August 06/14


Bible Quotation for today/The Example of Hagar and Sarah
Galatians 04/21-31: "Let me ask those of you who want to be subject to the Law: do you not hear what the Law says? It says that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman, the other by a free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the usual way, but his son by the free woman was born as a result of God's promise.  These things can be understood as a figure: the two women represent two covenants. The one whose children are born in slavery is Hagar, and she represents the covenant made at Mount Sinai.  Hagar, who stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia, is a figure of the present city of Jerusalem, in slavery with all its people.  But the heavenly Jerusalem is free, and she is our mother.  For the scripture says, “Be happy, you childless woman! Shout and cry with joy, you who never felt the pains of childbirth! For the woman who was deserted will have more children than the woman whose husband never left her.”  Now, you, my friends, are God's children as a result of his promise, just as Isaac was.  At that time the son who was born in the usual way persecuted the one who was born because of God's Spirit; and it is the same now.  But what does the scripture say? It says, “Send the slave woman and her son away; for the son of the slave woman will not have a part of the father's property along with the son of the free woman.” So then, my friends, we are not the children of a slave woman but of a free woman"

Pope Francis,s Tweet For Today

If you hoard material possessions, they will rob you of your soul.
Pape François ‏
Si tu accumules les richesses comme un trésor, elles voleront ton âme.


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources published on August 06/14

Netanyahu's 'Long War' Doctrine/By: Jonathan Spyer/PJ Media/August 06/14

Maliki’s only option is to leave Iraq/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/August 06/14

Maliki’s only option is to leave Iraq/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/August 06/14

Gaza is not the only Palestinian cause/By: Khairallah Khairallah/Al Arabiya/August 06/14


Lebanese Related News published on August 06/14

Evening Lull Violated in Arsal after Accord Reached on Withdrawal of Gunmen, Release of Soldiers in Captivity

Arsal truce collapses as Army comes under fire
Qahwaji Urges France to Speed Up Weapons Delivery
Hezbollah says holding back from Arsal battle Labweh residents open homes to Arsalis World raises voices of support against the din of Arsal battle
Arsal violence sparks fighting in Tripoli, security forces on full alert Private business in Lebanon suffering
Lebanon: Rising above the fray

Syrian Nabbed en Route to Bekaa, Abductors Seek USD50,000 Ransom
Russia Warns of Terrorism in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 06/14

Israeli Palestinian crisis: Analysis: The diplomatic war begins

Israel-Hamas talks to open in Cairo after 72-hour ceasefire. Netanyahu faces credibility gap at home

Hamas: We destroyed Israel's deterrence

Kerry: Use Gaza cease-fire to reach broader peace talks

Israel, Hamas agree to Egyptian ceasefire

Obama signs funding package for Iron Dome

Canada Condemns Attack on Lebanese Armed Forces

Netanyahu: We made the most of Gaza op
Husband of Sudanese ‘apostasy’ woman tells of harrowing escape
U.S. to sell Tunisia 12 Black Hawks to aid militant fight
Saudi jetliner veers off Philippine runway
Pentagon confirms U.S. general killed in Kabul attack
‘Forty children’ die amid northern Iraq fighting
Iran seeks alternative to Maliki

Jordan circulates revised U.N. resolution on Gaza

Libyan lawmakers elect judge as new speaker

Iran jails activist turned journalist


Rising above the fray
The Daily Star/Politicians in Lebanon have overwhelmingly come out in support of the Army as it works to contain an extremely dangerous situation in the town of Arsal. Former premier Saad Hariri this week offered his unequivocal support for the military in a resounding rebuttal to his political rivals. For too long, they have made accusations – whether in public or in private – that the Future Movement leader somehow works to undermine national institutions such as the military or security agencies. Hariri’s stance shows that nothing could be further than the truth, and it should be read carefully for its uncompromising support for the Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces, and its uncompromising denunciation of terrorism and takfiri religious extremism. The problem, as Hariri pointed out, is that an entire town, or sectarian community, is identified by some unscrupulous politicians as representing a “hotbed” or “incubator” of terror, when in fact the opposite is the case. Hariri voiced his disappointment that people in Arsal have been “turned into hostages” even though they have rejected takfiri extremists, while bearing the burden of caring for thousands of Syrian refugees. When it comes to matters of such importance, Hariri’s unequivocal voice of support for the Army and opposition to takfiri extremism should be a model for politicians who regularly allow their own interests, and narrow sectarian considerations, to influence their positions. If a firm stand against all types of extremism, and in support of healthy and functioning national institutions, had been adopted by politicians across the board in recent years, Lebanon would be in a much better situation than it now finds itself in.


