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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
10 January, 2008

Israel to step up assault on Hamas
Chris McGreal in Jerusalem, The Guardian 1/10/2009
The Israeli military appeared to be preparing for a major new ground assault against Gaza City and other towns tonight after dropping leaflets warning residents it was about to "escalate" its offensive against Hamas. The tens of thousands of leaflets, dropped on parts of Gaza City, the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya and the south of the territory, warned residents: "The Israeli Defence Force will soon escalate its operations against tunnels, weapons warehouses, terrorist infrastructure and terrorists all over the Gaza Strip. To keep yourself and your families safe, you are ordered not to be close to terrorists, weapons warehouses and the places where the terrorists operate. " Israeli troops were seen on the outskirts of Gaza City as the military kept up its bombardment by air, sea and land for the 15th day. At least eight Palestinians were killed by an Israeli tank shell in Jabaliya refugee camp, north of Gaza City.

Report: US hiring merchant ship for massive arms shipment to Israel
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – The US is seeking to hire a merchant ship to deliver some 300 tons of weapons to Israel from Greece later this month, Rueters news agency reported on Friday. Tender documents seen by Reuters show that the US Navy sought to ship 325 20-foot containers of what is listed as “ammunition” in two separate voyages from the Greek port of Astakos to the Israeli port of Ashdod. A "hazardous material" designation on the manifest mentions explosive substances and detonators. "Shipping 3,000-odd tons of ammunition in one go is a lot," one broker told Rueters, speaking on condition of anonymity. The US Defense Department had no immediate comment. The tender for the vessel follows the hiring of a commercial ship to carry a much larger shipment of arms in December from the United States to Israel ahead of the first wave of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.

EU said readying plan to restore Fatah-led PA rule over Gaza crossings
Haaretz Service and Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/10/2009
In an attempt to break an impasse that has stalled cease-fire talks aimed at ending the fighting in the Gaza Strip, European diplomats are mulling a proposal which would restore control of the Gaza Strip border crossings to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, the Times of London newspaper reported in Saturday editions. According to the proposal, Palestinian security personnel loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas would govern the border crossings with assistance from Turkish and French soldiers who would be stationed as monitors, the Times reported. Fatah had ruled Gaza until a Hamas-led coup ousted the secular faction, which has long dominated the Palestine Liberation Organization, in June 2007. Egyptian efforts to broker a Gaza cease-fire appeared on Friday to have to run into trouble because of disagreements with Israel over how. . .

Gaza officials: Massive sewage flood imminent
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/10/2009
Due to the ongoing Israeli invasion of Gaza, nearly 700,000 Palestinians have gone without water for days, and sewage pumping systems have stopped. In many places, raw sewage is running through the streets, and officials have warned that a massive sewage flood, like the one in 2007 that killed 5 people, could occur at any time. One million people in Gaza remain without electricity for nearly two full weeks. The deputy director of the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, Maher Najjar, told Israeli reporter Amira Hass that between 40 and 50 percent of the Gazan population are now without access to water. There are 37 sewage pumping stations in Gaza. Due to the lack of electricity, 5 of them are completely out of operation, and the remaining 32 are only partially operational. In March 2007, Um Al Nasser village in northern Gaza was completely flooded with sewage when a 6.

Palestinian Press Syndicate condemns Israeli targeting of press in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Salfit – Ma’an – Media organizations spoke out against the recent Israeli policy of targeting press members and buildings, calling it a policy of frightening the media into silence. The Palestinian Press Syndicate condemned Saturday the Israeli decision to target journalists working in Gaza strip and putting them in danger. The syndicate expressed grave concern over the Israeli bombing of the Jawwhara media tower. In a statement the syndicate noted that symbols representing the local and international press were covering the building and it could not have been mistaken for a separate target. “The aim of such acts is to frighten the press and reporters into halting coverage of what is happening in Gaza,” the syndicate statement said. The International Federation of Journalists (IFA), the Commission for Journalists’ Protection, international press organizations, demanded the protection of the Palestinian press working in Gaza.

IDF uses live ammunition to break up West Bank demonstrations
Nir Hasson and Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
Palestinians and Israeli left-wing activists claim that in the wake of Operation Cast Lead, the Israel Defense Forces has reintroduced the use of a semiautomatic rifle that uses live ammunition to disperse crowds that was banned after the second Intifada. The Ruger. 22 rifle was banned following the Al-Aqsa Intifada, in which it was used to break up protests and caused the deaths of a number of Palestinians, including youths and children. In 2001, the IDF’s then-Military Advocate General Menahem Finkelstein ruled that the rifle, used against protesters and stone-throwers, be viewed as a lethal weapon in all senses. The rifle has been used by snipers to shoot at protesters from the waist down, and last Friday it was used to fire on activists, eight of whom sustained light wounds to the leg.

Dozens of people injured in Jayyous demonstration for Gaza and against the Wall
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 1/9/2009
Another mass demonstration was held in Jayyous on January 9th, with protesters coming out to denounce the Occupation’s strategy of annihilation in Gaza, as well as its ongoing theft of village land with the Apartheid Wall. Over 700 people came to make their voices heard in Jayyous, which was designated as the main venue for protest for the entire Qalqilya district. This week, the Occupation forces stepped their brutality up to a new level, as five people had to be taken to hospital as a result of injuries from live bullets, and over twenty others suffered injuries from rubber bullets and tear gas. The demonstration began at 1:00, after the midday prayer. Participants gathered at the centre of the village, and marched to the south gate of the Wall. As they marched, the protestors chanted slogans demanding that the Occupation end its slaughter in Gaza, and denouncing the ongoing construction of the Wall.

Death toll in Gaza exceeds 850
Al Jazeera 1/11/2009
The Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip has risen to 854 and more than 3,350 injured as the Israeli offensive entered its third week. The air and ground attacks continued on Sunday with Israeli aircraft bombarding different targets in the strip and ground forces advancing further into the outskirts of Gaza City. Medics in the embattled Strip said three Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded by heavy Israeli tank fire and air strikes early on Sunday, some allegedly by banned white phosphorous shells that Israel denied using. Earlier, eight members of one family were among the fatalities, killed by an Israeli tank shell in Jabalya. "We were at home when the bombing started," Umm Mohammed, one of the survivors of the attack, said.

Norwegian People’s Aid car hit by Israeli missile
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Norwegian aid agency (NPA) reported Saturday that an Israeli drone fired a missile at the car of its aid workers, causing severe damage to surrounding buildings and totaling the vehicle. According to the report the car was “clearly marked with the NPA logo” and officials said it would have been “impossible for the personnel in control of the drone to miss that this was a humanitarian vehicle. ”The car was parked near the Ash-Shati Refugee Camp north of Gaza city when the attack occurred, and according to NPA spokesperson Petter Eide there are” no military targets in the area. ”Raymond Johansen in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the incident a “clear violation of international law,” and said the ministry was already in contact with the Israeli authorities over the incident.

Gaza official toll rises to 854 as airstrikes continue, bodies recovered
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Since midnight on Saturday morning Israeli fire killed 33 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on the 15th day of the Israeli offensive in Gaza. Most were civilians killed in or near their homes. According to Mu’awiyah Hassanain, the director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry, another 18 corpses were recovered in various locations of the Gaza Strip, raising the overall death toll to 854. The vast majority of deaths from Saturday were in the northern areas of the Gaza Strip, in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City and Jabaliya to the north. In southern Gaza Israeli strikes targeted factories and industrial buildings, while homes were left relatively safe. Medical officials put the overall toll in Gaza at 821 killed and more than 3500 injured. North of Gaza CityHospital officials said two children, brothers Ali. . .

As night falls on the 15th day of offensive; 854, including 230 children, 90 women killed
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/10/2009
As night fell on Gaza on Saturday, the army continued its illegal offensive for the fifteenth day killing 854 Palestinians, including 230 children, 93 women, 92 elderly, 14 medics and three journalists. At least 3681 Palestinians, 50% of them children and women, were wounded, 500 seriously, Dr. Moawiya Hassanen of the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported. On Saturday, Israeli shells killed eleven Palestinians, including several children, after the soldiers continued to pound several areas in the Gaza Strip. The latest three casualties were killed when the army shelled a house in Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip; ten residents were wounded. Medical sources reported that among the slain residents were the following children; Salman Salman, and his brothers Rami and Abdul-Mo’ty. Two more children identified as Ali and Amer Al Nather, were killed, their father. . .

Incoming secretary of state Clinton to name Dennis Ross as top adviser on Mideast, Iran
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
Dennis Ross, a former Middle East peace envoy who served under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, will in all likelihood be appointed a special adviser for the Middle East and Iran under incoming secreatry of state Hillary Rodham Clinton. Clinton is quietly building a new State Department team with seasoned diplomats as she prepares for her confirmation hearings next week, according to Democratic sources and officials familiar with the transition. The incoming secretary of state also plans to name former UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke to be special adviser for Pakistan and Afghanistan, they said. Clinton has settled on choices for a number of top positions, including high-profile special envoys who played prominent roles in her husband’s administration for South Asia, and pointmen for East Asia and Europe, they said.

Report: 8 killed by IDF shell in Gaza
Reuters, YNetNews 1/10/2009
Medical sources in Gaza report that eight people killed by IDF tank shell in Jabalya refugee camp; fatalities believed to of the same family -Palestinian medical sources reported Saturday that eight Palestinians were killed by an Israeli tank shell in Jabalya, a refugee camp in the north of the Gaza Strip. The fatalities are believed to be members of the same family. The IDF has yet to comment on the report. According to medical sources in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli offensive has claimed the lives of some 800 Palestinians, half of whom are believed to be civilians. The IDF announced Saturday, as in the three previous days, that there will be a three-hour humanitarian pause in the Gaza fighting. The military will hold its fire between 1 pm and 4 pm, in order to allow the Strip’s residents to stock up on essential provisions; unless imminent danger is detected.

No end in site as offensnive continues, more civilians continue to fall
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/10/2009
As the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip continued for the second week, the Israeli Army killed more than 804 Palestinians and wounded at least 3,300. On Friday night, the Palestinian resistance continued its clashes with the invading forces; fierce battles were reported on Friday night and early Saturday morning in Beit Lahia and al-Atatra. Doctor Moawiya Hassanen of the Palestinian Ministry of Health, reported Saturday that 804 Palestinians, including 230 children, 92 women, and 92 elderly were killed, and more than 3,300 were wounded; 400 seriously. Dr. Hassanen added that two reporters and three international women were among the casualties. He also said that the Israeli Army damaged 14 ambulances and killed 12 medics. On Saturday, twelve Arab physicians made it into Gaza; nine Egyptian, one Moroccan and one Jordanian.

Israel intensifies its raids on many areas of Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 1/10/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- In the early hours of Saturday morning, three Palestinians were killed, dozens were wounded and several civilian houses were destroyed during intensive Israeli raids on different areas in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli warplanes and navy bombed several civilian areas in the western areas of Khan Younis today, while other air raids on the Rafah city, south Gaza, led to the destruction of the house of an Islamic figure called Is’id Abu Jeledan. For his part, Dr. Muawiya Hassanein, the director of emergency services in the health ministry, stated that the death toll of the Israeli military aggression rose to 820 Palestinian including 230 children and 93 women in addition to a number of paramedics and journalists. He added that the number of Palestinians wounded rose to 3,350 400 of them are in serious condition.

IDF kills Gaza City rocket chief
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/10/2009
Amir Mansi killed in aerial assault while firing mortar shells at IDF forces in Strip - Senior terror commander killed: The IDF killed Amir Mansi, who was the commander of Hamas rocket cells operating in the Gaza City area. The army said Mansi played a major role in Grad rocket attacks on Israeli communitiesMansi was killed in an aerial assault while attempting to fire mortar shells at IDF ground forces. Two other Hamas members were hurt in the strike; their condition is unknown at this time. The attack that killed Mansi was carried out a short while after yet another IDF "leaflet bombardment" in the Gaza Strip. The Air Force dropped leaflets on the Strip warning residents that it plans to escalate its two-week-old offensive. The army said it has dropped the fliers throughout Gaza.

IDF warns Gaza residents: Strikes to intensify
Hanan Greenberg and AP, YNetNews 1/10/2009
Air Force drops leaflets in Gaza, instructing residents to stay away from terrorists - Army warns Gaza residents: The Air Force has dropped leaflets on the Gaza Strip warning residents that it plans to escalate its two-week-old offensive. The army said it has dropped the fliers throughout Gaza. It said the notices are meant as a "general warning. "The notice said Israel is about to begin a "new phase in the war on terror," and that it will "escalate" an operation that already has killed more than 800 Palestinians. Israel launched the offensive two weeks ago to halt years of Palestinian rocket attacks. "Strip residents: Two days ago, the IDF dropped leaflets in Rafah, warning residents and instructing them to leave their homes for their safety," the leaflet read.

Human Rights Watch: Israel using white phosphorus munitions in Gaza
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
A leading human rights group on Saturday accused Israel of using white-phosphorus munitions during its offensive in the Gaza Strip and warned of the risk to Palestinian civilians who live near the fighting. Human Rights Watch said in a statement that its researchers in Israel observed multiple air-bursts on Jan. 9 and Jan. 10 of artillery-fired white phosphorus near the city of Gaza and the Jabalya refugee camp. The group said Israel appeared to be using the munitions to make smoke screens to hide military operations - "a permissible use in principle under international humanitarian law. " But Human Rights Watch said the practice should be stopped in Gaza’s densely populated areas. "White phosphorus can burn down houses and cause horrific burns when it touches the skin," said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch: 'Israel is using white-phosphorus against Gaza'
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/10/2009
The 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons clearly states that armies are not allowed to use inflammatory weapons even against military targets that are amongst civilian population. - Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that the Israeli Army is using White Phosphorus in its artillery shells against the Gaza Strip. Researchers of HRW said that they observed on January 9 and 10 several artillery shells fired by the army near Gaza and Jabalia, and that these shells apparently included white-phosphorus. Using this type of shells is banned by the international humanitarian law, the group added. The shells can severely burn people and are capable of setting structures, fields and other civilian facilities on fire. The group added that using this kind of shells against the most populated area in the world, Gaza, causes magnified harm, and called on Israel to stop firing these shells.

