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I hate doing this, but I think it's been about a year since the last time I asked so I suppose I shouldn't feel too badly about it.
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Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal deserves to be more than just the mayor of a small town under attack. He gets it! While the government is running around saying they will 'reinforce' 200 buildings a month, while the media reports that last year's 'reinforcement' is already no good because this year's Kassams carry twice the explosive power, Eli Moyal understands that 'reinforcement' is not the answer. This is an excerpt from an interview with the JPost's Ruthe Blum which will be published in full next week:
"Reinforcement is almost a Kafkaesque issue, because you can't reinforce the street, so you reinforce the houses in which nobody is killed anyway. This is part of the general concept of the government to treat the symptom and not the illness. The infection is over there [in Gaza], and they're busy trying to lower the fever over here. I told the government that we've got to cause the people in Gaza to want to reinforce their houses. It's true that reinforcement calms the residents of Sderot down somewhat, but I'm telling you it won't protect them."
Though he said he understands the residents' fears and need to feel something is being done to alleviate their plight - and stressed that "they deserve anything they want" - "the reinforcement against the missiles that have been launched up until now won't be effective against the new generation of Kassams. Certainly not against Katyushas. So, then they'll have to add another layer of reinforcement, and they'll discover something important: that the foundations of the structures won't hold up. So they'll have to either strengthen the foundations or rebuild the structures."
Furthermore, he insisted, "When you say, 'I'm going to reinforce Sderot,' the subtext of what you are saying is: 'I accept terrorism as part of my life.' And how did we get to reinforcement? By capitulating to terrorism."
In fact, Moyal said, "The more the government reinforces homes, the longer it will take them to take real action in Gaza."
Two Israeli police convicted of brutally beating demonstrator
Two Israeli border policemen were convicted of brutality today for beating demonstrator Akiva Vitkin and attempting to rip his nostrils apart. The beating took place at a road block in Ramat Gan on June 29, 2005 and was caught on camera by an Arutz Sheva cameraman.
The two Yassam-unit policemen, Eran Naim and Eliran Avraham, were found guilty of beating demonstrator Akiva Vitkin without cause during an anti-Disengagement road-blocking demonstration on June 29, 2005. Naim is seen in the video appearing to be trying to pull Vitkin's nose off by sticking his fingers in his nostrils from behind and pulling up, and Avraham later beat Vitkin repeatedly in the police station.
The policemen's lawyer also stated that "fingers in nostrils" is a legitimate police tactic against demonstrators, one that is studied in the police martial arts school. The judge later stated that the major issue of the case is how to set the limits of police force against demonstrators.
Officer Eran Naim was caught on tape by Arutz-7’s Lerner taking part in what Lerner later said was a "cruel, shocking and pre-meditated attack." Despite attempts by the police to obstruct his view by standing tightly around the victim, Lerner managed to film the attack on a digital camera. Naim is first seen on motioning to his colleagues to help beat the demonstrator, after which they sit on him and stick their fingers in his nose and mouth, causing extensive bleeding and facial injuries. Naim is also seen beating 58-year-old Rabbi Dr. Yisrael Katz, after the Rabbi appealed to him to refrain from beating girls present at the road-blocking.
You can read interviews with Vitkin (the victim) and Lerner (the cameraman) here. The video of the beating is below (and this is a much longer video than what is on Arutz Sheva's web site). Parental discretion advised.
The Council of Revenants of Judea and Samaria (known in Hebrew as Moetzet Yesha) has compiled a collection of mea culpas from public figures who now understand that the disengagementexpulsion of all of the Jews of Gaza was a bad mistake. Here are some of the ones that were published by Arutz Sheva.
Maj.-Gen (ret.) Yiftah Ron-Tal, IDF ground forces commander at the time of the Disengagement: In the year preceding the Disengagement, the army trained mostly for dismantling communities, and that prevented it from preparedness for the war in Lebanon. The training for the Disengagement not only prevented preparedness for such a war, but dragged it away from the consensus as a people’s army. It is nearly certain that the excitement of those who led the decision and implementation of this is directly tied to the big failure in Lebanon…I still cannot understand how Israel gave up parts of its land willingly and with abandon, and how the residents connected to that land were turned into criminals, instead of raising their dedication as a banner of preserving the Jewish identity of the state of Israel. - Kfar Chabad weekly, October 6, 2006
Ilana Dayan, Journalist, Host of Popular ‘Uvda’(Fact) Program on Channel 2: How come nobody is standing up and asking where this rain of Kassams is coming from? Why didn’t we ask the deep questions? Why didn’t we wonder whether this was the right way – even for those of us who wanted to divide the land? Why did we only examine the Disengagement when ‘orange’ youth burned tires in the street? Why did [Sharon confidant and Disengagement architect] Dov Weisglas not tell us there would be a rain of Kassams on Sderot? Because this wasn’t popular and because there was a strong prime minister [Ariel Sharon] with a firm hold on the central hubs of the media. - address at B’nai Brith journalism prize ceremony, June 22, 2006
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, Chairman of the National Security Council and one of the Disengagement’s chief architects: There was no forward contemplation. The Disengagement contributed nothing to a solution to the conflict…There was no discussion of its merits. When I was tasked with planning it, all that existed was the word ‘Disengagement’ used by Sharon at the Herzliya Conference…I was given four months to plan, but Dov Weisglas was already committing to the Americans and leaking details of the withdrawal plans to the press…The paradigm of two states for two nations is not implementable. Perhaps the whole world agrees to it, but on the ground, it simply cannot be done. - Haaretz, June 1, 2006
Avri Gilad, broadcaster and TV personality who supported Disengagement: I supported the Disengagement. I was mistaken. The way it was carried out was a crime. -Maariv, January 23, 2007
From a practical perspective, pragmatic and seeing the situation for what it is – the orange public was right…Large segments of the public supported the plan out of general ideological reasons. -Army Radio, HaMilah Acharona, June 26, 2006
Brig.-Gen. (Res.) Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff at the time the government decided to carry out the Disengagement: “There is no escaping the fact that the background leading to the decision was a political crisis – the decline in support for the prime minister, and added to that was a personal crisis – the investigations into corruption…Examining the Disengagement in hindsight opposite Israel’s interests, it was the worst possible…Israel withdrew from every millimeter, including evacuating settlements, received nothing in return, and thus created a very problematic precedent.” - Maariv, February 24, 2006
Ron Ben Yishai, senior journalist for military affairs: The fact that they mixed the IDF up with the Disengagement, that the army was forced to do the job of the police, was a heavy blow to motivation. Not to mention that the IDF didn’t train for an entire year, during which it dealt only with evacuations. We have to put the IDF back in uniform. - Army Radio, Ma Boer, February 14, 2007
Yoel Marcus, left-wing commentator for Haaretz and ardent Disengagement supporter: To my great sorrow, it now seems that the extremist and pessimistic settlers were those who were right. The Palestinians do not wish to recognize Israel and have not accepted its existence. And now, with the election of Hamas, they again are not missing any opportunity to miss an opportunity…They turned the communities of Gush Katif into launch sites against residents of the Negev and particularly the town of Sderot. The warnings of Ariel Sharon and Dan Halutz that ‘If they will fire Kassams after Gaza is evacuated, Israel’s response will be harsh’ has not really frightened them. -Haaretz, November 21, 2006
Hillel Halkin, Author and political commentator: Indeed, splitting the Likud was a bad thing. But so, it is necessary to say two years later, was disengagement. Those who were for it, like myself, were wrong. Those who were against it, like Mr. Netanyahu, were right...At great economic cost and at the price of a deep inner rift in Israeli society that still has not healed, 8,000 Jewish settlers were uprooted from their homes in return for supposed benefits, none of which has materialized. Gaza has become more, not less, of a military menace to Israel; Palestinian politics and the Palestinian street have become more, not less, radicalized; Israel's public image as an occupying country has not significantly improved in the world; and further unilateral disengagement in the West Bank as a possible way of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has turned out to be a chimera, in large measure because of the failure of what was supposed to be its Gazan first stage. -New York Sun, May 29, 2007
IDF Central Commander Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh: I claimed from the beginning that there was not [a single] security consideration in the Disengagement. This was a purely political decision whose motivations will perhaps someday be investigated. - Maariv, April 19, 2007
Yair Lapid, popular TV personality and commentator: The Disengagement was not carried out despite the settlers but because of them. It never had anything to do with the Palestinians, with demographics, with a peace agreement, with the IDF or with any of the other explanations given and reviewed over and over. The drive was one thing: to teach the settlers a lesson in modesty. The Disengagement is now examined with other tools – political, strategic and demographic – and it doesn’t stand up to the test, especially while Kassams are falling on Sderot and Ashkelon. - Yediot Acharonot, October 13, 2006
We left Lebanon and the Hizbullah attack us from Lebanon. We left Gaza and the terror groups attack us from Gaza. The region that is most quiet right now is Judea and Samaria. Even the biggest leftists are faced with the creeping heretical though: perhaps it wasn’t the occupation? -Yediot Acharonot, column
Senior TV newsanchor Dan Margalit, a strong supporter of Disengagement: Ehud Olmert has lost the mandate for a withdrawal from Judea and Samaria that he received when elected on the platform of such a withdrawal. When such a withdrawal is once again presented, I will think again before choosing it at the ballot box. - Maariv, July 28, 2006
Maj.-Gen. Gershon HaCohen, who commanded the Disengagement and expressed his public agreement with it prior to implementation: What happened last year was a crime, and I was part of this crime against the Jewish nation. What is happening now – the Second Lebanon War – is the punishment for what happened last year. - on visit to bereaved family, August 24, 2006
Let me ask you a hypothetical question. What do you think America would do if Canadian soldiers were firing dozens of missiles every day into Buffalo, N.Y.? What do you think our response would be if Mexican troops for two years had launched daily rocket attacks on San Diego — and bragged about it?
can tell you, our response would look nothing like Israel’s restrained and pinpoint reactions to daily missile attacks from Gaza. We would use whatever means necessary to win the war. There would likely be numerous casualties on our enemy’s side, but we would rightfully hold those who attacked us responsible.
More than 1,300 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza since Palestinians were given control two years ago. Israelis, however, have gone to incredible lengths to stop the war against them without harming Palestinian non-combatants. But make no mistake, Israel is at war. The elected Hamas government regularly repeats its official promise to destroy Israel entirely and replace it with an Islamic state. Hamas openly took credit for killing one woman and wounding dozens more last week alone.
The Palestinian strategy is to purposely target and kill Israeli civilians. Then, when Israel goes after those launching the attacks, Palestinians claim to be the victims. If Palestinian civilians aren’t hurt in the Israeli attacks, they stage injuries and deaths.
Too often, they garner sympathy and support from a gullible or anti-Semitic media in the international community.
Israelis, themselves, are often incapable of facing the damage they inflict in self-defense. Knowing this, Islamic extremists are using their own populations as human shields.
On October 15, 2003, a convoy of clearly identified United States diplomatic vehicles was attacked by 'Palestinian' terrorists in Gaza resulting in the deaths of John Branchizio, Mark Parson, and John Marin Linde, and the injury of a fourth American.
John Branchizio, Mark Parson, and John Marin Linde were contract employees providing security to United States diplomatic personnel who were visiting Gaza in order to identify potential Palestinian candidates for scholarships under the Fulbright Program.
Senior officials of the Palestinian Authority have stated that they were aware of the identities of the Palestinian terrorists who killed John Branchizio, Mark Parson, and John Marin Linde.
Following her visit to Israel and the West Bank on February 7, 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced that she had been `assured by ['moderate' 'Palestinian'] President [Mahmoud] Abbas of the Palestinian Authority's intention to bring justice to those who murdered three American personnel in the Gaza in 2003'.
Since the bombing on October 15, 2003, United States Government personnel have been prohibited from all travel in Gaza.
The United States Rewards for Justice program is offering a reward of up to $5,000,000 for information leading to the arrest or conviction of any persons involved in the murders of John Branchizio, Mark Parson, and John Marin Linde.
The Palestinian terrorists who killed John Branchizio, Mark Parson, and John Marin Linde have still not been brought to justice.
What you've read until now are the proposed findings of Congress under H.R. 2293, a bill introduced by Representatives Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Tom Lantos (D-Cal.). The bill seeks "To require the Secretary of State to submit to Congress a report on efforts to bring to justice the Palestinian terrorists who killed John Branchizio, Mark Parson, and John Marin Linde." (Hat Tip: Daled Amos). The reports would have to be rendered within thirty days after the bill has been enacted, and every 120 days thereafter. It was referred to committee on May 14.
One would think that it would not take an Act of Congress to get the State Department to bring the murderers of its own personnel to justice. But when those murderers are 'Palestinians,' a whole different set of rules applies. Just ask the families of US ambassador to the Sudan Cleo Noel Jr. and George Curtis Moore, the American charge d'affaires at the United States Embassy in Khartoum. Noel and Moore were murdered in 1973 under the orders of Yasser Arafat. Although this was known and whispered about for many years, it was just a few months ago that the State Department finally acknowledged the truth. Arafat, having been wined and dined by the US government for years - and especially by former President Bill Clinton - will only face Heavenly justice for Noel's murder.
Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner has written to United States Attorney General John Ashcroft alerting him to the fact the Palestinian Security Service commander assigned to investigate the October bombing attack on American personnel in Gaza was very likely the terrorist who planned it.
Gaza Commander Col. Rashid Abu Shabak's has been entrusted by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation with hunting down the terrorist cell responsible for the October 15, 2003 bombing which left three Americans dead.
The three Americans, John Branchizio, 37, of Texas, John Linde Jr., 30, of Missouri, and Mark Parsons, 31, of New Jersey, were security personnel guarding a convoy of diplomatic vehicles which was attacked by Palestinian Arab terrorists who detonated a powerful roadside bomb at the Beit Hanoun junction in Gaza. The Americans were visiting Gaza to interview candidates for Fulbright scholarships.
Darshan-Leitner's letter accuses the Palestinian commander of being the mastermind behind numerous terror attacks perpetrated by Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization in Gaza. Shurat HaDin urges the Department of Justice to investigate Abu Shabak's involvement in prior roadside bombings.
Not surprisingly, there have been no arrests made by the Palestinians in the current investigation.
According to the Shurat HaDin letter, Abu Shabak, a protege of Palestinian leader Mohammed Dahlan, has an extensive terrorist past. Abu Shabak, along with Dahlan are the leading suspects in several other Gaza terror attacks.
In her letter, Darshan-Leitner writes: "It is a disgraceful that the individual assigned by the Palestinian Authority to investigate the murders of Branchizio, Linde and Parsons is himself a leading terrorist suspected of numerous other roadside bombings in Gaza. If the United States is sincere about making arrests then it must not tolerate Rashid Abu Shabak heading up this crucial inquiry. The similarities between the October 15th roadside bombing and the roadside bombing of the Kfar Darom school bus in November 2000 cannot be ignored. We urge the Department of Justice to initiate its own investigation of Abu Shabak and his role in prior Gaza terror attacks, some of which have seriously injured American citizens."
Why is the State Department covering for Dahlan and Abu Shbak? First, because the US and the EU have decided that they will talk to 'non-Hamas' members of the current 'Palestinian unity' government. One of those non-Hamas members is Muhammed Dahlan.
Third, because Rice's 'benchmarks plan' depends heavily on Dahlan taking control of the security situation in Gaza.
Fourth, because if the State Department admits that Fatah is behind the murders of John Branchizio, Mark Parson, and John Marin Linde, it couldn't very well continue holding 'political horizon' talks with Fatah, could it?
State Department employees beware: If you are murdered in the line of duty and it's too inconvenient politically to bring your murderers to justice, they may be ignored. Pleasant thought, no?
Last week, I blogged an article by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal about kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston. Stephens accused the BBC of operating with 'political impunity' in Gaza, and generally accused the BBC's reporters - including Johnston - of wearing their sympathies for the 'Palestinian' cause on their sleeves.
But the article goes on to propose that our reasons for this complacency were as a result of our institutional pro-Palestinian views which meant we felt able to operate in the Palestinian authority with “political impunity”. He would appear to be suggesting that Alan was a Palestinian sympathiser and therefore we felt he would be protected by that. The author throws in the few other BBC correspondent names to stack up his case – saying Barbara Plett and Orla Guerin had also made their views known to the public.
He alleges we believed this stance gave us “institutional advantages in terms of access and protection” and that is why “we felt comfortable posting Alan in a place no other news agency dared to go”.
Aside from the lack of sympathy shown by the Wall Street Journal, who must have asked themselves a few questions over the appalling tragedy of Daniel Pearl, it also happens to be totally unfounded. I would have thought the writer would have attempted to establish some facts before committing to the page. Had he put a call into the BBC he might have discovered that we had been by no means complacent about Alan’s safety.
Today, Tom Gross returns the issue back to where it belongs: the BBC's Middle East coverage. And he also introduces an interesting new theory as to why Johnston may have been grabbed:
Stephens’s view, however, is widely accepted among reporters covering the Middle East, including myself. It is common knowledge that Johnston, who was abducted in Gaza on March 12, was one of the most pro-Palestinian reporters in the region. However, sources tell me that some in Hamas may have felt that his reporting had become too pro-Fatah, which is one possible factor in his abduction by a Hamas-connected group, and also a possible reason why (despite the BBC’s repeated claims that the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority is doing everything in its power to secure Johnston’s release) in fact the Palestinian Authority has been doing next to nothing to help release the kidnapped BBC man.
Unfortunately, if the BBC has not realized it until now, I don't think they're going to realize it any time soon. And even if they do realize it in other parts of the world, that won't apply to Israel. Israel has a special place in the BBC's gallery of enemies and it's not going to change anytime soon.
Peres: Presidency last chance to servewin an election
The inevitable happened today.
Vice Premier Shimon Peres threw his hat into the ring as the KadimaAchora party's candidate for President. While the position is largely ceremonial, if Peres were elected, he would be ensured of being in the public eye for another several years. But Peres has never won a national election, and it seems unlikely he will start doing so now.
Nevertheless, the effort to elect Peres may be doomed from the outset, as senior Kadima sources have already expressed doubt over the likelihood of a Peres victory.
Two Kadima officials, former coalition chairman MK Avigdor Yitzhaki and ex-justice minister Haim Ramon, have said that Peres might not be able to garner enough support ahead of the June 13 election.
"The two of them are able to express their doubts openly. There are many in the party who don't think that Peres is really the right choice," said one Kadima MK.
"A lot of MKs might wait and feel out their options over the next week."
MK Colette Avital (Labor) and MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) began their official campaigns nearly a month ago.
Rivlin's camp said that in addition to the Likud, Israel Beiteinu, and NU-NRP parties, he also enjoyed the support of an unnamed Gil Pensioners lawmaker, MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) and MK Zeev Elkin (Kadima.)
Avital, meanwhile, has secured the support of the Labor and Meretz parties, MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima,) and several Arab MKs. An aide close to Avital added that at least five Kadima MKs who publicly support Peres are planning on voting for Avital in the secret ballot.
Solodkin has hinted that as much as a third of the Kadima MKs could swing over to support Avital.
"She will surprise people. She has much more support in Kadima than people think," said Solodkin.
The presidential elections are the only Knesset vote that are conducted via secret ballot.
In the last election in July 2000, several Shas MKs who promised to vote for Peres presumably did not do so, and the Likud's Moshe Katsav became the first president not nominated by the Labor Party in a 63-57 vote.
MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima), who has actively campaigned for Peres, tried to pass a bill several months ago that would change the presidential elections to an open vote. Hasson said that he was pushing the bill to prevent the type of "double-crossing" that happened in the last election. The "Peres Bill" failed in its second reading.
In this election, it appeared that Peres's only chance for victory rested again with Shas and its 12 seats. While Shas MKs said that their party was "favorably considering" backing Peres, no decision has yet been made.
"The election is still several weeks away and there are a lot of factors to consider," said one Shas MK.
I saw an analysis that claimed that Peres needs to get all of Shas' votes plus 90% of Kadima'sAchora's to win this election. It's not likely to happen.
The picture at the top of this post is of me with the next President of the State of Israel (God willing). It was taken in Rivlin's office when he was Speaker of the Knesset. Unlike 99% of the politicians in this country, Ruby Rivlin is honest and a decent human being. He deserves to be President much more than Peres or Colette Avital (who was consul general in New York for many years and used to get into a fight every year with the post-parade concert organizers because she's a leftist). (Thanks to David in Houston, Texas for introducing me to Rivlin and taking the picture).
They may have described her as a spinster and as the 'dark lady,' made sickening racist comments against her, and drew cartoons of her pregnant with a monkey and as a black raven, but Condi Rice's obsession with the 'Palestinians' continues. According to a report in today's Washington Post, Condi is warning Israel that a 'peace process' with the Syrians is no substitute for a 'Palestinian' statereichlet. Not that the Syrians are really interested in making peace either....
"My understanding is that it is the view of Israelis, and certainly our view, that the Syrians are engaged in behavior right now that is destabilizing to the region," Rice said to reporters traveling with her on a European tour that will also include stops in Vienna and Madrid.
The Palestinian issue "is at the core of a lot of problems in the region," Rice added. She said "there is no substitute for trying to get to the place where the Palestinians finally have their state and the Israelis finally have a neighbor who can live in peace and security with them."
The "Israeli-Palestinian track is extremely important" because it "unlocks the key" to "further engagement between the Arabs and the Israelis," Rice said.
Rice's peace efforts this year have been stymied by multiple factors. She has attempted to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who favors peace talks, against the legislature headed by Hamas, the anti-Israeli militant group. But in February, Abbas agreed to a fragile unity government between his Fatah party and Hamas.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has abysmal public approval ratings because of his handling of last summer's war in Lebanon, limiting his willingness to make concessions. Olmert has frustrated U.S. officials by seeming to be increasingly indecisive.
On Rice's last trip to Israel more than two months ago, she announced that Olmert and Abbas had agreed to meet every two weeks. But only one such session has been held since then. Aides to the two men said Tuesday that the leaders would meet next week.
I have to wonder how long Condi's admiration for Brent Scowcroft - her old boss at the National Security Council - will continue to overcome the lack of interest and appreciation that the 'Palestinians' have for her efforts.
In a brief snippet on Israel Television's Mabat newscast just a few minutes ago, current Transportation Minister and former Defense Minister and IDF Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz said that Hezbullah is 'right under the border' with Lebanon.
More details are supposed to follow on the radio program that follows the radio simulcast of the news.
According to the Times of London, it was the Catholic church that obtained a visa to Argentina for Eichmann. For many years there has been a controversy over whether the wartime Pope, Pius XII, did all he could to prevent the Holocaust. Currently, the Church is in the process of investigating whether Pius should be turned into a Saint (what they call beatification). The ADL has urged that the process be halted until more research is done on Pius' actions during the war. Pius XII was Pope until his death in 1958, which would mean that Eichmann's passport and visa were issued on his watch.
Israel's Hebrew 'Palestinian' daily is referring to Eichmann's passport as a 'fake.' The Argentinian authorities certainly seemed to believe it was real. It had a fake name, but it apparently was a valid travel document, and there is no reason to believe that the Red Cross or the Catholic church (whose "help" he "enlisted") were not aware of his real identity.
'Palestinians' shooting missiles from apartment buildings
At the Philadelphia Bulletin, David Bedein reports that the 'Palestinians' are shooting missiles at Sderot from atop Gaza apartment buildings in the hope that Israel will have no choice but to retaliate and cause civilian casualties:
Missile attacks on Israel from Gaza over the past two weeks have emanated from populated areas in Gaza.
Last Monday, The Sderot Media Center filmed a missile fired from the rooftop of an apartment building in Gaza (which can be seen [below CiJ])....
As a result, the top brass of the Israeli army has given orders to wipe out all missile launch pads. That order will mean that it is a matter of time before there are massive Arab civilian casualties that will occur because the terrorists are shooting the rockets from within civilian areas.
A left-wing Jewish group known as Betselem, which is funded by European governments and by the American, Canadian and British supporters of the NEW ISRAEL FUND, has warned the IDF not to kill civilians, saying that this would be a war crime. This follows quieter Betselem statements that harboring terrorists is also a war crime.
U.S. State Department spokespeople and U.N. spokespeople have also warned Israel against attacking civilians.
However, the Bulletin interviewed the head of the IDF Code of Ethics committee, Prof. Assa Kasher, and asked him if the ethical code of the IDF allows it to neutralize a missile launcher if missiles are fired from the roof of an apartment building, even if civilian casualties will occur as a result of that attack.
Kasher's answer was "yes," if the missiles continue to be launched from these Gaza roof tops.
Two weeks ago, on May 15, the 'Palestinians' celebrated their naqba (catastrophe). They observe 'Naqba Day' on the date of Israel's declaration of independence on the Gregorian calendar. But that's not the real 'Palestinian' catastrophe.
Hat Tip: Nathan in Teaneck, New Jersey
In the early morning of May 15, Hamas used mortars, missiles and machine guns to attack a Presidential Guard contingent belonging to Fatah that was stationed near the Karni border crossing with Israel. Hamas then hit a jeep carrying Fatah reinforcements, and ensured their targets were dead by shooting them in the head at close range.
When the shooting was over, 10 Fatah members were dead, with a similar number wounded.
Suddenly aware that their unprovoked massacre may have gone too far, Hamas claimed it was Israel who had actually killed the Fatah people and threatened any journalist who dared report otherwise.
Then, in a truly perverse twist, Hamas launched more than 20 rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot "to take revenge" for the massacre they themselves had committed.
Given the overwhelming evidence and eyewitness accounts of those who were there, it was clear to most Palestinians that Hamas had committed the massacre. Still, when trying to explain the cause of the current infighting, several Palestinians, including Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, insisted that Israel was somehow to blame.
This is the real Palestinian Naqba, the disaster at the root of Palestinian suffering since even before 1948.
Instead of taking responsibility for their role in shaping their destiny, on virtually every occasion, the Palestinians have twisted their worldview to put the blame solely on Israel.
There is no self-awareness, not to mention self-criticism. No sense of accountability.
I suppose I can't ignore it forever. But I do want to start out by saying that never in the history of this country has so much attention been paid to why an election was receiving so little attention. The weekend media was full of it.
The Labor party's rules stipulate that any time they lose a national election (which is most of the last thirty years), they have to hold a 'primary' for the party leadership within fourteen months after the election. And so on Monday, exactly fourteen months after they finished second behind KadimaAchora in the national election, Labor held a primary. There were five candidates. In the order of their finish, last to first: Danny Yatom, who in my eyes was the only candidate even slightly worthy of consideration; Ophir Pines-Paz or Paz-Pines, who is a principled leftist and probably would have taken Labor out of the government; defenseless 'defense minister' AmirComrade Peretz, who now wants to do to the economy what he did to the military, and who drew about 22% of the vote; Ami Ayalon, a former head of the General Security Service and admitted pathological liar, who knowingly let a 19-year old girl sit in jail for a crime she did not commit; and Ehud Barak, who managed to run a campaign in which he made two public appearances and avoided all questions about his leading the army's flight from Lebanon in 2000, an event that led directly to last summer's war.
Since neither Barak nor Ayalon obtained the 40% minimum required to win outright, there is a run-off between the two of them on June 12. It is presumed that Comrade Peretz's minions will do what he tells them to do (which may be a big assumption, especially in the case of his non-Jewish supporters) and the latest rumor has Peretz endorsing Ayalon in turn for a 'plum portfolio' in the current government, which Ayalon has no way of guaranteeing Peretz and which Peretz denies demanding.
For those who have forgotten, on May 4, Ayalon ruled out joining a coalition led by Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert in light of the Winograd Commission interim report. That promise is of course forgotten. If you read this article, you can get a feeling for everything that is wrong with Israeli politics:
"This is our chance to join Ami Ayalon and give Labor a chance to defeat [Likud chairman Binyamin] Netanyahu."
