Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Israeli Self-Defense Affirms International Order

Clare M. Lopez (more by this author)
Posted 12/31/2008 ET

Under unrelenting pressure from the international community to relinquish land -- and strategic depth -- in vain pursuit of an elusive ‘Peace Process’, Israel has been following a ‘Road Map’ that has led it along a narrow path to the military action that it began last weekend in the Gaza Strip Israel’s end-of-the-year attacks on Hamas military headquarters, training camps, and weapons arsenals in the Gaza Strip are not the end of the path, but may have marked a turning point for Israel to change its goal from international approval to national survival. Israeli warplanes also bombed a complex of weapons smuggling tunnels under the border between Hamas-controlled Gaza and Egypt. Howls of protest erupted as if on cue across the Arab and Muslim world. In London, police were rushed to the Israeli Embassy to deal with hundreds of demonstrators who doubtless took encouragement from the craven response of UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who urged an ‘immediate halt to all violence’ in Gaza. The UK government did not comment on violence emanating from Gaza.

In some ways, Israel is a country like no other: it is the modern resurrection of an ethnic, national, and religious entity that traces its unique identity back some 5,000 years. Its 20th century establishment as a sovereign state in its ancestral homeland owes to an act of international will -- but few in that community have shown much will to defend their decision since. Israel is literally a creation of the United Nations which has spent the years since avoiding every opportunity to defend -- even verbally -- its own invention.

In other ways, though, Israel is very much a state like any other small state surrounded by much bigger enemies bent on its destruction. Stubborn self-delusion about the ultimate reasonableness of those enemies, for Israel, is tantamount to suicidal conduct. The improbable, even miraculous, success of the Jewish people who founded and defended the fledgling State of Israel to this point must not be mistaken for invulnerability or even destiny. That way lies defeat and extinction.

Having been the victims for centuries of dhimmitude, pogroms, and genocide, the Jewish people understandably shrink from making victims of others. Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, at great national cost, was intended to offer Palestinians a chance to demonstrate readiness for nationhood of their own. As the world looked on with apparent disinterest, however, Palestinian thugs quickly and methodically trashed all the valuable infrastructure Israelis had left behind and Hamas then staged a bloody coup d’etat against its ostensible Palestinian Authority partners. Hardly content with destruction of its own society, in the three years since 2005, Hamas and its Jihadist partners also have launched more than 6,300 rockets and mortars into Israel from Gaza, killing 10 civilians and injuring more than 780. Each and every one of those launches was an act of war.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) counter-strike against the Hamas war-making machine in Gaza is justified national self-defense under international law. It is also an act that makes sense in the context of the perpetual state of war that has existed between Israel and its Jihadist enemies since the very day of its foundation. For the national leadership of Israel, there is an obligation to wage war against those who would obliterate the country and its Jewish inhabitants. The Genocide Convention of 1951 outlaws not only the act of national, ethical, racial, or religious extinction but also the threat and use of violence (albeit incremental) to do so. By signaling its intent to defend itself, Israel gives notice that it is not, in fact, suicidal nor so fearful of death and dismemberment that it is willing to accede to…death and dismemberment.

Israel, which is a Western-style democracy based on concepts derived from Athens and Rome as well as Jerusalem, must resist the inclination to believe that actions it perceives as rational, reasonable, and conciliatory are universally so perceived. Clearly, the civic and philosophical foundations of such thinking are not shared by Hamas, its state sponsor Iran, or any of Israel’s other Jihadist enemies. In the final analysis, it’s irrelevant what Israel (or its shrinking ranks of friends and allies) believe reasonable: it’s what its enemies perceive as the strength of Israeli national resolve to exist that matters.

If those enemies perceive Israeli unwillingness to cause victims in the exercise of self-defense as cowardice or weakness instead of moral restraint, then the primary responsibility of Israel’s leaders -- to ensure national survival and security -- is abrogated.

For all these reasons, then, the Israeli attacks in Gaza are not aggression. Failure to respond to the unceasing barrage of deadly missiles raining down on Israeli homes and schools would in fact be irresponsibly dangerous for both Israeli citizens and the very concept of national sovereignty. Selective, targeted use of military force against enemy attacks on civilian populations is an obligatory affirmation of the international order. In the face of condemnation from around the world for its actions against Gaza jihadis, Israel finds itself in the incongruous position of actually defending the right of sovereign states everywhere to stand up to aggression and the Islamist Jihad’s ideology of religious supremacy. The use of military power to defeat the forces of barbarism affirms the right of all to live in civilized peace.

Ms. Lopez is the Vice President of the Intelligence Summit and a professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies.
Thanks Gen. Vallely

Israel, Hamas, and Moral Idiocy

Much of the world's response is a false moral equivalence that simply encourages the terrorists.

By Alan M. Dershowitz,
from the December 31, 2008 edition

Cambridge, Mass. - Israel's decision to take military action against Hamas rocket attacks targeting its civilian population has been long in coming. I vividly recall a visit my wife and I took to the Israeli city of Sderot on March 20 of this year. Over the past four years, Palestinian terrorists, in particular, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have fired more than 2,000 rockets at this civilian area, which is home to mostly poor and working-class people. The rockets are designed exclusively to maximize civilian deaths, and some have barely missed schoolyards, kindergartens, hospitals, and school buses. But others hit their targets, killing more than a dozen civilians since 2001, including in February 2008 a father of four who had been studying at the local university. These anti-civilian rockets have also injured and traumatized countless children.

The residents of Sderot were demanding that their nation take action to protect them. But Israel's post-occupation military options were limited, since Hamas deliberately fires its deadly rockets from densely populated urban areas, and the Israeli army has a strict policy of trying to avoid civilian casualties.

The firing of rockets at civilians from densely populated civilian areas is the newest tactic in the war between terrorists who love death and democracies that love life. The terrorists have learned how to exploit the morality of democracies against those who do not want to kill civilians, even enemy civilians.

The attacks on Israeli citizens have little to do with what Israel does or does not do. They have everything to do with an ideology that despises . and openly seeks to destroy the Jewish state. Consider that rocket attacks increased substantially after Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005, and they accelerated further after Hamas seized control last year.

In the past months, a shaky cease-fire, organized by Egypt, was in effect. Hamas agreed to stop the rockets and Israel agreed to stop taking military action against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip. The cease-fire itself was morally dubious and legally asymmetrical.

Israel, in effect, was saying to Hamas: If you stop engaging in the war crime of targeting our innocent civilians, we will stop engaging in the entirely lawful military acts of targeting your terrorists. Under the cease-fire, Israel reserved the right to engage in self-defense actions such as attacking terrorists who were in the course of firing rockets at its civilians.

Just before the hostilities began, Israel reopened a checkpoint to allow humanitarian aid to reenter Gaza. It had closed the point of entry after it had been targeted by Gazan rockets. Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, also issued a stern, final warning to Hamas that unless it stopped the rockets, there would be a full-scale military response. The Hamas rockets continued and Israel kept its word, implementing a carefully prepared targeted air attack against Hamas targets.

On Sunday, I spoke to the air force general, now retired, who worked on the planning of the attack. He told me of the intelligence and planning that had gone into preparing for the contingency that the military option might become necessary. The Israeli air force had pinpointed with precision the exact locations of Hamas structures in an effort to minimize civilian casualties.

Even Hamas sources have acknowledged that the vast majority of those killed have been Hamas terrorists, though some civilian casualties are inevitable when, as BBC's Rushdi Abou Alouf, who is certainly not pro-Israel, reported, "The Hamas security compounds are in the middle of the city." Indeed, his home balcony was just 20 meters away from a compound he saw bombed.

There have been three types of international response to the Israeli military actions against the Hamas rockets. Not surprisingly, Iran, Hamas, and other knee-jerk Israeli-bashers have argued that the Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli civilians are entirely legitimate and that the Israeli counterattacks are war crimes.

Equally unsurprising is the response of the United Nations, the European Union, Russia, and others who, at least when it comes to Israel, see a moral and legal equivalence between terrorists who target civilians and a democracy that responds by targeting the terrorists.

And finally, there is the United States and a few other nations that place the blame squarely on Hamas for its unlawful and immoral policy of using its own civilians as human shields, behind whom they fire rockets at Israeli civilians.
The most dangerous of the three responses is not the Iranian-Hamas absurdity, which is largely ignored by thinking and moral people, but the United Nations and European Union response, which equates the willful murder of civilians with legitimate self-defense pursuant to Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

This false moral equivalence only encourages terrorists to persist in their unlawful actions against civilians. The US has it exactly right by placing the blame on Hamas, while urging Israel to do everything possible to minimize civilian casualties.

Thanks Generql Vallely

Suspected operative for al-Qaida held at center in El Paso

Diana Washington Valdez / El Paso Times

EL PASO -- A Lebanese man who was part of a complex federal investigation into a suspected U.S. terrorist network with ties to al-Qaida is in custody at the El Paso immigration detention center facing deportation, officials have confirmed.

According to court documents, Mohamad Kamal Elzahabi, 44, told the FBI he was a freedom fighter in 1988 and 1989 against the Soviets in Afghanistan, where he also attended a jihad military training camp, provided small-arms instruction and was a sniper. Elaine Komis, spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Immigration Review in Falls Church, Va., said her office could not discuss anything about the case due to a "non-disclosure order" by the Department of Justice. She said that the Department of Homeland Security initiated the case, and that it's now up to the Justice Department to decide Elzahabi's immigration status.

Adelina Pruneda, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, in San Antonio, said Elzahabi is being held at the El Paso federal detention center. No other details, including his hearing date and name of his new lawyer, will be released as long as the non-disclosure order is in effect.

Elzahabi caught the attention of authorities in Canada, Minnesota, New York and Massachusetts, who learned he and three other men fought in Afghanistan and all became cab drivers in Boston. Elzahabi has continually denied he was part of a sleeper cell or terrorist group.

A sleeper cell is a group of covert operatives inside a target population that is dormant until members receive orders to act.

"Elzahabi (alias Abu Kamal al Lubnani) stated that he was a Lebanese national who entered the United States in 1984 on a student visa. (He) admitted that he thereafter paid a woman in Houston, Texas, to enter into a marriage with him and help him obtain legal permanent resident alien status," according to a federal complaint filed in Minnesota.

The federal complaint also states Elzahabi decided to travel to Afghanistan in 1988 after he attended a religious conference in the U.S. Midwest. Elzahabi said that while in Afghan istan, "he knew Musab al Zarqawi, Raed Hijazi and Bassam Kanji, aka Abu Aisha, (and) identified photographs of each of these persons."

The document further states he told agents of "knowing of Khalid Sheik Muhammad," who U.S. authorities later said had masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.

The others mentioned in the documents:

· Musab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian al-Qaida associate accused of directing terrorist attacks against U.S. and coalition members in Iraq. He was killed by U.S. forces in 2006 during an air raid in Iraq.

· Raed Hijazi, born in California, who was convicted in Jordan for his part in the failed "Millennium" bombing plot that targeted American and Israeli tourists in that country. He was sentenced to death and has appealed.

· Bassam Kanj, who was killed by Lebanese soldiers in 2000 while leading an attempted violent coup that sought to replace the Lebanese government with a fundamentalist Islamic state.

Elzahabi also told U.S. federal agents that he returned to Afghanistan in in 1991 and remained there until 1995. He also admitted acting as a combat sniper and being a small-arms instructor for jihadists at the Khalden training camp in eastern Afghan istan.

Military officials said the camp near Tora Bora, where Osama bin Laden was thought to have hidden, was used by al-Qaida to train terrorists. Hoping to strike bin Laden, U.S. forces bombed the camp.

The complaint also states Elzahabi admitted knowing Abu Zubaida, a senior al- Qaida associate.

Elzahabi told FBI agents he traveled to Lebanon and Chechnya and returned to the United States in 1995 "because he was in need of medical care after suffering an abdominal gunshot wound in combat," records state.

Elzahabi and his brother operated an axle-repair business in New York from 1995 to 1997 before he moved to Boston, where he worked as a cab driver "and he again associated with Raed Hijazi and Basam Kanj," who were employed by the same cab company.

The 2004 complaint signed by FBI Special Agent Kiann Vendenover alleges Elzahabi lied about not knowing the contents of packages he helped ship from his axle business to Pakistan and other countries -- packages that contained radios and other communications equipment.

The FBI also alleged he lied about helping Hijazi obtain a Massachusetts driver's license, and about letting him use Elzahabi's U.S. address for that purpose.

Elzahabi, who has been in custody since May 2004, was convicted last year by a Minnesota court of possessing fraudulent immigration documents based on his marriage to a dancer who worked at the Pink Pussy Cat Club in Houston (he and the dancer had divorced in 1988). He was sentenced to time served and two years of supervised release.

After the trial, the Department of Homeland Security turned him over to the Department of Justice for deportation proceedings.

Diana Washington Valdez may be reached at; 546-6140.

The Gaza War: Is it All So Hard to Understand?*

Barry Rubin
December 31, 2008

But why, more than one reporter from highly reputable publications has asked me, is Israel attacking Gaza now? At first, I was astonished: because Hamas cancelled the ceasefire and started massive rocket firings at Israel.

No, they responded, as if I had said something rude. Isn’t it the election, or an attempt to stop the tunnels, or this or that reason?. Absolutely not, I say, it’s like Pearl Harbor, or September 11. If someone announces they are going to go to war with you and then does it, you retaliate and fight.

At that point, the reporters seem to lose interest and bring the interview to an end, as if clearly a person who can say such things is not going to provide any rational analysis. Yet if one cannot even understand this most basic fact, what comprehension can there be of this issue or, indeed, of Middle East politics in general.

There are reasons, however, for this response. Large elements in the West find it very hard to “get,” that is to understand, Hamas or the Palestinians in general—or, for that matter,? Islamists in general, or Arabs in general, or Muslims in general--albeit with all the many variations and exceptions.

1. The problem with pragmatism:

Today, people ask, why didn’t the Jews of Poland understand the Nazis were going to wipe them out, at least in the earlier period when escape or revolt was more possible? According to contemporary and later eyewitness testimony because they didn’t think Germans would act in such an unpragmatic manner.

After all hundreds of thousands of Jews were involuntarily contributing to the German war effort. They were making clothes, repairing roads, growing food. Why should the Third Reich destroy a highly effective, very cheap, and low-problem labor force, thus crippling itself and helping to ensure that it lost the war?

Answer: ideology. A doctrine and belief system will make people act in a way that doesn’t fit pragmatic expectations. Why should Hamas start a war against a stronger power? Due to believing itself to be stronger and needs to mobilize mass support. Why should Palestinian leaders reject a state even if it means the end of an increasingly small degree of “occupation”? Due to belief that total victory is inevitable, that compromise is treason, and that their enemies are satanic.
2. The solvency of solutions:

The other big question asked is: what is the solution? How can, as some say, peace be attained; how can Israel, others say, eliminate Hamas? The presumption is that the first or the second is easy, or at least possible.

Answer: Wrong. This is the Middle East we don’t do solutions. Hamas is not going to disappear, nor will it be moderate. Israel, for good reasons, has no interest in occupying the Gaza Strip. Fatah is incapable of retaking control there.

This situation will go on and probably most likely end in some new ceasefire. Hamas will break the ceasefire a bit every week, and smash it altogether every six to eighteen months, repeating the current situation. That isn’t the ideal outcome but it is by far the most likely one.
3. The unbearable lightness of gratitude:

No matter how much diplomatic aid, sympathy, or money the West gives Hamas—and it has saved Hamas and the PLO over and over from their own mistakes—they will not become grateful or pro-Western. Anti-Western and anti-American sentiment is too valuable and too widespread to disappear. The Palestinians—and Iran’s regime, and Syria’s government, and Hizballah, and other Islamists—need scapegoats. Who else are they going to blame for their problems, themselves?

If you save the terrorists today, they will commit more terrorism tomorrow. If you let them escape the consequences of their own extremism, you can guarantee they will stay extremist and take a lot of the masses with them.
4. The reality of reality:

In some ways, the most important—or at least second most important—thing to happen in the Middle East this week is that Hizballah leader Hasan Nasrallah went too far, calling for the overthrow of Egypt’s government.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit responded, “They have actually declared war on Egypt….” And when he says “they” he means Iran, Syria, Hizballah, and Hamas. The Saudis and Gulf Arabs are also drawing lines deeper than ever before. Publicly and loudly, they look at Gaza, and see Arabs and Muslims, and criticize Israel. More softly in public and loudly in private they look at Gaza and see the Iranian axis.

This is the Middle East of 2008 and not of 1958, 1968, 1978, 1988, or 1998. The Palestinian issue has little effect on any other issue. The real conflict is Iran-Syria against Egypt-Saudi Arabia. Islamists are seeking to conquer the region from Arab nationalists. Radical groups are not interested in happy homelands but jihad and genocide.

And so the issue is not why Israel is attacking Hamas in Gaza now, but why Hamas in Gaza is attacking Israel now.

Note: This article was written for Pajamas Media.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).

Operation Cast Lead: Information and Statistics – No. 2

Firing directed at the home front
Since the beginning of the IDF action in the Gaza Strip, 90 rockets and 45 mortars have fallen in Israel’s territory (most of the firing comes from the edge of the built-up areas in the Strip). As a result, two Israeli civilians (who were in open areas) were killed, 22 were wounded and 66 are suffering from severe anxiety. Incoming Fire since the Beginning of Cast Lead
Mortars Grads Qassams
Today, over 700,000 Israeli residents are under immediate threat due to the 40-km range of the rocket fire out of the Gaza Strip. All the schools and kindergartens within a 20-km range of the Strip are still closed.
Support of the home front: A Home Front Command Local Authority Liaison Unit (LALU) has been assigned to each city and local authority, headed by a officer ranking lieutenant colonel or colonel, whose job is to assist the authority. Additional communities have also been linked to the “Color Red” system (up to 30-km range) and communities up to a 40-km range have been hooked up to the siren.
The activities of our forces
Continued firing efforts – Targets attacked by the IDF include the Hamas terrorist operatives that were acting out of the organization’s command posts, headquarters, training camps and munitions warehouses.

