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March 5, 2010

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UK Unlikely to Amend War Crime Arrest Law in Near Future - Herb Keinon and Jonny Paul (Jerusalem Post)
    Britain's Labor government on Thursday put into motion a parliamentary process that would make it harder to threaten visiting Israelis with arrest on "war crimes" charges, but critics said the government was actually ducking the issue, and that the law would not be changed in the near future.
    Justice Secretary Jack Straw issued a statement saying the government was seeking "views on the proposals" before they could go through the legislation process, and wanted discussions to continue until April 6.
    The Israeli Embassy in London said it welcomed the announcement to consider a change to the law, but recognized that it was unlikely to materialize in the near future.
    "The engine is finally being revved up. However, we are wary that this legislation could easily end up getting stuck in the crawler lane, or perhaps run out of fuel entirely, never to reach its destination," the embassy said.
    See also Plan to Change War Crimes Law Delayed by General Election - Alan Travis and Ian Black (Guardian-UK)

Syria: Israel Must Agree to Withdrawal Before Talks (Ha'aretz)
    Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told the pan-Arab newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat that Israel must first declare its intention to withdraw to the 1967 borders before any kind of Syrian-Israeli talks can take place, Israel Radio reported on Friday.
    Moallem's remark came as a response to statements made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Wednesday that he was prepared to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad immediately and without preconditions.
    The Syrian foreign minister said that there is no point in "putting the cart before the horse," and that "Israel must withdraw from the occupied territories before Syria and Israel can meet."

When It's Necessary and Desirable to Assassinate Terrorists - Barry Rubin (Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya)
    Proposition One: If you truly understand that the terrorist groups are going to try to kill you no matter what you do, it removes the fear of making them angry.
    Proposition Two: If you know the world is going to criticize you no matter what you do, it removes the fear of making them angry.
    That's Israel's situation.

Defending Israel's Heritage - Aron U. Raskas (Baltimore Sun)
    The Israeli government adds two culturally rich, millennium-old historic sites - the Tomb of Rachel and the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs and Matriarchs - to a list of Israel's National Heritage Sites, and riots break out, followed by international condemnation.
    There is no nation with firmer roots in a land than the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.
    The continuing threats and acts of violence each time Israel seeks to take a step that reflects its great historic ties to the land are specifically calculated to deter just such steps.

Another Hit Job by the Financial Times - Marty Peretz (New Republic)
    Hardly a day goes by that the Financial Times doesn't do a hit job on Israel.
    Another FT habit is that the paper simply refuses to name Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It writes about the "government in Tel Aviv." This is not just weird. It is a lie.

Four Convicted for Plot Targeting U.S. Sites in Germany - Melissa Eddy (AP-Washington Post)
    Two German converts to Islam and two Turks were found guilty Thursday of plotting a thwarted attack that a judge said could have killed large numbers of U.S. soldiers and civilians in "a terrible bloodbath."
    The four operated as a German cell of the radical Islamic Jihad Union, a group the U.S. State Department says has ties to Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
    They plotted to attack American soldiers and citizens at facilities including the U.S. Air Force's Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the Duesseldorf state court found.

Iranian Arms Trafficking Operation Exposed in Italy - Richard Owen (Times-UK)
    Five Italians and two Iranians were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of trafficking arms and explosives to Iran.

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Demand for IDF Combat Service at Record High - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
    Some 76% of physically fit, new army recruits in the March draft want to serve in combat units. Last March, demand for service in combat units was 73%.

Majorities in Europe Support Ban on Islamic Burka - James Blitz (Financial Times-UK)
    70% of the French think women should be banned from wearing the all-enveloping Muslim burka in public, according to an opinion poll for the Financial Times.
    57% of Britons say they would support a ban in the UK, as would 65% of Spaniards, 63% of Italians, and 50% of Germans, while only 33% of Americans took this view.

