Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Poll: Israelis Support Military Operation in Gaza (Israel Television/IMRA)
Hamas "Military Industry" Working Overtime to Manufacture Rockets - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
Report: Ahmadinejad Squandered $140 Billion - Gil Feiler and Doron Peskin
Turkish Air Force Signs $141M Deal with Israeli Defense Firms - Steven Scheer (Reuters)
The University of Toronto - Where Israel Apartheid Week Was Born - Avi Weinryb (Jewish Political Studies Review)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israel wrapped up preparations for a broad offensive in the Gaza Strip Thursday after Palestinians fired about 100 rockets and mortar shells across the border in two days. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert made a direct appeal to Gaza's people via the Arabic-language satellite channel Al-Arabiya to pressure their leaders to stop the barrages. Israeli defense officials said the operation would probably begin with surgical airstrikes against rocket launchers. Harsh weather conditions are currently hampering visibility and complicating air force missions. (AP/Washington Post)
See also below Observations - Israel: Hamas Rocket Fire Must Be Stopped - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Al-Arabiya/Prime Minister's Office)
Israel opened three border crossings with Gaza on Friday, allowing about 80 trucks filled with fuels and commodities into the Palestinian territory. Among the goods were 400,000 liters of fuel and 120 tons of cooking gas. The decision to open the crossings at Kerem Shalom, Karni and Nahal Oz came after requests from international aid groups and Egypt. (CNN)
Lebanese troops on Thursday found and dismantled eight rockets set up for launch at northern Israel, Lebanese security sources said. The Grad and Katyusha rockets were found near the village of Teir Harfa, 5 km. north of the border with Israel. Two senior officers said that the rockets' timers were activated. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
See also A Concern with a Second Front from the North - Yossi Yehoshua, Smadar Peri and Arye Agozi
The assessment in the Israeli security establishment is that behind the katyusha launchers discovered in Lebanon is not Hizbullah but rather a global jihadi organization. In Beirut, it is believed that this is a case of cooperation between Hizbullah and global jihadi organizations like al-Qaeda. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel is about to retaliate fiercely for Hamas' attacks. The situation will not necessarily develop into an all-out war, but the coming days will, so it seems, mark the end to restraint. Close to 200 Katyushas, Kassam rockets and 120-mm., Iranian-produced mortar shells have been fired at Israel since Hamas said it would not renew the lull that had expired on Dec. 19. Israeli intelligence assessments say that Hamas is interested in returning to a period of calm, but wishes to do so from a position of power, once it has imposed its conditions on Israel. (Ha'aretz)
See also "Make Hamas Decide to Stop the Fire" - Shmulik Hadad
Israeli military officials said the IDF did not intend to recapture Gaza, but an IDF official said Wednesday that "our goal is to make Hamas come to a decision that the fire must stop, and this goal can be accomplished by a military operation, which is unpreventable in the current situation." (Ynet News)
See also IDF Chief: We'll Operate Against Terror Infrastructure - Hanan Greenberg
Israel "will need to use all its force in order to damage the terror infrastructure and create a different and safe reality in the Gaza vicinity," IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Tuesday. (Ynet News)
Dozens of mortar shells were fired at Israel by Palestinians in Gaza in a number of barrages Thursday night. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Sometimes what is simply needed is basic instinct. It is not enough to say that the situation is intolerable. It also requires one to believe that. Not only is the security of the residents of southern Israel at stake: also the deterrent capability of Israel. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
As a matter of grand strategy, Israel must not tolerate a hostile entity anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. Hamas cannot be allowed to metastasize into a second Hizbullah. Israel's immediate objective must be to make it impossible for Hamas to govern in Gaza. The proper method of fighting Hamas is a methodical elimination of its political and military command and control.
Any resort to force by the IDF raises the possibility of unintended consequences. Israel's home front could be hit hard. Hizbullah could launch diversionary attacks. If enemy non-combatants are killed, nasty media coverage is certain. We may express regret; but we must not apologize. Whatever happens, we must be resolute: Hamas must be stopped. (Jerusalem Post)
Some have called for opening a political dialogue with Hamas, but the obstacles are considerable. First of all, most Hamas leaders refuse to talk to Israelis, preferring to convey their demands via the media and third parties. Even were they to agree to meet and talk, their agenda is limited to a set of demands that are extremist compared to those discussed with the PLO. Moreover, the very act of talking to Hamas would violate a set of preconditions for engagement proffered by Israel and the Quartet: Hamas must first recognize the right of Israel to exist, abandon violence and accept all previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements. Israel can hardly abandon them unilaterally without coordinating with the Quartet. Doing so would also undermine the already weakened PLO with which Israel continues to negotiate along more reasonable lines. (bitterlemons.org)
See also No Good Options in Gaza - Gerald M. Steinberg
Some analysts have called for "talks" and negotiations with Hamas, citing the progress in relations between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland or between China and Taiwan. But these cases do not involve radical Islamist factions: the nature of the core conflict is very different, as is the regional environment. The governments of the Irish Republic and the United Kingdom cooperated to bring about a negotiated settlement, but in the Middle East most of the outside governments, such as Iran and Syria, are part of the conflict. While there are no good options, if Hamas remains undeterred and the rocket attacks continue, Israeli leaders will have to choose a military scenario. (bitterlemons.org)
It is worth questioning what Hamas has made of Gaza, a territory that could have once served as an encouraging example of what Palestinians could achieve when Israeli occupation ended. Instead, what we have is a failed political order, and one cannot blame this solely on Israeli pressures. Hamas has chosen the armed struggle, which required overcoming Fatah in Gaza before transforming the area into a garrisoned statelet.
Hamas has been unable to give Palestinians a normal life despite a six-month cease-fire. The only thing Palestinians in Gaza can look forward to is the prospect of more carnage ahead. Hamas is not a state-building enterprise; it is a military movement that plays politics to retain the military option. The dystopia it offers is many decades more of the gun, leaving no room for discussion of an alternative, more desirable Palestinian future.
If you live by the gun, you will probably die by the gun. That's the promise of the Middle East today, where weapons have become the ornaments of men, and where the foulest dictatorships end up looking like a good bet. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
On any given day, Israeli prisons are hosting Red Cross representatives, journalists, lawyers, prisoners' advocates, as well as family members of convicted Palestinian prisoners, while Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas on Israeli soil, is being held in isolation and denied any and all visitation rights from lawyers, family and even the International Red Cross in violation of his human rights and international law. So, where is the international outcry for Shalit?
Israel is constantly confronted with the demand that it must return Gaza and the West Bank to the Palestinians and the Golan Heights to Syria - areas seized during the 1967 Six-Day War. Why then do we never hear that same argument being raised against other nations? After World War II, Poland annexed 10% of historic Germany (East Prussia); Morocco controls the Western Sahara; Armenia has controlled 15% of neighboring Azerbaijan since 1994; Turkey has controlled half of Cyprus since its 1974 invasion; Russia has controlled the Kurile Islands off northern Japan for 63 years and China has occupied Tibet since 1950. So, where is the international outcry demanding that these countries return lands they seized in war?
I don't recall any demands being made of any nation for compensation or allowing a right of return to any refugees displaced after any wars in modern times - except for Israel. Czechoslovakia expelled its Sudetenland Germans from their homes after World War II; the Poles expelled millions of Germans from East Prussia in 1945; thousands of Turkish Cypriots were displaced by Greek military forces in the 1960s while Turkish forces displaced thousands of Greek Cypriots from Northern Cyprus after their 1974-1976 war; 450,000 ethnic Chinese were expelled from Vietnam in 1978-1979; the Bangladeshis expelled over three million Hindus in 1974; 250,000 Georgians were displaced from Abkhazia between 1993 and 1998, not to mention more than 500,000 ethnic Russians in Chechnya who were displaced during the First Chechen War in 1994-1996 and more than 800,000 Kosovar Albanians who were expelled from Kosovo in 1998-1999. (Family Security Matters)
The Egyptian government has been preparing a bold new initiative to regulate satellite television and the Internet that circumvent the government's grip on conventional media. The state of emergency in place since 1981 gives the government wide-ranging powers to restrict freedom of expression in the name of national security. Even the regular penal codes can be used to jail citizens for such infractions as "insulting the president." However, the Internet and satellite television pose special problems for the government because it does not control the broadcast sites.
Information Minister Anas al-Fiqi, a close ally of Gamal Mubarak, son of the current president, seeks to establish a supreme censorship authority in Egypt with jurisdiction over broadcasting and the Internet. Whatever the fate of the draft law, most Egyptian analysts are confident that Egypt's media community will continue to defy government attempts to impose censorship. "The genie is out of the bottle," says Naila Hamdy, a professor of journalism at American University in Cairo, "so it is difficult to imagine that new laws are really going to cause Egyptian journalists to give up their newly gained freedoms." (Mideast Monitor)
Israel: Hamas Rocket Fire Must Be Stopped - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Al-Arabiya/Prime Minister's Office)
Prime Minister Olmert told Al-Arabiya television Thursday:
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