Monday, March 31, 2008

British bus driver prays on company time

Get off my bus, I need to pray -Alex Peake & Andy Crick

A Muslim bus driver told stunned passengers to get off so he could pray. The white Islamic convert rolled out his prayer mat in the aisle and knelt on the floor facing Mecca.

Passengers watched in amazement as he held out his palms towards the sky, bowed his head and began to chant. One, who filmed the man on his mobile phone, said: “He was clearly praying and chanting in Arabic.

“Eventually everyone started complaining. One woman said, ‘What the hell are you doing? I’m going to be late for work’.” After a few minutes the driver calmly got up, opened the doors and asked everyone back on board. But they saw a rucksack lying on the floor of the red single-decker and feared he might be a fanatic. So they all refused.
[The Sun-United Kingdom]

The great divide?

The Sunni-Shiite Terror Network -Amir Taheri

[T]he claim that [Sunni] al-Qaeda and [Iran's Shiite] Khomeinists would not work together because they have theological differences is both naive and dangerous.
(Wall Street Journal)

Sleaze factor

New PA Scandal Involves Peace Negotiator -Khaled Abu Toameh

[F]ormer PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, who currently heads the Palestinian negotiating team with Israel, deposited $3 million of PLO funds into his private bank account.
(Jerusalem Post)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ideology trumps economy

The main issues are not economic -Yossi Alpher

[E]conomic prosperity is as good for Palestinians as it is for everyone else. But there is no positive and demonstrable cause-and-effect connection between prosperity and a reduction in the inclination to engage in terrorism: witness the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000 at a time of Palestinian economic prosperity.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Violence pays off...big

What George Habash understood -Evelyn Gordon

You have to admire George Habash. Granted, he was a mass murderer. But, as the muted response to recent protests in Tibet underscores, his understanding of both human nature and international politics was unsurpassed.

Habash, who died in January, grabbed world attention in the 1960s and 1970s with high-profile airline hijackings and bombings. Other Palestinian groups soon followed suit.

As he explained to the German magazine Der Stern in 1970: "For decades, world public opinion has been neither for nor against the Palestinians. It simply ignored us. [T]he world is talking about us now."

Habash understood people generally prefer to ignore problems, and once forced to respond, people generally prefer appeasement to fighting. In 1975, for instance, the UN created the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. No other group seeking self-determination ever merited its own UN committee. By the late 1980s, the PLO had embassies worldwide, including UN observer status. Neither Tibetans, Kurds, Basques nor any other stateless groups have embassies or UN status.

In 1993, Israel recognized the PLO and began giving it land - something else groups such as Tibetans, Kurds and Basques never achieved.

And since then, despite continuing Palestinian terror, support for the Palestinian cause has only grown. Massive pro-Palestinian demonstrations take place worldwide. International aid pours into Palestinian coffers. World leaders raise the Palestinian issue at every opportunity and organize international conferences on it. Palestinian leaders are feted in world capitals.

These, too, are achievements unparalleled by other groups: World leaders almost never talk about Kurds, Tibetans or Basques, much less give them financial aid; nor are there international demonstrations on their behalf.

Tibetans, however, are unique, because they alone tried a different tactic [nonviolence] for gaining world attention. Kurds and Basques, [like the Palestinians] used terrorism; their mistake was confining their attacks to Turkey and Spain, thereby enabling the rest of the world to ignore them - whereas Habash, who targeted airlines worldwide, left nobody free to ignore him.

After 57 years of occupation, Tibetan self-determination remains a distant dream. The recent Tibetan protests sparked no worldwide demonstrations against the Chinese occupation.

By choosing the path of nonviolence, Tibetans enabled the world to ignore them. By limiting their terrorist campaigns to a single country, Basques, Kurds, Tamils and others similarly enabled the world to ignore them.

