July 13/14

Bible Quotation for today/."See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves"

Matthew 10,16-25./‘See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. ‘A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!


Question: "What is Israel's role in the end times?"

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For July 13/14

Why Does Hamas Want War/By Daniel Pipes/July 13/14

What is Israel's role in the end times/ 13/14

As Israel-Palestine descends into violence, what should Europe do/Nathalie Tocci/July 13/14

Of wrath, recklessness, soccer and apathy/By: Hisham Melhem/Al Arabiya/July 13/14


Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For July 13/14
Lebanese Related News

Geagea: We Must Begin Holding those behind Deadlock Responsible for their Actions
Report: Salam Made International Contacts to Avoid Spread of Gaza Unrest to Lebanon
Roumieh Inmates' Families Protest in Tripoli, Rifi Warns of Dragging City Back into 'Circle of Violence'

Hizbullah Sends Reinforcements to Reef Damascus amid Fears of Near Attack by Rebel Fighters
Drug-Filled Toothpaste Seized at Zahle Prison
Suleiman Deplores Gaza Massacres, Berri Says 'Resistance Only Response' on Eve of July 2006 War
Report: Mustaqbal, AMAL Reach Agreement over Payment of Salaries for Civil Servants

Death Penalty Sought for Rifaat Eid, Jabal Mohsen Top Gunmen
Authorities fear abduction of Army soldiers: report

Rifi urges Tripoli residents to show self-restraint

Berri: Israel proves resistance only answer

Hezbollah, Hamas coordinating: official

Forces beef up measures along Israel-Lebanon border

Bassil calls for free trade pact with Brazil
Miscellaneous Reports And News For July 13/14

Israel, Hamas Defy Truce Calls as Gaza Toll Hits 150

U.N. Security Council Calls for Gaza Ceasefire

Netanyahu floats exit plan: Let Hamas rule Gaza, leave the IDF in control of West Bank security

Israel Vows No Let-up, Hamas Defiant, as Gaza Toll Tops 127

At Long Last, U.S. Senate Unanimously Passes Bill to Create Middle East Special Envoy for Religious Freedom
Canadian Statement on Situation in Gaza
Rockets from Gaza hit West Bank cities: Israel

Israel's Iron Dome changes the face of battle

Poisonous pressure
Thousands in Europe protest Gaza strikes

Abbas to UN: Demand immediate Gaza ceasefIre

WHO appeals for $60m. for Gaza hospitals

Jordan reluctant to host Syria rebel training

Iraq executed prisoners in revenge for ISIS: HRW

Sisi Meets Blair, Warns against Gaza 'Escalation' 

Iran Warns Could Walk Away from Nuclear Talks


Israel, Hamas Defy Truce Calls as Gaza Toll Hits 150
NaharnetظThe world implored Israel and Hamas Saturday to end hostilities as warplanes pounded Gaza for a fifth straight day, killing at least 45 Palestinians, and militants replied with rockets. Both sides have brushed off calls for a truce, and Israel is building up troops and armor on the Gaza border for a possible ground invasion. As the Palestinian death toll hit 150, and with no Israelis killed, the U.N. Security Council unanimously urged Israel and Hamas to respect "international humanitarian laws" and stop the loss of life.
The 15-member council urged a return to the "calm and restitution of the November 2012 ceasefire", referring to Gaza's last deadly full-scale conflict. Israel's aerial campaign -- the largest and deadliest since 2012 -- saw strikes start early on Saturday, including one that hit a center for the handicapped, and another that killed two nephews of Gaza's former Hamas premier, Ismail Haniya. Rockets fired from Gaza targeted Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, with several intercepted over Israel's commercial capital and Jerusalem-bound projectiles hitting two southern West Bank cities.
Hundreds of rockets have so far caused no Israeli deaths, and many have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
In the latest attack, at least 15 Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza City late on Saturday, medics in the coastal enclave said.
"At least 15 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli strike on the Tuffah neighborhood in Gaza City that hit a house and a mosque," emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.
Another 35 were injured in the same strike, and one more person was killed in southern Gaza's Rafah, Qudra said. An attack on the northern Gaza Strip hit a center for the handicapped, killing two disabled women and wounding four, the center's director said. "They didn't understand what was happening and they were so frightened," Jamila Alaywa said of those inside the care home.
"They fired the rocket and it hit us without any warning."Other targets included a bank, the homes of Hamas leaders and a mosque that Israel said was used to store weapons.
Two of Haniya's nephews were among the dead in one strike, residents said. Three rockets fired from Gaza, apparently at Jerusalem, fell short, hitting Hebron and Bethlehem, the army and Palestinian security sources said, with no reports of casualties. Of four fired later at Tel Aviv, three were intercepted above the city and another hit open ground south of it, the army said, with Hamas having warned of the attacks an hour before. Hamas has fired several rockets at Jerusalem and Israel's commercial capital Tel Aviv since Tuesday, most of which have been intercepted. Well over 500 projectiles have struck Israel, the army says.
Amid international efforts to mediate a truce, Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi's government was in touch with both sides, his spokesman said. Sisi met Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair in Cairo on Saturday to discuss the crisis, and later warned against escalation causing further loss of "innocent lives". In Washington, the White House has said it is willing to "leverage" its relationships in the region to bring about a ceasefire.
The chief diplomats of Britain, France, Germany and the United States are due to discuss how to achieve a truce when they meet in Vienna on Sunday.
Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini plans to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories from July 14-17 and Egypt on July 18, her ministry said. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a taped interview with U.S. broadcaster NBC, urged Washington to use the U.N. to stop the Israeli strikes.
However, there has been little sign that either side is interested in an immediate end to the hostilities. On Friday, Cairo said its efforts to mediate a return to a 2012 ceasefire agreement "have met with stubbornness".
And Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told a Tel Aviv news conference he would not end the military campaign until he achieved his goal of stopping the Hamas fire.
"No international pressure will prevent us from striking, with all force, against the terrorist organization which calls for our destruction," he said.
Haniya said: "(Israel) is the one that started this aggression and it must stop, because we are (simply) defending ourselves."
The latest conflict unfolded after last month's kidnap and murder of three young Israelis in the occupied West Bank and the brutal revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists.
Israel cracked down on Hamas, though the Islamist group declined to confirm or deny involvement in the abductions, and Gaza militants hit back with intensified rocket fire.
Israel says preparations are under way for a possible ground incursion, with tanks and artillery massed along the border and some 33,000 reservists mobilized out of 40,000 approved by the cabinet.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said he expected a political decision on a possible ground operation to be taken by Sunday.
Agence France Presse

Hezbollah, Hamas coordinating on the ground: official
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Hamas official Osama Hamdan said in remarks published Saturday that his party was coordinating on the ground with Hezbollah, insisting that the Palestinian group could confront a ground operation by Israel. Asked in an interview with Assafir about coordination between Palestinian and Lebanese resistance, Hamdan said: “The enemy is the same and our tactics are the same. Therefore, we put in efforts to exchange expertise. There is constant field cooperation and coordination.” “The relationship with Hezbollah and Iran today is better than everyone thinks, and ties with Hezbollah [specifically] is by far better than what [enemy] optimists want to believe,” Hamadan, the head of Hamas International Relations department, said. “These ties are based on confronting the Zionist and working on liberating Palestine. Everyone is keen on preserving such a relationship regardless of how much the circumstances change and opinions differ." Ties between Hamas and Hezbollah have deteriorated over the crisis in Syria, but the two parties have said that they seek to preserve their relationship. During his chat with the Lebanese local daily, Hamdan said Hamas’ ability to withstand attack was very strong and it was capable “of continuing to fire rockets and confront any ground operation and reach deep into Israel.”“The resistance has grown from a military faction to include more people, and now today involves the general population. Therefore, it is difficult to defeat it, but the battle will take some time and there are plenty of surprises to come.” At least 120 Palestinians have been killed in the past few days since Israel launched airstrikes on Gaza, in the most serious hostilities between the Jewish state ad Hamas since 2012. Hamas has claimed many of the rocket attacks into Israel. The conflict began after the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers and the retaliatory kidnapping of a Palestinian teenager who was burned alive. While Hamas has denied involvement in the Israeli abduction, Israeli officials have blamed extremist Jews for the latter case.


