The Day In Israel: Wed Apr 22nd, 2009

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Some surprising statements from Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, including:

  • America accepts all of Israel’s decisions
  • The role of Israel is to bring the US and Russia closer
  • Afghanistan and Pakistan have moved to Israel’s number 1 strategic threat with a bullet, with Iran dropping to number three.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

10:50PM: The IDF has released this video explaining the background to operation Cast Lead, specifically the terrorist tactics that Hamas employs.

8:15PM: My friend Professor Barry Rubin (who liveblogged with me on Israellycool during the Israeli elections) has a new blog with many interesting posts. Including this:

The day after Ahmadinejad’s speech, the delegates elected Iran as one of three vice-chairs of the committee accepting the final declaration. The meeting took 15 minutes. No debate permitted.

Minister of Information and Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Malki of the Palestinian Authority (the “moderate” regime which supposedly is ready to make peace with Israel, stated according to Ann Bayefsky

“For over 60 years the Palestinian people has been suffering under…the ugliest face of racism and racial discrimination….” and that Israel’s position is characterized by “racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”

It should be noted that for many years, before joining the PA, he was the West Bank leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist group more radical than Fatah.

This was most amusing to me. The last time I saw him, we were having dinner in Greece and he told me–he never said it was confidential–that the PLO’s policy was a disaster, that Yasir Arafat was a terrible leader, that most of the members in his office were thinking of emigrating to Canada (including his brother who had already gone there), and his sister’s children were discriminated against in Jordan because they were Palestinians. He added that the demand that all Palestinians be allowed to live in Israel (the so-called “Right of Return”) was a mistake because Israel would never accept it. At the end, he concluded–to my astonishment but these are his exact words, “Maybe we are better off staying under Israeli rule.”

Naturally, the next day at the conference he gave a speech saying that all the Palestinians’ problems were due to Israel. In response to my complaints about PA incitement to anti-Israel violence, he called for a joint committee to monitor incitement on both sides.

When I approached him and said it was a good idea so let’s do it, he practically laughed in my face. We both knew that everything he said was for propaganda purposes and he didn’t mean any of it.

Go check out Barry’s blog and tell him Aussie Dave sent you.

4:03PM: More on the findings of the IDF probe on Operation Cast Lead:

The IDF operated in the Gaza Strip in accordance with international law and succeeded in maintaining a high level of professionalism and morals even though it fought against an enemy that cynically uses civilians as human shields, Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel said Wednesday as the IDF publicized findings from five different probes into accusations that were raised during January’s Operation Cast Lead.

Following the 22-day operation in January, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi appointed five colonels to lead probes into a number of issues that came up during the operation against Hamas.

One probe focused on claims that the IDF targeted United Nations facilities and vehicles; another probe focused on alleged attacks against Palestinian medical facilities, teams and vehicles; another probe focused on several alleged attacks against innocent Palestinians; another probe was launched into the IDF’s use of white phosphorus weaponry and the last probe was launched into the damage caused to infrastructure and Palestinian homes by ground forces during the operation.

The general conclusion from the probes, Harel said, was that the IDF operated in accordance with international laws and made great efforts to minimize civilian casualties. The probes also uncovered a number of cases in which the IDF made “intelligence and operational mistakes” in the midst of the fighting that led to th death of several dozen innocent people.

“These are unfortunate but inevitable cases that happen in a conflict,” Harel said. “Especially in the type of fighting that Hamas forced upon the IDF when it chose to take shelter and fight in the midst of a civilian population.”

Among the “intelligence and operational mistakes” was the bombing on January 6 of the al-Dawiya family home in the Zietoun neighborhood of Gaza City, in which 21 people were reported killed.

The probe, conducted by former Golani Brigade commander Col. Tamir Yidai, discovered that an intelligence mistake led the Air Force to bomb the wrong target. The probe revealed that the IDF had received intelligence on a home two buildings down the block from the al-Dawiya house which was storing weaponry for Hamas. The IDF even called the correct home to warn the residents to evacuate it before the bombing.

