Saturday, September 02, 2006
BRITISH Jews are facing a wave of anti-Semitic attacks prompted by Israel’s conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Synagogues have been daubed with graffiti, Jewish leaders have had hate-mail and ordinary people have been subjected to insults and vandalism.
On Thursday an all-party parliamentary inquiry will state that anti-Semitic violence has become endemic in Britain, both on the streets and university campuses. The report will call for urgent action from the Government, the police and educational establishments.
Mark Gardner, of the Community Security Trust, said: “In July, when the conflict in Lebanon began, we received reports of 92 incidents, which was the third-worst month since records began in 1984.” In 2000 the monthly average was between 10 and 30 incidents. The former minister Denis MacShane, who chaired the parliamentary inquiry, said: “These figures confirm the evidence given to us that anti-Semitic attacks are a very real problem.” The Board of Deputies of British Jews submitted evidence to the inquiry that anti-Semitism in Britain was at its worst level.
....In hate-mail to senior Jewish figures, ordinary Jewish people were being blamed for the deaths of Lebanese civilians. “There are also references to the Holocaust, saying that Hitler should have wiped out the Jews.”
....There have been several attacks in Golders Green and Hampstead Garden Suburb in North London, where there is a large Jewish population. La Maison du Café in Golders Green Road was targeted two weeks ago by two young men who threw chairs at the restaurant, punched workers and threatened to kill the owner, Ruth Cohen, with a knife. Ms Cohen, 34, said: “They asked if it was a Jewish restaurant. They said they were going to kill me and called me a ‘dirty Jew’, a ‘stinking Jew’. One of them had a knife. A colleague came out. They started punching him and throwing chairs.”
In Hampstead Garden Suburb, swastikas and the words “Kill all Jews” and “Allah” were daubed on the house and car of Justin Stebbing. Dr Stebbing, who works at a hospital, said: “I felt violated. It’s horrible.” ....
Friday, September 01, 2006
The Australian’s readers aren’t impressed:
...Chulov stands by his original story? Then why did he change all of his original details?
.....The wider context for [the 31/8/06] embarrassing leader is the newspaper’s campaign to discredit Alexander Downer - whose resignation an unnamed editorialist for The Australian has called for over the AWB affair ... Their resentment boiled over today with this hilarious attempt to argue that the people who told Chulov a pack of lies must now be believed because he checked with the liars a second time.....
...... a complete picture of the Red Cross ambulance attack may only be achieved by combining Martin Chulov’s two reports:
* The “first ambulance”, no. 782, was speeding in a convoy AND stationary;
* The six people on board the convoy were all severely injured except Shalin the driver AND only two were severely injured;
* Shalin was protected by the driver’s canopy AND by the vehicle’s rear ramp;
* The ambulance/convoy was struck by a rocket/s AND missile/s fired by an Apache helicopter that was also a drone;
* The missile pierced the centre of the red cross on ambulance 782 AND “an explosion thundered” into the ambulance;
* Shalin “remembers nothing” after the flash-bang-crunch of the crash AND he remembers that “then there was a battle for the next hour” and “we hid in a building convinced we were going to die”. ....
Thursday, August 31, 2006
The most burning issue on the mind of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in his talks in Jerusalem was not Lebanon – but Iran
... the issues raised at his press conferences .... the full implementation of UN resolution 1701, the Israeli blockade of Lebanon, the kidnapped Israel soldiers, the embargo on imported weapons for Hizballah - were all left outside the closed doors of the conference rooms he entered in Jerusalem.
Inside, the UN Secretary went straight to the point: He wanted an Israeli message to hand to Iranian leaders in Tehran ... an assurance that... Israel undertook not to attack Iran. Annan ... told Olmert he intended placing this assurance in the hands of supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in person.
Olmert turned him down.
...Olmert asked the UN Secretary if he had procured a message in this spirit from Washington and, if so, would he submit the American and Israeli notes to Iran’s rulers together or separately. According to our sources, Annan ducked the questions and instead waxed eloquent on the breakthrough in Iran-Israeli relations which an Israeli pledge to refrain from attacking Iran was capable of effecting.
“With your note in my hand, I can get an interview with Khamenei himself,” he said. The UN secretary rated a meeting with president Mahmoud Ahmadnejad as of “no importance” except as a courtesy call. Annan explained that, on the strength of an Israeli assurance, he would be able to promise the Iranian leader that he need not fear UN Security Council sanctions or any other unpleasantness and that the nuclear controversy could be worked out amicably.
Olmert and Livni were not convinced. Secretary-General Annan departed Jerusalem empty-handed, as he did Beirut, where Hizballah refused to part with the slightest scrap of information on the abducted Israeli soldiers for him to carry to Jerusalem.
A previously unknown group threatened Wednesday to abduct Israeli soldiers to swap them for Syrian prisoners in Israel. In a statement faxed to foreign news agencies in Damascus, a group calling itself the Men of the National Syrian Resistance threatened to "take the necessary measures" to secure the release of 16 Syrians jailed in Israel. It listed the names of four men it said have been detained in Israel for 22 years. The group said ..."The continuing detention of our comrades makes us exert all-out efforts to secure their release...The Lebanese model, the model of Hizbullah, is not so far from us concerning implementation and preparations to release our detainees."
Lebanon will not have direct contact with Israel, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said on Wednesday. According to Saniora, "Lebanon will be the last Arab country that would sign a peace agreement with Israel."
"Let it be clear, we are not seeking any agreement until there is just and comprehensive peace based on the Arab initiative," he said. Saniora was responding to comments made earlier by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in which the latter expressed hope that the UN cease-fire deal would be the "cornerstone of the start of new relations with Lebanon."
