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DAILY ALERT

October 15, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Hizballah Involved in West Bank, Says Israel - Ewen MacAskill (Guardian-UK)
    The Iranian-backed Hizballah is increasingly involved in sending orders and money from its Beirut headquarters into the West Bank, according to a senior Israeli intelligence official.
    The group has 10 "controllers" in Beirut who are in daily contact with Palestinian groups in the West Bank, mainly the al-Aqsa Brigades, the official said.
    Hizballah controls 44 cells in the Palestinian territories that have carried out 62 attacks in which 27 Israelis have been killed and 50 injured, he said.
    Arafat said this week that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, "is working against us and giving money to all these fanatical groups, financing Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and trying to infiltrate Fatah."
    The intelligence official said that, although Hamas received money from Iran, it had resisted Hizballah involvement in Gaza. But he said it was different on the West Bank.
    The official also confirmed that there was regular contact between Israeli intelligence officers and their counterparts in the PA.

    See also Unit 1800 - Ehud Ya'ari (Jerusalem Report)
    Hizballah has become the central player in Palestinian terror warfare.
    We are witnessing the quiet takeover of the military wings of Fatah, Hamas, and the smaller organizations by a foreign militia.
    A special secret wing, "Unit 1800," is coordinating the effort, working alongside Hizballah Secretary General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.
    The Islamic Jihad organization turned into a branch of Hizballah years ago.


PA: Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon Worse than in Territories - Nayla Assaf (Beirut Daily Star)
    Living conditions in Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut are even worse than in camps inside the Palestinian territories, said PA Labor Minister Ghassan Khatib during a visit Wednesday.
    "I was stunned by the refugee camps in Lebanon," he said. "Even in camps in Gaza and Nablus, the situation is better than that of the camps in Lebanon."
    In order to preserve the delicate religious balance of Lebanese society and to assert the right of return, Palestinians are not allowed basic civic rights; they are barred from erecting permanent structures, and from practicing several professions.


Iraq's Spy Chief Accuses Iranian Embassy of Killing Agents (AFP/Yahoo)
    Iraq's national intelligence chief Mohammed al-Shahwani has accused Iran's Baghdad embassy of masterminding an assassination campaign that has seen 18 intelligence agents killed since mid-September.
    Shahwani said a series of raids on three Iranian "safe houses" in Baghdad on September 29 had uncovered a treasure trove of documents linking Iran to plots to kill members of the intelligence service and using the former militia of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) as its tool.
    "A document (showed) that Iran allocated a budget to Badr Corps [the former paramilitary wing of SCIRI], totaling $45 million," he said.


Saddam Bankrolled Palestinian Terrorists - Fraser Nelson (Scotsman-UK)
    The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, whose history of terrorism dates back to the "black September" hijackings of 1970, was personally vetted by Saddam Hussein to receive oil vouchers worth £40 million, according to U.S. investigators from the Iraq Survey Group (ISG).
    His financial support also extended to Abu Al-Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Liberation Front, who was allocated 11.5 million barrels of oil.
    The PLO is also named as a main beneficiary from Saddam's scheme - receiving four million barrels under its own name and five million barrels for its "political bureau."
    The cash was passed through Syria, a known conduit for Palestinian terror organizations.


Saudi Charity Remains Open Despite Order (AP/ABC News)
    Employees at a charity that Washington accuses of financing terrorism reported to work Thursday, despite a Saudi government deadline for the foundation to dissolve.
    The al-Haramain Foundation has been notified of the government decision to close it, a foundation official said, but a committee entrusted with liquidating it has not set a time for its closure.
    This month, a Saudi official said the charity had until Oct. 15 to cease all operations.
    In September, Washington designated al-Haramain as a group suspected of supporting terrorism, saying the charity "shows direct links between the U.S. branch and Osama bin Laden."


Women Barred from Saudi Vote - Dominic Evans (Reuters)
    Saudi Arabia's election committee said on Tuesday women will not take part in the country's first nationwide vote, blaming problems over special polling arrangements for women in the conservative Muslim kingdom.
    The announcement marks a victory for Saudi Arabia's religious establishment, alarmed by even modest reforms in the birthplace of Islam.


