The Day in Israel: Wed Mar 11th, 2009
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The IAF struck two more smuggling tunnels overnight. A Hamashole reportedly complained of a headache not long after the attack.
Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)
8:58PM: Don’t let their looks fool you. These are not a couple of mental patients, but rather two unrepentant terrorists.
Anis Saffouri (20) of the northern town of Shfaram was convicted Wednesday of multiple conspiracy charges in connection with a plot to murder Israeli pilots and scientists.
Saffouri was convicted of aiding and abetting the enemy, conspiracy to aid the enemy, unlawful affiliation, conspiracy to commit murder and weapons chrages, as part of a plea bargain struck with the State Prosecutor’s Office.
The Northern District Prosecution asked that he be sentenced to 15 years in prison – the maximum sentence in the Penal Code for such offenses.
Saffouri’s accomplice and cousin, Hussam Khalil, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to provide services to an illegal organization.
Saffouri, Khalil and three other men were arrested in August of 2008 by the Shin Bet. They were charged with plotting to assassinate Israeli pilots, scientists and university lecturers by order of the Jamaat al-Islamiya movement, affiliated with Islamic Jihad.
According to the indictment, the cell also plotted to attack soldiers posted at the Attara checkpoint, near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The case and trial were placed under a comprehensive gag order, partially lifted this week.
“The defendant has shown no remorse for his actions, which he state were meant to exert vengeance on Israel for its actions in the Palestinian territories,” said the prosecution in its sentencing request.
“The only remorse he has demonstrated pertained to the fact that he is to be punished for his actions, indicating that he is likely to repeat them.”
The defense, on the other hand, argued that it was Saffouri’s personal circumstances which “led him to be lured into an affiliation with a political movement.” The defense asked the court to apply the minimal mandatory sentence of nine years for similar offenses.
Anis Saffouri’s father, Jamil Saffouri, is one of the suspects implicated in the lynching of Jewish terrorist Edan Nathan-Zada in Shfaram.
Judging by their appearance, I venture to say that they are going to get way more sex where they are heading than they would have otherwise. And in that way, Saffouri’s first name is very appropriate.
8:50PM: Retired Ohio auto worker John Demjanjuk has been charged with 29,000 counts of accessory to murder for his time as a guard at the Nazis’ Sobibor death camp.
8:46PM: Unlucky guy of the day:
A 24-year-old man sustained serious leg injuries after accidentally wandering into a mine field near Beit She’an. The man later fell off the helicopter that was summoned to rescue him, and was killed.
6:35PM: Head Hamashole Ismail Haniyeh has made his first public appearance since deciding to hide his sorry ass during Operation Cast Lead.
And it took meeting up with George Galloway and his fellow terror enablers, not to mention presenting Galloway with his soiled underwear a palestinian passport, to bring Haniyeh out of his wormhole.
Where’s a hellfire missile when you need one?
4:02PM: Earlier today, sirens went off in the Kiryat Shmona area (Northern Israel) in what seems to have been a false alarm.
10:10AM: A short time ago, palestinians fired 2 more rockets into the western Negev.
7:40AM: Hamas has reportedly been trying to prevent rocket fire the past few days, leading it to crack down on its fellow rocket-happy terrorists.
At least 10 Islamic Jihad members have been arrested in the past few days by Hamas’s Internal Security Apparatus on charges of firing rockets at Israel, according to two Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip.
The journalists quoted Islamic Jihad officials as saying that some of the detainees were tortured while being held in a Hamas security installation in Khan Yunis.
The Islamic Jihad men were released after signing documents pledging to refrain from firing rockets at Israel, the journalists said. One Islamic Jihad man who refused to sign the pledge remained in prison, they added.
Here’s hoping this leads to a inter terror organization bloodbath.
6:12AM: Charles “Chas” W. Freeman Jr, President Barack Obama’s controversial pick for Chairman of the National Intelligence Council (the body that prepares US intelligence estimates), has requested his selection not proceed.
And no prizes for guessing who he blames.
To all who supported me or gave me words of encouragement during the controversy of the past two weeks, you have my gratitude and respect.
You will by now have seen the statement by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair reporting that I have withdrawn my previous acceptance of his invitation to chair the National Intelligence Council.
I have concluded that the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office. The effort to smear me and to destroy my credibility would instead continue. I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country. I agreed to chair the NIC to strengthen it and protect it against politicization, not to introduce it to efforts by a special interest group to assert control over it through a protracted political campaign.
As those who know me are well aware, I have greatly enjoyed life since retiring from government. Nothing was further from my mind than a return to public service. When Admiral Blair asked me to chair the NIC I responded that I understood he was “asking me to give my freedom of speech, my leisure, the greater part of my income, subject myself to the mental colonoscopy of a polygraph, and resume a daily commute to a job with long working hours and a daily ration of political abuse.” I added that I wondered “whether there wasn’t some sort of downside to this offer.” I was mindful that no one is indispensable; I am not an exception. It took weeks of reflection for me to conclude that, given the unprecedentedly challenging circumstances in which our country now finds itself abroad and at home, I had no choice but accept the call to return to public service. I thereupon resigned from all positions that I had held and all activities in which I was engaged. I now look forward to returning to private life, freed of all previous obligations.
I am not so immodest as to believe that this controversy was about me rather than issues of public policy. These issues had little to do with the NIC and were not at the heart of what I hoped to contribute to the quality of analysis available to President Obama and his administration. Still, I am saddened by what the controversy and the manner in which the public vitriol of those who devoted themselves to sustaining it have revealed about the state of our civil society. It is apparent that we Americans cannot any longer conduct a serious public discussion or exercise independent judgment about matters of great importance to our country as well as to our allies and friends.
The libels on me and their easily traceable email trails show conclusively that there is a powerful lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired, still less to factor in American understanding of trends and events in the Middle East. The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth. The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors.
There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government – in this case, the government of Israel. I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel. It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so. This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.
The outrageous agitation that followed the leak of my pending appointment will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues. I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government.
In the court of public opinion, unlike a court of law, one is guilty until proven innocent. The speeches from which quotations have been lifted from their context are available for anyone interested in the truth to read. The injustice of the accusations made against me has been obvious to those with open minds. Those who have sought to impugn my character are uninterested in any rebuttal that I or anyone else might make.
Still, for the record: I have never sought to be paid or accepted payment from any foreign government, including Saudi Arabia or China, for any service, nor have I ever spoken on behalf of a foreign government, its interests, or its policies. I have never lobbied any branch of our government for any cause, foreign or domestic. I am my own man, no one else’s, and with my return to private life, I will once again – to my pleasure – serve no master other than myself. I will continue to speak out as I choose on issues of concern to me and other Americans.
I retain my respect and confidence in President Obama and DNI Blair. Our country now faces terrible challenges abroad as well as at home. Like all patriotic Americans, I continue to pray that our president can successfully lead us in surmounting them.
Good riddance to bad rubbish.
6:02AM: According to Likud sources, Likud officials met with senior Syrian figures in January to prepare the ground for further exchanges after Israel’s next government took office.
In the meeting, the officials did not express any willingness to make concessions or withdraw from the Golan Heights, but did promise “not provoke war,” said they were interested in “seriously and genuinely exploring” a peace process, and expressed a willingness to solve the Shaba Farms question and the issue of the village of Ghajar on the Israel-Lebanese border.
Meanwhile, MK Ayoob Kara has reportedly stated he was the Likud official (this report mentions only one official meeting Syrian representatives, not many officials like the Ha’aretz report quoted above), and Prime Minister-Designate Binyamin Netanyahu has denied the trip was carried out on his behalf.
5:46AM: The UN is demanding an explanation from Iran and Syria regarding their involvement with the ship detained off Cyprus in January, which was found to be loaded with explosives believed to be bound for Gaza.
5:42AM: Inspirational video from the “apartheid” State of Israel.