Suleiman Deplores Gaza Massacres, Berri Says 'Resistance Only Response' on Eve of July 2006 War
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri stated on Saturday that the resistance is the only response to Israeli atrocities, noting that the “national Palestinian unity will remain the strongest and the lasting weapon” in the face of violence. "The only response to the massacre and to the violence is the resistance which is the people's sole weapon to deter atrocities,” Berri said on the eve of the July 2006 war with Israel.
The Speaker considered that Israel has turned Gaza into a space where it parades it aerial, naval and ground weaponry against the people of the Strip and their possessions, "without excluding hospitals, places of worship and civilian targets."He continued: “And this July the Palestinian resistance is repeating the Lebanese resistance's lesson in defying the Zionist violence... The resistance is the result of occupation, violence, and of continuous (Israeli) threats of resorting to force. He then announced that he's fully aligned with the Palestinian people in the face of Israeli crimes. "We call on all Arab nations and people to realize that the central cause was and will remain Palestine,” he stressed. Berri also noted that the current events must strengthen the unity of the Palestinian people as it is “the strongest and the lasting weapon until they achieve their national goals.”Former President Michel Suleiman also expressed his solidarity with the Palestinian people against Israel. "We condemn and deplore the massacres committed against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and we lament the death of many victims,” Suleiman said in a telephone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He assured Lebanon's solidarity with the Palestinian people against the “barbaric and unjustified Israeli assault.”The former President also called for Arab's Leagues solidarity with and support for Palestinians in another telephone call with League chief Nabil al-Arabi. He reiterated Lebanon's endorsement of the Arab peace initiative and called for implementing it and achieving an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.


Report: Salam Made International Contacts to Avoid Spread of Gaza Unrest to Lebanon
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam made a series of contacts lately in order to keep Lebanon away from the repercussions of the unrest in the Gaza Strip, reported An Nahar daily on Saturday. It said that Salam contacted the representatives of major world powers in Beirut to that end. He stressed that the government was not responsible for the firing of rockets from southern Lebanon towards Israel on Friday. He also asserted that Hizbullah was not linked to the incident. The premier stressed Lebanon's commitment to the implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1701 that was issued in 2006 to end Israel's 33-day war with Hizbullah that erupted in July of that year. Israel launched a campaign against the Palestinian group Hamas in the Gaza Strip earlier this week, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing that it would not end until he achieved his goal of stopping the Hamas fire. At least 100 Palestinians have so far been killed in the bombardment.


Geagea: We Must Begin Holding those behind Deadlock Responsible for their Actions
Naharnet /Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea condemned on Friday the ongoing vacuum in the presidency, saying that the situation should not continue as it is, said the LF media office in a statement on Saturday. Geagea said: “We must begin holding those behind the deadlock responsible for their actions.”“We will risk prolonging the status quo if we fail to take any action to rectify the situation,” he said before an LF-hosted dinner. “The Lebanese people have the power to either change the political class or not take any action and keep the situation as it is,” he added. Geagea justified the LF's refusal to take part in the cabinet, noting the “state's absence in tackling the people's daily problems.” “Those responsible for the absence of the state are obstructing constitutional institutions, starting with the presidency, cabinet, and parliament,” he remarked. “It is true that we are facing several problems, but that does not mean that the situation is impossible to handle,” he added. “We still have the solutions and we should decide our fate by ourselves,” he demanded. “Each citizen must therefore carefully consider the situation and rectify it at the first democratic opportunity he gets, such as the parliamentary elections,” explained the LF chief. “Those obstructing political life must be kicked out of it because they are hindering democracy, state institutions, and the interests of the people,” he said. Lebanon has been plunged in vacuum in the presidency since the term of President Michel Suleiman ended in May. Eight presidential elections sessions have been held, seven of which were obstructed due to a lack of quorum at parliament caused by a boycott by the March 8 lawmakers of the Change and Reform and Loyalty to the Resistance blocs over differences on a presidential candidate. Head of the Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun has repeatedly announced that he would run in the elections if there is consensus over his nomination. Geagea, a presidential candidate himself, has repeatedly called on the March 8 alliance to name its candidate, holding the FPM responsible for the obstruction of the presidential elections. The next elections session is scheduled for July 23.


Hizbullah Sends Reinforcements to Reef Damascus amid Fears of Near Attack by Rebel Fighters
Naharnet /Hizbullah has sent reinforcements to several cities in Reef Damascus amid reports of a possible attack on the region by the Syrian opposition's fighters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday. "Hizbullah continues to send reinforcements to areas in al-Qalamoun plains and to the surroundings of al-Zabadani (50 kilometers northwest of Damascus),” the Observer announced in a statement, noting that this might be part of a plan for an attack on the region by the Syrian regime's forces aided by Hizbullah. Informed sources have told the Saudi daily Oqath that the bodies of three Hizbullah fighters have recently been transferred to Lebanon from the neighboring country. The fighters had died in an operation launched by the Syrian rebels against party posts in al-Qalamoun, according to Oqath's article, which was published on Saturday. "The losses of lives among Hizbullah fighters have increased significantly after the Syrian army retook control of al-Qalamoun,” the sources said, remarking that this might have been due to the geography of the region “especially in the Arsal al-Ward area which is difficult to completely seize.” "Hizbullah leaders are now mapping plans to deal with the situation (in al-Qalamoun), especially amid fears of a possible large attack by Syria's opposition in the coming few weeks,” they added. Fighting continued in al-Qalamoun between the Damascus regime forces, aided by Hizbullah, and the opposition's fighters despite the “fall” of the region in the government troops' hands. In June, 10 Hizbullah fighters died while taking part in the ongoing Syrian war, most of whom were killed in an attack by the oppositions' fighters in the town of Rankous in Reef Damascus. These reports were confirmed on websites affiliated with the Syrian opposition and with Hizbullah, which also revealed the fighters' identity. Hizbullah had announced more than one year ago that its fighters are taking part in the ongoing war in neighboring Syria to defend the country against the Takfiri threat.

Roumieh Inmates' Families Protest in Tripoli, Rifi Warns of Dragging City Back into 'Circle of Violence'
Naharnet/The families of Roumieh prison inmates continued to hold sit-ins in Tripoli to protest their sons' imprisonment as Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi warned on Saturday of "dragging the northern city back into the circle of violence." Radio Voice of Lebanon (93.3) reported that army troops failed to reopen Tripoli's international road after it was blocked by protesters.
"Soldiers deployed on top of buildings in the city after number of demonstrators had increased,” VDL added.
Meanwhile, al-Jadeed television said another sit-in was held in the Souq al-Arid area to protest the continued blocking of roads in the city. Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi commented on the latest developments in the North, considering that the “just cause” for which citizens are protesting is being "exploited by local political factions and certain security bodies to serve some personal interests."
"All the city's residents, regardless of their social status or their political orientation, are paying the price,” he noted. Rifi called on the protesters to reopen the roads, assuring as well that their “message has been well-received.”
"We did and we continue to follow-up on your rightful cause... But we hope you would not be turned into tools in the hands of those trying to drag the city back into the circle of violence and of crises,” he said, addressing the inmates' families. "This is not in your sons' interest and we assure you that we will not abandon them and we will exert all efforts to treat them fairly,” he stated. In the same context, former Prime Minister Najib Miqati said some parties want to establish a link between Tripoli and turbulent security events.
The parties that have been financing and causing these events for the past three years are known and so are their motives, Miqati said in reference to al-Mustaqbal bloc. "But the consequences and the arrests (that resulted from the Tripoli clashes) are now putting pressure on them (al-Mustaqbal),” he added.
He elaborated: “They believed the lies they had fabricated. They reached a settlement with yesterday's enemy, but the latter neutralized its allies while they pushed those that fought for them and in their names to prison.”Security forces had carried out raids in Tripoli on Friday in search of fugitives, as many northern figures slammed the “arbitrary detentions” in the city.
The Islamic National Gathering lashed out on Thursday at the “arbitrary arrests targeting the sons of Tripoli,” warning that the “oppression of the Sunni sect will result in unexpected reactions.”Al-Mustaqbal bloc, meanwhile, had said on Tuesday that many of the Tripoli arrests were based on investigations that were conducted under psychological and mental pressure, considering that this resulted in launching accusations of terrorism against people “who were merely tasked with carrying guns.”


