Representative Brian Baird (Washington Democrat) a protege of the J Street Lobby, is on a solidarity visit to Gaza, to show his support for the genocidal, racist, religious fanatic reactionary Hamas regime there. Baird told Gaza students that the United States should break the Israeli blockade of Gaza:
"We ought to bring roll-on, roll-off ships and roll them right to the beach and bring the relief supplies in, in our version of the Berlin airlift,"
So much for the "unbreakable bond" between Israel and the United States. So much for J Street's "pro-Israel" politics. Baird was an honorary host of the J Street Gala dinner. Baird and about 50 other congresspersons, along with J Street, were signatories of a recent letter calling on President Obama to life the Gaza siege and let Hamas have the materials it so desperately needs to rebuild its terror capabilities, as well as to ensure that a satisfied population will support the Hamas regime. The supposed rationale of the policy was that improving the lot of the population would make them more likely to support compromise and peace proposals. This is analogous to claiming that the allies should have lifted the blockade of Nazi Germany in order to put the Germans in a friendlier mood. The Democratic party got a gift from the Republican Jewish Coalition, which made out that the letter is even worse than it is, and circulated inaccurate information about it. This allowed apologists for the letter to blunt criticisms by shifting the issue to the RJC's misrepresentations.
But the letter was not enough for Baird, since he is evidently an all-out open Hamas supporter, and insists that the US must show solidarity with the Hamas in the same way it showed solidarity with blockaded Berlin in 1948.
If you live in Washington State, please write to Congressman Baird, though he has announced his retirement. Every US citizen, especially Democratic Party supporters, can and should write to these contacts to protest support for Hamas by J Street and by Democrat law makers:
National Jewish Democratic Council, Marc Stanley Chairman - http://www.njdc.org/forms/sign/contact (fill out the form to contact the Washington office); By phone in Washington DC; 202-216-9060; New York: firstname.lastname@example.org; Addditional phone, fax and email contacts at the above Web site
Be respectful of persons and institutions and constructive. Focus on issues. Do not confuse partisan political pleading with Israel advocacy - and remember - the Gaza agitation is the work of a handful of senators, it is not policy of the Obama administration and should not be blamed on Barack Obama or any administration personnel.
Pass it on to friends and fellow Democrats.
Labels: Gaza, US Policy
Continued (Permanent Link)
There is no doubt about it. The Goldstone report about Operation Cast Lead (the Gaza war of 2008) is not about "justice." It is based on an investigation initiated with the most malicious intent, by a UN body, the UNHRC, that is obsessed with the mission of delegitimizing Israel. Its major conclusions were decided before there was any "investigation," and the investigation that was undertaken was a bad joke, consisting mostly of collecting Israel-bashing libels from anti-Israel NGOs. Judge Goldstone was enlisted in this nefarious project to provide a fig leaf of respectability for the "human rights" advocacy of countries like Libya and Sudan. He did not exercise the best judgment in accepting the charge and did not conduct a fair investigation.
The Goldstone report was meant to be, and will be, the centerpiece of a vicious PR campaign and UN propaganda persecution against Israel. It gives the usual sources many opportunities to rant about "Zionist war criminals" and "Zionist war crimes" and to attempt to force a UN Security Council condemnation of Israel. Alan Dershowitz has pointed out that Goldstone went beyond the various human rights organizations with his fantastic contention that the Israeli government diabolically planned in advance to murder Palestinian civilians and destroy civilian infrastructure. (see THE CASE AGAINST THE GOLDSTONE REPORT: A STUDY IN EVIDENTIARY BIAS).
However, it is time to say what everyone knows and will not admit. Israel's army probes of the Gaza war crime allegations are not going to satisfy many critics, nor will documents like the one issued recently by the Israeli government, and other reports that are either in preparation or submitted. The Israeli MAG (Military Advocate General) reported that they investigated X number of cases raised ( about 140 at this time) by the infamous Goldstone report and closed them. But the skeptics will dismiss it all as "Zionist propaganda" because they have been convinced, rightly or wrongly, that only an independent civilian inquiry will discover the truth.
Contrary to the impression that some people seem to have, the report presented to UN Secretary General Ban was not the final Israeli rejoinder to the Goldstone report. Israel is preparing a very long report that will be a point by point refutation:
The 40-page “letter” was delivered to Ban, explaining the independence of ’s legal system, and the efficacy of the justice system in the military.
Diplomatic officials stressed that this letter is not the IDF’s answer to the Goldstone Commission report. The IDF rebuttal is currently being completed, and will number more than 1,000 pages and will answer point-by-point all the allegations in the Goldstone Report
The "40 page letter" referred to above may or may not be the 46 page document that is posed at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website - Gaza Operation Investigations - an update. That document details the structure and independence of the Military Advocate General's office and the Israeli investigation process, as well as giving finding regarding some of the cases.
These efforts, which impress Israel's friends, are not necessarily going to convince the the world, and do not change the fact that there were, and are, real problems that require both judicial and administrative or legislative remedies.
The problems are evident even in the handling of the rebuttal. According to Haaretz, newspaper, the letter sent to Secretary General Ban claimed that two IDF officers were disciplined for improper use of white phosphorus in one incident on January 15, 2009. But according to Haaretz newspaper, the IDF promptly denied that any officers were disciplined!
The Israel Defense Forces on Monday denied that two of its senior officers had been summoned for disciplinary action after headquarters staff found that the men exceeded their authority in approving the use of phosphorus shells during last year's military campaign in the Gaza Strip, as the Israeli government wrote in a recent report.
The report, which was a sensation for a day, seems to have vanished without a final resolution - either a clear official confirmation or a clear denial. This is not indicative of an orderly process of investigation, to say the least. If Haaretz is referring to the 46 page update document, there is indeed a report that officers were disciplined in section 100 and what is apparently the same report for the same incident is given in Section 108:
One of these incidents involved alleged damage to the UNRWA field office compound in Tel El Hawa.102 The special command investigation revealed that, during the course of a military operation in Tel El Hawa, IDF forces fired several artillery shells in violation of the rules of engagement prohibiting use of such artillery near populated areas. Based on these findings, the Commander of the Southern Command disciplined a Brigadier General and a Colonel for exceeding their authority in a manner that jeopardized the lives of others.
There is no mention of white phosphorus in that section. In Sections 118-120, the document states categorically that all IDF use of white phosphorus was found to be legal and there were no violations. The Haaretz article related an entirely narrative that is not taken from the document, and their source is not clear. The IDF denial that officers were disciplined for any reason that is quoted in Ha'aretz is also unexplained.
If we don't believe our own report, it is not likely that anyone else will believe it. If different branches of the IDF cannot ascertain whom the IDF punished and for what, there must be at least some procedures that require investigation and correction.
According to the report, about 150 cases were investigated and 36 were referred for disciplinary action. Details are not given for every case. In the entire Gaza operation, we are supposed to believe, almost nobody made serious errors in judgment. We are to believe that almost all the decisions were correct, even though soldiers died from friendly fire, and three little Palestinian girls, whom everyone admits were blameless, daughters of a blameless physician, Dr. Izzeldin AbuelAish, were killed by mistake..Those are three wrongful deaths that we can identify by name. Even the most pro-Israel enthusiast might think it is suspicious if the IDF says, "We investigated ourselves and we found ourselves almost blameless."
If all the IDF decisions were correct, then how did it happen that we waged an expensive and risky war, and at the end of the war there was a lot of destruction in Gaza, but the Hamas
remained stronger than ever? It is unlikely that Israeli generals are war criminals as Goldstone charges, but nobody should get a prize for the planning and execution of the Gaza war. The Goldstone report or some similar kangaroo proceeding, should also have been foreseen by the planners since allegations of Israeli "war crimes" are not new. Even if there were no instances of criminal malfeasance, there was certainly a failure of decision making, and there errors of judgment and lapses in discipline. We all know about the graffiti left in Gaza by various IDF soldiers, and about the inciteful pamphlets initiated by fanatic rabbis and distributed by the IDF "through an oversight." What mechanisms were put into place to correct these problems?
We were assured, from the start, that the Gaza war would not be like the Second Lebanon war. Officers and government officials would not speak out of turn, and would not make pointless bellicose remarks. But pointless bellicosity continued long after the Second Lebanon war, and the Goldstone report used them as "evidence" against Israel. For example, In October 2008, just before General Eisenkott said, regarding Lebanon:What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. […] This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.”
This is the sort of primitive and needless bragging and bullying that used to characterize Arab leaders. It is in a class with the threats made by Gamal Abdul Nasser before the Six day war
. Whatever policies the government adopts, they are not set by the IDF, and whatever military doctrines the IDF adopts, they are not more effective if discussed in public. Wars are not won by rhetoric. If the Israeli government wanted to warn the Lebanese against testing Israeli patience, there were other, more credible and more civilized ways to do it.
Even more pointless were the remarks of Eli Yishai, Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor. He said on February 2, 2009Even if the rockets fall in an open air or to the sea, we should hit their infrastructure, and destroy 100 homes for every rocket fired.
We can point out that these remarks were made after the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead and cannot prove intent, though they might say something about general policy and state of mind They are not evidence surely, as Yishai didn't plan the operation. They were utterly pointless because unlike General Eisenkott, Yishai is not a military authority and is not in charge of military planning.
He should stick to what he knows.
Perhaps the skill of Alan Dershowitz can convince friends of Israel that it is not illegal to call for destruction of homes, as he does so well. But if you require a Dershowitz or a Clarence Darrow to defend you and to produce an exegesis of your remarks in the manner of the Rashi and the Rambam, you are in trouble. Those who are not so well disposed to our cause will take the remarks literally. As the Israeli government had to be aware of the hostile international environment, what possible excuse was there for remarks such as these, intended evidently to garner support from Shas party voters. What is a minister of a religious party doing meddling in foreign policy and military strategy in public? Yishai probably knows even less about military strategy than he knows about industry, trade or labor. What purpose did these remarks serve?
At least some Israeli authorities have understood that an independent investigation is required. Col. Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, who headed the Military Advocate General's international law department during Operation Cast Lead called for an investigation
, though she is apparently convinced that all is well in the best of all possible worlds:"There is not necessarily a need for a commission of inquiry because we essentially know more or less what happened in terms of decision making, orders and targets," she said. "As for the top brass, we have the protocols of government meetings."Nonetheless, she added, "We are now in a situation in which we need to give our friends - who don't want to see lawsuits filed against us in their own courts - the tools to do away such claims, along with other charges against us," she said."If they need a commission of inquiry then that's what we'll give them," she added. "I really don't think we have anything we need to hide."
It is not so clear that everything is under control and nothing can go wrong, as Sharvit-Baruch implied. If she had done her job right during the Gaza war, there might not have been a Goldstone report. Moreover, if everything is just fine, then how did it happen that her remarks, made in confidence to a closed forum, were published the next day in Haaretz? Leaks of this sort are the rule, rather than the exception. What sort of army cannot keep secrets?
Menachem Mazuz, Israel's outgoing government counsel (a title erroneously translated in English as "Attorney General") also explained
why an independent investigation is needed:
"There is a danger here of a 'Serbianization' of Israel," even though the report on the Gaza war was biased and contains unsubstantiated conclusions, Mazuz said. "Therefore I believe that Israel has a clear interest in conducting a serious, expert examination that will deal with the report and produce an opposing report. It would be a serious mistake not to establish some sort of committee. We must remove the shame of accusing Israel of being a country that commits war crimes."
"Some sort of committee" is not enough. There must be a judicial committee of inquiry or judicial proceedings in regular courts regarding criminal allegations. The investigation or trials would not satisfy everyone. The Palestinians, notwithstanding the fact that they won't try any of their "alleged" war criminals and their supporters will continue to rant about Zionist war criminals, backed by the Arab world and degenerates like the Dutch socialite Greta Duisenberg. But friendly governments will at least have a solid basis to reject the Goldstone allegations and to combat the campaign of pseudo-legal war criminal proceedings being waged by Palestinians and their supporters.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi are opposed to a probe. But they are among the "suspects," because part of Goldstone's allegations, the most serious ones, claim that the Gaza operation was planned to harm civilians and to harm infrastructure in order to hurt civilians. Of course, intentional destruction of some infrastructure may have been done based on the doctrine that we must destroy "infrastructure" of terrorists. That is not criminal, but since terror groups do not have and do not need much infrastructure, it is probable that this doctrine is mistaken. But it is clear that suspects in a possible investigation should not be deciding whether or not to have an investigation.
A second investigation, non-judicial, is needed to examine the tactical and strategic and policy aspects of Operation Cast Lead
. Before the next war, we must find out what really went wrong in Operation Cast Lead
, and in the Second Lebanon War
. Obviously, not all the lessons of the Second Lebanon war were learned, because in some respects the Gaza war was a repeat performance. This is true despite the great strides taken by the IDF in repairing itself, and despite the fact that both the Chief of Staff and the Defense Minister had been replaced, and nobody doubts the professional qualifications of the present incumbents. And the problem is not confined to military planning.
The two wars share too many negative characteristics in common: Both were long drawn out operations that generated a lot of destruction and civilian deaths on the enemy side, but did not inflict a decisive blow on the enemy. Both brought charges of Israeli "war crimes."Israel's friends may be willing to help us, especially as the United States, Britain and others may be accused of similar war "war crimes" in Iraq and Afghanistan by the same coalition of terror groupies But friends can only help those who help themselves. And we need a real investigation, because there are real problems that exist regardless of the Goldstone report. The same sorts of problems have been dogging the IDF and Israeli government since the Yom Kippur War
: poor intelligence, poor decision making, poor strategy, neglect of essential preparation, flaws in implementation. Israelis who do not believe me, should consider this example, which is easy to check. What is the status of the air raid shelters in your town. Are they all clean and ready? Were they all opened and ready for use when there was a drill?
After each war there is an "investigation" and we are assured that the problems will not recur, but they do. Condemning the Goldstone report is not enough. Friends of Israel have to understand that along with condemning the Goldstone report, we must call for independent inquiries.
What is more important than the last war or last wars, is the next one. The next Lebanon or Gaza war, if there will be one, is being planned according to the same formula: a long war of attrition featuring air and ground operations. The minister of religion and the minister of rabbit growing will issue bellicose announcements about grinding the enemy to dust and will be duly quoted in the media. The confidential remarks of every military official in closed door forums will make daily headlines. The network and media photographers and correspondents will have weeks to report about the real or imagined agony of innocent Lebanese civilians. The enemy will be able to generate a great deal of Pallywood and Hoaxbulla - dead bodies taken from morgues, staged ambulance emergencies, the same person losing a different home on different days. The anti-Israel lobby will have a PR festival, and Israel
will accomplish no strategic objective other than to strengthen its enemies.
Well-meaning polemics against the Goldstone report, as bad as the report is, miss the point. It is always valid to ask for an independent civilian investigation of criminal actions when there are reasonable suspicions. Justice must be seen as well as done. When the military and civilian decision process has produced two catastrophic failures in a brief period, it is also imperative to hold a serious and probing technical and policy review as well. It is not unpatriotic to mount these investigations. It is common sense, good government and good Zionism.
Labels: Gaza, Hamas, Human Rights, IDF, International law, United Nations, US Policy
Continued (Permanent Link)
Chanoch Marmory, former editor of Ha'aretz, discusses how he was taken in by the Pallywood Muhammad al-Dura fabrication. The supposed murder of Al-Dura by Israeli soldiers, broadcast around the world, sparked the major violence of the so called Second Intifada. Marmory He was not the only one who "bought" the Muhammad al-Dura fabrication. The IDF bought it too. And when I circulated, simply as a point of information, news of a reconstruction that showed that Israeli soldiers could not possibly have killed al-Dura, I was bitterly condemned as a Zionist propagandist. But it was all a lie, just as the "Jenin Massacre" was a lie, and just as the "Gaza Humanitarian crisis" is a lie.
The title "Purity of shame" - "Tohar Habusha" is a pun on a Hebrew expression for ethical conduct.
Translated from the Hebrew
The purity of shame
By: Chanoch Marmory [Former editor of Haaretz]
Release Date: 10/12/2009
Today, when I know more about the way in which the Palestinians related their tragedy, and from across the years and experience accumulated during those years, I can openly accept even the film of German journalist Esther Schapira, "Al Dura - child, death and the truth". Today I know we bought that story too quickly, and cheaply.
It was on my shift, so you can certainly see self-criticism in what is written here. Nine years have gone by since then, and the personal memory of every detail has gone dull a long time ago. But the emotional turmoil caused in me by the scene of father and son, Jalal Mohammed A-Dura and young Muhammad, I remember well. Those were feelings of shame and anger.
In the face of every scene of horror, the emotional reaction of the journalist precedes the journalistic one. Muhammad A-Dura was then my son's age, and it was easy to identify with the pain of the father who had his child lying shot at his feet. But we had to pull together and act as journalists even if the redness of shame often covered the cheeks.
The important lesson the years of intifada had taught me is that there is no way to do real journalism with veiled eyes. And even when the purity of shame blurs the vision, it is forbidden to abandon, even under the most difficult of circumstances, the basic tools of the journalist – curiosity, skepticism and a critical approach. Later it became evident how well the Palestinian side would exploit the embarrassment and shame of journalists like me as a tool in its combat.
The contribution of a minute and a half video segment taken at the gunfire exchanges at Netzarim junction on September 30, 2000 was decisive in turning protest demonstrations over Ariel Sharon's visit at Har-Homa into a complete Intifada. The clip that reflected the story of a son's dying in his father's arms after the two were caught partially exposed in the heart of the gunfire scene was embarrassing and shocking and was taken at face value: The was son killed and the father injured in the exchange of fire – whether it be IDF fire or Palestinian fire.
Wonder for the meaning of the event evaporated completely after the then Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Boogie Yaalon and Major General Giora Eiland stated publicly that the child was shot by IDF fire, accidentally of course. Even when the IDF investigated and retracted to state that Al-Dura was killed by wild Palestinian crossfire, we did not return to it. Anyone who then tried to keep digging around this innocent case the case was seen as a madman or one with a political agenda - or both.
We've left the issue with a certain relief, especially when the blaze swept all the territories and the full resources of journalistic coverage. Today it is clear we should have been more skeptical about eye impressions, also that the eyes were of only one camera: the camera of Talal Abu-Rahma, questionably hot material from the front, where there are those who describe it as Pallywood – the Palestinian video drama industry.
In time it became clear how this market took hold in the world, and especially in Western Europe, what drew the European media to provide with relative comfort and with low risk, bloody stories from the intifada fields of battle to a mostly non-critical audience that is not particularly selective. It was easy for the Palestinians to sell stories to the foreign press, and it was easy for those stories to produce bold headlines.
In disproving at least one instance I was involved personally; in setting things straight in the story of Abu-Ali, a resident of the Jenin refugee camp during the days of "Operation Defensive Shield", which was given in the French magazine "Le Nouvel Observateur" the title: "My Nine children were buried under the rubble". Abu-Ali's house was indeed destroyed during the battle, but his children escaped and were found safe and sound. However, and despite this, the French magazine, which did a very sloppy job, avoided publicly retracting their words.
Today, when I know more about the way in which the Palestinians related their tragedy, and from across the years and experience accumulated during those years, I can openly accept even the film of German journalist Esther Schapira, "Al Dura - child, death and the truth" that was broadcast last night on "Mabat Sheny".
Today I know we bought that story too quickly, and cheaply. We were skeptical towards the IDF investigation, also because the army had a reputation of a body that suits investigative conclusions to its own needs. But from the moment when the army itself took responsibility for the case, we rid ourselves of it, while at the same time we showed impatience towards tests conducted by those perceived as obsessive. In the midst of the intifada there is no time for those who dig around in an old case, when events pile up on the table frequently.
Yair Atinger, the only one of the TV critics who referred this morning to the film that was broadcast last night, offers as a main lesson from it: "Do not believe anything that runs on the screen". I agree with his statement and his words that that "a picture, even a video image, may be the perfect lie, and effective television needs trusting viewers, not necessarily intelligent ones".
However I find it hard to accept Atinger's inclusion of the Al-Dura case into one package with Elvis legends and stories of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, i.e. in the category of conspiracy theories. If you take into account the fact that a minute and a half of photographic material created the great myth of the second intifada, a myth of the suffering, heroism and sacrifice, which generations of Palestinian children grow on, we should have made every effort to get at the truth of the affair. It was our job, to tell what exactly happened. And if not us, anyone who is willing to stick a pin in this myth should have been accepted openly. We had to try to distinguish between bothersome possessed people and meticulous researchers.
The question whether Muhammad Al Dura had indeed been shot by Israeli fire or if it was Palestinian gunfire will no longer get an answer. What happened there in the heat of battle could not be proven any more – especially given that the former Gaza Division commander, Brigadier General Yair Naveh, ordered the immediate destruction of all constructions located at Netzarim junction that were within firing distance of the outpost, and among them the wall that the father and son clung to during the shooting.
Either way, Esther Schapira manages to impress us with the contradictions she found in that video segment: the ground beneath the killed and the injured is without blood stains, fresh blood stains that emerge at the scene later, and blood stains on the video that pop up and disappear and change their location on the body of Muhammad as if they were a red rag he was holding in his hand.
Schapira presents the testimony of the sole witness, the cameraman Talal Abu-Rahma, who filmed for Charles Enderlin, a regular representative of the French network France 2, as false and fraudulent and baseless. She finds contradictions in his testimony that claims Al-Dura died before his eyes. According to him, he watched the continuous shooting from his car for about 45 minutes, took about 18 minutes of film, yet only submitted fragmented footage of one minute and a half of the father and son, when he could allegedly have shot continuously and had a charged battery in his hand. Abu-Rahma inexplicably interrupted the filming and his video did not capture the entire process of extracting the body, though he could have done so.
Schapira finds flaws with the father's version in regards to his own injury. With the aid of an Israeli doctor who treated him before, she proves that the scars he presented as caused in the Netzarim shooting incident were caused in mysterious circumstances for which he underwent treatment in Israel. Her hypothesis: body injuries such as those are caused by Hamas members as punishment for those who collaborated with the enemy, hence the question arising is even wilder: Has Hamas used the father and son forcing them to position themselves at the scene, so that the father will make amends for his crime against them?
Schapira presents the court verdict from a year ago, in which a French court accepted the appeal of Phillip Karsenty, a French Jew who has devoted most of his time to the rebuttal of the Al Dura story. After he claimed that the report Enderlin had broadcast was staged (Enderlin never stayed in Gaza during the shooting, but in Ramallah), France 2 filed a libel suit against Karsenty, and he was convicted initially. The courthouse of appeals did not ratify Karsenty's assertion, but ruled that it is not libelous. During the trial France 2 was forced to reveal the raw material taken before editing, and in a short piece that was not aired the boy, declared as dead, is shown to be moving his limbs.
Schapira does not settle for this. She creates a broader picture, of directing of injury scenes, of conflicting testimonies, of irrational scheduling, and finally raises a claim, relying on a face recognition expert, that the boy who was brought for burial that day at the mass funeral is not Muhammad Al-Dura, but another boy whose name is Rami Al-Dura, who was shot in his head or at least had a marking on him similar to a gunshot wound. From here, in her opinion, the possibility of raising the question if he is actually dead is open.
It is not clear who is this Rami Al-Dura, and under what circumstances was he killed. Esther Schapira makes it clear in the language: she does not claim that Muhammad Al Dura is alive. She just claims that he did not die during the video taking at the Netzarim crossing and that he is not the boy that was brought for burial during the funeral procession. This sounds like a fantastic option, but the whole scene is full of contradictions and inconsistencies. And there are those who made vast political capital from the funeral procession. Elvis case, then, it is not.
The Palestinian myth will remain strong even if there would be found clear cut evidence that the story of Muhammad Al-Dura was staged entirely. There will always be those who will argue that even if it is not clear what exactly happened there, the basic story remains as is: a helpless child was caught in Israeli fire and was shot deliberately. Now that this film was presented to us, it is clear that what you see in the video shots of Talal Abu- Rahma is not the whole story. And possibly, it is an entirely different story. Suddenly, with considerable delay, the need returns to do another round on it, in an attempt to get at the truth. Now I have to know what really happened there. It's not a petty matter and not a question of professional honor. I must know who they are, and of course, who we are.
Labels: Gaza, IDF, Media, Palestine, Palestinians
Continued (Permanent Link)
If Israel gets the body of Gilad Shalit, are we obligated to end the blockade of Gaza and release prisoners?
Sources: Announcement on Prisoner Exchange Deal Close12/09/2009
By Abdul Sattar Hatita and Ihab HusseinIn this regard, the sources also referred to important meetings between Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, Israeli negotiator Haggai Hadas and head of the Hamas politburo Khaled Meshaal on the "prisoner exchange deal." They added that the fact that the Israeli Interior Minister will be accompanying Netanyahu on his visit to Cairo is a good indication, from the practical side, that a prisoner exchange deal will be reached soon.
Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat - Egyptian and Israeli sources stated Friday that Cairo and Tel Aviv are close to reaching agreements on developments in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, at the heart of which is the prisoner exchange deal between the two sides. The sources also stated that these agreements would be made public following a meeting between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.
The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hadas' visit to Cairo lasted many hours and he met Omar Suleiman and a number of his senior aides in order to discuss the details of the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The sources said "the Egyptian President will meet Netanyahu and his delegation over Iftar [the breaking of the fast in Ramadan] in Heliopolis, Cairo, in order to discuss developments in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, the prisoner exchange and bilateral ties between Tel Aviv and Cairo."
On his part, North Sinai Governor Major General Mohammed Abdul Fadil Shousha said that Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border crossing to Palestinian pilgrims trying to make their way to Saudi Arabia. An official at the Rafah border crossing said that Egyptian authorities will open the crossing again next Tuesday for three days so that hundreds of stranded Palestinians on both sides could cross and spend Eid al Fitr with their relatives in the Gaza Strip.
Labels: Egypt, Gaza, Hamas
Continued (Permanent Link)
What is important is not so much the common sense message, but the source of the message.
English:A word of truth: http://tundratabloid.blogspot.com/2009/07/kuwati-newspaper-runs-op-ed-supporting.htmlAl-Watan, Kuwait
19 July 2009
"Allah testifies that they are lying"
A non-governmental Israeli organization claims that the IDF that attacked Gaza and the ostracized Hamas used local civilians as human shields and opened fire indiscriminately. The report by "Breaking the Silence" says the IDF destroyed buildings, mosques and private homes, and includes testimonies by 30 soldiers who participated in the attack on Gaza (2008/12/27–18/1/2009), but without revealing their names or unit affiliation.
However these allegations are to be rejected because the IDF has proved that its troops follow international law and obey orders despite the stress of battle. These testimonies lack sourcing or corroboration, thus preventing any conclusions from being drawn... Furthermore, it was the ostracized Hamas that caused much grief when it fired dozens of Qassam missiles at innocent civilians in the southern towns and villages of Israel. The IDF had no choice but to fight back causing the deaths of 1400 Palestinians, half of them civilians used as human shields by Hamas, in addition to the 5,000 wounded. Israel lost just 10 soldiers and 3 civilians.
The IDF defended innocent Israeli civilians against Hamas attacks and did all it could to prevent harming any civilians, targeting just the Hamas men, to disarm them by aerial bombing, shelling, and the use of heavy tractors, while maintaining the humane principles of the IDF that seeks to win with minimal human cost to either side.
The report by "Breaking the Silence" was unfair, unbalanced, and lacking in proof, so one wonders where it was when Hamas used schools and homes for weapons storage or for missile launchers. Israeli pilots reported many secondary explosions after they hit Hamas targets. Where was that organization when Hamas smuggled tons of illicit weapons through a network of tunnels from Egypt?
Labels: Gaza, Hamas, Human Rights
Continued (Permanent Link)
I thought there is little more to add on the Guardian videos accusing the IDF of war crimes during the Gaza operation, given what has already been written in ZioNation
, in the Jerusalem Post
by the indispensable Melanie Philips
, and more
. And more as these lines are been written, but apparently, there is more to add.
In the first video I was struck by the Guardian reporter's decision to go to the Israeli website 'Shavuz
' for technical information about Israel's unmanned drones capabilities. Shavuz is Hebrew slang for 'worn-out' or over worked. The site serves primarily as a service for soldiers before enlisting and before rejoining civilian lives. It gives advices on jobs, and academic courses along with social interactions in forums, exchange of war stories, and other army life experiences. IT IS NOT a supplier of professional information on Israel's technological capabilities; there are plenty of other sites and publication for that, many of them in English. Using 'Shavuz' for information on technology is the equivalent of using the 'London Employment Help Center' for information on the electronics of the London Tube. It is simply ludicrous; unfortunately there is nothing here to laugh at.
Labels: Anti-Zionism, Gaza, IDF, Israel-2, Media. War Crimes
Continued (Permanent Link)
Maariv in (Hebrew)
Today, Sunday, an IDF officer whose troops fought in Gaza will present the conclusions of his personal investigation in the wake of testimony of soldiers in his brigade about incidents of killing of Palestinian civilians during Operation Cast Lead. The investigation reveals that in at least two of the incidents mentioned in the testimony, which raised a storm of public controversy, no Palestinian women were killed as had been claimed.
Two central incidents that were brought to light in the testimony, which Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-military academy presented to Chief of Staff Gaby Ashkenazi, focus on one infantry brigade. Today the brigade's commander will present the findings of his personal investigation about the matter which he undertook in the last few day to Brigadier General Eyal Eisenberg, commander of the Gaza division,, and after approval, he will present his findings to the head of the Southern Command, Major General Yoav Gallant.
Light Finger on the trigger
Regarding the incident in which it was claimed that a sniper fired at a Palestinian woman and her two daughters, the brigade commander's investigation cites the sniper: "I saw the woman and her daughters and I shot warning shots. The section commander came up to the roof and shouted at me, ?Why did you shoot at them.' I explained that I did not shoot at them, but I fired warning shots."
Officers from the brigade suspect that fighters who remained in the lower story of the Palestinian house thought that he hit the the women, and from there the rumor that a sniper killed a mother and her two daughters spread.
Regarding the second incident, in which it was claimed that soldiers went up to the roof to entertain themselves with firing and killed an elderly Palestinian woman, the brigade commander investigation found that there was no such incident.
According to one of the officers, "The number of terrorists killed and the extent of arrests in "Operation Cast Lead" varied from brigade to brigade because the troops fought in different areas, and as part of the tradition there is always competition to show that your brigade is more combat ready. Nonetheless, the official evaluation has not yet begun and among field commanders there is a fear that troops will bring to light additional incidents that took place during the fighting.
An officer of an elite unit that fought deep in Palestinian territory in Operation Cast Lead told NRG Maariv, "There was a light trigger finger during operation Cast Lead without a doubt, and non-combatant ("uninvolved") civilians were killed without doubt. But there was no deliberate harm done to innocent civilians. I am fully convinced that there was no soldier who shot for no reason out of a desire for revenge. I don't know of any such cases.
Labels: Gaza, IDF, Israel-2, Media
Continued (Permanent Link)
Mr. Ethan Bronner
c/o N.Y. Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10018
In re: "The Bullets in My Box," January 25, 2009
Dear Mr. Bronner,
Forgive me if this letter is not quite coherent. I'm still weeping over your sad plight. You want to be a good journalist by reporting "in a way both sides can accept as fair" and everyone is picking on you. No one's happy. What's a reporter to do? To paraphrase Herr Eichman, you are just doing your job, following your conscience. We all know (we all should know) that there is no such thing as absolute truth. There are only different perspectives, competing narratives. Had you been working for the Times during World War II, you would surely have been the one courageous enough to show the Nazi side (After all, there's always another side to the story): how traitorous Jews betrayed Germany's war effort causing it to lose World War I; how plutocratic Jews undermined the German economy; how Communist Jews were trying to take away the profits of hard-working German citizens; how degenerate Jews were leading to the general decline of culture and morality; how even American auto magnate, Henry Ford, and the inspirational Catholic priest, Father Coughlin, subscribed to Nazi views on the Jewish menace. And, as the advertisers say, there's much, much more. Indeed, a very good case could be made for Hitler's cause. Morality is in the eye of the beholder. If you put a pound of gold on one side of the scales and a pound of baloney on the other, the scales will balance. A pound is a pound no matter what it's made of. If it balances, it's fair. No? A good journalist understands that everyone has his own truth. His job is to keep things even.
That is why you can write that "Among Israel's Jews . . . Zionism . . . is bathed in a celestial glow," even though you know that there is an active peace movement in Israel for whom the word "Zionism" has become radically tainted. Israel's insular arrogance must be emphasized in order to balance your statement that "Zionism stands for theft, oppression, [and] racist exclusionism" throughout the Middle East. Jews may be well-meaning, but they're blind. Arabs may be overly hostile, but they have good reason to be. Each side overstates his case. What's not a good idea is to mention that while there are over a million Arab Muslims living as citizens in Israel, no Jew is allowed to live in Jordan or Saudi Arabia (although Jews once had a flourishing population in the Arabian Peninsula). Forget also that close to a million Jews were unceremoniously kicked out of practically every other Muslim state. And that even though the Arab world is, for all intents and purposes, Judenrein, somehow, it's Israel that's apartheid. But there are no villains, just a "cycle of violence" that goes on and on.
Because everyone's at fault in the "Greek Tragedy" that is the Middle East "crisis," it is important to blame both sides for the failure to bring about peace. Thus you write that "an understanding crystallized over a decade ago over the outline of an eventual solution," but you do not mention that the PLO never changed the clause in its charter that refused to accept the existence of a Jewish state, although acceptance was a core requirement of that understanding. Better to write that "the two sides' narratives have actually hardened." For it would certainly be hitting below the belt to call attention to the ways in which Arafat's P.A. broke all of its agreements within a day of the arrangement with vicious attacks and educational propaganda essentially erasing Israel from the map. And it would be snide for someone to point out that Israel "actually" softened her stance by choosing to ignore Palestinian violations. Even more troubling would be to mention that in 2000 and in 2001 Israel offered deals that "actually" sweetened the Oslo accords and that Arafat turned them down unequivocally (never pondered them, argued them, or came back with an alternative). Instead his response was the second Intifada--suicide bombings--the murder of school children in pizza parlors and buses, the murder of celebrants during a Passover Seder. So, the P.A. has a terrorist wing. So, Israel has settlers. The Arabs make terror! The Jews make concessions! If you want to do business you have to have bargaining chips. Only the Mafia would recognize this deal as a form of extortion called "the protection racket." Besides, both sides accepted the agreement--didn't they? Both are responsible for its failure--aren't they? If Arafat was a bad guy, so was Ariel Sharon.
And if the "bad guys" are on both sides of the fence, there can be no aggressor, no defender. There can be no deterrence, only retaliation (a dirty word). Thus you can write that "opponents of Israel" believe her to be "a kind of Sparta that dehumanizes the Palestinians" as an excuse for her use of "overwhelming force," but it would be tacky to even hint that overwhelming force (a dirty phrase) is the only way Israel has of stopping Hamas rockets. Because that would suggest that Israel's "excuse" for using overwhelming force might not be an excuse. And it would be just as tacky to suggest that Israel could, with minimal risk to her army, have carpet bombed Gaza and Hamas (as well as most Palestinians) would have been obliterated. But that would suggest that Israel's restraint showed she was interested in deterrence not retaliation (You know, that Jewish thing, an eye for an eye?). Nor is it in the best of taste to remind folks how Israel tolerated eight years of weapon smuggling and rocket attacks of an ever-increasing range on her innocent civilians--nursery schools and kindergartens; or that her civilian losses have been low because she has gone to the trouble and expense (cheated?) of building bomb shelters and early warning systems; or that the trauma for Israeli children undergoing years of close calls is comparable to the P.T.D.S of adult war veterans. True! True! But, if a reporter has any decency at all, as you so obviously do, he must consider that the casualty count for operation Cast Lead was so lopsided, it would hardly be cricket to say anything that allows Israel to claim existential necessity. And, as an unfortunate corollary, gives the Palestinians the burden of responsibility.
In the same way (For obvious reasons Palestinians always seem to be getting the worst of things) it's perfectly legitimate to quote those who say that Israelis put "racist graffiti" on walls (I'd be curious to know how prevalent such graffiti are, or if the statement is even true). But it would be racist to bring out the fact that there has never been a national celebration of Palestinian deaths in Israel, whereas thousands turned out on the streets of Gaza and the West Bank to cheer and pass out candy whenever Jews were murdered in horrific explosions by devices filled with nails and poisons or, more recently, when eight Yeshiva students were shot in cold blood as they were studying torah. And it would certainly smack of bigotry to condemn the feisty Gazans who poured into the streets to mock in effigy a captured Israeli soldier who is being kept, against all international standards, incognito with never a single visit by the Red Cross. The barbaric pleasure Palestinians get from reveling in Jewish misery and Jewish blood must be downplayed, rationalized and justified lest charges of Islamophobia be brought to bear. That is why news of the omnipresence of anti-Semitic graffiti on Palestinian walls must be suppressed along with the broadcasts of anti-Semitic libels on Palestinian TV where even kiddie shows watched by three year olds feature a rabbit named Assud who kills and eats Jews. The scales must not tip. Palestinians must look at least as good as Jews. Better! Because to look at Palestinian blood lust squarely would be too appalling. True, anti-Semitism is a kind of entitlement for the poor, down-trodden Arabs, but it's wiser not to hit people over the head with it.
In this eternal war without cause, no reporter worth his salt would charge either side with evil intent. Palestinians may seem a little over-ardent in their struggle against "occupation," but then Israel is only too ready to demonize them in order to justify her "assault" (as one news report put it) on women and children. And you can write about "those who saw in this war an affirmation of their [Israeli's] beliefs--that Hamas . . . hides its fighters behind women and children," even though you know that this charge is not merely a belief but a fact corroborated by eye-witnesses and video tape; even though, in fact, Palestinians speaking among themselves on their own TV stations brag about their citizens' willing martyrdom and the delight it gives them; even though it is a well-known fact that Palestinians have, for years, been putting their families, their children, in harm's way as a PR gambit. But it is standard media fare that when Palestinians kill they are Hamas and when they get killed they are "innocent civilians." We mustn't blame the victim. Yes, Israel has every right to defend herself, but not to violate the rules of war. How an army can defend itself without returning enemy fire is not a question reporters need answer. Point-of-view determines fact.
That is why you can write that "one side says . . . the Jewish nation has returned to its rightful home" and the other side says "there is no Jewish nation," as if every argument were a simple matter of narrative disjunction. Although you know (you must know) that, despite Palestinian efforts to "prove" that there was never a Jewish nation in the Middle East, every archeological study, every legitimate history (including Muslim ones) documents the opposite. And you also know (you must know) that there is not and has never been a Palestinian state because the people who call themselves Palestinians have said to Israel "No negotiations. No recognition. No Peace." And you know (you must know) that before 1948 Palestine was a geo-political territory designated as such since 135 C.E., and that Palestinians were considered Jews (even by most Arabs) until the creation of the state of Israel; and that a unit called The Palestinian Brigade, comprised entirely of Jews, fought along side the British in World War I. And you know (you must know) that those who now call themselves Palestinians have never worked to build a state in the territories they lay claim to by creating viable institutions through government, commerce, and the arts or even by setting forth reasonable boundaries. Instead they turned the lushly developed area where Israel gave them total autonomy into a vast warren of weapons caches, a launching pad for deadlier and deadlier aerial attacks. Why? Because they've based their nationhood on one overarching principle: the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people. No Jew may have a sovereign state in Arab/Muslim territory. No Jew may triumph over a Muslim. It says so in the Koran: "He made you masters of their [the Jewish tribe of Khayber] lands, their houses, and their goods," Sura 33:23. Jews cannot be winners. (It would be too humiliating.) As one who's written about the Middle East for years, you have to know this because it's plainly stated in the charters of both Hamas and the PLO.
But admitting that "occupation" in the Palestinian lexicon means that Israel and the Jews must be wiped off the face of the earth would be to stack the deck against a proud and ancient people whose language, culture, and religion just happen to have originated in the Arabian Peninsula. You might have to acknowledge that the real Palestinians (Philistines) were a sea people from the European continent, invaders who disappeared some 2500 years ago, absorbed into the dominant population who happened to be (Hmm!) Jewish. Well, if there's no Palestine, only disputed territory; no Palestinian ethnicity, only one sample of Arab particularity, of what does the vaunted Palestinian identity consist? Is it a hoax? Could it be that it is made entirely of lies, hatred, bigotry and self-pity? Is this the glue that holds Palestinians together? Dear me, no. Such an ugly characterization must not be promulgated. That would be--mean-spirited
The Palestinians are too abject. The Israelis too successful. "Envy," "intolerance," they're only a "story line," a construct of the pro-Jewish lobby that has nothing to do with reality. Thus it is imperative that you write that "the other side tells a different story . . .;" that you repeat the canard that the Israeli Jews are colonialists who "stole and pillaged, throwing hundreds of thousands off their lands," that Israel was "born in sin" (an Israeli formulation, by the way); even though you know that Jews bought every inch of land they had, land which Arabs were happy to sell at exorbitant prices, until five Arab nations declared war on them.. You also know, I'm sure you do, that if any ethnic cleansing went on, it was done by Arabs whose pogroms pushed the Jews completely out of areas like Hebron where Jews had resided since biblical times. And this was before there was ever a Jewish State. You must also know, I'm sure, that since the middle of the 19th century, Jerusalem was a predominately Jewish city until Jordan purged East Jerusalem of its Jews after the '48 war. Are you lying? Heaven forbid. Unless there's such a thing as the lie of omission. You're just telling what you've heard. What you choose to hear.
As you say, everything depends on who is telling the story. What does it matter if one side strains toward peace and the other is full of murderous violence? If the Israelis are always apologizing, they must be guilty of something. If the Palestinians are always defiant, they are obviously being oppressed. The Israelis have their tanks. The Palestinians their suffering. No back story is necessary. As long as balance is maintained, the reporter has fulfilled his obligations. A reporter cannot lie if he is quoting each side accurately. He is being objective. He is performing a great public service. No one's self-perception should be denied or discounted, even if it is false or falsely acquired. If one side looks bad (or good), the true reporter must make the other side look the same. No favoritism--for heaven's sake. Taking sides is for the Op-Ed pages. Everyone sees himself as victim anyways.
Truth, as you so diligently have reminded us, depends upon the light in which it's shown. Of course, it is the reporter's task to shed that light. Ultimately (the media's dirty little secret), it is the reporter who tells the story. That is why certain uncomfortable glitches must be smoothed out, covered over, or ignored like the emperor's new clothes. And that is why certain uncomfortable stories like the Mohammad Al-Dura hoax gets not one word of press from the New York Times. Again, I'm sure that you must have some knowledge of this affair which is prominent on the internet. It concerns a cynical fraud perpetrated by Palestinians that was instrumental in the death of thousands of people, including that of reporter Daniel Pearl and, if given appropriate attention by the mainstream media, might inspire more than a few pundits to call into question every explanation, every justification, every claim Palestinians make for themselves.
But righteousness (self-righteousness) must never give way to moral fatigue. Fair play demands that other side be given its due, especially when the "other" comes from an exotic culture that the reporter can never really comprehend. He must struggle against his "natural" biases in order to equalize the scales. He must neutralize (neuter?) the issues so that no one side can stake a claim to the moral high ground. He must make blanket pronouncements and all-purpose generalizations so that only noble ends are weighed, never despicable means, especially if those means belong to the underdog. Above all, justice, as well as his journalistic honor, demands that he work the text and shape the context, so that his piece will conform to some abstract model of public virtue. Thus the underdog (as he is perceived) must be raised up and the lucky dog (as he is perceived) must be put down. Deficiencies on one side need to be made up by subtractions on the other (besides, the pornography of violence sells). And, since the Palestinians are the needier, they are the ones who merit the handicap. If they come out slightly ahead, it's only because the Jews tend to win the battles (if not the war). And when Jews are winners the reporter, especially if he himself is Jewish, must, often as not, look the other way. But then again, just as an Ahmedinejad can make homosexuals disappear by saying "There are no homosexuals in Iran," a reporter, particularly one working for as prestigious a vehicle as the New York Times, can always say, "If we don't print it, it doesn't exist."
Labels: Gaza, Hamas, Media
Continued (Permanent Link)
Who is depriving Gaza Palestinians of aid?
East Jerusalem 04 Feb 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UNRWA CONDEMNS CONFISCATION OF GAZA AID AND DEMANDS ITS IMMEDIATE RETURN
At 1430 on 3 February over 3,500 blankets and 406 food parcels were confiscated from a distribution store at Beach Camp in Gaza by police personnel. This took place after UNRWA staff had earlier refused to hand over the aid supplies to the Hamas-run Ministry of Social Affairs. The police subsequently broke into the warehouse and seized the aid by force. The aid was due to be distributed to five hundred families in the area.
UNRWA condemns in the strongest terms the confiscation of its aid supplies and has demanded that it is returned immediately. UNRWA has a strict system of monitoring aid delivery and ensuring that its assistance reaches only the intended beneficiaries. Our officials were on the ground overseeing the delivery of our aid and taking all possible steps to avoid its diversion.
For more information please contact:
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Office: +972 (0)2-589-0724
Labels: Gaza, Hamas, United Nations
Continued (Permanent Link)
Too much talk and not enough action?
Last update - 00:36 01/01/2009
By Barak Ravid and Yuval Azoulay, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and The Associated Press
Israel will not agree to return to the old rules of engagement in Gaza, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday.
"We will act according to new rules that ensure we will not be dragged into an unceasing shootout that prevents us from living life as normal in the south," Olmert said.
