Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 1, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Bombers Part of Hebron Cell - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    The two suicide bombers were members of the two most prominent clans in Hebron.
    Ahmed Kawasma owned an aluminum products store, while Nisim Jabri was a construction worker.
    Jabri's close relatives, well-known Fatah members, accused Hamas of brainwashing Jabri.
    The terror cell that dispatched the two is headed by Imad Kawasma, head of the military wing of Hamas, Iz a-Din al-Qassam, in Hebron.
    In October 2003, more than 100 members of the Kawasma family and others were arrested in an attempt to put a stop to the activities of the cell, which have resulted in the deaths of over 80 Israelis.
    Israel has an intelligence problem in the Hebron area. The little cells of the Islamic networks consist mostly of family relatives or acquaintances from the neighborhood, whose longtime loyalty is indisputable.

    See also Hebron's Hamas Strikes Again - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)

New Analysis of European Aid to Palestinians (
    The London-based Funding for Peace Coalition (FPC) has released a new report detailing the diversion of unprecedented sums of financial aid from the Palestinian people towards graft, terrorism, and incitement to hatred.
    The report substantiates the connection between European funding and ongoing Palestinian corruption and terrorism, detailing theft, nepotism, and embezzlement on the part of the PA, supported by incompetence and apathy on the part of European agencies.
    The salaries of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades murderers come directly from budgets provided by European government aid, even though the Brigades have been officially classified as terrorists by Europe.
    Full Report (48pp-pdf file)

Gaza Militants Threaten to Kill Palestinian FM (Reuters)
    A Palestinian militant group threatened on Tuesday to kill Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath for participating in a conference in Italy last week with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.
    The Jenin Martyrs Brigades said it decided to prevent the "traitor" Shaath from returning home to Gaza.
    "He will be sentenced to death if he enters. The decision cannot be rescinded," the group said in a statement. "We call upon his bodyguards to abandon his convoy in order to save their lives."

Useful Reference:

Major Palestinian Suicide Bombings Over the Past Four Years (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Bus Bombers Murder 16 Israelis in Beersheba
    Two Palestinian suicide bombers blew up two buses 100 yards apart in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba Tuesday, killing at least 16 people and wounding more than 100 others, many of them seriously. In Gaza, thousands of Hamas supporters celebrated in the streets. One of the bombers' widows said her husband's soul was "happy in heaven." At the scene, Doug Moke, 20, an American studying at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, said, "It's one thing to read about it in the newspaper, but it's another thing to see them actually scrape the body parts off the street." (New York Times)
        See also Beersheba Bus Bombing Photos (Washington Post)
  • Instinct Made Israeli Driver Race to Save Passengers
    Israeli driver Yaakov Cohen raced against time after he saw the bus ahead of his explode in a ball of flame and had a premonition his own vehicle would soon be next. "I drove about 10 meters and then opened the doors....I believe that between 10 to 15 people got off my bus. Suddenly I heard a huge explosion. I can't explain it but it was almost as if I knew it was going to happen," he said. There were still 20 to 30 people waiting to leave the bus when the bomb went off. Emergency workers said the buses had been packed with passengers on their way home from Beersheba's open-air market. (Reuters)
        See also "I Gave Up My Seat and Lived"
    Nissim Vaknin, 65, described how he escaped death: "I got on the bus near the post office and found one seat remaining. At the next stop, a woman asked if she could sit down. I gave my seat to her. I moved back toward the center of the bus. Around 300 meters later, the bus exploded....When I saw his body in pieces, I realized I had sat next to the bomber....Now I'm in terrible anguish. My life was spared because I gave up my seat for a woman who died." (Guardian-UK)
        See also Getting Away from the Kassam Rockets - Arieh O'Sullivan
    Miriam Mushkan, 40, came to Beersheba from her kibbutz along the Gaza border to shop and get away from the Kassam rocket threats. Suddenly the no. 7 bus behind her exploded. She gunned her car ahead and bus no. 12 blew up, splattering her windshield with blood, flesh, and body parts. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Amnesty: Suicide Attacks Against Civilians Are Crimes Against Humanity
    Amnesty International Wednesday condemned in the strongest terms the suicide attacks on two buses in Beersheba. "Palestinian armed groups must put an immediate end to suicide bombings and other attacks against civilians. Such deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians is a crime against humanity."  (Amnesty-UK)
  • Moscow Suicide Bombing Kills 9, Wounds 50
    A woman blew herself up outside a subway station in Moscow Tuesday, killing at least 9 other people and wounding more than 50, a week after bombs destroyed two passenger airliners over Russia. The bomb, packed with bolts or other bits of metal, exploded in a parking lot bustling with commuters and shoppers. (New York Times)
        See also Terrorists Hold Hundreds Hostage at Russian School
    Attackers carrying guns and wrapped in suicide-bomb belts seized a school in the Russian region of North Ossetia bordering Chechnya Wednesday and were holding hundreds of hostages, including some 200 children. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Chief of Staff: "Those Responsible for Terrorism Will Not Sleep Soundly"
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon told a Knesset committee on Wednesday: "We will take care of those who support terror...those in the Palestinian Authority, the Hizballah organization in Lebanon, in the terrorist command in Damascus, which operate with Syrian approval, and those who provide funding and weapons to terrorist organizations." "Everyone who is responsible for terrorism against us will not sleep soundly," he added. (Ha'aretz)
  • No Cease-Fire from Hamas - Ze'ev Schiff
    It was only a matter of time before Hamas found a way to penetrate Israel's defenses. No fence separates Hebron and the Negev. The only formula Israel has is continuing to foil suicide bombings on the basis of intelligence relating to specific incidents, by elimination of persons directly involved in suicide bombings, and stepping up construction of the separation barrier. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Attempts at Suicide Bombings Never Ceased - Aluf Benn
    Official sources say attempts at suicide bombings have not ceased for a moment, that the Palestinian motivation remained the same, and that during the false calm hundreds of similar incidents were prevented. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Celebrate Beersheba Attacks - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Women in Nablus ululated in joy as Arab satellite TV stations interrupted their normal programs to break the news of the bombings. Scores of gunmen opened fire into the air, shouting "Allahu Akbar!" or God is Great. The attacks in Beersheba took place as Arafat told a crowd of supporters: "We will march towards Jerusalem, we will sacrifice millions of martyrs." (Jerusalem Post)
  • German Foreign Minister: Isolation of Arafat Failed - Aluf Benn
    German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Monday during his discussions in Jerusalem that Israel failed in its policy of isolating Yasser Arafat. In his words: "I have no illusions about Arafat, but as long as he is responsible, you have to relate to him." (Ha'aretz-Hebrew, 31 Aug 04)
        See also Understanding Arafat Before His Attempted Rehabilitation - Jonathan D. Halevi (ICA/JCPA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • What is Said and What is Hinted At - Itamar Rabinovich
    Some people in the American political system - official bureaucracy, military industry, and media - look askance at the intimate relation shared by the U.S. and Israel, especially in the security sphere. These people have taken the trouble over the years to leak and blow out of proportion various issues.
        William Pfaff last week wrote in the International Herald Tribune, "Neocons have Iran in their sights," latching on to a quote from Norman Podhoretz, "the neo-conservative godfather," as he puts it, who said: "I am not advocating the invasion of Iran at this moment." Pfaff writes, "Israel has an interest in promoting, if not exaggerating, Iran's supposed strategic threat to the United States. Iran already threatens Israel's interest in remaining the unchallenged military power of the region." In other words, watch out for Podhoretz and his Jewish followers, who may soon drag the U.S. into an unnecessary military operation against Iran, just as they did with Iraq. The conceptual connection between this argument and affairs of the "Pentagon mole" type is clear and disturbing. The writer served as Israel's ambassador to the U.S. in 1993-1996. (Ha'aretz)
  • A Molehill Without a Mole - Jonathan Ariel
    Three days after bombastic headlines heralded the uncovering of a major Israeli mole in the Pentagon, the Jewish spy turns out to have been a devout Christian named Larry Franklin, and his James Bond-like activities are looking more and more like a simple matter of a person who seems to be a well-intentioned and decent guy possibly allowing his feelings to cloud his judgment. It looks as though this entire affair had much more to do with politics and agenda than genuine U.S. national security concerns.
        Whether Israel and American Jewry were the targets of malice or mere victims of spin is immaterial. The point is that muck was thrown at them. Whoever was behind this, we sincerely hope that the American public teaches them a lesson neither they nor history will forget in a hurry. (Maariv International)
  • ADL Seeks Investigation of "Malicious Leak" - Nathan Gutman and Shlomo Shamir
    The Anti-Defamation League has called on the Bush administration to immediately appoint a special counsel to investigate the leaks to the American media regarding suspicions of an alleged Israeli "mole" in the Pentagon. "There was a malicious and targeted leak that is more damaging than the actual allegations of Israeli spying - allegations that in all likelihood are baseless," Abraham Foxman, the national director of the ADL, told Ha'aretz.
        "The ADL will demand appointing a commission of inquiry to make every effort in identifying which official or officials are behind the leak," said Foxman. "Someone in the hierarchy is trying to ruin relations between Israel and the administration and between Israel and the Jewish community....We cannot accept a situation where the identity of the person or persons responsible for the leak remains anonymous and no one takes responsibility for this foolish act." He noted that all the allegations raised in the last few years of spying by Israel against the U.S. were revealed to be lies. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    An Israeli Spy in the Pentagon? Or the Latest "Neocon" Smear? - Editorial
    (Wall Street Journal, 1 Sep 04)

    • As of this writing, no charges have been brought against Lawrence Franklin, a mid-level Pentagon analyst suspected of passing to Israel classified documents on Iran via AIPAC.
    • Our sources tell us that Franklin may have disclosed something he shouldn't have to the press some time ago. This gave the FBI the opening to force his cooperation and search his home, where they found some documents that did not belong there.
    • Franklin wouldn't be the first government official to break the law by taking classified material home. Former CIA director John Deutch transferred thousands of pages of secret documents to his home computer, for which he was pardoned by Bill Clinton in his last hours in office.
    • The latest leaks say Franklin may be charged with mishandling classified documents, or not even charged at all. In either case, it's a far cry from CBS News's original report last Friday that "the FBI has a full-fledged espionage investigation under way and is about to - in FBI terminology - "roll up" someone agents believe has been spying not for an enemy, but for Israel from within the office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon."
    • The information Franklin is suspected of leaking has to do with the debate on Iran within the Bush Administration, specifically with the draft of a Presidential policy directive. It's hard to believe that the Israelis would need secret sources to illuminate this issue, given the close ties between the two countries.
    • The Iran question has also been widely aired in the press, including in an op-ed that Franklin wrote for the Wall Street Journal Europe in 2000.

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