Useful Reference:

U.S. Absentee Ballots Fail to Arrive in Israel; Back-Up Alternative Available - Daphna Berman (Ha'aretz)
    With the American elections in under three weeks, a significant number of Americans are still waiting for their absentee ballots.
    American voters in Israel can take advantage of the federal write-in absentee ballot (FWAB), in use since 1988 and designed as an alternative for overseas voters faced with unpredictable mail service and unnavigable bureaucracy.
    The FWAB was made available this week at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the Consulate in Jerusalem; forms must be received by October 21 to be sent via the embassy's internal mail service.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Rockets Deliver Daily Terror to Residents of Israeli Town - Molly Moore
    In the past four years, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have fired more than 325 Kassam rockets at Jewish settlements within the strip and at Israeli towns on its periphery, according to the Shin Bet, the Israeli intelligence agency. In the last 3 1/2 months, four Israelis have been killed, all of them in Sderot. A new warning system implemented Wednesday is a success, said Yehuda Ben Maman, a municipal security officer: "In three schools in Sderot, the students who were in the courtyards were able to run inside of the building when they heard the warning." Kassam rockets are the weapon of choice in the Gaza Strip, which is enclosed by electronic fences, surveillance cameras, and Israeli military patrols. (Washington Post)
  • Saddam, Syria Colluded Under UN Watch - Claudia Rosett
    Packed into the Iraq Survey Group report from CIA chief weapons sleuth Charles Duelfer is news that there were some mighty big crumbs for many countries that loudly defended Saddam during last year's debates at the UN. Take Syria. Saddam's government signed contracts with a Syrian company owned by a relative of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad to buy "portable air defense systems, Kornet antitank guided missiles, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), heavy machine guns, and 20 million machinegun rounds for delivery to Iraq," according to a former high-ranking Iraqi official. Plenty of forbidden items poured through Syria into Iraq, including munitions that may still be killing coalition troops and Iraqi civilians. For the final two years of Saddam's regime, Duelfer's report explains: "Syria was Iraq's primary conduit for illicit imports," handling contracts for $1.2 billion worth of forbidden goods and services, including weapons and military technology. (FOX News)
        See also Duelfer Report Confirms "A Lot of Material Left Iraq and Went to Syria"
    At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Oct. 6, Charles Duelfer, an adviser to the CIA, did not rule out Saddam's transfer of Iraqi missiles and weapons of mass destruction to Syria. Duelfer agreed that a large amount of material had been transferred by Iraq to Syria before the March 2003 war. "A lot of materials left Iraq and went to Syria," Duelfer said. "There was certainly a lot of traffic across the border points. We've got a lot of data to support that, including people discussing it. But whether in fact in any of these trucks there was WMD-related materials, I cannot say." (Geostrategy-Direct)
  • Mortar Attacks from Syria on the Rise
    American troops stationed along Iraq's border with Syria are coming under increasing mortar attack from shells fired from Syrian territory, but it's unclear who's responsible, U.S. officers said Thursday. U.S. Marines, who patrol a 250-mile stretch of mostly desert terrain between the two countries, say the Syrians have not been helpful in securing their side of the border. (AP/Seattle Times)
  • France and U.S. Circulate New Resolution Urging Syria to Withdraw from Lebanon
    France and the U.S. introduced a UN resolution Thursday urging Syria for a second time in six weeks to withdraw from Lebanon and calling for quarterly reports from Secretary-General Kofi Annan on its progress. The two countries decided to keep up their pressure after Algeria, Pakistan, and other Security Council members opposed a presidential statement they introduced seeking the same action. While presidential statements need approval from all 15 council members before they are read in the council chamber, resolutions are put to a vote. Syrian troops have been in Lebanon for 28 years. (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Annan Says UN Will Prevent Illegal Use of Its Vehicles
    The Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Wednesday that the Secretary-General is committed to preventing the illegal use of UN vehicles or facilities by armed militants. (UN)
        See also Israel Calls for Ouster of UN Official - Herb Keinon
    The UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, should be removed from his post for urging the EU to suspend ties with Israel, Israeli officials said Thursday. According to AFP, Ziegler has called on the EU to suspend its association agreement with Israel and hints of the use of possible sanctions. Daniel Meron, head of the Foreign Ministry's human rights and organizations department, said that Ziegler, a Swiss university lecturer and leader in the Socialist International, is a constant critic of Israel and abuses his mandate by unfairly "singling out Israel." UN Watch submitted a dossier against Ziegler to the UN Commission on Human Rights in July, saying his actions "evince a pattern of selective treatment of Israel." (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF to Redeploy in Gaza - Amos Harel, Aluf Benn, and Arnon Regular
    This weekend IDF troops will begin moving out of the outskirts of Jabalya, Beit Lahiya, and Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip. Deputy Defense Minister Ze'ev Boim said Friday that the pullback was a gesture to the Palestinians ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that begins Friday. The operation will continue, but with a reduction in the number of troops taking part. The IDF will remain on alert and ready to push into the Gaza Strip in the event that rocket attacks on Sderot persist. (Ha'aretz)
