Israel Resource Review 9th August, 2006


"We definitely perceive the resistance in Lebanon as noble Arab resistance"


The following was translated from Arabic.

ANCHOR: The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has noted that members of the Palestinian government are either being arrested or pursued by the Israelis. His declarations came in a press conference that was held in Sana'a, as he was carrying out an official visit.

MAHMOUD ABBAS: The Palestinian government members unfortunately are either being arrested or pursued. Most of them who are in the West Bank were arrested, and some of them in Gaza are wanted or were captured, and the Israeli air forces are pursuing them from one place to another.

ANCHOR: President Abbas has mentioned that the Palestinian issue is the source of all the other issues in the Middle East and the world. He called for a return to negotiations.

MR. ABBAS: The Palestinian issue is the source of all the other issues, not only in the region but in the world. And I believe that every wise and rational person believes that it is important to return to the negotiating table. But this is not for going back to what is called the negotiations process.

The 'process' takes years and will not lead to any results. What is required is that the world gets into the essence of the topic and deal with it from it roots.

I hope that this lesson has reached their hearts and minds.

ANCHOR: The Palestinian President believes that anyone who defies the occupation will get the same thing that the Palestinian people are fighting for. Abu Mazen described the resistance in Lebanon as 'noble Arab resistance'.

MR. ABBAS: The Arab people's resistance leads to the same issue. This means that anyone who defies the occupation is going to the same target and will get the same result. Therefore, we definitely perceive the resistance in Lebanon as noble Arab resistance. There is no doubt about that.

It is fighting forcefully and it gave a good example of resistance. However, in the end, other processes might appear in different directions. For instance, there is an agenda in Lebanon. If this agenda is authorized, it will deal with the Lebanese process. There isn't any corresponding Palestinian agenda, therefore this might take place after some time.

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Israel in Lebanon: Not Deciding is Also a Decision
Dr. Michael Widlanski

Most wartime leaders look for "an exit strategy," but in the case of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, many Israelis are wondering if there is an "entry strategy."

Indeed, in a striking statement that surprised reporters yesterday, Prime Minister Olmert seemed to be blaming the Israeli army for not moving earlier and more aggressively to root out terrorists shooting rockets into Israel.

"Until yesterday morning [August 7] no operative plans were presented to me to expand our military activities in Lebanon beyond where our army now stand," declared Mr Olmert in his first live news briefing with reporters since the war began.

The Israeli army (IDF) is placed in a 2-6-kilometer strip north of the Israeli border, trying to root out launchers of rockets that have struck up to 70 kilometers inside Israel, and Olmert has been under growing criticism for dragging his feet, for doing too little too late.

When asked about the IDF proposals for expanding anti-terror operations in Lebanon, Olmert, perhaps inadvertently, once again appeared to be confirming his critics claims, when he said he would present the army ideas to the cabinet tomorrow (today Wednesday-August 9).

"This is clearly a sign of growing disharmony between the government and the army," observed Oren Nahari, a commentator for Israeli Public Television, hinting that both Olmert, his fellow government ministers and army officers were trying to make their case to a critical public.

A few hours later, the IDF announced a major command shift, moving the deputy IDF chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky, an infantry officer, to oversee the decisions of Maj. Gen. Oodi Adam, a logistics specialist.

General Adam , the Northern Front commander, was officially the field commander for all Israeli land operations in Lebanon for the last month, but, in fact, he was operating like a quarterback all of whose plays were being called from the bench.

Olmert and his cabinet colleagues carefully circumscribed Adam's land operations, while IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, a career pilot and ex-air force commander, led a largely airborne approach to ending Hizballah's rocket attacks on Israel.

The decision appointing infantry officer Kaplinsky effectively removes Adam from power, and it conveys at least three messages, some of which were loud but unspoken:

  • It is a tacit admission that the war has been badly mishandled, though it tries to shift blame to Adam;
  • It signals that Israel, after on-again-off-again hesitations, may finally be moving to large infantry and armored movements in Lebanon;
  • It is part of a general tendency in the last two weeks by Prime Minister Olmert and Chief of Staff Halutz to prepare themselves for the post-war inquiries and recriminiations.

    [IMRA: "Look Chaim, I imagine that the Chief of Staff can't remove himself so he went after the Northern Commander." Israel Television millitary commentator Yoav Limor on Mabat News - 8 August, 2006]

    As Israel nears the end of four weeks of fighting along the Lebanese border and seven weeks of fighting in Gaza, Israeli decision-makers appear guided by three main principles:

  • avoidance of diplomatic sanctions;
  • avoidance of military casualties;
  • and avoidance of domestic political blame for the countless and obvious mistakes in judgment being made at the upper levels of government and the army.

    Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Israeli Army (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz have reiterated the slogan "there is no military solution to terror." They have studiously avoided setting some clear and measurable war goals that look obvious to former Israeli officials and IDF officers, including:

  • Destroying the military machine of the Iranian-financed and controlled Hizballah terror organization that has continued to strike Israel even after Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000;
  • And Stopping the daily rocket fire on Israel from Lebanon and Gaza.

    None of these goals has been met, and many Israeli analysts can scarcely hide their disgust with the government's performance.

    "I don't like offering the government advice in the middle of a war, but, as it stands today, if this is the way the war ends, then we have lost," asserted Dr. Guy Bechor, head of Middle East Studies at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

    Military commentators from the normally pro-Olmert newspaper Ha'aretz-Ze'ev Schiff, Amir Oren and Reuven Pedatzur-have sliced, sniped and bludgeoned the Government and the IDF for making almost every possible mistake.

    From 100 to 300 Hizballah rockets have assailed Israel's northern region every day for the last three and half weeks, while five or six Palestinian rockets have afflicted Israel's south, but Prime Minister Olmert has still not allowed his government to call what is happening a "war."

    The daily death toll has averaged between two to four Israelis until August 6, when 15 were killed, including 12 army reservists, struck by rocket fire and shrapnel while waiting to be bused to their army units. The number of wounded civilians in the north has averaged between 150-200 on three of the last few days of heavy rocket fire.

