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December 10, 2009

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Hamas Preparing Advanced Rockets and Tunnels - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel is likely to face advanced Iranian weaponry, long-range rockets, large missile silos, and dozens of kilometers of underground tunnels connecting open fields with urban centers in the event of a future conflict with Hamas in Gaza, according to the latest Israeli assessments.
    Since the Gaza operation almost a year ago, Hamas has smuggled in dozens of long-range Iranian-made rockets that can reach Tel Aviv, as well as advanced anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank missiles.
    Hamas is believed to have a significant number of Konkur anti-tank missiles, with a range of four km. and capable of penetrating heavy armor.
    In addition, Hamas is believed to have several hundred rockets with a range of 40 km. and several dozen with a range of 60-80 km.
    Hamas is believed to have taken control of 80% of the mosques in Gaza, using them to store weapons and set up command-and-control centers. Hamas used mosques quite extensively in the past for storage and launching rockets.
    Hamas has recently increased its efforts to dig what the IDF calls "offensive tunnels" close to the border with Israel in order to infiltrate into Israel and kidnap soldiers.

The Naval Arena in the Struggle Against Iran - Yoel Guzansky (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
    The seizure of the ship carrying weapons from Iran to Syria (intended apparently for Hizbullah via Syria) in November revealed something of the scope of the struggle between Iran and Israel on the high seas.
    The option of operating at sea allows Israel to refine its deterrent and offensive capabilities with regard to Iran and would allow the West to impose crippling sanctions on Iran if and when the need arises.
    In the next battle Israel can expect most of its air force bases and airfields to be exposed to long-range rocket and surface-to-surface missile fire over time and in ranges greater than ever before, and the importance of maritime activity will rise. Israel must adhere to a policy that de facto expands its strategic borders.

Palestinians Fake Cancer to Flee Blockaded Gaza - Diaa Hadid (AP)
    Several thousand Palestinians have succeeded in fleeing Gaza this year using bribes and fake medical reports.
    Of more than 7,000 Gazans who crossed into Israel this year to seek medical treatment, some 500 haven't returned, said Col. Moshe Levi, an Israeli defense official.
    One Fatah loyalist, a healthy 30-year-old woman, said she was desperate to leave Gaza after being harassed by Hamas officials. She bribed a Gaza doctor to certify she had "whatever cancer could only be treated in Israel."
    The doctor then paid off a physician serving on a Palestinian committee that certifies medical reports for Israeli military officials. She eventually succeeded in reaching the West Bank.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • EU Tries to Coax Palestinians Back to Talks with Israel - Douglas Hamilton
    The 27-member European Union this week went as far as it diplomatically dared to encourage the Palestinians to resume peace talks with Israel that have been suspended for a year. On Tuesday, EU foreign ministers reaffirmed their belief that Jerusalem must become a shared capital in any deal to create a Palestinian state alongside Israel. "It was the hope that this statement would give support to the Palestinians to resume negotiations, that was an ambition," said an EU official.
        While a draft statement by Sweden would have gone much further to endorse the Palestinian claim to East Jerusalem, Israel mounted a pre-emptive diplomatic bid last week to banish the proposed tougher language. Sweden had "tried to steal the show" but other EU states stopped it, said Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday. EU member Germany explained that it could not endorse a statement that would impose the shape of a Palestinian state, explicitly naming an East Jerusalem capital. In fact, the EU official said, "the Swedes always knew their proposal was going to be watered down."  (Reuters)
  • Pakistan Arrests Five U.S. Muslims - Jerry Markon
    Five Muslim men from the Washington area were arrested near Lahore in Pakistan on Monday at the home of a man linked to a radical jihadist group, and Pakistani authorities are questioning them about possible links to terrorism, diplomatic and law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The arrests came at a time of growing concern about homegrown terrorism after the recent shootings at Fort Hood, Tex., and charges filed this week against a Chicago man accused of playing a role in last year's terrorist attacks in Mumbai. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Congress Concerned over Anti-Americanism on TV in Mideast
    The U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday voted 395-3 to ask the president to report to Congress on incitement to anti-American violence on television networks in the Middle East. "For years, media outlets in the Middle East have repeatedly published or broadcast incitements to violence against the United States and Americans," the bill read. "Given the dangers such incitement poses to American soldiers and civilians in the...region and at home, it is long past time for the U.S. and other responsible nations to stop this growing threat," said Republican Gus Bilirakis, author of the bill. It calls for punitive measures for networks deemed to be fueling terror. Among the networks mentioned are Al-Aqsa, Hamas' television station, which broadcasts from Gaza, and Hizbullah's Al-Manar. (AFP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu: PA Has Adopted a Strategy of Rejecting Negotiations
    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the security cabinet Wednesday: "It seems that the Palestinians have adopted a strategy of rejecting negotiations with Israel in order to avoid the demands of Israel and the international community which require compromises on their part. But this is a mistake. There can be no genuine solution without direct negotiations with Israel."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • U.S. Urges Saudis to Back Negotiations - Hilary Leila Krieger
    Top U.S. officials pressed Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal to support Palestinians in holding peace talks with the Israelis, during his visit to the State Department Monday, a senior U.S. official told the Jerusalem Post. The official stressed that the Obama administration had moved beyond a focus on gestures from the parties to creating momentum for a resumption in peace talks. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Senior Islamic Jihad Terrorist Arrested in Nablus - Hanan Greenberg
    Senior Islamic Jihad operative Salah Muhammad Bukhari, wanted by Israel for seven years, was arrested in Nablus on Monday. Bukhari drove two suicide bombers to the Tel Aviv bus station in January 2002, where 28 Israelis were injured. He was also involved in making explosive devices and car bombs. Bukhari was one of the last terrorists left on the Israel Security Agency's most wanted list of those who had direct involvement in terror attacks in the early 2000s. (Ynet News/IDF)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The End of the Peace Process - Elliott Abrams and Michael Singh
    If the international community wishes to contribute to a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it must stop trying to apply small solutions to big problems. Those problems - the destabilizing activities of Iran and its proxies, the lack of progress toward a viable economy and competent self-government in the Palestinian territories, and the need for movement toward a sustainable security architecture for the Middle East - dramatize both the need and opportunity for international involvement. Elliott Abrams, until recently a deputy national security adviser, is a senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Michael Singh is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (World Affairs Journal)
  • Iran's Democratic Moment - Amir Taheri
    The official calendar of the Islamic Republic of Iran includes 22 days during which the regime organizes massive public demonstrations to flex its muscles. Since the presidential election last June, the pro-democracy movement has used the official days to undermine the regime. On Jerusalem Day, Sept. 18, officially intended to express anti-Semitism, the opposition showed that Iranians have no hostility toward Jews or Israel. One popular slogan was "Forget about Palestine! Think about our Iran!"
        Most significantly, the slogans of the protestors are no longer about election fraud. Today they include "Iranian Republic, Not Islamic Republic!" In short, the protestors no longer regard the present regime as the legitimate government of the country. The democracy movement is in no mood for deals with "Supreme Guide" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Demonstrators burn his effigies, tear up posters showing his image, and chant "Khamenei is a murderer!"  (Wall Street Journal)
  • West Bank Security and Prosperity - Will It Last? - Alan Johnston
    I had often interviewed men like Abu Ahmed, but what was different this time was the way he spoke when we talked of the future and he explained why he had put down his gun. He gave every impression of having been ground down by the conflict. Abu Ahmed described what it had meant to live on the Israeli army's wanted list. "There was fear 24 hours a day. You might be only moments from death or jail." Like many militants in the West Bank city of Nablus over the past two years, Abu Ahmed has taken advantage of an amnesty program worked out between Israel and the PA.
        To the Israel Defense Forces, this looks like victory, but the situation was reversible, said IDF Lt.-Col. Avi Shalev. Indeed, nowhere in Nablus was there any real optimism that the calm would last. The writer, a BBC journalist, was held captive in Gaza for four months in 2007. (Observer-UK)
  • Observations:

    An Inconvenient Truth - Andrew Roberts (Spectator-UK)

    • For all the undoubted statesmanship implicit in Arthur Balfour's Declaration of November 1917, promising "a National Home for the Jewish People" doesn't mean that Britain has ever been much more than a fair-weather friend to Jewish national aspirations.
    • There was the notorious 1939 White Paper, which severely limited Jewish immigration into Palestine at precisely the period of their greatest need, during the Final Solution. A total upper limit of 75,000 Jewish immigrants was set for the fateful years 1940-44, a figure that was also intended to cover refugee emergencies. The White Paper was published on 9 November 1938, the very same day as the Kristallnacht atrocities in Germany. The Manchester Guardian described the White Paper as "a death sentence on tens of thousands of Central European Jews," which in sheer numerical terms was probably an underestimation.
    • In April 1948, Transjordan's Arab Legion was actually commanded by a Briton, Sir John Glubb. On New Year's Eve 1948, the British government actually issued an ultimatum to Israel threatening war if Israel did not halt its counter-attacks on Egyptian forces in Gaza and Sinai. Britain was the only country in the UN that came to Egypt's aid in this regard.
    • Although Her Majesty the Queen has made over 250 official overseas visits to 129 different countries during her reign, neither she nor one single member of the British royal family has ever been to Israel on an official visit - even though Prince Philip's mother, Princess Alice of Greece, who was recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" for sheltering a Jewish family in her Athens home during the Holocaust, was buried on the Mount of Olives. As an act of delegitimization of Israel, this official boycott of royal visits is the direct fault of British Foreign Office Arabists.
    • William Hague, the shadow Foreign Secretary, called for Israel to adopt a proportionate response in its struggle with Hizbullah in Lebanon in 2007, as though proportionate responses ever won any victories against fascists. In the Second World War, the Luftwaffe killed 50,000 Britons in the Blitz, and the Allied response was to kill 600,000 Germans - twelve times the number and hardly a proportionate response, but one that contributed mightily to victory. Who are we therefore to lecture the Israelis on how proportionate their responses should be?

      The writer is a British historian and author of numerous books including A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900.

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