Hamas thanks Jimmy Carter, its “useful idiot” (& Syria occupies Lebanon. Again.)

July 25, 2007

* “Israel is paying former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya’s salary”
* Hamas and Fatah students shoot each other during classes yesterday at Nablus university. No Western academic boycott of Palestinian universities proposed.

* This dispatch concerns Palestinian affairs, apart from the last article by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal which starts: “As of this minute, Syria occupies at least 177 square miles of Lebanese soil. That you are now reading about it for the first time is as much a scandal as the occupation itself.”



1. Hamas thanks Jimmy Carter, its “useful idiot”
2. Palestinian rocket smashes through baby’s crib
3. Dozens wounded following Hamas-Fatah clashes at An-Najah University
4. Hamas asks IRNA to open branch office in Gaza
5. Three sisters stabbed to death in Gaza
6. Canada announces resumption of direct aid to Palestinian government
7. New Fatah terror group “to target Israel”
8. Presidential Guard attacks Barghouti’s children
9. “Israel pays Haniya’s salary” (Yediot Ahronot, July 24, 2007)
10. “Syria occupies Lebanon. Again.” (By Bret Stephens, Wall St Journal, July 24, 2007)

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


While much of the rest of the world is shunning Hamas for the murderous organization that it is, and ever more Palestinians (according to Palestinian opinion polls*) are despairing at its increasingly repressive rule in Gaza, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya on Sunday thanked former U.S. President Jimmy Carter “for his intervention in the Palestinian domestic crisis.”

Carter had spoken out on behalf of Hamas against the secular Fatah party at the very time that Hamas thugs were throwing Fatah members to their deaths from Gaza rooftops last month.

Haniya’s comments were passed on during a meeting with Carter Center director Scott Caster at Haniya’s office in Gaza City, according to the Palestinian-run Ma’an news agency.

Kayhan, one of the most hardline Iranian government dailies, which supports Iran’s Holocaust-denying president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had also previously endorsed Carter’s pro-Hamas comments.

* (For polls showing a drop in Hamas’s support among Gazans, see item 5 here.)

(The first article below reports that funds transferred by Israel to the Palestinian Authority have been used to “fill the bank account of former Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.”)



Virtually unreported outside Israel, attacks on Israeli civilians continue almost every day. For example a rocket fired from Gaza yesterday afternoon hit a baby’s crib. The baby was on the other side of the room at the time but was still injured by flying shrapnel. Her mother and grandmother also required medical treatment for shock at Barzilai hospital.

The target was a kibbutz near Ashkelon – in other words while some western newspapers are full of “sensation stories” warning of a “humanitarian” crisis in Gaza and claiming that Gaza is a “gigantic prison” from which nothing is getting in and out, Hamas is in fact continuing to bring ever more costly and sophisticated weaponry in.

Several other Qassam rockets have been launched at Israel in recent days, and at least one other woman was injured as a result.

Some of those few media outlets that report this use the word “claim”: “Israel claims that rockets fired from Gaza…” It is puzzling why they do this since Islamic Jihad’s Gaza branch have proudly claimed responsibility for the attacks.



Also virtually unreported yesterday evening or today in Western media are the vicious clashes that occurred yesterday afternoon between supporters of Hamas and Fatah on the campus of An-Najah University near the West Bank city of Nablus.

According to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency, the clashes involved hundreds of students, dozens were injured, and some are said to be in a critical condition. Chairs, computers, classroom equipment, metal and wooden objects and fists were used, as well as guns. At least one student was shot in the head, several were shot in their legs, and others received severe beatings.

Both pistols and Kalashnikov assault rifles were used during the fighting, which was described as one of the worst ever on a Palestinian campus in the West Bank.

The university’s administration has temporarily closed the campus, the largest on the West Bank. University President Rami Hamdallah said Hamas students had been responsible for starting the fighting.

Another West Bank university, Bir Zeit, was also closed down earlier this month following severe violence between Hamas and Fatah supporters.

Many western academics were no doubt too busy organizing their boycotts of Israel to notice what is happening on Palestinian universities (which incidentally Israel built for the Palestinians during the more peaceful initial years after the Six Day War).

And of course even though the BBC has near hourly reports on how awful Israel is, it didn’t mention these clashes even once in any of its many reports on the Middle East on its website yesterday and today.



Hamas’s ambassador to Teheran, Abu Osama Abdolmoti, on Sunday called on the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) to open a branch office in Gaza.

In a meeting with IRNA Chief Jalal Fayyazi, Abdolmoti “thanked IRNA for reflecting the heroic resistance of the oppressed Palestinian nation and informing the world of their innocence.”

