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

VTJP Archives | VTJP 2009
22 January, 2008

Cornering of Civilians Unprecedented, Says UN Official
David Cronin, Inter Press Service 1/23/2009
BRUSSELS, Jan 22(IPS) - Israel’s refusal to allow civilians any exit route from Gaza as its defence forces rained bombs down on schools and houses appears unprecedented in modern warfare, a United Nations investigator has said. Richard Falk, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, described the sealing off of the Gaza Strip in order to ensure that nobody could flee it as "a distinct, new and sinister war crime. " "For the first time in a military operation, the civilian population as a whole has been locked into a war zone," he told a meeting of the European Parliament by telephone. "No children, women, sick people or disabled people were allowed to leave. For the first time, the option of becoming a refugee has been withheld. " Arguing that the conduct of the three-week offensive against Gaza could amount to a "horrible abuse of. . . "

Israeli shell injures seven civilians in Gaza, two die of earlier wounds
Ghassan Bannoura & Rami Al-Meghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/22/2009
Palestinian medical sources announced on Thursday that two Palestinians have died in Egyptian hospitals after succumbing to wounds sustained during the Israeli military offensive on Gaza, which ended on Sunday. The sources said that two residents died at one of Cairo’s hospitals, where they have been receiving life-saving medical care. They were identified as Tamer Allouh, age 22 and Azzam Ashafiy, age 24. The death toll in Gaza mounted to 1,330, while the wounded exceeded 5,000 during a 22-day onslaught on the costal region. Also on Thursday, Israeli Navy forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen just off the shore of Gaza City, injuring seven civilians. The Israeli Army embarked on its military offensive on Saturday, December 27th, 2008. For 22nd days, homes, schools, mosques, UN centers, and media agencies were attacked by Israeli air, sea, and ground forces.

PRC: No change in demands for Shalit deal
Ali Waked, YNetNews 1/22/2009
Palestinian organization’s spokesman says no progress made in kidnapped soldier’s issue. ’The Israelis are wrong if they believe the war will help them pressure us on Shalit’ - The Hamas movement said Thursday that no progress had been made in the talks aimed at securing a deal for the release ofkidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, despite Israeli media reports. A source in the Palestinian organization told Ynet, "If the Israelis want to talk and discuss, they know where, how and with whom, but the people in Israel should know that its government is not doing a thing to advance the issue. " Abu Mujahed, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, also said that there was no news on the Shalit issue. "The Israelis are wrong if they think the war will help them pressure us on Shalit.

Experts: Concerns over Gaza op prosecutions justified
Daniel Edelson, YNetNews 1/22/2009
Israeli legal officials say international lawsuits may indeed ensue Operation Cast Lead. ’Every Israeli involved in the fighting is subject to prosecution anywhere in the world,’ warns top litigator. ’We can sue Hamas for rocket fire,’ adds former deputy JAG - Top Israeli legal experts said Thursday that the recent concerns suggesting Israeli diplomats and military officials may find themselves facing legal action over the Israeli offensive in Gaza were justified. Many human rights groups have already announced they would demand top Israeli officials be tried for war crimes in European courts. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said recently that Israel was preparing for a slew of international lawsuits following Operation Cast Lead; and Jerusalem has even issued a travel advisory for top IDF officials, urging them to refrain from visiting several European countries.

Israeli court backs waste water line through Islamic cemetery
Ma’an News Agency 1/22/2009
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israel’s High Court says a water company can extend a waste line through a historic Islamic cemetery at the entrance of Ramla. The decision rejected a petition filed by the Al-Aqsa Foundation, according to its lawyers. The foundation had argued that the line’s construction should stop long enough for an alternative route to be agreed upon, insisting that workers stop digging in the cemetery until new plans could be arranged. But the court dismissed the motion, saying the Israeli company had taken the necessary precautions. Al-Aqsa disputed the decision, saying the court should have taken the potential for error into account. “This decision is a dangerous incident that opens the door for more violations at Islamic cemeteries,” Al-Aqsa said in a statement. “We reject this decision. "The court approved the water line after the Israeli company offered to extend lines inside the cemetery, claiming that the decision will cause “less harm” to the historic religious site.

UN releases Gaza attack photos
Al Jazeera 1/22/2009
The United Nations has released images of what it believes are white phosphorus munitions raining down on one of its compounds during Israel’s war on Gaza. The pictures, broadcast by Al Jazeera on Thursday, show what appears to be flame-generating munitons, thought to be white phosphorus "wedges", falling into a UN compound in Gaza where hundreds of people were sheltering. Two Palestinian boys, aged five and seven, were killed in the attack on January 17. Israel has said it will investigate the issue, but has not publicly acknowledged using the controversial chemical. Al Jazeera has learnt that a total of 53 installations used by the United Nations Relief and Works agency, Unrwa, were damaged or destroyed during Israel’s Gaza campaign including 37 schools - six of which are being used as emergency shelters - six health centres, and two warehouses. -- See also: Photostory: Israel attacks UN school in Gaza

With crossings still closed, limited capacity to repair hospitals
Fadi Yacoub, Palestine News Network 1/22/2009
PNN -- Al Quds Hospital is waiting for its wounds to heal after being heavily attacked by Israeli forces in the last days of the Israeli operation. Hit by shells, the damage is massive. Windows were shattered, the surgical ward gone, the administration and pharmaceutical buildings destroyed. When Israeli forces opened fire on the hospital it caught fire and 500 patients, refugees and staff were evacuated. Dr. Walid Abu Ramadan, Medical Director of Al Quds Hospital for the Palestinian Red Crescent, said that missiles rained on patients during the worst night of shelling. "We were beyond capacity with people seeking shelter and the sick and wounded. The humanitarian situation was so difficult and still is by any standards. "Dr. Abu Ramadan told PNN on Thursday that the worst was trying to evacuate the children and premature infants.

7 civilians injured by Israeli gunboat in Gaza, 'We won’t accept this any longer'
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 1/22/2009
Ramallah: Mustafa Barghouthi, the Secretary General of the Palestinian National initiative strongly condemns this morning Israeli naval attack on Gaza fishermen. On Tuesday morning, the Israeli navy shelled the Northern shores of the Gaza Strip and opened fire on civilians, injuring 7 Palestinians including 5 fishermen. “This shows once more that Israel’s so-called “withdrawal” as claimed by the Israeli officials and portrayed in the press, is no withdrawal at all. Israel remains in control of the border, land, sea and air of the Gaza Strip and are still continuing in their policy of siege and occupation over Gaza and the West Bank”, stated Mustafa Barghouthi. “The air strikes and ground invasion may have stopped, but we won’t accept the Palestinian daily life to return to previous ‘normality’”, said the Deputy. “That ‘normality’ was a burden heavier than any people could ever carry.

Soldiers shoot boy, approved journalists set to enter Gaza
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/22/2009
Gaza -- Three days after the Israeli administration declared it would cease the major attacks on the Gaza Strip, soldiers shot a child in the head. Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Mubadara party said today that he "rejected Israeli claims that what was happening in the Gaza Strip is a withdrawal. " The Israeli military is not in its center, but do continue to surround the Strip as it has done since the beginning of the occupation four decades ago. Israeli soldiers in eastern Gaza City opened fire on Thursday. The shooting of Ahmed Hassanein with a live bullet in the head is "in a continuation of the violation of the ceasefire unilaterally declared several days ago. " Issa Qaraqa’ of the Palestinian Legislative Council said from a human rights conference in Doha today that the Israeli administration aims to undermine the electorate. . .

Israel’s navy shells Gaza, injuring seven
Ma’an News Agency 1/22/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel’s navy shelled the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, injuring seven Palestinians, including five fishermen. Mu’awiyah Hassanain, the director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry told Ma’an that Israeli gunboats shelled the As-Sudaniya area northwest of Gaza City. He said the wounded people were taken to Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Hassanain added that rescue teams are still working to recover the corpses, many of them now decomposing, of those killed in Israel’s three-week war on Gaza. Separately, two Palestinians died in Egyptian hospitals where they were treated for wounds from Israel’s three-week offensive. Medical officials identified them as: Tamer Omar Al-Louh, 22, from Gaza city and Azzam Mu’awad Ash-Shafe’y, 24, from Rafah.

Fatah armed group: We will respond to Israeli attacks if they continue
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/22/2009
Palestinian resistance group, al-Aqsa brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, announced on Tuesday that they are willing to respond to the Israeli violations of the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Today, Israeli naval boats shelled the Palestinian shore line near Gaza, injuring seven people, on Wednesday the boat’s shells landed in open areas. The group, in its press statement, considered those attacks as a violation of the cease fire announced unilaterally by Israeli, and later by Hamas on Sunday. The cease fire came after 22 days of Israeli attacks on Gaza which left 1,330 Palestinians killed and more that 5,000 injured. [end]

Al-Aqsa Brigades ‘will respond to Israeli ceasefire violations’
Ma’an News Agency 1/22/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, said on Thursday that they are “prepared to respond” to violations of the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. The group issued this statement came after Israel’s navy shelled the Gaza harbor, wounding seven Palestinians in spite of a ceasefire declared on Saturday. The Yasser Arafat Brigades, a faction within the Al-Aqsa Brigades, said that it views this shelling as a violation. The group said it would respond in “at the appropriate time and place. ” The group said it would not “remain silent” while Palestinian civilians are attacked. [end]

Censor bans identifying IDF officers involved in Gaza operation
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
The Military Censor is applying strict restrictions preventing the media from identifying officers who participated in the Gaza Strip fighting and information about them that may be used in legal proceedings against them abroad. There is growing concern at the Defense Ministry and the Ministry of Justice that Israeli officers will be singled out in a massive wave of suits for alleged human rights violations. The new instructions from the military censor to the media were prepared in consultation with Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and his military counterpart, Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit. Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi was also involved in the decisions on this matter. In recent days the censor has forbidden publishing the full names and photographs of officers from the level of battalion commander down.

War crimes convictions after Gaza?
Anita Rice, Al Jazeera 1/22/2009
As the UN and human rights groups demand independent investigations into the conduct of Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip, the world’s attention is focusing on whether Israeli or Hamas officials could face prosecution for war crimes. Whatever the inquiries find, bringing suspected war criminals to court will be far from straightforward. There is a world of difference between establishing that war crimes have been committed, and then holding those responsible to account, says Mark S Ellis, the executive director of the International Bar Association (IBA). "Often, people view these as the same, but they are not under international law. There is a gap. . . regarding the issue of accountability," Ellis says. Even if independent inquiries do establish that gross violations of the laws of armed conflict have taken place during the war in Gaza, the mechanisms to ensure those responsible on either side are brought to justice "simply don’t exist. "

PM establishes team to tackle lawsuits over Gaza op
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 1/22/2009
Olmert appoints Justice Minister Friedmann as head of inter-ministerial committee that would prepare for potential prosecutions related to IDF actions during Gaza offensive - A legal team headed by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann would handle all issues related to potential legal suits against Israel or Israeli officials in wake of the IDF’s operation in Gaza. Ynet has learned Thursday that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appointed Friedmann to lead an inter-ministerial committee tat would formulate ways to counteract prosecutions against Israel for striking civilians and civilian institutions during the fighting in the Strip. The team is also expected to consult experts on international law during its work. Friedmann’s appointment follows Attorney General Menachem Mazuz’s statement earlier this week that Israel is "preparing for a wave of international lawsuits over the operation in Gaza.

UN rep: Evidence Israel committed war crimes
Reuters, YNetNews 1/22/2009
Special rapporteur on human rights says Israel should have allowed civilians in Gaza to escape war zone, claims mental anguish suffered by Palestinians so great entire population could be seen as casualties. Israel’s claim for self-defense unfounded, he adds - There is evidence that Israel committed war crimes during its 22-day campaign in the Gaza Strip and there should be an independent inquiry, UN investigator Richard Falk said on Thursday. The mental anguish of the civilians who suffered the assault is so great that the entire population of Gaza could be seen as casualties, said Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Falk, speaking by phone from his home in California, said compelling evidence that Israel’s actions in Gaza violated international humanitarian law required an independent investigation into whether they amounted to war crimes.

British minister urges probe of Israeli phosphorus
Middle East Online 1/22/2009
LONDON - British Foreign Office minister Lord Mark Malloch-Brown called Wednesday for an investigation into whether Israel used white phosphorous during its war on Gaza. "We must make sure the facts are established. We must move beyond the reiteration of newspaper reports to establish once and for all what did or did not happen," he said in the upper parliamentary chamber, the House of Lords. "And therefore, of course, we are going to support fully the efforts to establish independent international investigation of this. " Malloch-Brown, a former UN deputy secretary general, said using the toxic chemical agent "is in certain cases a legitimate weapon of war", noting it is legal to use it for creating a smokescreen to allow troops to advance. But he stressed: "It appears to have been used in very different ways here, in ways in which it has been used to burn and maim civilians.