Qahwaji Urges France to Speed Up Weapons Delivery
Naharnet /Army chief General Jean Qahwaji urged France on Tuesday to speed up the delivery of weapons under a Saudi-financed deal, as his troops battle jihadists on the Syrian border.
"This battle requires equipment, materiel and technology that the army doesn't have," Qahwaji told Agence France Presse. "That's why we need to speed up the delivery of the necessary military aid by finalizing the list of weapons requested from France under a Saudi-financed deal backed by the Rome conference to support the army," he said. Last December, Saudi Arabia agreed to finance a $3 billion deal to purchase military equipment and weapons from France for the army, which has long complained of being sorely under-equipped. And in mid-June, at an international conference in Rome, the international community pledged its backing for the Lebanese military. But talks on the list of material to be furnished to the army under the Saudi-French deal have yet to be finalized. Qahwaji's request came as the Lebanese army battles jihadists in the northeastern border region of Arsal. He warned that "the situation in Arsal is dangerous.""The battle that the army is undertaking in the mountains of Arsal is just one in a series of confrontations against terrorism in all its forms and wherever it is," he added. At least 16 soldiers have been killed in the Arsal fighting, including two officers, according to security sources, and the army said 22 troops are missing, possibly taken hostage. Another 20 policemen are also missing, security sources say, and 86 soldiers have been wounded. "The army's fight against the takfiris (extremists) is continuing and the army is determined to recover the missing soldiers," Qahwaji said. The fighting in Arsal erupted on Saturday after soldiers arrested a man accused of belonging to al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate, Al-Nusra Front.Agence France Presse


Evening Lull Violated in Arsal after Accord Reached on Withdrawal of Gunmen, Release of Soldiers in Captivity
Naharnet/An agreement was reached on Tuesday evening in the northeastern border region of Arsal after the Muslim Scholars Committee mediated to release all soldiers held captive by extremists militants, and to assure the withdrawal of foreign armed groups from the Bekaa area.
However, hours after the accord was sealed, armed groups violated the truce and attacked army posts in Arsal's Wadi al-Raayan and Wadi Ata regions.
MTV also reported that around 3,000 armed men who were not involved in the fighting expressed readiness to withdraw from Arsal, but noted that gunfire exchange halted their plans.
And the state-run National News Agency said some leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant erected checkpoints late in the evening inside the Bekaa region and prevented residents from leaving the areas despite the “truce.”
The agreement to lull was reached in the evening after the Committee's delegation came under fire in the Bekaa town and it also followed the release of three troops in the afternoon.
Sheikh Salem al-Rafei, a member of the Committee, was safely evacuated from the area after being wounded by gunmen overnight.
The Lebanese Red Cross announced that al-Rafei was taken to a hospital in the Bekaa, adding that he was in good health despite his injury.
Meanwhile, two Internal Security Force members and a soldier were released by the gunmen after being held captive by al-Nusra Front gunmen over the weekend. Two of the released men were identified as Mtanious Mrad and Khaled Solh.
The three-member Muslim Scholars Committee delegation arrived in Arsal on Monday and reportedly sustained gunshot wounds after their convoy came under fire at night.Media reports said that al-Rafei was injured in his foot while Sheikhs Nabil al-Halabi and Jalal Kalash sustained minor wounds. The Muslim Scholars Committee later said that there is no conclusive evidence on the group that targeted the convoy of the delegation.
“We will go on with our initiative no matter what,” the committee said. It pointed out that al-Rafei needs a surgery after sustaining a severe injury.
LBCI television said that despite targeting the scholars' delegation with fire, negotiations continued in Arsal and al-Rafei listened to militants' demands.
The gunmen expressed their willingness to withdraw from the Bekaa region, and noted that a group of militants had “committed a mistake and was followed by all other factions,” LBCI reported.
Later on, al-Halabi shared the truce initiative with officials at the Grand Serail and contacted army chief General Jean Qahwaji over the same matter.
According to him, the initiative includes the withdrawal of all gunmen on Tuesday evening from Arsal, and releasing the all soldiers and security forces held captive by the extremist groups.
It also includes gunmen handing over their posts in Arsal to the region's figures who will then place them under the army and other legal bodies' authorities.
The Muslim Scholars Committee expressed fear that the developments in Arsal would impact Lebanon “negatively.”“We are seeking to force gunmen to withdraw from Arsal and the return of Lebanese armed men to Lebanon,” the committee added.
“They are seeking to reach a permanent ceasefire in the area,” Muslim Scholars Committee member Sheikh Ihab al-Banna told LBCI. Clashes intensified overnight in Arsal with the army mounting a major onslaught against Islamist militants to smother them and force them to withdraw outside Lebanese territories. Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji stressed that the army will not abide by any truce or ceasefire before knowing the fate of the kidnapped security personnel and civilians.
“The army is determined to free Arsal from the occupation imposed by takfiris and it will not cease to open fire until they withdraw,” Qahwaji was quoted as saying by his visitors.
LBCI reported that the army fortified its presence in the area overnight.
The army announced on Monday that 14 troops were killed and 86 wounded, while 22 are missing in the Arsal fighting. While Sheikh Mustafa al-Hujairi, a resident of Arsal, said that the 16 ISF members and 19 soldiers “are safe and being held inside Lebanon, not Syria.” Emile Hokayem, a senior fellow for regional security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said in comments to Agence France Presse that the situation in Arsal was an inevitable "spillover" from the Syrian conflict.
"As much as the Lebanese like to think that Syria's problems are coming to Lebanon, the reality is that Lebanon sent fighters for and against Assad to Syria... so we shouldn't be surprised that it's coming here."He said the situation in Arsal could be contained in the short-term, but warned an aggressive army response or the involvement of Hizbullah would anger Lebanon's Sunnis.
The clashes began at the weekend after the arrest of a Syrian man accused of belonging to al-Qaida's Syrian branch Al-Nusra Front.
Following his arrest, gunmen surrounded army posts before opening fire, sparking the clashes.
Arsal is majority Sunni Muslim and broadly sympathetic to the Sunni-dominated uprising next door against Syria's Bashar Assad.