Drug-Filled Toothpaste Seized at Zahle Prison
Naharnet /Security forces in charge of inspecting the inmates' possessions at the Zahle prison in the Bekaa discovered on Saturday a quantity of drugs hidden inside a toothpaste tube.The state-run National News Agency identified the person that smuggled the illegal substance inside the tube as Khaled A.H. Inmates have recently resorted to several strange techniques to smuggle drugs. Earlier this week, guards at the same Bekaa prison seized a large quantity of hashish and narcotic pills hidden in three kilograms of meat pastries. And in June, security forces thwarted an attempt by a man to deliver a quantity of hashish hidden inside apricots to an inmate at the same prison. In a similar incident, security men at the Roumieh prison thwarted back in October 2013 an attempt to smuggle explosive material through sandwiches.


Report: Mustaqbal, AMAL Reach Agreement over Payment of Salaries for Civil Servants
Naharnet /A meeting was held between officials from the Mustaqbal and the AMAL movements regarding the payment of salaries of civil servants, reported al-Joumhouria newspaper on Saturday. Sources said that a “preliminary” agreement was reached between the two sides.
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil attended the meeting representing the AMAL Movement, while the Mustaqbal Movement was represented by the head of its bureau Nader Hariri. The agreement calls for limiting legislation at parliament to approve the most pressing issues, especially providing the salaries of civil servants and agreeing on the contentious new wage scale. A meeting was held earlier this week between Khalil, Hariri, and Health Minister Wael Abou Faour regarding the case of civil servant salaries. The talks were a product of a mediation by Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat between the Mustaqbal and AMAL movements. The mediation was launched soon after the MP returned from a trip to Paris where he had met head of the Mustaqbal Movement MP Saad Hariri. The mediation calls for providing the constitutional quorum needed to hold a legislative session to approve pending issues at parliament, said al-Joumhouria. Further meetings will be held between the Mustaqbal and AMAL movements until a final understanding is reached over this issue. The agreement will then be relayed to members of the March 14 alliance, while Khalil pledged to do so with AMAL's allies of the Free Patriotic Movement and Marada Movement. On Monday, Khalil appeased fears that civil servants would not be paid their salaries at the end of the month because of the paralysis of parliament. Parliament should pass draft-laws allowing the government to approve treasury loans, but lawmakers have been boycotting legislative sessions over the vacuum at the presidency. Khalil vowed to exert all efforts to pay civil servants their salaries but stressed that lines of credit can't be opened unless they are legal. The Mustaqbal bloc announced Tuesday that it is willing to take part in a parliamentary session aimed at issuing treasury bonds, noting that the payment of salaries to public employees and opening lines of credit are legal matters that can be approved by the cabinet.


Death Penalty Sought for Rifaat Eid, Jabal Mohsen Top Gunmen
Naharnet/An indictment issued Friday demanded the death penalty for Arab Democratic Party top official Rifaat Eid and three others on charges of murder and terrorism. Military Examining Magistrate Judge Riyad “Abu Ghida has issued an indictment demanding the death penalty for Rifaat Eid and three leaders of Jabal Mohsen's fighting frontiers on charges of murder and terrorism,” LBCI television reported. The charges also include “starting gunbattles between Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh.” On April 28, new arrest warrants were issued against Arab Democratic Party leader Ali Eid, his son Rifaat and others over their involvement in the 18th round of fighting in the northern city of Tripoli. The warrants came as army troops and security forces started implementing an unprecedented security plan in the North and the Bekaa, which resulted in the arrest of dozens of fugitives while many others are still at large, among them Ali and Rifaat Eid. That was the third arrest warrant against Rifaat Eid, whose father Ali is accused of helping fugitives behind the 2013 blasts against Tripoli mosques escape justice. On April 5, State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged 12 Lebanese, including Rifaat Eid, with belonging to an armed terrorist group, possession of arms, inciting sedition and involvement in gunbattles between the rival Tripoli districts of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh. According to Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi, Rifaat Eid fled to Orange County, California. Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq has noted the party's chief Ali Eid left Lebanon to Syria.


U.N. Security Council Calls for Gaza Ceasefire
Naharnet /The U.N. Security Council urged Israel and Hamas Saturday to end their hostilities in Gaza, calling on both sides to respect "international humanitarian laws" and stop the loss of life. In a unanimous declaration, the 15-member council called for a deescalation of the crisis that has claimed well over a hundred lives, and urged a return to the "calm and restitution of the November 2012 ceasefire." The council expressed "serious concern" over the "protection and welfare of civilians on both sides."It also called for a return to the negotiating table by Israelis and Palestinians "with the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on the two-state solution." The council issued its declaration amid news that eight more Palestinians were killed in a series of Israeli raids in the Gaza Strip on Saturday. Those attacks raised to 135 the number of Palestinians that medics said have been killed since hostilities flared. Gaza officials said nearly 950 people have been wounded in the strikes. Israel began its bombing, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, on Tuesday in an attempt to halt cross-border rocket fire by militant groups. Gaza militants, meanwhile, have fired approximately 525 mortar rounds and rockets that struck Israel, but with no loss of life.  Israeli military officials say another 138 rockets have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Israel has authorized the call-up of 40,000 reservists, and is threatening to initiate a ground operation. Agence France Presse


