Friday, October 20, 2006

DEBKAfile’s senior military sources: Most Palestinian arms smuggling tunnels located in W. Gaza - out of range of IDF’s Philadelphi operation

From Debkafile, October 20, 2006, 2:41 AM (GMT+02:00) ...

Senior IDF officers told DEBKAfile Thursday, Oct. 19, that the 13 Palestinian smuggling tunnels unearthed this week by Israeli units in the Philadelphi-Rafah sector were small change. Most of the active tunnels are now located to the west of this border sector. They are used by Palestinian terrorist organizations for moving contraband arms into the Gaza Strip by sea and land, despite the efforts of Israeli warships to intercept the flock of small vessel sailing from the northern coast of Egyptian Sinai, before they unload their cargo of weapons and explosives on the Gazan shore.

In any case, Israeli tunnel-hunters led by IDF Bedouin scout units are confined to the 5 km between Philadelphi and Rafah, while the tunnels dug under a 17 km-strip to the West, the former locations of Israeli Mediterranean settlements, operate unhindered. These IDF officers also warn that Palestinian gunrunners have dug so many subterranean shafts – tens if not hundreds – that barely a week after any Israeli offensive, they will be full operational. To destroy them all would necessitate Israel’s permanent military reoccupation of the entire network of smuggling routes.

The general assessment of these Israeli officers is that the Philadelphi operation is another of the government’s half-measures to impress on the public that a tough crackdown is afoot to stem the flow of dangerous weaponry to Palestinian terrorists. The Olmert government cannot let the army go all-out against the accumulating menace without admitting that Israel’s Sept. 2005 evacuation from the Gaza Strip’s Egyptian border was a grave strategic blunder, which the incumbents enthusiastically executed as Ariel Sharon’s top ministers. The defense ministry is in a similar quandary, reluctant to acknowledge that the security plan drawn up by the ministerial political coordinator Brig. Amos Gilead has broken down over Egypt’s failure to police the border.

A similar lack of resolve in Jerusalem is letting the security situation on the Lebanese border deteriorate out of hand.

In these circumstances, the talks Israel’s infrastructure minister Binyamin Eliezer held with President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo Thursday, Oct. 19, could not be expected to do much good. The former defense minister was officially assigned with seeking Egyptian help to obtain the release of Gilead Shalit from Hamas’ hands and curb Palestinian arms smuggling through their territory to Gaza.

Once again, Israel’s policy-makers refused to look at the hard realities, the foremost of which is that the traffic across Egypt’s Gaza border has run out of control and that Mubarak has lost any clout he once had with the leaders of extremist Hamas, Jihad Islami, the Popular Resistance Committees and elements of Fatah-al Aqsa Brigades. The fate of Gilead Shalit is out of his hands.

Gaza is now ruled, according to senior IDF officers, by Hamas which has swallowed up most of the local Palestinian terror groups and a mixed bag of Syrian and Iranian military instructors, Hizballah officers and radical Palestinian gang chiefs who have joined al Qaeda.

Poll: Palestinians support Haniyeh – but want new elections

From Ynet, 19/10/06, by Ali Waked ...

Survey questioning over 1,000 Palestinian respondents finds some contradictory results: Most oppose stance of current government, but still think Haniyeh best-suited for role of prime minister. Also: Majority support meeting between Abbas, Olmert

Most Palestinians support early general elections, in hopes that a new government will rescue the Palestinian Authority from tits current political crisis, according to a survey held by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion , led by Nabil Kukali. The poll, which questioned 1,020 Palestinians, found that most were dissatisfied with the functioning of the current government and opposed its stances. However, a majority also supported Ismail Haniyeh’s continued service as prime minister.

Of those polled, 57.7 percent of respondents supported advancing elections, compared to 41 percent who opposed. This statistic may be encouraging to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas – and to Israel as well, and likewise the finding that 52.7 percent of Palestinians oppose their government’s rejection of the international and Quartet conditions that Hamas disarm, recognize Israel and respect all previously signed agreements. In comparison, 42 percent of respondents expressed support for the government’s stances.

Of the respondents, 61.4 percent said they supported a meeting between President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, compared to 38 percent who opposed.

What caused crisis?
Regarding United States influence, 33.5 testified that they believed American interference in Palestinian affairs was the cause of the current crisis. Twenty-seven percent believed the current crisis resulted from the positions of the Hamas government, while 14 percent believed Abbas’ weakness inspired the crisis.

Hamas will likely be displeased to discover that 65 percent of respondents support the dismantlement of the special Hamas security force established this year, compared to 32 percent who oppose its dismantlement. In addition, just 40 percent expressed satisfaction with PM Haniyeh’s performance, compared to 46 percent who were satisfied with Abbas’ performance.

However, one of the more interesting statistics revealed was the answer to the question: Who is most suitable for the position of prime minister? More than 30 percent voted for Haniyeh, leaving Fatah leaders far behind – Muhammad Dahlan received 10 percent support, Marwan Barghouti only seven percent, and Abbas a mere five percent support.

Like previous polls, the sometimes contradictory results of the current poll are evidence of the confused state of the Palestinian public in light of the current crisis. The Palestinians are not satisfied with the conduct of their government, however this disappointment does not mean they want Fatah to take up the leadership of the PA again.

The Hamas Network - The case for boycotting terrorist media.

From The Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, October 18, 2006, BY MARK DUBOWITZ AND JONATHAN SNOW [emphasis added]...

With its Al Manar television station launched in 1991, the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah has pioneered the use of mass media as a weapon. It uses the broadcaster to recruit suicide bombers, raise money for terrorist operations, conduct pre-attack surveillance and incite violence. This fall, the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas is poised to follow in Hezbollah's footsteps.

