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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
11 January, 2008

1 dead, dozens injured in Gaza by suspected white phosphorus munitions
Richard Boudreaux and Yasser Ahmad, Los Angeles Times 1/11/2009
Doctors treating the wounded say the shelling apparently contained the intensely burning, toxic munition. Villagers say the firing came from the Israeli border. - Palestinian villagers said the shelling came from the direction of the Israeli border, less than a mile away, scattering flaming objects in their midst and burning down 20 homes and the local United Nations-run school." One landed in my kitchen and caused a fire," said Zohair Mohammed abu Rejila, 35. "I went to put it out, but another one landed on Mayar, my baby daughter. It was like a block of fire, a piece of plastic on fire. When I knocked it off her, it exploded and out came this heavy white smoke with a very bad smell." Doctors who treated Rejila, his family and dozens of neighbors in southern Gaza said they were apparent victims of white phosphorus fired from Israeli artillery. One woman was killed.

Thousands of Gaza houses destroyed and damaged by Israeli strikes
Press release, Al Mezan, Electronic Intifada 1/11/2009
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continued its military campaign against the Gaza Strip for the 16th day. The IOF also continue to act in violation of the rules of international law relevant to conflict and belligerent occupation, motivated by the failure of the international community to stand for the principles and rules itself had set. In particular, there is much evidence indicating the perpetration of grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War. With advanced technology for surveillance and sophisticated weapons, the IOF bears the responsibility to distinguish between civilian and non-civilian targets. Facts on the ground show the opposite: guided missiles and bombs have been fired deliberately at civilian targets including homes, civilian shelters and ambulances.

Death toll in Gaza onslaught approaches 900
Daily Star 1/12/2009
Israel indicated for the first time on Sunday that an end was in sight to its war on the Gaza Strip, amid some of the heaviest clashes of an offensive that has killed nearly 900 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians. Israeli troops pushed deeper into Gaza’s main city, sparking some of the fiercest battles yet of the 16-day-old war Israel launched in what it said was a response to rocket fire, but which has failed to stop the rockets. Civilians again fell victim in Israel’s offensive in the Palestinian enclave, one of the world’s most densely populated places where every other person of the 1. 5 million population is under 18 years of age. Two women and four children were killed in a strike on a house in Beit Lahiya, medics and witnesses said. Twelve bodies were pulled from the rubble in Tal al-Hawa including 10 fighters, according to medics.

Central Elections Committee set to disqualify Balad
Sharon Roffe-Ofir Published, YNetNews 1/11/2009
Arab party may find itself out of next Knesset race as majority of Central Elections Committee members are expected to vote in favor of declaring it ineligible to bid. ’Democracy has given in to fascism’ says party chairman -The Central Elections Committee is expected to disqualify the Arab party Balad for the nearing Knesset race, Ynet learned Sunday. The committee, which is made up of representatives of all various parties, is expected to hold a vote on the matter on Monday. A previous motion to disqualify Balad was quashed by the High Court of Justice. Three separate motions to stop Balad from bidding in the nearing general elections have been filed with the Central Elections Committee over the past several weeks. The petitioners, The Jewish Home Party, Yisrael Beiteinu and Itay Furman, a former member of Shinui Party, all claim that Balad must be disqualified on grounds that it does not recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, and that it advocates an armed conflict against it.

14 Palestinians killed during three-hour 'lull'
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli strikes killed 14 Palestinians during a declared three-hour lull in fighting on Sunday. A number of Israeli artillery shells were fired on different parts of the Gaza Strip, killing at least 14 and injuring a number of others in quick succession. Israeli tanks, accompanied by air cover, advanced on the Tal Al-Hawa and Sheikh Ejleen neighborhoods in southwest Gaza City, the furthest incursion since the start of the ground invasion. Among the Palestinians killed in the strikes there was 18-year-old Fares, brother of 22-year-old Mohammad Hamouda, who killed along with the infant. Meanwhile, Baha’ Khaled A’bed, 25, was killed while his 20-year-old sister was injured in the Al-Jurn neighborhood of Jabaliya Refugee Camp. The sister was not immediately identified. Mohammad Mansur Se’da, 21Abed Ar-Rahman Tawfeeq Al-Kashef, 21Ibrahim. . .

Egypt: Hamas agrees that fighting in Gaza must end
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
Talks are progressing between Egyptian officials and a Hamas delegation dispatched to Cairo on finding an end to the fighting in the Gaza Strip, Egypt’s state-owned news agency reported on Sunday. The agency an unnamed Egyptian official as saying that the Hamas delegation has agreed on the need to stop fighting as soon as possible. The officials characterized the negotiations between the nation’s powerful intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and a Hamas delegation as positive. Two of Hamas’ Syria-based leaders and three officials from Gaza participated in the talks. MENA says the talks will resume Monday for a cease-fire agreement. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Tuesday announced a three point cease-fire initiative which Hamas initially rejected, insisting it needed provisions for a lifting of the siege on Gaza.

Meshaal rips Israel for ’holocaust ... of children, of innocents’
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 1/12/2009
DAMASCUS: Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal on Saturday slammed Israel’s assault on Gaza as a "holocaust" in which the blood of Palestinian children was being shed to bolster prospects in next month’s Israeli elections. "The enemy has failed by creating a real holocaust on the soil of Gaza," Meshaal, who lives in exile in Syria, said in a pre-recorded statement aired on satellite television stations Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyya. "Palestinian blood has become a means to win elections," Meshaal said, addressing the Israeli people whose leaders are to face off in general elections on February 10. He also argued that the military campaign had been a failure. "What did you achieve through this war. . . other than the killing of children, of innocents? "Meshaal asked the Israeli leadership. "You have lost on the moral and humanitarian fronts.

Gazans have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide
IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1/12/2009
TEL AVIV, 11 January 2009 (IRIN) - Palestinians in the Gaza Strip received on 10 January air-dropped leaflets warning them that the Israeli military was about to step up operations against militant targets there and that they should take necessary precautions. However, it remained unclear what Palestinians could do, given that UN officials have said Gazans have no safe place to hide. "There is nowhere safe in Gaza," Allegra Pacheco, deputy head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territories, said. His views were echoed by Max Gaylord, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Jerusalem. The leaflet told Gazans that they should follow the recent example of Rafah’s residents, who fled their homes in the south of the Gaza Strip after receiving similar announcements instructing them to do so just before the Israeli airforce began to pound the city, which is along the Egyptian border.

Counting the bodies as Gaza undergoes ’a new massacre’
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 1/12/2009
GAZA CITY: Doctor Muawiya Hassanein has no time for pleasantries these days. When a journalist calls, he barks out the latest number of the dead from Israel’s war in Gaza and hangs up, returning to his macabre count. The head of emergency services for the Gaza Strip, Hassanein is the only person keeping a running track of the ever-escalating death toll of Israel’s deadliest offensive ever in the overcrowded enclave. "Every day, I get at least 200 phone calls from journalists and I give more than a dozen interviews," says the exhausted 55-year-old. "I never hold back on information. "Unshaven, his white hair rumpled, Hassanein has had a telephone - be it a mobile or a land line - attached to his ear nearly continuously since Israel unleashed its "Operation Cast Lead" on December 27 with a massive, nearly simultaneous series of air strikes that killed more than 200 people across Gaza.

Red Cross will no longer escort Palestinian ambulances in Gaza
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
The international Red Cross says it is halting its service of escorting Palestinian ambulances in the Gaza Strip. Red Cross spokesman Iyad Nasr says the decision was made after one of its ambulances came under fire. He says the incident occurred on Saturday during a three-hour lull declared by Israel to allow aid groups to do their work in the besieged area. Nasr says his organization is still investigating the source of the fire. Israeli forces have targeted several ambulances during two weeks of fighting in Gaza. Israel has in the past accused Hamas of hiding militants inside ambulances. The Red Cross escorts are meant to provide extra protection to Palestinian ambulances and guarantee that all occupants are civilians. Related articles:IDF: Hamas fighters beginning to desert; army steps up Gaza offensive. . .

Gaza Water Authority: Services totally disabled as attacks debilitate water infrastructure
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Gaza’s Water Authority is unable to provide homes in the Strip with water as a result of the ongoing Israeli destruction and violence in the area. The department said in a statement Sunday that service has been near totally disabled, meaning fresh water can no longer be pumped into Gaza homes, leaving residents to haul or pump salty water from nearby wells if available. The department appealed all national and international Human Rights associations for urgent assistance to rehabilitate water lines and pumping equipment so services can come back online. [end]

IOF War on the Gaza Strip Enters Its 3rd Week
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 1/10/2009
34 Palestinians Killed, Including 4 Children and 3 Women, and the Total Number of Victims Now Mounts to 799, Including 193 Children, 53 women, 6 Medical Personnel, One Palestinian Journalist and 165 Civil Police Officers - As the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip has entered its third week, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have continued to kill Palestinian civilians, especially children. Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip have been a scene of intense aerial, ground and sea attacks. Investigations conducted by PCHR indicate that IOF have continued to bombard Palestinian houses and civilian facilities persistently day and night, while the Palestinian civilian population suffer a humanitarian crisis as they lack electricity, water and food supplie This is a summary of the crimes committed by IOF in the Gaza Strip during the last 24 hours.

Rights group: IDF using white phosphorous bombs in attacks on Gaza
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
Human Rights Watch said Sunday that Israel’s military has fired artillery shells packed with the incendiary agent white phosphorus over populated areas of Gaza, including a crowded refugee camp, putting civilians at risk. Researchers from the rights group said they witnessed hours of artillerybombardments on Friday and Saturday afternoon from Israel’s border in which shells burst over the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, sending out trails of burning smoke that indicates the shells contained white phosphorus. The substance can cause serious burns if it touches the skin and can spark fires on the ground, the rights group said in a written announcement calling on Israel not to use it in crowded areas of Gaza. Military spokeswoman Major Avital Leibovich refused to comment directly on whether Israel was using. . .

Gazans fear Israel using phosphorus
Al Jazeera 1/11/2009
Doctors in Gaza City have told Al Jazeera that people have been admitted suffering burns consistent with the use of the controversial chemical white phosphorus. Human rights campaigners say that Israeli forces have used the munition, which can burn away human flesh to the bone, over Gaza City and Jabaliya in recent days. Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, said: "Doctors here say they are seeing unprecedented levels of deep burns. "They cannot categorically say that white phosphorus is being used, they are saying that the munitions being dropped are unprecendented. "Residents in densely-packed Jabaliya have described Israeli forces exploding shells that drop scores of burning fragments and spread suffocating smoke. "It’s the first time we see this type of weapon, it must be new and its seems like its phosphorous," one resident told Al Jazeera.

Report: Israel using internationally prohibited weapons against Gazan citizens
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The Health Department of the Palestinian Network of Non Governmental Organizations (PNGO) demanded urgent international action in investigating Israel’s used of internationally prohibited weapons against Palestinians in Gaza. Based on the reports of doctors working in Gaza hospitals, PNGO has concluded that new Israeli weapons cause burns that can reach to the bones of those the explosives hit. A second variety of weapon, said the group, fires smoke and noxious gases that cause breathing difficulties particularly in children. “Evidence from Gaza is clear” said a statement, that civilians are being deliberately killed as are paramedics and health facilities. The statement called for a halt to the atrocities and an opening of all border crossings to medicines and injured Gazans can receive proper treatment.

’Israel used white phosphorous explosives’
Atul Aneja, The Hindu 1/12/2009
DUBAI: Doctors in Gaza are reporting that at least 55 persons have been injured on Sunday due to exposure to burning white phosphorous used in shells fired by the Israeli military forces. “These people were burned over their bodies in a way that can only be caused by white phosphorous,” AFP quoted Yusef Abu Rish, a doctor at Gaza City’s Nasser hospital. International law bans the use of white phosphorous against civilians. However, its use is permitted during combat to create smokescreens. The chemical causes severe burns which are difficult to treat especially if particles get embedded into the skin. Earlier, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Israeli forces of using white phosphorus in its on-going operations in Gaza. The New York-based rights group said in a statement that its researchers in Israel observed that Israeli forces fired multiple artillery air-bursts of white phosphorous...

Gaza victims’ burns increase concern over phosphorus
Michael Evans, Defence Editor and Sheera Frenkel in Jerusalem, Times of London 1/8/2009
Photographic evidence has emerged that proves that Israel has been using controversial white phosphorus shells during its offensive in Gaza, despite official denials by the Israel Defence Forces. There is also evidence that the rounds have injured Palestinian civilians, causing severe burns. The use of white phosphorus against civilians is prohibited under international law. The Times has identified stockpiles of white phosphorus (WP) shells from high-resolution images taken of Israel Defence Forces (IDF) artillery units on the Israeli-Gaza border this week. The pale blue 155mm rounds are clearly marked with the designation M825A1, an American-made WP munition. The shell is an improved version with a more limited dispersion of the phosphorus, which ignites on contact with oxygen, and is being used by the Israeli gunners to create a smoke screen on the ground. The rounds, which explode into a shower of burning white streaks, were first identified by The Times at the weekend when they were fired over Gaza at the start of Israel’s ground offensive. Artillery experts said that the Israeli troops would be in trouble if they were banned from using WP because it is the simplest way of creating smoke to protect them from enemy fire. There were indications last night that Palestinian civilians have been injured by the bombs, which burn intensely. Hassan Khalass, a doctor at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, told The Times that he had been dealing with patients who he suspected had been burnt by white phosphorus. Muhammad Azayzeh, 28, an emergency medical technician in the city, said: “The burns are very unusual. They don’t look like burns we have normally seen. They are third-level burns that we can’t seem to control. ”Victims with embedded WP particles in their flesh have to have the affected areas flushed with water. Particles that cannot be removed with tweezers are covered with a saline-soaked dressing. Nafez Abu Shaban, the head of the burns unit at al-Shifa hospital, said: “I am not familiar with phosphorus but many of the patients wounded in the past weeks have strange burns. They are very deep and not like burns we used to see. ”When The Times reported on Monday that the Israeli troops appeared to be firing WP shells to create a thick smoke camouflage for units advancing into Gaza, an IDF spokesman denied the use of phosphorus and said that Israel was using only the weapons that were allowed under international law. Rows of the pale blue M825A1 WP shells were photographed on January 4 on the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza border. Another picture showed the same munitions stacked up behind an Israeli self-propelled howitzer. Confronted with the latest evidence, an IDF spokeswoman insisted that the M825A1 shell was not a WP type. “This is what we call a quiet shell - it is empty, it has no explosives and no white phosphorus. There is nothing inside it,” she said. “We shoot it to mark the target before we launch a real shell. We launch two or three of the quiet shells which are empty so that the real shells will be accurate. It’s not for killing people,” she said. Asked what shell was being used to create the smokescreen effect seen so clearly on television images, she said: “We’re using what other armies use and we’re not using any weapons that are banned under international law. ”Neil Gibson, technical adviser to Jane’s Missiles and Rockets, insisted that the M825A1 was a WP round. “The M825A1 is an improved model. The WP does not fill the shell but is impregnated into 116 felt wedges which, once dispersed [by a high-explosive charge], start to burn within four to five seconds. They then burn for five to ten minutes. The smoke screen produced is extremely effective,” he said. The shell is not defined as an incendiary weapon by the Third Protocol to the Convention on Conventional Weapons because its principal use is to produce smoke to protect troops. However, Marc Galasco, of Human Rights Watch, said: “Recognising the significant incidental incendiary effect that white phosphorus creates, there is great concern that Israel is failing to take all feasible steps to avoid civilian loss of life and property by using WP in densely populated urban areas. This concern is amplified given the technique evidenced in media photographs of air-bursting WP projectiles at relatively low levels, seemingly to maximise its incendiary effect. ”He added, however, that Human Rights Watch had no evidence that Israel was using incendiaries as weapons. British and American artillery units have stocks of white phosphorus munitions but they are banned as anti-personnel weapons. “These munitions are not unlawful as their purpose is to provide obscuration and not cause injury by burning,” a Ministry of Defence source said. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian war surgery specialist working in Gaza, told The Times that he had seen injuries believed to have resulted from Israel’s use of a new “dense inert metal explosive” that caused “extreme explosions”. He said: “Those inside the perimeter of this weapon’s power zone will be torn completely apart. We have seen numerous amputations that we suspect have been caused by this.

IDF begins deploying reservists into Gaza as part of ground op
Anshel Pfeffer and Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday began deploying reservist troops to the Gaza Strip, for the first time since Israel began its offensive on the Hamas-ruled coastal territory 16 days ago. The government announced a week ago Saturday that it had approved call-up of tens of thousands of reservist soldiers. The announcement was made almost simultaneously with the launch of the Gaza ground incursion, aimed at halting rocket fire on Israel’s southern communities. The government ordered the armed forces "to draft the necessary reservists, on a scale of tens of thousands of troops. "Nearly 10,000 reservists had already been called up in a previous order by the defense establishment the week before. Israel’s chief military spokesman, Brigadier General Avi Benayahu, said the army has sent more reserve units into the Gaza Strip.

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

Israel takes fighting into Gaza suburbs
Donald Macintyre and Kim Sengupta in Jerusalem, The Independent 1/12/2009
Israeli troops and tanks began heavy fighting in a suburb of Gaza City for the first time yesterday as medics reported 29 Palestinian deaths and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared that Israel was "getting close to achieving the goals it set for itself". Israeli troops and tanks began heavy fighting in a suburb of Gaza City for the first time yesterday as medics reported 31 Palestinian deaths and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared that Israel was "getting close to achieving the goals it set for itself". But with the senior Israeli Defence Ministry official, Amos Gilad, preparing to return to Cairo for talks, Mr Olmert set no timetable for ending a campaign which has killed an estimated 884 Palestinians and is aimed at halting rocket attacks on southern Israel. Mr Olmert instead said "patience, determination and effort are needed to realise these goals in a manner that will change the security situation in the south".

Ultimate aim remains unclear as government prepares for next move
Chris McGreal in Jerusalem, The Guardian 1/12/2009
The problem is to define victory. At first, Israel said that the goal of its onslaught against Gaza was to stop the Hamas rockets. But after more than two weeks and nearly 900 Palestinians killed, almost a third of them children and young people, the rockets are still flying into Israel by the dozen each day. So then Israel said the end game was deterrence - to make Hamas recognise that the price of breaching the next ceasefire was so high it would no longer fire the rockets even if it has them. But there are many among Israel’s political and military elite who doubt that deterrence works with the Islamist group. Every rocket fired into Israel is a victory for Hamas and it is unlikely to stop unless a ceasefire comes with major Israeli concessions, such as lifting the economic blockade of Gaza. And then Hamas would claim its own victory.

Fighting intensifies as Olmert says Israel is nearing its goal
The Guardian 1/12/2009
Israeli troops were last night pushing towards Gaza’s towns and cities amid heavy fighting as Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said Israel was nearing its goals in the conflict. Many Gazans in the outlying suburbs of Gaza City were moving into the centre, desperately looking for apartments or shelter to escape the combat. Israel and Egypt have refused to open their borders to allow Gazans to flee the fighting. About a dozen Palestinians, among them several gunmen, were killed early yesterday in Sheikh Ajleen, close to the north of Gaza City, and troops were reported to be less than a mile from the city’s southern neighbourhoods last night. Tanks had moved towards the city, but then pulled back by the end of the day. At least 27 Palestinians were killed. In a sign that a new phase of the offensive was near, Israel’s military last night sent reserve units into the Strip.

VIDEO - WATCH: IDF drops leaflets over Gaza, warning of impending attack
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
The Israel Defense Forces said it is making every effort to prevent civilian deaths during its current operation in the Gaza Strip. The army has continued its policy from the Second Lebanon War of dropping leaflets over civilian areas notifying them of their intent to bomb the area. The IDF dropped leaflets on Gaza City on Saturday, amid heavy aerial bombing, warning of a wider offensive. "The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] is not working against the people of Gaza but against Hamas and the terrorists only," the leaflets said in Arabic. "Stay safe by following our orders. "On Sunday, it dropped additional leaflets urging Gaza residents to report the whereabouts of Hamas fighters, even providing a phone number to call. "You can call the numbers listed below to inform us about the locations of rocket launchers, warehouses,. . .

Reservists join Gaza fighting, IDF hits Hamas chief’s home
Anshel Pfeffer and Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
The Israel Defense Forces yesterday began using reservist troops in the fighting in the Gaza Strip, for the first time since Israel began its offensive on the Hamas-ruled coastal territory 16 days ago. The government last week ordered the IDF "to draft the necessary reservists, on a scale of tens of thousands of troops. "Nearly 10,000 reservists had already been called up in a previous order by the defense establishment. Meanwhile, IDF troops continued to surround Gaza City while the Israel Air Force launched a fierce attack on dozens of smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip. Early yesterday, IDF soldiers advanced into a suburb of the densely populated Gaza City. Palestinian medical officials said at least 20 Palestinians were killed by midday yesterday in the fighting; the IDF’s estimate was that some 40 militants were either wounded or killed.

