Saturday, June 20, 2015

Hitler Youth for "Peace in the Middle East"

US and Swiss researchers have conducted a revealing study about the state of German society and especially anti-Semitism in Germany today.

Over a period of ten years they interviewed more than 5,000 Germans who were schooled between 1933 and 1945 in 264 cities and towns across the country. The responses led to two important conclusions: first, that people who were members in the Hitler Youth mostly retained their anti-Semitic prejudices; second, that regions which had previously had a more anti-Semitic climate were more receptive to the Nazi variety.

Researchers see it as confirmation that the most effective way for a totalitarian regime to influence public opinion is to first target the youth at the time of life when identity is formed and ideas can be planted to last.
Despite the horrors of war, the subsequent discovery of atrocities committed, the impressive literary and film productions on the Holocaust, and educational messages distilled by the governments of the postwar period, many Germans retained their prejudice about Jews.
Benjamin Ortmeyer, professor at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, explains that the indoctrination practices of the Hitler Youth and other groups had tragic effects. He cites, for example, members of the Hitler Youth who searched the church records of their villages to find Jewish families who had converted to Christianity in hopes of escaping their fate. This "educational mission" assigned to them by their "educators" resulted in the deportation of Jewish families to concentration camps, making these young people complicit in crimes against humanity.
The indoctrination and regimentation of Palestinian youth is modeled on the same principle. All teaching material is mobilized to produce generations of Palestinian Arabs molded by anti-Semitism. Television programs for children, textbooks, cartoons, sports tournaments, summer camps are all anti-Semitic propaganda machines to which children, even the smallest, are exposed: the Jew as cunning, a thief, murderer of children, poisoner, pervert, lewd, liar and blasphemer. 
To that poisonous cocktail they add the encouragement of Shahada (martyrdom), instilling in children aged five or six the notion that their dream should be to die a martyr by killing Jews. Videos, books, comics documenting these themes exist in the thousands.
This education to hatred, inspired by the indoctrination of the Hitler Youth but does not get the attention it deserves. It is even concealed. Those who speak today of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East with disconcerting naiveté and demand that Israel pay the price, pretend to ignore that the PLO and Hamas are methodically creating anti-Semites and criminals for future generations.
The historical link is not difficult to establish. The late Professor Robert Wistrich, a global specialist on anti-Semitism said: 
"This is a crucial point that is generally neglected: the anti-Semitism of the Nazis was already liked a lot in the 1930s by Arab nationalists and Muslim fundamentalists.
And it is unnecessary to belabor the admiration of Nazism for the man who was the creator and undisputed leader of the Palestinian Arab nationalist movement, the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin Al-Husseini, a friend and collaborator of Hitler’s.
Yasser Arafat and the former representative of the PLO in France, Leila Shahid, liked to reminisce about their relationship with al-Husseini.
The minutes of an important meeting which took place in Berlin on November 28, 1941 between Adolf Hitler and the Mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini reveal that the Führer "opened his heart" to his guest, saying that "his goal was the extermination of world Jewry." He knew he was preaching to the converted.
It is therefore not surprising that the themes used by the Nazi regime vis-à-vis its youth run through the education system in the Palestinian Arab sphere of the “moderate” Fatah movement, as well as of Hamas. Palestinian Arab children parading in uniform, often girded with fake explosive belts, are a chilling display. And the murderous hate texts they are taught to recite on stage facing cheering crowds are a lasting moral stain on the adults.
But where is the UN in all this? UNICEF? The European Union, which also partially finances these textbooks?
Closing their eyes, they participate in a massive crimes against humanity, one which destroys entire generations by using children as a weapon of war and turning them into hating robots for the rest of their lives.
It is this "education" that the Palestinian Arab leaders give their children that exposes their true intentions.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Another island of tranquility in the Middle East

From ME Forum, 14 June 2015, by Gal Luft*:

It may sometimes seem the world is increasingly antagonistic toward Israel, but Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades' visit to Jerusalem this week should remind Israelis that there are still allies to be found, even in the Middle East. One of them lies a mere 200 kilometers from the beaches of Haifa.
For decades, Israel has neglected Cyprus, focusing its efforts on becoming more acceptable to its Arab neighbors, as well as to Turkey, Cyprus' archenemy. But these efforts have stalled in recent years. Relations with Turkey have soured, the peace with Jordan and Egypt is more or less frozen, and the peace process with the Palestinians is nonexistent.

Among all of these, it is Cyprus, Israel's only non-majority-Muslim neighbor, that provides a glimmer of hope. With only 10 percent of Israel's population and 1 percent of Turkey's, the island may seem to be of little strategic importance, but recent geopolitical and economic developments have elevated its value for Israel and vice versa, creating the conditions for a renaissance in Israel-Cyprus relations.
Cyprus is Israel's only non-majority-Muslim neighbor.
An important agenda item of Anastasiades' visit will be energy. Cyprus and Israel share significant natural gas reserves. The same companies that own Israel's Leviathan and Tamar gas fields – Noble Energy, Delek Drilling and Avner Oil & Gas Exploration – also own Aphrodite, a 4.5 trillion cubic feet field that lies off the coast of Cyprus.

Cyprus has already signed a memorandum of understanding to supply gas to Egypt but, like Israel, it has yet to figure out how to turn its gas bonanza into cash. There is room to mesh both countries' efforts to develop their energy resources and collectively embark on a regional energy development plan. But the governments of Israel and Cyprus would be remiss if they focus the dialogue exclusively on gas, as there are other, no less important, strategic opportunities the two countries can advance.

Cyprus is in a unique position to offer Israel a coveted prize: strategic depth. On July 22, 2014, during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, a Hamas rocket landing near Ben-Gurion Airport led to a four-day shutdown of Israel's outlet to the world. This experience ensures that in the next round of fighting, Israel's airports will be at the top of Hamas' or Hezbollah's target list.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades

Israel should seek an alternative airport – far from the missile range – to enable the flow of passengers and supplies into and out of the country in times of emergency. A mere 40-minute flight or four-hour boat ride away, Cyprus can provide Israel with landing rights on its runways and hence an exit to the world. Such relationships can also extend into agreements to requisition fuel and military equipment should Israeli air force bases be under fire, as well as airspace for training.

Another opportunity has to do with China. The Cyprus-Israel axis can be an important element in China's Maritime Silk Road, an ambitious strategic initiative aimed to connect Asia and Europe via a network of maritime trade corridors, pipelines, sea and air ports and undersea fiber optics lines. Israel is a land bridge connecting the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, while Cyprus, an EU member, is a stepping stone to Europe.

Cyprus, an EU member, is a stepping stone to Europe.
With the help of China, the two countries can create a land and maritime passage from the Red Sea to the gates of Europe, one that also happens to traverse one of the largest discoveries of hydrocarbons in recent history. Such trade corridor – an alternative to the Suez Canal – would be an important piece of China's strategic design, which, if implemented, would be the biggest infrastructure development project in history.

Tapping into China's Silk Road initiative would also make Israel and Cyprus eligible for project financing from the dedicated financial institutions the Chinese have established, like the Silk Road Fund and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, of which Israel is a founding member.
Cyprus needs Israel no less than Israel needs Cyprus. The island's economy is recovering from a financial meltdown, and its main trading partner, Greece, is financially ruined. To be eligible for the next package of international bailout, it is obligated to undergo painful reforms, including the privatization of several of its state-owned enterprises. This provides interesting opportunities for Israeli investors.

Furthermore, with Turkey's defense budget almost the size of the entire Cypriot economy, the people of Cyprus are as anxious about potential Turkish aggression as Israelis are about potential Iranian aggression. Closer strategic relations with a prosperous and militarily powerful Israel will be a shot in the arm for Cyprus.

None of this should be viewed as a ploy against Ankara. To the contrary, with the Erdogan regime weakened after this month's election, Israel should seek to improve its relations with Turkey while Cyprus should strive to continue reunification talks. Both countries should act in unison to include Turkey in their East Mediterranean energy development plan.

Israel is often hailed as an island of tranquility amid the storm raging in the Middle East. There is another island just like this. It's time to explore it.
*Gal Luft, a fellow at the Middle East Forum, is co-director of the Washington-based Institute for the Analysis of Global Security.

The silent exclusion of Israeli academics

Under the protection of secrecy and lack of transparency, a barrier stronger than any boycott is slowly being built in the world of academic journals.

An academic's job includes first and foremost research and teaching. His other tasks are part of the academic routine: Editing academic journals, appraising doctoral students' theses and writing opinions, many opinions. 

He is asked to review professional colleagues from the moment they are admitted into the academic institutions through their promotions, and he mainly has to review the quality of their research. This applies to both Israel and the world. The university is universal.
During the review processes, a close and patronage relationship develops, cliques are created, there are negative biases, preferences and scores to settle. The academia is a living human system. Despite the scores – and perhaps because of them – the academia has set clear rules. A prestigious journal will never publish a poorly written article just because the researcher is associated with the editor – prestige is acquired slowly and with great effort, and one poorly written article can bring it down.

That's the reason why most of the esteemed publications in the world make sure that an article received for consideration will be reviewed anonymously. The person who knows who sent the article is the editorial board secretary. The editorial board decides who will review the article, and the person who is asked to write an opinion on the article and decide whether it should be accepted, rejected or request amendments, does not know who the writer is. The process is clear and does not include transparency.

I was lucky. At the beginning of my academic career, the reviewer of the first article I sent to an international journal asked for my name after writing a positive opinion. Since then, it has become my home journal. He later became the journal's editor. I was asked by him to write review articles on research books.
A review of a book that has already been published makes the secrecy unnecessary – a review article aims to point to the problematic aspects of the reviewed book, and sometimes to oppose its findings. The writer of the review creates rivals, and so there are not many people who are eager to publish a review of a colleague's book. Editors of important journals which only publish a small number of the research articles they receive court the writers of the review articles and gladly accept them.

On the backdrop of the shortage in review articles on books, every review article I have written was gladly received and published – up until two years ago, when I sent the journal a review article. I waited for its publication in the upcoming issue, and then in the next issue – and nothing happened. There was neither a publication nor a rejection letter. I sent the article again, in case there had been an email error, and got no response.

I met the editor in a conference held in the United States a while ago. He used crafty intellectual terms in order to explain the new trends in Middle Eastern research which led to the changes in the publication policy. He didn't say in any way that Israelis were not wanted.
A simple examination of the past two years' issues revealed that the change amounts to not publishing any article by an Israeli researcher. Under the protection of secrecy and lack of transparency, a barrier stronger than any boycott is slowly being built.
*Prof. Ze'ev Zahor is the founder and former president of the Sapir Academic College

Stop the Snowball Effect of Academic Boycotts

Translated from Hebrew in Walla:

Attempts to impose an academic boycott on Israel are an affront to the most important national resource, to its human capital. This resource is under attack by an international anti-Israel elements. An academic boycott means, harming the strategic advantage of the state of Israel and a real danger to its future and strength.

An emergency meeting was held last week at the President's office on imposition of academic boycotts. The convergence of all the heads of the higher education institutions indicates the importance and seriousness of the matter. The President of Israel called it a first-rate strategic threat and is willing to be mobilized  "as a soldier in the fight," he said, to eradicate the phenomenon.

We are at a time when it is still possible to take action to prevent serious damage to research, industry economics and the future strength of the State of Israel. This is an issue of national importance. We are currently facing a significant danger ahead of us. It's a snowball effect at its beginning and we believe that if we do not act now it could pose a threat to research in Israel.

In recent years, we witness attempts, on the part of the world's anti-Israel elements, calling for academic boycotts to be imposed on academic institutions in Israel and on Israeli and Jewish scholars working in academic institutions around the world. The public calls in the world for an academic boycott, are an extreme manifestation of severe symptoms, based on anti-Semitism and anti-Israel, and mostly occurs behind closed doors. Behind the scenes of the academic world. The warning signs that are occasionally exposed are a tip of the iceberg of discovery of boycotts, most of which are undeclared.

...Academic research and the scientific development in the world use and depend on the exchange of information and cooperation among international institutions, its success is dependent on it. Boycotting researchers or academic institutions is a phenomena with serious consequences that could block scientific developments that are essential to the advancement of research. But the problem does not stop here, the research that faces attack today is the basis for high-tech companies and Israeli medicine, it is the basis for technological developments of scientific industry and exports, is driving the Israeli economy forward and put us at the forefront of international development.

