“Compared to the rest of the Mideast, Gaza is quiet”; Toska dies

May 10, 2004

This dispatch includes eight items connected to Palestinian and Lebanese terrorism.


1. Amnesty International update
2. Al-Quds fairer to Israel than the BBC
3. Toska dies, at the hands of Hizbullah
4. TIME magazine columnist: "In comparison to the rest of the Mideast, Gaza is quiet"
5. Police detain 30 at Marijuana Day in Tel Aviv park
6. Thwarting of major terrorist attacks in Israel during April 2004
7. UK acts to end Israel's OECD row [Israel is attempting to join the OECD]
8. AP: Palestinians rocket lands near American school


[Note by Tom Gross]

Update on dispatch titled "Thousands mourn slain mother, girls" (May 3, 2004)

After Amnesty International and Javier Solana (and others) were widely criticized (on this list and elsewhere) for not promptly condemning the murder of 8 months-pregnant Tali Hatuel, 34, and her four young daughters, they have now issued statements.

Amnesty International's condemnation of the murders of Mrs. Hatuel and her four young daughters was unusually harsh, compared to AI's reaction previously when Israeli children have been targeted and killed by Palestinian terror groups.

The "News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International," (released Tuesday, May 4, 2004 12:30 pm GMT) matches several of the points I had used on this list last Monday morning in criticizing AI. (Several Amnesty International staff are subscribers to this list.)

Amnesty International wrote: "The deliberate killing by Palestinian armed groups of a pregnant woman and her four young daughters shows once again that these groups utterly disregard the most fundamental principles of international law, notably the absolute prohibition on the targeting of civilians. Amnesty International condemns these murders in the strongest terms... Tali Hatuel and her four children were reportedly shot dead at close range, by Palestinians gunmen who had previously shot at their vehicle and caused it to career off the road... the Popular Resistance Committees, an umbrella organization of Palestinian armed groups, claimed responsibility for the killings. They reportedly described the murders to the Associated Press news agency as an "heroic" attack...

"Such deliberate attacks against civilians... constitute crimes against humanity, as defined by Article 7 (1) and (2)(a) of the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal. Amnesty International reiterates its call on all Palestinian armed groups to put an immediate end to the deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians... The organization also reiterates its call on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to take all possible measures to prevent such attacks and to ensure that thorough and impartial investigations are carried out and those responsible for planning, organizing or carrying out such attacks are brought to justice in trials which meet international standards of fairness."

Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy representative, issued a statement saying: "I condemn in the strongest terms the heinous attack perpetrated in the Gaza Strip against innocent civilians... targeting a woman and her children, it was particularly despicable."



Regarding my comments in my previous dipatch "Only in some non-Moslem parts of Asia (i.e. where there is little historic anti-Semitism) do headlines reflect the facts."

There was in fact also one newspaper I know of in Europe which did not try to obscure the facts in its headline. The headline in The Scotsman (one of Scotland's most prominent dailies) the day after the terror attack read: "Mother and daughters executed by Palestinians."

Two of the Palestinian newspapers were also more honest in their headlines than publications which obscured what happened such as USA Today.

Al-Quds (May 3, 2004) clearly mentioned who the victims were in its headline: "Palestinian militants kill an Israeli woman and her four daughters and wound three".

Another Palestinian daily, Al-Hayyat Al-Jadida, made this partly clear in its headline: "Israel holds President Arafat and Hamas responsible for killing five Jewish settlers in Gaza." (This headline is surprising, however, since Arafat's own organization claimed co-responsibility for the attack.)



Toska, a Pups for Peace dog donated to the Oketz K-9 unit of the Israel Defense Forces, fell this weekend in the fighting with Hezbollah at Har Dov on the Lebanese border.

Pups for Peace is a charity co-run by subscribers to this email list, which trains and donates bomb-detection dogs to shopping malls, the Egged bus company, and other public places in Israel, and to the IDF. (In the past Pups for Peace dogs have detected and prevented suicide and other bomb attacks. If you want more information on this organization, please let me know. Currently 90 dogs are serving in Israel.)

Toska's handler, Ido, was wounded and is hospitalized, but is in stable condition. Toska sustained injuries in the field and received immediate treatment but, after a twenty-hour struggle for her life, died. Her funeral was held yesterday afternoon at the dog cemetery at Oketz.

The renewed fighting with Hizbullah started last week after Hizbullah fired missiles at a beach and at a kibbutz in northern Israel in an attempt to kill Israeli civilians, following which Israel retaliated at a Hizbullah base in Lebanon.

One Israeli soldier (Denis Laminov, 21, from Bat Yam) was killed Friday and 13 others injured, two of them seriously, by booby-traps that were set off by Hizbullah.

Israel's Deputy Defense Minister Ze'ev Boim said Israeli troops did not cross the Blue Line into Lebanese territory, and it was Hizbullah who crossed the border into Israel and planted explosives.

"We are not dealing only with terrorist groups," Boim added. "Syria is supplying Hizbullah with money and arms, and is still the controlling power in Lebanon."

The Lebanese daily Al Mustaqbal wrote yesterday that Hizbullah had set an ambush in the area "aiming to kidnap Israeli soldiers.

-- Tom Gross



Israel's New Normalcy
In comparison to the rest of the Middle East, the Gaza strip is quiet
By Joe Klein
TIME magazine,
May 2, 2004

[Joe Klein is a senior writer for TIME Magazine, and "anonymous" author of the best-selling novel exposing the Clinton way of doing things, "Primary Colors."]

Israel was just about the safest place in the Middle East last week. There was a car bombing in Damascus. Jordan was still shaky from the news that an al-Qaeda cell had been caught planning a chemical attack in Amman. Saudi Arabia faced a wave of terrorist shoot-outs and bombings, and you already know about Iraq. In Israel, however, tens of thousands gathered confidently in public places for Independence Day celebrations. The cafes, nightclubs and restaurants were busy. There was even a surge of non-Jewish tourists-basketball fans attending the Euroleague championship in Tel Aviv.

As of May 1, there had been no significant retaliation from Hamas after the assassinations of its leaders Sheik Ahmed Yassin and Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi. And some Israelis were beginning to wonder aloud if maybe, perhaps, there had been a "positive change" in Israel's war on terrorism, as Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert cautiously told me. "It has been very difficult for Hamas to respond because the security measures we take are very effective," he explained.

Privately, some Israelis were more effusive. "This is a major victory," a prominent Likud member told me. "The tactics that we used to roll up the terrorist networks in the West Bank will be taught at West Point. Which is not to say there won't be more attacks, but there won't be the waves of bombers there were two years ago." Indeed, as we talked, a car-bomb attempt at a Gaza settlement was foiled by the military.

Israel was staggered in March 2002, when terrorists killed 130 people, including 30 murdered in the memorable Passover massacre in Netanya. That spring, the Israeli army stormed into the West Bank, fought pitched battles with armed and not-so-armed Palestinians, and imposed draconian security measures-in effect, turning the Palestinian areas into a vast prison camp. "We also began to rebuild our intelligence networks in the West Bank," a retired intelligence officer told me. "You know how that works-money, money and more money. You buy collaborators. And cell by cell, we rolled up most of the West Bank terrorist networks. This may not be victory-victory is when the enemy no longer has the will to fight-but we are beginning to approach normalcy."

It is a "normalcy" that would be difficult to sell in the U.S. It requires unremitting toughness and constant wariness. It is almost as tedious to pass through security at a shopping mall or a restaurant in Israel as it is to board a plane in America. There is also the moral burden of the casual brutalities that are an inevitable part of the West Bank occupation-and the social burden of being perceived as a rogue state by much of the world.

This besieged burlesque of normality is the context for the strange political goings-on in Israel of late. In a monumental change of heart, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the ultrahawk, has proposed withdrawing the extremely tenuous Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, where an estimated 7,500 Jews are surrounded by 1.3 million Palestinians. In return for that, he won President Bush's support for some settlements to remain permanently in the West Bank. That led, in turn, to (grudging) endorsements from most leaders of Sharon's Likud Party, including the Prime Minister's main rival, Benjamin Netanyahu. The assassinations of Yassin and Rantisi were probably part of Sharon's campaign as well-they demonstrated the difference between a strategic withdrawal and a retreat.

With those pieces in place, Sharon earned support for his plan from three-quarters of the general Israeli public, according to polls-even though the idea remained very controversial among the rank and file of the Likud. No doubt some Likudniks reacted to the current lull by thinking, Things are going so well-why give the Palestinians anything? Others believed that any concession would be a sign of weakness (68% of Palestinians attributed Sharon's Gaza plan to the "success" of their intifadeh, according to a recent poll).

The trouble was, Ariel Sharon was trying to make a rational argument after years of disdaining rationality as softness. He had nurtured Israel's distinctive culture of toughness-but while strength may be a short-term solution, it can be a long-term addiction.

Of course, civilized folks living in civilized places-people like me-can make high-minded arguments about strength with impunity: Unremitting toughness is barbaric. The occupation is creating a new generation of terrorists. The only way Palestinians will live alongside Israelis in peace is if you give them a real state. But the world looks very different from a Jerusalem cafe. Here immediate safety is all that matters; anything long-term is a distraction. And watching Fallujah from Jerusalem last week, I found myself thinking as an Israeli might: Why on earth should we let Saddam's generals "disarm" the terrorists? How can we trust them? Why aren't the Marines cleaning up that place for real?

[Tom Gross adds: as if to indicate just now "normal" life is in Israel, on Saturday, police detained 30 participants at the international Marijuana Day celebrations at Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv.]



[Tom Gross adds: As can be seen from the list below, in common with the pattern over many months now, most terror attacks against Israeli civilians are being directed by Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization and its so-called "armed wings" the Tanzim and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.]

IDF Press Release
Thwarting of major terrorist attacks during April 2004

The following is a list of terror attacks, aimed to be carried out in Israel, thwarted by the Israeli security forces throughout April.

On April 5, 2004, Said Zalah, a Fatah terrorist who intended to carry out a suicide bombing attack inside Israel, was arrested in Khan Yunis. The terrorist attack was planned in coordination with the Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations.

On April 5, 2004, Ali Haj and Mahmud Abu Eisha, Islamic Jihad terrorists which were attempting to infiltrate Israel from Sinai to the Negev were arrested while crossing the Rafah terminal.

On April 9, 2004, Husan Judan, a wanted Tanzim terrorist who intended to carry out a shooting attack was arrested in Ramallah in possession of an AK 47 assault rifle and a pistol.

On April 11, 2004, Wajah Abu Alun, a senior Fatah terrorist, who was involved in the dispatching of a suicide bombing attack, was arrested in Jdeida.

On April 12, 2004, Fires Abu Alia, head of the Fatah in Bethlehem, who was planning a suicide bombing attack inside Israel, was arrested in Bethlehem.

On April 12, 2004, Jamal Kassem Ibrahim and Amer Jamer Badui, Hamas wanted terrorists who were planning a suicide bombing attack in Jerusalem were arrested in El Arub.

On April 12, 2004 an attempted terrorist attack was thwarted when Iyad Tharwi, a Hamas terrorist was killed as he was trying to infiltrate the community of Netzarim via the greenhouses. Simultaneously an IDF force identified an additional terrorist cell making its way into the community. The terrorists opened fire and hurled hand grenades. IDF soldiers returned fire at the terrorists, killing one of them (Ahmed Khaled Hasan) and injuring another. The infiltration attempt was a joint operation by the Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations.

On April 15, 2004 Rassan Mari, a Fatah terrorist who intended to carry out a suicide bombing attack, was arrested in Nablus.

On April 16, 2004 Fatan Dararme, a Palestinian woman in possession of an explosive device was stopped in the entrance to the Israeli city of Ariel. Dararme was sent by the terrorist cell headed by Nadir Abu Lil, a Fatah terrorist from Nablus.

On April 18, 2004, Nael Amer, a Fatah terrorist was killed while attempting to carry out a shooting or infiltration attack at the community of Kissufim, inside Israel. In searches conducted following the attack an AK 47, three magazines and a cellular phone were found near the terrorist's body.

On April 23, 2004, Mahmed Kamel Nazel, Abed El Rahaman Wassef Nazel and Mahmed Abed El Hafit Udah, armed Fatah terrorists were killed during an attempt to arrest them in Kalkilia. In addition Atef Sharif, head of the Tanzim in Kalkilia was injured. The four were planning a suicide bombing attack inside Israel.



UK acts to end Israel's OECD row
By Dan Atkinson
Mail on Sunday (UK)
May 9, 2004

Britain will this week try to head off a transatlantic row over Israel's application to join the 30 countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

British Trade Minister Michael O'Brien is due to fly to the OECD's annual meeting in Paris on Thursday to defuse a potentially explosive spat between the US and European countries led by France.

Washington is strongly backing Israeli membership of the 'rich man's club', while France is deeply hostile. There are fears that the dispute could wreck an initiative under way to reform all major global economics institutions, including the OECD.

Israel wants OECD membership, not least because it would allow both the government and private companies to raise money more cheaply - under international 'prudential' rules, banks have to make smaller provisions against loans into OECD member-states. Already, Israel has amended its company law to conform to OECD guidelines.

But the fallout from the Iraq war, and European opposition to Israel's military operations in its occupied territories, has hardened opinion on both sides. Britain, which is generally supportive of Israeli membership, will try to take the steam out of the issue by suggesting applicant countries should be judged solely on economic criteria.



Palestinian militants have fired a homemade rocket that landed near American school
The Associated Press
May 9, 2004

Palestinian militants have fired a homemade rocket that landed near the American school in the northern Gaza Strip. The school is sponsored by local and Palestinian-American businessmen. Witnesses say the blast shattered a windshield on a taxi, but caused no casualties. It's not clear whether the school was targeted. Guerrillas frequently fire rockets from the area into southern Israel.

In an overnight raid, the Israeli army says it discovered a weapons-smuggling tunnel in Rafah, along the Egyptian border. The army says it arrested several Palestinians who were in the tunnel. Israel's army frequently raids the area. It says it has discovered eleven weapons-smuggling tunnels in Rafah this year.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.