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The Lekarev Report - Israel News August 7, 2008

6 Av 5768
August 7, 2008
shalitdad.jpgHamas: Shalit May Be Captive Forever

A Hamas spokesman said last night that abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit could remain in captivity "forever" should Israel fail to comply with Hamas' demands. Earlier in the day, Gilad's father Noam Shalit charged that Hamas' failure to finalize a prisoner swap keeps thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

 However, the Hamas source rejected the claims, saying the soldier's father should "direct his pain and his messages to his own government, rather than to us."

"We understand Noam Shalit's pain, but first and foremost we understand the pain of more than 11,000 Palestinian families whose sons are jailed in Israel," the source said. "I understand the father's emotional distress and his frustration with the Israeli government. After all, he said that he holds his own government responsible for the failure of the contacts (to free Gilad.)" 

"Hamas is exercising its moral and historical responsibility to the Palestinian people and to the prisoners' families," the Hamas source added. "Despite the ridiculous comments uttered by Israeli leaders regarding their ability to reach the captive in the Strip, I'm telling Noam Shalit - your son will remain forever in the Strip should your government fail to comply with our demands. The ball is in Israel's court and for long months now we've been waiting for a response to our demands, which have not changed."
 
mofazlivini.jpgMofaz & Livni: The Battle Is On

Kadima's September primaries stand to feature four candidates: Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter and Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit.  Livni and Mofaz, pictured here, are generally seen as the two leading contenders.

Recent polls show Mofaz trailing behind Livni, in the race for Kadima's leadership; but the current gap between them is only 2%.   A recent survey held by the Dahaf Institute at Yedioth Ahronoth's request among Kadima's registered voters showed that in a neck-to-neck race, 45% of them would vote for Mofaz.  And the reality is that the race has yet to officially begin. 

Slowly but surely, Mofaz has become Livni's most formidable rival; and the man, as his personal history has demonstrated, is no stranger to beating the odds: He beat then-Major-General Matan Vilnai in the race for the IDF chief of staff position; and when former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon formed his 2002 government, Mofaz nabbed the Defense Ministry from underneath Benjamin Netanyahu's nose.
 
Those familiar with the inner workings of Kadima say that since it is hard to imagine either of them serving as a minister in the other one's government, the battle between Livni and Mofaz will probably be to the political death.

Mofaz has been savvy enough to send out feelers deep into the local political arena. He now has the ear of many of Israel's mayors; and he knows that eventually, they are the ones who will determine who heads Kadima.

Most recently, Mofaz hired American political strategist Arthur Finkelstein to advise his campaign. Finkelstein is best known for his work with Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman.
Finkelstein reportedly held a survey which indicated that the primaries would most likely focus on two issues: Israel's existential security and incorruptibility. When it comes to the latter, Finkelstein told him, you and Livni are toe-to-toe; but when it comes to matters of defense, that gap is categorically in your favor. Mofaz, declared Finkelstein, has to play the defense card.

Livni, however, seems to have the upper hand when it comes to getting electoral mandates in a head-to-head race against either Netanyahu or Barak, but whoever leads Kadima - providing they watch their step - would be able to enjoy the same leverage, claims Mofaz.  Kadima voters have to look beyond the next elections - they have to focus on keeping the party in power for the next two years.

The end of August will see Kadima's voters' roster close. Mofaz intends to form modest campaign headquarters, enlist a large group of volunteers - some of whom he knows from his early army days - cement his position as the alternative to Livni, and mount a full frontal assault towards winning the primaries. No slogan has been devised yet, but the words "Mofaz" and "security" are sure to be included.
 
weapons.jpgThree Years After Gaza Disengagement

Three years after the Gaza Disengagement program that ended the Jewish presence in Gaza, Hamas has amassed an arsenal of guided missiles and 10 million bullets - yes, you read that right - 10 million bullets.

Hamas has equipped its new army with a massive amount of weapons since the government carried out its Disengagement program. In the past year alone, 175 tons of explosives, precision guided missiles and, thousands of machine guns and 10 million rounds of ammunition have reached Hamas, according to intelligence reports published by the German newspaper, Der Spiegel.

Earlier this week, intelligence officials said that four tons of explosives recently were smuggled into the hands of the rapidly growing Hamas army, which is estimated to include more than 10,000 terrorists. However, the amount is a tiny fraction in the arsenal of Hamas, which has been intensifying training sessions and organizing its army on the Hizbullah model in anticipation of a confrontation with the Israeli Defense Forces.

Smuggling through tunnels has become a way of life for Gaza residents, and halting the smuggling would further devastate the economy. Five thousand Arabs work in the tunnels, Der Spiegel estimated.

Meanwhile, former Jewish residents of Gush Katif in Gaza gathered yesterday for a rally on the third anniversary of their expulsion.settlers.jpg 


At a ceremony to mark three years since the Gaza Disengagement, some 4,000 former residents of the Gaza Strip settlements gathered in a forest outside the Kissufim crossing to the Strip, and vowed to return to the Strip and rebuild their former homes.





US Wants 'Punitive' Measures Against Iran
Russia Says 'Nyet'

 
On Wednesday night, Aug. 6, reliable sources in Washington said that Israel was building up its strike capabilities for an attack against Iran should tougher measures against the Iranian Republic fail to be forthcoming after Iran's refusal to halt enrichment.  Israel, said the source, has previously purchased 90 F-16I planes that can carry enough fuel to reach Iran and would receive another 11 by the end of next year. The Jewish state had also bought two new Dolphin submarines from Germany capable of firing nuclear-armed warheads, in addition to the three already in service with its navy.

Intelligence sources say that this information was leaked by Washington in order to warn Moscow that by closing the door to sanctions, it was opening the door to an Israeli attack.

 vit_churkin.jpgA few hours earlier by Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin: "There have been no firm agreements or understandings or any kind of concerted work" against Iran over its nuclear program." He took exception to US and British statements that a fourth round of UN Security Council sanctions was on the table against Iran for its ambiguous response to the six-power incentives.

Israel, believing Tehran will have enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb by next year or 2010 at the latest, is worried about Washington's softening on Iran and intention to open a US office in Tehran.

Washington sources report that Israel is building up its strike capabilities and appears confident that a military attack would cripple Tehran's nuclear program even if its installations were too widely scattered to be completely wiped out.

US, British, Russian, Chinese, French, German and European officials spoke by conference call earlier in the day. The US and Britain said they had agreed to consider a possible fourth round of UN Security Council sanctions for lack of a clear yes or no from Tehran on the suspension of uranium enrichment in return for incentives.

Russian ambassador denied participating in the call. He also said Moscow had set no deadline for Iran to respond to the offer made on June 19. "The negotiating track is open, there are contacts between the parties," he said and added, "While Russian would have preferred a clear response, "It's more complicated than that as we all know."

He suggested that further talks among the six powers would take place in September on the sidelines of the next UN General Assembly.
 
hamas.jpgHamas Warns of Takeover in West Bank
 
A senior Gaza Hamas official has warned that his Islamic terrorist group could overrun the West Bank, just as it took over Gaza, if provoked by its rivals in Fatah.

Sami Abu Zuhri spoke as tensions between the two groups remained high following a bombing that killed five Hamas members in Gaza and a Hamas sweep that ended with 11 dead and dozens wounded, most of them from Fatah.

Abu Zuhri, told The Associated Press that Fatah should expect "an uprising" against them if they continued a crackdown against Hamas there.

A West Bank Fatah official responded that Hamas was issuing empty threats, but nobody here really believes that Fatah actually sees these threats as "empty".  The Palestinian Authority has for months feared a repeat in Ramallah of what happneed in Gaza when Hamas forcibly took control.
 
After Hamas expelled Fatah forces from Gaza in June 2007, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah set up a government in the West Bank. Israel maintains a large military presence and overall security control in the West Bank.

Abu Zuhri's interview with the AP reflected Hamas's increasingly tough stance toward Fatah, after it routed the Fatah-linked Hilles clan in Gaza City over the weekend.   As the conflict has intensified, Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank have rounded up dozens of political opponents, amid growing reports of beatings and mistreatment of detainees by both sides.

Abu Zuhri said the crackdown on Hamas loyalists would not break the movement. Instead it would bring "the opposite result.  "It will lead to what will appear like an uprising against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank," he said.

In other words,  the Palestinians are in the midst of a civil war.

wind-power-5.jpgBlowing in the Wind

Looking for creative ways to deal with the oil crisis has birthed a new project in Israel.  The government has granted a permit for the Mei Golan Wind Energy Development Company to go ahead with a $500 million project for a wind farm over a 140-kilometer (87 mile) area. Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) approved the project, which had been authorized by the Public Utilities Authority,

Business newspaper, Globes, reported.Mei Golan built Israel's first wind farm 16 years ago in the northern Golan. It has 10 wind turbines and generates six megawatts, most of the electicity being used by local factories.

The soaring price of crude oil pushed forward the idea of wind turbines as energy sources which would be much more feasible economically. Several wind turbines have been operating already in Israel. 

Studies have been carried out to build other wind farms to utilize heavy winds in the Golan and the Southern Hevron Hills, where winds often reach gale force velocity.
 
Why I Love This Country

Naomi Ragen posted a short article today to her mailing list which I must share with you.  It makes one proud to be an Israeli, despite our national problems.
Our people are amazing.

Naomi writes:  According to an article in Hebrew on YNET written by Shmulik Hadad,  a 32 year-old Palestinian woman  gave birth to quadruplets in Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon in her 32nd week.

Barzilai, which has suffered from bombing attacks out of Gaza, took her in two months ago and she has been under constant medical supervision.  She delivered two boys and two girls by casarean section, and the babies are being cared for in the neonatal nursery for preemies.  "She is a very pleasant woman, and it was enjoyable to care for her," said Professor Entebbe.

"Her isolation touched my heart," said the nurse in charge.  "I felt so sorry for her. It's so sad to give birth all alone, with none of your family around. For her, this is a foreign country.  Before the operation,  I went into her and wished her well and hugged her and kissed her. She was very surprised and grateful."
 
"We have quite a few Palestinian patients in our hospital," said Prof. Entebbe.  "Even when the bomb from Gaza fell on us, there were Palestinians being treated here. Their bills are paid for by a number of bodies, including the European Union.  It's my hope that the dedicated care they are receiving here will create an opening for good neighborly relations between us."
 
Again and again, we see Israelis behaving and speaking this way.
No matter what their enemies do.  I suppose that is why we get such bad press. The media just can't figure out what planet we are from, that we refuse to change our behavior no matter how our enemies treat us. 

It's why I love this country and her people so very much. 
 
Amen to that, Naomi.  Me, too.

Shalom and blessings,

Leah

'O Hashem, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness, and Your strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth, that can do according to Your works, and according to Your mighty acts?

Deut. 3:24 
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