Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 12, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Olmert: Hizballah Attack an "Act of War" by Lebanon - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared the attack on Israel's border Wednesday an "act of war" and not terror.
    Olmert called it an unprovoked assault by a sovereign nation and held Lebanon, where Hizballah has a minister in the government, fully responsible.

Jordan Worried about West Bank Rockets - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Jordan is very concerned that a significant Palestinian rocket infrastructure is being created in the northern West Bank by Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees with the help of key Fatah members, a senior Palestinian source said Tuesday.

Poll: Americans Justify Israel's Gaza Operation - Itzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
    As long as Palestinians don't release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and continue to launch rockets at Israeli population centers, Americans support IDF operations in Gaza, a new poll initiated by The Israel Project revealed.
    54% identified themselves as pro-Israel, while only 8% identified themselves as pro-Palestinian.
    In response to the question, "what should Israel do if Palestinians keep launching rockets on civilian population centers?" 61% said it behooves Israel to defend its citizens, even if this means taking military actions in Palestinian territory.

Report: Syria Still Has Military Positions Inside Lebanon (Naharnet-Lebanon)
    Syria still has military positions inside Lebanese territory one year after it pulled its troops out of the country, al Mustaqbal newspaper reported Tuesday.
    The Syrian army positions are in Rashaya province in an area 5 km deep and 30 km long near the town of Kfarkouk.
    Smuggling activities have started to flourish again through dozens of illegal border crossings.

Palestinian Clan Clashes in Gaza Kill Woman and Child, Injure Ten (Palestinian Center for Human Rights)
    A Palestinian woman and child were killed and seven others were injured in a clan clash in Nuseirat in Gaza on Sunday.
    Neighbors said the clash erupted over the distribution of inheritance between cousins.
    On Monday, three Palestinians were injured in a clan clash in Bani Suheila.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hizballah Kills Seven Israeli Soldiers, Captures Two in Northern Border Attack - Anthony Shadid, Scott Wilson and Debbi Wilgoren
    The militant Shiite Muslim group Hizballah said Wednesday that it had captured two Israeli soldiers along the Israel-Lebanon border, and Israeli officials said seven more soldiers were killed during military operations in response to the attack. Israeli tanks and troops entered Lebanon soon after the abduction to search for the missing soldiers. At least three soldiers were killed in a blast involving one of the tanks, Israeli officials said. Katyusha rockets were being fired from Lebanon into Israel and residents of northern border towns were urged to seek cover in underground bomb shelters. (Washington Post)
  • Terrorist Bombers Kill 183 in Bombay - Muneeza Naqvi
    At least eight powerful bombs detonated in commuter trains and stations Tuesday in Bombay, India's commercial capital, killing at least 183 people and wounding more than 660. Authorities have blamed previous terrorist strikes in Bombay on indigenous Muslim groups motivated by sectarian hatred. (Washington Post)
        See also Who's Behind the India Bombings? - Alex Perry
    In India's worst terrorist attack in more than a decade, suspicion has already fallen on Islamic terrorists - though not al-Qaeda. India is home to a Muslim insurgency in Kashmir. Security sources suspect a shadowy alliance of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) working with indigenous Indian Muslims from the banned Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). (TIME)
  • Palestinians Receive Emergency Aid in Gaza
    The EU has begun sending emergency fuel supplies to Gaza through an international mechanism set up to meet the basic needs of Palestinians. European Commission spokeswoman Fadia Nahhas said 300,000 liters of fuel had been delivered to eight Gaza hospitals to run electricity generators. (AFP/Yahoo)
        See also Israel: "No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza" - Amos Harel
    The Coordinator of Activities in the Territories, IDF Maj.-Gen. Yosef Mishlev, said Tuesday that the situation in the Gaza Strip was "difficult, but there is no hunger and there is no humanitarian crisis at this time." Mishlev specified the status of basic supplies in Gaza, noting that while there was a shortage of milk products and sugar, there were sufficient supplies of rice, flour, oil, and fuel.
        While there are currently several thousand Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza, Mishlev says that Israel has offered the Palestinians the option of opening the Kerem Shalom crossing instead of the Rafah crossing, which is currently closed. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas accepted the Israeli offer, but Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya rejected it. (Ha'aretz)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Most Wanted Terrorist Muhammad Deif Wounded in Gaza Airstrike - Yaakov Katz
    Muhammad Deif, commander of the Izz a-Din al-Qassem Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, who has been on Israel's most wanted list for a decade, was wounded Wednesday when the Israel air force struck a building in Gaza City that served as a meeting place for senior Hamas operatives planning attacks against Israeli targets. Palestinian sources acknowledged that Raed Saed, head of the Hamas military wing in Gaza City, and Ahmed Randur, one of those responsible for the abduction of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, were wounded. Seven people were killed and dozens more wounded when the two-story house belonging to Hamas activist Dr. Nabil al-Salmia collapsed. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fired at Ashkelon
    Palestinians in northern Gaza fired a Kassam rocket on Wednesday that landed near a strategic facility in Ashkelon. (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Two Kassam rockets fired at Israel from northern Gaza on Wednesday landed near Kibbutz Netiv Ha'asara. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Abbas Receives $50 Million from Arab League - Yuval Yoaz
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' office on Tuesday received $50 million from the Arab League, officials said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Who Controls Hamas - Haniya or Mashaal? - Stephen Farrell and Nicholas Blanford
    Israel alleges that Khaled Mashaal organizes Hamas military operations from Damascus, with support from Syria and Iran. "I think the outside leadership directed the Kerem Shalom operation [in which two IDF soldiers were killed and one was kidnapped]....It's common knowledge that [Hamas Prime Minister] Haniya was not involved, though it seems [Foreign Minister] Mahmoud Zahar was involved right from the beginning," an Israeli government analyst said. "The Hamas leadership inside (the Palestinian territories) was tending to get closer to Mahmoud Abbas. I suspect the outside leadership was afraid the Hamas government would leave the main road of Hamas and have its own independent policy." (Times-UK)
  • Gaza Abduction Highlights U.S.-Syria Tension - Donna Abu-Nasr
    The abduction of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants close to Syria is highlighting the strained relations between Washington and Damascus. John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, has called on President Bashar Assad to arrest Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal and close the militant group's office in Damascus. Alberto Fernandez, director for public diplomacy in the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, said, "We are very concerned about what we see as Syrian interference and negative activity in a variety of fields - its interference in Lebanon which continues until today, its support for Hamas which hurts the Palestinian people, and its continued interference in Iraq."  (AP/Washington Post)
  • Arab Blogs that Fight for Reform - Frida Ghitis
    In Arab blogs and web comment pages, some Arab advocates of political and social reform see recent events in the Palestinian territories as ammunition with which to criticize the dictatorial regimes they want to change in their own countries. "They [the Israelis] will turn the world upside down to get that soldier back," wrote "Sandmonkey," a 25-year-old Egyptian living in Cairo. "I kind of envy how much they care about their own." "Isis," at, wished that "our government had half the respect" for its citizens' lives "that the Israelis have for theirs."
        On the comments page of the satellite news channel Al-Arabiya, an article titled "Where is the Arab Brain?" and signed by "A Wise Muslim" beseeched Arab leaders to stop supporting terrorism and start helping their own people. "Continuing the war with Israel is an advantage for Arab rulers and not their people," the writer argues. After Israeli jets flew low over the home of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Fares wrote at, a Syrian reformer's blog, "Now even myself for the first time ever I applaud an Israeli action....(It is) time for Syrians to...stop supporting radicals and terrorists."  (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Observations:

    Understanding Palestinian Ideology and Strategy - Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post)

    • What many in the West think motivates Palestinians - getting a state, ending the occupation - are of no interest in their own right. Fatah and PLO strategy rests on the belief that defeat is staved off as long as you keep fighting. Their only true victory is to continue the struggle.
    • This is why the "cycle of violence" concept is useless. Palestinians don't attack Israel because Israel attacks them, but because that is their sole program.
    • Inflicting damage on Israel via rocket attacks serves no Palestinian strategic objective except to make people feel good about damaging Israel.
    • Celebrating martyrs simply means bragging about your own casualties.
    • Given the current Palestinian ideology and strategy, the conflict is unsolvable, and there is no way to stop the violence. Yet Palestinian tactics are unworkable and its military strategy is self-defeating. The Palestinians can harass Israel, but not much more.
    • In private (though virtually never in public), Palestinian intellectuals sound a lot like me.

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