[Such] groups will not remain blind to the lessons of Palestinian success forever. By appeasing Palestinian terror while ignoring the claims of other national groups, the world has provided a powerful incentive for others to launch international terror campaigns of their own, as the best way of gaining international support. [I]f it wishes to avert this outcome, the international community must reverse course - by rewarding Tibetan nonviolence, and by punishing rather than appeasing Palestinian terror.
[Jerusalem Post]

Coming: Nuclear tipped jihad

Michael Freund

The price of Washington's obsession -Michael Freund

While the West fiddles, the Middle East threatens to burn. Recent months have seen a renewed surge in American efforts to jump-start the political process between Israel and the Palestinians, as a stream of high-level officials have made their way to the region. The Secretary of State has already been to Israel twice this year, and it's only March.

Of course, these labors have thus far failed to achieve anything, other than to send a message to the Palestinians that they can continue to use violence while hoping to wring out still more concessions at the negotiating table.

But there is a much deeper, and even greater, cost involved in all the American time and energy that are being expended on cajoling the recalcitrant Palestinian leadership. [T]he more time they spend banging their heads against the Palestinian wall, the less they have to devote to a far more pressing matter, one which threatens to shake the foundations of the entire region - the growing danger of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Make no mistake. The West's failure to shut down Iran's nuclear program has sent shudders throughout the neighborhood, prompting Arab states to seek ways of maintaining parity. Whether you are a Bahraini living in Teheran's shadow, or a Moroccan policymaker, the very thought of the ayatollahs with their fingers on the trigger is nothing less than a nightmare scenario.

The Arab leadership knows full well that an atomic Iran would transform the strategic dynamic in the region, further boosting radical Shi'ite fundamentalism and revolutionary triumphalism.

Fearful that America and the West do not have the will to stop Iran, the Arab states, as expected, are now embarking on nuclear programs of their own. All told, 11 Arab countries have declared an interest in nuclear technology. They are: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, the UAE, Yemen, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt.

HOW'S THAT for a threat to the stability of the region?
Sadly, though, American officials seem to have been spending more time rifling through mini-bars in Ramallah hotel rooms in between meetings with Palestinians, than in tackling the growing spread of nuclear ambition in the Middle East.

Tackle the Iranian threat head-on, strip them of their nuclear program, and the Arab states' "excuse" to pursue atomic energy fizzles away. But if the Bush administration continues to fritter away its remaining months in office, instead expending precious political and diplomatic capital on the bleak prospects of a Palestinian about-face, it runs the risk of turning this region into a dangerous nuclear powder-keg.

[T]he choice before Washington is really very simple. Keep focusing on the Palestinians if you wish, but then don't be surprised if you wake up one day to discover a nuclear Middle East.
[Jerusalem Post]

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How the ideology is spread

So You Wanna Be a Hizbullah Fighter? -Andrew Lee Butters

Hizbullah recruiters keep an eye out for young Shia Muslim students in both Hizbullah-run schools and the national school system. They look for energetic kids, violent kids, and smart kids, from the age of seven into the late teens.

From the start, Hizbullah organizes its child recruits into cells of about five kids, with each cell having its own kid commander, and their own missions: usually games and exercises like treasure hunts. The training stresses the path to martyrdom, which is achieved through honesty, prayer, and combat. This ideological training can last for years.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The fruits of US money

Your Tax Dollars at Work in Gaza -Jonathan S. Tobin

American officials are again pressing Congress to open up the U.S. aid pipeline to the Palestinian Authority. Reinforcing the PA seems to make sense. But does it really?

America's attempts to create a Palestinian peace partner have failed. No amount of money will buy us a moderate state that will accept peace with Israel if the Palestinians don't want one.
(Philadelphia Jewish Exponent)

U.S. AID for Terror -Rachel Ehrenfeld & Alyssa Lappen

Since 1994, the CIA armed and trained thousands of Palestinian "security forces," who subsequently joined every Palestinian terrorist organization.

Rockets to the left of me; rockets to the right...

The Gaza Dilemma -Leslie Susser

Maj. Gen. Doron Almog says Israel needs to act soon: "Otherwise, in a few years time, we could find ourselves fighting on two fronts, under a hail of hundreds of rockets a day, covering virtually all of Israel."
(Jerusalem Report)

Prager on Tibet

The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, praying at
the Western Wall in Jerusalem

A Tale of Two Peoples -Dennis Prager

The long-suffering Tibetans have been in the news. This happens perhaps once or twice a decade. In a more moral world, however, public opinion would be far more preoccupied with Tibetans than with Palestinians, would be as harsh on China as it is on Israel, and would be as fawning on Israel as it now is on China.

Tibet, at least 1,400 years old, is one of the world's oldest nations, has its own language, its own religion and its own ethnicity. Over 1 million of its people have been killed by the Chinese, its culture has been systematically obliterated, 6,000 of its 6,200 monasteries have been looted and destroyed, and most of its monks have been tortured, murdered or exiled.

Palestinians [share] none of these characteristics. There has never been a Palestinian country, never been a Palestinian language, never been a Palestinian ethnicity, never been a Palestinian religion in any way distinct from Islam elsewhere.

Indeed, for most of the first half of the 20th century, "Palestinian" almost always referred to the Jews of Palestine. The United Jewish Appeal was known as the United Palestine Appeal.

Compared to Tibetans, Palestinian Arab culture has not been destroyed nor its mosques looted or plundered, and Palestinians have received billions of dollars from the international community.

The world is unfair, unjust and morally twisted. And rarely more so than in its support for the Palestinians and its neglect of the cruelly treated, humane Tibetans.


Monday, March 24, 2008

VideoBite: Matisyahu sings Jerusalem

Matisyahu brings the message of Jersualem's seminal spirituality to the world with this stunning music video.

"Romanticizing Fatah"

"Moderate" Fatah Undergoing Radicalization -Barry Rubin

[Palestinian p]ublic opinion is extreme, with support for terrorism zooming upward. Fatah both heeds and feeds the trend.

[T]he Fatah leadership strategy is not to fight but ally with Hamas. That's the kind of thinking that makes the movement so impossible to change or move toward peace.

Many in the West believe that whenever Palestinian leaders reject peace, it must be because they were not offered enough. Westerners think Fatah and the PA merely need to raise Palestinian living standards and get a state to show their people that Hamas is a failure and the PA a success. Yet, as horrible as it sounds, in Palestinian politics success is still measured by the number of Israelis killed and by who never gives up the chance for total victory and Israel's disappearance some day.

Given the strategic realities, Israel must deal with the PA and try to keep Fatah in power on the West Bank. But there should be no illusions. Solving the conflict won't happen. Putting it atop Western governments' agenda, blaming Israel for Palestinian intransigence, and romanticizing Fatah and the PA is a big mistake.
(Jerusalem Post)

Friday, March 21, 2008

bin Laden threatens Catholics

Bin Laden Accuses Pope of Anti-Islam Crusade -Paul Schemm

Osama bin Laden accused Pope Benedict XVI of helping in a "new Crusade" against Islam and warned of a "severe" reaction to European publications of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that insulted many Muslims. Bin Laden's audiotape said the cartoons "came in the framework of a new Crusade in which the pope of the Vatican has played a large, lengthy role."

The Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said bin Laden's accusation is "baseless."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Prominent US 'Peace' Rabbi backs Gaza incursion

Preparing U.S. Jews for Assault on Gaza -Rabbi Eric Yoffie

Israel's response to the rocket fire directed at its cities has been far more restrained than what would be expected from any other civilized, democratic government. Since 2001, more than 7,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza at civilian targets in Israel. A "proportionate" response would involve 7,000 Israeli rockets fired at civilians in Gaza.

Is the "occupation" responsible for the rocket fire? Prime Minister Sharon pulled out of every inch of Gaza in 2005, yet there has not been a single day of quiet following that withdrawal. Indeed, rocket strikes significantly increased after it was completed. The simple fact is that if terror and rocket fire were to come to an end in Gaza, Palestinian suffering there would end as well.

[T]here would soon be no alternative to an Israeli move against Hamas forces in Gaza. This is not a welcome scenario. An Israeli attack on Gaza is certain to unleash a barrage of international criticism.

American support will be essential if Israel's military is to have the time it needs to complete its mission. Our task now is to support Israel in its time of need, to make its case to our fellow citizens, and to do all that we can to rally the Jewish people and good people everywhere to its side.
(New York Jewish Week)
Rabbi Yoffie is president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

Purim reflections

Purim, and all that jazz -Rabbi Avraham Feder [Masorti]

[C]ould [our] sages have ever imagined that, someday, fully sober Jewish leaders of an independent Jewish state would be sitting down with latter-day Hamans like Yasser Arafat and signing peace agreement after peace agreement, only to see them violated shamelessly and murderously?

One doesn't need to imbibe vodka to become intoxicated. One can become drunk over an idea, so that no matter how much contrary evidence is brought to disprove the validity of that idea, one hangs on, begging for "one more for the road."

How else can we explain our addiction to a "peace process" with those who are unrepentant in their lust to lie to us, to terrorize us, to destroy us?
[Jerusalem Post]

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Palestinian pulse

Toys for Palestinian children
[click picture for larger image]

Most Palestinians Favor Violence -Ethan Bronner

A new poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research shows that an overwhelming majority of Palestinians - 84% - support the attack this month on a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem that killed eight young men, most of them teenagers. The survey also shows that 64% support the firing of rockets on Israeli towns from Gaza and 75% support the end of peace negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli leaders.

The poll also showed that the militant Islamist group Hamas is gaining popularity in the West Bank while its American-backed rival, Fatah, is losing ground.
(New York Times)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Attempted bombing a strike at Israel?

Firebombs Thrown at Home of Israeli Emissary in Rhode Island

A pair of Molotov cocktails targeted the home of Yossi Knafo, 24, in Providence, R.I. No one was injured in the attack, though a fire was started.

Knafo, an employee of Brown [University] Hillel, works with the Jewish Agency for Israel, whose emissaries conduct educational, religious, and cultural programs.

Jewish officials have alerted synagogues and other Jewish institutions to beef up their security in the wake of the attack...
(AP/Boston Globe)

No smoking gun, just simmering cauldron

A Pentagon review of about 600,000 documents captured in the Iraq war attests to Saddam Hussein's willingness to use terrorism to target Americans and work closely with jihadist organizations throughout the Middle East.

The report, released this week by the Institute for Defense Analyses, says it found no "smoking gun" linking Iraq operationally to al-Qaeda. But it does say Saddam collaborated with known al-Qaeda affiliates and a wider constellation of Islamist terror groups [than previous thought].
(New York Sun)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Triple headed snake

The Care and Feeding of an Angry Territory -Jonah Goldberg

Hamas is mimicking Hizbullah, the Lebanese terrorist organization funded by Iran. Hizbullah masterminded the practice of launching rockets into Israel from civilian areas and then screaming "war crime" whenever Israel responded to the attacks.
(National Review)

Same old UN, despite leadership change

UN Chief Condemns Israel at Muslim Summit

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned a speech to a summit of Muslim leaders. Ban said Israel had employed "inappropriate and disproportionate use of force."

Friday, March 14, 2008

Young American Jews will like Israel...when they're old

A study published last week by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University challenges the prevailing assumption that American Jews have become alienated from Israel in recent years, and particularly the assumption that the younger generation is less attached to Israel than their parents' generation was at their age.

The study maintains that there has been no decline, nor will there be one. "Jewish attachment to Israel has largely held steady for the period 1994-2007," the study says. Young American Jews are indeed less attached to Israel than their parents, but as they grow older, they tend to become more emotionally attached to Israel.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Media addicted to the "cycle" frame

Follow the Sequence of Mideast Violence -Ofer Bavly

There is no egalitarian share of the blame and responsibility, and the sooner this fact is understood by the international community, the better.

There is no similarity between a robber who attacks his victim, and the policeman who attacks the robber in order to arrest him.

In the Middle East, there is a sequence of events, not a cycle of violence. It is a continuum which can be stopped at a moment's notice, by the Palestinians, should they choose to do so or should they feel the necessary international pressure to do so.
(Tampa Tribune)

Abbas defends Islamic Jihad mastermind

IDF Kills Mastermind of Jerusalem Terror Attack -Ali Waked

Palestinian sources say Muhammad Shahade was behind the terror attack at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem last week in which eight Israeli students were killed. Shahade, a former Fatah member and an Islamic Jihad operative, has been known to have extensive ties with Hizbullah.
(Ynet News)

(Ynet News)

Hamas sinking?

Will Gaza Lull Last? -Ron Ben-Yishai

Hamas was badly beaten in Israel's recent operation; it sustained a much harder blow than what emerged from media reports. Hamas estimates that if it continues to fight, Israel will topple Hamas' Gaza regime and prevent the group from realizing its strategic objective: Taking over the West Bank and ruling the Palestinian people.
(Ynet News)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hero who took out Jerusalem terrorist

An Officer and a Hero -Rebecca Anna Stoil

On Thursday evening, Capt. David Shapira [pictured above] had just put one of his two young children to sleep when he heard explosions coming from the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva across the street. When he realized that the explosions were gunshots, he grabbed his service weapon and ran out of the house toward the yeshiva where he himself had studied.

Shapira entered the building, tracked the terrorist to the library, got within two to three meters of his target, and neutralized him. Then he searched the area to make sure that other terrorists had not taken cover in the building.
[Jerusalem Post]

Monday, March 10, 2008


A senior Hamas commander confirmed for the first time that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has been training its men in Tehran for more than two years and is currently honing the skills of 150 fighters.
(Sunday Times-UK)

Official praise for terrorist

Official PA Daily: Killer Is Holy Martyr -Itamar Marcus & Barbara Crook

Mahmoud Abbas' official PA daily newspaper has honored the killer of the eight students gunned down this week with the status of Shahid - Holy Islamic Martyr. Al Hayat Al Jadida prominently placed a picture of the killer on the front page, with the caption, "The Shahid Alaa Abu D'heim."

In response to earlier PMW reports on the widespread Palestinian honoring of terror, Congress made it illegal for the U.S. to give money to entities that "advocate" terror.
(Palestinian Media Watch)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Centrality of Gaza

Gaza First -Calev Ben-David

It is the current status of Gaza - and not the future dispensation of the West Bank - that occupied the ranking position on the agenda of Secretary of State Rice' discussions in Israel.

It is now more than abundantly clear that Gaza is not an obstacle that can be circumvented and left for last. If anything, the opposite is true. Now is the time to focus preeminently on Gaza first, and the task of changing the reality on the ground there, before whatever precious little is left of the peace process heads permanently south.
(Jerusalem Post)

PA Report on Gaza Takeover -Zvi Bar'el

The report of the Palestinian commission to investigate the capture of Gaza by Hamas in June 2007 paints a terrifying picture of military and political helplessness, internal disputes, family loyalties, [and] a lack of talent and ability to administer military and political forces.

Its most significant revelation is that Mahmoud Abbas knew Hamas was about to take control of Gaza and did not manage to prevent it. This raises questions about the assumption that Israel can depend on the Fatah leadership and on Abbas personally to be able to control the situation.

The report provides a harsh response to the dilemma of whether to strengthen Abbas. It suggests that the diplomatic horizon or its absence and the Israeli attitude toward the PA had little effect on the strengthening or weakening of Abbas.

Erasing Hamas

Closing in on Hamas? -Yisrael Ne'eman

[E]ventually Israel will need to fully crush Hamas. But is it possible?
Several steps must be taken:

Militarily Israel needs to physically divide up Gaza. This cuts north-south traffic of men and military supplies. Every night there must be dozens of incursions, forays, arrests and the destruction of Hamas military installations. This same policy was used in the West Bank to break Yasir Arafat’s terror offensive and proved successful.

[T]he army should not sit in stationary positions but rather engage in counter terror activities and remain on the move. Only road blocks in the open areas need to be somewhat stationary...
[Mideast: On Target]

Wall Street Journal: UN resolution a lemon

Irresolution on Iran -Editorial

The Bush Administration is hailing as a diplomatic triumph Monday's 14-0 Security Council resolution further sanctioning Iran for its nuclear programs. For its part, Tehran calls the UN action "worthless," and unfortunately the Iranians are closer to the mark.

The weakness of this resolution, though masked by the show of unanimity, demonstrates that the "international community" has reached the outer limit of what it is prepared to do to stop Iran from becoming the world's 10th nuclear-weapons state. There is no more juice to be squeezed out of this lemon.
(Wall Street Journal)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The young victims

The victims of the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva.

Top row: Avraham David Moses (16), Ro'i Roth (18), Neria Cohen (15), Yonatan Yitzhak Eldar (16)

Bottom row: Yochai Lifshitz (18), Segev Peniel Avihail (15), Yehonadav Haim Hirschfeld (19), Doron Meherete (26)

Friday, March 07, 2008

"Unyielding Solidarity"

Conference of Presidents Condemns Barbaric Attack

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations condemns and deplores the outrageous and barbaric attack on the young students in a Jerusalem yeshiva, Mercaz Harav, which resulted in the deaths of eight people and the wounding of many more.

The nature of this attack, against civilians in a religious institution, underscores the nature of the enemy which Israel confronts and the extremist ideology of hatred that drives them. We extend to the families of the victims, their friends and to all the people of Israel our sympathy, support and unyielding solidarity.
(Conference of Presidents)

Releasing Terrorists: Palestinian attacker previously in custody

Abu Dhein [the terrorist] was arrested by Israeli authorities four months ago and then released two months later.
(AP/USA Today)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Jihad strikes Jerusalem again

A Palestinian terrorist opened fire at a central Jerusalem yeshiva late Thursday night, killing eight students and wounding 10 others, police and rescue officials said.

The 8:45 p.m. shooting at Mercaz Harav Yeshiva broke a two-year lull in terror in the capital and sent students scurrying for cover from a hail of gunfire - a reported 500-600 bullets - that lasted for several minutes.

As security forces raced to the scene, the gunman fired round after round of ammunition into the library at the seminary, religious Zionism's flagship institution. [T]he terrorist carried a blue Israeli identity card and came from east Jerusalem.

[A] paramedic said he saw several dead yeshiva students on the library's floor. "Some of them were still holding sacred Jewish books smeared with blood from which they were learning before they were murdered," he said.
[Jerusalem Post]

Hamas' dream

What Hamas Wants -Editorial

The Palestinian radicals who are firing rockets into Israeli towns measure success by the number of civilians who die. Here's the weird part - they don't care whether it's Jewish Israelis who die or their own Palestinian brothers. More significantly, Palestinian groups such as Hamas view the death of each Arab woman or child as a propaganda victory in the religious war against Israel.

This is, sadly, old news. In the 1980s, before the Palestinians had rockets, they would arrange for children to throw rocks at Israeli soldiers, then they - the Palestinian fighters - would fire bullets at the Israelis from inside the crowds. Hamas' real objective was not to kill Israeli soldiers but to ensure Arab children got killed in the crossfire. Was this depraved? You bet. But it was effective.

Israel is a liberal democracy and it didn't like being blamed for the deaths of civilians, so gradually it disengaged from the disputed Palestinian territories. In the case of Gaza, Israel withdrew completely. No matter, Hamas wanted to continue the fight, which brings us to today.
(Ottawa Citizen-Canada)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hamas support

Palestinian Civilians Answer Hamas Call to be Human Shields

During the [recent] IDF activity in Gaza, both Hamas and Islamic Jihad frequently called upon Palestinian civilians to gather in places where, they claimed, the IDF was about to attack, to have them serve as human shields, exploiting the fact that the IDF avoids deliberately harming Palestinian civilians.

