Jerusalem, March 9, 2003

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), March 9, 2003:

1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon discussed IDF operations in the wake of the recent terror attacks in which 18 citizens were murdered. The Prime Minister said, "Terror’s main purpose is to kill innocent civilians – men, women, children and babies. The murderous terror attacks, murder for the sake of murder, underscore to us and to the free world, what we are dealing with. Local and global terror is a danger to both Israel and the world, and the world understands this as well. The US, led by President George Bush, is leading the free world in a battle against world terror, organizational terror, and state-sponsored terror. When we see the US’s determination, it is difficult to ignore the feeling, that had the world been led differently in the 1930’s, history would be very different."

2. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz briefed ministers on ongoing security issues.

Defense Minister Mofaz said that after a period of success in thwarting terror attacks, we suffered two painful attacks, one in Haifa and one in Kiryat Arba. Hamas members based in Hebron carried out both attacks.

In addition to these two attacks, two terrorists attempted to perpetrate an attack against the community of Negohot, but they were identified and eliminated.

Defense Minister Mofaz noted that recently, two additional attacks were prevented, one against the community of Hamra in the Jordan Valley, and the second against a convoy on the Karni-Netzarim route.

Defense Minister Mofaz added that following the recent attacks, Israel has detained Hamas terrorists, and destroyed the homes of those involved in the Haifa, Kiryat Arba and attempted Negohot terror attacks. Israel is continuing to apply heavy pressure on terrorist infrastructure, including yesterday’s elimination of Ibrahim Makadma, one of the founders of the Hamas terrorist organization and one of its military leaders, in the Gaza Strip. Makadma’s elimination is a strong blow to the Hamas.

Defense Minister Mofaz also discussed the expected conflict in Iraq and said that the US and the UK were in the final stages of massing their forces, as well as the logistical and operational preparations, ahead of this battle. He added that the timing of the conflict in Iraq was close at hand and would likely begin soon. Israel is continuing with its preparations according to plan and in accordance with daily assessments of the situation.

The defense establishment is recommending that the civilian population continue its preparedness in accordance with IDF Home Front Command guidelines, as contained in the booklet that has been distributed to all households. Further instructions regarding civilian preparedness will be issued as necessary.

3. OC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze’evi (Farkash) briefed ministers on the expected conflict in Iraq, including its anticipated effects and consequences on countries in the region.

4. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom briefed ministers on diplomatic steps related to the aforementioned conflict including the UN Security Council discussions on the amended draft resolution which has been tabled by the US, UK and Spain.

5. In accordance with the campaign against terror, the Cabinet has decided to declare that the Indonesian-based organization known as Jemaah Islamiah – along with all its members – as a terrorist organization. Jemaah Islamiah has thousands of members and tens of thousands of supporters. It advocates the imposition of Sharia law on Indonesia, as well as the creation of a united Islamic regime in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. In the early 1980’s, the organization’s leaders began cultivating ties with other Islamic organizations and sending members for military training in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In the latter half of the 1990’s, the organization strengthened its military wing and its presence in Indonesia. It also began to strengthen its links with Al-Qaeda, headed by Osama Bin-Laden (both of which/whom have been outlawed as a terrorist organization and a terrorist, respectively, in Israel). Jemaah Islamiah serves as Al-Qaeda’s main branch vis-a-vis the perpetrating of terrorist acts in Southeast Asia. After the Sept 11, 2001 attacks, Jemaah Islamiah attempted to perpetrate a series of terrorist attacks against western targets in Southeast Asia, and was responsible for the Oct 12, 2002 attack on the Indonesian island of Bali. Jemaah Islamiah has also participated in the gathering information for, and planning of, terrorist attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets in Southeast Asia and Australia.