Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 5, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Sharon: Iran is Running Arab Agents in Israel (AP/Ha'aretz)
    "Iran is undoubtedly a very dangerous country that operates among Israeli Arabs through the Islamic Movement," Prime Minister Sharon said Monday.
    "Although most Israeli Arabs want to live a quiet life, there is a minority that are mostly run through Iran."
    Last year, Israeli prosecutors charged leaders of the Islamic Movement, the largest political organization among Israeli Arabs, with funneling cash to Hamas and having contacts with an Iranian agent in Lebanon.
    A senior Israeli official said Iran was "continuing its efforts" to enlist Israeli Arabs in its cause.

Syrian Smuggling Cabal Backing Iraqi Guerrillas - Niles Lathem (New York Post)
    A secret Syrian and Iraqi smuggling network that made billions of dollars busting UN sanctions during Saddam Hussein's regime is now involved in organizing and financing violent anti-U.S. guerrillas in Iraq.
    According to U.S. intelligence officials and Syrian exiles, the network has morphed into a command and control structure to coordinate much of the terrorist campaign in Iraq.
    The shadowy structure, with bases of operation in Syria, is made up of Saddam's cousins, clansmen, and ex-aides who are actively supported by some family members of Syria's ruling elite and at least two powerful Syrian generals.
    At the head of this network is Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, Saddam's deputy military commander, who has a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head.

Planned Saudi-Egyptian Causeway across Red Sea Could Restrict Israeli Access to Eilat (Saudi Press Agency/IMRA)
    Egyptian Minister of Transport Essam Sharaf said Saudi Arabia and Egypt are planning to set up a causeway across the Red Sea linking the Saudi port of Diba with the Egyptian port of Sharm-al-Sheikh, at a cost of $3 billion.
    Israeli security analysts are concerned that the causeway could be used to restrict access to the Israeli port of Eilat since movement of vessels over a certain height will require coordination with those operating the causeway.
    In addition, the project could facilitate the movement of military equipment between Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

London Policeman Sentenced for Spying on Dissidents for Saudi Arabia (AP/Washington Post)
    A judge sentenced former London police officer Ghazi Kassim, 53, to 2 1/2 years in prison Monday for spying on Saudi dissidents and others in Britain in exchange for $25,000 from Ali Shamarani, a third secretary at the Saudi Embassy in London.
    Kassim illegally used police computers to obtain information and questioned people in their homes, saying he was part of a police investigation.
    The Saudi diplomat who provided the money fled the country last year, lawyers told the court.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Backs Israel's Gaza Offensive
    The Bush administration Monday backed Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for Palestinian rocket strikes against Israelis. Secretary of State Powell said, "The immediate problem right now is that Israeli built-up areas are being hit by rockets, and Mr. Sharon finds a need to respond to that....I think his offensive is for the purpose of removing the rockets and the places where the rockets are coming from, and the individuals who are doing it."  (Washington Times)
  • Israel Blunts Uprising's Impact - John Ward Anderson and Molly Moore
    After four years of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians, Israel has established dominance on the battlefield, sharply reduced loss of life among its soldiers and civilians, and advanced its own agenda for the West Bank and Gaza in the absence of negotiations to bring peace, according to officials and analysts from both sides.
        In a pivotal shift in the conflict, Israel has crippled the effectiveness of the Palestinian militants' primary strategic weapon - the suicide bomber - with frequent military operations in the Palestinian territories, targeted killing of dozens of militant leaders, improved intelligence, and construction of a massive barrier through and around the West Bank. According to the IDF, two out of three suicide bombers reached their targets in 2001. This year the ratio has fallen to one in nine. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF: UNRWA Rocket Evidence Inconclusive - Tovah Lazaroff
    The IDF on Tuesday decided to remove five videos it published on its website, which it claims show a Kassam rocket being thrown into an UNRWA ambulance in the Gaza Strip. The IDF announced that its initial claims are inconclusive and therefore it was decided to restudy the videotape, yet it stressed that UNRWA ambulances have been used in the past by Palestinian terrorists. On Monday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan agreed to investigate Israeli allegations that Palestinian terrorists are using its ambulances.
        Annan and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman met Monday. Earlier Gillerman wrote to Annan, "Israel has drawn attention to past occasions - including in recent months - in which Palestinian terrorists have abused the immunity of UN facilities and ambulances in order to launch attacks, move weapons, or transfer operatives, thereby endangering UN personnel and operations. This worrying pattern of activity is a matter of grave concern that threatens to seriously undermine the integrity of UN operations." Gillerman called UNRWA director-general Peter Hansen's comments regarding Hamas supporters on the UNRWA payroll "totally unacceptable."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israeli Army Rechecks UNRWA Ambulance Film, Analysts Adamant in their Assessment - Amos Harel
    On Sunday, Major General Israel Ziv, chief of operations at the General Staff, held a meeting to verify that Israel did not become mixed up in false accusations against UNRWA. Professionals from air force intelligence are adamant they have the expertise and the necessary equipment to properly identify the pictures. The experts insisted that the man in the picture was not carrying a stretcher but a rocket - perhaps not a Kassam but at least an anti-tank missile. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Terrorist Organizations Exploit UNRWA Vehicles (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies)
  • Air Strike Kills Gaza Terrorist
    An Israeli air strike Tuesday in Jabalya in northern Gaza killed one armed Palestinian terrorist and wounded two others. Palestinians said the attack was by Israeli pilotless drone aircraft, once used mainly for surveillance work. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Gaza Fighters Use Carpets to Hide from Spy Drones Palestinian fighters are hanging carpets and blankets above the alleyways in Jabalya to block the prying eyes of Israeli spy drones that buzz above the battleground to spy out gunmen and possibly to kill them. Others have set fire to tires to create a cloud of black smoke meant to provide cover for militants booby-trapping roads and firing Kassam rockets into Israel. Israeli security sources doubted the Palestinian measures would be effective at beating the drones' infra-red cameras. (Reuters)
  • Undercover Policeman Killed in Ramallah Arrest Raid - Margot Dudkevitch
    First Sergeant Ronen Ben Meiri, 31, a member of a special unit of the Border Police, was killed Monday in Ramallah during the arrest of a senior fugitive. The undercover Israeli force ambushed a car carrying three members of the elite Palestinian Force 17, Arafat's personal guard. The fugitive, Nadiv Sawahteh, was involved in many shooting attacks and is in close contact with other fugitives hiding out in Arafat's Ramallah headquarters, where they continue to plan and execute terror attacks, security officials said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • EU Delegation Visits Sderot - Matthew Gutman
    On Monday, just hours after another Kassam rocket slammed into Sderot, European Commission Charge d'Affairs Emmanuel Giaufret, First Secretary at the British Embassy Neil Vegan, and EU Presidency representative and Netherlands Ambassador Bob Hensch sat down across from the grieving parents of the Inanso-Geneto and Abebeh families, whose toddlers were killed in a Kassam attack last Wednesday. Asiris Abebeh handed Hensch a parcel wrapped in tissue paper. The little black nuggets inside looked like dates. The grieving mother explained that they were shrapnel from the rocket that killed her baby. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • What is the Matter with the Palestinians? - Yoel Marcus
    Why, every time the door opens a crack for some Israeli compromise or concession, do the Palestinians suddenly have this urge to maim and kill? Why, after the Oslo Accords, which Israel went through hell and high water to approve, did they unleash a campaign of bloody terror? Why did they launch another wave of terror at the split second that another opportunity arose for a settlement brokered by President Clinton at Camp David? Why is every senior American peacemaker sent here always greeted by a terror attack that sabotages the mission even before it begins?
        Why, when the patriarch of the settlements decides to disengage from Gaza, have the Palestinians gone on a rampage? Why are they attacking, ambushing, and wildly shooting Kassam rockets at Sderot? I say Palestinians, and not Hamas, because the PA has more power and say-so than we think. If the PA didn't want Sderot bombarded, it wouldn't be. Hamas and the PA can boast just as well about kicking us out of Gaza without starting a new cycle of bloodshed. With all due respect for the Palestinians' right to an independent state, there's a screw loose somewhere. Don't they see that no Israeli government, not even one headed by Peres or Sarid, would allow a town in Israel to be fired on day and night for the simple reason that it happens to be within the range of a Kassam? (Ha'aretz)
  • Unsung Victims: Kibbutz Nir'am - Larry Derfner
    A crowd has gathered, staring at the scorched Kassam sticking out of the dirt about 25 meters from Alon elementary school in Kibbutz Nir'am, a little closer to the Gaza Strip than Sderot. Since the Kassams started coming out of Gaza nearly two years ago, more than 100 have landed on Kibbutz Nir'am - almost as many as have fallen on Sderot.
        Inside the school, Tali Simchi, 41, tells the children, "We're trying to make peace with the Palestinians, but everywhere there are extremists, and now we're facing Hamas, who think God gave them the right to all of the land and that's their goal, to take it all, and that's why they fire those missiles at Nir'am. And our job, as people who live on the border, is - that's right - to live with it, to live with the fear, which is natural, and to talk about how we're afraid, and to keep believing that all this will pass." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    ...Or in Gaza Either - Editorial (Wall Street Journal Europe, 5 Oct 04)

    • Another important battle against terrorism is unfolding as Israeli troops fight Palestinians in Gaza to stop them from firing rockets into Israel. The offensive began after an attack killed two Israeli toddlers on Wednesday. In five days of fighting, more than 60 Palestinians, most of them believed to be terrorists, died as the Israelis carved out a security zone.
    • One of the things that sets this incursion apart from similar Israeli military campaigns in the past is Europe's rather muted reaction. While normally jumping on every opportunity to criticize the Jewish state for trying to protect its citizens, most European capitals have so far remained unusually silent. "The international response did not rise to the anticipated minimum level of expectations," Arafat adviser Saeb Erekat complained.
    • Many Europeans though still make an artificial distinction between Hamas and the global threat of Islamic terrorism. "It's the occupation, stupid," is the catch phrase of a worldview that pretends Hamas's quarrel is with Israel's size rather than its existence - even though Hamas has never concealed that its ultimate goal is to destroy Israel.
    • The decision by Prime Minister Sharon to withdraw all settlements from Gaza - unilaterally and without waiting for a Palestinian partner to emerge to sign a deal - was a further blow to the charade that Hamas's terror was in any way a legitimate resistance to end the occupation. If that were the case, Hamas would stop its attacks now, at least from Gaza.
    • Hamas's murderous ideology means the oft-repeated mantra that there is no "military solution" to this conflict is plain wrong. The opposite is true - just as al-Qaeda and its global networks must be defeated, only a military solution can end the Palestinian terror. And thanks to improved intelligence, targeted assassinations, and the security barrier, the Israelis are saying that it can be done.
    • Just as the Iraqi and American troops in Samarra and Fallujah must be allowed to fight until victory, so must Israel be allowed to finish off Hamas. Without these "military solutions" there is no hope for peace, neither in Iraq nor between Israelis and Palestinians.

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