    Meanwhile, the Olmert Government's top ministers have been arguing with each other whether the army should move one or two kilometers into Lebanon or six kilometers into Lebanon, to the first hill ridge, or the second ridge or the Litani River.

    Publicly, Olmert and his colleagues say they want to "push Hizballah back from the border" and to regain two Israeli soldiers kidnapped from Israel to Lebanon by Hizballah and one other Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

    Privately, Defense Minister Peretz has sought approval from Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice before okaying his own army's operational ideas. Olmert himself has sent his director-general, Yoram Turbovitz, to coordinate military and diplomatic moves with the U.S., having lunch periodically with Rice's deputy, David Welch, at several of Jerusalem's downtown restuarnats.

    Indeed, both Olmert and Peretz, perhaps with State Department encouragement, had ruled out using many of the previously existing combat plans prepared by the IDF and simulated in expensive war games two and three months ago.

    "I don't understand what we're waiting for," declared retired Major General Uri Simhoni, who criticized Olmert in a television appearance, noting that three Israeli armored divisions were mobilized and waiting to be used for more than one week.

    The Israeli army reserve call-up-over three divisions by now-was only approved completely by the Olmert Government after nearly two weeks of political haggling and three weeks of combat in what most Israelis are calling "Milhemet Levanon Ha-Shniyya"-"The Second Lebanon War."

    "In 1982, we took our cities out of rocket range within one day," agreed another retired general, Yoram Yair. "Of course, we had casualties, but it's the army's job and the government's job to protect the people, and not the people's job to protect the army."

    Generals Yair and Simhoni-and most of Israel's normally pro-Government press corps-assert that only a full ground assault that clears a 30-40 kilometer zone of Hizballah terrorists would be useful, because even the most primitive Soviet-made katyusha rocket has a range of 22-25 kilometers.

    After 27 days of fighting in Lebanon and seven weeks of fighting in Gaza, the current two-front combat is among the longest in Israel's history and the costliest in terms of civilian casualties.

    When Israel fought several Arab state armies in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War-known as the Yom Kippur War or October War-the fighting lasted less than three weeks and did not impact Israel's home front. And when the fighting was done Israel was not far from the Egyptian capital of Cairo and the Syria capital of Damascus.

    In fact, the closest comparison to the current situation is Israel's War of Independence in 1948. Only then did Israel suffer more significant civilian casualties and home front destruction when 6000 of the original 600,000 original Israelis died.

    About 100 Israelis have died in the war. Until yesterday, the vast majority were civilians, victims of Soviet-made, Iranian-made and Syrian-made rockets aimed at civilian targets. Most of IDF army casualties were caused by Soviet-made anti-tank missiles often aimed at Israeli vehicles trying to move dead and wounded.

    Col. (Res.) Shmuel Gordon, a former IDF pilot and planning expert said that the current war resembles the 1973 war when Egyptian and Syrian armies struck Israeli planes and tanks with Soviet-made anti-tank and SAM-missiles, at a time when Israeli planners felt Israel held a strong strategic edge, especially in airpower.

    Today, too, said Colonel Gordon, Israeli intelligence obviously did not realize the full implications of the relatively simple but deadly rocket and missile technology in Hizballah hands, and Israel did not invest in specific technological solutions.

    For example, Israeli planners believed that overwhelming Israeli airpower would root out Hizballah rocketeers, and the IDF planners were so sure of themselves that they did not buy American-made "bunker-buster" bombs when they were offered to Israel months ago.

    Meanwhile, the Olmert Government has also been surprised by the economic costs and consequences of the war.

    Two weeks ago, several Israeli newspapers published official government estimates that each day of fighting was costing Israel 100-million dollars, but these figures seem ridiculously low, considering the costs of rearmament, losses in economic productivity and tourism.

    "If the war last 40 days, I believe it will cost one and half percent of our annual GNP," declared Dr. Yaakov Sheinin, an independent economic analyst, during a radio interview. He said this would be about $400-million dollars, but industrialists in the Haifa region, where at least 20 factories have been destroyed, say they alone have tens of millions of dollars of damage and additional costs.

    Massive forest fires set off by the rocket fire have often burned out of control, as emergency forces try to rescue people in collapsed buildings. The fires have destroyed thousand of acres of natural forests that survived the despoiling of the Ottoman Turks and the Roman Empire.The ecological damage alone will take years to repair, if at all.

    [This analyst believes direct and indirect war costs will easily surpass ten billion dollars-MW]

    The northern third of the country has been severely affected, as up to two million people have been terrorized, forced from their homes and jobs.

    Those brave enough or foolish enough to go to work have often paid with their lives, such as half a dozen Haifa train yard workers killed two weeks ago.

    Yet, only yesterday Olmert said he would meet with other ministers to try to come up with a domestic aid package for people whose homes have been destroyed, after two days of demonstrations by Israeli war refugees who say that they are being ignored by the government.

    A tent-city for for more than 10,000 people was set up on the beaches south of Tel Aviv at Nitzanim-but not by Olmert, but rather by Arkadi Gaidemak, a rich Russian-born millionaire.

    Most of Israel's wounded and about half of Israel's wartime fatalities have been civilians-Jews, Muslims and Christians-struck by Hizballah rockets in cities, towns and villages such as Haifa, Nahariya and Kiryat Shmona.

    These and other communities-the holy rabbinical towns of Safed and Tiberias and the archeological center in Acre-will have to be partially or completely rebuilt. The destruction in some of these towns is far worse than experienced by most people in the Lebanese towns of Beirut and Sidon.

    What has stopped Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Foreign Minister Tzippy LIvni and others from ordering a major Israeli military operation is the pervasive trauma of the 1982 Lebanon war-which is somewhat America's Vietnam experience, including the fears of "quagmire" and getting "bogged down in Lebanon."

    Only one cabinet minister, former general and former Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer has consistently supported a major ground operation towards Tyre, Sidon and even Beirut.

    However, today for the first time since the war began, Defense Minister Peretz gave a briefing in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee in which he set forth a more aggressive military posture-one that has still not been approved by Olmert or the cabinet, who are looking for direction towards the U.S. and the U. N.

