Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 1, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Report: Rocket Launcher on Roof of Building Attacked in Lebanon - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    The Lebanese website Libanoscopie, associated with Christian elements in the country, reported that "Hizballah gunmen placed a rocket launcher on the roof in Qana" of the building hit by Israel's air force.
    See also Qana Bombing Body Count Falls Sharply - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)

Israel's Chief Rabbi Calls for Special Prayers for Israeli Soldiers
    Tuesday, Aug. 1
12 noon EST - 7 pm in Israel

5,500 Homes Damaged by Hizballah Rockets in Northern Israel - Gad Lior (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 1Aug06)
    5,500 houses and apartments, 30 businesses, 20 factories, and 19 communities in northern Israel have been damaged in 19 days of rocket barrages, according to government sources.
    200 residences have been totally destroyed.
    1,300 homes in Haifa were damaged, 435 in Kiryat Shmona, 361 in Safed, 466 in Carmiel, and 300 in Nahariya.
    See also Northern Israel Under Fire - Aron Heller (AP/Washington Post)
    As of Monday, Kiryat Shmona had been hit 215 times since the Hizballah missile barrages began on July 12.
    On Sunday alone, the city, some two miles from the Lebanese border, was bombarded with 75 Katyusha rockets.

Palestinian Media Rally Support for Hizballah - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Dozens of private television and radio stations on the West Bank and Gaza have begun broadcasting most of the programs aired on Hizballah's Al-Manar TV.
    The stations also air songs praising Nasrallah and calling on Arab and Muslim armies to destroy Israel.
    In some Palestinian communities, posters of Nasrallah and Hizballah's yellow flags outnumber those of Palestinian "martyrs."
    "Nasrallah has become an important symbol for the Palestinians," said a Bethlehem-based journalist.
    "Some people have even begun referring to him as one of the great Muslim warriors in modern history."

Saudi Sheikh Calls Hizballah Operations "Illegitimate" (MEMRI)
    Writing in the London daily Asharq Al-Awsat, prominent Saudi sheikh 'Abd Al-Muhsin Al-'Obikan wrote that Hizballah had no authority to declare jihad, and that the damage caused by its actions outweighed any benefit they might produce.

Israeli Arabs, Fearing Hizballah Rockets, Flee to PA Territories - Haitham Tamimi (Reuters)
    Many Israeli Arabs in northern Israel, fearing the onslaught of Hizballah rockets, are fleeing south to the Palestinian territories and cities like Bethlehem and Jericho.
    Local hotels, empty for years due to the lack of tourists, now say they are filling up with Arab "refugees."

SanDisk to Buy Israeli Msystems for $1.5 Billion - Megan Davies (Reuters/Washington Post)
    SanDisk Corp. a maker of flash memory used in cell phones and digital cameras, said on Sunday it would buy Israel-based Msystems for $1.55 billion in stock.
    Msystems is a developer of memory used in mobile phones and other devices.

Useful Reference:

Statement by Israel's UN Ambassador on the Qana Incident (Israeli Mission to the UN)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush: Mideast Cease-Fire Must Be Accompanied by Change in Status Quo
    President Bush told Fox News on Monday: "A million Israelis are worried about rockets being fired from their neighbor to the north....Israel's a sovereign nation, and she would defend herself. What we've got to do is put pressure on the world to help create the conditions so that when there's a cease-fire, it lasts. Stopping for the sake of stopping...won't address the root cause of the problem." (Fox News)
  • UN Talks Stall on Lebanon Cease-Fire Terms - Peter Baker and Robin Wright
    Deliberations at the UN over a cease-fire in Lebanon have become tangled in a dispute between the U.S. and France over the right approach. President Bush insisted that any cease-fire plan establish Lebanese control over its territory, dispatch a multinational force to create a buffer zone, and require Iran and Syria to stop backing Hizballah, which is firing rockets at Israeli territory. Yet a meeting to craft plans for the international force was postponed after France declared it pointless without a political settlement between Israel and Lebanon.
        The resolution drafted by the U.S. would include terms for a cease-fire, outline a set of political principles for a long-term settlement of regional tensions, and define a mandate for the international force. The force would back up the Lebanese army as it asserts authority in regions now controlled by Hizballah and block import of new weapons for the militia. All armed groups would be prohibited in the zone where the international force is deployed. (Washington Post)
  • Hizballah's Hidden Menace - Tim Butcher
    Hidden among the foliage in an olive grove were two long, slender grey rockets, pointing south in the direction of Israel. They blended into the landscape almost perfectly. If a passer-by could miss them from no more than 50 feet away, what chance was there of the Israeli air force spotting them? The missiles represent what the current conflict is all about - Israel's desire to destroy Hizballah's ability to fire rockets across the border. It seems likely that the weapons were made ready at countless hilltop locations across southern Lebanon and then left until the commanders decided the launch time had come. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Israeli Military Service Unites Generations - Jonathan Finer
    Thousands of soldiers have made their way to Israel's front lines in recent days, including seasoned reservists called up last week for the conflict with Hizballah. The army said recently that more than 100 percent of reservists are reporting for duty, meaning many who have not yet been called up are appearing anyway. "When people perceive a war is necessary or justified, like this one, you see a level of motivation that equals anything Israel displayed in previous years," said historian Michael Oren.
        Plina Binyamin said goodbye to her son Idan, 21, a communications officer, and her husband, Moshe, who at 50 is too old to be called to the army but volunteered for service along with 15 other members of his old paratroop unit. "Idan is not going to Lebanon, but my husband is my problem," she said. "I know him, and I know he will try to go as close to the front lines as he can. He is not afraid of anything." (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Cabinet Approves Expanded Ground Operations in Lebanon - Ronny Sofer
    Israel's security cabinet has approved the expansion of IDF ground operations in southern Lebanon. The operations may reach the Litani River, some 30 km north of the Israel-Lebanon border. (Ynet News)
        See also Heavy Clashes between IDF Troops and Hizballah - Ze'ev Schiff, Amos Harel, and Aluf Benn
    Israel Defense Forces troops engaged in heavy exchanges of fire with Hizballah fighters in southern Lebanon on Tuesday. Thousands of IDF soldiers are currently deployed in Lebanon. (Ha'aretz)
  • Assad Smuggling Weapons to Hizballah - Yaakov Katz
    According to Israeli intelligence, Syrian President Bashar Assad, alongside senior military officials, is directly involved in the attempts to smuggle weapons and rockets to Hizballah in Lebanon. In addition, the reason Hizballah has not fired long-range Iranian-made Fajr missiles at Israel is due to Tehran's opposition. Israel now understands that without direct orders from the ayatollahs, Hizballah is not allowed to use Iranian missiles in attacks against Israel.
        The IDF believes it destroyed almost two-thirds of Hizballah's longer-range Zalzal missiles, manufactured by Iran and capable of reaching Tel Aviv. In addition, Israel has identified the bodies of 200 Hizballah operatives killed in the fighting. Hizballah fighters were also found to be using special thermal suits that retained their body heat and curtailed IDF attempts to discover them at night. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire from Gaza Continues - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired six rockets Tuesday at the western Negev. One hit a house in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, while another landed near a dairy farm in Kibbutz Nir Am. Rockets fired at the town of Sderot damaged a house. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Those Who Cry for Ruins of Hizballah Building Remain Silent over Destruction in Haifa - Rafi Ginat
    What's wiser: To suffer the slaughter of our best fighters to prevent the slaughter of civilians in south Lebanon and be the most moral army in the world, or to erase villages used as Hizballah terror motels, save the blood of our sons, and be considered less moral? What's wiser: To act with limited forces and in doing so extend the war's duration, the number of rockets being fired at us, and the number of civilian casualties, or to use lethal force, feel less moral, and establish deterrence? Is it right to pay a massive price, in blood and money, in order to be the most moral while the enemy and its supporters don't give a damn about morality considerations?
        I have no problem considering myself less moral if it will save the life of one Israeli soldier. For him I am ready to wash the Hizballah terrorists with fire. I am ready to do the same to their helpers, their collaborators, the ones who turn a blind eye, and all those in contact with Hizballah. We are in the middle of a war, and this war must be won while crushing Hizballah and all that it represents. We need to strike hard - and we should be allowed to feel good about it. The writer is editor in chief of Yediot Ahronot, Israel's largest-circulation newspaper. (Ynet News)
  • Lebanon's Leaders Allowed Hizballah to Fester - Asher Maoz
    We feel for Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora when he calls for a cease-fire to enable the Lebanese government to deal with the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559 and the release of the captured Israeli soldiers. But why didn't the Lebanese government do so in the years since the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon to its international borders? Why did the Lebanese government enable the terrorist organization Hizballah to create what Siniora called "a state within a state"? Why did the Lebanese government enable Hizballah to entrench itself along the Lebanese border with Israel? Why did the Lebanese government enable Hizballah to arm itself with mass destruction armaments? Why did the Lebanese government enable Hizballah to place its deadly weapons amid civilian populations? Why did Siniora include Hizballah in his government? And how does Siniora intend to realize Resolution 1559 that calls for the dismantling of the Hizballah militia?
        Israel's defensive actions have exposed the extensive build-up of weaponry by Hizballah along the border. One can only shudder to think what the scenario would have been like in five years had Israel not acted today. The writer is a professor of constitutional law at Tel Aviv University and a visiting professor at the faculty of law at Monash University in Melbourne. (The Australian)
  • Without a Victory over Hizballah, Israel's Long-Term Viability Is at Risk - Ron Ben-Yishai
    There is much more at stake in Lebanon than pushing Hizballah north and dismantling and disarming the organization. This is a defining stage in the current battle in the Middle East, between radical, militant Islam and pragmatic forces, including Israel. If Hizballah comes out of this fight with the upper hand, Hamas, the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordan, and other jihadis in the region will look to Iran for leadership and will adopt Hizballah's tactics. Normal life in Israel will not be possible, and in the long term Israel's existence will be at risk.
        A draw will allow Hizballah to regroup and return to battle after a short period. In practice, such an outcome would be a loss for Israel. On the other hand, if Israel wins, the threat from the north will be emasculated for a long time. Palestinian extremists will be weakened and will seek agreement with Israel. Even Iran and Syria will be forced to re-evaluate the situation. Therefore, Israel has no choice but to win this battle. (Ynet News)
  • A New Lebanon Is Being Born - Youssef Ibrahim
    A new Lebanon is being born, to be freed from the savage hordes of Hizballah jihadists, snatched from the jaws of Syria and Iran, and liberated at last from Palestinian Arabs who for 50 years masqueraded as freedom fighters and poisoned everything they touched. We, the long silenced Arab majority, must insist on bringing down the curtain on the barbarians in our midst. The Israeli army is back this time to liberate, not occupy. These troops are laboring hand in hand with Arabs who want to roll back the march of Islamic fundamentalism and its kingdom of darkness.
        Today's Arab world is a much younger and more prosperous place, one that is eager for modernization and globalization. This Arab world has graduated from juvenile pursuits of Palestinian Arab causes, dreams of Arab nationalism, and hopes for a Muslim super-nation. (New York Sun)
  • Observations:

    A Question of Values - Editorial (Times-UK)

    • There will never be peace in the region as long as Hizballah, backed by its sponsoring regimes in Iran and Syria, is allowed to threaten Israel militarily. A cease-fire that left Hizballah claiming victory on the battlefield would hugely strengthen its fighters as well as those of Hamas, draining authority from the Lebanese government and Mahmoud Abbas in the Palestinian Authority, while unsettling further Western-friendly regimes in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt.
    • Defeating Hizballah, though, would strengthen the arm of those Arab leaders who see the benefit of an Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution while also curbing the regional influence of Tehran and Damascus.
    • The criticism that Israeli attacks aimed at Hizballah are disproportionate is lazy and facile in several ways, especially in implying a moral relativism between the two sides that does not exist. One is the region's lone democracy, which for much of its existence has faced a very real existential threat and would like, if possible, to live in peace with its neighbors. The other is a terrorist organization, bent on preventing such a future.
    • Hizballah is not an emancipation movement. It represents a virulent stream of extremist Islam, characterized by utter intolerance of difference even within its own religion, and a belief system rooted several centuries past. That it has been planning this war for some time is clear from its arsenal and fortifications.

          See also There's a Consensus that Hizballah Must Be Weakened and Contained - Editorial
      The U.S., Israel, and the Lebanese government continue to seek the same outcome to the war. That is the removal of Hizballah's militia from the Lebanese-Israeli border as well as steps toward its disarmament; the deployment of the Lebanese army in the south; and the extension of the Lebanese government's sovereignty to all of the country's territory. Every party in the Middle East other than Hizballah and its Syrian and Iranian sponsors believes that a resolution to the crisis that fails to achieve those conditions would be a catastrophe. (Washington Post)

          See also The Consequences of an Israeli Defeat Would Be Ugly - Editorial
      We hope that, while Ms. Rice pursues diplomatic options, privately Mr. Bush is telling Mr. Olmert that Israel must finish the job he started against Hizballah - including a ground invasion of southern Lebanon if that's what it takes. Now that the war has been joined, and Israel has pledged not to stop without disarming Hizballah, a defeat for Israel will mean more danger and far more casualties down the road. (Wall Street Journal)

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