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Report: Israeli Agents Training Kurdish Commandos


In the June 30th edition of The New Yorker, Seymour M. Hersh reports that Israeli intelligence and military operatives are now training Kurdish commando forces in Kurdistan, running covert operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria.

While Mark Regev, the spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington denied the accuracy of the story, The New Yorker reports members of the team operating in Kurdistan include Mossad agents. The magazine also quotes a CIA source as confirming the report regarding Israeli operatives.

Palestinians Wary of Egypt's Role in Gaza

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem)

Palestinian militant groups are publicly opposing the role Egypt may play in providing security in the Gaza Strip, when Israel withdraws from the area.

Major Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, say they are dismayed about the possible security role certain Arab parties may play in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The complaint is clearly aimed at Egypt and Jordan and, in effect, accuses both countries of an attempt to take over the Palestinian problem and of doing Israel's bidding.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he has found no real Palestinian partner to make peace and, therefore, has no choice but to take unilateral action. He has proposed to dismantle Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four small settlements in the West Bank by the end of 2005. Israel has been in close contact with Egyptian officials about helping to ensure security in the Gaza Strip after the Israelis pull out. Cairo has indicated a willingness to do so and to send military experts to Gaza to retrain Palestinian security forces.

The Palestinian Authority has welcomed the Egyptian offer of help, but Yasir Arafat has yet to agree to all the details. Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman is due to meet again this week with Israeli and Palestinian officials to discuss the issue. Jordan has also been tapped as a possible security guarantor in parts of the West Bank.

Palestinian political analyst, Mehdi Abdelhadi of the PASIA research center, said militants are concerned about such developments and their message to the Arabs is clear. "We are not looking for Arabs to protect the Israelis from us or to separate the Israelis from us. Either you join us in confrontation or join us in negotiations, but not that you sit in our seat and take over the lead with the Israelis in our absence."

Terrorist groups are jockeying for position in Gaza if and when the Israelis pull out, but Abdelhadi said it is not just the militants who are worried. He said during the past few days other Palestinian groups and activists have held meetings in Gaza and the West Bank. They have expressed increasing concern that Israel is deliberately looking for Arab partners to impose a solution on the Palestinian conflict without dealing with the Palestinians themselves.

Netanyahu Denies Statements in Clinton's Book

By & Ha'aretz

Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has denied reports appearing in former President Bill Clinton's autobiography concerning his tenure as prime minister. Netanyahu stated that contrary to Clinton's statements, he never agreed to give away the Golan Heights in exchange for a defense agreement with America, adding Clinton or members of his administration were never involved in Israel's secret talks with Syrian President el-Assad.

And Clinton reportedly unsuccessfully tried to dissuade Ariel Sharon from visiting the Temple Mount in September 2000, the former U.S. president revealed in his autobiography, "My Life," which was published Tuesday.

Clinton wrote that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat told him that he had asked then-prime minister, Ehud Barak, to block the visit, and the former president also contacted Barak with a similar request. The former president explained that he feared the visit could spark violent protests by the Palestinians, claiming that Barak rejected the request, since he could not stop the leader of the opposition from visiting the sensitive site.

In other parts of the book, Clinton blamed the continuation of the Middle East conflict squarely on Arafat, saying the Palestinian leader made a "colossal mistake" in refusing peace terms four years ago when both sides were so close. Clinton recounted how the Palestinian appeared confused and ill-informed at times in their crucial Camp David talks in July of 2000 that ended when "again, Mr. Arafat said no."

Clinton said Sharon, who was foreign minister when the two first met, was not without sympathy for the Palestinian cause, even if he balked at any territorial concessions, but stressed that Arafat was unmovable throughout. "I shut down the talks, it was frustrating and profoundly sad," Clinton wrote, adding that at the time, "there was little difference between the two sides. It was hard to know why he had moved so little. I still didn't believe Arafat would make such a colossal mistake."

IDF Raids Photo Exhibit of Soldiers Who Served in Hebron

By Ha'aretz

The Israel Defense Force's Military Police on Tuesday raided the "Breaking the Silence" exhibit of photographs taken by Nahal Brigade soldiers during their military service in Hebron, confiscating a folder containing the clips of articles about the exhibit and a videotape with statements made by some 70 soldiers about their experiences in the West Bank city.

The four reservist soldiers who initiated and organized the exhibit were also summoned to interrogations Wednesday by Military Police. The army said the raid was meant to uncover evidence of violence and vandalism done to Palestinians and their property. The reservists who organized the show said the army was trying to intimidate and silence those soldiers who gave evidence about brutality in Hebron and to silence any other soldiers who planned to give evidence about what they have seen take place in that city.

Micha Kurtz, one of the exhibit's organizers, said Tuesday, "We anticipated that the army would send the chief education officer or maybe even the Judge Advocate General to learn from the soldiers' evidence, because our main message was that every soldier age 18 is going to encounter such situations.

"But instead, they sent the MPs," said Kurtz. "They are trying to frighten us and other soldiers who have expressed readiness to take part in the project," he said, accusing the army of preferring to repress criticism rather than learn from the evidence and testimony that was part of the exhibit. "The MPs, for example, didn't take the 60 sets of car keys that were illegally confiscated from Palestinians by soldiers in Hebron. In fact, the IDF continues to deny the fact those keys were taken in the first place."

The IDF Spokeswoman's office explained Tuesday that "The IDF educates its soldiers to behave according to moral standards in complex situations that include very difficult moral dilemmas. In the wake of reports quoting the participants in the exhibit about alleged crimes of violence and damage to property against Palestinians, the Judge Advocate General ordered a Military Police probe of the complaints. The MPs gave the exhibit's organizers a court order requiring them to hand over all the material that could help the inquiry and a summons to provide evidence and testimony to the investigators."

The exhibit opened this month at the Tel Aviv Geographic Film School. It includes photographs taken by soldiers who served in Hebron whether as reservists or as conscripts. Many of the photographs were hung anonymously, without naming the photographer. The soldiers gave their images to photographer Miki Kratzman, who curated the show. Sixty of the 90 photos record aspects of the conflict with the Palestinians and settlers, and 30 depict the soldiers in their daily routines. Next week, the exhibit will go up at the Knesset.

Tenth Yahrtzeit of Lubavitcher Rebbe


Tuesday, the third day of the Jewish month of Tammuz, was the 10th anniversary of the death of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who is widely viewed as one of the most important Jewish leaders in modern times. Biographies, journalistic insights, video recollections, public calls by leading rabbis and more about the Rebbe can be seen at

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