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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
November 20, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Palestinians in Gaza Fire Two Rockets at Jerusalem Tuesday - Ilana Curiel (Ynet News)
    For the second time in a week, air raid sirens sounded in Jerusalem, shortly after the arrival of UN chief Ban Ki-moon to the city.
    One rocket landed between two Palestinian villages in the Gush Etzion area. The other rocket landed near Hebron.

Poll: 57% of Americans Say Israeli Attacks in Gaza Are Justified (CNN)
    A CNN poll released Monday indicates that 57% of the public says Israel is justified in taking military action in Gaza against Hamas, with 25% saying the attacks are unjustified.
    59% say their sympathies are with the Israelis, with 13% saying they side more with the Palestinians.

Hamas Celebrates Victory Over Israel (MEMRI)
    In recent days, Hamas has been trying to present its campaign against Israel as victorious.
    The Palestinians stress their power of endurance, report on the intensity of their rocket attacks on Israel, enumerate their achievements and promise future victories.

Lebanon Foils Bid to Launch Rockets at Israel (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    Two Katyusha rockets aimed at Israel and set to launch were discovered and defused by Lebanese security forces on Monday, 4 km. from the Lebanese-Israeli border near Kfar Shuba, a security source said.

A Lucky Escape after Rocket Strikes Ashdod Building - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    A Palestinian Grad rocket crashed into the roof of an eight-story building on Sunday in Ashdod, entering the elevator shaft and descending to the fifth floor, where it exploded.
    The building's residents all loyally followed the Home Front Command's instructions and sought cover in reinforced safe rooms when the air raid siren sounded.
    The instructions saved lives; two people were lightly injured.

New App Keeps Track of Missile Fire on Israel - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
    A new iPhone app enables users to keep track of Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza by sending a notification whenever an alert is sounded, Yediot Ahronot reported.
    The application, which is not an official warning system, is the brainchild of Beersheba resident Liron Bar, 13.
    Application developer Kobi Snir volunteered to develop the free app, which sends a notification (in Hebrew) to iPhone users every time there is an air raid warning of a rocket attack from Gaza.
    See also Download the App (iTunes)
    See also Video: Rocket Fire from Gaza on Beersheba - Elizabeth Polin (Facebook)

Some Gaza Rockets Stripped of Explosives to Fly Further - Dan Williams (Reuters)
    Some of the Palestinian rockets fired far into Israel lacked warheads because they were stripped down to increase range and spread alarm over a wider population, Israeli security sources said on Sunday.
    "They're pipes, basically," said an Israeli official.
    "Our assessment is that the prestige of setting off alarms deep in Israel, and being perceived as fighting on, is as important to them now as spilling our blood."

Retired IDF General Volunteers for Reserve Duty - Lilach Shoval (Israel Hayom)
    Maj. Gen. (res.) Udi Adam, 54, who headed the IDF Northern Command during the Second Lebanon War and has since retired from the military, was seen driving semitrailers carrying tanks and other armored vehicles to help with the army's current deployment around Gaza.
    Adam didn't want to stay home while the IDF was in the midst of a significant operation.
    "I've been volunteering for a long time already on the semi-trailers," he said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Clinton to Visit Middle East in Move to Defuse Gaza Conflict - Peter Baker and Isabel Kershner
    President Obama sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Middle East on Tuesday to try to defuse the conflict in Gaza, the White House announced. The decision to dispatch Mrs. Clinton dramatically deepens the American involvement in the crisis. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is also scheduled to arrive in Israel on Tuesday. "A decision has been taken to give diplomacy more time, but not unlimited time," a senior official in the prime minister's office said.
        Benjamin Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to President Obama, said that "any resolution to this has to include an end to that rocket fire." Mrs. Clinton will not meet with Hamas representatives on her trip. "We do not engage directly with Hamas," Rhodes said. Instead, the U.S. is focused on leveraging Egypt's influence with Hamas. Rhodes reaffirmed that the U.S. supports Israel's right to defend itself and said Obama did not ask Netanyahu to hold off a ground incursion into Gaza. (New York Times)
  • Israel Denies Gaza Strikes Targeted Media
    Israel has denied targeting foreign media in airstrikes in Gaza. The Israeli military said it had "targeted two Hamas operational communication sites that were identified by precise intelligence." Discussing an attack on the building used by Sky News, Israeli military spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said a Hamas antenna was the target of the strike. "Out of all the buildings in Gaza, Hamas chose this building - the civilian media building - to place its electronic infrastructure and communications on the rooftop. The target was on the roof and only that target was hit." But she said: "I say this to any civilian in Gaza: stay away from Hamas sites."  (Sky News-UK)
        See also IDF Explains Media Center Rocket Attack (YouTube)
  • Gaza Crisis Poses Threat to Palestinian Authority - Ethan Bronner
    In the daily demonstrations in the West Bank of solidarity with Gaza, there is growing identification with the Islamist fighters of Hamas and derision for the Palestinian Authority, reflecting a widespread sentiment that does not augur well for President Mahmoud Abbas, who is rapidly losing credibility, even relevance. "What stands out from this event is the irrelevance of Abbas," Moshe Ya'alon, Israel's minister of strategic affairs, said Monday. "He's only relevant for declarations and for unilateral steps to seek recognition at the UN."
        Another senior Israeli official said of Abbas: "He cannot even visit his own territory in Gaza. How can the states that will vote for Palestinian statehood plan on giving him recognition? The most basic element of statehood is control of your territory. This is the theater of the absurd."  (New York Times)
  • Iran's First Nuclear Plant May Have Suffered New Setback - Fredrik Dahl
    Iran unloaded nuclear fuel from its Bushehr atomic power plant last month, a UN report said on Friday, a few months after the Russian builder said the reactor was operating at full capacity. The transfer of fuel assemblies from the reactor core to a spent fuel pond meant the plant was shut down, a diplomat said. "It was certainly not foreseen, that's for sure."  (Reuters-Chicago Tribune)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Rocket Attacks Continue Amid Ceasefire Talk - Raphael Ahren
    On Monday there was more Hamas rocket fire into Israel, as well as Israeli air strikes on Hamas missile launch sites, key personnel and terror infrastructure. "If what has been done up to now will not return quiet to the south, we have no choice but to expand the operation," Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Monday. "The residents of the south - and in recent days not only the south - cannot live under a constant barrage of missiles and rockets. This is an intolerable situation."
        Israel Channel 2 TV reported on Monday that Egypt and the U.S. had asked Israel not to launch a ground invasion during the next 24 hours, while officials in Jerusalem stated Hamas must hold all fire on Israel before they'd consider a possible ceasefire. (Times of Israel)
        See also Gaza Rocket Fire Continues Tuesday
    A barrage of rockets was fired from Gaza at Israel on Tuesday morning, including 18 rockets fired at Beersheba. The Iron Dome intercepted at least 12. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Targets Senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad Operatives
    The IDF targeted a hideout inside a civilian media building in Gaza City used by senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives who were a part of the group's rocket launching operations. Baha Abu al-Ata, a member of the Higher Military Council, is the commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's Gaza City Brigade, involved in the manufacturing of arms and firing long-range rockets at Israel. Tissir Mahmoud Mahmedd Jabari, a member of the Higher Military Council, heads the operations branch. Halil Batini is a key figure in long-range rocket launching operations and is responsible for internal security. Ramaz Harab, an aide to Jabari, is responsible for propaganda in the Gaza City Brigade. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Another Ashkelon School Hit by Palestinian Rocket
    Another school in Ashkelon was hit by a Palestinian rocket on Monday. Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin said the rocket penetrated the school's roof and "tore apart an entire classroom. Hundreds of shards of metal were scattered in the school's yard. Had the schools here been open we would have seen a disaster."
        More than 100 rockets were fired toward Israel on Monday. The Iron Dome system intercepted 30 of them. (Ynet News)
        See also In Southern Israel, Urban Dwellers Learn to Sprint for Bomb Shelters - Isabel Kershner (New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Hamas' Tactic: Require Israel to Cause Civilian Casualties - Alan M. Dershowitz
    Hamas leaders know that by repeatedly firing rockets at Israeli civilian areas, they will give Israel no choice but to respond. In order to maximize their own civilian casualties, and thereby earn the sympathy of the international community and media, Hamas leaders deliberately fire their rockets from densely populated civilian areas. Hamas refuses to provide any shelter for its own civilians, whom they use as "human shields."
        This gives Israel a tragic choice: allow Hamas rockets to target Israeli cities and towns, or respond to the rockets, with inevitable civilian casualties among the Palestinian "human shields." Every democracy would choose the latter option if presented with a similar choice. The international community and the media must understand this and blame Hamas.
        Many commentators fault Israel for causing Palestinian civilian casualties. But what is Israel's option, other than to allow rockets to be aimed at its own women and children? Hamas' cynical tactic - which constitutes a war crime - will guarantee that some Palestinian women and children will be killed. (Gatestone Institute)
  • The Truth about Gaza - Bret Stephens
    In 2004 as editor of the Jerusalem Post, and in 2006 in a Wall Street Journal column, I made the case that Israel was smart to withdraw its soldiers and settlers from the Gaza Strip. I was wrong. If Israel had maintained a military presence in the Strip, it would not now be living under this massive barrage.
        The diplomatic and public-relations benefit Israel derives from being able to defend itself from across a "border" and without having to get into an argument about settlements isn't worth the price Israelis have had to pay in lives and terror.
        Put simply, Israel's withdrawal from Gaza yielded less security, greater diplomatic isolation, and a Palestinian regime even more radical and emboldened than it had been before. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Arabs in Jerusalem and the West Bank Celebrate Gaza Rocket Fire - Khaled Abu Toameh
    There is nothing more nauseating than watching people celebrate as rockets are being fired toward Israel from Gaza. As soon as the sirens went off, many Palestinians in Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods and in the West Bank took to the streets and rooftops to cheer Hamas. Some launched fireworks and chanted, "We are all Hamas!" and, "O Jews, the army of Mohammed is coming after you!" Never mind that the rockets could have fallen on their heads. As far as these Palestinians are concerned, there is no problem if a number of Arabs are killed on the way to destroying Israel.
        One wonders whether a majority of Palestinians would ever agree to any form of compromise with Israel. In today's world of the Palestinians, anyone who talks about peace with Israel is a traitor and a collaborator; but anyone who calls for the destruction of Israel is a hero. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Hamas Will Never Achieve a Palestinian State While Killing Israeli Civilians - Gerard Henderson
    On Friday, Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia, said that her government ''condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip and calls on Hamas to cease these immediately.'' Last Thursday the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, commented that ''Israel has every right to defend itself.''
        The consciously indiscriminate attacks from Gaza are deliberately aimed at terrorizing and, where possible, killing and wounding the civilian population of Israel. The most recent attacks have seen some shells fall on Tel Aviv and even the outskirts of Jerusalem. This means that close to half the Israeli population is now threatened by missiles based in Gaza.
        In 2010 some in Australia condemned Israel's interdiction of the Turkish ship the M.V. Mavi Marmara, where there was loss of life among those attempting to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. It is now clear what Israel was on about. Namely stopping the importation of larger and more effective rockets to such terrorist entities as Hamas and Islamist Jihad for use against Israeli cities - including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The writer is executive director of The Sydney Institute. (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)

