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edery.jpgMinister Jacob Edery


Israel admits using phosphorus bombs during war in Lebanon:


By Meron Rappaport, Haaretz Correspondent



Israel has acknowledged for the first time that it attacked Hezbollah targets during the second Lebanon war with phosphorus shells. White phosphorus causes very painful and often lethal chemical burns to those hit by it, and until recently Israel maintained that it only uses such bombs to mark targets or territory.


The announcement that the Israel Defense Forces had used phosphorus bombs in the war in Lebanon was made by Minister Jacob Edery, in charge of government-Knesset relations. He had been queried on the matter by MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz-Yahad).


"The IDF holds phosphorus munitions in different forms," Edery said. "The IDF made use of phosphorous shells during the war against Hezbollah in attacks against military targets in open ground."


Edery also pointed out that international law does not forbid the use of phosphorus and that "the IDF used this type of munitions according to the rules of international law."


Edery did not specify where and against what types of targets phosphorus munitions were used. During the war several foreign media outlets reported that Lebanese civilians carried injuries characteristic of attacks with phosphorus, a substance that burns when it comes to contact with air. In one CNN report, a casualty with serious burns was seen lying in a South Lebanon hospital.


In another case, Dr. Hussein Hamud al-Shel, who works at Dar al-Amal hospital in Ba'albek, said that he had received three corpses "entirely shriveled with black-green skin," a phenomenon characteristic of phosphorus injuries.


Lebanon's President Emile Lahoud also claimed that the IDF made use of phosphorus munitions against civilians in Lebanon.


Phosphorus has been used by armies since World War I. During World War II and Vietnam the U.S. and British armies made extensive use of phosphorus. During recent decades the tendency has been to ban the use of phosphorus munitions against any target, civilian or military, because of the severity of the injuries that the substance causes.


Some experts believe that phosphorus munitions should be termed Chemical Weapons (CW) because of the way the weapons burn and attack the respiratory system. As a CW, phosphorus would become a clearly illegal weapon.


The International Red Cross is of the opinion that there should be a complete ban on phosphorus being used against human beings and the third protocol of the Geneva Convention on Conventional Weapons restricts the use of "incendiary weapons," with phosphorus considered to be one such weapon.


Israel and the United States are not signatories to the Third Protocol.


In November 2004 the U.S. Army used phosphorus munitions during an offensive in Faluja, Iraq. Burned bodies of civilians hit by the phosphorus munitions were shown by the press, and an international outcry against the practice followed.


Initially the U.S. denied that it had used phosphorus bombs against humans, but then acknowledged that during the assault targets that were neither civilian nor population concentrations were hit with such munitions. Israel also says that the use of "incendiary munitions are not in themselves illegal."

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Still hate israel eh? so why? if you dont hate the jews, why do you care so much? their are nations out their killing FAR more people, sudan, North korea, and im sure there are more yet you dont talk about that much.


Arabs in sudan are doing a genocide on black africans, yet you dont seem mad about this., maybe if a jew was doing it?

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Compared to 30000 threads about evil israel with tons of post on them:dozey:



Its just that the war between Israel and Palestina is just way more, sorry for the language, popular for the people. People like it when there's an underdog fighting for its freedom. Its gross and disgusting but that's the way human beings are.


We will discuss North-Korea and Sudan too but not as much as Israel and Palestina.

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Its just that the war between Israel and Palestina is just way more, sorry for the language, popular for the people. People like it when there's an underdog fighting for its freedom. Its gross and disgusting but that's the way human beings are.


We will discuss North-Korea and Sudan too but not as much as Israel and Palestina.


Its not that, the underdog is fighting in sudan too, yet for people like maldini its a issue of israel being jewish. There are other underdogs going through harder times and more are dying but not at the hand of a jew

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Its not that' date=' the underdog is fighting in sudan too, yet for people like maldini its a issue of israel being jewish. There are other underdogs going through harder times and more are dying but not at the hand of a jew[/quote']



Yeah. You have a point. But in Sudan its clear that its 2 groups fighting eachother while in Israel and Palestina its way more complex. The entire role of Turkey in the conflict. The reactions of Syria ... everything. Its more important for the world peace than the conflict in Sudan.

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Yeah. You have a point. But in Sudan its clear that its 2 groups fighting eachother while in Israel and Palestina its way more complex. The entire role of Turkey in the conflict. The reactions of Syria ... everything. Its more important for the world peace than the conflict in Sudan.


In sudan its more of a slaughter of weak and not well armed black africans vs well funded and armeded government. They are living in refugee camps and being starved in slaughtered, its what israel is doing 100x worse. Thats how i see it.

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In sudan its more of a slaughter of weak and not well armed black africans vs well funded and armeded government. They are living in refugee camps and being starved in slaughtered' date=' its what israel is doing 100x worse. Thats how i see it.[/quote']



That's exactly how it is but the people don't like to know that. They like more the political plots between Israel, Turkey, the US, Iran, ...

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Israel used uranium bombs in Lebanon


Al Jazeera / Tehran Times | October 31, 2006


UK’s The Independent published a report on Saturday accusing Israeli forces of dropping uranium-enriched phosphorous bombs on Lebanon during the recent war that came to an end with the issuance of UN Resolution 1701 that demanded warring parties to ceasefire.


"We know that they drenched southern Lebanon with cluster bombs in the last 72 hours of the war, leaving tens of thousands of bomblets which are still killing Lebanese civilians every week," The Independent said in its report.


"And we now know -- after it first categorically denied using such munitions -- that the Israeli army also used phosphorous bombs, weapons which are supposed to be restricted under the third protocol of the Geneva Conventions, which neither Israel nor the United States have signed," the article said.


According to the report, Dr. Chris Busby, the British Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, said laboratory tests of soil taken from bomb craters in the southern Lebanese towns of Khiam and At-Tiri, near Nabatiye, suggest that bombs containing Uranium had been used. Dr Busby added that there are two reasons for the contamination; "The first is that the weapon was some novel small experimental nuclear fission device or other experimental weapon (eg, a thermobaric weapon) based on the high temperature of a uranium oxidation flash." "The second is that the weapon was a bunker-busting conventional uranium penetrator weapon employing enriched uranium rather than depleted uranium."


Image of the explosion of the first bomb showed huge clouds of black smoke that might result from burning uranium.


"When a uranium penetrator hits a hard target, the particles of the explosion are very long-lived in the environment… They spread over long distances. They can be inhaled into the lungs.


“The military really seem to believe that this stuff is not as dangerous as it is," Dr. Busby added.


Israeli military claims it will investigate the report allegations.


Israel’s brutal military campaign against Lebanon, that ended last August, killed over 1,400 civilians, about one third of whom are children, and inflicted serious damages to the country’s infrastructure.


The head of the country’s Council for Development and Reconstruction, Fadl Shalak, said on 16 August that the damage that resulted from Israel’s bombardment to Lebanon amounted to U.S. $3.5 billion: U.S. $2 billion for buildings and U.S. $1.5 billion for infrastructure such as bridges, roads and power plants.


Numerous humanitarian groups and human rights activists have been warning about the devastating impact of cluster munitions Israel is believed to have used during its recent invasion of Lebanon.


According to a report prepared by Landmine Action and released earlier this month, 60 percent of Israeli cluster strikes hit built-up areas during the 35-day war in Lebanon.


"In the final three days, three times as many Israeli rockets, shells and bombs were fired per day," the report said, resulting in between 2 and 3 civilians still being killed or injured by cluster munitions every day.


"Every day women and children are killed or injured as they sift through the rubble of their former homes by cluster munitions that failed to go off when they should have," said Landmine Action Director Simon Conway.


"The claim that these faulty weapons can be used in a precise or surgical way is a lie. The evidence is there to see littering the ruined houses and olive groves of southern Lebanon," Conway added.


Amnesty International, which called for launching a comprehensive, independent and impartial UN inquiry into violations of international humanitarian laws during Lebanon war, revealed earlier that the Israeli Air Force launched more than 7,000 air attacks on about 7,000 targets in Lebanon between 12 July and 14 August. (Source: Aljazeera.com)

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Most Israelis bothered by high level corruption


JERUSALEM (AFP) - The vast majority of Israelis are concerned about high-level corruption, according to a survey published amid a string of scandals embroiling the nation's leadership.


