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August 22, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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August 22, 2014

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PAGE 8A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 22, 2014 By Josh Hasten With the withdrawal of ground troops from Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it completed its mission of dismantling a network of terrorist tunnels. But how did Hamas get its hands on materials to build the tunnels in the first place? Lt. Col (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, an expert on the Mid- dle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Pub- lic Affairs (JCPA), explained that some of the materials, including cement and iron, were smuggled into Gaza by A Bissel Yiddish While mensch is the ideal term to describe Joan Pohl, you could also use words like baleboste, Maven or forsher. Pohl has been teaching a monthly Yiddish class for the Jewish Pavilion for several years. The class meets monthly at Chambrel in Longwood. While some of the participants are Chambrel residents, many others come from the general community. They grew up in a household where Yiddish was spoken by par- ents or grandparents. Many students understand the language but do not speak it fluently. Pohl is a speech therapist with dramatic flair who knows how to bring Yiddish to life. She tells and pantomines vibrant stories that involve class participation and lots of humor. At the end of each lesson, students gather around Mimi Shader at the piano and sing Yiddish songs. Everyone in the community is welcome to join the fun including those who do not speak Yiddish. Classes are held the third Thursday of the month at 10:30 a.m. For more information contact Jewish Pavilion at 407678-9363. Hamas through other tun- nels from Egypt. Yet due to pressure from international human rights organizations, until recently Israel itself was also providing Gazawith those materials. While the materials were earmarked for civilian construction projects, Halevi said that in reality, they were diverted by Hamas to create the network of attack tunnels. "The pressure [on Israel to transfer building materials] was enormous and [was put on] by several [local] human rights organizations and international [ones], and was very effective in reaching out to the world's public opinion, including the EU (European Union) and the U.S. adminis- tration," Halevi told "And that, in a way, helped Hamas's efforts in building these tunnels." Numerous times during the ground operation--which destroyed 32 cross-border tunnels, according to the IDF--terrorists succeeded in using the tunnels to sneak under the border, popping up on the Israeli side with the goal of carrying out mega- attacks against civilians who live in kibbutzim and other communities. A significant number of IDF troops were killed in the process of thwart- ing these attacks. A recent report by The Jerusalem Post indicated that Israel's political and security echelon has come under criti- cism over the fact that little action was taken to address the tunnel threat following a 2007 state comptroller's report that revealed their potential danger. According to the comptroller's report, one such tunnel was used in the kidnapping of former IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who was eventually freed by Hamas in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. JCPA's Halevi said Hamas has been digging hundreds of tunnels for operational purposes since the year 2000. He told that human rights organizations who pressured Israel "overlooked or ignored Israeli warnings about the use of these materi- als to build Hamas's military infrastructure." "So, in the name of hu- manitarian support for Gaza, Hamas misused the trust of the international community to build the infrastructure to attack Israel, with the help of human rights organizations," said Halevi. Regarding Operation Pro- tective Edge, Halevi said that while the IDF "has had many achievements in fighting these tunnels, the problem is that Hamas during the last few years invested a lot of resources in digging them for use as a strategic tool against Israel, or as a Hamas spokes- man said this past March, 'We are not under siege anymore, we are imposing a siege on Israel.'" Guy Inbar--a spokesman for Coordination of Govern- ment Activities in the Ter- ritories (COGAT), a branch of the Israeli Defense Ministry that facilitates humanitar- ian issues and infrastructure projects in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip--told JNS. org that his unit had been charged with transferring building materials to the pri- vate sector in Gaza, but that those transfers were halted in October 2013 "after Israel discovered a terror tunnel from Gaza to Israel that was to be used to kidnap Israeli soldiers or civilians." As a result, "a new mecha- nism was put in place with U.N. agencies to monitor the materials that go into Gaza, since we understood that some of the building material went to Hamas, and Hamas used it for building tunnels and even their [underground] headquarters," said Inbar. While declining to divulge exactly what percentage of Israeli construction materials in fact ended up in the hands of Hama, Inbar said, "I would like to emphasize thatafter ex- A~ Information 866.742.6655 www.serio.usiUness.orff/cornerstone MEDICARE, MEDICAID, AND MOST COMMERCIAL INSURANCES ACCEPTED 5019096 omerstone HOSPICE &. PALLIATIVE CARE ~.bur local, not-for-profit Hospice, licensed since 1984. IDF Spokesperson/Flash90 Israeli soldiers from the Givati Brigade seen at the entrance to a Hamas terror tunnel during Operation Protective Edge. aminingtheamountofcement restrictions have done signifi- used for those tunnels, we cant damage to the economy know that each tunnel could inGaza. Furthermore, shesaid have been used to produce at her organization believes the least a three-story hospital." restrictions have been inef- Inbar also would not com- fective in stopping the Hamas ment on the amount of pres- tunnels, claiming that the sure being levied on Israel materials used in their con- by NGOs to transfer cement struction were brought into and other materials into GazafromEgyptviathesmug- Gaza without restriction, gling tunnels when prices But he said that there are were low--before the current "international organizations regime in Cairo cracked down workingin Gazawhoknowthe on such smuggling. exact problem, because of the When asked how she can Hamas terror organization's know with certainty whether rule over the Gaza Strip." the cement used by Hamas to Israel is still working with build tunnels originated in those internationalorganiza- Egypt or Israel, Bashi replied, tions to assist with civilian "That is the wrong question." projects, including schools, Thenwhat does Bashi believe hospitals, and medical clinics, should be asked? according to Inbar. Even as "Is it legitimate to prevent they come under fire, he said, civilian goods from entering civilian workers from COGAT Gaza?" said Bashi, adding remain at the Israel-Gaza that the "damage to the border crossings to transfer humanitarian and economic aid to the people of Gaza. needs [of the people in Gaza] "I hope people will under- far outweighs any security stand the problem we have benefit." with this terror organization, Halevi said thatwhile Israel Hamas, which damages the might have stopped allowing qualityoflifeofthepopulation cement into Gaza for the in Gaza," Inbar said. time being, America has still One of the organizations promised$47millioninaidto pressuring Israel to ease re- Gaza as a result of Operation strictions on supplying build- Protective Edge. ing materials to Gaza--even "After each round of vio- during the latest conflict--is lence it's the EU, the Ameri- Gisha, an Israeli non-profit cans, Qatar, and other coun- whose goal is to protect the trieswhorushtogivesupport freedom of movement for [to Gaza]," he said. "And this Palestinians, particularly the support, withoutany effective residents of Gaza. control of the funds, enables Sari Bashi, Gisha's founder, Hamas to rebuild its military told that the Israeli capabilities." ngagement Molly Renee Sinert and Stephen Lowell Ellis Maria and Merrill Sinert of Winter Park are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter, Molly Renee Sinert, to Stephen Lowell Ellis, son of Carol and Richard Ellis of Winter Park. The bride-elect graduated from Seminole High School and the University of Florida where she re- ceived a Pharm-D. The groom-elect graduated from Winter Park High School and the University of Florida, where he also received a Pharm-D. The couple resides in Jupiter, Fla., and are planning a fall 2015 wedding.