zaterdag 8 maart 2008

Terreuraanval in Jeruzalem ontging veiligheidsdiensten

Wat consequent wordt onderbelicht in onze media is het feit dat er de laatste jaren zo weinig aanslagen waren omdat Israël alle pogingen daartoe wist te verijdelen, niet omdat de Palestijnse terroristische groeperingen minder actief zouden zijn.
Israëlisch geweld, de muur en de checkpoints leiden niet tot meer, maar tot minder aanslagen.


Terror in Jerusalem / No intelligence ahead of attack 
By Amos Harel

After a week of failed efforts to settle scores with Israel for the casualties caused by its operation in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian terror organizations scored a string of successes yesterday. The day began with the bombing of an army jeep along the Gaza border, which was videotaped by Islamic Jihad. It continued with a direct rocket hit on a house in Sderot that wounded several people, and ended with the deadly shooting attack in Jerusalem's Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, the flagship institute of the religious Zionist movement. The latter was the worst terror attack to take place inside Israel in almost two years.

It provided a grim reminder of those days at the height of the second intifada, when Jerusalem was hit by a string of murderous terror attacks. What Israel's security services have accomplished in the West Bank over the last three years is a virtual miracle in professional terms: They succeeded in bringing terror down to a very low, even tolerable, level. It is commonplace to claim that terror cannot be defeated militarily, but in the West Bank, Israel has come as close as humanly possible - closer than anyone else has come in any other similar conflict elsewhere on the globe in recent years.

The success of yesterday's attack shows that the terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank is still alive and kicking. And the terrorists' motivation has apparently been spurred by their heavy losses in Gaza, as well as a desire to avenge the killing of senior Hezbollah operative Imad Mughniyah (a group called the "Mughniyah Brigades" was the first to claim responsibility for the Jerusalem attack, though the truth of this claim is doubtful). 

The defense establishment received several warnings about plans to perpetrate terror attacks inside Israel this week, but none, it seems, about the one in Jerusalem. And that makes sense: In recent years, Israel's superb intelligence network in the West Bank has enabled the security services to foil almost all attacks about which they receive even the tiniest scrap of information.

As of press time yesterday, the terrorist who perpetrated the shooting had not yet been identified. However, it seems likely that residents of East Jerusalem either perpetrated or abetted the attack. Because East Jerusalem residents carry Israeli identity cards, they can move freely throughout the country, making it easier for them to gather information about a target like Mercaz Harav, which is located deep in west Jerusalem. But it is also important to remember that nearly six years after Israel started building the separation fence, it is still far from finished. Thus it is possible to enter Jerusalem from the West Bank.

The Jerusalem attack will most likely prompt only pinpoint responses: arresting those in the terrorist's immediate circle, identifying the cell that sent him and then eliminating the cell. The closure on the West Bank will probably be tightened for a few days, and additional checkpoints will be set up. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's demand that Israel reduce the number of checkpoints in the West Bank will evidently have to wait. Security will also need to be beefed up in Jerusalem, lest the terrorists try to build on their success by launching a string of attacks that would undermine the sense of security of the city's residents.

Even if there is no direct connection between the attack in Jerusalem and the situation in Gaza, each arena influences the other. Anger at the attack in Jerusalem might spur the government to take harsher measures in Gaza, especially if it turns out that Hamas was involved in the attack. Moreover, given that Mercaz Harav is the ideological bastion of the religious right, the incident might spur revenge attacks by Jews.

The new year is just over two months old, and the number of Israelis killed by Palestinian terror - 15 - is higher than the total for all of last year (13). That does not bode well for the future.

Hamas eist yeshiva aanval Jeruzalem op

Nadat Gazanen donderdag en masse de straat op gingen om de 'succesvolle' aanslag in Jeruzalem te vieren, heeft Hamas de aanslag gisteren officieel verwelkomd, en noemde deze een legitieme vorm van verzet. Wat betreft Hamas volgen er nog vele aanslagen, en de internationale gemeenschap kan daar een handje bij helpen door Israël te dwingen de grenzen met Gaza te openen.


Last update - 21:40 07/03/2008

Hamas claims yeshiva attack, says 'normal response' to IDF Gaza op

By News Agencies

Hamas on Friday announced it was responsible for Thursday's shooting at the Mercaz Harav religious school in Jerusalem that killed eight people, then denied it was involved shortly afterwards. However, a spokesman on Sky television news then hailed the killing as a "normal response to the occupation", apparently reclaiming responsibility for the attack.

At the same time on Friday, Lebanese officials reported that two Israel Air Force planes had violated Beirut's airspace. Israel Defense Forces said it knew of no such activity.

The gunman, Ala Abu Dahim, 25, from the village of Jabal Mukhbar near East Jerusalem was shot and killed during the massacre. Several residents of Jabal Mukhbar said he had been a driver at the yeshiva he attacked. His family set up a mourning tent Friday and hung green Hamas flags outside their home.

"The Hamas movement announces its full responsibility for the Jerusalem operation. The movement will release the details at a later stage," the official said. Less than two hours later The Associated Press reported that Hamas had retracted this claim.

Ibrahim Daher, head of Hamas' al-Aqsa radio, said his station put out an earlier claim of responsibility prematurely, based on confused information.

However, in an interview on Sky television news following its denial, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum referred to the massacre as "a normal response to the occupation." Barhoum added that the killing was a response to IDF killings in Gaza. "Our resistance is a legitimate right," he said.

Barhoum said that Hamas' military wing, the Izz a Din al Qassam Brigades, would make a formal statement soon.

"All the ones who identify themselves with that murderer know that Israel never starts an attack, never shoot any rockets against anybody," President Shimon Peres told Sky. "And they should know, and they know, would they stop firing the Katyushas and the Qassams against civilian life in Israel, there wouldn't be any bloodshed."

Eight boys - seven of whom were aged 15 to 19 and one of whom was aged 26 - were killed Thursday and nine more wounded when the gunman entered the yeshiva in Jerusalem's Kiryat Moshe neighborhood and opened fire in the library. Three of the wounded were in a critical condition.

Initially, an organization calling itself Galilee Freedom Battalions-the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Hezbollah's Al-Manar television station, while Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the gunman had acted alone.

Rosenfeld added the gunman came from a neighborhood where Palestinian residents hold Israeli ID cards that give them freedom of movement in Israel.

The man worked as a driver, Rosenfeld confirmed, but would not provide further details.

Abu Dahim was arrested by Israeli authorities four months ago and then released two months later, they said. The residents would not give their names because the family had not authorized them to release the information.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who condemned the seminary attack, suspended negotiations this week because of the spike in violence in the Gaza Strip, but later backed down under pressure from the U.S.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said that the shooting had almost certainly been organized in the West Bank. He would not confirm that Israel had reached a decision to continue peace talks, but did not deny the other official's statement that negotiations would go on.

Lebanon: Israeli warplanes fly over Beirut

Israel Air Force planes flew over the Lebanese capital Beirut on Friday, Lebanese security sources said. Officials said the two IAF aircraft violated Lebanese airspace and flew over Beirut at a medium altitude briefly before leaving the area.

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces said the IDF knew of no activity in Beirut.

The IAF frequently flies reconnaissance missions over south Lebanon and has drawn ground fire from Lebanese troops on at least two occasions since the cease-fire in August 2006 which ended the month-long Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah.

They have occasionally flown over Beirut as well. Three IAF reconnaissance planes violated Lebanese airspace in southern Lebanon Thursday, the Lebanese army said in a statement Friday.

The latest Israeli overflights come amid tensions over Thursday's attack in Jerusalem at the rabbinical seminary. Hezbollah's Al-Manar satellite TV station said a previously unknown group called the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh and Gaza was responsible for the attack - a claim that could not immediately be verified.

Mughniyeh, a senior Hezbollah commander, was killed in a car bomb in Syria last month. Hezbollah has blamed Israel for the assassination and vowed retaliation.

Hamas gebruikt kinderen om wapens van dode terroristen in te zamelen

Israël wordt er wel eens van beschuldigd opzettelijk op Palestijnse kinderen te schieten. Er zijn zeker gekken die dat wel eens gedaan hebben, en ik kan niet betuigen dat die allemaal passend zijn gestraft. Nochtans voert het IDF het bizarre beleid om niet op kinderen te schieten.
Hamas kwijt zich intussen van zijn opvoedkundige taak door kinderen al vroeg een nuttige rol in het maatschappelijke leven toe te kennen.

Hamas using children to collect weapons from dead gunmen as IDF holds fire

Dr. Aaron Lerner
Date: 5 March, 2008

Makor Rishon correspondent Hagai Huberman reports in today's edition that Hamas is using children to collect weapons from dead gunmen as the IDF holds fire.