Asked what bothers them most about Israeli society, some 80 percent said "public corruption", an increase of six percent from last year, according to the survey, excerpts of which were published in several dailies on Thursday.

Some 73 percent also listed poverty, violence and the continuing conflict with the Palestinians as a major concern, the survey reported.

Among the least trusted public institutions are political parties, it found, with only 13 percent trusting parties they voted for during a March parliamentary election.

Just 16 percent said they trusted the police and only 25 percent put their faith in the judicial system.

The survey, called the Social Strength Index and conducted for the fourth consecutive year, questioned 1,111 adults in October.


Israel's leadership has been wracked by a series of recent scandals.


President Moshe Katsav, a 60-year-old father of five, faces possible indictment on rape, sexual harassment and wire-tapping charges.


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has also been the subject of numerous corruption probes over past property deals and appointments, although no charges have yet been filed.

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Comatose Sharon stable, doctors say


By ARON HELLER, Associated Press Writer

TEL AVIV, Israel - The comatose Ariel Sharon was in an intensive care unit Friday after an infection attacked his heart, raising new concerns about his survival.


The former Israeli leader's hospital said his overall condition had suffered a deterioration but was now stable.


Sharon, who has been in a coma since suffering a major stroke in January, contracted a new infection that affected his heart, said David Weinberg, a spokesman for the Chaim Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv.


"At this point, his condition is stable," Weinberg said.


The hospital refused to comment further.


Experts have speculated that because of the severity of his stroke, Sharon, Israel's prime minister from 2001 to 2006, is unlikely to recover.


Dr. Barbara Paris, director of geriatrics at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City, said that even with the best possible treatment, such an infection in Sharon's circumstances renders the situation critical.


"Mr. Sharon's condition was precarious prior to development of this infection," said Paris, who is not involved in Sharon's treatment. "A superimposed heart infection portends an extremely grave prognosis."


Sharon, 78, has undergone several extensive brain operations to stop cerebral hemorrhaging, in addition to more minor procedures.


He had a small stroke in December and was put on blood thinners before experiencing a severe brain hemorrhage on Jan. 4. After months in the Jerusalem hospital where he was initially treated, Sharon was transferred to the long-term care facility at Sheba hospital in May.


He was rushed into intensive care in July for dialysis after his kidneys began failing, but was transferred back to Sheba after his condition improved.


Sharon lapsed into a coma just months after he ended Israel's 38-year occupation of the Gaza Strip bolted his hard-line Likud Party to form the centrist Kadima faction.


After the stroke, Sharon's successor, Ehud Olmert, led Kadima to victory in a March 28 vote and became prime minister.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Israelis press Gaza offensive


By IBRAHIM BARZAK, Associated Press Writer

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israeli troops went after Palestinian militants in Gaza on Thursday as rockets slammed into Southern Israel , but a planned meeting between a Hamas leader and Egyptian mediators raised hopes the violence could be contained.


Two gunmen were killed in clashes with the military in the town of Beit Lahiya, militant groups said.


Various Arab and Western nations have been trying to get Israel and the

Palestinians talking again. Chief among them has been Egypt, which is trying to broker a deal to free an Israeli soldier whose June 25 capture by Hamas-linked militants touched off Israel's 5-month-old Gaza offensive.


Egypt is also involved in efforts to form a more moderate Palestinian government to replace the one led by the violently anti-Israel Hamas. The new government would include Hamas appointments, and the group's radical


political chief, Khaled Mashaal, would have to approve both the new Cabinet and any prisoner swap.


Mashaal was in Cairo "to discuss the Israeli soldier and the national unity government," with Egyptian mediators Thursday, Moussa Abu Marzouk, Mashaal's deputy, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from the exiled Hamas leadership's base in Syria.


It was his first to Egypt since early this year, raising hopes for progress.


Mashaal, who has demanded Israel release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Cpl. Gilad Shalit, was expected to meet with the key figure in Egyptian mediation efforts, Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, Abu Marzouk said. It was not known when the two would meet.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah held another round of coalition talks with Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas on Thursday.


Israel — which is boycotting the Hamas government for refusing to recognize the Jewish state's right to exist — has been anxiously following the rocky unity government talks. It has voiced willingness to negotiate with the more moderate Abbas but those talks have faltered over the prisoner swap.


