Friday, April 12, 2002

A morning newspaper quoted a "senior official" as saying that terror attacks were expected in the near term as the Palestinians try to show that "Operation Defensive Shield" was ineffective - but that in the longer term severe damage had been done to their infrastructure.

Against my better judgement then, me and my spouse caught breakfast in a small coffee place without a guard. Tense at first, then you start to forget.

I was doing my laundry this PM at a laundromat. I stepped out and saw on a TV about the Mahane Yehuda bombing. Last I heard: 6 dead and 50 injured.

Signing off for the Sabbath.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Powell is here of course. He will call for an immediate ceasefire followed by immediate peacetalks. Arafat will agree to a ceasefire. Powell has made a point of opining that the IDF operations can never end the jihad bombings. Sharon will agree to the ceasefire, though probably dragging his feet a bit while getting winked at by Pres. Bush.

And then what? Beats me. People around me aren't talking much about Powell. I think that there's a sense of fatalism - though not specifically pessimism. By this I mean: no one expects anything from Arafat, no matter what concessions he might be given. No one expects any sympathy or understanding (or even common sense) from the Europeans. And regarding Bush/Powell/Zinni, I think no one knows what to expect.

A series of political and PR tradeoffs, rather than anything rational, will determine what happens next on the diplomatic front. Israel does have a small set of unilateral actions that it can take. Maybe these have even been discussed with the Americans - you never know.

This just in: On the radio, they're reporting that PM Sharon has said that Israel will establish security zones up to 20 km wide, 5 km east of the Green Line. I can't tell you what that means practically speaking, but you probably read it here first.

The IDF apprehended a would-be female suicide bomber in Tulkarm (details). Haven't seen it on web sites, but on the radio they said that she was posing as a pregnant woman and had her bomb disguised as a fetus.

Coworker in the cafeteria: "now foreign journalists will be criticizing the IDF for slowing down pregnant women at checkpoints."

I heard that another guy from my office was called up a while back - he's apparently in a special forces unit. I never would have guessed as he is so mild mannered and skinny.

Some Email from Iran

After a Persian language weblog linked to me, I received several emails from Iran. See them at my letters page.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Killer App A few years ago there was a startup company called Third Voice that facilitated user discussions clustered around web pages. The Google Toolbar is a great tool that enables, among other things, easy search for "backward links".

So here's an idea: a tool - call it PunditPal - that presents pre-specified "third party" content together with web pages viewed. So suppose you like James Lileks - when you browse to some outrageous NY Times article that Lileks has ripped apart(and linked to), his takedown would automatically appear in a separate pane.

This could help extend the influence of the weblogs to people who stick with traditional media.
On the radio this AM there was an interview with a 34-yr. old reservist who had been injured yesterday morning in Jenin. He said that his group was initially not injured when a rigged building exploded[clarification: these were mines]. Subsequently the Jihad/Fatah threw explosive charges from windows which injured him and killed several in his unit. The media has mentioned that there were "suicide bombings" also, but the didn't mention seeing any.

Currently 200 Palestinian fighters have surrendered to the IDF in Jenin, but pockets of resistance are still present. Details (hebrew)

Appearing on Al-Jazeera, Arab Knesset member Ahmed Tibi praised the Palestinian fighters in Jenin. A right-wing Knesset member suggested that Tibi become a suicide bomber.
First "Jihad" bombing since "Operation defensive shield": Nine dead in Haifa.

Jenin: Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances have still not entered Jenin to clear the Palestinian dead(between 120-200). Israelis claim that the Palestinians have removed the weapons from the dead bodies and left them there to rot so as to give CNN, BBC etc. some especially gruesome footage to accompany the as-always unchallenged assertions of Arab spokesmen. Details here

The front pages of the Israeli papers today all have the pictures of the 15 IDF soldiers killed in Jenin - most due to explosions in booby-trapped buildings. It's reminiscent of the days after terror attacks as the papers always show a "gallery" of snapshots of the victims.

If the IDF really wanted to eliminate the terrorists from the Jenin casbah, they could just blow it up (after warning non-fighters to leave). By conducting operations building-to-building and house-to-house, the IDF chose a mode of operation which increased the risk to its soldiers in order to reduce risk to Palestinians. [Update: see this same point made much better here]

While the Palestinians will scream "massacre"(as they always do), their internal media will portray the Jenin Hamas/Fatah fighters as brave men who chose to fight to the death in order to eliminate a few Israelis.

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

My stomach sinks when I hear that a co-worker has turned up the radio loud.

The current report is that there is still fierce fighting in Jenin. In Nablus and elsewhere, the Jihad/Fatah folk surrendered, but in Jenin they're apparently determined to fight on to the bitter end. Thirteen IDF soldiers(all reservists) have been killed - some by booby-trapped buildings. The Red Cross/Crescent has refused to evacuate the Palestinian casualties - apparently for political reasons. See the report here.
Lots of visitors today from .... Iran!

Please let me know what you think of my blog by clicking on the link on the left to email me.

Monday, April 08, 2002

I see more people are coming in from Yahoo today... Welcome... Be sure to check out some interesting older posts by clicking on "Archive" on the left.

Ariel Sharon today in the Knesset presented a Rumsfeld-like status report of the military operations . You can read about it here.

On the radio this morning some pundits were discussing the expected contents - the part about desire to meet moderate Arab leaders was largely expected. This bit is new though:

"Negotiating with the Palestinians is a gradual process, said Sharon. An intermediate stage is necessary, in which IDF forces would withdraw to security zones. Then Palestinians could then work on building their society and economy, he said, offering substantial Israeli help.

The faster Palestinian-Israeli relations improve, the faster the two sides can discuss permanent borders and find solutions to open questions."

The Arab world and probably Europe will find this unacceptable. After all, the Palestinians rejected the Barak proposal because it didn't allow millions of Palestinians to settle in pre-1967 Israel. And now Sharon is offering substantially less than Barak.

There's no going back to the Barak proposal however. I live in the southern part of Jerusalem - I know people who live in the Jewish quarter of the walled city. Under the "Clinton bridging proposal", Arab neighborhoods that are within walking distance away would be under PA control.

The Israeli military is now fighting in Jenin and Nablus to eliminate the bomb factories and arm caches that Fatah and Hamas have developed with the tacit or not-so-tacit assistance of Arafat. No sane Israeli (other than the extreme left) would invite these folks into our own backyards. No sane Israeli thinks that offeriing the Palestinians part of what they want will get them to change their "spots" or their methods.
This just in: Hundreds of armed Jihad/Fatah folk surrender to the IDF in Nablus.
The Israeli version of Bethlehem events
Since the IDF moved into Area A, the jihad-bombings and shootings have almost totally ceased.

Consequently the atmosphere here in Jerusalem is a lot different. People are going out a bit more, but the city still seems quiet; walking around last night I felt like I was in a quiet little village. Suddenly it seems like there's not so much happening here: no shooting from Gilo/Beit Jala, no specific warnings of attacks, no periodically checking the radio or Israeli websites, fewer helicopters flying around.

I think that people feel safer, but know that this is likely to last only as long as it takes for Fatah, Hamas etc. to regroup. Then the IDF will have to go back in again.
Half an hour from now, PM Sharon will be giving a press conference - on the radio they're saying that he will announce that the army is attempting to complete operations in the West Bank as quickly as possible, but will not leave before then. There's also speculation that he will announce some type of diplomatic or unilateral measures.

Correction: this is not a press conference, but rather a speech to the Knesset.

Sunday, April 07, 2002

The Gist The Jerusalem Post updates on IDF activities in Jenin: The IDF is encountering resistance in its attempt to move in to the refugee camp area of Jenin. Once there, the IDF intends to stay to eliminate bomb factories etc. and find wanted guerillas/baby-murderers/you-decide.

Journalists have been banned, but Palestinians are claiming that the IDF razed 15 houses and killed 30-100.

These unsourced Palestinian reports are in my experience not reliable.
The Gist Haaretz is reporting that the IDF is conducting alley-to-alley combat with terrorists/gunmen/militants/whatever in the Casbah in Nablus, and the latter are vowing to "fight to the end.

The IDF has killed 30 so far, including senior Fatah terrorist/activist/whatevers Muyad Jamil and Ahmed Tabuk. Nothing suggests that any of the 30 Palestinians killed were not combatants.

A Team Leader in my office was called up and is currently serving in Nablus.

Heard on the radio on my commute this AM....

Sharon says:
The IDF will leave the PA areas as soon as possible - that is to say when their mission is finished.

The PA has no intention to carry out any kind of ceasefire, regardless of what it formally agrees to.

There's no point in leaving only to have to return in a short time.
I was thinking of posting a summary of the Israeli weekend papers, but taking a depressing spin around the web has sapped me of the desire for the moment.
Thanks Yahoo! My blog was the pick of the day for April 5.