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October 6, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Report: Islamic Extremists Planned Mass Murder of Jews in Prague (Reuters/Washington Post)
    Islamic extremists planned to kidnap dozens of Jews in Prague and hold them hostage before murdering them, the leading Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes reported Friday.
    Sources close to intelligence agencies said the captives would have been held in a Prague synagogue while the captors made broad demands that they knew could not be fulfilled.
    When those demands were not met, the extremists would blow up the building, killing all who were inside.

Israel HighWay
- October 5, 2006

Issue of the Week:
    Camping in Israel

Tunnels Feed New Hamas Army - Alex Fishman (Ynet News)
    Hamas has assembled in Gaza an armed and trained force of about 7,500 fighters.
    A senior Israeli military official emphasized that it was not just a large guerilla force, but an organized army with several specialized units, including a short-range missile unit, a long-range missile unit, an anti-tank unit, and a sniper unit.
    Intelligence sources estimated the army would reach operational capacity and be capable of confronting the IDF as soon as the coming summer, if the flow of arms, military experts, and money into Gaza was not stopped.
    The army had offensive capabilities that would allow it to launch long-range missiles toward Israel and to infiltrate Israel through hidden tunnels.
    Israeli military sources said they would have to decide soon how this new and growing military force in Gaza would be dealt with.

Iran Issues Blacklist of "Zionist Firms" - Michael Freund (Jerusalem Post)
    The Iranian government has published a blacklist barring trade with international companies that are said to be "affiliated to the Zionist regime and Israeli stockholders."
    Speaking to the Iranian parliament on Sunday, Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki said Teheran was committed to bolstering an international Islamic embargo against Israel.
    "Imposing sanctions on Israeli companies or firms in association with the illegal Zionist regime's interests is a legal responsibility and duty," Mottaki said.

The Attack of Radical Islam on Europe Continues - Zvi Mazel (JCPA-Hebrew, 4Oct06)
    The most serious incident in recent days was the threat on the life of Robert Redeker, a philosophy teacher in the Toulouse area, who published an article on September 19 in Le Figaro criticizing Muslim aggressiveness in Europe.
    A few days later, an Internet site that represents extreme Muslim groups published pictures of Redeker, his place of work, his address, instructions on how to get to his house, and a decision to execute him.
    French security forces took these threats seriously and moved Redeker and his family to a safe house.

Freedom Cut Short - Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post)
    Amid the sectarian strife plaguing Baghdad, a wave of religious fundamentalism is curbing personal freedoms and reshaping the daily lives of Iraqis who have long enjoyed one of the most liberal lifestyles in the Arab world.
    Consider the barbers of Baghdad. Sunni Muslim insurgents and Shiite Muslim extremists have imposed their own sets of rules for the cutting of hair.
    In recent months, barbers have been killed, threatened, or forced to close their shops after being accused of giving haircuts that were considered un-Islamic or too Western.

India to Buy Israeli Surface-to-Air Missiles (Hindustan Times)
    The Indian Air Force is purchasing 18 Israeli-made Spyder quick reaction air defense missile systems, Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi said in New Delhi on Thursday.
    See also Israel Arms Sales to India Top $900 Million a Year - Arieh Egozi (Ynet News)
    The Indian defense magazine India Defense reported that Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi and Navy vice-chief Vice-Admiral Venkat Bharathan lately paid secret visits to Israel to get updates on defense systems being developed in Israel for the Indian Army.
    Israel is building a Phalcon early warning system for India at a cost of $1.1 billion, with the first of three AWACS planes scheduled for delivery in November 2007.

Restitution: Why Did It Take 50 Years or Did It? - Interview with Ronald Zweig (JCPA)
    German restitution to Israel and the Jews after World War II amounted in today's terms to about $70 billion. This was far more than the Germans had originally intended to pay, but more and more categories of victims were added as beneficiaries over the years.
    In the mid-1990s, restitution became an item of considerable worldwide interest as new negotiations started with several countries.
    Ronald Zweig is a professor of modern Jewish history at Tel Aviv University.

