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Israeli officials have their hands on the Hamas rocket dial

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All 100 Senators joined in passing a Senate resolution on July 17, 2014 supporting "the State of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization."

However, the facts differ.

A report issued by the authoritative "Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center" (ITIC) unintentionally debunked the Senate resolution more than a week before its unanimous consent vote in the Senate.

The ITIC is a private Israeli think tank that "has close ties with the country's military leadership," according to The Washington Post. The weekly ITIC reports regarding rocket fire are frequently quoted on the Israeli government's own web site.

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Israeli forces assault West Bank and Gaza. Then Hamas fires rockets
The ITIC July 8, 2014 weekly report, "News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (July 2 - 8, 2014)," states:

For the first time since Operation Pillar of Defense [November 2012], Hamas participated in and claimed responsibility for rocket fire [on July 7, 2014].

During the three weeks before Hamas launched those rockets, Israeli forces cracked down on Hamas members in the West Bank and Gaza. "Operation Brothers' Keeper" was supposedly to find and rescue the three teenage settlers kidnapped on June 12.

According to weekly reports issued by the Palestine Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Israeli soldiers and settlers killed 11 Palestinians and wounded 51 during 369 incursions into the West Bank between June 12 and July 2. Israeli forces raided hundreds of houses on the West Bank each week. Israeli forces also attacked 60 targets in Gaza and engaged in one ground incursion there, wounding 27 people in Gaza during those three weeks.

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on July 3:

Israel's military operations in the West Bank following the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers have amounted to collective punishment. The military operations included unlawful use of force, arbitrary arrests, and illegal home demolitions.

The Israeli forces thus emphatically ended their side of the 19 month cease-fire in June, well before a single rocket was fired by Hamas.

"Operation Pillar of Defense" was the Israeli government's 8 day aerial assault on Gaza in November 2012 that ended with an Egypt brokered cease-fire on November 20, 2012. Not only do ITIC weekly reports show that Hamas was not involved in any rocket fire at least until June 30, 2014, an article in the Jerusalem Post, "IDF source: Hamas working to stop Gaza rockets," reported that Hamas was policing other groups in Gaza to prevent rocket fire. Thus, to the extent Israeli forces had observed the 2012 cease-fire agreement, Israeli government officials had scored major success at bringing Hamas rocket fire to zero and recruiting Hamas to police other groups.

Not only that. The facts show that Israeli forces had to work quite hard to get Hamas to end its side of this cease-fire agreement. Even the Israeli forces and settlers going wild on the West Bank from June 12 until June 30 was not enough to shake Hamas into launching a single rocket.

While all the attacks by Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza provoked rocket fire from other "terrorist" groups during June-which the ITIC reports had been almost zero during the previous month--the attacks at least up to June 30 did not provoke Hamas itself to fire rockets. To predictably accomplish that feat, Israeli forces had to go further. And they did.

Israeli forces finally provoke Hamas by killing Hamas members
The July 8 ITIC report divulged why Hamas launched and claimed its first rocket fire at Israel in more than 19 months on July 7: On that night Israeli forces had bombed and killed 6 Hamas members in Gaza. The ITIC report includes a picture of the six Hamas members.

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The July 10 PCHR weekly report gives further details of the events that immediately preceded the July 7 Hamas rocket launchings. PCHR reports:

Between 01:00 and 16:00, the bodies of 5 members of the 'Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) were recovered from a tunnel dug near Gaza International Airport in the southeast of the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. They were identified as: Ibrahim Dawod al-Bal'awi, 24; 'Abdul Rahman Kamal al-Zamli, 22; Jum'a 'Atiya Shallouf, 26; and Khaled 'Abdul Hadi Abu Mur, 21, and his twin brother, Mustafa. Another three members were recovered alive, but one was in a serious condition. It should be noted that the tunnel was repeatedly bombarded by Israeli warplanes and tanks. According to medical sources, the deceased inhaled toxic gases. The 'Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades declared in an online statement that 5 of its members were killed as a result of airstrikes that targeted places of resistance activities.

On that night the Israeli Air Force also attacked approximately 50 more "terrorist targets" in the Gaza Strip, as described in the ITIC report.

Thus, reports from authoritative Israeli sources described the multiple provocations that the Senate resolution denied existed. Hamas launched and claimed rocket fire only after Israeli forces had engaged in nearly a month of intensive military operations in violation of the cease-fire agreement and only after Israeli forces had killed 6 Hamas members in Gaza.

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James Marc Leas is a member of the National Lawyers Guild

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