|Israel Resource Review
||4th April, 2003
Fighing a US Policy of a Road
Map "Not Open to Negotiation"
Sure, at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
convention they applauded Colin Powell when he said that settlement activity
should be stopped. It is natural that among the 3,000 delegates there were a
few hundred who oppose the settlements - particularly at present, when
things have to made easier for the American government, which is already caught up in the conflict with the Arab world and with Europe.
But there were many there - and these are the vast majority of the
organization's activists, as anyone who has attended a few AIPAC conventions
knows - who really and truly support the settlements. And even among them
there were some who applauded. That is how cultured people behave, even when
they hear things they don't like.
Powell is therefore advised not to be too impressed by that applause.
When AIPAC decides to fight the road map, even those who applauded in
Washington will enlist. And AIPAC should start now. After all, National
Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice is certainly not one of Israel's enemies,
and did not arbitrarily release a semi-ultimatum - not to a lobby that can
(almost) influence the outcome of the elections - that the "demands [of the
road map] are not open to negotiation." And when such a resolute statement
is made when the early cherry blossoms of the primaries are already blooming
in Washington, it is a sign that the lobby fell asleep on its watch. The
open rejoicing of a few left-wingers at the "news" that the road map is
about to be forced down our throats, perhaps even before the end of the
battles in Iraq, seems, therefore, to have some foundation.
The analysis of a few main clauses in this map of dictates makes one
ask: Why the rejoicing? Because the implementation of the map includes two
international conferences? This means the internationalization of the
conflict and that Israel's bosom buddies - like the representatives of the
Quartet - will act as judge in the dispute between us and the Palestinians!
After all, all Israeli governments, including that of the late Yitzhak
Rabin, which kept even the United States away from the Oslo talks, felt that
no good could come out of international conferences.
Another such clause is the Israeli parallel to the cessation of
terror - the freezing of the settlements: "The Israeli government will
freeze all settlement activity, including the natural growth of the
communities." It turns out, therefore, that even the U.S. has unfortunately
been dragged into this outrageous and unethical equation. It is possible to
oppose the settlements for ideological or other reasons, but for Jews in
Israel to rejoice that a document is forced on us, equating construction and
productivity - even in a disputed location - with the Palestinian terror
that has murdered over 1,000 and injured thousands more in the last 30
The "security" section of the document states that the supervising
council, which includes the U.S., Egypt and Jordan, will set up the forces
of the Palestinian state. Can Israel afford to repeat the bitter mistake,
after the lessons of the establishment of the Palestinian force following
Oslo, of putting such a critical matter in the hands of two countries that a
priori and without hesitation support every Palestinian position?
Even the following words, according to Rice, are "not open to
negotiation": "The arrangement will take special consideration of the Saudi
initiative that was accepted at the Beirut summit." The two principles of
that initiative are: 1. The full withdrawal of Israel to the 1967 lines,
including from Jerusalem; and 2. The return of the Palestinians to their
residences in Israel in accordance with United Nations Resolution 194.
Those - the right of return and the complete withdrawal from Jerusalem - are
a cause for rejoicing?
Perhaps the cause for celebration is the paragraph that calls all the
territories liberated in 1967 - including Jerusalem - "occupied territory"?
(American spokesmen, for instance, speak of all areas conquered in Iraq as
"liberated territory," with the ultimate goal being the "liberation of
Baghdad.") And what about the fact that all Israeli construction, including
in Jerusalem, is an action that "undermines trust"? Journalist David Bedein
of the Makor Rishon weekly magazine wanted to know whether the renovation of
the Hurva synagogue (bombed by the Jordanians during the 1948 War of
Independence) in Jerusalem's Old City, for example, was included in that
"Any building activity in the Old City of Jerusalem," responded the
American Embassy, "will be considered illegal construction as conceived by
U.S. foreign policy."
Another thing, take note, which is stated in the road map: "All
Israeli institutions will end incitement against the Palestinians."
The morning after the 1991 Gulf War, surely as a gesture to Israel's
obedience and restraint despite being bombarded with 39 Scud missiles,
then-secretary of state James Baker came to Israel and forced then-prime
minister Yitzhak Shamir to accept an international conference, the Madrid
conference that led to the Oslo disaster and to this murderous war of terror
that has no end.
Unlike its predecessor, which was hostile to Israel, the current
administration, which is considered friendly to Israel is for some reason in
a hurry to get moving and has unsheathed its claws at the height of the war.
Now Israel must respond resolutely: The milestones that are marked on this
"follow the rules without question" road map are liable to lead the Jewish
state into a trap that will endanger its existence. From Israel's
perspective, and not that of the U.S., Rice is correct: This road map cannot
be open to negotiation.
This piece ran in HaAretz on April 3, 2003
Nisan 1, 5763
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Abu Mazen Incorporates PLO
Terror Groups into his Cabinet
Correspondent, The Jerusalem Times,
a Palestinian Arab weekly magazine
to www.imra.org.il for
referring this article to our attention-
What we have here is a factual, matter of fact news report about how
Abu Mazen, also known as Abu Abbas, is going out of his way to include
active, armed terrorists in his cabinet]
The new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, visited Gaza Strip on
Saturday for the first time since his appointment, meeting leaders of
Palestinian movements as he works to form a Cabinet. Abbas has been
consulting with Palestinian leaders about the new cabinet he intends to form
and present in two weeks to the Parliament.