Over the past 24-hour period, 109 sorties were carried out, striking 91 Hamas targets and destroying some 40 arms-smuggling tunnels along the Philadelphi Route. Among the targets hit were the office of Hamas government head Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City, Hamas’ ministry of the interior, and munitions warehouses. Air Force planes also blasted a site for the production of means of warfare, and a weaponry R&D center that was located inside a building belonging to the Islamic University of Gaza. The building is an integral part of the system for developing and manufacturing various means of warfare and Qassam rockets. In addition, Israeli Navy forces attacked a number of targets in the Gaza Strip, including ships and Hamas posts. The forces reported accurate hits on their targets.
מדור אסטרטגיה 6352

A total of 250 sorties have been carried out since the beginning of the operation, striking over 400 Hamas targets (137 of them hit in the past 24 hours).
מדור אסטרטגיה 6352

We estimate 320 Palestinians killed, the overwhelming majority of them recognized as uniform-wearing terrorist operatives, and about 50 of them bystanders.
Humanitarian efforts
To prevent a humanitarian crisis, 23 supply trucks carrying flour, cooking gas, medicine and medical equipment were allowed to pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Today, 38 additional trucks with humanitarian aid and 10 ambulances are expected to cross into the Gaza Strip. The Kerem Shalom crossing will remain open until the trucks have crossed, and the Erez crossing will be open for cases of medical emergency. This comes to approximately 60 trucks of humanitarian aid in all since the beginning of the Cast Lead operation.
During the period of calm (June 16-Dec. 19), 17,000 humanitarian aid trucks entered the Strip, as opposed to 9,000 trucks last year (June-Dec.).
At your service for any questions,
Lieutenant-Colonel Tami Galil, 057-8186651.

How To Answer Israel's Critics‏

Six cliches you are likely to hear constantly in the coming days, and why they're false
Yigal Walt

1) "Israel's response in Gaza is disproportionate"

Since when is war a mathematical equation? The basic objective of any warring party is to inflict maximal damage on the enemy while minimizing its own casualties. Was there anything proportional about the US war in Iraq? Or about Iraq's invasion of Kuwait for that matter? Or about Russia's recent war against Georgia? Israel is doing exactly what any other country has done in the past. This is how war works.

Would a British citizen complain that "too few" British soldiers are being killed in Iraq? Probably not.

And on a more elementary note: Palestinian military inferiority is not an indication of moral superiority. Palestinian insistence on resorting to violence despite this military weakness is an indication of poor judgment perhaps - yet it is by no means an indication of moral virtue. Being militarily weak does not make the Palestinians right. 2) "But Qassams don't kill"

Actually, Qassams do kill. Not too often, perhaps, but dozens of Israelis were killed and wounded by rocket fire in recent years. Moreover, at this time the Palestinians are firing long-range Grad rockets with even greater explosive power. Such rockets killed 2 Israelis Monday.

Yet beyond the casualty figures, the psychological damage caused as result of living under an ongoing rocket threat is immeasurable. Would anyone in the West agree to have their family live under constant rocket attacks and be regularly woken up by sirens in the middle of the night? Would anyone living under such conditions appreciate being told that "these rockets don't kill?" Probably not.

3) "It's all because of Israel's siege. Israel should allow aid into Gaza."

Israel has allowed goods into Gaza regularly throughout the "siege". Palestinians have been able to complement these deliveries with supplies smuggled through hundreds of tunnels (of course, they would likely be able to bring in even more food had they not used the tunnels to smuggle in missiles.).

The day before operation "Cast Lead" got underway, Israel allowed dozens of trucks carrying aid to enter the Strip. On Tuesday, another 100 trucks - double the normal number -are expected to enter Gaza after Defense Minister Barak approved the move.

In short, Israel is allowing aid into the Strip (but guess who has kept Gaza crossings mostly closed thus far? That's right, Egypt.)

4) "Why didn't Israel just agree to renew the Gaza truce?"

First, what truce? Terror groups continued to fire rockets throughout the lull, even if somewhat infrequently, and even if the world didn't seem to care too much. Nonetheless, Israel clearly declared that it is interested in extending the truce. Our top officials made it clear time and again.

Yet Hamas leaders clearly declared that the truce has ended on December 19th, and proceeded to bombard southern Israeli communities with dozens of rockets daily. In short, it is no wonder that even the Egyptians are blaming Hamas this time.

5) "But Hamas was elected democratically - why can't Israel accept it?"

Although Hamas won the Palestinian elections, it took Gaza by force, in the process hurling rival Fatah members down to their death from high-rises and shooting others in the knees with the declared aim of maiming them. Some democracy.

In any case, Israel in fact "recognizes," de facto, Hamas' rule in Gaza, which is precisely why it is justified in attacking the Hamas-ruled Strip, recognizing that it is indeed being governed by a terror entity. Israel did not launch the operation because Hamas is in power there - rather, it did so because Hamas is a terrorist organization that has deliberately targeted civilians with thousands of rockets over the past 8 years.

6) "Israel is targeting civilians"

You mean to say that "one of the most powerful armies in the world" has been bombing Gaza for days, deploying massive air power, dropping hundreds of bombs, and ultimately killing a grand total of 50 civilians or so in the "most crowded place on earth?"

There are two options here: A) The Israeli army is not targeting civilians, or B) Israeli pilots suck. We tend to go with option A.

Indeed, Israel goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties, by deploying precise ammunition and specialized techniques. In fact, nobody in the world does this better than the Jewish State.

Arab Leaders, Civilians Blame Hamas for Gaza Violence

As Israel carries out "Operation Cast Lead" to stop Iran-backed Hamas in Gaza from continuing to attack Israeli civilians with thousands of rockets, missiles and mortars, Arab leaders such as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have blamed Hamas for the violence in Gaza. . Abbas and Mubarak, among others, said maintaining the truce could have helped the Palestinians avoid the Israeli raids and that Hamas is fully responsible for the situation.
Palestinian Authority Leaders and Gaza Civilians

On Dec. 28, 2008, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Iran-backed Hamas could have avoided the Israeli attacks on Gaza and blamed the group for Israel taking action to stop the attacks by Hamas in Gaza: “We talked to them and we told them ‘please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the truce continue and not stop’ so that we could have avoided what happened.” [2] Abbas further stated that the priority was to restore the truce. [3]

* A Palestinian girl in Gaza whose family members died in Gaza Dec. 28 in an Israeli air attack held Hamas responsible. "I say Hamas is the cause, in the first place, of all wars,” the girl told Palestinian TV. [4]

* A Palestinian journalist in Gaza said members of the Palestinian media are ‘directing’ civilians to cry and telling them what to say in interviews: "A mother of one of the martyrs stood by the door of the intensive care unit while crying... relatives and those around her were telling her what she should say to the television cameras: 'Say your son [before he died] prayed and went out.' Another tells her: 'Curse the Arab leaders'... The journalists [in the hospitals] are going overboard in their insensitivity and taking advantage of the [difficult] moments, with the explanation that they are showing this to the world. One cameraman told a mourning mother: 'Hit your face, cry, do some action.'" [5]


Abbas also blamed Hamas for disrupting national unity talks that could have paved the way for general and presidential elections. While visiting Cairo to discuss Egyptian and Arab League efforts to put an end to the violence in Gaza, Abbas said: “We have warned of this grave danger.” [6]

Nimr Hammad, an advisor to Abbas, said: “The one responsible for the massacre is Hamas […].” He called upon Hamas's leaders to stop carrying out “operations, which reflect recklessness, such as the firing of missiles.” [7]

Hafez Al-Barghouthi, editor of the PLO daily al-Hayat al-Jadida criticized Hamas for not prolonging the 'tahdiah' - Arabic for 'calm': “Prolonging the tahdiah was a supreme national interest. Why hasn’t [Hamas] prevented the aggression and the massacre? How many times have we written and Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) has declared that these missiles [that Hamas is firing at Israel] as ineffective and contrary to the supreme national interest […].” [8]

Egypt and Jordan

* On Dec. 23, 2008, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. Both leaders strongly criticized Hamas and held the movement responsible for the current violence in Gaza. The two leaders agreed that the rocket attacks on Israel were a “mistake” and said Hamas was responsible for the ongoing suffering of the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. [9]

* A PA official quoted Mubarak: “President Mubarak is very angry with Hamas. The Egyptians see Hamas as a threat to stability in the region.” [10]

* Egypt, which has taken on the role of mediator between Israel and the Palestinians as well as between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah faction, has been criticized for coordinating with Israel to close the border between Gaza and Egypt. [11] On Dec. 27, Egypt opened the Rafah crossing to receive wounded Palestinians but Hamas called on Egypt to open its border with Gaza forever and for all residents, not just the wounded. [12]

* Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu al-Gheit said Egypt has warned Hamas that Israel would initiate operations against Hamas unless Hamas stops its Qassam rocket attacks. He added that those who did not heed the warning “should bear the responsibility." He further said Egypt had predicted Israel's response to the attacks “because Hamas did not stop firing rockets into Israel.” [13]

* Al-Gheit said Hamas was not allowing wounded Palestinians to cross the border into Egypt for treatment: “We are waiting for the wounded Palestinians to cross. They are not being allowed to cross.” Asked who was to blame, he refered to Gaza by saying, “Ask the party in control on the ground in Gaza.” [14]

* Egypt and other Western-allied Sunni Arab states are opposed to the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hizballah, as they see both groups as extensions of Shiite Iran. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the silence of some Arab countries and said: “Worse than this catastrophe is the encouraging silence of some Arab countries who claim to be Muslim,” apparently in a reference to Egypt and Jordan. [15] Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab states recognizing Israel’s independence and which have diplomatic relations with it. [16]

Arab nations’ summit

* Arab foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in Cairo on Jan. 2, 2009 under the auspices of the Arab League to “formulate the Arab position to deal with Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip,” Arab League Chairman Amr Moussa said on Dec. 27, 2008. At the upcoming meeting, “some will call on Egypt and Jordan to cut diplomatic relations with Israel,” said Abdel Monem Said Ali of the Cairo-based Al-Ahram Center for Strategic and Political Studies. [17]



[1] staff; Selig, Abe, "Widening range, rockets strike Beersheba kindergarten," The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 30, 2008,; "International call for Gaza truce," BBC News

[2] Shahine, Alaa: "Palestinians could have avoided Gaza raids – Abbas,“ Reuters, Dec. 28, 2008,

[3] "Abbas blames Hamas for failing to avert violence,“ Reuters, Dec. 28, 2008,

[4] "A Palestinian girl whose family members were killed yesterday in Gaza," Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin, Dec. 2008,

[5] Ibid.

