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Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
www.vtjp.org/
For those interested in keeping up with events in Palestine/Israel, there is no better digest than VTJP.

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  
3 January, 2008

Israel invades Gaza: Heavy fighting as tanks cross border
Donald Macintyre and Kim Sengupta in Jerusalem, The Independent 1/4/2009
Israeli troops and tanks were engaged in heavy fighting with Hamas militants last night after Israel followed up its eight-day air assault on Gaza with a ground offensive. The attack, backed by military helicopters, had been preceded by a heavy artillery bombardment. Columns of tanks, some firing their weapons, crossed the boundary fence from three directions into northern Gaza under darkness. TV networks showed troops, marching in single file, crossing into Gaza, and gun battles could be heard. Several hours into the armoured offensive, Israeli tanks had moved just over a mile into northern Gaza, according to witnesses, taking up positions in an area frequently used by militants to fire rockets across the border. A Palestinian petrol station along the invasion route was engulfed in flames after being hit by a tank shell.

Six children among 12 killed in mosque blast
Rajeev Syal, The Observer, The Guardian 1/4/2009
The shells could not have fallen at a worse time. Today’s afternoon prayers in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya were unusually busy because worshippers had abandoned their evening prayers in the belief that if the Israelis planned to strike, they would do so at night. But as the townspeople left the mosque at dusk, the explosions began, killing at least 12 people, six of whom were children. They came only hours before the Israeli ground offensive was launched into Gaza. Fdil Sobih, 40, an ambulance driver who was one of the first people to arrive at the scene, told the Observer that the sight outside the Ibrahim al-Maqadna mosque was horrific, and was made worse by the desperation of locals trying to dig out those buried under the rubble with their hands. "I saw people cut to pieces," he said. "No one expected this here. The mosque is a few hundred metres from the hospital and it is heavily populated and is surrounded by houses. "

100,000 Israeli Arabs protest against Gaza offensive
Middle East Online 1/3/2009
SAKHNIN, Israel - Tens of thousands of Israeli Arabs demonstrated on Saturday in the northern town of Sakhnin over Israel’s week-old offensive against the Gaza Strip. Organisers estimated that nearly 100,000 people attended the protest rally, which stretched through the city streets. Crowds waving Palestinian flags and brandishing pro-Palestinian placards chanted "Gaza will not surrender to the tanks and bulldozers!" and "Don’t fear, Gaza, we are with you!" Thousands of police deployed on the outskirts of Sakhnin and across northern Israel following a number of protests against the Gaza operation in recent days. Following a minute’s silence, Sakhnin Mayor Mazem Ghanaim called for an immediate halt to the Gaza offensive which Israel launched last Saturday against the besieged territory. The Israeli offensive has killed more than 440 Palestinians and wounded more than 2,290.

Israeli forces bomb schools and mosque
Press release, Al Mezan, Electronic Intifada 1/3/2009
4:00pm Gaza Time (+2 GMT) Israeli attacks on Gaza have continued for an eighth day. The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) targeted more civilian objects. This includes bombardment of more houses and the Civil Defense building in Bani Suhaila town and the American School in northern Gaza. Air raids have also targeted open areas within the neighborhood, but particularly along the eastern and northern borders and the border between Gaza and Egypt. IOF’s naval vessels escalated their bombardment of Gaza’s beaches. The death toll resulted from IOF’s attacks has reached 363, including at least 59 children and 18 women. This figure reflects only those cases which Al Mezan Center has been able to verify, and it is expected to rise. In North Gaza district, Israeli aircrafts bombarded the house of Yehia Abu Ghaben at approximately 3:45am today, Saturday 3 January 2009. The house, which is located in Tel al-Zatar neighborhood of Jabaliya, was completely destroyed and three other houses were damaged. No casualties or injuries were reported.

Thousands of Gazans Near Rafah Displaced by IAF Bombing of Tunnels
Amira Hass, MIFTAH 1/3/2009
Rafah residents came to the realization on Tuesday that the air force has adopted a new method for destroying weapons smuggling tunnels in the town. On Monday, the military fired 10 missiles which are believed to have destroyed 10 tunnels. Palestinians say IAF drones fired seven missiles on Tuesday at the same number of tunnels. The buzz of the drones and the shrieking missile fire interspersed with the exploding bombs were heard all day and all night. A total of 12 ordnances were counted on Tuesday, though 12 explosions were not heard. Instead of an explosion, people felt the ground shake beneath their feet. Witnesses in Rafah say the IAF has deployed bombs or grenades with a delay mechanism. These weapons are aimed at the mouths of the tunnels where they explode after rolling a number of meters. Residents of the Egyptian side of Rafah reported damage to their homes as a result of the explosions. The Egyptians say they received prior warnings from the Israelis before the weapons were fired.

Israeli jets level elite American-style school in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli warplanes leveled an American-style private school on Saturday morning that employees say had no connection to the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip or to armed activity in the Strip. The American International School in Gaza (AISG) in Beit Lahiya was founded by Americans in 2001. An elite private institution, AISG stressed teaching English as a second language and instilling progressive, enlightened values in its students using an American curriculum. Now, more than 200 students and dozens of faculty and staff will have nowhere to go when Israel ends its aggression on the Gaza Strip. “I have no idea what will happen to us,” said Rawan Al-Masri a first grade teacher at the K-12 school. “Where will the students study? Now there is nothing. ”The school, according to its websie, has a mission to teach such ideals as “An understanding and appreciation. . .

Diplomats: U.S. peace efforts have not yet addressed Israel’s terms
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
The U. S. has been engaged in intensive efforts with Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to formulate a framework for an agreement to end the fighting in the Gaza Strip and to reach a stable and long-term ceasefire. However, according to senior diplomats, the American initiative has not yet reached a formula that addresses Israel’s terms, and which Hamas is also ready to accept. Diplomats in Jerusalem did say the existing draft includes components that would probably also feature in a future agreement if such an agreement is reached. Tomorrow, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to visit Israel. Paris is seeking to persuade Israel to agree to a 48-hour cease-fire, although Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni rejected such an initiative. The first element of the U. S. draft proposes a cease-fire that could end the firing of rockets and mortar rounds on Israel.

Scores hurt in Gaza mosque
Ali Waked, YNetNews 1/3/2009
At least 10 Palestinians killed after IDF targets mosque in Strip, sources in Gaza say - At least 10 people were killed Saturday evening and dozens of others were wounded after a mosque in the Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya was hit by the IDF, Palestinian sources reported. According to a Reuters report, one of those killed is a child. The Palestinians said that the mosque was shaken up by a loud blast while dozens of worshipers were praying at the site. The mosque is located behind a Gaza hospital and has been named for a senior Hamas figure assassinated several years ago. A short while later, Palestinian sources reported that four people were killed in an IDF strike in Rafah. The death toll in Gaza as now topped 470. Palestinian rescue forces were removing bodies from the bombed moque and evacuating the wounded.

Massive artillery, aerial bombardment precedes invasion by IDF ground forces
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
The forces that entered the Gaza Strip last night represented the largest ground operation in the coastal territory since Israel withdrew in the summer of 2005. Palestinian sources reported massive artillery shelling and air force strikes accompanying the advance of the infantry, armored and combat engineering corps. The ground invasion was preceded by large-scale artillery shelling from around 4 P. M. , intended to "soften" the targets as artillery batteries deployed along the Strip in recent days began bombarding Hamas targets and open areas near the border. Hundreds of shells were fired, including cluster bombs aimed at open areas. The IDF has not aimed its artillery at the Strip for over two years, since a November 2006 strike on Beit Hanoun killed 18 members of a single family due to an aiming error. Before the artillery strikes, the Israel Air Force struck three targets. . .

IDF bombs mosque during Gaza operation, killing 13 worshippers in the process
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
As Israel’s military operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip entered its ninth day, Palestinians were reeling from an attack on what the Israel Defense Forces claims was a mosque which was being used as a weapons cache. The IDF raided the mosque in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, killing 13 people and wounding 33, according to a Palestinian health official. One of the wounded worshippers, Salah Mustafa, told Al-Jazeera TV from a hospital that the mosque was packed. "It was unbelievably awful," he said, struggling to catch his breath. It was not immediately clear why the mosque was hit, but Israel has hit other mosques in its air campaign and said they were used for storing weapons. On the third day of the operation early Monday morning, the IAF obliterated symbols of Hamas power, bombing the Islamic University.

Barak: Gaza invasion won’t be short, and it won’t be easy
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Saturday that Israel’s campaign against Islamic Hamas militants in Gaza will not be short, nor will it be easy. Israel launched a ground operation against Hamas on Saturday after mounting a bruising air assault last Saturday. The campaign is meant to curb rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza on southern Israel. Addressing the nation in a special televised press conference following the launch of the ground invasion, Barak said that Israel was not eager to wage war, but could not abandon its citizens, residents of the south, who have been victimized by Hamas rockets. "The campaign won’t be easy and it won’t be short," he said, emphasizing that the operation entails the risking of Israeli lives. "I know well the dangers that come with an offensive, and what the heavy price will be. "

Israeli ground troops enter Gaza
Al Jazeera 1/4/2009
Thousands of Israeli troops, backed by tanks, have entered the Gaza Strip as Israel escalated its offensive into the territory on the eighth day of operations. A column of tanks entered the besieged territory through the Beit Hanoun crossing shortly after nightfall on Saturday, officials said, while the Israeli cabinet said it had also called up about 9,000 reservists. Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher on the Israeli-Gaza border said heavy artillery fire, tracer fire and rockets could be heard in the area as Israeli forces moved in, along with some gunfire. Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Gaza City, said that the scene in Gaza on Saturday was one of "fear and terror" as Israeli tanks moved in. He also said that there were reports of heavy fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters in. . .

Israel Destroys Hamas Homes, Flattens Gaza Mosque
The Associated Press, MIFTAH 1/3/2009
Israel destroyed the homes of more than a dozen Hamas operatives and bombed one of its mosques on Friday, the seventh day of a blistering offensive in Gaza and the day after a deadly strike killed a prominent Hamas figure. In what appeared to be a new Israeli tactic, the military called at least some of the houses ahead of time to warn inhabitants of an impending attack. In some cases, it also fired a sound bomb to warn away civilians before flattening the homes with powerful missiles, Palestinians and Israeli defense officials said. Israel launched the aerial campaign last Saturday in a bid to halt weeks of intensifying Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza. The offensive has dealt a heavy blow to Hamas, but has failed to halt the rocket fire. New attacks Friday struck apartment buildings in a southern Israeli city. No serious injuries were reported. After destroying Hamas’ security compounds, Israel has turned its attention to the group’s leadership.

Israeli troops cross border into Gaza
The Guardian 1/3/2009
Israeli tanks and infantry have entered Gaza, launching a much anticipated ground offensive in a widening war on Gaza’s Hamas rulers. Major Avital Leibovich, an Israeli army spokeswoman, said it would be an extensive operation. "We have many, many targets," she said, adding that Hamas has been digging smuggling tunnels and other facilities. "To my estimation, it will be a lengthy operation. " Heavy gun battles were reported as troops crossed the border into Gaza. Local TV networks broadcast images of troops marching into Gaza after dark. Defence officials have said around 10,000 soldiers massed along the border in recent days. Heavy artillery fire in the early evening was intended to detonate Hamas explosive devices and mines planted along the border area before troops marched in. Israel’s offensive against Hamas had begun with a week of aerial bombardment of Hamas targets, in an attempt to halt Hamas rocket attacks on Israel

VIDEO - Israeli army attack funeral of Mohammed Khawaje, the second martyr from Ni’lin in four days
International Solidarity Movement 1/3/2009
Ramallah Region - Video - Photos - At around 9pm on the 31st December, Mohammed Al-Khawaje died as a result of severe brain damage following being shot in the forehead the previous Sunday. At 10:30, his body was taken from the hospital in Ramallah in a funeral procession to Ni’lin attended by around 2,500 people. During this time, soldiers were shooting tear-gas in the town to welcome the procession. At 11:30, his body was taken to his family home in Upper Ni’lin in order for the women of the family to pay their last respects. He was then taken out of the ambulance at the army checkpoint at the entrance to Ni’lin to be taken to the mosque in the centre of the town. There were around 50 soldiers and border police waiting for the procession on hills around the checkpoint, and also occupying the roof of a family’s home.

Across the West Bank, popular calls for unity and an end to the massacre in Gaza
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 1/3/2009
As the bombing continued in Gaza for the seventh straight day, massive demonstrations took place all across the West Bank yesterday, with tens of thousands of people condemning the massacres that are being carried out by Occupation forces. From Hebron to Jenin, people took to the streets to demonstrate their solidarity with the people in Gaza, and to call for unity amongst all Palestinians, urging the people to come together in this time of crisis. In Qalqilya district, one youth from the village of Jayyous was hit in the leg by a live bullet, while five others were wounded by rubber bullets in different parts of their bodies. The people of Jayyous began their demonstration after the Friday prayer, as members of the different segments of the community came together in a show of unity and collective action.

Israeli forces seize Palestinian, beat another near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers stormed the northern West Bank village of Yassid, north of the city of Nablus on Friday night, attacking one Palestinian teenager and arresting another. Local sources said that three Israeli military jeeps invaded the village. Israeli troops beat16-year-old Uday Shafiq who was hospitalized with severe bruises. The invading forces arrested 30-year-old Farhan Taha before they left the village. [end]

Israeli army confiscates village home, declares it military post
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Qalqiliya – Ma’an – Israeli forces installed a military post in the home of Mohammad Tayem in the village of Al-Funduq east of Qalqiliya Friday. Eyewitnesses said Israeli troops invaded the area surrounding the home and soldiers handed the residents a military order stating that the area was declared a military post until 11 January 2009 for “security reasons. ”The home is on the main road that passes through the village center, it is used by the residents of the illegal settlement of Qedumim near the village. [end]

Egypt allow the opening of Rafah crossing
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/3/2009
The Egyptian Authorities allowed the opening of the Rafah crossing, located between Gaza and Egypt, to remain open for the third day in row on Saturday. Khaled Atiah, the Palestinian coordinator for crossings in the Palestinian Embassy in Egypt, told the Palestinian News Agency Wafa that the Egyptian Army allowed in Gazans who where in Egypt for medical care or had been stranded at the borders to cross into Gaza. Atiah added that a new wave of humanitarian aid and medicine will be allowed into Gaza on Saturday. Egypt still refuses to allow the Rafah crossing to be open all the time after pressurefrom the USA and Israel. The Rafah crossing was handed over to the Palestinians in 2005, in 2006 when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, the border crossing was completely closed, and only open by Egypt for limited periods.

IDF operation will achieve nothing, Egyptian FM says
Brenda Gazzar, Jerusalem Post 1/4/2009
Israel will not achieve anything with its military operation in Gaza, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Saturday. He also stressed, however, that Egypt would not let Hamas draw it into a conflict with Israel. Asked why Egypt was being criticized for not acceding to Hamas’s demands and permanently opening the Rafah border crossing, he said, "The goal [of these critics] is to drag Egypt into a new confrontation with Israel. Those who lead us to this confrontation from outside the region will not lose anything and, then, Egypt alone will shoulder the responsibility of this confrontation. " Israel’s Channel 2 quoted a blunter statement from Aboul Gheit: "Egypt won’t go to war against Israel for Hamas. " Aboul Gheit added that he was "worried that a continuing Palestinian division could end in two Palestinian states.

Six Palestinians, including a child, die Friday night due to Israeli strikes in Gaza
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/3/2009
The Israeli Army continued its offensive in the Gaza Strip, killing a leader of Hamas in Al Shujaeyya neighborhood in Gaza. Medical sources reported that two residents who were wounded in earlier Israeli strikes died in Egyptian hospitals. A fighter and a child were also killed in separate Israeli military attacks. At least 438 Palestinians were killed, and 2220 were wounded in the ongoing Israeli offensive, which started last Saturday. The Maan News Agency reported on Saturday that Abu Zakariyya Al Jammal, of the Al Qassam Brigades, died of his wounds on Saturday. He was seriously wounded after the Israeli Army shelled his home several days ago, the Maan News Agency reported. Also, a Palestinian child, identified as Sojoud Al Dardasawi, was killed in an Israeli air strike that targeted a neighborhood east of Gaza city on Friday night.