Equally serious threat comes from student organizations on campuses in Europe and the United States. A number of anti-Israel resolutions that were promoted by student organizations at leading universities in the US, are evidence of distress of Israel-supporters students are facing, that population forms the next generation of political leadership in the US in the coming years. We urge the Israeli government to acknowledge the problem and harness the resources at its disposal to help those who are fighting this dangerous phenomenon, often in a hostile environment with considerable personal risk.

We must not stand idle while this snowball effect continues to grow. We must raise this important issue to the public agenda, recognize the issue as a matter of national importance and act together to prevent the spread of the phenomenon.

Middle East Chaos: using weapons of the 21st century to kill according to the rules of the 7th century


In an 8,000-word Hebrew-language monograph, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaacov Amidror studies the storms convulsing the Arab Middle East. He looks at the long-term implications of Middle East chaos.
Amidror, who is now the Anne and Greg Rosshandler Senior Fellow at the BESA Center, is an important analyst, since he is the immediate past national security advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu and previously served as chief of the research and analysis division of military intelligence in the IDF.
Amidror sees civilizational shifts of historical proportions underway, and he argues that there is no way of knowing how long the upheavals will continue or how they will end. “We are witnessing a wide and deep struggle over the character and future of the Arab nation, and perhaps of Islam as a whole,” he writes.
The troubles go all the way back to the fall of the Ottoman Empire, he writes, and to the revolution in Iran, the consequent rise of radical Islam, the attacks of 9/11 on the U.S., the conquest of Iraq as a response to these, and to the Arab Spring. “To this we must add the weakness manifested by the international system, especially the U.S.-led Western alliance; the total worthlessness of global organizations; and the ruinous activities of local forces unique to each state.”
Amidror’s conclusion is that anyone from the outside trying to influence these regional upheavals in a positive direction will find the task very difficult. “There is no silver bullet,” Amidror says, that will steer things in the right direction. “The problems are too significant. This necessitates a great deal of modesty in policy planning, and security caution too.”
For Israel, he writes, the best strategy is to identify the greatest threats looming in its vicinity, and concentrate its efforts narrowly in dealing with these specific threats, and on them alone. Primarily, this means focusing on the threat from Iran, and maintaining Israel’s military prowess. “A nuclear Iran is the greatest threat to Israel, period.”
If Israel’s power is reduced or if it loses the determination required to use that power, then it will have no place in the Middle East; it will be destroyed. We live in a brutal world in which Israel’s enemies use weapons of the 21st century, but fight and kill according to the rules of conduct of the 7th century...It is supremely important for Israel’s blade to be sharp, and for Israel to be prepared to use it, and not only for its own sake. This is so even if the other democratic countries are not prepared to admit this publicly.”
As for local threats, Amidror writes that 
“any agreement with the Palestinians must be based on the understanding that no signatory and no guarantor of the agreement is likely to have the power to prevent Islamic radicalization among the Palestinians. In order to prepare for the possible scenario of a very radical government in Ramallah, in mortar range of the Knesset in Jerusalem, the security measures specified in any Israeli-Palestinian agreement will have to be extremely tough – unlike the weak security provisions of the Oslo agreements.”
“The main problem for Israel is that what weighs on the Palestinians is not the conquest of 1967 but the ‘occupation’ of 1948. They do not accept the existence of the State of Israel even within the borders of the 1949 cease fire. It turns out that the slogan, ‘territories for peace,’ was an illusion. The fact that Jaffa, Tiberius and Safed are under Israeli control is more ‘oppressive’ to them than IDF roadblocks at the exits of Hebron and Nablus. The Palestinians have yet to internalize the fact that Israel will continue to exist as the nation state of the Jewish People.”
“In any case,” Amidror says, it certainly not true that the Palestinian issue is the core of Middle East troubles. Just the opposite: it is a marginal issue. Ameliorating the Palestinian-Israeli dispute will somewhat help Israel build alliances with other Arab countries, but it won’t solve any of the major problems that beset the region.”
In short, Amidror’s recipe for security in the crumbling Middle East is patience, vigilance and steadfastness.
An English version of this major study will be published soon.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The 2014 Gaza Conflict

From the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 14 June 2015:

The 2014 Gaza Conflict was a peak in the ongoing armed conflict waged against Israel for over a decade by terrorist organisations operating from the Gaza Strip. This Report provides information so that others may reach an informed understanding of the reasons for the Conflict and the actions of the parties thereto.


