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Special Edition

January 4, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Hundreds of Hamas Members Trained in Rocket Launching in Damascus and Tehran - Georges Malbrunot (Le Figaro-France - in French)
    Hundreds of Hamas members were sent for training in Damascus and Tehran to learn to launch Katyusha and Grad 2 rockets, a former head of security in the Palestinian Authority in Gaza told Le Figaro.

Policemen Killed in Gaza Were 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Members (MEMRI)
    Rashid Thabet, writing for a website identified with Hamas (, 29Dec08), praised the policemen killed in the initial Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, stating that nearly all of them were 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam [Hamas military wing] members who by day carried out security missions and by night engaged in jihad and attacks.

Israeli Public in No Mood for Compromise - Kim Sengupta (Independent-UK)
    The overwhelming view among Israelis in Jerusalem Friday was that their government was right to attack Gaza and the offensive should go on for as long as it takes.
    A common reaction of Israelis is that outsiders simply don't understand what they have been going through.
    Domestic opposition has been much more muted than in some past wars, and even in those areas deemed to be Jerusalem's most liberal, the mood was generally uncompromising.
    "I feel terribly sorry for the poor people of Gaza, but this had to happen," said Alona Keren, 34. "Going in on the ground is necessary because that would be the only way to make sure that Hamas cannot continue firing rockets."
    "I have friends in the army and some of them may not come back from such an operation. But I am afraid that is the price we must prepare ourselves to pay."

Hamas Moves Against Fatah "Collaborators" - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas has placed dozens of Fatah members under house arrest out of fear that they might exploit the current IDF operation to regain control of Gaza.
    Fatah officials in Ramallah said Hamas militiamen had been assaulting many Fatah activists since the beginning of the operation last Saturday. They said at least 75 activists were shot in the legs, while others had their hands broken.
    Sources close to Hamas revealed over the weekend that the movement had "executed" more than 35 Palestinians who were suspected of collaborating with Israel and were being held in Hamas security installations.
    The decision to kill the suspected collaborators was taken out of fear that Israel might try to rescue them.

Son of Hamas Leader Gives Glimpse into Terror Organization (FOX News)
    Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef, says the organization betrays the Palestinian cause and tortures its own members.
    Yousef said he was indoctrinated at an early age to use violence to challenge Israel. He became the leader of the radical Islamic Youth Movement that celebrated suicide bombings and recruited young men to the cause.
    Now 30, Yousef has sought asylum in the U.S.
    Video: Interview with Mosab Hassan Yousef (FOX News)

Israel Interrupts Hamas Radio, TV Broadcasts in Gaza (AFP)
    Hamas on Saturday accused Israel of interrupting its radio and television broadcasts in Gaza.
    A broadcast on Al-Aqsa television was interrupted with an image of a ringing phone that no one was answering. "Hamas leaders are hiding and they are leaving you on the front line," says a voice in Arabic.
    On Friday, Hamas' political supremo Khaled Meshaal was calling on Palestinians to rise up against Israel when his picture suddenly disappeared from the Al-Aqsa TV broadcast.
    "Hamas has misled you and abandoned you," a man's voice said in Arabic. "If you call any leader of Hamas, nobody will answer."
    A broadcast on Al-Aqsa radio was interrupted with a man's voice speaking in Arabic: "Hamas leaders are lying to you and they are hiding in hospitals. Launching rockets puts civilians in danger."

Useful Reference:

Video: Children of Hamas (YouTube)
    How Hamas educates the children of Gaza for war with Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Begins Ground Attack in Gaza - Taghreed El-Khodary and Isabel Kershner
    Israeli tanks and troops swept across the border into Gaza on Saturday night, opening a ground war against Hamas after a week of intense airstrikes. The Israeli military said in a statement that the objective of the ground campaign was "to destroy the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas, while taking control of some of the rocket launching sites" that Hamas uses to fire at southern Israel. "Hamas can stop it whenever it wants," by stopping its rocket fire, said Shlomo Dror, a Defense Ministry spokesman. (New York Times)
        See also Israeli Troops Control Roads North, South of Gaza City
    Israeli infantry units backed by tanks took control on Sunday of the major roads leading into Gaza City, witnesses said. Dozens of tanks operating south of Gaza City, in the area of the former Jewish settlement of Netzarim, had also taken control of the coastal road. (AFP)
        See also More than 50 Hamas Terrorists Killed in Ground Operation - Hanan Greenberg
    The IDF estimates that since the start of the ground operation Saturday night in Gaza, more than 50 Hamas operatives have been killed. Mortar shells are being fired at the troops, who are responding with tank fire. (Ynet News)
  • Bush: "We Seek Security and Peace for Our Allies, the Free People of Israel"
    In a radio address Saturday, President Bush said: "This recent outburst of violence was instigated by Hamas - a Palestinian terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria that calls for Israel's destruction. Eighteen months ago, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a coup, and since then has imported thousands of guns and rockets and mortars. Egypt brokered a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, but Hamas routinely violated that ceasefire by launching rockets into Israel. On December 19th, Hamas announced an end to the ceasefire and soon unleashed a barrage of rockets and mortars that deliberately targeted innocent Israelis - an act of terror that is opposed by the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people, President Abbas."
        "In response to these attacks on their people, the leaders of Israel have launched military operations on Hamas positions in Gaza. As a part of their strategy, Hamas terrorists often hide within the civilian population, which puts innocent Palestinians at risk." "Another one-way ceasefire that leads to rocket attacks on Israel is not acceptable. And promises from Hamas will not suffice - there must be monitoring mechanisms in place to help ensure that smuggling of weapons to terrorist groups in Gaza comes to an end." "America's objectives in the Middle East will remain clear: We seek security and peace for our allies, the free people of Israel. For the Palestinian people, we seek a peaceful and democratic Palestinian state that serves its citizens and respects its neighbors." (White House)
        See also Hamas Provoked Attacks, Bush Says - Sudarsan Raghavan and Dan Eggen (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Thwarts Libyan Push for Gaza Truce at UN - Louis Charbonneau
    The U.S. thwarted an effort by Libya on Saturday to persuade the UN Security Council to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza after Israel launched a ground invasion, diplomats said. The U.S. refused to back the Libyan-drafted text or a later, watered-down call for a truce. The U.S. insists that any resolution state that Hamas is a terrorist organization that seized power in Gaza from the legitimate Palestinian Authority.
        U.S. envoy Alejandro Wolff said there was no point in issuing statements that Hamas, which unilaterally declared an end to a 6-month-old ceasefire last month, would ignore. "I don't think it does the council any issue statements that aren't going to be observed," Wolff said. "Israel's self-defense is not negotiable." (Reuters)
  • Europe Split Over Israeli Land Offensive in Gaza - James Mackenzie
    France condemned an Israeli land assault in Gaza on Saturday, just hours after the Czech presidency of the EU said Israel appeared to be acting defensively. "At the moment, from the perspective of the last days, we understand this step as a defensive, not offensive, action," said Czech EU presidency spokesman Jiri Potuznik in Prague. (Reuters)
        See also German Chancellor Merkel: Hamas Terror Cannot Be Accepted - Benjamin Weinthal
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her New Year's address: "The terror of Hamas cannot be accepted." According to her spokesman Thomas Steg, she said in a conversation with Prime Minister Olmert that the responsibility for the conflict lies "clearly and exclusively" with Hamas. Merkel demanded that Hamas "immediately and permanently" stop its rocket attacks on Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Muslim States Cold on Gaza Talks
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad's senior advisor, Mojtaba Samareh-Hashemi, pointed to efforts made by Iran to bring together the member states of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) in an emergency meeting on the crisis in Gaza. "In contacts we had (with the OIC member states), only eight countries said that they will attend the meeting," Fars news agency quoted him as saying. (Tehran Times-Iran)
  • Palestinians' Factional Split Deepens over Gaza Conflict - Richard Boudreaux and Ashraf Khalil
    Israel's assault in Gaza has widened the rift between Palestinians who back the search by moderate leaders for a peace accord and those drawn to Hamas' call for armed struggle. Palestinians say they are reluctant to rally behind any national cause not backed by all political factions. That helps explain why unrest over the violence in Gaza has been less intense in the West Bank than in some Arab capitals, said Hani Masri, a political analyst in Ramallah. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel's Aim in Gaza Is to Break Hamas Resistance - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    The Israel Defense Forces started deploying combat units to surround Hamas' main power base. The goal is not to destroy every last rocket launcher, but rather to break the Hamas' resistance and force it to agree to a long-term cease-fire. The ground invasion will also accelerate the diplomatic stopwatch. That means the IDF has less than a week to make genuine progress in Gaza. Hamas is likely to use suicide attackers, booby-trapped tunnels and sniper fire against IDF troops. More than 100 militants who trained in Iran will lead the fighting against the IDF. (Ha'aretz)
  • Iran Issues New Threats: IDF Wary of Hizbullah Attacks in North - Yaakov Katz
    The Israeli army is on high alert along the northern border out of concern that Hizbullah will fire rockets - or use Palestinian proxies to do so - in response to the IDF's escalation in Gaza. This would open a second front for Israel as it operates against Hamas in the south. On Saturday, Saeed Jalili, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, arrived in Syria to discuss the situation in Gaza. According to media reports, Jalili said Iran and Hizbullah had reached an agreement under which the Lebanese group would launch rockets into Israel if the IDF began a ground operation in Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
  • International Community Giving Israel Time to Weaken Hamas - Aluf Benn
    The international community, headed by the U.S. and Egypt, is giving Israel time to carry out the ground offensive in Gaza, so it will severely damage Hamas' regime. The rationale behind such a move is that a weakened Hamas would improve the chances of achieving a stable agreement in Gaza once the fighting subsides. According to sources in the U.S., President Bush has intercepted an initiative by Secretary of State Rice and British Foreign Secretary Miliband to formulate a cease-fire draft. One source said Bush instructed the State Department to refrain from action in the matter. According to officials, the U.S. and Israel are cooperating diplomatically on the issue. (Ha'aretz)
  • Two Senior Hamas Terrorists Killed in IDF Airstrike - Yaakov Katz
    Senior Hamas terrorist Hussam Hamdan, who was in charge of Grad-type rocket launches into Beersheba and Ofakim, was killed in an IAF strike on Khan Yunis on Sunday. Senior Hamas terrorist Muhammad Hilo, in charge of Hamas special forces in Khan Yunis, was also killed in the same airstrike. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Rockets Fired at Ashdod, Ashkelon - Shmulik Hadad
    A number of Palestinian rockets exploded in the Ashdod area Sunday, injuring a woman. One hit a store and started a fire. Rockets also landed near Ashkelon. (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinian Rocket Fire Injures Two
    Palestinians in Gaza fired five rockets at Sderot Sunday, injuring one woman. A rocket fired on Saturday scored a direct hit on a house in Netivot, causing the structure to completely collapse and wounding the resident of the house. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas and the Palestinians - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas came to power in January 2006 largely thanks to the corruption and incompetence of the Palestinian Authority. But many of the Palestinians who voted for Hamas were well aware of the movement's radical ideology and its desire to replace Israel with an Islamic state. The majority of the Palestinians who voted for Hamas knew exactly what they were choosing. Indeed, in mid-December, more than 250,000 Palestinians took to the streets to celebrate Hamas' 21st anniversary. The Palestinians who are now shouting and crying because of the Israeli offensive should direct their anger first and foremost toward the "elected" government of Hamas.
        The Hamas government will disappear only when the Palestinian masses take to the streets and demand regime change - from the same people who were bold enough to bring down Abbas' Fatah faction in 2006 because of its corruption. (Hudson Institute)
  • In Gaza, the Real Enemy is Iran - Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael B. Oren
    Hamas, like Hizbullah in Lebanon, is a proxy for the real enemy Israel is confronting: Iran. Israel's current operation against Hamas represents a unique chance to deal a strategic blow to Iranian expansionism. Iran has co-opted Hamas, a Sunni organization closely linked to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, transforming the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a jihad against the Jewish state.
        The Middle East conflict is no longer just about creating a Palestinian state but about preventing the region's takeover by radical Islam. Indeed, Palestinian statehood is impossible without neutralizing the extremists who oppose any negotiated solution. If Hamas is successful in manipulating world opinion into the imposition of a premature cease-fire, it will proclaim victory and continue to stockpile long-range missiles for the next round of fighting. That would mean another triumph for Iran. The writers are fellows at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Holding Hamas Accountable - Matthew Levitt
    Some will recommend that Obama approve direct talks with Hamas. But Hamas is dead set against a two-state solution. Indeed, Hamas deploys suicide bombers specifically aimed at derailing progress toward peace. Engaging Hamas will not help the peace process, but it will legitimize the group most violently opposed to such progress. Engaging in direct diplomacy with Hamas while it targets civilian population centers would empower a movement designated as a terrorist group by both the United States and the European Union. It would also pull the carpet out from under Palestinian moderates who are truly interested in pursuing peace and are vying with Hamas for popular support.
        The Obama administration should take the opportunity to lead an international coalition bent on empowering Palestinian moderates and weakening extremists. The internationally recognized conditions for engaging Hamas are clear, and should be reaffirmed: renunciation of terrorism and political violence, respect for past agreements negotiated by the Palestinian Authority and recognition of Israel. (Forward/Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • The Moral Battleground - Melanie Phillips
    Untold numbers of Israeli soldiers will lose their lives as the result not merely of the genocidal aims of Hamas (and its Iranian puppet-master), but also the indifference and pusillanimity towards Palestinian terror displayed by world governments over the past six decades of Israel's fight for survival, along with the active encouragement of genocidal Islamists by Jew-haters who were on such thuggish display in coordinated demonstrations in British and other Western cities. Such people have made no protest at the bombardment of Israeli towns by more than 6,000 rockets in the past six years, deliberately targeting innocent civilians. No, their protest only starts when Israel finally takes the military action aimed at stopping this murderous barrage. (Spectator-UK)
  • Observations:

    Hamas Rockets Block the Birth of a Palestinian State - Malcolm Rifkind (Telegraph-UK)

    • As well as an attempt to stop missiles being launched against its own citizens, the Israelis have a wider, strategic objective. They are seeking to create conditions on the ground that will enable a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians and the creation of a Palestinian state.
    • The Israeli attacks on Hamas are not unreasonable. Imagine missiles being fired across the 21 miles of the English Channel and landing in the towns and villages of Kent. Imagine if, for several years, the IRA had been allowed to fire missiles into the villages of Northern Ireland from the Irish Republic with the consent and approval of the Irish government. Every government has a first duty to protect its citizens.
    • The Arab governments, despite their protests, are indifferent to Hamas' plight. Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia loathe Hamas, as do those Palestinians who give their loyalty to Fatah.
    • Israel will never concede a Palestinian state unless the Palestinians provide an absolute guarantee of an end to hostilities by all Palestinian parties.

      Sir Malcolm Rifkind was British Foreign Secretary, 1995-1997.

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