In separate reports, Israeli government, international military officers praise IDF conduct in Gaza operation

The Israeli government released a report Sunday on Operation Protective Edge, last summer’s operation against the Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hamas in Gaza, ahead of a report to be issued by the United Nations Human Rights Council that is expected to be highly critical of Israel’s conduct during the conflict. The original head of the commission, William Schabas, was forced to resign in disgrace after the revelation that he had conflicts of interest. The report illustrates that Israel has a robust enough system to conduct internal investigations of its soldiers at war. Additionally, it makes clear that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operated in a highly professional manner against an enemy using human shields. The IDF “repeatedly warned residents to evacuate,” dropping leaflets and delivering text messages and phone calls, "indicating when IDF forces would be operating in the area” – in other words, putting Israeli soldiers at greater risk to protect the lives of Palestinian civilians.

Hamas militants stored weapons and operated in mosques, UN facilities, schools, and hospitals. In a combat manual discovered by the IDF, Hamas explicitly urged its fighters to take advantage of Israel’s careful tactics and also illustrated the benefits that would accrue to the organization in the event of the destruction of civilian’s homes: “This increases the hatred of the citizens towards the attackers and increases their gathering [support] around the city defenders [Hamas].”

A delegation of 11 high-ranking former military officers and senior politicians from around the world submitted a report to the United Nations on Friday, buttressing Israel’s claims. The group wrote that “during Operation Protective Edge last summer…Israel not only met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict, but in many cases significantly exceeded that standard.” They continued, “Each of our own armies is of course committed to protecting civilian life during combat. But none of us is aware of any army that takes such extensive measures as did the IDF last summer to protect the lives of the civilian population in such circumstances.”

Sen. Bob Corker (R – Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to President Barack Obama, criticizing his administration for their “breathtaking” retreat from their “original goals and statements” at the beginning of nuclear talks with Iran, The Hill reported today.

“It is breathtaking to see how far from your original goals and statements the P5+1 have come during negotiations with Iran,” Corker (R-Tenn.) said in the letter, referring to a group that includes the U.S., the United Kingdom, China, France, and Russia plus Germany.

Corker said negotiators “have moved” from a trying to strike a 20-year agreement, to a 10-year one and seem ready to let Tehran continue to develop its ballistic missile effort and maintain research and development for advanced nuclear centrifuges.

“I understand the dynamics that can develop when a group believes they are close to a deal and how your aides may view this as a major legacy accomplishment. However, as you know, the stakes here are incredibly high and the security implications of these negotiations are difficult to overstate,” Corker warned.

In the full text of the letter, available on his website, Corker provided more details of his criticism.

I am alarmed by recent reports that your team may be considering allowing the deal to erode even further. Only you and those at the table know whether there is any truth to these allegations, and I hope reports indicating potential concessions on inspections and on the full disclosure of Iran’s possible military dimensions (PMDs) are inaccurate.

Regarding inspections, surely your administration and those involved in the negotiations will adhere to an “anytime, anywhere” standard. No bureaucratic committees. No moving the ball. No sites off limits.

You have publicly acknowledged Iran’s long history of covert nuclear activity. We all are aware of the importance of having a full understanding of Iran’s nuclear program, including PMDs of those activities as part of any agreement. Yet, recently I have heard of a potential cumbersome process where the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), with no confirmation from Iran, will make PMD determinations about Iran’s nuclear program in order to protect Iran’s national pride, meaning Iran will not have to publicly admit to these activities. Today, the IAEA cannot get access to information Iran agreed to share pursuant to a 2013 agreement. By not requiring Iran to explicitly disclose their previous weaponization efforts on the front end of any final agreement, we will likely never know, in a timely fashion, the full extent of Iranian capabilities.

Tablet magazine published a critique Monday written by former Defense Department official Matthew Kroenig, who called the administration’s willingness to allow Iran to maintain its capacity for uranium enrichment a “retreat” from America’s 70-year-old bipartisan nonproliferation policy.

Last month, legislation coauthored by Corker requiring the president to submit any nuclear deal with Iran to Congressional review was signed into law after overwhelming approval by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. (via


An Israeli delegation of zookeepers and veterinarians have arrived in Tbilisi to assist with recapturing and containing the escaped animals from the city’s zoo following the devastating floods in Georgia’s capital on June 14. The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo and Ramat Gan Safari Park experts are on the ground to help make the facility safe for the staff and animals as the water recedes.Almost everyone saw and shared the uproarious photos of bears and hippos roaming the streets of Tbilisi on social media, but the seriousness of the events shocked zoos around the world. “It’s a terrible shock, it’s a terrible situation, the whole city is in chaos,” Sigalit Hertz-Dvir, Director of Marketing at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, tells ISRAEL21c. “It’s not only the animals that died but they lost three members of staff while trying to save the animals. We thought they might need help from outside because the situation is horrible in the city. Tbilisi Zoo administration said it lost more than half of its animals, including all its tigers, and most of its lions and bears when flash flooding destroyed the animal’s enclosures. While some of the animals escaped, most of the animals drowned or were shot dead inside the zoo park boundaries, according to reports. Only three of the zoo’s original 20 wolves and three of its 17 penguins survived, say reports. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on local zookeepers and veterinarians to assist their Georgian counterparts, and sent Dr. Nili Avni-Magen, Head Veterinarian at the Jerusalem Zoo, and Dr. Yigal Horowitz, chief veterinarian of the Ramat Gan Safari, with medical supplies to the wrecked zoo. “Zoo associations are all connected and we have people learning together, working together, and [joining forces] on the efforts for animals in danger of extinction. Everything is done together because no zoo can succeed by itself,” Hertz-Dvir tells ISRAEL21c. “When a member of one of the zoo organizations is in trouble, we do our best to help. We feel we can help. We have a lot of experience, and knowledge in this area.” (via Israel21c)

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