On July 7, 2014, the Government of Israel ordered the Israel Defense Forces to launch an aerial operation against Hamas and other terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip. This operation, termed “Operation Protective Edge”, was launched in response to increasing rocket and mortar fire on Israel from the Gaza Strip during June and early July 2014, and despite Israel's continued efforts at de-escalation.

On July 17, 2014, as a result of Hamas's continued rejection of ceasefire initiatives, ongoing rocket and mortar fire and the execution of attacks in Israeli territory by sea and through cross-border assault tunnels, the Government of Israel authorized the entry of ground forces into a limited area of the Gaza Strip. These ground forces were tasked with identifying and neutralizing the cross-border assault tunnels, which originated from the outskirts of the urban areas of the Gaza Strip. The ground forces withdrew from the Gaza Strip on August 5, after locating and neutralising 32 cross-border assault tunnels, and despite ongoing rocket and mortar attacks against Israel. The 2014 Gaza Conflict concluded on August 26, with an unconditional ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

The Full Report comprises official documents concerning factual and legal aspects of the 2014 Gaza Conflict. These documents provide information on the following topics:

  • background to the armed conflict that Hamas has waged against Israel for over a decade; the circumstances that led Israel to launch Operation Protective Edge;
  • the effect of Hamas's attacks on Israel's civilian population and Israel's civil defense measures;
  • the tactics of Hamas and other terrorist organizations during the conflict and their violations of international law;
  • detailed factual and legal information concerning the actions of the IDF during the conflict, including the steps taken before and during the conflict to ensure Israel's compliance with the Law of Armed Conflict; and
  • Israel's examination and investigation mechanism for dealing with alleged misconduct by IDF forces.

Executive Summary - Introduction

The following Report - The 2014 Gaza Conflict (7 July - 26 August 2014): Factual and Legal Aspects - presents detailed factual and legal information regarding the intensive hostilities that took place from July 7 to August 26, 2014 between the State of Israel and Hamas and other terrorist organisations operating in the Gaza Strip ("the 2014 Gaza Conflict", also known as Operation "Protective Edge").

This Report is intended to provide information so that others may reach an informed understanding of the reasons for the 2014 Gaza Conflict and the actions of the parties thereto. Although the Report does not purport to provide complete coverage of the 2014 Gaza Conflict, it constitutes an unprecedented effort to present factual and legal aspects concerning the Conflict.

The Report includes an assessment of the events leading up to the 2014 Gaza Conflict, describing the overall objectives for Israel and the rationale behind Israel’s strategic decisions. The Report presents Israel’s legal positions concerning the conduct of hostilities, examples of military targets and individuals targeted by the Israel Defense Forces ("IDF") during the Conflict, statistics concerning the amount of humanitarian aid that entered the Gaza Strip with Israel’s facilitation, details regarding the costs borne by Israel’s civilian population as a result of the 2014 Gaza Conflict, and information revealing the unlawful activities of Hamas and other terrorist organisations. The Report also discusses Israel’s justice system, and its procedures for examining and investigating possible violations of the Law of Armed Conflict.

The 2014 Gaza Conflict was another peak of hostilities in the ongoing armed conflict that has been waged against Israel for well over a decade by terrorist organisations operating from the Gaza Strip. The nature of the hostilities between the IDF and these terrorist organisations in the summer of 2014 was characterised by the following two interrelated elements.

First, the conflict occurred primarily in an urban environment. Hamas combat manuals and training materials recovered by IDF forces in the Gaza Strip demonstrate that Hamas’s strategy was to deliberately draw the hostilities into the urban terrain, and to use built-up areas and the presence of the civilian population for tactical advantage and political gain. This strategy was obvious during the 2014 Gaza Conflict in view of the sheer scope of military activity that Hamas and other terrorist organisations embedded within the urban environment.

Second, the conflict involved non-state actors who defy international law, including the Law of Armed Conflict applicable to the hostilities within the Gaza Strip. More than just drawing the fighting into the urban terrain, these organisations often unlawfully intertwined their military operations with the civilian environment. IDF airborne and ground forces faced militants disguised as civilians and as IDF soldiers, residential homes converted to military command centres, multistory buildings used as pre-prepared surveillance positions, mosque minarets employed as sniping posts, schools utilized as weapons caches, civilian structures extensively booby-trapped, and tunnel openings and infrastructure hidden in and under civilian areas.

