Israeli News: A Daily Analysis
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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

February 26, 2008 Supreme Court Ok's Katzav Plea Agreement-Missile Defense for Sderot?

Today the Israeli Supreme Court rejected attempts at blocking the plea agreement that was reached between former President Katzav and the prosecutor's office. The agreement reduced the charges and ensured that Katzav would not receive any jail time. Many people objected to Katzav getting off so lightly. On the other side, Katzav's lawyer said he may not finalize the agreement because the prosecutor's office has stated it is going to insist on what is called Shemua. This is the technical term that would not allow Katzav to hold any public office. KatzavĂ­s lawyer was absolutely categorical in his statement; however, I think he was trying to scare the prosecutor to agree to remove this condition, since at this point it will be difficult for the prosecutor to go forward with a prosecution.

Lawyers for Sderot residents went to court today and demanded that the army deploy the Nautilus defense system for the city. The Nautilus is a laser based short range missile defense system that Israel jointly developed with an American company. The system was successful in tests, but was abandoned for budgetary reasons when the first Intifada began. The system has a major problem in that it is not mobile and is based on old laser technology. It was supposed to follow on system developed called Skyguard, but that system was never finished. It uses less power and was supposed to be mobile. In the meantime Israel has invested heavily on a system developed by [Israeli] Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. That system, called Iron dome, is a missile system designed to intercept incoming missiles. The problem with the system is that it takes almost 30 seconds to intercept. Sderot is too close to Gaza for the method to succeed.

The expected demonstration by tens of thousands of Gazans to try to possibly breach the border fizzled today when only a few hundred or at most a thousand people showed up.  Interestingly, an Israeli Channel 10 correspondent who in the past had stated that he doubts anything that Israel is doing would affect Hamas' popularity, today admitted to changing his mind.  He stated that Hamas is now hated by most of the people of Gaza, who all complain about the situation that Hamas has brought them.  He claims that the huge demonstrations that we have seen on behalf of Hamas represent people who come to demonstrate out of fear.  The problem: Hamas is now effectively a fascist state and just because it is unpopular does not mean that anyone will dare try to overthrow it.