Rassegna stampa internazionale del 26 – 28 agosto.

By Ibrahim Barzak
Associated Press
August 28, 2006

By Doug Struck
Washington Post
August 28, 2006

By Laura King
Los Angeles Times
August 27, 2006

By Sana Abdallah
United Press International
August 27, 2006

By Brian Harris
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
August 27, 2006

By James Carroll
Boston Globe, Opinion
August 28, 2006

Rory McCarthy
Guardian (UK)
August 26, 2006

By Yitzhak Laor
London Review of Books (UK)
August 17, 2006 Issue

Haaretz (Israel)
August 28, 2006

By Akiva Eldar
Haaretz, Opinion (Israel)
August 28, 2006

By Danny Rubinstein
Haaretz, Opinion (Israel)
August 28, 2006

Daily Star (Lebanon)
August 28, 2006

By Jeffrey Sachs
Jordan Times, Opinion (Jordan)
August 28, 2006


By Ibrahim Barzak
Associated Press
August 28, 2006

Gaza Cty, Gaza Strip — The U.S. is proposing deploying international observers
at the main cargo crossing between Israel and Gaza to prevent repeated security
closures of Gaza’s economic lifeline, a Palestinian negotiator said Monday.

The Palestinians support the idea, and Israel is studying it, officials said.

The Karni crossing has been closed by Israel for long stretches this year
following security alerts and attacks by Palestinian militants. Virtually all
of Gaza’s imports and exports go through Karni.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the proposal to deploy international
observers on the Palestinian side of the crossing came from Maj. Gen. Keith
Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator in the West Bank and Gaza. The plan also
calls for the training of Palestinian security officials and building a new
terminal at Karni, Erekat said.

The Israeli daily Haaretz said 90 international observers would be deployed on
the Palestinian side of Karni. The U.S. Embassy declined immediate comment.

Erekat said the proposal has been approved by Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas and now awaits Israeli approval. Israeli officials said they were
studying the idea.

Also Monday, four Palestinians were killed near Gaza City. Palestinian security
officials said the four were manning roadblocks in the area when they were hit
by an Israeli missile fired from the air. The Israeli military said Israeli
soldiers operating in the area killed three Palestinians in a firefight, but
did not know of a fourth man killed.

Two of the dead were from Hamas and two from the presidential guards linked to
President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement, Palestinian security officials said.

In southern Gaza, Hamas gunmen shot a motorist who refused to stop at a
roadblock, witnesses said. The gunmen said they came under fire from the
approaching car and returned fire. The identity of the dead man was not
immediately known.

However, there have been growing tensions between Hamas and Abbas’ rival Fatah
movement in recent months, with gunmen from both groups often engaging in
street clashes.

The growing chaos and lawlessness in Gaza prompted an unusually frank comment
by the spokesman of the Hamas government, Ghazi Hamad, who wrote that the
Palestinians have bungled the aftermath of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and
should stop blaming Israel for all their woes.

The article, a rare case of self-criticism, was published in Palestinian
newspapers Monday. Hamad said it expressed his personal opinion and did not
represent the position of the government.

Hamad urged Palestinians to look beyond the conflict with Israel in searching
for the causes of internal violence and lawlessness sweeping through the Gaza

"I am not interested in discussing the ugliness and brutality of the occupation
because it is not a secret. Instead, I prefer self-criticism and
self-evaluation," Hamad wrote.

Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza last year, after 38 years of occupation, had
raised hopes the Palestinians would rebuild the impoverished coastal strip as
the first step toward gaining full independence in Gaza and the West Bank.

However, rival Palestinian factions have been locked in a violent power
struggle, and fighting with Israel has continued.

"Our extreme joy at their departure made us forget the most important question:
What is our next step?" Hamad wrote. "We heard that a promising future was
waiting for us and for Gaza — and so we were optimistic that the blood of our
martyrs and injured and the suffering of the entire country hadn’t been in

By Doug Struck
Washington Post
August 28, 2006

Gaza City — As the sun beat down on the city’s central market, Khitam
Shahleen, 37, glumly picked through a pile of cheap pencil sharpeners,
searching for something — anything — she could afford to buy her two sons for
the start of the new school year.

"We don’t have money," Shahleen said, eyes downcast beneath her head scarf. Her
husband, who works as a laborer in Israel, has been trapped inside the Gaza
Strip by a blockade. "We are imprisoned here," she said.

The war in southern Lebanon has overshadowed Israel’s second front, a military
and economic siege of the Gaza Strip that is deepening the poverty and
desperation in this dense area of 1.4 million people.

More than 200 Palestinians, at least 44 of them children, have been killed in
the past 8 1/2 weeks. Three Israeli soldiers have been killed. Huge Israeli
bulldozers and "pinpoint" missiles have razed at least 40 houses and dozens of
other buildings, according to the army, leaving many families homeless.

Daily skirmishes regularly result in new casualties. The Israelis attack with
tanks, F-16 jets and artillery. [Early Monday, an Israeli airstrike killed four
members of the Hamas-led security force in the Gaza Strip, the Reuters news
agency reported, citing medics and witnesses. An Israeli army spokeswoman
confirmed the report, but said two of the men were apparently killed by gunfire
from ground troops.] The Palestinians launch an average of about six crude
Qassam rockets a week into Israel, causing minimal damage, no fatalities and
about a dozen injuries since June 28, an army spokesman said.

"Any Qassam fired toward Israel is one too many," said Maj. Tal Lev-Ram, a
spokesman for the Israeli army’s Southern Command. "Every act of terrorism
against Israel will be dealt with severely from our side."

After Israel completed its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza last September,
ending a 38-year presence, Palestinians expected an explosion of commerce and
opportunity in this sandy strip, which is about twice the size of Washington
with almost three times the population.

But after the election in January of a parliament dominated by Hamas, the
radical Islamic movement that refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist,
international donors led by the United States cut off aid to the Palestinian
Authority. Israel stopped transferring the tax revenue it collects for the
Palestinians, and the Palestinian Authority’s monthly income dropped from $150
million to $20 million or less, according to the United Nations.

