Hamas Capabilities Catching up with Intentions; UPDATE: VIDEO OF IRON DOME IN ACTION

Antitank missiles and convergence.

It might have been easy to miss this detail in the report of the Hamas attack on an Israeli school bus on 7 April, in which a 13-year-old boy and the bus driver were injured (the boy severely).  Hamas used a state-of-the-art Russian-design antitank missile, the 9M133 Kornet (NATO designation AT-14 SPRIGGAN), to attack the bus.  Israeli officials confirmed that the hit on the school bus was achieved using laser guidance, and that the missile was launched from two miles away.

The account of the attack indicates that the bus was stopped (and had just offloaded most of its 50 schoolchildren, which was why more of them weren’t injured).  So Hamas wasn’t attempting to hit a moving target. But the ability to accurately target a bus from a distance of two miles, with an effective modern weapon, is a game-changer in the Hamas campaign to target civilians.

With older weapons and planted-bomb tactics, the effects Hamas could produce were more random and less predictable.  Lobbing rockets indiscriminately into southern Israel is certainly evidence of evil intentions, but the probability of achieving specific or catastrophic damage with any individual round was low.  Mortars can be delivered with useful accuracy, but they are not missiles capable of guided flight toward a target, which amplifies the destructive effect that can be achieved for the same amount of explosive.  Bomb planting requires extensive advance planning and is not a pursuit tactic; it doesn’t adapt to changing conditions, but rather is tied to a place, and a tactical objective that is at least hours old when the bomb detonates, and usually something more like weeks old.

The difference the Kornet antitank guided missile (ATGM) makes, particularly with the laser guidance package, is that it puts accuracy, effectiveness, tactical adaptability, and standoff distance behind the vicious intentions which perennially characterize Hamas.

Implications of the Kornet ATGM

The conventional military applications are obvious.  In December 2010, the IDF chief briefed the Knesset that an Israeli Merkava III tank in southern Israel had been hit by a Kornet ATGM fired from Gaza, which appears to be the first reported instance of the weapon’s use by Hamas.  Hezbollah used the Kornet extensively in the Lebanon war in 2006, and Israel is fitting its tanks with the Trophy Active Protection System (APS) to combat the growing ATGM threat. This report, citing IDF sources, indicates that a Trophy-equipped Merkava IV defeated an ATGM (of unspecified type, but probably a Kornet) launched from Gaza in March 2011.

But the threat to the civilian population can’t be mitigated in this way.  An ATGM is not the kind of weapon Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system can counter; Iron Dome is designed to intercept short-range rockets and battlefield ballistic missiles with higher trajectories.

Iron Dome works too: second IDF “first” in the space of a few weeks

Which it did yesterday, achieving a historic first by intercepting its first rocket during the 3-hour barrage from Gaza.  (Worth another post in itself.)  The rocket-and-mortar threat remains highly active; it was reactivated in the last few weeks with a barrage level not seen since before Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in December 2008-January 2009.  In a repetition of a common terrorist practice, observed from the Gaza border to Afghanistan, the Hamas artillery detachment made sure to subject the paramedics working at the scene of the bus attack to mortar fire as well.

But the introduction of the Kornet ATGM represents an even harder-to-defend threat to the civilian population. Israel enforces a 300-meter buffer zone along the border inside Gaza, but the maximum range of the Kornet is 5500 meters.  This situation will become unsustainable at some point.

The converging campaigns Israel faces

A flashpoint may be helped along by the convergence of other anti-Israel plans: an organized call for a “Third Intifada” this spring (see here and here for a sample of posts on the campaign to get the Facebook page taken down) and the next Gaza flotilla being organized by the Turkish terrorist group IHH.  Both are intended to occur in May 2011; the “Third Intifada” is billed as being launched with a “march to Palestine” starting 15 May.

