Saturday, July 08, 2006
....Israel must soon decide what its tactics are to be in Gaza. So far the government has been in favor of playing it long. This contributes nothing to the rescue of the young hostage, Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Delay is also allowing Palestinian gunmen to mobilize, to prepare ambushes and lay explosive devices.
Hamas is devoting its energies to firing Qassam rockets of improved design, capable of reaching the Israeli town of Ashkelon. A suicide bomber was arrested before he could detonate himself, and Israeli intelligence claims to have received no fewer than 90 warnings of other terrorist plans. Israeli forces so far have reoccupied three of the Gaza settlements evacuated earlier, now a devastated wasteland from which Hamas fires its Qassams.
To push ahead and do what has to be done to protect Israelis and free Shalit is obviously fraught, and furthermore reveals that the Palestinians took the uprooting of Israeli settlements from Gaza as an invitation to do their worst. (Has it ever been more obvious that what the Palestinians want is not a state of their own but to destroy Israel?)
In the light of this dilemma, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert is going to have to revise his intention to pull settlements out of the West Bank, for that would leave a firing-ground for terrorists yet closer to Israeli population centers. Moreover, playing it long will raise tensions among all the parties composing Olmert’s governing coalition.
Short and sharp has always stood Israel in good stead in the disasters the Palestinians persist in bringing down on themselves....
The credibility of the flagship of U.N. “reform,” the newly created Human Rights Council, sunk during its very first session, which ended on Friday, June 30th. The deck chairs on the Titanic had been rearranged when the Council replaced the discredited Commission on Human Rights. Serial human-rights abusers were elected members right from the start. Nevertheless, the Bush administration’s decision to vote against the Council, along with only three other states, was widely condemned as a sign of American disdain for multilateralism, disinterest in the welfare of human-rights protection, and a personal failure of American U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.
... The Human Rights Council is now the U.N.’s lead human-rights body, and examples of egregious human-rights violations should not have been hard to find. In Darfur, there are three quarters of a million people beyond humanitarian reach, 2.5 million people displaced by the violence, 385,000 people in immediate risk of starvation, and over two million dead in 22 years of violence and deprivation. But it wasn’t genocide in Sudan that interested the Human Rights Council. Nor was it a billion Chinese without civil and political rights. Not 13 million women in Saudi Arabia whose lives depend on hiding from sight in public places and never being caught behind the wheel of an automobile. Not the dire human-rights conditions of 23 million people in North Korea. Not Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s incitement to genocide or his country’s legal system, which includes crucifixion, stoning and amputation. No; there was only one country singled out by the U.N. Human Rights Council, and that was Israel.
... The Council placed criticism of Israel permanently on the agenda of all future sessions. It gave only the special investigator on Israel what amounted to a permanent mandate. On its final day, the Council passed just one resolution condemning human-rights violations by any of the 192 U.N. members, and directed it at Israel. When it was all over, the Council decided to hold its first special (emergency) session within a few days — on Israel.
The numbers explain it all. There are 47 states on the Human Rights Council divided among five regional groups. Fifty-five percent are from the African and Asian regional groups. In the May election, the member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) garnered a majority on both the African and Asian regional groups, thereby giving them the balance of power. Since no criterion exists for Council membership other than geography, countries like China, Cuba, Russia, and Saudi Arabia were elected without difficulty. Furthermore, 32 of the 47 new Council members are from the so-called Group of 77, and when it comes to human rights, developing nations have proven themselves a highly effective protection racket.
The math similarly explains other results. There was a second Council resolution adopted by a vote on the defamation of religions. Its aim was to stifle free speech. The same minority that voted against the Israel resolution emerged in the minority a second time. It is now clear that there are only twelve countries on the Council, or one quarter of its members who are prepared to stand together as democracies. The resolution creating the Council redistributed seats from the Commission, decreasing the proportional representation of the Western group and increasing that of the Asian group. The consequence? The resolution on defamation of religions was adopted by the 2005 Commission by 58 percent; the Council resolution on this subject was adopted by 70 percent.
