Saving Corporal Shalit

June 28, 2006

* Hamas supreme leader Khaled Meshal in Damascus said to be target
* Meshal on par with Zarqawi and Bin Laden in world terror league
* Israeli deputy PM Shimon Peres: We would prefer it if the EU and UN asked for Meshal to be taken to the International Court in The Hague
* Israeli troops enter Ramallah, currently searching for second abducted Israeli teenager, Eliyahu Asheri

 

CONTENTS

1. Saving Corporal Shalit
2. Hamas deeply involved in the attack
3. The use of Hamas funds
4. Associated Press misleads again
5. “Second Israeli teenager kidnapped”
6. “The world cares not at all”
7. Europe’s role in prolonging the conflict
8. PA political leaders advocated kidnapping policy
9. “When you’re ready to sue for peace-and-quiet, let us know”
10. Hamas’s rival points of power
11. “When you empower terrorists, terrorists are empowered”
12. “We shot at the Jews and they fled Gaza”
13. “Tie a blue ribbon for Gilad” (Ha’aretz, June 26, 2006)
14. “Europe, Palestine and peace” (Wall Street Journal Europe, June 23, 2006)
15. “PA political leaders advocated kidnapping policy” (PMW, June 27, 2006)
16. “An end to ambiguity” (New York Sun, June 27, 2006)
17. “Cracks in the Hamas edifice” (Jerusalem Report, July 10, 2006)



[Note by Tom Gross]

SAVING CORPORAL SHALIT

I attach several articles below relating to Hamas and the kidnap of an Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit.

But before that, here are a few observations:

Some news media have not made clear that the attack and kidnap of Shalit at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, which happened at 5.40 am last Sunday morning, was unprovoked, occurred in sovereign Israeli territory, and that two other Israeli soldiers were shot dead in the raid and four others wounded, one critically.

Few international media have mentioned that Gilad Shalit is a teenager (he is 19). The BBC has referred to him as a “missing man” while in the very same news bulletins has referrred to Palestinian “youths” who are in fact the same age as Shalit.

HAMAS DEEPLY INVOLVED IN THE ATTACK

Many international news media have not made clear that Hamas (along with the Popular Resistance Committees terror organization) claimed responsibility for the attack.

The idea that the Hamas leadership is not responsible is ridiculous. Indeed full details and photos of the attack can be seen at the main Muslim Brotherhood Arabic forum at www.ikhwan.net/vb/showthread.php?t=19349.

The details of the operation, given the name “Scattered Illusion” by Hamas (probably referring to Mohammed Abbas’s referendum idea to recognize Israel) have also been placed on this forum.

Browsing the site, one can see the video clip of the operation that was released and three joint statements (under the Hamas Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades logo): the first claiming responsibility for the attack, the second naming the terrorists that were killed during the attack, and the third demanding the release of all women prisoners and under 18s from Israeli prisons in return for information concerning the kidnapped soldier. All participants in the discussion on this Muslim Brotherhood webpage fully support the operation.

It is important to point out that Article 2 of Chapter one of the Hamas Charter states Hamas is “the branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.”
(See www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_charter.htm)

From their side, Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Egypt and elsewhere constantly praise and support Hamas acts of violence, regarding Hamas as the “spearhead of Muslim resistance.”

Lately there have been many indications that the British government and the EU are trying to engage in a dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood, wrongly considering it to be a moderate organization.

THE USE OF HAMAS FUNDS

Almost no news organization has pointed to the fact that the abduction operation cost Hamas a considerable amount of money. Some news media are still even continuing to emphasize that the Hamas-led Palestinian government is short of money. The abduction involved building a 650-meter tunnel well into Israel, which takes substantial resources, and (expensive) mortar and anti-tank fire were also used in the assault. Who provided the money? Was it from charity accounts?

Almost no news organizations have mentioned that the Palestinian women whom Hamas is demanding Israel release have been convicted of serious offenses, including murder.

Few news media are reporting that the Israeli military build up comes after the daily missile bombardment of Israel’s southern towns and villages. Over 1,000 Qassam rockets have been fired at civilians in Israel since Israel left Gaza – deliberately aimed to kill and maim civilians.

Almost no western media mention that several Israelis (usually poor ones, from Ethiopian, Russian or North African backgrounds) have been killed as a result of the Qassam fire. These include the children Dorit Benisian, age 3, Afik Zahavi, 4 and Yuval Ababeh, 5. A dozen other Israeli Jews have been murdered by Qassams in what is euphemistically referred to on the BBC as “resistance.” The rockets have also killed a Bedouin shepherd and his son, as well as Thai workers.

