Tuesday, 3 February 2009


Gazans tell Israeli investigators of Hamas abuses

Nuaf Atar spoke about the use of Gazan schools to shoot rockets at Israel. Zabhi Atar revealed that Hamas used food coupons to entice Palestinians to join its ranks and Hamad Zalah said Hamas took control of UNRWA food supplies transferred to Gaza and refused to distribute them to people affiliated with Fatah.
These are three examples of testimony from Hamas and Islamic Jihad men who were captured by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead. Details of their interrogations have been released for publication by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

More than 100 Palestinians were captured during the three-week operation but most were released and only a few dozen - members of Hamas and other terrorist factions - are still being held by Israel, officials said. Some of them may be used as bargaining chips in negotiations for abducted soldier Gilad Schalit.

Nuaf Atar, 25, lives in Atatra, in the northwest Gaza Strip, and was captured by paratroopers on January 11. In his interrogation by the Shin Bet, Atar said Hamas government officials "took over" humanitarian aid Israel allowed in to the Strip and sold it, when it is supposed to be distributed for free.

Hamas set up rocket launchers and fired rockets into Israel from within school compounds since the operatives knew that the Israel Air Force would not bomb the schools, he said.

Palestinians who opposed Hamas's use of their land and homes as launch pads were shot in the legs, Atar added.

"Atar's testimony is evidence of Hamas's cynical use of public institutions, such as schools, to attack Israel," the Shin Bet said.

Another fascinating account was provided by Raji Abed Rabo, a 22-year-old member of Islamic Jihad and resident of the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza. Abed Rabo told interrogators he was recruited into the organization at the age of 17 and began by distributing anti-Israel propaganda.

In 2006, he joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and underwent military training. In 2007 he returned to Islamic Jihad and was recruited to the Jabalya cell. His job was to conduct reconnaissance and gather intelligence on IDF movements along the Gaza border.

He stored weaponry in his house, including roadside bombs, and was knew of a number of tunnels that were to be used to kidnap and surprise IDF soldiers. He also told the Shin Bet about a large bunker that was built under Shifa Hospital in Gaza City and was used as a hideout for a number of senior Hamas operatives during the recent Israeli offensive.

Hamad Zalah, 29, is also a resident of Jabalya and was captured by the IDF on January 12. During his interrogation, he revealed that together with his brother, he was tortured by Hamas at a headquarters in Jabalya for his affiliation with Fatah and his intention to light a memorial candle for Yasser Arafat.

He said that he was whipped and beaten with electrical cords. In 2007, Hamas operatives shot and killed his brother, who was a security guard at the home of a Palestinian Authority official in Gaza.

Since June 2007, when Hamas took over Gaza, the terror group, Zalah said, also took control of all humanitarian aid sent into the Strip and refused to distribute it to Palestinians affiliated with Fatah.

Amad Hamed, 35, resides in Beit Hanun, and was arrested by the IDF on January 5. In his interrogation he told the Shin Bet that in 2006 he started conducting surveillance for Hamas and training to perpetrate a suicide attack against Israel.

Two of Hamed's brothers were killed by the IDF in Gaza in 2006 and 2007. Hamed told his interrogators about a Hamas training camp in a sports club next to a mosque in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, and another camp opposite the Beit Hanun municipal building.

Three months ago, Hamed gave his approval to place barrels of explosives, rockets and launchers in land that belongs to his family in Beit Hanun.


How the plot to assassinate Golda Meir was foiled

By The Associated Press

Tags: Golda Meir, NSA, Israel News

It was the National Security Agency that uncovered a 1973 plot to bomb New York City, a scheme since linked to a terrorist who is nearing release from prison, according to government documents and interviews.

Khalid Al-Jawary, a Black September terrorist, placed two car bombs along Fifth Avenue and one near Kennedy Airport. The attack was meant to coincide with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir's arrival in the city. The bombs failed to detonate, and Al-Jawary quickly fled the country before being arrested nearly 20 years later.