Israel ’using white phosphorus’
Al Jazeera 1/10/2009
Human Rights Watch has called on Israel to stop using white phosphorus which it says has been used in military operations in the densely populated Gaza Strip. The US-based group said that its researchers observed the use of the chemical, which can burn away human flesh to the bone, over Gaza City and Jabalya on Friday and Saturday. "We went by Israeli artillery units that had white phosphorus rounds with the fuses in them," Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera. "Clearly it is [white phosphorus], we can tell by the explosions and the tendrils that go down [and] the fires that were burning," he said. "Today there were massive attacks in Jabalya when we were there. We saw that there were numerous fires once the white phosphorus had gone in. "International law permits the use of white phopshorus as an "obscurant" to cover troop movements and prevent enemies from using certain guided weapons, but its use is controversial as it can injure people through painful chemical burns.

Report: Israel tests US weapons in its war on Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 1/10/2009
WASHINGTON, (PIC)-- American press reports revealed that Israel, in its aggression on the Gaza Strip, tests part of a huge arsenal of weapons provided by the US during the past few years, adding that the US arms supplies encouraged the Israeli intervention in Gaza. The inter press service news agency quoted Mou’in Rabbani, an editor of the middle east report in Washington, as saying that the nature of the strong Israeli-American military relations and Israel’s persistence in making wars mean that its military establishment tests new weapons in real wars in the interest of the US. Rabbani added that the less effective style of the same weapons is sold at huge prices to Arab countries which in fact finance the US arms industry and its military grants to Israel. The Bush administration alone had provided Israel with security aid valued at more than 21 billion dollars in the last eight years including 19 billion dollars as a grant.

Dr. Barghouthi: 'Israel is executing civilians in Gaza, committing war crimes'
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/10/2009
Palestinian Legislator, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, stated in a press conference on Saturday at the Watan Media Center in Ramallah that Israel continues its crimes in Gaza for the fifteenth day, and is committing war crimes by shelling civilian homes and killing children, women and elderly. Dr. Barghouthi added that the large number of civilian casualties proves that Israel’s claims of targeting the fighters are false and outrageous. He demanded all statistics and cases be documented in preparation for an international criminal investigation, and he also demanded the formation of an international committee which would be in charge of prosecuting Israeli officials responsible for war crimes. The Palestinian Legislator also said that Israel is not only targeting civilians, but is also targeting medical personnel, as 13 medics. . .

UN probes raid on sheltering Gazans
Al Jazeera 1/10/2009
The United Nations says it has received reports that the Israeli military shelled a house it had moved Palestinians into, killing about 30 people. The incident allegedly took place on Monday in the Zeitun neighbourhood of Gaza City, a UN report said on Friday. About 110 civilians had allegedly been moved into the home by Israeli foot soldiers on January 4, and told to stay indoors, only for the building to be repeatedly shelled 24 hours later, the report said. The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) called it "one of the gravest incidents since the beginning of operations" by Israeli forces in Gaza on December 27. "Those who survived and were able walked two kilometres to Salah Ed Din road before being transported to hospital in civilian vehicles," OCHA said.

Israel Fighting Also the UN
Mel Frykberg, Inter Press Service 1/11/2009
RAMALLAH, Jan 10(IPS) - A United Nations report that Israel ordered civilians into a building and then shelled it marks yet more evidence of widespread targeting of civilians in the Gaza assault. The UN report calls for a war crimes investigation into Israel’s shelling of a civilian building in Gaza city Jan. 4. It described the shelling as "one of the gravest incidents" since Israeli infantry and armoured troops entered Gaza. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) cited eyewitnesses to report that on Jan. 4 Israeli ground troops ordered more than 100 Palestinian civilians into a house in Gaza city. Allegre Pachecho, deputy chief of OCHA, said that the following day the building was hit by Israeli shells. Israeli human rights groups say at least 30 people were killed in the shelling.

Investigation shows ’errant mortar’ hit UN building
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
A preliminary investigation into the fatal shooting by the Israel Defense Forces into a United Nations building in northern Gaza on Tuesday reveals the Israeli troops firing on the building missed their targets by some 30 meters. Hamas is claiming the mortar fire killed 42 people and left dozens wounded, but senior IDF officers say the figures are dubious and that Hamas is inflating the numbers. The probe, which was conducted by the Paratrooper Brigade whose troops were responsible for the area, found that the army’s location system to pinpoint launch sites indicated that militants had launched a Qassam rocket into Israel from within a yard adjacent to the courtyard of the UN building. The troops had intended to launch a smart missile to take out the Palestinian launch team but a technical malfunction made this impossible, according to the probe.

PA forces break up Gaza protest
Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
Ramallah residents were shocked on Friday when a protest against the Israeli offensive in Gaza was forcibly dispersed by Palestinian Authority security forces using tear gas and clubs. Youth from the Fatah movement assisted security forces in breaking up a rally of solidarity with the Palestinian faction’s rival Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Fatah said the protest was dispersed because Hamas supporters waved flags identified with the Islamic group, violating an agreement to only display symbols not affiliated with any party. Witnesses who are not members of either Palestinian faction said Fatah youth provoked the clash by shouting slogans supporting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as the protesters left a mosque. Demonstrators responded by shouting Hamas slogans, prompting security forces to intervene.

West Bank protests grow as the massacre in Gaza continues
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 1/10/2009
The entire West Bank was once again mobilized on Friday, with tens of thousands of people coming out to protest the Occupation’s ongoing slaughter of the people of Gaza. Many of the demonstrations were met with intense violence and repression from Occupation forces, resulting in several injuries. In Ni’lin, some 300 people participated in the village’s weekly demonstration. The rally began in the centre of the village, and then moved towards the Apartheid Wall, where protestors held their midday prayer on the land. Occupation forces disrupted the prayer, however, by firing tear gas, sound bombs and rubber bullets into the crowd. Clashes between villagers and Occupation forces continued into the evening, with five villagers being injured by rubber bullets. Similar events occurred in the village of Bil’in, where five more people were injured by rubber bullets during the weekly demonstration. One of the people who was injured was a cameraman for Al Jazeera.

Palestinian leaders affirm the right to demonstrate in reaction to PA police repressing some rallies
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Ramallah - Ma’an - Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and several members of Palestinian political parties held a joint press conference Saturday at the Watan Center for Media in Ramallah, asserting the rights of the Palestinian people to freedom of speech and expression. The comments came following several incidents of Palestinian Authority police repressing demonstrations in Palestinians cities against the Israeli atrocities in Gaza. The repression is seen as an attempt to ensure calm throughout the West Bank as Gaza continues to be bombarded. The Palestinian leaders said in a statement read aloud by PLC member Hanan Ashrawi that national unity in the face of aggression is essential and Palestinians have the right to continue to protest, and organize activities in unity. The statement also noted that it was the responsibility of political factions to ensure. . .

Statement issued by Parliamentary Lists’ Representatives and PLC Members
Palestine Monitor 1/10/2009
We, the PLC members and Parliamentary Lists’ representatives, affirm the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to express themselves including protesting and demonstrating in solidarity with our people in Gaza Strip in confrontation with the aggression, respecting freedoms and rights and not to violate them for any reason. We emphasize on the national unity and unity of our people in confronting the Israeli aggression and our determination to continue popular activities and events and uniting under the Palestinian flag and unified slogans. We reject the interference of the Palestinian security apparatuses in the west Bank in the demonstrations and their friction with the demonstrators, assaulting them and arresting some of them as has happened in some West Bank cities, last of which took place in the central demonstration on Friday 9 January in Ramallah.

Palestinian boy dies after being unable to travel for treatment
Palestinian Information Center 1/10/2009
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Palestinian medical sources told the PIC that an eight-year-old Palestinian boy called Mohamed Za’rab died after he suffered from a heart disease, adding that he was supposed to travel for medical treatment in the 1948 occupied lands. Hundreds of children were killed lately by Israel while many others are waiting to be transferred for medical treatment outside Gaza. In another context, the IOF troops stormed amid intensive gunfire at dawn Saturday the Burqa village in north of Nablus without any reported kidnappings. In the same context, the IOF troops invaded the Azmut village, east of Nablus and roamed the village streets causing a lot of panic among citizens. Israeli settlers had opened fire at noon Friday at a Palestinian teenager in the Qaryut village, south of Nablus.

Israeli soldiers open fire on stone-throwing demonstrators near Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Stone-throwing Palestinian demonstrators clashed with Israeli soldiers at an Isreali electric fence in the village of Qiffin, north of the West Bank city of Tulkarem. Head of the village council, Sa’eed Hersha, told Ma’an that Israeli forces fired tear gas and live ammunition. He said five young Palestinians suffocated on the gas and were treated by medics in the field. The demonstration was one of dozens taking place across the West Bank in response to the Israeli war on Gaza. More than 800 Palestinians, many of them children, have been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza over two weeks. [end]

Two Palestinians injured in clashes with the Israeli army in Hebron area
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Hebron – Ma’an – Two Palestinians were injured when clashed erupted between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli forces in and around the southern West Bank city of Hebron. One demonstrator was shot by a live bullet in theRas-A’rud neighborhood in the town of Su’ir. Local sources said that a group ofstone-throwing youth clashed with Israeli forces that tried to invade the town. Israeli soldiers responded by firing live ammunition. In the town of Beit Awwa, medical sources said 14-year-old Ahmad Abed Al-Qader Masalmah was shot in the neck by a live round after clashes erupted near the Israeli separation wall. [end]

US Senate Endorses Israel’s War on Gaza
Jeremy R. Hammond, Palestine Chronicle 1/9/2009
Kucinich was a lone voice in the Congress: ’Wake up America. ’ - The US Senate on Thursday passed a non-binding resolution promoted by the influential Israeli lobby AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee), effectively endorsing Israel’s war on Gaza. The resolution, entitled "A resolution expressing solidarity with Israel in Israel’s defense against terrorism in the Gaza Strip" recognizes "the right of Israel to defend itself against attacks from Gaza" and reaffirms "the United States’ strong support for Israel in its battle with Hamas". The resolution does not recognize the right to self-defense of the Palestinian people. The resolution criticizes Hamas for refusing "to comply with the requirements of the Quartet", which include to "recognize Israel’s right to exist" and to "renounce violence". It makes no mention of Israel’s continuing settlement expansion in the West Bank, also in violation of the Quartet requirements. -- See also: Senate resolution and House resolution passed 1-9-2009

Livni: Israel will not show restraint
YNetNews 1/10/2009
Foreign minister speaks with Washington Post, says Israel will not back down from Gaza offensive until operational objectives are met. ’We don’t ask the international community to fight with us. We ask it to give us some understanding and time’ - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni reiterated over the weekend that Israel will not tolerate rocket fire emanating form the Gaza Strip. Israel, she told the Washington Post, has no intention of reoccupying the Strip, but the international community would have to be patient and allow it to achieve the objectives set for Operation Cast Lead. When asked about the pressure placed on Israel by the international community to end the Gaza campaign, Livni said that she "doesn’t like the term ceasefire since it looks like an agreement between two legitimate sides. "At the end of the day, this is not a conflict between two states but a fight against terror.

Israel Rejects UN Truce Resolution, Widens Gaza Ground OP
Barak Ravid and Shlomo Shamir, MIFTAH 1/10/2009
The diplomatic-security cabinet rejected on Friday a United Nations Security Council cease-fire resolution and ordered the Israel Defense Forces to expand its current ground operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. In a communique released immediately after the cabinet session on Friday, the government stated it would not accept the UN resolution, declaring that "the IDF will continue to act in order to attain the objectives of the operation - to bring about a change in the security situation in the south of the country - this in accordance with the plans that have been approved upon embarking on the operation. " "Efforts to prevent the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip will continue," the cabinet statement added. As such, the cabinet also said Israel would continue to provide humanitarian relief to the local population in Gaza. The army will maintain its policy of declaring a temporary cease-fire so as to allow the supply of food and medicine to reach Gazans in need, the cabinet said.

Journalists see pattern in attacks on Gaza reporters
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Journalists working in the Gaza Strip are seeing a pattern of attacks on media professionals they think may be a deliberate attempt by Israel to muzzle independent reports of the onslaught in Gaza. In addition to an Israeli ban on international journalists entering Gaza in effect since November, there has been a rash of attacks on media in Gaza in the last 24 hours. Late on Friday afternoon, an Israeli drone fired a missile at the roof of the Jawwhara media tower, where journalists were broadcasting live. Two people were injured in the attack. Witnesses in and near the building said the missile crashed through the roof of the building, into a stairwell, missing the camera crews by a few meters. Journalist Ala Mortaji died Friday evening from wounds he sustained earlier in the day when Israeli tank shells hit his home in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City.

Barghouthi: Israel is stifling Arab press action in Gaza, West Bank and Israel
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Ramallah - Ma’an - Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouthi condemned the Israeli attacks on the Jawwhara media towers. The attack injured one reporter and destroyed the offices of more than 20 media outlets including local Arabic and satellite channels. “Israel forbade the foreign press from coming in [to Gaza] to cover the events [in order] to conceal its crimes,” Barghuthi said in a statement. He accused Israel of trying to suppress the voice of the Arab press as well by shelling the homes of journalists and destroying communications equipment that allow images of the Israeli crimes in the Gaza Strip to reach the world. The death of a photojournalist with the Algerian news earlier this week and the cameraman of the National Palestine Television Friday night as well as the arrest. . .

Gaza journalists protest Israeli targeting of media personnel and broadcasting centers
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Dozens of Palestinian journalists held a sit-in in front the Gaza City press quarter buildings, one of which was almost totally destroyed Friday night during an Israeli airstrike. The Saturday morning protest condemned the deliberate Israeli attack on press buildings, and the earlier killings of three media personnel in strikes on their homes. “Every drop of journalist-blood on this land,” said BBC correspondent in Gaza Shuhdi Al-Kashef "is testimony to the efforts of Palestinian reporters working to ensure a free Palestinian press. "He affirmed that journalists would not “drop their cameras” and would continue revealing Israeli crimes against civilians despite being targeted by the Israeli military. “Israel is crossing all the red lines,” said the director of the Ad-Dameer Human Rights organization Khalil Abu Shamalah.

