Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 28, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Rearming During Cease-Fire - Attila Somfalvi (Ynet News)
    Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) Director Yuval Diskin told the Cabinet on Sunday, "Since the cease-fire began, four tons of explosives have been transferred into Gaza for Hamas, as well as 50 anti-tank missiles, light arms, and materials for Kassam rocket manufacture - metal rods and gunpowder."
    "Most of the smuggling is taking place by land, through tunnels. Hamas has taken control of the tunnels in the area."
    He said the recent prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah has encouraged terror groups to plan additional kidnappings of Israeli soldiers.

Israel Holds Drill for Mass Rocket Attack and Shelling of Southern Cities - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    The IDF Home Front Command conducted a drill on Sunday of a mass rocket attack and shelling of southern cities and communities.
    During the exercise, firefighters, ambulances, the National Emergency Authority, and the mayors of Kiryat Gat and Ashdod cooperated in a simulated large-scale evacuation of affected areas.
    "The aim is to learn how things may look if the cease-fire breaks down," said Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i.
    Senior defense officials have repeatedly said Hamas has armed itself with new rockets which can hit targets in Ashdod, Israel's fifth-largest city situated 25 km. from Gaza, and Kiryat Gat, 21 km. from Gaza.

One Month into the Lull with Hamas in Gaza (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    One month into the lull arrangement, there has been a significant decrease in the number of rockets and mortar shells fired at Israel, and the cease-fire is generally upheld.
    However, it has occasionally been violated by rocket and mortar fire from rogue terrorist organizations which oppose the lull. These are mostly local Fatah networks, with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad violating the lull only on one occasion.
    Terrorist activity in Judea and Samaria during the lull continued and even increased. There were four major terrorist attacks perpetrated since the beginning of the lull.

