This news item was prepared in cooperation with Noam Bedein, head of the regional news service for Sderot and the Western Negev in southern Israel.

The first salvo was fired on Thursday at 7:30 a.m.

Four rockets fell in uninhabited areas within the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council with no casualties or damage, and a fifth rocket fell inside Palestinian territory.

Approximately a half-hour later, nine Kassam rockets were fired at Sderot. One rocket fell on a city road, damaging a car, and two residents suffered from shock. The rest of the rockets fell in uninhabited territory.

Approximately an hour later, three other rockets fell, one of which landed in a residential neighborhood, damaging a sidewalk. A woman was injured in the leg by shrapnel, a 12-year-old girl suffered screeching sounds in her ears and another woman suffered from shock.

The three of them were taken to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon by Magen David Adom, the Israel equivalent of the Red Cross.

Exactly one hour later, two rockets were fired and fell in an open area near Sderot.

At noon, two rockets fell in Palestinian Authority territory.

After a lull of several hours, one rocket was fired at 6 p.m. and fell inside uninhabited territory in Shaar Hanegev, and the mortar shell fell near the security fence, south of Kissufim.

Then at 9:15 p.m., another rocket was fired, which fell in Palestinian territory. In addition, an armed Palestinian who was spotted by Golani Infantry Brigade troops as he tried to cross the security fence was shot and seriously wounded.

The Sasson family in Sderot, interviewed with Noam Bedein on EURONEWS two weeks ago, suffered a direct hit on their home on Thursday in Sderot. The mother of the family, Shula Sasson, was unconscious at the Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon and two of her sons are being treated for shock.

The EURONEWS clip can be viewed at:

Responsibility for the Kassam rocket fire was claimed by Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, but not by Hamas.

Meanwhile, the Israeli news media reported details of the Wednesday Israel High Court of Justice session, when Israeli judges lost their patience with their government’s foot-dragging regarding finding a solution to the problem of protection for 800 families of Sderot since the rocket attacks on the city began seven years ago.

Judges Ayala Procaccia, Selim Jubran and Yosef Alon discussed the petition of 30 of the city’s residents to enjoin the government to reinforce 800 homes that have tiled roofs, which are vulnerable to Kassam rockets. The residents’ representative, Attorney Yosef Pinhas Cohen, who also lives in one of those homes, claimed that the government is breaking a clear promise that it gave to the residents of Sderot in the past.

The judges criticized the fact that the government is not giving the matter highest priority and gave it a month, no later than January 15, 2008, to report to the High Court of Justice on the progress of the measures being taken to solve the problem.

“People live in those homes. Much quicker answers need to be found, and at the highest priority,” said the director of the judges’ panel, Judge Ayala Procaccia.

Not willing to wait until January 15, Israeli Russian tycoon Arcadei Gaydamak announced that he was contributing $22million to fortify 600 of these unprotected Sderot homes.

During a tour of the western Negev city last May, when Mr. Gaydamak helped evacuate more than 1,000 residents of Sderot during sustained mortar attacks, he said, “That man (Prime Minister Ehud Olmert), who recently sent hundreds of Israelis to their deaths (in the Second Lebanon War) just to show that he was a leader, has no right to criticize my activity for the people of Sderot. I’m doing what every Jew must do.”

©The Evening Bulletin 2007

12/14/2007 IDF Chief Of Staff: ‘We Won’t Win Without Conquering Gaza’ By: David Bedein – 12/14/07, The Bulletin

Jerusalem – “We can’t defeat a terrorist organization without controlling the territory,” Israel Army Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said on Wednesday.

“The situation in Gaza can’t continue for long,” Mr. Ashkenazi said a short while after the security cabinet refrained from deciding on a large-scale ground operation in Gaza. “While the operations we are carrying out have a cumulative value, we haven’t succeeded in bringing it down to zero. It is possible that we will reach a point at which we need to carry out the large-scale operation.”

The Israeli Army chief of staff, who spoke at a convention of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, added that in his estimation it was becoming increasingly likely that Israel would be required to cope on several fronts simultaneously with armies and terrorist organizations.

Blair Warns: ‘Even Ben-Gurion Airport Will Come Under Terrorist Bombardment’

On Wednesday, The Quartet envoy to the Middle East, Tony Blair, appointed as the middle east peace process negotiator by the EU, Russia, the U.S. and the U.N., made statements seemingly sympathetic to Israel during a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

“Today, in my new position, I understand Israel’s concern for security better than I did during my term in office as Britain’s prime minister,” Mr. Blair said. “I am aware that if Israel does not have security, there will not be two states, side by side. Therefore, it is important that the diplomatic process not become disconnected from what is happening on the ground… In my perception, no agreement can be reached unless both sides agree to the basic principle – a peace treaty with no violence,” he told the members of Knesset.

Mr. Blair expressed opposition to including Hamas in the negotiations, noting that the international community has already clarified that it is impossible to be part of a political process ifone does not agree to the existence of that same process.

Mr. Blair also confided that he understands Israel’s fears in light of the possibility that even Israel’s only international airport, Ben-Gurion Airport, in Lod, will be within range of terrorist bombardment if a Palestinian state is established. Mr. Blair finished his survey with an attempt to create an optimistic atmosphere, saying: “I know that you in Israel are skeptical. The Americans are skeptical too, and we should remember that we have no alternative other than to keep on trying.”

Orthodox Jews Call

On U.S. Congress To Reconsider Aid To Palestinian Authority

Meanwhile, in a highly unusual step, The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the OU – the largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization in the USA, a group that rarely delves into partisan political issues, has issued a sharp letter to the congressional members of the Middle East Sub Committee of the U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee, challenging the efficacy of any further funding of the Palestinian Authority,

In the words of the Nathan J. Diament, head of the OU Washington office on Thursday morning, “We have serious concerns that the billions of dollars sent to the PA since the Oslo Accords have been wasted or misappropriated. The Palestinian Authority has repeatedly failed its threshold commitments to warrant receipt of international, and particularly, U.S. assistance. First, under Yasser Arafat and now under Mahmoud Abbas, they have time and again pledged to crack down on Palestinian terrorist groups, whether factions of Fatah or others, and to end violence against Israeli innocents… we urge the Congress to faithfully execute its role as overseer of the nation’s purse by refusing new appropriations.”

In conclusion, Mr. Diament listed accusations against the Palestinian Authority:

* Demonization of Israel and the United States continues on PA funded media, where imams preach Death to the Jews and where even a Mickey Mouse lookalike is enlisted to teach children hatred.

*The same can be said for the hate filled textbooks used in Palestinian Authority run schools.

* PA and Muslim Waqf officials continue to deny Jewish historical and religious claims to Jerusalem, including the Old City, the historic capital of King David, and deny the existence of the Jewish Holy Temples that stood on the Temple Mount, as well as claiming the Western Wall, the Kotel, is not a Jewish holy site.

* The PA leadership still refuses to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people.

©The Evening Bulletin 2007

12/13/2007 Heavy Barrage Of Kassam Rockets Falls On The Negev By: David Bedein – 12/13/07, The Bulletin

Residents of the western Negev woke up yesterday to another morning of Kassam rockets; armed Palestinians launched no less then 20 Kassam rockets at the area, with one of them landing on a street in Sderot.

Two women went into shock and damage was caused to a car. Magen David Adom director Eli Bin gave an order to raise the state of alert in Sderot to C – the highest state of alert – and to B in the Gaza periphery communities.

Later yesterday, the Israel High Court of Justice was to deliver its decision regarding Sderot’s residents’ petition requesting that the government fortify 800 old homes in Sderot, to provide armored safe rooms in each apartment.

[A personal note: This reporter has two adult children who live in Sderot, in relatively new apartments that are equipped with protected armored rooms where they can run for cover during a missile attack.]

The first barrage occurred at approximately 7:30 in the morning, while children were going to school, and consisted of five Kassam rockets. Four of the Kassam rockets landed in open areas within the jurisdiction of Shaar Hanegev Regional Counsel anda fifth landed in a Palestinian area, within the Gaza strip.

A short time later, at 8:05, a “Red Color” siren was activated on the loudspeakers for a second time, following eight additional rockets that were launched on the region. Minutes later the alert was activated for a third time and an additional seven rockets were fired toward the city.

Magen David Adom [Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross ] in Sderot began combing the area, and in one of the city streets they found two women who had gone into shock as well as a car that had been damaged. One of the rockets was located adjacent to a kibbutz in Shaar Hanegev Regional Counsel.

Meanwhile, Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal resigned in protest in the middle of a live interview broadcast on Israel Radio’s noon news magazine today.

Moyal expressed his frustration over the refusal of the Olmert administration to take serious measures to stop the ongoing attacks of Kassams against his city.

As of now, IDF operations have been limited to a depth of around a mile within the Gaza Strip.

Moyal resigned immediately after an Israel Radio correspondent reported that the Olmert Administration’s defense cabinet decided that it was not the time to carry out a massive operation in the Gaza Strip to stop the Kassam attacks.

Army Chief: Gaza Operation Unavoidable

Following the Israeli government decision to again delay a Gaza incursion, Israeli Defense Forces.

Chief of Staff Lit.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said yesterday that the current situation in Gaza cannot continue, and that ongoing Kassam attacks on Israel may force the IDF to launch a large-scale operation in the Strip,

“You cannot defeat a terror organization without eventually taking control of the territory,” he said, “the only reason we have been successful in Judea and Samaria is because we control the area.”

Speaking at a conference hosted by the Institute for National Security Studies at the Tel Aviv University, Gen. Ashkenazi said that while the current limited army operations in Gaza impair the capabilities of terror organizations, they would never completely curb all attacks against Israel.

“We may very well come to a point where we will be forced to carry out a large-scale operation,” he said.

Gen. Ashkenazi said that Israel must prepare for the possibility of facing numerous enemies on several fronts – including foreign armies and terror groups – simultaneously.

“The threat to the Israeli home front is growing and this requires us to prepare ourselves both on the defensive and offensive levels,” he stated.

“This threat began to evolve as our enemies began to understand that they were incapable of defeating us militarily and also when they realized our sensitivity to the loss of human life. That is how these weapons came into use – from the Qassam to the Shiab.

Over the past four months, The Bulletin has repeatedly asked why the IDF does not kill or capture the Gaza terror leaders who give orders to shell Israel. The Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Defense Minister refuse to answer the question.

Hamas Kassam Production Intensified

Meanwhile, the Middle East Newsline has confirmed that Israel’s military has determined that the Hamas regime intensified production of its missiles and mortars.

The Israeli military has assessed that Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip were capable of producing up to 50 missiles and mortars per day. The military concluded that the intensified production reflected massive smuggling of explosives, detonators and other components from Egypt.

©The Evening Bulletin 2007

12/11/2007 No Defense Is A Good Defense? By: David Bedein – 12/11/07, The Bulletin

Jerusalem – The headlines in the Israeli media yesterday morning reported the Israel Military Intelligence Branch’s latest assessment on rocket fire out of the Gaza Strip.

The assessment is that the Palestinians will continue to increase the range of their rockets with the passage of time so that in the course of 2008 some 250,000 Israelis will find themselves within range.

The assessment anticipates the Gazans will soon have all of the coastal city of Ashkelon and even towns as distant as Kiryat Gat within range.

In the course of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced a strategic decision not to fortify the houses of residents of southern Israel that are exposed to rocket fire. At least 10,500 homes of civilians in the Sderot and Gaza periphery communities areas have become exposed to unending Kassam rocket fire, and recently also to mortar shell fire. The cabinet held an in-depth discussion on the issue of home fortifications, although Mr. Olmert’s position, as well as that of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, was more or less already formed.

Mr. Olmert, who in recent months often declared “Israel will not fortify itself to death,” is opposed to fortifying residents’ homes, in contrast to the fortifying of schools and public buildings that is already taking place and has mostly been completed. Mr. Olmert contended that there should be investment in military solutions to the rocket fire. He said that investing in fortifications is viewed as a defeatist step by Israel and a dangerous precedent, since the Kassam rocket range is increasing.

The Bulletin has confirmed from security sources in southern Israel that a missile is fired on Israel’s civilian population about once every three hours over the past three months. Yesterday, The Bulletin visited Kibbutz Nir Am, which is located half a mile from the Gaza strip. The security officer showed shelters that are unfit for human habitation. There is no electricity and the shelter is currently flooded.

The Nir Am security guard pointed to the homes of elderly kibbutz members who live near the shelter who have no place to take cover in case of an attack. There have been 300 missile attacks on the kibbutz and 500 missile attacks near the kibbutz in the past five years. Four homes and one restaurant on the kibbutz have been destroyed completely.

The situation in Nir Am seems representative of the situation of shelters throughout the western Negev.

The Bulletin has obtained an internal security document that shows that a total of 78 shelters in the western Negev are in a situation of total disrepair.

Since Gaza missiles reaching southern Israel are expected to assume the lethal “quality” that characterized the Hezbollah missiles during the Lebanon war in the summer of 2006, the Israeli army would have to give the order for the population to move into these shelters for long periods of time.

A Member of Israeli Knesset Parliament, Shai Hermesh, a leading member of Mr. Olmert’s Kadima political party and the one member of the Knesset from the western Negev, revealed last January in an interview with the Voice of Israel that funds for shelter repair had been allocated to overhaul the shelters but that the funds had “disappeared.”

Mr. Hermesh laid the blame on his political ally, Prime Minister Olmert.

In mid-July 2006, The Bulletin asked ACRI, the Israel Association for Civil Rights (which is financed by the New Israel Fund in the United States), why they would not intervene on behalf of entire communities that had been forced to take cover in such shelters during sustained missile attacks from the north.

ACRI responded within a few hours that it does not interfere with matters related to civil defense.

Three weeks later, ACRI issued a public attack on the government of Israel for not repairing shelters in Arab villages in Israel and not installing siren systems in many Arab villages.

The Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot looked into the allegation that the Israeli government had cut off sirens in Israeli Arab villages.

Yediot confirmed that Arab village councils had themselves ordered the cut off of Israeli government siren systems, since they did not want to hear sirens that signal one minute of silence during Israel’s Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and for Holocaust Remembrance Day.

However, fundraising brochures of the New Israel Fund allege that the Israeli government was negligent in repairing shelters and installing alarm systems for Israel’s Arab minority.

Olmert Speaks

Out On Iran

Meanwhile, the Israeli government security cabinet discussed Sunday Israel’s position on Iran and its alleged nuclear program.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, “Israel will make a powerful effort in its dealings with the International Atomic Energy Agency to expose Iran’s secret military nuclear program. Iran is continuing to produce ballistic missiles as fast as it can. Iran is continuing with research and development aimed at supporting nuclear arms, and nobody disputes these facts. Consequently, there is no reason for Israel to change the conclusions that it has held all along. Iran is continuing its drive to obtain the two vital elements for a nuclear weapons program: development of arms and missiles, which are being conducted parallel to production of enriched uranium.”

Mr. Olmert added: “Israel’s position has not changed in the wake of the publication of the report. According to that report Iran had a nuclear weapons program until 2003,and there is no positive evidence that explains where that program went when it disappeared. Iran is continuing its uranium enrichment activities, and also according to the new American report, already in 2010 it will have accumulated sufficient quantities to produce nuclear weapons.”

Israel’s official policy had defined Iran as “a worldwide problem which the international community has to confront.” In accordance with that policy, Mr. Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had been careful up till now not to make public declarations of direct Israeli involvement.

Mr. Olmert added that Israel will continue trying to convince the international community to upgrade the sanctions against Iran. “The international pressure on Iran is very effective, and this [the American] report also says so, and it [the pressure] must be kept up.”

U.S. Joint Chiefs Of Staff Mullen’s Remarks

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, who visited Israel today, declared that that in spite of the report from the American intelligence agencies about the Iranian nuclear program, he views Iran as a country that supports terrorism and constitutes a central threat to stability in the Middle East.

In the past Iran was engaged in development of nuclear weapons and retains certain capabilities in that area, Adm. Mullen said.

Adm. Mullen heard a review from Director of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, about security threats to Israel in general and the Iranian threat in particular.

Earlier this morning, Adm. Mullen held a meeting with Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.

©The Evening Bulletin 2007