A universe of beauty, mystery and wonder

A universe of beauty, mystery and wonder

Thursday, August 14, 2014

HOW SOON WE FORGET - ONLY NINE YEARS AGO ISRAEL LEFT GAZA SO THAT ARABS COULD BUILD THEIR STATE - No occupation. No blockade. But then Arabs elected Hamas and unleashed a war of terror against Israel

By Charles Krauthammer
Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking

Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.” 

Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we’ve routinely heard the Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this most recent mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.

Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade.  

Occupation? Does no one remember anything?   

It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians.

There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza.

And there was no blockade.   

On the contrary. Israel wanted this new Palestinian state to succeed. To help the Gaza economy, Israel gave the Palestinians its 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce. 

The whole idea was to establish the model for two states living peacefully and productively side by side. No one seems to remember that, simultaneous with the Gaza withdrawal, Israel dismantled four smaller settlements in the northern West Bank as a clear signal of Israel’s desire to leave the West Bank as well and thus achieve an amicable two-state solution. 

This is not ancient history. This was nine years ago. 

And how did the Gaza Palestinians react to being granted by the Israelis what no previous ruler, neither Egyptian, nor British, nor Turkish, had ever given them — an independent territory?

First, they demolished the greenhouses. Then they elected Hamas.

Then, instead of building a state with its attendant political and economic institutions, they spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel. 

Where are the roads and rail, the industry and infrastructure of the new Palestinian state? Nowhere. Instead, they built mile upon mile of underground tunnels to hide their weapons and, when the going gets tough, their military commanders. 

They spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, even drones. They deliberately placed them in schools, hospitals, mosques and private homes to better expose their own civilians. And from which they fire rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Why? The rockets can’t even inflict serious damage, being almost uniformly intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. Even West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas has asked: “What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?”

It makes no sense. Unless you understand that the whole point is to draw Israeli counter-fire. This produces dead Palestinians for international television. Which is why Hamas perversely urges its own people not to seek safety when Israel drops leaflets warning of an imminent attack. 

To deliberately wage war so that your own people can be telegenically killed is indeed moral and tactical insanity.   

But it rests on a very rational premise: Given the Orwellian state of the world’s treatment of Israel (see: the UN’s grotesque Human Rights Council), fueled by a mix of classic anti-Semitism, near-total historical ignorance and reflexive sympathy for the ostensible Third World underdog, these eruptions featuring Palestinian casualties ultimately undermine support for Israel’s legitimacy and right to self-defense.

About the Author: Charles Krauthammer is a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, Fox News commentator, and bestselling author. His most recent book, “Things That Matter” (Crown Forum, 2013), spent several months at the top of the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.


Up to 2012, 160 Gaza children died while building tunnels (more since)
How the Hamas leadership got very rich through tunnel smuggling while the population suffers in poverty
There were 160 child worker victims in tunnel construction when the report was released in mid-2012.  The count must have risen into the hundreds since then, due to accelerated construction.

It should be emphasized that this report denouncing child fatalities in the construction of the terror tunnels came from a Palestinian source, the Institute for Palestine Studies.

(TABLET Magazine)  The Institute for Palestine Studies published a detailed report on Gaza’s Tunnel Phenomenon in the summer of 2012. It reported that tunnel construction in Gaza has resulted in a large number of child deaths.
“At least 160 children have been killed in the tunnels, according to Hamas officials”
The author, Nicolas Pelham, explains that Hamas uses child laborers to build their terror tunnels because, “much as in Victorian coal mines, they are prized for their nimble bodies”.
meshal haniyeh.jpg
Hamas Leaders Khaled Mashal  and Ismail Haniyeh

Human rights groups operating in Gaza raised concerns about child labor in the tunnels as far back as 2008. Hamas responded by saying it was “considering curbs.”
Following Operation Cast Lead in 2009 Hamas softened its position and the Interior Ministry established the Tunnel Affairs Commission (TAC) which, “In response to public concern at a rising toll of tunnel casualties, particularly of child workers…issued guidelines intended to ensure safe working conditions.”
No mention is made in the report of the conditions that would result for both Palestinian and Israeli children from building tunnels that would be used to launch terror attacks.

Photo: Associated Press
Terror Tunnel - Photo AP
Nor does it seem that Hamas paid much subsequent attention to ensuring the safety of the child workers that it used to build the tunnels that would wind up endangering the lives of many in Gaza. On a tour of the tunnels in 2011, Pelham noted that, “nothing was done to impede the use of children in the tunnels.”

Not only are Hamas misappropriating much of the humanitarian aid supplied to Gaza—800,000 tons of cement were used to construct the terror tunnels into Israel—they are also directly exploiting and endangering Gaza’s youth in their construction and operation.

Source  -
Via -
Also on Breitbart -

How the Hamas leadership got very rich while Palestinians got poorer

Ismail Haniyeh on his private plane on the way to Qatar at the onset of Operation Protective Edge. The Gaza Strip is infamously known as one of the most densely populated areas in the world. While majority of people in Gaza live close to or below the poverty line, the unemployment rate in the Strip stands near 40 percent.
Photo - Ismail Haniyeh (R) and Hamas associates on Haniyeh’s private plane on the way to Qatar at the onset of Operation Protective Edge - Safe from war and inconvenience.

According to the World Bank, a report released in November ranks the Gaza Strip as third in the Arab world in terms of poverty, coming above Sudan and Yemen. Gaza also ranks the 44th poorest region in the world, with most African countries having a higher poverty rate than Gaza.
With such bleak economic conditions, a not so startling report on Ynet revealed that while millions of Gazan’s struggle to make ends meet and put food in their mouths, Hamas leaders and their associates have been wheeling and dealing in multi-million dollar deals, lining their already fattened pockets.
From million dollar land deals, purchasing luxury villas and trading in black market fuel from Egypt, Hamas’s recent money troubles are apparently due to the stealing and conniving of its own.

According to the report, former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has benefited tremendously from being a senior member of Hamas. Before 2006, when Hamas was not yet in power in Gaza, Haniyeh was a minor Hamas figure. After his bump up to a leadership positions, Haniyeh turned into a millionaire almost overnight.
“This is an unusual feat, given that he was born to a refugee family in the al-Shati refugee camp in Northern Gaza,” the report stated.
Haniyeh, who is known to own numerous homes in Gaza, has registered them under the names of his children in order to avoid any backlash. In 2010, Egyptian magazine Rose al-Yusef reported that Haniyeh paid a whopping $4 million for a 2,500 square meter plot of land in the beachfront city of Rimal.
However, where does all this wealth come from? According to the report, Haniyeh and his cronies financially benefited primarily from the “flourishing tunnel industry.” Haniyeh and other senior Hamas figures would impose a 20 percent tax on anything passing through the tunnels.
The tunnel industry reached its peak after the overthrow of former Egyptian dictator Hossni Mubarak. With the Muslim Brotherhood shortly after put in a position of power, Hamas and its associates were able to cultivate relationships with sympathetic Egyptian governmental leaders.
Khairat a-Shater, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, personally transferred tens of millions of dollars in cash to senior Hamas members in Gaza and senior commanders from Hamas’s military wing.
The tunnel systems in Rafah, a town located near the Gaza-Egypt border, flourished in the fuel smuggling industry from Sinai. The fuel was subsidized by the Egyptian government and entered Gaza at low prices. However, Hamas leaders would inflate the cost of fuel for those wishing to purchase it up to eight times. Hamas members made great profit, even as fuel shortages were reported both in Gaza and Egypt.
During the days of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule in Egypt, Hamas officials were no longer afraid to show off their wealth. Reports indicate that Gaza’s luxury villa market suddenly boomed, with most of them purchased by Hamas members.
Those Hamas leaders who were afraid to hold on to cash reinvested the funds into Egyptian businesses that had ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. In many cases, Ayman Taha, one of Hamas’s founders and a former spokesman, would handle the transactions himself.

While ties with the Muslim Brotherhood helped line the pockets of Hamas, political leader Khaled Mashal also benefited greatly. According to the report, Mashal used Hamas funds for his own purposes. Mashal is reported to have had control of a $2.6 billion fund spread out between Qatar and Egypt.
An accumulation of investments in various projects in the Arab and Muslim world, the money was the main source of funding for the Gaza-based terror organization. Mashal had no problem spending the group’s money as if it was his own.
Investments made through front companies allowed Hamas to purchase shares in various commercial companies and widely expand its real estate portfolio globally. Mashal would use the money to make personal investments registered under family and associates. Companies that are linked to Mashal in Qatar, for example, are registered to his wife and daughters.
One particular project in the Qatari capital of Doha is unofficially linked to Mashal. The Fadil real estate firm, who is responsible for a 27,000 square meter project constructing four towers, including office and commercial space attached to a 10,000 square meter mall, has refused to disclose its funding.
With the ongoing crisis in Gaza, Hamas leaders have played it safe and sought refuge in Qatar. Reports of them living in first class accommodations and literally stuffing their faces with extravagant foods have made the rounds in the media over the last week.
Many in Gaza and around the Arab world have expressed their anger and shame towards Hamas leaders as they fight a war from afar while those in Gaza, on the front lines, are left to fend for themselves.



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