Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 11, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF: Hizbullah Missiles Deployed in South Lebanon - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Hizbullah has deployed large numbers of Katyusha rockets and antitank missiles in Shi'ite villages in southern Lebanon south of the Litani River, undetected by UN observers, senior Israel Defense Forces officials say.
    New missiles sent by Iran are capable of striking targets south of the Tel Aviv area, army officials say.
    In addition, Hizbullah has sent groups of agents disguised as media teams to film IDF activity along the Israeli border.

PA Rocket Fire Escalating - Yaakov Katz and Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    Public Security Minister Avi Dichter told Sunday's cabinet meeting that in the first five weeks of 2008, Gazans had fired 330 rockets at Israel, one-third of what they had fired in all of 2007.
    Last weekend alone 40 rockets were launched, of which 14 struck Sderot, Dichter said.

Hamas Court Halts Distribution of PA Daily in Gaza (AFP)
    A Hamas court has banned the distribution in Gaza of the Al-Ayyam newspaper, which is published in the West Bank and is considered close to the rival Palestinian Authority, officials from the daily said on Sunday.
    The paper's editor, Abdelnasser Annajar, said the decision "proves that Hamas refuses to accept others and that they continue to prevent the freedom of the press."
    He said the court ruling came in response to a complaint by several Hamas members of parliament over a published cartoon that they said portrayed them in an unflattering light.
    The cartoon's author, Paha Bokhari, said, "They considered that I drew them as monkeys. I didn't draw them as monkeys. If they see themselves as monkeys, that's their problem."

Italian Book Fair's Plans to Honor Israel Lead to Protests - Elisabetta Povoledo (New York Times)
    The selection of Israel as guest of honor at this spring's International Book Fair in Turin has set off a furious debate among Italian, Israeli and Arab authors and intellectuals, including calls to boycott the event.
    On Tuesday, a small group of protesters associated with a local pro-Palestinian group stormed the book fair offices in Turin, demanding that the invitation to Israel be rescinded.
    Israel's literature is popular in Italy, and about 70 Israeli authors are translated into Italian.

