Monday, January 07, 2008

7-Jan-08: The unbearable lightness of thuggish hatred

You raise people in a religiously-inspired environment of poisonous wall-to-wall hatred and this is what you get:

Palestinian caught with knife says wanted to 'murder Jews'
Jericho resident detained near Rishon Lezion, tells detectives ' I couldn't find work in Israel and I do not have a stay permit, so I decided to murder Jews'
A 29-year-old Jericho resident suspected of planning a stabbing attack was apprehended by Rishon Lezion police Sunday evening near the Beit Dagan Junction in central Israel. The Palestinian said he had entered Israel in order to "murder Jews" because he could not find work. He was later transferred to Shin Bet custody. During a search of the man's body security personnel found a large kitchen knife, which was apparently meant to be used in the planned attack. The police station in Rishon Lezion received word of a man wandering near the Beit Dagan Junction at the entrance to the city, where numerous bus stops are located. Patrol cars were dispatched to the scene and the Palestinian was apprehended. "I couldn't find work in Israel and I do not have a stay permit, so I decided to murder Jews," the Palestinian told the police officers as he was being handcuffed.
Again: "I couldn't find work in Israel so I decided to murder Jews." Rishon Lezion is a suburb of Tel-Aviv.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

5-Jan-08: Raining rockets

After Friday's seven Qassam firings into Israel, seven more Qassams struck the southern Israeli city of Sderot during the Sabbath - an eighth landed near Sderot around 7:45pm. Emanating from the jihadist-controlled Gaza Strip, one of today's rockets struck a Sderot road, damaging a car. Several civilians were hospitalized during the day and treated for shock including a young girl and an elderly woman.

One of Friday's rockets struck the yard of a private residence in Sderot, causing property damage and causing shock to a woman living in the home. In addition, Israel Radio reports that a 14-year-old boy was injured and treated at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. Jihadist terrorists also fired eight mortar shells into Netiv Ha'asara on Friday afternoon. No injuries or damage were reported.

Friday, January 04, 2008

4-Jan-08: Never a let-up... the terror keeps coming

It's in the nature of terrorism that it just keeps coming unless and until it gets stopped. Gazan terrorists keep firing Qassam rockets into Israel: two more this morning. Fortunately they landed away from homes or factories this time. No injuries, no damage, but Gaza's terrorists intended a different outcome. (And fired 25 of them yesterday.)

In Nablus where the PA's 'forces' have been allegedly imposing law and order, the IDF located and destroyed a rocket-manufacturing workshop. This morning's reports say the search was aided by pinpoint intelligence and that by the time they were found, the rockets were in advanced stages of assembly.

Finding and neutralizing the terrorists' arsenal required the deployment of ground forces and the use of some impolite language. (And maybe more.) Predictably, the reports emanating from the Palestinian side focus on claims that 25 people were injured in the IDF operation. Like this: "Nablus Mayor Jamal Muhaissen said the Israeli operation was meant to "strike the security plan" which the Palestinian forces implement to crack down on trouble makers. "This operation is unjustifiable," Muhaissen told reporters." And like this: "The Palestinians expressed their discontent with the IDF's operation in Nablus, particularly since Palestinian police were already deployed in the city."

We're still looking for a news channel that has reporters alert enough to ask: "So how come, if the PA are deployed throughout the city, only the Israelis manage to locate the hidden lethal weaponry?"

4-Jan-08: Lethal word games: Frimet Roth's op-ed in today's Ha'aretz

The op-ed article below appears in Ha'aretz today, 4th January 2008.

Lethal Word Games

Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister and now also self-styled judge, is proposing a new definition of murder. To enable him to comply with Hamas' demands for the release of Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit, Olmert and his circle intend to wash the Jewish blood off the hands of terrorist leaders, dispatchers, instructors, planners and abettors. In their revised dictionary, murder will encompass only those who pull the trigger or detonate the bomb.

One woman who must be rejoicing in her prison cell is Ahlam 'Aref Ahmad al-Tamimi. In 2006, she predicted Olmert's actions more accurately than almost anyone else when she said: "I am not sorry for what I did. I will get out of prison and I refuse to recognize Israel's existence."

She is a mass murderer, so it would be worthwhile examining her profile.

An Israeli court convicted the then 20-year-old Bir Zeit University student and journalist after receiving evidence of how she had spent many hours planning what was intended to be a bloody terror bombing in downtown Jerusalem. On August 9, 2001, Tamimi and a shiftless 23-year-old man from Jenin, Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri, headed for a taxi station in Ramallah with a guitar case packed with explosives. They rode to Jerusalem where they got out and proceeded on foot to the city center. Tamimi, dressed in the style of a modern Israeli woman and carrying a camera, spoke with the suicide bomber in English to pass for tourists. She led her accomplice to the target she had selected, the Sbarro restaurant in the bustling intersection of King George Street and Jaffa Road. Before leaving him, she reminded al-Masri to wait for 15 minutes before detonating the bomb so she would have ample time to escape the vicinity unharmed.

