Reacting to comments widely interpreted as Hamas’s retraction of a purported endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama, a spokesman for the terrorist group clarified to this column that he was specifically referring to the Democratic presidential nominee’s pro-Israel speech last week.
In a speech last week, Obama told the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee he would ensure Israel’s “qualitative military advantage” in the Middle East. The Illinois senator also said he supports Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, although he later backtracked and said he supports a negotiated settlement on Jerusalem.
Following Obama’s speech to AIPAC, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told a Reuters reporter in Gaza that “Obama’s comments have confirmed that there will be no change in the U.S. administration’s foreign policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
Zuhri’s statements were used by U.S. media outlets in articles claiming Hamas had “unendorsed” Obama.
But Zuhri clarified his remarks to WorldNetDaily: “I was responding to the speech. We deal with statements and not motivations. Right now Obama’s statements prove he is like other American presidents and won’t bring any change.”
The Hamas “endorsement” of Obama referenced by media came from an interview with this reporter in April in which Ahmed Yousef, Hamas’s chief political adviser in Gaza, said he “hopes” Obama becomes president and compared the Illinois senator to President John F. Kennedy.
Syria Ramping Up Missile Inventory
With aid from Iran, Syria has been rapidly acquiring Russian missiles, including laser-guided missiles capable of striking the entire Jewish state, informed Egyptian and Jordanian security officials told WND. The officials said some of the new missiles are capable of carrying non-conventional warheads.
According to the officials, Syria in recent weeks updated its arsenal of advanced missiles with Russian Iskander rockets, which have a range of 173 miles, and also upgraded Russian Scud-D missiles, with a range that can cover the entire Jewish state.
The security officials said both the Iskanders and new Scud missiles were fitted with a laser guidance system capable of striking specific targets. They said the projectiles, some of which can be fitted with non-conventional warheads, were purchased from Russia with partial financing from Iran.
The Egyptian and Jordanian officials consider the new missile purchases to be defensive in nature.
Israeli security officials said in addition that Syria continues to ship arms, rockets and missiles to the Lebanese Hizbullah terrorist organization even as Israel-Syria talks proceed.
The information concerning new missile weaponry comes as Syria and Israel hold indirect negotiations ultimately aimed at some Israeli retreat from the Golan Heights, the strategic, mountainous territory looking down on Israeli population centers.
Israeli security officials noted that since Israeli-Syrian talks were made public, Syrian President Bashar Assad has fielded numerous calls from European officials and was invited to visit France next month.
“Just because Israel is dancing with Assad, this opened the doors to him in Europe,” said one security official.
U.S. Presses For Roadblock Removal
An Israel Defense Force decision this week to remove 10 roadblocks from the southern part of Hebron was made under pressure from the U.S., defense sources said. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had requested that U.S. security coordinators monitor Israeli pledges to her to remove specific roadblocks and checkpoints throughout the West Bank in order to ease Palestinian travel.
Defense officials here strongly opposed the roadblock removals, saying the obstacles impede the mobility of terrorists. The majority of West Bank roadblocks were established in the late 1990’s following repeated terrorist attacks from the territory.
In April, Israel removed a series of anti-terror roadblocks, reportedly under heavy pressure from Rice. Within hours of the removal of one of the roadblocks, a knife-wielding Palestinian attempted to attack two Jews near the area of the removed roadblock. Israeli lawmakers charged that the attacks were a result of the roadblocks being removed.
Zionism Prize Awarded
At a time when the legitimacy of Israel seems increasingly under siege, a U.S. Jewish philanthropist last week awarded $100,000 to individuals who offer major contributions to Zionism.
Miami doctor Irving Moskowitz initiated the annual Moskowitz Prize for Zionism, which awards grants to people who further the cause of Zionism, the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and maintenance of Jewish sovereignty in Israel.
This year’s prize was awarded to Rabbi David Fendel, head of the Hesder yeshiva in Sderot; Moshe ‘Moshko’ Moshkowitz, the builder of Gush Etzion; and Brig. Gen. (res.) Ran Pecker-Ronen
Founder of the ‘Tzahala’ project, which recruits army officers to the forefront of social involvement with Israel’s youth.
Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the recently published book “Schmoozing with Terrorists.”