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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
March 23, 2011

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In-Depth Issues:

Poll: 67% of Gazans Want to See Regime-Change Demonstrations (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research-IMRA)
    A poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research between 17-19 March found that 67% of Gazans believe there is a need for demonstrations in Gaza demanding regime change.
    Only 36% of West Bankers believe there should be demonstrations demanding West Bank regime change.
    50% of Gazans are ready to participate in demonstrations to demand regime change, while only 24% of West Bankers are ready to participate in demonstrations demanding regime change.
    33% say people in the West Bank can criticize the authorities there without fear. Only 19% say people in Gaza can criticize the authorities there without fear.
    23% say the Haniyeh (Hamas) government in Gaza is the legitimate Palestinian government, 25% say the Fayyad government in the West Bank is the legitimate one, while 37% say both governments are illegitimate.
    See also Gaza Residents Seek to Join "Arab Spring" - Jon Donnison (BBC News)

Egyptian Gas Supply to Israel Almost Back to Normal - Neal Sandler (Platts)
    Gas deliveries from Egypt to Israel have reached 90% of volumes prior to the cutoff on Feb. 5 and will continue to ramp up this week, Israeli energy industry sources said Tuesday.
    Meanwhile, Ampal-American Israel Corp., a partner in the East Mediterranean Gas Company which exports the gas from Egypt to Israel, said in its annual report Friday that there is no certainty that Egypt will meet its commitments regarding the supply of natural gas to Israel in the future.

Israel Hands Russia Ownership of Jerusalem Site (AP)
    Israel is handing back ownership of a czarist-era landmark in the heart of Jerusalem to Russia.
    The property known as Sergei's Courtyard is part of the Russian Compound, most of which Israel bought from the Soviet Union in the early 1960s.
    The return of ownership appeared to be a goodwill gesture ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit Thursday to Russia, where he is expected to urge Moscow not to sell sophisticated missiles to Syria and to support efforts to keep Iran's nuclear ambitions in check.

Kiss Bassist Gene Simmons Calls Boycotters of Israel "Fools" (AP-Washington Post)
    Kiss' Israeli-born singer-musician Gene Simmons, 61, said in an interview that those musicians who refuse to perform in his homeland "are fools."
    "I was born here and I'm proud of it," he said during his first return to Israel since leaving the country as a child more than 50 years ago.
    Simmons, who was born Chaim Witz, recalled his father, a carpenter, taking his assault rifle and heading off to military service on weekends. He said his mother, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, taught him that "every day above ground is a good day."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Allied Strikes Pummel Libya's Air Force But Do Little to Stop Attacks on Civilians - Liz Sly and Greg Jaffe
    Four days of allied strikes have battered Libyan leader Gaddafi's air force and largely destroyed his long-range air defense systems, a top U.S. commander said Tuesday. But there was little evidence that the attacks had shifted the balance of power in favor of the rebels. Since the bombing began Saturday, U.S. and allied forces have launched 162 Tomahawk missiles and conducted more than 100 attacks with precision-guided bombs, said U.S. Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of the allied task force.
        Britain's Channel 4 TV reported that six Libyan villagers were injured by American troops, who apparently opened fire during the rescue of two U.S. crew members forced to eject over eastern Libya when their F-15 fighter jet malfunctioned and crashed overnight Monday. (Washington Post)
        See also Gaddafi Snipers, Tanks Attack Coastal Libyan City (NPR)
        See also U.S. General: No Mission to Target Gaddafi or Support Insurgents - Brendan McGarry
    "There is no intent to completely destroy the Libyan military," U.S. Army General Carter Ham, commander of the Africa Command, said Tuesday. "We have no mission to support opposition forces if they were to engage in offensive operations."
        Gaddafi himself isn't a target and it's possible that he remains in power, Ham said. "I have no mission to attack that person....We are not seeking his whereabouts." There are no plans to deploy U.S. ground forces in Libya, Ham said. "There are no American boots on the ground."  (Bloomberg)
  • New Clashes in Syria Kill Six
    Six people died Wednesday in the southern Syrian city of Daraa when security forces launched an attack near the al-Omar Mosque, where anti-government demonstrators had taken shelter. Security forces had killed seven protesters in Daraa over the weekend. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Will the Syrian Border Remain Quiet? - Yaakov Katz
    Since the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Israel's border with Syria has been the quietest. As Israel watches the ongoing demonstrations in Syria, its greatest concern is the uncertainty that change in Syria would bring to the region, considering the large arsenal of long-range Scud missiles with chemical warheads that Syria has stockpiled over the years. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gates Underlines the Dangers in the Middle East - David Ignatius
    In an interview, Defense Secretary Bob Gates says the unrest in the Middle East has highlighted "ethnic, sectarian and tribal differences that have been suppressed for years" in the region, and that as America encourages leaders to accept democratic change, there's a question "whether more democratic governance can hold...countries together in light of these pressures." The implication: There's a risk that the political map of the modern Middle East may begin to unravel too, with, say, the breakup of Libya. "I think we should be alert to the fact that outcomes are not predetermined, and that it's not necessarily the case that everything has a happy ending."  (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians in Gaza Rocket Beersheba
    On Wednesday Palestinians in Gaza fired two Grad-type Katyusha rockets at the Israeli city of Beersheba and a barrage of mortar shells on the western Negev. The first rocket struck in the middle of a residential area, damaging buildings including a synagogue. A piece of shrapnel penetrated a third-floor apartment, wounding one man. The second rocket hit an open area in the city. A number of people were treated for shock in both incidents. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Beersheba Schools Closed Due to Rocket Fire (Globes)
        See also Grad Fired from Gaza Lands near Ashdod - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired a Grad rocket towards Ashdod Tuesday. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. (Ynet News)
        See also IDF Attacks Palestinian Rocket Cell - Yaakov Katz
    On Tuesday evening, the IDF spotted a terror cell in the midst of preparing to launch a rocket into Israel. The IDF attacked the cell, killing four known terrorists who sources said were behind the Grad-model Katyusha attack on Beersheba last month. Earlier, IDF troops came under mortar fire from a terror cell near the Gaza town of Sajaiyeh. The troops fired the mortars in response and accidentally hit four civilians. The IDF stressed that Hamas was responsible for choosing to operate from within populated areas. On Tuesday morning, the IDF thwarted an attack after a tank crew spotted a group of terrorists preparing to fire an anti-tank missile. The tank opened fire and hit the Palestinian crew. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also War Starting Along Gaza Border - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    A small war has been going on for a week now along the Gaza border. Israeli communities near the border are receiving a daily dose of mortars and rockets, and the Israel Air Force has been attacking Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • Netanyahu: Israel Will Defend Its Citizens Against Rocket Fire
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his regret on Tuesday that innocent civilians in Gaza were unintentionally hit as a result of IDF shelling. He emphasized that the shelling was carried out in response to Hamas fire at Israeli civilians. "It is regrettable that Hamas continues to intentionally rain down dozens of rockets on Israeli civilians even as it uses civilians as human shields. While the State of Israel has no intention of bringing about a deterioration of the situation, the IDF will continue to take determined action to defend Israeli citizens," he said. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Palestinian Ceasefire Violations Since the End of the Gaza Operation
    Since the end of the Gaza operation in January 2009, 282 rockets and 193 mortar shells have been fired into Israel. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Only Thing Worse Than Going to War Is Not Winning a War - Aluf Benn
    As I took a peek at Sky News before perusing the headlines in the British newspapers on the war in Libya, I felt as if I were watching Israeli Television's Channel 2 during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2009. The British reporters proclaimed that "our pilots" had gone to battle, Gaddafi's air defenses had been "neutralized," and the enemy had resorted to using civilians as "human shields."
        For an Israeli listening to these statements, it's easy to get angry over the West's attitude toward the war, particularly British hypocrisy. While the British mount legal battles against Israeli leaders and IDF commanders over the bombardments of Gaza, they boast about their own bombings of Tripoli. The justness of a war is in the eye of the beholder, and it depends on its final outcome. (Ha'aretz)
  • Are the Palestinians Ready for Statehood? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Almost every week, the Palestinian Authority reaffirms its intention to seek the international community's recognition in September of an independent Palestinian state on the 1948 armistice lines. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said there is no point in conducting peace talks with the government of Benjamin Netanyahu because of his refusal to withdraw from "all" the territories that were occupied in 1967.
        The Palestinian Authority is asking the world to recognize a state on the pre-1967 lines when it has no control over Gaza. Moreover, Abbas does not have a real mandate to strike any deal on behalf of a majority of Palestinians, particularly since his term in office expired in January 2009. Even if the UN does recognize such a state later this year, the reality on the ground will remain unchanged. (Hudson Institute-New York)
        See also Palestinians Eye UN Recognition of State
    The Palestinians are planning to ask the UN to recognize a Palestinian state, Saeb Erekat told AFP on Sunday. The decision had been made by the Palestinian leadership and it is the "choice of president Mahmoud Abbas," he said. The move would request the world body to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and with east Jerusalem as its capital. (AFP)
  • Uprisings Seen Changing Balance of Power in Arab-Israeli Conflict - Abdul Jalil Mustafa
    The Amman-based Arab Thought Forum (ATF) think-tank, chaired by Jordan's Prince Hassan, said Monday in a statement that the latest spate of Arab revolts would lead to the emergence of a pan-Arab gathering that "changes the balance of power" in the Arab-Israeli conflict. "The uprisings of the Arab youth have demonstrated the joint concerns and dreams of the Arab world and enhanced the possibility of the emergence of an Arab bloc that changes the balance of forces in the Arab region." "These uprisings have also introduced a new element in international calculations and the proposed solutions for our main causes, foremost the Palestinian question and the U.S. occupation of Iraq."  (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)

Israel Faces a Culture of Hatred and Violence - Mortimer B. Zuckerman (U.S. News)

  • Professor Bernard Lewis, the great academic authority on Islam, has said that if the West knew what was being said in Arabic, people would be horrified. How else to explain why Arab maps of Israel show no such country? How else to explain why a Palestinian father would celebrate his toddler's first birthday by dressing him up with a fake suicide bomb? By the second grade, students are taught the concept of jihad, or holy struggle, and by the sixth grade, their school lessons encourage them to become a shahid, or martyr.
  • Palestinian apologists say that murders such as that of the Fogel family in Itamar are "a natural response to the harm settlers inflict on the Palestinian residents in the West Bank." Is it natural to slit the throats of children in their beds? Only if you assume an absence of expectations from the Palestinians and a willingness to whitewash everything they may do instead of holding them to some level of moral accountability.
  • The Western media's portrayal of the murdered innocent as somehow the cause of their deaths is paralleled by suggestions that rape victims "asked for it." Nothing justifies these murders. A massacre is a massacre is a massacre. There are no circumstances to explain it and no words that can put it into proportion. As Israeli President Shimon Peres remarked: "It indicates a loss of humanity. There is no religion in the world or any faith that allows these kinds of horrible acts." 

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