Twelve bodies pulled from Gaza City rubble
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Gaza - Ma’an - Twelve dead bodies were pulled from the rubble in the Sheikh Ajlan neighborhood after Israeli forces withdrew for the area southwest of Gaza City Sudnay morning. The area had been the site of fierce clashes between troops and resistance fighters, who claimed to have bombed a home where Israeli forces were taking cover in the area. None of the bodies have yet been identified. [end]

’This one to the morgue, this one to intensive care’
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem and Hazem Balousha, The Guardian 1/12/2009
Karem Batniji, a young surgeon at the Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s main medical facility, worked straight through the first 48 hours of Israel’s war in Gaza. These have been gruelling days for Gaza’s doctors: long hours, immense pressure and thousands of horrifically wounded patients to treat - many of them civilians. In the initial days of the Israeli offensive, hundreds of patients would arrive at once. "I was dealing with some people in the corridor, even making operations in the corridors," he said. "On the first day we were just looking for the good cases, the people most likely to make it. With the badly injured we’d spend a long time, exhaust ourselves and take up a lot of staff, so we just had to find the good cases and focus on them," he said. When they brought the bodies in, I found myself standing there saying: this one to the morgue, this one to the intensive care unit, this one the morgue. . . It was very hard. "

World Food Programme to survey Gaza aid crossing Tuesday
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Jerusalem - Ma’an - The World Food Programme’s regional director for the Middle East will attempt to provide food assistance through the Karem Shalom crossing into Gaza on Tuesday, according to a statement. Regional Director Daly Belgasmi told Ma’an he plans to "review the movement of WFP food assistance into the Gaza Strip" at the crossing on Tuesday. WFP has continued food distributions to the non-refugee population of Gaza throughout the latest hostilities and has provided rations to some 75,000 people since the war began on 27 December. In addition, the UN food agency has provided bread to some 15,000 people and canned meat and high energy biscuits to 6,000 people in hospitals. It is also supplying wheat flour to Gaza bakeries.

Palestinians: At least 27 killed in Gaza Sunday
Ali Waked, YNetNews 1/11/2009
Sources in Strip say some 890 Gazans killed, 3,500 injured since Operation Cast Lead launched 16 days ago; military says struck 60 targets, including mosque serving as weapons cache, training facility. UNRWA: 25,000 sought shelter in our schools -At last 27 Palestinians were killed and 90 more were injured in IDF attacks throughout Gaza on Sunday, medical officials in the Strip reported. Since Operation Cast Lead was launched 16 days ago, some 890 Gazans were killed and about 3,500 were injured, they said. The Israeli military said forces attacked some 60 targets on Sunday, including a mosque in Rafah that served as a training facility and a warehouse for improved anti-tank missiles. Palestinian sources said among those killed Sunday in an IDF strike in Gaza City were at least five women and four members of the same family.

Israeli troops push deeper into Gaza’s main city
Middle East Online 1/11/2009
GAZA CITY - Israeli troops and armour pushed deeper into Gaza’s main city on Sunday, sending panicked Palestinian civilians into flight, after Israel warned it would step up its war on the Strip. Clutching babies and toddlers and carrying small harriedly-packed bags, dozens of Palestinians began to flee their homes on foot shortly after dawn in the Tal al-Hawa neighbourhood of southwest Gaza City, witnesses said. The exodus followed a sleepless night for most residents, amid ongoing exchanges of fire between Israeli ground troops and Palestinian resistance fighters. During the night, Israeli tanks and infantry units moved into the adjacent neighbourhood of Sheikh al-Ajlin, creeping deeper into the main population centre of the battered Palestinian territory. Intense shelling was also reported in the Zeitun neighbourhood of southeastn Gaza City as well as the Sudaniyah area in the northwest.

Israel pushes further into Gaza
Justin Theriault, International Middle East Media Center News 1/11/2009
On Sunday, with the ground cover of Israeli tanks, and the air support of Israeli war planes, Israeli ground forces advanced deep into the Gaza Strip, but are facing strong resistance on the part of resistance fighters as they near Gaza City. 24 More Palestinians have so far been killed in Sunday’s clashes, increasing the death toll amongst Palestinians to 879 on the 16th day of Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip, Al Jazeera reports. The Israeli Air Force carried out several more air raids across Gaza, hitting several targets in southern, and southeastern areas of the coastal region, as well as in the northern Beit Lahia and northwestern Jabalya. There are rumors that the Israeli Security Council has been discussing the possibility of extending "Operation Cast Lead" into "Phase III" of its implementation, a move that would see Israeli ground troops attempt a further push into the Gaza Strip.

Gaza assault enters third week - Dozens killed since morning - Death toll nears 900
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Gaza - Ma’an - Five Palestinians were killed in separate strikes near Gaza City and in the Jabaliya Refugee Camp on Sunday evening. Despite a so-called lull in fighting for the delivery of humanitarian aid, Israeli shelling killed two Palestinians in the Ash-Shuja’eiyah neighborhood, which is east of Gaza City. Meanwhile, two others died in the northern Gaza Strip refugee camp of Jabaliya, local sources told Ma’an, adding that specifically the Al-Jurn area was hit in the deadly attack. Those three victims were identified as Mus’ab Khader, Husein Abu Sulkltan and 15-year-old Amal A’lush. A number of others were injured. Also, Israeli warplanes shelled the home of Mohammad Dahlan in the Ar-Remal neighborhood of Gaza City. Jets also hit the home of Shadi Abu Labad in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip.

Israeli shelling kills three in Jabaliya, two more east of Gaza City
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Gaza - Ma’an - Five Palestinians were killed in separate strikes near Gaza City and in the Jabaliya Refugee Camp on Sunday evening. Despite a so-called lull in fighting for the delivery of humanitarian aid, Israeli shelling killedtwo Palestinians in the Ash-Shuja’eiyah neighborhood, which is east of Gaza City. Meanwhile, two others died in the northern Gaza Strip refugee camp of Jabaliya, local sources told Ma’an, adding that specifically the Al-Jurn area was hit in the deadly attack. Those three victims were identified as Mus’ab Khader, Husein Abu Sulkltan and 15-year-old Amal A’lush. A number of others were injured. [end]

Israeli soldiers fire tear gas on village children protesting Gaza violence
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Children in Bil’in demonstrated Sunday in yet another act protest against the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip Sunday. The children rallied in solidarity with all the young in Gaza who have come under Israeli fire. Children wore bloodstained t-shirts and lifted Palestinian and Venezuelan flags, the latter to show appreciation to Venezuela for dismissing their Israeli ambassador late in the week. The group toured the streets calling children around the world to demonstrate in solidarity with Gazans and to put pressure on Israel to stop the Israeli aggression. The children walked towards the wall, which cuts through village land and expressed their anger over the situation in Gaza. As the children moved towards the wall, Israeli soldiers fired tear gas on them. Dozens were choked by the gas.

Israeli forces detain man from Askar Refugee camp in Nablus region
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli troops detained a young man from the Askar refugee camp east of Nablus after raiding his house Sunday at dawn. Witnesses said that several Israeli military vehicles overran the refugee camp and detained 38-year-old Amjad Warrad after breaking into his home. The forces withdrew from the camp after the detention. No clashes were reported. [end]

Israeli troops detain five West Bankers said to have illegal weapons
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Five were detained by Israeli forces in Ramallah and Hebron overnight Saturday. Israeli sources said troops detained five locals who they accused of possessing F16 [M16? ] weapons illegally. They were taken to an investigation center for questioning. [end]

Barak and Livni disagree with Olmert, want quick end to Gaza fighting
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
Sources close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert confirmed Sunday that he continues to disagree with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni regarding the question of continuing the warfare in Gaza. The so-called troika met last evening to discuss the subject, and both Barak and Livni reportedly argued for ending Operation Cast Lead as soon as possible. This is apparently the reason Olmert wants to present the issue to the security cabinet, where the majority supports his view. Livni contends that continuing the offensive could harm the deterrence it has achieved so far and damage Israel diplomatically. Barak objects mainly to inserting ground troops deep into densely populated areas of Gaza. For his part, Olmert told the full cabinet Sunday that stopping Operation Cast Lead now would be a missed opportunity.

