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  • November 18, 2012

    “Israel doesn’t want to eliminate Hamas”

    New York Times

    “Everybody is afraid of what’s next,” said Mkhaimar Abusada, a political science professor at Al Azhar University in Cairo, predicting that the rockets fired at Tel Aviv and, on Friday, at Jerusalem, would provoke a rerun of Israel’s ground invasion four years ago.

    Mr. Abusada and Efraim Halevy, a former head of Israel’s intelligence service, both said there is no clear endgame to the conflict, since Israel neither wants to re-engage in Gaza nor to eliminate Hamas and leave the territory to the chaos of more militant factions. “Ultimately,” Mr. Halevy said, “both sides want Hamas to remain in control, strange as it sounds.”

    But Mr. Abusada cautioned that “there is no military solution to the Gaza problem,” saying: “There has to be a political settlement at the end of this. Without that, this conflict is just going to go on and on.”

    In Cairo, a senior official of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group allied with President Mohamed Morsi, said he was working furiously on Saturday to secure a cease-fire. Mr. Morsi met with the Turkish premiere, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while Egypt’s foreign minister huddled with the Qatari prince and its intelligence chief sat with Khaled Meshaal, the chief of Hamas’s political wing, Egyptian media reported.

    Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007 but is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States, wants to turn its Rafah crossing with Egypt into an open, free-trade zone, and for Israel to withdraw from the 1,000-foot buffer it patrols on Gaza’s northern and eastern borders. The Brotherhood official said that the Israeli side of the talks remained “the sticking point,” though he would not be specific about the issues.

    Ben Rhodes, Mr. Obama’s deputy national security adviser, told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Asia that the president had spoken daily with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel since the crisis began, as well as to Mr. Erdogan and Mr. Morsi.

    “They have the ability to play a constructive role in engaging Hamas and encouraging a process of de-escalation,” Mr. Rhodes said of the Turkish and Egyptian leaders. Describing rocket fire coming from Gaza as “the precipitating factor for the conflict,” he added, “We believe Israel has a right to defend itself and they’ll make their own decisions about the tactics that they use in that regard.”

    But the Tunisian foreign minister, standing outside Al Shifa Hospital here, told reporters that Israel “has to respect the international law to stop the aggression against the Palestinian people.”

    Mr. Netanyahu, for his part, spoke Saturday with the leaders of Germany, Italy, Greece and the Czech Republic, according to a statement from his office.

    Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, chief of the Israeli military, met with his top commanders and instructed his troops “to continue attacking with full force in the Gaza Strip and to increase the rate of attacks on terrorist targets,” according to a military statement. A senior military official who briefed reporters said Israel had hit nearly 1,000 sites since Wednesday in what he called “intelligence-driven precision strikes,” and described civilian casualties as “regrettable” but unavoidable because the “terrorist infrastructure is embedded inside the population.”

    Israel’s stated goals for the operation are reclaiming calm for its residents, deterring further rocket attacks and crippling Hamas’s military capabilities. The expansion of the assault to government buildings suggested Israel may be running out of targets relating to the long-range rockets that present the greatest threat, but Mark Regev, Mr. Netanyahu’s spokesman, played down the idea that new attacks represented a shift.

    Hamas “makes no distinction between its terrorist military machine and the government structure,” he said. “We have seen Hamas consistently using so-called civilian facilities for the purposes of hiding their terrorist military machine, including weapons.”

    While Israeli domestic support for the offensive remained strong, there were the beginnings of an internal debate about when and how to bring the operation to an end.

    Yisrael Ziv, a former head of operations for the Israeli military, said Saturday that as the number of targets reachable from the air shrinks, Israel may soon “have to go in on the ground,” but cautioned that move presents greater risks. “A few bad luck incidents can change the whole picture,” he said on Israeli television. “You have to know how far not to go.”

    But Tzachi Hanegbi, a former chairman of the Israeli Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said he thought “we are in a very early stage of the operation,” adding: “I wouldn’t start talking about exit strategies at this point.”

    The 4 a.m. strike on Mr. Haniyeh’s office was as much a psychological blow as a tactical one. A singed copy of the official Palestinian book of laws lay amid the huge pile of rubble the building was reduced to, along with datebooks and personnel records listing the bank accounts for depositing police officers’ paychecks. Mr. Haniyeh’s gray-bearded face beamed from one page in Hamas’s signature green: the cover of a 2008 booklet declaring “the government’s achievements despite the obstacles.”

    Just before 10 a.m., a security official who worked at the building and asked to be identified only as Abu El Abed planted a Palestinian flag in the rubble, declaring, “We will rebuild this place as we have rebuilt others.

    “Every structure that is demolished or destroyed is a big loss,” he said. “But the blood of anybody wounded is more important than any structure.”

    Besides the prime minister’s office and police and security buildings, the military on Saturday bombed smuggling tunnels under Rafah and carried out what it described as pinpoint strikes of Hamas commanders. One such attack flattened the home of Ibrahim Salah, head of public relations for the Hamas Interior Ministry, in the Jabaliya refugee camp, one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Mr. Salah and his family were not in the house, but Hamas officials said the strike wounded 30 neighbors and damaged or destroyed several of the surrounding homes.

    Dozens of people, many of them children, swarmed the rubble pile, where clothing and a bottle of detergent sat along with remnants of lights and furnishings. Hassam Al Dadah, 41, loaded a truck with mattresses, blankets, a refrigerator, couch cushions and a child’s doll. Inside the home where he had lived for three years, several women cleared out what was left in the kitchen, taking canisters of rice and coffee and an orange tank of cooking gas, while one stuffed papers from a dust-covered bookcase in a bedroom into a pillowcase.

