Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gaza Terrorists Killed as $7.4B Is Pledged to Palestinians

December 18, 2007
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/68261

UNITED NATIONS — As donors gathered in Paris yesterday to pledge $7.4 billion to help build a Palestinian Arab state, Israel answered the latest rocket attack from Gaza into its southern towns by killing at least six terrorist leaders, including a high-ranking member of Islamic Jihad and another man said to be the leader of the group's rocket-launching unit. Israel's air force — cooperating with its internal intelligence service, Shabak — conducted at least two separate air attacks in Gaza, which were reported to be narrowly targeted, directed strictly at leaders of the rocket-shooting campaign.

The first Gaza City air attack killed the top Islamic Jihad leader in the Strip and the West Bank, Majed Harazin, and two associates. Harazin had rarely traveled by car for fear of such air raids, according to the Associated Press, and was reportedly on Israel's most-wanted list for a decade. A few hours later, according to Ynet, as activists poured into Gaza's streets to display outrage over the initial killing, an air attack hit another prized target, which identified him as the commander of the organization's rocket-launching unit, Karim Dahdouh. Two of his associates were also killed.

Yesterday's Gaza action followed the much-anticipated one-day Paris conference of potential international donors to the future Palestinian state, which was envisioned as an economic follow-up to last month's gathering at Annapolis, Md. The conference's pledges exceeded even the best hopes of the Palestinian Arabs, who said on the eve of the meeting that they expected $5.6 billion in donations to support their economy for the next three years.

At the end of the conference, according to France's foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, the pledges reached $2.9 billion for 2008 alone, and $7.4 billion altogether for the three-year period. Israel's foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, specifically praised pledges from a group of Arab Gulf states, which she said showed their commitment to the Annapolis process.

"The political negotiations were launched at Annapolis," while yesterday's Paris gathering launched "the capacity-building phase, which again I just want to underscore is every bit as important as the political track," Secretary of State Rice told reporters yesterday, referring to the Bush administration's vision of building a Palestinian Arab state by the end of next year. But Ms. Livni, who has stressed that the core negotiations should be conducted bilaterally, with little international involvement, reportedly responded coolly yesterday to a sketchy plan to add a third leg to the international involvement in the diplomacy. "We were at Annapolis, and now we are in Paris," she said, according to Ynet, as she was speaking of a proposed international gathering in Moscow early next year. "Now is the time to start working between the two sides — Israel and the Palestinians."

She also said that the while the world attention's is focused on improving life in the Palestinian territories, Israel security should not be overlooked.

In a pattern that seems to follow the high-profile internationally guided diplomatic process, yesterday's Paris conference was greeted Sunday by a barrage of rockets from Gaza, injuring a toddler in Kibbutz Zikim in southern Israel. A recent study of the use of rockets as weapons shows a significant rise in Palestinian Arab attacks in the aftermath of Israeli peace gestures, such as the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza.

The in-depth study published over the weekend on the Web site of the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center — http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/rocket_threat_e.htm — documents and analyzes the use of rockets, "an asymmetric weapon" that provides "the Palestinian terrorist organizations with a response to Israel's military superiority." Launches rose steadily since such rockets first appeared as weapons in 2000, as Israel and the Palestinian Arab started the Oslo peace negotiations. In 2004, a record number of 281 rockets were launched from Gaza, while the number diminished the following year, when Israel announced its intention to evacuate Gaza of all troops and settlers.

Once the so-called 2005 separation plan was completed and Hamas took over Gaza, however, the most significant increase in the scope of use of this terror weapon occurred, according to the study. There were 946 launches in 2006 and 783 launches so far in 2007 — not including the latest round over the weekend.

"The rocket attacks are a deliberate attempt by the enemies of peace, like Hamas, to derail the peace process," an Israeli U.N. ambassador, Daniel Carmon, wrote to Secretary-General Ban and to the president of the Security Council yesterday.

No comments: