Archive for June, 2007

Terrorism from the West Bank a possibility

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Israel can probably prevent another Hamas coup, this time in the West Bank, because the IDF has much more freedom to operate there as well as good intelligence. Hamas is also weaker than in Gaza. But that assuredly does not mean that there is no danger from Hamas cells in the West Bank:

Hamas is planning to carry out suicide bombings in order to undermine the efforts by Israel and the West to bolster Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told the cabinet yesterday. Diskin also warned that the impression that Fatah is powerful in the West Bank is only an illusion…

The Shin Bet head also warned that Fatah is a divided organization, and without a strong party it will be impossible for Abbas’ forces to prevent terrorism in the West Bank.

Military Intelligence chief Major General Amos Yadlin told the cabinet yesterday that during its takeover of the Gaza Strip, Hamas took control of Fatah arsenals and arms stockpiles there.

He also pointed out to the recent arrests of Hamas members by Fatah in the West Bank and described them as “not serious.” — Ha’aretz

It’s incumbent on Israel to be very, very cautious with regard to US proposals to arm Fatah against Hamas. Fatah has numerous armed militias under its umbrella, and arms given to one can easily end up in the hands of another — even apart from the risk of Hamas getting them.

For example, Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades have carried out many terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, sometimes in cooperation with other groups such as the Islamic Jihad, etc. The al-Aqsa Brigades were responsible for 126 Israeli deaths between 2001-2006! The suicide bombing that killed 3 in Eilat this year was a joint al-Aqsa/Islamic Jihad operation. And Fatah head Mahmoud Abbas is unable or unwilling to stop them.

From time to time it’s discovered, to everyone’s great shock, that members of the Palestinian Authority ‘security’ forces are also members of the al-Aqsa Brigades. So they don’t even need to bother to sell the weapons that the US provides!

Unfortunately, it looks like the US is ramping up pressure on this issue:

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is not ruling out the possibility of transferring military equipment, including armored vehicles and bulletproof vests, to the Palestinians, he said during a security consultation on Sunday.

“Decisions on this matter will be made according to the recommendations of Major-General Keith Dayton, who has been entrusted to build the Palestinian forces. Any recommendation by Dayton will be considered by the defense establishment. Only then will we decide,” Olmert said. — YNet

It seems to me that it’s the height of folly to give guns to your proven enemies — or to allow your allies to do so.

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Kidnapping is a war crime: B’Tselem

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Gilad ShalitHamas has released an audio tape on which kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit says that he is need of medical attention, and criticizes the Israeli government for its “lack of interest” in getting him released. There is no doubt that it is Shalit’s voice, and observers are almost certain that he is reading a statement that has been prepared for him by his captors.

Shalit has been in captivity for exactly one year today. By kidnapping him and holding him as a bargaining chip, Hamas is in violation of international law and its leaders are guilty of war crimes. This has been recognized by the B’Tselem human rights organization, which is noted for its severe criticism of Israel’s actions in the occupied territories:

International humanitarian law absolutely prohibits taking and holding a person by force in order to compel the enemy to meet certain demands, while threatening to harm or kill the person if the demands are not met. Furthermore, hostage-taking is considered a war crime and all those involved bear individual criminal liability.

Hamas, which de-facto controls the security apparatus in the Gaza Strip, bears the responsibility to act to release Shalit immediately and unconditionally. Until he is released, those holding him must grant him humane treatment and allow representatives of the ICRC to visit him.

This applies to kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston as well. Johnston, who has been in captivity since March 12 of this year, is apparently in the hands of an Islamic fundamentalist group, although he may have originally been kidnapped by a powerful armed Gaza clan for ransom. However, it is clearly Hamas’ responsibility to get him released.

Alan Johnston in explosive beltIn a horrifying development, Johnston has been shown in a video wearing an explosive belt, which his captors threaten to detonate if an attempt is made to rescue him by force. The warning is in part addressed to Hamas, perhaps as a way to deflect responsibility for his continued captivity.

I must also mention the continued captivity of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, kidnapped by Hezbollah on July 12, 2006, in the event that triggered last summer’s war. Unfortunately, unlike Shalit and Johnston, there has been no sign of life from them.

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Daniel Lubetzky responds

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

Recently I wrote an article called The One Voice Movement’s misleading numbers, in which I argued that the organization’s ‘process’ was in essence an attempt to promote a specific political point of view. Daniel Lubetzky, the movement’s founder unsurprisingly disagrees, and I am presenting his response here, exactly as I have received it — ed.

By Daniel Lubetzky

The process being described is part of a highly lauded citizen movement and process endorsed and supported by everyone from Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to Palestinian President Abbas, moderates who recognize the need to engage Palestinian and Israeli citizens at the grassroots to think through these issues and work to achieve consensus on the key pillars for how to resolve this conflict.


Angry Muslims vs. the Queen

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Regent Park demonstrationThere are lots of angry Muslims in the UK as a result of Salman Rushdie’s knighthood. Did you expect anything different?

This has the potential to be as bad or worse than the Danish cartoons:

TEHRAN, Iran – An high-level Iranian cleric said Friday that the religious edict calling for the killing of Salman Rushdie cannot be revoked, and he warned Britain was defying the Islamic world by granting the author knighthood…

“Awarding him means confronting 1.5 billion Muslims around the world,” Khatami said. “In Islamic Iran, the revolutionary fatwa … is still alive and cannot be changed.” Then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued the fatwa in 1989, calling on Muslims to kill Rushdie because his book “The Satanic Verses” was deemed insulting to Islam…

“Earlier they had published cartoons of our Prophet, and now they have given an award to someone who deserves to be killed,” Abdul Ghafoor Hayderi told a crowd of about 1,000 people in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city…

“Rushdie is a hate figure across the Muslim world because of his insults to Islam,” said Anjem Choudray, protest organizer. “This honor will have ramifications here and across the world.” — AP

Regent Park demonstration

Thanks to Cox & Forkum Editorial Cartoons

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The point of the spear

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Ali LarijaniIran has admitted that it is funding Hamas and Hizbullah (as if there were any doubt):

Ali Larijani, the chairman of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, denied in an interview with Newsweek that Iran was providing arms to the Hamas. He admitted, however, that his country was funneling finances to the Islamic group, as well as to Hizbullah.

“We do support Hizbullah and Hamas, that is right,” Larijani said. “But these two are not terrorist groups. These are the two groups that are defending their own land.” — Jerusalem Post

The soon-to-be-nuclear Iran is a potent force in the Mideast, one of the two oil superpowers (the other is Saudi Arabia). Both have large military establishments. These superpowers, Shiite and Sunni respectively, vying for control of the region, agree on almost nothing except of course the proposition that Israel should be replaced by an Arab state.

Their anti-Israel work is performed by non-state proxies, such as Hamas and Hizbullah, as well as the still-immoderate Fatah, by allies such as Syria, and by diplomatic and propaganda activities throughout the world. In the name of Islam, both countries have contributed to the establishment of mosques and other institutions in many nations, all of which incidentally promote the view that Israel is the devil. They also apply pressure to their various trading partners, particularly in Europe where most of their oil is sold, to adopt anti-Israel postures. And of course they finance the constant din of accusations and lies about Israel that reaches every spot on the globe, 24/7.

This is particularly effective with the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, since it is often couched in religious terms, but also seems to be doing quite well in such places as the UK and Scandinavia.

The combined might of Arab armed forces that could be marshaled against Israel in a regional war runs into the millions, compared to Israel’s tiny standing army of 168,000 plus a few hundred thousand available as reserve soldiers for a limited time.

So the next time it’s suggested that Israel’s activities vs. Hamas and Hizbullah represent a mighty Goliath crushing a bunch of little Davids, remember this:

The terrorist militias are only the point of the spear.

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