Subject: News from Israeli Consulate
Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest
In This Issue:
The Situation in Sderot and Gaza
Situation in the Palestinian Territories
Israel...A Light Unto The Nations
Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest
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The Situation in Sderot and Gaza
Supply of Electricity to Gaza Continues
The supply of electricity to Gaza from the Israeli and Egyptian power grids has continued uninterrupted, representing about 75% of Gaza's electricity needs. While the fuel supply from Israel into Gaza has indeed been reduced, due to the Hamas rocket attacks, the diversion of this fuel from domestic power generators to other uses is wholly a Hamas decision - apparently taken due to media and propaganda considerations. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Story Behind the "Situation" in Gaza
The Enemy Within
As always, Gazans look around, see how terrible conditions are, and point fingers. Many blame Israel. Or they blame the U.S. Or they blame Fatah, rival to Hamas. If things are to improve in Gaza, then that reflexive attitude is one of the first things that must change. Until most Gazans fix the blame for their miserable living conditions where it belongs - on their elected leaders of Hamas - Gaza will remain poised on the brink of crisis, sending rockets into Israel and then complaining bitterly when its foe retaliates.
Blame It on Hamas
(Globe and Mail-Canada)
Last week, 100 rockets rained down on Israel's southern towns. Israel could have defended itself against the attacks launched by militants in Gaza by responding with a bombardment of its own, endangering civilians. It could have sent the Israeli Defense Forces into Gaza, endangering civilians. Instead, Israel opted to enforce a blockade of Gaza to put pressure on Hamas. As Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni aptly put it, "Israel is the only country in the world that supplies electricity to terror groups which in turn fire rockets at it." If life in Gaza is to return to what passes for normal in the terrorist statelet, all Hamas needs to do is call off its dogs and end its attacks. The truth is, Hamas prefers it the way it is.
Hamas Spent Months Cutting through Gaza Wall in Secret Operation
- James Hider
A Hamas border guard, Lt. Abu Usama of the Palestinian National Security, said the Islamist group had been involved for months in slicing through the heavy metal wall along the Gaza-Egypt border using oxy-acetylene cutting torches. That meant that when the explosive charges were set off in 17 different locations, the 40-foot wall came tumbling down. Asked whether he had reported the cutting operation to the [Hamas] government, he replied: "It was the government that was doing this."
See Also: Hamas' Strategy: Disconnect Gaza from Israel, Connect to the Arab World - Pinhas Inbari (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew)
Hamas Staged Some of the Gaza Blackouts - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
On at least two occasions this week, Hamas staged scenes of darkness as part of its campaign to end political and economic sanctions against Gaza, Palestinian journalists said Wednesday.
Situation in Sderot
Israeli Town in Trauma from Palestinian Rockets
- Rebecca Harrison
When the siren sounds, the residents of Sderot, an Israeli town just a mile from Gaza, drop everything and run for cover. They have 15 seconds to reach a bomb shelter and face an almost daily barrage of Palestinian rockets. "We are living in a war zone," said Hava Gad, a 42-year-old mother of three. Sderot's streets, many of them cratered by rockets, are dotted with bomb shelters. Bigger concrete shelters decorated with colorful murals stand outside schools and community centers.
Rockets Keep Raining Down on Sderot
- Dina Kraft and Andrew Friedman
(JTA/Washington Jewish Week)
After seven years of rocket fire from nearby Gaza and no end in sight, Sderot residents are weighing whether or not to stay, as crippled businesses survive on hope and loans. Home prices have fallen by 50%, said Yakov Levy, a realtor in town. "It gets to you. You think about it all the time," said Atara Orenbouch. "You are always thinking: If there were an alarm now, where would the safest place be to hide?"
Video: Israeli News Crew Targeted by Palestinian Snipers (Israel Channel 2 Television/YouTube)
An Israeli TV news crew reporting from Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha near Gaza on Jan. 15 was attacked and pinned down by Palestinian snipers shooting from Gaza.
Hadag Nachash at the House of Blues Chicago
329 N. Dearborn, Chicago
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While some of Israel's neighbors choose to teach their children hatred, the children of Israel are taught unity and peace.
Click here to see how US President George W. Bush was greeted on his recent trip to Israel.
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The articles in this newsletter (with the exception of Israeli Government statements) reflect the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs website - Click for the latest news, official statements, videos, and presentations relating to the current conflict as well as views of the Israel behind the headlines.
