Hamas claims it knows nothing about a kidnapped soldier (Goldin is British-born)
I have open the Twitter feed of Gal Berger, Israel Radio's Arab affairs correspondent. The twitter page is in Hebrew (with some occasional Arabic). But the tweets indicate that one Hamas higher-up after another claims not to know anything about a kidnapped IDF soldier.
The most definitive tweet is this one.
בכיר חמאס, מוסא אבו מרזוק, מקהיר: גם אם יתברר שיש חטוף - המשא ומתן עליו יהיה נפרד, במנותק משיחות ההסדרה בקהיר להפסקת אש
— Gal Berger (@galberger) August 1, 2014
Translation: Moussa Abu Marzuk from Cairo: Even if it turns out that there is a hostage - the negotiations for him will be separate from the Cairo talks on a cease fire.
(Berger is also reporting that the 'Palestinians' will be in Cairo to negotiate tomorrow and the Israelis on Sunday).
Senate passes Republican-sponsored funding for Iron Dome
I actually had the pleasure of meeting Mitch McConnell in 1984, shortly before he went off to Washington as a US Senator. He was then the county executive in Louisville, we were closing a deal there, and we needed his signature. The local counsel in Louisville took me along to meet McConnell.
After Thursday nights disastrous rejection of Iron Dome funding in the Senate, McConnell has just pushed through a bill putting that funding in. I got this by email.
For Immediate Release, Friday, August 01, 2014
Senate Passes McConnell-Sponsored Funding for Israel’s Iron Dome Missile Defense System
passing this bipartisan measure, we send a message to Hamas that its
terrorist tactics and its attempts to terrorize Israel’s
populace will not succeed.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. –
Senate today passed legislation sponsored by U.S. Senate Republican
Leader Mitch McConnell that would allocate an additional $225 million
for production of Iron Dome missile defense
components so that Israel can maintain adequate stockpiles and defend
its population from missile attacks launched by the terrorist group
Iron Dome missile defense system has played a critical role in
defending Israel’s population from rocket attacks launched by Hamas from
within the Gaza Strip,” McConnell
said. “The Iron Dome system will remain essential to Israel’s security
until a cease fire is achieved, and it will remain vital afterwards as
well, because this defensive system helps blunt the impact of one of
Hamas’ preferred tools of terror.”
added: “By passing this bipartisan measure, we send a message to Hamas
that its terrorist tactics and its attempts to terrorize Israel’s
populace will not succeed.
And we can help Israel defend its civilian population against
indiscriminate attacks as it continues its campaign—Operation Protective
Edge—to destroy the often-Iranian-supplied weapons stockpiled within
McConnell introduced legislation to fund the request and called on Congress to approve the spending.
Late last year, Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language radio station interviewed Hadar, together with his twin brother, as they completed their officers course.
The brothers told of their religious-Zionist upbringing, and their family's long tradition of combat service in the IDF.
"We grew up on a love of the people and the land (of Israel)... our
two holocaust-survivor grandfathers took part in the War of
Independence, our father is a battalion commander in the reserves - it's
something from the home."
They added that they had been brought up on a "love of life... a lot
of love and particularly an education on how to make (the right)
Hadar and his brother grew up in a religious environment, attending yeshiva-high school in Ra'anana and volunteering as madrichim (leaders) at their local chapter of the Bnei Akiva religious-Zionist youth movement.
Until the army, the two were practically inseparable; both attended the prestigious Bnei David religious pre-military academy (mekhina) in the Samarian town of Eli, and studied the entire Talmudic tractate of Brakhot together.
"We studied together at mekhina in Eli, but in the army we separated, so we were happy to meet again in the officers training course."
"It's always good to have another person who makes you complete," he
added, saying the two were so close that "during the final exams of the
course we got to a point where we were studying together for an entire
day - we knew exactly what the other was thinking..."
If it looks like there's someone next to Hadar in the picture above... there is. It's not his twin brother. It's his fiancee. One of my children has the picture, which I will not post (the fiancee is entitled to a little privacy). But Hadar is engaged....
Report: IDF implemented Hannibal Protocol right after kidnapping
A report by Israel Radio's military correspondent Carmela Menashe reports that the IDF implemented the Hannibal Protocol after Hadar Goldin was kidnapped this morning. This is from the first link (the second link is a lengthy post of mine from 2011 that explains what the Hannibal Protocol is).
Israel Radio military correspondent Carmella Menashe reported that the
moment it was realized that Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin may have been
kidnapped that the IDF engaged in massive fire in the area where the
terrorists might be with Goldin.
Such a move would be consistent with what is known as the IDF "Hannibal
The following is a report back from 2011 with a link to the audio:
The IDF Hannibal Protocol - IDF Commander Briefing Troops
"The strategic weapon, the "Judgment Day Weapon" that Hamas wants to
acquire, is to capture a soldier.
But no soldier in Battalion 51 will be kidnapped at any price.
At any price. Under any condition.
Even if it means that he blows himself with his own grenade together with
those trying to capture him.
Also even if it means that now his unit has to fire a barrage at the car
that they are trying to take him away in.
There is no situation. No situation that they will have this weapon."
Golani Battalion 51 commander briefing his troops on the eve of their entry
into Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.
Video report broadcast on Israel Television Channel 2 News 16 October 2011
White House condemns Hamas for violating 'cease fire'
Incredibly, the White House has issued a statement condemning Hamas for this morning's violation of the 'cease fire.'
House on Friday condemned a reported Hamas attack on Israeli soldiers
in Gaza as a violation of the newly reached humanitarian ceasefire and
called for the release of an abducted Israeli soldier.
declared a ceasefire over on Friday hours after it began, saying Hamas
militants attacked Israeli soldiers looking for tunnels in Gaza and
abducted one of them.
"That would be a rather barbaric violation of the ceasefire agreement," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on CNN.
called on Hamas to release the Israeli soldier. He said U.S. Secretary
of State John Kerry had already spoken to Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu about the next steps in the Gaza crisis.
United States urged the international community to condemn the Hamas
ceasefire violation in the "strongest possible terms," Earnest said.
we would encourage those who have influence with Hamas to get them back
on to the terms of the ceasefire and to get them to abide by the
agreements that they struck just yesterday," he said.
appears to be an absolutely outrageous action by Hamas, using the cover
of a ceasefire to conduct a surprise attack through a tunnel, killing
Israeli soldiers and perhaps taking one hostage," Tony Blinken, White
House deputy national security adviser, said on MSNBC. "We strongly,
strongly condemn it."
Among the UN’s long bill of particulars against the beleaguered Jewish state comes the almost unbelievable accusation that Israel’s refusal to share its Iron Dome ballistic missile defense shield with the "governing authority" of Gaza – i.e. Hamas, the terror group created to pursue the extermination of the Jewish state and now waging a terrorist war against it – constitutes a war crime against the civilians of Gaza.
The UN chairwoman criticized the U.S. for helping fund Israel's Iron Dome system which has saved countless Israeli and Palestinian lives. "No such protection has been provided to Gazans against the shelling," she said.
Just because Hamas fires rockets indiscriminately aimed at Israeli civilian population centers without provocation and fires them from within its own population centers does not “absolve” Israel from its own legal violations, Pillay told reporters Thursday.
Had Navi Pillay and the 'human rights council' been around in 1945, she would have condemned the United States for not sharing the atomic bomb with Germany and Japan.
Kidnapped IDF soldier is 23-year old Hadar Goldin of Kfar Sava
The IDF soldier who was kidnapped during John Kerry and Ban Ki-Moon's 'cease fire' is Hadar Goldin of Kfar Sava. The family has asked that everyone please pray for Hadar ben Chedva Leah (הדר בן חדווה לאה).
The IDF released for publication the name of the soldier feared
abducted by terrorists in Gaza. The missing soldier has been named as
Second Lieutenant (Platoon Leader) Hadar Goldin, 23, from Kfar Saba.
Goldin serves in the Givati Brigade.
The IDF Spokesperson's office announced Friday that at about 9:30 am,
terrorists opened fire on Israeli forces in southern Gaza, triggering a
fierce exchange of fire, and preliminary information indicates that
there is a concern that a soldier was kidnapped during the fighting.
Two other soldiers were reportedly killed in the same gunfight.
An investigation is underway and at this time, the IDF maintains a
high-level operational and intelligence effort to locate the soldier.
"We are continuing our activities on the ground," IDF Spokesman Peter Lerner stated. "Our initial indications suggest a soldier has been abducted by terrorists in an incident where terrorists breached the ceasefire."
The soldier's family has been notified.
The 'cease fire' went into effect at 8:00 am this morning. One has to wonder why we ever agreed to it and why we would ever agree to another one.
At least one report, this time from Walla! News, says
that a suicide bomber detonated himself directly next to IDF forces
before the fighting began, wounding several soldiers.
Intense clashes ensued; according to Palestinian media sources,
thirty people were killed, at least eight terrorists among them -
though the number is likely to be higher, as Palestinian sources
regularly report terrorist deaths as civilians. Roughly 100 others were
wounded, according to reports.
A senior IDF commander stated on condition of anonymity that the condition of the missing soldier is unclear.
"We don't know whether he was wounded during the attack," he said.
Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad officials have been told by Egypt that talks for a long-term truce have been postponed.
And even the UN has all but admitted that the 'Palestinians' broke the cease fire.
"Two soldiers were reportedly killed, as well as a number of Palestinians," said a statement from the UN special coordinator for Middle East peace, Robert Serry.
"If corroborated, this would constitute a serious violation of the humanitarian ceasefire... by Gazan militant factions, which should be condemned in the strongest terms," the statement said.
To truly understand the current fighting in Gaza, it’s important to
listen to Jamal Zakout. Zakout, a secular resident of Ramallah, is no
fan of Hamas, as Amira Hass noted in her report in Haaretz last
week (Hebrew only): He has held various positions in the Palestinian
Authority, including spokesman for former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad,
took part in the Geneva Initiative (a nongovernmental effort to draft an
Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement), and opposed the “militarization”
of the second intifada. Nevertheless, Hass writes, the fighting is
bolstering Hamas’s status even among Palestinians like him, because
“when Hamas manages, despite everything, to continue launching missiles
at Israel and disrupting normal life there, Zakout says this restores
their feeling of human dignity.”
This, in a nutshell, is why the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains unsolvable, and why it produces
spasms of violence with monotonous regularity: For too many
Palestinians, including “moderates” like Zakout, “human dignity” derives
from hurting Israelis–even knowing full well that the resultant Israeli
counterstrikes will cause far greater harm to Palestinians.
This is something you would simply never hear an Israeli say, because
Israelis see human dignity as stemming from saving life, not taking it.
This doesn’t mean they oppose using military force in self-defense.
Indeed, they overwhelmingly support the current operation: After
absorbing 13,000 rockets from Gaza over the last nine years, they want
the rockets stopped; they want children in the south to be able to grow
up normally, instead having 45 percent suffer
from post-traumatic stress disorder due to constant rocket fire, and
they want people all over Israel to be able to lead their lives without
disruption. But they would never say that dropping bombs on Gaza
enhances their “human dignity”; they view war as an unpleasant necessity
which they would much rather not have to engage in.
This difference in Palestinian and Israeli attitudes is epitomized by
two technological developments that have become the darlings of their
respective peoples: the Iron Dome anti-missile system and the M-75
The M-75 is a technological marvel–a homemade medium-range rocket
capable of striking Tel Aviv, developed despite stringent Israeli import
restrictions aimed at preventing Hamas from doing just that. It’s a
purely offensive weapon with no defensive purpose, and Palestinians love
it. An enterprising Gaza merchant even named a perfume after it two
years ago, when it was first deployed, and Reuters reported that sales promptly soared.
Iron Dome is also a homegrown technological marvel. But it’s the
M-75’s mirror image: a purely defensive weapon with no offensive
purpose. And that’s precisely why Israelis love it: Its purpose is to
save lives rather than take them.
Read it all. It shows why for the foreseeable future there won't be peace. It's not just the fascist 'Palestinian' leadership that is only interested in offensive weapons (as Gordon goes on to show). It's the fact that developing an M-75 instead of an Iron Dome makes Hamas more popular.
Forget about Israeli interests. Forget about Arab interests. The
American interest is to endorse and solidify this emerging axis of
moderate pro-American partners (Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the
United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states, and the Palestinian
Authority) intent on seeing Islamist radicalism blunted and ultimately
Yet America’s secretary of state doesn’t see it. Speaking of Hamas-run Gaza, Kerry actually said in Paris:
“The Palestinians can’t have a cease-fire in which they think the
status quo is going to stay.” What must change? Gazans need “goods that
can come in and out . . . a life that is free from the current restraints.”
the only reason for those “restraints,” why goods are unable to go in
and out, is that for a decade Hamas has used this commerce to import and
develop weapons for making war on Israel.
complaints that the heartless Israelis were not allowing enough imports
of concrete for schools and hospitals? Well, now we know where the
concrete went — into an astonishingly vast array of tunnels
for infiltrating neighboring Israeli villages and killing civilians.
(More than half a million tons, estimates the Israeli military.)
the blockade would mean a flood of arms, rockets, missile parts and
other implements of terror for Hamas. What is an American secretary of
state doing asserting that Hamas cannot cease fire unless it gets that?
the fire from which Hamas will not cease consists of deliberate rocket
attacks on Israeli cities — by definition, a war crime.
his intent, Kerry legitimized Hamas’s war criminality. Which makes his
advocacy of Hamas’s terms not just a strategic blunder — enhancing a
U.S.-designated terrorist group just when a wall-to-wall Arab front
wants to see it gone — but a moral disgrace.
Uh oh.... IDF Spox confirms a soldier may have been kidnapped this morning - UPDATED
BREAKING: IDF spokesman confirms there is concern about kidnapping of an Israeli soldier during clashes in southern Gaza Strip this morning
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) August 1, 2014
We should all hope and pray this is not true. No further comment needed.
UPDATE 1:56 PM
It gets worse - note what's added in this tweet (Hebrew is a much more compact language than English).
דובר צה"ל מודיע: חשש לחטיפת חייל על ידי מחבלים בדרום רצועת עזה. הודעה נמסרה למשפחתו. צה"ל מקיים מאמץ מודיעיני ומבצעי נרחב לאיתור החייל
— Gili Cohen (@gilicohen10) August 1, 2014
Translation: IDF Spokesman announces: Suspicion of kidnapping a soldier by terrorists in the southern Gaza Strip. His family has been notified. The IDF is expending broad intelligence and combat efforts to find the soldier.
That sure didn't take long. The 'cease fire' came into effect at 8:00 this morning, and by 10:00 Israeli troops in Rafah were under attack.
Heavy fighting has now broken out between Israel and Hamas in
southern Gaza, according to Palestinian sources, who also claim that
eight terrorists have been killed since 10:00 am.
"Once again the terror organizations in Gaza flagrantly violating
the ceasefire to which they committed themselves, this time to the US
Secretary of State and the UN Secretary General," a statement from Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said, without pointing to a
A last-ditch effort to deliver aid to Israel during its war with Hamas
died on the Senate floor, as Republicans blocked the proposal over
concerns that it would increase the debt.
After Senate Republicans blocked Democrats’ $2.7
billion border aid package, which also included $225 million for
Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system and $615 million to fight
Western wildfires, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to split off
the Israel and wildfire money as a standalone bill, hoping to put aside
the dispute over border funding and appeal to Republicans’ deep ties to
“We’ve all watched as the tiny state of Israel, who is with us on
everything, they have had in the last three weeks 3,000 rockets filed
into their country,” Reid said. “Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asked
for $225 million in emergency funding so that Israel’s arsenal as it
relates to the Iron Dome could be replenished. It’s clear that is an
emergency, and we should be able to agree on that.”
It didn’t work.
Even though GOP leaders had vowed to pass an Israel aid bill in
recent days, Republicans rejected Reid’s request. First Senate Minority
Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) objected to Reid’s request for a straight
emergency cash infusion for firefighting and Israel. Then Sen. Tom
Coburn (R-Okla.) offered an alternative that would deliver money to
Israel and the West and offer commensurate spending cuts to
international organizations like the United Nations; Reid blocked that.
“Our number one ally — at least in my mind — is under attack. If this
isn’t an emergency I don’t know anything that is,” Reid said.
“I want to fund Israel,” replied Coburn. “I also want to make sure our children have a future.”
The stumble on delivering $225 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile
defense system, which is used to shoot down rockets aimed at Israel,
infuriated GOP hawks who’d been pushing Reid to break the Israel funding
from the border bill.
“It’s an important moment for the Senate and the House to show
support for Israel. All I can say that if you don’t see the need to come
to Israel’s aid now, and the message that it would send now, it would
be a big mistake,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “Any person who
thinks that the Iron Dome is unnecessary needs to go to the floor and
tell us why, why we don’t need to help Israel right now. They’re asking
for our help, they’re our best friend in the region, one of our best
friends in the world. “
I would have voted for Coburn's bill, but that actually could have drawn an Obama veto. And while Reid gets credit for trying to separate Israel, if you read between the lines of the article, he should have done so much sooner and was trying to use Israel to push the border bill through. But I'm disappointed with Cornyn....
Citing the 'current security situation in Tel Aviv,' the United States embassy has stopped issuing visas for Israelis who wish to travel to the United States.
Due to the current security situation in Tel Aviv, U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv
remains open but is operating at reduced staffing until further notice,
and has canceled routine visa application processing and American Citizen services.
Emergencies involving an American citizen and visa applications will be
considered on a case by case basis. If you had a scheduled visa
appointment, you will receive an email informing you of the appointment
cancellation, and another email with a new scheduled appointment. If
the appointment is not convenient for you, you may reschedule your
appointment through the scheduling system. You are not required to pay a
new fee. We will update the website and our facebook on any developments. To ask for an emergency appointment, pleaseemail NIVTelAviv@state.gov (for visas) or AMCTelAviv@state.gov
(for U.S. Citizens Services) and explain the nature of your emergency.
We will respond to your email quickly with additional instructions.
The Visa Section of the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv processes
applications for nonimmigrant visas only. Immigrant visas are processed
at the Consulate General in Jerusalem. Click on the links below or on
the left side of the page to learn more about the Visa Section.
A quick check reveals that there is no such “security situation” Important Notice for the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. There isn’t one in Baghdad, Iraq or in Cairo, Egypt, either. No visa problems at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, either. And Yemen is a go, as is Tunisia.
The only other U.S. Embassy in the entire Middle East, other than Israel, where visa services has been suspended is in Damascus, Syria. But that gives cold comfort, given the U.S. Embassy in Syria closed for all
purposes on February 6, 2012. Oh, and Iran – no visas being given out
there, either. There hasn’t been a U.S. Embassy in Iran since 1979.
Visa services are readily available at the U.S. Embassy in Karachi, Pakistan. There is no such “security situation,” Important Notice, like the one in Israel, for the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.
Never mind. This message simply states that the State
Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs is “currently experiencing
technical problems with our visa system. We are operating at a
significantly reduced capacity” because of the backlog. However, this
problem “is not specific to any particular country, citizenship document
or visa category.” And with that, the general information about
obtaining a visa through the U.S. Embassy in Kabul is provided.
Gee, do you think that this has something to do with the Obama administration's disdain for Israel?
The ceasefire will begin at 8 a.m. on Aug. 1, they said in a joint statement. The statement said "forces on the ground will remain in place" during the truce, implying that Israeli ground forces will not withdraw.
Hamas said it would abide by a three-day mutual cease-fire with Israel to begin early on Friday.
"Acknowledging a call by the United Nations and in consideration of the situation of our people, resistance factions agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian and mutual calm that begins at 8 a.m on Friday as long as the other side abides by it," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
"All the Palestinian factions are united behind the issue in this regard," Abu Zuhri said.
UN Middle East envoy Robert Serry has received assurances that all parties have agreed to the humanitarian cease-fire, the statement put out by the US and UN said.
"We urge all parties to act with restraint until this humanitarian ceasefire begins, and to fully abide by their commitments during the cease-fire," Kerry and Ban said. "This cease-fire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence."
Israeli and Palestinian delegations will immediately travel to Cairo for negotiations with the Egyptian government to reach a durable cease-fire, the statement said.
The rocket fire continued right up to this morning's deadline. This is from the third link.
Hamas fired a salvo of rockets at the south just before 7:00 am
Friday; two rockets hit open areas in S'dot HaNegev and in the Merhavim
area. There are no injuries or damage.
Later, additional rockets were fired at Ashkelon and Ashdod, just
after 7:30 am. Two rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile
defense system over Ashdod; there are no reports of injuries or damage.
Yet another salvo was fired, just five minutes before 8:00 am, at Gaza Belt communities.
The barrages were fired just minutes before a 72-hour ceasefire was
to take effect, in a UN and US-brokered deal slated to begin 8:00 am
In the meantime, Jerusalem police are preparing for riots in the 'eastern' part of the city. What could go wrong?
The United States said Thursday there was little doubt Israeli
artillery was the source of a "totally indefensible" strike that killed
16 people at a UN school in Gaza.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest noted that UN Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon had said all available evidence pointed to Israeli artillery
and that the Israeli government had acknowledged its forces were firing
in the area in response to Hamas fire near the school.
“So while we underscore the importance of a full and prompt
investigation of this tragic incident, as well as a shelling of other UN
facilities and schools that have been hit, it does not appear there's a
lot of doubt about whose artillery was involved in this incident," he
"That is why we have continued to urge Israeli military officials to
live up to their high standards that they have set for the protection of
innocent civilians. There is clearly more that can and should be done
to ensure the safety of innocent civilians."
How many innocent Pakistanis have been killed in Obama's drone strikes this year?
Someone sent me the following quote - allegedly from US News.com - but I could not find it there:
Dresden, Berlin, 21000 German civilians killed in retaliation for failed
V2 missile attempts on London, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Sarajevo
recently, all were unfortunate but none were disproportionate. As both
Churchill and Truman remarked, they saved their soldiers lives, and they
slept like babies without any regret. The most significnant harm being
done to the citizens of Gaza is western media telling them that Gaza is
some sort of exception to western rules of law, and if one shoots 3000
missiles at a major nation state they will not retaliate with force
designed to end the threat. They are good people, as were the German and
Japanese citizens, and deserve to know this sort of military response
will rain down upon them if they continue to "look the other way" while
150 miles of military tunnels are excavated under their homes. Only 4%
of Germans were members of the Nazi party, less than 10% of Germany was
left standing in 1945. (usnews.com)
It's a good quote - I wish I knew who wrote it. But while I was searching for it, I found this piece by Louis Rene Beres which is simply excellent.
From the standpoint of pertinent international law, these criticisms
are sorely mistaken. The legal standard of proportionality in the law of
armed conflict has nothing to do with equal levels of suffering. If it
did, virtually all major allied military operations during World War II
would have been flagrantly "disproportionate."
Properly legal determinations of proportionality can never be made in
an historical or geopolitical vacuum. Instead, they must always take
into account the decipherable extent to which an adversary (especially a
terrorist adversary, whose every action is illegal by definition) has
committed prior or ongoing violations of the law of war.
In the case of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and also “moderate” Fatah, there
is incontestable evidence that these terrorists are systematically
guilty of perfidy, a specific and egregious violation of the law of war
involving, in this particular case, deceptions that knowingly endanger
noncombatant populations. Once again, with very little objection from
the "international community," Palestinian "freedom fighters" have been
firing intentionally at vulnerable Israeli civilians from Gaza schools
and hospitals. As for heroic
Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, he prefers conspicuous safety in Qatar, to
shahid, or martyr. Palestinian martyrdom is reserved by Hamas for Gaza's
endlessly manipulated and impoverished masses, those who are most
plainly unable to migrate to the more pleasingly wealthy Arab oil
Deception can be acceptable in armed conflict, but portions of the law
of war, specifically the Hague Conventions, still disallow placement of
civilians among military assets or personnel. Further prohibition of
perfidy can be found in the protocols added to the Geneva Conventions in
1977. These incontrovertible rules are also binding on the basis of
customary international law, which is included in the
authoritative inventory of legal sources defined at Article 38 of the
Statute of the International Court of Justice.
