Mindful that tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the US, I will take a short break after this posting. To all my American readers about to indulge in turkey and visiting I extend good wishes.
The rockets from Gaza continue unabated.
Yesterday a Kassam hit a factory on the outskirts of Sderot, lightly wounding four and very seriously wounding one, Yaakov Yaakobov, who died of his wounds late last night. His family barred politicians at his funeral today as a protest against the failure of the government to protect people from attack. Yaakobov’s son’s bar mitzvah is scheduled for next month.
Early this morning a Kassam landed near a school in Sderot, luckily before the hour when children arrive. Miriam Sasi, head of the Department of Education for Sderot, lamenting the horrendous situation, explained, "Today we were also informed that there is only one psychologist in Sderot on behalf of the Education Ministry, and I don’t know what to say. There is no mercy and no compassion for this city." The armed wing of Hamas, Izz al-Din al-Kassam, took credit for this attack.
There is no word but disgraceful for the conduct of the government in this matter.
It seems that the government may soon reverse itself with regard to a major operation in Gaza. Defense officials are currently looking at a plan for a massive operation into Gaza, similar to Defensive Shield in Judea-Samaria in 2002. "We are not left with many options," a high ranking official told the Post. "What we know can work at stopping the Kassams is a major operation and the reoccupation of the Gaza Strip." Well, good morning! Let it be, and as soon as possible.
The Security Cabinet met this morning. While nothing definitive has yet been approved, it has given the go-ahead to the military to submit a detailed plan of action.
A report yesterday by Aaron Klein of WorldNetDaily makes clear how urgent is the need to take a stand against the Kassam attacks:
Hamas is "very satisfied" because of reports that some Israelis are ready to flee areas where the bombardments take place, and that children are being kept home from school.
"The importance of what is happening in Sderot proves to the Palestinians, especially those who say rockets bring no results, that rocket attacks do bring big benefits," declared Abu Abdullah, an important member of Hamas’s military wing. "We promise we will keep hitting them because this process is starting to bring results. We are working to improve our rockets to hit further and cause more Jews to evacuate. Our goal is to evacuate neighborhoods in Sderot and Ashkelon. I am sure in next months it will not only be Ashkelon but also Ashdod…
"Only the departure of residents from Sderot will stop the rocket fire. There are no limits on our rocket attacks and we will prove that in coming days. We advise residents of Sderot to evacuate.
"…we will use our rockets to bombard your towns and cities until more and more are forced to evacuate. Our rockets have already improved, as Sderot residents know. We keep working on (the rockets) to improve deadliness, force and distance." (There have been more casualties of late because the rockets have been improved and use more explosives.)
It must be emphasized here that Sderot and Ashkelon and Ashdod are all inside the Green Line, in what is considered Israel proper. It is not an accident that these places are being targeted. The Palestinians envision themselves as "liberating" areas that had previously belonged them.
Make no mistake: This is not an action designed to make Israel pull back to the pre-’67 lines. This is a war against the State of Israel, designed to weaken it and destroy it. What is perceived as "occupied" territory is not Judea-Samaria, but all of Israel.
It would be suicidal for the Israeli gov’t to fail to respond to this as a war, with full measures necessary.
Yet another occurrence of this week makes an incursion by ground forces important: An air strike in Gaza against the home of Muhammad Baroud, of the Popular Resistance Committees, was cancelled when Baroud called for assistance via a mosque loudspeaker and hundreds of people then surrounded his home. This despicable use of civilians by terrorists cannot be permitted to put a stop to operations. It is impossible to avoid hitting human shields when bombing is done from the air: when ground troops move it, the scenario shifts.
You may encounter this, but don’t believe it:
Peace Now called a press conference yesterday, in which they announced that they have submitted a report to Attorney General Mazuz charging that the Israeli gov’t is conducting a "systematic and institutional land grab" in Judea and Samaria by building on land that is in good part owned by Arabs. This follows a Peace Now report, entitled "Breaking the Law in the West Bank, which claims that 40% of all settlements are built on privately owned Arab land.
The fact is that while Peace Now presented a simplistic picture for political purposes, land ownership in Judea-Samaria is a legally complex matter, involving, among other things, regulations and procedures of the Ottoman period, the British Mandate period, Jordanian occupation, and Israeli administration, which adheres to international law. There are a number of categories of property.
The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza — which will be releasing a report of their own to counter the charges — denounced the report, saying that it is without basis in fact. A statement they released to the media said: "Since 1979, the state has not established settlements on private land."
It was in 1979 that the Supreme Court, in the Alon Moreh case, which was a legal watershed, ruled that the military could seize private Arab land for settlement purposes where there was an overweening security purpose. Where there was no such security purpose, the Government of Israel could not appropriate private property.
Others have pointed out that many of the settlements now accused of being built on Arab lands were built by left-wing Labor gov’ts, in several instances with Shimon Peres in charge. This was not some covert right wing plot.
There is additionally the complication of Arabs who sell land to Jews and then deny having done so. In research I’ve done in the course of my writing, I’ve encountered such situations. Arabs who sell their land to Jews are at risk of being murdered by fellow Arabs and so often go through a long involved process with proxies, etc.
In order to gain a fuller perspective on the matter now, I contacted a well-known international lawyer here in Jerusalem. This is what he wrote to me:
"…Peace Now may have misled the public by failing to distinguish between unclaimed private land and claimed land…I believe [it is correct] that the vast majority of the land in question was not seized from private owners but was owned putatively by absentee landowners who did not come forward to assert any claim to the land. Land of this type may then fall under the aegis of the Custodian for Absentee Property or his counterpart in the Administered Territories. Once it is Absentee Property, the law gives the government of Israel the right to make productive use of it, including for settlement purposes.
…My information is that the Government scrupulously complied with the 1979 ruling [referred to above] and the person who was primarily
responsible for making sure the Government did so was Advocate Plia Albeck who was then an official in the Ministry of Justice. The late PM Menahem Begin was also insistent that the legal status of any lands used for settlement be meticulously researched in order to avoid any inadvertent appropriation of private property. Plia Albeck once mentioned in an address I attended that because of Begin’s legal policy, her department would dispatch officials to proposed settlement sites in order to count animal droppings to insure that the unclaimed property was not in fact being utilized by local residents for livestock grazing which would give rise to usufructary rights [rights to use the property not theirs] under Jordanian land law."
This presents a decidedly different picture than the one painted by Peace Now of Israel trampling Arab rights.
Journalist David Bedein put out a statement today that further demonstrates the reality of Israeli sensitivity to Arab rights:
"Since 1979, the Israeli government mandated that any private Arab claimant of land slated for Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria may file a claim in the Israel High Court of Justice.
"The vast majority of privately registered land inside the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria has never [been] claimed or challenged.
"A case in point: Where this reporter lives, in Efrat, just south of Bethlehem, Jewish families slated to move in…in 1979 were prevented by the Israel High Court of Justice from doing so until 1983, AFTER all Arab claimants…had their opportunity to go to the courts to prove ownership of privately owned lands.
"The Israel High Court of Justice eventually ruled that several tracts of agricultural land that lie inside Efrat are indeed owned by Arabs. These tracts of land are tilled by their Arab landowners to this day."
Daniel Pipes, Director of the Middle East Forum, has written a piece called, "Rethinking the Israel-Egypt ‘Peace’ Treaty." It is worth considering carefully:
Reports Pipes: In a recent poll in Egypt, 92% of those surveyed identified Israel as an "enemy," and only 2% saw us as "a friend to Egypt." There is a popular song in Egypt called "I hate Israel." Venomous anti-Semitic political cartoons appear in Egyptian papers. Some 90% of the weapons that have been smuggled into Gaza come from Egypt.
Egypt, which is impoverished, sinks very massive amounts of money into purchasing weaponry — it is the third largest purchaser of weapons in the entire developing world This is in spite of the fact that Egypt has no apparent enemies against which it must defend itself, which leads many — including MK Yuval Steinitz, who watches Egypt closely — to conclude that the weapon buildup is intended against Israel.
The March 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was hailed as an "historic turning point" that would usher in a time when "violence no longer dominates the Middle East."
In fact, says Pipes, the treaty did harm to Israel. First, it opened up the American arsenal, so that Egypt — which is now much closer to military parity with Israel than it otherwise would have been — was able to receive American funding that enabled it to secure sophisticated weapons.
Second, it increased hostility to Israel. This seems counter-intuitive, but Pipes says that making peace with Israel was seen as a betrayal on the part of Sadat. (It did lead to his assassination.) After the treaty was signed, a more intense, bitter and personal sort of anti-Israeli attitude emerged. This is a startling and significant point worth noting careful. Pipes, an academic and an Arabist, says that this has been the pattern in other instances: The 1994 Jordanian-Israel peace treaty soured Jordanian attitudes towards Israel.
(Pipes says that this is true of the Palestinians to some lesser extent since the 1993 Accords, but I suggest there was a different dynamic at work here — with Arafat suddenly given new latitude to control incitement.)
Pipes points out that many maintain that while it has been a cold peace, at least it has held and there has been no war. For this, he says, a peace treaty is not necessary. There has been quiet on the border with Syria for many years, with no peace treaty. And in the instance of Syria, there is no sophisticated weaponry should they attack. Asks Pipes: "Does an antique signature on a piece of paper offset Egypt’s Abrams tanks, F-16 fighter jets, and Apache attack helicopters?" What is more, I would add, the possibility that Egypt might yet be involved in a war with us still exists — Egypt’s behavior is no less threatening to us, because they have a peace treaty, than is Syrian’s without that treaty.
Pipes suggests that we learn from this for the future and understand what the fallacies in Israeli thinking have been:
 Agreements signed by unelected Arab leaders would convince the masses to give up their ambitions to eliminate Israel.
 These agreements would be permanent, with no backsliding, much less duplicity.
 Other Arab states would inevitably follow suit.
 War can be concluded through negotiations rather than by one side giving up.
This posting can be found at: https://arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/11/22/posted-november-22-2006.html