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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ground op underway: IDF troops enter Gaza

Israeli TV Channel 1 is showing nightvision photos of infantry entering Gaza. Location of the entry points and scope and duration are not given.
Alea iacta est.  
Ground operation underway: Following heavy artillery bombardment, IDF soldiers enter Gaza Saturday evening; forces invade northern section of Strip; earlier, army fires hundreds of shells at areas adjacent to Gaza fence
Hanan Greenberg
Latest Update:  01.03.09, 20:42 / Israel News
IDF invades Gaza: IDF ground troops entered the northern Gaza Strip Saturday evening, as the army launched its long anticipated ground operation.
 Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met Friday night and approved the ground incursion. The operation was approved in principle in the cabinet session 10 days ago.
Earlier in the day, artillery cannons started to shell targets in the Strip. The IDF said that by Saturday evening hundreds of shells had been fired at precise targets in Gaza. Much of Gaza was enveloped by darkness as night fell.
Meanwhile, Air Force aircraft continued to drop leaflets in Gaza, calling on residents to leave their homes in order to avoid injury. The leaflets dropped Saturday read: "Area resident, as result of the acts undertaken by terror activists in your area against Israel, the IDF is forced to respond immediately and operate in this area. For your own safety, you are asked to leave the area immediately."
Earlier Saturday, the Air Force attacked a vehicle in Khan Younis carrying Hamas officer Muhammad Maaruf and another group member. The two were reportedly killed in the strike. Saturday morning, a senior Hamas commander was assassinated.

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Gaza and the rights of the oppressed

This from Tom Carew of  Safra VeSaifa aka no surrender-ne pasaran
I listened to a once highly reputable Irish broadcaster and author, Brendan O'Brien on Newstalk 106 FM this Saturday morning, a man who has contributed probing, insightful and courageous work on NI, deal with Gaza, aided by ex-Irish Army Junior Officer and Irish Times *Security orrespondent*, Tom Clonan, with only Susan Philips to inject a note of sanity and balance and objectivity.
 I was amazed to hear O'Brien indulge in uncritical and partisan broadcasting, systematically siding with the anti-Israeli view, and even frequently  *leading the witness* in his interviews.

I began to reflect on this widespread phenomenon,  which seems to have sunk to new lows in Irish media since the recent  Israeli operations in Gaza from Sat, Dec 27, 2008.

But this is not merely about ongoing bias against Israel, or bias on just  this occasion, or sloppy, sub-professional  media operations.
There is, it now seems to me,  a terrifying, but unspoken and unexamined set of assumptions lurking behind all this, a deep, ongoing and long-festering  Western cultural crisis, an undeclared, subversive re-definition of what it is to be human, and of history, ethics, politics, and of truth itself, which might be outlined as follows:-.

1.  Its all about pain or conflict  [and possibly also loss of life ] as the main, if not the only evil. It is not about reasons or reasoning or *principles* as ways to understand or guide life or issues. It is totally subjective and beyond intelligibility.

2.  And *dialogue* is always possible, and always mandatory.
And with anybody - no matter their agenda or ideology or goals or ethics or record or priorities.

3.  All sides are always morally equal - we must never be *judgemental* - but especially when  it comes to either  the methods, or the goals, or the results, of  *The Other*. 
We must always, and without question, value and cherish not merely *other-ness*, and *the other-ness of the other, as other*, but  we must also value and cherish *difference* as such.
For its own sake.
And without any reference to our own perspective on what is valuable, or even tolerable.
Otherwise we are *racist* or *Islamo-phobic*, and guilty of *Hetero-Phobia*.

Fear or challenge of sinister principles or values is now conflated with fear, or rather with undiscriminating hatred for all people who belong to an entire tradition, and open debate or free exploration or frank controversy,  is outlawed, as *hate-speech*.

4.  Everything is *culturally-specific*,  and totally relative.

WE must never *privilege* our own insights or principles or values or concerns or interests or traditions or achievements.
That is the sole and absolute entitlement of the oppressed.

5.  There cannot be any universal rights or obligations, or even any minimum standards which might define even the outer limits of human decency and tolerability.
Therefore we can never be *impartial*  - for that would  imply some objective standards.

6.  But nevertheless, we must never be *neutral* or be *critical* - we must become *engaged* - and *committed* - we must be in *solidarity* with the *oppressed*.

7.  The *oppressed* are constituted, and identifiable, simply  by their being poorer or weaker.
 As measured by them, and by them alone, and solely by their chosen standards.

8.   The *oppressed*, those self-defined  and self-identified  WOE  [ *Wretched of The Earth* ],  therefore must define not only their own agenda and values, but also ours, as we are committed to the *Pedagogy of  [ which means always and only Pedagogy BY and FROM ] the Oppressed*, who alone are the uncorrupted, and incorruptible, voice of progress, the vanguard of the future, the sole anchor and destiny of humanity, and whose *discourse* alone must always be *privileged*, and remain free from the *cultural hegemony* of any external criticism or evaluation or challenge.

9.  The WOE [ *Wrethced of The Earth* ]   can never be responsible, in any way, or to any extent, or ever be held responsibile,  for their own plight.

10.  And the WOE are responsible and answerable only to themselves, and to those values and concerns and priorities, which they, in their oppression, are forced to adopt. .

11 .  The *oppressed* have no choice,  but are permanently forced to *resist* their cruel oppressors, none of whom can exist among the oppressed, and by whatever methods the oppressor may choose.
And the *oppressed* in turn, can never  become the oppressor.

12.   It is never for us to say, much less to tell the oppressed, how or when to *resist*.
Or to suggest who their oppressor may be.
Or to challenge their definition of their oppression.

13.    Nothing has a context or roots. 

The only context is oppression,
the only roots are those of oppression,
 the only enemy is the oppressor,
and the only goal is liberation of the oppressed.

14  Only the oppressed can tell us who is the most oppressed.   And by whom.

15.  The picture, the image,  is all -  feelings are all - there is no place for any questioning - of them, much less for any evaluation of them -  or of their *authors*, or of  their *meaning*, if their *authors* are the oppressed.
Their meanings are whatever the oppressed declare them to be, at any *given* time.
And the interpretation by the oppressed is the only valid interpretation.

Otherwise we are guilty of  Cultural Hegemony, and of the Patriarchic Fallacy,
and guilty of  *Logo-Philia* and  *Logo-Centricity*.

The sceam and suffering of the oppressed has no need for the words of their oppressor.

The resistance of the oppressor does not answer to the ideology of their oppressor.

Questioning, unless by the oppressed, and according to their own sovereign values, is always further oppression and Cultural Hegemony,  and Cultural Imperialism.

Tom Carew
An un-reconstructed Hespero-phile

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Israel's Gaza operation: A progressive Defense

Eric Lee of LabourStart has written a very strong article about The Battle for Gaza. Eric Lee is a veteran fighter for Israeli-Palestinian coexistence. He was a member of Kibbutz Ein Dor, and ran the BibiWatch column at now defunct Currently he is in UK and runs Labourstart. His credentials as a progressive are impeccable.
Eric writes in part:
The battle for Gaza did not begin yesterday. It is one in a long series of battles that stretches back for decades. On this point, both Israelis and Palestinians agree – even if the mass media tends to have a much shorter memory.
This battle is the latest stage of a war that is entirely about whether a Jewish state will be allowed to exist in the land of Israel. On this point, both Hamas leaders and the Israelis are in agreement.
A strong case can be made that this battle is part of the endgame in that war. The decades-long conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors is slowly coming to an end. And Israel has won...
The first and most important consquence of Israel's military victories was the peace agreement with Egypt. It was the Egyptian army more than any other which posed an existential threat to Israel's existence. Once it was taken out of the picture, an Arab victory in the long war was no longer possible.
This was followed a decade later by the PLO decision to embrace a two-state solution, which lead directly to the Oslo accords. Israel now finds itself in the extraordinary situation of having its former worst enemy, Fatah, as its strategic ally.
It is in this context that Hamas' weakness and isolation must be understand. They are weak because they are the last redoubt of what was once a mighty enemy – an enemy that could deploy divisions across several fronts, and whose tanks and aircraft once threatened to reach Tel Aviv.
The defeat of Hamas and the re-insertion of Palestinian Authority control over Gaza – possibly enforced by a pan-Arab peace-keeping force including Egyptian troops – would the best possible outcome of the current fighting.
Were that to take place, the conditions for a renewal of the peace process in 2009 would be in place. With a Kadima-Labour government in power in Jerusalem and Obama in the White House, Fatah controlling both parts of the Palestinian territories – it would be the best chance in years for a final agreement on a two-state solution.
Read the whole thing here: The Battle for Gaza.
We cannot have peace as long as Hamas rule in Gaza. This is not due to "Israeli Inflexibility." We cannot have peace with Hamas because they declare, over and over, that they will never make peace with Israel. And Hamas  cannot be removed in any other way evidently, save by force. Eric is not a land hungry settler apologist writing in INN (Arutz7) or Jerusalem Post. Those who mistakenly believe it is "progressive" to support the reactionary and genocidal Hamas or that there can ever be peace with an organization like Hamas need to pay attention.

Of course, if the current operation only kills a lot of people without accomplishing anything at all, it would be a tragedy for peace as well as for Israel.
 If Israel's goals are frustrated because well-meaning "peace" advocates insist on a "humanitarian" solution, that could well happen. World War II could have been ended with a lot less bloodshed, and much earlier, if the Western Allies had consented to let the Nazis keep their gains in the East. The British blockade of Germany would end, alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Germany.  The Nazis would withdraw from France. That is not much different from a solution that leaves Hamas in control of Gaza indefinitely and allows the free flow of arms to Gaza.   
Ami Isseroff

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Thursday, January 1, 2009


(Evidently a translation of remarks made to "Bild" -- no original Web provenance can be found. This comment by Dovish Israeli author Amos Oz appears to have been penned just before Operation "Cast Lead")


Amos Oz

"The systematic bombing of the citizens in Israel's towns and cities is a war crime and a crime against humanity. The State of Israel must defend its citizens. It is obvious to everyone that the Israeli government does not wish to enter Gaza; the government would rather continue the ceasefire that Hamas violated and finally revoked. But the suffering of the citizens surrounding Gaza cannot go on.

The reluctance to enter Gaza stems not from indecisiveness but from well knowing that Hamas is actually eager to cause Israel to embark on a military operation: If dozens or even hundreds of Palestinian civilians, women and children are killed in an Israeli action, radicalism would gain strength in Gaza, Abu Mazen's rule in the West Bank might collapse, and Hamas extremists could replace him.

The Arab world will rally together around the atrocious sights that Al-Jazeera will air from Gaza, and the world court of public opinion will rush to accuse Israel of war crimes. This is the same court of public opinion that remains unmoved by the systematic bombing of population centers in Israel.

Massive pressure will be exerted on Israel to restrain itself. No such pressure will be placed on Hamas because there is no one to pressure them, and there is almost nothing left with which to pressure them. Israel is a country; Hamas is a gang.

What remains for us to do? The best thing for Israel is to achieve a total ceasefire in exchange for alleviating the blockade of Gaza. If Hamas insists on refusing the ceasefire and continues bombing Israeli citizens, we must take care lest the military action play into Hamas' hands. Hamas' calculation is simple, cynical and evil: If innocent Israelis are killed – good. If innocent Palestinians are killed – even better."

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Iranian newspaper closed after publishing an article favorable to Israel

Newspaper banned in Iran
Tehran, Dec 31, IRNA - Iran enws agency

Director General of domestic media at the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry said 'Kargozaran' newspaper was shut down over a media offense on Wednesday.

Mohammad Parvizi said the paper was banned upon articles 6 and 12 of Press Law and the case has been sent to the court.

He added, "The paper was banned over publication of an article justifying anti-human crimes of the Zionist regime and calling Palestinian resistance as terrorism and claiming that Palestinian combatants take position in kindergardens and hospitals and so cause the deaths of children and civilians."

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IAF bombs Gaza mosque used to store weapons

IAF bombs Gaza mosque  used to store weapons 
On Wednesday evening  the Israel Air Force  bombed a mosque in the southern Gaza Strip that Hamas had been using to store part of its rocket arsenal.
Shin Bet officials noted that over the last few days, Palestinian terrorists were seen carrying Katyusha and Qassam rockets, as well as a large supply of other weapons, around the vicinity of the mosque. These were destroyed in the strike.
Previously, Palestinians claimed Israel had bombed a mosque and killed five civilians. The other bombing may have had a similar purpose. According to Israel radio, Hamas commanders are also using mosques as hideouts.

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Arab Times: Hamas know nothing of living

Is Hamas responsible for the people in Gaza? Are members of this group respectful towards the people? Isn't it that they sold their own people to desperate killers?
"Zionist Propaganda" from the editor of the Arab Times
Arab Times

What will Hamas say to the Palestinians after pushing them to 'hell' under the barbaric Israeli attacks? Hamas -- the mule  -- knows nothing about the demands of the living except backwardness and trading in religion. Generally, the members of this group consider themselves spokespersons of the Palestinians but they endanger the lives of their people. They seem to have forgotten the teachings of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) who once said that "guardians are responsible for the citizens."

Is Hamas responsible for the people in Gaza? Are members of this group respectful towards the people? Isn't it that they sold their own people to desperate killers?

We heard the group crying for help from Arabs, saying "come and rescue us. Otherwise, all of you are mercenaries and conspirators!" Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's health deteriorated due to the endless flow of demands and advice from Hamas. Clad in deceptive clothing, Hamas has continued to cheat the people. It has covered its ears with its fingers in order not to hear the suggestions of political experts. It has moved the tail of its friend in Lebanon that is controlled by UNIFEL and uses the money of Iran. It has moved the tails of Hamas' friends, who called on the Egyptian military to rebel against its government and people.

What will this politician say, considering he is unwanted in the political field? He can leave as quickly as he came. Do you think Egypt will buy his lies like the Egyptians who believed the fabricated story of Jamal Abdul Nasser about his revolution?

We then ask the politician, who is hiding in South Lebanon, to come out. He should appear before the Egyptians for them to understand the stories of Al-Falouja blocking, corrupted weapons, and Arab unity. What will Hamas say from their hiding place outside Gaza? The group has led street demonstrations without providing aid to the people in Gaza. It has sold the Arab cause to others. Maybe, the group will claim that Hezbollah provided weapons to its members to fight against the Lebanese, not Israelis. It might declare victory over Lebanon, not Israel, similar to what happened in 2006.

Actually, Hezbollah's weapons won against the Lebanese, not for their interests. In this case, Hamas might claim that the weapons of Hezbollah are protected and it will soon take the enemy by surprise but when? Maybe, once the Palestinians have completely vanished. Hamas has accused Egypt of being part of the conspiracy. What a shameful accusation! Egypt has fought three wars for the Palestinian cause. It has willingly sacrificed 120,000 martyrs for this cause. Its president has never relented in advising Hamas but the latter has not understood anything. Is this Hamas' response to Egypt's sacrifices?

Hamas acted like a child in dealing with Egypt and the Arab World. The group has led these nations towards unnecessary wars. With its horrific agenda, how can Hamas explain the death of hundreds of innocent people during the Israeli attacks? The international community seems oblivious of these attacks because the rockets of Hamas have done nothing to the other side. It has been six years since the adversity in Palestine and its people have continued playing with this disaster. The 'players' were very clever in justifying their mistakes and blaming others. They were also very clever in trading in the blood of their compatriots. Hamas might also use the deceptive tactic of the brothers of Prophet Yusuf (PBUH), who were envious of their brother as they thought their father loved their brother more than them. They then connived to push Yusuf into the well and told their father that the wolf had eaten their brother.


By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

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Israel Defense Ministry Spox: 12 Palestinians treated in Israeli hospitals; Gaza warehouses full

"The World Food Program has informed Israel that they will not be resuming shipment of food commodities in to Gaza due to the fact that their warehouses are at full capacity and will last for approximately two weeks."
Ministry of Defense
Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories
Office of the Spokesman

31th December, 2008

12 Palestinians from Gaza transferred to Israeli hospitals for assistance and 2500 tons of humanitarian aid transferred to Gaza

Today 12 Palestinians accessed Israel for medical treatment in Israeli hospitals. Two of those evacuated were children injured during the military activates, the remaining are chronically sick people, and their escorts, that accessed Israel for treatment that is not available within the Gaza Strip.

Further more, despite ongoing rocket fire, Israel continues with the extensive humanitarian effort in coordination with the international organizations, Palestinian Authority and various donors. Ninety three trucks, with approximately 2500 tons of humanitarian aid, medical supplies and medication were conveyed through "Kerem Shalom" cargo terminal. The World Food Program has informed Israel that they will not be resuming shipment of food commodities in to Gaza due to the fact that their warehouses are at full capacity and will last for approximately two weeks.

Since the beginning of operation "cast lead" some 6500 tons of aid have been transferred at the request of the international organizations, the Palestinian Authority and various governments. Preparations are underway to facilitate further shipments expected to arrive in the coming days.

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IAF strike hits home of top Hamas commander in Gaza

The Israel Air Force kept up a relentless string of attacks on Hamas-ruled Gaza on Tuesday, smashing a government complex, security installations and the home of a top militant commander as thousands of Israeli ground troops, backed by tanks and artillery, massed along the
border and waited for a signal to attack.
More than 360 Palestinians have been killed since Saturday, most of them members of Hamas security forces but at least 64 of them civilians, according to UN figures. The toll includes two sisters, aged 4 and 11, who perished in an airstrike on a rocket squad in northern Gaza on Tuesday.
Palestinian witnesses said that Israeli missiles flattened five ministerial buildings and a structure belonging to the Islamic University in Gaza City.
One Israeli attack targeted a house in the Jabaliya refugee camp, killing seven people, but the Hamas activist was not there, Hamas security and relatives said. Another hit the Jabaliya home of Abdel-Karim Jaber, a Hamas political figure who is a senior administrator at Gaza's Islamic University.
He was not at home and it wasn't immediately clear if anyone was hurt in the strike.
In another air assault, an Islamic Jihad commander was killed as he was walking near his house, said Abu Hamza, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad's military wing.
Israel's airstrikes on more than 325 sites since midday Saturday reduced dozens of buildings to rubble, overwhelmed hospitals with wounded and filled Gaza's deserted streets with smoke and fire. The IDF said Israeli naval vessels had also bombarded targets from the sea.
On Monday, aircraft pulverized a house next to the home of Hamas Premier Ismail Haniyeh, a security compound and a five-story building at a university closely linked to the Islamic group - all symbols of Hamas strength in the coastal territory it has ruled since June 2007.

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King Abdullah replaces Jordanian intelligence head who courted Hamas

Dahabi engineered the Jordanian meetings with Hamas. Jordan sought to get closer to Hamas because they seemed to be in the ascendancy. But radicalism began to get out of control in Jordan.
Jordan intelligence head is replaced
Jordan's chief intelligence official was replaced on Monday after he asked King Abdullah II for a resignation, Jordanian news reports said on Tuesday, citing a royal decree.
Maj.-Gen. Muhammad Dahabi, who served as head of Jordan's General Intelligence Directorate since the end of 2005, held clandestine talks with Damascus-based Hamas politburo member Muhammad Nazzal in Amman, according to a report by the French news agency, AFP.
Dahabi's meeting in August with Nazzal was the first high-level meeting since Jordan expelled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and three other members in a 1999 crackdown on the Islamist group.
It was unclear why Dahabi resigned on Monday and whether it had anything to do with these talks, which were likely conducted with King Abdullah II's consent.
In a letter to his staff, Abdullah offered his best wishes to Dahabi and said that he had "worked very hard, with honesty and sincerity." He said Dahabi was among "the loyal soldiers of the homeland" and "devoted to stability and security of the homeland," according to the official Petra news service.
Dahabi was replaced on Monday by Maj.-Gen. Muhammad Ratha'n Raqqad, who previously served as director of intelligence for the governates and as an assistant to the director of intelligence for Irbid, the second-largest city in the kingdom, according to the London-based A-Sharq Alawsat.

Raqqad played a primary role in arresting members of terrorist cells in the kingdom, including helping arrest three operatives who had plans to blow up a building belonging to the security services and the American embassy in
Amman, the newspaper said.
Dahabi's team took office in November 2005, days after al-Qaida carried out its deadly blasts in three Amman hotels.
His two predecessors hadn't lasted more than a year in the same post, which is considered one of the most important in the country.

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Report: Saudi Arabian Sheikh arrested for Fatwa calling for attacks on Israelis

This is one for Ripley's Believe it or not
Saudi cleric arrested for calling for attacks on Israelis

IANS Gulf-Middle East Wed, 31 Dec 2008:

Riyadh, Dec 31 (DPA) A prominent Saudi Arabian Muslim cleric who called for attacks on Israelis worldwide in retaliation for the ongoing airstrikes on the Gaza Strip has been arrested, Saudi media reported Wednesday.

Sheikh Awad al-Qarni issued a fatwa, or religious edict, on Monday that 'it is legitimate to spill (Israeli) blood as long as they are spilling the blood of our brothers in Palestine.'

The report in the al-Rasad newspaper said that al-Qarni was arrested in the south of the country and has been brought to the capital Riyadh. Police would not confirm the arrest.

In the past few days al-Qarni's fatwa has been widely discussed on Islamist internet sites, the newspaper said.

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Barry Rubin on Gaza

Common sense seems to be hard to come by. Everyone seems bent on finding a reason for Israel's operation in Gaza other than the obvious one: The Hamas are raining rockets on Israeli towns and making life impossible. 
This explanation below by Barry Rubin is straightforward. The proof of why Israel really had no choice but to attack Hamas, is in the rockets that hit Beersheba and Yavneh. This extension of the range of Hamas rockets was accomplished in six months, thanks to the Tahidiya - the truce. From little  Qassam Rockets in  Sderot to Grad rockets that reach Beersheba. Here is a map of how the range of Hamas rockets in Israel has expanded.
Barry Rubin
December 31, 2008
But why, more than one reporter from highly reputable publications has asked me, is Israel attacking Gaza now? At first, I was astonished: because Hamas cancelled the ceasefire and started massive rocket firings at Israel.
No, they responded, as if I had said something rude. Isn't it the election, or an attempt to stop the tunnels, or this or that reason?
Absolutely not, I say, it's like Pearl Harbor, or September 11. If someone announces they are going to go to war with you and then does it, you retaliate and fight.
At that point, the reporters seem to lose interest and bring the interview to an end, as if clearly a person who can say such things is not going to provide any rational analysis. Yet if one cannot even understand this most basic fact, what comprehension can there be of this issue or, indeed, of Middle East politics in general.
There are reasons, however, for this response. Large elements in the West find it very hard to "get," that is to understand, Hamas or the Palestinians in general--or, for that matter, Islamists in general, or Arabs in general, or Muslims in general--albeit with all the many variations and exceptions.
The problem with pragmatism:
Today, people ask, why didn't the Jews of Poland understand the Nazis were going to wipe them out, at least in the earlier period when escape or revolt was more possible? According to contemporary and later eyewitness testimony because they didn't think Germans would act in such an unpragmatic manner.
After all hundreds of thousands of Jews were involuntarily contributing to the German war effort. They were making clothes, repairing roads, growing food. Why should the Third Reich destroy a highly effective, very cheap, and low-problem labor force, thus crippling itself and helping to ensure that it lost the war?
Answer: ideology. A doctrine and belief system will make people act in a way that doesn't fit pragmatic expectations. Why should Hamas start a war against a stronger power? Due to believing itself to be stronger and needs to mobilize mass support. Why should Palestinian leaders reject a state even if it means the end of an increasingly small degree of "occupation"? Due to belief that total victory is inevitable, that compromise is treason, and that their enemies are satanic.
The solvency of solutions:
The other big question asked is: what is the solution? How can, as some say, peace be attained; how can Israel, others say, eliminate Hamas? The presumption is that the first or the second is easy, or at least possible.
Answer: Wrong. This is the Middle East we don't do solutions. Hamas is not going to disappear, nor will it be moderate. Israel, for good reasons, has no interest in occupying the Gaza Strip. Fatah is incapable of retaking control there.
This situation will go on and probably most likely end in some new ceasefire. Hamas will break the ceasefire a bit every week, and smash it altogether every six to eighteen months, repeating the current situation. That isn't the ideal outcome but it is by far the most likely one.
The unbearable lightness of gratitude:
No matter how much diplomatic aid, sympathy, or money the West gives Hamas--and it has saved Hamas and the PLO over and over from their own mistakes--they will not become grateful or pro-Western. Anti-Western and anti-American sentiment is too valuable and too widespread to disappear. The Palestinians--and Iran's regime, and Syria's government, and Hizballah, and other Islamists--need scapegoats. Who else are they going to blame for their problems, themselves?
If you save the terrorists today, they will commit more terrorism tomorrow. If you let them escape the consequences of their own extremism, you can guarantee they will stay extremist and take a lot of the masses with them.
The reality of reality:
In some ways, the most important--or at least second most important--thing to happen in the Middle East this week is that Hizballah leader Hasan Nasrallah went too far, calling for the overthrow of Egypt's government.
Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit responded, "They have actually declared war on Egypt...." And when he says "they" he means Iran, Syria, Hizballah, and Hamas. The Saudis and Gulf Arabs are also drawing lines deeper than ever before. Publicly and loudly, they look at Gaza, and see Arabs and Muslims, and criticize Israel. More softly in public and loudly in private they look at Gaza and see the Iranian axis.
This is the Middle East of 2008 and not of 1958, 1968, 1978, 1988, or 1998. The Palestinian issue has little effect on any other issue. The real conflict is Iran-Syria against Egypt-Saudi Arabia. Islamists are seeking to conquer the region from Arab nationalists. Radical groups are not interested in happy homelands but jihad and genocide.
And so the issue is not why Israel is attacking Hamas in Gaza now, but why Hamas in Gaza is attacking Israel now.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gaza operation to continue; IAF hits Hamas smuggling tunnels