UN counts Israeli-inflicted damage on Gaza
Middle East Online 1/22/2009
GAZA CITY - Senior UN officials examined the extent of war damage in Gaza on Thursday. UN Middle East coordinator Robert Serry and UN humanitarian chief John Holmes were touring sites to assess relief efforts following the war that left much of the impoverished coastal strip in ruins, officials said. Israel’s war on Gaza killed 1,330 people, at least half of them are confirmed to be civilians, and wounded 5,450 others, medics said on Thursday in a final toll of the offensive. Among the dead were 437 children, 110 women, 123 elderly men, 14 medics and four journalists, according to Muawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza medical services. The wounded include 1,890 children and 200 people in serious condition, he said. Six hundred injured people have been transferred outside Gaza for treatment. Reports suggest that the majority of the Palestinian men killed were civilians.

Civil defense service in Gaza lost 11 members to war
Ma’an News Agency 1/22/2009
Gaza - Ma’an – The Civil Defense service in Gaza said that it lost eleven of its members in the recent three-week Israeli offensive. In addition, 13 firefighters were injured, including three who had their arms amputated when they went to put out a fire in the Al-Maqqousi Tower following an airstrike. The Director General of the civil defense Youssef Az-Zahhar said that international law prohibits attacks on firefighters. He called for Israeli soldiers and politicians to be prosecuted for war crimes. He praised the brave work of the civil defense crews and their determination to fight fires amid the Israeli bombardment. He said the motto of the civil defense service is “Our defense is force, sacrifice and cooperation. ”

Gaza mother gives birth under fire
Al Jazeera 1/22/2009
A Palestinian woman has described in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera how she gave birth as her house was being shelled by Israeli forces during the war on Gaza. In footage broadcast on Al Jazeera on Thursday, 37-year-old Nawal Samouni told how she gave birth as the Israeli army prevented medical teams from reaching her. Nawal’s daughter was delivered three weeks earlier than expected as her family huddled in a house in Zeitoun, shelled by Israeli forces. "I was so scared," she said: "My mother delivered my baby. . . but the placenta wouldn’t come out. It took another two hours. "Imtissal Samouni, Nawal’s mother, told Al Jazeera: "The strikes and the shelling were all around us. It was night time and there was no electricity so we held a candle up to see. " I tried to take out the placenta but there were more strikes so it wouldn’t come out.

Debating the Blame for Reducing Much of a Village to Rubble
Sabrina Tavernise, MIFTAH 1/22/2009
When the Assi brothers returned to their village, most of it was missing. Their house was flattened, and their olive groves crushed. The only thing left standing was a single almond tree. Of all the areas hit in Israel’s military campaign, Juhr el Dik, a farming village on Gaza’s eastern border, had more than its share of loss. In its center is now a giant swath of destruction where about 40 houses once stood. “It’s an earthquake,” said Salim Abu Ayadah, the mayor of the town, whose house was among those destroyed. “When I saw it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t walk. ”The destruction was a hard fact, but how it happened was not, with Israelis and Gazans each offering their own divergent versions of events, alternate realities that have come to typify this war. Villagers here say the Israelis bulldozed the area during their ground operation, which began on Jan.

Gaza op: 29 casualties in one family
Ali Waked, YNetNews 1/22/2009
Al-Samoni family member claims IDF soldiers killed his father, brother and asks Allah for revenge -"I wish this death and destruction, and this sense of orphanhood, on every home and every family in Israel," said 22-year old Faraj al-Samoni, whose family suffered one of the worst blows of the fighting in Gaza. He told Ynet his story on Thursday. The al-Samoni household complex in Zaitun neighborhood has been converted into a mourning tent after having been reduced to shambles. "There were 32 homes here, and almost the entire family worked in agriculture," he said. "But in one morning the family was torn apart. Twenty-nine were killed, including six children - the oldest of whom was five - killed in one blast of fire," he lamented. Al-Samoni said the child casualties included two infants aged five and nine months.

Israeli mom: Let my kids out of Gaza
Israel Moshkovitz, YNetNews 1/22/2009
Israeli woman married to Palestinian who was killed in Gaza pleads to reunite with three of her children, still living in Strip - Galit Popouk is in mourning. Her husband, Rami Mahmoud Kadera was killed in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya last week. The couple has six children. Three of their daughters - a nine-year-old girl and two-year-old twins - were with him at the time, and she is now fighting to get them out of the Strip and back home, to Nazareth Illit. "I couldn’t sleep the entire war. All I did was cry and smoke because of all the anxiety," she told Ynet. "I’m here, in Nazareth Illit and my girls are in Beit Lahiya, where our military might hurt them. I found myself calling the commanders at the checkpoints, giving them the address over and over again, begging them not to harm my husband and children. "

The Israeli military kidnaps three civilians from Nablus City
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/22/2009
Palestinian sources reported that Israeli troops invaded the West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday and kidnapped three civilians. Local sources said that the Israeli forces attacked and searched homes in Nablus city and the nearby Balata refugee camp. Troops then kidnapped three men and took them to unknown location. Witnesses identified the three civilians as Yasser Mana’, age 20, Tarik Al Ka’bi and Mohamed Abu Ziton. [end]

Obama lays out Middle East vision
Al Jazeera 1/23/2009
Barack Obama, the US president, has urged Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas to maintain their ceasefires in Gaza in his first remarks on the crisis since taking office. The US leader was speaking at the state department as he named George Mitchell, who helped broker the Good Friday peace accord in Northern Ireland, as US special envoy for the Middle East. Obama said he was "deeply concerned" about the loss of life in Gaza and also reiterated the US view that Israel had a right to defend itself from Palestinian rocket attacks. "It will be the policy of my administration to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as Israel and its Arab neighbours," Obama said. "Now we must extend a hand of opportunity to those who seek peace. As part of a lasting ceasefire, Gaza’s border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce," Obama said.

Olmert updates Obama on Gaza
Globes' correspondent, Globes Online 1/22/2009
Prime Minister Olmert said that both he and the Israeli people found the inauguration moving. US President Barack Obama spoke with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday afternoon. Olmert commended Obama on his inauguration, wished him success, and said that both he and Israeli people found the ceremony very moving. Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States on Tuesday. Prime Minister Olmert updated US President Obama on the situation in the Gaza Strip and said that he hopes that the efforts of Israel, Egypt, the US and the European countries to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza would succeed so that it would be possible to stabilize the ceasefire and advance the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the future. Prime Minister Olmert said that Israel would invest effort in supplying the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip and would work to improve the Palestinian economic situation in Judea and Samaria.

Obama names key diplomatic envoys
Al Jazeera 1/22/2009
Barack Obama, the US president, has named George Mitchell, former peace negotiator in Northern Ireland, as US special envoy for the Middle East. Richard Holbrooke, a former UN ambassador, was also named special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, at a ceremony on Thursday at the state department hosted by Hillary Clinton, the new US secretary of state. Mitchell served as Democratic senate majority leader from 1989 to 1995 under Bill Clinton and George Bush. He is best known for helping to broker Northern Ireland’s historic Good Friday agreement in 1998 which ended decades of bloody conflict. In 2000, he also presided over a committee investigating the ongoing violence of the Middle East conflict, which recommended Palestinians do more to stop attacks on Israel and an end to Israeli settlement building on occupied land.

Obama: We will aggressively seek lasting Middle East peace
Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
President Barack Obama’s newly minted Mideast envoy George Mitchell will arrive in Israel even before the Knesset elections on February 10, a senior government source said. According to Obama, it "will be the policy of my administration to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians as well as Israel and its Arab neighbors," he said yesterday. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spoke with U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and told her Israel would not open the Gaza crossings without progress toward the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Over the past several weeks, particularly after Operation Cast Lead began, Obama and his staff reiterated their intention to become very involved in the Middle East, especially on the Palestinian issue.

Profile: George Mitchell
Al Jazeera 1/23/2009
George Mitchell, a retired US senator, served as special envoy to Northern Ireland during the Clinton administration and brokered the landmark Good Friday accord in 1998 that ended decades of bloody violence in the conflict. He is no stranger to Middle East affairs, having chaired a 2001 committee tasked with investigating the events leading up to the second Palestinian intifada, or "uprising" in 2000. A Maronite Christian son of a Lebanese immigrant mother and a father of Irish descent, Mitchell, 75, has also been an army intelligence officer, a trial lawyer and a federal judge. Mitchell Report - In 2000, Bill Clinton, the former US president, asked him to compile a report on the causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the Mitchell Report was submitted only after George Bush, the former US president, took office.

UN calls for durable truce in Gaza
Al Jazeera 1/22/2009
The UN Security Council has called for the ceasefires in Gaza to be turned into a "durable" truce. The statement, drafted by Britain and France, called on member states to step-up efforts to stop arms trafficking and ensure the reopening of all crossings in the territory. The council also expressed "grave concern" for the humanitarian situation in the Strip and made an appeal to ensure access for aid delivery in the area. The statement was approved by all 15 council members and welcomed the ceasefires announced by Israel and Hamas. It also emphasised the need for the full implementation of the UN’s resolution of January 8, which was adopted by a 14-0 vote with the US abstaining, that called for an immediate halt to fighting in the Strip. Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, in an address to the meeting on his tour of the Middle East, called Israel’s attacks against UN

Hamas: Obama does not represent change
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
Hamas says President Barack Obama’s position toward the Palestinians does not represent change and will lead to the same mistakes as his predecessor. Thursday’s comments by Beirut-based Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan follow Obama’s first public comments on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis since his inauguration. Hamdan tells Al-Jazeera television he expects Obama to experience failure in the region over the next four years if he sticks with his current position. Obama said Thursday that going forward Hamas must end rocket fire at Israel, and Israel must complete the withdrawal of its forces from Gaza. Although those steps were taken this week, low-level violence has marred the fragile cease-fire that ended Israel’s three week offensive in Gaza.

US and Europe move to amend Arab peace initiative per Israeli requests
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/22/2009
Jerusalem -- American and European diplomats are reportedly pushing for an amended Arab peace initiative. At the request of the Israeli administration, which has never accepted the plan, US and EU leaders are said to be "adjusting the initiative. "Today the outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that he finally did accept the initiative as it stands. As he is leaving office under the shroud of internal corruption, Olmert also openly criticized Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak for the over three weeks of major attacks on the Gaza Strip. The Al Manar news service reported Thursday that "secret, intensive meetings are taking place with Arab countries to make changes to the Arab peace initiative which will then be re-introduced, taking into account a number of Israeli reservations after the initial Israeli rejection. "Other sources said that the US administration “took care of it. &rdquo.

Report: Olmert ready to accept Arab peace initiative
Ma’an News Agency 1/22/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli Prime Minister Olmert has expressed readiness to accept a Saudi-backed Arab Peace Initiative that offers Israel normalized relations with the Arab world in exchange for full Israeli withdrawal from lands occupied in 1967. In an interview that appeared in Thursday’s edition of the Hebrew newspaper Ma’ariv, Olmert said, ”We have reached the real moment and I declare to the public and to the Saudi Arabian King that I am able to accept the Arab plan that was confirmed in Riyadh as a way to negotiate and reach solutions based on the Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. ”In the same interview Olmert criticized Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak for his conduct of the war on Gaza, saying, ”We cooperated and worked together for the war in the Gaza Strip but Barak lacks the professionalism and clear understanding.

Gaza officers say troops behaved morally
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
A tour of the western Negev yesterday, five days after the cease-fire was declared, left little room for doubt. The reservists are being sent home after an emergency call-up, conscripts are going on their leave after four weeks of fighting, the armored vehicles and tanks are being serviced. All the signs suggest that from the point of view of the IDF the current round of the war in the Gaza Strip is over. If the Hamas resumes rocket attacks on Israel - which military intelligence estimates is not likely in the foreseeable future - Israel’s response will probably come in the form of air strikes. It now seems that the time has come for assessments and conclusions. Talks with the two most visible battle commanders in the operation, colonel Ilan Malka, commander of the Givati Brigade, and the commander of Battalion 101 of the Paratrooper Brigade, Lt. . .

IDF: Gazans were living atop explosives
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/22/2009
Gaza division commander defends morality of military op, says Hamas chose civilian battlefield -As part of the IDF’s efforts to defend its military operation in Gaza against international criticism citing the harm inflicted on the civilian population there, Gaza Division Commander Brigadier-General Eyal Eisenberg said Israel had achieved its objectives in the fighting, and that this would become clear in time. Eisenberg, who commanded the ground incursion into Gaza, said Thursday that "Hamas has been seriously deterred and realizes that the IDF was only using a small portion of its abilities. " He said the army maintained its integrity and morality during the fighting in Gaza. "IDF soldiers embarked on a just war, a no-choice war. The country is supposed to provide safety for its citizens and that’s what we did," Eisenberg said.

Palestinians: Shell fired from Israeli gunboat wounds two in Gaza
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
A Palestinian medical official on Thursday said that an Israeli gunboat firing off the shores of Gaza City has wounded a man and a girl. The Israel Defense Forces said it was firing to deter a Palestinian fishing vessel that had strayed off limits. Dr. Moaiya Hassanain said a shell fired by the boat hit a house in a beachside refugee camp, adding that the two who were wounded were walking in the street. Another shell landed 100 yards (meters) away in an empty area near a UN aid distribution center. Three gunboats were operating off Gaza City’s coast Thursday. Gunboats have been firing off Gaza’s shore for several days despite a cease-fire that has ended a three-week offensive against Gaza rocket operations aimed at Israel.

