Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Iran-backed Palestinian Groups Continue Attacking Israel


In the three days since Israel’s ceasefire with Iran-backed Hamas formally ended Friday (Dec. 19) Palestinian terrorists have fired 45 rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians, wounding a foreign worker who was hit by shrapnel. Hamas and other Iran-backed terrorist groups claimed responsibility for the attacks, which also hit a home and struck near an elementary school.[1] During the past year, Iran-backed terrorist groups in Gaza have fired more than 3,000 rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians in the southern Negev region, killing four people and wounding more than 270.[2]

Since Israel gave up all of Gaza in 2005 – relinquishing homes, farms, places of business and worship – terrorists have launched more than 6,300 rockets and mortars into Israel from Gaza. The attacks have killed 10 civilians, wounded more than 780 and traumatized thousands of others.[3] The only remaining Israeli in Gaza is Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit who was abducted from Israel on June 25, 2006 by Hamas in a bloody cross-border raid in which the terrorists killed two IDF soldiers and wounded four others.[4]

During a visit five months ago to the southern Israeli city of Sderot, then-candidate and now President-elect Barack Obama defended Israel’s right to protect itself from such attacks: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing."[5]

Speaking about the Iranian nuclear threat, Obama also said during the visit, "A nuclear Iran would pose a grave threat and the world must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."[6]

In addition to firing missiles at Israeli civilians, the terrorist groups have conducted a sustained campaign of attacks against the border crossings from Gaza into Israel. In 2008 alone, there have been more than 17 attacks or attempted attacks on the crossings.

Among the worst were the shooting deaths of two civilian workers at the Nahal Oz fuel terminal into Gaza; two simultaneous vehicle bombings of the Kerem Shalom goods crossing which wounded 13 soldiers manning the crossing and shut it down for more than two months while repairs were carried out; and an attempted truck bombing of the Erez pedestrian crossing through which Palestinian patients seeking medical treatment in Israel are transported.[7] Also in 2008, more than 13,000 Palestinian patients and their escorts have crossed into Israel for medical treatment.[8]

In addition to firing rockets and mortars, terrorists have smuggled vast amounts of war materiel into Gaza. Israeli Minister for Public Security Avi Dichter said that in July 2008 alone, more than four tons of explosives were smuggled into Gaza via tunnels dug by terrorists under the Egypt-Gaza border. There are 400-600 smuggling tunnels running along Gaza’s Philadelphi Corridor, the strip of land spanning the border between Egypt and Gaza.[9]

Iran, one of the chief sponsors of Palestinian terrorism, provides approximately $20 million to $30 million to Hamas annually and also trains Hamas operatives in Iran and Syria.[10] Approximately 950 Hamas terrorists have been trained in building rockets and bombs, tactical warfare, weapons operation and sniper tactics by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a special division of Iran’s armed forces.[11]

On Nov. 28, 2008, an Iranian-manufactured standard 120mm mortar was fired by a terrorist group in Gaza and hit an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) base inside Israel, wounding eight soldiers, one of whom had his leg amputated as a result. The use of Iranian-made munitions by Palestinian terrorists is an increasingly common phenomenon in the conflict.[12]

Internecine Palestinian fighting during the past two years also has dealt a harsh blow to future prospects for peace, with 616 Palestinians killed in factional fighting from the time that Hamas won Palestinian elections in January 2006 through May 2007. [13] In June 2007, when Hamas seized control of Gaza in a bloody coup against Palestinian Authority President’s Fatah faction, 161 Palestinians were killed and at least 700 wounded.[14]

Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, gives Hamas $20 million a year,[15] and provided an additional $50 million after Hamas beat Fatah in the 2006 elections.[16] Iran also provided Hamas members with intensive military training in the weeks and months leading up to the group's takeover of the Gaza Strip.[17]

In September, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, “Iran considered supporting the Palestinians its religious and national duty and would stay beside the Palestinian nation 'until the big victory feast which is the collapse of the Zionist regime (Israel).” [18]

Iran’s top leaders continue to threaten the West – particularly the United States.

In addition to Iran-backed Hamas’ terrorist activities, the group also conducts extensive media operations. It runs the Al-Aqsa TV station which has promoted terrorist activity and incites hatred of Jews and Israelis. On a children’s program called Tomorrow’s Pioneers which has featured numerous life-size costumed animals, the character called Assoud – a rabbit, stated, “I, Assoud, will finish off the Jews and eat them, Allah willing.” The show is but one example of the incitement to hatred and violence promoted by the TV channel. [19]

Experts for Comment in Israel

Professor Ephraim Inbar
Field: Arab-Israeli conflict, strategic developments in the Middle-East
Affiliation: Director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University
Cell: 972-54-660-3409
Tel.: 972-3-535-9198
E-mail: inbare@mail.biu.ac.il

Professor Barry Rubin
Field: Syrian foreign and domestic affairs, relations with Iran and Hezbollah, Arab-Israeli conflict, Islamic Fundamentalism in Egypt, Inter Arab Affairs, Israeli Foreign and Security Policy
Affiliation: Research Director of the Herzliya Inter Disciplinary Center’s Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy; editor of the journal Turkish Studies; member of the editorial board of Middle East Quarterly; Senior fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center's International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism.
Tel.: 972-3-531-8959
E-mail: profbarryrubin@yahoo.com