The Fuel for the Flames - Dennis Ross (New York Daily News)

  • Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi instinctively supports Hamas. Without any recognition that Israeli civilians are targeted by Hamas rockets from a territory Israel left completely in 2005, Morsi has condemned the Israeli "aggression" in Gaza. But the last thing Morsi needs is a conflict that drags on and leads to Israel feeling it has no choice but to send ground troops into Gaza.
  • Egypt's public would probably demand that he break the peace treaty under such circumstances. But the treaty is not a favor that Egypt does for Israel; it has saved countless Egyptian lives. Leaving aside over $60 billion in U.S. assistance that Egypt received over the years, it is the treaty that makes it possible for Egypt to receive essential loans and investment that it needs to confront its collapsing economy.
  • Who is going invest in Egypt if there is no peace treaty and in its place is the prospect of conflict and confrontation? Morsi understands that, and that is why, with all his tough rhetoric toward Israel, he is not saying he will revoke the treaty.
  • Let's be clear. Hamas triggered this latest eruption of conflict with attacks on Israeli forces along the border. This followed a pattern of increasing rocket fire from Gaza. Hamas in the last weeks was doing far less to prevent rocket fire from other groups and suddenly it began to assume responsibility for the attacks.
  • Behind the shift in Hamas' behavior was that, with a new Egypt led by the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas leaders felt they could do more to carry out attacks against Israel and demonstrate their "resistance" credentials.
  • But Hamas miscalculated and was surprised by the Israeli reaction. Israel was not about to let Hamas define a new normal that would prevent Israeli forces from patrolling along the security fence. Nor was it about to allow Hamas to fire and force a million Israelis into shelters.

    The writer, a counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, served under presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.

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