Contrary to earlier rumors, official statements indicate there will be no 48 hour lull or respite in the bombing of Hamas targets in Gaza, beginning with attacks on the Hamas tunnel network. Tunnels are used to smuggle weapons as as well as consumer goods, since Hamas closed the International Terminal in Rafah and did not allow the EU and Palestinian Authority to reopen it.  Hamas rockets hit Beersheva, about 44 KM from Gaza, today. Hamas declares that its aim is to destroy Israel, since the end of days can only come, according to a famous Hadith, after Muslims have killed all the Jews. This is stated in the Hamas Charter. This round of fighting began after Hamas announced that there was a six month limitation on the lull that had been agreed on June 19, and that they would not renew the truce unless Israel allowed unlimited and unchecked importation of armaments as well as consumer goods.
Hamas has accumulated a large stockpile of weapons despite the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt. The enemy fire from Gaza has escalated from small mortar shells and homemade Qassam rockets to Katyusha (Grad) rockets, with a range of 40 km - lethal regular military ordnance fired at random at civilian targets including population centers in major cities.. If the currect operation have not been undertaken, Hamas would not doubt have eventually acquired rockets that could bomb Tel-Aviv.
Hamas and affiliated groups have fired over 5,000 rockets at Israel. Each one potentially lethal. If Hamas rockets have not killed more people, it is not for want of trying.
Last update - 22:47 30/12/2008       
IAF unleashes massive strike on Hamas tunnel network near Rafah
By News Agencies
The Israel Air Force on Tuesday evening unleashed a massive strike on a network of Hamas-dug tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip near the Philadephi Route, according to Palestinian sources.
IAF planes attacked dozens of the tunnels, which Hamas had used to smuggle weapons and militants between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, the army said in a statement.
The army said that the IAF struck 30 additional targets over the course of Tuesday, including seven Grad and five Qassam rocket launchers, rocket launching cells, rocket launching sites, weapons manufacturing facilities, Hamas outposts and armed terror operatives.
The IAF kept up a relentless string of attacks on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday, smashing a government complex, security installations and the home of a top militant commander.
According to a Military Intelligence assessment, the air offensive has destroyed a third of the Hamas rocket arsenal, Channel 10 television reported.
Meanwhile, thousands of Israel Defense Forces ground troops, backed by tanks and artillery, massed along the Gaza border and waited for a signal to attack.
More than 380 Palestinians have been killed since the air force began its operation on Saturday, most of them members of Hamas security forces but at least 64 of them civilians, according to UN figures.
Tuesday's death toll included two sisters, aged 4 and 11, who perished in an airstrike on a rocket squad in northern Gaza on Tuesday.
Palestinian witnesses said that Israeli missiles flattened five ministerial buildings and a structure belonging to the Islamic University in Gaza City.
One Israeli attack targeted a house in the Jabaliya refugee camp, killing seven people, but the Hamas activist was not there, Hamas security and relatives said. Another hit the Jabaliya home of Abdel-Karim Jaber, a Hamas political figure who is a senior administrator at Gaza's Islamic University.
He was not at home and it wasn't immediately clear if anyone was hurt in the strike.
In another air assault, an Islamic Jihad commander was killed as he was walking near his house, said Abu Hamza, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad's military wing.
Israel's airstrikes on more than 325 sites since midday Saturday reduced dozens of buildings to rubble, overwhelmed hospitals with wounded and filled Gaza's deserted streets with smoke and fire. The IDF said Israeli naval vessels had also bombarded targets from the sea.
On Monday, aircraft pulverized a house next to the home of Hamas Premier Ismail Haniyeh, a security compound and a five-story building at a university closely linked to the Islamic group - all symbols of Hamas strength in the coastal territory it has ruled since June 2007.
Egypt to treat 11 wounded Palestinians
An Egyptian medical official says 11 Palestinians have been ferried from the border with Gaza to a hospital in the capital Cairo because they are in critical condition.
Ahmed Abdel-Nabi, deputy manager of the Nasser Institute hospital, said
Tuesday that most will require surgery.
Since Israel attacked the Gaza strip with air strikes, killing over 300 people and injuring hundreds more in response to Hamas rocket fire, Egypt has accepted 36 injured Palestinians.
Palestinian health officials said Monday there were at least 150 serious cases in the overburdened Palestinian hospitals.
Most of those accepted are being treated in the 250-bed El-Arish hospital near the Gaza border which lacks sophisticated medical equipment.

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Pallestinian journalist complains about Hamas manipulation of media, exploitation of suffering

A Palestinian journalist has complained that the media and others are manipulating the images going out to the world:

"A mother of one of the martyrs stood by the door of the intensive care unit while crying... relatives and those around her were telling her what she should say to the television cameras: 'Say your son [before he died] prayed and went out.' Another tells her: 'Curse the Arab leaders'... The journalists [in the hospitals] are going overboard in their insensitivity and taking advantage of the [difficult] moments, with the explanation that they are showing this to the world. One cameraman told a mourning mother: 'Hit your face, cry, do some action.'"
[Al-Ayyam, December 29, 2008]

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Two rockets strike Be'er Sheva area for first time

It is inevitable that the military capabilities of the Hamas increase as long as i is in power. We knew it could fire at Beersheva now. In six months, Tel Aviv.
By Yanir Yagna, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Staff and News Agencies

Two rockets fired by militants in the Gaza Strip exploded Tuesday evening in Be'er Sheva region, Channel Two reported. This was the furthest point eastward which a Palestinian projectile has managed to reach.
More than rockets at the western Negev on Tuesday, including one which reached the vicinity of the Bedouin town of Rahat, just west of Be'er Sheva.
Rockets exploded continuously throughout the day, with a number striking the northern Negev cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod.
A rocket fired in the afternoon scored a direct hit on a kibbutz dining hall in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. There were no injuries in the incident, but the building sustained severe damage.

Channel Two television reported earlier Tuesday that rockets exploded in the western Negev towns of Kiryat Malachi and Kiryat Gat.
A Qassam rocket struck a home in the western Negev town of Sderot on Tuesday. One person sustained minor shrapnel wounds, and three others suffered shock.
No occupants were at home when the projectile slammed into the house. Another Qassam rocket hit the backyard of a Sderot home, while five others exploded in open areas near Sderot.
Other rockets caused some damage to hothouses in the Eshkol region.
The attacks came after Palestinian rockets had killed three Israelis on Monday, and wounded nine more, one of them critically.
Home Front Command chief praises civilian response
The head of the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command, Yair Golan, convened a press conference in the western Negev town of Ofakim on Tuesday.
Golan praised the resiliency of western Negev residents who have absorbed rocket barrages and the alertness displayed by municipal workers in responding to the citizens' distress.
Golan also warned civilians to take greater heed of Home Front Command directives instructing those within range of Palestinian rocket fire to enter bomb-proof shelters immediately upon hearing the warning sirens.
"These directives save lives," Golan told reporters. "The civilians who were killed in Netivot and Ashkelon - if they had followed the directives perhaps they would have saved their lives. I call on all civilians in the south not to enter a state of complacency and to understand that the directives are a question of life and death."

Husband of rocket fatality expresses shock at loss
The husband of one of three Israelis killed Monday in rocket attacks from Gaza said Tuesday that although strikes had been expected in Ashdod, more than 30 kilometers from Gaza, the family never thought that it would affect them in such a tragic manner.
Irit Sheetrit, 39, was killed after she got out of her vehicle when she heard the early warning siren, and sought shelter in a bus stop on the side of the road. She sustained critical shrapnel wounds, and later died of her injuries. Another passerby who also ducked into the bus stop for shelter is in serious condition.
"We are stunned, it came as a bolt from the blue," Herzl Sheetrit told Army Radio. "All the family is together and we can't digest what has happened. We are comforting one another."
"There was a sudden blast and I heard screams," Sheetrit said. "When I arrived at the site of the rocket strike, the ambulances had already evacuated her."
Irit was laid to rest Tuesday at the cemetery in Ashdod. On Tuesday afternoon, the funeral also took place for Sergeant Major Lutafi Nasraladin, 38, from Daliat al-Karmel, who was killed Monday evening by mortar fire on a military base in the Negev.
The third victim of Monday Gaza attacks was named as Hani al Mahdi, a 27-year-old construction worker from the Bedouin village of Aroer, who was killed while working at a building site in Ashkelon. He was fatally wounded by shrapnel from a Grad rocket when he was caught in the open en route to a protected area.
At least 80 rockets have were fired into Israel on Monday. Several of the rockets hit Ashkelon, while others struck Sderot and other rocket weary communities in the western Negev.
Three rockets hit the city of Yavneh Monday evening, the northernmost point a Palestinian rocket has hit to date.

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PLO, Fatah blame Hamas for Gaza violence

Along with expressing solidarity with the Hamas casualties in Gaza, PLO and Fatah officials criticize Hamas for its contribution to the escalation that led to the Israeli attack. They blamed Hamas for not listening to PLO's call to prolong the tahdiah, for not preparing properly for the possibility that Israel would attack, and for combining its government functions with its resistance activity, which made it vulnerable to an attack on its institutions. Hamas, for its part, accused the PLO and Fatah of collaborating with Israel.

The following are excerpts from statements and articles in the Palestinian media:

Abu Mazen: We Told [Hamas] - "Don't End the Tahdiah"

In his visit to Egypt, PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) placed the responsibility for the Israeli attack on Hamas, saying, "We called the leaders of Hamas, and told them both directly and directly, through Arab parties and non-Arab parties. We talked with them on the phone. We told them, 'Please, do not end the tahdiah.'" [1]

Nimr Hammad, an advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, said: "The one responsible for the massacres is Hamas, and not the Zionist entity, which in its own view reacted to the firing of Palestinian missiles. Hamas needs to stop treating the blood of Palestinians lightly. They should not give the Israelis a pretext." He called upon the leaders of Hamas to stop carrying out "operations which reflect recklessness, such as the firing of missiles." [2]

Director of the Palestinian TV & Radio Authority: Hamas is In the Grips of Megalomania

Bassem Abu-Sumayyah, director of the Palestinian TV & Radio Authority and columnist for the PLO daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, reiterated the accusation that "Hamas blocked its ears… They should have had even a little bit of political and security sense, and not left the people wandering, and losing their way, getting killed and injured. It is clear that Hamas was struck by megalomania since they took over Gaza, which blinded them so they would not listen to any advice. Hamas behaved like a superpower, as if they have weapons and means like Hizbullah in Lebanon, and as if they can conduct a war like the July war [of 2006]. Hamas's people thought they have a number of missiles that can enable them to prevail in a war of such size." [3]

Palestinian Columnists: Hamas Could have Prevented the Bloodshed

Editor of the PLO daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida Hafez Al-Barghouthi criticized Hamas for not prolonging the tahdiah, and for kidnapping Gilad Shalit: "Prolonging the tahdiah was a supreme national interest. Why hasn't [Hamas] prevented the aggression and the massacre? How many times have we written, and President Abu Mazen has declared, that these missiles [that Hamas is firing at Israel] as ineffective and contrary to the supreme national interest. Even Hamas saw them as contrary to the supreme national interest at the time of the tahdiah. We said, also, that the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit cost us 500 casualties in one year." [4]

Columnist Muwaffaq Matar called for creating an internal Palestinian investigation committee, and blamed Hamas for being responsible for the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza: "Will we learn the lesson, or are our leaders going to run away from bearing responsibility, as they usually do? If we believe in the value of men and in humanity, we should establish a Palestinian investigative committee that will reveal to the Palestinian people what happened, and why over 200 people have lost their lives and 750 have been injured within one hour, even though the calls for war, the speeches and the statements [in Israel], were abundant a week before the tahdiah ended… What did the commanders in Gaza expect? That the commanders of the Israeli army will let them know what is the zero hour, so that they will remove their people from the military and security headquarters?... This bloodshed and horrible destruction of our national institutions could have been prevented. It only needed political courage, moral wisdom, and adherence to the aspirations of the Palestinian people to live securely and in freedom and independence." [5]

Hamas has to Choose Between Being a Government and Fighting Its Resistance Activities

Abdallah Awwad, columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam, argued against Hamas' attempt to be both a government as well as a fighting resistance: "The Israeli incursions after 2000 [during the Al-Aqsa Intifada] and the destruction of the PLO headquarters were enough [for the PLO] to see the incompatibility of being a government at the same time as fighting the resistance… We are paying the price of stupidity, and the maniacal love of being rulers, that has nothing in it except for hollow slogans. [A choice must be made to be] either a government or a resistance. When the two are combined, it gives the occupying power easy targets… The example of the destruction of the PLO headquarters in the West Bank during the Intifada should have sufficed… What happened in Gaza demonstrates that the lesson was not learned. Instead of disappearing under the ground, which is the basis for any resistance, Hamas personnel remained exposed in the open… This destructive formula contained within it a premise that the occupation will not dare to carry out a bloody attack on Gaza." [6]

[1] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PLO), December 29, 2008.

[2] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), December 28, 2008.

[3] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), December 29, 2008.

[4] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), December 28, 2008.

[5] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), December 28, 2008.

[6] Al-Ayyam (PA), December 28, 2008.

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Senior Jihad man, 14 others die in IDF strikes

Ziad Abu Tir, fourteen people killed in strikes on northern Gaza; terror organizations prepare for ground incursion, vow to send out 'hundreds of car bombs and suicide bombers'. Over 60 rockets fired at Israel
Ali Waked
Latest Update:  12.29.08, 17:56 / Israel News
Gaza under fire: Palestinian source in the strip reported Monday evening of several IAF strikes across the strip.
Israeli Air Force fighter jets struck two targets in northern Gaza, both near the home of one of Hamas'  senior military wing operatives. News agencies reported that at least 20 people were killed and dozens were injured.
 Another strike in the Northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya hit the home of a senior member of the group's recruiting branch; and a third took out a truck carrying Grad rockets in the northern Gaza neighborhood of Jabalya. According to the IDF, the truck was either headed towards a hiding place or to launching pads.

According to the Palestinian, none of the Hamas operatives were in their homes during the strikes.

Eelier Monday, Ziad Abu-Tir (35) a senior member of the Islamic Jihad's military wing was among five people killed in an IAF strike in the Khan Younis area. His brother, nephew and two other people died in the attack as well. Five people were injured and the area sustained heavy damage.

A spokesman for the Islamic Jihad's military wing said that "this is another massacre and crime" and that Israel must wait for the organization's response.

A source in one of the organizations warned that gunmen in Gaza were well prepared for a ground offensive. "We'll kidnap soldiers, and it will equal all of this destruction," he told Ynet.
Meanwhile, the rocket fire continued Monday, with more than 60 rockets landing in southern Israel since the morning hours and one person killed in a construction site in the city of Ashkelon.

One of the rockets hit a house in Sderot, which was fortunately empty. Neighbors reported of complete devastation, as security forces evacuated the area fearing a gas leak. Several people suffered shock and were treated by Magen David Adom emergency services' paramedics.

'We still have ace up our sleeve'
The armed Palestinian organizations reported that they were completing their preparations for Israel's expected ground offensive. A Palestinian source told Ynet that "the Israeli side must wait for a united Strip under the ground and for hundreds of car bombs and hundreds of suicide bombers."
Another senior source in the groups said that all of the organizations were preparing to abduct soldiers. "If the kidnapping plan proves successful it will compare to all the destruction Israel had caused."
A Hamas source rejected the reports suggesting that the rocket fire at Ashdod, as well as the reports of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was hurt, are evident of the organization's distress. "We have sent messages that we can fire to longer distances that the Israelis are used to and that the Israeli soldier is held in the Strip," he said.
The source refused to elaborate on Shalit's condition.
According to Hamas, the rockets on Ashdod was fired from deep within the Strip and any launchings from its northern part would surely hit targets northerly in Israel, perhaps bringing them closer to central Israel.
"We have other aces up our sleeves and we will use them when the time and place are right," said the source; adding that while the number of Palestinian casualties' numbers in the hundreds, no more than 10 Hamas operatives have been killed.