Since then, the Gaza Strip’s economy has been strangled. The largest employer,
the Palestinian Authority, has been unable to pay more than token salaries to
its 160,000 employees — teachers, clerks, health care workers, police officers
— in six months.

Israel has enforced a blockade, allowing almost no goods to leave Gaza and only
limited food supplies to enter. Most industry has shut down. Electricity and
water services have been intermittent since Israel bombed the main power
station here.

"Gaza is heading down the tubes," said John Ging, director of operations for
the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA. "We are now down to a
subsistence existence. It’s down to getting containers of food into here."

In the market in Gaza City, Mohammed Abu Aqleen, 37, held his head morosely
Saturday, leaning on a pile of blue jeans. "Nobody has any money. Nobody buys,"
he said, adding that he is lucky to make $7 a day.

"Under this siege, I feel like I am in a big prison," he said. "No one can
leave. The country is closed now. We are under the control of someone else. You
can’t even go to the edge of your country safely."

On June 25, Palestinian gunmen burrowed under a fence around the Gaza Strip and
attacked an Israeli outpost, killing two soldiers and capturing Cpl. Gilad
Shalit, 19. Israel responded with force. Seventeen days later, Hezbollah
guerrillas from southern Lebanon seized two more Israeli soldiers, igniting
warfare there. The fighting in Lebanon largely ended with a cease-fire on Aug.
14, but the Gaza conflict continues.

Israeli artillery units are poised outside the borders of the Gaza Strip.
Fighter jets no longer make low-altitude sonic boom runs to keep Gazans
unnerved at night but still overfly the strip and launch missiles toward it.
Heavily armored patrols and tanks periodically pierce the warrens of Gaza City
and the refugee camps, drawing gunfire and rocks in response.

"We are determined to continue the military operations against the terrorist
organizations in order to create the conditions necessary for the safe
homecoming" of Shalit, Lev-Ram said.

Rumors persist of negotiations to exchange Shalit for some of the estimated
10,000 Palestinians being held prisoner by Israel, but no deal has been struck.

"The siege is continuing for six months, and people are suffering, but no one
talks of giving up," said Sami Abu Zohri, a Hamas representative in Gaza. "We
have no other options but to wait until the siege is over. Gaza lives in the
darkness like something in ancient times."

Zohri said the rocket attacks into Israeli territory were "efforts to protect
ourselves with very limited armaments." Israel’s response to the corporal’s
capture, he contended, was disproportionate.

"If one Israeli is wounded, it’s a big deal," he said. "But they have
eradicated whole families in Gaza."

Hamas and its chief rival, Fatah, have discussed forming a joint government in
hopes of restarting the flow of aid from international donors. So far, Hamas
has balked at giving up the leading role it won in the election.

"Hamas has led us into a dark tunnel. The way out is not clear," said Maher
Megdad, a Fatah spokesman here. But he, too, expressed irritation with the
international pressure to undercut the elected government.

"The international community does not have the right to punish Palestinians for
exercising democracy, even if the result is Hamas," he said. "While Israel
pressures us, the whole world stands by."

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said 202
Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched its "Operation Summer Rain"
after Shalit’s abduction. The Palestinian Health Ministry puts the figure at

Capt. Noa Meir, an Israeli military spokeswoman, said: "It’s a very complicated
combat area. Just like in Lebanon, they are using civilians as human shields.
We do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties."

The deteriorating situation has forced many foreigners to leave. UNRWA moved
its headquarters from Gaza to Jerusalem in October, and most of its 78
international staff members left with it. Other aid agencies have done the
same. A spate of kidnappings, including the 13-day captivity of two Fox News
journalists released Sunday, has reduced the numbers of aid workers and foreign
reporters here. An Israeli missile attack Sunday on a truck with "TV" marked in
large black letters seriously wounded two Reuters journalists.

"It’s really depressing. I don’t know how people are managing," said Tom
Garofalo, the country director for Catholic Relief Services.

Gaza has been under pressure at least since the 1967 war, when the Israeli army
seized the area from Egypt. But the siege is taking its toll, even on a
populace accustomed to isolation, Garofalo said.

"There’s more and more internal conflicts between families, more and more basic
crime," he said. "The Palestinian Authority is trying to maintain order. But
around the edges, things crumble. Desperation drives people to do things they
wouldn’t normally do. There is less respect for security."

Israeli fighter bombers made a pinpoint attack June 28 on Gaza’s power plant, a
modern 140-megawatt station built with international aid in 2001 that provided
about half the power for the Gaza Strip. Now, power bought from Israel provides
service for only about six to eight hours daily for most residents. Water
service, dependent on electric pumps, is also sporadic.

UNRWA and the U.N. World Food Program are providing food to more than 1 million
Palestinians. Aid agencies have created short make-work programs, but thousands
of people apply for each job. The agencies have given out cash and fuel to
needy families.

"People are not starving or emaciated. But that’s not what it’s about," said
Ging, the UNWRA director of operations. "It’s about having 1.4 million people
who have no job, no money, no prospects and an acute sense of imprisonment. You
have children growing up in a violent and uncivilized society, without the
things most countries would take for granted as a normal existence."

At the Gaza market, Mohammed Abdul Rahman, 36, picked carefully through the
stalls looking for school supplies for his four children. A government worker,
he has not been paid since March, he said. He borrowed money from a bank, but
now that is due.

"It’s a very, very bad situation," he said. "As a father, it’s hard to tell my
kids that I can’t get what they need. The pressure at home is rising. Everyone
feels it. I think there will be a massive strike, and the whole thing will
explode. We can’t keep living like this."

By Laura King
Los Angeles Times
August 27, 2006

Jerusalem — Israel’s much-vaunted military, which emerged bruised and bloodied
from its 34-day conflict with the guerrillas of Hezbollah, is in the midst of
an intensive reappraisal of the battlefield tactics, intelligence capability
and weaponry it brought to bear in Lebanon.