At 2 P.M., al-Masri obeyed instructions and blew up, taking the lives of 15 innocent Israelis including eight children. Among them was my daughter, Malki. Tamimi made it safely back to Ramallah where she presented the evening news on Palestinian Authority television. The first story was the massacre in Jerusalem. Of her role in that, she of course said not a word. She was subsequently tracked down by the Israeli authorities, arrested a month later, tried and convicted. She is now serving 16 consecutive life sentences.

In case anyone believes that this monster has undergone a metamorphosis, the 2006 interview mentioned above should put that theory to rest. She also expounded then on her organization's intentions: "Hamas has principles in connection with discussion with Israel," she said. "Discussions will only take place after Israel recognizes that this is Islamic land."

She was subsequently interviewed for a documentary called "Hot House," which examined the lives of Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons. Learning from the filmmaker that her victims included eight children, three more than she had presumed, she smiled.

If her conduct is not convincing enough, there are the cold statistics that columnist Ehud Asheri trotted out this week in defense of Olmert's word games. "Granted, there is a risk that some of the prisoners will once again engage in terrorism if they are released," Asheri allowed. "But the facts show that this risk is exaggerated. Eighty-seven percent of the 6,912 terrorists who were released until 2003 did not target Israel again."

Either Asheri's mathematics skills are weak or he places trust in miracles. Here he was, assuring us that 1,590 released and experienced terrorists returning to ply their bloody trade aren't worth losing any sleep over.

No one is more familiar with the pain the Shalit family is experiencing than families whose child's life was extinguished by murder. We know what it is to awake every morning and face another day without that precious child. We share with the Shalits the same intense yearning to see, touch and speak to him again. We understand their willingness to do anything - anything at all - to bring him back.

The Shalits must continue to pressure our government to exercise relentless efforts to free Gilad. Had Israel done everything that could have been done, he would have been back home with his parents and siblings long ago.

But we, and the rest of the community of terror victims, must also continue to stir our leaders from their amnesia. It is a sad testament to the morality of our society that nobody else seems bothered by their impending releases. For us, though, the memories of the second intifada's terror tsunami are painfully vivid. We know that the most lethal of the terrorists are not the bombers or shooters. Those are merely the puppets of the true murderers: the leaders and the planners who were always careful to survive - the Ahlam Tamimis.

They sit patiently in our jails, unrepentant, able-bodied, determined to enlist fresh recruits. And confident that Olmert will soon unlock their cell doors.

. . .
Frimet Roth is a freelance writer in Jerusalem. Her daughter Malki was murdered at the age of fifteen in the Sbarro restaurant massacre (2001). She and her husband founded the Malki Foundation; it provides concrete support for Israeli families of all faiths who care at home for a special-needs child.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

3-Jan-08: This time it's Ashkelon and Katyushas

Haaretz, under the headline "Katyusha strikes northern Ashkelon", reports this morning on a rocket fired by Palestinian Arab terrorists from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip reaching an open field north of Ashkelon.

This is not as laconic a report as some might think. First, as Haaretz points out, it's the furthest north a terrorist rocket has struck yet in this ongoing assault on Israeli communities. Ashkelon is a city of nearly 120,000 people. This rocket flew right over the top of it, traveling about 16.5 km and landing on the city's north side - that's the far side of Ashkelon - narrowly missing a hotel. Had it flown a shorter distance, the damage might have been devastating - which is exactly the intention of the terrorists and their backers.

Second, this is not a Qassam but a Grad-type Katyusha, 122 milimeters in diameter. The Grad is a Russian design; the word Grad means "hail" in Russian. This is the kind of rocket that the Iranians excel in making and supplying; it has been used in previous terrorists attacks on Israel.

One report says this is the fifth time a Grad-type Katyusha has been directed at Ashkelon. Rockets of this kind were widely used in Hizbullah's assault on northern Israel in the summer of 2006 - the so-called Second Lebanon War. Reports yesterday quoted terrorists from Fatah saying they too had fired a Katyusha on Wednesday evening at the Israeli community of Shaked. The production of rockets like these is a major focus of terrorists energy in our region.

Two Qassam rockets were fired by Gaza-based terrorists into Israel's western Negev region, also this morning. There are no reports of damage or injuries in any of the incidents. This, as have mentioned before, is not the intention of the terrorists who seek any damage, any injuries, any concrete expression of their hatred - just as long as the victims are Jewish. This is what justifies them being termed terrorists and treated accordingly.

UPDATE: Thursday 6:45pm - A third Qassam rocket struck Israel this afternoon, this time damaging a residence in the southern city of Sderot. A woman needed hospital treatment for shock. And a report released today by Israel's National Security Council publicizes a grim tally: between 2001 and 2007, 20 people have been killed and 583 wounded in Israel as a result of Qassam attacks by the Palestinian Arab terrorists of Gaza.

