Archive for May 6, 2019

Yair Lapid slams Israeli policy in Gaza: ‘Surrender, Cowardice, Shame’

May 6, 2019

Source: Yair Lapid slams Israeli policy in Gaza: ‘Surrender, Cowardice, Shame’ – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz called on the Netanyahu administration to “do what it needs to do.”

BY HAGAY HACOHEN

MAY 6, 2019 15:38

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yair Lapid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yair Lapid. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Blue and White top politician Yair Lapid slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday saying his policy regarding Hamas can be summed up by the words “surrender, cowardice, shame.”

“Netanyahu will not do anything in Gaza,” Lapid said, “for ten years he served as Prime Minister, he won’t solve this issue.”

Netanyahu did not address the issue of what Israel agreed to in order to reach the recent cease fire with Hamas, reached at roughly four thirty  a.m. on Monday.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz called on the Netanyahu administration to “do what it needs to do” and called on Netanyahu to “initiate diplomatic moves, or pull in regional powers and international bodies and not to act with diplomatic laziness.”

Gantz also called on Netanyahu to “ensure the next round [of violence] will be as far ahead as possible and possible to prevent it entirely.”

 

In limbo, on the brink of war and eyeing the Eurovision 

May 6, 2019

Source: In limbo, on the brink of war and eyeing the Eurovision – analysis – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

Ministers have serious strategic and moral questions on their minds, but do they have a mandate to act as an interim government?

BY LAHAV HARKOV
 MAY 6, 2019 01:12
An artistic projection of the 2019 Eurovision stage in Tel Avi

The latest assault by Gazan terrorists on Israel came at a strange time, politically.

It’s clear that the timing was influenced by the upcoming Independence Day celebrations and, even more so, by next week’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, with Palestinian Islamic Jihad escalating the situation on Saturday by shooting at IDF soldiers, and explicitly threatening the international musical extravaganza.

It’s funny – in a gallows-humor type way – to recall that six months ago, political commentators were predicting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would try to call an election for the end of May, so that he would ride high in the polls on the joy and national pride of the two big events. The way things look now, it’s lucky for him that he moved up the schedule.

In a bizarre way, the Eurovision seems to have turned into a consideration in the Security Cabinet’s deliberations as to how to respond.

The statement they released after their five-hour meeting was that they “instructed the IDF to continue attacks and prepare for the continuation. The highest consideration is the security of the state and its inhabitants.”

But it’s hard to believe that the major international cultural event wasn’t on the ministers’ minds. Dozens of performers from across Europe and beyond have already arrived, and Madonna is expected to perform. If Hamas could spoil the show, it would hurt Israel’s international cultural cachet and the growing number of tourists in recent years. It would be a victory for terrorism in the purest sense, in that terrorism seeks not only to kill, but to sow fear and disrupt its target’s way of life.

Still, when there have already been four civilian deaths in a day and a half of rocket fire – at the time of this writing – one has to wonder if there is a justification for considerations of culture and morale to take precedent over human life. Does “the show must go on” mean that one million civilians have to constantly run to bomb shelters? It’s a moral question, and it’s one the ministers in the Security Cabinet must ask themselves.

Then, there’s the tricky political and legal situation. The Security Cabinet is made up of ministers in an interim government.
According to past Supreme Court rulings, an interim government should act “with restraint in using its authority for all matters that are not necessary or have special urgency.” One could question why, if there have been so many rounds of rocket onslaughts in the past – including ahead of the election and in November – would an interim government have to take special action this time.

Politically, this government no longer has a mandate. While Netanyahu will presumably remain prime minister and hopes to forge a coalition similar to the last one, at least two Security Cabinet ministers – Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked – have been voted out of the Knesset. And it is likely there will be further reshuffling.

But the next coalition is not just waiting in the wings to be sworn in. Not a single party has signed on yet.

The political situation has little to do with the latest assault by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s impact on coalition talks. Thus far, its impact has been minimal.

Netanyahu held a secret, one-on-one, two-hour meeting with MK Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the National Union Party within the Union of Right-wing Parties (URP) about coalition matters. A planned meeting between Likud and URP negotiating teams was postponed from Sunday to Monday, and Likud plans to meet with United Torah Judaism’s negotiators immediately after that.
The only player in the talks that the latest round in the endless Gaza rocket saga could really sway is Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, who resigned from the Defense Ministry in November allegedly because he was overruled in the Security Cabinet when he advocated for a more robust response to Hamas terrorism.

Entering a government after Netanyahu repeated the exact pattern that led Liberman to resign in protest would not look great for him. And one of Yisrael Beytenu’s demands in coalition talks is to include toppling Hamas in the next government’s guidelines – though bombastic statements in the guidelines are worth about as much as the paper on which they are written.