As Ambassador John Bolton foresaw, U.S. membership on the Council would not have made any difference to these outcomes. In fact, Ambassador Bolton was not alone in expecting the worst. Even the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights knew in advance not to webcast the proceedings beyond the diplomatic niceties of the session’s first week.
In other Council “improvements,” a decision by the Commission to hold a special session required a majority vote; at the Council, only one third of the members are required. On Friday, 21 of 47 members asked for a special session on Israel, thereby meeting the lower Council threshold. In fact, the 17 Islamic members alone satisfy the new requirement. At the Commission, over a 40-year period, 30 percent of the resolutions condemning human rights violations by specific states were directed at Israel. The Council is now batting 1.000. And given a behind-the-scenes deal not to have any country-specific resolutions at least in the first year of operation (with the exception of Israel), that figure is not likely to change any time soon.
Perhaps one of the most insidious features of the U.N. world is the idea that the demonization of Israel is the reasonable price of doing business at the U.N. Human Rights Watch, for example, expressed “concern” about the Israel-bashing but concluded “the first session of the new U.N. Human Rights Council was largely successful in laying a foundation for its future work.”
The spectacle of discrimination and double standards applied to the Jewish state and unmistakably aimed at its delegitimization, however, may not strike Congressional leaders the same way...... Senator Tom Coburn told a Senate subcommittee hearing on June 20 that the days of Americans writing blank checks to the U.N. were gone. In April, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said explicitly that he did not support U.S. funding for the Council.
The original mission of the U.N. was rooted in the legacy of the Holocaust, the shield of “never again,” and the lance of human-rights protection. We are witnesses to the hijacking of the Organization to serve the purveyors of bigotry and hate. Continuing to pay for the travesty should no longer be an option.
— Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and at Touro College Law Center. She is also editor of www.EyeontheUN.org.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Gaza is freed, yet Gaza wages war. That reveals the Palestinians' true agenda
.... Just about every story you'll see will characterize Israel's invasion of Gaza as a continuation of the cycle of violence.
Cycles are circular. They have no end. They have no beginning. That is why, as tempting as that figure of speech is to use, in this case it is false. ...every conflict has its origin.
What is so remarkable about the current wave of violence in Gaza is that the event at the origin of the "cycle" is not at all historical, but very contemporary. ...Israel left Gaza. Every Jew, every soldier, every military installation, every remnant of Israeli occupation was uprooted and taken away.
How do the Palestinians respond? What have they done with Gaza, the first Palestinian territory in history to be independent, something neither the Ottomans nor the British nor the Egyptians nor the Jordanians, all of whom ruled Palestinians before the Israelis, ever permitted? On the very day of Israel's final pullout, the Palestinians began firing rockets out of Gaza into Israeli towns on the other side of the border. And remember: those are attacks not on settlers but on civilians in Israel proper, the pre-1967 Israel that the international community recognizes as legitimately part of sovereign Israel, a member state of the U.N. A thousand rockets have fallen since.
For what possible reason? Before the withdrawal, attacks across the border could have been rationalized with the usual Palestinian mantra of occupation, settlements and so on. But what can one say after the withdrawal?
The logic for those continued attacks is to be found in the so-called phase plan adopted in 1974 by the Palestine National Council in Cairo. Realizing that they would never be able to destroy Israel in one fell swoop, the Palestinians adopted a graduated plan to wipe out Israel. First, accept any territory given to them in any part of historic Palestine. Then, use that sanctuary to wage war until Israel is destroyed.
So in 2005 the Palestinians are given Gaza, free of any Jews. Do they begin building the state they say they want, constructing schools and roads and hospitals? No. They launch rockets at civilians and dig a 300-yard tunnel under the border to attack Israeli soldiers and bring back a hostage.
And this time the terrorism is carried out not by some shadowy group that the Palestinian leader can disavow, however disingenuously. This is Hamas in action--the group that was recently elected to lead the Palestinians. At least there is now truth in advertising: a Palestinian government openly committed to terrorism and to the destruction of a member state of the U.N. openly uses terrorism to carry on its war.
