam, represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, would be able to combat radical Islam.” He further contended that PA President Mahmoud Abbas was furious with the attempt to hold “Palestinian blood” hostage to “regional rivalries.”
More substantively, the ceasefire proposal formulated by the U.S. and rejected by Israel on was seen by many observers, in Israel and beyond, as leaning toward the Qatari-Turkish ceasefire plan, and away from that proposed by Egypt, which Israel had already accepted.
The proposal did not refer to the need to dismantle the tunnel system built by Hamas or ensure the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip—both key war aims for Israel. Yet Kerry’s proposal did support a number of Hamas’ key demands, including the opening of border crossings and the need to pay the salaries of civil servants in Gaza.
So what is going on? Why has Qatar emerged as the key backer of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas and its control of Gaza? What are the implications for Israel and the West of this stance? Why has the U.S. tolerated Qatar’s increasingly shift away from longstanding American interests and allies in favor of adversaries like Hamas and Tehran? And why is Qatar’s pro-Hamas position so far having no effect on its relations with the U.S. and the West in general, who regard Hamas as an unrepentant terrorist organization?
Qatar’s support for Hamas is part of a broader regional policy of building a strategic partnership with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, of which Hamas is an offshoot. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the movement’s most famous and influential preacher, is a resident of the Qatari capital. His sermons, broadcast on Al-Jazeera from Qatar, replete with anti-Semitic hatred and loathing for Israel, are listened to by millions. Qatar supported the Muslim Brotherhood in its push for power in Egypt, and was a major financier of the Morsi government during its chaotic and disastrous year in power. Many Egyptian Brotherhood leaders have now found refuge in Qatar. The Emirate has also promoted militias supportive of Muslim Brotherhood-type ideology in the Syrian civil war, such as the Tawhid Brigade in Aleppo, and alongside Turkey, supported groups even more radical.
From 2011 to 2013, it looked like the alliance between Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood was about to emerge as a major Middle Eastern power bloc. In early 2013, the movement held power in Egypt and Tunisia. The Syrian rebels looked set for victory, having taken control of much of Aleppo and broken into the eastern suburbs of Damascus. Qatar’s enormous wealth, deriving from its extensive natural gas reserves, was financing all of this. And its influential Al-Jazeera channel was celebrating it.
In this period, Hamas drew closer to Qatar. Hamas found itself facing a dilemma when the Arab revolutions of 2011-12 took place, particularly as the attempted Syrian revolution became a bloody civil war. Since the early 1990s, Hamas, which emerged out of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, had been a member of the so-called “resistance axis” led by Iran. This alliance included the Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and a number of other elements.
The growth of a new, Brotherhood-centered regional bloc represented both a dilemma and an opportunity for Hamas. On the one hand, the movement was thrilled by the bloc’s emergence, and particularly by the Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt. For Hamas, this represented a potential game-changer. It now expected to have an overtly sympathetic regime to the immediate south of Gaza.
Why is Qatar’s pro-Hamas position having no effect on its flourishing relations with the U.S. and the West in general, who regard Hamas as an unreconstructed terrorist organization?
But the importance of the Brotherhood’s rise in Egypt was not merely geographical. With its ideological confreres in power in the most populous and traditionally most influential Arab country, Hamas could begin to seriously contemplate a future in which it would entirely eclipse its Fatah rivals and emerge as the dominant party among the Palestinians.
Due to its Iranian leadership, the “resistance bloc” had always been vulnerable to the charge that it represented a “foreign” non-Arab and non-Sunni interest. No such charge could be leveled against Qatar or a Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt. Hamas was a natural fit for this emerging Sunni extremist Islamist bloc. But moving toward this bloc also meant that the movement would in effect be distancing itself from its mainly Shia allies in the “resistance” bloc. Because the two blocs were effectively at war in Syria, it seemingly eased the decision.
Hamas made its choice. Over the course of 2012, following Hamas’ condemnation of Assad’s shelling of Palestinians in Syria which precipitated a schism with Assad and strained their ties with his backers in Tehran, the movement’s leadership cadres departed the Syrian capital of Damascus. Doha and to a lesser extent Cairo became the new home of the Hamas leadership.
Ties with Iran were not entirely severed, however. Teheran remained a crucial source of arms to Hamas’ Gaza enclave. But Qatar and Turkey were set to emerge as Hamas’ main political and financial backers.
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the then-Emir of Qatar, visited Gaza in October 2012, cementing the new alliance. At the same time, Qatar pledged $400 million to Gaza. Because the alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood was undertaken in order to acquire regional diplomatic and strategic influence, and support for the Palestinians remains an important tool to generate legitimacy in the Sunni Arab world, sponsorship of Hamas formed an important part of this larger project.
But in recent months, a problem has emerged for both Hamas and Qatar: Things have not turned out as they had hoped. Their regional ambitions are largely in ruins. And their enemies have proved more resilient than they expected. General Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi’s military takeover of July 3, 2013 abruptly ended the Brotherhood’s rule in Egypt. In Tunisia, the Nahda party peacefully gave up power. The Syrian rebellion has run aground and is now in disarray—pushed back by both the Assad regime and the murderous Islamic State (IS) forces.
Today, the alliance of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other moderates is the strongest force among the Sunni Arab states. Qatar has few regional allies left. Neither does Hamas. Indeed, over the last year, the movement has been trying to regain favor with the Iranians. So the war on Israel, supported by Qatar, was a desperate move by Hamas. Broke and presiding over a failed economy, unable to break through Egypt’s sealed border and restored power, the terrorist group and its allies sought escalation with Israel. It was a way for the Emirate and its Muslim Brotherhood partner to try and achieve a return to relevance and influence, and to end a period in which Qatar’s regional star appeared to be fading. Notably, of Hamas’ initial five demands to end the conflict, only one was of Israel, while four were of Egypt.
Qatar’s aid to Hamas is not military, but it is hugely important nonetheless. It doesn’t supply weapons to Hamas, and as a purchaser of U.S. weapons systems, it is not in a position to do so. Instead, Hamas acquires its weapons from Iran and Syria, or its own domestic production capacities.
Qatar’s support is financial, and very considerable indeed. Hamas has been in financial straits since 2012, when Iranian financial support declined. Then, after the Egyptian military coup of July 2013, the Sisi government in Cairo began to destroy the tunnel system which had served as a lucrative source of income for Hamas members. The movement controlled access to the tunnels and charged Gazans for using them. Hamas itself also used the tunnels to smuggle in weapons and funds.
The tunnels’ destruction thus left the movement increasingly strapped for cash. Qatar attempted to step in by transferring funds to Hamas in order to help pay the salaries of 40,000 civil servants in Gaza. (The transfer was blocked by the U.S., and so far no bank has been willing to risk sanctions to do so. Getting the money has been one of Hamas’ key demands for ending the recent conflict.)
Qatar also championed the cause of Hamas in Arab diplomatic forums. In recent days, for example, the Arab League backed the Egyptian ceasefire plan, which effectively called for a restoration of the status quo ante bellum. But Qatar formulated its own plan, together with non-Arab, pro-Brotherhood Turkey, which was far more favorable to Hamas’ demands.
As can be seen from the resulting diplomacy, Qatari support for Hamas has had the effect of “sanitizing” the movement, allowing it to present itself as a normal political actor, rather than a terrorist group committed to the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews.
This is partly because Qatar is regarded in Western capitals as a legitimate regional actor. The fury now felt toward it by the main bloc of Sunni Arab states is not shared in Europe or the U.S. As a result, Qatar is able to insert Hamas’s demands into the negotiations for ending the current conflict between Hamas and Israel.
It is noteworthy, for example, that the controversial ceasefire proposal supported by Secretary Kerry specifically mentioned only three countries that might play a role in the implementation of the plan. According to the leaked wording of the proposal:
Members of the international community, including the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union, the United States, Turkey, Qatar, and many others, support the effective implementation of the humanitarian ceasefire and agreements reached between the parties.
Qatar and Turkey, both supporters of Hamas, are thus placed alongside the U.S. as the key implementers of the proposed deal, while Egypt is nowhere to be found. Moreover, the deal itself, as noted above, privileges Hamas’ demands over Israel’s. Presumably the insertion of these demands is the result of successful diplomacy on the part of Hamas’s “interlocutor” with the international community, which faithfully communicated the minimum the Hamas feels willing to accept. That interlocutor is Qatar.
