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BICOM Daily Briefing October 30 2003

Last updated: 2003-10-30

The news that Israeli security forces have prevented several Palestinian suicide attacks over the past week serves as a deadly reminder that Palestinian terrorists continue to attempt to thwart Israeli desires for peace. Israel must take the necessary actions to defend the lives of its citizens and calls upon the Palestinian Authority to bring an end to the terrorism that threatens lives and the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Media Summary:

An internal debate between the IDF and the Israeli government over policies in the territories is reported by The Independent, while The Times reports that Israel is preparing for a major attack by Hezbollah on its northern border. The Financial Times covers the potential ceasefire talks between Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Ala and Palestinian terrorist factions. The condition of the British student shot in Gaza is reported by The Times, a subject also addressed in The Independent. The Times also features an article on Christian Evangelist support for Israel while BBC Online has an interview with Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin.

Quotes of the Day:

George W. Bush (28/10): “There are terrorists in the Middle East willing to kill to make sure that a Palestinian state doesn't emerge. It's essential that there be a focused effort to fight off terror.”

Dan Kurtzer, US Ambassador to Israel (29/10): "Our position on the wall has been made very clear and there has been no change. We do not question Israel's right to defend itself and we do not dictate to Israel the means for it to defend itself."

Behind the News:

Several suicide attacks thwarted in past week:

Israeli security forces have said that they have thwarted several terrorist attacks during the past week. On Sunday two senior Islamic Jihad terrorists were arrested for planning a double suicide attack to be carried out in the Israeli town of Beit She’an. Two explosive belts were found in their possession, each weighing eleven kilograms. Also on Sunday, two youths were detained in Jenin whilst planning a suicide attack. In clashes in Hebron, Nablus, Qalqilya and the Gaza Strip, a number of Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorists were killed as they attempted to cross into Israel with a car bomb and for the purpose of transporting suicide bombers and carrying out shootings.

Two Israelis were injured near Kadim, in the northern West Bank Wednesday when members of Al Aksa Martyrs’ Brigade shot at their car. The couple are both doctors at Afula’s Haemek hospital. The IDF fired shells at a house in Jenin after tracking down the terrorist who carried out the attack.

Iranian message calls for talks with Israel:

Ha’aretz reports that Israeli government sources are looking into a message from Iran that effectively says that Tehran wishes to open talks with Israel. Israel has asked a third party to make inquiries in Tehran and establish whether the message is serious. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom have been advised of the message, which was not delivered directly. Iran agreed last week to freeze its uranium enrichment efforts and to allow surprise inspections in its nuclear facilities. But Israeli sources say that Iranian activity is problematic and that the road to change still appears very long. Sharon sees no signs of moderation in Iran, or modification in its hostility toward Israel and its support for terror groups. Sharon suspects it is convenient for the Iranians to hint at possible flexibility because of other problems they are facing, and that their statements regarding the nuclear issue should be put to the test.

Comment and Opinion:

Amnon Rubinstein (Ha’aretz, 30/10): “Who would have believed that at the start of the 21st century, less than 60 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, anti-Semitism would be back in the headlines? Not long ago, French television broadcast a special program on the subject, and several new books about modern anti-Semitism have been published, including works by American jurist Alan Dershowitz, French Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut and the American author Phyllis Chesler.”

“True, most terror attacks against Jews have been carried out by extremist Muslims, and true, Jews in the West do not face the sort of dangers they did in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.”

“Nevertheless, one could have assumed that a centuries-old tradition of anti-Semitism would not vanish overnight, and that it would be directed against the Jewish state. Based on this tradition, the Jew is always different, other, and the suspicions that he provokes do not fade away even when he looks "like one of us."”

“How has the liberal lobby, that patron of human rights, come to single out Israel and remain apathetic to the distress of the Jews?”


Israel Briefing supplied by BICOM