Israel: November 22, 1999



Hezbollah fighters attacked Israeli positions in southern Lebanon. Two were injured. Later that day,  Israel made an air attack on suspected Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon. 

November 21; Jordan exiled four Hamas leaders to Qatar. Jordan cracked down on Hamas for trying to launch operations against Israel from Jordan. Hamas had been allowed to operate in Jordan as long as they kept their activities political. Hamas is now banned, for the moment, from operating in Jordan.

November 21; Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto, a former Israeli Air Force colonel and now a member of parliament, has issued a study showing that Israel would need an extra $80 billion in foreign aid over 10 years (plus $5 billion per year thereafter) as compensation for giving up the Golan Heights. [Tsiddon-Chatto is part of the faction opposed to giving up the heights, and some believe that his figures are exaggerated for shock value. It must be conceded, however, that Israel will bear serious additional costs if it gives up the heights, and the lowest estimates are at least half of those of Tsiddon-Chatto.] His estimated costs include: $10 billion to relocate settlements and military bases and build new ones. $6 billion for two new squadrons of advanced multi-role aircraft specifically assigned to go after Syrian missile batteries. $5 billion for two new divisions, each with 250 Merkava-IV tanks and 250 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, to provide a hard frontline defense since Israel will give up the tactical advantage and strategic depth of the heights. Keeping these troops on active duty indefinitely will increase the maintenance costs. $3 billion for a brigade of 100 Apache attack helicopters in four battalions of 25 each to provide support for the tank divisions. $3 billion for two more batteries of Arrow anti-ballistic missiles. The Likud block wants these two batteries, which would bring the total to four or five, regardless of what happens to the Golan Heights. $2 billion for five airborne early warning aircraft (E-2Cs or equivalent) to maintain continuous coverage over Syrian airspace. $2 billion for additional support units (artillery, engineers, unmanned aerial vehicles, ordnance, and service units) to support the two new divisions, two new brigades, and two new squadrons. $1 billion for a new airmobile anti-tank missile brigade along with 20 CH-53 Heavy Lift Helicopters to move them around. $1 billion for new intelligence systems (ground-based and aerial electronic eavesdropping systems) to detect a Syrian attack before mobilization. $50 billion to operate the above systems for 10 years, plus $5 billion per year thereafter.

All of the Israelis agree that there is no real substitute for the strategic depth provided by the Golan Heights, and that whatever new military systems are used will never really compensate for the loss. The US has refused to comment on the $83 billion figure, but notes that whenever a peace deal is reached, it will require funding from the US, European Union, and Arab League. The idea of the Arab League paying for Israeli tanks is unlikely to fly, but the US hopes that they will provide funding for trade initiatives to cement a peace pact. Funding is a contentious issue; Congress recently refused to honor a promise by President Clinton to provide another $1.8 billion in aid for the Israelis and Palestinians as part of the Wye Accords. What the Israelis want is "full peace for full withdrawal". This includes a sharp reduction in the Syrian Army, a huge demilitarized zone inside Syria, and "normal relations" which mean that Israeli citizens and companies can set up offices, own property, and do business inside Syria. The Syrian idea of peace is that no conflict takes place; they have no interest in doing commercial business with the Israelis. Israeli hardliners (and some historians) note that the Golan Heights were originally part of the British Mandate for Palestine and were (by the Balfour Declaration) to be part of Israel. The British and French, however, agreed to transfer the heights to French Syria without consulting the Arabs or Israelis. The Israelis insist that Syria used the heights to shell Israeli farms and for a war of aggression, and do not morally deserve to get the territory back. Israel annexed it in 1981 but no one recognizes this annexation. The Syrians insist that during the conflicts of the late 40s and the 50s, they were shelling only those Israeli farms built on land confiscated from Palestinians living there before 1948. The Israelis note that the Palestinians in question fled the area when told to do so by the Mufti of Jerusalem, and that Jews expelled by Syria from 1948-56 (not to mention the Jews expelled from the rest of the Arab world in the same period) had their property confiscated by Arab governments. --Stephen V Cole

November 20; Some 500 Palestinian students demonstrated in the West Bank for the release of the 2,000 Palestinians held prisoner in Israel. Four Palestinians were injured.

November 20; King Abdullah of Jordan has cracked down on Hamas, closing its offices and arresting its leaders. Jordanian officials said that Hamas had violated the "gentleman's agreement" not to launch violent attacks from Jordanian soil. The organization had engaged in military training and had stockpiled weapons for attacks on Israel. --Stephen V Cole

November 18; The US is allowing Israel to buy 700 of their latest smart bombs for $65,000 each. The weapon in question is the JDAM, which is a one ton bomb with a GPS guidance kit attached. This gives the bomb a 24 kilometer range, and pinpoint accuracy. Israel would be the first foreign nation to get the JDAM (and improved version of the smart bombs used during the Gulf War.)


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