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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 11, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Cities Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, and Ofakim Soon in Range of Palestinian Rockets - Itzik Saban (Ynet News)
    A senior officer in Israel's security establishment said Sunday that Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, and Ofakim will soon be within range of rockets fired by Palestinians in Gaza.
    The officer said terror groups are seeking to smuggle from Egypt Russian-made Grad missiles with a range of 22 km and to produce similar rockets in Gaza.

7/7 Bomber Linked to British Bombers in Israel (BBC News)
    London bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan, the man thought to be the 7 July bombings mastermind, reportedly knew suicide bombers Omar Sharif and Asif Hanif, who blew up an Israeli bar in April 2003, a BBC documentary says.

Iran Says Did Not Pay $50 Million to Palestinians Yet (Reuters)
    Iran said on Sunday it had yet to pay $50 million it had pledged to the PA and suggested the process for payment was still being discussed.

Fatah's Al-Aksa Brigades Announce Female Bomber Unit - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Um al-Abed, who claimed she was a spokeswoman for the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, announced Monday in Gaza City that the group had recruited 100 Palestinian women into a secret military unit to launch suicide attacks against Israel.

Nestle's Israel Activity Brings Arab Boycott Threat - Hadas Manor (Globes)
    The Arab League boycott office, based in Syria, last week threatened to boycott Swiss food giant Nestle, unless the company liquidated its activity in Israel.
    In response, Nestle said it had no intention of capitulating to the Arab boycott.

High School Students in Gaza Border Communities to Learn to Treat Rocket Attack Injuries - Meital Yasur-Beit Or (Ynet News)
    The Health and Education Ministries have drawn up a plan to teach first aid to high school students who live near the Gaza border to enable them to treat injuries caused by Kassam rockets and to perform resuscitation.
    The Health Ministry said that the course will also enable pupils to deal with shock caused by the rockets.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • New York Tunnel Plot Suspects Linked to Al-Qaeda - Spencer S. Hsu and Robin Wright
    Assem Hammoud, the Lebanese man arrested in an alleged plot to bomb New York transit tunnels under the Hudson River, had been recruited by al-Qaeda three years ago and members of his cell had been attempting to seek help from the organization for the attack, U.S. and Lebanese officials said Monday. Maj.-Gen. Ashraf Rifi, commander of Lebanon's Internal Security Forces, said Hammoud was recruited to al-Qaeda in 2003 by a Syrian who later took him twice to Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp, Ain al-Hilweh, for weapons training. (Washington Post)
  • Chechen Terrorist Who Plotted Beslan School Siege Dies in Blast - Kazbek Vakhayev
    Shamil Basayev, the ruthless Chechen rebel leader responsible for terror attacks that led to the deaths of more than 800 people, was killed Monday when a dynamite-laden truck in his convoy exploded. (AP/ABC News)
  • U.S. Drops Libya from List of Terrorist Countries - Matthew L. Wald
    The U.S. has quietly removed Libya from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, a step that was supposed to trigger a damage payment by the Libyans to the families of the 270 people killed in the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988. But the Libyans are holding off paying due to a disagreement over public acknowledgment of Libya's rehabilitation. (International Herald Tribune)
  • Rally at Syrian UN Mission Demands Return of Israeli Soldier - Leora Falk
    Hundreds of religious leaders, politicians, and youth gathered outside the Syrian Mission to the UN Monday to demand the safe return of Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas. "Syria supports Hamas and encouraged the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. We are here to say that Syria is not immune," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler. (New York Sun)
        See also "Free Gilad" Rallies in NY, DC, London - Gal Beckerman, Elana Brownstein, and Adinah Greene
    Rallies and communal meetings have been held in New York, Washington, London, Paris, Johannesburg, Santiago, Buenos Aires, and Sydney as part of a worldwide effort to pressure the Syrian government into aiding in the release of kidnapped Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit. (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Hits Palestinian House, Wounds Girl - Ali Waked
    A 10-year-old Palestinian girl was seriously injured by a rocket fired by Palestinian gunmen that hit her family home in Beit Lahiya, Palestinian sources in Gaza reported Monday. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Editor Criticizes PA Actions - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    On Friday, Nasser al-Lahem, editor-in-chief of the independent Palestinian news agency Maan, published an article criticizing the PA's handling of the Gaza kidnapping crisis. The very high number of casualties (most of them armed) and the suffering of the population in the northern Gaza Strip are cause for questions regarding the wisdom behind the latest adventure into which Hamas has led the PA. The position expressed by al-Lahem, a resident of Dehaishe near Bethlehem, appears to reflect the opinion of many Palestinians. The Palestinians are particularly pointing fingers at the Kassam rocket crews, blaming them for causing massive losses to the Palestinian militants.
        A source at the Palestinian security organizations said Saturday that every militant taking part in the fighting against Israel receives payment. "For launching Kassams, there is a price, just like for firing an anti-tank rocket," the source said. This money comes from Khaled Mashaal in Damascus. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas-Fatah Tensions Intensify - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Haitham Rai, one of the leaders of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in the Gaza Strip, was kidnapped over the weekend in Gaza City by some 30 masked gunmen, who took him to the local cemetery and sprayed him with bullets. Tensions between Hamas and Fatah intensified following PA Chairman Abbas' decision to appoint Tunis-based PLO official Farouk Kaddoumi as PA foreign minister. Hamas officials condemned Abbas' decision, since the Hamas cabinet already has a foreign minister, Mahmoud Zahar. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • No Surrender to Blackmail - Yoel Marcus
    There will be no surrender to blackmail; prisoners will not be released in return for freeing Cpl. Shalit; and the military action will not end until the Kassams stop. The fiercer the attacks on the rocket-launchers and their bosses in Gaza, the more the captured soldier has gone from being an asset to a liability for Hamas.
        Israel should not grant this murderous terror organization recognition and legitimacy, first, because it is impossible to trust an organization with so many branches, each doing whatever it likes. Second, we cannot negotiate with a prime minister who is not prepared to recognize Israel's existence. Third, we cannot strengthen Hamas at the expense of Abbas, the only reasonable partner we have, even if he is a weak one. And most importantly, Hamas cannot be allowed to claim any kind of strategic victory. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas vs. Israel - Danny Rubinstein
    Recent developments have left only two players in the Israeli-Palestinian arena: Israel and Hamas. There are no others. The most notable non-player is PA Chairman Abbas, who has nearly no ability to influence events - not in the case of the kidnapped Israeli soldier and not in the matter of Palestinian rocket fire. For now it does not appear that Hamas is willing to make concessions. Even if just a few Palestinian prisoners are released, Hamas will be able to interpret this as a major victory and Hamas will emerge from this round of the conflict empowered. (Ha'aretz)
  • North Korea's Missile Test and Israel - Reuven Pedatzur
    North Korea's ballistic missile test last week was bad news for Israel in the example it set for Iran's leaders. Ignoring threats and warnings not to try out the missiles, Kim Jong-Il has paved the way for other leaders wishing to arm themselves with weapons of mass destruction. He exposed those trying to block his nuclear program, headed by the U.S., as ineffectual and proved that whoever has nuclear weapons becomes immune to military attack. Policy makers in Jerusalem and Washington should be concerned that Iran will draw conclusions from last week's missile tests and accelerate its development of nuclear weapons. (Ha'aretz)
  • Jordan in the Wake of Zarqawi and the Hamas-Israel Clash - Samer Abu Libdeh
    The Jordanian government took special pride in its role in cornering Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Zarqawi, given his role in the trio of terrorist bombings in Amman last year, and the Jordanian political and media establishments have launched a broad campaign to discredit the Islamist agenda inside the kingdom. This was a major shift for the Jordanian regime, which has, for decades, given the Muslim Brotherhood a wide berth as a popular safety valve for opposition dissent. There is a notable shift toward raising the profile of security in the kingdom. Not only did Jordan hold one its largest ever military parades last month, but government spokesmen announced that Jordanian intelligence services have been empowered to operate beyond the country's borders to counter threats to Jordanian national security.
        A process of political reform has been stopped in its tracks. Most observers cite the fear of creating an electoral system that would dilute the disproportionate power of tribal elites and enhance the voting power of urban voters, often of Palestinian origin. Traditionalist political groupings - both secular and Islamist - are fighting anything that could shrink their advantages. The writer, a Jordanian scholar, is a Fulbright visiting research fellow at the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Observations:

    Alms and Arms - The Future of Hamas - Benny Morris (New Republic)

    • The world's Islamist movements are united in wishing the extirpation of all Western influence from the sacred Islamic lands, stretching from Pakistan to the Atlantic Ocean. For many Islamists, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine are merely Stage One.
    • The Islamists have read the West well, especially Western Europe, with its guilty conscience over a colonial past, its burgeoning Muslim populations, its thirst for oil, its distaste for war, and, yes, its anti-Semitism.
    • The Islamists laugh as the West beats itself over every dead Iraqi (the vast majority of the killings are committed by Muslims against fellow Muslims), over every impoverished Afghan or Palestinian child (impoverished because their societies and economies have failed to develop, largely for internal reasons), and over every human rights abuse to which some Muslims are subject in the West (which pale in comparison with those perpetrated every day in Sudan, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Iran, and Saudi Arabia).
    • Hamas' social and public (daawa) activities are not limited to indoctrination and propaganda, though these have been crucial in raising a generation of Palestinian suicide-murderers. As Matthew Levitt notes in Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad, hospitals, mosques, and kindergartens are employed to hide weapons and bombs; cars and houses are used to ferry and hide fugitives; funds for terrorism are laundered and channeled through charities and social organizations; and the workers employed in these organizations sometimes serve as terrorist recruiters.

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