Mideast: Can Barghouti End the Gaza Impasse?

Marwan Barghouti doesn't get many visitors at his cell in the Haderim prison, a low-slung beige structure located along Israel's coastal plain. So the popular Palestinian leader was a little surprised two weeks ago to see the face of Ephraim Sneh, who until last month was the Jewish state's deputy Defense minister. For years, Israeli interest in Barghouti—currently serving five life sentences—has been mostly confined to a handful of marginal doves. Yet in recent months, as Hamas has gained...

Gaza's Middle Class Flees

Sana Dahman only dared peek out her window at night. The men with guns in the street looked like shadows. In the glow of the flames from the burning city, she could see grenade tubes on shoulders and ski masks on faces. Her neighborhood, like the rest of Gaza City, smelled like smoke. She was trapped in her house and food was running low. A friend tossed a loaf of bread through her window and then dashed away. Before the power failed for the night, she typed Hotmail instant messages to her...

Onscene: Chaos and Desperation in Gaza

There wasn't much left of Mohammed Dahlan's house by the time I stopped by Wednesday morning. The whitewashed villa in Gaza City's lush Remal neighborhood had been torched, robbed and stripped by looters of any loose fixture or ornament of value, including the sewage pipes in the backyard. Children had sketched unflattering charcoal drawings of Dahlan, the reviled founder of the Fatah-controlled Preventive Security apparatus, on the walls upstairs; captions like HE IS A SPY and HAMAS WAS HERE...

Gaza: Powerful Symbol Falls to Hamas

It's difficult to think of a more divisive symbol in Gaza than the Preventive Security headquarters in the center of Gaza City. For Fatah loyalists, the massive, pastel-painted structure was a reminder of the power of the movement once led by Yasir Arafat. Originally created to crack down on Palestinian collaborators with Israel, Preventive Security eventually became known as one of the most efficient of Gaza's myriad security agencies. The elite unit's leaders inspired fierce loyalty among...

Gaza: Fighting Takes Toll on Civilians

As gun battles continue to roil the Gaza Strip this week, militants from Hamas are tightening their grip on power. The Islamists have already taken over several hospitals and a number of key Fatah security installations. In the meantime, more than 50 Gazans have been killed, dozens more wounded. Militiamen executed rivals by throwing them off the roofs of high-rises, and masked gunmen set up checkpoints throughout the territory. Even some aid workers are finding themselves caught in the...

Jerusalem: A Holy City Loses Faith

Moshe Amirav was dreaming about Jerusalem on the morning that he ended up with a bullet in his head. It was June 7, 1967, the climactic offensive of the Six Day War, and Israeli troops were inching closer to the Old City. To the 18-year-old paratrooper, the battlefield looked "apocalyptic"; pillars of black smoke towered above the brilliant gold capital of the Dome of the Rock. But before Amirav could rush with his squadron toward the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism, a chunk...

Israel: Can Olmert Survive Bad War Report?

Israelis began calling for the head of their prime minister, Ehud Olmert, this week, after an interim report of the Winograd Commission, the panel investigating the conduct of last summer's Lebanon war, found "severe failures" in Olmert's handling of the conflict. Labor Party politicians demanded that Olmert resign, and protesters began marching toward Tel Aviv to attend what is expected to be a massive rally on Thursday night in the city's Rabin Square. Even some of the prime minister's Kadima...

Girls: Israel's racy new PR strategy

Jim Malucci has two tattoos, one on each bulging bicep. On the left one, the photographer for Maxim magazine has etched an image of a seductively dressed pinup; on the right, he has stenciled the words GO WITH GOD in Portuguese. He leans on his left arm and points his camera at a model in a bikini on the Tel Aviv beachfront. "That's hot, that's wicked," says Malucci, as the model shifts her hips and parts her lips. "I wanna see the curves. That's it, honey. On your knees, legs apart. Nice arch...

Mideast: Still Waiting for News of Gilad

It has been almost nine months since Palestinian militants crept across the Gaza border and snatched Gilad Schalit, a 19-year-old corporal in the Israeli military. In the aftermath of the kidnapping, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert responded forcefully, sending in tanks and bombing key ministries. But after months of war, Schalit is still missing, and authorities haven't received a sign of life from the soldier in almost six months. Still, news that Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah had agreed to...