"We hope conditions will rapidly change to enable direct contacts with the government of Lebanon," Olmert said during a press conference with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan ...
... Mr Downer is correct to highlight the media's responsibilities and failings in its international coverage, particularly in the Middle East. In a keynote address to the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers Association (PANPA) conference on Monday, Mr Downer drew together the interlocking themes of Australia's global mission to further the cause of democracy and freedom and the media's responsibility to report the truth. .... Mr Downer said that while Australia was well served in reporting on many of the key topics that shape our international relations, he remained disappointed with some of the recent reporting out of the Middle East. He expressed particular concern at evidence of dishonesty in reporting out of Lebanon. Mr Downer highlighted the sacking of Reuters photographer Adnan Hajj's for embellishing photographs of Israeli damage inflicted on Lebanon. He criticised the media tendency to report every casualty on the Lebanese side of the conflict as a civilian casualty, when it was indisputable that a great many of those injured or killed were armed Hezbollah combatants. He said that in a grown-up society such as ours, the media cannot expect to get away with parading falsehoods as truths, or ignoring salient facts because they happened to be inconvenient to the line of argument – or narrative – that particular journalists, or media organisations, might choose to adopt on any given controversy or issue.
The Australian could not agree more. Selective reporting, is an affliction not confined to the Middle East conflict. It is the issue on which this newspaper has most recently taken the ABC's Media Watch program to task. Together with the Fairfax press, Media Watch is a repeat offender when it comes to presenting only views that suit its cause. Selective reporting, as Mr Downer is correct to highlight, is corrosive for journalism and democracy. Selective reporting of the Middle East does not serve the public interest and hinders proper analysis of the root cause of the continuing violence. Mr Downer said international reporting of the conflict was biased in favour of Lebanon, noting exaggerated claims of casualties, a well-worn propaganda tactic utilised to great public relations effect by Hezbollah. Casualty details released by Israel, which shares Australia's respect for free speech and democracy, have generally been respected as accurate by all sides.
In the media's defence, war reporters often work under time pressure in the most trying of circumstances. And casualty numbers can be imprecise in the immediate aftermath of violence. That the truth is not always easy to discern must be better appreciated by Mr Downer following his embrace of the Lebanese ambulance incident, as presented by internet site In his speech to PANPA, Mr Downer said the incident, in which it was claimed Israel had deliberately bombed a Red Cross ambulance, did not stand up to even the most rudimentary scrutiny. Mr Downer said that after closer study of the images of the damage to the ambulance, it was beyond serious dispute that this episode has all the makings of a hoax. His source? ....[http://www.zombietime.com] .... In a lengthy posting, the website puts forward its own conspiracy theory and claims the incident never took place. .... In his report in the Media section today, [Martin] Chulov stands by the original account and says damage to the ambulance is consistent with the original claims of attack. .... Mr Downer may himself have fallen for the propaganda trick he is keen to warn against....
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
AT a recent press conference Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal .... In an indirect reference to Arab countries which are close to Iran, Prince Saud Al-Faisal said “some Arab states are compromising their Arab identity through ties with non-Arab countries.”....
We are trying to explain the sign language used by Prince Faisal and its meaning because protocol and his position don’t allow him to say what he wants to say frankly. At his press conference Prince Faisal meant the Syrian regime and its strategic ties with Tehran. For Damascus, Iran has become more important than any Arab country. Funds from Tehran are filling the pockets of some important persons in Syria instead of being deposited in the treasury of that country. Syria gets financial assistance from Iran for contracts to murder, which has become a part of Damascus’ black history and tradition.
The international community did a blunder by only beating the tail of the snake (Hezbollah) in Lebanon and missing the heads in Damascus and Tehran, allowing them to go ahead with their ambitious plan to overpower the Middle East.
Syria and Iran form the core of danger in the region. The leaders of both countries have lost their integrity as they have become experts in changing colors. .... No one knows the structure of authority in Iran or who is its decision maker. The only thing we are sure about is that Tehran is keen to resurrect the greed of the Persian Empire.
With its unconcealed ambition, Iran has become a dangerous power which Arabs can use against each other. This is exactly what Prince Saud meant when he warned about losing Arab identity. Iran wants to use its nuclear program as a base for its imperialistic dreams and not to meet its energy needs. As the fourth largest oil producing country in the world and the second in producing natural gas, Iran is rich with energy sources. It doesn’t really need expensive nuclear power.
If Iran is allowed to go ahead with its nuclear program and refuse surprise inspections by officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, then it will be a source of threat to Gulf countries, which supply the energy that feeds the world’s economy and industry. This is why, as Prince Faisal said, losing Arab identity becomes dangerous. Arab countries with close ties to Iran could become a Trojan horse full of Iranian soldiers within the wall of Arab castle.
Lebanon has already paid a heavy price for Iran’s ambitions as some Lebanese served Tehran’s interests putting back their own country by 20 years. Arab countries, which follow Iran’s path, may lose their identity and meet the same fate that befell Lebanon. Syria, which is being led by some mercenaries who are colleting dollars from Iran, will be the first victim of such devastation.
Six years ago, when Israel withdrew from Lebanon, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan ... met with Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah. "Let me say that Hizbullah... is a player in the south of Lebanon... I did tell Mr. Nasrallah that Hizbullah exercised restraint, responsibility and discipline after the withdrawal, and that we would want to see that continue, and I'm sure from the indications that he gave me that he intends to do it," Annan said after his meeting in June 2000....
