Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 13, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Hizballah Threatens to Attack Haifa (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
    Hizballah threatened Thursday to attack the major Israeli port city of Haifa with rockets if Israel strikes the Lebanese capital Beirut.
    Earlier, the Israeli army warned residents to evacuate a southern Beirut neighborhood where Hizballah leader Nasrallah lives, and where the organization's headquarters and weapons stockpiles are located.

Top Hamas Military Commander Badly Hurt in Israeli Bombing - Thomas Wagner and Sarah El Deeb (AP/Forbes)
    Muhammad Deif, commander of the military wing of Hamas, was badly wounded and underwent four hours of spinal surgery Wednesday after being wounded in an Israeli airstrike.
    Deif, responsible for suicide bombings in Israel, could end up paralyzed, Palestinian security officials said.
    Hamas militants took over the intensive care unit at Gaza's Shifa Hospital on Wednesday. Black-uniformed Hamas gunmen stood guard, permitting only a team of doctors and top Hamas officials such as Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar to pass.

Hamas Foreign Minister Knew of Attack on Israel - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas hardliner, knew in advance of the attack on an Israeli position last month in which Cpl. Gilad Shalit was kidnapped.
    Zahar "is part of a leadership that is involved in a very tangible way in terrorism and in violence," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev.
    "He had knowledge of the recent hostage taking, and he is part of a leadership that has orchestrated...countless missile attacks against Israeli urban areas."
    The Israel Air Force bombed the PA Foreign Ministry in Gaza City early Thursday.

Iran Arms Hizballah with Rockets - Michael Eisenstadt and Neri Zilber (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Iran has transferred massive numbers of rockets to Hizballah. According to Israeli intelligence estimates, Hizballah now has 13,000 artillery rockets.
    Most are short-range Iranian-made Katyusha-types, but Hizballah also has several hundred longer-ranged Iranian Fajr-3s and 5s and Syrian 240mm systems capable of reaching Haifa, and it may have a new Iranian system capable of reaching the Tel Aviv region.
    See also Israel Braces for Long-Range Rocket Fire - Ronny Sofer (Ynet News)

