New calls by Hamas to target U.S. (& Palestinian rockets now have Hebrew captions)

October 19, 2006

* Hizbullah launches Hebrew-language website
* Islamic Jihad put Hebrew captions on Qassam rockets
* Hamas spokesman questions if violence is a Palestinian “disease”
* Ahmadinejad: “Yes, I have been in touch with God”



1. “Would-be suicide bomber killed near Karni crossing” (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 11, 2006)
2. “Hamas spokesman questions if violence is Palestinian ‘disease’” (Reuters, Oct. 17, 2006)
3. “Intransigent Hamas” (Washington Post, Oct. 11, 2006)
4. “Syria aiding arms smuggling into Lebanon: Israeli official” (AFP, Oct. 15, 2006)
5. “Hamas says aid from Iran is forthcoming” (J. Post, AP & Reuters, Oct. 12, 2006)
6. “Katyusha defense at least 4 years away” (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 11, 2006)
7. “New calls by Hamas militants to target the U.S.” (Time magazine, Oct. 13, 2006)
8. “U.S. man pleads guilty to aiding Hamas” (Associated Press, Oct. 13, 2006)
9. “Ahmadinejad: God told me we would win” (Yediot Ahronot, Oct. 16, 2006)
10. “Olmert: Iran nukes could reach Hizbullah” (Yediot Ahronot, Oct. 15, 2006)
11. “New Iranian moderate daily hits newsstands” (AFP, Oct. 16, 2006)

[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch concerns violence and threats of violence against Israeli civilians by Hamas, Iran, Hizbullah and Syria.

An Israeli truck driver was shot and wounded in a terror attack this morning. He was delivering bread to bakeries and supermarkets. The Palestinian gunmen were hiding along the roadside.


Hizbullah has launched a Hebrew-language website in an attempt to cater to “non-Zionist” Israelis opposing Israeli army operations. The website appears to be a translation into Hebrew of an existing Hizbullah website. This marks the organization’s first attempt to address an Israeli audience through the Internet. The site, which is stored at an Iranian address, offers reports on supposed IDF misdeeds, and includes information provided by extreme leftist Jews. It also has news on Israeli domestic politics, including an update on the sex charges leveled against Israeli President Moshe Katsav.

The website’s name means “resistance” in Farsi. The site has many Hebrew-language mistakes and it appears Hizbullah may have used automated translation software rather than a real person to translate much of it

Hizbullah may have taken this idea from Iran, who have since 2001 produced their own official Hebrew website by IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting). This features both news and radio broadcasts. The URL for the Iranian Islamic Hebrew website is: The Hebrew for this site, while not perfect, is good and according to my intelligence sources has been well translated by Iranians that speak Hebrew quite well. It is much more professional than the Hizbullah Hebrew site.


Meanwhile, Palestinian Islamic Jihad is also stepping up its propaganda war on Israelis.

For the first time this week, a Palestinian rocket bearing a Hebrew caption – “al-Quds 3” – landed in Israel. The rocket was fired by Islamic Jihad. The group’s spokesman in Gaza, Abu Abdullah, explained to his friends and contacts at Reuters Gaza bureau that the decision to write the rocket’s name in Hebrew was aimed at ensuring that credit for the attack went to Islamic Jihad. He said Islamic Jihad members were unhappy that the Israeli media refer to all rockets hitting Israel from Gaza as “Qassams,” a name identified with Hamas.

The rocket, which was fired on Monday evening at the southern Israeli town of Sderot, narrowly missed a residential building, housing elderly people. One person was lightly injured and six others received treatment for shock. On Monday, another rocket with Hebrew inscriptions landed in a field near the western Negev kibbutz of Nir Am.


The second report below is on an opinion piece in the Palestinian newspaper al-Ayyam by Ghazi Hamad, a spokesman for the Hamas-led Palestinian government. Hamad asks whether “violence [has] become a culture implanted in our bodies and our flesh? … [It] has taken away the language of brotherhood and replaced it with arms... It has stolen our unity and divided us into two camps, or three, or ten… Shouldn’t we be ashamed of this ugly behavior which scandalizes us before our people and before the world?”

Hamad urged Palestinians to “disown this disease, this cancer, which has damaged our brains and paralyzed our hearts.” It is not clear whether Hamad feels the same way when Palestinians kill Israeli children.

Throughout the Intifada, many Palestinians have been killed by other Palestinians. Yet western news agencies continue to include these among numbers of “Palestinian dead in the Intifada,” wrongly implying that Israel killed them.

They also blur numbers together, obscuring who the perpetrators were. For example, AFP wrote on October 15: “All told, 5,436 people – most of them Palestinians – have died since the Palestinian intifada resumed in 2000, according to an AFP count.”

So far this year alone, according to Hamad (but not mentioned by AFP), 175 Palestinians have been killed by “Palestinian gunfire”.


In the seventh article below, “New calls by Hamas militants to target the U.S.,” Tim McGirk of Time magazine reports that Hamas leaders “are locked in a fierce debate over whether to launch terrorist attacks on U.S. targets in the Middle East. Despite its anti-American rhetoric, Hamas has until now refrained from any known terror strikes against the U.S. – only Israel,” claims the magazine. An Israeli intelligence official says that until now Hamas’s thinking seemed to be: “One enemy – Israel – is enough. Let others in Iraq and Afghanistan take on the Great Satan.”

Last week, Hamas-authorized kidnappers struck again: an American “aid” worker, Michael Philips, 24, from Louisiana was kidnapped from Nablus. Phillips has since been freed and it is not known whether a ransom was paid. (It appears Phillips was freed after he proved to the kidnappers that he was fully supportive of their cause and tactics. He appears to be the same Michael Philips who is an ISM member – the group which Rachel Corrie belonged to – and recently wrote an article for an English-language pro-Jihad website titled “Israeli Occupation Terrorist Forces Reinvade Nablus, Kill One Member of the Resistance.”)


I particularly encourage you to read The Washington Post editorial below. After years of denial, the Post editorial writers finally seem to be asking the right questions: “It’s easy enough for global leaders to issue flowery appeals for action on the Middle East or to imply that progress would be possible if only the United States used its leverage with Israel. But what if Palestinian leaders don’t want it? The stubborn reality is that there can be no movement toward peace until a Palestinian leadership appears that is ready to accept a two-state solution.”

I wonder if The New York Times editorial writers will ever dare to ask themselves the same question?


Other articles below include reports on the latest suicide bomb attempt in Israel, and an admission by Hamas that aid from Iran is forthcoming. Previously Hamas called Israeli press reports that Iran was helping Hamas a “Zionist smear campaign”; now a Hamas website admitted such help in the course of a report about the recent visit to Teheran by Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siyam.

Separately, reports from Teheran suggest the Iranian government is prepared to train Hamas’ armed force. The agreement was reached during a series of meetings there last Thursday between top Iranian officials and Siyam. Hamas’ Executive Force comprises almost 4,000 men, of whom 500 were recruited from what Israel sees as a second terror group – the Popular Resistance Committees.

In addition, since the beginning of the year, more than 20 tons of explosives, anti-aircraft missiles and antitank missiles have been smuggled into Gaza. Israeli Brigadier General Yossi Baidatz, said the movement of these weapons could greatly endanger the lives of Israelis, and would require the army to consider a different and stronger approach to its activities in Gaza.

Also, the Fatah movement, bolstered by Western aid, has received new shipments of assault rifles and ammunition. Palestinian sources said Fatah units in the West Bank received thousands of U.S.-origin M-16 assault rifles. They said the rifles were supplied to Fatah units as part of Israeli-approved Western aid to forces loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

For space reasons, I have included edited down versions of some of the news articles below.

-- Tom Gross



Would-be suicide bomber killed near Karni crossing
By Yaakov Katz
The Jerusalem Post
October 11, 2006

A suicide attack was thwarted last Tuesday night when IDF troops shot and killed a Palestinian wearing an explosives belt when he tried to infiltrate into Israel from the Gaza Strip. He was shot after he was spotted by soldiers entering Israel. His body was transferred back to Gaza on Tuesday night.

Another Palestinian was shot and killed overnight Tuesday in Nablus, near the security fence. According to the army, he was armed and had attacked the troops. Relatives identified him as Abdullah Mansour, 31, a member of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who was wanted by Israel.

Earlier, IAF aircraft bombed the home of Mariam Farhat, also known as Umm Nidal – literally “mother of the struggle” – a Hamas parliament member and the mother of three sons who were killed during the Intifada.

Residents were warned in advance of the attack and, while the building was severely damaged, no one was injured. The IDF said that the strike was on a building that housed a weapons warehouse and manufacturing facility.

Farhat made headlines when in 2002 she was filmed preparing her 17-year-old son Muhammad for a suicide attack he perpetrated in which five students in the pre-military academy in the Gaza settlement of Atzmona were killed.



Hamas spokesman questions if violence is Palestinian “disease”
October 17, 2006

Ghazi Hamad, a senior figure in Hamas and spokesman for the Hamas-led government, published an article on Tuesday condemning internal violence and questioning whether it has become a “Palestinian disease”. Hamad said he was disturbed by growing factionalism in the Palestinian territories, including recent deadly clashes between rival political movements.

“Has violence become a culture implanted in our bodies and our flesh?” he asked in the sharply worded article, published in the widely read Palestinian newspaper al-Ayyam. “We have surrendered to it until it has become the master and is obeyed everywhere – in the house, the neighborhood, the family, the clan, the faction, and the university.”

It was the second time in recent months that Hamad, who is based in Gaza, had written an opinion piece in al-Ayyam critical of Palestinian in-fighting. In August, he criticized Palestinian militant groups fighting Israel, saying they were not doing the cause of Palestinian independence any good by launching attacks at moments when it appeared progress was being made.

In the article published on Tuesday, Hamad said the presence of armed men on almost every street, and their attendance at every rally, whether political or not, had created an atmosphere of guns and violence that damaged prospects for calm.

It also meant that television pictures of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict broadcast around the world too often showed armed men and images of violence, casting the Palestinian struggle in a poor light, he suggested.

He wrote that violence “has taken away the language of brotherhood and replaced it with arms... It has stolen our unity and divided us into two camps, or three, or ten. Shouldn’t we be ashamed of this ugly behavior which scandalizes us before our people and before the world?” he asked.

Hamad’s article follows a period of intense in-fighting, with some of the worst intra-Palestinian violence since the formation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994.

Earlier this month, at least 15 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in clashes between armed members of Hamas and gunmen from the rival Fatah movement, prompting fear of an impending civil war.

Hamad wrote that 175 Palestinians had been killed by “Palestinian gunfire” since the beginning of the year. Recently launched talks on forming a unity government have so far failed.

“Are we all responsible? Yes. Do we all participate in this great sin? Yes,” wrote Hamad. “All of us have the desire not to see arms in the streets except with policemen.”

“We want to disown this disease, this cancer, which has damaged our brains and paralyzed our hearts,” he said. “Have mercy on your people. Let us walk in peace, sit in peace, have a dialogue in peace and sleep in calm,” he added.



Intransigent Hamas
It’s easy to call for a Middle East peace. But what if Palestinian leaders don’t want it?
The Washington Post
October 11, 2006

Stirring but thoughtless appeals for a Middle East peace settlement continue to ring out around the world. Just last week a new one appeared, signed by 135 “global leaders,” that called for “a new international conference, ideally held as soon as possible.” Most of the sponsoring statesmen live far from the region – in Europe, Latin America, Africa, Australia. Their statement asserted that “the injection of new political will” from “the international community” was what is needed to break the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians.

In fact, the problem is a lot more specific, and a lot tougher. That’s why it was helpful that the foreign minister of Egypt decided to publicly speak his mind on the subject the other day. Ahmed Aboul Gheit – who has spent the past several months immersed in a failing effort to restore the broken connections between the Palestinian Authority and its international donors, as well as Israel – placed the blame exactly where it belongs: on the Palestinian political leadership. “The Palestinian situation is marred by sharp divisions and battling; it is a misery and shameful for any Arab and any Palestinian,” the minister told the government newspaper al-Ahram.

The Egyptian frustration is understandable. Negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel, and Western aid to the Palestinian government, can’t go forward because the governing Hamas movement refuses to recognize Israel or previous Israeli-Palestinian accords. It also won’t renounce the use of violence against Israeli soldiers or civilians, or release the soldier its militants abducted from inside Israel in June. Egyptian negotiators have won Israeli agreement to release up to 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the hostage, but Hamas won’t go along.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, from the competing Fatah movement, has tried repeatedly to win Hamas’s agreement on a new unity government that would indirectly recognize Israel, a half-step that might lure back some desperately needed European aid. No deal. This week the government of Qatar intervened, sending its foreign minister shuttling around Gaza with a six-point plan under which Hamas and Fatah would unite on the platform of a two-state solution. Once again Hamas said no.

In case there was any doubt, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh spelled out Hamas’s position at a rally last weekend: “I tell you with all honesty, we will not recognize Israel, we will not recognize Israel, we will not recognize Israel.” Mr. Abbas responded by threatening, as he has before, to dissolve the Palestinian government or order a referendum. But he lacks the legal authority either to remove Hamas from power or to schedule a vote of any kind.

It’s easy enough for global leaders to issue flowery appeals for action on the Middle East or to imply that progress would be possible if only the United States used its leverage with Israel. The stubborn reality is that there can be no movement toward peace until a Palestinian leadership appears that is ready to accept a two-state solution. That’s why there need to be fewer manifestos and more frank messages such as the one delivered by Mr. Aboul Gheit: “Those leaders and the Palestinian people will find out that they are losing a chance.”



Syria aiding arms smuggling into Lebanon: Israeli official
Agence France Presse (AFP)
October 15, 2006

Syria is aiding arms smuggling into Lebanon in violation of a UN resolution that ended 34 days of war between Israel and Hizbullah this summer, a senior Israeli intelligence officer has said.

“The weapons smuggling from Syria into Lebanon is continuing with official Syrian involvement,” General Yossi Baidatz, head of the intelligence research department, told the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday.

“Syria’s (President Bashar) al-Assad continues to play an active role in the anti-Israel axis and supports Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah,” a senior government official quoted Baidatz as telling the cabinet. “There is conclusive and decisive evidence,” Baidatz said.

“Syria is continuing to sabotage the implementation of (UN Resolution) 1701 and is playing a conspirator’s role in sabotaging (Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad) Siniora’s ability to carry out his agenda,” he said.

“Syria is trying to create an opposition block in the Lebanese government in order to damage the prime minister.”



Hamas says aid from Iran is forthcoming
The Jerusalem Post, AP & Reuters
October 12, 2006

Iran has promised to give assistance to the security forces of the Hamas-led Palestinian government, a Hamas Website said Friday. A senior Hamas official said Teheran had promised to give vehicles to the group’s 3,500-member militia.

The promise came during a visit to Teheran by Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siyam, according to the Website. Siam was accompanied by four of his advisers and the head of the militia.

Siyam met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, visited Iran’s security branches and attended a training session at the police academy, the Website said. Senior Iranian officers promised to assist the Palestinians, it said.

“We see the positions of Ahmadinejad as a source of pride for Muslims,” Siyam was quoted as saying on the Hamas Website. “Especially when he challenges the sources of international arrogance,” he said, in an apparent reference to America and Israel.

Ahmadinejad said Iran had no reservations that would stop it from helping the Hamas government, the Website said. “The victories of Hamas and Hizbullah have put the Zionist entity in a difficult situation,” the site quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

The Hamas representatives discussed the possibility of training its operatives in Iran, Channel 2 reported.

