Israel Resource Review 8th November, 2006


Contents:

Why Israel Watches The US Elections
David Bedein, The Evening Bulletin


A question most often asked in the Israeli government is whether a win by the Democratic Party in congressional elections would accelerate expected changes in U.S. policy in the Middle East.

If Democrats carry out campaign promises and pressure the U.S. to expedite a withdrawal from Iraq, there would be significant ramifications for Israel. It is universally understood that a U.S. withdrawal would be viewed by the Arab world as a defeat of the West, and stimulate a renewed spirit of warfare by all of Israel's Arab adversaries, which would include the Palestinian Authority.

Jordan, which maintains a much more stable peace treaty with Israel than the Jewish state has witnessed with Egypt, would suddenly feel a new threat on its eastern and northern front, from Iraq and Syria respectively, with Iran lurking in the background.

Meanwhile, Israeli policy makers have not lost sight of the fact that two of Israel's harshest critics, James Baker and Lee Hamilton, the two principal proponents of the Iraq Study Group, are indeed expected to present recommendations for the U.S. military presence in Iraq later in November. This group is expected to advise the U.S. government that Israel must make wide-ranging concessions to the Palestinian Authority and to Syria, with or without reciprocity.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert plans to meet President George Bush in Washington on November 13 in a discussion expected to focus on Iran's nuclear program, Syria, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.

Israel is still reeling from U.S. Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice's decision to provide arms and support for the Fatah organization, despite the fact that the Fatah organization has done nothing to disband its Al Aksa Brigades, which continues to be defined by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization.

In short, Israel's hope for a friendly U.S. Congress at this time cannot be understated at this time, to act as a check and balance against those forces in Washington who could care less about Israel's fate and future.

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Bush Saddened About Casualties in Gaza.
[Aaron Lerner: No Context - Constrasting with Russian statement]


[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: In contrast, while the Russian statement today criticized Israel, it also put it in context, stating that "In our opinion, extremist forces in Gaza also bear their share of responsibility that by continued rocket firings at Israeli territory - yesterday alone they fired five Qassam rockets at the towns of Sderot and Ashkelon - provoke the authorities of Israel into a military reaction."]

For Immediate Release Office of the White House Press Secretary November 8, 2006 Statement by the President www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/11/20061108-5.html

The United States is deeply saddened by the injuries and loss of life in Gaza today. We send our condolences to the families of all those affected. We have seen the Israeli Government's apology and understand an investigation has begun. We hope it will be completed quickly and that appropriate steps will be taken to avoid a repetition of this tragic incident. We call on all parties to act with care and restraint so as to avoid any harm to innocent civilians.

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IDF: Hamas steps up production of Qassam rockets in Gaza Strip
Amos Harel


www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/785089.html

Senior Israel Defense Forces officers believe that Hamas has managed to overcome the technological barrier that has so far prevented it from stockpiling a large number of Qassam rockets.

According to the officers, the group succeeded in expediting its production of rockets in an effort to create a new level of deterrence vis-a-vis Israel in the Gaza Strip.

IDF forces pulled out of the town of Beit Hanun Tuesday, but in fighting in other parts of the northern Gaza Strip, seven Palestinians were killed. Within several hours of the end of "Operation Autumn Clouds" there, four Qassams struck Ashkelon.

To date Hamas has been unsuccessful at solving the problem of storing Qassam rockets for long periods of time without their becoming ineffective. The fact that the rockets became unusable so quickly necessitated a nearly immediate and constant launch of the weapons, and prevented the group from accumulating a "critical mass" of the rockets.

Senior officers say that now, with the smuggling into Gaza of large quantities of military-grade explosives, Hamas seems to have managed to breach the technological barrier it was facing. It also appears that the militant organization has stepped up production of the missiles.

The accumulation of thousands of rockets over time will allow the organization, at a time of its choosing, to initiate a major and enduring bombardment of Sderot and other towns in the western Negev, just like Hezbollah did by targeting the Galilee during the war in Lebanon this summer.

At Southern Command, the results of the operation in Beit Hanun are considered to be positive. During the past week, some 60 Palestinians were killed in IDF operations; according to an examination by Haaretz, they included 18 civilians.

A senior officer told Haaretz Tuesday night that "the operations in the Gaza Strip will have to take on a different character in the future, similar to what we did in Beit Hanun.

It is no longer possible to chase after a single Qassam - and we had no illusions that the operation would bring to an end the rocket attacks forever. The point is that we need to bring them under constant pressure and establish deterrence, so that they will be less inclined to launch [rockets].

