Saturday, December 27, 2008

'We'll abduct female soldier'

Popular Resistance Committees spokesman says group plans to kidnap female soldier should IDF enter Gaza, so that 'Gilad Shalit will be able to start family'; Gaza groups have more than 10,000 rockets, 'can drop martyrs from sky into Tel Aviv,' he says

Sharon Roffe-Ofir
Israel News

Palestinian threats: An Israeli invasion of Gaza would draw a harsh Palestinian response, including the kidnapping of more Israeli soldiers, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees warned Friday. Specifically, the group would aim to kidnap a female soldier, the PRC's Abu Abir told the Nazareth-based Arb al-Dahel.

"The resistance movement is talking about the abduction of a female soldier, and we're certain we'll succeed," he said. "Then, Gilad Shalit will be able to start a family, and the negotiations will be for the release of the Shalit family."

Abu Abir also hinted that the abducted Israeli soldier was not held in the Gaza Strip.

"Even if Israel thinks about entering Gaza, or dropping an atomic bomb that would wipe out Gaza, it won't be able to kill Gilad Shalit," he said.

"Ehud Barak won't dare attack," the spokesman told the newspaper, addressing the possibly of an Israeli strike. "He and the Shin Bet know what awaits them in Gaza. Should the IDF attack, Israel won't be able to sustain the Palestinian response even for a day. Any entry into Gaza would prompt the abduction of soldiers – either alive or dead."

"Should Israel enter Gaza, our madness would grow tenfold," Abu Abir added.

When asked whether Palestinian groups possess missiles that can hit Tel Aviv, the PRC spokesman said: "We have more than 10,000 missiles. Some of them are Russian-made, and others are anti-aircraft missiles…We have the ability to neutralize Israel's tanks, and we can also drop martyrs from the sky into Tel Aviv and its suburbs."

"We have missiles with a range of more than 40 kilometers," he added. "It isn't our custom to say what we possess; we'll only do it after we rain the missiles down on the target. All cities within the occupied Palestine are included in the resistance movement's plans."

Friday, December 26, 2008

The 'realist' fantasy


Both Iran and its Hamas proxy in Gaza have been busy this Christmas week showing Christendom just what they think of it. But no one seems to have noticed.

On Tuesday, Hamas legislators marked the Christmas season by passing a Shari'a criminal code for the Palestinian Authority. Among other things, it legalizes crucifixion. Hamas's endorsement of nailing enemies of Islam to crosses came at the same time it renewed its jihad. Here, too, Hamas wanted to make sure that Christians didn't feel neglected as its fighters launched missiles at Jewish day care centers and schools. So on Wednesday, Hamas lobbed a mortar shell at the Erez crossing point into Israel just as a group of Gazan Christians were standing on line waiting to travel to Bethlehem for Christmas.

While Hamas joyously renewed its jihad against Jews and Christians, its overlords in Iran also basked in jihadist triumphalism. The source of Teheran's sense of ascendancy this week was Britain's Channel 4 network's decision to request that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad give a special Christmas Day address to the British people. Ahmadinejad's speech was supposed to be a response to Queen Elizabeth II's traditional Christmas Day address to her subjects. That is, Channel 4 presented his message as a reasonable counterpoint to the Christmas greetings of the head of the Church of England.

Channel 4 justified its move by proclaiming that it was providing a public service. As a spokesman told The Jerusalem Post, "We're offering [Ahmadinejad] the chance to speak for himself, which people in the West don't often get the chance to see."

While that sounds reasonable, the fact is that Westerners see Ahmadinejad speaking for himself all the time. They saw him at the UN two years in a row as he called for the countries of the world to submit to Islam; claimed that Iran's nuclear weapons program is divinely inspired; and castigated Jews as subhuman menaces to humanity.

They saw him gather leading anti-Semites from all over the world at his Holocaust denial conference.

They heard him speak in his own words when he called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."

And of course, over the years Ahmadinejad has often communicated directly to the British people. For instance, in 2007 he received unlimited airtime on UK television as he paraded kidnapped British sailors and marines in front of television cameras; forced them to make videotaped "confessions" of their "crime" of entering Iranian territorial waters; and compelled them to grovel at his knee and thank him for "forgiving" them.

The British people listened to Ahmadinejad as he condemned Britain as a warmongering nation after its leaders had surrendered Basra to Iranian proxies. They heard him - speaking in his own voice - when he announced that in a gesture of Islamic mercy, he was freeing their humiliated sailors and marines in honor of Muhammad's birthday and Easter, and then called on all Britons to convert to Islam.

Yet as far as Channel 4 is concerned, Ahmadinejad is still an unknown quantity for most Britons. So they asked him to address the nation on Christmas. And not surprisingly, in his address, he attacked their way of life and co-opted their Jewish savior, Jesus, saying, "If Christ was on earth today, undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers."

He then reiterated his call for non-Muslims to convert to Islam saying, "The solution to today's problems can be found in a return to the call of the divine prophets."

THE FACT of the matter is that Channel 4 is right. There is a great deal of ignorance in the West about what the likes of Ahmadinejad and his colleagues in Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas stand for. But this isn't their fault. They tell us every day that they seek the destruction of the Jews and the domination of the West in the name of Islam. And every day they take actions that they believe advance their goals.

The reason that the West remains ignorant of the views and goals of the likes of Hamas and Iran is not that the latter have hidden their views and goals. It is because the leading political leaders and foreign policy practitioners in the West refuse to listen to them and deny the significance of their actions.

As far as the West's leaders are concerned, Iran and its allies are unimportant. They are not actors, but objects. As far as the West's leading foreign policy "experts" and decision-makers are concerned, the only true actors on the global stage are Western powers. They alone have the power to shape reality and the world. Oddly enough, this dominant political philosophy, which is based on denying the existence of non-Western actors on the world stage, is referred to as political "realism."

The "realist" view was given clear expression this week by one of the "realist" clique's most prominent members. In an op-ed published Tuesday in Canada's Globe and Mail titled, "We must talk Iran out of the bomb," Richard Haas, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, argued that given the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the dangers of a US or Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear installations, the incoming Obama administration must hold direct negotiations with the mullahs to convince them to end their nuclear weapons program.

In making this argument, Haas ignores the fact that this has been the Bush administration's policy for the past five years. He also ignores the fact that President George W. Bush adopted this policy at the urging of Haas's "realist" colleagues and at the urging of Haas himself.

Moreover, Haas bizarrely contends that in negotiating with the mullahs, the Obama administration should offer Iran the same package of economic and political payoffs that the Bush administration and the EU have been offering, and Teheran has been rejecting, since 2003.

Even more disturbingly, Haas ignores the fact that Teheran made its greatest leaps forward in its uranium enrichment capabilities while it was engaged in these talks with the West.

So in making his recommendation to the Obama administration - which has already announced its intention to negotiate with the mullahs - Haas has chosen to ignore Iran's statements, its actions, and known facts about the West's inability to steer it from its course of war by showering it with pay-offs.

Haas and his colleagues in the US, Europe and on the Israeli Left are similarly unwilling to pay attention to Hamas. In an article in the current edition of Foreign Affairs, Haas and his colleague Martin Indyk from the Brookings Institute call on the Obama administration to either ignore Hamas, or, if it abides by a cease-fire with Israel, they suggest that the Obama administration should support a joint Hamas-Fatah government and "authorize low-level contact between US officials and Hamas." The fact that Hamas itself is wholly dedicated to Israel's destruction and Islamic global domination is irrelevant.

Similarly, Haas and Indyk assume that Damascus can be appeased into abandoning its support for Hizbullah and Hamas, and its strategic alliance with Iran. Syrian President Bashar Assad's views of how his interests are best served are unimportant. Both Assad's statements of eternal friendship with Iran and his active involvement in Iran's war effort against the US and its allies in Israel, Iraq and Lebanon are meaningless. The "realists" know what he really wants.

MUSLIMS AREN'T the only ones whose views and actions are dismissed as irrelevant by these foreign policy wise men. The "realists" ignore just about every non-Western actor. Take Iran's principal Asian ally, North Korea, for example.

This week North Korea's official news agency threatened to destroy South Korea in a "sea of fire," and "reduce everything treacherous and anti-reunification to debris and build an independent, reunified country on it," if any country dares to attack its nuclear installations.

North Korea made its threat two weeks after Kim Jung Il's regime disengaged from its fraudulent disarmament talks with the Bush administration. Those talks - the brainchild of foreign policy "realists" Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill - were based on the "realist" belief that the US can appease North Korea into giving up its nuclear arsenal. (That would be the same nuclear arsenal that the North Koreans built while engaged in fraudulent disarmament talks with the Clinton administration.)

After Pyongyang agreed in February 2007 to eventually come clean on its plutonium installations (but not its uranium enrichment programs), and to account for its nuclear arsenal (but not for its proliferation activities), Rice convinced President Bush to remove North Korea from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terror and to end its subjection to the US's Trading with the Enemy Act this past October. And then, after securing those massive US concessions, on December 11 Pyongyang renounced its commitments, walked away from the table and now threatens to destroy South Korea if anyone takes any action against it.

North Korea's behavior is of no interest to the "realists," however. As far as they are concerned, the US has no option other than to continue the failed appeasement policy that has enabled North Korea to develop and proliferate nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. As the Council on Foreign Relations' Gary Samore said, "I think we're sort of condemned to that process, because we don't really have any alternative."

Samore and his colleagues believe there are no other options because all other options involve placing responsibility for contending with North Korea on non-Western powers like China, South Korea and Japan. More radically, they involve holding North Korea accountable for its actions and making it pay a price for its poor behavior.

As the "realists" claim that the US has no option other than their failed appeasement policies, back in the real world, this week military officials from the US's Pacific Command warned that North Korea may supply Iran with intercontinental ballistic missiles. These warnings are credible given that North Korea has been the primary supplier of ballistic missiles and missile technology to Iran and Syria and has played a major role in both countries' nuclear weapons programs.

Defending Channel 4's invitation to Ahmadinejad, Dorothy Byrne, the network's head of news and current affairs, said, "As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East, President Ahmadinejad's views are enormously influential. As we approach a critical time in international relations, we are offering our viewers an insight into an alternative world view."

When you think about it, broadcasting Ahmadinejad really would have been a public service if Byrne or any of the delusional "realists" calling the shots were remotely interested in listening to what he has to say. But they aren't. So far from a public service for Britain, it was a service for those who, unbeknownst to most Britons, are dedicated to destroying their country.

This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1230111707087&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Israel seeks international approval for Gaza Op

FM Livni speaks to counterparts, as well as to representatives in the EU and the United Nations, emphasizes necessity of Israel reaction to unceasing, civilian-targeted rocket fire from Hamas-controlled territory

Roni Sofer
Israel News

The opening of the Gaza crossings Friday morning and the expected transfer of 40 trucks full of food and humanitarian supplies appears to be a tactical decision. Israeli sources say that the move's objective is to allow the Gaza community to stock up on basic necessities, and thus mitigate the situation in the eyes of the international community, in the event that the IDF will need to undertake a military operation in the coastal enclave. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will hold a series of meetings Sunday with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (called the kitchen cabinet) to discuss the option of a potential Gaza operation.

One topic of these meetings will be the homefront's state of readiness and Israel's ability to improve it in the days leading up to a military operation in Gaza. Another meeting will deal with political measures that the Foreign Ministry must achieve in the international community.

Israel has already made a move in this last category over the past few days across the United States, Europe and even in Arab countries, in order to at least to communicate the country's side of the conflict.

Livni herself spoke with her counterparts in many of these countries, as well as to representatives in the United Nations and European Union, emphasizing the necessity of a reaction by Israel to unceasing, civilian-targeted rocket fire from the Gaza Strip in the past week.

'Israel will need to use all its force'

Many of the foreign representatives expressed concern for the humanitarian considerations in Gaza, in the wake of a potential Israeli operation, and this is what the kitchen cabinet's third meeting will deal with.

Foreign Ministry efforts to plead Israel's case will are expected to continue next week.

Livni met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo on Thursday to discuss the developments in Gaza. Upon her return the foreign minister said "Israel cannot accept the situation in the Strip and must protect its citizens.

"Israel wants to live in peace with its neighbors, but we cannot accept the fact that an extremist terror organization is trying to dictate our domestic situation while seeking better terms for a ceasefire that it has violated," she said. "Israel will not be able to restrain itself for much longer.

An official in Jerusalem said "if and when we do launch an operation, we must be prepared to deal with all of its aspects. As it appears now, the international community is calling for Israeli restraint, but it also understands that the current situation is intolerable and that Israel has no other option but to respond militarily to the ongoing rocket fire by Hamas gunmen on our innocent civilians."

On Thursday evening a Qassam fired from Gaza landed in an open area near Ashkelon's southern industrial zone; there were no reports of injuries or damage. In all, six rockets and more than 10 mortars were launched toward Israel throughout the day.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said Thursday regarding the situation in the South that "Israel will need to use all its force in order to damage terror infrastructure and create a different and safe reality in the Gaza vicinity."

Despite the rocket fire, Barak announced that crossings into Gaza will be opened Friday to allow for the transition of humanitarian supplies to the Palestinian residents of the area.

Barak's decision to open the crossings was based on recommendations by professionals in the defense establishment, as well as appeals from international sources.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

How to win Islam over

Olivier Roy and Justin Vaisse
Herald Tribune

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama said he would convene a conference of Muslim leaders from around the world within his first year in office.. Recently aides have said he may give a speech from a Muslim capital in his first 100 days. His hope, he has said, is to "make clear that we are not at war with Islam," to describe to Muslims "what our values and our interests are" and to "insist that they need to help us to defeat the terrorist threats that are there." This idea of trying to reconcile Islam and the West is well-intentioned, of course. But the premise is wrong.

Such an initiative would reinforce the all-too-accepted but false notion that "Islam" and "the West" are distinct entities with utterly different values. Those who want to promote dialogue and peace between "civilizations" or "cultures" concede at least one crucial point to those who, like Osama bin Laden, promote a clash of civilizations: that separate civilizations do exist. They seek to reverse the polarity, replacing hostility with sympathy, but they are still following Osama bin Laden's narrative.

Instead, Obama, the first "post-racial" president, can do better. He can use his power to transform perceptions to the long-term advantage of the U.S. The page he should try to turn is not that of a supposed war between America and Islam, but the misconception of a monolithic Islam being the source of the main problems on the planet: terrorism, wars, nuclear proliferation, insurgencies and the like.

This will be an uphill battle, since this view of a monolithic, dangerous Islam has gained wide acceptance. Whether we're talking about civil war in Iraq, insurgency in Afghanistan, unrest in Kashmir, conflict in Israel-Palestine, nuclear ambitions in Iran, rebellion in the Philippines or urban violence in France, people routinely - but wrongly - single out Islam as the explanation, rather than nationalism or separatism, political ambitions or social ills. This in turn reinforces the idea of a global struggle.

Even the recent attacks in Mumbai, India, cannot be seen primarily through the prism of religion. What the terrorists and supporters of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani militant group believed to have carried out the attacks, have achieved is to make normal relations between India and Pakistan impossible for the foreseeable future. Such groups have always used regional conflicts like that in Kashmir to hold on to power.

Islam explains very little. There are as many bloody conflicts outside of regions where Islam has a role as inside them. There are more Muslims living under democracies than autocracies. There is no less or no more economic development in Muslim countries than in their equivalent non-Muslim neighbors. And, more important, there exist as many varieties of Muslims as there are adherents of other religions. This is why Obama should not give credence to the existence of an Islam that could supposedly be represented by its "leaders."

Who are these leaders anyway? If Obama picks heads of state, he will effectively concede bin Laden's point that Islam is a political reality. If he picks clerics, he will put himself in the awkward position of implicitly representing Christianity - or maybe secularism. In any case, he would meet only self-appointed representatives, most of them probably coming from the Arab world, where a minority of Muslims live.

And such a conference would have negative effects for Western Muslims. By lending weight to the idea of a natural link between Islam and terrorism, it would reinforce the perception that they constitute a sort of foreign body in Western societies.

Most Western Muslims want first and foremost to be considered as full citizens of their respective Western country, not part of any diaspora. And most of them share the so-called Western values.

If the idea of a Muslim summit meeting should be dropped, then what should Obama do?

No more - but also no less - than carrying out the ambitious program he put forward during the campaign: closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay, withdrawing from Iraq, banning torture, pushing for peace in the Middle East and so forth.

These are not in any sense concessions to "Islam," but on the contrary a reassertion that American values are universal and do not suffer any kind of double standard, and that they could be shared by atheists, Christians, Muslims and others.

Obama should also put more faith in the capacity of the rest of the world to recognize that America has turned the page on eight catastrophic years. After all, Americans have just elected a president whose middle name is Hussein. That name goes a long way with many Muslims.
Olivier Roy is a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Justin Vaisse is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution..

Why is Hamas Fighting?

Noah Pollak

The crisis in Gaza is related to the fundamental problem Hamas has faced since it took power in Gaza: It is very difficult to rule over a territory simultaneously as a resistance group and as a political party.. Each ambition interferes with the other, and for Hamas, resistance has always been the fundamental interest. The cease-fire with Israel required Hamas to stop its offensive, which it only did partially — throughout the calm there were sporadic mortar and rocket attacks on Israel — and to cease weapons smuggling and negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit. The first requirement was workable because it took external pressure off Hamas, allowing it to focus on solidifying its control over Gaza. But the latter two were tantamount to Hamas repudiating the reason for its existence and the ideological platform on which it rose to power.

For Hamas, the absence of open conflict could not continue for long, because living conditions in Gaza have been worsening and Hamas has never been interested in or capable of governing outside the context of war. At various times over the past six months, Hamas attacked transfer points between Israel and Gaza. This was done in order to force their closure and exacerbate the food and fuel shortages that encourage the narrative, so popular in international quarters and among journalists covering the crisis, of Gaza’s victimization not at Hamas’ hands, but at Israel’s. The cultivation of this narrative is doubly useful, because victimhood also justifies resuming open war against Israel.

The paradoxical bottom line for Hamas is that crisis, both humanitarian and military, is necessary for legitimacy and survival. So far, Hamas has survived on this razor’s edge. Should an Israeli invasion or major air campaign seem likely, Hamas will probably accede quickly to another hudna. Israel should not take the bait. Instead, a sustained campaign of targeted killings of Hamas leaders and the destruction of Hamas assets, such as smuggling tunnels, should be instituted. The national elections in Israel (among other reasons) make this a bad time to commence a ground campaign. If the IDF can make Hamas fear for its ability to maintain institutional cohesion and governing power while limiting civilian casualties — dead Gazans are a major international lifeline for Hamas — Israel could push Hamas into a position in which it would either have to resume the hudna on unfavorable, even humiliating, terms, or go down in a blaze of martyrdom. This is a dilemma Hamas hopes it won’t have to face.

"Holding Pattern"

Arlene Kushner

Today, thank Heaven, it is raining. We've needed this so badly, and need much more than is coming down right now.

But the cloud cover makes visibility poor and makes any major action from the sky over Gaza unlikely at the moment in any event.

Arutz Sheva reports today that Barak said, after the Security Cabinet meeting yesterday, that he has given the IDF authorization to plan but not to execute a major operation. bewilders me, because the IDF has been planning and for some time now has had in place a number of attack alternatives, pending political approval. Chief of Staff Ashkenazi has said this on several occasions: The IDF is prepared, we're waiting for a go-ahead.

Arutz Sheva is indicating there will be a slow escalation of attacks (which, I add, might include "pinpoint" ground strikes with soldiers going in and out quickly). But who knows.


I'd like to share a piece of particular thoughtfulness, written by Brigadier General (ret.) Dr. Yossi Ben Ari, former intelligence chief of the IDF’s Central Command. Says he:

"Securing tactical quiet is no longer the objective: Israel would never be able to view Hamas, [in] its current ideological form, as a viable dialogue partner that we can reach even minimal agreements with. Today it is already clear that Israel must view the confrontation with Hamas as a 'zero-sum game.' Yes, it’s either 'them or us.'"

Ben Ari is disturbed that we are seeing no "progress in the required intellectual shift from the disgraceful strategic status of permanent respondent, to the proper status required for our existence – initiators and leaders." We are not setting the terms, Hamas is.

"However, it’s not too late yet," he assures us. "We do not have to keep following the path dictated by Hamas. Instead, we can make the Hamastan government scamper as if it had been poisoned."

He recommends taking the initiative not by re-taking the full Gaza Strip, but by doing the following simultaneously:

-- Retaking the Philadelphi Corridor and a kilometer-wide strip around it, to dry up Hamas's capacity to continue to arm.

-- Resuming targeted killings, of both Hamas military and political leaders.

-- Doing comprehensive and continuous air assaults on terror infrastructure.

-- Treating this as a war. Doing everything possible to prevent Hamas from operating from civilian areas.

"Adopting a wide offensive initiative could make the difference: It will certainly affect the way we view ourselves in the future, and no less importantly, the way our image is shaped in the eyes of our enemies and allies.",7340,L-3643967,00.html


Tzipi Livni has met with officials in Cairo, and it seems to me that what transpired is pretty much of a joke.
Mubarak reportedly demanded that Israel use restraint in responding to Hamas rockets. Demanded?

He demanded that Hamas stop launching those rockets, as well. Hamas has been very angry at Egypt of late. Egypt's main leverage over Hamas, such as it exists, involves Egyptian readiness to open the Rafah crossing.


My information from a reliable source is that Egypt, which indeed fears Hamas (an off-shoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood), does not want to be rid of Hamas but simply to control it. They do not want a major Israeli operation in Gaza, their preference being for "cooling it."

I had reported some months ago about the fact that in spite of strong tensions between Sunni Egypt and Shi'ite Iran, Egypt was willing to tolerate Hamas as an Iranian proxy at its border because this was troublesome for Israel. Yesterday, I reported on a possible reduction in those tensions as the Egyptian Amr Mousa speaks of dialogue with Iran. It all comes together when we see Egypt's attitude towards Hamas.


My source also confirmed what I had suspected: That Abbas's total turn-around with regard to sanctioning an Israeli operation in Gaza was the result of Egyptian pressure. Mubarak told him simply not to give his approval to this, and that, literally, is what Abbas said. It was after Abbas's meeting with Mubarak that Abbas also started speaking again about the need for a unity government.


Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit said at a press conference after the meeting today that "Hamas is not receiving its weapons through Egypt, and Israel had better not blame Egypt for this....I don’t know how these weapons reached the Gaza Strip."

I am stunned at his audacity here and most vociferously disagree. It is and has been common knowledge for some time that Hamas smuggles weapons from the Sinai into Gaza via tunnels. At this point in time, Hamas controls those tunnels and Egypt in the main has turned a blind eye.

If you doubt this, take a look at a site called Weapon Survey and see the series of reports by the Shin Bet and others regarding the amounts and kinds of equipment that are being smuggled under the Philadelphi Corridor between Egypt and Gaza.

"The openings of smuggling tunnels are often located within private Egyptian houses in close proximity to the border. In addition, smoke from detonated smuggling tunnels (indicating a tunnel opening) has been observed rising from Egyptian army and border guard bases.

"In August 2004, Israel Radio military correspondent Carmela Menashe reported that, 'Egypt knows exactly what weapons are being smuggled...Egypt uses the weapons smuggling as a measure against Israel.'

"In September 2004, Yuval Steinitz, Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee emphasized it was 'crystal clear...Egypt supports terrorism against Israel by enabling Hamas and others to transform Sinai into their logistical rear...'"

"Since August 2007, the defense establishment has recorded five major incidents of arms smuggling through Egypt, during which 13 tons of explosives and 150 RPG launchers were imported.

"In October 2007, Yuval Diskin stated that approximately 1,650 RPG rockets and some 6,000 bombs have been smuggled into Gaza since January 2007. In addition, an estimated 73 tons of explosives have been smuggled into Gaza through tunnels since June. Millions of bullets for light weapons and tons of potassium, used to manufacture bombs, have also crossed the Gaza-Sinai border."


A different take on the tunnels is provided by a report that a VIP tunnel has been constructed that is high enough to allow people to walk in and is equipped with electricity. It is being used by wealthy people in Gaza (gasp! there are wealthy people in Gaza?) who are paying to go out to Egypt. As Hamas controls the tunnels, they collect a "tax" when individuals use them.


Livni told Mubarak that Israel will not turn a blind eye to the rocket launchings.

Egypt, with whom we have a peace treaty, remains an enemy, not to be trusted. And it is Egypt, playing a balancing act, that has been negotiating Shalit's release for us.


Just how crazy are we? Last week a senior Prison Services official made a call in Maariv for tougher conditions for terrorists in our prisons.

"I could not hold back any longer... I see Gilad Shalit rotting in captivity, crouched in some darkened cellar with no visits, no reasonable living conditions, without seeing the light of day, while in contrast, in our prisons its one big summer camp. Some of [the terrorists] are lowly murderers who express no regret. They eat, drink, study, enjoy excellent conditions. It's shocking.”

Terrorists can move about for three hours a day, during which time games such as ping pong, basketball and backgammon are available to them. They are fed meat and fish on holidays and permitted to spend up to 1,200 shekels a month on food and cigarettes. Inmates all have TVs in their cells, which include Arabic programming that may be anti-Israel. And they can pursue academic degrees.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter responded to this, saying that we were adhering to international agreements. The official maintains that we could provide these prisoners with much less and still fall within international regulations.

The ultimate irony, perhaps, is that the world never perceives us as good guys in spite of all of this. And I suspect that the terrorists laugh at us.


I just raised questions about the utility of polls, I know. But I'd like to cite this: According to a Ma'agar Mohot poll, 58% of Israelis don't believe we should agree to full withdrawal from the Golan, even for comprehensive peace, while 46% believes we shouldn't relinquish any part of the Golan under any circumstances.


On top of this, there is a Druze for Israel Forum, that supports Israeli retention of the Golan. (There are Druze, who were originally under Syrian control, who live on the Golan now under Israeli control.) Mandi Safdie, leader of the Forum and a candidate on the Hatikvah list, has asked Druze residents of the Golan to vote only for parties that oppose giving the Golan to Syria.


Another poll, done by the Panels Institute after the expulsion of residents of Beit HaShalom in Hevron, shows that 73% of Jewish Israelis feel "an emotional connection" to Hevron. This includes 61% of the secular population. Surprising. And reassuring.


Peace Now (Shalom Achshav) -- an organization that has no legal identity but conducts itself as if it did -- has been penalized by a Jerusalem Magistrates Court for misrepresentation. Peace Now, along with activists Hagit Ofran and Dror Atkis, was held responsible for publishing a false report about the Samaria town of Revava. Two years ago, Peace Now published a report that claimed that most Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria were built on land stolen from Arabs. In particular the report noted that 71.5% Revava was built on Arab land.

The Fund for Redeeming the Land, which legally owns 100% of the land on which Revava is built, demanded a retraction. When neither Peace Now nor the two report authors agreed, the Fund took them to court. Now Judge Yechezkel Barclay has ruled that they have to publicly apologize to the town of Revava -- placing the apology in major Hebrew press -- and must pay the Fund 20,000 shekels.

The time has come to end the serial lies issued by various leftist groups,” said the Fund's attorney, Nir Tzvi. “The public should doubt any report they write.”

Indeed. Lies come from several left-wing anti-Zionist organizations, and, regrettably, are often believed.


Earlier this week, archeologists found 254 gold coins that date back 1,400 years in the parking lot adjacent to Ir David (David's City, the original Jerusalem, sitting outside the Old City walls). They were found in the remnants of a building from the Byzantine period and bear the likeness of a Byzantine emperor.

Archaeologists found a hoard of gold coins from the 7th century in Jerusalem on Sunday.

This is not the first time there have been stunning archeological finds in this area that had become a place for parking cars. Scratch the earth in this incredible land, and history is exposed.


see my website

Hamas Parliament votes for Sharia in Gaza

"Such punishments include whipping, severing hands, crucifixion and hanging." Can full dhimmitude for the Christians there be far behind?

"Hamas pushes for Sharia punishments," from the Jerusalem Post, December 24 (thanks to all who sent this in):t. The Hamas parliament in the Gaza Strip voted in favor of a law allowing courts to mete out sentences in the spirit of Islam, the London-based Arab daily Al Hayat reported Wednesday.

According to the bill, approved in its second reading and awaiting the signature of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as the Palestinian constitution demands, courts will be able to condemn offenders to a plethora of violent punitive measures.

Such punishments include whipping, severing hands, crucifixion and hanging. The bill reserves death sentences to persons who negotiate with a foreign government "against the Palestinian interest" and engage in any activity that can "hurt Palestinian morale."

According to the report, any Palestinian caught drinking or selling wine would suffer 40 lashes at the whipping post if the bill passes. Thieves caught red-handed would lose their right hand.

In accord with Qur'an 5:38.

Thanks Dhimmi Watch

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Use NPR’s Budget Squeeze to Amplify Calls for Reform

National Public Radio’s budget crisis presents CAMERA members and all others dedicated to reforming the network’s chronically anti-Israel news coverage with an opportunity to be heard. A Washington Post headline on December 11 announced "NPR to Cut 64 Jobs and Two Shows; Company-Wide Layoffs Seek To Close $23 Million Shortfall". The lead sentences in Post staff writer Paul Farhi’s article read:

Faced with a sharp decline in revenue, National Public Radio said ... it will pare back its programming and institute its first organization-wide layoffs in 25 years. Washington-based NPR said it would lay off about 7 percent of its workforce and eliminate two daily programs [‘Day to Day’ and ‘News & Notes’] ....

Now, more reliant on goodwill and financial support of listeners than ever, the network and its local affiliate stations should hear a clear message from potential donors, new or previous.
ACTION ITEMS to / Top / In Brief / Action Item


Please contact Interim NPR President and Chief Executive Dennis Haarsager

E-Mail: or
Telephone: 202 513-2000
Contact the station manager of your local NPR affiliate. Let the manager know you’re aware of budget cuts and that before donating, NPR’s coverage must end its chronic anti-Israel slant and meet the legal requirement for objectivity and balance. To locate the affiliate in your area, go to and click on "Station" and then enter your zipcode.

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IN DETAIL to / Top / In Brief / Action Item

*NPR’s veteran Israel correspondent, Linda Gradstein, also substituting for The Washington Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief, explained to a December 22 synagogue audience in Rockville, Md., why she avoids using the word "terrorist." "I prefer the term ‘gunman,’" she said, responding to a CAMERA member’s question. "It’s a more neutral term than terrorist. After all, many people feel that one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter."

Her answer summarizes much of what’s wrong with NPR’s Arab-Israeli reporting, journalistically and morally. A journalist’s job is not to be "neutral" — it’s to be accurate. The gunman-for-terrorist substitution is anything but accurate. And equating terrorists with freedom fighters is a lie, morally and historically.

Terrorism, the U.S. State Department notes, is premeditated, political violence aimed at noncombatants. That includes Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians in Sderot or the shooting of yeshiva students in Jerusalem, not to mention November's terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. There, terrorist gunmen murdered more than 170 people. But for Gradstein and NPR when terrorists murder Israelis it's just gunmen killing people. Neutral. But not accurate, not objective. Not the truth. And that untruthfulness renders it immoral as well.

The false equivalence that "one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter" sanitizes terrorists while staining freedom fighters. Greek freedom fighters fought Ottoman oppression during the 19th century; bands of freedom fighters resisted Nazi oppression from forest hide-outs during World War II; Hungarian freedom fighters opposed Soviet domination in 1956. Freedom fighters don't commit premeditated murder of civilians. But Arab terrorists from the PLO, Hamas and other groups intentionally have murdered Israeli noncombatants for decades in an attempt to destroy the Jewish state and drive the Jewish people from its homeland. Gradstein and NPR's "neutrality" in describing terrorist crimes — terrorism violates international law — falsifies the truth on which both moral judgment and journalistic description rest.

*NPR's December 8 "Talk of the Nation" program featured an interview with Avrum Burg, former Israeli Knesset speaker and author of a book titled The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise From Its Ashes. (Hebrew title Defeating Hitler) that caused an uproar when it appeared. Burg, who has left Israel and taken French citizenship, compares Israel to Germany on the eve of the rise of Nazism. He urges Israel to cease being a Jewish state. In a notable interview with Ari Shavit in Ha'aretz (June 8, 2007), the journalist challenged Burg repeatedly about the extreme "loathing" of Israel he expresses.

Few voices on the Israeli scene are more extreme and out of the mainstream – indeed literally out of the country itself – than Avrum Burg's.

For "balance," host Neal Conan brought in Omar Bartov, professor of European history at Brown University. Bartov is no Burg in his verbal assaults on Israel but to the extent that Burg and Bartov debated, it was whether what Burg called "the Holocaust industry" kept Israelis and Diaspora Jews mired in past horrors or what Bartov claimed was misuse of Jewish memories of Holocaust-era powerlessness to keep Palestinian Arabs under occupation.

Burg holds that "a nation of refugees [displaced European Jews] created another nation of refugees," the Palestinian Arabs. In reality, the reason Arabs became refugees was that the Arab states and Palestinian Arab leadership rejected the 1947 U.N. partition plan. It would have given them a second Arab state in what had been Mandatory Palestine — Jordan being the first — and after rejecting partition they went to war, unsuccessfully, to prevent a single Jewish state. Arab aggression caused Arab refugees.

Any interview involving an extreme figure like Avrum Burg clearly warrants a speaker to counter the inflammatory charges he makes about Israel and the Holocaust. NPR's failure to balance far-left attacks on Israel, such as those espoused by Burg, has been a chronic feature of its coverage for many years.

The opportunity presented by the network's financial difficulties to be heard regarding reform of NPR's Arab-Israeli coverage should not be missed.

CAMERA's Web site (, details scores of examples of pro-Arab, anti-Israeli bias in NPR reporting going back to 1992 (click on NPR at bottom of home page).

The Public Telecommunications Act of 1992 requires, among other things, "strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature." NPR does not hold itself to the standard, despite claims to the contrary.

"Forgotten Refugees" Premiers

Hillel Fendel

A movie documenting the destruction of ancient Jewish communities in the Middle East will be screened Monday night in Tel Aviv, followed by a Question-and-Answer session with the producers and participants.

How is it that the Jewish population in Arab countries dwindled from 1,000,000 people in 1945 to only a few thousand today? The movie tries to answer this question, featuring scholarly analyses, personal testimonies, film clips and pictures of rescue operations and re-settlement, and more. Jewish refugees from Egypt, Yemen, Morocco, Libya and Iraq tell their stories, interspersed with chapters on the rich contribution of Jews to Middle Eastern politics, business and music.

“The Forgotten Refugees” chronicles the impact of the Arab Muslim conquest, the development of Judeo-Arab culture, and the modern rise of Arab nationalism that drove out hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes and communities. The movie attempts to present a unique educational approach regarding an important but little-known aspect of Middle Eastern history.

More Jewish Refugees, Less Aid

International economist Sidney Zabludoff published research several months ago showing that the Jewish refugees of the late 1940’s suffered more and have been helped less than their Arab counterparts. He said that many more Jews were forcibly displaced or expelled from their homes around the world than Arabs, that they lost significantly more property, and were helped over the years to a much smaller extent.

The Shas Party recently declared that it would demand restitution for the hundreds of thousands of Jews forced to flee Arab and Muslim states. There can be no peace with Arab countries without compensation for Jews' lost property, said Shas Cabinet Minister Yitzchak Cohen.

Movie Receives International Acclaim

The 50-minute film, directed by Michael Grynszpan and produced by Ralph Avi Goldwasser, was recently shown in the United Nations and in the U.S. Congress. It won the Best Documentary award at last year’s Marbella Film Festival in Marbella, Spain.

Poll: No Confidence in Barak

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Poll: No Confidence in Barak

The public does not trust government leaders to defend the State of Israel without being influenced by politics, according to a new Geocartographia poll. Most respondents also expressed no confidence in Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

The survey, broadcast Tuesday night on Channel One television, reveals that 68 percent of Israelis view politics as a decisive factor in how to deal with rocket and mortar attacks on Israel. Only 21 percent disagreed. Defense Minister Barak, who also is chairman of the Labor party, has the confidence of only 24 percent of the respondents, who have not been convinced by his recent statements criticizing "babbling politicians" who "do not know what war is" and that "we know when and how to retaliate."

Barak is a former IDF Chief of Staff and was Prime Minister for 18 months, during which time he ordered a hasty withdrawal of IDF troops from a southern Lebanon security zone that was designed to deter Hizbullah from attacking northern Israel.

The poll showed only a slight change in the peoples' choices for the next Knesset. The Likud lost three mandates since a similar poll the previous month, but the nationalist Jewish Home party picked up two seats and now is projected to win six places in the next Knesset. Kadima gained one and Israel Is Our Home (Yisrael Beiteinu) gained two.

On the losing side, Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) each dropped two.

The results leave the potential coalitions with the same strength. A Likud-led government, including Shas, Israel Beiteinu, Jewish Home and United Torah Judaism (UTJ), would have 64-65 mandates, according to the latest Geocartographia survey, three less than in last month's poll.

Kadima, under the leadership of Tzipi Livni, would have 46-47 members, not including 10 Knesset Members projected for four Arab parties. A coalition needs a minimum of an absolute majority of 61 MKs in order to form a government.

A Channel Two television poll places Kadima one mandate ahead of the Likud and puts Yisrael Beiteinu in third place with 11 seats.

Hamas passes bill allowing executions

Where are the human rights groups? Hamas has recently passed a radical Islamic bill ushering whipping, dismembering and execution as standard punitive action into the Gaza penal code, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat reported Wednesday.. to the report, the bill passed its second reading in the Gaza Parliament, by unanimous majority of three – the only three members of parliament who were present at the meeting.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is unlikely to sanction the bill, as required by the Palestinian law , but Hamas would have little problem implementing it in Gaza – which is under its complete control.

The bill is made up of 214 subsections. Section 59 states that "any Palestinian found guilty of raising a weapon against Palestine in favor of the enemy; countering Palestine's interests in a negotiation with a foreign government; and placing Palestine's existence in danger by committing an act of aggression against a foreign country... will be sentenced to death."

A similar fate awaits anyone found guilty of the following: "Joining a foreign army fighting Palestine or facilitating such action; demoralizing the Palestinian people to any of its resistance movements; spying on Palestine or engaging in espionage during wartime."

Section 84 stipulates that anyone found guilty of "drinking to making wine will be subjected to 40 lashes… drinking and harassing the public will be punishable by 40 lashes and three months in jail."

The whip will be used on anyone "engaging in games of chance, offending religious beliefs and defaming others' character," as well.

The bill also calls for dismembering – mostly of the hands – of anyone convicted of theft.

You have to ask where are the Western media? Did not even report this horrendous story and the so-called rights organizations that blast Israel daily are no where to be seen or heard. For me, this once and for all invalidates these organizations!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Obama's Plan to Rejoin the World Community

Phyllis Schlafly
Tuesday, December 23, 2008

When Candidate Barack Obama declared himself a "citizen of the world" before thousands of cheering German socialists, and later pledged to "rejoin the World Community," those weren't just his usual platitudes about "change." Those words sounded the trumpet for his specific and far-reaching globalist agenda. Obama plans to use his presidential power to get the Democratic-majority Senate to ratify a series of treaties that would take us a long way toward global rule over our money, our laws, our military, our courts, our customs, our trade and even our use of energy. Here are the treaties he says he wants.

The U.N. Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), which Ronald Reagan rejected in 1982, is high on Obama's list. LOST has already created the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in Jamaica and given it total regulatory jurisdiction over all the world's oceans and all the riches on the ocean floor.

Corrupt foreign dictators dominate LOST's global bureaucracy, and the United States would have the same vote as Cuba. Likewise for LOST's International Tribunal in Hamburg, Germany, which has the power to decide all disputes.

Even worse, LOST gives the ISA the power to levy international taxes. The real purpose of the taxing power is to compel the United States to spend billions of private-enterprise dollars to mine the ocean floor and then let ISA bureaucrats transfer our wealth to socialist, anti-American nations.

Next on Obama's list is the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which was signed by Bill Clinton but rejected by the Senate in 1999. It would prohibit all nuclear explosive testing and thereby allow our nuclear arsenal to deteriorate until the American people are defenseless against rogue regimes such as Iran and North Korea.

A new Global Warming Treaty is starting to be written at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Poland in order to replace the Kyoto Agreement, which George W. Bush and our Senate refused to ratify. The new treaty would force dramatic reductions in our use of energy -- i.e., our standard of living -- and impose the "strong international norms" that Obama seeks.

Obama is toadying to his feminist friends by pushing ratification of the U.N. Treaty on Women, known as CEDAW. It was signed by Jimmy Carter in 1980 and persistently promoted by Hillary Clinton, but the Senate has so far had the good judgment to refuse to ratify it.

This treaty would require us "to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women," to follow U.N. dictates about "family education," to revise our textbooks to conform to feminist ideology in order to ensure "the elimination of any stereotyped concept of the roles of men and women" and to set up a federal "network of child-care facilities."

Article 16 would require us to allow women "to decide number and spacing of their children." Everyone recognizes this as feminist jargon for a U.N. obligation to allow abortion on demand.

Like all U.N. treaties, the U.N. Treaty on Women creates a monitoring commission of so-called "experts" to ensure compliance. The monitors of the Treaty on Women have already singled out Mother's Day as a stereotype that must be eliminated.

Another U.N. Treaty on the list is the U.N. Treaty on the Rights of the Child, which was signed in 1995 by Bill Clinton but wisely never ratified by our Senate. This is a pet project of the people who believe that the "village" (i.e., the government or U.N. "experts") should raise children rather than their parents.

This treaty would give children rights against their parents and society to express their own views "freely in all matters," to receive information of all kinds through "media of the child's choice," to use their "own language," and to have the right to "rest and leisure." This treaty even orders our schools to teach respect for "the Charter of the United Nations."

These Obama-endorsed treaties, every one of which would be a dramatic encroachment on U.S. sovereignty, would be supplemented by trade agreements negotiated by Obama's trade representative, Ron Kirk. He is an enthusiastic supporter of the "global economic community" (which means open borders for "free" trade), of NAFTA and even of the NAFTA Super Highway, which he calls the "true river of trade between our communities."

Kirk's work to lock us into the global economy will be bolstered by Obama's secretary of commerce, Bill Richardson, another aggressive promoter of "free" trade.

Every U.N. treaty would interfere with self-government over some aspect of our lives and would transfer significant power to foreign bureaucrats, many of whom hate and envy America. Obama's U.N. treaties are the enemy of U.S. political and social independence, and Kirk's global economic community is the enemy of good middle-class American jobs.

Copyright © 2008 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

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

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

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

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,

[5] Ravid, Barak, "Obama in Sderot: Nuclear Iran would be game-changing," Haaretz, July 23, 2008,

[6] "Obama says nuclear Iran a "grave threat," Reuters, July 23, 2008,

[7] “Main terrorist attacks carried out at Gaza Strip crossings,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, June 4, 2008,

[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,; “Hamas has lately regulated the flourishing tunnel industry in the Gaza Strip,” Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Oct. 28, 2008,

[10] Hamas," Council on Foreign Relations Web site,, 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,; Colvin, Marie, “Hamas wages Iran’s proxy war on Israel,” The Times, March 9, 2008,

[12] “Violation of calm: Rockets strike Sderot, Ashkelon, western Negev,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dec. 17, 2008,
16-Nov-2008.htm; Harel, Amos, “Gaza mortar shells injure eight soldiers, one loses leg,” Haaretz, Nov. 29, 2008,

[13] “Over 600 Palestinians killed in internal clashes since 2006,” YnetNews, June 6, 2007,,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,

[15] Hamas," Council on Foreign Relations Web site,, accessed July 2, 2007

[16] Iran pledges $50m Palestinian aid," BBC News, April 16, 2006,

[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,

[19] Kalman, Mathew, “Hamas launches TV Bugs Bunny-lookalike who declares 'I will eat the Jews',” The Daily Mail, Feb. 12, 2008,; “Al Aqsa TV,”, 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. .

"Who Knows?"

Arlene Kushner

...what's going to happen with regard to military action in Gaza. The situation shifts almost hourly, and the politicians are posturing. And so, I will make this review of the situation as concise as possible:

That we are, or were, on the edge of a major action is to my mind fairly irrefutable. In fact, I had information on Friday that a ground operation was due to start the following evening after Shabbat -- an operation that was, apparently, then cancelled.. It is also, to my mind, clear that it is Barak who is blocking this action, at this point letting the nation know -- with an eye to the election -- that he is the "wiser, more careful" statesman for acting this way. Don't believe it for even a second. It was Barak in 2000 who, as prime minister, precipitously pulled our troops from the security zone in Lebanon, thereby setting the scene for Hezbollah to move in. No one wants our boys to be at risk -- my heart wrenches with the possibility of causalities. But an army must defend a nation.


Head of the Shin Bet gave a briefing to the Cabinet yesterday in which he said that Hamas has rockets now that are capable of reaching to the edge of Beersheva and into Kiryat Gat and Ashdod (farther than ever before) and we should anticipate a strong retaliation if we do go in and prepare for it.


Reports have been released saying that Olmert and Barak (or in another version, also Livni) have met and decided on a major operation.

Olmert, from Turkey, is saying we must respond to the rockets. Livni, campaigning, is saying that if she's prime minister, she'll take out the Hamas leadership. But I notice that she says she would do so by a combination of methods, military and diplomatic. This is nonsense: she's not going to undo Hamas diplomatically, and I haven't forgotten that she's the one responsible for the horrific "diplomatic" resolution to the Lebanese war that ended up permitting Hezbollah to rearm.

Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has now also made a statement about the impossibility of the current situation.

In preparation for this presumed military operation that has been decided upon, Livni, as foreign minister, is preparing a Hasbara (PR) blitz to present Israel's side to the world. Israeli ambassadors worldwide will be taking our position to various governments and international ambassadors here are to be taken to see Sderot.


Hamas is said to be divided between the military wing, which is eager to confront us without limitations now, and the political wing, which would like a new "lull," but under their terms, which include opening of crossings and extension of the "lull" to Judea and Samaria. Even this government won't agree to that. It is our IDF operations in Judea and Samaria that prevent suicide bombings and the like; to agree to stop going after these guys would be a disaster.

A good percentage of the rockets and mortars that have hit in recent days have come from Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Front, rather than from Hamas itself -- but what is clear is that Hamas, which controls the situation, is allowing these groups to operate as proxies.


Egypt is sending mixed messages. Egypt has been angry with Hamas since it boycotted a recent Egyptian effort to bring Hamas and Fatah together for a Cairo meeting. And it is reported that the Egyptians are furious with Hamas now for refusing to continue the "ceasefire" -- they know full well that at some point Israel will have to respond to the rockets from Gaza. And yet, Egypt, playing both ends, has "warned" Israel regarding the ill-advised nature of a military operation.

Right now Egypt is attempting to negotiate a new "lull," and asked Hamas to hold the rocket fire for 24 hours. Three rockets were fired today and gunmen shot at soldiers near the Sufa crossing. In an unusual move, Mubarak invited Livni to meet with him to discuss the "deteriorating situation." It was said that she would be presenting our position. Unless Mubarak has a new offer from the Hamas side, he is unlikely to achieve his goal. But Hamas is disenchanted with Egypt as a mediator (even where Shalit negotiations are concerned, Hamas wants a mediator other than Egypt) and is not likely to be influenced by Mubarak.


The talk now is about the possibility of achieving a period of quiet again. But this avoids the essential issue, which is that Hamas continues to strengthen during such periods, retaining the ability to hit us at their option. The fact that they are stronger now than they were six months ago is evidence enough that another such "lull" is ultimately a poor and exceedingly short-sighted option for us.

I thank Aaron Lerner of IMRA for pointing out that a letter submitted to the UN secretary-general by Israeli ambassador to the UN Gabriele Shalev protesting the firing of rockets by Hamas does not also protest the weapons smuggling, manufacture and stockpiling. As if all is well as long as Hamas is not using its weapons at a given moment. This is Livni's "diplomatic" approach?


