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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
October 18, 2011

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In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Polls Show Overwhelming Support for Shalit Deal - Gil Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    A Dahaf Institute poll published in Yediot Ahronot on Monday found that 79% of Israelis back the deal to trade kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit for 1,027 Palestinian terrorists, while 14% oppose it.
    A Midgam poll broadcast on Israel Channel 10 TV found that 69% backed the deal and 26% opposed it.
    In the same poll, 62% said the deal would worsen Israel's security situation.

West Bank Palestinians Chant: "The People Want a New Shalit" (Jerusalem Post)
    Hundreds of Palestinians gathered in the West Bank on Tuesday to celebrate the impending release of prisoners, chanting: "The people want a new Shalit," Israel Channel 2 TV reported.
    "I think that straight away there will be two or three more Shalits," said Muhammed Isawiyeh, a relative of a prisoner. "There are still 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in jail."

Arab Rally in Israel: "Redeem Al-Aqsa Mosque with Blood" - Hassan Shaalan (Ynet News)
    Some 30,000 Arab Israelis took part Friday in a rally titled "Al-Aqsa Mosque in Danger," vowing to "redeem" the holy Muslim site in Jerusalem "with blood," in an event organized by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Umm al-Fahem.
    Protestors held up Palestinian and Turkish flags during the event.

Palestinian Poll: 72 Percent See No Solution to the Conflict (An-Najah University-PA-IMRA)
    A Palestinian poll conducted on Oct. 13-15 by the Center for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies at An-Najah University in Nablus asked: Do you think that the Palestinian state can only be established through negotiations? Yes 30%, No 64%.
    Do you think it is possible to reach a lasting solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in view of the current circumstances? Yes 23%, No 72%.
    Do you expect an eruption of a third intifada in the Palestinian territories? Yes 57%, No 35%.
    Do you support or reject an armed uprising? West Bank: Support 28%, Reject 68%; Gaza: Support 50%, Reject 40%.
    Which political affiliation do you support? West Bank: Fatah 37%, Hamas 7%, None of the above 40%; Gaza: Fatah 37%, Hamas 15%, None of the above 22%.

