Friday, January 30, 2009

Gaza is a "sideshow"

Gaza War Just a Sideshow to Sunni-Persian Conflict -Emanuele Ottolenghi

The Gaza war forced regional players to take sides. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and all the Gulf states but Qatar gave Hamas a cold shoulder. Hamas is, after all, a Sunni Arab movement that turned its back on its brothers to embrace the feared and loathed Shi'ite Persian foe.

A tacit if grudging alliance is emerging between Israel and pro-Western Sunni rulers. The prospect of an Iran fomenting Islamist revolutions, wars and insurrections around the region under the cover of a nuclear umbrella is infinitely more terrifying than a Jewish state in the Arab heartland. The Arabs need Israel's steel against Iran today.

The Strategic Importance of Israel's Gaza Operation -Isaac Ben-Israel

Previously, it appeared as though the weak side (Hamas, Hizbullah) could attack Israeli citizens uninterruptedly, while Israel hesitated in utilizing its substantial military power.

The recent [Gaza] operation showed that even mosques used by terror groups are no longer off limits for Israeli military power. The operation's diplomatic achievements include destabilization of Iran's protege in the Mideast. Moreover, most of the Arab world stood by Egypt vis-a-vis Hamas. This recognition of the common interest with Israel against Iran and its emissaries holds immense strategic importance.
(Ynet News)

Liar, Liar, pants on fire

Account of Attack on Gaza School Doesn't Hold Up to Scrutiny
-Patrick Martin

Most people remember the headlines: "Israeli Strike Kills Dozens at UN School."

On Jan. 6, mortar shells fired by advancing Israeli forces reportedly killed 43 civilians at the UNRWA school where they had taken refuge in Gaza. But the story was not quite accurate.

Physical evidence and interviews with several eyewitnesses, including a teacher who was in the schoolyard at the time of the shelling, make it clear: While a few people were injured from shrapnel landing inside the UNRWA compound, no one in the compound was killed. Those who died in the incident were all outside, on the street. Stories of one or more shells landing inside the schoolyard were inaccurate.

There was no Israeli shooting into a schoolyard crowded with refuge-seekers.
(Globe and Mail-Canada)

Frequently Asked Questions about IDF in Gaza

Extreme caution should be exercised concerning the numbers of civilian casualties reported. Throughout the past year, Hamas has dismissed doctors and nurses identified with Fatah and replaced them with its own supporters. Gaza's hospitals are now staffed only with Hamas supporters and Hamas officials are the primary sources of information.
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Jimmy Carter lies in newly released book

Jimmy Carter's Myopia -Michael D. Evans

Former President Jimmy Carter has just released a new book, We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land.

The former president writes that former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin agreed to divide Jerusalem. I found that to be astonishing...especially since Mr. Begin had given me a copy of the letter he wrote to Carter on Sept. 17, 1978, in which he wrote,

"Dear Mr. President, ...On the basis of this law, the government of Israel decreed in July 1967 that Jerusalem is one city indivisible, the capital of the State of Israel." According to Begin, Carter informed him that the U.S. government did not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Begin told me he responded, "Excuse me sir, but the State of Israel does not recognize your non-recognition."

Carter viewed PLO leader Yasser Arafat as a "little George Washington." He pens [that] [p]eace in the Holy Land must include Palestinian militant leader, Marwan Barghouti, the serial killer. Carter calls him the "most intriguing player in the Middle East."
(Washington Times)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Iraqi women ascending

Iraqi Women Vie for Votes and Taste of Power -Sam Dagher

In Basra, where until a year ago banners warned women that they would be shot if they wore too much makeup or ventured out of their homes without a veil, a female candidate, Ibtihal Abdul-Rahman, put up posters of herself last month.

Encouraged by security improvements throughout the country, thousands of women are running for council seats in the provincial elections. Of the estimated 14,400 candidates, close to 4,000 are women. Some female candidates have had their posters splattered with mud, defaced with beards or torn up...
[New York Times]

President Obama and the MidEast

Obama in Jordan

Obama and the Muslim Cold War -Hillel Frisch [at right]

Obama will be surprised to discover that objection to any substantial movement on a Palestinian state will come less from Israel, and more from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan - which fear that Hamas would probably take over Judea and Samaria via an expanded Palestinian state.

As far as they are concerned, Israel did not batter Hamas sufficiently to allay their suspicions. These states prefer "process" over meaningful movement regarding the Palestinian problem.

Nor will these Arab countries be pleased about the newfound American desire to engage Iran and Syria. Saudi Arabia remains committed to seeing Bashar Assad tried in an international court, not letting him off the hook by engaging him.

The mainstream Arab countries, like Israel, seek U.S. resolve in confronting the Iranian-led axis, not an "outstretched American hand" to the radical part of the Muslim world.
The writer is an Arab affairs specialist at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.
(Jerusalem Post)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

NewsALERT: Israel hits back demonstrating zero missile tolerance

IAF jets strike weapon manufacturing site -Yaakov Lappin

Israel Air Force jets struck a weapon manufacturing site [pictured above] in the Rafah area late on Wednesday night, in response to a Kassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel several hours earlier. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that Israel will respond to every act of aggression.

It was the IDF's first attack on a building inside the Strip since the end of Operation Cast Lead.
[Jerusalem Post]

NewsALERT: Rocket flies from Gaza

Kassam rocket fired from Gaza -Yaakov Lappin

A day after Gaza operatives breached the cease-fire with a deadly bomb attack along the border, terrorists in the Strip fired a Kassam rocket at southern Israel on Wednesday night. The rocket hit an open area in the Eshkol region, causing no casualties or damage.

Haim Yalin [pictured at right], head of the Eshkol Regional Council, told The Jerusalem Post that the rocket represented a moment of truth for the government, and called for a firm response...

"During Operation Cast Lead, I and other local authority heads sat with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and told them: 'It does not matter at what stage the military operation ends, what matters is what Israel does after the first rocket is fired,'" Yalin said.
[Jerusalem Post]

Al-Qaeda threatened by Obama's popularity?

