Saturday, July 15, 2006

Israeli air strike on Nasrallah's home

From ABC News Online, 15/7/06 - AFP/Reuters...

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has declared "open war" against the Jewish state after emerging unscathed from an Israeli air strike on his home and office in the Lebanese capital. "You wanted an open war, you will get an open war," the Shiite militant leader said in a defiant audio message after the evening raid.

....Nasrallah said there would be "war at all levels ... to Haifa, and beyond Haifa...."

...An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to describe the evening air strike as an assassination attempt against the 45-year-old Hezbollah chief. She would confirm only that a "Hezbollah terror organisation headquarters was targeted". But Israeli television said that it was a calculated attempt against Nasrallah's life carried out in response to specific intelligence on his whereabouts. Hezbollah television said the strikes "destroyed the building that hosts Hezbollah's secretariat-general" and that Nasrallah's house was hit.

Israeli government ministers had made no secret of their desire to see the Hezbollah leader eliminated. Israeli Interior Minister Roni Bar-On told public radio ahead of the strikes that Nasrallah decided his own fate. "We will settle our accounts with him when the time comes," he said.

The Hezbollah leader's predecessor Abbas al-Musawi was killed in a 1992 Israeli air strike, along with his wife and three-year-old daughter....

An Australian Hitler

From The Australian, July 15, 2006, by Richard Kerbaj ...

THE nation's Islamic leader, Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, has dismissed the Holocaust as a "Zionist lie" in a series of fiery sermons in which he also lashed out at the West and the US-led occupation of Iraq.

... The Weekend Australian has [a number of recordings] of Sheik Hilali's religious addresses delivered in Arabic over the past eight months.

.... Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs Andrew Robb will tomorrow unveil details of federal funding for national projects to help address problems within the Islamic community.
Mr Robb, who oversees the advisory group, told The Weekend Australian Sheik Hilali's reported comments were "inflammatory and unacceptable".

...Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said the mufti's intolerance of other religions was hypocritical. "It is not the time for anyone in positions of responsibility to make comments about other groups, particularly if you are someone who has been concerned about a lack of tolerance towards Muslims," he said.

In a February sermon, Sheik Hilali attacked the Western press for being afraid to admit that the Holocaust was "a ploy made by the Zionists". He also trivialised the number of Jews killed by the Nazis. "What's that six million all about? Is there six million?", said the Egyptian-born cleric, before calling on Muslims worldwide to boycott Danish goods over the publication of cartoons that offended Muslims for their depiction of the prophet Mohammed.

"The West say we have freedom and freedom of speech," he told thousands of his followers on February 3. "But journalism stops and shuts up when it discusses the burning of the Jews - the Holocaust -- the Zionist lie and the industry that the West deals in."

In another Friday sermon, delivered two weeks ago at Lakemba Mosque - titled The Zionists Murder Palestinians and the World Watches and the Muslims Are Silent - he called the US the breeders of oppression and labelled Israel a "cancer that is planted in the heart of the Ummah (Muslim community)".

Friday, July 14, 2006


From The New Republic, by the Editors Post date 07.13.06 ...

There are crises that complicate and crises that clarify. The crisis along Israel's southern and northern frontiers is of the latter sort. Hamas and Hezbollah, in accordance with their lunatic assumption that the worse, the better, crossed an internationally recognized border and killed and have taken hostage soldiers of the neighboring state whose existence they despise. The attacks were unprovoked, except by the attackers' view of the world. Israel has rightly chosen to regard these provocations very seriously, and so far it has earned the sympathy of decent observers everywhere.

What has been clarified by this round of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, first and foremost, the character of Israel's adversaries. They are Islamist terrorists, and proud to be so. More ominously, they are Islamist terrorists come to power. Hamas is no longer only a movement; it is now also a government. In the months since Hamas was elected by the Palestinians to govern (or misgovern) them, the regime of Ismail Haniyeh and company has presided over the launching of hundreds of Qassam rockets into Israel, applauded a suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv restaurant (it would have been hypocritical of them not to applaud it!), allowed an unprecedented escalation of the conflict with the firing of a souped-up rocket into Ashkelon--the first time such a strike has been made against a major Israeli city--and, of course, kidnapped Corporal Gilad Shalit. All of this, again, is the work of a government. When Hamas was elected, there was an eruption of assurances in the media that power will breed responsibility, that the drudgeries of governing will usurp the ecstasies of bombing, and so on. "Hamas?" the headline on the cover of The New York Review of Books asked hopefully. But the Hamas rulers of Palestine have made it plain that they see no contradiction between governing and bombing. Success at the ballot box has had no calming effect. It has merely conferred political legitimacy upon moral depravity.

Hezbollah, of course, is not a government, but it is a part of a government. Its freedom of action, its unreconstructed radicalism, its pervasive presence in Lebanese politics: All this brings to mind nasty memories of a few decades ago, so that it is not incorrect to say that, over the last 30 years, Lebanon has exchanged a PLO mini-state within its borders for a Hezbollah mini-state within its borders. When Shalit was kidnapped, Hamas cited the precedent of Hezbollah's kidnappings (and prisoner-exchanges) in the past, as if in exoneration of its own extortion. Hezbollah has always been Hamas's teacher in the great madrassa of anti-Israeli terrorism. Now the teacher has taken a cue from the student and taken its own Israeli hostages. Israel must now remind its adversaries that it was deadly in earnest when, decades ago, it proclaimed that it would tolerate no such aggression along its northern border.