Yet a war whose outcome veered closer to a loss than almost any in Israel’s
history is unlikely to result in fundamental changes in Israeli military
doctrine, analysts and military officials say.

That is in part because Israel regards Hezbollah, a disciplined and highly
motivated Islamist militia equipped with state-of-the-art weapons, as unique
among its many enemies in the region, and strongly believes that its army
remains capable of inflicting decisive defeat on any conventional force it
might confront.

Most Israeli military strategists also firmly believe they could have won the
conflict with Hezbollah had they not been hobbled by the missteps of a domestic
political leadership untested by battle — a view that is likely to be aired
repeatedly during what may be months of public inquiries into how the conflict
was conducted.

At the same time, however, Israel is weighing the long-term implications of the
militia’s ability to inflict pain not only on Israel’s military, but civilians.
Israel’s conclusions could have far-reaching effect on its dealings with the
Palestinians, in particular with militant groups such as Hamas, the political
ruling power in the Palestinian territories.

"This war will definitely change Israeli thinking on a military level, but not
necessarily in ways that might be expected," said Eran Lerman, an Israeli
analyst and former senior military intelligence official. "In terms of tactics,
yes. In terms of strategy, probably not."

For decades, Israel’s deterrent capability, the notion that any attack would be
met with overwhelming force, has remained a cornerstone of the country’s
strategic thinking.

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, once remarked that Israel
could win 50 wars against its Arab enemies but had only to lose one in order to
be destroyed. In a country that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust, such a
worldview has always resonated powerfully.

This conflict, more than any other in recent years, laid bare Israel’s fears
for its existence, which are never far below the surface.

Although the level of casualties and property damage in Israel paled in
comparison with that inflicted across Lebanon, most Israelis were astounded
that their army was unable to quell Hezbollah’s monthlong rain of Katyusha
rocket fire. It was the most sustained external assault on the country’s cities
since the war that broke out upon Israel’s declaration of statehood in 1948.

"Even at the very height of the intifada, Israel did not believe it would be
destroyed by Palestinian suicide bombings," ex-Defense Minister Moshe Arens
said. "People did not think that we would be defeated by Katyushas this time,
either, but rather by what might come after."

Hezbollah’s ability to hold its own against the Israeli army, even for a
limited time, has raised the specter of other enemies being emboldened to
strike, perhaps together. But Syria, one of Hezbollah’s chief backers, stayed
on the sidelines of this conflict — fully aware, analysts said, that the
Israeli military was capable of destroying not only its army, but its
infrastructure and institutions of statehood.

Many Israeli analysts and commanders say the military’s overall performance was
far from the stinging defeat that Hezbollah claims to have inflicted. But they
generally acknowledge that Israel’s poor planning, carelessness and hubris
played a part in high-profile failures at crucial moments, from the earliest
days of fighting to the final hours.

A prime example of that came two days after the conflict erupted, when an
Israeli missile ship enforcing a blockade of the Lebanese coast was hit by an
Iranian-made C-802 radar-guided missile. Israeli intelligence had apparently
been unaware that Hezbollah possessed such weapons — and as a result, the
Israeli Saar-class vessel had failed to activate a sophisticated antimissile
defense system.

Even after the cease-fire took hold Aug. 14, smaller-scale blunders continued
to have deadly consequences for Israeli troops. Last week, an Israeli soldier
was killed when his tank strayed into an Israeli-laid minefield dating to the
previous Lebanon conflict, despite the fact that it was clearly marked on maps.

During the recent fighting, Israel relied heavily on its massive Merkava battle
tanks, which were designed to provide the best possible protection for the
crews inside. But Hezbollah’s advanced antitank weapons, thought by Israeli
intelligence to have been the Russian-made Kornet-E and Metis-M missiles,
readily penetrated the tanks’ armor. Four Merkavas were destroyed and dozens

Hezbollah antitank missiles were also used, repeatedly and to lethal effect,
against small squads of Israelis who took temporary shelter in buildings, and
whose presence was almost immediately pinpointed by the guerrillas’
surveillance. In all, antitank weapons, some of which could be fired from more
than a mile away, are believed to have accounted for nearly a quarter of
Israel’s 120 combat fatalities.

Israel says more than 500 Hezbollah fighters were killed in the conflict. The
militia contends that no more than several dozen of its members were lost.

Much has been made of Israel’s overreliance on airstrikes to destroy
Hezbollah’s rocket-firing ability. The army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan
Halutz, a former air force commander, was a chief proponent of the fierce air
assault that preceded Israel’s last-minute, large-scale ground push into
southern Lebanon.

Halutz, whose job is now in jeopardy, has acknowledged "shortcomings" in the
way the offensive was carried out.

"There is recognition now, pretty much across the board, that ‘standoff’
weapons cannot address certain kinds of threats, such as well-hidden rocket
caches," said Reuven Pedatzur, a Tel Aviv University analyst.

Despite the Israeli public perception of the war as an intelligence failure,
some analysts said Israel in fact had assembled a trove of information about
Hezbollah’s missile arsenal and command structure.

The problem, said one Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity, was
that some information was considered so sensitive it was not always shared
among intelligence branches, and not enough of it filtered down to the field

The intelligence problem compounded difficulties that would have been
formidable for any conventional army facing a far more agile guerrilla force on
its home turf, Israeli commanders said. "We found ourselves fighting a battle
that Hezbollah was running, not us," paratrooper reserve Col. Amnon Nachmias

Despite striking parallels, some analysts reject too close a comparison between
Israel’s battle with Hezbollah and U.S. encounters with insurgents in Iraq.

"While there may be some particular aspects that are similar — for example, the
use of explosive devices against armored units — the situations are very
different overall," said Uri Bar-Joseph, a University of Haifa analyst
specializing in nonconventional military doctrine. "Hezbollah is a very unusual
organization — it possesses weapons superior to those of many states, and for a
long period had been acting almost as a state."