Treating Post-War Traumas - Wendy Blumfield (Jerusalem Post)
    The war in the North lasted only a month, but the trauma can live on for years. Children are particularly at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and their experiences and fears can affect them for a lifetime.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Seizures of Radioactive Materials Fuel "Dirty Bomb" Fears - Lewis Smith
    Seizures of smuggled radioactive material capable of making a terrorist "dirty bomb" have doubled in the past four years. Smugglers have been caught trying to traffic dangerous radioactive material more than 300 times since 2002, statistics from the International Atomic Energy Agency show. Most of the incidents occurred in Europe. The disclosures come as al-Qaeda is known to be intensifying its efforts to obtain a radioactive device. Last year, Western security services thwarted 16 attempts to smuggle plutonium or uranium. On two occasions small quantities of highly enriched uranium were reported missing. All were feared to have been destined for terror groups. (Times-UK)
  • French Police: Muslims Waging Civil War Against Us - David Rennie
    Radical Muslims in France's housing estates are waging an undeclared "intifada" against the police, with violent clashes injuring an average of 14 officers each day. As the Interior Ministry said that nearly 2,500 officers had been wounded this year, a police union declared that its members were "in a state of civil war" with Muslims in the estates populated by unemployed youths of North African origin. The union said the situation was so grave that it had asked the government to provide police with armored cars to protect officers in the estates, which are becoming no-go zones. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Will Fatah-Hamas Fighting Spread in West Bank? - Joshua Brilliant
    Gaza journalist Khaled Azeizeh Tuesday described life there: "You don't know who is shooting whom. Fatah, Hamas, or armed (bands). Everyone has a weapon. We've become accustomed to...the music of death: The sounds of shots, the thunder of bombs, and the ambulances' sirens," he told Yediot Ahronot newspaper. Israeli analyst Jonathan Fighel, of the International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism, was concerned the next round would engulf the West Bank. He said the nationalist Fatah had the upper hand in the West Bank this week, but the Islamic Hamas is reportedly smuggling arms there. (UPI)
  • Israel Discovers Oil Near Dead Sea - Ramit Plushnick-Masti
    An Israeli company has discovered a small amount of oil at a drilling site near the Dead Sea. Initial tests have found that the site would yield between 100 and 150 barrels a day, said Eli Tannenbaum, geologist for the Ginko oil exploration company. Tannenbaum said there were signs that larger amounts of crude are nearby. (AP/Globe and Mail-Canada)
        Tannenbaum said the reserve could hold up to $300 million worth of oil, or 6 million barrels. (New York Sun)
  • Israel Names New U.S. Envoy
    Israel Wednesday named Salai Meridor, a former head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, a quasi-governmental agency that promotes Jewish immigration, as its new ambassador to the U.S. He will replace current Ambassador Danny Ayalon in January. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Israel's New Envoy - Joshua Mitnick (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert Tells Rice Israel Interested in Boosting Abbas - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Prime Minister Olmert told U.S. Secretary of State Rice on Wednesday in Jerusalem that he was interested in strengthening PA Chairman Abbas against Hamas. However, Israel would not help Abbas by releasing Palestinian prisoners before captured soldier Gilad Shalit was returned home. Hamas officials, meanwhile, claimed that Rice's talks with Abbas and some Fatah leaders were designed to set the stage for launching a coup against the Hamas-led government. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Rice Promotes International Parley to Help Abbas - Herb Keinon
    Secretary of State Rice is interested in a regional conference aimed at boosting PA Chairman Abbas and leading the sides back to the road map, senior Israeli diplomatic sources said Wednesday. The officials said Rice's main focus at this time was how to strengthen Abbas, amid a growing realization in Washington that the situation in the PA is "catastrophic." Rice's meetings were intended to see what measures could be taken to forge a moderate front in the region as a counterbalance to Iran, Syria, Hizballah, and Hamas. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Russia Fires Arms Export Official after Israeli Complaints - Herb Keinon
    Following Israeli complaints that state-of-the-art Russian arms were transferred to Hizballah, Russia has removed a senior official in charge of arms exports. The news was made public two weeks before Prime Minister Olmert is scheduled to visit Moscow, and is widely believed to be a gesture from the Kremlin before the visit.
        Soon after the war with Hizballah, a high-level Israeli delegation went to Moscow to discuss the arms issue, complaining that Iran and Syria passed Russian-made Fagot and Kornet anti-tank missiles on to Hizballah. When Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Israel on September 7, he said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was particularly angered by the Russian weaponry found in south Lebanon because it contravened promises he had given Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Explosion Traps Palestinians in Smuggling Tunnel
    An explosion collapsed a tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border Friday, trapping five militants inside and killing at least two, Palestinians said. The five were members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent offshoot of the Fatah movement of PA Chairman Abbas. On Thursday, gunmen killed a Fatah member in Gaza and a supporter of Hamas was critically wounded in separate incidents. (Ha'aretz)
        See also IDF: Gaza Blast Was Premature Bomb Explosion (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF: Rockets on Tel Aviv from West Bank "Only a Matter of Time" - Yaakov Katz
    Hamas is setting up sleeper terror cells, rebuilding its forces, and stocking up on advanced weaponry ahead of a new round of anti-Israel violence within and from the West Bank, a high-ranking IDF officer warned Thursday. The officer revealed that terror groups were "studying" the war in Lebanon and trying to adopt Hizballah tactics - such as burying bombs in the ground and laying ambushes nearby - for fighting against the IDF in the West Bank. He said it was "only a matter of time" before terror cells in the West Bank manufactured and fired high-grade Kassam rockets at the Sharon region (greater Tel Aviv). (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Sensor to Shooter in One Minute: Inside the Israeli Air Campaign Against Hizballah Targets - Barbara Opall-Rome
    After-action data and battlefield imagery are revealing that Israel's air operations against Hizballah displayed unprecedented use of swarming manned and unmanned systems that found and destroyed mobile missile launchers and enemy tactical drones. By the third night of the war, the Israel Air Force attained full operational capability of the world's first Boost Phase Launch Intercept (BPLI) force to hunt and immediately kill small, mobile missile launchers. Israel's BPLI capability has been credited with destroying more than 100 launchers.
        "This was the first large-scale use of UAVs, not only for providing a continuous presence over the entire battle area, but in [assisting the direction and delivery of] smart munitions to these very small, well hidden, moving targets," said Isaac Ben-Israel, a retired IAF major general and former director of Israeli defense research and development. "Here, there's only a matter of seconds between the time the terrorists emerged to launch these missiles to the time when they returned to their hiding places among innocent civilians. Those medium-range missile launchers became suicide launchers. They were destroyed either before or immediately after they fired their first missile." According to a senior IAF official, more than 90% of the medium-range missile launchers used by Hizballah were destroyed almost immediately after they fired their first weapon.
