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Today's News

August 1, 2014


Kerry: Israel and Hamas Agree to a 72-Hour Cease-Fire

By & VOA News


Israel and Hamas terrorists have agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire in the Gaza conflict, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday night, according to AFP. Kerry said that the two sides would begin the truce at 8 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) and that Israelis and Palestinian Arabs would enter talks in Cairo.


"This ceasefire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence," Kerry said in a hastily arranged mid-morning statement on a visit to New Delhi. "During this period, civilians in Gaza will receive urgently needed humanitarian relief, and the opportunity to carry out vital functions, including burying the dead, taking care of the injured, and restocking food supplies," he added.


"Overdue repairs on essential water and energy infrastructure could also continue during this period," said Kerry, who noted he was announcing the truce jointly with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has also invested intense efforts in brokering an end to the bloody conflict.


According to a statement posted on the UN website, “the forces on the ground will remain in place” during the 72-hour cease-fire. "We urge all parties to act with restraint until this humanitarian ceasefire begins, and to fully abide by their commitments during the cease-fire,” it said.


Kerry, who aides said has held some 100 phone calls on the crisis in the past week despite a trip to India, warned that the cease-fire was not final. "I want to emphasize -- this is not a time for congratulations and joy, or anything except a serious determination, a focus by everybody to try to figure out the road ahead," he was quoted by AFP as having said. "This is a respite, a moment of opportunity -- not an end. It's not a solution. It's the opportunity to find a solution."


Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had said that Israel was determined, regardless of cease-fire efforts, to finish the destruction of tunnels that Palestinian terrorists have built under the Gaza-Israel border. “We are determined to complete this mission with or without a cease-fire,” Netanyahu said in public remarks opening a cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv. “I won't agree to any proposal that will not enable the Israeli military to complete this important task for the sake of Israel's security.”


Major General Sami Turgeman, chief of Israeli forces in Gaza, said they were “but a few days away from destroying all the attack tunnels.” They have shut down at least 30 to date.


Earlier Thursday, Israel's military called up an additional 16,000 additional reservists, taking their total to 86,000, as military operations in the Gaza Strip continue, an army spokeswoman said, according to the French news agency AFP.


Gaza officials said at least 1,361 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have now been killed in the battered enclave. Israel has lost 56 soldiers to Gaza clashes and three civilians to Palestinian shelling.


The United Nations on Thursday reported about 15,000 more Palestinians seeking refuge in its shelters in Gaza. That brought the total to about 250,000 million people – approximately four times what the organization said it had expected.


Netanyahu faces intense pressure from abroad to stand down, however. The United States and the U.N. Security Council have urged an immediate, unconditional cease-fire by both sides in Gaza to allow in humanitarian relief and for further talks on a more durable cessation of hostilities. Separately, the Pentagon said it had allowed Israel to stock up on grenades and mortar rounds from a U.S. munitions store located in Israel as part of bilateral emergency preparedness arrangement.



Israelis Know Hamas Leaders Hiding in Shifa Hospital Because They Built the Bunkers



The Tower's Tablet magazine has explained how Israel knows that the leaders of the terrorist group Hamas are headquartered the Shifa hospital in Gaza: It was Israel that build the hospital – including the bunker in the basement that Hamas uses as its headquarters.


The Israelis are so sure about the location of the Hamas bunker, however, not because they are trying to score propaganda points, or because it has been repeatedly mentioned in passing by Western reporters—but because they built it. Back in 1983, when Israel still ruled Gaza, they built a secure underground operating room and tunnel network beneath Shifa hospital—which is one among several reasons why Israeli security sources are so sure that there is a main Hamas command bunker in or around the large cement basement beneath the area of Building 2 of the Hospital, which reporters are obviously prohibited from entering.


The bunker, coupled with ongoing media reports that document the presence of Hamas in the hospital, indicate that the terrorist group is headquartered there.


On July 15, for example, William Booth of the Washington Post wrote that the hospital “has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices.” Back in 2006, PBS even aired a documentary showing how gunmen roam the halls of the hospital, intimidate the staff, and deny them access to protected locations within the building—where the camera crew was obviously prohibited from filming. Yet the confirmation that Hamas is using Gaza City’s biggest hospital as its de facto headquarters was made in the last sentence of the eighth paragraph of Booth’s story—which would appear to be the kind of rookie mistake that is known in journalistic parlance as “burying the lede.”



Tunnels for Tunnels: Key Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway Tunnel Completed



As anyone who has traveled to or from Jerusalem in the past year knows, the country's main Highway #1 leading from the capital to central Israel, is undergoing major revamping. Mountains are being carved out to add lanes, curves are being straightened, and, most significantly, the famous Motza slide-turn is being obviated by a majestic tunnel-overpass combination.


This week, with Hamas death tunnels in the news in Gaza, a "tunnel of life" – national vibrancy, progress, and improved standard of living for Israel's citizenry – was completed: the northern tunnel under Mevaseret Zion. The tunnel will eliminate the steep climb from Jerusalem to the Kastel area, and will be an important element in significantly cutting down driving time between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.


Representatives of both the government and the Netivei Yisrael Company, which won the tender to construct this segment of the highway, cheered as the bulldozer poked through the top of the tunnel-in-progress and the first rays of sunlight shone through the crack.


Each of the two tunnels along this segment will be 800 meters long (approx. a half-mile), 15 meters wide, and 40 meters underground, with emergency passages between them. They will each have three traffic lanes, and state-of-the-art safety and traffic control systems.


The tunnels are being dug using a "drill and explode" technique, enabling progress of between four and six meters a day. Much of the 14,000 truckloads of earth and rock that will have been removed to make way for the tunnels will be used to fill in the nearby Arza Valley, which needs to be "raised" so that the new roadway across it will be level.



The Latest Threat from Hamas: Paragliding Terrorists

 By Israel Hayom


Operation Protective Edge has shown the Israel Defense Forces that the fighting capabilities of Hamas have grown more sophisticated, due largely to the network of terror tunnels it has constructed beneath Gaza leading into Israeli territory.


After Israeli forces captured and interrogated a Hamas terrorist who had been hiding in a tunnel for three weeks, he revealed that Hamas members had also undergone training to execute terrorist attacks from the air. The prisoner told security forces he had been sent to Malaysia to learn how to carry out an attack by paragliding.


The prisoner served as commander of a cell in Hamas' Nukhba ("Elite") commando force. He was arrested on July 20 and transferred to the Shin Bet security agency for questioning. He told agents that he had been waiting in the tunnel three weeks for his orders and received only occasional supplies of water and dates. After three weeks, he said, he broke and turned himself in.


Interrogators discovered that the unit the prisoner belonged to was planning to employ paragliding techniques to commit a terrorist attack in one of the Israeli communities bordering Gaza. According to the Shin Bet, the prisoner also provided information about instructions to carry out kidnappings that had been handed down to Hamas members when it appeared that the IDF was preparing to enter Gaza, and said that the group had set up anti-tank traps for the Israeli forces. The prisoner even pointed out a sniper's position on the 10th floor of the Red Crescent building in Khan Younis in the southern part of Gaza.


The terrorist commander said he had been recruited to Hamas in 2007 and joined the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, where he underwent a short course in how to use a Kalashnikov rifle, including weapons maintenance and shooting practice with live ammunition. The prisoner said he eventually became part of the Hamas guard force, doing one shift a week. He completed additional training courses, which included use of grenades.


In 2010, the prisoner was assigned to a special terrorist force that was sent to Malaysia to be trained in using paragliders to penetrate Israeli territory and attack civilians. He said that 10 other Hamas members were trained along with him in paragliding. "The details gained from the interrogation indicate that Hamas made a huge effort to strengthen itself and build itself up. As part of [these efforts,] it built and trained a commando fighting army," the Shin Bet said.


"Moreover, and in preparation for ground battles with Israel, Hamas constructed a network of tunnels to be used to attack IDF troops and even kidnap soldiers. Simultaneously, Hamas was working on unique, 'effective' terrorist attacks that would exact a heavy toll, like an attack in Israeli territory using paragliding. All this while receiving aid and training from other countries."



Jewish Groups React to Possible Jewish Defense League Ban

 By AFP and

French Jewish leaders have reacted to the possible ban of the Ligue de Defense Juive (LDJ), a militant Jewish group involved in recent clashes with pro-Palestinian activists during rallies against the Gaza offensive which turned violent.


The CRIF's head Roger Cukierman distanced his group from the LDJ as news of the possible ban emerged, saying: "We share neither their ideology nor their methods. It's a tiny organization comprising a few dozen members from what I know," he said, but expressed surprise that the government was not planning to ban "pro-Palestinian groups which have tried to vandalize eight synagogues in the Paris region."


