Chris Mitchell

CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief

Read Chris's Bio

E-mail Chris MItchell

Subscribe RSS

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe to this Feed

View All CBN News Blogs

View All CBN Blogs

Friday, August 08, 2014

Jerusalem Dateline Show: War With Hamas

This week on Jerusalem Dateline: What is missing from the reporting in Gaza? We take a look at the media's lopsided coverage of Israel's war with Hamas.

Also, Hamas hides behind mosques and churches to launch their attack against Israel.

Finally, Israel joins forces with Egypt and Saudi Arabia in a strange new alliance to fight Iran.

posted @ Friday, August 08, 2014 3:20 PM | Feedback (0)

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Smoking Gun: Captured Hamas Manual Instructs on Benefits of Human Shields

IDF forces in the Gaza Strip found a Hamas manual on “Urban Warfare,” which belonged to the Shuja’iya Brigade of Hamas’ military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades.

The manual explains how the civilian population can be used against IDF forces and reveals that Hamas knows the IDF is committed to minimizing harm to civilians.

Chris Mitchell explains more on what this manual says about the use of human shields.

posted @ Tuesday, August 05, 2014 5:35 PM | Feedback (0)

Monday, August 04, 2014

Jerusalem Dateline Show: The UN and Israel

This week on Jerusalem Dateline: Why does the international body target the Jewish state while seemingly giving Hamas a free pass?

Israeli soldiers say Hamas fighters are hiding behind women and children.

Plus, from the Gaza Strip, ordinary people speak out against the Hamas regime and call for peace with Israel.

posted @ Monday, August 04, 2014 4:12 PM | Feedback (0)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The 3 Types of Hamas Terror Tunnels

Israel says one of the main objectives of its war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip is to dismantle the terror tunnels.

Avital Leibovitz, director of the American Jewish Committee and former IDF spokeswoman, says there are three types of terror tunnels:

1. Those that hide Hamas leaders
2. Those that hide Hamas rockets
3. Those that are used to attack Israelis.

Watch as Leibovitz explains more.

Media Coverage
Social media is a new battleground in the current Israeli operation against Hamas, Leibovits explains below

Who is Hamas?
Just who is Hamas? Leibovitz offers more insight.

posted @ Thursday, July 31, 2014 2:59 PM | Feedback (0)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

From the Front Lines: Leading Their People to Death

Gordon writes and writes well. He should. He makes a living as a Hollywood screenwriter. It's his day job. Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, he's traded in his working scripts to chronicle the unfolding saga of Israel's war against Hamas. His knowledge of Israel (he spent some of his childhood growing up here); his love for the Jewish people (he's one of them) and his zeal for the truth to be told permeate these first hand reports. Here's another of his on the scene dispatches.

It gives those far from the battlefield and depending on the lens of the mainstream media, a clear eyed picture of what's really going on and the stakes in this war. Like the World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle, Dan writes about and to the common man. Here's one of his latest filings. It contains some typos and misspellings as he explains in his caveat but it's another robust picture of life in Israel at war.

Leading their people to death

Please forgive the many typos and misspellings in thus article . Just as I was beginning to proof read the location where I am right now came under rocket attack. I always send a safety copy to myself which I had done in this instance . But where I am right now one has less than 15 seconds to take shelter or face death or mutilation. Yesterday a teenager not more than a hundred meters away from me ( shrapnel can travel 1000 meters) was seriously wounded by shrapnel from a mortar round that landed somewhere between where he and I were standing . Mortars unlike rockets give no warning.

Any way in rushing to take cover rather like the IRS I accidentally deleted my working copy and was left only with the safety copy I'd emailed myself and I an too technologically challenged to know how to edit it. So apologies but you'll get the gist.

Dan Gordon
Capt. IDF ( Res)

Ernest Hemingway had great advice for writers. “ Write one true declarative sentence” he said, “ Then Write another.

By that standard Papa Hemingway would be proud , indeed, of Sami Abu Zuhri’s literary prowess.

Sami Abu Zuhri is a Hamas spokesman. He summed up the current situation in Gaza perfectly. And he did it in two true declarative sentences.

“ We ( Hamas) aren’t leading our people to destruction. We are leading them to death”.

That wasn’t wasn’t Israel’s Prime Minister who said that. That was an official Hamas spokesman, and he said it without apologies. Two true sentences.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed.

Each and every one of those deaths, since Hamas rejected the Egyptian cease fire proposal, which the Arab league endorsed was completely predictable, tragic beyond word, and absolutely, one hundred percent preventable.

Because Israel accepted that same cease fire proposal, immediately and unconditionally.

All the killing could and would have been stopped immediately, right then and there.

But as Sami said, that’s not where Hamas is leading the Gazan , Palestinian people. And that sentences by the way is neither “ Posturing , spin, amelioration and explanation”.

I use that last phrase because a reader of my last posted article, “ To The Last Drop of Others’ Blood” wrote in response, “ The truth is hame, horror, death. The rest is posturing, spin, amelioration and explanation”

As a writer by trade, I can, to a degree, appreciate the rhythm of that sentence. As they used to say on the American Badstand programs of my misspent youth, “ It has a good beat and you can dance to it.”. But with the greatest respect , it is not “ the truth” of this conflict.

An event occurred yesterday, which may, in the parlance of our time, provide a teachable moment. Israeli. Israeli forces, operating in Gaza, yesterday were approached by what they suspected was a female suicide bomber. They ordered her to stop. She did not and they, in retrospect, chose the correct course of action.

They shot her.

And she exploded. Or rather the suicide bomber vest that would have killed them all exploded.

This was not the first suicide bomber Israeli forces encountered since entering Gaza.

The first one was a donkey.

It appeared loaded down with an unusual load on it’s back and was beaten by it’s “ handler" in order to urge it forward ,toward the Israeli troops . The “ Handler” was .a Hamas operative, who, having dispatched the donkey, promptly disappeared, quite literally, according to what I heard, down a rat hole.

In retrospect, those Israeli troops also chose the correct course of action. They shot the donkey.

It too exploded , or rather the donkey sized suicide vest with enough explosives to murder dozens of people it exploded.

I bring these two incidents up because , while I have no first hand knowledge of Hamas’s evolving policy of using beasts of burden as unwilling suicide bombers, I have , at least second hand knowledge, of Hamas’s past and evolving policy regarding using women as female suicide bombers. I know the world’s leading expert on female suicide bombers.

Dr, Anat Berko has a PHD in criminology and advanced degrees in psychology. She speaks fluent Arabic and her parents were Jewish refugees from Iraq, where they had lived for several thousand years and from which they were expelled in the wake of the Israel / Arab  conflict which made some 800,000 other Middle Eastern Jews, refugees as well. ( Ironically that is almost the exact number of Palestinians who became refugees in 1948 as a result of the same conflict.).

Dr Berko carried out the most comprehensive study of female suicide bombers and their handlers ever undertaken. She interviewed almost every female suicide bomber in Israeli custody. These were women whose suicide belts failed to detonate or who were caught before they could carry out their attacks. Her two books, “ The Path to Paradise: The Inner World of Suicide Bombers and their Dispatchers” and “ The Smarter Bomb: Women and Children as Suicide Bombers” have become classics on the subject.

What Dr. Berko found was that the majority of female suicide bombers were motivated by other than ideological or religious reasons. Nor were most of them motivated by the desire for revenge or even hatred of Israel.

The majority of female suicide bombers were unwitting, unwilling, or chose the path of so called “ Martyrdom” as the lesser of two evils with which they were presented. There is a saying on the Palestinian street in regard to female suicide bombers. I hope I would not be accused of spin, posturing or amelioration,” by saying that this particular expression betrays a somewhat sexist attitude amongst those who use it. With regard to female suicide bombers the Palestinian street saying is, “ Shahida o Sharmuta?” Freely translated it means  “ ( was she) a martyr or a whore?”

The reason Palestinians might say that about one who had ostensibly committed the highly praised ( when it comes to men) act of “ Martyrdom” is because they know that in many of not the majority of instances, the female suicide bomber was approached by operatives of one terrorist organization or another and told that she had been seen with men other than male relatives and had thus “ dishonored” her family. In such an instance she would either be the victim of an “ honor killing” to be carried out by her, father , brother or another male relative, or she could choose to become a suicid bomber, strap on an explosive vest, blow herself up with as many Jews as possible, and thus die not a whore, but a martyr who would be admitted to Paradise where she would sit at the right hand of the prophet, and where, by the way, she could choose her own husband, as opposed to being forced into a heavenly marriage with someone not of her choosing.

