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The Day in Israel: Wed Feb 18th, 2009

Click refresh to see new updates during the day.

  • Today, Israeli President Shimon Peres will begin consulting with all the parties on who should be the next prime minister. As I posted yesterday, neither Likud nor Kadima currently have the numbers, thanks to Yisrael Beitenu’s refusal to back Likud.
  • Some more smuggling tunnels and a Hamas outpost felt the brunt of our latest “disproportionate response” to rocket attacks on Israel. A Hamas terrorist almost choked while laughing.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

8:17PM: Anti-Israel celebrity Annie Lennox in an interview with CNN:

CNN: I’ve read that you consider yourself to be quite naive. Is that still true?

Lennox: I still have an aspect of naiveté, and I think it’s a valuable thing, because if I was jaded and cynical 100 percent as I could be, you know I would be less human and I think my acknowledgment that I can be naive is fine. It’s part of being human.

Naive she is.

6:08PM: Another Beeb classic: In an article entitled Who can probe Gaza war crimes claims?, the BBC’s Bethany Bell writes:

‘Appalling acts’

During the three-week conflict, the United Nations says more than 40 people were killed when Israeli shells landed near a UN school and that warehouses at its main compound in Gaza City were hit by Israeli white phosphorus shells.

The UN says many people were sheltering in the school and the compound at the time of the attacks.

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the attacks, although he did not use the term “war crimes”. He has demanded “a thorough investigation into these incidents and the punishment of those who are responsible for these appalling acts.”

Mr Ban has also announced a UN inquiry into the “casualties and damage” at United Nations property during the conflict.


The Deputy Spokesman at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Andy David, told the BBC that “Israel investigates all its actions regardless of outside calls.” He said the country did not need “external intervention to conduct any investigation”.

He said: “Israel acts according to international laws and with highest regards to morality during combat, even beyond the requirement of the law.”

A spokesperson for the Israeli army said the hits near the UN school and on the UN compound were being investigated.

Why is it that Bell does not mention the UN’s subsequent clarification that the IDF did not shell the school? This is especially curious, considering she uses Ban Ki-moon’s earlier statement of condemnation. And I would think it is especially relevant when considering the accusations of war crimes, under the inflammatory heading ‘Appalling acts’.

Another curious omission: the IDF casualty figures which, amongst other things, showed that 12 Palestinians (of which 9 were terrorists) – not 40 – were killed in the incident. Here, I am not sure whether this is because the Deputy Spokesman at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided not to mention it, or because his quote was solicited a while ago, and Ms Bell is reusing it for the report. In any event, a good journalist would have mentioned this fact instead of just quoting the contentious figure of 40.

5:30PM: Hamas has rejected Israel’s cabinet decision not to open its border crossings with Gaza until Hamas agrees to release Gilad Shalit.

Ok, can we quit playing games now and send them back to the Stone Age?

4:48PM: Likud has agreed to Yisrael Beitenu’s core demands. Kind of.

Likud said on Wednesday that chairman Benjamin Netanyahu would be “happy to see Yisrael Beiteinu as a central partner in [a] government” formed under his leadership.

Likud faction whip Gideon Sa’ar gave Yisrael Beiteinu negotiator MK Stam Misznikov a document responding to five principles that the smaller party’s chairman, Avigdor Lieberman, had presented as conditions for joining a Netanyahu-led coalition.

In its response, Likud told Yisrael Beiteinu that it would agree to the latter’s conditions for joining, but stopped short of promising to follow through with each demand.

4:18PM: Israeli Arab Member of Knesset Ahmed Tibi defending Hamas.

It’s an absolute travesty that someone like this be allowed to serve in the Knesset.

4:05PM: Someone at The Independent seems to have been asleep at the wheel, allowing this article to be published (hat tip: Pisa).


I was once in Melbourne when bush fires were raging 20 or 30 miles north of the city. Even from that distance you could smell the burning. Fine fragments of ash, like slivers of charcoal confetti, covered the pavements. The very air was charred. It has been the same here these past couple of months with the fighting in Gaza. Only the air has been charred not with devastation but with hatred. And I don’t mean the hatred of the warring parties for each other. I mean the hatred of Israel expressed in our streets, on our campuses, in our newspapers, on our radios and televisions, and now in our theatres.

