Saturday, November 11, 2006

Israeli Arabs want the "peace" of "dead Jews"

From Ynet news 11/11/06 ...

Some 2,000 Arab Israelis [including several Arab Members of the Knesset] held a march in Nazareth on Friday to protest the killing of 19 Palestinians by Israeli army artillery fire on Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday. The head of the Islamic Movement Northern Branch, Sheikh Raed Salah, said that "Beit Hanoun will be Lieberman's cemetery."

... "There were here, in our land, many Liebermans. Thousands. But today we are walking on them and that will also be his fate. We will walk on him, and so will our children," Salah said.

...Salah's deputy, Sheikh Kamal Khatib, asked the protesters to lower the flags of various Arab Israeli parliament factions and to hoist the Palestinian flag as a sign of unity with the Palestinians.

Ahmad Sleiman, a member of the community party in Nazareth, said the march was a gesture of solidarity with the pain of the Palestinian people. "We carry a message for the government that there is no solution but peace. There will be calm when peace reigns over the whole region," he said....

Survivor passes down Holocaust photo album

From The Miami Herald, Mon, Nov. 06, 2006, BY ELINOR J. BRECHER [thanks Jakob, for drawing this to our attention]...

A unique Holocaust photo album that a Miami waitress safeguarded for decades is on display this week at the University of Miami.

As a child, Esther Kramer sometimes awoke to shrieks in the night, and she knew that her mother had brought home another stranger. She knew that the stranger had looked at her mother's photo album, perhaps spotting a familiar face.

Esther Zelmanovic Kramer, 59, lives in Palmetto Bay. Her mother, Lilly Jacob Zelmanovic, was a Hungarian Auschwitz survivor who settled in South Florida after World War II and waited tables -- first at South Beach hotels, then for 28 years at The Famous, a landmark Miami Beach eatery. All that time, she sheltered a priceless Holocaust artifact: an album containing photos that a Nazi soldier shot on a single day in the spring of 1944 at the Auschwitz death camp.

...Scores of black-and-white photos follow 3,500 Jews along the path that 1.6 million doomed prisoners trudged -- from the railroad siding where they tumbled out of boxcars to the doors of the crematoriums.

...The young Lilly Jacob found the album at Mittelbau-Dora-Nordhausen, a German concentration camp, 400 miles from Auschwitz, that American soldiers liberated on April 12, 1945. The first photo she saw: the rabbi who married her parents, Esther and Mordechai Jacob. Then two of her five brothers, one of her grandfathers and herself, shaved bald.....

...Esther Kramer remembers her mother often saying of the album: "One day this will be yours to carry on.'' It felt like an unwanted burden. ''As a child, it represented so much hurt to me,'' said Kramer. "I grew up so different from my friends: no grandparents, aunts, uncles. The book represented everything I didn't have. So [donating it to Yad Vashem] was the best thing. It'll be preserved forever as opposed to being a legacy for me to propagate.''

Follow this link to read the full article including Esther's story and follow this link to see a Miami Herald slideshow sample of some of the photos.

'I prefer fewer declarations and more deeds'

This important interview with the new Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, THE JERUSALEM POST, Nov. 10, 2006, by GIL HOFFMAN and SHEERA CLAIRE FRENKEL is posted here in full...

Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh remembers the 1974 incident in the Sinai desert, where a 22-year-old IDF captain named Amir Peretz was caught between two Israeli armored personnel carriers that smashed his legs and severely injured him. Sneh was the paratrooper brigade's medical officer at the time of the incident that ended Peretz's military career and forced him to begin a lengthy process of rehabilitation in a military hospital.

More than three decades later, Sneh has been brought in as a remedy to help Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who was left without a leg to stand on following perceived failures in the IDF's performance in the second Lebanon War. At stake for Peretz is the rehabilitation of his political career. At stake for the country is its ability to recover from the war and prepare for the next one.

Until two weeks ago, when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to appoint Sneh to compensate Peretz for the addition of Israel Beiteinu to the coalition, the government lacked a military authority in any decision-making capacity at the political level. Decisions were made by "Captain" Peretz and "Sergeant" Olmert, while former generals like Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz were left out of the loop. (While Mofaz and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer are former generals who serve in the security cabinet, this forum of 13 ministers has long ago stopped making secret operational decisions.) The addition to the cabinet of Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who only reached the rank of corporal, did not add significant military experience to the inner circle.

That's why Sneh's appointment was so significant. He twice ran the Defense Ministry as deputy defense minister, once under Yitzhak Rabin and then under Ehud Barak, two former IDF chiefs of general staff, who served simultaneously as prime minister and defense minister. Before that, the brigadier-general headed the civil administration in the West Bank, commanded the South Lebanon security zone and led the medical teams in the 1976 Entebbe rescue operation.

This experience should come in handy with threats looming from what Sneh describes as the "quartet of evil": Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas. He already made his presence felt this week in deliberations following the apparently errant IDF shelling on Beit Hanun [which resulted in the deaths of 19 civilians].

Sneh will likely do the same with big decisions ahead regarding how Israel reacts to Iran's attempt to become a nuclear power. In an interview at his office in the Knesset, he said that Israel must act under the assumption that significant international sanctions against Iran would not work, and prepare to prevent the nuclearization of Iran "at all costs."

"Israel needs to substantially improve its indigenous long-range capacities," Sneh said. "I am not advocating an Israeli preemptive military action against Iran; I am aware of all its possible repercussions. I consider it a last resort. But even the last resort is sometimes the only resort."

How do you explain what happened in Beit Hanun on Wednesday?
The disadvantage of artillery of that sort is its lack of accuracy. I don't have the inquiry results, but it happens that a shell deviates from its course. We prefer to use precise ammunition when possible. But sometimes when you have to cover a broad area to prevent rocket fire, you use artillery and this can happen. It's most probably our mistake, and I am sincerely sad about it.

We have already heard the media in Gaza calling this incident the "Palestinian Kana massacre." Do you think Israel will be able to defend itself against this charge?
Such accusations don't make the suffering any easier, and they won't prevent future tragedies. There is a difference between military and moral responsibility. From the military point of view, we are responsible, and with all the sorrow, we have to admit it. But the moral responsibility is entirely on Hamas and Islamic Jihad, because we left the Gaza Strip completely, not leaving behind a single soldier. They turned Gaza, especially Beit Hanun, into a launching pad for rockets on our civilians, kibbutzim and Ashkelon, while cynically using their civilian population as a human shield for their terrorist activity. They cannot evade responsibility for this.
It appears that the world is already assigning responsibility to Israel (pointing to CNN on the television next to him). Olmert and Peretz's apologies are sincere. They offered humanitarian aid. Before the final results of our inquiry, all we can do is say we feel bad about the incident. We are genuinely trying to do something to help the victims. We are not indifferent, but we don't bear moral responsibility. They need to ask why they continue firing rockets after we left Gaza. The reason is that they are serving interests not of the Palestinian people, but interests abroad, especially of Iran. They serve goals that do not fit with Palestinian interests.

What will be your role be in the Defense Ministry?
I will be in charge of the Home Front Command and of preparing reservists. I will also be involved in the territories.

When The Jerusalem Post asked you, six months ago, what Peretz would do in the Defense Ministry, you said realignment and evacuation of the illegal outposts were the top priorities. In the wake of the second war in Lebanon, those priorities have been shifted. What are your priorities now?
We need to define the national goals of Israel, which should be: A. Preparing the IDF for victory in the next round with Iran and its proxies. B. Promoting an agreement with the Palestinians as quickly as possible. C. Reviving the Israeli welfare state. During the war, the government abandoned poor Israelis. When I walked through shelters in Acre, I saw the Israeli New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. We need to revive the concept of the government's being responsible for the people.

What should be done instead of realignment?
The coalition guidelines didn't say 'realignment.' They just called for serious efforts to negotiate with the Palestinians. We didn't even start trying.

You have always had a very close relationship with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Are you still in contact with him?
I speak to Abu Mazen more than any other Israeli. I speak to other Palestinians, too. I feel there is a majority among Palestinians who support the ideas Abu Mazen advocates. This is not because of his good will, but because most Palestinians understand that Hamas does not give them a future - only agony. Hamas didn't bring any good to the Palestinians, and it shows. There is no chance for Palestinian society to take off economically without tight cooperation with the Israeli economy. We should take advantage of this. The real rift in the region is between the quartet of evil - Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas - and all the rest. There is a strong axis of moderate countries: Egypt, Jordan, the Saudis, the Emirates. They are all against Islamic extremism. They consider the Hamas government a dangerous presence for themselves. It's good for Israel to join with these countries that are all afraid of Iran. They hear [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad talk about wiping out Israel, and they know they are next in line. Ahmadinejad won't tolerate the prosperity of Dubai or other Gulf countries. So the region now is full of dangers and opportunities. We need a very creative policy to forestall the dangers and take advantage of the opportunities - and this is what the government has to do.

Last week, Peretz told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministry that it was important for Israel to keep the crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel open. Are you working toward that?
Before the airport and seaport, we have to open the crossings. We are working on all of them in the Gaza Strip, and in the meantime, we are also working on crossings between Israel and the West Bank.