There is also a larger strategic dimension to the Hamas-Hezbollah offensive. These provocations stink of Assad and Ahmadinejad. The Hamas action in Gaza appears to have been ordered by Khaled Meshal, the Hamas leader who resides in Damascus--which is to say, it is also a piece of Syrian intrigue. Nor can anything of significance take place in Lebanon without the sanction of Damascus; and Hezbollah enjoys not only the toleration of Syria but also the time-honored support of Iran, which is also Syria's great ally in a region that may be otherwise turning in a better direction. Perhaps Meshal's responsibility for the Gaza attack will now allow Haniyeh to masquerade as a moderate. (The Washington Post this week published an op-ed by Haniyeh that was full of outrageous assertions. It seems that an election is all that stands between terrorism and punditry.)

It is also worth noting that the Hamas-Hezbollah aggression is aimed at damaging precisely those political forces in Israel--now represented by Ehud Olmert's government--that withdrew Israeli settlers from Gaza and is committed to withdrawing Israeli settlers (70,000 of them) from the West Bank. It was one of the great ironies of recent times that Olmert's party rose in Israel at the exact moment that Hamas rose in Palestine; but the irony has turned deadly. They, the Palestinians, really do want everything. And so they are about to learn, yet again, that, as long as they want everything, they will get nothing. This may satisfy the nihilists in charge, since nihilists live for nothing.

Saudi Arabia criticizes Hizbullah

From JPost, Jul. 14, 2006 By ASSOCIATED PRESS RIYADH, Saudi Arabia ...

In a significant move, Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's political heavyweight and economic powerhouse, accused Hizbullah guerrillas - without naming them - of "uncalculated adventures" that could precipitate a new Middle East crisis.

A Saudi official quoted by the state Saudi Press Agency said the Lebanese Hizbullah's brazen capture of two Israeli soldiers was not legitimate. The kingdom "clearly announces that there has to be a differentiation between legitimate resistance (to Israel) and uncalculated adventures." The Saudi official said Hizbullah's actions could lead to "an extremely serious situation which could subject all Arab nations and its achievements to destruction."

"The kingdom sees that it is time for those elements to alone shoulder the full responsibility for this irresponsible behavior and that the burden of ending the crisis falls on them alone."

Saudi Arabia's comments on the crisis came after most moderate Arab governments reacted with relative restraint to Israel's offensive in Lebanon, condemning attacks on civilians and infrastructure but also implicitly criticizing Hizbullah.

Patrons of terror forcing the issue

This article fromYossi Klein Halevi in today's Australian (July 14, 2006) is a MUST READ ....

THE next Middle East war - Israel against genocidal Islamism - has begun. The first stage of the war started two weeks ago with the Israeli incursion into Gaza in response to the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier and the ongoing shelling of Israeli towns and kibbutzim. Now, with Hezbollah's latest attack, the war has spread to southern Lebanon.

Ultimately, though, Israel's antagonists won't be Hamas and Hezbollah but their patrons, Iran and Syria. The war will go on for months, perhaps several years. There may be lulls in the fighting, perhaps even temporary agreements and prisoner exchanges. But those periods of calm will be mere respites.

The goals of the war should be the destruction of the Hamas regime and the dismantling of the Hezbollah infrastructure in southern Lebanon. Israel cannot coexist with Iranian proxies pressing in on its borders. In particular, allowing Hamas to remain in power - and to run the Palestinian educational system - will mean the end of hopes for Arab-Israeli reconciliation not only in this generation but in the next one, too.

For the Israeli Right, this is the moment of "we told you so". The fact that the kidnappings and missile attacks have come from southern Lebanon and Gaza - precisely the areas from which Israel has unilaterally withdrawn - is proof, for right-wingers, of the bankruptcy of unilateralism. Yet the Right has always misunderstood the meaning of unilateral withdrawal.
Those who have supported unilateralism didn't expect a quiet border in return for withdrawal, but the creation of a border from which Israel could more vigorously defend itself, with greater domestic consensus and international understanding.

The anticipated outcome, then, wasn't an illusory peace but a more effective way to fight the war. The question wasn't whether Hamas or Hezbollah would forswear aggression but whether Israel would act with appropriate vigour to their continued aggression.

So it wasn't the rocket attacks that were a blow to the unilateralist camp; rather, it was Israel's tepid responses to those attacks. If unilateralists made a mistake, it was in believing its political leaders, including Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, when they promised a policy of zero tolerance against any attacks emanating from Gaza after Israel's withdrawal. That policy was not implemented until two weeks ago. Now, belatedly, the Olmert Government is trying to regain something of its lost credibility, and that is the real meaning of this initial phase of the war in Gaza and in Lebanon.

Absurdly, despite Israel's withdrawal to the international borders with Lebanon and Gaza, much of the international community still sees the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers as a legitimate act of war: just as Israel holds Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners, so Hamas and Hezbollah now hold Israeli prisoners.

