Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 7, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Sent Long-Range Rockets to Hizballah via Syria in 2003 - Steven Erlanger and Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times)
    On Dec. 26, 2003, a powerful earthquake leveled most of Bam, in southeastern Iran, killing 35,000 people. Transport planes carrying aid poured in from everywhere, including Syria.
    According to Israeli military intelligence, the planes returned to Syria carrying sophisticated weapons, including long-range Zelzal missiles, which the Syrians passed on to Hizballah.
    Iran and Syria also provided Hizballah with satellite communications and some of the world's best infantry weapons, including modern, Russian-made antitank weapons and Semtex plastic explosives, as well as the training required to use them effectively against Israeli armor.
    Hizballah has also used antitank missiles to fire from a distance into houses in which Israeli troops are sheltered, with a first explosion cracking the concrete block wall and the second going off inside.
    With modern communications and a network of tunnels, storage rooms, barracks and booby traps laid under the hilly landscape, Hizballah's training, tactics, and modern weaponry explain, the Israelis say, why they are moving with caution.
    Former Syrian president Hafez al-Assad was careful to restrict supplies to Hizballah, but his son, Bashar, who took over in 2000, has opened its warehouses.

    See also Iran Sending Anti-Aircraft Missiles to Hizballah (Ynet News)
    Hizballah will receive shipments of surface-to-air missile systems in the coming months from Iran, enhancing Hizballah's ability to shoot at Israeli aircraft, according a Jane's Defense Weekly report released Friday.
    The report also stated that Tehran supplied Hizballah with Iranian-made Noor radar-guided anti-ship cruise missiles and Chinese QW-1 (Vanguard) shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.

IDF Foils Palestinian Suicide Bombing (Jerusalem Post)
    IDF forces foiled a suicide bombing Saturday after apprehending a Palestinian woman with a 4-kg. explosives belt near Nablus.
    The army spotted two suspicious Palestinian taxis and initiated a chase during which the woman tossed the bomb belt out of the vehicle's window.

Reuters Admits Image of Beirut after IAF Strike Was Doctored - Assaf Uni (Ha'aretz)
    Reuters news agency admitted Sunday that it had published a doctored photograph of Beirut after an Israel Air Force strike on Saturday.
    In the original image, thin smoke can be seen rising over the Lebanese capital, but in the second photograph, thick, black smoke can be seen billowing over the buildings.
    Reuters said it has fired Adnan Hajj, the Lebanese photographer who submitted the image.
    "This represents a serious breach of Reuters' standards," said Moira Whittle, the head of public relations for Reuters.

    View photos (Little Green Footballs)

Unexploded Bombs on German Trains Have Middle East Connection (Der Spiegel)
    Two suitcase bombs discovered last week in western German train stations in Dortmund and Koblenz may be traceable to the Middle East.
    The Suddeutsche Zeitung reported that one suitcase contained a plastic bag printed with Arabic writing that came from Beirut.

Hizballah Rockets Land in Syria - Efrat Weiss (Ynet News)
    Six rocket barrages were fired at northern Israel from the areas of Wadi Saluki and Kabriah Majdel-Silim in south Lebanon towards the northern Galilee but landed in Syrian territory Saturday.

Uniformed Palestinians Murder Six Palestinian Inmates at Jericho Prison - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    Five Palestinian gunmen dressed in military uniforms broke into Jericho prison Friday and shot six inmates dead, using handguns equipped with silencers.
    On exiting the prison, the armed Palestinians exchanged gunfire with prison guards.

Israelis from North Seek Safety in West Bank - Michael Blum (AFP/Yahoo)
    Hundreds of residents in northern Israel have fled Hizballah rocket salvos for the relative safety of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
    "We have more security here, so it was suggested to those in the north that they come and stay with us until the end of the war," said Hanna Metzger, assistant to the mayor of Efrat.
    At the Neveh Shmuel Yeshiva in Efrat, 280 people have been put up in rooms normally occupied by students who are now on holiday.

