Annals of the ceasefire

The supposed 72-hour ceasefire agreed to by Hamas has been breached in a major way by Hamas. As I pick up the news on Twitter, Hamas continues to fire its rockets. A Hamas suicide bomber emerged from a Rafah tunnel and blew himself up on IDF soldiers. Two IDF soldiers were killed in the attack.

And IDF officer Hadar Goldin of the Givati Brigade was kidnapped this morning. His fellow soldiers are hunting house to house for him. Kidnapping a soldier — that’s probably a red line for Israel, a red line of the pre-Obama variety — but we shall see.

The Times of Israel is tracking the events of the day here. Jake Tapper tweets a link to this CNN story that reliably gets it wrong. According to Tapper, the ceasefire “unravels,” which is one way of putting it. Hugh Hewitt lends Tapper a hand (below).

The UN is of course a key supporter of Hamas, and good for nothing, but this may be helpful as well, at least for a few minutes.

Jonathan Schanzer comments on Twitter: “Like the firing of bigger rockets & 1st tunnel attack at the start of this, Hamas is inviting Israel deeper into Gaza and with more forces.” Unfortunately, however, Barack Obama and John Kerry have time on their hands and they remain on Israel’s case.

UPDATE: Legal Insurrection has a post with a live video and Twitter feed here. The Washington Post has the usual farrago here.

ONE MORE: Omri Ceren sends this email update:

Around 90 minutes into the ceasefire Hamas launched a suicide attack. Two soldiers were killed and Hamas managed to kidnap a 3rd. The kidnapping will trigger a cascade of diplomatic and geopolitical consequences. The Qataris were reportedly central to crafting the ceasefire, and may have promised to ‘deliver’ Hamas in one sense or another (http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.608372). Their credibility will take a hit.

The Egyptians were the official brokers of the ceasefire. They will be seething at Hamas, and diplomatic retribution is almost inevitable. And then there are the analysts who went all-in on Hamas being an actor who can be dealt with, some of whom were implying last night that Israel could have stopped the fighting sooner. They’ll be called on to reevaluate.

But the immediate consequence is that the war is now set to go on for a long time. Gershon Baskin, who has been Israel’s top negotiator on Hamas matters and was a key figure in the talks over kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, tweeted a few minutes ago that “Al Qassam just signed the death sentenced of many Hamas leaders. There will not be another Schalit deal.” (https://twitter.com/gershonbaskin/status/495178935559135233).

The coverage over the next few days is likely to be straightfoward. The Israelis said very openly “we’re really worried about ceasefires, because Hamas has used every single one of them to regroup and attack.” The international community responded “continued fighting is unacceptable, and so there must be a ceasefire.” The Israelis accepted a 72-hour truce. And here we are.

Thoughts from the ammo line

Our friend Ammo Grrrll returns with a modest proposal: “’Let’s Move!’ from one chair to another.” She writes:

Though regular readers of this column will not be surprised to hear that Ammo Grrrll is not a general fan of either Obama, I do have some sympathy for the First Lady’s campaign to reduce the size of America’s Weeble Children. The “Let’s Move 60!” campaign to get the inert little lard-butts to play hard for an hour a day would be as incomprehensible to someone in the 50s as a pitch to get men to just TRY sex. “C’mmmmon, just once, it’s FUN!”

In the ’50s whenever we weren’t in school, our mothers threw us out of the house at first light and unlocked the doors when our daddies came home for supper. Oh, if we were lucky, we might have a peanut butter sandwich on Wonder Bread handed to us through the doggie door, but, in general, we were on our own for vast hours a day. If we had a little pocket change, we might split a Popsicle or purchase several penny packages of dyed sugar called “Lik-M-Aid” that you licked out of your grubby little unsanitized hand.

And all we did was run around like lunatics and play death-defying games that are now illegal. Like Mumblety-peg which involved a working jack-knife, or Dodge Ball, Red Rover, Keep Away or an uplifting game called Kill The Man With the Ball, which was everything the name implies. Now the little Special Snowflakes need a helmet to play Candyland.

We played whatever game was in season – baseball, basketball, football – either until it was too dark to see the ball, or until our mothers called us for the third time, using our MIDDLE NAMES, or until the first time our fathers whistled. Oops, crap, that’s DADDY – gotta run! Daddies were in charge and everybody had one. Everybody. Some were nice, most were scary, veterans home from the War, and all adult males were Misters (or Sirs below the Mason-Dixon Line.)

Even the girly-girls who were less tomboyish than Ammo Grrrll, jumped rope for hours, roller-skated, ice-skated, (sometimes on the same early June day in Minnesota), and rode bicycles. And that was the town kids, of course. The country kids had chores up the wazoo. Homegrown crews of little farm laborers only with fewer rights than migrants. Where was Cesar Chavez when my friend Loretta had to pick rocks out of fields or weed the strawberries all weekend?

And not ONE kid was fat, not one! Tubby, in the Little Lulu comics was more or less mythological. Now our kids sit and play electronic games or watch television or fiddle with their phones and computers. Eating giant plates of fast food instead of nourishing Lik-M-Aid. No wonder they are fat. They don’t burn 50 calories in a day.

To me there are few sights more pathetic than an entire family ignoring each other in a restaurant, each person tapping away on his or her own phone. Brothers should be punching each other and informing the father who started it; and the mother should be carping about how much cheaper she could have made the chicken at home and the younger sister should be repeating everything her big sister says until the big sister bawls in frustration. You know, RELATING! Good clean family fun!

Barack Obama tries to save Hamas

Khaled Abu Toameh argues that John Kerry’s Gaza diplomacy is intended to save Hamas. And he isn’t alone in holding this view. It is shared, not without reason, by the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia — all of whom were bypassed by Kerry’s initial diplomatic foray in favor of Turkey and Qatar who support Hamas:

That Kerry chose to invite Qatar and Turkey — the only two countries that support Hamas — to the [Paris] conference [on the war in Gaza] was received with anger and shock by the Palestinian Authority and its Arab allies.

The Paris conference was actually a spit in the face of anti-Hamas forces in the Arab world.

By failing to invite the PA to the conference, Kerry indicated that he does not see any role for Abbas and his loyalists in a post-Hamas Gaza Strip. Kerry chose to conduct indirect negotiations with Hamas through their patrons in Doha and Ankara.

By ignoring Egypt, which considers Hamas a threat to its national security and has been conducting its own war against the Islamist movement over the past year, Kerry sent a message to the Arabs and Muslims according to which the U.S. Administration is on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies.

The message isn’t John Kerry’s, of course; it’s President Obama’s. As we have said, Obama, blinded by his leftist, “liberationist” ideology, sees the Muslim Brotherhood as the wave of the future in the Middle East. True to his ideology and wanting to be on “the right side of History,” Obama has tilted toward the Brotherhood consistently.

He did so in Egypt by supporting Mohammad Morsi, the Brotherhood’s man in Cairo. He did so in Syria by backing Ahmed Mouaz al-Khatib who is closely associated with the Damascus Branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Obama also tilted towards the Brotherhood during the last war in Gaza. At that time, he helped broker a peace agreement through Egypt, whose leader was Morsi. This time, with Egypt no longer under the Brotherhood’s control, Obama looked elsewhere for a “mediator.”

What are the consequences for Gaza of Obama’s tilt towards the Brotherhood? First, by relying on the Brotherhood’s backers, Qatar and Turkey, as mediators Obama seems implicitly to reject the demilitarization of Gaza, which is the only way to prevent future shelling of Israel and future wars in Gaza. Qatar and Turkey will never back the disarming of Hamas.

Second, by effectively taking demilitarization off the table, Obama helps Hamas maintain its power in Gaza. As noted above, the U.S. administration apparently desires no role in Gaza for Abbas and the Palestinian Authority — an odd position given the administration’s claims that Israel has a genuine peace partner in Abbas and the PA.

Obama’s defenders argue that Obama naturally looked to Qatar and Turkey as “mediators” because they are the ones with influence over Hamas, and therefore the ones who might have been able to bring about an immediate cease fire. But Obama’s desire for an immediate cease fire is further evidence of his desire to save Hamas.

Hamas’ enemies would prefer to see Hamas degraded if not crushed. Sadly, Barack Obama is not among Hamas’ enemies. Worse, he is prepared to play the role of its savior.

John Thune Rips Obama’s Feckless Foreign Policy

Hosting the Laura Ingraham show for the last two mornings, I had the great privilege of interviewing three of the people in public life whom I respect the most: Jeff Sessions, John Thune and Marco Rubio. I posted my interview with Rubio here. Sessions will be coming soon. And this is my interview, this morning, with Senator John Thune on America’s declining influence around the world. It is an interesting conversation, I think, and Thune’s strength, decisiveness and sound judgment come through clearly. Listening to men like Marco Rubio and John Thune is a reminder that America can do so much better.

Jeff Sessions Holds the Line, Blocks Democrat Immigration Travesty

There was high drama on the Senate floor this evening. Harry Reid brought on for a vote President Obama’s $2.7 billion proposal to support illegals from Central America who are flooding across the border, in the form of a supplemental budget request. An extremely knowledgeable Senate insider offers this blow-by-blow account of what happened:

Harry Reid filled the amendment tree on the supplemental, meaning no amendments can get votes. Sessions offered a motion to table the filled tree with stated purpose of making room to get a vote on the Cruz amendment.

“Filling the tree” has been Reid’s preferred strategy for years. It effectively shuts all Republicans out of the legislative process, while insulating Democrats from having to vote against popular proposals. No prior Senate Majority Leader has used this tactic with anything like Reid’s consistency. The Cruz amendment would have barred President Obama from granting illegal executive amnesty as he has repeatedly threatened to do.

So – and this is critical – a vote against waiving the tree is THE vote on whether you support allowing the president to issue an administrative amnesty. Sessions’ motion to table failed by a vote of 43 yeas and 52 nays, with all Republicans supporting Sen. Sessions.

This was Sessions’ effort to block Obama from issuing an unconstitutional amnesty to 5 to 6 million illegal immigrants, as he has promised activists he will do.

The only Dem Senator to vote with Republicans to try and prohibit the President’s illegal issuance of work permits to 5-6 million illegal aliens was Senator Manchin. Even the Senate Democrats who claimed to oppose the executive actions (such as Senator Pryor), voted with Reid, Durbin and Schumer to block Sessions’ motion and thereby support the President’s action. Embattled Senator Landrieu initially voted with Sessions, then later switched her vote to ‘no.’ I’m not positive yet, but I believe some other vulnerable Democratic senators may have conveniently not voted.

The voters won’t forget in November. Senator Sessions delivered a ringing defense of American workers, in opposition to Obama’s planned amnesty:

[This executive action would come] at a time when millions of Americans are out of work. President Obama’s plan is a direct affront to every single unemployed American—particularly those in our poorest most vulnerable American communities. Who will speak for them? Who will give them a voice? Will this Congress? Will we hear their pleas?

The President’s planned work permits for illegal immigrants is in addition, then, to this already huge flow of low-wage labor into the United States…. Isn’t it time we did something for American workers? Isn’t it time, after forty years of lawless borders and open immigration, we looked out for them?

Sessions lost the vote to hear the Cruz amendment, as the Democrats want to preserve the option of lawlessness. But he wasn’t done:

Just now, Sessions raised a budget point of order against the Senate supplemental.

The point of order was based on the fact that the $2.7 billion was entirely borrowed money. There were no offsetting spending cuts or tax increases, as required by current pay-as-you-go laws.

It required 60 votes to waive that point of order. After failing to table the filled amendment tree, Sessions raised the point of order. Appropriations Committee Chair Mikulski, author of the legislation, moved to waive all points of order on the bill. Dems failed to waive the point of order, by a vote of 50 yeas and 44 nays, with Manchin again voting with Republicans.

So the Senate immigration supplemental appropriations bill is dead.

This is very good news, although of course it would be better news if Congress would stand up to the president’s lawless and unconstitutional determination to repeal federal statutes by executive decree. For now, though, let’s be grateful, once again, to Senator Jeff Sessions, who stood in the gap and, this time, prevailed.

On September 10, 2001, Clinton Explained Why He Didn’t Kill bin Laden

An extraordinary historical nugget has been unearthed in Australia. In September 2001, Bill Clinton was in that country. Only hours before the terrorists struck the World Trade Center, Clinton was talking to a group in Melbourne. Terrorism and bin Laden came up in that discussion, and Clinton said that he had had an opportunity to kill bin Laden when the terrorist was in Kandahar, but he had decided not to do so because the strike (the nature of which was not defined) would also have killed 300 innocent people. Here it is, as aired on Melbourne television:

Of course, one shouldn’t assume that Clinton’s account, as it related to his motives, was true. He evidently thought it put him in a favorable light, although it is a story that I don’t think he repeated after September 11. What this audio tells us for certain is that Clinton did pass up a chance to kill bin Laden, for whatever reason. This has been the subject of some debate over the years. Clinton’s 2001 admission that he could have had bin Laden killed but decided not to for humanitarian reasons is quite different from the defense he mounted in 2006.

Over the years, Clinton’s defenders have generally soft-pedaled claims that Clinton could have killed bin Laden but failed to do so. For example, in early 2008 FactCheck.org wrote:

Q: Did Bill Clinton pass up a chance to kill Osama bin Laden?

A: Probably not, and it would not have mattered anyway as there was no evidence at the time that bin Laden had committed any crimes against American citizens.

Honest journalist tweets, with good reason, “out of gaza, far from Hamas retaliation”

Honest journalism from Gaza about Hamas’ tactics has been difficult to come by. Anti-Israeli media bias may have something to do with this. But threats by Hamas against honest journalists are probably a bigger factor.

Consider the case of Italian journalist Gabriele Barbati. On Tuesday, he tweeted that the deaths of Palestinian children on a playground caused by rocket fire were the result of a misfired Hamas rocket. “Misfired rocket killed children in Shati. Witness: militants rushed and cleared debris,” Barbati wrote.

Significantly, Barbati tweeted this only after he had left Gaza. In the same tweet he wrote, “Out of Gaza far from Hamas retaliation.”

Reporters wishing to remain in Gaza play it differently. The Wall Street Journal’s Middle East Correspondent Tamer El-Ghobashy tweeted a photo of the damage at the Shati playground with a caption that supported Barbati’s version of the attack: “An outside wall on the campus of Gaza’s main hospital was hit by a strike. Low level damage suggest Hamas misfire.”

But soon thereafter, he deleted that caption and replaced it with this: “The outer wall of Gaza City’s main hospital was struck. Unclear what the origin of the projectile is.”

El-Ghobashy claimed that he changed the caption because the first one was speculative. But El-Ghobashy’s Wall Street Journal colleague Nick Casey had similarly deleted a photo showing Hamas officials in Shifa hospital. Have the WSJ’s journalists suddenly been afflicted by an inability to meet whatever journalistic standards may apply to tweets? Or are they being intimidated into changing them?

Here’s a clue. It was in the same Shifia hospital that Hamas interrogated French-Palestinian journalist Radjaa Abu Dagga and threatened to throw him out of Gaza.

Liberation — the left-wing French newspaper — reported this incident and included a description of Hamas fighters, dressed in civilian clothing with guns hidden under their shirts, gathered a few meters from the emergency room. But Liberation later deleted the article at Abu Dagga’s request.

Here’s another clue. Reporters Without Borders has confirmed to Liberation that many journalists have reported being threatened by Hamas. And pro-Hamas journalists have themselves reported, gleefully, that correspondent Harry Fear of RT was told to leave Gaza after he tweeted about Hamas rockets being fired into Israel from near his hotel.

But leaving Gaza is not always an option for journalists. Last week, Sophia Jones of the Huffington Post tweeted: “The Israeli side of the border with Gaza was briefly open today, but Hamas did not let journalists leave Gaza.”

The choice for journalists may amount to this: tell the truth about Hamas and be forced to leave Gaza or toe Hamas’ line and be forced to stay.

Barbati made the right call. The reporting of those who play it the other way becomes inherently suspect.