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DAILY ALERT

Wednesday,
July 26, 2006
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In-Depth Issues:

Syrian Army at its Highest State of Alert - Gideon Alon (Ha'aretz)
    Syria has placed its military at its highest state of alert in recent years, Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Chief Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday.
    While Syrian forces remain on a defensive rather than offensive alert, Hizballah is interested in opening another front for Israel with Syria, Yadlin said.
    See also Israeli Military Intelligence: Syria, Israel Uninterested in Clash - Sheera Claire Frenkel (Jerusalem Post)


Ahmadinejad: "Lebanon Is the Scene of an Historic Test which will Determine the Future of Humanity" (MEMRI)
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad said on July 23: "Lebanon is the scene of an historic test, which will determine the future of humanity....It is inconceivable for anyone who calls himself a Muslim and who heads an Islamic state to maintain relations under the table with the regime that occupied Jerusalem."
    "England was the founder of this sinister regime. It is an accomplice to all its crimes. America, which supports it now, is an accomplice to all its crimes."


Shin Bet Warning Families of Palestinian Terrorists Ahead of Airstrikes - Avi Issacharoff and Yuval Azoulay (Ha'aretz)
    Shin Bet security service agents have begun telephoning Palestinian terrorists and warning them to leave their houses, so that they and their families will not be hurt when Israel bombs them, Palestinian sources said Tuesday.
    The houses are targeted because Israel believes they are being used to store or manufacture weapons, including Kassam rockets and rocket-propelled grenades.
    The Israel Defense Forces bombed two such houses on Tuesday that served as weapons factories, one belonging to an Islamic Jihad operative in Gaza City and one belonging to a Hamas operative in Rafah.
    The IDF has also interrupted local radio broadcasts in several parts of Gaza in recent days, including some by Hamas' Radio Al-Aqsa, overriding the scheduled programing with warnings about planned attacks on houses that serve as arms caches.


Hizballah and Main Street - Diana West (Washington Times)
    In the U.S., a good stretch of Main Street in Dearborn, Mich., which writer Debbie Schlussel has described as the heart of Shia Islamic America, follows the Israeli war on Hizballah via Al Jazeera.
    Hizballah itself is popular in Dearborn, where Osama Siblani, the publisher of the Arab American News, considers members of Hizballah - along with Hamas and other jihadist groups - as freedom fighters.
    And, as Siblani tells the Detroit News, he's not alone: "If morally supporting Hizballah...is a crime, 'there is not going to be enough buses to haul the people out and take them to jail.'"


Hizballah Gives Guided Tours to Foreign Journalists - Howard Kurtz (CNN)
    CNN's Nic Robertson in Beirut says: "Hizballah has a very, very sophisticated and slick media operation.... They designated the places that we went to, and we certainly didn't have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath."
    "There's no doubt that the bombs are hitting Hizballah facilities.... When you hear their claims they have to come with more than a grain of salt."


Army of Volunteers Strengthens Northern Residents - Rebecca Anna Stoil (Jerusalem Post)
    A civilian force of hundreds of volunteers has streamed steadily northward throughout the past two weeks of daily shelling, leaving their jobs and their families to offer help to the beleaguered residents of Nahariya, Safed, and Kiryat Shmona.


Hewlett-Packard to Buy Israeli Software Company Mercury for $4.5 Billion (Bloomberg)
    Hewlett-Packard Co., the world's second-biggest personal-computer maker, agreed to buy software maker Mercury Interactive Corp. for about $4.5 billion.
    "Mercury has some interesting technology that ties into HP's systems management realm,'' said Brent Bracelin, a securities analyst.


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  • Hizballah Vows to Fire Rockets Deeper into Israel - Sam Ghattas
    Hizballah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, speaking on al-Manar television, vowed that his fighters would begin firing rockets deeper into Israel, beyond the northern port city of Haifa which has suffered under hundreds of Hizballah barrages. (AP/Forbes)
        See also Assessment: Nasrallah Is in the Iranian Embassy in Beirut - Ben Caspit
    The latest intelligence assessment in Israel is that Nasrallah is hiding in the basement of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut. Even though there is no final determination, more and more Israeli officials are pointing at the Iranian Embassy, which is under Iranian sovereignty and benefits from diplomatic immunity like all embassies. (Maariv-Hebrew, 26Jul06)
        See also Nasrallah's Hizballah Seeks to Survive Israel's Offensive
    Nasrallah sought to ensure his group's survival in Lebanon by lowering the bar for what would constitute victory, in a television interview broadcast Friday. He defined victory as a successful defense, and has not shied away from acknowledging the gravity of defeat. "A defeat in Lebanon will end the region's resistance movements, the Palestinian cause, and impose Israel's conditions for a (Middle East) settlement," he warned. "We love martyrdom," he said Friday, "but we take precautions to deny the enemy an easy victory." A defeat on the battlefield, so long as Hizballah is seen to have put up a good fight, could give Nasrallah heroic status. (AFP/Khaleej Times-Dubai)
        See also Lebanese Druze Leader Challenges Nasrallah's Heroism (MEMRI)
  • Israeli Forces Making Steady Progress - William M. Arkin
    Israel aims to clear a 15-square-mile, Shiite-dominated region that is the center of Hizballah operations. One could claim Israeli operations have thus far "failed" to slow Hizballah rocket fire, but the truth may be that Israel is allowing that fire as long as it opens the way for a fruitful response. Hizballah fires rockets, exposing their positions. Israeli drones and aircraft, and counter-battery radars on the ground, track the firings, moving immediately to destroy the long-range launchers. Israeli military officials say they believe they have killed about 100 Hizballah fighters, though U.S. intelligence watchers say that many more are believed to have died in counter-battery attacks and attacks on bunkers and other encampments. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Envisions International Force in Lebanon - Robin Wright
    Despite obstacles in forming an international force more effective than the UN observers deployed in southern Lebanon since 1978, U.S. officials say it will happen. "You will hear about the impossibility of deploying an international force almost until the day it is deployed," said a senior administration official. U.S. officials say the biggest issue may be whether the new force would deploy before or after the disarming of Hizballah, which has vowed not to give up its weapons. The force is "not going to shoot their way in," the official said. (Washington Post)
        See also If Peace Comes, Just Who'll Go In to Keep It? - Tyler Marshall and Tracy Wilkinson
    "If Hizballah is not disarmed or rejects a cease-fire agreement, then who's going to come in? Nobody," said Robert Hunter, former U.S. ambassador to NATO who now works in the Washington office of Rand Corp. Henry A. Crumpton, the State Department's counter-terrorism coordinator, said he believed the Israeli response was "in some ways just beginning" in degrading Hizballah's combat capabilities. "It's going to take a while, I think, for the Israelis to get in there and deny that space [to Hizballah] in Lebanon." (Los Angeles Times)
  • Israel Says Any Deal Must Include Block on Syria Supplying Arms to Hizballah - Ian Black
    Israel is demanding that any peace deal with Lebanon includes agreement on international control or monitoring of the country's border crossings with Syria to block the delivery of weapons to Hizballah. Katyusha rockets and other equipment are still being sent from Damascus into Lebanon, a senior Israeli foreign ministry official said Monday. (Guardian-UK)
        See also Proposed Multinational Force Won't Disarm Hizballah of its Rockets - Aluf Benn, Amos Harel, Shlomo Shamir and Jack Khoury
    The international force that will be sent to Lebanon following a cease-fire will not be responsible for disarming Hizballah, nor will it be stationed at the border crossings between Lebanon and Syria in order to halt the flow of weapons from Syria to Hizballah, Israeli government sources said Tuesday. CNN, citing Lebanese sources, said that the force will initially comprise 10,000 Turkish and Egyptian soldiers, and will later expand to 30,000 troops from several countries. (Ha'aretz)
        See also An International Force in Lebanon: Advantages and Disadvantages - Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon and Maj.-Gen. Yaakov Amidror (ICA/JCPA)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Battles Continue in "Hizballah's Capital" in Southern Lebanon - Yaakov Katz
    Fierce battles took place Wednesday between the IDF and Hizballah in the village of Bint Jbail in southern Lebanon, known as Hizballah's capital. At least 25 IDF soldiers were wounded. Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsch, commander of the IDF's Galilee division, said Tuesday that troops operating in Bint Jbail had discovered war rooms with eavesdropping and surveillance equipment made by Iran, being used by Hizballah against Israel. Also Tuesday, the Israel Air Force destroyed a Hizballah Katyusha launcher that fired 16 rockets at Haifa less than an hour before. According to IDF estimates, more than 120 rocket launchers have been hit by air attacks. (Jerusalem Post/Ynet News)
  • Four UN Observers Killed in Airstrike - Yuval Azoulay and Amos Harel
    Four UN observers from Austria, Canada, China, and Finland were killed on Tuesday in an Israel Air Force strike in southern Lebanon. Israel said on Wednesday that it regrets the "tragic" deaths of the observers and would thoroughly investigate the incident. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for an inquiry into what he called Israel's "apparently deliberate targeting" of the UN observer force. Dan Ayalon, Israel's Ambassador to Washington, demanded that Annan apologize for the remarks, which he called "baseless." (Ha'aretz)
  • Rice Applies No Pressure on Israel - Herb Keinon
    U.S. Secretary of State Rice left Jerusalem Tuesday for an international conference on Lebanon in Rome without a cease-fire or a date of return, but with an Israeli commitment to allow an airlift of humanitarian aid to Lebanon. Israel is not taking part in the Rome conference, largely because of a fear that it would come under great pressure at the meeting to declare an immediate cease-fire. Rice told Israeli Prime Minister Olmert that, although difficult, it would be possible to put together an international force to move into southern Lebanon to help the Lebanese army implement UN Security Council Resolution 1559, including gaining control of southern Lebanon from Hizballah. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel Had to Move Against Hizballah's Growing Missile Arsenal - Arnaud de Borchgrave
    Hizballah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah now says he informed the Lebanese government of the plan to abduct Israeli soldiers for a subsequent prisoner exchange. Israelis have been taken prisoner before, only to be exchanged in 100-to-1 deals that favor terrorist organizations. Israel's massive retaliatory campaign was probably the last thing Hizballah expected.
        Western intelligence agencies have reported on Hizballah's 10,000 to 15,000 Syrian-supplied Katyusha rockets and Iran-supplied Fajr missiles for at least the past five years. Israel knew it would have to move sooner or later before Hizballah got 30,000 or 50,000 such weapons, including ones that could reach Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion International Airport, and Jerusalem.
        Large swaths of southern Lebanon are a maze of tunnels and foliage-covered revetments that conceal truck-mounted batteries of six to eight Katyusha rockets. Israel's retaliatory campaign will be a long, hard slog and a cease-fire is probably still two weeks away. Israel knows that the NATO force it says it would accept to police a buffer zone is beyond NATO's present out-of-theater capabilities, stretched to the limit in Afghanistan and Africa.
        Dore Gold, a former Israeli UN ambassador, said Israel "is a convenient surrogate for the larger enemy Iran perceives - the West." Gold says Iran is building long-range missiles to cower London and Berlin, not just Tel Aviv. These missiles are designed to force the Europeans to sit on their hands as Iran takes on Israel with its WMD-tipped 1,300-kilometer Shahab missiles. (UPI)
  • The Challenge of Crippling Hizballah - Editorial
    The Israeli military is facing 1,000 hardened fighters and 15,000 reservists - terrorists who have embedded themselves among Lebanon's civilian population. During the six years since Israel unilaterally withdrew from southern Lebanon, Hizballah has dug dozens of bunkers, some as much as 130 feet deep in order to withstand the impact of Israel's bunker-buster bombs. They are fitted with supplies and communications equipment enabling operatives to remain in contact with headquarters and stay below ground.
        For Israel's military offensive to be a success, it will need to result in the destruction of Hizballah as a fighting force capable of menacing Israel from Lebanese territory. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Sunday the goal is to have Hizballah disarmed either by Israel or an international force. Given the fact that no international force actually exists at the present time, it is up to Israel to do the job. The U.S. and other nations that are serious about defeating Islamofascism have a vital interest in helping Israel succeed in crippling Hizballah and should be generous in providing Israel with what it needs to get the job done. Only if Israel prevails decisively on the battlefield, could an international force (which will have to be a far more serious entity than the ineffectual UNIFIL) actually have a realistic chance of overseeing Hizballah's disarmament. (Washington Times)
  • Hizballah Must Be Disarmed - George Shultz
    Hizballah must be disarmed. That is called for in UN Security Council Resolution 1559. The members of the Security Council foresaw that leaving Hizballah armed would likely lead to exactly what has happened. If there is to be an international force - and there should be - its mission should be to disarm Hizballah. Such a force needs to be knowledgeable, strong, and no-nonsense. It has to go in with the expectation that Hizballah will lay down its arms so they can be destroyed. If Hizballah won't do that, the international force has got to have the active rules of engagement and military capability to destroy those weapons. The U.S. should not be part of the international force. The writer is a former U.S. Secretary of State. (TIME)
  • The Lebanese Really Blame Hizballah - Michael Young
    The Lebanese people have watched as Hizballah has built up a heavily armed state-within-a-state that has now carried the country into a devastating conflict it cannot win, and many are fed up. Sunni Muslims, Christians, and the Druze have no desire to pay for the martial vanity of Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Some even welcome Israel's intervention. As one Lebanese politician said to me in private, Israel must not stop now: "For things to get better in Lebanon, Nasrallah must be weakened further." Even some Shiites are beginning to have doubts about Nasrallah.
        Hizballah's so-called "security perimeter" in southern Beirut where Nasrallah and his officials lived and worked has been reduced to a smoldering wasteland. Nasrallah is also blamed for the suffering in southern Lebanon. The writer is opinion editor of the Daily Star in Lebanon. (Spectator-UK)
  • Israel: One Nation Under Attack - Michael B. Oren
    Israelis today are overwhelmingly supporting their army's actions. And apart from expressing regret over the loss of civilian lives, they show no sign of wavering. What makes this Lebanon war different from the last one? To begin with, Israelis, too, are under fire this time. During the last few weeks, Hizballah has shot more than 2,500 rockets and mortars at Israel, killing at least 17 civilians, wounding 500, and forcing more than half a million people to flee. The attacks from Lebanon coincided with aggression from Gaza, where Hamas terrorists fired about 1,000 Kassam rockets at Israeli towns and farms. On both fronts, Israeli soldiers were the victims of unprovoked ambushes and kidnappings. And these attacks have come despite the fact that Israel is no longer occupying any part of either Lebanon or Gaza. The war, Israelis now know, is not about borders but about the existence of the Jewish state. The writer, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, is currently a reserve officer serving in northern Israel. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    Israel Is Within Its Rights - David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey (Washington Post)

    • In its operations against Hizballah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, Israel's conduct has been fully compliant with the applicable norms of international law. In determining the existence of a legitimate casus belli, a state is entitled to consider the entire context of the threat it faces.
    • Hizballah is not simply a terrorist gang, like Germany's Baader-Meinhof or Italy's Red Brigades. It is a substantial political and military organization that has more than 12,000 short- and medium-range rockets and that has operated freely on Lebanese territory for many years, whose stated goal is Israel's destruction, and is the client of a major regional power - Iran - whose government appears dedicated to the same goal.
    • Moreover, although international law requires a state to have a lawful reason to use force - such as self-defense - it does not mandate that a state limit its military response to "tit for tat" actions. Once a country has suffered an armed attack, it is entitled to identify the source of that attack and to eliminate its adversary's ability to attack again. It is not required to accept a limited conflict that fails to meet and resolve the danger it faces.
    • No state has the right to permit a foreign military force to use its territory to launch attacks against another country. Lebanon's failure to expel Hizballah would in and of itself have been a legitimate cause for Israeli military action. It was the Taliban's sheltering of al-Qaeda that was the basis of the U.S. attack on Afghanistan in 2001.
    • Although there is some grim humor in the spectacle of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose troops have ravaged Chechnya, criticizing Israel for a "disproportionate" use of force, the claims are without merit. In NATO's 1999 war against Serbia, airports, bridges, and the power grid were attacked - with the agreement and approval of the European governments involved. In the current conflict, Israel's primary military purpose in attacking these targets appears to be to cut Hizballah's supply lines, not to punish Lebanon.
    • Hizballah intentionally operates from civilian areas, both to protect its military capabilities from attack and to increase civilian deaths, which can then be trumpeted for propaganda purposes. But the presence of a large civilian population does not immunize Hizballah or Hamas forces from attack. Responsibility for any additional civilian casualties must be attributed to those groups, not to Israel.
    • The legal rights Israel is exercising to defend itself today are the very same legal rights on which the United States must rely in the war on terrorism. Attempts to revise the traditional laws of war so that law-abiding states cannot effectively protect their own populations from attack or even defend their territory from armed incursion are not humanitarian advances. They simply make the world safer for those who reject any notion of law in war.

      The writers are Washington lawyers who served in the Justice Department under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.


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