Q&A: New Palestinian Finance Minister on Hamas

Salam Fayyad just might have the worst job in the West Bank. After warring Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah reached a power-sharing deal in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, last month, the 55-year-old economist agreed to take over as the new government's finance minister. A former World Bank official who did his graduate studies in Texas, Fayyad —a leader of the Third Way Party—is respected as a reformer by the international community. But he's also stepping in at one of the roughest periods in...

In The End, It's About Family

The Doqmosh family stronghold is a world unto itself in Gaza City's Sabra neighborhood. The road leading in is blocked off with the burned-out hulk of a minibus. Dumpsters filled with sand plug other entryways, warning away unwanted visitors. The streets around the compound are eerily deserted. At first, that seems like a good sign, considering the gun battles that have been raging over the past several months. But just inside, up a crumbling flight of concrete stairs, Tamam Doqmosh is plotting...

An Israeli Ross Perot

Officially it was only a Chanukah party, but the blowout that billionaire Arkady Gaydamak threw a few weeks ago in Tel Aviv was also one hell of a political rally. Hundreds of outsize candles and scores of plasma televisions cast a flickering glow on banks of tulips and orchids that had been flown in for the occasion--as was the evening's star entertainer, Enrique Iglesias. Fashion models in low-cut dresses mingled with septuagenarian rabbis and top-tier politicians like Benjamin Netanyahu. The...

'Six Months Is An Eternity'

The Jewish state has always had to weather its share of political crises. But the current storm is fierce even by Israeli standards. This week the military's chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, resigned after a series of investigations found that the military had mishandled last summer's Lebanon war. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faces 14 percent approval ratings—and now a criminal investigation into his role in the sale of one of Israel's largest banks while he was finance minister. Olmert has...

The Perils of Partnership

the Army has created a small, simulated Iraq intended to make soldiers think they're not in Kansas anymore.Modular trailers have been set up to look like a FOB, or forward operating base, in Iraq. Four "urban clusters"--fake villages with names like Al Amir and Al Hawaej--have been erected. And since July, 11-man squads of U.S. advisers have been going through a crash 60-day training program that is the core of America's effort to draw down its presence in Iraq. The idea: replace the...

Looking, Listening and Decoding

Professional diplomats love to talk about "watching the signals." High-profile meetings— like President Bush's encounter at the White House today with Iraqi Shiite politician Abdul Aziz al-Hakim—seldom result in sweeping policy shifts. But they do send a message, and the "optics" of the event are often more important than the sound-bites that emerge from the press conference afterward. So what signal, exactly, is President Bush trying to send by meeting with Hakim, one of the most revered,...

Is a Moat the Answer?

In search of a creative way to stop militants and weapons smugglers from infiltrating across the Egypt-Gaza border, Israelis are talking about building a six-mile moat filled with Mediterranean seawater along the southern boundary. The plan was first considered seriously in 2000; in 2004 the Defense Ministry even opened bids for construction. But the project was dropped after government legal experts feared it would require destroying hundreds of Palestinian houses along the canal route. Brig....

Winning Hearts and Minds

It's a cliché to say that Islamists are skilled at winning Mideast hearts and minds. But even some Israeli officials acknowledge that they're being outmaneuvered by Hizbullah in the ongoing battle for international public opinion. Remember those made in the u.s.a. banners that sprouted everywhere amid the rubble of southern Lebanon right after this summer's fighting? That was just the opening salvo--and some Israelis worry that they're still not fighting back. "We're simply not there," says...

The Last Word: Walid Jumblatt

As leader of Lebanon's Druze community, walid Jumblatt has long been a key man to see in the nation's political circles. But these days he is a virtual prisoner in his family's castle in Lebanon's Shouf mountains. After a 34-day war with Israel, some Lebanese were writing epitaphs for Jumblatt and his allies in the country's anti-Syrian "March 14" coalition. Jumblatt himself isn't ready to give up just yet, but he fears further assassinations are more likely than ever. Last week he spoke with...

'We Can't Stay Together'

Avigdor Lieberman is one of the most controversial figures in Israeli politics. Critics deride the 48-year-old founder of the far-right Israel Beitenu ("Israel Is Our Home") party as a "racist" and a "fascist" for his proposal to redraw Israel's borders to exclude some Israeli Arab villages. But his popularity is also growing among some segments of the population, particularly among fellow Russian immigrants in the Katyusha-ravaged north. A postwar poll in Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper...

More Than A 'Bump'

At about midnight on July 22, 2002, an F-16 fighter plane dropped a one-ton bomb on the Gaza apartment of Salah Shehadeh, a Hamas militant wanted by the Israeli military. The bomb hit its target, but also left 15 civilians, including 11 children, dead beneath a pile of crumbled concrete. The incident caused a furor in Israel; some pilots later refused to carry out orders for "targeted assassination" missions like the Shehadeh killing. But Air Force Cmdr. Dan Halutz, for one, insisted he lost no...

'Get the Kids and Run'

The sound of the ringing telephone preceded the roar of the rocket by only moments. "Get out of the house as soon as you can," Silvan Elmakias's brother cried over the telephone line. "Get the kids and run."A moment later, a deafening blast—"as if the whole world exploded"—ripped through the garden outside Elmakias's home, near the northern Israeli suburb of Nahariya. Amid the shrieks of his wife and three children, the family tumbled together to the floor. The blast, a rocket launched by...

The Gangs of Gaza

At first, the threats trickling in to the Palestinian intelligence headquarters in Gaza seemed like childish pranks. Operatives chuckled about a Hamas-run Web site featuring a caricature of their boss, intel chief Tareq Abu Rajab: the Islamists had digitally grafted an image of a dog's head onto the Fatah loyalist's body. But then intelligence agents eavesdropping on a Hamas radio frequency intercepted a transmission that seemed deadly serious. "On Friday," a voice crackled in Arabic, "the dog...

A Flight From Genocide

Yassin Adom woke up to the smell of smoke and the thunder of horses galloping through his village of Bora in Sudan's western Darfur region. The 27-year-old engineer and his family fled their home on foot, he says, just ahead of rampaging Janjaweed militiamen. In the hills behind Bora, a Janjaweed man on horseback lifted a Kalashnikov and first gunned down Adom's father, then his cousin and brother. Adom turned and ran, and eventually crossed the border into Egypt. Fearing deportation, he later...

The Last Word--Efraim Halevy: Matters of Intelligence

Few know more about the behind-the- scenes machinations in the Middle East than Israel's notorious Mossad intelligence agency. Of course, the Mossad has inspired its fair share of conspiracy theories as well. As the agency's director from 1998 to 2002, Efraim Halevy was at the center of many of them--from the fallout after an actual botched plot to smear poison on theneck of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, to the apocryphal stories of what the agency knew before September 11. NEWSWEEK's Kevin...

Old Spy, New Tricks

At first glance, Rafi Eitan seems like an unlikely kingmaker. Sure, the former spymaster is something of a legend in Israel, having participated in many of the more-colorful intelligence capers since the founding of the Jewish state. In the 1940s he earned the nickname "Rafi the Stinker" after crawling through a sewage drain during a mission for the Palmach, the early Zionist militia. Then, as a Mossad official in 1960, he directed the team that captured Adolph Eichmann in Argentina. Eitan...

Party Politics

Eyal Arad was beginning to get nervous. Two weeks before yesterday's Israeli election, the Kadima campaign strategist was trying to relax over lunch at the party's Tel Aviv headquarters. His candidate, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, was still expected to lead his party to victory, with Kadima expected to win roughly 37 of 120 seats in Parliament. But in the last weeks of the campaign, Arad had watched apprehensively as Kadima's poll numbers slowly drifted downward. "We're afraid it will be...

'Everything Is Open'

Mahmoud Zahar is an unlikely expert on Israeli politics. In the almost two decades since he helped to found the Islamist group Hamas, Zahar has lived through six Israeli election cycles. But the most important lesson his experience has taught him is that predicting the results is a fool's errand—even in a year when one party seems poised to dominate. "Israeli society is divided into so many parties and sectors," Zahar told NEWSWEEK earlier this week at his Gaza City home. "Even in one party...

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