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Special Alert – 18 June 2008

Dear Advocates,

The Israel Advocacy Network works on many levels, the most active of which is to alert advocates of important issues facing Israel and how they are presented in the media.

Another one of its functions is to host speakers that are specifically targeted to an advocacy audience. To this end, I am very pleased to invite you to a very special Israel Advocacy session with two top international presenters – Nimrod Barkan and Nir Boms – next Thursday evening 26 June at 8pm at Beth Weizmann.

Nimrod Barkan is a career diplomatic in the Israeli Foreign Service who heads the Foreign Ministry Centre for Policy Research and is in Australia as a guest of the Israeli Embassy.

Nir Boms is a research fellow at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), a member of the Board of the Centre for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, and is in Australia as a guest of Limmud Oz.

This is a rare opportunity to hear from two leading experts in the field of security and advocacy. This is the first Israel Advocacy Session we have held in a while, and it would be fantastic to see as many of you there as possible.

Click here for more details. 

In other news, a ceasefire with Hamas that has been brokered by Egypt is apparently expected to go into effect at 6am Thursday Israeli time (1:00pm AEST). However, reports are mixed from the Israeli side. Ynet is reporting that Defence Minister Ehud Barak has stated that “we are currently examining the possibility of reaching a truce in the near future – but it’s too early to announce it”. Meanwhile Haaretz is reporting that Egypt and Hamas have announced that the ceasefire will go into effect at 6am on Wednesday but that Israel is yet to officially confirm the information.

Details of the ceasefire include:
1. A complete cessation of terrorist activity in Gaza and Israeli military operations on Thursday.
2. After three days of calm, Israeli will slightly ease the blockage on Gaza and open up the crossings to allow in vital humanitarian supplies. (Click here to read about Israel’s ongoing facilitation of the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, despite being under constant attack from there)
3. If the cease-fire lasts, Israel will further ease restrictions at cargo crossings.
4. Final stages of the truce may include Israeli negotiator Ofer Dekel travelling to Cairo to begin intensive negotiations with Hamas, via Egypt, for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
5. If progress is made, Israel may consider reopening the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

Security officials have warned that other Palestinian terror factions may try to sabotage the deal by carrying out a terrorist attack just before the deal, which may force Israel to respond. This comes following reports that the IAF killed 6 terrorists in a strike on Gaza, including men from terrorist group the Army of Islam, who were responsible for the kidnap of Gilad Shalit, as well as BBC journalist Alan Johnson last year. According to security officials, the terror cell “was in the midst of planning a massive attack to sabotage truce efforts”.

News of the truce has also reached the online versions of our local papers with ‘Israel, Hamas agree to truce’ from and ‘Israel and Hamas reach Gaza truce deal’ from The Age, so perhaps we will have more information in the newspapers tomorrow.

Meanwhile, as a renewed negotiation regarding Gilad Shalit looms, there has been reports that a deal regarding the return of abducted Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev could come as early as Friday or Sunday. In an article from the Jerusalem Post, Eldad Regev’s father Tzvi, who has been in contact with negotiator Ofer Dekel, stated that according to Dekel “there are negotiations and there would be a deal”. At the time he believed that Dekel was in Germany working on a deal.

The deal would supposedly comprise of a prisoner exchange of Goldwasser and Regev for Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, who has been serving four life sentences in an Israeli jail for the 1979 murder of four Israelis.

The article continues that Hezbollah has neither confirmed nor denied the report.

Nevertheless, Ehud Goldwasser’s mother has shot down the reports, claiming that it is just a rumour that began in Lebanon and that “we are in the dark exactly as we have been for two years”.

Click here to read an analysis entitled ‘Hezbollah’s price to return soldiers is not impossibly high’, which goes into detail about facts surrounding a possible deal, including the fact that Samir Kuntar has been used in past negotiations as a bargaining chip for information about MIA pilot Ron Arad, and what this means in regards to any current deals.

Sadly, the families of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser have not received any sign of life from their sons during the 707 days that they have been in captivity, and if a deal does go ahead, they are not even sure in what form they would be returned. One can only hope that in both instances – the negotiations with Hamas and with Hezbollah – that the families receive some sense of closure.

I will keep you updated with news of the truce as more information comes through.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you all next Thursday.

Best wishes,


Emily Chrapot
Research Officer
State Zionist Council of Victoria
9272 5507