Arsal violence sparks fighting in Tripoli, security forces on full alert
Mohammed Zaatari/Misbah al-Ali/Antoine Amrieh| The Daily Star
SIDON/TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Clashes erupted in Tripoli Tuesday as Lebanese security forces Tuesday remained on full alert across the country in anticipation of a backlash against the Army’s five-day operation to rid Arsal of militants. Tripoli was paralyzed by clashes that persisted throughout the day, prompting the Army to withdraw its forces from the northern neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh. A military statement said a bus carrying soldiers from the Tripoli neighborhood of Malouleh came under gunfire from armed gunmen, leaving seven soldiers wounded.
A security source told The Daily Star that one soldier was in critical condition after the 6 a.m. attack. Prior to the incident, gunmen tossed stun grenades, stones and Molotov cocktails at Lebanese Army positions between midnight and 3 a.m., according to the source. The attacks targeted Army positions near the Abu Ali roundabout, the Al-Mankoubine area and the infamous Syria Street.
source said an 8-year-old girl died Tuesday of wounds she sustained during the overnight clashes in the Bab al-Tabbaneh area. Nine other people, including four Lebanese soldiers, were also wounded, the source added. Sniper fire targeting the roads from Abu Ali roundabout to Maaloula roundabout kept the highway linking Tripoli with the northern province of Akkar closed for another day until the Army withdrew from Bab al-Tabbaneh shortly before the 8-year-old girl was laid to rest in Tripoli’s Al-Rashwani Mosque at noon.
“There is no Army presence in Bab al-Tabbaneh,” the security source told The Daily Star. A statement issued on behalf of Bab al-Tabbaneh residents condemned those fighting in the neighborhood and said the clashes had nothing to do with the residents. The statement described the clashes “very serious.” “We still believe that the Lebanese Army is the protector of the homeland and the citizens,” the statement said, while urging the military to “act responsibly.”“I call on the people of Tripoli to show wisdom and self-restraint and not to get drawn into absurd conflicts with the Lebanese Army,” Future Movement MP Mohammad Kabbara said in a news conference at his northern residence. “Despite what people are trying to convey, I am with the Lebanese Army and I support their enforcement of total control over Lebanese territories without distinction,” he said. Kabbara reiterated his belief that Hezbollah’s interference in Syria was what had brought the militants into Lebanon and was drawing the country into the Syrian crisis, although his rhetoric was significantly toned down compared with previous statements about the subject.
An attack on the delegation of the Muslim Scholar Committee in Arsal triggered the fighting in Tripoli, according to the security source.
Three members of the committee were wounded when their vehicle came under fire as it entered Arsal at midnight to mediate a truce between militants and the Lebanese Army.
Sheikh Jalal Kalash was rushed to a Beirut hospital in critical condition, while Sheikh Salem Rafei and Sheikh Nabih al-Halabi were only slightly hurt.
The Committee of Muslim Scholars said it had “no clear evidence” as to who targeted the delegation’s car. Elsewhere in the country, pre-emptive measures were ramped up in areas that could potentially serve as hubs for unrest and violence targeting the Army. In the south, the Internal Security Forces carried out a raid in the Ouzai complex near Sidon, in which Syrian refugees are housed. They searched every apartment in the three-story building, looking for arms or anyone affiliated with radical Syrian opposition groups
Security personnel deployed heavily around the neighborhood and were seen on top of the building monitoring movements, with no one else allowed to enter or exit the complex.
Otehr places where the Army was deployed included a deserted complex in the Kfar Falous neighborhood in Jezzine, and Sidon’s Hammoud University Hospital, where an Army lieutenant was transferred to the hospital to receive treatment for wounds inflicted during the Arsal clashes.
The situation in the Palestinian Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp near Sidon was generally calm, however, with residents going about their day as usual or carrying out protests in support of Gaza.
In line with efforts to distance the refugee camps from Arsal repercussions, head of the Intelligence Branch of the Lebanese Army in the south Brig. Gen. Ali Shahrour held a meeting with a Palestinian delegation comprising of the chief of the Palestinian National Security Force and the Palestinian Security Force commander, among others.
The attendees agreed to revitalize the role of the Palestinian Elite Security Force, which was created to protect the camps two months ago, in order to strengthen coordination between Lebanese and Palestinian authorities in maintaining stability and security in the camps. “The camp will not be a launching pad or corridor for [crimes] damaging Lebanese civil peace and we will not allow involvement in any act that harms the security and stability of Lebanon’s people or Army,” said the Deputy Commander of Palestinian National Security Maj. Gen. Mounir Maqdah. In the southern Zahrani area, security forces and the military, aided by the Amal Movement and Hezbollah, assisted with the scrupulous monitoring of Syrian refugee communities in order to prevent any security breaches.



Syrian Nabbed en Route to Bekaa, Abductors Seek USD50,000 Ransom
Naharnet/A Syrian national has been kidnapped for ransom while he was on his way from the Rafik Hariri International Airport to the Bekaa, the state-run National News Agency reported on Tuesday.
"Syrian national Mahmoud Mohammed Sayyah Moudawar reported to the Bayader al-Adas police station in Western Bekaa the abduction of his uncle Abdul Moneim Mahmoud Moudawar,” the NNA detailed. NNA said Moudawar was taken en route from the airport to the Bekaa, noting that he had returned to Lebanon coming from Qatar. The news agency, however, did not specify where they abduction took place. The kidnappers then telephoned their victim's wife, asking for a USD50,000 ransom. Tuesday's abduction comes as army troops and security forces have been implementing a security plan in the Bekaa, the North and Beirut's southern suburbs. The plan has been successful in arresting several leaders of kidnapping rings.


