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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 12, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Gazans Cheer Rockets Fired at Israel - Patrick Martin (Globe and Mail-Canada)
    With every blast that propels another rocket from Gaza toward Israel, a loud Palestinian cheer goes up.
    They cheer outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City as a rocket blasts off from a location uncomfortably near the hospital itself.
    They cheer at the Hamas border post near the Erez crossing separating Gaza from Israel when a rocket is launched 200 to 300 meters away.
    In the battle for rocket supremacy there is no contest. Israeli rockets have killed 18 people, most of them militants, and wounded several others. The more than 100 Palestinian rockets that landed in Israel wounded four Israelis, one seriously.

Creating Diplomatic Maneuverability - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Imagine if the 43 rockets that Israel's Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepted on their way to Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon had succeeded in hitting their targets.
    The extent of the destruction would be greater as would the possibility for civilian casualties, leading to public pressure for an IDF ground offensive into Gaza to stop the rocket fire, as occurred in late 2008.

Four Thai Workers Wounded in Israel by Gaza Rocket (The Nation-Thailand)
    Four Thai agricultural workers who were wounded in Israel as a result of fighting near Gaza on Friday are out of danger.
    Department of Employment director general Prawit Kengpol said their workplaces were not in the war zone and that they had traveled away from their work site to meet friends when they were accidentally wounded in the rocket attack.

IDF: Freed Palestinian Prisoners May Be Plotting Terror Attacks - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    IDF forces operating in the West Bank village of Yatta near Hebron on Saturday summoned former prisoners released by Israel in the Shalit deal for a talk with Israel Security Agency officials.
    A senior IDF Central Command officer said Sunday the army is concerned that dozens of former detainees may be plotting terror attacks, mostly focused on plans to abduct soldiers.
    According to IDF statistics, some 40% of detainees freed in past prisoner swaps went on to resume their terror activity.

Escalation in Gaza Was Just a Matter of Time - Eyal Zisser (Israel Hayom)
    A conflagration with Gaza was just a matter of time. So long as the Hamas government allows active terrorist groups such as the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and Islamic Jihad to carry out attacks, it will be impossible to preserve silence along the Gaza border.
    The PRC and Islamic Jihad differ from Hamas in that they do not seek to control Gaza, nor do they want to manage the lives of its inhabitants. Instead, they devote themselves to the struggle against Israel, viewing that struggle as their raison d'etre.
    Escalations of this type will continue in the future as long as Hamas does not control its partners in Gaza.
    The writer is head of the Department of Middle Eastern and African History and a senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center, both at Tel Aviv University.
    See also Renewing Deterrence in Gaza - Yoav Limor (Israel Hayom)
    Over the last three years there has been a disturbing trend of shorter and shorter intervals between clashes in Gaza, as each round becomes more and more violent.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Kills Leader of Palestinian Militants behind Shalit Kidnapping
    An Israeli airstrike on Friday killed Zuhair al-Qaissi, the top commander of the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, a militant group in Gaza aligned with Hamas that was behind the abduction of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was held captive for more than five years and freed in a prisoner swap for more than 1,000 Palestinians. (AP-Guardian-UK)
        See also Israel's Pre-emptive Policy - Ron Ben-Yishai
    According to intelligence information, Zuhair al-Qaissi personally planned a complex offensive which was to include infiltration from Sinai into Israel at several sites, the planting of explosive devices, and a possible abduction. Sinai-based attacks grant terror groups an advantage - they estimate that the IDF would not enter Egyptian territory in order to thwart such offensives. (Ynet News)
        See also Gaza Will Be Held Responsible for Attacks on Israel through Sinai - Alex Fishman
    The current round of fighting is a blatant Israeli signal: There is no immunity, even in Gaza, to Palestinian terror activity undertaken via the Sinai Peninsula. Indeed, Sinai is a major terror front, and Israel will not tolerate a situation whereby Gaza serves as a base for Sinai attacks. (Ynet News)
        See also Egypt Warned PRC Terrorists Not to Operate from Sinai - Elior Levy
    Popular Resistance Committees spokesman Abu Mujahid said Sunday that about a month ago top PRC terrorists met with Egyptian intelligence officials. "We were not told to halt our activities, but they did stress that we must operate only from Gaza and refrain from using the Sinai Peninsula or other Egyptian-ruled areas (to carry out attacks on Israel)," he said. (Ynet News)
  • Israel's Anti-Missile Defense System Intercepts 43 Palestinian Rockets
    During March 9-11, 22 Israeli civilians were injured as a result of rockets fired from Gaza. During this period over 147 rockets were fired by Gaza terrorists at Israel, targeting Israeli communities including the cities of Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon, an area which is home to one million people.
        The Iron Dome anti-missile defense system has successfully intercepted 43 Grad rockets, of the 52 attempts to intercept rockets directed at densely populated regions. Schools in southern Israel are closed due to the continuous rocket fire. (Israel Defense Forces)
        See also Gaza Rocket Salvos Target Beersheba, Ashdod on Monday - Yaakov Lappin
    Palestinian terrorists in Gaza continued to target Israel on Monday morning with rocket salvos directed at Beersheba and Ashdod. Some 17 rockets were fired at Israel, at least seven of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome rocket defense system. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Gaza Rockets Strike Residential Neighborhood in Beersheba - Gili Cohen, Avi Issacharoff and Yanir Yagna
    Two Grad rockets struck Beersheba on Sunday afternoon, one hitting a school that was empty at the time and the other striking a parked car in a residential neighborhood. 15 homes were damaged. (Ha'aretz)
  • Skeptics Doubt U.S. Can Be Certain about Iran's Nuclear Progress - Ken Dilanian
    Despite President Obama's assurances that the U.S. will know if Tehran begins to secretly build a nuclear bomb, some senior officials familiar with U.S. intelligence and spying capabilities in Iran are doubtful. Over the last decade, Western intelligence agencies have twice discovered large-scale clandestine Iranian facilities built to enrich uranium. "You have to assume that, if they went clandestine once, they could well go clandestine in other places," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.
        A former senior U.S. intelligence official said Iran probably would move the clandestine project to multiple sites to lower the risk of discovery. "I think it would be very difficult" to learn if Iran began building a bomb, he said. "Not impossible, but difficult."
        Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, noted that U.S. intelligence agencies were unaware that Syria was secretly constructing a nuclear reactor until shortly before Israeli warplanes destroyed the partially built facility in 2007. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Kissinger: U.S. Should Assume Iran Seeks Nukes
    Former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger, 88, was asked during a CNN interview Sunday about the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon. "I am very uneasy with the so-called intelligence reports that say we don't know whether they are actually working on nuclear weapons," Kissinger said. "I think we should start from the premise that they are undergoing all this in order to achieve a military capability. I don't think that is a disputable point."  (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Iran Behind Continued Rocket Fire - Herb Keinon
    Islamic Jihad, which has fired the majority of the rockets that have hit Israel in recent days, is a wholly owned Iranian subsidiary, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday. "This is about Iran," said Netanyahu. "If it were not for Iran, these extremists would not have their weapons, training or logistical support."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel: No Country Would Allow Targeting of Its Civilians
    "The Hamas terror organization is responsible for everything taking place in Gaza, as it continues enabling rocket fire directed at Israeli civilians," IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said Sunday. "We will not allow this unbearable reality to continue plaguing the lives of civilians in southern Israel. No country in the world would allow this and we will continue operating against every terror body active in Gaza." "We continue operating surgically with carefully planned and executed precise attacks against terror operatives involved in rocket launching."  (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Israel Calls on UN to Condemn Rocket Attacks from Gaza - Herb Keinon and Khaled Abu Toameh
    Israel's deputy ambassador to the UN Haim Waxman sent a letter Sunday to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and members of the UN Security Council calling on them to "unequivocally condemn" the barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza and do everything in their power to "stop the rocket fire that continues to rain down on Israeli civilians, in violation of every precept of international law."
        One Israeli diplomatic official noted that the current fighting was getting only minimal play in the media abroad because the Israeli strikes in Gaza have so far been surgical, and have not caused extensive civilian casualties. Another government source said: "When our strikes are clean, there is little international pressure, because they understand who we are hitting." The official added that few have any illusions about Islamic Jihad or the Popular Resistance Committees. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Turkey Condemns Israel over Gaza Strikes, Calls on World to React (Zaman-Turkey); Arab League Condemns Gaza "Massacre"  (AFP)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • How to Sink Iran's Regime - David Ignatius
    For Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, it's a double bind: If he offers on the nuclear program a deal that would be acceptable to the West, he risks undermining what he sees as the regime's legitimacy. But if he doesn't offer a deal, the steady squeeze will continue. Eventually, something's got to give.
        Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, argues that the Iranian regime is gradually bleeding itself to death for the sake of its nuclear program. He likens the process to the demise of the Soviet Union, which bankrupted itself in an arms race with the U.S. Sadjadpour likes to invoke an old saying about dictatorships: "While they rule, their collapse appears inconceivable. After they've fallen, their collapse appeared inevitable."  (Washington Post)
  • How about Arab Apartheid Week? - Gerald Steinberg
    In Syria, one of the Middle East's most oppressive regimes has killed thousands of its citizens, but university campuses in North America and Europe are silent. There is also no "Saudi apartheid week," no protests against the killings of members of the Coptic community in Egypt, and no boycott of Turkey for systematic discrimination against its Kurdish citizens, or of Iran for systematic attacks against non-Shiite minorities. Instead, the self-proclaimed voices of peace are using all of their energies and resources for an obsessive attack against Israel with another round of "Israeli apartheid week." The use of the "apartheid" libel is inherently racist and discriminatory, targeting the existence of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
        If the officials of European governments who support ostensible human rights organizations that actively promote the "apartheid" libel actually took the principles of human rights and democracy seriously, they would use their resources to protest the real oppression of the Arab and Iranian dictatorships. Their silence speaks volumes about the double standards and cynicism that has captured and distorted the moral agenda beyond recognition. The writer is executive director of NGO Monitor and chairman of the political studies department at Bar-Ilan University. (Canadian Jewish News)