...Annan did not, of course, meet with Nasrallah - who in any case is difficult to find these days - this week in Beirut. But Prime Minister Ehud Olmert might suggest to his guest today that Annan not go ahead with a worse meeting tentatively planned for later this week: with Nasrallah's backers in Teheran.
....Why would Annan want pictures of him meeting politely with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a man he has effectively and correctly called an anti-Semitic bigot, broadcast around the world? ... Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and as late as yesterday reiterated his arguments for Israel's elimination - an act of genocide.
...when asked whether the new mandate of UNIFIL included deployment along the Lebanese-Syrian border, Annan strangely misrepresented Resolution 1701: "We have no such plans at the moment. As I said not long ago, it is not in [UNIFIL's] mandate to deploy to the Lebanese-Syrian border."
Actually, operative paragraph 14 "calls upon the government of Lebanon to... prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel and requests UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11 [defining UNIFIL's expanded mandate] to assist the government of Lebanon at its request."
...Why didn't Annan say that he expects that Lebanon will fulfill such an embargo and that 1701 explicitly places UNIFIL at Lebanon's disposal to assist in this task?
Obviously, as urgent and necessary as it is to disarm Hizbullah, it is even more critical to prevent Hizbullah from restocking the enormous arsenal it just lost. This must be done both by ensuring that there are consequences for Syria and Iran if they attempt to violate the new UN embargo, and by insisting that Lebanon enforce the embargo, presumably with UNIFIL's help.
Annan may be right that the key to disarming Hizbullah is for the Lebanese government to build a consensus for doing so, rather than UNIFIL leading the way by force. But if UNIFIL will not disarm Hizbullah, and will not even help enforce an embargo on the border, what is it there for?
And if Annan himself is deflating Resolution 1701's key embargo provision, as well as providing Teheran's genocidal bigots with proof that they can defy the world and still merit a prestigious diplomatic visit, is he part of the solution, or of the problem?
[SL: ...and to top it all off he has shifty, beady eyes and looks uncomforatble in Israel. Is his conscience troubling him? ]
On the night of July 23, 2006, an Israeli aircraft intentionally fired missiles at and struck two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances performing rescue operations, causing huge explosions that injured everyone inside the vehicles. Or so says the global media, including Time magazine, the BBC, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and thousands of other outlets around the world. If true, the incident would have been an egregious and indefensible violation of the Geneva Convention, and would constitute a war crime committed by the state of Israel.
But there's one problem: It never happened......
Follow the link for the detailed evidence.
.........Why did the media swallow the story hook, line and sinker? In their zeal to bash Israel, did they allow themselves, consciously or unconsciously, to be duped by Hezbollah supporters into broadcasting propaganda as news? Or is the media so eager to jump on any fresh scandal that they simply switch off their critical thinking and become absolutely credulous of any juicy tale thrown their way?
It took the blogs and non-professional independent researchers to shine the harsh light of forensic analysis on this case, in the process debunking just about every aspect of the allegations. And this was done merely with the meager scraps of evidence left over by the "professional" journalists, and by squeezing the maximum amount of information out of the subtlest of clues. But if the journalists who were right there on the scene had even the slightest interest in actually investigating the story, they had access to all sorts of information that could have blown the lid off the case. .... Is the media that gullible -- or does it have a political bias?
- Israel is not better off strategically than it was at the beginning of the war; this in itself is a Hizballah victory. Israel must prepare to win the next round decisively.
- The IDF knew that Hizballah could not be defeated without a major ground operation: its plan did not fail - it was never implemented. The failure was primarily of leadership: only go to war with clear objectives and the determination to prevail.
- The IDF ostensibly applied the initially brilliant U.S. strategy in Iraq - an aerial blitz against military targets and civil infrastructure, to crush the Iraqi system, followed by a decisive ground offensive. In reality, Israel did not launch the follow-on ground operation and, except for transportation, did not target Lebanon's infrastructure either.
- Israel must adopt and aggressively implement a realistic deterrent posture, with clear "red lines." Hizballah attacks, even attempts to redeploy, should cause an immediate and overwhelming response. Israel, not Hizballah, must have escalation dominance.
- Lebanese and international forces will do little to ensure security and will end up as a cover for ongoing Hizballah operations, hampering Israel's freedom of movement. Hizballah will neither disarm nor redeploy from the south. Another round is likely.
- The West Bank consolidation is now virtually dead and with it any prospects for the "peace process." Only a serious, dramatic Arab initiative can save it. Once again, the Palestinians and their radical allies have been their own worst enemy.
- Iran remains the primary issue - imagine this war just a few years from now: a nuclear umbrella for Hizballah, threats to Israel's existence, an international crisis. The good news: Iran exposed its Hizballah deterrent prematurely; Israel learned it can survive Hizballah rocket attacks, an important lesson if Iran is attacked in the future; the world was given a "wake-up call."
- A revitalized U.S.-Israel strategic dialogue is more vital than ever.
... Israel is not better off strategically than it was at the beginning of the war. ...Israel must face up to reality, draw the appropriate conclusions, make the best of a bad situation, and now seek to turn adversity into long-term advantage. This analysis looks at how the current situation evolved, and possible future steps.
The IDF's Plan Was Never Implemented
... The IDF's plan did not fail - it was never implemented. ...Ostensibly, the IDF followed an approach similar to the brilliant U.S. military strategy of the early days of the 2003 Iraq War - a massive aerial blitz against both military targets and the civil infrastructure... immediately followed by a rapid ground offensive to deliver the decisive blow. In fact, Israel not only failed to launch the follow-on ground operation, but did not truly apply the aerial blitz model either. With the exception of a handful of targets, mostly in the opening days of the war, the only "civil infrastructure" Israel targeted was the transportation system. The power (electrical, gas, gasoline), communications, media, and governmental system were all left untouched. ...