In 1999, the IDF claimed Iran had been training Hamas guerrillas near Teheran for several years to carry out attacks on Israel, after a military court indicted two Hamas members from Gaza for carrying out illegal activities for the movement that included initiating Iranian training.

Hamas denied at the time that it had any military training camps in Iran, dismissing the reports as part of a smear campaign against the Islamic republic because of its arrest of 13 Jews on spying charges.



Katyusha defense at least 4 years away
By Yaakov Katz
The Jerusalem Post
October 11, 2006

A missile defense system that can intercept Katyusha rockets and destroy them before striking their targets won’t be ready for at least four years, senior defense and IDF officials told The Jerusalem Post this week.

The prediction by the officials, some of whom are involved in the development of missile defense systems, came two weeks after Defense Minister Amir Peretz declared that such a system would be up and operational within two years. “Nothing will be ready in two years,” said one senior military official this week. “Peretz was mistaken.”

Peretz has appointed Defense Ministry (MOD) Dir.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi to head an internal committee assigned the task of locating and developing a defense system for short-range rockets. During the recent war against Hizbullah in Lebanon, close to 4,000 short-range Katyusha and medium-range rockets landed in northern Israel.

Following the war, the defense establishment’s hunt for a cheap system that would be operational in the near future picked up speed. In an interview published last week, Peretz claimed that Qassam rockets fired by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and the Katyushas fired by Hizbullah in the North had turned into “strategic threats” against Israel and were no longer, as they were supposed to be, simple tactical weapons.

“Both Qassams and Katyushas are tactical weapons that have become strategic threats because we have yet to find an answer to them,” he said. “We want to turn the system into a significant system that can operate, and this will happen in no more than two years.”

The MOD is currently interested in two systems, one being developed in the U.S. and one in Israel. The first system, designed to defend against short-range missiles with a range of three to ten kilometers, such as the Qassam or the short-range Katyushas that struck northern towns during the recent war, is a chemical laser cannon called Skyguard under development by the U.S.-based company Northrop Grumman. The second system, under development by an Israeli company, works with an anti-missile missile that uses a kinetic warhead interceptor.



New calls by Hamas militants to target the U.S.
Washington’s efforts to isolate and topple the Islamist government is amplifying calls from its more extreme element to abandon its reluctance to directly attack U.S. interests
By Tim McGirk
Time magazine
October 13, 2006,8599,1546101,00.html

Commanders of the military wing of Hamas, the Islamist movement elected to power in the Palestinian territories earlier this year, are locked in a fierce debate over whether to launch terrorist attacks on U.S. targets in the Middle East. Despite its anti-American rhetoric, Hamas has until now refrained from any known terror strikes against the U.S. – only Israel is in its bomb-sights, Hamas says. That position has been reinforced by the argument of more moderate elements in Hamas that if the movement acted in a reasonable manner, the U.S. and Europe would eventually be persuaded to release funds and foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority blocked last March after Hamas assumed office.

But within Hamas, the argument may be tipping the other way. In furtive, underground meetings held in the West Bank and Gaza, a growing number of Hamas commanders say they are running out of patience with the U.S. and want to strike back. Insiders say the radicals are trying to exploit the exasperation within the movement at what they perceive as the Bush Administration’s one-sided support of Israel and its attempts to press Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the Hamas cabinet.

The radicals’ gained ground after a visit to the Middle East earlier this month by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who tried to rally “moderate” Arab regimes into a united front against Iran, Hamas and the Lebanese militia Hizbullah. “The U.S. has become very hostile to the Palestinians,” one Hamas field commander told TIME. “We shouldn’t stand by idly while the Americans are plotting against us.”

Israeli intelligence sources say they are aware of the debate within Hamas over whether to target U.S. interests in the region. An Israeli intelligence official says that for now Hamas’s thinking seems to be: “One enemy – Israel – is enough. Let others in Iraq and Afghanistan take on the Great Satan.”

