Hezbollah can fire approximately 150 Katyusha rockets into Israel per day for four months, according to a current intelligence assessment that has reached Jerusalem.

High-ranking political officials said that Hezbollah is becoming stronger at an alarming rate and has already succeeded in rehabilitating its capability almost entirely. One of the things that worries Israel the most is the smuggling of Iranian Zelzal rockets that have reached Lebanon by way of Syria. A high-ranking political source said that at present, Hezbollah has dozens, if not hundreds, of Zelzal rockets. As Yedioth Ahronoth reported, according to information that reached Israel, the Syrians recently sent Hezbollah shipments of new Kornet anti-tank rockets.

Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted publicly for the first time that Russian anti-tank rockets have trickled from Syria to Hezbollah. In statements he made during the Munich Conference, he said: “There are boxes of our anti-tank systems in Lebanon, that is true. Our Israeli partners told me about that immediately.” Jerusalem officials say that the Russians did not use their supervisory apparatus, as they had promised, and did not prevent the trickle. The quantity is not at the level that it was before the war, but rather at the beginning of a worrying trend.

EU Will Not Work With Palestinian Gov’t That Does Not Recognize Israel

The European Union foreign ministers decided Monday night at a meeting in Brussels not to engage in talks with a Palestinian unity government that failed to meet the three threshold conditions that were set by the Quartet – recognition of Israel, recognizing agreements that were previously signed by the Palestinian Authority and forswearing terrorism.

A statement issued by the foreign ministers noted that the council of foreign ministers welcomed the Mecca agreement and praised PA Chairman Abu Mazen for his efforts to form a national unity government and the contribution of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to resolve the differences between the Palestinian factions. “The EU stands ready to work with a legitimate Palestinian government that adopts a platform reflecting the Quartet principles and welcomed the Quartet statement of 9 February (which made such dialogue contingent upon the Palestinian government accepting the three conditions),” read the EU foreign ministers’ statement.

The statement of the European foreign ministers was preceded by intensive efforts that were made by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in talks that she held with European foreign ministers. Livni spoke with the foreign ministers of Germany, the U.K., Spain, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Slovakia, Austria and with EU foreign policy director Javier Solana. The statement that was issued by the European foreign ministers constitutes a significant achievement for Israel, since other European Union officials actively supported lifting the economic siege on the Palestinian Authority even without the Palestinian unity government’s acceptance of the three threshold conditions.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who is also the leader of Hamas, delivered a speech Monday that was broadcast by Palestinian television. In the speech he said: “The Mecca agreement to form a national unity government is the will of the Palestinian people and was signed in accordance with the decision of its representatives. Please, respect the new government.”

Haniyeh called on the Quartet to recognize the unity government and to help it play its role, mainly by lifting the economic and political siege on the Palestinians. He called on Palestinians to close ranks, to stop bickering and to end the bloodshed in Palestinian society. Haniyeh made no mention of the kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit in his speech and made no reference to Israel. Haniyeh will resign his post tomorrow as prime minister, as obliged by law, so as to allow Abu Mazen to present him with the task of forming the new government. This is expected to occur tomorrow. Four of the cabinet ministers in the new Palestinian government are currently in Israeli prison.

Israeli Army Sees More Ethiopian Immigrant Than Native-Born Recruits

Ninety percent of the members of the Ethiopian community join the IDF compared with 74 percent of native-born Israelis, according to statistics that the IDF presented to the Knesset’s Absorption Committee.

Brig. Gen. Nissim Bardah, director of the planning and personnel unit in the IDF’s human resources department, presented the statistics.

Despite the gap in the recruitment statistics, native-born Israelis still lead among those who serve in combat units: 46.9 percent of the native-born Israelis who serve in the army go to combat units as compared to 40 percent of Ethiopian immigrants, 39.5 percent of new immigrants (up to two years in Israel) and 35 percent of long-time immigrants.

One comparative statistic shows that as compared with 74 percent of native-born Israelis born in 1987 who joined the army, the rate of enlistment among long-time immigrants reached 72 percent. The rate of enlistment among those defined as new immigrants reached only 31 percent, but IDF officials explained that the low rate stems from the fact that many new immigrants move to other countries or return to their countries of origin after receiving the absorption basket.

The statistics are equal among women. The share of women recruits is identical among native-born Israelis and long-time immigrants, and stands at 58 percent. But also among women, those of Ethiopian origin are the champions: 69 percent of the young women of the community join the army.

©The Bulletin 2007


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.