ASSOCIATED PRESS MISLEADS AGAIN

Yesterday, an Associated Press report, titled “Hamas-Fatah to implicitly recognize Israel,” carried in newspapers around the world, wrongly claimed that the Hamas/Palestinian Authority government has implicitly recognized Israel by accepting the “Prisoners’ document,” the plan put forward for referendum by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

On the contrary, the Fatah-Hamas deal was not completed until amendments were added that made it very clear that Hamas does not recognize Israel, a position that has been reiterated by Hamas spokesmen since.

Israel’s right to exist is not mentioned in the “Prisoners’ plan,” which actually endorses terrorism, calling for “resistance” [i.e. violent attacks] 15 times. And by calling eight times for the so-called “right of return,” it is not recognizing a solution of two states for two peoples.

“SECOND ISRAELI TEENAGER KIDNAPPED”

Israeli authorities fear that assertions by a Palestinian group claiming to be holding an 18-year-old Israeli that were at first dismissed may be true. Eliyahu Asheri has been missing from Itamar, since Sunday. This morning the group claiming to be holding Asheri told Al Jazeera that unless Israel called off its incursion into the Gaza Strip, the teenager would “be butchered in front of television cameras.” In the last few hours the so-called Palestinian Resistance Committees have presented Asheri’s identification card at a press conference in Gaza.

“THE WORLD CARES NOT AT ALL”

I attach a number of articles below about the kidnapping of Shalit and Hamas in general.

Although this list/website has a strict policy of not including appeals or press releases, the first article is included just as an indication of how traumatized Israelis are over the kidnapping, even those who read and write for the liberal daily Ha’aretz who were so keen on pulling out of Gaza while Hamas and other groups were still so heavily armed.

Writing in Ha’aretz, Bradley Burston urges readers to “tie a blue ribbon” for the kidnapped Israeli soldier, pointing out that “when the missile hit his tank, Gilad Shalit was guarding our pre-1967 war border.” Burston asks why “the world cares not at all” about “this kidnapping of a soldier in an army which has withdrawn from the internationally recognized whole of the once-occupied Gaza Strip.”

This article is an example of how emotional people are in Israel: “Our ability to care, our very ability to notice, has been compromised by a reign of terror of such enormity, of such horror, of such duration, that the threshold of our emotional attention has become all but unreachable.”

EUROPE’S ROLE IN PROLONGING THE CONFLICT

In the second article, Daniel Schwammenthal, a subscriber to this email list, writing in The Wall Street Journal Europe, questions the role of Europe in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Even after almost 60 years, Europe still allows the Palestinians to dwell in some fantasy land, where, according to the degree of their delusion, they have been dreaming either of Israel’s destruction or – and this is the ‘moderate’ view – of Israel’s retreat to what many military experts consider indefensible 1967 lines and the ‘return’ of Palestinian refugees.”

As a result “by refusing even to hint at rewarding Israel for uprooting thousands of Jews and leaving most of the territory, it makes it less likely that such an agreement will ever be reached. What Europe in effect does is to create a safety net for Palestinian extremists. Their terror war is much easier to pursue knowing that no matter how irresponsible their action, the Palestinians will never lose Europe’s backing of extreme positions.”

“Do the normal rules of history not apply to the Palestinians? How long can successive Palestinian leaderships wage a terror war against Israel that stands ready to negotiate before Europe considers extracting a price for this behavior? Instead, Brussels just decided to resume aid payments to Hamas-led Palestine.”

PA POLITICAL LEADERS ADVOCATED KIDNAPPING POLICY

Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus reports that on their website, Palestine-info.net, Hamas has celebrated the killings and kidnapping “in graphic posters of smoldering and destroyed Israeli positions, with the words: ‘Smashed Illusion Operation,’ and ‘Crushing Blow on Zionist Enemy.’”

Saed Siam, the Palestinian Authority Interior Minister, who is now supposedly charged (according to gullible Western journalists) with locating Gilad Shalit, said on Abu Dhabi TV before Hamas came to power that “There is nothing the resistance cannot do… When there is a kidnapping, and it is secured, each case in its own time, has its own negotiations.”

Marcus, who is also a subscriber to this list, points out that in March this year Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmud Al-Zahar told the Saudi paper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that “Hamas will not hesitate to kidnap Israeli soldiers.”

“WHEN YOU’RE READY TO SUE FOR PEACE-AND-QUIET, LET US KNOW”

Hillel Halkin, writing in the New York Sun, has urged the Israeli government to respond to the Palestinian raid into Israel and killing of Israelis last Sunday as an “act of war.”

Halkin urges the Israeli government to tell the Palestinian Authority that “The charade is over. While we are willing to negotiate through neutral parties a prisoner exchange involving Gilad Shalit, we are also declaring war on you. From now on we will treat you as any country treats another country it is at war with. We will close all our borders with you, cease providing you with all services, and consider any branch of your government, any of its members, and anyone on your side contributing to your military effort, legitimate war targets. We will do our very best to avoid harming civilians, and we will expect you to do the same, but anyone else, from Prime Minister Ismail Haniya down, is from now until further notice a legitimate target. And when you’re ready to sue for peace-and-quiet, let us know.”

HAMAS’S RIVAL POINTS OF POWER

In the final piece attached below, the veteran Israeli journalist Ehud Ya’ari (who is also a long-time subscriber to this list) says that the Hamas victory in the recent elections “has led the organization into deep crisis.” According to Ya’ari no fewer than five rival power centers have emerged. These are in Damascus, Gaza, the armed wing of Hamas, the West Bank and in Israeli prisons.

“WHEN YOU EMPOWER TERRORISTS, TERRORISTS ARE EMPOWERED”

I would also draw attention to two other pieces, not attached below for space reasons, which show how some leading Israeli commentators blame the “misguided” withdrawal from Gaza last year while Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror groups were still so armed and active there, for the current round of events.

Caroline Glick (another subscriber to this list) writing in the Jerusalem Post under the title “Israel’s rude awakening,” argues that “the IDF was not in Gaza to protect the Israelis who lived there. The IDF was in Gaza to protect Israel.”

The world view of Ehud Olmert and other Israelis so eager to withdraw from Gaza, she says, “involves a denial of a basic, fundamental truth: When you empower terrorists, terrorists are empowered.”

“We have been in this situation before. Six years ago, in October 2000, on the eve of Yom Kippur then prime minister Ehud Barak gave Yasser Arafat an ultimatum. He was ordered to end all the violence he had fomented within 48 hours or face the consequences. When as the deadline passed Arafat continued the violence, Barak did nothing. He did nothing because he could do nothing. His entire government was based on the idea of making peace with Arafat by empowering him. When Arafat chose war, Barak had nothing to say. [Now it is the turn of] Olmert and his colleagues.”

“WE SHOT AT THE JEWS AND THEY FLED GAZA”

Michael Oren, writing today in The Wall Street Journal in an article titled “Stop Terror at Its Source” says “While the [impending Israeli] operation may flex [Israel’s] military muscle, it cannot restore Israel’s deterrence power or prevent future rocket attacks and kidnappings. Indeed, the attack may well prove Pyrrhic – inflicting greater injury on Israel than on the Palestinians. The quandary Israel confronts today originated in the unilateral withdrawal of all Israeli settlers and soldiers from Gaza last August… even those Israelis most in favor of the Gaza pullout understood that many Palestinians would interpret the move as a strategic retreat and a victory for Hamas and al-Aqsa terror. ‘We shot at the Jews and they fled Gaza,’ they would say, ‘so let’s keep shooting and they’ll abandon Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem.’

“Israel could have refuted that claim by responding immediately and massively to every infiltration and to every rocket fired, irrespective of whether the attacks caused Israeli casualties. Gaza is now a de facto independent state, Israel should have declared, and like any other state it must bear the consequences of its aggression. But Israel did none of this. On the contrary, infiltrations and rocket strikes began almost the day after the Gaza disengagement.

“… Israel’s inaction has provided a bonanza to Hamas. By firing the rockets from densely populated neighborhoods, the Palestinians have forced Israel to kill and wound civilian bystanders, sullying its reputation abroad. Indeed, many world leaders and virtually all of the press hastened to condemn Israel for allegedly firing a shell onto a Gaza beach that killed eight Palestinians. That the IDF denied firing the shell and that the Palestinians destroyed exculpatory evidence by gouging shrapnel from the victims’ limbs could not repair the damage to Israel’s image. Collateral damage not only hurts Israel’s international standing, it also divides the country internally. Many Israelis grieve over the deaths of innocent Palestinians, even those incurred in successful strikes against terrorists. Israel’s Supreme Court is now considering two lawsuits against the IDF, both filed by Israelis, for the unintentional deaths.”

“… There is, however, one way to avert a public relations disaster for Israel, to limit casualties, and to restore Israel’s deterrence power: Israel must return to the targeted-killing policy that enabled Mr. Sharon to triumph over terrorist organizations. Israel must target those Palestinians who order others to fire rockets from within civilian areas but whose families are located safely away from the firing zones. No Hamas or Islamic Jihad leader should be immune from such reprisals – neither Prime Minister Ismail Haniya nor Khaled Meshal, who masterminds Hamas from Damascus…”

I attach five articles below.

-- Tom Gross

 

[Additional notes by Tom Gross]

“LONDONISTAN” AND THE NEW YORK TIMES

Relating to yesterday’s dispatch on “Londonistan,” several of you have written to me noting that last Sunday (June 25), the New York Times magazine carried a piece titled “After Londonistan.” I am aware of that. The author of the piece, Christopher Caldwell, went out of his way not to mention Melanie Phillips’ book, and as I said yesterday, the New York Times has been markedly absent from the otherwise widespread coverage of the book in the U.S.

 

ANOTHER ISRAELI SOCCER PITCH HIT BY MISSILE

In Football killing fields, I wrote of the double standards employed by world football’s governing body FIFA, who condemned an Israeli strike on an empty Palestinian football (soccer) pitch that had been used for terror training exercises, but refused to condemn a Palestinian missile attack on an Israeli soccer pitch. Last week – at the height of the soccer World Cup – another Palestinian rocket hit another Israeli soccer pitch, and again FIFA said nothing. On the morning of Sunday June 18, moments before the daily training session was set to begin, the Palestinian rocket hit the home of the local Sderot team, a member of the Israeli Football Association playing in the 4th division. A photograph of the aftermath of the attack was published in the sports section of Yediot Ahronot on Monday June 19. No one outside Israel has condemned the attack.



FULL ARTICLES

TIE A BLUE RIBBON FOR GILAD

Tie a blue ribbon for Gilad
By Bradley Burston
Ha’aretz
June 26, 2006

There’s an inexplicable calm regarding Gilad Shalit.

Must be the way the world works.

When the missile hit his tank, Gilad Shalit was guarding our pre-1967 war border.

The border that Hamas has been talking about for months. The one to which, should we withdraw, they would make peace with us for generations.

Or until Sunday morning, whichever came first.

When the missile hit his tank, two of his crewmates, Hanan Barak and Pavel Slutzker, were killed in the blast. A third was seriously injured.

And there was Gilad, this kid, bleeding, alone, dragged off into the Gaza Strip by men who would probably rather kill him than look at him.

There’s this heartbreaking photograph of a kid not 20 years old. The wide, unspoiled smile, doubtless unchanged from when he was small.

There is this lovely family, their guard let down because they believed him to be serving in the north, far from danger. A father who, in the depth of his dread, can say to the kidnappers, “We believe that those who are holding him also have families and children, and that they know what we are feeling.”

The world can’t give a fallen fig.

When the missile hit, there was this kid, stationed at a quiet IDF position, not in the territories, nowhere near Palestinians.

And here is this kidnapping of a soldier in an army which has withdrawn from the internationally recognized whole of the once-occupied Gaza Strip.

The world cares not at all.

Perhaps we should care more. Perhaps it’s time people made a small statement in as many places as possible.

Tie a blue ribbon on a tree for Gilad. So that people will ask what it’s for, and you can tell them.

So that he won’t be left alone, nor his family.

Ignore the voices – you can hear them already – saying that he had it coming, as a member of a military that attacks Palestinians – the Palestinians that fire Qassams into homes, schools and medical clinics, the Palestinians that fire Qassams every single day, sometimes as many as seven times a day.

The world doesn’t give a fallen fig.

The world has washed its hands of the Palestinians. The world has washed its hands of Hamas.

The world is tired of our troubles as well.

There’s a sense that this is a kidnapping that even Hamas would rather not think about.

The answer may well lie somewhere between the Twin Towers and Faluja. Mass murder in the name of God, beheadings in the name of God, bombing after bombing after bombing after bombing in the name of God, gets to us after a while. Our ability to care, our very ability to notice, has been compromised by a reign of terror of such enormity, of such horror, of such duration, that the threshold of our emotional attention has become all but unreachable.

But just this once ...

We should tie a blue ribbon for Gilad. For his parents, his older brother, his younger sister.

So that people will ask what it’s for. And so they’ll find out.

 

“DO THE NORMAL RULES OF HISTORY NOT APPLY TO THE PALESTINIANS?”

Europe, Palestine and peace
By Daniel Schwammenthal
The Wall Street Journal Europe
June 23, 2006

Imagine a sovereign country trying – no, eager – to bring about the birth of an enemy state, fully aware that its leadership and a large part of its population want to destroy its “midwife.”

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposes to do just that with his “realignment” plan. His Israel is to be the midwife to a Palestinian state. It is a unique endeavor in human history. Without a negotiating partner willing to make peace, Israel has decided to end the conflict unilaterally, whether the Palestinians like it or not. Mr. Olmert’s predecessor, Ariel Sharon, emptied Gaza of Jews. Now Mr. Olmert wants to withdraw from about 90% of the West Bank to make space for Palestine.

Israel’s critics in Europe ought to be thrilled. The Jewish state, as demanded, is ending “the occupation” that’s supposedly the root cause not just of this conflict but the Muslim world’s anger at the West. World peace is about to break out! But no, Mr. Olmert wasn’t greeted with church bells and parades when he came last week to sell Europe on his plan. He got the cold shoulder.

Now why would Europe have second thoughts? Some legitimate reasons come to mind. Israel’s enemies might interpret a unilateral withdrawal as a sign of weakness and evidence that terrorism works. Living next door to a hostile country run by a terrorist Islamic organization might generally not be a very good idea for the Jewish state. Israel’s friends voice these concerns.

The European Union doesn’t share them. Its skepticism is rooted in, let’s say, due process. At their summit last Friday, the bloc’s leaders made clear what they think of the Olmert plan: “The European Union will not recognize any change to the pre-1967 borders other than those agreed to by both sides,” the final conclusion read.

Obviously, the Israelis would prefer a negotiated solution as well. Handing over land that’s critical to the territorial security of a small country still threatened by enemies, not to mention one that is associated with three millennia of Jewish history, would be easier to sell to a wary Israeli public if, in return, Israel got a peace treaty. But the new Palestinian government, run by terrorist group Hamas, refuses even to recognize Israel. Insisting on a negotiated solution gives Hamas veto power and discourages Israel from leaving the West Bank. Absurd doesn’t quite capture it.

The phrase “pre-1967 borders” gives some clues to European resistance. In fact, there never were either pre- or post-1967 borders – only armistice lines following the Arab attempt in 1948 to extinguish newly created Israel. At the end of that war, the West Bank and Gaza did not become part of a Palestinian state but were occupied by Jordan and Egypt respectively. Israel conquered these territories only in 1967, which is why it prefers to speak of “disputed” and not “occupied” land. In a legal sense occupation requires that the territory in question was the recognized part of a sovereign state before its conquest.

By getting this history wrong, the EU implies that the complete withdrawal to the 1967 lines would return the region to some previous state of order. Acknowledging that there never were any borders to begin with would make the insistence on the complete withdrawal to arbitrary battle lines appear less than objective.

And this leads us to the real “root cause” of the conflict. Even after almost 60 years, Europe still allows the Palestinians to dwell in some fantasy land, where, according to the degree of their delusion, they have been dreaming either of Israel’s destruction or – and this is the “moderate” view – of Israel’s retreat to what many military experts consider indefensible 1967 lines and the “return” of Palestinian refugees. That return would take place not to a new-born Palestinian state but to Israel. The influx of millions of hostile Palestinians, the vast majority of them descendants of refugees born outside the country, would amount to nothing less than the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. So the difference between so-called moderates and extremists is largely academic. While Europe rejects the extremists, it has yet to tell the “moderates” to give up on their dreams as well.

That is exactly what U.S. President George W. Bush did when he assured Mr. Sharon in a 2004 letter that Israel can’t be expected to remove the large population centers just across the armistice lines or to welcome millions of Palestinians. Some European diplomats will tell you at cocktail parties that they agree with Mr. Bush’s letter but they will not publicly endorse it. The official reason is that as a neutral party they could not possibly prejudge the outcome of the negotiations. Of course, by accepting total withdrawal as the default position, they are doing just that. The same applies to Europe’s refusal to take a stand on the refugees. Pretending that the “return” of the refugees is even a theoretical possibility is to entertain the idea of Israel’s destruction – clearly incompatible with the position of a neutral partner.

Of course in a cosmic sense, Europe is right. Real peace can come only once both sides agree to it. But by refusing even to hint at rewarding Israel for uprooting thousands of Jews and leaving most of the territory, it makes is less likely that such an agreement will ever be reached. What Europe in effect does is to create a safety net for Palestinian extremists. Their terror war is much easier to pursue knowing that no matter how irresponsible their action, the Palestinians will never lose Europe’s backing of extreme positions.

Do the normal rules of history not apply to the Palestinians? How long can successive Palestinian leaderships wage a terror war against Israel that stands ready to negotiate before Europe considers extracting a price for this behavior? Instead, Brussels just decided to resume aid payments to Hamas-led Palestine.

By giving tacit support to radical and unrealistic expectations – full withdrawal and “return of the refugees” – the EU is not doing the Palestinians any favors. It only weakens the position of true Palestinian moderates who are ready to find a workable compromise – and it prolongs the conflict and suffering on both sides.

 

PA POLITICAL LEADERS ADVOCATE KIDNAPPING-FOR-HOSTAGE POLICY

Palestinian Authority political leaders advocated kidnapping-for-hostage policy
By Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
Palestinian Media Watch
June 27, 2006

Foreign Minister, Mahmud Al-Zahar: Hamas will not hesitate to kidnap Israeli soldiers “to exchange for [Palestinian] prisoners, should the opportunity arise.”
[Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, March 7, 2006]

Interior Minister Saed Siam: “It is inevitable to kidnap soldiers to exchange for them... There is nothing the resistance cannot do. And when there is a goal and a good plan, the goal can be achieved... [In the past] Hamas succeeded in kidnapping and hiding bodies, but unfortunately, two bodies were handed over for nothing.”
[Undated video clip from Abu Dhabi TV – before Hamas came into power]

The Palestinian Authority political leadership has been attempting to distance itself from the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Yesterday, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas instructed PA Prime Minister Haniyeh and Interior Minister Saed Siam to “guarantee the release of the abducted soldier.”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 27, 2006]

However, one must question the sincerity of such public displays, especially by the Hamas leadership. A review of policy articulated by Hamas political leaders, including Interior Minister Siam himself and the PA Foreign Minister, shows that it was the avowed policy of the Hamas political leadership to kidnap Israeli soldiers as hostages to exchange for terrorists.

There’s another clear show of support for the kidnapping from the political leadership. The Hamas website, Palestine-info.net, has celebrated the killings and kidnapping in graphic posters of smoldering and destroyed Israeli positions, with the words: “Smashed Illusion Operation”, and “Crushing Blow on Zionist Enemy”.

Another poster in English on their web site has the names of the three groups accepting responsibility, which includes the Al Qassam Brigades of Hamas, followed by the words: “In the first movie – Mission 1 – Be Back!” [See below]

The following are policy statements of both Hamas political leaders and Islamic Jihad:

Mahmud Al-Zahar, Hamas, Foreign Minister: “The Head of Hamas party in the Palestinian Legislative Council, [and current Foreign Minister-ed] Dr. Mahmud Al-Zahar, said that his movement would not hesitate to kidnap soldiers of the occupation in order to exchange them for [Palestinian] prisoners, should the opportunity arise.”
[Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, March 7, 2006]

Saed Siam, PA Interior Minister (now charged with locating the hostage): “In the past Hamas succeeded in kidnapping many Zionist soldiers.

There are thousands of prisoners of our forces, they have to think how to free these prisoners. And I believe that it is inevitable to kidnap soldiers to exchange for them. In the past Hamas kidnapped 10 soldiers.

There is nothing the resistance cannot do. And when there is a goal and a good plan, the goal can be achieved, especially about the prisoner issue, [which] is top priority.

During the PA administration, Hamas succeeded in kidnapping and hiding bodies, but unfortunately, two bodies were handed over for nothing. When there is a kidnapping, and it is secured, each case in its own time, has its own negotiations.”
[Undated video clip from Abu Dhabi TV – before Hamas came into power]

Fathi Hamad, Member Palestinian Legislative Council, Hamas: “The Islamic resistance movement “Hamas” yesterday threatened to carry out kidnapping operations of soldiers in the Israeli army, in order to release Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. The threat was announced by Hamas Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Fathi Hamad.”
[Al-Ayyam, March 16, 2006]

Sheik Halid Al-Batash, Islamic Jihad: “[Palestinian Authority] Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah emphasized the importance of forming a mechanism for the release of our heroic prisoners who are held in the jails of the occupation, without making concessions...

Prominent Islamic Jihad movement leader, Sheik Halid Al-Batash... called for seeking different mechanisms for the release of our heroic prisoners. He emphasized that among the mechanisms is the kidnapping of Zionists to exchange for the release of the [Palestinian] prisoners.”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah, April, 17 2006]

Sheik Halid Al-Batash, Islamic Jihad: “The Islamic Jihad [Movement] says: kidnapping of Israeli soldiers – the fastest way for the release of the prisoners. Islamic Jihad movement senior official [Halid Al-Batash] called on the factions of the resistance to kidnap Israeli soldiers in order to exchange them for Palestinian prisoners, who Israel holds and refuses to release.”
[Al-Ayyam, May 9, 2006]

(For the pictures that accompany the above article, please see
www.pmw.org.il/LatestBulletins.htm#b270606.)

 

“THE CHARADE IS OVER”

An end to ambiguity
By Hillel Halkin
New York Sun
June 27, 2006

www.nysun.com/article/35123

“An act of terror,” Israel’s chief-of-staff Dan Halutz called the Palestinian raid on an Israeli military outpost on the periphery of the Gaza Strip last Sunday, in which two Israeli soldiers were killed, several more were wounded, and one, 19-year-old Gilad Shalit, was captured and is now being held in Palestinian territory.

It was in fact anything but that. If terror consists of randomly killing and maiming non-combatant civilians for the purpose of sowing fear and insecurity, Sunday’s raid, carried out by the military wing of Hamas, was the antithesis: A well-planned and well-executed attack on a strictly military target that was chosen long in advance and reached through the laborious digging of an underground tunnel half-a-mile long.

Why, when geologists can detect relatively minor underground tremors deep in the earth, Israeli scientists have been unable to develop equipment to detect the digging of tunnels, which have been widely used by Gaza Palestinians for the smuggling of weapons and occasional raids on Israeli positions, is a question in itself. What is not in question, though, is that if Israel and the Palestinian Authority are in a state of war, the attack in question was a perfectly legitimate act of war.

Indeed one might say, with one’s tongue only partially in one’s cheek, that attacks like Sunday’s, if the alternative to them is suicide bombs, should be encouraged by Israel. Since its inception, the greatest blot on the generally unsavory record of the Palestinian “liberation movement” has been its clear preference for terror over military action. For every Palestinian attack on Israeli soldiers in the four decades since the 1967 war, there have been many dozens of attacks on Israeli civilians, even though in many cases it would have been just as easy to target soldiers.

True, soldiers shoot back and civilians generally don’t. But if you are a suicide bomber sworn to die anyway, why not trade your bomb for a gun and open fire on soldiers, who are not exactly difficult to find in Israel? The only real answer to this question is that the Palestinian organizations have wanted to kill civilians rather than soldiers because this is precisely the message they have wished to deliver – namely, that their enemy is not specifically the Israeli “occupation,” nor even the Israeli army, but the entire Jewish population of Israel.

And it is because of this, too, that the Israeli response to Sunday’s raid should not be Chief-of-Staff Halutz’s. Rather, it should be: “Fair enough! You fought this time like soldiers rather than like terrorists – we will treat you this time like soldiers rather than like terrorists.”

In practice, this means two things. The first is that, if Hamas wishes to suggest a prisoner exchange in which Gilad Shalit is swapped for Palestinians in Israeli jails, Israel’s response should not be an automatic “No.” It should be: “Very well. We will not swap terrorists for an Israeli soldier because an Israeli soldier is not a terrorist, but among the many Palestinians incarcerated by us there is a small number that behaved like soldiers and attacked only soldiers on our side – and about them we are willing to negotiate.”

The second thing is to make it clear that, as far as the government of Israel is concerned, it and the Palestinian Authority are now in a state of war and that Israeli policies will be adjusted accordingly.

Until now, ever since the creation of the Palestinian Authority by the 1993 Oslo accord, Israel’s relations with this Authority have been absurdly ambiguous. On the one hand, the PA has supported anti-Israel terror, both by funding it and its organizations, and by turning a blind eye to it when it has been committed and refusing to bring its perpetrators to justice. Yet on the other hand, because the Palestinian Authority has always publicly disclaimed responsibility for terroristic acts, and has mendaciously asserted that it is not to blame for them and has done all it could to prevent them, Israel has refrained from declaring it an enemy state.

Although this has been a gross charade all along, there have been perhaps justifiable political and diplomatic reasons, from an Israeli perspective, for allowing it to take place. But these reasons have now exhausted themselves. The Palestinian Authority now has a Hamas government – and however this government may twist or turn, and however it may have tried to disassociate itself from the hundreds of Kassam rockets shot from the Gaza Strip into Israel with its complicit knowledge in recent months, it can not disassociate itself from the Hamas soldiers who raided the Israeli outpost on Sunday.

Israel should therefore say to this government: “The charade is over. While we are willing to negotiate through neutral parties a prisoner exchange involving Gilad Shalit, we are also declaring war on you. From now on we will treat you as any country treats another country it is at war with. We will close all our borders with you, cease providing you with all services, and consider any branch of your government, any of its members, and anyone on your side contributing to your military effort, legitimate war targets. We will do our very best to avoid harming civilians, and we will expect you to do the same, but anyone else, from Prime Minister Ismail Heniya down, is from now until further notice a legitimate target. And when you’re ready to sue for peace-and-quiet, let us know.”

Rest assured that Hamas will sue fast. This time, though, Israel will have to insist that the quiet, if not the peace, be real and lasting.

 

HAMAS “HAS BECOME ANOTHER ELEMENT IN THE PREVAILING ANARCHY”

Cracks in the Hamas edifice
By Ehud Ya’ari
Jerusalem Report
July 10, 2006

The Hamas movement is not what it used to be. It is not able to rule effectively, even though it is in charge of all the ministries. It has not succeeded in imposing its order on the streets, despite having pulled all the members of the Izz aI-Din al-Qassam Brigades out of the underground and deployed them all over the Gaza Strip like some pseudo-police militia. Nor has its leadership managed so far to overcome the economic and diplomatic siege enforced by Israel, the United States, the European Union and most of the Arab states as well. Hamas does not have the wherewithal to resume a concerted campaign of terror, and most important, it finds it increasingly difficult to maintain its internal cohesion. Significant cracks are appearing in the top ranks of the movement, and they threaten to grow into an open schism.

In other words, Hamas’s victory in the January elections has led the organization into deep crisis. Still, there is no cause for joy just yet. Hamas is far from singing its swan song; and is not about to break up or admit to failure.

But in the course of its ongoing struggle against Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and Fatah, the inner tensions are breaking out. In recent weeks, no fewer than five rival power centers have emerged:

The Damascus leadership: Khaled Mashal, head of the Hamas political bureau, is now undoubtedly the most senior figure in the organization. Born in the West Bank and exiled from Jordan in 2001: he has set up headquarters in the Syrian capital. But he does not have ultimate authority and there is a lot of internal criticism about his arrogant behavior and belligerent statements. Even his deputy, Dr. Musa Abu-Marzuk, hints at reservations. Mashal’s approach is dogmatic and confrontational, and is perceived back in the territories as being excessive in its extremism. He commandeers a significant portion of the funds that Hamas raises in the Muslim world and the Arab states, but he does not sufficiently control the local branches of the movement inside the Palestinian territories.

The Gaza leadership: Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, of Gaza, has won a lot of respect among the younger cadres for his restrained and smiley manner, but he is not ranked highly among the members of the Shura Council, the supreme decision-making body of the organization whose members are elected from all the different branches. Even the Hamas leadership inside Gaza is not prepared to bestow on him the status of first among equals. Often his instructions are not acted upon. In a number of instances Haniyeh has given Abu Mazen his word – for example, on the removal of the Hamas militia from the streets of Gaza – and later it transpires that he does not have the power to make good on his promises. His own interior minister, Said Siam, simply ignores him.

The military leadership: It is now absolutely clear that the commanders of the armed wing of Hamas do not see themselves as automatically subordinate to the political echelon. Since the liquidation of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his successor Dr. Abd al Aziz Rantisi, in 2004, there has been no one figure that they obey without question. The acting commander, Ahmed Ja’abari, and his comrades are in touch with the Damascus leadership, behind the back of Haniyeh and his colleagues. They are pushing for a violent confrontation with Fatah and for a resumption of terror against Israel.

The West Bank leadership: Unlike Hamas in Gaza, which emerged from the womb of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the West Bank leadership is traditionally connected to the more accommodating Jordanian Muslim Brothers. The prominent figures in the West Bank – such as Adnan Asfour and Hassan Yusuf – hold more moderate positions than the Gazans and seek understandings with Fatah. Also, because of the absence of armed Hamas forces in the West Bank, they feel weaker opposite Fatah and more vulnerable to Israeli attack.

The prison leadership: The Israeli prisons have long been a finishing school for Hamas’s top brass, and still are today. A long list of senior figures are sitting in the jails, exerting their influence from behind bars and routinely taking part in decision-making. Imprisoned Hamas leader Sheikh Abd al-Khaleq Natsheh from Hebron, together with Fatah’s Marwan Barghouti, formulated the “Prisoners’ Document” that Abu Mazen threatened to put to a referendum on July 26. The document is supposed to lead to a partnership between Fatah and Hamas, on the basis of a joint political platform and power-sharing within the Palestinian Authority and the PLO.

This complex power play is taking place mostly behind the scenes, but Hamas can no longer hide it completely. In private conversations, senior activists cast harsh aspersions on each other in ways they never did before. There is suspicion and bitterness, and even gossip about corruption, which was unheard of till now. At the peak of the combined efforts to abort the Hamas government, the movement itself is divided, with no consensus on a leader and no clear institutional hierarchy. So long as the financial boycott continues, and Fatah demonstrates an ability to fight back, the cracks will only get wider.

Hamas is no longer the Palestinians’ “great white hope” when it comes to energizing policy and running an efficient administration. Rather, it has become another element in the prevailing anarchy. It no longer holds out an attractive promise, but has become just one more problem. Hamas is not solving the Palestinian national crisis, but worsening it.

That’s why they are desperately in need of a time-out to regain their breath. Hammering out an agreement with Abu Mazen has become the preferred option. And this is winning proof that the pressure on Hamas is bearing fruit, and that it is therefore imperative to keep it up.


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