Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Former British Troops Commander on Possible Israel-Hamas Ceasefire: “I’m Skeptical” of How Long it Can Last (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW)

November 20, 2012 4:52 pm 6 comments

Col. Richard Kemp. Photo: Wikipedia

Colonel Richard Kemp knows a thing or two about warfare. The former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan spent 28 years serving in his country’s army. His experience makes him exceptionally well versed on the difficulties facing Israel as they battle Hamas. An outspoken supporter of Israel, he has championed its armed forces even in the face of  harsh criticism levied by the Goldstone report.

In an interview with The Algemeiner, Col. Kemp spoke about the future of the conflict between Israel and Hamas and whether a ground operation will be necessary, the international community’s culpability, and why Turkey should be careful about what it says.

“The last thing anyone wants to see is a ground incursion. There will be quite a large number of civilian casualties. It will also cause military casualties on Israel’s side. I don’t think anyone wants to see it. But I’m sorry to say it: there doesn’t seem like much sign of Hamas acceding to Israel’s requirements, which are to stop carrying out rocket attacks and to cease arming themselves with war munitions. Until they can agree to those two things and also having enhanced security on the Egyptian side of the border to stop the munitions smuggling, then I think the likelihood is that there will be a ground offensive.”

“The onus is on Hamas. They started this conflict by lobbing rockets at Israel’s civilian population. Israel’s obligation is to protect its citizens.”

“I’m skeptical of how long a ceasefire can last until Hamas has been dealt a blow far heavier than it’s been dealt thus far.”

Despite efforts to mediate, Col. Kemp does not think the international community has been helpful, in fact, it has hindered attempts at peace between the two sides.  “I’m disturbed that some of the international community thinks there’s some sort of equivalence between a democratic state such as Israel defending itself and a terrorist group attacking it. They almost see them both as being of equal merit, which of course they’re not.”

And he’s even less enthusiastic about those who remain highly critical of Israel:

“There is a very effective anti-Israel propaganda machine and there has been for some time. It’s partly from the Palestinians, partly from other Arab states and many people in the West—from Europe in particular but also the United States—see Hamas as the underdog and Israel as the bully and their natural inclination is to side with the underdog; but it’s to misunderstand the reality: Hamas is not a small group of lone freedom fighters. Hamas is a terrorist organization supported, financed and directed by Iran. Israel on the other hand is not a bully. It has shown amazing restraint—far more restraint than most other countries would show in the face of this sort of provocation.”

“I think some of the governments, diplomats and international NGOs now circling around this issue should shoulder some of the blame for this current conflict. They ignored year after year terrorist missile attacks and they’ve not made any effort to restrain Hamas. So yes, there’s certainly a culpability far wider than just in the immediate region.”

On Israel’s army Col. Kemp say it is, “a very moral army. Their ethos are excellent and they will never seek to cause unnecessary civilian casualties. They’ve taken huge steps to prevent that from happening.”

“Israel has had  some superb intelligence, very very precise operations, very restrained operations so I think any of these civilian tragedies are a tragedy but unfortunately they are unavoidable when you’re dealing with an enemy that uses its own population as human shields.”

“Unless there is a credible agreement I don’t think Israel has any choice but to restrain the entry of munitions into Gaza. It’s vital that they continue the blockade. They’d be irresponsible not to do it.”

He also thinks that many of those countries critical of Israel, particularly Turkey, which has a history of aggressive responses towards those it is at odds with, should be careful of its criticism of Israel. “They never hesitate to launch deadly airstrikes on the p that contain Kurdish extremists,” he says of Turkey. “They’ve been entirely happy to launch strikes in Iraq and other sovereign countries for the same purposes that Israel is attacking Gaza. They are in danger of looking hypocritical.”


  • Perceptive, accurate and telling. Those who do not call Hamas and those who hate and wish to see the demise of Israel to account for acts of aggression and terrorism are validating criminals. For not being honest and jumping on the propaganda wagon many in the west have colluded with the terrorists and instead of bringing reason to the table have given carte blanche to the acts of war perpetrated by Hamas and those of their ilk. The civilians who have been caught in Israel’s justifiable and legal defence have been victims not of Israel but of Hamas and their sponsors and by default those in the west who seek to justify Haman (oops meant Hamas).

  • Col Kemp is talking sense.

  • agree with F Callen…Turkey has no credibility at all, and you didn’t mention their illegal invasion and continued occupation of over 30% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus despite countless UN resolutions asking for their withdrawal.

  • Turkey “in danger of looking hypocritical”? You’re not bad the restraint yourself, Colonel Kemp.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.