Arab Clan Chiefs Meet with Settlers in Hebron - Efrat Weiss (Ynet News)
    Heads of local Palestinian clans in Hebron met on Sunday with representatives from Israeli settlements in the area and discussed the easing of tensions between the two sides.
    Sheikhs Abu Khader Jabri and Haj Abu Ahram Abu Sneina representing the city's Arab Muslim population met in Jabri's home with Kiryat Arba Regional Council head Zvi Katzover and other settler leaders.
    The Israelis said Sheikh Jabri told them that "I do not regard you as settlers but as residents. This city is yours just as much as it is ours."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israeli Boy, Brother Injured by Rockets - Laurie Copans
    An 8-year-old boy and his older brother were seriously wounded Saturday when a rocket fired by Palestinians from Gaza slammed into the Israeli town of Sderot. The younger boy's legs were at least partially severed by the explosion, Israel's Army Radio reported. His 19-year-old brother was also badly hurt. (AP)
        See also Boy Injured by Palestinian Rocket Loses Leg - Shmulik Hadad
    Doctors at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon were forced Sunday to amputate part of the left leg of Osher Tuito, 8, who was seriously injured in a rocket attack in Sderot on Saturday. "We are trying to keep the second leg, but it's also in bad condition," said Dr. Emil Chai, the hospital's deputy director-general. "Apart from that, he has a hole in his chest and his lungs are injured."  (Ynet News)
        Osher, who dreamed of becoming a soccer player, does not know yet that he has lost one of his legs. He remains under total sedation so he doesn't suffer from severe pain. Staffers at Barzilai Medical Center were themselves traumatized by Osher's suffering, as he was conscious upon arrival at the trauma room and repeatedly screamed "Save me!" (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Protests to UN Over Gaza Rocket Fire (AFP)
  • Terror Threat from Pakistan Said to Expand - Elaine Sciolino
    Asim had been sent to Spain to be a suicide bomber, but he also was an informant for French intelligence working in the no man's land of Waziristan in Pakistan. He told Spanish investigators the largely Pakistani terrorism cell members recently arrested in Barcelona envisioned a wave of spectacular attacks: Coordinated suicide bombings would start in the city's subway system and then sweep through Portugal, Germany, France and Britain if certain demands were not met. "The jihadi threat from Pakistan is the biggest emerging threat we are facing in Europe," said Judge Baltasar Garzon, Spain's highest anti-terrorism magistrate. "Pakistan is an ideological and training hotbed for jihadists, and they are being exported here."
        Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, told the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, "We had 20 terrorists show up in Spain that had been trained in Pakistan that were going to be suicide bombers, fanning out over Europe." Three suspects identified as would-be suicide bombers arrived from Pakistan through other European cities: one via Sweden, a second via Germany, and a third via Portugal. (New York Times)
  • Diary of an Al-Qaeda in Iraq Insurgent in Retreat - Sudarsan Raghavan
    On Nov. 3, U.S. soldiers raided a safe house of the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq and captured a diary. "I am Abu Tariq, Emir of al-Layin and al-Mashadah Sector," it began. Over 16 pages, the al-Qaeda in Iraq leader detailed the organization's demise in his sector. He once had 600 men, but now his force was down to 20 or fewer. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Egyptians Have Changed Their Attitude Toward Gaza Border Chaos, U.S. Tells Israel - Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff
    Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch visited Egypt, Israel and the PA last week and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to visit the region shortly. Welch said that the breaching of the Gaza-Egypt border wall by Hamas has led to a significant change in Egypt's attitude. He said the Egyptians are now more ready than ever to cooperate to change the situation at the border as well as combat smuggling there. (Ha'aretz)
  • Egypt Grills Arabs Who Entered Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Egyptian authorities have begun questioning hundreds of foreign Arabs who entered Gaza after the border was breached, and then returned to Sinai. Some 2,000 foreigners, mostly Egyptians, are believed to have entered Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Is the "Armed Resistance" Dying Down? - Zvi Bar'el
    In a sharply critical commentary in Al-Hayat, Majed Kialy wrote, "Somewhere along the way, the Palestinians have lost sight of the real cause." Hamas' "grandiose" objective of "liberating all the land which was occupied in 1948" is unachievable. "Instead of making the withdrawal from Gaza a national achievement, it has become a liability for the Palestinian national project," he says. Hamas has "increased its military might within Palestinian society, but has diminished its capacity to act against Israel." "These facts require courage and self-criticism especially on the part of Hamas' leadership, who must tell the people with all honesty that the armed resistance is dying down." This is an internal Palestinian debate that does not usually reach Israeli ears. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • What Is Israel to Do? Ignore the Attacks? - David A. Harris
    Israel withdrew all its forces and civilians from Gaza more than two years ago. It created the first opportunity in Gaza's history for self-governance. Never before, certainly not during Egyptian military rule till 1967, did local residents have their fate in their own hands. Those who predicted that governance would moderate the Hamas message were proven wrong. And those in capitals from Moscow to Riyadh who believed they could talk sense to Hamas had little to show for their efforts.
        Israel faces an Iranian-financed franchise on its border. Since Israel left Gaza, literally thousands of rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli towns and villages have occurred. What is Israel to do? Ignore the attacks? Turn the other cheek? Some would have Israel negotiate with Hamas, but over what? If the other party does not recognize your right to exist, what is there to discuss? The timetable for your own destruction? Others propose a hudna, or temporary truce. But if the outcome is to allow Hamas to strengthen its terrorist infrastructure, much as Hizbullah did in southern Lebanon after Israel's unilateral withdrawal in 2000, then Hamas, not Israel, benefits.
        Hamas wants to use Gaza as a launching pad against Israel, while seeking protection from the international community. That gives new meaning to the word chutzpah. To protect the possibility of peace, the international community mustn't let Hamas get away with it. The writer is executive director of the American Jewish Committee. (Miami Herald)
  • Gaza's Factions Take Their Fight to Elementary School Playgrounds - Peter Beaumont
    The four armed men who assaulted eight-year-old Shahab al-Akhras on a street corner in Rafah for wearing the black-and-white checked scarf associated with Fatah were wearing the uniforms of Hamas' Executive Force, Fatah's deadly rival. "They said that if they saw me wearing the scarf again they would shoot me in the legs," said the boy. The internal struggle between the Islamist Hamas and Fatah in Gaza is now over Gaza's children. "There is a preoccupation among the children about the issue of who is Hamas and who is Fatah," said Iyad Sarraj, a Palestinian psychologist.
        The children of Fatah families in particular, who saw fathers, brothers and uncles defeated by Hamas last June, are taking responsibility for the adult world. They fly the yellow Fatah flag on their bicycles to taunt the gunmen of the Executive Force, on occasion riding in gangs through Hamas demonstrations. They sometimes throw stones and insults, shouting "Shia!" at Hamas members. Ghazi Hamid, a former spokesman for Hamas, says, "I have never seen such splits in Palestinian society. Such hatred. And it really worries me. I have eight children and they talk about what goes on in school. The children abuse each other over what party they say they follow." (Observer-UK)
  • Observations:

    Restraint Is Not Possible - Editorial (Ha'aretz)

    • The firing of Kassam rockets against Sderot and the nearby kibbutzim is not stopping and is extracting a heavy price in terms of fear and blood. Responsibility for the shooting from Gaza, which has been going on for seven years, falls on the Palestinians. Were it not for the shooting, Israel would not respond. For the past eight months Hamas has ruled Gaza alone, and it is no longer possible to explain away the shooting as due to a lack of control over rogue organizations.
    • Are the West Bank and Gaza still one entity, aspiring to establish an independent state alongside Israel? Is it possible that in all situations, Israel will hold negotiations for the establishment of such a state while Hamas is shooting at it? Israel left Gaza in the summer 2005 to signal the start of an end to the occupation. The ball passed to the Palestinian court, where it has been stuck after the Palestinians elected Hamas, which opposes a peace agreement with Israel.
    • If the limited military actions Israel is undertaking in an effort to bring an end to the Kassam rockets will not bring an end to the shooting; if the moderate states, and first and foremost Egypt and Jordan, fail to contain Hamas - Israel will have no option but to embark on a broad military operation.
    • The Israel Defense Forces raison d'etre is to protect the country's citizens from attack. Israel must prove that the blood of its citizens cannot be forfeited - so that in the future, its neighbors will abide by the agreements to which they have committed.

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