Abbas had almost three hours of talks with leaders of Hamas and Islamic
Jihad in Gaza on Sunday night. He needs at least tacit cooperation from
Muslim militants for the reforms demanded by mediators to work
Hamas political leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi described the meeting as a
"positive exchange of ideas" but said the idea of an Islamist role in
Abbas's government was not discussed. Islamic militants previously rejected
Abbas's appointment as irrelevant and vowed to continue attacks against
Israel. Hamas and Islamic Jihad - groups that have claimed responsibility
for dozens of attacks that have killed hundreds of Israelis during nearly 30
months of fighting - are opposed to negotiations with Israel.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) announced at the
end of their meeting with Abbas their decision not to join his government.
Jamil Majdalawie, PFLP's representative in Gaza, said "since the political
background of the new government is based on Oslo agreements and the
Quartet's roadmap, we informed Abbas of our decision not to join in his
The so called Quartet -made of the US, EU, UN and Russia- created a three
phase road map to end hostilities between Palestinians and Israel which
includes a Palestinian state by year 2005. The US has a final say over the
plan and has sidelined with Israel and decided to delay announcing the
roadmap until the end of the war on Iraq.
Meanwhile, The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine announced it
has no objections to join in Abbas government, however, it demanded Abbas to
create a national unity government admitting that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and
the PFLP's absence would have negative affects.
Fateh members declined to give details about their meeting with the prime
minister, and Abbas refused to answer media questions on his consultations
saying that all efforts should be concentrated on enforcing the Palestinian
right for freedom and liberation to statehood with Jerusalem as its capital.
He added, "We believe in political pluralism, that is, everyone has the
right to freedom of expression but in a modern and democratic way." "It's
important to stop the demilitarization of civil society and intervention of
security apparatuses in illegal issues," he asserted.
Arafat appointed Abbas under pressure from home and abroad for reforms.
Israel and the United States have refused to deal with the Palestinian
leader, charging that he has not done enough to stop Palestinian violence.
This article appeared in the April 3rd issue of
The Jerusalem Times
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Bring on the Inquiry:
"Peace Activists" in the Middle
East: Out of Their Depth?
Judy Lash Balint
The news that a senior Islamic Jihad terrorist, Shadi Sukiya, was captured by an elite anti-terror unit of the Israel Defense Forces while hiding out in the Jenin offices of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) did not make a ripple in the flood of coverage from the Iraqi front last week.
Just eleven days earlier, the ISM did make world headlines when Rachel Corrie, a 23 year old ISM member, was run over by an Israeli bulldozer in Rafah and died of her injuries.
Maybe the fact that a "peace" organization was found defending terrorists twice in a two-week period will factor into the inquiry called by several Washington state congressional representatives into the circumstances of Rachel Corrie's death. But don't be surprised if the revelation that two Kalashnikovs and a handgun were found along with a terrorist in the Jenin ISM office will hardly feature in the search for the truth about Rachel Corrie.
Only one thing is certain about the circumstances surrounding the death of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) protestor Rachel Corrie: she died in Rafah, on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip.
But is Israel responsible for her death, or do the doctors at the Arab hospital where she was taken still alive after the accident bear any responsibility? What about the ISM that organizes protests in a closed military zone and harbors known terrorists in their field offices? How she died, exactly where she passed her last moments and who should take the blame for Rachel Corrie's death are questions that demand answers.
The congressional inquiry called for by Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) will have to sort it all out, but the inconsistencies in the eyewitness testimonies raise doubts about the simplistic conclusions already being drawn.
By all accounts, Rachel Corrie was one of a group of protestors attempting to disrupt the work of two IDF bulldozers leveling ground to detonate explosives in an area rife with terrorist activity. The bulldozers moved to a different area to avoid the protestors, and Corrie became separated from the group. Some of the agitators stood with a banner, while Corrie picked up a bullhorn and yelled fruitlessly at the driver encased in the small cabin of the 'dozer. This went on for several hours on the afternoon of March 16. It's the kind of activity favored by the young pro-Palestinian types who make up the ISM.
There wasn't enough action for Corrie. According to a fellow Evergreen State College student, Joseph Smith, 21, who was at the site, Corrie dropped her bullhorn and sat down in front of one of the bulldozers. She fully expected that the driver would stop just in front of her. "We were horribly surprised," Smith told me by phone from Rafah the day after the incident. "They had been careful not to hurt us. They'd always stopped before," he said.
As the 'dozer plowed forward heaping up a pile of dirt and sand, Corrie scrambled up the pile to sit on the top, screaming slogans at the driver. Smith says she lost her footing as the bulldozer made the earth move beneath her feet. "She got pulled down," he says. "The driver lost sight of her and continued forward. Then, without lifting the blade he reversed and Rachel was underneath the mid-section of the 'dozer-she wasn't run over by the tread."
Capt. Jacob Dellal of the IDF spokesperson's office confirms what Smith says about the driver: he lost sight of Rachel. Inside the cab some 8' off the ground, visibility is very restricted. The protestors should have known that and kept within the driver's line of sight to avoid getting hurt, Dellal asserts.
The strange thing about this part of the story is the discrepancy over the photos given to the press and posted on several pro-Arab websites.
As Smith describes to me his version of events, I ask about the series of photos printed in an Arab newspaper I picked up that morning in Jerusalem's Old City. "They aren't of the actual incident," he states firmly. "We'd been there for three hours already, we were tired-we already had a lot of pictures."
Yet these are the pictures used on the ISM website, www.palsolidarity.org to document the before and after of Rachel's interaction with the bulldozer. The same pictures are featured as a photo-essay on the site of Electronic Intifada, (http://electronicIntifada.net/v2/article1248.shtml) where they're even attributed to Joseph Smith.
There are several shots of the back of a woman with a blond ponytail facing a bulldozer. She's standing in an open field, wearing an orange fluorescent jacket, holding a megaphone.
Even Michael Shaikh, the ISM media coordinator, won't confirm that these are pictures of Corrie taken the day she died. "I'm fairly sure" they're of the incident, he tells me by phone from his Bethlehem office. In the same conversation, Shaikh asks me not to contact Joe, Greg or Tom, the Rafah ISM eyewitnesses again directly: "They're still in trauma…"
The pictures should have raised all kinds of questions to photo editors, but all the major newspapers and wire services chose to run the photos regardless. If there are pictures of Rachel before and after, why didn't the same photographer consider it important to document the act of the bulldozer running her down?
Where is the mound of earth Rachel clambered up and was buried in? The woman shown lying bleeding from her nose and mouth is lying on a flat piece of ground, and she's not covered in sand.
So Corrie was either knocked down by the 'dozer, or fell in front of it. ISMers assume that she was intentionally run over, but there's no proof that was the driver's intent.
The real issue is was Rachel alive when she was taken by Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance to Martyr Mohammed Yousef An Najar Hospital? In other words, where did she die? Were adequate efforts made to save her in the hospital?
Again, there are conflicting stories. Joseph Smith tells me in a telephone interview the day after the tragedy, "She died in the hospital or on the way to the hospital." CNN also reported that Rachel died there. ("Israeli bulldozer runs over 23-year-old woman." CNN, Monday, March 17, 2003)
In his account posted on www.arabia.com,
ISMer Tom Dale has a
slightly different story. On March 17 he writes: "I ran for an
ambulance, she was gasping and her face was covered in blood
from a gash cutting her face from lip to cheek. She was showing
signs of brain hemorrhaging. She died in the ambulance a few
minutes later of massive internal injuries."
But Dr. Ali Mussa, director of Martyr Mohammed Yousef An Najar Hospital where Corrie was taken isn't so clear. On the day of the event, Dr. Mussa tells AP Gaza reporter Ibrahim Barzak that Rachel died in the hospital. ("American Killed in Gaza" AP. March 16, 2003)
One week later, in a telephone interview with me, Dr. Mussa states definitively that Rachel died at the scene, "in the soil," as he puts it. "The main cause of death was suffocation," Mussa asserts. There were no signs of life, no heartbeat or pulse when she arrived at the hospital, he says. Mussa states that Rachel's ribs were fractured, a fact determined by X-rays. (Is it normal procedure to X-ray a dead body?)
Doesn't quite jive with the photo essay on the pages of the Electronic Intifada website for March 16, 2003. (Photo story: Israeli bulldozer driver murders American peace activist by Nigel Parry and Arjan El Fassed, The Electronic Intifada, 16 March 2003. http://electronicIntifada.net/v2/article1248.shtml)
A caption under one photo of doctors leaning over a female patient reads: "Rachel arrived in the Emergency Room at 5:05 p.m and doctors scrambled to save her. By 5:20 p.m, she was gone. Ha'aretz newspaper reported that Dr. Ali Mussa, a doctor at Al Najar, stated that the cause of death was "skull and chest fractures." Dr. Mussa told me he was one of the treating physicians-yet he alone maintains that Rachel was dead before she was put into the ambulance. To further complicate matters, on that same website, a report from the Palestine Monitor is cited. Here, the writer says that Rachel fractured "both her arms, legs and skull. She was transferred to hospital, where she later died."
Just who is Dr. Ali Mussa? Clearly a man in favor with the Palestine Authority hierarchy. Dr. Mussa's views are aired on the official website of the PA's Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation: (January 27, 2003)
There, Dr. Mussa accuses Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's "terrorist government" of "deliberately killing Palestinian children in Rafah."
A few days after the incident, ISM Media Coordinator Michael Shaikh tells me by phone from Rafah that three ISMers, Tom, Alice and Greg were in the ambulance with Rachel. "She died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital," says Michael. But Greg Schnabel, 28, who is quoted in numerous wire service and newspaper stories, never says he witnessed the death of his comrade in the ambulance. In his account published a few days later on the ISM website, he carefully states that she died twenty minutes after arriving at the hospital.
