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DAILY ALERT

January 6, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Osama al-Baz's Attack on Arab Anti-Semitism: Pro-Israel Sentiments or Egyptian National Interests? - Jackie Hogi (Maariv)
    In a series of three articles in the official Egyptian daily, al-Ahram, Dr. Osama al-Baz, foreign policy advisor to President Mubarak, attacks the rising anti-Semitism in the Arab world.
    On the positive side, al-Baz attacks:
  * Those who use the Koran to argue that Jews are the "sons of monkeys and pigs."
  * Those who believe that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the 1840 Damascus blood libel have any factual basis.
  * Implicitly, those who deny the Holocaust.

    Yet, al-Baz undermines the forthcoming nature of his initial presentation with strong anti-Israeli statements:
  * Calling on Israel to no longer be a Jewish state.
  * Defining an anti-peace camp in Israel in which he puts together "Baruch Goldstein, Yigal Amir [Rabin's murderer], Shaul Mofaz [Israel's Minister of Defense], Avigdor Lieberman, Ovadia Yosef, Natan Sharansky [Israel's Minister of Housing and former prisoner of Zion]."

    Al-Baz adopted this position out of Egyptian national interests, seeking to improve Egypt's sagging image in Washington.


U.S. Special Forces, CIA Operating Inside Iraq - John Donnelly (Boston Globe)
    About 100 U.S. Special Forces members and more than 50 Central Intelligence Agency officers have been operating in small groups inside Iraq for at least four months, searching for Scud missile launchers, monitoring oil fields, marking minefield sites, and using lasers to help U.S. pilots bomb Iraqi air-defense systems.
    The operations also have included Jordanian, British, and Australian commandos. In addition to operating in northern Iraq alongside fighters belonging to Kurdish factions, in other parts of Iraq, Special Forces members are operating in areas populated largely by Shiite Muslims around Basra in the south, in the western desert near the Jordanian border, and even close to Baghdad.