Olmert warned that there would be a "fierce and disproportionate" Israeli response in the event that rockets continue to be fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel or directed Israel Defense Forces soldiers.
The prime minister said that the rocket fire has intensified in the last few days that leaves Israel with no choice but to react in a manner that makes its stance on the rocket fire clear.
"I asked the Defense Minister to instruct the IDF to prepare for the Israeli response that is required under these circumstances. The response will be given at the time, place and avenue that we choose."
Palestinian militants fired at least four Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip into the western Negev on Sunday, with one landing in between two kindergartens.
Three rockets struck the Eshkol region, two of them landing in open fields and the third close to the kindergartens. A fourth rocket struck an open field in the Sdot Negev Regional Council area. No casualties or damage were reported in any of the strikes.
Later on Sunday morning, Israel Defense Forces soldiers exchanged fire with militants near the Kissufim crossing on the border with the Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported in the incident.
On Saturday morning one Grad rocket struck south of Ashkelon after a Color Red alert sounded in the city.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said there is no need to wait for a response.
"The reaction must be strong and immediate as that is the only way that Hamas will understand the equation has changed," she said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the security establishment had been instructed to formulate a response.
"Hamas received a heavy blow and if needed will receive another one," he said.
The rockets have demonstrated the fragility of a cease-fire that ended Israel's devastating Gaza offensive on January 18.
Israel halted the operation after saying its goals had been achieved. But Hamas declared victory and militants have kept up sporadic attacks.
Since the cease-fire, militants have fired rockets into Israel and killed one soldier in a border attack. Israel has conducted retaliatory strikes and pounded tunnels Hamas uses to smuggle in weapons from Egypt. Israeli forces have also killed three men Palestinians identified as farmers in violence along the Gaza-Israel border.
Labels: Gaza, Hamas, Palestinians
Continued (Permanent Link)
Egypt has begun installing cameras and motion sensors along its border with the Gaza Strip to try to combat smuggling to the Hamas-run territory, security sources said on Saturday.
The sources said Egyptian authorities had begun installing the equipment two days ago with joint U.S., French and German expertise, and added that they hoped the sensors and cameras would help detect any tunnel construction in the border area.
"Cables that are part of a tunnel detection device are being installed along the Gaza-Egypt border," a security source said, adding the cables were being installed from south of Rafah to the Mediterranean coast.
The source said some cameras and sensors had already been installed, and the cameras would be connected by the cables.
For the 1.5 million people in the Gaza Strip, the tunnels have become a main source of goods, including fuel, since Israel tightened its embargo after Hamas seized control of Gaza from the forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.
Israel bombed the tunnels during its recent 22-day Gaza offensive, and the Israel Defense Forces fears Hamas could use them to re-arm. But many tunnels have sophisticated systems and seem to have survived weeks of Israeli bombardment.
Roughly 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the Gaza offensive before both sides declared an end to the fighting on January 18. Israel says its offensive was aimed at halting Hamas rocket attacks on its southern communities.
Egypt, which has kept its Rafah border crossing with the territory largely closed, has agreed to help stop the tunnel smuggling with international technical assistance.
But no firm plan is yet in place as Israel and Hamas argue through Egyptian mediators about installing a longer term ceasefire that would meet Israel's demands for shutting off the arms supply and Hamas' demands for an easing of the blockade.
Egypt arrests politician for sneaking into Gaza
A security official says a former Egyptian opposition lawmaker has been arrested for allegedly using a smuggling tunnel to sneak into Gaza.
The official says Magdi Ahmed Hussein was arrested Saturday after showing up at the Egyptian-Gaza border crossing in Rafah without a passport. He says Hussein crossed into Gaza through an underground tunnel about two weeks ago.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to the press.
Hussein is a banned Labor Party politician and former parliamentarian who has led several anti-government protests in the past. The party confirmed his arrest on its Web site but said Hussein traveled into Gaza through a hole in the border fence.
Labels: Egypt, Gaza
Continued (Permanent Link)
Either Mr. Blair is very smart, or very stupid. Hitler should have been bought into the peace process too, but he was also unwilling....
Hamas should be part of the Middle East peace process, said Tony Blair, former British prime minister and envoy to the region of the international quartet of powers, in comments published on Friday.
"I do think it is important that we find a way of bringing Hamas into this process, but it can only be done if Hamas are prepared to do it on the right terms," Blair said in an interview with the Times of London newspaper, published on its Web site.
Blair is the Middle East envoy for the quartet of Middle East peace negotiators - the United States, the United Nations, Russia and the European Union.
Blair told the newspaper that that the strategy of "pushing Gaza aside" and trying to create a Palestinian state on the West Bank "was never going to work and will never work."
Labels: Gaza, Hamas, Security
Continued (Permanent Link)
Hamas Big surprises waiting for the occupation .. The resistance has used only 40% of capacity
Source: alqassam.ps/arabic/news1.php?id=7456 (translated)
Palestinian sources familiar with the capabilities of the Palestinian resistance in Gaza stated: "The land battle has not started yet and the Palestinian resistance has used only 40% of its capacity in the battle on the edge of the Gaza Strip."
The sources said that "the Zionist tanks are still stationed in the open and agricultural areas and did not enter the Palestinian cities in the Gaza Strip", indicating that the tanks were in open areas in Rafah or Khan Younis camps, or central and northern Gaza.
The sources noted that the units of snipers and suicide bombers and booby-trapped houses and cars and thousands of fighters from the field units equipped with improvised explosive devices and rocket-launching persons and teams are not yet participating in the battle on the edge of the sector.
The sources pointed out that the artillery units assigned to the firing of mortar shells and rockets will operate out of thousands of cells of the resistance and deploy in the field and take their places in the streets and alleys, waiting for the battle between the alleys of refugee camps and neighborhoods.
The sources confirmed the fact that the war is expected to peak with the resistance meeting face to face with Israeli soldiers, noting that it was possible to increase the number of martyrs to more than ten thousand dead and thousands injured in the risk of heavy losses on the enemy. "
They revealed the existence of Palestinian resistance cells of about 40 people each, equipped with automatic weapons of various types, each equipped with ammunition and bombs.
The sources expected that all the combatants will join the people of the Gaza Strip in the battle against the Palestinian people, indicating that "a small number of fighters were involved in the battle on the edge of the sector now."
It stressed that "in the battle between the alleys of the camp, a proficient Palestinian fighter knows the streets and alleys of the camp and exits and entrances of homes in the Gaza Strip," they said, adding that the army of occupation in the Gaza Strip did not expect more than nominal resistance, and that Hamas benefited from the experience of battle in the Jenin refugee camp in 2002 and well as the experience of the July War on Lebanon in 2006.
Labels: Defense, Gaza, Hamas, IDF, Security
Continued (Permanent Link)
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