A senior officer in the Givati Brigade that just saw action in the Gaza Strip told Huberman that they killed a terrorist who had on him a large quantity of weapons.  A few minutes later another terrorist came to collect the body and he was also shot by the soldiers and then a 10 year old boy came, approached the weapons and collected them and brought them to a terrorist hiding behind the wall.  "It was clear to us that we would not hurt the boy, but it was a cynical and cruel method used by the terrorists," the officer said.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)

Kolonisten akkoord met evacuatie van enkele illegale buitenposten op Westoever

Soms verlang je bijna terug naar Ariel Sharon. Er sprak veel tegen die man, maar volgens de methode Barak was de Gazastrook nog steeds niet ontruimd geweest. Nu hebben Hamas en de Qassam raketten het enthousiasme voor ontruimingen ook wel bekoeld tot onder het vriespunt...
Het is nochtans bijna tenenkrommend hoe Barak een jaar lang bezig is met de kolonisten te onderhandelen om vervolgens overeenstemming te bereiken over een handjevol buitenposten waar geeneens mensen wonen:
"They're not outposts that families live on," he said"

Deze zin is al even maf:
"During the process the government would have to make confidence building measures toward the settlers, he said."

Het ging toch om vertrouwenwekkende maatregelen naar de Palestijnen toe??


Settlers agree to evacuate some illegal West Bank outposts in deal struck with Barak 
By Barak Ravid and Jonathan Lis
Several illegal outposts will be evacuated in the next few days, under an agreement reached between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and settler leaders. This is the first stage of dismantling 26 outposts built on private Palestinian land after March 2001.

Israel had promised the United States that it would evacuate these outposts to meet the conditions of the first stage of the diplomatic road map leading to a final-status agreement with the Palestinians.

The evacuation agreement was reached after prolonged covert negotiations between the Yesha settlers' council and Barak and his adviser for settlement affairs Eitan Broshi. It is based on relocating the West Bank outposts into either the large settlement blocs or in settlements near Jerusalem, under the assumption that these will remain in Israeli hands after a final-status arrangement.

The first three or four outposts will be evacuated voluntarily and relocated to other settlements nearby, as long as this does not contradict the prime minister's instructions restricting construction in the territories. The evacuated settlers will receive no compensation.

"Our intention is not to solve one problem and create a new one, so the outposts will only be relocated to settlements on which there is a consensus," a security source said.

One of the outposts earmarked for evacuation is Migron, which the state has recently promised the High Court of Justice to evacuate by August. Migron is the largest outpost and consists of more than 60 families.

The settlers and defense officials are expected to find a place for Migron's residents within the next few days.

The source said that the 26 outposts will be evacuated in stages. "Some places are still being debated and the settlers' leadership will be tested," he said.

"We believe the settlers will have an interest in relocating the outposts to legal places that can be developed and prevent them from appearing illegal."

The U.S. demanded it

The American administration has demanded for years that Israel evacuate the illegal outposts. Since the Annapolis conference and the resumption of peace talks, the Americans have repeated this demand, as have the Palestinians. The U.S. even appointed a special envoy to examine the implementation of the road map's first stage, which includes the evacuation of outposts.

Yesha council head Danny Dayan, who is conducting the negotiations with his colleagues Pinhas Wallerstein and Ze'ev Hever, said yesterday that the talks are intended "to create confidence building measures with the Defense Ministry and solve the outposts issue by agreement as opposed to conflict."

He said they were drafting an agreement "to evacuate a number of structures in two or three outposts. We want the government to authorize outposts that were built on state lands."

During the process the government would have to make confidence building measures toward the settlers, he said.

He refused to say which outposts would be relocated. "Their names are not clear yet. In any case you wouldn't know any of the names. They're not outposts that families live on," he said

vrijdag 7 maart 2008

Amnesty International rapport over Gazastrook omstreden

Kritiek op het eenzijdige rapport van Amnesty International en andere mensenrechtenorganisaties over de situatie in Gaza


Today former chairman of Amnesty International's Israel chapter Dr. Michael Ehrlich and NGO Monitor Executive Director, Prof Gerald Steinberg, held a press conference at MediaCentral in Jerusalem and presented a number of perspectives on today's report released by Amnesty International and other UK-based NGOs on the humanitarian situation in Gaza.  Below is a summary of their remarks, for reference, as requested by many who could not attend the briefing.
1) The opening sentence of the report refers to the situation today being "worse now than it has ever been since… 1967".  This reference is disingenuous and misleading.  The report uses no data to support such a statement.  The facts – corroborated by numerous UN and other international bodies including UNESCO, WHO, WTO, IMF and others – point to a significant increase in virtually every indicator of quality of life for Gaza residents, whether infant mortality rates, life expectancy, general health indices, literacy rates, women's participation in the workforce, GDP, electricity and running water availability, and the number of colleges, hospitals, schools, day-care centers and the like, between 1967 and the assumption of governing responsibilities by the Palestinian Authority in the "Oslo Process" in the mid-1990's (and even today, after over a decade of authoritarian rule, corruption and mismanagement by the Palestinian Authority).
2) None of these organizations (and in fact, no organization) has the capacity to verify such claims which originate with Palestinian NGOs and officials. They cannot verify whether 80% or 63% "of Gaza residents are dependent on food aid."  Amnesty's only 'researcher' in the region, Donatella Rovera, is based in Europe and her knowledge of the details is very limited.  (Claims made by these organizations regarding international law are also out of their areas of competence.)

3) Much of the data on which this report is based is false, and repeats the fabricated reports written by John Dugard, a well known anti-Israel activist employed by the UN.  As Dr. Elihu Richter of Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital notes, Dugard "misrepresents and wildly distorts the situation concerning medical referrals to Israel".  In contrast to the claims, "permissions  and referrals to Israeli specialty medical services,  increased by 45% from 4,934 in 2006 to 7,176 in 2007, with approval rates of some 82% of all requests during 2007."

4) Neither in this report nor in many others like it, do the organizations publishing the report acknowledge the fact that Gaza has been 'governed' for the past 8 months, since the violent takeover by Hamas in June 2007, by a quasi-government established by coup with no recognition or legitimacy either in Palestinian society or in the Arab or Muslim world, let alone in the international community.  The Hamas leadership is the party responsible for the violence and therefore responsible for the suffering of the Palestinian civilian population (and is defined by the US and the EU as a terrorist organization).
5) Similarly, the fact of Israel's total withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and the continuous barrage of rocket and mortar attacks are often either ignored or mentioned only in passing –  some 4000 since the 'disengagement' in August 2005 and some 500 since January 2008, including military-grade Grad Katyusha missiles in Ashkelon, Israel's southern port city of 120,000, bringing the total population today in missile attack range to some 250,000.
6) These organizations use humanitarian claims to promote a clear political agenda which demonizes Israel.  Christian Aid, Medecins du Monde UK, Oxfam, Save the Children U.K. and Trocaire all have a history of political and ideological anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian bias.  These are documented in detail on 

7) Few acknowledge Egypt's role in certain aspects of the situation in Gaza, most specifically their responsibility for monitoring and interdicting the passage of munitions and terrorists across Egyptian territory and across the Egyptian border with Gaza. 
8) Similarly, the fact that Israel provides the majority of Gaza's electricity needs is often ignored or minimized, as are the numerous humanitarian convoys of food and medical supplies even in the midst of a war initiated by Hamas with its rocket attacks.
For further information and interviews, please contact:
Dr. Michael Ehrlich –
Prof. Gerald Steinberg –

Wapenstilstand in Gazastrook met Rice overeengekomen?

Wafa schrijft in een taal die op Engels lijkt. Uit het onderstaande bericht valt op te maken dat er een mechanisme voor een staakt-het vuren is overeengekomen met hulp van Condoleezza Rice en een Egyptische bemiddelaar, maar niet tussen wie dat dan zou moeten gelden. Gaat het hier alleen over de Palestijnse facties of ook over Israël?
Vervolgens wordt beweerd dat Abbas de onderhandelingen pas zal hervatten nadat er een staakt-het-vuren met Israël is bereikt en de grensovergangen open kunnen.
Aangezien Abbas gisteren al aan Rice had toegezegd de onderhandelingen te hervatten, zou dat betekenen dat er een bestand met Israël is bereikt.
Interessante vraag: was dat voor of na de Qassams van vandaag, en voor of na de bloedige aanslag in Jeruzalem? Volgens mij is de journalistiek van Wafa even beroerd als hun Engels.