Hezbollah denies role in clashes
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Hezbollah Tuesday denied its fighters intervened in the ongoing clashes between the Lebanese Army and militants from Syria in Arsal, while commending the government for its unified stance in support of the military. “ Hezbollah affirms that addressing militarily developments on the ground, protecting civilians and confronting terrorist groups were the exclusive responsibility of the Lebanese Army,” Hezbollah said in a statement. “ Hezbollah did not intervene in what happened or is happening in Arsal.” A number of Future lawmakers and some media outlets said the resistance group, already battling armed groups in Syria alongside regime troops, was assisting the Army in its fight against militants in the northeastern town of Arsal. Hezbollah-backed Syrian regime troops have engaged in fierce battles with radical groups including the Nusra Front in Qalamoun, a mountainous region bordering Arsal and other Lebanese towns, in an attempt to root out rebels there.
Hezbollah also praised the unified stand of the government in support of the Army. “The stance confirms the national consensus on supporting the Lebanese Army in the face of takfiri terror and confronts attempts to sabotage civil peace and violate Lebanon’s sovereignty,” the party said. “ Hezbollah praises local media outlets for deciding to back the Army and refraining from broadcasting or printing anything that might harm the military.”The government of Prime Minister Tammam Salam unanimously threw its weight behind the military Monday. Salam underlined that the Cabinet, in which rival political groups are represented, stands unanimously behind the Army in its combat against the militants

Russia Warns of Terrorism in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq
Naharnet/The Russian Foreign Ministry stated on Tuesday that Syria, Iraq and Lebanon are facing a “common danger” manifested in “international terrorism that does not acknowledge borders between countries and seeks to seize more lands.” "It is necessary to denounce double standards and to abstain from taking steps that do not lead to containing the situation but on the contrary, could encourage terrorism and extremists' threats in the turbulent Middle East,” Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a released statement. Moscow's declaration comes as army troops have been battling with gunmen in the eastern border town of Arsal since Saturday. The clashes, which started upon the arrest of a man linked to the al-Qaida inspired al-Nusra Front, have resulted in the martyrdom of at least 16 soldiers while 22 others have gone missing. Meanwhile in Iraq, the state's forces have been involved in severe clashes against the Islamic State's militants who have since June seized control of several cities in the country.

World raises voices of support against the din of Arsal battle
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: As clashes between the Lebanese Army and militants in Arsal intensified Tuesday, the international community weighed in to offer support to the Lebanese state and especially the military. U.S. Ambassador David Hale said Tuesday that Lebanon could count on Washington’s continued assistance to the Lebanese Army, which was facing what he described as unprecedented threats, and praised the military for its work in insulating the country from regional turmoil. Speaking after his meeting with Prime Minister Tammam Salam, Hale reiterated U.S. support for the Army and security agencies in their work to secure the borders, protect Lebanon from terrorism and insulate Lebanon from regional conflicts through disassociation. Hale was referring to the policy of disassociation Lebanon’s government adopted to keep the country at a distance from turmoil in the region, particularly events in Syria. According to the embassy’s Twitter feed, Hale also said that his country’s assistance program to the Lebanese military was “long-standing, ongoing and is helping the Army to meet its challenges.”“US is committed to further efforts to build up the capabilities of Lebanon’s security forces to counter terrorism [and] address other challenges,” he said. “ Lebanon can count on continued #American support for the @LebaneseArmy #partnership.” Hale said the U.S. was closely following the situation in the northeastern town of Arsal, where the military has been battling militants from Syria for four days, in the worst violence since 2011. The U.S. official commended the bravery of soldiers “as they confront these unprecedented threats.”
Sixteen soldiers were killed and at least 86 others were wounded in the ongoing clashes between the Army and gunmen, who attacked military posts and a police station over the weekend and kidnapped some 30 security personnel. Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Mohammad Fathali sent a letter to Army Chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi to express solidarity with the “valiant Lebanese Army in its confrontation with the murky takfiri extremist forces.” He sent condolences over the soldiers killed in the clashes, relaying his confidence that “the Lebanese Army ... will succeed to eliminate this deviant phenomenon.” Fathali stressed Iran’s support to Lebanon, saying his country “stands by Lebanon” in its mission to “safe-guard its security and stability.”Russia’s Foreign Ministry voiced its support for Lebanon, saying recent attacks in Arsal were a serious threat to Lebanon’s stability.  The ministry stressed the need to preserve stability in Lebanon, saying Russia had provided military assistance to police. It asked its international partners to evaluate “the dangerous phenomenon appearing in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.”
“It is important to abandon the policy of double standards and avoid steps that would worsen the terrorist and radical threat in the Middle East,” the ministry said. “Authorities in Damascus, Baghdad and Beirut are facing a mutual threat: the proliferation of this international terror that does not recognize borders and seeks to control more territory.”
Meanwhile, Syria pledged support for the Lebanese Army in its fight against terrorism.
Syria “affirms that it stands with the Lebanese Army and stands in solidarity with them in dealing with terrorist groups and eliminating them,” a source at the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on the state-run Syrian news agency SANA. The source said Damascus was confident of Lebanon’s victory in this battle, and in thwarting all plots that had been planned to destabilize Lebanon’s security and stability. The U.N. Security Council backed Lebanon’s military operations in Arsal, but urged Lebanon not to get dragged into the war in Syria. The council “expressed support for the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces in their fight against terrorism,” calling on Lebanese politicians to “preserve national unity” and “refrain from any involvement in the Syrian crisis.”

Private business in Lebanon suffering
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanese private firms continued to reel under the harsh economic, security and political conditions, with new data showing decline in the month of July, according to a survey conducted by BLOM Bank. “Political uncertainty and security issues continued to dampen market demand during July, contributing to further contractions in the amount of new work placed with businesses and overall output levels. Furthermore, rates of contraction accelerated on both fronts, with the latest decrease in new orders the most marked since March. There was also a decrease in new export orders in the Lebanese private sector, the third in as many months,” according to BLOM’s Purchasing Managers’ Index. The PMI is based on data compiled from monthly replies to questionnaires sent to purchasing executives in approximately 400 private sector companies, which have been carefully selected to represent the structure of the Lebanese economy, including manufacturing, services, construction and retail. The PMI is a composite index, calculated as a weighted average of five individual sub-components: New Orders (30 percent), Output (25 percent), Employment (20 percent), Suppliers’ Delivery Times (15 percent) and Stocks of Purchases (10 percent). Readings above 50.0 signal an improvement in business conditions on the previous month, while readings below 50.0 show deterioration.
July saw the seasonally adjusted BLOM Lebanon PMI fall to a four-month low of 47.9 from 49.1 in June, signaling a sharper deterioration in overall business conditions in Lebanon’s private sector.
The headline index has now posted below the neutral 50.0 mark for 13 months in a row. The PMI showed employment levels were broadly unchanged in July following a rise during the previous month when a downturn had showed signs of easing. A decrease in outstanding business suggested that staffing levels were more than sufficient to cope with the current levels of demand faced by businesses.
“While payrolls were kept largely unchanged, businesses reduced their purchasing in accordance with lower workloads. The degree to which buying levels dropped was only slight, however, leading to a rise in inventories as sales fell at a comparatively faster rate. The decrease in purchasing activity, albeit only slight, meanwhile contributed to a marginal improvement in suppliers’ delivery times,” BLOM added. July’s survey showed a decrease in output prices for the sixth time in the past seven months, with the latest fall the sharpest since April and offsetting a modest rise in June.
Firms reported having lowered charges in order to encourage sales. “Providing businesses with the scope to reduce their selling prices were low-cost pressures. Overall input price inflation ticked up since June but remained muted, with lower staffing costs negating some of the impact of modestly higher purchase prices,” the study showed.

Israel-Hamas talks to open in Cairo after 72-hour ceasefire. Netanyahu faces credibility gap at home
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis August 5, 2014/Israel and a Palestinian delegation to talks in Cairo, including Hamas, were due to start observing a 72-hour ceasefire in the Gaza Strip starting Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 8 a.m., to be followed by negotiations under Egyptian aegis for a long-term cessation of hostilities. This decision flies in the face of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s solemn pledge 48 hours earlier to continue Operation Defensive Edge until Hamas and its terrorist allies stopped firing rockets (a massive barrage was fired up to five minutes to eight). He stated that Israel was turning away from ceasefire accords, which Hamas had violated six times causing IDF fatalities, and reserving its military and diplomatic freedom of action to act solely in its own security interests. “No accommodation, only deterrence” was the motto of the moment Saturday night, Aug. 2. Even as he spoke, the bulk of Israel’s ground troops were on their way out of the Gaza Strip. But he assured the public that they were regrouping and refreshing ranks for a new, offensive formation that would stand ready to cross back in a trice if necessary.
But already then, the prime minister had quietly conceded to the demands of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and US Foreign Secretary John Kerry to withdraw IDF contingents from the Gaza Strip. This was in obedience to Hamas’ precondition for talks, following which Israeli envoys would present themselves in Cairo for indirect negotiations on a long-term accommodation with Hamas through Egyptian intermediaries.
The slogan designed for the goal of these talks was now: “Rehabilitation in exchange for demilitarization.”
By Monday, when the ceasefire deal was already in the bag, the prime minister, defense minister Moshe Ya’alon and a group of senior officers led by Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, met the community leaders of the 250,000 Israelis whose homes and lands abut the Gaza Strip. They promised the communities that, for the first time in 13 years, they would be safe from Palestinian rocket fire.
The IDF would build a new security fence enclosing Gaza like the barrier along the Egyptian border and instal a home guard system backed by electronic sensors and other gadgets in all their communities.
Doubters, who wondered how a fence would stop rockets and the underground terror tunnels burrowed surreptitiously under their homes, were not heeded. By then, tens of thousands of reservists called up for the Gaza war were being released and columns of tanks and heavy equipment were heading north.
The military traffic rolling away from the Gaza Strip was so heavy Monday night that the police issued a notice to civilian drivers using those roads.
When the 72-hour ceasefire was announced after midnight Monday, a “high-ranking Israel official” noted that if the ceasefire holds, an Israeli military presence in Gaza will not be necessary. He said Israel had upheld its commitment not to accept ceasefire deal with Hamas, so long as it was accompanied by preconditions and until the terror tunnels were dismantled. The 32nd tunnel was destroyed Monday night, he announced, and the work would continue henceforth on the Israeli side of the border.
A former National Security Adviser Gen (res) Giora Eiland, summed up the month-long Israeli military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip as a draw between the two adversaries, with neither side the winner. This judgment, shared by many military experts contradicted the way the operation’s outcome is presented by the prime minister and defense minister who directed it. They describe Hamas as reeling from the heavy damage the IDF wrought to its military machine and weakened enough to be finished off at the negotiating table in Cairo.
Israel reckons that around 50 percent of the 1,867 Gazans estimated killed and 9,500 injured in the operation were Hamas or Islamic Jihad fighters.
The damage was undoubtedly heavy, but still Hamas has come out of the Israeli offensive standing on its feet, an outcome that will have profound political and security ramifications upon and beyond the forthcoming Cairo negotiations.
The reality facing Israel’s war planners at home is also grim: For the first time, the country comes out of a major conflict with a domestic refugee problem. Longtime inhabitants of the region around the Gazan border who have lost homes, property or livelihood have nothing to return to after the ceasefire.
There are no official figures for Israel’s internal refugee problem, but it is believed that up to half of the quarter of a million people inhabiting 57 communities, many of them kibbutzim and private farms, who fled during the hostilities, may refuse to return.
While many endured 13 years of on-and-off rocket fire, they are consumed by the dread of Hamas terrorists jumping out of tunnels in their fields, classrooms or kitchens.
They point to negative side of the IDF official statement: “We have destroyed all the tunnels we know about” as being far from an ironclad guarantee to have obliterated that menace. And the rockets never let up for a single day in the month-long IDF operation - 3,300 in all.
Israel’s first ghost villages are clearly visible to the enemy and no doubt chalked up on the credit side of the Hamas war ledger.
Haim Yelin, head of the Eshkol District Council said Monday that 75 percent of the frontline population has moved north. He said he believes the assurances he received from Netanyahu and Ya’alon that the IDF has solved the tunnel threat and would provide the communities with protection against new tunnels. But he said, people are no longer willing to live under the threat of terrorist rocket fire, which they don’t believe has been finally curbed.
This credibility gap is part of the general unease over the outcome of this long-delayed counter-terror operation. It started out with 86 percent of the population canvassed holding high hopes of curing the festering terrorist woe emanting from the Gaza Strip. But now, Israel’s leaders, no less than Hamas, face a rehabilitation challenge – not just the reconstruction of damaged businesses, farms and buildings, but also of faith in government.



Gaza is not the only Palestinian cause
Tuesday, 5 August 2014
Khairallah Khairallah/Al Arabiya
It is too early to make a final judgment on the result of the Israeli offensive against Gaza. However, nothing prevents us from asking direct questions regarding the seemingly endless and fruitless Israeli brutality on one hand, and on the other hand, questioning Hamas’s behavior, its political rhetoric and the enthusiasm of its supporters who urge it to “resist” cheeringly while cursing all Arabs.
The most dangerous crime currently being committed against Gaza is encapsulated in Hamas’ failure to take into consideration that Israel is a state which practices terrorism and that Arabs are busy with many issues which they consider to be more important than Gaza. Added to that, the international community is in a world of its own altogether. It’s willing to condemn crimes committed by Israel but it does not intend to take any practical measures to stop its aggression. He who encourages Hamas to resume launching rockets against Israel is ignorant of a very important matter and that is the imbalance of power between the two sides.
“One cannot engage in wars with a state that only believes in using force”
Arabs and Palestinians have so far lost all their battles with Israel due to their failure to take into account the balance of power. Regardless of what has been said and narrated, it’s not true that they won any battle. Yes, Hamas can launch thousands of rockets towards Israel, but what will happen afterwards? Are those rockets capable of lifting the dark siege that smothers Gaza?
The deep crisis
In the end, there’s no new war which Hamas, and those behind it, can use to overcome the deep crisis that the movement is facing. It seems that Hamas thought it could embarrass Egypt and export its domestic crisis to the West Bank to eliminate the Palestinian National Authority or whatever is left of it. It turned out that this plan is both laughable and worth crying over at the same time. It resembles the plan to liberate Palestine from the river to the sea (or from the sea to the river) - there’s no difference - starting from Gaza.
He who really wants what’s good for the Palestinian people should call a spade a spade. In this case, this means that Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood organization to which it is linked, should declare themselves bankrupt. Hamas is politically bankrupt. He who knows how to lose in politics is a lot more worthy than the one who knows how to win. It’s clear that Hamas neither knows how to win nor lose. To be frank, in my opinion it is serving Israeli policy which depends on settlements for the purpose of occupying part of the West Bank, including Eastern Jerusalem.
It won’t be long before the Israeli shelling stops. Therefore, it won’t be long before the scale of the damage in Gaza, and that suffered by its residents, is revealed. It also won’t be long before Hamas will be accused of bringing destruction upon Gaza when it allowed Israel to use its weapons without taking into consideration the balance of power. Hamas forgot that some Palestinians are still homeless in Gaza even now since the 2008-2009 war.
State which uses force
One cannot engage in wars with a state that only believes in using force. This is what Hamas should have understood from the beginning. The Palestinian national reconciliation was an opportunity to avoid the war. Accepting a government headed by Dr Rami Hamdallah was tantamount to admitting that the Hamas project was over and that it was high time that the Palestinian Authority was left to deal with the crisis following the abduction and killing of the three settlers in al-Khalil.
However, it turned out that Hamas does not want to deal with the reality which led it to the Palestinian reconciliation. It seemed to prefer to engage in a confrontation with Egypt and its people. This is an indication that Hamas has reached a dead end.
Now, Hamas turns to Cairo while knowing deep down that big talk about “resistance,” flying missiles, the reopening of the Yasser Arafat airport in the Strip and the lifting of the siege is just that – talk devoid of any content. Turning to Cairo, a move which was rejected until recently, is in my opinion, a proof that the policy of resentment against Egypt is pointless.
Reducing the Palestinian cause to just being the cause of Gaza is perhaps the most dangerous move that Hamas has undertaken. Hamas escaped its domestic crisis by engaging in an incompetent confrontation with Israel and its state terrorism. With all due respect to Gaza, the Strip is not the sole Palestinian cause in my view. The cause is much bigger than Gaza, it is that of a people who seek to find a place on the map and to practice their legitimate right like any other people in the region.
The time to settle outstanding accounts is nearing. The scale of destruction in Gaza will be revealed, and it is such a large-scale destruction that it exceeds anyone’s imagination. It will be clear that abandoning the confrontation of Israel through political means, and engaging in a project based on confronting Egypt to serve Iran and other parties, only results in falling in the Israeli trap.
Power grab
The power grab which Hamas orchestrated in Gaza in mid-2007 was part of a game which included spreading arms, eliminating Fatah and expelling it from the Strip with the aim of seizing power.
Hamas will, in the next few days, be able to launch more missiles and kill more Israelis. Then what? What will decide the situation on the ground is the balance of power. The balance of power is in the Palestinians’ favor politically, but militarily, it is not. It’s true that political victory is not guaranteed but what is also true is that a military loss is guaranteed and this ends any possibility of achieving a political victory in the future. Is there anyone willing to listen and learn from past experiences? Or does Hamas think it can liberate Palestine and Jerusalem just as it liberated the Gaza Strip from Fatah in 2007?