Another category which provided fertile ground for female suicide bombers were victims of rape and incest from within their own families.. One girl was raped repeatedly by her cousins, another by her brother. Both saw the “ suicide” part of suicide bomber, as preferable to the liberal hell on earth which they were living.

To be sure there were women so enchanted with the religious notion of Paradise and it’s advantages over earthly life (such as not having to take care of children, never having a period and marrying the mate of one’s own choice) that they became suicide bombers from religious reasons. Others had seen relatives killed by Israeli soldiers and wanted revenge and others, while not religious were motivated by nationalistic reasons. But as noted these were far less in numb than the women who were unwilling martyrs or those choosing martyrdom instead of honor killing or as a means of escaping an intolerable life.

But what I remembered was that Hamas , had , at least at one time, a firm policy AGAINST using female suicide bombers. Indeed Dr Berko had once interviewed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, one of the founders of, and the spiritual leader of, Hamas until his death in 2004, at the hands of the IDF..

Dr. Berko interviewed the Spiritual Leader in 1996. “ at that time” Dr. Berko told me this morning, “ Yassin said ‘ I’m against sending women ( as suicide bombers) because they have a special role. It is to give birth to children. There is not equality in Islam. Suicide bombing, that’s not a job for women. And then, too we have enough men to be suicide bombers. So we are against it. We don’t use them.”

“ What happened to make Hamas change it’s mind ?” I asked.

“ In 2002, there was the first female suicide bomber. “ Dr . Berko told me. “ She was not from Hamas. But it got a lot of good publicity for the organization that sent her. It got good media attention, and Hamas felt they had to compete with the other terrorist organizations who were getting all the attention because of the female suicide bombers. So Hamas didn’t want to be left behind.”

“ And that’s why Hamas changed it’s mind. Because it was effective media?!”

“ Yes” she said, “ Hamas had to compete with the other terrorist organizations.”

We will probably never know what motivated the female suicide bomber who exploded prematurely thanks to an Israeli marksman. But we absolutely know the motivation of the terrorist army of Hamas and it’s political wing as well, which dispatched her and the donkey and which has turned their own people into human shields,  and which celebrate their deaths because of the great media attention it brings them.

That is the truth, the shame , the horror. It is not my, or Israel’s or anyone else’s posturing,or , Heaven forbid, amelioration.

We know it because Sami Abu Zuhri, the Hamas official spokesman told us so, in two declative, Hemingwayesque sentences.

“ We are not leading our people to destruction. We are leading them to death"

posted @ Wednesday, July 30, 2014 2:11 PM | Feedback (0)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What Israel Is Fighting For

Sometimes with the day-to-day reports from the conflict between Hamas and Israel, the bigger picture gets lost. 

We talked with former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren about the war.  He reminds us the stakes in this conflict are nothing less than Western civilization. 

posted @ Tuesday, July 29, 2014 1:44 PM | Feedback (0)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Jerusalem Dateline Show: Fighting in Gaza

This week on Jerusalem Dateline: The fighting in Gaza intensifies. Israel takes out Hamas tunnels while Hamas attacks scare the international community into cutting flights to Israel.

Meanwhile, the United Nations investigates Israel's conduct in Gaza, but British Col. Richard Kemp says they should be taking a closer look at Hamas.

Also, despite the conflict, churches in Gaza and the West Bank are preaching a message of peace.

posted @ Friday, July 25, 2014 4:46 PM | Feedback (0)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What the West Needs to Understand about Hamas

Dan Gordon, a volunteer with Sar-El and a reserve captain in the IDF, told CBN News that the West needs to understand that when Israel pulled Israelis out of thriving communities in the Gaza Strip nearly nine years ago, Hamas took over and turned the place into a terror camp.

This happened even though Israel offered to help the Palestinians there.

posted @ Thursday, July 24, 2014 2:35 PM | Feedback (0)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Palestinian Mother's Story: 'I am Being Shot by My People'

For years, Israel has treated Palestinians with difficult medical problems from the Gaza Strip and other areas, in Israeli hospitals.

Ironically, those hospitals sometimes come under fire.

But as Dr. Ron Lobel told CBN News, Palestinians are often forced to allow Hamas to use their homes and property to perpetrate attacks.

Lobel, deputy director of Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital near the Israeli-Gaza border, told us one Palestinian woman's story.

posted @ Wednesday, July 23, 2014 2:47 PM | Feedback (0)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

From Whence Cometh My Help

Capt. Dan Gordon's day job is a Hollywood screen writer.  When war comes to Israel, he becomes a spokesman for the IDF and a bard for life under fire.  Here's another of his dispatches from the front lines of Israel's unfolding history.

