Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

May 25, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Seeks to Attack Israeli Skyscrapers with Planes - Aaron Klein (New York Sun)
    Hamas is seeking the ability to attack Israel using small airplanes laden with explosives to be flown September 11-style into Tel Aviv skyscrapers, a leader of Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Abu Abdullah, said Wednesday.
    Palestinian security officials said they believe Hamas recently smuggled into Gaza three small airplanes that can carry explosives and be used to attack Israel.
    They said the aircraft were purchased from Eastern European dealers and that Hamas members received flight training in Sudan, Iran, and Syria.


British Police Detain Nine in Anti-Terrorism Raids (ABC News/Reuters)
    Five hundred police officers raided houses in Britain's biggest cities on Wednesday in a major crackdown on people suspected of playing a role in terrorism overseas.


Iran Students Protest over Increased Restrictions (Reuters)
    Stone-throwing Iranian students fought police and Islamic vigilantes on Wednesday in protest against restrictions imposed by the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
    Senior student leader Abdollah Momeni said up to 2,000 students had gathered for the protest over the expulsion of some students and the way authorities had been handling critics.
    He said 20 had been seized by Islamic vigilantes who broke into the dormitories.


Saudis to Buy 72 Eurofighters (AFP/Defense News)
    Britain will sign a deal with Saudi Arabia before the end of July to supply the kingdom with 72 Eurofighter Typhoon jets, a diplomatic source was quoted as saying by the London business daily City A.M.
    The Typhoon Eurofighter, manufactured by BAE Systems in partnership with other European countries, will replace the Tornado warplanes supplied to the Saudis two decades ago.


Indonesia to Allow Tennis Team to Compete in Israel (AP/Santa Barbara News-Press)
    Indonesia will allow its Fed Cup women's tennis team to play in Israel in July despite the absence of diplomatic relations between the nations, August Ferry Raturandang, deputy secretary-general of Indonesia's tennis association, said Wednesday.


Useful Reference:

Jerusalem Day Commemorated on Thursday, May 25 - One Nation's Capital throughout History - Eli E. Hertz (Myths & Facts)


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Olmert to Congress: For a Lasting Peace, We Need a Partner Who Rejects Violence - William Branigin
    At a joint meeting of Congress Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Hamas, which runs the Palestinian Authority, "an organization committed to vehement anti-Semitism, the glorification of terror, and the total destruction of Israel." "As long as these are their guiding principles, they can never be a partner. Therefore, while Israel works to ensure that the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population are met, we can never capitulate to terrorists or terrorism." At the same time, he said, "the Palestinians will forever be our neighbors; they are an inseparable part of this land, as are we. Israel has no desire to rule over them nor to oppress them." (Washington Post)
        See also View Video of Olmert's Speech to Congress (Reuters)
        See also below Observations: Prime Minister of Israel Addresses U.S. Congress (Foreign Ministry)
  • Donor Aid Mechanism for Palestinians May Be Delayed - David Brunnstrom
    Donor nations agreed on Wednesday to move ahead with an aid mechanism to prevent the collapse of essential services to Palestinians, but still differ on its scope, making a June start date uncertain, diplomats said in Brussels. Some EU states like France favor funds for education as well as health and even the police. Others, like Britain, want funding limited to health, at least initially. (Reuters)
  • Spain Becoming Favored Destination for Palestinians - Luke Baker
    Mohammed Zaghal and his friends have no doubt about where they would rather be: Spain. Since the Islamic group Hamas won Palestinian elections in January, the number seeking to escape has risen sharply, locals say. "Everyone in Jenin just wants to get out," says Zaghal, 24, who used to work in Israel until a Palestinian uprising began.
        Zaghal's brother Fida, 26, is already in Spain. Earlier this year, he traveled first to Jordan and then boarded a flight to Cuba, for which he did not need a visa. When the plane landed for a brief stopover in Madrid, he got off and requested political asylum. He is now getting financial support and receiving Spanish lessons. Some have told Spanish authorities that they are supporters of Fatah, Hamas' rival, and that they need asylum to escape Hamas threats. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Peres Retracts Proposal for Joint Industrial Zone with PA - Gideon Alon
    Vice Premier Shimon Peres Wednesday retracted his proposal to establish joint industrial zones with the Palestinian Authority near Israel's border with Gaza, saying such areas would be open targets of terror for which Israel would have to bear the brunt of the security responsibilities. Similar zones had already been established at the Erez and Karni crossings on the Gaza border. Peres said the appropriate location for such zones would be on the Gaza-Egypt border, rather than on Gaza's border with Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Fatah Security Chief Killed in Gaza Blast
    Nabil Hodhod, head of the PA Preventive Security Service in central Gaza, had just gotten into his car Wednesday when a bomb went off, killing him and wounding his deputy. Hodhod was loyal to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The attack followed the kidnapping in Gaza of three Hamas men. One of the men was killed, and all three were either beaten up or shot before being dumped outside a gas station. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Hits Home in Israeli Moshav
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets at Israel on Wednesday afternoon, one landing in an empty house in Moshav Netiv Ha'asara. There were no reports of casualties but the house was damaged. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Michal Greenberg
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets that hit open areas in the western Negev before dawn Thursday. An IDF patrol also came under fire while driving along the border fence with Gaza on Thursday morning. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Rocket Fire Turns Israel's Southern Coast into War Zone - Uriel Heilman
    With a Hamas-run quasi-state next door in Gaza, there is constant rocket fire in the direction of neighboring Israeli communities and daily attempts by Palestinians to infiltrate into Israel. More than a dozen civilians, including several Palestinians, have been killed by rocket fire, and militants have stepped up their attacks since Israel withdrew from Gaza last summer. No rockets have reached Ashkelon yet but some have fallen in the industrial zone just south of the city, where a major power station, desalination plant, oil refinery, and more than 60 other factories are located. Anat Wienstein-Berkovits, a spokesperson for Ashkelon's mayor, says the rockets are terrorizing the 5,000-plus people who work in the industrial zone. (JTA/Canadian Jewish News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • An Arab Backlash Against Hamas? - Editorial
    Hamas' relations with Jordan are worsening, and the same may be about to occur with Egypt. Hamas' most serious problem is with Jordan, where security forces last month arrested 20 of its members. Amman accuses Hamas of smuggling detonators, rocket launchers, and explosives into the country from Syria. Authorities believe Hamas was planning attacks against targets in Jordan. Security officials in Jordan have said they have a tape-recorded conversation between Khaled Meshaal, the Damascus-based chief of Hamas' ruling council, and a member of the terror cell targeting Jordan.
        Egypt's Interior Ministry said Tuesday that the three suicide bombers who attacked Dahab last month had been sent by an Egyptian jihadist to Gaza for training in bomb-making techniques, and that police had detained a number of Egyptians who trained in Gaza, one of whom admitted receiving a congratulatory message from "Palestinian elements" after the bombings were carried out. (Washington Times)
        See also Scholars: Islamists Hungry for Power - Yaakov Lappin
    A conference at Bar-Ilan University this week entitled "Radical Islam: Challenge and Response" offered an array of opinions on the current state of the global Islamist threat, as well as ways for the West to counter the menace. Professor Martin Kramer of Tel Aviv University warned that Egypt in particular is at risk by Hamas' ascension to power and the increase of al-Qaeda activities in Gaza and Sinai. "Egypt has to step up its security umbrella to include what is happening in Gaza. If Gaza itself turns into a kind of mini-Afghanistan, with Taliban-like formations, then Egypt will feel it before Israel," Kramer said. He also warned that the "Jordanian Muslim Brothers are looking forward to the 2007 elections, as an election in which they will take parliamentary power."  (Ynet News)
  • Gaza Melts Down - Mitchell Prothero
    I started calling it a civil war when the family of a slain bodyguard took over the lobby of my hotel and began firing at the Hamas gunmen across the street. Bullets flying around, black-shirted gunmen counterattacking, and pools of blood on the floor of my hotel lobby - that's not journalism, it's getting shot at. A lot of the goodwill toward the foreign journalist dries up when it's Arabs fighting each other. Suddenly, you're not documenting a noble struggle against occupation, you're just some foreigner. And if you're in a hospital full of pissed-off Military Intelligence officials tending to their wounded, it's a disaster. As I tried to take pictures, I was suddenly surrounded by a mob of armed men grabbing at my cameras.
        This was the first week Hamas had deployed men in the thousands with their faces uncovered. They were well equipped, with new guns. Smuggled guns are pouring in through Rafah on the Egyptian border. My driver Khalil and I devised a rule: Guys with masks, burning tires, screaming and waving guns at us were unavailable for comment. We also saw that Hamas guys shoot less and aim more than Fatah militiamen. (Salon.com)
  • Observations:

    Prime Minister of Israel Addresses U.S. Congress - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Foreign Ministry)

    On Wednesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress:

    • Over the past six years more than 20,000 attempted terrorist attacks have been initiated against the people of Israel. Most, thankfully, have been foiled by our security forces. But those which have succeeded have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians and the injury of thousands. These are real people with beautiful souls that have left this earth far too soon.
    • Only last week, Daniel Cantor Wultz, a 16-year-old high school student from Weston, Florida, who came to spend the Passover holiday with his parents in Israel, succumbed to his severe injuries, incurred in Israel's most recent suicide attack. Daniel was a relative of Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia.
    • Our countries do not just share the experience and pain of terrorism. We share the commitment and resolve to confront the brutal terrorists that took these innocent people from us. We will not yield to terror, we will not surrender to terror, and we will win the war on terror and restore peace to our societies. Israel commends this Congress for initiating the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, which sends a firm, clear message that the United States of America will not tolerate terrorism in any form.
    • Israel must still meet the momentous challenge of guaranteeing the future of Israel as a democratic state with a Jewish majority, within permanent and defensible borders and a united Jerusalem as its capital - that is open and accessible for the worship of all religions.
    • If there is to be a just, fair, and lasting peace, we need a partner who rejects violence and who values life more than death. We need a partner that affirms in action, not just in words, the rejection, prevention, and elimination of terror. I ask of the Palestinians: How can a child growing up in a culture of hate dream of the possibility of peace? The key to a true lasting peace in the Middle East is in the education of the next generation.
    • Should the Palestinians ignore our outstretched hand for peace, Israel will seek other alternatives to promote our future and the prospects of hope in the Middle East. At that juncture, the time for realignment will occur. Realignment would be a process to allow Israel to build its future without being held hostage to Palestinian terrorist activities. Realignment would significantly reduce the friction between Israelis and Palestinians and prevent much of the conflict between our two battered nations.
    • Iran, the world's leading sponsor of terror, and a notorious violator of fundamental human rights, stands on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. With these weapons, the security of the entire world is put in jeopardy. We deeply appreciate America's leadership on this issue and the strong bipartisan conviction that a nuclear-armed Iran is an intolerable threat to the peace and security of the world. It cannot be permitted to materialize.


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