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IDF: Hamas' military wing intact

Army preparing for next stage of Operation Cast Lead; senior officers support launching of ground incursion in Gaza to substantiate Israeli deterrence, say Hamas still capable of carrying out extensive ops
Hanan Greenberg
Published:  12.29.08, 18:38 / Israel News
Despite the Israeli Air Force's massive strikes throughout the Gaza Strip in the last three days, military sources estimated Monday that Hamas' military wing was still intact and that it was capable of carrying out substantial operations in the near future.

Meanwhile, the IDF was preparing Monday for the next stage of Operation Cast Lead, which will see ground forces entering the Strip.
Large forces and heavy machinery are already stationed near Gaza, and the IDF is holding deliberations aimed at determining the nature of the ground incursion. The army is inclined to broaden the operation in order to boost Israel's deterrence vis-à-vis Hamas.
The forces on the ground have already been informed of the missions they will likely be ordered to carry out, including maneuvers aimed at locating and neutralizing terror infrastructure and targeting Hamas forces.
The army continues to monitor the developments in other fronts, including the West bank and southern Lebanon. At present the situation in the West Bank is relatively quiet, excluding several minor incidents and no escalation has been registered on the northern border.
However, the security forces are preparing for the possibility that Palestinian factions might attempt to launch rockets at Israel as a sign of solidarity with Hamas, or that Hizbullah might launch terror attacks via groups in the area.

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Olmert: Don't talk about truce

Olmert: Don't talk about truce

Top officials discuss Gaza op, PM calls for 'iron fist' against Hamas, bans ceasefire talk
Roni Sofer
Published:  12.30.08, 00:34 / Israel News
Speaking at a meeting with top officials, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert instructed participants to refrain from talking about the possibility of a Gaza ceasefire at this time, while focusing on continuing the offensive against terrorists in Gaza.

"We no longer talk about an exit policy, but rather, we are working in order to secure the Gaza operation's objectives," he said. "As long as the fire continues, the Israeli operation will be expanded."
The meeting was attended by Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and top security officials, including Army Chief Gabi Ashkenazi, Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin, and Mossad Director Meir Dagan.

Participants were told that Hamas asked Senegal, the current president of the Islamic Conference, to secure a ceasefire, in a move reflecting the group's difficult condition in the wake of the IDF assault. However, Israeli officials decided to reject the possibility of a ceasefire at this time.

"We need to continue handling Hamas with an iron fist – while handling the civilian population with kid gloves," Olmert said.

An intelligence assessment prepared by the security establishment noted that Hamas' leadership, headed by Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud al-Zahar, went into hiding and is not functioning at this time.

"They are on the run, and the Hamas regime does not function in any way," one security official said. According to information presented in the meeting, some Gaza residents are overjoyed by the blow sustained by the terrorist group.
Meanwhile, Home Front Command officials expressed their concerns over the lack of discipline among Israelis in the face of rocket attacks. Virtually all Israeli casualties thus far failed to follow the Home Front's safety instructions, one official said.

"This is very worrisome," he said. "It could lead to a disaster and a grave moral blow that will undermine the military effort in the Gaza Strip."

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Can this be true? UN envoy: Israel to continue Gaza op until Hamas completely destroyed

The following doesn't "look right" - comes from the wrong source and violates the rule that until now Israel has not been precise about goals.
UN envoy: Israel to continue Gaza op until Hamas completely destroyed,7340,L-3646937,00.html

Published:  12.30.08, 02:16 / Israel News 
Israel will push forward with its offensive in the Gaza Strip until it "destroys completely" the ruling Hamas group, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations said Monday, adding that the operation will continue as long as necessary to reach that goal. (AP)
It may be related to this, which is more likely, but a very different story:
IDF: We're ready to go all the way

Army prepares for ground incursion, Air Force chief says Hamas must understand Israel 'ready to go all the way'; IDF pounds Gaza targets overnight, at least 10 Palestinians reportedly killed, scores wounded in strikes
Hanan Greenberg
Latest Update:  12.30.08, 03:38 / Israel News
The army is "ready to go all the way," Israel's Air Force chief said Monday night, as operation "Cast Lead" entered its fourth day. IDF officials are waiting for the green light to embark on a ground incursion, which may be unavoidable in light of the latest escalation in fighting.

The Air Force attacked Palestinian targets across the Gaza Strip overnight, with eyewitnesses reporting that fighter jets dropped at least 16 bombs on Hamas government buildings and security compounds, destroying them completely. At least 10 people were reportedly killed in the strikes and more than 40 were injured.
Earlier, an Israeli woman and an IDF career officer were killed in Palestinian rocket and mortar strikes on southern Israel. Meanwhile, the Palestinian death toll in the IDF operation has topped 350.

Speaking at a meeting with top officials Monday night, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert instructed participants to refrain from talking about the possibility of a Gaza ceasefire at this time.

"We no longer talk about an exit policy, but rather, we are working in order to secure the Gaza operation's objectives," he said. "As long as the fire continues, the Israeli operation will be expanded."

'Complete shock for Hamas'
Large infantry and armored forces are already deployed near Gaza and await the order to march in.

"We have an orderly plan, with objectives and targets, and it will ultimately secure its goals," a military official said. The winter weather in the region may postpone the IDF's plans, but military officials say the army has solutions even if weather conditions remain unstable.

Ten months have passed since IDF ground forces operated deep within Palestinian territory in the Gaza Strip. The last large-scale ground operation was "Warm Winter," which was followed by several smaller operations, before a relative lull went into effect. However, military officials hinted that the upcoming ground operation may include a deep and broad incursion.

Addressing pilots at a southern military base Monday evening, Air Force Chief Ido Nehushtan said the army must not be complacent at this time.

"Hamas is still able to fire rockets at the State of Israel, and our goal is to prevent it," he said. "Hamas must understand that we are ready to go all the way. Southern residents feel that we are doing something for them."

During his address, Major-General Nehushtan characterized Israel's initial aerial assault as a "complete shock for Hamas" and noted that the element of surprise was crucial to its success. "Hamas paid a very heavy price…our intelligence information was accurate, and their casualty figures are high."

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Progressive anti-Zionist protests against Zionists and the Zionist war

The Elders of Zion (yes the ones mentioned in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, us) have received the emails below. As critics of Israel have complained that not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, and that we are unfair in failing to publish their incisive comments, which are not racist at all and only directed at the crimes of the Zionists. These virtuous folks all support the progressive Hamas movement in its just struggle to wipe the JewsZionists off the face of the earth. I am publishing a sample herewith, so that the world will not be deprived of their wisdom. By all means contact these humanitarian paragons. Such deep thinking should not go unrewarded and unnoticed.
This first fellow has read the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, so he knows all about us, you see.

Sent: Monday, December 29, 2008 8:55 PM
Subject: Terrorists!!

You people are FAR bigger terrorists than the Palestinians!! Because of our blind support, no matter what atrocities you commit, America is as hated worldwide as Israel. Your outrageous air strikes are killing hundreds of civilians. It's no wonder that, over the centuries, you've been expelled from every country in Europe. I"ve read the "Protocols"... I know how devious you are. Without our support Israel wouldn't even exist. Because of that support, Israel is the bully of the Middle East. You pick fights knowing your "big brother" (the US) will bail you out regardless of what atrocities you commit. You call the Palestinians terrorists. Well, I'm old enough to know that Israel coined the term.
I am a patriotic American. I deplore terrorism everywhere. We suffered through 9/11 because, and ONLY because, of our support of Israel. I hope and pray that the new administration (a Muslim) will turn our backs to Israel and force you to reap what you sow. On your own. There are worldwide protests about your slaughtering on innocent women and children. I truly hope that your days are numbered.
David Briggs

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, December 29, 2008 10:27 PM
Subject: blood and justice

Zionism is a racist murderous ideology.
The times of judgement will come!
There are in occupied Palastine ca.6 mio zionist elements,
the arab world contains a folk of 850 Mio. muslims.
Laugh and eat the few days which are left for you,the slaughter will invade the shores of the country of "Israel". Who will stop the flood of judgement?
Manuel Turmes Luxembourg

The following letter is abridged, but you can gather that the author has discovered a great Jewish plot that existed to grant equality to black people, to which we plead guilty as charged. Yep, you can blame Barack Obama on us Jew-Zionists. He got us fair and square on that one. And Brown vs Board of Education too. All the folks opposed to racial equality gotta be anti-Zionists too, and all the rest of you commies better join us Zionists.
You can also gather that the author thinks the Bush family and the Rockefellers are Jewish,.which is not true. He alludes to the anti-Semitic accusation that the Kol Nidre prayer was meant to absolve Jews from promises to gentiles. He has a fake Ariel Sharon quote there and probably some of the others are fake too. He then asserts that his criticism of "ZIonism" is not antisemitic. A Jew in the Rockefeller is worth two Bushes, right? It is not known if Rockeller was a Zionist

"Don't worry about congress. We can take care of that"

David Rothschild

"We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order. "

David Rockefeller

"Oil is much too important a commodity to be left in the hands of the Arabs."

Henry Kissinger

We will have a world government whether you like it or not. The only question is whether that government will be achieved by conquest or consent."

Jewish Banker Paul Warburg

February 17, 1950, as he testified before the U.S. Senate

"If the American people knew what we had done, they would chase us down the street and lynch us"

George H.W. Bush

Let me issue and control a Nation's currency and I care not who makes its Laws

Amselm Meyer Rothschild

The difference between the Jewish soul ... and the soul of all the Gentiles ... is greater and deeper than the difference between the soul of a man and the soul of an animal.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook (1865-1935)

"Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that . . . I want to tell you something very clear: Don't worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it."

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, October 8th. [This quote is certainly a fabrication A.I.]

For more than a century, ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American Political and economic institutions.
Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as `internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure - one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty and I am proud of it.
David Rockefeller, from his autobiography "Memoirs"

"All vows, obligations, oaths or anthems, pledges of all names, which we
have vowed, sworn, devoted, or bound ourselves to, from this day of
atonement, until the next day of atonement (whose arrival we hope for in
happiness) we repent, aforehand, of them all, they shall all be deemed
absolved, forgiven, annulled, void and made of no effect; they shall not be
binding, nor have any power; the vows shall not be reckoned as vows, the
obligations shall not be obligatory, nor the oaths considered as oaths."
Yom Kippur - The Talmud

"We must realize that our party's most powerful weapon is racial tensions. By propounding into the consciousness of the dark races that for centuries they have been oppressed by whites, we can mold them to the program of the Communist Party. In America we will aim for subtle victory. While inflaming the Negro minority against the whites, we will endeavor to instill in the whites a guilt complex for their exploitation of the Negroes. We will aid the Negroes to rise in prominence in every walk of life, in the professions and in the world of sports and entertainment. With this prestige, the Negro will be able to intermarry with the whitesand begin a process which will deliver America to our cause. Israel Cohen, A Racial Program for the Twentieth Century, 1912


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism

Normal human: What's anti-semitism?
Zionist: Well, since Israel is a Jewish state, any criticism of Israel is anti-semitism.
NH: Israel is a Jewish state and has acted despicably toward the Palestinians. It deserves criticism!
Zio: Ooh! You anti-semite! How could you say such a thing! Are you a Nazi? Oh!oh!oh! Anti-semite!
NH: Actually, Israel's despicable actions have made anti-semitism almost respectable.
Zio: Oooohh!! [Faints rather than acknowledge facts evident to everyone else.]

Zionists are experts at propaganda, disinformation, denying facts and outright lying. Any criticism of Zionism or of Israel is labelled as "anti-semitism", where this is interpreted to mean "anti-Jewish". This is a slanderous falsehood. Criticism of Zionism is criticism of a particularly ugly political movement, not criticism of a religion or of the adherents of a religion. One may be critical of Zionism and of Zionists while at the same time being quite tolerant of, or well-disposed toward, or even an adherent of, the Jewish religion (as we see from the websites cited above).

Here's a clear case of criticism of the state of Israel being classified as "anti-Semitism". It's a cheap trick and should never be allowed to pass without refutation. Israel has as much right to exist as you have to give your neighbor's house to your relatives and force your neighbour to live in the street, but to assert this is not to cast aspersion upon Jews. Israel is an apartheid state because of the way the Israeli government (with the support of most Israelis) treats Arabs within its borders as second-class citizens and because of its attempts to destroy Palestinian society in the occupied territories so as to rid the land of Arabs and make it suitable for Israeli annexation, but to suggest this is not to make any criticism of Jews, but rather, of Israelis — and they richly deserve it.

Ken Livingstone: This is about Israel, not Anti-semitism

For 20 years Israeli governments have attempted to portray anyone who forcefully criticises the policies of Israel as anti-semitic. The truth is the opposite: the same universal human values that recognise the Holocaust as the greatest racist crime of the 20th century require condemnation of the policies of successive Israeli governments — not on the absurd grounds that they are Nazi or equivalent to the Holocaust, but because ethnic cleansing, discrimination and terror are immoral.

There is a lot more to this letter, which has quotes from anti-Zionists like Israel Shamir, Jimmy Carter and Professor Mearsheimer. The above should certainly convince everyone that Anti-Zionism has nothing to do with anti-Semitism, right? The Talmud, which was written about 1600 years before Zionism existed was a Zionist document, correct? And George H.W. Bush is a famous Zionist, right? And the civil rights movement, that is certainly a disgraceful Zionist plot too,

These gentleman are all waiting to get your emails in praise of their courageous and progressive humanitarian stance against the Zionist menace, George H.W. Bush and racial miscegnation.

Ami Isseroff

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Protest against perpetrators of the Gaza Massacre

Hurry up and protest against the evil perpretrators of the Gaza Massacre!
Whose fault is the "Gaza Massacre?
According to UN estimates, thus far about 51 civilians have died in Israel's Gaza raids, out of about 300 fatalities. One child is one too many, but that's true for Israeli fatalities as well. If Israel wanted to kill civilians at random, it need only bomb an apartment complex or two. It would not be necessary to gather any intelligence or to take several days to plan strikes. Many more than 300 people could be killed in an hour. Considering that Hamas deliberately locates military facilities and rocket launchers in the middle of heavily populated areas, the ratio of civilian casualties is low.  Hamas makes no bones about the fact that it uses civilians as shields. Here are two videos to prove it.