Maliki’s only option is to leave Iraq

Tuesday, 5 August 2014 /Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Gaza’s crisis will not succeed in diverting attention away from the wars in Syria and Iraq. Indeed, these two wars, particularly that in Iraq, may alter the course of the region. Iraqis may finally succeed in achieving a safe and smooth transition towards a new government which has the support of the majority of the Iraqi people. This will end the chapter of fear and chaos and open a new page and a new era.
Agreeing over a new government , a new prime minister, a new president and a new speaker for the parliament will save Iraq from chaos and partition and will enable Iraqis to confront terrorist groups and reform relations with their neighbors. “The only natural choice left for [Maliki] is to move to Tehran or London for a few years until the storm abates”
One step is needed in Iraq to achieve this change, and that is appointing a new prime minister. In Baghdad, politicians continue to besiege the stubborn premier, Nouri al-Maliki, whose legitimacy has ended. After running out of tricks, he said that he agrees to step down but not at a cheap price. He stipulated 28 conditions; requesting immunity for himself and hundreds of his followers to save them from being held to account for corruption and crimes committed during the eight years of his iron-fist rule. The conditions also included compensatory posts, payments and real estate!
Maliki’s delayed moves.

Maliki was very late in setting these terms only after political, religious and foreign powers agreed to remove him. He’s got nothing to bargain over, other than attaining some sort of immunity - and even that may not last long if more of his mismanagement is exposed. If he seeks to be safe and prevent being pursued, his logical choice would be to leave Iraq. The only natural choice left for him is to move to Tehran or London for a few years until the storm abates. His bad legacy will make it difficult for him to attain any definite assurances from anyone . He flared animosities with his opponents to the extent that scores of politicians had to flee Baghdad to safe havens in Iraqi Kurdistan, Jordan, Beirut and London. Meanwhile, he spent billions of dollars on his presidential guards to protect himself at the expense of protecting Iraq and its people. He increased the number of presidential guards from 6,000 to 70,000 in the capital Baghdad and appointed his relatives to oversee them. He thus followed in the footsteps of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and this is the secret behind Maliki’s tyranny and why his rivals fear him - he possessed a military power more trained and armed than the state forces.
Now that all of Iraq’s political forces have agreed to remove him, he is exaggerating his demands in the hope that he will remain the only figure who can impose his will on the future prime minister and the new Iraqi government. This may trigger a future battle. He wants huge funds, real estate, a force of 2500 troops to be added to his militias - as well as civil posts and jurisdictions.
No one wants the departing prime minister to be humiliated or subjected to revenge. This means the only safe option left for him after he leaves his palace will be to travel abroad, although few countries will welcome him.


Netanyahu's 'Long War' Doctrine
By: Jonathan Spyer/PJ Media
August 5, 2014
As a number of former senior Israeli officials pointed out in the course of Operation Protective Edge, Jerusalem had only two possible strategic options to choose from as it entered this fight.
The first involved seeking to inflict serious damage on Hamas's military capabilities in an operation limited in scope. The goal of such a course of action would be to achieve deterrence against Hamas. Implicit in this option is that, at its conclusion, the Hamas authority in Gaza would still be in existence — chastened, but alive.
The second, more ambitious option would have been to have pushed on into the Gaza Strip, and to have destroyed the Hamas authority there. This would have resembled Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. Israeli forces would have needed to remain in Gaza for months, or years, in order to suppress and destroy the continued guerrilla resistance which Hamas and other Palestinian groups would no doubt have undertaken.This second option would also have required Israel to re-establish the civil administration in Gaza, taking responsibility for the lives of the 1.8 million residents of the Strip. This is because it would be politically impossible for the Ramallah Palestinian Authority to receive the Gaza Strip on a silver platter, as it were, from the Golani Brigade and its sister units of the Israel Defense Forces.
It is also likely that the insurgency which would have followed the destruction of Hamas rule would have proven a magnet for the jihadi forces which are currently proliferating in the neighborhood. ISIS and similar organizations are already in the Gaza Strip in small numbers. But the "global jihad" would like nothing more than to find a platform from which to begin war against the Jews.
Given all this, it is not surprising that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to have chosen the first option.
Netanyahu, in stark contrast to his image in Europe and to a lesser extent in North America, is deeply cautious when it comes to the use of military force.
Indeed, the record shows that Israel elected to begin a ground campaign on July 18th only when it became clear from its actions and its statements that Hamas was not interested in a return to the status quo ante. This caution does not come from a temperamental inability to manage military action. Indeed, the Israeli prime minister's performance in recent weeks may go some way to dispelling the image which his opponents have sought to disseminate in Israel in recent years. That is, Netanyahu is a man who buckles under pressure and is easily swayed from his course. This is the first time that one of Israel's longest-serving prime ministers has led the country in a military confrontation. The general sense in Israel is that his performance as a leader has been relatively effective — setting clear and limited goals and pursuing them with vigor. Netanyahu's caution derives, rather, from his perception that what Israel calls "wars" or "operations" are really only episodes in a long war in which the country is engaged against those who seek its destruction. In the present phase, these forces are gathered largely under the banner of radical Islam, though this was not always so.
In such a conflict, what matters is not a quick and crushing perception of victory. Indeed, the search for a knockout, a final decision in this or that operation , given the underlying realities, is likely to end in overstretch, error and non-achievement. What matters is the ability to endure, conserve one's forces — military and societal — and to work away on wearing down the enemy's will. Military achievement, as well as economic and societal success, are all weapons in this war.
This view notes the essentially implacable nature of the core Arab and Muslim hostility to Israel. So it includes an inbuilt skepticism toward the possibility of historic reconciliation and final-status peace accords. At the same time, this view does not rule out alliances of convenience with regional powers. As Netanyahu's recent speeches have indicated, the Israeli prime minister is deeply aware that the immediate interests of Egypt and Saudi Arabia are largely coterminous with those of Israel.
All three countries are hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood and to the ambitions of Iran and its allies. All three are deeply dismayed at the current U.S. administration's softness toward and accommodation of these forces. It is an alliance of the coldest, most pragmatic and most hard-headed type. Precisely for this reason, it works.
Egyptian President Sisi is locked in a war of death against the Muslim Brotherhood at home and sees the Hamas enclave in Gaza as an extension of his domestic opponents. The speech given by Saudi King Abdullah this week also held Hamas responsible for the current situation.
So for now, Israel is redeploying its forces outside Gaza, with the option and possibility of strikes back inside if a renewed ceasefire continues to prove elusive. The IDF will continue to maintain the pressure on Hamas, even as the rulers of Gaza participate in ceasefire negotiations managed by Sisi in Cairo. There are reports of Israel establishing a de facto buffer zone inside the Gaza Strip, to reduce the ability of Hamas to fire short-range rockets at southern Israeli communities.
All this forms part of an effort to undertake the containment and incremental weakening of the Islamist entity in Gaza, in cooperation with whoever, for his own reasons, is willing to cooperate.
Netanyahu's vision is a chilly one, though it is not ultimately pessimistic. It aims to provide firm, durable walls for the house that the Jews of Israel have constructed. Within those walls the energies of Israeli Jews will ensure success — provided that the walls can be kept secure, thus believes the Israeli prime minister. It is from the point of view of this broader strategic picture that the current actions of Israel need to be understood. Operation Protective Edge — like Cast Lead and Orchard and Lebanon 2006 and the others — is intended as a single action in a long and unfinished war.
**Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict (Continuum, 2011).

Canada Condemns Attack on Lebanese Armed Forces

August 4, 2014 - Hilary Childs-Adams, Canada’s Ambassador to Lebanon, today issued the following statement:
“Canada strongly condemns attacks by armed militants on the Lebanese Armed Forces in the town of Arsal, which in addition to having caused the deaths of a number of civilians, have left soldiers dead or missing, with more than a dozen members of security forces having been taken hostage.
“On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives in the fighting.
“We call upon all actors in Lebanon to respect Lebanon’s official position of dissociation from regional conflict, and to abide by the Baabda Declaration.
“Canada stands by the Lebanese people and Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s efforts to preserve Lebanon’s stability and safeguard it from the spillover of regional conflicts.
“The Lebanese Armed Forces are an important symbol of Lebanese national unity and sovereignty, and are to be commended on the pivotal role they are playing in protecting the Lebanese people.”