Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 14, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Tests Advanced Centrifuges with Uranium Gas - Mark Heinrich (Reuters/ Washington Post)
    Iran has introduced small amounts of uranium gas into advanced centrifuges in a further step towards gaining the means to develop atom bombs if it chooses.
    An EU diplomat said the move was a "stunning rejection" of repeated UN Security Council demands that Iran suspend sensitive nuclear activity.
    Diplomats familiar with UN nuclear inspections disclosed last week that Iran had begun test-feeding token quantities of uranium "UF6" gas into "new generation" centrifuges at the Natanz enrichment complex.

Report: Nasrallah's Political Deputy Also Killed in Damascus Blast (Jerusalem Post)
    Haj Hussein Khalil, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah's political deputy, also died in the Damascus blast that killed Imad Mughniyeh, the Iranian FARS agency reported Wednesday.

U.S. Learns from Israel-Hizbullah War - Tom Vanden Brook (USA Today)
    Senior Pentagon officials are using a classified Army study by the Center for Army Analysis on the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah to retool the U.S. military's combat strategy for future wars.
    That means focusing on heavy armor, such as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles; more body armor; and unmanned aircraft that can monitor enemy activity and fire missiles at enemy fighters.

17 Danish Newspapers Print Mohammed Cartoon (AFP)
    At least 17 Danish newspapers printed a controversial cartoon of Prophet Mohammed Wednesday, vowing to defend freedom of expression a day after police foiled a murder plot against cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

Gaza Smugglers Ready to Resume Work - Diaa Hadid (AP/Washington Post)
    Gaza's tunnel smugglers are getting back to business after a forced break during the Gaza-Egypt border breach.
    Smuggler Abu Diya and his cohorts in Rafah said they'll resume operations once it makes economic sense, probably in about three weeks.
    Abu Diya said Hamas hauled in tons of new weapons and explosives during the breach.
    Gaza smugglers said Egyptian guards can be bribed, and many were before the break.
    "There's too many people interested in keeping the tunnels open. There's too much money to be made," one tunnel owner said.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Welcomes Death of Hizbullah Commander
    The U.S. on Wednesday applauded the killing of Hizbullah leader Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus. "The world is a better place without this man in it. He was a cold-blooded killer, a mass murderer and a terrorist responsible for countless innocent lives lost," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. "One way or another he was brought to justice." White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said: "This was an individual indicted in U.S. courts. He was clearly a bad actor." (Reuters)
        See also below Observations: Dead in Damascus - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
  • Russia Warns Iran on Missiles, Uranium Enrichment
    Russia warned Iran on Wednesday that its development of rockets and continued uranium enrichment was creating the impression Tehran was intentionally ignoring the concerns of the international community. "We do not approve of Iran's actions in constantly demonstrating its intentions to develop its rocket sector and continue enriching uranium," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. "From the point of view of international law these actions are not forbidden, but you can also not ignore that in previous years a whole host of problems were uncovered in Iran's nuclear program." (Reuters)
  • Rice: U.S. "Not Satisfied" with Egyptian Efforts to Stop Smuggling Tunnels
    Egypt is falling short in its efforts to stop Palestinians from trafficking weapons to Gaza through tunnels from Egypt, Secretary of State Rice told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday. "I think it is fair to say that we have not been satisfied with Egypt's efforts on the tunnels, but that in fact those tunnels have been there for a long time and it has been hard to stop smuggling," Rice said. "We are in conversations with the Egyptians and the Israelis about how that might be done better." (AFP)
  • U.S. Expands Sanctions on Syria
    The White House on Wednesday issued an order expanding sanctions against Syria imposed in 2004, saying the nation's leaders have engaged in a pattern of violating human rights in their own country and harmed the peace and stability of other nations in the region, including Iraq. The 2004 sanctions banned U.S. exports to Syria, except for food and medicine, allowed the U.S. Treasury Department to seize the property of Syrians involved in terrorism, and banned flights between the U.S. and Syria. (CNN)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Livni: Israel Will Act Against Gaza Terror - Mark Weiss
    Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni made it clear on Wednesday that Israel would act to end the terrorist threat from Gaza. During a tour of the border area with Gaza, Livni told sixty foreign ambassadors and diplomats: "The situation in the region is unbearable, and the threat of terror from Gaza is growing larger from year to year. The problem is not only the Kassam rockets, but also the strengthening of the terror organizations. Israel must act to reduce these threats." (Jerusalem Post)
        "The world must understand the true nature of Hamas. Its actions are not related to occupation, and the fact is that it persists in pursuing terrorism after Israel left Gaza. Hamas is affiliated with extreme Islamic organizations in the region and threatens not only Israel but also the moderates in the Palestinian Authority. We are not naive, and do not believe that political dialogue can provide an answer to this ideology," Livni said. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Palestinian Rocket Hits Sderot Dwelling - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket Wednesday that scored a direct hit on a three-story building in Sderot, causing damage. Several people suffered from shock. A resident of the building said the rocket caused damage inside the apartment where a newlywed couple lives. "By chance they arrived at their apartment a few minutes after the rocket fell and were amazed to see what happened inside. It's a miracle that nothing happened to them." (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hizbullah's Mughniyeh: Not Everyone Is Replaceable - Amir Oren
    Mughniyeh's assassination will challenge the myth that "everyone can be replaced." This myth aims to keep Israel and other countries from targeting senior figures in terrorist organizations, under the theory that there is no point in taking such action if it further enrages the masses and stokes their determination to rally to the cause. Moreover, sometimes the successor is more effective and worse for Israel than his predecessor. The standard example is the killing of Hizbullah leader Abbas Musawi 16 years ago. If Musawi was trouble, his successor, Hassan Nasrallah, is worse trouble.
        Judging from the behavior of Nasrallah and Mughniyeh, we can conclude that they doubted the assumption that they are replaceable. Whoever decided to murder Lebanese leaders Bashir Gemeyal and Rafik Hariri did not avoid such attacks because other leaders would have filled their spot. The murderers assumed, justifiably, that the quality of the original cannot be imitated. Mughniyeh belonged to the blacklist of arch-terrorists whose organizations will find it very difficult to replace them. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Must End Attacks on Israel - Editorial
    If the terrorists of Hamas were firing lethal rockets into any country besides Israel, howls of outrage would rise from every corner of the world. The double standard is immoral and unacceptable, just as Hamas' rocket attacks on Israel's civilian communities like Sderot are increasingly intolerable. Since Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza in 2005, more than 4,000 rocket and mortar shells have been fired at Israel, 420 this year alone. Homes, buildings, roads and power lines have been destroyed. The number of wounded Israelis, terrorized civilians and traumatized children rises by the day. Backed by Syria and Iran, Hamas is determined to prevent Israel from reaching a peace deal with Palestinians on the West Bank.
        Meanwhile, the world looks the other way, but Israelis can't afford to. An Israeli ground invasion of Gaza would clearly be a last resort, but what are the choices? All nations have a right to self-defense. When Israel exercises this right, as it eventually must, barring an end to attacks from Gaza, no one should be surprised. (Miami Herald)
  • Hamas Must Stand Down - Osama Al-Sharif
    Hamas is looking increasingly like a spent force. Hamas is slowly turning into a liability for all Palestinians, putting its own political interests above those of its besieged people. One could sympathize with claims that the coup that Hamas carried out in the summer of last year came to pre-empt a certain conspiracy by a Fatah leader, Mohammad Dahlan, and the CIA to topple the movement and create a new power system in Gaza. But today Hamas has lost the moral high ground, and its intransigence to keep control of Gaza at any cost is dangerous, if not suicidal.
        Few could find excuses for the movement's decision to raise the ante with Israel and provoke a series of reactions that could include a complete invasion and reoccupation of Gaza. Hamas has rejected offers to reopen the international crossing points in accordance with signed agreements and treaties. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • Observations:

    Dead in Damascus - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)

    • Before Osama bin Laden took the spotlight, Mughniyeh was probably the world's most wanted and elusive terrorist, a man with an FBI price tag of $5 million on his head. He masterminded some of Hizbullah's deadliest attacks in the 1980s and 1990s, including:
      • The 241 U.S. Marines and 58 French soldiers who died in the 1983 truck bombings in Beirut along with 63 civilians, including 17 Americans, who died in the simultaneous bombing of the U.S. embassy there.
      • Robert Stethem, the Navy diver whose beaten body was left on the tarmac during the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847.
      • William Buckley, the CIA station chief in Beirut who was kidnapped, tortured and killed in the mid-1980s.
      • Twenty-nine people who died in the 1992 bombing of Israel's embassy in Buenos Aires and 85 more killed in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish Center in Buenos Aires.
    • Mughniyeh died in a car bombing, probably orchestrated by the Mossad, though Israel denies it. It'd be nice to think the CIA was up to this, but we have our doubts.

          See also Mughniyeh Directed Execution of U.S. Peace Envoy in Beirut - Sara A. Carter and Bill Gertz
      A classified Defense Intelligence Agency report stated that Mughniyeh "was in charge of the execution" of Marine Corps Col. William Higgins, who was captured by Hizbullah terrorists while serving the UN on a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon in 1988. (Washington Times)

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