The next step included dropping a warning munition on the roof of the building but the IAF was provided the wrong coordinates and dropped the munition on the al-Dawiya house and then bombed it.

The IDF explained that the incident was regretful but was something that could happen in the middle of a conflict.

In total Harel said, the IDF has identified 1,166 Palestinians who were killed during the Gaza operation. The IDF has successfully identified 709 as Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists. 295 Palestinians were identified as women, children and elderly and the remaining 162 are men between the ages of 16 and 45 who are not yet known to be affiliated with a terrorist organization.

While there are still some 70 teams probing various IDF units, Harel said that until now the military has not found a single incident during the operation in which an Israeli soldier purposely aimed and fired at innocent civilians.

“We have not found even one case of a soldier purposely targeting innocent civilians during the operation,” Harel said. “The investigations continue and if we will find a case it will be dealt with harshly.”

Regarding the IDF’s use of white phosphorus during the operation, which drew international condemnations and accusations that Israel was perpetrating war crimes, the probe into the use of the weaponry discovered that in all cases it was used in accordance of international law. The weapon, the probe discovered, was used as a mortar shell fired by mortar squads as well as by the Navy which fired a 76 mm cannon which every few rounds also fires a white-phosphorus shell so the Navy can track where it is targeting.

In addition, the IDF fired some 3,000 155 mm artillery shells – that looked like exploding octopuses in the air – that are not white-phosphorus weapons and are used strictly in order to create smokescreens for troop movements on the ground.

The probe, conducted by artillery officer Col. Shai Alkilai, revealed that white phosphorus weapons were used strictly in open fields and not in urban centers. The weapon was also not used against terrorists in the fields but for marking and ranging when the forces tried to target Kassam rocket cells operating in the open fields.

The IDF said it knew of only one case when white phosphorus was used in its burn capacity. That incident also took place in an open field and was done in order to burn away shrubbery and uncover tunnel openings in the area. The IDF said that the use of the weapon in that incident was also done in line with international regulations.

While the IDF was not required to, on January 7, the General Staff decided to stop using white phosphorus, Alkali discovered three cases of forces that continued to use the weapon despite the order. The probe revealed that that the use of the weapon after January 7 was since the forces had yet to receive the new directive and that once they did use of the weapon was halted.

3:22PM: The IDF has found following Operation Cast Lead that alongside the military achievements, there were also incidents defined as “malfunctions” in which civilians were killed. However, the scope of such incidents was relatively small.

“In all our inquiries so far we have not found a single case in which an Israeli soldier intentionally targeted a Palestinian civilian. If such a case is fount, it will be handled with the utmost severity.”

3:13PM: Gorilla boy is still at it.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused Israel on Tuesday of “brutal acts” and “ethnic cleansing” against the Palestinians, two days after his denunciation of Israel as racist prompted a walk-out from the Durban II conference on racism.

Ahmadinejad told a conference in Tehran on Israel’s “genocide” in Gaza that Israeli “criminals” should be brought to justice.

He said Iran had submitted requests for the arrests of 25 “Zionist war criminals” to Interpol. Iran often refers to Israel as the “Zionist regime.” Iran had previously announced that it had taken such action with Interpol.

“(They) must be held accountable for all their brutality,” Ahmadinejad told the meeting of prosecutors from Islamic countries in a speech broadcast live on state television. His comments were translated by Iran’s English-language Press TV.

Ahmadinejad also claimed the conference in Geneva was a defeat for Israel, Fars news agency reported.

“They wanted to make a new interpretation of racism but for the first time the spirit of freedom of the nations and governments neutralized the Zionists’ evil plans,” he said said.

“They kill innocent people, build atomic bombs and then misuse human rights as a justification for their inhuman acts just as they did with the Holocaust.”

It’s a shame the rumors of him being really ill may not have been entirely accurate.

6:05AM: Palestinian police force chicken dance redux?

AP

And 1,2,3..

5:58AM: Flying pig moment: Egyptian-American Writer Magdi Khalil criticizes MahmoudAhmadinejad’s invitation to Durban II and the comparison between Zionism and racism.

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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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