    Mr. Dadah said his five children, three girls and two boys ages 6 to 14, were all being treated for wounds at the hospital, having been covered by debris in their beds when the bomb struck around 6 a.m. The truck packed with belongings was bound for a storage area but Mr. Dadah said he did not know where his family would spend the night.

    “I’m a new refugee,” said Mr. Al Dadah, a teacher at a United Nations school ,who like more than half of Gaza’s 1.5 million people was already classified as a refugee because his family fled the Ashkelon area when Israel became a state in 1948. “I don’t have any place to go to.”

    Jodi Rudoren reported from Gaza City and Isabel Kershner from Jerusalem. Reporting was contributed by Fares Akram and Tyler Hicks from the Gaza Strip, Carol Sutherland and Iritz Pazner Garshowitz from Jerusalem, and David D. Kirkpatrick and Mayy El Sheikh from Cairo.

  • Posted by Ted Belman @ 12:51 am | 8 Comments »

    8 Comments to “Israel doesn’t want to eliminate Hamas”

    1. ArnoldHarris says:

      Well, in that case, Hamas in control is exactly what you will get.

      So deal with it accordingly, but since stability and not clear-cut victory is what your government wants, and since you cannot get rid of your government which wants that, then stop whining to the world about the unfairness of it all. After all, you can’t deny that you live in a democracy. And most of you say that democracy is really what you want.

      I guess that old German saying is true after all: Jedem das Seine — Everybody gets what’s coming to him.

      Arnold Harris
      Mount Horeb WI

    2. Bernard Ross says:

      a security official who worked at the building and asked to be identified only as Abu El Abed planted a Palestinian flag in the rubble, declaring, “We will rebuild this place as we have rebuilt others.

      They need a building boom using euro sucker money.
      They should not risk one israeli life if they do not intend to kill all hamas. Better to keep bombing until no houses are left and israelis live. After that, when everything is rubble then a ground action can be worthwhile if still necessary. If rubble is covering their tunnels and hamas leaders underground bunkers they willl have a difficult time getting out, even while wearing their dresses.
      Why doesnt Israel use missiles for retaliation?

    3. Canadian Otter says:

      THE BIGGER PICTURE is getting lost in the middle of rockets and bombings. That being the fact that a more powerful and larger threat has been gestating in Judea and Samaria for years.

      Israelis who call for the hardest possible punishment for Hamas, including invasion, razing the place, expelling them, etc., have been much more patient and gentler regarding the slow Arab takeover of Judea and Samaria, and the many Arab facts on the ground established by the PA or facilitated by Israeli authorities.

      WHAT do they think will happen if those Arabs get a state? Or if the government disengages from all or part of Judea and Samaria?

      Your PM is all for Two States. And your very own foreign minister and your defense minister made statements in support of disengagement from J/S just a few weeks ago, followed by no public or media reaction whatsoever!

      Why is there no connection between the never-ending nightmare resulting from the Gaza disengagement and the threat of a Nazi Arab State in Judea and Samaria?

      If the Gaza disengagement was such a terrible mistake – where are the efforts to prevent its repetition on a much larger scale?

    4. Dr. Gary Katz says:

      @ ArnoldHarris:
      What a smug, self-righteous and racist commentary by the comfortably numb man in Wisconsin. The New York Times is the “source” of the article…and is known to state, in a routinely distorted manner, the utterings of various Jewish spokespersons. But I guess you didn’t know that, or that Netanyahu won in Feb., 2009 on the platform of “destroy Hamas,” and knew full well how Obum muscled and bullied the all-too-willing incompetents [Olmert/Livni] to stop the war of self-defense against Hamas …or else…..threats issued BEFORE he was inaugurated. But you choose to not look at the complexity of the context and reduce everything to your owm small-minded whining categories, which are stupid, slanderous, and untrue….SO easily. So just listen and STFU! There are many of us American USA citizens here in bomb shelters and your reprehensible rantings and ravings will be tossed in the trash…where you evidently reside. Dr. Gary K….Jerusalem, Israel/ via Boston, Mass.

    5. the phoenix says:

      Canadian Otter Said:

      If the Gaza disengagement was such a terrible mistake – where are the efforts to prevent its repetition on a much larger scale?

      dear otter,
      as usual, very precise observation and very well put.
      however, and this is the sad part (as an answer to your quoted question)…
      kol koreh bamidbar… a lone voice in the desert…
      IS ANYBODY HOME?!?!?!

    6. Bernard Ross says:

      Canadian Otter Said:

      If the Gaza disengagement was such a terrible mistake – where are the efforts to prevent its repetition on a much larger scale?

      A good question. Perhaps they are trying to show Israelis and the world why they cannot repeat this situation. After all look at all the idiots who said this would not happen. I dont live there and I said it would happen. perhaps if they have enough wars and rockets fired then the Israelis who believe in peace and giving up YS will dwindle. Apparently there are still Israelis who believe in disengagement AGAIN????? Go figure?

    7. Canadian Otter says:

      Schoolchildren – living and learning in a war zone

      “Kids holed up in bomb shelters can attend class long-distance, via a program by World ORT. As hostilities broke out in the south, the organization started distributing laptops to schools for use by children who would not be attending class as usual.

      “The long-distance students plug in to a teacher’s remote computerized workstation, connected to an electronic whiteboard in a smart classroom, which allows students and teachers to interact, using computer programs that let students solve problems and communicate with teachers and other students. The students can study on-line with their classmates in other shelters, and with teachers in virtual classrooms.”

      Let’s hope they are learning the hard lessons of Disengagement and appeasement.

    8. Max says:

      ‘Abu El Abed planted a Palestinian flag in the rubble’.

      I like that – a flag in the rubble – just be sure to turn the whole strip into rubble and let them plant their flags in in. That’s the wages of terrorism – rubble.

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