I would emphasize that these are separate plans by multiple groups; there may be an element of competition in their execution, which would complicate Israel’s defense strategy.  Hamas is aligned with Iran, and the planning for the Gaza flotilla is developing along much the same lines as last year’s, which featured extensive participation by Hamas associates in Europe.  (See here, here, and here for sample documentation of the usual suspects; see also the website of this US group, which is planning to deploy the M/V Audacity of Hope.)

Turkey’s IHH group, recognized by foreign intelligence agencies as having terror ties, is deeply involved with the upcoming Gaza flotilla, as it was with the one in 2010.  Besides its extensive ties to Hamas, IHH endorses and supports radical extremists among former (and self-described current) members of Fatah, like this one

Fatah, which leads the PA, has its own vision for a “Palestinian” end-state, one that does not include a leadership role for Hamas or Iran.  There is no obvious overt-sponsorship connection between Fatah and the “Third Intifada” effort, which is apparently Sunni Arab in origin.  Indeed, many politically active Arabs view Fatah and the PA as corrupt and ineffective.  But there is a substantial Arabist contingent across the Middle East that may approve of Hamas trying to weaken Israel, but opposes the Iran-Hezbollah-Hamas nexus.

The PA’s plan, meanwhile, is to directly seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state in 2011.  Only a fool would suppose that a condition of such recognition by the UN General Assembly will be good behavior on the part of Fatah (or Hamas or Iran, for that matter) in the interim.

The bottom line for Israel, as things look today, is that there are multiple groups pursuing different but converging campaigns. That situation will be harder to deal with than one in which there is a more unified enemy.  Hamas’s particular objective appears to be drawing Israel into concerted military action – perhaps an operation in Gaza like Cast Lead.  With Hamas now able to target civilians with lethal accuracy from beyond the 300-meter buffer zone, the stakes and the opportunities for provocation have escalated significantly.

UPDATE: The Muqata has Israeli video of Iron Dome taking out a Qassam rocket.

J.E. Dyer blogs at The Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions” and as The Optimistic Conservative.  She writes a weekly column for Patheos.

39 thoughts on “Hamas Capabilities Catching up with Intentions; UPDATE: VIDEO OF IRON DOME IN ACTION”

  1. In the coming war with Hamas, Israel should observe the principle of proportionality: they should not risk a single civilian life beyond what is absolutely necessary to ensure they utterly extirpate Hamas from the Gaza strip–no less thoroughly than the Nazis were extirpated from Germany. But no more, either.

    1. The “extirpation” of the Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto is surely a more appropriate analogy for what you suggest. After all, the Nazis “excused” the large number of non-combatants killed in the Warsaw Ghetto on the impossibility of distinguishing between “terrorists” or “irregulars” (As the Nazis would have called them) and civilians generally in a besieged ghetto.

      1. If you say so. Of course, the Nazis were planning to kill everyone in the Ghetto anyway, but why quibble? By now, I work under the assumption that arguing with those blinded by hatred to Israel (and the Nazi analogy is a sure sign) is silly. It’s best to assume that their hatred blinds them in ways that ultimately renders their hatred ineffective. As long as Israel understands it needs to destroy Hamas (and then, with much more difficulty, Hezbollah), you can call them Nazis. As the saying has, the caravan moves on.

        1. The logic of your argument then is that, short of actually shipping the Jews off to Treblinka, the dispossession, humiliation, and ghettoization of the Jews by the Nazis was OK!

          Sorry, I don’t buy that.

          1. The logic of my argument is that that analogizing Jews to Nazis aims at justifying the genocide of the Jews. At least for Western defenders of the Palestinians. For the Palestinians themselves, Nazism serves quite well to justify the genocide of the Jews. To each his own.

  2. We should ask Judge Goldstone whether or not the Hamas operative who made the tactical decision to use this weapon “intended” to injure the two victims as a “matter of policy”. I mean, we haven’t heard from the man himself. We also need to consider whether the use of a “Kornet” was a “justifiable tactical option” in the circumstances.

    There are further questions we need answers to. Why didn’t the Hamas operative consider using a flechette-round or white phosphorous, or even dime munitions? After all, apologists of “cast lead” seem to consider these delights of the munitions industry perfectly valid options for operations in urban areas where a civilian presence might be expected.

    I wonder too did Hamas attempt to obstruct the removal by ambulance of the two unfortunate children to hospital like the Israelis did in Gaza? And I would expect the Hamas operative who committed this crime to suffer a punishment proportionate to that which will (no doubt, if Goldstone’s expections of the Israelis are met) be meted out to the Israeli officer who killed an entire Palestinian family. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to draw an equivalence between these two unfortunate children and the 350+ little Palestinian untermenschenettes who purposly had themselves flechetted and incinerated in Gaza. God forbid.

    (Incidentally, contrary to what the Opticon contended, Goldstone did not retract or deny any of the substantive findings of his report. He merely said that his accusations that the Israelis “intentionally” targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure “as a matter of policy”, were unproven (The three other members of his team, disagreed). He did not question the findings of the report that the IDF obstructed ambulances trying to assist the injured, or that they used Palestinians as human shields. He also said he was premature in accusing the Israelis of failing to co-operate with his inquiry. Given that we have yet to see any of the IDF operatives who are accused of crimes (Goldstone has found, and not denied) face justice, I must express some scepticism of his optimism on this point.
    As the other three members of the Goldstone team have pointed out, in the US and other civilized places, one is presumed to ahve intended the natural and probable consequences of one’s actions (Viz the use of flechette and phosphorous munitions, and, indeed, Kornets, in civilian areas)

    Of course, the Israelis attempted to exclude the press from Gaza so that they could go about their business without independent witnesses. The gutless US media complied with this embargo. Fortunately, the Arab and European media had more backbone.
    For those who wish to see an impartial analysis of Goldstone’s ‘volte-face’ – (and a rare and courageous exception to the reluctance of the US media to print anything even mildly critical of Israel)- there is a wonderful op-ed piece by Roger Cohen (normally a staunch defender of the Israelis) in yesterday’s (04/08/2011) New York Times. I would commend it to readers who have swallowed the campaign to discredit the Goldstone report.

  3. One of the advantages of a traditional approach to foreign policy is that it simplifies: Hamas is Israel’s declared enemy, determined to destroy it. Over time, left alone, they will obtain more and more of the means that might make that possible. Therefore, Israel will have to destroy Hamas first, if it ever wants safety. All the other considerations–what weapons to use, how to balance the risk of civilian casualties vs. the risk of not finishing the job, managing world opinion, what levers internal to Palestinian society might be employed–come second, third and fourth, and can best be addressed in terms of what answer will best serve the primary goal. And we Americans simply need to decide which is our friend, and which our enemy–and all the other considerations can be addressed within that framework.

    The disadvantages of an approach to foreign policy or world politics that fantasizes some international tribunal, before whom all facts are laid and investigated in an impartial manner is that it is enormously wasteful because incredibly complex if you actually think it through. So, Israel might be said, under certain interpretations of international law, to have committed some war crimes; and that claim needs to be ascertained by a range of (mostly self-appointed) international authorities, and then, presumably factored in to the foreign policies of many states (how to weigh this number and gravity of war crimes against the advantages gained by good relations with Israel, or the inconveniences involved in doing anything about it, plus the domestic considerations involved in this weighing). And then these foreign policies would have to get factored into specific decisions, always buffeted by unpredictable events. (At least nothing ever gets done this way.)

    So, Israel used flechettes instead of some other weapon, which would have had other effects, on both civilians and the terrorist fighters. From this it follows that…Israel is very, very bad. There’s a simplicity here as well, of course, disguised behind the apparent complexity of weighing various sources and norms and recourses in a judicious manner: since Israel is very, very bad, anything that anyone does to strike back at Israel is very, very good. The more it strikes back, the better. The argument establishing Israel’s international criminality has a single purpose: to release Israel’s enemies from any moral restraints. And, if you look at Israel’s enemies, no other argument will do.