What about the so-called "Hizbullization" of Gaza that IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz has warned of?
The way to stop this is militarily, but not only. With military means alone, we cannot change the reality in Gaza. No country on earth would tolerate shelling and weapons on its doorstep. We have to take measures to intercept the smuggling of weapons in the Philadelphi Corridor, or before the final destination - as in Beit Hanun. What should be changed is the economic and political reality in Gaza. The dominance of Hamas in Gaza is due to the poor conditions in Gaza. Hamas thrives in an atmosphere of hunger and despair, and we should change it by improving conditions in Gaza. It's in our interest to change it. We need responsible forces to be in charge of the crossings, and that's what the American Dayton plan is about: security and economy. We will do our best as a defense ministry to assist the implementation of the plan. There have been many plans: Mitchell, Zini, Tenet, etc. But I genuinely believe that General Dayton's plan is the first that will be implemented.

How can Israel stop the Kassam attacks on Sderot?
The rockets can be stopped by tracing and hitting them from the air. Nothing in this business is 100% effective. We hit the places where they are hidden. We identify the squads that fire them. In Beit Hanun, for example, we hit nine squads that fired rockets. But there are others we didn't hit.

What about the development of longer-range missiles in the Gaza Strip?
They are constantly trying to extend the range. There is no instant success in anti-terrorist warfare, no miracle weapon and no easy victory.

What lessons has the army learned from the recent war in Lebanon?
Not to allow the enemy to stockpile weapons and missiles that will be used against us. You don't have to be a general to understand that.

How will you use your military experience to compensate for Peretz's relative lack of it? Didn't he spend most of his army service in a military hospital, after all?
He was an officer before the incident in the Sinai in 1974, when two armored personnel carriers smashed his legs, and he was badly hurt. I participate in deliberations with the defense minister. I think my humble advice will be listened to and will make a difference. I am a partner in decisions. Some domains are under my authority, and I will do my best.

What should be done to prevent the nuclearization of Iran?
I will divide my answer into different layers. I still hope the international community will take effective sanctions against Iran, though the chances are not high. We should explain to the [western] nations that they are the next targets on Ahmedinejad's list, and the dangers he poses to western democracies cannot be ignored. My working assumption is that they won't succeed. Then I have to think about what the Jewish state can do about the danger. The danger isn't as much Ahmadinejad's deciding to launch an attack, but Israel's living under a dark cloud of fear from a leader committed to its destruction. He is inspired by a mystical Islamic belief. He thinks he will bring the Muslim messiah, the 12th Imam. I am afraid that under such a threat, most Israelis would prefer not to live here; most Jews would prefer not to come here with their families; and Israelis who can live abroad will. People are not enthusiastic about being scorched. I am afraid Ahmadinejad will be able to kill the Zionist dream without pushing a button. That's why we must prevent this regime from obtaining nuclear capability at all costs.

How do we do that?
First of all, by improving our defense systems. We developed and produced the Arrow, the only system that can intercept nuclear missiles. Depending on the altitude, when intercepted, the warheads do not detonate. But Israel needs to substantially improve its indigenous long-range capacities. This is a system against ballistic missiles and not the cheap, stupid rockets that cause all the problems in Sderot. To target those rockets, Peretz asked Defense Minister Director-General Gabi Ashkenazi to submit to him recommendations among four existing anti-missile systems that could be developed and produced. He will submit his recommendations quite soon. I am not advocating an Israeli preemptive military action against Iran, and I am aware of all of its possible repercussions. I consider it a last resort. But even the last resort is sometimes the only resort.

What about the warnings from people who have said that Iran learned from Iraq's mistake 25 years ago, and instead of one reactor, it has 80?
I will not discuss such operational issues in public. I didn't as an MK, and I won't now. I have said the maximum I can say. On the Iranian threat, I prefer fewer declarations and more deeds.
Even if you can't say what Israel would do, can you at least say that you know what Israel should do?
The worst Israeli words are yihiye beseder [everything will be ok]. My mentor, [Yitzhak] Rabin was against this culture of saying that. It's against my character to say, "yihiyeh beseder."
In the 2007 state budget, money should be allocated to prepare the IDF for unquestionable victory in the next round and to improve our indigenous long-range capacities. What's there now is not enough.

Going back to the "quartet of evil" you mentioned. Syria is part of that group, but Peretz has suggested that Israel should engage in dialogue with the Syrian government. Do you agree with him?
What we want to do is detach [Syrian President Bashar] Assad from the axis of evil. I am sure that we have to test his words, but there is an unbridgeable gap between our position and his. The Syrians want the real-estate assets, and then they will behave themselves. We want them to behave now, and then we can discuss real estate in the future. The first Syrian confidence-building measures should be stopping the stockpiling of Hizbullah weapons, kicking out [Hamas leader Khaled] Mashal and sealing the border with Iran. Then, perhaps, Assad can receive the positive treatment that is now being given to [Libyan dictator Muammar] Gaddafi.

What do you think will be the impact of this week's US election on Israel?
Fortunately, friendship with Israel is a bipartisan issue in the US. I am sure the House and Senate know what is good for America, and they don't need my advice.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Israel Foreign Ministry Statements on Beit Hanoun

Beit Hanoun: Statement by FM Livni, Nov 7, 2006, communicated by the Foreign Minister's Bureau ...

Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni made the following statement at the beginning of her meeting today (November 8) with her Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Stoere:

"Israel left Gaza in order to give the Palestinians an opportunity to control terrorism and develop their own lives. Unfortunately, this has not happened. Israel is faced with constant attack by the Palestinian terror organizations, in the form of relentless firing of Kassam rockets at Israeli population centers. Israel has no desire to harm innocent people, but only to defend its citizens. Unfortunately, in the course of battle, regrettable incidents such as that which occurred this morning do happen. Israeli diplomatic missions throughout the world have been instructed to explain the Israeli position to decision-makers and the media."


IDF Spokesman: Initial reaction to Palestinian claims of civilian casualties in Beit Hanoun, Nov 8, 2006 ...

In an effort to disrupt and prevent the firing of rockets at Israeli population centers, the IDF this morning (Nov 8) carried out preventative artillery fire at the launching sites of the Kassam rockets. The fire was directed at the area from which Kassam rockets were fired yesterday at Ashkelon, in order to disrupt attempts to resume fire.

Following reports of Palestinian civilian casualties, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz ordered a halt to artillery fire in the Gaza Strip pending investigation.

Preliminary findings indicates that the site in question is far removed from the area towards which the artillery fire was directed. Representatives of the IDF Southern Command and the Chief Artillery Officer are in the field investigating the incident.

The IDF activity targets terrorist organizations and infrastructure only, and not Palestinian civilian targets, while the terror organizations deliberately target Israeli civilians.

The IDF expresses regret at any harm to uninvolved civilians, but stresses that the responsibility for this rests with the terror organizations, which use the Palestinian civilian population as a "human shield", carrying out terror attacks and firing Kassam rockets at Israeli population centers, under cover of the Palestinian population.

Again, the above information is preliminary, and the incident is being investigated.

Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Gaza

For those who want more than sound-bites and hysteria, read this summary of news reports on the Kassam barrage from Gaza and the IDF "Operation Autumn Clouds" .

From Arutz Sheva, 19:00 Nov 08, '06 / 17 Cheshvan 5767, by Ezra HaLevi ...

Rocket Hits Ashkelon For Second Day...

Kassam rockets were launched from Gaza throughout the day Wednesday, striking the western Negev and the city of Ashkelon for the second day straight.

One of the rockets landed near a children’s dormitory in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, others in open areas and two in Ashkelon.

In Ashkelon, one of the rockets struck the beach and another landed in a residential area near where one of the rockets struck the city Tuesday. Four Kassams fired from areas the IDF had just pulled out of struck the Ashkelon region Tuesday – one landing near a school, the other on a residential street and two near the city’s industrial zone, which is home to a major power station and chemical plants.

No injuries resulted from Wednesday’s attacks, though one woman went into cardiac arrest when a rocket landed in the center of Sderot Wednesday morning. Other rockets caused extensive damage and fires.

All PA Factions Call For Attack on Israeli Civilians
Both Hamas and Fatah, considered to be more moderate by the international community, issued explicit calls for attacks within Israel’s pre-1967 border targeting civilians Wednesday. The calls came on the heels of claims of an Israeli massacre in Gaza after eighteen Arabs were killed. The IDF is still investigating the incident, which may have been caused by a stray artillery shell. [See below for preliminary findings.]

Fatah’s northern Gaza commander Jamal Abed called for "cross-border attacks against Israel" Wednesday afternoon. He called upon the PLO’s Al-Aqsa Brigades militia to murder Israeli civilians in response to the Beit Hanoun incident. "I call on all the armed groups everywhere to avenge the blood of the dead with suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, as Israel murders Palestinians," he said. Islamic Jihad leader Sheikh Nafez Azzam called upon members of his terror group to carry out attacks on Israeli civilians as well.Hamas Chief Khaled Mashaal said that suicide bombings in Israel would resume immediately. The group’s spokesman Ghazi Hamad echoed the words of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying that Israel “must be wiped off the face of the earth. This is not a country of humans. These are animals and a bunch of gangs, and this nation must be wiped off the face of the earth.”....

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Nov. 8, 2006, by josh brannon ...

IDF fire kills 20 Palestinians in Gaza

At least 20 Palestinians - 18 members of one family - were killed early Wednesday morning by IDF fire.

....Television footage broadcast live images of hysterical relatives and neighbors weeping as medics treated several women and children wounded in the barrage. Gaping holes were torn into several buildings, owned by four brothers from the Athamna family who lived alongside each other, and large pool of blood collected in front of the houses.

....The tragedy came one day after IDF troops withdrew from Beit Hanoun after a weeklong sweep meant to curb Kassam attacks on Israeli communities from the area. More than 50 Palestinians, mainly armed combatants were killed in that operation.

Soon after the artillery attack, Defense Minister Amir Peretz ordered a halt to the use of artillery against targets inside the Gaza Strip, and promised a speedy investigation of the tragedy.

...OC Southern Command Yoav Galant said at press briefing Wednesday evening that the artillery barrage was ordered as a preventive action against an imminent Kassam missile attack on a major port city in the South, and for reasons unknown, three shells - not 12 as reported by the Palestinians - strayed 500 meters from their intended target.

Galant told Channel 2 that after receiving intelligence of an imminent rocket attack in the same area from which a 4 rocket salvo of Kassams was launched into Ashkelon Tuesday evening, officers ordered two artillery batteries to volleys of twelve shells a piece at two targets at a distance 1200 meters and 500 meters from the populated areas.

All 14 shells launched from one cannon hit the target at 1200 meters, but the artillery teams only identified nine hits on the area at 500 meters. The three other shells inexplicably smashed into the residential area.

While he stressed that the investigation was still in its initial stages, he said early indications seem to point to a problem with one of the cannon's aiming mechanism. A senior security official said preliminary findings said the accident was caused by a technical flaw, rather than human error.

Galant also noted that there was as of yet no absolute confirmation that all the civilians were killed by IDF shells, and he appealed that final conclusions not be drawn until the investigation is finished.

IDF spokesperson Major Avital Leibovich said the military expressed regret for any civilians hurt in an Israeli operation, but said ultimately the fault lies with the terrorist organizations "which use the civilian population as human shields and continue to carry out terror attacks and to launch Kassam rockets from the shelter of populated areas."

Government spokeswoman Miri Eisen said the IDF offensive in Gaza will continue despite the deadly incident "as long as Kassam rockets land in Israel, as long as the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip continues, as long as the Hamas government chooses for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to continuously provoke Israel." ....

Jpost staff and AP contributed to this report.

From Arutz Sheva Daily News, 8/11/06, by Hillel Fendel ...

IDF: No Certainty that IDF Shell Caused Gaza Explosion

Preliminary IDF investigation of the Gaza explosion shows that 10 of the 12 fired shells hit their targets, a half-km from the building. The other two are still being sought.

...IDF sources said that IDF batteries fired 12 mortar shells this morning at two targets: One was a site from where Kassam rockets were fired at Ashkelon yesterday (Tuesday), and the other was where terrorists were preparing to launch additional Kassams. However, it is not clear whether one of the shells hit the residential building in which the civilians found their deaths.

It is IDF policy to inform residents well in advance of attacks on buildings used to store weapons and explosives.

Abu Mazen, head of the Palestinian Authority, said that Israel has "destroyed all chances of peace," while Hamas called off talks for a unity government with Fatah in the PA. The European Union announced, "Israel has the right to defend herself, but not at the expense of innocent people."

Terror Threats
From Gaza, threats of terrorist retaliation and suicide attacks have been heard, and police have moved to the second-highest level of alert.

"We urge our mujahedeen [fighters] everywhere to resume martyr operations [suicide attacks] in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Jaffa and everywhere else," Hamas Nizar Rayan of Fatah shouted into loudspeakers during protests in northern Gaza. Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad said, "Israel should be wiped from the face of the Earth. It is a cancer that should be eradicated."

The IDF retaliation in Gaza followed a barrage of Kassam rockets which hit Ashkelon, Israel's 13th-largest city, yesterday, and barrages that have hit Sderot over the past several months. One of yesterday's rocket struck a school in Ashkelon, and two more slammed into the city's industrial zone. Two other rockets landed outside the city - one near Netiv HaAsarah, and the second in an open area.

Foreign Minister Tzippy Livny said, "Israel has no intention of hurting innocent civilians, but rather to protect its own citizens. Unfortunately, in war, sad incidents such as the one this morning sometimes occur. Israel faces an incessant barrage by terrorist organizations that fire Kassam rockets continuously at population centers in Israel."

MK Tzvi Hende (National Union) decried what he called the "hypocritical ethics of our enemies from within and without in condemning us when one of our shells misses, when the other side directs its missiles into our cities and only accidentally fails to murder anyone... I am convinced that our leadership is not totally insane, and that all the protestations and crying won't move anyone for more than an hour-or-two long show for the media - because the danger is very real."

MK Yuval Shteinitz (Likud), a former Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said this morning, "With all the sorrow about the deaths of civilians, the responsibility for this tragedy lies squarely and fully on the shoulders of the terrorists, who use the citizens of Beit Hanoun as a human shield while they shoot at the city of Sderot."

"International law states clearly," Shteinitz added, "that the responsibility for harm to civilians is upon those who use them as human shields, and not upon those who fight [the terrorists]."

The IDF spokesman explained that this morning's artillery fire into Beit Hanoun was aimed at the launching grounds of the rockets, to prevent further fire on Israeli civilians. Close to 10 Kassam rockets have been fired at Sderot and other Israeli areas on nearly each day of the past two weeks.

....Following the IDF artillery fire this morning, three more Kassam rockets were launched from southern Gaza, hitting a commercial center in Sderot. Six people were reported hurt and taken to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, and damage was caused. The residents of Sderot have been suffering with daily "Red Dawn" warning alert alarms for months - alarms that are followed seconds later by a screeching whoosh and the seemingly-interminable wait to find out if one's house had been hit. Many families report significant psychological difficulties among their children, and some have been forced to move out of the area.

The IDF ended Operation Autumn Clouds yesterday. The week-long offensive in northern Gaza was aimed at reducing the number of Kassam attacks against southern Israeli communities.

From Debkafile, November 8, 2006, 11:15 PM (GMT+02:00) ....

Israeli police imposes nationwide high terror alert after Hamas’ Khaled Meshaal orders “deeds not words” in response to Beit Hanoun deaths

The “hudna” (informal truce) ended at the end of 2005, “said the hardline Hamas leader in Damascus. “The armed struggle is free to resume, as dictated by local conditions.” Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh said suicide attacks would resume and Palestinian unity talks suspended.

OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Gallant: The artillery salvo which killed 20 Palestinian civilians in Beit Hanoun Wednesday followed an intelligence report that Palestinian missile launchers were on the point of attacking Ashkelon for the second day in a row. Gaza’s Palestinians kept up their daily Qassam attacks on Israeli civilian locations Wednesday. One of the day’s 10 missiles landed near a children’s home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza. Another exploded near a bank in central Sderot....

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Centuries of support for Jewish Restoration to Israel

Doron draws our attention to this excellent article from Mideast Web, posted 2003, by Ami Isseroff. A brief citation is posted below. Follow the link for the full, excellent article complete with bibliography ...

The Balfour declaration, offering Palestine to the Jews... reflected a deep-seated philosophical and religious movement for restoration of the Jews that had become rooted in British culture ....

.... The pagan Roman Emperor Julian began the project of restoring the Jews to Jerusalem and rebuilding the temple. He fell in battle before the project could be completed ...

....In 1621, the British MP Sir Henry Finch ... encouraged Jews to reassert their claim to the Holy Land, writing, "Out of all the places of thy dispersion, East, West, North and South, His purpose is to bring thee home again and to marry thee to Himself by faith for evermore." ...

... In 1799, Napoleon issued a proclamation promising to restore Palestine to the Jews, as he was camped outside Acre.

... the idea had been planted and took root in British soil. ...prominent Britons learned Hebrew, wrote novels about restoration of the Jewish commonwealth, began settlement and exploration societies and advocated restoration of the Jews in public and in private. Among the advocates we may include Lord Lindsay, Lord Shaftesbury Lord Palmerston, Disraeli, Lord Manchester, George Eliot, Holman Hunt, Sir Charles Warren, Hall Caine and others. Shaftesebury was probably responsible for the phrase "A country without a nation for a nation without a country," later to become the Zionist slogan "A land without a people for a people without a land." He asserted, " There is unbroken identity of Jewish race and Jewish mind down to our times; but the great revival can take place only in the Holy Land."

Lord Lindsay wrote: The soil of "Palestine still enjoys her sabbaths, and only waits for the return of her banished children, and the application of industry, commensurate with her agricultural capabilities, to burst once more into universal luxuriance, and be all that she ever was in the days of Solomon.....

Charles Henry Churchill, a British resident of Damascus, also became a zealous propagator of the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine. ...

In 1839 the Church of Scotland on "the Condition of the Jews in their land." ... was widely publicized in Great Britain and it was followed by a "Memorandum to Protestant Monarchs of Europe for the restoration of the Jews to Palestine." This memorandum was printed verbatim in the London Times, including an advertisement by Lord Shaftesbury igniting an enthusiastic campaign by the Times for restoration of the Jews.

In August 1840 the Times reported that the British government was considering Jewish restoration. ...Lord Shaftesbury was the most active restoration lobbyist. 'The inherent vitality,' he wrote, 'of the Hebrew race reasserts itself with amazing persistence. Its genius, to tell the truth, adapts itself more or less to all the currents of civilization all over the world, nevertheless always emerging with distinctive features and a gallant recovery of vigor.

Lord Shaftesbury lobbied for the idea with Prime Minister Palmerston and his successors in the government and was incidentally instrumental in the considerable assistance and protection against oppression that Britain hence­forth extended to the Jews already living in Palestine.

Sir George Gawler, a hero of Waterloo, urged the restoration of the Jews as the remedy for the desolation of Palestine. In 1848 he wrote, "I should be truly rejoiced to see in Palestine a strong guard of Jews established in flourishing agricultural settlements and ready to hold their own upon the mountains of Israel against all aggressors. I can wish for nothing more glorious in this life than to have my share in helping them do so." Gawler formed a Palestine colonisation fund to help the work of settlement.

..... Toward the end of the nineteenth century, British interest in the Middle East increased, because it was considered essential to guard the route to India and to guarantee the stability of the Turkish empire against Russian and other imperialist threats. Settlement of Jews in Palestine was offered first as a way to bolster the faltering Turks and help guarantee the security of the Suez canal. The idea which had seemed utopian became a more or less respectable and acceptable project.

Judgement day as US votes

From The Australian, November 08, 2006, by Tom Baldwin and Tim Reid ...

AMERICANS began voting today in Congressional elections that could turn George Bush into a lame duck President for his final two years in office, as well as having profound consequences for the future course of US foreign policy in Iraq and beyond.

Follow this link for Interactive summary of the Mid-term elections

... Democrats remain hopeful that they can seize control of the House of Representatives by making a net gain of 15 seats out of 435 being contested. Polls suggest that they have established clear leads in 13 districts, while a further 15 are judged as too close to call.

.... The first indication of the scale of electoral upheaval may come in results from what is being termed the "killing fields" of the economically depressed Ohio River Valley, which snakes westwards from Pennsylvania through up to half a dozen seats in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.

The Democrats also have a fair chance of retaking the Senate, where they must make six net gains from the 15 seats being defended by the Republicans. An early indication of whether this will be possible will come in exit polls from Virginia, where the Republican Senator George Allen has faced an unexpectedly strong challenge from the Democrat Jim Webb. But a flurry of final-day opinion polls suggested that the Republicans were regaining some lost ground.

Nationally, the Democrats still lead by 6 per cent, down from 10 per cent a week ago. Although some polls for bitterly contested Senate seats such as Virginia and Montana suggested that the Republican incumbents are drawing even or pulling ahead, it is an indication of how volatile these races have become that other surveys published in the past 24 hours gave the Democrats increased leads.

... The final 24 hours of campaigning was marked by bitter clashes once again over Iraq. The Democrats angrily dismissed Republican claims that they were "happy to lose" in Iraq, but insisted that today’s vote nonetheless gave America "the chance to change the direction" of the both the country and the war. Nancy Pelosi, who will become first female House speaker if the Democrats win tonight, said that she was cautiously optimistic about her party’s prospects. ....

Hezbollah appears in Latin America

From an article by Ely Karmon, November 7, 2006, published on the IDC Web site, 14/11/06 ...

On October 23, 2006 the Baruta Municipality Police found two explosive devices near the US Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela. One of the bombs was found in a box containing leaflets making reference to the Lebanese radical Islamic group Hezbollah. ...[The] Police, said they arrested ... Jose Miguel Rojas Espinoza, a 26 years old student of the state-run Bolivarian University ... that was founded by President Hugo Chavez.

An organization calling itself the Hezbollah America Latina (Hezbollah LA) took responsibility for the attack on October 25 on its website and promised that it will stage other simultaneous attacks with the same goal of publicizing the organization. It presented Rojas as “the brother mujahedeen, the first example of dignity and struggle in the cause of Allah, the first prisoner of the revolutionary Islamic movement Hezbollah Venezuela.”

Several months ago, probably in June or July, a website presenting itself as the mouthpiece of Hezbollah LA has began to be active .... Interestingly, the website is written in Spanish and in chapateka, a mixture of the Indian maya language and antique Spanish. Although the website is claiming activity of Hezbollah LA in El Salvador, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, México and Chile, actually the backbone of the organization is Hezbollah Venezuela, the second active group seems to be in Argentina and the others are practically inactive, at least on the Internet.

...It is probably not by chance that the Latin American Hezbollah seems to flourish in [Venezuela and Argentina]....Venezuela was considered for many years one of the bases of the Lebanese Hizballah in Latin America. ...They have become visible at a moment in which “the strange liaison” between Hugo Chávez and the Iranian president Ahmadinejad has become an item of international interest. Chavez has come out in support of Iran's nuclear program as well as denouncing the war in Lebanon, accusing Israel of a “new Holocaust.” At the Non-Aligned Movement summit, which was held in Cuba leading up to the Iranian leader's Caracas visit, Venezuela and Iran channeled the tide of global anti-US sentiment into support for Iran's right to nuclear energy.

The recent wave of anti-Semitism in Venezuela, as reflected in analyses at a September 2006 Caracas conference on the Middle East conflict and its local repercussions, made the Jewish community rather nervous. Some at the conference feared that Chavez's attacks on Israel may lead to attacks on local Jews. Already, graffiti is appearing on the Mariperez synagogue with increasing frequency. Some even accused Chavez of bringing in Hezbollah to indoctrinate Wayuu Indians in the west of the country. According to Jewish activists, the wave of anti-Semitism comes from official and pro-government media and Chavez's failure to repudiate these media and the anti-Semitic graffiti represents the “crux of the problem.”

