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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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DAILY ALERT

July 25, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Iraq: Countdown to D-Day (Pravda)

    In the United Kingdom, there is to be a mass mobilization of reservists in September. British forces are to pull out from NATO exercises. Defense sources have confirmed that reservists will make up shortages in pilots, medical staff, intelligence, and signals operations.
    In the United States, there are rumours that the attack could be launched in October. There are other rumours that George Bush sees the conflict as unfinished family business which his father did not resolve a decade earlier.
    The British Ministry of Defence is anxious to try out the new Watchkeeper Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), robot craft which will relay video images to their controllers, field commanders, and back to the Ministry of Defence building in Whitehall.


PA Leaders Trained to Resist Interrogation

    According to the Shin Bet, the two-month interrogation of Fatah secretary general and Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti is over. His questioning was mostly in Hebrew, which he speaks fluently, but, according to his interrogators, his jokes were in Arabic.
    Barghouti asked on several occasions to meet with high-ranking Israeli officials he knew from his political activity in the Oslo years, but the Shin Bet refused those requests.
    The Shin Bet is aware that the PA's General Intelligence Services use a polygraph to train their officers and Palestinian terror group activists in how to cope with an Israeli interrogation. On at least three occasions, Gaza TV broadcast a program on how to withstand an Israeli interrogation. (Ha'aretz)


See Shehada's Wife

    Time provides a photo portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Shehada in their military camouflage uniforms, equipped with assult rifles.


Key Links

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News Resources - USA and Europe:

  • Did the Airstrike Undermine an Impending Agreement?
        Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat: There was a serious internal Palestinian dialogue taking place over the last 20 days in the West Bank and Gaza, and I heard from my colleagues who were carrying out these meetings and this dialogue that a deal was done to declare a stoppage to suicide bombings and violence, to give the peace process a chance.
        Jim Clancy (CNN): Who had signed up to the deal?
        Erakat: The dialogue was going on between various political parties. I don't know the individuals who were involved in the deal.
        Dore Gold: All Israelis wish it was all true. But there is absolutely no indication that there was a deal - an internal Palestinian deal or an Israel-Palestinian deal - to stop Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians.
        Clancy (CNN): Saeb Erakat said he just discussed it.
        Gold: He said he didn't even know who was involved in these negotiations. He also said he didn't even know who was involved in the negotiations that were reported in the London Times....As far as we're concerned, all these rumors are baseless. (CNN)
  • Palestinians: We Were Not Close to a Cease-Fire
    According to Palestinian sources in the territories, responding to claims that the killing of Salah Shehada blocked an agreement that had nearly been reached between the Tanzim and the Palestinian Authority, "We are speaking only of contacts that never really advanced toward an actual agreement." In fact, just two days before Shehada's killing, Maariv published a call by Arafat's Fatah movement to continue the attacks: "We call on all groups...to increase their armed activities against targets of the military occupation."
        Security sources in Israel also said, "There was no serious process of internal Palestinian contacts toward an agreement on an end to attacks." A senior Israeli source said, "The Tanzim were not preparing any cease-fire, and the Hamas were not involved in any such contacts. These claims are fabrications and part of Palestinian psychological warfare." (Maariv)
  • The Intelligence Assessments Prior to the Airstrike
    On July 14, the IDF dropped a quarter-ton bomb on a workshop in Khan Yunis used to manufacture mortar shells and Kassam rockets, but the building was only partially destroyed and the wanted Hamas operative who ran it escaped unscathed. (Ha'aretz)
  • Australia Unmoved by Iraqi Trade Threats
    Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said his government would not be held hostage by trade threats, after warnings by the Iraqi Trade Minister that Baghdad would halve Australia's $829 million a year wheat imports. Iraq said it was responding to Downer's strong public criticism of Saddam Hussein's weapons program and his hints that Australia could support future U.S. military action. Although Iraq is Australia's second biggest market for wheat, "We don't support policies of appeasement," said Downer. (The Australian)
  • Syria Evolves as Anti-Terror Ally
    Syria has shown a surprising openness in working with the United States against al Qaeda. When Saudi and other fighters began drifting through Syria after the collapse of Taliban rule in Afghanistan last fall, the government arrested more than 20 former fighters, intelligence officials said. U.S. officials confirmed that information provided by the Syrian government saved American lives by heading off an attack on U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf earlier this year. More recently, Syria has cooperated with U.S. officials in the arrest and interrogation of Mohammed Haydar Zammar, a Syrian-born German citizen who recruited Mohammed Atta and two other Sept. 11 hijackers into an al Qaeda cell based in Hamburg. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:
  • Rabbi Murdered in Shooting Attack
    Rabbi Elimelech Shapira, 43, head of the pre-military academy at Peduel, was murdered near the Jewish community of Alei Zahav in northern Samaria when gunmen opened fire on his vehicle early Thursday morning. Paramedics who arrived at the scene came under heavy gunfire as they attempted to treat a wounded passenger. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Unfreezes NIS 200 Million for Palestinians
    Responding to heavy U.S. pressure, Prime Minister Sharon and his top-level, ministerial political steering committee have decided to unconditionally hand over NIS 200 million in frozen Palestinian Authority assets to Palestinian Finance Minister Salim Fayad. Sharon had hesitated to transfer funds to the PA until an international mechanism was in place to guarantee that the money would not be used for terrorism. Israel will also forgive some NIS 140 million in PA debts for electricity and health services provided by Israel. The committee also decided to lift closures and open roads in Hebron, Bethlehem, and Jericho. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Targeting Terror - Editorial
    The War on Terror scored a huge victory when an Israeli missile took out the operative head of a U.S.-certified terrorist group. Shehada's death moves the whole planet closer to victory over terror. Hats off to Israel for its good aim. As Washington and Jerusalem prosecute the war against those who attack innocents, everyone else better get out of the way. (New York Post)
  • Opening a Second Front in the Middle East - Dennis Ross
    A burgeoning danger that is receiving scant attention is the constant supply from both the Iranians and Syrians of a formidable arsenal of highly mobile rockets to Hizballah. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Wordplay as Swordplay in Terrorism War - Larry Witham
    A fierce debate has broken out on whether Islam is a good religion that was hijacked or Islam is inherently violent. "I think we must drive Islam to have a Reformation, which is what Salman Rushdie is saying, that Islam unreformed will be brutal and barbaric," the Rev. Patrick Sookhdeo of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity in London said in a talk earlier this year. Another U.S. official said "We have to find the moderates and encourage them. It's not easy." (Washington Times)
  • Talking Points:

    The Targeting of Hamas's bin Laden - Uri Dan (Jerusalem Post)

    It's worth knowing how to reply to the ridiculous arguments that were heard immediately after Shehada's elimination:

    • "This act will cause additional acts of revenge by Hamas."
          Not true: Suicide bombing attacks are clear Hamas policy and, as such, are carried out at every opportunity and in every place, employing explosive belts, car bombs, and shootings. Shehada's targeting has caused serious, long-term damage to Hamas's suicide capability.
    • "Why did Prime Minister Sharon decide to eliminate Shehada just as political talks were commencing with the Palestinians? Yassin told Reuters he was prepared 'to consider' a cease-fire if Israel withdrew from the West Bank, halted the targeting operations, and released Palestinian prisoners."
          There were, in fact, no political talks. Sharon had authorized Foreign Minister Peres to talk to the Palestinians about economic issues like how to release money that could alleviate their economic/social/humanitarian difficulties.
    • Even the US administration has declared that the Palestinians have to elect a new leadership if they wish to commence a peace process with Israel.


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