Palestinian journalists condemn IOF targeting of journalists
Palestinian Information Center 1/10/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Forum of Palestinian Media Workers (FPMW) condemned on Friday the IOF attacks on Palestinian journalists, calling for these aggressions to be investigated. The FPMW said in a statement on Friday that there was an escalation of attacks on Journalists, adding that on Thursday an Israeli occupation rocket hit the flat of Palestinian photo-journalist Ihab al-Whidi, 34 years, killing him and his mother in law and wounding his wife and children. On Friday evening an Israeli occupation drone, fired a rocket at al-Jawhara tower which houses media offices and journalists were on its rooftop reporting what is happening in Gaza. The attack resulted in the wounding one of the journalists. The statement also said that the Abu Dhabi television cameraman was wounded on Wednesday while covering events in Rafah.

Mass protests held against Gaza war
Al Jazeera 1/10/2009
Protesters have staged rallies around the world to voice their anger as the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip entered a third week. Thousands of protesters marched on the Israeli embassy in Britain, while others took to the streets ofGermany, France, Lebanon, Australia and the West Bank. Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from London, said that the number of protesters in London was far bigger than at previous demonstrations in the UK capital. "That is an indication of how far things have moved on in the last week, deteriorating quite rapidly in the Gaza Strip with the Israeli ground offensive," he said. "That has filtered through to public opinion with far more people coming out onto the streets in London and capital cities across Europe.

Leading British Jews call on Israel to halt ’horror’ of Gaza
Peter Beaumont, David Smith, and Ben Quinn, The Observer, The Guardian 1/11/2009
A group of Britain’s most prominent Jews has called on Israel to cease its military operations in Gaza immediately, warning that its actions, far from improving the country’s security, will "strengthen extremism, destabilise the region, and exacerbate tensions inside Israel". Describing themselves, as "profound and passionate supporters" of Israel - and supporting its right to defend itself against the "war crime" of Hamas rocket attacks - they added that the current tactics threatened to undermine international support for Israel. The intervention, in a letter published in today’s Observer, came as fears grew that Israel was to launch a "new phase" of its military offensive inside the Gaza strip. Yesterday warplanes dropped leaflets warning Gazans "not to be close to terrorists, weapons warehouses and the places where the terrorists operate".

Ten thousands march against Israel in France
Middle East Online 1/10/2009
PARIS - Tens of thousands of protesters marched through central Paris and other French cities Saturday to denounce Israeli’s offensive in Gaza and express support for the Palestinian cause. Thousands of French men and women carried Palestinian banners, amid cries of "Israel murderer. " As the various groups gathered, portraits of slain Hamas chief Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah were carried behind those of revolutionary Che Guevara and Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez. A banner strung along a truck carrying a sound system declared: "Support for Hamas," as all the chants laid the blame for the fighting at Israel’s door. "We are all Palestinians. We are all children of Gaza," the cortege chanted as it set off down a treelined boulevard separating eastern Paris’ districts from the Marais, the city’s oldest Jewish quarter.

63 injured in Algiers protest over Israeli Gaza raids
Middle East Online 1/10/2009
ALGIERS - Algeria’s interior minister blamed "trouble-makers" for clashes at a protest against Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip that left 63 injured in the capital, including 23 police officers. "In Algiers, the marches have been infiltrated by troublemakers, who committed acts of violence notably by throwing stones causing injuries to 23 police officers and 40 other people, including two journalists," said a statement. Shops were sacked, cars damaged and windows broken during the unrest causing panic, said the ministry statement, quoted by the APS agency. The security forces arrested those responsible, it said. The ministry statement said that marches in the capital continue to be banned but added that several demonstrations organised the same day in other towns protesting Israel’s Gaza offensive passed off peacefully.

Criticism of Israel’s War Crimes Mounts
Jonathan Cook - Nazareth, Palestine Chronicle 1/9/2009
Criticism by international watchdog groups over the increasing death toll in Gaza mounted this week as the first legal actions inside Israel were launched accusing the army of intentionally harming the enclave’s civilian population. The petitions -- over attacks on medical personnel and the shelling of United Nations schools in Gaza -- follow statements by senior Israeli commanders that they have been using heavy firepower to protect soldiers during their advance on built-up areas. "We are very violent," one told Israeli media. There is also growing evidence that Israeli forces have been firing phosphorus shells over densely populated areas in a move that risks violating international law by inflicting burns on civilians. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, meanwhile, called the events in Gaza a "new Nakba", referring to the catastrophe that dispossessed the Palestinians in 1948. The Palestinian Authority revealed that it was planning to seek the prosecution of Israel’s leaders for war crimes in the international courts.

Jordan withdraws its ambassador from Israel
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/10/2009
Israeli sources reported on Saturday that Jordan withdrew its ambassador from Israel in protest to the ongoing Israel aggression in the Gaza Strip. The Jordanian move is a temporary measure, and the ambassador was informed to remain in Jordan until the offensive is over. The ambassador, Ali Abed, will be heading to Jordan immediately. Yet, political analysts say that the decision could be ignored by Israel, especially since this move does not necessarily mean permanent cutting of ties with Israel. The decision apparently came after thousands of residents protested in Jordan against the ongoing Israel offensive in Gaza. The Friday protest in Amman transformed into clashes with Jordanian policemen. King Abdullah of Jordan said that he is concerned regarding the offensive, and added that this attack "is a conspiracy against the Palestinian people, and an attempt to harm Jordan", the Arabs48 news website reported.

Status of diplomatic ties between Jordan and Israel unclear as Al-Ayad decides to remain in Amman
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Controversy over whether Jordan has called home its Ambassador to Israel has left the diplomatic status between the countries unclear. According to the Israeli daily paper Yediot Ahronoth Ambassador Ali Al-Ayad was pulled from his office in Tel Aviv on the orders of the Jordanian Foreign Ministry and asked to stay in Amman for the time being. According to a report by the Chinese agency Xinhua, however, the Jordanian ambassadorleft Israel for Amman before Israel launched its operation in the Gaza Strip. The agency reported Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy as confirming, however, that Al-Ayad has extended his stay in Amman and has not indicated when he will return to Israel. There have been dozens of protests on the streets of the Jordanian capital condemning the Israeli attacks on Gaza, and the Jordanian leadership has expressed deep concern over the Israeli violence over the past two weeks.

Egypt, Jordan resist calls to recall ambassadors
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
Egypt and Jordan resisted calls over the weekend to follow Venezuela and Mauritania, which have recalled their ambassadors to Israel to protest its operation in the Gaza Strip. "Our stand is firm and well known," an Egyptian official said Saturday. Since the start of the fighting, Cairo has gained importance as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. "We’ll expel the ambassador and then what? We have to hold talks with everyone," Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was recorded as telling officials in the past, regarding the ambassador to Israel. Israel’s ambassador to Venezuela left the country Friday, expelled by President Hugo Chavez in rejection of Israel’s attacks on Gaza. Chavez had given Ambassador Shlomo Cohen and some embassy personnel until Friday to leave the country.

Israel to extend Gaza operation despite int’l pressure
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/11/2009
PM, senior ministers determined to continue with ground offensive despite international efforts to promote ceasefire. Military sources say IDF seeks to step up pressure on Hamas, send more units into Gaza - The IDF must extend its operation inside the Gaza Strip in order to meet the objectives set for the ground offensive by the political echelon, senior IDF officials said on Saturday. Following a security discussion held Saturday night Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the military to broaden its activity in the Strip. The reserve units that were called up last week have completed their training and are currently awaiting orders in their bases. "Hamas suffered a substantial blow, has lost many men and its infrastructure sustained grave damages - and the IDF should carry on doing so," a high-ranking officer told Ynet.

’This is a new NATO’
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the amiable and effective Dutch politician-diplomat, is stepping down as NATO’s Secretary-General this summer after almost five years on the job. While in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv Sunday and Monday, Scheffer will meet with the political and military leadership for talks on the Middle East, NATO and Israel’s role in both. On the eve of his arrival, he laid out his views in an exclusive interview with Haaretz. Your visit to Israel happens to coincide with the latest round in the confrontation between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Though you take care to insist that no NATO peace-keeping forces should be expected in the Israeli-Palestinian context without a political breakthrough (an agreement between the parties, a mutual appeal to NATO and a UN mandate), the timing could renew interest in such a deployment to monitor or enforce a new cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

European Jews planning counter-protests in response to anti-Israel, anti-Semitic actions
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
In response to anti-Semitic incidents, threats and anti-Israel protests, European Jewish communities have decided to stage support rallies for Israel and its operation in Gaza. Rallies will take place in several cities in Holland and Belgium, as well as Rome, London, Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin and Vienna this week. At an Amsterdam demonstration last week against Israel’s actions, a Dutch legislator, the Socialist Harry van Bommel, was filmed calling for "intifada" in order to "free Palestine. " Dutch Jews held a pro-Israel rally in Hague on Friday. The Jewish community in Antwerp is planning a similar event today, in a park in the city’s center. Last week, 500 Jews showed up to protest outside the Iranian embassy in Brussels. Belgian and Dutch Jewish leaders conceded that while the demonstrations may contribute to the rising tension, they "cannot afford" to remain silent, as one community leader from Holland said.

’Shock’ and ’distress’ at cardinal’s likening of Gaza to death camp
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 1/10/2009
Israel said Saturday it was shocked and distressed by Cardinal Renato Martino’s likening of Gaza under Israel’s military offensive to a concentration camp. A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry said the cardinal, whose remarks appeared in an interview Wednesday, adopted the kind of language that Hamas and other Islamic militant groups have used to demonize Israel and equate it with Nazi Germany. "It was shocking to hear the same kind of terminology from such a high-ranking member of the church," Israeli spokesman Yigal Palmor said Saturday. "Using this excessive language is not doing justice and is not bringing peace any nearer and he should know better," Palmor said. "This kind of speech is deeply distressing. "

EU party to Israel’s crimes against humanity - NGOs
Daily Star 1/9/2009
BEIRUT: A coalition of Lebanese and Palestinian NGOs have accused the European Union of being party to crimes against humanity by supporting Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip. Protesters gathered outside the EU’s offices in Beirut on Thursday to deliver a letter slamming the 27-member bloc’s response to the "crimes" in Gaza. The letter, addressed to EU Ambassador to Lebanon Patrick Laurent, said the bloc "not only justifies these crimes, but has become party to them, by providing them legitimacy. " The organizations say the EU is taking no action to end the current military operation in Gaza by Israel, which they describe as a "massacre" and a "violation of human rights and crimes against humanity. "But EU officials have dismissed the accusations as being based on "misinformation. " Kamel Mohanna, coordinator of the Lebanese NGOs involved, said: "We ask [the EU] to take a fair position on the situation in Gaza.

Wives of Muslim country leaders condemn Gaza onslaught
Middle East Online 1/10/2009
ISTANBUL - The wives of the leaders of seven Muslim countries Saturday condemned the Israeli attack on Gaza and called on the international community to end the suffering of women and children there. They were joined by the daughter of the Libyan leader Moamer Gathafi after a meeting in the city of "Women for peace in Palestine. " The meeting was organised by Emine Erdogan, wife of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to a news agency report. Among those attending were Queen Rania of Jordan, Asma al-Assad, wife of the Syrian leader, Aicha Gathafi, daughter of the Libyan leader, and Wafa Sleimane, wife of the president of Lebanon. "I hope our meeting will be an instrument of pressure on Israel for the immediate halt of the attacks" on Gaza, Erdogan told participants in the meeting in an address carried live on Turkish television.

The blame game
Gamal Essam El-Din, Al-Ahram Weekly 1/8/2009
When Arab parliamentarians met in Cairo on Sunday to discuss Israel’s attacks on Cairo the result was a predictable hurling of abuse - The Israeli attack on Gaza caused divisions among Arab parliamentarians on Sunday. During a meeting hosted by the Arab League in Cairo Arab parliamentarians indulged in attacks and verbal clashes while some states, such as Syria, refused to send delegates at all. Jassem El-Sakr, chairman of the Arab Parliament, urged Arab countries to mend rifts and close ranks in the face of Israeli attacks on Arab territories, arguing that the Treaty of Mutual Arab Defence, defunct for more than four decades, should be re- invoked in the face of Israel’s repeated aggression against Arab land. A statement by the Arab Parliament urged Arab countries to collect more than $35 million in economic assistance for besieged Palestinians and said an Arab parliamentary committee would be formed to help reconstruct Gaza.

All eyes on Rafah
Amira Howeidy, Al-Ahram Weekly 1/8/2009
Egypt is under pressure to open the only exit from Gaza not under Israeli control. - The Israeli siege on Gaza continues to torment civiliansThe Egyptian government has adopted a defensive posture since its decision to keep the Rafah border crossing closed came under attack as Israel’s war on Gaza, begun on 27 December, escalated. In the course of a week President Hosni Mubarak addressed the issue twice. He said that Egypt will not open the border because Gaza is an occupied territory and remains, therefore, the responsibility of Israel, the occupying force. A few days later he said that Egypt would not open the border "in the absence of the Palestinian Authority and European monitors", a reference to the 2005 border agreement formulated between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel a year before the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections brought Hamas to power. The agreement expired a year after it went into effect and has not been renewed since.

Gazans under fire, under nourished
IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1/11/2009
TEL AVIV, 10 January 2009 (IRIN) - The World Food Programme continued to report an acute shortage of food in the Gaza Strip on 9 January, including fish, frozen meat, fruit and vegetables, bread and milk. Residents also said they could not find eggs. Gazans said farmers were afraid to go to their fields to collect produce, while the Israeli military’s ground troops, which were still present in Gaza, were dividing the enclave into sections and preventing transport between different areas. This was making it even harder to get fresh goods from agricultural areas to the urban centres. Two Gaza City residents told IRIN they were largely surviving on small quantities of food, mainly canned beans and other dry food. Getting the full picture of the humanitarian situation in Gaza remained difficult, as for the 15th day Israel prevented journalists from entering the enclave.