IDF gunboat fire wounds 2 Gazans
Associated Press, YNetNews 1/22/2009
Palestinian medical official says man, girl injured by shell while walking on street. Army says it was firing to deter Palestinian fishing vessel that strayed off-limits -A Palestinian medical official said that an Israeli gunboat firing off the shores of Gaza City on Thursday morning wounded a man and a girl. The Israeli military said in response that it was firing to deter a Palestinian fishing vessel that had strayed off-limits. According to the reports, the fire was directed at the Sudaniya area in the western part of Gaza City. Dr. Moaiya Hassanain says a shell fired by the boat hit a house in a beachside refugee camp. He says the two who were wounded were walking in the street. Another shell landed 100 yards away in an empty area near a UN aid distribution center, the report said.

Gaza fighters vow to rearm
Ma’an News Agency 1/22/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Armed Palestinian factions in Gaza said on Thursday that they will continue to obtain weapons through “special means” in spite of Israeli efforts to prevent arms from reaching the Palestinian territory. The An-Nasser Salah Ad-Din Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees said that that Palestinians have a right to armed resistance. The group said that it “does not care for agreements” and that lifting the siege of Gaza is its goal. Another group, the Jihad Jibril Brigades, also vowed to continue obtaining arms. Militia spokesperson Abu Yousif said, “Traitors were executed in the Israeli war against Gaza and the Israeli sources didn’t talk about this case and they even didn’t announce that they lost 100 troops and 150 were injured and will suffer from disabilities. ”Abu Yousef added that the military organizations in Gaza have more. . .

Palestine Today 012209
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio dept, International Middle East Media Center News 1/22/2009
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 4 m 00s || 3. 66 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org, for Thursday, January 22nd 2009. Two Palestinians die of earlier wounds and naval boats open fire at the Gaza shore line injuring seven civilians, these stories and more coming up stay tuned. The News Cast Palestinian medical sources announced on Thursday that two Palestinians have died in Egyptian hospitals after succumbing to wounds sustained during the Israeli military offensive on Gaza which ended on Sunday. The sources said that the two residents died in one of Cairo’s hospitals, where they have been receiving medical care. They were identified as Tamer Allouh, 22 and Azzam Ashafiy, 24. The death toll in Gaza is now at 1330, while the number wounded exceeds 5000 due to the Israeli attack on the coastal region.

Israel to open Gaza border crossing to journalists on Friday
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
Israel on Thursday said it is lifting restrictions on allowing the foreign media into the Gaza Strip. The announcement said the Erez border crossing will return to its regular operating hours on Friday. The news comes after a lengthy battle between Israel and the foreign journalists based in the region. Israel has restricted the flow of journalists into Gaza since a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas began to fray on Nov. 5. It further tightened the ban after launching its offensive against Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers on Dec. 27. Israel asserted that opening crossings for journalists would endanger them and the staff at the terminals, which have often been targeted by militants. The Foreign Press Association had filed a court challenge, accusing Israel of restricting freedom of the press.

Israeli media: Israel allows entry of foreign reporters into Gaza
Rami Almeghari&Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/22/2009
Israeli media sources reported on Thursday that Israel decided to lift the ban on the flow of foreign reporters into Gaza, Israeli online daily Ma’areef reported. The paper’s website reported that a statement issued by Eritz checkpoint in northern Gaza Strip stated that foreign reporters can enter the coastal territory starting Friday morning. The Israeli Army imposed a ban on the entry of foreign media outlets into Gaza in November of last year. The ban was further tightened on December 27th of last year when the Israeli military carried out a massive military campaign on the region. Despite an Israeli high court ruling to lift the ban, Israel and its military kept the border crossings closed to all foreign media outlets.

Israel to allow foreign journalists into Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/22/2009
The Israeli government announced on Thursday that it will allow foreign journalists to enter Gaza, lifting the restrictions on their movement in and out of Gaza The statement read that only Journalists with official papers from the Isralei government will be allowed in and after the a waiver of liability form before entering. Israeli stopped foreign journalists from entering the Gaza Strip since November of last year when Israel purported the opening the crossings for journalists will endanger the staff and the security of the border crossing. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled in early January to allow journalists into Gaza, however the order was held up by the Office of the Israeli Prime Minister.

Fatah official seized by Israeli troops overnight
Ma’an News Agency 1/22/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized the local Fatah secretary from his home in West Bank the village of Deir Istiya, near Salfit, early on Thursday morning. A member of the local village council, Nathmi Salman, told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers invaded the village at 3am and abducted 32-year-old Shaher Abdel Aziz Salman from his house. [end]

Palestinian parliament deputy speaker barred from leaving West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 1/22/2009
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israel barred a prominent Fatah official from leaving the West Bank on Thursday. Hassan Khreisheh, the deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) was turned back at the Allenby Bridge on his way to Jordan. Khreisheh told Ma’an he “was going to leave for Jordan then for Cyprus to participate in a conference on the future of the Palestinian political system attended by other many Palestinian and Arab figures. ”Khreisheh said he was informed that his name was not on the list of Palestinian officials scheduled to leave the occupied territories. He was handed over to the Palestinian Authority coordination office. [end]

Fatah fears Gaza conflict has put Hamas in the ascendancy
Patrick Cockburn in Nablus, The Independent 1/23/2009
The Islamic movement Hamas is taking over from Fatah, the party created by Yasser Arafat, as the main Palestinian national organisation as a result of the war in Gaza, says a leading Fatah militant. "We have moved into the era of Hamas which is now much stronger than it was," said Husam Kadr, a veteran Fatah leader in the West Bank city of Nablus, recently released after five-and-a-half years in Israeli prisons. "Its era started when Israel attacked Gaza on 27 December. "The sharp decline in support for Fatah and the discrediting of Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, because of his inertia during the 22-day Gaza war, will make it very difficult for the US and the EU to pretend that Fatah are the true representatives of the Palestinian community. The international community is likely to find it impossible to marginalise Hamas in reconstructing Gaza.

With war over, Fatah members say Hamas sees them as the real danger
Dana Weiler-Polak, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
Israel’s operation in Gaza may have ended, but the internal Palestinian fighting is still going strong. According to a Fatah source, Hamas operatives have thus far killed 10 Fatah members and wounded hundreds, fearing that Fatah might try to undermine Hamas’ rule in the territory. "When the war began, we started to see a tendency within Hamas to attack our members," said A. , a Gaza resident who belongs to Fatah. "They feared that we would exploit the war and were constantly talking about the ’internal danger. ’ They could be heard saying they were fighting on two fronts, against Israel and Fatah. They were constantly fanning the flames, saying that thousands of Fatah members were planning to come from Egypt to help fight them - which is totally false. "Once, after a Fatah member was killed by Israeli fire, "we were marching in procession toward the cemetery. . . "

Palestinian interior ministry arrests dozens of spies in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 1/22/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian interior ministry in Gaza announced that it arrested dozens of collaborators with Israel who tried to give information about the Palestinian resistance during the war, noting that they were detained in a safe place. Ihab Al-Ghussein, the spokesman for the ministry, said that the security apparatuses did not stop fulfilling their duties throughout the war days, asserting that the slain interior minister Sa’eed Siyam had restructured the security apparatuses according to an emergency plan prepared by him before his martyrdom. Ghussein expected that the Palestinian government would name soon a Palestinian figure for the post of the interior minister. In another context, the Palestinian journalist bloc mourned the death of five journalists killed during the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip and hailed the efforts of the slain journalists to convey the truth of the vicious Israeli aggression on Gaza.

Abbas aide: Gaza cannot become ’separatist entity’
Middle East Online 1/22/2009
RAMALLAH, West Bank - The Palestinian Authority will not allow Hamas to turn Gaza into a "separatist entity" in the wake of Israel’s war on the enclave, a senior aide to president Mahmud Abbas said Thursday. "We will not allow the creation of a separatist entity, no matter what the price," Yasser Abed Rabbo told a press conference. "The plot aiming to separate Gaza from the West Bank will not pass. " Abbas has not controlled Gaza since June 2007, when Hamas booted forces loyal to his secular Fatah party from the coastal strip. However, Hamas had won a parliamentary election that enables it to govern both Gaza and the West Bank. Abed Rabbo accused Hamas’s exiled political chief Khaled Meshaal of using slogans “to cover his separatist projects. " He also accused Hamas in Gaza of ordering dozens of Fatah members under house arrest during the Israeli offensive and of "arresting,. . .

Palestinian leaders: The resistance assumed its role on behalf of the nation
Palestinian Information Center 1/22/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Palestinian religious and national leaders stated in a popular conference held Tuesday in occupied Jerusalem that the Palestinian resistance had assumed its role valiantly on behalf of the Islamic and Arab Nation during its defense of its people against the Israeli aggression. The conferees also strongly denounced the Israeli occupation for destroying mosques, homes and buildings and for killing and wounding thousands of civilians, children and women during its brutal war on the Gaza Strip. In a speech, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri condemned Israel’s aggression on Gaza as a crime never wintessed before in history and a barbaric war, adding that the whole world knew now the reality of the Israeli occupation. Father Attallah Hanna, the Archbishop of Sebastia, deplored the IOF troops for waving victory signs during their withdrawal from Gaza, saying if the killing. . .

PLO: Hamas exploiting blood spilled in Gaza
AFP, YNetNews 1/22/2009
Aide to Abbas says PA will not allow Hamas to turn Gaza into a ’separatist entity’ following IDF op - The Palestinian Authority will not allow Hamas to turn Gaza into a "separatist entity" in the wake of Israel’s military operation there, a senior aide to president Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday. " We will not allow the creation of a separatist entity, no matter what the price," Yasser Abed Rabbo told a press conference. "The plot aiming to separate Gaza from the West Bank will not pass. " Abbas has not controlled Gaza since June 2007, when Hamas booted forces loyal to his secular Fatah party from the coastal strip. Abed Rabbo accused Hamas’s exiled political chief Khaled Mashaal of "using slogans and exploiting the blood spilled in Gaza to cover his separatist projects. " He also accused "Hamas gangs" in Gaza of ordering dozens of Fatah members under. . .

Hamas: Abbas’s calls for dialog without releasing detainees 'useless'
Palestinian Information Center 1/22/2009
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Thursday said that the calls for dialog and national unity on the part of former PA chief Mahmoud Abbas were of no use as long as West Bank security apparatuses did not release Hamas political detainees. Hamas in a statement in the West Bank said that the PA leadership in Ramallah was trying to display that it was still in the Palestinian national arena following the "legendary steadfastness" displayed by resistance in the Gaza Strip in face of the Israeli occupation forces’ brutal aggression. It noted that the people were increasingly angered by the PA practices in the West Bank especially after its security elements quelled pro-Gaza demonstrations. Hamas said that Abbas’s calls should be coupled with practices on the ground represented in releasing political detainees and re-opening charitable societies.

Nassif: PA security in WB escalating campaign against Hamas
Palestinian Information Center 1/22/2009
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Ra’fat Nassif, one of the Hamas political leaders in the West Bank, has charged the PA security apparatuses loyal to former PA chief Mahmoud Abbas with escalating security campaign against Hamas supporters. Nassif said in a press statement on Wednesday that the PA security continued its arrest campaign during the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, which even gained momentum. He said that those security apparatuses blocked the West Bank inhabitants from organizing huge rallies and demos in protest against the Israeli aggression and quelled those which were organized. The Hamas leader said that those security bodies should have ended the campaign and released all political detainees once the war on Gaza ended with victory for resistance. He charged that some of those detainees were subjected to torture.

Hamas delegation consoles Gazans in areas destroyed by shelling
Ma’an News Agency 1/22/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – A Hamas movement delegation visited on Thursday neighborhoods of Gaza City that were devastated by Israeli shelling. The delegation included Dr Usama Al-Mazini, Dr Zuhdi Abu Ne’meh, Dr Subhi Al-Yazgi and several figures. The officials visited the Ar-Rayyes area and At-Tufah neighborhood to consol residents for their losses during the recent three-week war. The officials promised to compensate locals for their losses. Abu Ne’meh praised the steadfastness of Gazans, assuring that the destruction “will not break people’s will. ”[end]

Fatah affiliates: Israeli war wasn’t only against Hamas
Ma’an News Agency 1/22/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – A Palestinian armed group linked to Fatah said on Thursday that the Israeli war in Gaza was not only against Hamas, and urged Palestinian factions to be wary of an Israeli-declared ceasefire. The Eagles of Palestine group said in a statement that Palestinian factions should work together to oppose Israeli and American designs for the Middle East. They also called for a boycott of American products. Regarding reconstruction efforts in Gaza, they called for the creation of a special committee to oversee recovery projects. [end]

Hamas to compensate families of Gaza victims
Associated Press, YNetNews 1/22/2009
Spokesman says organization will pay 4,000 euros to owners of houses destroyed in IDF operation in Gaza, 1,000 euros to families of each Palestinian killed and 5000 euros for each person wounded - Hamas said on Thursday it would begin distributing up to 4,000 euros ($5,180) in cash to families hard hit by Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. Taher al-Nono, spokesman for Hamas’ government in the coastal enclave, told reporters a total of 28. 6 million euros ($37 million) would be distributed starting on Sunday. The announcement appeared to be part of efforts by the Islamist group, which receives Iranian support, to shore up its standing after Israel’s 22-day military offensive, which killed some 1,300 Palestinians and wounded more than 5,000 others. Palestinian officials in the occupied West Bank said Israel has been preventing the Western-backed. . .