Eurabia Is a Place in Sweden - Daniel Schwammenthal (Wall Street Journal Europe)
    Roughly 20% of Malmo's 290,000 residents are of Muslim, mostly Arab, origin. Their widespread hatred of Israel, together with traditional Swedish anti-Zionism, form an explosive cocktail.
    Screaming "Sieg Heil" and "Hitler, Hitler," a mostly Muslim mob threw bottles and stones at a small group of Jews peacefully demonstrating for Israel at this town's central square last year. Worshipers on their way to synagogue and Jewish kids in schools are routinely accosted as "Dirty Jews."
    Not surprisingly, Malmo's small Jewish community of roughly 700 is getting smaller as families leave town.

Analyzing the Durban II Conference - Interview with Gerald Steinberg by Manfred Gerstenfeld (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    The Durban Review Conference took place in Geneva in April 2009. The Canadian Harper government was the first to announce it would not participate, followed by Israel, the U.S. and other countries. The withdrawals accelerated when Iranian President Ahmadinejad announced his intention to participate.
    The nonparticipation of so many key countries did not result in any renouncement of the anti-Israeli "Durban strategy" adopted at the 2001 NGO Forum. Many UN-sponsored mini-Durbans promoting the indictment of Israel continue to take place, led by the same NGOs active in the Durban I hate-fest.

Useful Reference:

Video - Goldstone: Human Rights Gone Wrong (American Jewish Committee)

The Israeli Field Hospital in Haiti - Ethical Dilemmas in Early Disaster Response - Ofer Merin, Nachman Ash, Gad Levy, Mitchell J. Schwaber, and Yitshak Kreiss (New England Journal of Medicine)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Calls for Further UN Iran Measures - Laura Rozen
    At a meeting of the UN sanctions committee in New York Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice called for consideration of "further measures to hold the Government of Iran accountable." "Since we last met on this issue, our concerns about Iran's nuclear program have only deepened," Rice said. "First, the IAEA Director General's latest report once again concludes that Iran is not complying with its IAEA and Security Council obligations." "Iran's actions fail to provide confidence in the nature of its nuclear program and, importantly, caused the Director General to declare that the IAEA cannot confirm that 'all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.'"
        At least four of the permanent members of the UN Security Council - the U.S., UK, France and Russia - are expected to vote for a new Iran resolution. China is expected to go along with the majority or abstain, as it has on previous votes, diplomats said. (Politico)
        See also U.S. Diplomat: Iran Wants More Enrichment - Tom Evans
    As the U.S. steps up its push for tough new sanctions against Iran, a top American diplomat said Thursday that hopes of a deal with Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions are fading. "What's happening is that Iran is headed in the direction of further provocation, further enrichment," U.S. Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Glyn Davies told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. (CNN)
  • U.S. Seeking to Exempt China from Iran Sanctions - John Pomfret and Colum Lynch
    The Obama administration is pushing to carve out an exemption for China and other permanent members of the UN Security Council from pending legislation that would tighten sanctions on companies doing business in Iran, administration and congressional sources said. The administration's plan appears to be part of a broader strategy to prod Beijing to vote for a new sanctions resolution. But the administration's lobbying for a Chinese exemption has angered several allies, most notably South Korea and Japan, which would not be exempted under the administration's plan. One foreign official complained that the administration's efforts would encourage China to water down UN sanctions on Iran as much as possible and then push Chinese firms to invest more in Iran's oil and gas sector. (Washington Post)
        See also Key UN Security Council Nations Hedging on Calls to Sanction Iran - Colum Lynch
    The U.S. and its allies face resistance to sanctions on Iran not only from China, but from other influential countries on the UN Security Council, principally Brazil, Lebanon and Turkey. (Washington Post)
  • U.S., EU, Urge Syria to Drop Nuclear Secrecy - George Jahn
    Syria on Thursday denied hiding nuclear activities and said Israel was the source of suspicious uranium particles found at a Syrian desert complex bombed two years ago. The comments came in response to Western demands that Damascus stop stonewalling IAEA attempts to investigate suspicions that Syria ran covert nuclear programs - some with possible weapons applications. Syria's refusal to allow IAEA inspectors into the country for follow-up visits to sites possibly linked to secret nuclear work was the principal theme of Thursday's closed IAEA board meeting in Vienna.
        A recent IAEA report said for the first time that uranium particles found at a facility destroyed in September 2007 indicate possible covert nuclear activities. The finding lent backing to Western allegations that the site was a nearly completed nuclear reactor that Washington says was of North Korean design and meant to making weapons-grade plutonium. "Over the past two years we have noticed a troubling pattern in Syria's behavior," said chief U.S. delegate Glyn Davies. "The more evidence the agency uncovers that Syria was engaged in serious safeguards violations, the more Syria has tried to actively hinder the agency's investigation."  (AP-Guardian-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Talks with Palestinians Won't Start Where They Left Off - Herb Keinon
    The indirect "proximity talks" between Israel and the Palestinians likely to begin next week will not pick up where the discussions between then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas broke off in late 2008, the Jerusalem Post has learned. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the Palestinian demand that the talks begin from the point where they ended with Olmert. Olmert offered the Palestinians nearly 94% of the West Bank, a land swap to compensate for most of the rest, an arrangement on Jerusalem, and the return of a small number of refugees into Israel as a "humanitarian gesture." Abbas rejected the offer, telling the Washington Post in May that the gaps were "too wide."
        The proximity talks will not immediately focus on borders, another Palestinian demand, with Israel saying there can be no credible discussion of borders without first knowing what security arrangements will be in place. Netanyahu told the cabinet Thursday, "We welcome the start of talks, even if they are proximity talks. In the end, our goal is to try and reach a peace agreement with our Palestinian neighbors via direct talks, but we have always said that we do not necessarily insist on this format....If this is what is necessary to start the process - Israel is ready."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hamas: Return to Talks a Betrayal of the Nation
    Palestinian Legislative Council deputy speaker Ahmad Bahar of Hamas on Thursday called a return to negotiations with Israel a "waste of the Palestinian cause," saying the outcome of any talks would "not meet any standards of legitimacy." Bahar said a return to talks before Palestinian unity is achieved [with Hamas] would not be recognized by Palestinians. (Maan News-PA)
  • IDF to Release New Findings Defending Gaza War Strike - Anshel Pfeffer
    The Israel Defense Forces will soon release new findings about a strike near the Ibrahim al-Maqadma Mosque during last year's Gaza operation in an effort to refute the Goldstone report which cited this incident as key evidence that Israel deliberately targeted civilians. The IDF report will confirm that the air force struck a target near the mosque, a group of armed Hamas operatives who were near the mosque's entrance.
        Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan Dahoah Halevi, who investigated the Goldstone report's findings for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, found that web sites affiliated with Hamas reported that four of those killed were veteran fighters of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing. One of them, Ahmed Hamad Abu Ita, 25, had been ordered to deploy in accordance with a preexisting Hamas plan, the web site said, and had gone to the mosque to meet with other fighters. Also among the dead were two members of the Al-Quds Battalions, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, and another Hamas member who was 16 and in the group's youth wing. The Hamas reports said that all six of the adults had been involved in attacks on Israel both prior to and during the Gaza operation. (Ha'aretz)
  • "Dubai Passports Impacted UN Vote" - Herb Keinon
    European anger over supposed Israeli misuse of passports to kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai played a "certain role" in shifting EU votes on the Goldstone Report in the UN General Assembly last week, visiting Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak told the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. The Slovak Republic, considered one of Israel's best friends in the EU, originally voted - along with six other EU countries - alongside Israel against endorsing the Goldstone Commission report at the General Assembly in November. In a second vote on the matter on Friday, however, all seven EU countries abstained, and another 10 countries that had abstained in the November vote - including Britain, France, Sweden, Belgium and Finland - voted in favor of an Arab resolution to keep the issue alive. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Iran's Gas Centrifuge Program - David Albright and Christina Walrond
    If Iran wants to produce weapon-grade uranium, it would have an interest in producing 19.75% low-enriched uranium (LEU) from 3.5% LEU. Once Iran has reached 19.75% LEU, it is 90% of the way in terms of enrichment output to weapon-grade uranium. Iran currently possesses slightly more than 2,000 kilograms of 3.5% LEU and only hundreds of grams of 19.75% LEU. The former is sufficient to make enough weapon-grade uranium for one to two nuclear weapons. Calculations show how fast Iran could produce enough weapon-grade for one nuclear weapon if it accumulates sufficient LEU stocks - several months with 3.5% LEU versus a month or less with 19.75% LEU. (Institute for Science and International Security)
  • Countdown to the Iranian Bomb - Ephraim Kam and Ephraim Asculai
    Iran would need 16 months in order to amass enough LEU to be converted into 25 kg of high-enriched uranium (HEU) - an amount that according to IAEA definitions is enough for the core of one nuclear explosive device. If this rate continues and if we take into account the LEU reserves Iran already has, which is more than enough for the first core, by the second half of 2010 Iran will have enough LEU for enrichment to HEU for two cores, and by 2012 - for three. (Strategic Assessment-Institute for National Security Studies)


  • Challenges of Middle East Peace - David Makovsky
    On March 3, Arab foreign ministers gave their support for Abbas to participate in proximity talks. It is impossible for any country to make the most vital decisions without the confidence of dealing directly with the other side. I think the prospect of the Israelis and Palestinians reaching a grand agreement on all the core or so-called final status issues is very unlikely at this time. The four core issues are: the rights of refugees, control of Jerusalem, security, and territory/borders. The first two issues seem unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. It is vital that we concentrate our efforts on areas that are amenable to progress and focus on what is attainable.
        The U.S. is smarting from the fact that the Arab states were supposed to match Israeli moves on settlements with gestures towards Israel, but failed to do anything. The Arab states may say that the settlement moratorium is not 100% of what they would like. No negotiation is what one side wants. Yet, even if they think Netanyahu only moved 70%, they have responded with 0% reciprocity. It is unlikely the U.S. will go down this road again.
        There is a big difference between the U.S. imposing a solution on the parties and the U.S. putting forward a bridging proposal after direct negotiations have brought the parties closer to a deal. It is possible to bridge over a river, but not over an ocean. A U.S. bridging proposal may occur, but only after direct negotiations have been tried in earnest. In short, the U.S. can supplement negotiations but cannot substitute for them. The writer, director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 4. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Who Destroyed the Cinemas in Gaza? - Jonathan Dahoah Halevi
    Five hundred artists from Montreal recently signed a statement "to support the international campaign for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israeli apartheid." Their statement charges: "During the first and second intifadas, Israel invaded, ransacked, and even closed down cinemas, theatres and cultural centers." True, not a single cinema house exists in Gaza, but Hamas - not Israel - is responsible.
        Saud Abu Ramadan, a Palestinian reporter working for the Chinese Xinhua news service, published an interview on July 26, 2009, with Adnan Abu Beid, 57, who used to run the biggest movie house in Gaza city called al-Nasser. In 1994, there were nine movie houses in Gaza. Abu Ramadan notes that the al-Nasser was burned and destroyed by angry Islamic Hamas demonstrators in 1995. Abu Beid said, "I hid my film archives and decided to become a vegetable vendor." He added that his archives "are the only that remained after all the movie houses had either shut down or been destroyed by Hamas" in 1995. "Many people who think about reopening movie houses in Gaza are afraid that it would be attacked, burned and destroyed."
        The first and only movie produced by the Hamas government was "Imad Aqel," which tells the heroic story of a senior Hamas terrorist who was responsible for the killing of 13 Israeli soldiers and civilians. As Reuters reporter Nidal al-Mughrabi noted, "The audience in Gaza clapped and cheered as the actor delivered the movie's most memorable line: 'To kill Israeli soldiers is to worship God.'" It is hard to comprehend how such a large group of Canadian artists speaking the language of human rights are silent about Hamas oppression of any free cultural activity or, even worse, its pursuit of a culture of death. (Shalom Life-Canada)

    Other Issues

  • The Dubai Police Chief's Outlandish Claims - Jackson Diehl
    Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, the police chief of Dubai, certainly knows how to milk a good story for all it's worth. It's now been six weeks since Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was found dead in his hotel room. Yet day after day Tamim continues to make headlines, issuing grandiose pronouncements. The general has an eager audience for these increasingly implausible declarations - especially in the Arab and European media, which revel in excoriating Israel for deeds those media routinely excuse or ignore when practiced by other governments.
        Russia carried out a killing in Dubai less than a year ago. The victim was Sulim Yamadayev, a former Chechen general. Far from trying to disguise the crime, the assassin left behind a golden gun belonging to Ramzan Kadyrov, the gangster who rules Chechnya under the watchful eye of Vladimir Putin. (Washington Post)
        See also If Dubai Police Chief Passed the Real Assassins in the Street He Wouldn't Recognize Them - Yossi Alpher (bitterlemons-international)
        See also Is Israel the Only Suspect over Dubai Death? - Tom Gross (Mideast Dispatch Archive)
  • The Israel "Apartheid" Lies - Beryl Wajsman
    At Israel Apartheid Week we saw the usual collection of Islamist apologists and their fellow-travelers who sought to portray Israel as an apartheid-era South Africa in relation to its Arab citizens. These propaganda campaigns are the psychological and intellectual germ warfare of the naked aggression of hate. And they debase our public discourse. The propagandists are engaged in an effort to destroy the legitimacy of one specific nation, a sister democracy, that is the free world's frontline guardian against the spread of theocratic tyranny.
        There are a dozen Arab Muslim members of the Knesset representing several Arab political parties. In fact Israeli Arabs, overwhelmingly Muslim, turn out to vote in greater percentages than North Americans do. Arabs serve in the diplomatic corps with no glass ceiling. Israel's Ambassador to Finland is Arab. In May 2004 Salim Jubran was appointed to the Supreme Court of Israel. Arabic is an official language in Israel, even posted on all road signs, which is more than we can say for English in Quebec. In 1948 there was only one Arab high school in Israel. Today there are hundreds.
        Israel is exercising the same rights in international law as France and the U.S. did after the Second World War of holding onto territory acquired in its own defense after surviving an aggressive attack until peace is achieved. And under Israeli occupation, Palestinians have the highest percentage of university students; the lowest infant mortality and the longest life expectancy of any front-line Arab state. The writer is president of the Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal. (Canada Free Press)
  • How Much Time Will the U.S. Waste Trying to Engage Syria? - James Kirchick
    There is nothing to indicate that Syria will desist in any of its malign behavior, no matter the warmth of Washington's new embrace. Indeed, Syrian President Bashar Assad could not have delivered a more flagrant message of defiance last week with his welcoming Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Damascus where the two dictators met with leaders of Hamas and Hizbullah.
        For all the Syrian and Iranian blather of Western "domination," "colonization" and "interference," it is these two nations that are the region's true imperialists. Damascus and Tehran fund and outfit the fanatical murder cults Hamas and Hizbullah. Damascus and Tehran have ruined Lebanon, suborning the assassinations of politicians who dare speak out about the nefarious influence these regimes play in the region. Damascus and Tehran have both violated international standards regarding nuclear technology. Washington has tried for years to persuade Iran and Syria to adopt the most basic characteristics of good international citizens, all to no avail. And concomitant attempts to "split" Damascus from Tehran are as fruitless as they are frequent. (New York Daily News)
        See also Avoiding the Syria Trap - Tony Badran
    Until Assad gives something up that the U.S. can take to the bank, the administration must maintain the existing sanctions regime. The administration urgently needs an integrated strategy, not disjointed initiatives that will only end up favoring its enemies. The writer is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Now Lebanon)
        See also Efforts to Lure Syria Out of Iran's Orbit Prove Fruitless - Jonathan Spyer (Jerusalem Post)
  • What Does the U.S. Stand For in the Middle East? - Michael Young
    Now Washington has sent an ambassador back to Damascus - without conditions. Syria's responsibility for the assassination of Rafik Hariri has been quietly played down, and the Assad regime's abuse of its own population is of utter disinterest to the Americans. Syrian involvement in the myriad bomb attacks in Iraq, its support for Iraqi Baathists, and its permissiveness toward Al-Qaeda in Iraq have not made the administration reconsider its Syrian opening. Violence works. The Syrians have made it amply clear that they will not turn against Iran, nor do they see any advantages in doing so, and Damascus' propensity for exporting conflict to Iraq, the Palestinian areas, and Lebanon hardly enhances stability.
          Two weeks ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly declared that the U.S. would not use force against Iran. An attack on Iran would doubtless be a terrible idea, but for Clinton to rule out such an action so bluntly was not the best use she could have made of American military superiority. Indeed, it clarified a situation that the Obama administration should not have clarified, and the statement may ensure that the hardest of the hardliners in Tehran will win all future domestic debates on the best way to deal with international efforts to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.  (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • Action Needed to Combat Campaign Delegitimizing Israel - Martin J. Raffel
    The organized American Jewish community and our non-Jewish allies, with broad representation from across political and religious lines, are poised to launch a major initiative to counter the global campaign to delegitimize Israel. The sky is not falling. President Obama and the U.S. Congress remain firmly committed to Israel's fundamental security, and opinion polls consistently reflect broad American public support for the Jewish state. But there are clouds gathering on the horizon. We must act now to prevent the clouds from becoming a full-fledged storm. The writer is senior vice president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. (JTA)