On Feb. 28, Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV called on the residents to gather at the house of Ma'amoun Abu 'Amer. An hour later, dozens of Palestinians were gathered on the roof to serve as human shields to prevent the house from being hit.
(Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Target: Tel Aviv

Israel's War to Halt Palestinian Rocket Attacks -Dore Gold

After Israel's disengagement from Gaza, the number of confirmed rocket strikes against Israel increased by more than 500 percent.

The disengagement from Gaza led to the loss of Israeli control over the Philadelphi route between the Gaza Strip and Egyptian Sinai, allowing for a significant increase in the range and quantity of rockets in the Palestinian arsenal.

As long as the Philadelphi route is open for Hamas smuggling, the risk to Israel will grow as Iran exports rockets of increasing range to the Gaza Strip. The port of Ashdod is the next likely target, but should Fajr rockets reach Gaza, there is no reason why Hamas cannot pose a threat to Tel Aviv.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Iran's Proxy in Gaza -Noah Pollak

Iran has invested heavily in Palestinian terrorism. Gaza exists for the Iranians as another forward operating base, a projection of power similar to but not as capable as Hizbullah.

The defeat of their proxy in Gaza would be a serious loss to Iran.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Reflections on the coming Gaza incursion

Hamas Using U.S. Weapons Against IDF -Khaled Abu Toameh

Hamas gunmen [are] using many American-made arms seized from the Fatah-controlled PA security forces.

Hamas is hoping that once the fighting is over, it will be able to declare "victory, as Hizbullah did after the war in 2006," said a Palestinian source.
(Jerusalem Post)

Loud Silence from Arab World -Zvi Bar'el

[T]he very mild Egyptian reaction indicates that the IDF raid is perceived by the Arab world to be first and foremost a war against Hamas, not the Palestinian people.

Israeli City Shocked as Palestinian Rockets Hit -Aron Heller

By reaching Ashkelon, a city of 120,000 people about 11 miles north of Gaza, Hamas raised the stakes considerably. It is one of the largest cities in southern Israel...

"The fact that more than a dozen rockets have targeted the major population center of Ashkelon is a sign that the terrorists have broken through a new threshold in their war against the Israeli civilian population," said Mark Regev.

Israeli officials assume that new and improved rockets were smuggled into Gaza when its border with Egypt was breached in January, bringing Ashkelon into range.
(AP/Washington Post)

Saturday in Gaza -Steven Erlanger & Taghreed El-Khodary

Hamas said that Malak Karfaneh, 6, died Friday from an Israeli strike on Beit Hanun, but locals said that a Palestinian rocket had fallen short and landed near the house.

Israeli officials say that up to half of Palestinian rockets fall inside Gaza.
(New York Times)

Striking Hamas Increases Chance for Peace -Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

"I have recently heard criticism that civilians are being hurt, that the State of Israel is using too much force. Nobody has the right to preach morality to the State of Israel for taking basic action to defend itself and prevent hundreds of thousands of residents of the south from continuing to be exposed to incessant [missile] firing."
(Prime Minister's Office)

The End of the "Guilty Israeli" -Yossi Klein Halevi

We Israelis who once wanted nothing more than to leave Gaza forever now realize that we may have no choice but to return, at least until relative quiet is restored to our border.

The first intifada created a substantial bloc of guilt-ridden Israelis ready to take almost any risk for peace. As the Oslo peace process came into being, the guilty Israeli became the most potent source of Palestinian empowerment. Israelis felt so desperate to end the occupation that they withdrew their army and uprooted their settlements from Gaza in 2006.

[T]oday the guilty Israeli has become nearly extinct. Gaza was a test case for Israeli withdrawal, and the experiment was a disaster. How, Israelis wonder, can we evacuate the West Bank and risk rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem?

So we move toward the next terrible round of conflict. This time, though, for all our anguish, we will feel a lot less remorse. Because even guilty Israelis realize that, until our neighbors care more about building their state than undermining ours, the misery of Gaza will persist.
(Los Angeles Times)