From whence cometh my help

The woman on the pop music show on army radio in Israel has a sexy voice; Not sexy like she’s trying to vamp you. Sexy like cute, like friendly, like you want to take her to the prom, like you want to share an ice cream cone with her or hold hands in the movies. That kind of sexy. Friendly sexy.. Easy going sexy. Hasn’t got a problem in the world and is ready to go to the beach with you sexy.

She’s just finished announcing a Michael Jackson song as if she had just heard it for the first time, as if that Michael Jackson song is the biggest, brightest, coolest thing in her day. She says it in a way that you’d never know there was a war going on. Now that’s not unusual for Tel Aviv girls because if there’s a war going on in the south or the north, the girl from Tel Aviv, like her tall and tan and young and lovely counterpoint from Ipanema, just goes walking, while everyone else, especially the soldiers fighting the war in the north or the south, just go awww.

But the odd thing is, there are rockets falling on Tel Aviv too and still her voice is cool and calm, friendly, soothing, not rushed, not panicked, just there, tall, tan, young and lovely and friendly and reassuring as she says after the Michael Jackson bit, “And please remember if you’re driving in your car and you hear the air raid siren go off, pull off to the side of the road, turn off the engine and take shelter. Lie flat and cover your head with your arms and stay that way for 10 minutes because just because you heard one explosion doesn’t mean there aren’t more on the way, Ok? Take care of yourselves.”

And then she plays another song, Queen singing “Find Somebody to Love.”

And I think to myself how very, very much I love this country and this people, who refuse to let war put fear into their voices, much less their lives. And as I am experiencing that reverie and wondering what the girl on the radio actually looks like, the air raid siren goes off. I am just entering Ashkelon and per the drill I pull the car off to the side of the road as do all the drivers in front of me. We have 15 seconds to take cover. A religious couple is in front of me, the husband with his arm protectively covering his wife’s head. I can see the rocket, can trace its arc. Interesting war in which almost none of Israel’s soldiers are under fire and almost all of its civilians are.

Suddenly I hear the husband reciting the words of the 121st Psalm. It’s a psalm that is part of the Sabbath service and though Shabbat is over the words seem to be written for right now, this very instance, as the Grad rocket traces its arc over our heads, “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help?”

And I remember 2012, lying in a ditch by the side of the road with a rocket coming straight toward the small group of people with whom I’ve taken shelter, except I think the rocket is coming directly for me. I think it has Captain Dan Gordon written on the side of it and I am taking the whole thing, in the words of Sonny Corleone, “very personally.” Then suddenly out of nowhere, like Mighty Mouse, an Iron Dome missile swoops down and blows the Grad rocket with Captain Gordon’s name on it to smithereens.

"My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved, he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep…The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth and forever more.”

And out loud I find myself saying “amen,” and I also find myself thinking,"That’s another difference between Hamas and us. We build our missiles to defend our women and children and they use their women and children to defend their missiles.”

The rocket passes overhead and after a few minutes the drivers get up from the side of the road, get back in their cars and continue with their day as if nothing had happened and I try to imagine that scene on the 405 in LA or the Long Island Expressway and I love this people, and the Lord who watches over her even more.

I’ve come to Ashkelon to interview Dr. Ron Lobel.

Because his hospital is the nearest to the Gaza border, I ask if he has any Palestinian patients.

“Only from Hebron and Bethlehem, not from Gaza,” he says.

“Oh,” I say, quite reasonably, “After the war you stopped admitting them?” That makes sense to me. Why would you treat the people who are trying to kill you?

“Not at all,” he says, “We would never turn them away. Hamas stopped letting them come for treatment.”

“And before the war?” I ask.

“Before the war on any given day you might find a Palestinian, possibly someone who was trying to infiltrate or plant an I.E.D. [improvised explosive device] who was wounded by one of our soldiers, and in the next bed you might find an Israeli who was wounded by a rocket that one of the first guy’s friends shot off. And the Palestinian might be treated by a Jewish doctor and the Jew might be treated by either an Israeli Arab doctor or a Palestinian resident,” he said.

“You train Palestinian doctors here?!” I ask incredulously. “Yes of course,” he said.

