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Entries in Israeli Defense Forces (5)


UPDATED: Gaza Flotilla Attack: Israel Line "We Are Sorry but It Was a Life-Threatening Situation!"


Today, Israel's Opposition leader Tzipi Livni was giving an interview to ABC Australia. She said: These soldiers are our children. Since they were under attack by these activists, they needed to react in order to defend themselves."


Israeli Defense Forces and politicians said that they warned the ships of the Freedom Flotilla to follow the Israeli navy until the Ashdod port. The response they got was: "Negative, our destination is Gaza".


Then Israeli officials produced helicopter videos allegedly showing civilians using metal objects against and throwing firebombs and stun grenades to Israeli commandos. Israel Defense Forces said its rules of engagement allowed troops to open fire in what it called a "life-threatening situation". The IDF also confirmed that at least eight navy commandos had been wounded, at least two of them seriously.


Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said: "The organisers' intent was violent, method was violent and the results were unfortunately violent. Israel regrets any loss of life and did everything to avoid this outcome."


Gaza Latest: Israel Prepares Confrontation with "Freedom Flotilla"

On Saturday, seven ships from a "Freedom Flotilla", bringing aid, will try and reach Gaza. It will be met by at least 12 Israeli naval boats, helicopters, and a "counter-flotilla".

On Friday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman denounced the flotilla:
The aid convoy is violent propaganda against Israel, and Israel will not allow its sovereignty to be threatened in any way, in any place - land, air or sea.

There is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Despite Hamas' war crimes against Israeli citizens and the thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns, Israel continues to respond in the most humane way possible.

Israel: “The Ideal State: A Dream-Country Without Criticism” (Levy)

Israeli gunships were ordered to take position to stop the convoy, and West Jerusalem made clear that it would overtake the ships as soon as they enter a 20-mile Israeli-controlled zone off Gaza. If the ships do not stop, Israel will attempt to connect the flotilla to naval boats and tow them to the Israeli port of Ashdod where the Israelis have prepared a detention centre. Those who do not want to take a flight back home will be taken to jail.

On Friday, Greta Berlin, one of the organizers of the effort, said a total of seven ships were headed to Gaza after an eighth vessel suffered a malfunction and had to turn back. Halting during darkness, they are expected to reach Israeli waters on Saturday.

The Israel Defense Forces responded that they will not hesitate to use limited force. The Turkish daily Hurriyet reports that the IDF will use a special technology to blackout media coverage in case of an operation.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Ministry Director General Yossi Gal held a round of explanatory calls with foreign ministers from countries whose citizens are participating in the flotilla. The Israeli message is that the activists are welcome to bring the humanitarian aid to the port of Ashdod, where it will be examined and, if found suitable, will be permitted to enter the Gaza Strip through land crossings. If the activists try to break the siege, they will be arrested.

The spokesman of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, Umit Sonmez, said that the organisation does not trust Israeli officials who took the members of an earlier convoy into custody for 21 days for no reason. The HRF had written to Israeli officials regarding the planned journey to Gaza but had not received any reply.

Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, writing in Haaretzassess:
The flotilla is not expected to alter in any substantial way the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. It is mostly a battle of public relations that is meant to strike a blow at Israel. Perhaps if Israel was less eager to confront the activists, some of the media attention would have dissipated. Had the flotilla been allowed in, Hamas would have its day, and the entire affair would evaporate quickly.

Haaretz's editors urged the Israeli Government to resume indirect talks with Hamas, to be more flexible about releasing prisoners and to lift the siege on Gaza. They argue  that blockade, siege, and military operations, with the hope that Gazans would topple Hamas, has failed: "The suffering that Israel is causing 1.5 million people for this purpose is not only inhuman, but extremely detrimental to Israel's status around the world".

The editors warn, "Even if Israel manages to prevent the flotilla from reaching Gaza, it will still have to contend with other demonstrations of support."

Middle East Inside Line: Israeli Military Drills & Gestures, Palestinian Boycott of Goods, Syria's Assad v. US Congress

Israel's "Turning Point 4" Military Operation: The Israeli Defense Forces have released a video about their drill, allegedly designed as preparation against Hezbollah in Lebanon.


Middle East/Iran Analysis: How the US Has Lost (Narwani)
Middle East Inside Line: Israel’s Settlements; Syria’s Defiance

Israel's "Goodwill Measures": The Jewish Telegraphic Agency gave more details on the Israeli gestures towards Palestine that we noted on Sunday. The measures include allowing Israeli tour guides to enter the Palestinian city of Bethlehem and allowing tourists to enter the city via all crossings; removing 60 roadblocks throughout the West Bank; easing restrictions on senior Palestinian businessmen going through security checkpoints; and permitting Israeli-Arab civilians to travel through all security crossings located on the West Bank security fence.

Palestinian Authority's Boycott of Israeli Goods: With proximity talks, discussion has arisen over the Palestinian boycott of Israeli goods produced in the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Jeff Barak, a former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post, said that "Palestinians' boycott is a political act that does not contribute to the positive atmosphere needed to help the recently launched proximity talks". He continued:
Palestinian traders selling Israeli-made goods produced in the West Bank reportedly face fines of up to $14,000 or even prison which, while not a “hostile act” as the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip would have us believe, is still a serious violation of the spirit of the economic agreements made between Israel and the Palestinians during the Oslo period.

However, Barak also pointed out another economic reality:
The manufacturers’ claim that they are providing jobs for the around 20,000 Palestinians who would otherwise be unemployed might have some factual basis, but ignores the real reason for their basing their factories there: the winning combination of cheap land and cheap labor. Were labor costs and rents the same in the territories as they are in Israel, these manufacturers’ concern for Palestinian employment figures would soon disappear.

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a Likud Party meeting that the boycott of Israeli products from the West Bank cost 2,000 Palestinians their livelihoods and added:
Israel strives for peace, we removed checkpoints in the West Bank, improved the [Palestinians'] quality of life, and are constantly working to help the development of the Palestinian economy, yet the Palestinians oppose economic improvements and takes step that in the end hurt themselves.

Syria's Assad vs. the US Congress & Lobbies: On Monday, in an interview with the Italian daily newspaper La Republica, Syrian President Bashar Assad made four assertions. First, it is not necessary to break Syria's strong ties with Iran to make peace with Israel. Secondly, Syria, did not give Scud missiles to Hezbollah. Thirdly, the US has lost its influence in the Middle East. Lastly, the reason for this failure is not President Barack Obama, who brought hope to the region, but the actions of Congress and American lobbies.

Israel Still Denies Nuke Offer to South Africa: Responding to the report that Israel had offered nuclear warheads to South Africa, a statement from President Shimon Peres' office said:
Israel has never negotiated the exchange of nuclear weapons with South Africa. There exists no Israeli document or Israeli signature on a document that such negotiations took place.

Israel Says 'No' to Aid Ships: A flotilla of humanitarian aid ships sent from Ireland, Greece and Turkey to help people in Gaza will not be allowed into the Gaza Strip. Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said:
If the people who rule Gaza let [detained Israeli soldier] Gilad Shalit go then everything will look different. They're causing damage to their own people.

Hamas Warns Fatah ahead of Elections: Hamas officials said on Monday that the Islamist movement will boycott the municipal elections that the Palestinian Authority is planning to hold in the West Bank in July. Hamas said that the elections were designed to help Fatah and supporters of the Oslo Accords.

Middle East Inside Line: IDF Concern over Settlers, Israel's Warning to Europeans, Barak's Tactics, Chomsky on "Stalinist" Israel

Israel Defense Forces Concern over Settlers: The head of Israel Defense Forces' Central Command, General Avi Mizrahi, told the troops of Kfir Infantry Brigade on Monday that the recent spate of settler violence could lead to a Palestinian uprising in the West Bank.

The Kfir Brigade, created in December 2005, consists of six battalions who man 30 percent of the roadblocks in the West Bank and are responsible for 60 percent of arrests. Although the IDF is not aware of any plan, Mizrahi said, the IDF must be ready for any escalation in the territory and for the possibility of fighting the Palestinian forces, trained in Jordan by US General Keith Dayton. Mizrahi continued:

Middle East Inside Line: Proximity Talks Continue; Israel’s Lieberman & Palestine; Chomsky Barred

In most of the settlements, there is no problem,. Most are normative – but another mosque arson, and yet another arson, and it all comes together. But Yitzhar, Gilad's Farm, Maon, they don't believe in us at all as a state. They want only one thing, and when someone loses his boundaries, you don't know where it's going to go.

"Hands off Gaza": The Israeli Foreign Ministry warned Turkey, Greece, Ireland, and Sweden that any of their citizens setting sail for Gaza would be stopped before they could reach the coastal territory.

Earlier Monday, Israeli security forces released and deported a Turkish national arrested this month for allegedly belonging to an outlawed Islamic group.

Israel's Barak Aligning with Obama: Unlike his coalition partners, Ehud Barak prefers playing the "good guy" within the context of a regional peace under Washington's guidance. Possibly because of benefits when compared to partners' "intransigence", the Labor Party declines to hit the media with conservative and provocative statements on Jerusalem.

Barak on Monday urged Israeli lawmakers to refrain from taking any actions or making remarks that might present West Jerusalem's opposition to the Middle East peace process, according to Israel Radio. He also said that Israel must work to increase the mutual trust with its top ally, the United States, and added that the proximity talks must eventually lead to direct talks with the Palestinians.

Chomsky's Response to Israeli Officials: Having been refused entry into Israel on Sunday, Noam Chomsky likened Israel to a  "Stalinist regime". In a telephone conversation with Haaretz, Chomsky said from Jordan:
The official asked me why I was lecturing only at Bir Zeit and not an Israeli university. I told him that I have lectured a great deal in Israel. The official read the following statement: 'Israel does not like what you say.

I find it hard to think of a similar case, in which entry to a person is denied because he is not lecturing in Tel Aviv. Perhaps only in Stalinist regimes.

Israel's Lieberman on North Korea: Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday responded to a personal attack from the North Korean Foreign Ministry, which called him "an imbecile". He said, "I see it as a compliment from the North Koreans."

Middle East Inside Line: Proximity Talks Continue; Israel's Lieberman & Palestine; Chomsky Barred

The Proximity Talks Continue: "U.S. envoy George Mitchell returns to mediate a second round of Middle East talks this week," announced Kurt Hoyer, the US Embassy spokesman in Tel Aviv. He said it was not yet determined on what day Mitchell will arrive.

Israel's Lieberman Responds to Russia, Turkey, and Syria: Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday "The sale of weapons [between Syria and Russia] does not contribute to building an atmosphere of peace." He asserted that Syria has no interest in peace and critiqued Russia's "hypocritical" stance on terrorism:
Russia, but also Egypt and Turkey as well as other countries, have a policy of differentiating between 'good' and 'bad' terrorism, between that which targets Israel and that which targets others.

Middle East Inside Line: Nakba Day/Independence Day; Deterioration in East Jerusalem; Israel’s Lieberman “An Imbecile”?

Lieberman also spoke about calls to include Hamas in discussions: "We will not accept any ultimatum with regard to Hamas, and we won't let this movement take part in any peace process."

Palestine's Erekat in Israel: The top negotiator of the Palestinian Authority, Saeb Erekat, gave a speech at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on Sunday. He called on both parties to make decisions and reiterated the Palestinian Authority’s desire for a just peace with Israel based on the two-state solution. He said:
I know that many in Palestine and Israel today doubt the possibility that peace can be achieved. I beg to differ. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There can be a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, with land swaps and solutions for the refugees.

Many people thought that there was no progress with the negotiations that have taken place over the years because Palestinians and Israelis have eyes that only see things that are not achieved. But I believe that Palestinians and Israelis, over the last decade of negotiations, have come a long, long way.

The Americans cannot make peace for us. Americans cannot make the concessions that are required by Palestinians or Israelis. Americans cannot make decisions for Palestinians and Israelis. Many people say that the proximity talks after 19 years is a regression, that Palestinians not sitting face-to-face with Israelis is a step backward. That can be argued, but another argument in the science of negotiations is that proximity is when two sides exhaust everything they have – they have turned over every stone, they cannot conclude what they are trying to achieve. Then comes a third party to do four tasks: to go between, to facilitate, to arbitrate and to mediate.

Considering a future Palestinian state, he added:
Limited arms doesn’t mean limited dignity. We will not accept Israeli presence in the Palestinian state.

I am not going to waste my time talking about interim solutions. If at the end of the day, as Palestinians, we are willing to accommodate Israeli requests and end our nakba [catastrophe], and you still insist that my hometown Jericho should be called Yeriho and Nablus be called Shechem, talk to me. I’m not scared. Now it is the moment of truth. Israelis need an end to conflict. Israelis need to understand that there is a leadership that is willing to [meet] the requirements for peace.

When asked if the PA would recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Erekat said:
Why are you asking me to join the Zionist movement? I don’t want to be a Zionist... Your name is the State of Israel. I recognize you as the State of Israel. If you want to call yourselves the Eternal, United, Historical, Biblical, Hebrew Nation of Jews from now to the future, who cares?

Chomsky Not Allowed into Israel and Palestine: Professor Noam Chomsky, an American linguist and left-wing activist, was denied entry into Israel and the West Bank on Sunday by the Interior Ministry. He was scheduled to deliver a lecture at Bir Zeit University near Jerusalem.

Interior Ministry Spokeswoman Sabine Haddad told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday evening that the initial decision to deny Chomsky entry was down to a "misunderstanding" and denied claims that Chomsky's name was on a blacklist of individuals prohibited from
entering the country. She said:
We are checking with the IDF's Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). If COGAT gives us the all clear, we will grant him entry.