Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 6, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF Girds for War Next Year with Syria, Hizballah - Amir Oren (Ha'aretz)
    Syria and Hizballah are likely to start a war against Israel next summer, according to IDF General Staff assessments in recent weeks.
    All preparations are being made to ensure maximum preparedness in advance of summer 2007.
    A decision has been made to develop, within three years, a system capable of intercepting surface-to-surface rockets of the sort that Hizballah used to target Haifa and other towns during the recent war.
    The IDF must seriously consider that a decision in Washington to withdraw the majority of its forces from Iraq will contribute to a growing sense of "success" among forces in the region that oppose Israel and the West.
    This atmosphere will necessitate concentrating on the possibility that Iraq may become part of an eastern front with Iran and Syria.
    Military Intelligence estimates there are still 5,000 Katyushas in southern Lebanon.

Iran Ready to Equip Lebanese Military with Advanced Air Defense - (IRNA-Iran)
    Iran's Ambassador to Lebanon Mohammad-Reza Sheybani, in a meeting with Lebanon military commander General Michele Soleyman in Beirut on Saturday, expressed Iran's readiness to equip the Lebanese army with advanced air defenses.
    Gen. Soleyman said Lebanese military support of the resistance [Hizballah] in Lebanon was one of the factors in the resistance's victory.

Battle of Beit Hanoun Adds Legend to Palestinian Narrative - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    The siege on Friday of the Al-Nasser Mosque in Beit Hanoun will probably become another founding legend in the Palestinian narrative.
    Dozens of women went out to the mosque, dressed the 60 militants hiding in it in dresses and veils, and extracted them from the Israeli siege.
    "We did not want to kill civilians," a senior IDF Southern Command officer said. "We preferred to let some wanted men escape safely, if the price [of nabbing them] was a mass killing of civilians."
    Nobody will ask why dozens of women risked their lives for a group of armed gunmen, who are directly responsible for the catastrophe taking place in Beit Hanoun.