That is no cycle. That is an arrow. That is action with a purpose. The action began 59 years ago when the U.N. voted to solve the Palestine conundrum then ruled by Britain by creating a Jewish state and a Palestinian state side by side. The Jews accepted the compromise; the Palestinians rejected it and joined five outside Arab countries in a war to destroy the Jewish state and take all the territory for themselves.
They failed, and Israel survived. That remains, in the Palestinian view, Israel's original sin, the foundational crime for the cycle: Israel's survival. That's the reason for the rockets, for the tunneling, for the kidnapping--and for Israel's current response.
If that history is too ancient, consider the history of the past 12 months. Gaza is free of occupation, yet Gaza wages war. Why? Because this war is not about occupation, but about Israel's very existence. The so-called cycle will continue until the arrow is abandoned and the Palestinians accept a compromise--or until the arrow finds its mark and Israel dies.
... recent events in Poland, Croatia, Lithuania and Romania seem to indicate that we should start paying more attention to what is happening in Eastern Europe.
... while it has been well known for years that Jew-hatred continues to be a serious problem in Russia and the former Soviet republics which have not been admitted to NATO and/or the European Union, it is generally assumed in Israel and the West that those countries which have achieved membership in those bodies, or are close to obtaining entry, have fully adopted liberal and democratic norms, leaving behind their centuries-old anti-Semitic traditions and prejudices.
So the following incidents probably come as a surprise to those unacquainted with the current situation.
- IN LATE May, Rabbi Michael Schudrich, the chief rabbi of Warsaw and Lodz, was physically attacked by extremist Polish nationalists on a main street in Warsaw while walking home from Shabbat services.
- Two weeks later, under the exact same circumstances, Rabbi Zvi Aloni was physically accosted by Croatian neo-Nazis in the center of Zagreb, not far from the synagogue and local community headquarters.
- In addition, the community received an e-mail in which a Croatian student from Split threatened to blow up the community center with the help of Hamas.
- Less than two weeks ago, on the weekend of June 23-25, about 20 tombstones were vandalized in the main Jewish cemetery in Vilna.
- Less than a week before this incident, a pre-trial investigation was launched by the Office of the Prosecutor-General of Lithuania against none other than Dr. Yitzhak Arad, former chairman of the Yad Vashem directorate, on the suspicion of war crimes committed while serving with Soviet anti-Nazi partisans in World War II.
- In Romania, right-wing newspapers have falsely accused Marco Katz, director of the Center for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism, of threatening the lives of an Orthodox priest and his children to force the removal of a statue honoring World War II dictator Marshal Antonescu who was responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of Romanian Jews.
THE COMMON denominator of all these recent incidents is their link to the Holocaust and the local anti-Semitic traditions which spawned active complicity by the local population in the murders....
... the memory of the Holocaust, which in Central and Western Europe continues to serve as an antidote to anti-Semitism and racism, is serving the opposite purpose east of the Elbe, where post-Soviet and post-communist regimes were only able to honestly face the complicity of their nationals in Holocaust crimes after achieving independence and/or democracy.THIS DEVELOPMENT also forced them to face the practical issues related to their Holocaust history which have proven to be extremely unpopular. National leaders were called upon to acknowledge guilt and apologize for crimes (usually to the State of Israel), and governments were expected to commemorate the victims, prosecute the perpetrators, accurately record their Holocaust history, return confiscated property and introduce the Holocaust as part of the school curriculum.
Two factors, however, made the implementation of these tasks particularly difficult.
- The first was that the local population in every one of these countries had actively assisted the Nazis in the mass murder of the Jews.
- The second was the rapidly growing awareness of the importance of the universal significance of the events of the Holocaust and the increased sensitivity to Holocaust-related issues in NATO and the European Union.
These factors made it virtually imperative for the post-communist countries, who more than anything else sought membership in these bodies, to ostensibly accept the obligation to address their Holocaust past despite their lack of ability, and the absence of local political support, to do so.
Fifteen years of independence later, therefore, relatively little practical progress has been made. While many of the leaders of those countries have apologized for local participation in Holocaust crimes - usually in Israel, not at home - and made declarations which ostensibly obligate them to deal with all the practical Holocaust-related issues, very few Nazi war criminals have been prosecuted and in countries like Lithuania, one of the few to convict, none of those convicted have been punished.
Appreciable progress has only been achieved on the relatively easier tasks such as commemoration and documentation, and even those are politicized with every effort made to minimize local complicity. We are seeing initial educational efforts (with assistance and pressure from abroad) but most of these activities appear to be the exclusive domain of government bureaucracies with little internalization of the lessons of the Holocaust by the wider public, many of whom remain entrenched in their anti-Semitic prejudices.This is clearly evident from the responses posted on the Internet in response to all these issues. Clearly the pressure brought to bear on these countries - and especially that of Israel and Jewish organizations - has fostered dangerous anti-Semitic continuity.
UNDER THESE circumstances, the events of the past two months are hardly surprising. In fact, if they are not dealt with promptly and stringently by the local authorities, they will only encourage additional anti-Semitic incidents.
But it must be clear that the physical violence and vandalization of the past two months are only the tip of the iceberg of unresolved Holocaust issues that continue to cast their ominous shadow over Jewish life in Eastern Europe. Thus until more serious progress is made by post-communist countries in honestly facing their World War II past, we are likely to see even worse manifestations of these deeply ingrained problems.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Israel's founding fathers ... would turn over in their graves.
.... Had we taken resolute action when the Kassams were first being fired into Israel instead of undermining our credibility by endlessly making empty threats, the terrorists would never have had the chutzpah to behave as they did.
Despite the dramatic erosion of security ... our leaders and have yet to bite the bullet....even now our leaders remain hesitant, make contradictory statements, squabble among themselves and clearly lack a strategic plan.
.... It reflects utter confusion and the application of false values which violate the primary obligation of a government to defend the lives of its citizens. It means we are adopting the flawed morality of the bleeding hearts who consider that the well-being of human shields deliberately positioned to defend those seeking to kill us warrants a higher priority than the life and limb of our own citizens.
THE REALITY is that Israel implements a more humane approach to warfare and the protection of non-combatants than any other democratic country. Our military cemeteries testify to the young Israelis who died because of our reluctance to maximize the firepower of the IDF out of concern for the well-being of innocent civilians.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stands at the crossroads. This is his moment of truth, his litmus test of his leadership. No one envies the difficult decisions that the burden of office imposes on him.
....The Palestinians must be made to realize that having now crossed all red lines, our patience has been exhausted and they will now be obliged to pay the consequences for their murderous acts. Olmert must tell the world that despite Israeli concern about possible civilian casualties, as of now all human shields and those in proximity to terrorists initiating attacks against us are at risk. The responsibility for casualties, even innocent bystanders, will rest entirely with the terrorists and the Palestinian leaders who enable them to carry out their barbaric acts. And if by doing this we will create a new wave of international anti-Israeli condemnation, so be it.
The time has come to soberly recognize that what is now at stake is the very future of the state. If the premier fails to demonstrate that we are resolved to utilize maximum deterrent power, our future prospects are grim. We will see more rockets transforming Sderot into a ghost town and other Israeli cities, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, will soon also be targeted. Kidnappings and murders openly sanctioned by the Hamas government will become the order of the day. Terrorists are already boasting that they will soon also be launching chemical and biological weapons against us.
Reluctance to take tough responses will strengthen Hamas and other radicals in their belief that if they maintain the course and continue the terror, their oft-stated intention to wear us down in stages by increasingly eroding the quality of our lives will ultimately succeed.
