Saturday, February 09, 2008

Change of heart

From the LA Times, by: Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo February 08, 2008:

As the border with the Gaza Strip was being sealed off, the Egyptian state-owned media launched a campaign apparently seeking to overturn public sympathy for the Palestinians. Since Egypt started to regain control over its border, preventing Palestinians from coming in, newspapers have become harsh, with front-page news about Palestinians shooting at Egyptian soldiers, weapons smuggling, terrorism and reports of false currency in the Sinai and threats to national security.

The new content replaces headlines that showed sympathy with the Palestinians, stressing President Hosni Mubarak's statements that Egypt would not let the Palestinians starve. However, 10 days later, a change of heart has become crystal-clear. Rosa-al-Yousef, a state-owned paper known as the most vocal mouthpiece of the regime, has spearheaded the anti-Palestinian campaign. "Egypt is generous and patient but its patience has limits," warned a front-page headline that appeared after skirmishes the Egyptian-Palestinian borders earlier this week.

The paper even questioned whether Gaza had a humanitarian crisis, hinting that Gazans were well-off. "It is not true that the siege imposed on Gaza caused a serious humanitarian crisis that eventually led to the Palestinian flood [into Egypt]," wrote Abdullah Kamal, Rosa-al-Yousef's editor-in-chief and a staunch proponent of Mubarak's regime. "Each [Gazan] comer spent an average of US$260 in three days....the total spending during that period [where the Gazans broke through Egypt] reached US$ 220 million. These figures raise real questions about the financial situation in the Gaza Strip."

Friday, February 08, 2008

Egypt fears Gazans bought land in Sinai

From Feb 7, 2008 by KHALED ABU TOAMEH:

Egyptian authorities are investigating claims that many Gazans bought land in Sinai in the past few weeks.

...Egyptian law prohibits foreigners from purchasing land in Sinai.

The investigation comes amid growing tension between Egypt and Hamas over the tearing down of the security fence along the border with the Gaza Strip. ...authorities have decided to suspend contacts with the Hamas leadership in protest of the breaching of the border.

... Cairo had also declared Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal persona non grata. In addition, several Hamas leaders from the Gaza Strip have been told they would not be allowed to enter Egypt. They include Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Mahmoud Zahar and Said Siam.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit issued a strong warning to Hamas on Thursday.
"Anyone who violates Egypt's borders will get his legs broken," Aboul Gheit was quoted as saying.....

...Mubarak dispatched the governor of northern Sinai, Ahmed Abdel Hamid, to warn the Beduin in Sinai against selling land to Palestinians. Palestinian sources claimed earlier that dozens of families from the Gaza Strip who crossed into Sinai have purchased thousands of dunams of land from Beduin tribes there.

....The semi-official Al-Ahram newspaper in Cairo reported on Thursday that Egyptian security forces have rounded up some 650 Palestinians who were staying in el-Arish. It said the Egyptians were planning to deport them to the Gaza Strip in the coming days...

Islamic Reform Movement

From Muslims Against Sharia Islamic Reform Movement web site home page [brief excerpts only - follow the link to the site for the full text]:


  • to educate Muslims about dangers presented by Islamic religious texts and why Islam must be reformed
  • to educate non-Muslims about the differences between moderate Muslims and Islamists (a.k.a. Islamic Religious Fanatics, Radical Muslims, Muslim Fundamentalists, Islamic Extremists or Islamofascists)
  • to educate both Muslims and non-Muslims alike that Moderate Muslims are also targets of Islamic Terror


Acknowledging mistakes
.... We, as Muslims, find it abhorrent that Islam is used to murder millions of innocent people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Inconsistencies in the Koran
Unfortunately, Islamic religious texts, including the Koran and the Hadith contain many passages, which call for Islamic domination and incite violence against non-Muslims. It is time to change that....

The Koran & the Bible
...Could it be possible that the Koran itself was corrupted by Muslims over the last thirteen centuries?

The need for reform
Islam, in its present form, is not compatible with principles of freedom and democracy. Twenty-first century Muslims have two options: we can continue the barbaric policies of the seventh century ....or we can reform Islam to keep our rich cultural heritage and to cleanse our religion from the reviled relics of the past.

We, as Muslims who desire to live in harmony with people of other religions, agnostics, and atheists choose the latter option.

We can no longer allow Islamic extremists to use our religion as a weapon. We must protect future generations of Muslims from being brainwashed by the Islamic radicals. If we do not stop the spread of Islamic fundamentalism, our children will become homicidal zombies.

Accepting responsibilities
To start the healing process, we must acknowledge evils done by Muslims in the name of Islam ...remove evil passages from Islamic religious texts...War, murder, violence, divisiveness & discrimination are not Islamic values.

Religious privacy
Religion is the private matter of every individual. Any person should be able to freely practice any religion as long as the practice does not interfere with the local laws, and no person must be forced to practice any religion. .....

Islam is one of the many of the world's religions. There will be no Peace and Harmony in the World if Muslims and non-Muslims do not have equal rights.

Islamic supremacy doctrine is just as repulsive as Aryan supremacy doctrine. History clearly shows what happens to the society whose members consider themselves above other peoples. All moderate Muslims must repudiate the mere notion of Islamic supremacy.

Sharia Law must be abolished, because it is incompatible with norms of modern society.

Outdated practices
Any practices that might have been acceptable in the Seventh Century; i.e., stoning, cutting off body parts, marrying and/or having sex with children or animals, must be condemned by every Muslim.

Outdated verses
The following verses promote divisiveness and religious hatred, bigotry and discrimination. They must be either removed from the Koran or declared outdated and invalid, and marked as such.

Outdated words & phrases
Use of the following words and phrases or their variations must be prohibited during religious services:
  • Infidel / Unbeliever: these terms have negative connotation and promote divisiveness and animosity; Islam is not the only religion
  • Jihad: this word is often interpreted as Holy War against non-Muslims
  • Mujaheed / Holy Warrior: no more wars in the name of Islam
  • American (Christian / Crusader / Israeli / Zionist) occupation: these terms promote bigotry; at this point in time, Muslims living in non-Muslim lands have more freedoms than Muslims living in Muslim lands

....Islam has no place for violence. Any person calling for an act of violence in the name of Islam must be promptly excommunicated....

......Brothers and Sisters! Do not make the next generation of Muslims clean up your mess! Fight Islamic Fascism now, so your children won't have to!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Iran will have nuclear weapon in three years

From the AFP, 6/2/08:

... Israel's Mossad ... estimates Iran will develop a nuclear weapon within three years and continue to provide rockets to regional armed groups, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Mossad director Meir Dagan, in an intelligence assessment presented to Israel's powerful foreign affairs and defence committee on Monday, said the Jewish state would face increased threats on all fronts....Dagan's estimate of Iran's nuclear ambitions differs sharply from an assessment by the US intelligence community late last year that said Iran had mothballed its nuclear weapons programme in 2003.

...In Monday's report, Dagan also predicted that Tehran would continue to supply more and better rockets and training to Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip. Dagan added that Iran's allies Syria and the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah were also working to develop an increased rocket ability. "Syria is improving its surface-to-surface missile system and today the quantity of missiles and rockets is twice as large as two years ago," Dagan said.....

IDF raids Dimona bomber's home in Hebron

From Ynet News, 7/2/08, by Ali Waked:

Soldiers once again pay visit to suicide bomber Mohammed Herbawi family's house in West Bank where they confiscate cell phone and pictures; terrorist's smother praises her son's actions, his sister suffers heart attack

IDF forces raided the home of the one of the perpetrators of the suicide bombing in Dimona, Mohammad Herbawi, in Hebron on Wednesday. The neighborhood of the West Bank town where the raid was carried out is considered a Hamas stronghold.

The soldiers searched the home and questioned neighboring residents. They ordered Palestinian Authority forces in the area to remain inside their headquarters during the operation....

...The troops confiscated Herbawi's cell phone and some of his pictures from the house.

The bomber's mother told the Palestinian press on Wednesday that that she was proud of her son and happy that he joined the lot of other heroic martyrs....

...This is not the first raid of the Herbawi residence. Almost immediately after the attack in Dimona, the IDF arrested the father and brother of the bomber as well as the parents of the second bomber, Shadi Zghayer....

....Hebron residents knew that Herbawi and Zghayer were Hamas members, but most of the residents were surprised to discover that the two were the suicide bombers who carried out the attack which killed one woman and injured dozens.....

Efrat Weiss and Roni Sofer contributed to the story

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Dimona bombing victim identified

From Ynet News, 3/4/08:

Woman killed in Monday's terror attack identified as 73 year-old Liuvov Razdolskiya. Her husband still hospitalized in critical condition at Soroka hospital

The woman killed in the suicide bombing in Dimona Monday morning has been identified as Liuvov Razdolskiya, a 73-year-old Dimona resident.

Police struggled for hours to identify Razdolskiya, and DNA samples collected from those who were believed to be her family members eventually helped shed light on the mystery.

The difficulty in identifying the woman stemmed from the fact that her husband, also in his 70s, was critically wounded in the attack and has been hospitalized at the intensive care unit at Beersheba's Soroka hospital.

His condition is still defined as very serious – he is on life support and is suffering from wounds to his abdomen, chest and head....

We must defeat Islamofascism

From an Opinion by MIKE HUCKABEE, a former governor of Arkansas seeking the Republican Party nomination for president, THE JERUSALEM POST Feb. 4, 2008 [my emphasis added - SL]:

....the war in Iraq is a critical part of the war on terror...Iraq must be stable and secure within its borders. It is not just Iraq's security that is at stake, but the security of the entire region and of the United States. But among those who seem to want to leave as soon as possible, regardless of the strategic and humanitarian consequences, is Sen. Barack Obama, one of the two remaining Democratic candidates for the presidency.

I have another grave concern about Sen. Obama, which was well-expressed by Matt Brooks, Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition:

"We are deeply troubled by Senator Obama's desire to 'hold a summit in the Muslim world, with all heads of state' many of whom have yet to renounce terrorism or refrain from anti-Semitic incitement. ...Senator Obama said he wanted to listen to the 'concerns' of these nations. For many, their biggest concern is Israel's existence. It's worrisome that Senator Obama wants to 'listen' to those calling for Israel's destruction."

... we must not pay any sort of tribute to terrorist states ...We shouldn't engage in impromptu diplomacy based on a misplaced sense of "empathy." That's why I am concerned about Sen. Obama's suggestion. I don't want to hear the "concerns" of terrorist states - but ... I want everyone in the Middle East to know that America is committed to its strategic interests in the region, including a safe and secure Israel.

Does Senator Obama really want to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, for example? Sen. Obama has said he wants to, both as part of his summit, and privately. Hard to believe, but true, according to his interviews with Paris Match (January 31, 2008) and the International Herald Tribune (November 1, 2007). Iran and its partner Syria bring danger and death to Americans and Israelis on a daily basis though their support of terrorists - in Gaza, Lebanon, and of course, in Iraq.

..... As president, I will ensure that Israel always has the state-of-the-art weaponry and technology she needs. And in addition, I will dramatically increase American defense spending. Before there can be true peace, there must be the basic recognition of Israel's right to exist and an end to anti-Semitic and anti-Israel lies and propaganda.

Together, we must prevent nuclear proliferation and defeat Islamofascism. Together, we must be the people who confront and overcome evil. We must be the people who take action now, so that future generations ...don't look back and ask "Why didn't somebody do something?"

Terror attack was matter of time after Gaza border breach

ANALYSIS from Haaretz, by Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff 4/1/08:

Despite the closure of the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on Sunday, it seemed that the next attack, kidnapping or suicide bombing carried out by a Palestinian group against Israelis, in Sinai or the southern Negev, was just a matter of time.

With the border remaining completely open for 12 days, it is difficult to estimate the amount of arms and munitions that were brought into the Strip. Hani and Rami Hamdan, the two brothers from Gaza caught on Saturday wearing explosive belts in Sinai by the Egyptian security forces, four kilometers west of Rafah, were not operating independently.

Just a day earlier the Egyptians arrested 15 armed Palestinians in Sinai, 12 of whom were members of Hamas. Last week, another cell of five Palestinians was arrested near the Taba crossing, and explosive belts were found in their possession. It is fair to assume that in spite of the Egyptian interest to cooperate with Israel in an effort to avert attacks, there are cells who have managed to evade them and hide in the broad expanses of Sinai. In Egypt, they believe that these cells are planning attacks in Sinai, but it also appears that some of them will try to penetrate into Israel along the 300 kilometers of the porous Israel-Sinai border.

Some of the cells are linked with Hamas. Others are part of smaller Palestinian factions. What is clear is that Egypt is now dependent on the goodwill of the Islamic organization. If Hamas wishes, the border at Rafah will remain sealed. If it does not, thousands of Palestinians will be allowed once more to rush into Sinai. Cairo now finds itself facing conflicting Palestinian pressure. Hamas is demanding to set up an orderly crossing through Rafah. If Cairo refuses, the Hamas policemen will ensure that Palestinians sneak into Sinai, like they did Sunday.

Hamas wants larger supplies of fuel and electricity from Egypt. This is also something that Egypt will find it difficult to oppose, since the organization enjoys public support in Egypt, where it is regarded as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, if Egypt agrees to Hamas' demands, it will come into conflict with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is opposed to any compromises with the Islamic organization, and to tensions with the Americans.

Cooperation with Hamas in opening the Rafah crossing means a perpetuation of the Hamas rule in Gaza and a deepening of the rift between Fatahland in the West Bank and Hamastan in the Gaza Strip.

On the face of it, Israel may find some satisfaction at finally seeing Egypt drawn into the Gaza quagmire. But the situation is not a zero-sum game in which a loss for Cairo is an advantage for Jerusalem. Gaza has remained an Israeli problem.

The most troubling aspect of these dramatic developments is that they occured almost by accident and not as a result of an orderly decision-making process in Israel.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided in mid-January to tighten the economic blockade of the Gaza Strip and close the crossings completely following a barrage of rocket attacks against Sderot. The matter was not discussed in an orderly fashion, nor were the professional echelons consulted. The cabinet was nearly not part of the process, and the broadening of the cuts to fuel supplies was done through a broad interpretation of the Supreme Court decision.

For their part, Israeli intelligence missed the meaning of the preparations carried out by Hamas for breaching the border. On the eve of the breakout, the defense establishment in Israel described their policy on the blockade as "trial and error." It seems that it was mostly error.

Hamas Calls Suicide Bombing In Israel "Heroic Act"

From Dow Jones Newswires 02-04-08 and AFP:

GAZA CITY (AFP)--The Palestinian Hamas movement said a suicide bombing in southern Israel on Monday that killed one woman civilian was a "heroic act" and a "natural response to occupation crimes."

.... Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP in Gaza City...... "We bless this operation and call on armed groups to continue on the same path."

A suicide bomber died in Monday's attack in a shopping centre in the southern city of Dimona as well as the woman civilian. A second bomber was shot by police, medics said.

Allied apathetic response to Shoah

From THE JERUSALEM POST, by Etgar Lefkovits, Feb. 3, 2008 [my emphasis added - SL]:

An American Holocaust institute has criticized US and British historians for "distorting and misrepresenting" the Allied response to the genocide of Europeans Jews by Nazi Germany.

The criticism the Washington-based David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies comes after President George W. Bush said on January 11 that the US should have bombed Auschwitz during World War II, in the first such public statement by an American president.

Those the Wyman Institute singled out for censure included American historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr, who opposed the bombing of Auschwitz, as well as statements exaggerating Winston Churchill's aid to European Jewry during the Third Reich, some of which were made by his official biographer, British historian Martin Gilbert.

In his posthumously published diaries, Schlesinger claimed that the difference between the Allies bombing Auschwitz and the Germans killing Jews in Auschwitz was that bombing the camp would have killed Jews more quickly.

Schlesinger's statement topped the Wyman Institute's listing of the "10 most absurd" statements of 2007 about how the Allies responded to the Nazi genocide. "In fact, bombing the camps might or might not have resulted in some Jewish casualties, but not in numbers even remotely close to those being killed by the Nazis, and bombing the railroad lines in all likelihood would have resulted in few if any Jewish casualties, since the planes would be targeting the railroad tracks and bridges, not the railroad cars moving along them," the Wyman Institute said.
The US had detailed reports about Auschwitz toward the end of WWII from escaped prisoners, but chose not to bomb the camp, or the rail lines leading to it, on the grounds that it would have diverted military resources.

But respected Holocaust historians say the Allies' decision not to bomb the camp or the railway lines, even as they bombed German oil factories less than 8 km. away, stemmed from indifference to the plight of the Jews, and that the Allies could have saved hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews gassed during 1944.

Two statements by Gilbert on Churchill's relationship with the Jews contained in the historian's Churchill and the Jews: A Lifelong Friendship were also faulted by the Wyman Institute as being inaccurate, including when Gilbert wrote that Churchill always made time to deal with Jewish issues. "In fact, Churchill refused to deal personally with news of the Holocaust or appeals for rescue, directing all such inquiries to the Foreign Office, which prepared the replies," the Wyman Institute said.

"Since the late 1960s, a significant amount of serious scholarly research has been done concerning the Allies' response to the Holocaust, and as new records are made available, important new work is being done in the field," said Prof David S. Wyman, author of The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 1941-1945. "Yet, sadly, errors and distortions - many of them severe - also continue to appear in some books and articles, sometimes motivated by partisanship, sometimes by just plain carelessness," he said.
"Historians of the Holocaust have a solemn obligation to delve deeply into the archives and produce works that are based on original and impartial research," said Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the Wyman Institute.

"The public is counting on us to shed light on these difficult subjects, so that today's generation can learn the lessons of the Allies' apathetic response to the Holocaust," he said.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Dimona suicide attack

From » Feb 4, 2008, by JPOST.COM STAFF:

One woman was killed and ten people were wounded, one critically, one moderately and eight lightly, in a suicide attack in a Dimona commercial center.

Police said the attack was a suicide bombing carried out by two attackers, but only one succeeded in detonating his explosives. The other terrorist was killed by Kobi Mor, a police officer from an elite unit who happened to be on the scene, seconds before the bomber could detonate himself.

Magen David Adom ambulances evacuated the wounded to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.

.....Shalom Bar Avi, a journalist .... praised the police's quick response to the attack, and said Mor, the officer who identified the second attacker shot "four or five times ... he took no chances."
Later Mor's heroism was revealed in detail: He shot the terrorist in the head, and when the latter in his last breath still tried to press the detonator button, shot him four more times and killed him. Mor managed to kill the terrorist before he could explode and without hitting his explosive belt, thus preventing a much more devastating attack.

....The Jerusalem Brigades of Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, confirming in its statement that the attackers entered Israel through the Sinai, but several minutes later several organizations, including Hamas and Fatah, also claimed responsibility according to Channel 10.

Southern Israel has been on alert against terror attacks since the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers breached the border with Egypt on January 23. The breach made the Negev, where Dimona is located, more vulnerable to penetration by Palestinian terrorists who could enter through the Sinai.....

AP contributed to this report

Letter from Gilad Schalit

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Feb. 4, 2008:

Egyptian sources facilitating the negotiations between Israel and Hamas said Israel has recently received a letter from IDF Cpl. Gilad Schalit, as part of the process to push forward a prisoner exchange with Hamas.

... the letter's authenticity was ascertained and it has been given to the Schalit family. The Egyptian sources said this letter greatly stepped up contact between the sides to the current situation, where a deal is almost finalized.

Jerusalem has maintained silence regarding the letter, but an initiative by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to ease the criteria for prisoner release is believed geared towards bringing to an end Schalit captivity. Among the prisoners considered for release are some with "blood on their hands." Reportedly, the point of contention is between IDF officials who believe that after being given "a sign of life, a negotiations track and a list of demands" Israel has only "to decide to act," and push for a speedy final deal even at the price of releasing dangerous terrorists, on the one hand; and Shin Bet agents, who think negotiations should be exhausted and criteria should not be made too flexible, on the other hand....

Hamas re-arms and spreads out

From DEBKAfile, February 3, 2008, 11:16 PM (GMT+02:00):

Shin Bet chief reports: Masses of high-quality weaponry, such as long-range rockets, roll into Gaza through the breached Sinai border

Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin
The domestic security agency’s director, Yuval Diskin, warned the Israeli cabinet Sunday, Feb. 3, that the Palestinians exploited the chaos on the Gaza-Sinai border to smuggle in quantities of long-range rockets, anti-tank and anti-air rockets and high explosives for missiles. Hundreds of Palestinian terrorists have headed south into Sinai. According to Western intelligence sources, they are spread out along the 220-km Israeli border....

....The number of armed terrorists at large in Sinai is estimated in the region of a thousand. Hamas prepared at least 30 tracks for them to use when it bulldozed the Gaza-Sinai border ten days ago. Defense minister Ehud Barak therefore told the cabinet that a border barrier must be constructed urgently at two sections of the unfenced Israel-Egyptian border – Nitzana and Eilat.....

.... Now, the Egyptian-Israel border is wide open to terrorists and they have been presented with a safe haven in Sinai for hit-and-run attacks....

Olmert to release terrorists

From » Feb 3, 2008, y HERB KEINON :

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has decided to relax the criteria regarding prisoners to be included in an exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit and push forward with a swap, despite vociferous objections by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet)....

.... Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin has argued against relaxing the criteria and engaging in a massive exchange of hard-core security prisoners, saying this could lead to a spike in terrorism and harm Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's standing among Palestinians, while boosting support for Hamas.

Israel's position up until now has been that it would not release prisoners with "blood on their hands," a broad definition that would exclude from any list precisely those prisoners the Palestinians most wanted to see released.....The deal will reportedly include the exchange of 450 Palestinian prisoners, whose names were drawn up over the last six weeks by an interministerial committee.....

....Last week's Winograd Committee report on the Second Lebanon War strongly urged that Israel not do "crazy deals" to secure the release of captured soldiers, since this only boosted terrorists' motivation to capture more.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Hamas marches on...

From a DEBKAfile Report February 3, 2008, 8:23 AM (GMT+02:00):

Hamas lengthens its border with Israel by 220 km and gains Egyptian de facto recognition.... Hamas and its missile shooters have placed Eilat within range as well as Sderot.

Hamas' Mahmoud a-Zahar in Cairo

The Egyptian government submitted to the new status quo created by Hamas when it bulldozed the Gaza-Sinai border ten days ago. In effect, Cairo extended de facto recognition to Hamas’ rule of the Gaza Strip and the Ismail Haniya government. In so doing, the Mubarak government broke away from the international boycott of Hamas rule in Gaza.

A Palestinian state sponsored, armed and backed by Iran and Syria on Israel’s southwestern border drastically worsens Israel’s strategic and military position in regional terms. Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, Israel’s negotiating partners, have been left far behind in the Palestinian power stakes. By failing to step in and halt this dangerous process, Israel has left the West Bank wide open to a Hamas-Jihad Islami takeover.

....The deal with Egypt establishes a joint mechanism with Hamas for the Gaza-Sinai border. Gazan Palestinians would continue to move freely across the border and the Rafah terminal would be reopened – from now on manned by armed Hamas officials. Hamas therefore gained everything it wanted from Cairo on the Gaza-Sinai border and recognition without firing a shot.

.......Another step decided in Cairo was to integrate token elements of the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah in the new Gazan border arrangements. Accepting the offer would commit Abbas to cooperation with the Hamas rule which ousted his PA from Gaza last summer.

Meshaal and a-Zahar were not averse to restoring a European monitoring presence to Rafah in place of those who fled after the Hamas coup, but they insisted on Russians, maintaining that Moscow, which keeps a mission in Gaza, merited a stronger role in its affairs. If this plan works out, Moscow would win an active role in an issue bound up with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without consultation with Jerusalem.

Sudan-backed Chad rebels seize capital

From DEBKAfile, February 2, 2008, 11:23 AM (GMT+02:00):

Chadian rebel fighters
According to some reports, troops of the United Military command of the rebel alliance were already in the presidential palace and ransacking parliament in Ndjamena Saturday, Feb. 2. A French military source later said Chadian government forces had beaten back the rebels surrounding the presidential palace.

French defense minister Herve Morin said France remains neutral in the Chad conflict. He spoke after President Nicolas Sarkozy conferred with cabinet members in Paris.

DEBKAfile: It is up to French president Nicolas Sarkozy to decide whether to let Sudan get away with a major victory in Chad or intervene with a large paratroop, helicopter and warplane force to oust the rebels. Sarkozy called an urgent meeting of cabinet meetings in Paris to discuss France’s options.

The rebel incursion surprised the French and US embassies before they completed preparations to evacuate their staff and nationals. Fighting near the airport prevented their departure. The 1,500 French expatriates were warned to stay indoors. It also began the week an EU peacekeeping force was due to start deploying advance troops in Chad and the neighboring Central African Republic to protect civilians and Darfur refugees. Their mission has now been suspended....

.....African Union leaders have strongly condemned the rebel attacks and vowed to reject any ”unconstitutional change” of regime in Chad. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was concerned by the fighting.

Israelis told to prepare 'rocket rooms' for war

From Yahoo News, Sat Feb 2:

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Retired senior officers told Israelis on Saturday to prepare "rocket rooms" as protection against a rain of missiles expected to be fired at the Jewish state in any future conflict.

A house in the Israeli town of Sderot that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip. Retired senior officers told Israelis to prepare "rocket rooms" as protection against a rain of missiles expected to be fired at the Jewish state in any future conflict.
(AFP/File/David Buimovitch)
...retired general Udi Shani said: "The next war will see a massive use of ballistic weapons against the whole of Israeli territory." Shani was tasked recently with drawing up a report on the way the military authorities operated during Israel's 2006 summer war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. During that conflict thousands of rockets hit Israel, but were limited to the north of the country from where hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated.
The character of war has changed, said the general. "Strikes to the rear must now be taken into account -- that is what will come and we must prepare in a totally different way for this eventuality," he said.

Another reserve officer, Colonel Yehiel Kuperstein, added: "Protection of civilians must today be assured even inside their homes. "There is no absolute protection, but the best possible sort is that of a room able to provide shelter" inside houses, he said, evoking the norms in force in Israel for several years which envisage each apartment having a room with reinforced walls able to serve as a shelter.

....The authorities have distributed a brochure in six languages with advice on what to do, particularly in the event of missile attacks, as well as launching a campaign on radio and television....

Mosque group 'in a line to jihad'

From The Australian, by Natalie O'Brien January 31, 2008:

THE Islamic group accused of trying to seize control of Sydney's Sefton mosque is part of a movement described as a recruiting ground for al-Qa'ida in a new terrorism intelligence report.

The group attempting the takeover has members who follow the Tablighi Jamaat stream of Islam, described this week by the private US intelligence group Stratfor as an "indirect line to terrorism".

Members of the Tablighi movement have recently been linked to a terrorist cell in Spain that was planning a bomb attack in Barcelona. .....

....Members of the Tablighi in Sydney have been accused of attempting to oust the imam at the Sefton mosque, in Sydney's southwest, so they can take control and bring in their own Tablighi sheik.

Attempts by the The Australian to contact Talbighi for a response were last night unsuccessful.
Trouble at the mosque began last year and spilled over into legal action, resulting in the Bankstown Magistrates Court being told that the power struggle was about the Tablighi members staging a takeover....

Egypt searches for terrorists in Sinai

From JPost, Feb 1, 2008, by ASSOCIATED PRESS RAFAH, Gaza Strip

Egyptian security forces were looking for four Palestinians on Saturday who slipped into the country from the Gaza Strip the previous day and were suspected of planning suicide attacks against resorts in the Sinai Peninsula, a local security official said....

....The search follows the arrests of 15 Palestinians over the past few days who were caught carrying weapons and explosives in the town of el-Arish, located some 35 kilometers from the border, and other remote parts of the Sinai desert.

Twelve of those arrested were members of Hamas, said a senior intelligence officer in northern Sinai, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. The group consisted of two cells arrested separately as they attempted to sneak out of el-Arish carrying explosives, electric circuits, machine guns and ammunition, the official added.

Thousands of Palestinians continued to pour through the breached Gaza-Egypt frontier on Saturday, a day after Hamas used bulldozers to widen the breach of the 12-kilometer-long border to allow trucks to cross into Egypt. Egyptian police did not block the trucks' access and Palestinian sources said that the Egyptians would wait until Sunday before attempting to reseal the border....

....Gaza's Hamas rulers want a role in running the border with Egypt, a demand rejected this week by Egypt and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
It remains unclear whether Hamas will use force to keep the border open....

Sinai crawling with terrorists

From a Ynet Report, by Roee Nahmias, 1/2/08:

Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports Hamas operatives, planning to attack tourists, captured by Egyptian security forces in peninsula

Egyptian security forces arrested Thursday two Palestinian terror cells in Sinai...the men arrested were all Hamas operatives who were planning to carry out terror attacks against tourists in the peninsula. They were found to be carrying explosives.

Egyptian security officials confirmed that 10 operatives were captured, and added that two escaped and that security force were still searching for them....

... Wednesday, Egyptians security forces arrested five Palestinians in Taba, across the border from Eilat, who were in possession of a bomb belt which they planned to use in a suicide bombing in Israel, Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram reported.... additional group of Palestinians was caught in possession of a map indicating openings and troop concentrations along the Israeli-Egyptian border..... The Palestinians were also found with a large explosive device and some sophisticated weapons including sniper rifles....

Palestinian-al Qaeda team attacks Israel

From DEBKAfile, February 1, 2008, 10:51 AM (GMT+02:00):

Egyptian security forces in Sinai detain first mixed Palestinian-al Qaeda team for attacks on Israel

Detained Friday, Feb. 1, they were carrying explosives for attacks on Israelis in Sinai and across border. Ten were described as Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, two from “the Gulf."

DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources identify these two as Saudi members of al Qaeda, eight as belonging to Hamas’ military arm and the remaining two as Jihad Islami. This is the first proof of operational links in the Gaza Strip and Middle East between the Palestinian Hamas and its allies, including Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah, and al Qaeda.

Apart from closing down parts of southern Israel to civilian traffic and an ineffective blockade, Israel’s armed forces have not been called upon to deal with this new threat from Gaza.