The case has gained increased attention since an Associated Press investigation provided new details about Al-Jawary's shadowy background. He's scheduled to be released February 19 after serving only about half his 30-year prison sentence. But until now, it has been unclear how the authorities knew where to look for the cars. Shortly after Al-Jawary planted the bombs around March 4, the NSA intercepted a message revealing the location of them.

"When we picked that one up, it was a shocker," said Jim Welsh, who served as an NSA analyst from 1969 to 1974.

Declassified CIA records indicate the FBI and NYPD began looking for Al-Jawary's bombs at 7:15 p.m. on March 6, 1973 - not long after the NSA intercepted the message about the plot.

The two bomb-rigged cars on Fifth Avenue were towed March 5 and were later found at impound yards. The third bomb at Kennedy Airport's El-Al cargo terminal was discovered early March 7 and disabled by Terence McTigue of the NYPD bomb squad.

McTigue said the FBI never told him how they knew the car was at JFK, but he assumed they had obtained the information through an intercepted communication of some kind.

The super-secretive NSA declined to comment.

Welsh said someone transmitted the message using official Iraqi diplomatic communications in the U.S. He believed it originated at the U.N. Iraqi mission in New York.

Welsh said the message stated the bombs had been placed and gave their whereabouts. Welsh said the encrypted message was sent to the Iraqi foreign ministry in Baghdad, where it was relayed to the Palestine Liberation Organization's office.

Iraq's specific involvement in the plot is not known, but the PLO routinely relied on friendly governments to facilitate communications during that era, said Matthew Aid, an intelligence historian who specializes in the NSA.

Al-Jawary was known to use multiple passports, including an Iraqi one. One of his aliases was Abu Walid al-Iraqi. The FBI captured him in early 1991 after he left Baghdad to attend the funeral of a terrorist in Tunis.

Declassified State Department documents say Iraq supported Black September, which intelligence officials believe was controlled by PLO leader Yasser Arafat.

The NSA discovery of the plot is considered one of the early bright spots in the history of counterterrorism.

"This story was well-known in the hallways of the NSA," said retired agency historian Robert J. Hanyok, who wrote an in-house article that included a reference to the "joint NSA-CIA-FBI effort."

"It was definitely an early example of interagency cooperation," Hanyok said.

The article was declassified in 2007. The NSA claimed it "thwarted" the plot, according to the Hanyok article. But it's still unclear to this day why the bombs did not explode.

Welsh, now a businessman living in Oregon, said the success was especially important considering it came less than a week after an intelligence failure during an attack on the Saudi Embassy in Khartoum.

The attack was also orchestrated by Black September and left three diplomats dead, including the U.S. ambassador to Sudan and the departing U.S. deputy chief of mission to Sudan.

Welsh said the NSA had intercepted a call prior to the attack and alerted the State Department. But the warning failed to reach the American diplomats in time.

Welsh said he believed the attacks in Khartoum and the attempted one in New York City were meant to be a "one-two punch" against the American government and show Black September could operate anywhere.


Iranian satellite launch raises Western concern of possible military use

By Reuters

Tags: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran

Iran said it had launched a domestically made satellite into orbit for the first time on Tuesday, prompting further concern among Western powers and in Israel over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

One of the worries associated with Iran's fledgling space program is that the technology used to launch satellites can be used to deliver warheads.

Iran said Tuesday the launch of the Omid (Hope) research and telecom satellite was a major step in its space technology timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted the U.S.-backed shah. The long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used for launching warheads, although Iran says it has no plans to do so.

"Dear Iranian nation, your children have placed the first indigenous satellite into orbit," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a televised message, adding the launch was successful.

Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said Omid was orbiting earth. The ISNA news agency quoted him as saying: "We have established communications with it and the necessary information has been received."

Sending the Omid into space is a message to the world that Iran is "very powerful and you have to deal with us in the right way," an Iranian political analyst said.

