The targeted assassination Tuesday of Hezbollah’s top military officer believed responsible for a series of high-profile terrorist attacks that killed hundreds — including the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Argentina and the 2006 kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers — is a “major setback” for that organization, according to an Israeli terrorism expert.
Israel was to begin cutting back electricity to the Gaza Strip late this week in addition to reducing fuel and food shipments in an effort to pressure the Hamas government there to end rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. But there was a growing belief that a full-scale Israeli invasion of Gaza might be the only effective way to end the attacks.
“It seems to me to be only a matter of time,” said Yitzhak Reiter of the Harry S Truman Center for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Israel’s surprise air strike in Syria Sunday on what it described as a Palestinian terrorist training camp may not be the last, Israeli officials warned this week as they pursued a new way to halt terror attacks that claimed another 19 Israeli lives at a restaurant in Haifa last weekend.
Israelis returned to work after the Passover holiday to learn of a failed terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, contradictory information regarding a prisoner swap, unconfirmed reports that an Israeli Arab Knesset member has fled the country to avoid arrest, and of Iranian boasts of nuclear progress. And the thread tying together all four seemingly unrelated events is Iran and its quest to control the Middle East.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s dramatic invitation Sunday to “all Arab leaders, including the Saudi king” to come to Israel to negotiate an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict followed what some analysts viewed as positive signs coming from last week’s Arab summit. But others dismissed Olmert’s invitation as less than substantive and argued that the Arabs did nothing more than restate an earlier ultimatum to Israel.
Just days before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s scheduled arrival in Israel Saturday night, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced a series of moves to bolster the Palestinian Authority, including the deployment of another 600 Palestinian policemen and approving permits for thousands of Palestinians to work in Israel.
The issuance of work permits is a major change in Israeli policy, according to Yitzhak Reiter, a professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
In an escalation of tensions between academics in England and Israel over Israeli treatment of Palestinians, the Anti-Defamation League is considering a call for a “counter boycott” of British universities after British university teachers announced a boycott of two Israeli universities, Bar-Ilan and Haifa.
Also, an adviser to the rector of Bar-Ilan University said he is recommending that the Israeli government and academicians ask American universities to suspend all relations with British universities.
The Israeli government may delay its unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip for three weeks not only to avoid a conflict with the observance of Tisha b’Av, but also to undermine Hamas’ expected success in local Palestinian elections, according to a prominent Israeli analyst.
The Israeli government’s announcement this week that 3,500 new homes would be built in the West Bank to bridge the gap between East Jerusalem and the settlement of Maale Adumim is being seen as fulfilling the Sharon government’s goal of strengthening its hold on that area.