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Shabak Security Chief Diskin: 'Hamas Has No Intention Of Ever Comprising With Israel's Existence - They See It As Either Them Or Us'

'Israel Has Thrown Hamas A Lifeline By Agreeing To Tahadiya Cease-fire'

missile launchers in Gaza

'Hamas has no intention of ever compromising with Israel' - that's the assessment of Shabak security chief Yuval Diskin. In his view, Hamas sees it as 'either them or us!' and there was no place for the Jews in what was the sanctified Muslim land of all Palestine. (Hamas, like its Iranian ally, also calls for Israel's annihilation.) Diskin, who had recommended against the current cease-fire, contended that Israel had thrown Hamas a life-line after Israeli counter-strikes had severely damaged the fundamentalist regime in the Gaza Strip.

The result was that Hamas could be expected to maintain the cease-fire until it had regrouped. This was what Hamas was now doing at full tilt. Its rocket range was being extended; not only the towns of Sderot and Ashkelon would be hit next time but possibly Ashdod and Kiryat Gat. Since Israel's total withdrawal from the Gaza Strip three years ago, the palestinians have smuggled in 220 tons of explosives from Egyptian controlled Sinai.

Weapon smuggling tunnel from Egypt into Gaza

One hundred and seventy-five tons of those explosives came in since Hamas ousted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas from the Gaza Strip in June 2007. And there has been no let-up during the cease- fire. Egypt was failing to keep its commitment to block the smuggling. Diskin said : 'We do not identify any dramatic change. In fact its absurd that a sovereign state, aware of the smuggling networks failed to take effective action'.

When the Egyptians did happen to apprehend any smugglers they were soon set free via the proverbial 'revolving door'. The explosives in Gaza go for producing more Qassam rockets, road-side and the terrorists have also been constructing underground explosive tunnels and mining uninhabited buildings to be detonated in the event of IDF raids. Another reason why Hamas was preserving the cease-fire at present was Palestinian public opinion.

The 'Palestinian street' also wanted a time-out from the ongoing rocketing of Israel that triggered Israeli counter-strikes. In addition, Hamas had been severely mauled by those counter- terror operations in recent months. Now it was being allowed to regroup. The security expert no room for illusions - Hamas mounting strength should not be measured as adding' steps up in a building but rather to adding additional stories'.

In the internecine Palestinian confrontation, the cease-fire had boosted the Hamas image vis-a-vis President Abbas who is conducting peace contacts with Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Hamas has presented the cease-fire as a victory over Israel.

On the positive side, Israeli civilians were enjoying relative quiet except for the sporadic rockets fired occasionally by rogue terrorists. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has argued that the cease-fire will improve the environment for securing the release of abducted IDF soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit. Diskin also declared: 'It is our duty to return Gilad Shalit but not at any price; not if scores of Israelis would be killed in the future as a result'. He recommended a 'sane' exchange and not to free Palestinian political activist Marwan Bourghouti, who is serving five life sentences for his role in murdering Israelis.

Although Diskin ran counter to the government's decision, the Shabak chief said he was obligated to present his professional assessment which in no way affected his integrity in implementing government policy.

BARACK OBAMA IN JERUSALEM: Brilliant, articulate and supremely telegenic, the Democratic presidential candidate displayed all the qualities that have made frontrunner. The Senator was welcomed warmly and reciprocated by expressing his support for Israel and warning of the Iranian nuclear threat. After he left, an Israeli opinion poll showed Israelis favored Obama over the republican's John Mc Cain. But what worries some Israelis is what appears to be Obama's softer line on diplomacy with President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad. If Obama enters the White House in January, it will take several months before he is ready to delve deeply into the Iranian issue. The Europeans have been trying for years to negotiate a deal to stop Tehran from developing nuclear weapons but to no avail. The Iranians are masters of diplomatic deception; by comparison, the North Koreans are considered to be mere amateurs. Time is fast running out. Israeli intelligence forecasts that Iran will pass the point of nuclear no-return late next year or in early 2010. Obviously, if Israel is to try and knock out this threat to its very existence, it will have to do so before the Ayatollahs reach that point. So what if the Iranians drag the U.S. into a drawn out diplomatic dance as they have with the Europeans? On this score, Obama reasons that if Tehran rejects his diplomatic offensive that could justify other action.

On this note, foreign news agencies report that Russia will start supplying its sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft system to Iran in September. This reportedly aroused great concern in Israel and the U.S. because it would pose a serious threat to aircraft attacking Iran's nuclear installations. Although it's estimated that it would take the Iranians six to twelve months to make the S-300 operational, one report said the Russians were already training Iranian personnel. The Israeli newspaper Yisrael Hayom quoted a senior Israeli security official as saying: 'No doubt this system will make it more difficult to carry out an air strike on Iran but there is an answer for every challenge'. And he added that the earlier the Iranians receive the system would give Israel more time to study its deployment and operational capability'.

On his first official visit to Washington, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi did not comment on the speculation that the Israel Air Force is planning such an attack. After meeting with his American counter-part Admiral Mike Mullen and and senior leaders, Gen. Ashkenazi was quoted as saying: 'A diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear threat is preferable but all options are on the table'.

In domestic politics, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has emerged battered and bruised as ever after American business man Morris Talansky again told an Israeli court that he had given Olmert hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit money, some of it in envelopes. Although Olmert's lawyers succeeded in tripping up Talansky's testimony on many of the details, Talansky's allegations are supported by other evidence. Olmert now charges that he is being framed and is trying to delay his further questioning by police arousing the ire of Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz. In addition, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, of Olmert's own Kadima party, has come to the aid of the police and legal authorities; Dichter charged that Olmert's allegations are 'dispicable'. This in a week when Olmert was quoted for branding Foreign Tzipi Livni incompetent and a 'back stabber' for calling on him to resign.
The internal political situation is caught in an Israel 'Catch-22' predicament. The earliest way to oust Olmert is by the Kadmina party leadship primaries in late September. Until then, Olmert stays on as prime minister. Even if the Knesset voted no-confidence or if Olmert handed in his resignation to the prime minister, he would carry on as national leader until a leader could form a government in another five months or so. If Olmert does not go of his own accord, there is one other possible course of action. A recent petition to the Supreme Court calling for a ruling to order Attorney General Mazuz to declare Olmert incapable of carrying on as prime minister in light of the police investigations. However, Mazuz had argued that it was a political and public matter and not in his legal purview.

However, if Olmert refuses to comply with a legal police investigation perhaps the Attorney General may reconsider.

Israel Takes Gold, Silver and Bronze!

The 2008 Olympics have not started yet but Israel has just taken a Gold, Silver and Bronze - no, not in Beijing but at the Madrid International Mathematics Competition. These brain-power Olympics attract brilliant high-school students from around the world.
Gold went to Dan Carmon of the Lod School of Science, Silver was awarded to Offir Gorodotzsky of Ironi High School in Haifa. The Bronze was divided between two other Israelis - Omri Ben Eliezer, also of Haifa Ironi, and Oleg Zelidenko from Beer Sheva High-School. One official said it was extremely rare that four competitors from one country took all the top medals. Five hundred and thirty-five young mathematicians from ninety-seven countries participated.

David Essing

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