So while Qatar cannot match the “hard power” of the Shia resistance bloc in providing arms and weaponry to its clients, it possesses a diplomatic power and influence in the West of a very different kind. The current war between Israel and Hamas has demonstrated for the first time, perhaps, the pernicious role this influence can play. But it is in the nature of diplomatic power that it works by consent, rather than coercion. Qatar is able to play an outsized role because the West, and most importantly the United States, permits it to do so. Why is this the case?
First, it is vital to remember Qatar’s role as a provider of natural gas to Europe, and its investments in both Europe and the U.S. Qatar sits on 26 trillion cubic meters of natural gas—the world’s third largest reserve. It has a sovereign wealth fund of $85 billion. And European countries are currently seeking private investment as they emerge out of austerity into growth.<
The Qataris have money to spend, and have already invested heavily. They own, for example, London’s tallest skyscraper, the Shard, and London’s most exclusive shop, Harrods. This is a friendship which the British and other Europeans naturally wish to preserve. If this means permitting Qatar to play the outsize role it seeks in Mideast diplomacy, there are few signs of objection from the Europeans. If it includes championing an organization the European Union considers a terrorist group, at least one aligned against Israel, this doesn’t seem to present too much of a problem either.
Among Western European countries, the notion that the appropriate response to terror groups is dialogue, or at least keeping the possibility of dialogue open, is prevalent. Thus the Qatari desire to promote Hamas is easy to accept.
But the Europeans are only peripheral players in Mideast diplomacy, despite their substantial economic relationship with the region.
The central actor is the United States. And the U.S. is far less dependent on Qatari money and natural gas. Yet it is this U.S. administration that has been most visible in welcoming and encouraging Qatar’s role as a mediator in the current conflict—as evidenced by Kerry’s high profile meeting with the Qatari and Turkish foreign ministers, the wording of his ceasefire proposal, and so on. What is the reason for this stance?
There are two, related explanations. First, as noted above, Sunni Arab regional politics are currently dominated by an alliance of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the Sisi government in Egypt. U.S. relations with Sisi are particularly bad, and there is a legacy of mistrust felt by Cairo, Riyadh, and their regional partners toward the current administration. In the Saudi case, this derives from what the Saudis regard as the failure of the Obama administration to adequately back its allies and contain Iranian regional and nuclear ambitions.
With regard to Sisi, the differences are perhaps deeper. The Egyptian military holds the administration responsible for toppling former President Mubarak and the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood — a rise to power the White House supported after helping engineer then demise of a longstanding ally. It is easy to see the continued mutual distaste and incomprehension between Sisi’s government and the Obama administration. Washington views Sisi as essentially grabbing power through a military coup and engaging in severe political repression of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Cairo sees Obama as inexplicably championing the forces of instability in Egypt against elements long allied with the U.S. who are interested in continuing that alliance. Given the strained relationship between Cairo and Washington, it becomes easier to understand U.S. acceptance, if not preference, for the Qataris as mediators.
Such a view only makes sense, of course, if Hamas is viewed not as an enemy to be vanquished or at least contained, but rather as a player whose desires and needs must be met on some level. This is the final part of the picture.
The U.S. administration in the 2011-12 period regarded the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate movement with a legitimate hold on power, despite its extremist and anti-Western ideology. Thus, the U.S. championed the Brotherhood’s right to stand in the presidential and parliamentary elections, and continued to relate to the Morsi Administration as a partner, in spite of Morsi’s openly antisemitic remarks and his demanding the release and return to Egypt of “The Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abd al-Rahman, convicted in the U.S. for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and effort to blow-up the Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel and George Washington Bridge, as well as assassinating a U.S. Senator.
American agreements to supply sophisticated weapons systems to the Morsi government were strictly fulfilled, despite the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government’s clear lurch toward the construction of an Islamist regime, evidenced by, for example, Morsi’s awarding of broad, new,pharaoh-like powers to himself in November 2012, and by the passing of a new, repressive, Islamist-drafted constitution in December of that year. After 30 million Egyptians took to the streets objecting to the Islamic radicalism being imposed on the secular country, and the Egyptian military stepped in to reestablish calm by removing the Muslim Brotherhood from power, the White House called for Egypt “to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible.”
All of this took place in spite of the clear and available evidenceregarding the nature of the Muslim Brotherhood regime and its ambitions. The Brotherhood seeks not to participate in democratic politics, but rather to re-construct the Islamic “caliphate.” Thus, a book published in 1995 by Muslim Brotherhood leader Mustafa Mashhur called Jihad is the Way openly notes this objective. Mashhur writes that Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna “felt the grave danger overshadowing the Muslims and the urgent need and obligation which Islam places on every Muslim, man and woman, to act in order to restore the Islamic Caliphate and to reestablish the Islamic state on strong foundations.” Mashhur’s foundational work contains a vision of jihad until all lands formerly under the control of Islam are returned to it.
Jihad for Allah…is not limited to the specific region of the Islamic countries, since the Muslim homeland is one and is not divided, and the banner of Jihad has already been raised in some of its parts, and shall continue to be raised, with the help of Allah, until every inch of the land of Islam will be liberated, and the State of Islam established.
These are not the messages of a movement committed to a pragmatic path of liberty and tolerance. They, and the Brotherhood’s track record in power in Egypt in the 2012-13 period, confirm its extremist nature. The Brotherhood has, for the most part, lost power and influence over the course of 2013 and 2014. This does not, however, mean that there has been a fundamental change in the way the movement is seen by the administration. In fact, it appears that in the mind of the Obama White House, this basic acceptance of the Muslim Brotherhood’s legitimacy, as well as the willful denial of its true nature, remains unchallenged. As a result, the U.S. administration appears keen to work alongside and in cooperation with the two main champions of the movement—Turkey and Qatar—in resolving the current Gaza conflict in a way that, at least partly, addresses Hamas’ wants and needs.
Qatar has emerged in recent years as the main diplomatic and financial backer of Hamas and its enclave in the Gaza Strip. The current conflict shows how this is reflected in regional diplomacy, as Qatar uses it to carve out a central role in the Mideast, to the dismay and anger of the rival Sunni bloc of Cairo and Riyadh.
Qatar’s regional strategy is based on support for and sponsorship of the Muslim Brotherhood, the destabilizing of its fellow Sunni Arab neighbors, and hedging its bets on American regional leadership with warmer ties with Tehran. Support for Hamas constitutes a part of this. The Muslim Brotherhood is an anti-Western, anti-Jewish movement, and Hamas is a designated terrorist organization.
Yet, for the present time at least, Qatar’s deep links to this movement, far from incurring penalties, are enabling it to reap rewards. This worrisome trend derives from a short-sighted Western attitude toward Hamas, and to a lesser extent toward the Muslim Brotherhood in general. Hamas is not favored, but neither is the extent of the movement’s commitment to its genocidal ideology—or the danger it represents—properly acknowledged, let alone accepted in various capitols.
In the U.S. case, strained relations with the government of Egypt, which fiercely opposes Hamas, are further contributing to the willingness, if not outright desire, to award a central diplomatic role to Qatar, in spite of its championing of violent anti-Western, anti-Israel, and anti-moderate-Arab forces across the region. This indulgence of terror sponsoring Qatar ought to end, and there are small signs that this complacency is ebbing, at least outside the confines of the White House and Foggy Bottom. U.S. legislators are circulating a letter questioning Qatar’s behavior, beginning to voicedeep objections to their dangerous and unacceptable actions. Congressional leaders must continue to call out Qatar for its support for Hamas, and the administration for its apparent support for Qatar. In Europe, it is possible that Qatari financial investment and gas exports make adequate opposition to the Emirate hard to imagine. But neither of these constraints exist in the U.S., where the main reason for its stance toward Qatar and its terrorist allies is a naïve view of the region.
OY VEY! THIS IS A TRAGEDY! Entenmann’s Factory Shuttering on Long Island Kosher-certified baked goods company closing plant after nearly a century
Entenmann's products. (Flickr/Jen Gallardo)
“The bakery was closed because it can no longer effectively compete in the market,” said David Margulies, spokesman for Entenmann’s parent company, Bimbo Bakeries USA, which bought Entenmann’s in 2009. “The transition was smooth, with no disruption to the marketplace.”The factory’s closure is being keenly felt in Bay Shore, as longtime employees, some of them second-generation Entenmann’s workers, seek jobs elsewhere. (In the 1990s more than 1,500 people worked at the plant.) But it’s also a blow to local fans of the company’s donuts—particularly those who keep kosher, for whom the trademark white Entenmann’s box—which bore a kosher certification—was both a delight and a relief.
Of the plant’s 265 workers, 176 were laid off as the company shifted production to other locations, including Pennsylvania.
According to Gil Marks, author of The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, the kosher certification of Entenmann’s in the early 1980s was a major moment in the history of the temple kiddush. “At my shul in Richmond, Va., the kiddush ladies would buy a bunch of Entenmann’s on sale and stick them in the freezer,” Marks told Tablet contributor Leah Koenig in 2012.
The closure likely won’t affect Entenmann’s stock in grocery stores—the company’s owner, Bimbo Bakeries, operates 75 manufacturing facilities around the country, so those Entenmann’s coffee cake donuts aren’t going anywhere just yet.
Report: Over a Dozen Hamas Terrorists Admit to Use of Hospitals, Kindergartens and Mosques for Military Activity | Jewish & Israel News Algemeiner.com
A number of Hamas operatives who were arrested and detained by Israel during Operation Protective Edge admitted to the use of civilian establishments, such as mosques, schools and hospitals, as covers for terrorist activity, according to a report released on Monday by the Israel Security Agency (ISA).
The report cites extensive and detailed testimony from the Hamas members to support Israel’s long maintained assertion that the group operates behind human shields, which often accounts for civilian casualties as it exchanges blows with the Jewish state.
The report came as the Hamas controlled Gaza religious affairs ministry claimed Israeli fire throughout Monday destroyed four mosques, raising to 71 the alleged total number of mosques targeted over the past seven weeks.
Detained militants Muhammad Ala’a and Muwaz Abu Tim told ISA they were recruited for Hamas military activity at the Alabrar and Khaled Ben Alulid mosques in Khan Yunis and Bani Suheila, respectively. Another militant, Abdel Rahman Balousha, said the Alsafa and Alabra mosques in Khan Yunis serve as meeting points for Hamas terrorists. He added that in the Alabra mosque the assembly point is in an underground shelter.
Iyad Abu Rida said that the Hamas-affiliated Jamaat Asnad association is located on the second floor of the Altikva mosque in Hazara while another Hamas operative said terrorists used the same mosque to pass along orders regarding where to plant improvised explosive devices to target Israelis.
Another pair of Hamas terrorists said armed police activity was carried out adjacent to the Uthman ibn Ifan and Abdallah ibn Masoud mosques in the Alkheif junction area, the Hassan Albana and Abu Dir mosques, and the Haroun Alrashid school.
Another detainee, Muhammad Ramadan, told ISA that in February 2014 he trained as an anti-tank fighter in a hall located underneath the Alshafi mosque in his hometown of Khan Yunis. He added that the hall is also used as a training and instruction facility for the Izzadin Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing.
Another Hamas operative revealed that Izzadin Al-Qassam Brigade terrorists monitor Israel Defense Force (IDF) movements from the Abad Alrahman mosque, and said that two home-made explosive devices were hidden in the Altoheid mosque.
Khan Yunis native Muhammad Alqadra told ISA that mosques in his hometown were used to conceal war material such as RPGs, heavy PKC machine guns and AK-47s. Additionally, he confirmed that local schools and hospitals, including the Nasser and Halal hospitals, are used as weapon arsenals. It is also well known that senior Hamas leaders and their armed bodyguards, who usually wear police uniforms, use hospitals as hideouts, he said.
According to Alqadra, guards are stationed at the admission department in the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis. He also believes the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip, including senior official Ismail Haniyeh, is hiding in Gaza City’s Shifa hospital in an area closed off to civilians and guarded by plainclothes armed men.
One operative remembered delivering food to his brother, who works for a local terrorist organization, while the latter was hiding in the Nasser hospital.
A different Hamas operative told ISA he believes terrorists are hiding in the Alnajar hospital. He claimed that in July 2013 he saw many terrorists in the three-story hospital building, adding that civilians who needed medical treatment were turned away from the medical facility. Yet another operative said that since the start of the current Israel-Gaza conflict, many armed policeman have been blocking off certain sections of the same hospital and not allowing anyone, including members of patients’ families, to enter.
The ISA report also included testimony from Hamas operative Marad Amr who said he saw a Hamas military vehicle parked outside the European hospital in Khan Yunis.
The report also cited terrorists admitting to digging terror tunnels and rocket launch sites, and placing arsenals near kindergartens in the Gaza Strip. Muhammad Abu Daraz, from Greater Ibsan, said he was stationed in a tunnel that started next to a clinic adjacent to a residential dwelling. He added that there is a kindergarten in Hazara, next to a clinic, to where he was ordered to bring prisoners in the event of a kidnapping.
ISA said information it gathered from the various Hamas terrorists was passed on to the Israel Defense Forces, including warnings about launch sites, attack tunnels and infiltrations, arsenals and booby-trapped access routes.
The report is among the most extensive yet on Hamas’s endangering of civilians in combat and use of civilian structures for military purposes.
Throughout Operation Protective Edge, media reports of the Hamas tactics trickled out of Gaza, but were often later retracted for fear of retribution from Hamas.
After journalists began to leave Gaza a more complete picture began to emerge, with some outlets reporting on rocket launchers in densely populated civilian areas and the Foreign Press Association condemning Hamas’s intimidation of foreign journalists.
In conclusion ISA said: “It is clear from the foregoing that Hamas knowingly and intentionally operates in and adjacent to civilian areas, including in kindergartens, hospitals and mosques in order to carry out military activity. Hamas thus endangers the civilian population even in times of calm given that munitions are liable to go off and put lives at risk. During fighting, Hamas deliberately operates in these locales, thus turning the civilian population into human shields on the assumption that Israel will be blamed for any injury and loss of life.”
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Music: “Happy” written by Pharrell Williams
Lyrics: “Adon Olam” from traditional Jewish liturgy by Solomon ibn Gabirol (circa 11th century)
Listen Up! is: Shayna Elliott, Eli Nathan Taylor, Steve Singer, and Freddie Feldman
Vocal Arrangement by: Steve Singer
Audio Produced by: Freddie Feldman and Listen Up!
Recorded, Edited, Mixed, Mastered: Freddie Feldman at VOCOMOTION (www.vocomotion.com)
Video Production: Zichronot Video, AY Karsh & Avi Berkman
Assistants: Zev Blumenthal and Ron Gould
© Copyright 2014, Listen Up!. All rights reserved.
Special thanks to the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership
Song available on:
Dutch paper actually reports truth from Gaza This is from Trouw, August 11. The original article is behind a paywall; it was translated by the folks at Missing Peace.
Hamas in the city: invisible, but not goneWhat is remarkable is that Trouw does not exactly have a pro-Israel record.
Monique van Hoogstraten
GAZA CITY - Since the war started, one population group in Gaza has disappeared from the streets: people in uniform. Army green uniforms, blue-grey uniforms, black uniforms, they were all over the place. From one day to the next they are gone, the men and the few women (of the women police unit) with a weapon or a truncheon in their hands.
They work for Hamas and are targets of Israel, which knows reasonably well who is where via drones in the sky and spies on the ground. So they go into hiding. Only at the Shifa Hospital, the big hospital in Gaza City, are a few sitting in uniform. There, they feel protected from the Israeli bombings. In addition, that is where they monitor the international press to prevent it from doing ‘wrong’ things.
Local camera crews know this, but foreigners do not: Hamas does not want killed or wounded fighters to appear on camera footage. The reasons are twofold. Not giving the enemy Israel PR ammunition, and maintaining high morale among its own population. ‘We suffer no losses’, is the message, ‘we bring a severe blow to Israel’.
“The most casualties are civilians”, says Hamas spokesperson Ihab al Ghoessein, who speaks to the press at the hospital compound about the question how many fighters have died in the war. He is standing before a tall poster with the text ‘The targets of the Israeli bombings are the homes of civilians. Our children live in fear, horror and panic’, illustrated with photos of killed children.
Al Ghoessein: “We hide nothing, like the Israeli’s do [hide things]. As you can see most dead are children and women.” Whether that is true does not matter for Hamas. Yes, there are many civilian casualties and most of the inhabitants of Gaza live in fear, but Hamas likes to exploit this for its PR. Hamas does not present any factual information about numbers of killed fighters or developments at the front. As it also does not want to be criticized by its own population.
“He does not dare to talk to you”, says the wife of someone who has been placed under house arrest because he is known for criticizing Hamas. She too does not dare to tell his story, because ‘we are being watched’. This is the case for most people who are no friends with Hamas. When there was no war yet, they did dare to talk. Not anymore.
Over seventy members of Fatah, the party of President Abbas in the West Bank and very much hated by Hamas, supposedly have been placed under house arrest. This is what sources say in the West Bank. The Fatah supporters have been told that they ‘should stay at home for their own safety’ and that ‘every violation of this order makes you a target for punishment in the field’ - meaning: death penalty.
“The minority that criticizes Hamas that wonders whether it was wise to provoke this war with Israel”, says political analyst Mukhaimer Abu Saada, who now lives in Gaza City himself, “does not dare to say it now, because we are in the middle of the war.”
Although the uniforms might have disappeared from the streets, Hamas has not. High-ranking members monitor in civilian clothes. Whoever talks about Hamas critically on the streets is immediately spoken to. Whoever poses a critical question near security men of Hamas, but also far from them, receives the reply: “You cannot ask that question,” or “I do not want to answer that question.” In war no one is allowed to be a traitor.
What Khaled Mashaal forgot to mention was that Hamas and the Islamic State do have at least one thing in common: they both carry out extrajudicial executions as a means of terrorizing and intimidating those who stand in their way or who dare to challenge their terrorism.
According to Hamas's logic, all members of the Palestinian Authority government are "traitors" who should be dragged to public squares to be shot by firing squads. According to the same logic, Mahmoud Abbas himself should be executed for maintaining security coordination with and talking to Israelis.
As for the two executed women, the sources said that their only fault was that they had been observed asking too many questions about Palestinians who were killed in airstrikes.
Hamas's extrajudicial executions of Palestinians suspected of "collaboration" with Israel are a sign that the Islamist movement is beginning to panic in the wake of Israel's successful targeting of its leaders.
But the public executions by firing squad of more than 26 suspected "collaborators" in the Gaza Strip could also turn many Palestinians against Hamas.
Masked Hamas members (dressed in black) prepare to execute local Palestinians who they claim spied for Israel, Aug. 22, 2014, in Gaza. (Image source: Reuters video screenshot)
Hamas has banned the publication of the names of the executed Palestinians "out of concern for the social fabric" of Palestinian society.
In other words, Hamas is afraid that revealing the identities of the executed "collaborators" would spark outrage in the Gaza Strip and possible calls for revenge, especially from the families of the victims.
Hamas says that the suspected "collaborators" were brought before firing squads after being tried before special "revolutionary tribunals" consisting of security experts and officers.
It says that in time of war, there is no room for holding proper legal procedures and that security circumstances require secret trials followed by swift executions.
Yet some Palestinians in the Gaza Strip argue that in the absence of proper legal procedures, it is impossible to tell whether the convicted Palestinians were guilty or innocent.
Sources in the Gaza Strip revealed that some of the executed men belonged to Abbas's Fatah faction and had no connection with Israel.
The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights was the only group that dared to criticize Hamas for embarking on a spree of public executions in front of passersby, including many children.
A statement released by the human rights group said it was following events "with deep concern news about extrajudicial executions in the Gaza Strip."
Noting that among those executed by Hamas were two Palestinian women, the group called on the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to intervene to "stop these extrajudicial executions, regardless of the reason and motives behind them."
Raji Surani, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, complained that the public extrajudicial executions "cause harm to all Palestinians" and called for "honoring the rule of law and human rights."
