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University of Colorado Boulder Program in Jewish Studies
Shaul Amir

Summer 2014 Diary of an Israeli – Part 6

Shaul Amir
Shaul Amir

August 4, 2014

It is somewhat quieter today. It seems as though the Hamas has been surprised by the Israel’s latest moves which they did not anticipate. I hope that Israel will not be the first one to blink.
I am attaching herewith a letter (not too long) written by Prof. Yehuda Shoenfeld, Prof. Eitan Israeli and your humble servant. This letter was written as a reply to a letter published in the prestigious English medical weekly magazine called, the Lancet. I am not attaching the biased, one sided, anti-Israel, vehement letter as I do not want to help its circulation. I believe that from our answer you will be able to get the gist of the Lancet letter.

TO THE AUTHORS OF THE OPEN LETTER TO THE PEOPLE IN GAZA
On June 12th, the day three Israeli teens were abducted and murdered in the West Bank, Hamas began launching rockets aimed at Israeli civilians. For three weeks Israel showed great restraint, but Hamas’ incessant missile attacks continued, culminating in a barrage of 70 missiles fired on July 7th alone. Israel was left with no choice but to embark on a military operation to defend its civilian population. There was no word from the authors of the “open letter” (1).

For several years Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization in many countries including the US, the EU and Canada, has invested heavily in a formidable terror infrastructure which includes some 12,000 missiles covering most of Israel’s territory. It has also built dozens of attack tunnels whose sole purpose is to infiltrate Israel and conduct terror attacks killing and kidnaping Israel civilians. Again total ignorance on the part of the authors or any others in the European medical community.

The main objective of Operation Protective Edge is to restore quiet to Israel’s citizens. Israel’s right to defend itself was widely recognized by the international community, including most recently by EU foreign ministers on July 22nd. Israel’s actions are aimed at curtailing Hamas terror capabilities in Gaza, but do not target the people of Gaza in any way.

In this context, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has been doing the utmost to minimize harm to uninvolved civilians. It strictly abides by the principles of international law and the law of armed conflict, which calls for a distinction between civilians and military forces, and for careful consideration of the expected military gain of any action, weighed against the potential collateral damage.

Among the measures taken by the IDF to minimize the risk to Palestinian civilians are prior announcements about impending attacks, phone calls, pamphlets and warning shots. In many cases missions were aborted because civilians were identified dangerously close to the target. What other army do that?

Whereas Israel is conducting itself carefully so as not to harm civilians, Hamas acts in flagrant violation of international law and with utter disregard for human life, whether Israeli or Palestinian. It has systematically been committing a double war crime, by deliberately targeting Israeli civilians while using its own civilian population for cover.

Indeed, Hamas has perfected the “human shield” tactic, hiding weapons and terrorists in hospitals, schools and mosques. In at least two instances UNRWA found missiles hidden in its schools, and journalists reported having seen Hamas leaders hiding in the Shifa hospital. In addition, Hamas has urged and even forced civilians to remain where fighting takes place, to deter Israel from attacking.

Israel has agreed to the Egyptian brokered ceasefire of July 15th, but Hamas rejected it. Israel approved two humanitarian windows to ease the burden on the civilian population in Gaza, but Hamas broke the ceasefire in both occasions.
In light of all this, Hamas is solely responsible for any civilian casualties on either side of the Israel-Gaza border.

So our learned colleagues you have sinned by omission:

1. You omitted to mention the brutal kidnapping of three Israeli youth by Hamas in the west bank (by orders from the headquarters in Gaza) and their brutal murder.
2. You omitted to mention that hundreds of thousand innocent civilians around Gaza and as far as 40 Km from Gaza were, for 14 years targeted by missiles from Gaza. For the last 15 days. Five million people were threatened by missiles..
3. You omitted to mention that Hamas Terrorist organization spent hundreds of millions in smuggling and manufacturing missiles to be launched at civilians, using the Gaza civilians as protection for their weapons. Instead of building housed, hospitals, clinics, schools and other civil institutions, they buried (literally) all this money in the ground.
4. You also omitted to mention the tunnels dug underground from neighborhoods in Gaza into Israel’s Kibbutzim on the Gaza border for the sole purpose of massacring as many innocent (intentionally) and kidnapping as many as they can.
5. You omitted to mention that three humanitarian cease fires accepted by Israel were broken by the terrorists of Hamas.
6. You did not mention the fact that the field hospital built on the Israeli side of the Gaza border (near Erez crossing), to help and treat wounded civilian Palestinians, is standing empty and is a target of mortar bombs fired by those who claim to care for their civilians.
7. You preferred to ignore the reason for a blockade on Gaza. The smuggling of weapons and missiles aimed to kill as many Israeli civilians.
8. The Authors omitted the fact that Israel’s ground offensive was launched for the reason to save the life of uninvolved by targeting terrorists only. The terrorists chose to hide behind civilians, use hospitals, schools Mosques and UNRWA institutions as their headquarters, centers of arms and launching pads for their missiles. UNRWA launched its own investigation after the discovery of missiles arsenal in two of their schools.
9. No army in the world warned people before attack. The Hamas threatened its own people not to leave their homes or they (the Hamas terrorists) will blow it up themselves. The bombing of Wafaa hospital in Shagaiya was done after four days of calls to the Director of the hospital and the assurance that the hospital was vacated. There is a large amount of footage showing terrorists shooting from the hospital at the Israeli soldiers and using the building as their headquarters.
10. The only lifeline to Gaza before the beginning of this war was Israel. Water, gas, electricity, medical supplies, food. Israel continue sending supplies while the fire is still raging. (2, see attached).

P.S. One of the authors, MG, days after the atrocity of Septmber 11, 2001, in an interview for the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet , when asked “Do you support a terror attack against the USA?,” Gilbert replied, “Terror is a bad weapon but the answer is yes within the context which I have mentioned.”

This is not the first time The Lancet takes an unjustified stand against Israel (3,4). We hope the Journal will publish the view of the other side as well.

Eitan Israeli, Shaul Amir, Yehuda Shoenfeld

References:
1. Paola Manduca, Iain Chalmers, Derek Summerfield, Mads Gilbert,
Swee Ang, on behalf of 24 signatories. An open letter for the
people in Gaza. Lancet 2014; Published online July 22, 2014 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/ S0140-6736(14)61044-8/

2. http://www.cogat.idf.il/ Sip_Storage/FILES/2/4512.pdf
3. Ciechanover A, Shoenfeld Y, Shemer Y, Eidelman L, Borow M. Response to health in the Occupied Palestinian Territory [Letter]. Lancet 2011; 378: e1
4. Israeli E. Shoenfeld Y. The Lancet against Israel Isr Med Assoc J. 2013L15:2.
Attachments: The Humanitarian Situation in the Gaza Strip:

Detailed Information on Humanitarian Supplies transferred into Gaza today, July 23

List of goods entering Gaza through Kerem Shalom Crossing:

Quantity Food Gas Fuel & Diesel Total trucks
*1 *2 *3
Tons/liters 2,120 tons 109 tons 610,000
liters 2,230 tons
610,000 liters
Trucks/
tankers 106 5 17 128

*1 – Food products, mainly Jordanian Aid
*2 – Gas for home use (cooking)
*3 – Fuel for the electricity power plant, and diesel for public transportation, including for the use by UNRWA

—————————————-

It looks like ceasefire is around the corner. I am not sure how long it will last. Israel is still vague about its intentions and for once, we are initiators and not responders. It is now for us to make the decisions, agree or disagree and make sure that our conditions are heard and understood.

Today, I called one of my old friends from Nachal Oz. Daum was with me in the group that went to kibbutz Nachal Oz, I left the kibbutz when I got married and he is still there. I called him as I got a message from BBC, that they want to talk with me. In the conversation, the reporter asked me to help her get a a video diary like account, of somebody from the south.

As it happen, my friend recorded every day in the last month. He will send it to me and I will pass it over to the BBC. I told the reporter that we have a very bad experience with the BBC, and I hope that this time, she’d better not let me down and report objectively (Maybe I am naive).

Daum told me that the devastation is beyond belief. It is not the damage to houses in the Kibbutz (“only” three houses damaged) but 50 years of hard labor in the fields, 50 years of land reclamation that were destroyed under the chains of the tanks, cannons, tracks and armored vehicles. All the irrigation systems that were destroyed, all the fields that can not be prepared for the winter sowing. Kibbutz Nachal Oz is depending on agriculture. It’s milk production is one of the highest in Israel and in the world. Not lately though, every trauma to the milking cows affects the milk production and the cows there, as he says, going crazy with the noise of the shelling on our part and the rockets and missiles from the Palestinian side, thus their milk production is much lower and it has economic effect.

His daughter and two grand kids left the kibbutz a month ago. They were about to be accepted as full members to the kibbutz. They are now reconsidering their decision. They are afraid that maybe, just maybe, there is another tunnel leading to the kibbutz, which is only 400 yards from the border fence.

The compensation the Government agreed on is 80% of their last year’s income. No way that can compensate all the above mentioned damage done to the yielding fields.

My heart is going out to them, I am heart broken and yet this side of the war is never told. Maybe this post will shed some light on the plight of my friends on the border of Gaza.

August 5, 2014

If the ceasefire will hold, this will be my last daily post on the operation in Gaza.

At 7:56, the sires went off and we went to the secure room for what we hope, was the last time for now.

The Hamas was beaten but not defeated. It lost by points but not by K.O. Many of the Hamas abilities are now weakened, 32 tunnels (one of their strategic abilities to terrorize Israel) were destroyed. Their rockets could not penetrate the Iron dome and enabled Israel to strategize its moves without the pressure of mass casualties or mass devastation. The Hamas leadership is underground and will most likely stay there for the foreseeable future.

On the down side, our standing in the world is at the moment, rock bottom. Demonstrations against Israel are gathering momentum and are turning anti Jewish and Antisemitic. The Human Rights Agency decided to establish an investigating committee to investigate crimes against humanity done by Israel during the operation. They will not investigate crimes against humanity performed by Hamas such as using people as human shield, launching rockets at civilians without discrimination and more. I am sure that we will persevere and achieve what we aim to achieve, security and quiet time for the citizens of the south of Israel and all its citizens.

The Israeli delegation will leave for Egypt tonight to discuss long term settlement. I hope that the rare alignment between past adversaries will bring an acceptable settlement which will include the beginning of demilitarization of Gaza (which is going to be very difficult if not impossible), control over the use of materials brought to Gaza to make sure it is used for Gaza’s rehabilitation and not the rebuilding of Hamas’s terror abilities and cessation of use of any means to terrorize Israel.

As I am writing this post it is still quiet and it looks like it will remain quiet at least for the agreed 72 hours.

Let us all hope and pray that this is the beginning of the end and not the end of the beginning.

August 8, 2014

And I was hoping that my next post could be about love, friendship and a better world.

All of the elements were in the right place. Hamas beaten but not defeated (so they can save face), Egypt as a mediator (although hates the Hamas), the American support and remote participation and the Saudi silent backing. It looks like the assumption that the Hams irrational behavior is their rational. So far it does not look like Israel will go on ground offence for now. At the same time, Israel’s negotiating team left Egypt an hour before the end of the ceasefire when it was obvious that the Hamas will resume fire in order not to even seem like negotiating under fire. Israel tried to contain the attacks to a certain degree, but after 20 rockets and Mortar bombs, it retaliated and still does.

The Islamic Jihad is trying to move the attention from Hamas by claiming responsibility for the shooting. They cannot fool anybody (perhaps some of the Europeans will buy it). The fact is that the ceasefire held for 72 hours just because Hamas imposed its will on all the other functions and rogue organization.

I hope that the world that is so quick to blame Israel for all the atrocities on earth will open its eyes.

I hope that the world who keeps on focusing its anger on Israel will open its eyes and look at northern Iraq where a genocide of non Muslims is performed by ISIS; to Syria, where over a thousand deaths a week is a “normal” death toll; to northern Lebanon where ISIS is fighting the Lebanese and are threatening to conquer Lebanon.

All of a sudden, our problem seems small, doesn’t it? But it believe me , it is not. The Hamas and ISIS are two of the same, motivated by sick murderous and bloody extreme ideology that will not let off until it fulfills its goal, a creation of a Muslim Caliphate which will eventually rule the world.

I spoke to a friend from Kfar Azah who made a beautiful documentary about the life of her family under fire. The film is called, “Border Living” it is 54? minutes long. She tried to enter it to Film Festivals and the reply she got was, we can’t accept it as we do not have the “other side”. The documentary is totally apolitical, has no leaning to the right or to the left, only describes the life of one family with kids in an impossible situation.

If any of you, my friends, have any access, influence or ability to show this documentary, please let me know and I will refer you to Ronit Iferrgan. You can Google her or the name of the Documentary and get more information.
Well, that is all for now. Let’s hope that my nest posts will be all about love and not war.

Shabbat Shalom and I mean it literally!!!

August 10, 2014

Here we go again. 72 more hours of ceasefire as from 12:00 am Israel time. No body knows if it will hold. In the last couple of days, the terrorists kept on launching rockets. This time around Gaza and “only” as far as Ashkelon. They wanted to bring Israel to the negotiation table under “war of attrition” of our southern citizens. Israel withdrew the negotiation team from Cairo on Friday morning, knowing that the first ceasefire of 72 hours declared on a Tuesday, will not be extended and broken by Hamas as it did, and refused to negotiate under fire. The Hamas washes its hands off from the rocket launching in the last couple of days, saying that it is the Islamic Jihad and other rogue organization, trying this way to eat the cake and have it at the same time. This time Israel did not fall for it and will continue the talks only when total quiet will be fully implemented.

Today Israel had to close the only gateway of humanitarian aid to the citizens of Gaza, the Kerem Shalom passage. The terrorists kept on firing at the vicinity of the gate, and thus threatening the lives of the people working there to bring relief items to Gaza. Go figure!!!

Meanwhile the world is slowly waking up to the global threat of ISIS (now it is only IS which stands for Islamic State). The US is the first to do something to stop them from slaughtering tens of thousands of non Muslims or even non extreme fundamentalists Muslims. It looks like GB will join and maybe, just maybe, more will join to stop this growing threat from spreading and change life as we know it and would like it to be.

Perhaps the biased magnifying glass, which the world is looking at Israel through, will now, for a change, turn in another direction.

Let’s all hope that the ceasefire will hold this time more than 72 hours and lead to a new order in our beaten and painful region.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Prep

About Shaul Amir

Shaul Amir has served two terms as Shaliach to the Denver area from Israel, the most recent combined with directing Allied Jewish Federation's Israel Center from 2002 to 2007. He and his wife Kika now live outside Tel Aviv and enjoy welcoming visitors from Colorado to Israel.

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