Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel)

Daily Alert: Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations 
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

    • Israel Gained Upper Hand in Final Days of Gaza War - Asmaa al-Ghoul
      The Gaza war took a different course during its last four days as Israeli aircraft started targeting middle- and upper-class neighborhoods. Aug. 26 ended with a cease-fire; its beginning was completely different. Gazans were traumatized as Israeli forces targeted two residential buildings - the Italian Complex and Basha Tower - in the early morning hours, in the most vital areas of Gaza. The headquarters of Sawt El Shaab radio station in Basha Tower, as well as several other press offices, turned into rubble.
          The radio station's editor, Shady Abu Shadak, said Israeli forces warned everyone to get out because they were going to strike in 20 minutes. "We started calling all the families...as well as all journalists to leave the building and we ran as far as we could." He added that the aircraft launched two guided rockets as they stood and watched.
          The Italian Complex in al-Nasr neighborhood is considered one of the highest towers in Gaza. Part of the tower is still standing. Planes launched two rockets at the foundations of the 14-story Zafer 4 tower in the modern neighborhood of Tal al-Hawa in broad daylight on Aug. 23, and no Gazan could ever forget the image of it crumbling.
          Political analyst Akram Atallah sees the targeting of residential towers as a wakeup call for the Palestinians to realize what Israel is capable of doing and as a message. "The destruction of the towers did not affect the battle as much as it affected Palestinian public opinion," he said.
          "When the ground battles stopped, Israel started to regain the upper hand....This affected the Palestinians and the resistance factions' morale." "When Israel carried out the ground operation, coffins were being sent out to Israel on a daily basis. However, after the ground withdrawal, there were no coffins anymore, which made people sense that the resistance was witnessing a setback, after initially advancing."
          Referring to the targeted killing of the southern leadership of Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades, he added, "The fact that Israel received such accurate information concerning Qassam leadership allowed it to gain ground in the battle." Atallah confirmed that impressions changed after that moment; Israel was more prone to use aircraft and it multiplied its strikes, which led to the decrease of the number and range of the resistance's rockets as the battle dragged on and reinforcement potential weakened. "In the end, Israel became the decision-maker in the truce agreement," he concluded. (Al-Monitor)
    • IDF Intelligence: In Hamas' Bunkers, They Talk About Defeat - Ben Caspit
      A member of the IDF's General Staff, who took part in building up the army's forces and in directing Operation Protective Edge, said that Hamas "counted on the assumption that Israel wouldn't touch a 14-story residential building filled with civilians on floors three to 14, while the three lowest floors are occupied by Hamas headquarters. In this, they erred. We felled nine such high-rises in the last days of the operation. We evacuated the population, the civilians understood that we were serious about this, and we downed those towers so that it would be clear that we would not accept terror in any form."
          "Hamas emerges from this story with their hands on their heads, without a single achievement....According to all our intelligence reports, the atmosphere around them is gloomy. In their bunkers, they talk about defeat, about damage. They know that it will be hard for them to explain to their nation, for what purpose did they destroy Gaza? What exactly did they receive in exchange?"  (Al-Monitor)
    • Is the Gaza War Really Over? - Khaled Abu Toameh
      Many foreign journalists who came to cover the war in Gaza were under the false impression that it was all about improving the living conditions of the Palestinians by opening border crossings and building an airport and seaport. These journalists really believed that once the demands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are accepted, this would pave the way for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
          Yet they failed to take into consideration the context of the conflict. Hamas and Islamic Jihad stated both before and after the war that their real goal is to "liberate all Palestine." It is obvious that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are now more determined than ever to pursue their fight to eliminate Israel.
          The Egypt-brokered cease-fire may achieve some calm for the foreseeable future. But Hamas and its allies will continue to raise new generations of Palestinians on glorification of terrorism and jihad. Only days before the war, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said: "We will continue to educate and call for the liberation of all Palestine and the establishment of a Palestinian state on all the land of Palestine." What Hamas and its allies are actually saying is, "Give us open borders and an airport and seaport so we can use them to prepare for the next war against Israel."  (Gatestone Institute)
    • Israelis Know that the IDF Does Not Deliberately Kill Civilians - Yossi Klein Halevi
      Israelis know that the IDF does not deliberately kill civilians. We know this because we are the IDF - because our sons, our neighbors' sons, have been fighting in Gaza. We know that dead Palestinian civilians serve the interests only of Hamas, not Israel, whose military operations in the past were either curtailed or halted altogether by an errant shell that exploded in a classroom or a refugee shelter.
          We know that houses in Gaza were booby-trapped, that schools and mosques concealed arms caches and entrances to tunnels and were repeatedly used as launching pads for rockets. And we knew, from previous experience, that the Hamas figures of civilian casualties would turn out to be lies. The good news is that we've once again surprised ourselves with our resilience. The writer is a senior fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. (New Republic)
    • Why Israel Has an Absolute Right to Defend Its People - Leo McKinstry
      In the twisted narrative of the anti-Israel brigade, the Hamas rulers of Gaza are battling for their oppressed people against a brutal, racist military regime. But this is a complete moral inversion of reality. In truth, Israel is a bulwark of democracy forced by the lethal forces of anti-Semitic Islamism to fight for survival.
          Far from representing liberation and progress, as many progressives absurdly claim, Hamas is a brutal organization that aims to impose totalitarian Islamic rule. Along with other jihadist outfits like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Boko Haram in Nigeria, or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, it forms part of a monstrous theocratic death cult that wants to destroy our civilization. Genocidal aggression towards the non-believer is a key element of this cult.
          Visceral loathing for the Jewish state is the central impetus behind Hamas, reflected in its relentless barrage of indiscriminate rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel. But it is Hamas, in all its Islamist addiction to persecution, violence, misogyny and racial hatred, that should be the real pariah. (Express-UK)
    • Sen. Elizabeth Warren Defends Israeli Shelling of Gaza Schools, Hospitals - Ryan Grim and Zach Carter
      The Israeli military has the right to attack Palestinian hospitals and schools in self-defense if Hamas has put rocket launchers next to them, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said last week at a local town hall, according to the Cape Cod Times. Warren said she thinks civilian casualties are the "last thing Israel wants. But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they're using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself."
          Warren argued that Israel's use of force was justified: "Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren't many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law. And we very much need an ally in that part of the world."  (Huffington Post)