UPDATE: Thursday 8:30pm - The tally so far today of rockets fired into Israeli communities by the Gazan-Pal-Arab terrorists is ten. 25 grenades had been fired up to early evening.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2-Jan-08: Solutions and nonsolutions

When you live in a region as impacted by terror as ours, you need to be alert and receptive to clear, well-informed calls for action. Terror bamboozles people - politicians, analysts, activists. For a civil society based on democratic values, the war against terror has to be won or else it's lost, and being bamboozled is no excuse. Getting it wrong, as we have said here again and again, carries a very heavy price.

Today's Haaretz publishes a clearly expressed, blunt analysis from one of the world's centers of excellence in developing policies that are effective against terror. It deserves the widest exposure.
Hudna is no solution
Ely Karmon (2-Jan-08)

In light of the success of the pinpoint military operations against Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, and signs of weakening in the Hamas leadership, many are calling for accepting Ismail Haniyeh's purported offer of a hudna (a cease-fire), or alternately a tahadiyeh (a lull in the fighting), in exchange for an end to IDF operations in Gaza and a lifting of the siege. It appears that the decision makers in Israel have learned nothing.

Following the Six-Day War and up until December 1987, the security authorities allowed a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood to set up a religious, social and economic network, which in turn led to the creation of Hamas after the outbreak of the first intifada. This was done in an effort to weaken the secular PLO elements who utilized terrorism to advance their goal of a Palestinian state. That short-sighted policy failed to appreciate the Muslim Brotherhood's long-term strategy, which found a clear manifestation in the homeland of the movement, Egypt, where since the early 1970s Islamist terrorist movements have operated.

The expulsion of 415 members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad to southern Lebanon in December 1992, and their return to the territories following the Oslo Accords, without the "Hezbollization" they had undergone in training camps in Lebanon being taken into consideration, resulted in the adoption of suicide bombings as a strategic tool for undermining the peace process. Thus, with the start of the second intifada, Hamas became the backbone of the Palestinian resistance to the existence of Israel. Nonetheless, during the bloody years of the intifada, Israel's governments opted to demolish the structure of the Palestinian Authority instead of targeting the Hamas leadership, a move it took only in the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his deputy, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, in the spring of 2004.

Following the death of Yasser Arafat, in November 2004, instead of keeping up the pressure on Hamas, the Sharon government opted to carry out a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip without an agreement, even though it was clear that Hamas would take over Gaza and from there carry on the fight to the West Bank. Later, Israel allowed Hamas to participate in elections and to politically take over the Palestinian Authority, establishing an independent military force modeled after Hezbollah. At the end of the process, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, also without any serious response.

Israel's acceptance of the hudna proposal would constitute a strategic victory for Hamas and its allies: The organization would be regarded by the Palestinian population as the leading element in the national struggle. It would quickly receive international legitimacy, establish its economic and political control through the generous assistance of the international community, and be able to develop a deterrent military capability vis-a-vis Israel through massive arms smuggling across the Egyptian border.

In a year or two, an extremist state, allied with Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, will emerge on our southern border, with a good chance of taking over the West Bank and affecting the stability of Jordan, Egypt and possibly also the Islamic Movement in Israel. Even if Hamas meets its promise not to violate the cease-fire for several months, Iran and its ally, Islamic Jihad, will do everything in their power to sabotage the negotiations with the Palestinians.

Is the temporary, tactical and relative calm of a few months, maybe even a year or two, sufficient justification for Israel's next strategic failure? Will we not then face a situation similar to what emerged in southern Lebanon following Israel's unilateral withdrawal of May 2000, which led to the forlorn results of July-August 2006? Are those who are now threatening that we will respond in force if Hamas or any other Palestinian group violates the hudna, not find more excuses to avoid taking action against them?

In light of the continued targeting of Israeli communities with rocket fire, and the ongoing smuggling, Israel must employ a tough policy and keep up its effort against a strengthening of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. This should include targeting the organization's leadership, and if necessary, carrying out a ground offensive to take control of the Philadelphi route and segments of the northern Gaza Strip before weapons of strategic significance find their way there...
Dr. Ely Karmon is a senior researcher at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Inter-Disciplinary Center, Herzliya.

2-Jan-08: Southern Israel - more rocket attacks

Two Qassam rockets were fired by Gaza-based Palestinian Arab terrorists into southern Israel yesterday (Tuesday), and again this morning (Wednesday). One of this morning's rockets struck a residential area of the small Israeli city of Sderot which borders on Gaza. The other landed in an open area outside the city's boundaries.

The New York Times quotes Israeli sources summing up the dry statistics of life in a terror zone. Some 1,263 Qassam rockets and 1,511 mortar shells were fired into Israel by the Gaza-based terrorists in 2007, according to the report. 13 Israelis lost their lives to the terrorists this year.

UPDATE Wednesday 3:00pm: Another Gazan-Palestinian-Arab Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip landed in an open field south of Ashkelon, seeking to advance the terrorist agenda. So far no injuries or property damage reports, fortunately. But that's not the intention of the terrorists.