Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Hamas Sees Renewal of Armed Activities (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
at the Center for Special Studies)
- September 29, 2005
Issue of the Week:
Social Welfare in Israel
New Groups Planning London Attacks - Rosie Cowan (Guardian-UK)
Lebanon's Army Tightens Grip on Palestinian Militia (Reuters)
Arab League: Three Arab States in Touch with Israel (DPA/Khaleej Times-UAE)
Normalizing with Israel - Abdel Wahab Badrakhan (Dar Al-Hayat-Lebanon)
Uzbeks Stop Working With U.S. Against Terrorism - Robin Wright
Thai General: Indonesians in on Thai Insurgency - Sutin Wannabovorn (AP/Charlotte Observer)
Saudi Prince Increases Stake in FOX Broadcasting - Sandy Brown (TheStreet.com)
Israeli GDP to Grow 5.1% in 2005 (Globes)
New Documentary Explores Post-9/11 Antisemitism - Talya Halkin (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The Palestinian Authority must immediately start to exert control over Gaza, a senior Bush administration official said on Thursday, suggesting it was a prerequisite to restarting the "road map" peace process and addressing Palestinian issues on the West Bank. The official acknowledged that renewed violence was "not helpful" to U.S.-sponsored peace efforts, saying "it shows the need for the PA to reorganize its security forces and step forward and take control of the security situation in Gaza." The violence has dampened hopes that Israel's troop pullout from Gaza, completed on Sept. 12, would help jump-start the "road map." Exercising control over Gaza is expected to dominate talks in Washington on Oct. 20 between President Bush and Mahmoud Abbas. (Reuters)
The militant group Hamas captured up to one-third of the votes in Palestinian municipal elections held Thursday, according to preliminary unofficial results, a solid showing that could presage its performance in parliamentary balloting early next year. (Los Angeles Times)
See also Fatah Ahead in Palestinian Local Election, Official Says - Wafa Amr
In Palestinian local elections on Thursday, of the 104 local councils up for election in the West Bank, Fatah won control of 61 compared with 28 for Hamas and 15 for other factions, said Jamal al-Shobaki, head of the Higher Commission for Local Elections. Hamas decided to run in only 56 relatively large municipalities. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
See also Hamas Protests Fatah Election Violations (Palestinian Information Center-UK)
Egyptian police in the Sinai peninsula shot dead on Wednesday one of the men suspected in the bombings which killed 67 people in the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in July, the Egyptian Interior Ministry said. Moussa Mohamed Salem Badran, a resident of El Arish, had refused to surrender and opened fire on policemen who tried to arrest him in the Mount Halal area. "Badran played a prominent role in preparing and carrying out the Sharm el-Sheikh attacks," the ministry said. Egyptian authorities say the bombers are Sinai Bedouin, some of them with Palestinian connections. (Reuters)
Lawrence A. Franklin, a Pentagon analyst charged with providing classified information to an Israeli official and members of a pro-Israel lobbying group, will plead guilty, according to the U.S. District Court clerk's office. Franklin was indicted in June on charges of leaking classified materials - including information about potential attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq - to two members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and an Israeli official. (AP/New York Times)
See also Ex-AIPAC Aide to Seek Dismissal of Case - Ori Nir
Steve Rosen, the former pro-Israel lobbyist indicted for allegedly conspiring to obtain and disclose classified information, intends to ask a federal judge to dismiss his case on the grounds that the government has refused to disclose key evidence. According to sources close to the case, federal prosecutors are refusing to release recordings of phone conversations intercepted by the FBI, in which Rosen allegedly referred to classified information that he had obtained. (Forward)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Khan Yunis' governor has replaced the windows in his office twice in the past week. Those who promised that if the children in the southern Israeli town of Sderot won't be able to sleep at night, the same would be true for Gaza's children, got their wish. Since the beginning of the week, every two hours almost, during daylight, an F-16 flies through the Gaza sky, leaving behind it a sonic boom, destruction, and anxiety. Every night, in order to disturb the residents' sleep, the airplanes appear twice. For the Air Force, those sonic booms are a true operation. The Strip is short after all, it takes seconds to fly over it, and the boom must appear in the right place. Every time the planes fly a little lower, to enhance the effect.
On Tuesday, IDF commanders in Gaza told Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz that the Palestinians cannot recall such an aerial assault. Mofaz rejected out of hand the possibility of easing the pressure. On the contrary, he wouldn't mind seeing more pressure. The way he sees it, we haven't yet reached the peak. In recent days, every 12 hours, an artillery battery fires at the partition between residential Palestinian areas in Beit Hanoun and the Israeli border. In principle, it's an agriculture area, but as long as Kassam rockets are fired from there, nobody will be walking around there.
However, the artillery is merely dessert. The "big show" belongs to the Air Force for which the Strip has turned into a test ground for combat doctrines dealing with aerial control over urban areas. Aircraft maintain a continuous presence over the area, prepared for strikes within seconds of identifying the targets. A large number of the Kassams fired at Israeli targets were photographed by special intelligence systems. The weapon systems required to destroy the Kassams were not always available, but the Air Force is learning, and improving. The objective is to create an "effective ceiling of intelligence and fire" above the Gaza Strip. (Ynet News)
Israel's response to the recent Kassam rocket attacks on Sderot has been measured and appropriate, Kim Howells, Britain's Minister of State for the Middle East, said Wednesday. "The world will understand [Israelis] are trying to defend their citizens, which after all is the primary responsibility of any government," he said.
Howells, on a visit to the region, hinted that financial aid to the PA might be withheld if it did not seriously begin tackling the terrorism in its midst. "The Palestinians are receiving more aid per capita than any other people on the face of the earth, and we want to see some proper response," he said. "We have already pledged an enormous amount of aid here, but I certainly want to make clear that this is not limitless and we expect results." "Sooner or later [the Palestinians] have to take a tough decision and start disarming the armed factions within Gaza and the West Bank. If they don't, how can the rest of the world have any confidence in their ability to bring good governance to these areas?"
Howells dismissed PA claims that it doesn't have the wherewithal to effectively take on Hamas. "Look, they have 60,000 troops in the PA, they have all the equipment they need. What they need is the political will to do it," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
See also French FM: PA Must Control Gaza Security Situation (AP/Jerusalem Post)
Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Thursday that Palestinian success in Gaza would be an important confidence-building measure for Israel. In an interview with the Kuwaiti daily al-Raialaam, Peres also said: "If he (Abbas) doesn't fight Hamas, they will fight him. In doing so, they will wipe out the Palestinian dream of establishing an independent state." In addition, Peres said the West Bank security fence was the result of terror attacks. "Stop the attacks and there won't be any more fence." (Ynet News)
Palestinian terrorists fired two mortar shells at an IDF base north of the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the army said. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Well, that didn't take long. Last Friday, just a month after Israel abandoned Gaza to the Palestinians, Hamas unleashed a rocket barrage against adjacent Jewish communities. Where was Mahmoud Abbas, the PA's lackluster and largely ineffective president, during this ominous imbroglio? Where he usually is: pontificating in Ramallah far from the action, charging that Israel was unjustified and must stop ''military escalation.'' Abbas never tires of talking out of both sides of his mouth. In early September he praised those who died, including suicide bombers, for helping to force Israel's Gaza withdrawal. He repeatedly implies that the struggle doesn't end there. Jerusalem and the West Bank are next. And despite fervent promises, Abbas seems incapable of fulfilling his well-publicized commitment to curb terrorism. He has done little to end rampant corruption, violence, and chaos. Yet, international largess blithely flows unabated. (Miami Herald)
Palestinian columnist Hassan al-Batal wrote this week in the Ramallah daily Al-Ayyam of Amana Abu al-Husseinim, five of whose children are in the hospital because of an explosion during a victory parade organized by Hamas in Jabalya last week during which a truck filled with explosives blew up. "Amana's tragedy is a result of the practice of all the organizations to recruit children in order to increase the size of their parades, and of the practice of having armed parades," Al-Batal says.
Hamas is getting on a lot of people's nerves these days. Former Kuwaiti education minister-turned columnist Dr. Ahmad Al-Rab'i wrote in the London-based daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat: "What is the excuse for these victory parades in Gaza? Why, instead of the Palestinians being happy over the Israeli withdrawal and returning to plant their uprooted orchards, clean their streets, and build public institutions, do they have military parades?" "We ask how long they will shoot those primitive missiles at Israel, which do no more than make a loud boom or at most kill a few civilians? Do they have any military advantage?" (Ha'aretz)
In a rare instance of UN willingness to vigorously investigate rogue states implicated in terrorism, the team investigating the Feb. 14 bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 20 other people appears to be building a case that the Syrian government was behind the murder. Even though Syria withdrew its troops from Lebanon five months ago, the threat from Syrian intelligence agents remains a major concern in Lebanon. Over the past year, Lebanese critics of Syria have been victimized by a grisly series of bombings, and prominent Lebanese politicians, including Rafiq Hariri's son, Sa'ad, recently elected prime minister of the country, and Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt have been spending a great deal of time in Europe - allegedly for fear of assassination by Syrian operatives. (Washington Times)
One of the keys to defeating any guerrilla movement is to cut off its outside support. The extremists attacking U.S. forces and our allies continue to receive sanctuary and support from neighboring states, notably Pakistan and Syria. Not pushing harder on Musharraf is perhaps understandable because of the widespread fear that toppling him would result in a more anti-American regime. Less explicable is our failure to apply greater pressure on Syria, whose regime is already as anti-American as it gets and which continues to act as a conduit for terrorists infiltrating Iraq. Foreign jihadis may be only a small part of the overall Iraqi insurgency, but they are its most vicious element - the monsters who drive cars filled with explosives into crowds of Shiites.
How has Syria been held accountable? Have U.S. and Iraqi troops crossed the border to destroy terrorist safe houses? The U.S. economic sanctions are toothless because there is almost no trade between Syria and the U.S. in the first place. The EU, ever helpful, has actually been moving to expand economic links with Syria by granting it "associate" membership. (Los Angeles Times)
In terms of concrete results, the September 7 presidential elections did not produce much change in Egypt's political system. At the age of 77, Husni Mubarak, Egypt's ruler for 24 years, was elected to a fifth six-year term with an overwhelming majority of 86.6%. Ayman Nour, head of the "al-Ghad" (Tomorrow) Party, won 7.3%; Nu'man Guma'a, the Wafd Party candidate, got 2.8%. However, these elections actually constitute an important mile-stone in Egyptian political development. For the first time in more than half a century, opposition parties were allowed to challenge the monopoly of power in the hands of the ruling party and to field a presidential candidate of their own. The principle that only the ruling party nominates presidential candidates has been abandoned, and opposition elements have been energized by the greater freedom of political mobility and maneuver afforded by the election.
The pre-election period witnessed wide-ranging political activity, a relatively open and unprecedented public debate about regime performance and opposition platforms, and a particularly noteworthy outburst of strident press criticism of the regime and its leader. Opposition spokesmen were able to reach large sectors of the public, primarily by means of the large public rallies that would have been unimaginable only a few months before. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies-Tel Aviv University)
Waziristan is part of the Federally Administered Tribal Territories, an area roughly the size of Vermont. This 10,000 square miles of peaks and valleys set against the Hindu Kush Mountains is dotted with caves, tunnels and walled compounds, any one of which could be hosting the world's most famous fugitive. This is the area that Osama bin Laden and several hundred al-Qaeda fighters escaped to after the battle of Tora Bora in January of 2002. With the assistance of extremists in Pakistan, they set up headquarters and training camps and operated freely for more than two years until the U.S. pressured Gen. Musharraf into mounting a military operation against them.