Intelligence sources believe Hamas damaged
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/11/2009
Although Hamas leadership in Damascus calling for blood, Gaza leadership demonstrates reduced capabilties, says intelligence chief. Shin Bet chief: Fewer rockets than expected, but Hamas could be saving capabilties for last attack - Hamas is damaged, but reluctant to concede to a ceasefire, intelligence leaders reported Sunday. The IDF’s head of intelligence and Shin Bet chief said the terror organization’s capabilities have been significantly reduced, but the organization may still launch a harsh response. "Hamas is crying stop. Hamas wants nothing more than to retaliate to the blow dealt to it and make up for the lack of operational achievements in the field. On the other hand, they don’t want to wave the white flag," Major-General Amos Yadlin said in a press conference. " The Hamas leadership in Damascus is isolated. . . "

’Hamas badly hit, but will fight on’
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 1/11/2009
As Operation Cast Lead enters its 17th day on Monday, the assessment in Jerusalem is that Hamas has been badly beaten and bruised, but is not yet willing to wave the white flag of surrender. As such the cabinet met Sunday and did not change the parameters of the military operation. Nor, however, did it give any indication if - or when - it would decide to move to the next stage, widely believed to consist of expanding the operation and moving into Gaza’s densely populated cities and refugee camps. "Israel is nearing the goals that it set for itself. However, further patience, determination and effort are necessary to achieve those goals in a way that will change the security reality in the South so that our citizens will be able to feel long-term security and stability," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the cabinet.

Meshaal brands failed Gaza offensive a ’Holocaust’
Middle East Online 1/11/2009
DAMASCUS - Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal on Saturday slammed Israel’s assault on Gaza as a "Holocaust" in which the blood of Palestinian children was being shed to bolster prospects in next month’s Israeli elections. "The enemy has failed by creating a real Holocaust on the soil of Gaza," Meshaal, who lives in exile in Syria, said in a pre-recorded statement aired on Arab satellite televisions Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya. "Palestinian blood has become a means to win elections," he said, addressing the Israeli people whose leaders are to face off in general elections on February 10. Meshaal said the military campaign had been a failure. "What did you achieve through this war. . . other than the killing of children, of innocents? "he asked the Israeli leadership. "You have lost on the moral and humanitarian fronts.

PFLP’s Leila Khaled condemns Israeli aggression
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)’s most iconic leader on Sunday denounced Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip and rejected a earlier United Nations resolution. Member of PFLP Politburo Leila Khaled called UN Security Council Resolution 1860 "a failed attempt to place the victim and executioner on equal footing. " She added that the resolution "does nothing to secure the rights of our people to be free of aggression and siege. " Khaled also insisted that Palestinians "are united against this aggression in Gaza. " [end]

Khalid Mash’al: Hamas rejects permanent truce, international forces in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/10/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Hamas’ leader in exile Khalid Mash’al echoed the sentiments of several factional leaders Saturday, saying international forces in Gaza to enforce a ceasefire are unacceptable and will be viewed as an occupying force. The statement followed the return of Hamas representatives from Cairo, where they met with Acting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and members of the Egyptian Initiative team, to discuss a ceasefire initiative. Abbas’ spokesman Dr Rafiq Al-Husseini had indicated earlier Saturday that there had been some progress on the ceasefire talks. Mash’al’s main objective to the presence of international troops in any ceasefire agreement, is that they will act to “subdue the Palestinian people,” and “dictate… political concessions. "The fear is that Hamas power will be curtailed; changing the political landscape that Hamas maintains is the will of the people of Gaza.

Exiled PFLP member At-Taher rejects ceasefire agreements
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Member of the politburo office for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Maher At-Taher affirmed Saturday that party will not accept any initiative unless it includes an immediate halt to the Israeli offensive in Gaza. At-Taher laid out the conditions of any ceasefire agreement, whether international or Arab, saying it had to include a full and permanent lift of the siege including opening the Rafah crossing, an Israeli withdrawal guarantee and an affirmation that Palestinians have the right to resistance. The comments came during an interview with Al-Jazeera over the recent talks between The Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas representatives from Gaza and Damascus. “Palestinians need clear guarantees” said At-Taher, and pointed to several topics that should be on the table beside a ceasefire deal, including a prisoner swap and a full withdrawal from Palestinian territories.

Abbas’ advisor calls Mash’al stance 'unrealistic'; accuses leader of being out of touch
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Advisor to the Palestinian President and Fatah spokesperson Ahmad Abd Ar-Rahman called Hamas leader in exile Khalid Mash’al’s position on the ceasefire agreement “unrealistic. ”Mash’al reacted against the proposal to install international troops and observer missions in the Gaza Strip, saying they would amount to an occupying force that dictates the political actions of the Hamas government. In response Abd Ar-Rahman said Mash’al was being unrealistic based on the real situation in the Gaza Strip and the willing support of the initiative by Arab countries. “Mash’al was speaking as if the Hamas tanks are surrounding Tel Aviv,” Abd Ar-Rahman said. He accused the Damascus head of Hamas of being out of touch, saying his response was as if “he had never been there [Gaza]…so he can’t recognize the death of so many and the destruction of buildings and homes.

Security official: Armistice within reach
Roni Sofer and Ali Waked, YNetNews 1/12/2009
Diplomatic efforts to end Gaza conflict intensify as Defense Ministry official says Cairo-brokered talks have undergone pivotal conceptual change; Egypt now fathoms dangers of Hamas. Palestinian sources warn of premature optimism - Operation Cast Lead, phase 2. 5, that is what the defense establishment has dubbed the incorporation of IDF reserve forces in the Gaza incursion. Simultaneously, the diplomatic efforts to reach a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas have intensified, as Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry’s Security-Diplomatic Bureau, revealed that the Cairo-brokered talks have undergone a pivotal conceptual change, "now that Egypt fully understands" the dangers of Hamas. "The goal is to tighten the siege on Hamas, but this is not to defined operational objective," a defense establishment source told Ynet. Day 17 of Operation Cast Lead is expected to allow for better examination of the French-Egyptian ceasefire initiative, while IDF forces will continue to target terror hubs in the Strip.

700 people, mostly Arabs, arrested so far in protests against IDF Gaza op
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
Seven hundred protesters against the Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza, mostly Israeli Arabs or residents of East Jerusalem, have been arrested since the operation began, and dozens have been indicted. The protesters, 226 of whom are still in custody, are suspected of involvement in disturbances, illegal demonstrations or stone-throwing, police said. Of the detainees, 237 are minors. Most of the protests that led to arrests took place in Jerusalem or the north. Palestinians and Israeli left-wing activists claim that in the wake of Operation Cast Lead, the IDF 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.

