31 July 2014

Burning Ross Burns' diatribe

From  scathing critique of a shameful diatribe by veteran Israel-basher, former Australian diplomat, Ross Burns, in Jewgle Perth, 31 July 2014:

I read your article in The Australian.  ...you are wrong.  Dead wrong.  The record needs to be set right, and with sufficient detail for the sake of your readers.

....To rebut your shameful diatribe, I reproduce your article with some salient points that both you and your objective readers may wish to consider:

[Follow the link to read the rebuttal in full detail.]

....You Sir, are part of the problem, not part of the solution.  Given the tone and lack of honesty in your article, I believe that you are an apologist for terrorists and a blight on the good name of our wonderful country.....

The real jailors of Gaza are Hamas

ABC AM PROGRAM, 31 July 2014


On another and very pressing issue. You have a large Jewish constituency in your electorate, how do you feel about the war in Gaza? Does Israel risk doing irreparable damage to its international standing?


Well Israel risks extinction. Israel faces an existential threat every day. Israel can barely afford to lose a battle let alone a war. Now, listening to Mark Regev earlier on this program, he really set out well what the problem is. I mean, the problems between Palestinians and Israel are immense and complex, but right here and now the fundamental issue that Israel faces is its fights to defend the safety of its people. As long as Hamas is firing rockets into Israel the Israeli defence force has to defend its own population. I mean that’s what we’d expect the Australian Army to do for us.


Are you comfortable with the disproportionate nature of what we’re seeing? 


Nobody is comfortable with it – nobody. And can I say to you, least of all Jews in Australia. Jews in Australia and in my electorate are anguished by this because they see the terrible bind that Israel is in, the terrible bind that the civilians of Gaza are in. I mean people talk about Gaza as a prison. Let me tell you the real jailors of Gaza are Hamas. They are the people that are firing missiles from heavily built up areas filled with civilians, filled with children and the Israelis have to try to work out how to eliminate the source of the missiles in a surgical way. That is almost impossible to do without civilian casualties. 


Malcolm Turnbull, we’ll have to leave it there. Thank you. 


Thank you.


30 July 2014

"Our ABC" (Australia) interviews an authoritative Israeli for a change, instead of an extremist from the left or right.

From Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Broadcast: 30/07/2014
Reporter: Emma Alberici

[I'm posting this in full, because the ABC will probably take it down as soon, having failed in this program, despite Alberici's naive best efforts, to make Israel look like the "bad guy".... Until it does, follow the link to see a video of the program.]

Dore Gold, Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, discusses the hostilities in Gaza.


EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Our top story is the hostilities between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. And joining us from Jerusalem is Dore Gold, senior foreign policy advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and president of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs. He's also a former ambassador to the UN.

Dore Gold, welcome to Lateline.


EMMA ALBERICI: Please explain for us why Israel has fired missiles at a United Nations school in Gaza knowing that hundreds of innocent families were sheltering there.

DORE GOLD: Well, you have to take that question apart into two - two elements. Number one, Israel does not knowingly fire into civilian groups of people, into civilian buildings. What has happened is schools, clinics and a variety of civilian residences have now moved from the category of being purely a non-military entity to becoming actual military targets. Israel, however, uses a system of warnings when that happens. The reason why suddenly we find civilians in a school or in other places is because Hamas has a deliberate policy of using these people as human shields. Now, I just want to add one last point on this. The United Nations has already complained that it has found three schools of UNRRA that have been used by Hamas for storing weapons and those weapons in fact have been discovered by the UN. So we have a very serious problem. In many cases, a UN school will be used by Hamas to fire at our troops. In other cases, they're used to store weaponry.

EMMA ALBERICI: Sorry, I was going to say we should go through some of the issues you raise in some detail. First of all, the UN's Chris Gunness has told the BBC just in the last few hours that Israel had been warned 17 times that the school in the Jabaliya refugee camp was housing people who'd been forced to flee from their homes.

DORE GOLD: Well if you're speaking about a specific case that occurred today, I know some event has occurred which is under investigation and Israel always thoroughly investigates these cases. In the past, we have found that when allegations were made about Israeli military activity in a civilian area, we demonstrated very clearly, and the international community accepted our arguments, that these types of events have occurred because Hamas was operating there. That, for example, the other day in a hospital courtyard, a blast went off, injuring - in fact killing some children. And why did that blast go off? Israel wasn't even operating in the area. It was Hamas launching a Fajr-5 rocket procured from Iran at Israel and they mishandled the rocket. So as these kinds of things occur, these events have to be investigated.

EMMA ALBERICI: Excuse me for interrupting. Excuse me for interrupting you there, but I do want to take you back to the UN's claims today that were very simply that you were warned 17 times and the most recent time was just an hour before the fatal attack - warned that there were innocent civilians who were in the school taking shelter after being forced to leave their homes.

DORE GOLD: Well let me just tell you, I understand how the IDF operates, and I can tell you this: if the IDF, the Israel Defence Forces, knows there are civilians in an area, it will not open fire. If this occurred, it's probably because of Hamas fire or because of a misunderstanding, but I don't want to relate to any specific incident today. Those incidents need to be investigated. But what you're doing is you're micromanaging your questions in very specific areas, which are extremely important, but there's no way that on an investigative television show, several hours afterwards, you're going to figure this out. If you want the bigger picture of what is happening in the Gaza Strip, that can be discussed. But obviously, these kinds of issues have to be investigated, they're sensitive and they require the thorough co-operation between the United Nations and Israel. That co-operation is there.

EMMA ALBERICI: But you are calling into question claims being raised by the UN.

DORE GOLD: There have been other cases. This is a very tragic war, a tragic war that has broken out because Hamas decided first and foremost to launch rockets at Israeli cities, at our population centres in the heart of Israel. And number two, they also decided to launch these rockets, to place their military equipment in civilian areas. Now, Israel has basically three responses it could make with this kind of a war imposed on it. It could respond like the Allies in the Second World War and carpet bomb the enemy. We don't do that. We don't napalm whole neighbourhoods. That is not how Israel operates. We could have also said, "You know what? There's nothing we can do. There are civilians in the area from where they're shooting, it's better we just raise our hands and let our people be pelted with rockets." That is something Israel isn't going to do. We have to defend our people, as any country, including Australia, would. The only logical way of handling a situation like this is what Israel has proposed and what it is implementing. And that is giving sequential warnings to the population, leaflets, breaking into radio transmissions, getting Arabic-speaking officers to call people on their cell phones and send them text messages to move out of an area where military operations are going to occur. 