[6] "Abbas blames Hamas for Gaza bloodshed,“ The Nation, Dec. 28, 2008,
[7] "PLO and Fatah Officials: Hamas is Responsible for the Deaths of Its People,“ MEMRI, Dec. 29, 2008,
[8] Ibid.

[9] Abu Toameh, Khaled; Katz, Yaakov, "Abbas: Egypt to push new Gaza truce,“ The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 24, 2008,

[10] Ibid.

[11] "Across Mideast, thousands protest Israeli assault,“ The Associated Press, Dec. 28, 2008,

[12] "Egyptian border under pressure as Israeli raids on Gaza continues,“ Xinhua, Dec. 28, 2008,

[13] "Egypt lays blame on Hamas,“ iReport, Dec. 28, 2008,

[14] Shahine, Alaa, "Egypt: Hamas denying Gaza wounded treatment in Egypt,“ Reuters, Dec. 28, 2008,

[15] El-Khodary, Taghreed; Kershner, Isabel, "Israeli Troops Mass Along Border; Arab Anger Rises,“ The New York Times, Dec. 28, 2008,

[16] Abilov, Shamkhal, "Israel Air Strike Against Gaza and Reaction of Arab World,“ The Journal of Turkish Weekly, Dec. 29, 2008,

[17] Gazzar, Brenda, "Egypt: Hizbullah declared war on us,“ The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 28, 2008,

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Israeli raids deepen inter-Arab rift

Jonathan Wright
Egyptian Gazette

Deadly raid: An injured Palestinian prisoner reaching for help after being trapped in the rubble of the central security headquarters and prison, known as the Saraya, after it was hit in an Israeli missile strike, in Gaza City.

Deadly Israeli raids on Gaza have deepened the divide in the Arab world between Islamists with popular appeal and governments widely seen as collaborating with Israel and the US.Especially in Egypt the battle lines are clearer than ever, as members of the ruling party give Egypt's own Islamists, allies of the Palestinian movement Hamas, advice along the lines of "If you don't like it in Egypt, you can go to Gaza".Hussein Megawir, a pro-government Egyptian member of parliament, said in a debate on Gaza on Saturday: "There is an Iranian plan, with Hamas and some of the (Muslim) Brotherhood, to stir up trouble in Palestine and Egypt."The Muslim Brotherhood, the country's banned-yet-influential group with one fifth of the seats in parliament, is in close alliance with Hamas, which began as a Brotherhood offshoot.In its turn, the Brotherhood says Arabs and Muslims should rise up against "the despicable silence and connivance on the part of most Arab and Islamic regimes and governments".In public statements on the Israeli raids, the Egyptian Government and its Palestinian allies in the Fatah movement have come close to saying that Hamas is mainly to blame for the deadly raids.Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said on Saturday that Egypt sent warnings about the possibility of an Israeli offensive and those who ignored the warnings were responsible for the consequences, reported Reuters.In Cairo on Sunday, Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas echoed the theme."We talked to them (Hamas) and we told them 'please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the truce continue and not stop' so that we could have avoided what happened," he said.Egyptian political commentator Hassan Nafaa, writing in the independent Al-Masry Al-Youm, said: "Hamas looks like the common enemy of Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority."In contrast with the conservative Arabs blaming Hamas, in many parts of the Arab world demonstrators and others have criticised Arab governments for passivity towards the raids.Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, who likes to play the role of conscience of the Arab nation, joined in the criticism of Arab leaders on Sunday."These characters should be ashamed of themselves. They are trading on the name of the Palestinian cause with their cowardly, weak and defeatist stands," he said.At a protest in Baghdad, Palestinian Ambassador Galil al-Qasus said: "We were waiting for action from the Arab leaders, but now we do not want anything from them...We appealed to Arab leaders for almost 60 years, but all these efforts were in vain."Protesters and opposition groups have demanded that Egypt and Jordan break off relations with the Jewish state and that Egypt throw open its border with Gaza, ending the Israeli blockade imposed on the coastal strip for much of the time since Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006.The two Arab camps split along much the same lines as they have for the past few years - the governments of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority on one side, Hamas, Syria, the Lebanese movement Hizbollah and a wide range of Islamists, leftists and Arab nationalists on the other.Iran, non-Arab and Shi'ite Muslim, lurks on the sidelines as an ally of those who favour resistance to Israel and US plans.The same alliances took sides on the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah in 2006. Analysts said the Arab conservatives initially hoped that conflict would damage Hizbollah, but soon changed tack when the Israeli army failed to deliver a quick victory and Hizbollah proved it could survive.The Arab League has already postponed a ministerial meeting to take a common position on the crisis in Gaza until tomorrow, and a proposal to hold an Arab summit is meeting some resistance, diplomats said.Judging by past summits, Arab heads of state are unlikely to fulfil popular aspirations, especially if that would bring them into conflict with Israel and Washington.

asrallah and War on Egypt

Tariq Alhomayed
Asharq Alawsat

Rather than having to listen to him, I read a transcript of the speech delivered by “king” Hassan Nasrallah, as there is a difference between watching the performance of the leader of the Iranian-affiliated party and actually reading what he said. Nasrallah did not hesitate in attacking Egypt, and calling on the Arabs to make today, and every day, another Battle of Karbala! Nasrallah incited the Egyptians against their own country and leadership, accusing Egypt of treason and of playing a part in the crime [of the Israeli attack on Gaza]. Nasrallah also attacked the Arab countries that have signed peace agreements with Israel, calling for Egypt and the Arab world to take up arms and support Hamas and the resistance. He considered the disproportionate difference in strength an excuse for the weak, saying that martyrdom and sacrifice were inevitable.

This is what Nasrallah said, but what he failed to mention is far more important and dangerous. Nasrallah did not dare say a word about the Syrian who announced his willingness for direct negotiation with Israel despite the escalation of aggression in Gaza committed by the Israeli machine. Instead of mentioning this, he decided to attack Egypt.

The other issue is that Nasrallah asked about the whereabouts of “our oil and money”. Let us ask him; what happened to the “pure” money, and where is [Iranian-built] Shahab 1 or even Shahab 10 to help rescue Hamas? Instead of Nasrallah declaring war on Israel in solidarity with Hamas or Gaza, he declared war on Egypt.

Hamas rushed to Hezbollah’s rescue in 2006 [Israel-Hezbollah summer war] following the abduction of two Israeli soldiers at the hands of Hezbollah, and even opened up another battlefront by abducting Gilad Shalit themselves, so why has Nasrallah not come to Hamas’s rescue today, especially considering that Khalid Meshal said that Hamas was awaiting action, not words, from Hezbollah?

Hassan Nasrallah, who made an appearance on Sunday to stir up the Arabs and Arabism, who is the same man who occupied Beirut and tortured its Sunni citizens, along with Iranian agents and nobody else, today wants us to follow the instructions of [Supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah] Khamenei. This is what Nasrallah called for in his recent speech.

What many did not notice in Nasrallah’s address is that he devoted half of the speech to attacking Egypt and incitement against it, whilst the second half was devoted to attacking elements within Lebanon. Do you know why? This is one point.

Nasrallah says that he has no knowledge of the Katyusha rockets discovered in South Lebanon a few days ago, saying that those who claim that Hezbollah knew about these rockets are finding excuses for Israel to wage a war against his party. Half of his speech was about that.

So if Nasrallah doesn’t want to provide Israel with an excuse, shouldn’t it be the same for Gaza? Shouldn’t Hamas turn away from Iranian assistance to strengthen it when all this does is torture the people of Gaza and subject them to brutal Israeli force?

Why should there be no excuse with regards to Lebanon whilst at the same time, Ismail Haniyeh calls for the people of Gaza to persevere until obliteration? Why does seek to ensure that there is no excuse in Lebanon whilst there are calls for Egypt to surrender its security and decisions to Hamas and Iran, and to be dragged into another war with Israel? Would it not be more useful to call on “steadfast Syria” to open a battlefront along the Golan Heights, rather than asking Egypt?

The only advantage to Nasrallah’s speech is that it revealed to the world what we have been saying the whole time: that Iran is a real threat to Arab security, as today it launched a war against Egypt, tomorrow against Saudi Arabia, and then the whole house of cards will collapse. .


The third thing I want to talk about very briefly is the genuine danger of terrorism, in particular terrorists using weapons of mass destruction and weapons of mass murder, nuclear and biological weapons. And I want to suggest to you that right now we should be impaneling people to look seriously at a20level of supervision that we would never dream of if it weren’t for the scale of threat.
Let me give you two examples. When the British this summer arrested people who were planning to blow up ten airliners in one day, they arrested a couple who were going to use their six month old baby in order to hide the bomb as baby milk.

Now, if I come to you tonight and say that there are people on the planet who hate you, and they are 15-25 year old males who are willing to die as long as they get to kill you, I’ve simply described the warrior culture which has been true historically for 6 or 7 thousand years.

But, if I come to you and s ay that there is a couple that hates you so much that they will kill their six month old baby in order to kill you, I am describing a level of ferocity, and a level of savagery beyond anything we have tried to deal with.

And, what is truly frightening about the British experience is they are arresting British citizens, born in Britain , speaking English, who went to British schools, live in British housing, and have good jobs.

This is a serious long term war, and it will inevitably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country, that will lead us to learn how to close down every website that is dangerous, and it will lead us to a very severe approach to people who advocate the killing of Americans and advocate the use of nuclear or biological weapons.

And, my prediction to you is that either before we lose a city, or if we are truly stupid, after we lose a city, we will adopt rules of engagement that use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the Internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech, an! d to go after people who want to kill us to stop them from recruiting people before they get to reach out and convince young people to destroy their l ives while destroying us.

This is a serious problem that will lead to a serious debate about the first amendment, but I think that the national security threat of losing an American city to a nuclear weapon, or losing several million Americans to a biological attack is so real that we need to proactively, now, develop the appropriate rules of engagement.

And, I further think that we should propose a Geneva convention for fighting terrorism which makes very clear that those who would fight outside the rules of law, those who would use weapons of mass destruction, and those who would target civilians are in fact subject to a totally different set of rules that allow us to protect civilization by defeating barbarism before it gains so much strength that it is truly horrendous.

This is a sober topic, but I think it is a topic we need a national dialogue about, and we need to get ahea d of the curve rather than wait until actually we lose a city which could literally happen within the next decade if we are unfortunate.

This is a very sober description of the Islamic terrorist threat we are faced with. We are NOW at war with a culture that wants, not to take over our land, but to KILL us.

If this has meaning to you, please pass it on to those on your list.

Thanks General Vallely

"Standing Strong"

Arlene Kushner

So far we are doing just that.

But of course we see the inevitable, as Arab and Muslim nations work overtime at the UN to secure a resolution in the Security Council ordering Israel to cease all military action. This came after UN Secretary-General Ban's comment about "Israel's excessive use of force."

I hope and trust that nothing will come of attempts to get the Security Council to stop us, because there will be a US veto of any such effort. This is from a White House briefing yesterday:

"For six months, a ceasefire, a state of calm, was in place between Hamas and Israel. Recently, Hamas refused to renew it. During that ceasefire, Hamas continued to fire rockets. Last week, Hamas substantially increased its rocket and mortar attacks on the people of Israel.

"Hamas has once again shown its true colors as a terrorist organization that refuses to even recognize Israel's right to exist. In order for the violence to stop Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel..."

This places onus on Hamas, where it belongs.


I cannot pass on the opportunity to share what Karen AbuZayd, Commissioner-General of UNRWA had to say about this:

"Palestinians in Gaza believed Israel had called a 48-hour 'lull' in retaliatory attacks with Hamas when Israeli warplanes launched a massive bombardment of militant installations in the Gaza Strip."

This woman, once again, takes the side of terrorists against Israel, employing misinformation. The fact is that it was a 24 hour lull, that rockets were shot during that 24 hours, and that after this time Hamas indicated it didn't want to continue and shot even more rockets.

This, which should be a signal lesson in terms of what we deal with, is coming from the head of a UN relief and humanitarian organization. She has no business meddling in political affairs, but frequently does.


But I'm seeing a lot of encouraging signs here.

First, from our side, as Olmert has instructed top staff to refrain from referring to a truce. There is no intention here of conveying the sense to the world that we're ready to pack it in. We're not.


Our ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, delivered the same message: The operation would continue, she said, for "as long as it takes to dismantle Hamas completely...The main goal is to destroy completely this terrorist gang, which makes people on both sides of the border, in Gaza and in Israel, suffer daily."

We're deeply sorry about innocent deaths, she said, which we try our very best to avoid. But we're not going back to the sort of ceasefire we had before.

Israel is "concerned" about international criticism, "But first of all, we have the right to defend ourselves and we have the duty to protect our citizens. This comes before the understanding, which we hope to receive, of the international community."

And I say Bravo! to this. I will leave aside for a moment precisely what she meant by dismantling Hamas. (Her staff said she meant only infrastructure, but she may have been exposing an intent that Olmert and company very clearly have avoided mentioning, but which the head of the air force has now alluded to as well.) The point is that we're doing what we must as a sovereign nation -- not appeasing, not cowering before the world.

Across the board, our public relations effort is showing itself to be smooth and effective. It even includes an IDF YouTube site on which military actions can be seen. The latest one I've seen shows Hamas people loading Kassam rockets on a truck when they are targeted.

And Binyamin Netanyahu, I am most pleased to say, has stopped all campaigning and joined the public relations effort on behalf of the IDF and our nation. He is exceedingly effective at this.


On the international scene, I'm seeing a sort of disarray with regard to stances on the operation that is exceptional. Whatever is said for public consumption, a good many nations are glad Hamas is getting its comeuppance.

In some instances support for Israel is direct:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said forthrightly that the responsibility for the current situation lies "clearly and exclusively" with Hamas. Her Chancellery website speaks of Israel's "legitimate right" to defend its people and its territory.

Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, has said, "These people are nothing but thugs, so Israel is going to defend its people against terrorists like Hamas that indiscriminately kill their own people."

Then there is this statement from Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg of the Czech Republic:

"Let us realize one thing: Hamas increased steeply the number of rockets fired at Israel since the cease-fire ended on December 19. That is not acceptable any more. Why am I one of the few that have expressed understanding for Israel?...I am enjoying the luxury of telling the truth."

Bless him!

In other instances it's an attitude reflected more by what is not said or done:

Qatar has offered to host an Arab summit to discuss the situation in Gaza, but both Egypt and Saudi Arabia are offering various reasons as to why this might not be a good idea.

There is actually a report that a pro-Gaza demonstration in Saudi Arabia was broken up by police shooting rubber bullets. The Saudi government, of course, denies this.


Of course, there are also those nations quick to criticize Israel. In this regard we are hearing from Great Britain and France, as well as from the EU. The primary charge made is that this is "disproportionate use of force."

And so I want to focus here on the legal ramifications of this and similar accusations.

A key source to rely on with regard to this is a Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs briefing by Dr. Dore Gold, who heads the Center. (Emphasis has been added):

"The charge that Israel uses disproportionate forces keeps resurfacing whenever it has to defend its citizens from non-state terrorist organizations and the rocket attacks they perpetuate. From a purely legal perspective, Israel's current military actions in Gaza are on solid ground. According to international law, Israel is not required to calibrate its use of force precisely according to the size and range of the weaponry used against it. (Israel is not expected to make Kassam rockets and lob them back into Gaza.)

"When international legal experts use the term 'disproportionate use of force,' they have a very precise meaning in mind. As the President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, Rosalyn Higgens, has noted, proportionality 'cannot be in relation to any specific prior injury - it has to be in relation to the overall legitimate objective of ending the aggression.' In other words, if a state, like Israel, is facing aggression, then proportionality addresses where force was specifically used by Israel to bring an end to the armed attack against it. By implication, force becomes excessive if it is employed for another purpose, like causing unnecessary harm to civilians.

" [As to civilian casualties] ...What was critical from the standpoint of international law was that if the attempt had been made 'to minimize civilian damage, then even a strike that causes large amounts of damage - but is directed at a target with very large military value - would be lawful.' Numbers matter less than the purpose of the use of force. Israel has argued that it is specifically targeting facilities serving the Hamas regime and its determined effort to continue its rocket assault on Israel: headquarters, training bases, weapons depots, command and control networks, and weapons-smuggling tunnels. This way Israel is respecting the international legal concept of proportionality.

"...the attack becomes a war crime when it is directed against civilians (which is precisely what Hamas does) or when the 'incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage.' In fact, Israeli legal experts right up the chain of command within the IDF make this calculation before all military operations of this sort."

There's more. Please see the entire report at:


On this same JCPA site, there is a second briefing by Justice Reid Weiner and Avi Bell on our actions in Gaza and international law. Noteworthy here is this:

Attacks on Israeli Jews that are part of a larger aim to kill Jews are in violation of Article 1 of the Genocide Convention. Israel and other signatories to this Convention are to "prevent and punish" those who carry out such acts, as well as those who conspire with them, incite them, and are complicit in their acts.

"The Convention thus requires Israel to prevent and punish the terrorists..." (emphasis added)

This quote from Palestinian cleric Muhsen Abu 'Ita from a TV interview (cited by Bret Stephens) makes clear that the above stipulation is, indeed, highly relevant: "The annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine."


Tomorrow, more news on the war...


see my website

British terrorism expert predicts dire reaction to Israeli incursion

For the record, this "British terrorism expert" also happens to be Egyptian-born, Muslim brotherhood spokesman, Kamal El-Helbawy, who once questioned whether Israeli children are legitimate targets -- this before Israel's latest "blame-all" incursion. One must wonder, therefore, whether his "expertise" in terrorism is a product of theoretic knowledge or hands-on experience. "Middle East: Israeli attacks may lead to new terror networks, says expert," from Adnkronos, December 29 (thanks to Jeffrey Imm):

Gaza, 29 Dec. (AKI) - The latest Israeli attacks on Gaza could promote the growth of 'new Al-Qaeda' terror networks, a British terrorism expert warned on Monday. Kamal El-Helbawy, director of The Centre for the Study of Terrorism, said the raids had provoked widespread anger throughout the Middle East and many people, even children, were now talking about revenge.[...]

What else is new? Had Israeli not attacked, would there not be "widespread anger," including children talking of "revenge"?

Egyptian-born El-Helbawy, one of the founders of the Muslim Association of Britain, said if a solution was not found, he did not expect peace to prevail in the Middle East.

"Solution" here means nothing less than the total elimination of Israel; El-Helbawy would've been more honest had he prefixed the word "final" to "solution."