A discriminatory, over-and-above hatred, inexplicable in its hysteria and virulence whatever justification is adduced for it; an unreasoning, deranged and as far as I can see irreversible revulsion that is poisoning everything we are supposed to believe in here – the free exchange of opinions, the clear-headedness of thinkers and teachers, the fine tracery of social interdependence we call community relations, modernity of outlook, tolerance, truth. You can taste the toxins on your tongue.

But I am not allowed to ascribe any of this to anti-Semitism. It is, I am assured, “criticism” of Israel, pure and simple. In the matter of Israel and the Palestinians this country has been heading towards a dictatorship of the one-minded for a long time; we seem now to have attained it. Deviate a fraction of a moral millimetre from the prevailing othodoxy and you are either not listened to or you are jeered at and abused, your reading of history trashed, your humanity itself called into question. I don’t say that self-pityingly. As always with dictatorships of the mind, the worst harmed are not the ones not listened to, but the ones not listening. So leave them to it, has essentially been my philosophy. A life spent singing anti-Zionist carols in the company of Ken Livingstone and George Galloway is its own punishment.

Read the whole thing here.

3:48PM: Israeli President Shimon Peres has admitted that he was wrong in supporting Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.

No word yet on whether he admits his Club Med Gaza idea was also a croc.

3:43PM: No posts from me in a while since I was in a very interesting workshop until the early afternoon.

6:12AM: Double oy seven?

Some gadgets look like they came straight out of a James Bond movie. One is a softball-sized camera that can be thrown into a suspect house and transmit images to soldiers outside. Another is a special door-buster that is connected to an M-16 and can blow open booby-trapped portals.

On Tuesday, the IDF Ground Forces Command put these weapon systems and others – most of them used during last month’s Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip – on display in a military base in the South.

Called the Eyeball, the spherical camera was developed by the Tel Aviv-based company ODF Optronics.

An advanced, audio-visual surveillance sensor, the Eyeball was used by IDF troops during the Gaza offensive to survey homes and suspicious areas before entering them.

Each unit is only slightly larger than a baseball and can be simply thrown into the area that needs to be checked out. It can also be mounted on a pole or lowered on a cable into a tunnel.

Another product from the same company is the Eyedrive, a lightweight, four-wheel, remote-controlled, observation and surveillance mini-robot that provides continuous, real-time 360º audio and video surveillance. Due to its durability, the robot can be thrown on the ground, go down stairs, flip over and keep on going.

The IDF also tested the HTR 2000, a new sniper rifle that will be distributed to all infantry battalions. It has a range of more than 1,000 meters and can be used with a special night-vision add-on scope. The adjustable heavy tactical rifle is made by H-S Precision INC in the United States.

Also used for the first time during the offensive was the Matador shoulder-launched anti-structure munition.

Used by infantry to destroy Hamas positions inside homes and other structures, the Matador incorporates an advanced tandem warhead concept that can be operated in two modes: against fortified positions and other structures, and to create a hole in a wall without destroying the inside of a home.

The system was acquired by the IDF in light of the Second Lebanon War, when infantry forces had problems hitting Hizbullah positions inside homes in the absence of a tank or attack helicopter.

The Ground Forces Command also put the IDF’s new armored personnel carrier on display. The Namer (Tiger) is based on the same platform as the Merkava MK4 Battle Tank and has the same high-level of reinforced steel protection.

“The Ground Forces Command is more prepared today than it was in the past decade to deal with the threats and challenges in the North and the Gaza Strip,” OC Ground Forces Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrachi said.

6:06AM: The future of the Dubai Tennis Championships are in doubt, with talk it could be scratched from next year’s calendar, after Israel’s Shahar Peer was barred from competing.

6:04AM: What you need to know about UNRWA.

6:00AM: Syrian President Bashar Assad has said that Operation Cast Lead would not derail peace talks with Jerusalem.

I guess he must have really appreciated the apples.

5:55AM: An example of the types of prisoners who may be released in a deal for Gilad Shalit.

Besides the obvious point to take from this footage regarding the nature of these people and their crimes, notice the jail conditions under which they live (pay special attention around 00:40).

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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