  • Egypt to Deploy Troops Along the Border with Israel - Herb Keinon
    Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman told U.S. congressmen in Washington last week that Egypt plans to deploy troops along the border with Israel by the beginning of 2005. According to the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement, the Egyptians are only allowed to have civilian police armed with light weapons in the area. During the summer, the two sides were talking about an exchange of letters that would allow the introduction of between 100 and 130 border patrolmen on the Egyptian side of the Gaza border, who would be more heavily armed and better able to battle smugglers.
      Egypt is also interested in training a special Palestinian unit to put an end to the firing of Kassam rockets from Gaza, said Suleiman. However, Israeli diplomatic officials said the issue is not one of training but of Palestinian willingness to combat the launches. Suleiman also met in Washington with U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and asked Rice to pressure Israel to talk to the PA about disengagement. According to reports reaching Jerusalem, Rice said there is no one to talk to. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arafat Targets Critics - Arnon Regular
    Senior officials in Arafat's bureau have been extremely busy in recent weeks preparing files documenting apparent corruption among his political opponents in the PA and in the Fatah organization. One such report relates to former minister of information and prominent Arafat critic Nabil Amr, who was shot by unknown gunmen a few months ago and had his leg amputated. The purpose of the report clearly seems to be to broadcast a message to senior PA officials, and to show them the fate awaiting those who fall out of favor with Arafat. Amr, who is in Germany undergoing medical treatment, said in response that anyone who reads the report understands that it was written by people with bad intentions, and that its conclusions were written in advance, even before the investigation. (Ha'aretz)
  • Anarchy Growing in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh
    In recent weeks the Gaza Strip witnessed a series of criminally motivated murders, kidnappings, and armed robberies, prompting Palestinian officials on Thursday to expressed concern at the growing state of anarchy and lawlessness. Earlier this week, masked gunmen stormed the offices of Fatah in Bureij refugee camp and shot to death 25-year-old Mohammed Abdel Karim Issa, a brother of Adnan Issa, a top Fatah leader, and Marwan Issa, the commander of Hamas in the camp.
        In the past few weeks, two senior PA security officers were murdered in Gaza City by unidentified gunmen. In addition, Ahmed Mushtaha, a 26-year-old student from Gaza City, was gunned down by masked men two weeks ago. Last week the Tufah neighborhood of Gaza City was the scene of a double murder, where a young woman and her uncle were poisoned for desecrating their family's honor. On Monday, three gunmen kidnapped a wealthy merchant who was carrying a large sum of money, releasing him after taking all his money and car. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Portent of Egypt's Future - Jonathan Eric Lewis
    The terrorist attacks in Sinai last week, which targeted Israelis as well as the Egyptian tourist industry, could well mark the beginning of another protracted struggle between an authoritarian regime in Cairo that has ruled with emergency laws since the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981 and its Islamist adversaries. Although Egypt is often viewed as a moderate Arab state and as a beacon of stability, the country's political and intellectual life has been awash in fanaticism and a cult of violence for the past century. In addition to Saudi Arabia, Egypt has been the source for much of the region's Islamist extremism.
        Beyond the veneer of stability and the pro-American stance of the government, Egypt has endemic unemployment, high rates of illiteracy, and deep-rooted religious intolerance. While the "cold peace" between the Egyptian and Israeli militaries has lasted since the signing of the Camp David Accords, the Egyptian media has been persistent in its incitement against both Israel and Jews. The media and intellectual elite often employ anti-Semitic caricatures in order to distract popular attention away from the regime's corruption and ineptitude. (Wall Street Journal Europe, 15 Oct 04)
  • Rethinking the Intifada - Amir Taheri
    The Palestinian hope that the intifada might persuade large numbers of Israelis to leave the Jewish state has not materialized. Israel's net population loss is estimated at around 15,000 a year, but the Palestinian loss, estimated at around 18,000 a year, is more significant because it concerns a smaller population base. Palestine, as a political issue, has, over the past 50 years, been transformed into an abstract, metaphysical, and almost mystical cause, one that can no longer be tackled through worldly methods such as diplomacy. For decades, the only solution acceptable to those who professed that cause was a complete rewinding of the reel of history to the pre-1947 era. After the Six-Day War, the realization that such a rewind would not happen led to a new illusion: a return to June 4, 1967.
        After 1991 those who saw Palestine as a cause devised a new slogan: "just peace." The problem is that the phrase "just peace" (and variants such as "the peace of the brave") are oxymoronic. Peace is peace, with no prefixes or suffixes. A peace that appears just to one party must, be definition, appear unjust to another. Many Palestinians would regard any peace that leaves a Jewish state in place in any shape as unjust. Palestinians must ask whether or not they are prepared to accept the "injustice" of Israel's existence and, if yes, in what shape. (New York Post)
