Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel: Terrorists Hiding in Hospitals and Mosques; No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
12 Palestinians Hurt in Gaza Fighting Treated in Israeli Hospitals - Fadi Eyadat and Dana Viler-Pollak (Ha'aretz)
Iran Students Attempt Attack on Jordan Embassy - Hani Hazaimeh
Hamas Sends Text Messages to Israeli Cell Phones - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
Number of Terror Attacks on Israel Rises in 2008 - Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
Gaza Hides a War Over the Arabs' Future - Michael Young (Daily Star-Lebanon)
Vulnerable Israeli Homefront Rethinks Withdrawals - Aron Heller and Matti Friedman (AP)
Gaza and Hamas: The Dilemma that Springs from a Defiant Refusal to Compromise (Economist-UK)
Excessive Force? - James S. Robbins (National Review)
Answering Israel's Critics - Yigal Walt (Ynet News)
Collective Punishment Against Israelis - Bradley Burston (Ha'aretz)
The Palestinian Tilt toward Self-Destruction - Tom Teepen (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Israel Engages in Self-Defense - David Brumer (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Hamas Escalation Forced Israeli Defensive Moves (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
By firing rockets deep into Israeli territory, Hamas has in recent days displayed an arsenal that has been upgraded with weapons parts smuggled into Gaza since it seized control of the territory 18 months ago, according to American and Israeli officials. Hamas and other militant groups have lobbed thousands of rockets into Israel since 2001. The difference now, officials said, is that Hamas is using more of the imported Katyusha rockets, which have a longer range than the homemade Kassam rockets it relied on in the past. A senior Israeli military official said Israeli intelligence believed Hamas took advantage of a six-month truce with Israel to bolster its stockpiles.
American and Israeli officials said there was evidence that some Hamas fighters might have been schooled in urban assault tactics at Iranian camps run by the Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. In April, the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center released a report saying Hamas had been engaged in a military buildup since the group took control of Gaza in June 2007. The report cited data by the Israel Security Agency asserting that Hamas had smuggled at least 80 tons of explosives into Gaza since then. (New York Times)
See also Report: Palestinian Rocket and Mortar Fire on Israel in 2008
In 2008, the terrorist organizations significantly increased the scope of rocket attacks on Israel. One million Israeli civilians are threatened by Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Thursday that Hamas must ensure rocket fire stops in any truce deal to halt Israel's assault in Gaza, criticizing Palestinian militants for giving Israel an excuse to launch the bombardment. Aboul Gheit repeated that Egypt cannot open the Rafah border crossing unless Abbas' Palestinian Authority - which runs the West Bank - controls the crossing and international monitors are present. He said Egypt had proposed that Arab foreign ministers who gathered in Cairo Wednesday request that Hamas allow PA control of Rafah, but Syria rejected the proposal. (AP)
See also Egypt Hunting Hamas Operatives in Sinai - Roee Nahmias
Egypt's Al-Ahram weekly quoted official sources as saying that Egyptian security forces are hunting for several Hamas operatives who have infiltrated Sinai and are aiming to target Egyptian forces. Egyptian authorities have called on locals to refrain from assisting the infiltrators in any way. Meanwhile, Mohammed Bassiouni, former Egyptian ambassador to Israel and currently chairman of the parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, criticized Hamas Thursday on Cairo's state television, saying, "Where are the Hamas leaders now, when Gazans are being killed? They are all in hiding." (Ynet News)
The UN Security Council has discussed a draft resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire to halt the Israeli-Palestinian violence. But the meeting failed to vote on the Libyan draft after ambassadors from the U.S. and UK said it contained nothing about Palestinian attacks on Israel. The U.S. ambassador at the UN said he believed it was up to Israel and Hamas themselves to agree to a cease-fire, and that the UN should not impose one. (BBC News)
Danish police on Thursday arrested a 27-year-old man of Palestinian origin on suspicion of shooting and wounding two Israeli citizens at a shopping mall in central Denmark. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
A women and a man were wounded by shrapnel in Ashkelon on Friday as two Grad rockets hit residential areas of the city, one hitting a house. One person was wounded in Sderot as two Kassam rockets hit the town. Another Kassam rocket hit the Netivot area. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Israel Air Force Hits Cell that Fired at Ashkelon
The Israel Air Force responded swiftly to the Friday morning attacks on Ashkelon, striking the terror cell responsible for firing Grad rockets at the city. Earlier Friday, the IAF bombed 20 targets in Gaza, including a mosque in Jabalya. The Holfe Mosque was used as a launching pad for rockets, a meeting place for Hamas terrorists and a staging ground for terror attacks, as well as a communications center, the IDF said, adding that it was used as a storage site for a large amount of Grad-type missiles, Kassam rockets and additional weaponry. The airstrike set off a lengthy series of secondary explosions and a large fire, caused by the ammunition stockpiled in the mosque. (Jerusalem Post)
See also 51 Palestinian Rockets Hit Israel Thursday - Yuval Goren
51 Palestinian rockets hit southern Israel Thursday, striking Sderot, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheba, Netivot, Ofakim, and adjacent areas. Since Saturday, 351 Grad and Kassam rockets have been fired at Israel, and 41 mortars. (Ha'aretz)
Israel dropped a one-ton bomb on the home of senior Hamas commander Sheikh Nizar Rayyan on Thursday, killing him and a reported 18 others. The IDF said it called the house before the strike and warned the family to leave. Rayyan's house served as a weapons warehouse and Hamas communications center. He served not only as the religious leader for Hamas' military wing, Izzadin Kassam, but also as one of its military commanders. He was often seen in uniform and participated in military exercises. Rayyan was the director and financier of the 2004 terror attack at Ashdod port which killed 10 Israelis, and in October 2001 he sent his son to perpetrate a suicide attack in the Gush Katif settlement Elei Sinai, where two Israelis were killed. Rayyan also reportedly replaced Sheikh Ahmed Yassin as Hamas' top clerical authority.
Earlier Thursday, the Israel Air Force bombed the home of Muhammad Barahoud, a top Popular Resistance Committees operative who was the head of all rocket cells in northern Gaza. There were anti-tank missiles, rockets and bombs in the home. Another home destroyed belonged to Hasim Drili, who had a manufacturing plant in his home for rockets, mortar shells and missiles. A third home belonged to Tafik Abu Raf, a Hamas terror operative who had a weapons laboratory in his house. A fourth home belonged to Nabil Amrin, the commander of a Hamas battalion. The IDF reported a series of secondary explosions, confirming that the house contained a large weapons and ammunition cache. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Elimination of Senior Hamas Operative Approved by Israeli Attorney General Mazuz - Amir Buhbut and Amit Cohen (Maariv-Hebrew)
See also IDF Sends Hamas a Message - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
The killing of senior Hamas official Nizar Rayyan sends a message to the Palestinians. Gazans had been asking why Israel is hitting Hamas foot soldiers and empty buildings rather than the leadership. The killing in 2004 of Hamas leaders Abdel Aziz Rantisi and Ahmed Yassin was the main factor behind the Hamas decision to suspend suicide bombings. (Ha'aretz)
See also No Tears for Hamas Leader in PA - Khaled Abu Toameh
Nizar Rayyan was a sworn enemy not only of Israel, but also of the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas. Rayyan personally led the Hamas militiamen who seized Abbas' compound in Gaza City and PA security installations throughout Gaza in 2007. A few months later, Rayyan issued a threat against Abbas, declaring that he would soon lead Friday prayers inside Abbas' compound in Ramallah, an indication of Hamas' intention to extend its control to the West Bank. Some PA officials claimed that he was responsible for the killing of scores of Abbas loyalists in Gaza during the 2007 "coup." (Jerusalem Post)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday that Israel is not seeking an extended military campaign in Gaza. "We have no interest in waging a prolonged war," he said. "What we want is that our children will grow up in security and that they will not need to run away from the shrieking whistles of rockets." "We want quiet and that the way of life in the south will change so that the children will not live in fear." "We did not declare war against the residents of Gaza, but against Hamas we will act with an iron fist," Olmert added. "Hamas is making things difficult for us, but more so for its people."
Olmert is interested in the establishment of an international supervision and enforcement mechanism for any cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, and has emphasized this in talks with U.S. Secretary of State Rice and other world leaders. "Israel cannot agree that the only party responsible for implementing and regulating the cease-fire be Hamas," a senior Israeli diplomatic source said on Wednesday. (Ha'aretz)
Thirty-two people were treated for shock after a Grad rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza slammed into an apartment building in Ashdod on Thursday, but no one was wounded in the attack, thanks to residents' adherence to Home Front Command directives to enter safe rooms after hearing the warning siren. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Beersheba Residents May Be Scared, But They're Not Leaving - Abe Selig
Fear was splashed across the faces of Beersheba residents Thursday as the sudden wail of a siren pierced the air and they scrambled into a bomb shelter near the city center. Running through the entrance and down the stairs, young women, elderly men, parents holding their young children and gasping for breath from the sprint to reach the shelter in time - all betrayed a look that revealed the shock and confusion residents feel now that rockets have begun to rain down on their homes. But even with the daunting booms that are often heard seconds after the sirens stop, Beersheba residents overwhelmingly said it would take a lot more than rockets to make them leave town. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating. Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger. Today in Gaza, one combatant is committed to causing the most civilian pain and suffering on both sides. The other combatant is committed to saving as many lives as possible - also on both sides.
Israel has but a single objective in Gaza - peace: the calm, open, normal relations it offered Gaza when it withdrew in 2005. Doing something never done by Turkish, British, Egyptian and Jordanian rulers, the Israelis gave the Palestinians their first sovereign territory ever in Gaza. Gaza's Iranian-sponsored rulers turned it into a terror base - firing rockets unceasingly. Since Hamas' raison d'etre is the eradication of Israel, there are only two possible outcomes: the defeat of Hamas or the extinction of Israel. (Washington Post)
There is no question - none - that Israel's attack on Hamas in Gaza is justified. No nation can tolerate a portion of its people living in the conditions of the London Blitz - sleeping in bomb shelters and separated from death only by the randomness of a Kassam missile's flight. And no group aspiring to nationhood, such as Hamas, can be exempt from the rules of morality and civilization, which forbid routine murder attempts against your neighbors.
Israel's response has been criticized as "disproportionate," which betrays a misunderstanding of proportion's meaning. The goal of military action, when unavoidable, is not to take one life in exchange for each one unjustly taken; this is mere vengeance. The goal is to remove the conditions that lead to conflict and the taking of life. So far, Israel's actions have been proportionate to this objective.
The Israeli public will not accept any further risks for peace as long as Hamas missiles fly. Those missiles are a daily symbol that Israeli territorial concessions result in the strengthening of committed enemies and the death of Israeli citizens. The removal of this threat is not an obstacle to the peace process. It is the prerequisite for the resumption of the peace process. America, in turn, faces a test of its moral judgment. This conflict is not a contest between shades of gray. It is a matter of distinguishing between murderers and victims - and of supporting an ally until a clear victory against terrorism is achieved. (Washington Post)
It is clearer in my mind than ever why a cease-fire between Jerusalem and the regime in Gaza will never hold. Even during the so-called cease-fire in place since the summer, day-in and almost every day-out, rockets were launched from Hamas territory, and Israel did not fight back. How long was Israel to stand aside while its enemies, sworn by fanatic Islam to its destruction, rained death, injury, and terror on its population?
A cease-fire can sometimes be had between civilized governments. But why isn't anyone pressing the U.S. in Afghanistan into a cease-fire with the Taliban? A stupid question. Because the enemy is the Taliban. The fact is that Hamas is a Taliban state. Go ahead, establish a cease-fire with one of them. America before Israel. A cease-fire with Hamas is a delusion. Engage with whom? (New Republic)
Today, as Israel tries to defend itself by force of arms against enemies dedicated to its destruction, the ritual call is for peace processes for our time. That might be fine, were Israel's attackers in Gaza just a solo street gang of malcontents. Yet since its founding in 1987 as an offshoot of the Palestinian branch of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas has drawn support from a global network. Most prominent and dangerous among Hamas supporters is Iran - an important source of funding, training and munitions. Start following the Iranian connections and it quickly becomes clear that Gaza is just one part of a larger web that we might once have called an axis - of evil, of tyranny, of totalitarian ideology. (Forbes)
I have been a very outspoken critic of Israeli policies for many years. Nevertheless, far from being only victims, Palestinians have made many active decisions that have shaped their fate and are co-responsible for the current situation. I am impatiently waiting for the moment in which there will be a Palestinian state and in which no Palestinian child will have to see an Israeli soldier in his or her lifetime. But the Palestinian decision-making process is making this very difficult, if not impossible.
Politically correct moralists who let Palestinians off the hook and turn Israel into the sole culprit are making a huge mistake. It is high time that Palestinians begin to face their responsibility for their fate. Sacrificing their sons either as Shahids through suicide bombings or as targets behind which Hamas hides its arsenals of explosives in population centers is the perfect recipe for traumatizing or killing another generation of Palestinian children. (Guardian-UK)
According to the Gaza rules, both sides always deserve equal blame. World opinion vehemently condemns Israel's countermeasures, apparently because its rockets are far more accurate and deadly than previous Hamas barrages. If America had accepted such rules in World War II, then by late 1944 we, not the Axis, would have been the culpable party, since by then once-aggressive German, Italian and Japanese forces were increasingly on the defensive and far less lethal than the Allies.
Killing Palestinian civilians is incidental to Israeli military operations and proves counterproductive to its objectives. Blowing up Israeli non-combatants is the aim of Hamas' barrages. By this logic, the 1999 American bombing of Belgrade - aimed at stopping the genocide of Slobodan Milosevic - was, because of collateral damage, the moral equivalent of the carefully planned Serbian massacres of Muslim civilians at Srebrenica in 1995.
Hamas daily sends barrages into Israel, as its hooded thugs thump their chests and brag of their radical Islamic militancy. But when the payback comes, suddenly warriors are transmogrified into weeping victims, posing teary-eyed for the news camera as they deplore "genocide" and "the Palestinian Holocaust." (Salt Lake Tribune)
Look at your ceiling now. Can it stop a rocket? That's what Israelis are asking. It puzzles Israelis when the world comes down on them hard for what they see as pure self-defense. But it does come down on them, every time. The mitigating factor this time is that most of the world despises Hamas even more than it holds Israel to impossible standards.
Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in operations by U.S. forces and their allies in Iraq. Thousands of civilians have died in Afghanistan in coalition air raids aimed at Taliban and al-Qaeda. No one cheers when it happens, but civilian casualties are not the focus of criticism of those wars. Unless the overall equation is changed, unless something is done to make Gaza livable and not a crucible of extremism, this is just going to happen again. The writer is an Associated Press correspondent who has covered the Mideast since 1972. (Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette)
The tactics and ideology of Hamas and its backers are the foremost obstacle to Middle East peace. For too long, Hamas has held progress to ransom, choosing war over peace, destruction over development. Israel's objective is to take the initiative away from Hamas. The pragmatic moderates of all sides need a new reality from which to find a diplomatic solution. Unless we weaken Hamas, the moderates cannot succeed. The international community, Israel and the pragmatic leadership of the Arab world must stand up to the extremism that threatens us all. The writer is Israel's Ambassador to the UK. (Telegraph-UK)
Gaza and the Arab World
Q: Can you imagine an outcome of this conflict with a recognition of Hamas' status in Gaza?
Gold: Hamas is the Palestinian division of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition force in Egypt. Legitimizing Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip has implications for the future stability of the Egyptian government. The same is true in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan where there's a huge Muslim Brotherhood presence. Should Hamas become legitimized in Gaza, what would that do for the future stability of the Jordanian kingdom? Many countries in the Arab world who are publicly objecting to Israel's self-defense operations are privately rooting for Israel and hoping Israel puts a real damper at Hamas' capabilities because they themselves have problems with the radical Islamist groups in their own countries. ("All Things Considered"-NPR)
If Israel accepts a cease-fire under terms favorable to Hamas, such as permanently lifting the siege on Gaza or opening the Rafah border with Egypt, Hamas will claim victory and secure its primacy in Palestinian politics. However, if Israel clearly defeats Hamas, Abbas will win. He will be able to present himself to the people of Gaza as the savior who will rebuild what Hamas has destroyed with its adventurous and destructive policies. Nevertheless, the continuation of the conflict will make it harder for the PA to maintain its campaign against Hamas in the West Bank since it will want to avoid being portrayed as collaborating with Israel. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Hizbullah "cannot afford to enter a full-scale war with Israel, which would be devastating for Lebanon," said Paul Salem, Beirut-based director of the Carnegie Middle East Center, an arm of the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. For now, Hizbullah's strategy seems to be to mobilize the Arab masses, particularly in Egypt, while counting on Hamas holding out until Israel backs down under outside pressure to end the Gaza offensive.
