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January 13, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Raids Aid Trucks, Sells Supplies - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas on Monday raided some 100 aid trucks that Israel had allowed into Gaza, stole their contents and sold them to the highest bidders.

Hamas: Victory Over Israel "Closer Than Ever" (AFP)
    "We can assure our people that victory is now closer than ever," Hamas government spokesman Taher al-Nunu said in a statement in Gaza on Monday.

How Badly Has Hamas Been Hurt in Gaza? - Tim McGirk (TIME)
    The Israelis say they have identified more than 400 known Hamas militants among the Gazans that Palestinian sources say have been killed in the fighting.
    Israeli military sources said that using intelligence from 120 suspected Hamas militants captured during the first hours of the ground invasion, the IDF found and blew up dozens of launching sites and rocket factories.
    One thing is certain. Every symbol of Hamas rule in Gaza, every government building, police station and office block, has been replaced by a very large hole.

Every Item a Potential Booby Trap in Gaza - Abraham Rabinovich (The Australian)
    In Hamas strongholds in Gaza, the Israelis assume entrances to unoccupied houses are booby trapped. They gain entry by opening a hole in a side wall.
    Explosive devices have been found in profusion, attached to anything from dolls to pianos.
    On Sunday, a soldier found an entire school building and an adjacent zoo rigged with explosives.

It's Not Israel's Fault It Has a Strong, Well-Run Army - Yoel Marcus (Ha'aretz)
    We need to be thankful for the decision to launch the Gaza operation, if only because the offensive has pulled the wraps off the huge arsenal of rockets they have in Gaza, capable of reaching Beersheba.
    If Israel had not acted now, we would have woken up one morning to find missiles in Tel Aviv, special delivery from Iran via the Philadelphi tunnels.
    The operation is not a reprisal raid but a defensive war meant to clip Hamas' wings before it surprises us with a Palestinian version of the Yom Kippur War.

World Must Not Condemn Israel's War on Hamas - Ari Shavit (Ha'aretz)
    The war on Hamas is a war for Israel's sovereignty. It was launched due to repeated rocket attacks after Israel's disengagement from Gaza.
    It is up to every decent person who wants Israel to strive for peace to support its fight for sovereignty.

Israel Destroys Nasrallah's "Spider Web Theory" - Guy Bechor (Ynet News)
    According to the "spider web theory" of Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, Israel is a weak and indulgent country that would not dare hit its enemies too hard.
    Today, Israel has proved to whomever needed this proof that Nasrallah's spider web no longer exists.
    The Israeli home front is not crying out in the wake of rocket attacks, but rather, shows impressive endurance.

Joe the Plumber Calls on Obama to Help Israel (AP)
    Joe the Plumber called on President-elect Barack Obama on Monday to help Israel in its campaign against Hamas.
    The plumber-turned-war correspondent, whose real name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, has been unabashed in his support of Israel's campaign against Hamas and has been touring Israeli towns hit by Palestinian rocket fire.

Israeli Film Named Best Foreign Language Film at Golden Globes (AFP)
    The Israeli movie "Waltz With Bashir" has been named best foreign language film at the Golden Globes awards of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush Calls for "Sustainable Cease-Fire"
    In his final news conference Monday, President Bush said: "We believe that the best way to ensure that there is a sustainable cease-fire is to work with Egypt to stop the smuggling of arms into the Gaza Strip that enables Hamas to continue to fire rockets. And so countries that supply weapons to Hamas have got to stop. And the international community needs to continue to pressure them to stop providing weapons." (White House)
  • Iran Gives Hamas Enthusiastic Support, but Discreetly, Just in Case - Michael Slackman
    While the fighting continues in Gaza and negotiations for a cease-fire take place in Egypt, officials in Iran are treading carefully because they, too, have a great deal at stake. Iran is trying to position itself as the regional superpower, while also trying to generate maximum leverage before expected talks with the incoming Obama administration. To achieve those goals, though, Iran needs Hamas to declare at least a moral victory in its war with Israel. Then, Israel and Washington's Arab allies would be weakened, and without Iran's having to get involved in battle.
        A Hamas defeat by Israel would deprive Iran not only of a valuable proxy force on the border with Israel but of a trump card to play with Washington, and it would further alienate it from the leadership of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Hamas, a pariah to Egypt and Jordan, has received money and training from Iran, while the group has provided Iran with a powerful surrogate to undermine American and Israeli interests in the region. (New York Times)
        See also Iran Holds Huge Stake in Gaza War - Meir Javedanfar (Pajamas Media)
        See also Iran's Hamas Patronage Almost Two Decades Old - Sami Moubayed (Gulf News-UAE)
  • UN Rights Council Hits Israel Over Gaza - Robert Evans
    The UN Human Rights Council, dominated by Muslim states and their allies, voted to condemn Israel on Monday for "grave violations" of human rights in Gaza. The non-binding resolution was opposed outright by Canada, while European countries, Japan and South Korea abstained. Canada complained that the text failed to recognize that Israel had acted to stop rocket attacks on its territory from Hamas-controlled Gaza. (Reuters)
        See also Israel: UN Rights Council a "Fairytale World"
    Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN in Geneva, told the Human Rights Council: "I would like to ask my Palestinian colleague - Have you learned anything from the history of 60 years of conflict?...Don't you realize, by now, that in the real world - not the fairytale world of this Council - there can be no meaningful consensus without Israel?"
        "This resolution...does not reflect the realities of the Gaza Strip, and does no service to the cause of peace or to the human suffering of Palestinians in Gaza....Sadly, such resolutions will only embolden Hamas, weaken the trust of the Israeli public in the United Nations and this Council, and strengthen even further in the minds of Palestinians the illusion that the UN and its resolutions are the solution to their suffering." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Israelis United on War - Ethan Bronner
    While tens of thousands have poured into the streets of world capitals demonstrating against the Israeli military operation in Gaza, antiwar rallies in Israel have struggled to draw 1,000 participants. The Peace Now organization has received many messages from supporters telling it to stay out of the streets on this one. As the editorial page of the Jerusalem Post put it on Monday, do Israelis really believe that everybody is wrong and they alone are right? The answer is yes.
        "Where was the world when our cities were rocketed for eight years and our soldier was kidnapped?," asked Yoel Esteron, editor of a daily business newspaper. Israel, which is sometimes a fractured, bickering society, has turned in the past couple of weeks into a paradigm of unity and mutual support. What looks to the world like a disproportionate war of choice is seen by many here as an obligatory war for existence. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Fire from Gaza Continues - Yanir Yanga
    Palestinians in Gaza fired four rockets into Israel on Tuesday morning. On Monday, Palestinians fired 19 rockets at Israel. (Ha'aretz)
        See also IDF Operations in Gaza Continue - Anshel Pfeffer
    IDF infantry, tanks, combat engineers, artillery, and intelligence units continued to operate against Hamas targets throughout Gaza. During the operations, IDF troops engaged approximately fifteen squads of armed gunmen. About 30 gunmen were killed early Tuesday, and four IDF soldiers were wounded. (Ha'aretz)
  • Gunmen Shoot Across Israel-Jordan Border
    Gunmen opened fire at an Israeli Border Police patrol along the Israel-Jordan border in southern Israel on Tuesday morning. There were no casualties. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Three IDF Soldiers Wounded by Palestinian Fire in West Bank
    Palestinian militants opened fire on an Israel Defense Forces patrol near the West Bank town of Kiryat Arba early Tuesday, wounding three soldiers. (Ha'aretz)
  • Miracles and Wonders - Abe Selig
    Walking through the rubble on the floor of Gabi Ben-Hamu's Beersheba home on Sunday, everyone was talking about miracles. The outside wall was pockmarked with holes from a Grad rocket strike as hundreds of ball bearings and pieces of metal sprayed through the air. Ben-Hamu recalled the moments just after hearing the siren, when he and his wife had rushed their three small daughters into the apartment's safe room, and within seconds, heard an earth-shattering boom. But by getting into the safe room and closing the door, a disaster had been prevented.
        Nearby, a Habad elementary school had been peppered with shrapnel from the same attack. A woman in the school's office said, "The rocket landed in the exact spot where the buses unload the students for school. If there had been class today, the rocket would have hit at the same time the buses would have been there."
        Since the beginning of the Gaza operation and amid the hundreds of rockets that have rained down on the country's southern cities and towns, an acknowledgment of miracles and wonders has been uttered countless times. A rocket hits a home dead-on, and no one is wounded. A rockets slams into a school, after classes had been cancelled the night before. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Olmert: We Will Continue as Long as It Takes - Roni Sofer
    During a visit to Ashkelon on Monday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said: "If after this whole effort we discover that rockets with increasing ranges are making their way into Gaza that can reach up to 80, and even 100, kilometers, how will we see ourselves? How will our neighbors see us?...We want to finish, but only if the two conditions that we are demanding are met - an end to the strengthening of Hamas and to rocket fire....The Israeli people...are no longer willing to sustain Kassam attacks."
        "We will continue for as much time as necessary in order to remove this threat." "I hear from the entire Israeli people: Keep going, keep moving on condition that you reach the achievements for which you went to battle."  (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Threat of the Human Shield Strategy Hamas Uses Extends Beyond Israel, Gaza - Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman
    What if Osama bin Laden and company were holed up in a bunker underneath a hospital in Afghanistan occupied by women and children deployed as shields? Would President Obama launch an immediate strike with cruise missiles or hesitate because of the hostages? Would such a move thwart future 9/11's and be viewed as the death knell of al-Qaeda? Or would there be a firestorm of international protest that the American response was a "disproportionate" violation of humanitarian international law and even a "war crime"? Does anybody remember the thousands of French civilians killed by the Allies during World War II's Normandy invasion?
        Human shields are the weapon of cowards who violate every principle of humanitarian international law. Use of human shields constitutes "perfidy" under Article 147 of the Geneva Convention. The international criminals who use human shields are "common enemies of humankind." Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Harold Brackman, a historian, is a consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center. (U.S. News)
  • Hamas' No-State Solution - Bret Stephens
    It isn't merely Israel's right to exist, or the Palestinian Authority's, that Hamas denies. It denies Palestine's as well. The Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is merely an affiliate, has never been keen on the concept of the nation-state. But in choosing Hamas and the fantasy of pan-Islamism over secular Palestinian alternatives, Palestinians are also choosing to abandon Palestine itself. Good luck to them with their corner of the caliphate. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Facing Reality in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - David Gelernter
    There was no such thing as "Palestinian nationalism" until modern Zionism created it out of whole cloth, by placing enormous value on a piece of land that used to seem as precious to its landlords as a rat-ridden empty lot in a burnt-out neighborhood in the middle of nowhere. The Jews gradually got possession of an arid stony wasteland - and they loved it. They turned it into a gleaming, thriving modern nation, not only a military but an intellectual powerhouse. And so it is only natural that the former owners' descendants want it back.
        Any competent psychologist will agree: When someone is mooning over a thing he can't have because it belongs to someone else, the responsible and humane course of treatment is not temporizing sweet-talk but a blunt lesson in the facts of life. "No, you cannot have my wife (girlfriend, husband, etc.), and we are not going to negotiate over it." There is no irreconcilable difference in the fight between Israel and the Palestinians. There is only greed and envy. The problem will be solved as soon as the world stops trying to solve it. (Weekly Standard)
  • The Fog of War: Root Causes and Resolution - Irwin Cotler
    The root cause of the current Gaza conflict is the unwillingness of Hamas - and its Iranian patron - to accept the legitimacy of Israel within any boundaries in the Middle East. Hamas calls publicly, in its charter as well as its contemporary declarations, for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews wherever they may be. Jews everywhere - not just in Israel - are referred to as inherently evil, as responsible for all the evils of the world, as defilers of Islam. This culture of hatred is where it all begins. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Video: Hamas in Their Own Voices (MEMRI)

    • In a Friday sermon that aired on Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV on April 11, 2008, Yunis Al-Astal, Hamas MP and cleric, told worshipers that Rome, "the capital of the Catholics, or the Crusader capital," would soon be conquered by Islam, just as Constantinople was. It then, he said, would become "an advance post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread through Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, and even Eastern Europe." (See transcript)
    • Ahmad Bahr, acting speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, from Hamas, delivered a sermon that aired on Sudan TV on April 13, 2007: "Oh Allah, vanquish the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, vanquish the Americans and their supporters. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them all, down to the very last one....Defeat the Jews and the Americans, and bring us victory over them." (See transcript)
    • Palestinian cleric Muhsen Abu 'Ita told Al-Aqsa TV on July 13, 2008: "The annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine. This will be followed by a greater blessing, Allah be praised, with the establishment of a Caliphate that will rule the land." (See transcript)

          See also Egyptian Government Daily: Hamas, Syria, Iran - The New Axis of Evil
      The editor of the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriyya, Muhammad 'Ali Ibrahim, who is also an Egyptian MP, wrote a series for the paper titled "Hamas, Damascus, Iran - The New Axis of Evil." Ibrahim stated that Iran and Syria had conspired to keep the Palestinian problem unresolved and to take advantage of it to promote their interests in the region. He argued that Hamas was a tyrannical religious movement which was pushing its people towards catastrophe by preferring Syria's and Iran's interests to those of the Palestinians. (MEMRI)

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