Qurea: It Has Been Agreed with Rice about Truce in Gaza Strip

RAMALLAH, March 6, 2008, (WAFA- PLO news agency)- Head of the Palestinian negotiators Ahmed Qurea asserted Thursday that it has been agreed with the US Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice about a mechanism according to which a truce in Gaza Strip by an Egyptian mediation to be affected.

After meeting Rice, Qurea said that it is expected that Umr Suleiman to arrive to the region soon so as to discuss new Egyptian suggestions; a comprehensive truce in Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

President Abbas' political chancellor Nimr Hammad said that the stuck negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis will resume after reaching a truce according to which Gaza crossings to be reopened.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Humanitaire situatie in Gaza Strook slechts sinds 1967

Waar ik niet bij kan is dat Mensenrechtenorganisaties zo mild zijn over Hamas, een organisatie die tot doel heeft om zoveel mogelijk Israëlische burgers te doden, in haar handvest zelfs spreekt van het doden van alle Joden als religieuze plicht, kinderen aanzet tot haat en geweld, illegaal via een coup de macht heeft gegrepen in de Gazastrook en de vrijheid van meningsuiting en andere rechten drastisch heeft ingeperkt. Er is geen onafhanklijke rechtsspraak, er is geen onafhankelijke journalistiek, christenen lopen gevaar en vrouwen zijn verplicht een hoofddoek te dragen. Hamas ontvangt miljoenensteun aan geld en wapens van Iran, ook al zo'n vooruitgeschoven post van vrijheid en tolerantie.
Wat is er met Amnesty en andere organisaties aan de hand? Waarom houdt men Hamas niet verantwoordelijk voor de humanitaire situatie in Gaza? Zonder de voortdurende rakettenregen op Sderot en andere plaatsen, zonder wapensmokkel en veelvuldige pogingen van Hamas om Israël te infilteren en aanslagen uit te voeren, wat af en toe helaas lukt, zou Israël de grenzen niet gesloten hebben.

Het is bovendien twijfelachtig of überhaupt van collectief straffen kan worden gesproken, wanneer een land een ander land blokkeert. In oorlogen en conflicten zijn blokkades een geoorloofd middel om een militair voordeel op de vijand te behalen. Het is eerder uitzonderlijk te noemen dat Israël de Gazanen nog steeds van stroom en diesel voorziet, die immers mede worden gebruikt om de fabricatie en vervoer van raketten mogelijk te maken.


Last update - 09:47 06/03/2008
Study: Gaza humanitarian situation worst since 1967

A coalition of eight British-based human rights organizations on Thursday released a scathing report in claiming that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is at its worst point since Israel captured the territory in 1967.

The report said that more than 1.1 million people, about 80 percent of Gaza's residents, are now dependent on food aid, as opposed to 63 percent in 2006, unemployment is close to 40 percent and close to 70 percent of the 110,000 workers employed in the private sector have lost their jobs.

It also said that hospitals are suffering from power cuts of up to 12 hours a day, and the water and sewage systems were close to collapse, with 40-50 million liters of sewage pouring into the sea daily.
The report follows strident international condemnation of Israel after it struck hard against Palestinian militants in Gaza, killing more than 120 in the past week, including many civilians, after Palestinians militants escalated their daily rocket fire at

The rockets have killed 13 people, wounded dozens more, traumatized thousands and caused millions of dollars in damage. Last week longer-range rockets reached Ashkelon, a city of 120,000 people, about 17 kilometers north of Gaza, prompting the harsh Israeli response.

The Defense Ministry rejected the report, blaming the militant Hamas rulers of Gaza for the hardships.

"Israel has the right and obligation to protect its citizens, but as the occupying power in Gaza it also has a legal duty to ensure that Gazans have access to food, clean water, electricity and medical care," said Amnesty International U.K. Director Kate Allen, one of groups behind the report. "Punishing the entire Gazan population by denying them these basic human rights is utterly indefensible. The current situation is man-made and must be reversed."

The 16-page report - sponsored by Amnesty, along with CARE International U.K., CAFOD, Christian Aid, Medecins du Monde UK, Oxfam, Save the Children U.K. and Trocaire - calls on the British government to exert greater pressure on Israel and to reverse its policy on not negotiating with Gaza's Hamas rulers.

Israel and the West shun Hamas and label it a terrorist organization. Hamas does not accept the presence of a Jewish state in an Islamic Middle East and has sent dozens of suicide bombers into Israel, most recently a month ago.

The report adds that it considers Israel's blockade of Gaza as unacceptable and illegal collective punishment.

Replying to the report, the Defense Ministry said it was misdirected.

"The main responsibility for events in Gaza - since the withdrawal of Israel from the territory and the uprooting of the settlements there - is the Hamas organization, to which all complaints should be addressed, read a statement a spokesman," Maj. Peter

This week NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based watchdog, called on human rights groups to end what it called their political use of international law. It cited an Amnesty International press release that it said made unsubstantiated accusations that Israeli responses are being carried out with reckless disregard for civilian life.

"NGOs and human rights groups must end their irresponsible and immoral use of legal rhetoric," said Gerald Steinberg, Executive Director of NGO Monitor. "False claims of disproportionate force and collective punishment by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch make a mockery of international law."

Bedoeien soldaat gedood bij aanval op IDF jeep nabij Gazastrook

Je land dienen en dat verborgen moeten houden voor je buren, omdat je anders voor verrader wordt uitgemaakt. Het is het lot van veel Arabieren in Israël die zich wel loyaal aan de staat betonen ondanks de retoriek van hun leiders. Hoe gaat dat eigenlijk in zijn werk? Hoe gaat deze familie het verlies van hun man, vader en zoon verborgen houden in een gemeenschap met veel sociale controle?
Misschien zou Israel iets voor deze mensen terug kunnen doen door de voorzieningen in de 'unregistered communities' te verbeteren, of de Bedoeienen een fatsoenlijk alternatief te bieden.
Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:

Israel Radio reported this afternoon that the soldier killed today was a Bedouin tracker - father of eight who lives in an "unregistered community" in the Negev.  He was buried today and at the request of the familiy his name is not being released in order to avoid friction with their neighbors.
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis / Website:

Soldier killed in strike on IDF jeep near Gaza border
By Amos Harel and Mijal Grinberg, Haaretz Correspondents and News Agencies
Last update - 13:16 06/03/2008

An Israel Defense Forces soldier was killed and another seriously wounded when Palestinian militants blew up an IDF jeep patrolling the Gaza Strip border early Thursday.

The jeep blew up when it rolled over an explosively formed penetrator next to Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, on the Israeli side of the border. The explosives were apparently activated from Palestinian territory.

The slain soldier was sitting in the passenger seat of the jeep at the time of the attack, while the driver was seriously hurt.

Two other soldiers, who were sitting in the backseat of the jeep, sustained minor wounds.

Several other army vehicles, along with an army helicopter, arrived to rescue the wounded, but also came under fire, witnesses said.

The casualties were taken to the Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva for treatment. Their families have been notified of the attack.

A witness said the jeep appeared to have been destroyed by the explosion at the Kissufim border crossing in central Gaza, and two tanks and an ambulance rushed to the scene.

"I believe the jeep was destroyed, because it was consumed by flames," the witness, a local Palestinian, told Reuters.

The IDF military confirmed that a soldier was killed and three others hurt in the attack.

Senior IDF officers held an emergency meeting to plan their response to the cross-border strike, officials said following the attack.

A spokesman for the Islamic Jihad militant group claimed responsibility for the attack and the ruling Hamas group said it also participated.

"A group of fighters planted a bomb under the cover of darkness and waited for the jeep to arrive ... [then] two fighters detonated the explosives," said Abu Ahmed, an Islamic Jihad spokesman.

He said the attack was revenge for an IAF strike a day earlier that killed one of the group's commanders in southern Gaza.

"We are sending our message to all the Zionist criminals," he said. "Your threats to target the leaders of resistance ... won't scare us. We are going to continue our resistance and holy war, and we will continue to rain rockets on your colonies until we make them ghost towns."

Also on Thursday, the Israel Air Force killed one militant in an on attack on a rocket-launching site in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical officials said.

IDF forces withdrew from north Gaza on Monday after a sweep against Palestinian rocket crews that killed more than 125 people - half of them civilians, according to medical officials. Fighting has persisted sporadically since.

Israel has pledged to keep up the pressure on militants to halt the continuous rocket fire on the Negev.

Five Qassams and four mortar shells strike western Negev

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Thursday fired four Qassam rockets and four mortar shells toward the western Negev.

The Qassam struck open fields near the city of Sderot and one of the shell hit an agricultural field in Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, the site where an Ecuadorian volunteer was killed about two months ago.

There were no injuries or damages reported in any of the incidents.