Eight days under attack: death toll in Gaza reaches 438
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/3/2009
An Israeli air attack targeted the American school in Gaza city, killing the night guard on Saturday morning. Medical sources identified that man as Sami Abu Qliak. Local sources reported that air raids where also reported in several other parts of the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Costal Region said that the death toll in Gaza by Saturday morning due to the Israel’s continued bombardment now stands at 438, many of whom are civilians. The Ministry added that those attacks have left so far 2280 Palestinians injured. Israel started its military offensive last Saturday, December 27th, 2008, a week and half after the sixth-month-long Egyptian-mediated ceasefire finished, on December 16th 2008. Israeli warplanes started by shelling all the Palestinian security posts in Gaza.

IOF Offensive on the Gaza Strip Continues for the 8th Consecutive Day
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 1/3/2009
The Number of Palestinians Killed Rises to 372, Mostly Civilians, Including 75 Children and 16 Women, and the Number of House Bombarded Mounts to 73 - IOF have continued their offensive on the Gaza Strip for the 8th consecutive day, causing more deaths and casualties among Palestinian civilians, especially children. IOF warplanes have launched more strikes against several civilian facilities in the context of the most aggressive war against the Gaza Strip since it was occupied in 1967. Facts on the ground indicate that all population of the Gaza Strip are targeted and there is a clear intention to destroy all aspects of life and means of subsistence through the use of the most destructive arsenal and the psychological war through leaflets dropped from the air demanding Palestinian civilians to leave their areas of residence. PCHR has closely followed up the developments of the IOF offensive on the Gaza Strip. Development in the past 24 hours have been:

Family flees Israeli fire once again
Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 1/3/2009
"They have made us gather, they have made us recall past days, they have let us feel a warmth that we have long missed amidst life’s troubles which have become so great. So we say simply and ironically, thanks to the Israelis. "Sahar Ali Shaath of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, voiced her reaction after she and more than 20 other family members were forced to flee their house near the Gaza-Egypt border. The Shaath family is one of thousands that have been forced to flee their houses near the Gaza-Egypt border as Israeli warplanes have bombed the area for seven days straight. Israel has attempted to destroy tunnels used by Palestinians to bring in essential supplies include food, livestock and medicine to circumvent a tight 19-month long Israeli siege that has made these necessities scarce. While reports say that most of the newly displaced families are staying with relatives, at least

IOF Offensive on the Gaza Strip Continues for the 7th Consecutive Day
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 1/2/2009
Dr. Nizar Rayan Assassinated with His 4 Wives and 11 of His Children, and the Number of Victims Rises to 357, Mostly Civilians, Including 51 Children and 14 Women - For the 7th consecutive day, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have continue its open offensive on the Gaza Strip. Using their most powerful destructive arsenal, IOF have continued to target civilian facilities, mosques, schools and houses, with disregard to the lives of the Palestinian civilians. During the latest hours, the most brutal crime committed by IOF in the Gaza Strip was the extra-judicial execution of Dr. Nizar Rayan, a senior leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), together with his 4 wives and 11 of his children. This heinous crime reminds of the extra-judicial execution of Sheikh Salah Shehada at al-Daraj Neighborhood in Gaza City on 23 July 2002, that resulted in the killing of Shehada, his wife, his child and more than 15 civilians, mostly children.

Summary of humanitarian crisis in besieged Gaza
Middle East Online 1/3/2009
JERUSALEM - Israel’s deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip entered its second week on Saturday, with truce efforts stalled after Israel rejected an EU ceasefire proposal that Hamas accepted. The following are factors in what United Nations agencies say is a mounting humanitarian crisis in the impoverished territory, home to 1. 5 million Palestinians. -- There is an air strike about every 20 minutes on average, more at night. -- The Israeli bombardment has caused widespread destruction, with over 600 targets hit, including roads, infrastructure, government buildings and police stations. -- The health system is overwhelmed after already having been weakened by 18 months of an Israeli blockade. Besides at least 436 Palestinians being killed, nearly 3,000 people have been wounded since December 27. -- About 250,000 people have no electricity.

UNRWA finds difficulty in distributing aid due to IOF shelling
Palestinian Information Center 1/3/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The UN relief and works agency (UNRWA) has announced on Friday that it was facing difficulties in convincing Gaza Strip citizens to go to the agency’s aid distribution centers due to the intensified Israeli occupation forces’ shelling. Sami Misha’sha, an UNRWA spokesman, said that his agency managed to partially resume distribution of relief assistance in the Strip on Thursday but was facing a number of challenges including convincing the citizens to go to those centers at a time the IOF shelling did not cease. The UNRWA official said that the agency would try and persuade the Israeli occupation authority to cease fire in order to enable the agency to distribute the relief material. Food supplies were allowed limited entry into the Strip but would be only enough for a day or two, Misha’sha said, adding that there was a dire need for entry of more shipments to meet the citizens’ needs.

Fighting in Dense Gaza Brings Child Casualties
The Associated Press, MIFTAH 1/3/2009
Samar Hamdan ran weeping through the street, trying to touch the body of her dead 11-year-old brother during a funeral procession in this northern Gaza town. Just a day before, the 15-year-old girl’s two sisters were also buried, victims of the same strike from an Israeli missile. As Israel steps up its attacks on the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated spots on Earth, children are paying the price. " In this crowded strip, everything is beside everything else," said Karen Abu Zayd, a top U. N. official in Gaza. Israel says it is only targeting Hamas militants and the rockets they send streaking into southern Israel. More than 400 Palestinians have been killed in the strikes, many of them members of the Islmaic militant group’s security forces. But at least 37 children and 17 women have died, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. The United Nations has said the death toll includes 34 children.

Journal: Why we are staying
Eva Bartlett, International Solidarity Movement 1/3/2009
Israeli authorities benevolently announced that today, January 2nd, the 7th day of Israel’s air attacks throughout Gaza, internationals would be permitted to leave through the Erez crossing. As I write, the radio reports the latest attack: a drone rocket targets an area near Al Quds Open university in Khan Younis, killing 3 young girls from the same family, al Astal, between the ages 10-13, I’m told. 1:30 pm I write from the Al Shifa hospital ICU staff room, where I’ve just seen another recently-dead patient, 13 years old. "He died as a result of his different injuries: internal bleeding,and the most important injury, brain trauma, brain matter out," Dr. Rami tells me. "He arrested, we administered CPR for 30 minutes and no response. "The next bed contains a woman in her thirties, unconscious, injured in the 1st day of attacks as she went to her work.

Gaza war diary: Israel’s phase two
Alan Fisher in southern Israel, Al Jazeera 1/4/2009
From early morning, the barrage continues. There are sporadic strikes throughout the day and we can hear the jets as they roar in before unloading their rockets and bombs. We watch for the smoke plumes to give us an idea of which part of Gaza has been hit. The Israelis boast some of the most sophisticated weapons in the world, but firing rockets into one of the most densely populated places on earth will undoubtedly take its toll. Exactly one week to the hour since the air offensive began, 437 Gazans have been killed. The death toll on the Israeli side is four. Then in the late afternoon, just before sunset when the first low boom rang out. The war on Gaza has entered a new phase. The big guns are now being trained on their targets in the northern part of the strip. The barrage was sustained, intense and came from many directions. Smoke was thrown up from where the missiles hit, almost blocking out the buildings away on the horizon. With the sun setting quickly, the thick smoke streaked across its orange glow.

Gaza telecommunication systems offline
Ma’an News Agency 1/4/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian communications networks are barely functioning in the Gaza Strip due to cables damaged by several Israeli airstrikes on network infrastructure on Saturday. Palestinian mobile provider Jawwal’s phone may stop working “at any minute” as shelling severely damaged the provider’s telecommunications network in Gaza. PalTel, Jawwal’s parent company based in the West Bank, told Ma’an, “The Israeli shelling damaged the electric grid and caused continuous cuts. ”“The lack of fuel will lead to cutting lines with the telecommunications company (in Gaza) and the Hadara internet company, as well as Jawwal’s mobile phones,” the statement added. The statement warned that “all means of communication with the Gaza Strip will be highly affected and may totally cut off. ”Attempts to contact Ma’an’s correspondents by mobile were unsuccessful early Sunday morning.

IDF launches Gaza ground operation
Amos Harel Avi Issacharoff Barak Ravid and Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
The Israel Defense Forces launched a ground offensive last night into Gaza, as large numbers of infantry and tank forces invaded the northern Strip following several hours of heavy aerial and artillery bombardment. IDF troops exchanged fire with armed Palestinians at several locations, and killed several Hamas fighters. Military sources said the goals of the operation did not include an extended occupation, but "a hard strike against Hamas’ military wing. " The cabinet instructed the IDF to prepare for a possible expansion of the operation and to call up tens of thousands of reserve soldiers ahead of a possible conflagration on the northern front as well. The operation has not been given a firm timetable, and while reserve soldiers are not currently expected to be deployed inside the Strip, their deployment there could be considered at a later date, should the operation be expanded.

Hamas: Gaza will become graveyard for Israeli troops
The Associated Press and DPA, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
As Israel launched its ground offensive in Gaza on Saturday night, a Hamas spokesman warned in a televised speech that the coastal strip will become a graveyard for Israeli soldiers. The spokesman, Ismail Radwan, appeared on Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV shortly after Israel sent its troops into Gaza. It was not clear if the appearance was live or taped. After the incursion began, Hamas spokespeople and militants fired off fiery warnings to the Israeli forces. In another message, Hamas warned Israeli forces that "Gaza will not be paved with flowers for you, it will be paved with fire and hell. " The militant organization seized control of Gaza in June 2007, following days of bloody street battles with rival Palestinian movement Fatah. By sending ground troops into the Gaza Strip, Hamas said, Israel was falling into "the trap that our fighters had prepared for its soldiers and tanks.

Ground push / Mission: Break Hamas
Amos Harel Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
Last night, one week after the start of Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, the ground operation began. The Israel Defense Forces started deploying combat units to surround Hamas’ main power base. The goal is not to chase after and destroy every last rocket launcher, but rather to break the Hamas’ resistance and force it to agree to a long-term cease-fire whose terms are more reasonable from Israel’s perspective. Rocket fire into Israel continued apace with the Gaza offensive, but IDF officials believe this time progress can be made at the front before the extent of the casualties in the south begins to resemble that of the Second Lebanon War. At the same time, there is a growing risk that Hezbollah or its satellites will try to open a second front along the Lebanese border. The final decision on the ground operation came Friday afternoon in a meeting of the security cabinet. . .

Soldiers on the Gaza border: ’We know what we’re doing’
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 1/4/2009
The explosions started to escalate at around 4 p. m. as the IDF let loose its artillery cannons along the Gaza border, with the aim of "softening" open areas in the Strip that are believed to be filled with booby traps and land mines. At the same time, thousands of troops from a wide range of infantry, armored and engineering units began taking up positions along the border before the invasion. Soldiers from the Education Corps, standing at the entrance to a kibbutz, broke down crying as the soldiers began moving towards the border. "This is not our first time going into Gaza," said one soldier from the Givati Brigade. "We had a talk earlier today with our battalion commander who instilled within us motivation and told us to hit them hard. " Another soldier, from the Golani Reconnaissance Unit, stopped at a nearby gas station to buy a few candy bars before entering Gaza.

Hamas leader: Israel killing Gaza civilians, not our fighters
Ma’an News Agency 1/4/2009
Gaza – Ma’an/Agencies – A Hamas leader early on Sunday morning denied reports that armed groups affiliated with the Islamic movement had been killed by invading Israeli forces. Appearing on Al-Jazeera just after midnight on Sunday, Mousa Mohammad Abu Marzook claimed that “there are casualties, but they are of the people of the Gaza Strip, not us. ”The Qatar-based network had reported Israeli claims that up to 13 Hamas fighters were dead. “We’re defending our people, defending ourselves against this aggression,” Abu Marzook insisted, noting that Israel has “the upper hand” in the ongoing conflict. “We know they have the upper hand in the air and sea, but we know our land. We know ourselves very well,” he added. “We will fight. ”“We will fight the Israelis anywhere in the Gaza Strip, Abu Marzook warned, "the rights of the Palestinian people cannot be turned off.

Israel okays call-up of tens of thousands of IDF reservists
Barak Ravid , and Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
Israel’s government has approved the call-up of tens of thousands of reservist soldiers, it was annnounced Saturday, almost simultaneously with the launch of a Gaza ground incursion aimed at halting rocket fire on Israel’s southern communities. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office said in a statement that, in accordance with a secret cabinet discussion Friday, the government ordered the armed forces "to draft the necessary reservists, on a scale of tens of thousands of troops. "The Gaza ground operation launched Saturday had actually been approved last week, but Olmert promised his ministers that when the time came to begin the offensive, it would first be brought for fresh approval by the security cabinet. On Thursday night, Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak held a meeting that lasted until 4 A.

Hamas: Gaza will become graveyard for Israel
AP and Ali Waked, YNetNews 1/3/2009
Hamas: Gaza will be paved with fire in hell, Israeli troops getting closer to trap - A Hamas spokesman said in a televised speech that Gaza will "become a graveyard" for Israeli soldiers. The spokesman, Ismail Radwan, appeared on Hamas’ al-Aqsa TV shortly after Israel launched a ground offensive in Gaza late Saturday. It was not clear if the appearance was live or taped. After the invasion, Hamas members fired off fiery warnings to the Israeli forces. In another message, Hamas warned Israeli forces that "Gaza will not be paved with flowers for you, it will be paved with fire and hell. " ’Hundreds of suicide bombers’ [end]

Israeli ground forces cross border into Gaza
Chris McGreal in Jerusalem, The Guardian 1/3/2009
Israeli tanks and troops have launched a ground invasion to reoccupy parts of the northern Gaza strip as the military escalated its assault on the Palestinian enclave in an attempt to curb Hamas rocket attacks on Israel. With Israel’s chief military spokesman warning that the attack would take "many long days", the Israeli Cabinet also authorised the call of thousands more reservists. As Israeli tanks and infantry crossed into northern Gaza reports began to emerge of fighting between Hamas and Israeli troops. The invasion comes after Hamas warned Israeli forces entering Gaza faced a "black destiny" and vowed that they would be defeated. Palestinian witnesses said a small column of military vehicles moved across the border firing tracer bullets after dark.

Text messages and phone calls add psychological aspect to warfare in Gaza
Toni O'Loughlin in Jerusalem, The Guardian 1/3/2009
Israel and Hamas have mounted psychological warfare on each others’ civilian populations. Hamas says it is firing threatening text messages at Israeli mobile phones and jamming radio stations while Israel is bombarding Palestinians with menacing phone calls and leaflets. "The messages say that the Palestinian resistance missiles will reach you wherever you are and your government won’t be able to protect you," said Abu Mujaheid, spokesman for the Palestinian Resistance Committees. Hamas says it can send up to 70,000 text messages but so far there have been reports of just dozens. "[Israel is] sending text messages and interrupting Palestinian radio and trying to scare Palestinians with their messages so we are running a counter campaign by sending text messages to Israelis," Mujaheid said.

IDF confirms at least 20 gunmen killed in ground offensive
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 1/3/2009
At least 30 Hamas gunmen were reported killed as IDF troops swept into the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday night, encountering fierce resistance from Hamas forces entrenched in fortifications just over the border. IDF sources said that the goal was to conquer territory in northern Gaza, including rocket launch sites. Soldiers from the Armored Corps, Engineering Corps, and Paratroopers, Givati, Golani brigades were participating in the fighting, with at least four brigades’ worth of troops inside the Gaza Strip. The sources said that a majority of the rockets fired into Beersheba and Ashdod were launched from the northern Gaza Strip. One of the major aims of the operation was also to deliver a serious blow to the Hamas military wing, which the IDF estimated had not been severely weakened under the air campaign.

IDF artillery targets Gaza
Ron Ben-Yishai, YNetNews 1/3/2009
IDF escalating attacks? For first time since Gaza op’s start, IDF artillery units shell targets in Strip. Meanwhile, Air Force hunts for senior Hamas terror activists in Strip, hits dozens of targets Saturday; Hamas officer killed after car hit by aircraft - For the first time since the operation in Gaza got underway, IDF 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. IDF artillery cannons began pounding the eastern sector of the Gaza Strip around 4 pm Saturday. Ynet correspondentreported that portable artillery batteries are engaging in a heavy bombardment of the area. This is the first time in three years that the IDF has fired artillery shells at Gaza targets.

Fatah-affiliated wing shells Israeli intelligence building
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Gaza - Ma’an - The armed wing of Fatah claimed responsibility for shelling an Israeli intelligence building in Kisufim on Saturday. In a statement sent to Ma’an, the Al-Aqsa Brigades said it fired three homemade projectiles toward the building. The group noted that the shelling "comes to affirm the option of resistance" and that it was in response to "Israeli massacres against Palestinians in Gaza. " "They want an open war; so be it," the statement added. [end]

Hamas threatens Israeli soldiers over Gaza invasion
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Gaza – Ma’an/Agencies – Hamas leader Ismail Radwan warned Israeli soldiers that the operation into the Gaza Strip “will not be a picnic” in a news conference late on Saturday night. “Gaza will be a graveyard for you,” Radwan added, insisting that the Israeli miiltary is not prepared for the Hamas response. “You will see it soon,” Radwan told Palestinians, following comments that “Hamas has prepared a statement of victor for you. ”An Israeli military spokesperson had similarly threatening words for the Hamas leadership in Gaza. Avital Leibovitch said that the operation will “destroy the Hamas terror infrastructure. ”[end]

Israel’s air force strikes orphanage in Ar-Ramal; one killed
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Gaza - Ma’an - Israeli air forces struck an orphanage in the Ar-Rimal neighborhood of Gaza city on Saturday night, Ma’an’s reporter in Gaza said. One person was killed in an attack. The apparent target of the attack was a group of Palestinian fighters stationed near a mosque in the same neighborhood. Residents of the Ar-Rimal neighborhood said that explosions could be seen in the vecinity of the Al-Amal (Hope) orphanage. [end]

The Israeli attacks on Gaza
The Guardian 1/3/2009
Photos [end]

Japan offers $10 million humanitarian aid to Gaza
Middle East Online 1/3/2009
TOKYO - Japan pledged 10 million dollars in humanitarian aid Saturday to the Gaza Strip, which has been pounded by Israeli air strikes for more than a week, officials said. Prime Minister Taro Aso made the offer in a telephone conversation with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, the government officials said. Abbas thanked Japan, the officials said. Premier Aso also called on Abbas to make efforts to bring about a cessation of hostilities during which resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip have fired rockets into Israel. On Wednesday, Aso asked his Israeli counterpart Ehud Olmert by telephone to halt the air strikes and allow transportation of humanitarian aid to Gaza. At least 436 Palestinians have been killed and 2,290 wounded in some 750 strikes carried out by air and sea, according to Israeli officials.

Turkey delivers 13 tons medical aid to Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Turkey delivered 13 tons of medical aid to the Gaza Strip, according to a statement. The Turkish Health Ministry noted that these materials will be delivered by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Turkey’s behalf. The ministry added that it is awaiting permission from Egypt to transfer injured Palestinians for treatment in Turkey. [end]

Japan pledges to deliver 10 million USD of humanitarian aid to Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Japan vowed to deliver humanitarian aid of 10 million USD to Gaza. The pledge came during a phone call between Japanese Prime Minister Taru Aso and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who urged the former to exert efforts to create a ceasefire. The Japanese official had called Israeli Prime Minister on Wednesday to urge him to stop the airstrikes on Gaza, allowing the transfer of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. [end]

Rocket attacks persist despite Gaza invasion
Ilana Curiel, YNetNews 1/4/2009
IDF says Hamas having difficulties manufacturing new rockets, but still has enough to continue and perhaps increase launchings in coming days -Palestinian gunmen continued to fire rockets toward Israel’s western Negev region late Saturday night even after IDF ground forces entered the Hamas-controlled territory in the framework of Operation Cast Lead. Five rockets fired from the northern Strip landed in open areas within the Sdot Negev Regional Council’s limits, but caused no injury or damage. "It is our estimation that the rocket fire on Israel will continue and perhaps even increase in the coming days," a military official said, adding that while Hamas is having difficulties manufacturing new rockets, it still has some stockpiled. A total of 12 Qassam rockets hit the Sdot Negev area on Saturday; all of them landed in open fields and caused no injuries.

PFLP: Israelis wounded in clashes near Gaza City
Ma’an News Agency 1/4/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Fighters affiliated to the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed to be exchanging fire with invading Israeli forces east of Gaza City after midnight on Sunday morning. In two statements faxed to Ma’an, the PFLP’s armed wing, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, said they fired missiles and seven 60-milimeter mortars at Israeli forces inside the Gaza Strip. They claimed Israeli soldiers had been wounded in the clashes. Earlier, Al-Jazeera television reported that Israeli forces had entered the Strip near the Karni border crossing, in the vicinity of where the PFLP claims these clashes took place. They also claimed to have launched homemade rockets at the Western Negev desert, and the city of Askhelon, north of Gaza. They said that a thirt rocket fired at the town of Netivot had been acknowleged by the Israelis.

Rockets pound Negev; apartment building in Ashdod takes direct hit
Yuval Goren and Yanir Yagna, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
A barrage of at least 30 Gaza-launched rockets exploded inside Israel yesterday, including a direct hit on an apartment building in Ashdod that lightly wounded two Israelis. A woman sustained leg injuries when a rocket slammed into her home in Netivot, causing the structure to collapse. A house in Ashkelon also suffered a direct hit, as three rockets smashed into the city in the morning hours. One of the rockets that hit Ashkelon exploded on a bomb shelter. The rocket bounced off the shelter’s reinforced concrete shell and landed about 100 meters away, where it exploded inside the yard of a deserted building. An additional strike was reported in nearby Kiryat Malakhi, the first such attack on the northern Negev town. The dining hall of a nearby kibbutz also took a hit, after a Grad rocket exploded just outside the building.

Deaths as Israel hits Gaza mosque
Al Jazeera 1/4/2009
At least 11 Palestinians, including one child, have been killed after Israeli forces struck a mosque during prayers in the town of Beit Lahiya, north of Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip. More than 200 people were inside the the Ibrahim al-Maqadna mosque praying when it was struck. It is not clear yet whether the mosque was hit as part of the Israeli army’s shelling, which started on Saturday afternoon. At least 50 people were wounded, Hamas and medical officials said. The Israeli military has destroyed several mosques during its week-long offensive in Gaza, saying Hamas uses the houses of worship to store weapons. Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Gaza, said: "As much as Israel wants to be surgical in its strikes at the end of the day it is civilians that are being hit. "

VIDEO - WATCH: Israeli troops launch ground incursion in Gaza Strip
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
Israel entered the second week of its offensive against rockets from Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday evening by launching a much-expected ground operation into the coastal strip. [end]

Israel fires artillery shells into Gaza
Matthew Weaver and agencies, The Guardian 1/3/2009
Airstrike on crowded mosque in northerh Gaza kills at least 10 - Israel unleashed an artillery bombardment on Gaza today for the first time in its week-long offensive, prompting increased speculation that a ground invasion is about to begin. Palestinian medical officials also said that an Israeli airstrike on a Gaza mosque had killed 10 people and wounded dozens more. Al Jazeera quoted witnesses as saying there were at least 200 people at prayer inside the Ibrahim al-Maqadna mosque in northern Gaza when the missile struck. The Israeli TV station Channel 10 said the entire length of the Gaza Strip was under attack. Palestinian witnesses told Reuters the shelling had caused a large explosion in Gaza City and there were a series of blasts close to the frontier with Israel. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Israeli TV commentators said shelling could be used to clear Hamas-laid minefields ahead of a possible ground invasion. Israeli troops are massed on the border waiting for orders to go in.

Missiles hit Islamic newspaper building, publishing house in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli jets shelled the building of Islamic newspaper of Ar-Resalah in Gaza City, destroying the three-floor building on Saturday. Fire spread through the rubble that was first shelled during the second intifada. The Israeli army considers the newspaper a terrorism-inciting media platform. Palestinian sources said that five Palestinians who were living around the building were injured and transferred to Ash-Shefa Hospital in Gaza City. Meanwhile, Israel’s air force shelled a publishing house in Gaza City, completely destroying it. Israeli army computer hackers jammed an Al-Aqsa TV transmission, which is affiliated with Hamas, for a few minutes,during which they transmitted calls for residents to call the Israeli army to inform them of the locations of resistance fighters. In the jammed transmission appeared images of four Hamas leaders while cell phones are ringing and they do not answer.

The Israeli army starts its ground offensive in Gaza; death toll 460 in last 8 days
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/3/2009
Israeli troops have invaded the Gaza Strip by land, accompanied by helicopters and tanks, late Saturday night. Casualties of Saturday’s invasion are unknown as of yet, but eight days of airstrikes have left 460 Palestinians dead. Palestinian sources said that Israeli tanks and armored vehicles, supported by army helicopters invaded the Gaza Strip from several directions. An Israel military spokesperson, Avital Leibovitch, stated that the objective of the attack is to destroy the Hamas infrastructure in Gaza. According to local sources, thousands of Israeli soldiers are taking part in the attack including infantry, tanks, engineering forces, artillery and intelligence with the support of the Israel Air Force. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated, "It won’t be easy and it won’t be brief. We’re continuing to expand the operation while being well aware that this move will include challenges, difficulties, and also victims.

437 killed, 2200 wounded since the start of the Gaza holocaust
Palestinian Information Center 1/3/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Twelve Palestinians, including six children and a woman, have been killed on Friday, the seventh day of the Gaza holocaust being perpetrated by the Israeli occupation airforce. Palestinian medical sources stated, before midnight Friday, that two Qassam Brigades fighters were killed in an Israeli occupation airstrike to the east of Jabalya, in the northern Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses said that Tahani Abu Ayyash (22 years) was killed and five members of her family were wounded in an airstrike on her home in the Johr al-Deek neighbourhood to the south east of Gaza city. Another Palestinian resident of Gaza was killed and three others were wounded when a car was targeted while passing on the Wadi Gaza bridge to the south of Gaza City. The wounded were taken to the Aqsa Martyrs Hospital which has received ten other case as a result of airstrikes targeting shops in the Nusairat Refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

’War amongst the people’
Paul Beaver, Al Jazeera 1/3/2009
Israel is a highly developed technological society. Its defence equipment industry supplies the major industrial and new industrial nations with niche technology that is second-to-none. In the last 60 years, Israel has fought several full-scale industrial age wars against its neighbours and been involved in a number of counter-insurgency conflicts typical of the many fought by the Western powers during the 19th and 20th centuries. It has never lost a conflict. But this is the age of ’war amongst the people’ and just now the jury is out. Lebanon war - The changing mode of conflict in this sub-region became clear in August 2006. Believing that the lessons which Nato learned during the Kosovo conflict were that air power alone could win a war without the use of ground troops - negating all the risks physical, political and economic attached to sending in the tanks - appealed to the Israeli army and its political masters.

Israeli troops move into Gaza Strip
Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters, The Independent 1/3/2009
Israeli troops backed by helicopters advanced into Gaza today, a Palestinian witness and the Israeli army said, in the first ground action of an eight-day offensive against Hamas in the Palestinian enclave. The small column of military vehicles crossed the boundary fence into the northern Gaza Strip under darkness, said the witness, a resident of Beit Lahiya. An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the incursion and said the aim was to seize areas from where Hamas was launching rocket attacks on southern Israel. "The objective is to destroy the Hamas terror infrastructure in the area of operations," Major Avital Leibovitch said. Israeli tanks and troops had been massed on the border for days awaiting a possible invasion as Israeli firepower pounded Gaza from land, sea and air. Witnesses had earlier reported Hamas fighters taking up positions in Gaza to repel any Israeli incursion.

New Israeli raids on Gaza kill Palestinian girl, two Qassam fighters
Palestinian Information Center 1/3/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Israeli military raids on northern and eastern Gaza Strip have killed at an early hour Saturday a little Palestinian girl and two Qassam fighters. Palestinian medical sources reported that a 13-year-old girl called Sejoud Al-Dardasawi was killed and three other citizens were wounded during Israeli artillery shelling that targeted Palestinian homes east of Al-Shujaiyeh neighborhood in Gaza city. The sources added that two Palestinian fighters affiliated with Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, were also killed in Jabaliya, northern Gaza. The IOF troops have carried out at least seven military raids on open areas in Gaza this morning including the Palestinian-Egyptian border areas. In a statement received by the PIC, the Hamas Movement stated that that the killing of civilians in their homes, schools, universities and mosques is evidence of Israel’s "hysteria and intelligence failure".

Al-Qassam: 302 projectiles fired at Israel since beginning of Gaza offensive
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas’ armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades said their fighters have already fired 302 projectiles from Gaza since the beginning of Israeli offensive, or an average of 44 per day. Israel says it launched it’s massive air bombardment to stop the barrages of homemade rockets that target Israeli towns near Gaza. On Saturday morning, armed factions in Gaza, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, theAl-Aqsa Brigades and others, vowed to continue their attacks. Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, claimed responsibility to have launched two homemade rockets towards the Israeli border town of Sderot on Saturday. Fatah’s military wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, claimed responsibility for firing three mortar rounds at an Israeli intelligence building at the Kissufim military instalation. “We assure occupation that they should expect a tougher response from our fighters.

Update: 447 people killed in Gaza and 2,280 wounded since the beginning of the Israeli operations.
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 1/3/2009
Ramallah, 03-01-09: For the 8th consecutive day, Israel continued its attacks on the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of the Israeli invasion, 447 people in Gaza were killed, of which approximately 65 children and 26 women. By now, a total of 2,280 Gazans are injured of which more than 261 children. Israel’s war has mainly been conducted against civilians. Nonetheless, attacks have continued without any serious intervention from any country in the world, neglecting their obligations as enshrined under international law. Most countries have so far even refrained from condemning the Israeli massacre. Although worldwide, civilians protested against the bloodbath, death and destruction taking place in Gaza, their leaders have been slow to react and act, not least in the Arab world. As more people die every hour, the international community talks about a possible solution and its role therein.

Hamas commander killed in Gaza
Ynet and Reuters, YNetNews 1/3/2009
Air Force bombs more than 25 targets in Gaza Strip on Friday night; Palestinians say Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades commander Abu Zakaria al-Jamal died from wounds sustained in strike, college guard killed in attack on northern Strip -An Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip killed a senior commander of Hamas’ armed wing, the Islamist group said Saturday. Hamas said Abu Zakaria al-Jamal died early on Saturday from wounds sustained in an Israel Air Force strike overnight. At least 10 rockets were fired into Israel on Saturday morning. One of the rockets landed in the yard of a house in the city of Ashkelon at around 10:30 am. There were no injuries, but a tree caught fire. Ronen Strogoli, who lives nearby, arrived at the scene of the attack immediately afterwards. "I heard a siren and ran outside, because I don’t have a fortified room at home and had nowhere to hide.

PFLP, Islamic Jihad fighters launch projectile attacks from Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Gaza - Ma’an - Armed groups affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Islamic Jihad shelled an engineering unit within the Israeli military on Saturday, according to a statement. The unit, PFLP’s Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, was operating east of Beit Hanoun at the time of the attack, the group said. Its fighters targeted the Erez and Naveh Ha’tsera areas of Israel, near the border with Gaza, on Saturday afternoon, the statement said. It announced joint responsibility for another operations, claiming to work with Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades, for an attack on Ashkelon with two homemade projectiles around noon on Saturday. The group said it shelled Sderot with four homemade projectiles, in addition to shelling the Ashkol compound and two others nearby. The group claimed responsibility for launchinga total of eight projectiles on Saturday.

