Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 28, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Leader Says Palestinians Should Seize More Soldiers - Avi Issacharof, Amos Harel, and Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
    "I believe the resistance (fighters) should not be content with taking one Israeli soldier as a prisoner," Osama Hamdan, Hamas' representative in Lebanon, who is close to Hamas' political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal, told Al-Manar television in Beirut.
    Mashaal's deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk, told AP in Damascus, "This soldier is a prisoner of war."

IDF Forces on Gaza Border Warned of Another Attack - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
    The IDF is dealing with new warnings of a threatened attack against an Israeli target in the area of the Sufa crossing, possibly an explosives tunnel, military officials said.
    In response, the IDF is replacing fixed posts with mobile patrols.

Hamas Operative Killed in Gaza Car Explosion - Yoav Appel (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamza Muhrab, 21, a member of Hamas' military wing, was killed when his car exploded Tuesday evening in northern Gaza, and at least two passersby were wounded, officials said.
    IDF officials denied any involvement in the blast, which may have been caused by a bomb detonating prematurely, or the result of rivalry between Hamas and Fatah.

Fatah-Hamas Armed Clashes Continue (Palestinian Center for Human Rights)
    Over the past week, clashes between armed groups and security forces have left 17 Palestinians injured. Five people were kidnapped and three vehicles were blown up.
    On Tuesday, an exchange of fire took place between members of the Preventive Security service and Hamas in Bani Suheila.
    Also Tuesday, unknown assailants detonated an explosive device in a vehicle belonging to the family of Col. Fayez El-Aydi, who works in the Force 17 apparatus. One of his sons works in Preventive Security.
    On Sunday, gunmen arrived at the house of Mahmoud Mohammad Abu Salah who works in the Naval Police and is a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (the armed wing of Fatah). They burned his car and fired shots at his house in Abasan, east of Khan Yunis.
    On Friday, masked gunmen kidnapped Ahmad Hussein Safi of Khan Yunis, a member of Preventive Security. Safi managed to escape his captors and called his colleagues, who came to his rescue. Both sides exchanged fire.
    On Thursday, three members of the National Security forces were injured in armed clashes with members of Islamic Jihad in Jenin in the West Bank.

Three Wanted for Sinai Bombings Killed in Egypt (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Egyptian security forces on Tuesday killed three people near El Arish, wanted for the bombings that killed 21 people in Dahab on April 24, said Gen. Adel Fawzi, chief detective of the North Sinai police.

Trump Tower Planned for Tel Aviv Skyline (Reuters)
    Real estate tycoon Donald Trump said on Sunday he will build a 70-story "Trump Tower" in Tel Aviv at a cost of about $300m, his first investment in Israel in what would be the largest building in the country.

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  • Israeli Troops Move into Gaza to Rescue Captured Soldier - Ian Fisher and Steven Erlanger
    Israel sent troops into southern Gaza and its planes attacked three bridges and a power station Wednesday in an effort to prevent militants from moving a wounded Israeli soldier they abducted Sunday, Israeli Army officials said. (New York Times)
        "Our aim is not to mete out punishment but rather to apply pressure so that the abducted soldier will be freed. We want to create a new equation - freeing the abducted soldier in return for lessening the pressure on the Palestinians," Israeli Prime Minister Olmert said. The idea is to carry out a gradually stepped-up campaign, sources said, so as to make the diplomatic pressure on Hamas more effective. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinian Militias Deploy in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon
    Palestinians in Gaza began preparing for an Israeli military operation by planting roadside bombs and car bombs along major routes. Gunmen took up positions on rooftops, while others were seen barricading themselves behind sandbags and concrete slabs. Spokesmen for Hamas and Fatah said they had deployed thousands of their men in the streets to repel any Israeli attack, vowing to turn the Gaza Strip into a "graveyard for the Israeli army."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Abbas Calls IDF Operation in Gaza a Crime Against Humanity - Avi Issacharoff
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel on Wednesday of carrying out "crimes against humanity" with its incursion into Gaza, in a statement released by his office. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas: No Recognition of Israel
    Fatah and Hamas have reached agreement on a document outlining a common political strategy. However, Hamas negotiators have denied reports that the deal meant the militants would implicitly recognize Israel. Palestinian minister Abdel Rahman Zeidan said the Hamas-Fatah document did not in any way recognize the State of Israel. "You will not find one word in the document clearly stating the recognition of Israel as a state. Nobody has agreed to this," he said.
        Hamas negotiators told the BBC they believe that a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza is a first step - not a final step. They believe that future generations of Palestinians will reclaim all their historic homeland. And that, in the end, there will be no room for what is now the Jewish State of Israel. (BBC News)
        See also Revised Palestinian Document Would Allow Attacks Inside Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon
    The original document called for "restricting" attacks on Israelis to the territories captured by Israel in 1967. The revised document, however, calls for "focusing" the attacks on these territories, implying that Palestinian groups could still carry out attacks inside Israel. Although the document calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem, it does not talk about a two-state solution or Israel's right to exist.
        Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied reports that the revised document recognizes Israel's right to exist. "We agreed to all the articles of the document without having to recognize Israel," he explained. "This is a major achievement for Hamas because the agreement also allows us to pursue the resistance against Israel." A senior official in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office characterized the document as a "non-starter." He said that the document is an internal Palestinian matter. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran Says Nuclear Talks Not Needed - Edmund Blair
    Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday, "Negotiating with America does not have any benefit for us and we do not need such negotiations." However, Washington said it did not view the comment as Iran's final word on proposals to defuse a nuclear standoff. "We will not negotiate with anybody on our certain right to reach and use nuclear technology. However, if they recognize this right for us, we are prepared to talk about international controls, supervision, and guarantees," Khamenei said. As part of a package of incentives backed by six world powers, including Russia and China, the U.S. had offered to join the EU's direct talks with Iran if Tehran first agreed to suspend uranium enrichment. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Frustration Builds Over Iranian Delay - Daniel Dombey
    The U.S. and EU are threatening to return to the UN Security Council over Iran's nuclear program, as frustration in Western capitals grows over Tehran's slow response to an international package of incentives aimed at halting sensitive nuclear work. (Financial Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Teen Kidnapped in West Bank
    Abu Abir, a spokesman for the Palestinian Resistance Committees, told Al-Jazeera TV Wednesday that his group was holding Eliyahu Asheri, 18, a resident of Itamar in the West Bank, who went missing on Sunday. He later presented Asheri's identification card at a press conference in Gaza. He said Asheri, a student at the Neveh Tzuf pre-military academy, would be "butchered in front of TV cameras" if the IDF operation in Gaza did not stop. According to Abu Abir, the PRC had formed a special unit consisting of several dozen gunmen to kidnap IDF soldiers and settlers in the West Bank. "We will continue our attacks on Israel until the leaders of Israel are brought to their knees," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also How Hamas "Outsources" Terror - Joel Himelfarb
    Don't be surprised if the PRC resurfaces at some point in the West Bank, where Hamas is working hard to establish a terrorist infrastructure replicating the much more potent one it has established in Gaza. In October, Israel arrested three PRC members traveling from Gaza through the Sinai and southern Israel into Jenin, where they intended to set up an infrastructure to manufacture rockets and other weapons. (Washington Times)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians launched four Kassam rockets at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip Wednesday morning, causing no damage. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Crisis for Hamas - Editorial
    For several months the Palestinian Hamas movement has resisted domestic and international pressure to choose between governing the West Bank and Gaza, as it was elected to do in January, and continuing military and terrorist attacks against Israel. Now its own armed wing has forced a decision. Its brazen attack on military positions inside Israel on Sunday, and its capture and continued detention of a wounded Israeli serviceman, appeared to offer only two likely outcomes. Either Hamas' more moderate civilian leaders will, along with Mahmoud Abbas, assert their authority and obtain the release of Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, or they will prompt Israel to launch military operations that could topple the government. If Hamas fails to embrace politics over violence now, it probably won't get another chance. (Washington Post)
  • Palestinians Do It Again - Miss a Peace Opportunity - Editorial
    The responsibility for this escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rests with the Palestinians who have yet again turned their backs on peace. Rather than take the withdrawal of Israel from Gaza as an opportunity to build a future for their children, they instead refused to relinquish their embrace of a culture of hate and death. Just last year, the Israelis uprooted Israeli communities in Gaza and left the strip. Opponents within Israel complained that it was opening the way for the creation of a terrorist state, that the Palestinians would engage in fantasies of how Hamas and other terrorists had sent the Israelis running. The optimists hoped the Palestinians would get serious about the business of self-governing.
        With their economy in shambles and the international community ready to help them with aid and advice to build a functioning society, the Palestinians showed where their priorities are. In new elections they chose Hamas to run their government, selecting a terrorist organization pledged to wage eternal war on Israel and Jews. Hamas in April appointed a terrorist with a history of firing rockets into Israel to head a "security force."
        The latest outrage was the kidnapping of a wounded Israeli soldier over the weekend. This attack was no spur of the moment affair, but was carried out through a tunnel out of Gaza that had taken months to dig. The fundamental requirement for any movement toward peace is for Abbas, the Palestinian Authority, and the Palestinians themselves to reject terrorism and disarm the terrorists. It's the one step they never seem to want to take. (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • An End to Ambiguity - Hillel Halkin
    If terror consists of randomly killing and maiming non-combatant civilians for the purpose of sowing fear and insecurity, Sunday's raid on an Israeli military post, carried out by the military wing of Hamas, was the antithesis: A well-planned and well-executed attack on a strictly military target that was chosen long in advance - an act of war. The Palestinian organizations have wanted to kill civilians rather than soldiers because this is precisely the message they have wished to deliver - namely, that their enemy is not specifically the Israeli "occupation," nor even the Israeli army, but the entire Jewish population of Israel.
        The Palestinian Authority now has a Hamas government - and however this government may twist or turn, and however it may have tried to disassociate itself from the hundreds of Kassam rockets shot from the Gaza Strip into Israel with its complicit knowledge in recent months, it cannot disassociate itself from the Hamas soldiers who raided the Israeli outpost on Sunday. Israel should therefore say to this government: "The charade is over....We are also declaring war on you. From now on we will treat you as any country treats another country it is at war with. We will close all our borders with you, cease providing you with all services, and consider any branch of your government, any of its members, and anyone on your side contributing to your military effort, legitimate war targets....And when you're ready to sue for peace-and-quiet, let us know." (New York Sun)
  • Observations:

    Stop Terror at Its Source - Michael Oren (Wall Street Journal)

    • By invading Gaza, Israel hopes to counter increasingly bold Palestinian attacks - such as the firing of some 1,000 Kassam rockets at Israeli border towns and the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Hamas earlier this week. The quandary Israel confronts today originated in the unilateral withdrawal of all Israeli settlers and soldiers from Gaza last August. Infiltrations and rocket strikes began almost the day after the Gaza disengagement. Several Kassam rockets struck Ashkelon, Israel's major industrial city in the south - and the Palestinians elected a Hamas government sworn to escalate the violence.
    • By demonstrating that disengagement impaired rather than enhanced Israeli security, Hamas has dissuaded many Israelis from supporting a similar withdrawal from the West Bank, from where Kassams could be launched at Tel Aviv and the Ben-Gurion Airport.
    • After a few days of heated battles and accusations of Israeli atrocities, the government will be compelled to extract its forces from Gaza, and the rockets will keep raining on Sderot. Posing as defenders of the land, Hamas will be made more, not less, popular by the Israeli attack. There is, however, one way to avert a public relations disaster for Israel, to limit casualties, and to restore Israel's deterrence power.
    • Israel must return to the targeted-killing policy that enabled Mr. Sharon to triumph over terrorist organizations. Israel must target those Palestinians who order others to fire rockets from within civilian areas but whose families are located safely away from the firing zones. No Hamas or Islamic Jihad leader should be immune from such reprisals - neither Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah nor Khaled Mashaal, who masterminds Hamas from Damascus.
    • Those responsible for causing injury and death to both Israelis and Palestinians must pay the ultimate price. Only then can quiet be restored to Israel's borders and progress toward either unilateral or negotiated solutions resumed.

      The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

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