Some Israelis Cry Out for Peace
Daan Bauwens, Inter Press Service 1/12/2009
TEL AVIV, Jan 11(IPS) - Another peace rally Saturday night brought together about a couple of thousand Israelis to demand an immediate end to the ongoing assault in Gaza. The demonstration was held in front of the Hakirya, the central command of the Israeli Defence Forces and the Ministry of Defence in the heart of Tel Aviv. This was the third peace rally in three weeks. The first was held directly after the first air bombing of Gaza. It was attended by a few hundred protesters. At the second, more than 2,000 people came out on the streets. "We have a humanistic and political message," says Yosef Douek of the movement Peace Now which organised the demonstration. ’Children in Gaza and Sderot want to live in peace and security. There is no use whatsoever to a continuation of these military actions. " Peace Now was joined by Israeli peace movement Gush Shalom, after the joint. . .

Some Israeli leftists join calls for end to offensive in Gaza
Inter Press Service, Daily Star 1/12/2009
Daan Bauwens - TEL AVIV: Another peace rally Saturday night brought together about 2,000 Israelis to demand an immediate end to the ongoing assault in Gaza. The protest was held in front of the Hakirya, the central command of the Israeli military and the Defense Ministry in the heart of Tel Aviv. This was the third peace rally in three weeks. The first was held directly after the first air strikes of Gaza. It was attended by a few hundred protesters. At the second, more than 2,000 people came out on the streets. "We have a humanistic and political message," says Yosef Douek of the Peace Now movement which organized the demonstration. "Children in Gaza and Sderot want to live in peace and security. There is no use whatsoever to a continuation of these military actions. " Peace Now was joined by fellow Israeli peace movement Gush Shalom, after the joint Palestinian-Israeli. . .

Judge on Arab stone-throwers: We have enough enemies outside Israel
Ahiya Raved Published, YNetNews 1/11/2009
Court rules Arab-Israeli teens charged with stoning police officers remain in police custody, says ’taking advantage of democracy and freedom of speech in such cases is akin to biting the hand that feeds you’ -The Haifa Magistrate’s Court ruled on Sunday after ruling that three Arab-Israeli teens who took part in disturbances related to the IDF’s offensive in Gaza will remain in police custody until the conclusion of the legal proceedings. "We have enough enemies outside the country, and no one must be allowed to weaken Israel’s security forces from within by throwing stones or staging riots," Judge Moshe Gilad determined. " Abusing democracy and freedom of speech in such cases is akin to biting the hand that feeds you," he said. The indictments in question relate to two separate cases: The first involves a 16-year-old resident of the Western. . .

Palestinians rally outside Olmert’s home calling for an end to Gaza massacre
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Jerusalem – Ma’an – The Higher Committee representing Palestinians living in Israel organized a demonstration in front of the Israeli President’s office in Jerusalem Sunday. The protest was set to begin as Olmet returned from the weekly Sunday Cabinet Ministers’ meeting, and included a handful of Knesset Members lobbying for a ceasefire. Demonstrators lifted banners condemning the Israeli massacres in the Gaza Strip and held photos of the children killed in the Israeli attacks. MK Muhammad Barakeh told demonstrators”Olmert’s government thinks that they can move on and continue their massacres against Palestinians and prevent them from their essential right to live freely and have their own independent state. ”Barakeh added that this government started their war on Gaza in Lebanon in 2006 and they are keen on more massacres and more bloodshed.

Unions call for boycott of Israeli products
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian Union of Workers’ Unions called for a comprehensive boycott of Israeli products effectively immediately. Any product with a non-Israeli alternative should be substituted as an act of defiance and protest against the Israeli atrocities in the Gaza Strip, said a statement from the union. It also called on the Palestinian government to encourage local production for any products without a viable alternative. It called on those who import Israeli products to stop purchasing as soon as possible and seek for local alternatives. In its statement, the union denounced the war crimes committed by Israel against children and women in Gaza, and affirmed the rights of Palestinians for freedom, independence and self determination.

UNRWA mocks accusation of infiltration by Hamas
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 1/12/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: The main UN body responsible for the care of Palestinian refugees on Saturday slammed an Israeli ambassador’s accusations that its Gaza employees were Hamas loyalists. "We are getting mixed message from the Israeli authorities," UN Relief and Works Agency spokesman Christopher Gunness told AFP. "Yesterday [they] expressed deep regret about the death of our workers and urged us to resume our humanitarian work as soon as possible. And yet today an Israeli ambassador is accusing those very same workers of being terrorists. It seems that the Israeli authorities are tying themselves in knots. " Israel’s ambassador to Austria, Dan Ashbel, said in an interview with the Austrian weekly profil to be published Monday that UNRWA’s workers "are Hamas people who distribute aid to those loyal to Hamas.

Mazuz: Israel bracing for slew of lawsuits over Gaza op
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 1/11/2009
Attorney general says legal system preparing for wave of international lawsuits over Israeli offensive in Gaza; adds Judge Advocate General involved in every operational decision - "We are preparing for a wave of international lawsuits over the operation in Gaza," said Attorney General Menachem Mazuz Sunday. "That in itself is nothing new. I can only assume that following the events, we will have more intensive and focused work ahead of us. " Speaking at a Jerusalem Center for Ethics conference, Mazuz stressed that the Judge Advocate General was involved in the authorization process of every strike in Operation Cast Lead, but that the final decision was still at the hands of the IDF. " This is the second edition of the Second Lebanon War. All the questioned we have to face in Gaza have already been asked, so the military and the State have clear guidelines when in comes to matters the likes of targeted assassinations, returning fire and harming civilians," he said.

Hizbullah warns Israel against using rockets as pretext to attack Lebanon
Daily Star 1/12/2009
NABATIYEH: Hizbullah warned Israel over the weekend against using the recent rockets’ attack on northern Israel as a pretext to spark conflict with Lebanon. Speaking before a mass of Hizbullah supporters who rallied in the southern town of Nabatiyeh, MP Mohammad Raad said his group was ready to react forcefully in the event of an Israeli attack. Three Katyusha rockets were fired into Israel from southern Lebanon on Thursday, sparking fears of renewed conflict between Hizbullah and Israel. But Hizbullah rushed to deny any responsibility for the attack which wounded two people. Israel responded to the attack by shelling the area from which the attack was conducted. The Lebanese government condemned the attack as a violation of a UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended Israel’s 34-day war on Lebanon in summer 2006.

Fadlallah calls for ’three Islamic poles’ to offset Israel’s power
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 1/12/2009
BEIRUT: Leading Shiite cleric Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah on Sunday called for cooperation between "the three Islamic poles" of Iran, Egypt and Turkey to create balance in the region. "It is possible to correct the military and political imbalance in the region on the basis of which the [Israeli] enemy waves its military and security machinery in the face of the Arabs," Fadlallah said in a statement sent to AFP which added: "This is through Islamic cooperation between three essential poles in the region and they are Iran, Turkey and Egypt. " Fadlallah said that Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip amounted to an attack on Arab and Islamic liberation movements as a whole. "We had wanted and still hope for an active Arab role in the Palestinian question and in the region as a whole," he added. "However, many of the Arab rulers themselves turned down a role of that size,". . .

Gaza protests come in several colors, shapes and sizes
Daily Star 1/12/2009
BEIRUT: From Akkar to Nabatiyeh, heated demonstrations against Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip rippled throughout Lebanon over the weekend. But despite protesters’ like-minded chants, sectarian and political rifts threatened to undermine the unity of some rallies. At least five people were hurt during a pro-Gaza rally in the northern province of Akkar on Saturday. Tensions flared after members of the Syrian Social National Party waved the party’s flag, provoking residents from Haysheh and others from Wadi Khaled to hurl sticks and stones. A Syrian TV crew also came under attack. Lebanese Army troops intervened and dispersed the antagonists before the clashes got out of control. Local party allegiances were also loudly proclaimed in Nabatiyeh on Saturday. Hizbullah and Palestinian flags waved alongside each other as nearly 20,000 people converged on the Hizbullah-organized protest against the Gaza offensive.

Israeli troops ’shot at from Syria’
Al Jazeera 1/11/2009
Israeli troops in the occupied Golan Heights have come under small arms fire from Syria, Israeli military officials have said. No one was injured in the incident on Sunday, but it was been reported to the United Nations force that monitors the area, an Israeli army spokesman said. "In the afternoon, there were a number of bullets fired from Syria at an Israeli army force doing engineering work near the fence," he said. "No one was hurt but a vehicle was damaged. "Forces in the field are examining the incident and a complaint was sent to UNDOF which sent a team there. The circumstances of the incident are still unclear. "The Israeli military spokesman said that Israeli troops did not return fire. There was no immediate comment on the incident from Damascus.

IDF soldiers come under fire at Syria border fence
Eli Ashkenazi and Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
A number of Israel Defense Forces soldiers came under cross-border fire on Sunday while working on the fence between Israel and Syria. There were no casualties in the incident, but the bullets struck a few vehicles on site. "In the afternoon, there were a number of bullets fired from Syria at an Israeli army force doing engineering work near the fence," an army spokesman said. "No one was hurt but a vehicle was damaged. Forces in the field are examining the incident and a complaint was sent to UNDOF which sent a team there. The circumstances of the incident are still unclear. "  The IDF said that it did not appear as though the Syrian army was not involved in the incident. More likely, it said, Palestinian militants fired the shots to protest Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip and to cause tensions on a second front.

Egypt opens Rafah for medical equipment, European delegation
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – A nine-member delegation of European parliamentarians was permitted entry into the Gaza Strip on Sunday, according to a spokesperson for the de facto government. Adel Zu’rub said Sunday that Egypt opened the Rafah crossing for a short while on Sunday evening, allowing the delegation from Europe to tour the immediate area before leaving soon after. "Egypt has allowed for the first time today the entry of food, in addition to eight truckloads of medication and 14 doctors, including two Algerians and eight Jordanians. " Egypt also allowed in three ambulances, which were donated by Libya. Zu’rub also said 41 Palestinians needing urgent medical treatment to enter Egypt, while Egypt allowed the body of 18-month-old Sadeq Muhsen, who died at an Egyptian hospital, to be returned to his native Gaza.

Report: 36 new doctors allowed into Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – A medical committee in the Gaza Strip applauded the arrival of 36 specialist doctors through the Rafah crossing on Sunday. According to the International Emergency and Relief Committee in Gaza, the new arrivals will enable life-saving surgeries and participate in the overall reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. Committee head Munir Al-Barsh said "the situation in Gaza is dangerous and requires every effort to support the Palestinians. " Al-Barsh added that the committee will make every effort to "support the Palestinians and humanitarian cases. " He also appealed for the international community to protect hospitals, paramedics, health facilities and medical staff to enable them to "do their duty toward the injured during the Israeli war on Gaza," indicating that 13 paramedics and doctors have already been killed during the Israeli onslaught.

Tensions running high on the Egypt-Gaza border
IRIN, Electronic Intifada 1/11/2009
RAFAH, EGYPT (IRIN) - With Israel’s two-week military offensive in Gaza showing no signs of abating, patience is running thin among those waiting to get into the Strip from the Egyptian border town of Rafah, the Palestinians’ only access to the outside world that is not controlled by Israel. Every day, local and foreign doctors, nurses, truck drivers and journalists, among others, wait on the Egyptian side of the border for the opportunity to enter Gaza during the daily three-hour ceasefire. "It’s become routine. You come and wait for something to happen," an Egyptian journalist from a local government newspaper who preferred anonymity told IRIN. The Gaza-Egypt border runs right through Rafah town. Near the border crossing on the Egyptian side, groups of people gather on the pavement next to the main road making small talk while they wait for the gate to open. A run-down kiosk makes brisk business selling tea and biscuits to this daily gathering after months of inactivity due to the previous full closure of the border.

Two Egyptian children among 4 wounded in IAF strike near Gaza
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
Two Egyptian children and two police officers were wounded by shrapnel from Israel Air Force bombs near a crossing point at Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip on Sunday, security sources said. The children, aged two and five, and the two officers were the first Egyptians to be wounded by Israeli bombs since the Israeli offensive against Gaza began on Dec. 27, and were taken to hospitals in el-Arish. There were no details of the gravity of their wounds. Witnesses said Egyptian houses near the border and government offices at the crossing were damaged by shrapnel on Sunday. Israel has expanded its air campaign to the southern Gaza Strip, aiming at smuggling tunnels running under the border with Egypt. One Egyptian border guard has been killed and two have been wounded in clashes with Palestinians trying to enter Egypt since the Israeli offensive began.

Egypt summons Israeli ambassador over Gaza op
AFP, YNetNews 1/12/2009
Ambassador Shlomo Cohen called to Egyptian Foreign Ministry following reports suggesting Israel may expand military op in Strip as means to pressure Cairo to crack down on arms smuggling tunnels - The Egyptian Foreign Ministry summoned the Israeli ambassador in Cairo to demand that Israel comply with the UN Security Council Resolution 1860 on the Gaza offensive. Ambassador Shlomo Cohen was also questioned on information published by the Israeli press suggesting Israel intended to expand the operation, in order to pressure Egypt to increase its crackdown on smuggling tunnels linking its territory to the Palestinian territory, said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossam Zaki. "Such remarks are baseless… The Israeli military actions are linked solely to the situation in Gaza," said Cohen, is a press release. Despite the UN’s Thursday resolution calling for a ceasefire, Israel has decided

Brothers in Thought, Not in Arms
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Inter Press Service 1/12/2009
CAIRO, Jan 11(IPS) - Egypt’s official press has recently alleged an "organisational relationship" between the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) opposition movement and Palestinian resistance group Hamas, currently facing the brunt of Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip. MB spokesmen, however, say their relationship with Hamas is purely ideological. "Hamas has adopted the principles of the MB," Essam Al-Arian, leading member of the Egyptian MB, told IPS. "But there is absolutely no ’organisational relationship’ between the two movements. " On the first day of Israel’s campaign against the Gaza Strip, governed by Hamas since the summer of 2007, Egyptian officials renewed claims that Hamas was taking its instructions from the leadership of the Egyptian MB. "Politically and organisationally, Hamas belongs to the Egyptian MB," Mohamed Ali Ibrahim, editor-in-chief of prominent official daily Al-Gomhouriya wrote on Dec.

Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 01- 07 January 2009
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 1/8/2009
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Have Continued Their War on the Gaza for the 2nd Consecutive Week under International Silence - IOF Offensive on the Gaza Strip - *698 Palestinians have been killed. *The victims include 433 civilians and 165 civil police officers. *The civilian victims include 158 children and 40 women. *Dr. Nizar Rayan, a senior leader of Hamas, was assassinated together with his 4 wives and 11 of his children. *IOF bombarded a mosque in the northern Gaza Strip, killing 15 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, and wounding dozens of others. *IOF attacked medical and civil defense crews, killing 6 medical personnel. *IOF bombarded 2 UNRWA schools, 2 public ones and a private one. *2354 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 622 children and 252 women, have been wounded.

