Saturday, July 06, 2002

Blogging will resume tomorrow. In the meantime, go visit Imshin for some updates on what's happening here.

The best place for info about the LAX shooting is without a doubt the Ken Layne/Matt Welch LA Examiner.

Friday, July 05, 2002

Today's Yediot Aharonot has the LAX Howard Stern hoax-quote in big red type on its front page.

A friend of mine told me that when his father-in-law died earlier this year (of colon cancer), his 6-yr. old son asked him: "Did they shoot him or did they blow him up?"
Igal Ish-Tov points to this, which says that a ground-to-air missile was fired at an El Al flight on route from Tel Aviv to Moscow and missed. There's no confirmation of this anywhere that I can see.

Update: Ynet has it. Israeli Foreign Ministry has confirmed the incident and says that the missile was probably fired as part of a military exercise. A Siberian Air plane was accidentally shot down lost Oct in the Ukraine. This incident was apparently in Belarus.

In the report I blogged earlier about the LAX shooting, Army Radio was apparently taken by the prank (Thanks to Ken Layne for pointing it out).

Thursday, July 04, 2002

In this article, Amotz Asael surveys different responses to Bush's Mideast speech. In particular he characterizes a shallow response common in the European media:

There is no mention that Bush might be motivated by Arafat's rejection of peace plans, breaking of promises, or intelligence demonstrating that he is behind the terrorism of the past two years. Oh, no - what is really happening is that Bush cares nothing about the facts. He only "parrots the views of the hawks within his administration" who in turn only "echo the views of Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon."

To readers in the US of A: Happy 4th of July!

This AM on Army Radio there was an interview with senior IDF official Yitzhak Eitan. He confirmed Sharon's remarks that IDF operations in Area A could likely continue for months - though not necessary in the exact same manner as now. He said that the IDF is attempting to ease pressures on the populace, especially in the areas that have less activity of the terrorist organizations (he mentioned Bethlehem, in addition to Jericho where the IDF is not operating at all).

There are remaining wanted persons belonging to all the various Palestinian groups including Fatah, Tanzim, Hamas etc. The PA regular police force is still intact. The motivation to carry out terror attacks still exists, and the information necessary for making bombs is readily available over the internet (he also said TV).

Eitan says that there is not any sense in the West Bank that elections are approaching. When asked whether there were any IDF soldiers who would be prosecuted for vandalism or inappropriate treatment of civilians, Eitan responded generally, that there were a comparatively small number of cases of this type and that they would be dealt with appropriately.
Arafat has fired Jibril Rajoub - commander of West Bank "Preventative Security" - but Rajoub refuses to step down (report). Here's a good background article on Rajoub - included are two versions of the incident where Arafat is said to have pulled a pistol on him.

Update: Now there are rumors that Rajoub is planning to run against Arafat in elections (report). Maybe the US and EU can back him in the elections - as they backed left-leaning organizations in Israeli politics.

Update: The Haaretz article now says that it is Ghazi Jabali who will run for president. Either the article changed or I'm not sleeping enough. Rajoub and the governor of Jenin are supposed to trade places (report).

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

Imshin is nervous about the next Islamikaze bombing... I think that the IDF is doing a good job at keeping the bombers on the run. On the other hand, I'm concerned that Operation Determined Path might start to go less swimmingly for the IDF.
Army Radio reports that Hamas supporters conducted a violent demonstration at a PA Police building in Rafiah. They're demanding the execution of a suspected "collaborator". PA forces opened fire causing the demonstrators to disperse.
Unique approach to democracy

A pro-Arafat demonstration took place today in Gaza. (report)
We urge Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, to condemn Bush's remarks and to respect and protect the right of Palestinians to decide on their leadership," read a letter handed to UN officials.

Some other demonstrators explained what the "right to decide" means:
"Any collaborator who would represent himself an alternative to [Arafat] will be executed in the public square," said the message, which echoed through the streets as armed men fired in the air.
From yesterday's BBC interview with Jawad Boulos, who is the lawyer for Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti (on the program Hardtalk as paraphrased on Army Radio):.
Tim Sebastian: "Is Marwan Barghouti the leader of the Tanzim?"
Boulos: "Marwan is just a regular man on the street"
Ariel Sharon yesterday: "we are at the precipice of the beginning of continuation of the political process". Sounds a little better in Hebrew.

Israel is paying $150 million to Turkey as compensation for Israel's decision not to proceed with a plan to import Turkish fresh water. Apparently noone had properly evaluated how the water could be shipped, stored, and disposed of (report).

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

An Israeli-Palestinian dialogue?

Letter to the editor in Maariv:

I'm writing this letter in my house in the town of Dura next to Hebron, which is under full curfew. In the street next to me IDF tanks go by. I've not been able to leave my house for a week. It's dangerous even to open a window. And I ask you, citizens of Israel: now that you've conquered us, all of the towns in villages in the West Bank, and you've made almost a million men, women, and children into prisoners and their houses into prisons - now what will you do?

For you were here once before; the IDF was in all our villages and towns almost 30 years; and then there was the Intifada and you weren't able to continue ruling over us. And now you'll be able to? Just yesterday I saw on Israeli TV the soldiers stationed in Balata refugee camp who already feel as they did in Lebanon. Is this what you want - to relive the Lebanon experience with us in the Palestinian towns and villages?

I always opposed the suicide attacks in Israeli cities, as they are an aweful thing in opposition to to our religion and heritage, and they only help Sharon to unite the Israeli nation against us, but both I and every other Palestinian in the world will never surrender to life under an occupying government or under the dominance of the settlers who come to take our lands and to uproot the trees. When will you decide where your country's border is? When will we try what we have never yet tried: to put a clear boundary between us - between the state of Israel and the state of Palestine?

The government of Israel isn't ready to speak today to Arafat and seeks to replace him - and you've now acquired the support of President Bush in this regard. But if we, the Palestinians, choose a different leader in free elections, what would you recommend to our new leader? Would you then be ready to leave our territories and end the occupation? Maybe it's you that should switch your leadership - which is bringing destruction both to you and to us,

Naif Alarjob, Dura

"Rina" comments at the bottom:

Subject: "Alzheimer's as the typical Palestinian disorder"

It's interesting that the current situation bothers you so much that you're not even capable of remembering what happened 2 years ago.

The Israelis didn't start the intifada; Sharon was in the opposition; and the Oslo peace accords (RIP) were in effect. If you perpetually blame others and not yourselves then there really is no hope and the present situation will continue forever - so be it then.
The IDF is now back in Kalkilya. That was quick.

The IDF is encountering little resistance. This is probably because the Pals figure it's best just to wait until the IDF leaves and then they'll regroup/"counterattack". As the IDF stays longer it's unfortunately likely that they'll have to start dealing with snipers etc.
The IDF has left Kalkilya. Though there are still alerts for terror attacks, things are quiet right now. The news is duller than what we've gotten used to. We hear about the IDF operations in the West Bank but without a lot of detail.

I don't support the IDF remaining permanently in Area A... but obviously any Israeli now feels calmer and safer than he/she did two weeks ago. Also, the level of international condemnation that we receive seems to be constant - that's partly because people feel the need to condemn us whenever they need to excuse an Islamikaze attack.

Yesterday's Maariv newspaper had a full-page "retrospective" on Hamas bomb-maker Muhamed Taher with photos of the dozen or so bombings that he was involved with. In the center of the page was a chart of the Nablus Hamas organization with indications of who the IDF had killed, who they had apprehended, and who was still at large.

On the radio this AM, someone in Gaza was describing the poverty and demonstrations that are happening there. They blame corruption within the PA for preventing contributions from reaching them but stop short of blaming their national symbol Arafat. Many want a return to negotiations and opening of the border with Israel (how many of the people who say this would also say that they support the bombings?). Fatah is said to remain the dominant political organization and only around 30% would vote for Hamas.

Does the International Criminal Court have the equivalent of a "presidential pardon"?
This just in ... Arafat's Fatah organization is now threatening to attack American targets. They're also threatening "1970s-style" operations - which presumably means skyjackings (report).

Update: Haaretz says that the contents of the relevant pamphlet were broadcast on al-Jazeera and attributed to Fatah, but that Fatah has denied responsbility for the pamphlet (report). But regardless, Al-Jazeera has broadcast the message to all its viewers.

Monday, July 01, 2002

The IDF wants to ease the curfews in West Bank cities, but says that it will stay put until the terrorist infrastructure has been taken care of (report). A pack with 3 bombs was discovered in a Jerusalem suburb.

On the radio this AM there was discussion about the International Criminal Court. Recently, Egypt submitted a proposal that a country's moving its population into territory occupied in war be termed a "war crime" - this proposal was accepted. Though the West Bank and Gaza are not strictly speaking "occupied", since the 1949 ceasefire lines were never an internationally recognized border, it's likely that a politicized court would deem them such. If the PA were a sovereign state that signed the ICC treaty, Israelis could be prosecuted if they travelled abroad.
Lynn B. points to an article at a site run by Ahmed Bouzid and asks if his translation of an article from Yediot Aharonot is authentic.

No, Bouzid's translation (which suggests that significant numbers of Israeli kids spew vitriol similar to Palestinians) is selective, tendentious, and inaccurate. It slices up paragraphs from the original and assembles them into new paragraphs.

The original article says in the second paragraph that the letters (which were mailed to reserve soldiers and included some nasty anti-Arab comments) came from 7-10th graders in 2 specific schools associated with the national-religious movement ("Aderet" in Bat-Yam and "Maalot Neriah" in Bnei-Brak).

There were "tens" of such letters - this was omitted by Bouzid to create the impression that there were more (and since Yediot is a melodramatic tabloid, it's reasonable to assume that the letters quoted were the most lurid).

The "Jewish Action Center" in the Bouzid translation is the "Center for Jewish Pluralism" in the original; and Bouzid omitted text that included responses from various education officials.

I'll try to do a full translation and comparison soon. Bouzid also links to two largely fictional articles by Chris Hedges.

Update: Stephan Sharkansky has more this here.

Sunday, June 30, 2002

The IDF seems to be keeping the Islamikazes on the run these days, but this AM a bomb exploded on a train track near Lod - lightly injuring 4 (details). Haaretz news flashes says that in Ramallah 10 wanted men were found hiding in 2 Red Crescent ambulances.

The commotion around the "baby-dressed-as-suicide-bomber" photo is interesting. A picture really influences people much more than words and argument.

On Army Radio's "Last Word" this morning they were talking about the baby: how cute he is, "he reminds me of the Dolphinarium bomber". They also expressed skepticism about the dismantling of settlement outposts that is now going on: "you can take them down and put them back up a dozen times before lunch".

Right now just about my entire company is gathered in the main conference room to watch the Mondial final.
Shimon Shiffer of newspaper Yediot Ahronot writes as if he is literally omniscient. In Friday's paper he provides a long piece which includes info about "secret" communications between Ariel Sharon and the White House via businessman Arye Genger. Also: while watching the Bush speech, Shimon Peres supposedly said: "What would have happened if the Prime Minister decided to visit Ramallah [ie. Arafat]? It would change the face of history. Everything would change"