"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

New York

Gaza's New Residents

From the Weekly Standard.

The border incident, initiated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, allowed some otherwise unwelcome guests to enter Gaza. The Bethlehem-based Maan news agency quoted Hamas sources as estimating the number of Arab men who had entered the Gaza Strip as new residents at 2,000. Many of these men, according to Egyptian sources, toured a number of Hamas-affiliated training bases and security installations and expressed their desire to remain in the Gaza Strip and launch attacks against Israel. Some
of the men, according to Arab sources, had recently fled from Iraq, where they had been carrying out attacks against U.S. troops.

So, Al Qaeda in Iraq forces have entered Gaza in force. While Al Qaeda has had members in Gaza for some time, it now appears they have entered Gaza in force.

One thing is certain. No matter where Al Qaeda has hanged its hat, it manages to alienate the populous. Not only does Al Qaeda indiscriminantly kill innocent infidels, but they also indiscriminantly kill innocent Muslims who do not follow strict salafist ways.

While Hamas' shares extreme violence with Al Qaeda, Palestinians in general are not strict salafists. They enjoy smoking, music, television, and the like. Al Qaeda's presence in Gaza is sure to turn many Palestinian noses.

It will be interesting to see how this situation develops. Palestinians have always supported Al Qaeda since it has attacked the US and Israel. Now that Al Qaeda is in Gaza in force, it is sure to begin attacking Palestinians. It will be nice for them to get a taste of their own medicine.

For a full read, click here.

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Geopolitics of Gaza

From The Terror Wonk.

The Terror Wonk provides a different perspective on the "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza brought about by the Israeli blockade and subsequent destruction of the border wall with Egypt.

In the coverage of the breach of the Gaza border, the focus has been on the increased threat to Israel. While there is little question that terrorists will acquire new capabilities and use them against Israel, their gaze may turn to a nearby but softer target.

In his memoirs Knights under the Prophet’s Banner: Meditations on the Jihadist Movement, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri observed:

The problem of finding a secure base for jihad activity in Egypt used to occupy me a lot, in view of the [activity against us] by the security forces and because of Egypt’s flat terrain, which made government control easy, for the River Nile runs in its narrow valley between two deserts that have no vegetation or water. Such a terrain made guerilla warfare in Egypt impossible…

Many folks see the destruction of the border wall between Egypt and Gaza as a response to the recent Israeli blockade. However, this is an incorrect inference. The wall was cut with torches and then explosive charges were strategically set along the wall which resulted in almost two-thirds of a 12km section coming down.

As shown in this photo, provided by Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty, this was a large, synchronized, deliberately planned operation by Hamas, not something that could have been done in a few days. Instead, a better inference would be that the current crisis was a manufactured by Hamas. For its part, Hamas played Israel perfectly in this crisis and won unhindered access to Egypt as a result.

Hamas used Israel's targeting on militants as stepping stone to start the crisis. Hamas begin to bombard Israel with a multitude of rocket. Israel in turn started a blockade. Knowing Israel's response, Hamas sought international sympathy by playing up a "humanitarian crisis" happening in Gaza as a result of the blockade. At the height of the Israeli blockake, Hamas brought the wall down, not only effectively ending the blockade, but also opening a new, porous border with Egypt as shown in the photo below (courtesy of the BBC).

The Terror Wonk provides the reasoning for Hamas' action.

However, a new base of operations against Egypt could have vast geopolitical implications. Egypt has a fragile economy, frustrated populace with a large Islamist movement, and an aging leadership. There have already been terror attacks in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula with Gaza links. Even if the regime is not overthrown, HISH [Hezbollah-Iran-Syria-Hamas] will acquire substantial leverage over Egypt, and further the penetration of radical Islam into the largest Arab state, while acquiring a staging ground into the Maghreb, sub-Saharan Africa, and beyond.

For a full read, click here.

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Egypt jittery over Israeli Gaza proposal

From Yahoo/AP.

The Gaza border crisis caused another sharp flap Thursday in Egyptian-Israeli relations, with Egypt angrily accusing Israel of trying to dump all responsibility for the troubled Gaza Strip in its lap.

The idea expressed in this article is intriguing.

For a full read, click here.

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Gaza's power shortage worse than expected

From Haaretz.

Gaza City was dark Sunday night after the Hamas government shut down the Palestinian power plant that supplies some of the electricity in the Strip.

Hamas spokesmen blamed Israel for the power shortage following the closure of the border crossings through which fuel for the power plant is brought into Gaza, but Israel said it is providing 75 percent of Gaza's electricity and Egypt is providing another 5 percent.

Nonetheless, security officials said Sunday night that the electrical supply difficulties in Gaza were greater than Israel had previously thought. They said the fuel supply to Gaza was tens of percent less than planned, a problem exacerbated by the closure.

For a full read, click here.

Ok. Let's calculate this out. Israel supplies 75% and Egypt supplies 5% for a total of 80% of the power needs of Gaza. Due to closures of the Gaza crossing, fuel supplies were 10% less or 70%. Given 24 hours in a day, then Gazans should be without power for 7.2 hours assuming constant usage. Spike usage (i.e. more power used during the day when people are awake) would possibly increase this time.

However, when power was disrupted,

Four hours after the blackout, Hamas said that five patients died because of the cutoff of electricity in hospitals.

Two factors make me suspect this fact.

1. If Hamas knew they were running out of fuel in their main plant, why did they not cut power to certain parts of Gaza to be certain that emergency services would still have fuel?

2. I thought all hospitals had back up generators. Could not Hamas ensured fuel to hospitals to prevent the loss of life?

Hamas failed to do the two critical things that every responsible government does to ensure the safety of its people.

This brings forth the following conclusions.

1. Hamas is not a responsible government.

2. Hamas is not concerned about the safety of its people.

3. Hamas is a bunch of idiots.

4. Hamas is using the decrease in fuel shipments to further its political goals.

While I truly believe number one and two are correct, I certainly do not believe number three. If Hamas wanted to save the five people who died, it would have done so.

For Hamas, what is the death of five Palestinians if it can blame these deaths on Israel, even though it could have prevented them.

For Hamas it is political advantage. For Israel, it is a grave concern in which they are now questioning if their methods (note, this article is from Haaretz, an Israeli news outlet) leads to death. For a Christian, it is murder, a mortal sin.

Two groups of people are truly concerned about these five deaths, Jews and Christians. Hamas is only concerned about the political advantage. However, Khaled Mashaal is apparently concerned.

The plea was rare show of emotion for the hard-line Khaled Mashaal, who lives in exile in Damascus, Syria. (emphasis added)

That's right, Khaled Mashaal lives in Sryia where he is not experiencing these power outages. This fact brings me to another point. Gaza was turned over to Palestinians. Hamas waged a coup and now controls all of Gaza. Why is Khaled Mashaal still in exile if his party is in complete control of Gaza? Could it be that Khaled Mashaal is happy where he is as opposed to living among his people he is helping to kill. I am sorry, I meant his people he is helping to liberate.

Things that make you go, "Hmmmm".

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Israel flattens Hamas ministry in Gaza Strip

From Yahoo via Reuters.

Israel bombed the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza and closed border crossings with the strip on Friday, sharply escalating what it called a campaign to halt Palestinian rocket attacks.

The story continues noting even though the building was empty, one woman was killed and 30 were wounded and cites, "medical officials, but does not give names, but it then follows with specific source form Umm Fahmi.

"It felt like an earthquake," said Umm Fahmi, a woman who lives across from the blast site.

"My house did not only shake, it jumped from its foundations and back down. How could they drop such a bomb in a residential area on top of people's heads?" she said, peering through the dust at the concrete and steel remains of the security complex.

After noting the another building was damaged, calling it the "so-called naval headquarters", the story notes 33 Palestinians were killed this week in Gaza the story continues,

"This is part of our response to Qassam (rocket) fire against Israel," the spokeswoman said.

The Interior Ministry oversees Hamas-controlled government forces in Gaza, but not the group's armed wing. The armed wing claimed responsibility for most rocket salvoes since Tuesday, when Israel killed 18 Palestinians, mostly Hamas militants.

Again, we have an exact figure of the number of Paliestinians killed. In addition, we have the reporting validating the building is not used by the Hamas' armed wing without even citing a source. What is missing in this whole article is the number of rockets fired at Israel.

One has to go to another completely different article to find this number. On Thrusday, nearly 40 rockets were fired on Thursday bringing the total for the week to over 100. On Friday, an additional 30 prior to this response by Isreal.

My point being is this article is extremely biased. It cites that a total of 33 Palestinian were killed, states a woman was killed and 30 were wounded. It cites medical sources, but does not offer the name of the hospital or medical officials. It accepts that the building was the Interior Minister's building, but then notes it is not used by Hamas' armed wing (with no citation), and then labels the naval headquarters building the "so called naval headquarters". It also has a human interest portion from Umm Fahmi.

It lacks citing in the last week approximately 130 rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip or the fact that many landed next to a school for kindergartners. Where is the human interest point from the Israeli perspective. Finally, the story start with how Israel is escalating the crisis.

I'm sorry, who fired the 130-ish rockets in the last week causing a response. It certainly wasn't Israel.

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Israeli Abuse Of Palestinians Rampant

Iran Daily has a story about abuses committed against Palestinians at the hands of Israeli forces. Specifically,

One in four of Israeli troops serving at the hundreds of checkpoints across the occupied West Bank have engaged in or witnessed abuse of innocent Palestinians, an army-commissioned survey said on Sunday.

A full 25% of IDF Soldiers have apparently engaged in or witness abuse, physical or verbal according to a survey commissioned several months ago by the commander of Israel’s central command. Quoting a senior military officer, the article continues,

"We knew there was a problem, but we never imagined it was this grave."

This article leads me to a few questions/comments.

1. Israel's central command, realizing there may be a problem, commissioned a survey to see if suspected abuse did in fact occur. They obviously commissioned the report to confirm or deny abuses and the extent of abuses. The only reason to do this would be to know how to prevent or limit such abuses in the future.

2. The article does not state the extent of verbal abuse vice physical abuse, but I would assume that verbal abuse was more prevalent.

3. I have never seen an article from the Palestinian Authority commissioning a survey of abuse of Israelis at the hands of Palestinian officials. If they did commission one, the PA would probably be shocked that only 25% of PA officials witnessed or engaged in abuses against Israelis.

Just some thoughts.

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Jordan's Abdullah: PA gov't must adhere to Quartet conditions

Haaretz, has text of an interview with King Abdullah of Jordan which Israel's Channel 2 will air today. In it King Abdullah states,

There's international common ground - not just Western but also Arab and to an extent Muslim - that believe that there have to be certain criteria that the new government has to accept if we're going to move the process forward

He further explains,

It's not just ... the international players, but also the Arab countries are also expecting the new Palestinian government to adhere to the policies that we have set out in the Quartet, and in the Arab Quartet also

So, not only does Russia, the EU, the UN, and the US believe Palestinians must recognize Israel, renounce violence, and abide by interim peace deals, but King Abdullah is also saying that Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates expect the Palestinians adhere to these conditions too.

The Palestinians now have two major Quartets pushing for them to recognize Israel, renounce violence, and abide by interim peace deals. It will be interesting to see how this push against the Palestinians plays out now that they are being threatened by not only western governments, but also major Arab governments.

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