Current day month ye@r *


  • Arts and Culture Features Opinion Playwrite Iddo Netanyahu: ‘Hitler Always Talked About Peace’ (INTERVIEW)

    Playwrite Iddo Netanyahu: ‘Hitler Always Talked About Peace’ (INTERVIEW)

    Late Friday night, on November 13, I was headed for bed when an ominous news bulletin flashed across my computer screen – something about a shooting in Paris. It wasn’t long before the “small number” of shootings and casualties began to double and triple and quadruple. The locations of attacks seemed crazily disorganized, and the tweets and videos became more and more horrifying. It was a long night for many stunned observers. We tried to understand what was happening, and […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Theater BDS Gives Belgian-Jewish Actress New Lease on Life in Tel Aviv

    BDS Gives Belgian-Jewish Actress New Lease on Life in Tel Aviv

    In an interview with the Israeli site nrg on Wednesday, Belgian-Jewish stage actress Noemi Schlosser recounted immigrating to Israel after her career in Europe was destroyed by BDS. Schlosser said she had enjoyed success in Belgium and international acclaim until she was targeted by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for her pro-Israel stance during Operation Protective Edge — last summer’s war against Hamas in Gaza. She described watching the theaters where she performed go from packed to nearly empty over a short period of […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports In Israel for Champions League Soccer Match, Chelsea Manager Says Team Not Worried About Security Situation

    In Israel for Champions League Soccer Match, Chelsea Manager Says Team Not Worried About Security Situation

    The manager of the Chelsea Football Club said on Monday that he is looking forward to playing in Israel this week against Maccabi Tel Aviv, in spite of the security situation, Israeli news site nrg reported. Jose Murinho, who is already in Israel with his team to compete against Maccabi in the Champions League soccer match, was  asked whether he was worried about the current wave of Palestinian violence sweeping the country. “I have no worries at all regarding the security situation, and neither do […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Opinion In the Middle East, ‘The Tail Wags the Dog’ (REVIEW)

    In the Middle East, ‘The Tail Wags the Dog’ (REVIEW)

    Blaming the West has become the most pervasive method of teaching for many Middle East studies departments, which are becoming the heart of pop-culture academia. Efraim Karsh, a distinguished professor of Middle Eastern studies at Bar-Ilan University and professor emeritus at King’s College London, in his latest book The Tail Wags the Dog: International Politics and the Middle East, dispels this myth. “Britain’s ‘original sin,’ if such was indeed committed, lay not in the breaking up of Middle Eastern unity but […]

    Read more →
  • Features Spirituality/Tradition With Popularity and Sales up, ‘Mensch on a Bench’ Has Much to Smile About

    With Popularity and Sales up, ‘Mensch on a Bench’ Has Much to Smile About – The Mensch on a Bench is so much happier now than he was a year ago. Look carefully and you will notice that, whereas the previous Mensch had a decidedly worried look, this latest version of the popular Hanukkah toy is flashing an exuberant grin. Is the erstwhile Mensch smiling because he expects to be in some 100,000 homes by year’s end? In truth, the change in visage was suggested last year by the “sharks” on ABC’s Shark Tank […]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Adam Sandler Updates Famous ‘Chanukah Song,’ Includes Hulk Hogan, David Beckham and Scarlett Johansson in Latest Version

    Adam Sandler Updates Famous ‘Chanukah Song,’ Includes Hulk Hogan, David Beckham and Scarlett Johansson in Latest Version

    Actor Adam Sandler unveiled a new version of his famous “Chanukah Song” on Saturday, adding a slew of Jewish celebrities to the ditty’s updated lyrics. The comedian — who released the original song about being Jewish during Christmas in 1996 — performed the latest version of the comedic track during the New York Comedy Festival at Carnegie Hall. Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee, actor Jake Gyllenhaal and “the two guys who founded Google” are among the famous Jewish celebrities now in the line up. Sandler also included lyrics about Star Wars‘ Princess […]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Famed Israeli Violinist Itzhak Perlman to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

    Famed Israeli Violinist Itzhak Perlman to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom – Famed Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman will be among the 17 recipients of America’s Presidential Medal of Freedom next week. He is the fourth Israeli to receive the highest civilian honor in the US. “A native of Israel, he came to the United States at a young age and was introduced to Americans broadly when he appeared on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1958. Mr. Perlman made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1963 when he was 18,” a White House […]

    Read more →
  • Features Spirituality/Tradition Don’t Think Israel is a Luxury Destination? Check Out These 6 Spots

    Don’t Think Israel is a Luxury Destination? Check Out These 6 Spots – While Israel is a common destination for cultural and religious pilgrimages, travelers seeking the best hotels, fine dining, and upscale relaxation less often find themselves in the Holy Land. Yet in recent years, the country’s burgeoning tech scene has attracted a business crowd accustomed to ritzy accommodation. Besides, the permanent summer of Tel Aviv and Eilat makes them prime destinations for European vacationers. Israel’s populace managed to tame the swamps and irrigate the desert — so going luxury should […]

    Read more →