U.S. and British officials said the Iranian satellite program may use technology that could be used for ballistic missiles, and noted the United Nations has sought to discourage Iran's nuclear and missile programs. Iran has long said its nuclear program is purely for civilian energy purposes. U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters of the launch: "That's of grave concern to us."

"It is certainly a reason for us to be concerned about Iran and its continued attempts to develop a ballistic missile program of increasingly long range," U.S. Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters.

British Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell said it "underlines and illustrates our serious concerns about Iran's intentions," adding it sent the "wrong signal to the international community."

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said his nation is "worried that there is ... the development of capacities that can be used in the ballistic framework."
French officials declined to say where France received its information about the satellite, but they did confirm that a launch had taken place.

Iranian state television showed footage of a rocket blasting off from a launchpad and lighting up the night sky as it streaked into space.

"With God's help and the desire for justice and peace, the official presence of the Islamic Republic was registered in space," Ahmadinejad said.

Senior officials from six world powers - the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and China - will meet on Wednesday to discuss the nuclear row with Iran. It is their first meeting since U.S. President Barack Obama took office.

Obama has signaled that he will pursue direct talks with Tehran but has also warned Iran to expect more pressure if it does not meet the U.N. Security Council demand to halt atomic work the West fears has military aims.

The Islamic state, the world's fourth-largest oil producer, says its nuclear ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity to meet the demands of its economy and enable it to export more of its crude and gas.

Iran caused international concern in February last year by testing a domestically made rocket as part of its satellite program. Tehran said it needed two more similar tests before putting a satellite into orbit.

The United States, which has been spearheading a drive to isolate Iran over its disputed nuclear plans, called the February rocket test "unfortunate".

In August, Iran said it had put a dummy satellite into orbit with a domestically made rocket for the first time. U.S. officials said the launch had ended in failure.

has said he sees Iran as a threat but is also offering direct dialogue with its leaders.

Ahmadinejad has set tough terms for any talks with Obama's administration, saying it must change policy not just tactics towards Tehran and apologize for past "crimes" against Iran.

Western experts say Iran rarely gives enough details for them to determine the extent of its technological advances, and that much Iranian technology consists of modifications of equipment supplied by China, North Korea and others.

The television broadcast said the Omid would return to earth after orbiting for one to three months, with data that would help experts send an "operational satellite" into space.

Iran already had a satellite in orbit but the Sina-1 was launched by a Russian rocket in 2005, said the television

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At what age do people become interested in politics? There isn't a single answer obviously. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if someone showed that Israeli youth do so earlier than their peers in most free countries do, since the issues the Israeli youth face are so dramatically more existential - and immediate - than those elsewhere.

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a Danish journalist. Before we talked, he had been interviewing Yossi Klein Halevy, one of Israel's more intelligent journalists. Klein Halevy is of my generation; it turns out we shared the experience of having sons fighting in Gaza. According to the Danish fellow, Klein Halevy observed that his son and friends have a rage against the Palestinians that he (and I) didn't have.

I don't know abut the rage, but upon reflection, I certainly agree our children see the conflict with the Palestinians differently than we did. If we assume Israelis begin to relate to politics in their mid teens, then a formative experience for Israelis from their mid-twenties and younger was the violent Palestinian rejection of the Oslo peace process. I'm not going to get into the question of who bears blame for that and exactly what each side should have done better. The point is different. When Klein Halevy and I were becoming aware of political issues, or later, when we were young adults, we understood that the Palestinians had some sort of case against us. Some of us felt it to be a serious case, what with settlement construction and refusal to negotiate with them; others felt that was all wrong, but recognized that many of their fellow Israelis saw it that way. From sometime in the early 1970s onward, there was a growing awareness among Israelis that Israel bore some share of the responsibility for the ongoing conflict. Public opinion polls showed that by sometime in the 1980s a majority of Israelis recognized that someday there would be an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, whether they thought this was a good idea or were merely resigned to its inevitability.

I remember that in the 1980s political arguments about this were a mainstay of how we spent our time in the reserve service; actually, the whole country argued about it all the time, and if you go back to the record you'll see that those were years of high political tension (and electoral campaigns, hard as it may be to believe, were extraordinarily charged national exercises).

By the late 1990s, after Rabin's assassination and Netanyahu's continuation of the Oslo process, from his position as the leader of a Likud government, the principles of the argument were over, and we settled down to the horsetrading part. That was what enabled Barak's wide electoral victory in 1999: the voters recognized that the difference between Labor and Likud wasn't really that great anymore.

The Palestinian strategic decision in 2000 to prefer a campaign of murder of Israeli civilians over negotiations that had already given them Israeli acceptance of statehood and dismantling of many settlements, flipped the consensus of the late 1990s in the opposite direction. Rather than a majority preparing for partition and peace (welcoming it or merely accepting), an even broader consensus now assumed the Palestinians were aiming it Israel's destruction, one way or another, not at partition. If I'm correctly understanding Klein Halevy's thesis, an entire generation now has lost the feelings of guilt their parents had or at least recognized towards the Palestinians, and have replaced it with anger at the rejectionism of the Palestinians. Even as, I might add, they are willing for partition in a way their parents were not yet.

Taking this one step further, and focusing not on twenty-somethings but rather on the 16-22 year olds, their most formative introduction to politics wasn't even the Palestinian rejectionism, it was the retreat from Gaza, in which Israel abandoned Gaza and disbanded its settlements, giving the Palestinians the opportunity, on a silver platter, to prove their commitment to a State. The readers of the Guardian can pretend to themselves that Israel never meant it, and continued to strangle Gaza from outside its fences, but the young Israelis know this is factually nonsense, and remember that in the 2nd half of 2005 Israel really had left, and was not blockading Gaza - that came later.

If this analysis is correct, and I think it broadly is, it offers a bleak perspective. The Palestinians have always seen themselves as victims of Zionism, and have felt infinitely sorry for themselves. Yet in the 1980s they managed to convince many Israelis there was some, partial, justification for this. The young generation of Israelis growing into adulthood this decade, however, takes for granted the eventual partition in a way their parents didn't, but have no patience for the Palestinians feeling sorry for themselves, and are convinced that the Palestinians have only themselves to blame for their predicament.

This is probably as reasonable an explanation as any for Netanyahu's electoral victory next week. Maybe I'll blog about the elections tomorrow.
taken from : Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations (http://yaacovlozowick.blogspot.com/)

SHAME - (2)

I like to listen radio when I drive.
Days ago I listened to some flash-interviews made in the streets of Lisbon. I was shocked with what I heard.
The whole of the young people, who were asked if they knew who Aristides de Sousa Mendes was, answered saying they didn't; they didn't had the faintest idea of this man was and what he had made.
It's astounding that a man who saved the lives of thousands of human beings during WWII ( when he was a consul in Bordeaux, he disobeyed ditactor Salazar orders, issuing 30.000 visas, with wich the lives of jews and other persecuted minorities were saved from the nazi's death camps) is unknown to the present generation.
On the other hand, it's not surprising when you realise that in our schools, History text books only deal with the Holocaust in a few lines and a fewer photos. So, the same fate fell on Aristides de Sousa Mendes, forgotten in the classrooms and in the memories of young portuguese.
It hurts to know that, more than 30 years elapsed from the overthrown of the fascist regime, the deeds of this great man (In 1966 Sousa Mendes was honored at Israel's Yad Vashem memorial to the Holocaust as one of the "Righteous Among The Nations," and that in 1987, the Portuguese Republic began to rehabilitate Sousa Mendes' memory and granted a posthumous Order of Liberty medal, one of that country's highest honors, although the consul's diplomatic honors still were not restored. On March 18, 1988 the Portuguese parliament officially dismissed all charges, restoring him to the diplomatic corps by unanimous vote and honoring him with a standing ovation. He was promoted to the rank of Ambassador. He also was issued the Cross of Merit for his actions in Bordeaux) are still a mistery to the younger generations.
Really this is a SHAME
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