Friday, December 16, 2005


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, December 15, 2005

From Israel

Arlene Kushner

December 15, 2005

[] A Newsweek article in which Sharon aide Kalman Gayer was quoted as saying that Sharon is planning more unilateral withdrawals in Judea and Samaria and that for peace he would give up 90% of this area as well as part of Jerusalem is causing quite a furor here.

Sharon, on the defensive, is vociferously denying this -- in particular with regard to Jerusalem. But what is a Sharon denial worth?

[] Already the Kadima party is losing some of its glitter. Polls this week indicate that the party would receive some 7 fewer seats than was predicated last week. It is said that the rush of Hanegbi and then Mofaz to leave Likud and join was viewed by the public as opportunistic.

[] As a result of protests, the Supreme Court has ordered that construction of the Security Fence in the area of Gush Etzion -- which was about to begin -- be stopped for five days while the issues are reviewed. The residents of Gush Etzion, with excellent reason, are up in arms about the planned route of the fence, which will strangle the communities and put many at risk. More and more it becomes clear that what was supposed to be a temporary defensive measure to protect Israelis from infiltration into their communities by terrorists is intended by Ariel Sharon to ultimately constitute the final border of Israel. The path the fence is taking is convoluted, and keeps changing for political rather than security reasons. In the region of Gush Etzion there is a forest/nature preserve at risk as well.

[] Yesterday a missile strike killed four terrorists driving in a car in Gaza to the Karni Crossing leading into Israel. Their car was loaded with explosives and their plan had been to blow it up at the Crossing, and then fire on Israeli soldiers. It has been revealed that a Palestinian Authority policeman stationed at the Crossing was involved in this plan: He had passed intelligence information to them and intended to let them drive their car to the checkpoint.

[] This morning IDF forces arrested a Palestinian woman in the West Bank village of A-Sira A-Shamaliya suspected of planning to commit a suicide bombing.

[] This afternoon the IDF intervened in what might would have been a far more catastrophic car bomb attack. Soldiers found a car packed with explosives parked near Beit Jala, on the Jerusalem-Gush Etzion Tunnels Highway. Inside the car were gas canisters, a pipe bomb, and gas-soaked tires and other materials. Terrorists apparently planned to send the car rolling one of the highway's two tunnels, and detonate it there.

[] Also today a Kassam rocket of a larger than usual size hit the industrial area of Ashkelon; there were no injuries.

In the past two weeks there have been 92 rockets and mortar shells fired on Israel.

[] Under continuing duress from the U.S. to start the "safe passage" convoys on time, Israel is still holding out and refusing to begin continuous runs. There is talk now about some trial runs of five trips/day and very stringent security measures (getting names in advance, restricting by age as young men are most likely to be violent, etc.).

[] Hamas has made a strong showing in municipal elections in PA areas -- sweeping in Jenin, Nablus, and El-Bireh near Ramallah. Their continuing strength represents a real threat to what's left of the PA (which ain't much), and radicalizes the political climate. I note again that while Hamas has opted to join the political fray it has in no way whatsoever renounced violence.

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