El-Helbawy who took part in an interfaith conference between Muslims and Christians in London on Monday, warned the conflict could worsen, particularly if Israel launched a ground invasion.

"It will get worse," he said. "The Palestinians will not stop, they will defend their country to the last citizen."

El-Helbawy's centre provides insights into global trends in Islamic resurgence, democratisation and extremism in the Muslim world.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told Parliament on Monday that his country was 'at an all-out war' with Hamas.

"We have stretched our hand in peace many times to the Palestinian people. We have nothing against the people of Gaza," Barak said. "But this is an all-out war against Hamas and its branches."

Barak said Israel was not fighting the residents of Gaza, but wanted to deal Hamas a "severe blow". He warned that the Israeli operation would be "widened and deepened as needed".

The United States - Israel's strongest ally - has said it is up to Hamas to end the violence and commit itself to a truce.

To Israel's critics who pretend to want "peace"

There has been no shortage of criticism of Israel for finally deciding to do something about incessant rocket attacks against its citizens. From the U.N. Secretary-General calling Israel's actions "excessive" to French President Nicolas Sarkozy saying that Israel is using a "disproportionate use of force" to the EU's Javier Solana saying "There is no military solution" to the situation in Gaza, down to the more reliably anti-Israel crowd from the "progressive" Left who decry the deaths of civilians, a large segment of the world seems to agree that israel has no right to act as it has been for the past few days. Certainly, no one wants to see innocent people die in a massive military operation. But before you criticize Israel you need to answer a simple question:

What is the alternative?

It is easy to mindlessly repeat the comforting words "peace" and "truce" and "practice utmost restraint." Mantras require no thought. They are just soothing, comforting sounds with no meaning and no depth.

But calling for "peace" without a plan is not only shortsighted; it is counterproductive to the idea of peace itself. Certainly terrorists are not subject to international pressure nor to criticism by peace activists; their goals are inherently antithetical to peace. By calling on "both sides" to halt "hostilities" you are equating terror with self-defense, you are legitimizing terrorism and you are calling on the terrorized side to turn the other cheek and become the passive recipient of death and destruction - because the terrorists are unlikely to be swayed by your arguments. A vague desire for "peace" is not only meaningless, but it helps embolden terror.

The most common plan is never stated but it is implied by "peace activists." This plan is for Israel to do nothing - to accept rockets in the Negev as an ugly but permanent fact, perhaps to move residents further north for their own protection; to continue to provide Gaza with aid and to medically treat Gazans, to open the borders for unlimited trade with Gaza, to allow Hamas to import as many weapons as it wishes - because anything less than that is still considered "occupation." These so-called peace activists are nothing of the sort - they just want Israel to be destroyed as much as the Arab terrorists do. Their real plan is to replace the Jewish state with another Arab state where terror attacks against Jews can again become a daily occurrence in Tel Aviv and Haifa and Jerusalem. If this describes you, sorry for wasting your time - I suggest that you volunteer as a human shield for Qassam rocket launchers.

Some have called for another "truce." The idea seems appealing - let both sides stop attacks and bring things back to the status quo.

However, the status quo was completely unacceptable. Let's look at the last "truce." While Israel sent hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid, building materials, food, fuel, clothing and many trucks full of other essentials, Hamas eliminated any vestiges of freedom, arrested scores of Fatah members who survived the coup, imported Katyusha rockets and tons of weapons and explosives, built hundreds of Qassams, built up its cash reserves by indirectly using money that the international community sent to build up the PA, and started building tunnels for the express purpose of kidnapping Israelis. Even the rocket fire didn't halt until September and it restarted only two months later.

It is a well-established rule that it costs much less to solve a problem earlier rather than later. The "truce" - as well as the one that preceded it in late 2006 and early 2007, when Israel likewise refrained from military actions while Gaza terrorists continued to shoot rockets and arm themselves - is not a solution to any problem; it is a postponement of a much bloodier clash that is inevitable when we are dealing with one side that wants no less than the utter destruction of the other.

Another alternative that peace activists like to trot out is "end the occupation." Somehow, it is hoped, Israel's giving up land will magically make Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the PFLP and DFLP and PRC and Al Aqsa Brigades and Free Galilee Brigades and all the other terror groups put down their arms and happily accept Israel's existence.

Not only is this wishful thinking, but all evidence proves the exact opposite. Israel quit Gaza and it only emboldened terrorists to do more. What can explain thousands of rockets towards Sderot if you think that Arab terrorists do not have any land ambitions beyond the "territories"? In Arabic, they call Sderot and Ashkelon and Netivot "settlements," which means that the careful distinction that the world laboriously makes between "Israel proper" and the "territories" is completely meaningless to one side of this conflict.

Some say they understand Israel's motivation, but call for Israel's response to be "proportionate." What they don't recall is that Israel has had that policy for years now. Rather than respond immediately and devastatingly to rocket attacks, Israel has counseled its Negev residents to grin and bear it; it built shelters and installed sirens; it occasionally responded with targeted attacks against rocket launchers or terrorist leaders. This did not stop the rocket fire - rockets that have no purpose other than to terrorize civilians. For Israel to slowly increase the level of response is the guaranteed way to start the dreaded "cycle of violence."

A single attack by Israel to shut down the kidnap tunnel in November resulted in hundreds of rockets in response. A massive attack is meant to stop the "cycle of violence," and it has a much better chance of doing so.

Of course Israel needs to ensure that a minimum of civilians are hurt - and it is doing so. If you have any suggestions of how Israel can do a better job in that respect, I'm sure that the IDF is more than willing to listen. But keeping Hamas in power, unchecked, is not a formula for peace.

Criticizing is easy. Solving a problem is much harder. If those who say they want peace can offer better and realistic alternatives, where Israeli citizens as well as Gazans can both be safe and secure, please offer them.

Becuase if you can't, then the best advice is the crude but effective STFU.

Operation Cast Lead – Update No. 2


Terrorist targets attacked on December 28

1. On December 28, Israeli Air Force attacked more than 90 Hamas targets, including military infrastructure, Hamas's administration facilities, and terrorist operatives. Also attacked was the office of Hamas's head of administration Ismail Haniyah. Of particular importance was the air raid on some 40 tunnels. A total of more than 300 targets have been attacked since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead. Tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt border

2. In a four-minute air raid conducted in the southern Gaza Strip along the Philadelphi Road, Israeli Air Force fighters destroyed about 40 Hamas tunnels used for smuggling from Sinai to the Gaza Strip (IDF Spokesman, December 28). The tunnels were used to smuggle arms and ammunition for terrorist attacks against Israel . They were also used to smuggle terrorist operatives from Egypt into the Gaza Strip and vice versa.

Military and security infrastructure, Hamas's administration facilities

3. During December 28, the IDF continued attacking headquarters, bases, outposts, and other military, security and administration targets of Hamas. Examples of attacked institutions follow:

a. The Al-Saraya compound, in Gaza City , housing Hamas administration offices and headquarters of its security services, was totally destroyed. The main prison of the Gaza Strip, where prisoners belonging to Fatah were held as well, 1 was also located in that compound.

b. An Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades training outpost, in the Al-Maqusi towers in the northern Gaza Strip, was destroyed. Ten people were wounded.

c. The Islamic University in Gaza , the site of Hamas's weapons research and development center. The site was used to develop rockets with improved launching range (IDF Spokesman, December 29).

The Islamic University in Gaza following the Israeli Air Force raid
The Islamic University in Gaza following the Israeli Air Force raid
(Al-Aqsa TV, December 28)

d. An installation of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades in Khan Younes.

e. Lathes (for manufacturing weapons) in the Gaza City neighborhood of Al-Zaitoun, in Khan Younes, and in the Al-Bureij refugee camp .

f. A terrorist squad in Khan Younes. According to Palestinian media reports, Ahmed As'ad Fayad, the chief of the artillery unit in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was killed in the attack.

g. The house of a senior operative of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

h. A security outpost in the western part of Gaza City .

i. A Hamas police headquarters in the former Israeli Kfar Darom region .

j. The Al-Shajaiyya police headquarters in Gaza City , which was completely destroyed .

k. The sea police headquarters in Gaza City and in Rafah .

l. A National Security outpost in east Gaza City .

m. The National Defense headquarters in Rafah .

n. A vehicle with an Izz al-Din al-Qassam operative in Jabaliya. The operative was killed .

o. A Palestinian Islamic Jihad office in Khan Younes .

p. The police station in the Al-Shati refugee camp

Media belonging to Hamas

4. During December 28, Israeli Air Force bombed Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV building, which later resumed broadcasting from another site. According to reports on Palestinian media, various media institutions evacuated their offices from a building in Gaza City, including the Hamas Al-Quds channel, after receiving threats that it would be bombed.

Interim summary of Palestinian casualties

5. According to Palestinian reports, so far more than 300 Palestinians were killed and over 1,000 were wounded, most of them terrorist operatives belonging to Hamas and other terrorist organizations. The presence of the terrorist organizations' military infrastructure in the civilian areas of the Gaza Strip resulted in some civilian casualties in the attacks.

The reaction of Hamas and other terrorist organizations:
ongoing rocket fire at Israeli population centers

6. On December 28, rocket fire at Israel continued, albeit on a relatively smaller scale compared to the first day of Operation Cast Lead. A total of 14 rocket hits and 16 mortar hits were identified in December 28. For the first time, rockets landed in Gan Yavne and Bnei Darom (near the city of Ashdod ), confirming Hamas's threat to increase the range of fire (see details below). The hits caused minor injuries to five people and stress disorders to some others.

7. The extent of rocket fire increased on December 29, and many dozens of rockets were fired by noon . One of them hit a construction site in Ashkelon , killing a worker and causing severe and moderate injuries to several people. The rockets also directly hit a building in Sderot and a yard in another house in the city, causing light injuries and stress disorders to several people. Later that day, long-range rockets were fired at the cities of Ashdod and Ofakim, and the Yavne area.

Rocket hit at a synagogue in Sderot on December 29
Rocket hit at a house in Sderot on December 29
( Sderot Media Center , December 29, photo by Hamutal Ben Shitrit)

8. A total of 75 rockets were identified in Israeli territory, and 49 mortar shells were fired on Israel since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead (not including December 29). As a result, two civilians were killed (one on December 29) and several dozens were injured, suffering mostly from stress disorders. Note: Summary of the rocket and mortar shell fire for December 29 will be included in the next update .

First ever launch of 122-mm artillery rockets on Gan Yavne and Bnei Darom

9. On December 28, two landings of artillery rockets were identified near the towns of Gan Yavne and Bnei Darom. The rockets were launched from the northern Gaza Strip and attained ranges of some 33-34 km. Examination showed that they were Chinese-made rockets with similar characteristics to standard 122-mm rockets. The maximum range of those rockets is up to 40 km.

10. The use of such rockets is a threat to additional hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians and metropolitan areas, including Beersheba , Ashdod , and Kiryat Gat. Also, the rockets make it possible for Hamas to launch them from densely populated areas deep inside the Gaza Strip .

The crossings between the Gaza Strip , Israel , and Egypt

Transporting Israeli assistance

11. In the midst of Operation Cast Lead, on December 28 Israel approved the crossing of 23 trucks loaded with food, medications, medical supplies, and gas into the Gaza Strip. The trucks crossed through the Kerem Shalom Crossing. The aid shipment was designed to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and signal that the civilian population is not the target of IDF operations .

IDF Spokesman, December 28
Twenty-three trucks with humanitarian assistance cross into the Gaza Strip
through the Kerem Shalom Crossing (IDF Spokesman, December 28)

Difficulties with the transportation of Egyptian assistance through the Rafah Crossing

12. The Arab media reported that Egypt was willing to receive the casualties from the Gaza Strip, first claiming that they could not reach the Rafah Crossing due to Israel 's air strikes. However, the Egyptian Foreign Minister announced that Hamas was not letting the casualties to arrive. At a press conference held by Abu Mazen in Egypt with the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Abu Mazen was asked why the casualties were not leaving the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian Foreign Minister answered the question and said that Egypt was waiting for the wounded. He insinuated that Hamas was to blame, saying: “They are not letting them through… ask the one in charge…” (Al-Arabiyya TV, December 28).

To watch the response of the Egyptian Foreign Minister, click here .

13. In the evening of December 28, after the Air Force attacked the tunnels, the Palestinians breached the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt . Dozens of them started running towards Egypt . Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV reported that Egyptian security forces opened fire on them. Hamas started deploying its operatives in the Rafah region in order to prevent disorders and to keep militants from arriving on the scene. According to media reports, confrontations began between Hamas operatives and the Egyptian security forces, in which an Egyptian officer and a Palestinian were killed. This prevented the evacuation of casualties to the Egyptian side (Al-Arabiyya TV, December 28). Following the incident, the crossing was closed down.

A Palestinian crowd gethering at the breach in the Rafah border fence
A Palestinian crowd gethering at the breach in the Rafah border fence
(Al- Arabiya TV, December 28)

14. The Arab media reported that Egypt allocated two planes for supplying medical assistance (that would arrive in Sinai and, once there, be transported to the Gaza Strip). Those planes are also meant to transport the injured to hospitals in Egypt . It was also reported that a Qatari aid plane arrived at the Al-Arish airport, as well as aid collected in various regions in Egypt and Britain . However, so far, the aid has not started coming into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Crossing.

Protests and order violations in Judea and Samaria

15. A general strike was declared in Judea and Samaria in protest of the developments in the Gaza Strip. Stores and official Palestinian Authority institutions were closed down. Universities, colleges and schools announced a one day strike to express solidarity with the Gaza Strip (Pal-Media, December 28). Also, many protest rallies were held and local conflicts took place, which did not get out of hand, with the Israeli security forces in several places in Judea and Samaria .

16. Following are details of the incidents in Judea and Samaria and among East Jerusalem Arabs:

a. The Ramallah region: a group referring to itself as the National Palestinian Initiative held on December 28 a demonstration on Al-Manara square in the city of Ramallah, attended by hundreds of Palestinians who raised Palestinian flags and signs condemning the international silence over the developments in the Gaza Strip (Maan News Agency, December 28). Violent confrontations took place between dozens of protestors and IDF forces near the roadblock of Qalandia. Also, confrontations took place between demonstrators and IDF forces in a number of villages in the Ramallah region in which a Palestinian was killed and several others were injured (Al-Quds TV, Al-Arabiyya TV, December 28).

Order violations in Ramallah (Al-Arabiyya, December 28)
Order violations in Ramallah (Al-Arabiyya, December 28)

b. Hebron : many confrontations took place between Palestinians and the Israeli security forces. The demonstrators threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at IDF forces and blocked roads with burning tires (Wafa News Agency, December 28). A total of 20 Palestinians were injured as the demonstrations were dispersed.

c. Qalqilya: confrontations took place between IDF forces and Palestinians (Al-Aqsa TV, December 28). Also, confrontations took place in the village of Azur , near Qalqilya (Al-Quds, December 28).

d. Bethlehem : two Palestinians were injured in confrontations between IDF forces and Palestinians (Al-Aqsa TV, December 28). In the village of Husan , west of Bethlehem , on December 28 in the evening there occurred confrontations between IDF forces and demonstrators on the road leading to the Israeli village of Beitar Illit . An Israeli woman was injured and several cars were damaged (Nidaa al-Quds website, December 28).

e. Nablus : a mass procession was held in Nablus on December 28. The participants raised signs of condemnation and the stores were closed down. The governor of the Nablus district, Jamal al-Muhaysen, called upon the participants to work towards national unity (Wafa News Agency, December 28).

17. The Jerusalem region: dozens of Israeli Arabs, residents of East Jerusalem, took part in solidarity rallies with Gaza organized by civil institutions in Jerusalem on the night of December 28 at the Damascus Gate (Wafa News Agency, December 28). Two civilians from the town of Biddu north west of Jerusalem were injured during confrontations between young people and IDF forces at the entrance of the town (Wafa Agency, December 28). At the Shoefat refugee camp, north of Jerusalem , residents threw rocks at Israeli security forces (Maan News Agency, December 28).

Reactions on the Palestinian scene


18. Spokesmen for Hamas and Palestinian terrorist organizations continue to condemn the activity of Israel , accusing it of “massacre” and “holocaust” against the Palestinians and promising a “proper response”. They also criticize the silence of the world countries, particularly Arab countries. Thus, for example, Fawzi Barhoum, the Hamas spokesman, called a press conference in the Gaza Strip in which he said that it was Israel that chose to start the war. However, Israel will not be the one to choose when the war will end. Barhoum referred to the happenings in the Gaza Strip as a “massacre” and “holocaust”, and called upon the Arab and Muslim world to intervene (Al-Aqsa TV, December 28).

19. Against the backdrop of the developments in Gaza , Hamas is waging a propaganda campaign in order to turn Israeli and world public opinion to what is happening in Gaza . In that context, the Hamas Al-Aqsa television station broadcasts images from the attacks in Gaza coupled with songs of incitement. Also, the station broadcasts short clips with messages in broken Hebrew which address the Israeli public. In the two clips there is a picture of a skull with warlike music playing throughout. In one of the clips the speaker says that Israel is faced with two options, either peace that will return the “rights of the Palestinians” or war that will “crush you”.

The Palestinian Authority

20. Abu Mazen, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, pointed during a press conference held with the Egyptian Foreign Minister in Egypt the blame at Hamas, which, as he believes, is responsible for the escalation in the Gaza Strip. According to him, before the Israeli attack he tried to form direct and indirect contact with Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and asked them not to put an end to the lull in the fighting.

Reactions from the Arab and Muslim world


21. Egyptian spokesmen continue to condemn the Israeli operation but at the same time to attack Hamas. In this context, the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit implied that Hamas was the one that prevented the transportation of the Palestinian casualties in order to receive medical treatment in Egypt (Al-Arabiyya, December 28). Ahmed Aboul Gheit stressed again and again that Egypt 's goal in the coming period was to exert international pressure on Israel to stop the activities against the Palestinian people. According to him, all the crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip should be opened so that the Palestinian people can receive its needs (Middle Eastern News Agency, December 29).

22. The commentator of Radio Sawt al-Arab Mahmoud al-Agami strongly condemned both Israel and Hamas. He said that Israel was perpetrating a “war crime against the Palestinian civilians”. At the same time, the commentator also claimed that the Hamas leadership bore the responsibility for the “acts of destruction and killing against the Palestinian people”. According to him, Hamas made a mistake by not replying to Egypt 's invitation to come to the internal Palestinian dialogue and did not heed Egypt 's call to continue the lull in the fighting arrangement, and prevented supply convoys from arriving in the Gaza Strip (Sawt al-Arab, December 28).


23. During the last day, Iran broadened its propaganda and diplomatic activity against Israel and Egypt and at the same time began preparations for sending humanitarian assistance designed for Gaza Strip residents. In various cities in Iran demonstrations continued, in which the demonstrators carried slogans saying “death to Israel ”.

24. In this context:

a. Iran's President Ahmadinejad noted that “...The Zionists built their own trap and no hand can actually save them. Those measures [of the Zionists] drop them faster into the trap and shorten their lives...” (ISNA, December 28). Ahmadinejad held a telephone conversation with Ramadan Abdallah Shalah, the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and after it he declared that the attack in Gaza worsened the situation of the “Zionist regime” (IRNA, December 28).

b. Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki and other Iranian senior figures strongly condemned Israel 's attacks, calling them a “new terrorist measure” and “the greatest crime of the century”. The Iranian Foreign Ministry condemned “the violation of basic human rights” perpetrated by Israel (ISNA, Al-Alam TV, December 28).

c. The student organizations which support the Palestinians held a press conference in the Hamas chamber in Tehran . Hamid Hosseini, a member of the central committee of an organization calling itself the Movement of Justice Seeking Students, addressed the Egyptian people and called upon them to take measures against their leaders, mainly “to revolutionarily execute the Pharaoh of Egypt, that is Husni Mubarak” (Fars News Agency, December 28).

25. On December 28, the Iranians started loading fuel, drugs, and food on a ship with assistance to the Palestinians that is docking at the port of Bandar Abbas . Also on board are 12 physicians and Iranian social workers. A spokesman for the Iranian Red Crescent announced that the ship would arrive at the port of Aqaba (AFP, December 28). In addition, a spokesman for the Iranian Red Crescent informed that two Iranian planes with food and drugs would be sent to the Egyptian Red Crescent (AFP, December 28).

Lebanon and Hezbollah

26. In protest of the developments in the Gaza Strip, many demonstrations and protest rallies were held across Lebanon , initiated by the Palestinian terrorist organizations, local religious leadership, and Islamic officials. In front of the Egyptian embassy in Beirut there was held a demonstration initiated by Hamas and the PIJ. During the demonstration, the demonstrators tried to break into the embassy building and were stopped by the Lebanese security forces. The Lebanese Prime Minister met with representatives of the Palestinian organizations in order to discuss ways to help the Gaza Strip.

Solidarity rally in Saida (Al-Manar, December 28)
Solidarity rally in Saida (Al-Manar, December 28)

27. The Lebanese President met with the Defense Minister and discussed the increase of security measures in the country. The Lebanese army and the Lebanese security forces raised the alert level fearing that the developments in the Gaza Strip would cause tensions in Lebanon (Al-Hayat, December 28). UNIFIL forces increased their patrols in south Lebanon (Al-Nahar, December 28).

28. Hezbollah senior figures continued to condemn the IDF's activity in the Gaza Strip, calling upon the Arab world to act in order to open the crossings. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech on December 28 in the southern suburb of Beirut , dedicated mostly to severe attacks on Arab countries, mainly Egypt , calling upon the Egyptian people to rise against the government (echoing the Iranian attack on the Egyptian government). The key points of the speech (Al-Manar, December 28):

a. The Gaza Strip is the site of an Israel-American plan which strives to impose, through war and pressure, a humiliating agreement on the Palestinian people and then on Lebanon and Syria (following up on the peace treaties signed with Egypt and Jordan).

b. There is an “Arab partnership” to that plot. The war of 2006 (the second Lebanon war) took place with Arab consent. Those Arab regimes which demanded the second Lebanon war be waged now strive to eliminate Hamas, the PIJ, and the other organizations. The peoples in the Arab and Islamic countries which share that plan must put pressure on their governments “even if they open fire at us”. Nasrallah noted that those who die as a result of the fire opened on them will be considered a shahid (martyr) of Islam.

c. The Egyptian government is responsible for what is taking place in the Gaza Strip nowadays. The Egyptian government is not required to fight Israel, but only to open the Rafah Crossing, so that food, drugs, water, and weapons can be transferred to members of the “resistance” (terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip). That was what Nasrallah claims Syria did in the second Lebanon war, even though its border crossings with Lebanon were constantly bombed.

d. Hassan Nasrallah called upon millions of Egyptians to take to the streets, otherwise they will be partners to the crime of the Egyptian government. He asked: “Can the Egyptian police kill millions of Egyptians?” and replied: “No, it can't”. He called upon the Egyptian people to open the Rafah Crossing by turning their chests (to the fire of the Egyptian security forces).

29. In response to Nasrallah's incitement against the Egyptian regime, the Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit attacked Nasrallah, saying that his purpose was to create chaos in Egypt just like the chaos which prevails in Lebanon . According to him, the situation in the region is dangerous and Egypt condemns Israel 's military operation. He also added that Egypt had a special responsibility on the Palestinian issue and towards the Gaza Strip (AFP, December 29).


30. Held in Damascus was a solidarity rally with the Gaza Strip attended by tens of thousands of people. The demonstrators raised flags of Syria , Palestine , Hamas, Hezbollah, and the pictures of Bashar Assad. The Syrian television widely covered “the aggression on the Gaza Strip” and Israel 's “terrorist history”, broadcasting the images of bodies of Palestinians and children with blood on their faces. A commentator for Radio Damascus (December 27) also condemned Arab leaders for their silence over the so-called Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, which, according to him, green-lighted the Israeli operation.


31. On February 28, solidarity demonstrations with the Palestinians continued in Jordan 's cities. The opposition parties issued a call to hold a demonstration in front of the Egyptian embassy in the afternoon of December 28. At a demonstration in the city of Ma'an , the demonstrators called to cancel the peace treaty with Israel , condemned the Egyptian president, and raised images of Saddam Hussein. The Jordanian media called to immediately expel the Israeli ambassador, claiming that Jordan 's relations with Israel have always been a burden on Jordan .

1 The Palestinian media offered conflicting reports about the presence of Fatah prisoners during the Air Force raids. According to some, the prisoners were evacuated before the attack, others claim that criminal prisoners were released but that Fatah prisoners remained inside during the attack. The Fatah movement issued an announcement with the names of its 20 killed activists. According to Fatah, on December 27 Hamas released the criminal prisoners, refusing to release the Fatah operatives. Fatah spokesman Fahmi al-Za'rir accused Hamas of using Fatah prisoners as “human shields”. Hamas hunted down and fired on Fatah prisoners who attempted to escape following the attack (Palestinian media, December 28).

"It's our land" - Israel‏

Apparently, Benjamin Netanyahu gave an interview and was asked about Israel 's occupation of Arab lands -- his response was "It's our land." The reporter (CNN or the like) was stunned -- read below "It's our land..."

It's important information since we don't get fair and accurate reporting from the media and facts tend to get lost in the jumble of daily events.

"Crash Course on the Arab Israeli Conflict."

Here are overlooked facts in the current Middle East situation.

These were compiled by a Christian university professor. BRIEF FACTS ON THE ISRAELI CONFLICT TODAY.....

( It takes just 1.5 minutes to read!!!! )

It makes sense and it's not slanted. Jew and non-Jew -- it doesn't matter.

1. Nationhood and Jerusalem . Israel became a nation in 1312 B.C.E. Two thousand years before the rise of Islam.

2. Arab refugees in Israel began identifying themselves as part of a Palestinian people in 1967, two decades after the establishment of the modern State of Israel .

3. Since the Jewish conquest in 1272 B.C.E., the Jews have had dominion over the land for one thousand years with a continuous presence in the land for the past
3,300 years.

4. The only Arab dominion since the conquest in
635 C.E. Lasted no more than 22 years.

5. For over 3,300 years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem , they never sought to make it their capital, and Arab leaders did not come to visit.

6. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Tanach, the Jewish Holy Scriptures. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran.

7. King David founded the city of Jerusalem. Mohammed never came to Jerusalem.

8. Jews pray facing Jerusalem. Muslims pray with their backs toward Jerusalem.

9. Arab and Jewish Refugees: In 1948 the Arab refugees were encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders promising to purge the land of Jews. Sixty-eight percent left without ever seeing an Israeli soldier.

10 The Jewish refugees were forced to flee from Arab lands due to Arab brutality, persecution and pogroms.

11. The number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948 is estimated to be around 630,000. The number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands is estimated to be the same.

12. Arab refugees were INTENTIONALLY not absorbed or integrated into the Arab la nds to which they fled, despite the vast Arab territory. Out of the
100,000,000 refugees since World War II, theirs is the only refugee group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own peoples' lands. Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel , a country no larger than the state of New Jersey .

13. The Arab - Israeli Conflict: The Arabs are represented by eight separate nations, not including the Palestinians. There is only one Jewish nation. The Arab nations initiated all five wars and lost. Israel defended itself each time and won.

14. The P.L.O.'s Charter still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel . Israel has given the Palestinians most of the West Bank land, autonomy under the Palestinian Authority, and has supplied them.

15. Under Jordanian rule, Jewish holy sites were desecrated and the Jews were denied access to places of worship. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian sites have been preserved and made accessible to people of all faiths.

16. The U.N. Record on Israel and the Arabs: of the 175 Security Council resolutions passed before 1990,
97 were directed against Israel .

17. Of the 690 General Assembly resolutions voted on before 1990, 429 were directed against Israel.

18. The U. N was silent while 58 Jerusalem Synagogues were destroyed by the Jordanians.

19. The U.N. Was silent while the Jordanians systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.

20. The U.N. Was silent while the Jordanians enforced an apartheid-like a policy of preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

These are incredible times. We have to ask what our role should be.
What will we tell our grandchildren we did when there was a turning point in Jewish destiny, an opportunity to make a difference?