EMMA ALBERICI: Let me test some of the ...

DORE GOLD: Does the Israeli system work perfectly? No.

EMMA ALBERICI: OK, let me test some of your claims.

DORE GOLD: But does it represent a moral country pursuing a moral war of self-defence? Absolutely and that is exactly what you would do, unless you wanted to do the other two options.

EMMA ALBERICI: OK, there's quite a bit to get through on the issues you've raised there. First of all, the Israeli Defence Force, as you've just claimed, has given civilians ample warnings that they're coming to throw rockets into particular areas, but once made aware that a missile is about to strike, where are those people supposed to go when even the UN shelters are being targeted?

DORE GOLD: Well, first of all, Israel doesn't target UN shelters. What it will do is that if Hamas is firing out of an area, putting our troops at risk, and Israel has ascertained that citizens, civilians are not there, then it will fire to defend its troops. Now where are they to go? That's an excellent question. In fact, if you look at the Arabic leaflets that Israel drops in places like Sudjaia (phonetic spelling), the neighbourhood right across from Nuchelose (phonetic spelling) in Israel, those leaflets have maps on them with red arrows saying where people should go to get out of harm's way. We don't just tell people, "Oh, there's going to be a battle in this area. You better find a place to go." You actually have to suggest to people where they should find refuge and that's exactly what Israel does.

EMMA ALBERICI: I'm challenging you not because of the word of the Palestinian people or even Hamas; it's the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights saying, "The number of incidents, along with the high number of civilian deaths, belies the claim that all necessary precautions are being taken to prevent civilian - protect civilian lives."

DORE GOLD: Well, we have very strong differences with her and her sort of authoritative comments. In the past Israel was charged - there was a military operation in 2008 and 2009, Operation Cast Lead, and many people said that mostly civilians were killed. Well - when actually the war was over. And we looked at the names of the individuals involved and we actually counted what happened in that war. What you found is that the number of civilians hurt or killed in that war was far less than occurs in other wars, in Afghanistan and the history of warfare in general. Israel does the maximum it can do. But unless you've actually gone on a name-by-name basis and looked at who was affected by a battle, you can't just give a speech at the United Nations and say, "70 per cent of the people were non-combatants." I simply can't accept that kind of presentation by a senior UN official.

EMMA ALBERICI: One in eight Gazans have been made homeless and 1,200 - what we're being told is mostly innocent Palestinians - have died, versus 56 Israelis. Do you honestly expect the international community to believe that your response to the threat from Hamas is proportionate?

DORE GOLD: Well, you're using proportionality at war by looking at the number of deaths on either side. Now remember, there wouldn't be a single death had Hamas not fired at us and started this war to begin with. But if you look at the history of warfare, who lost more people? Nazi Germany or Britain? If you use your basis of evaluating things, you'd say, "Well, Britain was in the wrong and Nazi Germany was in the right." You can't use the relative number of losses. 

Now in the case of the Hamas, how did the Hamas spend its money over the last five years? While Israel put money into civilian defence shelters, air raid shelters and invested in a unique rocket missile defence system to protect its people, Hamas didn't provide shelters for its people, it created, first of all, attack tunnels, which allowed its operatives to go under the earth into Israeli territory where they planned to kidnap and kill villagers living near the Gaza Strip within Israel. Moreover, they spent money on rockets, offensive rockets, not rockets to knock other rockets out of the sky. So, if there are losses that have occurred that seem to show that the Israelis haven't had as many dead people as the Palestinians, the basis for that is Hamas policy and Israel should not feel guilty for the fact that it's protecting its own civilians, as you would or any responsible democratic country would.

EMMA ALBERICI: So, even if what you say about the other side in this conflict is true, are you suggesting then that the Israeli military, as sophisticated as it is, the best it can do will always involve the killing of hundreds of innocent civilians?

DORE GOLD: I'm suggesting that modern war, if you study it seriously as you study any other subject, you will find that civilians are affected. Now, they are affected in particular if one side of the conflict, namely Hamas, has a belief in martyrdom, has a belief in putting civilians in harm's way intentionally. We have statements that have been made by Hamas leaders extolling the idea of human shields. And if I may remind you, it was Hamas that perfected the idea of suicide bombing attacks. They were Hamas young men coming into the heart of Israeli cities, going into a pizzeria, into a discotheque or into just a mall, blowing themselves up to kill a dozen Israelis and maim another 30. Now that is what Hamas is all about. In fact, this year, a Tunisian poet wrote in Asharq Al-Awsat, the Saudi newspaper, about the whole Hamas infatuation with the cult of death. This is horrible. It is horrible that these people are given weapons, have money and power. I blame Qatar, that very rich Emirate that's been pouring money into the hands of Hamas, and I blame Iran, which has been supplying weapons so that it can have a Mediterranean base for the extension of its influence. The Palestinian people are paying a price, the people of Israel are paying a price. We want to defeat the Hamas option of hurting Israel and sacrificing Palestinians and we're doing it the best way we can.

EMMA ALBERICI: Just in the last few hours, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has warned that Western opinion is rapidly turning against Israel because of the scale of the action in Gaza. Does that bother you?

DORE GOLD: Obviously this bothers us, but what is your ultimate responsibility as a government? Is it to always first and foremost consider how you're doing in a public opinion poll, or is it to protect the lives of your civilians? We have to protect the lives of our civilians and we have to defeat - I have no other word to call it - an evil regime that wants to hurt Israelis and hurt Palestinians. And these are the results we're seeing. 

Now there's another factor here, I have to say, and frankly it's unpleasant. I think Australia's a country of people who are fair. When they look at a situation that's complex, they don't just get taken in by a TV picture, a snapshot of a small scene of a much larger situation. But much of the international media is having a fest with the damages that are going on in Gaza that have been created largely by the Palestinian Hamas' own policy and this has helped create a very foul anti-Israeli mood.

EMMA ALBERICI: I'm sorry to come in there, we are going to run out of time and I think - I'm sorry to interrupt you, but we have gone over - you've gone over that point a couple of times and I don't want us to run out of time. And I want to ask you: is your government actively considering a reoccupation of Gaza?