Palestinians Welcome Hizballah Attack - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Both Fatah and Hamas officials hailed Wednesday's attack as "heroic" and urged Hizballah not to release the soldiers unless Israel agreed to free all Palestinian prisoners.
    In Gaza City, gunmen fired in the air as an expression of joy and called on Hizballah and Hamas to kidnap more soldiers.
    The Hamas government said in a statement that the Hizballah attack was a "natural response to Israeli crimes against our people in the Palestinian territories....We call upon all the Arabs and Muslims to rise in defense of the Palestinian people."
    Ahmed Abdel Rahman, a senior Fatah leader and close advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, called the recent Hizballah and Hamas attacks on Israel "legitimate acts of self-defense."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Blockades Lebanon in Response to Attack on Northern Border
    Responding to Hizballah's attack across the Israeli border Wednesday in which eight Israeli soldiers were killed and two were captured, Israel on Thursday announced a blockade of Lebanon. "Israeli naval vessels have enforced a full naval closure on Lebanon because Lebanon's ports are used to transfer both terrorists and weapons to the terror organizations operating in Lebanon," an Israeli military spokesman said. (Reuters)
        See also Israel Strikes Beirut Airport
    Israeli aircraft bombed Beirut International Airport Thursday, rendering all three of the airport's runways unusable. The Israel Defense Forces said it targeted the airport because it served as a central hub for the transfer of weapons and supplies to Hizballah. Israel is targeting areas that Hizballah uses for storing rockets and weapons. (CNN)
  • Israel Faces Regional Challenge - Steven Erlanger
    For Israel the problem is regional, not local - of Hamas, as a part of the regional Muslim Brotherhood, and of Iran, a serious regional power with considerable influence on Syria, Hizballah, Islamic Jihad, and the military wing of Hamas. An Arab intelligence officer working in a country neighboring Israel said it appeared that Iran - through Hizballah - had given support to Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal to stage the seizure of Cpl. Shalit. Israeli intelligence officers also believe Iran is acting through Hizballah and Mashaal.
        Former Israeli ambassador to Washington Itamar Rabinovich sees Iran "on a roll, looking for regional hegemony." Even without nuclear weapons, Iran is acquiring considerable influence in Lebanon, in Syria, and with the Palestinians, not to speak of Iraq. "It can directly operate Hizballah in southern Lebanon through Syria, and with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the territories it can detonate the situation whenever it wants." Gerald M. Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University noted, "Israel is in a long-term operation to reassert security control." (New York Times)
        See also Iran, Syria Use Lebanese Hizballah Militia - Dalal Saoud and Claude Salhani (UPI)
  • Bush Backs Israel, Criticizes Hizballah - Tom Raum
    President Bush pledged Thursday to work with Israel, criticizing Hizballah for thwarting efforts for peace in the Middle East, and said that Israel has a right to defend itself in light of the kidnapping of its soldiers. (AP/ABC News)
        See also U.S. Condemns Hizballah Attack on Israel
    "Hizballah terrorists operating from Lebanon kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and launched rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel. The United States condemns in the strongest terms this unprovoked act of terrorism, which was timed to exacerbate already high tensions in the region and sow further violence. We also hold Syria and Iran, which have provided long-standing support for Hizballah, responsible for the violence. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of the Israeli soldiers."
        "Hizballah's terrorist operations threaten Lebanon's security and are an affront to the sovereignty of the Lebanese government. Hizballah's actions are not in the interest of the Lebanese people, whose welfare should not be held hostage to the interests of the Syrian and Iranian regimes. We reiterate the international community's insistence that all parties in the region fulfill their obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1680, and cease all support for Hizballah." (White House)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hizballah Rocket Barrage Kills Israeli Woman, Wounds 29 - Yaakov Katz
    One woman was killed and 29 were wounded when Hizballah-fired Katyusha rockets landed in the northern Israeli city of Nahariya on Thursday. Katyushas also fell on Kibbutz Kfar Hanasi, Kibbutz Mahanayim, Rosh Pina, Kibbutz Hagoshrim, Mishmar Hayarden, Gadot, Beit Hillel, Kibbutz Kabri, Mount Hermon, Mount Meron, Shlomi, and Zar'it. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hizballah Rockets Hit Safed, Several Wounded - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hizballah Rocket Hits Israeli Arab Village, Several Wounded (Ha'aretz)
  • Northern Israeli Communities Ordered into Shelters - Hagai Einav
    Following the escalation on the northern border, residents of northern Israeli communities including Kiryat Shmona, Nahariya, and Kfar Vradim were ordered Wednesday to go into shelters and security rooms. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Submits Complaint to UN - Gideon Alon and Aluf Benn
    Israel has filed a complaint with the UN Security Council and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, saying that the kidnapping of two IDF soldiers was an act of war against Israel by Lebanon, Ambassador Dan Gillerman said Wednesday. The complaint urges the international community to enforce council resolutions calling on the Lebanese government to disarm all militias within its borders and to extend its authority to southern Lebanon and its border with Israel.