An Ayalon adviser said Peretz should endorse him because his socioeconomic policies were similar and because "Peretz knows that Ami, unlike Barak, will keep his word."
Sources close to Barak questioned the value of an endorsement from Peretz and said he would not go out of his way to draft Peretz's support. They said Barak was more likely to try to divide the Peretz camp by winning the endorsement of Science, Culture and Sport Minister Ghaleb Majadle, who led Peretz to victory in the Arab sector.
"Ayalon can make whatever deal he wants," a Barak associate said. "The voters are smart enough that any trick he plays will come back to him as a boomerang."
But other Barak backers said they still hoped Peretz would endorse Barak, because Labor was more likely to remain in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government if he won. Labor Secretary-General Eitan Cabel, a Barak supporter, expressed confidence that he could persuade Peretz to endorse him. Cabel's brother Boaz is Peretz's political adviser.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has made an effort to distance himself from the Labor race, called Peretz on Tuesday to congratulate him for his unexpectedly strong finish. Olmert praised Peretz for an "impressive achievement" that proved that he was "made of serious stuff."
2. Ayalon will win the primary. He will join Olmert's government as defense minister (a position for which he is at least somewhat qualified) in place of Peretz. Peretz will make a fuss about wanting the finance ministry and will settle for some sort of enlarged social affairs ministry in place of Yitzchak Herzog. Herzog will be mollified with some lesser position. The Finance Ministry will go to Shimon Peres if he loses (yet again) the June 13 Presidential election (more on that another time). Otherwise, it will go to Meir Shitreet of KadimaAchora. An article in Monday's JPost that claimed that Netanyahu will take the Finance Ministry in a national unity government under Olmert is pure fantasy.
3. Ehud K. Olmert will laugh all the way to the bank (if he doesn't fall asleep first) - at least until the final Winograd report comes out in July or thereabouts. Once that report comes out, we will see whether Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas and (those within) Labor (who have presented some evidence of having principles - like Ophir Pines-Paz, Avishai Braverman and Shelly Yacimovich) stay in the government or have the courage to bring it down. I'm not holding my breath.
In summary, this is part of what Caroline Glick had to say about the Labor party primary. She got it right as usual:
Rather than relate to the threats that Israel faces, they showed Israel their faces. They preened before the Labor voters, regaling them with tales of their glory and wisdom. And then each assembled a star-studded array of retired generals and party intellectuals and reporters to tell us how wonderful each of them are and how shallow and corrupt all of the other candidates are.
They attributed the stature of strategy to bromides about their commitment to peace, and then spoke about how and at what price they will remain in Ehud Olmert's government.
THEIR WILLINGNESS to remain in the Olmert government was key. Because that was what this primary was all about: acquiring and preserving power - for the candidates, for the Labor party and for the Israeli Left as a whole. The underlying theme of the five-month long Labor primary was that power must be maintained at all costs. The party must remain in the government because more frightening than Iran or Syria or Hamas or Hizbullah is the specter of Knesset elections.
Those elections, the candidates, their spinmeisters and media comrades all agree must be avoided because everyone knows what elections will bring. Allowing the nation to determine its government will bring Likud and Binyamin Netanyahu to power. Allowing the nation to choose it leaders means allowing the nation to reject them.
The fact that today the sole idea around which the Labor party stands united is the need to prevent Likud and Netanyahu from gaining power makes it indistinguishable from the ruling Kadima candidates list. The lengths that Kadima is willing to go to remain in power were made clear in a little item in Haaretz last week.
THE NEWSPAPER'S political commentator Yossi Verter reported on a meeting that took place at the home of a rabbi in the south who has gained a following of politicians for his ability to predict the future. A cabinet minister from Kadima was present at the meeting where the rabbi predicted that a terrible war will break out within the next month to three months. The rabbi then consoled his guests by claiming that the war will save Olmert's government.
As Verter put it, "The minister left the meeting feeling at once pessimistic and optimistic: Pessimistic because there will be war, optimistic because according to the rabbi, war means survival, that is, Olmert is sitting pretty." And unfortunately, on at least one count, the rabbi is certainly right. The probability of war in the near future is high. The fact that this is the case screams out from every quarter.
But Olmert remained defiant in the face of the scathing criticism, saying that the Winograd report called for "implementing the conclusions of the war but not for heads to roll."
"I did not go to war hastily and I believed then, as I believe now, that this was the necessary decision under the circumstances," he said. "I didn't avoid responsibilities and I recognize the failures and successes of the war."
The prime minister said that there are "no easy wars and no victories without a price," adding that the "price of the war was one worth paying."
The prime minister then spoke of what he claimed were the war's achievements.
"I was in the North two weeks ago and the IDF commanders showed me the positions at which Hizbullah used to aim their weapons. That no longer happens."
Olmert said that UN Resolution 1551 had been implemented. "Hizbullah has withdrawn from the border and the Lebanese army has been deployed in southern Lebanon."
The prime minister quoted UNIFIL commander Maj.-Gen. Claudio Graziano as saying: "I want Israelis to understand that the situation in the North has changed. There are no Hizbullah posts, just posters, and they have been replaced by Italian and French tanks. It is the quietest period on the northern border in 40 years."
Olmert added that UNIFIL had reported finding hundreds of Hizbullah bunkers that were completely destroyed.
The prime minister also quoted New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who said that as a result of the war, Hizbullah had been banished from the northern border and that the group had suffered a "massive strategic defeat."
"Lebanon is now weaker but Israel is stronger," Olmert quoted Friedman as saying.
Olmert went on to say that he was proud of his decision to go to war and to react strongly to the kidnapping of the two reservists, the killing of eight soldiers and to the fire on the northern border. "The decision was correct and unavoidable," he said. Adding that there was "no war that was more just."
The prime minister ended by deflecting criticism from the IDF. "The army is the source of our pride and the basis of our strength," he said. "The responsibility for the war lies with the government and with me who leads it. I am responsible for the war's failures and successes."
Olmert spent about two hours deciding whether to go to war. Literally. The ground invasion was too little too late, and the aerial bombing worried too much about inflicting civilian casualties to be effective. Most of the IDF casualties were in the ground invasion.
The government completely abandoned the residents of the north. Those who could go elsewhere under their own power did. The others remained in shelters. And Tom Friedman is an expert on nothing.
Before Olmert's speech, several MKs called on him to quit.
MK Gideon Sa'ar (Likud), said that Olmert had "failed as a leader and MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) quipped that the prime minister had created "a new philosophy" by which the more a leader fails, the more he must remain in his position to fix his mistakes.
I would say that Steinitz hit the nail on the head. So did Netanyahu:
Following Olmert's speech, Netanyahu said that the aims of the war, which were described to him by the prime minister, had not been achieved since the reservists were still in captivity and Hizbullah had not been disarmed.
He said that Israel has lost its deterrence and that its was now faced with enemies on three fronts who were continuously rearming.
"The nation has told the government something very simple. You failed, take responsibility and go home," said Netanyahu.
Unfortunately, the consensus seems to be that after the Labor party primary yesterday - which left a runoff between Ehud Barak and Ami Ayalon with Comrade Peretz as kingmaker - the government going home is even less likely to happen. But that's a topic for my post about the Labor party primary, which I've been avoiding all day long.... (I've also been busy working today, but that's another story).
As some of you may recall, in addition to this winter's controversy over the Mughrabi Gate ramp [pictured at top left. CiJ], there is still an unresolved controversy here over a proposal by the Simon Wiesenthal Center of Los Angeles to construct its Museum of Tolerance in part of the area that once was the Mamilla cemetery outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. Yesterday, Israel's public security minister Avi Dichter ordered a stop to Muslim burials on the Temple Mount which would have prevented Israel from ever excavating the site for remains of the two holy Temples. Today, surprisingly, the Supreme Court upheld Dichter's ban. Of course, since the Wakf has already carted away hundreds of tons of 'dirt' from the Temple Mount when it built a mosque in the Solomon's Stables area a number of years ago, much of what was there has already been lost. But at least what is there will apparently be preserved. That is, if anyone is willing to risk a Muslim riot by going onto the Mount to preserve it.
The High Court of Justice has upheld a decision by Public Security Minister Avi Dichter to ban Muslim burials on the grounds immediately southeast of the Temple Mount.
The area, which borders the eastern wall of the Temple Mount [that would be in the back corner of the wall in the picture. The area off in the distance is the Mount of Olives. CiJ], is believed to contain important archaeological artifacts from the First Temple era and is designated as part of a national park.
A petition was filed in court by the Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount when it was discovered that Muslims were using the site as a burial ground.
Supporters of the committee and its petition included left-wing author A.B. Yehoshua, Hebrew University Jewish philosophy professor Avi Ravitsky, former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Shomron and senior archaeologists such as Gabriel Barkai, Eilat Mazar, Ehud Netzer, Ronny Reich and Ephraim Stern.
Police have been blocking Muslims from burying their dead at the site for several months, having identified dozens of plots sold by Silwan elders, who did not own the area, to Muslim families for their departed loved ones. At least 21 of the graves are occupied, 39 are empty and 35 other plots have not yet been opened. The committee has demanded in its petition that the unused gravesites be filled in.
“Muslim burial on the site, which was never a cemetery in the past, could end any possibility of excavating the area in the future, as has been done at the foot of the southern wall and the bottom part of the Western Wall” explained archaeologist Gabriel Barkai in the petition to block the burials.
Police had initially feared that stopping the burials would spark riots and other violence by Muslims. Jerusalem Police Chief Ilan Franco admitted to the court he had iniitially refused to escort city inspectors to hang up notices prohibiting use of the site after Muslims continued to build mausoleums, fearing the reaction by Islamic worshippers.
Repairs being made to a footbridge leading to the entrance of the Temple Mount at the Rambam (Mughrabi) Gate ignited days of violent protests across the country and massive demonstrations in Muslim communities worldwide.
Muslims dumped tons of soil containing priceless artifacts into a riverbed in 1999 while digging a huge pit in the Temple Mount to build an entrance to Solomon’s Stables. The police did not act to stop the illegal digs despite numerous petitions and court orders to halt any such activity.
The area forms a seamline between construction from the Hasmonean and Herodian eras. Remains from the First Temple and 8th century B.C.E. sealing rings stamped “For the King” have been found in past excavations at the site, including one by British archaeologist Charles Warren 140 years ago.
I somehow doubt we have heard the last of this story. Look for Muslim riots to 'protect al-Aqsa' in the very near future.
I remember seeing this video when it came out in 2002, but Palestine Media Watch has just posted it online and for those who haven't seen it, you simply must to understand the extent to which these children's minds have been warped.
Two 11-year-old Palestinian girls talking about Shahada and describing it as a primary ideal and personal goal. They explain that "all Palestinian children" view Shahada as more worthwhile than living because of its promised grand Afterlife.
The alleged murderer of Rabbi Binyamin Zev Kahane and his wife Talia HY"D, the son and daughter-in-law of Rabbi Meir Kahane HY"D, was arrested today in Ramallah. The terrorist, Khaled Shawish, head of the Tanzim in Ramallah, was arrested in a joint operation by the IDF and the General Security Services (GSS) for the December 2002 murder.
Shawish was also responsible for dozens of other attacks, including suicide bombings in Jerusalem as well as other shooting attacks on roads in the area, that left a total of five Israelis dead and dozens wounded.
Officials said that Shawish, 26, has been wanted by the IDF since 2000 and has spent most of his time in hiding near the Mukata. In 2001, Shawish was wounded during clashes with the IDF.
Security officials said that Shawish was a dominant force within the Palestinian terror infrastructure and added that his arrest was a success for IDF and the Shin Bet. He was arrested while in possession of a gun.
The Al Aksa commander - a senior officer with the Palestinian National Security Force - was also a bomb maker who taught Tanzim operatives how to manufacture explosives and explosive belts and how to lay roadside bombs. He planned to kidnap both civilians and IDF troops.
In March 2002, Shawish dispatched a suicide bomber who exploded on King George St. in Jerusalem killing three people and wounding 35. In February 2002 he dispatched a suicide bomber that wounded two people.
Too bad that the government will probably trade him in a 'prisoner exchange' sometime down the road.
'Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades' has 'Israeli Arab' terror cell in Jerusalem
A 'spokesman' for 'moderate' 'Palestinian President' Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen's Fatah's 'al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades' told WorldNetDaily today that his terror group has a terror cell based in Jerusalem that consists of 'Israeli Arabs' who hold Israeli citizenship and carry blue Israeli identity cards just like Israeli Jews. It's the same cell that carried out Saturday night's terror attack along the periphery road. The problem is exacerbated because the number of 'Israeli Arabs living in Jerusalem has increased over the past several months, as 'Palestinians' are trying to move into Jerusalem to be inside the 'security fence.'
"We have Israeli Arab brothers who are members of the Brigades who live in Israel and will make in the coming days and weeks shootings and suicide bombings," said the Brigades leader, who spoke on the condition his name be withheld.
"Even in the case that there will be a cease-fire in Gaza, will keep attacking Israel. They will see the importance of our cells in Jerusalem with more attacks in the near future," the Brigades leader said.
The Brigades leader told WND the purported cells of Israeli Arabs living within the Jewish state are "full members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. They are ready to attack at any time."
Yuval Diskin, director of Israel's General Security Services, recently warned of Israeli Arab involvement in terror. Diskin told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in March that Israeli Arabs constituted a "strategic threat" to Israel, according to Israel's Maariv newspaper.
The GSS released a statement in response to Diskin's quotes warning of "subversive activity by elements seeking to harm the character of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state even when this activity is conducted with the tools that democracy provides."
A recent poll by the University of Haifa showed half of Israeli Arabs believe Hezbollah's kidnapping last July of two Israeli troops was justified. The same poll showed more than a quarter of Israel's Arab citizens believe the Holocaust never happened and 89 percent said they viewed Israel's bombing of Lebanon last summer as a war crime while only 44 percent said they saw Hezbollah's rocket attacks against Israeli cities as a crime.
Multiple reports in the Israeli media last summer found Hezbollah flags flying from some Israeli Arab villages in the north of the country, even when the areas were smashed by Hezbollah rockets.
But give the 'Palestinians' a state reichlet in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and they'll leave us alone in the rest of the country. Right Feigele?
Hamas teaches 'Palestinian' children to idolize Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and Yihye Ayash
Sheikh Ahmad Yassin was killed in an Israeli air strike in 2004 after bringing about the death of hundreds of Israelis. Yihye Ayash - also known as the 'engineer' - was a 'Palestinian' bomb maker who murdered hundreds of Israelis and met his 72 virgins when he answered a cellular telephone call in 1996. In this video from Hamas' al-Aqsa television - vintage 2007 - 'Palestinian' children are taught to idolize the late Sheikh Yassin and Yihye Ayash:
A Hamas video encouraging the participation of children in terrorism has been broadcast on Hamas TV. The video, which focuses on Ahmed Yassin, Hamas founder and religious leader killed by Israel, portrays young children as the continuation of Yassin. Children are shown in uniforms, holding rifles and participating in military training. The lyrics stress the children's connection to Yassin: "Even though they killed our [Ahmad] Yassin, the land will grow a thousand Ahmad."
'Palestinian' child abuse - kids imitate Nasrallah and Yassin
This is a MEMRI file video that was recently posted to YouTube. It speaks for itself. The kids in this video, who were probably 6-7 in 2001 (while Ehud Barak, who is running in the Labor party primary today based on his 'military record,' was fleeing Lebanon and trying to give the country away) are 12-13 today and likely in the vanguard of the stone throwers and car swarmers, waiting their chance to blow up.
But give them a statereichlet and all the world's problems will be solved.
Achille Lauro hijacker holed up in Nahr al-Bared 'camp' in Lebanon
Lebanese blogger Ya Libnan reports that former Achille Lauro hijacker Bassam al-Ashker is among the 'Palestinian' terrorists holed up in the Nahr al-Bared 'refugee camp' in Tripoli, Lebanon. (For those who have forgotten, the Achille Lauro cruise ship was hijacked by 'Palestinian' terrorists on October 7, 1985 and wheelchair-bound American Leon Klinghofer was eventually thrown overboard by the terrorists and drowned off the coast of Syria).
Bassam al-Ashker, now 39, told reporters by telephone that he is now a militiaman for the mainstream Fatah faction of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and saw it as his duty to brave the fighting to help the thousands of trapped civilians.
Ashker was just 17 when he took part in the assault on the Achille Lauro by commandos of the Palestine Liberation Front of Abu Abbas ... in which some 450 passengers were held hostage for several days and a wheelchair-bound U.S. tourist was killed.
He told reporters he had retained his radical anti-Western politics and, after fleeing Italy in 1991 following his release on parole from nearly six years in jail, spent 14 years in Iraq before moving to Lebanon's Nahr al-Bared refugee camp.
"I organize the training of young Palestinian recruits who we send to fight the Americans alongside the Iraqi resistance," Ashker told reporters. "I have even fought them myself in Fallujah and Ramadi," two rebel bastions west of Baghdad.
Despite his anti-Western views, Ashker insisted he had no link with the Islamist fighters of fringe militant group Fatah al-Islam who are under siege by the Lebanese army and stand accused of using camp residents as human shields.
"They have certainly proved their military prowess," he said referring to the fighting of the past week in which 33 Lebanese soldiers but only 25 of the group's fighters were among the 78 dead.
"If they had used it to fight Israel, I would have been the first to join them, but they are fanatics who believe only in religion and have no regard of the consequences of their actions on civilians," he said.
"Not along time ago, Muslim clerics reminded them that it was wrong to attack Palestinians or Lebanese but they retorted that their religion took primacy over everything else."
Palestinian Media Watch has a new video from Hamas children's television. Simply appalling....
Hamas TV continues active promotion of Shahada (martyrdom) directed at children. The new video clip, broadcast Sunday, follows the growth of a young Palestinian boy from a child into a Hamas Shahid – Martyr for Allah. The video shows the young child going to the mosque, praying and reading from the Quran, and then holding an automatic rifle together with the Quran as he envisions future participation in violent acts.
The child then matures into a Hamas fighter, is shown participating in battle against Israel, and eventually dying as a Shahid as the choir sings, “The pure blood will produce honor and glory.”
This video directs Palestinian children to aspire to Shahada, reiterating a recurring music video theme of seven years that Shahada is expected of children. “Honor and glory” and "Shahada is sweet" are some of these messages specifically packaged for children on Hamas TV and Fatah controlled PA TV.
PA schoolbooks likewise promote Shahada death among children. One example: "O heroes... Do not talk yourselves into flight. Your enemies seek life while you seek death. These drops of blood that gush from your bodies will be transformed tomorrow into blazing red meteors that will fall down upon the heads of your enemies." [Reading and Texts Part II, Grade 8 (2002), p. 16]
The following is an excerpt from the new clip on Hamas TV:
"We have come! Machine-gun and Quran in our hands, [visual: see child holding machine-gun and Quran] We’ve grown and so has the right, In the eyes of the wronged, [visual: see child turn into adult and attack Israel] … We swore to retrieve the land, The pure blood will produce Honor and glory. [visual: see him (child now turned adult) shot dead as Shahid - Martyr] [Al-Aqsa TV, May 27, 2007]
The two 'Palestinians' who carried out a terror attack in 'East' Jerusalem last night were Arab residents of Jerusalem's Jebbel Mukhaber neighborhood, which is near East Talpiyot. Arabs who are permanent residents of Jerusalem are granted permanent residency rights and carry blue, Israeli identification cards (just like Mrs. Carl and I carry). According to Haaretz:
The incident occurred at around 8:30 P.M., when Awisat and Shihirat approached a member of the Border Police and a security guard who were standing at a roadblock near the Jerusalem periphery highway, near the Sheikh Saad neighborhood southeast of the capital. The Palestinians then opened fire on them with a pistol at close range.
Isam Abu-Rish, the Border Guard officer wounded in Saturday's shooting attack in Jerusalem, knows things could have been much worse.
"I was at the checkpoint with a few of the other guards when two ordinary looking guys showed up," he recalled from his hospital bed on Sunday. "There was nothing suspicious about them, and then all of a sudden one of them shot me in the back, from point-blank range.
"I pulled away, and I saw he was trying to take another shot, but his gun jammed, and I shot him. The other terrorist started running at me, so I shot him too.
"It was like something out of a movie," he added. "They were even shouting 'Allahu Akbar'."
Rish said he has every intention of returning to full service as a Border Guard offices when he recovers.
Police are still investigating whether a 'Palestinian' bystander who was shot and killed in the crossfire was actually a third terrorist.
Haaretz notes that shooting 'incidents' directed at security guards occur almost weekly on the periphery road around Jerusalem.
Sderot residentIsraelicritically woundedmurdered in Kassam attack
Israel Radio reports that a Sderot resident was critically wounded in a Kassam attack this morning. The Jerusalem Post reports that the resident is a 36-year old man. According to Israel Radio, the man's car suffered a direct hit by a Kassam rocket, with shrapnel exploding throughout the car. The man lost control of his car, which crashed into a wall, inflating the air bags. He managed to open the door of his car and crawl out, after which he collapsed.