Russia Shuts Down Hamas Website (IMRA/Hamas-PA)
    The Izzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades - the military wing of Hamas - has announced that the Russian company Data Force stopped hosting the Al-Qassam website, after a meeting between a delegation of Israeli Knesset members and Vice President of the Russian Federal Council Alexandre Rocha.
    "We and Israel are in the same boat; either we swim together or we sink together," Rocha said.
    The Russian company decided to stop providing services after considering the website to be a danger and threat on the lives and the security of people in the world.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Claims It Has 6,000 Centrifuges for Uranium Enrichment - Ali Akbar Dareini
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad said Saturday his country now possesses 6,000 centrifuges, double the 3,000 uranium-enriching machines Iran had previously said it was operating. "Announcements like this, whatever the true number is, are not productive and will only serve to further isolate Iran from the international community," said White House spokesman Carlton Carroll. Iran says it plans to move toward large-scale uranium enrichment that will ultimately involve 54,000 centrifuges that could churn out enough enriched material for dozens of nuclear weapons. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Hamas Arrests 162 Fatah Men after Six Die in Gaza Blast - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Hamas security forces on Saturday arrested 162 Fatah activists in Gaza after an explosion on Friday that killed five Hamas militants and a girl. Hamas security men seized computers and files at the Gaza offices of the PA's WAFA news agency, and stormed 40 other Fatah offices. (Reuters)
        See also Fatah Arrests 50 Hamas Activists in West Bank
    Security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction detained more than 50 Hamas activists in the West Bank city of Nablus on Monday, Hamas sources said. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Hamas Cracks Down on Al-Qaeda-Linked Group
    Clashes broke out in Gaza City on Sunday, wounding at least six people, as Hamas security forces moved to arrest members of the Army of Islam, a shadowy militant group believed linked to al-Qaeda. "There was fighting for several hours, with rocket-propelled grenades, explosions, and gunfire, but they did not arrest anyone," a member of the group said. (AFP)
  • Twin Explosions in Istanbul Kill 16, Wound 154 - Sebnem Arsu
    Two bombs exploded within minutes of each other Sunday in a crowded pedestrian area of Istanbul, killing at least 16 people and wounding more than 150 in the worst case of terrorist violence in Turkey in five years. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Rice Presses Israel, PA to Agree on Document - Avi Issacharoff and Barak Ravid
    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is pressuring Israel and the Palestinian Authority to try to agree on a document of understandings by September, ahead of the UN General Assembly, according to Palestinian sources. Rice wants to be able to present the document during the General Assembly to show progress in the talks. A senior Israeli official confirmed that Rice wants to use the General Assembly to present a document summarizing the progress of the last nine months. The Israeli and PA teams, headed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Ahmed Qureia, will arrive in Washington on Wednesday to continue negotiations. A three-way meeting with Rice is expected.
        According to the Israeli official, "neither we nor the Palestinians want a deadline that can't be met. That will only hurt the talks and the good progress that has been achieved so far." The official said gaps remain on most issues. Livni and Qureia agree that talks should reach a point where they can survive changes of government on all sides, including in the U.S. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israeli Foreign Minister Warns of U.S. Pressure - Gil Hoffman
    Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni came out on Sunday against American efforts to have Israel reach an interim agreement with the Palestinians before the end of President Bush's term based on the diplomatic talks that she has led. "I purposely am not setting deadlines [for the negotiations with the Palestinians], because I think that's very bad," Livni said. "I very much don't want to be in the same situation that Ehud Barak was in at Camp David at the end of an American administration finishing its term and trying to put pressure on everyone to bridge gaps that cannot be bridged." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Terror Threat Seen from Released Hamas Prisoners - Amos Harel
    Israeli security forces have received a number of warnings of possible terror attacks in the West Bank and within the "green line" by Hamas terrorists recently released from Israeli jails, a senior Israel Defense Forces officer said over the weekend.
        The IDF and the Shin Bet security service have seen efforts by Hamas over the past few months to rehabilitate its military infrastructure in the West Bank. A large number of lower-level Hamas activists have recently been released from Israeli jails after serving sentences of about five years for intifada-related crimes. An apparently large number of them have returned to terrorism, employing new techniques learned from veteran prisoners. The army and the Shin Bet say most of these activists are quick to begin setting up new networks to carry out major attacks. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Kills Hamas Terror Mastermind in Hebron - Efrat Weiss
    IDF and police forces killed senior Hamas member Shihab Natsheh, who was behind the Dimona suicide bombing last February which left one woman dead. Natsheh was killed during exchanges of fire with IDF forces in the West Bank city of Hebron early Sunday. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Arab Aid to Palestinians Often Doesn't Fulfill Pledges - Glenn Kessler
    Despite pledges of support for the Palestinian Authority by nearly two dozen Arab nations, only a handful of Arab countries are sending even a small portion of the money they promised. Only Algeria, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have contributed funds this year, while oil-rich countries such as Libya, Kuwait and Qatar have sent nothing and still owe the Palestinian government more than $700 million in past-due pledges.
        European governments, the World Bank and the U.S. have provided more than three times as much money as Arab countries this year to keep the PA afloat. After the collapse of a unity government that had included Hamas in June 2007, the PA received only $73 million from Arab countries in the second half of 2007, compared with $371 million given by the Arabs to the unity government in the first half of the year. Arab diplomats said there is little trust that the PA will use their contributions wisely. (Washington Post)
  • Fatah and Hamas Getting Ready for Another Bloodbath? - Editorial
    After three deadly bombings and a string of tit-for-tat arrests, tensions between Fatah and Hamas are once again running dangerously high. Over the past few years, the rivalry between Hamas and Fatah has rapidly made its way up the list of threats to the Palestinians' existence. In some circles, it is still fashionable to blame Israel for all of the Palestinians' troubles, but in this instance, the leaders of Hamas and Fatah have committed crimes of equal magnitude against their own constituents.
        Not only have scores of people died at the hands of their armed forces, the fighting has also served to greatly undermine the Palestinian cause. It has become increasingly difficult for the international community to feel sympathy for the Palestinian people when their own leaders provide so much media ammunition to distract the world from their plight. The image of lawlessness and internecine warfare conveys the image of a people who are simply not ready for self-governance or an independent state.
        International mediators will soon grow tired of helping those who show no interest whatsoever in helping themselves. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide: Bin Laden Is a Jihad Fighter
    On May 22, 2008, the reformist Arab website posted a comprehensive interview with Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef, in which he expressed support for the resistance in Iraq and Palestine, and for the activities of al-Qaeda. 'Akef's statements evoked harsh criticism among clerics and politicians both inside and outside Egypt, who perceived them as praise for bin Laden and his terrorist activities. Faced with such critical reactions, 'Akef explained that bin Laden's ideology was based on violence and that the Muslim Brotherhood movement opposed all violence, except when directed against occupation. (MEMRI)
  • Observations:

    The Legacy of the Gaza Truce - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)

    • The tahadiyeh (cease-fire), much more than the Annapolis process, is generating deep-seated change in Palestinian-Israeli relations.
    • Three years after the disengagement, 15 years after Oslo, Israel faces an independent Palestinian entity with full security and civilian responsibilities for a contiguous area in which there are no Israeli soldiers or settlers. Finally there is a Palestinian leadership that demonstrates discipline and enforcement abilities.
    • For better or worse, "Hamastan" is the pilot program of the Palestinian state. The organization controlling it is hostile and hateful and refuses to recognize Israel, and has carried out the worst acts of terror. But under military pressure and the siege at the crossings, its leaders have been persuaded to give a chance to quiet if nervous coexistence.
    • Ya'akov Amidror defined "sufficient victory" over terror as follows: "There are no expectations that 'terror organizations' will concede their defeat, sign surrender accords and agree to the holding of ceremonies that will give public expression to their defeat. A victory of this type leads to a drastic decline in the scope of the actions of the 'terror organizations' to the minimum possible."
    • And what has the cease-fire in the South achieved if not such a "drastic decline" in terror? Israel can justifiably claim that it won in the conflict with Hamas, with few losses and without "the major ground action."

          See also Winning Counterinsurgency War: The Israeli Experience - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ya'akov Amidror (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
          See also Israel's Defense Minister Wants to Preserve Gaza Truce (AP/International Herald Tribune)

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