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DAILY ALERT

October 1, 2004

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info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

U.S. Threatens Green Light to Expel Arafat (News First Class-Hebrew)
    Arafat's personal advisor, Nabil Abu Rodeina, received a "cold shower" during his last visit to Washington.
    The Arabic newspaper Al-Arab Al-Yom reported this weekend that senior administration officials who met with Abu Rodeina gave him an unmistakable message:
    If Arafat fails to implement the commitments he made to the U.S. by the November elections, the administration will remove its objection to his being expelled by Israel.


Hamas Tries to Push Kassam Rocket Range to Ashkelon - Amnon Barzilai (Ha'aretz)
    Hamas is trying to develop a Kassam rocket that would be able to reach Ashkelon.
    If the Palestinians launched these rockets from the West Bank, the entire central region of Israel and most of its population would be within range, security sources say.
    The Palestinians have increased the rocket's range from 3 kilometers to 10. They are now working on a Kassam 4 with a possible range of 17 km.
    Defense Ministry director general Amos Yaron said that developing a system to intercept Kassams is not likely in the near future.


Palestinians Shun Intifada Rallies - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    A rally organized in Ramallah on Wednesday to mark the fourth anniversary of the intifada was attended by fewer than 150 Palestinians. Similar rallies in other West Bank cities also drew small crowds.
    Organizers said they expected thousands of people to participate in the Ramallah rally, which was organized by the National and Islamic Forces, an alliance of all major Palestinian groups.
    In a statement marking the anniversary, imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti said, "The resistance has forced Sharon to announce his decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip and without any commitment on the part of the Palestinians."


Palestinian Poll: 77% Support Bombing Israeli Civilians, 74% See Disengagement as Palestinian Victory (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
    In a poll of 1,319 Palestinian adults conducted between September 23 and 26, 2004, 77% support the bombing attacks in Beersheba and 64% believe that armed confrontations have helped the Palestinians achieve their national rights in ways that negotiations could not.
    The percentage of those who view the Gaza disengagement plan as a victory for the armed struggle increased to 74% from 66% in March.


Report: Saudi Money Behind Madrid Bombing (AP/Guardian-UK)
    A Saudi cleric funneled money to an Egyptian described as one of the masterminds of the Madrid train bombings in March, Spain's El Mundo and Italy's Corriere della Sera reported Thursday.
    The Egyptian suspect, Rabei Osman Ahmed, arrested in Milan, Italy, in June, identified Sheikh Salman al-Awdah, a former university professor in Saudi Arabia, as his financier while he was living in Spain between 2001 and 2003.
    In a wiretapped conversation before his arrest, Osman Ahmed reportedly said: "The Madrid attack is my project."


Al-Qaeda Seeks Tie to Washington Area Gangs - Jerry Seper (Washington Times)
    A top al-Qaeda lieutenant has met with leaders of a violent Salvadoran criminal gang with roots in Mexico and the U.S. - including a stronghold in the Washington area - in an effort to seek help infiltrating the U.S.-Mexico border, law enforcement authorities said.
    Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, for whom the U.S. government has offered a $5 million reward, was spotted in July in Honduras meeting with leaders of El Salvador's Mara Salvatrucha gang, which immigration officials said has smuggled hundreds of Central and South Americans into the U.S.
    Mara Salvatrucha members in America also have been tied to numerous killings, robberies, and extortions - including at least seven killings in Virginia.


Muslim Freed by U.S. Issues Terror Threats - Julian Isherwood (Telegraph-UK)
    Danish authorities said Thursday they might have to return Slimane Hadj Abderahmane, a recently-released Guantanamo Bay prisoner, to U.S. custody after he said the Danish prime minister and defense minister were fair targets and vowed in a television interview, "I'm going to Chechnya to fight for the Muslims."


Israeli Technology Silences Cellphones in Mexican Churches - Olga R. Rodriguez (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune)
    Some Mexican priests, tired of Mass being interrupted by ringing cell phones, are using counterintelligence technology made in Israel to silence the devices.
    In four Monterrey churches, cell phone blockers the size of a hand-held radio, made by the Tel Aviv-based Netline Communications Technologies, have been tucked among the statues of saints to bring peace back to Mass.
    The devices, purchased for about $2,000, emit low-level radio frequencies that thwart cell phone signals within a 100-foot radius.


A Graphic Film of Protest, and Cries of Blasphemy - Marlise Simons (New York Times)
    "Submission," a 10-minute film shown on Dutch prime time television, written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born refugee, now a member of the Dutch Parliament, has been at the center of a national uproar.
    Ali said her purpose was to draw attention to what she contends is widespread but hidden violence against Muslim women, even those living in Europe.


Egypt Bans Madonna after Israel Visit - Aaron Klein (World Net Daily)
    Egypt has issued an order barring pop star Madonna from entering the country because she visited Israel.
    The parliament directed Egyptian embassies abroad to deny any visa requests from Madonna, who has not announced any plans to visit the country.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Rocket Kills 2 Israeli Children
    A Palestinian rocket slammed into the southern Israeli town of Sderot Wednesday, killing two preschool children as Israelis ushered in the festival of Sukkot. The blast killed Dorit Benesay, 2, and Yuval Abeva, 4, of Ethiopian descent, who were playing under an olive tree outside Yuval's grandmother's house. The Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility.
        "Once again we are witness to a brutal terror attack aimed at hurting innocent women and children...on the eve of a Jewish holiday," said Gideon Meir, an Israeli government spokesman. "No state can tolerate such an attack on its citizens, and it is the government's obligation to protect its citizens."  (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Tragedy Releases Pent-Up Rage - Daniel Ben Simon
    The morning after the two children were killed, an eerie calm descended on Sderot. The streets were devoid of people as many stayed indoors for fear of another barrage of rockets. Hundreds of Kassam rockets have fallen on this town and the deaths of the children have shocked the very foundations of this community. The previous day, residents took to the streets to beg for their lives and demand that the state provide them and their children with security. (Ha'aretz)
        See also below Israel's Security Cabinet Approves IDF Operation to Stop Gaza Rockets (Ha'aretz)
  • 80 Killed in U.S. Offensive in Iraq
    U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a major assault Friday to regain control of the insurgent stronghold of Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad. Hospital officials said at least 80 people were killed and 100 wounded. (AP/Boston Globe)
        See also 34 Children Killed in Iraq Car Bomb Attacks
    At least 34 children were killed when a car bomb exploded as they gathered around U.S. soldiers handing out candy and cakes in a southern Baghdad neighborhood after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a new sewage treatment plant. Half an hour later, as parents and ambulances carried away the wounded, another vehicle nudged into the crowd and exploded. (Washington Post)
  • Powell: "Time to End the Intifada"
    Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an interview on Al Jazeera Wednesday: "You say we blame the victims. Who are the victims? The victims are those who are being blown up by bombs. And then there is the response on the part of the Israelis, who have tried to protect themselves from these bombs by going after individuals who they believe are responsible. And so, there are victims on all sides of this question....What has it [the intifada] accomplished for the Palestinian people? Has it produced progress toward a Palestinian state? Has it defeated Israel on the battlefield? So it is time to end this process. It is time to end the intifada." (State Department)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel's Security Cabinet Approves IDF Operation to Stop Gaza Rockets - Aluf Benn, Amos Harel, Arnon Regular, and Nir Hasson
    Israel's security cabinet approved unanimously on Thursday evening an expanded military ground operation in the Gaza Strip in response to the launching of Kassam rockets and the recent escalation of hostilities in the region. The plan includes IDF operations in areas where rockets can be launched at Sderot, "exacting a price" from terror organizations in Gaza, and preparation for an extended stay in the territory. Defense Minister Mofaz announced a "large-scale and prolonged operation" aimed at pushing the rockets out of range of Sderot and preparing a buffer zone in the northern Gaza Strip. Mofaz declared that Wednesday's "murder of children" was an "unforgivable and intolerable" act, to which Israel must respond.
        "Israeli army activities in the Gaza Strip have a clear objective of enabling Israelis to sit in their living rooms and backyards in peace and without fear of being bombarded by Palestinian rockets and missiles," said David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister's Office. "This is our inherent right, the right to live in peace." (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Moves Into Northern Gaza - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    Palestinian sources reported at least 25 dead in fighting Thursday in Jabalya. They said at least 300 Hamas and members of other Palestinian paramilitary organizations were in position, some traveling from elsewhere in the Gaza Strip.
        IDF Southern Command head, Major General Dan Harel, said Thursday, "There is no country in the world that would be willing to absorb repeated bombing - and therefore we are undertaking intensive action....We have taken action a number of times in the Beit Hanun area, each operation going further than the previous one."
        On Thursday an anti-tank rocket was fired at an IDF armored personnel carrier, injuring three soldiers. In response, an IDF tank fired at the men identified as launching the missile. A perimeter wall of a school was hit, and its collapse killed seven people, among them three children. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Gaza Youngsters Play Deadly Watching Game - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Palestinian witnesses said many of those killed by the tank shell were teenagers - on the street as spectators rather than participants. Growing up during a conflict that prizes "martyrdom" in the fight against Israel, youngsters spill on to the streets nearly as quickly as the gunmen - either to confront the tanks with stones or just to watch. (Reuters)
        See also IDF Targets Rocket Crews, Anti-Tank Rocket Cells - Arieh O'Sullivan and Margot Dudkevitch
    IDF troops operating in the northern Gaza Strip since Wednesday have hit at least six Kassam rocket crews, and ten cells of Palestinian combatants firing or attempting to fire anti-tank rockets at soldiers. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Woman, Two IDF Soldiers Gunned Down in Gaza Strip - Margot Dudkevitch
    Two IDF soldiers and a woman civilian were shot and killed Thursday by terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Staff-Sgt. Gilad Fisher, 22, was killed when Palestinian terrorists approached an IDF position in Beit Hanun, threw grenades, and began shooting. Shulamit Batito, a schoolteacher from Nisanit, was killed along with IDF medic Staff Sgt. Victor Ariel, 20, in a terrorist ambush near Alei Sinai. After Batito, who was jogging, was murdered, soldiers saw the terrorists attempting to drag the woman's body away. In the resulting exchange of fire, Ariel was killed and another soldier was moderately wounded. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Wary Steps in the Gaza Swamp - Ze'ev Schiff
    It is not in the IDF's interest to become mired in the most heavily populated region of Gaza. Nevertheless, it is clear that the IDF will penetrate deeper into the area around Jabalya. The Kassam rocket launches of the last few days have come from Jabalya rather than Beit Hanun, from which most rockets were launched in the past. Many residents of Beit Hanun reportedly took action against the Kassam cells. It is clear a prolonged IDF stay in the Jabalya area will exact a price from the Palestinians in both casualties and property damage.
        Following the last withdrawal from the Beit Hanun area, Israel held talks with leaders of the Palestinian security services in Gaza at which the Palestinians agreed to take responsibility for preventing Kassam launches. However, nothing happened, and Hamas once again began firing rockets. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Can the IDF Stop the Rockets? - Amos Harel
    The IDF's operation in the Gaza Strip consists of large forces entering built-up areas and seeking confrontations with armed Palestinian units to divert them from shooting Kassam rockets at Sderot from Jabalya. The IDF knows that its presence provides only a partial solution to the rocket fire. Hamas and Fatah cells still know how to find launching sites, even from the yards of houses. (Ha'aretz)
  • A War Over Image - Arieh O'Sullivan
    What is going on now is not just a battle to stop Kassam rockets from hitting Sderot - it is also a war over image. Defense officials said Thursday that the army's tactics are aimed at demolishing the Palestinians' attempts to portray Israel's disengagement from Gaza as an action taken under fire, with the Palestinians having chased out the Israelis. They also said that this is the chance to deliver a lethal blow to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups. The IDF will try to draw out Palestinian gunmen to kill them with overwhelming firepower. The operation comes at a time when European voices don't matter and the voices that do matter in Washington are preoccupied with a presidential election, so the IDF will not be under much pressure to quit the northern Gaza Strip anytime soon. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Syria: A Troublemaker Surrounded
    Whatever patience foreign capitals may once have had for groups such as Hamas, and for Syria's succoring them, appears to be wearing thin. The Israeli hit on a senior member of Hamas in Damascus provoked barely a blink from the outside world. It is hardly a secret that recruiters for the Iraqi insurgency have been active in poor, Sunni Muslim areas in Lebanon, as well as in Palestinian refugee camps. It is no secret, either, that these places are tightly controlled by Syrian intelligence: such recruiting could not be pursued without a wink from Damascus.
        Visitors to Fallujah, one of the most rebellious Iraqi towns, say that masked fighters with Syrian accents are everywhere. They are especially noticeable at checkpoints run by the most hardline groups - the ones that take hostages and set off bombs in crowded streets. Money for the insurgents also seems to cross the Iraqi-Syrian border without impediment. The Iraqis say that Syrian intelligence could easily intercept suspicious travelers if they wanted to. But they don't, say the Iraqis, because they would rather the Americans were too bogged down in Iraq to start thinking about regime change in Damascus. (Economist-UK)
  • Jordan Acts to Curb a Rising Chorus of Critics - Scott Wilson
    Jordan rounded up and later released 38 Islamic leaders, activists, and clerics on Sept. 9 for allegedly violating a law prohibiting political commentary inside mosques, as the government faces uncharacteristically strident criticism from a popular Islamic movement over its alliance with the U.S. and diplomatic relations with Israel. Only clerics licensed by the Ministry of Holy Places and Islamic Affairs are allowed to deliver Friday sermons, and they must adhere to regulations that prohibit criticism and political content. Informants file reports to the security services and the religious ministry on the contents of Friday sermons.
        Largely as a reward for King Abdullah's support for the Iraq war, U.S. military and development aid to Jordan nearly tripled in 2003, to more than $1.5 billion. (Washington Post)
  • Israel's Nuclear Program: No Double Standard - Gerald M. Steinberg
    The U.S. and Israel are being accused of "double standards" by denying the Iranian regime the "right" to produce nuclear weapons. The huge differences between Iran and Israel are simply erased from reality. Beyond the imbalances in territory and population, the most important differences are related to core values and objectives. The leaders of Iran's Islamic Republic routinely deny the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty and threaten genocide, but there is no Israeli equivalent. Iran parades Shihab missiles with signs saying "Wipe Israel Off the Map."
        Iranian actions are also without an Israeli equivalent. The Karine A weapons ship caught in January 2002 carrying tons of explosives and shoulder-launched missiles toward Gaza came from Iran. Hizballah, the terror group based in Lebanon that continues to attack Israelis, is led, financed, and trained by Iran. Iran and Hizballah also work closely with Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups, preparing and dispatching suicide bombers. In the murky hell of Iraq's car bombs, evidence of Iranian involvement is becoming stronger. The double standard comes from attempts to justify Iran's nonproliferation violations and to explain away missiles on parade accompanied by genocidal slogans. (International Herald Tribune)
  • Israel Will Negotiate Once Palestinians Abandon Terror - Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Daniel Ayalon
    Unlike Palestinian terrorists, whose primary goal is to kill as many innocent people as possible, Israel, like other democracies, has no choice but to defend itself while doing all it can to minimize civilian casualties even at the risk of the lives of its own soldiers. Tragically, the war against terror became an urgent necessity due to the complete lack of a credible Palestinian effort to curtail terrorism.
        Israel looks forward to returning to the negotiating table in the future, once the Palestinians abandon terror and choose a reliable leadership that genuinely aspires for peace. Meanwhile, Israel will implement the disengagement plan. Once negotiations are renewed, we look forward to working with the United States on implementing the Roadmap for peace. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A New Chapter in Balkan History - Stephen Schwartz
    While Croatia evinces a new and sincere affinity to the Jews and Israel, and genuinely seeks a compact among its various religious communities, a journey through Bosnia-Herzegovina unveils signs of withdrawal from an illustrious heritage of ethnic harmony, and an embrace of an Islamism dominated by the Saudi-financed cult of Wahhabism. Evidence of rising Islamist influence in Sarajevo is also found in the increased adoption of the hijab, or covering, by women, and the exclusion of non-Muslim visitors from historic mosques. As Croatia looks north across its border with Slovenia, which joined the EU earlier this year, for its model, Muslim Bosnia would do much better to emulate its Croatian neighbor than to continue down the slippery slope to Arab-based Islamic radicalism. (FrontPage Magazine)
  • Islamists vs. Democracy - Maneeza Hossain
    Bangladesh has a reputation for moderate Islam, for democracy, and for promoting the rights of women. In 1998, when Osama bin Laden declared "Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders," few took notice that one of his co-signatories was Fazlur Rahman, "emir" of the Jihad Movement in Bangladesh. Nobody in Bangladesh seemed to know who he was. Indeed, the general feeling was that Bangladeshi Islamists, while sometimes noisy, lacked a constituency. Yet today, with the return of migrant workers from Saudi Arabia, they may have found one. The Saudi government has decided to reduce religious militancy among its own young men by pushing a "Saudi-ization" of the workplace, cutting back on foreign employees in favor of Saudis. Returning Bangladeshi workers are not only jobless, but have also been exposed to the intolerant Wahhabism that dominates Saudi Arabia.
        The danger now is that Bangladesh, a country the U.S. had long assumed would always be in the camp of the moderates, has been targeted for conquest by Islamists. The writer, a citizen of Bangladesh, is a research associate at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. (Wall Street Journal, 27 Sep 04)