Until now, Hamas's Al Aqsa television has been broadcast only within the Gaza Strip. But this month it will begin satellite distribution via the Nilesat satellite, the Palestinian News Agency (Ramattan) reported in August. This would allow Hamas to spread its message of hatred across the Middle East, North Africa and most of Europe. Nilesat, owned by the Egyptian government, and Arabsat, majority-owned by the Saudi government, are the only two satellites still carrying Al Manar despite joint U.S.-European efforts to halt its broadcasts.

For a preview of things to come, it's worth looking into the Palestinian terror group's media operations at home. Like Hezbollah, Hamas uses its propaganda network to support terror activities, including recruiting suicide bombers, inculcating hatred, raising funds and providing direct operational support to terrorist operations.

Al Aqsa TV routinely broadcasts Hamas leaders calling for jihad, songs of incitement to murder, and videos of Hamas gunmen. Just like Hamas newspapers, magazines, and websites, Al Aqsa programs typically feature splashy stories glorifying the actions of "martyrs" and assurances that through their sacrifices the "Zionist Entity" will be destroyed.

Children are specifically targeted. Hamas produces radio and television shows and publishes an online magazine geared at preteens. A recent issue of the magazine opens with a cartoon of a smiling child riding a rocket while the previous issue glorified suicide bombers and other "martyrs" in cartoons and poetry.

Hamas websites have been used to raise money for terrorist activities, both explicitly and under the guise of "humanitarian" aid. There have been reports, citing Israeli intelligence, that Hamas field coordinators have used Voice of Al Aqsa radio broadcasts to provide terrorists with exact coordinates and trajectories to fire Qassam rockets at Israeli targets.

In short, there is no reason why the West should show more leniency toward Al Aqsa than toward Al Manar. While a few free speech activists have defended Hezbollah's television as a legitimate programmer, American and European governments have correctly identified it as a danger to free society. Washington designated Al Manar a terrorist organization, making it the first media outlet to be sanctioned under U.S. anti-terrorism laws. The European Union ruled that Al Manar contravened its broadcast laws and requested that European satellite providers stop carrying their programs. Private sector companies have taken action as well. Eight out of ten satellite providers have removed Al Manar from distribution and numerous multinational corporations have pulled more than $2 million in annual advertising from the station.

Similar steps can be taken to curb Hamas. The U.S. government should designate Al Aqsa TV as a terrorist organization. This would put strict limits on U.S. companies and banks from doing business with Al Aqsa. Multinational companies should refuse to advertise on Al Aqsa, denying it revenues that will ultimately go to support terrorist operations.

Finally, U.S. and European officials must put more pressure on the Egyptian government to deny Al Aqsa, as well as Al Manar, distribution over the Nilesat satellite. Egyptian officials cannot be interested in helping Hezbollah and Hamas radicalize their own citizens or the Arabic-speaking citizens of their European allies.

Given Al Manar's experience in the U.S. and Europe, Hamas may try to soften Al Aqsa's content to give it the veneer of a legitimate TV channel. However, policy makers and private sector executives must recognize a simple truth: Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of innocent civilians and until that changes, its television broadcasts will be used to further that goal.

A decade passed before the international community recognized the dangers posed by Hezbollah's Al Manar. Similar mistakes must not be made with Al Aqsa. Otherwise, in too many European and Middle Eastern homes, Hamas's hate TV could become the must-see fall programming for a new generation of terrorists.

Mr. Dubowitz leads the Coalition Against Terrorist Media, a project of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). Mr. Snow, who is writing a book on Hamas media, is manager of research for FDD.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Seventh Yahrzeit

Now, for a change, some personal thoughts, dedicated to the memory of my father Yisrael ben Zvy [Israel ("Srulec") Lieblich] (6th June 1924 – 30th September 1999)....

[For those unfamiliar with Yiddish or Hebrew expressions, there's a glossary below]

I look at the photograph of my father, which arrived this week by email from Austria. He is being attended by medics; a gaunt skeletal figure with a calmly determined face, being literally brought back to life from the brink of death. It’s a photograph he never saw, but which my sister discovered in the Mauthausen Museum 18 months ago; an image captured by US forces when they liberated that concentration camp near Hitler’s home town of Linz: that vicious place of “death by work”, the “mother” camp of human cruelty.

We observed Dad’s seventh Yahrzeit[1] this week. Until now, I’ve thought that his sudden death was just a “short while” ago. Now seven years have passed; no longer such a short while. We count seven days to Shabbat[2]; seven weeks from commemoration of the going out of Egypt[3] to that of the giving of the Torah[4]; seven years to the Shmitta[5] year, when land lies fallow and debts are extinguished. At each of these shevi’i[6] milestones, we forsake the physical and material, and we rely more heavily on the spiritual. We teach ourselves to be unselfish and remember the greater good.

Reb Loewy of Prague in Tiferet Yisrael, chapter forty describes the significance of the number seven. He points out that physical reality as we know it is defined by the number six. It’s the number of physical directions that we wave the four species[7]: front-right-back-left-up-down. On Hoshana Raba[8], the seventh day of Succoth[9] (and the day of Dad’s Yahrzeit) we focus on the seventh dimension, the centre-point, and the point of repose, the holy, and the spiritual. This seventh Yahrzeit seems to me like a very important milestone; a significant new stage in my life.

When Dad died, we lost his physical expressions of love and material support; we had to learn to nurture the memory of his love in our own hearts and to draw spiritual support from his neshama[10]. More than that, we were now called to nurture his neshama by continuing his life’s work, by adopting his mission. Now, seven years later, I feel this message even more strongly. So I ask myself: what is my responsibility? What is my mission?

I can draw so many lessons and so much inspiration from his 75 years of life. 15 years of happy Polish-shtetl childhood in a close-knit extended rural family, six adolescent, earthly years of unspeakable cruelty, horror and the loss of six million during the Holocaust, then 54 years of determined rebuilding initially in Europe, then Israel, then Perth….