One difference is that inmates in Israeli jails receive visits from family and Red Cross representatives, while Israeli prisoners in Gaza and Lebanon disappear into oblivion. As with Israeli pilot Ron Arad, who was captured by Hezbollah 20 years ago, then sold to Iran, and whose fate has never been determined. That is one reason why Israelis are so maddened by the kidnapping of their soldiers.

Another reason is the nature of the crimes committed by the prisoners whose release is being demanded by Hezbollah and Hamas. One of them is Samir Kuntar, a Palestine Liberation Organisation terrorist who in 1979 broke into an apartment in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya, took a father and child hostage and smashed the child's head against a rock. In the Palestinian Authority, Kuntar is considered a hero, a role model for Palestinian children.

The ultimate threat, though, isn't Hezbollah or Hamas, but Iran. And as Iran draws closer to nuclear capability, an Israeli-Iranian showdown becomes increasingly likely. According to a very senior military source, Israel is still hoping that an international effort will stop a nuclear Iran. If that fails, then Israel is hoping for a US attack. But if the Bush administration is too weakened to take on Iran, then, as a last resort, Israel will have to act unilaterally.

For Israelis, that is the worst scenario of all. Except, of course, the scenario of nuclear weapons in the hands of the patron state of Hezbollah and Hamas.

Yossi Klein Halevi is a foreign correspondent for The New Republic and senior fellow of the Shalem Centre in Jerusalem.

Haifa Attacked in Northern Katyushka Barrage

From JPost, Jul. 13, 2006 ByYAAKOV KATZ AND JPOST.COM STAFF ...

For the first time ever, two rockets launched from Lebanon landed in Haifa in the neighborhood of Stella Maris. Sappers came to the scene to neutralize the rocket that landed in the middle of a road. One person suffered from shock. The launch represented the farthest a rocket had ever reached into Israel.

....Shortly before the attack, a rocket hit the old city in Safed, followed by another strike about an hour later. One of thirteen wounded people, who was initially listed in critical condition, later died of his wounds. Two others were seriously wounded, one moderately, and the rest were lightly wounded. A boy was reported missing, and was feared to be trapped in a building that was struck. Following the strike, power supply was cut in parts of the city.

At the same time, five Katyusha rockets struck an apartment building in Nahariya. Fortunately, there were no people in the apartment at the time, but shrapnel and debris caused a nearby electrical pole to burst into flames. Eleven people were reportedly wounded.

The toll of casualties in Israel throughout the day stood at one death and 122 wounded.
Katyusha rockets landed in the northern Israeli towns of Karmiel, Hatzor, and Majd el-Kurum, as well as several other communities, throughout the north on Thursday afternoon....

.....Some 85 Katyushas have been fired into northern Israel since Thursday morning.
Many northern residents have begun leaving the area, fearing more attacks.

.....Katyushas also fell on Thursday morning in Kfar Nasi in the Galilee and in Kibbutz Mahanayim, and along with the rockets in Karmiel, signified an increase in the range of Katyusha rockets to 20-30 kilometers. There were no immediate reports of casualties in the attacks. Hizbullah said that in some of its attacks it was using a rocket called "Thunder 1" for the first time, which may have a longer range than older Katyushas.

On Thursday morning alone, there were confirmed Katyusha attacks on Nahariya, Rosh Pina, Kibbutz Hagoshrim, Kibbutz Mishmar Hayarden, Gadot, Kfar Nasi, Beit Hillel, Kibbutz Mahanayim, Kibbutz Kabri, Mount Hermon, Netiv Haasarah, Mount Meron, Shlomi, Zar'it.
By the afternoon, rockets hit Karmiel, Safed, Hatzor, and Majd el-Kurum as well.

"This is a new situation. The residents of Israel need to know that we are going into a period that will require resilience," Minister Issac Herzog said after the emergency cabinet meeting late Wednesday night. According to Herzog, Israel is holding Lebanon responsible for the attack, which was carried out from its territory.

AP contributed to this report.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Lebanese ambassador to USA sent home

From Ynet news 13/7/06 by Yitzhak Benhorin ...

In CNN interview, Farid Abboud supports Hizbullah's stance, which contradicts Lebanese government's official stance. Lebanese PM enraged by remarks, orders ambassador to return home

WASHINGTON – Lebanon's Ambassador to the United States Farid Abboud was called to return to Beirut on Thursday after supporting Hizbullah's stance and activities, which contradict the Lebanese government's official stance, in a television interview.

... Ambassador Abboud said: "We did not declare war. It was declared against us when our country was occupied by the Israelis, with prisoners taken from Lebanon into Israel, and with Palestinian prisoners pushed into Lebanon's territory. We did not occupy Israel and we did not declare war on it...At this stage any solution must be negotiations on Israel's withdrawal from the occupied Lebanese territories and a release of the Lebanese prisoners. We have our prisoners. They have prisoners. An exchange would be appropriate, and I think it will resolve the problem...." ....

'Lebanese government has nothing to do with Hizbullah'
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora was enraged by the remarks and rushed to call Abboud to return back home, claiming that his remarks express the stance of the Hizbullah organization, which contradict the Lebanese government's official stance. A statement issued by the Lebanese government said that the government in Beirut had nothing to do with Hizbullah's activities on the border.

... the US ambassador to Beirut and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanded that the Lebanese prime minister control the situation and work to release the kidnapped Israeli soldiers.

In the meantime, it appears that Ambassador Abboud will not return to work in Washington..... the Americans will not be interested in cooperating with an ambassador who publicly supports the activities of Hizbullah, which considered a terror organization by the American law.

Children of an Evil Union

Posted on Cox & Forkum 9/7/06 ...

...and in february 2005 ....

Woman killed in Katyusha attack on Nahariya

From Ynet News 13/7/06, by Hanan Greenberg ...

Several rocket barrages hit northern city early Thursday; 40-year-old woman killed, five injured, one of them sustaining serious wounds. At least 20 people killed on Lebanese side of border in dozens of air strikes, one of them on Beirut's international airport

... While northern Israel residents spent the night in shelters, several barrages of Katyusha rockets were fired at the center of the northern city of Nahariya Thursday morning. A 40-year-old woman was killed after being hit by a rocket. Five other residents were injured, one of them sustaining serious wounds and the rest sustaining light wounds. They were evacuated to the city's hospital.

Kiryat Shmona was also hit by fire Thursday morning, and a 60-year-old resident of the village of Zarit was lightly wounded by shrapnel of a Katyusha rocket that landed not far from him.

The Israel Air Force on Wednesday night struck at least 40 targets in different places across Lebanon, including bridges and infrastructures along the Litani and Wazzani rivers. Early Thursday, the IAF struck a runway in Beirut's international airport, where masses of tourists have been passing every day in recent years on their way to Lebanon's vacation sites. The airport was closed "until further notice."

According to Lebanese sources, at least 20 people were killed in the strikes and scores were injured.

The Israeli operation in Lebanon kicked into high gear following decisions made by the government , which convened Wednesday night for an emergency meeting in light of the serious escalation on the northern border, which joins the ongoing operation in the Gaza Strip.

Jerusalem sees Lebanon as responsible for the "warlike act," as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert put it, and has asked to claim a heavy price from Hizbullah to make it "regret the moment," according to Defense Minister Amir Peretz.

The IDF soldiers killed in Lebanon on Wednesday are:

First Sergeant Wissam Nazal, 27, from Jat-Yanuch
Staff Sergeant Eyal Banin, 22, from Beer Sheva
Sergeant First Class Shani Turgeman, 24, from Beit Shean
Sergeant Nimrod Cohen 19, from Mitzpeh Shalem
First Sergeant Alexei Kushnirsky, 21, from Nes Tziona
Sergeant Yaniv Baron, 19, from Macabbim
Sergeant Shlomi Yirmiyahu, 20, from Rishon Letzion
Sergeant Gadi Musayeb, 20, from Akko

The names of the kidnapped soldiers were still not cleared for publication.

ALSO SEE Two-front war - special Ynetnews coverage

Iran orchestrates opening of the second front

DEBKAfile reports July 12, 2006, 10:14 PM (GMT+02:00):

Iran’s national security adviser Ali Larijani flies to Damascus aboad special military plane Wednesday night as war tension builds up around Hizballah kidnap of 2 Israeli soldiers

Larijani is also Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator. He will remain in Damascus for the duration of the crisis in line with the recently Iranian-Syrian mutual defense pact. His presence affirms that an Israeli attack on Syria will be deemed an assault on Iran. It also links the Israeli hostage crisis to Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West.

The White House released a statement holding Syria and Iran responsible for Hizballah abduction and demanding their immediate and unconditional release.

The Syrian army has been put on a state of preparedness.

DEBKAfile’s military sources add that the Iranian air force, missile units and navy are also on high alert.

DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report Hizballah acted on orders from Tehran to open a second front against Israel, partly to ease IDF military pressure on the Hamas in the Gaza Strip. This was in response to an appeal Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal made to the Iranian ambassador to Damascus Mohammad Hassan Akhtari Sunday, July 9.

DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report Tehran’s rationale as composed of three parts:
1. Iran shows the flag as a champion and defender of its ally, Hamas.
2. Sending Hizballah to open a warfront against Israel is the logical tactical complement to its latest order to go into action against American and British forces in southern Iraq.
3. Tehran hopes to hijack the agenda before the G-8 summit opening in St. Petersberg, Russia on July 15. Instead of discussing Iran’s nuclear case and the situation in Iraq along the lines set by President George W. Bush, the leaders of the industrial nations will be forced to address the Middle East flare-up

Any Israeli decision taken at prime minister Ehud Olmert’s high level consultation in Jerusalem Wednesday night must take this turn of events into account before deciding on limited air strikes against Hizballah and Lebanese civil targets without delay.

Our sources also report that immediately after Nasrallah’s statement to the media, Hizballah’s leaders went into hiding, their bases were evacuated and their fighting strength transferred to pre-planned places of concealment. Ahead of the abduction, Hizballah ordnance and missile stocks were transferred to the Palestinian Ahmed Jibril’s tunnel system at Naama, 30 km south of Beirut, which was built in the 1980s by East German engineers. The Israel navy has long tried to smash this coastal underground fortress from the sea without success.

