Tuesday, January 03, 2006


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, January 2, 2006

From Israel

Arlene Kushner akushner@netvision.net.il

January 2, 2006

[] The end-of-the-year report from Israel's General Security Services has been released. And guess what? There has been a major -- and I mean major -- increase in the amount of weaponry smuggled into Gaza from Egypt since the "disengagement." The numbers are startling. A 900% increase in the number of anti-tank missile launchers compared with the months before we pulled out. A 600% increase in the number of missiles. An estimated five tons of explosives; 5,000 rifles and handguns, and more than a million bullets.

What amazes me is that while we cannot stop this flow of weapons, we can monitor it so that we know what is coming in. The report, naturally, says the PA is doing nothing to stop this.

I am growing weary of saying the same thing, but I will persist: This was predicted before the pullout. It is the height of insanity that we've gotten ourselves into this situation. Anyone who claims our position is better since the pullout is lying or is totally self-deluded.

While there has been a reduction in the number of terrorist attacks over the past year, the report indicates that this is largely the result of increased Israeli success in preventing attacks or intercepting terrorists attempting to carry out attacks. During 2005, the GSS arrested 160 suicide bombers in Judea and Samaria. Despite pledges of "calm" (Tahidaya) by terrorist organizations during 2005, the GSS reported that the number of security alerts remained fairly consistent all year.

[] Bashir Hammad, one of the founders of Hamas's armed wing, Izzaddin al- Kassam, returned to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing yesterday; he had fled in 1992 and has been wanted by Israel since 1988.
At least 45 Hamas and Fatah fugitives have returned to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah terminal since it was handed over to the Palestinian Authority four months ago.

[] Thankfully, at least the talk of allowing Palestinians safe passage across Israel has been stopped. Israel refuses to discuss it further now because of the chaos in Gaza and what the safe passage would represent from a security position. Apparently, the US and even the EU have stopped pressuring us on this. Maybe even they are starting to get it. Surely the fact that the EU monitors at the Rafah checkpoint were driven back by gunmen a few days ago has helped them have a clearer perspective on the situation.

[] The latest take on the PA elections is that they are likely to be postponed. Top officials in Fatah have called for such a postponement and Abbas has now come out saying that he will delay the elections if Israel does not allow voting in Jerusalem. My guess would be that he hopes Israel doesn't permit voting, so that he has a scapegoat and can call for the delay that he really wants, since Fatah is being threated by a Hamas victory.

[] Negotiations are currently under way for Turkey to be directly involved in management of the Erez industrial zone and crosssing into Israel from Gaza. More to follow on this.

[] According to Amnon Danker and Ben Caspit, writing in today's Maariv (and reported in IMRA http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=28016), Sharon is planning massive unilateral retreats in Judea and Samaria after the elections because the PA is not fulfilling its obligations under the roadmap. Sharon, according to Danker and Caspit, has already approached President Bush with this plan, seeking his blessing on what would be Israel's final borders, and his guarantee that we would never have to take in Palestinian refugees if we did this. Bush reportedly is not signing on -- but this is likely not out of concern for Israeli rights and security. It would not go well with the Palestinians if Bush were to unilaterally promise away what they imagine to be and promote as their "right" regarding return, or if he were to recognize borders for Israel that were any less than a full and complete withdrawal to at least the '67 lines. Bush's position has been and will undoubtedly remain that these issues must be resolved between the parties.

It should be noted that Sharon declared that there would be no more unilateral withdrawals after Gaza. But of course, we know what Sharon's word is worth.

I can think of nothing more urgent for the future and the wellbeing of this country than a decisive defeat for the Kadima party in the coming elections.

Here I have just documented the security disaster that has been wrought by the pullout from Gaza, and yet Sharon would entertain thoughts of a far greater pullout, involving the removal of tens of thousands of Jews from land that is ours by heritage as well as needed for security -- and this is the face of increased fanaticism, stockpiling of weapons, increase in the number of terrorists present, and breakdown of law and order in the areas ostensibly administered by the PA. We'd be giving them wide swaths of terroritory from which to hit us hard while reducing our strategic logistical edge.

My reactions to Netanyahu at this point are highly ambivalent. He has already tilted left in ways that make me decidedly uncomfortable, and there is merit to the charges that, based on his previous record, he cannot be trusted. But I continue, however reluctantly, to recognize that he is most likely to defeat Sharon if he takes a centrist position. I think MK Effie Etam, of National Union, has it right: He made a statement just today that Netanyahu will give away what he shouldn't unless there is a strong right wing bloc along side of Netanyahu's Likud.

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