I draw the greatest inspiration of all from his decision, immediately after being brought back from the brink of death at Mauthausen, to make Aliya[11]. After his liberation from Mathausen Concentration Camp, his primary motivation was to rebuild the family that Hitler had all but destroyed. But where was he to do this? Where was his “home”? Clearly the village where he grew up to witness his whole extended family cruelly destroyed, would not provide his safe haven. His Yiddishe folke[12] would … He needed to be part of a greater cause, to join with Klal Yisrael [13]in a national project, in order to create a home, to fulfil his own dreams for a new family, and to give meaning to his indestructible, iron will to survive.

He joined the Haganah[14], where he proudly served for seven years, 1947 -1955. It was only after he had started his new family that he realised that although Israel was a paradise compared to the Holocaust, the struggle for survival continued unabated. Israel was surrounded by enemies and life was hard. It was when he received a parcel from American friends, including vitamins for me, his new baby boy, that he determined to emigrate to Australia to join his surviving brother in the new world, where he would not have to rely on charity.

Here in Perth he built his family; two children and six grandchildren. His life was dedicated to us and to the family life he knew: Shabbat, yom-tovim[15], shul [16]…. and to the welfare of Israel.

And so what, now, is my mission? Clearly it is to continue to build the family. This is the primary mission.

But just as Dad recognised a greater cause, that would create the ultimate safe haven for this family: Zionism and the building of Eretz Yisrael[17]; so we can be inspired to a greater cause too: tikkun Olam[18] to create a better world in which the ethics of our fathers, and Eretz Yisrael, are loved and valued; to provide a safe haven for Klal Yisrael.

In a world where Israel’s right to exist is questioned by some, and the UN can’t even define terrorism, let alone defeat it, there is much work to be done. We may not complete the task, but we should not desist from it.

[1] Yahrzeit – the Jewish custom of annual commemoration of the death of a parent, sibling or child. The commemoration is in accordance with the lunar calendar, as is the determination of the Jewish festivals.
[2] Shabbat – the Sabbath.
[3] commemoration of the going out of Egypt – this is done by observing the festival of Pesach or the Passover.
[4] commemoration of the … the giving of the Torah - this is done by observing the festival of Shavuot (“weeks”) seven weeks after Passover.
[5] Shmitta – the sabbatical year (every seven years).
[6] Shevi'i – “seventh”
[7] wave the four species – during the festival of Succoth, Jews wave examples of four species (three types of twig and an Israeli citrus fruit) during prayer.
[8] Hoshana Raba - the seventh day of Succoth.
[9] Succoth – the feast of the Tabernacles.
[10] Neshama – spirit / soul
[11] Aliya – “going up”, refers to emigrating to Israel.
[12] Yiddishe folke – in Yiddish “Jewish folk”, refers specifically to the traditional eastern European Jewish culture.
[13] Klal Yisrael – refers to the Jewish world globally and all-inclusively.
[14] Haganah ­– “defence” refers to the Israel Defence Force, particularly at the time of independence.
[15] yom-tovim – Jewish festivals.
[16] Shul – the synagogue.
[17] Eretz Yisrael – the Land of Israel.
[18] tikkun Olam – “repairing the world”, refers to doing good deeds and making the world a better place for all.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The War of Fog

From Azure magazine, Autumn 5767 / 2006, No. 26, September 15, 2006 by DAVID HAZONY ...

....The conflict between Israel and Hezbollah of July and August is in desperate need of interpretation. Never has an Israeli war ended so ambiguously. In the interest of clearing the fog, we offer the following tally, one which may allow us to reach provisional conclusions without waiting for the results of commissions of inquiry, the state comptroller, or the next round of elections. We begin with the bad news, and then move on to the good-which, we suggest, ultimately wins out.

The bad news:
1.At the beginning of the campaign, Israeli leaders asserted, vocally and repeatedly, that the campaign would not end until all its objectives were achieved. To wit: (i) Israel would secure the release of the two kidnapped soldiers; (ii) Israel would expel Hezbollah from Lebanon (later, this promise was changed to “significantly disarm,” and then finally, to “move out of rocket range”); (iii) Israel would restore its military deterrent capability in the region, which has been substantially eroded over the last decade and more. Having roused among Israelis the conviction that the war would rightfully be Israel’s final confrontation with Hezbollah, the country’s leaders set them up for a grave disappointment: The terrorist army and its leadership were left unvanquished and none of the objectives declared so unequivocally at the beginning of the war were accomplished. The result has been a sense of having lost, of catastrophe reminiscent of the debacle of the opening days of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

2.The much-touted UN Security Council resolution 1701 has, just weeks later, proven about as effective as previous resolutions calling for Hezbollah’s disarmament: The new, improved unifil force will be another symbolic gesture, and there is no reason to believe that the Lebanese army will either disarm the terror group or enforce an arms embargo against it. Hezbollah is rearming and regrouping as we speak. In his landmark essay in Foreign Affairs in 1999, Edward N. Luttwak noted the following about such resolutions:
Cease-fires and armistices have frequently been imposed under the aegis of the Security Council in order to halt fighting…. But a cease-fire tends to arrest war-induced exhaustion and lets belligerents reconstitute and rearm their forces. It intensifies and prolongs the struggle once the cease-fire ends-and it does usually end.
As the war progressed, Israel was depleting Hezbollah’s store of weapons and fighters at a rate significantly higher than the reverse. By bringing the war to a premature pause, it seems unlikely that a long-term good will have been achieved. If anything, the next round will be longer and more brutal because of it.

3.By failing to achieve a swift, decisive victory, Israel revealed a series of deep flaws in its military. If reports are to be believed, these flaws ranged from the preparedness of commanders, regular soldiers, and reservists; to intelligence failures in underestimating the enemy’s capabilities in weaponry, intelligence, and tactics; to command-and-control problems resulting in scrambled supply lines and the failure to deliver timely intelligence to the field; to incompetence at the highest ranks of command. Because too few soldiers were sent in early on, and because of years of investment on the part of the enemy, this battle was a far fairer fight than most Israelis had thought possible. As Martin Kramer correctly observes in this issue, the surprising lack of potency in Israel’s military figures negatively into America’s calculation of Israel’s value as a strategic asset, encourages Israel’s enemies, and undermines the average Israeli’s faith in the military. (There is good news here as well: If we had to discover such problems, it is best that it happened sooner rather than later.)

4.The failure of will on the part of Israel’s leadership has engineered a profound political crisis for Israelis at a very bad time. We are, in many respects, still in the middle of a war-one that could resume of its own accord, or could be triggered by unilateral action against Iran. Israelis are hurting from the sense that a month of dislocation and destruction may have been in vain. It is not a good time for an election, yet Israelis’ faith in their leaders is in a nosedive. This is bad for democracy, for it risks making voters feel impotent and disaffected.

Now, the good news:
1.For all that has been said about the IDF’s failure, it is important to recognize the military blow sustained by Hezbollah, one which had no parallel on the Israeli side. This group has spent the last six years, and hundreds of millions of dollars in Iranian money, building its missile capability, its system of bunkers, and its weapons stores for a future war with Israel. In provoking Israel to a premature conflict, much of that investment has been erased, including the strategic threat of longer-range missiles, as well as hundreds of its best fighters. In the midst of an escalating nuclear confrontation with Tehran, Iran’s most effective means of fomenting crisis and disorder in the region has been substantively impaired. In the meantime, Hezbollah has brought untold harm to its Lebanese host, undercutting its support among the populace. This was borne out most vividly in the August 28 speech of the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, who very nearly apologized to the Lebanese population for the horror he had wrought; his claim that “had we known that the captive operation would result in such a war, we would not have carried it out at all” is remarkably uncharacteristic of an Arab leader claiming victory.

2.The war has laid bare the folly of unilateral withdrawal. The central policy upon which the ruling party ran during the last election was a continuation of the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, which was itself a continuation of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon six years ago. What has emerged from the current war is a sudden awareness among most Israelis that just as the earlier withdrawal may have inspired the Palestinian Intifada of September 2000, so too might the withdrawal from Gaza last year have led to both the rise of Hamas and the war with Hezbollah. Suddenly, the proposal to undertake a third withdrawal, from most of Judea and Samaria, has lost nearly all public support, and the government has wisely shelved it. Israelis have discovered a primary law of geopolitical struggle: Withdrawal is oftentimes exceptionally hard to distinguish from retreat, at least in the eyes of one’s enemy. Its foremost consequence is to embolden the enemy and to encourage further aggression. If the Palestinian war of September 2000 led Israelis to abandon the Oslo paradigm, according to which one may sate one’s enemy by giving him power and support until he “has too much to lose” in fighting you, the Lebanese war of 2006 has led to a similar abandonment of unilateralism, according to which one may quell one’s enemy by ceding strategic assets in a spirit of indifference.

3.The West as a whole, and Israel in particular, has emerged with a far clearer understanding of who, exactly, the enemy is. Iran’s establishment of Hezbollah as a proxy army-a well-oiled military specializing in guerilla tactics, rather than just another “terrorist organization”-has made clear that what we have here is not simply a collection of loosely affiliated groups filled with loathing for the U.S. and Israel. Rather, it is a situation much more reminiscent of the cold war, in which Iran, the regional power, attempts to conquer the West via Soviet-style proxies: Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Shi’ite insurgents in Iraq, to name a few. True, in every case the conflict emerged in its own context, sometimes without Iranian involvement. But today, all these groups seem to be taking orders, directly or indirectly, from Tehran. How long this has been the case is hard to say, but it seems that far more Westerners, including Europeans, understand this than ever before. This kind of clarity is the key to defeating the enemy, who uses conceptual ambiguity as a strategic weapon.

4.Beyond all this, however, the war revealed something of inestimable value: A resilience among Israelis that neither its friends nor its enemies counted on. While the Lebanese, along with the Arab world more broadly, reacted with uncertainty toward Hezbollah’s aggression, Israelis were unified to a remarkable degree. At the height of the conflict, poll after poll showed over ninety percent support for the government’s decision to launch the campaign and the war’s continuation. Day after day, Israeli television showed interviews with the most stricken citizens of the North, huddled in bomb shelters, calling upon the government to continue fighting until the enemy had been routed. And this overwhelming support continued until Israel held its fire.
This must have come as a shock to Israel’s enemies. It is a longstanding myth among Muslim radicals that Western democracies possess an inherent weakness: That their love of commerce and bourgeois pleasure will inevitably render them incapable of standing up for their own way of life; that the determination and purity of the jihad will defeat the morally flaccid, potbellied bobos of Brussels and Brookline. Yet time after time this belief is proven wrong. Even if democratic leaders sometimes show faintness of heart, democratic peoples are frequently willing to endure hardship, and to fight ferociously, to defend their freedom. This point was made definitively by Yagil Henkin, writing in our Spring issue, months before the war erupted:
If both political leaders and public opinion are convinced of the rightness and necessity of war, it is extremely difficult to withstand the wrath of a democratic country. The staying power of such countries does not depend on the damage they suffer in human lives and property. Their power lies in what defines their very existence-their belief in democratic values and their wish to protect them.
The determination of the Israeli public to lay aside decades of ideological turmoil-to forget the divisive pain of the Rabin assassination, the uprooting of the communities of Gaza, and the broken dreams of land and peace-and unite in defense of the Jewish state and its values against a deadly enemy was nothing short of breathtaking. And it withstood the hardship of war, the destruction of hundreds of homes, and the loss of life among our soldiers and citizens. This should serve as a lesson for all democratic countries, in a just struggle that is only getting started.

True, this war was not fought well. Negligence, inexperienced leadership, and unreasonable expectations caused Israel to squander an opportunity for positive change in the region. Yet as harsh as the surprises for Israel may have been, it is the Iranians and their allies who should be most concerned about how the war played out. Governments dissolve into the night, while the people they represent sometimes show shades of eternity.
For years now, it has been said that Israelis are a tired people-tired of ideologies, tired of fighting, and tired of dying for their country. It has been said, moreover, that the democratic nation state is a thing of the past, that the fight for liberty is a chimera, and that Zionism will be soon forgotten. For a few weeks this summer, our enemies made the mistake of believing it.

New J'lem Mufti endorses suicide bombers

From Ynet News, 17/10/06, by Yaniv Berman ...

New Grand Mufti of Jerusalem hints that Palestinians have right to resist occupation by any means

On October 15, The Media Line news agency conducted an exclusive interview with the newly appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Lands Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein. During the interview the mufti said he endorsed the phenomenon of the suicide bombers, as it was part of the Palestinian people's legitimate resistance....
To view video of interview click here >

...In 1993 the Palestinian Authority was established, and the grand mufti was appointed by the Palestinians' political leader, chairman Yassir Arafat. Arafat appointed Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, a charismatic cleric and a close associate. One thing was obvious from the start: Sabri did not believe Israel could be trusted as a partner for peace. He also expressed his belief that Israel had no claim to the Temple Mount and that Al-Aq'sa Mosque was endangered by Israeli aggression.....But when Mahmoud Abbas rose to power after Arafat's demise in 2004...the anti-Israel "political mufti" became a thorn in his side.

.....In July 2006 Abbas fired the charismatic Sabri. The official word from the chairman's office was that Sabri had reached retirement age. The truth, however, was far from it. The more Sabri gained popularity in the Palestinian street, the more he expressed his views on highly contentious political issues.
"The Islamic religion is a comprehensive religion, which comprises all aspects of life," Sabri said.... Sabri made no attempt to hide his opinions. So, he was sacked. With a Hamas government on the one hand and an angry US on the other, Abbas could not afford an inflammatory figure sitting in the highest religious post. He decided to appoint Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, manager and imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

.... For three months the new grand mufti followed Abbas' expectations. People who came to listen to him preach on Fridays in Al-Aqsa Mosque never heard him inciting against Israel. His fatwas (religious decrees) also avoided such controversial statements...... And then he made a surprising comment. "It is the Palestinian people's right to engage in resistance until the occupation ends. As long as the resistance is legitimate, everything related to it is also legitimate." Asked to express his view with regard to suicide bombing, the mufti answered: "It is legitimate, of course, as long as it plays a role in the resistance." The mufti made it clear that he wished to see peace in the region, but that to his dismay, the Israeli government and army were engaged in "clear and ongoing aggression against the Palestinian people."

Abbas will now have to decide how far he is willing to let the mufti proceed .....

Syria Is Stirring Up Lebanese Civil Strife, Stoking 3 Anti-Israel Warfronts

From DEBKA-Net-Weekly 272, Updated by DEBKAfile Special Military, Report October 16, 2006, 9:29 PM (GMT+02:00) [emphasis added]...

Expectations of an impending full-scale Israeli ground operation in the Gaza Strip were sent up a notch this week by the worrying news military intelligence AMAN chiefs put before the cabinet on Oct. 15. Maj.-Gen Amos Yadlin and head of AMAN’s research division Brig.-Gen Yossi Baidatz reported deepening Syrian involvement in aggressive moves on three fronts: Damascus is pushing Iranian arms for Hizballah into Lebanon in blatant violation of Security Council resolution 1701 (as first revealed by DEBKAfile on Oct. 4), the first Syrian military instructors have arrived in the Gaza Strip to impart Hizballah’s combat tactics to Hamas and the Syrian army remains on a high state of preparedness.

These moves against Israel represent only half of Syrian president Bashar Asad’s grand design; and the weapons streaming to Hizballah are a small part of the arms smuggled into Lebanon. The lion’s share is destined for six pro-Syrian factions in Lebanon in preparation for the forcible overthrow of Fouad Siniora’s anti-Syrian government in Beirut, should his adherents in Beirut, spearheaded by Hizballah and his Maronite Christian general Michel Aoun, fail to attain power by political machinations.

A major step aimed at inflaming the Lebanese-Israel border region was taken by the pro-Syrian Lebanese chief of staff General Michel Suleiman last Friday, Oct. 13. He authorized Lebanese officers and men deployed on the border to summon Hizballah forces to fight in any border clash. This order restored Hizballah to the flashpoint border zone just two months after it was supposedly evicted by the UN-brokered ceasefire of August 14. By getting Hizballah reinstated in its old frontline strongholds, Syria and Iran have put the finishing touches on one of the Lebanese front, one of their three war edifices against Israel after Gaza and Golan. These fronts are primed to squeeze Israel hard any time Iran comes under threat of military attack.

This encroaching multiple hazard catches the Israeli government and its armed forces without a remedy. The aftershocks of the Lebanon war are still not fully digested; neither are its mistakes admitted in Jerusalem.

UNIFIL too, which has committed to defer to the Lebanese government and army in all matters, now finds itself obliged to accept Hizballah’s inflammatory presence under Lebanese army sanction and therefore under its own aegis – another full-circle contradiction of the terms of Resolution 1701. Syrian-Iranian-Hizballah domination is therefore in the bag. So too is the armament of Syria’s primary helpers in Lebanon, which were first outlined in detail by DEBKA-Net-Weekly of 272 of Oct. 6, 2006:
1. The largest recipients are Syria’s veteran tried-and-true allies, led by the clandestine Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), which is now awash with anti-tank rockets, mortars, heavy machine guns, explosives, automatic rifles and crates full of shells and other ammo. Made up mostly of Greek Orthodox Christians, the sinister SSNP has been a key operational arm of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon since the 1980s. It is closely allied with Hizballah and various other terrorist organizations.
2. Other major recipients are the Sunni Muslim militias of the northern Lebanese Tripoli district, the Sunni and Christian militias of the al Hakur region northwest of Tripoli, and the Christian Faranjieh Clan of Zgharta, whose lands lie southeast of Tripoli.
3. Then there are the communities who oppose the anti-Syrian factions of Lebanon. One is the Druze following of Majid Arslan, rival of the extreme anti-Syrian Druze chieftain Walid Jumblatt, who not only resists Syrian influence in Lebanon but is daggers drawn against the Asad regime in Damascus.
4. Syria is also rapidly arming the Maronite Christians of Michel Aoun’s Patriotic Movement. Aoun has become the most powerful Lebanese ally of Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah and the leading Maronite opponent of Fouad Siniora and his pro-American, pro-French government. The irony is that in May 2005, the United States and France brought Aoun back from his long Paris exile as their candidate for the Lebanese presidency. Quite soon, they withdrew their patronage; he was left with the choice of quitting politics and Lebanon or transferring his allegiance to the pro-Syrian camp and Hizballah. He opted for the latter.
5. The Shiite Amal militia headed by the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, which in recent years was overshadowed by Hizballah, is now on the receiving end of weapons and training by Syrian and Iranian instructors disguised as civilians.
6. The south is a mix of rival forces. Syria has further stirred the stew by lavishing arms on the Sunni and Christian family militias, the enormously wealthy and powerful Saad and Bizari clans of Sidon, who are adversaries of the Hariri clan and its head, the son of Rafiq Hariri, the Lebanese politician assassinated in February 2005.

A senior Western intelligence source posted in Lebanon told DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources: “Even a cursory survey of the recipients of Syrian arms supplies shows us Bashar Asad scouting for candidates to fight another civil war in Lebanon on his behalf. The most insignificant splinter willing to rally to the pro-Syrian flag is getting a dollop of hardware.” Asad is clearly in a hurry to capitalize on the setbacks his enemies suffered in the Lebanon war to turn the clock back and restore his stranglehold on his small neighbor by one means or another. A civil flare-up might be headed off by the success of Nasrallah’s scheme to displace the Siniora government and substitute a pro-Syrian administration dominated by his own Hizballah and General Aoun.

Damascus would profit by -
A: An invitation to come riding back into Lebanon for a deeper and broader role than ever before.
B: The humiliation of the United States and France for booting Syria out of Lebanon two years ago.
C: The crowning of Hizballah – and therefore Iran – as victors of the Lebanon war with the last word in this episode.
D. Another knock to Israel’s standing and reputation.
E. The European peacekeepers would be sent packing without further ado by the pro-Syrian government in Beirut.

For the time being, it is hard to see Ehud Olmert, his ministers and chief of staff, whose performance in the Lebanon was sorely wanting, finding their way out of the thickets which have sprung up in its aftermath.

Italy to sell Lebanon sophisticated ground-to-air Aster 15 missiles to stop Israel’s aerial surveillance of hostile movements

From DEBKAfile Exclusive: October 17, 2006, 12:26 PM (GMT+02:00) ...

Israeli aircraft monitor illegal Hizballah movements and arms smuggling - in the absence of any Lebanese army and UNIFIL preventive action to implement UN Resolution 1701.

According to DEBKAfile’s Rome sources, prime minister Romano Prodi has instructed his defense ministry to negotiate with the Fouad Siniora government the quick sale of an Aster 15 battery, the only Western surface-to-air missile with an active guidance system capable of last-minute corrections of targeting at the moment of interception. As a joint Franco-Italian product, the sale also needed - and obtained - approval from French president Jacques Chirac.

Our sources report the Aster 15 will be accompanied by Italian instructors to guide Lebanese troops in their use. Since 50% of those officers are Shiites loyal to Hizballah or Amal, the Shiite terrorists are looking forward to gaining access for the first time to top-of-the-line Western anti-air missile technology.

On Oct. 13, Lebanese chief of staff General Michel Suleiman informed his officers posted on the Lebanese-Israeli border of the Beirut government’s “indefatigable efforts” to obtain anti-air missiles to hit patrolling Israeli aircraft. He added that very soon, Lebanon would also acquire long-range anti-tank rockets to prevent Israeli tanks again crossing the border.

Commanders of the French UNIFIL contingent have threatened to fire on Israeli warplanes in Lebanese skies, according to Israel defense minister Amir Peretz in a briefing to a Knesset panel Monday, Oct. 16.

Israel has so far refrained from protesting to Rome against the Aster 15 sale - any more than it has to Washington, the UN Security Council or UNIFIL over illegal Hizballah movements and arms-smuggling.

The Aster 15 is manufactured by France’s Aerospatiale and Thompson-CSF; its guidance system by the Alenia/Finmeccanica of Italy. .... In the hands of the Lebanese army (and its Hizballah component), the Aster 15 will directly jeopardize Israel’s aerial surveillance of Hizballah and other hostile movements in Lebanon....

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

We need the guts to say no to Rice

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Oct. 16, 2006, by ISI LEIBLER [emphasis added]...

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his successor Ehud Olmert justified unilateral disengagement on the grounds that we were obliged to take initiatives to break the impasse in the absence of a Palestinian peace partner. In order to implement this, 7,500 Israelis were uprooted from their homes and even now, a year later, most have yet to be permanently resettled. Subsequent events, climaxing with the Lebanon war, demonstrated the disastrous repercussions arising from this policy.

Today our enemies are emboldened. Some even believe their dream of destroying the Jewish state may now be realized. Yet worse is in the offing. Facing enormous pressure from allies whose support they seek for the impending confrontation with the Iranians, Washington - which had hitherto steadfastly endorsed our refusal to negotiate with terrorists - has tilted its policy to appear more "evenhanded." Once again it is urging us to bolster the "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority.

THE REALITY is that despite wearing a suit and tie and talking to Westerners like a moderate, Abbas is simply paying lip service to a two-state policy - with the caveat that it must incorporate the "right of return" of Arab refugees; a prescription for our demise.

More importantly, before Hamas won the election Abbas reigned over a regime whose central pillars - cultural, religious and educational - were based on sanctifying the murder of Jews as a supreme religious and national objective. Mothers of suicide bombers appeared on official PA TV exulting the martyrdom of their sons; PA broadcasts of sermons in mosques called on congregants to kill Jews; schools, kindergartens and summer camps brainwashed children into accepting suicide bombers as ultimate role models. While occasionally condemning violence in remarks to the Western media, Abbas hailed families of suicide bombers as heroes and personally authorized them to receive a $250 monthly stipend. A recent PA Ministry of Culture book of the month honored Hanadi Jaradat, the suicide bomber who blew up 21 people at a Haifa restaurant. Wafa Idris, the first woman suicide bomber, has become a Palestinian role model for feminism. Football teams are named after "martyrs." At least Hamas is honest about its evil intent to destroy Israel. But the reality is that Abbas's Fatah movement's armed wings are responsible for murdering far more Israelis than Hamas has.

TO MAKE matters worse, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is now actually urging Abbas to form a unity government with Hamas. The only obstacle is that Hamas insists on retaining its weapons and adamantly refuses - even insincerely - to express an incantation implying that it could ever accept the existence of the "Zionist entity." Rice had previously coerced Sharon and his defense minister Shaul Mofaz into handing over control of the Philadelphi route between Sinai and Gaza to the Egyptians. Not surprisingly, the Egyptians reneged on their undertakings and a massive flow of armaments and terrorists have been pouring into Gaza along that route.
Yet today the Americans are pressing Israel to ease security requirements at all checkpoints for "humanitarian reasons," in order to bolster Abbas.

Rice had previously insisted that Israel endorse the transfer of weapons to Palestinian security forces to strengthen the PA. Although reluctant, Olmert agreed to do so in May on the grounds that "we need to help Abu Mazen." Rice has announced that the US will also fund the expansion of the Abbas Presidential Guard from 2,500 to 6,000 troops. Nobody, including our own government, seemed concerned that since Oslo weapons provided to Palestinian security personnel had been used to murder Israelis. Nor has the government drawn attention to the fact that Abbas is still trying desperately to persuade Hamas killers to merge with the PA security, which already incorporates Fatah murderers.

ONE GAINS the impression that all the lessons of the Oslo disaster, including the pledge not to provide concessions without reciprocity, are being placed in cold storage. Like a sick parody, we are once again operating on the premise that the PA - even as Kassams rain down on the south - is once again going to become our peace partner. And, worst of all, our government is trying to spin this sad reversal into a victory!

All this, of course, raises the oft-quoted analogies to the pre-WWII appeasement. In fact, the current situation may be worse. In the 1930s, the Nazis had yet to demonstrate the full extent of their intent to implement mass murder. Today, however, the Islamic fundamentalists have already displayed a track record of murder and make no secret of their intentions. The Iranian threat to wipe Israel off the map with a nuclear weapon, now emboldened by North Korea, creates a scenario for the next potential Tisha Be'av. Israel may soon be pressured to assume the role of Czechoslovakia in 1935, which was sacrificed on the altar of appeasement to enable the cowardly Europeans to achieve an illusory peace with the Nazis. That betrayal gave birth to the Hitler of the Holocaust. Appeasing the Islamo-fascists now could also lead to untold consequences.

We have just ended a war in Lebanon which was ignited by the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah shortly after an earlier kidnap of a soldier by Hamas. All three soldiers still remain in captivity - yet we are being urged to negotiate with those seeking to form a coalition with all the kidnappers. According to reports, we have already conveyed a willingness to exchange 1,000 terrorists for one soldier; but Hamas rebuffed us.

We are currently being led by people who seem to have forsaken any vestige of common sense. Lacking the confidence of the nation they are incapable of resisting unreasonable demands from our American friends because, as lame ducks, they desperately need to cling to the coattails of the American administration.

IF REALPOLITIK obliges us to take steps that may weaken our security, we should at least do so under protest and inform our supporters of the dangers that such demands will impose on our future. By implicitly endorsing the nonsense being promoted about our moderate Palestinian "peace partners" we are paving the way for more demands and concessions that will undoubtedly cost us dearly in the future. At the very least, we should be launching information campaigns to expose the hypocrisy and deceit of our fraudulent peace partners and reminding the world that appeasement emboldens and encourages terrorists everywhere.

The writer chairs the Diaspora-Israel relations committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and is a veteran Jewish international

Monday, October 16, 2006

Police recommend Katsav rape charge

From October 16, 2006, from correspondents in Jerusalem ...

ISRAELI police told the attorney general overnight there was enough evidence to indict President Moshe Katsav on charges of rape, sexual harassment and wire-tapping, at the end of a weeks-long probe.

"There is sufficient evidence indicating that in several cases... the president carried out acts of rape, forced sexual acts, sexual acts without consent and sexual ...[and] indicating violation of the law banning wire-tapping by the president," the police statement said following a meeting between investigators, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz in Jerusalem.

During recent weeks, police had investigated no less than 10 complaints of rape and sexual harassment by former Katsav employees ....Police sources now say that an indictment could be filed in three or four of these cases.

The married Iranian-born 61-year-old father-of-five, who could yet be forced to resign, has denied the allegations and rejected calls that he step down pending the investigation....

Sanctions against North Korea are utterly inadequate

From The Australian Editorial, October 16, 2006 ...

THE UN Security Council vote to impose sanctions against North Korea in response to its boasted nuclear test last week merits applause. But it should be neither long nor loud. The UN has imposed weapons and financial sanctions against North Korea's nuclear program. They include a call for countries to enforce the sanctions by inspecting cargo being shipped to and from North Korea. But there is no talk of military action to enforce the new rule and China has said it will not examine North Korean cargo. That this pusillanimous policy is seen as a sign that the UN is determined to get tough with North Korea demonstrates how little the world has come to expect from the Security Council.

...China does not want the North Korean regime to collapse lest it send millions of refugees fleeing across its frontier. The South Koreans, working on the understandable assumption that the North may be mad enough to unleash armageddon and attack them, are never keen on confrontation. And Russia is happy to leave it to the Americans to take the heat, while sniping from the sidelines to ensure no easy achievements for the US. In terms of trying to stop North Korea building a bomb, and a missile to carry it, the job has been mainly left to the US.

... diplomacy does not work with the North Koreans.... the North Koreans have continued to up the ante, taking all the aid on offer while continuing to try to build a bomb, and a missile to deliver it.

There is no doubting that the diplomacy of containment has failed. But rather than blame the Americans.... it is time to hold the Security Council to account. The very existence of the North Korean regime is an affront to everything the UN is supposed to stand for. Millions are thought to have died in the last famine and malnutrition is a way of life. The country is ruled by hereditary dictator Kim Jong-il, one part buffoon to many parts Big Brother. And its export income depends on running drugs and counterfeit currency and selling weapons.

It is time for the permanent members of the Security Council to stop pussyfooting. Warships serving under UN auspices should now stop and search North Korean ships, and seize contraband. The whole world is watching for a sign that the UN can do more than talk. Especially Tehran, where another rogue regime with ambitions to build a bomb wants to learn what it can get away with.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Tehran Arms Hamas

From a DEBKAfile Special Military Report, October 13, 2006, 10:42 PM (GMT+02:00) ...

The military pacts Palestinian Hamas interior minister Said Siyam signed with his Iranian counterpart Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi in Tehran on Oct. 12 are designed to transform Hamas’ military wing, the Ezz e-Din al Qassam, into a crack operational arm of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and Gaza into a second Lebanon.

...DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report Tehran has committed to training Hamas’ rapid deployment force of 6,500 men in Hizballah combat tactics, with the accent on missiles, especially the anti-tank variety which were used with devastating effect against Israeli tanks in the Lebanon War. The force will be sent over in batches for six-week courses at Revolutionary Guards installations in southern Iran.

Iran will foot the $60 million bill for the training as well as for the top-notch weaponry.
The Hamas military delegation flew from Cairo to Dubai and on to Tehran. Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and intelligence chief, Gen. Omar Suleiman, were apprised of the Hamas leaders’ trip and the military accords they were to sign, but did nothing to detain the travelers.
This was taken by Hamas and the Iranian government as signaling Cairo’s assent to the Hamas-Iranian transaction, a green light for the trips through Egypt of trainee groups to and from Iran and a continuing blind eye to the delivery of Iranian armaments via Egypt to Gaza.

Egypt is thus assuming the same role In relation to Tehran and its terrorist proxies as does Syria, which places its airfields at Iran’s disposal for delivering arms to Hizballah.

The accords merely formalize Tehran’s massive arming of Hamas which is already in progress. Smuggling tunnels from Egyptian Sinai under the Philadelphi border strip are the conduits into S. Gaza for supplies of long-range anti-tank missiles, Grad rockets and some two tons of TNT every month. Israeli forces have been battling the Hamas and its supply routes for the last three days.

According to our intelligence and Iranian sources, the pacts that were signed were compiled in September down to the last detail by three Revolutionary Guards generals stationed in Syria since the Lebanon war, as Hizballah’s forward command, and the Damascus-based Hamas politburo head, Khaled Meshaal. Hamas’ military wing is accordingly undergoing a process that within months will transform the Palestinian terrorist group into one of Tehran’s overseas operational military arms, the second after Hizballah in Lebanon. This will enable the Islamic Republic to ignite two simultaneous wars against Israel – from Gaza in the south and from Lebanon in the north.

This development is the direct consequence of this summer’s Lebanon War. It was made possible by Israel’s evacuation of the Gaza Strip in September 2005.

The Gaza maneuver shows Iran’s rulers striking with speed, efficiency and ruthlessness in their determination to isolate the Jewish state and draw a military noose around its borders.
Instead of resistance, they encounter inertia on the part of Israel’s political and military leaders. Prime minister Ehud Olmert has eyes for nothing but broadening the base of his government coalition. He has offered to create for Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the (Russian immigrant) party Israel Beitenu, the new post of Deputy Prime minister for Strategic Threats. Defense minister Amir Peretz thinks it is more important to prepare the armed forces for the evacuation of unauthorized West Bank settlements than for the next war. By the time they find a moment from these preoccupations, they will find Iran, Syria and Hamas have perfected a real strategic threat. By then it will be too late to repel except by a major campaign to recapture the Gaza Strip and crush the Hizballah-style force threatening southern Israel.

This campaign may be even tougher than the Lebanon war because it will have to be fought mainly in densely built-up areas against a staggering volume of war materiel. But Tehran will win the chance of repeating its successful ruse of July and August, 2006: Whenever the UN Security Council comes close to a sanctions debate, an Iranian surrogate is sent into action to start a new Middle East war. Now, the Iranians have bought themselves the option of a double-barreled offensive from two of Israel’s borders.