Israel Vows No Let-up, Hamas Defiant, as Gaza Toll Tops 127
NaharnetظIsraeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip killed 22 people Saturday, bringing to 127 the toll on the fifth day of violence, as Hamas defiantly kept up its rocket fire into the Jewish state. In the latest strike, six men were killed in the Sheikh Radwan district of western Gaza City, health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said. Aged from 21 to 58, they were sitting outside their homes in the area when the strike hit, eyewitnesses said. Their deaths brought the toll on Saturday alone to 22, including two people killed in a strike that hit a charitable association housing the disabled in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza. Another three people were killed in eastern Gaza City, and three in an attack on the wester side of town.
Earlier, Qudra announced the deaths of eight other Palestinians, including a man who died of wounds sustained in an earlier strike, five people killed in Gaza's northern Jabaliya and two further south in Deir el-Balah. According to Qudra, at least 940 people have been wounded since the operation began. Local officials said the day's raids across the coastal enclave hit targets that included a bank, two mosques and homes of Hamas officials.
Israel's military said at least one of the mosques was being used to store weapons. Both sides brushed off international calls for a truce and Israel kept up its buildup of troops and armor on the Gaza border in preparation for a possible ground invasion. Gaza emergency services said that over the same period 530 rockets hit Israel, nine of them on Saturday.
U.S. President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday and Washington offered to use its influence in the Middle East to bring a return to calm.
But speaking at a news conference in Tel Aviv on Friday, Netanyahu said he would not end the military campaign until he achieved his goal of stopping the Hamas fire. "No international pressure will prevent us from striking, with all force, against the terrorist organization which calls for our destruction," he said. "No terrorist target in Gaza is immune."The latest border flareup -- the deadliest since November 2012 -- can be traced to last month's kidnap and murder of three young Israelis in the occupied West Bank and the brutal revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists.
Israel responded with a major crackdown on Hamas, even though the Islamist group declined to confirm or deny its involvement, while Gaza militants hit back with intensified rocket fire.
Despite international concern, truce efforts have been unsuccessful, according to Egypt, which has been key in mediating previous ceasefires between Hamas and Israel. "Egypt has communicated with all sides to halt violence against civilians and called on them to continue with the truce agreement signed in November 2012," the foreign ministry said. "Unfortunately, these efforts... have met with stubbornness."
Former British premier Tony Blair, the envoy for the so-called Quartet of Middle East diplomatic players, flew into Cairo on Saturday for talks on ending the violence.
Ismail Haniya, Gaza's former premier and the most senior Hamas official in the coastal enclave, ruled out any halt to hostilities.
"(Israel) is the one that started this aggression and it must stop, because we are (simply) defending ourselves," he said.
Israel says preparations are under way for a possible ground incursion, with tanks and artillery massed along the border and some 33,000 reservists mobilized out of 40,000 approved by the cabinet. More armor was seen heading south on Saturday morning.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he expected a political decision on a possible ground operation by Sunday. "At the moment we are dealing with the first phase... air attacks," he told Channel One television on Friday. "I imagine we shall decide tomorrow (Saturday) or the day after on the next stage." So far, no one in Israel has been killed. Two have been seriously wounded. In northern Israel, at least one rocket fired from Lebanon struck an open area near the town of Metula on Friday, prompting troops to respond with shelling, the army said. The military believed a Palestinian group fired it in solidarity with Hamas, public radio reported. The escalating violence brought more offers of truce negotiations from the White House Friday.
"There are a number of relationships the United States has that we are willing to leverage in the region to try to bring about an end to the rocket fire that's originating in Gaza and, as we saw this morning, in Lebanon," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Friday. He referred to taking steps as the U.S. and Egypt did in November 2012 to broker a truce between Israel and Hamas. Kuwait requested an emergency Arab foreign ministers meeting to discuss "the deteriorating situation", which a diplomat at the Arab League said will be held on Monday. Israeli strikes on residential buildings in Gaza brought a rebuke from the U.N. human rights office over civilian casualty toll. "Even when a home is identified as being used for military purposes, any attack must be proportionate... and precautions must be taken to protect civilians," said spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani. Amnesty International called for the United Nations "to immediately impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups" and launch an inquiry into "violations committed on all sides". Since the start of Israel's operation on Tuesday, about 530 rockets have struck the Jewish state, and the Iron Dome air defense system has shot down around 138, an army spokeswoman told Agence France Presse on Saturday. Agence France Presse


Netanyahu floats exit plan: Let Hamas rule Gaza, leave the IDF in control of West Bank security
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis July 12, 2014/For five days, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon opted to confront Hamas rockets with Israel’s air force alone, without the IDF at large. They were not even willing to approve a small-scale raid by special forces for pinpointing a few key targets, as a pretext for helping Netanyahu deny widespread allegations that he is again running away from full-scale military action.
Early Saturday, July 12, saw a few hours respite from Palestinian rocket fire before the first sirens starting wailing again in the western Negev and central Israel.
The rockets fired during this week came in an ever widening arc. Israel air strikes wrought heavy surface damage to the Gaza Strip, but scarcely scratched its rocket capabilities.
Friday night, air strikes hit 60 Palestinian targets, mostly buried missile launchers and arms stores, one cached in the Nuseirat mosque, which was razed except for the minaret, and others in a school and three multistory buildings. Before they were bombed, civilians were warned to get out of harm’s way.
The IDF spokesman reported 10 “terrorists” killed, including rocket team leaders. The Palestinians report their total death toll had climbed to 121 and 900 injured.
Israel reported 750 Palestinian rockets launched in five days, with no fatalities, and 82 people injured, many of them suffering the effects of shock.
Five days after Operation Protective Edge was launched to terminate the Hams rocket offensive, it was beginning to be blunted by the fading prospect of ground action. The decision for the time being not to launch ground forces into the Gaza Strip to finish the job, by reaching the thousands of rockets concealed by Hamas and Jihad Islami underground was evident from the news leaking out of the security and policy cabinet meeting held in Tel Aviv on Friday, July 11, and the words of Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz – “We stand ready for all possible action and await nothing more than a political decision.”
They reflected Netanyahu’s decision to hold off on a ground incursion, so long as Iron Dome batteries shoot rockets down before they hit population centers and cause fatalities, and Israelis remain remarkably obedient to the Home Command’s rules for keeping safe.
The prime minister exercised the same sort of restraint in meting out punishment to the same Hamas for abducting and murdering the three Israeli teenagers, Gil-Ad Shear, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach, whose bodies were discovered in a Palestinian West Bank village on June 27. In the space of weeks, therefore, the Palestinian Islamist organization has twice got away with barbaric acts of terror without having to endure the full might of Israel’s armed forces. This is consistent with the policies Netanyahu has pursued for five years. In his televised news conference Friday, the prime minister publicly admitted for the first time the presence of al Qaeda forces around Israel’s borders – to the east, in Iraq and Jordan; to the north, in Syria and Lebanon; and to the south in the Gaza Strip and Sinai.
Although, he seemed to lump Hamas in with the looming Islamist menace, Netanyahu’s answers to reporters’ questions turned abruptly at this point to the issue of Judea and Samaria, left open by the breakdown of the umpteenth round of Israel-Palestinian peace talks earlier this year. He stressed that in the current circumstances, it was incumbent on Israel to retain its armed forces in the West Bank. If Hamas was permitted to move in, it would “create 20 new Gazas on the West Bank,” he warned.
It may therefore be determined that the Netanyahu government has sketched in the lines of the end-game for Operation Protective Edge: Israel will abstain from a ground incursion and crushing Hamas rule of the Gaza Strip, but will claim in return international-Palestinian and pan-Arab sanction for the IDF to be assigned responsibility for the security of the Jordan Valley and Judea and Samaria.
This plan was behind Netanyahu’s comment Friday that the round of conversations he held with world leaders were “good” after which he pledged that “no international pressure would prevent us from acting against a terrorist organization aspiring to destroy us,” and “We will continue to defend our home front, the citizens of Israel, with resolve and prudence.”
What the prime minister appeared to be driving at was this: Israel would eradicate a major portion of Hamas’ military resources in Gaza but leave it in power - enfeebled and surrounded by Iron Dome batteries. IDF security control of the West Bank would be internationally accepted as the regional protector for holding al Qaeda belligerency back from swarming out of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.
Netanyahu’s plan provides Israel with an exit strategy from the Gaza operation, without requiring a ceasefire, which Hamas has anyway flatly refused to accept, except on ridiculously tall terms. But he will find his plan hard to sell outside Jerusalem.


Sisi Meets Blair, Warns against Gaza 'Escalation'
Naharnet/Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned Saturday that escalating the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza would cost more "innocent lives," as the death toll climbed to 127 Palestinians. Sisi's spokesman said the government was in touch with both sides after the president met Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair in Cairo. "The president warned of the dangers of military escalation, and the casualties it would cause among innocent civilians," the spokesman said in a statement. Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip killed 22 people Saturday, bringing to 127 the toll on the fifth day of violence, medics said. The air strikes are in response to Hamas rocket fire into Israel, which have not caused any deaths. Agence France Presse