This exploitation of civilian surroundings - which often constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity - posed significant operational, legal and ethical challenges for the IDF. The IDF is committed to conducting all its operations in accordance with international law and makes efforts, including beyond its legal obligations, to mitigate the risk of harm to civilians when doing so. Despite the IDF’s commitment to the rule of law and efforts to protect civilians, an unfortunate result of the complex realities described above is that during the 2014 Gaza Conflict numerous civilians were caught in the hostilities.

It is against this background that the harm to civilians and civilian objects in the Gaza Strip that resulted from the 2014 Gaza Conflict should be assessed. 

In all armed conflicts, the application of military force almost inevitably causes residual and incidental harm; this is even more so when the hostilities occur in the urban environment. The 2014 Gaza Conflict in particular involved high intensity, protracted hostilities, including close-quarter combat and intensive urban warfare, exacerbating the risk of harm to civilians within the combat arena. Such harm was also the direct result of rockets and mortars that were launched towards Israel from within the Gaza Strip but that fell short. 

Furthermore, much of what may have appeared to external parties to be indiscriminate harm to civilians or purely civilian objects was in fact legitimate attacks against military targets that merely appear civilian but were actually part of the military operations of these terrorist organisations. Many allegedly "civilian" casualties were in fact militants. 

Harm to the civilian population also occurred as the result of unfortunate - yet lawful - incidental effects of legitimate military action in the vicinity of civilians and their surroundings, and as a result of the inescapable constraint of commanders not being infallible, intelligence not being perfect and technological systems sometimes failing.

As stated repeatedly by the IDF and the Government of Israel’s highest representatives, Israel did not intend, and deeply regrets, the harm caused to the Palestinian civilian population and surroundings during the 2014 Gaza Conflict. 

"Israel not only met but significantly exceeded international legal standards"

From UN Watch Briefing, Vol. 537 |  June 12, 2015:

Ahead of UN Report on 2014 Gaza War, Multinational Mission of Generals Find: "Israel not only met but significantly exceeded international legal standards"  
 General Klaus Naumann
Former Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
General Vincenzo Camporini
  Former Chief of the
Defence Staff of Italy
 Admiral Jose Maria Teran Former Chief of the
Joint Staff of Spain

Giulio Terzi
former Foreign Minister of Italy
  Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper, former US State Department Ambassador at Large for war crimes issues

Mr. Rafael Bardaji, former National Security Adviser for the Spanish government
Lieutenant General David A. Deptula,  former Standing Joint Force Air Component Commander, United States Pacific Command

Major General Jim MolanFormer Chief of Operations, Headquarters Multi National Force, Iraq and Commander of the Australian Defence College
 Colonel Vincent Alcazar
Former senior United States Air Force officer in Iraq and Afghanistan

Colonel Richard KempFormer Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan
Colonel Eduardo Ramirez  Member of Colombian Congress and former Chief of Security, Colombia

The report of the UN's controversial Schabas-Davis commission of inquiry on Gaza is to be released imminently, and will be debated on Monday, June 29th, before the Human Rights Council. 

UN Watch has obtained a copy of a key submission made to the probe: the preliminary findings of the High Level International Military Group that visited Israel in May 2015 for a fact-finding mission on the 2014 Gaza conflict, whose main points we publish below:

• The mission was led by General Klaus Naumann, former Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, the most senior officer in the Alliance, along with 10 other former chiefs of staff, generals, senior officers, political leaders and officials from the United States, the United Kingdom, Holland, Spain, Italy, Australia and Colombia.

• The mission was the first multi-national group of senior officers to visit Israel in the context of the 2014 conflict, and were granted an unprecedented level of access.

• “We examined the circumstances that led to the tragic conflict last summer and are in no doubt that this was not a war that Israel wanted. Israel sought to avoid the conflict and exercised great restraint over a period of months before the war when its citizens were targeted by sporadic rocket attacks from Gaza.”

• “Once the war had begun, Israel made repeated efforts to terminate the fighting. The war that Israel was eventually compelled to fight against Hamas and other Gaza extremists was a legitimate war, necessary to defend its citizens and its territory against sustained attack from beyond its borders.”

•  “Hamas rocket attacks deliberately and indiscriminately targeted Israeli civilian population centres in the south of the country. We visited one, the kibbutz Nahal Oz, at which more than 150 Hamas rockets had been directed last summer, causing loss of life and large-scale destruction. Many attacks were also launched against major cities further north including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Hamas deliberately fired missiles at Ben Gurion International Airport, disrupting and threatening international civil air traffic. There is no doubt that all of these attacks constitute war crimes.”

•  “Hamas also constructed an array of tunnels, using materials diverted from humanitarian supplies, which penetrated the border between Gaza and Israel, in many cases emerging close to civilian communities. We entered one such tunnel, which extended over two kilometres, terminating only a few hundred yards from a kibbutz and likely intended to eventually bore into the kibbutz itself. We can only conclude that these tunnels were designed, at least in part, to attack, kill and abduct Israeli civilians. This again constitutes a war crime.”

•  “Hamas launched attacks against Israel from the heart of its own civilian communities in Gaza and positioned its munitions and military forces there also, including in schools, hospitals and mosques. As well as carefully documented IDF evidence of this, we have viewed international media footage confirming several cases and are aware of senior Hamas officials' own claims to have used human shields. A recent report by the UN Secretary General confirmed that in some cases Hamas even used UN facilities for storing munitions and launching attacks.”

• “Each of our own armies is of course committed to protecting civilian life during combat. But none of us is aware of any army that takes such extensive measures as did the IDF last summer to protect the lives of the civilian population in such circumstances.”

• “We agree with the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, who following the Pentagon’s fact-finding mission to Israel, went on record last November as saying that in the 2014 Gaza conflict, ‘Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties’.”

• “Our overall findings are that during Operation Protective Edge last summer, in the air, on the ground and at sea, Israel not only met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict, but in many cases significantly exceeded that standard.”

• “We saw clear evidence of this from the upper to the lower levels of command. A measure of the seriousness with which Israel took its moral duties and its responsibilities under the laws of armed conflict is that in some cases Israel's scrupulous adherence to the laws of war cost Israeli soldiers' and civilians' lives.”

For full report, click here.

Signed on 31 May 2015 by the members of the High Level International Military Group that visited Israel 18-22 May 2015

Giulio Terzi, former Foreign Minister of Italy
General Klaus Naumann, former Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
General Vincenzo Camporini, former Chief of the Defence Staff of Italy
Admiral Jose Maria Teran, former Chief of Joint Staff of Spain
Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper, former US State Department Ambassador at Large for war crimes issues.
Rafael Bardaji, former National Security Advisor for the Spanish government
Lieutenant General David A. Deptula, former Standing Joint Force Air Component Commander, United States Pacific Command.
Major General Jim Molan, former Chief of Operations, Headquarters Multi National Force, Iraq and Commander of the Australian Defence College
Colonel Eduardo Ramirez, Member of Colombian Congress and former Chief of Security, Colombia
Colonel Vincent Alcazar, former senior United States Air Force officer in Iraq and Afghanistan
Colonel Richard Kemp, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan

The project was sponsored by the Friends of Israel Initiative.


From The Australian, June 10, 2015

By Major-General Jim Molan (Ret.)*

We sat in the Israeli kibbutz 800m from the closest Gaza Strip buildings. Four Israeli women told ­stories of life during Operation Protective Edge, the 50-day conflict last year between Israel and Hamas, of the rain of rockets and mortars, 15 seconds’ warning, days in shelters and of a four-year-old child killed by shrapnel.

The rockets impacted on every aspect of life but the effect of finding one of the many sophisticated tunnels dug over several years at the very door step of the kibbutz for Hamas fighters to kill civilians more precisely and personally was an even greater shock.

“It is not the people of Gaza,” the woman said still visibly disturbed. “It is Hamas. We are of the Left of Israeli politics and want peace so much. The sound of our planes flying overhead to bomb Gaza challenged every belief I have. But we will not live with terror. Before Hamas we had Palestinian friends in Gaza and we care for those people, it is not their fault. Perhaps we will be friends again one day.”

Having spent a week in Israel courtesy of a pro-Israel organisation, I found myself saying rather gratuitously: “As a foreigner with only a week in ­Israel, I say that your military truly reflects your care for the people of Gaza.” I meant well, knowing that perhaps 2200 Gazans died of all causes in the latest clash, but she turned on me, saying: “Of course they do. They reflect our values. They are our sons.”

A week before I would not have been prepared to make the statement that the Israeli military “cared”. Despite the negative inference of most reporting, I had expected that Israel observed international law. This requires that wars be just, and fought in ­accordance with principles of proportionality, humanity, discrimination and necessity. Of course there is vast room for interpretation, with one man’s proportionality being the Human Rights Council’s war crime.

I suspect that I was invited to Israel because I had publicly criticised the bizarre 2010 UN Goldstone Report on a previous war in Gaza, and I was as a general in Iraq experienced in the practical application of the laws of armed conflict on a similar battlefield.

Now having spent a week in ­Israel with a group of senior military, police and lawyers researching Israel’s moral approach to warfighting, the results exceeded my expectation. I do not take a position on Israel’s legitimacy, the two-state solution, settlements or the occupation. With a moral and professional eye, I focused on this one conflict.

As a result, I am much more comfortable now that I can make the case I expected to make, ­although our assessment process still has some time to go.

I can say that Israel’s prosecution of Operation Protective Edge not only met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict, it ­exceeded them significantly, often at cost to Israeli soldiers and citizens. It did this to preserve the life and property of those trying to kill Israeli citizens. Where there were individual failures, Israel is taking transparent legal action.

In war any military can exceed the “reasonable” standard. ­According to the strict internal ­review methods that were applied to my conduct of military operations back in Iraq, my actions were ­always legal, and where I could, I exceeded them. The IDF did this and more.

Many will still question how ­Israel can have acted legally given its losses were markedly less in soldiers and civilians. Israel is so strong and Hamas so weak. We all saw the grainy videos of houses being demolished by bombs.

Those who hate Israel will continue to make the case that everything Israel does is bad and that Hamas was struggling nobly for Palestinian freedom. I do not ask anyone to necessarily believe what I say, but at least there is an obligation to be equally sceptical of what Hamas says.

Given our examination of the cause of Operation Protective Edge, it would be indefensible to argue that Israel wanted it, init­iated it or sustained it, or that ­Israel acted in anything other than defence of its citizens. On this basis alone, Israel’s war was just. It will be interesting to see if the imminent UNHRC report and the ICC inquiry can deliver fairness. Many do not understand it is not illegal to kill civilians in war as long as that is not the purpose of your actions, hence the appalling term “collateral damage”. Unlike our fight in Iraq or Afghanistan, Israel fights repeatedly in the same neighbourhood, and so its understanding and its intelligence is far superior to anything that I have enjoyed in similar targeting decisions that I have made.

While acknowledging the tragedy of death in war and given the immense capability of the IDF, it stands to Israel’s everlasting credit that far more did not die. But from the very top of the command chain down to the infantry and ­pilots, the personal moral position that individuals took was mirrored in the targeting processes, decisions on the ground and in the real care taken.

War can brutalise, but the Israelis scrupulously “cared” for the Palestinians. By contrast, Hamas was an enemy whose central strategy was to directly target the Israeli population and who repeatedly used their own population as human shields, both of which in any fair system would constitute major war crimes.

The women of the kibbutz were proud of their sons, but they would also be proud of what one senior Israeli commander whose soldier son was about to deploy to Gaza, recounted.

“Come back alive,” he said in farewell, “but come back human.” I wonder what the Hamas version of this farewell would be.

*Jim Molan is a retired major-general in the Australian Army.

Pressure the PA, not Israel...

15 June 2015:

Israeli PM Netanyahu at the Herzliya Conference speech a few days ago:
“I again call on President Abbas to return to negotiations without preconditions. But I also know he has very little reason to talk. Why should he talk? He can get by without talking. He can get by with an international community that blames Israel for not having talks. In other words, the Palestinians run from the table. They ran away from Prime Minister Barak. They ran away from Prime Minister Olmert. They ran away from, before that, from Prime Minister Sharon. And they ran away from me.”
“...the Palestinians have a nifty trick up their sleeve - they refuse to negotiate and then get international pressure, sanctions, boycotts on Israel for there not being negotiations. It's a perfect Catch-22. And there are those who attempt to impose terms on Israel ... because there are no talks and some of them pretend that the dangers we face are not real dangers at all.