Such restraint may crumble if Abbas moves, as he is expected to do in the coming weeks, to dismiss the Hamas government – a move that would be seen by most Palestinians as doing Washington’s bidding, and might tip the balance inside the Hamas leadership strongly in favor of the more extreme faction. That would likely involve a retreat from Democratic politics and a reemphasis on terrorism, in which the movement may not confine its targets to Israelis. In this scenario, Hamas would likely seek support from Iran and international jihadists, whose anti-American agendas might increasingly shape Hamas’s own. Israeli officials say Iran recently offered to train Hamas in the weapons and tactics used to such lethal effect by the Hizbullah fighters who held their own against Israeli forces in Lebanon over the summer. Israel’s Shin Bet security service also claims that Hamas had smuggled over 19 tons of explosives into Gaza.

Jihadi culture is also taking root in the Palestinian territories, with the Bush Administration routinely denounced in apocalyptic tones during Friday prayers at mosques throughout the West Bank and Gaza, and recordings of Jihadi songs and chants selling briskly at West Bank bazaars. Westerners also face a growing risk of kidnapping, and the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem has warned that Americans traveling in the Palestinian territories are no longer safe. The consulate in mid-August issued kidnap warnings for Gaza and the West Bank after the abduction of two Fox News reporters. On Wednesday, kidnappers struck again: an American aid worker, Michael Philips, 24, from Louisiana was kidnapped from Nablus by a new gang calling itself ‘Jaish al-Sunna’ (the “Sunni Army”) which demanded the release of Palestinian women and minors from Israeli prisons. Palestinian security police freed Phillips, but the identity of his captors is still unknown. According to both Israeli and Palestinian police sources, there is no evidence linking the kidnappers with Hamas or any other known militant group. But as the economic squeeze tightens in the territories, more and more Palestinians are blaming the U.S. for their woes – and are wanting to hit back.

(With reporting by Jamil Hamad/Bethlehem, and Aaron J. Klein/Tel Aviv)



U.S. man pleads guilty to aiding Hamas
The Associated Press
October 13, 2006

The imam of a mosque pleaded guilty to providing material support to the militant group Hamas in a case in which the agreement, charges and even the plea hearing were handled in secret.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Friday that the charges and plea agreement involving Mohamed Shorbagi were filed Aug. 28 in a federal court, but were sealed until today. Shorbagi, 42, agreed to a maximum 15 years in prison, prosecutors said. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 3.

According to prosecutors, between 1997 and 2001, Shorbagi provided financial support to Hamas, a group designated by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization. He also was accused of conspiring with unnamed others to provide material support to Hamas.

The donations were through the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, prosecutors said. U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said the prison time could be reduced if Shorbagi cooperates, as he is expected to do.



Ahmadinejad: God told me we would win
By Dudi Cohen
Yediot Ahronot
October 16, 2006,7340,L-3315855,00.html

While the West is preparing to impose sanctions on Iran, due to the country’s failure to suspend its nuclear activities, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is still optimistic. “We shall win,” he was quoted in the Iranian media as saying Monday, and added: “One day I will be asked whether I have been in touch with someone who told me we would win, and I will respond: ‘Yes, I have been in touch with God’.”

“We must not be afraid of them,” he stated, hinting to the western countries. Ahmadinejad also noted that although he was at times mocked for his preoccupation with spiritual matters and his use of “divine” words,” he was nevertheless certain that Iran would prevail, after having secured the support of international public opinion for its cause.

Meanwhile, Iranian news agencies reported Monday that Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi addressed the possibility of an attack on Iran and said, “If Americans and Zionists want to try their luck in Iran, they will experience a larger defeat than in Iraq.”

Safavi added during a memorial service held at his headquarters: “We are obligated to our fallen to maintain the readiness and deal a powerful blow on the enemies in case of an attack.

“The Basij (branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) and the Revolutionary Guards are so strong they will not allow the enemy to even think of launching an operation against Iran,” he said.