        "Without a doubt, the second Lebanon War was the turning point in unmanned warfare," said Asaf Agmon, a brigadier general in the IAF reserves and director of Israel's Fisher Center for Air and Space Strategic Studies. (Defense News, 2Oct06)
  • The Proposed Palestinian Unity Government Won't Work - Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
    Last month, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced that his Fatah party would be forming a national unity government with Hamas, a terrorist group that seized power in the Palestinian-administered territories in January. Such a government, were it to arise, would include the current Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, and would not require the recognition of Israel or the renunciation of violence among its guiding principles, Hamas spokesmen have announced.
        Supporting or even recognizing any government in which such a terrorist organization participates would be a tremendous mistake. Such a move would constitute an unmitigated disaster for the Palestinian people and a wholly unacceptable development that would undermine U.S. interests and policy, hinder peace efforts, and herald nothing but continued pain and suffering for Israelis and Palestinians alike. The writer serves as chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia. (National Review)
  • Hizballah Inspires Some Sunnis to Become Shiites - Ellen Knickmeyer
    Last Sunday, Munir al-Sayed, a Sunni Arab from the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on a business trip to Damascus, slipped into a Shiite shrine, removed his shoes, and bowed his head in prayer - not as a Sunni, but as a Shiite. Surrounded by Shiites, the 42-year-old Sunni lawyer prayed with hands pressed to his sides as Shiites do, rather than with hands crossed in front of him, as Sayed's family and other Sunnis have done for generations. He said he was seized with a heartfelt desire to pay homage to Hizballah leader Hasan Nasrallah, whose Shiite militia has been seen by many Muslims as having humiliated both the Israeli military and its U.S. ally in Lebanon this summer.
        A secular analyst close to many officials in Syria's authoritarian government noted that during this summer's war, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood vied with statements of support for Hizballah, whose Shiite faith normally would make it a target, not an ally, of Sunni groups. The Syrian government - a patron of Hizballah - has since this summer promoted the cult of Nasrallah as a way of boosting Assad's popularity. Posters and billboards have sprung up around Damascus showing the younger Assad in photo montages alongside the smiling, bearded Hizballah leader. Iranian President Ahmadinejad also appears in some of the composites. (Washington Post)
  • Rice Feeds Fiction that Palestinian State Is Key to Peace - Sidney Zion
    The idea that a Palestinian state would bring peace to the world is a sick joke. As is the notion that the Palestinian people want peace, but are prevented by their leaders. This nonsense should have ended when they elected Hamas to rule them last year. The Palestinian people, not only in the election of Hamas, but in most polls, want Israel off the map. So some things are not soluble by reason. Certainly it would be in the best interests of the Palestinian people to run out Hamas, to reject the intransigence of Fatah, to just say let's live together with the Jews. But the Arabs do not always do what is in their best interests. (New York Daily News)
  • Clutching at Straws While Looking for Leadership - Daoud Kuttab
    The use of violence to solve the most mundane disputes threatens the national fiber of Palestinian society. Every day news talks about this person being killed, shots at this official, burning of this club, destroying this telecommunications center. Even religious sites, once believed to be above any internal dispute, have now become open targets. Following the statements of Pope Benedict XVI, a number of churches were burnt. In all of the above, no one seems to have been held accountable for their crimes and vandalism. (Palestine News Network)

    Weekend Features

  • Our Man in the KGB - Yossi Melman
    In late May 1967, about 10 days before the outbreak of the Six-Day War, two men met in the center of Ramle, got in a car and drove off to a forest next to Kibbutz Tzuba in the Jerusalem hills. The two were a diplomat in the Soviet embassy in Tel Aviv - who was actually an agent of the KGB, the Soviet intelligence service - and Viktor Grayevsky, an Israeli journalist and radio broadcaster. Once swallowed up among the trees, the driver gave his passenger the message that was the whole point of this excursion. "From the information in my possession," he said, "I understand that Israel plans to go to war and attack Nasser."
        Published here for the first time are details of Grayevsky's 14-year career as a double agent. Grayevsky, now 81, says, "I worked for the Shin Bet." His assignment? To feed Soviet intelligence officers disinformation or partly accurate information on Israel that his handlers had prepared for him.
        Grayevsky has already entered the pantheon of Israeli intelligence thanks to one particularly bold and heroic action. When he was a journalist in Poland, acting at great risk, he relayed to the Shin Bet a copy of the secret speech of Nikita Krushchev, then the secretary-general of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, in which Krushchev denounced Joseph Stalin's regime of terror. (Ha'aretz)
  • Helping Heroes - Josh Max
    Dror Dagan, a former member of the Duvdevan special forces unit of the Israel Defense Forces, was shot in the eye and the chest on Feb. 2, 2004, in Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem, while apprehending a terrorist leader responsible for the deaths of dozens of innocent civilians. Dagan miraculously survived the shooting and, once he was able to function on his own, started Dror for the Wounded, a foundation that provides assistance to soldiers and their families through medicine, mental health services, legal aid, and assistance with education and employment. Each Dror foundation contributor receives a list of injured Israeli soldiers. Under each name is a description of the incident leading to the soldier's wounding and his or her current needs. A soldier is paired with a contributor, who receives updates on progress, and, when possible, direct personal contact. (New York Daily News)
  • Book Review: A New Biography of Ariel Sharon - Tom Gross
    Last month, one of Britain's leading magazines, The New Statesman, in the course of attacking Tony Blair for supporting the "racist regime in Tel Aviv," attributed to Ariel Sharon a series of racist remarks about Arabs. But Mr. Sharon had never said them. They were the words of extremists that he had specifically repudiated. It was the equivalent of taking the words of the Ku Klux Klan and putting them in the mouth of George W. Bush.
        Ariel Sharon: A Life by Israeli journalists Nir Hefez and Gadi Bloom, which appeared in Israel last year in Hebrew, has just been translated into English. Sharon may ultimately be best remembered as a military man. He was a master tactician. His assault on Abu Agelia fortress during the 1967 Six-Day War is still studied in military academies around the world. His crossing of the Suez Canal, against the orders of his superiors, changed the course of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. As defense minister in 1981 - and in defiance of the whole world - he persuaded the Israeli government to destroy Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Nobel Laureate a "Regular" at Hebrew U. - Judy Siegel and Tom Hope
    Prof. Roger Kornberg, the Stanford University biologist who was named on Wednesday as this year's Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, just spent four months at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he is a fellow at the Alexander Silberman Institute for Life Sciences. Kornberg, whose father won a Nobel Prize for medicine nearly 50 years ago, has been a visiting professor at Hebrew University every summer since 1986. His Israeli-born wife, Yahli, is the daughter of the late historian and Knesset clerk Netanel Lorch, and their three children are fluent Hebrew speakers. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Lessons of the Hamas-Fatah Fighting - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)

    • The bloody clashes between Hamas and Fatah in the Palestinian Authority show that the international financial and economic siege of the Hamas government, led by the U.S, is succeeding.
    • The war in Lebanon affected the Palestinians. According to public opinion surveys, many Palestinians support "resistance," i.e., a continuation of terror attacks. In their view, only resistance brings results and victories, and Hizballah has proved this.
    • Despite Hamas' rigid ideological stance against Israel, cracks have begun to show. There is a debate within Hamas between the ideological level and the pragmatic one, between external Hamas in Damascus and some of the leaders of internal Hamas. The more pragmatic types argue that in order to really capitalize on its election victory, Hamas needs a period of quiet. Only thus will it be able to genuinely take control of the PA.
    • The ideological level, led by external Hamas and headed by Khaled Meshal - which is supported by the military arm in Gaza and by Mahmoud al-Zahar, the foreign minister in the Hamas government - contends that no disaster will befall the Palestinians if the diplomatic process falls apart. The continuation of the "resistance" is more important. In their view, Israel is the one that must be pragmatic and accept the reality and Hamas' demands.
    • Since September 8, Hamas has not taken responsibility for the Kassam rockets that have been fired at Israel. Meaning: They are not doing the firing, but they may well be supplying rockets to others. Meanwhile, Hamas' military arm says it will stop firing rockets but not halt terror attacks. In addition, nihilistic groups like the Army of Islam and the Resistance Committees, who are adopting al-Qaeda's principles, have been gaining strength.
    • The current bloody conflicts among the Palestinians indicate once again that Hamas is far from ready to forsake its religious principles, which say there shall be no relinquishing of the Islamic holy lands upon which Israel sits. This is a problem that the Palestinians will have to resolve among themselves - because there is no chance that Israel will agree to convert to Islam.

      Correction: The Arab Temptation by Joshua Muravchik originally appeared in this month's Commentary Magazine, October 2006.

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