Useful Reference:

The Arab Hate Industry (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies)
    Lebanon is still a center for the distribution of anti-Semitic literature, including books by Hizballah's publishing house.
    Such literature, distributed across the Arab and Muslim world, inspires hatred against Israel and the Jewish people and may legitimize violence against them.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Rocket Barrages Kills 15 Israelis - Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Greg Myre
    Hizballah rocket attacks on northern Israel Sunday killed 12 army reservists near the Lebanon border and 3 civilians in Haifa. At least 160 rockets hit northern Israel on Sunday. The Israeli military said the rockets that hit Haifa were fired from the Lebanese village of Qana, and that the military had hit and destroyed the launcher shortly afterward. (New York Times)
        Since the fighting began on July 12, 94 Israelis - 58 IDF soldiers and 36 civilians - have been killed. (Ha'aretz)
  • Cease-Fire Draft at UN Falters - Warren Hoge and Neil MacFarquhar
    Efforts to speed adoption of a draft resolution to halt the fighting between Israel and Hizballah faltered at the UN on Sunday as the Security Council failed to hold an expected meeting to discuss the measure and schedule a vote. France and the U.S., which announced agreement on the draft on Saturday, plunged into renewed negotiations to meet objections by Lebanon and Qatar. Both Iran and Syria, supporters and suppliers of Hizballah, rejected the resolution.
        Secretary of State Rice cautioned that the resolution was "a first step" and said she did not expect an immediate end to the violence. (New York Times)
        See also Israel Asks U.S. to Alter Draft on Lebanon - Aluf Benn
    Israel Sunday asked the U.S. government to make changes in the American-French draft resolution on Lebanon: removing all mention of Shebaa Farms; making the Lebanese government explicitly responsible for preventing arms transfers to Hizballah and giving UN forces a greater role in supervising the border crossings; instituting an explicit international embargo on arms transfers to Hizballah; removing the reference to Israel's "offensive military operations." Israel claims that it is merely defending itself against Hizballah attacks. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Lebanese Demands Hold Up UN Resolution - Tim Witcher
    Lebanon's demands for changes to a draft UN resolution on the Middle East conflict held up efforts to secure a speedy vote on the measure calling for a "full cessation of hostilities." Lebanon called for the French-U.S. draft resolution to specify that Israeli troops must leave southern Lebanon as soon as the fighting stops. (AFP/Yahoo)
        See also Syria Ready for Regional War, Blasts UN Resolution - Nayla Razzouk (AFP/Yahoo)
        See also below Observations: The U.S.-French Draft Resolution on Lebanon: Strengths and Weaknesses - Dore Gold (ICA/JCPA)
  • Iran Says It Will Ignore UN Deadline on Uranium Program - Michael Slackman
    Ali Larijani, Iran's security chief and top nuclear negotiator, said Sunday that Iran would defy the UN Security Council by refusing to halt enrichment of uranium by the end of the month. (New York Times)
        See also Hizballah Attacks Seen as Iran Diversion - Rowan Scarborough
    Hizballah's July 12 attack on Israel is seen by some Bush administration officials as a bid to break the West's unified focus on forcing Iran to stop enriching uranium for use in nuclear weapons. (Washington Times)
        See also Defiant Iran Threatens to Use "Oil Weapon" Against Sanctions - Richard Beeston
    Experts are divided over whether Iran would carry out its threat to withhold oil sales as a political weapon. Oil accounts for 80% of Iran's export earnings and its economy would collapse if crude exports were halted indefinitely. (Times-UK)
  • Who Will Disarm Hizballah? Not the Lebanese Army - Andrew Lee Butters
    The makeup and capability of the Lebanese Army render it unthinkable, say military observers and government officials, for it to forcibly disarm Hizballah or take control of southern Lebanon. More than one third of the army's personnel is Shi'ite, drawn from a community in which Hizballah is overwhelmingly popular. "The Lebanese Army will never be given any orders to disarm any militia," said retired General Salim Abu Ismail, a former military attache to Washington. "The Lebanese army is not going to fight other Lebanese." (TIME)
  • Israelis United in Support of Military Offensive - Sharmila Devi