Question: "What is Israel's role in the end times?"
Answer: Every time there is a conflict in or around Israel, many see it as a sign of the quickly approaching end times. The problem with this is that we may eventually tire of the conflict in Israel, so much so that we will not recognize when true, prophetically significant events occur. Conflict in Israel is not necessarily a sign of the end times.
Conflict in Israel has been a reality whenever Israel has existed as a nation. Whether it was the Egyptians, Amalekites, Midianites, Moabites, Ammonites, Amorites, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, or Romans, the nation of Israel has always been persecuted by its neighbors. Why is this? According to the Bible, it is because God has a special plan for the nation of Israel, and Satan wants to defeat that plan. Satanically influenced hatred of Israel—and especially Israel’s God—is the reason Israel’s neighbors have always wanted to see Israel destroyed. Whether it is Sennacherib, king of Assyria; Haman, official of Persia; Hitler, leader of Nazi Germany; or Rouhani, President of Iran, attempts to completely destroy Israel will always fail. The persecutors of Israel will come and go, but the persecution will remain until the second coming of Christ. As a result, conflict in Israel is not a reliable indicator of the soon arrival of the end times.
However, the Bible does say there will be terrible conflict in Israel during the end times. That is why the time period is known as the Tribulation, the Great Tribulation, and the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). Here is what the Bible says about Israel in the end times:
There will be a mass return of Jews to the land of Israel (Deuteronomy 30:3; Isaiah 43:6; Ezekiel 34:11-13; 36:24; 37:1-14).
The Antichrist will make a 7-year covenant of "peace" with Israel (Isaiah 28:18; Daniel 9:27).
The temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 11:1).
The Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel, and worldwide persecution of Israel will result (Daniel 9:27; 12:1, 11; Zechariah 11:16; Matthew 24:15, 21; Revelation 12:13). Israel will be invaded (Ezekiel chapters 38-39).
Israel will finally recognize Jesus as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10). Israel will be regenerated, restored, and regathered (Jeremiah 33:8; Ezekiel 11:17; Romans 11:26).
There is much turmoil in Israel today. Israel is persecuted, surrounded by enemies—Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, etc. But this hatred and persecution of Israel is only a hint of what will happen in the end times (Matthew 24:15-21). The latest round of persecution began when Israel was reconstituted as a nation in 1948. Many Bible prophecy scholars believed the six-day Arab-Israeli war in 1967 was the "beginning of the end." Could what is taking place in Israel today indicate that the end is near? Yes. Does it necessarily mean the end is near? No. Jesus Himself said it best, "Watch out that no one deceives you. . . . You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come" (Matthew 24:4-6).
Recommended Resources: Understanding End Times Prophecy by Paul Benware and Logos Bible Software.

At Long Last, U.S. Senate Unanimously Passes Bill to Create Middle East Special Envoy for Religious Freedom
Bill Passed as Situation for Religious Minorities in Middle East Deteriorates Rapidly
07/12/2014 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) - The United States Senate has passed a bill authorizing the president to create a special envoy to promote religious freedom in the Middle East and South Central Asia. The bill, passed by unanimous consent late Thursday night, comes as Christians and other religious minorities across the region face increasingly tight restrictions on religious beliefs and unprecedented levels of religiously motivated violence.
In a statement provided to International Christian Concern (ICC) by Senator Blunt's office, Senator Blunt said, "As we continue to witness disturbing violence against religious minorities around the world, I'm pleased the Senate passed this bipartisan bill to show the U.S. takes religious freedom very seriously. I hope the House will pass this updated bill quickly and the president will appoint a special envoy to promote religious freedom and call attention to all persecuted religious communities in the region."
The special envoy will have the status of a full-fledged ambassador and is tasked with promoting the rights of religious minorities in countries such as Egypt and Pakistan, where Christians and other religious minorities face violent attacks by radical Islamic groups and potential prison time for "crimes" such as blasphemy and apostasy.
The bill's passage in the Senate marks a major legislative victory for a wide array of faith-based and religious freedom organizations that had supported the bill's passage in the House twice in previous years only to see it indefinitely stalled in the Senate. The most recent House version of the bill, authored by Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf, was passed nearly ten months ago with wide bi-partisan support (402 for, 22 against) and the endorsement of multiple religious freedom organizations, including the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the U.S. Conference of Cat

Canadian Statement on Situation in Gaza
July 11, 2014 - The Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular), today issued the following statement regarding the situation in Gaza:
“The situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate. Because the conflict may escalate, we urge Canadians to leave immediately by any available means, while options still exist. The ability of Canadian officials to provide consular assistance is becoming increasingly limited as conditions worsen. Staff from the Standing Rapid Deployment Team have been sent to the affected region to provide additional support to our embassy. Canada’s advice against all travel to the Gaza Strip is long-standing.
“Canadians wishing to leave the Gaza Strip should contact Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada’s Emergency Watch and Response Centre by phone, collect, at +1 613-996-8885 or by email at
“Canadian citizens in Gaza requiring consular assistance should contact the Representative Office of Canada in Ramallah at 972 (2) 297-8430, or contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre by phone, collect, at +1 613-996-8885 or by email at
“For the latest advice and more information from the Government of Canada, Canadians should consult the travel advice and advisory for Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Twitter users may also follow @DFATDCanada and @CanEmbIsrael.
“We also strongly recommend that Canadian citizens currently in Gaza register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to receive the latest advice from the Government of Canada.”

As Israel-Palestine descends into violence, what should Europe do?
Nathalie Tocci /Open Democrecy/11 July 2014
The latest effort by the Israel-aligned US to renegotiate the asymmetric power relationships of the Middle East has inevitably failed, with brutal violence following; it is time, as an alternative, for the EU to generalise the rule-based constraint on Israeli action it has tentatively essayed.
Body of child in Gaza hospital morgue snapped by photographers
Death in war's spotlight: a Palestinian child in a Gaza hospital morgue. Ahmed Hjazy / Demotix. All rights reserved.
The seemingly dormant Israeli-Palestinian conflict has reawakened. A sequence of events triggered by the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli students and the burning alive of a Palestinian teenager has seen the region descend once again into a vortex of violence. Settler attacks on Palestinian civilians, Israeli raids and arrests, Palestinian rioting in the west bank and east Jerusalem, rocket fire from Gaza, the launch of Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” with mounting Palestinian casualties and the threat of an Israeli ground operation in the strip have raised the spectre of a third intifada. In light of this escalation, the predictable failure of talks mediated by the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and the all-round regional chaos, what should the European Union and its member states do?
The EU has never been and is unlikely to be a mediator in Israel-Palestine. Yet it has historically played a pioneering role in the conflict. From the Venice Declaration in 1980 to outright support for a two-state solution in 2001, the EU has repeatedly demonstrated an ability to be ahead of the curve. And, away from the media spotlight, the last decade has slowly but surely seen the EU changing the paradigm governing its relations with Israel and Palestine, shifting away from political discretion towards rule-bound action. Pursuing this pioneering path in the Middle East “peace process” is a responsibility the EU cannot elude.
Discretionary sanctions
Following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections and in the framework of the Middle East Quartet, the EU endorsed and implemented highly discretionary sanctions towards the elected Palestinian government—after the split between Fatah and Hamas, specifically the Hamas-led administration in Gaza. While the condition of non-violence is sacrosanct and firmly embedded in international law, the remaining conditions were highly political and almost designed so as not to be fulfilled. That policy of conditionality was premised on the hope and expectation that Hamas would at worst capitulate and at best wither away. Notwithstanding almost a decade of sanctions, the policy has dismally failed. Even in the west bank, the resistance movement has anything but vanished.
Implicitly acknowledging the bankruptcy of the policy, the EU (and the US) tacitly nodded at the Palestinian government formed via agreement between the factions in 2014. While igniting Israeli ire, this technocratic coalition (arguably closer to the Palestinian Authority than to Hamas) became the first sign of intra-Palestinian reconciliation since the collapse of the “national unity” government in 2007.
The challenges to the survival of the new government are however monumental. Not only does it have to withstand Israel’s onslaught on Gaza but it must also pursue the structurally complex task of reunification after seven years of physical separation, mistrust and animosity. The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority still has no presence in the strip. The 50,000 civil servants in Gaza hired by the Hamas authority have not received their salaries since the government’s formation; the PA lacks the funds to pay them and fears that doing so would trigger EU and US retaliation. And the reintegration of the PA and Hamas security apparatuses remains a distant prospect, not to speak of the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Gaza—the more so after the current wave of violence.
In this context, the EU is called upon to put its money where its mouth is. If indeed it supports Palestinian reconciliation and accepts the current technical government, it should do what to takes to ensure its survival. With the odds stacked so heavily against it, active support rather than passive acceptance is essential.
Rule-bound action
When it comes to dealing with Israel, recent years have witnessed the evolution of an EU consensus on rule-bound action. For decades, the EU accepted a binary policy divide—co-operation versus pressure—in which the intra-EU tide weighed heavily in favour of the former. Over time and with mounting headaches caused by the EU’s bending of the rules so as not to upset its political relations within Israel—take, for instance, the decades-old problem of product-origin rules and the EU’s preferential treatment of Israeli settlement products—the tune has started to change. Rather than the either/or, carrot/stick approach, rule-bound co-operation is increasingly becoming the only and most desirable third way. Not only is it the only feasible route for a rule-based EU to maintain and deepen co-operation with Israel. It is also the most effective strategy to temper, rather than fuel, the dynamics of the conflict.
In this context, the EU is called upon to put its money where its mouth is.
The 2013 EU guidelines on funding to Israel, which explicitly excluded as beneficiaries Israeli entities in the occupied territories, represent the first evidence of this new approach. The guidelines are important not because their implementation will cause financial damage to the settlement enterprise, still less because such damage might induce Israel to end the occupation. They are however crucial—hence the uproar they occasioned in Israel—because for the first time EU practice has aligned with its declaratory support for international humanitarian law and the two-state solution.
The effectiveness of this policy is demonstrated by Israel’s ultimate acceptance of the guidelines. Criticism notwithstanding, the Israeli government did not slam the door in the EU’s face. It ultimately signed up to the EU Horizon 2020 programme, contenting itself with an annexed declaration in which it restated its domestic position without this having any legal consequence for the EU. When the EU presented its position to Israel as a legal necessity and not as a discretionary political act, Israel screamed and shouted but ultimately complied.
The challenge today is of pursuing this path and making the funding guidelines the harbinger of a new approach, rather than an incidental digression from old habits. The EU high representative, Catherine Ashton, had promised a new set of guidelines on the labelling of Israeli products, indicating their exact origin, thus allowing EU consumers to make informed choices. But those guidelines never appeared, as the EU was once again put under the magic spell of the “peace process” and its relaunch under Kerry’s impulse. Rather than viewing the labelling guidelines as another small step assisting the US-led peace effort, the EU and its member states suspended the work on them. Following the appointment of the new EU high representative, that work should be revived. It should be pursued even more vigorously if Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were to be renewed.
What these episodes reveal is the EU’s ability to signal to Israel and the wider world the broader principle governing the conduct of its bilateral relations. Once that rule-based principle is fully internalised, its scope for application is infinite—from police co-operation to EU assistance for the Israeli-controlled “area C” in the west bank. When put together and conceptualised as a coherent strategy, its appeal may spread beyond the EU, perhaps one day reaching the other side of the Atlantic.
“Peace process”
What then about the “peace process”? When the Kerry-mediated talks were launched, few believed they would finally deliver the two-state solution painstakingly delineated over the two decades since Oslo. And yet the international community, in primis the EU, religiously praised the process and prayed for its success. The candid explained that blind faith was obligatory: negotiations might not resolve the conflict but they would prevent its escalation at a time of mounting regional chaos and, anyway, there was no alternative.
Events over the last few days have revealed the fallacy of this reasoning. A process destined to fail—after two decades it is difficult to argue otherwise—cannot be taken to be better than no process at all. Indeed, it creates hopes which, when dashed, increase rather than reduce the chances of escalation; hence the pattern of a conflict frequently punctuated by violent eruptions. Furthermore, dogmatic insistence shuts down all space for creative thinking about alternative processes and end-points, as Europe pioneered as far back as 1980.
The EU is not a mediator but it does have a role and responsibility. It also has high stakes in the resolution of a conflict in which it has invested so heavily. After 20 years of funding to support a Palestinian state which has precious little chance of seeing the light of day, it is legitimate for the EU to ask whether this continues to be a realistic way forward.
That is not to say that the EU should abandon the goal of a two-state solution or turn its back on the “peace process”. Rather, it should open up a debate, at least internally, on the fundamentals of the process and its presumed conclusion. The Middle East today is unrecognisably different from the early 1990s, when the building-blocks of Oslo were put in place. The EU cannot blindly assume that the Oslo acquis remains relevant today, out of sheer terror of contemplating alternatives. Precisely because the EU does not bear upon its shoulders the responsibilities of mediation, it should use its freedom and its duty towards the conflict parties to engage in an out-of-the-box discussion on the possible way ahead.
holic Bishops, and International Christian Concern, before stalling again in the Senate until last night. A last-minute amendment to the bill also inserted a "sunset" clause that will effectively cut off funding for the position by 2019 unless Congress passes additional legislation to reauthorize the position.
In March, Congressman Wolf wrote to President Obama, pointing out that the State Department had opposed passage of the bill in the Senate while millions of adherents to minority faiths in the Middle East were being displaced even as Secretary John Kerry endorsed the creation of a special envoy for the Arctic. Congressman Wolf then called on the president to back up his then-recent statements to Pope Francis "reaffirming that it is central to U.S. foreign policy that we protect the interests of religious minorities around the world" by acting immediately to create a special envoy for religious freedom in the Middle East and South Central Asia.
The Senate bill must now be reconciled with the House bill before it can be presented to President Obama for his signature.
ICC's Advocacy Director, Isaac Six, said, "We are incredibly excited to see this bill finally make its way through the Senate. For years now the United States has failed to properly prioritize the plight of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, where methodical, well researched studies have shown that governments place more restrictions on religious worship than in any other part of the globe and where religious minorities are experiencing violent persecution like never before. Congress has spoken almost unanimously. Now the president must respond rapidly and in kind, or risk proving that all of his statements affirming religious freedom as a central tenant of U.S. foreign policy were nothing more than hot air."

Why Does Hamas Want War?
It knows it will lose militarily, but hopes to win at the bar of public opinion.
By Daniel Pipes/National Review On Line
Politicians start wars optimistic about their prospects of gaining from the combat, Geoffrey Blainey notes in his masterly study, The Causes of War; otherwise, they would avoid fighting.
Why, then, did Hamas just provoke a war with Israel? Out of nowhere, on June 11 it began launching rockets, shattering a calm in place since November 2012. The mystery of this outburst prompted David Horovitz, editor of the Times of Israel, to find that the current fighting has “no remotely credible reason” even to be taking place. And why did the Israeli leadership respond minimally, trying to avoid combat? This although both sides know that Israel’s forces vastly overmatch Hamas’s in every domain — intelligence gathering, command and control, technology, firepower, domination of air space.
What explains this role reversal? Are Islamists so fanatical that they don’t mind losing? Are Zionists too worried about loss of life to fight?
Actually, Hamas leaders are quite rational. Periodically (2006, 2008, 2012), they decide to make war on Israel knowing full well that they will lose on the military battlefield but optimistic about winning in the political arena. Israeli leaders, conversely, assume they will win militarily but fear political defeat — bad press, United Nations resolutions, and so on.
The focus on politics represents a historic shift; the first 25 years of Israel’s existence saw repeated challenges to its existence (especially in 1948–49, 1967, and 1973), and no one knew how those wars would turn out. I remember the first day of the 1967 Six-Day War, when the Egyptians proclaimed splendid triumphs while complete Israeli press silence suggested catastrophe. It came as a shock to learn that Israel had scored the greatest victory in the annals of warfare.The point is, outcomes were unpredictably decided on the battlefield.
No longer: The battlefield outcome of Arab–Israeli wars in last 40 years has been predictable; everyone knows Israeli forces will prevail. It’s more like cops and robbers than warfare. Ironically, this lopsidedness turns attention from winning and losing to morality and politics. Israel’s enemies provoke it to kill civilians, whose deaths bring them multiple benefits.
The four conflicts since 2006 have restored Hamas’s tarnished reputation for “resistance,” built solidarity on the home front, stirred dissent among both Arabs and Jews in Israel, galvanized Palestinians and other Muslims to become suicide bombers, embarrassed non-Islamist Arab leaders, secured new United Nations resolutions bashing Israel, inspired Europeans to impose harsher sanctions on Israel, opened the international Left’s spigot of vitriol against the Jewish state, and won additional aid from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The holy grail of political warfare is to win the sympathy of the global Left by presenting oneself as underdog and victim. (From a historic point of view, it bears pointing out, this is very strange: Traditionally, combatants tried to scare the enemy by presenting themselves as fearsome and unstoppable.)
The tactics of this new warfare include presenting a convincingly emotional narrative, citing endorsements of famous personalities, appealing to the conscience, and drawing simple but powerful political cartoons (Israeli supporters tend to excel at this, both in the past and now). Palestinians get even more creative, developing the twin fraudulent techniques of “fauxtography” for still pictures and “Pallywood” for videos. Israelis used to be complacent about the need for what they call hasbara, or getting the message out, but recent years find them more focused on this.
Hilltops, cities, and strategic roadways matter supremely in the Syria and Iraqi civil wars, but morality, proportionality, and justice dominate Arab–Israeli wars. As I wrote during the 2006 Israel–Hamas confrontation, “Solidarity, morale, loyalty, and understanding are the new steel, rubber, oil, and ammunition.” Or in 2012: “Opeds have replaced bullets, social media have replaced tanks.” More broadly, this is part of the profound change in modern warfare when Western and non-Western forces fight, as in the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Clausewitzian terms, public opinion is the new center of gravity.
All this said, how fares Hamas? Not well. Its battlefield losses since July 8 appear higher than expected, and worldwide condemnations of Israel have yet to pour in. Even the Arabic media are relatively quiet. If this pattern holds, Hamas might conclude that raining rockets on Israeli homes is not such a good idea. Indeed, for Hamas to be dissuaded from initiating another assault in a few years, it needs to lose both the military and the political wars, and lose them very badly.
— Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