The main Jewish students' union echoed that view. Its head Sacha Reingewirtz said: "I condemn all forms of extremism... but if the government disbands it (the LDJ), it should also ban all the radical groups behind recent anti-Semitic violence." 


Far-right leader Marine Le Pen meanwhile blasted the ruling Socialists for failing to stem "riots in the heart of Paris" after having banned demonstrations. "We must protect the right to demonstrate but from the moment that the state takes a decision to ban a rally they must provide the powers so that the ban is respected," said the head of National Front party. We ask policemen to confine troublemakers within a specific perimeter but... neither to arrest them nor to burn or break everything."


News of the mooted ban came as France's main Jewish group prepared to stage a pro-Israel gathering in Paris, in response to weeks of protests marred by clashes, arrests and anti-Semitism.


Synagogues and Jewish-owned shops have been attacked by Muslim and left-wing extremists in Paris, prompting bans on protests as authorities have struggled to get to grips with the anti-Semitic surge. In one particularly severe incident, a mob of Muslim rioters attempted to storm a synagogue in an attack likened to "Kristallnacht" by one French Jewish community leader. Witnesses said that the LDJ's Jewish youths mobilized to fight back after police took a long time to arrive.


Israeli Hasbara (Public Relations) Animation: Welcome to Gaza Heights



The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published a short animated video using cynical humor to drive home a point about Hamas and its method of conducting war. See


"Enjoy a short animated tour of Gaza Heights, the most tranquil neighborhood in the Strip," says the text under the video. "This video tour by Really Reality Realtors also provides an exclusive look behind the scenes of "Underground Gaza," a lively network of tunnels that even reach Israeli town centers.


"Warning: By law, Really Reality Realtors is required to inform you before you purchase a house that you will probably become a human shield, whether you want to or not. We have warned you: when Hamas puts lethal rockets in your home and then exploits the bodies of your children for propaganda purposes, don't blame us. Blame Hamas!"



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 Paradise Regained, Paradise Lost

By Don Canaan (Commentary)

This year marked the 29th anniversary of the return of the Sinai by Israel to Egypt--a day of mourning by many of the 2,000 settlers who settled and later were forcibly evacuated by Israeli authorities under the command of Ariel Sharon, from the seaside city of Yamit on the Mediterranean.

Yamit was former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan's dream--a projected seaport and city of 250,000 founded on the Sinai sand dunes overlooking date palm trees and the blue Mediterranean--a populated buffer between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on the other side of the Suez Canal.

Some alternate historians say Moses and the children of Israel passed near the site of Yamit 3,500 years ago as they wandered for 40 years through the Sinai Desert on their way to the proverbial land of milk and honey.

Since April 25, 1982 only the whine of the desert wind weaves its currents through the crevices of destroyed homes, businesses and monument--a memorial to the young men who died during the 1967 Six Day war.

Christians, Jews and Muslims died during three Arab-Israeli wars and battles that took place in the Sinai in 1956, 1967 and 1973--Egyptian and Israeli--young people who fought and died in that desolate, forsaken desert wasteland.

The modern-day chariot carrying Egyptian President Mohammed Anwar al-Sadat hugged the intermittently green coastline of Sinai on its historic mission to Jerusalem. Israelis glancing upward into the clear night sky saw merely a jet banking gently to the northwest.

Official Israeli government policy was that the settlers had to be removed and the army came and forcibly removed the remaining diehard residents. The Jerusalem Post described the scene: Apocalypse had arrived in Yamit and in the dust and noise and destruction one could wander freely. Dozens of bulldozers and giant mobile air hammers were loose in the city like a pack of predatory beasts."

April 25, 20011 marked the 29th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from Yamit and Sinai and a cold peace between long-term enemies.

That gift of peace silently glided overhead as the Sabbath disappeared and the stars appeared. At 8:01 p.m. Sadat's jetliner landed at Ben-Gurion Airport and the first minutes of a then potential peace came to the Middle East.

Old enemies became new friends. The crowds roared its approval when Sadat shook hands with Moshe Dayan. A person standing nearby, according to the Jerusalem Post, said Sadat told Dayan, "Don't worry Moshe, it will be all right."

The peace treaty between the two nations was signed on March 26, 1979 and on April 25, 1982; the events that had started on a November day at Camp David came to fruition. Sinai was returned to Egypt. Yamit was bulldozed to the ground. But Anwar Sadat did not live to see that day. He had been assassinated seven months before.



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