It turns out that when Israel occupied Gaza up until roughly 10 years ago, Dr. Lobel was in charge of their health care system, supervising 5 hospitals, 28 clinics and three birthing centers.

“And do you still maintain relationships with some of the doctors there?” I ask.

He looks at me as if I were a slow witted child, “They’re my friends, “he says simply.

If it weren’t for Hamas, he believes we’d have peace with the Palestinians of Gaza.

“You really believe that? “ I ask. “Absolutely,” he says.

“And has the hospital ever been targeted, ever been hit by Hamas’ rockets?”

He nods his head. “In 2008, a Grad rocket landed 300 meters [yards] from the emergency room. And another landed 4 meters from the delivery room and nursery. Luckily the Iron Dome shot it down.”

“And you still think there can be peace? When they try to hit a hospital?” (Coincidently, while setting their own command and control post underneath THEIR hospital in Gaza City…the hospital the Israelis remodeled for them.)

“Things aren’t always like they seem,” he says.

And we talk about the case of Wafa al Bas. She was a Palestinian girl who had been burned over a good deal of her body when a cooking stove exploded in her home in Gaza. She was brought to Israel for treatment at Soroka Hospital and burn center [in Beersheba].

The doctors saved her life and she went home. A few years later she tried to cross back into Israel, ostensibly for additional surgery on her burns. At the border crossing she was stopped because the guards had received a tip that a female suicide bomber was coming to blow up an Israeli hospital. In fact that’s exactly what Wafa al Bas was intending to do, except at the last minute her handlers told her to hit a more Jewish hospital because there were too many Arabs being treated at Soroka.

When she realized she was caught, she attempted to pull the cord and detonate the 20 pounds of explosives she had on her suicide bomber vest. When the bomb failed to detonate she pulled it again and again, like an inconsolable child. They finally diffused the bomb and she was arrested. The Israeli public thought she was a monster at first. How could they not?! How could a person do that to the very doctors who had saved her life?

Then her story came out. When she had come back from the hospital to her parents’ home in Gaza, her father said she looked like a monster because of her scars. What man would ever want to marry her now? Now she was a burden on the family and so the Hamas dispatchers put the suicide belt on her in her parents’ house. This way she could die an honorable death and not be a burden on her family because she was so ugly. When she tried to detonate the bomb, there were no Israeli soldiers around. The only person she would have killed would have been herself, which is what she ACTUALLY wanted to do. It wasn’t that she wanted to kill Jews. She just wanted to end a life that had become unbearable.

Like the doctor said, things aren’t always what they seem. Of course when she was one of the prisoners exchanged for Gilad Shalit and was sent back to her parents’ house in Gaza, she issued a public statement urging Gazans to take another Shalit (prisoner) every year.

Like the doctor said, things aren’t always as they seem.

I ask the doctor if he minds if I ask a personal question. “Not at all,” he says.

“Do you believe in Hashem (the word religious Jews use for the Almighty).

“I’m not what you would call a religious Jew,” he says, “ but yes of course I believe in Him.”

“And have you ever felt him manifest in your life?”

“ Every hour of every day,” he says.

Then the phone rings. The rocket that missed me earlier that day has seriously wounded a 16-year-old boy with a piece of shrapnel to his head.

The doctor and his team will be doing everything possible to save him, and they will pray, as will I.

Hamas has fired almost a thousand rockets at Israel thus far. A THOUSAND!! And this is the first serious injury.

As I drive back another barrage of rockets slams into the country. As I write this, I count half a dozen exploding not far away. Iron Dome takes out the majority.

Just before I came here I got into a disagreement with a very pleasant, very well-intentioned American woman.

“War is never the answer,” she says.

“It is when people are trying to kill you,” I say. “And then you better be good at it.”

“I’d rather die than kill,” she says with that wonderfully innocent American Midwestern look, which means she’s never had to seriously consider either one.

“My people tried that once,” I say, “It didn’t work out well.”

Later today I’m with some very elite soldiers and in my hand is a Tavor assault rifle, and overhead are Israeli-made drones on their way to take out missile launchers in Gaza as the Iron Dome tags another rocket out of the skies above us.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help? From the Lord who made heaven and earth” and by whose Holy Grace my people can finally defend ourselves, by ourselves, instead of hoping for the kindness of strangers or even friends.

posted @ Saturday, July 19, 2014 9:33 AM | Feedback (0)