"The fact that Hamas is now looking desperately for a solution to bring an end to the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit proves that the pressure we place on them is working," he added.

The same officer said that he believed the IDF will continue its offensive operations in the Gaza Strip, using varying levels of force.

"However," he said, "in the future we will be involved in more dramatic missions. One way or another we will have to deal with the strengthening of Hamas."

The Qassam rockets that hit Ashkelon Tuesday were of an improved model, capable of reaching targets 21 kilometers away. Two landed in the city and two in the southern industrial zone. No casualties were reported.

From HAARETZ, November 8 2006

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Russian Version of Condemnation of Israeli Attacks


MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION INFORMATION AND PRESS DEPARTMENT ______________________________ 32/34 Smolenskaya-Sennaya pl., 119200, Moscow G-200; tel.: (495) 244 4119, fax: 244 4112 e-mail: dip@mid.ru, web-address: www.mid.ru

Unofficial translation from Russian

In Relation to the New Aggravation of the Situation in the Gaza Strip www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/e78a48070f128a7b43256999005bcbb3/70b7fbb03bcaa775c3257220003ada9d?OpenDocument

1952-08-11-2006

On November 8, Israeli tanks shelled a residential block in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, reportedly killing 18 Palestinians, including children, and wounding more than 40 others. We extend our deeply felt condolences to the families and relatives of the dead and sympathy for the injured.

Moscow is extremely concerned by this tragic incident with many casualties among the civilian population. We consider that the Israeli army's actions go beyond the declared aims to prevent firings at Israel from Gaza and lead to a further exacerbation of the situation in Palestinian-Israel relations.

Unfortunately, the present escalation of violence is occurring precisely when the major political forces of the Palestinian National Authority are trying to form a coalition government which would be able to tackle the vital problems of the Palestinians and forge constructive engagement with Israel.

In our opinion, extremist forces in Gaza also bear their share of responsibility that by continued rocket firings at Israeli territory - yesterday alone they fired five Qassam rockets at the towns of Sderot and Ashkelon - provoke the authorities of Israel into a military reaction.

To cease the bloodshed we call on both sides to put an end to the exchange of strikes victimizing innocent civilians and undertake urgent steps to stabilize the situation and re-establish political dialogue. There is no reasonable alternative to this.

November 8, 2006

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UN Determines that Report of Israel Using Depleted Uranium Munitions is False


http://vitalperspective.typepad.com/vital_perspective_clarity/2006/11/un_determines_t.html

UN Determines that Report of Israel Using Depleted Uranium Munitions is False

Reports that Israel used depleted uranium (DU) munitions in the war in Lebanon this summer hold no water according to UN experts who found no evidence to support those claims.

"The samples taken by the UNEP scientists show no evidence of penetrators or metal made of DU or other radioactive material," UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a statement in Nairobi Monday. "In addition, no DU shrapnel, or other radioactive residue was found. The analysis of all smear samples taken shows no DU, nor enriched uranium nor higher than natural uranium content in the samples."

The UNEP statement said a sub-team of inspectors looking specifically at the DU issue had visited 32 sites south and north of the Litani river. "Following strict field procedures, a range of smear, dust and soil samples were taken. The samples were analyzed in October-November at an internationally-recognized laboratory in Switzerland," it said.

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Why will Prime Minister Olmert Not Promise to Provide All Possible Protection for An Israeli city under Daily Bombardment?.
David Bedein


Why will Prime Minister Olmert Not Promise to Provide All Possible Protection for An Israeli city under Daily Bombardment?.

by: David Bedein, Bureau Chief, Israel Resource News Agency, tel. 0547 222 661

The prognosis is that Gaza missile attacks on the Western Negev will continue., and that they will only increase in their lethal ferocity - given confirmed news reports that Egypt has facilitated massive amount supplies of Hizbullah type weaponry to be deployed in Gaza.

Given such a scenario, the new Sderot Information and Media Center spent its first two months of operation assessing the needs of the population of Sderot that need to be addressed by the government, while forwarding these concerns to the attention of the Prime Minister of Israel.

While there are 17 social work professionals in Sderot, the city needs a center for coordination of emergency social services and it needs a trauma center. At the same time, there is a sore lack of funding for psychiatrists and psychologists on the scene. The question was asked: Will the government allocate funds for these purposes?

While there are eighty shelters in Sderot, they are locked and not yet ready, and at least then ten of the shelters are without water and electricity. The question was asked: will the government prepare these shelters immediately, to cope with a Lebanon-type situation which may require the population to stay in these shelters for a considerable period of time?

While several hundred homes now have 'safe rooms' in which to escape to when the siren sounds, at least 800 homes in Sderot have no safe rooms in case of attack. The question was asked: Will the government allocate resources to build safe rooms contiguous to these homes?

While a 34 million shekel security protection budget was created for Sdeort, only 20% of that budget has allocated. The question was asked: When will the rest of the funds be allocated?

While the government has made every effort to protect some of the schools in Sderot from Gaza missiles, some of the Sderot schools have only been partially protected and others have not been protected at all. The question was asked: When will the government complete the protection of all schools in Sderot?

While Sderot is being fired on from teeming UNRWA camp in Jabalya, with some of those missiles fired from United Nations school yards, the question was asked: Will the government make a formal demand to UNRWA and to the nations which fund UNRWA (USA- 31%, for example.) to stop allowing UNRWA Jabalya residents from firing rockets into Sderot?

The Prime Minister's office took time to relate to some of these questions, yet with answers that reflected a policy of willful neglect.

Concerning the need for enhanced mental health services in Sderot , a senior official of the Prime Minister's office wrote that "the government allocates annual funds to the local authorities to support the welfare services, and decisions about provision at the local level should be directed to the relevant authorities . . . "

Concerning the shelter situation in Sderot, the Prime Minister's staffer wrote that "the ssue of shelters is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior, and questions should be directed to the local authority as well, which is the major body who is in charge on the shelters. As to your questions about the lack of shelters and the amount of budget used already - I have no information about it".

Concerning the lack of protection for the schools of Sderot, the Prime Minister's staffer wrote that "as to the protection of school classes - the decision as of the way to protect these classes (including which classes should be protected) was taken by professionals".

For whatever reason, the Prime Minister's staffer did not relate to why there will be no increase in the Israel government allocations to reinforce the area with mental health professionals. He also chose not to relate to the question of why a trauma center will not be created. Given the emergency stress situation of an area under siege, if the government does not have the resources, he question remains as to whether the PM ask for resources from private corporations and/or from local or foreign philanthropies. While the PM's staffer was correct to note that all decisions are made on the local level, he knows full well that allocations emanate from the national level, and that Ehud Olmert himself serves as the Minister of Social Welfare, where all such decisions are made.

Following up on the claim that "professionals" made the decisions concerning the current partial protection policies, no professional staffer in the Israel Ministry of Education nor the local Sderot department of education was ready to say that he advised the government to leave some schools partially protected and to leave other schools with no protection whatsoever. . What the Ministry of Education and the local Sderot department of education state on the record is that they simply have no more budget to protect their schools, which begs the question as to why Prime Minister Olmert will not initiate an effort to raise ALL funds necessary that are needed to protect ALL schools and kindergartens in Sderot and the Western Negev?

Given the emergency stress situation of an area under siege, if the government does not have the resources, it is baffling that the Prime Minister of Israel is not launching a campaign to seek resources from private corporations and/or from local or foreign philanthropies to protect schools now under fire.

Perhaps the unkindest cut of all concerns the answer that the Prime Minister's staffer provided concerning the shelter situation in Sderot. Following the Prime Minister's referral of the shelter question to the Israel Ministry of Interior, that ministry referred the question of ill-prepared shelters to the Israel Civil Defence Command, known in Hebrew as the "PIKUD HAOREF", which will not provide an why the shelters in Sderot are locked and not prepared for the eventuality of an escalation of bombing which would require the residents of Sderot to stay in shelters for long periods of time.

In sum, the office of the Prime Minister of Israel has stated in writing that it will not commit itself to provide further any further protection for schools in Sderot, that it will not take any responsibility to prepare shelters in Sderot, and that it will not enhance the mental health services for a city of 20,000 under daily bombardment that is only expected to only get worse.

Last week, a group of third graders in a school in Sderot asked to return to their second grade class. Why? Because their second grade classroom is protected, and the third grade classroom is not protected.

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert will appear at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations in Los Angeles. Representatives of the the Jewish communities throughout North America may want to ask him why he is not protecting the third graders of Sderot. and why he will not assure the people of Sderot that the government will do everything in its power to protect every resident there, whether funds come from the Israel government budget, from generous Israeli corporations, or from sources in Diaspora philanthropy.

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