The UNRWA resumes work in Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/10/2009
The United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) announced on Saturday that it will resume its operations in the Gaza Strip. Adnan Abu Hassna, the spokesman of the UNRWA in Gaza, told reporters that the Israeli Army has given assurances to the UN that they will not attack the UNRWA facilities or staff. Last Tuesday, a UN run school was attacked. At least 43 civilians were killed and 100 others wounded, when the Israeli troops launched an attack on a school run by UNRWA in the northern Gaza town of Jabaliya. On Thursday of the same week, the military attacked an aid convey for the UNRWA, killing a driver and injuring another. In response, UNRWA announced on Thursday evening that the agency would halt all of its aid operation in Gaza.

UNRWA to resume aid distribution after Israel promises of safety for workers
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - After suspending the delivery of aid in Gaza on Thursday, UNRWA will resume its humanitarian work in the Strip after an Israeli assurance that attacks on its staff will not be repeated. On Thursday a UN truck driver was killed and another employee injured when Israeli troops fired on an UNRWA convoy en route to Gaza City from the Kerem Shalom border crossing where it had picked up humanitarian supplies. The UN agency had made prior arrangements with Israeli forces to ensure the safety of their staff during the mission. According to UNRWA, new promises from the Israeli military, from “the very highest levels” have satisfied the group that it is now safe to send staff into the field to collect and distribute emergency food and medical aid to Gazans. The UN agency said the Israeli Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv expressed deep regret over the incident that. . .

UAE raises 86 million dollars for Gaza in one day
Middle East Online 1/10/2009
ABU DHABI - A collection in the United Arab Emirates for funds to help Gazan civilians in the face of the two-week-old Israeli offensive raised nearly 86 million dollars in its first day, organisers said on Saturday. The fund-raising campaign, which began on Friday with a telethon, is due to continue until the first week of February, said Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed al-Nahayan, who is also head of the Emirati Red Crescent. UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan and Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum have also each offered to pay for the construction of 600 houses in Gaza to accommodate families left homeless by the Israeli onslaught, officials said. Gaza solidarity demonstrations were held on Friday in four of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, after the interior ministry granted authorisation, a rarity in the Gulf federation where street protests are generally outlawed.

Danish Church working to ensure Gaza hospitals maintain power
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an- The aid unity with the Danish Church is collecting blood, fuel and medical supplies for Gaza hospitals to ensure the facilities can continue to run despite the Israeli offensive on the area. Head of the Church’s Gaza program Omer Majdalawi announced that the church had provided the program with 7000 US dollars to purchase necessary equipment, particularly to buy fuel and generators so Gaza hospitals can continue to be powered. The group also provided daily meals for 1,300 in the Jabalia refugee camp for six days in cooperation with the World Food Programme. [end]

Israel Attacks UN Aid Convoys to Gaza
Jeremy R. Hammond, Palestine Chronicle 1/9/2009
Inability of UNRWA to deliver relief exacerbates the humanitarian situation. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has suspended operations in Gaza since coming under attack by Israeli military forces on Friday. A statement from the UNRWA said its temporary suspension "was compelled by incidents in which UNRWA staff, convoys and installations have come under attack. " The statement said, "On numerous occasions in recent days, humanitarian convoys have come under Israeli fire even though their safe passage through clearly designated routes at specifically agreed times, had been confirmed by the Israeli liaison office. " The suspension of operations was necessary due to "the nature, severity and frequency of these incidents". The suspension includes movement of staff throughout the Gaza Strip and vehicle movement, such as the delivery of aid into the territory.

Israel disappointed by UN resolution that avoids key demands on Gaza
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
Israel was disappointed by the UN’s resolution passed early Friday morning calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. Officials expressed additional disappointment with U. S. President George Bush’s refusal to veto the decision as well as by French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s broken promise to prevent the proposal from being finalized. In addition, Jerusalem was not happy with the resolution’s failure to incorporate the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces Gilad Shalit from his captors in the Gaza Strip. Officials in Israel estimated over a week ago that the UN’s Security Council’s decision on Gaza is a matter of time. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told the cabinet during the meeting in which it decided to go ahead with the ground operation in Gaza that Israel will have one week before the Security Council calls for a cease-fire.

Bush ordered ceasefire retreat at UN
David Usborne in New York, The Independent 1/10/2009
Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, was forced to step back from voting in favour of the Gaza ceasefire resolution at the UN Security Council after orders from Washington, diplomatic sources said yesterday. The US abstention on the resolution vote early yesterday, which clearly weakened its impact, was the final twist in a tumultuous three-day marathon of negotiations in New York. For the UN to do nothing in the face of the mounting civilian casualties was becoming increasingly untenable. But when three of the world’s top diplomats -- Ms Rice, David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, and his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner -- descended on New York on Tuesday to take action there was plenty of reason to believe that their efforts would end in tears. Most alarming was the prospect of a vote on a ceasefire text tabled by Libya.

Italy willing to send troops to patrol Gaza-Israel border
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - Intending to support the recent UN resolution on the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, Italy pledged to send troops to patrol the Gaza-Israel border of both sides agree to abide by the resolution. UN resolution #1850 calls for international troops to monitor the border between Israel and Gaza, as well as the Gaza-Egypt border in order to ensure neither side breaches the terms of a ceasefire. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Friday that Italy was interested in supporting the resolution, and confirmed that he believed Italian troops could help ensure “weapons smuggling” from Egypt was halted in the interests of maintaining any ceasefire that is established. Italy joins the calls of both Denmark and the Netherlands, who urged the European Union Wednesday to send patrols to the area.

Abbas: Israel must accept truce initiative
Associated Press, YNetNews 1/10/2009
Palestinian, Egyptian presidents, German foreign minister meet in Cairo in yet another attempt to end Gaza fighting. Abbas urges Israel to agree to armistice; asks for international force to be deployed in Gaza - Diplomatic efforts to end the fighting in the Gaza Strip were underway in Cairo Saturday, as German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the Egypt-sponsored initiative to end the Gaza conflict. Separately, Hamas officials are slated to meet with Egyptian officials as well. Israeli officials were in Cairo earlier this week to discuss a way to end the fighting, which began on December 27. Israel has said its offensive in Gaza is designed to stop rocket fire into its south.

Taher warns of attempts to abort resistance’s victory in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 1/10/2009
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Maher Al-Taher, the politburo member of the popular front for the liberation of Palestine, has warned that attempts were being made to abort the Palestinian resistance’s victory in the Gaza Strip. Taher, who is the representative of the PFLP abroad, said that the attempts were made by the UN Security Council and through the Egyptian initiative, which, he said, included "ambiguous articles that should be clarified". All regional and international efforts have failed so far to pressure the Israelis to end their aggression on Gaza, he elaborated. Taher said that all efforts should focus on ending the aggression on Gaza as a first step prior to any other move. The PFLP official lauded the UNSC resolution 1860 that called for a ceasefire, but pointed out that it should not be exploited to foil the resistance’s victory.

Mashaal rejects int’l presence in Gaza
Ali Waked, YNetNews 1/10/2009
Hamas politburo chief slams door on Egyptian ceasefire proposal, says group will treat any peacekeeping force as occupying entity -Hamas’ Politburo Chief, Khaled Mashaal, slammed the door on all Gaza ceasefire proposals Saturday, saying his organization would treat any international peacekeeping force in Gaza as an occupying entity. Speaking after Hamas representatives met with international officials in Cairo to discuss ceasefire proposals, Mashaal added that Hamas would not accept the inspection of the numerous smuggling tunnels in Gaza by international observers. "The objective of the war in Gaza is to subdue the Palestinian people and to dictate its political concessions," Mashaal said. " The resistance organizations are still at full strength - they took a beating during the first two days, but have since taken the initiative,". . .

New Truce proposal faces new obstacles
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/10/2009
On Friday, Israel rejected a UN resolution for a potential ceasefire, and soon after, Hamas also rejected it, saying it doesn’t distinguish between the occupier and the occupied. On Saturday, the Times newspaper in the UK reported a new attempt by international diplomats who are proposing the deployment of Turkish and French observers at the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossing. The new offer states that security forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah party would control the crossing under international supervision. It also calls for an immediate ceasefire which would be followed by talks on opening all border crossings and restoring calm. The borders would be monitored by Turkish and international observers. This initiative is based on the Egyptian-French initiative, but still faces several obstacles as Hamas has rejected the deployment of international forces at the. . .

Abbas presses Hamas to accept Gaza truce plan
Middle East Online 1/10/2009
CAIRO - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas pressed his rivals Hamas on Saturday to accept an Egyptian plan to end Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip, as a Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo to discuss the proposal. "We hope that the (Hamas delegation) will reach an agreement without hesitation," Abbas told journalists after meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who floated his plan on Tuesday. "The situation does not allow us to lose time," Abbas said as Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip entered its third week. Hopes for peace are increasingly focussed on Egypt’s mediation efforts since both Israel and Hamas brushed off a UN Security Council resolution on Friday calling for an immediate truce in the fighting. The Egyptian plan seeks to meet Israel’s requirement of preventing weapons going to Gaza through Egyptian tunnels and Hamas’s demand for a reopening of Gaza’s borders to normal traffic.

New initiative calls for PA control over Gaza-Egypt border
Ynet, YNetNews 1/10/2009
UK’s London Times reports of new diplomatic plan meant to help Palestinian Authority regain control of Gaza, Rafah crossing. Plan also proposes international force deploys at Kerem Shalom crossing -A new initiative meant to create a new foothold in Gaza for the Palestinian Authority and bring in international monitors, has apparently been drawn up by diplomats on Friday, as the UN ceasefire call was dismissed by both sides. According to a Saturday report in the UK’s London Times, the plan would allow for the PA, led by the secular Fatah faction, to reclaim the territory; 18 months after it was expelled by the Islamist Hamas. Diplomats are considering taking a triangle at the southern end of Gaza, including the Rafah crossing leading into. Egypt and the Kerem Shalom crossing leading into Israel, to be policed by Turkish and French military monitors, who would be tasked with thwarting arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1860
United Nations News Service, MIFTAH 1/10/2009
SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE, DURABLE, FULLY RESPECTED CEASEFIREIN GAZA LEADING TO FULL WITHDRAWAL OF ISRAELI FORCES Resolution 1860 (2009) Adopted by 14 in Favour, Abstention by United States;Also Calls for Unimpeded Humanitarian Assistance, Welcomes Egyptian Initiative Gravely concerned by the deepening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and the resulting heavy civilian casualties “since the refusal to extend the period of calm” between Israel and Hamas, the Security Council this evening stressed the urgency of and called for an “immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza”. Adopting resolution 1860 (2009) by a vote of 14 in favour with the United States abstaining, the Council also expressed its grave concern at the escalation of violence and emphasized that Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations

Security cabinet: Israel to continue Gaza op to pressure Egypt
Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff, Barak Ravid, and Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
The security cabinet decided Friday to continue Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, but not expand it at this stage. In the coming days Israel will focus its military and diplomatic efforts on pressuring Egypt to work toward the Israeli and international demand to deploy an international force to combat smuggling from Egypt to Gaza. Palestinian sources told Haaretz that Cairo demanded Saturday morning that the militant group respond to its cease-fire proposal within 48 hours. Egypt warned that if Hamas rejects its offer, Egypt would be unable to stop Israel from continuing its ground offensive. Senior officers in the Israel Defense Forces told Haaretz that for further achievements, the army will have to expand the operation by at least 20 days and include reserve units in the fighting. A senior officer in Gaza said Hamas’ capabilities were gradually eroding and that the group had lost more than 300 militants from its armed wing since the ground operation began.

Egypt pushes Gaza peace plan
Al Jazeera 1/10/2009
Egypt has called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip as it leads efforts to end the Israeli bombardment of the territory. Cairo is also calling for talks aimed at ending smuggling across the Rafah border and reopening the crossings with Israel. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and delegates from Hamas were in the Egyptian capital on Saturday to discuss the proposals. "The Egyptian proposal is the only mechanism. It is very clear-cut and once it is accepted, the aggression should end," Abbas said after meeting Hosni Mubarak, his Egyptian counterpart. "If any party does not accept it, regrettably it will be the one bearing the responsibility, and if Israel doesn’t want to accept, it will take the responsibility of perpetuating a waterfall of blood," he said.

Ban Ki-Moon calls Olmert to express disappointment over Israel’s non-compliance with UN resolution
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Friday, expressing his disappointment over the continued Israeli violence in the Gaza Strip. According to Ki-Moon’s spokesperson Michele Montas, the UN head is “working right now on those diplomatic channels,” to ensure that the UN Security Council Resolution, passed Friday morning local time, is implemented in Gaza. [end]

Jews, Arabs hold peace rally
Hagai Einav Published, YNetNews 1/10/2009
Hundreds of Israelis form human chain along Highway 65 with sign reading ’Hand in hand - neighbors for peace’ -Hundreds of Jews and Arabs from the north and center of Israel gathered near Kfar Kara’a on Highway 65 Saturday in a rally for peace. The only sign present at the demonstration read "Hand in hand - neighbors for peace". Guy, a resident of Maccabim who participated in the rally, told Ynet he had learned of the event through a widely distributed email. "It’s an Arab-Jewish initiative intended to boost coexistence between us in Israel, these days especially," he said. Those present stressed that they were not for or against the military operation in Gaza. They wore white and held hands to create a human chain along the road for one hour, without disrupting traffic.

Peace Now, Meretz hold Left’s first anti-war protest
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 1/10/2009
Peace Now organized the first demonstration of the Zionist Left since Operation Defensive Shield began two weeks ago on Saturday night outside the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. The event marked a change in direction for the organization, which had previously limited itself to calling for a cease-fire via an on-line campaign. Peace Now expressed understanding for the operation when it began, but started calling for a cease-fire six days into the fighting. "Calls for a cease-fire are not anti-IDF," Peace Now secretary-general Yariv Oppenheimer said at the rally. "We just don’t want the soldiers to lose their lives in an operation that should not be continuing. The Left was divided at the start of the fighting. But when the choice is between staying in Gaza for years or leaving now, it is clear what we support.

New Meretz leftist party launches campaign against IDF operation in Gaza
Roni Singer-Heruti, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
The new left-wing party spearheaded by Meretz is launching a campaign against the Israel Defense Forces’ operation in the Gaza Strip. This reverses the party’s decision to suspend its election campaign until the fighting ends. The new drive makes it clear that Israel must negotiate with the Palestinians, particularly in light of the recent fighting against Hamas in Gaza. "No compromises - we need a political solution," is the slogan chosen by the party’s campaign strategist, Dror Sternschuss. Days before the operation started in late December, Meretz called for military action against Palestinian militants firing rockets and mortar shells at Israel. This stance was unusual for the party - its officials supported air strikes on Gaza, but they opposed the army’s ground offensive. "The time has come to act without compromise and without narrow political considerations to protect. . . "

Chavez praises Israeli anti-war protestors
Israel News, YNetNews 1/10/2009
Venezuelan leader sends message of support to participants at northern Israel rally - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez offered words of support for the Palestinians in a message read during an anti-war rally in northern Israel Saturday. Thousands of Hadash party activists took part in the rally against the IDF operation in the Gaza Strip, while dozens of right-wing activists demonstrated outside the venue in Nazareth Ilit. In his message to the protestors, which was read to the crowd during the event, Chavez said: "We are not united by one nationality; rather, what unites us is"¦The blood shed in Gaza is the blood of humanity. Venezuela kisses each and every one of you and stresses that it supports the Palestinian people and all those who suffer from the occupation.

Israelis protest Gaza offensive: Our Zionism does not make us crave blood and war
Ofri Ilani, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
Some one thousand Israeli activists from Peace Now and the left-wing Meretz party protested Saturday against the offensive in Gaza, opposite the Defense Ministry compound in Tel Aviv. "We have assembled to call on Israel to think twice before expanding the [Gaza] operation, we are here because we care about the IDF soldiers," said Peace Now chief Yariv Oppenheimer. Israel indicated Saturday that it would begin a third phase of its two-week operation aimed at halting rocket fire on its southern communities, dropping leaflets in Gaza warning civilians that it plans to step up its military campaign. "This is a demonstration that includes many true Zionists who fear for peace in the country, but our Zionism does not make us crave blood and war," Oppenheimer said.

Time to decide
Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
Israel Defense Forces officers refrained from criticizing the executive branch yesterday over its lack of decision concerning the future of the ground operation in the Gaza Strip. This silence was a direct lesson learned from the Second Lebanon War. Yet senior army officials could not entirely conceal their concern that the indecisiveness may cost Israel dearly. "The army cannot go on like this forever," former National Security Council head, Maj. Gen. (Res. ) Giora Eiland, said. "We need to reach a decision: Either reach a cease-fire in two to three days, or start a big military operation that will take at least two weeks. We’ve been beating around the bush for a week, and we need to make a decision now. "Eiland’s anger and directness stems from his realization that the military and the government are out of synch.

The next move
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
Colonel A. , a GOC Southern Command intelligence officer, is one of the central figures responsible for the professional successes of Operation Cast Lead, and one of the youngest. When GOC Southern Command Yoav Gallant was appointed commander of the southern operational arena, A. , an avid bicyclist, was selected as head of the intelligence team preparing for the "Tour de Gaza. " The group included various units of Military Intelligence, including Unit 8200 (responsible for deciphering signals and code), an operational brigade, the Shin Bet security service, Southern Command and Gaza Division intelligence collection units, field intelligence and the air force and navy. All of these have been vested with the responsibility of collecting data and creating a target bank for units operating in Gaza in recent weeks.

IDF: Whole Hamas battalions wiped out
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/10/2009
Is Hamas falling apart? Senior IDF officer says roughly 300 Hamas men killed since army launched ground incursion, whole Hamas battalions wiped out in dozens of clashes with troops over weekend; terror group also hit by wave of desertions, official says - Is Hamas falling apart? A senior IDF officer estimated Saturday that roughly 300 Hamas men have been killed since the army launched its ground incursion in the Gaza Strip. The military official said IDF troops were able to wipe out whole battalions belonging to the Gaza terror group. "Hundreds of people were killed in the various combat sectors," the officer said. "Some Hamas companies and battalions were simply wiped out. We also see cases of desertions and unauthorized leaves, while some terror activists are scared to undertake moves that would jeopardize them vis-à-vis IDF troops.

IDF says Hamas showing signs of tiring
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
On the 15th day of Operation Cast Lead, a senior Israeli military commander involved in the Gaza invasion told Haaretz that Hamas militants are suffering from exhaustion and are, for the first time, beginning to desert their battle stations. Further, the commander told reporters that Amir Mansi, the commander of Hamas’s rocket-launching program in the Gaza City area, was killed yesterday by the Israel Defense Forces while himself firing mortars. The officer said that Mansi went outside after junior Hamas operatives refused to expose themselves, fearing an Israeli strike. Mansi, according to the IDF, fired mortars at a force of combat soldiers from the Golani infantry brigade. Mansi was killed along with two other combatants who did venture outside with him, according to the Israeli army. The number of Palestinian casualties yesterday reached 860, after some 100 additional casualties, many of who were civilians, died over the weekend.

Hamas: Gaza war an end to peace bid
Al Jazeera 1/11/2009
Hamas has said that the Gaza war has put an end to chances of negotiations with Israel, calling on Arabs to pressure Tel Aviv to seize its attacks on the Gaza Strip. In a televised speech on Saturday, Khaled Meshaal, the exiled-Hamas political leader, said Israel’s offensive on Gaza, which have killed over 800 Palestinians, had failed because Hamas was still firing rockets at Israel. "You have finished off the last chance and breath for settlement and negotiations," Meshaal said. "In all modesty. . . I can say with full confidence that on the military level the enemy has totally failed, it has not achieved anything. Has it stopped the rockets? "he asked of Israel’s declared aim in launching the offensive. Meshaal called on Arabs to pressure their leaders and the international community through protests. "We are living the hardest moments of the resistance now, we want another intifada in Palestine and on the Arab street," he said, calling on the Arabs to continue protesting.

Jibril: Israel failed to achieve its objective of eliminating resistance
Palestinian Information Center 1/10/2009
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Ahmed Jibril, the secretary-general of the popular front for the liberation of Palestine-the general command (PFLP-GC), stated that Israel failed to achieve its stated objectives of stopping rocket attacks and eliminating the resistance. In an exclusive press statement to the PIC, Jibril said the Palestinian resistance achieved a victory over the Israeli aggression, but not a complete one because there are still political decoys which were entrusted to Egypt to place in the way of the resistance in Gaza, warning the resistance of falling into these traps. The Palestinian leader also underlined that the first part of the security council’s resolution which demanded Israel to stop its military aggression, withdraw from Gaza and open all crossings before humanitarian aid is a victory for the Palestinian resistance.

In Washington, All Roads Lead to Tehran
Daniel Luban, Inter Press Service 1/11/2009
WASHINGTON, Jan 9(IPS) - As the war in Gaza approaches its third week, a chorus of influential voices in the U. S. media has cast the conflict as a proxy war in which the real enemy is not Hamas but Iran. The result has been a growing tendency in the U. S. to view Gaza as simply one battleground in a larger war between Iran and the West, and to dismiss the stated concerns of the Palestinians as a mere smokescreen for Iranian influence. But critics charge that this way of framing the conflict is both overly simplistic and agenda-driven. By overstating the importance of Iran’s operational aid to Hamas, they claim, these opinion-makers aim to increase hostilities with Iran, to bolster an increasingly shaky Israeli rationale for war, and to curtail any inclination to reach a peace settlement with the Palestinians. For years, it has been a commonplace among neoconservatives that Iran is the real source of opposition to the U.

7 soldiers wounded in Gaza
Ynet, YNetNews 1/10/2009
Meanwhile, Four Gazans killed by tank shell, one killed in strike on vehicle as Air Force bombs dozens of targets - Seven IDF soldiers were lightly wounded in various clashes in northern Gaza throughout the day. The troops were evacuated to hospitals in Israel but only one was hospitalized. Fourteen soldiers are currently hospitalized due to injuries sustained in the fighting. Three of them are seriously wounded, three moderately, and the rest lightly. Meanwhile, the Air Force bombed more than 60 targets in Gaza Saturday, including rocket launchers, and Palestinian sources reported that at least five people were killed in the strikes. Among the targets bombed were the rocket launchers used by terrorists to fire at Ashdod in the afternoon.

Al-Aqsa Brigades say projectiles launched from Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Gaza - Ma’an – The Al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, claimed responsibility for launching two homemade projectiles at the Israeli town of Kfar Aza, east of the Gaza Strip on Saturday night. The Brigades said this attack was a response to the “ongoing massacre” committed by Israel in Gaza. [end]

Israeli shells hit home of Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades commander
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Gaza - Ma’an - Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades announced the death of field commander Shams Omar as Israeli shells targeted his home in the Ash-Shati refugee camp on the northern Gaza coast. The Al-Quds Brigades said Omer had participated in battles with the Israeli army. [end]

Al-Qassam Brigades says missiles now have range of 50km
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas’ military wing said on Saturday evening that its missiles now have a range of 50 kilometers, claiming to have launched a Grad missile at an Israeli military base. In a statement the Al-Qassam Brigades said that it launched the missile at a military base that is used as a storehouse for Patriot missiles and other weaponry. “This shelling came within the battles carried out by the Brigades in the war waged by Israel on Gaza,” the group said. [end]

Palestinian Water Authority: Israeli bombing could cause repeat of massive sewage flood
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Ramalah – Ma’an – The Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) based in Ramallah warned on Saturday that damage caused by Israeli bombs could cause a massive, deadly, wastewater tsunami in the northern Gaza Strip. The PWA raised the specter of a catastrophic sewage flood in the Gaza Strip town of Umm Nasser, where massive cesspits overflowed their banks, inundating an entire town and killing six people and displacing 2,000 others. The PWA is now saying that the 4 million cubic meters of sewage stored in the cesspools could overflow again, threatening 15,000 people and large swaths of farmland. According to the Authority, water, sanitation, and electricity infrastructure in Gaza have all been shelled by invading Israeli forces. Seven wells were destroyed by airstrikes, the water authority said, including two in Jabaliya and Ash-Shuja’iya.

Gaza residents: IDF troops posing as Hamas men
Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
The testimonies of Gaza Strip residents are revealing new details about the Israel Defense Forces’ mode of operation there. In the past two days, Beit Lahia residents forced from their homes said soldiers were posing as members of Hamas’ armed wing while advancing on the ground. The daily pauses in bombing allow Gazans to meet with the displaced - most of whom are housed in an UNRWA school - and hear their stories. Gaza resident S. told Haaretz he heard several people say they saw armed men wearing the uniforms and symbols of the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, who "called out to each other in Arabic, as if they had caught a collaborator, and then, with the element of surprise, went into the houses. "A Gaza radio station warned that troops posing as locals were driving a vehicle normally used by paramedics.

Welcome to Hell: Gaza’s unending misery
Ibrahim Barzak, Kim Sengupta, Geoffrey Lean and David Randall, The Independent 1/11/2009
A family of nine is among the latest Palestinian civilian casualties as the fighting continues - Israeli forces yesterday pounded dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip and dropped leaflets warning of an escalation in attacks, as southern Israel came under renewed Palestinian rocket fire. Last night, as flames and smoke rose over Gaza City, speculation grew that Israel was about to launch the so-called third stage of its offensive: the forcible entry into Gaza City by thousands of troops. In response, Hamas said that the Gaza offensive had "killed the last chance for settlement and negotiation with Israel". Earlier yesterday, Israeli aircraft attacked more than 40 targets throughout Gaza, striking 10 rocket-launching sites, weapons-storage facilities, smuggling tunnels, an anti-aircraft missile launcher and gunmen. And civilians. In the day’s bloodiest incident, an Israeli tank shell landed outside a home in the northern Gaza town of Jabaliya, killing nine people as they sat in their garden.

Palestinian fighters clash with Israeli troops in northern Gaza; five soldiers dead - projectle fire continues
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Gaza’s armed factions launched projectiles at the western Negev Saturday, and continued to clash with Israeli ground troops in Gaza, reportedly injuring five soldiers near the borders of the Strip. Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds fighters attacked Special Forces as they rested in a home in the northern Gaza Strip near the American school. The Brigades statement said fighters used Rocket Propelled Grenades and medium grade weaponry to surprise the soldiers, saying a number were killed during the operation. All Al-Quds fighters were able to flee the scene safely, according to a statement from the group. Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades said they detonated two explosive devices near Israeli soldiers and shot an Israeli soldier with sniper fire on Mount Kashef east of Gaza City. The group said they also targeted a configuration of soldiers east of Jabaliya with RPGs and shot at soldiers near the Gaza Strip borders.

Hamas: The IOF targets civilians, avoids confrontation with resistance
Palestinian Information Center 1/10/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas said on Friday that most of the targets attacked by the Israeli occupation airforce ad ground forces have been civilian targets and that the resistance has lost very little so far. Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, said that the targeting by Israelis of civilian installations indicates a grave military and political failure on the part of the Israeli occupation. "The more than 1000 targets struck by the Zionist enemy were civilian, including universities, hospitals, mosques and houses. This sort of targeting indicates a failure on the part of the enemy which has so far not confronted the resistance on the ground. "He pointed out that the Israeli occupation ground forces remained close to borders and in open areas to avoid confrontations with the resistance. Meanwhile, the Qassam Brigades announced that in addition to the 8 IOF troops killed. . .

Islamic Jihad seizes IDF rocket, hotdogs
Ali Waked, YNetNews 1/10/2009
Palestinian group boasts loot taken from IDF soldiers, including uniforms, hotdog packages - Islamic Jihad’ published Saturday evening photos of IDF weapons and equipment allegedly seized by its military wing. The group claims its members collected the loot following heavy exchanges of fire between gunmen and IDF troops barricaded in a house east of Khan Younis. A statement published by Islamic Jihad’s military wing said group members were able to seize a LAW rocket, two-way radios, medicine, and clothes. Photos published by the group also feature empty packages of Israeli hotdogs left behind by IDF troops. Weapons, medicine, and hotdog packagesIslamic Jihad said the equipment seized included blood-soaked IDF uniforms. The group said the incident in question took place Friday yet the details were only being published at this time due to security considerations.

Islamic Jihad releases photos showing seized Israeli weapons
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The armed wing of Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades, released photos on Saturday that they say show weapons seized from the Israeli military during a surprise attack on Israeli troops north of Gaza City. The photos, posted on the group’s website, show masked Islamic Jihad fighters displaying what appears to be a rocket launcher stamped with Hebrew writing and a variety of bullets. The Israeli military, contacted by Ma’an, has yet to respond to the photos. The Al-Quds Brigade salso claimed to have caused casualties among the Israeli soldiers while attacking them with RPGs and rifles. They said the attack took place near the ruins of the American international school in northern Gaza. They claimed to have shot an Israeli soldier in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza. The Al-Quds Brigades claimed joint responsibility with the Al-Aqsa Brigades for. . .

IDF: 300 Hamas operatives killed in Gaza
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 1/10/2009
IDF troops in the Gaza Strip on Saturday targeted Hamas operative Amir Mansi, a senior member of Izzadin Kassam, the group’s military wing. A senior commander of IDF operations in the Strip said that Mansi was the head of the Gaza Strip rocket division, and was previously involved in dozens of rocket attacks against Israel in recent weeks. He was also known to be a close associate of Hizbullah, and received information from the group on a regular basis. Mansi was killed while attempting to fire mortars at Givati troops at Jabal Rice, in the northern Gaza Strip. Two other combatants were also hit. The IDF commander said the fact that Mansi was personally involved in attacking Israeli troops showed that the Hamas military wing was in a serious state of distress, as senior Hamas operatives would not ordinarily venture out into battlefields.

15th day under attack: death toll in Gaza reaches 811, journalists attacked by the Israeli Army
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/10/2009
On Saturday afternoon, an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip killed seven civilians from the same family, sources in Gaza reported. Doctors reported that an Israeli missile was fired from an unmanned Israeli drone at a grocery store in the northern Gaza Strip, killing seven people from the same family. Doctors added that those killed were from the Abed Rabo family, including Randa Abed Rabo, age 45, and her son Soufyian, age 27. Earlier, Palestinian sources reported that Israeli forces shelled on Saturday at dawn residential areas located in Kahn Younis, Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and Gaza city, along with nearby refugee camps in the central coastal Region. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza reported that the death toll in Gaza due to the continued Israeli attacks on Gaza now stands at 811, with 3,300 injured.

Israeli artillery shell kills entire family
Palestinian Information Center 1/10/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- An Israeli artillery shell fired at the home of a Palestinian family in eastern Jabalia refugee camp north of the Gaza Strip on Saturday killed the entire family members. Local sources reported that eight members of the Abed Rabbo family were killed in the explosion of that bomb while a Palestinian from the Baba family was killed in a nearby home. The sources said that the bodies of all members of the family were shredded in the bombing. The Israeli occupation forces ever since their invasion of the Gaza Strip two weeks ago have killed a number of entire families and are still committing massacres in the Strip on daily basis. In retaliation to the IOF ongoing crimes, Palestinian resistance factions fired three Grad missiles at Ashkelon city wounding four Israelis and damaging three buildings.

Unidentified gunmen kill 13-year-old schoolboy near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Nablus - Ma’an - Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a 13-year-old boy south of Nablus Saturday afternoon. Security sources confirmed the death of 13-year-old Jamal Khairy Mussalam as he walked home after school. Medical sources at the Rafidia hospital in Nablus reported that the boy was seriously injured when he arrived in the hospital, and died a few hours after. Palestinian police are investigating the incident. [end]

Gaza rocket strikes Ashkelon, injuring ’14’ Israelis
Yanir Yagna, and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
After a relatively quiet night, Palestinians in Gaza resumed rocket fire on Israel’s southern communities on Saturday. At around 4:30 P. M. , a rocket struck the city of Ashkelon, moderately wounding one person and lightly hurting 13 more. Twenty-three people were treated for shock. Two more rockets hit open areas near Ashkelon, causing no casualties or damage. Two Grad rockets struck Ashdod and another rocket hit an open area in Gan Yavneh. No injuries or damage were reported. Four Palestinian rockets struck Ashkelon Saturday morning, according to Israel Radio. Three Israelis were injured lightly in the attack. One of the injured sustained shrapnel wounds while the other two were wounded by the impact of the rocket explosions. One rocket directly struck a four-story home while another hit near a residential building, Israel Radio reported.

Yemen begins trial of 3 men accused of spying for Israel
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 1/10/2009
A Yemeni state security court on Saturday began the trial of three young countrymen accused of spying for Israel. The prosecution charged the three young men, aged between 23 and 26, with "establishing contacts with the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and offering to work as agents for the Mossad intelligence agency. "They are also accused of operating under a fake organization called the "Islamic Jihad of Yemen" and spreading false statements and news and claims of responsibility for attacks on embassies and foreign interests in Yemen between last year. Prosecutors said the group’s leader Bassam Abdullah al-Haidari,26, had sent letters by email to Olmert, offering to work for the Mossad. They said the defendants had received a positive reply fromIsraeli officials, who allegedly welcomed the offer for collaboration.

Yemen tries Islamists for alleged contact with Olmert
AFP Published, YNetNews 1/10/2009
Prosecution claims members of Yemeni Islamic Jihad sent email to PM offering to collaborate in attacks on government buildings - Olmert’s terrorist buddies? A Yemeni court began on Saturday the trial of three Islamists accused of establishing contact with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and offering to collaborate with the Jewish state. The three men are accused of operating under the name of Yemen’s Islamic Jihad and spreading false news of attacks on government buildings, embassies and foreign interests in Yemen between May and September 2008. The prosecution charged the main defendant, Bassam al-Haidari, 26, of writing directly to the prime minister of Israel by email, offering to work for the Jewish state. "We are the Organization of Islamic Jihad and you are Jews, but you are honest, and we are ready to do anything," Haidari said in the email sent to Olmert, the prosecution charged.

Tehran Opts for 'Moral Support' in Gaza War
Analysis by Kaveh Afrasiabi, Inter Press Service 1/11/2009
WASHINGTON, Jan 10(IPS) - Although the administration of U. S. President George W. Bush and Israeli leaders have depicted the ongoing crisis in Gaza as part of a larger struggle against Iran and its "proxies", Tehran’s involvement with the Palestinians is rather limited. Despite their condemnation of Israel’s actions and the waves of pro-Hamas demonstrations across Iran, its rulers have no intention of escalating the crisis, let alone becoming directly engaged. Instead, their main intention is to utilise their regional influence in favour of an "honourable truce" that would give the Islamist group a face-saving exit from the war. While Iran’s spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has spoken favourably about martyrdom in defence of the Palestinian cause, and tens of thousands of Iranians have reportedly signed up as volunteers to fight Israel, nevertheless Tehran has made it clear that no one will be sent with the sanction of the state.

New York Times: U.S. spurned Israel plan for Iran reactor attack
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
U. S. President George W. Bush deflected Israel’s secret request last year for bunker-busting bombs it wanted for an attack on Iran’s main nuclear complex, saying he had authorized covert action to sabotage Tehran’s suspected atomic weapons development, The New York Times said. Citing U. S. and foreign officials, the Times reported on Saturday the White House was unable to determine whether Israel had decided to carry out the strike before Washington objected or whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was trying to get Bush to act more decisively before he leaves office this month. Israel, widely believed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, bombed the site of a suspected atomic reactor in Syria in 2007. Details of the expanded U. S. covert program and the Bush administration’s efforts to talk Israel out of attacking. . .

Iran: Egypt partner to Gaza crimes
Reuters Published, YNetNews 1/10/2009
Ahmadinejad urges Egypt to announce whether it is Israel’s ’partner’ - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on Egypt on Saturday to clarify whether it is a "partner" with Israel in efforts to break Hamas resistance in the Gaza Strip, a news agency reported. Iran has condemned Israel for its attacks in Gaza and expressed support for Hamas, criticizing what Tehran says is the silence of some Arab states. Ahmadinejad said they should cut ties with Israel. Egypt, the only Arab state to border Gaza, has been a focus for protests by hardline Iranians who say Cairo has not done enough to help the Palestinians. Egypt has partly blamed Hamas for the violence because it failed to renew a truce with Israel. " Today it has been heard in some of the West’s political meetings that the Egyptian government is a partner in crimes in Gaza and they are after breaking. . .

11 Arab doctors cross into Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 1/10/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- PA spokesman of the borders and crossings in Rafah Adel Za’rab said that 11 Arab doctors were able Friday to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing to treat Palestinians wounded in the Israeli military aggression. Za’rab told the PIC reporter that nine Egyptian doctors and two others from Yemen and Morocco crossed into Gaza having great enthusiasm to help the wounded. The spokesman pointed out that three ambulances given by Jordan and 14 trucks loaded with medicines were allowed into Gaza through the crossing. Dozens of Arab doctors have been trying to enter Gaza for many days, but their entry was denied by the Egyptian authorities at the pretext that there were no safe routes into Gaza despite the doctors’ pledge they would be fully responsible for their own lives. For its part, the government committee to break the siege reported that the Egyptian. . .

Study: South to recover more quickly from war than north after Lebanon
Eli Ashkenazi, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
Southern residents are likely to recover more quickly from the current conflict than their northern counterparts did after the Second Lebanon War, a new study has found. The study, conducted by Dr. Shaul Kimche and Prof. Yohanan Eshel, members of the Psychology Department at the Tel Hai Academic College, found that a combination of individual and communal strengths have long-term effects on civilians who experience war. The subject of individual strength in times of crisis has been examined extensively. However, the effects of public and communal strength have attracted less attention. The study evaluated the degree to which the link between personal and societal strength can foretell positive or negative impacts of a war. A positive impact would be citizens quickly returning to their routine, and a negative impact would be manifested in post-traumatic stress and anxiety.

PA Chief of Staff: Abbas remains legitimate Palestinian leader; talks in Cairo show progress
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an - Chief of Staff for the Palestinian Authority Dr Rafiq Al-Husseini announced Saturday that Mahmoud Abbas will remain in his role as Palestinian President until legislative and presidential elections are held. Those with complaints about the situation, said Al-Huseini, can challenge the decision in the Palestinian High Court of Justice and file a complaint. He added that under the current situation in Gaza, now was not an appropriate time to address the issue of the legitimacy of Abbas’ term. The comments came during a press conference in the Presidential compound in Ramallah, where Al-Husseini also announced the postponement of the start of the “Al-Quds Capital of Arab Culture” celebrations. The events, due to start in January, are now set for March. Several factions have contested the legitimacy of Abbas to remain in his role as President after 9 January, which is when his official four year term ended.

Lebanese media show united front on Gaza atrocities
Special to The Daily Star, Daily Star 1/10/2009
BEIRUT: The Lebanese broadcast media are unapologetic for their flagrant political factionalism. And, why wouldn’t they be? They have been kept alive by benefactors with deep pockets and even deeper ties bound within the country’s dense political landscape. Both within Lebanon and abroad, any household with a vested interest in Lebanese affairs has retained a staunch loyalty to the station airing their particular brand of rhetoric. These differences have now been brushed over with new strokes of solidarity prompted by the ongoing coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza. As domestic propaganda gets cast aside, for once, Lebanese broadcasters have taken to the airwaves to denounce what they believe to be a common villain. New TV deputy news and political-program manager Karma Khayat throws objectivity by the wayside, declaring: "We have one enemy and that is Israel. . . "

Gaza war echoes much of Lebanon in 2006
Michael Bluhm, Daily Star 1/10/2009
BEIRUT: Israel’s unrelenting assault on Gaza resounds with parallels to the Jewish state’s summer 2006 war on Lebanon, with the common denominator that both conflicts could result in strengthening the domestic political positions of nonstate actors which held out against overwhelming and disproportionate Israeli military might, a number of analysts told The Daily Star on Friday. The two wars reflect the structural pattern of recent decades of Middle East conflict, namely that smaller armed groups such as Hizbullah and Hamas have replaced Arab states’ armies as Israel’s primary military opponents, said Amr Hamzawy, senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center. "There are definitely parallels between what happened in Lebanon in 2006 and what’s happening in Gaza," Hamzawy said. "Number one, we have Israel fighting a nonstate actor. . . "

Hizbullah didn’t launch rockets, but didn’t stop them either - analysts
Rana Moussaoui, Daily Star 1/10/2009
Agence France Presse - BEIRUT: This week’s rocket attack from southern Lebanon on northern Israel is an isolated incident likely carried out by a radical Palestinian faction but with the tacit approval of Hizbullah, analysts say. "For sure this is not the work of a Lebanese group," Osama Safa, head of the Lebanese Centre for Policy Studies, told AFP. "All the Lebanese factions, including Hizbullah, want to maintain a minimum of stability, especially ahead of the June legislative elections. " He noted that Hizbullah’s style was not to fire "rusty rockets" just to provoke Israel. "Either they launch a major operation or they do nothing," he said. Still, Safa and several other analysts said Thursday’s attack could not have taken place without the indirect backing of Hizbullah, which controls much of southern Lebanon.

Israeli envoy to Venezuela departs after being expelled by Chavez over Gaza op
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
Israel’s ambassador to Venezuela left the country Friday, expelled by President Hugo Chavez in rejection of Israel’s attacks on Gaza. Chavez had given Ambassador Shlomo Cohen and some embassy personnel until Friday to leave the country. "We are harboring the hope that this will be resolved quickly and relations will improve," Cohen toldbefore boarding a flight to Frankfurt, Germany. On Thursday, Cohen called the expulsion "the most difficult moment in the more than 50-year history of relations between Venezuela and Israel. " Chavez called Cohen’s expulsion a "gesture of dignity" in response to Israeli air and ground strikes on Gaza, which have killed at least 777 Palestinians since Dec. 27 - many of them civilians. The Israeli offensive aims to stop the Palestinian militant group Hamas from firing rockets into southern Israel.

Life in the Gaza war zone
Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
Access to Gaza’s new cemetery near the Israeli border has been cut off, forcing Palestinians to bury the increasing number of dead in old graves near the city center, Palestinians told Haaretz yesterday. Gaza’s morgues are filled with bodies not yet identified by relatives, many of whom cannot travel to claim and bury their dead. Elsewhere, relatives have complained of difficulties in reaching the many mourners’ tents erected by families around the Gaza Strip. Also, because of the collapse of the phone system many families are not informed of the death of a relative for days. In the past three days the Israel Defense Forces has held a three hour unilateral ceasefire each day allowing rescue forces to clear dead bodies buried beneath rubble. Dozens of bodies were evacuated from the Zeitoun neighborhood on Wednesday and Thursday. For five days, nearly 120 civilians were not allowed by the IDF to leave the area.

11th- and 12th-graders in south going back to class
Or Kashti, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
After two weeks of canceled classes, 12th and 11th graders in almost all the towns in the south are expected to return to their desks this week. Education Ministry Director General Shlomit Amichai said that at least half of all 11th- and 12th-graders would return to school as early as today. She added that the ministry is looking into bringing back students in younger grades and will decide how to proceed based on the security situation. The Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command decided to allow school to be held in towns within seven kilometers of the Gaza Strip, as long as class is held in properly protected structures. In towns within seven to 40 kilometers, only 11th graders and 12th graders may attend school, and only in designated facilities. Army officers visited area schools last week in order to compile the list.

Protesters turn violent, clash with police at anti-Israel rallies in Europe
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in cities across Europe and the Middle East on Saturday to protest against Israel’s offensive in Gaza, with sporadic clashes with police as some rallies turned violent. Police in riot gear confronted around 20,000 protesters waving banners and Palestinian flags outside the Israeli embassy in central London, while Oslo police used tear gas as they fought activists on the streets of the Norwegian capital. About 30,000 took to the streets of Paris to call for an end to Israeli attacks in Gaza, with many demonstrators wearing Palestinian keffiyah headscarves and chanting "We are all Palestinians," "Israel murderer" or "peace. ""We are here to demand the end to this unacceptable war. There are more than 800 victims including numerous children and civilians. . . "

Violence erupts at embassy protest
Ben Quinn and David Smith, The Observer, The Guardian 1/11/2009
Violent clashes broke out near the Israeli embassy in London yesterday as tens of thousands marched in protest against the military action in Gaza. Shop windows were smashed and police pelted with missiles by masked youths near the embassy during the largest demonstration in Britain against the Israeli offensive. Last night, broken glass and debris littered the scene of the disturbances on Kensington High Street, where ranks of riot police waited behind locked gates near the embassy entrance. Earlier in the evening, a number of demonstrators attacked a branch of Starbucks, smashing its front windows and ransacking it before shattering the facade of a clothes shop. Panic rippled through the crowd as riot police advanced repeatedly with batons drawn before being later backed up by dozens of mounted police.

Tens of thousands join London Gaza protest
Ben Quinn and David Smith, The Guardian 1/10/2009
Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets of London today in the biggest public protest yet in Britain against the Israeli offensive in Gaza. The march began in Hyde Park, where Speakers’ Corner was turned into a sea of Palestinian flags and banners condemning Israel, before making its way to Kensington Gardens. There were scuffles outside the Israeli embassy as the march passed by the gates leading to its entrance. Missiles were thrown at police guarding the way and a number of loud bangs – believed to be firecrackers – were heard as riot police drew batons and attempted to push the crowd back from the gates. A number of younger masked demonstrators attempted to climb on to the gates, near Kensingon High Street, and hurled pieces of placards and other items at police lines. Panic rippled through the crowd, which included young children, and a number of people fell to the ground amid the scuffles.

Thousands march in London protesting Israeli attacks in Gaza
Ben Quinn, The Guardian 1/10/2009
Thousands of demonstrators poured into Hyde Park today for a mass rally against the Israelimilitary offensive in Gaza - As a thick frost covered the ground on one of the coldest days of the year, Speakers’ Corner was turned into a sea of Palestinian flags and banners condemning Israel. The crowd, which included young British Muslimsand members of political parties from the left , listened to speakers including trade unionists and representatives of Palestinian exiles. Organiserswere expecting more than 100,000 people to join the massive march through the capital in protest at Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip. The Stop The War coalition, which organised today’s demonstration, said that it believed as many as 100,000 people were taking part in the rallies at Hyde Park and also in Kensington Park Gardens, close to the Israeli embassy.

An Open Letter From Anti-Zionist Jewish Youth in Canada
Aaron Lakoff, International Middle East Media Center News 1/10/2009
Like much of the world, we have spent the last week watching in shock and disgust as Israel continues its assault on the Gaza Strip. With the body count rising and a new tragedy in full bloom, we feel that it is important to speak out as Jewish youth in Canada and to denounce what Israel is doing in our name. The Jewish diaspora is diverse and divided on its positions on the state of Israel’s policies. At this juncture in history, as Israel has committed its worst massacre in Gaza since it began its illegal occupation in 1967, we feel that it is crucial that Jews speak outand denounce Israel’s actions that amount to no less than war crimes committed by an apartheid state. As Jewish youth, we are diverse, but we are unified in our solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Gaza. Some of us are students.

Demonstrating support
Reem Leila, Al-Ahram Weekly 1/8/2009
"Off to Gaza we go, martyrs by the million. " "Boycott Israel. " Since Israeli air strikes, and now a ground offensive, against Gaza began on 27 December banner-waving demonstrators throughout Egypt have chanted such phrases as they took to the streets to protest against Israel’s military offensive that has already cost hundreds of Palestinian lives and injured thousands more. Protesters continued to pour onto the streets to voice their anger at Israel’s actions as well as the response to the crisis by Egypt’s government. An estimated 400 people gathered near Al-Fath Mosque in Ramses Square in Cairo to demand Egypt open the border between Gaza and Egypt. Security forces violently broke up pro-Gaza demonstrations in Downtown Cairo for the second consecutive day on Friday, arresting more than 40 protesters. Protesters have taken to the streets in Assiut, Minya, Daqahliya, Fayoum and Alexandria.

Where have our friends gone?
Zvi Ba'rel, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked to speak with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Olmert just before the start of Israel’s offensive in Gaza. Olmert avoided Erdogan because he did not want to tell the Turkish premier about the coming attack. He did not want to be in Menachem Begin’s situation when Begin spoke to Egyptian president Anwar Sadat one time in 1981 and did not tell him Israel was about to attack Iraq’s nuclear reactor. As a result, Erdogan was enraged and insulted. Turkish sources say Erdogan’s campaign of insults against Israel in recent weeks is a reaction to this. "Israel is the biggest provoker of terror in the world," the Turkish justice minister accused. Erdogan no longer wants to talk to Olmert, ties between Ankara and the Israeli ambassador have been cut off, an Israeli basketball team was attacked by fans. . .

Fischer bows out of NY Fed race
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 1/11/2009
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer took himself out of the running to replace Timothy Geithner as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, according to a report published Thursday by the Wall Street Journal. Last month, the New York financial daily reported that Fischer was considered one of the frontrunners. Geithner has been tapped by President-elect Barack Obama to become the next Treasury Department secretary. According to WSJ, the new leading candidate is Kevin Warsh, a Federal Reserve governor the newspaper described as having "played a key role in managing the Fed’s market interventions from the Federal Reserve Board in Washington" and as being close to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Drawing the line between editorial and cartooning
Daily Star 1/10/2009
Interview - BEIRUT: Following the opening of the first Middle Eastern stop of "Lighting Lamps," a collection of cartoons from the region, at Lebanese American University Thursday night, Steve Bell of England’s Guardian newspaper and Armand Homsi of Lebanon’s An-Nahar sat down with The Daily Star to talk about funny-looking politicians, freedom of expression, and how to make a good cartoon. DS: Mr. Homsi, do you feel you have more in common with Mr. Bell’s work or with your fellow cartoonists from the region? AH: I feel I have more in common with Steve. Maybe it’s the style, the way of thinking - I don’t know. My work, as per the feedback I get from my work, they all say there’s a Western touch in it. I don’t know if it’s something that you get, or something that you do, what I do know is that you don’t do it on purpose, it just evolves in that way.

Israel’s ’other voices’ go unheard
Rachel Shabi in Israel, Al Jazeera 1/10/2009
"It is very difficult to add a different voice, because the public and media discourse is so monochrome and so militaristic," said Nomika Zion, an Israeli member of the peace collective, Another Voice. This group, which comprises residents of both Gaza and neighbouring Israeli towns like Sderot, is seeking to present an alternative to the majority of Israeli pro-war opinions that currently dominate the media. It is a tough task. Zion, herself from Sderot, recalled one occasion when a colleague was verbally attacked in the middle of a TV interview by a group of passers-by who tried to pull the mike away from him. "I really feel that our democracy is in trouble sometimes," she says. "If you can’t raise your voice and say things aloud without being scared that someone will attack you, it is very dangerous for our society. "

Some Shiites shed blood to mark Ashura while others opt to donate it for Gaza
Daily Star 1/9/2009
NABATIEH: Thousands of Shiite Muslims gathered in central Nabatieh on Wednesday to take part in a centuries-old blood-letting ritual to mark the climax of Ashura. The ceremony commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammad and one of Shiite Islam’s most revered figures. Every year, devotees cut themselves on the head in a symbolic gesture of sorrow at Hussein’s death. The event is held on the 10th day of a period of mourning for Hussein, at the beginning of the Islamic year. The bloodshed is a symbolic sacrifice aimed at acknowledging Hussein’s suffering before he was killed. But the practice has been frowned upon by some Shiite religious authorities, who say it portrays followers in a bad light and that they should instead donate blood for medical use. Both Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah and Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah have urged their followers. . .


Bombing the Fundamentalists
Dr. Ahmed Yousef – Gaza, Palestine Chronicle 1/10/2009
      "...In war, when our forces storm the enemy, they are allowed and even enjoined by the Halakah to kill even good civilians..." - from training manual of the Israeli army’s Central Region Command
     Perhaps it is indeed time to bomb religious groups given their belief that heaven is their destination.
     Regardless of whether their aim is peaceful coexistence or aggressive accession, spiritually-motivated activists such as Irish Republicans, Muslim Brethren, and Christian Democrats attract controversy at best, and often violent suppression. The most extreme groups, those that justify the unprovoked killing of others, understandably incur the wrath of the international community and are sanctioned, arrested or obliterated.
     Except, of course, when it comes to Jewish fundamentalists, who have rarely been ostracized. Faith-based Israeli groups are as astounding in number as they are in opinion. There are anti-Zionists such as Edah Ha Chareidis, Satmar and Neurei Karta International; and Zioinist proponents such as Tsomet, Shas, Morasha, Shinui Ometz, Gush Emunim (Ne’emanei Eretz Yisrael), the Jewish National Front (Hayil), and the National Movement (Herut) among others. Some are defunct, such as Kach, Kahane Chai and Tehiya (Banai), though their members formed other groups, with the usual aim of building Greater Israel.
     Even the most belligerent of these have enjoyed the Israeli government’s protection and encouragement; so much so that their beliefs are incorporated into official literature. For example, the training manual of the Israeli army’s Central Region Command contains the following injunction...

The Facts about Hamas and the War on Gaza

Norman Finkelstein, Middle East Online 1/10/2009
      Hamas was signaling that it wanted a diplomatic settlement of the conflict along the June 1967 border. In order to defeat the peace offensive, Israel sought to dismantle Hamas. The blockade was implemented before Hamas came to power. It doesn’t even have anything to do with Hamas.
     The record is fairly clear. You can find it on the Israeli website, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. The record is clear: Israel broke the ceasefire by going into the Gaza and killing six or seven Palestinian militants. At that point—and now I’m quoting the official Israeli website—Hamas retaliated or, in retaliation for the Israeli attack, then launched the missiles.
     Now, as to the reason why, the record is fairly clear as well. According to Ha’aretz, Defense Minister Barak began plans for this invasion before the ceasefire even began. In fact, according to yesterday’s Ha’aretz, the plans for the invasion began in March. And the main reasons for the invasion, I think, are twofold. Number one; to enhance what Israel calls its deterrence capacity, which in layman’s language basically means Israel’s capacity to terrorize the region into submission. After their defeat in July 2006 in Lebanon, they felt it important to transmit the message that Israel is still a fighting force, still capable of terrorizing those who dare defy its word.

In Gaza, the schools are dying too

Ameer Ahmad in Gaza and Ed Vulliamy, The Guardian 1/10/2009
      A new word emerged from the carnage in Gaza this week: "scholasticide" - the systematic destruction by Israeli forces of centres of education dear to Palestinian society, as the ministry of education was bombed, the infrastructure of teaching destroyed, and schools across the Gaza strip targeted for attack by the air, sea and ground offensives.
     "Learn, baby, learn" was a slogan of the black rights movement in America’s ghettoes a generation ago, but it also epitomises the idea of education as the central pillar of Palestinian identity - a traditional premium on schooling steeled by occupation, and something the Israelis "cannot abide" - and seek to destroy",according to Dr Karma Nabulsi, who teaches politics at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. "We knew before, and see more clearly now than ever, that Israel is seeking to annihilate an educated Palestine," she says. The Palestinians are among the most thoroughly educated people in the world. For decades, Palestinian society - both at home in the West Bank and Gaza, and scattered in the diaspora - has put a singular emphasis on learning. After the expulsions of 1948 and after the 1967 occupation, waves of refugees created an influential Palestinian intelligentsia and a marked presence in the disciplines of medicine and engineering across the Arab world, Europe and the Americas.