    "Insofar as the diplomatic process does not reach a [successful] conclusion, I have ordered IDF forces to tke the necessary action to conquer all rocket launching areas wherever they may be," declared Peretz, even though he knew that he himself had not even yet formally proposed an expanded land operation.

    Sooner or later, the Israeli public will be called on to judge the difference between loud statements hesitant actions, between promised results and actual war achievements.

    The man who took over for Ariel Sharon as acting prime minister several months ago by symbolically keeping an empty chair at the head of the cabinet table has still not really filled Sharon's shoes, nor his chair.

    For the past month, Olmert has avoided the Israeli press and the Israeli public like the plague, appearing in very controlled and brief appearances. This brought veiled press criticism and a tepid public relations defense from Olmert aides.

    "He's doing the right thing, and he will speak when he has something to say," remarked Olmert press advisor Tal Zilberstat, two weeks ago, and many people concluded that Olmert still was not sure what he wanted to say or do.

    Olmert first spoke to the country in a carefully scripted Knesset address after more than five days of fighting. It was a largely uninspiring affair. One public speaking expert described the swaying Olmert clinging to his podium as an unconvincing impersonation of a yeshiva student at prayer.

    Subsequently several Israeli columnists, such as Ben Caspit of Ma'ariv, wrote articles including the kind of speech Olmert should have given.

    As the war ended its third week, perhaps nearing a diplomatic denouement, Olmert once again found his voice, scheduling two full speeches in controlled environments, a conference of mayors, and a graduation ceremony at the Israeli Army (IDF) Staff Command College.

    At the first of these speeches, Olmert tried to strike a Churchill-ian mode, stressing that Israel would not accept assaults on its cities, but the next day, he said Israel had already achieved "unprecedented success" in restoring Israel's deterrent.

    As if in response, Hizballah hit Israel's north with 240 rockets the next day, and many journalistic observers could not help but feel that Olmert was trying hard to "write" a victory, rather than lead to victory.

    Israeli television and radio analysts said that some of Olmert's speeches sounded as if the lawyer-politician was already preparing a defense brief for the commission of inquiry into the conduct of the war that many here are already beginning to demand.

    It is not clear if Olmert and his Kadima Party will survive politically, if Israel does not wipe the smirk that has recently reappeared on the televised face of Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizballah. If Israel cannot stop the rocket fire, it may have to settle for killing Nasrallah and rescuing the three Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hizballah and Hamas.

    These, however, are not easy assignments, and Olmert cannot consult the comatose former prime minister Sharon. Olmert has consulted former prime minister Ehud Barak, who hastily pulled Israeli troops from Lebanon in 2000, declaring it a terrific victory. Less than a year later, Barak, beset by Palestinian attacks, was out of a job.

    Now, less than half a year after Ehud Olmert succeeded Ariel Sharon, he may already be on his way to joining Ehud Barak in political limbo, becoming a has-been-or a never-was. +++++++ Dr. Michael Widlanski is a former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times, The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post. He has also served as a special advisor to Israeli delegations to peace talks in 1991-1992 and as Strategic Affairs Advisor to the Ministry of Public Security, editing secret PLO Archives captured in Jerusalem.

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    NGOs in the Lebanon War - Update 3: August 7, 2006

    Wednesday, August 9, 2006 NGOs in the Lebanon War - Update 3: August 7, 2006 NGO Monitor Institute for Contemporary Affairs founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation

    Covering July 12 through August 6 [For annotated text ]

    See Archive of Lebanon Reports Index Amnesty International - 10 B'Tselem - 1 Christian Aid - 6 EMHRN - 1 EuroMed - 1 Human Rights Watch - 19 ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions) - 1 International Commission of Jurists - 1 International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) - 4 KAIROS - 1 Medecins Sans Frontieres - 2 MIFTAH - 5 Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA) - 1 Oxfam - 8 Physicians for Human Rights - Israel - 1 PNGO - Palestinian NGO Network - 2 UNICEF - 2 War on Want - 1 World Vision International - 5 Total: 72 entries Common themes in the NGO statements include:

    Accusations of "disproportionate force" by Israel, with no explanation of what would comprise a proportionate response to Hezbollah terror and missile attacks;

    Judgements and claims regarding "military targets" in the context of asymmetric warfare that most humanitarian and human rights NGOs are not equipped to make;

    Condemnation of Israel's targeting of bridges, major roads and the Beirut Airport as "collective punishment," despite the clear military rationale of sealing off air and sea ports, roads and other such targets to prevent the re-supply of arms from Syria and Iran.

    Political lobbying such as sending letters to politicians demanding that pressure be brought to bear on Israel;

    Little mention that Hezbollah's concrete reinforced military headquarters are located under buildings in southern Beirut, and that the positioning of military/guerrilla installations in residential areas is considered a war crime, as defined by Protocol I (1977) to the Geneva Convention, article 51(7), relating to human shields. Hezbollah also stores and launches missiles from civilian villages in southern Lebanon, but NGOs dismiss or ignore the human rights implications of Hezbollah's use of human shields.

    Minimal references to the role of Iran and Syria in providing missiles and support to Hizbollah;

    Few NGOs call for the release of the two abducted Israeli soldiers, and there is little attention given to Israeli IDPs (internally displaced persons) numbering at least 300,000, or to Israeli victims of Hezbollah rocket attacks.

    Amnesty International July 13 Press Release - "Israel / Lebanon: End immediately attacks against civilians" Both Israel and Hezbollah's actions described as "war crimes." Israel must "respect the principle of proportionality when targeting any military objectives or civilian objectives", but no standard provided for determining proportionality in the wake of Hezbollah's attacks. "Israel must put an immediate end to attacks against civilians", falsely asserting that Israel deliberately targets civilians, in a manner similar to Hezbollah. IDF strikes on infrastructure targets constitute "collective punishment." Also says "Hezbollah must stop launching attacks against Israeli civilians." July 17 Press Release "GAERC: Commit to review EU [association] agreement with Israel in light of Human Rights "This review is necessary not just because Israel is systematically and deliberately breaching international law by targeting civilians . . . " Also calls on the Lebanese government and Hezbollah to "end attacks against civilians." July 18 Press Release "UN: Security Council must adopt urgent measures to protect civilians in Israel-Lebanon conflict" Demands that UN Security Council suspend "all military supplies to Israel and Hezbollah until each party institutes the appropriate measures to ensure that civilians and civilian objects are not attacked." Promotes moral equivalence between a democratic-country acting in self-defense and a terrorist organization. Press Release July 26 Israel/Lebanon Israel and Hizbullah Must Spare Civilians "The death and injury toll and the massive damage to civilian objects indicate that some attacks may have been indiscriminate or disproportionate." "It is unclear whether any of Hizbullah's rocket and missile strikes have been aimed at military targets. If they were, they would be indiscriminate attacks, given the nature of the weapons used." "Reports that Israel has warned all civilians living south of the Litani River to leave suggest it is distorting the concept of effective warning. If anything, such warning to over 400,000 people seems to result in spreading panic among the civilian population, rather than enhancing their safety." "Tens of thousands of Israeli civilians have fled northern Israel for fear of further rocket and missile attacks by Hizbullah." "Hizbullah reportedly have been launching rockets and missiles from residential areas, thereby endangering civilians in the vicinity. Their fighters are also said to be sheltering among civilians in villages and cities, and Israeli officials claim that Hizbullah are storing weapons in civilian homes." "Hizbullah's use of Katyusha rockets and longer-range missiles against Israeli cities and towns violates the prohibition on indiscriminate attack, even when they appear to have been directed at legitimate targets, such as military bases" "There are reports that Israel has used incendiary weapons, such as white phosphorous shells, in attacks in Lebanon." AI letter to Foreign Ministers, July 26 "The international community must ensure that Hizbullah and Israel comply with international humanitarian law." Press Release, July 27, Lebanon/Israel: Urgent need for arms embargo on Israel and Hizbullah "Governments supplying Israel and Hizbullah with arms and military equipment are fuelling their capacity to commit war crimes. All governments should impose an arms embargo on both sides and refuse permission for their territories to be used for the transfer of arms and military equipment." Press Release response to Qana, July 31 "It is utterly shameful that governments who have influence over Israel and Hizbollah and who could help end this crisis, continue to prioritize political and military interests over innocent lives of civilians." "Both sides to this conflict have shown a blatant disregard for the laws of war and civilians on both sides are paying the price as war crimes abound, Amnesty International said today." Press Release August 3, Israel: IDF inquiry into Qana a whitewash "The investigation carried out by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) into the air-missile attack on Qana was clearly inadequate and reinforces the need for the urgent dispatch of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC)." Media Advisory, August 2: Amnesty International missions to Lebanon and Israel "An Amnesty International mission is currently in Lebanon to carry out research into human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law during the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hizbullah . . . Another Amnesty International mission is going to Israel . . . to investigate the impact of Hizbullah rocket attacks on civilians in northern Israel and to obtain information from the Israeli authorities about investigations they have announced into some of the killings by their forces in south Lebanon." Media Advisory, 4 August: AI to call for immediate ceasefire in mass, global vigils "Governments must stop fuelling this suffering by imposing an arms embargo against Israel and Hizbullah and refusing to allow the transfer of weapons to or through their territories."

    B'Tselem July 23 Press Release "Lebanon and Northern Israel" "B'Tselem's mandate is limited to human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The organization is therefore not documenting human rights violations in this conflict." "However . . . . Over the past week, Israel has killed hundreds of Lebanese civilians in its attacks against targets in Lebanon . There is a concern that at least some of them were disproportionate attacks, which constitute war crimes" Acknowledges that "Hezbollah has been launching numerous deliberate attacks against Israeli civilians in the north of the country, which have killed and injured many civilians."

    Christian Aid July 13 News Report "Middle East in crisis" Legitimizes Hezbollah's attack by stating that it was "an attempt to negotiate the release of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails." No mention that the three Lebanese prisoners held by Israel are terrorists, one of whom, Samir Kuntar, was convicted by an Israeli court in 1979 of two murders, including the beating to death of a four year old girl. "Days of dread and despair long-lived by the Lebanese during the war seem to have returned." No mention of emotions of Israelis under rocket fire. As in other recent CA reports, the text was emotive so as to direct the reader to a clear political agenda. One sentence about attacks on Israel: Hezbollah "fired rockets from Lebanon today, killing one Israeli civilian and injuring 29 others." July 18 Press Statement "Middle East in crisis" "The stability of the entire region is under threat as Israel responds to the kidnapping of two of its soldiers by the militant group Hezbollah with aerial attacks on Lebanon. Hezbollah has retaliated with rocket attacks on Israeli towns." Israel is responsible for destabilizing the Middle East and Hezbollah's actions are portrayed as "retaliation" rather than unprovoked aggression. One of CA's partner NGOs, Ittijah, said that "from a peaceful and secure country, Lebanon has become a shattered country", but did not illicit any such sympathy for the citizens of northern Israeli towns who have been under regular rocket fire since July 12. Statement recognizes that "civilians in northern Israel are also spending much of the day in air-raid shelters to avoid Hezbollah rockets." July 20 Emergency Appeal "'We hope that we can help keep a lid on this crisis. But of course, the longer this military campaign continues the worse the situation will get." No mention of Hezbollah, only Israel's "constant attack and . . . the beginnings of a potential humanitarian crisis." July 21 Press Release CA joins with Save the Children, Oxfam, Islamic Relief, CAFOD, World Vision and CARE International UK to "urgently call for an immediate ceasefire by all sides." This opens the door to further attacks by Hezbollah. News Item, July 28, "Please show the reality say Lebanon's affected" "Despite being physically and morally exhausted from the scale of destruction facing Lebanon, those working with MS [Mouvement Social] have chosen to stay and help those most in need." "'The war should end because it is not the solution - it never was the solution,' said [Pascale] Kolakez, [a psychologist]. 'People and children are dying, families are dying . . . '" Press Release, August 3, "Christian Aid calls for ceasefire in Middle East at press conference in Beirut" "Christian Aid has again called for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon in an attempt to avert a humanitarian crisis." "'Tony Blair's policy is having the opposite effect that he wants it to. He is driving moderate, normal people into the arms of Hezbollah. Hezbollah is feeding people who have been displaced in Beirut.'"