Despite all that, a political insider said that the current situation is unlikely to impact Liberman’s decision. The bigger issue for Yisrael Beytenu is still the matter of religion and state. The five-seat party is demanding to stop further stringencies, versus the 16 haredi seats plus six more from URP, which is likely to support almost any religious concession the haredim (ultra-Orthodox) demand.

That gets rid of at least one outside consideration for the Security Cabinet when it’s deciding how to respond to the current record-breaking rocket barrage.

But the ministers in the Security Cabinet are stuck in limbo: on the brink of war and eyeing the Eurovision.

 

Off Topic:  U.S. Democratic presidential candidates refrain from condemning Hamas 

May 6, 2019

Source: U.S. Democratic presidential candidates refrain from condemning Hamas – American Politics – Jerusalem Post

A democratic representative who stood by Israel is Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema who tweeted “I condemn the rocket attacks on innocent civilians and stand in support of Israel and peace.”

BY ALON EINHORN
 MAY 6, 2019 11:45
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) participates in a mock swearing in with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence du

Many politicians worldwide made their comments in support of one side or the other during this latest conflict. US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to show his support of Israel when he said that “We support Israel 100% in its defense of its citizens.”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Once again, Israel faces a barrage of deadly rocket attacks by terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. We support Israel 100% in its defense of its citizens….

Trump’s support of Israel is unquestionable as his actions speak clearly when he moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem and declared the Golan Heights to be Israeli.

With the 2020 US Presidential elections at stake, not many American politicians made their comments on the latest Israeli-Gaza conflict.

Only a single Democratic presidential candidate tweeted about the situation, and even that was not in favor of Israel. Former senator (D-AK) Mike Gravel tweeted “Long live Palestine!” And that is where the list ends.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib slammed The New York Times for a headline reading “Gaza Militants Fire 250 Rockets, and Israel Responds With Airstrikes.” Tlaib claimed on Twitter that “Headlines like this & framing it in this way just feeds into the continued lack of responsibility on Israel who unjustly oppress & target Palestinian children and families.”

Rashida Tlaib

@RashidaTlaib

When will the world stop dehumanizing our Palestinian people who just want to be free? Headlines like this & framing it in this way just feeds into the continued lack of responsibility on Israel who unjustly oppress & target Palestinian children and families.

(((YousefMunayyer)))

@YousefMunayyer

This is a stunningly irresponsible and misleading headline. Israel shot dozens of unarmed Palestinian protestors in Gaza on Friday and killed 4 Palestinians, including two protesters, in Gaza before any projectiles were launched.

View image on Twitter

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar started by condemning violence in general, but added that “The status quo of occupation and humanitarian crisis in Gaza is unsustainable.”

Ilhan Omar

@IlhanMN

How many more protesters must be shot, rockets must be fired, and little kids must be killed until the endless cycle of violence ends?

The status quo of occupation and humanitarian crisis in Gaza is unsustainable. Only real justice can bring about security and lasting peace.

One of the democratic representatives who stood by Israel is Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema who tweeted “I condemn the rocket attacks on innocent civilians and stand in support of Israel and peace.”

Kyrsten Sinema

@SenatorSinema

Innocent civilians and stand in support of Israel and peace.

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez also spoke in favor of Israel, saying that “The United States will not waver in standing with Israel and its people.”

The Jerusalem Post reported last month that a Gallup poll in March showed a 6% drop in support for Israel within the Democratic Party, and that a 2018 poll found that only 49% of Democrats sympathize more with Israel than with the Palestinians.

 

Steinitz: To get rid of Hamas, we have to conquer Gaza 

May 6, 2019

Source: Steinitz: To get rid of Hamas, we have to conquer Gaza – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

Politicians have reacted to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision of a ceasefire following two days of continued rocket attacks that left 4 Israelis dead and 234 injured.

BY ILANIT CHERNICK
 MAY 6, 2019 12:31
Steinitz: To get rid of Hamas, we have to conquer Gaza

He made the comments following the decision of a ceasefire during the early hours of Monday morning. Four Israelis were killed and 234 others injured as 690 rockets pummeled the South of the country.

Steinitz said that such action was “a possible step, but it will exact a very heavy price.”

He added that the Israeli attacks on Sunday night were at the highest level, saying that they were just as powerful as those during the 2014 Gaza war. “We brought down buildings after 50 days, and here we did it within a day.”

Opposition leader Benny Gantz has criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to agree to a ceasefire with Hamas in Gaza.

“Almost 700 were launched into Israeli territory, many casualties and injuries and four deaths – all of which result from the loss of deterrence – end with further surrender to the extortion of Hamas and the terrorist organizations,” he said on Twitter. “All that the government did, once again, is delay the next campaign.”

