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June 24, 2010

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Experts: Ofek 9 Will Detect Iranian Activity - Aviel Magnezi (Ynet News)
    After the launch of the new Ofek 9 spy satellite, the chairman of the Israel Space Agency, Isaac Ben-Israel, said Wednesday: "With Ofek 9, Israel now has about 6 satellites working in a joint system....One of them completes a round every 90 minutes."
    "A country will not be able to conduct any secret operations in the Middle East without the area being covered by one of our satellites, as there are no longer such moments. Iran won't be able to transfer different materials without us noticing," he explained.
    "Ofek 9 has a radar camera which can see beyond clouds," he added.
    "There are seven independent countries in space, and in terms of quality and technology only the United States comes before Israel," he said.
    Tal Inbar, head of the Space Research Center at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, said, "Ofek 9 was built in Israel and all of its components were made in Israel."
    See also Israel Used Three-Stage Rocket to Launch Spy Satellite - Barbara Opall-Rome (Space News)
    Israel successfully delivered its latest spy satellite into Earth orbit Tuesday using an improved version of its indigenous three-stage Shavit launcher, Israeli defense sources said.

Lebanon Flotilla Supported by Syria and Hizbullah (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    The two ships that are expected to set sail from Lebanon to Gaza were organized and purchased with the involvement and support of Syria and Hizbullah, hiding behind fictitious front organizations.
    See also Lebanon "Gaza" Ship Will Not Be Allowed in Cyprus - George Psyllides (Cyprus Mail)
    See also Lebanon Government May Cancel Flotillas (Jerusalem Post)

War Crimes Suit Against Israeli Leaders Filed in Belgium (UPI)
    An indictment was filed Wednesday in Belgium charging former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, defense minister Ehud Barak, and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni with war crimes involving the 2009 invasion of Gaza.
    Belgium has a law of universal jurisdiction that allows charges to be brought for actions anywhere in the world. In 2001 charges were brought in Belgium against former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.

Rome to Switch Off Colosseum Lights for Gilad Shalit - Ariela Piattelli (Jerusalem Post)
    The lights of the Colosseum in Rome will be turned off Thursday evening in solidarity with kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
    "This event is first and foremost an expression of our strong support for the State of Israel," said Riccardo Pacifici, the president of Rome's Jewish community.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Says It Has Enriched Uranium to 20 Percent Purity
    Iran has enriched 17 kg of uranium to 20% purity, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said on Wednesday, underscoring Tehran's determination to push ahead with its nuclear program despite new international sanctions. Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said that around 200 kg of 20% enriched uranium, if further enriched, would be required to make a nuclear bomb. (Reuters)
        See also Iran Preparing for U.S. Sanctions Targeting Fuel Imports - Thomas Erdbrink and Colum Lynch
    As Congress prepares to target Iran's vital fuel imports, observers say Tehran has been laying the groundwork to resist the U.S. sanctions. Iran has over the past four years reduced its dependence on foreign imports of refined oil products from about 40% of its domestic needs to just under 30%, according to analysts. The government is expanding its capacity to refine its own oil, experimenting with alternative fuels and cutting consumption by gradually eliminating subsidies on gasoline.
        In the past six months, thanks to an elaborate rationing system, domestic gasoline consumption has dropped by nearly 20%. At the same time, Iran has built up its strategic reserves by buying refined oil products from India, Turkmenistan and the Netherlands. (Washington Post)
  • Netanyahu Calls on Abbas to Start Direct Peace Talks - Gwen Ackerman and Nayla Razzouk
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Tuesday on PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to immediately start direct peace talks. Netanyahu said Israel had taken measures to advance peace, such as removing roadblocks in the West Bank and imposing a freeze on building in Jewish settlements. "Israel has taken other steps as well, while to its regret, the Palestinians still refuse to meet and even tried to prevent Israel's acceptance into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development," he said in a statement. (Bloomberg)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu to Human Rights Activists: Sail to Tehran, Not Gaza - Jonathan Lis
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday: "I call on all human rights activists in the world - go to Tehran, that's where there is a human rights violation." "These flotillas are organized by those who oppose peace, not those who support it. These people just want to break the security blockade."
        He went on to criticize the UN and other international institutions for targeting Israel alone for condemnation. "They are essentially saying that the Jewish nation does not have the right to defend itself against the most brutal attacks and it doesn't have the right to prevent additional weapons from entering territories from which it is attacked."  (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Chief: We Can't Let Gaza Become an Iranian Port
    Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said Tuesday, "We cannot allow Gaza to become an Iranian port." "This is no longer an issue facing the Israeli towns around Gaza. They could be bringing missiles capable of reaching other towns," he said.
        In regard to last month's raid on the Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara, Ashkenazi said that "following initial investigations, the fighters acted superbly under the circumstances. I salute them....It was an unusual situation and they reacted the way they should."  (AP-Ha'aretz)
        See also Defense Minister Barak: Gaza - An Iranian Military Base Next to Israel - Arnon Ben-Dror
    "For Israel, the Gaza Strip today is an Iranian military base three kilometers from the closest Israeli city, and 60 kilometers from Tel Aviv," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Socialist International Council at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Gaza Flotilla's Silver Lining - Zaki Shalom
    While recognizing the serious negative aspects of the flotilla incident, some dimensions from Israel's point of view are quite positive. First, the international community, led by the American administration, has granted almost full recognition to Israel's fundamental right to prevent the supply of weapons to Hamas in Gaza. A second positive result was in the U.S.-Israel relationship. During the course of UN discussions on the flotilla, the American administration made it clear it would not lend a hand to a sweeping assault on Israel's standing or its legitimate right to defend itself and investigate its own actions.
        Beyond this, the events have emphasized the "common destiny" shared by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which is greatly interested in preventing the strengthening of Hamas in Gaza. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • How Does Lebanon Treat the Palestinians? - Salman Masalha
    The Turkish flotilla to Gaza was in fact one big public relations exercise. Erdogan noticed that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was raking in the whole popular Arab jackpot called Palestine, and he also wanted to grab some of it. Another convoy, well-covered by the media, is setting sail, this time from Lebanon, of all places. All they want is spectacle, footage and headlines because the Israeli-Palestinian arena is the most photogenic in the world.
        If they had any genuine humanitarian concern, the Lebanese would stage protests against the harsh blockade that has been imposed on the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon for decades. As a European volunteer told the organizers of the new flotilla: "You love the Palestinians in Gaza and hate your own Palestinians."  (Ha'aretz)
  • The PR School of Foreign Affairs - David Warren
    The flotilla was sent, nominally to test Israel's Gaza blockade, really to give Israel a huge black eye, courtesy Turkey's Islamist-leaning ruling party. There was no good response. Once you have psychopaths like the ones aboard the Mavi Marmara prepared, nay, hoping to become "martyrs" in the cause of hurting Israel - there is no "nice" way to see them off. Compare, if you will, the PR operation of Turkey's new ally, Hamas. The organization's propaganda states unambiguously that it exists to remove Israel from the face of the earth, by every means within its power. Meanwhile, it will control the lives of the Palestinians in its custody, executing any who get out of line. And the world queues to supply them with food and clothing and construction materials, thus freeing their budget for the acquisition of more weaponry. (Ottawa Citizen-Canada)
  • Who Will Keep the Peace? The Role of Peacekeeping in a Future Israeli-Palestinian Peace Accord - Justus Reid Weiner, Avinoam Sharon and Michelle Morrison
    The conventional wisdom is that the success of a future peace agreement between Israel and an envisaged Palestinian state would require the support of an international peacekeeping mission. Yet bilateral peacekeeping has shown itself to be effective along the Israeli-Jordanian border, and bilateral security cooperation with multinational oversight has succeeded along the Israeli-Egyptian border. It may well be that primarily bilateral security arrangements, rather than an international peacekeeping mission, presents the best course. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Peres Defends Israel's Policies as Vital to Security - Edmund Sanders (Los Angeles Times)

    Israeli President Shimon Peres said Tuesday:

    • "I've seen reports about the situation in Gaza and the narrative was extremely negative. But when you looked at the people, they dressed properly. The markets were full. It was a contradiction. It's not by accident that there was not a humanitarian crisis. We felt responsible. But Hamas is the one who destroyed everything. That is being forgotten."
    • "We'd hoped that once out of there [after Israel's 2005 unilateral disengagement from Gaza], we would be out. But once we left Gaza, we couldn't understand why they were bombing us. We were seriously surprised by the reaction. I still don't understand. If the rulers of Gaza would demilitarize and de-terrorize Gaza, there would not be a problem."
    • "We agreed to a two-state solution. We agreed to ease the situation in the West Bank. We are easing the situation in Gaza. And there are still acts of terror. Countries that have to fight terror understand what we are doing. Countries that read about it don't understand. It's very hard for a person in Switzerland to understand. But the United States, they understand. We have a biography that no one else has. In 62 years, we've been attacked seven times in an attempt to [destroy] us."
    • Q: Some Palestinians have called Gaza one big concentration camp.
      Peres: "How? We left Gaza and didn't leave any guards behind. Have you heard of a concentration camp that fires thousands of rockets at us?"

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