Israel: We Will Defend Our Citizens - Even at the Price of Condemnation - Roni Sofer (Ynet News)
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told the Herzliya Conference Tuesday: "Israel should not have to apologize for its existence and it will continue to defend the lives of its citizens, even at the price of condemnation....It is inconceivable for Palestinians to fire rockets on Israel and then ask for our help." "We are not heading towards a new cooperative Middle East, but rather parting consensually for the good of our children and ourselves, and so that we may preserve our sense of independence," she said.
On Iran, Livni said: "It is important to understand that the Iranian threat is unrelated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It will not change if we solve this conflict. We're in a bad neighborhood where you either stand up to the local bully or you join him. Any hesitation is immediately seen as a sign of weakness and therefore the world cannot allow itself any weakness on the Iranian matter."
The Gaza "Blackout" and the Laws of War - J. Peter Pham (National Review)
Although the so-called "Gaza blackout" was instigated by the Hamas terrorists who run the enclave as a sort of cynical publicity stunt, it has drawn the usual dire warnings of impending humanitarian crisis and protests from neighboring Arab countries and the EU. What tends to be forgotten in moments like this is that even if Israel, which supplies more than 75% of the terrorist enclave's power, did cut off the flow, it would not only be morally but also legally justified in doing so.
Israel: Breached Gaza-Egypt Border a "First-Class Security Risk" - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
IDF officials on Wednesday described the situation at the breached Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt as "a first-class security risk." According to a military source, "The free passage of Palestinians into Egypt and back significantly increases the security threat coming from Gaza." "It's clear that each time civilians cross the border, terror activists are also there, taking advantage of the situation for their own needs," said an Israeli defense official. Israel recently expressed its anger over a similar incident, when hundreds of Palestinian pilgrims, returning from Saudi Arabia, entered Gaza unsupervised.
Israel Wants to Sever Connections with Gaza (Reuters)
See Also: 2008 Herzliya Conference on Israel's National Security (Institute for Policy and Strategy, Lauder School of Government, IDC Herzliya)
View the conference sessions - January 20-23, 2008
Deep Inside the Plucky Country - Greg Sheridan (The Australian)
Alongside the territories is a much under-reported but fascinating and unique country. It's called Israel. The world media makes a mistake by using the same reporters to cover the Palestinian territories as well as Israel. They cover the territories and they only cover Israel as a brooding and malign presence in the territories. Naturally the reporting is one-sided. But it is worse than that. It omits from the equation Israel and the Israelis, and all the countless enthralling and diverse aspects of Israeli politics and society.
After a three-week visit I left Israel profoundly optimistic about the morale of the society and the resolve of the people, but profoundly pessimistic about the peace process. If there were peace, any compromise on borders might be possible. But too many Arab leaders, and too many Palestinian leaders, are playing for the very long term and still believe that in time they will wipe Israel off the map. The writer is the foreign editor of The Australian.
See Also: More Jerusalem Arabs Seek Israeli Citizenship - Dion Nissenbaum (McClatchy)
Israel's Statement to the Security Council: The Situation in Gaza and Sderot - Charge d'Affaires Gilad Cohen (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
The situation in the region today did not develop overnight. It is the consequence of many choices, repeatedly the wrong choices, made by the Palestinians to adopt terrorism and violence over peace and negotiations with Israel. The Palestinians in Gaza did not choose to engage Israel in dialogue and reconciliation to advance the two-state vision. Rather, they chose Hamas who uses terrorism and violence to advance its vision to destroy Israel.
Peres: UN Must Denounce Hamas, Not Israel - Aviram Zino (Ynet News)
The UN Security Council must denounce Hamas rather than Israel, Israeli President Shimon Peres said Tuesday. "The Council must ask Hamas why it is firing on children and women in Israel." "We have no interest in seeing Gaza's residents suffer. They are not our enemies, but Gaza's residents must complain to Hamas. They are the only ones who can bring down Hamas and they must demand that Hamas stop firing on Israel."
"In this case, there is no doubt who started and there is no doubt that Hamas is constantly firing missiles, and this cannot remain unanswered. The responsibility for the situation in Gaza lies unequivocally on Hamas' shoulders. There is not one state in the world which will be fired on without retaliating. There is no excuse for the fire and no justification to ignore it."
See Also: EU Official: Gaza Siege Not a War Crime - Dana Zimmerman (Ynet News)
See Also: Dutch Foreign Minister: Israel Unfairly Singled Out for Criticism by UN - Cnaan Liphshiz (Ha'aretz)
See Also: Israeli Mission in NY Displays 4,200 Balloons, One for Each Kassam Rocket (Ha'aretz)
Prominent Arab Editor, PA Officials Blame Hamas for Gaza Crisis - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Abdel Rahman Rashed, a Saudi national serving as general manager of the pan-Arab Al-Arabiya news channel, said Hamas was responsible for the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. Writing in the London-based daily Asharq Alawsat, Rashed questioned the wisdom of firing rockets and mortars at Israel which, he said, was only increasing the suffering of the Palestinians.
PA officials in Ramallah have also blamed Hamas for the crisis in Gaza. PA Information Minister Riad al-Malki said the latest crisis was the result of Hamas' "insistence on creating an Islamic republic in Gaza." A top PA official in Ramallah accused Hamas of ordering bakery owners to keep their businesses closed for the second day running to create a humanitarian crisis. "Hamas is preventing people from buying bread," he said. "They want to deepen the crisis so as to serve their own interests." The official said that, contrary to Hamas' claims, there is enough fuel and flour to keep the bakeries in Gaza operating for another two months. "Hamas members have stolen most of the fuel in Gaza to fill their vehicles," he said.
Breach in Gaza: Hamas Blockades the Peace Process - Editorial (Washington Post)
Hamas provided a dramatic illustration of its ability to disrupt any movement toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians, as tens of thousands of residents of the Gaza Strip surged across the border into Egypt. President Hosni Mubarak announced that Gazans would be allowed to shop in Egypt because they "are starving due to the Israeli siege." In fact, as Mr. Mubarak well knows, no one is starving in Gaza.
The First "Core Issue": Incitement - Elihu Richter (Jerusalem Post)
Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote that it was words, not machinery, that produced Auschwitz. Incitement and hate language are early warning signs of genocidal intent by their perpetrators. If the rocks, daggers, guns, suicide bombs, Kassams and long-range missiles are the hardware of today's terror threats to Israel, it is the incitement that is the software.
See Also: Hamas Leader: Struggle Will Continue "Until Liberation of All of Palestine" (UPI)
Open Border with Egypt Allows Free Flow of Terrorists and Weapons into Gaza (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
The uncontrolled movement of crowds of Gazans in and out of Egypt means that Hamas can now smuggle terrorist operatives and weapons into Gaza with almost no interference.
Hamas' goal is to force the Egyptians to renege on its participation in the Crossings Agreement of August 2005.
Egypt Closes Suez Canal Bridge to Keep Gazans from Cairo (Maan News-PA)
Egyptian authorities closed the As-Salam Bridge over the Suez Canal to stop tens of thousands of Gaza Strip residents from going on to Cairo after they crossed the Sinai Peninsula.
Iran Leader Under Fire for Gas Shortages - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP)
Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei Monday reversed a decision by President Ahmadinejad and ordered him to implement a law supplying natural gas to remote villages amid rising dissatisfaction with the president's performance. Ahmadinejad's popularity has plummeted amid rising food prices and deaths due to gas cuts during a particularly harsh winter. Both reformists and conservatives are increasingly asking why Iranians are dying from the cold while sitting on massive gas fields.
Radical Left Challenging Authority in Iran - Nazila Fathi (New York Times)
In early December at Tehran University, 500 Marxist students held aloft portraits of Che Guevara to protest President Ahmadinejad's policies. Political protest has been harshly suppressed under the current Iranian government, but the radical left has been permitted relative freedom. Analysts say this may be because, like the government, it rejects the liberal reform movement and attacks the West.
The Source of Instability
Iranian Opposition Delayed Indian Launch of Israeli Satellite - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
Israel's TecSar satellite, launched on Monday from India, was supposed to be launched in September but was delayed for months by Iranian pressure on the Indian government applied through Indian opposition parties, particularly the Muslim and Communist political factions.
A Message for Tehran - Editorial (Boston Globe)
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with Germany, agreed this week on a third, relatively mild round of sanctions on Iran if it goes on refusing to suspend its enrichment of uranium. China and Russia, major commercial partners of Iran, would sign on only for vigilant monitoring of Iranian financial and military institutions, not for the tough financial penalties sought by the Bush administration.