Crime against Ourselves; How Many Divisions?

Uri Avnery – Israel, Palestine Chronicle 1/10/2009
      ’In the end, this war is a crime against the State of Israel.’ (Aljazeera) Nearly seventy years ago, in the course of World War II, a heinous crime was committed in the city of Leningrad. For more than a thousand days, a gang of extremists called "the Red Army" held the millions of the town’s inhabitants hostage and provoked retaliation from the German Wehrmacht from inside the population centers. The Germans had no alternative but to bomb and shell the population and to impose a total blockade, which caused the death of hundreds of thousands.
     Some time before that, a similar crime was committed in England. The Churchill gang hid among the population of London, misusing the millions of citizens as a human shield. The Germans were compelled to send their Luftwaffe and reluctantly reduce the city to ruins. They called it the Blitz.
     This is the description that would now appear in the history books -- if the Germans had won the war.
     Absurd? No more than the daily descriptions in our media, which are being repeated ad nauseam: the Hamas terrorists use the inhabitants of Gaza as "hostages" and exploit the women and children as "human shields", they leave us no alternative but to carry out massive bombardments, in which, to our deep sorrow, thousands of women, children and unarmed men are killed and injured.

If We Were Palestinians, How Would We React?

Jenka Soderberg, Palestine Chronicle 1/10/2009
      ’How would we, as a people, react if we were in a similar situation?’
     US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, in introducing a bill supporting the Israeli attack on Gaza, which passed unanimously by voice vote in the US Senate Thursday, "I ask any of my colleagues to imagine that happening here in the United States. Rockets and mortars coming from Toronto in Canada, into Buffalo New York. How would we as a country react?"
     I have heard similar statements by other US supporters of the Israeli occupation, and I have to address it from the other perspective -- what if we, in the US, were the Palestinians? I remembered something I wrote in 2005, when the sniper attacks were going on in the DC area, and some Zionist commentators said, ’Now we know how Israel feels’.
     In order to experience the reality of the daily life of Palestinians, the following scenario would have to occur: our land would have to be invaded by an army, the fourth-largest army in the world, and militarily occupied. Checkpoints would be set up throughout the area, and all movement between cities and towns would cease. Anyone who was employed would be unable to work, and would be prevented even from going outside of their home for fear of being shot by one of the tanks, armed personnel carriers, or humvees that now line the streets.

Why Israel’s war is driven by fear

Chris McGreal, The Observer, The Guardian 1/11/2009
      Outrage at Israeli actions has mounted across the world as the Gaza conflict goes on. But as Israel expands its military action, support for the aggressive strategy is growing, while sympathy for Palestinians is receding. And, with an election looming, political attitudes are hardening.
     Yeela Raanan says she would prefer not to know about the war in Gaza. She doesn’t want to see the pictures of dead children cut down by Israeli shells or read of the allegations of war crimes by her country’s army as it kills Palestinians by the hundreds.
     But there is no escape. Raanan can hear the relentless Israeli bombardment by air, sea and land from her home, just three miles from the Gaza border. Hamas rockets keep hitting her community. And somewhere in the maelstrom of Gaza, her 20-year-old son is serving as an Israeli soldier.
     "I’d rather not know. I can’t do anything about it. We didn’t see the pictures of the Palestinian kids who were killed. It’s easier not to feel," she said. "I just turn on the news for five minutes a day and that’s it, just to see if anybody says anything about my kid."
     But when Raanan thinks about her son - whom she prefers not to name - she also thinks about Palestinian mothers and their sons in Gaza. And that’s when she finds her herself out of sync with the neighbours. "I don’t talk to the neighbours about it any more," she said. "Hamas is violent. Hamas is stupid. I don’t like what they are. But I don’t feel angry towards them. I understand why they were elected, I understand why they act as they do."

The View from Arish: Tunnel Vision

Kathy Kelly – Arish, Egypt, Palestine Chronicle 1/10/2009
      ’Israelis expect Egyptians to stop the tunnel industry.’
     [Editor’s Note: Kathy Kelly, a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, is writing from Arish, a town near the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza. Bill Quigley, a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola New Orleans and Audrey Stewart are also in Egypt and contributed to this article.]
     As I write, we can hear the dull thud of explosions in the distance. Israeli airstrikes continue to blast targets in southern Gaza. Merciless bombing of the small Gaza Strip continues into a third week. I heard some people here in Egypt wonder if the Israeli Air Force must be running out of places and people to target. But perhaps the surveillance drones we heard and saw flying over the Rafah border crossing today hunted down more spots on which bombers could fix their cross-hairs. Perhaps they spotted underground tunnels. The Israeli government has, reportedly, already destroyed 80% of the tunnels that connect Gaza with the outside world. It’s common knowledge that a vast network of tunnels, some say as many as 1700, were constructed, many from outside Gaza’s territorial borders, leading into the Territory. Israel claims the tunnels are legitimate targets because the Hamas government can use them to import weapons. But the buildup of the tunnel industry was fueled by desperation for needed goods, within Gaza, a desperation caused by Israel’s decision, over the past 16 months, to tighten the thumbscrews of its blockade on Gaza. If the blockade continues, and if the tunnels are completely destroyed, besieged Gazans will be cut off from secure supplies of food, medicine and fuel, yet another terrifying prospect for people who are desperate to protect their children from any greater harm.

Hitting the wall

Laurie King writing from Washington, DC, Electronic Intifada 1/10/2009
      About a year ago, I had a vivid dream. Somewhere in the West Bank, on a hot and dusty day, I was standing with a news team filming a story at the Separation Wall. A correspondent with a microphone in his hand was watching in astonishment as a long line of young Palestinian men ran up and forcefully threw their bodies against the towering concrete barrier, followed by dull thud after dull thud.
     The reporter turned to me in the dream, pushed the microphone into my face, and asked, "Can you tell us what on earth they are doing? This is senseless! No one can break a wall with his body!"
     Just as I was about to respond, a young man hit the wall and it cracked open. Everyone shouted for joy and began pouring through the fissure like a rush of water.
     For exactly half my life, I’ve been angry and outspoken about the tragedy of Palestine. It seems like I’ve been shouting at a wall for the better part of three decades. Like others Americans who call attention to the illegality, immorality, and illogic of unconditional US support for Israel’s treatment of the people displaced by its national project, I am familiar with "hitting the wall." Perhaps it’s more accurate to say walls -- concentric walls.

Israel ignores UN Security Council resolution

Haider Rizvi, Electronic Intifada 1/10/2009
      UNITED NATIONS (IPS) - International aid organizations, including the United Nations humanitarian agency in Palestine, are calling for the immediate implementation of the Security Council resolution passed late Thursday demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.
     "The Council must ensure that the words in the resolution must quickly translate into meaningful change," said Nicole Widdersheim of Oxfam International, the London-based charity that runs humanitarian operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
     Thursday night, the Security Council passed a resolution calling for unimpeded provision throughout Gaza of food, fuel and medical treatment, as well as intensified international arrangements to prevent arms and ammunition smuggling.
     Fourteen of the Council’s 15 members voted in favor of the resolution, with only the United States, a staunch ally of Israel, abstaining.
     As a result of the Israeli military assault on Gaza, which started on 27 December, at least 800 Palestinians have been killed and more than 3,000 injured -- about half of them women and children.

Civilians deliberately targeted: 194 of Gaza’s 830 killed are children

Press release, Al Mezan, Electronic Intifada 1/10/2009
      2:30pm Gaza Time (+2hrs GMT) The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continued its destruction of the Gaza Strip, systematically targeting civilians and civilian objects. Air raids and artillery attacks particularly targeted homes. Several families were killed under the rubble of their homes across the Gaza Strip.
     The IOF also raided a tower used by journalists and broadcast technicians in Gaza City. IOF’s unilateral ceasefire, which lasts for three hours every day, is not being observed by the IOF as attacks were launched during it in several areas in the Gaza Strip.
     Tens of thousands of civilians whose areas had been threatened with bombardment have left their homes seeking safety; however, little can be offered to them by the United Nations and other international humanitarian agencies, as a result of the tight closure and the IOF’s attacks on humanitarian workers.
     The following sections provide accounts of the consequences of IOF’s attacks on the Gaza Strip’s five districts between 1pm on 8 January 2009 and 2:30pm today, 10 January 2009.

Abettors of war crimes will be held accountable

Adri Nieuwhof and Daniel Machover, Electronic Intifada 1/10/2009
      Israel’s military offensive in Gaza is being perpetrated with enormous disregard for civilian life in violation of fundamental principles of international humanitarian law (IHL). The appallingly high number of civilian deaths and injuries and widespread damage to civilian buildings reflects unlawfully excessive, indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by Israel.
     Two weeks into the Israeli offensive, many international lawyers are raising their voices to condemn Israeli actions from every perspective, challenging Israeli claims to be acting in lawful self-defense. That is, even before examining the unlawful way Israel has deployed its military might, lawyers assessing the self-defense arguments of Israel have found as many holes as in the Gazan ground: Israeli actions were not taken as a last resort, as a necessary response to attacks. Before using force in self-defense a state must need to do so in response to an armed attack, having found no other realistic method of redress or resistance.

US Promotes Israeli Genocide

Francis A. Boyle, Palestine Chronicle 1/9/2009
      ’I anticipate no fundamental change in US support for Israeli campaign of genocide.’
     As long ago as October 19, 2000, the then United Nations Human Rights Commission (now Council) condemned Israel for inflicting "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" upon the Palestinian people, most of whom are Muslims. The reader has a general idea of what a war crime is, so I am not going to elaborate upon that term here. But there are different degrees of heinousness for war crimes. In particular are the more serious war crimes denominated "grave breaches" of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Since the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1987, the world has seen those heinous war crimes inflicted every day by Israel against the Palestinian people living in occupied Palestine: e.g., willful killing of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army and by Israel’s illegal paramilitary settlers. These Israeli "grave breaches" of the Fourth Geneva Convention mandate universal prosecution for the perpetrators and their commanders, whether military or civilian, including and especially Israel’s political leaders.
     But I want to focus for a moment on Israel’s “crimes against humanity” against the Palestinian people—as determined by the U.N. Human Rights Commission itself, set up pursuant to the requirements of the United Nations Charter. What are “crimes against humanity”? This concept goes all the way back to the Nuremberg Charter of 1945 for the trial of the major Nazi war criminals in Europe. In the Nuremberg Charter of 1945, drafted by the United States Government, there was created and inserted a new type of international crime specifically intended to deal with the Nazi persecution of the Jewish people.

Nowhere to hide from the bombing

Laila El-Haddad writing from Durham, the United States, Electronic Intifada 1/9/2009
      "You don’t know anymore; you don’t know who is alive, you feel you are in a trap, you don’t know who is a target," said my friend and neighbor in Gaza City, journalist Taghreed El-Khodary. The fear resonated in her voice while she was on the phone to Al-Jazeera. Taghreed lives on a street near my parents.
     "Where to? Where can I go seek refuge to?" she continued. "I live next to the parliament which was destroyed; next to the police station, which was destroyed; next to the hospitals, which were bombed; and the Israeli navy is shelling from the sea, the F-16s from the sky, the tanks from the ground ... where to?" she repeated again and again.
     "First your house shakes, and the windows break, and the fear ... the fear. And when you see all these children around you in the hospital. Some can draw, and what they drawing is unbelievable. A six-year-old boy in my house drew a picture of boy who was alive, and another who was dead. He said the dead boy was his friend, whom the Israelis killed. And the father is unable to protect his child. And the mothers are trying to hide their fear from their kids."

What you don't know about Gaza

Rashid Khalidi, Palestine Think Tank 1/9/2009
      art by Carlos Latuff
     Nearly everything you've been led to believe about Gaza is wrong. Below are a few essential points that seem to be missing from the conversation, much of which has taken place in the press, about Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip.
     THE GAZANS Most of the people living in Gaza are not there by choice. The majority of the 1.5 million people crammed into the roughly 140 square miles of the Gaza Strip belong to families that came from towns and villages outside Gaza like Ashkelon and Beersheba. They were driven to Gaza by the Israeli Army in 1948.
     THE OCCUPATION The Gazans have lived under Israeli occupation since the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel is still widely considered to be an occupying power, even though it removed its troops and settlers from the strip in 2005.
     Israel still controls access to the area, imports and exports, and the movement of people in and out. Israel has control over Gaza's air space and sea coast, and its forces enter the area at will.

Children under fire

Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 1/8/2009
      Aside from its direct killings, Israel’s continued siege on Gaza and the psychological trauma of its war offensive are destroying life, especially children.
     A Palestinian medic carries a wounded boy after an Israeli bombardment hit a UN school where hundreds of Palestinians had sought refuge The three cousins convinced their parents last Friday afternoon to let them play in the vineyard next to their house in Al-Qarara village in the southern Gaza Strip. The parents of Abdel-Sattar and Abed Rabbo Al-Ustul, both 10, and Mohamed Al-Ustul, eight, thought that there was no reason to fear for their children. There are no government agencies, military training sites or resistance figures nearby that might be targeted by Israeli warplanes, and so they let the children go outside to play. But as the three children’s frolicking voices rose, an unmanned Israeli jet shot a missile directly at them, killing them all instantly. Their shattered bodies were thrown into the air, some of their parts getting caught on tree branches. The Israeli army’s intentional killing of these three children has shocked and angered neighbours and everyone familiar with the scene of the crime, an area that is considered calm in comparison to the rest of the Gaza Strip.
     The killing and injuring of children in air raids is one of the most significant features of the horrific military campaign Israel is currently conducting against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the most densely populated area on earth. A total of 1.5 million people living in an area of only 365 square kilometres means that Israel’s use of bombs that weigh up to one tonne is a certain recipe for the killing and injuring of civilians, including women and children. According to the statistics of the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 26 per cent of those killed and 45 per cent of those injured have been children.