The first video shows a talk by Hamas representative Fathi Hamad. Here is the translation of the main part of his remarks. :

"For the Palestinian people death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly [Palestinians] created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: We desire death as you desire life."
Link for Gaza Massacre Video if you cannot see it above.  

And here is another. Israelis called a terrorist and told him he had five minutes to evacuate his house. So the terrorist called a lot of friends to come and act as human shields.
Click Link for Second Gaza Massacre video  if you cannot see the above.

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UN Secretary general condemns Israel, Hamas

UN's Ban condemns Israel's 'excessive use of force' in Gaza,7340,L-3646810,00.html
Secretary-general strongly condemns both Hamas and Israel for continued fighting, expresses concern over rising number of civilian casualties in Gaza Strip. ban slams world leaders for not doing enough to mediate ceasefire
Yitzhak Benhorin
Published:  12.29.08, 21:03 / Israel News
WASHINGTON – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday condemned Israel's "excessive use of force" in the Gaza Strip and said that international powers were not doing enough to force a ceasefire on the two sides.
Ban made the statements at a press conference held at the UN's headquarters in New York.
"I am deeply alarmed by the current escalation of violence in and around Gaza. This is unacceptable. I have been repeatedly condemning the rocket attacks by Hamas militants against Israel. While recognizing Israel's right to defend itself, I have also condemned the excessive use of force by Israel in Gaza.
Ban said he was particularly concerned about the harm caused to children in Gaza: "The frightening nature of what is happening on the ground, in particular its effects on children - who are more than half of the population - troubles me greatly. I have continuously stressed the need for strict observance of international humanitarian law.
"I am also pained at the death, injury and damage to United Nations personnel and premises as well as to others associated with our programs."
Ban stated that both Hamas and Israel must halt all violence immediately and enter dialogue over a ceasefire.
He further criticized world powers for not doing enough to stop the fighting:" I think regional and international partners have not done enough. They should do more. They should use all possible means to end the violence and encourage political dialogue, emphasizing peaceful ways of resolving differences."

France trying to negotiate truce
According to the UN chief, Arab foreign ministers are going to meet soon in emergency session. "I urge them to act swiftly and decisively to bring an early end to this impasse. At the same time, other world leaders must also step up efforts to support a longer term resolution of the issue."
He also reiterated his call that unhindered access should be ensured for the delivery of humanitarian assistance into the Strip.
Meanwhile, a diplomatic source in France said Monday that French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is trying to negotiate a humanitarian truce to halt Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip and let in medical aid.
The source said Kouchner had spoken to several European and Middle Eastern foreign ministers during the day, including Israel's Tzipi Livni and Egypt's Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

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Two Israelis die as rockets reach as far north as Yavne

Cleared for publication - other fatality was a career IDF officer.
Mortar shells fired by Palestinian terrorists kill one person in Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, wound two other, one of them seriously. Meanwhile rocket attack on Ashdod leaves one woman dead, another seriously hurt. Hamas, PRC claim responsibility for fire
Shmulik Hadad
Latest Update:  12.30.08, 00:57 / Israel News
Hamas pounds southern Israel: Three days after Operation Cast Lead was launched, Hamas has stepped up its attacks on Israel Monday evening. Heavy mortar shell and rocket barrages rained on Ashdod, Ashkelon, Netivot and the western Negev, leaving two people dead and at least nine wounded, with two of them sustaining serious to critical injuries.
Irit Sheetrit, 39, was killed after rockets fired from Gaza exploded in the coastal town of Ashdod north of Ashkelon. Although she managed to get out of her car and take cover on the ground, she was wounded critically and later succumbed to her injuries. Her sister, Ayelet Morduch, was also in the vehicle and sustained light wounds.
The two sisters were on their way back home from the gym when a rocket explodede near their car shortly after 9 pm. Sheetrit is survived by her husband and four children. Hamas' military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the shooting.
The Magen David Adom emergency services said three more people were lightly injured in the attack. Several people were treated for shock at the site. All injured were taken to the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.
 The hospital's Deputy Director, Dr. Eitan Haver, said both sisters sustained wounds to their entire body.
"We were dealing with serious injuries; it was clear that the missile landed near them," he said. "The deceased sustained shrapnel wounds to her entire body."
Earlier Monday, Palestinian terrorists fired mortar shells at the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, killing one person and injuring five, one of them critically and the other lightly.
The injured were evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
The Salah al-Din Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, said they were behind the strike.

Rocket reaches Yavne
Later Monday, rockets were fired at the town of Ofakim; one person sustained moderate head wounds and was taken to hospital, along with three people who suffered from anxiety. A rocket also landed in the Yavne area, some 40 kilometers away from Gaza, making the furthest point hit by Hamas thus far.
Two rockets landed in Ashkelon Monday evening, one of them inside the yard of an elementary school located close to several kindergartens. Some of the buildings sustained heavy damage and residents reported of power outages as a result of the explosion.
Some 80 rockets have been fired at israel throughout Monday. Hani al-Mahdi, 27, was killed after a Grad rocket directly hit a construction site in Ashkelon in the morning hours. Sixteen people were injured in the strike.
Ilana Curiel contributed to the report

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Palestinian girl:"I say Hamas is the cause of all wars."

Gaza Update 6
Dec. 29, 2008Palestinian Media Watch
A Palestinian girl whose family members were killed yesterday in Gaza:

"I say Hamas is the cause of all wars."
by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
Palestinian Media Watch:
p:+972 2 625 4140 e:
f: +972 2 624 2803 w:

A Palestinian girl whose family members was killed yesterday in Gaza after an Israeli air attack was interviewed today on Palestinian TV and placed the blame for the war on Hamas:
[Girl]     "We were sleeping 7 girls in the room. We were asleep and didn't know what was happening. In the morning all the bricks were on top of my head, and the heads of all my sisters. My 4 year old sister next to me was
 [Interviewer]     "How many were you?"
[Girl]     "Seven.In the other room were my mother, my father, my yonger brother and another sister, who is 13 days old. I say, Hamas is the cause, in the first place, of all wars."
[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas) Dec. 29, 2008]

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Israeli FM Livni: Gaza Operation - December 29

Address by Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni
at the Knesset on the IDF operation in the Gaza Strip

29 December 2008 Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Address by Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni at the Knesset on the IDF operation in the Gaza Strip

Since this past Saturday morning, Israel has been fighting the terrorist rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip in order to change the security situation in Israel - the situation in which the citizens of the western Negev and the entire State of Israel have been exposed to incessant bombing out of Gaza. These are days of ordeal, responsibility and considered judgment, and not days for criticism, factionalism and politics.

Esteemed Members of Knesset, these days the world is divided between moderates and extremists, between those who believe in live-and-let-live and those who try to impose their beliefs upon others, between people who wish to live in peace and people for whom hate, incitement, terror and violence are their daily routine, the basis for educating their children, and the voices emanating from some of their mosques.

These are the days when every individual in the region and in the world has to choose a side. And the sides have changed. No longer is it Israel on one side and the Arab world on the other. No longer is it a choice between the political process and hope, or a war on terror. Israel chose its side the day it was established; the Jewish people chose its side during its thousands of years of existence, and the prayer for peace is the voice sounded in the synagogues.

There is one thing I am unwilling to accept. Choosing peace does not mean surrendering to the radical and terrorist elements. And while fighting terror, it is forbidden to abandon the political process and hope. Choosing peace and life is part of the war on terror and extremism. And Israel's side, the right side, is the side of all those who want to advance the peace process based on the idea of two states and everyone who understands that we need to fight against our common enemies.

Let no one make the mistake of thinking that our values, our aspirations for peace, and our commitment to democracy will prevent us from doing what we must do in order to protect each and every Israeli citizen. Israel is making it plain yet again today that its desire for peace is not a sign of weakness. Israel is proving that it has the ability, the will and the social and political cohesiveness to defend itself against those seeking to inflict harm upon it.

Many voices are making themselves heard throughout the world today in English, French and Arabic, and, in a clear, strong voice, we are telling them all the truth that is not broadcast on television in the Arab world - and this is the truth that needs to be voiced from this podium to the entire world.

The true conflict is between the extremist elements and the moderates in the region. Hamas is an extremist Islamic organization that does not represent any of the Palestinian people's aspirations, but rather is ruling them for its own ends and purposes. Hamas does not recognize the existence of Israel or Israel's right to exist here. It lives off fear and hate. Hamas receives support from Iran and Syria, in the form of money, weapons, and training. Hamas is a terrorist organization.

Israel is on the right side. We made a strategic decision to advance the peace process with those who have chosen the same side as us and wish to promote the idea of two states. We immediately made it clear that we can only succeed if at the same time we all take a stand against the terror and hate that Hamas represents.

When we made the decision to leave Gaza in order to disengage ourselves from responsibility for what was happening there and to create an opportunity for peace, we clarified at the time that Israel is not leaving the key to its life and security in the hands of whoever will be in charge there.

Hamas, which is ruling Gaza, refuses to accept the three conditions of recognizing Israel, renouncing terror, and accepting previous agreements. We will not accept the use of any similar language when it comes to Hamas and Israel. We are responsible for our security. Israel's approach to security does cannot be put off to later. We retained the capability to respond, and that is exactly what we are doing today.

Israel has been under attack from Gaza for the past eight years. We did everything we could to prevent a deterioration of the situation. We agreed to the calm that was immediately violated by Hamas when it refused to advance the release of Gilad Shalit, continued to arm itself, and continued firing. The calm was violated by Hamas. Hamas is the party responsible for violating the calm; and whoever has given Hamas support, assistance and refuge is today paying the price.

Israel is entitled to defend itself against any attempt to harm its sovereignty, the well-being of its residents and the security of its citizens. Israel's actions fulfill its basic right to self defense. Hamas is a terrorist organization – and we are treating it as such.

Israel is acting against Hamas and not against the Palestinian population. Israel would like to reiterate to anyone with complaints about the population, to redirect them to the party directly responsible for the population's situation – Hamas, which is holding the population hostage.

Israel has done everything possible to avoid the moment at which it would be forced to take action, but that moment finally came. We will make the most of it, in order to change the equation.

Israel is waging a struggle, but this struggle is not Israel's alone. Israel is standing on the frontlines of the Western world's war against terror, and we expect support for doing the right thing and fighting the war of the entire free world.

It is true: the pictures broadcast on television all over the world are provoking harsh public opinion against Israel. Unfortunately, some of the world's decision makers are swayed by public opinion and the media, even though they know what is true and what is not, and how they would act in a similar situation.

From this podium, I call upon the world's leaders, and particularly those from the Arab world – those who understand that the threat does not come from Israel but from the radical elements in the world, headed by Iran; those who know what Hamas really is; those who know that Hamas is a problem for the entire Palestinian people and not just Israel's problem. They know that as long as Hamas rules in Gaza, Gaza cannot be part of a Palestinian state. They know that the road to peace passes through the war on terror, extremism, hate and incitement, which means a war against Hamas and those like Hamas.

It is the leader's responsibility to make choices. Leadership has the power and the responsibility to do what is right, even if runs counter to public opinion, and this is the test of what is right.

This is also a test of the leadership of the Arab public in Israel. You are leading the Arab population here on a thin rope. The thin line between what is allowed and what is forbidden must not be crossed - between legitimate and illegitimate, between right and wrong. Each of you must choose a side, and the choice is between Arab and Jew. The right side is the State of Israel along with all the moderate elements in the region, including the lion's share of the Palestinian public and the Arab world. Then there is the side of terror and extremism. There is no middle ground.

Yesterday I was in Sderot with the foreign ambassadors, and the mayor told them a story that I would like to share with you as well. Schoolchildren who wanted to prove their rabbi wrong held a butterfly in their hands and asked him if it was alive or dead. If he said alive, they would crush it; if he said dead, they would open their hands and set it free. Upon being asked, the rabbi responded, "It is in your hands. If you wish, it will live. If you wish, it will die."

Israel knows how to rally together when it is fighting for its own. A country must protect all its citizens. On the way here, I heard that Hamas has announced that the man killed by the rocket strike in Ashkelon was a Zionist, although he was actually an Israeli Arab. They don't make that distinction.

We have conducted ourselves with unsurpassed restraint. We grinded our teeth, bit our lips, unturned every stone, to prevent the need for widespread action. However, our responsibility is to the safety of our children, their right to walk to school and kindergarten. Living quietly is the right of every person on this earth. This parliament, like this entire nation, needs to be united and to send out our thanks to the IDF, to the members of Israel Security Agency, and to all those fighting and protecting the home front. The home front that has become the front line in recent years, and to which we must restore peace of mind.

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Hamas Katyusha rockets critically wound 2 Israelis in Ashdod, kill Bedouin "Zionist" in Ashkelon

According to the Hamas Web site, Hani al Mahdi, a Bedouin from the village of Aroer, was a "Zionist" that they killed. Media generally repeat that Palestinian rockets do not kill anyone, which is untrue. Low fatalities from the 5,000 rockets and thousands of mortar shells are due to Israeli civil defense measures. Before there was a warning system there were several fatalities. Fatalities will climb if the problem is not handled, because Hamas are now using regular army ordnance - combat weapons - not home made rockets, and their range and accuracy is "improving."
Last update - 21:53 29/12/2008       
Two Israelis critically hurt as rocket fired from Gaza hits Ashdod
By Amos Harel and Yanir Yagna, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service, and Reuters
Two Israeli civilians were critically wounded on Monday evening as a Katyusha rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a bus stop in Ashdod, some 35 kilometers from the Gaza Strip.
Three people were lightly hurt in the attack.
Hamas missiles first hit near Ashdod on Sunday. Monday's attack marked the first time the city suffered casualties from missiles, as Israel concluded a third day of aerial assaults on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.
The Katyusha attack came hours after 27-year-old Israeli construction worker Hani al Mahdi, from the Bedouin village of Aroer, was killed in a rocket attack in Ashkelon.
Fourteen people were wounded in the attack on Ashkelon, as the rocket exploded near a construction site in the coastal town.
Most of the victims were construction workers from the Galilee village of Manda and the Bedouin town of Rahat. Five were considered in serious condition, four sustained moderate wounds, and five suffered light injuries.
The man who was killed was named as 27-year-old construction worker Hani al Mahdi, from the Bedouin village of Aroer.
Curious onlookers gathered at the scene despite the Home Front Command's directive to avoid loitering in groups outdoors.
At least 60 rockets have been fired into Israel since Monday morning. Several of the rockets hit Ashkelon, while others struck Sderot and other rocket weary communities in the western Negev. One home in Sderot sustained a direct hit. Channel 2 reported that the residents of the home have been treated for shock.
"I'm standing next to the body," Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin told Israel Radio by telephone on Monday. "To my great regret, we have a fatality. He was killed."
Sirens wailed intermittently on Monday morning in Ashkelon as television crews captured footage of panicked residents seeking cover from the incoming projectiles.
On Sunday, Gaza-based Palestinians launched a barrage of at least 40 rockets at the western Negev on Sunday, as the Israel Air Force continued to bomb targets in the Strip.
Two Katyusha rockets, with a diameter of 122 mm, exploded near Ashdod on Sunday. More than 30 kilometers from Gaza, this was the deepest into Israel a Palestinian rocket has yet to strike.
The Katyushas, which are the most improved versions of the Palestinian rockets, have a range of up to 40 kilometers. The particular rockets that struck on Sunday traveled 37 and 35 kilometers.

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Arab opinion: The Blood of Gaza…A Business Venture!

This editoral was published in As-Sharq al-Awsat, the leading international Arab daily. The author is the editor-in-chief.
The Blood of Gaza…A Business Venture!

By Tariq Alhomayed

A grim and bloody theatrical play named the "Palestinian cause" has been recurring for decades, with the same scenes, and lies; there is nothing new except for its victims. [A play with] opportunistic factions and Israeli crimes, and Arab denunciation and condemnation.
What is the difference between what is happening in Gaza and what took place in the Israeli-Hezbollah War [2006 Lebanon War]?
Nothing! In Lebanon 1200 Lebanese citizens were killed in comparison to two Israelis, while today in Gaza one Israeli was killed in comparison to 270 Palestinians, and this number is expected to increase.

Of course Hamas leaders have asked the Arabs for more than statements of condemnation, indeed [they have asked us] to surrender our will with regards to war and peace to Hamas! Khalid Mishal [leader of Hamas political bureau] will decree when to make peace, and when to launch rocket attacks, while we hear and obey!

The lines of coordination are clear; Hezbollah prepared public opinion more than a week ago by calling for demonstrations for Gaza which resulted in forceful demonstrations in Bahrain. While today the Iranian-affiliated Hezbollah group released a statement saying that "denunciation by the Arab League and the Arab countries is no longer enough to cover its shameful political stance, because allowing the siege of the Palestinian people to continue is tantamount to participation in it, instead these countries should support [the Palestinian] people on all military and civil levels to make it more capable of facing this aggression."

This statement is similar to the Hamas statement which said that "it is up to the regional parties to assume their responsibility towards what is happening [in Gaza] and stop Israeli aggression, there are some parties who are not innocent of our people's blood."
While the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood also came out to say that Egypt is complicit in what is happening in Gaza, while not mentioning anything with regards to Khalid Mishal's host [Syrian President Bashar Al Assad] who is preparing to begin direct negotiations with Israel!

And so as was expected today we are facing demands of holding an emergency Arab summit, the question then is what is the difference between this summit [perhaps to be held in Doha on Friday] and previous emergency summits? What we need is not an emergency summit but a decisive Arab stance, a position that will bring the responsible party to account. If this current escalation was caused by Hamas and Iran to prevent the expected negotiations between Syria and Israel, then let us call a spade a spade. And if [the current escalation] was caused to strengthen the Syrian position, then let that be made clear also.

It is also an Arab duty to inform the public that what Hamas is doing in Gaza –and the thwarting of the peace efforts made by Egypt- is equivalent to casting a vote for Netanyahu in the Israeli elections. For the extremist always look for an extremist [on the other side] to justify his position. Netanyahu's ascension to the head of the Israeli cabinet will justify the actions of Iran or Hamas, or even the existence of Hezbollah weaponry, in Arab public opinion.

Israeli's obvious crimes must not blind us to what Hamas did and is still doing to the people of Gaza, and to the Palestinian cause as a whole, otherwise we will have become false witnesses in the glorification of bloody positions. Therefore leniency towards Hamas will cause the Arab world to become a partner in [causing] the suffering of the Palestinians.

Standing besides those involved with the [Palestinian] issue does not mean turning them into [political] playing cards to be used by Hamas, and those who stand behind Hamas. The Arabs must call a spade a spade so long as Hamas and those who stand behind the Hamas movement do not hesitate to make accusations and bring charges of treason against the Arab world. Let them bear the responsibility [of their own actions], if only once.
Tariq Alhomayed
Tariq Alhomayed is the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, the youngest person to be appointed that position. Mr. Alhomayed has an acclaimed and distinguished career as a Journalist and has held many key positions in the field including; Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, Managing Editor of Asharq Al-Awsat in Saudi Arabia, Head of Asharq Al-Awsat Newspaper's Bureau-Jeddah, Correspondent for Al - Madina Newspaper in Washington D.C. from 1998 to Aug 2000. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs including: the BBC, German TV, Al Arabiya, Al- Hurra, LBC and the acclaimed Imad Live's four-part series on terrorism and reformation in Saudi Arabia. He is also the first Journalist to conduct an interview with Osama Bin Ladin's Mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a BA degree in Media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, and has also completed his Introductory courses towards a Master's degree from George Washington University in Washington D.C. He is based in London.

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Urgent - Stop Gaza War Crimes

This from the BBC:

Hamas says it is drawing up lists of the wounded - estimated at about 600
Egypt says the Hamas militant group, which controls Gaza, is preventing hundreds of wounded Palestinians from leaving for treatment in Egypt.
Cairo says dozens of empty ambulances are at the Rafah crossing - the only one to Gaza which avoids Israel.
Hamas said it was drawing up lists of the injured but that it was difficult getting them to the border because of the ongoing Israeli air strikes.
Egypt has summoned Israel's ambassador to demand an end to the bombardment.
Hamas officials say 271 Palestinians have been killed and 600 wounded since Israel began its aerial assault on the Gaza Strip on Saturday, but none of the injured have yet left via Rafah.
  [The hospitals] were strangled and starved of essential drugs in the last few months so it's inevitable that they are at a point of collapse

Egypt has helicopters and doctors on standby at the Rafah crossing.
There are also up to 40 ambulances waiting to go into Gaza to bring out the most seriously wounded. Tonnes of medical supplies have arrived at the nearby airport of El-Arish.
But the Egyptian authorities say that, at the moment, they have no-one to treat.
Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the wounded were "barred from crossing" and he blamed "those in control of Gaza" for putting the lives of the injured at risk.
Talking peace
Gaza has been crippled by an Israeli blockade of all but the most essential supplies, leaving even basic medicines in desperate shortage.
The UN Relief Works Agency - the largest humanitarian organisation working in Gaza - said it has had to stop distributing food and that hospitals were "near to collapse".
Spokesman Christopher Gunness told the BBC that the organisation was struggling to maintain its 18 clinics in Gaza.
"[The hospitals] were strangled and starved of essential drugs in the last few months so it's inevitable that they are at a point of collapse when they're faced with the influx of patients that they're now facing," he said.
"The guns simply must fall silent and people must start talking peace."

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Israeli scientists reverse brain birth defects using stem cells

Israeli scientists reverse brain birth defects using stem cells
By ISRAEL21c staff   
December 25, 2008
Israeli scientists have succeeded in reversing brain birth defects in animal models, using embryonic stem cells to replace defective brain cells.
The findings could lead in the long term to a significant breakthrough in the treatment of neural and behavioral birth defects, such as learning disabilities, which are particularly difficult to treat. Unlike neural disorders such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, the prenatal teratogen - the substances that cause the abnormalities - act diffusely in the fetal brain, resulting in multiple defects.
A team of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem-Hadassah Medical led by Prof. Joseph Yanai, were able to overcome this obstacle in laboratory tests with mice, by using mouse embryonic neural stem cells. These cells migrate in the brain, search for the deficiency causing the defect, and then differentiate into becoming the cells needed to repair the damage.
Stem cells may develop into any type of cell in the body, however at a certain point they commit to a general function, such as neural stem cells, destined to play a role in the brain or nervous system. At more advanced developmental stages, the neural stem cells take on an even more specific role as neural or glial (supporting) cells within the brain or nervous system.
Reversing learning deficits
In the animal model, the researchers, including Prof. Tamir Ben-Hur, head of the Department of Neurology at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School and Prof. Ted Slotkin at Duke University in North Carolina, where Yanai is an adjunct professor, were able to reverse learning deficits in the offspring of pregnant mice who were exposed to heroin and the pesticide organophosphate.
This was done by direct neural stem cell transplantation into the brains of the offspring. The recovery was almost 100 percent, as proved in behavioral tests in which the treated animals improved to normal behavior and learning scores after the transplantation. On the molecular level, brain chemistry of the treated animals was also restored to normal.
Through the work, which was supported by the US National Institutes of Health, the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation and the Israel anti-drug authorities, the researchers discovered that the stem cells worked even in cases where most of the cells died out in the host brain.
The scientists found that before they die the neural stem cells succeed in inducing the host brain to produce large numbers of stem cells which repair the damage. These findings, which answered a major question in the stem cell research community, were published earlier this year in the leading journal, Molecular Psychiatry.
Looking for a clinically-feasible therapy
The work of Yanai and his associates was also presented at the second International Stem Cell Meeting in Tel Aviv last spring and is expected to be presented and published next year at the seventh annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research in Barcelona, Spain.
The scientists are now developing procedures to administer the neural stem cells in the least invasive way possible - probably via blood vessels. This will make the therapy practical and clinically feasible.
Today, transplanted stem cells are normally derived from individuals genetically different from the patient, and treatments can lead to immunological rejection. With this in mind, the researchers also plan to work on developing methods to take cells from the patient's own body, turn them into stem cells, and then transplant them back into the patient's blood via the blood stream.
Aside from decreasing the chances of immunological rejection, the approach will also eliminate the controversial ethical issues involved in the use of stem cells from human embryos.

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Madoff and Jewish Business Wisdom

Rabbi Levi Brackman is author of Jewish Wisdom for Business Success, a wisdom that was embarrassingly illustrated by swindler Bernard Madoff. Now Rabbi Brackman tells us: Madoff wasn't acting alone. He now believes that "Dishonest business people must be ousted rather than be legitimized due to their wealth." 
Brackman is perfectly right that Madoff thrived in a  certain environment. It is the environment that makes rabbis write books like "Jewish Wisdom for Business Success." It is the environment that appoints people as community leaders because they made a lot of money, and never mind if they made it honestly, if they won it in a poker game, or if they earned it by smuggling rum, juggling books, selling defective aircraft engines in World War II, Ponzi schemes or selling underwater real estate.  
The problem, Rabbi Brackman, is not why Madoff was able to swindle people for so long, but rather why Madoff got so much more honor than far more worthy people who spent their life in quiet service to fellow humans or in intellectual pursuits, and whose only crime was that they did not "earn" money by stealing it from others. The problem, Rabbi Brackman, is to understand why you -- and why all of the Jewish community -- are so obsessed with money.
The great pillars of the Jewish community today - and we all know their names - got to be that way not because of their great intellectual insights or moral rectitude, and not because of their forward looking vision or brilliant political views. They got to be leaders solely because they have money.
Dishonest businessmen need to be put in jail, not just ousted. Honest businessmen must give over the leadership of the Jewish community to intellectual and moral leaders. How much did Maimonides gross in a year? How about Albert Einstein?  Theodor Herzl was not a millionaire and neither was Chaim Weizmann and neither was David Ben-Gurion or Martin Buber. .
If Moses himself were to return to Earth, he would never be elected a leader of the Jewish Community. He would not be dressed right. He would have nothing in the bank. He would have no "gonneckshuns." 
In a well ordered society, the rich consult the wise as to who to use their money to help people. In the community that is ruled by the Madoff-Brackman ethic, wealth is considered a mark of wisdom. The rich are enthroned as leaders, and  use their money to tell the Jewish community how to think.
A man cannot serve two masters, Rabbi Brackman. Remember that one?  Money is not the source of morality or wisdom, nor a sign of it.
There is no "Jewish Wisdom for Business Success." A wise person values other things above money. .
Ami Isseroff

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Israel addresses the UN

This satire is close to the truth....
Assaf Wohl presents Gaza operation speech he wrote for our United Nations ambassador
Assaf Wohl
Published:  12.29.08, 01:39 / Israel Opinion
Members of the United Nations,
Democracies, dictatorships, republics, and the honorable secretary-general:

Within a few hours, media outlets in your countries shall present horrific photos of blood, fire, and rubble from the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians will be screaming, in front of the cameras, about the massacre undertaken by the State of Israel. Initially, you may show understanding for our operations in the Strip, yet once the photos of wounded civilians reach you, you shall press us, as is your custom, to stop defending ourselves.

The first signs of this phenomenon can already be seen. Calls to "end the violence" from across the world are being heard loud and clear – yet they are only being heard now, after years of violence, and after Israel finally decided to respond. The European Union already rushed to declare that it condemns Israel's "disproportional use of force." Several news networks have brought together panels whose members are scrutinizing the law books at this very moment in order to ascertain whether the Jewish State violated some international law.

I do not intend to deal with the question of where were these condemners and critics for the past seven years, when Hamas' murderers set the timers of their rockets to coincidence with the end of the school day in Israel, because of a declared aim to kill as many children as possible. The question we should be discussing at this time is as follows: Why do the countries of the world and global media outlets obsessively engage in strict criticism that is only directed at Israel? After all, there is not even one country out there that is required to adhere to the moral criteria which the world demands of us – of us of all people, the ones who as opposed to the rest of the world face threats of extermination.