THE PRIME minister and his cabinet must stop making grandiose threats. Olmert should now regard Winston Churchill rather than Neville Chamberlain as a role model. If the terror onslaughts against our civilians continue, the policies of restraint and appeasement must be substituted by a clear instruction to the IDF to maximize targeted assassinations and ensure that the heads of the snake - the Hamas leaders who orchestrate the evil - are primary targets. When Moshe Ya'alon was IDF chief of General Staff, he initiated this process and very soon afterward, terrified Hamas leaders were begging for a truce.
...The message to the Palestinians is simple: All who orchestrate or partake in the killing of Israelis will ultimately themselves be killed....
The writer chairs the Diaspora-Israel Relations Committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and is a veteran international Jewish firstname.lastname@example.org
Israeli and Hamas leaders have been hurling shrill threats right and left since three Palestinian terrorist groups slapped down a deadline to meet their demands over the Israeli hostage, Corp. Gilead Shalit. But the loudest effect is generated by the Bush administration’s silence.
...Israeli defense minister Amir Peretz said: “I advise Bashar Assad to open his eyes because the responsibility is laid at his door.” This threat against an incumbent ruler, blunt even by Middle East standards, referred to Hamas operations chief Khaled Meshaal working out of Damascus under the protection of Syrian military intelligence.
The trouble about this threat, apart from betraying the minister’s lack of experience in national crisis management, is that he joins a row of great world powers, who threatened the Syrian ruler with extinction and ended up backing off and leaving Bashar Asad sitting more firmly than ever on his presidential seat in Damascus.
In Moscow, Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni talked to Russian president Vladimir Putin, then warned that the Gilead Shalit hostage affair could lead to a regional war escalation. Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, after his mediation bid collapsed, hurried over to Saudi Arabia for an appeal to King Abdullah to use his influence with Assad – not Hamas – to defuse the situation before it hurtles out of control.
But DEBKAfile’s Middle East and military sources calculate that none of the recipients of these appeals is much scared about the prospect of a general Middle East flare-up. Russia, indeed, has a vested interest in a regional war. Putin is making good use of the US president George W. Bush’s preoccupations in Iraq, Korea and other parts of the world, to build Syria up as a jumping-off base for Russian penetration of the Middle East. Our sources report that hundreds of Russian military engineers are busy establishing two big naval bases in Syria’s Mediterranean ports of Tartus and Latakia. While listening to Tzipi LIvni’s appeal, the thoughts running through the Russian president’s head were most likely about the ways in which an Israel-Syrian military conflagration could be exploited to promote his plans.
Saudi King Abdullah is Hamas’s longstanding sponsor, ideologically and financially, in the same way as Riyadh backed the Taliban regime of Afghanistan in the 1980s. .... The Saudi monarch will therefore hold back from trying to drum moderation into Hamas heads. He may go through the motions of talking to Asad about injecting and element of calm in the situation - but only as a token favor to the Egyptian president rather than a practical step. He is perfectly aware that Iran is the dominant influence in Damascus at the moment.
The missing factor in this churning crisis is Washington, where no decision has been taken how to handle the Gilead Shalit kidnap and its harmful ripple effect through the region. As long as the United States stands on the sidelines, there is nothing to arrest the Middle East plunge into perilous waters.
... a Kassam rocket landed Tuesday night for the first time in the heart of Ashkelon, sending the city's 120,000 residents into a state of fear ....
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert termed the Kassam attack a "grave escalation" for which Hamas is responsible and for which there will be far-reaching ramifications. .... "Tonight a grave escalation took place when a Kassam landed in a school in our southern town. This is a peerless and grave escalation in the terrorist war for which Hamas, which is in control of the Palestinian government, is responsible," Olmert said....
In response to the attack, Defense Minister Amir Peretz ordered the IDF to step up the speed and intensity of Operation Summer Rains in the Gaza Strip, launched last Wednesday in an effort to retrieve Cpl. Gilad Shalit. "We intend to achieve the goals of our operations in Gaza," Peretz said, referring to stopping the Kassam rocket fire as well as retrieving the kidnapped IDF soldier.