DORE GOLD: You know, what Israel has said in terms of its military goals are very simple. Number one, bring the rocket fire to an end. It is untenable for any normal country to have to accept that its people are going to be hit by rockets any time the other side wants to do it. The second element that is in our list of demands of military purposes of our operation is to destroy the tunnels. The tunnels are there not for going from one place to another; the tunnels are being used to go into Israel, to come up next to Israeli towns and villages where operatives of Hamas carrying heavy machines guns will go in and kill our people. We will not allow that to happen. The rest is our military campaign.

EMMA ALBERICI: I want to draw you back to my original question because - I'm sorry, I want to draw you back to the question because certainly early in this military campaign, a reoccupation of Gaza was something being advocated by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

DORE GOLD: Well, you know, I think the Foreign Minister has his views. He brings them to the cabinet and they're discussed and the cabinet makes a decision and the cabinet has not suggested that we're going to reoccupy the Gaza Strip. That is not a position that's been approved by the cabinet. It is a position which the Foreign Minister can fairly bring. It's a small area. Maybe he thinks that's what has to be done. But at the end of the day, those positions are debated and a decision is taken and the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister, the chief-of-staff who have considered this suggestion have decided they have two goals: stop the rockets into Israel and destroy the infiltration terror tunnels that are going to be used to kill our people unless we do it.

EMMA ALBERICI: If your objective is not to reoccupy Gaza, then isn't it about time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to sit down with Hamas to find common ground and negotiate some kind of lasting peace?

DORE GOLD: Excuse me, do you know what you're saying? Hamas is regarded as an international terrorist organisation. Now it's not just that it is a certain category or certain designation by the United States, by the European Union, by half a dozen countries - I believe by Australia as well. It is an organisation, if you read their charter, that calls for the destruction of Israel.

EMMA ALBERICI: Even the British - if I can just interrupt you for a minute on that particular point - if I can just interrupt you on that particular point, even the British Foreign Secretary has just in the last few hours admitted that Hamas needs to be part of a process that arrives at a lasting ceasefire.

DORE GOLD: You know, if you have Hamas as an organisation and you read what its charter calls for: the destruction of the state of Israel, the murder of its population, in fact the murder of all Jewish people. Now, you know, if they didn't come from the Middle East and they came from Europe, an organisation with those purposes, with those goals, would be called Nazis. Do you want us to sit and negotiate peace with that organisation? Wouldn't you want to say the organisation should fundamentally change first? In fact, the quartet, the combination of the EU, the United States, Russia and the UN Secretariat, have said before Hamas can be part of a peace process, it has to recognise Israel's right to exist, renounce violence and accept all past Israeli-Palestinian agreements. That was a smart idea. But to say that suddenly we're going to embrace Hamas with its hateful ideology, which isn't just in a museum, it's something they teach their children, it's something they teach their top people. They have in fact a religious leader named Yunis Al-Astal - I guarantee most people haven't heard of him. He's the most important Islamic legal authority of Hamas. Yunis Al-Astal in 2008 he called for (speaks Arabic) - in Arabic means a holocaust. He called for a renewed holocaust. He is their leader. He is in the Hamas parliament. 

So, unless those voices change, unless someone comes up with a progressive message from Hamas of mutual understanding, of living together, to just say that Israel should sit with Hamas and work out a deal simply isn't looking at what's there. First we have to disarm Hamas. We have to make sure that the Gaza Strip will not have rockets and tunnels in the future. And then we have to work out a way of making sure the Gaza population is rehabilitated, is taken care of without strengthening the military capabilities Hamas to attack Israel or to attack anybody else in the Middle Eastern region.

EMMA ALBERICI: We're out of time, so we have to leave it there. I thank you very much for being with us. 

29 July 2014

More evidence Gaza casualty figures are unreliable

My recent blog post pointed out how casualty data from Gaza is unreliable, noting that the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry is the main source of information and data about casualties in Gaza, and in past Gaza wars, this information proved to be inaccurate - exaggerating both the total number of casualties, and especially inflating the percentage of them who are civilians.

Further analysis of the released casualty data, as published on al Jazeera, showed that military age males were more than half of those killed but only 20% of the Gaza population, thus disproving claims that Israel has been indiscriminately attacking civilians during Operation Protective Edge.

In yet more evidence that commonly employed casualty claims are unreliable, it has now been shown that the al Jazeera casualty list includes numerous duplicate names - names that appear two, and even three times on the same list. In fact, there have been at least 33-42 duplicate names so far (according to different counts). Other lists of Gazan casualties, which are likely to also be based on the Health Ministry records,  contained duplicate names as well.

Some of the names appeared in slight differences in spelling (yet the age and/or location confirm that it is the same person), some listed different locations (yet the name and age are the same). Among the duplicate names are children listed as fatalities multiple times.

For example, four-years-old Mona Rami Al Kharwat from north Gaza is listed twice, the second time her name is spelled as Mona Rami al-Kharwat, with a small ‘a'.

Yaseen Ibrahim Dieb Alkilani, nine-year-old from Burj Alsalam, is also listed as Yaseen Ibrahim Dib al-Kilani from Gaza city, and possibly even a third time as Yaser Ibrahim dib al-Kilani, 8, also from Burj Alsalam.

Hiba Hamid Alsheikh Khalil, 14 years old from Gaza, is also listed as having been killed twice. The duplication is acknowledged on the al Jazeera site, but the name is still listed as a separate casualty. It also appears a third time, as Hiba Hamed Mohammed Alshiekh Khalil, 13 years old.

Clearly, the lists provided by the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza is full of inaccuracies. Al Jazeera, mainstream media outlets and even the UN then use them, in the absence of other credible sources of data on casualties. One would expect serious journalists and professionals to apply some critical thinking and do a bit of fact-checking (such as checking the list for duplicates) before presenting the numbers as fact. At the very least, they could acknowledge that the source of the information is partisan. But such expectations seem rarely to be met.

This is especially the case when in comes to the often-quoted figure of 75% civilian casualties among Palestinians.

According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre the actual figures are drastically different; out of 775 fatalities analysed (as of 23 July) 229 were militants or terrorists (135 from Hamas, 60 from Islamic Jihad, and 34 from other terror organizations); 267 were civilians; and 279 could not yet be classified.

Reuven Erlich, the director of the Meir Amit Centre recently stated that some of the Palestinian figures that get quoted by the media, the UN and other international organisations "are not worth the paper they're written on... They're based mostly on Palestinian sources in Gaza, who have a vested interest in showing that we're killing many civilians."

One of the possible reasons for the distortion in numbers stems from the fact that the authorities in Gaza tend to identify as ‘civilian' anyone who was not wearing a uniform. However, many of the young men who are involved in terrorist activity in Gaza do not wear uniforms, even while launching rockets and clashing with IDF forces.

Rather than relying on such misleading and inaccurate identification of civilian casualties, the Meir Amit Centre examines each reported casualty's background on Palestinian websites and looks for details about their funerals in order to determine their occupation and to confirm or rule out any affiliation with terror groups.

The rigorous search for identifying details about each casualty leads to much greater accuracy in determining whether the person was a civilian or involved in fighting. This is in contrast to reports about civilian casualties not only from the Gaza Health Ministry, but also from human rights organisations (such as B'Tselem, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) and Al Mezan), which often rely on biased Palestinian sources or plain naivety, as Elder of Ziyon recently observed. According to a recent post on his blog, PCHR reported that:
"At approximately 11:55 (Friday), an Israeli drone fired a missile at a number of Palestinian civilians in al-Zanna area in Bani Suhaila village. As a result, 2 civilians were killed: Mohammed Khalil al-Buraim, 25; and Mohammed Suleiman Hussein Sammour, 45..."
Yet apparently their definition of ‘civilian' is somewhat stretched - it now includes fully-fledged terrorists:

"Mohammed Khalil Samour al-Buraim, meanwhile, is being celebrated as a mujahid by the Abdel-Qader al-Husseini Brigades Storm Troopers. He was apparently a rocket launcher."

Hamas is killing its own citizens and blaming Israel

This tweet from an Italian journalist proves that Hamas is killing its own citizens and blaming Israel:

22 July 2014

Gaza "civilian casualty" numbers are just propaganda

One of the most often cited criticisms of Israeli military operations is the supposedly disproportionate civilian death toll, which is all too often based on unreliable or heavily biased sources. Moreover, it is often claimed that the majority of those killed on the Palestinian side are civilians, which is usually said to be based on UN figures.
For instance, an SBS report published yesterday stated:
More than 430 Palestinians have been reported killed overall, most of them civilians, according to the United Nations.
However, the ABC's Matt Brown ...correctly pointed out, the UN has no independent capability to identify whether someone who has been killed was civilian or a member of Hamas or another terror group - especially as members of Gaza terror groups rarely wear uniforms. So they rely mainly on the testimony of the health authorities in Gaza - who are controlled by Hamas. As Raphael Ahren of the Times of Israel explained on July 16:

"For Operation Protective Edge, the only data published so far comes from the health ministry in Gaza. This ministry is run by Hamas, therefore rendering the number of casualties and injuries it reports more than unreliable, said Maj. Arye Shalicar of the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson's unit.
'Hamas has no shame about lying. We know they're a terrorist organization that makes cynical use of casualty numbers for propaganda purposes. You can't trust a single number they publish.'
"And yet, the figures from the Gazan ministry are routinely adopted, unquestioned, by the United Nations. 'According to preliminary information, over 77 per cent of the fatalities since 7 July have been civilians, raising concerns about respect for international humanitarian law,' states a situation report published Tuesday by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Once given the stamp of approval of such an important body, these numbers are quoted everywhere else."

These claims are repeated by uncritical journalists on many mainstream news outlets and on social media, where Hamas supporters have been caught frequently posting pictures of injured women and children, often taken during the Syrian civil war or other conflicts and falsely depicted as Gazan victims to elicit sympathy among a public that does not have the tools to verify their authenticity. And Hamas has a very clear policy about who should be identified as a civilian on social media - absolutely anybody killed is to be identified as a civilian. Here is what social media guidelines issued to Gazans by the Hamas Interior Ministry, and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), have to say on the subject:
"Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. Don't forget to always add 'innocent civilian' or 'innocent citizen' in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza."

There have also been concrete cases uncovered where unequivocal combatants have been identified as civilians. To take one example, the Elder of Ziyon blog recently exposed the case of Yousef Qandil and his son, Anas. They died in an IDF air strike in the Gaza Strip, and were described by the Palestinian news agency Ma'an as a high school student and a tailor - innocent civilians. However, according to Islamic Jihad, Yousef was a leader in its Al-Quds Brigades, and his son was a Mujahid ("holy warrior"). That also explains why Anas was not sent away from the area, to his grandparents' house, like his younger siblings and mother.

Several detailed analyses of the actual casualty figures confirm that, from the demographics alone, it is clear that Israel is definitely not indicriminately targeting Gazans - despite the rhetoric one often hears about the Palestinian casualties.

Analysis based on the names and details of Palestinian fatalities published by Al-Jazeera on 14 July, at the end of the first week of operation Protective Edge, suggests that most of those killed were combatant age males. The data was reviewed by CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and compared with demographic data about the Gaza Strip's population, which consists of 50% male, 50% female and a median age of 15, meaning almost 50% of the population consists of children under 15.

CAMERA's data is based on the details of 150 men (excluding 19 whose age was not listed, although one of them was listed as a member of Islamic Jihad, and three whose age was over 65- total casualties analysed: 128 men) and 20 women who had been reported to be killed during the operation up until July 14.

CAMERA's analysis shows that young males between the age of 16 and 39 make up a disproportionate percentage of casualties (83 out of 128) , which corresponds with the characteristics of combatants. Male over the age of 40 are also over represented (28 out of 150) compared with their proportion in the broader population - some of these fatalities are likely to be senior members of terrorist organisations. These figures suggest that fatalities were not a result of indiscriminate targeting.

Only 12% of Palestinian fatalities were women, even though they represent 50% of the population. Males under the age of 15 years old, make up only 13% of Palestinian fatalities (20 in total), although they represent 50% of males in the Gaza Strip. CAMERA concluded that:
"media coverage often parrots the line fed by Gazan authorities that ‘most casualties are civilians' despite the well-established propensity of Gazan authorities to exaggerate the proportion of civilian casualties."
Another analysis of more recently updated data from Al Jazeera, published on 20 July, suggests that almost 82% of fatalities in operation Protective Edge were men, and half of them were between 18-28 years old, strongly suggesting many of them could have been combatants. Another 20% of male fatalities were between 29-48 years old, possibly including Hamas members and other terrorists.

Considering that most fatalities are men, and most male fatalities are young adults, it is clear that the killing was far from indiscriminate. Had it truly been indiscriminate the representation of women, children and elderly in the al-Jazeera list would have been much higher, and closer to their actual proportion in the population. It is also likely that a substantial portion of those killed, possibly a majority, are actually combatants.