Perfidy is identified as a “grave breach” of the law of war at Article
147 of Geneva Convention No. IV. The effect of perfidy committed by all
Palestinian terrorists in Gaza – especially their widespread resort to
human shields – is to immunize Israel from legal responsibility for any
counter-terrorist harms done to Arab civilians. Even if Hamas and
Islamic Jihad and Fatah did not deliberately engage in perfidy, any
terrorist-created link between civilians and insurgent warfare would
still grant Israel full justification for defensive military actions.
Israel should not be granted a free hand in its applications of armed
force any more than any state should. But the reasonableness of these
particular applications should always be evaluated against the specific
background of unreconstructed Palestinian perfidy.
Viewed against the landscape of extensive and unapologetic terrorist
crimes in Gaza, Israel is not guilty of “disproportionality.”
Ministers blast Netanyahu over Operation Protective Edge goals
At Thursday's cabinet meeting, ministers Gideon Saar and Sylvan Shalom blasted Prime Minister Netanyahu for not making Hamas' overthrow the goal of Operation Protective Edge.
According to a source that participated in the meeting, Interior
Minister Sa’ar told Netanyahu that, from the outset, the goal of the
operation should have been to topple Hamas’ reign in Gaza.
wasn’t one of those (ministers) to go out in public, in front of the
media, and say we need to topple the Hamas regime, but today I am saying
it here that that should have been the operation’s objective,” the
source quoted Sa’ar as saying.
The source who attended the meeting
also said Sa’ar quoted extracts of the Winograd Commission report,
which investigated the failures of the Second Lebanon War, focusing on
criticism leveled by the commission on the leaders' foot-dragging and
the decisions that were made on a diplomatic level.
“I recommend you read the Winograd report,” Sa’ar told Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, according to the source.
asked to respond to the source’s claims, Sa’ar told Haaretz, “I am
legally obliged to avoid responding to things that were said in the
cabinet meeting even if those quotes are incorrect.”
also said that Energy and Water Resources Minister Silvan Shalom
criticized the conduct of the operation, too, stating that in his
opinion toppling Hamas should have been the goal of the operation.
However, he emphasized in his closing comments that he supports the
Netanyahu, for his part, turned to the ministers
and said he expects them not to criticize him publically while the
country is at war. The prime minister emphasized that there is no
problem with voicing criticism, so long as it is done around the table
at cabinet meetings.
I don't hear any public criticism of Netanyahu here, except from the anonymous minister who spilled the beans of what was said in the cabinet meeting to Barak Ravid.
But the criticism is in place. Leaving Hamas to fight another day - as appears likely - was the wrong thing to do.
New details have emerged about the booby-trapped clinic explosion that killed three IDF Maglan unit soldiers in Gaza earlier this week - Sergeant
First Class Matan Gottlieb, 21, from Rishon LeZion; Sergeant First
Class Omar Chai, 21, from Savion; and Sergeant First Class Guy Algranati, 20, of Tel Aviv, hy"d.
Over eighty kilograms of explosives were built into the UN-funded
hospital's walls themselves, it was cleared for publication Thursday -
revealing that the clinic itself was built to mask, and perform,
potential acts of terror on the IDF.
Moreover, the clinic was built over tens of terror tunnels, according to the report.
Joe Scarborough unleashed on Israel on Thursday morning's show.
Let's go to the videotape.
What does Joe suggest that Israel do? Let Gaza continue to shoot rockets at Israel's citizens and hope none of them hit? Shut down its economy?
Hamas seeks civilian casualties and purposely place people in harm's way. They use schools for weapons storage and position terrorists outside them to use the people inside them as human shields.
It's not Israel that's the problem - it's Hamas. Why doesn't he blame Hamas? Even assuming that what would replace Hamas would be 'worse,' does that mean that we should let Hamas keep trying to kill us? And by the way, Hamas is a radical Islamist group.
And PS - all those casualty counts come from Hamas' 'ministry of health' and are completely unreliable.
Turkey and Qatar share Hamas’ goal of having it gain—meaning that the
fighting ends, the siege of Gaza is lifted and no safeguards are
adopted on materials going into the Strip that would inhibit Hamas’
ability to reconstitute its military infrastructure of rockets and
tunnels. It is not just Israel that cannot accept that outcome. Neither
can the Egyptians, Saudis or their regional allies. And, truth be told,
it is still Egypt that matters. Egypt controls the crossing point at
Rafah, the southern entrance to Gaza, and it is closed. Today,
ironically, the only crossing points into Gaza that function at all are
the Israeli ones. So when this conflict ends, Egypt can have a huge
impact on what and who can move in and out of Gaza.
That gives Egypt leverage. Its relationship with Israel
matters, and Israeli confidence that Egypt shares its interest in not
allowing Hamas to reconstitute its military capabilities means that
Egypt can influence Israel’s position. Ultimately, Egypt can also
influence Hamas because, at a minimum, Hamas needs Rafah to be open at
the end of the conflict—even if Egypt, as is likely, will insist that
the Palestinian Authority is positioned in the Rafah crossing point. To
be sure, it is possible that to end the conflict, Egypt may also
acquiesce in allowing Qatar to pay the Hamas salaries and to allow that
money to pass through Rafah. But Egypt’s approach toward Hamas, which it
sees as contributing to the threats it faces in Sinai, is to keep it
contained and, the Egyptians will have that as a goal in any cease-fire
The point is that the conflict is going to end. It
can end through a negotiated outcome in which we focus on Egypt and not
Turkey or Qatar. Or it will end when Israel has destroyed the tunnels
and Hamas sees that its arsenal of rockets is running too low and that
the price within Gaza has become too high. Kerry, to his credit,
envisioned the cease-fire he was trying to arrange as one in which
fighting would stop but Israel could finish destroying the tunnels. It
has not worked yet, but if the United States works exclusively through
the Egyptians, it may yet happen.