On Wednesday night, advisers to Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met to try to push ahead plans for a first working meeting between the two leaders. Abbas adviser Saeb Erekat said no date was set.


Abbas has balked at meeting with Olmert without receiving assurances he would walk away from the talks with concrete results, such as the release of Palestinian prisoners.


With diplomatic efforts still facing formidable obstacles, the violence in Gaza persisted.


Israeli tanks rumbled up to an apartment complex on the outskirts of Beit

Lahiya around dawn, security officials said. Troops fired bursts from turret-mounted machine guns, killing a militant and wounding another man, and then withdrew, they said. Hamas said the dead man was a member.


The officials said militants had fired rockets into Israel from a field near the apartment complex overnight.


A second militant from Islamic Jihad was killed by tank fire elsewhere in the town, the group said.


The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.


The army said Israeli troops in the same area saw a figure they deemed suspicious and opened fire, but think he escaped unharmed. It was not immediately clear if this was the same incident in which the Palestinian was killed.



Israeli infantrymen were also operating inside Beit Lahiya on Thursday.


Snipers took over a building overnight, security officials said, and militants fired two shoulder-launched rockets at them, setting the top floor on fire. Residents said helicopter gunships hovered overhead, and the Hamas TV station showed tanks moving through streets and army bulldozers leveling agricultural land just outside the town.


Meanwhile, more rockets landed in southern Israel. Five were fired from Gaza, the army said, and four hit. No injuries were reported.


The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said Thursday that a longer-range rocket it is developing would soon be operational, but it did not say when.


Abu Hamza, a spokesman for the group, said the rocket was based on the Russian-made Katyusha, which Lebanese guerrillas fired at northern Israel during the summer war. The rocket has a range of 11 to 12 miles — about double the range of anything the militants have developed yet.


In March, the group said it had "many" Russian-made rockets with a 11- to 19-mile range, smuggled into Gaza from Egypt. Islamic Jihad fired several of these rockets into Israel. But the Israeli military said at the time that they only traveled two to three miles into Israel.


The militants' rocket operations are exacting an increasingly heavy toll on

Israelis living near the border with Gaza. Two civilians were killed over the past week, and the near-daily attacks have severely disrupted the lives of anxious residents.


In all, 163 rockets have been launched from Gaza since the beginning of November, and 93 landed in Israeli territory, the army said. About 70 were launched in October, before Israel widened its operations against rocket squads.

On Wednesday, Israel's Security Cabinet of senior government officials resisted military pressure for a broad offensive in northern Gaza, though it did approve intensified action against wanted militants and attacks on Hamas operations in Gaza.

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Gaza ceasefire takes effect


By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) - A ceasefire between Israel and militants in Gaza took hold on Sunday and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised restraint in response to early Palestinian truce violations.


Olmert voiced hope the deal could help revive peacemaking that collapsed before a Palestinian uprising began in 2000.


The agreement is designed to end rocket attacks and halt a crushing Israeli army offensive that was launched after gunmen seized a soldier in a cross-border raid last June. Olmert said he hoped the soldier would now be freed.


"All of these things ultimately could lead to one thing -- the opening of serious, real, open and direct negotiations between us," Olmert said. "So that we can move forward toward a comprehensive agreement between us and the Palestinians."


Militants fired several rockets at Israel just hours after the start of the ceasefire.


"We will show the necessary restraint and patience, certainly in the coming days," Olmert said in southern Israel.


The Israeli army pulled forces out of Gaza overnight, before the ceasefire took effect. Palestinian witnesses confirmed that soldiers had left northern Gaza, where operations against rocket-launching squads had been focused.


Before Saturday, there had been little sign a truce was imminent. It came at a time of growing U.S. pressure on both Olmert and the Palestinians to curtail spiraling violence and show progress toward ending decades of conflict.


A deal could also ease domestic pressure on Olmert and help end months of Palestinian political deadlock.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a moderate, instructed security chiefs to ensure the ceasefire held. Palestinian forces in helmets and flak jackets patrolled near Gaza's borders. One official said 13,000 men were on the ground to stop rocket fire.


Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, from the governing Hamas Islamist group, said all main factions had agreed -- after the initial violations -- that they now would maintain the truce.


Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for launching at least five rockets into southern Israel on Sunday. Hamas's own armed wing and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, part of Abbas's Fatah , also said they had launched rockets.




More than 400 Palestinians, about half of them militants, have been killed in the offensive, Palestinian hospital officials and residents say. Three Israeli soldiers and two civilians have been killed since the assault began.


"Thanks to God the Israeli forces have quit our land in defeat. We feel like victors," said Abdel-Majid Ash-Shanti, 23, who lives in northern Gaza.


In Sderot, the southern Israeli town that has felt the brunt of rocket attacks, there was skepticism.


"There is no ceasefire," said mayor Eli Moyal, dashing for shelter as a warning came of a rocket attack.



The ceasefire could pave the way for a summit between Abbas and Olmert on ways to restart peacemaking.


Adherence to the truce could help Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of

Hamas finalize talks on forming a unity government that Palestinians hope might ease Western sanctions imposed after the Islamist group took office in March.


Hamas was instrumental in bringing about the latest truce, but is formally dedicated to destroying Israel.

A halt to rocket attacks could also reduce pressure on Olmert at home, where his popularity has flagged after a July-August war against Hezbollah guerillas in Lebanon that ended inconclusively with a U.N.-brokered truce.


The agreement came days President Bush is due to the visit the Middle East, stopping in Jordan for talks expected to touch on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as Iraq.

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Israelis: War In Summer 2007


Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff


Friday, December 1, 2006


1.The third Lebanon war


There will be a war next summer. Only the sector has not been chosen yet. The atmosphere in the Israel Defense Forces in the past month has been very pessimistic. The latest rounds in the campaigns on both fronts, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, have left too many issues undecided, too many potential detonators that could cause a new conflagration. The army's conclusion from this is that a war in the new future is a reasonable possibility. As Amir Oren reported in Haaretz several weeks ago, the IDF's operative assumption is that during the coming summer months, a war will break out against Hezbollah and perhaps against Syria as well.


At the same time, the IDF does not anticipate a long life for the cease-fire achieved last Saturday night with the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. When the present tahdiya (lull) joins its predecessors that fell apart - the hudna (cease-fire) of summer 2003 (which lasted for a month and a half) and the tahdiya of winter 2005 (which was in its death throes for months until its final burial at the end of the disengagement) - there is a danger that the big bang will take place in Gaza. At its conclusion, like a self- fulfilling prophecy, IDF soldiers will return to the heart of Rafah for the first time in 13 years.


Of the two worrisome scenarios, the IDF speaks more in public about a conflagration in Gaza, but is also genuinely worried about a war in the North, mainly in light of the army's dubious achievements in the previous round there. Deputy Chief of Staff Moshe Kaplinsky has recently spoken about a war in the North in the summer, in several closed military forums. The army is already undergoing an intensive process of preparation, which is based in part on lessons already learned from the second Lebanon war. The announcement this week of a renewal of reservist training at the Tze'elim training base is a signal to neighboring countries that the IDF is reinforcing and rehabilitating itself, but it was also meant for internal consumption: It broadcasts to the public and to the army that the process of post-war rehabilitation is being conducted with the requisite seriousness.


Do all signs lead to war? One senior defense official says the answer to this question is no. He says that what we are dealing with is more a question of image than of substance. The extremist assessment of the good chances of a conflict in the North is designed to present the army with a target (and more important, with a target date). By summer preparations will be completed, and the IDF will brush itself off and restore the professional capability that it mistakenly thought it had when Israel so hastily went to war last summer.


The process of rehabilitating the army's preparedness is combined with efforts by Chief of Staff Dan Halutz to present the investigation of the recent war (which is supposed to end in about two weeks) as his crowning achievement. In spite of his denials, Halutz is seriously considering resigning, but is looking for the proper context. The conclusion of the inquest, which Halutz describes as the most thorough and honest that the IDF has ever conducted, is likely to provide such a context. The chief of staff can say that he is leaving his successor with a clean desk and that after comprehensive rehabilitation, the army is once again on the right path.


In view of the risk of war against Syria, chief of Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin is talking about Israel's obligation to examine the possibility of renewing peace negotiations with Damascus. In this, Yadlin is joining his predecessor, Major General Aharon Ze'evi Farkash. And like his own predecessor, Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is also reacting with displeasure to this talk, and wondering aloud whether the head of MI is not exceeding the bounds of his authority. Nevertheless, at least in the Lebanese arena, Olmert recently reexamined the possibility of compromising with the Siniora government on the question of the Shaba Farms (Har Dov). With or without any connection, a UN team has begun a project to map the area in order to decide on the size of the controversial region. The mapping work is being done at UN headquarters in New York, on the basis of maps and satellite photos.


Olmert has been told that there is little chance that Syria would agree to an arrangement in which Israel would transfer this area to Lebanon. According to this assessment, Syrian President Bashar Assad is not enthusiastic about the possibility. When proposals for a remapping of the Syrian-Lebanese border were made to Assad, he replied that he would agree to that only if it began in the area of Tripoli in the north. In other words: as far as possible from the Shaba farms.


2. Palestinian freeze


In the Palestinian arena, the sides are returning to square one at the end of this week. Although the firing of Qassams has lessened in recent days, the Hamas government of Ismail Haniyeh refuses to give up its place. Haniyeh has embarked on a visit to Arab countries that will last for about two weeks. Until his return, no practical negotiations are taking place between Fatah and Hamas over the establishment of the national unity government.


At the beginning of the week, in the wake of the cease-fire, the Israeli side drew up complex, multi-stage scenarios regarding an overall deal that also involves the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit and the establishment of a new Palestinian government. However, as usual, the internal Palestinians arena is even more chaotic than Israel realizes. Apparently nothing has been decided yet in the Shalit affair. And the fate of the government of technocrats, which Haniyeh and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) have been discussing for months, is still unclear.


In the office of the chairman they were angry this week, but not only at Hamas. Abbas vented his frustration at a meeting that he held with Haniyeh on Monday. The chairman told the prime minister that he would no longer discuss a national unity government with him. If you think you'll succeed in removing the siege on your government without my help, he told him - tfadal (be my guest). The frustration in Abbas' circle is directed to a great extent against the Egyptians, who went out of their way this week to flatter Khaled Meshal, head of the Hamas political bureau in Damascus. It began with a press conference convened by Meshal in the Cairo press club, continued with an interview he gave to Egyptian television, and ended with a visit by Haniyeh and his entourage in Cairo, the first stop on the prime minister's journey. One of Abbas' men mentioned in disappointment that Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman himself had promised the chairman that Egypt would not allow Haniyeh to travel abroad via the Rafah crossing for the purpose of raising money for the Hamas government.


The price of Haniyeh's trip is clear to Abbas. Only last week two Hamas senior officials brought $25 million into the Gaza Strip in suitcases via the Rafah crossing. That is a huge sum in terms of the present Gazan economy, and not a single dollar of it will reach the coffers of the PA. The entire sum is earmarked for the Hamas charity apparatus and for the organization's military arm. At present, the return of Haniyeh's entourage from abroad means additional millions of dollars for Hamas, whereas Fatah is suffering from mounting budgetary distress.


Abbas' people are afraid that if the Shalit deal is finally completed, only Hamas will benefit from it. The release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons will be attributed to the force of Hamas' arms, rather than to the conciliatory approach of Abbas - in spite of Olmert's promises to release the prisoners into his arms. Abbas' men made a last, almost desperate attempt this week to get things to work for their benefit. They secretly turned to the two splinter groups that helped Hamas to kidnap Shalit - the Popular Resistance Committees and Jish al-Islam (the Army of Islam) - and suggested that they hand the soldier over to the chairman. The chances of success for such a move are slight.


As things look at the moment, Hamas is emerging strengthened from the cease-fire, and its position will continue to improve after the Shalit deal. The surprising support from Egypt will further solidify the position of Haniyeh and Meshal in the unity government contacts.


Fatah is nevertheless likely to register one achievement from the completion of a prisoner-release deal - if senior Palestinian prisoner Marwan Barghouti is among those freed. The release of Barghouti, who was sentenced in Israel to five cumulative life sentences, will ease the sting of the Hamas achievement and will restore Fatah's men in the field to public awareness. Israel has been discussing the possibility of his release for several years, in the hope of igniting a political move together with the Fatah leadership. A number of IDF generals have even expressed their support of this. On the other hand, the idea was sharply opposed by former Shin Bet security services chief Avi Dichter and his successor Yuval Diskin. This week someone in Jerusalem made sure to brief the political correspondents about Barghouti's substantial contribution, from his prison cell, to bringing about the cease-fire agreement.


Dichter and Diskin have a convincing argument: Barghouti was involved in the murder of Israelis. The leading gang of the Fatah military wing in the West Bank gathered around him and were inspired by him in their operations at the start of the intifada. The courts were convinced by the materials collected by the Shin Bet and MI, and convicted Barghouti of acts of murder. On the other hand, Barghouti has been actively involved for years in steps to achieve a cessation of the fighting. Yet this time it was urgent for political bodies in Israel to give credit to the senior prisoner. Perhaps this can be seen as preparing the ground for his release in a future deal.


While Olmert, in taking the dual steps of agreeing to the cease-fire and making the hopeful speech at the grave of David Ben-Gurion, created the appearance of a diplomatic process with the Palestinians, security elements are skeptical about the chances of survival of the agreement with the PA. Halutz hinted at that in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, when he said that the political leadership had "consulted partially" with the IDF about the agreement.


The army and the Shin Bet see eye to eye concerning the processes taking place in the Gaza Strip. Hamas is building in Gaza a southern version of Hezbollah-land, and the cease-fire will enable it to increase its strength without interference, by carrying on with the arms-smuggling industry. The calm will collapse at the time most convenient for the enemy, not for Israel. For the present, in order to defend itself from claims that it caused the cease-fire to fail, the IDF is awaiting precise instructions from the political leadership. These have not been forthcoming, and the army has to guess the intentions of the politicians and, based on them, to determine its instructions for opening fire.


3. Ofra is expanding


A Peace Now report about the settlements, which merited only limited coverage in the Israeli media, made considerable waves abroad. The New York Times thought that the revelations by Dror Etkes - the head of the organization's Settlements Watch program, who said that 40 percent of the settlement areas in the West Bank are located on private Palestinian land - was a front-page story. The detailed data gathered by Peace Now, which are backed by aerial photos and information about the legal status of each plot of land, indicate that no fewer than 130 settlements were built on private Palestinian property.


Senior officials in the Israeli Civil Administration confirm the reliability of the data and the conclusion to be drawn from them: The most significant violation of the law in the territories is not related so much to the outposts, but rather to the large and well-established settlements, which in Israeli discourse are considered legitimate. (The Judea and Samaria Regional Council denies this, and claims that all the construction in the settlements is done on state land.)


The settlement of Ofra, north of Ramallah, is a good example. Seen as the flagship of Gush Emunim (the original settlers' movement), this community sits on Palestinian land, according to the report. Not all of it, it's true. Only 93 percent. In light of this, the debate about last February's demolition of nine houses in its satellite outpost, Amona, seems somewhat marginal.


Etkes' team obtained aerial photos that document the development of Ofra in four stages, from its establishment in 1969 until today. Almost all the construction has been carried out on land belonging to Palestinians from the neighboring villages. Peace Now relies on a databank similar to the one coordinated by deputy defense minister Brigadier General (res.) Baruch Spiegel, whose main principles were published in Haaretz about two months ago. The U.S. administration, which keeps close track of any information about the settlements, has since asked for clarifications from the defense establishment. But Big Brother's surveillance does not really affect what happens on the ground. On the contrary: The present days of the shaky Olmert government are good for the settlers. The tractors are once again working energetically on the hills of Samaria, while Defense Minister Amir Peretz continues to issue weekly notices about his intention of dealing soon and with utmost seriousness with the construction in the outposts.

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Israel will have good reason for another war in Lebanon...Hezbollah is rebuilding for ANOTHER attack and no one is trying to stop it......


Iran wants another attack. Sadly Lebanon is caught between a bunch of terrorist and Israel and they're paying the heavy price for Irans and extremist muslims hatred of other religions


Its funny how Europe hates Israel when they're just the buffer for them....If Israel was not there Europe would be facing a much larger threat and more terrorism...Israel is taking the majority of the problem for the world and all most europeans do is bash them without realizing whats happening. But then again for THOUSANDS of years bashing and blaming the jews is ALL europe has known...and europe's not one to deny its history:dozey:

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