Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And Over in Ireland...

And over in Ireland, the media war goes on:

Here is a reply to David Morrison's anti-Israel piece in The Irish Times, December 30th 2008:

David Morrison of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign attempts to blame Israel for the breakdown of the six-month ceasefire with Hamas and claims that its military action against Hamas was not necessary to secure its citizens from Hamas rocket and mortar fire -- in short, that its claim to self-defence is bogus (December 30th).

The one wholly factual sentence in Mr. Morrison's article is his statement that no Israeli was killed between June 19 and December 27 as a result of rocket or mortar fire from Gaza. The rest of the piece is obfuscation.

Let us examine his claim that ‘Israel broke the ceasefire by killing six Palestinians in Gaza on the night of November 4th’. The first fact to note is that the rocket and mortar fire had never ceased entirely since June 19. Figures for the ceasefire period up to November 4 show that 18 rockets and 20 mortars landed in southern Israel during that time. In addition, Hamas used the period of calm to smuggle in military supplies and weapons, including long-range Grad rockets supplied by Iran.

Next come the events that led up to November 4. On the night of October 31, Hamas operatives were seen trying to lay an explosive device at the security fence near one of the border crossings. When approached by Israeli soldiers, they fired two anti-tank missiles at them and escaped. That weekend, Israel continued its policy of allowing humanitarian supplies to cross the border as it done each week during the ceasefire. Between November 1 and 3, a total of 421 trucks crossed into Gaza carrying 12,160 tons of goods, 124,410 litres of petrol and 262,400 litres of diesel. In addition, there were 148 medical evacuations to Israel.

We now come to November 4. That night, the Israeli military acted on intelligence that a tunnel had been dug under the border fence by Hamas terrorists, from 250 metres inside Gazan territory, as part of a plan to abduct Israeli soldiers in Israel. When soldiers entered Gaza to thwart this plan and destroy the tunnel, they exchanged fire with the terrorists. In the resulting operation, six Israeli soldiers were wounded and six of the Hamas operatives were killed. This is the ‘unprovoked assault’ and these are the ‘six Palestinians’ so disingenuously referred to by Mr. Morrison.

Further serious violations of the ceasefire by Hamas took place on November 12 and 28, when its operatives were intercepted while placing bombs at the security fence. It seems that, in Mr. Morrison’s view, Israel’s adherence to the ceasefire required it to ignore these attempts to breach the security fence and to attack and abduct Israeli soldiers.

From November 4 onwards, Hamas renewed its missile attacks on southern Israel, and by December 18, had fired 213 rockets and 126 mortars across the border. Nevertheless, during this period, Israel continued to indicate, via the Egyptian intermediaries who had brokered the ceasefire, that it was interested in extending it.

It is when discussing the end of the ceasefire that Mr. Morrison’s piece becomes most interesting. Suddenly all human agents leave the scene: ‘the ceasefire broke down’ and ‘the ceasefire formally came to an end’. Who formally ended it? It was Hamas that formally announced on December 19 that it would not extend it.

It is strange that an Irish supporter of the Palestinian cause should adopt a more extreme position on this matter than the spokepersons for the legitimate Palestinian Authority. Its Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, and leading figures in the PLO have placed the blame for the crisis squarely on Hamas. Abbas has said: ‘We told them, “Please do not end the tahdiah [calm]”’. Similar criticism has come from the Egyptian foreign minister.

Between Hamas’ ending of the calm and the start of Israel’s military action in Gaza on December 27, rocket and mortar fire escalated once more to the intolerable levels seen in early 2008, making an Israeli response imperative. Most of the firing comes from positions located in the midst of Gaza’s civilian population. In this light, it is ironic that Mr. Morrison should accuse Israel of depriving Gazans of ‘a dignified existence’.

Since its violent takeover of Gaza in summer 2007, Hamas has turned the territory into an armed camp, indoctrinated its young people with its radical Islamist ideology of hatred and turned children as young as five into aspiring suicide bombers. It is guilty of a double crime against civilians – against the Israelis it targets, and against its own citizens whom it exposes to attack by using them as human shields.

All of this is consistent with the 20-year-old Charter of Hamas, which expresses its scorn for all negotiated settlements and states clearly ‘There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad’. It is tragic that it is civilians on both sides who must pay the price for this madness.

Irish Friends of Israel.

Will it be published?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not that I can see but this was published in todays Irish Times.

Is Israel right to try to destroy Hamas?
Mon, Jan 05, 2009

HEAD TO HEAD: The leadership in Gaza is an unreconstructed terrorist organisation which aims to remove all Jewish people from the region, writes Sean Gannon. The Israeli onslaught is sure to fail and Hamas will remain part of the solution, writes David Morrison.


THE IRELAND-PALESTINE Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) has long appeared to operate according to the principle of "my enemy's enemy is my friend". Throughout the so-called Second Intifada, it generally defended the irredeemably corrupt arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat and championed as his successor Marwan Barghouti, sentenced to five life sentences for his murderous role in that conflict.

Nevertheless, the IPSC's recent embrace of Hamas still has the capacity to shock. For the IPSC it seems its victory in the January 2006 Palestinian general election has miraculously turned Hamas from reviled paramilitaries into respected parliamentarians deserving of international support and assistance, and it has castigated the world's refusal to conduct a business-like relationship with the Gaza regime.

But the fact is that Hamas is an unreconstructed jihadist organisation, the Palestinian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose self-declared raison d'etre is the "liberation of the region from the impurity of the Jews". According to its 1988 charter, the entirety of Mandated Palestine (today's Israel, West Bank and Gaza) is an Islamic Waqf [territorial trust] "for all the generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection", no part of which can be abandoned or renounced "for renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing [our] religion".

The existence of Israel is therefore, in the words of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, "an affront to Islam" and Hamas's campaign against Israelis is "an expression of the Divine Will".

And not just Israelis, but all Jews: Article 22 of the charter is an anti-Semitic screed, blaming the Jews for all the ills of the world, from the French and Bolshevik revolutions to the first and second World Wars, and Article 7 states that Judgment Day will not come to pass until Muslims have killed all the Jews.

According to Yassin, Israel cannot be removed "except with force of weapons" and consequently Article 13 of the charter dismisses "peace initiatives" and "peaceful solutions" as "contrary to [our] beliefs". For Hamas "there is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by jihad", a jihad which has to date claimed over 500 Israeli lives.

The Hamas charter thus makes a nonsense of the claim of the IPSC (and many others) that recent statements by Hamas leaders such as Khaled Meshaal offering a long-term truce with Israel in return for a withdrawal to the 1967 borders are indicative of the increasing moderation and pragmatism of the organisation.

Indeed, one need only look to Gaza to see what such an withdrawal/truce would involve. Hamas has repaid Israel's complete evacuation of the Gaza Strip with a rocket, missile and mortar campaign against Israel's southern communities; 5,600 have been fired since August 2005, 3,000 in the last year alone. Today, half a million Israelis are living within range and only sheer good fortune has prevented mass casualties.

Meanwhile, Hamas used the recent six-month truce with Israel to accelerate the process of turning Gaza into a de facto terrorist statelet, stockpiling massive quantities of locally manufactured rockets and smuggled Iranian-supplied missiles, weaponry and explosives, and building an extensive military infrastructure in Gaza city and along the border with Israel, including over 50kms of tunnels, underground bunkers and other fortifications.

With Iranian assistance, it has also created what amounts to a 15,000-strong standing army highly trained in field warfare and weaponry. And according to PA president Mahmoud Abbas, it has allowed al-Qaeda to establish a presence in the Strip.

Hamas has facilitated the process of Gaza's militarisation by ousting it rivals in Fatah in a June 2007 murderous coup (one Palestinian human rights group estimates that over 700 Fatah members were killed) and through the political repression of Gaza's population by means of arrests, arbitrary detentions, kidnappings, beatings and killings.

Its campaign to Islamisise Gaza society has led to the intimidation of secular Muslims through arson, sackings and other daily harassments, while the Strip's tiny Christian population has been subject to violent attacks.

Furthermore, Hamas has exploited Gaza's civilians as human shields by positioning its military installations in residential areas, what one commentator described as placing its "infantry among infants".

In this, Hamas has effectively subjugated Palestinian interests to its own religious and ideological agenda and Gaza today is paying the price. Little wonder that the PA, while decrying Israel's recent actions, has laid the blame for them squarely at Hamas's door and that Arab governments such as Jordan, the Gulf States and Egypt (which has described Hamas-run Gaza as its "border with Iran") are, though compelled to assuage so-called Arab street anger with harsh anti-Israel rhetoric, privately hoping that Operation Cast Lead deals Hamas a death blow.

The fact is that, like al-Qaeda, no political accommodation is possible with the extremists of Hamas, either with Israel or within Palestinian society. If there is to be any prospect of a Middle East peace, it must therefore be destroyed.

Seán Gannon is chairman of Irish Friends of Israel