Who knows? Maybe tomorrow -- a day in which clear skies are predicted -- there will be the beginning of a serious operation. But, maybe not.


How low can this man sink? The man? Jimmy Carter. And apparently there are no limits to how far down he can go. On his website, for the Carter Center, he reports about his recent trip, which included a stop in Damascus:

"In the afternoon...I met with Khaled Mashaal and his fellow Hamas politburo members, all of whom are scientists, medical doctors, or engineers – none trained in religion. [Implication: they're good guys and not Islamic radicals at all.] It was the anniversary of Hamas' founding, and they were watching Prime Minister Haniyeh's speech in Gaza to an enormous crowd. We discussed items on my agenda that included ...formulas for prisoner exchange to obtain the release of Corporal Shalit..."

Incredible. A former US president giving advice to terrorist Mashaal regarding how much to demand for Shalit. We must remember that the Carter Center takes huge donations from Arab nations. Can he be impeached retroactively?


There have been conflicting reports about a situation of serious dimensions: The possible sale to Iran by Russia of state-of-the-art S-300 anti-missile missiles that would seriously retard Israeli efforts to hit Iran.

Iranian sources had said that delivery of the missiles would be starting soon. But Russia has since denied this. Israeli remains convinced that Russia was standing by its agreement with Olmert, who visited in October, that it would not provide Iran with equipment that would "tip the strategic balance."

Let's hope the Israeli perception is correct. Amos Gilad, head of the Ministry of Defense military-diplomatic bureau, was in Moscow last week.


Ending again with good news: Scientists at Hebrew University in Jerusalem have discovered a gene mechanism in stem cells that could lead to significant treatment options. Embryonic stem cells are undifferentiated and extraordinary in their ability to develop into various sorts of tissue, Different sets of genes in the cells control the process of differentiation into specific types of tissues. One set of genes makes muscles cells, another makes liver cells, and so forth. What tissue a particular stem cell becomes depends on which genes were activated and which turned off. The discovery concerns the central process involved and may in time lead to generation of tissue for repairing cells damaged by a variety of diseases: heart tissue for those with heart disease, pancreatic tissue for those with diabetes, brain cells for those with Parkinson's disease, etc.

see my website

Monday, December 22, 2008

Israeli official warns of longer Gaza rocket range


JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's top security official warned Sunday that Gaza militants can hit more Israeli cities with longer-range rockets, on a day when rockets exploded in border towns and a coastal city after an Israel-Hamas truce expired.. Only one Israeli was lightly wounded in the barrage of 19 rockets and three mortars by nightfall. But after a weekend of heavy rocket attacks — and two Israeli airstrikes in response — Israel's government threatened to strike back hard.

One rocket exploded in Ashkelon, a city of about 120,000 on the Mediterranean coast 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Gaza. In the past, Israel has responded harshly to attacks on Ashkelon.

Yuval Diskin, the head of the Shin Bet security service, warned Israel's Cabinet that Gaza's Hamas rulers now have rockets that can reach the larger city of Ashdod farther north on the Mediterranean coast and even the outskirts of Beersheba, 30 miles (50 kilometers) to the east. Such attacks would increase the likelihood of an Israeli invasion of Gaza.

"The scenarios are clear, the plans are clear, the determination is clear, and so are the ramifications of each of the steps," Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at his Cabinet's weekly meeting. "A responsible government is not happy to go to war, but does not evade it."

The government has been under heavy pressure to react to the rocket fire, but the military has so far been wary of doing so for fear of casualties. In the past, large operations have not succeeded in stopping the rockets.

A truce between Israel and Hamas expired on Friday after six months. The truce had frayed since early November, and rocket fire at Israeli towns has been increasing steadily in recent days.

"The Hamas government in Gaza must be toppled, the means to do this must be military, economic and diplomatic," said Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is in the running to become prime minister in elections Feb. 10. "Whenever they shoot at Israel, Israel must respond."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned the Cabinet that broad military action is increasingly likely. "In order to return to a calm like six months ago, we will probably need a wide-scale operation," he said, according to a meeting participant who spoke on condition of anonymity under government guidelines.

Israeli officials said diplomats are already trying to build international support for an offensive in Gaza. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks are not public, said the goal was to avert hostile declarations and U.N. resolutions if Israel invades Gaza. No further details, including which countries have been contacted, were immediately available.

Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan blamed Israel for the collapse of the truce and said Palestinian factions would "respond to any aggression against our people."

Israel has largely kept the crossings into Gaza closed in response to the rocket fire, a move that has caused shortages of fuel and basic goods in the territory of 1.4 million Palestinians.

On Sunday, one rocket scored a direct hit on a house in the town of Sderot, scattering rubble and furniture inside. "Everyone is traumatized," the house's owner, Maya Aviar, told AP Television News.

No one was injured in that attack, but the Israeli military said a worker at a farming community near Gaza was lightly wounded in a separate rocket hit.

The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad took responsibility for Sunday's rocket fire. Abu Ahmad, a spokesman for the group, said Israeli citizens would "not sleep peacefully as long as Gaza children are not enjoying water, electricity, medicine and peace."

Israel carried out two airstrikes Sunday aimed at rocket launchers in Gaza, the military and Palestinian officials said. No one was hurt. Militants typically prepare rockets for launch and then fire them from cover a safe distance away. .


Paul Eidelberg

If you want an in-depth analysis of what ails Israel ’s political and intellectual and some of its military elites, consult Chapter 5 of my book Demophrenia: Israel and the Malaise of Democracy . Here is an abstract:

From its inception in 1948, the government of Israel , regardless of which party or coalition was at the helm, has been afflicted by “demophrenia . ” Demophrenia is a deeply rooted malady of national and even of world-historical significance . Demophrenia involves an illogical and compulsive application of the democratic principles of freedom and equality to moral problems and ideological conflicts which are impervious to, and even exacerbated by, those principles . This disorder is most advanced in Israel , for its government is animated by a democratic mentality in conflict with Zionism, and ineffectual against the anti-democratic mentality of Israel 's Arab enemies . To show that demophrenia is indeed a widespread but hitherto unrecognized mental disorder, I shall first review some of the literature on schizophrenia .

Schizophrenia is regarded as the core concept of modern psychiatry . Various researchers distinguish between positive- and negative-symptom schizophrenia . The former includes hallucinations, delusions, and thought disorder; the latter includes escapism, apathy, depersonalization, stereotypic behaviors, flattened emotional or affective reactions, impairment of volition, and lack of self-esteem . Obviously, these negative symptoms exist on a continuum with normal behavior .

In any event, it should be borne in mind that schizophrenia is not necessarily an all-encompassing illness which sets the patient apart from his fellow man . A World Health Organization (WHO) study concludes that “schizophrenics, for all their vulnerabilities, are in the full sense responsive social beings like the rest of us” .

Still, those “vulnerabilities” can and do result in bizarre behavior . The renowned clinical psychologist Dr . David Shakow distinguishes four types of schizophrenic responses to diverse stimuli which, to my initial surprise, accurately describe the reactions of countless democrats to the characteristically bellicose behavior of Arab-Islamic leaders on the one hand, and to the occasionally pacific utterances of those leaders on the other:

(1) The central, directly meaningful stimulus is avoided, apparently because it is disturbing; instead the peripheral is endowed with meaning . (2) A casual attitude appears in which [only] part of the field is accepted as the stimulus . (3) The subject has a 'fixed' idea and resorts to it without regard for the [central and contradictory] stimulus . (4) The peripheral is . . . selectively attended to, captures attention, and is adhered to .

Moreover, to his false perception a schizophrenic's response may be appropriate or inappropriate to that perception . Alternatively, his perception may be veridical but his response will be inappropriate . The consequence, of course, is maladapted responses to reality .

Although WHO studies have shown that the prognosis of schizophrenia is worse in the urbanized and industrialized West than in the Third World , no systematic attempt has been made to determine whether the moral relativism engendered by democracy contributes to schizophrenia . This lacuna may be attributed to the relativism that modulates the disciplines of psychology and psychiatry, as well as to the tendency of the medical profession to trace schizophrenia to biophysical causes .

The absence of research on the possible adverse effects of moral relativism on mental health is all the more curious when one considers that psychologists include “alienation,” “anxiety,” and “loss of identity” among the symptoms of schizophrenia . These symptoms are conspicuous in secular, egalitarian societies where moral relativism thrives . Surely a loss of belief in objective moral standards has emotional and behavioral consequences, some of which may be deleterious . Indeed, many psychotherapists maintain that “belief-modification” can mitigate various schizophrenic symptoms . But if relativism or moral egalitarianism has adverse effects on the mental health of individuals, it may also impair, imperceptibly, the rationality of their government in matters of vital public concern .

This ends the abstract from my book Demophrenia . The chapter continues with a more refined analysis of schizophrenia by the psychiatrist Professor Ignazio Matte Blanco . His analysis, which I apply to documented behavior and statements of Israel ’s political leaders, clearly reveals that they are suffering from “demophrenia,” which, I show is a democratic manifestation of schizophrenia .

This pathology explains why Israeli prime ministers repeatedly commit the same errors regarding the PLO-Palestinians: be it counterproductive ceasefires, suicidal release of terrorists, self-destructive negotiations with terrorist leaders, self-restraint vis-à-vis these terrorists—and yes, commitment to a Palestinian state . (Case studies, included in Chapter 6, verify this analysis . )

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Sunday, December 21, 2008


Tonight we light the first candle of our eight-day festival of Chanukah. And so the spirit of Chanukah will infuse today's posting.

It is said that because miracles were "common" on Chanukah, this time, within all the year, is the time to pray for miracles. And so, as I wish each of you a Happy Chanukah, I ask please that if you are lighting candles you pray for miracles for Israel with those candles. "Common" miracles -- what is possible if we are strong and believe. We are on the edge of a major ground operation in Gaza, but the political leadership (read, Barak) is holding back. There is great anger in the country about this, including among many in the Knesset and the government. At today's Cabinet meeting the issue was discussed, but without resolution.

It is reported that Barak asked Olmert to calm things down, and indeed that is what he tried to do. Said he, "...a responsible government is never eager to battle, but nor does it shy away from it. We will take all necessary measures."

With words of great profundity, he observed that, "Obviously, the ceasefire can only exist while it exists, not while there's nonstop fire.

"It is no secret that we were hesitant to accept the ceasefire. Naturally, we wanted the terror and the weapons smuggling to stop completely, and based on that we decided to embark on the lull."

Indeed, our intention with the "lull" may have been to get Hamas to stop smuggling, but it was evident quite quickly that smuggling continued. It was then our business, immediately, to declare that terms were not being honored and go after them.

Finally, said Olmert, "I've discussed the situation with the defense and foreign ministers, the scenarios are clear and the government will know which move to take and when."

This is a hedge that tells us nothing. And I would say that we were going to get nothing but words, except that I know that the pressure to do something is great, and plans are very real and very much in place. The IDF is superbly prepared for this. At the Cabinet meeting, Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog said that a strike in Gaza is impending.


It's shameful for this man, Barak -- who was once brave and much decorated -- that he has turned into a self-serving political wimp in his position now. But it is not what he has done to himself, but rather the damage he does to the nation that is significant. For us to fail to act in a significant manner while we are being bombarded with Kassams and mortars weakens us and makes us foolish. The pressure of international community cannot hold sway here: It's time we did what is right for Israel. And today is the time to draw on the model of the ancient Maccabees.


A barrage of some 10 Kassams had been launched by noon today (and they will undoubtedly keep coming). One person (a foreign worker in a greenhouse near Ashkelon) has been hurt and a home in Sderot has been demolished. Mortars exploded near the home of MK Shai Hermesh (Kadima) in Kibbutz Kfar Aza.

Hermesh has said: “From the moment the ‘ceasefire’ began on June 19, Defense Minister Ehud Barak in effect surrendered to Gaza terrorists. The State of Israel has surrendered its sovereignty over the Gaza Belt area due to electoral considerations.”


Yesterday and today there were IDF strikes against launching sites in northern Gaza. One terrorist, associated with Fatah's Al Aksa Brigades, was killed. Good, but not nearly, nearly enough. They go to new sites and pull out new rockets and draw on new personnel.


If, finally, a major operation does go ahead, it cannot be fought the way we fought in Lebanon. It must be fought with full force, so that the enemy Hamas (and all those watching) know with whom they are dealing. I fear for half-way measures -- leaving Hamas leadership intact and suddenly calling a new "lull." That will leave Hamas mocking us and make us, still, appear weak in enemy eyes. We are facing too many enemies to permit that to happen.


In honor of Chanukah I turn now to good news about Israel -- to items that show strength of another kind. We are, whether the world wishes to know it or not, a gift to mankind, a blessing to the world:


Scientists at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva, working with researchers at US universities, have discovered a technique that promises the possibility of neutralizing Diabetes type I.

What they have done is to transplant healthy insulin-producing tissue onto a diabetic pancreas. This is not a new process, but had limited value until now because the healthy tissue was ultimately rejected. But now they have discovered a drug that prevents rejection; they believe, it will allow the healthy tissue to function indefinitely. Tests on animals have been most encouraging and clinical trials are to begin soon.

As there are over 180 million people worldwide with Diabetes, this promises a development of considerable magnitude.


An Israeli company, Bio Mark, has developed an inexpensive screening test for colon cancer that catches this disease in its early -- or even pre-cancerous -- stages. The test, which can be run as part of a routine blood screening, can successfully identify colon polyps, which are overwhelming the source of colon cancer. Expected to be available in about a year, this test will be a life saver.


Rcadia Medical Imaging, in Haifa, has developed a software technology for the automated analysis of coronary CT angiography, which enables doctors to quickly identify and diagnose patients who need further evaluation for severe coronary artery disease.


The Ben-Gurion National Solar Energy Research Center has developed a new solar cell that can produce over one thousand times more electric power than a conventional photovoltaic or PV.

Explains developer Professor David Faiman, "The achievement is that we separate out the collection function of a photovoltaic cell to the light conversion to electricity function. When we collect the light, instead of using a huge area of solar cells, we use an equal area of cheap glass mirrors and they are curved in such a way as to concentrate the light onto a very small solar cell, the size of just one cell, and in this way you concentrate the light a thousand times and you can get a thousand times more power out of a small cell."

This has enormous implications; it will be put to use in the US, and, in time, in many other places.


A grassroots organization called Fugee Fridays is gleaning surplus produce from the Carmel Friday food market in Tel Aviv and distributing it to African refugees who fled here on foot.

see my website

Int'l Pressure for New Ceasefire

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

The United Nations, Egypt and France are putting pressure on Hamas and Israel to declare a new ceasefire following more than three dozen mortar and rocket attacks on the western Negev Friday and on the Sabbath, causing damage but no serious injuries.
Gaza Belt residents, the Opposition and members of the coalition government have accused the Olmert administration of total irresponsibility by abiding by the June 19 truce while Hamas and other terrorists groups continually attacked Israel.

The Cabinet on Sunday will discuss the situation in Gaza on Sunday for the second straight week. Last week, leaders on all sides said that action must be taken, but the outcome of the Cabinet meeting was a continuation of the current policy of not retaliating except for targeting rocket-launching cells that the IDF posts catches in the act of trying to attack.

Kadima ministers Shaul Mofaz, Meir Sheetrit and Chain Ramon have taken positions opposite outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Ramon and Shas chairman Eli Yishai called for an urgent discussion Sunday to propose retaliation before a rocket or mortar shell claims lives, as they have done in the past.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he is "extremely concerned" over the escalation. "The 'calm' should be respected and extended, rocket attacks against Israel must be immediately halted and all acts of violence must cease," his office said.

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who visited United States President George W. Bush on Thursday, also called for renewal of the June 19 ceasefire, which was punctuated for the first five months by more than 40 attacks on Israel.

The agreement crumbled altogether in early November, when the IDF discovered a plan by terrorists to use tunnels to kidnap IDF soldiers. The IDF attacked the cell, and Hamas responded with a daily barrage on the western Negev.

On Saturday, Egypt called for Hamas and Israel to hold fire, and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner stated, "Dozens and dozens of rockets are raining down on Israeli territory. At the same time the Gaza Strip is blocked: water, electricity, medicine, essential goods are lacking."