Israel began calling up an armored division, air crews and technicians from the reserves Wednesday night. DEBKAfile’s military experts: If Israel’s leaders opt for an anti-Hizballah operation on the lines of Operation Summer Rain against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the IDF can expect the same measure of success as it has had in recovering Gilead Shalit and ending the Qassam missiles barrage.

Nasrallah's gamble

Analysis from JPost, 12/7/06, by YOAV APPEL ...

In killing seven soldiers, kidnapping two more and re-igniting Israel's northern border with Lebanon Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has taken a gamble that violence will quickly dissipate and negotiations on a prisoner exchange will soon begin, an expert on Lebanon said Wednesday.

Attacks against Israel, in particular kidnappings of Israelis that could lead to prisoner exchanges, boost Hizbullah's popularity in the Middle East, especially at a time that the militia group is under regional and international pressure to disarm, said Eyal Zisser of Tel Aviv University's Dayan Center.

...."It's good for their prestige," Zisser said, referring to Hizbullah. Based on previous incidents, the militia group was gambling that Israel's response to Wednesday's attack would be restrained, he said.

Hizbullah forces took control of southern Lebanon when Israel withdrew from its "security zone" leaving a vacuum there in 2000. The group's leaders say they are defending Lebanon from Israel. The group also claims Lebanese sovereignty over the Shebaa Farms area, a small parcel of land Israel captured from Syria in 1967, and have said they will continue to attack Israel until the area is liberated.

But a wide-scale outbreak of violence could backfire for the group, especially if Lebanese citizens feel Hizbullah is to blame.

...Hizbullah gained much recognition in the Arab world in 2004 when it won the release of hundreds of prisoners in Israeli jails in exchange for the bodies of three IDF soldiers it captured and one Israeli businessman. It is also widely seen as responsible for Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon after an 18-year occupation.

Zisser said from Hizbullah's perspective, it's actions Wednesday were not an escalation, because it had both attempted and carried out similar operations in the past. "They don't see this as a step up, this is a step they've taken before," he said. "Hizbullah has an interest that this will end and they will begin negotiations," he added.The group was taking into account Israel's muted responses to previous Hizbullah provocations, he said.

Within Lebanon, "Hizbullah is under a lot of pressure because ... of the many groups that want it to disarm, who say that it is a danger to stability," Zisser said.

But Iran and Syria, both considered to be enthusiastic sponsors of Hizbullah's activities, would not come to the group's aid if Israel begins wide-scale operations inside Lebanon.The next steps in the conflict would be up to Israel, he said, which would have no choice but to respond.

Israeli military operations in Lebanon would probably work on two levels, one aimed at isolating the area near the initial attack and returning the kidnapped soldiers, and a second that would exact a high price from Lebanon for a military action initiated from within its territory, said Maj. Gen Danny Rothschild, President of the Council of Peace and Security.

...Military options would include bombing Hizbullah's headquarters in Beirut and destroying infrastructure, he said. Another concern is Hizbullah's military arsenal, which is said to contain around 11,000 short to mid-length missiles, some capable of reaching as far south as Hadera, about 30 miles from Tel Aviv. The missiles pose "a serious threat to civilians in Israel," Rothschild said, pointing out that the missiles are spread in a range that covers most of northern Israel.

And "nobody knows," how long an operation inside Lebanon might last, he said, acknowledging the possibility existed that Israeli forces could still be operating in southern Lebanon months from now.

Blaming Beirut, thinking of Damascus - Retreat is not an option

Analysis from JPost, Jul. 12, 2006, by HERB KEINON ...

Ehud Olmert ... sent out a ... message during his press conference with [Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]: that business was definitely not as usual; that the attack in the north was not "just" another of the myriad terrorist attacks Israel has suffered over the last six years, but was fundamentally different - an act of war. The consequences for the other side, Olmert said, "will be very, very, very painful."

The question, however, is who the other side is.

If the air force buzzed Syrian President Bashar Assad's summer palace after Hamas killed two soldiers and kidnapped Gilad Shalit two weeks ago, then one could expect the IAF to level the palace - and more - after Hizbullah killed seven soldiers and captured two others. Syria, after all, is - together with Iran - Hizbullah's sponsor.

And, indeed, Olmert had some harsh words to say about Syria.

"Throughout the recent period, Syria has proven that it is a terrorist government," Olmert said with Koizumi standing at his side. "It supports terrorism. It is a government that backs terrorism. It is a government that encourages the murderous actions both of terrorists located on its soil and those beyond it. Of course, there will have to be an appropriate preparation in order to deal with the conduct of the Syrian government."

This language was quite similar to language he used Sunday to describe the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government. "This is the first time in modern history that there is a whole government which is a terrorist government," he said. "This is not a government which is influenced by terror, this is not a government which sympathizes terror, this government is terror."

If Israel took strong military action against that type of government in Gaza, it would seem only natural for it to take similar action against a similar type of government in Damascus. But to do so, to go on a strong military offensive against Syria, Israel would need international legitimacy, and getting legitimacy to declare war on Syria for an act perpetrated from Lebanese soil by a party within the Lebanese government, would be difficult to obtain.