Hizbullah expert Amal Saad-Ghorayeb describes the conflict as an "existential" one between those opposed to U.S. and Israeli policy - namely, Hamas, Hizbullah, Syria and Iran - and the so-called pro-U.S. Arab states. A Hamas defeat will weaken its backers and "the moderate axis will reign supreme." But if Hamas survives, it would be a major victory for them, said Saad-Ghorayeb, author of the book Hizbullah: Politics and Religion. (AP/Detroit News)
The relationship between Hamas, the Islamist organization that runs the Gaza Strip, and Egypt, which fears the rise of Islamic militancy, has always been little more than one of necessity. Egypt faces accusations from Hamas that it is actively supporting the Israeli campaign by continuing to keep its border with Gaza sealed. Mubarak's government has lashed back, blaming Hamas for the suffering of the Gazans and implying that the movement is an Iranian proxy. Many in Cairo believe their nation has paid enough for the sake of the Palestinian cause, fighting several wars and losing tens of thousands of soldiers. (Los Angeles Times)
Editorials on the Gaza Conflict
The Israel Defense Forces have been condemned around the world for a disproportionate use of force in Gaza, though it must be remembered that 8,000 rockets have been fired at their territory in recent years. Ron Prosor, the Israeli ambassador to London, asked what we would do if our sovereign territory were under daily attack. It is a good question; the answer must be that we would seek to protect our people. As long as Hamas refuses to contemplate a two-state solution, there is little chance of peace. (Telegraph-UK)
There is terrible guilt to be ascribed in the Israeli raids on Gaza - and it falls squarely and solely on the shoulders of the death-to-Israel fanatics of Hamas. It was rocket-firing, suicide-bombing Hamas that broke a six-month-long truce by raining missiles down on southern Israel, necessitating a stern - and remarkably precise - military response. There is no doubt civilians are among the dead or wounded. And there is guilt for that carnage. It belongs to Hamas, which has woven terrorism into the very fabric of life in the Gaza Strip, placing mortar-firing militants side-by-side with children and exposing them to the risk of harm by a country forced to defend its own people. (New York Daily News)
The more successful Israel is in damaging Hamas as a terrorist force, the better chance Mr. Obama will have to make progress in facilitating a genuine Mideast peace. Mr. Obama is about to discover that the terrorists of the Middle East aren't about to change their radical ambitions merely because America has a new president. (Wall Street Journal)
Let's keep straight whose fault this tragedy is: Hamas, the fanatical Islamists who rule Gaza. Yes, the Israelis have inflicted far more casualties on the Gazans than the Gazans have on them, but that is because Hamas deliberately and evilly locates its military resources among civilians, cynically hoping for a propaganda victory. There can be no peace as long as Hamas is a player. (Dallas Morning News)
Israel is fulfilling the most elementary obligation of any government: to protect the lives of its people. This was the reason for the founding of the Jewish state in the first place. Hamas was founded not to win independence for the Palestinian people but to destroy Israel. Palestinians have a legitimate right to pursue the creation of an independent state, but not to seek the destruction of another country. Any outcome that is perceived as a victory for Hamas would be a victory for terrorism. (Miami Herald)
Israel needs the support of decent people everywhere. (New York Post)
Hamas is never going to change its belief that it has a God-given mission to destroy Israel, and the capacity to do so. The truce Hamas offered was an opportunity to stockpile weapons and undergo training. Hamas interpreted Israeli restraint as evidence that Israel was unable to defend its sovereignty and was therefore actually on the path to defeat and national dissolution.
An essential factor in this tragic situation is the readiness of Arabs and Muslims everywhere to take the Hamas fantasy for reality. In Cairo, Damascus, or Tehran, many evidently think it right and proper and normal for Hamas to keep up a barrage of missiles and rockets while Israelis are supposed to accept the punishment, while measures of self-defense on the part of Israel are to be considered criminal. (National Review)
Calls on Israel to immediately cease its pounding of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip are misdirected. Hamas' rockets are growing in range and sophistication, and soon will be able to strike targets deep inside Israel. That's intolerable. (Detroit News)
Hamas and other Islamist groups deliberately target Israeli civilians and celebrate when Jewish children die. Israel, responding in self-defense, seeks to minimize civilian casualties and grieves when Arab children get caught in the crossfire. There is no mystery to this asymmetry. Israel is a Western-style liberal democracy; Hamas is a fundamentalist, Iranian-backed Islamist group. We are in this mess because the national priority of Hamas, as always, is to hurt Jews rather than help Palestinians. (Ottawa Citizen-Canada)
Israel is acting in self-defense, as any country in its position would. If Gaza had not served as a launching pad for terrorism, then Israel would not have struck at the source. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Hamas brought its woes upon itself. Now it's paying the price. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
As Israel continues to respond to rocket attacks launched from Hamas-controlled Gaza, we offer some unsolicited advice to a fellow democracy and ally: Go all in. Finish the job. (The Oklahoman)
Israel's Policy Is Perfectly "Proportionate" - Alan M. Dershowitz (Wall Street Journal)
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