    1. What particular “moral restraints” do you think should apply to a people who are being subjected to a medieval siege in Gaza, and whose farmland, homes, and water on the West Bank is being stolen from under them without their having any recourse to law, or any non-violent option to protect themselves against their dispossession?

      The British managed to observe “proportionality” in dealing with the IRA insurgency in Northern Ireland (The IRA were far more deadly and effective than hapless Hamas). They didn’t use flechettes and white phosphorous or battlefield weaponary to clear the IRA out of the Catholic enclaves that sheltered them. But then, the Brits are a civilized people like you and me.

      1. Not blowing themselves up on buses, in cafes and discos, for starters.

        But I’m glad to see we have reached some agreement: you do contend that that, if the goal is to punish and ultimately destroy Israel, moral restraints can be lifted. But it’s OK, because the morality no longer applied to Israel’s enemies will be applied double to Israel, so it all evens out.

        1. No, it doesn’t all “even out”. The stealing and killing (particularly of children) is all one way traffic.

          The reality is that Israel denies by its actions the right of the Palestinians either to a viable state of their own or the alternative of legal equality and protection within the state of Israel. The real objective of the Israelis is to play along with the notion of Palestinian statehood while progressivly stealing the land which would make it viable or possible. At the same time they are destroying the civilian infrastructure – particularly the schools and hospitals and civil infrastructure – which allows for civilized existence and hope for a better future for the Arabs of Palestine. Their policies specifically are intended to ensure that anyone with personal ambition or leadership potential is forced to emmigrate. Finally, the Israelis periodically beat-up on the the Palestinians with armed raids and round-ups to keep the pot of anger well stirred so that they can point out how violent and unreasonable the Palestinians are when they retaliate.
          The Israelis don’t want peace, they want the land (without the Palestinians).

          1. The Israelis want to be rid of the Palestinians–to not have to deal with them at all. They would be quite willing to accomplish that through a Palestinian state–as long as they could be reasonably sure that Palestinian territory won’t become a launch pad for the next war against Israel; and as long as hundreds of thousands of Israelis now living in East Jerusalem and its surrounding suburbs don’t have to be uprooted. Right now, having despaired of any political agreement which might lead to this result, the Israelis are hoping that economic development, at least on the West Bank, will gradually wean the Palestinians away from their addiction to violence. The Israelis have actually taken a rather patient, pragmatic, trial and error approach to the whole business, and have learned a few things along the way. I can’t say the same for the Palestinians, who show no signs of being able to run a state even if it were handed to them on a silver platter.

            1. Unfortunately, the evidence is all in the other direction. The ongoing robbery of land, homes, and water is hardly indicative of patience – unless it is the patience of creeping dispossession of the Palestinians. The addiction to violence is also a pretty one-sided deal. The Israelis have all the big guns, attack aircraft, flechettes and white-phosphorous. The disparate toll of casualties bears cruel witness as to which side is most addicted to violence.

              Finally, the recent leaks on Al Jezeera as to the respective concessions the Israelis and Palestinians were prepared to make in peace negotiations showed the Palestinians making all the concessions, and the Israelis seeking endless excuses to avoid peace and pursue the land-grab.

              If the Israelis actually want peace why don’t they just stop the stealing? The answer is simple. If they had peace they would have to stop the stealing.

              1. There is no way through all this thick hatred. In the end, it does more harm to the Palestinians than the Israelis–with voices through the entire world defending, valorizing, even romanticizing their intransigence, why should the Palestinians settle for the disappointment of daily life in a small, impoverished, poorly governed Third World mini-state? Better to be the cynosure of an international moral drama, in which Europe works through its guilt over colonialism and the Holocaust, and the Muslim world excuses its failures by splicing totalitarian Islam with retreads from those same European pathologies. All the Israelis can do here is protect themselves, and try to leave space for the emergence of new generations of Palestinians who want to be something other than to be a stick to beat the Jews with. In the meantime, the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank serves as a salutary reminder that time marches on–the deal the Palestinians reject today won’t be the deal they are offered next year, much less 10 years from now. In the end, if they ever manage to compose themselves sufficiently to be capable of dealing, they will take less then they can get now, or they will end up partly as Jordanians and partly as a minority in a larger Israel. That may turn out to be the best thing that could happen to them.

  4. The dispossession of the Palestinians should not be creeping. It should be sudden and it should follow the next act of war committed by the Palestinians against Israel. Taking your cornet (excuse me, Kornet) and launching ordnance into a sovereign nation is not just murder (or attempted murder if you can’t shoot straight), it is an act of war. (Yes, I know that’s what the US did to Libya; that’s why I urged caution and suggested that there be a provocation similar to what Israel endures daily.)

    If the intended victims are noncombatants, it is a war crime.

    The Palestinians should not get a free pass because Palestine technically is not a nation state, nor because the guy who touched off the rocket to kill school children is allowed to hide in the ostensibly civilian population.

    And in case you are wondering: No, I don’t concede that Israel has, as a matter of policy, attacked noncombatants. The results would be far different if they wanted to do that. They just won’t let the combatants get away because they are hiding behind skirts.

    1. —‘ The dispossession of the Palestinians should not be creeping. It should be sudden and it should follow the next act of war committed by the Palestinians against Israel’—

      sometimes you wrote things that are really off the wall.

      this one is worse than that.

      get a grip, Cuz

      1. Isn’t that what you risk if you start a war and lose, fuster?

        But I have not lost touch with reality. I know that the international community will save the Palestinians’ bacon and give them as many re-sets as they want.

        1. Vinnie, terrorist acts committed by a group such as Islamic Jihad constitute acts of war only if you believe that Islamic Jihad acts with the authority of the Palestinian people.

          Tell me how you define “the next act of war committed by the Palestinians against Israel”

          Who acts for the whole of the Palestinians?

          When a dozen West bank settlers shoot and kill a teenage Palestinian throwing rocks and then attack a Palestinian village, is that an act of war committed by Israel?

          1. Essentially, you have gven the Palestinians a free pass because they are not technically a nation state, even though they elected Hamas ini Gaza. They are using your exemption to the max.

            Since they do have operational control of their territory, however, they also have the responsibility to stop cross-border aggression. Would we sit still while people in Mexico shelled San Diego and the Mexican government refused to stop it? (OK, with the last couple of administrations that might not be a good example. How about Canadians laying artillery seige to Buffalo?)

            And the only reason I said the Palestinians would have to be displaced is that we all know that if they could be beaten into a formal surrender, it would be as deceitful as most everything else they do.

            1. Cuz, it’s a pretty hilariously silly misunderstanding to think that I’ve given them a free pass or to think that they’re enjoying one.
              A) they’re in a pretty lousy situation.

              B) they certainly don’t control ANY territory. Even in Gaza, it was never more than partial control.

              Beyond that, perhaps you should realize that the actions of terrorists are crimes and not really war except in the deluded eyes of fools thinking that shooting rockets randomly is an exercise in a “right to resistance”.

              And even that can not always be properly understood as being down on behalf of the Palestinians. Often the crimes committed are down on behalf of other parties, such as Iran or others, and carried out by people who know that they are harming Palestinian interests.

            2. I like the irony of the Mexican analogy.

              Say Mexico was a powerful state, armed to the teeth modern weapons. And say Texas was under military occupation by the Mexicans. And suppose Mexicans decided that God told them that the entirety of Texas was really theirs, and told them that they had a right to settle anywhere in Texas and appropriate the water and best land for themselves.
              Now suppose that in accordance with what “God” told them, the Mexicans started stealing land from the Texans, diverting the water for the Mexican settlers, and started pushing the Texans off the best land and into crowded enclaves cut off from their farmland. Oh yes, and the Texans had no recourse to legal means of upholding their property rights.
              Now, what do you think would be the reaction of the dispossessed Texans:

              1. Turn the other cheek and do nothing?
              2. Visit armed resistance and terror upon the occupying Mexicans and their land-stealing settlers by every possible means to hand?

              I know a few Texans, and I know which option they would choose. So why do you expect the Palestinians to act differently?

              We are Americans, and we are supposed to believe in the rights ennumerated in our Constitution – foremost among these is the right to enjoy our private property, free from molestation and forceable dispossession, and to have the law vindicate our rights and protect us from the armed robber and claim-jumper.

              1. “(The Palestinians) have the responsibility to stop cross border aggression”

                Not since the (unlamented) passing of the Nazis have the occupied been made responsible for the safety of the occupiers or its occupying citizens.

                Don’t you think that the Israelis have a primary obligation – to stop “cross-border” stealing of the land, homes, and water of the Palestinians? Or is your border yet another one-way deal against the Palestinians?

              2. and beside our Constitution we’re supposed to believe in the rule of law and the adjudication of grievance by peaceful methods.
                when the Palestinians took up arms to prevent the establishment of the state of Israel, they showed themselves to have a different understanding of how the world should work, Paulite.

                dispossession and occupation followed on the heels of a Palestinian decision to insist that they would fight to reverse the UN decision to partition the land.

                they chose to demand all. they went to war for all. their complaints that initiating and losing an all-or-nothing war left them with too little don’t pluck at everyone’s heartstrings.

              3. Gaza IS under occupation under the definition used in international law (This is the law written by us and our allies after WWII). Gaza is “free” in the same way that the Jewish-administered Warsaw Ghetto was “free”. (Just because the occupiers/besiegers allow the prisoners to run the prison camp doesn’t make the inmates free)

              4. Fuster:

                The Palestinians tried to resist the colonization of their land by foreigners from Europe. Unfortunately for them it was an unequal battle because they were poor and the colonists were funded (and armed) by money from Europe and the US.
                When it came to partition, the Palestinians weren’t even asked. It was a decision which was imposed on them from outside. It was a neat conscience-salve for the World after what the Nazis did to the Jews. Sadly it was the Palestinians, not the perpetrators, who had to pick up the tab. But the ragheads never mattered. Then, or now.
                But now, Israel is a legal fait-accompli and its Arab minority are second-class citizens in their own land with unequal protection for their lives, homes, and property.
                But I still haven’t heard a good reason for the Israeli land-grab outside the area the UN did not give to Israel.

  5. “Occupation” is some kind of weird talisman to the Left today–wave it around and all moral and political responsibility vanishes. The US occupied Germany and Japan for quite a few years; for that matter, the Israelis don’t occupy Gaza now (would rewriting all the slogans be too much trouble–is that why leftists still speak as if the Israelis were in Gaza?). Someone interested in the Palestinians’ own well being would tell them that since attacks on Israel serve no political or military purpose, but just bring reprisal, they do, indeed, have the responsibility to prevent them–in their own interest. More broadly, when you win territory in a war you have a few options: annex it; stay until you can ensure that harmless political leadership will be able to run it; leave before you have ensured for a safe transition and allow your enemies to prepare for war again. Which of these you do is not completely up to you, and if the losers want to be de-occupied it’s in their interest to ensure a political transition acceptable to the victor. Unless, of course, they don’t believe or accept that they have lost. And that may be the problem here–perhaps the problem won’t be solved until the Palestinians are convinced they’ve lost. But why should they ever be, when their friends in the “international community” promise unlimited political and moral reserves?

    Also, I’m pretty sure I know what the Texans would do, or demand be done if, all strained analogies aside, the Mexicans, or more realistically, some extremely powerful set of drug lords qua “rebels” started shelling Texas now. I suspect they would make the Israelis look like meek little doves.

  6. “Occupation” isn’t a talisman. It is a disaster and humiliation.

    The Israelis like to say that their creeping annexation of palestine is somthing to do with the Intifada. Rubbish! The land-grab long preceded the Intifada, and continues to this day. The plea that the land-grab is something to do with Israeli security is also nonsense. The several hundred thousand illegal settlers living on stolen land amidst the understandably enraged Arab population corralled in crowded enclaves while their best land has been stolen is Isreal’s biggest security problem. This is a security problem the Israelis have decided is worth the cost in pursuing their long-term aim of a “greater Israel”.

  7. Paulite , you don’t really know, or you misstate, the history of it. the palestinians didn’t have “their” land. They had a claim to the land that was owned by the Ottomans, then held by the British in trust.

    Their claim competed with another and the Pals were given most of the land, but refused to accept less than all of it. The “colonists” with which they elected to go to war, fought with their own money and arms, while the Pals fought with superior numbers from the Arab League and, initially, with superior arms.

    They live as non-citizens under occupation partially as a result of their own decisions and actions.

    1. Pardon me. And I foolishly believed if a person had title-deeds to their residence, and to the land they and their forbears had farmed for generations, that they own their land and have a right to peaceable occupation. The Israelis disregard the title-documents of palestinians in the West Bank – even those in occupation of their property. It allows its “settlers” seize private homes and farms belonging to non-jews. In rare cases where the Israeli courts deem such seizures illegal, the Israelis usually ignore the rulings of their own courts. In even rarer cases when the IDF moves to uphold such rulings, the violent settler-criminals apply a policy they call “The Price”. This means that these cowardly criminals, instead of resisting the IDF, exact a “price” from the local Palestinians in retaliation – they burn their olive-trees and crops, and poison their animals knowing the victims have no protection under the law, and they can do these things with impunity from any sanction.

      That is not the situation that prevails in free and civilized nations like the Western Democracies where the rule of law protects the property rights of all persons irrespective of race, creed, or colour.

      As a liberal (in the true meaning of the term) I believe that freedom is indivisible, and that true liberty cannot exist without economic freedom – including the protection of property rights without discrimination on the grounds of race or creed.

      As a Christian, I am unaware of any codicil to the 7th Commandment which excepts the property of Moslems or Arabs. Robbery is robbery. Robbery is wrong. It was wrong when the British did it to the Irish. It was wrong when the Nazis did it to the Jews, and it is wrong when the Israelis do it to the non-Jews in the West Bank.

      The seizure of Arab land from its private owners was ongoing and organized long before the war that followed the declaration of the state of Israel. If Arab families resist the stealing of their land they are labeled “terrorists” and their home is bulldozed. If they don’t, they lose their lands anyway. Some choice.

      1. you would be very foolish indeed to believe that title-deeds were common. you’re more likely to find leaseholds issued under Ottoman rule.

        1. Incorrect yet again. The British introduced an organized a system of land registration when they were the mandated authority. They issued title-deeds on the basis of available documentation and evidence of long occupation. They even set up a land-court to deal with title disputes.

          The Israelis recognize this documentation as evidence of the title of Jews but not of non-Jews when their land has been seized by Jews or by the Israeli state.

  8. The addiction of the Israel haters to Nazi analogies is fascinating. And, yet, the Gazans are left alone as long as they don’t shoot missiles into Israel. Why do they do that?

    Palestinians can have their own land in a Palestinian state, which they can hasten to establish in they choose to negotiate seriously with Israel. But, of course, they would need a new leadership for that. They might also need to become a different kind of people.

    Or, they can look forward to become a minority in Israel and Jordan, and prepare to negotiate the strongest position there. Either way, just about everything they are doing now is wrong.

    1. Wrong.

      Before hamas and rockets ever came on the scene, the Israelis seized and colonized the more fertile areas of Gaza, and the areas adjacent to the Israeli border, with Jewish settlements . The Gazans were removed from these areas. Subsequently, the rocket attacks and other forms of organized resistance began. When protecting the Jewish settlements became too much of a headache for the Israelis they pulled out their settlers and turned Gaza into a ghetto, beseiged and barracaded by land sea and air, and such dangerous goods as cement and schoolbooks embargoed by the Israelis.
      The Palestinians have tried to negotiate with Israel and the recent leaks to Al Jazeera show that they were willing to make all the concessions they had been requested by the US to make – including allowing Israel annex some of the illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land in Palestinian East Jerusalem. The same leaks showed Israel refusing to accept peace on any terms. And why would they? Peace would put an end to their land-grab.

      I don’t “hate” Israel. I am largely indifferent to this foreign ethnocracy. My only interest is that it ceases to damage the economic and strategic interests of the US (And it, along with all the other foreign countries that are doled by the US taxpayer, gets its paws out of our pockets)

      1. Hamas came to power after the Israelis removed their settlements; the details of the Israeli embargo can be debated, but they have a right and obligation to prevent a terrorist group dedicated to thewir destruction from arming itself.

        The “recent leaks” are meaningless–unreliable in provenance and in what they would reveal of the PA leadership’s intent, even if reliably transmitted. They are also irrelevant. No Palestinian leadership could be counted upon to keep any agreement it makes; or to survive if they did try to keep it. For Israel to make serious concessions under these conditions would be insane.

        Since all your comments are devoted to putting Israel in the dock and none to its consequences for US foreign policy, it’s hard to believe your current assertion of your priorities. Presumably, if US foreign policy is your main concern, and you see US-Israel ties as harmful to a reasonable policy, you would want to cut ties with Israel even if the Israelis were completely in the right. The effort into proving them wrong would be wasted–the better argument would be to show that it doesn’t matter either way.

        1. I am glad you agree that Hamas came to power AFTER the Israelis ghettoized and blockaded Gaza.
          The provenance of the leaks is known. The chief Palestinian negotiator resigned as a result of what was leaked by a member of his staff, and the Israelis have never denied the truth of the information that was leaked.
          As I understand it you believe that the Palestinians can never be trusted. If the Israelis believe this to be true, why are they pretending to negotiate with them? If they can never be trusted, why negotiate? (The answer is nothing to do with “trust”: the never-ending negotiations buy time for the land-grab)
          US policy should promote the interests of the US, not the interests of a foreign country. I never said that we should cut ties with Israel. However, if they take our tax-dollars they should observe our values and respect our demands that they stop stealing and settling the land of non-Jewish families in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

          Nothing you or any of the other defenders of this foreign country has said has provided a justification for the ongoing land grab of the homes, farms, and water-resources of non-Jews.

          I would have no interest in Israel if it were acting in concert with US interests; it wasn’t taking our money, and it wasn’t alweays going on about it being a “democracy” like the US and other Western nations. It sure ain’t anything like the US or the Western democracies.

          1. “As I understand it you believe that the Palestinians can never be trusted. If the Israelis believe this to be true, why are they pretending to negotiate with them? If they can never be trusted, why negotiate? (The answer is nothing to do with “trust”: the never-ending negotiations buy time for the land-grab)”

            One answer is because the Americans will never get off their backs if they don’t keep up the charade–but it’s possible that Barak, Livni and Olmert were/are delusional enough to believe in it–in other words, many Israelis may not believe what I believe.

            I don’t think the Israelis should remove property owning Palestinians from their land; I also think they should use state owned land for their own purposes; and I think they should protect individual Palestinians who want to sell their land to Israelis.

            You, on the other hand, haven’t articulated what you take to be the US interests in the region, and how Israel impairs or could advance those interests. Is it just their relation to the Palestinians? How would US interests be served by a Palestinian state, or some other arrangements?

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