Friday, February 15, 2008

Nasrallah diatribe delares war - IDF on alert - Jews worldwide urged to be on their guard

From DEBKAfile, February 14, 2008, 5:36 PM (GMT+02:00):

...Hassan Nasrallah in a diatribe broadcast at the funeral of the group’s military commander Imad Mughniyeh Thursday, Feb. 18. “I say for the whole world to hear that our war will extend everywhere without restraints. The Lebanon War is not over; there is no ceasefire.”

Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki flew in especially to pay his government’s respects to the dead commander twenty-four hours after a bomb killed the man high on America’s wanted list in Damascus. Thousands of chanting supporters carried the coffin through the streets of Beirut’s southern Shiite stronghold in pouring rain.

Earlier, at the town center, thousands converged on Martyr’s Square to mark three years since the assassination of former PM Rafiq Hariri in a demonstration of strength by the pro-Western government. Speakers with one voice blamed Syria and Hizballah for Lebanon’s woes. Some 8,000 Lebanese army and security forces were deployed to keep the rival crowds apart amid the country’s tense political deadlock over the election of a president.

...and from DEBKAfile, February 14, 2008, 4:43 PM (GMT+02:00):

Israel’s army chief orders IDF land, sea and air forces to prepare to defend the country’s northern borders and interests

Defense minister Ehud Barak said the entire national defense system is fully prepared and alert as heavy Israeli reinforcements, including homeland defense units, were rushed Thursday to northern Israel.

Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi gave these orders Thursday, Feb. 14, 24 hours after a bomb killed Hizballah’s military commander Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that he took these unprecedented steps following a stream of incoming intelligence updates reporting that Iran, Syria and Hizballah had decided not to let Mughniyeh’s death pass without an immediate response.

Israeli forces have been placed on the highest level of preparedness against possible Syrian or Hizballah cross-border strikes. Rocket attacks by Hizballah against Israeli civilians are also taken into account, as well as possible Syrian air force incursions into Israel air space.
Jerusalem has denied Hizballah and Iranian allegations of responsibility for the death of the Lebanese master terrorist.

DEBKAfile reported earlier Tehran, Damascus, Hizballah leadership are coordinating efforts to wreak their revenge for Mughniyeh’s death, convinced that Israel’s Mossad planted the small bomb in the master terrorist’s Mitsubishi Pajero in the heart of the Syrian capital. Wednesday night, all Hizballah’s top leaders went to ground. Hassan Nasrallah did not attend the funeral Thursday but broadcast his eulogy by video. He declared if Israel wants war, so be it. "The blood of slain commander will lead to Israel's demise."

Our sources report that the long-sought terrorist was finally dispatched by a small explosive inserted between the driver’s seat and the back seats, which destroyed only one part of the vehicle, leaving the front and rear intact. Mughniyeh was driving alone to a reception marking Islamic Revolution Day at the Iranian embassy in the Romana district.

DEBKAfile’s counter-terror experts note that the way the explosion was set up recalled the method used by the hit team which killed the Jihad Islami senior operative Ghaleb Ghali in Damascus in October 2004. Then, too, Syria held Israel responsible.

... and from » Feb 14, 2008 by YAAKOV KATZ AND MARK WEISS:

More than 50 Hizbullah terror cells believed to be spread across the globe could be activated and used to strike at Israeli or Jewish targets in retaliation for Tuesday's assassination of Hizbullah arch-terrorist and operations officer Imad Mughniyeh in Syria, a senior defense official said Thursday.

As Hassan Nasrallah vowed "open war" to avenge Mughniyeh's death, the Israeli Counterterrorism Bureau issued a travel advisory on Thursday that made plain the seriousness with which it is taking the Hizbullah leader's threats. But Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said "Israel is a strong country" and that there was no need to panic.

FBI anti-terror units raised their alerts for fear of attacks on synagogues and other Jewish targets. Sources in the US administration reiterated that there were no specific warnings of a terrorist attack; nonetheless, an FBI source said that the raised alertness of the Anti-Terrorism Unit, which operates in about 100 cities around the US, is not a routine step.

The counterterrorism bureau recommended that citizens abroad avoid staying in areas where there is a large concentration of Israelis. It advised Israelis overseas to strictly avoid visiting Arab and Muslim states where existing travel warnings are in force; to reject any tempting suggestions, unexpected gifts and offers of free travel from suspicious people or unknown elements; to reject proposals for unscheduled meetings, and to travel to meetings accompanied by someone known and trusted.

The bureau also reiterated previous warnings about the risk of Israelis abroad being kidnapped, including businessmen - particularly those involved in deals with Arabs or Muslims. El Al has also beefed up security, and additional safety measures are being employed at Israeli embassies and institutions abroad.....

[Also see our previous posting of August 2007 on this subject]

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Fighting Fire with Fire

For a chilling, quick solution to Islamofacism follow the link to the MEMRI web site to see Sheik Ali Hatem Sleiman of the Al-Anbar Salvation Council pronounce: We Can Eradicate Al-Qaeda in Iraq within Two Months, but "Without Human Rights" ...

Hamas TV using charming children's characters to teach hate and violence

From an IMRA Bulletin, Monday, February 11, 2008, by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook, Palestinian Media Watch:

Hamas rabbit to children:"I'll finish off the Jews and eat them!"

Farfur (Mickey Mouse) was beaten to death by an israeli policeman.
Nahul the Bee died when the Israeli "siege" of Gaza prevented him from reaching a hospital.

Now there's a new character for Tomorrow's Pioneers, Assud the Rabbit.

A girl asks the Hamas rabbit: "Why is your name 'Assud' ["lion"], since you are a rabbit?"Assud, the rabbit: "A rabbit is a [term] for a bad person and coward. And I, Assud, will finish off the Jews and eat them. "The girl hostess agrees: "Allah Willing!"

This was part of a children's broadcast on Hamas Television this week. The program is called Tomorrow's Pioneers, which previously featured a fuzzy Mickey Mouse character named Farfur and a cute bee named Nahul....

...In the latest episode, we learn that Assud, the new rabbit character, has come from Lebanon "in order to return to the homeland and liberate it." Later in the show Assud and the child hostess discuss the eventual conquering of Tel-Aviv through terror.
Assud: "Do you know what the original name of our city ... Tel Aviv!"
Hostess: "It's our city: Tel-Rabia... but the Zionists today call it Tel Aviv, but it will stay ours... and we will return with Allah's will".
Assud: "How will we go to our city if the Jews took it?"
Hostess: "We will continue the resistance (terror)."
The program ends with singing:
"We will never recognize Israel"
And the hostess emphasizes:
"until we liberate our homeland from the Zionist filth".

[Palestinian Television, Al-Aksa channel (Hamas), Feb 8 2008].


From IMRA Monday, February 11, 2008, by Yoram Ettinger, YNET [in Hebrew only - abridged translated version provided by the author - my own emphasis added - SL]:

The Feb. 9, 2008 Palestinian census is not a cause for fatalism. In contrast with the census, the accurate number of Judea & Samaria Arabs is 1.5 million, and not 2.3 million, and the number of Gaza Arabs is 1.1 million, and not 1.5 million.

The Palestinian census is refuted by Palestinian, Israeli and international documentation of birth, death, migration, first-graders and eligible voter registration in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, which has been systematically conducted by the Bennett Zimmerman-led "American-Israeli Demographic Research Group" (AIDRG).

While the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) contends a 30% population growth during the last 10 years, the World Bank documents a substantial erosion of the Palestinian fertility rate and a significant escalation of emigration from Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The World Bank documents a 32% gap between the number of first graders per PCBS projections (24% increase) and per Palestinian Ministry of Education documentation (8% decrease).

A strange co-incidence has produced similarity between the 2007 census and the PCBS 1997 projection toward 2007, in spite of dramatic volatility in the areas of security, economics and politics, which has occurred since 1997, and which has caused a boost in Palestinian emigration and decline in fertility. For example, terrorism and counter-terrorism, the Hamas-Fatah war, unprecedented (over 30%) unemployment, the rise in the price of oil and a corresponding rise in demand for manpower in the Arab oil producing countries, intensive UNRAW and PCBS-led family planning, an unprecedented reduction of teen-pregnancy, a swift urbanization process, an all-time-high Palestinian divorce rate, an impressive expansion of the education system and the increase in Palestinian median wedding-age....

....According to the PCBS website, the 2007 census was based on the 1997 census, which was inflated by 30%, growing exponentially by the year. Thus, in contrast with internationally accepted demographic standards, the 1997 census included 325,000 residents, who stayed abroad for over a year, as well as students, who studied overseas, irrespective of their study period. Israel subtracts from its census Israelis who are away for over a year, and restores them following 90 days of stay in Israel. The 1997 census included 210,000 Israeli Arabs, bearing Israeli I.D. cards, who were doubly-counted: as Israeli Arabs by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics and as West Bank Arabs by the PCBS.

In summation, the 2007 census for Judea & Samaria was inflated by 53%, and the Jewish-Arab proportion west of the Jordan River - without Gaza - documents a robust Jewish majority of 67%, compared with a 33% Jewish minority in 1947, including Gaza.

The most effective symptom of the transformation - from Arab to Jewish demographic momentum - has been the absolute annual number of Jewish and Arab births within Israel's "Green Line." While the number of annual Arab births stagnated at 39,000 between 1995 to 2007, the number of annual Jewish births catapulted by 40% from 80,400 in 1995 to 112,000 in 2007.

There is a demographic problem, but it is not lethal, there is no demographic machete at Israel's throat, and the demographic tailwind is Jewish, not Arab. In fact, documented births, deaths and migration clarify that Jewish demography has become a strategic asset and not a liability. Hence, awareness of demographic reality could enhance the security, political, strategic, diplomatic and economic options of Israeli doves and hawks alike.

Gaza: Risks and Opportunities

From a BESA Perspectives Paper No. 38, February 13, 2008 by Efraim Inbar:

Executive Summary:
The recent breach by Hamas of the Egyptian-Gaza border has short and long term implications. In the short term, the event strengthened Hamas' standing in Gaza and increased the current security challenges to Israel, as terrorists and arms crossed the porous border. As rockets continue to fall on Israeli cities near Gaza, the Israeli public demands action by the government. Egypt is forced to play a role in the new situation, and finds itself caught in a dilemma – showing solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza while simultaneously preventing Hamas' influence in internal Egyptian politics. This event could become the catalyst of a reintroduction of Arab states taking responsibility on the Palestinian issue.

On January 23, 2008, Hamas blew apart the Israel-erected barrier between Gaza and Egypt, allowing for the free passage of Gazans into the Egyptian-controlled Sinai Peninsula. The destruction of the Rafah wall will undoubtedly affect regional politics into the foreseeable future. While in the short term the new situation poses great security risks for Israel and Egypt, in the longer run it may prove to be conducive to the development of new paradigms for Palestinian-Israeli conflict management.

