Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 6, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Gaza Terrorists Attempting to Obtain Anti-Tank Missiles - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli defense officials are concerned over a recent increase in the number of attempts by Palestinian terror groups, led by Hamas, to smuggle anti-tank missiles into Gaza.
    Hamas is particularly interested in getting Russian-made missiles that the Syrian army has, which were used by Hizballah during last month's conflict.
    Senior defense officials, including Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, have recently warned that the border between Egypt and Gaza is wide open to arms smuggling.

Danish Police Detain Nine Muslims in Terror Plot - Jasmina Nielsen (AP/Washington Post)
    Police raided homes in a largely immigrant suburb of Odense, Denmark's third-largest city, before dawn Tuesday, detaining nine men for allegedly preparing explosives for a terrorist attack.
    An Islamic imam, Abu Bashar, said the suspects were Muslims. Authorities said all the suspects were Danish citizens and that all but one had immigrant backgrounds.

U.S. Army Shuns Israeli System to Combat RPGs - Adam Ciralsky and Lisa Myers (NBC News)
    Rocket-propelled grenades, or RPGs, have killed nearly 40 Americans in Afghanistan and more than 130 in Iraq.
    Last year, the Pentagon investigated a new Israeli system to counter RPGs and other anti-tank weapons.
    The system, called "Trophy," automatically detects when an RPG is launched and fires an interceptor.
    The Israeli military, which recently lost a number of tanks and troops to RPGs, is rushing to deploy the system.
    The Pentagon subjected Trophy to 30 tests and found it "more than 98 percent" effective at killing RPGs.
    The Pentagon decided to buy several Trophies - which cost $300,000-$400,000 each - for battlefield trials, but the plan immediately ran into a roadblock from the U.S. Army.
    Pentagon sources say the Army brass considers the Israeli system a threat to an Army program that has awarded Raytheon a $70 million contract to develop an RPG defense system.

Useful Reference:

The Use of Cluster Bombs (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    International law does not prohibit the use of weapons known as "cluster bombs," which are stocked by 56 countries and have been used by at least nine (including the U.S., Britain, and Russia).
    The U.S. used cluster bombs during the Gulf War, as did NATO forces in Serbia and Kosovo.
    In most cases, cluster bombs cause less damage than a regular (250-1,000 kg) bomb.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Lebanese Troops Move into Hizballah Bastion - Alistair Lyon
    Lebanese troops moved on Tuesday into the shattered Shi'ite Muslim town of Bint Jbeil that was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting between Israel and Hizballah in south Lebanon. Israel reiterated that its blockade of Lebanon would stay in place until Hizballah was prevented from rearming. "Israel will be able to allow unfettered access into Lebanon when the Lebanese army, augmented by the international forces, will be able to enforce the arms embargo on Hizballah," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Turkey to Deploy Troops in South Lebanon
    Turkey agreed Tuesday to send troops to Lebanon. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said the number of troops would not exceed 1,000. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Israel was especially interested in having Turkey in the force because it is a Muslim country and a regional power. The Turkish contribution is expected to include a naval task force to patrol the eastern Mediterranean and prevent arms smuggling, as well as to provide sea and air transport in support of other national contingents in the UN force. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Israel Denies Asking Annan to Lead Talks with Hizballah - Benny Avni
    Israeli officials denied Monday that they asked UN Secretary-General Annan to serve as negotiator in freeing two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hizballah, after Annan had announced earlier that Israel and Hizballah had "accepted" him as mediator. An official in Israeli Prime Minister Olmert's office told Israel Radio that Annan was not asked to mediate during his visit to Jerusalem last week. Israel will only accept such mediation after the kidnapped soldiers are transferred to the Lebanese government, the official said. (New York Sun)
  • Across Palestinian Territories, Support for Hamas Erodes - Joshua Mitnick
    Islamic militants in the Palestinian territories are coming under domestic pressure to resolve a financial crisis or share power as a U.S. and European aid boycott of the Hamas-led government is sowing widespread disillusionment with Hamas. "People can't wait any longer without income," said Samir Barghouti, the director of the Arab Center for Economic Development. "The Arab pressure, the international pressure, and the Israeli pressure has worked. Regular people are saying, 'We elected Hamas and we trust Hamas, but Hamas is not able to bring results.'"
        Palestinians hope that a power-sharing arrangement between Hamas and Fatah would end the aid boycott, and restore public sector salaries. Analysts say that a power-sharing arrangement would allow Abbas to participate in peace talks with Israel, while leaving veto power with Hamas. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Targets Terrorists in Gaza, West Bank - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    Four Hamas terrorists were killed late Tuesday in two Israel Air Force strikes in the Gaza Strip. Ahmed A'ashur and Ahmen Arkan, members of the Hamas' militant wing Iz al-Din al-Qassam, were killed when missiles hit their car in Rafah. An IDF spokeswoman said, "Two members of Hamas were in the vehicle at the time and were on their way to carry out an attack on Israel....There was a secondary explosion which indicates there were explosives in the car." Two hours later, missiles hit a car carrying two Hamas men, Aiyd al-Basiti and Ali Nashaf.
        Israeli Border Police on Tuesday arrested Mahmoud Damra, the head of Force 17, the PA Chairman's elite special guard, at an Israel Defense Forces roadblock outside Nablus. Damra has been wanted by Israel for six years for his role as leader of a terror cell responsible for attacks in Israel which killed eight Israelis and wounded 20 others. Damra only recently emerged from hiding to become a senior security official for PA Chairman Abbas. (Ha'aretz)
        See also America Pressuring Israel to Free Senior Terrorist - Aaron Klein
    After Abbas told American officials the release of Damra was important for his personal security, diplomatic sources said that David Welch, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and Elliot Abrams, the National Security Agency's Middle East Director, asked for Damra's release. (WorldNetDaily)
  • Israel: Arab League Plan for International Conference Is Attempt to Skip Roadmap Responsibility - Shlomo Shamir and Aluf Benn
    Israel is opposed to a new Arab League initiative to hold an international Middle East peace conference, which was discussed Tuesday by Arab foreign ministers in Cairo. Government sources in Jerusalem said the plan is a Palestinian attempt to evade applying the first stage of the road map which calls for the elimination of terrorist organizations in the Palestinian Authority. "An international conference is part of the second stage of the road map, but before that, the first stage must be carried out," the sources said. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Watch Out for Madrid II - Zalman Shoval (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Police Riot in Gaza, Break into Parliament - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Thousands of rioting Palestinian policemen broke into the PA Parliament compound in Gaza on Tuesday, firing in the air and smashing windows, to protest against unpaid salaries. PA Chairman Abbas gave permission for the demonstrations, to undermine the Hamas government. The overwhelming majority of PA policemen belong to Abbas' Fatah party. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Premier's Staff Joins Strike
    Staff from Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's office went on strike Wednesday, joining a widespread work stoppage by civil servants demanding overdue salaries from the Hamas-led government. Hamas leaders oppose the strike, claiming it is politically charged and orchestrated by Fatah. The strike has been lukewarm in Gaza, a Hamas stronghold. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Irrelevance of the UN - Editorial
    The casual contempt with which Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, rejected Kofi Annan's attempt to mediate in the stand-off over Teheran's nuclear ambitions is alarming. The UN is in danger of becoming an expensive irrelevance, feebly led and increasingly ill-fitted for the job of policing the international community. As the impasse with Iran continues, we inch ever closer to the frightening prospect of a fundamentalist state at the heart of the world's most volatile region acquiring nuclear weapons. It is inconceivable that Washington will allow Iran to become a nuclear power. That simple fact should spur the UN into making a more serious effort to bring President Ahmadinejad to heel. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Lebanon's Fuse for Syria - Nibras Kazimi
    The latest flare-up in Lebanon was not an isolated incident, but rather the beginning of a global war. Lebanon itself is not much of a prize for the jihadists, but it has immense strategic value as a base of operations against Syria and Israel. Lebanon today is the story of an impending Shia-Sunni clash. Lebanon's Christians in their varying denominations cannot demographically muster the strength to really matter in this fight.
        Shia Iran and anti-Shia Saudi Arabia have many assets and interests in Lebanon, and have been testing their respective strengths against each other for a while. At the same time, the jihadists have made anti-Shi'ism one of the pivotal tenets of their ideology. The jihadists enter this fight with supreme confidence: they think they have done quite well for themselves in Iraq, and believe they can outperform in Syria where a much weaker, and much more hated, regime currently holds sway. (New York Sun)
  • Observations:

    Lessons and Consequences of the Israel-Hizballah War - Jeffrey White, David Makovsky, and Dennis Ross (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • Jeffrey White: In a second round, Israel will seek an answer to the short-range missile problem and will hit harder, deeper, and faster, while Hizballah will seek to strike deeper, dig-in more deeply, and defend its high-value assets.
    • David Makovsky: While Hizballah may be subjectively strengthened by surviving Israeli strikes, it is objectively weakened by the degradation Israel inflicted on the numbers of Hizballah's fighters and weapons.
    • Dennis Ross: In 1993 and 1996, Israel failed to stop katyusha fire from Lebanon because of the mobility and small size of the rockets. That reality did not change in 2006, and it drove the timing of the eventual ceasefire just as it did in the past.
    • Objectively, Hizballah is now far less capable militarily due to Israel's offensive operations. Subjectively, Hizballah is seen as a winner because the idiom of Arab political culture heralds resistance and not submitting.
    • As the Lebanese military and multinational forces coexist with Hizballah, they will face the reality of Syrian efforts to resupply Hizballah, which is actively taking place. If there is no serious effort made to address the problem of resupply, it may become a flashpoint for future conflict.
    • Changing the behavior of an emboldened Assad requires changing the calculus of what Syria stands to gain or lose by continued support for Hizballah. The U.S. and the Europeans should develop a common strategy that would inflict a serious economic cost on the Syrians. The Europeans, who represent the economic lifeline to Syria, should be prepared to impose a range of crippling sanctions, and the Bush administration should fully implement the Syrian Accountability Act for the first time.

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