Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 12, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel Readies for Hamas Offensive - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
    Israel is readying for a Hamas military offensive after Hamas deployed dozens of Kassam rockets in various locations in Gaza and plans to wage a daily campaign of attrition against Israeli communities.
    Hamas has decided to carry out major suicide attacks via the West Bank.
    The decision to launch the offensive was made by Khaled Meshal, the Damascus-based political leader of Hamas, and the Gaza-based heads of the organization's military wing earlier this month.
    PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas was informed of the decision and did not object to it.
    Hamas has hundreds of Kassam rockets that were manufactured during the ceasefire.

    See also Military Wing of Hamas Announces Reinitiating of Attacks in Israel (SITE Institute)

    See also Ahmadinejad to Hamas: Step Up Resistance (IRNA-Iran)
    During a meeting with Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar in Tehran on Sunday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged all Palestinians to prepare the ground for the liberation of Jerusalem.
    "You (Palestinians) should intensify your resistance as it is the key to winning the battle," he said.

U.S. Benefiting from Israeli Arrow Anti-Missile Technology - Nathan Guttman (Jerusalem Post)
    According to a report in Defense News, the U.S. and Israel have increased their cooperation in recent months in order to deal with the threat of an Iranian missile attack.
    The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has asked Congress for an extra $77 million for upgrading the Israeli Arrow anti-missile system and developing the Arrow Mark 4, which would have better interception capabilities than the existing Arrow systems.
    In a mid-May hearing at the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, the director of the MDA, said that the U.S. has benefited technologically from its work with Israel and has incorporated some of the Arrow technologies into the American missile interception program.
    The U.S. is now focusing its efforts on protecting itself from a possible Iranian long-range missile attack.

U.S. Judge Rules Alleged Hamas Operative Not Tortured by Israel (AFP/Channel News Asia-Singapore)
    U.S. Judge Amy St. Eve in Chicago has ruled that Muhammad Salah, a naturalized U.S. citizen accused of supporting Hamas terrorist operations, was not tortured by Israeli security forces following his 1993 arrest.
    The ruling allows U.S. prosecutors to use incriminating statements he made during his interrogation.
    In a 138-page ruling on a motion to suppress the statements, the judge determined that Salah's allegations of sleep deprivation and other forms of physical and psychological torture were not credible.
    St. Eve also ruled that two Israeli security forces interrogators were "forthright and truthful" when testifying that Salah was subjected to special treatment because he was a U.S. citizen.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Accused of Hiding Secret Nuclear Weapons Site - Con Coughlin
    Fresh evidence has emerged that Iran is working on a secret military project to develop nuclear weapons that has not been declared to UN inspectors, at a secret military base outside Teheran. The project is codenamed Zirzamin 27, and its purpose is to enable the Iranians to undertake uranium enrichment to military standard. The Zirzamin 27 operation is thought to be being supervised by Iran's Revolutionary Guards under the direction of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the head of Iran's Modern Defensive Readiness and Technology Center, a top-secret military research site. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Hamas Vows to Block Vote on Proposed State - Steven Erlanger
    Hamas announced its intent on Sunday to block a July 26 referendum called for by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader. Hamas, which now runs the Palestinian Authority, has accused Abbas of trying to undermine its authority with the referendum. Hamas said it would formally challenge the referendum on Monday in an emergency session of parliament, where it holds a majority. (New York Times)
  • U.S. House Jabs Saudi Arabia in Foreign Aid Bill - Vicki Allen
    The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday took a symbolic jab at Saudi Arabia, accusing the kingdom of fueling religious extremism and violence as it passed a foreign aid bill for the coming fiscal year. Decrying Saudi Arabia for teaching intolerance and financing terrorism, lawmakers voted 312-97 to cut the $420,000 the oil-rich kingdom receives to participate in U.S.-backed military and counter-terrorism training. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Was Israel Responsible for Gaza Beach Blast? - Hanan Greenberg
    Seven members of a Palestinian family were killed in an explosion on a Gaza beach on Friday that was blamed on Israel. Tragic pictures of a seven-year-old girl, orphaned by the blast, running around her dying father, were broadcast around the world. But by Sunday, accumulating proof is suggesting that the blast may not have been caused by an IDF shell. Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Sunday that the security establishment had completely excluded the possibility that the explosion was caused by an IDF air force or naval strike.
        Regarding, the possibility of Israeli artillery fire, Peretz said, "Out of six shells that were fired, the landing spot of one of them is unknown." However, he added, there are great disparities between the time at which the army recording firing shells and the time the beachfront explosion occurred. IDF investigations found that the shell that hit closest to the blast site landed a full 200 to 250 meters away, and therefore could not have caused the deadly explosion.
        Immediately after the explosion, Palestinian gunmen, among them Hamas members, arrived on the scene even before Palestinian security forces and were seen combing the area, strengthen the theory that its members may have planted mines or explosives at the site. (Ynet News)
        See also below Observations: Israel Blamed Unfairly - Again? - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
  • American Kidnapped by Palestinians in West Bank Released Unharmed - Yaakov Katz
    American-Jewish student Benjamin Bright-Fishbein, an exchange student at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was released unharmed Sunday after he was kidnapped by Palestinian gunmen while visiting Nablus on Saturday. Earlier, the kidnappers delivered a videotape to Reuters showing the 20-year-old student holding his Hebrew University ID and saying that he had been abducted. On tape he said his captors had threatened to kill him if Israel did not release Palestinian prisoners. In the end, after apparently realizing they were holding a U.S. citizen, the captors handed Bright-Fishbein over to the PA Preventive Security Service which then transferred him to the IDF. The kidnappers, the IDF said, were affiliated with the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Fire 25 Rockets at Israel, Critically Wound Israeli - Mijal Grinberg, Amos Harel, and Avi Issacharoff
    Palestinians in Gaza fired over twenty-five Kassam rockets at Israel on Sunday, wounding two Israelis in the Negev town of Sderot. Yonatan Engel, 60, a maintenance worker at the Sha'ar Hanegev elementary school, was critically injured. Another man was injured from shrapnel from a rocket which landed near the Sderot police station. Other rockets landed near a children's kindergarten, and near a public housing unit for poor immigrants. Another rocket landed in an industrial area in Ashkelon. Schools in Sderot, usually open on Sunday, were closed. (Ha'aretz)
        See also 52 Palestinian Rockets Have Hit Israeli Town of Sderot Since Friday - Mijal Grinber (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Gunmen Kill Arab Passenger in Car with Israeli License Plates - Amos Harel
    Terrorist gunfire at a vehicle north of Jerusalem on Sunday killed a Palestinian resident of eastern Jerusalem and wounded two others. The IDF believes the gunman mistook the victim for an Israeli citizen because the vehicle in which he was riding had Israeli license plates. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Hits Palestinian House in Gaza, Injures Four
    On Saturday, a rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed in a house in Tal El-Zatar in Jabalia. Four members of the household were injured, including three children - Hana Ali Asaleyya, 14; Mohammad As'ad Asaleyya, 7; and Eman Ali Asaleyya, 3. Extensive damage was caused to the house.
        Also Saturday, Emad Hasan Abu El-Enein, 20, of Shaboura, suffered from shrapnel injuries to the abdomen caused by the detonation of an explosive device in his house. Arafat Hussein Mansour, 22, from Kufr Qalil, southeast of Nablus, was killed by a bullet to the head when he mishandled his gun. On Friday, Mohammad Abdel Rahim Barakat, 23, of Rafah, was injured by a bullet to the right shoulder fired into the air during the funeral of Jamal Abu Samhadana.
        On Sunday, an explosion occurred in the house of Ammar Abed Rabbo Shehab, 27, in Jabalia, caused by an explosive device which killed Shehab instantly. (Palestinian Center for Human Rights)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • "Targeted Killing" of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - Alan Dershowitz
    The long overdue killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was brought about by a "targeted killing." This is the same technique that has been repeatedly condemned by the international community when Israel has employed it against terrorists who have murdered innocent Jews. When Israel targeted the two previous heads of Hamas, the British foreign secretary said: "targeted killings of this kind are unlawful and unjustified." Now Great Britain is applauding the targeted killing of a terrorist who endangered its soldiers and citizens. There is no real difference between Zarqawi and terrorist leaders from Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
        When the U.S. and British forces have engaged in targeted killings of terrorists, there have often been collateral deaths of non-terrorists. Collateral deaths are inevitable when terrorists hide among civilians and use them as shields. Both Israel and the U.S. make great efforts to reduce the number of collateral deaths and injuries but they do not always succeed. All decent people must insist on a single standard of judging tactics such as targeted killing. It is nothing short of bigotry to approve this tactic when used by the U.S. and Great Britain but to condemn it when it is used by Israel. (Yahoo News)
  • U.S. Must Rally the World to Win the War on Terror - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    Thousands of radical Muslim terrorists have been training for years, largely undisturbed. These individuals have absorbed totalitarian ideologies steeped in twisted versions of Islam. The Iranian drive to build a nuclear arsenal, al-Qaeda's bloody efforts to foment civil war in Iraq, and the Hamas victory in the Palestinian Authority all underscore the fact that this malignancy is spreading - rapidly.
        The civilized world has a common stake in containing this internationally connected jihadist offensive. As former Secretary of State George Shultz said: "If we put this in terms of World War II, we are now sometime around 1937." Let us coordinate the arrest and prosecution of sleeper cells, agree on how to prosecute terrorist supporters, and come together on making counterterrorism the highest priority for law enforcement. (New York Daily News)
  • Observations:

    Israel Blamed Unfairly - Again? - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

    • Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's foreign media advisor Ra'anan Gissin said Sunday that Friday's tragedy on the Gaza beach may indeed be similar to the shooting of Mohammed al-Dura in 2000. While the Palestinians originally pinned the blame on Israel, it has since turned out that al-Dura may have been killed by Palestinians.
    • Gissin said that Israel should immediately have raised doubts after Friday's incident about the Palestinian version of events that placed the blame squarely on Israel.
    • "We jumped to conclusions before the evidence, and we immediately assumed that it was probably an Israeli shell," Gissin said. "But we don't know that for a fact. The Palestinians moved in and destroyed all the evidence. People should be asking themselves, 'why?'"
    • "Now we have a classic case where there is no real evidence, and all we have is a picture of a crying girl on the beach," Gissin said. "Nobody knows how the people there were killed. If it was an Israeli shell, why didn't the Palestinians invite the press to see the remnants of the shell?"
    • Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev explained that the violence in Gaza is a result of Palestinian extremist groups continuing to launch rockets on Israel even though Israel pulled out of Gaza ten months ago.

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