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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
12 January, 2008

Gazans trapped in no man’s land between fire, farmlands
Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
A number of Palestinians - it is not clear how many - are trapped in small enclaves surrounded by Israel Defense Forces positions in the Gaza Strip’s peripheral farming areas. The soldiers shoot at anyone who tries to leave the enclaves, they said. These people didn’t manage to flee, or decided to stay home when the IDF took over the area. But they never imagined that they would be cut off from their relatives and the nearby towns and villages for so long. Fragmented reports from such enclaves indicate that the beleaguered Palestinians are suffering from an increasing shortage of water, medicines and food. At least in one enclave, east of Jabalya, there is a cancer patient whose medication has run out, Haaretz has learned. Attempts to evacuate diabetics and elderly people from another enclave have failed. IDF troops surrounding the enclaves shoot at anyone who tries to leave.

Knesset committee bans Arab parties from elections
Shahar Ilan and Roni Singer-Heruti, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
The Central Elections Committee (CEC) yesterday banned the Arab parties United Arab List-Ta’al and Balad from running in next month’s parliamentary elections amid accusations of racism from Arab MKs. Both parties intend to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court. Members of the CEC conceded yesterday that the chance of the Supreme Court’s upholding the ban on both parties was slim. Arab faction delegates in the CEC walked out of the hall before the vote, shouting, "this is a fascist, racist state. "As they walked out, CEC deputy chairman MK David Tal (Kadima) and the Arab delegates pushed each other and a Knesset guard had to intervene and separate them. The CEC voted overwhelmingly in favor of the motions, accusing the country’s Arab parties of incitement, supporting terrorist groups and refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

UN Human Rights Council condemns Israel over Gaza op
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
The United Nations Human Rights Council, dominated by Muslim states and their allies, condemned Israel on Monday for "grave violations" of human rights of the people of Gaza. A resolution drafted by Arab, Asian and African countries also called for the urgent dispatch of an international mission to Gaza and called on Israel to cooperate with it. But the non-binding resolution, passed by 33 votes with 13 abstentions and one against, was dismissed by Israel as one-sided and reflecting the "fairytale world" of the 47-member Council, for which the Jewish state is a prime target. The text of the document said the Council "strongly condemns the ongoing Israeli military operations. . . which have resulted in massive violations of human rights of the Palestinian people and systematic destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure. "

Egypt to Hamas: Sign truce or risk collapse of Gaza regime
Ali Waked, YNetNews 1/13/2009
Palestinian sources say Cairo exerting fierce pressure on Hamas movement to accept ceasefire proposal. Egypt warns Islamist group IDF operation will end only after forces enter Gaza City - Egypt has been exerting fierce pressure on Hamas over the past 24 hours to accept its ceasefire proposal, Palestinian sources told Ynet Sunday night. According to the sources, Cairo warned Hamas that should it refuse to accept the proposal the IDF would continue to expand its operation in Gaza, which in effect would mean an end to Hamas’ rule over the coastal enclave it took over in June 2007. A Hamas delegation is currently in Cairo for the ceasefire talks, but it may return to the Strip on Monday. The Egyptian pressure stems from Israel’s preparations for the third phase of Operation Cast Lead, which Cairo said will be launched in the coming days and will conclude only after Israeli forces enter Gaza City.

MIDEAST: Israelis Rain ’Phosphorous Bombs’ Over Gaza
Mel Frykberg, Inter Press Service 1/13/2009
RAMALLAH, Jan 12(IPS) - "There is no doubt that Israel is using phosphorous bombs over Gaza. Israel is flagrantly violating the Fourth Geneva Convention," says Raji Sourani, head of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza. "This is not the first time we have documented Israel using this kind of prohibited weapon against Gaza’s civilian population," Sourani told IPS on phone from Gaza. Human Rights Watch (HRW) confirmed Sourani’s assessment in a statement it released on Friday. Its researchers said they had seen "multiple air-bursts of artillery-fired white phosphorous over Gaza city. " "I’ve been on the border for the last few days watching the Israeli artillery firing white phosphorus shells into refugee camps," Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at HRW told France TV channel 24. Ann Sophie Bonefeld from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Jerusalem was more cautious. -- See also: 1 dead, dozens injured in Gaza by suspected white phosphorus munitions and Gazans fear Israel using phosphorus

Olmert seeks push in Cairo talks before Gaza op enters third stage
Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday sent a message to a number of world leaders that Israel wants to see a diplomatic move through Egypt that would lead to a cessation of arms-smuggling into Gaza, before the Gaza operation enters its third phase. Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met last night to discuss contacts with Egypt. It is still unclear when the Defense Ministry’s security chief, Amos Gilad, will leave for Cairo to discuss ways to stop the smuggling with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. Snags in talks between Egypt and Hamas are reportedly behind the delay. Emissaries from Hamas arrived last night in Cairo for cease-fire talks with Egyptian officials. They are expected to present objections to Egyptian demands but will apparently not reject the Egyptian initiative outright.

Activists abandon Gaza aid mission
Al Jazeera 1/13/2009
Members of a US-based pro-Palestinian group have abandoned their bid to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza after experiencing mechanical problems. The Free Gaza Movement set off from Cyprus on Monday in a new boat named Spirit of Humanity, but were forced to turn back when the boat’s generator failed. Karin Pally, spokeswoman for the group, told the AFP news agency: "The boat is coming back to Larnaca for repair after mechanical trouble during the journey. "The generator failed three hours into the 24-hour trip, forcing the boat to head back to port to the Gaza Strip. The boat has 34 passengers on board, including six doctors and parliamentarians from Greece, Belgium and Spain. They were taking dried food, flour, baby formula, nappies and urgently needed medical supplies.

Gaza rocket strikes Ashkelon home
Yanir Yagna, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired 19 rockets at the western Negev yesterday, one of them scoring a direct hit on a home in the coastal city of Ashkelon. The house’s five residents managed to flee to a bomb shelter before the strike, so there were no casualties. A number of people were treated for shock. Another few rockets were also reported in Sderot and in the central Negev city of Be’er Sheva. Another rocket fired from Gaza exploded in an open field near Kiryat Gat, causing no casualties or damages. The Israel Defense Forces said Sunday that there has been a dramatic drop in the ability of Hamas to launch rockets at Israel. The launches have dropped by 50 percent compared with the first day of Operation Cast Lead, 17 days ago. Bookmark to del. icio. usDigg It!‎ From the bunker Hamas says Gaza won’t break, victory over Israel is near.

The unreported battle with Hamas: psychological warfare
Nir Hasson and Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
Artillery barrages and aircraft missiles are not the only way Israel is communicating with the people of Gaza. Since the start of the conflict, the Israel Defense Forces has tried to wage psychological war on the civilian population. The most common methods include dropping fliers from the air, taking control of Hamas’ radio airwaves and sending mass SMS messages. The army often distributes leaflets warning residents against taking military action or fraternizing with Hamas operatives. The fliers are generally attributed to an ambiguous "IDF force commander" calling on residents to take responsibility for their own fate. They tell them that "rocket launchers and terror elements are a danger to you and your families. If you want to help, all you have to do is call this number and state the location of the rocket launchers and terror cells operating in your area. . . "

Peres: The IDF has never been better trained, as sophisticated
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
President Shimon Peres on Monday toured the army base at Zeelim and met with Israel Defense Forces reservists from the Paratrooper Brigade who are preparing to join the ground invasion in Gaza. Peres spoke with the soldiers after surveying a new training compound that simulates battle in residential neighborhoods such as those in Gaza. "I don’t think we have ever had an army better trained, organized and sophisticated than you," said Peres. "In 16 days, the IDF has done what no other state has done in 16 years? . There is a feeling that we have someone to depend on and that Israel’s deterrence power has returned, and I have come here on behalf of the nation to express deep gratitude for your accomplishments so far and to wish you luck during fighting. " Peres then held a frank discussion with the soldiers, who asked him questions. . .

IDF soldier seriously hurt in Gaza, possibly by friendly fire
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
Four Israel Defense Forces soldiers were wounded on Monday, one of them seriously, as Israeli forces pressed on into the 17th day of an offensive aimed at destroying Hamas terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. The four IDF paratroopers were wounded in an incident in northern Gaza, three of them sustaining minor injuries. The military launched an investigation into the incident, examining the possibility that they were wounded by IDF fire. Meanwhile Monday, a paratroopers unit uncovered a tunnel dug by Hamas militants in Gaza, apparently meant to transfer suicide bombers into Israel. The tunnel was dug from a house some 300 meters from the border fence. IDF forces destroyed the tunnel and paratroopers shot a female would-be suicide bomber who tried to harm the soldiers.

Israeli reservists sent into Gaza
Al Jazeera 1/12/2009
Israel has confirmed sending thousands of army reservists into Gaza, raising concerns that a deadly "third stage" of its offensive - targeting urban centres - could soon begin. And as the offensive entered its 17th day on Monday, Al Jazeera’s Zeina Awad reported from the Israel-Gaza border that Israeli air craft had kept up a sustained bombardment all night and a huge explosion was witnessed over the northeastern part of strip. Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, said his troops were close to meeting their objectives in Gaza, but stopped short of giving a timeline for ending the conflict. The move to send in the reservists comes after Israel called up tens of thousands of its reserve force -- soldiers who had performed their mandatory military service but were no longer. . .

3 troops lightly hurt by gunshots near Hebron
Efrat Weiss Published, YNetNews 1/13/2009
"Terrorists" open fire at military vehicle in Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba. IDF searches village of Jabel Johar, where gunshots are believed to have been fired from - Three Israel Defense Forces soldier were lightly injured Monday night from gunshots fired at a military vehicle in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, near the West Bank city of Hebron. The three were evacuated to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem for medical treatment. The IDF began searching the Hebron village of Jabel Johar, where the gunshots are believed to have been fired from. An inquiry into the incident revealed that four troops had been sitting in an IDF jeep in Kiryat Arba’s industrial zone, when they were suddenly fired on from the village of Jabel Johar. Three of the soldiers were lightly hurt by shrapnel. The fourth soldier was treated at the Kiryat Arba clinic and was not evacuated to the hospital.

Bush: Hamas must stop rocket fire if it wants Gaza truce
Natasha Mozgovaya and Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
U. S. President George W. Bush gave his last press conference at the White House on Monday, 8 days before the inauguration of incoming president Barack Obama, calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, but emphasizing Israel’s right to defend itself. As Israeli troops continued targeting Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip for the 17 day, Bush said that Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel in order for an effective cease-fire to take hold in Gaza and said Israel should avoid harming innocent people there. "Israel has a right to defend herself," the president told reporters at the White House. "Obviously, in any of these kinds of situations I would hope that she would continue to be mindful of innocent folks and that they help expedite the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Israel voices concern over anti-Semitic attacks in Europe
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
Israel expressed its concern Monday over a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe since Israel began its military offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza two weeks ago. Since the operation began Dec. 27, several attacks have been reported against Jews and synagogues in France, Sweden and Britain. In the latest, two firebombs were hurled at a synagogue in a suburb north of Paris. No injuries were reported. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said her government was calling on world leaders to condemn all forms of incitement and hatred and to hold to account those responsible. "We have received with great concern and revulsion many reports of physical, moral, verbal and other manifestations of anti-Semitic attacks towards Jews and Israeli citizens in many parts of the world," Livni said in a written statement.

Hamas’ take on the Gaza war? Watch it on YouTube
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
Hamas has set up a YouTube site showing graphic scenes from the fighting against Israel over the past few days. The militant group also attacks its political rival, Fatah. The site, which can also be reached through a link on the Hamas Web site, contains a number of channels with various categories of clips. One called "nationalist songs" praises suicide bombings against the backdrop of an old terror attack in Tel Aviv. A caption states that 17 Israelis were killed. The site, www. palutube. com, can be accessed in Hebrew and several other languages, but the names of the clips are in English. Some of the footage shows graphic bloodshed, similar to those being shown on Arabic television channels. The most popular clip under the category "resistance factions" was posted on Sunday and has been viewed nearly 3,000 times.

