Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
November 21, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Bus Bombing in Tel Aviv Injures 21 (Ynet News)
    An explosion on a bus in Tel Aviv on Wednesday injured 21 people.
    See also Report: Fatah Claims Responsibility for Tel Aviv Bus Attack (Ynet News)

Hamas Kills Six Suspected Collaborators with Israel in Busy Gaza City Street (AP)
    Masked gunmen publicly shot dead six suspected collaborators with Israel in a large Gaza City intersection Tuesday, witnesses said.
    A large mob surrounded five of the bloodied corpses and some in the crowd stomped and spit on the bodies.
    A sixth corpse was tied to a motorcycle and dragged through the streets. Hamas claimed responsibility.
    Witnesses said a van stopped in the intersection and four masked men pushed the six men out of the vehicle.
    Salim Mahmoud, 18, said the gunmen ordered the six to lie face down in the street and then shot them dead.

Rockets Hold Up Aid for Gaza from Israel - Douglas Hamilton (Reuters)
    Hamas rockets forced the closure of the main Kerem Shalom crossing point for humanitarian aid from Israel to Gaza on Tuesday, holding up the transfer of more than 100 truckloads of food and medical supplies including anesthetics, Israeli officials said.
    A Palestinian liaison official said the crossing was closed after some mortar bombs landed.

Specter of Iran Looms Over Gaza Crisis - Gerald F. Seib (Wall Street Journal)
    Looming over the crisis in Gaza is another significant power: Iran.
    Iran, most analysts believe, provided the longer-range rockets that have given Hamas, for the first time, the ability to reach at least the outskirts of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
    Israeli officials don't rule out the possibility that Iran's leaders may have helped prompt Hamas to step up its firing of rockets into Israel in recent weeks as a way to distract and tie down Israeli forces on the country's western border to reduce the chances Israel would direct its military attention eastward, toward Iran's nuclear facilities.

Hamas Can Replenish Arsenal - If Egypt Lets It - Ulrike Putz (Der Spiegel-Germany)
    As long as fresh supplies of rockets keep coming through Egypt, the power of Hamas will be unbroken.
    There is no doubt that the military capabilities of Hamas have been severely curtailed. But the attacks haven't broken the organization's power.
    As long as the supply route Iran-Sudan-Egypt remains intact, the Islamists' arsenals will soon be replenished.

Video: The "Red Alert" Song - Teaching Israeli Children Not to Be Afraid of the Air Raid Sirens (YouTube)

    See also Video: Pro-Hamas Protesters in Jerusalem Run for Cover After Air Raid Siren (YouTube)

Palestinian Media on Gaza: Contrasting the PA and Hamas - David Pollock (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Analysis of Palestinian media over the past week of fighting in Gaza shows a vast difference between PA and Hamas coverage.
    In the West Bank, media controlled by the PA are emphasizing Palestinian suffering, but generally avoiding hate speech, calls to arms, or boasting about damage to Israel.
    In Gaza, by contrast, Hamas media are relentlessly inciting violence, indulging in venomous hate speech, and gloating about imaginary hits on Israeli civilian targets.

Useful Reference:

Hamas: Backgrounder - Jonathan Masters, (Council on Foreign Relations)
    Hamas: Background and Issues - Jim Zanotti (Congressional Research Service)
    Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Backgrounder - Holly Fletcher (Council on Foreign Relations)
    Foreign Terrorist Organizations, Country Report on Terrorism 2011 (U.S. State Department)

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Israel Campus Beat
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Clinton to Netanyahu: Palestinian Rocket Attacks Must End
    U.S. Secretary of State Clinton said before a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday: "President Obama asked me to come to Israel with a very clear message: America's commitment to Israel's security is rock solid and unwavering. That is why we believe it is essential to de-escalate the situation in Gaza. The rocket attacks from terrorist organizations inside Gaza on Israeli cities and towns must end and a broader calm restored. The goal must be a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike."
        Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "I want to thank President Obama, you, and the American Government and people for their strong support for Israel in this hour of need. I want to also thank you especially for your support of Iron Dome that's been saving lives, and we are in a battle to save lives."
        "We're...trying to resist and counter a terrorist barrage which is aimed directly at our civilians, and do so by minimizing civilian casualties, whereas the terrorist enemies of Israel are doing everything in their power to maximize the number of civilian casualties. Obviously, no country can tolerate a wanton attack on its civilians."
        "If there is a possibility of achieving a long-term solution to this problem through diplomatic means, we prefer that. But if not, I am sure you understand that Israel will have to take whatever action is necessary to defend its people. This is something that I don't have to explain to Americans. I know that President Obama, you, and the American people understand that perfectly well."  (U.S. State Department)
  • U.S. Blocks UN Security Council Statement that Fails to Condemn Hamas Rocket Attacks
    The U.S. blocked on Tuesday a UN Security Council statement condemning the escalating conflict in Gaza because it "failed to address the root cause" - missile attacks by Hamas, said Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the UN.
        "We made clear that we would measure any action by the Security Council based on whether it supported the ongoing diplomacy toward de-escalation of violence and a durable outcome that ends the rocket attacks on Israeli cities," Pelton said. "By failing to call for the immediate and permanent halt to rocket launches from Gaza into Israel, this press statement failed to contribute constructively to those goals."  (Reuters)
  • Hamas Rocket Arsenal Targeted by Israeli Air Strikes - Cosima Ungaro
    Israel's assault on Gaza's rocket arsenals is aimed at countering what it sees as a growing strategic threat posed by Iranian-supplied missiles smuggled in through Egypt. By Monday, Israel had carried out 1,350 air strikes against Gaza arms caches and other sites, but the rocket fire persisted. "The Palestinian capabilities, we can assume, have been damaged, but they remain intact as a cycle of fire has been maintained," said Uzi Rubin, an Israeli missile expert.
        The longest-range Palestinian rockets were Iranian-designed Fajr-5s, capable of reaching Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Israeli security sources said around 20 Fajr-5s had been destroyed on the ground.
        Correspondents report a relative absence of Israeli combat helicopters that could provide ground forces with close support - reflecting, possibly, Israel's fear of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles that have been smuggled into Gaza from Libya. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Soldier, Civilian Killed by Palestinian Mortars - Ilan Lior and Gili Cohen
    Pvt. Yosef Nachman Partok, 18, of Immanuel was killed on Tuesday by a mortar shell fired from Gaza while helping guard an Israeli community. Eliyan Salem el-Nabari, a Bedouin who was a Defense Ministry worker, was killed in a separate mortar attack. In two other incidents, 12 soldiers were wounded. Altogether some 30 Israelis were wounded by rockets fired from Gaza on Tuesday.
        About 100 rockets landed in Israel on Tuesday, 14 of them in populated areas. The Iron Dome system intercepted 51 rockets. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Wants Five Years of Quiet - Attila Somfalvi
    Asked about what Israelis should expect after a Gaza ceasefire, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday: "I estimate that we will get a lasting calm. We spoke with our colleagues around the world and explained that we want lasting quiet - not for a week, not for two weeks. After a week of suffering, (we want) at least five or six years of quiet, stability and security."  (Ynet News)
  • In Rishon Lezion and Ashkelon, Reinforced "Safe Rooms" Save Lives in Two Direct Rocket Strikes
    The IDF Home Front Command requires that a reinforced "safe room" be built into modern apartment buildings. In Rishon Lezion, apartment owner Amir, who lives on the top floor of a six-floor building, said, "we followed the instructions [and entered the safe room]. We heard the huge explosion. We knew the house had been hit. We came out; really, everything was destroyed. I calmed my wife, and we walked downstairs."
        The rocket - said to be carrying 90 kg. of explosives - penetrated through three floors of the building, causing immense damage, but no serious injuries, because all the residents were in their safe rooms. Rishon Lezion is Israel's fourth-largest city, just south of Tel Aviv and about 60 km. from Gaza.
        Yossi Vaknin, whose apartment in Ashkelon took a direct hit, said, "My family are a disciplined lot. My wife and my four children...were in the safe room where they were supposed to be, and they're all fine....They couldn't get the door open after the rocket strike." The fire department extricated them. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Hamas Left Israel No Choice But to Strike - Michael Oren
    Israelis have never abandoned the vision of peace. Still, we came to understand that the cause of the conflict with the Arabs was not borders or even refugees but the same hatred of Jewish statehood that drove them to invade us in 1948. We understood that our enemies required periodic reminders of the prohibitive price they would pay for murdering our families. We also understood that defending ourselves incurred economic, diplomatic and human costs, yet there was no practical or moral alternative. Our strategy is survival.
        Negotiations leading to peace can be realistic with an adversary who shares that goal. But Hamas, whose covenant calls for the slaughter of Jews worldwide, is striving not to join peace talks, but to prevent them. It rejects Israel's existence, refuses to eschew terror, and disavows all previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements - the terms established by the U.S. and the other members of the quartet of Middle East peacemakers. We hope some day to persuade the leaders of Hamas to make peace with us, but until then we must convince them of the exorbitant price of aggression. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the U.S. (New York Times)
  • How Obama Can Use Pressure to Bring Peace - Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman
    America must now demand more of President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt. In recognition of the billions of dollars America gives to a country now starved of tourism income, the Egyptian leader must be required to help the U.S. achieve its interests in the Middle East. President Obama should be prepared to threaten a sharp reduction in foreign aid, unless Morsi uses his Muslim Brotherhood credentials in a positive way. He should be compelled to talk some sense into Hamas, so that the rockets stop and civilians on both sides can enjoy quiet and safety - and not only for a few months.
        If Egypt truly wants to retain its role as the leading nation in the Arab world, Morsi will have to earn it. He has to honor his country's peace treaty with Israel and crack down on terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula. He also should act strongly to stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, including Iranian missiles.
        Working with Washington should be stressed as the only certain path to regional leadership for Egypt. The U.S. should insist that Morsi become the core of an active and creative coalition that promotes peace. (New York Times)
  • The Callousness of Hamas - Richard Cohen
    Of all the points of disagreement between Israel and Hamas, maybe the most profound is this one: Israel cares more about sparing innocent lives - including those of Palestinians - than does Hamas. Hamas has instigated yet another war where the chief loser will certainly be its own people.
        Many in the West embrace Hamas as the champions of a victimized Third World people. But Hamas is not the passive party in this struggle. It chose to make war by allowing more militant groups to use Gaza as a launching pad for rockets and firing off the occasional rocket itself. No nation is going to put up with this sort of terror.
        This war between Arabs and Jews, between Israelis and Palestinians, is well over 100 years old. But both sides are not equally right in all instances. Hamas sent rockets into Israel, not caring if they hit a chicken coop or a group of toddlers jumping in and out of a sprinkler. (Washington Post)

The Long-Term Implications of the Israel-Hamas Clash - Jonathan D. Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • The current clash between Israel and Hamas did not begin with rocket fire but with ramped-up terror activity on the Israel-Gaza border. Hamas' strategy has changed over the past two years. It believes the "Islamic Spring" has altered the balance of power between the Arab world and Israel.
  • Egypt is now Islamist and led by the Muslim Brotherhood movement, the parent-movement of Hamas. Egypt's new Islamist government regards Hamas as a strategic partner in the struggle against Israel. Indeed, it is through Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood regime that Hamas now enjoys the possibility of dialogue with the U.S. and Europe.
  • Liberating Palestine "from the river to the sea" is portrayed as a fully realistic goal for the present generation thanks to the Islamic Spring, which has redrawn the map of the Middle East. Conversely, Hamas views Israel as floundering in growing strategic distress as Turkey and Egypt become major, bitter enemies within the Arab world's new vision of its struggle.
  • Hamas views each round of armed conflict with Israel as a stage in a long-term war of attrition. Hamas leaders hope the increasingly severe and violent outbreaks will eventually erode Israel's resilience, while goading the masses toward the emergence of a united military front for the liberation of Palestine.
  • Despite the military blows it has suffered, Hamas is coming out stronger from this round of conflict with Israel. With its rocket fire on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Hamas enjoys wall-to-wall backing in the Arab world. The financial aid that will flow into Gaza will enable Hamas to rebuild and even further develop its military infrastructure for the next round.

    Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
    See also Will the Arab Spring Deliver for Hamas? - Fouad Ajami (Wall Street Journal)
  • "Egypt of today is entirely different from the Egypt of yesterday, and the Arabs of today are not the Arabs of yesterday." So said Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi after Friday prayers last week.
  • Morsi is involved in a delicate balancing act since his election in June, mindful of his indebtedness to the Hamas-allied Muslim Brotherhood that brought him to power and of his need not to alienate his foreign-aid benefactors in Washington.
  • Hamas has a fairly sympathetic government in Cairo today, but the group won't be given a veto over Egypt's choices. The Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood will hold on to the peace of Camp David.
  • The Palestinians ignore a fundamental truth about the Arab Awakenings at their peril. These rebellions were distinctly national affairs, emphasizing the primacy of home and its needs.
  • Hamas better not press its luck. Palestinian deliverance lies in realism, and in an accommodation with Israel. Six decades of futility ought to have driven home so self-evident a lesson.

    The writer is a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution.

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