There is a larger point for the Obama administration to
consider, too. It needs to read the new strategic landscape in the
region and act accordingly. That landscape should shape our calculus as
we approach the larger questions of Israeli-Palestinian peace, Syria,
Iraq and Iran. In its remaining two and half years, the administration
needs to approach the Middle East with a broader goal and judge how its
day-to-day policies support or detract from that goal: How can it ensure
that U.S. friends in the region are stronger in January 2017, and their
adversaries (and ours) are weaker? Ultimately, President Obama and
Secretary Kerry would be wise to approach the current conflict, and its
end, with that objective in mind.
The New York Times reports that there is much less pressure on Israel to stop Operation Protective Edge than there was to stop, for example, Operation Cast Lead. One reason for that is that the Arab countries, led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, loath Hamas more than they do Israel (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
Egypt is traditionally the key go-between in any talks with Hamas —
deemed a terrorist group by the United States and Israel — the
government in Cairo this time surprised Hamas by publicly proposing a
cease-fire agreement that met most of Israel’s demands and none from the
Palestinian group. Hamas was tarred as intransigent when it immediately
rejected it, and Cairo has continued to insist that its proposal
remains the starting point for any further discussions.
as commentators sympathetic to the Palestinians slammed the proposal as
a ruse to embarrass Hamas, Egypt’s Arab allies praised it. King
Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt
the next day to commend it, Mr. Sisi’s office said, in a statement that
cast no blame on Israel but referred only to “the bloodshed of innocent
civilians who are paying the price for a military confrontation for
which they are not responsible.”
is clearly a convergence of interests of these various regimes with
Israel,” said Khaled Elgindy, a former adviser to Palestinian
negotiators who is now a fellow at the Brookings Institution in
Washington. In the battle with Hamas, Mr. Elgindy said, the Egyptian
fight against the forces of political Islam and the Israeli struggle
against Palestinian militants were nearly identical. “Whose proxy war is
it?” he asked.
dynamic has inverted all expectations of the Arab Spring uprisings. As
recently as 18 months ago, most analysts in Israel, Washington and the
Palestinian territories expected the popular uprisings to make the Arab
governments more responsive to their citizens, and therefore more
sympathetic to the Palestinians and more hostile to Israel.
instead of becoming more isolated, Israel’s government has emerged for
the moment as an unexpected beneficiary of the ensuing tumult, now
tacitly supported by the leaders of the resurgent conservative order as
an ally in their common fight against political Islam.
All of this would make it a pity if Israel were to pass up the opportunity to destroy Hamas, as the Obama-Kerry junta has been demanding. We never know when or if we might have another opportunity.
The timing of those specific items of "humanitarian aid" is
particularly suspicious; Gaza's civilian population are hardly appealing
for fresh supplies of ball-bearings, and rebuilding targets struck by
the Israeli Air Force while it is still operating over Gaza's skies
seems a rather unfruitful endeavor.
The suspicious cargo had been handed over to security services for
inspection. Authorities are currently withholding the problematic cargo,
fearing it could be easily used by Hamas authorities to help replenish
dwindling rocket supplies and rebuild the network of "terror tunnels"
which has largely been destroyed by Israeli forces.
For their part, the owners of the seized container claim that
the mixers were not specifically meant for making cement, but for
other, unspecified, uses. They added that the ball-bearings were meant
for use in the mixers.
This isn't the first time the Turks have done this sort of thing.
Last December the Turkish foreign ministry admitted its government had given 47 tons of arms to Islamist rebels in Syria, even as it attempted to pass them off as "non-lethal" cargo.
Amusingly, the weaponry in question had been filed as "guns without military uses" - despite being shipped into a country gripped by a bloody civil war.
Waiting for Erdogan to start whining in 4... 3... 2... 1...
The first interview was on al-Jazeera and it was with Chris Gunness, UNRWA's spokesman in Gaza, who broke down crying while discussing the humanitarian situation and the deaths of children in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.
In the meantime, another UN official, John Ging, the former director of UNRWA, and now the director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations told Radio Canada that yes, Hamas shoots rockets into Israel from residential areas and from near UNRWA facilities.
Let's go to the videotape.
Professor Jacobson has more on Ging and the significance of his statement here.
Amid mounting diplomatic pressure on Israel to agree to a ceasefire, the
security cabinet on Wednesday instructed the IDF to continue to
“forcefully hit Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza,”
and to conclude its mission to destroy the tunnels leading from the
Strip into Israel, diplomatic sources said.
The army’s actions in locating and destroying these terror tunnels have
brought about significant strategic achievements in an area in which
Hamas has invested much effort over the years, the sources said.
On Wednesday afternoon, the IDF’s Southern
Command chief, Sami Turgeman, said “many hundreds” of Hamas operatives
had been killed, and that the IDF had destroyed hundreds of weapons
storage facilities, and significantly compromised Hamas’s terror
He said the IDF was “days away” from
completing the military goal of destroying all of the tunnels, though
the process is complex. Four tunnels have been destroyed in the past 24
hours, he added.
Turgeman said the IDF expanded its operation Tuesday night, targeting new sites in the north and center of the coastal enclave.
With the amount of concrete Hamas poured into
the tunnel project, two hospitals, twenty schools, twenty healthcare
centers, and 100 kindergartens could have been built, he said.
And from the second link.
The IDF called up 16,000 reserves on Wednesday night, and the soldiers have been deployed to positions on Thursday. A total of 86,000 reservists have been called up since the start of the war.
The IDF is examining a number of peers found in Gaza to see if they are connected to new tunnels, or to underground passages that the army already knows about.
The IDF destroyed several tunnels in the past 24 hours, a senior IDF source said Thursday morning.
The air force is continuing to strike Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets, based on newly arrived intelligence, some of which comes from ground forces inside Gaza. It destroyed 110 targets in the past 24 hours, the army source said, and 4,200 targets since the start of hostilities.
On Wednesday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon spoke by phone with his American counterpart Chuck Hagel, who called for a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza that would lead to a permanent end in fighting along with the disarmament of Hamas.