Hamas Asserts Control in Gaza, Seeks ’Collaborators’
Nidal Al-Mughrabi, MIFTAH 1/22/2009
Hamas said on Wednesday it had begun reasserting control in the Gaza Strip and rounding up suspected collaborators with Israel, drawing accusations from the rival Fatah group that its members were being targeted. " The internal security service was instructed to track collaborators and hit them hard," said Ehab al-Ghsain, spokesman of the Hamas Interior Ministry, without singling out Fatah members by name. " They arrested dozens of collaborators who attempted to strike the resistance by giving information to the occupation about the fighters," he said, using a Hamas term for Israel, whose 22-day offensive devastated the Gaza Strip. Hamas and Fatah supporters have traded accusations in Arab media that Fatah collaborated with Israel in the hope it could return to power in the Gaza Strip and that Hamas provoked the Israeli invasion by firing rockets into southern Israel. Hamas, an Islamist group that won the 2006 Palestinian election, seized the coastal enclave from Fatah, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, in fighting in 2007.

Oxford students hold sit-in to demand university condemns Gaza op
Micah Smith and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
More than 80 students on Thursday took over one of Oxford University’s buildings to demand the university releases a statement condemning Israel’s recent offensive against Hamas in Gaza. " Palestinians have the same rights as we do, including the right to education as enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights," a spokesperson said. Students at the London School of Economics this week also occupied one of their university’s buildings in protest against the 3-week campaign in Gaza. They only ended this after the LSE’s director agreed to meet a number of their demands. Over 1,250 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed the operation, which Israel launched in order to combat Hamas rocket fire against its South. The campaign sparked an international outcry, and many protests were held at universities across the world.

Protests over Gaza spread to eight English universities
Anthea Lipsett, The Guardian 1/22/2009
As student protests over the bombing of Gaza spread to eight universities across England today, the director of the London School of Economics, Sir Howard Davies, issued a joint statement with student protesters saying he understood their concerns and backing a fundraising drive for scholarships for Palestinians. LSE protesters ended their week-long occupation of the institution’s Old Theatre peacefully last night, after Davies, former chairman of the Financial Services Authority, agreed to meet some of their demands. But he refused to issue an official university statement condemning the Israeli bombardment of Gaza or to publish regular financial statements spelling out LSE’s investment in companies involved in supplying arms to Palestine and Israel. The LSE will waive scholarship application fees for students affected by the conflict, help students organise a fundraising day, and donate surplus computers and books to institutions in Gaza.

Catalunya cancels Shoah memorial ceremony over Gaza op
Maya Mahler, YNetNews 1/22/2009
Barcelona pulls public service marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day in protest of Israeli offensive in Strip. ’Marking the Jewish Holocaust while a Palestinian Holocaust is taking place is not right,’ says official - BARCELONA - The Catalunya government has called off the ceremony marking the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was scheduled to take place on January 27, citing the Israeli offensive in Gaza as the reason. The Gaza campaign has inflamed the already pro-Palestinian public opinion in the northeastern Spanish region, and the local media has run endless stories comparing the Israeli stance on the situation in the Strip to Nazi atrocities. Over 30,000 people marched in Catalunya’s streets in support of Hamas, [sic] during the three-week campaign, burning Israeli flags and handing out flyers threatening local pro-Israel journalists.

Global Protests Continue for Third Straight Week
Stop The Wall 1/22/2009
For the third week in a row, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world took to the streets to show their solidarity with the people of Gaza, and to express their outrage at the Israeli massacre. Demonstrations were held in every continent, with large cities and small towns all taking part in the actions. Now, with the announcement of a ceasefire and the commencement of the withdrawal of Israeli troops, there is temptation to ease up the public pressure. However, it is vital that we work to ensure that this does not happen. The public must continue to put pressure on their leaders, because the people of Gaza are not yet free. For Gazans, the ceasefire merely means that the Gaza Strip will go back to being under hermetic siege, returning to the catastrophic situation that was in place for the 18 months leading up to the massacre.

Jordan’s King is Torn Between U.S.-Egypt and Syria-Hamas Axes
Zvi Barel, MIFTAH 1/22/2009
"I swear in the name of Allah that I will not use that American merchandise, I will not bring it into the house and I will not permit the members of my family to use it. " That was the vow made in recent weeks by members of Jordan’s committee against normalization with Israel. The burning of U. S. -made goods, a call for a boycott on companies that cooperate with Israel, and even a demand to sever Jordan’s diplomatic relations with Israel are nothing new, but the burning of the Israeli flag by Jordanian MPs inside the parliament building - that has never happened before. Even the demonstrations that flooded the streets of the capital Amman, and particularly the confrontation between thousands of demonstrators and the security forces in the Al-Rabia neighborhood are things Jordan has not seen for many years.

Oslo parties demand censure of envoy who likened Gaza op to Holocaust
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
A Norwegian diplomat who this week sent out an email equating Israel’s Gaza invasion to the Holocaust has prompted several political parties in Oslo to demand the kingdom’s foreign ministry publicly denounce the letter. On Tuesday Norwegian media reported that the mail was sent from the ministry’s email account belonging to Trine Lilleng, a first secretary at Norway’s embassy in Saudi Arabia. The letter contained gory images of slain children said to have been killed in the Israeli attack on Hamas in Gaza, juxtaposed with photos of Holocaust victims in seemingly correlating situations. One photo showed the charred remains of casualties from Gaza next to burned bodies from a Nazi death camp. Others showed Arab children behind fences next to Jewish children in ghettos, and Israeli troops next to Nazi Wehrmacht soldiers. -- See also: Norwegian envoy equates Israel with Nazis and The Grandchildren Of Holocaust Survivors Are Doing What Was Done To Them in WWII

BBC refuses airtime to Gaza aid appeal
Jenny Percival, The Guardian 1/23/2009
The BBC has refused to broadcast a national humanitarian appeal for Gaza, leaving aid agencies with a potential shortfall of millions of pounds in donations. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella group for 13 aid charities, launched its appeal yesterday saying the devastation in Gaza was "so huge British aid agencies were compelled to act". But the BBC made a rare breach of an agreement dating to 1963, saying it would not give free airtime to the appeal. Other broadcasters followed suit. Previously, broadcasters had agreed on the video and script to be used with the DEC, to be shown after primetime news bulletins. The BBC, which has been criticised in the past over alleged bias in its coverage of the Middle East, said it did not want to risk public confidence in its impartiality. A BBC spokesperson said: "The decision was made because of question marks about the delivery

Gaza doctor ’refutes’ casualties reported in Cast Lead op
Haaretz Staff, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
[Right-leaning Italian newspaper interviews Israeli collaborators] A doctor at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital told the Gaza correspondent of the Italian daily Corriere della Sera that the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead might have been 500 or 600, mostly young men between the ages of 17 and 23, "drafted by Hamas, who sent them to the slaughter. "The doctor, who refused to identify himself out of fear for his life, also told the correspondent, Lorenzo Cremonesi: "It might have been like in Jenin in 2002. First they talked about 1,500 dead, and in the end it turned out to be only 54, among them 45 fighters. "The doctor said he was surprised that aid groups, including Western ones, reported the numbers without confirming them. According to Cremonesi, the impression was that the number of wounded was also much lower than the 5,000 reported. -- See also: UN counts Israeli-inflicted damage on Gaza

Druze, Bedouin diplomats wage PR war
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 1/22/2009
Reda Mansour, Ismail Khaldi defend Gaza op to CNN, Berkley faculty, and Muslim protestors in US - WASHINGTON -A Druze ambassador and a Bedouin deputy consul general have positioned themselves at the forefront of Israel’s PR battle in the US. Reda Mansour, Israel’s consul general to the southeast US, and Ismail Khaldi, San Francisco’s deputy consul general, have made round-the-clock appearances on television and radio interviews, published articles, and stood before Muslim protestors who accused them of traitorous behavior. Mansour, 43, comes from Usafiya. He made history twice in Israel, by becoming the first minority member to be sent on a diplomatic mission, and the youngest ambassador ever to be sent overseas. At the age of 35 he became Israel’s ambassador to Ecuador. He was serving as consul in Atlanta when the fighting in Gaza broke out.

Gaza tunnels keep besieged Palestinians alive
Middle East Online 1/22/2009
TEL AVIV - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni warned on Thursday that Israel reserved the right to attack smuggling tunnels on the border of Egypt and the Gaza Strip. "Israel reserves the right to react militarily against the tunnels once and for all,” Livni told public radio. "We will not leave our fate. . . to the Egyptians, nor to the Europeans nor to the Americans," she said. During its massive 22-day offensive on Gaza, Israel bombed hundreds of tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt border, destroying 150 of them, according to Defence Minister Ehud Barak who on Wednesday issued a warning similar to Livni’s. "If we are forced to, there will be more attacks," Barak said on public television. "During the operation that we have carried out in the Gaza Strip we have destroyed 150 tunnels, including some which were targeted several times," he said.

Tunnels expected to operate again as Gaza remains closed
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/22/2009
Gaza -- The tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip became the lifeline for Palestinians under a year and a half of siege and nearly two months of closure that preceded the attacks. With the Israeli-declared ceasefire, the crossings are still closed except for a lifting of the ban on limited amounts of humanitarian aid for the United Nations. Israeli forces extensively bombed the southern Strip’s Rafah during the 22 day operation, adding further devastation to the commercial sector. Some of the tunnels are still operational and shipments of fuel and kerosene stoves have already entered through dozens remaining report some southern Strip residents. Tunnel owner Mohamamd told a Reuters reporter today, "We will not be bringing in drugs or weapons. We bring in the needs of the people, that includes food but fuel is the most profitable. "

Israel to allow Egypt to boost force on Gaza border
Barak Ravid and Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
Israel has taken a favorable view of an Egyptian request to increase the force of its border guards along the Philadelphi Route by at least 750 - and possibly as much as 1,500 - according to a senior Israeli political source. Meanwhile, the head of the political-security bureau at the Defense Ministry, Amos Gilad, discussed the matter of expanding the Egyptian border force with Omar Suleiman, head of the Egypt’s intelligence, in Cairo last night. In Rafah, residents told Haaretz that the Egyptians had deployed 1,200 regulars whose mission is to secure the border and prevent smuggling. The senior Israeli political source said that Gilad had also updated Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as well as Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on his talks with Suleiman.

Sources: 'Egyptian Security interrogates wounded Palestinians on homemade shells, arms smuggling'
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 1/22/2009
A number of injured Palestinians who received treatment in Egyptian hospitals and returned to Gaza said that the Egyptian Security interrogated some of them and demanded them to reveal information on the locations of manufacturing homemade shells and the means resistance is using to smuggle arms into the Gaza Strip. Some of the wounded Palestinians said that they were violently interrogated at the hospitals and were threated to be forced out of Egypt without continuing their medical treatment. They added that after they partially recovered from their wounds, they were interrogated and were asked to provide information on the resistance, and were asked "not to help or be affiliated with Hamas". One of the residents said in a phone interview with Al Jazeera that the Egyptian Security told him "to inform the resistance that Egypt will not allow arms smuggling and will not allow Hamas to rebuild its military power".

Cairo postpones ceasefire talks as Israel, Hamas list demands
Ma’an News Agency 1/22/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Several Palestinian factions announced on Thursday that Cairo ceasefire talks scheduled for Thursday have been postponed. The decision to delay the talks is intended to allow for more dialogue on a potential national unity government, according to sources in Cairo. Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat quotes Hamas officials as saying that the aim of the Cairo talks was twofold; mediators want first to end the siege on Gaza and second to mediate a Hamas-Israel ceasefire. The same source added that Hamas hoped both conditions would be met by the time Israeli troops left Gaza. The movement also wants Turkey to oversee the talks between Egypt and Israel, apparently to ensure that both sides keep their promises. Other sources said Amos Gilad, head of the Security-Diplomatic Bureau of Israel’s Ministry of Defense, would have left for Cairo on Thursday.

Hamas delegates in Cairo Sunday
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/22/2009
The Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV, reported on Thursday that delegates of the Hamas movement are slated to arrive in Cairo on Sunday for talks with Egyptian officials on ceasefire, the opening of border terminals in the Gaza Strip and several other related issues. Husam Zaki, spokesperson of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, said that the scheduled talks are part of the Egyptian initiative which aims at restoring calm. Egypt initially wanted to hold talks with Hamas on Thursday but the movement delayed the visit until Sunday. Mohammad Nassr, one of the political leaders of Hamas, said that the movement still did not decide the names of its members who will participate in these talks. Nassr denied media reports which claimed that the movement delayed the visit because it wants Turkish mediation, and added that no date was set for the visit.