It is also important to note that even these numbers are based solely on al-Jazeera reports and exclusively Palestinian sources - not Israeli ones.

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre (ITIC) also checked the profiles of reported fatalities and their initial analysis confirmed that about 50% of them are clearly identified as terrorists or were directly affiliated with terrorist groups. This is a very conservative evaluation, and even these numbers completely contradict the allegations regarding indiscriminate targeting.

Moreover, the current claims about the majority of Palestinian casualties being civilians hark back to identical claims made during the 2008-2009 and 2012 Gaza conflicts. There is considerable evidence that in both those cases, it turned out that such claims were wrong. Here and here are articles published by AIJAC which seem to establish that, of the casualties during the 2008-09 "Cast Lead" conflict, probably no more than one third of those killed were civilians - but this was not clear until after the war ended.

Of course, it is undoubtedly true that Palestinian civilians, including children, have been killed in the Gaza war. That is a genuine and profound tragedy - though by starting this conflict, failing to protect its population with shelters and urging them to ignore Israeli warnings about attacks, and then refusing repeated ceasefire offers, Hamas bears primary moral responsibility for that tragedy. But both reporters and informed readers should know that there there are currently no reliable figures as to how many these casualties actually are - and that the figures being put out by Hamas health authorities, as repeated by the UN and then Western media, almost certainly exaggerate the numbers of civilians involved.

Memo to ABC, SBS: Al-Jazeera is biased

The integrity of coverage of the current fighting between Hamas and Israel by Australia's national broadcaster, ABC, and its sister organisation SBS, has been compromised by their problematic and repeated use of reports by al-Jazeera, an organisation owned by the government of Qatar.

Biased against Israel in its coverage even at the best of times,al-Jazeera must be seen as having an egregious conflict of interest when it comes to the Israel-Hamas conflict, because Qatar is currently the biggest funding source for Hamas, and, together with Turkey, had been actively shilling a ceasefire plan that transparently serves Hamas' interests.

(For several more AIJAC blogs covering the bias of al-Jazeera, see herehere and here.)
The bias of al-Jazeera during this escalation has been criticised on Capital Hill by Democratic congressman Brad Sherman, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Web site Algemeiner reported.
"Every one of those rockets [fired by Hamas into Israeli cities] is a war crime, almost every one," Sherman said, noting that Hamas seeks to hit civilian targets. "Of course it's a war crime committed by Hamas. And of course the owners of this TV network help fund Hamas."
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post has reported that al-Jazeera has pushed Hamas' agenda in the current conflict more than most other media in the Arab world.
Eyal Zisser, a Middle East expert from the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that al-Jazeera is fully supporting Hamas, and not the Palestinian people. Zisser said that the Qatar-owned station has been supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and was against the overthrow of former Egyptian Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi. Qatar also funds Hamas.
Due to the way many of ABC's radio news feeds are only partially archived on the internet, it's difficult to determine the precise number of times al-Jazeera has been used by the network during this escalation.
In a sampling of four news reports since Friday, however, al-Jazeera was used all three times - and especially in prime time slots, when most people are tuning in.
At 6:50 p.m. on Friday, ABC Newsradio's Drive program a report by al-Jazeera's Nicole Johnston, for example, included an interview with an unnamed Hamas official, who said that Israel's ground incursion would "destroy the two-state solution, because the Palestinians will not, anymore, believe that the Israelis, or trust the Israelis are looking to have a political solution."
Johnston left this absurd statement unchallenged, ignoring the fact that it is Hamas that has led the rejectionist camp of the Palestinians that has always rejected the concept of a negotiated peace with Israel. In light of this, a fair journalist might have raised the question whether the destruction of the two-state solution is actually the projection of Hamas' desire in the violence, not Israel's.
Johnston, of all the journalists currently in Gaza, was also selected to be interviewed live about the situation in Gaza on Radio National's Drive program on Monday by host Waleed Aly.
At 9:20 a.m. on Sunday morning, Cameron Green, hosting of Newsradio's Weekend Breakfast program aired a lengthy four-minute interview with al-Jazeera's commentator Marwan Bashara and conducted by Martine Dennis that reads like an infomercial for the Hamas ceasefire plan. While the interview bashed Egypt for its own ceasefire plan, at no point in the clip was it mentioned that Hamas' plan was being pushed by the network's owner Qatar - again, at risk of repeating myself, the funders of Hamas!
Marwan Bashara: This is the thing that we haven't heard before, because of the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire that was based on consultation with Israel only, or, as some say, was an Israeli initiative with Egyptian wrappings. This time around, there's a genuine, apparently, Hamas initiative that does take into consideration some very basic demands that says, look, if we're gonna arrive at a ceasefire after all of the destruction in Gaza, we cannot go back to the status quo and to being one big prison camp. That there has to be some basic changes to the status quo, at least, by lifting the siege and releasing the political prisoners.Martine Dennis: Indeed. You're pointing out what I'm looking at as well. Because it seems very much as though these Hamas set of conditions is seeking to change the reality on the ground way beyond an immediate halt in hostilities.Marwan Bashara: Well, of course. Because Hamas rejects the notion of quiet for quiet after Israeli bombardment of hundreds of communities and the killing of hundreds and thousands of casualties. Hamas now demands that we go back to the 2012 understanding and that the siege is lifted. Because, look, at the end of the day, Israel can't keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. That's actually a sign of craziness or desperation. This war is not winnable. Everyone understands that. You cannot win against 1.5 million Palestinians. You cannot win against communities. It's not a war to be waged against communities. So, at the end of the day, Gaza's going to have to live in some sort of a semi-normal situation until a just and final peace is reached. Until then, the Palestinians cannot live as subhumans in one big prison camp. The most impoverished, oldest prison camp in the world today. This is not a sustainable situation. Everyone understands that. And the situation tends to be demystified by Israel somehow as if it's a war against Hamas per se when we know for a fact Hamas' popularity has only increased over the last ten days because of the Israeli campaign.Martine Dennis: What about the issue, the issue of prisoners. In this document that we have in front of us, it says that Israel should complete its obligations under the Shalit deal. Remind us of what that was all about. Of course, that relates to the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.Marwan Bashara: You know, at the end of the day, there are two sets of prisoners in Israeli jails and Israeli prisons. There are Hamas prisoners from past eras and there were Hamas prisoners that were released in 2012. But they were put back in prison after the latest killing of three young Jewish settlers on the West Bank. So what Hamas is saying, look, we never took responsibility for that act of killing the three people. We had nothing to do with it. You had no right to - after a deal that was signed, and you released those prisoners, you have no right to put them back again in prison. So those prisoners need to be released and other prisoners need to be released as well because, you know, if you can arrive at the ceasefire and that paves the way to some sort of a settlement, certainly political prisoners would not remain in jail, and you know, there are thousands of them in Israeli jails.
Finally, on Monday morning, SBS World Radio News' Brianna Roberts used snippets of al-Jazeera's reports to create a monstrous image of Israel, airing unsubstantiated allegations of war crimes from officials in Hamas-run hospitals without giving any Israeli official a chance to respond to them.
Brianna Roberts: Doctors called it Bloody Sunday in Gaza, with more than 80 Palestinians reportedly killed in one day. At least 50 of those were from one district alone, in Shejaiya, east of Gaza City. A doctor at the Sahaba clinic in Gaza, Basman Alashi, has told al-Jazeera the situation in Gaza is shocking.Basman Alashi: They are shelling indiscriminately, just shooting at everything that is moving. A child, a woman, an old man, even an animal, they are shooting at it. This has to end. The world has to see it. The world has to hear what's going on. It's a massacre in Gaza, done by the Israeli forces.
Not satisfied with one allegation sourced from al-Jazeera, Roberts then introduced another clip from them.
Brianna Roberts: A Norwegian doctor in Gaza, Mads Gilberts, told al-Jazeera people are growing increasingly desperate.Mads Gilberts: The Israeli forces do not allow ambulances to access those people who are trapped in Shejaiya. There may be more than a hundred or hundreds. We don't know the exact number of injured in the area but the access of ambulances is a major problem. A father just came running with his daughter screaming that we need ambulances, we need ambulances, we need ambulances. 
Roberts did not interview any Israeli government of military official to allow them to respond directly to the allegations, saying only, in her own words, that while the Arab League has accused Israel of war crimes in Shedjaya, "Israel says its ground operation is necessary to target a network of Hamas tunnels."