PA Weapons Enter Through Egyptian Port (Middle East Newsline)
    Israeli officials said many of the weapons ordered by the Hamas-led PA stem from Sudan's Darfour region.
    "The weapons to the Palestinians are brought in through Egyptian ports and El Arish and are imported by land from Sudan," said Yuval Steinitz, deputy chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
    "There is no way that the Egyptian government is not colluding with the weapons shippers."
    Steinitz said Egypt regards Hamas and other Palestinian insurgency groups as a key asset in the Arab confrontation against Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iraqi Court Sentences Saddam Hussein to Death by Hanging - John F. Burns and Kirk Semple
    Three and a half years after American troops captured Baghdad and ended the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi court set up to judge the brutalities of his 24 years in power found him guilty on Sunday of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to death by hanging. An automatic appeal of the death sentence will delay it, but some Iraqi judicial officials held out the possibility that Hussein could go to the gallows before next spring. (New York Times)
        See also Hussein Trial Was Reasonably Fair and Verdict Was Justified, Legal Experts Say - Julia Preston (New York Times)
        See also Saddam Hussein Death Sentence a Milestone - Scott Peterson (Christian Science Monitor)
        See also The Trial of Saddam Hussein (Washington Post)
  • Unexploded Hizballah Rockets Pose Risk in Israel
    Israeli bomb disposal units are combing the north of the country for unexploded Hizballah rockets left over from the recent conflict. Hizballah fired 4,000 rockets at Israel - including more than 100 cluster bombs. "There's an unexploded ordnance problem in Israel and no one wants to talk about it," said Mark Regev, spokesman for Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Hizballah rockets were packed with thousands of lethal 5mm ball bearings that fired out at high velocity upon impact across a distance of 200 meters, according to doctors who attended to the dead and wounded during the war. (Reuters)
  • Syria Hints at Armed Conflict with Israel - Albert Aji
    Syria could resort to armed resistance if peace negotiations do not lead to Israel's return of the Golan Heights, Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal said Sunday. Israel has brushed off calls to restart peace talks, saying Syria must first clamp down on the radical Palestinian groups it hosts. (AP/Forbes)
  • Six Arab States Join Rush to Go Nuclear - Richard Beeston
    The specter of a nuclear race in the Middle East was raised Friday when six Arab states announced they were embarking on programs to master atomic technology. The countries involved were named by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia. Tunisia and the UAE have also shown interest. All want to build civilian nuclear energy programs. But the sudden rush to nuclear power has raised suspicions that the real intention is to acquire nuclear technology which could be used for the first Arab atomic bomb.
        Mark Fitzpatrick, an expert on nuclear proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said that it was clear that the sudden drive for nuclear expertise was to provide the Arabs with a "security hedge." "If Iran was not on the path to a nuclear weapons capability you would probably not see this sudden rush [in the Arab world]," he said. (Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Nine Rockets Fired by Palestinians Hit Israel Sunday - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians fired four rockets on Sunday evening from the northern Gaza Strip toward Israel. One rocket landed near Kibbutz Erez, and one man was hurt by shrapnel. Two rockets landed near Kibbutz Yad Mordechai. Earlier Sunday, five Kassam rockets landed in the western Negev, with one rocket landing dozens of meters from Sderot's outdoor market. (Ynet News)
        See also Seven Rockets Fired by Palestinians Hit Israel Saturday - Shmulik Haddad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired seven Kassam rockets at Israel on Saturday. Six rockets landed in open fields, while a seventh scored a direct hit on a house. (Ynet News)
        See also below Observations: Israeli Cabinet: We Do Not Intend to Countenance Continued Palestinian Rocket Barrages Against Israeli Communities (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • IDF Operation in Gaza Targets Rocket Crews - Hanan Greenberg
    As the IDF operation in Gaza continued, army officials have expressed satisfaction with the results so far. At least seven Kassam rocket cells were hit in the course of, or immediately following, launching rockets at Israel. An IDF Southern Command officer said, "We notice that Kassam launchers are moving southward, to less effective areas, and this stems from our activity." A senior IDF officer said that the operation had severely damaged Hamas' Kassam-launching infrastructure in northern Gaza, particularly in the areas of production and transportation. (Ynet News)
  • Israel: Hamas Responsible for Bloodshed in Gaza - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
    Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said Sunday that Hamas and not Israel bore responsibility for the bloodshed in the current Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza. "Who has the moral right to come to us with complaints?" Sneh told Army Radio. "After the IDF left Gaza, these terrorists turned Beit Hanoun into a base for launching rockets solely at a civilian population [in Israel]." "All those who are crying out should be directing that cry at Hamas, and not at us," he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Islamic Jihad Murders Four Palestinians in Gaza - Ali Waked
    Gunmen from the al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad's military wing, claimed Sunday they had kidnapped and murdered four Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel in the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun. The gunmen said the four were captured while neutralizing explosive devices. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • What Will a Prisoner Exchange with the Palestinians Look Like? - Danny Rubinstein
    Last Tuesday Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit announced details regarding the deal that is developing with respect to releasing kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Palestinian sources have published details concerning the identities of the prisoners to be released. Apart from women and youths, the group is primarily comprised of about 360 prisoners incarcerated in Israel since before the Oslo Accords. Most are defined as having "blood on their hands." They are all considered heroes by the Palestinian public and their release will be accompanied by large-scale celebrations. And who will receive credit for such a grand victory? Hamas leader Khaled Meshal.
        The Israeli government, obviously, does not want this to happen. Also the U.S. and other nations, including Arab nations, cannot afford such an impressive victory for the Islamic zealots of Hamas. (Ha'aretz)
  • Getting Serious About Iran: For Regime Change - Amir Taheri
    In the words of Muhammad-Mahdi Pour-Fatemi, a member of the Islamic Majlis, Iran today is passing through "the deepest crisis our nation has experienced in decades." Because of "policies that have produced nothing but grief for our nation," Pour-Fatemi has courageously said, "the Islamic Republic today is isolated." The fall in value of the Iranian currency - despite rising oil revenues - and the massive increase in the rate of unemployment over the past two years signal an economic crisis already heralded by double-digit inflation.
        Ahmadinejad is now desperate to provoke a mini-conflict with the U.S. to divert attention from the gathering storm inside Iran. At the same time, he is raising the "wipe-Israel-off-the-map" banner, lately all but abandoned by most Arab leaders, in the hope of winning a position of leadership for his Shiite theocracy - something otherwise unthinkable to the Sunni majority in the Islamic world.
        Accelerating the collapse and replacement of this aberrant tyranny, a curse to the Iranian people and to the world, will strike a blow against anti-Western and anti-democratic forces all over the globe, safeguard America's strategic interests in the Middle East and beyond, and add another radiant page to the almanac of American support for the cause of freedom. (Commentary Magazine)
  • Observations:

    Israeli Cabinet: We Do Not Intend to Countenance Continued Palestinian Rocket Barrages Against Israeli Communities (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    • Prime Minister Olmert told the Cabinet Sunday: "For the last few days IDF forces have been operating in the Gaza Strip, primarily in the Beit Hanoun area. The aim of this action is to diminish Kassam [rocket] attacks on southern Israel and to halt terrorist actions and attempted actions against Israel."
    • "The main strikes are against Islamic Jihad and Hamas infrastructures and armed personnel, who are constantly trying to perpetrate terrorist attacks. We have informed the world that we do not intend to countenance continued Kassam rocket barrages against Sderot and other surrounding Israeli communities. We will take the necessary measures to significantly diminish them and prevent terrorist operations."
    • "We have no intention of either remaining in, or occupying, Gaza. But we do intend to put a halt to terrorism from Gaza and we will continue until our goals have been achieved."
    • Defense Minister Peretz said that last Friday the IDF took control of the Beit Hanoun district and begin to carry out arrests, locate stores of war materiel, and strike at armed persons. It seems that the terrorists in Beit Hanoun were surprised by the scope and strength of the IDF action.
    • He made it clear that Israel will not allow Hamas and the other terrorist organizations to gain strength and engage in terrorism, and will do its utmost to prevent attacks on civilians and communities in the areas of Israel nearest the Gaza Strip.
    • The Beit Hanoun district had become a center from which missiles were fired at Israeli territory and Israel had no choice but to deal with the terrorist infrastructure there.
          See also Beit Hanoun: A Hub of Terrorist Activity (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
          See also Video of IDF Operations in Gaza (Israel Defense Forces)

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