Workers at Ein Hashlosha left their fields at the time of the attack.

Also on Thursday, Hamas Radio reported that its militants opened fire on an Israel Air Force planes. No comment was available from the Israel Defense Forces.

Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry on Wednesday finished erecting 120 fortified concrete bus shelters throughout Sderot, to serve as erstwhile shelters against rocket fire.

Some of the shelters can accommodate people who use wheelchairs.

In Ashkelon, tension remained high in anticipation of additional katyusha barrages. An alarm went off mistakenly at 2 P.M. in one neighborhood, sowing wide-spread panic and flooding police and municipal hotlines with calls.

Politicians continued to visit the city Wednesday. Health Minister Jacob Ben-Yizri toured the sites where katyushas hit, and met with Magen David Adom officials in Ashkelon.

Zeven doden bij aanval op yeshiva in Jeruzalem

In Gaza, Hamas welcomed the terrorist attack. "We bless the [Jerusalem] operation. It will not be the last," Hamas said in a statement.

In Gaza City, residents went out into the streets and fired rifles in celebration in the air after hearing news of the attack on the yeshiva.

NOVA meldde gisteren dat 'het kruidvat het Midden-Oosten weer in brand staat, en doden aan de ene kant leiden tot een feestje aan de andere kant'.
Pardon? Wanneer gaan Israëli's zingend de straat op om de dood van Palestijnse kinderen te vieren? Men gaat zelfs niet de straat op om de dood van terroristenleiders te vieren, mensen die tientallen en soms honderden doden op hun geweten hebben. Men ziet het als een noodzakelijk kwaad ze te doden en als onvermijdelijk dat daarbij ook burgerslachtoffers vallen, en nooit iets om verheugd over te zijn. Waar haalt NOVA deze abjecte nonsens vandaan??

Ah, men wil evenwichtig overkomen, en dan kan je natuurlijk niet vermelden dat alleen de Palestijnen de onhebbelijke gewoonte hebben doden aan Israëlische kant uitbundig te vieren. Overigens voelt men de behoefte evenwichtig te zijn nooit wanneer men over de talloze (vermeende) misstanden in de bezette gebieden bericht, en de ene na de andere Palestijn aan het woord komt om te vertellen hoe erg het allemaal is, of wanneer Van Agt weer eens alle ruimte krijgt, of tijdens een reportage over Mearsheimer en Walts 'studie' naar de macht van de Zionistische lobby in de VS.

[ Ami Isseroff, MewNews: Channel 1 now reports that the attack was carried out by 1 terrorist who brought a Kalatchnikov assault rifle in a box in addition to a suicide vest - a combined shooting and suicide bombing. It is also reported that the terrorist was a resident of East Jerusalem and the "Chofshiyey Hagalil" group claimed "credit." Note that Ha'aretz rarely uses the word "terrorist." An additional victim is in critical condition. A much larger number of victims are in shock or lightly wounded and are not counted in casualty figures as they have not reached hospitals as yet. ]

Last update - 22:29 06/03/2008

Nine students hurt, three in serious condition 
Seven killed in terrorist attack at Jerusalem yeshiva

By Jonathan Lis, Yair Ettinger and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents 
Seven students were killed and nine others were wounded Thursday evening when terrorists infiltrated the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem, police said.

One terrorist was also killed, according to police.

Three of the injured were listed as being in serious condition and taken to Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Karem, while the other six were lightly hurt and taken to Sha'arei Tzedek Medical Center. MDA declared the incident a "multiple casualty event."
At least one terrorist infiltrated the yeshiva, possibly armed with an explosive belt, and began firing in every direction.

Yitzhak Danon, a student at the yeshiva, told Channel 2 television that one terrorist entered the seminary's library, and fired for several minutes at students with a Kalashnikov assault rifle.

Danon said he shot the terrorist twice in the head.

Michael, another student who only gave his first name, said he saw a terrorist enter the complex, and fire for some 10 minutes. "He fired 500-600 bullets," he said, adding that most of those hurt were high school age.

Witnesses said about 80 people were gathered in the library.

A large number of security and emergency medical personnel arrived on the scene, with some 50 ambulances summoned.

Police and Israel Defense Forces troops were searching the complex in order to determine whether one of the terrorists was still holed up inside the yeshiva, and were also going house to house in the immediate area in search of third terrorist who may have fled.

Police are having a difficult time keeping crowds of onlookers away from the scene, despite concerns there are still explosive belts at the scene that have yet to be neutralized.

Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski told Channel 2 television, "It's very sad tonight in Jerusalem - many people were killed in the heart of Jerusalem."

"There was a lot of gunfire and hysteria," a woman who lives across the street from the school told the radio. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

In Gaza, Hamas welcomed the terrorist attack. "We bless the [Jerusalem] operation. It will not be the last," Hamas said in a statement.

In Gaza City, residents went out into the streets and fired rifles in celebration in the air after hearing news of the attack on the yeshiva.

*** Balanced Middle East News ***
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Jonge Amerikaanse Joden niet vervreemd van Israël

Volgens een recent onderzoek keren Amerikaanse Joden zich niet van Israël af, zoals vaak wordt beweerd, maar voelen ze zich sterker met Israël verbonden naarmate ze ouder worden. Volgens Ami Isseroff kan het ook zijn dat die jongeren die zich niet met Israël verbonden voelen, zich voor een deel ook van het Jodendom afwenden en dus niet meer meetellen in het onderzoek.

By Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondent
March 5, 2008

Scholars reject 'prevailing pessimism regarding the future relationship of American Jews to Israel.'

WASHINGTON - Despite being on the road, I heard about this new study that just came out today and did not want to wait with the good news. So, I will share some of the highlights here and maybe write more about it later. For those really interested in the topic - I recommend reading the study in full. I, for one, found it to be very interesting.

So let's dive into it, starting with the most surprising conclusion: "Jewish attachment to Israel has largely held steady for the period 1994-2007". There is no decline. Those of you who bothered to read any of my previous posts on this matter (Another study, more proof: Younger American Jews are alienated from Israel), can calm down.

The new study was released by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University. I spoke with two of the three scholars responsible for this study (Len Saxe and Ted Sasson. Charles Kadushin was also on the team) and they feel pretty confident about its findings. Prof.
Saxe of Brandeis told me that he is more than ready to debate those who will not agree with the conclusions of this study if need arises. There are "strong reasons for rejecting the prevailing pessimism regarding the future relationship of American Jews to Israel", the study declares.

With such conclusions, there is no doubt that the need will arise.


So why did we think young Americans don't care for Israel as much as the older generation?

"Differences in attachment to Israel are likely related to life-cycle rather than the diverse experiences of successive generations. As American Jews grow older, they tend to become more emotionally attached to Israel".


And how do we know that?

Using the
Annual AJC Survey in which there are two questions "related to attachment to Israel almost every year".

One asks respondents whether "Caring about Israel is a very important part of my being a Jew." On this question, "the proportion of respondents agreeing that Israel is a 'very important' aspect of their Jewish identity holds stable throughout the entire time period" (19994-2007).

The second asks "How close do you feel to Israel?" and here is the analysis of the response: "Between 1994 and 2005, the proportion feeling close to Israel increased by 11 percents, from 66 to 77 percent of the sample; between 2006 and 2007, it declined by 7 percent. For the period as a whole, the spread between those indicating 'close' and 'distant' increased by a modest eight percent. Given the reported margin of error in these surveys, this is close to being a flat response".

And by the way, "Stability in the proportion of respondents indicating closeness to Israel is evident across the denominations."


That's all about American Jews in general, but what about the younger generation?

"If the younger generation's attachment was in decline, we would expect the proportion of respondents in the older two age categories indicating strong support of Israel to decline over time as younger respondents replaced older respondents within each category". This hasn't happened: respondents in the two older categories "either grew more attached" or their "level of attachment remained unchanged".

The authors site studies from the seventies and the eighties in which there was also a gap between young and old on the question of attachment. What does it prove? That as people get older (and wiser) the also grow more attached to Israel.


But Jewish liberals do grow more distant from Israel, don't they?

Well, not exactly. This might astonish (and probably upset) some of my conservative friends, but according to this study "general political orientation on a continuum from 'extremely liberal' to 'extremely conservative' is not related to attachment to Israel" (of course, one can argue about the meaning of attachment for the different groups, but that's another story).


So how come we thought the attachment to Israel was declining?

This is a long story. But to make it short I will quote this: "In a series of reports, articles, and books" Prof. Steven Cohen and colleagues "discern evidence that erosion in support is underway". So, again, it is the old story of Cohen the alarmist (my description, no one said such thing to me).

Alarmist - assuming that this study is right and he was wrong.


I asked Ted Sasson what Cohen will say about his conclusion. He told me that Cohen read some of the drafts and that one argument will probably be that the AJC surveys are not accurate enough when it comes to reflecting the growing segment of the community that is intermarried.

However, Sasson points out that their study does in fact control for the influence of intermarriage.


Any other good news in this study?

Yes. The more American Jews travel to Israel, the more they become attached to it. And in recent years, the number of travelers has been growing, and will grow even more thanks to the Taglit-Birthright program (young Jews go to Israel for free). This "implies the likelihood that such upward pressure on Israel attachment will continue in the future".

Fatah leider over Arabisch nationalisme en bezetting

Op de officiële TV zender van de Palestijnse Autoriteit zei Mahmoud Ismail, lid van het uitvoerend committe van de PLO, het volgende:
"I want to cite the actions and future actions of President [Abbas], from the starting point that the Palestine cause is the essential and central cause of the Arab Nation. It's not surprising that [to] certain journalists of the current despicable American era, our language of the 50s and 60s is outdated, when we talk about the nature of the struggle between the Arab Nation and its enemies: the Imperialists and Zionists, who attack and occupy our territories inside Palestine and outside, in Iraq, in the remains of South Lebanon and the Golan.
"We take pride in this language because we are the authentic Arabs who believe in our Arabism, our faith, our cause, our Nation, in our right to struggle and to resistance in all possible ways in all the occupied lands, in Palestine, Lebanon the Golan and Iraq..."
[Palestinian Television (Fatah) Feb. 26, 2008]

donderdag 6 maart 2008

Met inspiratie van Allah vechten Hamas strijders door

"We have the right to all of Palestine," he said in his three-room, one-storey house in Gaza City.
"If we are dead before we can liberate our land, then we did not give up. We have to set an example to our children that weakness is not an excuse for not putting up a fight."
"In the end, Israel will have to agree to our terms. There is no alternative to returning all of our Palestine."

Wat voor onderhandelingen kun je voeren met mensen met dergelijke ideeën? Zij willen maar één ding, en dat is blijven vechten, tot Israël vernietigd is of totdat ze dood zijn. Deze man is geen uitzondering, en Reuters heeft geen bijzonder extreme citaten gebruikt om Hamas zwart te maken. Integendeel, het leest meer als een propagandastuk voor Hamas.

Inspired by God, Hamas fighters battle on
Mon Mar 3, 2008 2:30pm GMT
By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA, March 3 (Reuters) - Abu Mohammed picked up his rifle, said farewell to his wife and six children and went out to face the Israeli tanks, helicopter gunships and missile-firing airborne drones.

"Being unable to defeat Israel is no reason to surrender," the Hamas fighter said with a smile as he headed to the Gaza Strip's front line last Saturday, ignoring pleas from his family to stay.

"My children and wife are very dear to me," he said. "But reward in Heaven and the homeland are dearer."

The 38-year-old furniture salesman says he is not afraid to die for the cause of destroying Israel and forging a Palestinian state on all Israel's territory, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

To Israel and its allies, Abu Mohammed and his comrades are Jew-hating terrorists. But Abu Mohammed sees himself on a mission from God to rescue his people from 60 years of misery as refugees since the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948.

Though that conviction may, in some, mingle with bravado and self-interest, it does make Hamas an enemy to be reckoned with, for all that Israel's hi-tech army easily outguns their rifles, home-made rockets and, if they choose, their suicide bomb belts.

After five days of air strikes and ground assaults that it said aimed to halt Hamas rocket fire, Israel pulled out its troops on Monday after appeals from the United States that followed at international outcry at the dozens of civilians among over 100 dead.


Abu Mohammed survived, though he broke a bone in his hand diving for cover. The rocket fire resumed and Hamas and its fellow Islamist allies vowed to battle on, despite losing close to 60 fighters. Estimates vary but there may be 20,000 or more Abu Mohammeds left to continue the war in Gaza alone.

Islam forbids suicide, but rewards "martyrdom" with glory in this world and paradise in the next. For the 1.5 million Palestinians in the slums and refugee camps of the Gaza Strip, the question of why one of their compatriots would sacrifice his or her life to kill Israelis needs little soul-searching.

"An Islamist fighter has two motives: a religious motive -- God's reward; and a social motive -- appreciation from the people he is defending," explained Fadel Abu Heen, a prominent Gaza psychiatrist.

And religion was the stronger motivation for Islamist fighters. "That is what makes them braver and more aggressive fighters than others," he said.

Older than most of his fellow combatants, Abu Mohammed said his family had fled to Gaza from a village nearby in 1948.

"We have the right to all of Palestine," he said in his three-room, one-storey house in Gaza City.

"If we are dead before we can liberate our land, then we did not give up. We have to set an example to our children that weakness is not an excuse for not putting up a fight."


Hamas leaders have offered a long-term truce with Israel in return for a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem -- terms Israel is unwilling to accept, preferring to negotiate with Hamas's secular enemies in the Fatah faction, which dominates the larger West Bank.

And the Islamist group, which routed Fatah forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas, continues to say it will not formally recognise Israel. Its 1988 founding charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Abu Mohammed -- his familiar rather than formal name -- went to fight on Saturday with an AK-47 assault rifle, two spare clips, and three Hamas-made hand grenades bearing the words "Qassam Brigades", the name of Hamas's armed wing.

Before leaving, he turned off his mobile phone, which Israel could use to track his movements, and switched on a two-way radio that connects him to other gunmen.

"Just like an army," he said.

On the verge of tears, his wife, who did not want to be named, sat in silence. "I know Jihad is a religious duty, but we need you. I need you and the children do, too," she said.

Abu Mohammed only smiled.

"Smile, smile, that's all I get whenever I ask," she said.

Nearly hit by Israeli missiles twice last week, Abu Mohammed said the fighting was "very tough" but added: "I am optimistic.

"In the end, Israel will have to agree to our terms. There is no alternative to returning all of our Palestine."
(Editing by Adam Entous and Kevin Liffey)

Lange-afstands raketten Gaza van Iraanse makelij

Dat Iran Hamas steunt met geld, wapens en training is op zichzelf geen nieuws, maar we lijken het graag te negeren. Daarom kunnen de grenzen niet open zonder zeer strenge grenscontroles, uiteraard niet (mede) uitgevoerd door Hamas, en daarom is Hamas meer dan een groepje lokale terroristen dat de wind uit de zeilen wordt genomen als de Gazanen het weer wat beter krijgen. 


Long-range rockets fired from Gaza are Iranian: Israel army
The Israeli army on Monday said that all the long-range rockets fired by Gaza militants against southern Israel during the latest round of violence were manufactured in arch-foe Iran.

Speaking to the parliament's powerful foreign affairs and defence committee, a senior military intelligence official said that over 20 Katyusha-type rockets, also known as Grad, were fired against Israel since last Thursday.

"We are talking about regular Iranian-made rockets," an official quoted the intelligence official as saying.

The 122-millimetre rockets have a range of about 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) and carry a large payload which caused heavy damage to buildings in the southern coastal town of Ashkelon, which bore the brunt of the Grad rocket fire.

Gaza militants have in recent years fired thousands of short-range makeshift rockets and mortars against southern Israel, but have only rarely fired the longer-range Grad-type rockets.

Israel believes that over 100 such rockets were smuggled into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip through its porous border with Egypt in recent months following the Hamas violent takeover of the territory, a security official has told AFP.

More than 116 Palestinians, including 22 children, were killed during the latest escalation of violence in Gaza which erupted last Wednesday and ended early Monday morning. Two Israeli soldiers and one Israeli civilian have also been killed.

Israel accuses Iran of actively backing and supplying arms to Hamas.

Mogelijk donderdag al hervatting vredesoverleg Abbas en Israël

Het lijkt erop dat Abbas bereid is de vredesbesprekingen weer te hervatten, nadat hij eerder als voorwaarde had gesteld dat Israël en Hamas een bestand sluiten. Dat laatste is vreemd, want zo'n bestand zou de positie van Hamas versterken en daarmee die van Abbas en Fatah verzwakken. Wat heeft Abbas er voor voordeel van als Hamas op die manier populariteit wint in Gaza, en ondertussen ongehinderd door Israël wapens kan smokkelen, fabriceren en zijn militie trainen? Of verwacht hij dat de Palestijnen in Gaza dit als zijn verdienste zullen beschouwen?
Of verwacht hij dat Hamas daar sowieso niet mee in zal stemmen - het is immers tegen de vredesonderhandelingen, en de raketten zijn onder andere bedoeld om die te dwarsbomen -, maar zo wel zijn positie als president van alle Palestijnen te versterken? Na een tijdje zou hij dan uiteraard 'overstag' gaan, liefst na een paar Israëlische toezeggingen.
Het blijft speculeren. Zal Abbas, als Israël de Gazastrook weer binnentrekt, opnieuw de vredesbesprekingen afbreken? Zal Israël zich hier veel van aantrekken? Is het geweld in de Gazastrook voor zowel Israël als Abbas wellicht een handig excuus, om de onderhandelingen over gevoelige zaken als Jeruzalem en de vluchtelingen nog even uit te kunnen stellen?