Tens of thousands of soldiers were sent in, paid for by the American government to crush al-Qaeda, kill or capture what was described as a "high value target," and stop remnants of the Taliban from crossing into Afghanistan to attack American troops. The Pakistani Army was met with heavy resistance. The army says it has driven al-Qaeda from its base camps, but the enemy is still here. The terrain is not the only thing in Waziristan that's unfriendly. The local Pashtoon tribesmen are Pakistani in name only. They have their own language and customs, and are governed by their own tribal laws. In fact, CIA Chief Porter Goss as much as said that he believed that bin Laden was hiding in the tribal territories in Pakistan, and was being protected by the Pakistani government. (CBS News-60 Minutes)
Since summer 2003, the city of Somerville in the metropolitan Boston area has been the battleground for a municipal divestment initiative against Israel. Previous anti-Israel divestment campaigns had focused mainly on universities. The Somerville Divestment Project sought divestment of holdings in Israeli government bonds and stocks of companies engaged in military business with Israel. Its target was the Somerville Retirement Board, which manages the pensions of city employees. The mayor of Somerville threatened to veto the proposition if it passed. Sensing danger, the Jewish community quickly united against the campaign and in December 2004, the Somerville aldermen voted against it. (Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism/JCPA)
A First-Temple-period seal has been discovered amidst piles of rubble from Jerusalem's Temple Mount in what could prove to be an historic find, Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay said Tuesday. The small - less than 1 cm - seal impression, or bulla, discovered would mark the first time that a written artifact was found from the Temple Mount dating back to the First Temple period. The 2,600-year-old artifact, with three lines in ancient Hebrew, was discovered amidst the rubble discarded by the Islamic Wakf. Barkay and a team of archaeologists and volunteers are sifting through it on the grounds of a Jerusalem national park.
The seal, which predates the destruction of the First Jewish temple in 586 BCE, was the first of its kind from the time of King David, Barkay said. He has not yet determined what the writing is on the seal, although three Hebrew letters - thought to be the name of its owner - are visible on one of its lines. With a license from the Antiquities Authority, Barkay has found scores of history-rich artifacts including a large amount of pottery dating from the Bronze Ages through modern times, a large segment of a marble pillar's shaft, and over 100 ancient coins, among them several from the Hasmonean Dynasty. (Jerusalem Post)
See also The Destruction of the Temple Mount Antiquities (JCPA;1Aug02)
Israel unveiled an underground archaeological site near the Western Wall on Tuesday, including a ritual bath, or mikveh, from the period of the Second Jewish Temple, destroyed in 70 CE, and a wall that archaeologists said dates to the First Jewish Temple, destroyed in 586 BCE. The findings strengthen Jewish ties to the shrine. The new tourist center snakes underground, adjacent to the path of the Western Wall, the last remaining retaining wall of the Temple. When the center is opened in a few weeks, visitors will be presented with a sound and light show of Jewish biblical history, highlighting recent discoveries of artifacts and infrastructure dating back thousands of years, including one of the world's oldest aqueducts. (AP/Ha'aretz)
Nearly all the tunnels that the IDF destroyed are now undergoing a rehabilitation process. Owners whose tunnels were discovered and destroyed want to save their enormous financial investment and are already looking for or have already found a new route that will connect them to the section of the tunnel that was not blocked.
To own a tunnel in Rafah is a profitable business. The cost of building an average one, 800 meters long, is approximately $30,000. Another $30,000 has to be added to pay the owner of the house under which the tunnel is dug - a great deal of money in Gaza terms but a drop in the ocean compared to the profits a good tunnel can yield with Gaza's craving for imported merchandise. An active tunnel can yield for the entrepreneur and his partners close to $500,000 in one smuggling operation. (Ha'aretz)
A Hamas Headquarters in Saudi Arabia? - Matthew Levitt
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