To Combat Obama, Al-Qaeda Hurls Insults -Joby Warrick

Al-Qaeda has unleashed a stream of verbal tirades against Barack Obama, each more venomous than the last. Obama has been called a "hypocrite," a "killer" of innocents, an "enemy of Muslims."

The torrent of hateful words is part of what terrorism experts now believe is a deliberate propaganda campaign against a president who appears to have gotten under al-Qaeda's skin. With Obama, al-Qaeda faces an entirely new challenge, as polls show he is well liked throughout the Muslim world.
(Washington Post)

Israel United against Hamas

Israel Responds to Gaza Border Bombing with Air Attack

An Israeli military aircraft struck smugglers' tunnels in Gaza [today]...

Gaza War Unites Israelis -Tobias Buck

Officials and analysts say they have been surprised by the degree of Israel's national unity and sense of common purpose during the Gaza war.

The change in attitude is palpable. Polls show the overwhelming majority of Israelis backed the war, which they saw as a just assault on an implacable and dangerous enemy. Yossi Klein Halevy, a fellow at the Jerusalem-based Shalem Center, notes: "The soldiers fought with more motivation than at any time since the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the home front bore up with weeks of shelling without complaint, and the country was unified. Even most of the Israeli left supported the operation."

The lesson that Israelis take away from three weeks of war is one that has echoed throughout the country's history: that being strong is preferable to being popular.
(Financial Times-UK)

IDF: Hamas Is Responsible -Hanan Greenberg

The attack on an IDF force patrolling the Gaza border was carried out by an Islamist group affiliated with al-Qaeda calling itself the "Jihad and Tawhid Brigades." An IDF Bedouin tracker was the soldier killed.

The army says Hamas gave its consent to the attack. Military sources estimate that Hamas will continue to operate against Israel through other organizations. Senior Israeli officials said Tuesday that they have no intention of playing along with Hamas' scheme to evade responsibility.
(Ynet News)

Secretary of State Clinton: "We Support Israel"

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [pictured at the Western Wall] said that Israel had a right to defend itself and that Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza on the Jewish state could not go unanswered.

"We support Israel's right to self-defense. The (Palestinian) rocket barrages which are getting closer and closer to populated areas (in Israel) cannot go unanswered," Clinton said in her first news conference. "

Lebanon: where the deer and the antelope play?

IDF Antelope Corps Helps Secure Israel's Northern Border -Eli Ashkenazi

The Israel Defense Forces has deployed eight Eland antelope [pictured above] in the zone between the northern security fence and the international border to clear problematic foliage that distorts views of the Lebanese side and within which Hizbullah terrorists could hide.

The animals, each weighing over 500 kilograms, are known for their fondness for eating vegetation.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Gaza war: Round Two?

Gaza explosion during the recent Operation Cast Lead

Israeli Soldier Killed in Gaza Truce Breach -Nidal al-Mughrabi & Alastair Macdonald

An Israeli soldier was reported killed close to the border with Gaza in an attack by militants in breach of cease-fire declarations.
(Reuters-Washington Post)

Livni: Israeli restraint in Gaza is over -Etgar Lefkovits

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that Israel will no longer show restraint against Palestinian attacks from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

"Israel is going to act according to a new equation. We are not going to show restraint anymore," Livni [said]. Her remarks came after an Israeli soldier was killed and three others were wounded in an attack near the Gaza border.

Likud [Party] chair[man] Binyamin Netanyahu also responding to the fatal attack, saying, "Sooner or later we will need to finish the job in Gaza, and that we will do." Netanyahu called [for] "an immediate strike with an iron fist."
[Jerusalem Post]

IDF gets OK to respond to Gaza attack -Yaakov Katz

The IDF has received a green light to respond to a bomb attack against a military patrol along the border with the Gaza Strip in which one soldier was killed and three others were wounded.

Early Tuesday morning, a Beduin tracker was killed and an officer was seriously wounded when a large bomb exploded next to their patrol along the border near the Kissufim Crossing. Two other soldiers were lightly wounded.
[Jerusalem Post]

Monday, January 26, 2009

Palestinian Authority money flows to Islamic Jihad

PA Paying Salaries to Islamic Jihad -Khaled Abu Toameh

Col. Radi Assidah, the PA security commander in Jenin, said that his force is protecting and providing shelter to Islamic Jihad fugitives.

A number of Islamic Jihad terrorists wanted by Israel handed themselves over to PA security forces five months ago out of fear of arrest by Israel, Assidah said. "They sought refuge with us," he said. "Since then we have been hosting them in our headquarters. They are not prisoners and they are entitled to leave whenever they want."

Assidah also revealed that the PA government of Salam Fayyad was paying the wanted Islamic Jihad men monthly salaries.
(Jerusalem Post)


Can the Palestinian Authority's Fatah Forces Retake Gaza?
-Dan Diker & Khaled Abu Toameh

PA Prime Minister Fayyad pays the monthly salaries of between 6,000 and 12,000 Hamas Executive Force operatives in Gaza, in line with the 2007 Mecca national unity agreement, as well as to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades terrorists.

The U.S. must avoid the temptation of once again blindly relying on Fatah as the sole security and reconstruction subcontractor for Gaza.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Report: UNRWA Pays Terrorists -Yitzhak Benhorin

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees employs and provides benefits for terrorists and criminals, asserts former legal adviser to UNRWA James Lindsay.
(Ynet News)

European Union slams Hamas, but pumps money into Gaza

Top EU official: Hamas fully responsible for Gaza war

Hamas bears full responsibility for the war in Gaza, a top EU official said, calling the group "a terrorist movement."

"At this time we have to also recall the overwhelming responsibility of Hamas," Louis Michel [pictured above], European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, told reporters. "I intentionally say this here [in Gaza] - Hamas is a terrorist movement and it has to be denounced as such," Michel said.

"Public opinion is fed up to see that we are paying over and over again - be it the [European] commission, the member states or the major donors - for infrastructure that will be systematically destroyed," he said.

Reuters quoted the EU official as saying that the Islamic group had used civilians as "human shields" by placing operatives in residential areas, and said that the years of terrorist rocket-fire on southern Israel served as a "provocation."

A Hamas official, Mushir al-Masri, was quoted by Reuters as saying his group was "shocked" at Michel's comments.

Michel [then] announced $74 million in emergency aid for Palestinians.
[Jerusalem Post]

West Can Help By Passing Up Hamas -Natan Sharansky [pictured above]

We should expect that [money] will start pouring into Gaza. Whoever is in charge of receiving and distributing these funds will hold the keys to power there for the foreseeable future.

[W]e should do everything in our power to deepen Hamas' political isolation rather than relieve it. This means working with the PA. But the PA can't be the answer, either. It is, simply, far too corrupt.

[When I was] Minister of Industry and Trade in the Israeli government, I saw this corruption first-hand: Public money was routinely funneled into private accounts; joint economic ventures benefited the family businesses of PA leaders; and Palestinian employees were forced to give up a significant part of their salaries as kickbacks to bureaucrats. Hamas was elected, after all, because of popular backlash against the PA's corruption.

The answer is the creation of an international body that makes sure that every project contributes directly to Palestinian life, not politics.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Karma kicks Jihad

Arab Attacker Killed by his Own Rock -Maayana Miskin

A Palestinian Authority Arab who stoned cars in Samaria was killed by one of his own rocks. The Arab teenager hurled heavy stones at Israeli-owned vehicles along a Samaria highway. He managed to hit one car, which was driven by a resident of the nearby town.

[T]he attacker was killed when a stone he threw hit the car's tire and bounced back at high speed, hitting the attacker and leaving him with a fatal head injury.
[Arutz Sheva]

Al Qaeda bungles arms experiment -Eli Lake

Al Qaeda affiliate closed a base in Algeria earlier this month after an experiment with unconventional weapons went awry, a senior U.S. intelligence official.

[P]ress reports [state] that the accident killed at least 40 al Qaeda operatives. [T]he mishap led the militant group to shut down [the] base in the mountains of eastern Algeria.

[A]uthorities intercepted an urgent communication between [two] al Qaeda leaders suggest[ing] that an area, sealed to prevent leakage of a biological or chemical substance, had been breached.
[Washington Times]
[Hat Tip: Daniel Pipes]

Einstein invoked in George Mitchell's elevation

George Mitchell's Return
-Daniel Pipes

[H]ow can one take seriously yet another diplomatic initiative [from George Mitchell]? Here is a partial listing of diplomatic initiatives undertaken since 2001:

George W. Bush's June 2002 speech.
The Geneva Accords.
The Quartet.
The Roadmap.
The Mitchell Report
The Tenet Understandings
The Abdullah Plan.
The "Benchmarks" for peace.
The Zinni mission.
The Wolfensohn mission
The Ward mission.
The Dayton mission.
The Annapolis Foundation, headed by James L. Jones.
The Fraser mission.

Albert Einstein [pictured above] defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Could someone explain to me how that definition does not apply to this effort? Does anyone wish to wager on its chances for success?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mitchell appointment: same old tired strategy

Old Hand for an Old Mission -Jackson Diehl

President Obama named former senator George J. Mitchell [pictured] as a special envoy to the Middle East. The 75-year-old Arab American's return to duty was a reminder that much of what the new administration is facing in the region isn't new - and neither is the initial strategy Obama has adopted.

Mitchell headed a panel that was launched in the last days of the Clinton administration, and in May 2001 delivered recommendations to the Bush administration that called for a cease-fire, followed by a series of confidence-building measures. The problem, of course, is that the Mitchell plan of 2001 was a flop. Formally endorsed by all sides, endlessly discussed for more than a year, it eventually went nowhere. So why try the Mitchell approach again?
(Washington Post)

History's tragic farce –Caroline Glick

In December 2000, outgoing president Bill Clinton appointed Mitchell to advise him on how to reignite the "peace process" after the Palestinians rejected statehood and launched their terror war against Israel. Mitchell presented his findings to Clinton's successor, George W. Bush, in April 2001.

Mitchell asserted that Israel and the Palestinians were equally to blame for the Palestinian terror war against Israelis. He recommended that Israel end all Jewish construction outside the 1949 armistice lines, and stop fighting Palestinian terrorists.

As for the Palestinians, Mitchell said they had to make a "100 percent effort" to prevent the terror that they themselves were carrying out. This basic demand was nothing new. It formed the basis of the Clinton administration's nod-nod-wink-wink treatment of Palestinian terrorism since the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994.

By insisting that the PLO make a "100 percent effort," to quell the terror it was enabling, the Clinton administration gave the Palestinians built-in immunity from responsibility. Every time that his terrorists struck, Yasser Arafat claimed that their attacks had nothing to do with him. He was making a "100 percent effort" to stop the attacks, after all.

Mitchell, of course, is not the only one repeating the past. His boss, Barack Obama, is about to repeat the failures his immediate predecessors. Like Clinton and Bush, Obama is making the establishment of a Palestinian state the centerpiece of his foreign policy agenda. Obama made this clear his first hour on the job. On Wednesday at 8 a.m., Obama made his first phone call to a foreign leader. He called PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas [and] pledged his commitment to Palestinian statehood.

Apparently, no one in positions of power in Washington has stopped to consider why it is that in spite of the fervent backing of presidents Clinton and Bush, there is still no Palestinian state.

[T]he US ha[s] based [its] plans for peace on the assumption that the PLO is interested in making peace, [a]nd the assumption that the Palestinians are interested in statehood. Yet over the past 15 years it has become abundantly clear that neither of these assumptions is correct.

Given that there is no chance that Israeli territorial giveaways will lead to a peaceful Palestinian state, is there any way to compel American politicians to give up their fantasies of fancy signing ceremonies in the White House Rose Garden? As far as Mitchell is concerned the answer is no.

So much for "change" in US foreign policy.
[Jerusalem Post]

The Dangers of closing Guantánamo

Freed by U.S., Saudi Becomes a Qaeda Chief -Robert F. Worth

The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed that the detention center be shut down within a year.

The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.

His status was announced in an Internet statement by the militant group and was confirmed by an American counterterrorism official. Although the Pentagon has said that dozens of released Guantánamo detainees have “returned to the fight,” its claim is difficult to document.
[New York Times]

Tunnel vision

Egypt Halting Arms Flow? Forget It! -General Giora Eiland

Its most important success is that the [IDF] operation will produce quiet for a long time in the south. Israel's deterrence has been reasserted. The IDF was successful, the public has been reassured, the home front functioned well.

The issue of arms smuggling into Gaza is much more problematic. The only truly effective way to prevent the smuggling would be for the Egyptians to build a buffer zone five kilometers from the border, fence it off, and control the only road through the sand. But they won't do that.

Israel should be prepared to ease certain border restrictions if the Red Cross is allowed to visit [captured IDF soldier Gilad] Shalit - and should not ease that access if the Red Cross is not allowed to visit.
(Jerusalem Post)

Hamas Takes Control of All Gaza Tunnels -Yaakov Katz

Hamas has seized control of all the smuggling tunnels under the Philadelphi Corridor in southern Gaza and has been moving in additional arms since the Gaza operation ended.

The tunnels in Rafah are usually run by local Palestinian clans. Hamas' decision to take control enables it to decide what is smuggled in and to give priority to weapons and explosives.
(Jerusalem Post)

War Crimes Accusation Against Israel -Alan Dershowitz

If Russia did not commit war crimes when its soldiers massacred tens of thousands of Chechnyans (not even in a defensive war), then on what basis could Israel be accused of accidentally killing a far fewer number of human shields in an effort to protect its civilians?

If the laws of war and international human rights are to endure, they must be applied to nations in order of the seriousness of the violations, not in order of the political unpopularity of the nations.
(Huffington Post)

A hostile atmosphere in American universities?

The Abuse of Academic Freedom: University of California
-Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

Under the mantle of academic freedom, falsehoods and distortions about Zionism and Israel are heard in classrooms and at officially-sponsored events on many university campuses.

At the University of California, Santa Cruz, numerous cases of faculty-generated anti-Zionist political advocacy have been documented. Evidence of academic-freedom abuse has been presented to the faculty senate and administration for further investigation, but these efforts have largely been unsuccessful.
(Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama: the pressure on Israel begins

-Hillary Leila Krieger

US President Barack Obama declared his intention to pursue peace between Israelis and Palestinians [and] announced that [a] new envoy, George Mitchell [pictured], would soon be dispatched to the region.

[Obama] backed Israel's security needs but also called for the Gaza border crossings to be open as part of efforts to consolidate a recent ceasefire. [H]e called on Israel to open the border crossings and the Palestinian Authority along with the international community [to] monitoring access points.

"It will be the policy of my administration to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as Israel and its Arab neighbors," he said.
[Jerusalem Post]

Mitchell: 'Every conflict can be solved' -Herb Keinon

The peace agreements reached in Northern Ireland are proof that "there is no such thing as a conflict that can't be ended," George Mitchell, US President Barack Obama's choice for new Middle East envoy, told The Jerusalem Post last month.

Mitchell said: "I understand your feelings. But [c]onflicts are created by human beings, and can be ended by human beings. It may take a long time. But with committed, active and strong leadership, it can happen here in the Middle East."

Mitchell, was the head of a committee established soon after the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000, to determine the causes of the violence and ways to end it. The Mitchell Report called for an immediate cessation of violence and a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian Authority security cooperation, and a series of "confidence-building measures." The [report called for] Israel to "freeze all settlement activity, including the 'natural growth' of existing settlements."

One government official said Mitchell's position on zero settlement construction, together with new National Security Adviser James Jones's articulation of frustration at Israel, would likely put Israel and the new administration on a collision course.
[Jerusalem Post]


Hamas Is Not the IRA: The Myths, Misconceptions and Misapplication of the Northern Ireland Peace Process
- John Bew and Martyn Frampton

It has become fashionable to look to the lessons of the peace process in Northern Ireland as holding insights for other areas of conflict in the world. However, [t]he aims of the IRA posed no existential threat to the British. This is not the case where Israel and Hamas are concerned. Hamas' founding objectives are irreconcilable with the existence of the Israeli state.

Unlike Northern Ireland, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one in which a number of regional powers have an important stake. Moreover, also unlike Northern Ireland, it would appear that some of the main players in the conflict have no interest in peace and stability.
(ICA-Jerusalem Center)

Israel Rules Out Opening Gaza Border -Adam Entous

Israel has all but ruled out fully reopening border crossings with Gaza as long as Hamas rules the enclave or stands to benefit from the easing of restrictions, a top adviser to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said. The adviser said Israel would allow the "maximum" flow of food, medicine, oil and gas to Gaza, but steel and cement needed for rebuilding would have to wait. "If opening the passages will strengthen Hamas, we won't do it," he said.

This week, Israel told the UN and other aid groups planning for the rebuilding that they must apply for project-by-project Israeli approval and provide guarantees none of the work will benefit Hamas.

Israel: the West's Ace

Israel's Role as an Asset for the West -Jonathan Spyer

Israel physically resist[s] anti-Western forces and thus dent[s] their charisma.

This then creates a space whereby pro-Western Arab states can make the case that opposition to the West and to Israel is a road to nowhere.

This is precisely the way that radical Arab nationalism was broken in the 1960s, which made possible the eventual achievement of peace between Egypt and Israel. It is in this way that Israel plays a crucial role as an ally and asset for the West. The radical Islamist ideology promoted by Iran is likely ultimately to be broken in a similar way.
(Jerusalem Post)

Obama: time to show your cards

Obama's First Call Is to Abbas -Tom Baldwin

President Obama vowed to engage immediately in pursuit of a permanent Arab-Israeli settlement. Obama told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that their conversation was his first with a foreign statesman since taking office.

Obama Must Choose -Steven Erlanger

With the rule of Hamas in Gaza apparently unchallenged and its popularity growing in the West Bank, the new Obama administration faces an immediate policy choice: support a Palestinian unity government, as Egypt and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas want, or continue to isolate Hamas and concentrate on building up the West Bank as a political alternative to radical Islam.
(New York Times)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hamas resumes smuggling operation

Gaza smuggling tunnels operating despite IDF offensive -Brenda Gazzar

Smuggling into Gaza from Egypt is underway again, only days after the end of the IDF operation against Hamas.

AP Television News footage showed Palestinian smugglers with petrol that came through a cross-border tunnel from Egypt. The footage also shows workers busy clearing blocked tunnels and bulldozers carrying out other repairs.

One of the stated goals of the IDF offensive was to stop the smuggling through the hundreds of tunnels under the border. The goods coming through have included a steady flow of rockets and other weapons.
[Jerusalem Post]

Obama begins with a warning for jihadists

President Obama's Inaugural Address: "We Will Defeat You"

"For those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you."

"To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."
(Associated Press)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gaza: reflections on the aftermath, Part 2

-Bret Stephens

All [the gains of the Gaza war] could be overturned the moment Iran goes nuclear and attempts to thwart Israel's freedom of action. Nor is it foreordained that Israel will enjoy the relatively favorable international circumstances that facilitated the past three weeks of war, or that Hamas will perform poorly the next time. "Usually, the one who loses does his homework better," observes [a senior Israeli military] official.

Bottom line: Israel has scored an impressive tactical victory. But it has missed the strategic opportunity to rid itself of the menace on its doorstep. In the Middle East, opportunities don't always knock twice.
[Wall Street Journal]

Despite Its Threats, Hamas Put Up Light Resistance -Matti Friedman

Before Israel invaded Gaza, Hamas vowed to turn the territory into a "graveyard" for Israeli soldiers. The results were markedly different.

The Islamic group's fighters put up little resistance and the Israeli army emerged relatively unscathed. For a guerrilla group operating on its urban home turf, it wasn't much of a fight.

Hamas Halts Rocket Attacks -Calev Ben-David & Saud Abu Ramadan

There were no reported rockets Monday.

Rebuilding Gaza May Legitimize Hamas -Herb Keinon

Concern is mounting in Jerusalem that the massive efforts expected for Gaza reconstruction will lead to a de facto recognition of Hamas rule there. Another Israeli concern is that the massive amounts of steel and concrete that will be needed to rebuild Gaza will be rerouted to reconstructing Hamas' badly damaged rocket-producing capabilities.

EU Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said that reconstruction of buildings and infrastructure would only begin when the EU had an acceptable Palestinian partner. She strongly hinted that it would be difficult to rebuild Gaza as long as Hamas remained opposed to peace efforts.

"We don't want to go on to reconstruct Gaza every I-don't-know-how-many years," she said. "What we would like to see is a clear sustainable peace." (Jerusalem Post)

Hamas Torturing Fatah Members -Khaled Abu Toameh

Hamas militiamen have rounded up hundreds of Fatah activists on suspicion of "collaboration" with Israel during the Gaza war, Fatah members said. The Hamas crackdown intensified after the cease-fire went into effect.

A Fatah official in Ramallah said at least 100 of his men had been killed or wounded as a result of the massive Hamas crackdown. Some had been brutally tortured. According to the official, at least three of the detainees had their eyes put out by their interrogators.
(Jerusalem Post)

Fatah: We Also Fought IDF in Gaza -Khaled Abu Toameh

Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, announced that its men in Gaza fired 102 rockets and 35 mortars at Israel during the war.

Ali Hijazi, the group's commander, was killed during the operation. The group said that most of its attacks were carried out in cooperation with Islamic Jihad. (Jerusalem Post)

Israel's Right to Exist -Mortimer Zuckerman

What the world cannot remember the Israelis cannot forget.

The Israelis know the Jewish nation has been one defeat away from extinction for 70 years. They know that every partition plan in the region, from the dawn of Zionism to the present day, has failed because of the Arab failure to accept the State of Israel. They know that the Palestinian leadership is virtually hopeless, wherein the people who are moderate are not effective and the people who are effective are not moderate.

Israel is so small it has no margin for error. When Israel left the West Bank, it became a base for suicide bombers, ultimately forcing the Israelis to go back at great cost. They've since built a security fence, but a fence will not protect people from rockets.
(U.S. News)

The Disproportionate Criticism of Israel -Robert Fulford

The world says: "[O]f course I support Israel's right to defend itself - but not in this way."

We are expected to assume there must be a better way to defeat Israel's tormentors, a way that will win the world's respect. No one ever explains this strategy, perhaps because no such strategy exists.
(National Post-Canada)

'Pictures of Victory' -Caroline Glick

Hamas' continued firing of missiles at southern Israel after Olmert declared the cease-fire, showed [that] Israel failed to deter Hamas. But while they failed to accomplish either of Operation Cast Lead's operational goals, they did accomplish - at least for now - their main strategic goal. They succeeded in not losing. Olmert's primary objective - was to erase the public's memory of Israel's strategic failure in the Second Lebanon War. This goal was partially achieved. The IDF performed with greater competence in Gaza than in Lebanon. And Israel achieved its aim of not being defeated in Gaza. As a result, the nation feels much more confident about the IDF's ability to defend the country.

Although Hamas was not defeated, remains in full control of Gaza and has the ability to rebuild its forces, it was harmed. The IDF's operation did knock out its central installations, reduce its capacity to fight and killed some of its key leaders. With their capitulationist world view, the [current government] cannot bring Israel victory over our enemies. The most they can deliver is an absence of defeat. [T]he next [Israeli] government will need to contend with Israel's two greatest challenges - preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and preventing the new Obama administration from undermining Israel's strategic position by selling out Israel's security to buy "pictures of victory" of its own with Iran and Syria.
[Jerusalem Post]

Monday, January 19, 2009

Gaza: reflections on the aftermath, Part I

How Well Did Hamas Fight? -Ehud Ya'ari

Hamas abandoned the heart of "Kassamland" - the areas surrounding Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun and Atatra - almost without resistance.

The offensive array of bunkers and tunnels, booby-trapped buildings prepared for detonation from afar, and all the other tricks adopted by Hamas were captured intact.

From the perspective of the people of Gaza, Hamas simply abandoned the arena and fled into the crowded neighborhoods. Once there, Hamas fighters hurriedly shed their uniforms. Many of them simply deserted and returned to their families.
(Jerusalem Report)

Don't Count on Egypt to Curb Arms Smuggling -Mordechai Kedar

No agreement to end arms smuggling will be implemented, even if the Egyptian regime wants it to happen. The Bedouins in the Sinai will continue to smuggle regardless of decisions that bind Egypt.