Jerusalem official: Peace talks may resume as early as Thursday
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent, and News Agencies
Last update - 22:00 05/03/2008

The stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians may resume as early as Thursday, a senior official in Jerusalem said Wednesday evening.

According to the official, a low-level meeting will be held Thursday while efforts to coordinate a meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will continue in the coming days.

A meeting will also be set up between chief negotiators Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and the top Palestinian advisor Ahmed Qureia.

Earlier Wednesday, Abbas agreed to resume peace talks with Israel, only hours after he conditioned talks on a cease-fire with Israel in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas announced his change of heart in a statement from his West Bank headquarters. "The peace process is a strategic choice and we have the intention of resuming the peace process."

Abbas suspended talks at the beginning of the week to protest an exceptionally deadly Israeli military assault in the Gaza Strip, where militants affiliated with the ruling Islamic Hamas movement have been pounding southern Israel with rockets.

In response, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum criticized Abbas' stance reversal, saying "Abu Mazen [Abbas] is a weak man, who couldn't protect the Palestinian people."

"America and Israel don't take him into account, but only use him as a tool to pass their plans on the Palestinians," he added.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also said Wednesday that the Palestinians and Israel plan to return to the negotiating table, concluding a brief troubleshooting mission to the region on a positive note.

Under pressure from Rice, Abbas backed down from his earlier truce demand, allowing her to announce that talks would resume, U.S. officials said.

"I've been informed by the parties that they intend to resume the negotiations and are in contact with one another as to how to bring this about," Rice said at a news conference in Jerusalem following a meeting with Livni.

Rice pointedly did not call for a truce and urged Hamas to halt its rocket fire. At the same time, she urged Israel to do its best to protect Palestinian civilians caught in the crossfire.

"There are enemies of peace that will always try to hold hostage the Palestinian cause and the future of the Palestinian people for their own state," she said." And Hamas, which in effect holds the people of Gaza hostage in their hands is now trying to make the path to a Palestinian state hostage to them. We cannot permit that to happen."

Abbas did not say when talks would resume, but Rice said that a U.S. general would come to the region next week to prod peacemaking along. A senior U.S. official said Rice had agreed to dispatch Lieutenant General William Fraser III as a gesture to the Palestinians, who hope for American pressure on Israel.

In January, U.S. President George W. Bush appointed Lt. Gen. William Fraser III to monitor both sides' compliance with the road map peace plan.

The plan's initial stage calls on Israel to stop settlement activity and obliges the Palestinians to clamp down on militants. Abbas, however, controls only the West Bank and has no influence over Gaza, which has been ruled by Hamas since a violent takeover in June.

Both sides, Rice said, need to carry out their road map obligations to have robust peace negotiations.

Rice said the Palestinian president would like to see an end to violence, but added: "This is not a condition."

Abbas had said earlier Wednesday that peace talks could not resume until Israel agrees to a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

"The negotiations must be started, but after the truce," Abbas said. "Once the truce is achieved the road will be open for negotiations."

He said Rice told him she would send an envoy to Egypt, which often mediates between Israel and Hamas. "There are real efforts being exerted by Egypt for the truce," Abbas said.

Although Abbas did not mention Hamas by name, his aides said the Islamic group must clearly be part of a deal. Hamas seized control of Gaza from Abbas' forces last year, and he wields little influence in the area.

The aides said Abbas has proposed a package in which Hamas halts its relentless rocket barrages on southern Israel if Israel ends its attacks on Palestinian militants and Egypt reopens its border with Gaza.

Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev declined to discuss the parameters of any possible deal but suggested Israel could be open to a cease-fire. "If they were not shooting at our civilian population, we would not have to respond," he said.

Also Wednesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Rice that Israel would not be deterred from conducting a major military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

"Israel is committed to the security of its citizens, and while we do not want a wide operation in the Gaza Strip, we will not be deterred from it," said Barak.

Rice met Palestinian negotiators Ahmed Qureia and Saeb Erekat in a final effort to convince the PA to resume negotiations, prior to her meetings with Barak and Livni.

73% Israëli's ontevreden met pogingen Qassams te stoppen, 21% wil met Hamas praten

Geen meerderheid dus voor onderhandelingen met Hamas volgens deze enquete maar slechts 20%, in tegenstelling tot een enquete gepubliceerd in Haaretz een paar weken geleden. De vraag is wat je onder 'onderhandelingen' verstaat. Er wordt achter de schermen indirect voortdurend onderhandeld met Hamas en Hezbollah over de ontvoerde soldaten, maar dat is natuurlijk wat anders dan met Hamas om de tafel zitten en een langdurig bestand overeenkomen. Er is overigens eerder overeen gekomen tijdelijk het vuren te staken, maar het kwam nooit tot een officieel bestand.
What's in a name? Uiteraard werden de Haaretz cijfers door de NRC en andere antizionisten aangehaald om te laten zien dat zelfs een meerderheid van de Israëli's voor praten met Hamas is en dit 'taboe' dus van tafel kan. Het 'taboe' wel, maar het probleem blijft dat Hamas de vernietiging van Israël voorstaat, en alleen een bestand zal sluiten waar het zelf voordeel van heeft. Oeps, dat vinden antizionisten natuurlijk niet erg.  

Channel 10: 73% dissatisfied with gov't attempts to stop Kassam fire Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

73 percent of Israelis are "dissatisfied" with the government's conduct in trying to stop the Kassam fire, a Channel 10 survey showed Wednesday.
44% of those surveyed said they supported a wide scale operation in Gaza, 20% favored pinpoint operations against terror cells and 21% said they would back negotiations with Hamas.

woensdag 5 maart 2008

Negen onmogelijke oplossingen voor het Gaza probleem (Bradley Burston)

Dit artikel somt de voor- en nadelen van iedere optie in de Gazastrook goed op. Maar ik mis een optie, en een nadeel bij nummers 7 en 9:
De Philadelphi Road, de grensstrook tussen Gaza en Egypte, tijdelijk herbezetten en een grote (gedeeltelijk ondergrondse) muur bouwen tegen de wapensmokkel. Pas bereid zijn weg te gaan als er een goede oplossing voor de wapensmokkel wordt gevonden, waarbij niet Hamas maar de Palestijnse Autoriteit, met hulp van de EU, de Palestijnse kant van de grens zal bewaken.
Bij de nummers 7 en 9 staat de wapensmokkel onterecht niet als nadeel vermeld. Hamas verbetert de Qassamraketten voortdurend, zodat zij steeds verder reiken en dodelijker zijn. De Katjoesja raketten die recentelijk op Askelon zijn afgevuurd zijn hoogstwaarschijnlijk via Rafah binnengesmokkeld toen de grens open was. Qassamraketten, die nu al een maximum bereik van 17 km hebben, zullen naar verwachting over een jaar ook Ashkelon kunnen treffen. De grenscontroles versoepelen en onbeperkte toevoer van brandstof en andere essentiële goederen zal de smokkel van onderdelen gemakkelijker maken, alsmede het bouwen van de raketten waarvoor het materiaal dan niet meer schaars zal zijn.


Nine immoral solutions for Gaza - a guide
By Bradley Burston - A Special Place in Hell - March 4, 2008

For a moral compass, Gaza is the North Pole. The needle spins so continually, and at such speed, that no reading is possible.

For Israelis, the quandary of Gaza is a powerful Rorshach of the role and the burdens of Israel, of mood and injury, of personal tragedy and official befuddlement, of social conscience, ethical outlook, and sense of history.

The Gaza Strip, unwanted by the world, unwanted by Israel, unwanted by the Arabs and even by many Palestinians, forlorn, violent, seething, unlivable, has become the great moral test for the Jewish people.

All it took was rockets.

Seven years of rockets. Rockets launched toward civilian populations, schools, a college, rockets that slammed through private homes, children's bedrooms in the blue collar Israeli town of Sderot. More than a thousand rockets a year for seven years, directed at kibbutzim which for decades had supported an end to occupation and the rise of a Palestinian state. Eight thousand rockets, fired when Israel had 25 settlements and 20,000 troops in the Gaza Strip, and when Israel expelled the settlers and withdrew its troops, rockets fired from the ruins of the settlements and former emplacements of the IDF.

For Palestinians, Gaza was a prison before the disengagement, and a maximum security lockup thereafter. For Palestinians, the end of Israeli rule and the subsequent rise of Hamas were a human rights tragedy turned human rights catastrophe. For Palestinians, there is no more work in Israel, no more work in Gaza, no more hope anywhere.

When Israel ended its operation in the Strip on Monday, a Hamas radio announcer declared victory, saying that despite all of the destruction and death, Hamas gunners were still hitting Sderot and Ashkelon and even Netivot. Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar addressed a rally to mark what he called Hamas' success in the Five Day War. Taking the trouble to thank the news media in general for its coverage of Palestinian casualties, Al Jazeera and Hamas' own Al Aqsa TV in particular, he told a cheering, chanting crowd, in effect: We showed them. The Israelis?ll think twice before invading ever again.

He's right. Israelis will think twice, and many times again. This is why: Hamas, with the direct or inadvertent cooperation of Hezbollah, Iran, the Islamic Jihad, Fatah fatcats, Fatah rebels, the Bush administration, and, of course, Israel itself, has created a situation in which every one of Israel's moral and strategic options is a bad one.

This is the test for Israel: There is no way to ace it, and there are countless ways to fail. Here are a few.

Choose your poison:

1. A massive IDF ground offensive.

Arguments in favor: There is no alternative but to use overwhelming if tactically directed force to root out terror groups which fire the rockets, and to break the back of the Hamas government and remove it from power.

Marshalled example: Operation Defensive Shield, 2002

Arguments against: The risk-benefit equation suggests that large numbers of Gaza non-combatants as well as Israeli forces would be killed and wounded, without truly material success in curbing Qassam and Katyusha attacks.

International outrage could cause Israel great political, economic, even strategic harm.

2. Reoccupy the Gaza Strip

Arguments in favor: Israel cannot abide a terrorist state less than an hour's drive from Tel Aviv. Hamas, if allowed to rule, will eventually take over the West Bank and, effectively, East Jerusalem as well. Even a large-scale IDF offensive, if only temporary, will leave the field open to rearmament and continued attacks.

Arguments against: Israel militarily occupied the Gaza Strip for nearly forty years, but was unable to prevent the manufacture and firing of Qassams. Qassam firing continued under Israeli occupation for more than three years until the disengagement in 2005. Finally, Israel lacks the will and the forces to occupy Gaza indefinitely.

3. Shell sources of rocket fire

Arguments in favor: Use of long-range artillery will save the lives of soldiers who would be out at risk in a ground offensive. If Israel puts Gazans on notice that artillery will immediately and consistently shell any area from which rockets are fired, they will either prevent Hamas gunners from using their homes and yards, or will flee before the firing begins.

Arguments against: Artillery has proven markedly inaccurate as retaliatory fire against small crews of armed men, often with disastrous consequences. Cases of innocent civilians killed in error, tragic in themselves, have in many cases also made it impossible for the IDF to continue to pursue its military targets.

4. Assassinate Hamas leaders

Arguments in favor: Assassinations of commanders and political leaders can paralyze the organization, sending leading figures underground, cutting lines of communication, interrupting chains of command, while at the same time causing less danger to Palestinian civilians and to IDF soldiers. When Israel assassinated Hamas founders Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abed Aziz Rantisi in 2004, threats os monumental retaliation never materialized, and the organization subsequently offered a limited truce.

Arguments against: Civilians are often killed by mistake in assassination attempts. Assassination is also a dangerous policy, as it invites counter-attempts, such as the murder of then-cabinet minister Rehavam Ze'evi in Jerusalem in 2001. Finally, it fails to address core concerns, and may cause deadly reprisals, as in the suicide bombings that killed 60 people in Israel after the 1996 assassination of Hamas bomb mastermind Yihye Ayyash.

5. Negotiate with Hamas

Arguments for: Hamas is not only the democratically elected ruler of Gaza, it also still enjoys broad, if somewhat dimished, popular support in the Strip. Because it trades on an ideology of martyrdom and steadfastness in the face of attack, it will be defeated neither by economic sanctions nor military confrontation. There is no alternative to talks toward a cease-fire, which Hamas has been proposing for years, holding out the offer of the return of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in an exchange for jailed Hamas men.

Arguments against: Negotiations would constitute a major victory for Hamas, and tacit Israeli recognition of the organization, further undermining the standing of Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and perhaps paving way for future Hamas control of the West Bank.

The Hamas charter continues to call explicitly for the violent destruction of the state of Israel, and any expansion of Hamas hegemony to the West Bank could put large swathes of central Israel, the bulk of Israel's population, in range of Katyusha-Grad rockets.

6. Tighten the economic siege over Gaza

Arguments for: How can a nation at war justify supplying its enemy with fuel, electricity, water, and even supplies which may be used for producing rockets and other armaments?

Arguments against: The people of Gaza as a whole should not be punished for the actions of a small number of armed men. Collective punishment, moreover, increases hatred toward Israel and will, in the end, persuade more youths to become terrorists.

7. Lift the economic siege over Gaza

Arguments in favor: Such a step could, if carried out in cooperation with Abbas and the PA, strengthen Abbas' hand. (Also see arguments against, numbers 6 and, if carried out in cooperation with Hamas, 5 above)

Arguments against: Such a step could bolster Hamas, whioch could list it as a strategic victory and an indication that its policies were correct all along.

8. Increase IDF operations in the West Bank

Arguments in favor: Israel must do everything it can to confront and contain Hamas in the West Bank, to keep it from taking over.

Arguments against: Such operations sap the limited sovereignty of Abbas and the PA, which has taken action of its own against Hamas in the West Bank. Such operations also cast Abbas in the role of collaborator with Israel, cutting his support among Palestinians.

9. Do nothing

Arguments for: This stance, which, while it may have adherents in practice, has no proponents.

Arguments against. Israel does not have the option of doing nothing. To do nothing is, in effect, a violation of the human rights of the people of Sderot and the western Negev, who are the targets of Hamas war crimes.

Ziekenhuis Ashkelon behandelt Palestijnse Babies tijdens Hamas bombardement

Ashkelon is eigenlijk een bizar doelwit voor de Palestijnse raketten. Hier wordt namelijk een groot deel van de electriciteit opgewekt die de Gazastrook van energie voorziet. Bovendien worden in het ziekenhuis van Ashkelon regelmatig Palestijnen uit de Gazastrook behandeld. Van je vijanden moet je het maar hebben...

Palestinian babies treated in hospital Ashkelon amidst of Hamas rockets 
Hospital's NICU
(Communicated by the Barzilai Medical Center Ashkelon's spokesperson)
3 Mar 2008

Last week, a Palestinian woman from Beit Lahia gave birth to twins at the Barzilai Medical Centre in Ashkelon. The twins, born prematurely, weighed less than 1.5 kgs each. They were admitted to the medical center's neonatal intensive care unit, where they were treated by the medical team.

The first Hamas missiles began raining down on Ashkelon on Saturday (1 March) shortly after 5 a.m. When the Hamas shelling of Ashkelon started, the twins, a boy and girl, were still in the NICU. One of the Grad rockets fell a mere 50 meters from the hospital entrance. All the premature babies in the NICU unit, including the two Palestinian babies, were transferred to the hospital's bomb shelter for fear that the hospital itself would receive a direct missile hit.

Ashkelon Hospital was established in 1961 and renamed the Barzilai Medical Center ten years later. The Medical Center currently has approximately 500 beds, and serves the area stretching from Ashdod in the north to Sderot in the south and Kiryat Gat in the east.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Hamas plaatst kinderen op daken als menselijk schild

Het gebruik van kinderen en vrouwen als menselijk schild is een bekende taktiek van Hamas. Vorig jaar had men vrouwen opgeroepen een woning te omsingelen waarin verschillende Hamas terroristen zich hadden verscholen.
Deze kinderen zijn waarschijnlijk niet om hun mening gevraagd, maar zij leren via de Pioniers van Morgen TV show al jong dat het een heilige plicht is om voor Allah en Palestina te sterven.
Men rekent erop dat Israël dan niet aanvalt, wat betekent men weet dat Israël moreel hoogstaande waarden hanteert en probeert burgerdoden te vermijden, of neemt voor lief dat Palestijnse kinderen gedood worden. Dit is uiteraard gerechtvaardigd want de internationale veroordelingen van Israël zijn goed voor de slachtofferstatus van de Palestijnen. Ondertussen beschuldigen Hamas en Abbas Israël ervan een genocide te hebben gepleegd in Gaza die erger is dan de Holocaust.
Hamas placed children on rooftops as human shields preventing Israeli attack on Qassam workshops and warehouses
Dr. Aaron Lerner
Date: 4 March 2008

Yediot Ahronot correspondent Itamar Eichner reports in today's edition that an officer in Israeli Military Intelligence revealed in a briefing by FM Livni to foreign ambassadors that "before the IDF attacks Qassam workshops or warehouses it distributes flyers asking the residents to evacuate the area.  But Hamas exploits the flyers and places small children on the rooftops in order to foil the attacks.   And thus because of this trick the IDF is forced to halt many such bombings at the last moment."