Without this third sanctions resolution, Ahmadinejad could go on pretending that the rest of the world accepts his claim that Iran's nuclear file is closed. The compromise tells the people of Iran that the outside world does not accept Ahmadinejad's propaganda line; that having hidden suspicious activities in its nuclear program for 18 years, Iran now must show good faith by suspending uranium enrichment while negotiating an agreement that guarantees it a supply of non-weapons-grade uranium for power generation. Meanwhile, the new sanctions tell Iran's leaders that they are not fooling anybody in the international community.
France: NIE Makes it Difficult to Impose Tough Sanctions on Iran (AKI-Italy)
Russia: No Harsh Sanctions on Iran - Vladimir Isachenkov (AP)
See Also: Iran Gets Fourth Batch of Nuclear Fuel from Russia (Reuters)
UK: NIE Does Not Change Our Concerns about Iran - Sir Nigel Sheinwald (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Beirut Bomb Kills Ten
A powerful bomb targeting a security convoy in a Christian area of Beirut on Friday killed at least 10 people, including a senior official, Captain Wissam Eid of the Internal Security Forces. (AFP)
Unemployment Drops to 10-Year Low - Adrian Filut (Ynet News)
Israel's unemployment rate dropped to 6.6% last November - a 10-year low - down from 8.1% in November 2006, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported.
Israel...A Light Unto the Nations
Israel Is Set to Promote the Use of Electric Cars - Steven Erlanger (New York Times)
The Israeli government has announced its support for a broad effort to promote the use of electric cars, embracing a joint venture between an American-Israeli entrepreneur and Renault and its partner, Nissan Motor Company.
Gazan Hearts Saved in Israel as Conflict Rages
With violence along Israel's southern border escalating, a hospital in Israel offers a ray of hope for a handful of seriously ill Gazans. "This child would have died without surgery," said Dr. Alona Raucher-Sternfeld, looking at the small Palestinian baby, Jamal, and the echo machine checking his heart. Six-month-old Jamal came with his grandmother from Dir al-Balah in Gaza to get a check-up on Jan. 15 at Wolfson Medical Center near Tel Aviv. Jamal was operated on there when he was two months old, suffering from two heart defects.
The surgery, hospital stay and logistics in bringing him out of Gaza were coordinated and partially funded by Save a Child's Heart, an Israeli humanitarian organization, with some EU donations. In 2007, 128 Palestinian children from the West Bank and Gaza, all suffering from heart conditions, were treated by the program. Col. Nir Press, head of the Israeli coordination and liaison administration in Gaza, said the number of permits to Israel issued for medical reasons had risen 50% in 2007. (ReliefWeb-UN)
Hundreds of Israeli Bedouin Women Attend University - Jessica Shepherd (Guardian-UK)
The education of Israeli Bedouin girls is going through an unprecedented and dramatic transformation.
For the last decade, non-governmental organizations and Ben-Gurion University have coached bright girls in the skills they need to secure a university place and then offered them scholarships.
Shiri Maimon, the second place winner of Israel's first season of Kochav Nolad, Israel's version of American idol, has released her first single from her new album. Click here to view the music video for "Better to Forgive."
Meat Rolls with Pine Nuts
2 medium onions, peeled and grated
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 kilo lean lamb, minced very finely (can substitute beef)
salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp. pine nuts
1 1/2 Tbsp. each margarine and olive oil, melted together
chopped parsley and lemon slices for garnish
Preheat oven to 1800 Celsius.
In a mixing bowl combine the onions, egg and lamb. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Knead the mixture vigorously by hand or in a food processor, making sure that it is very soft and pasty.
Divide the mixture into six equal portions and flatten each on a board into a rectangular shape. About 1 cm. from the edges of the longer sides of each rectangle place a row of pine nuts and then roll each rectangle into a fat sausage shape, starting from the edge lined with pine nuts.
Arrange the six rolls in an ovenproof dish just large enough to hold all of them side by side. Brush the rolls with the melted margarine and oil mixture, sprinkle with about 3 Tbsp. of water and bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes or longer, depending on the thickness of the rolls. Transfer the meat rolls to a preheated serving dish, garnish with chopped parsley and lemon slices and serve hot, accompanied by rice or sauteed potatoes.
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Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest