April 17, 2009
Number 04/09 #04
Today’s Update contains some additional material on Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects under the new US and Israeli governments. It also details some important new revelations about Hezbollah operatives allegedly targeting Egypt.
First up, former senior American official Elliot Abrams, now at the Council on Foreign Relations, looks at the inevitable claims that the US must demand an Israeli settlement freeze for negotiations to go forward. He argues that this would create unnecessary confrontation, as a formula has already been worked out that keeps growth within settlements from interfering with prospects of Palestinian aspirations for statehood – that is, growth only in already built-up areas of existing settlements. And he argues that the claim that such settlement growth forecloses statehood can be refuted empirically – in the past ten years, Israeli offers to the Palestinians in terms of the land on offer have increased not decreased, he points out. For his complete argument, CLICK HERE. Incidentally, anyone who still doubts the reality of Israeli peace offers should read this interview with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who admits Israel offered the Palestinians the equivalent of all of the West Bank in 2000 and again last year, but says agreement was not reached because the Palestinians refused any compromise whatsoever on Jerusalem.
Next up, former British PM turned Quartet mediator Tony Blair has an interview discussing peace prospects following a recent meeting with new Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu. He says he supports Netanyahu’s plans for “economic and security change on the West Bank” and believes Netanyahu is trying to build a Palestinian state from the bottom up. He also had some interesting things to say about when it would be appropriate to engage with Hamas. For the full interview, CLICK HERE. Also discussing peace prospects and how the Netanyahu Government might interact with the Obama Administration over peace efforts are Israeli-American academic Alon Ben-Meir, and Washington insider Steve Rosen. Agreeing on the need to concentrate on building Palestinian institutions of statehood “from the bottom up” is top Israeli academic Shlomo Avineri, who praises Blair’s efforts in this regard.
Finally, earlier this week it was revealed that Egypt had exposed an extensive Hezbollah network in Sinai, which was not only smuggling weapons to Gaza via Sudan, but was also planning terror attacks in Sinai and Egypt. Below, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre in Israel details what is now known about this network, and the reactions to its exposure in Egypt, Lebanon, and Iran (which is generally believed to have sponsored the network.) This revelation is clearly a major event in Egyptian-Iranian relations, and this report details the angry Egyptian public campaign against Iran in response. For all the details, CLICK HERE. More on the Iranian role in the network is here and here. It is also reported that Israeli and US intelligence tips led to the capture of the network, and the group was planning a major attack in Tel Aviv. Analysis of the implications of this network for Egyptian-Israeli relations is here and here.
Readers may also be interested in:
- A report that Iran may be hiding several dozen tons of illegal enriched uranium for North Korea. Some comments on the significance of this if true, are here and here.
- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appears to rule out any talks with the US about Iran’s nuclear program. Ahmadinejad just opened a new nuclear fuel facility and bragged of Iran’s advances in centrifuge enrichment technology.
- A report that Hezbollah demonstrators held signs threatening Israel with a mushroom cloud, and the implications of such threats for Israel from journalist Michael Totten.
- Totten also reported on the deterioration of UNIFIL in southern Lebanon, while analyst Melik Kaylan sees signs that Hezbollah’s control over Lebanon’s Shiite community might be waning.
- After an hiatus, rocket attacks on Israel’s south from Gaza resumed a couple of days ago.
- Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz comments on what Israelis know about the reality of the situation in Gaza and what happened during the conflict there in January.
- Comment on the last minute preparations for the UN’s controversial “Durban II” conference, due to begin Monday in Geneva, comes from Dr. Gerald Steinberg and the Jerusalem Post.
- The BBC’s highest complaints tribunal has upheld complaints about some reporting on Israel by BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen, whose work often features on Australia – see here and here.
By Elliott Abrams
Washington Post, Wednesday, April 8, 2009; Page A17
Will Israel’s new government face American demands for a settlement freeze? If so, we are headed for a needless confrontation with the Netanyahu cabinet.
