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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 | VTJP 2009
6 January, 2008

Scores killed as Gaza UN school hit
Al Jazeera 1/7/2009
Israeli strikes have killed at least 43 people taking refuge inside a UN school in the Gaza Strip, medics say. The strike on Tuesday hit a school run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, in the northern town of Jabaliya. Medical sources at two Gaza hospitals said two tank shells exploded outside the school, where hundreds of Palestinians had sought refuge from the Israeli attacks. The toll quickly rose as rescuers struggled through the rubble. In addition to the dead, several dozen people were wounded, the officials said. Doctors said all the dead were either people sheltering in the school or residents of Jabalya refugee camp, in the north of the Gaza Strip. John Ging, director of operations in Gaza for Unrwa, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said. . .

The Times: Israel rains Gaza with internationally-banned white phosphorus
Palestinian Information Center 1/6/2009
LONDON, (PIC)- The British Times newspaper said that Israel rained Gaza with internationally-banned white phosphorus which may cause terrible burns to civilians. In its issue published on Monday, the Times pointed out that the American and British occupation forces in Iraq used this weapon against civilians, but it said it is not illegal if used as a "smokescreen". The newspaper added that the use of this weapon in Gaza, one of the world’s mostly densely populated areas, is likely to ignite yet more controversy over Israel’s offensive, in which more than 550 Palestinians were killed 2,300 others were wounded. The Geneva Convention stipulates that white phosphorus should not be used as a weapon of war in civilian areas. Palestinian eyewitnesses reported Monday evening that recent artillery shells used by the IOF troops in the bombardment of southeast of Gaza city and north. . . -- See also: Israel rains fire on Gaza with phosphorus shells

UN: Humanitarian crisis worsening
Al Jazeera 1/6/2009
The UN has said that there is an "a worsening and an increasingly alarming" humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. John Holmes, the UN humanitarian chief, told reporters on Monday that officials believed as many as 25 per cent of the 548 people killed in the fighting were civilians and that Gaza’s health system, overwhelmed by the more than 2,500 injured, was "increasingly precarious". "This is, in our view, a humanitarian crisis," Holmes said. "It’s very hard for me to see any other way you could describe it, given the conditions in which the population are living. "Holmes added that "cluster munitions are being used", and that it was "a fair presumption" that most of the civilians killed were women and children.

Bloody day in Gaza: 82 killed in 24 hours
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The Israeli military escalated its operations in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, killing at least 82 Palestinians in less than 24 hours. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 640 have been killed over eleven days of Israeli attacks on Gaza. More than 2,850 have been killed. As many as 42 were killed when Israeli tank shells hit the UN-operated Al-Fakhoura school in Jabaliya Refugee Camp, where Palestinians took shelter after fleeing their homes. Separately, Palestinian cameraman Bsil Faraj, who works for an Algerian television network, succumbed to wounds he sustaineddays ago. Faraj died in Egyptian hospital where he was taken for treatment. Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli forces targeted another UN school in Ash-Shati refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip killing three people from one family.

Rice gives support to Mubarak proposal on Gaza
Reuters, YNetNews 1/7/2009
US secretary of state tells UN Security Council her country insists on ’durable and sustainable’ ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, which would not result in return to situation on the ground before Israel launched its offensive in response to Hamas firing rockets deep into southern towns -US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday gave US backing to a proposal by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. "We need urgently to conclude a ceasefire that can endure and that can bring real security," Rice told the UN Security Council. "In this regard we are pleased by and wish to commend the statement of the president of Egypt and to follow up on that initiative," she added. But Rice made clear the United States insisted on a ceasefire that was "durable and sustainable" and would not result in a return to the situation on the ground before Israel launched its air and ground offensive 11 days ago in response to Hamas firing rockets deep into the Jewish state

Israel may file complaint over Hamas’ use of schools
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/6/2009
Olmert, Barak and Livni meet to discuss IDF strike near UNWRA school in Gaza, which left dozens of Palestinian civilians killed - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak met Tuesday evening to discuss an earlier incident in which dozens of Palestinians were killed following an Israel Defense Forces strike near a school belonging to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) at the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza. The limited cabinet is examining the possibility of filing a complaint with the United Nations over the use of UNWRA schools made by Hamas gunmen in the Gaza Strip. An inquiry into the incident revealed that the IDF soldiers acted according to procedures and fired back at gunmen firing mortar shells from the school.

UN: Israel had school’s GPS coordinates before deadly strikes
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Three members of the same Palestinian family were killed whilst taking shelter in a United Nations school designated as a temporary refuge from the violence on Monday night, the UN told Ma’an. But well before the current fighting, the UN says it had given Israeli authorities the GPS coordinates of all its installations in Gaza, including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency school, which was struck by an Israeli missile on Monday. "These tragic incidents need to be investigated, and if international humanitarian law has been contravened, those responsible must held accountable," said UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory Maxwell Gaylard in a statement. "There are no safe places to flee. We call on all parties to uphold international humanitarian law and protect civilians," he added.

MIDEAST: Israel Attacks Schools, Ambulances
Mel Frykberg, Inter Press Service 1/7/2009
RAMALLAH, Jan 6(IPS) - At least 42 Palestinians sheltering in a UN school in the Jabaliya refugee camp near Gaza city were killed Tuesday afternoon after two Israeli tank shells exploded outside the school. Hundreds of terrified Palestinians, desperately trying to escape the bombing, had sought shelter there assuming that a clearly marked school would not be targeted. Palestinian sources reported that the school was one of 26 residential buildings hit Tuesday. Another UN facility, the Ash-Shouka School in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, was bombarded Monday night. The UN Relief and Welfare Agency (UNRWA) said that prior to the current fighting it had given the Israeli authorities the GPS co-ordinates of all its installations in Gaza, including the schools. The organisation has demanded an explanation from Israel, and called for an investigation.

MIDEAST: Civilians Flee Homes in Encircled Gaza
Mel Frykberg, Inter Press Service 1/7/2009
RAMALLAH, Jan 6(IPS) - Civilians are fleeing their homes as Israel continues to blanket-bomb a now encircled Gaza. So far 145 Palestinians have been killed in just the ground invasion that was launched late Saturday night. According to Palestinian sources, the total Palestinian death toll stands at 575 with more than 2,500 injured since the launch of Operation Cast Lead Dec. 27. UN humanitarian chief John Holmes says that at least 125 civilians have been killed. Gaza health officials put that number at more than 200. More than 20 Palestinians were reported killed Tuesday morning when Israeli warships off the coast of Gaza fired on Deir Al-Balah city and refugee camp in the centre of the Gaza strip. Abdallah Al-Agha, 30, from Khan Yunis south of Deir Al-Balah said the night was punctuated by heavy explosions and continual artillery fire.

Massacre of innocents as UN school is shelled
Donald Macintyre and Kim Sengupta in Jerusalem, The Independent 1/7/2009
Hundreds of Palestinians had fled their homes for the refuge of the al-Fakhoura school, hoping the blue and white flag of the UN flying over the impromptu shelter would protect them from the Israeli onslaught. The UN had even given the Israeli army the co-ordinates for the building to spare it from the shells and air strikes raining down on the Gaza strip. But yesterday afternoon tank shells exploded outside the school, sending shrapnel into the crowds, killing at least 40 and wounding another 55. It was the worst confirmed bloodshed of Israel’s attack on Gaza and sparked outrage and condemnation around the globe, with the US President-elect Barack Obama breaking his 11-day silence, the UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon calling the incident "totally unacceptable" and Gordon Brown describing the conflict as "the darkest moment yet for the Middle East".

Homeless and terrified, 15,000 seek refuge in UN schools
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 1/7/2009
More than 15,000 Gazans are sheltering in UN schools because they have been forced to flee their homes in the face of the Israeli air and ground offensive, or even ordered out by Israeli troops. The UN has opened 27 of its schools as shelters, most in the northern town of Jabaliya, where food, blankets and counselling are being provided. It is the UN that has stepped in to help because it is by far the largest humanitarian resource in Gaza, particularly the UN Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa), which supports Palestinian refugees across the Arab world. More than 1 million Gazans are refugees: either they or their families were forced from their homes or fled in the 1948 war that brought the creation of Israel. In Gaza, they rely on the UN, which provides them with regular food deliveries, now vital in the face. . .

26 Residential buildings and schools targeted in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – More than 26 residential buildings and schools were targeted by Israeli fire on Tuesday, causing more casualties amongst women and children, witnesses in Gaza said. Sources at Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City said five dead bodies arrived at the medical center in a civilian car after their homes were shelled. The sources asserted that several homes were bombarded in eastern Gaza City, and that ambulances could not access the area to evacuate victims because Israeli forces are shooting at ambulances. Separately, A 15-year-old boy was killed when an Israeli drone fired a missile at him while he was walking in the street in the center of Gaza City. An eyewitness called Ra’fat Al-Khudari said the boy was walking a bike when the drone targeted him killing him immediately. A home was also shelled near Al-Quds Open University in Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City, and another at Al-Bureij camp in the central Gaza Strip.

Medics: Israel must stop targeting medical services in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an –The Chair of the Palestinian Health Care Committees, Nihal Al-Akhras, called on the international community and human rights groups to pressure Israel to stop firing on medical facilities and workers in the Gaza Strip, a day after the Committees’ offices were destroyed. Al-Akhras said that Ad-Dura Hospital was bombarded, and that a building in the Ar-Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City the Health Care Committees was completely destroyed. Three mobile clinics provided by a Danish aid agency were also destroyed. He said that the world must place pressure Israel to comply with the Geneva conventions governing the conduct of war. According to DanChurchAid, which donated the mobile clinics, the vehicles were parked by the Union of Healthcare headquarters and all were clearly marked with red crosses and the marked "Mobile Clinic.

UN aid agency calls on Israel to allow journalists, fuel into Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the UN’s Palestine refugee agency, on Tuesday called on both sides to end the "unprecedented" situation in the Gaza Strip. UNRWA Director of Operations John Ging said Israelis and Palestinians, as well as European leaders, must call for an immediate ceasefire, describing the situation on the ground in Gaza as "insanity, unprecedented in history. " Speaking at a news conference at Gaza City’s Ash-Shifa Hospital, Ging appealed for an end to the hostilities, saying that "you shouldn’t sleep or eat before you stop this killing of innocent people in the Gaza Strip. " He also slammed Israel’s ban on foreign journalists in the war zone, saying, "I came to Ash-Shifa Hospital to report the truth of what is going on, since there is no international press in Gaza to report it.

Ging: One million Palestinians in Gaza without electricity
Palestinian Information Center 1/6/2009
GAZA (PIC)-- John Ging, the director of UNRWA operations in the Gaza Strip, has called on Israel, Palestinian factions and European leaders to reach an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. In a press conference in Shifa hospital in Gaza city on Tuesday, Ging described what is happening in the Gaza Strip as "madness" that never occurred before in human history. He told the world leaders that they should stop eating, drinking and even sleeping until they stop the killing of innocent people in the Strip. The UNRWA official hailed the efforts of medical teams in Shifa and other Gaza hospitals despite obstacles impeding their work, saying that they also suffer from acute shortage in medicine. He said that the Shifa hospital is about to collapse after most of its generators went out of order, other than the depletion of its basic medical supplies.

VIDEO - Israeli shelling kills dozens at UN school in Gaza
The Guardian 1/6/2009
More than 40 Palestinians are believed to have died when Israeli missiles exploded outside a UN school being used as a shelter from the ongoing Gaza offensive [end]

VIDEO - Aid worker in Gaza
The Guardian 1/6/2009
Hatem Al Shurrab describes what it is like to be an aid worker with the British based charity Islamic Relief Worldwide in Gaza [end]

Israel maintains ban on media entering Gaza
Middle East Online 1/6/2009
TEL AVIV - Israel on Tuesday maintained a ban on journalists entering the Gaza to cover its war on the Strip despite a Supreme Court ruling that foreign reporters should be let in. The Foreign Press Association (FPA) made a strong protest over the ban but the head of the Israeli government’s press office said foreign media were "spoiled" and Israel would not risk the lives of its soldiers to protect them. Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the government on Friday to allow foreign reporters into the Gaza Strip and eight names were chosen for the first group to go in. But no journalist has been allowed into Gaza where thousands of Israeli troops are fighting. More than 580 Palestinians, including nearly 100 children, have been killed since the Jewish state’s offensive began on December 27. International media cover the war through Palestinian reporters based in Gaza.

Media should be allowed to shed the light on Gaza
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 1/6/2009
Ramallah, 06-01-09: Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP, the Secretary General of thestrongly condemned this morning the Israelis refusal to allow foreign journalists to enter Gaza and report on the events. "This is a harsh violation of the Freedom of the Press", he said. Despite the Israeli official decision -publicly stated on the 1st of January this year- that foreign journalists will be allowed to Gaza, no one has been able to enter the besieged Strip. The Israeli decision is a result of a petition that was handed by the Foreign Press Association in Israel to the Israeli High Court, demanding Israel to put an end to the media blackout in Gaza, imposed since November. On the First of January, Israeli officials announced that they will allow "8 journalists at a time" into the Strip trough Erez crossing "when open".

IDF ban on reporters in Gaza Strip combat zones leading to limited coverage
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
The Israel Defense Forces’ refusal to allow reporters into the combat zones in the Gaza Strip is making it difficult for journalists, including television stations interested in broadcasting video from the field, to cover the fighting in Gaza. The IDF ban is forcing journalists to rely on reports from Israeli soldiers and the IDF spokesman. Even Palestinian reporters who live in the Strip are having trouble covering the fighting because it is difficult for them to leave their homes or the buildings from which they’re broadcasting. As a consequence, journalists are not really getting an overall picture of the fighting, and are forced to piece stories together based on statements from Palestinian residents and IDF soldiers. This can affect important details in reporting, such as the number of Palestinian civilians killed.