Secure Enough to be Risk-Adverse
Over the years, Israel has become secure enough to become risk-adverse... In the past, when Israel's strategic circumstances were even more constrained, every possible setback was considered an unacceptable loss in a zero sum game and Israel was willing to pay almost any price to prevail. This is no longer the case, and the government's careful and mature approach was justified, but was taken too far, leading to indecision and even paralysis.
Forgetting the "Powell Doctrine"
Israel's primary mistake was the failure to learn the lessons of the "Powell Doctrine," formulated by former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell, who identified three essential preconditions for entering a war: establishing clear, attainable objectives, with a defined exit strategy; applying overwhelming force in the pursuit thereof; and ensuring public support. Of these, Israel had only public support, with the government failing to heed the clear lessons of Vietnam, Lebanon 1982, and Iraq today - either play to win or not at all......
Imagine if Iran Had Nukes ...
No Unilateral West Bank Withdrawal
.... it is abundantly clear that the IDF will have to remain deployed in the West Bank for years, for defensive purposes, even if the settlements are dismantled. The Palestinians, with Hizballah's gracious help, will have succeeded once again in being their own worst enemy.
Radicals Ascendant in the Middle East
.... Following the U.S. failure in Iraq and Israel's in Lebanon....[has led to] to a greatly reemboldened radical camp. Iran, Syria, Hizballah, Hamas, al-Qaeda, the insurgents in Iraq and others, will all become even more convinced of their ability to stand up to both the "Great" and "Little Satan," and to promote WMD capabilities and terror in the pursuit of their extremist ideologies. The radicals' and fundamentalists' power will increase, as will the threat to the stability of moderate Arab regimes. With the death of the peace process and hopes for regional reform, the "bad, old" Middle East will truly be back, whose internal dysfunctions will pose an even greater threat to international security.
The Road Forward.... Escalation Dominance
....Israel must now adopt a realistic deterrent posture, with clear "red lines," and aggressively implement it in practice, at the risk of renewed hostilities. Hizballah attempts to redeploy in the security zone, not to mention actual attacks, should result in immediate and overwhelming Israeli responses and a willingness to further escalate, as needed. Israel, not Hizballah, must dominate the escalation cycle.
Lebanon's civil infrastructure should no longer be out of bounds. Israel should create a new strategic equation: If Hizballah persists in targeting Israel's civilian population, Israel will respond, not by hitting Lebanese civilians, but by gradually attacking the civil infrastructure - power plants, communications, and media.
The criterion for renewed and expanded military action has to be efficacy, not artificial territorial delineations, such as the Litani River. This may require a far broader operation, with all of the attendant consequences.
A Robust International Force?
... there should be few illusions regarding the actual efficacy of this force. No international force will even attempt to do what Israel has tried to do: confront Hizballah, put an end to its cross border operations, and prevent rockets from being fired overhead, as well as implement UN resolutions calling for its disarmament. The Shiite-dominated Lebanese army will, in all likelihood, do little, if anything, to ensure security in the south and, together, the two forces will probably end up serving as a cover for ongoing Hizballah operations, merely hampering Israel's future freedom of operation. Moreover, Hizballah will do everything in its power to erode the morale and efficacy of these forces; indeed, it has already begun doing so, even prior to their actual deployment....
A Revitalized U.S.-Israeli Strategic Dialogue
The U.S. and Israel maintain intensive, ongoing consultations at all levels and on virtually all issues. Talks, however, are often more in the form of an exchange of information....It is time for a far broader and more in-depth policy exchange at both senior political and bureaucratic levels. Existing strategic fora, such as the JPMG (Joint Politico-Military Group), must be given new life, infused with a truly substantive policy approach, and conducted at more senior levels.
It is more urgent than ever that the two sides agree, or at least fully explore, the strategic options open to them on Iran. On this issue, neither side can afford the failed assessments, expectations, and outcome of the war in Lebanon.
Greater joint attention, including funding, will have to be devoted to the development of weapons systems and tactics for dealing with the new form of asymmetric warfare posed by Hizballah in Lebanon and the insurgents in Iraq.....
.... An effective U.S. attempt to promote such an idea is now essential.
[Summary and exerpts only; follow the link for the full article.]
Dr. Chuck Freilich, formerly Israeli Deputy National Security Adviser, is now a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
Israel’s intelligence chiefs have formed a new lobby to put their warnings in the public domain ....
The first to speak out was the Shin Bet director, Yuval Diskin.
He represented the heads of AMAN-military intelligence and the Mosad when he revealed to the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee Tuesday, Aug. 29, that Palestinian terrorists, notably Hamas, were employing Hizballah’s Lebanon tactics and building a Katyusha deployment, bunker network and anti-tank missile arsenal in the Gaza Strip. The northern West Bank, he said, had been taken over by Hizballah agents and radical Jihad Islami terrorists since its evacuation by Israel at the same time as the Gaza Strip last summer.
This was the Shin Bet director’s first appearance as spokesman of the new intelligence grouping.
It is made up of the heads of the three intelligence services, Diskin, AMAN’s Maj.-Gen Amos Yadlin and Meir Dagan, head of the Mossad, as well as the counter-terror departments of these services and of the IDF Southern Command.
In the wake of the Lebanon war, these security chiefs have resolved to stand guard over Israel’s national security interests ....
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the heads of the lobby are convinced that the Palestinian menace to Israel is as a great as Hizballah’s in Lebanon and becoming more acute.
They are campaigning for the Israeli army to reoccupy the Gaza-Egyptian border strip known as the Philadelphi route and propose a security zone one kilometer wide to run from Kerem Shalom to the Mediterranean and cut the Gaza Strip off from Sinai.
Since Israeli troops departed the Philadelphi border enclave last summer – with the rest of the Gaza Strip - weapons smuggling and terrorist traffic between Egypt and Gaza has been flourishing. Diskin’s portrayal of Sinai as a paradise for international weapons traffickers and a strategic threat to Israel was timed to caution Olmert against further concessions on Lebanon to the visiting UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, in consideration of the strong Hizballah-Palestinian interchanges and reciprocity.
DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources reveal: Israel’s security chiefs have learned of a decision by Hizballah to keep its head down in S. Lebanon for the time being, while secretly opening two new anti-Israel fronts in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank. This transposition of Hizballah’s war against Israel to the Palestinian arena has begun to materialize.
Three times as many Hizballah officers are traveling to the Gaza Strip by sea as before the war and deliveries of weapons systems have doubled, with Iranian support. Very large quantities of Katyusha rockets and anti-tank missiles are pouring into the Gaza Strip together with hundreds of RPG-29 rocket-propelled grenades and Grad rockets. Intelligence leaders are warning the prime minister that if this influx is not scotched forthwith, southern Israel will find itself face to face with a second Hizballah front ready to go active in the second half of October.
The Hizballah master plan consists of three parts:
1. Its fighting units with the help of the Lebanese army (40% of which are Shiites) are pretending to remove themselves with their weapons from South Lebanon. Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora happily announced Tuesday that Hizballah had enabled the national army to intercept an arms consignment from Syria in the Lebanese Beqaa Valley. In Tyre, Hizballah fighters surrendered their weapons to Lebanese troops. Nasrallah will allow a deceptive calm to reign as UN forces move into position, to satisfy them that Security Council resolution 1701 is being upheld, including the institution of an arms-free and militia-free zone in the south. It will last until Hizballah and its Tehran masters are ready for the next round.
2. This calm will contrast meanwhile with the opening of a Hizballah-Hamas front on Israel’s southwest border to replicate the Hizballah rocket offensive against northern Israel which was halted by the UN-brokered ceasefire two weeks ago. Israel’s Negev communities will be targeted instead of Galilee. But Israel’s hands for retaliating against Hizballah will be tied by the presence of the international force in Lebanon.
3. Olmert is sternly warned by Israel’s security chiefs on no account to buy the security arrangements he and his predecessors accepted for Israel’s southern border last year. Neither the Egyptian police contingents nor the European border inspectors have honored agreements signed at the time and caught a single terrorist or stopped a single weapons delivery smuggled in from Sinai to Gaza.
Diskin and Co. see the same pattern taking shape in south Lebanon.
He stressed to the lawmakers in Jerusalem that he felt bound to lay all this intelligence data before them in detail so that the intelligence community would not be blamed after the fact with failing to warn the country of the hazards in store, as it was after the Lebanon war.
Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin ... said the West Bank has become increasingly violent, especially in the area of Samaria. Following last summer's withdrawal from the four communities in northern Samaria, the intelligence community has found it difficult to control the area and gather information. "Samaria has become the land of Islamic Jihad following the disengagement," he said.
Weapons smuggling through the Rafah crossing has gone up exponentially since the pullout, Diskin warned, adding that "Rafah will soon be the garden of Eden of weapons smuggling."
He estimated that approximately 15,000 guns, 4 million bullets, 2,300 pistols, 38 rockets, dozens of anti-tank missiles, 15 tons of TNT, 400 RPGs, and 10-15 Katyushas like those used in Lebanon had been smuggled into Gaza from Egypt so far - and, he said, those are just the ones we know about. After three to five years of this kind of weapons transfer, he warned, Israel will face a situation similar to south Lebanon. "At this point, anybody who wants to smuggle something through the Philadelphi route can apparently do so," Diskin said. "You can smuggle anything through Philadelphi except maybe a tank or plane."
MK Natan Sharansky (Likud) responded to Diskin's report, saying, "For ten years, we've been hearing these types of reports, but there has never been such an immediate need for action. Every kind of weapon is getting into the Gaza Strip, and Hamas is establishing a terrorist army. It is no longer possible to say they didn't warn us." ..........
The families of the three kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldiers arrived Tuesday at a meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which they described as a "crucial meeting." Before the meeting, the family members made it clear that they have only one request of Annan – to receive a sign of life from their loved ones.
Ahead of their meeting with the UN secretary-general, the families met with Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman at the Kind David Hotel in Jerusalem.
Ehud Goldwasser's wife Karnit said that she expected the United Nations to take responsibility.
"We really hope that our meeting will bear fruit – in the form of Udi (Ehud), Eldad and Gilad – but we are nonetheless worried. We heard what Annan said in Lebanon.... We hope and expect the UN to take responsibility, to help with the implementation of Resolution 1701 and bring the three back home," she said.
Karnit added she would not settle for talks but wants to see results.
"Annan said he wants the captives to return home and I want to hear in person, not through the media. I also want to begin seeing deeds and seeing Udi, Eldad and Gilad starting to march home. We have not received anything until now, not even a sign of life. We want to begin seeing acts and not only hearing nice and important words," she explained.
Ambassador Gillerman said before the meeting with Annan: "I expect this meeting to create a very clear personal and moral commitment of the UN secretary-general to raise the make the issue of the kidnapped sons a top priority. In the coming days he is about to visit countries with both an interest and great influence in terms of this issue. I certainly hope that this meeting will raise his moral commitment." ....
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
....In an interview with the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar, the mufti of Tyre and of the Jabal 'Aamel district, Sayyed 'Ali Al-Amin, demanded that the Lebanese government bear its responsibility and deploy the Lebanese army in the south of the country. This is because, he says, it is the government that is responsible for the security of the south, and no other group.
Al-Amin criticized the accusations of treason against anyone who has called to disarm Hizbullah, arguing that "no community [in Lebanon] is more nationalist and more loyal than another." According to him, "the Shi'ite community in Lebanon authorized no one to declare war in its name" - on the contrary, he said, it opposed the war and is loyal to the state just like Lebanon's other ethnic communities. He clarified that the support for the resistance in the south was no substitute for loyalty to the state, and stressed that this support was common to all Lebanon. [Al-Nahar (Lebanon), August 22, 2006. ]
Follow this link for a transcript of excerpts from the interview.
We must not lift sea blockade on Lebanon as long as our abducted soldiers are not released. For this we need national and international pressure, not quiet diplomacy
Although a ceasefire is in force, the current campaign is not yet over. ...The Israeli navy is maintaining the sea blockade on the shores of Lebanon, and this is really exasperating the Lebanese people. This is the only thing that truly bothers them, testimony of this is their call on the entire international community to help lift it....Officially, Israel is saying that the blockade will only be lifted once it is replaced by an [arms] embargo .... However there is another important matter – the two abducted soldiers.
Don't believe in clandestine diplomacy
... I don't believe in clandestine diplomacy. This has never produced anything positive, just look at the secret agreements reached with the help of European mediation – the Olso Accords and all the ensuing tragedies that were forced on Yitzhak Rabin because of such clandestine diplomacy. Even the Elhanan Tenenbaum deal and other shady prisoner exchanges were formulated in this manner. The Egyptians and Hizbullah are reporting that such a deal is currently in the making, and common sense says that this is probably the case.
Strengthening evil Sheik's power
Any clandestine deal strengthens the evil Sheik's power, and this could ruin the little we achieved in this war ...It is crucial, therefore that we demand that the abducted soldiers be transferred to the Lebanese government and that only Lebanon as a sovereign state will have the right to negotiate for their release.
...In other words: The sea blockade of the Lebanese coastline will not be lifted unless the two abducted soldiers are transferred to the Lebanese government ... The prime minister can argue his case for accepting the ceasefire..... However, he cannot stand up against the captives' parents and the public and argue the case of lifting the sea blockade without at least transferring the soldiers to the Lebanese government.
Foreign agent on behalf of Syria and Iran
The only thing that's really pressuring the Sheikh is the increasing accusations in Lebanon that he is acting as a foreign agent on behalf of Syria and Iran (which of course is true).
Therefore, Nasrallah will find it very difficult to refuse specific demands made by Beirut's government. Beirut, on its part, is not too eager to enter into a conflict with the Shiite organization and will only do so if it has no choice.
Perhaps it will do so if UN Secretary General, heads of European states and the US Secretary of State make it quite clear to the Lebanese government that there is no other way to lift the Israeli imposed sea blockade – and they on their part will do so if the Israeli government will abide by a sharp and hardened stance......
Also from Ynet News, 28/8/06, by Associated Press ...
UN Chief urges Hizbullah to release Israeli soldiers
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan chided both Israel and Hizbullah on Monday, saying they could not "choose and pick" parts of a UN ceasefire resolution to implement. He demanded that the organization release two captured Israeli soldiers and Israel lift a blockade on Lebanon ....."Without the full implementation of resolution 1701, I fear the risk is great for renewal of hostilities," he continued
The top UN diplomat also said he was renewing his "call for the abducted soldiers to be free." He urged Hizbullah to transfer them to the Lebanese government "or a third party" under the auspices of the international Red Cross. "We, the UN, will be prepared to play a role if we are required to do so. And I offer our services," he added.
....Annan obliquely renewed the U.N.'s call for Hizbullah's disarmament. "In Lebanon there should, as we have all agreed, be one law, one authority, one gun," he said.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Interior minister [Bar-on]: Top Arab municipal officials in north ran away, abandoned communities; MK Eitam: Arab leaders pretending to be deprived
...Interior Minister Ronnie Bar-On slammed on Monday senior local authority heads in the north for "fleeing" their posts during the recent war. Bar-On did not name the culprits but made it clear most of them were Arab municipal heads. He said that in some cases officials made use of municipal security vehicles to make their escape... "....the (ministry) director-general and I went up north…I discovered very serious flaws in certain towns, which I will not name in order to maintain their dignity..... I was told that a large part of the town's management – both the elected political management but particularly the executive ranks – ran away, at the highest levels," Bar-On said...
.... Bar-On concluded his remarks with an unequivocal statement: "I’m telling you in the clearest, most decisive manner, that the first and most decisive lesson of this war is that in places where we had a serious, responsible and functioning mayor and municipal management, there were no problems…while in places where municipal heads were weak, irresponsible and incompetent, everything collapsed and no assistance made a difference."
National Union-National Religious Party Chairman MK Effie Eitam also slammed the Arab local authority heads during the discussion, saying that "they are pretending to be deprived.....I don’t understand why my children have to serve in the army and die so that Arab local authority heads can pretend to be deprived. They were not loyal to the country during the war."
Chorus [my translation]:
Israel's GDP grew at an annualized rate of 5.9% in the first half of 2006, and rose 6.2% in the 2nd quarter.
Professor Stanley Fischer, Governor of the Bank of Israel....predicted that the 2006 GDP growth will reach 4%, as predicted earlier this year. ..... Capital market CPI expectations for the next 12 months, according to the Bank of Israel, are 1.8% - within the inflation range target of 1%-3%. Monetary policy has maintained its course, and the Bank of Israel interest rate is set at 5.5%, 0.25% higher than the US Fed rate, as has occurred in the last few months.
International rating agencies such as Fitch Ratings and S&P, have maintained Israel's rating and outlook.... Foreign investment houses, such as Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Citibank and Goldman Sachs suggested in their reports that the Israeli economy is robust and that it would overcome this conflict to rebound to high growth rates....
... Foreign investments have continued their inward flow during the conflict, enhancing an already record year in investments, reaching $17,188 million for the period Jan-Jul 2006, which is 11% of GDP, representing the highest rate by world standards. This partial figure expresses a 40% gain in investments over all of 2000, the last all-time record year.
....Latest R&D figures for 2005 shows Israel's civilian R&D grew, and reached 4.7% of GDP. OECD top country in 2004 was Sweden with an R&D spending of 3.8% of GDP.
The Wall Street Journal recently published a report stating that "… one critical part of Israel's economy is weathering the storm so far. The high-technology sector has continued to function, proving far more resilient than more traditional industries…"
Sunday, August 27, 2006
The Egyptian Al Ahram newspaper reports that Israel and Hezbollah have agreed on the conditions of a prisoners exchange, Israel Radio reported on Sunday.
According to the report, senior Egyptian officials have told the paper that the exchange is to take place in three weeks' time, and is mediated by Germany. The sources said that under the agreement, abducted Israel Defense Forces soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev would be released first, and a day or two later Israel would release Lebanese prisoners according to a list provided by Hezbollah.
Al Ahram's report said also that a deal for the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, abducted by Palestinian militants on the Gaza border, is to be finalized soon.
SOMETIMES some rich political leaders get afflicted by a strange sickness when their brain cannot comprehend ideas and lose track of meanings of words. ....Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak diagnosed such a disease in Syrian President Dr Bashar Al-Assad after hearing the latter’s recent speech when he accused some Arab leaders of being “half-men and decorative leaders.” Responding to Al-Assad’s accusations President Mubarak said “I hold my nerve and I am unflappable in the face of provocation. May God calm those who have lost their nerve, especially as we are facing some challenges which need wise minds.”
After reaching the same conclusion about the Syrian President, Dubai TV gave him a golden opportunity by inviting him to participate in an exclusive program to clarify his speech where he had lost control of his temper and tongue. During the interview, which attracted millions of viewers from Arab and other countries, Dr Bashar worsened his situation by coming up with some lame excuses and using humiliating words to describe the people of Syria .... Al-Assad accused Syrians of not being able to take a firm decision on freeing the Golan Heights, although it has been under Israeli occupation for over 34 years.
The fact that Al-Assad has lost control of his mind was obvious during the interview as he went digressing several times. He focused on results without providing good explanations. Instead of agreeing to comply with UN Resolution 1701 and allow the deployment of international peacekeeping forces along Syria’s borders to prevent infiltration and smuggling weapons into Lebanon, Al-Assad considered the decision an attempt to create animosity between Syria and Lebanon, and an aggression on the sovereignty of two independent countries.
We wonder why Al-Assad should be bothered about the issue of preventing infiltration and smuggling of weapons unless Syria’s borders are open to provide Hezbollah with men and weapons, not to forget Palestinian groups which are implementing his orders and benefit by smuggling weapons. We also wonder why the Syrian President should worry about Lebanon’s sovereignty at this stage. Syria was sucking the blood of Lebanon, which made Al-Assad lose control over his mind and tongue recently, for over 30 years.
Asked why an organized armed resistance has not been established to free the Golan Heights, Al-Assad replied “resistance is a public process and not a state resolution. People may side-step their governments or countries and action this. The people of Syria have not taken any decision to form such a resistance until now.” Al-Assad gave such a vague reply when he or his father didn’t give any opportunity to the Syrians to even breathe freely. During the interview Al-Assad also said his reference to “half-men” was aimed at some segments of the Syrian society and not any Arab leader.
We don’t want to elaborate on the Syrian President’s conduct and replies during the interview with Dubai TV. However, we are afraid there is a new Eli Cohen inside the Syrian regime. (Eli Cohen was an Israeli spy who managed to reach a top position in the Baath Party during the days of the late Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad. He managed to leak sensitive information ...[and]...did a great job in helping Israeli forces occupy the Golan Heights in 1967. We don’t know what the new Cohen, who has isolated the people of Syria from the rest of Arab world, is going to do. [This is clearly a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that mocks the Arab propensity to blame every negative eventuality on Jews - SL]
US worriedly watches as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated heavy-water reactor and prepares to implement measures after UN Security Council ultimatum expires this upcoming Thursday. Los Angeles Times: If Russia and China thwart international sanctions, US will build independent coalition to impose sanctions
WASHINGTON-VIDEO: Even after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated the Iranian heavy-water reactor Saturday, the US will have a hard time convincing Russia and China to support sanctions in the Security Council. Official sources in Bush's cabinet said to newspaper Los Angeles Times that if these efforts fail, the US will try to build an independent coalition to impose sanctions on Tehran.
According to the newspaper's headline report, the countries that will participate in a coalition against Iran will freeze assets and will impose sanctions on commerce with Iran. This upcoming Thursday the ultimatum put forth by the UN to Tehran to halt uranium enrichment within the framework of UN Resolution 1696 will expire. The US believes that Japan and the European trio - Germany, France, and Britain – will provide the base for international rallying outside the Security Council in the case that Russia and China block the sanctions.
...US Permanent Representative to the UN, John Bolton ... said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that the US intends to present a resolution to the Security Council for the punishment of Iran immediately after the UN ultimatum expires on Thursday. The most immediate sanctions will be directed at the Iranian administration, and will not, at this stage, hurt the Iranian people. The American proposal will include a prohibition on the Iranian leadership from traveling outside their country, and a freezing of Iranian leadership's assets outside of Iran. ....
...."You don't need Security Council authority to impose sanctions...," Bolton said. "We will continue to enhance Proliferation Security Initiatives to cut off flows of materials and technology that are useful to Iran's ballistic missile program and nuclear programs. We will be constraining financial transactions under existing terrorism laws."
Bolton clarified in the interview that the US would focus efforts to pressure Japanese and European banks to stop doing business with Iran. This is a hint that the US Treasury Department is holding talks with other countries, which Bolton refused to identify. The Treasury Department reported that they are already seeing the fruits of this effort, including a decision by Switzerland's Union Bank to cut off relations with Iran.
UNIFIL-2, which will deploy in two stages starting early September, “will not be used along Lebanon’s long and porous border with Syria to stop any shipments of arms reaching Hizballah,” the UN secretary admitted Friday night from Brussels. This confirms DEBKAfile’s report Friday that Israel has failed to obtain a pledge to enforce the UN embargo on arms for Hizballah’s rearmament from Iran and Syria.
Annan also stated: “Troops are not going in there to disarm – let’s be clear.” Disarming Hizballah, he said, is a subject for “political agreement among the Lebanese -” (a direct contradiction of UN Security Council resolution 1552). Annan also spoke of “international guarantees” to secure Israel against further attacks. In other words, that is not UNIFIL’s job.
The UN Secretary General will go ahead with raising more international soldiers from Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh, despite their refusal to maintain diplomatic relations with Jerusalem. He said he would take the best peacekeepers “wherever he can find them “– even if Israel does not accept this.
The Muslim contingents will supplement the 6,900 soldiers 12 European governments have pledged. Italy which succeeds France as leader of the force next February deploys the largest unit of 3,000 men, followed by France’s 2000 troops, Spain’s 1,000, Poland’s 500 and 250 from Finland. French defense minister Alliot-Marie (picture) told the Wall Street Journal that Paris had obtained a very important clarification permitting its troops to use rubber bullets against “anyone standing in their way.”
Foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said the force would mark out “exclusion zones,” in which armed militias would be disarmed, as “the best way to remove Hizballah’s weapons.”
Neither French minister referred to the non-exclusion zones, from which it may be inferred that there, Hizballah fighters would be allowed to bear arms. The Italian foreign minister, Massimo D’Alema, who can’t wait to plant a European military presence in the Middle East, is even more relaxed about holding Hizballah to UN resolution 1701. After all, he says, Europe does not regard Hizballah as a terrorist organization. He repeated Annan’s statement and declaredItaly would not engage in disarming Hizballah fighters.
Hizballah spokesmen say that the “exclusion zones” issue is under study. DEBKAfile’s Beirut sources have learned that Iran’s Shiite proxy is considering opposing exclusion zones in Lebanon unless they are extended to northern Israel. This condition would hold up the UNIFIL-2 deployment in Lebanon until such time as Israel withdraws its troops - not only from Lebanon, but also from defensive positions on the Israeli side of the border including Galilee, two weeks after its civilian population endured a 4,000-rocket Hizballah blitz.
The Hamas team which abducted Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit on June 25 ... hired Zakaria Dughmush and his masked men to capture the two Fox News journalists in Gaza City on Aug. 14.
Although their fates are intertwined, the American Steve Centanni, 60, and New Zealander Olaf Wiig, 36, are not being held in the same place as Gilead Shalit. The Fox journalists are thought to be hidden in Gaza City by the gang which kidnapped him, while Shalit is in a Hamas team’s hands, either in Rafah or Khan Younes in the southern Gaza Strip.
... Dughmush... [is] a former follower of the late Jemal Semhadana, head of the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees who was killed in Rafah by rockets fired from an Israeli warplane on June 8, 2006.
Semhadana was the first Palestinian terrorist to attack Americans. He staged the bombing attack of October 15, 2003 on a US embassy convoy from Tel Aviv as it drove past Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. Three American security officers died in that attack. After Semhadana’s death, his PRC fragmented into several small militias, one of them led by Dughmush, a rabid fundamentalist who set up base in Gaza City. He was adopted by Hamas, but also draws funds and weapons from al Qaeda and Hizballah elements working together in the Gaza Strip.
Our counter-terror sources reveal that Dughmush was handed the contract to kidnap one or more Americans by the abductors of the Israeli soldier when their efforts to negotiate a prisoner swap broke down. Hamas ended up refusing the quid pro quo of a promise by Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, already deposited with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, to release 600 Palestinian prisoners. They held out for a simultaneous trade and then withdrew from the talks. They turned to Dughmush when pressure built up to end the episode from many quarters, including the Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya, the Egyptians and the head of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.
Because neither set of abductors wanted Palestinians branded as kidnappers of Americans, they invented a group no one had heard of, calling it the Brigades of the Holy Jihad. This phantom group released a communiqué and videotape Wednesday, August 23, demanding the release within 72 hours of Muslim prisoners in American jails. The deadline was up Saturday noon with no word from the abductors. Nothing had been said about the fate of the captives if the deadline was not met.
With three hostages in hand, the Palestinian terrorists expect a higher price for their release, such as a large number of Palestinians held in Israel and possibly the United States as well.
DEBKAfile adds: Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniya both know exactly who kidnapped Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig. They are embarrassed enough to go through the motions of protesting the abductions, but not enough to take real action to put a stop to the Hamas scheme of holding the two Fox journalists hostage to raise the ante for the Israeli soldier.