Israel’s under-training and under-equipping of its reserve forces is generally
viewed as a major lapse on the part of military planners. With reservists
returning from the battle mounting a campaign of highly vocal protests, some
analysts believe Israel may revert to maintaining a reserve that is smaller but
whose abilities more closely track the regular army’s.

That would be expensive. Pedatzur of Tel Aviv University predicted that Israel
would begin allocating even more of its national budget to military spending,
which is already about a tenth of the gross domestic product, a much higher
share than in most Western democracies.

Some analysts said the conflict with Hezbollah showed that too many of Israel’s
younger field commanders had experience only in fighting Palestinian militants
in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, who lack Hezbollah’s discipline,
organizational strength and formidable arsenal.

"When you fight a weak enemy, you become a weak army," said Lerman, the former
senior military intelligence official.

He and others predicted that one spillover effect of Israel’s war with
Hezbollah could be a crackdown on armed groups in the Palestinian territories,
because of the perception that Hezbollah was allowed to operate undisturbed as
it made careful preparations for battle with Israel.

Meanwhile, there is a widespread expectation in the military establishment of a
return engagement with Hezbollah.

"There is no doubt that the possibility of another war has been increased
because of the perception of how this one went," said Arens, the former defense
minister. "But I think we have the capability to win, if mistakes are not

By Sana Abdallah
United Press International
August 27, 2006

The emergence of Iran’s power in the region has trapped most Arab regimes
between a rock and a hard place as they seek to avoid choosing between two
evils: Israel and Iran.

So far, pro-Western Arab governments have said little about Tehran’s nuclear
program as they watch its political influence spreading across the region.
After all, Iran is a Muslim country seeking to end Israel’s technological
monopoly in the region and standing up to Western pressure — a defiance
lacking in Arab countries since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq toppled Saddam
Hussein’s regime in April 2003.

Between the Jewish state’s nuclear technology, and reports of its owning
hundreds of atomic warheads, and Persian Iran’s own nuclear technological
progress that might build atomic weapons, Arab countries find themselves
threatened from two sides.

Although they will not say it publicly, it’s not Israel’s reported nuclear and
conventional arsenal that scares these Arab governments, most of which have
shown desire for peace with Israel, but Iran’s military and political

Independent Arab analysts say Arab governments, none of which have been freely
elected, fear Tehran because it threatens their own regimes’ stability more
than Israel does, although they have maintained cordial relations with Iran.

Middle East pundits warn against betting on Iran’s cultural and religious
identity as a deterrent from succeeding in winning sympathy from the
populations in the overwhelming Sunni Arab region.

They say that being non-Arab and Shiite does not necessarily mean Iran will not
find support from the Arab masses, if only for defying the West in advancing
its nuclear technology, supporting anti-Israeli resistance movements in Lebanon
and Palestine and creating a balance of power with Israel.

Raising Iran’s popularity among the Arab people more recently were the
Iranian-supplied rockets that Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah guerillas fired
persistently on northern Israel and the weapons that resisted Israeli
incursions into southern Lebanon during the July 12-Aug. 14 war.

It is also probably Iranian cash that Hezbollah is disbursing to compensate
thousands of Lebanese families who lost their homes in the Israeli bombardment
of southern Lebanese towns and Beirut’s southern suburbs.

In addition, Iran is said to be helping the elected Islamic Hamas government in
the Palestinian territories when the West imposed economic sanctions on the
Palestinian Authority and the Arab countries virtually abandoned the

Despite the historical distrust between Arabs and Persians, analysts say
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s defiant and fiery speeches against
Israel and U.S. foreign policy, widely seen as favorable for Israel and against
Arabs and Muslims, are finding their way into the hearts of the Arab masses as
they find common political, rather than ideological, positions.

According to a recent report by London’s Royal Institute of International
Affairs, an independent think-tank, Ahmedinejad’s rhetoric and defiance of the
United States "have not helped soothe Arab leaders’ concerns over his
particular brand of revolutionary revanchism, which they fear may infect their
own populations, with serious consequences for the domestic stability of the
pro-Western Gulf Arab states." It added that the Iranian leader’s statements
have made him an "increasingly popular symbol of resistance in the Arab

Another worrying factor of Iran’s growing power in the Arab world, for the
Western-allied regimes, is Tehran’s clear influence in Iraq, where the
Iranian-allied Shiite majority is now at the helm of power that ironically
emerged under U.S. occupation.

The leaders of Jordan and Egypt, the only two Arab countries that signed peace
treaties with Israel, and Saudi Arabia have publicly warned against a rising
Shiite power with a "Shiite crescent" extending from Iran and Iraq through
Syria and Lebanon on the Mediterranean.

Fear of an Iranian-brand Islamic revolution spreading across the region, where
there are substantial Shiite minorities in the Arab Gulf states, started with
Iran’s own revolution that ousted the Shah in 1979. That was one of the reasons
why the Arab countries supported Iraq during the bloody 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

With Iran’s significant influence in today’s Iraq, its rising support in the
Arab street in the aftermath of the Israeli war on Hezbollah and now Iran’s
nuclear program, Arab leaders are exercising more caution in dealing with

Careful not to appear as if favoring Israel’s nuclear capabilities over Iran’s,
Western-allied Arab governments have maintained that the Islamic Republic has
the right to nuclear technology so long as it’s peaceful — which Iran
maintains — and insist the real threat to the Arabs is Israel’s nuclear
capabilities and its refusal to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Analysts say the Arabs have no other choice but to adopt such a neutral
position as they watch Iran’s nuclear crisis with the United States and the
West unfold.

They merely hope that whatever happens will not entail a military confrontation
that would find the Arab countries in the midst of a possibly devastating war
threatening the very existence of the Arab order.

By Brian Harris Jewish
Telegraphic Agency
August 27, 2006

San Jose, Costa Rica — El Salvador will move its embassy in Israel to Tel Aviv,
a diplomatic setback that leaves Israel’s capital without any embassies.

In a written statement late last Friday, El Salvador’s government said the move
was aimed at helping the Middle East peace process. The statement went on to
offer El Salvadoran “recognition of the right of a Palestinian state to exist.”
The move comes 10 days after Costa Rica, the only other country that kept an
embassy in Jerusalem, announced it was moving it to Tel Aviv. Costa Rican
President Oscar Arias said the move was an attempt to “rectify a historic
error.” Both countries had maintained embassies in the western sector of
Jerusalem since the early 1980s.

El Salvador’s president, Antonio “Tony” Saca, is of Palestinian descent. His
right-wing ARENA party moved the embassy to Jerusalem in 1984, after Israel
supported the country’s armed forces despite international scorn for El
Salvador’s poor human rights record during a bloody civil war with the leftist
FMLN guerrillas, but Saca had always been evasive on the embassy issue.

In 2004, shortly before his election, Saca was a major contributor to
construction of a “Palestine Plaza” in San Salvador. The plaza, which honors
the “victims” of Israeli independence in 1948 and features a map of
pre-partition Palestine, lists Saca’s name on a plaque identifying major

The FMLN, now the country’s largest opposition party, long has had ties to the
PLO and opposed the embassy’s Jerusalem location. Last year, the
FMLN-controlled municipality of San Salvador built a Yasser Arafat Park along
the city’s Jerusalem Avenue, though Saca publicly distanced himself from the

Palestinian representatives have visited El Salvador in recent years, though
the Foreign Ministry has refused to reveal if they used their
Palestinian-issued diplomatic passports. Nicaragua is the only Central American
country to officially recognize Palestine, though El Salvadoran officials have
hinted since Saca took office that diplomatic recognition could be forthcoming.

Saca’s move came as no surprise to Israeli officials in the region. It long had
been expected that if Arias, the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize winner, moved Costa
Rica’s embassy — as he promised early in his presidential campaign — Saca would
follow suit.

Arias, who took office in May after a narrow electoral victory, announced the
embassy relocation on Aug. 16 at a ceremony marking his first 100 days in

Arias’ announcement upset Costa Rica’s 4,000-member Jewish community,
particularly as it came in the first hours after Israel’s cease-fire with
Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

El Salvador’s 300-member mainly Conservative Jewish community generally has
supported ARENA, which traditionally has relied on coffee and industrial
oligarchies for leadership.

There are an estimated 60,000 people of Palestinian descent, mainly Christian,
in El Salvador. Saca, the grandson of immigrants, has drawn on that community
for his inner political circle, with ARENA’s traditional powers given a lesser

Saca made no public comments on the decision, which was announced by the
Foreign Ministry while Saca was en route to Florida to visit with El Salvadoran
immigrants there.

By James Carroll
Boston Globe, Opinion
August 28, 2006

The Israeli war war against Hezbollah was reckoned a failure as soon as the
fighting stopped, and so is the American war against Iraq, though the fighting
continues. Even responsible parties understand this now. “Pentagon studying
its war errors," read one headline not long ago. A second headline on the same
front page read, “In Israel, critics condemn strategy behind war." In each
case, the war has created conditions that threaten even more grievous
catastrophe to follow. Hezbollah is intact, and the Lebanese people, having
been so savagely bombed by Israeli warplanes, have reason to embrace it. Iran
and Syria are emboldened. The international peace keeping force is anemic. The
elimination of the Jewish state is on the agenda.

In Iraq, as brutal sectarian violence flares, the debate about whether and when
to “withdraw" the American forces is being superseded by an urgent worry about
how US soldiers can be evacuated from the crossfire? Iraq as a national entity
has already been destroyed. The question now is what comes of its ruin? A
regional war over oil? A world center of terrorism? A new tyrant to restore

Neither the United States nor Israel is in control of what comes next, but
whether these disastrous scenarios are played out in the future depends on how
American and Israeli failures of the recent past are understood. If the
Pentagon focuses on tactical mistakes, like troop levels or intelligence
errors, the larger question will be not be asked. Likewise with Israel. The
decision to wage an air war against Lebanese infrastructure clearly backfired,
and was taken as if the futility of such a strategy, not to mention the
inhumanity of it, had not been repeatedly demonstrated in past wars. But was
that the first and most basic mistake?

It remains true that the path of negotiations with rejectionist Hezbollah, and
Hamas for that matter, was not open to Israel during the provocations of July.
It is also the case that Israel was confronted with a sharp new level of
irrational antagonism tied to the broader inflaming of the region by America’s
war in Iraq. The very existence of the Jewish state had, startlingly, come to
be at issue again. Thus, even the peace movement in Israel saw the point of
firmness, especially once missiles began to fall in the north. But firmness can
be combined with restraint, and force can be exercised judiciously. Many of
those who love Israel longed for such responses.

Israeli leaders, acting more out of anger than wisdom, demonstrated in their
move to an overwhelming military assault against targets across Lebanon that
they had learned nothing from the American misadventure in Iraq. The fact that
Israel, unlike Hezbollah, was not aiming to kill civilians ceased to matter as
civilian casualties mounted. This grievous moral wound, certain to cause Israel
much trouble, was self-inflicted. Israel responded to Hezbollah’s cynical
strategy of hiding its missile batteries among the innocents exactly as
Hezbollah wished, and even then Israel was unable to stop the missiles from
flying. The result is that Israel is more vulnerable than ever, especially now
that the myth of its invincibility has been punctured.

Both the United States and Israel have been at the mercy of the same illusion,
that the hammer of military force is the tool to use against every threat. To
oppose the rush to war is not to deny that threats are real, but only to insist
that war is as likely to exacerbate the threat as to eliminate it. In the age
of weapons of mass destruction, especially, the old dichotomy between
“realists" and “idealists" is a false one. Now the argument against war
starts not from a moralizing pacifism, but from a profoundly realistic
assessment of what actually happens when violence takes over. When mass
destruction and pain are inflicted to no purpose, the old lesson of ethics
reverses itself: If the ends don’t justify the means, nothing does.

This is the kind of reckoning that should be going on in America and Israel
today. The failures are not of tactics or strategy, but of insight and history.
Across the last 60 years, wars have been waged to no purpose. Millions of
civilians have been killed. Enemies have been empowered, not defeated. That
history is denied with every national budget drawn to give primacy to weapons,
at the expense of humane investments that attack structures of violence at the
source. The only justification for these terrible wars today will be if they
lead to new thinking tomorrow.

Rory McCarthy
Guardian (UK)
August 26, 2006

Ramallah – On the back wall of Mohammad Sharak’s taxi dispatch office, next to
the pictures of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and below gilded
Qur’anic verses, are two new posters: portraits of Hassan Nasrallah, the
Hizbullah leader.

Since war erupted between Israel and the Lebanese militia, Hizbullah has
emerged as a new hero on Palestinian streets. Shops and cafes in Ramallah and
other towns are sporting Hizbullah posters. Stalls are selling Hizbullah’s
yellow flag, alongside the Lebanese flag. In the eyes of many Palestinians,
Hizbullah struck a rare blow against the Israeli military, despite the huge
cost in civilian casualties and damage in Lebanon.

"The beauty of this war was that a force of just 6,000 or so with light weapons
superseded an organised army that all the Arab countries are scared of," said
Mr Sharak, 35. "I was surprised by Hizbullah’s capabilities."

"The point about Nasrallah," interrupted another employee, Saeed Nimur, 58, "is
that he says something and then does it. And that is very unusual among leaders
in the Arab world. Hizbullah doesn’t just threaten, it achieves."

Mr Sharak, who sipped sage tea as he spoke, has little but hostility for Israel
– he served eight years in an Israeli jail after being convicted of attacking
West Bank settlers. But he hopes the war might increase the chance of
negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians. "Now Israel has a fear of
these kind of military movements and they will find another path rather than
war," he said.

While most people on both sides of the Israeli conflict acknowledge Hizbullah
has strengthened its position in the Arab world, they argue about its
implications for the Palestinians. Many fear negotiations are at a stalemate
and that Hizbullah’s display of military might will only encourage more
violence from Palestinian militants.

In a small upstairs office, not far from the taxi dispatch firm, is the Minbar
al-Islah, or the Platform of Reform, a Hamas newspaper. Sari Orabi, 26 and just
six months out of an Israeli jail, is the deputy editor. "What happened in
Lebanon increased the belief of people living in the area that resistance is
the only language that the occupation understands," he said.

He sought to distinguish Hizbullah from the Palestinian militant movements,
saying the group was a "national Lebanese faction" that fought not for
Palestinians but for "pure Lebanese goals". "Maybe they provide emotional and
political support for the Palestinian people but the military action carried
out by Hizbullah was for the sake of Lebanon and only Lebanon," he said.

He noted the differences between the two sides, pointing to what he said were
Hizbullah’s tactical advantages.

"We don’t enjoy support from outside the country like Hizbullah does," he said
in an apparent reference to Syrian and Iranian backing for the Lebanese
militia. "In fact our neighbours are tied to the Israelis through peace
treaties. Remember also we are under direct occupation by the Israelis, not
like Hizbullah."

But there were lessons too. "The first lesson is that we can see the belief of
the Palestinian people in resistance has been strengthened," he said.

His newspaper carries a front-page advertisement showing 31 senior Hamas
political leaders detained by Israel in recent weeks, among them cabinet
ministers and Aziz Dweik, speaker of the Palestinian parliament. "Release them
immediately," it says. The detentions, say analysts, are likely to add further
impetus to Hamas hardliners and weaken the hand of those like the Palestinian
prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, who argue in favour of a more political path.

"The way the war in Lebanon ended, coupled with the Israeli arrests of
relatively moderate members of the government, has played into the hands of the
more radical wing of Hamas that is based either outside Palestine or functions
outside the Palestinian Authority," Ghassan Khatib, a former Palestinian
cabinet minister, wrote in a recent analysis in the Bitter Lemons internet
journal. He said the war would "contribute further to the trend of
radicalisation evident in Palestine in the last five to six years".

For its part, the Israeli government still insists in public that the war
successfully proved the deterrent effect of its military and served as a
warning to others that any attack would be met with a swift and severe

But at the same time it has been struggling with a growing domestic backlash
against the handling of the conflict. Prime minister Ehud Olmert’s partial
withdrawal plan for the West Bank has had to be shelved. As yet there is no
alternative strategy, even though a newspaper poll on Friday showed 41% of
Israelis wanted a negotiated solution with the Palestinians.

At a cabinet meeting this week, Yuval Diskin, Israel’s security services chief,
is said to have warned that Palestinians might imitate Hizbullah’s tactics.
"The terror organisations are trying to draw conclusions," he was quoted as
saying in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. "They have understood the power of
the anti-tank weapons and guerrilla warfare, and the advantages of barricading
in underground bunkers."

On the outskirts of Ramallah, close to al-Amari refugee camp, a young fighter
from al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade spoke enviously of Hizbullah’s arsenal. "If the
same equipment were given to us the whole image of this region would change
dramatically," said the man, who gave his name only as Abu Rida, and who said
he had been in and out of Israeli jails since the age of 13. He is now 37. But,
he added: "Even to try and smuggle a bullet into Palestinian land is very
difficult for us to do."

Although there are many posters of Hassan Nasrallah in Ramallah, there are even
more of Ramzi Obaid, a West Bank commander of the al-Aqsa militants, which is
allied to the Fatah organisation. He was arrested by the Israelis this month.
Abu Rida said there was little inclination to seek a political solution now.
"The Israelis only understand the language of force. I think we’ll be fighting
them from here until judgment day."

By Yitzhak Laor
London Review of Books (UK)
August 17, 2006 Issue

As soon as the facts of the Bint Jbeil ambush, which ended with relatively high
Israeli casualties (eight soldiers died there), became public, the press and
television in Israel began marginalising any opinion that was critical of the
war. The media also fell back on the kitsch to which Israelis grow accustomed
from childhood: the most menacing army in the region is described here as if it
is David against an Arab Goliath. Yet the Jewish Goliath has sent Lebanon back
20 years, and Israelis themselves even further: we now appear to be a lynch-mob
culture, glued to our televisions, incited by a premier whose ‘leadership’ is
being launched and legitimised with rivers of fire and destruction on both
sides of the border. Mass psychology works best when you can pinpoint an
institution or a phenomenon with which large numbers of people identify.
Israelis identify with the IDF, and even after the deaths of many Lebanese
children in Qana, they think that stopping the war without scoring a definitive
victory would amount to defeat. This logic reveals our national psychosis, and
it derives from our over-identification with Israeli military thinking.

In the melodramatic barrage fired off by the press, the army is assigned the
dual role of hero and victim. And the enemy? In Hebrew broadcasts the
formulations are always the same: on the one hand ‘we’, ‘ours’, ‘us’; on the
other, Nasrallah and Hizbullah. There aren’t, it seems, any Lebanese in this
war. So who is dying under Israeli fire? Hizbullah. And if we ask about the
Lebanese? The answer is always that Israel has no quarrel with Lebanon. It’s
yet another illustration of our unilateralism, the thundering Israeli
battle-cry for years: no matter what happens around us, we have the power and
therefore we can enforce the logic. If only Israelis could see the damage
that’s been done by all these years of unilateral thinking. But we cannot,
because the army – which has always been the core of the state – determines the
shape of our lives and the nature of our memories, and wars like this one erase
everything we thought we knew, creating a new version of history with which we
can only concur. If the army wins, its success becomes part of ‘our heritage’.
Israelis have assimilated the logic and the language of the IDF – and in the
process, they have lost their memories. Is there a better way to understand why
we have never learned from history? We have never been a match for the army,
whose memory – the official Israeli memory – is hammered into place at the
centre of our culture by an intelligentsia in the service of the IDF and the

The IDF is the most powerful institution in Israeli society, and one which we
are discouraged from criticising. Few have studied the dominant role it plays
in the Israeli economy. Even while they are still serving, our generals become
friendly with the US companies that sell arms to Israel; they then retire,
loaded with money, and become corporate executives. The IDF is the biggest
customer for everything and anything in Israel. In addition, our high-tech
industries are staffed by a mixture of military and ex-military who work
closely with the Western military complex. The current war is the first to
become a branding opportunity for one of our largest mobile phone companies,
which is using it to run a huge promotional campaign. Israel’s second biggest
bank, Bank Leumi, used inserts in the three largest newspapers to distribute
bumper stickers saying: ‘Israel is powerful.’ The military and the universities
are intimately linked too, with joint research projects and an array of army

There is no institution in Israel that can approach the army’s ability to
disseminate images and news or to shape a national political class and an
academic elite or to produce memory, history, value, wealth, desire. This is
the way identification becomes entrenched: not through dictatorship or
draconian legislation, but by virtue of the fact that the country’s most
powerful institution gets its hands on every citizen at the age of 18. The
majority of Israelis identify with the army and the army reciprocates by
consolidating our identity, especially when it is – or we are – waging war.

The IDF didn’t play any role in either of the Gulf wars and may not play a part
in Bush’s pending war in Iran, but it is on permanent alert for the real war
that is always just round the corner. Meanwhile, it harasses Palestinians in
the West Bank and Gaza, to very destructive effect. (In July it killed 176
Palestinians, most of them from the same area in Gaza, in a ‘policing’
operation that included the destruction of houses and infrastructure.) They
shoot. They abduct. They use F-16s against refugee camps, tanks against shacks
and huts. For years they have operated in this way against gangs and groups of
armed youths and children, and they call it a war, a ‘just war’, vital for our
existence. The power of the army to produce meanings, values, desire is
perfectly illustrated by its handling of the Palestinians, but it would not be
possible without the support of the left in Israel.

The mainstream left has never seriously tried to oppose the military. The
notion that we had no alternative but to attack Lebanon and that we cannot stop
until we have finished the job: these are army-sponsored truths, decided by the
military and articulated by state intellectuals and commentators. So are most
other descriptions of the war, such as the Tel Aviv academic Yossef Gorni’s
statement in Haaretz, that ‘this is our second war of independence.’ The same
sort of nonsense was written by the same kind of people when the 2000 intifada
began. That was also a war about our right to exist, our ‘second 1948’. These
descriptions would not have stood a chance if Zionist left intellectuals –
solemn purveyors of the ‘morality of war’ – hadn’t endorsed them.

Military thinking has become our only thinking. The wish for superiority has
become the need to have the upper hand in every aspect of relations with our
neighbours. The Arabs must be crippled, socially and economically, and smashed
militarily, and of course they must then appear to us in the degraded state to
which we’ve reduced them. Our usual way of looking at them is borrowed from our
intelligence corps, who ‘translate’ them and interpret them, but cannot
recognise them as human beings. Israelis long ago ceased to be distressed by
images of sobbing women in white scarves, searching for the remains of their
homes in the rubble left by our soldiers. We think of them much as we think of
chickens or cats. We turn away without much trouble and consider the real
issue: the enemy. The Katyusha missiles that have been hitting the north of the
country are launched without ‘discrimination’, and in this sense Hizbullah is
guilty of a war crime, but the recent volleys of Katyushas were a response to
the frenzied assault on Lebanon. To the large majority of Israelis, however,
all the Katyushas prove is what a good and necessary thing we have done by
destroying our neighbours again: the enemy is indeed dangerous, it’s just as
well we went to war. The thinking becomes circular and the prophecies
self-fulfilling. Israelis are fond of saying: ‘The Middle East is a jungle,
where only might speaks.’ See Qana, and Gaza, or Beirut.

Defenders of Israel and its leaders can always argue that the US and Britain
behave similarly in Iraq. (It is true that Olmert and his colleagues would not
have acted so shamelessly if the US had not been behind them. Had Bush told
them to hold their fire, they wouldn’t have dared to move a single tank.) But
there is a major difference. The US and Britain went to war in Iraq without
public opinion behind them. Israel went to war in Lebanon, after a border
incident which it exploited in order to destroy a country, with the
overwhelming support of Israelis, including the members of what the European
press calls the ‘peace camp’.

Amos Oz, on 20 July, when the destruction of Lebanon was already well underway,
wrote in the Evening Standard: ‘This time, Israel is not invading Lebanon. It
is defending itself from a daily harassment and bombardment of dozens of our
towns and villages by attempting to smash Hizbullah wherever it lurks.’ Nothing
here is distinguishable from Israeli state pronouncements. David Grossman wrote
in the Guardian, again on 20 July, as if he were unaware of any bombardment in
Lebanon: ‘There is no justification for the large-scale violence that Hizbullah
unleashed this week, from Lebanese territory, on dozens of peaceful Israeli
villages, towns and cities. No country in the world could remain silent and
abandon its citizens when its neighbour strikes without any provocation.’ We
can bomb, but if they respond they are responsible for both their suffering and
ours. And it’s important to remember that ‘our suffering’ is that of poor
people in the north who cannot leave their homes easily or quickly. ‘Our
suffering’ is not that of the decision-makers or their friends in the media. Oz
also wrote that ‘there can be no moral equation between Hizbullah and Israel.
Hizbullah is targeting Israeli civilians wherever they are, while Israel is
targeting mostly Hizbullah.’ At that time more than 300 Lebanese had been
killed and 600 had been injured. Oz went on: ‘The Israeli peace movement should
support Israel’s attempt at self-defence, pure and simple, as long as this
operation targets mostly Hizbullah and spares, as much as possible, the lives
of Lebanese civilians (this is not always an easy task, as Hizbullah
missile-launchers often use Lebanese civilians as human sandbags).’ The truth
behind this is that Israel must always be allowed to do as it likes even if
this involves scorching its supremacy into Arab bodies. This supremacy is
beyond discussion and it is simple to the point of madness. We have the right
to abduct. You don’t. We have the right to arrest. You don’t. You are
terrorists. We are virtuous. We have sovereignty. You don’t. We can ruin you.
You cannot ruin us, even when you retaliate, because we are tied to the most
powerful nation on earth. We are angels of death.

The Lebanese will not remember everything about this war. How many atrocities
can a person keep in mind, how much helplessness can he or she admit, how many
massacres can people tell their children about, how many terrorised escapes
from burning houses, without becoming a slave to memory? Should a child keep a
leaflet written by the IDF in Arabic, in which he is told to leave his home
before it’s bombed? I cannot urge my Lebanese friends to remember the crimes my
state and its army have committed in Lebanon.

Israelis, however, have no right to forget. Too many people here supported the
war. It wasn’t just the nationalist religious settlers. It’s always easy to
blame the usual suspects for our misdemeanours: the scapegoating of religious
fanatics has allowed us to ignore the role of the army and its advocates within
the Zionist left. This time we have seen just how strongly the ‘moderates’ are
wedded to immoderation, even though they knew, before it even started, that
this would be a war against suburbs and crowded areas of cities, small towns
and defenceless villages. The model was our army’s recent actions in Gaza:
Israeli moderates found these perfectly acceptable.

It was a mistake for those of us who are unhappy with our country’s policies to
breathe a sigh of relief after the army withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. We
thought that the names of Sabra and Shatila would do all the memorial work that
needed to be done and that they would stand, metonymically, for the crimes
committed in Lebanon by Israel. But, with the withdrawal from Gaza, many
Israelis who should be opposing this war started to think of Ariel Sharon, the
genius of Sabra and Shatila, as a champion of peace. The logic of unilateralism
– of which Sharon was the embodiment – had at last prevailed: Israelis are the
only people who count in the Middle East; we are the only ones who deserve to
live here.

This time we must try harder to remember. We must remember the crimes of
Olmert, and of our minister of justice, Haim Ramon, who championed the
destruction of Lebanese villages after the ambush at Bint Jbeil, and of the
army chief of staff, Dan Halutz. Their names should be submitted to The Hague
so they can be held accountable.

Elections are a wholly inadequate form of accountability in Israel: the people
we kill and maim and ruin cannot vote here. If we let our memories slacken now,
the machine-memory will reassert control and write history for us. It will
glide into the vacuum created by our negligence, with the civilised voice of
Amos Oz easing its path, and insert its own version. And suddenly we will not
be able to explain what we know, even to our own children.

In Israel there is still no proper history of our acts in Lebanon. Israelis in
the peace camp used to carry posters with the figure ‘680’ on them – the number
of Israelis who died during the 1982 invasion. Six hundred and eighty Israeli
soldiers. How many members of that once sizeable peace camp protested about the
tens of thousands of Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian casualties? Isn’t the
failure of the peace camp a result of its inability to speak about the
cheapness of Arab blood? General Udi Adam, one of the architects of the current
war, has told Israelis that we shouldn’t count the dead. He meant this very
seriously and Israelis should take him seriously. We should make it our
business to count the dead in Lebanon and in Israel and, to the best of our
abilities, to find out their names, all of them.

Haaretz (Israel)
August 28, 2006

A new United Nations report claims that Israel Defense Forces soldiers have
killed 202 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since the start of the Operation
"Summer Rain," launched in the wake of the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad
Shalit in June.

The report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the
territories also says that 44 children are among the dead.

The authors of the report claim that the military operation, which has lasted
about two months, is still taking a severe toll on 1.4 million Palestinians in
the Gaza Strip.

According to the report, thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee
their homes following continuing IDF incursions into the Strip and heavy
shelling. The report states that since the operation began, the Israel Air
Force has conducted 247 aerial assaults in Gaza.

During the same period, one IDF soldier was killed and 26 Israelis were

Refering to the humanitarian

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