|Israel Resource Review
||29th June, 2005
The EU Ambassador comes to
Sderot Correspondent, Israel Resource News Agency
hit so frequently and relentlessly with Kassam missles and
mortars that people often forget that it is not actually part of
the Gaza Strip.
700 rockets have fallen on this town since 2001 is to almost surely place Sderot somewhere in that volatile area.
But that placement would be in error.
Sderot is as much a part of territorial Israel as Tel Aviv or Haifa. It is a town that was founded not after 1967, but in the mid 1950's, with over 20,000 strong. But for all those numbers speaking up on behalf of this place, there is one number that puts all 20,000 in danger every day, and that number is 800. Sderot, though it is within territorial Israel, is only 800 meters from Bet Hanun, an Arab city in the Gaza Strip that, hundreds of rockets later, still can't seem to satisfy its itchy trigger fingers.
And with the disengagement from Gaza less than two months away, many fear the situation will greatly deteriorate as the Arabs try to take the upswing after an Israeli withdrawal. The likely possibility of a worsening state of affairs presented a backdrop, though, which brought to Sderot an unexpected visitor last week. Ambassador Ramiro Cibri'in Uzal of the European Union came to City Hall as a guest of Mayor Eli Moyal, while admittedly not amid much fan fair, as no journalist formally invited to come to his press conference actually showed up.
Despite this, Mayor Moyal himself was still intent on letting the Ambassador know the effects of the attacks on his city. "Parents don't send their kids to schools…a lot of kids in Sderot cannot sleep at night," he told him. "We need psychologists. If you really want to help this area, we need a trauma center." Uzal then offered to "see what he could do" about getting EU funding for the idea. He also offered to bring several of Sderot's children to Europe during the month of August for a summer camp program if he was able to do so.
Uzal suggested at the meeting that Israel give the Palestinian Authority more small arms in order to fight the terrorists launching missiles from Bet Hanun. If put up against Hamas with their current arms load, "…according to my information," he said, "the Palestinian police could sustain fire for ten minutes."
Moyal did not agree. "This is de ja vu. We had this in Rabin's days," he said, referring to the agreement under the 1993 Oslo Accords to supply Yasser Arafat's PA with guns. "If you ask me, there is no law and order in Bet Hanun. I believe the terrorists are running the town," he continued. "Why shoot at Sderot? It's inside the border. They are not interested in a state. They are terrorists," he said.
Also present at the meeting was former Israel Defense Minister and current Sderot local Yitzhak Mordecai, who also had what to say to the Ambassador. "I think the EU has a responsibility here…I know the Gaza Strip better than my own house. If they deploy one police force in Bet Hanun, there will be quiet in Sderot," he said.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the Ambassador was brought to a vantage point and shown a view of Bet Hanun with the UNRWA Jabalya refugee camp off in the distance. Asked what the EU's policy was toward Israel if she were to get hit by more missiles from that area after the disengagement takes place, he equivocated. "I hope it will not happen, but if it happens, ask me then," he said. "This is like asking what will I do if the European Union disintegrates. I say I hope it will not."
Further asked if it were not relatively more likely that Sderot get hit by Kassam missiles and mortars after the disengagement than the European Union disintegrating, Uzal said, "I do not think so."
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Knesset Briefing on Iranian's
Anna Smushkovich and Joanna Slezak
Special to Israel Resource News Agency
Discussion Leader: MK Dr. Yuri Stern
Alon Bar, Director of the Arms Control Department of the Foreign Ministry
Dr. Ephraim Asculai, Senior Research Associate of the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies
Dr. Jerome Corsi, formerly with the Israel Atomic Energy Commission and author of Atomic Iran
Brigadier-General Yossi Cooperwasser, Head of Military Intelligence Research for the Israel Defense Forces
Dr. Menasha Amir, Voice of Israel Radio Iranian expert
On June 28, members of the Knesset, representatives of the foreign and local press, and members of the diplomatic corps gathered in the Knesset Lecture hall to discuss the most important threat to Israel's security in the near future- Nuclearization of Iran." The consensus of the forum was that the threat is not just an issue of the middleast, but rather a global issue and "virtually all the countries represented at this forum would be affected by it," Dr. Corsi said.
The discussion in the Knesset coincided with the results of the elections in Iran. Discussion leader MK Dr.Yuri Stern commented, "It is now even more urgent than we originally conceived." The other panelists confirmed that the newly elected President Mahmood Ahmadinejad is very dedicated to Islam. He was in the revolutionary guard and has declared that it is Iran's sovereign right to have a nuclear program.
The consensus of the panel was that the President of Iran is not the Prime Minister, but solely responsible for the execution of orders by the Mulas who run the country. Dr. Corsi mentioned, "the Mulas are more like a criminal mafia than a legitimate leadership. Not only do they run their country with a tyrannical hand, they fund terrorist organizations such as hezbollah, Al-Quaida, and Islam Jihaad."
Although there were different estimates for the immediacy of the threat, it was clear that Iran had already built a Uranium Conversion Facility in Natans and Arak. This facility would enable the Iranian government to produce Enriched Uranium and Plutonium, UF6 and UF4 respectively. As General Cooperwasser noted, the plant will undoubtedly be used to produce nuclear weapons. Iran could also get the weapons on the black market from the countries of the former Soviet Union, they have already bought long range missiles from the Ukraine that have the capability of transporting a bomb all the way to Greece. Either way, its just a matter of time.
The speakers described several reasons why Iran needs a Nuclear Program. "Iran is an isolated country that is threatened by its neighbors such as Turkey, Pakistan, and Afghanistan." Dr. Menasha Amir said. The nuclear issue of Iran is a matter of its national security and prestige. Iran wants to be a massive superpower and wants to gain influence on the new Iraq. Amir explained that the Mullahs want to rescue the Islamic world from the infidels and also want to export the revolution as their ultimate goal. He portrayed Iranians as fundamentalists and "Iran as the most anti-semitic country in the world."
Cooperwaser also noted that their philosophy is under attack, and the official line of the regime is that the West oppresses the Middle East. Iran uses terrorist organizations, and the nuclear threat because these are two vulnerabilities of the Western World. The nuclear bomb will enable them to change the nature of their status to become a superpower. Their second goal is "to destroy the state of Israel, because they do not believe that Israel has the right to exist."
The real question is whether the Iranian government will in fact go ahead with the Nuclear Program. Dr. Ephraim Asculai listed four outcomes: First, they have already abandoned the program but are using the threat of the program for blackmail. Second, they have not decided, and are waiting to see whether they can obtain substantial returns. Third, they are simply playing for time. And fourth, they are starting a fully concealed program on a smaller scale that would not be subject to UN inspections while they are buying time. Dr. Ephraim Asculai and Dr. Menasha Amir were of the opinion that the fourth option was the most likely. However, neither believed that Iran would give up the Nuclear program. Alon Bar also mentioned a clandestine program that would deceive the UN inspectors by handing over control of the plans to ministries that would not fall under their jurisdiction.
The discussion became grim as the panelists presented their various solutions to the threat. Dr. Corsi said "there is time to affect peaceful change in Iraq; Iranian people need encouragement from the west in order to overthrow the regime."
In order to show solidarity between the Iranian people, Corsi suggested a 200 mile walk from Philadelphia to Washington DC, broadcasted by Voice of America so that the dissidents would be identified and strengthened. According to Corsi, the White House, as well as Senator Sentorem, endorsed the proposal. In addition, Corsi established the Iran Freedom Foundation and has an office in Turkey that promotes peaceful change in Iran. "Peaceful change is much cheaper than war," Corsi said. He estimated the process to be about $3 million.
Dr. Menasha Amir also agreed that a regime change would be the surest way to prevent nuclear proliferation in Iran, however he warned that the west should be careful not to make it look like a foreign take over.
General Cooperwaser, however, felt that this was unrealistic and that the timetable would not allow for a regime change. Instead, he suggested that the international community should be united in opposing Iran's nuclear program. He further suggested that Iran would be vulnerable to sanctions from the Security Council and would be afraid of complete isolation from the international community. Therefore, the Security Council's firmness on this issue would successfully prevent the threat.
Alon Bar agreed with the general, but he cautioned that the international community would have to be in complete agreement and that there could be no loopholes in any measures that would be taken against Iran. He explained that the strategy of the Iranian regime is to gain time by changing their timetable. However, it is the responsibility of the IEA to ensure that they are not deceived.
To conclude the discussion Dr. Yuri Stern added on a lighter note, "Let's send them orange ribbons; we have plenty!"
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State of Israel in Denial
General Eival Giladi, the man appointed by Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon to administer the forcible evacuation of the Jewish
communities in Samaria and Katif,provided a briefing for the a
packed press audience on Wednesday, June 29th,2005.
Giladi reported that his message was based on three premises:
- Security will bring peace, and not the opposite, which represented the approach of the Oslo Process.
- Better Relations with the Palestinians is not the goal. Strong borders remain the goal
- A new leadership of the Palestinian Arabs is needed.
Giladi stressed that the process is now completely unilateral, yet he also was proud to mention that cooperation with the PA is vital, and that the cooperation with the PA, especially with Muhammad Dahlan, was improving all the time. Giladi did not relate to the fact that Dahlan has been identified by Israeli security as the PLO official who directing the murder campaign against Israel which caused the lives of more than 1000 people murdered in cold blood, throughout the state of Israel, over a period of four years.
Giladi also proudly spoke of his efforts to help the PA establish a seaport, and that Israel's goal was the all Arabs would be able to travel freely from Jenin to Hebron, without passing through a single check point, and how plans are underway for safe passage from Gaza to Judea and Samaria. Giladi did not relate to the fact that the PLO remains in an active, formal state of war with Israel and that. the PLO never ratified the PLO Covenant of War against Israel and never even ratified the Declaration of Principles which launched the Oslo process.
Why would anyone in Israeli intelligence favor a situation where an entity at war with the state of Israel would be assured freedom of movement and economic expansion?
Last week, I asked Giladi's immediate boss, Attorney Dov Weisglass, who acts as the main advisor to Ariel Sharon, as to how the Israeli government could ignore the fact that the PLO never cancelled its covenant of war against the state of Israell, which was the most fundamental and basic PLO commitment to Israel at the outset of the Oslo process. Weisglass's answer: "Did you ever see a Covenant kill anyone? I am much more concerned about their actions".
At a time when many people think that the residents of the Katif district of Gaza are in denial for not owning up to the reality that faces them, as they are being asked to move to communities which will still be in rocket range of Gaza - the time has come to ask the question - Why does the government of Israel operate in a state of denial?
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