More destruction, more civilian deaths.
More destruction, more civilian deaths.
JERUSALEM – Israel threatened “harsh and disproportionate” retaliation after Gaza militants fired at least 10 rockets and mortar shells across the border Sunday and warplanes later bombed the area where Hamas smuggles in weapons from Egypt through tunnels.
The flare-up raised the risk of growing violence in the days leading up to Israel’s parliamentary elections on Feb. 10.
Since an unwritten truce ended Israel’s offensive in Gaza two weeks ago, rocket and mortar fire from the Palestinian territory ruled by Hamas has increased steadily. Israeli retaliation, including brief ground incursions and bombings of rocket launchers and smuggling tunnels, is also intensifying.
“If there is shooting at residents of the south, there will be an Israeli response that will be harsh and disproportionate by its nature,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his Cabinet.
Israel launched its three-week offensive with the aim of ending years of Hamas rocket fire at southern Israel. It left nearly 1,300 Palestinians dead, more than half of them civilians, according to Gaza officials. Thirteen Israelis were killed, including three civilians.
A late afternoon mortar barrage on the southern Israeli village of Nahal Oz, next to the Gaza border fence, wounded two soldiers and a civilian, the military and rescue services said. Earlier, a rocket landed near a kindergarten, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Late Sunday, Palestinians reported huge explosions as Israeli warplanes dropped bombs on the Egypt-Gaza border area, where Hamas operates tunnels to smuggle in weapons, food and other goods, Palestinians said. Continue reading
This guy really seems like he’s determined to completely steer this country on a different course. I definitely applaud him for this. He was silent while he awaited his chance to speak his peace, and when he said something it was a statement full of character. Kudos to Obama.
President Barack Obama urged Israel on Thursday to open its borders with Gaza.
The plea came in a speech that signalled the new US administration’s shift from Bush-era policy on the Middle East and the world as a whole. In a high-profile address on his second day in office, just hours after he signed an executive order to close the centre at Guantánamo Bay, Mr Obama proclaimed that the US would “actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians” in the wake of this month’s Gaza war.
“The outline for a durable ceasefire is clear: Hamas must end its rocket fire: Israel will complete the withdrawal of its forces from Gaza: the US and our partners will support a credible anti-smuggling and interdiction regime, so that Hamas cannot re-arm,” the US president said.
“As part of a lasting ceasefire, Gaza’s border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce, with an appropriate monitoring regime, with the international and Palestinian Authority participating.” Continue reading
Though we are in knee deep celebration over the historic inaugration of President-elect Barack Obama lets us not forget the war that is going on in Gaza that seems to have accomplished nothing more than to keep it going on for another hundred years. Hopefully the cease-fire is a permanent one.
While Egyptian mediators scramble to broker an end to Israel’s ground campaign in Gaza, both sides’ more vocal advocates continue to wage their own wars using the Internet, recently expanding their informal political campaigns to such popular platforms as Facebook and Twitter.
As of Tuesday afternoon, McClatchy’s D.C. Bureau reported that more than 70,000 Facebook users (and an additional few thousand Twitter subscribers) had “donated” their statuses — the 170-character updates that adorn the top of every user’s profile page — to QassamCount, a third-party application that tracks Hamas missile strikes. Named after the missile model Hamas allegedly prefers, the application updates a donor’s Facebook status whenever Hamas militants attack Israeli targets or kill Israeli civilians.
Pro-Palestinian users, however, soon countered with a status application of their own — “STOP Israel’s War Crimes in Gaza,” which, according to its Facebook page, has drawn more than 74,000 “fans” since its inception earlier this month. In total, AllFacebook, an unofficial blog that shares its subject’s namesake, estimates that group and status subscribers on both sides of the “Facebook Gaza War” would top the one million mark before the week’s end.
To many new media analysts, this sudden increase in Facebook-based social activism has some promise. A slew of recent international events — from the attacks in Mumbai to the war in Gaza — have solidified Facebook and Twitter, among other platforms, as valuable information tools — egalitarian channels through which users may share first-hand accounts and unfiltered information with the masses. And that reach, as Rita King, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, told Time magazine earlier this week, has opened new doors for cross-cultural dialog: “The Internet removes the threat of physical harm and thus offers an unprecedented opportunity for the development of new ideas for conflict mediation,” she told reporters. Continue reading
WITH luck, the destructive two-week battle between Israel and Hamas may soon draw to an end. But how long before the century-long war between Arabs and Jews in Palestine follows suit? It is hard to believe that this will happen any time soon. Consider: Israel’s current operation, “Cast Lead”, marks the fourth time Israel has fought its way into Gaza. It almost captured Gaza (behind a pocket containing a young Egyptian army officer called Gamal Abdul Nasser) in 1948, in the war Israelis know as their war of independence. It captured Gaza again in 1956, as part of a secret plan hatched with Britain and France to topple Nasser as Egypt’s president and restore British control of the Suez Canal. It invaded a third time during the six-day war of 1967—and stayed there for 38 years, until withdrawing unilaterally three and a half years ago.