No one was wounded by the rocket, which landed in a playground of a school in the heart of the Ashkelon residential area. Children playing soccer outside the ORT-Ronson High School on Rehov Ben Zvi were thrown back by the force of the explosion, witnesses reported, but were unharmed. The school suffered some damage. Earlier in the day, four rockets landed in the western Negev without causing any injuries.
Security officials described the Kassam as "upgraded," although featuring only one engine. Southern Police chief Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev said security forces had seen this type of rocket in the past and called on the residents of Ashkelon to remain calm and to carry on their lives as usual.
Hamas' military wing, Izzadin al-Kassam, claimed responsibility for the attack while claiming that the rocket had been upgraded to achieve a range of over 15 kilometers. Security officials said the rocket was fired from an open area between the former northern Gaza settlements of Nisanit and Dugit.
In the past, Kassams have landed in Ashkelon's periphery, particularly in the industrial zone. But in contrast to Sderot, Ashkelon is not equipped with the Red Dawn early warning system which alerts residents of an incoming rocket.
Spokeswoman for Ashkelon Municipality said that Mayor Roni Mahetzri was encouraging residents to go about their daily lives and vowed that terrorism would not win.
Meanwhile Tuesday, the IDF stepped up its offensive on the Gaza Strip despite the expiration of an ultimatum issued by the kidnappers of Shalit, abducted from his military outpost outside southern Gaza last Sunday. On Monday, several tank squads, bulldozers and infantry companies took up positions in northern Gaza opposite Beit Hanoun. On Tuesday, additional forces were sent into Gaza establishing a battalion-level presence in northern Gaza.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
According to the Albanian concept of besa, a sort of code of honor, a person in need must be provided with every possible measure of protection and assistance. It was thanks in no small measure to this idea that nearly all of Albania's 2,000 Jews — and hundreds of foreign Jewish refugees — were spared as World War II tore through Europe.
In April, journalist and amateur Holocaust historian Jack Goldfarb witnessed the unveiling of a granite monument devoted to Albania's heroism, thus fulfilling his own personal pledge of besa that began more than eight years ago. The monument is displayed at a Holocaust memorial park in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
"I have a tremendous satisfaction knowing that both my Albanian friends and those that carried out the heroic work have been honored here in New York," Goldfarb told the Forward. Goldfarb first learned of Albania's wartime history during a series of trips he took to the region in the 1990s, just as Albania was emerging from decades of communist rule.
In 1943, the Nazis asked Albanian authorities for a list of the country's Jews. They refused to comply. "Jews were then taken from the cities and hidden in the countryside," Goldfarb explained. "Non-Jewish Albanians would steal identity cards from police stations [for Jews to use]. The underground resistance even warned that anyone who turned in a Jew would be executed."
Goldfarb worked with Israel's Yad Vashem and with Bernd Fischer, a specialist in Albanian history at Indiana University -Purdue University Fort Wayne, to compile the material necessary for the approval of the new monument.
"This is a story that needs to be told," Fischer told the Forward this week. "There were actually more Jews in the country after the war than before — thanks to the Albanian traditions of religious tolerance and hospitality. In Albania, when someone crosses the threshold of your home, your honor depends on defending him."
The ball landed squarely in the Israeli court Saturday night, July 1, after Cairo admitted its bid to negotiate an end to the Gideon Shalit hostage crisis had ended in fiasco six days after his capture. The IDF, whose armored forces are standing 3 km inside the southern Gaza Strip since Wednesday, June 28, and camped on the fringes of its northern sector, are awaiting their next orders. It is up to prime minister Ehud Olmert to tell the troops how to complete their incursion of the territory and approach their confrontation with Hamas....Casualties on both sides are unavoidable.
Hamas is gearing up for action. Seven Fatah-al Aqsa Brigades factions have rallied to Hamas and are pledged to fight ..... by hurling themselves bodily against incoming Israeli tanks as martyrs.
...In an interview Friday, June 30, to the Cairo daily al Ahram, Hosni Mubarak boasted he had brokered a deal with Hamas leaders on terms for the Israeli hostage’s release, but accused Israel of rejecting them. This was the reverse of the real situation. Mubarak had no clearance from Hamas before he went public, but Olmert was willing to listen. Egypt’s intelligence chief Omar Suleiman was supposed to travel to Jerusalem Saturday, July 1, to present the deal in detail.
...After reading Mubarak’s al Ahram interview, Hamas leaders in Damascus and Gaza blew up. The Damascus-based Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, ordered the special emissary he sent to Cairo last week (as reported earlier by DEBKAfile) to notify the Egyptian president that Hamas utterly disowns his proposals for a hostage deal.
The Israeli corporal’s captors, a coalition of three terrorist groups, thereupon posted their new demand for the release of another 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, on top of the 450 demanded earlier. There was no offer to free Gilead Shalit. This reverse thoroughly confused the situation as presented in the media.
Olmert and Mubarak then found out from their intelligence agencies that Hamas had not let the grass grow under its feet. Taking advantage of the time gained by the hold-up in Israel’s advance into Gaza and Egypt’s mediation bid, Hamas used last week to recruit the seven armed Fatah suicide squads in the Gaza Strip and build a new alliance called “The National General Command of Asifa Palestine [NGCAP].”
The new grouping passed two resolutions.
1. Its members no longer recognize Mahmoud Abbas’s authority.
2. A concerted effort by all the allied factions will be mounted to fight Israeli forces if they deepen their incursion of the Gaza Strip.
Saturday night, July 1, the NGCAP announced its principle weapon would be suicide fighters. Israel military sources believe Fatah will have no difficulty in rounding up large numbers of recruits for a mass suicide assault.
In an effort to save his face, the Egyptian president made Abbas publicly state that night that the failure of Cairo’s mediation bid to free the Israeli hostage was not the fault of Egypt or Israel, but the lack of a responsible Hamas party to address.
DEBKAfile’s Palestinian sources report that Abu Mazen has calculated cynically that Olmert ..... will end up destroying the Hamas government on behalf of the Palestinian leader. This will not of course prevent Abbas from calling on the world to intervene and rescue the innocent Palestinian people from the Israeli armed forces.
Our political sources note that Israel’s leaders fell into the disastrous error of putting their trust in the Egyptian ruler instead of entrusting the IDF with a swift, comprehensive offensive to vanquish Hamas. The result of their dilly-dallying is that Israel is being dragged against its will into a far broader and more costly conflict whose outcome is incalculable against an enemy which has used the time gained to prepare for the fray.
Saturday too the Lebanese Hizballah placed its forces on the ready. Hassan Nasrallah, the terrorist group’s leader, explained that when the IDF attacks Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian organizations in Lebanon will be set loose against Israel’s northern border.
Monday, July 03, 2006
This is Khalil Eideh, Steve Bracks’s candidate for the Western Metro Region of the Legislative Council. He’s almost certain to be elected at the election in November. According to the Sunday Herald Sun, Mr Eideh has pledged ‘absolute loyalty’ to the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad. The newspaper published extracts from letters written by Mr Eideh to the Syrian president in which he speaks of Zionist and colonial attacks on the Arab nation. It also quoted a speech he gave in 2002 in which he claimed that “Satan brigades are getting ready to enslave the Arab world”. This speech, made to mark the second anniversary of the death of Syria’s last dictator, was published in the Sydney Arabic newspaper El Telegraph. The translation of the offending section reads:
Satan brigades from around the world are getting ready to enslave the Arab world.We can see your [the late President Assad’s] soul shining in the faces of Arab heroes and martyrs who are the conscience of the nation and the carriers of dawn flags coming from the south of Lebanon and Palestine.
What can he have meant by this? Surely he wasn’t praising Hezbollah?
Yesterday the Premier [Steve Bracks]was asked about it ...The Premier does not appear to get the issue here. ... it’s about whether or not the ALP should be endorsing a man who appears to praise one of the most notorious terrorist organizations in the world.
Why is the ALP planning to put this man into Parliament?
Ms Shardey has continued her opposition to this endorsement, on 16th June reporting of Foreign Mnister Downer's speech on the matter.
Also see reports in The Australian and the Australian Jewish News.
To support the campaign against this endorsement write to: email@example.com and copy Helen Shardey at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, July 02, 2006
IAF helicopter gunships attacked the office of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City overnight Saturday, setting the building on fire. One bystander was lightly wounded, hospital officials said. Witnesses said two missiles hit the south side of the building, setting it ablaze. Due to the late hour, the building was empty, they said.
The IDF confirmed the air strike, saying that it wanted to make clear to the most senior Hamas officials that it held the organization directly responsible for the kidnapping of IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit. An IDF spokesman said that the army would "employ all means at its disposal ... to secure the safe return" of the soldier.
...In other airstrikes overnight, the IAF fired missiles at a school in Gaza City and at Hamas facilities in the northern Gaza town of Jabalya, where a Hamas operative was killed and another was wounded... the operatives were "planning terror attacks against Israel."
Earlier Saturday, about five IDF tanks and bulldozers moved into the mostly empty Abasan area near the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, Palestinian security officials said. There were no reports of fighting or casualties. IDF activity in the Gaza Strip was continuing Saturday, with Navy and ground artillery shelling targets in both the northern and southern parts of the Strip.
The shelling of the southern regions were done out of concern that the Palestinians were preparing to transport Shalit to a new location. An army assessment believed he was being held in southern Gaza.
...Meanwhile, the Palestinian deputy minister of prisoner affairs said that kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit has received medical treatment for his wounds and is in stable condition.
Speaking at a news conference in Ramallah, Ziad Abu Aen cited unidentified "mediators" as telling him that Shalit... "...has three wounds," Abu Aen said. "I guess shrapnel wounds." ....The doctor's visit, which apparently took place on Thursday, came after pressure from Egypt led Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to approve the checkup. The kidnappers had originally refused to allow a visit.
...Shalit's kidnappers issued a new set of demands early Saturday calling on Israel to halt its offensive in Gaza and ordering the release of 1,000 prisoners. The demands did not explicitly say that Shalit would be returned in exchange for the requested actions. The notice was signed by three organizations: the armed wing of Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Army of Islam.
In response, Israeli officials reiterated that there would be no negotiations with terrorist organizations over Shalit's release.....
AP contributed to this report.
The Bush administration sees the United States at war with Islamic radicalism; has not the time come for it to see other theaters of this same war – Russia's with the Chechen rebels, India's with the Kashmiri insurgents, Israel's with Hamas – as we see our own, and work for the defeat of the Islamists?
Instead, in the Israeli case at least, Washington urges understanding, restraint, compromise, management of the problem, and other half-hearted and doomed remedies. The result is an ever more exhilarated and aggressive Palestinian population that believes victory within reach.
Washington's mistaken approach goes back to the Oslo accords of 1993, when Yasir Arafat seemingly closed the existential conflict in writing to Bill Clinton that "The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security." But Arafat's assurances were fraudulent and the Arab effort to eliminate Israel remains very much in place.
Israel, with U.S. support, must defeat this foul ambition. That implies inflicting a sense of defeat on the Palestinians, and winning their resignation to the permanent existence of a Jewish state in the Holy Land. Only then will the violence end.
In telephone conversation initiated by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Bush says 'Initial goal should be freeing Israeli soldier. That is key to ending the crisis'
...Earlier, US ambassador to the UN John Bolton called for caution during a UN Security Council meeting, but added that the best way to resolve the crisis was for Hamas to quickly and unconditionally release the captured Israeli corporal, Gilad Shalit. "The United States is of the firm view that a prerequisite for ending this conflict is that the governments of Syria and Iran end their role as state sponsors of terror and unequivocally condemn the actions of Hamas, including Shalit's kidnapping,” Bolton said.
Syria also should arrest Hamas leader and "known international terrorist" Mashaal, who lives in Damascus, and shut down Hamas offices on its territory, Bolton said.