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  • Palestinian Attack Kills 23 in Israel
    Two Palestinian bombers blew themselves up a block apart in a busy immigrant neighborhood in Tel Aviv Sunday, killing at least 23 people and injuring an estimated 108 others in the deadliest attack in Israel in more than nine months. The force of the coordinated explosions turned a busy workday evening into a scene of carnage, flinging body parts more than 100 feet from the blast sites, blowing out plate-glass windows 300 feet away, and sending hundreds of screaming shoppers, commuters, and residents scrambling for cover.
        The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, asserted responsibility for the bombings. Al-Jazeera identified the two bombers as Boraq Halfa and Saver al-Nouri from the West Bank city of Nablus, about 35 miles northeast of Tel Aviv. This was the first suicide bombing in more than six weeks and resulted in the second-highest death toll of any Palestinian attack inside Israel since the violence began 27 months ago. (Washington Post)
        See Actual Arabic Announcement of Fatah/al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade Taking Credit (IDF)
        See also PA Arrests Reporter Who Linked Arafat to Bombing
    Israel Radio reported Monday that Yasser Arafat's security forces arrested the Al-Jazeera Gaza correspondent who forwarded an announcement by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to his station taking credit for the Sunday Tel Aviv bombing. (IMRA]
  • Israel Tests a Missile Shield
    The Israeli military Sunday carried out its first successful test-firing of the Arrow missile defense system against more than one incoming target. Arieh Hertzog, director of Israel's missile defense program, said the test involved the firing of one Arrow missile and three dummy rockets aimed at four computer-simulated targets and fired in rapid succession, just seconds apart. The 23-foot-long Arrow is designed to intercept missiles at higher altitudes and at greater distances than the Patriot, and with much greater accuracy. Officials say the Arrow should be able to intercept an incoming missile in less than three minutes at altitudes of more than 30 miles. (New York Times)
  • Israeli Defenses Much Improved Since Gulf War
    On the eve of a widely expected new war against Iraq, Israel is deploying one of the most sophisticated missile defense systems in the world, has its own spy satellite and radar warning system, and has created a vast Home Front Command to prepare citizens and medical services for potential attacks. For the past month, Israeli military and civilian disaster preparedness teams have conducted drills for conventional, chemical, and biological missile attacks in some of the country's biggest cities. (Washington Post)
  • Sharon Snubs Blair's Peace Summit
    Ariel Sharon accused Tony Blair of "legitimizing terrorists" by hosting a meeting of Palestinian leaders in London next week. The Israeli prime minister made his unhappiness known to the British ambassador in Tel Aviv, Sherard Cowper-Coles, as he delivered a letter from Mr. Blair seeking support for the meeting. Last month, Mr. Blair invited Yasser Arafat to send a delegation to London for a one-day meeting to discuss how the peace process might be advanced. "The prime minister told the ambassador that any attempt to recycle Arafat's legitimacy is wrong. Britain should not be dealing with terrorists," said Mr. Sharon's spokesman, Raanan Gissin. (Guardian-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Defense Minister Mofaz: Terrorists Itching to Act - Gideon Alon
    Hours before the deadly terrorist bombing at Tel Aviv's old central bus station, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the weekly cabinet meeting that "all the terrorists organizations are trying hard to carry out an attack." "There is a deterrent effect to demolishing the homes of Palestinians involved in terrorism," Mofaz told the cabinet. In the last four months, 28 potential terrorists were turned over to security forces because of the threat that their homes would be demolished.
        Mofaz said Israel will not accept any distinction between terror against Israelis in the territories and inside the Green Line. He said the Palestinians "are trying to make a show" of drafting a constitution that would include a prime minister appointed by Yasser Arafat, "but in effect there is no intention of any reforms." As for the negotiations underway in Cairo to reach a pan-Palestinian policy regarding a cease-fire, Mofaz said that, despite Egyptian efforts, "we have not identified any change in the Hamas position. On the contrary, they declare they will continue terrorism." He said that Arafat has also declared that the Cairo talks are not meant to end the intifada. (Ha'aretz)
  • Kaddoumi: No Difference between PLO and Hamas - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinians will not ask Hamas to stop suicide attacks against Israel before the Palestinians make political gains, said the head of the PLO's political department, Farouk Kaddoumi, in an interview with the Nazareth-based weekly Kul al-Arab. Asked if there was any difference between his positions and those of Hamas, which calls for the elimination of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic state in all of Palestine, Kaddoumi, the only senior PLO leader to remain in Tunis following the signing of the Oslo Accords, said: "We were never different from Hamas. Strategically, there is no difference between us." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Exploiting the Palestinians - Max Boot
    Surely anyone with a modicum of knowledge about the Middle East knows that the plight of the Palestinians isn't "the" issue. Even if Israel ceased to exist tomorrow, this would not affect in the slightest the tensions between Islamic fundamentalists and secularists, between rich Gulf kingdoms and their poor cousins, between Shiites and Sunnis, between democrats and dictators, or the countless other fault lines that run through the House of Islam. All of the dead in the Arab-Israeli wars of the past half century amount to only a tiny fraction of the million killed during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, the 100,000 killed in Algeria's civil war since 1992, or the 100,000 killed in Lebanon's civil war from 1975 to 1990. (Weekly Standard)
  • Talking Points:

    Terrorist Attacks in Tel Aviv (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister's Office, and various Israeli government agencies)

    • The al-Aqsa Martyrís Brigades belonging to the Fatah movement, Yasser Arafatís component of the PLO, is responsible for the twin attack. President Bush, in his historic speech of June 24th, said that leaders compromised by terror cannot be partners for peace. Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, by perpetrating terror through forces under their direct responsibility, namely the Fatah, Tanzim, and al-Aqsa Martyrsí Brigade, and by aiding and abetting the terror of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, cannot be partners for peace.
    • The Palestinian terrorists must have known that they would kill foreign workers when they targeted the area of Tel Avivís former central bus station since they had attacked that very same spot a few months ago. These suicide bombings were meant to kill as many people as possible, from as many countries as possible. Israelís Ministry of Interior has made multilingual announcements to illegal foreign workers who need medical care that they may come to Israeli hospitals without having to fear that deportation measures will be taken against them.
    • The Palestinians are trying to take advantage of this period - the eve of the war against Iraq - to attack Israel, expecting that Israelís hands will be tied by the international community. The government of Israel, like any democratic government, has the right - and indeed the obligation - to defend itself against terrorist attacks.
    • The relatively few bomb attacks over the last few weeks is not due to a new cease-fire policy on the part of Fatah, Hamas, or any other Palestinian organization. Throughout this period, all the organizations have attempted to infiltrate into Israel, but have been foiled by Israeli security forces. Neither the Cairo talks between Fatah and Hamas, nor the promise of the coming Palestinian discussions in London, have reduced the threat of terrorism to Israeli citizens.


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