    EMHRN Statement 24 July, Human Rights Organisations Appalled by Escalating Violations against Civilians "On 12 July 2006 Hizbullah forces engaged Israeli forces capturing two Israeli soldiers . . . . While Israeli forces have attacked Hizbullah they have also deliberately targeted Lebanese infrastructure objects . . . These attacks constitute collective punishment and are a serious violation of international law." "Hizbullah also launched hundreds of missiles in numerous deliberate attacks against Israeli civilians . . . These attacks constitute a serious violation of international humanitarian law." "The EMHRN further calls: For an end to the Israeli occupation; Upon all parties to respect the sovereignty of the State of Lebanon." Euromed Non-Governmental Platform (an NGO network working with the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership) July 13, Declaration about the situation in Lebanon and Gaza "Detainees and captured persons should be liberated, and we condemn and reject all acts of violence against civil populations." "The Euro-Mediterranean Non-Governmental Platform strongly condemns the Israeli aggressions which are a striking violation of International Law." "Nothing could justify the collective punishment inflicted to the Palestinian people or the destruction of the Beirut airport's tracks or bridges." EU "should intervene quickly and firmly in order to stop the Israeli government's military operations which are threatening the entire region with its dangerous escalation."

    Human Rights Watch July 13 Press Release "Lebanon/Israel: Do Not Attack Civilians" "Israeli military officials and Hezbollah leaders traded threats to attack areas populated by civilians," erasing the facts and context. July 17 Report "Questions and Answers on Hostilities Between Israel and Hezbollah" (See detailed analysis of selective and distorted application of International Law in this HRW publication, by Dr. Avi Bell.) Charges that IDF actions "open the door to deliberately attacking civilians and civilian objects themselves - in short to terrorism," and that Israel's "destruction seems aimed more at . . . preventing [the civilian population] from fleeing the fighting and seeking safety," Also states that the IDF's arguments for bombing Beirut airport "are at best debatable", which follows a noticeable trend in which HRW makes assertions that require a level of military expertise that it does not possess and is not part of its mandate. States in a number of places that it "sets out these rules before it has been able to conduct extensive on-the-ground investigation," demonstrating the primacy of its political agenda over accurate analysis. Discusses the use of human shields but does not state that Hezbollah has contravened this precept of international law by placing its headquarters in a residential area of southern Beirut July 17 Press Release "Israel: Investigate Attack on Civilians in Lebanon" Calls on Israel to investigate the mistaken targeting of a civilian convoy by the IDF without including the context of the response to missile attacks, and despite the IDF's expression of regret for the casualties. July 18 Statement "Lebanon: Hezbollah Rocket Attacks on Haifa Designed to Kill Civilians" Hezbollah rocket attacks are "at best indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas, at worst the deliberate targeting of civilians." "Attacking civilian areas indiscriminately is a serious violation of international humanitarian law and can constitute a war crime . . . Hezbollah's use of warheads that have limited military use and cause grievous suffering to the victims only makes the crime worse." This statement specifically addresses war crimes by a terror group but is ignored in the numerous other HRW statements that condemn Israel for "disproportional force," "war crimes" and "violations of international law", revealing the NGO's core bias. July 20 Statement, "Lebanon/Israel: Israel Must Provide Safe Passage to Relief Convoys" "If attacks are hitting relief and medical convoys, the implications for civilian protection are serious. Such attacks would indicate that Israel is failing to take appropriate precautions to avoid targeting civilian objects." Another statement without context. July 21 Press Release, "Lebanon/Israel: Israel must allow civilians safe passage" "Israel should warn people of attacks, but those warnings can't be used to justify harming civilians who remain," said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch Cites IDF statement that describes Hezbollah's use of civilians as human shields in Southern Lebanon, but does not explore the implications. Letter, July 22, to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice "We urge you to request that Israel immediately re-examine its military practices to ensure that they strictly comply with the requirements of international humanitarian law." July 24 Press Release, Israeli Cluster Munitions Hit Civilians in Lebanon (Cluster Munitions are not prohibited by international law, and have only been banned by Belgium. Norway has committed to a moratorium on their use.) Peter Bouckaert, Emergencies Director for HRW, gives Interview to Democracy Now, July 26 "The United Nations has estimated that there is up to 500,000 displaced people in Lebanon today. That's almost a quarter of the population of Lebanon." "This is totally different from the kind of bombardment that we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan. Certainly we documented a lot of civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan when we worked there, but at least in most of those cases we were able to determine what the specific military objective was that the U.S. hoped to achieve by these military strikes." Letter, July 26, to Syrian President Bashar al-Asad on the Conflict in Lebanon "Syria should urge Hezbollah forces not to undertake attacks that violate international humanitarian law." "Targeting civilians deliberately or indiscriminately is unlawful in all circumstances, and Hezbollah must take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian harm by not attacking military objects if the anticipated harm to civilians will be disproportionate to the expected military advantage . . . Launching attacks in violation of these rules is often a war crime." "We hope that you will use your influence with Hezbollah to ensure that its means and methods of attack can and do discriminate between military and civilian targets and objects." Letter, July 26, to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Almost identical letter to the one sent to Bashar al-Assad. "Iran should call for an end to Hezbollah's repeated attacks on civilian-populated areas of northern Israel with rockets whose inability to be targeted makes them inherently indiscriminate and therefore unlawful" "Iran should seek assurances from Hezbollah that the organization is not locating weapons, launching attacks, and stationing combatants in civilian structures or in or close to civilian populated areas." Press Release, July 30, Israel responsible for Qana. "Responsibility for the Israeli airstrikes that killed at least 54 civilians sheltering in a home in the Lebanese village of Qana rests squarely with the Israeli military, Human Rights Watch said today. It is the latest product of an indiscriminate bombing campaign that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have waged in Lebanon over the past 18 days, leaving an estimated 750 people dead, the vast majority of them civilians." "Even if the IDF claims of Hezbollah rocket fire from the Qana area are correct, Israel remains under a strict obligation to direct attacks at only military objectives . . . To date, Israel has not presented any evidence to show that Hezbollah was present in or around the building that was struck at the time of the attack." HRW Op-Ed July 31 by Peter Bouckaert, originally published in the Guardian "Endless communiqués insist that Israel's behaviour is "proportionate". Let us be blunt: those claims are fantasy, as the carnage in Qana has shown once again." "Although mistakes are made in the fog of fighting, the pattern of Israeli behavior in southern Lebanon suggests a deliberate policy." "Israel blames Hezbollah for the massive civilian toll in Lebanon, claiming that they are hiding the rockets they are firing at Israel, in civilian homes, and that they are fighting from within the civilian population. This is a convenient excuse." "Our investigations have not found evidence to support Israeli allegations that Hezbollah are intentionally endangering Lebanese civilians by systematically fighting from civilian positions. We can't exclude the possibility that it happens - but time and again villagers tell us that Hezbollah is fighting from the hills." Press Release, August 2 "Qana Death Toll at 28: International Inquiry Needed into Israeli Air Strike" "A preliminary Human Rights Watch investigation into the July 30 Israeli air strike in Qana found that 28 people are confirmed dead thus far, among them 16 children, Human Rights Watch said today." "Again and again, Israeli forces have fired at dubious military targets with a high civilian cost," [Sarah Leah] Whitson said. "Their brazen behavior has costs hundreds of lives." Press Release, August 3, "End Indiscriminate Strikes on Civilians: Some Israeli Attacks Amount to War Crimes" "The pattern of [Israeli] attacks in more than 20 cases investigated by Human Rights Watch researchers in Lebanon indicates that the failures cannot be dismissed as mere accidents and cannot be blamed on wrongful Hezbollah practices. In some cases, these attacks constitute war crimes." "Hezbollah fighters must not hide behind civilians - that's an absolute - but the image that Israel has promoted of such shielding as the cause of so high a civilian death toll is wrong," [Kenneth] Roth said." "Hezbollah has occasionally stored weapons in or near civilian homes and placed rocket launchers within populated areas or near United Nations observers. Report, August 2006, Fatal Strikes - Israel's Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon "In some cases, the timing and intensity of the attack, the absence of a military target, as well as return strikes on rescuers, suggest that Israeli forces deliberately targeted civilians." "The [HRW] team focused on interviewing witnesses and survivors of Israeli strikes inside Lebanon, gathering detailed testimony from these individuals, and carefully corroborating and cross-checking their accounts with international aid workers, international and local journalists, medical professionals, local officials, as well as information from the IDF." Press Release, August 3, "IDF Fails to Explain Qana Bombing Independent International Inquiry Required" "The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) inquiry into the July 30 killing of at least 28 civilians in Qana is incomplete and legally misguided, and contradicts eyewitness testimony, Human Rights Watch said today. The findings underline the need for an independent international inquiry into what took place." Op-Ed by Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, August 4, "Fog of War Is No Cover for Causing Civilian Deaths", Forward (New York) "With hundreds of Lebanese civilians killed in three weeks of bombing, Israel clearly isn't doing enough to avoid such loss of life." "In many cases, Lebanese civilians who have survived air strikes on their homes or vehicles have told Human Rights Watch that Hezbollah was nowhere nearby when the attack took place." Press Release, August 5: Hezbollah Must End Attacks on Civilians - Rocket Attacks on Civilians in Israel Are War Crimes "Hezbollah must immediately stop firing rockets into civilian areas in Israel, Human Rights Watch said today. Entering the fourth week of attacks, such rockets have claimed 30 civilian lives, including six children, and wounded hundreds more." "Lobbing rockets blindly into civilian areas is without doubt a war crime," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "Nothing can justify this assault on the most fundamental standards for sparing civilians the hazards of war."

    ICAHD (funded by EU) Press Release, July 30 "END THE WAR! END THE OCCUPATION! END STATE TERROR! END AMERICAN EMPIRE!" "We recognize Israel's ever-repressive Occupation as the main source of conflict and instability in our region . . . Had Israel taken the many opportunities it had to secure a just peace, the peoples of the region would never have reached this point of despair and futile violence." "Israel seeks to break the will of the Palestinian people and destroy any resistance to the imposition of an apartheid regime." "Hezbollah and Israel share equally in the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians in both Lebanon and Israel." International Commission of Jurists (Geneva) Press Release July 2, "Lebanon and Gaza Strip: UN to take immediate action to protect civilians" ICJ called on the UN "to take immediate action to protect the civilian population in Lebanon, as well as in the Gaza Strip" but did not call for similar protection for Israeli civilians. ICJ is "appalled by the impact of the ruthless military operations." "Israel has a legitimate right to defend itself against hostage-taking and the launching of rockets by the Hezbollah over Israeli territory", but qualified this by claiming that Israel's response constitutes "collective punishment." "[T]he bombing of undefended towns, villages and dwellings that are not military objectives . . . constitute war crimes" distorting current events and international law for ICJ's political agenda.

    International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH), France-based NGO with a budget of over EUR3m in 2004 July 17 Press Release "Ensure security for civilians!" Acknowledges that it was the Hezbollah attack which initiated the crisis and "severely condemns the rocket firing by Hezbollah against Israeli civilian population." "The FIDH considers that the attacks carried out by the Israeli forces . . . are disproportionate and constitute a collective punishment " FIDH does not define a "proportional" response. "The FIDH calls upon the Israeli government to urgently put an end to the military operations carried out in Lebanon." Despite condemning Hezbollah rocket fire, FIDH denies Israel's right to take effective military action to defend itself. July 20 Press Release, "The Lack of Response and the Guilt of the International Community" FIDH "determinedly denounces the unrelenting Israeli military attacks on Lebanon over the past eight days. In addition, the FIDH firmly condemns Hezbollah's firing of rockets against the Israeli civilian population and the use by its militias of arms prohibited under international humanitarian law. Both sides . . . are evidently targeting civilians." The Israeli Army has perpetrated several types of attacks, . . . [which ] are to be considered, at the very least, as war crimes." Press Release, 1 August, Lebanon/ Israel: prosecute war crimes in France "As the argument goes, these aggressions against Israeli cities also amount to war crimes . . . We are aware of the despicable game played by Syria and Iran, both countries in which their own people live under intolerable regimes, yet which first condemn the wrongs of others." "Today, in Lebanon and Gaza, the actions of the Israeli government have led it to attack the civil population indiscriminately, and in a large-scale manner." "Nothing can justify the losses inflicted on the civil populations, which are not collateral effects of legitimate actions of war but are instead a deliberate and wilful punishment on the collective population, including murder. These are war crimes of exceptional gravity, knowingly organized by a democratic government."

    KAIROS Letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay, July 25 "While the hostilities continue, we must ask that our government firmly and fully communicate the necessity that all parties--Lebanese, Israeli and Palestinian--protect civilians and respect international law."

    Medecins Sans Frontieres Press Release, August 2 MSF has around 30 international staff working in areas in Lebanon that are severely affected by the conflict. The emphasis in MSF's activities is on supporting Lebanese health workers, setting up additional health posts and mobile clinics where necessary, and distributing basic materials (shelter, hygiene kits, cooking utensils, baby powder milk) to displaced families. Press Release July 28, "Access to southern regions of Lebanon difficult due to shelling" Access to the south of Lebanon remains difficult because shelling and bombardments have destroyed roads and buildings. MSF sent three vans carrying drugs from Beirut to Tyre on July 26. An MSF surgeon and medical team are working in the town. More medical and surgical equipment is needed, as well as food. MSF sent 80 tonnes of relief goods such as tents, blankets and cooking equipment to Beirut by ferry and started to distribute them in Aley and Beit Ed Dine districts on July 26.

    MIFTAH, Palestinian political NGO funded by the EU and the Ford Foundation July 18 press release IDF is "targeting Lebanese civilian populations." "[I]n retaliation, Hezbollah has fired dozens of Katusha rockets into northern Israel," distorting the history that Hezbollah has been firing rockets at northern Israel since July 12. July 17 Editorial IDF operation described as "relentless brutality against innocent civilians in both Lebanon and Palestine." "[T]he underlying cause of today's crisis in Lebanon is a premeditated Israeli plan to reshuffle the strategic regional equation in its favour." July 23 Letter to US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice "We urge you to hold Israel responsible for its brutality against the people of Lebanon, for its excessive use of force against civilians, for its continued violation of the most basic and fundamental principles of international and humanitarian law" Press Release, August 1, "MIFTAH condemns Israeli massacre in Qana" "(MIFTAH) strongly condemns the killing of 67 Lebanese civilians in an Israeli air raid on the South Lebanon village of Qana." (Fatalities from the Qana incident currently stands at 28) "The clear targeting of a building housing civilians, mostly children, seeking shelter from the incessant Israeli bombings is an abhorrent act that must . . . urge . . . international pressure to hold Israel responsible for its war crimes being perpetrated in Lebanon and in the Palestinian territories, particularly the Gaza Strip." MIFTAH Op-Ed, August 2, "Children of a Lesser God" "In both southern Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip, this policy has been brutally exemplified, Israel's expansionist and destructive policies leaving a blood-stained trail across both countries." "But as has become a kind of sordid ritual of the Israeli army, the bomb was dropped at one in the morning while the babies slept, their mothers and fathers huddled around them." "The bomb on Qana or the 31 children killed in the [Gaza] Strip in one month are not incidental casualties. Rather, they are part of a systematic policy carried out by the Israeli military establishment, approved by the highest political echelons, aimed at squashing, silencing and obliterating any voice of rebellion, anyone who dares stand up to the beast." "It is clear by its bombing in Qana and in the Gaza Strip that Israel feels no obligation to stop its targeting of civilians on its own."

    Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA), international NGO funded by the Norwegian Government with a total budget of $117.158m in 2004, July 17 statement "Hezbollah launched rockets into Haifa . . . in retaliation for Israel's furious bombardment of southern Beirut." Distorts fact of Hezbollah aggression. Oxfam Press Release, July 19 "Oxfam International calls for urgent action on the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Middle East" "[W]hile any state has the right to defend itself against armed attacks, Israel's destruction of civilian infrastructure including bridges, roads and the airport in Beirut is unacceptable", ignoring the military necessity of preventing Hezbollah from being re-supplied with arms. July 2 Joint NGO Statement Oxfam was a signatory to the July 21 joint NGO statement calling on UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to demand a cease-fire, see Christian Aid above. Press Release, July 26 "The US and UK express humanitarian concern while their 'foot dragging diplomacy' allows the killing to continue. For the sake of commonsense and common humanity an immediate ceasefire in the region in needed," said Barbara Stocking, Oxfam's Director. Bush and Blair talks, July 28 "Waiting for one side to achieve its military objective before calling for an immediate ceasefire is not the way forward," said Phil Bloomer, Oxfam's Director of Campaigns and Policy. Oxfam calls for UNSC resolution for ceasefire also, July 28 "Indiscriminate attacks from both sides, and for civilians there is no end in sight to the daily bloodshed and violence," said Oxfam's Advocacy Director Bernice Romero. Take Action (Undated) "The situation in the Middle East continues to deteriorate rapidly. Hundreds have already died and an estimated 500,000 people have had to flee their homes and have been forced to shelter in buildings with little or no help to meet their basic needs." Personal Report of a worker for one of Oxfam's partners, July 30 "The Israeli army air raided the village of Qana and cold bloodedly bombarded a building occupied by civilians, most of whom were displaced women or children." "There is no bravery in air raiding civilians, destroying an entire country, displacing its residents and inciting hatred amongst its people, only a disproportionate and cruel use of force and violence." July 31 Press Release Oxfam called on EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels tomorrow to agree to an unambiguous call for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East in the run up to this week's expected UN Security Council resolution. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel Press Release, July 25, "Stop Killing Civilians" "The fact that the IDF's actions exact a high toll both in lives and on civilian infrastructure evinces that Israel's response is not proportional." "The damage to infrastructure, homes and medical establishments is considered to be a grave violation of international law and the international humanitarian law." "We also share the pain and fear in light of the tragic results of Hezbollah's rocket attacks on Israel and its harmful effects on Israeli citizens. We call for a cease-fire that will also put an end to the firing of Kassam Rockets and terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians."

    PNGO Press Release, 17 July - "A statement issued by Palestinian civil society organizations condemning Israel's War Crimes in Gaza and Lebanon" "On the Lebanese front, the barbaric Israeli aggression shows the complete picture, since the goals of that aggression are embedded in the conditions and dictates that the Israeli government wants to impose on the region so that it succumbs to Israeli-American hegemony." An Open Letter to Condoleezza Rice, 24 July "The force being used by the Israeli troops . . . is inhuman and savage, aiming at exterminating as many people as possible. This brings to our minds the force used by Serbia in Bosnia as well as the crimes against humanity committed in the Second World War."

    UNICEF July 19 statement and July 21 statement "[A]s the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon and Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israel continue, reaching those in need is an enormous humanitarian challenge." In both statements UNICEF refrained from making biased politicized comments about the conflict. War on Want Press Release, 3 August "Tens of thousands call for immediate ceasefire" "An urgent petition signed by over 35,000 people and backed by 16 leading agencies, including War on Want, was handed in today to Tony Blair, pressing him to call for an immediate ceasefire in the current Middle East crisis."

    World Vision International July 14 report Israeli casualties mentioned, but the context of Hezbollah aggression omitted. July 20 statement "In the recent fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, more than 200 civilians have died and over 400 have been injured - approximately 30% of whom are children (Source: United Nations Children's Fund)." "Both Israel and Lebanon are signatories to the Convention on the Rights of the Child that states they have an obligation under international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population in armed conflict." World Vision is the only NGO to acknowledge that the Lebanese government (which includes members of Hezbollah) has responsibilities in the conflict. World Vision Statement, July 19 "World Vision warns that the violence and destruction of infrastructure in Lebanon and Palestine means children there are facing potential outbreaks of disease, increased levels of malnutrition." WVI Statement, August 2: "Lebanon relief efforts eclipsed by mounting crisis" "To date, the Lebanon office has assisted nearly 30,000 displaced now living in schools, churches, mosques, houses, parking garages and other structures located within seven of nine Area Development Projects (ADPs) in southern, central and northern regions of the country." Press Release, August 4, "World Vision advocates for urgent ceasefire" "World Vision and four international NGOs yesterday alerted foreign press in Beirut of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Lebanon. They called for an immediate cease-fire to allow unrestricted humanitarian access to devastated areas and displaced civilians within the war-torn country." "We have 121 staff in Lebanon, yet our resources are not nearly enough to respond to this crisis" . . . the news conference . . . was jointly convened by Oxfam, Christian Aid, Save the Children, Islamic Relief and World Vision." "The international community must surely understand that all children are equal and that they are not responsible for this conflict. We therefore are insisting that the rights of the children of Lebanon be respected and protected."

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    War With Iran 'Inevitable,' Former Israeli Deputy Defense Chief Says
    Kenneth R. Timmerman, Special Israel Correspondent,

    TEL AVIV, Israel -- War between Iran and Israel is "inevitable," a former deputy defense minister retired Maj. Gen. Efraim Sneh told NewsMax in an exclusive interview from his home near Tel Aviv.

    Sneh, who ran Israel's defense ministry under Labor Party Prime Minister Ehud Barak when Israel pulled out of Lebanon in May 2000, was spending time with his family before rejoining his paratroop unit on the Lebanese border.

    "At 62, I am a retired general, but I felt so strongly about this war that I volunteered to rejoin my paratrooper unit," he said. A medical doctor by profession, Sneh commanded his unit's medical corps during the toughest battle of the 1973 war.

    Sneh has been warning about the Hezbollah buildup in south Lebanon for many years, and opposed his government's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, even though he was then in charge of the Defense Ministry.

    "I warned six years ago that unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon would bring Hezbollah to our border, with all their military capability," he said. "I was a lonely voice when the choir of Israeli politics said 'let's get out of the Lebanon mud.' I said, 'The mud will run after you.'"

    Warning about Hezbollah while serving in the government put him in an awkward position. "Because Barak was prime minister as well as defense minister, as his deputy I was actually running the defense ministry," Sneh told NewsMax.

    "I said we shouldn't withdraw, because Hezbollah rockets would bring us back to invade Lebanon, and require a big ground operation to clean up. That's what we are doing right now," he added.

    He said he felt vindicated ­ not only by what is happening in Lebanon, but because he has been warning about the threat from Iran.

    "Since 1993 I have been warning that Iran is the only enemy that poses an existential threat to Israel," he said.

    The current war in Lebanon was actually a war by Iran against Israel, he believes.

    "I don't have any doubt that after this round is over, there will be another round, because the war with Iran is not over. When you have the president of the world's fourth largest oil supplier preaching repeatedly that Israel should be wiped off the map, a collision is unavoidable."

    In speeches and writings over the past six years, Sneh predicted in detail the scenario that has played itself out between Hezbollah and Israel over the past four weeks.

    "But I don't know the scenario for round 2 or round 3," he said. "I just know that they will come."

    Asked how the current round of fighting in Lebanon would end, he replied: "slow and tough."

    Sneh has traveled repeatedly to Washington over the past 13 years with other Knesset members from different parties, to warn about Iran's threat to Israel and America.

    He believes Iran would use nuclear weapons if it acquired them.

    "That is the assumption we have to make," he said. "When they say they want to wipe Israel off the map, why shouldn't I take their word seriously? I don't have the privilege not to do so."

    Original article: -- Kenneth R. Timmerman President, Middle East Data Project, Inc. Author: Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran Contributing editor: Tel: 301-946-2918 Reply to: Website:

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