What happened to Rachel's body after her death? Depends who you ask. Dr. Mussa says it was kept for 24 hours at the hospital before a Red Crescent ambulance transported it "to the US Embassy in Tel Aviv," via the border where an Israeli ambulance took over. Michael Shaikh says "we lost track of it (her body) after she died." Three ISMers tried to escort the body, but only one was permitted on the ambulance on the Israeli side. According to his account, the ambulance drove straight to the Israeli Forensic Institute at Abu Kabir, where an autopsy was performed. "The Israelis are trying to say she died from a blow to the head by a rock," Shaikh recounts.
Speaking about the autopsy, one of Rachel's ISM trainers, Iowa native LeAnne Clausen, a fieldworker for the Christian Peacemaker Team based in Beit Sahour, tells me: "The general sentiment within ISM is that the Israelis are trying to suggest perhaps Rachel was on drugs."
In reality, IDF spokesperson Dellal says that initial Israeli investigation results indicate that the cause of death was most likely a blow to the head and chest by a blunt object-possibly a chunk of cement dug up by the bulldozer.
In keeping with ISM sympathies, Rachel received a "shaheed" (martyr) procession in Rafah, the day after her death. But here again, there's confusion between reality and photo opp. Some accounts noted that her coffin draped in an American flag was paraded through the streets. Yet a picture on the site of her college town's peace movement, the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace (www.omjp.org/rachelphotos.html) shows Arab women holding a coffin covered by a Palestinian flag with the caption: Palestinian funeral for Rachel.
Confusion and obfuscation seem to be a trademark of the ISM. Last May, a number of ISMers raced past Israeli soldiers into the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where dozens of Palestinian terrorists had holed up to evade capture by the IDF outside. After an agreement was reached, the ISM members refused to leave the church, holding up the solution. Then they charged that they were mistreated by clergy, who claimed the ISMers desecrated the church by smoking and drinking alcohol.
Another revealing ISM action took place shortly before the Bethlehem incident, when a number of protestors managed to make their way past IDF barricades into Yasser Arafat's Ramallah compound to "protect" the terrorist leader.
Last week's Rafah activity falls into the same category of ISM defense of Arab terrorists. IDF efforts in Rafah are concentrated on preventing the flow of arms and explosives over the border from Egypt into the terrorist's dens that riddle the area. Less than a week after Rachel died defending terrorists, Israeli tanks moved into Rafah, surrounded several houses, and arrested two Hamas members. IDF spokesperson, Dellal calls Rafah "the most dangerous area in the West Bank and Gaza, and decries the "provocative protests" of ISM. "There's nothing wrong with civil disobedience, but these people crossed the line of what was safe for everyone," Dellal says.
So, while the memorial services laud and remember Rachel Corrie as a "peace activist" "murdered by Israeli occupation forces," the truth lies elsewhere.
An Israeli bulldozer injured Corrie as she tried to prevent it doing its job of protecting Israeli civilians, but she was alive when she was taken to An Najar Hospital, according to at least three eyewitnesses. Only Dr. Mussa, a man intent on accusing Israel of child killing, claims otherwise. None of Rachel's comrades have stated they were with her in the hospital when she died.
The Corrie episode in Rafah may end up being ranked with the "murder" of 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura by Israeli forces in a firefight at nearby Netzarim in September 2000. Months after the event, the official IDF inquiry and a German TV report revealed that there was little doubt that al-Dura was hit by Palestinian fire. An independent French journalist, Gerard Huber, claims that the entire incident was fabricated for press consumption. ('Contre-expertise d'une mise en scene,' Editions Raphael, Paris).
And all the while, the ISM continues to encourage misguided young people like Rachel Corrie from around the world to spend time in the Middle East providing cover for terrorists.
Bring on the inquiry.
Judy Lash Balint is a Jerusalem based writer and author of
Jerusalem Diaries: In Tense Times (Gefen)
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Interview with The Director of IDF Intelligence: " . . .
Iraq Has Non-Conventional Weapons"
Military Correspondent, Yediot Aharonot
-- Where is Saddam Hussein? Is he alive or dead? What became of his sons? Where is he hiding the missiles and launchers? What are the "sensitive things" that Saddam's associates in Baghdad handed over to Assad's associates in Syria?
"I don't know," "maybe," "probably." These are the words that IDF
Intelligence Director Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash repeats again and
again. The director of Military Intelligence does not know? His nuanced
phrasing suggest that he knows more than he wants to say, beyond the
situation assessments that he provides to the senior echelons of the
security establishment. On one subject he is clear and succinct: Saddam
Hussein, the concealment wizard, has non-conventional weapons. Have some
patience, and they will be found.
Question: Maj. Gen. Zeevi-Farkash, what is your interpretation of the pictures
that we saw this week on Iraqi television? Iraqi television promises a
speech from Saddam Hussein, and the information minister appears in his
stead. Saddam's close bodyguard, who never leaves his side, pops up all of
a sudden behind the information minister. Pictures of Saddam and his two
sons are shown, but their voices are not heard.
"I see that they are under pressure. In the military arena, since the
middle of the week we have been seeing a break in the defenses around
Baghdad, critical blows to the Republican Guards and armored divisions.
People here did not really notice that the Iraqis abandoned the second most
important area in the country, the oil fields of Rumeila in the north.
That is a sign that things are breaking down. Because of the pressure,
they moved the elite Nebuchadnezzar and Adnan divisions away from Tikrit,
Saddam's stronghold, and brought more infantry divisions from the regular
army to defend Baghdad."
Question: Who is holding Baghdad today?
"We don't know. Probably parts of the leadership close to Saddam
Hussein, and maybe Saddam himself, if he is alive. There is no question
that Saddam and his two sons, Udai and Kusai, have not yet managed to prove
that they are alive."
Question: Let's get back to the pictures that show Saddam Hussein speaking, after
the beginning of the offensive.
"Regarding Saddam Hussein at least, the assessment is that it was him,
in a taped performance, despite the fact that here, too, there are
exceptional signs: He usually speaks standing up. The two speeches he gave
after the attempt to assassinate him were given sitting down. It is likely
that he cannot stand. Saddam also never speaks with a military beret.
This time he wore one. In the first speech he read from a notebook. He
always spoke without glasses, and looked right at the camera.
"Every speech is printed for him in large letters. And when he speaks,
there are usually two eagle emblems on either side. After the
assassination attempt the eagles disappeared. In the second appearance
they tried to use a crooked symbol. You could see that it was improvised.
We even saw that behind him was a sheet that was quickly sewn to serve as a
backdrop. I have not seen such a backdrop in the past. There is usually a
flower arrangement next to him. It too was absent this time.
"There is a string of indications that they organized things in a hurry
in order to prove that Saddam is alive. It is certainly possible that he
is wounded, and it is also possible that his condition has worsened. The
fact is that for more than a week he has not appeared."
Question: And his two sons?
"They have not appeared at all."
Question: We saw pictures of them around Saddam's table.
"We did not hear their voices."
Question: If Saddam is wounded and his sons do not exist, who will run the battle
"We think that perhaps some of his associates, because apparently not
all of them were killed, and those people who are very loyal to him, who
understand that in any case they will pay with their lives."
Question: If you are asked for your assessment, as director of Military
Intelligence-is Saddam alive or dead?
"I must say with all duemodesty that I do not know. If I have to guess, I would say that there is a greater possibility that his sons are dead, or
that they cannot function."
Question: Is it still possible that we will see Saddam in an appearance that will
convince everyone beyond any doubt that he is alive and functioning?
"If he did not appear on Tuesday, despite the fact that they promised,
and despite the fact that the matter is so significant-to convince the army
and the people to join the jihad-I do not think that we will be seeing him
soon. There is a connection between everything that happened in the middle
of the week, the indications that the Americans are advancing well, and
Saddam's absence. His palaces are under attack, his offices are under
attack. The Republican Guards are crying for help. Something happened.
"If he has not appeared until now, we must relate with skepticism to the
claim that he is alive and functioning. It is hard for me to guess to what
degree he can accurately assess the situation in which is currently finds
himself. If the break is real, he will use tapes and will not appear.
Even if he is planning a surprise, or the use of chemical weapons, he will
not do it through the media.
"But there is a possibility that he is trying to do something else: To
find shelter and disappear. We might be closer than ever to the time when
Saddam will move from a strategy of survival to a strategy of suicide or
Question: For how much time can he disappear inside Iraq without being found?
"I imagine that he knows Iraq better than foreigners."
Question: How many people are in his close circle?
"In the closest group, between 30 and 40. In the wider group, between
70 and 100."
Question: What good will disappearing be for him?
"Such a strategy has advantages for Saddam. His loyalists will continue
to do their job out of their fear of Saddam until the coalition forces
purify certain sections of Baghdad.
"The demise of the army and of civilians will continue when Saddam
cannot or is not interested in showing a sign of life. On the other hand,
there are also disadvantages for him, because in the end people will see
that he is gone and that will affect their actions towards the Americans."
Question: Where can Saddam disappear to?
"He can disappear into the tunnel system that apparently exists
underneath his palaces. He could be smuggled to one of the areas in the
north or center of the country. It is possible that he prepared his escape
route ahead of time. We know of at least 50-70 palaces, houses, and sites
that belong to his family.
"But once again, on the other hand, it is possible that his image will
not allow him to do this, and he will want to fight to the end. That is
assuming that he was not wounded. If he was wounded, it is possible that
he has already decided to initiate a few things that he thinks will cause a
Question: Like chemical weapons?
"There is a very problematic point here. Until the assassination
attempt, at 4:20 a.m. two weeks ago Thursday, Saddam Hussein's strategy was
survival, his goal was to ensure that they would not find any
non-conventional weapons: hide them, lie about them, as long as they do not
find anything. That also means taking the weapons he has, breaking them
down into small parts, and hiding them.
"And then the war started. Now it is not simple for him to take the
same weapons that he worked so hard to hide, and use them all of a sudden.
Perhaps the Americans are already in some of those places. Perhaps he
cannot reach them."
Question: The Americans went to war in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein and to
find chemical and biological weapons. What will happen if Saddam
disappears and the weapons are not found?
"Patience. Only two weeks have gone by since the beginning of the war.
I must compliment the Americans on the way there are operating. I have no
doubt that in the end they will find it. I look at the report from the
chief of the inspection team, Blix. Only after the war started did he
remember to reveal that there were open questions."
Question: Questions that concern you?
"Absolutely. They did not do a good job counting some of the el-Hussein
missiles (which are capable of reaching Israel-S.P.) that were destroyed.
Fourteen missiles were apparently not destroyed, and neither were between
two and eight mobile launchers.
"There is something here that is going unnoticed: Saddam's policy was to
conceal things. And when you are concealing, you are not training units
but instead taking the weapons apart and hiding them all over the huge
country. Perhaps it is also preferable for him not to pull out the
chemical weapons, because he has heard the French threat that should he use
such weapons they will join the war."
Question: Let us say that the Americans do not manage to find the hidden weapons
by themselves. What then?
"If the picture that is now coming together turns out to be accurate,
this means that the battle for Baghdad has been decided, and this is the
beginning of the point of transition from which we will be able to see how
this war will end. The next stage will be critical: Guaranteeing that
Saddam and his associates are arrested or killed, and immediately
thereafter finding all of the people involved in developing weapons of mass
destruction so that they will point out where they are located."
Question: Are you talking about the scientists?
"Scientists, and part of the special Republican Guards. The second they
find them, and the fear of Saddam is gone, they will reach the weapons."
Question: Did the inspectors even manage to find something that we did not know
"Yes. Before the inspections we did not know about the Sumud-2 missiles
that can reach a range of 600 km with a 300 kg warhead. We also did not
know about the pilotless aircraft with the range of 500 km. There were
enough things that we did not know about."
Understanding the Israeli Soldier
Question: Try to get into Saddam's head, or the head of whoever it is that is
leading the defensive battle for Baghdad in his name. How will they stop
the Americans from getting in?
"Saddam has already asked all of the civilians to prepare trenches and
throw grenades and firebombs. As far as he is concerned, every resident
of Baghdad is responsible for fighting for his own home. It is interesting
that both sides believe that the war's fate will be decided in the battle
Question: Why did the Americans believe that they would be greeted with flowers in
"This was not our assessment. Ours was that there would be combat, and
that in the end the Americans will be able to win. We have known the
Middle East for long enough to be able to make these assessments. By the
way, I did not hear an American assessment that they would be greeted with
flowers and rice. It can be assumed that their assessment was that the
resistance would be lighter, as it was in Afghanistan."
Question: Will Baghdad be the Iraqis' Masada?
"I am not sure. Entering Baghdad is not the only possible scenario.
There is the option of imposing a closure, there is the option of blockade.
Assassinations. Special operations. The Americans are testing the
ground. They are more experienced now than they were two weeks ago."
Question: You are using terms familiar to us from home: closure, blockade,
"I now hear them in the American media. There is gradually more
understanding for the soldier at the Israeli checkpoint who cannot tell the
difference between an ambulance and a dangerous car. After the Americans
lost five soldiers in Najaf, the rules on opening fire changed and then
changed again, because innocent civilians were also killed. The Americans
learn lessons quickly."
Question: When the Americans prepare for a closure or a blockade and to carry out
targeted killings, it is easy to see that they got a few tips from us.
"I cannot get into our relations with other countries."
Question: Still, there is an Israeli angle to this war.
"I hope that this angle stays as it is now, without our involvement.
But this conflict has an effect: the US went to war without international
legitimacy. Because there are those who tie the Iraqi issue to the
Palestinian issue and to the implementation of Security Council
resolutions, it is possible that we will have to pay part of the price. We
already see the issues related to the 'road map.'"
Question: We heard this week from President Bush that he intends to present the
"road map" without allowing either side to make changes. Can you live with
"I suggest that we be careful. As I recall, they said that they would
be willing to accept reservations. This 'road map' has many dangers for
the State of Israel, but there is also a chance of something good
happening. Assuming that the 'road map' reflects the realization of
President Bush's vision, we can deal with it."
A Chance for Abu Mazen
Question: How do you explain Yasser Arafat's silence, the fact that he has not
expressed support for Saddam Hussein?
"He understands the war's implications for the Palestinian Authority.
That is what led him to give in to the Legislative Council when it
established that the prime minister would share Arafat's authorities.
Arafat is the one who weakened the system over the past two-and-a-half
years of the failed Intifada."
Question: What is his relationship with Abu Mazen?
"I think it is 'respect him and suspect him' from both sides. I would
like to see how the 'founding fathers' syndrome' will affect the conflict,
the argument and debate between them."
Question: What does Bashar Assad want? He is the only Arab leader who is
supporting Saddam Hussein and provoking the Americans.
"It will soon be the third anniversary of his assumption of power, and
this is the first time that he is facing a significant experience, one
which could get Syria onto the 'axis of evil.' Bashar Assad is brilliantly
leading Syria in that direction. It is possible that he is doing it
because of the hatred of the West that he suckled at home. He cannot
overcome that impulse.
"I think that something happened this week that he could have avoided,
and I mean the smuggling of weapons into Iraq. Syria has become Iraq's
only oxygen line. It provided Iraq with night-vision equipment, as
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld announced, and apparently also equipment for
the T-72 tanks of the Republican Guard.
"We have been dealing with this issue for many months. Last summer,
until October or November, we saw that suspicious things were moving from
Iraq to Syria under the auspices of central figures in Syria and Iraq."
Question: With the regime's knowledge?
"We believe that if those people who handled them are so central, then
the regime apparently does know. If we knew what they passed, that would
be excellent. There is no doubt that they passed things they were trying
"At first we suspected that some of this equipment went to Hizbullah,
through Iran. But the more time that passes, the option strengthened that
this is equipment from Iraq to Syria and we don't know where it is stored.
In any case, I think that Bashar Assad's actions endanger his country.
Syria has apparently not internalized the game rules after September 11,
that terror is not legitimate just as threatening another country is not,
or having non-conventional weapons.
"After being reprimanded by the United States, Bashar must decide
whether he is going to continue on this path. We have t be sensitive to
what happens and not summarily state that he is on a steep slope from which
he will not return."
Question: Assad said this week that Israel is a danger to Syria.
"So he said it. While words do have some weight, I look at actions.
The result of the war in Iraq will have a great effect on Syria: if the
war goes on for long and ends with a less than decisive victory, he will
have to decide."
Sleeps Two-Three Hours a Night
Question: Are you working harder since the war began?
Question: How many hours a night?
"In the last two weeks I think there were days I slept two-three hours.
We hold intelligence assessments two-three times a day, in which we try to
understand the picture. At stake are issues that concern our life in the
State of Israel. Missile fire or the question of the Iraqi air force's
abilities are critical issues, ones that preoccupy us. We have to be
certain that what we say and present to the decision-makers is of the
Question: When you saw the missile that landed in Kuwait this week, did you think
"Yes. And there were incidents during this period, having to do with
information, that we could not rest until we refuted them and ruled them out."
Question: For example?
"Surface-to-surface missiles in western Iraq, for example. We have to
use all the means we have to ensure that if we say 'there are none,' or
'there are,' that this is well based."
Question: Are there or aren't there missiles in western Iraq?
"So far we haven't found any."
Question: So why are we still carrying around our gas mask kits?
"Because there are still some sites about which there are suspicions
that missiles and non-conventional weapons are hidden there. Until we
utterly rule this out, we cannot say that the danger has passed."
Question: Would you say that since the war began the danger of missiles has shrunken?
"With every day that passes, the American presence in western Iraq
further decreases the chances that it will be possible to fire missiles at
Israel from there. The ability to launch missile was greater and it is
shrinking, but it is still not zero."
Question: A question that everybody asks themselves: how
is it possible that intelligence networks all over the world
were unable, to this day, to locate and kill Saddam Hussein?
"Tyrannical regimes have a special defense layer for the dictator and
for the small group around him. The special economic conditions that the
higher-ups enjoy, creates great dependence. The moment he disappears, the
benefits disappear. Like with Mussolini, Stalin and Hitler, fear and
terrorization rule and people are willing to give their lives for him.
"You also have to remember that fortunately, Iraq does not border Israel
or the US, and our intelligence services cannot get deep inside. The
intelligence needed to kill requires a great investment of resources and
manpower. Such precise intelligence gathering could not have been obtained
in the year and a half that passed since the terror attacks in New York and
since war was declared on Saddam."
This interview ran in Yediot Aharonot on
April 4, 2003
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Cooperation Between the US and
Israel: How to Treat the Phenomenon of Suicide
The Americans have recently requested and
received Israeli assistance in dealing with suicide bombers.
The efficient system of cooperation between the two countries, which was
established here before the war on Iraq, made things easier. All General
Charles Simpson's people had to do was walk a few steps from the joint
headquarters in the Kirya, say, to the office of Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.
Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, who coordinates the work of the IDF on the subject of
suicide bombers, and get all the relevant material from there.
The Prime Minister's Bureau followed developments with satisfaction. No
one there rejoices over the deaths of American and British soldiers in
Iraq, but there is quite a bit of the kind of satisfaction that is felt by
someone when they are suddenly found to be in the right, over the glow of a
huge explosion. "It will be interesting to see how the British react, for
example," a senior state official said yesterday, "the next time we have a
mishap of mistaken fire on a suspicious vehicle at a roadblock."
There is a difference in principle between the plague of suicide bombers
that has raged in Israel over the past few years and the phenomenon that
coalition forces are encountering in Iraq. Here, most suicide bombers go
for civilian targets, in the heart of a civilian population. In Iraq, they
blow themselves up at military troops. The profile of the suicide bomber
put together here is not relevant to them, but the way to spot a suicide
attacker on his way to attack, how to deal with roadblocks, overpowering a
suicide bomber or isolating him and all the relevant operations connected
with this phenomenon that the IDF and GSS compiled in the past few years
can certainly be helpful to what is happening now in Iraq.