So the address is Lebanon.
Hizbullah is no longer a renegade, Islamic militant organization in Lebanon's south. Hizbullah is now a member of the Lebanese government, holds a ministerial portfolio, and in that sense is to Lebanon what Kadima, Labor, Shas and the Pensioners party are to Israel.

As a result, Israel feels it has greater international legitimacy to lash out against Lebanon, than against Syria. The Lebanese government cannot deny responsibility for Hizbullah, since Hizbullah is in the Lebanese government.

In addition, UN Security Council resolution 1559 called on Lebanon to dismantle the armed militias, but that is something the Beirut government never did. The international community, Israel is arguing, also bears responsibility for not forcing Lebanon to implement that element of the Security Council resolution.

Israel will act in Lebanon, but, as Olmert said, it will act in a manner that will "echo in the right places" an allusion to Syria. If the message is picked up in Syria, the hope in Jerusalem is that it will also impact on what is happening in Gaza as well. The underlining assumption in Jerusalem is that Assad can press Khaled Mashaal to release Shalit and end the Kassam fire in the south.

There is no little irony in the fact that that on the same day that the IDF returned to the ruins of Gush Katif, after only a 10 month absence, it also returned, six year later, to southern Lebanon - a chilling reminder of how closely connected they are, and also perhaps how similar.

Israel strikes Lebanon


In a series of air strikes late Wednesday evening, IAF aircraft bombed Kfar Shuba and Sheba Farms in Lebanon. The communications infrastructure connecting Beirut to the south of the country was also damaged by IAF strikes.

The strikes followed an attack by IAF warplanes and navy gunboats on a Palestinian terrorist base south of Beirut late Wednesday in the closest raid to the Lebanese capital since fighting erupted in southern Lebanon after the kidnapping of two IDF soldiers.

All residents along Israel's northern border from Nahariya in the west to Kiryat Shmona in the east were ordered into bomb shelters on Wednesday night.

"This is a new situation. The residents of Israel need to know that we are going into a period that would require resilience," Minister Issac Herzog said after the emergency cabinet meeting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convened on Wednesday night in Tel Aviv in light of the events on the northern border. According to Herzog, Israel is holding Lebanon responsible for the attack, which was carried out from its territory.

OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam said the IDF was preparing for a widespread operation not only against Hizbullah but also against the Lebanese government. The IDF, The Jerusalem Post learned, has drawn up plans to bomb main infrastructure, including power stations in Lebanon.

....Warplanes, meanwhile, flew over the Na'ameh base in the hills overlooking the Mediterranean, about 16 kilometers south of Beirut. Gunboats sailed facing the position, and explosions rang out across the area. The base is run by the Syrian-backed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and was a frequent target of Israeli attacks in the past.....

AP contributed to this report.

War on Two Fronts: 8 killed in north

From Ynet News 12/7/06, by Hanan Greenberg (includes VIDEO) ...

Hizbullah terrorists infiltrate Israel territory, kidnap two IDF soldiers; three reserve soldiers killed during raid, four others killed as their tank drives over bomb during search for abducted troops; eighth soldier killed trying to retrieve comrades’ bodies. Northern Command chief: We assume two abducted soldiers are alive; there are blood stains at the scene. Hizbullah says soldiers in ‘safe place’

... Three were killed when Hizbullah operatives attacked their patrol, and four more were killed when their tank drove up on a roadside bomb as they pursued the Hizbullah operatives, who also kidnapped two soldiers, residents of Yanuch and Kiryat Motzkin.

....IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz advised the government to authorize a harsh operation that would "change the rules of the game." ...Defense Minister Amir Peretz authorized a series of operations against Hizbullah strongholds in southern Lebanon.

...The operation aimed at locating the abducted troops and the bodies of the fallen soldiers is being carried out under heavy enemy fire; the army has not been able to retrieve the soldiers’ bodies as of yet.

IDF sources said the Hizbullah terrorists began to evacuate their outposts only a short time before the attack, adding that there was no sign they were planning a large-scale operation inside Israeli territory.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


From JPost, Jul. 12, 2006 By YAAKOV KATZ AND HERB KEINON ...

PM Olmert declares Hizbullah attack an 'act of war' by Lebanon ...

Seventeen days after IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped in Gaza, a second front was opened on Israel's northern border Wednesday morning as Hizbullah, under cover of a barrage of Katyusha rockets and mortar shells, kidnapped two more army troops.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared the attack as an "act of war" and not terror. During a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi Wednesday afternoon, he called it an unprovoked assault by a sovereign nation and held Lebanon, where Hizbullah has a minister in the government, fully responsible.

"Israel's response will be restrained but very, very, very painful," Olmert added.

... A senior Hizbullah official said that at least one of the allegedly kidnapped soldiers was still alive. ....

...Hizbullah launched a heavy barrage of Katyusha rockets and mortar shells at IDF positions and communities along the northern frontier on Wednesday morning starting about 9:15 a.m. One rocket scored a direct hit on a house in Shtula. Magen David Adom said they had treated six people so far. Both soldiers and civilians have been wounded. The wounded were being evacuated to Nahariya hospital.

According to the military, an explosive charge detonated under an IDF tank, inflicting casualties.
IDF Northern Command officers were in touch with UN and Red Cross officials in Lebanon to try and conduct negotiations through those organizations with the Lebanese government in an effort to retrieve the captured soldiers diplomatically. According to IDF estimations, military campaigns in Lebanon had little chance of retrieving the soldiers.

Meanwhile, police all over the country have gone on high alert to prevent terror attacks.

...IDF sources estimated that the attack was a Hizbullah response to Israel's early Wednesday attempted strike on top Hamas terrorist Mohammad Deif in Gaza.

Residents of the Western Galilee entered their shelters, and in the community of Shlomi, residents were asked to enter fortified rooms early Wednesday.

The northern border has been on high alert since Operation Summer rains began.

AP contributed to this report.

Don't say we didn't tell you that war was coming - see "War on the horizon" on Jewish Issues Watchdog, Wednesday, November 16, 2005 ...

... preparations are being completed for the next round of Israel-Palestinian any Israeli with eyes in his head, it is clear: If there is no real change ..... the explosion is sure to come.....

.... Until the Palestinians hold parliamentary elections in less than two months, Hamas will continue to battle for legitimacy and will avoid action that would re-ignite the conflict.

...In January, save for some sort of miracle, Hamas is expected to do very well in the elections. Afterwards, the organization will try to realize its power, and if it encounters opposition it will try to realize the retribution it has been promising for months. If so, then the path to conflict is clearly defined and smoothly paved....

Australian "Release Gilad" Campaign

From the Zionist Federation of Australia Website, 9/7/06 ...

On Monday July 10, peaceful protest demonstrations were held in capital cities around the world to campaign for the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit. The events took place in New York, Paris, London, Buenos Aires, as well as other locations. Demonstrators, including members of local Jewish organisations, Christian supporters of Israel, student organisations and members of youth movements attended in their hundreds, mainly rallying outside Syrian embassies.

In Australia, activities are focusing on a “Blue Ribbon” campaign to raise awareness for Gilad’s plight, call for Gilad’s immediate release and show that we stand in solidarity with Israel.

On Monday night (July 10), Australian Jews together with hundreds Jewish athletes from around the globe, donned blue ribbons at the closing ceremony of the Maccabi Australia International Games in Sydney. Over 700 blue ribbons and information sheets were prepared and distributed by the Zionist Federation of Australia and the State Zionist Councils of Victoria and NSW.

We urge you to show your support and solidarity by wearing a blue ribbon. Blue ribbons are available from your local ZFA/SZC office.

More information:
» Blue Ribbon for Gilad - National campaign
» Gilad Shalit - Myths and facts
» Biographies of Soldiers
» Media Release Gilad Shalit - 9 July, 2006

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Female "Martyrs" unit

From JPost, Jul. 10, 2006 by KHALED ABU TOAMEH [a report of another "great Palestinian cultural achievment"]...

A group belonging to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party announced on Monday that it had recruited 100 Palestinian women to launch suicide attacks against Israel.

... the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah....recently established a secret military unit for female suicide bombers from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem. ...The new unit is now preparing to launch attacks against Israel ....

Since September 2000, Palestinian women have carried out seven suicide bombings inside Israel, in which 37 people were killed and more than 250 were wounded. The most serious attack was launched in October 2003 by Hanadi Jaradat, an Islamic Jihad woman from Jenin, who detonated herself at the Maxim Restaurant in Haifa. The bomb left 21 civilians dead and 48 wounded.

... the group was [also] planning to target Hamas members who were responsible for attacks on Fatah activists....

...Tensions between Hamas and Fatah intensified over the past 24 hours following Abbas's decision to appoint Tunis-based PLO official Farouk Kaddoumi as PA foreign minister. Kaddoumi, one of the veteran PLO leaders who is strongly opposed to the Oslo Accords, refused to enter the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1994 in protest of the agreement between the PLO and Israel.

Hamas officials condemned Abbas's decision as "illegal" and called for its rescission. Abbas's move is seen as part of his efforts to undermine the powers of the Hamas cabinet, which already has a foreign minister, Mahmoud Zahar. Abbas has already confiscated most of the powers of the Hamas cabinet, including control over the security, finances and the media.

"Why do we need two foreign ministers for Palestine?" asked Muhammad Awad, secretary-general of the Hamas cabinet. "Kaddoumi has always been involved in power struggles with Palestinian foreign ministers. Abbas's decision will only complicate matters."

The War With Israel Is Over

From the New York Sun, July 7, 2006, by YOUSSEF IBRAHIM ...

As Israel enters the third week of an incursion into the same Gaza Strip it voluntarily evacuated a few months ago, a sense of reality among Arabs is spreading through commentary by Arab pundits, letters to the editor, and political talk shows on Arabic-language TV networks.The new views are stunning both in their maturity and in their realism. The best way I can think of to convey them is in the form of a letter to the Palestinian Arabs from their Arab friends:

Dear Palestinian Arab brethren:
The war with Israel is over.
You have lost. Surrender and negotiate to secure a future for your children.

