Archive for March, 2009

SWI NEWS: 1 Nissan 5769, Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday, March 26th, 2009
Secret operation?

 

 

 

Report: IAF struck arms convoy in Sudan in January

CBS News says Israeli aircraft bombed 17 trucks carrying weapons apparently meant for Hamas about two months ago, reportedly killing 39 people. Report refers to recent agreement to curb smuggling signed by Israel, US. Jerusalem declines comment  
Israeli planes struck in January a convoy of trucks in Sudan that was headed for Egypt and carrying weapons apparently meant for the Gaza Strip, the CBS television network reported Thursday. 
According to the report 17 trucks had been bombed and 39 people had been killed in the strike.  The report was not confirmed by Israel.  The CBS report was based on information provided to Pentagon reporter David Martin by his sources, and published on the blog of the network's Washington-based correspondent Dan Raviv.  According to another report, in the SudanTribune.com website, Israel intelligence has tracked down the convoy northwest of the city of Port Sudan, as it was moving north, and the bombing took place near Mount al-Sha’anoon.  The CBS report also mentions an agreement signed between Israel and the US following Operation Cast Lead in Gaza that calls for increased international efforts to curb weapon smuggling into Hamas-led Gaza.  "American and Israeli diplomats said the (January) agreement includes intelligence coordination to prevent arms from Iran from entering Gaza, maritime efforts to identify ships carrying weaponry, and the sharing of US and European technologies to discover and prevent the use of weapons-smuggling tunnels," the report said, quoting SudnaTribune.com.  The Sudanese website added that the attack was "an embarrassment" to the local government, which discussed the matter with Cairo in order to gather more information and formulate a response. 
One government official, the state Minister for Highways Mabrouk Mubarak Saleem said following the strike: "A major power bombed small trucks carrying arms – burning all of them. It killed Sudanese, Eritreans, and Ethiopians and injured others."  In the beginning of the week Egyptian media reported that American aircraft bombarded a convoy suspected of carrying weapons to Gaza.
 

Israel’s long arm

Operations in Sudan, Syria indicate that Israel is adopting new approach  
Since the end of the Second Lebanon War, where we tried to show our neighbors that we’ve gone crazy, yet didn’t quite succeed in doing it – something changed in Israel. In the time that passed since then it turned out that not only are we angry, we also have very long arms. 
Israel does not take official responsibility for operations deep in enemy territory, yet if they are attributed to Israel by the international media it responds with silence and a wink. This was the case with the bombing of the Syrian reactor in September 2007 and with the “strange accident” at a Syrian missile factory. The same happened when Imad Mugniyah died and when a Syrian general named Suleiman, who was involved in the nuclear project and in coordination vis-à-vis Iran and Hizbullah, was mysteriously assassinated.  Since the early 1990s, Israeli officials have monitored with concern the takeover of radical Islamic elements on Sudan and the establishment of terror group training camps in the country. In recent years, Sudan has become one of the favorite smuggling routes for Iranian intelligence, with arms from Revolutionary Guard bases going through Sudan to Egypt, and then reaching Gaza via the Sinai desert and the underground tunnels at the Philadelphi Route. 

Balance of terror no longer exists  

Like pouring oil on fire, the regime in Tehran attempts to fan the flames of the conflict. This activity has become critical for the Hamas movement, which has become Iran’s favorite protégé in the wake of the assassination of Sheikh Yassin (who was quite opposed to receiving support from Tehran.) This became particularly true following the outset of Operation Cast Lead and the serious harm caused to Hamas’ arms depots.  For example, Hamas leaders were surprised after the Air Force hit pits prepared in advance containing launchers armed with rockets. There rockets were supposed to be deployed via remote control or a fuse. The Air Force, thanks to accurate intelligence, managed to destroy most of these pits – and Hamas relayed urgent messages to Iran, asking it to renew the supply. 
The balance of terror created by the two attacks in Argentina in the wake of the killing of former Hizbullah Chief Musawai prompted Israel to focus on operations against the Hizbullah group only, and not against its mother and father – Iran and Syria.  However, the recent operations attributed to Israel against Iranians arms in Sudan and against Syrian targets are more than a hint that this balance of terror no longer exists.   Ronen Bergman, a correspondent for Israel’s largest daily Yedioth Ahronoth, is the author of the “The Secret War With Iran”

