August 03/14


Bible Quotation for today/We God's Children
Galatians 04/01-07"But now to continue—the son who will receive his father's property is treated just like a slave while he is young, even though he really owns everything. While he is young, there are men who take care of him and manage his affairs until the time set by his father. In the same way, we too were slaves of the ruling spirits of the universe before we reached spiritual maturity. But when the right time finally came, God sent his own Son. He came as the son of a human mother and lived under the Jewish Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might become God's children.
To show that you are his children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who cries out, “Father, my Father.” So then, you are no longer a slave but a child. And since you are his child, God will give you all that he has for his children."

Question: "Is gluttony a sin? What does the Bible say about overeating?" Gluttony seems to be a sin that Christians like to ignore. We are often quick to label smoking and drinking as sins, but for some reason gluttony is accepted or at least tolerated. Many of the arguments used against smoking and drinking, such as health and addiction, apply equally to overeating. Many believers would not even consider having a glass of wine or smoking a cigarette but have no qualms about gorging themselves at the dinner table. This should not be! Proverbs 23:20-21 warns us, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” Proverbs 28:7 declares, “He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.” Proverbs 23:2 proclaims, “Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.”  Physical appetites are an analogy of our ability to control ourselves. If we are unable to control our eating habits, we are probably also unable to control other habits, such as those of the mind (lust, covetousness, anger) and unable to keep our mouths from gossip or strife. We are not to let our appetites control us, but we are to have control over our appetites. (See Deuteronomy 21:20, Proverbs 23:2, 2 Peter 1:5-7, 2 Timothy 3:1-9, and 2 Corinthians 10:5.) The ability to say “no” to anything in excess—self-control—is one of the fruits of the Spirit common to all believers (Galatians 5:22).God has blessed us by filling the earth with foods that are delicious, nutritious, and pleasurable. We should honor God's creation by enjoying these foods and by eating them in appropriate quantities. God calls us to control our appetites, rather than allowing them to control us.

Pope Francis's Tweet For Today
When we do not adore God, we adore something else. Money and power are false idols which often take the place of God.
Pape François ‏
Quand on n’adore pas Dieu, on se met à adorer d’autres choses. L’argent et le pouvoir sont des idoles qui prennent souvent la place de Dieu.


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources published on August 03/14

Netanyahu trying to market victory against Hamas/Shimon Shiffer/Ynetnews/August 03/14

Let diplomacy win, because an army can't/Ariana Melamed/Ynetnews/August 03/14

Under Gaza's Shadow, Islamic State Advances/By: Jonathan Spyer/The Jerusalem Post/August 03/14

For Israel, the rules in Gaza have now changed/By: Ron Ben-Yishai/Ynetnews/August/14 


Lebanese Related News published on August 03/14

Two Hezbollah fighters, 20 troops killed in Qalamoun
Kahwagi: Army key to Lebanons salvation

LF: Hezbollah, Aoun not Geagea behind paralysis

Militants surround Bekaa Army center

Bou Saab: 'School affidavits' to solve exam crisis
Restrictions impede Lebanon aid to Gaza

Lebanese Army Intelligence Detains 7 Syrians Infiltrating Shebaa
Jumblat Calls for Dialogue to Confront Terrorism
Syria Troops, Hizbullah Fighters Kill at Least 50 Jihadists in Qalamoun

Derbas Says No Extraordinary Measures to Confront Influx of Mosul's Christians


Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 03/14

Israel will not attend Gaza truce talks in Cairo, official says

Hamas denies knowing captive officer’s whereabouts, says he may have died. IDF continues to blast Rafah

Gaza violence spirals as Israel hunts for soldier
Israel holds off on attending Gaza truce talks

Kidnapped IDF soldier's unit unearthed tunnel that stretched 2 kilometers into Israel

Sisi Says Egypt Truce Plan 'Real Chance' to End Gaza Clashes

Israel: Refugees from Beit Lahiya can return

Human Rights committee to convene over Gaza

U.S. struggles in Middle East with fewer allies and less influence

Question: "Is gluttony a sin? What does the Bible say about overeating?"