"We are working with our hands tied because of all these laws and because we are part of the free world and because this is part of our values," FM Livni said.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Hamas verslaan

Israël heeft inderdaad het recht om aan de raketbeschietingen van haar steden een einde te maken, en de eenzijdige veroordelingen van haar optreden versterken Hamas in plaats van een oplossing dichterbij te brengen. Het is echter niet altijd verstandig om een recht ook uit te oefenen. De harde veroordelingen van de internationale gemeenschap waren te verwachten, zeker gezien het grote aantal burgerslachtoffers. Het feit dat Hamas bewust vanuit dichtbevolkte gebieden raketten afschiet ontslaat het leger niet van de plicht zijn uiterste best te doen burgerslachtoffers te voorkomen.

De Grad raketten die Hamas op Ashkelon afvuurde zijn hoogstwaarschijnlijk met hulp van Iran en Syrië Gaza binnen gesmokkeld nadat Hamas de grensovergang met Egypte had opgeblazen. Als de internationale gemeenschap echt iets aan de oorzaken van het escalerende geweld wil doen, zou ze de wapensmokkel tegen moeten gaan, door waarnemers aan te bieden en Egypte en Hamas onder druk te zetten om respectievelijk harder op te treden tegen de wapensmokkel en internationale grenscontrole te accepteren.
Mar. 2, 2008

The fog of war is hardly new. But sometimes, in wars that involve Israel, it is not just the battlefield that becomes murky, but what the war is about. No matter how much the simple facts of this current conflict are ignored or willfully obscured, however, they must not be forgotten: Israel is fighting to stop the bombardment of its cities.
This is obvious to Israelis, but people watching elsewhere might have trouble discovering this. An Associated Press report on Saturday, for example, was headlined: "33 Palestinians killed in clashes." Only 23 paragraphs into the story was the reader informed that "Israel evacuated its troops and settlers from Gaza in late 2005, but militants proceeded to fire rockets from the abandoned territory. Militants raised the stakes significantly by firing Iranian-made rockets into Ashkelon, a coastal city of 120,000 people."
Also on Saturday, UNICEF cited UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's concern at civilian deaths in both Gaza and southern Israel, but in its own words mentioned only children in Gaza. "Children constitute more than half the population of Gaza and are bearing the brunt of the crisis. They are already suffering severely from a series of restrictions, including the blockade on most goods imposed since June 2007." To our knowledge, UNICEF, has never shown specific concern for the children of Sderot, who have borne the brunt of some 2,500 rockets that have hit their environs over past years, over 150 in the last few days alone.
Secretary Ban's February 27 statement was slightly better in that it "condemned" Hamas for "acts of terrorism" against Israel, but it also "condemned" Israel for "the killing of four Palestinian children, including an infant." The picture painted is that Israel is equally, or perhaps more, guilty of violating international law and morality than is Hamas. Nor is the UN, notoriously biased against Israel, the only party that seems to share this basic perspective. Even US Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, while backing "Israel's right to defend itself," urged Israel to act with "caution and proportionality" in a February 21 briefing. The EU Parliament was even less circumspect, claiming that the "policy of isolation of the Gaza Strip has failed at both the political and humanitarian level. The civilian population should be exempt from any military action and any collective punishment."
Why are we griping about what seems to be a standard Israeli image problem when we are already in a limited war that is poised to deepen into something much worse? The reason is that whether a full blown war is necessary and what its results would be are powerfully affected by the stance of the international community. In a very real sense, the lives of Israelis and Palestinians hang on the positions of countries that may sincerely want peace, but are now repeating mistakes that will likely feed an escalation of the war.
Whether the war escalates, after all, is largely in the hands of Hamas. It is Hamas that has stepped up the rocketing of Sderot, and added attacks against Ashkelon, a city that is six times more populous. Why is Hamas doing this?

Hamas has calculated that, since it does not care about and indeed cynically exploits the suffering of its own people, it has nothing to lose. The more it escalates, the more likely it will compel Israel to respond with greater force, the more Israel will be blamed for the inevitable collateral damage from its operations, and the more pressure there will be to negotiate with Hamas and reduce its isolation. In other words, the more Hamas attacks Israel, the better its chances for international acceptance.
Accordingly, if the international community, particularly the US, truly wants to prevent further escalation, it must break this cycle. Instead of looking for ways to "pay" Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to return to talks with Israel, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice must impose concrete costs on Hamas's aggression. This means greatly increasing the pressure on Egypt to stop the weapons flow into Gaza, and supporting Israel's right to respond with the necessary means, as any other state would, in order to defeat those responsible for the unprovoked terrorist attacks against her cities.
To the US, such a course of action may seem unwarranted in that it risks censure by Europe and trouble in the UN. The alternative, however, is encouraging a deepening war that will cost many lives, handing victories to militant Islamists, and even more surely burying the process that the US is trying to revive.

Ashkelon onder vuur - Scared in the shower

Sinds kort ligt niet alleen Sderot, maar ook het veel grotere Ashkelon onder vuur van Palestijnse raketten. Hoelang duurt het voor het Tel Aviv kunnen bereiken?

Scared in the shower
Ynet's Roni Sofer returned from PM Olmert's Japan trip to find his town under rocket fire
Roni Sofer
Saturday morning. It's 5:20 am. The explosion was clearly heard in the fortified room. The windows shake. The Grad rocket landed less than 600 meters away. A feeling of complete helplessness; the fear is paralyzing. Everything I experienced so far means nothing. Welcome to the Qassam roulette.

Exactly 24 hours earlier, the El Al plane returning Prime Minister Olmert from Japan lands in Ben-Gurion Airport. I am informed about a rocket attack on my hometown – Ashkelon. My heart skips a beat. Even before I have time to check that my family is ok, Olmert grabs hold of the microphone, and in a cheerful tone thanks his people, thanks the security personnel, and thanks us the journalists who accompanied him on this trip to Japan. His people, who are waiting for their suitcases, don't have any good news either. "The national security cabinet will be convened on Wednesday. We will consult and see what we do next," one of them tells me.

I leave the terminal to meet my partner, Racheli. "We're entering a new era. There is nobody out there who can stop the Grad rockets. We must protect our children on our own," I tell her, while my stomach turns with anxiety. I'm returning to a town facing war. "Now, it's a war for our home," I mutter to myself, holding my suitcase from Tokyo in one hand and weekend newspapers in the other hand as I stand in my driveway.

Saturday, 5:25 am. Good thing the jetlag woke me up an hour earlier. I heard the 'Color Red' alert and was quick to wake up everyone. I call my parents, who are awake. They heard one of the rockets hit. They are sitting in their fortified room and maintaining their cool. The relatives of one of my sisters go out of their own fortified room, and from their seventh floor balcony they can see their car on fire.

Hiding under the desk

We move on to the customary round of phone calls after the second Grad barrage, a bit before 9 am. This time too all is well, at least for us. The third barrage, around 4:30 pm on Saturday, catches me in the shower. I hear the "Color Red" alert as the water pours down. My partner has enough time to run into the fortified room while I grab for the towel, which turned into my shelter, as I had no chance to reach the room. A moment later, we could hear the explosion in the western end of town, 1,200 meters away from home.

My children call from their ski vacation in Bulgaria, to see that all is well. Friends from the north call, to offer us a room if we want. During the Lebanon war we invited them. Now they're inviting us; they're concerned. I need to calm them down, but mostly I need to calm myself down.

Sunday morning, my children returned from Bulgaria to the war in Ashkelon. My youngest child, 7-year-old Omri, went to his art school, where he will have to hide under the desk if a Grad comes. And it will come, I know that. Racheli's and my retired parents have not left the house, so they can stay close to the wall that may protect them, or not. And I headed to Jerusalem to cover the government session. Olmert, Barak, and Livni spoke about national needs, and about a smart war that must be managed from the head, not from the gut.

My head was busy listening to the voices of reason in Jerusalem, yet my stomach continued to turn in the face of the voices of anxiety emanating from my abandoned home in Ashkelon.