And Gaza, remember, is only one item in a mighty catalogue of misery, whose entries are inscribed in tears. The Jews and Arabs of Palestine have been fighting off and on for 100 years. In 1909 the mostly Russian socialist idealists of the Zionist movement set up an armed group, Hashomer, to protect their new farms and villages in Palestine from Arab marauders. Since then has come the dismal march of wars—1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, 2006 and now 2009—each seared by blood and fire into the conflicting myths and memories of the two sides. The intervals between the wars have not been filled by peace but by bombs, raids, uprisings and atrocities. Israeli settlers in Hebron today still cite, as if it were yesterday, the massacre of Hebron’s Jews in 1929. The Arabs of Palestine still remember their desperate revolt in the 1930s against the British mandate and Jewish immigration from Europe, and the massacres of 1948.
The slaughter this week in Gaza, in which on one day alone some 40 civilians, many children, were killed in a single salvo of Israeli shells, will pour fresh poison into the brimming well of hate (see article). But a conflict that has lasted 100 years is not susceptible to easy solutions or glib judgments. Those who choose to reduce it to the “terrorism” of one side or the “colonialism” of the other are just stroking their own prejudices. At heart, this is a struggle of two peoples for the same patch of land. It is not the sort of dispute in which enemies push back and forth over a line until they grow tired. It is much less tractable than that, because it is also about the periodic claim of each side that the other is not a people at all—at least not a people deserving sovereign statehood in the Middle East. Continue reading
Why is this a surprise to anyone? The U.S. has been using “Willie Pete” in Iraq and Afghanistan, so Israel is just following suite.
(Reuters) – Human Rights Watch accused Israel on Saturday of using white-phosphorus munitions during its offensive in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli army said it would not provide details about the munitions it was using in the Gaza Strip, but it added: “We emphasize that the IDF (Israeli army) only employs weapons permitted by international law.”
The army confirmed in 2006 that it had used phosphorus shells during its war against Hezbollah guerillas in Lebanon.
Following are key facts about white phosphorus:
White phosphorus munitions are primarily used to make smoke screens or mark targets as a signaling mechanism, but also as an incendiary weapon. Human Rights Watch said Israel appeared to be using the munitions to hide its military operations — “a permissible use in principle under international humanitarian law.” White phosphorus is not considered a chemical weapon under international conventions. It is a colorless or yellowish translucent wax-like substance that smells a bit like garlic. The substance ignites easily in air at temperatures of about 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit), and its fire can be difficult to extinguish. Continue reading
via NY Times
JERUSALEM — The grinding urban battle unfolding in the densely populated Gaza Strip is a war of new tactics, quick adaptation and lethal tricks.
Hamas, with training from Iran and Hezbollah, has used the last two years to turn Gaza into a deadly maze of tunnels, booby traps and sophisticated roadside bombs. Weapons are hidden in mosques, schoolyards and civilian houses, and the leadership’s war room is a bunker beneath Gaza’s largest hospital, Israeli intelligence officials say.
Unwilling to take Israel’s bait and come into the open, Hamas militants are fighting in civilian clothes; even the police have been ordered to take off their uniforms. The militants emerge from tunnels to shoot automatic weapons or antitank missiles, then disappear back inside, hoping to lure the Israeli soldiers with their fire.
In one apartment building in Zeitoun, in northern Gaza, Hamas set an inventive, deadly trap. According to an Israeli journalist embedded with Israeli troops, the militants placed a mannequin in a hallway off the building’s main entrance. They hoped to draw fire from Israeli soldiers who might, through the blur of night vision goggles and split-second decisions, mistake the figure for a fighter. The mannequin was rigged to explode and bring down the building.
In an interview, the reporter, Ron Ben-Yishai, a senior military correspondent for the newspaper Yediot Aharonot, said soldiers also found a pile of weapons with a grenade launcher on top. When they moved the launcher, “they saw a detonator light up, but somehow it didn’t go off.” Continue reading
Venezuela has ordered the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Caracas in protest at Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip.
A number of diplomatic staff have been expelled along with Shlomo Cohen.