We, your Arab brothers, may say until we are blue in the face that we stand by you, but the wise among you and most of us know that we are moving on, away from the tired old idea of the Palestinian Arab cause and the "eternal struggle" with Israel.
Dear friends, you and your leaders have wasted three generations trying to fight for Palestine, but the truth is the Palestine you could have had in 1948 is much bigger than the one you could have had in 1967, which in turn is much bigger than what you may have to settle for now or in another 10 years. Struggle means less land and more misery and utter loneliness.

At the moment, brothers, you would be lucky to secure a semblance of a state in that Gaza Strip into which you have all crowded, and a small part of the West Bank of the Jordan. It isn't going to get better. Time is running out even for this much land, so here are some facts, figures, and sound advice, friends.

You hold keys, which you drag out for television interviews, to houses that do not exist or are inhabited by Israelis who have no intention of leaving Jaffa, Haifa, Tel Aviv, or West Jerusalem. You shoot old guns at modern Israeli tanks and American-made fighter jets, doing virtually no harm to Israel while bringing the wrath of its mighty army down upon you. You fire ridiculously inept Kassam rockets that cause little destruction and delude yourselves into thinking this is a war of liberation. Your government, your social institutions, your schools, and your economy are all in ruins.

Your young people are growing up illiterate, ill, and bent on rites of death and suicide, while you, in effect, are living on the kindness of foreigners, including America and the United Nations. Every day your officials must beg for your daily bread, dependent on relief trucks that carry food and medicine into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, while your criminal Muslim fundamentalist Hamas government continues to fan the flames of a war it can neither fight nor hope to win.

In other words, brothers, you are down, out, and alone in a burnt-out landscape that is shrinking by the day. What kind of struggle is this? Is it worth waging at all? More important, what kind of miserable future does it portend for your children, the fourth or fifth generation of the Arab world's have-nots?

We, your Arab brothers, have moved on.
Those of us who have oil money are busy accumulating wealth and building housing, luxury developments, state-of-the-art universities and schools, and new highways and byways. Those of us who share borders with Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, have signed a peace treaty with it and are not going to war for you any time soon. Those of us who are far away, in places like North Africa and Iraq, frankly could not care less about what happens to you.

Only Syria continues to feed your fantasies that someday it will join you in liberating Palestine, even though a huge chunk of its territory, the entire Golan Heights, was taken by Israel in 1967 and annexed. The Syrians, my friends, will gladly fight down to the last Palestinian Arab.

Before you got stuck with this Hamas crowd, another cheating, conniving, leader of yours,Yasser Arafat, sold you a rotten bill of goods — more pain, greater corruption, and millions stolen by his relatives — while your children played in the sewers of Gaza.

The war is over. Why not let a new future begin?

Monday, July 10, 2006

JNF UK threatens to sue KKL-JNF

From Ynet News, 9/7/06, by Ofer Petersburg ...

British fund demands to receive information regarding lands purchased with its money that are anticipated to be transferred to government control pursuant to Gadish committee reforms

The Jewish National Fund UK, the largest British fund for Israel, is demanding that the JNF-KKL (Jewish National Fund in Israel) hand over all information regarding lands purchased by JNF UK or face legal actions.

This request is pursuant to the state's preliminary acceptance of the "Gadish agreement" between Israel and KKL-JNF, in which KKL-JNF lands will be transferred to the state, and arrives prior to its final signing.

KKL-JNF serves as a land trust and, in this context, has purchased lands using funds from JNF UK. In recent years, KKL-JNF has refrained from transferring information to the British fund regarding the extent and location of lands purchased with their money.

The British fund is demanding this information be handed over, prior to the signing of the agreement. According to JNF UK, such information is required by British laws and regulations for British funds and trusts.

(The Jewish National Fund (JNF) .... split from its British partner [in October 2005], accusing the UK based JNF branch of having "misled" the public...according to a report in the Jewish Chronicle newspaper [at the time].)

The Israeli government and KKL-JNF are in the midst of final discussions prior to the signing of the agreement between them, in which KKL-JNF agrees to transfer lands it owns in central Israel in exchange for receiving lands in the periphery (10% in the Galilee and 90% in the Negev).

Because of the disparity between land value in central Israel to land value in the periphery, the agreement also grants KKL-JNF USD 1.3 billion of reparations.

Reforms approved by government

The agreement is one of the recommendations issued by a committee headed by the late Yaacov Gadish, dealing with reform of the Israel Lands Administration. These reforms were approved by the government in May of 2005.

When it came to JNF UK's attention that KKL-JNF and the Israeli government were close to signing a binding agreement, they approached KKL-JNF, via the fund's president, Gail Seal, in order to ensure that the Gadish agreement would not contradict existing agreements between JNF UK and KKL-JNF.

Seal demanded to receive details of those lands purchased with the fund's money that will be transferred to the state as part of the imminent agreement.

According to Seal, in order to sign the new agreement, KKL-JNF must first present all of the information regarding lands purchased by funds from British donors. In a letter sent to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week, Seal asked for the prime minister's intervention in the matter.