Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Bin Laden Urges Jihad Against Israel - Lee Keath (AP)
ICC Prosecutor: Court Has No Jurisdiction in Gaza (Reuters)
EU Halts Upgrade of Ties to Israel - Tobias Buck, Andrew England and Heba Saleh (Financial Times-UK)
Russian Aircraft Carrier Berths at Syrian Port (Defpro-Germany)
Saudi Jihadist Killed in Gaza Battle - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
Israel's Gaza Venture Hits Chord in Wounded India - Amity Shlaes (Bloomberg)
Pro-Gaza Demonstration in Ramallah Canceled for Lack of Protesters - Avi Issacharoff
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Asked about the Middle East stalemate, Barack Obama said in an interview broadcast Thursday: "We are gonna start on day one. Hillary Clinton, in her testimony during her confirmation hearing, expressed my views and the views of the administration that we can't delay.... We're gonna have to take a regional approach. We're gonna have to involve Syria in discussions. We're gonna have to engage Iran in ways that we have not before. We've gotta have a clear bottom line that Israel's security is paramount. But that also we have to create a two-state solution where people can live side by side in peace." (CBS News)
Though Hamas' rockets are fewer amid the Israeli military assault, every day rocket teams sneak to launching sites such as trucks, rooftops, school courtyards and mosques to fire short-range Kassam rockets and longer-range Grads smuggled from Iran, aimed at Israel with the aid of Google Earth. Sirens wail moments later in Israeli cities beyond the border, giving Israelis 30 seconds to take cover. Hamas rockets and their victims are the main reason Israel unleashed its offensive on Gaza in late December. Rocket and mortar strikes have dropped from a daily peak of more than 80 to about 20 a day. Yet Hamas retains hundreds of rockets in their arsenal, intelligence officials say. (Los Angeles Times)
The UN agency that administers a school in Gaza - where Hamas operatives firing mortars at Israelis led to the deaths of civilians by Israeli return fire last week - has admitted to employing terrorists to work at its Palestinian schools in the past, has no system in place to keep members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad off its payroll, and provides textbooks to children that contain hate speech and other incendiary information.
There is evidence that students educated in UNRWA schools are much more likely to become homicide bombers, said Jonathan Halevi, a former Israel Defense Forces intelligence officer who specializes in Palestinian terrorist organizations. Halevi has spent several years building an extensive database for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs of terrorist attacks by Hamas and other Islamic extremist groups. Halevi estimated that over 60% of homicide bombers were educated in UNRWA schools. (FOX News)
On Jan. 4, the Iranian website Khabaronline reported that Hojat-Ol-Eslam Mojtaba Zolnour, representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, warned: "In the event of the slightest aggression against Iran, every one of the U.S.'s 32 bases in the region is within range of Iranian missiles." On the fighting in Gaza, Zolnour said that Hamas understood the history of defeat of the enemy forces. "All Gaza residents, their homes, and the Hamas forces form a barricade." (MEMRI)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Hamas representatives to talks with Egypt announced an agreement in principle on Wednesday to an Egyptian cease-fire proposal. They also demanded several clarifications. The agreement includes the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, in the form of its renewed presence at the Rafah crossing with Egypt (as a condition for its reopening).
Gazans are angry at Hamas leaders for dragging the Strip into an unnecessary and poorly considered war. There's no doubt that when the war does end, Hamas will claim victory. But the destruction in Gaza will tell a different story. (Ha'aretz)
A memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Israel on security and intelligence cooperation aimed at countering the smuggling of arms into Gaza is being prepared. The agreement involves a U.S. guarantee to act more extensively to halt the smuggling of arms from Iran, through the Persian Gulf to Sudan and other countries, and finally to Hamas in Gaza.
At the same time, a top Israeli diplomatic source said he was told by a senior Egyptian official that "we understand the problem and promise that the matter of smuggling will end." The Egyptian added, "Now we have the legitimacy to fight it, in order to prevent continued IDF activity." (Ha'aretz)
Palestinians in Gaza fired 20 rockets at Israel Thursday, targeting Gadera, Ofakim and Sderot. On Wednesday Palestinians fired 16 rockets, targeting Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Beersheba. (Jerusalem Post/Ha'aretz)
A maximum of 25% of the Palestinians killed in Gaza since the beginning of the Israeli operation are innocent civilians, the head of the IDF's Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA), Col. Moshe Levi, said Wednesday. According to Palestinian medical officials, Israel has killed some 1,000 Palestinians and more than half of them are civilians. Levi said the CLA had compiled a list with the names of 900 Palestinians killed during the fighting. He said that 150 names were of women, children and elderly, and that the maximum number of civilians killed so far was 250.
Levi also dismissed claims that 43 Palestinians were killed in an IDF attack on a Hamas terror cell that was firing mortars at Israeli forces from within an UNRWA school in Jabalya. Levi said 21 Palestinians were killed in the attack, including a number of Hamas operatives. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
During this difficult war in the Gaza Strip, we stand with Israel. Prior to military action, Israel tried a number of other options to stop the rockets, all to no avail. Like most Americans, we identify strongly with Israel's ongoing, elusive quest to achieve peace and security in a dangerous part of the world. We recognize that by arming and training Hamas, Iran has made this latest Israel-Hamas war a key front in its effort to remake the region in its own radical image.
America would never sit still if terrorists were lobbing missiles across our border into Texas or Montana; and just as we assert our right to defend ourselves, Israel has every right to protect its own citizens. Support for Israel in her time of need, from both Democrats and Republicans, is not just the logical choice. It is both a strategic and moral imperative. Eric Cantor is House Republican Whip. Steny Hoyer is House Majority Leader. (Washington Times)
Israelis are being accused of suffering too few casualties in their confrontation with the Hamas terrorists. Until this conflict began, history books everywhere always expressed great satisfaction and a certain chauvinistic pride when a nation's army inflicted on the enemy a large number of casualties. Israel is the only country expected to behave differently and, in fact, it does; I know of no other nation that announces where and when it will drop its bombs, thus enabling civilians to evacuate the territory.
In turn, Israel has not the slightest interest in causing casualties. All it wants is to stop Hamas' attacks the only way it can: by eliminating the terrorists and destroying their arsenals. There's no other way to deal with them. The writer, a Cuban-born former professor, is one of the most widely-read columnists in the Spanish-language media. (Newsweek)
The Islamist extremist group Hamas, which came to power in 2006 through a democratic election, has since hijacked Gaza and established rocket factories in residential areas, in bunkers under mosques, schools and hospitals. Over the past three years, the Hamas jihadis and their affiliates have frequently targeted their Kassam rockets at residential areas in Israel. According to a clandestine survey by Bielefeld University (Germany) conducted in Syria and Egypt (2006), over 70% of the population in these countries want peace with Israel. They are "sick and tired," as many put it, of the belligerent discourse of the Islamists and the biased and instigatory propaganda of their national media, though they don't dare say that openly.
Khaled told me, "Our leaders and their affiliates suffer from some kind of personality disorder. They keep us busy with Israel to distract from their failure to establish democracy and remove poverty. They also support radical organizations like Hamas and Hizbullah as tools to keep that distraction alive." Fatima said, "Israel left South Lebanon and Gaza. Yet, for Hizbullah and Hamas this is not enough. What do these people want? They are making the life of their people and ours miserable. We feel hijacked by these murderers. We want peace."
In view of the fact that Kuwait and Lebanon allow relatively higher freedom of speech, columnists like Ahemd Al Sarraf, Ali Al Baghli, Hasssan El Essa, Fouad Al Hashem, and Khaleel Haidar in these countries have blasted Hamas and the Islamists for the calamity in Gaza. The writer is a professor of sociology and a specialist in Arab/Muslim culture, living in Germany. (National Post-Canada)
Most of the anti-Jewish violence and protests in Europe during the past two weeks come from immigrants. The mythical Arab Street now reaches deep into Paris, London, Berlin and Madrid. The rage against the Jews that is exploding in Europe has been carefully nurtured. The depth of anti-Semitic propaganda in Palestinian and other Muslim societies is one of the most underreported facts about the Middle East. It is this anti-Semitism that predisposes Muslims in Europe to attack Jews and fuels the Mideast conflict. The hatred predates Israel's creation. (Wall Street Journal)
Hamas Is a War Crimes "Case Study" - Haviv Rettig Gur (Jerusalem Post)
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