President Hugo Chavez has strongly condemned Israel for its actions and called on Israelis to stand up against their government.
Venezuela is the first country to take such a diplomatic step in protest at the violence in Gaza.
“The Israeli army is cowardly attacking worn-out, innocent people, while they claim that they are defending their people,” Mr Chavez said during a visit to a children’s hospital in Caracas.
“I call on the people of Israel to stand up against that government, to demand, to put a hand on their hearts and look at their children, and I call on the world to stop this madness.”
Shortly after, the foreign ministry released a statement ordering the expulsion of Mr Cohen and some of his staff, in what they said was a show of solidarity with the Palestinians.
The BBC’s Will Grant in Caracas says Mr Chavez often uses strong language to criticise Israel and is a close ally of Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, one of Israel’s main enemies.
Venezuela also has a large Arab community who have welcomed the government’s move, our correspondent adds.
By Avi Shlaim
The only way to make sense of Israel’s senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel’s vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration’s complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.
I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times.
Four decades of Israeli control did incalculable damage to the economy of the Gaza Strip. With a large population of 1948 refugees crammed into a tiny strip of land, with no infrastructure or natural resources, Gaza’s prospects were never bright. Gaza, however, is not simply a case of economic under-development but a uniquely cruel case of deliberate de-development. To use the Biblical phrase, Israel turned the people of Gaza into the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, into a source of cheap labour and a captive market for Israeli goods. The development of local industry was actively impeded so as to make it impossible for the Palestinians to end their subordination to Israel and to establish the economic underpinnings essential for real political independence.
Gaza is a classic case of colonial exploitation in the post-colonial era. Jewish settlements in occupied territories are immoral, illegal and an insurmountable obstacle to peace. They are at once the instrument of exploitation and the symbol of the hated occupation. In Gaza, the Jewish settlers numbered only 8,000 in 2005 compared with 1.4 million local residents. Yet the settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and the lion’s share of the scarce water resources. Cheek by jowl with these foreign intruders, the majority of the local population lived in abject poverty and unimaginable misery. Eighty per cent of them still subsist on less than $2 a day. The living conditions in the strip remain an affront to civilised values, a powerful precipitant to resistance and a fertile breeding ground for political extremism.
In August 2005 a Likud government headed by Ariel Sharon staged a unilateral Israeli pullout from Gaza, withdrawing all 8,000 settlers and destroying the houses and farms they had left behind. Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, conducted an effective campaign to drive the Israelis out of Gaza. The withdrawal was a humiliation for the Israeli Defence Forces. To the world, Sharon presented the withdrawal from Gaza as a contribution to peace based on a two-state solution. But in the year after, another 12,000 Israelis settled on the West Bank, further reducing the scope for an independent Palestinian state. Land-grabbing and peace-making are simply incompatible. Israel had a choice and it chose land over peace. Continue reading
(CNN) — An audio message reportedly from al Qaeda’s deputy chief vows revenge for Israel’s air and ground assault on Gaza and calls the Jewish state’s actions against Hamas militants “a gift” from U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.
The speaker, identified as Ayman al-Zawahiri, addresses Muslims in Gaza. He said the violence “is one part of a series of a crusade war against Islam and these air strikes are a gift from Obama before he takes office, and (Egyptian President) Hosni Mubarak, that traitor, is the main partner in your siege and killing.”
The message, posted Tuesday on various Islamist Web sites with a picture of al-Zawahiri next to an image of a wounded child, urges militants to rally against Israel.
“My Muslim brothers and mujahedeens in Gaza and all over Palestine, with the help of God we are with you in the battle, we will direct our strikes against the crusader Jewish coalition wherever we can.” Continue reading
Call me ol’ school but I will never grow accustomed to seeing dead babies and civilian casualties and I will always remind myself that by ignoring such a deplorable act is as bad as condoning it. This ain’t the time to be silent about the wholesale slaughter of people and unnecessary lose of life. And its not only going on in the Gaza, is going down in The Congo, in Sudan, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma and countless other regions on this globe. I can’t see how this tragedy is any different than what took place in India last month. Boy, the devil stays hard at work these days…
Israel’s deadly airstrikes on Hamas compounds in the Gaza Strip are drawing sharp reactions in the Arab world, and a variety of responses elsewhere.
The Israeli attacks brought immediate condemnation from Arab leaders, and especially from Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum who said the Palestinian people would not “live in bloodshed and between body parts, wounded and dead people,” and that Israel must “pay the price” for what he called “this aggression.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah group is a rival of Hamas, denounced the airstrikes and called for restraint. Continue reading