Our Arab neighbors are well familiar with this double standard vulnerability. On their part, they are not bound by any kind of moral code. And so, they learned to exploit the international strictness towards Israel. A long time ago, they already understood that they cannot face the State of Israel on the battlefield. Indeed, when it comes to photographs and videos, they boast uniforms and weapons, yet once the fighting gets underway, they are quick to take off their uniforms and assimilate among women and children used as human shields.

They also make sure to place their arms depots in hospital basements and to fire rockets at population centers out of schoolyards. Their great hope is to elicit an Israeli response that would unintentionally hurt a few children. Once that happens, they will wave their bodies before the cameras and cry out to the world for help. This was the case in Lebanon, and this may happen tomorrow in the Gaza Strip.

Easing Europe's conscience
The states demanding that Israel adhere to certain moral standards do not even dream of asking the same of her enemies. After all, we are dealing with theocracies and dictatorships, where homosexuals are publicly hanged, where women are regularly stoned for undermining their "family's honor," and where children suspected of theft have their arms severed. What do these states have to do with the value of human life? We should therefore ask representatives of global opinion: Be honest with yourselves - Do the lives of humans being butchered daily in Iraq, Afghanistan and Darfur arouse you into similar action? Reality indicates this is not the case.

My answer to the question regarding the obsessive preoccupation with the actions of the Jews is purely sociological. Many of you, the shapers of public opinion, and mostly the Europeans amongst you, are interested in easing your conscience: If only can only show that the Israelis-Jews are not so moral or innocent, perhaps they deserve everything you did to them before they were able to establish their state? After all, here they are, occupying and butchering the poor Palestinians; they are certainly no better than us!
To that end, you are willing to help out the lowliest terrorists. Therefore, you bought into their slanderous Mohammed al-Dura tale, and therefore you will rush to buy into various blood libels in the coming days. Those who launch missiles and mortar shells into kindergartens know that they will always enjoy a protective umbrella from you. They draw their self-confidence from the intolerable ease with which they enlist your public opinion in their favor.

Therefore, you would do well to think twice before you move to stop the punishment they lawfully deserve. After all, you are the only lifesaver that can spare this radical terror group the measure of justice hovering above it.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel Deputy chief of staff: Worst still ahead for Israeli towns

Talking to heads of local authorities in Gaza rocket range, Brigadier General Dan Harel says operation only in beginning, but 'after operation no Hamas building will be left standing in Gaza'. Home Front Command chief instructs council heads to prepare bomb shelters
Tova Dadon
Published:  12.29.08, 13:05 / Israel News
Meeting with local authority heads of southern communities to discuss the Gaza operation, Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Brigadier-General Dan Harel said, "This operation is different from previous ones. We have set a high goal which we are aiming for.
"We are hitting not only terrorists and launchers, but also the whole Hamas government and all its wings." Harel continued to specify, "We are hitting government buildings, production factories, security wings and more.

"We are demanding governmental responsibility from Hamas and are not making distinctions between the various wings. After this operation there will not be one Hamas building left standing in Gaza, and we plan to change the rules of the game.

"The Home Front is automatically the second front in any confrontation," Harel said. "We are helping the local authorities in every way possible, and even if a situation arises in which an authority breaks down during war – we can take over its place."

Council heads meeting with Harel, Golan (photo: Tova Dadon)

The deputy chief of staff said in sum, "We are just at the beginning of the battle, this will not be hasty. The worst is not behind us – it is still ahead of us, and we should be prepared for this. Our resilience will be determine by the functioning of the authority and the way the civilians are protected."

Shelters now
Almost all local and regional council heads from Ashdod in the north to Ofakim in the south attended a meeting with Home Front Command Chief Yair Golan at the emergency headquarters in Kiryat Gat, to voice difficulties they faced in treating the citizens.

Brigadier General Harel was also present at the meeting.

"Open the public bomb shelters, freshen them up and remove squatters by injunction," Golan told the local authorities' heads.

A serious problem faced by authority heads is the lack of fortification in educational institutes, that are supposed to reopen a week after the Hanukkah holidays. This problem stands out particularly among the ultra-Orthodox sector.

Ashdod Mayor Yehiel Lasri said many ultra-Orthodox institutes in his city were set up in temporary buildings and it would be impossible to keep so many out of school.

Lasri was told in response that only cities in a 20km to 30km range from Gaza would be ordered to keep educational institutes closed. The rest would have to find alternative solutions, such as moving to concrete buildings or holding classes in "shifts".
The Home Front Command is investing NIS 3.5 million ($910,000) in fortifying the caravilla site inhabited by Gush Katif evacuees in Nitzan.

A further investment will be made in fortifying caravan sites in other communities in the rocket range.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel has to win in Gaza - for peace

Palestinians Need Israel to Win
If Hamas gets away with terror once again, the peace process will be over.
A quarter century has passed since Israel last claimed to go to war in the name of peace.
"Operation Peace for Galilee" -- Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon -- failed to convince the international public and even many Israelis that its goal was to promote reconciliation between Israel and the Arab world. In fact, the war had precisely the opposite results, preparing the way for Yasser Arafat's disastrous return to the West Bank and Gaza, and for Hezbollah's ultimate domination of Lebanon. And yet, Israel's current operation in Gaza is essential for creating the conditions that could eventually lead to a two-state solution.
Over the past two decades, a majority of Israelis have shifted from adamant opposition to Palestinian statehood to acknowledging the need for such a state. This transformation represented a historic victory for the Israeli left, which has long advocated Palestinian self-determination. The left's victory, though, remained largely theoretical: The right won the practical argument that no amount of concessions would grant international legitimacy to Israel's right to defend itself.
That was the unavoidable lesson of the failure of the Oslo peace process, which ended in the fall of 2000 with Israel's acceptance of President Bill Clinton's proposal for near-total withdrawal from East Jerusalem and the territories. The Palestinians responded with five years of terror.
Yet much of the international community blamed Israel for the violence and repeatedly condemned its efforts at self-defense. The experience left a deep wound in the Israeli psyche. It intimidated Israeli leaders from taking security measures liable to be denounced by the United Nations and the European Union, or worse, result in sanctions against the Jewish state.
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One consequence was an Israeli reluctance to respond to periodic Hezbollah provocations following Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000. This hesitancy allowed the Shiite terror organization to amass a rocket arsenal with the proclaimed intent of devastating Israel's population centers.
Finally, when Hezbollah unleashed its weapons in July 2006, Israel was widely accused of responding disproportionately. It was pressured into prematurely ending its defensive operations in Lebanon, and compelled to accept an international "peacekeeping" force that has permitted Hezbollah to rearm far beyond its prewar levels.
Israelis are now asking themselves whether their Lebanon nightmare is about to repeat itself in Gaza. The parallels are indeed striking. As in Lebanon, Israel in 2005 unilaterally withdrew to its international border with Gaza and received, instead of security, a regime dedicated to its destruction. The thousands of rockets and mortar shells subsequently fired on Israeli neighborhoods represented more than a crude attempt to kill and terrorize civilians -- they were expressions of a genocidal intent.
Israelis across the political spectrum agreed that the state had the right, indeed the duty, to protect its people. But one question remained: Would the international community consent?
That question grew urgent in the days before Dec. 19, when the tenuous cease-fire between Israel and Hamas expired. Nearly 300 missiles landed in Israel, paralyzing much of the southern part of the country. Yet Israeli leaders held their fire.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni flew to Cairo to implore Egyptian leaders to urge restraint on Hamas, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told viewers of Al-Arabiyah Television that Israel had no interest in a military confrontation. If Israel was guilty of acting disproportionately, it was in its willingness to seek any means, even at the risk of its citizens' lives, to resolve the crisis diplomatically.
Yet the U.N. Security Council abstained from condemning Hamas and convened only after Israel resolved to act. The U.N.'s hypocrisy, together with growing media criticism of Israel, is reinforcing Israeli concerns that territorial concessions, whether unilateral or negotiated, will only compromise the country's security and curtail its ability to respond to attack. This fear is compounded when Israelis consider withdrawals from the West Bank, which is within easy rocket range of its major population and industrial centers.
Gaza is the test case. Much more is at stake than merely the military outcome of Israel's operation. The issue, rather, is Israel's ability to restore its deterrence power and uphold the principle that its citizens cannot be targeted with impunity.
Without the assurance that they will be allowed to protect their homes and families following withdrawal, Israelis will rightly perceive a two-state solution as an existential threat. They will continue to share the left-wing vision of coexistence with a peaceful Palestinian neighbor in theory, but in reality will heed the right's warnings of Jewish powerlessness.
The Gaza crisis also has implications for Israeli-Syrian negotiations. Here, too, Israelis will be unwilling to cede strategically vital territories -- in this case on the Golan Heights -- in an international environment in which any attempt to defend themselves will be denounced as unjustified aggression. Syria's role in triggering the Gaza conflict only deepens Israeli mistrust. The Damascus office of Hamas, which operates under the aegis of the regime of Bashar al Assad, vetoed the efforts of Hamas leaders in Gaza to extend the cease-fire and insisted on escalating rocket attacks.
In the coming days, the Gaza conflict is likely to intensify with a possible incursion of Israeli ground forces. Israel must be allowed to conclude this operation with a decisive victory over Hamas; the untenable situation of intermittent rocket fire and widespread arms smuggling must not be allowed to resume. This is an opportunity to redress Israel's failure to humble Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, and to deal a substantial setback to another jihadist proxy of Iran.
It may also be the last chance to reassure Israelis of the viability of a two-state solution. Given the unfortunate historical resonance, Israel should refrain from calling its current operation, "Peace for Southern Israel." But without Hamas's defeat, there can be no serious progress toward a treaty that both satisfies Palestinian aspirations and allays Israel's fears. At stake in Gaza is nothing less than the future of the peace process.
Mr. Oren is a fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and a professor at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Mr. Klein Halevi is a fellow at the Shalem Center's Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies.

Continued (Permanent Link)

The more damage to Hamas, the better the chances for peace

"If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing." Barak Obama - July, 2008
Israel's Gaza Defense
The more damage to Hamas, the better the chances for peace.

Israel's air assault on Gaza in response to Hamas rocket attacks is inspiring familiar international denunciations. But the best commentary we've heard might be this one: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing."
Barack Obama said those words in July while visiting Israel as a Presidential candidate.

Now as President-elect, Mr. Obama is maintaining an appropriate silence while deferring to the Bush Administration before his Inauguration. But his July remarks capture the essence of Israel's right to self-defense. Moreover, the more successful Israel is this week in damaging Hamas as a terrorist force, the better chance Mr. Obama will have to make progress in facilitating a genuine Mideast peace.
Naturally, the conventional diplomatic and journalistic wisdom is that the longer the fight goes on the more difficult the "peace process" becomes. The usual suspects at the United Nations are condemning Israel and blaming it for "excessive" force. Even Nicolas Sarkozy -- who holds the rotating European Union presidency and is considered Israel-friendly for a French president -- criticized Jerusalem's "disproportionate" response.

But as Michael Oren and Yossi Klein Halevi explain, the Israeli public isn't about to make territorial concessions on the West Bank or the Golan Heights if Gaza is allowed to become a neighboring terrorist state that can launch attacks with impunity. Israel has already had a bad enough experience letting that happen with Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon. Meanwhile, the stronger Hamas becomes, the more resistance Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will face to making any concessions to Israel.

The chronology of this latest violence is important to understand. Israel withdrew both its soldiers and all of its settlers from Gaza in August 2005. Hamas won its internal power struggle with Mr. Abbas's Fatah organization to control Gaza in 2007. Since 2005 Hamas has fired some 6,300 rockets at Israeli civilians from Gaza, killing 10 and wounding more than 780.

Hamas did agree to a six-month cease-fire earlier this year, during which the rocket attacks declined in number but never completely stopped. But Hamas refused to extend the truce past December 19, and the group has since resumed attacks, firing nearly 300 missiles, rockets and mortars. The 250,000 Israelis in the southern part of the country live under constant threat, often in bomb shelters, and the economy has suffered. Yet the world's media seem to pay attention only when Israel responds to that Hamas barrage.

Israel's air assault has resulted in more Palestinian casualties, but that is in part because Hamas deliberately locates its security forces in residential neighborhoods. This is intended both to deter Israel from attacking in the first place as well as to turn world opinion against the Jewish state when it does attack. By all accounts, however, the Israeli strikes have hit their targets precisely enough to do significant damage to Hamas forces -- both to its leadership and, on Sunday, to the tunnels from Gaza to Egypt that Hamas uses to smuggle in weapons and build its growing army.

Hamas claims the goal of its rocket attacks is merely to force Israel to ease its strict travel restrictions into and out of Gaza. But those restrictions are intended to prevent suicide bombers from blowing up Israeli citizens in cafes as they did during the intifadah earlier this decade. If Hamas wants its people to have freer movement, it can stop sponsoring terror killings.

Even as Arab leaders have formally condemned Israel's attacks, they have also noted Hamas's escalation. Mr. Abbas yesterday said "We talked to them [Hamas] and we told them 'please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the truce continue and not stop' so that we could have avoided what happened." Egypt's Foreign Minister, Ahmed Abul Gheit, assailed Israel's air strikes but also held Hamas responsible.
 They understand that Hamas, like Hezbollah, is increasingly allied with Iran and its goals for fomenting regional instability.

Israel itself faces a difficult decision of whether to escalate with a ground attack on Gaza. That would help further diminish Hamas, though at the cost of more casualties and greater international disapproval. The worst outcome would be a ground assault, a la the one in Lebanon in 2006, that stirred anti-Israel sentiment but stopped short of achieving its military goals.