    Few in Israel doubt the necessity of the war in Lebanon. There are even those normally in the peace camp who advocate a more forceful campaign. "If the army really wants to change the strategic balance, they have to go all the way with a ground offensive," said a former leading peace activist. Founders of the Four Mothers movement support the present Lebanese offensive, although they played a campaigning role in ending the 22-year Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. One of the four, Orna Shimoni, told Ha'aretz the war was vital in protecting Israel's existence. "Even when we remove hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in Lebanon, that is not only right, it is also moral because I do not want them to die in our shelling," she said. "But we have to shell. And we have to fight." (Financial Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hizballah Long-Range Rockets Target Hadera - Ahiya Raved
    For the first time, Hizballah fired long-range rockets toward the Hadera area on Friday, with reports of three landings; no injuries or damage were reported. A major electric power plant is located in the area. More than 200 rockets were fired at Israel from Lebanon on Friday; three civilians were killed in the attacks. (Ynet News)
        See also Israeli Commandos Raid Tyre to Strike Those Who Hit Hadera - Avi Cohen
    Brig.-Gen. Noam Feig described on Saturday how in an Israeli commando operation in the heart of the Lebanese city of Tyre against those who launched rockets at Hadera, "the force killed four terrorists who belonged to the launching unit." (Ynet News)
  • Hizballah Rocket Strikes Israeli Bedouin Village, Three Women Killed - Hagai Einav
    Three women were killed Saturday in the Bedouin village of Arab al-Aramshe, near Shlomi in northern Israel, by a Katyusha rocket fired by Hizballah. (Ynet News)
  • Wider Assault Needed to Head Off War of Attrition - Ze'ev Schiff
    There is no way to stop the ceaseless barrage of rockets which are being launched at the north without the Israel Defense Forces undertaking a prompt, more extensive aerial and ground operation designed to neutralize Hizballah rockets situated south of the Litani River, perhaps even beyond. Otherwise, the war of attrition will continue, even drag on, and the number of civilian casualties will rise from day to day. (Ha'aretz)
        See also No Change in Strategy - Ze'ev Schiff
    Given the outcome of Sunday's cabinet discussions and those of the seven-member security cabinet Saturday night, there seems to be no chance that the rain of short-range rockets on the Galilee will diminish anytime soon. No plans for Israel Defense Forces operations aimed at swiftly changing the situation were discussed. The IDF's ground operation in Lebanon continues to focus on "cleansing" a narrow strip along the border. Most ministers still oppose expanding the ground operation in order to get rid of most of Hizballah's short-range rockets.
        Meanwhile, Damascus is continuing its efforts to smuggle arms to Hizballah, including long-range rocket launchers; this should be viewed as a military assault on Israel, albeit an indirect one. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Learning Lessons from Lebanon, See Missiles as Answer to Israel's Security Fence - Avi Issacharoff
    The heavy battles between Hizballah and the Israel Defense Forces have taught West Bank gunmen new lessons - in future battles between Israel and the Palestinians, like in Lebanon, the missile will be victorious. Long- and short-range rockets have aroused great interest among the gunmen, and advanced missiles are promising to be the next hit with the Palestinian terror organizations. Public opinion sees them as the means to change the face of the conflict. The eastern Jerusalem newspaper Al-Quds published a caricature a few days ago of a missile passing through Israel's separation fence.
        One of the founders of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Khaled Shawish, says the Palestinian organizations are trying to buy sophisticated weapons. "I am talking particularly about RPG missiles that can be widely used in Gaza. The border with Egypt is open enough to bring in missiles, and 'the resistance' produces anti-tank missiles in Gaza," he said. A Palestinian journalist from Gaza noted, "The price of ammunition has dropped because of the large supply. A Kalashnikov bullet cost NIS 40-50 before the Israeli withdrawal, and now it's only NIS 5."
        An Al-Aqsa activist, Muein from Bethlehem, says, "The brothers in the Dehaishe refugee camp now want anti-tank missiles....We won't fire bullets at Gilo but missiles." He adds that the separation fence will also lose its effectiveness. "What will be the problem for a fighter to sit on the Abu Dis side of the fence and send a missile to the King David Hotel? It is less effort than a suicide attack and...has the same results." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Matter of Timing - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    The American public understands what the war between Israel and Hizballah is about and what it is not about. It is not about territories; it is not about occupation; it is not about an effort by poor, oppressed Palestinians to get Israel out of their land; it is not about a two-state solution. What it is about is the fate of the democratic State of Israel, which was attacked, once again, by enemies dedicated to its destruction. No fewer than 83% of Americans say Israel is justified in its military action, while fully 76% disapprove of Hizballah's attacks on Israel, according to a Gallup poll. A CNN poll found some 57% are sympathetic to Israel, while only 4% are sympathetic to Hizballah.
        Another false peace, like the 1993 and 1996 cease-fire agreements with Hizballah, would be a betrayal of those who have died - and all those who will die in the future if Hizballah's threat is not eliminated. It must lose its capacity to take over Lebanon, given its genocidal ambitions as expressed by Nasrallah in 2002 when he said, "If they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide."
        There is, too, an important issue of perception. Hizballah must not come out of this with even a perceived victory. Otherwise, the Muslim Brotherhoods in Egypt and Jordan, as well as other jihadists, will look to Iran for leadership and to Hizballah for operational assistance. Over time this will pose an existential question for Israel and create still more havoc for the Middle East. If Israel is seen as victorious, Palestinian extremists will be weakened and Syria, and possibly Iran, might be forced to reappraise their approach. Rarely have the stakes been higher. (US News)
  • Saving Hizballah - Editorial
    Is the United States about to blink - and allow a cease-fire to be imposed on Israel before Hizballah is fully neutralized as a long-term threat? If so, it would be a colossal mistake, boosting Iran and terrorists worldwide. No cease-fire should fail to leave the murderous band materially defanged, with most of its weaponry and infrastructure destroyed and its fighters gone from Israel's border. Let's face it: a cease-fire helps no one except Hizballah - which desperately wants a respite from Israel's ground and air attacks. If an international force is to be deployed, it must go in only after Israel finishes its job - and only with a clear mandate to keep Hizballah muzzled. (New York Post)
  • A New, Messier Mideast - Aaron David Miller
    Even if the current crisis is resolved with an international force and a buffer zone that pushes Hizballah back from the border, far from giving birth to a new (and better) Middle East, we may find that we've created one even messier and nastier than the old. The current crisis is showing us just how effective Iran's reach can be. And Iran's inclination to meddle - mostly as a way of reminding the Sunni Arab world, Israel, and the U.S. that Tehran has cards to play and can inflict pain - will not go away.
        A second conclusion to be drawn from recent events has to do with the perils of unilateralism. In the Middle East, if you don't get for what you give, there will be no end to the pressure to give more. Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000 and from Gaza in September 2005 may have benefited Israel politically (both domestically and around the world), but it also emboldened Hizballah and Hamas. That both groups continue to claim that they alone forced Israel out of Arab territory without agreements or reciprocity is more than just a talking point; it is a powerful inspiration to a younger generation of Arabs and Muslims looking for ways to counter their perceived humiliation at the hands of Israel and, by implication, the U.S. The fact that Israel felt the need to respond so forcefully to the July 12 Hizballah attack across its border is a clear indication of its own concern about the erosion of its deterrence and the perception of its weakness.
        The writer, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, served as an advisor to six secretaries of state on Arab-Israeli peace negotiations. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Hangin' with Hizballah - Jeffrey Gedmin
    The Israel Defense Forces conducted a raid in Lebanon several days ago apparently aimed at capturing a prominent Hizballah leader, Mohammed Yazbeck, who is the personal representative of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The supreme leader made himself heard in an August 2 communique, in which he called Hizballah "the Muslim nation's front-line defense" and promised more "martyrdom" to fend off the Zionist-American plot aimed at seizing control "over the Muslim world." There have been unconfirmed reports from Israeli sources that an Iranian general, Yahya Rahim Safavi, has assumed command of the Lebanon war. Former Israeli chief of staff Moshe Yaalon believes at a minimum that Iranian Zelzal missiles - the items in the Hizballah arsenal that are capable of striking Tel Aviv - may be under Iranian command and control. The writer is director of the Aspen Institute Berlin. (Weekly Standard)
  • Observations:

    The U.S.-French Draft UN Resolution on Lebanon: Strengths and Weaknesses
    - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The U.S.-French draft resolution calls for a "full cessation of hostilities" by the warring parties. It demands the "immediate" halt by Hizballah of all attacks. Regarding Israel, there is also a demand for the "immediate" cessation of military operations; however, Israel is only expected to halt "offensive military operations." Not only is Hizballah treated more harshly, but implicitly Israel may continue to conduct "defensive military operations."
    • The draft resolution only partially addresses some of Israel's main concerns in the present conflict. Israel's abducted soldiers appear and their release is not linked to the question of Lebanese prisoners in Israel. However, the abducted soldiers are relegated to the preambular language of the draft resolution, rather than appearing in the operative language that specifies what the parties have to do.
    • Israel's concern with rocket proliferation in Lebanon is also addressed in the long-term proposals in the draft resolution through "an international embargo on the sale or supply of arms." This could justify a partial U.S. or Western naval blockade to look for contraband weapons similar to what the U.S. Navy maintained in the Persian Gulf in the 1990s against Iraq. There is no reference in the draft resolution to how remaining stocks of Hizballah missiles will be addressed.
    • The U.S.-French draft resolution envisions the adoption of a further resolution in the future, "under Chapter VII," for the deployment of a UN-mandated multi-national force. But Chapter VII is a two-edged sword. In the future, if Israel is dissatisfied with the performance of the multi-national force and feels it must conduct limited operations in Lebanese territory (from over-flight to destroying new rocket deployments), under such circumstances Israel could be charged with violating a Chapter VII resolution. Because of the severe repercussions of such a violation, the Arab bloc, with some European support, will likely call for sanctions against Israel.
    • The Shebaa Farms were captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War along with the rest of the Golan Heights; their future disposition, it has been assumed, is part of the Israeli-Syrian territorial dispute. Lebanon claimed that in 1951, Syria transferred the Shebaa Farms to Lebanon. However, no such agreement was ever deposited at the UN and Lebanese Army maps from 1961 and 1966 shows the Shebaa Farms to be inside Syria. Hizballah's claim to the Shebaa Farms has no basis in either UN resolutions or in past diplomatic documentation. Yet, by granting that the Shebaa Farms issue is a genuine dispute, the draft resolution rewards Hizballah by recognizing one of its main claims over the last six years.

          See also Danger at the UN - Editorial (New York Sun);
      Not Good Enough - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)
          See also Senior Israeli Official: There Will Be No International Force in Lebanon - Aluf Benn
      A senior official in Jerusalem predicted Sunday that an international force in south Lebanon will never materialize. The current American-French draft resolution says merely that a second resolution will be proposed at some later date to authorize deployment of such a force. This, said the senior government source, seems to indicate that "there won't be an international force, because there will never be an agreement on it." "If they're spitting blood over a declarative resolution [like the current one], just imagine what will happen when they get to a practical resolution," he said. (Ha'aretz)

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