He said “IRNA’s support for Hamas would encourage the group to ceaselessly continue its campaign against the occupiers.”

IRNA is one of the propaganda tools of the Iranian regime.

In a separate development, gunmen stormed the offices of a senior Fatah lawmaker in Gaza on Monday, wounding several office workers, Reuters reported.



This news was barely reported.

That’s because the sisters – 16-year-old Nahed Hija, 19-year-old Suha and 22-year-old Lina – were not killed by Israel but were murdered by fellow Palestinians, probably in some perverse Islamic “honor killing.”

They were found dead on Monday, each with multiple stab wounds. In February, three unrelated woman were killed within a 24-hour period in the Gaza Strip. At the time, there were concerns that vigilante “Islamic morality” groups were behind the murders.



Canada announced yesterday that it is resuming the granting of direct aid to the Palestinian Authority after it suspended aid in 2006 following Hamas’s formation of a government.

Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay said in a statement: “Given the commitment of the new Palestinian government to renounce violence, recognition of Israel and commitment to agreements signed previously, including opportunities to move the peace process forward, Canada will offer assistance to the new Palestinian government.”

MacKay said the money would be “tracked” to make sure it wasn’t misused.

Canada was the first country to announce the suspension of direct aid to the Palestinian government in 2006 after the victory of Hamas in the legislative elections.

Senior Hamas leader and former Palestinian Authority foreign minister Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar yesterday unveiled a number of documents seized last month from the PA security apparatuses which he said implicated a number of former PA officials and Fatah leaders in embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars from PA money. He said Fatah had “stolen the international aid money meant for the Palestinian people.”



Sources tell me that radicals from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party have in the past few days organized a new terrorist cell in the northern West Bank to commit attacks against Israel. The group will be called the Abu Ammar Brigades.

The move comes a few days after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert granted an amnesty to the senior leadership of Fatah’s declared military wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, after they signed a document pledging to refrain from terrorism.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has carried out dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli civilians since it was established by Yasser Arafat after he launched his Intifada in the fall of 2000.

Arafat was also widely known among Palestinians as Abu Ammar, and the new terror group is apparently named in his “honor”.



Palestinian security forces in Ramallah assaulted the children of former Fatah Secretary-General Marwan Barghouti, the Al-Hayat al-Jadida newspaper reported yesterday.

The Palestinian Authority launched an investigation into the alleged attack on Monday night of Qassam and Ruba Barghouti by members of Mahmoud Abbas’s Presidential Guard.

The incident is said to have taken place when a Presidential Guard patrol stopped Ruba Barghouti’s car as she was driving home from the Bir Zeit University.

Rafik al-Husseini, Abbas’s chief of staff, visited the family home later on Monday night and promised a thorough, speedy, inquiry into the matter.

Marwan Barghouti is serving multiple life terms in Israel for the murder of Israeli civilians and of a Greek monk who was mistaken for an orthodox Jew. In spite of this some in the international community and on the Israeli left have suggested that Barghouti should be released and enter Palestinian politics. A few in the media have even compared him to Nelson Mandela, which is of course a grave insult to Mandela.

-- Tom Gross



Israel pays Haniya’s salary
Funds transferred by Jewish state to Palestinian Authority used by Prime Minister Fayyad to pay wages of government workers, including dismissed Hamas ministers
By Ronny Shaked
Yediot Ahronot
July 24, 2007


When Israel decided to unfreeze $600 million it owed the Palestinian Authority, it did not intend for the money to be used to fill the bank account of former Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.

After receiving the funds from Israel and additional aid from the United States and European countries, the Palestinian Finance Ministry decided to pay the monthly salaries of government members, including dismissed Hamas ministers and the group’s representatives in the Legislative Council.

Each of these officials received on Monday NIS 12,000 (about $2,836) from Palestinian Prime Minister and Finance Minister Salam Fayyad’s treasury. One of the people to receive this sum was former Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar, one of Hamas’ most radical members.

Young Fatah members slammed the move, saying that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was “using double standards against Hamas – he declared war on them, but pays their wages and helps them stabilize their government in Gaza.”



Syria occupies Lebanon. Again.
A land grab proportionally equivalent to a foreign power occupying Arizona.
By Bret Stephens
The Wall Street Journal
July 24, 2007


As of this minute, Syria occupies at least 177 square miles of Lebanese soil. That you are now reading about it for the first time is as much a scandal as the occupation itself.

The news comes by way of a fact-finding survey of the Lebanese-Syrian border just produced by the International Lebanese Committee for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, an American NGO that has consultative status with the U.N. Because of the sensitivity of the subject, the authors have requested anonymity and have circulated the report only among select government officials and journalists. But its findings cannot be ignored.

In meticulous detail – supplemented by photographs, satellite images, archival material and Lebanese military maps predating Syria’s 1976 invasion (used as a basis of comparison with Syria’s current positions) – the authors describe precisely where and how Lebanon has been infiltrated. In the area of the village of Maarboun, for instance, the authors observed Syrian military checkpoints a mile inside Lebanon. In the Birak al-Rassass Valley, they photographed Syrian anti-aircraft batteries. On the outskirts of the village of Kossaya they found a heavily fortified camp belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, in violation of U.N. resolutions and Lebanese demands.

This is a story to which I can contribute my own testimony. In May 2005 I paid a visit to Lebanon, just a month after Syria had announced that it had fully withdrawn its 14,000 troops from Lebanon in compliance with Resolution 1559. The rumor in Beirut was that a company of 200 or so elite Syrian soldiers remained encamped within Lebanon near the Druze village of Deir al-Ashaer. I decided to have a look. After a long drive over rutted roads, I found it.

Or rather, what I found was a hillside outpost that I was able to enter without crossing any apparent international border. The man in charge was a Syrian intelligence officer who “invited” me into a sweltering tent while he phoned his commanders for instruction. After a few tense minutes of silence with the soldiers inside, the officer reappeared, explained that the camp was 50 yards inside Syrian territory, and ordered me to go. From there I went to the village, where the mayor insisted the camp was several hundred yards inside Lebanon.

Who was right? Inclined as I was to believe the mayor, it was hard to sort out contending claims over remote parcels of land. A week later, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced the U.N. had “verified all [Syrian military units] had withdrawn, including [from] the border area.” It seemed that was the end of the story.

I should have known then that anything “verified” by the U.N. must be checked at least twice. I should have known, too, that anything to which Mr. Annan devoted his personal attention would inevitably become worse. Last September, Mr. Annan paid a visit to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad after the latter had declared he would treat any attempt by the U.N. to deploy peacekeepers along the Lebanese-Syrian border as a “hostile act.” To defuse the impasse, Mr. Annan simply accepted Mr. Assad’s assurances that Syria would police its border and prevent arms smuggling. “I think it can happen,” said the diplomat at a press conference. “It may not be 100%, but it will make quite a lot of difference if the government puts in place the measures the government has discussed with me.”

What happened, predictably, was the opposite. In May, Fatah al-Islam, a terrorist group whose leadership was imported from Damascus, attacked Lebanese army outposts outside the Palestinian refugee camps of Nahr El-Bared and Biddawi, causing a bloody standoff that continues till this day. In June, current Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a report citing numerous instances of arms smuggling from Syria to Hizbullah and the PFLP. Yesterday, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah boasted that he once again has missiles that can reach Tel Aviv – missiles he could only have obtained via Syria. Israel confirms his claims.

Mr. Ban’s report is notable for its clarity and seriousness. Taken together with the border report, it paints an alarming picture. Though the land grabs are small affairs individually, they collectively add up to an area amounting to about 4% of Lebanese soil – in U.S. terms, the proportional equivalent of Arizona. Of particular note is that the area of Syrian conquest dwarves that of the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms. The farms, which Israel seized from Syria in 1967 and which amount to an area of about 12 square miles, are claimed by Hizbullah as belonging to Lebanon – a useful pretext for it to continue its “resistance” against an Israeli occupation that ended seven years ago.

Needless to say, Hizbullah – which purports to fight for Lebanese sovereignty – makes no similar claims against Syria. For his part, Mr. Assad refuses to agree to a demarcation of his border with Lebanon, just as he refuses to open an embassy in Beirut. The ambiguity serves him well: He can seize Lebanese territory without anyone appearing to take notice, supply terrorist camps without quite harboring the terrorists, and funnel arms to Hizbullah at will – all without abandoning the fantasy of “Greater Syria” encompassing Lebanon, the Golan Heights and Israel itself.

It would, of course, be nice to see the Arab world protest this case of illegal occupation, given its passions about the subject. It would also be nice to see the media report this story as sedulously as it has the controversy of the Shebaa Farms. Don’t hold your breath on either score. In the meantime, the only countries in a position to help Lebanon are France and the U.S. They could strike a useful blow by closing their embassies in Damascus until such time as Damascus opens an embassy – with all that it implies – in Beirut.

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