Media blackout continues; no foreign journalists allowed into Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - Despite a 1 January decision to allow foreign journalists into Gaza, not one has been able to enter the area. A petition was handed to the Israeli High Court by the Foreign Press Association in Israel, demanding that Israel cease their media blackout in Gaza, imposed since early November. Israeli officials announced on New Year’s Day that they would allow eight journalists at a time into the Gaza Strip through the northern Erez crossing, “When it is open. ”The crossing was scheduled to be open briefly when Israel was set to allow almost 250 Gazans holding foreign passports out of the area. The crossing was cancelled due to the security situation in the area, and access denied to the journalists wishing to enter the Strip. Israeli sources said officers at the crossing were too busy processing the Gazans leaving the area to work on allowing access to the foreign press.

Journalist for Iranian TV arrested, reportedly for spreading 'state secrets'
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Jerusalem – Ma’an –Iranian World TV journalist Khader Shahin was arrested in Jerusalem Tuesday, reportedly for infringing on new legal measures to restrict reporting out of Israel. Shahin is a Palestinian living in Jerusalem, working as a correspondent for the Iranian news service. He is now being investigated for spreading “state secrets. ”The Israeli military has reportedly stepped up monitoring the international, Arabic and Hebrew media since they launched the massive Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. [end]

Gazans holding foreign passports still in Gaza; departure cancelled for 'security reasons'
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an -Gazans with foreign passports given permission to leave Gaza on 4 January were told the Erez crossing would not be open because of “security conditions” that made passage unsafe. Between 200-250 Gazans who hold foreign passports put in requests with their diplomatic representatives in Gaza, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Tel Aviv to be evacuated from the area. The citizens were mostly from the Philippines, Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Malta, Norway, Romania and Spain. According to the Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv there are 36 Canadian passport holders in Gaza who have requested to leave the area. An additional 22 registered with the embassy have refused to leave the area. The Israeli army called the ICRC on Sunday to notify them that the crossing would not be opened and the foreign passport holders would not be allowed out of Gaza.

Israeli forces sieze 22 Palestinians in Hebron area
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized 22 Palestinians in the area of the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday. The Israeli military shut down all roads leading to the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, as well. In one of the arrests, a Palestinian woman was detained for allegedly carrying a knife in the city. Palestinian Authority security sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces detained 25-year-old Randa Shahatit from the town of Dura, south of Hebron. One of the Israeli soldiers spotted Shahatit, then fired shots into the air. She was searched and a knife was found on her person, the said. According to the same sources, Israeli troops detained another Palestinian near the Ibrahimi Mosque, 18-year-old Hazim Az-Zeir, for allegedly carrying a knife wrapped in aHamas flag. According to Amjad Najjar, director of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society in Hebron, Israeli. . .

Israeli troops invade Bethlehem-area villages and detain five
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli troops detained five Palestinians before sunrise near Bethlehem on Tuesday. The men were taken to an unknown destination. Palestinian security sources said Israeli vehicles troops overran the Um Rukba neighborhood of Al-Khader village south of Bethlehem and broke into several houses. Four young men were detained, and identified as 20-year-old Wael Khader Salah and his twin brother Na’el. Also taken were 17-year-old Rami Salah and 18-years-old Mahmoud Salah. From Ash-Shawawra village east of Bethlehem 31-year-old Khaled Muhammad Ibrahim was detained after his house was broken into. [end]

Israeli police arrested 300 Palestinian-Israelis since Gaza attacks began
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – More than 300 Palestinian youth have been arrested by Israeli police since the beginning of the offensive in the Gaza Strip. All of those arrested hold Jerusalem or Israeli ID cards. The youth have been placed for the most part in administrative detention, or put away on minor changes for short periods of time. The more than 240 of those detained have been given additional time in prison. Only 35 have been indicted and charged with disturbing the peace. According to Israeli sources, 100 of those who were arrested are minors. [end]

Largest Palestinian phone company warns of collapse in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The main telephone and internet company in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip says their system is on the verge of collapse following Israel’s assault on Gaza. According to PalTel Chief Executive Officer Dr Abdel Malek Jaber, without access to fuel the telephone system in Gaza will shut down "within 24 hours. " The telecommunications system in Gaza will go offline within a day as a significant portion of the company is working with generators to supply their electricity. Jaber added that with just generators, the electrical, phone and internet grid depends on fuel. However, the amount of fuel that Israel has allowed into the besieged coastal strip is just enough for two days. After that, the company "will stop operating," he said. Jaber pointed out that there are efforts to bring in some new machines and that attempts to bring supplies into Gaza are ongoing.

Four of six IDF soldiers killed in Gaza were victims of friendly fire
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
Four Israel Defense Forces soldiers, who were killed in two separate incidents in the Gaza Strip on Monday, appear to have been killed by friendly fire, according to initial military investigations. Three soldiers from the Golani Brigade - Cpl. Yusuf Muadi, 19; Staff Sgt. Nitai Stern, 21; and Maj. Dagan Vertman, 31 - were killed and 20 wounded in the Gaza City neighborhood of Sajaiyeh, in what the IDF said appeared quite likely to be a blast caused by two IDF tank shells during clashes with Hamas. It appears that the troops were taking shelter behind a building wall that collapsed as a result of the explosion. "There was apparently a mistake in identification, and one of the tanks fired on the building where several commanders were situated to plan the combat for the next day," brigade commander Col.

Massive IDF firepower protects soldiers
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
The strategy of the Israel Defense Forces is to utilize tremendous firepower in order to protect the ground forces during the fighting in built-up areas, a senior officer explained to journalists yesterday. Speaking to the media through a secure telephone, the officer stressed that "from our point of view, being careful means being aggressive. "The officer acknowledged that the ground offensive is causing a great deal of damage, not only to Hamas, but also against civilian infrastructure. "It will take many years in order to restore this area to what it was before," he said. "When we suspect that a Palestinian fighter is hiding in a house, we shoot it with a missile and then with two tank shells, and then a bulldozer hits the wall. It causes damage but it prevents the loss of life among soldiers. "The officer said that his forces were expected to complete the clearing of the area they were assigned by today.

Israeli tanks enter southern Gaza Strip
Middle East Online 1/6/2009
GAZA CITY - Israeli tanks firing cannons and machine guns and supported by helicopter gunships moved into the city of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip before dawn on Tuesday, witnesses said. The armoured force was met by return fire from Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups, they added. Asked about Khan Yunis, an Israeli spokesman said: "We don’t have any information on that. " The reported incursion came a day after Israeli troops and Hamas fighters fought pitched battles in Gaza City, and followed a tank and helicopter night offensive which saw three Israelis killed by "friendly" fire. If confirmed, the incursion into Khan Yunis’s eastern district of Abassan al-Kabira would be the first time Israeli forces have entered that Hamas stronghold since they invaded the Gaza Strip on Saturday night.

ANALYSIS / Using aggressive tactics in Gaza to save soldiers’ lives
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
The incident in which some 40 Palestinian civilians were killed when Israel Defense Forces mortar shells hit an UNRWA school in the Jabalya refugee camp Tuesday surprised no one who has been following events in Gaza in recent days. Senior officers admit that the IDF has been using enormous firepower. "For us, being cautious means being aggressive," explained one. "From the minute we entered, we’ve acted like we’re at war. That creates enormous damage on the ground. . . I just hope those who have fled the area of Gaza City in which we are operating will describe the shock. Maybe someone there will sober up before it continues. " What the officer did not say explicitly was that this is deliberate policy. Following the trauma of the war in Lebanon in 2006, the army realized that heavy IDF casualties would erode public (and especially. . .

IDF: Hamas built underground city
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/7/2009
In light of diplomatic pressure, army officials know forces must inflict heavy blow on Hamas in days left till completion of Gaza operation. Forces operating in Strip become familiar with enemy’s modes of operation, say Hamas formed underground city of tunnels, weapons - The diplomatic clock is ticking, but the IDF moves forward: As Operation Cast Lead enters its 12th day, the preparations for the next stage – expanding and deepening the operation – are being completed. The defense establishment still seeks to inflict a heavy blow on Hamas and return the soldiers to Israel only after creating an impression that the Palestinian organization’s military wing has learned its lesson. According to different estimates in the IDF, the current move may reach its final stages within several days, after which the ball will move to the diplomatic court.

IDF uncovers kidnapping tunnel
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/6/2009
Officer leading soldiers into Gaza describes difficult groundwork involved in military operation, says force has so far discovered tunnels intended for abducting troops, weapons, anti-aircraft missiles, and booby-trapped buildings in civilian centers -A paratrooper force operating near the northern Gaza Strip neighborhood of al-Atatra identified a tunnel intended for the kidnapping of soldiers Tuesday. The tunnel’s opening was hidden by a doll. The force also uncovered a number of weapons caches. In addition, the Air Force (IAF) struck 40 targets Tuesday morning, among these a vehicle carrying an anti-aircraft missile launcher. A senior IDF officer spoke to Ynet from the depth of the Strip, through an encoded phone. "We are finding a lot of tunnels, weapons, anti-aircraft missiles, grenades, explosive devices, and weapons prepared for future attacks, such as motorbikes intended for kidnapping," he said.

Israeli offensive continues, over 577 killed and 2,700 wounded
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/6/2009
A Palestinian woman and her four children were killed in a recent Israeli air strike in Gaza, and more Palestinian civilians are being killed by the hour as the Israeli Army continues its air strikes and ground offensive against the residents of Gaza. At least 577 Palestinians, including women and children, have been killed and more than 2,700 wounded. Medical sources in Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, reported that an Israeli missile struck a Palestinian home in Al Zeitoun neighborhood east of Gaza City killing a woman and her children. The sources said that seven members of Al Sammouni family, including four children, were killed when the Israeli Army shelled their home while invading the area. Other members of the family said that the army also shelled a nearby home inflicting more casualties among the civilians as the house was overcrowded.

Hamas: Palestinian fighter blows self up inside Israeli tank
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A Palestinian has committed the first suicide bombing in fighting with invading Israeli forces in Gaza, Hamas’ armed forces said on Tuesday. According to Abu Ubayda, the spokesman of the Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas fighters managed to lure a group of Israeli soldiers into a building in the town of Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip. While those soldiers clashed with the first group of fighters, another man climbed into an Israeli tank and blew himself up. The Israeli military did not confirm this account. The military spokesperson’s office did say that "Paratrooper forces operating in northern Gaza identified a suicide bomber approaching them in order to detonate himself against the soldiers. The troops fired at the man, causing his suicide belt to detonate. One soldier was lightly wounded in the incident.

Al-Qassam decides to expand its rocket attacks to reach farther areas
Palestinian Information Center 1/6/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, on Monday decided to expand its rocket attacks and target farther Israeli settlements and more strategic areas after Israel ignored the Brigades’ previous warnings and persisted in its military aggression on the Gaza people. "We warned you in the past that we would strike farther areas and other cities, but you did not understand and we say today that since the aggression on one and a half million Palestinians did not stop, we decided to include more than this number (of settlements) in the range of our rockets, Al-Qassam spokesman Abu Obeida said addressing the Israeli leadership. Abu Obeida added that a lot of surprises await the Israeli occupation. Meanwhile, Palestinian resistance sources told the PIC that there were more surprises awaiting the IOF troops.

Gaza rocket hits Gedera, 30km from Tel Aviv; baby lightly hurt
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
A 3-month-old baby was lightly wounded on Tuesday when a Grad rocket fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip struck Gedera, 30 kilometers from Tel Aviv. Palestinian militants this week have continued the cross-border fire that Israel has sought to halt in its 11-day assault on Hamas in Gaza. The rocket struck a road in the southern section of Gedera, close to residential housing, in the first such attack on the central Israel city. The baby sustained wounds from shards of glass that hit her face, and was subsequently taken to a hospital for treatment. Four people were also treated for shock, including the baby’s mother. Ofir Frinsky, a Magen David Adom emergency services paramedic, told Haaretz that the city had been on alert for such an attack, despite never having fallen victim to rockets before.

Palestinian projectiles, Grad, and mortars land near Netivot, Eshkol, Gedera
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli media reported the landing of several projectiles, a 60s-era Grad missile and dozens of mortars at Israeli targets throughout the western Negev Tuesday morning. One infant was said to have been lightly injured in Gedera and dozens were treated for shock, according to Israeli sources. The projectiles come on the 11th day of a massive Israeli operation in the Gaza strip, said to be aimed at rooting out projectile launchers. The operation has killed nearly 600 Palestinians and Israeli tanks are currently in Gaza, surrounding Gaza City, and positioned in the central region near Der Al-Balah. [end]

Obama ’deeply concerned’ over Gaza
Al Jazeera 1/7/2009
Barack Obama, the US president-elect, has expressed "deep concern" over the number of civilian casualties in Gaza and Israel during the conflict there. Speaking after 40 Palestinians were killed at a UN school where civilians had sheltered, Obama said "the loss of civilian life in Gaza and Israel is a source of deep concern for me". Obama repeated his view that he did not want to speak fully in the issue until he became president on January 20 and that only George Bush could speak on US foreign policy until then. "After January 20 I’m going to have plenty to say about the issue, and I am not backing away at all from what I said during the campaign, that starting at the beginning of our administration, we are going to be engaged effectively and consistently in trying to resolve the conflict in the Middle East," he said.

Obama’s warning to Israel
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
Israel’s governing "troika" met yesterday in order to find a way out of the conundrum Israel finds itself in, following the bombing of the school in Jabalya, where dozens of Palestinian civilians were killed. The character of the meeting had already been marked by the warning Israel received from U. S. president-elect, Barack Obama, who broke his silence on the fighting in Gaza and made it clear that he will have a great deal more to say after his inauguration. The announcement from the Bush White House that for the time being Israel could carry on its offensive was little consolation. Obama made it clear that starting on January 20 the rules of American involvement in the region will change, and his administration will be a lot more active in pushing the diplomatic process between Israel and the Arabs forward. Obama’s timing, after the strike on the school, signals the direction the U.