Sixteen planning teams worked hard to prepare a plan of operations for
the war in Iraq for the Pentagon. You can do that when you're an empire. At
the end of the process, the top officials sat down to pick out the best
plans and create one winner out of all of them. After that, it turned out
that they had to fix it while on the move. So, for example, the Americans
had originally intended to use massive air strikes and make do with 50,000
soldiers who would head for Baghdad and gather the spoils. In consultations
Pentagon officials held, it turned out that the plan was too optimistic.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, freshly demobilized from the IDF at the
time, stayed at the Washington Institute and was summoned for a few
consultations. Mofaz too, like other experts, recommended a great increase
in the number of soldiers (from 50,000 to a quarter million), to combine
air strikes with broad ground operations, to attack Baghdad from many
directions and be careful not to wind up in a death trap inside the city.
In the end, the Americans are doing precisely that.
They were warned by no few local experts not to rely too much on air
strikes. The Iraqi regime is much less sensitive to such attacks, the
long-suffering population is used to them, the pilots will attack a lot of
desert, raise a great deal of dust but not get much closer to the goal. The
key is on the ground, in the Republican Guard camps and the regime's bunkers.
It took the Americans a few days, but they got the message and got used
to the situation. The attempt to wipe out the regime in one fell swoop on
the first night did not succeed (or so it seems). The "shock and awe"
attack was reduced in scope and focused, the ground forces were reinforced
and the ground operation began, combined with an air operation. The
improvement in the weather and the Fourth Division's anticipated arrival
(they were not permitted to attack from Turkey) will decide things within
the next few days. [ . . . ]
The struggle over "the day after" is at its height. Jerusalem and
Washington (two foci), London, New York and Ramallah are the poles of this
war. The American administration is torn between two approaches: a minority
coalition of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, backed up by George Tenet,
that will push for the road map, as Tony Blair would prefer. Opposite them
are the vice president's hawks, the Zionists in the Pentagon, Congressional
delegates, Jewish money and the president, who have already buried the
shabby road map and will not care if they push Blair and Powell too into
the same mass grave.
The only person who gained anything this week in this whole affair,
meanwhile, was Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. When Binyamin Netanyahu met
with Amir Peretz, Shalom sat in Condoleezza Rice's office and looked at the
opening inner door, from which the president himself leaped out. With
cowboy boots and a broad smile, Bush Jr. made Condi get up from her chair,
sat down in it and had a half-hour conversation with Shalom, during which
Bush was the main interlocutor. Outside turned the rotors of the
presidential helicopter, which was to take him to an appearance in front of
soldiers in Philadelphia, but Bush (who, during the conversation, had
promised Israel's security "in any event") had been briefed and knew that
an investment in Shalom would pay off.
The new foreign minister was perceived in Washington as a "big guy" who
brought quite a bit of political strength to his position, along with a
strong desire to acquire international standing. The belief that Shalom
could be courted by Washington as it tries to slip the "road map" somehow
into Ariel Sharon's sensitive stomach is getting stronger quickly.
A few weeks ago, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon asked his former bureau
chief, Uri Shani, to come back home (to the bureau). Shani, happy and
lighthearted in his new job, refused. What does he need that trouble now
for? In any other given situation, the goings-on in the Prime Minister's
Bureau would make fat headlines. Two central facts allow those close to the
situation to control the level of the conflict's flame: the war in Iraq on
one side and the continued successful developments, despite everything, on
On a third side, Sharon's bureau is a medical miracle. Never was so
little done by so few with such surprising success rates. True, nothing
really works, no one is really bright, but the business is alive,
functioning and sometimes even kicking. That has to do with Sharon's
personality, to his fairly organized management, to his easygoing nature,
his relative calm and the strange tendency of the prime minister and most
of his assistants not to panic over anything. Not when they shouldn't, and
also not when they should.
The bureau's most serious mistake, as strange as it sounds, is the prime
minister's military secretary, Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant. He is a much-praised
officer, the leader of a commando unit, a good man, in the reasonable sense
of the term. [ . . . ] On the other hand, we can't ignore what's happening.
The prime minister's military secretary is an essential component of
authority, especially critical in a country like Israel. The military
secretary is in on all the secrets and serves as personal military
headquarters for one person, the prime minister. The post requires a
complicated set of characteristics. Gallant does not have most of them. The
way things are going right now, his performance as the unit connecting the
prime minister and the army is lacking.
The IDF is furious with him. The bureau regards him with ridicule. The
chief of staff summoned him three months ago and warned him of possible
dismissal. That's not pleasant. An investigation of the facts and witnesses
shows a problematic situation. It is not clear who is correct here, but
what is clear is that the prime minister has no full military secretary.
Gallant has gotten himself a collection of bitter enemies from almost
everywhere. They claim he earned them honestly. He claims it's a matter of
settling personal accounts. [ . . . ]
The way things are right now, the prime minister's real military
secretary is Dov Weissglass. If it didn't come from us, it would be funny.
Weisglass is many things, but a military secretary is not one of them.
True, on a good day a joke of his in Yiddish could set the mukataa walls
tumbling down, but not every brigade commander in the IDF controls the
makeup of the Nazareth District Court. The connection between the prime
minister and the military exists today via alternate and usually direct
channels. This is not healthy. [ . . . ]
This piece ran on April 4, 2003 in Maariv
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