Suicide Attack Reminder that Lull Was Deceiving, Olmert Says

Amnon Maranda; Attila Somfalvi

Suicide Attack Reminder that Lull Was Deceiving, Olmert Says

‘In recent weeks we thwarted many attacks,’ PM says; right-wing Knesset members call for halt in transfer of arms to Fatah; ‘I hope attack will bring sanity back to all those who call for negotiating with Hamas, strengthening Abbas,’ MK Eldad says



Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that the deadly suicide bombing attack in Eilat, the first in Israel since April last year, is a reminder that the eight-month-long period of calm had been deceiving.

“In recent weeks we thwarted many attacks, and this has not been always reported,” said the prime minister, who recently ordered the transfer of USD 100 million in frozen tax funds to the Palestinian Authority.

Right-wing Knesset Member Arieh Eldad (National Union –NRP) said he hoped the attack would “bring sanity back to all those who call for negotiating with Hamas and strengthening (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas.

Likud MK Yisrael Katz called on the government to immediately stop the transfer of arms to Fatah, saying “The attack in Eilat serves as a warning sign to those who believe in the ceasefire with the Palestinians.

“The government is permitting the flow of arms to (Fatah strongman) Mohammad Dahlan and his associates instead of dismantling the terror infrastructure,” he said.

‘Reminder of What One Free Terrorist Can Do’

Meanwhile, the Almagor Terror Victims Association released a statement calling on Olmert to “reverse the promise made to Egypt to release terrorists who were caught infiltrating Israel with weapons and cease all negotiations on the release of terrorists.

“The attack is a reminder of what one free terrorist can do,” the group said.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz ruled out reports that al-Qaeda had a hand in Monday’s deadly suicide bombing attack in Eilat.

“For a long period we succeeded in thwarting attacks like these. These are extremists groups who want to end the ceasefire. Estimates that the al-Qaeda was behind the attack are apparently not true, but I say so with reservations,” he said.

Almagor Petitions High Court to Block IDF Chief Appointment

Almagor Petitions High Court to Block IDF Chief Appointment

Israel National News


The Almagor association of terror-victim organizations filed a petition Sunday asking the High Court of Justice to block the appointment of a new IDF Chief of General Staff until the Winograd Report is released in early March.

Attorney Naftali Werzberger filed the petition on behalf of the organization, saying, ?“Appointment of a chief of staff now means ignoring the conclusions of the committee that have not yet been published.?”

The government-appointed Winograd Commission is charged with investigating the mismanagement of last summer?’s war in Lebanon. Outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz began his testimony before the commission Sunday morning.

High Court: Appoint Chief of Staff Before War Report

Aviram Zino

High Court: Appoint Chief of Staff Before War Report

Justices reject petitions demanding not to appoint chief of staff until Winograd Commission finishes it work. ‘In a security reality in which the State of Israel is today, it is unfit for IDF to function without a full-time chief of staff,’ Justice Beinish writes



High Court justices rejected Monday petitions issued by the Movement for Quality Position and the Almagor Terror Victims Association against appointing a new chief of staff before the Winograd Commission, which is investigating the failures of the second Lebanon war, finishes its work.

The High Court decision and the Tirkel Commission’s decision today to authorize Gaby Ashkenazi’s appointment to chief of staff paves the way for the 19th IDF chief of staff to take position.

The Movement for Quality Government and Almagor petitioned the High Court, claiming that the appointment of a new chief of staff is extremely unreasonable and necessitates the court’s intervention since the candidates for replacing Dan Halutz are involved in the Winograd Commission’s investigation.

In addition, they claimed that the commission is examining the personal responsibility of the heads of the political echelons such that it is unreasonable that they be responsible for such making such a fateful decision before the Winograd Commission submits its findings.

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish wrote in her ruling that appointing a chief of staff before the Winograd Commission publishes its conclusions is a reasonable appointment. Beinish also wrote, “In the security reality in which the State of Israel finds itself today, it is unfit for the IDF to function without a full-time chief of staff, and there is no reason for the court to intervene.”

It was also written in the ruling: “The fighting that took place in the north was indeed difficult and painful, and the question of the responsibility of the political and defense echelons is currently being examined by the Winograd Commission. However, the responsibility for the State’s security rests on the shoulders of the ruling administration.”

During the court discussion, the petitioners brought up the claim that the appointment of a permanent chief of staff is likely to affect the considerations of the Winograd Commission.

Justice Beinish criticized this claim in her ruling, writing, “It would have been best had this claim not been brought forth at all. The commission is strong enough to do its work professionally, and without any diversion.”

Israel: No Progress on Swap Deal; Hamas, Fatah Renew Abductions

Avi Issacharoff; Aluf Benn; Nadav Shragai

Israel: No Progress on Swap Deal; Hamas, Fatah Renew Abductions



Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh yesterday accused Israel of holding up a deal to release abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in return for Palestinian prisoners. While Palestinian sources have expressed optimism in recent days over an imminent deal, Haniyeh, who met Sunday with Saudi King Abdullah, told the Palestinian news agency Ramatan that Israel is dragging out the negotiations because it does not care about ending the prisoners’ suffering.

Hamas parliamentary leader Salah al-Bardawil, however, reconfirmed to Haaretz that the talks “are progressing in the right direction, toward completing the deal soon.”

Israeli sources said yesterday that there was no progress on a prisoner exchange. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert held a meeting with his special envoy on the issue, Ofer Dekel, and other officials. They emphasized there that Israel has no intention of complying with Hamas’ demands that large numbers of Palestinian prisoners be released.

Olmert is scheduled to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. They will discuss the prisoner release, among other issues.

The Terror Victims’ Association, meanwhile, has warned that a deal for Shalit’s release could come at the price of new victims if the Palestinian prisoners return to terror activities. The organization issued a list of incidents in which Israeli civilians were killed and injured by Palestinians released under various circumstances.

Last week, relatives of terror victims met with Public Security Minister Roni Bar-On to protest the “Shalit deal.” The meeting was initiated by Dr. Aryeh Bachrach, whose son Ohad was murdered by terrorists in Wadi Kelt in 1995, and Yehoshua Herling, whose father, Rabbi Binyamin Herling, was killed on Mt. Eival in 2000.

Tensions Flare in Gaza

Tensions between rival Palestinian factions flared in the northern Gaza Strip yesterday as 12 Hamas militants and four Fatah men were abducted. The incidents followed a lull of more than a week.

The incident began when a Hamas military patrol neared the home of a Fatah military commander, Samih al-Madhun, in the Beit Lahiya area. Madhun’s guards opened fire on the patrol and abducted one of the Hamas members, setting off a series of reciprocal kidnappings. Two Palestinians were wounded by gunfire.

In a separate incident earlier yesterday, a Peruvian photographer working for Agence France-Presse was kidnapped in Gaza City. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the abduction of Jaime Razuri, 50. Palestinian security sources said Razuri was hustled into a car by five masked men as he was standing at an intersection outside the newswire’s office in the city.

The Tel Aviv-based Foreign Press Association, which represents foreign journalists in Israel and the PA, condemned the kidnapping.

“We utterly condemn the continued harassment of journalists in this way. We must be allowed to work freely and without fear of kidnapping in Gaza,” the FPA said in a statement.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ office said in a statement that Abbas condemned the kidnapping and had called for all Palestinian security forces to search for and free the man.

The Israel Defense Forces banned Israeli journalists from entering Gaza more than six weeks ago due to security warnings.