Israel Resource Review 26th May, 2007


Ya'alon: Disengagement cause of Lebanon war: Former IDF chief of staff sees clear connection between pullout from Gaza, second Lebanon war. Ground incursion in Strip, he says, may be inevitable

Ynet Published: 05.26.07, 19:57 / Israel News,7340,L-3404672,00.html

Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon said he sees a clear connection between last summer's disengagement, the escalating situation in southern Israel and the Second Lebanon war.

"Forty years after the Six Day War, it seems we've lost our fighting instinct. These last couple of years all we've been hearing is that we are strong enough to concede, strong enough to run away, or at least that's how it's being perceived by the other side."

"In order to get the other side to recognize our right to exist as an independent Jewish State, we have to come off forceful," added Ya'alon. "It seems like all we're doing is fighting the losing battle of Zionism."

Ya'alon spoke Saturday on Channel 2's "meet the press", and said he doesn't see any way around a wide scale ground incursion in Gaza.

"The problem in Gaza won't go away, and no one can solve it for us, not Egypt, or an international force," said Ya'alon.

"We have to get to the terrorists, get to their workshops and hit the infrastructure. We did it in 'Homat Magen'," added Ya'alon "and we had our reservations before launching that operation too. you have to be blind to think entering Gaza in unnecessary."

Cleaning the place up

"It's not exactly a walk in the park," said Ya'alon when asked if a ground incursion in Gaza means an all out war.

"Previous operations in Khan Younis and Rafah were war as well. that's what the military is for, to protect civilians. I'm not talking about going in and staying there," he added. "I'm talking about cleaning the place up."

According to Ya'alon, the problem in Sderot isn't fortifications, it's the "terror-state" established in Gaza.

"We'll have no choice in the end, but to go in Gaza with an attainable goal - strike the terrorist infrastructure and defer the threat from Sderot and the Gaza vicinity communities."

Evacuating Sderot gives the terrorists the victory they crave, said Ya'alon. "Our withdrawal was seen as running away, which is why we must think of a wider answer to the situation in Gaza."

"We may have no choice but to take Gaza again," said Ya'alon. "I'm not talking about ruling the city, but if we don't go in now, when their firing at Sderot, we'll find ourselves with rockets in Ashdod."

No partner for peace

Ya'alon doesn't agree with the concept of a two-state solution. Israel has to find the real initiative among all those offered, said Ya'alon when asked about the Saudi peace plan.

Israel, maintained Ya'alon, has no partner for any peace process. "If we had a partner, I would be willing to consider some sort of a territorial compromise, but they consider all land, coast to coast, as being under occupation.

".we already decided we will content ourselves with the 67' borders, but the other side wants everything. If we keep conceding there will be no partner."

According to Ya'alon Israel is in the midst of a leadership crisis, which can only be resolved by a change of leadership.

"There is a crisis of faith in the current leadership," he said, "and seeing how the defense minister (Amir Peretz)has already said he intends to step down, I assume the rest will follow."

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

A New Contract
Member of Knesset, Arieh Eldad

[translation of article that appeared in Maariv, May 25th, 2007]

"Your people are my people and your G-d is my G-d," said Ruth the Moabite to Naomi her mother-in-law, and she joined the Jewish people, and "Boaz redeemed her and she begat Obed and Obed begat Jesse and Jesse begat David." Thus ends the Megilla of Ruth which we read on the holiday of Shavuot.

Did not the elders of Bethlehem, who sat at the city gate and ruled that Boaz was permitted – even obligated – to redeem and marry Ruth, remember what is written in Deuteronomy: "An Amonite and a Moabite shall not come unto the community of G-d, even unto the tenth generation shall they not come into the community of G-d, forever"? Did not Rabbi Berachiya and Rabbi Simon, who conclude the Midrash Rabba commentary on the Megilla of Ruth by stating that all the generations up until King David were merely a divine sifting and selection until G-d found David, remember that King David is the great-grandson of a Moabite?

How would the history of Israel look if the elders of Bethlehem had been picky about the descent from Ruth? Even assuming that Ruth was converted according to halacha, we can only be thankful that a miracle occurred and there was no rabbinical court in that generation that abrogated her conversion, as recently happened with a rabbinical court in Ashdod, which abrogated the conversion of a woman that took place 15 years ago. The court retroactively abrogated her marriage after she admitted she had not been careful in observing the commandments and ruled that her children were not Jews, and this because the rabbi (Orthodox, not Reform) who converted her, Rabbi Chaim Druckman, is a "sinner" supposedly bringing pure gentiles into the nation of Israel. Another recent news item is that rabbinical courts are opposing those who wish to convert if their spouse (Jewish from birth) refuses to observe a religious lifestyle or is not willing to leave his place of work where immodestly dressed women also work.

A week ago, the news also included a story about a major offensive by important rabbis against 30 Zionist rabbis who ascended the Temple Mount. And a torrent of curses descended upon those who – with rabbinical support – proposed legislation to formalize the character of the Sabbath in the State of Israel in the light of an accord written by Rabbi Jacob Meidan and Professor Ruth Gabison.

The common denominator of these three phenomena – the fight against conversion, against ascending Temple Mount, and against a Sabbath law – as well as the refusal to address the needs of women whose husbands refuse to grant them divorce papers (a get), or permit enlistment in the Israeli army, is that they are attempts to be disconnected from history, to ignore the reality of our lives while burying one's head in holy ground.

Hundreds of thousands of citizens who made aliya to Israel under the Law of Return cannot marry, hundreds of thousands of Arabs do as they wish on Temple Mount while only Jews are forbidden to ascend in order to avoid contaminating the holy mountain, millions of Israelis have turned the Sabbath into a day of shopping and work, thousands of women cannot marry because they are waiting for a get their husbands refuse to grant, tens of thousands of Haredi youth are not serving in the army and not doing any alternate national service because "their Torah is their livelihood," and super-models walk semi-naked in fashion shows after they win exemptions from military service claiming to be deeply religious.

And the rabbinic establishment of Israel is convinced that they are thus saving the Eternal One of Israel.

This week the Knesset marked Herzl Day. Herzl gave us political Zionism, but only a small portion of the nation accepted it. Most of Orthodox Judaism fervently fought Herzl. Detached from the history swirling around them, deaf to the hammering that was building the gas chambers, most of the rabbis in Europe preferred the ancient oath which came after the Bar Kochba rebellion "not to go up as a wall" to the oath of the Kabbalists Joseph Caro and Solomon Elkabatz to go up to Israel in order to redeem the Divine Presence and be redeemed. Thus the State of Israel was established mostly by secular Zionists who, even though they actualized with their bodies the Jewish souls beating within – failed to bequeath this beating Jewish soul to their grandchildren.

Trying to live outside of history in the last century brought about the destruction of millions in Europe. Trying to live outside of history today may bring about and maybe already has brought about the division of our people into two peoples, the ceding of the Temple Mount to the Arabs, the separation of religion from the state, and the abandonment of the Jewish character of the State of Israel.

At the time of the first return to Zion from Babylonian Exile, the people were led by Ezra the Scribe and Nehemiah the statesman. After they built the walls of Jerusalem, they read the Torah to the whole people and renewed the covenant between Israel and its G-d. They wrote a new contract to be signed by all the leaders of the people. Today, too, the State of Israel is not enough, the Israel Defense Forces and military campaigns are not enough; we cannot hide behind ancient walls in a sort of Karaite-ism of the Oral Torah. We need a new contract.

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

Remarks by U.S. Security Coordinator LTG Keith Dayton


In response to a question about Israel's security raised by subcommittee ranking member Mike Pence (R-Indiana), Dayton assured the members, "Nothing we do to strengthen the Palestinian's security capability will be targeted against Israel . . . the presidential guard will not become a threat to Israel." No doubt this is because the Palestinian "moderates" assure LTG Keith Dayton that they won't.

And why would they lie to him?] -------

Remarks by U.S. Security Coordinator LTG Keith Dayton Update on the Israeli-Palestinian Situation and Palestinian Assistance Programs House Foreign Affairs Middle East and South Asia Sub-Committee May 23, 2007

Mr. Chairman, Representative Pence, and Members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to testify today. We are all well aware of the deterioration of the security and economic situation in the territories - especially in Gaza - over the last few months. There is a point where inaction - a wait and see attitude- is not an option. The security assistance package that we have proposed, and that was recently approved by Congress, is action and I intend to make the most of it.