MIDEAST: Obama Silence ’Ends Hopes From U.S.’
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Inter Press Service 1/7/2009
CAIRO, Jan 6(IPS) - With the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip now in its second week -- and as the Palestinian death toll approaches 600 -- U. S. president-elect Barack Obama has continued to remain silent. Obama’s reticence, say Egyptian commentators, indicates that he will be no more even-handed on the issue of Palestine than preceding U. S. administrations. "Obama’s silence shows that he is just as biased towards Israel as (outgoing U. S. President George) Bush," Ibrahim Mansour, political analyst and managing editor-in-chief of independent daily Al-Dustour told IPS. "Like Bush, Obama’s only role in the region will be to implement Israeli directives. " On Dec. 27, Israel began a series of devastating air strikes on targets throughout the Gaza Strip. On Saturday (Jan. 3), Israel launched a parallel ground offensive, which is currently meeting stiff resistance by Palestinian resistance fighters in strategic areas throughout the territory.

Obama breaks silence on Gaza, calls civilian deaths ’a deep concern’
News Agencies and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
Barack Obama, who takes over as U. S. president from George W. Bush on January 20, broke his silence about the violence in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, calling the loss of civilian lives in Gaza and in Israel a "source of deep concern for me. " Obama added he would adhere to his principle that only Bush should be the voice of U. S. foreign policy at this time but he would have plenty to say after his inauguration in two weeks. Nonetheless, Obama said that he is "not backing at all from what I’ve said during the campaign we’re going to engage effectively and consistently in the peace process. " "We’ve got plenty to say about Gaza, and on January 20, you’ll hear directly from me," he added. Meanwhile, the United States on Tuesday signaled some flexibility over Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip, saying it would like to see. . .

Obama refrains from making detailed comment on Gaza conflict
Daniel Nasaw in Washington, The Guardian 1/6/2009
US president-elect Barack Obama today broke his silence on the fighting in Gaza, saying he was "deeply concerned about the conflict" but postponing further comment on the Israeli invasion and Hamas attacks on Israel until after his inauguration. On a day when much of official Washington was consumed by dramatic action in the US Senate and by negotiations on Obama’s massive fiscal stimulus proposal, Obama told reporters he was closely monitoring the situation in Gaza and was receiving intelligence briefings. "The loss of civilian life in Gaza and Israel is a source of deep concern to me," he said in a question and answer session at his transition office, "and after January 20 I’m going to have plenty to say about the issue. "Obama reiterated his belief that he should refrain from interjecting in foreign. . .

Prince Turki slams US ’reckless’ position on Gaza
Middle East Online 1/6/2009
RIYADH - A member of the Saudi royal family blasted the US government on Tuesday for its "reckless" position towards Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip. "The Bush administration has left you (with) a disgusting legacy and a reckless position towards the massacres and bloodshed of innocents in Gaza," Prince Turki al-Faisal said in a message directed at President-elect Barack Obama. "Enough is enough, today we are all Palestinians and we seek martyrdom for God and for Palestine, following those who died in Gaza," Faisal, a former ambassador to the United States, said at a forum on relations between the Gulf region and the US. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal slammed Israeli politicians for "shedding Palestinian blood in what has become a tactic for Israeli parties to settle their election battles. " In an address read out at the forum by his deputy, the minister said. . .

Rice: U.S. backs Egypt proposal for Gaza cease-fire
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Tuesday Washington backed a proposal by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. "We need urgently to conclude a ceasefire that can endure and that can bring real security," Rice told the UN Security Council. "In this regard we are pleased by and wish to commend the statement of the president of Egypt and to follow up on that initiative. " Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday he too supports a proposal by Mubarak for an immediate truce between Israel and the Palestinians in Hamas-ruled Gaza. Speaking to the UN Security Council, Abbas expressed his "appreciation, indeed support" forthe ceasefire plan set out by Mubarak and French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday.

Cabinet to mull expanding Gaza op
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
Israel’s political leadership will meet in Tel Aviv this morning to discuss expanding the ground offensive in the Gaza Strip at a time when most of the aims of the operation have been met. In parallel, international diplomatic efforts are continuing, centering on an initiative to deploy an international force of combat engineers that would deal with the tunnels along the Philadelphi Route. The force would work in coordination with a naval force that would patrol the Gaza Strip shores. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told French President Nicolas Sarkozy during his visit here Monday that "promises made during the [six months of] cease-fire for dealing with [Hamas arms] smuggling were not kept. "Last night the Israeli troika - Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak - met to discuss the the IDF operation in the Gaza Strip and diplomatic developments.

Egypt offers Gaza ceasefire plan
Al Jazeera 1/7/2009
Egypt has said it was proposing an immediate ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, to be followed by talks on long-term arrangements including an end to the blockade of Gaza. Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, presented the proposal in a brief statement after talks with Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Tuesday. The proposal made no mention of many of the elements which diplomats said were under discussion, such as an international force to prevent Hamas receiving weapons. Mubarak did not say what role Hamas would play in the talks he is proposing. Israel and the Europeans who have been active diplomatically do not talk to the group. IN DEPTHLatest news and analysis from Gaza and IsraelAl. . .

ANALYSIS / The unspoken goal of bringing down Hamas in Gaza
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
This morning the Israel Defense Forces operation in the Gaza Strip approaches a critical juncture: To be − deeper in, at a higher cost − or not to be. The operation in its current format has exhausted itself. There is no point in pursuing it. The choice now is between going forward, at a price Israeli society is understandably reluctant to pay, or stopping, completing the mission in place and undertaking a unilateral withdrawal without waiting for the false hope of an agreement without Hamas’ participation. Additional achievements cannot be expected without further efforts that could prove too late and too great. Last night’s blast, which killed three Israeli troops and wounded about 20 others, was a hint of what could happen if the ground operation is expanded.

VIDEO - Israel looks to drive out Hamas
Chris McGreal in Jerusalem, The Guardian 1/6/2009
Officials push for regime change • Islamist party ’fatally damaged’ • Both sides reject calls for ceasefire - Israeli intelligence and military officials are increasingly pushing for the assault on Gaza to continue until it assures the eventual downfall of Hamas amid assertions that the 10 days of military bombardment have crippled the Islamist party’s ability to govern. As the onslaught progresses, officials are more confident of "changing the equation" in Gaza and are predicting the collapse of the Hamas administration. Last night, Israeli forces bombed the centre of Gaza, and there were reports of intense clashes with Hamas fighters on the edge of the city. But the fighting and the occupation of parts of the north and centre of the Gaza Strip did not stop Hamas from firing more than 40 rockets into Israel. The death toll from 10 days of fighting has risen above 550. Those killed yesterday included 13 members of the same family killed in their house by Israeli tank fire east of Gaza city.

Israel snubs ceasefire calls and deepens push into Gaza
Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters, The Independent 1/6/2009
Israeli forces pressed closer and into cities in the Gaza Strip today despite new international calls for a ceasefire in an 11-day-old conflict in which hundreds of Palestinians have been killed. Palestinian witnesses said Israeli forces moved into Khan Younis in southern Gaza as the army widened the ground assault it launched four days ago against Hamas militants after a week of air strikes failed to stamp out cross-border rocket fire. There was intense fighting overnight on the outskirts of the city of Gaza, where residents huddled indoors in fear. Deaths recorded by Palestinian medics reached 564. Most of several dozen deaths reported by hospitals in recent days have been civilians, apparently because dead militants remain on the battlefield. The Israeli military said it had killed 130 militants since Saturday - an indication that the total Palestinian death toll since Dec.

Haneyya: Int’l parties seek to give Israel more time to continue its massacres
Palestinian Information Center 1/6/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the Palestinian government, on Monday stated that the marked slowdown in the convention of the UN Security Council bears out that there are international parties seeking to give Israel more time to continue its massacres against the Gaza people. In a statement received by the PIC, Haneyya also reproved some Arab states for referring the issue of Gaza to the UNSC while they know well that it is controlled by the western countries headed by the US and legitimizes the killing in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Somalia. The premier underlined that the Israeli occupation decided to wage a ground military offensive against Gaza to sow more death and destruction, highlighting that Israel would fail to achieve its goals and would never be able to break the will of the Palestinian people and their legitimate resistance.

PM: We’ll halt op only when terror and smuggling stop
Shelly Paz, Jerusalem Post 1/6/2009
Israel is willing to hold its fire against Hamas if two conditions are met - a halt to terror and to weapons smuggling into Gaza via the Sinai Peninsula - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday, during a visit to Sderot. Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were there for a meeting with industrialists, Histadrut leaders, and workers in the southern city’s Osem factory. "For seven long years, the residents of the South have absorbed unending [rocket] fire. What used to be small rockets turned into powerful rockets that reach a range of dozens of kilometers, and hundreds of thousands of residents are threatened by them almost daily," Olmert said. Olmert added that US President-elect Barack Obama was convinced of Israel’s right to defend itself. "I am encouraged by the words President-elect Obama said in my home following a visit to Sderot.

Lieberman: Op to end when Hamas no longer in power
Yael Branovsky, YNetNews 1/6/2009
Yisrael Beiteinu chairman visits injured soldiers in Beersheba, demands Israel continue attacking Gaza until terror group is defeated completely - The Israeli operation in Gaza will end once we gain full control of the Rafah crossing and Philadelphi Route and when Hamas is no longer in power, Yisrael Beitienu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday. He spoke while visiting injured Israel Defense Forces soldiers hospitalized at the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. "I heard about the 2005 agreement with the international monitors," Lieberman said. "Been there, done that. No one will be a subcontractor for the State of Israel. We must control the border between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula completely, and then move to the next stage – knocking out the Hamas regime. "According to Lieberman, it is impossible to obtain an agreement with Hamas.

Egypt announces Israel-Hamas truce plan
Reuters, YNetNews 1/6/2009
According to proposal presented by President Mubarak, Israel and Palestinian factions should accept immediate ceasefire for limited period, to be followed by talks on long-term arrangements including end to blockade of Gaza -Egypt said on Tuesday it was proposing an immediate ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, to be followed by talks on long-term arrangements including an end to the blockade of Gaza. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak presented the proposal in a brief statement after talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The proposal made no mention of many of the elements which diplomats said were under discussion, such as an international force to prevent the Islamist group

Int’l Gaza ceasefire plan taking shape
Reuters, YNetNews 1/6/2009
Officials, diplomats say Israel taking seriously international proposal for ceasefire that would involve sending a special force, including military engineers, to Gaza-Egypt border to prevent Hamas from rearming - Israel is taking seriously an international proposal for a Gaza ceasefire that would involve a pledge of foreign forces to prevent Hamas from rearming, Israeli officials and diplomats said on Tuesday. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said a deal to end Israel’s offensive in Gaza was "not far" away, but gave no details. "I’m convinced that there are solutions. We are not far from that. What is needed is simply for one of the players to for things to go in the right direction," he told reporters during a visit to French UN peacekeepers in south

Sarkozy says truce deal ’not far’
Associated Press, YNetNews 1/6/2009
After meeting with Syrian president, french president returns to Egypt to continue push for Hamas-Israel ceasefire. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice heads off to UN to lobby for a US-backed ceasefire plan in Gaza - French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Tuesday a deal to end the Israeli offensive in Gaza was "not far". "I’m convinced that there are solutions. We are not far from that. What is needed is simply for one of the players to for things to go in the right direction," he told reporters during a visit to French UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon. Sarkozy said he was returning to Sharm el-Sheikh to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak because there was "small hope" of such a deal. Sarkozy’s speech confirmed French Prime Minister Francois Fillon’s statement earlier Tuesday that a "very narrow" opportunity to get a ceasefire in Gaza is opening up.

Behind the battle lines, fight for ceasefire gathers pace
Ian Black, Middle East editor and Ed Pilkington, The Guardian 1/7/2009
Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, claimed last night a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip was "not far off" as he unexpectedly returned to Egypt after talks in Syria, which is the chief Arab ally of the Hamas movement fighting Israel’s invasion. Sarkozy flew from Beirut back to Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea for a second, unscheduled meeting with President Hosni Mubarak, a major player in international attempts to engineer a truce between Israel and the Palestinians. The move, as diplomats gathered at the UN in New York to discuss the crisis, suggested the possible beginnings of shuttle diplomacy to call a halt to Israel’s 11-day onslaught. Sarkozy gave no details, but said during a visit to French troops serving with the UN in south Lebanon: "I’m convinced there are solutions.

So what will it take for Israel to stop fighting?
Donald Macintyre, The Independent 1/7/2009
It remains to be seen whether the civilian carnage which culminated in the attack on a UN school yesterday will bring the end of the war any closer -- or dent the determination of those in Israel who would like to press on with it until Hamas is not only damaged but removed from its control of Gaza. Certainly a relatively incoherent international community has been slow in producing a credible mechanism for ending it. That in turn has made it more likely the war will drag on, encouraging the kind of mission creep in which some Israeli politicians seek to replace the goal of ending rocket fire with the holy grail of regime change. Even before the catastrophe yesterday, the question of how long and with what aims the conflict would be pursued was delicately balanced. It looks as if -- with an election due next month -- at least two central players see the outcome rather differently.

Olmert: The sooner Israel can end Gaza op, the better
Haaretz Staff and AP, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Haaretz on Tuesday that Israel has no interest in a prolonged offensive in the Gaza Strip. "The sooner, the better," he said when asked when the army planned to end its operation. "We did not set out to occupy Gaza or kill every terrorist. We set out to bring change to the south. " Olmert on Tuesday visited a number of southern towns recently battered by rockets, and met with residents, municipal leaders, and wounded Israel Defense Forces soldiers hospitalized at Soroka Medical Center, in Be’er Sheva. The prime minister told Haaretz that he was in contact with numerous world leaders working toward a diplomatic solution for the crisis, but explained that Israel was demanding "an effective blockading of the Philadelphi Route, with supervision and follow-ups," referring to the area between Gaza and Egypt where Islamic militants have dug tunnels that are used for smuggling weapons and passage of guerillas.

Analysis: Israel will respond to US ceasefire request within 24 hours
Ma’an News Agency 1/7/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an Report – Political and military analysts recently claimed in the Hebrew press that both the incoming and outgoing US presidents had expressed deep concern to Israel about civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip. And according to military analyst Alof Ben David, the Israeli government may actually respond to a ceasefire request from the United States, if not to dozens of others throughout the past week. Israel will have to decide whether to go ahead with its military offensive or to announce a ceasefire in return for a Hamas guarantee of halting the shelling of Israeli towns. Other analysts have affirmed that Israeli army commanders are not yet satisfied with the losses they had inflicted on Hamas fighters and ammunition caches, preferring instead to take their time with the assault. Some soldiers also said they noticed near a mosque that Hamas fighters. . .

Haniyeh: Ground invasion in Gaza indicates Israel’s failure
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto prime minister of the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh argued on Tuesday that Israeli ground operations in the Gaza Strip signal Israel’s failure to force Palestinians to surrender. “It is true that our people do not have warplanes, tanks, naval squadrons or cluster bombs, yet they have strong will and insistence. They are armed with steadfastness, unity and tolerance. States collapse in front of such war, but Gaza survived thanks to heavenly miracle, and holy Quran verses,” Haniyeh said. The Hamas made this pronouncement in a statement sent to Ma’an. Haniyeh has not appeared in public or on television since Israeli forces began intense bombing of the Gaza Strip more than ten days ago. Haniyeh questioned Arabs and Muslims “silence” towards the crisis in Gaza: “How could the Arabs, the Muslims and the free people of the world allow such massacres and. . .

Sarkozy urges Syria to act on Gaza
Al Jazeera 1/6/2009
Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president, has called on Syria to help convince Hamas to co-operate in international efforts to end the Israeli assault in the Gaza Strip during talks with Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus. Sarkozy told the Syrian president on Tuesday that he "didn’t have any doubt" that Syria would help convince Hamas to agree to a deal. Sarkozy said: "I know the importance of Syria in this region and its influence on a number of players. "I don’t have any doubt that President Bashar Al-Assad will throw all his weight to convince every one to return to reason. Those who can work for peace must do it immediately. " Syria, along with Iran, is a main backer of Hamas and hosts members of the group’s exiled leadership, including Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’ leader.

Hamas: Sarkozy has a pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian bias
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Tuesday that he considers the statements said by the French President Nikolas Sarkozy blaming Hamas for breaking the truce as showing a bias towards Israel. “Sarkozi’s statements have reversed the truth and protect Israeli forces from taking responsibility from the crimes they are committing; they give Israel license to continue their attacks on the Gaza Strip. [end]

Blair: Closing smuggling routes key to ceasefire
Andrew Woodcock, PA, The Independent 1/6/2009
A ceasefire in the Gaza Strip is attainable within days if the smuggling routes which supply arms and money to Hamas can be shut down, international envoy Tony Blair said today. Mr Blair said that the Hamas movement, which holds power in the Palestinian enclave, is in contact with Egypt over the issue and that Cairo is prepared in principle to take action. All "responsible" players in the region should be working towards an immediate cessation of the hostilities which have now entered their 11th day, he said. The former Prime Minister was speaking in Jerusalem after an intense night of fighting in Gaza as Israeli forces expanded their ground and air offensive. Israel continued to ignore mounting international pressure for a ceasefire in the assault, which has claimed more than 500 lives, around a quarter of them civilians, according to the United Nations.

UN diplomats frustrated at Gaza impasse
Haider Rizvi, Electronic Intifada 1/6/2009
UNITED NATIONS (IPS) - Disappointed with the Security Council’s inaction regarding the worsening situation in Gaza, diplomats from numerous nations of the global South are close to taking the case of Israeli aggression to the United Nations General Assembly. "It seems like they will wait for another day or two about what happens at the Security Council. If the Council does not take any action, they will be going to the General Assembly soon," a diplomatic source told IPS on condition of anonymity. UN and Gaza health officials have reported more than 550 Palestinian dead and around 2,500 wounded since the offensive began on 27 December. Countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran and Venezuela are in favor of asking the 192-member General Assembly to adopt a resolution deploring Israeli killing of civilians and calling for an immediate ceasefire, the source said. However, the source added that some Arab countries and others are expressing reservations about such a move.

Israel’s ’colonial tactics’ decried
Al Jazeera 1/7/2009
Azmi Bishara, an Arab-Israeli analyst and former member of the Israeli parliament, has lashed out at the Israeli media campaign being run alongside its war on Gaza that criminalises the victims and victimises the coloniser. Speaking to Al Jazeera on Tuesday, Bishara said Israel’s war on Gaza was disproportionate and punishes the Palestinian people forrefusing to bow to Israel’s fait-accompli in the strip. "Usually people are pushed to collective punishment because they want to punish resistance movements or national liberation movements. "That’s usually what colonial powers did, and that’s what Israel is doing. "Bishara said the majority of Gazans are refugees, whose ancestors used to live in what is now Israel. Everybody knows that 75 per cent of the people of Gaza are refugees. Everybody knows that Israel disengaged from Gaza militarily, but occupies it economically and politically and also it besieges Gaza militarily.

Brown calls for international action over Gaza crisis
Nigel Morris, The Independent 1/7/2009
Gordon Brown intensified the pressure on Israel last night to pull out of Gaza, warning that the Middle East faced its "darkest moment" following the strike on the United Nations school. The Prime Minister insisted: "I am hopeful that the basis on which an immediate ceasefire can take place can be found. " He called for international action to open the crossings into Gaza and for the tunnels from Egypt that Israel says are used to smuggle weapons and ammunition to be closed. He also urged a new agreement to guarantee "security to both the Palestinian people and the Israeli people". Mr Brown said: "That is the basis on which I believe an immediate and sustainable ceasefire can happen. "With the crisis being discussed in the United Nations, the Prime Minister said proposals for ending the bloodshed in the Gaza strip were being circulated among world leaders.

Lib Dems call for British arms embargo on Israel
Patrick Wintour, political editor, The Guardian 1/7/2009
Gordon Brown came under pressure yesterday to impose a British arms embargo on Israel in protest at its actions in Gaza, and to call on the EU to join the boycott. The call was made by Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, in an article in the Guardian, and represents the first serious political pressure on the prime minister to do more to condemn Israel. Clegg accused Brown of sitting on his hands and speaking like an accountant about the crisis, remarks that were likely to deeply offend the prime minister. Downing Street insists that Brown has been acting tirelessly behind the scenes alongside Tony Blair, now a Middle East envoy, and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to secure a ceasefire that the Israeli government will accept, including an international force to police the tunnels reportedly taking weapons into Gaza.

Anti-Semitic acts up in U.K. due to Gaza crisis
DPA, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
There has been a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Britain since the upsurge of hostilities in Gaza, a group that protects Jewish institutions said yesterday. The Community Security Trust (CST) said it recorded 24 incidents since December 29, including 19 in London. They included an attempted arson attack on a synagogue in northwest London on Sunday night. "There has been a significant rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents, especially when compared with what is usually a very quiet time of year for racist, anti-Jewish attacks," said CST spokesman Mark Gardner. On New Year’s Eve, a gang of youths alarmed residents in Golders Green, a predominantly Jewish district in northwest London, by trying to enter Jewish shops while shouting "Jew" at individuals, Gardner reported. In the same district, a Jewish man was pulled from his car and assaulted by three men, but not seriously hurt.

Art doyenne’s lobbying link
Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian 1/7/2009
Most followers of contemporary art in this country will know of Anita Zabludowicz: she is a voracious collector who has recently opened a public exhibition space in London, called 176; her yacht is a regular sight moored near the Giardini during the Venice Biennale; and she is a frequent mingler on the British art scene (last spotted by the Diary as she sized up a David Altmejd sculpture with his dealers at the Liverpool Biennial this autumn). But how many art lovers are aware of the activities of her husband, the Finnish born billionaire Poju Zabludowicz? Mr Z, heir to an arms-dealing fortune, is the chairman and a major donor of the British Israel Communication and Research Centre. That body is a fantastically active and well-connected lobbying outfit that has been working behind the scenes during the current crisis in Gaza, organising press briefings and interviews with high-level Israeli officials in an attempt to push the Israeli case with British journalists.

Israel announces ’humanitarian corridor’ for Gaza
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/7/2009
Prime Minister Olmert says areas in Strip to be opened for limited period of times to allow Palestinian population to equip itself with food, goods. National Security Cabinet to decide Wednesday whether ground operation’s goals have been achieved -Following the international criticism following the Israel Defense Forces strike near a United Nations school in Jabalya, which left dozens of people killed, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday night announced the opening of a "humanitarian corridor" for the Gaza Strip. According to the announcement, areas in the Strip would be opened for limited periods of time to allow the Palestinian population to equip itself and receive aid. The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that since the start of the military operation in Gaz,a hundreds of tons of equipment, goods and food have been transferred to the Strip in similar amounts to those transferred before the operation.

Gaza Strip conflict engendering wave of anti-Semitic violence in Europe
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
PARIS - Signs are mounting that the conflict in Gaza is starting to spill over into violence in Europe’s towns and cities, with assaults against Jews and arson attacks on Jewish congregations in France, Sweden and Britain. Assailants rammed a burning car into the gates of a synagogue in Toulouse, in southwest France, on Monday night. A Jewish congregation in Helsingborg, in southern Sweden, also was attacked Monday night by someone who "broke a window and threw in something that was burning," said police spokesman Leif Nilsson. Neighbors alerted rescue services before the fire took hold. Someone also started a blaze outside the premises last week. And on Sunday slogans including "murderers. . . You broke the cease-fire" and "don’t subject Palestine to ethnic cleansing" were daubed on Israel’s embassy in Stockholm.

Gaza op prompts wave of anti-Semitism in Belgium
Yael Levy Published, YNetNews 1/6/2009
Protests against Israeli operation in Gaza give rise to violent attacks against Jews across country. Jews now live in fear here, says Jewish Agency envoy in Antwerp - Anti-Semitism is rearing its head in Belgium as protests against the Israeli military operation in Gaza have led to violent attacks against Jews. A Molotov cocktail was thrown at the liberal synagogue in Brussels on Monday. No injuries were reported, but the building sustained damage. "Things are heating up here in Belgium," said Jewish Agency and Bnei Akiva envoy in Antwerp Meir Vachotzker. "When the fighting in Gaza started, a Molotov cocktail and a rock were hurled at a synagogue in Charlerois and caused damage. " On Saturday unknown assailants attempted to torch the house of a Jewish family in Antwerp. An eyewitness who resides nearby alerted the police to the place and they managed to extinguish the flames before the house caught fire.

Peres: Israel not worried by international image
Middle East Online 1/6/2009
JERUSALEM - Israeli President Shimon Peres on Tuesday blasted European efforts to seek a halt to the Gaza conflict insisting that Israel was not worried about its international image, his office said. "Europe must open its eyes. We are not in the business of public relations or improving our image. We are fighting against terror, and we have every right to defend our citizens," the Nobel Peace Prize winning leader told an EU ministerial delegation. EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferraro-Waldner told Peres that "Israel’s image is being destroyed" because of its refusal to listen to international ceasefire appeals, the president’s office said in a statement. The EU delegation followed French President Nicolas Sarkozy in appealing to Peres and other Israeli leaders for a ceasefire in the conflict which has left more than 580 Palestinian dead.

Turkey-Israel basketball game canned after pro-Gaza protesters storm court
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
A basketball game between a Turkish and an Israeli team was suspended on Tuesday after Turkish fans erupted in protests against the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, Turkish media reported. A referee suspended the game between Turk Telekom and Bnei Hasharon, part of a European basketball championship, and ordered the players back to the dressing room after hundreds of Turkish fans began chanting "Israel, killers!" in an Ankara sports centre, SkyTurk broadcaster reported. Turkey, a predominantly Muslim but secular country, has good ties with Israel, but the violence in Gaza has sparked mass street protests and harsh criticism from the government. Related articles:Demonstrators cry ’nuke Israel,’ carry Hezbollah flags at U. S. anti-Israel rallies Burning car rams synagogue in southwest FranceTens of thousands. . .

Venezuela expels Israeli envoy over Gaza
News agencies, YNetNews 1/6/2009
Chavez calls Israel’s offensive a Palestinian ’holocaust’, says presidents of Israel and US should be tried in international court. Foreign Ministry: Venezuela must choose between those who fight terror, those who support it -Venezuela’s government is expelling the Israeli ambassador and all embassy personnel in response to Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip. The OPEC nation’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that Israel’s campaign constituted "flagrant violations of International Law" and the use of "state terrorism. " "For the reasons mentioned above, the government of Venezuela has decided to expel the ambassador of Israel and part of the personnel of the Embassy of Israel," the statement said. The Israeli Foreign Ministry condemned Venezuela following its decision.

Turkish PM: Israel’s Gaza offensive ’savagery’
Middle East Online 1/6/2009
ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday condemned Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip as "savagery" in a fresh attack on his country’s main regional ally. "What reason can justify such savagery? " Erdogan said in a speech to Justice and Development Party in parliament, slamming Israeli attacks on civilian targets. He said the offensive, which has claimed more than 580 lives including nearly 100 children, was a bid by the Israeli leadership to score points ahead of general elections in February. Referring to the Israeli ministers of defence and foreign affairs, Erdogan said: "I am telling Ehud Barak and (Tzipi) Livni to forget about the elections, because history will judge them for the black stain they are leaving on humanity. " The Jewish nation "has suffered much in history and should know best the sanctity of human life, especially that of women and children.

Venezuelan President Chavez: Gaza operation is a Palestinian ’holocaust’
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
Venezuela expelled the ambassador to Israel on Tuesday in protest over the offensive in Gaza only hours after leftist President Hugo Chavez called the attacks a Palestinian "holocaust. " The socialist Chavez, a harsh critic of Israel and the United States, in recent years has frequently withdrawn Venezuela’s diplomatic envoys amid bilateral disputes and last year kicked out the U. S. ambassador over a conflict involving allied Bolivia. The OPEC nation’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Israel’s campaign constituted "flagrant violations of International Law" and the use of "state terrorism. " "For the reasons mentioned above, the government of Venezuela has decided to expel the ambassador of Israel and part of the personnel of the Embassy of Israel," the statement said.

Venezuela expels Israeli ambassador
Al Jazeera 1/7/2009
Venezuela has expelled the Israeli ambassador to protest against the country’s assault on Gaza, after the Venezuelan president described it as a "holocaust". The move on Tuesday came hours after 40 Palestinians were killed at a UN school where civilians had taken shelter amid the offensive. "The Holocaust, that is what is happening right now in Gaza," Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, said in televised comments. "The president of Israel at this moment should be taken to the International Criminal Court together with the president of the United States. " At least 660 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Israel began its offensive on December 27, in what it says is an attempt to halt Palestinian rocketfire from Gaza. ’State terrorism’ - Venezuela’s foreign ministry said in a statement. . .

Bush plan beat obstacle to Gaza assault
Gareth Porter, Asia Times 1/7/2009
WASHINGTON - Until mid-2007, there was a serious political obstacle to a massive conventional war by Israel against Hamas in Gaza: the fact that Hamas had won free and fair elections for the Palestinian parliament and was still the leading faction in a fully legitimate government. But the George W Bush administration helped Israel eliminate that obstacle, by deliberately provoking Hamas to seize power. That plan was aimed at getting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the democratically elected Hamas government - something Bush had tried unsuccessfully to do for many months. Hamas won 56% of the seats in the Palestinian parliament in the January 2006 elections, and the following month, the Palestinian Legislative Council voted for a new government under Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The Bush administration immediately began to use its control over the "Quartet" (the US,

Abbas urges action on Gaza
Al Jazeera 1/7/2009
The Palestinian president has urged the United Nations Security Council to act on the Israeli offensive in Gaza, saying there was no time for "prevarication or delay". In an impassioned speech at Tuesday’s meeting in New York held to discuss a possible council resolution on the crisis, Mahmoud Abbas said those present faced a "clear cut" choice. "The world will accept no less than an urgent intervention by the security council to. . . deter the aggressor," he said. However Gabriela Shalev, Israeli ambassador to the UN, said that the Gaza offensive was a "pre-requisite", not an obstacle, for peace. "I hope the world will understand that the security council is not the place to get any arrangement, any concessions, any resolution.

PRC says international forces treated as invading enemies
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in the Gaza Strip said on Tuesday that it will refuse entry of any international force into the area. The group added that it would consider such an act an attempt to prevent Palestinians from their legitimate right to resist. The group’s Tuesday announcement was a response to attempts by the Palestinian Authority to push through a UN resolution that would ensure an immediate ceasefire and install observers and international troops at the borders of Gaza and Israel to ensure both sides stick to the agreement. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in New York Tuesday morning to press the case for a ceasefire resolution. The PRC made it clear in a statement that any international troops would be treated as enemies invading the area.

PA seeking war crimes trials over Israeli actions in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority has begun the process legal action against Israeli leaders it says are responsible for war crimes in the Gaza Strip, the top Palestinian diplomat in London said. Palestinian delegate to the United Kingdom, Professor Manuel Hassassian, said that “in the absence of any tangible action from the international community, the Palestinian leadership today started the process of pursuing those Israelis responsible for these heinous crimes through the international courts. " "We owe it to the hundreds of children, women and men that have been killed and maimed to ensure that those responsible are made to account for their crimes,” he added. Hassassian made the announcement in a statement circulated in the immediate aftermath of an Israeli artillery attack on a clearly marked, UN-operated school in Jabaliya, in the northern Gaza Strip.

Arab-Israeli orchestra cancels concerts in Qatar, Egypt amid security concerns
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
BERLIN - Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim and his orchestra of Arab and Israeli musicians have canceled performances in the Middle East this weekend because of fighting between Israel and Hamas, he said yesterday. Instead, they will play in the German capital. Two concerts were scheduled for this weekend - one each in Doha, Qatar and Cairo - but Barenboim said organizers in those countries called off the shows amid security concerns. "Officially, the concerts are postponed and we hope to reschedule," Barenboim said. The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra will perform works by Beethoven and Brahms at the Staatsoper on Monday, and the remainder of the group’s 10th anniversary tour of other cities - including Moscow, Vienna and Milan - will continue. Argentinean-born Barenboim has advocated peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and heavily criticized a military solution.

West Bank quiet over war on Gaza
Al Jazeera 1/7/2009
"It is so much more than disappointment," explains Abir, a Gazan now living in the West Bank city of Ramallah. "In my worst nightmares I never imagined that Gaza would literally be slaughtered and the West Bank would be quiet. "While protests against the Israeli assaults on Gaza have surged across the world in the past week, Ramallah - the demonstration capital of the West Bank - has been relatively quiet. At one point, a protest in Tel Aviv drew 10,000 people while a demonstration in Ramallah the day before drew a fraction of that number. It is not that residents of Ramallah are indifferent to the bombardment in Gaza. "All the people, all day, are watching what is happening in Gaza and thinking about it and asking why," says Manal Mustafa, a 26-year-old from Ramallah.

The view from Ramallah / An Intifada in its infancy?
Jesse Rosenfeld, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
"There is a new Intifada coming and it will start in the West Bank" - The stores were all shuttered, the streets virtually empty and every corner was guarded by police officers and soldiers deployed by the colonial force, eying small groups of Arab youth while scratching at their batons, machine guns ready. A demonstration of schoolgirls surrounded by riot police decried the massacre and the closed tourist shops screamed loudly for resistance and non-cooperation. The air in East Jerusalem on Sunday, December 28 brought to mind the scene of the general strike called by North African Front Libération National (FLN) in the the 1966 French film, The Battle of Algiers. However, instead of French police and soldiers, the light blue police uniforms had Stars of David emblazoned on their chests and the pale green uniforms were those of the Israeli army.

Hope and activism under 15 - Photos
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 1/6/2009
On Tuesday, the 6th of January 2009, the children of Ni’lin village, west of Ramallah held a protest against the Israeli military strike in Gaza. Dozens ofkids waved flags and carried pictures of the casualties of their Gazan neighbours. Those children know already what this is all about, as the town of Ni’lin has been facing a harsh repression against the weekly peaceful demontrations against the Wall for the last 6 months. There, Israeli violence killed a least 3 teenagers and dozens were injured and imprisoned. Hundreds of children protested against the Israeli military strike in Gaza in their village of Ni’lin, holding pictures of casulaties and waving flags. Many of the children protesting in Ni’lin carried pictures of children who have died at demonstrations in the village.

Tulkarem residents rally in support of Gaza Palestinians
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Palestinians rallied against the ongoing Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, taking to the streets by the thousands in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem. Governor Talal Dweikat and two members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Hassan Khreisha and Seham Thabet, joined students and two school principals at the demonstration. Protestors marched through the streets of the city, calling for an end to the Israeli attacks and to support a unity government to oppose the "Israeli aggression," as one protestor alleged. Others called on the international community to "take seriously" their responsibilities toward keeping Israel in line, while others condemned European and American leaders for "keeping silent on such massacres. "

VIDEO - West Bank feels betrayed by its leaders
The Independent 1/6/2009
In the West Bank the gap between the public and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is widening, following disappointment that Abbas has pointed out explicitly Hamas’ responsibility in the crisis over Israel’s offensive on Gaza. [end]

Bethlehem: Greek Orthodox Christians Mark Christmas
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/6/2009
In contrary to other years, few people gathered today at the Church of the Nativity to mark the Greek Orthodox Christams on Tuesday. the Bethlehem City municipality has cancled all celebartions for Christmas this year, and only kept the relegoius events on the schedule. As the Israeli war on Gaza entered its 11th day, at least 577 Palestinians, including women and children, have been killed, and more than 2,700 wounded. Early this morning, the Patriarch of the Assyrian Orthodox Church was the first religious figure to arrive in Bethlehem, followed by the Patriarch of the Coptic Church. At midday, the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, Theofilos III, arrived at the Manger Square in Bethlehem city centre, where he was greeted by Bethlehem Governor Salah Al-Ta’mari, Mayor of Bethlehem, Dr. Victor Batarseh, and the Palestinian Minister of Tourism, Khouloud Daibes, in addition. . .

Nael, 'I fear nothing now'
IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1/7/2009
DUBAI, Nael Shaeth, 40, a father of four, talked to IRIN by telephone from his home in Al-Naser neighbourhood, central Gaza, about the challenges faced by people who have been trapped in their homes since the Israeli offensive on Gaza began on 27 December. “Scenes of destruction are everywhere. When you walk in the streets you see many damaged buildings. Some of them are totally damaged and cannot be repaired. They need to be rebuilt anew. “Nobody leaves his or her house unless there is something extremely urgent. The last time I went out was before yesterday to refill my car with fuel. But I go to visit my mother who lives nearby to check on her. That day I passed by a bakery where I had to stand in a long queue to buy some bread. We usually wait for an hour in queues to buy bread as only two or three bakeries in our area are still functioning.

’Why are they doing this to us?’
Voices from the frontline, The Guardian 1/7/2009
Reem Al Ghussain, an English teacher at Al-Azhar University in Gaza - Today I walked for half an hour to find bread, and then I queued for five hours. All I could buy was enough for one day. My children didn’t want me to go - they were worried I would die. They are scared. Whenever they hear any sudden sound they think it’s a bomb. They don’t sleep, and as a result I don’t sleep. Sometimes they don’t want to eat. I say don’t worry, the bombing is far away, but they know it’s a big lie because the house shakes. They haven’t been outside in 10 days and now they’re fighting each other. My children ask me, if they are killed what will happen to them. I say, "Don’t worry, nothing will happen to you. "They ask me: "Why are the Israelis doing this to us? " My child in fifth grade asks me: "What did we do to them? " I tell them that they want to take our land and they want all Palestinians to die.

ANALYSIS / Israel must double, triple, quadruple its medical aid to Gaza
Ari Shavit, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
A few days ago, Physicians for Human Rights began soliciting $700,000 in donations for hospitals in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli humanitarian organization also provided a detailed list of the medical equipment Gaza lacks, including portable monitors, respirators, ultrasound and X-ray machines, wheelchairs, needles, dressings, catheters, oxygen, medical gases, endo-tracheal tubes, screws and plates for shattered limbs, and surgical gloves. According to PHR, Gaza also has a severe shortage of intensive-care beds, which cost about $50,000 apiece. Moreover, many Palestinian ambulances are out of commission. As of Tuesday, dozens of people had responded to the call. Some NIS 400,000 has been raised, mainly from Palestinian-Israelis. However, the campaign is still about $600,000 short.

Gaza’s day of carnage - 40 dead as Israelis bomb two UN schools
The Guardian 1/7/2009
Israel’s assault on Gaza has exacted the bloodiest toll of civilian lives yet, when the bombing of UN schools being used as refugee centres and of housing killed more than 50 people, including an entire family of seven young children. The UN protested at a "complete absence of accountability" for the escalating number of civilian deaths in Gaza, saying "the rule of the gun" had taken over. Doctors in Gaza said more than 40 people died, including children, in what appears to be the biggest single loss of life of the campaign when Israeli bombs hit al-Fakhora school, in Jabaliya refugee camp, while it was packed with hundreds of people who had fled the fighting. Hours before, three young men who were cousins died when the Israelis bombed Asma elementary school in Gaza City.

Gaza aid diary: Nowhere is safe
Salwa El Tibi in Gaza, Al Jazeera 1/6/2009
Yesterday was the first time in nine days that I was able to leave my house. It is about a 10 minute journey from my home to the warehouse where the Save the Children food parcels are stored - but even as I drove the Save the Children car to work, I felt very afraid. The noise from the bombings was so loud. There were very few cars on the roads and all of the shops were closed. I saw three buildings that had been completely destroyed. Dangerous work - At the warehouse I waited for our volunteer staff who help to distribute our food parcels across different parts of the Gaza Strip. When we distribute the parcels we work in groups because it is so dangerous. The volunteers packed their cars with the parcels and headed out to different parts of Gaza City and the north of the Strip. Although they are volunteers we will give them some money because it is dangerous work.

Report: Dozens dead in IDF strikes
Ali Waked, YNetNews 1/6/2009
Number of Palestinian citizens killed in Gaza increases dramatically, as UNWRA school sustains direct hit; at least 30 Palestinians evacuated from their homes die. Earlier, building in Zeitoun neighborhood collapses following bombing, some 13 people killed - Dozens of civilians killed in Gaza: Palestinians reported Tuesday that dozens of people have been killed since the afternoon hours in three separate Israel Defense Force strikes on civilian targets. Sources in the Strip reported that at least 40 civilians were killed in an attack near a United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA) school in northern Gaza. A UN spokesman said 30 Palestinians were killed in the strike. Palestinian sources reported that several shells hit the UN’s al-Fahoura school. The school housed Palestinians forced to leave their homes which are located near the border fence for fear for their lives. The residents were living in the school’s classrooms and corridors.

Three killed as Israeli forces strike UN schools in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Three Palestinians were killed overnight in an Israeli attack on a United Nations school that was housing people displaced by the violence in Gaza, the UN’s relief agency for Palestinian refugees said on Tuesday. In a statement circulated on Tuesday, UNRWA said that Israeli forces attacked the Asma Elementary School in Gaza City, which is currently sheltering 400 people who fled their homes in the town of Beit Lahiya. The school was clearly marked as a United Nations installation. The three men, 24-year-old Hussein Mahmoud Abed Al Malek Al Sultan, 19-year-old Abed Samir Ali Al Sultan, and 25-year-old Rawhi Jamal Ramadan Al Sultan, were killed at 11:30 Monday night as they left the school toilet, which was shortly before the compound took a direct hit. The director of the UN general commissioner’s office in Gaza, Adnan Abu Hasanah, said that another. . .

Massacre: Dozens killed by Israeli shelling of UN school in Jabaliya
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli forces killed dozens of Palestinians at a UN school that was sheltering displaced people in Jabaliya Refugee Camp in the northern Gaza Strip late on Tuesday afternoon. John Ging, Director of Operations in Gaza of UNRWA, said that 30 people died and 55 others were injured when three Israeli artillery shells landed at the perimeter of the school. Ma’an spoke with witnesses who saw two shells exploding at the school. Medical officials at Gaza hospitals said 42 were killed. Palestinians displaced by the Israeli military onslaught had taken shelter in the school. Witnesses reported ambulances and private cars evacuating the dead and wounded, some of whom appeared to have been blown to pieces. Many women and children are said to be among the dead. Hundreds of people were reported to be in the area of the school at the time of the shelling.

Israeli occupation forces bomb UNRWA school killing 45 civilians
Palestinian Information Center 1/6/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- An Israeli air raid and artillery fire targeting the UN-run Al-Fakhoura school on Tuesday killed 45 Palestinian citizens including children and wounded 50 others some of whom were in serious conditions while three civilians were killed, Monday night, in a direct Israeli attack on another UNRWA school sheltering civilians. According to the UNRWA, the victims in Monday night raid were among over four hundred people, who, earlier in the evening, had fled their homes in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza and had been given refuge in the UNRWA school. These attacks raised the number of victims killed to more than 620 Palestinians and the wounded to about 2,750 since Israel started its aggression two weeks ago. UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna strongly denounced Israel for targeting the school, describing what happened as a dangerous action.

Jan 5 night shift / UNRWA refugee schools attacked
Sharon in Gaza, International Solidarity Movement 1/6/2009
Evacuated after multiple rocket hits destroyed their home - 8pm: I am due at Al Quds hospital for a Red Crescent shift at 8pm, but as I am finishing up writing with the seaside apartment’s generated electricity, the strangest noise arrives from the sea. It is a whooshing sound like a rocket coming very close; V and I look at each other, look at the seaside window - he pulls his cap lower and leans away from the window, I put my jacket over my head so I can’t see what happens. But instead of finishing with an explosion, the sound decreases again into the distance. It is then repeated several times, and I realise what we are hearing is not rockets, but planes - very loud and incredibly fast, making me think of the term supersonic, if that even means anything outside of comics.

Palestinian Chief Justice Sheikh At-Tamimi accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Jerusalem – Ma’an – The chief justice of Palestine’s highest court accused Israel of ethnic cleansing in its "bloody massacre" in Gaza in a Tuesday statement. Chief Justice Sheikh Dr Taysir At-Tamimi, who is also the head of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s judiciary, said Israel is committing a "massacre" in Gaza “in front of the entire world. ” He called it a “a dishonor for the international community to remain silent. " "Israeli troops are assaulting Palestinians and targeting residents, children and mothers. . . and it was all planned by Israel," he added. At-Tamimi confirmed that the PLC calls for the immediate stop of the massacre, and will defend Gazans with all the political and financial support it can provide.

IDF: Hamas militants fired shells from inside UN school
Amos Harel Amira Hass Avi Issacharoff and Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
The Israel Defense Forces bombed an UNRWA school in Gaza yesterday after militants fired mortars at troops from inside the school, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said last night. The bodies of militants were found inside, it added. Yesterday afternoon, three shells hit Fakhura, a girls elementary school near the Jabalya refugee camp, according to UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness. At least 30 people were killed and 55 wounded, 15 of them seriously, and UNRWA fears the death toll will rise. Fakhura, like many other UNRWA schools, was serving as a refuge for people who had been forced to flee their homes. This comes on a day when one IDF soldier was killed and 14 were wounded in Gaza fighting. "The initial examination conducted with forces operating in the area shows that mortar shells were fired from within the school at IDF forces.

IDF: Mortars fired from bombed school
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/6/2009
While UN spokesman reports at least 30 casualties from attack near UNRWA school in Jabalya, army claims strike targeted terrorists firing mortar shells from structure moments earlier -Global news agencies have decried the Israel Defense Forces strike near a United Nations school in Gaza on Tuesday, in which dozens were killed, and Palestinian sources said the casualties were mostly civilians. The Israeli army, however, claimed that terrorists were firing mortar shells from the school just moments before the strike. The IDF stated that a number of Hamas gunmen were inside the school, among them Imad and Hassan Abu-Askar, who are known to the IDF as Hamas operatives. Palestinian sources reported that at least 40 civilians were killed in the strike on the school, which belongs to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Israel hits UN-run Gaza schools
Middle East Online 1/6/2009
GAZA - Israeli tanks and troops surged into towns across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday striking three UN-run schools killed at least 45 people sparking urgent new ceasefire calls. Troops fought Hamas fighters around the back alleys of Gaza’s main city in the heaviest fighting of the 11-day-old offensive aimed at halting rocket attacks, but Hamas still made its deepest rocket strike yet into Israel. As the Palestinian death toll hit 635, Arab nations pressed for a UN Security Council resolution condemning the onslaught, but Israel rejected ceasefire calls by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other leaders. The United Nations demanded an investigation after tank and air assaults hit three UN-run schools -- killing at least 45 people who had taken shelter in one at the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza. Earlier, two people were killed when an artillery shell slammed into. . .

’40 killed at UN school’ in Gaza
Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters, The Independent 1/6/2009
Israeli tank shells killed at least 40 Palestinians today at a UN school where civilians had taken shelter, medical officials said, in carnage likely to boost international calls for a halt to Israel’s Gaza offensive. An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was looking into information on the incident at al-Fakhora school in Jabalya refugee camp. People cut down by shrapnel lay in pools of blood on the street. Witnesses said two Israeli tanks shells exploded outside the school, killing at least 40 civilians - Palestinians who had taken refuge there and residents of nearby buildings. In a separate attack earlier in the day, three Palestinians were killed in an airstrike on another school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The deaths raised to 75 the number of Palestinian civilians killed on Tuesday alone, according to medical officials.

Three more Palestinians die in hospital of wounds from Israeli air and ground strikes
Ma’an News Agency 1/6/2009
Bethlehem/Gaza - Ma’an - Three Palestinians died of wounds sustained in Israeli air and naval strikes Tuesday. In Egypt, 12-year-old Sulaiman Baraka from Gaza City died at As-Salam Hospital in Cairo of wounds he sustained on New Year’s Eve. In a second Egyptian hospital 20-year-old Eyhab Al-Harrazin from the Shuja’iyya neighborhood in Gaza City succumbed to his wounds sustained at the start of the ground invasion of Gaza. Sources at Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City said a member of the Samuni family died of wounds sustained on Monday. [end]

Delegation of Muslim religious scholars meets resistance leaders
Palestinian Information Center 1/6/2009
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- A delegation of the international union of Muslim religious scholars led by Dr. Yousef Al-Qaradawi met on Monday in Damascus with Palestinian resistance leaders during which the delegates tabled the idea of their Arab and Islamic tour. Hamas in a press release said that the delegation members said that they absolutely backed the Palestinian people in face of the Israeli occupation forces’ aggression It added that their tour, which carried them to Qatar, Saudi Arab and Syria so far, would rally Arab and Muslim support for the Gaza Strip in face of the IOF attacks. The statement noted that Khaled Mishaal, the political bureau chairman of Hamas, appreciated the delegation’s efforts in a statement on behalf of the resistance leaders attending the meeting. He asked the scholars to continue in their efforts to mobilize the Arab and Islamic masses in support of the Palestine cause.

Hundreds gather in Tel Aviv to support IDF
Sharon Navot, YNetNews 1/7/2009
’This is my country and those are my brothers fighting there. It’s important to come here and support them,’ says one demonstrator present at Tel Aviv Museum rally - Hundreds of people gathered at the entrance of the Tel Aviv Museum Tuesday to voice their support for the Israel Defense Forces and the residents of the south. Shlomo Amar, the Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel, said a prayer on stage and those present repeated it. "This is my country and those are my brothers fighting there. It’s important to come here and support them," one demonstrator said. Ronen Shoval, one of the organizers of the event, was cheered by the massive turnout. "When things get tough we know how to unite," he said. "I hope this unity remains after the war. " Shiri Weisman, who showed up to support her brother currently in Gaza, said her family hadn’t heard from him in a few days.

Jewish and Arab students clash on Gaza offensive
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 1/6/2009
Violent altercations broke out Tuesday between Jewish and Arab students at universities in Jerusalem and Haifa over Israel’s offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. A scuffle broke out at the campus of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem after Arab students protested against the operation of the Israel Defense Forces in the coastal strip, while Jewish and Arab Students also clashed at Haifa University. At least 10 protesters were arrested, including the chair of the Arab student union. Officials at Haifa University said the protest against Israel was not pre-approved by the faculty, and therefore had to be dispersed with force. The Arab student union said in response that the university was engaging in intimidation.

NY rally cries out against Hamas
Relly Cohen, YNetNews 1/7/2009
Demonstration in support of IDF gathers before Israeli Consulate in Manhattan, calling for end to terror through defeat of Hamas - NEW YORK - Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday on the front lawn of the Israeli Consulate in New York in order to show their support for Israel and the IDF in its fight agains Hamas in Gaza. The demonstration was held under tight police supervision, and speeches were made by the heads of the Jewish community. Participants carried Israeli flags and pictures of the Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza, and called for the halt of Hamas’ terror and peace in the Middle East. Among the demonstrators were Jews, Christians, and even Indian-Americans, as well as members of Jewish organizations such as Students for Peace in the Middle East and Mothers against Terrorism.

Algiers to help unify Palestinians
Middle East Online 1/6/2009
ALGIERS - Algeria will try to help unify Palestinians ahead of a possible Arab summit to support conflict-torn Gaza, Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci said Monday. Should an Arab summit take place, "Algiers first must consolidate unity among Palestinians," Medelci told Algerian radio as cited by the APS news agency. They are divided notably between supporters of Hamas, in the Gaza Strip, and the Fatah movement of president Mahmud Abbas in the West Bank. Medelci suggested a possible summit -- an idea floated by the emir of Qatar -- could lead to those Arab states with diplomatic ties with Israel suspending or even breaking them off. But, he added, "it is up to these Arab countries to take these decisions" individually. Mauritania, Jordan and Egypt have full diplomatic ties with Israel, while other Arab states have less formal relations.

Hamas executes 6 suspected collaborators
Ali Waked, YNetNews 1/7/2009
Palestinian group puts to death six men suspected of delivering information to IDF, guiding IAF warplanes - Six Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel have been executed in the past two days by Hamas security officers in the fighting zone in Jabalya, Ynet has learned. Among the alleged collaborators were three brothers, one of whom attempted before his arrest to swallow a cell phone’s SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card, which is believed to have documented his conversations with Israeli security officials. Ynet has learned that in recent days Hamas reached the suspects in the area where Israeli ground forces have been operating and where air strikes continue simultaneously. An eyewitness said that among the dead were three brothers executed on the street. Palestinians organization members and security sources in the Strip confirmed the report.

Harel Finance sees very large budget deficit in 2009
Yossi Nissan, Globes Online 1/6/2009
Operation Cast Lead added a burden to an already tenuous outlook for the year. In its weekly macroeconomic survey, Harel Finance Ltd. says that Operation Cast Lead has added a burden to an already tenuous outlook for the year. The operation, especially with the launch of ground operations and the call-up of thousands of IDF reservists, is creating significant budget challenges. It adds that the budget situation appears grimmer than before the launch of the campaign. Harel Finance says that the 2009 budget deficit is liable to greatly exceed the 2003 record of 5. 3% of GDP, and reach levels last seen in the mid-1980s, before the economic stabilization plan. Such a large budget deficit is liable to increase Israel’s fiscal risk premium and increase long-term bond yields. Harel Finance adds, "At the very least, in order to finance such. . . "

Bank of Israel estimates zero fourth quarter growth
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 1/6/2009
Nonetheless, cumulative information indicates a significant decline in Israel’s economic activity. The Bank of Israel estimates that GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2008 was zero, and it predicts 1. 5% growth for 2009. If the IMF and the OECD again revise their growth forecasts for the US and EU, and the Bank of Israel may be forced to again lower its 2009 growth forecast for Israel. At a memorial service for Amiram Sivan at Tel Aviv University yesterday, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Israel Zvi Eckstein said, "The financial crisis currently hitting the global economy finds the Israeli economy in excellent macro-economic shape. Nonetheless, cumulative information indicates a significant decline in Israel’s economic activity. The worsening global crisis is directly affecting Israeli exports and the cost and amount of credit for the business sector.

Industry Minister Yishai seeks diamond industry aid plan
Avi Shauly, Globes Online 1/6/2009
Eli Yishai: It’s very important to ensure that the Israeli diamond industry will continue to be number one in the world. Israel Diamond Exchange president Avi Paz yesterday asked Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Eli Yishai to intercede with the Ministry of Finance to include the diamond industry in the government’s credit allocation plan. Paz is seeking a proportionate share of the credit for the diamond industry. The diamond industry is struggling with a severe slump in sales and collapse of prices caused by the global crisis. Many diamond merchants are stuck with inventory and heavy debts due for repayment. Paz said, "Inclusion of the diamond industry in the aid plan will greatly facilitate our dealings with the banks. It’s important to bear in mind that the diamond industry is a critical support of Israel’s exports, and it is. . .

IDF fatalities
Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
Capt. Jonathan Netanel, 27, Kedumim - Capt. Jonathan Netanel, 27, Kedumim - Netanel, a deputy commander of a paratroops company, was killed Monday night in the Gaza Strip, most likely due to friendly fire. Netanel studied at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and later at a preparatory school in Eli. As a conscript he joined Maglan, a long-range commando unit, and then transferred to the Paratroops Brigade. Netanel married Ziona a year ago. Three months ago, their first child, Ma’ayan, was born. The family lived in Kedumim. His widow said that on the eve of the ground offensive, she visited him at Sha’ar Hanegev, where his unit was waiting for orders. "I spoke with him and he told me, ’I’ll be back and everything will be all right. ’ He was only afraid about being away from Ma’ayan. " Netanel was buried in the military cemetery on Mt.

’You’ll be proud of me, yet’ slain IDF soldier told family before entering Gaza
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
Six Israel Defense Forces soldiers have been killed since Israel began its ground offensive in the Gaza Strip on Saturday. Staff Sergeant Dvir Emanueloff was the first IDF casualty in Gaza, killed in an operation on the eve of the army’s ground offensive. The other five soldiers, killed Monday and Tuesday while on patrol in Gaza, were Cpl. Yosef Muadi, Maj. Dagan Vertman, Staff Sergeant Nitai Stern, Capt. Jonathan Netanel, and Staff Sergeant Alexander Mashkvitzki. Staff Sgt. Alexander Mashvitzky, 21, of Be’er Sheva Alexander Mashvitzky immigrated to Israel with his family from the Soviet Union in 1991. He celebrated his 21st birthday two months ago. "He was totally into the army. If I were to say he was ’salt of the earth,’ it would be an injustice," a friend of Alexander’s, Gal Sasportas, said Tuesday.

The IDF’s Golani Brigade: Always first on the scene at the front line
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
At the eye of the Gaza storm is the Golani Brigade. Golani is currently operating in the sector in which the IDF has seen the toughest battles with Hamas, the eastern part of Gaza City. Two days ago, Staff Sgt. Dvir Emanueloff of the brigade? s engineering company was killed in action, and last week an ammunition NCO, Lutfi Nasereldeen, was killed by a mortar on an army base near the Strip. Golani has a complex image within the IDF. On one hand, it is known as a brigade that struggles with no small number of disciplinary problems and scandals, caused by bad behavior ranging from revolts against commanders to abuse of Palestinians. On the other hand, whenever the army finds itself taking on missions demanding determination, verve and esprit de corps, Golani is among the first brigades it calls.

6th soldier killed in Gaza operation
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/6/2009
Cleared for publication: Combat Engineering fighter Alexander Mashvitzky dies, four other troops lightly injured as terrorist cell opens fire at IDF force patrolling northern Strip; force fires back, hits gunmen - The Israel Defense Forces cleared for publication on Tuesday evening that another soldier was killed Tuesday morning and four others were lightly injured in an IDF patrol in northern Gaza. The fallen soldier was identified as Staff Sergeant Alexander Mashvitzky, 21, of Beersheba. The soldier’s family was notified of his death. This was the fifth soldier killed in the past 24 hours and the sixth dead since the start of the ground operation in Gaza. The incident took place shortly after 10 am. A combined force of Golani and Combat Engineering fighters was patrolling the northern part of Gaza City when a terrorist cell hiding nearby opened fire at them. The force fired back and hit some of the gunmen.

10 IOF troops killed and 30 others wounded
Palestinian Information Center 1/6/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- At least 10 IOF soldiers were killed and 30 others were wounded, Monday night, when Qassam fighters lured them in a trap. Qassam sources told PIC correspondent that the fighters managed to lure a group of infantry elite soldiers into a booby-trapped building in the northern Gaza Strip, detonated the explosives planted in the building and clashed with the soldiers until helicopters arrived and bombed the area around the building to evacuate the dead and injured soldiers. The Qassam Brigades which confirmed theses figures said it will publish the details of this special operation later. The Qassam Brigades spokesman had earlier warned IOF troops that they will be met with stiff resistance and "will not leave the Gaza Strip in one piece. "Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation military has admitted to the death of 3 soldiers and the wounding of 24 others in friendly fire.

Fifth Israeli soldier killed in Gaza
AP, The Independent 1/6/2009
Israel’s military says a soldier has been killed in Gaza, the fifth to die since the beginning of a ground offensive in the territory. The military statement today says prelimary reports show the paratroops officer was killed by Israeli fire late yesterday. Three other soldiers were killed in a separate incident yesterday, apparently by an Israeli tank shell fired by mistake. Gaza’s crowded urban landscape increases the likelihood of so-called "friendly fire" incidents. Another soldier was killed in a gunbattle Sunday. The soldiers’ deaths were the first significant losses suffered by Israel’s military since it began an offensive against Hamas. Airstrikes began on 27 December, and a ground offensive began Saturday night. The military says it has killed over 100 Palestinian fighters.

IDF paratrooper killed, possibly by friendly fire
Globes' correspondent, Globes Online 1/6/2009
Earlier, three IDF soldiers were killed when a tank shell hit a building where they were operating against Hamas. An IDF paratrooper was killed last night in Gaza. The army is investigating whether he was killed by friendly fire. Separately, friendly fire killed three IDF troops in the northern Gaza Strip last night, killing three of them and wounding 23 others, including the Brigade commander. The Golani Brigade commander, Colonel Avi Peled, oversaw the evacuation in the field. Only after all those injured were evacuated did the brigade commander seek medical attention for himself. This morning, a Grad rocket fired by Hamas landed near a house in Gedera. A three month old baby was injured lightly, and two people were treated for shock.

Al-Qaida No. 2 slams Obama for failing to stop IDF offensive in Gaza
Haaretz Service and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
Al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader lashed out at President-elect Barack Obama in a new audio message Tuesday, accusing him of not doing anything to stop Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip, according to an intelligence monitoring center. The recording purportedly by Ayman al-Zawahiri was al-Qaida’s first comments on the Gaza crisis since Israel launched its offensive against the Islamic militants of Hamas on Dec. 27. In the comments, which were posted on a militant Web site and obtained by the SITE Monitoring Service, al-Zawahiri described Israel’s actions in Gaza as a "crusade against Islam and Muslims" and called it "Obama’s gift to Israel" before he takes office later this month. "This is Obama whom the American machine of lies tried to portray as the rescuer who will change the policy of America," al-Zawahiri said, according to SITE.

Zawahiri urges attacks on Israeli, Western targets
Reuters, YNetNews 1/6/2009
In internet message, al-Qaeda’s second-in-command calls on Muslims to ’hit the interests of the Zionists and crusaders wherever and in whichever way you can’ in response to Israeli operation in Gaza -Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, in an internet message, called on Muslims on Tuesday to strike Western and Israeli targets around the world over Israel’s raids on the Gaza Strip, and accused US President-elect Barack Obama of complicity. " Hit the interests of the Zionists and crusaders wherever and in whichever way you can," Ayman al-Zawahiri said in an audio tape posted on Islamist websites. "What you are facing now. . . is a link in a chain in the Zionist crusader campaign on Muslims and Islam," Zawahiri said. "These attacks are Obama’s present to you (Palestinians) before he takes office.

Turkey holds suspicious Iran-Venezuela shipment
Associated Press Published, YNetNews 1/6/2009
Turkish customs discovers lab equipment capable of producing explosives in shipment of 22 containers labeled ’tractor parts’ traveling from Iran to Venezuela -Turkey was holding a suspicious shipment bound for Venezuela from Iran because it contained lab equipment capable of producing explosives, a customs official said Tuesday. Suleyman Tosun, a customs official at the Mediterranean port of Mersin, said military experts were asked to examine the material, which was seized last month, and decide whether to let the shipment to go to Venezuela. Authorities detected the equipment during a search of 22 containers labeled "tractor parts," Tosun said. They were brought to Mersin by trucks from neighboring Iran, he said. Turkey’s Interior Ministry said an investigation was under way. " Experts from Turkey’s Atomic Institute determined there were no traces. . .

Former Mossad head: I’m worried about banking system
Anat Cohen, Globes Online 1/6/2009
Ephraim Halevy said that Stanley Fischer is a shining star in the eyes of the public. Former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy, who now heads the Shasha Center for Strategic Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has voiced concern over the high salaries paid to senior bank executives in Israel and praised Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer. Halevy said, "Leading a military operation like the present war very much sharpens the line between a ’manager’ and a ’leader. ’ In contrast to a ’manager’ a ’leader’ knows how to rise above the routine and the present, and perceive what will happen the day after the war. He determines schedules and ways out of the operation, examines himself, and that he is not locked onto a predetermined plan, while ignoring reality, stops to question assumptions, and has enough internal strength to absorb criticism.

Compensation dispute for war-affected firms
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 1/6/2009
Government and industry argue over the effects of the economic slowdown versus the effects of the fighting on the south. At a meeting yesterday, the Ministry of Finance, Manufacturers Association of Israel and Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) reached a deal on compensation for employees of war-affected companies, but failed to agree on a formula for compensation for enterprises. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that the dispute is over a mechanism that differentiate the effect of the economic slowdown from the effect on revenue of the fighting against Hamas in Gaza. The Ministry of Finance argues that a considerable portion of the decline in enterprises’ revenue and profits in the affected region is due to the decline in economic growth and consumption caused by the slowdown, and that the state should not compensation. . .

Bank of Israel lets war-affected families exceed overdrafts
Avi Temkin and Eran Peer, Globes Online 1/6/2009
Banks regulator: There is no problem at the moment, and there is even a decline in the number of returned checks. Supervisor of Banks Rony Hizkiyahu yesterday announced banking measures to help war-affected families in the south. The measures are a direct consequence of lessons learned from 2006 Second Lebanon War. The Bank of Israel relaxed Directive 325 that forbids individuals from exceeding credit frameworks. Private customers who reside in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip will be allowed to exceed their overdraft limit by NIS 5,000, instead of NIS 1,000. Business customers will be allowed to exceed their overdraft limits by 10%. Hizkiyahu also relaxed regulations applying to bounced checks. "There is no problem at the moment, and there is even a decline in the number of returned checks," he noted.


Articles


Death is in the Air
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 1/6/2009
      Israel’s decision to utilize banned weapons in the massacre of Gaza highlights their willingness to achieve their objective at any human cost.
     Since the ground Invasion began three days ago, the Israeli ‘Defense’ Forces (IDF) have employed Weaponized white phosphorous over large civilian areas of the Gaza Strip as a way to produce ’a great deal of smoke that blinds the enemy so that (IDF) forces can move in’.
     This is of course in contravention to the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons of 1980, which bans the use of incendiary devices against personnel in densely inhabited civilian areas.
     Here’s why.
     When white phosphor is deployed in munitions, the chemical flakes burst into flames the moment they make contact with oxygen, and continue to burn incessantly until completely consumed.
     It causes extremely painful 2nd and 3rd degree burns to the exposed skin of victims, and depending on the size of flakes, often eats directly through clothing. While eating through the skin, white phosphor enters into the blood stream where it wreaks havoc on the liver, kidney and heart – sometimes leading to multi-organ collapse.
     The smoke and powder residue of the chemical does not often kill, but intense exposure to the smoke can cause severe respiratory damage and even death. If milligrams of the substance are ingested the result is often deadly.

Israel attacks schools, ambulances

Mel Frykberg, Electronic Intifada 1/6/2009
      RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - At least 42 Palestinians sheltering in a UN school in the Jabaliya refugee camp near Gaza City were killed Tuesday afternoon after two Israeli tank shells exploded outside the school.
     Hundreds of terrified Palestinians, desperately trying to escape the bombing, had sought shelter there assuming that a clearly marked school would not be targeted. Palestinian sources reported that the school was one of 26 residential buildings hit Tuesday.
     Another UN facility, the al-Shouka School in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, was bombarded Monday night.
     The UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) said that prior to the current fighting it had given the Israeli authorities the GPS co-ordinates of all its installations in Gaza, including the schools. The organization has demanded an explanation from Israel, and called for an investigation.
     "There’s nowhere safe in Gaza. Everyone here is terrorized and traumatized," said John Ging, the UN head in Gaza. He blamed the international community for allowing the violence to continue.

Two schools housing refugees shelled in bloodied Gaza

Press release, Al Mezan, Electronic Intifada 1/6/2009
      1pm Gaza Time (+2hrs GMT) The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has further escalated its attacks against the Gaza Strip, massacring civilians. Air raids continued to target dozens of houses and border areas. Last night air raids targeted repeatedly targeted security installations that had been targeted during the past days. At the same time, artillery shells and missiles destroyed dozens of homes, wiping out entire families and seriously raising civilian casualties. Today, the IOF shelled an UNRWA [the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees] school that was inhabited by 600 civilians who had to evacuate their homes in northern Gaza, killing six people. IOF attacks caused damage to two hospitals and destroyed the Civil Defence station in Rafah. Between 2:30pm yesterday and 1pm today, IOF attacks killed 96 people. At least 22 were children and seven were women.
     Attacks have particularly targeted Gaza City and the areas close to the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel in the northern suburbs of Beit Lahia and the eastern areas of Beit Hanoun, Jabaliya, Gaza City and al-Bureij refugee camp.

Shell-shocked children who are drawn into the cult of the martyr

Hazem Balousha in Gaza City and Chris McGreal, The Guardian 1/7/2009
      The bombing, shelling and shooting will stop one day. The electricity and water will be restored. And the windows of the Mousa family’s flat, every one of them blown out by Israeli air force strikes on the Palestinian president’s palace next door, will be replaced.
     But the trauma of the four Mousa children, aged three to nine years old, will not so easily be erased. For nearly two weeks now they have endured a constant barrage of shells from navy ships they can see through the plastic now covering the windows of their seafront flat in Gaza city, as well as the air force strikes on buildings nearby.
     "The children scream and cry when there’s shelling. It goes on all night," said their father, Raed, 35. "Every night, all night. The building shakes. We moved into the kitchen and sleep there. It’s the safest place in the house. But my children are very scared, their faces turn yellow. The sound of the guns is very loud. We try to keep them busy playing and with their toys."
     Their mother, Ahlan, is pregnant. "I look at them at night when they are sleeping and they are dreaming bad dreams. Safud [aged four] jumps from her bed screaming and crying," she said. "All the time they are shelling. It’s terrifying. I don’t know what to tell the children. I say the sound is loud but it is still far away. But I can see they are afraid and that makes me afraid."

Israel’s fabricated rocket crisis

Jim Holstun and Joanna Tinker, Electronic Intifada 1/6/2009
      Monthly distribution of mortar shells The graphs show that the total number of rocket and mortar attacks shrank from 245 in June to 26 total for July through October, a reduction of 97 percent. Even this was not enough for Israel, which violated the truce by imposing a terror-famine in Gaza for most of these months. But despite these violations, Hamas refrained from launching rockets until Israel definitively cancelled the truce on the night of 4-5 November by sending an Israeli commando squad into Gaza, where it killed six Hamas members. Hamas responded with 30 rockets.
     These charts proved too revealing for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On the night eve of 4 January 2008, as Israeli occupation forces launched a ground assault on Gaza, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs removed them from its website, substituting an almost illegible graph in which the labels obscure the data, while the caption does all it can to hide the de facto end of rocket and mortar fire during the calm, until 4 November.

Where would you go?

Eva Bartlett in Gaza, International Solidarity Movement 1/6/2009
      If your unbelievably small and overcrowded land was being terrorized, pulverized by bombs from the world’s 4th largest military, and your borders were closed; if your house was not safe, mosque (church) not safe, school not safe, street not safe, UN refugee camp not safe"¦Where would you go, run, hide?
     Over 15,000 have been made homeless, internal refugees from Israel’s house-bombings, shelling, and shooting. Some have been housed in UN schools around Gaza. In Jabaliya today, Israeli warplanes bombed one such school. Shifa’s director conservatively estimates 40 dead, 10s injured. It must be higher. I will go to the recieving hospital and look at the mutilated survivors, maybe see the corpses come in. Then I will tell and show you, if I’m not bombed.

Hamas Ill-Defined Strategy

Moataz Fattah, Middle East Online 1/5/2009
      Some of the comments made by Hamas leaders reveal a bewildered strategic vision or lack thereof. Ostensibly, Hamas is ready to endure intolerable costs to achieve ill-defined goals. Mr. Ismail Haniya, the former prime minister, declared that: “The Israeli aggression will not achieve its goals even if it fully destroys Gaza strip and leaves no Palestinian alive. Hamas will not give in.” Other Hamas leaders have been singing the same tune. Strategically, political actors are expected to determine, implicitly or explicitly, their goals and the accessible political resources needed to achieve these goals at a reasonable cost. Yet, Hamas leaders are ready to sacrifice everything so as not to recoil. This position is a matter of ideology rather than of strategy. And in both accounts, it adopts an enigmatic position.
     To obviate being criticized for not respecting Hamas’ Islamist agenda, I would remind them of several incidents in which Prophet Mohamed signed treaties with adversaries to obviate war, and commended Khalild ibn al-Walid when he retreated with his army from a disproportionate battle against the Romans. Even Saladin did not prematurely jump into war with the Crusaders in the Middle Ages. It took him seventeen years to prepare for the battle. Thus, even by Islamic standards, Hamas is not at leisure of taking positions that would eventually cause all of this damage.

How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe

Avi Shlaim, The Guardian 1/7/2009
      Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state’s legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions
     The only way to make sense of Israel’s senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel’s vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration’s complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.
     I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times.

Why do they hate the West so much, we will ask

Robert Fisk, The Independent 1/7/2009
      So once again, Israel has opened the gates of hell to the Palestinians. Forty civilian refugees dead in a United Nations school, three more in another. Not bad for a night’s work in Gaza by the army that believes in "purity of arms". But why should we be surprised?
     Have we forgotten the 17,500 dead -- almost all civilians, most of them children and women -- in Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon; the 1,700 Palestinian civilian dead in the Sabra-Chatila massacre; the 1996 Qana massacre of 106 Lebanese civilian refugees, more than half of them children, at a UN base; the massacre of the Marwahin refugees who were ordered from their homes by the Israelis in 2006 then slaughtered by an Israeli helicopter crew; the 1,000 dead of that same 2006 bombardment and Lebanese invasion, almost all of them civilians?
     What is amazing is that so many Western leaders, so many presidents and prime ministers and, I fear, so many editors and journalists, bought the old lie; that Israelis take such great care to avoid civilian casualties. "Israel makes every possible effort to avoid civilian casualties," yet another Israeli ambassador said only hours before the Gaza massacre. And every president and prime minister who repeated this mendacity as an excuse to avoid a ceasefire has the blood of last night’s butchery on their hands. Had George Bush had the courage to demand an immediate ceasefire 48 hours earlier, those 40 civilians, the old and the women and children, would be alive.

Peace strike, now

Daphna Golan, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
      Because of the rocket fire, all the academic institutions in the south of Israel are shut, and because of the war, thousands of students have been called up. But outside the line of fire, college and university studies are continuing as usual, as though there were no war.
     The students’ fight against the tuition increase, the lecturers’ struggle over their salaries, and the battle of the institutions of higher education over budgets - all were good reasons for repeated strikes over the past two years. But now, when - over a few days of an unnecessary and cruel war - hundreds of people have been killed and a fortune has been wasted that could certainly compete with the annual higher education budget, no one is talking about a strike.
     There should have been a strike. There should have been a strike after Gilad Shalit was captured, to tell the government that we will not carry on with life as usual until he is returned. Speak to Hamas, we should have said, lead us to reconciliation. But we didn’t go on strike, because they told us there was contact with the captors and that the government was doing everything it could; they told us the army and the Shin Bet security service knew what they were doing and that there was no alternative, because only by force can we bring back our captured soldiers. And even after the Second Lebanon War, which sowed death, destruction and hatred - but didn’t bring back the captives - we didn’t strike.

There wouldn’t have been Gaza rockets without the blockade

Deborah Orr, The Independent 1/7/2009
      Tony Blair, the Middle East envoy, reckons that a ceasefire in Gaza could be negotiated very soon, provided that the tunnels from Egypt that provide the territory with, among other things, smuggled weapons, are closed off. It’s a shame that he did not express his ambitions in another way. Perhaps a ceasefire could be negotiated very soon if legitimate channels for the import of all goods except arms into Gaza were opened up.
     Such a suggestion, however, might be seen as critical of Israel’s own perceived position as a reluctant aggressor and defensive state. The international community has completely accepted Israel’s justification for its attack on Gaza, so much so that all of its spokespeople are careful not to refer to any Israeli action that can be viewed as provocative, such as its suffocating 18-month long blockade on that tiny, overpopulated strip of land.
     Supporters of Israel’s action are fond of reiterating Israel’s narrow justification for its action. Who else would put up with regular rocket attacks from a neighbour, it asks? No one suggests that they would be happy to. It is accepted that Israel has the right to defend itself, and so it should be. Yet few would acquiesce without protest to a swingeing two-year blockade by a neighbour either, though no Western leader ever seems seriously to ask that highly pertinent question.

Lucky my parents aren’t alive to see this

Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 1/7/2009
      What luck my parents are dead. Back in 1982 they could not stand the noise of the Israeli jet fighters flying over the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. The shriek of a plane horrified them in their house in Tel Aviv. We don’t have to see it to know, they said.
     That’s how it was then. And what now, when from me they would have learned about 2-year-old Sham, who climbs nimbly onto the table to look at her sister drawing in her notebook; 5-year-old Tayyib with the space between his front teeth that shows when he smiles; or 6-year-old Carmel with the picture books she loves. The world is exploding around these children, again and again, just five or 10 meters away. For 10 days now, every minute is a minute of fear. Every minute of fear is a minute of death. Multiply that by a million and a half.
     My parents despised all their everyday activities - stirring sugar into coffee, washing the dishes, standing at a crosswalk - when in their mind’s eye they saw, based on their personal experience, the terror in the eyes of children, the desperation of mothers who could not protect their young ones, the moment when a huge explosion dropped a house on top of its inhabitants and a smart bomb struck down entire families. Salmeh’s mother says: "When I wake up [from a restless sleep] I am surprised. I know it’s only by chance that I am alive.

'By choice they made themselves immune'

Saree Makdisi, Electronic Intifada 1/6/2009
      Israel has killed and injured almost 4,000 men, women and children so far in its assault on Gaza; it has entombed whole families together in the ruins of their homes. As I write, news is breaking that Israeli bombs have killed at least 40 civilians huddling in a UN school which they mistakenly thought would be safer than the homes from which Israel’s relentless barrage -- and its deliberately terrorizing "warning" leaflets and prerecorded phone calls -- had already driven them. (I stillhave one of the leaflets the Israelis dropped on besieged Beirut in 1982 and the language is exactly the same -- "flee, flee for your lives!"). Mosques, schools, houses, apartment buildings, have all been brought down on the heads of those inside.
     All this death and destruction comes supposedly in retaliation for rocket attacks that had not inflicted a single fatality inside Israel in over a year. What happened to "an eye for an eye?"
     As horrific as the toll of dead and injured already is, the scale of Israel’s bombing, and its targeting of ambulances and medical and rescue crews -- several doctors and paramedics have been killed or wounded so far -- means that the true totals are actually unknown. Countless numbers of victims have bled to death in the streets or in the ruins of their smashed homes. Calls for help aren’t getting through Gaza’s phone networks, battered to pieces along with the rest of the civilian infrastructure -- its water, sewage, electricity systems, all already crumbling as a result of the years of siege. The victims that are evacuated -- as often, these days, in civilian cars as in the remaining ambulances -- make it to hospitals that are overwhelmed; many will die that might have otherwise been saved.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Blair

Seumas Milne, The Guardian 1/6/2009
      The appointment of Tony Blair as George Bush’s Middle East peace envoy - well, technically, the US-UN-EU-Russian Quartet’s representative - was a masterful stroke of postmodern irony. And his interview on Tuesday morning’s BBC Today programme was a reminder of just how spectacularly unsuited for such a role he really is.
     Speaking from his suite at the American colony hotel in east Jerusalem - a respite from earning £12m a year on the American corporate speachmaking circuit - the old warmonger appeared to be putting the case for an immediate halt to Israel’s bloodbath in the Gaza Strip. But just as in the days when he was Britain’s prime minister, nothing was quite what it seemed.
     Blair had three main points. First, there could be a ceasefire, he said - but only if there was "clear action" to cut off Hamas’s arms and cash supplies through tunnels under the Egyptian border. Second, there had to be Palestinian unity to achieve a Palestinian state - but only "on the right terms". And third, that such a state had to built from the "bottom up" - just as was currently taking place in the northern West Bank, where Palestinians were now "doing" security.

Israel’s Looming Catastrophe

Robert Parry, Middle East Online 1/6/2009
      For the past three decades, Israel has charted a course that invites its own destruction by relying on two risky propositions: first, that it could extend its security perimeter beyond the reach of a devastating missile attack, and second, that it could permanently control the political debate inside its crucial ally, the United States.
     Israel’s current assault on Gaza is only the latest manifestation of this dangerous strategy, but – whether or not Israel succeeds in its stated goal of stopping the launching of short-range Hamas rockets – the more troubling writing for Israel remains on the wall.
     If Israel continues to engender hatred across the Muslim world – and thus feeds the growth of Islamic extremism – eventually some radical government or group will get hold of a missile or some other means of delivering a payload against Tel Aviv that would wreak mass devastation.
     In that event, Israel would almost surely turn to its sophisticated nuclear arsenal and launch a massive retaliatory strike. But to what end? Whatever counter-devastation could be delivered, it would not solve the strategic dilemma facing Israel.

Witnesses to Israel’s war crimes

Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 1/6/2009
      "At about 2am early this morning, a group of Israeli soldiers broke into my house. They began screaming loudly, smashing everything in front of them, destroying the house completely," Nasir Hejo, 38, said on Monday, with a weary face, uncombed hair and bare feet.
     "They shouted at us, forced out of the house. We wanted to move right after they attacked us. They ordered us to move south. Soldiers began shooting at us, killing my 17-old-year," Nasir stated.
     After their flight from their one-story house next to the Tawhid mosque, on the outskirts of Gaza City, Nasir Hejo and 20 family members fled to a school run by the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, in the Nuseirat refugee camp.
     Israel claims to have attacked 1,000 of what it calls "Hamas targets." Independent media, UN aid officials and human rights organizations have documented that most of these attacks struck private homes, mosques, universities, schools, government buildings, police stations and charities. As of 6 January, the death toll from the Israeli attack approached 600 with thousands more injured.

I will tell you how Arafa died

Eva Bartlett writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 1/6/2009
      A good, kind, brave and very funny man was killed on 4 January as he loaded the body of a young civilian killed by the Israeli occupation forces into an ambulance.Emergency medical workers, Arafa Hani Abed al-Dayem (35), and Alaa Ossama Sarhan (21), answered the call to retrieve two friends: Thaer Abed Hammad (19), who was wounded, and his friend Ali (19), who was killed while fleeing shelling by Israeli tanks.
     It was after 8:30am on Sunday and Thaer and Ali were in the Beit Lahia area, located in northwestern Gaza. The area is near the American school that had been bombed the day before, killing a 24-year-old civilian night watchman inside -- tearing him apart and burning everything else that remained.
     Squealing in pain, his right foot amputated and shrapnel lacerations across his back and body, Thaer Hammad explained how his friend Ali was killed. "We were crossing the street, leaving our houses, when the tank fired. There were many people leaving, not just us." Hammad stops his testimony, again squealing with pain.