Legal analysis / Proof is required
Ze'ev Segal, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
The decision of the Central Election Committee to disqualify the United Arab List-Ta’al and Balad from running for the Knesset is based mainly on an amendment to the Basic Law on the Knesset from May 2002. The amendment states that a Knesset list may be disqualified if its goals or acts either explicitly or implicitly support the armed struggle of an enemy country or a terror organization against Israel. The law indicates that tangible evidence is needed to prove the support of and identification with the armed struggle against Israel. The disqualification can be appealed before the High Court of Justice. In 2003 the High Court approved, by a majority of seven justices to four, Balad’s participation in the elections. The entire bench ruled in principle that in order to disqualify a party, cause would have to be shown that it is working "on the ground" to realize its goals and that a prohibited goal is the one "governing" it.

Co-defendant in Hirchson case signs plea bargain
Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
Another key figure accused of embezzlement alongside former finance minister Abraham Hirchson signed a plea bargain with the State Prosecutor’s Office. Yitzhak Russo was the director of the National Workers Union, which was associated with the non-profit Nili, from which Hirchson and his associates allegedly embezzled millions of shekels. Russo is expected to be convicted of embezzling NIS 300,000 from Nili, abetting the embezzlement of another NIS 500,000, money laundering, fraud, corporate breach of trust and falsifying corporate documents. Russo is the fifth of the seven defendants in the case to strike a deal with the prosecution, which will ask the Tel Aviv District Court to sentence him to 20 months in prison on Wednesday. Under the deal, Russo’s attorney, Adi Erlich, can ask for any sentence she sees fit.

Taxman takes rerouted flour donated to Gaza
Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
Customs authorities seized 48 tons of flour in sacks at the Tarqumia crossing point into the Gaza Strip, which an Israeli businessman from Rahat had bought from a Palestinian trader in Hebron. The investigation into the unusual shipment found that the flour had come from a donation by the governments of Canada, the U. S. and Japan, as humanitarian aid routed through the UN World Food Program. Imported flour for usual uses is liable for customs tax. The Palestinian businessman who obtained the flour and the Israeli businessman who bought it took advantage of the exemption applicable to humanitarian donations to the Palestinian Authority. How the Palestinian obtained the flour isn’t clear, but Customs points out that the sale by the Palestinian to the Israeli, for full price, clearly isn’t what the flour was donated for. Jerusalem sources have been citing complaints by Palestinians that some donations are being sold instead of reaching their targets.

Number of illegal migrant workers hits 300,000
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
The number of illegal workers in Israel has returned to near 300,000 - figures similar to those before the major wave of deportations at the beginning of the decade, according to Immigration Authority data presented yesterday at a meeting of the Knesset committee on foreign workers. Immigration Authority Director-General Yaakov Ganot said despite the ongoing hostilities in Gaza, a steady stream of migrants continues to flow from Egypt to Israel at the rate of 400-600 a month. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel expressed doubt regarding the accuracy of the statistics. Immigration officials believe 279,900 immigrant workers are currently in Israel, including about 50,000 Jordanians. Some 700 illegal Lebanese workers are currently in the country, many of whom arrived during Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon and did not leave with the 2000 withdrawal.

Worse news for investors - the deficit is mushrooming
Ami Ginsburg, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
Growing government debt affects all financial assets. Here are some of your options to cope when Jerusalem spending skyrockets Officially, the Finance Ministry predicts that its deficit this year will be 1% of gross domestic product. But if we factor in the economic crisis enveloping the planet and mix in a spoonful of war in Gaza, its forecast becomes completely irrelevant. Michael Sarel, the chief economist at Harel Finance, projected last week that the government is likely to run a record deficit of 5. 3%. The ministry still hasn’t formally changed its forecast, but behind closed doors the whisper is that the deficit will run to 5% of GDP this year, if not more. Israeli GDP was about NIS 715 billion in 2008, according to preliminary estimates. Hence, if the government runs a deficit of about 5% of GDP, it will have to raise between NIS 35 billion to NIS 40 billion beyond its original plan.

America-Israel Cultural Foundation in danger of closing after Madoff losses
Noam Ben Ze'ev, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
The Israeli cultural world was shocked to learn that a major supporter of the arts was substantially harmed in the Bernard Madoff scandal. The America Israel Cultural Foundation reportedly lost $30 million of its endowment after it was deposited in what may be the largest investor fraud in Wall Street history. These shockwaves have shaken some people into action. About a dozen of the foundation’s musicians met over the weekend at the home of conductor and pianist Gil Shohat, and decided to launch a campaign asking graduates to help save the foundation. The foundation has given grants to more than 11,000 young artists in the fields of dance, jazz, theater, arts and cinema over its 70-year history. Shohat says that if every grant recipient were to donate something - based on the individual’s ability - the sum could be substantial.

Natural gas detected off Haifa coast
Avi Bar-Eli, Ha’aretz 1/13/2009
Israel could be on the brink of a historic discovery: preliminary tests indicate there’s natural gas n the sandy layer beneath the sea floor at the Tamar offshore drill site, 90 kilometers west of Haifa. Euphoria reigned on the stock exchange yesterday, where shares of companies associated with the undersea exploration shot up. Energy sources are more cautious, noting that what’s been found are indications, not a definite field that can be exploited. This layer of sand is "suspected" of housing chambers saturated with gas. The drill at the Tamar 1 permit site reached 5,000 meters below sea level, where geologists surmise there may be a field with up to 109 billion cubic meters (BCM). Sources caution that the analysis does not mean there really is a large field. They prove only that there is gas at the site.


Articles


Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields
Michel Chossudovsky, Palestine Chronicle 1/9/2009
      Gaza’s offshore marine area is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities.
     The military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves.
     This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline.
     British Gas (BG Group) and its partner, the Athens based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) owned by Lebanon’s Sabbagh and Koury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25 year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.
     The rights to the offshore gas field are respectively British Gas (60 percent); Consolidated Contractors (CCC) (30 percent); and the Investment Fund of the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). (Haaretz, October 21, 2007).
     The PA-BG-CCC agreement includes field development and the construction of a gas pipeline. (Middle East Economic Digest, Jan 5, 2001).
     The BG licence covers the entire Gazan offshore marine area, which is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities. It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine.

The inconvenient truth about Gaza
Curtis Doebbler, Al-Ahram Weekly 1/8/2009
      The foot dragging of Palestinian diplomats in the face of Israel’s Gaza onslaught suggests that for some ending Hamas is more important than ending the violence.
     When a state resorts to the use of force it enters a process wherein the truth is often blurred and intentionally distorted. Israel’s use of force against the Palestinian people in Gaza is a classic example.
     The Israeli government has invented terminology and ideology to claim that it is acting in the cause of self-defence. Indeed, self-defence is a justification for an otherwise illegal act under international law, but only when one state has been attacked by another state. Israel was not attacked by the Palestinian people or even by Hamas.
     Instead, Israel has been for more than 60 years the illegal occupier of Palestinian land and the Palestinian people living on it or forcefully internally displaced. In maintaining this occupation, Israel has ignored dozens of UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions and has created such inhumane conditions for the Palestinian people that these conditions might reasonably be said to be intended to destroy the Palestinian people in whole or in part. Indeed, tens of thousands of Palestinians have been killed either by direct Israeli aggression or by the conditions that have been imposed upon them. Even in the last few months, the inhumane embargo that Israel has imposed on Gaza, which restricted even humanitarian necessities, has been responsible for the deaths of dozens of civilians.

Claiming impartiality, Europe leans towards Israel
David Cronin, Electronic Intifada 1/8/2009
      BRUSSELS (IPS) - In carefully crafted official statements, diplomats have portrayed the European Union as something of an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet even though almost all of the people killed over the past fortnight have been Palestinians, some top-ranking leaders in the 27-country bloc have tacitly offered their support for Israel’s bombing and invasion of Gaza.
     Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, the Union’s largest country, has stated that Hamas "clearly and exclusively" bore responsibility for the fighting because it had fired Qassam rockets on Israel.
     The Czech Republic, which took over the EU’s rotating presidency 1 January, described Israel’s actions in Gaza as "more defensive than offensive." Prague subsequently retracted that remark after it emerged that France, the previous holder of the presidency, had a more nuanced position.
     But while Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, has spent much of this week seeking to secure a truce between Hamas and Israel, he too has been eager to develop closer political and economic ties with the Israeli government.

Israel’s Czech mate
David Cronin, The Guardian 1/10/2009
      If Václav Havel needs inspiration for a new play, he could do worse than study the political farce that has marked the opening days of his country’s first attempt to chair the European Union.
     First, an official spokesman for the Czech Republic deems Israel’s slaughter of Gazan civilians an act of self-defence. Next, the statement has to be retracted when it fails to chime with the message from Paris, which has reluctantly ceded the EU’s presidency to Prague. And then an aristocrat fond of bow ties (Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg) leads a mission aimed at brokering a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. The snag is that "peace" has to be achieved without actually talking to Hamas because it has been designated a terrorist organisation.
     I’m sure that thinktanks will be publishing pamphlets in the coming weeks that accuse the Czechs of damaging the EU’s credibility. None the less, Prague’s patent bias towards Israel is consistent with both its own foreign policy and the direction in which the union has been heading for some time.
     A museum in Prague launched an exhibition a few years ago detailing how weapons made in Czechoslovakia assisted Israel’s "war of independence" in 1948. Known as the "nakbah" or catastrophe to Palestinians, this involved the systematic destruction of Arab villages, with vast numbers of the refugees uprooted fleeing to Gaza.

The Failure of Balance and Objectivity
Pat Bernstein - France, Palestine Chronicle 1/11/2009
      Apart from the humanitarian crises in Gaza, what has failed the entire Western world is the media. Most informed and concerned people have come to accept some of the inequities, injustices, and lack of balance. Any enlightened person knows about Fox News and the abject failure of the New York Times and Washington Post especially on Middle Eastern issues over recent years. However, some failures by all the major Western media have been so blatant and so prolonged, that even the enlightened no longer notice these.
     Let me provide one example of this. The news media constantly draws attention to the rockets ’smuggled’ into Gaza, through tunnels. Indeed, destroying the tunnels is one pretext for the Israeli invasion. Even Tony Blair, the so-called ’Middle East Peace Envoy’ said that cutting off Gaza’s smuggling tunnels could secure an immediate ceasefire (1). The uninformed might easily therefore link the tunnels with illegal arms trafficking. In fact, many well informed and ’liberal’ thinking people I know, never even question the issue of rocket ’smuggling’. However, is that the reality? Is that even the issue the media should be reporting or is this just more Israeli propaganda masquerading as news?

Gaza, and Israel’s Wars of Forced Regime Change
Analysis by Helena Cobban, Inter Press Service 1/10/2009
      WASHINGTON, Jan 9(IPS) - The war that Israel launched on Gaza Dec. 27 is the seventh war of choice Israel has launched against its neighbours since 1973, the last year in which it fought a war that was forced upon it.
     Of the seven wars one -- in Lebanon, 1978 -- had the goal of establishing an Israeli-controlled "security zone" running inside Lebanon’s border with Israel. The other six, including the present war on Gaza, all aimed at imposing a "forced regime change" on Arab communities neighbouring Israel through the violent physical dismantlement of politico-military structures then present in, or on occasion dominating, those societies.
     The five earlier attempts at forced regime change all had interesting -- and quite unintended -- consequences that might have given Israel’s leaders serious pause before they launched the present war.
     The first of those "forced regime change" (FRC) wars was the one Ariel Sharon, as defence minister, planned and launched against the PLO’s structures in Lebanon in 1982. The PLO mounted a spirited defence. But after seven weeks of terrible destruction, pressure from their Lebanese allies forced the PLO leaders to agree to an internationally mediated ceasefire that mandated the evacuation of the entire PLO security force to distant Arab lands.

No going back now
Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly 1/8/2009
      Israel may be seeking to destroy Hamas, but what it is actually doing is destroying any possibility for peace.
     Despite official denials from the Israeli government, the central goal of the Israeli campaign in the Gaza Strip may well be the elimination of the elected Hamas government and the reinstallation in power of the Western- backed Palestinian Authority (PA).
     From a purely military point of view, the removal of the Hamas authority in Gaza is not a particularly difficult task, given the immense superiority of Israeli firepower in comparison to the primitive means of defence that Hamas and all other Palestinian resistance factions possess. In fact, the ongoing Israeli blitz has already seriously weakened the government in Gaza, especially its ability to re-establish a semblance of normal life in the bombed-out coastal enclave and meet the basic needs of its thoroughly ravaged inhabitants.
     Indeed, with Gaza looking very much like Dresden in the closing months of World War II, reverting to the "status quo ante", which by no means was rosy given the harsh Israeli siege, will be too formidable a task for Hamas to tackle alone. In short, the horrific bombing of basic civilian infrastructure, including nearly all public buildings and basic facilities, will make the task of rehabilitating life in Gaza nearly impossible for any normal government, let alone a beaten organisation, strangled by Israel and hated by many in the international community.

’We love the sun. So we sat outside to see the F16s bombing Rafah’
Fida Qishta, The Observer, The Guardian 1/11/2009
      Fida Qishta is a writer and teacher living in Rafah on the Gaza Strip. She is keeping a diary of the Israeli bombardment
     Monday 5 January
     Every night, the Israeli air strikes continue to hit Rafah. The air is full of smoke. At home, we are trying to have a normal life, but it’s not possible. We are scared to death. My dad is terrified, so my sisters and I are trying to be normal, to make him feel better. We talk about stories from the old days, to make him laugh. One of the funniest things we used to ask my father when we were children, when we watched cartoons on the TV, was: "Dad, can we get into the TV?" He’d say: "No, silly, you can’t." Then we’d ask: "How did these other people get into the TV?"
     We didn’t sleep for more than an hour, so many explosions shook our house so strongly. Every 30 or 40 minutes the house is shaken. I feel like everyone is going to die, but I’m trying not to be scared.
     Tuesday 6 January
     I woke up at nine and knew there was still a war going on. No electricity, the phones down, bombing and shooting.

Who will save Israel from itself?
Mark LeVine, Al Jazeera 1/11/2009
      One by one the justifications given by Israel for its latest war in Gaza are unravelling.
     The argument that this is a purely defensive war, launched only after Hamas broke a six-month ceasefire has been challenged, not just by observers in the know such as Jimmy Carter, the former US president who helped facilitate the truce, but by centre-right Israeli intelligence think tanks.
     The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, whose December 31 report titled "Six Months of the Lull Arrangement Intelligence Report," confirmed that the June 19 truce was only "sporadically violated, and then not by Hamas but instead by ... "rogue terrorist organisations".
     Instead, "the escalation and erosion of the lull arrangement" occurred after Israel killed six Hamas members on November 4 without provocation and then placed the entire Strip under an even more intensive siege the next day.
     According to a joint Tel Aviv University-European University study, this fits a larger pattern in which Israeli violence has been responsible for ending 79 per cent of all lulls in violence since the outbreak of the second intifada, compared with only 8 per cent for Hamas and other Palestinian factions.

Palestine: A Fragment – Poems
Noora AL-Malki and Stella Mortazavi, Palestine Chronicle 1/9/2009
      The Palestine Chronicle is pleased to feature the work of two poets, Noora AL-Malki - KSA - and Stella Mortazavi - UK
     Palestine: A Fragment By Noora Al-Malki
     Pity, love, hate and fear
     Get together on a flowery rear.
     The one unto the others did tell
     Of horrible stories; visions of hell.
     Of Pity’s tale there is much to say
     But brethern it suffices to pray
     That never one with eyes could see
     That lad wide streched beneath a tree.
     The skull, so smashed beyond repair,
     Holds a couple of balls ‘gaged in a stare.
     “Look hard upon him”, Pity cried,
     “And you would know what’s real pride.”
     Pride of being dead for a cause
     For which no one besides you rose.
     God bless the soul that still delights
     In defying an evil intent to fight.”

My Name is Palestine – Poems
Rassool Snyman, Palestine Chronicle 1/11/2009
      The Palestine Chronicle is pleased to feature two poems by distinguished South African poet Rassool Snyman
     My name is Palestine
     My name is Palestine
     Heed it and be freed
     From the ravages of oppression
     And fear
     My story is your story
     My pain your pain
     My dream your dream
     My liberation your liberation
     I have wronged none
     But have been wronged
     I have been beaten
     I have been shot
     I have been mutilated
     I have been robbed
     I will not be cowed...