Israel and militant group Hamas have agreed to a long-term ceasefire in the Gaza Strip aimed at ending the conflict that has killed over 2,200 people. Israel has agreed to ease its economic blockade of Gaza, while Hamas has said it will stop firing rockets into Israeli territory.
The Associated Press reported that the truce was holding as of Wednesday. The open-ended deal was brokered by Egypt, with hopes it will stop the fighting, which besides the heavy death toll, has led to widespread destruction in Gaza.
"Israel has accepted an Egyptian proposal for a complete and unlimited-in-time ceasefire. Israel accepted already the Egyptian proposal on July 15. Israel has always supported an unconditional, open-ended ceasefire," an Israeli government official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. more >>
"Zionist" is not a term I would use to describe myself, at least, not before last Tuesday. As I found myself huddled and shaking in a bomb shelter along the Israel/Gaza Strip border as missiles fired overhead, my perspective started to change.
Last week, I participated in a "Solidarity with Israel" trip hosted by the National Religious Broadcasters and hosted by the nation's Ministry of Tourism. The trip served not only as a pilgrimage of personal faith renewal, but my life-changing encounter with a nation I have always supported but never fully understood why. Until now.
Tours of Jerusalem's Old City were thrilling, the delicious Middle East foods were unending, and the Israelis I met were warm and welcoming to everyone who came in peace. As I stood on a balcony overlooking Jerusalem, I cried as my visual senses absorbed the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives reminding me of the ransom Jesus Christ had paid for my sins. more >>
In recent interviews recorded for the English-speaking world, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has sought to present a less radical side of Hamas, one that is unworthy of the "terrorist" moniker. The reality is that Hamas remains a terrorist organization, as the most recent interview clearly reveals.
During an interview with Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News posted on August 22nd, Meshaal, the political leader of Hamas who lives safe and secure in Qatar, rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's assertion that ISIS was like Hamas and Hamas like ISIS, stating, "We are not a religious, violent group," calling ISIS (also known as the Islamic State) a "totally different phenomenon." As he explained, "We are fighting against aggression in our land."
Why then did the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, send this tweet out on August 16? "We are continuing our struggle. ALLAH IS OUR GOAL, THE PROPHET IS OUR LEADER, JIHAD IS OUR WAY, AND DEATH FOR ALLAH IS OUR MOST EXALTED WISH." (Caps in the original.) more >>
The beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley has raised concerns in the West about Islamist threats. But Israel has been facing this specter for decades and – given Israel's proximity to the Islamist threat – the Jewish state is the canary in the coalmine for the West. But Gaza seems to be the Western blind spot, even though the Hamas-ISIS parallels are glaringly obvious.
Since beheadings are the current media focus, and ISIS has beheaded infants, it's worth noting that Hamas praised the 2011 Itamar murders, which involved the decapitation of a baby. Islamist beheadings should surprise no one, given that they've been happening for much of (and despite) modernity – perhaps because "Islam is the only major world religion today that is cited…to legitimize beheadings," according to this study.
While there have been no reported Hamas beheadings of journalists, the similarities between Hamas and ISIS are more important than their differences. more >>
On Wednesday I urged conservatives to challenge jihadists and their enablers in international tribunals, including the U.N. Our ACLJ international affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice, sent a letter to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights detailing Hamas's war crimes and describing exactly how her accusations against Israel lead to further use of human shields and further abuse of civilian facilities.
Today, we escalated our efforts, sending a letter to the U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, demanding an investigation into potential U.N. complicity in Hamas war crimes:
In light of our commitment to the rule of law in international affairs, we were distressed to learn of the intentional misuse of UNRWA facilities in the Gaza Strip in support of Hamas operatives in their attacks on Israel, a UN member state in good standing, in obvious violation of principles enunciated in the UN Charter, a number of UN Security Council resolutions, and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) . The very reputation and legitimacy of the UN and its various arms and agencies are at stake, especially since Hamas is widely recognized as a terrorist organization. Further, the return to Hamas of the rockets unlawfully stored in UNRWA facilities strongly suggests that UNRWA employees may be acting in concert and/or co-operating with Hamas operatives in unlawfully attacking a UN member state. That cannot be tolerated and may, in fact, constitute a war crime. At a minimum, it places in question the legitimacy and impartiality of all UNRWA operations in Gaza. more >>
An Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip on Thursday has killed three top Hamas commanders that it had identified as having "planned deadly attacks against Israeli civilians." Israel and the Palestinian militant group have resumed fighting following the collapse of a 10-day ceasefire.
The three senior Hamas military figures who were among six killed were identified as Mohammed Abu Shammala, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Barhoum, with Hamas stating that they died in the bombing of a house in the southern town of Rafah.