Dr. Jonathan Spyer
Field: Middle East Affairs, Israel-Palestinian Affairs, International Relations
Affiliation: Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herzliya.
Cell: 972-52-878-3591
E-mail: jspyer@idc.ac.il

Professor Joshua Teitelbaum
Field: U.S. - Israel relations, history and politics of the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians.
Affiliation: Senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Senior Lecturer in the Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University, visiting associate professor of political science at Stanford University.
Cell: 972-54-431-2980

Graph: Rockets and Mortars Fired From Gaza June – December 2008


[1] “Gaza-Hamas Fact Sheet,” Embassy of Israel, Dec. 22, 2008

[2] Data relayed to The Israel Project by IDF Spokesman’s Division, Dec 18, 2008

[3] Data relayed to The Israel Project by IDF Spokesman’s Division, Dec 18, 2008; Berger, Ronny and Gelkopf, Marc, “The Impact of the Ongoing Traumatic Stress Conditions on Sderot,” Natal, The Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War in cooperation with Dr. Mina Tzemach, Director, Dachaf Public Opinion Research Institute, Oct. 2007

[4] Harel, Amos; Issacharoff, Avi; Haaretz Service and Reuters, "Two soldiers killed, one missing in raid on IDF post," Haaretz, June 25, 2006, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/730994.html

[5] Ravid, Barak, "Obama in Sderot: Nuclear Iran would be game-changing," Haaretz, July 23, 2008, http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1004747.html

[6] "Obama says nuclear Iran a "grave threat," Reuters, July 23, 2008, http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSL2376765320080723

[7] “Main terrorist attacks carried out at Gaza Strip crossings,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 4, 2008, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Terror+Groups/Main+terrorist+attacks+carried+out+at+Gaza+Strip+crossings+16-Jan-2005.htm

[8] Data relayed to The Israel Project by the IDF’s Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories, Dec. 10, 2008

[9] “News of the Israeli-Palestinian Confrontation July 22-29, 2008,” Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/jul_e001.htm; “Hamas has lately regulated the flourishing tunnel industry in the Gaza Strip,” Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Oct. 28, 2008, http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/ct_e009.pdf

[10] Hamas," Council on Foreign Relations Web site, http://www.cfr.org/publication/8968/, retrieved July 7, 2008

[11] “Senior Hamas operative figure tells London Sunday Times’ Gaza Strip correspondent about Iranian and Syria military aid, detailing the training received by hundreds of Hamas terrorist operatives and describing the transmission to Hamas of Iranian technical know-how for the manufacture of rockets and IED,” The Terrorist and Intelligence Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center, March 17, 2008, retrieved July 7, 2008, http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_160308e.htm; Colvin, Marie, “Hamas wages Iran’s proxy war on Israel,” The Times, March 9, 2008, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article3512014.ece

[12] “Violation of calm: Rockets strike Sderot, Ashkelon, western Negev,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dec. 17, 2008, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Hamas+war+against+Israel/Rockets_strike_Sderot_Ashkelon_western_Negev_
16-Nov-2008.htm; Harel, Amos, “Gaza mortar shells injure eight soldiers, one loses leg,” Haaretz, Nov. 29, 2008, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1042007.html

[13] “Over 600 Palestinians killed in internal clashes since 2006,” YnetNews, June 6, 2007, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3409548,00.html

[14] “Black Pages in the Absence of Justice: Report on Bloody Fighting in the Gaza Strip from 7 to 14 June 2007,” Palestine Centre for Human Rights, October 2007, http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/Reports/English/pdf_spec/Gaza%20Conflict%20-%20Eng%209%20october..pdf

[15] Hamas," Council on Foreign Relations Web site, http://www.cfr.org/publication/8968/, accessed July 2, 2007

[16] Iran pledges $50m Palestinian aid," BBC News, April 16, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4914334.stm

[17] Rabinovich, Abraham, "Hamas digs in for war in Gaza," The Australian, March 16, 2007

[18] “Ahmadinejad: Iran will support Hamas until collapse of Israel,” Haaretz, Sept. 13, 2008, http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1020630.html

[19] Kalman, Mathew, “Hamas launches TV Bugs Bunny-lookalike who declares 'I will eat the Jews',” The Daily Mail, Feb. 12, 2008, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-513925/Hamas-launches-TV-Bugs-Bunny-lookalike-declares-I-eat-Jews.html; “Al Aqsa TV,” ADL.org, http://www.adl.org/terrorism/profiles/al_aqsa_tv.asp. Accessed on Dec. 22, 2008
The Israel Project is an international non-profit, nonpartisan organization devoted to educating the press and the public about Israel while promoting security, freedom and peace. The Israel Project provides journalists, leaders and opinion-makers accurate information about Israel. The Israel Project is not related to any government or government agency and does not rate or endorse candidates. .

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