APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday November 15, 2012
Quote of the day:
"If, as we all hope, the IDF is able to leave the latest round successfully and Hamas is hit and weakened, the time will have arrived for the victor to put out its hand to the defeated in an attempt at real dialogue of quiet between the two sides."
--Former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy advises the government of Israel in a Yedioth Op-Ed.** (see Commentary for translation)
Front Page News:
- Hamas commander assassinated; Expansive operation in Gaza Strip
- Four million in range of fire (shows map with areas in Israel in missile range)
- End to the restraint - Air Force assassinated Hamas Chief of Staff Ahmed Jabari and hit Fajr rockets; IDF drafted reserve soldiers; Residents of south in protected shelters
- The diversion exercise - While operation was being prepared, Netanyahu and Barak visited Golan and hinted that now is not the time to act (Hebrew)
- No one is coming - Orit Hamami hoped to celebrate her bat-mitzva with friends, but most stayed home
- Strike on the head - Air Force assassinated Hamas Chief of Staff Ahmed Jabari
- Our forces are preparing also for a ground invasion
- Barrage of rockets at the communities and cities of the south
- Egyptian ambassador recalled; Reports from Cairo: The Israeli ambassador expelled
- Netanyahu spoke with Obama and expressed his appreciation for US support for operation
- Special entertainment section for children of south
There is only one main story today and it is the opposite of the lead story yesterday: attack on Gaza. Israel assassinated Ahmed Jabari, the commander-in-chief of Hamas military wing. It has made over 100 strikes on the crowded narrow Strip, killing civilians. It is preparing for a ground offensive. Egypt recalled its ambassador. Palestinians have responded with rockets. One killed three people today. People on both sides are bracing for the worst.
After pretending that it was agreeing to the cease-fire with the Palestinian militant factions (so that they would let down their guard write the papers), Israel took aim and in one hit assassinated the Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari, who, all the papers were quick to note, was behind the 2006 abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Egypt, which had mediated the cease-fire, recalled its envoy in Israel. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi plans to take three other steps in protest of the IDF operation in Gaza: reprimanding the Israeli envoy in Cairo and calling for special meetings of Arab League and UN Security Council. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also called for an Arab League special session. Maariv reports that, in contrast to the reports about a reprimand, Israeli ambassador to Egypt Yaakov Amitai was already in Israel when the attack began. (NRG Hebrew) Even as Morsi took action against Israel, Egyptian intelligence began working again to mediate a cease-fire agreement between Gaza and Israel, Yedioth reported. Two hours following the start of the IDF attack, Egyptian intelligence officers – partly due to Hamas requests – urged Israel's Defense Ministry to halt the operation. Israeli officials responded by saying that the operation will end only when its goals are achieved and the rocket fire ends. Ahead of the attack, the government cabinet approved that a smaller cabinet made up of the Prime Minister, Defense Minister and Foreign Minister would run the operation against Gaza. Yedioth writes that the Israelis took into account that Operation Pillar of Cloud would cause a crisis in relations with Egypt, but figured that it was temporary and would cause no danger to the peace agreement. They believe that Morsi only wants to allow the Egyptian street to 'release steam.' Israel feared Jordan would also recall its ambassador, but that has yet to happen. Jordan just returned its ambassador, who was recalled after Israel's last massive and deadly Gaza operation four years ago that killed over 1200 Palestinians, some of them 300 children.
The operation, much like Operation Cast Lead four years ago, opened with aerial strikes. Nevertheless, the campaign against Gaza may expand. Reservists have been called up with an 'Order 8' - to immediately report for duty. Yedioth ran a photo of two female reservists who showed up in Beersheva in their military uniform. Some of the conscript soldiers units stopped their training and prepared to be moved for a ground invasion of Gaza. The rocketfire continues despite the attacks. Over 80 rockets were fired at Israel on Wednesday, more than 20 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome System. Today, a direct hit struck a building in Kiryat Malachi, killing three Israelis. At least 13 Palestinians have been killed, including a pregnant woman, a 7-year-old boy and the 11-month-old baby of a BBC employee. And the US has given Israel its backing.
Gaza Assault Quick Hits:
- PROFILE: Who was Ahmed Jabari? The man considered the most dominant figure in the Gaza Strip had a long career in Hamas, but became known to the general public in Israel during the negotiations for the release of abducted soldier Gilad Shalit. (Haaretz)
- Noam Shalit: Gilad still processing Jabari hit - Father of former captive soldier says his son showed no sign of joy upon hearing about death of man who masterminded his abduction. (Ynet)
- Hamas threatens to carry out suicide bombings - Gaza’s Palestinian factions threaten to ‘burn Israeli cities’ in response to assassination of top Hamas commander Al-Jabari. ‘There no more red lines,’ Islamic Jihad’s military wing says. (Ynet)
- Barak: Most Hamas Fajr missiles destroyed - At IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, defense minister says Israel 'does not want war, but Hamas provocations left us with no other choice but to launch operation.' Netanyahu: We will not tolerate rocket threat on civilians. (Ynet)
- Grad rockets hit Beersheba; Iron Dome intercepts rockets - Gaza terrorists' response to Jabari hit includes Grad fire on Beersheba, Ashdod and Ofakim; air defense system intercepts several rockets. (Ynet)
- After Israeli operation, Gazans brace for the worst - Gaza residents stock up on gasoline and cooking gas; some say they believe the Israeli attack will be a unifying factor backing the Hamas government. (Haaretz)
- Schools closed in south, Home Front Command alerts mayors in center - People in communities of up to seven kilometers away from Gaza were told not to go to work today, except for those in vital positions; gatherings of more than 100 people prohibited. (Haaretz)
- Peres in Sderot: Shocking inequality - President visits rocket-stricken south hours before Israel launches operation against Gaza terrorists. 'We must cease the constant flow of funds to Hamas-ruled territory,' he says. (Ynet)
- Peres to Obama: There's a limit to what we can take - President briefs US counterpart on assassination of top Hamas commander; 'mothers and children cannot sleep quietly at night,' he says. (Ynet)
- Report: Israel is world's most militarized country - Global Militarization Index: Middle East countries show highest degree of militarization in the world. Militarization defined by weighing military spending against gross domestic product, among other criteria. (Israel Hayom)
- A campaign pause? Officially, the political parties said they are freezing their campaigns following the military operation in Gaza. But after the fateful cabinet meeting, where it was decided to assassinate the Hamas military chief and set out on the campaign, all the ministers left and went to meetings for their party primaries. (Yedioth, p. 12)
- 'Allowing Olmert to return to politics will destroy the system' - Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich says former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should not be permitted to run in the upcoming elections. She also says there is no need to change the electoral system: "Even in the U.S., the system is not perfect." (Israel Hayom)
- Four rockets fired from direction of Sinai strike southern Israel - One of the rockets explodes inside moshav in Eshkol Regional Council on Egypt border; the other three strike citron field. (Haaretz)
- Palestinians protest in West Bank; 2 Israelis injured - Israelis lightly wounded by stones hurled in Gush Etzion. Palestinians protest ahead of Palestinian Independence Declaration Day. (Ynet)
- Aiming to reduce car accidents, police look to add Arab officers - Police commissioner: "We see an important window of opportunity for working with the Arab populace." Arab Israelis are 15 percent of all drivers in Israel, yet in 2011 they accounted for nearly 33% of the vehicular fatalities. (Israel Hayom)
- Israelis to develop Belarus dairy farms - Netanya-based company to supply milking equipment to over 300 facilities in Eastern European country as part of deal valued at $300 million. (Ynet)
- Israeli medical research slips in world rankings - Doctors spend lots of time conducting studies, but they are getting fewer journal citations to show for it. (Haaretz)
- 'Nakba Day' rampage driver gets life in prison - Found guilty of murder, six counts of attempted murder for 2011 Tel Aviv rampage, Islam Issa sentenced to life in prison and additional 40 years behind bars. (Ynet)
- 5,600 join religious gays' organization - Testimonies collected from nearly 300 Orthodox homosexuals who underwent 'conversion therapy' reveal that half began leading secular lifestyle, while two-third of those who were married got divorced. (Ynet)
- Delegation of French Muslim leaders visits Israel - Group of French imams visits Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and graves of Toulouse terror attack victims in Jerusalem. They will also visit Haifa and Acre and meet with President Shimon Peres. (Israel Hayom)
- Frankfurt hosts Jewish Diaspora meeting - Three-day international conference examines historic, cultural connections between Jewish communities around the world. (Ynet)
- Berlin intelligence chief resigns over shredding of neo-Nazi files - Resignation is the latest in a series of high-profile resignations since the revelation a year ago that a neo-Nazi terrorist group - suspected of being behind a seven-year killing spree of Turkish and Greek immigrants - went unnoticed by the intelligence services. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Diplomats: Iran drastically increased nuclear capacity - A UN report on Iran's nuclear program is also likely to show this week that it continues to use some of its most sensitive material for reactor fuel, at least temporarily making it unavailable for any quick atom bomb bid. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Iran to ration diesel fuel in bid to stem rampant smuggling - At 15 U.S. cents a liter, subsidized diesel fuel costs less than bottled water in Iran, leading to wasteful consumption and smuggling into neighboring countries. (Agencies, Haaretz)
Small jump in the sand
Tiring, long, exclusive and filled with celebs - here are the gibushim (the brutal trial period for selection to elite IDF units) to the top units in the IDF. On the menu: sand, roll calls of tears, and the few that manage to get accepted. Pleasant chafing. (The article details what are the criteria, where it will take place, how many expected to be in each gibush group, what physical and mental exercises to expect and how long it will last. The article discusses the following units:
Sayeret Matkal, Shaldag, 669 - "The top of the top"
Shayetet 13 (Navy Seal commandos) - "Daring"
Submarines - "Secretive"
Naval captains - "Iron stomach"
Pilots - "Fly by yourself"
Sayeret Paratroopers - "Who did you call scared?"
GIbush for female combat troopers - "The stronger sex"
(Maariv Magazine supplement)
Israel killed its subcontractor in Gaza (Aluf Benn, Haaretz) The political outcome of the operation will become clear on January 22, but the strategic ramifications are more complex: Israel will have to find a new subcontractor to replace Ahmed Jabari as its border guard in the south.
**After the fire: Put out a hand to the defeated (former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy, Yedioth) ...Our attention is turned in these hours and days to the residents of the south, of course, and to the removal of the threat over them from the Gaza Strip. But this central concern aside, again and again the fact shows itself that the governments of Israel do not and did not have any strategy concerning the future of the Strip. And this is necessary now more than ever, because we must continue to live with the population of two million people, crowded into some 380 square kilometers, without any hope and without any future. This pressure cooker creates generations upon generations of youth without an employment, political and social horizon. There are three possible outcomes of the present round: 1. Hamas stays in place in one way or another. 2. Islamic Jihad takes over (not likely) 3. Collapse of the central rule and chaos spreads across Gaza. In the last case, Israel will have no choice but to return to rule Gaza and to worry as an occupier for the welfare of some two million people. If, as we all hope, the IDF is able to leave the latest round successfully and Hamas is hit and weakened, the time will have arrived for the victor to put out its hand to the defeated in an attempt at real dialogue of quiet between the two sides. If we don't act this way, the only thing that we will achieve is that the time lapse between the rounds of conflict will be greater. If our goal is to collapse Hamas, set aside the price Israel will pay during warfare, that path that will lead us to return and rule the Gaza Strip. Since the political echelons initiated this significant move, it is their responsibility to make sure that the final result will suit the security and diplomatic interests of Israel. It is required that you think before you act...
Calm things down (Haaretz Editorial) Past experience teaches that pinpoint assassinations of the heads of political movements and military organizations are not necessarily effective,
Ahead of Gaza offensive, Netanyahu's Israel did its best to lull Hamas to sleep (Barak Ravid, Haaretz) Israel's goal was to lull Hamas and other terror organizations in Gaza into a false sense of security, in the hope that they would lower their level of preparedness.
Under the cloud (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth) The assassination of Jabari has in it an immediate profit and danger later. The profit is in the strike to the morale of Hamas, the confidence of its commanders. The danger is in the intensity of the response.
An electoral victory (Shalom Yerushalmi, Maariv) Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak can mark for themselves a big victory, not just security-wise, but also electorally. The security agenda will apparently take over the ballots. Ehud Olmert's decision to run for elections is no longer so interesting. The social justice discussion that was about to open about the high cost of living, centralization in the economy... will wait. Maybe wait another four years.
A root canal in Gaza (Dr. Reuven Berko, Israel Hayom) The solution is to cause insufferable damage to Hamas' assets and resources.
The snake always grows another head (Yossi Sarid, Haaretz) There is no longer any difference between Netanyahu and Feiglin, between Lieberman and Gideon Sa'ar. They are all lashing out furiously at Abbas; just as long as they don't end up at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Israel holds its breath for Hamas' decision: Target Tel Aviv? (Bradley Burston, Haaretz) For the first time since the waves of suicide bombings in Israeli cities during the Palestinian uprising, Hamas could target Tel Aviv; such an attack could also jeopardize the political capital accrued by the prime minister and his defense minister.
Hit on Hamas military chief is only the beginning (Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz) This is not just 'another' assassination, but rather a hit on one of the top people in the movement and the person in the leadership most identified with the terror struggle against Israel.
The return of the leather jacket (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth) The political system was speechless. Netanyahu changed the agenda, but it was impossible to claim that the action in Gaza was made from political motives. The situation did not allow restraint.
Jaw jaw, then war war (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) Israel must use the time before the next round of violence in Gaza to enlist international support for military action.
Brilliant opening strike (Alex Fishman, Yedioth) In a short opening strike, the IDF took off the chess table two important elements of Hamas: Most of the long-range missiles and its military commander. A brilliant move.
Yes they can: Iran mulls talks with U.S. in wake of Obama re-election (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) In a new report, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry outlines different ways 'to prevent war,' including diplomacy.
Make-believe election victory (Gideon Levy, Haaretz) Were Yacimovich and Lapid to speak out now - yes, now, before the election - about the dangers of the occupation, they might lose a few votes, but they would be fulfilling a historic task.
Recipe for Labor's fall (Zeev Sternhell, Haaretz) Shelly Yacimovich is correct in claiming that the Labor Party, which she heads, was never a left-wing party. The occupation has eaten away at everything here that was good.
China’s party congress and what it means to Israel (Amb. Gao Yanping, Israel Hayom) A prosperous China is good for Israel and a thriving Israel is good for China.
Stray shells don't indicate Syria wants conflict with Israel, say defense sources (Amos Harel, Haaretz) Errant shells that have fallen in the Golan Heights are the result of the low level of expertise among the Syrian armed forces deployed in the area, according to a military assessment.
An open letter to Akiva Eldar (Carlo Strenger, Haaretz) Carlo Strenger replies to Akiva Eldar's farewell letter, asserting that the two-state solution is in fact dead.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.