UNRWA denies claims about theft and sale of relief aid in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 1/22/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- UNRWA spokesman Sami Al-Mshasha categorically denied rumors about the theft and sale of relief aid in the Gaza Strip, adding that the Arab aid is handed to the agency which in turn distributes it to the civilians. Mshasha explained that most of the aid if not all reaches through correct channels and then is distributed to the targeted groups such as the relief assistance sent by the Jordanian Hashemite committee. He also pointed out that in one incident, unknown people had controlled a truck loaded with food aid near the Rafah borders and distributed its by themselves to civilians for free, adding that the truck was not belonging to the UNRWA, but was a local vehicle on its way to the agency. The spokesman noted that after the Israeli bombing of the agency’s storage depots, the UNRWA intends to establish large temporary stores to contain food aid.

United Arab Emirates delivers aid to Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 1/22/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – A charitable society supported by the United Arab Emirates delivered food on Thursday for hundreds of families whose homes were shelled in Gaza, according to a statement. The Palestinian organization distributed the aid to families in a number of neighborhoods in and around Gaza City, including Az-Zeitoun, Tal Al-Hawa and Ash-Shuja’eiyah. The society also expressed its gratitude for those who contributed in delivering the aid, particularly Tareq Abd Al-Ghani and Sahar Al-Qarut of the Emirati society that called for donations. [end]

2 east J’lem residents charged with assaulting police
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 1/22/2009
Jerusalem District Prosecution indicts two men for aggravated assault of officers sealing off Jabel Mukaber house of terrorist who carried out deadly attack on Mercaz Harav yeshiva - Two residents of the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber were indicted on charges of aggravated assault and assaulting a police officer Thursday, after rioting during the sealing off of a terrorist’s home in the neighborhood. The incident in question took place on Monday, as police and Border Guard forces secured and sealed off the home of Alaa Abu Dheim, who killed eight yeshiva students in the attack on Mercaz Harav seminary in Jerusalem, last March. The Jerusalem District Prosecution claimed that the two - Sami Awisat, 31, and Jamil Abu-Tir, 23 - along with several other unknown individuals, gathered outside the house and began shouting and booing the forces.

Gathafi: ‘one state’ way forward to Mideast peace
Middle East Online 1/22/2009
NEW YORK - A combined one-state solution is the best way forward for Israel and the Palestinians to finally put an end to "perpetual war," Libyan leader Moamer Gathafi wrote in The New York Times Thursday. "The history of Israel/Palestine is not remarkable by regional standards -- a country inhabited by different peoples, with rule passing among many tribes, nations and ethnic groups; a country that has withstood many wars and waves of peoples from all directions. This is why it gets so complicated when members of either party claims the right to assert that it is their land," Gathafi wrote. After the surge in deadly violence in Gaza, Gathafi argued that "everywhere one looks, among the speeches and the desperate diplomacy, there is no real way forward. "A just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians is possible, but it lies in the history of the people of this. . . "

Israeli officials stall agreement with Hamas by pegging issue of Shalit to opening of crossings
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/22/2009
Cairo -- A Hamas delegation postponed today’s arrival in Cairo that was meant to negotiate operation of the crossings and the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire. Talks with the Israeli military leader Amos Gilad have just completed and information to ensure the basic objectives of stopping the attacks against the Gaza Strip and keeping forces out of its center were expected. The Israeli administration is trying again to link the issue of the captured Israeli soldier, taken in the Gaza Strip in June 2006, to the opening of the crossings or the lifting of the siege. Hamas sources said that the Israelis "put before us the same offer to lift the embargo in return for the release of Shalit, but we turned it down. We stress our determination to reject the linking of the issues with each other. There is not link between them. "Israeli forces are imprisoning approximately 11,000 Palestinians and this is the issue that the Hamas party has linked to that of the Israeli soldier since the day of his capture.

Israel ready to exchange prisoners with Hamas
Ma’an News Agency 1/22/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has indicated that he is seeking to complete a prisoner exchange with Hamas before the end of his term next month, Israeli sources reported on Thursday. Reports show that a number of Israeli cabinet ministers have changed their views on a prisoner exchange, and are now willing to release Palestinian prisoners thought to have “blood on their hands. ”Hamas is demanding the release of hundreds of Palestinians from Israeli prisons in exchange for an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who has been held prisoner in Gaza since 2006. In addition to Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is also said to have expressed willingness to accept Hamas’ demands. Israeli security chief Yuval Diskin has suggested that the detainees be released to the Gaza Strip, arguing that Hamas was so weakened by Israel’s three-week offensive on Gaza that. . .

Barak: Op could promote Shalit’s release
Yael Levy, YNetNews 1/22/2009
Defense minister says Gaza offensive may jumpstart process that could lead to Israeli captive’s release, but adds tough decision would have to be made in order to realize this goal -The IDF’s offensive in Gaza "promotes the prospects for jumpstarting a speedy process" that would lead to the release of Israeli captive Gilad Shalit, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday. However, he added, "tough decisions would have to be made in order to realize this. " Barak spoke during an Israel’s Manufacturers Association convention in Tel Aviv. "There’s nothing closer to our heart today, and not a day goes by without the issue being on my agenda," Barak stated, but said that it was best not to discuss the matter further. Commenting on the gains of the Gaza campaign, the defense minister said: "We now face a period that would likely be quiet for a long time.

Olmert: Despite calm, things could be different
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/22/2009
Prime minister addresses situation in Gaza Strip following IDF operation, says ’we have neighbors whose actions we cannot always foresee. ’ Olmert adds he insisted UN chief visits Sderot, not only Gaza - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday morning that "despite the calm, we should take into account that things could turn out differently. " Addressing the situation in the Gaza Strip following Operation Cast Lead, Olmert noted, "We never wanted to exert all the power we have in order to cause the other side to understand that in this conflict we all lose at the end of the day. "We are living in an area with a lot of uncertainty. We have neighbors whose actions we cannot always foresee. " As for the fighting in the Strip, the prime minister said, "I think Israel’s overall strength was in the fact that we did not rush to use it during the fighting. "

Israel may swap prisoners for soldier
Peter Beaumont in Ramallah, The Guardian 1/23/2009
Olmert deal could involve hundreds of Palestinians • Release of captive held for two years seen as priority -- Israel might be prepared to swap hundreds of jailed Palestinians for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who has been held in captivity in the Gaza Strip for more than two years, senior Israeli officials indicated yesterday. Ehud Olmert, Israel’s prime minister, said yesterday that the Israel Defence Forces’ operation in the Gaza Strip had created "renewed momentum" to strike a deal with Hamas for Shalit’s return. Hamas officials in Gaza and the West Bank insisted, for their part, that Shalit, who was captured in a cross-border raid, "would not see the light of day" unless Israel agreed to the release of up to 1,400 Palestinian prisoners. Shalit has become a cause célèbre in Israel. Little information is known about his condition and there have been unconfirmed reports that he had been injured at the beginning of Israel’s assault on Gaza.

Israeli ministers approve Hamas’s conditions for releasing Shalit
Palestinian Information Center 1/22/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli 2nd TV channel has revealed that a number of Israeli cabinet ministers had revoked their earlier objection to Hamas’s conditions for releasing captured soldier Gilad Shalit. It said that following the Israeli army’s failure to secure Shalit’s release in the war on Gaza the ministers turned from opponents to supporters of the prisoners’ swap deal. The channel did not mention the names of those ministers but said they were members in the mini security and political affairs cabinet and that premier Ehud Olmert had also eased his position in this regard. Hamas had asked for the release of all women, children and the sick prisoners in Israeli occupation jails along with those serving high sentences.

Report: Most Israeli ministers want prisoner swap
Ma’an News Agency 1/22/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Senior Israeli analysts said the public atmosphere within the country has shifted to support prisoner swaps with Hamas in exchange for captured soldier Gilad Shalit. Television commentator Ehud Ye’ari warned of “believing Palestinian news outlets that say this swap could happen within three weeks or before Israeli elections,” noting that “it’s not that quick. ”“Although Hamas wants in, getting Turkey and Syria involved in brokering this deal” would remove Egypt as a major negotiator, he added. Channel Two reported that “Israel is convinced that it should approve the list of prisoners of those sentences for life terms,” but did not reveal names of any prisoners under consideration.

Barak: Hamas was dealt a blow it never imagined
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 1/21/2009
Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared victory as the IDF completed its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday putting an official end to Operation Cast Lead against Hamas. "We won in a big way," Barak said in a televised interview. "Hamas was dealt a blow it never imagined and will be quiet now for a long time. " Most of the reservists were released from duty and a majority of the regular-service units were redeployed along the Gaza border ahead of a potential renewal of hostilities. Defense officials warned Wednesday that Israel would respond harshly to Hamas provocations. In the afternoon, OC Southern Command Maj. -Gen. Yoav Galant met with the commanders of special forces units employed inside the Gaza Strip during the operation. The commanders shared their experiences with Galant. Commander of the K-9 Oketz unit told Galant that three dogs were killed during the campaign.

Hamas to Europe: time to talk
Middle East Online 1/22/2009
DAMASCUS - The exiled chief of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, said on Wednesday the time has come to lift a ban on contacts with his democratically elected Palestinian government, in a speech aired on Arab satellite televisions. "I tell European nations. . . It is time for you to deal with Hamas, which has gained legitimacy through struggle," Meshaal said. "For the past three years, they (Israelis) have been trying to get rid of Hamas," he said. "Now it is time to start to talk to Hamas," whose popularity had been further boosted recently due to Israel’s war on Gaza. Meshaal called for a lifting of Israel’s blockade. "We achieved our aims by forcing the enemy to halt its aggression and to withdraw," he said. Israeli soldiers pulled out of Gaza after killing more than 1,300 Palestinians, mainly civilians, including some 400 children.

Hamas leader in Syria urges Western nations to lift sanctions on Gaza
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/22/2009
Khaled Meshal, the Hamas political leader based in Syria, said in a televised speech on Wednesday that the latest aggression by Israel proves that the resistance cannot be crushed by force, and it is time for Israel and the US to recognize the legitimacy of Hamas and lift the sanctions on Gaza. "I tell European nations. . . three years of trying to eliminate Hamas is enough. It is time for you to deal with Hamas, which has gained legitimacy through struggle," stated Meshal in the speech. He claimed that the Gaza operation of the last three weeks was a failure for Israel, which failed to achieve its stated goal of ousting Hamas from power. He continued, "This is the first real war which the Palestinian people fought and won on Palestinian soil. The Gaza battle is a turning point in the conflict with the enemy, because it makes possible a serious and effective liberation strategy.

Mishaal: The battle of Gaza a turning point in the conflict with the occupation
Palestinian Information Center 1/22/2009
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Khaled Mishaal, the head of the Hamas political bureau, on Wednesday stated that what happened in the Gaza Strip was the first real war which the Palestinian people made victory in, describing the battle of Gaza as a turning point in the conflict with the Israeli occupation. In a televised speech addressed to the Palestinian people, and the Islamic and Arab nation, Mishaal added that the battle of Gaza is the beginning of the complete victory, stressing that the liberation of Palestine is no longer a dream but a visible reality. The Hamas leader underlined that Israel failed militarily in the battlefield and did not achieve its stated objectives, so it had after three weeks to declare a unilateral ceasefire without any agreement or conditions imposed on the Palestinian resistance, but he warned the Palestinian resistance to be vigilant and keep their fingers on the trigger.

Hamas: 'Government in Gaza to distribute 40 M Euro to aid Gaza residents'
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/22/2009
The Palestinian Information Center, affiliated with Hamas movement, reported Thursday that the dissolved Palestinian government in Gaza, headed by Ismail Haniyya, decided to distribute 40 M Euros on the residents of the Gaza Strip who were affected by the latest Israeli offensive. Taher Al Nunu, spokesperson of Hamas, said in a press conference in Gaza City, that the "Government decided to distribute the money to compensate the affected families". He added that 4000 Euros will be handed to families that completely lost their homes, two thousands to families that partially lost their homes, a thousand Euros each to family that lost a member, and 500 Euros to each wounded resident. Responding to claims by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah that Hamas left prisoners at Al Saraya prison when it was shelled by Israel, Al Nunu said that "no prisoner was killed, and we have no political prisoners".

Hamas pledges to begin distributing cash to Gazans on Sunday
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
Hamas said on Thursday it would begin distributing up to 4,000 euros($5,180) in cash to families hard hit by Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. Taher al-Nono, spokesman for Hamas’s government in the coastal enclave, told reporters a total of 28. 6 million euros ($37 million) would be distributed starting on Sunday. The announcement appeared to be part of efforts by the Islamist group, which receives Iranian support, to shore up its standing after Israel’s 22-day military offensive, which killed some 1,300 Palestinians and wounded more than 5,000 others. Palestinian officials in the occupied West Bank said Israel has been preventing the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, from transferring some $60 million in cash to the Gaza Strip to pay its workers and others hard hit by the war, which started on Dec.

UN official arrives in region in advance of Gaza investigation
Ma’an News Agency 1/22/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Assistant to UN Secretary-General John Holmes arrived in the region for a five-day visit to determine Palestine’s humanitarian needs following Israel’s onslaught in Gaza. Holmes is expected to host Palestinian and Israeli officials for an exchange of views on the human situation in Gaza. He will visit Gaza on Thursday as a part of the staff to assess needs in Gaza. He will also visit Egypt for a day, aimed at holding a meeting with UN officials, representatives of the Red Cross and those of different relief agencies. [end]

Arab barred from entering club to be compensated
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 1/22/2009
Two youths from Nazareth, Nazareth-Illit document bouncer at popular Haifa club refusing to grant them entry, citing a ’closed party’, but allowing their Jewish friend to enter - Two Arab youths who were not allowed to enter a club in the northern city of Haifa will receive a NIS 66,000 (about $16,700) compensation, according to a Haifa Magistrates’ Court ruling. The two young men used a cell phone to document the event in which they were told that there was a "private party" being held at the club, while their Jewish friend was allowed to enter. The club, in response, claimed that the two men are "serial suers". The judge accepted this claim, yet noted that this fact does not alter the fact that there the event was a clear case of discrimination. This designation did, however, result in a lower monetary compensation than demanded in the claim by the plaintiffs.

Meeting of Arab Leaders on Gaza Ends in Discord
Diana Elias, MIFTAH 1/22/2009
Arab leaders trying to come up with a plan to rebuild Gaza ended their meeting Tuesday in discord, unable to agree on whether to back Egyptian peace efforts or even set up a joint reconstruction fund for the devastated Palestinian territory. The deep tensions among rival Arab leaders could affect the fragile cease-fire between Hamas and Israel that ended a three-week Israeli onslaught on the Mediterranean strip. The military campaign to stop militant rocket fire left around 1,300 Palestinians dead, according to Gaza health officials, and material damage estimated at around $2 billion. Thirteen Israelis were also killed. The violence in Gaza split Arab countries into two camps "? ? one led by Syria and Qatar supporting Hamas hard-liners who rule the territory, and another led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia hoping to lure the Palestinian militant group toward more moderation.

Likud maintains lead, Lieberman strengthens
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 1/22/2009
Kadima and Labor have gained no electoral benefit from the end of the war in Gaza. The first survey carried out by "Globes" with Geocartography after the end of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza shows the right continuing to strengthen and leader of the opposition Benjamin Netanyahu consolidating his status as prime minister in waiting. If the elections were held today, Likud, according to the survey, would receive 32 out of the 120 Knesset seats, while the right wing block as a whole would receive 69 seats. This is all before campaigning, suspended by the war, begins in earnest. Although the Likud has dropped one seat since last week’s poll, the gap that Netanyahu opened up on the ruling parties before the war has been maintained. Not only has Kadima, the ruling party, not benefitted electorally from the war, but it even lost ground, and is down from 22 seats a week ago to 21 today.

Likud’s strategy against Yisrael Beiteinu? Kid gloves
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
Likud is currently being careful not to attack Yisrael Beiteinu in its campaign, even though it has lost votes to the latter over the last few weeks. Likud is assuming it will need Avigdor Lieberman’s party as a coalition partner should it form the next government. For the same reason, campaign activists have been given strict instructions not to say anything against Lieberman personally. And for now, at least, Lieberman appears to be returning the favor: His campaign has not targeted either Likud or its leader, Benjamin Netanyahu. Each day Likud campaign officials reevaluate the decision not to attack Yisrael Beiteinu, but for now, they are unanimous in agreeing that this would be unwise - especially given Lieberman’s popularity among Russian immigrants. As a result, Likud is searching for other, less direct methods of wooing voters away from Lieberman.

Kadima MKs: Only Schalit’s release can win us election
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 1/22/2009
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni convened her party’s top 40 candidates for a pep talk at the party’s Petah Tikva headquarters on Thursday night amid polls showing the Likud’s gap over Kadima continuing to widen as the February 10 election approaches. Kadima pollster Kalman Geyer presented the candidates with data indicating that the race was much closer than this week’s surveys have indicated. The three most recent polls, published in Yisrael Hayom and broadcast on Channels 2 and 1, give the Likud a lead of eight to 12 Knesset seats. Party strategist Lior Chorev admitted that Kadima had been hurt by a rightward shift in the public since Operation Cast Lead began on December 27. But he predicted that there was enough time before the election to reduce the impact of the war.

Livni: ’The government has provided only aspirin ’
Ora Coren, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
"What the cabinet has given until now is only aspirin for the immediate treatment of the crisis. Now we need to work together, to create solutions and go forward," said Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni yesterday at the manufacturers’ annual conference. As opposed to Finance Minister Roni Bar-On, who is against the Histadrut and manufacturers’ proposal to establish a social-economic council with the government, Livni said she is willing to hold discussions with labor and employers on ways to end the economic crisis. But she also did not hesitate to call on the president of the Manufacturers Association, Shraga Brosh, to stop his personal attacks on Bar-On, saying discussion was the way to solve problems. She said she believes in cooperation between the government, employers and labor. She added that all the economic plans approved so far are only the first stage, a form of aspirin.

Kadima candidates lament choice of Livni
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 1/21/2009
The February 10 general election is still 19 days away, but Kadima ministers and MKs have already started lamenting in private conversations that they would have had a much better chance of winning had Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz won the party’s leadership race. The gap between Likud and Kadima has been growing since the end of Operation Cast Lead. A Geocartographic Institute poll broadcast on Channel 1 found that the Likud’s lead had grown to 12 seats, 33 to 21. The polls have hurt morale in the party, causing ministers and MKs who supported Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in the Kadima leadership race to regret that they did not endorse a candidate with a security background like Mofaz, a former IDF chief of General Staff. Livni beat Mofaz in the September 17 primary by only 431 votes. "The issue of this election was set by the war in Gaza, and I have no doubt that. . . "

Netanyahu: ’I will use $4b [US] loan guarantees to provide credit’
Ora Coren, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
"We are in a very deep crisis, which is already threatening the jobs of Israeli citizens. There is a danger of tens of thousands being fired, not thousands, and if we do not act quickly, even more," said opposition leader and Likud chief Benjamin Netanyahu at the annual conference of manufacturers yesterday. "There will be a terrible threat to savings, and even to the economic health and existence of many factories and companies. "Netanyahu discussed the economic steps he intends to take if elected, which include lowering taxes and the immediate handling of the credit crisis by using the remaining $4 billion in U. S. loan guarantees. He emphasized the urgent need for dealing with the shortage of credit, saying the cabinet has taken a number of steps that are not focused or daring enough. Other quick steps Netanyahu promises include efficiency measures in the ports, water, electricity and aviation industries.

Barak: ’This is the time for drastic budgetary expansion’
Ora Coren, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
"This is the time for immediate, drastic expansion [of the budget], without any stops, for investments in infrastructure and research and development, and for retraining workers and creating growth for the stage after the crisis," said defense minister and Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak yesterday. "For a long time before investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed, we said there was a clear crisis, and we must not be confused. And we need to act immediately. The writing was on the wall. " As for the credit crisis, Barak said this is the time to deal with the real economy seriously and the willingness to lend money. The state must intervene, he added. Barak said it is not important whether the budget deficit grows to 4% or 7% of GDP. He agreed with the Manufacturers Association’s position calling for the state to put up NIS 1 billion for a credit fund along with NIS 5 billion from the banks.

The circus is back in town
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
The successful military campaign conducted by Defense Minister Ehud Barak together with Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi helped the Labor Party pick itself up a little in the polls. But only a little. Even now no surveys are predicting more than 16 Knesset seats for Labor in next month’s election. Barak announced this week that he is running for prime minister. His advisers decided that the alternative - to emphasize publicly that he is running only for the position of defense minister - is less attractive. In any case, the Defense Ministry is already in his pocket. People from Kadima, like Finance Minister Roni Bar-On and Vice Premier Haim Ramon, and to the same degree Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her people, claim that Barak was too quick to endorse the French proposal for a humanitarian cease-fire, which came only a few days after the start of the operation.

Barak: Netanyahu can’t provide the solution
Globes correspondent, Globes Online 1/22/2009
"These three weeks revealed the beautiful Israel" - "Security is something for every area of our lives, economic, social, and personal. "Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Israel today, Minister of Defense Ehud Barak declared Operation Cast Lead in Gaza a success. "Yesterday morning Operation Cast Lead ended. The IDF showed extraordinary capability, Hamas was hit very hard, their appetite for firing rockets will be very restrained for along time. " "We will have to continue to prosper in the intervals between battles," Barak continued. "Hamas was surprised by the very fact that an air operation was launched, they were surprised again when the ground operation started, and in the end we see the results. We are examining far reaching measures with the Egyptians to deal with the smuggling.

Netanyahu promises dramatic tax cuts
Shay Niv, Globes Online 1/22/2009
Benjamin Netanyahu: The tax cut will lead to everyone paying about 20% less than what they pay today. Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu claimed today that he will "dramatically" cut personal and corporate taxes if elected. At an annual conference of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, Netanyahu said, "Over the course of four years, we will lower the top personal tax rate from today’s 46% to a level of 35%, and we will lower the top corporate tax rate from 27% to only 18%. " His comments were met with wild applause. Netanyahu added, "The tax cut will be spread over the entire term, and lead to everyone paying about 20% less than what they pay today". Netanyahu warned that Israel’s citizens don’t understand how deep the economic crisis is, and promised that his first goals, if elected as Prime Minister, will be to. . .

Hadash Web sites proves two-faced in view on Gaza war
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
The Hadash party’s Internet sites offer different messages about the recent war in Gaza depending on whether you view them in Hebrew or Arabic. In Arabic, the site quotes a senior party official proclaiming "We are with the resistance everywhere" - a statement that could be interpreted as support for Palestinian terror organizations. In contrast, the party’s two Hebrew-language Web sites denounce the war without expressing support for terrorist organizations. This policy was discovered - and lambasted - by activists from a smaller Jewish-Arab party, Da’am. An article by one Da’am supporter accused Hadash of running two contradictory campaigns, one for Jews and the other for Arabs. Da’am, incidentally, received a mere few thousand votes in the last elections - not nearly enough to enter the Knesset.

Biting the bullet - or not
Shai Fogelman, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
As the discussion neared its end, an elderly man walked toward the stage and emotionally declared that he was ashamed to be an Israeli. "So what are you doing here? Pack up and leave the country," shouted a man from the second row. His voice breaking, the elderly man retorted that he would not leave the country in which his son, killed during a war, was buried. The auditorium was thrown into a state of turmoil. Insults were hurled, epithets were shouted, and some people even resorted to pushing and shoving. Still, it seems that the discourse concerning the refusal of some Israel Defense Forces soldiers to serve in Operation Cast Lead remained confined to the small hall of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) House in Tel Aviv, where the Courage to Refuse organization held a conference this week, called "The Boundaries of Obedience.

Resisting from abroad
Osama Awad, Palestine News Network 1/22/2009
PNN - Fadi Salfiti is a Palestinian from Gaza who watched on television bombs raining. "I was trying to see where they were exactly but everything just kept being flattened, entire neighborhoods. " Salfiti is outside in Sweden who spent days on the phone with his family and watching images, hearing the stories. "The children who remained under the rubble for three days, wounded and starving, calling for their mother to wake from the dead. "He told PNN, "It is so hard, I feel in shock. From moment to moment I have followed the news and you do not sleep until the morning. I followed the shelling on our street and our house was bombed along with a complex of ministries and the Islamic University in Gaza City. My house, my family, this is tension and insomnia, helplessness, fear. " Salfiti said that he could do nothing else for the over three weeks of major attacks.

Cartoon of the day
Danziger, Palestine Think Tank 1/22/2009

Coastal aquifer in danger of contamination, study finds
Zafrir Rinat, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
The Israel Water Authority is struggling to cope with a severe water shortage that has been made more acute by a continual deterioration in the water quality of the coastal aquifer, one of the two main underground water sources in the country, according to a new report. The report, prepared by the hydrology department of the authority, concludes that while parts of the aquifer have deposits of good quality water, usually in higher depths, in many of the segments closer to the surface, the water quality is poor. The report was widely distributed earlier this week and discusses the condition of the country’s water sources based on data collected over the past 18 months. The coastal aquifer, a subterranean ’water tank’ stretching from the area of Hadera down to the Gaza Strip, provides between a quarter and a third of the potable drinking water in Israel and is discussed extensively in the report.

Uproar in Lebanon over Hezbollah chief rosaries
Middle East Online 1/22/2009
BEIRUT - Rosaries bearing a picture of Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah have created an uproar within some in Lebanon’s Christian community with some saying the depiction is an insult to Christianity. "The rosaries are an insult to our Christian beliefs," an official with the Christian Lebanese Forces party said on Thursday. She spoke on condition of anonymity. "They are an attempt to influence public opinion within the Christian community so that people get used to seeing a photo of Nasrallah next to the Virgin Mary or saints," she added. She said the Lebanese Forces was not pointing an accusatory finger at Hezbollah but felt that the party needed to take action to prevent the distribution of the rosaries. Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, head of the powerful Maronite Church in Lebanon, which counts no less than 18 communities and where power is divided along religious lines,. . .

Most Gazans support ceasefire with Israel
Ma’an News Agency 1/22/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Most Palestinians in Gaza are pleased that both Hamas and Israel’s unilateral ceasefires are holding, according to the results of a survey published on Thursday. Eight in 10 Gazans say the national priority should be reconciling the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s competing factions while only about 10 percent chose resistance against the occupation. About eight percent selected security or peace agreements in the poll conducted by Near East Consulting, which surveyed 605 Palestinians in Gaza on 18-20 January. A 43-percent plurality said the ceasefire benefited no one, while about 40 percent said the ceasefire declarations, including the withdrawal of Israeli forces, could be accurately described as “a victory” for Palestinians, while just seven percent said Hamas could make the same claim.

Rabbi Eliyahu: I sent Mother Rachel to Gaza
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 1/21/2009
Former chief rabbi responds to rumors of woman appearing before troops, warning them of danger in Operation Cast Lead, says, ’The story is true, I sent her’. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner: A sucker will believe anything -Two days have passed since the ceasefire in Gaza took effect, and one of the most widespread legends of the days on the battlefield has received rabbinical approval. On the last days of the war, rumors spread about a woman presenting herself as Jewish matriarch Rachel appearing to IDF soldiers and warning them of explosives, booby-trapped houses and terrorist ambushes within the Gaza Strip. Former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, who is considered one of most prominent religious leaders in Israel, recently prayed several times at Rachel’s Tomb for the safety of the troops. When asked about the rumor, the rabbi said, "The story is true. "

Intel cuts pass over Israel
Globes' correspondent, Globes Online 1/22/2009
The company says it will stop production at five plants worldwide and up to 6,000 jobs will be cut. Chip giant Intel said that it will halt production at five sites worldwide. Two assembly test facilities in Malaysia and one in the Philippines will close. The company will also end production two US facilities, in Oregon and Santa Clara, California. Though Intel decided about a year ago to close an older facility in Jerusalem, it said then that the employees there will be moved to other facilities, including some in its new Jerusalem facility. The company also reportedly plans to close a development center in Yokne’am which employs 50 people. Intel opened the Yokne’am center in 2005, when the company acquired Oplus for $100 million. Intel Israel employs about 7,000 people and exports over $1. 5 billion per year.

Iraq says ready for early US withdrawal
Middle East Online 1/22/2009
BAHGDAD - Iraq said on Thursday it is prepared for an early drawdown of US troops after President Barack Obama asked the American military to draft plans for a withdrawal from Iraq. "If the US pullout comes early, our Iraqi forces have prepared for this," defence ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al-Askari said. "Our forces have been readying for this mission since last year and we are fully capable of handling security without relying on US forces. We only need US air support and intelligence," Askari said. On Wednesday, Obama said he had told top military commanders to make the necessary plans for a "responsible" withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. "I asked the military leadership to engage in additional planning necessary to execute a responsible military drawdown from Iraq," Obama said in a statement a day after being sworn in as president and commander-in-chief.

Returning IDPs lack decent public services - NGOs
Afif Sarhan/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1/23/2009
BAGHDAD, 22 January 2009 (IRIN) - Internally displaced persons (IDPs) returning home lack decent public services and the resources with which to repair their damaged houses, local and international NGOs have said. "There is an obvious weakness in the government and ministries in terms of meeting the needs of IDPs, especially those who have returned to their places of origin and found deteriorated public services and damaged houses," Iraqi activist Basil al-Azawi told IRIN. Al-Azawi, who heads the Baghdad-based Commission for Civil Society Enterprises, an umbrella group of over 1,000 Iraqi NGOs, said: "Some of these families have run out of resources, and found their houses damaged and furniture looted. And they have not been given any government aid. " He called on the government and international organisations, including UN agencies, to help meet their needs.

Obama spy chief choice: U.S. intel should try to work with Iran
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
President Barack Obama’s choice for spy chief, Dennis Blair, said Thursday that U. S. intelligence agencies should seek ways of working with Iran on issues of mutual interest, underscoring the new administration’s interest in engagement with elements in the Islamic state. "While policymakers need to understand anti-American leaders, policies and actions in Iran, the intelligence community can also help policymakers identify and understand other leaders and political forces, so that it is possible to work toward a future in both our interests," retired Admiral Blair said on Thursday in a prepared statement for a Senate hearing on his nomination as Director of National Intelligence. Blair also backed Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo prison and said humane treatment standards for terrorism suspects must apply throughout the government,. . .

NYC rabbi under fire for praying with Obama in church
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
NEW YORK - An American modern Orthodox rabbinical organization has raised hackles that one of their rabbis participated in a Washington church service marking United States President Barack Obama’s first day in office Wednesday. Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the head of New York’s Kehilath Jeshurun synagogue and a leading member of the city’s modern Orthodox community, was one of several religious leaders who took part in reading sections of a nondenominational responsive prayer during the National Prayer Service at Washington’s National Cathedral. In an unusual move the Rabbinical Council of America, an umbrella organization for modern Orthodox rabbis of which Lookstein is a member, published a statement denouncing his participation, on the grounds that Jewish law forbids Jews to worship in a church.

Obama issues order to close secret overseas CIA prisons
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
President Barack Obama signed orders Thursday to close theGuantanamo Bay prison, shut down secret overseas CIA prisons, review military trials of terror suspects and ban the harshest interrogation tactics. Obama signed the order to shutter the Guantanamo prison within a year on his second day in office. A draft copy of the order notes that in view of significant concerns raised by these detentions, both within the United States and internationally, prompt and appropriate disposition of the individuals currently detained at Guantanamo and closure of the facility would further the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice. Former detainees, human-rights advocates and government officials around the world welcomed the move.

’Waltz with Bashir’ nominated for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar
Nirit Anderman, Ha’aretz 1/23/2009
"Waltz with Bashir" will be one of the five finalists competing for the Best Foreign Language Film award at the Oscars on February 22, the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced yesterday. That makes director Ari Folman’s animated film about his experiences during the first Lebanon war the eighth Israeli picture to be a finalist for this prize. Thus far, however, no Israeli film has won it. The film had also been nominated for the Best Animated Feature Film award, but did not make the finalists’ list in this category. Last week, however, "Waltz with Bashir" won the Golden Globe award for best foreign film. Folman and his colleagues, who were watching the Academy press conference via the Internet, opened a bottle of champagne upon hearing the announcement.


Sharpeville 1960, Gaza 2009
Dr. Haidar Eid, Electronic Intifada 1/22/2009
      "Where can I bring him a father from? Where can I bring him a mother from? You tell me!"
     These are the desperate words of Subhi Samuni to Al-Jazeera’s Gaza correspondent. Subhi lost 17 members of his immediate family, including the parents of his seven-year-old grandson. Shockingly, even as I write this article, corpses of the Samuni family are still being retrieved from under the rubble -- 15 days after the Israeli occupation forces shelled the two houses. The Israeli army locked 120 members of the family in one house for 12 hours before they shelled it.
     Subhi’s words echo the harsh reality of all Palestinians in Gaza: alone, abandoned, hunted down, brutalized, and, like Subhi’s grandson, orphaned. Twenty-two days of savage butchery took the lives of more than 1,300 Palestinians, at least 85 percent of them civilians, including 434 children, 104 women, 16 medics, four journalists, five foreigners, and 105 elderly people.
     What can one say to comfort a man who has the harrowing task of having to bury his entire family, including his wife, his sons, his daughters and his grandchildren? Tell us and we will relay your words to Uncle Subhi because his loss has made our words of condolences meaningless to our ears.

US academics: join us in boycott call
Appeal, USCACBI, Electronic Intifada 1/22/2009
      Mission statement
     Responding to the CALL of Palestinian civil society to join the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, we are a US campaign focused specifically on a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, as delineated by PACBI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel):
     In light of Israel’s persistent violations of international law, and
     Given that, since 1948, hundreds of UN resolutions have condemned Israel’s colonial and discriminatory policies as illegal and called for immediate, adequate and effective remedies, and
     Given that all forms of international intervention and peace-making have until now failed to convince or force Israel to comply with humanitarian law, to respect fundamental human rights and to end its occupation and oppression of the people of Palestine, and
     In view of the fact that people of conscience in the international community have historically shouldered the moral responsibility to fight injustice, as exemplified in the struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa through diverse forms of boycott, divestment and sanctions... -- See also: US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and Boycott Israel

Why American academics must join boycott of Israel
Rania Masri and Marcy Newman, Electronic Intifada 1/18/2009
      On Friday 16 January, Israeli occupation forces bombed the headquarters of the University Teachers Association-Palestine (UTA), in Gaza, during their indiscriminate, willful destruction of the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City.
     The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) noted that "the UTA, together with other Gaza-based civil society organizations, called on 15 January for a wide campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel in response to its well-documented, premeditated war crimes in Gaza. The Israeli bombing of UTA’s headquarters occurred on the exact following day, 16 January."
     On 28 December, Israel had already bombed the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG), with American-made F-16s destroying six buildings including research laboratories and a women’s dormitory. IUG, like all Palestinian universities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has no political affiliation. Like the rest of the society, the faculty and students are a composite of various political factions ranging from Communist to Islamist to unaffiliated. IUG is a flagship university, one with connections to the United States; Americans have taught at the university as Fulbrighters, and professors from the university have been Fulbrighters in the US.

Why the Gaza disaster is not 3 weeks old and has not stopped along with the bombs
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 1/22/2009
      Following the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza that started late December 2008, the eyes of the world have been opened to the reality of the daily lives of the people of Gaza; or the reality that the media has agreed to disclose.
     People’s knowledge on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict varies and fluctuates regarding the political tendencies of the individual, the geographical location of where they and the type of media exposure they receive.
     Though the media throughout the world eventually picked up the story of the ongoing slaughter of Gaza and the cost to Palestinian women, children and infrastructure, there was important background and context information that was hardly mentioned during the climax of a war.
     “Why rocket are still fired on Israel?” was a recurring question we received at Palestine Monitor.
     Although nothing can ever justify aggression, the use of violence and the loss of civilian life, there are facts that have to be emphasized on why combatants were still targeting Israel after the so-called Israeli disengagement from the Strip in 2005.
     Yesterday, in a conference on media bias by IPCRI, we heard a journalist from the Jerusalem Post assuming that the main cause that lead to bias in the Israeli public opinion, and in the newspapers that were feeding that same opinion, was that Israelis strongly believe in the ‘disengagement’ of 2005 and assume that Israel has not exerted any control on the Strip since then. For the majority of them, he said, “and I myself was among those, this was a unilateral war, resulting from 8 years of unilateral aggression by Hamas on Israel.”
     But Gaza’s misery did not start 3 weeks ago; and it has certainly not ended following the ceasefire.

Starve Them; Shoot Them; then Give Them Cancer
James Brooks, Vermonters for a Just Peace, Palestine Monitor 1/22/2009
      An Inquiry into Israel’s use of DIME weaponry in of the Gaza Strip - At the end of 2006, James Brooks from Vermonters for a Just Peace published a three part expose into Israel’s suspected use of a previously unseen weapon, DIME Bombs, on the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Suspicions have arisen once more as Doctors continue to report the "˜strange and incurable wounds’ they are encountering following the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip.
     US and Israel targeting DNA in Gaza? The DIME Bomb: Yet another genotoxic weapon
     It’s been almost five months since the first report that Israeli drone aircraft have been dropping a “mystery weapon” on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Since then, news media around the world have run stories depicting the strange and “horrific” wounds inflicted by the new bomb. The international press has spoken with Palestinian doctors and medics who say Israel’s new device is a kind of chemical weapon that has significantly increased the fatality rate among the victims of Israeli attacks. [1][2]
     In mid-October, Italian investigators reported forensic evidence that suggests the new weapon may also represent the near future of US “counterinsurgency warfare”. Combined with photographs of the victims and testimony from attending doctors, this evidence points to the use of Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME). [3]
     DIME is an LCD (“low collateral damage”) weapon developed at the US Air Force Research Laboratory. Publicly, it is slated for initial deployment in 2008. DIME bombs produce an unusually powerful blast within a relatively small area, spraying a superheated “micro-shrapnel” of powdered Heavy Metal Tungsten Alloy (HMTA). Scientific studies have found that HMTA is chemically toxic, damages the immune system, rapidly causes cancer, and attacks DNA (genotoxic). [4-11] -- See also: Israel's Weapons in Gaza

Did Obama Set-up Mitchell to Fail in the Middle East?
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD, Palestine Chronicle 1/22/2009
      George Mitchell, now a special envoy to the Middle East. (AP/file) In naming George Mitchell as special envoy to the Middle East, President Obama unfortunately made statements indicating no departure from the failing policies of previous administrations.
     In particular Obama emphasized Israel’s right to "defend itself", never once mentioned things like the occupation or International law, attacked Hamas (a duly elected movement that represents a significant portion of the Palestinian people), supported the strangulation of Gaza, demanded no resistance from an occupied people, and supported the Israeli occupiers in their violence that most recently killed over 400 children.
     This logic has been tried before including under the "aggressive diplomacy" of Bill Clinton and has yielded only a strengthening of Hamas, weakening of Fatah, continued Israeli colonization on Palestinian lands, and setting the stage for future conflicts. Further, such approach is even more untenable now after the setback of the June 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon and the current war on Gaza.