The "Home Front" instructions provide that drivers are to leave their cars immediately upon hearing the "Code Red" alarm. It is not yet clear why the person in question did not do so.
A total of four rockets have been fired at Sderot thus far today. Earlier this morning a rocket damaged a new community center. Another rocket landed near a swimming pool. The children of Sderot are being bused 'outside Kassam range' for school today. It's not clear to me what 'Kassam range' they have in mind.
Update 11:25 AM
The man described above has now died of his wounds. He was a resident of Rishon LeTziyon, and not Sderot, which makes it as likely as not that he did not know what the procedures were upon hearing the "Code Red" alarm (if he even knew what a "Code Red" alarm sounds like - I don't). Rishon LeTziyon is a suburb of Tel Aviv.
In testimony on Wednesday before Gary Ackerman (D-NY)'s House Subcommittee on the Middle East, Lieutenant General Keith Dayton admitted that the United States is 'helping' 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen's Fatah.
"This chaotic situation is why the USSC [United States security coordinator] is focused on the legal, legitimate security forces in our attempts to reestablish law and order," said Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, the USCC working with the Palestinians, in testimony Wednesday before the House Subcommittee on the Middle East. But he added, "The legal security forces of the Palestinian president still lack what they need to achieve … law and order."
The State Department has in the past denied that America's non-lethal training of the presidential guard of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah - largely aimed at securing the Karni border crossing and protecting Abbas and other VIPs - amounted to the US taking sides in Fatah's fight with Hamas.
But at the hearing Dayton highlighted the US role in helping Fatah as it faces attacks from the Islamic radicals in Hamas.
"We are leading, through the acts of this Congress, the international effort to possibly affect this worrisome situation," he said. "The security assistance plan that you have authorized me to just begin to implement is pointing the way forward for all international and regional allies."
Congress recently allowed $59 million to be used to further Dayton's efforts at training the presidential guard of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.
And Dayton is pushing for more:
Dayton pushed the case for further US assistance to the Palestinian guard, despite months of efforts on the ground that have seemed to have little effect against the well-disciplined and well-supplied Hamas.
"We are entering a rough patch," Dayton acknowledged, "but all is not lost and our regional partners share that sentiment. However, it is critical that those who support the legitimate authority and forces represented by President Abbas receive the critical assistance they need."
In case any of you have forgotten who Abu Mazen's 'Presidential Guard'Force 17 is, go here and follow the links.
In response to a question about Israel's security raised by subcommittee ranking member Mike Pence (R-Indiana), Dayton assured the members, "Nothing we do to strengthen the Palestinian's security capability will be targeted against Israel … The presidential guard will not become a threat to Israel."
As Yogi Berra would say: It's deja vu all over again.
What really goes on at the protests against the 'security fence'
Every Friday, 'Palestinians' and 'international activists' protest against the construction of Israel's 'security fence' at places throughout Judea and Samaria. Yes, there are places (like Bil'in near Kiryat Sefer) where the protests often turn violent. On the other hand, there are places like Umm Salamona....
Two Palestinians and an international activist, right, play football during a protest at the construction site of Israel's separation barrier in the village of Umm Salamona, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday May 25, 2007.
With Hezbullah Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah warning the Lebanese army to stay out of the Nahr el-Bared 'refugee camp' in Tripoli, where the army has been fighting with Fatah al-Islam all week, Jihad Watch has an interesting and plausible theory about Nasrallah's sudden interest in the fighting:
While tension between Hizballah and al-Qaeda is nothing new, it's possible that there's even more to this, in light of reports from last fall that Hizballah was moving rockets into Palestinian camps in southern Lebanon: assets to protect, and secrets to hide.
We all know he is alive and we're fairly sure he's 'safe,' but I would not place any bets on Gilad Shalit's release.
Shalit, for those of you who have forgotten, is the IDF soldier who was kidnapped on June 25, 2006 near the Kerem Shalom crossing point into the Gaza Strip. Despite on and off negotiations in which the main issue was the number and identity of the 'Palestinian' prisonersterrorists to be released in exchange for him, he still languishes in a location that is likely known to Israeli intelligence and is likely somewhere in Gaza.
“If any of Hamas’ leaders are harmed, Israel can forget about Gilad Shalit," said Saturday a spokesman for the Islamist group’s armed wing, the Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
Speaking to reporters just a few hours after another IDF aerial attack on a Hamas position in Gaza left five Palestinians dead, Abu Obaida said, "Suicide bombings in Israel are just a matter of time and proper conditions…we can fire rockets even beyond Ashkelon, and we will resume the suicide bombings and kidnappings."
(For those of you who thought Shalit was kidnapped by the 'Popular Resistance Committees,' I keep telling you that the terrorists are all the same - they just keep changing uniforms). Unfortunately, I don't believe Shalit will ever be released. I believe he is being held hostage to check any Israeli response to the Kassam fire. I doubt Hamas would give him up for any number of terrorists now.
There's a fascinating piece by Noah Pollak at Michael Totten's blog about who is responsible for what is currently going on in Gaza. I would apportion more blame to Ariel Sharon - who largely gets off unscathed in Pollak's article - but the conclusion hammers home the point that you cannot really blame the current US administration:
There is something very consistent about governance in the Arab world. Among the Arab countries today in which there is a modicum of internal stability, each is controlled by an Arafat-type figure -- an anti-democratic strongman who is able to crush all challenges to his authority. Likewise, among those Arab countries that aren't ruled by a despot, the political dynamic is also consistent: In Lebanon, Iraq, and now Gaza, sectarian violence is the dominant form of political expression. It’s true that Arafat’s authority was weaker in Gaza than in the West Bank, but in Gaza there was always another strongman present to keep a lid on things: the Israeli occupation. When Israel disengaged in the summer of 2005, suddenly Gaza was without any master at all, and that’s exactly when the territory started going full-tilt toward the Hobbesian state of nature it now finds itself in.
And so to blame recent Bush administration choices for this lawlessness -- or more precisely, to invent stories about administration choices -- is more than a bit much. Even if the PA elections in 2006 hadn't occurred, I doubt the battle we are seeing today wouldn’t have happened. The fight is foreordained by Gaza's demography, its political and religious extremism, Arafat's death, and Israel's unwillingness to police the territory. The Bush administration is simply along for the ride -- as is Israel. And the reason why Abbas has never been able to emerge as a leader of the Palestinians is because his weakness is similarly foreordained. Consensus-based political leadership is anathema to the Arab world. We're seeing that rather starkly today in Gaza.
All of that said, I think that Yglesias ends up being partially right (even though he doesn't mean to be) when he lays the lawlessness in Gaza at Bush's feet. The sad truth is that Gaza today is a testament to the failure of the entire 14-year project of creating the Palestinian Authority, retrieving Arafat from exile, and attempting to drag the Arabs of Palestine, against their will, into western political modernity. This process was started, and most forcefully pushed forward, by the Clinton administration, and today its corpse is still being dragged around the Middle East, Weekend at Bernie's-style, by Condoleezza Rice.
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-five years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 12 to 32 years and seven grandchildren. Three of our children are married! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com