Olmert hints: Israel operates everywhere against terror

Amid reports of aerial strike on arms convoy in Sudan in January, PM says 'Israel operates wherever it is possible to harm terror infrastructure.' On peace process: I presented Abbas with unprecedented offer and asked him to sign. That was six months ago; I'm still waiting  
"Israel operates wherever it is possible to harm terror infrastructure in a way that increases our deterrence," outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday amid reports that in January, a weapons convoy in Sudan that was carrying weapons intended for Hamas was struck by the Israeli Air Force.   Earlier in the day Sudanese officials confirmed the reports of the attack, but stopped short of saying who carried it out. 
Speaking at a political marketing conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Olmert said "there is no point in going into details, and everyone can use their imagination. Those who need to know – know."  Addressing the Syrian president's statement according to which Israel had already agreed to withdraw from the Golan Heights in the framework of a peace agreement, the PM said "I don't want to get in an argument with Bashar Assad over how close we were to signing a peace agreement. They know that I am aware of what we must give up in order to achieve peace. Had they realized what is required of them, perhaps the gap between us could have been narrowed.  "We must push for a solution, and it is possible to make Syria understand what it must do for the sake of peace," Olmert continued, "to achieve peace, with all of the geopolitical changes it would entail, we'll be forced to make a painful, heart-breaking concession that will be extremely difficult to execute." 
As for the Palestinians, the PM said that at some point during the negotiations he had presented President Mahmoud Abbas with "an unprecedented offer that touched on all of the core issues."  "I told him (Abbas), 'come and sign'. That was half a year ago. I'm still waiting."

 

Final offer: J'lem concessions and settler evictions

Olmert explains offer from Sept. 2008, to which Abbas has yet to respond, which would grant Palestinians 93% of W. Bank and parts of the capital  
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert attempted to clarify Thursday alleged promises he had made in a so-called 'final offer' to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in September 2008, which included the eviction of tens of thousands of settlers and territorial concessions in Jerusalem.  
"There was one point when I put things on the table and offered Abbas something that had never been offered and dealt with the crux of the problem, with the most sensitive issues that touch the most exposed nerves and historical obstacles," Olmert said during a Thursday conference in Herzliya.  "I told him – 'let's sign.' It was half a year ago and I'm still waiting," he said.  Senior officials said that a meeting of the leaders in the Prime Minister's resident in Jerusalem involved a "final offer to end the conflict." The offer involved a future border between a possible Palestinian state to Israel, involving the eviction of the more than 60,000 settlers living beyond the security barrier in the West Bank – the proposed new border between the two entities.  The offer involved a return of 93% of the West Bank, leaving in Israel the large population centers, such as Ariel and Elkanah in the north, Maaleh Adumim in the center, and Jerusalem and Gush Etzion in the south.  Regarding Jerusalem itself, Olmert offered to cede over to the Palestinians the peripheral neighborhoods and the refugee camps surrounding the city, such as Kalandia. The holy sites, whose sovereignty is desired by all faiths, would be determined within an international framework, the prime minister said. 
The plan was also presented to the Americans who, according to the Prime Minister's Office, supported the plan. They apparently also expressed optimism that the offer would be acceptable to the Palestinians.  "Sadly, to this day, the prime minister has not recent an answer from Abbas to the generous offer, which was designed to bring an end to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and bring about the creation of two states for two peoples."
 
 
'Egypt is still mediating Schalit talks' Egypt is still mediating talks between Israel and Hamas on a prisoner swap that would include captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, an Egyptian government official said Thursday. Both Israel and Hamas said earlier this week that talks aimed at freeing Schalit in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners were not over, despite the public breakdown last week of the indirect, Egyptian-mediated contacts. However, there had not been any word until Thursday that contacts had been revived with some momentum. A prisoner exchange is central to attempts to reach a more lasting truce after Israel's three-week offensive in Gaza ended on Jan. 18 and to help clear the way for reconstruction and humanitarian relief there. The assault against Hamas was intended to stop rocket fire on southern Israel, but sporadic violence has continued. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said last week that excessive demands by Hamas prevented a deal and indicated he would turn the matter over to his successor, Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu, who is expected to be sworn in next week. Later, Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev said attempts to win the release of Schalit had not stopped. The 22-year-old has been held by Hamas in Gaza since June 2006. At a ceremony marking Schalit's 1,000th day in captivity on Saturday, the soldier's father, Noam, implored Olmert to use his remaining time in office to pursue his son's release. Olmert had offered to free 320 prisoners of the 450Hamas was demanding. The Islamic group's Syria-based deputy leader, Mousa Abu Marzouk, said on Monday that Israel was trying to change the list of prisoners and wanted to expel some of them from the Palestinian territories. It was unclear what compromises the two sides might be prepared to make in the renewed effort. The government official from Egypt's Interior Ministry who confirmed Thursday's contacts spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. He gave no other details. "Schalit will not see the light of day until our prisoners see it," a Syria-based Hamas leader, Ali Baraka, said on Wednesday, according to Hamas' Web site. "There are ongoing communications and discussions conducted by the Egyptian mediators which have not been cut off and we hope that the Israelis will respond to our requests," he said.
Israel celebrates 30 years of peace, Egypt doesn't
Israel on Thursday held several state ceremonies celebrating the 30th anniversary of "peace" with Egypt, the Jewish state's first peace treaty with an Arab nation. Egypt, however, very conspicuously ignored the anniversary. Israeli embassy staff in Cairo said they had not even been invited to a casual cocktail party marking the event, let alone a public ceremony. Instead, Egypt's leading government-controlled newspaper, Al-Ahram, ran an editorial harshly criticizing Israel, and suggesting that it did not deserve even the cold peace it now has with Egypt. The paper accused Israel of having a thirst for Palestinian blood, and of scheming against Egypt.

Roni Sofer

Published:  03.26.09, 19:05 / Israel News

Attila Somfalvi

Published:  03.26.09, 16:57 / Israel News

Ronen Bergman

Published:  03.26.09, 12:31 / Israel Opinion

Ynet

Published:  03.26.09, 07:36 / Israel News

SWI NEWS: 29 Adar 5769, Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
MI chief: Iran waiting with nuclear bomb Major-General Amos Yadlin tells Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that while Tehran possesses full technological capabilities needed to manufacture atomic weapon, it prefers to act slowly so as not to evoke West's wrath  
Director of Military Intelligence Major-General Amos Yadlin spoke before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday and warned yet again against Iran's nuclear ambitions.   Iran is biding its time on manufacturing a nuclear weapon for diplomatic reasons, he said, adding that Israel could still prevent the Islamic republic from gaining atomic capabilities.  "It all boils down to fissionable matter," he explained. "The Iranians have finished developing surface-to-surface missile which can carry a nuclear warhead and Tehran has mastered uranium enrichment technologies and can pursue nuclear military capabilities, but ultimately it is a decision the Iranian regime has to make. Yadlin at the committee meeting (Photo: Gil Yohanan)   "The Iranian strategy is not to get one nuclear bomb as soon as they can, so as not to give the world a reason to act against them," said Yadlin. "They are trying to get within short term reach of a bomb and they are enriching uranium in a rate meant to make it very hard to incriminate them."   Tehran's uranium enrichment rate, added the MI chief, stands at 4.5% – below nuclear weapon grade.   
"They have 4000 centrifuges in a facility monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). They have the knowledge to enrich uranium to 93%, making it weapon grade. The rate they are going, they will only need a few months to go from 4.5% to 93%."   Despite painting a bleak picture, Yadlin stressed that the fight to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power has yet to be lost: "The Iranian threat is a threat to world order, not just to Israel. That is why we must present the world with incriminating evidence of their real intentions. The right combination of sanctions and incentives could lead to a change in Iranian policies." 

Where’s the money going?

Who will be monitoring where funds earmarked for Gaza reconstruction end up?  
In recent years, billions of dollars have poured into Gaza from hundreds of countries and international organizations. The money, sent with the intention of encouraging Gaza economic development and quality of life, has remained largely unaccounted for by the international community. How much money has actually reached Palestinian civilians remains unknown, as no external audits have been made available from any major aid agency.   Only recently have there been questions from top political leaders, primarily from the United States, about the way in which donation funds will be transferred into Gaza. At an Egyptian donor’s conference organized by Norway and Egypt in early March, more than 75 international donors and organizations met to announce their financial support of the reconstruction in Gaza. Over $5.2 billion were pledged at the conference, surprising the Palestinian Authority that originally called for $2.8 billion needed to build up Gaza.   In light of the US pledge of $900 million, the second largest following Saudi Arabia‘s $1 billion, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that no US funds earmarked for Gaza would end up in the “wrong hands.” By wrong hands, Clinton meant Hamas. Over $300 million dollars of the US pledge money will be going to Gaza reconstruction, while the rest has been earmarked to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.   However, there is another set of “wrong hands” in this scenario through which the transfer of funds may very well pass through, hands that are not considered a neutral player in the Arab-Israeli conflict. US State department spokesman Gordon Duguid stated that Gaza aid would be provided through USAID, in coordination with UN agencies that will most likely include UNRWA.   UNRWA, the United Nations Relief Works Agency established in 1949 to aid Palestinian refugees, has shown dangerous partiality to Hamas terrorists.   In 2004, former UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen revealed to the Canadian Broadcasting Company that UNRWA may very well employ Hamas members. “I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll and I don’t see that as crime,” Hansen stated. He further added that “We do not do political vetting and exclude people from one persuasion as against another.”   UNRWA has employed several high profile terrorists, includeing top Islamic Jihad rocket maker, Awad al-Qiq, killed in an Israeli air strike last May. Al-Qiq was the headmaster and science instructor at an UNRWA school in Rafah. Another terrorist, Hamas’ interior minister and head of the Executive Force Said Siyam was a teacher for over two decades in UNRWA schools.  

‘Notoriously corrupt’

During Operation Cast Lead, UNRWA officials accused Israel of firing into an UNRWA school, killing dozens of Palestinian civilians seeking refuge there. Later, UN official Maxwell Gaylord reversed the UN’s stance on one of the most publicized incidents of the war, stating that the shelling and fatalities had actually taken place outside of the school.   Jonathan Halevi, a former IDF intelligence officer who specializes in Palestinian terrorist organizations, recently told Fox News that he estimates that 60% of homicide bombers are educated in UNRWA schools. UNRWA textbooks, which are provided by local governments and not neutral UN bodies, blatantly deny the Jewish connection to Israel.   In any case, the US remains UNRWA’s largest sponsor, providing the organization with over 75% of its initial budge according to UNRWA‘s former senior legal advisor James Lindsay. Lindsay, who served as an attorney for the US Justice Department for two decades asserted in his January publication for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that UNRWA is providing services to those who are actually not in need of them.   The almost 2 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan have Jordanian citizenship and are fully eligible for government services, but are continuing to receive assistance from UNRWA, which regards them as refugees, according to Lindsay‘s report.   Michael Danby, a longstanding legislator in the Australian Parliament has also accused UNRWA of being “notoriously corrupt. “ Since 2007, Australia has provided $30 million in funding for the Palestinians through the UNRWA agency, which Danby accused of diverting funds to “arms purchase, terrorist operations, and anti-Israel incitement as well as into the pockets of the PA leadership.“   “It is a betrayal of that generosity (by Australians) for this money to be wasted, stolen, or misspent on rockets, guns, and terrorism,” Danby told the Australian Federal Parliament on February 26.   Other countries actively fundraising for Gaza include France, which hosted a Paris donors conference for Palestinian Authority‘s President Mahmoud Abbas in December 2007. The conference raised over $7.4 billion in Palestinian aid (for a three year period: 2008-2010) from over 90 countries and international organizations. During 2008, over $3 billion were distributed through the PA.  
But that’s not all. By mid-January 2009, TV stations across the Arab world collected over half a billion dollars in a telethon for Gaza, according to Johan Eriksson, a spokesperson for the UN.   As the Gaza Strip will soon teem with money, world donors and leaders must ask the following question: Who will monitor the transfer of these funds and account that they are indeed effectively used for Gaza reconstruction, and not for restoring Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure?   Anav Silverman is the International Correspondent for Sderot Media Center: www.sderotmedia.com .
 

Obama sharpens tone on Israel, calls for two-state solution

DEBKAfile Special Report

March 25, 2009, 3:13 PM (GMT+02:00)

Asked if the rise of a Netanyahu government would make peacemaking more difficult, US president Barack Obama told a televised news conference Wednesday night, March 25: "It's not easier than it was, but I think it's just as necessary." He added: What we do know is that the status quo is unsustainable, that it is critical for us to advance a two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in their own states with peace and security.

Obama noted uncertainty not only about the makeup of the new Israeli government – Netanyahu must submit his lineup to the president before April 3 – but also the Palestinian Authority "which is badly divided."

Tuesday night, Labor leader Ehud Barak won his party round to joining the Netanyahu government.

DEBKAfile's sources report: The US president has kicked off a tough campaign on the Israel-Palestinian conflict that will build up until Passover Eve on April 8 for three reasons:

1. In the face of Tehran's chilly response to his taped message calling for diplomacy, administration spokesman promised several more gestures. These gestures will be outlined in the coming DEBKA-Net-Weekly out Friday, March 27.

2. Friday, March 27, Obama will unveil his new strategy for the Afghanistan war that will also embody steps on Iran and the Middle East at large.

3. He has scheduled a major address to the Muslim world from Istanbul on April 7. Part of his speech will be devoted to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Our political analysts do not expect Obama to be kind to the Jewish State and its new government. He may feel it necessary to respond to the Iranian supreme ruler Ali Khamenei's stipulation that change in Washington must also affect "unconditional US support" for Israel.


Obama: Palestine a priority
A televised news conference on Tuesday in the US highlighted what are the current priorities for President Barack Obama - the US economy and the birth of "Palestine." Almost the entire press conference focused on the economy and Obama's spending bills, but the single question about foreign policy revolved around the recent election of Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel's prime minister and the perception that that will greatly impede peace efforts. Asked if Netanyahu's ascendancy will make reaching a final status Middle East peace deal more difficult, Obama said that it certainly won't help, but that only means he will need to be more persistent than his predecessors. Obama said he does not yet know the final make-up of the new Israeli and the next Palestinian governments, but what he does know is that the "status quo is unsustainable." The solution: "It is critical for us to advance a two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in their own states with peace and security." The mainstream US media appears to be on board with Obama's list of priorities, as one Los Angeles Times blogger noted that even though there are wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that played prominently in Obama's election campaign, they were not mentioned once by reporters at the press conference.

Obama is weighing military, diplomatic cooperation with Tehran

DEBKA-Net-Weekly Exclusive

March 25, 2009, 8:08 AM (GMT+02:00)

The additional "gestures" Barack Obama's spokesmen promised Iran would follow on the presidential new year message may presage a dramatic U-turn on Iran, including even an astonishing offer of US-Iranian military and diplomatic cooperation - that is if the Islamic Republic decides to play ball.

To subscribe to DEBKA-Net-Weekly click HERE .

The coming DEBKA-Net-Weekly out this Friday will discuss this and other surprising steps which Obama has in store.


'Allegations of civilian shootings in Gaza categorically false' Allegations that IDF soldiers deliberately shot and killed Palestinian civilians in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead have been found to be categorically untrue by official army investigations, an IDF source told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
IDF reservists enter the Gaza...
IDF reservists enter the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead. Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Office
SLIDESHOW: Israel & Region  |  World
The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the results of the investigations have not yet been officially released to the public. He stressed, however that the investigations were close to completion. The investigations examined claims made by graduates of the Rabin Pre-military Academy during a conference held last month, which were later written up and printed in an academy pamphlet. Sections of the Israeli media then seized on the claims, and the allegations went on to make headlines around the world. During the conference, one soldier claimed a marksman opened fire on a mother and two of her children, in full knowledge that they were civilians, after a squadron commander told them to walk into a no-entry zone. "All of the soldiers who were involved in the conference were questioned - not as a punishment - but in order to understand whether they had witnessed these things. From all of the testimonies we collected, we can safely conclude that the soldiers who made the claims did not witness the events they describe," the source said.
Aftermath of IAF strike in...
Aftermath of IAF strike in Rafah at the start of Operation Cast Lead. Photo: AP
"All of it was based on rumors. In the incident of the alleged shooting of the mother and her children, what really happened was that a marksman fired a warning shot to let them know that they were entering a no-entry zone. The shot was not even fired in their general direction," the source said. "The marksman's commander ran up the stairs of a Palestinian home, got up on the roof, and asked the marksman why he shot the civilians. The marksman said he did not fire on the civilians. But the soldiers on the first floor of that house heard the commander's question being shouted. And from that point, the rumor began to spread," the source added. "We can say with absolute certainty that the marksman did not fire on the woman and her children. Later, the company commander spoke with the marksman and his commander. We know with certainty that this incident never took place," he said. The source said that a second allegation of killing of civilians was also false, though he could not provide further details at this stage. "We investigate every allegation in order to see whether these incidents took place, and to draw conclusions if necessary," the source stressed. "Unfortunately, due to competition, sections of the press picked up this story and ran with it. It is a shame the media promoted this sort of spin all over the world," he added. It is unlikely the damage to Israel's image from the allegations can be repaired, irrespective of the results of the investigation, he noted. "It is a shame that the media allowed Palestinian manipulations to spread," he said. "Look at the allegation that we killed 48 civilians in a UN school in Gaza. In reality, seven people were killed, and four to five of them were terrorists. The UN apologized, but the damage is done," the source said.

Anav Silverman

Published:  03.25.09, 00:49 / Israel Opinion

Amnon Meranda

Published:  03.25.09, 13:48 / Israel News

NEWS: 27 Adar 5769, Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

UN report accuses Israel of using human shields

UN's Radhika Coomaraswamy accuses IDF troops of sending 11-year-old Palestinian boy into building ahead of them during Gaza operation. Israel slams UN's 'unwillingness' to address Hamas terrorism  
Israeli soldiers used an 11-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield during the war againstHamas in the Gaza Strip, UN human rights experts said Monday.   The IDF ordered the boy to walk in front of soldiers being fired on in the Gaza neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa and enter buildings before them, said the UN secretary-general's envoy for protecting children in armed
conflict. The boy also was told to open the bags of Palestinians presumably to protect the soldiers from possible explosives - before being released at the entrance to a hospital, Radhika Coomaraswamy said.  She said the Jan. 15 incident, after Israeli tanks entered the neighborhood and during "intense operations," was a violation of Israeli and international law. It was included in a 43-page report published Monday, and was just one of many verified human rights atrocities during the three-week war between Israel and Hamas that ended Jan. 18, she said.  Coomaraswamy accused Israeli soldiers of shooting Palestinian children, bulldozing a home with a woman and child still inside, and shelling a building they had ordered civilians into a day earlier. "Violations were reported on a daily basis, too numerous to list," said Coomaraswamy, who visited Gaza and Israel for five days in February.   Coomaraswamy said there also have been allegations that Hamas used human shields or fired from heavily populated areas, and that UN officials are investigating.  

UN 'ignoring terrorist threat'

Israel criticized the report as "unable or perhaps unwilling" to address Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza or the threat of terrorism, citing Saturday's failed attempt to explode a car bomb in a Haifa mall parking lot as the most recent manifestation.   "The report claims to examine Israel's actions while it willfully ignores and downplays the terrorist and other threats we face," Ambassador Aharon Leshno Yaar told the 47-nation Human Rights Council. Leshno Yaar said terrorists use women and children as human shields when they launch attacks from schools, homes, hospitals and mosques. He did not address the report's specific allegation about the boy, but an army spokesman rejected the claim.   "We are an army to which morals and high ethical standards are paramount," said Capt. Elie Isaacson. Coomaraswamy said her list of Israeli violations constituted "just a few examples of the hundreds of incidents that have been documented and verified" by UN officials who were in the territory.  
She was the only one of the nine UN experts who compiled the report that was allowed into Gaza following the war. The experts covered issues ranging from health and hunger to women's rights and arbitrary executions.   The experts also noted reports that Hamas had committed other abuses. They said Hamas had been unwilling to investigate the allegations. The report called for Israel to investigate human rights abuses that occurred during the conflict.   Last week Israel's military ordered a criminal inquiry into published reports from soldiers that some troops had knowingly killed Palestinian civilians, including children.

Likud-Labor talks start, take Netanyahu close to government

DEBKAfile Special Report

March 23, 2009, 11:30 AM (GMT+02:00)

Their guidelines are based on a joint effort to rescue the economic from recession and mass unemployment and also embody a commitment by the government headed by Binyamin Netanyau to hold diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians and Syria. There is no reference to the two-state formula espoused by Kadima.

Defense minister Ehud Barak hopes his Labor party will agree to join the government in which he will retain defense. Negotiations are led for Labor by Ofer Eini, trade unions strongman, who is determined to take the party into government to ease the pressures expected to cause massive layoffs. The economy will be Netanyahu's priority as prime minister. He has prepared a comprehensive recovery program with Eini and business leaders.

The deal signed with the ultra-religious Shas before dawn Monday March 23 gives the prime minister-designate 53 out of 120 Knesset seats after Israel Beitenu signed on last week assigning foreign affairs to its leader Avigdor Lieberman.

Barak's Labor party is deeply riven over his commitment to join the Netanyahu line-up and stay on as defense minister. The second ultra-religious party United Torah Judaism (5) is expected to finalize negotiations by the end of the day. Defense minister Ehud Barak's Labor party is deeply riven over his commitment to join the Netanyahu line-up.

He jumped the gun Sunday by setting up a team of his supporters to kick off negotiations with Likud Monday morning, hoping to have a finished draft accord to present to the party's central committee Tuesday. The session may be delayed for Barak to build a majority to endorse his proposal. If he fails, he is considering defecting from Labor and joining the government regardless. If he succeeds, he will have five senior cabinet posts to hand out to his party plus the chairs of two of the most powerful parliamentary committees. Labor may also face a split. By the end of the week, this process will have worked its way to a conclusion one way or the other.

Shas has come away with four cabinet posts, including interior for its leader Ellie Yishai, housing and the National Lands Authority, as well as a pledge to raise child allowances and allocations for the yeshiva seminaries.

The second ultra-religious party United Torah Judaism (5) is expected to finalize negotiations by the end of the day.

With Labor, Netanyahu will have a comfortable majority of 71 seats without the two nationalist parties which are still waiting in the wings. With them and without Labor, he has 65. He has until the end of next week to present a viable government to the president. It looks like a romp.


Senior Fatah leader killed in s. Lebanon
  An explosion in southern Lebanon on Monday killed a senior Fatah official and three of his bodyguards as they were leaving a Palestinian refugee camp, Lebanese and Palestinian security officials said.
Palestinian men carry a dead...
Palestinian men carry a dead body away from a burning car near the site of explosion where a senior Fatah official and at least three bodyguards were killed in what appeared to be a roadside explosion outside the Mieh Mieh refugee camp. Photo: AP
SLIDESHOW: Israel & Region  |  World
The blast, apparently from a roadside bomb, struck a two-car convoy carrying Fatah's Kamal Madhat as they left the Mieh Mieh camp near the southern port city of Sidon, killing him and the bodyguards, the officials said. A fourth bodyguard was wounded. Madhat's car was completely gutted in the explosion that left a 5-meter wide crater, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. The blast was heard across Sidon. Witnesses said pieces of torn flesh were scattered near the bombing site, as ambulances and civil defense rushed to evacuate the victims. The Mieh Mieh camp and the nearby Ein el-Hilweh camp are mainly controlled by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah group. Madhat was a military, political and security aide to a Palestinian representative in Lebanon, Abbas Zaki, who is close to Abbas. No one claimed responsibility for the bombing and Lebanese authorities released no official statements. It was not immediately known if Zaki could have been the target, since he had left the camp only a few hours earlier. It was also unclear if the blast was related to a reported power struggle among Fatah members in Lebanon. Madhat was known to have enemies within and outside Fatah, mainly extremist Islamic groups opposing Abbas' peace deals with Israel. Rivalries and fighting, mainly between Fatah gunmen and extremist Islamic groups in Lebanon's refugee camps, have claimed the lives of scores of Palestinians in the past. Lebanon has 12 Palestinian refugee camps, which are off limits to authorities under a Lebanon-Palestinian deal. Some fugitives are believed to live inside the teeming Ein el-Hilweh camp, located outside Sidon.

Jerusalem police foil mobster hit
  Four Israelis, including a fire brigade commander, are under arrest for allegedly planning to carry out a criminally-motivated attack in central Israel against a suspected local mobster boss, police said Monday.
The explosives police say...
The explosives police say were planned to be used in an underworld hit. Photo: Channel 2
SLIDESHOW: Israel & Region  |  World
The four suspects, who were apprehended over the last month, have been remanded in custody by a Jerusalem court. The four men, including fire brigade commander Moshe Lili, are suspected of being hired by a Jerusalem crime family to attack a rival suspected prominent mobster family in Israel, the Abergils. Lili denies the allegations against him, but police say they have sufficient evidence to prove that he hid the explosive device in order to pay off a black market debt of tens of thousands of shekels. The hit was thwarted last month when police found a medium size bomb in the car of one of the suspects in the case during a search of his vehicle on the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. The suspect, Avi Elimelech, 52, who has a past criminal record for drug-related offenses, is not cooperating with police in the investigation. The names of the two additional key suspects in the case will not be released until a Wednesday court hearing. A court gag order, which was partially lifted on Monday still bars publication of additional details in the case. Israeli gangsters control extortion, gambling, prostitution, and drugs, and periodically try to kill each other. Police have identified six major organized crime families operating in Israel, who are fighting for control in the underworld of gambling, prostitution, and drugs, operations which are estimated to be worth about NIS 14 billion a year.
Yemeni Muslim sentenced to death for emailing Olmert
A court in Yemen on Monday sentenced a local Muslim to death on charges of seeking to spy for Israel's Mossad spy agency, reported Reuters. The court ruled that an email the man allegedly sent to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently proved his intent to conduct espionage on behalf of the Jewish state. Two other local Muslims connected to the convicted man were given light jail terms. Upon hearing his sentence, the defendant cried out that he was being unfairly mistreated, and insisted that the charges against him were false, the fabrications of a police officer with whom he had an ongoing argument
Jewish-Arab showdown in northern Israel scheduled for Tuesday
A group of 100 Israeli Jews will march with Israeli flags through a northern Israel Arab town known for its hostility toward the Jewish state on Tuesday. The demonstration is the result of a Supreme Court decision allowing the organizers to exercise their freedom of speech. The group had wanted to march in the Lower Galilee town of Umm el-Fahm during the pre-election campaigns, but was denied permission by police for security reasons. The demonstrators argue that if Arab citizens of Israel can gather in Jewish population centers carrying the flags of enemy nations and terrorist organizations, then they should be permitted to march in Arab towns carrying the flag of their own country. But they will meet violent opposition. Arab leaders in northern Israel put out the call last week for thousands of Israeli Arabs to descend on Umm el-Fahm and physically block the demonstrating Jews. Security for the demonstration is expected to be boosted after a right-wing Knesset member announced his intention to lead the march.

The Associated Press

Published:  03.23.09, 18:57 / Israel News