Israel Resource Review 29th August, 2006


Hizbullah's Apology?
David Bedein

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has surprised almost every pundit in Israel by admitting that "he made a mistake by not estimating Israel's forceful response to the kidnapping of two soldiers on the northern border".

Danny Rubenstein, an analyst with the newspaper HaAretz, said in a public speech that Nasrallah's apology obligated him to reconsider his statement that Olmert had lost this word. Yet another pundit opined that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should send a huge bouquet of flowers to the Dahiya quarter in Beirut, with a card attached reading: "Thanks, Hassan".

The Hizbullah leader, who has his own political problems, helped the Israeli prime minister and his government more than any strategic adviser. From now on, until the next elections, Amir Peretz and Olmert can repeatedly state to the public what they learned about "who won the war" by means of Nasrallah's resounding remorse.

Prof. Mordecai Kedar, an Arabic Affairs expert at Bar Ilan University, in Ramat Gan, Israel, provided another perspective on Nasrallah's statements, saying that the Hizbullah leader was pretending as if he was a head of state, sharing remorse with any of the civilians who had suffered in Lebanon. Kedar warned Israeli leaders not to read into Nasrallah's statements any hint of remorse or regret for his actions.

Meanwhile, Prof. Yehoshua Porat, Prof Emeritus of Middle East Studies at Hebrew University, gave an interview to Israel Government Radio News in which he said that Nasrallah wants to see Olmert remain in power, because he perceives Olmert as a weak character which is why, according to Porat, that Nasrallah made the statement that he did.

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Northern Samaria Taken Over by Islamic Jihad
David Bedein

Israel has assessed that an Iranian-sponsored insurgency group has taken over the northern West Bank.

The Israel Security Agency has determined that Islamic Jihad has imposed control over large parts of the northern West Bank. The agency concluded that Jihad has been operating in areas evacuated by the Israel Army in September 2005.

"The area of northern Samaria has become Jihad land," ISA director Yuval Diskin said.

On Tuesday, Diskin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Jihad has used the northern West Bank for arms smuggling, training and the production of rockets. Diskin said Jihad increased its activity in wake of the Israeli withdrawal from the area in 2005 and the dismantling of four Jewish communities.

"I'd like to remind the panel that we opposed the withdrawal," Diskin said.

Officials said Jihad has become the leading insurgency group in the northern West Bank. They said Iran and Hizbullah have poured millions of dollars for an infrastructure to abduct Israelis and send suicide bombers into the Jewish state.

The Israeli withdrawal from the northern West Bank has also damaged the intelligence capability of the ISA and military, officials said. Diskin said Israel's presence in the area has been virtually nil.

The ISA has expressed opposition to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan for a unilateral withdrawal from 97 percent of the West Bank. In August, Olmert said he was suspending the plan to focus on rebuilding northern Israel in the aftermath of Hizbullah rocket strikes.

Diskin said Jihad and other Palestinian insurgency groups have sought to follow Hizbullah's model in southern Lebanon. He said Palestinian insurgents have focused on smuggling rockets and missiles from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip.

Over the last few months, Diskin said, the Palestinians smuggled 15,000 rifles, 2,300 pistols, 15 tons of TNT, four million munitions rounds, 15 Grad BM-21 rockets, 400 rocket-propelled grenades, 65 anti-tank missiles and dozens of anti-aircraft missiles. He said Jihad and other groups have sought to transfer weapons and plans from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

"At this point, anybody who wants to smuggle something through the Philadelphi route [Egypt-Gaza border] can apparently do so," Diskin said. "You can smuggle anything through Philadelphi except maybe a tank or plane." =

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Egypt Fears Islamic Insurgency
Middle East News Line

The regime of President Hosni Mubarak has been concerned that Hizbullah's war against Israel could spark efforts by the Islamic opposition to establish a military force.

Western diplomatic sources said the Mubarak regime has been alarmed by Muslim Brotherhood calls to fight Israel and the United States. They said the Brotherhood, the leading Islamic opposition group, could be preparing the groundwork for the recruitment of Islamists to join the Palestinian insurgency in the Gaza Strip.

"So far, most of the traffic has been by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Egypt," a diplomatic source said. "The [Egyptian] security services have been concerned that the Brotherhood could reverse the flow."

In August, Brotherhood spiritual guide Mohammed Akef said he was preparing his movement to fight Israel. Akef, criticizing the response of Arab leaders, said he would send 10,000 volunteers to Lebanon to join the Hizbullah war.

"If they [Arab leaders] weren't Muslims, we would have killed them, because they are a bigger threat to the nation than Israel itself," Akef said.

Diplomats and analysts said Akef's call would probably not lead to immediate Brotherhood operations against Israel. But they said he represented growing Islamist unrest against the Mubarak regime as well as Israel and the United States.

Over the last week, Egyptian authorities have retaliated. At least 40 Brotherhood leaders, most of them members of the Shura Council, were arrested.

The highest level member arrested was Mahmoud Izzat, the No. 2 figure of the Brotherhood. Akef was not detained.

"When [Akef] says that he can control 10,000 armed men, it is tantamount to saying that there is a state within the state," Imad Gad, an analyst with Egypt's state-owned Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said.

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