Those familiar with Egyptian realities know that policemen at Sinai roadblocks, who earn several dozen dollars a month, will not stop taking bribes from trucks transferring arms to Gaza. In addition, the chances that a presidential decision on curbing smuggling will be implemented administratively are slim. Mubarak may want it, but his decisions are not carried out. This is not about malice; it's merely Egypt.
(Ynet News)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

With Israel's failure to crush Hamas, competing victory claims emerge: reality suffers

Israel begins to move troops out, even as missles are fired by Hamas. By failing to remove Hamas' military capacity, Israel left the door open for competing victory claims. This may remind you of the failed Lebanon war of recent memory.

Departing IDF tank troops wave the "V" sign for Victory [top].
Arab Israelis supporting Hamas, do the same in Jaffa [bottom].

UPDATES: Monday, January 19th

Haniyeh: We have achieved victory -Khaled Abu Toameh

In a speech broadcast on Hamas television, Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said the Palestinians had achieved a historical and strategic victory over Israel, and claimed that Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip had failed.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Hamas leader in Syria Khaled Mashaal and congratulated him on the "great victory" the Palestinians had achieved over the IDF, the Iranian IRNA news agency reported. Ahmadinejad said that this was "just the beginning of the victory, which will be completed with patience."

Mashaal reportedly told Ahmadinejad that Israel had failed to reach its "satanic" goals...
[Jerusalem Post]

Israel Begins Pullout -Craig Whitlock & Jonathan Finer

Israeli soldiers flashed the victory sign as they began withdrawing from Gaza.

Although Hamas sustained the heavier losses, by a lopsided margin, Israeli officials acknowledged that Hamas could quickly rebuild and that it still posed a long-term threat to Israel.
(Washington Post)

Stage Three Gaza Attack Aimed at Psyche -Abraham Rabinovich

Israel's endgame in Gaza is proving as surprising and remorseless as the stunning air attack that opened the war. The unexpected armored plunge towards the heart of Gaza City on Thursday, and air attacks on two of Hamas' top political figures, seem to have had a psychological dimension, undermining Hamas' morale and avoiding any ambiguity about the outcome of the war. With Israeli tanks reaching within 4 km of the center of Gaza City and encountering only sporadic fire, it will be difficult for Hamas to claim heroic resistance.
(The Australian)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Israel calls a ceasefire even as Hamas continues launching missles and Gilad Shalit remains captive

Israel's Prime Minister declares ceasefire -Herb Keinon

[T]he [Israeli] security cabinet Saturday night approved [a]cease-fire by a vote of 7-2, with one abstention.

Israel will stop its offensive, but will keep the IDF forces in place, see how Hamas responds and whether an effective mechanism will be set up on the border to stop smuggling.

[Prime Minister] Olmert said the cease-fire would go into effect at 2 a.m. Sunday morning.

Immediately following Olmert's announcement, Hamas fired eight missiles at Israel. The return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit was not a condition of the cease-fire...
[Jerusalem Post]

Late-night rocket barrage slams South -Shelly Paz & Yaakov Lappin

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip continue to fire rockets at the western Negev on Saturday evening, despite a cabinet decision that the IDF would halt their fire from 2 a.m. Sunday.

At least seven rockets were fired after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced the unilateral cease-fire, with one Grad-type rocket causing power outages in Ashdod. Rockets also hit Ashkelon and Beersheba.
[Jerusalem Post]


Hamas declares ceasefire, gives IDF one week to withdraw
-Khaled Abu Toameh

Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal [pictured above] announced on Syrian television on Sunday afternoon that the Islamic group would implement a cease-fire in which they would halt all military activity and give IDF troops one week to pull out of the Gaza Strip.

According to the statement, Israel must end the blockade and open the Rafah border crossing. The development comes after Israel declared a unilateral cease-fire which took effect earlier Sunday morning. The two cease-fires do not appear to be coordinated with each other, and have contradicting demands.

While Israel said it would halt all military activity, it said it would maintain its presence in Gaza until it was clear that Palestinian gunmen would honor the calm.

Israel said it would not open any border crossings until all hostilities have ceased.

Hamas said it would continue to fight despite Israel's decision unilaterally end the offensive. However, defiant statements issued by a number of Hamas representatives were countered by sources close to the movement which said the group would honor the cease-fire. "Hamas needs the lull," the sources said. "They have been hit hard and they have no choice but to comply."
[Jerusalem Post]

VideoBite: Trailer for newly released "Defiance"

Glick sees deteriorating US - Israel relationship

The US is distancing itself from Israel –Caroline Glick

[O]ver the past three years, the US has been expansive, indeed obsessive in its support for Fatah at Israel's expense. Rather than recognize that the Palestinian voters' decision to elect Hamas to lead them in January 2006 constituted a rejection of the notion of a two-state solution on the part of Palestinian society, the Bush administration judged the move as an act of civil disobedience reminiscent, in Rice's view, of the US civil rights movement.

Far from cutting the Palestinians off, the US massively increased its assistance to the Palestinian Authority. For the first time US taxpayers began financing the PA's budget and so, indirectly paying the salaries of both Fatah and Hamas terrorists.

Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton pledged in her Senate confirmation hearings that the new administration will immediately seek to engage Iran diplomatically. She also stated that the US intends to actively pursue better relations with Iran's Arab satellite-state, Syria. Moreover, she pledged that the Obama administration will make an immediate push to establish a Palestinian state.

Clinton's testimony makes clear that Obama's major initiatives will all involve forcing Israel to pay a price. According to a source in close contact with Obama's transition team, the first price that Israel will be pressured to pay will be the [strategically vital] Golan Heights.

Obama has pledged that soon after taking office he will make a major speech in an Islamic capital to strengthen US ties to the Muslim world. And the source asserts that Obama intends to make that speech in Damascus. Moreover, he intends to pressure Israel to surrender the Golan Heights to Syria as "payback" for any Syrian indication that it will weaken its ties to Iran.

No one, not even our friends, will fight out battles for us.
[Jerusalem Post]

Friday, January 16, 2009

A call for Israel to hit Iran now

Israel should hit Iran now -Leslie J. Sacks

As a fortuitous addition to [Israel's] demonstrable deterrence, might Israel choose the coming days before President-elect Obama's forthcoming inauguration to settle the Iranian question?

Perhaps, conveniently-leaked news of President Bush's refusal to supply Israel with crucial bunker-buster bombs may just be the kind of calming diversion the Iranians need to dumb down their defenses. Before an unknown Obama arises, and in the last few days of a supportive, but waning Bush, perhaps fate has Iran's nuclear facilities in her crosshair. It will not be long before we will know whether history is indeed in the making.
[Leslie J. Sacks]

Reflections on Gaza: Day 21

On Proportionality -Michael Walzer

How many civilian casualties are "not disproportionate to" the value of avoiding the rocketing of Tel Aviv?
(New Republic)

Israel Focused on War Aims in Gaza -Alistair Lyon

Israel's war aims, such as restoring Israel's military deterrence and badly damaging Hamas' armed capacity, have already been achieved. Others, such as stopping Hamas rocket fire into Israel and preventing the Islamist movement from rearming, are still incomplete.

"Our that Hamas has over-played its hand," said former Mossad chief Danny Yatom. "What's even more amazing is that the Arab states basically want Hamas to be hit..."

"Iranian Unit" of Hamas Has Been Destroyed -Amos Harel & Avi Issacharoff

Palestinian sources reported that the "Iranian Unit" of Hamas, trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, had been destroyed in fighting in the Zeytun neighborhood of Gaza City. The IDF took control of one of the large residential neighborhoods of Gaza City, Tel al-Hawa, that borders the center of the city.

The Dahiya Doctrine: Applying Disproportionate Force
-Amos Harel & Avi Issacharoff

Al-Jazeera faithfully broadcasts all the announcements issued by various unknown Palestinian factions about their alleged successes in the Gaza fighting.

The running captions at the bottom of the screen report non-stop on wholly fictitious events. The Popular Resistance Committees announce they have destroyed a Merkava tank; there are numerous false reports about IDF soldiers being killed. Hamas propaganda films immortalizing a strike on Israeli soldiers are broadcast over and over again. The viewer can't help but conclude that, at any moment, Hamas' forces are about to reach Gaza's northernmost point and that the IDF is fighting a desperate battle to push them back.

When Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh eventually emerges from his bunker, he will proclaim his organization the victor - and plenty of people will believe it.

Haniyeh will have a harder time convincing Gazans.

Hamas in Tactical Rethink -Abraham Rabinovich

Hamas hoped to humble the IDF by employing unconventional, quasi-guerilla tactics in densely built-up areas a conventional army would have difficulty dealing with. In ten days of ground combat, however, Hamas offered only sporadic resistance, melting away before the Israeli advance while suffering heavy casualties and inflicting few.
(The Australian)

Hard Lesson for Hamas –Editorial

Hamas is defeated, or is in the process of being defeated.

It is time that Hamas, and the battered people they represent, understand not just the inevitability of defeat, but they must absorb the truth that harassment and provocation are not the way forward.
(Globe and Mail-Canada)

Ending the West's Proxy War Against Israel -Gunnar Heinsohn

Violence and bloodshed are commonly seen in lands such as Gaza where at least 30% of the male population is in the 15-to-29 age bracket. In such "youth bulge" countries, young men tend to eliminate each other or get killed in aggressive wars until a balance is reached between their ambitions and the number of acceptable positions available in their society.

The reason for Gaza's endless youth bulge is that a large majority of its population does not have to provide for its offspring. Most babies are fed, clothed, vaccinated and educated by UNRWA, which is benevolently funded by the U.S. (31%) and the EU (nearly 50%). Unrestrained by such necessities as having to earn a living, the young have plenty of time on their hands for digging smuggling tunnels and firing missiles at Israel.

If we seriously want to avoid another generation of war in Gaza, we must have the courage to tell the Gazans that they will have to start looking after their children themselves, without UNRWA's help. This would force Palestinians to focus on building an economy instead of freeing them up to wage war.
The writer heads the Raphael Lemkin Institute, Europe's first institute devoted to comparative genocide research.
(Wall Street Journal Europe)

Britain's Muslims Should Condemn Hamas, Not Israel -Shiraz Maher

I am a Muslim, something which, in the eyes of many Muslims, means I should automatically defend the "Palestinian struggle." This is absurd.

Is Fatah the alternative?

Improved PA Law Enforcement Capabilities? -David Horovitz

A Palestinian man had his car stolen in Ramallah.

Dutifully, he turned to the local Palestinian Authority police - whose improved law enforcement capacity has been much exalted in certain quarters of late. Police officers proceeded to attempt to negotiate a "ransom" arrangement with the thieves, under which the vehicle would be returned in exchange for an acceptable payment. Dismayed, the victim abandoned that corrupt path, and decided to go all the way to the top.

He contacted the office of PA head Mahmoud Abbas. But officials there also offered to negotiate with the thieves on a fee for the car's return, with a supplementary payment for their own involvement.

If Abbas is incapable of achieving the legitimate return of a stolen car to its rightful owner in his home city of Ramallah, why on earth would anyone consider him capable of marketing to his own people and then implementing a peace agreement with Israel?
(Jerusalem Post)

Save Gaza by Destroying the Heart of Terror -Natan Sharansky

Terrorism is a cancer that can't be cured through "proportional" treatments. It requires invasive surgery. The longer one waits to treat it, the worse it gets, and the harsher the treatment required to defeat it.

Peace can be found only when Palestinians are given the freedom to build real civic institutions, and a leadership can emerge unafraid of telling its own citizens that violence, fanaticism and martyrdom aren't the Palestinian way. But this can happen only once the malignancy of terror is removed from their midst.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Playing ball with Jihad: will Obama resurrect Hamas?

Obama: We're Going to Involve Syria and Iran -Katie Couric

Barack Obama said in an interview : "We're gonna have to involve Syria in discussions. We're gonna have to engage Iran in ways that we have not before."
(CBS News)

Obama camp 'prepared to talk to Hamas' -Suzanne Goldenberg

The incoming Obama administration is prepared to abandon [the] ­doctrine of isolating Hamas by establishing a channel to the Islamist organisation, sources close to the transition team say.
[Guardian News-UK]

Gaza: Day 20

IDF: Civilian Deaths Less than 25% -Yaakov Katz

A maximum of 25% of the Palestinians killed in Gaza since the beginning of the Israeli operation are innocent civilians, the head of the IDF's Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration Col. Moshe Levi, said. According to Palestinian medical officials, more than half of them are civilians.
(Jerusalem Post)

Gaza's True "Disproportion" -Carlos Alberto Montaner

Israelis are being accused of suffering too few casualties in their confrontation with the Hamas terrorists. Until this conflict began, history books everywhere always expressed great satisfaction and a certain pride when a nation's army inflicted on the enemy a large number of casualties.

Israel is the only country expected to behave differently and, in fact, it does; I know of no other nation that announces where and when it will drop its bombs, thus enabling civilians to evacuate the territory.
The writeris one of the most widely-read columnists in the Spanish-language media.
See also: HonestReporting Slideshow "Limiting Harm to Civilians"
See also: Terrorist Bases in the Heart of Civilian Neighborhoods
(Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

Israel's Gaza Venture Hits Chord in Wounded India -Amity Shlaes

Shashi Tharoor, a former UN undersecretary general, summed up [India's] attitude in a recent column on "India's Israel Envy."

"As Israel demonstrates anew its determination to end attacks on its civilians by militants based in Hamas-controlled territory, many in India, still smarting from the horrors of the Mumbai attacks in November, have been asking: Why can't we do the same?"

A growing mutual admiration between India and Israel is showing up at levels both commonplace and lofty.

Ramallah Demonstration Canceled for Lack of Protesters -Avi Issacharoff

[A] demonstration in Ramallah in the West Bank to express support for the residents of Gaza was called off for a lack of protesters.

Hamas Prefers War as an Alternative to Progress -Sami Alrabaa

According to a clandestine survey by Bielefeld University (in Germany) conducted in Syria and Egypt, over 70% of the population in these countries want peace with Israel.

They are "sick and tired," as many put it, of the belligerent discourse of the Islamists and the biased and instigatory propaganda of their national media, though they don't dare say that openly.

In view of the fact that Kuwait and Lebanon allow relatively higher freedom of speech, columnists like Ahemd Al Sarraf, Ali Al Baghli, Hasssan El Essa, Fouad Al Hashem, and Khaleel Haidar in these countries have blasted Hamas and the Islamists for the calamity in Gaza.
The writer is a professor of sociology and a specialist in Arab/Muslim culture.
(National Post-Canada)

NewsALERT: Top Hamas guy down

Said Siam [right] seen behind Mahmoud Zahar

Hamas interior minister Said Siam killed in IAF strike -Yaakov Katz

Hamas's interior minister, Said Siam [pictured abovee] was killed along with his brother and another senior Hamas man in an IAF strike on a house in the Jabaliya neighborhood in Gaza.

Siam was the Hamas political echelon's liaison with the group's military wing, and was responsible for the various security apparatuses in the Strip, including the police, and the naval force.

Salah Abu Shrakh, the head of the Hamas general security service, was also killed in the air strike.

Siam was the most senior Hamas man to be killed in almost three weeks of fighting.
[Jerusalem Post]

VideoBite: BBC news spoof

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Israel balks at ordering full scale assault on Gaza City

Israeli Troops Deep Inside Gaza -Dan Williams

The teeming city of Gaza is encircled by Israeli forces and pounded by the air force as part of a campaign to counter Palestinian rocket fire. Having bisected the strip by straddling its main roads, Israeli troops [pictured above] are probing ever deeper into Gaza's population centers, trying to draw out Palestinian gunmen, while waiting for the government to decide whether to order a full-on assault.

American Public Backs Israel Firmly in War with Hamas -William Douglas

The American people are squarely behind Israel and overwhelmingly think that using force against Hamas is appropriate, according to a new McClatchy/Ipsos poll.

Israel Feels No Pressure to End Gaza Operation -Roni Sofer

Prime Minister Olmert has made it clear that Israel does not face any pressure to end the campaign in Gaza, a senior official in Jerusalem told Ynet Tuesday.

"We don't want to see another Resolution 1701 like we did in Lebanon," he said. "We don't want to find ourselves tomorrow, in two days, or in five or 10 years facing a terror organization armed with missiles that cover the whole of Israel."

"We are not seeking an exit, but rather, success," he said.
(Ynet News)

48 Hours after Wedding, IDF Soldier Critically Wounded in Gaza
-Nadav Shragai, Dana Weiler-Polak, & Nir Hasson

Two weeks ago, 2nd Lt. Aharon Karov got leave from his paratroop unit so he could attend his own wedding. Less than 48 hours after marrying Tzviya Mordechai, he was called back to his unit, and was critically wounded in an explosion in a booby-trapped house in northern Gaza.

The Gaza-Egypt Smuggling Tunnels Must Be Closed -Dore Gold

When Israelis look back on what caused the current conflict in Gaza, they point to their government's decision in September 2005 to leave the narrow "Philadelphi Route" that runs along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula [click on map above for larger view]. More than Israel's disengagement from the Strip as a whole, the abandonment of this strategic area made full-scale war inevitable.

Israelis are concerned that even if Hamas is defeated militarily, its stocks of rockets will be fully replenished by Iran in a matter of months unless the tunnels under the Philadelphi Route are addressed. That is precisely what happened with Hizbullah after the 2006 Lebanon War. There is an added concern that Iran will supply rockets that reach well beyond the 40-kilometer range. In the next war, Hamas could strike Tel Aviv from inside the Gaza Strip.

But the crisis over the Philadelphi Route has taught Israel a bitter lesson about relinquishing critical territory: It was a cardinal error to leave this strategic zone at the perimeter of Gaza, even if Israel wanted to get out of the Strip in its entirety. Israeli leaders including Yitzhak Rabin [of blessed memory] have warned that Israel must never leave the Jordan Valley, the equivalent perimeter zone in the West Bank.
(Wall Street Journal)