Hamas tests, but cannot break, the spirit of Israelis....
Terror Tunnels. First, more news re the vast Hamas tunnel networks. One major tunnel discovered inside Israel is 66 feet deep, 1.5 miles long, powered by electricity, and required an estimated $10 million, 800 tons of concrete and two years to build; the tunnel terminus lay under a kibbutz. Tablet reports that the first 18 tunnels discovered by the IDF used 800,000 tons of concrete. By comparison, Dubai's Burj al-Khlaifa, at 2,721 feet the world's tallest structure, used 110,000 tons. The article also reports how one Hamas chieftain lives:
And if you are among the tens of thousands of political idiots who spent last weekend demonstrating in support of Hamas—now that the Khmer Rouge isn’t fashionable—it may also be useful for you to know that while Gazans languish in in poverty, Hamas’ bosses are living large; Haniyeh, for example, bought 27,000 square feet of beach-side property a few years ago for $4 million, pays for his children to study in Europe, and sends his family members to hospitals inside Israel—all good choices, which he ensures are not available to anyone in Gaza who isn’t a high-level member of his fundamentalist political cult.
Ths WSJ op-ed by 4-star Gen. James T. Conway (USMC ret.), who retired in 2010 as 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps., describes a 3-mile long tunnel built with concrete & iron imported into Gaza--including one tunnel that ended less than one kilometer (5/8-mile) from an Israeli kindergarten:
I recently had the opportunity to see for myself the moral chasm between how the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas treat civilians during military operations. In May I joined a dozen other retired U.S. generals and admirals on a trip to Israel with the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.
Just outside Hamas-ruled Gaza, we toured a tunnel discovered less than one kilometer from an Israeli kindergarten. Unlike tunnels that I had seen during the Iraq war that were designed for smuggling, this Hamas tunnel was designed for launching murder and kidnapping raids. The 3-mile-long tunnel was reinforced with concrete, lined with telephone wires, and included cabins unnecessary for infiltration operations but useful for holding hostages.
Israel, fearing just such tunnel-building, has long tried to limit imports of concrete to Gaza for anything but humanitarian projects, yet somehow thousands of tons of the material have been diverted for terror use rather than building hospitals or housing for Palestinians. Since the beginning of ground operations into Gaza, the IDF has uncovered approximately 30 similar tunnels leading into Israel, in addition to the more than two dozen discovered prior to Operation Protective Edge. Hamas operatives have been intercepted emerging from such tunnels in Israel carrying tranquilizers and handcuffs, apparently hoping to replicate the successful 2006 kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, for whom Israel exchanged 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in 2011.
Gen. Conway further notes that Hamas representatives appeared on Gaza tv to encourage civilians to act as human shields; in some cases civilians have rushed to rooftops upon notice that the Israeli AF wa about to bomb the house--a new wrinkle in Islamist suicide bombing. Conway then recounts how Israel continues to supply Gaza with essential food & energy services:
This cynical inducement of civilian suffering for propaganda is in marked contrast to the IDF's treatment of noncombatants. While Hamas is encouraging the sacrifice of its civilian population—and its cowardly leadership is ensconced in underground bomb shelters—the IDF reports that in the conflict's first week it provided more than 4,400 tons of food to Palestinians in Gaza, about 900 tons of natural gas and about 3.2 million liters of diesel fuel. All this despite 1,700 Hamas rockets fired at Israel.
Meanwhile, the Rutenberg power plant outside Ashdod in Israel supplies Gaza with electricity, though the Palestinian Authority's payments are badly in arrears. This supply only stopped when a Hamas rocket destroyed the power lines to Gaza on July 13, plunging 70,000 Palestinian households into darkness. Despite the rocket fire, Israel repaired the transmission lines, restoring electricity to Gaza.
Evelyn Gordon at Commentary Blog details how US pressure in 2010 forced Israel to allow importation of "dual-use" (civilian & military) products, including iron and concrete, that made the tunnel networks possible:
For years, human-rights groups, diplomats, pundits, and other opinion leaders demanded an end to the “siege” of Gaza, and eventually, they succeeded. President Barack Obama deserves special mention here; it was he who, after Israel’s botched raid on a flotilla to Gaza in 2010, twisted Israel’s arm into drastically easing its import controls. The pressure increased again after Egypt tightened its own blockade of Gaza last year, leading Israel to remove all remaining restrictions on construction materials like cement and iron.
Most of those who pressed Israel on this issue sincerely wanted to improve Palestinian lives: Eliminating import restrictions, they argued, would let Gaza residents build homes and businesses, improve the economy, and generally contribute to Palestinian wellbeing. So they blithely dismissed Israel’s warnings that these materials would actually be used not to help ordinary Palestinians, but to build Hamas’s terror infrastructure.
We now know Israel’s warnings were 100 percent correct. As Jonathan Tobin has already noted, Hamas built a vast warren of underground bunkers to protect its rockets and its own personnel. It also built dozens of cross-border tunnels dedicated solely to launching attacks inside Israel; the IDF has so far located 28–each of which runs for miles, deep underground, requiring hundreds of tons of cement and millions of dollars to build–and doesn’t think it has found them all. Yet Hamas built no hospitals, schools, power plants, or even bomb shelters to serve the general population; where such institutions exist, they were built either by Israel (when it controlled Gaza) or the international community.
Meanwhile, back at the (Gaza) ranch, Hamas threatens foreign reporters who report accurately on how Hamas uses human shields and positions military equipment near hospitals.
Letter from Tel Aviv. Finally, this, shared with me last week, from an Israeli who emigrated from Australia:
I wrote most of this two days ago, and hadn't decided to post it. After two trips to the bomb shelter yesterday (once at work and once at home), I decided to share...
It has been a tough couple of days here, and by here, I mean for Israelis and Palestinians rather than for me personally. Word of the death of 13 soldiers reached everyone here 10 hours before it was cleared to be reported on the news (the reports are held back until families can be informed). The network here is so tight, and technology spreads this news nearly instantly - indeed, many of the families knew before the call came from the IDF. Everyone was despondent. While I am admittedly something of a crier, the news brought me to tears. We knew it would come, but we prayed that a cease fire would end this thing early.
I must tell you that in the past week, things have changed in the center of the country. During the first siren at work, you could hardly get anybody to go to the shelter...they just didn't believe Hamas had missiles that could get this far. The first alarm, I was in the safe room on my floor at the office literally by myself.
When news of where the rockets had flown reached us, everyone was shocked. Wow, they can reach us here - the bubble was popped. Thereafter, the responses to the sirens were quick and efficient - the shelter room filled up and people nervously checked their smartphones. Just a week later, everyone is still going to the shelter rooms, but I don't sense any fear...and honestly, I don't feel any. This has become part of normal life for the time being. Everyone understands it. You go to the safe room, you wait a few minutes, then you go back to work. Very matter of fact. Our conference calls with people from abroad start with a quick remark, "We may be called away for a few minutes at some point during the call. If so, we will let you know to wait on the line, and we will be back in a few minutes." It is amazing what people can get used to (not to mention how Iron Dome has afforded us the luxury of this calm). On the radio each morning, I listen to people from the south of country where an hour doesn't pass without a siren and the missiles are far too numerous to all be shot down. They aren't happy, but they are resolute, and somehow doing okay. My favorite interviews are with the octogenarians. They are remarkably unfazed. "We saw worst in Germany. 1948 was tougher. This isn't bad."
If Hamas' goal was to bring destruction upon Tel Aviv, they have failed. If their goal was to bring terror to Jerusalem and Petah Tikva, in this too, they have failed. WE ARE OKAY.
Every immigrant here that I know (we are called Olim...a word that means to rise up) is constantly asked, "Don't you want to come home right now?" Home. Such a loaded word. These questions come with sincerity and concern from friends and family. I miss my family terribly and nearly all my closest friends are thousands of miles from me, but the simple truth is, this is our home now and nothing has ever felt more home than this.
We ARE home, and we aren't going anywhere.
Extras. Still, Israel remains a magnet for foreign investment, which is at record levels in 2014. One celebrity who stands up for Israel (warning: linked full article contains profanity) is SiruisXM shock-jock Howard Stern, who points out that while Israel is a democracy allied with America and says of the Palestinians: "They elected terrorists to run their country."
Bottom Line. Israel either dismantles the Hamas terror infrastructure, and imposes an airtight embargo on dual-use materials, or it will face more lethal Islamist terror fire next time.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Foreign Policy, National Security, Conservative Politics