    Weekend Features:

  • An Iranian Jew's Tales of the Revolution - Nora Boustany
    Roya Hakakian has written a memoir and a coming-of-age story, Journey From the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran, in which she describes a pilgrimage of Jewish community elders to the holy city of Qum, seeking Ayatollah Khomeini's reassurance that they would be safe. During a meeting much later in Tehran, the same elders had to salute the religious leader with cries of "Allahu Akbar," or "God is Great." Against the wishes of their elders, hundreds of young Jewish students joined the revolution, hoping to recast their identities in the fabric of the utopia the revolution promised. (Washington Post)
  • From Beirut to Jerusalem - Eric Trager
    This past summer I lived a lie: to everyone on my Summer Arabic Program at the American University of Beirut, I was German-Irish, Unitarian, and vegetarian. With the exception of one other Jew who had confided his Judaism to me first, nobody knew I was Jewish. What I witnessed in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan is the Arab world as a society in utter mental and philosophical stagnation. (The Justice-Brandeis University)
  • American Tourists Fueling Turnaround in Israel Travel - Michael Matza
    Slowly, surely, the tourism business so vital to Israel's economy is coming back after a four-year slump. American tourists are fueling a turnaround projected to raise hotel occupancy rates by 6 to 7% this year. "There has been a general relaxation of the fear factor," as security inside Israel has improved and the traveling public has adjusted to what everyone here calls "the situation," said Laura Nelson, a veteran tour guide.
        Israeli officials say the number of visitors to Israel increased by 58%, to 821,800 between January and July, compared with the same period last year. At 207,959, Americans made up a quarter of the visitor population, followed by French, British, Russian, Canadian, and Italian tourists. The Sukkot holiday, which runs eight days and begins this week, has Jerusalem and Tel Aviv hotels reporting bookings of 75-80%, and 4,000 Christian tourists, double last year's turnout, are expected for the holiday, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles. Tourism officials predict 1.5 million tourists will visit Israel in 2004. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Scientists Confirm Discovery of Earliest Biblical Verse - John Noble Wilford
    Researchers at the University of Southern California using new photographic and computer imaging techniques have confirmed that two tiny strips of silver found 1979 in a Jerusalem tomb and bearing the inscribed words of a biblical verse from Numbers 6:24-26 date from the First Temple period, just before the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE. The earliest biblical passage ever found in ancient artifacts dates some 400 years before the famous Dead Sea Scrolls. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    The Palestinian Intifada: Lessons and Prospects - Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog
    (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • The major innovation in Palestinian tactics in the second intifada has been the extensive use of suicide bombers, a kind of precision-guided "smart" munition. Hundreds of such bombers, among them women and children, have been launched and have proved to be quite effective. In fact, while suicide bombings have constituted less than 1% of all Palestinian armed attacks, they have been responsible for more than 50% of all Israeli fatalities.
    • Was the intifada an instrument of a deliberate Palestinian policy to discard the pre-Oslo commitment of Arafat to Prime Minister Rabin to settle "all outstanding issues" through peaceful means? From the outset, Arafat made no secret of his view that the uprising could be used to advance Palestinian political goals. In this sense, the intifada was in large measure a top-down phenomenon.
    • Among Israelis, the number of deaths recently passed 1,000. More civilians have been killed due to hostile action during the current intifada than the combined number of civilians killed by terrorism, war, and other hostile action in all the previous years of Israel's existence.
    • Among most Palestinians the use of violence as a political tool remains both popular and legitimate; a sizable percentage believes that anti-Israel violence was the main cause of Israel's decision to withdraw from Gaza. At the same time, there is growing internal criticism of the use of suicide bombers, voiced initially by former prime minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). However, the internal Palestinian debate is not about the ethical dimension of using terror but about its usefulness in promoting the Palestinian cause.
    • One unmistakable outcome of the intifada has been the shrinking of Arafat's standing in both Palestinian politics and on the world stage. An increasing number of Palestinians conclude that he is no longer part of the Palestinian solution but rather a major part of the problem.
    • For Iran and Hizballah, the situation inside the West Bank and Gaza offers a golden opportunity to exercise their "jihadist" identity and beliefs, especially at a time when circumstances compel Hizballah to restrain itself on the Israeli-Lebanese front. According to official Israeli data, Hizballah is currently operating 45 terrorist cells in the West Bank and Gaza, providing funding, know-how, instructions, and operational guidelines. These cells are responsible for about 25% of all Israeli casualties since the beginning of 2004. Hence, efforts to stabilize the situation on the Palestinian front will require dealing with both the internal and the external sources of instability.


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    Today's Daily Alert was published in Israel on the first day of Chol Ha'moed Sukkot.


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