        While the government of Lebanon was the responsible party to be dealt with, "one cannot disregard the bloodstained fingerprints and the twisted minds of Iran and Syria, who are the main perpetrators, harborers, financiers and initiators of terror in this world," Gillerman added. "This axis of terror must be stopped." Iran, Syria, and Hizballah were threatening "the whole region and the world," including moderate Arab states, he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel Must Not Allow Hizballah to Return to Its Border Positions - Ze'ev Schiff
    Israel has no choice but to hold Lebanon responsible for what happens on its borders and for what comes out of it. The Lebanese government must see itself as responsible for what Hizballah does out of Lebanon, particularly since Lebanon essentially rejected UN Resolution 1559, which called for disarming the militia. Hamas and Hizballah set the rules of the game with the ongoing rocket fire into Israel and the abduction of Israeli soldiers. If Israel loses in handling this, its strategic and military standing in the region will change and its deterrence of guerrilla warfare and high-trajectory weapons will be undermined. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel's Next War Has Begun - Yossi Klein Halevi
    The next Middle East war - Israel against genocidal Islamism - has begun. The first stage of the war started two weeks ago in response to the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier and the ongoing shelling of Israeli towns and kibbutzim from Gaza; now, with Hizballah's latest attack, the war has spread to southern Lebanon. The goals of the war should be the destruction of the Hamas regime and the dismantling of the Hizballah infrastructure in southern Lebanon. Israel cannot coexist with Iranian proxies pressing in on its borders. Allowing Hamas to remain in power - and to run the Palestinian educational system - will mean the end of hopes for Arab-Israeli reconciliation not only in this generation but in the next one too. (New Republic)
  • The Nation of Hizballah - Megan K. Stack and Rania Abouzeid
    As Lebanon's largest political party and most potent armed force, Hizballah has long been described as a "state within a state" - a Shiite Muslim mini-government boasting close ties to Iran and Syria. But Wednesday's move across the border to capture two Israeli soldiers went a step further: Hizballah acted as the state itself, threatening to drag Lebanon into a war.
        Hizballah had long planned the cross-border raid aimed at capturing Israeli soldiers after failing in a similar operation late last year. "It's a very dangerous escalation," said Timur Goksel, a former UN spokesman who teaches at the American University of Beirut. "You can't anymore claim it's an act of resistance. It's an act of war." "I never thought Hizballah would disregard so much the Lebanese politics and mood," said Goksel. "It is certainly a very clear message that they are not going to disarm." (Los Angeles Times)
  • A War Israel Must Win - Sever Plocker
    Neither Hamas nor Hizballah recognizes Israel, both organizations are well entrenched in areas Israel evacuated unilaterally, both heap scorn openly on both Israel's military prowess and Israelis' ability to stand up under pressure, and both have kidnapped soldiers from sovereign Israeli territory and are holding them in territory they control. If they come out of this war with the upper hand and if they can rightly wave the flag of victory, Israel will be finished. (Ynet News)
  • Blaming Beirut - Herb Keinon
    The Lebanese government cannot deny responsibility for Hizballah, since Hizballah is in the Lebanese government. In addition, UN Security Council Resolution 1559 called on Lebanon to dismantle the armed militias, but that is something the Beirut government never did. The international community, Israel is arguing, also bears responsibility for not forcing Lebanon to implement that Security Council resolution. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Responding to the Hizballah Attack (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    The government of Israel issued the following statement Wednesday after a meeting of the Israeli Cabinet:

    • A very grave event occurred today inside the territory of the State of Israel. A Hizballah force crossed our northern border and attacked a routine IDF patrol. As a result of this attack, eight soldiers were killed, soldiers and civilians were wounded, and the invading force abducted two soldiers to Lebanese territory.
    • This action, along with the events of the past month, creates a new and complex reality that compels us to deal with it. Today's attack, like the 25 June 2006 attack at Kerem Shalom, is the product of those who perpetrate terrorism and those who give it shelter.
    • Israel views the sovereign Lebanese government as responsible for the action that originated on its soil and for the return of the abducted soldiers to Israel. Israel demands that the Lebanese government implement UN Security Council Resolution 1559.
    • There is no doubt that Hizballah, a terrorist organization operating inside Lebanon, initiated and perpetrated today's action; Israel will act against it in a manner required by its actions. The international community understands that every country, including Israel, must act aggressively against enemy targets such as Hizballah.
    • The new reality in which the State of Israel is operating requires special readiness, especially in light of the possibility that the enemy will seek to attack the home front.

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