  • Arafat's Local Election Gambit - Ben Lynfield
    The PA is organizing the first local elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1976. Registration for the elections was due to close Wednesday and the first round of polling is slated for Dec. 9. The PA sees the vote as a prelude to legislative and presidential elections and as an initiative that could give a major boost to Arafat's legitimacy and help answer calls for democratic reform. The risk for the PA, however, is that Hamas will be crowned the most popular Palestinian political faction, at least in Gaza. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Redefining the Palestinian Problem - Martin Sherman
    The Palestinians' violent rejection of the far-reaching Barak initiative underscores that the chances of reaching a political resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are highly remote. Well over a decade after having the generous Oslo Accords virtually thrust upon them by an Israeli administration that acknowledged their claims for independence, the Palestinians have done nothing but produce a repressive and regressive interim regime run by cruel, corrupt thugs who have pillaged their people. Indeed, the Palestinian state has perhaps the unique distinction of achieving "failed state" status before it was actually established.
        The fuel of the conflict is not the lack of Palestinian self-determination but the existence of Jewish self-determination, and that as long as Jewish self-determination persists, so will the conflict. The goal of the Palestinians is not to establish a state for themselves but to dismantle a state for the Jews. (American Spectator)
  • A Survivor of Palestinian Tyranny Defends Israel - Brigitte Gabriel
    I was raised in Lebanon where I was taught that the Jews were evil, Israel was the devil, and the only time we will have peace in the Middle East is when we kill all the Jews and drive them into the sea. When the Muslims and Palestinians declared Jihad on the Christians in 1975, they started massacring the Christians city after city in Lebanon. It was Israel that came to help the Christians in Lebanon. My mother was wounded by a Muslim's shell and was taken to an Israeli hospital for treatment. I was shocked to see the doctors treat my mother before they treated the Israeli soldier lying next to her. Those 22 days at that hospital changed my life. I realized that I had been sold a fabricated lie by my government about the Jews and Israel that was far from reality. I knew that if I was a Jew standing in an Arab hospital, I would be lynched to shouts of "Allahu Akbar."
        Once behavior is legitimized against Israel, it is legitimized everywhere in the world. Because the Palestinians have been encouraged to believe that murdering innocent Israeli civilians is a legitimate tactic for advancing their cause, the whole world now suffers from a plague of terrorism. From a speech delivered at the Duke University Counter Terrorism Speak-Out on Thursday. View video of speech (Phyllis Chesler/FrontPageMagazine)
  • A Jewish-Christian Rift? Liberal Churches Have Become Irrationally Hostile to Israel - Rod Dreher
    Last month, the Washington-based Institute of Religion and Democracy released the disturbing results of a four-year study of human rights criticism issued by four mainline churches - the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America - as well as the mainline-dominated World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches. It found that the overwhelming number of human rights complaints focused not on China, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, or any number of nations ruled by brutal, oppressive regimes. No, these liberal churches spent most of their time blaming the U.S. and Israel for the ills of the world. (Dallas Morning News)
        See also Mainline Protestants Have Become More Supportive of Israel - William McKenzie
    A new survey by the University of Akron's John Green reveals mainline Protestants are pretty evenly divided about U.S. policy toward Israel. When asked whether Washington should favor Israel over the Palestinians, 37% of mainliners said no and 33% said yes. By a margin of 14%, more conservative mainliners favor Israel. And moderate mainliners go with Israel by a 2% margin. The more liberal mainliners by a 30% margin don't think the U.S. should favor Israel over the Palestinians. Over time, most mainliners have been trending toward Israel. In the 1992 version of the Akron survey, mainline Protestants were more solidly against Israel. Not now. (Dallas Morning News)
  • Don't Put Your Faith in the Killers - Tammam Abushakra
    The increasing senselessness of violent acts committed in the name of Islam is now making significant waves in Arab and Muslim civil societies. The horrors of Islamist terrorism have had disastrous material consequences for Arab and Muslim peoples and the causes they hold dear. Muslims and their cherished faith have been forever linked to "terrorism" in the minds of many around the world. Al-Qaeda's plans for the Muslim world are not more pleasant than those they have for the West, though many have now caught on after seeing al-Qaeda-affiliated groups unleashing violence against Arabs and Muslims in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. (Beirut Daily Star)
  • Neo Anti-Semitism in Today's Italy - Sergio I. Minerbi
    Neo anti-Semitism, camouflaged as anti-Zionism, is spreading in Italy today. Three important Italian intellectuals are part of this phenomenon - Sergio Romano, Alberto Asor Rosa, and Barbara Spinelli. They accuse Israel respectively of being a war-mongering, imperialist, arrogant nation, affirming the racial superiority of the Jewish people, and Italian Jews of having double and contradictory loyalties. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
  • Observations:

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

    • The outbreak of Palestinian violence in late September 2000 peaked in March 2002, a month during which 135 Israelis were killed and over 700 wounded. Lethal attacks occurred almost daily, and Israelis lost their sense of personal and national security.
    • In response, the Israeli government adopted two strategic decisions designed to halt the deteriorating situation: first, to implement large-scale and continuous offensive measures to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure inside Palestinian cities and refugee camps, an effort that evolved into "Operation Defensive Shield"; and second, to take the defensive step of constructing a physical barrier - the West Bank fence - to block the free passage of terrorists into Israel.
    • After long internal deliberation, Israel concluded that its campaign against terrorism would be best served if the "political" leadership of such groups as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad no longer enjoyed immunity from retaliation. The Israeli mindset evolved from dealing solely with suicide bombers to dealing with the producers and launchers of these "ticking bombs." It took Israel more than three years to reach the decision to eliminate Yassin and Rantisi. The result of these actions was a considerable weakening of Hamas.
    • Since March 2002, Israel has managed to reduce the number of terrorist attacks as well as the number of its fatalities by about 70%.
    • There is still no shortage of Palestinian young people willing to volunteer for suicide bombings. Their motivation emanates primarily from the deteriorating political and socioeconomic situation and from extremist indoctrination, which continues unabated and has yet to be delegitimized by any political or spiritual authority.


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