Beyond the Gaza Headlines - David Horovitz (Times of Israel)

  • Zuhair al-Qaissi, the leader of Gaza's Popular Resistance Committees who was targeted on Friday, immediately after Gilad Shalit was released in an extortionate prisoner "exchange" last October, gave interviews to the media detailing how his organization had kidnapped the Israeli soldier, interrogated him, resisted Israeli pleas for his release, and handed Shalit over to Hamas for five years of incarceration.
  • Al-Qaissi was also one of the planners of last August's major infiltration by terrorists from Gaza, via Sinai, into Israel in which eight Israelis were killed. He was about to orchestrate another such major attack. He was also the man who oversaw the transfer of funds from Hizbullah in Lebanon to other extremist groups in Gaza.
  • Israel has no military or civilian presence whatsoever in Gaza - no territorial dispute. Wrenching thousands of civilians from their homes, Israel withdrew entirely from the Strip in 2005. After the 2005 disengagement, the occupation was over.
  • In the period before al-Qaissi was killed, barely a day went by without a rocket salvo being fired into Israel; these attacks didn't make headlines because they didn't kill Israelis. Israel has alarm systems and protected rooms. It keeps its youngsters home from school. And it has the world's foremost anti-missile defense systems.
  • Seven years after it left Gaza, Israel is up against a leadership there that has exploited every opportunity to arm itself with only one enemy in mind - Israel - and to improve the capacity of its rockets to harm Israeli civilians. And Israel finds itself on the defensive, accused of exaggerated use of force, even as it strives to keep its populace safe.

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