No end in sight: week Two of Israeli blitz on Gaza
Middle East Online 1/3/2009
GAZA CITY - Israeli artillery on Saturday bombarded the Gaza Strip in a dramatic escalation after a week of air attacks which have left more than 440 Palestinians dead. Israeli tanks were seen moving toward the frontier as Howitzer guns fired dozens of shells across the border. Media correspondents saw huge plumes of black smoke rise on the Gaza side. The Israeli army made no immediate comment on the operation which came amid mounting speculation that Israel would send troops into Gaza. With thousands of troops and tanks massed at the frontier, Israeli radio warned the public that rocket attacks could intensify in "coming hours". Israel has staged more than 750 air raids since December 27. At least 442 Palestinians have been killed -- including 75 children -- and 2,290 wounded, according to medics. According to the UN, one quarter of the Palestinian victims were civilians.

IDF strike levels US-style Gaza school
Associated Press Published, YNetNews 1/3/2009
Army explains rockets had been fired from one of Gaza’s most distinguished schools; chairman of its board says, ’I can’t swear no rocket was fired, but if there was, you don’t destroy a whole school’ -An Israeli air strike flattened one of Gaza’s best private educational institutions, the American International School which had been targeted by Islamic militants in the past. The Israeli army said the campus on a northern Gaza hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean had been used as a launching base for rockets and was a legitimate target. Israel has been bombing Hamas targets in Gaza for the last eight days to stop the group from sending rockets into southern Israel. More than 470 Palestinians have died so far, along with four Israelis. Most of the school’s buildings, which offered American-style curriculum in English for kindergarten through 12th. . .

Israeli Ground Forces Invade Gaza – Heavy Fighting Reported
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Gaza/Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli ground troops backed by tanks and helicopters have invaded the Gaza Strip on the eighth day of a major offensive on the tiny coastal territory. Heavy fighting has been reported, with both sides claiming to inflict losses on the other. Reports of casualties are nearly impossible to verify during the nighttime incursion. The Hamas-affiliated television station based in Gaza reported that five Israeli soldiers had been killed in the fighting, but an Israeli military spokesman said he had no information about casualties on either side. Separately, medical officials at the local hospital in the town of Beit Hanoun, the northernmost town in the Strip, said the bodies of four dead Palestinians had arrived. Earlier in the day Israeli airstrikes killed at least 19 Palestinians in Beit Lahiya, Rafah and Ash-Shuja’ieyah earlier in the day.

PRC: Fighters used massive bomb against invading forces; armed factions coordinating response
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian fighters detonated a 50 kilogram bomb as Israeli forces crossed into the Gaza Strip, a spokesperson of one of the key armed Palestinian armed groups said on Saturday evening. Abu Mujahid, the spokesman of the An-Nasser Salah Ad-Din Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, told Al-Jazeera television that their forces had set off the massive explosion in an area called Hayeh Zaytoun. It was not clear if anyone was injured. He also said that his group is coordinating the defense of the Gaza Strip with all other armed factions, including the Al-Aqsa Brigades, an armed group loyal to Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hamas, and others. He said the fighters’ confidence is “soaring,” and that the armed factions are weighing “all options” in their defense of Gaza.

3 hurt as rockets hit buildings in South
Yaakov Lappin and Jerusalem Post Staff, Jerusalem Post 1/3/2009
As Operation Cast Lead moved into its second week, Palestinians showed no sign of ending their rocket attacks against Israel, firing at least 40 projectiles Saturday. In the latest attack, a Kassam rocket hit an open area in the Eshkol region on Saturday night. No one was wounded and no damage was reported. Earlier Saturday, a woman sustained light shrapnel wounds when a rocket fired by Gaza terrorists hit a house in Netivot. The house collapsed after the strike. In Ashdod, two people were lightly wounded when a Grad-type rocket slammed into an eight-story building. Magen David Adom paramedic Igor Artel, who oversaw the rescue operation, told The Jerusalem Post that an elderly man and a middle-aged man suffered light shrapnel wounds. They were evacuated to Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot, together with eight people who were suffering from shock.

Woman hurt in rocket strike
Ilana Curiel, YNetNews 1/3/2009
Gaza terrorists fire more rockets at south; Netivot home sustains direct hit, woman lightly hurt -The rocket fire towards Israel from Gaza continued Saturday as the IDF military operation in the Strip continues. One woman was lightly injured by a Qassam rocket that directly hit a home in the southern town of Netivot. The woman sustained shrapnel wounds to her leg and was evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. Boaz Rakiya, a rescue forces spokesman, said the rocket had struck the roof of the house and caused it to cave in. He said rescue forces were sifting through the rubble to search for gas leaks and any other people who may be trapped inside. Another rocket fell in an open area near the city. An additional rocket was fired at a kibbutz in Shaar HaNegev Regional Council, and another landed in Eshkol Regional Council.

Israeli ground forces enter Gaza
Ran Rimon, Globes Online 1/3/2009
Minister of Defense Ehud Barak: The ground operation will not be easy or short. On the eighth day of Israel’s Operation Cast Led against Hamas, the stakes have been raised. After a week of aerial bombardment, Israeli ground forces entered the Gaza Strip this evening, backed by artillery fire. The Palestinians have reported several killed and wounded, but have not stated whether these are civilians or Hamas fighters. Voice of Israel Radio reports that infantry and armoured forces are converging on Gaza City from three sides. The Israel Navy has imposed a blockade 30 kilometers from the Gaza Strip coast. The fighting began after Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, decided not to renew the truce that had been in force for six months, and resumed heavy rocket fire on southern Israel. Minister of Defense Ehud Barak said at a special news. . .

’Gaza will become graveyard for troops’
Jpost.com Staff And Ap, Jerusalem Post 1/3/2009
Hamas spokesmen were quick to react to the entrance of IDF ground troops into the Gaza Strip on Saturday night, making threats and insisting that Israel would regret the decision to proceed with the expansion of the operation. A Hamas spokesman said in a televised speech that Gaza will "become a graveyard" for Israeli soldiers. Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan, who appeared on Hamas’s Al Aqsa TV on Saturday night said that Gaza will "become a graveyard" for Israeli soldiers. It was not clear if the appearance was live or taped. In another message, Hamas warned Israeli forces that "Gaza will not be paved with flowers for you, it will be paved with fire and hell. " RELATED Earlier, Channel 10 reported a spokesman for Hamas’s military wing, Izzadin Kassam, as saying "Israel will pay a heavy price.

Hamas repels Israeli patrol at Gaza border
Middle East Online 1/3/2009
GAZA CITY - The armed wing of Hamas said on Saturday its fighters had repelled a patrol of Israeli special forces troops trying to cross the border into the Gaza Strip. A spokesman for the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said that fighters spotted an unspecified number of special forces trying to enter the Shijaiyah border neighbourhood of eastern Gaza City at around 1 am (2300 GMT Friday). He said the fighters fired six mortar rounds at the Israelis, who returned fire with small arms and retreated. He said there were no casualties. An Israeli spokesman said the Israeli army was "not familiar with the incident," adding that no soldiers had crossed into Gaza since the beginning of Israel’s air campaign the Strip on December 27.

2 lightly injured in rocket attack
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 1/3/2009
More than 16 rockets fired from Gaza Strip since morning hours. Two people lightly injured by shrapnel in Ashdod. Woman suffers shock as rocket explodes in open area near Kiryat Malachi. Backyard of house in Ashkelon damaged - Palestinians fired several rocket barrages towards southern Israel on Saturday morning. Two people were lightly injured by shrapnel after a rocket hit a building in the port city of Ashdod. A woman suffered shock as a rocket landed in an open field in the Kiryat Malachi area. More than 16 rockets have been fired into southern Israel by Palestinian gunmen since Saturday morning. One of the rockets hit a house in the seaside city of Ashkelon. There were no reports of injuries, but damage was caused. The rocket fired at Ashdod hit a building in the city. Two people were lightly injured by shrapnel and several suffered shock. Magen David Adom rescue crews were dispatched to the area and attended to the injured. The power supply to the area was cut off by Israel Electric Corporation teams.

Police looking for reporter who defied military censor
Jerusalem Post 1/4/2009
Police were searching Saturday night for a foreign reporter working for an Iranian TV network who reported the IDF incursion into Gaza before the military authorized the release of the information to the public. Also Saturday evening, a reporter for the Lebanese LBC network who was broadcasting near the Gaza Strip said the IDF was moving from Nahal Oz towards the Nezarim junction. The reporter surmised that the military was planning to sever the Gaza Strip in half, effectively isolating Gaza City in an effort to minimize Hamas terrorists’ ability to exploit urban areas. The anchor reportedly stood in a vantage point overlooking the IDF staging grounds and reported military maneuvers.

VIDEO - Cynthia McKinney on the Israeli ramming of the activist boat
CNN, YouTube, Palestine Think Tank 1/3/2009
Congresswoman McKinney is one of the most admirable persons on this entire planet. In this video, while she describes what has happened to the Free Gaza Boat "The Dignity", she reminds Americans of their responsibility in all of this. [end]

Abbas postpones trip to UN, plans to meet with Sarkozy to discuss ceasefire
Ma’an News Agency 1/4/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday postponed a planned trip to the United Nations headquarters in New York on account of the Israeli invasion of Gaza. Palestinian Authority (PA) Foreign Minister Riad Al-Maliki told Ma’an in a phone call from the Jordanian capital city of Amman that Abbas will be at the PA headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday. Abbas will return to meet French President Nikolas Sarkozy, who has proposed a ceasefire in Gaza that that would involve the opening of Gaza’s Israeli-blockaded crossing points. Abbas’ PA holds power in parts of the West Bank and currently has no control over the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip. Al-Maliki, who is accompanying president Abbas in Jordan said the Sarkozi will be visiting Ramallah to help in an international effort to put an immediate end to the ongoing Israeli offense.

NATO leader to arrive for talks
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is expected to arrive in Israel next weekend for talks with senior members of the cabinet and Israel Defense Forces officers. According to sources in Jerusalem, Scheffer will not be discussing the possible stationing of NATO troops along the border with Egypt after the completion of Operation Cast Lead - an option entertained by some opinion-shapers commenting on the situation in Gaza. Scheffer’s visit was scheduled six weeks ago, as a going-away tour for the outgoing secretary-general, who will be finishing his term in summer. Scheffer will meet Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. In terms of protocol, a future stationing of NATO troops in Gaza would require a request by a member state for the move.

Jailed Fatah lawmaker: Attack on Gaza is ’genocide’
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – A senior Fatah lawmaker issued a statement from his Israeli prison cell on Saturday condemning Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip as “genocide. ”Jamal At-Tirawi, the speaker of Fatah parliamentarian bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), said “This aggression, using one of the most advanced military arsenals in the world against an area under the attacker’s occupation, is a war crime and genocide. ”434 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,200 injured by Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire over eight days of an Israeli offensive. "The crippling siege of the Gaza Strip over more than a year and a half, along with closure of crossing points with Arab countries, is not less harmful than military aggression going on now,” he added. He said: “We expected Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo to come up with a decision that matches. . .

Fatah party of Abbas: Israeli ground attack on Gaza won’t bring security
Rami Almeghari&Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/3/2009
The rival Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, stated this evening that the Israeli ground offensive on Gaza won’t bring security to Israelis. Fahmi Aza’reer, spokesman of Fatah in the West Bank, was quoted as saying "any Israeli attempt to reoccupy the Gaza Strip won’t make the Palestinian people succumb to the Israeli occupation",. The spokesman called on the international community to take the responsibility immediately by stopping what he termed the Israeli massacres against the Palestinian people and ensuring a ceasefire. The Fatah party has been at loggerheads with the ruling Hamas party in Gaza , since Hamas took over power after 2006’s parliamentary elections. President Abbas outlawed Hamas after the party seized control of Gaza amidst factional fighting with his Fatah party in June2007.

Dr Barghouthi assures Palestinians he is doing his best to stop the bloodshed in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian lawmaker Dr Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative said on Saturday that he contacted several international parties to try and stop the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip. “The Palestinian National Initiative has already sent messages to leaders of 169 socialist parties all over the world urging them to condemn Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip,” Barghouthi added. He also asserted that he contacted several foreign ministers of foreign countries including Europe in attempt to stop aggression and siege against Gaza immediately. Barghouthi also contacted several international humanitarian organizations in order to exert pressure on their countries in order to place pressure on Israel to stop offensive on Gaza.

Retired IDF officers: Schalit must be part of any cease-fire deal
Shelly Paz, Jerusalem Post 1/4/2009
Eleven retired senior IDF officers have written a letter to the senior political echelon, demanding that the government include the release of captured soldier Gilad Schalit in any future cease-fire agreement. The 11, who are members of the Yisrael Hazaka Party, headed by Brig. -Gen. (ret. ) Dr. Efraim Sneh, sent the letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. "Operation Cast Lead has created a one-time opportunity to bring back soldier Gilad Schalit, who has been held hostage for more than two years," the letter reads. "Now that Hamas is cornered, it is possible to force it to release Schalit on different conditions than before the military operation. "This is why we were astounded to learn that it was decided not to include the release of Schalit as one of the conditions to end the military operation," the letter says.

State Dept: US working for Mideast cease-fire
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 1/4/2009
The United States is working toward a cease-fire that will not allow Hamas to continue firing rockets into Israel, a State Department spokesman said after Israel launched a ground invasion of Gaza. Cautious statements from the State Department and the White House voiced concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, but did not directly criticize Israel for moving ground forces into Gaza. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said "it’s obvious the cease-fire should take place as soon as possible," but it has to be sustainable and cannot allow Hamas to continue to launch rockets out of Gaza. The US has asked the Israeli government to be mindful of potential consequences of its actions to civilians, McCormack said, noting that the US is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

UN chief wants monitors for Gaza truce
Associated Press, YNetNews 1/3/2009
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging key world leaders to intensify efforts to achieve an immediate Israeli- Hamas ceasefire that includes international monitors to enforce a truce and possibly to protect Palestinian civilians, a UN official said Friday. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and several Arab foreign ministers are flying to New York over the weekend to urge the UN Security Council to adopt an Arab draft resolution that would condemn Israel and demand a halt to its bombing campaign in Gaza. But the United States said the draft is "unacceptable" and "unbalanced" because it makes no mention of halting the Hamas rocketing of southern Israel which led to the Israeli offensive. Experts met behind closed doors Friday afternoon to discuss the Arab draft, and it is expected to be at the heart of UN discussions starting Monday. Ban scheduled meetings on Monday with Abbas and the Arab foreign ministers.

Israeli Defense Minister Says Army To Keep up Attacks on Gaza
Rami Al Meghari, International Middle East Media Center News 1/3/2009
Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, said this evening that his army’s attacks on the Gaza Strip will continue until goals are reached. Barak was speaking in a press briefing following the breakout of Israeli military ground offensive on the coastal territory later in the day. Barak also warned of his army’s readiness to retaliate to any attempt by other regional bodies-referring to the Lebanese Hizbullah party- to involve in another front with his army. " the Israeli army has announced a state of high alert on the Israeli northern border lines with Lebanon", Barak was quoted as saying. From his part, Israeli army spokesperson said that the ground offensive on Gaza will take longer days. " It is not a school trip", the spokesperson said. According to Israeli sources, the Israeli cabinet has set the goals for such an attack; undermining the infrastructure of Palestinian. . .

Mashaal: Enemy surprised by determination in Gaza
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 1/3/2009
Hamas politburo chief meets with secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, says any ceasefire offer ’will involve opening of crossings’ - Saeed Jalili, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, is heading a delegation visiting Damascus for talks withSyrian President Bashar Assad on the situation in the Gaza Strip, Iranian news agencies reported Saturday morning. This is the first visit to Syria by a high-ranking Iranian official since the Israel Defense Forces launched Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last Saturday. The details of the Jalili’s meeting with Assad were unavailable. Jalili also met with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal. According to a statement released by the Iranian official’s office, Mashaal told him that any offer for a ceasefire "will involve an immediate end to the Israeli aggression and. . . "

Hamas leader Mash’al demands cooperation in the face of Israeli violence
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – All factions should work together to counter the Israeli invasion in Gaza, said Hamas leader in exile Khalid Mash’al in a televised speech from Damascus Friday. Mash’al applauded the Fatah initiative to stop media incitement and called on Hamas leaders to do the same. He asserted that the current battle was against the whole nation rather than against Hamas alone. Hamas number one leader outside of Gaza applauded the West Bank population and the Arab world for the rallies and demonstrations they organized to show solidarity with the Gaza Strip. For his part he assured listeners that contacts with Arab and Islamic countries were ongoing, and that al efforts were being made in order to stop Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip without any conditions being placed on Hamas restricting their actions.

Europe backs IDF incursion
Reuters Published, YNetNews 1/3/2009
EU President Czech Republic: Israeli ground incursion defensive, not offensive action - European Union president, the Czech Republic, said on Saturday an Israeli ground incursion in Gaza was "defensive, not offensive" action. "At the moment, from the perspective of the last days, we understand this step as a defensive, not offensive, action," Czech EU presidency spokesman Jiri Potuznik said. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is leading an EU delegation to the region on Sunday, and Potuznik said the presidency will wait to see the results of that visit. However, France condemned Israel’s move to send ground forces into Gaza. "France condemns the Israeli ground offensive against Gaza as it condemns the continuation of rocket firing," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The international response / Free rein, for now
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
The international community, headed by the U. S. and Egypt, is giving Israel time to carry out the ground offensive in Gaza, so it will severely damage Hamas’ regime. The rationale behind such a move is that a weakened Hamas would improve the chances of achieving a stable agreement in Gaza once the fighting subsides. And so there is a degree of foot-dragging in the diplomatic efforts to reach a cease-fire. The most visible sign of this was the decision to postpone the United Nations Security Council discussion on Gaza planned for tomorrow. France postponed the discussion to Wednesday, to ensure that it would be held after French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to the region tomorrow. During her visit to France on Thursday, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had requested that the discussion be postponed. In its efforts to formulate a draft for an agreement with Hamas in. . .

Riot police called out in London as protest ends in skirmishes
Emily Dugan, Kaarina Miles and Richard Osley, The Independent 1/4/2009
Riot police were dispatched to the Israeli embassy in London last night as a day of protests across Europe degenerated into ugly skirmishes. In London Israeli flags were set ablaze and surging crowds were penned back by police with shields and batons. Some protesters were in tears, claiming they were being stopped from leaving peacefully, and organisers said they would complain about police heavy-handedness. Others, growing more aggressive as news of Israel’s ground invasion spread, threw missiles while police tried to drive them back. Late into the evening, several hundred were still staring down officers outside the embassy. The London ambulance service said it had helped one man with a head injury and others with minor bruises after sending a team of 25 to the scene. Tens of thousands initially took to the streets, even as Israeli forces were firing shells from the border of Gaza.

Thousands join march to protest against Israeli action
Tracy McVeigh and Ben Quinn, The Guardian 1/4/2009
Protests against the Israeli offensive in Gaza became heated last night when up to 5,000 people gathered outside the country’s London embassy. A crowd dominated by young British Muslims cheered as Israeli flags were burned and some protesters hurled missiles, including a firework, at police. Officers sealed off roads around Kensington High Street and armed themselves with riot shields as a small number of angry protesters tried to break down barriers protecting the building. Older members of the crowd were seen trying to calm the atmosphere, which became increasingly charged as darkness fell and news of the ground invasion began to spread. The group had broken away from a much larger demonstration earlier in the day when thousands marched through the streets of central London and gathered at a rally in Trafalgar Square.

Protesters across Europe urge Israel to end attacks on Gaza Strip
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
LONDON - Demonstrators hurled shoes at the tall iron gates outside the British prime minister’s residence in London yesterday and waved Palestinian flags in more than a dozen European cities as tens of thousands protested Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. In London, at least 10,000 people, many carrying Palestinian flags, marched past Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Downing Street residence to a rally in Trafalgar Square. Outside Downing Street, hundreds of protesters stopped and threw shoes at the gates that block entry to the narrow road. Shoe-throwing has become a popular gesture of protest and contempt since an Iraqi journalist pelted U. S. President George W. Bush with a pair of brogues in Baghdad last month. Police estimated the crowd in London at 10,000 to 12,000, but organizers said the number was much higher.

EU presidency: Israel ground op in Gaza ’defensive not offensive’
Haaretz Service and Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
PRAGUE - European Union president, the Czech Republic, said Saturday an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza was "defensive, not offensive" action. "At the moment, from the perspective of the last days, we understand this step as a defensive, not offensive, action," Czech EU presidency spokesman Jiri Potuznik said. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is leading an EU delegation to the region Sunday, and Potuznik said the presidency will wait to see the results of that visit. Israel sent troops into Gaza on Saturday evening, eight days after launching air strikes on the coastal strip, which came in the wake of a breakdown in a six-month truce with Gaza’s Hamas rulers. Dozens of rockets have been fired at Israel’s southern communities over the past two weeks, killing four Israelis.

Gaza protest march ends in violence
Tracy McVeigh and Ben Quinn, The Guardian 1/4/2009
Protests against the Israeli offensive in Gaza turned violent yesterday when demonstrators in London burned Israeli flags and hurled missiles including fireworks at police officers. As Israel began a ground offensive, a crowd of about 5,000, dominated by young British Muslims, gathered around the country’s London embassy. Officers with riot shields sealed off local roads as a small group of angry protesters tried to storm the building. Older protesters were seen trying to calm sections of the crowd. As darkness fell the atmosphere became more heated, vocal and aggressive. The group had broken away from a larger demonstration earlier when people had marched through central London to Trafalgar Square to protest against the attacks, which have left almost 500 dead.

Tens of thousands in London protest Gaza offensive
Ben Quinn and Matthew Weaver, The Guardian 1/3/2009
Hundreds of shoes lie in the street in Whitehall as a protester runs back to the crowd after attempting to throw a shoe into Downing Street. Photograph: Fiona Hanson/PA. Tens of thousands of protesters showed their anger at the Israeli bombing of Gaza today in a series of rallies across the UK that included throwing shoes at the gates of Downing Street. More than a thousands pairs of footwear were thrown by protesters marching down Whitehall. A firework was also set off metres from the Downing Street gates. The organisers said they wanted to leave shoes at the gates as a Muslim symbol of disgust at the attacks. When they were prevented from doing so, protesters began throwing their footwear, mimicking the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush at a press conference last month. Protesters shouted: "Shame on you, have my shoe. "

New York City labor group condemns attacks on Gaza
Release, NYLAW, Electronic Intifada 1/3/2009
The following statement was issued on 31 December 2008: New York City Labor Against the War joins millions around the world in condemning Israel’s ongoing murder and maiming of hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza. Who are the real terrorists? Israel claims that it is fighting "terrorism" -- the same hollow excuse with which the United States tries to justify wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the erosion of civil liberties and labor rights at home. But as South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu points out, Israel’s massacres "bears all the hallmarks of war crimes. " Long before these attacks, Israel had turned Gaza into the world’s largest open air prison, assassinating activists, and cutting-off essential goods, jobs, and services to 1. 5 million people. Only as a result did Hamas abandon a unilateral two-year ceasefire and subsequent truce. Since that time, it has repeatedly offered to cease all rocket fire in exchange for an end to US-Israel blockade and other military attacks.

Palestinians, Colombian supporters, protest the Israeli offensive in Gaza
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/3/2009
The Palestinian Community in the Columbian capital, Bogota, held, along with local supporters, a massive protest on Friday against the ongoing Israeli offensive against the residents of the Gaza Strip, and expressed their solidarity with residents of Gaza, the Palestinian embassy in Colombia reported. The People’s Daily Online reported that the protesters marched from the historic Bolivar Square to the Israeli embassy in northern Bogota, demanding peace for the Palestinian people. The protest came while the Colombian government issued a statement condemning the Israeli offensive and expressed its solidarity with the Palestinian people. Hundreds of Palestinians, Arab Columbians and international supporters participated in the protest which took off, starting from Simon Bolivar Square, and marched through the streets of the capital, and towards the Israeli embassy.

Confusion as usual in Brussels
Ilana Bet-El, The Guardian 1/3/2009
The conflict in Gaza has revealed the EU in its usual state with regard to world events: introverted confusion. Matters have not been helped by the end of year break, which has left the Schuman quarter of Brussels, where the EU resides, hollowingly empty. On the other hand, a physical presence might only have served to highlight the inadequacy, for the bottom line is that the EU is not united around an opinion or a plan of action, and is basically far more concerned with its own ructions than the situation on the ground. In broad terms opinion is split between those states that condemn Israel for disproportionate use of force - led by France, Ireland and Luxembourg - and those that blame Hamas for the entire situation, led by Germany and the Czech Republic. And while the difference is relatively predictable, at this specific moment it is also very unwelcome.

Portland holds second protest demanding justice in Gaza
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 1/3/2009
Around 200 people braved the cold and sleeton Friday afternoon in Portland to voice their opposition to the Israeli attacks in Gaza, and to call on Senator Ron Wyden to change his position on the issue from unquestioning support for Israel to a position that supports equal rights for the Palestinian people. Many held hand-stenciled signs reading "Gaza Genocide: Made in USA", and "Free Palestine". The group made their way around the downtown Portland park in front of the Federal Building, chanting "Free Free Palestine" and "Occupation is a crime". Motorists passing in front of the protest honking and cheering, and pedestrians on the street also voiced their support. Representatives from No More Victims Portland, the Portland Peaceful Response Coalition and the Pacific Green Party, among others, spoke to the crowd to rally support for the people of Gaza.

Worldwide protests denounce Israel
Al Jazeera 1/3/2009
Angry protests against Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip have continued throughout the world, with two of the largest demonstrations taking place in London and in Sakhnin in northern Israel. Other large demonstrations were staged in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir, Lebanon, Turkey and the West Bank. Protesters in Kabul pumped their fists into the air and shouted slogans against Israel and the United States, while in Srinagar activists burned an effigy of Ehud Olmert, Israel’s outgoing prime minister. In Ramallah in the West Bank, Palestinians seeking national unity marched through streets and there were clashes with Israeli riot police. Israel protests - In the northern Israeli town of Sakhnin up to 150,000 Israeli-Palestinians have protested against Israel’s offensive.

Qatar delays Darfur talks due to Gaza meeting
Middle East Online 1/3/2009
CAIRO - An Arab and African foreign ministers meeting on the Darfur crisis due to take place on Sunday has been delayed to January 12 at the request of hosts Qatar, an Arab League official said on Saturday. Qatar asked for the delay because its Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim was heading to New York with other Arab officials ahead of a UN Security Council meeting that will discuss a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza. Qatar was tasked by the Arab League and the African Union to host negotiations aimed at ending five years of warring between the government in Khartoum and Darfur rebels. Arab League chief Amr Mussa and joint African Union-United Nations mediator for Darfur Djibril Bassole were to attend the meeting and discuss the warring parties’ readiness for the peace talks. The meeting "will discuss points of future action.

Russian authorities quell protest against Israeli aggression on Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 1/3/2009
MOSCOW, (PIC)-- Russian authorities unexpectedly detained about 40 people after a peaceful protest outside the Israeli embassy in Moscow demanding an end to Israel’s military offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip. Despite the arrests, Russian policemen, who had to fulfill orders to break up the demonstration, expressed their sympathy with the protesters, but they seemed not to know for sure if the protest was illegal or not. The protest demo was approved by Moscow authorities several days ago, but later it was announced without any reason that such gatherings were not authorized. During the protest, the police banned journalist work and even arrested people for giving interviews to the media. The paradox of this situation is that the Russian government has expressed more than once its solidarity with the Palestinian people.

European mediators table truce proposal with Hamas, give int’l guarantees
Palestinian Information Center 1/3/2009
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Arab official sources revealed that there are Turkish and European initiatives offered to the Hamas Movement in Damascus urging it to stop rocket attacks in exchange for a long-term truce including the opening of all Gaza crossings with international guarantees.   The sources told the Quds Press that Turkish officials who accompanied premier Recep Erdogan during his visit to Syria met with Palestinian political leaders affiliated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad and suggested ideas related to the calm with Israel. The sources added that there were also indirect European attempts through Norwegian and French mediators in the same context, pointing out that the Hamas leadership in Damascus reiterated the same ideas and truce conditions highlighted earlier on Wednesday by Palestinian premier Ismail Haneyya.

Photostory: World demonstrates for Gaza
Photostory, Electronic Intifada 1/3/2009
Around the world people took to the streets outraged by the scenes of death and destruction in the Gaza Strip that began when Israel bombarded the coastal territory on 27 December. The below images were sent to The Electronic Intifada from around the world and document various actions, demonstrations and vigils in solidarity with Gazans under siege. If you have images to which you hold the rights documenting Palestine, Palestinian life, politics and culture, or of solidarity with Palestine, please email images and captions to photos A T electronicintifada D O T net. [end]

Arab League slams Livni remark ’there’s no humanitarian crisis in Gaza’
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
The head of the Arab League said on Saturday it was astonishing that Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had declared that there was no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, after a week of an Israeli aerial assault on the coastal strip. "I am greatly surprised by, and I reject, the words of the Israeli foreign minister who asks: ’Is there a humanitarian crisis? There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza,’" Amr Moussa said. "And this is an astonishing thing, that after more than 450 victims and more than 2,000 injured. . . then it is said there is no humanitarian crisis," he added. "There may be those that sympathize with such a remark. This is something we must condemn, and we must say there is a major humanitarian crisis," Moussa stressed. Livni rejected on Thursday a French proposal for a 48-hour truce to allow humanitarian. . .

UN Security Council to hold emergency session on Israel’s Gaza operation
Shlomo Shamir and Barak Ravid , and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
The United Nations Security Council has scheduled emergency consultations late Saturday to address the escalation of violence in Gaza. The decision Saturday came after Israeli tanks and infantry rolled into Gaza in a ground offensive in a widening war against Hamas. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged key world leaders to intensify efforts to achieve an immediate Israeli-Hamas cease-fire that includes international monitors to enforce a truce and, possibly, to protect Palestinian civilians. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and several Arab foreign ministers were flying to New York over the weekend to urge the Security Council to adopt an Arab draft resolution that would condemn Israel and demand a halt to its bombing campaign in Gaza. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni telephoned the UN secretary-general to update him on the goals of the ground operation.

Anti-Israel group wreaks havoc with Israeli Web sites
Shelly Paz, Jerusalem Post 1/4/2009
Pro-Hamas hackers rerouted Ynet English and Bank Discount’s surfers to a hostile Web page Friday that included messages against Israel and the US, along with a propaganda song in Arabic. The hackers took over an Israeli domain registration server called DomainTheNet for a couple of hours and managed to divert surfers to an alternative server in Japan where the hostile Web page was planted. The move was the latest in a widening Hamas psychological war against Israel. Last week it was reported that Hamas’s activists sent radio messages in Hebrew to IDF soldiers, threatening them that an invasion of Gaza would end with bloodshed. On Thursday Hamas sent text messages to Israeli cell phones saying that there was nowhere to take cover because Hamas’s rockets would reach all Israeli cities. The hackers, who call themselves Team Evil and are based in Morocco, planted messages. . .

Top Iran official holds talks with Syria on Gaza violence
Yoav Stern and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/3/2009
Syria’s official news agency reported Saturday that a senior Iranian official visiting Damascus has held talks on Israel’s weeklong offensive in Gaza with Syrian President Bashar Assad and leaders of radical Palestinian factions. The report added that chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, also the secretary of Iran’s powerful Supreme National Security Council, met Assad Saturday after he conferred late Friday with Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal and Islamic Jihad chief Ramadan Abdullah Shallah. According to Army Radio, Meshal announced in his meeting with Jalili that "Israel will deeply regret any ground invasion into the Gaza Strip," and explained that "the determination and high tolerance of the people of Gaza has taken the Zionist enemy by surprise, and will continue to do so.

Serri calls on int’l parties to support return of Abbas control on Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 1/3/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Special UN coordinator for middle east peace process Robert Serri called on the international parties to help the PA in Ramallah to restore control over the Gaza Strip in light of the ongoing Israeli military operations. During a press conference held in occupied Jerusalem and viewed on air in New York, Serri talked about the importance of facilitating a handover of power to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza.   The UN official also expressed his rejection of opening the Rafah border crossing before Hamas pledges to stop firing rockets in retaliation to the Israeli aggression on Gaza. [end]

Report: Abbas to release hundreds of Hamas prisoners
Ali Waked, YNetNews 1/3/2009
Source in Palestinian organization say PA president announced decision to release prisoners as goodwill gesture to Hamas. PA officials clarify they won’t release inmates who may endanger residents, try and carry out terror attacks in Israel - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has informed the Palestinian organizations that he plans to release hundreds of Hamas prisoners jailed in prisons in the West Bank, sources in Hamas claimed Saturday. Abbas’ office has yet to respond to the report. According to the report, Abbas is interested in making a goodwill gesture ahead of a possible renewal of the talks between the Palestinian factions and on the backdrop of the Israel Defense Forces’ offensive against the terror organizations in Gaza.

Analysis: Who will come out on top?
Mitchell Prothero, The Guardian 1/3/2009
Islamic Jihad - the extremist group behind many of the rocket attacks on Israeli towns - has got the war it wished for at least. Amid reports of heavy losses among their allies in Hamas as Israeli troops poured in Gaza, the question is whether they have bitten off more than they can chew. It was over a year ago, in an interview with The Observer, that Abu Hamza, the head of Islamic Jihad’s rocket programme, explained that the goal was to draw Israel into a ground conflict inside the Gaza Strip so that his men would have the chance to "kill as many Zionists as possible". A top commander repeated that sentiment - previously lacking from Hamas’ rhetoric, as they pursued the two often-conflicting strategies of resistance and governing - earlier this week. Abu Bilal, commander of Islamic Jihad’s forces in the Rafah Refugee Camp in southern. . .

Hamas regrets PA persecution of demos
Palestinian Information Center 1/3/2009
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Ra’fat Nassif, one of Hamas’s political leaders in the West Bank, has expressed regret over the PA security apparatuses’ obstruction of popular demonstrations against the Israeli massacre in Gaza, beating up participants and arresting a number of them. Nassif, in a press release on Saturday, said that such practices only harmed the image of the Palestinian people and ran contrary to national duty that calls for boosting national solidarity. He said that such practices also contradict the PA leadership’s announcement on ending media campaigns other than the call for dialog. Nassif welcomed any declaration that would boost national interest, stressing that it should be certified through practices in the field. He called in this regard for releasing all political detainees, halting restrictions on freedom of expression and ending political detention.

Jihad: Calls for dialog incompatible with quelling popular demos
Palestinian Information Center 1/3/2009
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Islamic Jihad Movement has strongly criticized the quelling by PA security apparatuses in the West Bank of popular demonstrations and rallies to support their brothers in "steadfast Gaza". The Movement in a statement on Friday lashed out at the PA security for blocking Palestinian masses from marching in protest against the Israeli occupation forces’ bloody onslaught on the Gaza Strip that has been ongoing for one week unabated. It said that rallies were blocked in Al-Khalil and other areas while marches in certain areas were not allowed to reach IOF roadblocks. PA security elements encircled a number of marches and beat up participants while banning them from hoisting banners of Palestinian factions, the Movement elaborated. Jihad said that national unity is not a mere slogan to be voiced in official speeches and propaganda statements but rather is a method to be pursued in the field.

Hamas Resilient Despite Israeli Onslaught
The Associated Press, MIFTAH 1/3/2009
Israel is methodically targeting the Hamas domain, bombing government offices, security compounds, commanders, and even Hamas-linked clinics, mosques and money changers. Yet Gaza’s Islamic rulers show no sign of buckling under the aerial onslaught. Israel says Hamas still has thousands of rockets. Hamas TV and radio remain on the air, broadcasting morale-boosting battle reports. Hamas’ political and military leaders communicate from hiding places by walkie-talkie. Police patrol streets to prevent price gouging and looting. " Israel has destroyed the buildings, but Hamas is still here," Ahmed Yousef, a Hamas spokesman, said Thursday, the sixth day of the bombing campaign. "There is no anxiety over the existence of Hamas — even if they destroy all of Gaza — because we are among the people. " Hamas’ survival will depend on how far Israel is willing to go to obtain its declared objective: crippling

Profile: Hamas
Al Jazeera 1/4/2009
Hamas, the Palestinian political movement that controls Gaza, rose to international prominence following its armed campaign against Israel during the second intifada, or uprising, which began in 2000. The organisation, founded in 1987 as an offshoot of the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood movement, had already achieved widespread popularity in the Palestinian territories for its resistance to the Israeli military occupation and for its social programmes. The pinnacle of that popularity came in January 2006, when the movement won a stunning victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections. But the years since then, marked by a crippling international embargo, internal conflict with rivals Fatah, and Israeli attacks on its members, have proved a testing time for the organisation.

Hamas moves on Fatah ’collaborators’
Jerusalem Post 1/4/2009
The Hamas government has placed dozens of Fatah members under house arrest out of fear that they might exploit the current IDF operation to regain control of the Gaza Strip. The move came amid reports that the Fatah leadership in the West Bank has instructed its followers to be ready to assume power over the Gaza Strip when and if Israel’s military operation results in the removal of Hamas rule. Fatah officials in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas militiamen had been assaulting many Fatah activists since the beginning of the operation last Saturday. They said at least 75 activists were shot in the legs while others had their hands broken. Wisam Abu Jalhoum, a Fatah activist from the Jabalya refugee camp, was shot in the legs by Hamas militiamen for allegedly expressing joy over the IDF air strikes on Hamas targets.

Arab leaders face Gaza test
Anita Rice, Al Jazeera 1/4/2009
The Gaza crisis has exposed the growing disconnect between Arabs and their leaders. An enraged Arab street is seeking an immediate end to the death and destruction, but Arab governments have been slow to react in the face of the Israeli offensive. While public anger at Israel, and its staunchest ally the United States, reaches boiling point, protesters at demonstrations being held across the world are attacking Arab governments for apparently failing to act. "The problem is Hamas’ Islamist ideology. Their success has been deeply troubling for some Arab states," says Robert Lowe, a research fellow at the UK-based think-tank Chatham House. "It [the 2006 election that brought Hamas to power] was a democratic election and one of the fairest and freest elections ever to take place in the Arab world, that’s troubling for Arab states in itself. "

Gaza op rallies in Tel Aviv
Vered Luvitch Published, YNetNews 1/3/2009
MK Erdan: protestors show sane majority supports Gaza op; anti-war rally held at Rabin Square - A week after the launch of operation "Cast Lead" in the Gaza Strip, both supporters and objectors are holding separate rallies in Tel Aviv. About 300 people arrived at the city’s King David Boulevard in order to express their support for the IDF operation. Participants were chanting slogans in favor of eliminating Hamas and held signs reading "Let the IDF win" and "We’ve had enough, eliminate Hamas. " Members of Likud’s young guard also arrived at the protest in order to offer their support to the IDF. Likud Knesset Member Gilad Erden, who was also present at the rally said "the High Court of Justice was wrong when, in the midst of a war, it permitted the waving of an enemy flag in the center of the country.

Sakhnin protest: IDF op a war crime
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 1/3/2009
Tens of thousands of people take part in biggest rally organized by Arab sector in recent years, in protest of Israeli operation in Gaza. Demonstrators call Olmert, Barak and Ashkenazi war criminals. MK Taha: Hold peace negotiations instead of bombarding - Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the northern town of Sakhnin on Saturday in order to take part in the biggest rally organized by Israel’s Arab sector in recent years, in protest of the Israel Defense Forces’ operation in the Gaza Strip. The protestors urged the world to try those responsible for the operation for war crimes. Balad Chairman Jamal Zahalka, who attended the rally, said that "this is indeed the biggest demonstration we have seen over the past decade. The Arab public is united in its demand to stop the war immediately. "

Arabs residents take off to the streets in Sakhnin Arab town
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/3/2009
The Associated Press reported on Saturday that that thousands of residents of Sakhnin Arab town, in the Galilee, took off to the streets in protest to the ongoing Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip as more than 460 Palestinians were killed since last Saturday. Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that the protest was organized by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, and that this protest is considered the largest since October 2000. The Israeli police was intensively deployed in the area and set up roadblocks at the entrance of the city. Haaretz said that the police decided to allow the protestors to carry large Palestinian flags and black flags but forbade them from carrying flags that represents Arab political parties in Israel. Member of Knesset of the Balad Party, Jamal Zahalka, said that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, his Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, and Israeli. . .

Sakhnin: Over 10,000 protest Gaza op
Yaakov Lappin And Jerusalem Post Staff, Jerusalem Post 1/3/2009
Over 10,000 people demonstrated against Operation Cast Lead in the northern town of Sakhnin on Saturday, by far the biggest such protest in Israel so far. According to organizers, it was the largest protest held by the Israeli-Arab sector in many years. Marchers held Palestinian flags and even a smattering of green Hamas flags. They also held pictures of children said to have been killed during the IDF operation. There were no reports of violence. The protest opened with a minute of silence, in memory of Palestinians killed in Gaza since the operation began. The event was attended by several Arab Knesset members including Muhammad Barakei (Hadash) and Jamal Zahalka (Balad), as well as Arab mayors and other public officials from the Arab sector. Zahalka demanded that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and IDF chief of General Staff Lt.

Israel allows 300 people to leave Gaza
Amira Hass and Maya Zinshtein, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
Departees were mostly foreigners married to Gazans, and their children Three hundred Gaza residents left Gaza on Friday morning on their way to the Allenby Bridge. The embassies that spent several days working with the Israeli government to secure their exit call them evacuees, but escapees is more accurate. Most hold foreign passports, and were the foreign-born wives of Gazans, and their children. Several children said their friends did not know they had left. "How could we tell them? No one goes out, there’s no electricity and no Internet, the phones don’t work," a 15-year-old boy said. His sister admitted she was ashamed to tell her friends she was leaving, while a 17-year-old boy said his friends who know envy him. Most of the children simply stared silently, while the youngest cried and called for their fathers.

Salah Ad-Din Brigades: No talk of truce as long as Israeli attacks continue
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – No truce talks will be tolerated as long as the Israeli assault on Gaza continues, said a statement from the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, the Salah Ad-Din Brigades. “Palestinian factions are not the weakest link in this battle,” the Saturday statement said. The Brigades denounced what they described as a clear conspiracy of Arab leaders and the ‘stony silence’ of the Arab League, which amounted to an attack against the Palestinians. The brigades praised the rallies in the Arab and Western countries, calling on activists around the world to put more pressure on their governments to end the Gaza bloodbath.

PFLP calls for all Palestinians to help lift Gazan spirit, encourage steadfastness
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The factional leadership in Gaza must unify and strengthen their administration so military wings can achieve real goals and cause major losses in any Israeli ground invasion, said Member of the politburo office of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) , Abu Ahmad Fuad. The comments came during a television interview Saturday, one day after the suggested date for a ground invasion of Gaza by Israeli troops. Abu Ahmad Fuad said the current violence has nothing to do with rooting out projectile launchers but is part of a long-planned attack that has the green light from the American administration. The real goal of the operation, he said, is to destroy all of the Palestinian resistance and Israel is moving forward with its plan with international and Arab complicity. These attacks seek to destroy the nucleus of the Palestinian resistance. . .

Israeli TV commentators urge Gaza ground war
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israeli TV commentators have become impatient with the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip. In the early days of the operation TV personalities encouraged Israelis to be brave and endure the ongoing Palestinian projectile launches. Now military experts and analysts are expressing anger and impatience at the continued flow of projectiles from Gaza. Several, hosted live from Ashdod and Ashkelon, urged the Israeli army to launch a ground operation. “Let’s attack them live on air and show them what a real Israeli strike is; lets teach them the meaning of Israeli power,” said one commentator. A resident of Ashdod told a radio station “Why do you ask us every day ‘how are you? ’ we are fine and ready to stay in the shelters for weeks and months! What is important is to go and attack Gaza because we will not accept to stay in these bunkers once an Israeli operation is finished.

Negev Beduin are ’left without sirens or protection against rockets from Gaza’
Judy Siegel, Jerusalem Post 1/4/2009
Many thousands of Beduin living in "unrecognized" villages in the Negev are not getting any early warning of rockets and missiles fired from Gaza and lack shelters, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel said on Thursday, in a letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Many residents have already witnessed "hits" near their homes, PHR-Israel said, and the Home Front Command "does not consider itself responsible" for them. Most live in flimsy homes that could easily be destroyed in the Hamas attacks, the organization continued. "They should be protected just like those in nearby Jewish settlements," the group said. The University of Haifa has established a special Web site for the hundreds of thousands of children in the South who are being kept home from school. The educational and entertainment site, developed by pedagogic experts and located at http://negev.

Vilna’i tours Sderot, orders check of shelters in South
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 1/4/2009
Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i toured Sderot on Saturday and ordered the IDF Home Front Command to visit every bomb shelter in the South to ensure that civilians are not left without food and medical treatment if needed. On Friday, Vilna’i asked the civil service commissioner to order municipal and local council workers to provide services for communities within range of the rockets. Defense officials said that it was possible that the rocket attacks on the South would escalate following the IDF’s invasion of the Gaza Strip. On Saturday rockets scored direct hits on homes in Netivot and Ashkelon, wounding several residents and causing extensive damage. Rockets also hit Yavne, Kiryat Malachi and Sderot. "We need to make sure that people are not left in bomb shelters without being provided for," a defense official said.

Israeli Supreme Court clears police obstruction of Tel Aviv anti-war march
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court will allow a massive peace demonstration to go forward in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening. According to organizers, the Court ruled on Friday morning that police most allow the march to go forward without interfering with its political message. Specifically, the court ruled against a police demand that protesters refrain from flying the Palestinian flag. There is no law forbidding the raising of Palestinian flags in Israel. During official meetings with Palestinian leaders the flag has been displayed at the Israeli Prime Minster’s Residence in West Jerusalem. Organizers are expecting thousands of Arab and Jewish Israelis to gather in Rabin Square. The coalition of Israeli peace groups, human rights organizations, political parties and labor unions is calling for an immediate ceasefire and the removal of Israel’s crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip.

MK Khenin: Gaza war won’t solve security problems
Vered Luvitch, YNetNews 1/4/2009
Thousands of leftists arrive at Rabin square to protest against IDF operation, chant ’Defense Minister Barak, how many children have you murdered today? ’ -Thousands of left-wing activists arrived at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv Saturday night to protest against theGaza war. The protesters were marching in the streets and carrying flags reading "Stop the fire" and "Children in Gaza and Sderot wish to live. " Knesset members Dov Khenin (Hadash) and Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) were among the political figures who attended the rally. "I came here to demonstrate along with thousands of citizens in Tel Aviv and all across the country, Jews and Arabs alike, who are calling to stop this war, which is a disaster. It hasn’t solved the security problems in the south, and nothing good will come out of it," Khenin told Ynet.

Hundreds protest Cast Lead in Tel Aviv
Talia Dekel, Jerusalem Post 1/3/2009
More than a thousand people demonstrated against the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday evening. In response, about 600 activists gathered in the same place to show support for the army and for residents of the South. Witnesses told The Jerusalem Post that many of those demonstrating against the operation wore keffiyehs and waved combined Israeli and Palestinian flags. People supporting the operation, who organized a counter-demonstration upon learning of the left-wing event, chanted "IDF, we are with you!" The group included members of the Im Tirzu student organization, which has a stated aim of "returning Zionism to the Israeli consciousness," as well as Likud activists. Im Tirzu spokesman Erez Tmidor told the Post that police were preventing participants in the counter-demonstration from marching from Rabin Square to the city’s Cinematheque.

Thousands rally in Tel Aviv for and against Israel’s Gaza op
Noa Kosharek and Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
Thousands of people demonstrated in Tel Aviv for and against Israel’s eight-day-old military campaign in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, with police forces struggling to separate the opposing camps. No clashes have been reported. "Barak, Barak, Defense Minister, how many children have you murdered today? "yelled out protesters while waving Palestinians flags. "Stop the bombing, stop the killing," others called out at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. On the other side of the square, the supporters of the Gaza raids called out "Let the IDF win and bring back Shalit," referring to Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit who was kidnapped by Gaza militants in 2006. "We came to condemn in the strongest possible way what is being done in Gaza," said Ramat Gan man Latif Sadri, who protested against the offensive.

UK comedian: Israel behaving like terrorist organization
Associated Press, YNetNews 1/3/2009
Protests in several European countries feature celebrities, civilians condemning Gaza op; ’Anne Frank turning in her grave,’ cries Amsterdam demonstrator - Demonstrators hurled shoes at the tall iron gates outside the British prime minister’s residence in London on Saturday and waved Palestinian flags in over a dozen European cities as tens of thousands protested Israel’s military operation in Gaza. In London, several thousand people, many carrying Palestinian flags, marched past Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Downing Street residence to a rally in Trafalgar Square. Outside Downing Street, hundreds of protesters stopped and threw shoes at the gates that block entry to the narrow road. Police estimated the crowd in London at 5,000 to 6,000, but organizers said the number was much higher.

Left afield
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
"At 10 minutes after 12, my mobile phone rang. It disturbed the tranquillity of a Sabbath afternoon. On the other end of the line was Ednan Za’in, my friend from Beit Hanun. He sounded agitated and terrified. Ednan held the phone up to his window, so I could hear the planes screaming through the sky above and the sound of the nearby explosions. The conversation was tense and short; he had to save his phone’s battery - there is no electricity in Beit Hanun. Ednan had to get back to his children, who were crying. He wanted to calm them down. "This is the opening of a short article by Tel Aviv University Professor Dan Jacobson, a member of Meretz’s leadership, as well as the leadership of the Peace Now movement. The article appeared in the e-newspaper "On-the-Left-Side" only a few hours after the Israel Air Force began bombing Gaza.

Ramon, Yishai abstain in cabinet vote on incursion
Roni Sofer Published, YNetNews 1/3/2009
Vice premier, Industry, Trade and Labor minister refrain from voting in favor of sending ground troops into Strip, after cabinet denies their motion for mission’s operational goals to include toppling Hamas regime - Vice Premier Haim Ramon and Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai were the only two cabinet members to abstain from voting in favor of a ground incursion in Gaza in Friday’s special cabinet meetings. The two reportedly refrained from casting a yea vote, after their demand to include toppling Hamas’ regime in the Strip in the operational goals of the incursion was denied. The eighth day of the Israeli offensive in Gaza saw shelling and artillery fire of terror hubs in the Strip, which culminated in infantry and artillery forces entering Gaza at nightfall, Saturday. " We are the ones who will be held responsible by the public, we have to. . .

Cabinet approves mass reserve call-up
Roni Sofer Published, YNetNews 1/3/2009
Tens of thousands of IDF reservists to be called up as ground operation gets underway - Massive call-up approved:The National Security Cabinet has approved the emergency call-up of tens of thousands of reserve soldiers in order to prepare for the next phase of operation Cast Lead. Friday’s cabinet session featured a discussion of the next stages in the IDF operation. In line with the orders, the IDF has started calling up thousands of reservists using emergency call-up orders. The reserve call-up is aimed at enabling the IDF to expand its Gaza operation if necessary. Reserve troops have started arriving at their bases Saturday night and will continue to report for duty Sunday. In addition to approving the call-up, the cabinet also ordered the IDF to continue the operation and move on to the ground incursion phase.

IDF wary of Hizbullah attacks in North
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 1/4/2009
The army is on high alert along the northern border out of concern that Hizbullah will fire rockets - or use Palestinian proxies to do so - in response to the IDF’s escalation of its operations in Gaza. This would open a second front for Israel as it operates against Hamas in the South. On Saturday, Saeed Jalili, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, arrived in Syria to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip. According to media reports, Jalili said Iran and Hizbullah had reached an agreement under which the Lebanese group would launch rockets into Israel if the IDF began a ground operation in Gaza. Two weeks ago, the Lebanese army discovered eight Katyushas ready to fire north of the southern Lebanese town of Nakoura. Defense officials said at the time that it was likely that Palestinian groups - which were behind two rocket attacks. . .

Lebanese sources: Hezbollah won’t open new front
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
Ahead of Israel’s ground offensive into Gaza, leading Lebanese political commentators said Hezbollah would not open a military front with Israel even if it invades Gaza. The commentators further explained that Hezbollah was not interested in a destructive round of violence months before the Lebanese election. Hezbollah expert Amal Saad-Ghorayeb told AFP over the weekend that she believes Hezbollah is trying not to upset the opposition. "On the domestic level, Hezbollah does not want to antagonize its domestic foes. They don’t want to ruin the dialogue that allows them to keep the issue of their weapons indefinitely unsolved; it is a way of postponing the issue," she said. "Hezbollah is not in a position that allows it to carry the burden of a second war," Paul Salem of the Carnegie Middle East Center told the agency.

Hezbollah urges Hamas to ’kill as many Israeli soldiers as they can’ during Gaza op
DPA, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
The Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah called late Saturday on Hamas to "defeat Israel and kill as many Israeli soldiers as they can. ""Hamas will defeat Israel in the ground attack," Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah told his followers in Beirut’s southern suburbs during the Shiite religious ceremony of Ashoura. Nasrallah urged Hamas to inflict heavy losses on the Israeli soldiers who launched a ground operation in the Gaza Strip after eight days of attacks by air and sea on the region. "It is by inflicting the biggest possible losses on the Israeli enemy during the ground confrontation that (Hamas) will win the battle," Nasrallah told an Ashoura gathering. "It is when they kill soldiers and destroy tanks that the course of the battle will be determined.

Hezbollah: Israel should expect major losses in Gaza invasion
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Beirut – Ma’an/Agencies – Hezbollah’s spiritual leader warned Israel over its ongoing ground invasion of the Gaza Strip late on Saturday night. According to Hasan Nasrallah on Hezbollah’s official satellite television station, Al-Manar, Israel should expect “big losses” in their incursion into Gaza. “We will be witnessing new victories of blood over the sword” in Gaza, Nasrallah told a crowd of tens of thousands on in south Beirut on Saturday night. “Israel’s incursion into Gaza is aimed at dividing Gaza and imposing a new status quo,” the Hezbollah leader insisted. [end]

Poll: 60 percent Gazans say Hamas wrong to end ceasefire
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Most Palestinians in the war-torn Gaza Strip think Hamas should have never ended the ceasefire with Israel, according to a recent survey. [USAID-funded] Near East Consulting surveyed Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip in late December, where results found that a full 60 percent of Palestinians there believe Hamas made a mistake by not seeking to renew the ceasefire with Israel. Anti-Hamas sentiment was predictably high among Fatah supporters, 77 percent of whom rejected the Hamas strategy, although a similar number of Hamas supporters believe the decision was right (76 percent). Just a slim majority of Palestinians in Gaza support rocket fire against Israeli targets, with about 54 percent in favor of the continuing bombardment. A nearly identical percentage of Israelis support the ongoing airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, incidentally. -- See also: USAID

Bishop refuses to seek personal safety while Gaza attacked
Ma’an News Agency 1/3/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Bishop Alexious of Gaza has refused to leave the besieged and bloody strip despite pressure from many in the church to seek safety, said Archbishop Theodosios of Jerusalem. Theodosios extended his thanks to Alexious, who he described as showing great steadfastness during the assault on Gazan. Alexious has been under great pressure from all sides to leave Gaza, explained Theodosios. He has refused categorically to travel away from the Strip and from his congregations. “I will stay with my people under these harsh circumstances,” Alexious told a Greek television station. “My religious and my human duty is what command me to stay with my congregation and all the Gazans who are being attacked. ”“I will stay in Gaza even if I am killed,” he said. Theodosios called Alexious a supreme example of a committed clergyman.

Birthright Jewish project admits: We are broke
Ranit Nahum-Halevy, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
"We are broke. Every dollar we received, we spent in order to connect another Jew with his roots. Our budget was on an enormous upward trend, but it will be smaller next year, partly because of the huge campaign we led in honor of the state’s 60th anniversary," said Gideon Mark, the CEO of Birthright, at a conference held in Jerusalem’s International Convention Center last Thursday. Birthright, known as Taglit in Hebrew, provides educational trips to Israel for young Jewish adults aged 18-26. "In terms of funding, from today on it is a question mark," said Mark. "Birthright is a success story of the Jewish nation, but to our regret we have not succeeded in guaranteeing the funding for even another two years. We have to struggle every year," he said. Mark expects the contributions of 2009 to drop 38% compared with 2008.

Project brought in $1.5b for Israeli economy
Ranit Nahum-Halevy and Irit Rosenblum, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
The Taglit-Birthright project has contributed NIS 1. 5 billion, or $390 million, to the Israeli economy over its nine years, says the organization. Birthright CEO Gideon Mark says the project has brought 200,000 visitors to Israel, and that each one brought about $2,000 to the Israeli economy, including a total of $35 million for food services, $15. 5 million for tourist sites, $56 million for gifts and souvenirs, and $14 million for tour buses. About 80% of the project’s cost is reinvested in the economy, said Mark. Birthright is now the most stable tourism organization in the country, he said, and it comes out the most in time of crisis. "During the intifada we succeeded in bringing thousands of people, and also now, when we see the first groups canceling, our planes are still coming. . . " -- See also: Funds crisis threatens winter birthright

Arab reconciliation / Egypt-Syria rift
Zvi Bar'el, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
The intensification of the military operation in Gaza has not yet led to a similar increase in the Arab states’ diplomatic efforts. A lasting diplomatic solution to the Gaza situation demands more than an agreement between Hamas and Israel - it demands pan-Arab reconciliation. Turkish Prime Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s shuttle diplomacy took him to Saudi Arabia yesterday, and it seems he is now coming to understand the tremendous weight of the mission he has taken upon himself. The opening of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza is a vital condition for a cease-fire, but Cairo fears letting Hamas control the crossing will bring it Arab and international recognition, while Cairo will be left responsible for the Strip. For its part, Syria is striving to obtain Hamas recognition that would grant it and Iran positions of influence in any future diplomatic process.

Challenges to meet
Dina Ezzat, Al-Ahram Weekly 1/1/2009
Is Egyptian diplomacy living up to old and new regional challenges? At times, but not always. ’We have a crisis of epic proportions in the world economy, one that further binds us together, pushing us to consult, coordinate and move in unison to fend off a panic that could sink us all. ’ -- President Hosni Mubarak during the 10th anniversay of the Future Generation FoundationThe year that started with a massive inundation of devastated Palestinian citizens breaking through the Rafah Crossing from a suffocated Gaza Strip is ending with an equally terrible scene as Israel brutally slaughters hundreds of innocent Gazan civilians while the Egyptian government has announced that it will open its border with Gaza only to let pass the gravely wounded and nobody else. Thousands of Arab citizens across the Arab world are demonstrating, calling for Rafah to open.

US troops shoot Iraqi TV producer
Middle East Online 1/3/2009
BAGHDAD - US troops shot and critically wounded a newly-wed Iraqi woman working for a television news station after she failed to heed warnings from American soldiers in Baghdad, the US military and her station said on Saturday. A US military statement said that a combined team of Iraqi police and US soldiers had observed the woman, who had had failed to listen to warnings, behaving "erratically" before US soldiers shot her. "Concerned by the danger she might present to the security forces and civilians, given her repeated failure to respond to warnings, multi-national division Baghdad soldiers fired two rounds, wounding the woman. " Mohsen al-Darraji, a spokesman for Beladi TV, said that 25-year-old Hadeel Emad, a producer with Beladi, had failed to heed warning shots because she had impaired hearing. "The American troops did shoot in the air but she did not hear due to her hearing condition," Darraji said.

Suicide bomber kills 23 in Iraq
Jim Heintz, Associated Press Writer, The Independent 1/3/2009
An explosives-strapped man slipped into a luncheon gathering at a tribal leader’s home and blew himself up yesterday, killing at least 23 people and wounding dozens. The attack in Youssifiyah, in the area once known as the Triangle of Death because of its extreme violence, came a day after the United States relinquished the lead on security to Iraqi forces. The bloodshed highlighted the challenge that Iraqi police and soldiers face in trying to bringing order to a country gripped by religious, ethnic and political enmity. Police officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give information to news media placed the casualty tool at 30 dead and 110 wounded. But Iraqi Army Col. Aman Mansour Ibrahim, who was on the scene, said 24 were killed and 38 wounded. The U. S. military said Iraqis were reporting 23 dead and 32 wounded.

Australia rejects US request on Guantanamo
Middle East Online 1/3/2009
SYDNEY - Australia Saturday formally rejected a US request to help resettle former inmates of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. "The request received in December 2008 has been denied," acting prime minister Julia Gillard told reporters, citing national security concerns. The Australian government had advised President George W Bush’s administration that it would not assist in resettling some 60 "war on terror" detainees, she said. "Assessing those requests from a case by case basis, they had not met our stringent national security and immigration criteria and have been rejected," Gillard said. It was the second time Australia has denied such a request from Washington, after rebuffing an initial approach in early 2008. US president-elect Barack Obama has vowed once in office to close the Camp Delta facility, which currently houses 250 inmates held without charge or trial.


Articles


Life in Gaza: ’Hungry, freezing, and terrifying’
Mohammed Dawwas, The Independent 1/4/2009
      A Palestinian journalist’s diary highlights the devastation brought to his family, his city and the lives of many thousands trapped by Israeli bombing ahead of yesterday’s ground assault
     When the bombing of Gaza started last Saturday, the Palestinian journalist Mohammed Dawwas, looking from his seventh-floor window, saw his nine-year-old son, Ibrahim, rushing home from school near the police academy that was destroyed in the very first air raid. This is his diary for a week that was to end in invasion.
     Sunday
     Ibrahim is too frightened to go out with his brothers to play. He had been doing an exam when the bombing started yesterday and I was stuck in the lift because of yet another power cut. He arrived back, shaking and crying. When I went to get some food he said, "please baba, don’t go out." We had a call from the doorman in the building at around 7.45pm telling us we should get out because the Red Cross had given a warning that the Al Kinz mosque next to our building in Omar Mukhtar Street was likely to be destroyed. There were about 100 people down in the yard. You could hear continual explosions some way away. My brother-in-law Mahdi came in his car and said let’s go, so we drove off to stay at my father-in-law’s house – my wife and the eight kids staying in one room and me in the TV room. We drove in convoy, going down two one-way streets the wrong way to avoid going near the Palestinian Legislative Council building [which was destroyed three nights later]. It was completely dark except for our headlights. It was frightening.

If it was your home, what hope ’restraint’?

John McCarthy, The Independent 1/4/2009
      Israel’s invasion of Gaza comes hard on the heels of its massive air campaign which, it says, is a justified retaliation for the Hamas rocket attacks against southern Israel. Every rocket or mortar fired from Gaza into Israel is reported to the international media and, at the time of writing, more than 400 had been counted during the week. Details of the Israeli attacks are harder to find, but the week’s report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) states that the Israeli Air Force also dropped 400 bombs, not over seven days, but in just the first few minutes of its opening assault on Gaza. These and hundreds more bombs have killed over 400 Palestinians. The Hamas missiles have caused just four deaths.
     The Israeli people expect their government to punish attacks on Israel, and with a general election taking place in just over a month, politicians are keen to show their readiness to do anything to protect Israeli civilians. Ehud Barak, defence minister in the coalition government, has seen his poll ratings – and those of the Labour Party he leads – rise as a result of the campaign against Hamas which he has called "a war to the bitter end".
     Yet, after a week of air strikes, Hamas continues firing rockets and firing them deeper into Israel. And so it appears inevitable that the military campaign will grind on, causing more and more civilian casualties until international pressure for a truce will eventually become loud enough to promote a ceasefire.

Living on Borrowed Time in a Stolen Land

Gilad Atzmon - London, Palestine Chronicle 1/3/2009
      Communicating with Israelis may leave one bewildered. Even now when the Israeli Air Force is practicing murder in broad daylight of hundreds of civilians, elderly persons, women and children, the Israeli people manage to convince themselves that they are the real victims in this violent saga.
     Those who are familiar intimately with Israeli people realise that they are completely uninformed about the roots of the conflict that dominates their lives. Rather often Israelis manage to come up with some bizarre arguments that may make a lot of sense within the Israeli discourse, yet make no sense whatsoever outside of the Jewish street. Such an argument goes as follows: ’those Palestinians, why do they insist upon living on our land (Israel), why can’t they just settle in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon or any other Arab country?’ Another pearl of wisdom sounds like this: ’what is wrong with these Palestinians? We gave them water, electricity, education and all they do is try to throw us to the sea’.
     Astonishingly enough, the Israelis even within the so-called ‘left’ and even the educated ‘left’ fail to understand who the Palestinians are, where they come from and what they stand for. They fail to grasp that for the Palestinians, Palestine is home. Miraculously, the Israelis manage to fail to grasp that Israel had been erected at the expense of the Palestinian people, on Palestinian land, on Palestinian villages, towns, fields and orchards. The Israelis do not realise that Palestinians in Gaza and in refugee camps in the region are actually dispossessed people from Ber Shive, Yafo, Tel Kabir, Shekh Munis, Lod, Haifa, Jerusalem and many more towns and villages....

Palestinians Are Bad Propagandists

Neil Sutherland – Cairo, Palestine Chronicle 1/3/2009
      With a monopoly of the air, and unlimited access to the latest US military hardware, Israel will always dominate violent means of ’resolving’ the Mid-East conflict.
     So why do Palestinians continue to turn to this futile means of reacting to Israeli actions? Continue, even after it adds more to the humiliating concessions that pile up by the day? It is because the Arab-speaking and other Muslim countries are even more out-played by Zionists in the war of words.
     Take today’s (Saturday January 3) case as an example. Larry King on CNN first interviewed an Israeli spokesman, with a fluent English accent, all polished in appearance, and repeating the same ’message’ that Western audiences are used to hearing. That is, Israel is a peace-loving, un-aggressive Western democracy that is only defending itself from filthy, ignorant, uncivilized, desert-dwelling, camel-riding, nomadic religious fanatics. For one thing, this looks a lot like re-enacting how Europeans colonized America, Australia and South Africa - they can relate to this image.

In Gaza, targeting a nation

Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 1/2/2009
      At al-Shifa hospital, Gaza’s largest, an unidentified injured man is laying at the hospital’s intensive care unit. He was hit by shrapnel from an Israeli missile that struck a target at the Samer crossroad in the Omar al-Mukhtar street in Gaza City at noon yesterday.
     "This wounded patient has sustained critical injuries and his condition is unstable, but we don’t yet know his identity, he is still unknown," Dr. Omar Manasra, the on-duty doctor of the intensive care unit (ICU) said.
     Manasra added, "Since the Israeli strikes began on Saturday, we have received at least 30 unidentified wounded at the ICU; most of them were later identified, but this took some time. We just labeled them with figures like, unknown number 1, number 2, etc."
     Manasra explained the challenges faced by the ICU with the mounting number of wounded: "We suffer a severe lack of medicines, equipment and beds at our unit. In the first day of the air strikes alone, we received almost 50 cases, and that has overloaded our capacity."

Gaza: Propaganda, Perception, and Reality

William A. Cook, Palestine Chronicle 1/2/2009
      ’How dreadful knowledge of the truth can be.’ -- (Oedipus Rex, Scene I)
     As the Israeli military launched an "all out war" with Hamas in the Gaza strip, as casualties mounted to 400 dead and another 1450 wounded, as tanks and troops massed in the area just outside the wall that imprisons the people of Gaza, as preparations for a ground assault into the "closed military zone" around the Gaza strip moved forward, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Saturday the 27th "’ instructed the Foreign Ministry to take emergency measures to adapt Israel’s international public relations to the ongoing escalation in the Gaza Strip." (Haaretz, 12/28/08). "An aggressive and diplomatic international public relations campaign" needed to be launched simultaneously with the estimated "60 raids" that now pummel Gaza each day, raids that, in human terms, have taken the lives of five children, all girls, of the Ba’losha family killed in Bait Lahia City north of Gaza and three children from the Al Absi family in Rafah refugee camp as Israeli rockets collapsed their roof. (freepalestine.ps, Sameh, Habeeb).
     I provide names and locations of these families to give reality to the statistics that numb the mind; multiply the suffering of these families as 400 lie dead from this “turkey shoot” against fenced in civilians launched by this compassionate Olmert administration that closes out its criminal tenure in office awaiting the election of yet another militaristic administration.

Israel is Not a Victim

Ghassan Tarazi, Palestine Chronicle 1/2/2009
      ’Israel is not a victim economically or militarily.’
     Our popular media in the United States has been sold the myth that Israel is the victim in this conflict and is only defending itself against its hostile neighbors. The best scholars of Middle East history have unequivocally refuted this myth. In addition, the current events in Israel and Palestine also dispel and shatter this insidious myth. However, this myth (and others) has been used to perpetuate the hostilities and fuel the violence with Palestinians. Understanding the intricate and subtle aspects of the shallow roots of this myth and seeing how it is used to influence public opinion will help the American public to be more critical consumers of propaganda.
     It must be emphasized that criticizing Israel’s policies and practices is not the same as criticizing Judaism. Making this connection is tantamount to saying that criticizing the policies of the United States government is like criticizing Christianity. We understand how ridiculous that sounds. Unfortunately, some well-meaning but misinformed people use this emotionally packed and ignorant retort to silence any criticism of Israel’s behavior, no matter how egregious those behaviors might be. People who work for justice and desire peace between Israel and Palestine must withstand those ill-intended efforts to obfuscate the reality of the situation. The myth must be held under the light of truth.

Obama’s deadly silence

Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada 1/2/2009
      "I would like to ask President-elect Obama to say something please about the humanitarian crisis that is being experienced right now by the people of Gaza." Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney made her plea after disembarking from the badly damaged SS Dignity that had limped to the Lebanese port of Tyre while taking on water.
     The small boat, carrying McKinney, the Green Party’s recent presidential candidate, other volunteers, and several tons of donated medical supplies, had been trying to reach the coast of Gaza when it was rammed by an Israeli gunboat in international waters.
     But as more than 2,400 Palestinians have been killed or injured -- the majority civilians -- since Israel began its savage bombardment of Gaza on 27 December, Obama has maintained his silence. "There is only one president at a time," his spokesmen tell the media. This convenient excuse has not applied, say, to Obama’s detailed interventions on the economy, or his condemnation of the "coordinated attacks on innocent civilians" in Mumbai in November.

Action Alert: Twenty-Six Things to Help Gaza

Haitham Sabbah, Palestine Think Tank 1/2/2009
      So far hundreds of civilians have been killed in Gaza. Five sisters in one family, four other children in another home, two children on a cart drawn by a donkey. Universities, colleges, police stations, roads, apartment buildings were all targeted. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian areas issued a statement that "The Israeli air-strikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war."
     Twenty-six things to do to bring peace with justice:
     (1) First get the facts and then disseminate them. Here are some basic background information...
     (2) Contact local media. Write letters to editors (usually 100-150 words) and longer op-eds (usually 600-800 words) for local newspapers. But also write to news departments in both print, audio, and visual media about their coverage. In the US...

And there lie the bodies

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 1/4/2009
      The legend, lest it be a true story, tells of how the late mathematician, Professor Haim Hanani, asked his students at the Technion to draw up a plan for constructing a pipe to transport blood from Haifa to Eilat. The obedient students did as they were told. Using logarithmic rulers, they sketched the design for a sophisticated pipeline. They meticulously planned its route, taking into account the landscape’s topography, the possibility of corrosion, the pipe’s diameter and the flow calibration. When they presented their final product, the professor rendered his judgment: You failed. None of you asked why we need such a pipe, whose blood will fill it, and why it is flowing in the first place.
     Regardless of whether this story is legend or true, Israel is now failing its own blood pipeline test. As Israel has been preoccupied with Gaza throughout the entire week, nobody has asked whose blood is being spilled and why. Everything is permitted, legitimate and just. The moral voice of restraint, if it ever existed, has been left behind. Even if Israel wiped Gaza off the face of the earth, killing tens of thousands in the process, as a Chechnyan laborer working in Sderot proposed to me, one can assume that there would be no protest.

Dominant Media Vilify Hamas

Stephen Lendman, Palestine Chronicle 1/2/2009
      ’Israeli security comes first, and Gaza is the test case.’
     The blame game - no one plays it better than the dominant media, and they’re at it again over Gaza. Expect no comments below in their spaces, yet honest journalism would headline them.
     After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt addressed Congress - with an appropriating updating for Gaza:
     December 27 "will live in infamy." The people of Gaza were "suddenly and deliberately attacked by....air forces of the" State of Israel. The "attack was deliberately planned many (months) ago. During the intervening time (Israel) deliberately sought to deceive (Palestinians) by false statements and expressions of hope for" the peace process.
     "The (weekend and continued) attack(s) caused severe damage to" property throughout Gaza. In addition, "many (Palestinian) lives have been lost. The facts (on the ground) speak for themselves....this "unprovoked and dastardly attack" must not go unanswered.

Hamas in the eyes of an expert

Interview with Khaled Hroub, Al Jazeera 1/4/2009
      Khaled Hroub, author of several books on Hamas, including Hamas: A Beginner’s Guide, talks to Al Jazeera about the organisation’s social and political strengths and explains why he believes Hamas is looking forward to an Israeli ground incursion into the Gaza Strip.
     Al Jazeera: Two senior Hamas leaders were recently killed in Israeli air strikes. How will this impact the organisation’s leadership.
     Khaled Hroub: Hamas’ leaders are very used to hiding and escaping Israeli attacks. I can’t see this affecting Hamas much. Israel succeeded in assassinating very senior Hamas leaders including Sheikh [Ahmed] Yasin himself, the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas, then followed by Abdel Aziz Al-Rantissi who was the main figure in the Gaza Strip.
     And yet Hamas continued to rise and succeeded in winning the elections. So I can’t see Hamas being weakened by killing one or two or three or even more leaders in the Gaza Strip...

Top 5 Lies about Israel’s Assault on Gaza

Jeremy R. Hammond, Palestine Chronicle 1/3/2009
      ’No place is safe within the Gaza Strip.’ (Zoriah - zoriah.net) Lie #1: Israel is only targeting legitimate military sites and is seeking to protect innocent lives. Israel never targets civilians.
     The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated pieces of property in the world. The presence of militants within a civilian population does not, under international law, deprive that population of their protected status, and hence any assault upon that population under the guise of targeting militants is, in fact, a war crime.
     Moreover, the people Israel claims are legitimate targets are members of Hamas, which Israel says is a terrorist organization. Hamas has been responsible for firing rockets into Israel. These rockets are extremely inaccurate and thus, even if Hamas intended to hit military targets within Israel, are indiscriminate by nature. When rockets from Gaza kill Israeli civilians, it is a war crime.
     Hamas has a military wing. However, it is not entirely a military organization, but a political one. Members of Hamas are the democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people. Dozens of these elected leaders have been kidnapped and held in Israeli prisons without charge. Others have been targeted for assassination, such as Nizar Rayan, a top Hamas official. To kill Rayan, Israel targeted a residential apartment building. The strike not only killed Rayan but two of his wives and four of his children, along with six others. There is no justification for such an attack under international law. This was a war crime.

On collaboration and resistance of the oppressed

Ziyaad Lunat, Electronic Intifada 1/3/2009
      In 1835, Thomas Macaulay, a British colonial officer in India, decreed that "We must do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, a class of persons Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, words and intellect." European colonial powers often used political outsourcing through a network of native collaborators as a convenient way to subjugate the masses. These collaborators would tame the colonized on behalf of their masters who became sheltered in this way from popular uprisings. However, this process was not always predictable. In 1857, the sepoys, Indian soldiers allied to British rule, revolted against their colonial masters. Britain’s response was fierce. Over 100,000 sepoys and hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed in cold blood. This became known as India’s first struggle for independence; which was finally realized in 1947.
     A year later, European settler colonialists established the state of Israel through a pre-mediated campaign of ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population. Despite divisions amongst Arab governments and self-interested manipulation of the Palestinian plight, the response was that of opposition and generally in line with the feelings of the Arab masses. As a result, western governments have sought for decades to bully those governments into submission by forcing them to accept the premise of an inherently racist Jewish state in their midst.

This is Not About Rockets

Stuart Littlewood - London, Palestine Chronicle 1/1/2009
      What if Hamas dumped all their rockets in the sea tomorrow? Would Gazans enjoy the same freedoms as other nations? Would they be able to open their sea port to foreign ships and rebuild and operate their airport? Would they be able to import and export and carry on trade and develop their economy and prosper like other countries?
     Would they be allowed to exploit and develop their offshore gas field? Would their fishermen be allowed to fish in unpolluted waters? Would their young people be able to come and go and take up places at foreign universities?
     Would Israel clear out of Gazan airspace permanently? Would the Israeli navy cease its piracy and stay out of Palestinian territorial waters? Would you and I be able to visit Gaza direct?
     Fat chance. None of this would suit Israel. So Gazans would be no better off. Their tormented half-existence would continue.
     There are no rockets coming out of the West Bank. Yet the illegal Israeli occupation there continues and so does the ethnic cleansing, the land theft, the illegal settlements, the colonization, the demolition of Palestinian homes, the throttling of the economy, the abduction and ’administrative detention’ of civilians and the massive interference with freedom of movement. Nothing has changed for West Bank Palestinians who DO NOT fire rockets. There is no sign of an end to their misery.

Molten Lead: Israel’s New Election War

Uri Avnery – Israel, Palestine Chronicle 1/1/2009
      The war on Gaza would be more accurate to call it ’the Election War’.
     Just after midnight, Aljazeera’s Arabic channel was reporting on events in Gaza. Suddenly the camera was pointing upwards towards the dark sky. The screen was pitch black. Nothing could be seen, but there was a sound to be heard: the noise of airplanes, a frightening, a terrifying droning.
     It was impossible not to think about the tens of thousands of Gazan children who were hearing that sound at that moment, cringing with fright, paralyzed by fear, waiting for the bombs to fall.
     "Israel must defend itself against the rockets that are terrorizing our Southern towns," the Israeli spokesmen explained. "Palestinians must respond to the killing of their fighters inside the Gaza Strip," the Hamas spokesmen declared.
     As a matter of fact, the cease-fire did not collapse, because there was no real cease-fire to start with. The main requirement for any cease-fire in the Gaza Strip must be the opening of the border crossings. There can be no life in Gaza without a steady flow of supplies. But the crossings were not opened, except for a few hours now and again. The blockade on land, on sea and in the air against a million and a half human beings is an act of war, as much as any dropping of bombs or launching of rockets. It paralyzes life in the Gaza Strip: eliminating most sources of employment, pushing hundreds of thousands to the brink of starvation, stopping most hospitals from functioning, disrupting the supply of electricity and water.