“We expect that if the hostilities are renewed, the response will be severe, and if quiet is maintained, it will be used to promote a genuine political process that will lead to the return of the bodies of our dead and missing persons and to ensure long-term stability and stability,” Gantz added.

The Blue and White leader also sent his condolences to the families who lost loved ones during the violence and wished those injured a full recovery.

Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar also criticized Netanyahu’s decision. He tweeted that “the ceasefire, under the circumstances in which it was achieved, is not an achievements for Israel.”

He said that “the time-lapses between each of the violent attacks on Israel and its citizens are getting shorter, and the terrorist organizations in Gaza are growing stronger.”

Following his comments, sources in the Likud said Sa’ar “just wants to bring Netanyahu down.”

Blue and White number 2 Yair Lapid said that Netanyahu is using the residents of the south as a flak jacket “on the way to total surrender to Hamas.”

“Netanyahu will not solve the problem in Gaza,” he tweeted. “He does not have the operational and political courage to do so. The minimum he has to do is to explain to the citizens of Israel the situation, but even that, he does not have the courage to do so.”

Labor leader Avi Gabbay welcomed the ceasefire, however, he said that Netanyahu has strengthened Hamas, and he has also begun to strengthen Islamic Jihad.

“After 20 years Netanyahu has strengthened Hamas – the release of [assassinated Hamas leader Ahmed] Yassin, the Shalit deal, the Qatari money and more. This year, he also began to strengthen the Islamic Jihad, which settled for negotiations in Cairo as an equal partner, without a long-term political solution.”

He added that “the next round [of violence] is only a matter of time.”

Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi said that ceasefire was a “serious mistake.”

“We [southern residents] are in a difficult situation…because our values ​​have become confused,” he said. “The soldiers should be at the front and not the civilians. At last we see that it is possible to return to the assassination policy, and I am happy that it happened but yesterday.”

However, Likud MK Avi Dichter said that “Hamas and Islamic Jihad understand very well the price they are paying… Hamas has seen very well what has been happening…in the last few days – especially in the last 24 hours when the IDF has stepped up its attacks.”

 

Israel and the Arab world 71 years on 

May 6, 2019

Source: Israel and the Arab world 71 years on – www.israelhayom.com

Once a weak and isolated country in the Middle East, Israel is now a central player and desirable ally in the Arab world.

But against the background of all of this, a dramatic revolution is now underway. Seventy years after its establishment, Israel is a powerful regional player, and more importantly a legitimate and accepted country and even a desired ally in the eyes of the Arab arena. Israel has peaceful ties with some of its neighbors, and has even, in the form of an undeclared ally, established strategic relations, in particular on issues of security but also economic matters with additional Arab countries.

This revolution is the result of the bolstering of Israel’s regional and international standing and of course its military and economic growth at home. But it is also a reflection of the changing face of the Middle East and in particular the sunset of Arab nationalism and the weakening of the Arab states in relation to the strengthening of Iran and Turkey. Iran’s threatening shadow and quite possibly the challenge presented by Turkey have pushed Israel and the Arab states to cooperate. After all, in light of Washington’s retreat from the region, Israel has been left at the forefront of the struggle against Iran. The determination it has shown in the face of Tehran’s efforts to establish itself militarily in Syria have scored Israel points in the eyes of its Arab neighbors, and in particular among Gulf Arab states that feel under threat from the ayatollahs.

These trends have sidelined the Palestinian issue, which was always seen as an obstacle to any attempt to promote Israel-Arab ties. To be honest, this question remains important, and may even constitute a glass ceiling of sorts to efforts to establish peaceful relations between Israel and its neighbors. But the Arab regimes have succeeded in maneuvering between their peoples’ commitment to the fate of the Palestinians and the interests pushing their countries toward improving ties with Israel.

The alliance between Israel and its neighbors is now focused on the Iranian threat, but it could expand to other issues. Israel and the Arabs share many common interests, like the struggle against radical Islam and the advancement of the regional economy. Israel’s security cooperation with Greece and Cyprus and the formal institutionalization of the economic relationship between these countries and Egypt are a testament to the ability to expand the array of relationships and alliances beyond strategic issues and even beyond the Middle Eastern arena.

Israel is also working to advance ties with countries like Azerbaijan in Central Asia and Ethiopia, Kenya and Chad in Africa. But this renewed “alliance of the periphery” is completely different from the alliances Israel established in the late 1950s with Iran and Turkey against then-Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. This time, Israel is the axis around which the alliance revolves.

These trends are an expression of Israel’s transformation from a marginal and weak player ostracized by the Arab world to a powerful country and desirable ally. This too is one of the markers of Israel’s upcoming 71st Independence Day.

 

Things have to change

May 6, 2019

Source: Things have to change – www.israelhayom.com

A 10th escalation is too much. It is time for the prime minister to live up to his obligation to the residents of Gaza border communities and the citizens of Israel as a whole.

The citizens of Israel are paying a bitter price for the last 18 years of an absence of a policy on the Gaza Strip and the “containment” approach to the events of the past year.

As deterrence erodes in the face of rocket fire, arson balloons, and terrorism along the border fence, Hamas is raising its head. It is expanding its rocket fire to communities far from the border and lobbing insane barrages at the Israel-Gaza frontier. All this is taking place at a sensitive time for Israel, when the country wants quiet more than anything: Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism, Independence Day, and the Eurovision song competition. Hamas knows it.

If the decision-makers had meted out an unequivocal response a year ago, or a year and a half ago, when the border incidents began, this wouldn’t be our reality now. For a year, we near the border issued repeated warnings: “Today, it’s us – tomorrow, it will be you.” And “you” doesn’t just refer to residents of Ashdod and Kiryat Gat, but to all the citizens who are now getting excited for the Eurovision.

Terrorist attacks against residents of the Gaza border communities began more than a year ago. Since then, an entire region of the country has become the victim of a terrorist organization that is extorting our entire nation. This equation has to change.

This is a region that played a historic role in the founding of the state. A part of the country whose pioneer elderly were the ones that laid down the country’s borders. This past year, they have seen their grandchildren and great-grandchildren exhausted by terrorism. This reality has gone on for 18 years straight and increased over the past year.

Israel cannot allow it to go on. We must change it. We have been patient, we trusted the decision-makers’ considerations and allow them to explore various ways of restoring quiet throughout the area. A 10th escalation is too much. It’s time to act bravely and daringly to bring about a change.

The prime minister received a mandate for another four years in office from us, the citizens of Israel. I am calling on him to honor that mandate and live up to his obligation to us.

 

The cost problem of Iron Dome, and the solution 

May 6, 2019

Source: The cost problem of Iron Dome, and the solution – www.israelhayom.com

Iron Dome saves lives, but every interceptor fired costs some $80,000. Cheaper laser-based alternatives exist that can eradicate threats from multiple rocket barrages.

In the past 24 hours alone, hundreds of rockets and mortars have been fired from the Gaza Strip at cities and communities in southern and central Israel. Hundreds of Iron Dome interceptor missiles have been launched to down them, and in many cases saved lives. Nevertheless, Iron Dome cannot provide hermetic protection on its own, and the casualties and wounded in this latest round of escalation are proof of that.

The cost of a single Iron Dome interception is about $80,000. The cost of the batteries themselves and their operation is also high. If we need to use the David’s Sling system or Arrow 2 missiles, the average cost of a single interception will jump to about $2 million.

It takes a long time to rebuild the supply of interceptor missiles because it the manufacturing process is relatively slow. On the other hand, the terrorist groups use rockets that are manufactured quickly, at a negligible cost. In effect, our enemies currently have such large stockpiles of firepower that they can handle a long war without resupplying.

Using the expensive Iron Dome missiles to intercept massive quantities of cheap rockets and barrages of mortars is economically inefficient, even though it effectively takes down most of the rockets that pose a danger to human life.

Given all this, an effective solution would be to upgrade our defenses against rockets and missiles with a system based on a laser cannon. We should consider it.

Let’s look at the numbers. The cost of an interception using laser rays is only about $2,000 – some 2% of the cost of an Iron Dome interception, and a fraction of the cost of an interception using David’s Sling or the Arrow 2.

However, do such efficient systems exist? Northrop Grumman offered us the SkyGuard system, which was developed at Israel’s request and with U.S. research and funding, 12 years ago. The system was designed to facilitate affordable and logistically efficient answers to massive onslaughts of rockets and mortars. It could be made operational in two to three years. In effect, it could already be operational if the IDF had made the decision to acquire it.

Eight of these systems, which intercept any threat within 25 seconds, could block everything fired from the Gaza Strip, including mortars and all types of rockets – even long-range ones – immediately after they are launched. If every launching area is covered by three of these systems, each one could take down about seven threats simultaneously, and it would be possible to intercept a barrage of up to 24 rockets at once.

Using this system in conjunction with Iron Dome could eradicate all low-level threats and would eliminate the need for immense financial outlay on attacking Gaza, as well as allow residents of southern Israel to go about their day-to-day lives.

The situation on the northern front, against Hezbollah, is much worse. Defense and security officials think that in the next war with Lebanon, some 2,000 rockets and missiles will be fired at Israel daily, some of which will have precision capabilities. In a scenario like that, we could expect hundreds of direct hits per day of fighting. Therefore, we need to do everything possible to equip ourselves with SkyGuard.

Eli Bar-On is an economist who specializes in analysis of defense systems and performance research.

Eli Meron is a physicist and chemist and a former senior official in the Israeli defense establishment.