However, "honoring the rule of law and human rights" has been a practice alien to Hamas ever since it seized control over the Gaza Strip through a violent and bloody coup against the Palestinian Authority in the summer of 2007.
Back then, Hamas killed dozens (some say hundreds) of Palestinians, including many from the rival Fatah faction headed by Mahmoud Abbas. Fatah members who were not killed during the fighting were later tossed from tall buildings or lynched in public squares.
One prominent Fatah activist, Samih al-Madhoun, was dragged to the street and brutally lynched by Hamas militiamen and supporters.
Over the past few days, Hamas officials have gone out of their way to tell the world that their movement is not like the Islamic State terror organization, which has become notorious for beheading almost everyone it finds standing the way of its creating an Islamic Caliphate.
"We are not a religious, violent group," Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said in an interview with Yahoo News from his luxurious hotel in Qatar. He said that Hamas, unlike the Islamic State terrorist group, operates only in Israel, the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
What Mashaal forgot to mention in the interview was that Hamas and the Islamic State do have at least one thing in common: they both carry out extrajudicial executions as a means of terrorizing and intimidating those who stand in their way or dare to challenge their terrorism.
Even the Palestinian Authority [PA] now seems to be drawing an analogy between Hamas and the Islamic State and other radical Islamist terrorist groups.
Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior aide to Mahmoud Abbas, strongly condemned Hamas's extrajudicial executions, adding that that they are "reminiscent of the summary executions carried out by Wahhabi militant groups in other parts of the Middle East."
Abdel Rahim added, "The executions were done in cold blood and according to Hamas law, which is: Who is not with Hamas is against it."
Under Palestinian Authority law, all death sentences must be approved by the president of the PA. But in 2005, PA President Mahmoud Abbas issued a moratorium on death sentences -- a prohibition that did not stop Hamas from pursuing executions under the pretext that the PA president was no longer a legitimate leader since his term had expired in 2009.
It is notable that the latest executions in the Gaza Strip were carried out after the formation of the Hamas-backedPalestinian "national consensus" government a few months ago. These extrajudicial executions show that despite the unity agreement between the two parties, Hamas continues to act as the sole authority in the Gaza Strip, where it has its own security forces, militias and "revolutionary courts."
It is also ironic that Hamas has chosen to execute suspected "collaborators" at a time when it is seen as part of the "national consensus" government that continues to conduct security coordination with Israel. According to Hamas's logic, all members of the Palestinian government are "traitors" who should also be dragged to public squares and the yards of mosques to be shot by firing squads.
According to the same logic, Abbas himself should also be executed for maintaining security coordination and talking to Israelis.
Hamas does not even need to interrogate or hold a trial for Abbas because he recently announced, during a meeting with Israelis in his office in Ramallah, that "security coordination with Israel is sacred."
Sources in the Gaza Strip said that the executed men were affiliated with Fatah and had been suspected of maintaining contact with senior Fatah officials in Ramallah and some Arab countries. As for the two executed women, the sources said that their only fault was that they had been observed by neighbors asking too many questions about Palestinians who were killed in Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip over the past few weeks.
Hamas's hysteria has seen it turn not only on its political rivals in Fatah and innocent Palestinians, but also against its own followers. According to sources in the Gaza Strip, Hamas arrested more than 250 of its own members after Israel last week killed its three top military commanders, Raed al-Attar, Mohamed Abu Shamaleh and Mohamed Barhoum.
The public executions in the Gaza Strip are a sign that Hamas is losing the war with Israel, particularly in the intelligence field. The three slain Hamas commanders are said to have been hiding inside a tunnel 30-meters [100 feet] deep, beneath a house in the southern town of Rafah. But this did not prevent the Israel Defense Forces from locating them and killing them. For Hamas, this is a serious security and intelligence blunder.
That is why Hamas is nervous and anxious to show that it is capable of responding to the targeted killing of its commanders. And there is nothing easier than dragging men and women into public squares and executing them in public after declaring them Israeli "agents."
The extrajudicial executions will be added to the long list of crimes committed by Hamas against Palestinians. But the question remains whether the international community will ever hold Hamas accountable for its war crimes. Judging from the apathy of the international community and the United Nations to Hamas's extrajudicial killings and other crimes, probably not.