...ABC and SBS have let Australian listeners down by using in whole or in part reports from al-Jazeera. That organisation's biased track record on its reporting on Israel, taken together with its owner's deeply-rooted relationship with Hamas, should invalidate it as a source for Australia's news organisations, and particularly publicly funded ones. 

There are many sources of audio and video that can be sourced in the current conflict. Al-Jazeera, which represents the interests of Hamas' chief allies in the Arab world, should certainly not be among them.

21 July 2014

Hamas uses UN Ambulances for terrorist operations

Hamas with its "Dead Baby Strategy" is Gaza’s worst enemy

From The Australian Editorial, July 21, 2014:

...Amid their grief, Palestinians must begin to look beyond the immediate conflict to question why their leaders, especially Hamas, have delivered them little but poverty, chaos and destruction. 

The answer, as US commentator Alan Dershowitz wrote in Saturday’s Inquirer, is the real enemies of the Palestinian people are Hamas leaders who love Palestinian children less than they hate Israel: “That’s why they are prepared to use these children as human sacrifices in their efforts to destroy the nation-state of the Jewish people.’’

The current conflict in Gaza, the worst since 2009, escalated this week after Hamas scuttled an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement that had earlier been accepted by Israel.

Yesterday’s casualties in Gaza brought the death toll to 367 Palestinians. Seven Israelis, including two civilians, have died, a toll that would be far higher if not for the Iron Dome defence system. About 400 Israeli civilians have been injured during 1330 Hamas rocket attacks on Israel this month. Not unreasonably, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is determined Israel will continue its campaign until quiet is restored and Israelis are again able to go about their business without rocket attacks. Despite US insistence that more could be done to protect civilians in Gaza, Mr Netanyahu says Israel’s shell attacks and ground offensive, launched on Friday, are carefully targeted at terrorist operations.

Civilian casualties are inevitable, however, especially when Hamas puts its people at risk by operating in heavily populated residential areas.

Without a credible ceasefire, the toll will rise, especially as Hamas refuses to allow civilians to shelter in Gaza’s many tunnels, which are the preserve of its fighters. Despite the naivety of much of the Western media in seeking to blame Israel alone for the high casualty rate, some Palestinians realise Hamas is putting their lives at risk.

For years, it has   also shown scant concern for their quality of life, heavily arming itself while ignoring the local economy and food production. Any legitimate ceasefire must acknowledge Hamas’s culpability in starting the conflict with its kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers last month. Long term, Gaza residents must understand they are on a hiding to nothing with Hamas.

14 July 2014

Antisemitism flying high at Sydney rally

From J-Wire, July 14, 2014 by Julie Nathan

The rally in support of Gaza was held outside Sydney’s Town Hall, in the plaza. On the majestic steps and podium, and in the crowd, dozens of the black jihadist Shehada flags and Hezbollah flags were flying high. Speakers were dwarfed by a huge Palestinian flag behind them.
Antisemitism was also flying high. It was open, unashamed and palpable. The images through posters and flags were not just anti-Israel, but antisemitic to its core.
A particularly odious poster was of a Star of David with a swastika embedded within it and the words “Holy Cost” playing on the word ‘Holocaust’. The implication was a mocking of the Holocaust against the Jews, while accusing the Jews of committing a holocaust against the Palestinians.
Other posters were emblazoned with themes denigrating Jews and Judaism, and equating Israel with Nazi Germany. These posters included the words: “Khazar Jews out of Palestine”, “God chosen who?”, “Gaza is the Warsaw ghetto”, “God is not your real estate agent”, “First it was Hitler….. Now it is Israel!” and “You cannot continue to victimize someone else just because you yourself were a victim once. Zionist do not do onto Palestine what Nazis did to you!
Referring to Jews as “Khazars” is a means of delegitimizing the Jewish ancestral connection to Eretz Yisrael, and of Jewish nationhood. The references to God aim to make Jewish claims appear airy-fairy whilst ignoring the historical national connections to Israel.
There were many mock-ups of the Israeli flag. Some replaced the Star of David with a swastika, others embedded a swastika inside the Star of David. One had the Israeli flag, with a swastika inside the Star of David, bespattered with red as though it was blood, and the words “See humans but no humanity”
A particularly egregious flag was one in the Nazi colours, with red background, black stripes, white circle in the centre, but instead of a swastika in the circle there was a black Star of David. Another Israeli flag had the centre peeling away to reveal a Nazi swastika flag underneath, with the description of “Nazism Zionism is the same”.
The vileness of comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany is expressed by Howard Jacobsen when he said: “Its aim is a sort of retrospective retribution, cancelling out all debts of guilt and sorrow. It is as though, by a reversal of the usual laws of cause and effect, Jewish actions of today prove that Jews had it coming to them yesterday. Berating Jews with their own history, disinheriting them of pity, as though pity is negotiable or has a sell-by date, is the latest species of Holocaust denial…”
The antisemitism displayed at this rally was not without precedent. The organizers of the rally, the Palestine Action Group (PAG), posted on its own Facebook event page a link to a neo-Nazi, white supremacist website. They linked to an article about a town in Guatemala expelling its Jewish residents.
This website was replete with swastikas, iron crosses, White Pride logos, Blood & Honour logos, and more. There was enough to indicate the kind of website it is. Perhaps the ethnic cleansing of Jews from this Guatemalan village struck a chord with those who desired the ethnic cleansing of millions of Jews from Israel/Palestine.
An earlier comment on the same Facebook event page was that “Jews will never ever have rights.” Another comment was the recitation of Muhammad saying that “Judgment Day will come only when the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, until the Jew hides behind the tree and the stone, and the tree and the stone say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah , there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him’ – except for the Gharqad tree.” U think the tree is going to protect u but instead it’s going to be ur enemy beware.”
After the rally on Sunday, comments on the PAG’s event Facebook page included: “you filthy Jewish dog… Go have a shower everyone knows u pigs only wash once a month”, “we Dont want u Jews in this country” and “These putrid people… U r the chosen ones!! Chosen to go fuk yourself you scummy chatty dogs.”
One can only surmise that the protestors, organizers, and Facebook commentators either do not understand what antisemitism (ie Jew-hatred) is, and so do not recognize it, or else they do and are very comfortable with it but recognize that antisemitism is not yet publicly respectable, and so must deny being antisemitic while engaging in antisemitism.
Perhaps it is simply a case of cognitive dissonance, as seen when the MC for the rally accused “the Jews” of “burning people” then stated that “Our struggle is not against Jews or Judaism but against the Jewish state.” One dreadful act allegedly by a handful of renegade Jews becomes a crime of which all Jews are held guilty – a classic case of antisemitism. 
To claim that one is not against the Jewish people or the Jewish religion but is only against the Jewish state whilst at the same time vilifying Jews, denying their national rights and mocking their religion, is nothing less than antisemitism.
Lee Rhiannon, Greens MP, claimed that “Israel is targeting the civilians of Gaza with these bombings, and that is shameful and that is what we condemn.” This is the ‘big lie’ at the heart of Rhiannon’s message. Israel does more than any other nation at war to avoid civilian casualties. It is Hamas, not Israel, which fires indiscriminately in the hope of killing civilians. It is Hamas, not Israel, which uses its own people as human shields and makes mosques, hospitals and schools military targets by stashing weapons and munitions there. Rhiannon has uttered a contemporary equivalent of the ancient Blood Libel against Jews.
It is about time these people grew up, stopped hiding behind their fraudulent mantras and acknowledged their racism against Jews. If they want to be taken seriously, they need to discard their antisemitism.

Real issue: no peace partner for Israel

From THE AUSTRALIAN, JULY 14, 2014, by Jamie Hyams:

ISRAEL has again been forced to defend its civilians against unprovoked and indiscriminate massive rocket and other terror attacks from Hamas, a partner in the new Palestinian unity government, and kindred groups in Gaza.

Hundreds of rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip, not only into southern Israel, but at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and even further north. The rocket fire started on June 12, the day Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel were kidnapped and murdered.

Israel responded at first with low-intensity raids, stating several times that if the rockets stopped, so would the retaliation.

Hamas instead significantly escalated the rockets, and attempted to infiltrate Israel by tunnel and by sea, forcing Israel to degrade Hamas's ability to continue these attacks.

Israel is targeting only the Gaza terrorist infrastructure, including rocket-launching and storage sites, training camps, the houses of terrorists used as command centres, tunnels and terrorists responsible for the attacks.

Approximately two-thirds of those killed have been combatants but, despite Israel's unique policy of warning the residents of any house about to be bombed, Gaza civilians have, tragically, been killed, a direct result of the terrorists' longstanding tactic of using civilians as human shields. This is a war crime known as perfidy.

Hamas has now exacerbated its double war crime of targeting Israeli civilians while deliberately and callously endangering Gaza civilians by ordering those warned by Israel to evacuate to stay where they are. Hamas hopes this will either deter the attacks, or result in casualties that can be used as propaganda against Israel.

Israel has now been widely condemned for casualties resulting from attacks on a mosque and the Gaza police chief's house, but these buildings were used for storing weapons.

There have also been calls for a ceasefire, but Israel can't be expected to halt its attacks while Hamas and the other terrorist groups, which initiated all this, continue to terrorise and immobilise Israeli civilians.

Furthermore, it is untenable for Israel to allow the terrorists to maintain the capacity to subject so much of Israel to their rockets any time they choose. No other country would put up with these constant attacks, and there is no reason why Israel should.

Despite all this, some hold Israel solely responsible for all of the problems. ...For example, they incorrectly describe the murdered Israeli youths as "settlers" but, even if they had been, their murders would have been no less abhorrent than the revenge murder of 16-year-old Palestinian Mohamed Abu Kdher.

Yet while this repugnant murder was strongly condemned by all sections of Israeli society, including the far Right, the murder of the Israeli youths, while condemned by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, was widely celebrated by Palestinians. Many violently obstructed the Israeli forces in their search for the boys, causing deaths and leading to many of the arrests. Frequently, the soldiers were forced to defend their lives.

There won't be streets, squares or soccer tournaments named after the Israeli terrorists, and their families won't receive generous pensions for life, which is how the Palestinian Authority rewards Palestinian terrorists who kill Israelis.

While the comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the murderers of the Israelis were strong, he was referring to the killers, not to all Palestinians. By contrast, the Facebook page of Abbas's Fatah party said on July 7: "Sons of Zion, this is an oath to the Lord of the Heavens: Prepare all the bags you can for your body parts". Fatah groups in Gaza have announced that they too have been firing rockets at Israel.

...Tragically, large numbers of Palestinian youths have been killed in the conflict since 2000, but many were participating in combat, spurred by the constant incitement to attack Israel, while others were caught in crossfire or used as human shields. Palestinian children of 12 and older have been arrested but only because they have committed potentially deadly crimes. The numbers are relatively small: about 700 a year out of a population of 2.5 million, compared, for example, with 10,937 juveniles arrested in Victoria in 2012-13 alone.

...The real problem is the lack of a peace partner. The Palestinian government is made up of Fatah, which has walked away from generous Israeli offers of a state in 2000, 2001 and 2008, has now walked away from negotiations, and insists on flooding Israel with millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees; and Hamas, which is committed to Israel's destruction.

There will only be peace when both sides are prepared to negotiate in good faith and make painful concessions, and true friends of the Palestinians should be trying to convince them of this essential truth, rather than serving as apologists for their misdeeds.

09 July 2014

Israel under attack, launched defensive operation "Protective Edge"

From a Statement from the Embassy of Israel in Australia, 10th July, 2014: 

Since June 12th Israel has been under attack. Militants from Gaza have launched over 200 rockets across the border into Israel in a deliberate attempt by the Hamas terror organization to escalate violence.

...Our civilians have found themselves the victims of constant, indiscriminate and relentless attack. Yesterday, terrorists in Gaza launched a myriad of rockets toward Israel. Israeli families have been forced into shelters and schools closed. All normal daily activities have been impacted.

As an act of self-defense, Israel launched operation "Protective Edge," to counter these incessant attacks. The sole objective is to defend Israeli citizens and secure a life without constant threat.

In carrying out this operation, Israel will operate with the utmost care to avoid civilian casualties and collateral damage, thereby targeting Hamas and other terrorist organizations, their operatives and infrastructure.

Hamas’ deadly assault on the lives of individuals and the lives of innocent citizens must stop. Israel will defend itself and ensure the safety of all its citizens. Israeli citizens have the right to live safely and peace.

06 July 2014

Israel Condemns another Terrorist Murder

Statement from the Embassy of Israel in Australia, 7th July, 2014:

Shocked, bewildered and devastated, the State of Israel stands together with the rest of the world to resolutely condemn the reprehensible and inexplicable murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir.

We wish to send our most heartfelt condolences to Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s family.

This act of terrorism was perpetrated by people who have no place in Israeli society. This abhorrent deed is not reflective of our values, or our Israeli and Jewish spirit, and it does not blend with any part of our moral fibre.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already pledged that
“the perpetrators of this horrific crime, which must be resolutely condemned in the most forceful language, will face the full weight of the law. I know that in our society, the society of Israel, there is no place for such murderers.” 
The State of Israel will work tirelessly to see that we uphold democracy and the rule of law. We will take determined action against those who violate it. We will bring the perpetrators of the violent murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir to justice.

03 July 2014

In memory of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Sha'ar and Naftali Frenkel

4 July 2014:
In memory of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Sha'ar and Naftali Frenkel who were murdered by terrorists in the West Bank.
We all followed the news intently for the last 2 weeks, and united in hope and prayer that the boys would return safely to the arms of their families.
The news of the boys’ murders struck at the heart and soul of Klal Yisrael.
Every one of us grieves with the families. Those of us who is a parent imagines how he would feel if these were his children.
In fact it could have been our children. The murderers did this because they were Jewish children, and they would have just as readily done it to any Jewish child. This terrorism is an attack on each and every Jew.
The terrorists who did this are driven by hatred and false hopes based on myths and lies. Myths and lies that they spread around the world, with great success… 
So how do we respond to this attack, and this grief?
My response is to redouble my efforts to defend Israel and the Jewish people. To renounce the lies.

We each have a responsibility to defend ourselves in the war for hearts and minds. Stay informed. Speak up…

01 July 2014

Naftali, Gilad and Eyal Will Be Buried Side by Side

From Arutz Sheva, 1/7/2014:

The three families agreed to hold a joint funeral in Modiin, Tuesday afternoon at 5:30 p.m.

Murdered (L to R): Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha'ar, Naftali Frenkel
Murdered (L to R): Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha'ar, Naftali Frenkel
 courtesy of the families

The families of murdered yeshiva boys Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Sha'ar and Eyal Yifrah have agreed to hold bury the three side by side in Modiin. Each boy's funeral will begin at the community in which he lived. All three communities are within a 15-km radius of Modiin.

The funeral of Eyal Yifrah Hy”d will begin at 3:30 p.m., at the Mishkenot Neria synagogue on 24 Pinhas Ben Yair street, in Elad.

The funeral of Naftali Frenkel Hy”d will begin at 4:00 p.m., at the synagogue in Nof Ayalon.

The funeral of Gilad Sha'ar Hy”d will begin at 3:30 at the central synagogue in the community of Talmon.

At 5:30, the funerals will merge when the boys are buried side by side in the cemetery at Modiin.
Authorities have just announced, as of 10 am Tuesday, that the official legal and halakhic identification of the bodies of Frenkel (16), Sha'ar (16), and Yifrah (19) has been completed. 
Officials stated that while the bodies found Monday evening wereassumed immediately by those at the scene to be those of the abducted teens, the official, thorough confirmation process took several hours.

An IDF source told Arutz Sheva Tuesday that shots could be heard in the recording of the boys' fateful call to police hotline 100, shortly after one of the teens whispered "we've been kidnapped!"

The source also laid out a basic timeline of events. After the boys entered the vehicle at the Alon Shvut intersection at Gush Etzion, the vehicle traveled west, then made a U-turn toward Hevron.
Shortly after, one of the boys called police, and the shots were fired. The abductors apparently realized that police had been alerted and assumed that they would shortly be tracked down. They may therefore have decided on the spot to murder the boys and get away as fast as they could. They had no way of knowing that the emergency call had been mishandled by police, and that the search for the boys would not begin until eight hours later.

On Friday morning, the car where the abduction occurred was found near the Palestinian Arab settlement of Dura, along with a rifle and ammunition casings. 

While maintaining that the boys are considered to be alive until proved to be otherwise, security forces have in fact been aware that the most likely possibility is that the abduction went wrong, with the terrorists murdering the boys sometime late Thursday night, June 12, or early on the 13th. This is indeed what happened. The boys were then buried in a shallow grave near Halhul sometime before Friday morning.