Hagel's call came amid US concern over the rising number of deaths on both sides of the conflict, said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
What no one outside of Israel seems to get is that the only way to successfully disarm Hamas is by force. The leadership is all in hiding, and has no motivation to give up. They have left the foot soldiers with no choice but to fight to the finish. They could care less about the civilians. The only way the IDF won't have to go back in the next 12-18 months is to finish the job now.
In the meantime, Hagel's relatively light treatment of Israel (as compared with Kerry and Obama) is a bit surprising. I vehemently opposed his nomination to be Secretary of Defense as did many others in the pro-Israel community. Seeing this was a bit of a surprise.
Separately, the Pentagon said it had allowed Israel to stock up on grenades and mortar rounds from a US munitions store located in Israel as part of bilateral emergency preparedness arrangement.
I think the answer is that for the very reason I and many others opposed his nomination - his closeness to the Arab world - Hagel gets the Muslim Brotherhood better than either Obama or Kerry. Obama and Kerry are enamored with the Brotherhood and with Iran. Hagel is a military man and understands the dangers in having the Brotherhood take over all the Sunni countries and Iran dominate the Shiites. Hagel gets what Obama and Kerry don't - that the next war with Hamas would cost even more civilian deaths, and given how far we'd gone, it would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to finish the job.
First-person footage from the field of IDF special forces storming a
terrorist building in Shuja'iya. They seize a stockpile of weapons and
uncover a tunnel opening.
Let's go to the videotape.
For those who have forgotten, it's a war crime to use a home, or any building that's in civilian areas, for the storage of weapons or as a military installation. But Hamas does that all the time. They are looking to cause civilian casualties.
Hamas founder's son in video interview: 'The only way to save Gazans is to destroy Hamas'
It's been a long time since Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of Hamas founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, converted to Christianity and turned against the terror organization his father founded. But Mosab still probably knows Hamas better than anyone, and he has some advice for the IDF: The only way to save Gazan lives is to destroy Hamas.
Let's go to the videotape.
Here's another interview with Mosab. Let's go to the videotape.
Video: Colonel Richard Kemp on Operation Protective Edge
Richard Justin Kemp CBE (born 14 April 1959) is a retired British Army
officer who served from 1977 to 2006. He was Commander of British Forces
in Afghanistan, and experienced the complexity of fighting militants
embedded within a civilian population.
Kemp was interviewed by
Israeli Channel 1 regarding his position on the legality and morality of
Israel's actions in operation Protective Edge.
British MPs, British citizens and indeed citizens of the free world at large may want to listen in.
Video: IDF destroys terror tunnel under 'holy mosque'
We keep hearing from Muslims how 'holy' their mosques are. But would you use something holy for a profane purpose like weapons storage and terrorist transport?
On July 30, a joint IDF task force uncovered a tunnel entrance on the
ground floor of a mosque that had been used by Hamas terrorists to
attack Israeli soldiers. The extent of the tunnel is revealed by amazing
aerial footage of its demolition. But first, a guided tour....
Let's go to the videotape.
Unfortunately, it seems that the explosion itself was omitted.
The Obama administration has condemned the shelling of an UNRWA school in Gaza on Wednesday morning. While the administration 'took pains' not to name the party responsible, the United Nations is blaming Israel.
While Obama and other top officials consistently state their support for
Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas rocket fire, the White
House has been making increasingly strong statements about the
Palestinian civilians dying in Israeli attacks. Officials have also
directly called on Israel to do more to prevent the casualties.
More than 1,300 Palestinians have been killed in three weeks of
fighting, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. More than 50
Israelis have also died in the clashes.
The White House escalated its rhetoric yet again on Wednesday by
condemning the shelling of the UN school that was sheltering displaced
Palestinians. While the administration did not publicly assign blame for
the attack, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said "all available
evidence" pointed to Israel and the Israeli military acknowledged that
it fired back after its soldiers were targeted by mortar rounds launched
from the vicinity of the school.
"We are extremely concerned that thousands of internally displaced
Palestinians who have been called on by the Israeli military to evacuate
their homes are not safe in UN designated shelters in Gaza," said
Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the White House's National Security
Council. She also condemned "those responsible for hiding weapons in
the United Nations facilities in Gaza" — a nod to Israel's charge that
Hamas is housing arms in those facilities.
Someone please remind me: Does the Obama administration drop leaflets telling civilians in Pakistan to flee before it sends drones to take out terror leaders? Does the Obama administration make phone calls and send SMS's to civilians in Afghanistan before it targets Taliban leaders in their vicinity? Maybe that's why the United States has never had to worry about 'internally displaced' civilians trying to escape its war machine....
And by the way, what's the United States' ratio of civilians to terrorists killed in Muslim countries where the use of human shields is common? How many civilians has the United States killed in Peshawar this year? Sounds to me like the pot is calling the kettle black, when the kettle is actually much cleaner.
Then we get a little media bias from al-AP:
But those talks collapsed earlier this year amid U.S. frustration with
both sides of the intractable conflict. The current bout of violence
quickly followed, sparked by the deaths of three Israeli teenagers in
the West Bank.
Wouldn't a fair journalist give us some context by telling us that those three teenagers were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists while they were on their way home from high school? No, they weren't in a car accident and they didn't fall off a cliff, but... Oh... wait... the media has decided that the two or three Hamas members who were supported by Hamas were acting on their own when they kidnapped they kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers. You know, like when you set up a twitter account and say that re-tweet does not equal approval. Doing what Hamas has been encouraging and being a member of Hamas doesn't make the kidnapping a Hamas operation. Right....
Just remember - this is a democracy and 91% of Jewish Israelis support this operation. Most of them don't want it to end without Hamas meeting its end.
3 IDF soldiers killed in booby-trapped terror tunnel beneath...what else?... an UNRWA clinic
Three IDF soldiers were killed today while trying to secure a terror tunnel whose entrance was beneath an UNRWA clinic. The tunnel was booby-trapped.
Three IDF soldiers were killed on Wednesday in Gaza in an explosion at a
booby-trapped UNRWA health clinic that housed the opening of a tunnel,
the IDF’s Gaza Division commander, Brig. Gen. Micky Edelstein, said.
The clinic had apparently been abandoned by its UN personnel. UNRWA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The army named the soldiers as Staff Sgt.
Matan Gotlib, 21, of Rishon Lezion, Staff Sgt. Omer Chai, 21, of Savion,
and Sgt. Guy Algranati, 20, of Tel Aviv.
The three soldiers, members of the elite
Maglan unit, were taking precautionary measures in efforts to limit
damage to the structure before eliminating the tunnel, when the
explosives detonated in the small building.
The soldiers had sent in sniffing dogs and a
small robot to minimize damage to the structure, located in Khan Yunis,
but explosives rigged to the building detonated, toppling part of the
building on top of the soldiers.
Fifteen soldiers were injured. IDF soldiers
evacuating the wounded came under fire from Palestinian fighters. All of
the fatalities and injured were eventually brought back to Israeli
The deaths brought the toll of IDF soldiers killed since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge to 56.
By allowing its building to be booby-trapped, UNRWA was just following the local custom.
[Edelstein] said Hamas gunmen have used more than a thousand IEDs so far, destroying thousands of buildings in the Gaza Strip.
As an example he noted that in sweeps of a single street of 28 buildings Tuesday night, 19 were found to be booby-trapped.
But the world just doesn't get it. They cannot believe anyone would treat their own people as expendable. But Hamas does. And so does Assad. And so does Nasrallah. And so it goes throughout the Arab-Muslim world. Wake up to reality people! Do we need another 9-11 for you to start getting it?
Poll: 91% of Jewish Israelis support Operation Protective Edge
I didn't think 91% of Jewish Israelis could agree on anything, but 91% of Jewish Israelis support Operation Protective Edge. The vast majority of them don't want it to end yet either.
Ninety-one percent (91%) of Israeli Jews support Israel's
self-defense campaign against terrorism in Gaza, Operation Protective
Edge, according to a survey published Monday - and just 4.2% believe the
operation is a "mistake."
Over 1,000 people were polled by Dr. Yuval Feinstein, a Sociology and
Political Science researcher at University of Haifa, on their opinions
regarding the operation and other current events. All participants were
Israeli, Jewish, and over 18.
The survey also revealed that 85% of respondents would only support a
cease-fire agreement if Israel eliminated every Hamas rocket and
destroyed the full network of terror tunnels before agreeing to do so.
Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Israeli Jews polled "very strongly
support" Operation Protective Edge's airstrikes on Gaza; 17% "support"
the airstrikes; and 4.5% had "weak support" for the airstrikes. Just
1.5% of respondents opposed the airstrikes on Gaza.
Similarly, 50% "strongly support" the IDF's ground offensive in Gaza;
28% "support" the ground campaign and 14% have "weak support" for the
campaign. By contrast, only 9% of respondents oppose sending ground
troops into Gaza.
Eighty-two percent (82%) of respondents "strongly disagree" with the
statement "Israel launching Operation Protective Edge was a mistake";
11% only "slightly disagree." Just 7% of respondents "agree" or
"strongly agree" with that statement.
As to the operation's success, 74% of respondents overall believe the
IDF is "achieving its goals" in Gaza; of those, 23% "very strongly
agree" and 51% "strongly agree." Just 22.5% of respondents were neutral
on the issue and only 3% believe the operation is failing.
Ninety-five percent (95%) of respondents said the operation has "made
them proud of the IDF, the State of Israel, and the Jewish people," and
only 2% disagreed with that statement.
But alas, many Israelis are still hopelessly naive.
Despite all of the above, the majority of respondents still insist that
Israel must implement a "Two-State Solution" for peace - some 42%. Just
20% of respondents preferred the crowning of Jordan as a Palestinian
state and only 10% agreed to any form of annexation for Judea-Samaria
MK: 'Obama talked to Netanyahu like he was the leader of the Taliban;' Reporter insists transcript authentic
MK Danny Danon, whom Prime Minister Netanyahu fired as Deputy Defense Minister two weeks ago, has told Newsmax TV that President Obama talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday 'like he was the leader of the Taliban.'
Oren Nahari explained tonight on Israel Television Mabat News that the American source of the Netanyahu-Obama conversation he reported last night was the source of the warning that President Obama would act if 1,000 die in Gaza.
Nahari insists that the report of the Netanyahu-Obama conversation is correct.
Here's the radio report from July 19 claiming that Obama would insist on an immediate cease fire if casualties in Gaza reached 1,000. A transcript in English follows. The report is seemingly correct. Nahari was the reporter who made the report.
Let's go to the videotape.
"A senior source in the American Administration says that if the number of dead among the Palestinians in Gaza reaches 1,000 President Obama will demand that Israel immediately ceases fire- in a conversation with our correspondent Oren Nahari." Israel Radio News bulletin 14:00 19 July 2014
Prime Minister Netanyahu vetoed targeted attacks on Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmud a-Zahar according to a report in Yisrael Hayom.
According to the newspaper, Lapid said that the IDF should “take down
the heads of Hamas,” including Hamas-Gaza chief Ismail Haniyeh and the
head of the organization's political bureau, Khaled Meshaal.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Chairman of Yisrael Beytenu) and
Economics Minister Naftali Bennett (Chairman of Jewish Home) supported
The prime minister opposed it.
It was decided instead to bomb the homes of the Hamas leaders even though it is known that they are not residing in them.
Diplomatic sources explained that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
wants to behave in a more “measured” way, “in order to give Israel
international maneuvering room.”
Netanyahu ordered the elimination of Meshaal by poison in Jordan in
September, 1997, but the assassination bid failed. Jordanian security
forces arrested two of the Israeli agents involved and the Mossad team
found itself trapped in Amman. Israel ended up supplying an antidote to
the poison that was killing Meshaal and freeing 70 jailed terrorists,
including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas.
I think Netanyahu is spooked because of the Meshaal thing seventeen years ago. IDF helicopters eventually took care of Yassin.
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-two years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 10 to 30 years and six grandchildren. Our eldest daughter and eldest son are married! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com