There is wide consensus that the main obstacle to an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is settlement activity — new construction in the communities beyond the “Green Line,” as the border of Israel from the 1949 armistice until the 1967 war is known. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called settlement activity “the greatest obstacle” to peace, former president George W. Bush called it an “impediment” to peace, and the international “quartet” — the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations — has criticized settlement activity in virtually all of its joint statements.
There is also wide agreement on the antidote: a “settlement freeze,” imposed to make peace possible. Consider: In a speech in Washington last February, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that “what is most desperately required is a cessation of all settlement activity in order to preserve the very possibility of a negotiated two-state solution.” The 2001 Mitchell Report said Israel should “freeze all settlement activity, including the ‘natural growth’ of existing settlements,” a conclusion that gained more importance when George Mitchell, the former senator who wrote the report, was named President Obama’s Middle East negotiator.
Certainly the establishment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank after 1967 (by Labor and Likud governments) created conditions that complicate negotiations. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis now live beyond the Green Line, and the intense debate in Israel over then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s removal of fewer than 9,000 settlers from Gaza suggests that removing settlements from the West Bank will be even more controversial and difficult.
But those settlements exist, and there is no point in debating whether it was right to build them. President Bush largely resolved the issue of the major settlement blocs in a 2004 letter to Sharon. He stated a truth that Palestinians have come to recognize: “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”
So the real issue is not past settlement activity but the demand for a settlement freeze. Is current and recent settlement construction creating insurmountable barriers to peace? A simple test shows that it is not. Ten years ago, in the Camp David talks, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat approximately 94 percent of the West Bank, with a land swap to make up half of the 6 percent Israel would keep. According to news reports, just three months ago, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered 93 percent, with a one-to-one land swap. In the end, under the January 2009 offer, Palestinians would have received an area equal to 98 to 98.5 percent of the West Bank (depending on which press report you read), while 10 years ago they were offered 97 percent. Ten years of settlement activity would have resulted in a larger area for the Palestinian state.
How is this possible? For one thing, most settlement activity is in those major blocs that it is widely understood Israel will keep. For another, those settlements are becoming more populated, not geographically larger. Most settlement expansion occurs in ways that do not much affect Palestinian life. While the physical expansion of settlements may take land that Palestinians own or use, and may interfere with Palestinian mobility or agricultural activity, population growth inside settlements does not have that effect. For the past five years, Israel’s government has largely adhered to guidelines that were discussed with the United States but never formally adopted: that there would be no new settlements, no financial incentives for Israelis to move to settlements and no new construction except in already built-up areas. The clear purpose of the guidelines? To allow for settlement growth in ways that minimized the impact on Palestinians.
Israel has largely, but not fully, kept to those rules; there has been physical expansion in some places, and the Palestinian Authority is right to object to it. Israeli settlement expansion beyond the security fence, in areas Israel will ultimately evacuate, is a mistake: It wastes Israeli resources and needlessly antagonizes the Palestinians who live nearby. But the overall impact of such recent activity — as Olmert’s proposal to Abbas showed — has not undermined Israel’s ability to negotiate peace and offer a territorial compromise.
Settlement activity is not diminishing the territory of a future Palestinian entity. In fact, the emphasis on a “settlement freeze” draws attention from the progress that’s needed to lay the foundation for full Palestinian self-rule — building a thriving economy, fighting terrorism through reliable security forces and establishing the rule of law. A “settlement freeze” would not help Palestinians face today’s problems or prepare for tomorrow’s challenges. The demand for a freeze would have only one quick effect: to create immediate tension between the United States and Israel’s new government. That may be precisely why some propose it, but it is also why the Obama administration should reject it.
The writer, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, was the deputy national security adviser overseeing Near East and North African affairs in the George W. Bush administration.
