Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Israel: Iran Behind Gaza Rocket Fire - Rebecca Anna Stoil and Sheera Claire Frenkel (Jerusalem Post)
Israel Says Hizbullah Has 30,000 Rockets - Edith M. Lederer (AP/Washington Post)
Ashkelon Children Know Things Have Changed - Or Kashti (Ha'aretz)
Pilotless Planes Emerge as Top Israeli Weapon in War with Hamas - Ibrahim Barzak and Aron Heller (AP/MSNBC)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The White House on Monday blamed the Palestinian militant group Hamas for causing the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians that has killed dozens and put a halt to peace talks. Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for President Bush's National Security Council, said: "The No. 1 thing that has to happen is that Hamas has got to stop targeting Israeli citizens with rockets. It must stop." (AP)
See also Rice to Raise Humanitarian Issues with Israelis - Glenn Kessler
Secretary of State Rice said Monday she planned to tell Israeli officials to ease the humanitarian suffering in Gaza and avoid attacks that might kill civilians, but she repeatedly refused to say whether she supported a cease-fire. "First and foremost, Hamas needs to stop firing rockets into Israeli cities," Rice said. At the same time, she said, "Israelis have to be very concerned about the innocent people in Gaza who were caught in this crossfire, and the Israelis need to be very concerned about the humanitarian situation." (Washington Post)
The UN imposed new sanctions on Iran Monday, capping a year of difficult diplomacy that may represent the Bush administration's final bid to mobilize international action against Tehran over its controversial nuclear program. The White House had to settle for a watered-down UN resolution that makes most trade and financial sanctions voluntary. U.S. diplomacy was undercut by China's growing oil trade with Iran, Russia's ties to Tehran's nuclear energy program, and skepticism among four developing countries on the council about the need for yet another UN resolution. But Washington's own National Intelligence Estimate in December - which concluded with "high confidence" that Iran had shelved its nuclear weapons program in 2003 - did more than anything else to undermine the prospects for a hard-hitting resolution. (Washington Post)
Hanit Kuchnik's two-year-old son Alon knows to run to the protective room when an alarm sounds. His first words were the Hebrew for "red," learned from the "red alerts," and "boom." Ruti and Kobi Gabbay try to spare their three-year-old son Sarel the trauma of the rockets, each day driving him to a nursery school on a nearby kibbutz, just out of rocket range. At least half of the 20 children in Sarel's nursery class are also from Sderot, and their teacher, Naomi Ohnunu, said the differences among the children are obvious. "The kids from Sderot are more nervous," said Ohnunu, herself a Sderot resident. "They are more easily frightened."
The stress is mounting among adults, too. A local trauma center has treated more than 1,000 for psychological problems caused by the attacks in the past month, and nearly everyone complains of insomnia or nightmares, headaches or depression. (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that hit a house in Sderot on Tuesday morning, causing heavy damage. On Monday, Ashkelon was hit by two Katyusha rockets. One hit a seven story-building and the second landed in a playground. Twenty-eight people were evacuated to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, two lightly injured and the rest suffering from shock. The military censor cleared for publication that earlier this week a Katyusha rocket landed near the home of Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter. (Ynet News)
See also A Day of Close Calls in Ashkelon - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
Hundreds of Arab teens pelted Israeli cars, police and passersby with rocks in eastern Jerusalem on Monday as rioting over the violence in Gaza continued in the Arab sections of Jerusalem. The graphic images of two city workers who were inside their vehicle when they came under attack topped the TV newscasts in Israel on Monday night. Minutes later an elite unit of undercover Jerusalem police, aided by a Border Police anti-terror unit, arrested the leaders of the attack (Jerusalem Post)
See also Fatah Organizes Anti-Israel Riots in Eastern Jerusalem - Zvi Yehezkeli
Palestinian youth organized by Fatah nearly lynched two Jerusalem municipal inspectors in eastern Jerusalem on Monday. Why did Fatah push people to take to the streets? If they didn't demonstrate against Israel, they would demonstrate against the Palestinian Authority and support Hamas. This raises the question of how much control Abbas really has. (Channel 10 TV-Hebrew)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The UN Security Council has passed another resolution concerning Iran because its nuclear program is an unacceptable threat. Iran's violations of Security Council resolutions not only continue, but are deepening. Iran is dramatically expanding the number of operating centrifuges and developing a new generation of centrifuges, testing one of them with nuclear fuel. The IAEA presented Iran with documents detailing Iran's efforts to develop a nuclear warhead, including designs for a missile re-entry vehicle. Iran dismissed these documents as "baseless and fabricated," but the IAEA does not share that conclusion.
The Iranian government has been a destabilizing force in the broader Middle East and beyond. Iran has been funding and supporting terrorists and militants for operations in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Iraq and Afghanistan. Their lethal assistance has harmed countless innocent civilians. The president of Iran has made many reprehensible statements - embracing the objective of destroying a member state of the UN. Because of all these factors, the international community cannot allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. The writer is U.S. Ambassador to the UN. (Wall Street Journal)
What did Israel's combined ground and aerial operation in Gaza achieve? Hamas lost about 70 men in three days, and that's a lot - even for a group that sanctifies death. Furthermore, the operation eroded Hamas' status in the eyes of local residents. It doesn't matter how often Hamas spokesmen repeat "the people is behind us," phone conversations with Gaza residents create a wholly different impression.
The operation creates legitimacy among the international community to a situation of fighting in Gaza. This legitimacy is also created as a result of the fact that the media no longer view fighting in Gaza as "news," and also because the ongoing attacks on Ashkelon make it clear that Israel did not pounce on the Palestinians for no reason. A testament to this legitimacy could be seen in the fact that no real pressure was exerted on Israel to end the operation on the part of official political elements, including in the Arab world. (Ynet News)
See also Hamas Wants Lull in Gaza, But Only On Its Own Terms - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
Hamas, like Hizbullah, wants to be the one to fire last. It does not want it to look like it was the one that gave in. The primary objective of Israel's Gaza move is to get Ashkelon out of the firing line and to prevent Hamas from launching a large number of Kassam rockets at Sderot in response to the death of every Hamas operative. (Ha'aretz)
What Hamas is offering is an understanding that would see an end to rocket attacks in exchange for the IDF ending its targeted eliminations. The smuggling of arms and munitions would continue until Hamas builds up enough strength to attack again, this time to an even longer range, all the way to Ashdod, or Tel Aviv. This is a proposal that an Israeli government cannot accept.
Israel also cannot reconcile itself to the existing reality whereby a growing number of civilians in the south are exposed to daily fire. It is immoral and illogical. We can expect Israeli citizens to sustain a certain level of risk, but it is unfair to expect them to face danger over an extended period of time without seeing light at the end of the tunnel. (Ynet News)
Israel's War to Halt Palestinian Rocket Attacks - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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