Jerusalem – The 20 missiles that were fired over the past week from Gaza into the Negev region of Southern Israel have rekindled hostilities.

In the wake of these attacks, the IDF attacked targets in the northern Gaza Strip for the first time since the November cease-fire. At his first appearance before the Israel Knesset Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi hinted that the IDF will have to take action soon against Hamas, because the organization is getting stronger.

“The growth in the strength of Hamas obligates us to produce a solution of one kind or another,” he said. “We are talking about great quantities of weapons and their progress to a new and higher quality of planning.”

In the wake of new Arab missile offensive, the Israel Air Force fired rockets on Thursday at a terrorist cell that was preparing to launch rockets into Israel from the Gaza shore. The rockets hit the cell, killing one of them and wounding three others. Military sources said the cell was from the Islamic Jihad.

Since the cease-fire came into force, almost 200 missiles have been fired from the Gaza Strip, and 152 of them landed in Israel. “The time has come to attack. Without a tough, painful and appropriate response, it will never stop,” Eli Moyal, mayor of Sderot, said this week, “It is the first time that the Israeli army has reacted, and therefore it indicates a change in policy. The public has to understand that there has never been a cease-fire here. The fact that people were not hurt does not mean that the level of anxiety has dropped. The Kassams have kept falling throughout the past few months, and it was only due to luck that they fell in open spaces.”

Alon Davidi, chairman of the Sderot Action Committee, said the change has taken place because the chief of staff has been replaced.

“When all’s said and done, we’re talking about a terrorist who tried to ruin the Passover festival for us, and that was a clear and immediate response which we ought to have made a long time ago. A chief of staff who acts instead of just talking deserves nothing but praise,” Davidi said.

Addressing the committee, Ashkenazi criticized his predecessor’s failure to prepare the IDF for war.

“On my watch, a situation like that of the previous war, when it was not clear who won and who lost, will not recur,” he said. “During my term, the IDF will be ready for war at all times.” He said his aim is “to ensure the operational fitness of the army. The test for the IDF is always the result.” In reaction to Ashkenazi’s hint that the IDF may be forced to take action against Hamas soon, MK Yuval Steinitz said: “If, at long last, a decision is taken to launch a military operation in the Gaza Strip, it should not be a limited ground incursion like the one in Lebanon, but a powerful blow at the terrorist infrastructures.”

On the post-war situation in Lebanon, Ashkenazi said it is not stable, and Hezbollah has not yet recovered its prewar strength:

“Hezbollah does not enjoy the freedom of action that it had before the war. UNIFIL is doing not a bad job. The organization [Hezbollah] is engaged mainly in building up strategic capabilities and rebuilding the capabilities that it had before the war.” He said Syria is also building up its strength. Israel perceives an improvement in Syria’s state of readiness, but for the present, there is no indication of an offensive initiative on Syria’s part. Turning to the subject of Iran, Ashkenazi said it is determined to continue developing its nuclear capability.

“It is an existential threat from our point of view,” he said. “Iran is playing a negative role in the region. It is supporting terrorism, in Hezbollah, Syria and Iraq.”

Members Of Knesset?On Ashkenazi: ‘Finally, Someone You Can Understand’

Israel’s new army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi was received warmly yesterday in his first appearance as chief of staff by the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

The Members of Knesset heaped praise on Ashkenazi.

“After all the serpentine terms I heard in recent years, finally I understand what is being ,” said MK Yoel Hasson of Yisrael Beiteinu.

MK Yuval Steinitz also joined the praise, saying “I was impressed that Ashkenazi had made a decision to speak at eye level very clearly and sharply and less academically, and this is welcome.

MK Otniel Schneller of Kadima, Olmert’s party, also joined the chorus, who said when leaving the meeting that he received the impression that the new chief of staff is “looking inward and not outward.”

MK Zvi Hendel (National Union-NRP) agreed and said, “with Ashkenazi, I will sleep a lot sounder than with [predecessor Dan] Halutz.”

Olmert Rejects

Ki-Moon’s Proposal

To Transfer Har Dov?Ridge To U.N. Control

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected a request of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, during his visit to Israel, that Israel transfer the Har Dov ridge, which Hezbollah calls Shaba Farms, to U.N. control.

The Arab newspaper Al-Hayat, which is published in London, reported Saturday that U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said that talks with Israel, Syria and Lebanon are taking place with U.N. mediation to transfer control of Shaba Farms to a U.N. international force until the disagreement between Israel, Lebanon and Syria is resolved. Ban claimed that there is progress in the work of the U.N.’s team of experts toward marking the Israel-Lebanon border in the area of Shaba Farms. According to the report, Ban said that after the work is completed, the supervision of the area will be transferred first to the international force and then to the Lebanese army.

But a high-ranking diplomatic official in Jerusalem said that when Ban Ki-moon mentioned the proposal during his visit to Jerusalem, Olmert responded with absolute refusal. He reiterated the official Israeli position that as long as Syria and Lebanon have not agreed where their own border is, including in the region of Har Dov, it is territory that was captured during the Six-Day War from Syria and not from Lebanon, and therefore its fate will be discussed in the framework of the negotiations with Syria, not with Lebanon.

Jerusalem officials also say that that they received no information about the completion of marking the border by U.N.’s team of cartographers.

Last week, Ki-moon visited Lebanon. During his trip, he said that he is disturbed by reports of illegal arms smuggling to Lebanon. However, he said that the situation on the ground is fairly calm. Ban visited the U.N. troops stationed in Nakura and thanked them for standing on guard.

Afterward, Ban had a helicopter tour above the Blue Line that separates Israel from Lebanon.

On Friday night, after his meeting with the various party leaders in Lebanon, Ban called for the full implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701, which brought about an end to the war in Lebanon, and expressed disappointment that there has been no progress toward the release of the two kidnapped soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.

During a joint press conference in which he and the Lebanese prime minister, Fouad Siniora, participated, Ban said, “I am disappointed that no sign of life has been received from the two Israeli soldiers.”

This is a humanitarian matter.

“I told them (high-ranking Lebanese officials) of the need for some progress in the matter of the detainees,”?Ban said.

Ban also met with the speaker of the Lebanese parliament, Nabih Beri, and with a member of parliament who belongs to Hezbollah.

During his meeting with leaders of the Lebanese security services, the parties discussed ways to strengthen the supervision of the Syrian-Lebanese border.

“There are complaints that the arms embargo is not being implemented fully,”?Ban said

Before his arrival in Beirut, he asked to meet with a high-ranking representative of Hezbollah. Israeli officials hope that following the meeting, it will be possible to obtain more details about the fate of the two Israeli captives, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.

Beirut officials said that Mohammed Fneish, a Hezbollah operative who served as the minister of energy in the Lebanese government until he resigned at the end of 2006, is the one who met with the visitor.

When Lebanese journalists asked Fneish before the meeting what he would tell the U.N. secretary general, he replied, “we are waiting to see what he will tell us. For our part, we will speak to him about the daily Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace, the continued Israeli occupation of our land and also our position in international decisions as compared with what Israel is doing.”

David Bedein can be reached at His Web site

©The Bulletin 2007


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Previous articleCommentary: Saudi Plans…
Next articleIsrael’s Intelligence Chief Gives Testimony On Possible War
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: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.