First, let me provide a few comments on the current security situation, and then I will address the status of our programs. The violence of the past ten days has clearly demonstrated that the Palestinian security situation, especially in Gaza, has deteriorated significantly since the last time I met with this committee. An atmosphere of lawlessness exists in Gaza, with simple disputes often devolving into gunfights. The Palestinian Minister of Interior, tasked with bringing security to the streets, resigned earlier this month. The HAMAS Prime Minister has assumed his responsibilities while his own party's militias are engaged in a fierce battle with the legitimate Palestinian security forces. The legally constituted Palestinian security forces in the territories - the Presidential Guard, the National Security Forces (NSF), and the Civil Police - are engaged in a battle for law and order like never before. In addition to outright aggression by HAMAS militias, other smaller factions, some also backed by Iran, have conducted attacks throughout the Gaza Strip against the security forces under the authority of President Abbas, creating a situation of total anarchy and highlighting factional divisions between Fatah and Hamas, and probably within Hamas itself. The conflict has also spilled across the border into Israel, with hundreds of Qassams fired at Sderot and nearby communities by rejectionist groups, a reminder that while HAMAS's intermediate target may be the Fatah-loyal forces of law and order in the Gaza Strip, the paramount goal for the rejectionists remains and will continue to be the destruction of Israel. Israel has now launched airstrikes and a limited ground incursion into the Gaza Strip in response to the more recent and damaging Qassam fire this week.

The goal of U.S. security assistance is to help create the conditions necessary to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace via the Roadmap. Through the programs we are just beginning with the Presidential Guard, and at the Karni crossing, we are working with President Abbas to create an environment of security, stability and prosperity in the Palestinian territories. This assistance is a good beginning, but it can only do so much to affect the factional violence and lawlessness pervasive in Gaza at this time. Through the provision of training and non-lethal equipment, the United States is providing the Palestinian Presidential Guard, a force tasked with the protection of the President, VIPs and critical installations, as well as key crossings with Israel, a "security horizon", an assurance that they have support and have a future. The NSF and civil police, the forces tasked with the day-to-day responsibility for ensuring law and order, do not have that assurance. These forces face a daunting challenge not only by HAMAS's Executive Force but also its military force, Izz al Din al Qassam Brigades, both of whom continue to receive support from Iran and Syria. We continue to evaluate the situation and consider ways in which we can take a more proactive role in affecting the dangerous conditions and support President Abbas in his efforts to bring the lawlessness in Gaza under control.

The recent violence in Gaza may in fact be the beginning of a sustained effort by the HAMAS military wing to reassert the dominance of the most extreme elements in the Palestinian political community, and to eliminate altogether Abbas's legitimate security forces in Gaza, creating an extremist statelet on the border of Israel, a major concern that is the subject of frequent discussions I have with my Israeli counterparts. I note that the Presidential Guard unit at the Karni crossing with Israel, who has already received training coordinated by the USSC mission and funded by European donors, successfully stood its ground last week and fought off a determined HAMAS attack. The NSF battalion there also acquitted itself well, despite its dire need of material and financial support and the death of its battalion commander. I fear HAMAS is in this fight for keeps. For this hearing, let me say that the worrisome scenario in Gaza that I have been warning about for the past several months is coming to a head. We are entering a rough patch, but all is not lost and our regional partners share that sentiment. However, it is critical that those who support the legitimate authority and forces represented by President Abbas receive the critical assistance they need.

The United States is leading the international effort to positively affect this worrisome situation, and the security assistance plan we have just begun to implement is pointing out the way forward for all international and regional allies. The programs I will discuss briefly are truly important to advance our national interests, deliver security to Palestinians, and preserve and protect the interests of the State of Israel. I thank you for your support.

The U.S. Security Coordinator Mission, working in close coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the Consulate General in Jerusalem, is focused on three priorities, which are vital to the realization of the President's vision of two independent states living side-by-side in peace and security:

1. Improving the security at the Gaza crossings, particularly at the Karni crossing, to advance the goals of the Agreement on Movement and Access and boost Palestinian economic development while addressing Israeli security concerns; 2. Improving the capabilities of the Abbas-controlled Presidential Guard to help them protect the President and VIPs, manage security at the crossings, and respond to urgent security situations; 3. Working with the Office of the President to establish a capacity for security service oversight, reform, and strategic planning.

The $16 million assistance package for infrastructure improvements on the Palestinian side of the Karni crossing will result in a major security enhancement at this vital commercial link between Gaza and Israel. This work will be implemented by USAID, and they have already issued a solicitation of interest from Gazan construction firms. This is vital for the recovery of the Gaza economy and to address legitimate Israeli security concerns at the crossing. This project has the enthusiastic support of the State of Israel. We have a temporary security zone almost complete on the Palestinian side, financed largely by the Dutch, British, Norwegians and Canadians, and this has resulted in a further 15% daily increase in Palestinian exports in April over the months before. The master plan for the construction project will be complete this summer and final construction will begin before September. The Palestinians, Government of Israel, and members of the international community are investing time and money in this project, complementing our own efforts. We still have our work cut out for us to achieve the AMA goals, but the US $16 million will go a long way towards achieving them.

The Presidential Guard is primed to receive the equipment and training envisioned in its $40 million assistance package. We will focus on close protection to the Office of the President and VIPs, critical logistical and administrative functions, management of security at crossing points, and crisis response. The State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) is partnering with the State Department's Office of Anti-Terrorism (ATA) to provide critical training to the PG. Our planning is well advanced on the training curriculum, and the equipment lists, 100 percent non-lethal, have been finalized. We are proceeding cautiously and expeditiously with our program, and ensuring that the appropriate protocols for vetting and oversight are in place - both in the field and in Washington. I am happy to provide greater details on our vetting process which includes checks for both terrorist affiliation and gross human rights violations. These mechanisms have been coordinated with INL and are already being put in place. Our efforts have been closely coordinated with my Israeli colleagues; there will be no surprises. The practical effect of our preparations is that U.S. funds should begin to make a difference by mid-summer.

The $3 million assistance package to the Office of National Security (ONS) ensures that the USSC has a strong and capable Palestinian partner as we proceed with Palestinian security sector transformation and our focus on a smaller, but more capable Palestinian Security Force, operating under the rule of law and with respect for human rights.

In summary, I am committed personally and professionally to putting the $59 million authorized to me by the Congress to the uses you intended with the Presidential Guard, the Karni Crossing, and the Office of National Security under President Abbas. We must remain mindful of the dangerous challenges facing Abbas's security forces, and continue to encourage our European and Arab partners to complement our efforts with their own assistance. I and my team are in place to help coordinate these efforts in support of U.S. and International commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the realization of the two-state vision.

Thank you.

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

Inside the Palestinian Refugee war in the UNRWA camps in Lebanon
Arlene Kushner

© A. Kushner 2007

In the last several days world attention has been drawn to the Nahr al Bared UNRWA refugee camp in northern Lebanon, where Lebanese Armed Forces have entered and are doing battle in order to drive out a militant Sunni group associated with al-Qaida, called Fatah al-Islam. The group, which has Syrian support, is led by a Palestinian, Shaker Abssi, and consists, according to reports, mostly of Palestinians, but includes others such as Syrians and Jordanians.

The Lebanese army has encountered stiff resistance in the camp – where they were fired upon by machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. That a militant group would headquarter in a Palestinian refugee camp, and that violence would ensue, should not come as a surprise.

There are presently close to 400,000 Palestinian Arabs in Lebanon who are registered with UNRWA as refugees. Of these, some 225,000 live in the 12 official UNRWA refugee camps that currently exist in Lebanon – all but one of these camps (the exception being one adjacent to Ba'albek) are situated near the Mediterranean coast. The remainder of the registered refugee population lives in close proximity to the camps.

The situation of the Palestinian refugees inside of Lebanon is – by any one of a number of measures – worse than that of Palestinian Arab refugees living in other areas in which UNRWA functions: Jordan, Syria, Gaza, and Judea and Samaria. They endure greater poverty, a higher infant mortality rate, and poorer housing. Lebanon affords the Palestinians little in the way of social and civil rights and actually prevents them from working in dozens of professions. In a word, the Lebanese are hostile to the Palestinians and have no intention of making life easy for them or integrating them.

There have been UNRWA refugees camps in Lebanon since 1950, and the Palestinians situated there were never welcomed or integrated. But current Lebanese hostility to the Palestinians was generated in good part by historical events of thirty years ago. When the PLO was thrown out of Jordan in 1970, Arafat moved his cadres to south Lebanon, and took over the refugee camps there, establishing a political, economic and military presence so considerable that it was referred to as a "state within a state."

Ultimately the Lebanese paid an enormous price for this situation. The PLO financial empire, called SAMED, established farming and manufacturing industries and, utilizing cheap Palestinian refugee labor, became one of Lebanon's largest employers; they harvested poppies in the Bekaa Valley for an extensive drug trade, as well. The balance of Lebanon's fragile multi-factional society was upset in part by the presence of the Palestinians, who numbered some 300,000 by 1975 and had developed into a primary military force in Southern Lebanon. They established a law unto themselves that undermined Lebanese sovereignty, and they played a role in Lebanon's civil war.

Perhaps bitterest of all to the Lebanese was the PLO use of Lebanese soil as the base for attacks into northern Israel. This provoked Israeli bombardment of Palestinian targets in south Lebanon, and then, in 1982, Israeli military movement into southern Lebanon to drive out the Palestinians.

The PLO infrastructure was driven out and moved to Tunis. The Palestinian presence in the camps remained, however. To a considerable degree the residents of the camps continued to be a law unto themselves: By long standing agreement – dating from the time of the PLO – the Lebanese army has no authority to enter the camps, which are controlled by armed Palestinian militias. The entrance now of the Lebanese army into this camp marks a departure from what has been the norm. Lebanese from the area of Tripoli, near Nahr al Bared, cheered as the LAF entered.

The Palestinian residents of the UNRWA refugee camps in Lebanon, as described above, are seen as a beleaguered population – and there is clearly a way in which this is so. But they are also a radicalized population, often working against the best interests of a stable, independent Lebanon. In 2005, after the withdrawal from Lebanon of Syrian forces, both Syrian weapons and agents were moved into the Palestinian camps. Last summer, during the Lebanese War, the Palestinians in the UNRWA camps provided support for Hezbollah and a secure hiding place for some of its weaponry.

At present close to one-half of the 30,000 residents of Nahr al Bared have fled, many to the UNRWA camp at Beddawi or to Tripoli. Meanwhile, Richard Cook, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, is expressing outrage that a UNRWA relief convoy that entered the camp on Tuesday was fired upon.

UNRWA officials now concede that they knew months ago about the presence of a heavily armed Fatah al-Islam group in the camp in Lebanon but were helpless to do anything about it. "Somebody hasn't been doing their job," said Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd, referring to the Palestinian militias who patrol the camps. According to her the Palestinians refugees in the camp are unhappy about the presence of Fatah al-Islam.

AbuZayd's statement opens the door to many questions:

In early 1998, Kofi Annan, then secretary-general of the UN, stated in a report that, "Refugee camps and settlements must be kept free of any military presence or equipment, including arms and ammunition…the neutrality and humanitarian character of the camps and settlements must be scrupulously maintained."

The Security Council, reflecting the spirit of Annan's words, subsequently adopted Resolution 1208, acknowledging that "the maintenance of the civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps and settlements is an integral part of the national, regional and international response to refugee situations, and underlining "the unacceptability of using refugees and other persons in refugee camps and settlements to achieve military purposes."

In light of this, how is it that armed Palestinian militias have been permitted to continue to control the UNRWA camps in Lebanon? Further how is it that UNRWA officials kept quiet for months when in possession of the knowledge that a heavily armed Fatah al-Islam group was in an UNRWA camp? The inability of UNRWA officials to "do anything" about the situation directly – because UNRWA possess no armed forces – does not absolve them of responsibility to call the situation to the attention of the Security Council or the international community more broadly.

Lastly, AbuZayd's statement regarding the fact that the Palestinian militias in the camp "weren't doing their job" shines a spotlight on the very serious matter of possible complicity of Palestinians in the camps with the radical Islamic group.


Arlene Kushner, an American-Israeli journalist working in Jerusalem, has prepared four major reports on UNRWA for the Center for Near East Policy Research. Additionally she has written articles about UNRWA that have appeared in such publications as Azure Magazine and The Jerusalem Post.

Arlene Kushner is Senior Research Associate, Center for Near East Policy Research

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

How will Israel cope with expected Arab civilian deaths?

Missiles from Gaza are now being fired from populated areas in Gaza.

The Sderot Media Center filmed a missile fired from the roof top of an apartment building in Gaza which can be seen in the second video clip at:

The IDF has given orders to kill any and all rocket launchers.

That order means that it is a matter of time before we witness massive Arab civlian casualties in Gaza.

Bitselem, funded by European governments and by the NEW ISRAEL FUND, has issued a warning to the IDF not to kill civilians, saying that this would be a war crime. This follows quieter Bitselem statements that harboring terrorists is also a war crime

US State Department spokespeople have also warned Israel against attacking civilians.

We interviewed the head of the IDF CODE OF ETHICS committee, Prof. Assa Kasher and asked Kasher if the ethical code of the IDF would indeed allow the IDF to neutralize a missile launcher if it fires missiles from the roof of an apartment building, regardless of civilian casualties that may occur as a result of that attack

Kasher's answer was "yes".

Israel will undoubtedly face an international media blitz after charred bodies of men, women and children are filmed by Palestinian media professionals, as their corpses are carried out of these buildings that the IAF will flatten.

How does Israel plan to cope with that situation?

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

Go to the Israel Resource Review homepage

The Israel Resource Review is brought to you by the Israel Resource, a media firm based at the Bet Agron Press Center in Jerusalem, and the Gaza Media Center under the juristdiction of the Palestine Authority.
You can contact us on