European Jewish Congress
Israeli Press Review of 12/6/06
Israeli Press Review
Israeli Press Review of 12/6/06

Main headlines

{ barrage of rocket fire against Sderot }

- All the dailies: Sderot and other western Negev communities in Israel came under a barrage of rocket fire yesterday, producing a great deal of public consternation in its wake. One Israeli man sustained very serious injuries when a rocket slammed into a school courtyard yesterday morning. At the time of the attack the school was closed to pupils by the parents' association precisely in fear of such attacks. Residents of Sderot demonstrated opposite Defense Minister Peretz's home in the town, and received the sympathy of his wife, Ahlama Peretz.

- Maariv (Eli Moyal, mayor of Sderot) : « The residents of Sderot are undergoing difficult days and nights. For five straight years they have been facing an impossible situation, and I ask you, what has happened to the people of Israel, who keep silent. The residents of Sderot symbolize the might of the people of Israel. After five years of almost unceasing Kassam rocket fire, the resilience of the residents of Sderot speaks for itself. They and only they are the true heroes. As time passes, the absurdity of the situation increases and our frustration intensifies. The residents feel that no one cares, certainly not the prime minister. After Kassam rocket strikes they show up, fling promises about, and leave the residents in the same situation, for the fifth year in a row. So how can these people not lose their faith in the leadership?”

- All the dailies : Defense Minister Amir Peretz last night blocked a proposal by the Israel Defense Forces' top brass for a broad Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip in response to the Qassam rocket blitz against Sderot and its environs. The IDF is increasingly concerned that the Hamas intends to further step up the use of rockets against Israeli towns and supplement these with possible suicide bombing attacks inside the Green Line. During a meeting called by Peretz and senior IDF and Shin Bet officers, a proposal for a large-scale air campaign against Gaza was raised. Chief of Staff Dan Halutz recommended a serious escalation in response to the Qassam rocket attacks, which would include the targeting of those responsible for the launches, including senior Hamas operatives.

- Yedioth Ahronoth: “The Hamas rocket attack is just an initial response to the murder of the family,” said high-ranking Hamas officials yesterday. “There will be a far more harsh and painful response in the Israeli street.” The high-ranking Hamas officials said that Hamas was finished with the policy of self-restraint that it adopted in the framework of the tahdiya-the calm agreement-and that it would renew its terrorist operations inside Israel. IDF officials confirmed that the Hamas government has loosened the reins.

{Investigation into the beach explosion}

- All the dailies: According to the Israeli media, there are increasing signs that the explosion on the Gaza beach that killed the seven members of the Ghalia family was not caused by IDF artillery fire.

- Maariv : The farther along the internal IDF investigation moves into the circumstances surrounding the incident in which seven members of the Palestinian Ghalia family were killed, the more it is believed that the IDF was not responsible for the tragedy. Much of the evidence compiled until now indicates that the explosion on the beach was the result of an internal Palestinian incident: a bomb planted by Hamas or perhaps a stray Kassam rocket. The assessment that the disaster was the result of a Palestinian incident is bolstered by a series of facts: the fact that Hamas operatives were quick to arrive at the scene of the incident on the beach and collect the pieces of shrapnel from the explosion; the fact that there is intelligence that Hamas in fact concealed bombs in the beach area to attack IDF forces. In addition, there are photographs of the beach filmed by an IDF navy missile boat several minutes after the IDF fired its last artillery shell. In the photographs no sign can be seen of anything unusual in the area.

- Yedioth Ahronoth : Three days after the explosion on the Gaza beach that took the lives of seven members of a single Palestinian family, there is still no certainty as to what caused the catastrophe. The number of unresolved questions arising from the investigation that the IDF began in wake of the incident has only continued to rise. As of last night the IDF was still unable to draw any unequivocal conclusions. It is not clear whether the explosion was caused by a stray shell that was fired by artillery positioned to the north of the Gaza Strip or whether it was the result of an internal-Palestinian incident, such as a bomb or a land mine that was planted on the beach to stop IDF troops, or a Kassam rocket that accidentally landed on the beach.

IDF officials yesterday became increasingly convinced that the explosion on the beach was caused by a Palestinian bomb and not by an Israeli shell.


- Maariv (Amnon Dankner, editor in chief): “It is still not clear what caused the death of seven members of a Palestinian family on the Gaza beach. One possibility is that they touched a dud shell. Another possibility is that they set off a bomb that had been planted by the Palestinians themselves against invading Israeli troops from the sea. But even before the matter has been clarified, that well-known chorus broke out in an anguished outcry about Israel's deteriorating moral image because of acts such as this, which has not even been proven to have been committed by Israel. The alacrity with which they engage in self-flagellation and drag the army through the mud in a single voice, along with the hypocritical chorus of condemnation comprised of the Arabs and their automatic supporters, is offensive and abhorrent. Even if it is ultimately proven that what killed and injured on the Gaza beach was an Israeli shell that was fired, of course, without intention of harming innocent people, there still is no cause for the show of moral umbrage that in itself, the truth be told, is a morally flawed position. The State of Israel has every right in the world to defend vehemently its citizens from Kassam rocket fire.

That right must allow it to do what the IDF does: to shell open areas from which Palestinian cells fire Kassam rockets. The Palestinians have no one but themselves to complain to: we left the Gaza Strip down to the last centimeter in a rending and painful step, we devastated settlements and families and we are entitled to demand absolute quiet from the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. We are also entitled to respond with force to the threat to the lives of the residents of Israel and to try to free them of the nightmare of anxiety-ridden days and nights.”

Other headlines

- Yedioth Ahronoth: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert landed at Heathrow Airport Sunday ahead of his scheduled meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Olmert's UK visit comes on the heels of the Gaza beachfront explosion, apparently caused by IDF artillery fire. The British media and government, headed by British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, launched a scathing attack against Israel following the incident. British ambassador to Israel Simon McDonald, who is accompanying Olmert, said the prime minister's meetings are expected to focus on the realignment plan, adding that Blair believes Israel must first conduct negotiations with the Palestinians. During his meeting with Blair, scheduled for 3:30 at Downing 10 Street, Olmert will present Israel's version of the Gaza beach incident while stressing the fact that it remains unclear whether Israel is responsible. The British media are for the most part ignoring Olmert's visit due to the World Cup soccer tournament in Germany, and efforts by Israeli embassy personnel to set up a meeting between Olmert and the editor of The Guardian were futile.

- Yedioth-Maariv: The recent decision by the largest lecturers' union in Britain to encourage an academic boycott of Israel has expired, as was expected when it was implemented, said the union's general secretary this weekend. Although the controversial decision was made only May 29, it stopped being valid two weeks ago because the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) has merged with another British union, the Association of University Teachers.

Monday, June 12, 2006
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