Back to Top
By Tim McGirk / Jerusalem
Time, Wednesday, Apr. 08, 2009
In between bites of an orange on a balcony in the fabled American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem, Tony Blair, ex–British Prime Minister and current mediator for the Quartet — the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, spoke candidly with TIME’s Jerusalem bureau chief Tim McGirk about the obstacles to peace. Earlier, Blair had met with Benjamin Netanyahu, the hawkish new Israeli premier, who says he will keep talking peace but left open the question of whether Israel would accept a Palestinian state. “One thing I learned,” says Blair, “is that you simply just don’t give up.” (See pictures of Tony Blair’s 10 years as British Prime Minister.)
TIME: How much longer do you expect to keep shuttling to the Middle East?
Blair: [Laughing] As long as it takes. People keep saying this to me as if I were going to bunk off at any point. I knew this would be extremely difficult. But I don’t give up on these things. I also think the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is of fundamental importance to the whole struggle going on in the Islamic world. That isn’t to say that its cause is the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict, but its resolution would be a major part to solving it. If this thing could be put on a better and different path, it would change the whole dynamic within Islam.
It will empower the moderates. This is the issue far more than Iraq or Afghanistan — it’s what allows the extremists to reach across into moderate opinion.
Your job as peace envoy got a lot tougher after the recent Israeli offensive in Gaza and a new right-wing government in Israel …
There’s a lot of cynicism and concern about what the new [Israeli] government means here — and obviously a lot of despair after what happened in Gaza. But we have no option but to pick ourselves up from here. What happens in these next couple of months will really be critical. We need three elements: a credible political negotiation for a two-state solution; a program of major change on the West Bank, and an easing of the blockade in Gaza. If we get those, we’ll be back in business again.
Are you optimistic?
By nature I’m optimistic. I look for silver linings.
Have you found any?
Yes, I think the fact that the new Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] is really clear that he wants economic and security change on the West Bank. That’s what we agreed we’d work on with him. There are one or two things that [Netanyahu’s] term “economic peace” can mean. One, that economic development is a substitute for state, and that’s obviously not acceptable. I personally think he wants the second, to build the [Palestinian] state from the bottom up. I understand and buy into that. It’s important for the Israeli government to come out and say we want a two-state solution, but the circumstances have got to be right.
Under what conditions should the international community deal with Hamas?
There’s a problem. It’s very hard for the international community to put the money into the Palestinian government where [Hamas] is saying, We reserve the right to use violence, to fire rockets at innocent Israeli civilians. Truth is, if Hamas were to say, “We’re pursuing our political objectives by nonviolent means,” they would, at a stroke, liberate the international community to say there’s now got to be a solution.
But Hamas keeps shooting rockets into Israel.
Firing these rockets isn’t just morally wrong — they’re shooting at innocent civilians — but it’s also tactically useless. At no level is it sensible. I’m all for Hamas coming into this process, but only on a basis that we can deal with. Otherwise, we’re put in an impossible situation in which we’re tacitly supporting activities that are geared to violent resistance.
The U.N. is calling for Israel to lift the blockade on Gaza. Do you agree?
We’ve got to change this policy on Gaza. It doesn’t work. Hamas gets what they want through the tunnels and civil society is put at a disadvantage. We’ve got to help the people in Gaza. I’d like to see humanitarian help in its broadest sense going in — that’s not just food and fuel but also help in rebuilding infrastructure and houses. The Israelis obviously are concerned about anything that might have a security implication. But we have to distinguish between what is a security risk [for the Israelis] and, as it were, a decision that while Gaza remains under Hamas control, that even necessary help for rebuilding infrastructure will be denied.
Are you ready to go back into Gaza?
Absolutely. At one level, Gaza is a dangerous place, but I’ve been in before and I’ll go in again. It’s really important that the international community engages in Gaza. There are lots of people in Gazan society who are anxious for support and who have nothing to do with politics. They just want to make a living.
Once again, peace talks seem to have stalled. Why?
For last six months you’ve had a hiatus — paralysis in the Israeli government, problems on the Palestinian side, and a transition going on in America. All these things are now clearing. The next couple of months will determine if we can breathe new life back into this process. No doubt we need to. The question is: Can we?
What’s the answer?
The hiatus is over. Now we have to return to basic principles and put this back together again. You’ve got a new U.S. Administration determined to take this forward, and you’ve got an Israeli government that at least is going to be empowered to make decisions [because of its majority in Knesset]. For all these reasons we’re back in with a shout.
But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says that all these talks with Israel have yielded nothing.
I think it’s very simple. If the moderates on the Palestinian side show they can make progress by engagement [with Israel] they’ll be strong. If they engage and can’t make progress they’ll be weak. It’s an absolutely simple equation.
Is this tougher than bringing peace to Northern Ireland?
One thing I learned is that you simply just don’t give up. People said Northern Ireland was completely hopeless. But in the end, it wasn’t. And this isn’t, either. On one level, this is easier because there is an agreement among most people — and that’s trying to reach a two-state solution.
Back to Top
Egypt exposes a Hezbollah network on its soil, claiming it not only smuggled weapons into the Gaza Strip and but also planned to carry out terrorist attacks and subversion activities
Hassan Nasrallah admitted a detained Hezbollah operative was involved in smuggling but denied other accusations.
Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC)
April 13, 2009
1. The Egyptian and Arab media reported that the Egyptian security services exposed a Hezbollah network which had been active in Egypt for a long time. So far several dozen Lebanese, Palestinian and Egyptians directed by Hezbollah have been detained. The network smuggled weapons (possibly from Iran ) through Sudan and from there to Egypt , and then through tunnels in Rafah into the Gaza Strip for Hamas . In addition, according to the reports, the network was involved in attempted terrorist attacks in Sinai and Cairo , including sites where Israeli tourists congregate, and in subversive activities against the Egyptian regime.
2. Egypt reacted angrily to the exposure of Hezbollah activity on its soil and accused the organization and Iran of interfering in Egyptian internal affairs and endangering its national security. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah , in an unprecedented statement, admitted that Egypt had indeed detained a Hezbollah operative and a number of others connected with him. He claimed that the detainee was a “logistical operative” who dealt with smuggling weapons and fighters into the Gaza Strip. However, he claimed that Hezbollah had no branches outside in Lebanon and that it was not involved in clandestine or subversive activities in any other Arab country ( a fabrication , since Hezbollah has been involved in subversive activity in both Iraq and Jordan ).
3. The Hezbollah network exposed by the Egyptians, apparently shortly before Operation Cast Lead, is more proof of the military support Iran gives Hamas in the Gaza Strip , either directly or through Hezbollah , which operates as a subcontractor to promote Iranian interests . During the period before Operation Cast Lead, Iran and Hezbollah provided Hamas with weapons , among them hundreds of standard 122mm Grad rockets with a range of 20-40 kilometers and advanced anti-tank missiles; technical know-how which enabled Hezbollah to manufacture lethal Shawaz EFPs, inspired by Hezbollah in Lebanon; advanced military training in Iran for hundreds of terrorist operatives belonging to Hamas and the other terrorist organizations; financial support for Hamas’s political bureau and military-terrorist wing to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year; and political and propaganda support . All of the above were done to strengthen Hamas’s military infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, encourage it to continue its terrorist attacks against Israel and sabotage any dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. 1
4. The Egyptian and Arab media gave broad coverage to the exposure of the Hezbollah network . It occurred several months ago, apparently before Operation Cast Lead, but the search for the network operatives is still continuing . According to the reports, Egyptian counterterrorism forces in Sinai are pursuing more than a dozen Lebanese suspected of ties to the Hezbollah network (Al-Jazeera TV, April 13, 2009 ; Al-Masri Al-Youm , April 12, 2009 ). According to the April 9 issue of the official Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram , the Hezbollah network began its activities in 2007, when a senior Lebanese operative (who lived in Dahiya, the southern Shi’ite suburb of Beirut and a Hezbollah stronghold) entered Egypt on a forged passport. In November 2008 the Egyptian security forces detained Hezbollah operative Sami Shihab, and it was apparently his detention that led to the exposure of most of the members of the terrorist network .
5. According to the Egyptian media, so far dozens of Lebanese, Palestinians and Egyptians with ties to Hezbollah have been detained. They were organized into a number of squads and were directed by a prominent Hezbollah figure in Lebanon ( Al-Masri Al-Youm , April 12, 2009 ). The central figure in Egypt was Sami Shihab 2, who was detained with two young Palestinians carrying Palestinian passports issued in Lebanon . Sami Shihab, who settled in El-Arish, was the only individual who maintained telephone contact with the Hezbollah figure in Lebanon running the network ( Al-Masri Al-Youm , April 12, 2009 ).
6. According to the Egyptian and Arab media, the network smuggled weapons and money for Hamas use, using tunnels in the Rafah region. The weapons came via Sudan to the Gaza Strip ( Al-Hayat , April 9, 2009 ). The network also planned to carry out a series of terrorist attacks in Cairo and Sinai, including places where Israeli tourists congregate . They established commercial ventures to cover their activities of collecting intelligence information needed to carry out terrorist attacks (including monitoring tourists sites in northern and southern Sinai). They bought safe apartments in Egyptian Rafah and in El-Arish, and observed the movement of ships through the Suez Canal . They also contacted criminal elements in Egypt to obtain forged Egyptian documents which would enable them to leave Egypt and to rent safe houses 3 (Egyptian TV, April 8, 2009 ). Some of them worked for the Hezbollah station Al-Manar TV as a cover for their activities 4 ( Al-Masri Al-Youm , April 10, 2009 ).
7. Following the exposure of the Hezbollah network Egypt initiated an anti-Hezbollah, anti-Iran political and media campaign. In a telephone conversation, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told Lebanese president Fuad Siniora that the Egyptian judicial system would bring those responsible to trial ( Haaretz , April 13, 2009 ). Omar Suleiman, head of Egyptian intelligence , visited Saudi Arabia and told King Abdallah about Hezbollah’s subversive activities in a number of Middle East countries, especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia ( Al-Qabas , April 12, 2009 ). Ahmed Nazif , Egyptian Prime Minister said that Egyptian security was a “red line” that could not be crossed or harmed. He said that Egypt was determined not to allow anyone inside or outside the country to endanger the lives of Egyptian citizens or Egypt ‘s national economy (Middle East News Agency, April 11, 2009 ). Safwat el-Sherif, head of the Shura Council , gave a speech in which he called Hezbollah “crooks and liars” and accused the organization of “exporting conflicts and destruction” while doing nothing to help the Palestinian people (Middle East News Agency, April 12, 2009).
8. The Egyptian media angrily attacked Hassan Nasrallah and accused him of planning to harm Egypt , its citizens and its regime. “An Egyptian source” said that Nasrallah’s speech proved that Hezbollah wanted to implement its policy in Egypt and the entire region to advance Iranian interests (Note: For Nasrallah’s speech see below). He was described by the establishment press and political figures as “the monkey sheikh,” “an Iranian agent,” “a Lebanese from [the Iranian city of] Qom ,” 5 and “leader of the militias in the Iranian party in Lebanon .” On April 12, the editor in chief of Al-Ahram lauded the Egyptian security services which had succeeded in “ exposing the extent of Iranian intervention in internal Egyptian affairs .” On the same day an editorial in Al-Gumhuriya stated that “we will not allow you, monkey sheikh , to make fools of the symbols of our judicial system. You are an experienced criminal who killed his own countrymen, we will not let you threaten the safety and security of Egypt .”
9. Other Egyptian reactions:
i) Lawyers and members of the Egyptian Parliament demanded that a warrant be issued for Hassan Nasrallah and that his name be added to the list of the accused, because he had committed crimes which deserved the death penalty ( Al-Masri Al-Youm , Al-Arabia TV, April 12, 2009 ).
ii) Egyptian “security sources” said that the prosecution in the Egyptian high court for national security was investigating the possibility that a number of Muslim Brotherhood activists were involved in the affair ( Al-Jareeda , April 12, 2009 ). Egyptian lawyers also demanded that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide, Mahdi Akef be investigated as well ( Al-Masri Al-Youm , April 12, 2009 ). On the other hand, Mahdi Akef defended Hezbollah, saying that “the resistance [i.e., terrorism] had to be supported at all costs” ( Al-Sharq Al-Awsat , April 13, 2009 ).
10. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah admitted the involvement of his organization in smuggling operatives and weapons into the Gaza Strip from Egypt , although he denied the Egyptian allegations that Hezbollah was involved in subversion and terrorist attacks. In a strong speech broadcast by Al-Manar TV on April 10, he said the following:
i) The Lebanese citizen detained by Egypt was indeed a Hezbollah operative who dealt only with “logistic activity” along the Egypt-Gaza Strip border: “…Brother Sami [Shihab] is a member of Hezbollah. We do not deny that and are not embarrassed by him…” According to Nasrallah, his activities included transferring weapons and “fighters” [i.e., terrorist operatives]into the Gaza Strip for Hamas . 6 The number of operatives with whom Sami Shihab collaborated did not reach ten and the Egyptian claim that they exposed a complex network of fifty operatives was not true.
ii) The other allegations presented by the Egyptian prosecutor were “fictions” and Hezbollah operatives were not involved in subversion and attacks . Nasrallah “innocently” claimed that Hezbollah was “a Lebanese party” and had no branches in other Arab countries. He added that he was willing to investigate every report about the involvement of Hezbollah activists in political crises in the various Arab countries. 7
iii) He also claimed that the Egyptian regime had collaborated with Israel when it closed the Rafah crossing and destroyed the tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza Strip border. Therefore, the Egyptian regime was to be convicted and not Hezbollah. Nasrallah demanded that Egypt allow the tunnel activities to continue because besides arms and operatives, they make it possible for food and drugs to enter the Gaza Strip (“Day and night Egypt works to destroy the tunnels which are the only life-lines which bring the barest necessities into the Gaza Strip”). The accusations brought by the Egyptian regime against Hezbollah were meant to tarnish its image and that of Hamas, and were based on anger at the respect Hezbollah had gained in Egypt and other Arab countries following the second Lebanon war.
11. During Operation Cast Lead Hassan Nasrallah’s attacks against the Egyptian regime were part of Iran ‘s propaganda campaign. On December 28, 2008, Nasrallah gave a speech in the southern suburb of Beirut , a Hezbollah stronghold, devoted mainly to attacks against the policies of the Arab countries, especially Egypt . He called on the Egyptian people to rise up against the regime , which he accused of responsibility for what was happening in the Gaza Strip. He claimed that the Egyptian regime was not required to fight against Israel, but only to open the Rafah crossing so that food, medicine, water and weapons could be brought to the men of the “resistance” [the terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip]. Nasrallah, who at the time was probably aware that Hezbollah’s network had been exposed, called on the millions of Egyptians to take to the streets so as not to be complicit in the “crimes” of the regime. Asking rhetorically whether the Egyptian regime would be able to kill millions of Egyptians, he answered that it would not. He called on the Egyptians to open the Rafah crossing by turning their chests [toward the gunfire of the Egyptian security forces] (Al-Manar TV, December 28, 2008 ).
12. So far, the Iranians are keeping a low media profile regarding the affair in Egypt Ali Larijani , chairman of the Iranian parliament, claimed that the “media storm” raised by Egypt was the result of its desire to influence the elections in Lebanon. He said that Hezbollah was committed to supporting the Palestinians, and claimed that Egypt and other Arab countries were spreading false propaganda against Hezbollah: “The governments are accused of collaborating with Israel in its war in the Gaza Strip [i.e., Operation Cast Lead]. They spread propaganda to restore their status [to what it was before the war]. (Al-Jazeera TV, April 13, 2009)
13. Syrian propaganda was enlisted into defending Hezbollah. In the April 12 issue of Al-Watan , Alwan Amin Al-Din claimed that the Egyptian prosecution and its intelligence were using accusations against Hezbollah which had been prepared in advance. The accusations, he said, quickly turned into political and media attacks which the Egyptian regime was waging against the “Lebanese resistance” (i.e., against Hezbollah and the other terrorist organizations operating in Lebanon ).
14. Hamas has shown itself particularly inconvenienced by the exposure of its ties to Hezbollah, and its senior figures barely relate to the issue. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum denied any connections between Hamas and the affair. He said that Hamas had no information about it beyond what had been reported by the media, adding that no Egyptian official had spoken with Hamas about it (Al-Jazeera TV, April 9, 2009). He also said that Hamas was not involved in the affairs of any country and did not enlist activists or operatives outside the Palestinian territories 8 ( Felesteen , April 11, 2009). Usama Hamdan, Hamas representative in Lebanon , claimed that Hamas would never harm Egypt’s national security 9 and that it focused on “resistance” to the occupation in order to “liberate Palestine” (QudsNews website, April 13, 2009).
1 For an analysis of Iran ‘s support for Hamas, see “ Iranian Support of Hamas” at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/iran_e004.htm , or download the .pdf file at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/iran_e004.pdf . For Arab and Western media reports about preventing Iran ‘s efforts to rebuild Hamas’s military-terrorist infrastructure after Operation Cast Lead, see http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/ipc_e020.pdf .
2 According to the April 12 issue of Al-Ahram , his full name is Muhammad Yussuf Mansour Sami Shihab .
3 The integration of terrorist and criminal activities is characteristic of Hezbollah’s modus operandi in Lebanon and further afield . See, for example, “ Iran increases its political and economic presence in Latin America, America ‘s back yard. It foments radical Shi’ite Islamization and exports the Iranian revolution, using Hezbollah to establish intelligence, terrorism and crime networks, liable to be exploited against the United States and Israel” available in Hebrew and soon available in Hebrew and English.
4 Egypt supports Al-Manar TV broadcasts in the Middle East and beyond by enabling the use of its Nilesat communications satellite.
5 The religious and spiritual center of the Iranian Ayatollas.
6 The “fighters” mentioned by Nasrallah are, in our assessment, Hamas operatives who received training in Iran or Lebanon and Syria and returned to the Gaza Strip with Hezbollah’s logistic aid.
7 Nasrallah’s attempts to represent Hezbollah as a purely Lebanese party are of course untrue. For example, in the past Jordan uncovered attempts by Hezbollah to recruit operatives, especially among Israeli Arabs, and to smuggle weapons to Judea and Samaria . For example, in June 2001 three Hezbollah operatives were captured and detained: they had planned to smuggle 25 Katyusha 107mm rockets into Judea and Samaria . Then as now Hassan Nasrallah represented the smuggling attempt as a justified, legal step taken by Hezbollah to support the Palestinian people. In addition, in recent years Hezbollah has been involved in supporting the Shi’ite militias fighting in Iraq against the United States and its allies, to serve Iranian interests.
8 Also a false claim. In the past Hamas operatives were detained in Jordan . Hamas maintains a presence in Syria and Lebanon , using them for its terrorist activities.
9 Hamas’s contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood are regarded by the Egyptian regime as harmful to its national security.