Palestinian Envoy Is Asked to Leave Ottawa after Controversial Tweet - Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail-Canada)
    Linda Sobeh Ali, the charge d'affaires of the Palestinian delegation in Ottawa, has been told she's not welcome after she tweeted a link to a video that the Canadian government deemed an offensive diatribe against Jews.
    The video shows a Palestinian girl, in tears and shouting with passion, reciting a poem in Arabic that includes a call to war to "destroy the Jews." Sobeh Ali told her followers to "check this video out."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hamas Frees Israeli Soldier as Prisoner Swap Begins - Ethan Bronner and Stephen Farrell
    Sgt. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held for more than five years by Hamas, was traded on Tuesday for what will eventually be more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Interviewed on Egyptian television before being handed over to Israel, he looked thin and pale but appeared otherwise healthy. (New York Times)
  • Globally Isolated and Economically Crippled: Why Hamas Is Losing Gaza - Karl Vick
    According to recent surveys, if elections were held in Gaza today, Hamas would not be returned to power. In a March survey taken in the afterglow of the protests in Cairo, more than 60% of Gazans age 18 to 27 said they too would support public demonstrations demanding regime change. The euphoria over the release of Palestinian prisoners is unlikely to alleviate the bread-and-butter problems for which many Gazans blame Hamas.
        The party's election victory in 2006 put cadres of solemn, bearded men with little political or administrative experience in charge of running a government. They got high marks for making the streets safe, but they never came to grips with the Gazan economy, and they've failed to live up to their promise of corruption-free government. (TIME)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Abbas Greets Released Palestinian Prisoners: You Are Freedom Fighters
    Palestinian prisoners freed Tuesday in a prisoner exchange crossed into the West Bank and Gaza, where large crowds and dignitaries greeted them in ecstatic celebration. In the West Bank, released prisoners were taken to the grave of Yasser Arafat, where Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told them: "You are freedom fighters and holy warriors for the sake of God and the homeland."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Abbas, Hamas Welcome Prisoners in Ramallah (DPA)
  • Syria, Qatar, Turkey to Take Deported Palestinian Prisoners - Avi Issacharoff
    Hamas deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk said Monday that Qatar and Turkey have agreed to absorb the Palestinian prisoners who are to be deported after their release in the prisoner exchange, according to the London-based Arab daily Al-Hayat, which reported that Syria was the third state on the list. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Turkey's Acceptance of Terrorists Reveals Hamas Ties - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
  • What Awaits Muna in Gaza? - Yoram Schweitzer
    Female terrorist Amana Muna from Fatah was the mastermind behind the murder of Israeli teenager Ofir Rahum. As part of a project I conducted in Israeli prisons, I held lengthy conversations with her. It isn't only Israelis who view her as a monster. Her fellow inmates also think she is. She controlled the prisoners in her ward with an iron fist. Several inmates who refused to obey her orders suffered heavy punishments. Some were bitten by her while others suffered serious burns because they dared challenge her leadership. Hamas even vowed to "sort things out" with her upon her release.
        According to the prisoner swap deal, Muna will be deported to Hamas-controlled Gaza where she may initially be received as a hero. But she obviously won't enjoy much comfort in light of her abusive methods in prison. The writer is head of a terrorism project at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Ynet News)
        See also Report: Two Female Palestinian Prisoners Refusing Transfer to Gaza
    Two of the female Palestinian prisoners scheduled to be transferred to Gaza as part of the prisoner exchange are insisting on remaining in Egypt following their release, Israel Channel 10 TV reported. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Will the World Ask Why Palestinians Celebrate Murder? - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Mass rallies and celebrations are being planned in Ramallah to celebrate the freedom of those who were convicted of mass murders. As the New York Times reports: Those being freed include a mastermind of the 2001 bombing of a Jerusalem pizzeria, those involved in the 2001 bombing of a Tel Aviv nightclub that killed 21 people and a suicide bombing a year later of a Netanya hotel in which 29 died.
        What ought to be discussed is the upside-down ethos of Palestinian political culture in which the spilling of Jewish blood grants the killer not only absolution but also heroic status. Rather than ask why Israel is willing to trade so many terrorists for one soldier, the world should be asking why the Palestinians are cheering the release of sociopaths. (Commentary)
  • Israel's Deals with the Devils - Robert H. Mnookin
    In 2004, Israel exchanged several hundred Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli held captive by Hizbullah (and the remains of three soldiers). Drawing on government figures, Nadav Shragai noted in a report by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs that "those freed in the deal had murdered 35 Israelis" by 2007.
        What explains Israel's decision to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a single Israeli corporal kidnapped by Hamas in a cross-border raid in 2006 and held hostage in Gaza? There is a long line of psychological research showing that, in making decisions, human beings will incur far greater costs to save one identifiable being from immediate peril than to enact safety measures that might save many more statistical lives. While no expense will be spared to save an identifiable miner trapped in a coal mine, there is often great political reluctance to spend an equal amount on mine safety. Such a response is entirely human, but it is not rational. The writer is chair of Harvard University's Program on Negotiation. His most recent book is Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight (2010). (Wall Street Journal Europe)
  • Why (Almost) Everyone Loses in the Prisoner Swap - Benny Morris
    It has been calculated that the Palestinians to be released killed 588 Israelis, almost all of them civilians, most of them within Israel during the 2000-2004 Second Intifada. While saving Shalit's life, the deal will boost Hamas' standing among all Palestinians (including Israeli Arabs, who increasingly see themselves as "Palestinian") and, commensurately, weaken the so-called "moderates" around PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. It will encourage attacks on Israelis, as the perpetrators will know that if caught, there is someone who will engineer their release. Lastly, it will show Israel as "weak" and susceptible only to the use of force. (National Interest)
  • The Alarm Bells Behind Iran's Alleged Assassination Plot - Richard Cohen
    The Iranian regime commenced what amounts to mass murder soon after it came to power. It executed not only its opponents but also its critics. The mistake with Iran is the tendency to think its leadership is rational. This may not be the case.
        For years, virtually the first word out of any Israeli official's mouth has been Iran. Invariably, these Israelis are treated as either paranoid or duplicitous. Few in the West take Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's threats to exterminate Israel seriously. But Israelis have some experience with the irrational and its consequences, and they do not easily dismiss threats of genocide. They look to America to do something. So far they have looked in vain.
        It would be an incalculable mistake for the Obama administration to see the alleged Iranian plot as the reckless act of some runaway intelligence chief. The alleged Washington bomb plot does not tell you something that's limited to Iran's Quds Force; it offers an insight into the entire Iranian regime. It's too reckless to be allowed a nuclear arsenal. (Washington Post)

Israel's Difficult Decision - Elliott Abrams (Weekly Standard)

  • Yes, Israel's decision to free over 1,000 prisoners in order to liberate Gilad Shalit is a victory for Hamas, in that it demonstrates to Palestinians that Hamas is able to free their prisoners when Fatah and the PLO are not. Yes, this gives Hamas an incentive to kidnap another soldier and get back more terrorists. Yes, this is a danger to all Israelis because past recidivism rates among freed terrorists have been very high.
  • So why do the vast majority of Israelis support the decision? Because Israelis believed there was an unbreakable obligation to bring Shalit home.
  • Israel is simply different from the U.S. Its Jewish population is but 5 million. It has a conscript army consisting of young people like Gilad Shalit, and military service is nearly universal. For the great majority of Israelis, then, the soldiers are their children - or at least their neighbors' or cousins' children - and they must be brought home.

        See also The Palestinians Envy Israelis - Miki Goldwasser
    On Tuesday we shall see flags and joyous masses in Gaza. We shall see many arms raised and many fingers making the victory sign. However, they did not win, and they know it. They were humiliated precisely because so many terrorists were released for only one soldier. They realize that they are not worth much if they are willing to exchange 1,000 of their own for one Israeli soldier.
        With the exception of the celebrating families, I don't think most other Gaza residents are happy to see the release of hooligans who took the liberty to rob and kill even their own people. The writer is the mother of IDF reserve soldier Ehud Goldwasser, abducted and killed by Hizbullah in 2006. (Ynet News)

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