Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Iran Gets Fourth Batch of Nuclear Fuel from Russia (Reuters)
Israeli Spy Satellite Launched from India - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
14 Islamic Militants Held in Spain over Terror Plot - Victoria Burnett (New York Times)
Canada Removes U.S., Israel from Torture Watchlist - David Ljunggren (Reuters)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Parts of the Gaza Strip plunged into darkness on Sunday when its main power plant shut down after Israel blocked fuel supplies and closed the border to the Hamas-run territory. Israel said the blockade was in response to rocket attacks from Gaza and that "everything would go back to normal" if militants stopped firing missiles, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said. Mekel questioned whether the complete shutdown of the generating plant was necessary, suggesting Hamas Islamists had a political interest in exaggerating the impact of the Israeli measures. Palestinian militants have attacked border towns in Israel in the past week with some 230 rockets. (Reuters/Washington Post)
See also Supply of Electricity to Gaza Continues
The supply of electricity to Gaza from the Israeli and Egyptian power grids has continued uninterrupted, representing about 75% of Gaza's electricity needs. While the fuel supply from Israel into Gaza has indeed been reduced, due to the Hamas rocket attacks, the diversion of this fuel from domestic power generators to other uses is wholly a Hamas decision - apparently taken due to media and propaganda considerations. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
See also Israel: Hamas Pretending There Is a Crisis - Ali Waked
"There is no power crisis in Gaza. Apparently Hamas, out of its own considerations, has decided not to transfer fuel to the power station," said a security official in Jerusalem. "There is enough diesel in Gaza to power the station. And to the best of our knowledge there is also enough fuel for cars. Enough fuel has been provided and there should not be any shortage," the official said.
Israel also rejected the claim that there was a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, saying that Palestinian liaisons have said that there are sufficient stockpiles of food and water. "Our feeling is that someone over there, apparently Hamas, is trying to exaggerate the problem and make it seem as though there is a humanitarian crisis. There is no truth to this." Minutes after the Gaza power station shut down, Gaza residents holding candles began marching through the city's streets along with Palestinian children holding signs in English and Arabic. (Ynet News)
Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah claimed Saturday the militant group had the remains of Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon during the 2006 war. Official Israeli figures say 119 Israeli soldiers died in the 2006 fighting. The Israeli military has a staunch tradition of not leaving the bodies of fallen fighters in enemy hands. Nasrallah also called on Arab governments to confront Bush's "satanic visions" for the Middle East, which he said serve only the interests of the U.S. and Israel. (AP/Washington Post)
With violence along Israel's southern border escalating, a hospital in Israel offers a ray of hope for a handful of seriously ill Gazans. "This child would have died without surgery," said Dr. Alona Raucher-Sternfeld, looking at the small Palestinian baby, Jamal, and the echo machine checking his heart. Six-month-old Jamal came with his grandmother from Dir al-Balah in Gaza to get a check-up on Jan. 15 at Wolfson Medical Center near Tel Aviv. Jamal was operated on there when he was two months old, suffering from two heart defects.
The surgery, hospital stay and logistics in bringing him out of Gaza were coordinated and partially funded by Save a Child's Heart, an Israeli humanitarian organization, with some EU donations. In 2007, 128 Palestinian children from the West Bank and Gaza, all suffering from heart conditions, were treated by the program. Col. Nir Press, head of the Israeli coordination and liaison administration in Gaza, said the number of permits to Israel issued for medical reasons had risen 50% in 2007. (ReliefWeb-UN)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel will not allow a humanitarian crisis to erupt in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen on Monday. "We will provide the population with everything needed to prevent a crisis," said Olmert. "Hamas is firing on the power station that supplies electricity to Gaza. That is simply crazy," he told Verhagen, adding, "What would the Dutch government do if it were being fired on daily?" "We won't allow the Palestinians to fire on us and destroy life in Sderot, while in Gaza life is going on as usual." (Ha'aretz)
Miko Zarfati, chairman of the workers' committee at the Israel Electric Company, said: "This is Palestinian spin. No one has stopped the supply of electricity to the Strip." He claimed that Israel Electric Company employees worked day and night in a power plant in Ashkelon while putting themselves in danger of being hit by Kassam rockets fired by Palestinians from Gaza. "The Electric Company sends people to fix power outages that are caused from the Kassam barrages everyday in Sderot and the Gaza vicinity and more than one worker has already been injured in these rocket attacks." (Ynet News)
See also Palestinians Fire Four Rockets into Israel Sunday (Jerusalem Post)
See also Rocket Fire by Palestinians in Gaza on Israeli Civilian Targets (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
In the past week, close to 160 Kassam rockets and 70 mortar shells were fired at Israel by Palestinians in Gaza, Israeli defense officials said. A defense official added that the army was under orders to "deepen" its operations inside Gaza in an effort to stop the rocket fire. On Saturday, IDF troops followed that order and operated more than five kilometers inside Gaza, arresting four armed Hamas operatives in Jabalya, the launch pad for numerous rockets in recent days. On Saturday in Gaza City's Sajaiya neighborhood, an Israel air force missile struck a car loaded with weapons and Kassam rockets, wounding the car's occupants. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Israel would do well to treat Nasrallah with the repugnance due him, while ignoring - in the name of the dignity of the dead and the living - his recent macabre call for opening additional negotiations. (Ha'aretz)
The Joint Direct Attack Munition is a kit that, when added to the back end of a 500- or 2,000-pound "dumb" bomb, turns it into a lethal, all-weather "smart" weapon that can hit within four feet of a target when launched from a fighter aircraft more than 10 miles away. As proposed in a message to Congress on Jan. 14, the Saudis are authorized to buy 900 Joint Direct Attack Munition kits along with 550 500-pound bombs, 250 2,000-pound bombs, and another 100 2,000-pounders with penetrating warheads. The United Arab Emirates is in line to get 200 JDAM systems for its 80 F-16s. Because JDAMs are offensive weapons, their acquisition by Arab states such as Saudi Arabia that are considered hostile to Israel has drawn concern on Capitol Hill.
The Saudis are also in line to receive $631 million in armored vehicles, personnel carriers, towed mortars and machine guns, as well as five sets of airborne early-warning and command and control systems worth $400 million. They would also buy for $220 million 40 Sniper advanced targeting pods, which would upgrade the ability of their F-15s to detect other aircraft at long range. The UAE hopes to buy 900 Hellfire missiles and 300 blast-fragmentation warheads for use with its U.S. attack helicopters and 2,106 anti-tank TOW missiles that also can be fired from helicopters.
Anthony H. Cordesman, a specialist in Middle East national security affairs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said a surge of arms sales to countries in the region is just beginning. With oil and gas exports providing $2 trillion in revenue, Cordesman expects that "southern Gulf arms sales will be 50 to 100% higher over the next four years." The U.S. will supply only a quarter of the weapons; Russia and European nations also will push to make sales. (Washington Post)
The First "Core Issue": Incitement - Elihu Richter (Jerusalem Post)
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