....The present Argentinean government is not sympathetic to radical organizations or regimes, but in this country there are many active groups and movements of the radical right and left which have often expressed anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli as well as anti-US views and activities. The ... difficulties in the long investigation and prosecution of the terrorist bombings of the Israeli embassy and AMIA building ...[demonstrate] the tolerant background to such radical endeavors.

...The Simon Wiesenthal Center ... discovered ...the Hezbollah Venezuela’s website which calls for “Jihad in Latin America” ...[in] July 2006....However, it seems that the Venezuelan authorities have not attempted to challenge Hezbollah Venezuela or to explain the government’s silence even after the bombing attempts at the US embassy and the new threats emitted on its website.

....Another factor influencing the growing attraction to radical Islamist terrorist groups could be the successful campaigns of Islamic proselytism in the heart of poor indigene Indian tribes and populations by both Shi’a and Sunni preachers and activists.

...Latin America is searching for its own identity and the common people are clearly looking forward to a totally different spiritual change. ...twenty to thirty years ago, Catholicism claimed almost 90% of the total population in Latin America whereas today the numbers are now only between 55% and 65%. Latin America is a fertile area for Islamic dawah and Islamic values are already present in Latin American culture....

...Possibly, local sympathizers or activists of al-Qaeda evaluate that the opening of the “bombing propaganda campaign” by Hezbollah LA presents a good opportunity to begin their own campaign of recruiting and indoctrination in Venezuela and other Latin American countries.

...the short history of Hezbollah Latin America does not permit yet to draw a clear conclusion regarding the real character and goal of the group. .... Darnott, the Venezuelan leader, denies any link to the Lebanese Hizballah and indeed the religious and ideological substratum of his documents is very poor and superficial. In the case of the Argentinean “branch” the Shi’a and Iranian link is quite obvious and could prove more dangerous.

However, in view of the first terrorist attempt, even if it was only for propaganda purposes, several worrying aspects should be stressed. The special permissive atmosphere in Venezuela could send a message to the group... and to more dangerous terrorist organizations that their activities on its soil or from its territory are tolerated or even politically permitted.

There is a growing trend of solidarity between leftist, Marxist, anti-global and even rightist elements with the Islamists. The fact that the Lebanese Hizballah has sponsored a strategic conference of anti-global groups and movements in Beirut in September 2004, already pointed to this potentially dangerous coalition for the future.

Finally, there is the possibility that the Lebanese Hizballah, and al-Qaeda, to recruit "converted" Latin American terrorists for their operational terrorist international activity; as they did in the past in the Middle East and Europe.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Iran’s surprise military exercise

From DEBKAfile’s Military Sources, November 4, 2006, 8:52 PM (GMT+02:00) ....

The spectacular swarm of sophisticated missiles fired in Iran’s surprise military exercise stuns military planners in the US, Israel and Europe

Our sources reveal that scores of surface missiles – a record for any war games anywhere - were tested simultaneously at a desert testing site some two hours drive from Tehran Thursday, Nov. 2. Precisely planned, the testing went smoothly. Input has not yet come in about the accuracy of their targeting.

A senior American missile expert told DEBKAfile that the Iranians demonstrated up-to-date missile-launching technology which the West had not known them to possess. They also displayed unfamiliar warheads. But their most startling feat was the successful first test-fire of the long-range Shehab-3 with its cluster of tens of small bomblets, as DEBKAfile revealed Oct. 31. The entire range bore the imprint of new purchases from China.

This Shehab-3, whose 2,000-km range brings Israel, the Middle East and Europe within reach - may be more than a match for any anti-missile missile system in American, Israeli or European arsenals – depending critically on the point of its fragmentation. Some of its features are still an enigma in the West.

If the Shehab-3’s cluster separates close to target, the Israel-US Arrow has a chance to intercept it, but the Americans and Israelis have no defense against the multiple warhead if it separates at a distance.
Another point made by D
EBKAfile’s sources is that the spectacular missile show may have been designed for European consumption as much as to impress the US and Israel. Rather than making a secret of the display, General Rahim Safavi, commander of the Revolutionary Guards, which staged the exercise, bragged that Iran had proved its ability to strike targets outside the Middle East. Europe, which Tehran sees as susceptible to such threats, was being warned that it would be first in line for a backlash from a US or Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Iran announced its war game Wednesday night, Nov. 1, in response to the to the US-led naval movements and buildup in the in the Red Sea (see separate item).

Some of the other missiles tested in the exercise were the Shehab-2, Aolfaqar-73, Fateh-110, Scud B and Zelzal-2.