إنجيل القدّيس متّى .25-16:10
قالَ الربُّ يَسوعُ لِتلاميذِهِ: «هَا أَنَا أُرْسِلُكُم كَالخِرَافِ بَيْنَ الذِّئَاب. فَكُونُوا حُكَمَاءَ كَالحَيَّات، ووُدَعَاءَ كَالحَمَام.
إِحْذَرُوا النَّاس! فَإِنَّهُم سَيُسْلِمُونَكُم إِلى المَجَالِس، وفي مَجَامِعِهِم يَجْلِدُونَكُم .
وتُسَاقُونَ إِلى الوُلاةِ والمُلُوكِ مِنْ أَجْلي، شَهَادَةً لَهُم وِلِلأُمَم.
وحِيْنَ يُسْلِمُونَكُم، لا تَهْتَمُّوا كَيْفَ أَو بِمَاذَا تَتَكَلَّمُون، فَإِنَّكُم سَتُعْطَونَ في تِلْكَ السَّاعَةِ مَا تَتَكَلَّمُونَ بِهِ.
فَلَسْتُم أَنْتُمُ ٱلمُتَكَلِّمِيْن، بَلْ رُوحُ أَبِيْكُم هُوَ المُتَكَلِّمُ فِيْكُم.
وسَيُسْلِمُ الأَخُ أَخَاهُ إِلى المَوْت، والأَبُ ٱبْنَهُ، ويَتَمَرَّدُ الأَوْلادُ عَلى وَالِدِيْهِم ويَقْتُلُونَهُم.
ويُبْغِضُكُم جَمِيْعُ النَّاسِ مِنْ أَجْلِ ٱسْمِي، ومَنْ يَصبِرْ إِلى المُنْتَهَى يَخْلُصْ.
وإِذَا ٱضْطَهَدُوكُم في هذِهِ المَدِينَة، أُهْرُبُوا إِلى غَيْرِهَا. فَٱلحَقَّ أَقُولُ لَكُم: لَنْ تَبْلُغُوا آخِرَ مُدُنِ إِسْرَائِيلَ حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ ٱبْنُ الإِنْسَان.
لَيْسَ تِلْميذٌ أَفْضَلَ مِنْ مُعَلِّمِهِ، ولا عَبْدٌ مِنْ سَيِّدِهِ.
حَسْبُ التِّلْمِيذِ أَنْ يَصِيْرَ مِثْلَ مُعَلِّمِهِ، والعَبْدِ مِثْلَ سَيِّدِهِ. فَإِنْ كَانَ سَيِّدُ البَيْتِ قَدْ سَمَّوْهُ بَعْلَ زَبُول، فَكَمْ بِالأَحْرَى أَهْلُ بَيْتِهِ؟

Of wrath, recklessness, soccer and apathy

Hisham Melhem/Al Arabiya
Once again, Israel and Palestine are at war, or to be more precise Israel is waging war on the Hamas controlled Gaza strip. And once again the people of Gaza, the most densely populated territory in the world find themselves being victimized by a reckless Hamas and a merciless Israel. Some Palestinians refer to the strip as Planet Gaza to denote its isolation, harsh conditions and misery. This is the stuff of madness and nihilism on both sides, because both know, or should know by now, that there is no military solution to their deadly predicament. In the recent past, Israel would visit Gaza with its bombers, missiles and tanks on average of once every two years with the objective of destroying Hamas’ “infrastructure,” kill its leaders, teach them a lesson, or cow them to accept the reality of living under siege and extinguish their spirit of resistance.
One hears from the Israelis the same words, the same threats the same echoes from years past when the Palestinians were operating in Lebanon before 1982. And once again, the Palestinians find themselves alone. This time, more so than in 2012 or 2009 their isolation is deeply felt, only because they could fully see and feel official Arab apathy and popular silence.
The gates of hell
Every time the Israelis carry out their attacks (after giving them morbid names) hoping to achieve the same objectives, and every time they fail, but manage to deepen the alienation of the people of Gaza, and the radicalization of Hamas’ leaders. Every time Hamas lobs rockets into Israel hoping to change Israeli calculus, every time the exercise ends in failure. Every time Hamas finds itself on the ropes, unable to deliver on any of its promises to the Palestinians, Israel comes to the rescue in the form of another incursion or another assassination. For its part, Hamas’ once primitive arsenal of rockets, has been improved recently, but the discrepancy in the fire power between the two sides, and the efficiency of Israel’s military killing machine is so pronounced, that it makes Hamas’ firing of its indiscriminate missiles into Israel an exercise of utter futility and downright nihilism. Hamas leaders are quick with their threats that the “gates of hell” will open if Israel attacks, forgetting that the same gates usually consume more Palestinians than Israelis. In the current bloody encounter we see the same disproportionate efficiency of violence. Israel’s harvest of blood is now beyond one hundred Palestinians killed; most of them civilians including children and women, and not a single Israeli have been killed, not that that should be welcomed.
Rightward drift
Ever since the collapse of the peace talks at Camp David in 2000, and the second Palestinian Intifada there has been a steady shift in Israeli politics towards religious extremism and ultranationalist parties. The separation wall initiated by Ariel Sharon, along with the rise of ultra-nationalist and right wing Israeli politicians such as Avigdor Lieberman who calls for an Israel free of Arabs, and Naftali Bennett who sees a Palestinian state as a “disaster” for Israel, have fundamentally changed Israeli politics. The era of the old labor party politicians such as Yitzhak Rabin who believed in coexistence with Palestinians and their Arab neighbors is gone. In this environment, demonizing Palestinians, particularly those under Hamas became easier and more tolerable. The Sharon-Netanyahu era will be known as the era of mainstreaming extremism in Israel.
Hamas’ control of Gaza in 2007 meant that for the first time a segment of the Palestinian people were living under an Islamist authority with Problematic relations and collaboration with other Islamist movements in the region and with Iran. Hamas’ maximalist political rhetoric and Islamist credentials and discourse, along with the rise of Jewish parties and exclusionary discourse in Israel have added a new dangerous religious framing of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which has been for a long time a conflict between two nationalist movements claiming the same land and fighting over tangible things like territory and material resources, and not a religious conflict at its core.
Every time Hamas lobs rockets into Israel hoping to change Israeli calculus, every time the exercise ends in failure.
Occupation and coercion
The current moment of blood and pain was brought about by the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths allegedly by some Palestinians affiliated with Hamas. The subsequent murder of a Palestinian teenager in revenge killing completed the cycle of bloodletting. Credible Israeli media reports showed that the Israeli authorities knew fairly quickly that the three Kidnapped Israelis were killed immediately after their abduction, but that they deceived the public and used the killing as an opportunity to crackdown on Hamas in the West bank and an excuse to arrest hundreds of Palestinians suspected of being affiliated with Hamas.
But the roots of the problem lie in the fundamental reality that the Palestinians find themselves in, and the Israelis would like to deny; that is occupation and the expropriation of Palestinian lands by Israel to colonize and settle. The Palestinians are expected to negotiate with the Israelis the future of the occupied lands, while the Israelis are literally pulling the land from under Palestinian feet. The Israelis that the Palestinians see in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are mostly soldiers or armed and dangerous religious settlers. The predicament of the Palestinians under occupation is astounding in the annals of foreign occupations. Palestinians under occupation have accepted an American security plan that requires Palestinian collaboration with Israelis – the same people who occupy them- to safeguard the lives and wellbeing of Israelis not only in Israel proper, but also the armed Israeli zealots who torment them in the occupied territories. There is a colonial quality to how Israelis, even liberal ones see and deal with the Palestinians that is similar to how French settlers used to see the Algerians. Even the great French novelist and humanist Albert Camus, who was born in Algeria, could not see the Algerians as anything but shadows in the background, as they appear in his novels.
Given the daily humiliations of occupation, the draconian measures imposed on the movements and activities of Palestinians, one is surprised that there is little violent resistance to the occupation. What many Israelis and some of their friends in the US refuse to acknowledge is that occupation can only be maintained by a complex system of coercion. Occupation is a form of violence.
The Israeli Paradox
Israel is a bundle of contradictions. It is a dynamic modern state with a thriving economy that has become an integral part of the global digital economy; it has a loud parliamentary life and vibrant institutions, a diverse media and independent judiciary. If you are Jewish, you can partake fully in the system; if you are a Palestinian citizen of Israel, you have to endure life as a child of a lesser God. Israel also is a garrison state. Israel’s military and Intelligence services are the academies that produce most of its politicians. Israel was born by violent means, and force, usually excessive force was an integral part of its approach to Palestinians and the surrounding Arab states.
This attitude, may have been understood early in its life, when Arab rejection of the idea of a Jewish state, and hostility towards Israel was paramount; but many Israeli leaders still think and act as commanders of a garrison state, even after peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt and the explicit recognition of Palestinians of Israel, and the implicit recognition of those Arab states that negotiated with Israel in the Past such as Lebanon and Syria, and the rest of the Arabs when they adopted the Arab Peace plan in 2002.
Alone again, naturally
A number of factors make the current violence particularly worrisome and dangerous. Unchecked Israeli wrath, if accompanied by a large number of civilian casualties could change the mostly passive attitudes towards Israel’s attacks, and could spark an Intifada that could spread to Israel proper. More importantly, the whole region is teetering on the precipice. From Basra to Beirut, from Aleppo to Alexandria, the region is sliding inexorably towards more blood sweat and tears. Afflicted by civil wars, sectarian cleansing and vengeance in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, facing greater tumult, political uncertainty and economic dislocation in Egypt and Jordan, the fires of the region could in due time engulf Palestinians and Israelis.
What is somewhat unique if not totally surprising about the current violence, is that not even the painful agonies and the civilian casualties of the Palestinians have elicited a strong reaction or backlash from the international community or from the Arab world. This could be explained by a world that has grown tired of the problems of the Middle East, or that the fracturing of Syria and Iraq and the emergence of an Islamist “Caliphate” straddling large areas of the Levant is seen as more threatening to the region and the West. Clearly, Netanyahu found an opportune moment in the World Cup competition in Brazil, to wage his campaign against Gaza. Many people in the Arab world and beyond were discussing the odds of who will win the ultimate prize in soccer. Brazil, Argentina, Germany and the Netherlands were on the lips of many Arabs more than were the names of Gaza and Israel. It seemed that the unraveling of the Levant, soccer and Ramadan have combined to lessen the tragedy of Gaza.
What is difficult for Palestinians to fathom is the extent of Arab apathy both on the level of officialdom and public opinion. Even the reaction of the Arab media was muted. Some Arab publications covered the military exchanges in a strait forward fashion, and the editorial pages were not filled with the columns of outrage. Some Arab states, particularly those that banned the Muslim Brotherhood movement and resent Hamas’ affiliation with it, are seen as not objecting to Hamas getting its comeuppance. But even if the problems with Hamas were not urgent, one could see that the “new normal” in the Arab world (that is the fires of fragmentation, radicalization and sectarian revenge that are burning large swaths of the Arab world) would have made a different reaction from the Arab world to the plight of Gaza somewhat surprising. Palestine, unfortunately for the Palestinians, has lost its pride of place in the collective memory of contemporary Arabs. Once again, the Palestinians are alone.

Iran Warns Could Walk Away from Nuclear Talks
Naharnet/Iran's chief negotiator in nuclear talks in Vienna warned Saturday that Tehran is ready to walk away if "excessive" Western demands cause a failure, eight days before a deadline for a deal.
Abbas Araqchi said however that he hoped that the attendance from Sunday of foreign ministers including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry would help overcome "deep differences" that remain.
"If we see that the excessive demands (of Western powers) persisting and that a deal is impossible, this is not a drama, we will continue with our nuclear program," Araqchi said.
"The presence of ministers will have a positive influence," he told Iran state television from the Austrian capital. "There are questions that ministers need to take decisions on."
Iran's talks with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany are aimed at a grand bargain reducing in scope Iran's nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief.
Such a deal is meant to quash for good concerns about the Islamic republic getting the bomb after more than a decade of failed diplomacy, threats of war and atomic expansion by Iran.
Iran denies wanting nuclear weapons. The deadline for an accord is July 20, when an interim accord struck by foreign ministers expires, although this can be put back if both sides agree.
On Friday, William Burns, Washington's pointman in secret 2013 talks with Iran that helped produce the November deal, said that the differences between the two sides remain "quite significant".
"I would say that there is a lot of ground that has to be covered if we're going to get to a comprehensive agreement," Burns told Indian channel NDTV according to a State Department transcript.
"We need to continue to work at it and we're determined to do that," he said.
Kerry was expected late Saturday or early Sunday in Vienna where he will be joined by his British, French and German counterparts William Hague, Laurent Fabius and Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Hague said on Saturday that the Western ministers would also discuss how to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza. Kerry and Steinmeier were also to talk about a U.S.-German spat over spying.
Skipping the meeting however is Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and it remains unclear who will represent China.
Kerry "will gauge the extent of Iran's willingness to commit to credible and verifiable steps that would back up its public statements about the peaceful nature of its nuclear program," the State Department said. He will "assess Iran's willingness to make a set of critical choices at the negotiating table" and then "make recommendations" to U.S. President Barack Obama on the next steps.
The main sticking point is uranium enrichment, a process which can produce nuclear fuel -- Iran's stated aim -- but also in highly purified form the core of an atomic weapon.
On Tuesday Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, gave a speech indicating that Tehran intends to greatly increase its enrichment capacities.
The six powers want a sharp reduction, however, with a senior U.S. official saying last week that Iran's activities in this area should be a "fraction" of what they are now.
This, coupled with other measures, would extend the so-called "breakout time" -- the time Iran would need to make enough highly-enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon, should it choose to do so.
Iran says it wants to enrich uranium to fuel planned nuclear power plants around Iran, but these facilities are years, if not decades, away from being in operation, the West says.
Agence France Presse