“The blood of our shahids will bring about not only the liberation of Jerusalem and Karbala (Iraq) but the liberation of all mankind from the evil powers of the world; the blood of our shahids boiled the blood of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon, and they will overcome the evil Americans and Israel.”



Olmert: Iran nukes could reach Hizbullah
By Ronny Sofer
Yediot Ahronot
October 15, 2006,7340,L-3315165,00.html

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that Iran poses a strategic threat to Israel, warning that the Islamic Republic would transfer nuclear weapons to its Lebanese proxy Hizbullah.

“If the atomic bomb reaches Iranian hands it will reach other hands. International fears – not only Israel’s – are that these weapons reach other players like Hizbullah,” Olmert said, adding that the international community should take seriously the North Korea’s claimed nuclear test.

Olmert is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday to discuss Iran’s disputed nuclear program and North Korea’s claims that it successfully tested a nuclear weapon.

Speaking about Syria, Olmert accused Damascus of plotting to oust the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. “It is no coincidence that there is a Syrian decision, with Hizbullah, to bring about the fall of the Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora. All those demanding peace with Assad and long for the peace he is offering, should remember that the same Assad is mulling the fall of Siniora, the same Assad we are supposed to negotiate with a political solution when Khaled Mashaal acts freely there,” Olmert said.

Diverting his attention to the internal agenda, Olmert said the Israel Defense Forces have been ordered to continue operations against Qassam attacks from the Gaza Strip and brushed aside claims that his government is not taking the issue seriously.

“We cannot allow ourselves the continuation of Qassam fire at this rate from Gaza. The fact that 17 terror activists were killed in the last couple of days is not a sign of restraint from our side. There is no restraint and there will be no restraint,” he said.

He slammed Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal, who accused the government of not doing enough to halt Qassam fire on the city. “I never saw a bigger gap between capabilities to lip service. Leadership is also about the ability to calm and not only to incite the public,” he said.

Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter called on the government to widen the scope of military operations in the Gaza Strip. “We only hear about surgical operations, and we need to expand the operation,” Dichter said.

Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon told Olmert that had Qassams rockets been falling on Tel Aviv, the government would have responded differently.

Olmert said the government is doing more to protect Sderot that other governments did against terror attacks in Tel Aviv.

“I understand well people in Sderot. It is not easy to live in a routine of Qassam fire; we are operating and will continue to operate with all force against Qassam fire until we bring about a drop in this fire,” he said.



New Iranian moderate daily hits newsstands
Agence France Presse (AFP)
October 16, 2006

A new Iranian moderate daily, Rozegar (Times), was published Monday, nearly a month after the Islamic republic’s conservative press watchdog shut down the leading moderate broadsheet, Shargh.

Bylines on articles in the newspaper’s first edition showed that many of the journalists writing for Rozegar are former Shargh reporters. The format and typeset of the new paper closely resembled that of the shut-down daily.

But in its first issue, the 24-page color broadsheet published articles from across the political spectrum. These included a piece from Abbas Abdi, a leading reformist, alongside an article from Fatemeh Rajabi, a hardline figure and the wife of government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham.

On the international pages, Rozegar published stories about the North Korean nuclear crisis and also about the Turkish winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, Orhan Pamuk.

However, the paper does not carry any cartoon section, one of the reasons why Shargh was shut down. A disputed cartoon in Shargh had depicted two chess pieces, a white knight facing a black donkey surrounded by a white halo on a checkboard – perceived by some as an insult to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

With a circulation of around 100,000, Shargh (which means East in Farsi) was the standard-bearer moderate publication among some 40 national dailies, half of which are close to the moderate and reformist camps.

In May, a government daily, Iran, was banned and two of its journalists were arrested for publishing a cartoon that provoked rioting by Iran’s large Azeri community.

The daily has since been given the green light to publish again, although it has yet to reappear on newsstands.

The Iranian press enjoyed some freedom under the previous reformist government of Mohammad Khatami from 1997-2005 but even then the hardline judiciary shut down scores of titles and detained dozens of journalists.

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