The Bush Administration's support for Israel is welcome, though we should note the violence comes at the end of a four-year Bush effort to midwife a Palestinian peace. There's a lesson here for Mr. Obama, who is about to discover that the terrorists of the Middle East aren't about to change their radical ambitions merely because America has a new President.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel destroys Islamic University in new wave of strikes on Gaza

Is Israel really running out of targets?
Last update - 10:22 29/12/2008       
Israel destroys Islamic University in new wave of strikes on Gaza
By Haaretz Service and News Agencies
Israel on Monday bombed the Islamic University and a government compound in Gaza City, key centers of Hamas power, in the third day of its aerial assault on the . Witnesses saw fire and smoke at the university, counting six separate airstrikes there just after midnight.
Other targets were a guest palace used by the Hamas government and the house next to Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh's home in a refugee camp adjacent to Gaza City. He was not home, as Hamas leaders have gone into hiding.
In the southern town of Rafah, Palestinians said a toddler and his two teenage brothers were killed in an airstrike aimed at a Hamas commander.
IAF warplanes bombed the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza on Monday, the first air strike that targeted a government building in Israel's offensive, the Palestinian faction said.
No immediate word was available on whether there were any casualties.
At first light Monday, strong winds blew black smoke from the bombed sites in Gaza City over deserted streets. The air hummed with the buzz of pilotless drones and the roar of jets, punctuated by the explosions of new airstrikes.
IAF warplanes pounded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip for a third consecutive day on Monday and Israel prepared to launch a possible invasion after killing 307 Palestinians in the air raids.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said the military action would go on until the population in southern Israel "no longer live in terror and in fear of constant rocket barrages".
"(The operation could) take many days," said Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Avi Benayahu.
At least 51 civilians in the Gaza Strip have been killed in Israeli air strikes since Saturday, according to a tally by a UN aid agency.
"It is likely to be conservative and it is certainly rising," UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness said on Monday. He said the estimate was based on visits by UNRWA officials to hospitals and medical centres across the Gaza Strip.

Continued (Permanent Link)

One Israeli killed by Grad rocket in Ashkelon

Yes, the rockets are not toys. The grad is regular Soviet military ordinance and it kills people quite efficiently. It is insane to fire such rockets at civilian targets.
Last update - 12:24 29/12/2008       
Israeli killed as barrage of Palestinian rockets pound west Negev
By Amos Harel and Yanir Yagna, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service, and Reuters
One Israeli was killed and fourteen others wounded by a Palestinian Grad missile which exploded near a construction site in the coastal town of Ashkelon.
Most of the wounded are construction workers from the Galilee village of Manda and the Bedouin town of Rahat. Five are in serious condition, four are in moderate condition, and five suffered light injuries.
Curious onlookers have gathered at the site despite the Home Front Command's directives to the public to avoid loitering in groups outdoors.
At least 17 rockets have been fired into Israel since Monday morning - nine which hit Ashkelon, five struck Sderot and four others which struck various towns in the western Negev. One home in Sderot suffered a direct hit. Channel 2 reported that the victims in the home were treated for shock.
"I'm standing next to the body," Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin told Israel Radio by telephone, on the third day of an Israeli air offensive in the Gaza Strip. "To my great regret, we have a fatality. He was killed."
Sirens wailed intermittently on Monday morning in Ashkelon as television crews captured footage of panicked residents seeking cover from the incoming projectiles.
On Sunday, Gaza-based Palestinians launched a barrage of at least 40 rockets at the western Negev on Sunday, as the Israel Air Force continued to pound the coastal territory.
Two Katyusha rockets, with a diameter of 122 mm, exploded near Ashdod on Sunday. More than 30 kilometers from Gaza, this was the deepest into Israel a Palestinian rocket has yet to strike.
The rockets, which are the most improved versions of the Palestinian missiles, have a range of up to 40 kilometers. The particular rockets that struck on Sunday traveled 37 and 35 kilometers.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gaza: What next?

By the end of Monday, the third day of Operation Cast Lead, Israel will be close to exhausting its target bank for aerial bombing. At that point, it will have to either launch a ground operation or bring the campaign to a speedy conclusion. Thus far, however, Israel has been sending conflicting messages about where the operation is headed.
On the one hand, despite its stated goal of a limited operation ending in a new and improved cease-fire, Israel has so far not sent Washington its outline of an acceptable formulation and asked it to begin mustering the requisite international support. And since that process is likely to take several days, if the goal were to end the fighting quickly, Israel's diplomatic initiative should have been ready to go at the same time as its military initiative.
This is especially the case because, unlike in the Lebanon war, it does not have the excuse of having been caught by surprise.
On the other hand, the military mobilization so far is not nearly enough for a major ground operation - and even if the requisite several divisions were called up, they would need a few days of training before they were ready to enter Gaza.
At the moment, therefore, neither a full-scale invasion of Gaza nor a quick diplomatic solution seems in sight
Not mentioned is the possibility of a UN Security Council resolution mandating a cease fire. Evidently, that threat was neutralized before the campaign started, probably by tacit agreement with the US, or perhaps by agreement with more than one power. One of the reasons offered for the slow pace of the battles is careful assessment of damage and firing orders, tied to the realization that a single mistake could lead to massive civilian deaths and international pressure to halt the operation. Israel has reportedly called up about 7,000 reservists including tanks, but it is not known what use will be made of them, if any.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel calling up some reserves for Gaza Op -Why?

It is not clear what the point of this reserve call-up might be, as the UN will probably stop the action this afternoon. If it does not, then 6,500 reservists will not be enough to take on the Hamas forces, which number at least 15,000 according to low estimates.

The Israel Defense Forces will call 6,500 reservists to duty, as part of the largest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip since it captured the territory in 1967.
"The Israel Defense Forces will, in the coming days, call up more reservists," Cabinet secretary Oved Yehezkel told reporters after ministers met for a special session Sunday to discuss the operation, launched a day earlier.
Defense officials said some reservists had already been mobilized to help in protecting communities on the Gaza border from retaliatory Palestinian rocket salvoes. New reservists would help complete the armed forces' preparations for a possible escalation of the fighting, anofficial said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Israel Defense Forces infantry and armored corps troops headed for the Gaza Strip border early Sunday in preparation for a possible ground invasion, military officials said.
Israel Air Force warplanes struck at least 50 Palestinian targets in the Gaza Strip early Sunday, after a day of intensive air strikes that killed some 230 Palestinians and wounded close to 800.
The death toll had climbed to 280 by Sunday afternoon, according to Al-Jazeera. The strikes on Sunday included a mosque and a TV station.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Abbas blames Hamas for Gaza violence; Hamas withholds medical care from wonded

Abbas claimed he told Hamas not to end the cease fire. But in public he was mostly silent and backed the lies about the Gaza blockade. Abbas could also have prevented the attack in Gaza. And now, he is helping Hamas by calling it a "massacre."
Dec. 28, 2008
Hamas could have prevented the "massacre" in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday in Cairo.
"We spoke to them and told them 'Please, we ask you not to end the cease-fire. Let it continue,'" Abbas said during a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. "We want to protect the Gaza Strip. We don't want it to be destroyed."
Abbas called on Hamas to renew the cease-fire with Israel to avoid further bloodshed in Gaza.
Aboul Gheit also attacked Hamas, saying the group had prevented people wounded in the Israeli offensive from passing into Egypt to receive medical attention.
"We are waiting for the wounded Palestinians to reach Egypt. They aren't being allowed to go through," he said.
Asked who was to blame for the dire situation in Gaza, the foreign minister replied: "Ask the party that controls Gaza."
He added that the meeting of Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo Wednesday should call on Hamas to extend the truce.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Tragicomic hypocrisy: Palestinian authority begs for attack on Hamas, then condemns it

According to WorldNetDaily: PA leader 'begged' Israel to hit Hamas. But in public, Abbas and associates condemned the Gaza strikes as 'barbaric,' and 'unnecessary.' This is par for the course, is it not?
JAFFA, Israel – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his office today slammed as " FONT < Gaza. in rivals Hamas his against raid military massive a launch to Israel petitioning been has now months for Abbas Jerusalem, sources diplomatic top according but Gaza, strikes air Israel's "unnecessary" and "barbaric/"
The sources, speaking to WND on condition of anonymity, said Abbas and his top representatives have waged a quiet campaign for months asking the Israeli government to target Hamas in Gaza just before his term in office is scheduled to expire on Jan. 9.
Hamas leaders have repeatedly warned they will not recognize Abbas after the 9th, and that they will launch a major campaign to delegitimize the PA president and install their own figures to lead the Palestinian government.
Abbas hopes a large-scale Israeli military campaign in Gaza would distract Hamas from attempting to undermine his rule, the diplomatic sources told WND.
"It's an open secret among the diplomatic and military brass," one Israeli diplomatic source said. "The campaign from Abbas for us to attack Hamas in Gaza has been intensive."
The source insisted, however, that today's airstrikes were not aimed at helping Abbas, and that Israel hoped to quickly conclude a cease-fire agreement with Hamas whereby Israeli military operations would be suspended.
Despite reported behind-the-scenes advocacy of action against Hamas, Abbas today publicly chastised Israel for the Gaza airstrike.
Speaking during a visit to Saudi Arabia, he told reporters, "There are no reasons for the Israeli raids."
Abbas' office in the West Bank released a statement condemning the raids as Israeli "aggression" and calling for restraint.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, an aid to Abbas, called Israel's actions in Gaza "barbaric."

The WND story is backed up -- partly--  by a similar story in the Jerusalem post, that insisted that PA officials are fantasizing about Israel removing Hamas for them:
Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah said Saturday that they were prepared to assume control over the Gaza Strip if Israel succeeds in overthrowing the Hamas government.
"Yes, we are fully prepared to return to the Gaza Strip," a top PA official told The Jerusalem Post. "We believe the people there are fed up with Hamas and want to see a new government."
Another PA official said Fatah had instructed all its members in the Gaza Strip to be prepared for the possibility of returning to power.
"We have enough men in the Gaza Strip who are ready to fill the vacuum," he said. "But of course all this depends on whether Israel manages to get rid of the Hamas regime."
The two officials voiced hope that the current IDF operation would end Hamas rule in Gaza. They said that the PA was also prepared to dispatch security forces from the West Bank to replace the Hamas militiamen.
However, they denied Hamas allegations that the PA had urged Israel to launch a massive attack to overthrow the Hamas government.
Confirm. Deny. Confirm sort of.
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Right on Schedule: UN Security Council calls for immediate halt to Gaza violence

Last update - 09:27 28/12/2008    
 UN Security Council calls for immediate halt to Gaza violence 

By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent and Reuters
The United Nations Security Council on Saunday called for an immediate cessation of violence in the Gaza Strip, hours after the Israel Air Force embarked on day two of the largest Israeli operation on the coastal territory in more than 40 years.
The UN held emergency consultations Saturday night and early Sunday on the Israeli bombings in Hamas-ruled Gaza and debated whether to adopt a statement urging Israel to halt its military operations without delay.
The Russian-drafted press statement was also to call for an immediate cessation of rocket attacks on Israeli territory from Gaza.
Libya, on behalf of the Arab Group of nations at the UN, called the late night council meeting after Israeli warplanes rained more than 100 tons of bombs on security sites in Gaza on Saturday and early Sunday, killing at least 230 people. Israel said the bombardment - one of the Middle East's bloodiest assaults in decades - was aimed at stopping rocket attacks from Gaza that have traumatized southern Israel.
"There is no justification for this whatsoever,"Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN observer, told reporters before the council began its closed-door consultations. "This collective punishment is inhumane, immoral and should be stopped immediately. There is no justification for punishing 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza because of the actions of a few."
"The Security Council should demand that this be stopped immediately," Mansour said.Libyan diplomats were pressing for an open council meeting and adoption of a presidential statement, which must be agreed by all 15 council members and becomes part of the official council record.
But there appeared to be reluctance among some members to hold an open meeting because of concerns of inflaming the situation.
Instead, Russia circulated a proposed press statement, which is less important than a presidential statement because it does not become part of the council's official record, but still reflects the views of the UN's most powerful body.
The Russian draft expresses serious concern at the escalation of the situation in Gaza, stresses the need for the restoration of calm, and calls for an immediate opening of the border crossings into Gaza and for an unrestricted humanitarian access in the area, including supplies of food, fuel and provision of medical treatment.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday did permit the borders to be partially opened to let in medical supply and basic humanitarian aid, Israel Radio reported.
The Arabs proposed a number of amendments to the Russian text, including
urging Israel to halt its military operations immediately, stressing the
numerous Palestinian deaths, especially among civilians as well as the
destruction of property.
Earlier Saturday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep alarm at the violence and bloodshed in Gaza and condemned Israel's excessive use of force leading to the death and injury of civilians.
He also expressed deep alarm at the continuing rocket attacks by Palestinian militants in southern Israel and expressed deep distress that repeated calls on Hamas for these attacks to end have gone unheeded, UN deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.
"He appeals for an immediate halt to all violence," she said.
During the day, the UN said Ban made calls about the escalating violence to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the presidents of Egypt and Turkey, the foreign ministers of Russia and Britain, the head of the Arab League and the European Union's foreign policy chief.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Saturday said that the United States hold Hamas responsible for the renewal of violence in the Gaza Strip. Nearly 230 Palestinians and one Israeli have been killed since the fighting began on Saturday morning,
Rice briefed President-Elect Barack Obama, who is on holiday vacations with his family in Hawaii, on the situation in Gaza. President George W. Bush has spoken to regional leaders and the administration will remain in close contact, the White House said in a statement.
Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard also blamed Hamas for the breakdown in calm, saying: "Clearly, we are calling on Hamas and other militants to cease shelling southern Israel. Obviously they have broken the cease-fire and engaged in an act of aggression against Israel. Israel has responded. We are echoing the calls from around the world for parties to move back to a ceasefire."
Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a statement denouncing the violence and calling on both sides to show restraint.
"China expresses serious concern about the escalation of the tense situation in Gaza, denounces actions that cause injuries and deaths to ordinary people, opposes the use of military force in resolving disputes, appeals to related parties to exercise maximum restraint and to settle differences through dialogue," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang in a statement posted on the ministry's website.
Indonesia accused Israel of breaching the terms of the Annapolis accord drafted in late 2007 and called on it to cease attacking Gaza.
"The Indonesian government is deeply upset by the deaths of about 150 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip caused by the Israeli missile attacks. The Indonesian government condemns the attack and calls for Israel to end the use of violence in the Gaza Strip because this will prompt new tensions, while, on the other side, the attack is an abuse of the Annapolis agreement which had been negotiated," Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said in an official statement carried by the Jakarta Post newspaper.

Continued (Permanent Link)

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