...The event strengthened Hamas in several ways.

First, Hamas was successful in reducing the pressure applied directly by Israel and indirectly by Egypt, which was designed to curtail Hamas' aggressive behavior. Breaking the "cordonne sanitaire" around Gaza and allowing a shopping spree in Sinai for hundreds of thousands of Gazans lowered the level of domestic criticism due to economic difficulties. This clearly strengthened the Hamas regime that demonstrated ingenuity in withstanding outside pressure.

Second, Hamas forced Egypt to negotiate over the crisis, upgrading its status in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Third, Hamas' rule has been entrenched because various forms of support from Iran are now more easily delivered. The chances of the Mahmoud Abbas-led Palestinian Authority (PA) retaking control of Gaza look more remote than ever.

Hamas' burgeoning rule in Gaza will increase terrorism against Israel in the form of rockets and suicide bombers. The opening of freer access to and from Gaza allowed for an influx of money and arms, as well as for a rise of terrorists into Sinai, an easier point of entry from which to attack Israel. .... Killing Jews has always been popular among Palestinians and it bolsters the popularity of Hamas versus the moribund PA.

In the short term, Israel's security is indeed negatively affected....

... the Gazans are shooting thousands of Kassams toward Israeli towns daily, making any demands of the international community toward Israel to supply food and energy needs to their fanatic enemies more ludicrous than ever. Israel should finally be let off the hook concerning the well-being of the Gazans. Indeed, the disengagement rationale and the violent hostility of the Palestinians in Gaza are having a significant impact on the thinking of Israeli leaders. Israel's leaders have no reason to continue assistance to those who enjoy the sights of suffering in Sderot.

As the suffering of Sderot and environs increases, Israel is increasingly likely to take up arms to end the terrorist harassment of its civilians. ...Gaza and Israel are on a course of armed conflict and it is only a question of time when Israeli troops will subject Gaza to the same type of treatment the West Bank received in March-April 2002.

For those that were skeptical (a majority of Israelis) of the process initiated at Annapolis, the developments in Gaza only reinforce their assessment that Mahmoud Abbas cannot deliver an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. The ascendance of an independent Gaza under the rule of Muslim radicals further fragments the Palestinian national movement and points to the futility of the two-state paradigm, which still attracts lip service from most of the world. This paradigm has been predominant for the past 70 years; the first plan for partition of the Land of Israel was rejected by the Arabs in 1936. Unfortunately, the issue of finding a responsible partner for such a partition still haunts the Jewish state.

Yet, the emergence of Hamastan in Gaza may propel Egypt into a "partner" role, which it played willingly in the 1948-67 period. ... Hamas has grown more powerful and its free access to Sinai has become dangerous. Hamas is far from being the darling of the current Egyptian regime since its links to the Muslim brethren threaten the rule of President Mubarak and his heir. The indecisive Egyptian reaction to the breach in the Rafah wall reflected this dilemma. On the one hand, Egypt must show solidarity with the Palestinians and sensitivity to their suffering. Therefore, it allowed Gazans to enter its territory.

On the other hand....Egypt particularly fearful of the influence of Hamas at home. .... One distinct possibility is a greater Egyptian role in Gaza to limit the Islamist influence. This is advantageous for Israel, even if some terror may still originate in Gaza.

Actually, such a scenario could evolve only after a large-scale Israeli military operation that would extract a heavy price from Gaza, seriously weakening Hamas, particularly its military wing. Then, Gazans may become more susceptible to an enhanced Egyptian presence ...

... Eventually, Egyptian informal rule over Gaza might be emulated by Jordan in the West Bank. A large number of Palestinians are fed up with their national movement; it has brought only suffering to the Palestinian people. Thus, the new situation in Gaza could beget an opportunity for the emergence of a new paradigm in which Arab states share the burden of ruling over the unruly Palestinians.

Efraim Inbar is professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and the director of its Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Arch Terrorist Assassinated

...once again, some GOOD news from THE JERUSALEM POST by staff, gil hoffman and ap, Feb. 13, 2008:

... [Hizbullah's terror chief Imad] Mughniyeh was killed in a car bombing in Damascus late Tuesday night, Hizbullah's Al-Manar television reported Wednesday.

Hizbullah blamed Israel for Mughniyeh's assassination.....

....Environment Minister Gideon Ezra called Mughniyeh the "Lebanese Carlos." "He was implicated in plane hijackings; he was implicated in abducting our three soldiers at Har Dov," Ezra said. "According to sources that I am privy to, he was also involved in the kidnapping of our soldiers [Eldad] Regev and [Ehud] Goldwasser. He was also amongst those involved in the terror attacks in Argentina."

"Mughniyeh was one of the most dangerous and cruel terrorists," Former Mossad head and Labor MK Danny Yatom said. "This is a huge achievement in the war against terror."

"When bastards like Mughniyeh, whose hands are covered in the blood of Israelis, Argentinian Jews and Americans, go on to a 'better place', our world also becomes a better place," former chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud), said.

"Mughniyeh was living on borrowed time," Likud MK Silvan Shalom said. "He is responsible for many deaths and his passing is a contribution to the international community's war against terror."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is in Turkey, would not answer reporters' questions on the subject of the assassination on Wednesday.

"If they fire on us, we have to fight back"

From the PRESIDENT OF ISRAEL SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE, Jerusalem, February 12th, 2008:

The President of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres: "If they fire on us, we have to fight back without hesitation; Haniyah is hiding because he knows clearly that he has perpetrated serious crimes against his people and against Israel"

The President of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres, was the guest of honour of over a thousand youth of the Kibbutz Movement who volunteered a year's national service and who are about to enlist in the IDF. In his address to the youth the President referred to the political-security situation and said:

"Three things must be done in view of the situation in Sderot and Gaza.

The first, there must be complete solidarity among the society in Israel. All the people must be united with and must strengthen the citizens of Sderot – not only Tel Aviv but all the cities in Israel must identify with Sderot. When the leg of the small boy, Osher Tawito, was amputated, it was as if the leg of an entire generation was amputated. Everyone must be part of the pain of the family and the suffering of the inhabitants of Sderot." ....

...The second thing that needs to be done – If they fire on us, we must fight back without hesitation and without compromise. The people of Israel are a people, which defends itself and does not want war... .... Words are not sufficient. I rely on the IDF and also if definite solutions to the firing of Kassam missiles take time, there is no doubt that the IDF will come out with the upper hand.

The third step which the President noted was: "Worldwide public opinion must be recruited – both in the political and diplomatic track and in widespread international information, as despicable crimes are being perpetrated against Sderot, crimes which are against international law. The moment the firing of missiles on Israel stops – quiet will reign in Gaza. The world must understand this. The Head of the Hamas in Gaza must know that those who are harmed, eventually will be those who break the law itself." ...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

“We’re ready”

From DEBKAfile, February 12, 2008, 9:37 AM (GMT+02:00):

“We’re ready” – say Israeli generals responding to defense minister’s order to prepare for large-scale ground assault on Gaza

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the tone - even more than the actual words - heard from chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashenazi, air force chief Maj. Gen. Eliezer Shkedy and other generals Monday, Feb. 11, betrayed frustration over the too-little, too-late policies pursued by the government.

A former defense minister Moshe Arens voiced this sense when he said Tuesday: It is unthinkable to place children on Israel’s front line; that’s a job for soldiers.

Prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Ehud Olmert were signaled by Israel’s highest military officers that they were fed up with straining at the leash and being held back from effective ground action to stamp out the Palestinian missiles and terror at source in Gaza.

Ashkenazi told members of the IDF high command Monday night that the IDF had already been issued with the requisite orders and directives to carry out this mission -“subject to approval.”

... Ashkenazi’s words were crystal-clear: “The army stands ready to deepen and expand its operations (in Gaza) as needed in accordance with the decisions reached.” This tossed the ball back to the decision-makers ....

....Air Force commander Shkedi said at a separate venue: “For us, terrorists on the fence and missile fire are unacceptable.”

The OC Southern Command (which includes the Gaza Strip,) Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, described the situation as “a pressure cooker about to explode at any moment.”

The military intelligence research division head Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz said: “Israel’s security and strategic situation in 2008 is more difficult and complicated than it was in 2007....Hizballah has trebled its rocket stocks in the interim [i.e. 40,000 today] and extended their range as far as Tel Aviv."...

In order to go in, we need a way out

From an Analysis by Yaakov Katz , THE JERUSALEM POST, Feb. 11, 2008:

At Sunday's cabinet meeting, despite a number of requests, Defense Minister Ehud Barak refused to disclose operational details about what he has consistently referred to as the inevitable large-scale ground operation into the Gaza Strip.

... what can be said at this point is that it will be unprecedented in size and will also be a practical expression of one of the IDF's primary lessons from the Second Lebanon War - not to over-rely on the Air Force. This time around, the ground forces will be activated from day one.

There are several reasons why the operation has yet to be launched.

From a tactical point of view, it is wintertime and when there are clouds in the skies it is difficult to get the max out of the IAF's fighter jets, attack helicopters and reconnaissance drones. Gilad Schalit is another factor for holding off on the operation which, if launched, could postpone his release indefinitely.

The operation into Gaza will have two primary goals:

First and foremost to significantly weaken Hamas by destroying its terrorist infrastructure and removing it from governmental power.

The second goal - which has proven more urgent in recent weeks with the collapse of the Gaza-Egypt border wall - calls for reoccupying the Philadelphi Corridor, sealing it off and preventing the smuggling of weapons or terrorists into the Gaza Strip.

The operation will most likely entail the call-up of thousands of reservists, mainly to replace infantry and armored brigades that will be sent to Gaza from routine operations they are conducting in the West Bank and along the northern border....

....The idea will be to slice up the Gaza Strip into several sections and to begin cleansing them of terrorists and terror infrastructure. This, however, will not be an easy task, since Hamas has had more than two and a half years - since Israel's unilateral withdrawal in 2006 - to build up its military and prepare for D-Day....

....While the operational plans have been drafted ... the IDF, Foreign Ministry or anyone else for that matter has yet to come up with the operation's "end strategy." As one top officer recently pointed out, "I know how we get in, but I don't yet know how we get out."

For this reason, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has been pushing the idea in recent weeks of a multinational force in Gaza, although the chances of this happening are not very realistic.

The other option is to hope that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will come in and fill the vacuum that will be created by the operation. Considering his weak stature, this option is also highly unlikely.

What is certain is that the IDF has no intention of staying inside Gaza for an undefined period of time. The Winograd Committee harshly criticized the government and the military for not planning an end strategy when deciding on July 12 to retaliate to Hizbullah's abduction earlier that day of reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.

Without a clear way out, Israel is not yet running into Gaza.

Monday, February 11, 2008

'I screamed as loud as I could so they'd hear me'

From THE JERUSALEM POST Feb. 10, 2008, by Shelly Paz and Judy Siegel:

Osher Twito, the eight-year-old Sderot boy who was seriously wounded in a Kassam rocket attack over the weekend, was transferred from Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer on Sunday because Barzilai lacks rehabilitation facilities.
One of the boy's legs was amputated below the knee; the other one is in danger because of harm to an artery at ankle level.

Osher, who dreamed of becoming a soccer player, does not know yet that he has lost one of his legs. Barzilai sources said Sunday that it was impossible to know immediately whether his whole-but-injured leg would have to be amputated or not, as there is always the threat of infection.

Osher also suffered a fracture in one hand. He remains under total sedation and attached to a respirator, even though he can breathe on his own, so he doesn't suffer from severe pain.
The amputation of the one leg took a long time and was difficult. If all goes well, the stump will be attached to a prosthetic leg. "It's too early to know what will happen to the other leg," said the Barzilai spokeswoman, Lea Malul.

Osher and his brother Remi, 19, from Sderot, went for a short trip to the cash machine on Saturday night to withdraw some money for the present they planned to buy their father, Rafi, whose birthday was on Sunday. When the brothers and Remi's girlfriend, Kinneret, arrived at the ATM, they realized they had forgotten Remi's credit card at home.

"Remi and Osher waited for me on the street to bring the credit card from the house," an exhausted Kinneret recalled Sunday as she waited for her boyfriend to get out of the operating room at Barzilai. "When I came back from the house, they started walking in my direction, and then the 'Color Red' alert was sounded for a second before it [the rocket] hit them. I was hiding, but when I lifted my head, I saw them both lying on the ground, crying for help and screaming in pain. I screamed as loud as I could so they would hear me, but what else could I do?"
Osher loved to play soccer, his relatives said.

"I don't know how my son will live without a leg," cried Osher's mother, Iris, shortly before seeing her two children for the first time since they had been rushed to the hospital.
"He doesn't understand a thing yet, and he will have to understand that. Why does it have to be like this?" Iris asked in tears.

Remi, moderately wounded in both legs, was awakened when transferred to Tel Hashomer. "I remember running in the street, and then the alarm went off. Next thing I knew, I was lying on the ground and my legs hurt. I called my mother and told her to come immediately because we were wounded," Remi said before he was put inside the Magen David Adom ambulance that took him to the hospital.

Still hazy from the operation, Remi added that he hated Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, "who let them [the Palestinians] ruin Sderot's residents' lives." One of Remi's legs is undergoing treatment of the soft tissues, and the other leg is broken and in a cast. The boys' parents and 15-year-old brother all suffered severe emotional trauma and are being treated.

Barzilai staffers themselves were traumatized by Osher's suffering, as he was conscious upon arrival at the trauma room and repeatedly screamed "Save me!" while describing his pain.

Ismail Haniyeh goes into hiding

From Ynet News, 11/2/08, by Roee Nahmias:

...Hamas PM has gone into hiding fearing assassination by Israel. Palestinian sources report other Hamas, Jihad leaders follow suit...

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Hanieyh has gone into hiding for fear Israel might try to assassinate him over the ongoing Qassam fire emanating from the Gaza Strip, the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper reported Monday.

According to the report, only a handful of bodyguards have knowledge of Haniyeh's whereabouts and movements. Palestinian sources told Ynet that Hanieyh is known for frequently changing locations and accommodations even in times of calm.

The sources further revealed that other prominent Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives have begun taking extra precautions, for fear Israel will try to target them.

Media sources in Gaza reported that Israel may try to target Hamas' Mahmoud al-Zahar and Said Siam in the near future, since both are considered to be directly responsible for the ongoing Qassam fire on Israel's south.

Ali Waked contributed to this report

Sderot residents set to protest in Tel Aviv

From Ynet News, 11/2/08, by Shmulik Hadad:

Inhabitants of the embattled southern town plan to disrupt traffic, demonstrate in front of Defense Ministry [Tel Aviv]. Later, furious citizens to set up protest tent and hold rally in Jerusalem.....

According to the protest organizers' plans, they will hold a protest march around the Azrieli towers and the Kirya military compound. Afterwards, the group intends to return to Jerusalem to set up a protest tent in front of the Knesset where they plan to hold another rally with the participation of Knesset members and public officials

Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal is expected to take part in the demonstrations.

The campaign is being directed by Alon Davidi from the Headquarters for Security in Sderot.

According to him, the decision to commence protests outside of Sderot was made after "we saw that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert divides the country into two: Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and the rest of the cities – against another country which is (comprised of) Sderot and the Gaza vicinity, where it is okay to forsake the residents and not give them protection."....

Qassam fire necessitates wide scale Gaza operation

From Ynet News 11/2/08, by Ahiya Raved:

Air Force Commander, Brig. Gen. Eliezer Shkedi tells Druze students that situation in Strip 'obliges consideration of continuing operations there'....

.....Shkedi estimated that the scope of IDF operations in the Palestinian enclave would be increased. "The continuing fire will at the end of the day obligate us (to carry out) a wide scale operation in the Strip. Terrorists on the (separation) fence and ongoing rocket fire is intolerable. This is unacceptable from our point of view," the IAF chief.

He also noted that current IDF activities against terrorist groups in the Strip are insufficient: "I won't get into political considerations, but (from a) military standpoint, we're operating in Gaza around the clock – combined – from the ground and the air."

During the event, the Air Force head also discussed goings-on in Lebanon and confirmed that Hizbullah is renewing its strength on the northern border, but refused to elaborate on a possible solution to the matter.....

Israel to 'target those firing rockets'

From Nine News, Monday Feb 11:

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert threatened to target all those behind cross-border rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, but warned against a knee-jerk Israeli military response.

Olmert has been wary of launching a large-scale ground operation in the densely populated coastal territory that could result in heavy Israeli as well as Palestinian casualties.

But he is under mounting domestic pressure to do more to counter the rocket fire, which seriously wounded two Israelis, including an eight-year-old boy, in the southern Israeli town of Sderot.

Part of the boy's leg was amputated.

...The prime minister vowed to target "all terror elements" in the Gaza Strip - both those directly responsible for the rocket attacks and those who help organise them. "We will not give special consideration to anyone," Olmert said, the strongest hint yet that Israel could start assassinating political leaders of the Hamas movement, which seized control of the Gaza Strip in June after routing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's secular Fatah forces.

....Gaza militants frequently fire short-range rockets and mortars at towns in southern Israel ..... [Foreign Minister Tzipi] Livni appeared to be preparing the ground internationally for a stepped up Israeli military campaign to stop the rockets. "There is a need for the international community to understand that there are certain steps that Israel needs to take in order to stop it," Livni said of the cross-border attacks. "Israel, according to international law, has the right and the duty to defend its citizens."

Olmert's top deputy, Vice Premier Haim Ramon, said Israel should respond to the attacks by "raining fire" down on specific areas in the Gaza Strip where the rockets were launched.
Cabinet Minister Meir Sheetrit said Israel should let residents in those areas leave and then "demolish everything".

Ramon, Sheetrit and Cabinet Minister Zeev Boim said anyone involved in the rocket attacks, either directly or indirectly, should be targeted for assassination. Sheetrit singled out Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Hamas's government in the Gaza Strip, as a "legitimate target".
Israel assassinated top Hamas leaders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi in the Gaza Strip in 2004.....

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Obama highlights differences with Clinton on Iran

From JTA, By Ron Kampeas, published: 6 February 2008:

.....Obama ... in his remarks [Tuesday night in his speech after he and U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton about tied in the delegate count on Super Tuesday] .... said he and his opponents were friends. He made sure, however, to note their differences.

Riding a wave of cheers, Obama said that if he is the Democratic standard-bearer in the general election, the Republican candidate will not be able to say "that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran, because I haven't, or that I support the Bush-Cheney doctrine of not talking to leaders we don't like, because I profoundly disagree with that approach."

Obama was referring to Clinton's vote last year on an amendment that urged Bush to monitor the Iranian role in the Iraqi insurgency, and her rejection of Obama's call to meet pariah leaders within a year of taking office.

Those remarks underscore differences that will set off alarms in some corners of the Jewish community, said Morris Amitay, the doyen of pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington."If you believe that Iran is a credible threat to Israel and also works against U.S. interests in the Middle East, then to say you'll unconditionally say you'll sit and talk with them only encourages them to continue on their present course," Amitay said. "Clinton's attitude is more realistic and sophisticated, and this does raise the question in how prepared Obama would be in handling national security issues."

... it becomes clear that there is a substantial difference on Iran policy.

Speaking of giving Bush the "benefit of the doubt on Iran," Obama was referring to Clinton's vote last year on a Senate amendment that argues for designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity. The amendment was not binding, but Bush heeded it in any case.
Of Democratic senators in the presidential race at the time, only Clinton voted for it. Obama was not present.

... other liberal Democrats backed the amendment, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, whom Obama thanked at the start of his speech Tuesday night.

The second issue raised by Obama in his speech is even more substantive, although his charge that Clinton supports "the Bush-Cheney doctrine of not talking to leaders we don't like" has been widely criticized as a distortion. Clinton says she would reach out to leaders of countries like Iran and Syria but unlike Obama, would not commit to doing so in her first year in office....

..[her campaign's national security director, Lee ]Feinstein said Clinton disagrees with Obama on the guarantee "to meet personally and without precondition during the first year in office with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea..... diplomacy requires careful preparation before conferring the legitimacy of a meeting with the president of the United States...." ....

Dhimmi — or just dim?

From Melanie Phillips' Diary, in The Spectator (UK), Saturday, 9th February 2008:

... the Archbishop of Canterbury is fighting to save his job by frantically back-tracking and claiming he has been misunderstood. It was all got up by the tabloids… no-one actually read the lecture… people have jumped to the wrong conclusion from a few misleading headlines. Ye gods. What planet is he living on? Everyone heard what the man actually said on the World at One; by now, many have heroically ploughed through his lecture as well. It is the words that he actually uttered that have caused unprecedented numbers to take to their keyboards in outrage. And it is the words that he actually uttered that make the statement on his website attempting to justify himself, written in the third person by an anonymous apparatchik at Lambeth Palace, disingenuous to the point of being seriously misleading.

The statement ...implies that it was only in answering a question that he coyly agreed that the use of sharia was unavoidable. But he was actually promoting this idea himself as a desirable development. .... In his lecture, he said in terms that he was talking about the state recognising sharia in certain circumstances as a ‘supplementary jurisdiction’. It was a central argument of this lecture that the state, which already recognised some provisions of sharia (alas, too true) should recognise other provisions such as family law, and that individuals should be able to choose which system they wanted, in

"…a scheme in which individuals retain the liberty to choose the jurisdiction under which they will seek to resolve certain carefully specified matters, so that ‘power-holders are forced to compete for the loyalty of their shared constituents’. This may include aspects of marital law, the regulation of financial transactions and authorised structures of mediation and conflict resolution ...."

That means two systems existing side by side with equal status. In other words, parallel systems.

....and the attitude of those British Muslims who want to live under sharia rather than English law...Dr Williams himself described as leaving them

"systematically faced with the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty…"

This is actually a shattering thing to say about Britain’s Muslim community. For it says that their loyalty to their culture is in conflict with their loyalty to the UK — a conflict experienced by no other minority in the UK, which Dr Williams appears not to grasp. His whole lecture was devoted to attempting to resolve that conflict — which he did by suggesting, in effect, that if Muslims can’t be British under existing law, then Britain will have to become at least a little bit Muslim, in order to enable what he called in terms

"a competition for loyalty"

with Muslims given the ability to choose between English and Islamic law. This shocking suggestion is the undeniable meaning of his words, delivered at such great length. Can it really be the case that no-one at Lambeth Palace actually understands what these words mean? Or are they really so arrogant that they thought no-one else would understand?

....Next, the statement actually repeated the significant error Dr Williams made about Jewish law and the relationship between British Jews and the state:

"At the end of the lecture the Archbishop referred to a suggestion by a Jewish jurist that there might be room for 'overlapping jurisdictions' in which ‘individuals might choose in certain limited areas whether to seek justice under one system or another’. This is what currently happens both within the Jewish arrangements and increasingly in current alternative dispute resolution and mediation practice."

This is completely untrue....there are no ‘overlapping jurisdictions’ between English and Jewish law, and Jewish law is not a ‘supplementary jurisdiction’ in the UK. A jurisdiction is a body of legal authority which has binding force upon those to whom it is applied. Jewish religious law in the UK has no legal authority over British Jews and no such binding force. Jews most certainly do not choose ‘whether to seek justice in one system or another’ except where their participation in Beth Din religious tribunals is entirely voluntary on the part of all concerned, such as in the informal arbitration of disputes. For the enforcement of justice, they must seek remedies from English law, just as they must be married or divorced under English law — Jewish marriage and divorce rituals having no official standing — for such status to be recognised by the state.

It is a Jewish religious requirement for Jews to live under the law of the land in which they reside. It is simply astounding that Lambeth Palace continues to perpetuate a false impression about this. Do they really know nothing about Judaism? Why do they insist upon dragging the Jews into this?

The statement also omits any reference to the most astonishing thing of all that the Archbishop said: that there should not be one law for all. In the lecture he said he wanted to end our

"unqualified secular legal monopoly;"

he wanted the rule of law to be detached from

"any one form of corporate belonging or any particular history"

— ie, to be detached from one thousand years of British history, Christian ethics, the English common law and western civilisation; because, as he said so jaw-droppingly in his radio interview:

"An approach to law which simply said - there's one law for everybody - I think that's a bit of a danger."

Dr Williams says he has been misunderstood. Tellingly, his website statement makes no defence at all of this devastating renunciation of the doctrine of equality before the law. This omission suggests that at least someone at Lambeth Palace understands what Dr Williams actually said only too well.

The lecture and radio interview were bad enough, heaven knows. But this statement on his website raises yet further concerns. How can the Archbishop of Canterbury put out such a seriously misleading and, in parts, demonstrably false statement? It moves this affair on from questions about judgment — which are serious enough — to questions about integrity.

Either Dr Williams really does not understand what he himself said — in which case he is a fool; or he understands exactly what he said and is trying to pretend that he didn’t say it — in which case he is a knave.

Either way, he has done great harm to his church and is a danger to his country ...He should stand down and the courageous and sharp Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali — a man whose life is now in danger for having spoken the truth about Islam in a Britain whose religious and cultural identity he actually defends, but about whom Dr Williams has said not one word in support — should take his place.

Now that really would be a statement in defence of Britain and western civilisation.

Bigger Trouble brewing in Gaza

First, this article from Ynet News, by Roni Sofer, 9/2/08:

Labor party's Ami Ayalon sends angry letter to top officials, charges that Winograd conclusions have not been implemented in handling of Gaza border breach

.....Minister Ami Ayalon has reportedly sent a harsh letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak and demanded that an urgent cabinet meeting be convened to discuss recent developments in Gaza.

In the letter, Ayalon is particularly interested in discussing the Gaza border breach by Hamas and charges that the failure to hold a cabinet meeting on such strategic issue is tantamount to a failure to adopt the conclusions of the Winograd Commission, which examined the Second Lebanon War.

.... In his letter, Ayalon apparently complained that a comprehensive debate on the Gaza border breach has not taken place in the cabinet even though three weeks have passed since then.

.... One cabinet minister already complained about the issue ...."Where is the orderly discussion? Where are the working papers of the National Security Agency, the Mossad, the Shin Bet, and the Foreign Ministry?" the minister said. "Where are the government decisions on such a principled matter? How can they conduct themselves like this even before the ink dried on the Winograd Commission's conclusions?"

...and this, also from Ynet, 9/2/08, by Hanan Greenberg:

Defense officials: Hamas attacks in the works

The defense establishment is dealing with an increasing number of warnings regarding Hamas plans to carry out a major attack in the Gaza Strip area... the organization seeks to boast an achievement via terrorism.....

... security officials say that Hamas continues to boost its military strength and group members are constantly working to prepare themselves for a possible large-scale IDF ground operation.
"We can see Hamas' progress every time they come into contact with IDF soldiers in the Strip," the defense official said. "We can see that they are more highly skilled people who are better equipped than before and they operate like an army."

"Therefore, the attitude to Hamas' potential is serious," the source added. "We know that Hamas prepared several 'contingency attacks' – that is, an attack that is ready for execution and merely requires a decision to carry it out." ...

Egypt boosts troops on border

From THE JERUSALEM POST by Associated Press, Feb. 8, 2008:

Egypt boosted troop security along the volatile border with Gaza on Friday ... following an alleged threat by Hamas that the group would stage kidnappings of Egyptian troops if its operatives arrested in the Sinai were not released.

...stepped-up rhetoric by Egypt against Gaza's Hamas rulers, reflect... Cairo's growing frustration in the wake of the 12-day breach of its frontier with Gaza and the ensuing border chaos. Snipers were deployed on rooftops in the Egyptian part of the divided border town of Rafah on Friday, while Egyptian forces were told to move only in armed groups of at least three soldiers....

....the new orders followed a threat by Hamas commanders to abduct Egyptian security personnel if Egypt fails to release 15 Hamas members arrested last week in the Sinai.....The Palestinians arrested here were found carrying weapons and explosives near the border and other remote parts of Egypt's Sinai desert.......

....On Thursday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said no further violations of the border would be tolerated and that anyone daring to cross would have their legs broken.
The unprecedented harsh rhetoric reflected increasing tensions between Egypt and Hamas, which rejects Egypt's proposal to bring the Rafah crossing under the mandate of the Palestinian Authority led by Hamas' rival Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president and Fatah leader....

8-year-old seriously wounded in Sderot rocket attack

From Feb 8, 2008:

Two brothers, an eight-year-old boy and a youth aged 19, were seriously wounded as a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck Sderot on Saturday night....

The boy was wounded in both his legs before being evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon with his brother. The victims' parents were lightly wounded in the strike. Both boys were conscious upon arrival to the hospital.

Five rockets were fired during the barrage - three of which landed inside of the city. One of the rockets landed in a neighborhood at a time when the group was crossing the street. The family had apparently tried to find cover after hearing the Red Alert Siren which sounded seconds before the hit. The other two rockets landed in open areas outside close to Sderot.

The Islamic Jihad's military wing, Al Kuds' Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sderot residents, who blocked traffic in both directions at the southern entrance to the town in protest of the government's "neglect" on Friday night, plan to demonstrate outside of the Knesset on Sunday, Army Radio reported.

Meanwhile, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter paid a visit to the beleaguered town.
"I found a battered town where some 20 percent of residents have simply upped and left," Army Radio quoted Dichter as saying....

.... "When I traveled in the direction of Sderot," continued Dichter, "I saw crowds arriving for the 'Red South' festival, but when I got to Sderot, I saw desolate streets, emptied of people - people closed up inside their homes."

On Sunday, the public security minister is due to brief the cabinet on his visit to the town.
After a turbulent Friday on which some 40 Kassams and mortar shells slammed into the western Negev, the attacks continued Saturday morning as two rockets fired from Gaza hit the Sha'ar Hanegev region....

....Late Friday, two Sderot homes suffered direct hits from Kassams, sending six people into shock - four of whom were eating their Shabbat dinner when the rockets struck.
One man was evacuated to a hospital, suffering from chest pains, and two other residents of the town were lightly wounded after falling down while scampering for shelter from the rockets.

Following Friday's rocket barrage, Israel's UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman issued a complaint to the UN secretary-general and the UNSC president. ....

....Meanwhile, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that the rocket attacks were a justified response to Israel's attacks on Gaza.

Haniyeh also said that there was no progress in negotiations to secure the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit....

al-Qaeda teaches Children to kidnap and kill

From The Times, February 7, 2008, by Martin Fletcher in Baghdad:

The boys look about 11 or 12, some even younger. .... The three-minute film shows the children — perhaps 20 in all — being taught to kidnap and assassinate at what appears to be an al-Qaeda training and indoctrination camp in the Iraqi countryside....

......Guided by adult trainers, they storm a house and capture the people sleeping on a floor inside. They brandish their weapons for the cameraman, recite Koranic verses and chant their support for al-Qaeda.

The US military released the chilling footage in Baghdad ....seized during a raid on December 4 on a suspected al-Qaeda base in Khan Bani Saad, north of Baghdad. Rear-Admiral Gregory Smith, a military spokesman, described it as a propaganda tool that would have been used to recruit more children.

....Admiral Smith and Major-General Mohammed al-Askari, an Iraqi army spokesman, said they were releasing the videos to highlight al-Qaeda’s growing use of woman and children and deepening depravity.

They were clearly seeking to build on the widespread disgust inspired by the terrorist group’s use of two mentally disabled women last Friday to attack two crowded pet markets in Baghdad, killing about 100 people. The explosives attached to the women were detonated remotely and they may not even have known what they were doing. They were also teenagers, the military said yesterday.

Admiral Smith produced figures to show al-Qaeda’s increasing use of women as suicide bombers in Iraq. He said that five had carried out suicide attacks before 2007 and ten since, with four of those this year alone.

He had no figures for child suicide bombers but at least two 15-year-old boys blew themselves up last month......

....“Al-Qaeda in Iraq wants to poison the next generation of Iraqis,” [Admiral Smith] said. “It is offering children as the new generation of mujahedeen . . . It’s a morally broke ideology that Iraqis have rejected and are fighting against to reclaim their homeland.”

General al-Askari said the growing use of women and children was a sign of desperation by al-Qaeda..... Al-Qaeda has been taken aback in the past few months, however, as thousands of ordinary Sunnis have turned on the terrorists and driven them out of large areas of western Iraq and Baghdad.....