    Weekend Features

  • The King's Garden Project in Jerusalem - Moshe Dann
    Bowing to pressure, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has cut back on plans to remove 88 illegal Arab buildings from a rich archeological park in the Kidron Valley adjacent to the City of David, the ancient city of Jerusalem. According to plans announced Tuesday, Barkat proposed relocating only about 20 families in the disputed area, while giving legal status retroactively to the rest. The entire area would be renovated and restored as a garden and world-class tourist site, with an Arab residential neighborhood, shops and restaurants, including sports and healthcare centers. According to aerial photographs, the area was uninhabited until the early 1990s. The city contends that Arabs have built on public land in an archeological area and they are enforcing "the rule of law."
        The King's Garden, or al-Bustan ("The Garden" in Arabic), is located just below the City of David, where the Kidron and Hinnom Valleys meet. Water flowed to this area from the Gihon Spring, the ancient city's sole water source, mentioned in Kings I, 1:39, where King Solomon was anointed. The King's Garden is mentioned in many biblical and talmudic sources. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Unveils Gaza Border Defense System - Hanan Greenberg
    The IDF on Tuesday released footage of the tracking system deployed along the Gaza border in order to thwart terror attacks. The system, dubbed "spot and strike," is operated by the IDF's Field Intelligence Corps. The footage shows how the system targets a Palestinian terrorist who was involved in an attempted attack that took place in December 2009. "The system proves most effective when we're dealing with real-time events that require immediate response," said Brig.-Gen. Eli Polak. The IDF found a ladder, ropes and explosives in the documented incident, indicating that the terrorists were planning to climb over the security fence in order to carry out an attack. (Ynet News)
        See also IDF's Newest Heroes: Women Spotters on Gaza Border - Anshel Pfeffer
    At an Israel Defense Forces command center on the border with Gaza, six 18- and 19-year-old female soldiers sit staring at screens that show what's happening inside the Strip. When fog sets in and the monitors become useless, the spotters switch to radar. Dozens of terrorists have been hit after being identified by the spotters. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Women Soldiers Guarding Israel's Border with Remote Control Robots - Sivan Peleg
    Many resourceful female scouts with nerves of steel watch the field all day long on their screens. They remember it by heart, and know every bush, tree, and stone as they know how to identify even the smallest change. (Israel Defense Forces)
        See also IDF Unveils Upgrades to Gaza Fence - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
  • During Sderot's Calm, Life Still Not Back to Normal - Anav Silverman
    Hila Barzilai, the new director of the Sderot Resilience Center, told me that in the months after Israel's Gaza operation, 364 new patients have turned to the center for therapy. "These kids come to us with their parents to seek therapy for the trauma built up from years of rocket attacks," said Barzilai. "We are talking about eight years of constant rocket attacks whose psychological effects are now emerging during this period of calm." The average recovery period for a child can take up to eight months or more. One of the challenges is the sporadic rocket attacks that continue to hit Sderot and the western Negev region. Barzilai noted that "it takes one rocket attack to destroy any progress in the patient's therapy. The siren alert will trigger the flashbacks of terror and fear in the child or adult, which means that the therapy process has to begin anew."  (Bangor Daily News)
  • Observations:

    How to Handle Hamas - Adam Ingram (Guardian-UK)

    • A year after the Gaza operation, Hamas still refuses to reconcile with Fatah, recognize Israel, renounce violence, accept previous Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements or release Cpl. Gilad Shalit, kidnapped from Israeli soil in June 2006.
    • I have spent the last six months chairing a Labour Friends of Israel project that has sought answers to how Hamas' hold over Gaza can be loosened; how the humanitarian situation can be improved in a way that protects Israeli security; and ultimately, how we can move closer to a two-state solution.
    • First, change in the right direction can only be brought about if we take a realistic view of what Hamas stands for. If it is to be engaged with and be part of the future - and it seems to me that we are a long way from that possibility - it is important that it is not allowed to hide behind a false profile.
    • There are those across the political spectrum who consistently call for diplomatic engagement with Hamas, comparing it to the IRA, the South African ANC or even the Palestinian Fatah movement. However, all those movements had their roots in deep-seated nationalism. Crucially, Hamas has a strong religious and specifically political Islamist dimension, prohibiting it from making deals over the land it regards as holy and tasking it with imposing theocratic rule over the people of that land.
    • We must therefore ask ourselves whether Hamas is capable of reform that is compatible with a negotiated peace. If not, we should be paying attention to any emerging factions that do recognize that peaceful engagement is the only way forward.
    • In this context, the demand that a full renunciation of violence precede any political engagement over a two-state solution is essential for ensuring that Hamas does not reap the benefits of international recognition without abandoning its goal of destroying Israel.
          The writer is chair of the Labour Friends of Israel "Handling Hamas" project.

          See also Your Enemies First Have to Recognize Your Right to Exist - Zion Evrony
      Critics of Israeli policy toward Hamas have drawn from Northern Ireland the view that "you must talk to your enemies." This is one part of the equation; the full equation is that your enemies first have to recognize your very right to exist. Hamas will have to abandon its extreme religious ideology, which calls for the establishment of an Islamic state over all the territory, including Israel today.
          Similarly, true reconciliation cannot be achieved between Israelis and Palestinians as long as incitement to hatred toward Israel continues among the Palestinians. Can we hope the time is near when Palestinian children, and children in Syria, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, will look at schoolroom maps that show the State of Israel alongside their own states? The writer is Israel's ambassador to Ireland. (International Herald Tribune-New York Times)

          See also Hamas Is Not the IRA: The Myths, Misconceptions and Misapplication of the Northern Ireland Peace Process - John Bew and Martyn Frampton (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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