Worse than an earthquake
Kathy Kelly writing from Rafah, occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 1/22/2009
      "And really we don’t know enough about the kinds of weapons that have been used against Gaza."
     Traffic on Sea Street, a major thoroughfare alongside Gaza’s coastline, includes horses, donkeys pulling carts, cyclists, pedestrians, trucks and cars, mostly older models. Overhead, in stark contrast to the street below, Israel’s ultra-modern unmanned surveillance planes crisscross the skies. F-16s and helicopters can also be heard. Remnants of their deliveries, the casings of missiles, bombs and shells used during the past three weeks of Israeli attacks, are scattered on the ground.
     Workers have cleared most of the roads. Now, they are removing massive piles of wreckage and debris, much as people do following an earthquake.
     "Yet, all the world helps after an earthquake," said a doctor at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. "We feel very frustrated," he continued. "The West, Europe and the US watched this killing go on for 22 days, as though they were watching a movie, watching the killing of women and children without doing anything to stop it. I was expecting to die at any moment. I held my babies and expected to die.There was no safe place in Gaza."

Alarm spreads over use of lethal new weapons
Erin Cunningham, Electronic Intifada 1/22/2009
      GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - Eighteen-year-old Mona al-Ashkar says she did not immediately know the first explosion at the United Nations school in Beit Lahiya had blown her left leg off. There was smoke, then chaos, then the pain and disbelief set in once she realized it was gone -- completely severed by the weapon that hit her.
     Mona is one of the many patients among the 5,500 injured that have international and Palestinian doctors baffled by the type of weaponry used in the Israeli operation. High-profile human rights organizations like Amnesty International are accusing Israel of war crimes.
     Mona’s doctors at Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital found no shrapnel in her leg, and it looked as though it had been "sliced right off with a knife."
     "We are not sure exactly what type of weapon can manage to do that immediately and so cleanly," said Dr. Sobhi Skaik, consultant surgeon general at al-Shifa hospital. "What is happening is frightening. It’s possible the Israeli army was using Gaza to experiment militarily."

Israel Killed the Prospects of Peace
Hasan Afif El-Hasan, Palestine Chronicle 1/21/2009
      There is no winner in Gaza, but the big losers are Israelis who supported the massacres. It is very troubling and sad that more than 80% of the Israeli public supports, with no reservation, their government’s aggression against the Palestinians that murdered more than 400 children and 300 mothers in Gaza! A vast majority of the Israelis supported their military actions that have been described by the Red Cross, the UN human rights organizations and Amnesty International as war crimes and breaches of the Geneva Convention. These include "bulldozing houses with civilian families inside, killing civilians who were raising white flags attempting to escape the bombed war zone, opening fire on ambulances trying to reach the injured and firing white phosphorus shells and dime bombs on crowded civilian residential areas". The architects of these massacres, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, gained popularity among the Israelis, and some demanded that the military should hit the Palestinians even harder.
     The Israelis have become brainwashed sheep dancing to their sadistic and psychopath masters’ biddings, exactly like the Germans who supported the Nazi genocide in Auschwitz and Dachau. The main Israelis’ argument against the Palestinians in Gaza or the West Bank or the refugee camps or in Israel proper is that “the Palestinians are not Jews”, the same like the Nazis’ argument against the Jews that “they were not Germans”. The Israelis’ sense of arrogance and supremacy was expressed by Ehud Barak description of Israel as “a villa in the middle of a jungle”, a civilized nation surrounded by savages (Arabs!).

Al Nakba Redux
Stephen Lendman – Chicago, Palestine Chronicle 1/21/2009
      ’Because of the siege, conditions (in Gaza) were dire before December 27.’
     For Palestinians, the Nakba ’Catastrophe’ is their ’Holocaust’ six-month slaughter and displacement before and after the May 1948 establishment of Israel. In December 1947, Jews in Palestine numbered 600,000 compared to 1.3 million Palestinians. David Ben-Gurion ordered them removed and for "Every end with occupation, destruction and expulsion."
     He meant depopulation, destruction, mass slaughter, displacement, and erasing a proud people’s history. Palestine was to become Israel. Most of the job was completed, more in 1967, and thereafter incrementally until total dispossession is achieved. Gaza is the latest battleground. More ahead is planned. The struggle for liberation continues.
     In all respects, Gaza’s situation is dysfunctional and calamitous. Consider the dire medical state alone.
     The UK Lancet Medical Journal on Gaza
     The prestigious Lancet issued the following statement:
     "We find it hard to believe that an otherwise internationally respected, democratic nation can sanction such large and indiscriminate human atrocities in a territory already under land and sea blockade. The heavy loss of civilian life and destruction of Gaza’s health system is unjustified and disproportional .. The collective punishment of Gazans is placing horrific and immediate burdens of injury and trauma on innocent civilians." These acts are lawless, and we deplore "the silence of national medical associations and professional bodies worldwide....Their leaders....are complicit in a preventable tragedy" with potential long lasting consequences. -- See also: The pychological effects on children in Gaza

PM Brown, Here is My Shopping List – Satire
Gilad Atzmon - London, Palestine Chronicle 1/21/2009
      Gordon Brown the British PM has managed to come up yesterday with one of his most immoral and irresponsible announcements so far. In his desperate attempt to appease notorious Israeli war criminal leadership, Brown pleaded to redeploy the British Navy in the region. "We’ll send Royal Navy to help fight (weapon) smuggling," said the British PM.
     Mr PM, can’t you see for yourself the total carnage inflicted on the innocent Palestinian civilians by the IDF? Didn’t you follow, like the rest of us, the horrendous indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians perpetrated by the Israel army while being almost fully supported by the Israeli Jewish population? Did you also manage to miss the repeated Israeli usage of unconventional weapons against innocent civilians? Did you fail to learn about the repeated reports of Israeli bombardments of UN refugee centres?
     PM Brown, in case you do not realise, the Palestinian people urgently need weapons to defend themselves against one of the strongest armies in the world. It is the Palestinian people who need protection against one of the most immoral military powers in the history of humanity. For the last three weeks the Palestinian people needed the Royal Navy to intervene and protect them from indiscriminate shelling by the Israeli Navy. The Palestinian people needed the Royal Navy to impose a siege on Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat ports to make it impossible for America to supply Israel with weapon through the sea.The Palestinian people needed the British aircraft carriers to be deployed in the region so they could deter the IAF from dropping one-tonne bombs on innocent civilians.

Hamas Fights on Uneven Battlefield
Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service 1/23/2009
      UNITED NATIONS, Jan 22 (IPS) - In the 1967 movie classic the "Battle of Algiers", which recreated Algeria’s war of independence against France, a handcuffed and shackled insurgent leader, Ben M’Hidi, is brought before a group of highly-partisan French journalists for intense interrogation.
     One of the journalists asks M’Hidi: "Don’t you think it is a bit cowardly to use women’s handbags and baskets to carry explosive devices that kill so many innocent people [in cafes and night clubs.
     Responding with equal bluntness, the Algerian insurgent retorts: "And doesn’t it seem to you even more cowardly to drop napalm bombs on unarmed villages on a thousand times more innocent victims.
     Of course, if we had your fighter planes, it would be a lot easier for us," he adds. "Give us your bombers, and you can have our handbags and baskets."
     Like the Algerian insurgents, Hamas militants were not fighting on a level battle field - as the Israeli military unleashed its massive firepower on a virtually defenceless population in Gaza, killing over 1,300 Palestinians in the 22-day conflict.
     "Perhaps it would be interesting to see the roles reversed: the Palestinians with American fighter planes and battle tanks and the Israelis with homemade rockets," says one Arab diplomat, striking a parallel with the Algerian insurgency.

Israel behaves like Nazis
Samer Jaber and Justin Theriault, International Middle East Media Center News 1/22/2009
      Once again, the Israelis are behaving like Nazis.
     The research that has been compiled (including research that has been undertaken by the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (IICC)) to find evidence to prove that Hamas was using ambulances and other civilian infrastructure in their resistance operations, effectively using the Gazan population as "human shields", has zero credibility and no basis in reality, whatsoever.
     In the Israeli Lebanese war of 2006, Israel had made the same baseless claims; parroting in Western media sources, especially Canadian and American, that Hezbollah was using Lebanese civilians as human shields.Unfortunately for Israel, at least two independent human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and B’Tselem (an Israeli organization), conducted independent investigations in Southern Lebanon to assess Israel’s claims in this regard.
     Many analysts are now concluding that Palestinian civilians and civilian infrastructure were purposefully targeted by the Israeli Army, Navy and Air Force; just as Lebanese civilians and Lebanese infrastructure was purposefully targeted in 2006. The evidence to support this claim is mounting by the day. It curious that Western media outlets will plaster Israel’s baseless claims all over the television during times of war, but when independent human rights organization prove that Israel is engaging in war time propaganda to shield criticism of their war crimes, Western media remains silent.

Woe to the victors
Meron Benvenisti, Ha’aretz 1/22/2009
      The masterminds of Operation Cast Lead sought to characterize it in two contradictory terms: "the landlord has gone insane" and is retaliating with unbridled savagery; and "controlled rage," or a rational military operation that is aimed at deterring the other side. Alongside these two concepts can be added another: a repeated reflexive, instinctive response by a supplanting immigrant society.
     David Day, one of the most prominent scholars who has researched the process by which immigrant societies take control of indigenous populations, writes: "Such ruthless reactions to any sign of resistance from indigenous people has the effect of emphasizing in the minds of both the conquerors and the conquered the scale and completeness of the conquest and the uselessness of further resistance, although in the long term such worthlessness might undermine the moral claim of the supplanting society to the possession of the newly won territory."
     Indeed, there are many historical precedents in which the violent behavior of indigenous peoples against their dispossession has been used as a pretext for their expulsion and to justify a disproportionate military response, all under the guise of "a war on terror" whose goal is to break their spirit and usurp their land. An odious scent of imperialistic mildew wafts from the Gazan operation as well as similar operations that have been launched in the past.

Deadly Gas in Gaza
Mohannad El-Khairy, Palestine Chronicle 1/22/2009
      ’Hamas’ election victory complicated matters for BG and its partners.’
     As the ongoing massacre in Gaza accomplishes nothing more than a rising toll of over a thousand dead and five thousand injured Palestinians, world leaders scramble like head-less chickens to find ways to achieve a cease-fire, instead of stripping the Apartheid State of Israel (ASI) from its membership at the UN and declaring it an outlaw state.
     News media around the world carry daily coverage of the carnage, inviting ’experts in the field’ from both the Palestinian and Israeli perspectives.
     Yet I haven’t seen a single network expose the ASI’s long term motives behind its attacks: Gaza’s natural gas reserves.
     The current societal framework is in fact manufactured in a way that seldom enables the people to be empowered with information. Only when the exciting stuff emerges on television does everyone’s attention become so dedicated to the tube. In modern history however, wars are usually preceded by the eerie smells of reticent business deals gone bad. Quiet arrangements made by the Corprotocracy [the corporate-political class] that the masses are usually unaware of. -- See also: Israeli Invasion and Gaza's Offshore Gas Fields

Alastair Crooke Interview: Gaza conflict ’remains unsettled’
Al Jazeera 1/23/2009
      Hamas and Israel are observing separate ceasefires after a 22-day Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip.
     Alastair Crooke, founder of the Conflicts Forum think-tank, shares his thoughts on the conflict, the region and what Obama might bring to the mix.
     Al Jazeera: Can Israel be said to have achieved its aims through its offensive on Gaza?
     As time goes on, it will become more and more clear that Israel has not achieved the aims that it set for itself. The intended aim - that by an overwhelming show of force it would make people both docile and deterred - has not been achieved.
     The core of the conflict itself – the rockets and the issue of the opening of the crossings [into Gaza] – remains completely unsettled. And Israel has not defeated Hamas in a military sense, despite massive destruction of property and people’s lives.
     Inside Israel, there was enormous support for this operation. It wasn’t the same with the Jewish community outside Israel, where we have seen very clear differences of opinion about it, but in Israel there was a strong sense of the righteousness of what was being done in Gaza.

The pychological effects on children in Gaza
Hatem Shurrab, The Lancet 1/21/2009
      Hatem Shurrab, an aid worker with Islamic Relief based in Gaza, discusses the psychological effects of recent events that he has witnessed in children.
     Finally there is a ceasefire. Finally life in Gaza can begin to return to normal. Looking out of my window I can see scenes that would be normal in any other city, but that have been missing from Gaza for three weeks. Small things we all take for granted; the sound of traffic, children playing in the streets and people shopping for food. The sights and sounds of normal life.
     But things in Gaza aren’t normal. Everywhere you look you can see the devastating impact of the conflict; the death, the destruction and the grief. But some wounds you cannot see. The psychological wounds inflicted upon to the people of Gaza are not immediately visible but are there to see if you look closely.
     Today I visited Al-Faluja school which is sheltering some of the estimated 100,000 people who have been forced from their homes since the fighting started. The conditions in temporary shelters such as this are very difficult. There is little food and water, and people often have no way to keep warm during the cold winter nights.
     This school came under attack during the conflict, and the effects of this are still being felt. At the school I met 11-year-old Yasmin. As I was talking to her she hit another child and started a fight with a boy the same age as she was. I was shocked and saddened to see such young children behaving like this. When I spoke to her father he explained that three weeks ago she was calm and innocent, but is now aggressive and angry. -- See also: Maternal health in Gaza and An interview with a doctor at Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza