Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 10, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda Raises Its Head in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    A leaflet distributed in Khan Yunis over the weekend by al-Qaeda's "Palestine branch" announced that the terrorist group has begun working towards uniting the Muslims under one Islamic state.
    The leaflet said the group's chief goal was to enforce Islamic law in the entire world, and is the latest indication of al-Qaeda's effort to establish itself in the Gaza Strip after the Israeli withdrawal from the area.
    According to Nizar, a resident of Gaza City, some areas in the southern Gaza Strip are already beginning to resemble Afghanistan when it was ruled by the Taliban.

    See also Bin Laden Has a Sinai Base - Itamar Eichner (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 10Oct05)
    The Head of Israeli Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Aharon Zeevi (Farkash), revealed that Osama bin Laden's organization has established a base in Sinai.
    According to him, Egypt knows about the terrorist base in its territory but is having a difficult time dismantling it.
    Zeevi told government ministers that al-Qaeda took over an entire area and surrounded it with land mines in order to keep out Egyptian security.
    He explained that the al-Qaeda members who penetrated Gaza through the Philadeliphi corridor may have come from this base.

Israel Campus Beat
- October 9, 2005

Point Counter-Point:
    Reflections on the Jewish New Year

Security Forces Warn Terrorists May Kidnap Israelis (Ha'aretz)
    Security forces have warned of a growing threat that Palestinian terrorists will attempt to kidnap Israeli civilians and troops to use as leverage in negotiations over prisoner release.
    The defense establishment was on high alert after it received 40 threats of terror attacks targeting towns throughout the country, Israel Radio said on Monday.
    Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Beersheva were particularly at risk, with threats also received for Afula and Hadera.

IDF Catches Two Palestinians Smuggling Weapons - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    Two 16-year-old Palestinians were caught at the Hawara checkpoint, south of Nablus, as they were attempting to smuggle three handguns, four bombs, and a large number of bullets into Israel.

Ten Arrested in Britain in Raids Against Groups Linked to al-Zarqawi - Daniel McGrory and Stewart Tendler (Times-UK)
    Islamic terrorist suspects arrested in a series of raids at the weekend are believed to be members of a group recruiting young Muslims in Britain to fight coalition troops in Iraq.
    Undercover officers have been investigating the group's finances, smuggling routes and reported links with known terror leaders such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
    Security sources claim that police have intercepted information hinting that further atrocities were being planned for London and other UK cities using cars packed with explosives.
    More than 50 UK-based extremists are estimated to have been killed in eight countries, which experts say is more than from the rest of the countries of western Europe put together.
    Undercover teams have also been monitoring some Islamic youth groups and radical preachers who are suspected of playing a key role in radicalizing young men to join jihadi groups in Kashmir, Chechnya, and Afghanistan, as well as Iraq.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Urges Egypt to Stem Flow of Weapons into Gaza
    Israel said Saturday Egypt was not doing enough to stop the flow of weapons into the Gaza Strip and urged Cairo to make a bigger effort. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said anti-tank rockets and shoulder-held missiles have reached Gaza through the Gaza-Egypt border since the Israeli pullout from the coastal territory last month. "The Egyptians didn't exactly succeed in stopping the transfer of weapons,'' Shalom told Israel Radio. "We hope very much that the Egyptians will do more. There is no doubt that the situation has improved, compared to the first days, but we still see a relatively free movement (of weapons),'' he said. (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • U.S. "Seeks New Syrian Leader" as Pressure Mounts - Guy Dinmore
    As it steps up pressure on Damascus, the U.S. is actively seeking an alternative who would take over from President Bashar al-Assad, according to sources close to the Bush administration. Washington has consulted its allies in an inter-agency search coordinated by Stephen Hadley, the president's national security adviser. The U.S. is also said to be considering military strikes on the Syrian border in response to its alleged support for Iraqi insurgents. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also U.S. Weighed Military Strikes in Syria
    The U.S. recently debated launching military strikes inside Syria against camps used by insurgents operating in neighboring Iraq, Newsweek reported. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice successfully opposed the idea at a meeting of senior American officials on Oct. 1. Rice reportedly argued that diplomatic isolation was a more effective approach, with a UN report pending that may blame Syria for the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri. (AFP/Newsweek)
        See also Plans: Next, War on Syria - Mark Hosenball
    Deep in the Pentagon, admirals and generals are updating plans for possible U.S. military action in Syria and Iran. (Newsweek)
        See also U.S. Diplomat Says Syria Not Heeding U.S. Calls
    U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch said on Sunday Washington was worried about Syrian interference in Iraq, Lebanon, and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and said Damascus did not seem to be heeding U.S. calls to keep out. (Reuters)
        See also Twilight for Assad? - Kevin Whitelaw and Thomas Omestad (U.S. News)
  • Three Israeli Arabs Plead Guilty in Bomb Plot - Steve Weizman
    Three Israeli Arabs pleaded guilty Sunday to planning to plant bombs on a commuter train track near Netanya and discussing bombing Tel Aviv's Azrieli Towers, the tallest buildings in Israel. In a Tel Aviv court, Mujahed Dukan, 19, Amin Ziyuti, 20, and Dubian Nusseirat, 27, admitted plotting during 2004, along with a group of Palestinians from the militant Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. The three men were arrested by Israeli security forces the day before they were due to take delivery of three bombs from militants in the West Bank city of Nablus. (AP/Newsday)
  • White House Denies Bush Said God Told Him to Invade Iraq and Create Palestinian State
    White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan responded to a question Thursday regarding a BBC broadcast quoting the Palestinian prime minister and foreign minister as saying that they were in a meeting with the President in June of '03, and the President said to them, "God told me, 'George go and end the tyranny in the Iraq'" and so forth.
        McClellan: "No, that's absurd. He's never made such comments."  (White House)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel to Allow Ammunition to PA - Amos Harel
    Israel has withdrawn its objection to providing the PA with ammunition. Sources said the IDF and Shin Bet now recommend allowing the PA to receive ammunition from Egypt. Reasons for the change include an intelligence evaluation that Palestinian defense forces were short of ammunition; that the PA's moves against Hamas would continue; and that the arms and ammunition smuggled to the terror organizations via the Philadelphi route tipped the balance against the PA. Security sources said Israel may give the Palestinians riot control gear, such as tear gas, but not arms that could be used against Israel, as has happened in the past. Sources close to Defense Minister Mofaz believe that the PA has not proved it is serious in fighting terror in the cities now under its control. (Ha'aretz)
  • Not Yet a Civil War - Danny Rubinstein
    There are increased signs that the general elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council set for the end of January will not be held on schedule. The election, previously scheduled for July 2005, had been postponed; the current council was elected nearly ten years ago. If the elections are held on schedule, Hamas has a good chance of emerging victorious.
        The PA evidently has a clear intention to escalate the struggle against Hamas. High-ranking officials are seeking to enforce law and order in Gaza. The whole world is demanding it. Moreover, Fatah is deeply concerned that Hamas will win the parliamentary elections. The easiest way to prevent the Hamas victory is to postpone the election. (Ha'aretz)
  • Pakistan Snubs Israeli Aid Offers - Herb Keinon
    Even though Pakistani President Pervez Musharaf called for international assistance to help deal with the massive earthquake that hit his country Saturday, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told the cabinet Sunday that Israel's offer of humanitarian aid to both Pakistan and India has as yet gone unanswered. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said that Israel has let Islamabad know of its willingness to help. Meanwhile, IsraAid - a coordinating body of Israeli and Jewish NGOs involved in relief work - has received funding from private donors to send aid to India, where more than 600 people are believed to have been killed by the earthquake. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • When Young Jews Major in Anti-Semitism - Dennis Prager
    Universities in America have become society's primary breeding ground for hatred of Israel. This hatred is often so intense that the college campus has become a haven for people who use anti-Zionism to mask their anti-Semitism. Moreover, anti-Zionism itself is a form of anti-Semitism, even if some Jews share it. Why? Because anti-Zionism is not simply criticism of Israel, which is as legitimate as criticism of any country. Anti-Zionism means that Israel as a Jewish state has no right to exist. And when a person argues that only one country in the world is unworthy of existence - and that happens to be the one Jewish country in the world - one is engaged in anti-Semitism, whether personally anti-Semitic or not. (Los Angeles Times )
  • The UN's Palestinian Refugee Problem - Arlene Kushner
    The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has helped over 25 million people successfully restart their lives. However, no durable solution has been found in the more than fifty years since Palestinian Arabs fled Israel in its 1948-1949 War of Independence. The UN mission to assist Palestinian refugees functions in a manner totally different from other UN refugee programs and has actually prolonged Palestinian suffering. Given these failings, and in light of the existence of an entirely separate and far more successful UN strategy for dealing with refugees under the aegis of UNHCR, a serious reconsideration of the value of UNRWA's continued existence seems in order. (Azure-Shalem Center)
  • Only Threat of Force Will Tame Tehran: Britain Must Stop Being Soft and Use Its Might to Stop Terror - Michael Rubin
    Tony Blair confirmed last week that bombs used to kill eight British soldiers in Iraq were a type used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and groups that it supports in Lebanon. London considers Tehran responsible for killing British troops in Iraq. In recent weeks death squads have kidnapped and murdered journalists, most famously Steven Vincent, an American freelance writer who had warned of Iranian infiltration of the police. Dozens of Iraqis have fallen victim to Iranian-backed militias.
        It did not have to be this way. The Iranian challenge in Iraq has long been apparent. In January 2004, Lebanese Hizballah opened offices across southern Iraq. In the center of Basra, Lebanese Hizballah flags flew from an annex to the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq headquarters. The writer, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, is the editor of the Middle East Quarterly. (Observer-UK)
  • Observations:

    The Murder of Musa Arafat and the Battle for the Spoils of Gaza - Pinhas Inbari and Dan Diker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Israeli assessments have pointed to both Fatah and Hamas as responsible for the murder of Gen. Musa Arafat - security advisor to PA Chairman Mahmud Abbas and former head of Military Intelligence and the National Security forces in Gaza - on September 7, 2005. However, ongoing Palestinian investigations have led some senior officials to assign responsibility to Mohammed Dahlan, the PA Minister of Civil Affairs and former head of PA Preventive Security in Gaza.
    • Dahlan's Preventive Security force established local racketeering networks that generated hundreds of thousands of dollars monthly in protection money and from suppliers of gasoline and cigarettes. Dahlan was also accused of receiving kickbacks for issuing licenses and for charging illegal fees for VIP border crossings into Israel.
    • Beginning in 1997, taxes collected at the Karni cargo crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip were transferred to a new account controlled personally by Dahlan. Documents captured by the IDF show how Dahlan's Preventive Security force was involved in joint investments in the Gaza construction business, from cement production and gravel import to resort development.
    • An unprecedented competition among local Gaza warlords and crime families has broken out over control of Gaza real estate, as well as for hundreds of millions of dollars in international financial investment and aid earmarked for infrastructure development. According to Palestinian assessments, the market price of Gaza land adjacent to the evacuated Jewish settlements has risen from approximately $52,000 dollars per acre just six months ago to $300,000 per acre near the Gaza coast.
    • At present, all international investment activities in Gaza are subject to the ultimate control of local warlords and terror groups. The current instability in Gaza and the West Bank makes it virtually impossible for foreign investment and, to a degree, foreign aid to be managed transparently and distributed properly. The security problems in Gaza do not emanate from the Hamas-Fatah rivalry alone, but also from an internal crisis within Fatah that pits one Palestinian security organization against another.

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