King of Saudi Arabia's impassioned plea

New Libya parliament holds first meeting


Derbas Says No Extraordinary Measures to Confront Influx of Mosul's Christians
Naharnet /Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said on Saturday that the Lebanese state didn't take any “extraordinary measures” regarding the influx of Christians from the Iraqi city of Mosul as a the Patriarchs of the Orient are set to hold a conference in Lebanon on August 7. “The state didn't take any extraordinary measures regarding the flow of Iraqi Christians to Lebanon as it considers that their conditions are not similar to the Syrian refugees,” Derbas said in comments published in the the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat. However, the minister revealed that he will tackle the issue on Wednesday during a meeting with Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq and Health Minister Wael Abou Faour. He noted that the conditions of the displaced Iraqis are followed up by NGOs and churches.
Thousands of Christians and other minorities had fled the northern Iraqi city of Mosul amid last month's jihadist onslaught led by Islamic State insurgents. IS, which announced the restoration of the caliphate last month by declaring its sovereignty over land it has seized in Syria and Iraq, has also leveled several of Mosul's most prominent religious landmarks. According to Asharq al-Awsat, the Patriarchs of the Orient will hold a conference in Beirut on August 7 to discuss the situation of Christians in Iraq in particular and the orient in general. Sources told the daily that discussions are underway between several countries, including the United States of America, Australia and Canada under the auspices of the United Nations, over the distribution of the displaced Christians. Mira Qsarji, head of the media department at the Chaldean Patriarchate in Lebanon, revealed that at least 50 Christian family arrived in Lebanon since the IS controlled Mosul. She pointed out that the displaced are currently residing in the northern Metn area of Bourj Hammoud. “The financial conditions of the Iraqi refugees seem to be good,” Qsarji said.

Syria Troops, Hizbullah Fighters Kill at Least 50 Jihadists in Qalamoun
Naharnet /Syrian troops backed by Hizbullah fighters have killed at least 50 jihadists from the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front groups near the border with Lebanon, a monitor said Saturday. The clashes raged through the night and into the morning on Saturday in the border region of Qalamun, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Among the dead were at least seven pro-regime fighters, including government soldiers and members of Hizbullah, which backs Syria's President Bashar Assad. Regime forces recaptured most of the Qalamun region in April, with many rebel fighters withdrawing from the strategic area or slipping across the border in Lebanon. But pockets of opposition fighters, including jihadists, have remained in the mountainous region. Though the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front both have roots in al-Qaida, IS has formally broken with the group, while Nusra is its official branch in Syria. Despite ideological similarities, the two groups are opposed and in conflict with each other in other parts of Syria, particularly in the north. But in Qalamun, their fighters battled the regime and Hizbullah forces alongside each other, with support from some smaller Islamist rebel groups, the Observatory said.
Agence France Presse

Lebanese Army Intelligence Detains 7 Syrians Infiltrating Shebaa
Naharnet/The Lebanese Army Intelligence apprehended seven Syrian nationals while trying to infiltrate illegally into Lebanese territories by evading checkpoints. According to the Central News Agency, the seven Syrians were trying to enter the southern border town of Shebaa illegally by dodging army checkpoints that are distributed in nearby areas. A security source told the news agency that the army intelligence ambushed a group of Syrians, which included Syrian opposition gunmen. Preliminary investigations revealed that another group of suspects escaped the ambush while several gunmen retreated. The sources said that the precautionary measures in the area aim at restricting the entrance to Lebanon through army checkpoints after thousands of Syrians entered Lebanon via illegal crossings. The town of Shebaa has seen a massive influx of refugees.

Jumblat Calls for Dialogue to Confront Terrorism
Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat called on Saturday on the Arab countries to kick off a dialogue with foreign states to confront terrorism. “Saudi Arabia should lead a dialogue with Iran and Turkey in order to fight terrorism that is committing crimes in the name of Islam, displacing Christians from the Iraqi state of Mosul and destroying the Arab and Islam diversity,” Jumblat told al-Mustaqbal newspaper. He pointed out that the matter “is dangerous and unacceptable,” which compels “us to reconsider the origins of the rejected phenomena.”Jumblat also hailed the speech of Saudi King Abdullah, considering that it “indicates the amount of risks posed by terrorism.”Abdullah also lashed out at religious extremism, urging "Muslim leaders and scholars to ... stand up to those trying to hijack Islam and portray it as a religion of hatred, extremism, and terrorism.""It is a shame and a disgrace that these terrorists kill, mutilate (dead bodies), and proudly spread (pictures) in the name of religion," he said. His remarks were an apparent reference to Islamic State jihadists operating in Iraq and Syria. ISIL has declared a "caliphate" in areas it controls in the two Arab states, with their lightning advance in Iraq in June seen as also posing a threat to Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Saudi Arabia, an ultra-conservative Sunni kingdom and home to Islam's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, shares an 814-kilometer (505-mile) border with Iraq.


Hamas denies knowing captive officer’s whereabouts, says he may have died. IDF continues to blast Rafah
DEBKAfile Special Report August 2, 2014/Hamas’ military wing issued a statement early Saturday, Aug. 2, claiming: “We have lost contact with the group of fighters that took part in the ambush [in which 2 soldiers were killed and 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, went missing in Rafah Friday] and we believe that they were all killed in the [Israeli] bombardment. Assuming that they managed to seize the soldier during combat, we assess that he was also killed in the incident,” the Hamas statement said, clearly trying to get off the hook of international condemnation and Israeli punishment.
All Friday night until early Saturday, Israeli jets, tanks and heavy artillery continued to pound parts of Rafah. The Palestinians say they have lost 150 dead, of whom 70 were killed in Rafah since Friday morning, when their “ambush,” was mounted 90 minutes after an international ceasefire went into effect.
debkafile’s military sources report on the findings of an inquiry into the Rafah attack, in which two Givati Brigade officers, Major Benaya Sarel, 26, from Kiryat Arba and St.-Sgt. Liel Gidoni, 20, from Jerusalem, lost their lives. It turns out that the plan for the attack was devised in detail by Hamas and most likely Islamic Jihad for the abduction of an Israeli soldier.
An ambush squad of 10-15 commandos, some wearing large explosive vests, stole into the Seri district of Rafah early Friday, covered by a group of local civilians who, upon hearing that a ceasefire had gone into effect at 8 a.m. that morning, scattered to their homes. The attackers then crept up to the building where the Givati troops were busy dealing with a tunnel.
At 9:30, two suicide bombers moved in on the Israeli team and blew themselves up. The rest of the squad grabbed Lt. Goldin. The attack and abduction were deliberately timed to occur after the 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire announced by the US and UN went into effect. Friday night, US President Barack Obama said that to sustain the ceasefire, Hamas must unconditionally release the Israeli officer who had been seized in the course of the truce, although he admitted to doubts about the Islamist terrorists “following through” on a ceasefire agreement. This was a reference to Hamas violations of all five previous truces in the 25-day armed conflict in Gaza.
Israel’s security and policy-making cabinet ended a long meeting starting Friday and ending Saturday morning without releasing a statement. The IDF’s mode of attacks in and around Rafah, a town of some quarter of a million inhabitants, indicated that they are trying to trap Lt. Goldin’s abductors before they fled and went to ground, possibly with their captive.
Hamas and Jihad have tried time and again to kidnap Israeli soldiers. This time they took advantage of the ceasefire to achieve this goal.
The fate of the negotiations, scheduled to be launched between Israeli and Palestinian delegations in Cairo Friday at the same time as the 72-hour ceasefire, is up in the air as far as Israel’s intentions are concerned. Israel held off sending its delegation to Cairo Friday in outrage over the shock Hamas attack-cum-abduction in Rafah. Whether Netanyahu decides to respond to the US appeal, and send negotiators to Egypt on Sunday, may depend on the way matters evolve in the Gaza Strip Saturday, especially if the missing officer is found.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have still to reach a decision on whether to order the IDF to expand the harsh punitive operation devastating Rafah since Friday to other parts of the Gaza Strip. As to the ceasefire, it is abundantly clear, as President too acknowledged Friday, that however any talks through Egyptian intermediaries may turn out, and whatever the parties may sign, Hamas can’t be counted on to follow through. As the latest ceasefire attempt demonstrated, Islamic terrorists will seize on any cessation in hostilities for surprise attacks on Israeli soldiers and any civilian targets within reach, whether by ambush, rockets, or tunnel terror. So a signed deal if it happens may be a diplomatic breakthrough, but have little relevance on the field of combat in Gaza.

Under Gaza's Shadow, Islamic State Advances
by Jonathan Spyer/The Jerusalem Post
August 1, 2014
In recent weeks, far from the attention of the world's media, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (IS, formerly ISIS) has been fighting its enemies and expanding its borders.
There is mounting evidence that IS has obtained a chemical weapons capacity of some kind, and has utilized it on at least one occasion during intense combat against the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria. The organization has achieved signal successes against regime forces in Raqqa and Hasakeh provinces that culminated in the capture of the Division 17 base, and the subsequent gruesome execution of over 200 members of the garrison.
There is also clear evidence of Palestinians, specifically Gazans, fighting in Syria in an organized unit under the IS banner, and of at least one clearly IS-linked group operating in northern Sinai and in Gaza itself. The overall picture is one of a vigorous, capable and savagely brutal Islamist entity, but one which nevertheless has clear limitations on its capabilities.
Lets take a look: Following its lighting capture of Mosul on June 10, many observers expected the jihadi group to continue to push on into Iraq, and perhaps make a bid for the capital city, Baghdad.
This has not happened. IS has set about implementing its brutal version of Shari'a in the city, but has made no serious effort to push further east.
Instead, the movement has integrated the weapons taken in Mosul into its structures in Syria, and is concentrating its attention on expanding in a westward and northern direction.
The first IS assault using the new weapons systems was launched against the Kurdish enclave of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) adjoining the Syrian-Turkish border. This area of Kurdish autonomy juts into the IS area of control; it prevents the movement from using the direct road from Raqqa city, which it controls, to Jarabulus and Menbij, on the Syrian-Turkish border.
IS has long sought to destroy this enclave. On July 2, it launched renewed offensives against Kobani from the west and the east. The offensives included the use of US-made Humvees, captured in Mosul.
It also, according to Kobani Health Minister Nisan Ahmed, used a chemical agent which killed three Kurdish fighters while leaving their bodies unmarked. According to Ahmed, a medical team assembled by the Kurdish authorities found that "burns and white spots on the bodies of the dead indicated the use of chemicals, which led to death without any visible wounds or external bleeding." Perwer Janfrosh, a local Kurdish activist, said the attack took place on July 12, in the village of Avdiko in eastern Kobani.
These claims have yet to be examined by international medical bodies. But an article on the Lebanese Almodon news website (in Arabic) quotes a resident of Raqqa city who alleges that IS has transported chemical weapons materials from the Muthanna complex, northwest of Baghdad, which has fallen into its hands. The source notes that among the materials transported was cyanogen chloride, an agent whose use might be consistent with the claims made by the Kurdish officials (which require further investigation).
Despite the introduction of the captured weaponry, however, the IS offensive on Kobani ran aground following a Kurdish mobilization; the Kobani enclave remains intact.
IS then turned its attention to the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad. On July 24, the movement launched attacks on regime positions in the Raqqa and Hasakeh provinces, adjoining the western borders of the "Islamic State," and near Aleppo city.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the attacks gained ground and took a heavy toll on regime soldiers. The Division 17 base fell on July 25.
Most of the garrison managed to escape to the nearby Brigade 23 base, but around 200 remained behind. The Observatory reported that at least 50 of these men were subsequently decapitated by IS forces. Footage has become available on the Internet showing severed heads placed on a fence in Raqqa city; according to the voiceover, the heads belong to soldiers from the Division 17 garrison.
The IS gains against regime forces reflect the movement's desire to clear Assad's men out of the Euphrates Valley, and incrementally expand their area of control.
The IS presence is now nudging up against the main Kurdish enclave in Hasakeh province. But the failure of the regime to make a major effort to defend the areas in question also likely reflects its priorities.
Assad can afford to cede isolated positions in the remote north and east of Syria, without these constituting any threat to his survival. His stronghold in the south and west of Syria is not currently threatened by IS.As far as IS links to Gaza: An identifiable Gaza contingent named the Sheikh Abu al-Nur al-Maqdisi Brigade is active with IS forces in northern Syria, and photographic evidence has emerged of this group's activities. This group is named after a well-known Salafi sheikh from southern Gaza, killed in an abortive revolt against the Hamas authorities in 2009.
IS also has an identifiable franchise within Gaza and northern Sinai itself, according to a prominent researcher of the IS phenomenon, UK-based Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi; the name of the group in question is Ansar al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Bayt al-Maqdis.
At the moment, these are relatively minor phenomena. Yet Tamimi suggests that the presence of the Gazan contingent in northern Syria indicates that genuine contacts with IS exist, and these are not merely enthusiasts seeking to borrow the symbolism of jihadi success that IS represents. So IS remains on the advance, and continues to shock with its astonishing brutality. At present, it has focused its energies back on Syria. Its forces have suffered setbacks against the determined and well-trained fighters of the YPG – defending an enclave that the Kurds consider vital for their "Rojava" project.
IS has enjoyed greater successes against regime forces – in the process raising a big question mark about recent claims by non-IS rebel spokesmen and supporters that the movement is a puppet of Assad or the Iranians. IS may also have used chemical weapons. Lastly, the first signs of its appearance on the front against Israel may be discerned. The recent global media focus on the fighting in Gaza should not be allowed to obscure potentially far more significant developments in the broader region. The Islamic State in Iraq and in Syria is on the march.
**Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

For Israel, the rules in Gaza have now changed
By: Ron Ben-Yishai/Ynetnews/08.02.14,

Given that Hamas deliberately violated the ceasefire in order to kidnap a soldier, Israel cannot unilaterally end the fighting now without delivering Hamas a victory.
Assuming it becomes clear beyond any doubt that Second Lt. Hadar Goldin has indeed been kidnapped, it would be a development that requires not only the army, but the government as well, to devise a new policy vis-a-vis the Gaza Strip.Before dealing with the long-term repercussions, there is the current phase in which most of the operational and intelligence efforts are devoted to locating the Givati officer, or at least prevent him being taken out of the reach of the IDF in the Gaza Strip. Heavy artillery bombardment on the eastern outskirts of Rafah was aimed at pinning the terrorists in place and preventing the possibility of them leaving the area with Goldin.
At the same time, efforts are being made to locate the missing soldier and the force that might have taken him. It is quite clear that the coming days are critical. After that, the intelligence dwindles and the ability to locate and free the abducted soldier diminishes. These hours are the golden hours and the IDF and Shin Bet will do their best to obtain the "golden knowledge" in order to make sure Israel doesn't have another Gilad Shalit on its hands, or to verify that the suspected kidnap victim is no longer alive - which makes it easier, no matter how painful that might be.
Israel fears that the terrorists who kidnapped Goldin are probably already in hiding. It is also very possible that the kidnappers have not yet made contact with their commanders, due to the intensive activity of the IDF ground troops, and it is perhaps for this reason that Hamas has not yet announced that it has him in its hands. And perhaps, and this is faint hope, the soldier is not in their hands, but was lost in the massive explosion that preceded the kidnapping attempt and led to the tragic consequences of Friday. The sole testimony from Hamas is from the deputy head of the organization's political wing, sitting in Egypt and claiming that Hamas seized an Israeli soldier in clashes before the ceasefire.
This is a blatant lie. It was at around 9:30 am that we first heard about an incident involving Givati troops in a nearby area. As is established, the ceasefire began at 8 am. Palestinian civilians began to close in on areas where IDF troops were located, in order to take advantage of the humanitarian ceasefire to gather possessions, or see what happened to their homes. At this point, as the civilians began to approach the soldiers, there was an attack on a Givati force that resulted in the officer's disappearance.
The civilians of Rafah, hit in the bombardment, are truly the victims of Hamas. They trusted the group's declaration of a ceasefire, took to the streets, and got caught up in the fighting which was started by Hamas, without anyone warning them or preparing them in advance.
Prior notice
There are two serious aspects to this incident. Firstly, the pre-planned, intentional violation of the ceasefire, most likely to finally grant Hamas its long-sought "image of victory". The group apparently agreed to a ceasefire so that it could carry out the kidnapping attempt. It is also possible to draw this conclusion from the fact that Hamas, despite its announcement to the contrary, had not on Friday morning sent its negotiators to talks in Egypt. The Hamas leadership apparently knew in advance that the ceasefire would be violated, because it would be responsible for the violation, and therefore did not bother to dispatch anyone to Cairo.
The other serious fact is that actual the violation of the ceasefire and the abduction incident indicates that Hamas has every intention of continuing to fight. It would be fair to assume that Hamas would now be satisfied with a bargaining chip, and thus try to return to the process of a political settlement, or perhaps even seek the release of the prisoners freed as part of the 2011 Shalit deal and rearrested after the abduction of the Israeli teens in June. Their re-incarceration was a bitter blow for Hamas.
But Hamas is willing to fight, and Israel cannot allow it to negotiate from a position of power while probably holding a captive. The conclusion is that the IDF will have to expand the fighting, at least in the area where Goldin had last been, with the objective of rescuing him, and with the objective of placing equal pressure on Hamas and its leadership – initially to provide information and then to get the officer, if possible.
Three options
The options that lay before the Cabinet have changed abruptly. The option of a unilateral end to the fighting without a ceasefire agreement is off the table. Completing the destruction of the tunnels and exiting unilaterally while Hamas has a captive is a retreat under pressure - in other words, a strategic military victory for Hamas, even though the tunnels would have been destroyed.
Another option is to continue with forces in same areas of the Gaza Strip, with ongoing aerial and artillery assaults, until Hamas delivers information about the soldier. This option is also not recommended, as it leaves troops in the heart of built-up Palestinian areas, and therefore vulnerable to more kidnapping attempts.
A third option is movement and rapid fire from ground forces at specific targets that would put strong pressure on Hamas and the Gazan population. Perhaps a combination of crushing aerial and artillery attacks and rapid movement by Armored Corps combat teams may push Hamas off balance.The Cabinet will also have to decide whether to send the Israeli envoys to continue negotiations in Egypt, or announce that until Hamas does provides information about the missing soldier or says definitively that it does not have him, Israel is not willing to enter any negotiations.


Netanyahu trying to market victory against Hamas
Shimon Shiffer/Ynetnews
Published: 08.01.14,7340,L-4552641,00.html
Op-ed: The prime minister is looking for an exit point from Gaza which will help him convince the Israeli public that IDF has in fact won.
The government has turned its gaze to Cairo for Egyptian-brokered negotiations with a Hamas delegation. Isn't it ironic that General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi holds the key to ending the battle?On the day after we won't forget the dead and the hundreds of soldiers whose bodies will carry the wounds of the war for years of rehabilitation which might not end till the end of their lives. We will not forget and we will not forgive those who knew about the terror tunnels and about the preparations made by the terror organizations – Hamas and the Islamic Jihad – which planned to hit us mercilessly without any intention of being impressed by the thousands of tons of bombs we dropped on Gaza's residents. As terrible as these things may sound, we must admit that the decision makers were unprepared, as might have been expected, for determining the objectives of the war and achieving its basic goals.  Officials we've gotten used to hear and listen to with the required respect provided us with insights of idlers convening in cafés. Take former President Shimon Peres, for example, who stated Wednesday that this war has exhausted itself.
Why? Because it has.
Or Southern Command chief Sami Turgeman's statement Wednesday that the army is making progress towards completing the mission it has been tasked with – destroying the offensive tunnels.
In fact, one does not need military background to reach the conclusion that Hamas has its own exit point, and it is completely different from the exit point of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who now look as if they are begging for a ceasefire. Forget about the Strip's demilitarization, forget about an end to tunnel digging. Everything we have experienced in this war will be experienced even more intensely in the future. I am writing this in great pain. The current round against Hamas will most likely end like George Aiken, the Republican senator from Vermont, suggested ending the Vietnam War: Declaring that the US has won and returning the troops home. The problem is that Gaza is not located thousands of kilometers away from us. It's hard to imagine that pulling out will end our war with Gaza.In the past few years we have been told repeatedly that there is no substitute for Netanyahu in light of his political and security experience. On the backdrop of the serious rift in our relationship with the United States and the foot-dragging on the 24th day of the war, we should ask ourselves if there is really no alternative.


Let diplomacy win, because an army can't
Ariana Melamed/Ynetnews
Published: 08.01.14,7340,L-4552720,00.html

Op-ed: The IDF can destroy every house in Gaza and kill any terrorist emerging from a tunnel, but in the 21st century war is won in the negotiating room.
It's clear that the IDF can win the battle technically. Israel has enough planes and explosives to crush, bomb, destroy and level every house in Gaza along with its inhabitants, and enough ammunition to kill anyone emerging from any tunnel from now until eternity. But this is not the way to win the wars of the 21st century and this is not the way to defeat terror.
Because every casualty will generate 10 people filled with revenge who have nothing else to look for in this world apart from revenge. And every bombed tunnel will be replaced with another improvised hole, and those left in the heart of the destruction will emerge from it, more determined than ever. The more they were oppressed, the more they grew and spread," we are told, as a warning sign as well: In the wars of the modern world, oppressed populations cannot be defeated only by force of weapon.
The last war which ended with a complete surrender of the defeated side was World War II, and there too the military defeat alone did not create the new Germany, which is almost completely clean of Nazism ideas. It took international cooperation and a perennial rehabilitation program for the German population to complete the victory over the concept of evil.
In the wars that followed, in most of which the United States participated with extremely excessive force, other things happened. Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, Libya and Somalia – where there was no internationally-backed diplomatic agreement, thousands of soldiers died in vain, trillions of dollars were wasted and nothing good happened.
And yes, the US – like Israel – had enough deadly weapons to send the entire world back to the Stone Age, not just Gaza.
The attempts to eradicate or siege or crush the Gazan terror began in 1971 with a crazy dream of Ariel Sharon, who was at the time a glorified warrior who filed Gaza with bulldozers and tanks and killed hundreds of terrorists and uninvolved people, and they are going on 42 years later without any conceptual change. Only the fighters have changed. Those who started the work are already turning grey. Some of those who are still going, too young to die, will eventually die. In the meantime, more and more civilians will get killed, unless we let diplomacy win.
Now, same as then, neither side will be able to present a victory image. The winner will be the one who sensibly and quietly, while the army uncovers tunnels and does what needs to be done, picks up the phone to world leaders and arranges a humanitarian ceasefire with the support of whoever's support we need, and later, if the ceasefire is maintained – arranges talks.
Not direct talks and not talks requiring fundamental concessions from Israel, of course, but just talks in which a vigorous mediator runs from one room to another – and here and there the sides' representatives sit nervous and jumpy like cats – and offers the two sides bonuses which are vital for each of them. For us – calm; for them – reconstruction. For us – a relief from the southern threat; for them – demilitarization and getting civilian life back on track. Why should we agree? Because we long to live and we will not be able to endure 10 military funerals a day for long. Because we seek a normal life even when we don't know what to do anymore to make it happen. And because we can't be alone, as we are not alone in this world. Whether we like it or not, the world is out there, and without it and without its support, what shall we do? And why should they agree in Gaza? Because unlike us, their leaders declare their willingness to fight to the very last drop of blood, but this willingness is only declarative. In Gaza, like in Sderot, not only children want to live. In Gaza they are not allowed to talk: Hamas is maintaining a cruel dictatorship in which people without civil rights are not allowed to open their mouths in any event. But like every political organization, Hamas also understand that it cannot wreak havoc forever, and that it must offer its subjects a carrot in addition to a stick, otherwise they will rise up to destroy it.
The Hezbollah precedent
And why should the Western world agree to donate money to Hamas and guarantees to Israel, and even create an international emergency force which will stand between the rival sides and supervise them as well as the Golan Heights force has been doing for many years now?  Because in countries which are no longer forced to fight, diplomatic prestige and global power are measured not only in bleeding victories but in rational agreements. Each of the major world and regional powers will gladly take part in writing the detailed, technical, very non-festive agreement which will restore some calm in the region.
But they will violate it, you'll say. That's very possible: That's why the stick must be as huge and terrifying as the carrot must be sweet and pleasant. At least like the arrangement with Hezbollah, which has so far – for nearly eight years – guaranteed that there will be no rocket fire from Lebanon. Apart from a few amateur missile collectors who went crazy and launched something, Hezbollah has been holding fire because it's worthwhile for it to hold fire. Not because we defeated it. You do remember that we didn't defeat Hezbollah? Even eight years ago, at the beginning of the 21st century, the IDF was incapable of defeating a terror organization in the north. Even then, what worked in everyone's favor was a sort of agreement. Not filled with glory, not an image of a complete surrender and not a victory image either.
Whoever learns anything from experience in the Middle East knows that diplomacy must be given all the force that an army is not entitled to use. Quietly and without making any statements to his people who support the battle, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is sitting wherever he is sitting now and arranging an agreement. When it's ready, he'll be able to present it as a big victory in his impressive way.
So let the army do its job, and let Netanyahu and diplomacy win.

Sisi Says Egypt Truce Plan 'Real Chance' to End Gaza Clashes
Naharnet/President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Saturday an Egyptian truce plan provided a "real chance" to end the Gaza conflict, stressing the need for its speedy implementation. "The Egyptian proposal is the real chance to find a solution to the crisis in Gaza and to end the bloodshed," Sisi told a televised news conference. A Palestinian delegation is expected in Cairo on Saturday to discuss a truce, a day after a temporary ceasefire collapsed with Israel and Hamas blaming each other. Agence France Presse