Free Gaza Movement sends new aid ship from Cyprus
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The US-based aid organization famous for sending multiple siege-breaking vessels to the Gaza Strip announced plans on Sunday to send another from Cyprus. The Free Gaza Movement’s ship, the Spirit of Humanity, is set to arrive at the Gaza City Wharf on Tuesday, the group said in a statement to Ma’an. It has notified Israeli authorities of its intentions. The Spirit will leave the Cypriot port city of Larnaca at noon on Monday, the movement said, on an emergency mission to besieged Gaza. The ship will carry desperately needed doctors, journalists, human rights workers and members of several European parliaments, as well as medical supplies. This voyage marks Free Gaza’s second attempt to break through the blockade since Israel began attacking the Gaza Strip on 27 December. Between August and December 2008, the Free Gaza Movement successfully challenged. . .

Sources: Hamas fired anti-aircraft missiles at IAF planes
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
Hamas militants in Gaza have tried to down Israeli warplanes with various types of anti-aircraft missiles, defense sources have told the government. The Palestinian Islamist group has not succeeded, however, in downing any Israel Air Force aircraft. This is despite having possession of the sophisticated weaponry, and the many sorties the IAF has flown during Israel’s ongoing offensive against Hamas in the coastal territory. Israel’s security forces have noticed a serious effort by Hamas to develop anti-aircraft capabilities. Militants have hid some of the missiles in Gaza mosques, and have also recently attempted to smuggle more into the Strip. Hamas has persistently tried to down Israeli aircraft. The Israel Defense Forces have observed anti-aircraft machine gun fire against IAF helicopters, although this too has been unsuccessful.

Hamas fires missiles at IDF jets
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/11/2009
Defense establishment officials say several attempts made to hit Air Force warplanes since start of Gaza op - Hamas attempting to hit IAF warplanes flying over Gaza: Defense establishment officials said Sunday that several attempts have been made to hit Israel Air Force jets attacking targets the Gaza Strip since the start of Operation Cast Lead 16 days ago. Hamas gunmen reportedly attempted to shoot down warplanes using antiaircraft missiles several days ago. There were injuries or damage in this incident. Air Force pilots have been informed of the clear threat against them and have been ordered to act in accordance with the routine safety rules. The IDF jets, especially the assault helicopters, have been subject to these threats in the Gaza Strip for a long time now and the Air Force has been working to prevent Hamas from implementing its plans.

Palestinian factions launch more attacks on Israeli targets
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Armed Palestinian factions continued firing projectiles on Israeli towns from the Gaza Strip on Sunday, claiming responsibility for a number of attacks. In statements to Ma’an, Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for shelling the Israeli military post of Nahal Oz with three projectiles. Al-Quds said an assembly of armored vehicles southeast of the evacuated settlement of Netzarim in central Gaza was the prime target of a second assault, which saw four mortar shells launched from Gaza. Meanwhile, Al-Quds, along with another group affiliated with Fatah, claimed joined responsibility for shelling armored vehicles in the Al-A’tatarah area of Gaza. They hit Nitzarim with four other shells earlier in the day, according to their statement. Each of the concerned groups said in a statement that the shelling came in response to "Israeli. . .

Kamal Udwan Brigades launch projectiles at Israeli military targets
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The Kamal Udwan Brigades, a military group said to be affiliated with both Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades and the National Liberation Organization announced the firing of four mortar shells at an Israeli military site east of Gaza City on Saturday night. The brigades said in a statement received by Ma’an that the attack comes as a response for the ongoing Israeli massacres in the Gaza Strip. [end]

Hamas forced to fire rockets in under two minutes
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
Ninety seconds - that’s what it takes for an impromptu Palestinian rocket team to launch a Katyusha rocket at targets 40 kilometers away. Defense sources say Hamas has moved to "rush-launch" methods to evade air strikes, even though this diminishes the chance they will hit their targets. In recent days the numbers of rockets being fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip has fallen considerably, to about 20 to 30 daily, compared with 40 to 60 at the start of the offensive. The constant air cover over Gaza is the main reason for the drop, targeting militants readying to carry out a launch. The air force has been successful in attacking preprepared launching positions where the militants had already calculated the rocket’s range and trajectory. To compensate for the loss of its ability to launch from well-prepared positions, Hamas rushes launches, usually at night, often near schools or mosques.

IDF says Qassam attacks down 50% since Cast Lead launched
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
Sixteen days into Operation Cast Lead, the IDF says there has been a dramatic drop in the ability of Hamas to launch rockets against Israel. Currently, the launches have dropped by 50% compared to the first day of the Gaza operation. A total of 22 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip struck Israel on Sunday, one of which exploded in an empty school playground in the northern Negev city of Ashdod. There were no casualties in the incident. On Saturday, at least 21 Palestinian rockets hit Israeli territory, wounding 14 people. The number of rockets fired from Gaza was somewhat lower than had been shot daily since Israel launched Operation Cast Lead on December 27. An Ashkelon man was lightly wounded and required medical attention after a Qassam rockets slammed into his apartment building Saturday in the center of town.

WATCH: IDF uncovers booby-trapped school next to Gaza zoo
Haaertz Service, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
Israel Defense Forces troops this week uncovered a school in the Gaza Strip rigged by Hamas militants with a large amount of explosives. The school, located next to a Gaza zoo, was entirely surrounded by a fuse connecting to the explosives. Inside the abandoned classrooms, IDF troops found a number of weapons. "We are continuing to confront a mad reality of boobytrapped tunnels, boobytrapped schools," IDF spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said. "In one district of 150 houses, more than 30 were boobytrapped. Hamas boobytraps every house that residents leave. "Leibovich said residential neighborhoods in Gaza are riddled with homemade bombs and booby traps, including mannequins placed at apartment entrances to simulate militants and rigged to explode if soldiers approach.

Sources: ’Hamas leaders hiding in Israel-built Shifa Hospital basement’
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
Senior Hamas officials in Gaza are hiding out in a "bunker" built by Israel, intelligence officials suspect: Many are believed to be in the basements of the Shifa Hospital complex in Gaza City, which was refurbished during Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip. Shifa, the coastal strip’s largest hospital, was built while Gaza was under Egyptian rule, before 1967. During the mid-1980s the building underwent massive refurbishment as part of a showcase project to improve the living conditions of residents. Millions were invested in the project, which was overseen by Shmuel Goren, the coordinator for activities in the territories at the time. The Israeli civil administration in the territories constructed the hospital complex’s Building Number 2, which has a large cement basement that housed the hospital’s laundry and various administrative services.

Gaza: IDF uncovers booby-trapped school, zoo
Ynet, YNetNews 1/11/2009
Explosive device rigged with timer neutralized by soldiers before it is detonated; RPG launchers, grenades and Kalashnikov assault rifles found inside school - IDF forces operating in Gaza on Sunday uncovered an explosive device rigged with a timer that was placed in a Palestinian school. A fuse attached to the bomb extended to a zoo located dozens of meters away. The soldiers managed to neutralize the bomb before it was set off. Numerous weapons, including RPG launchers, grenades and Kalashnikov assault rifles were found inside the school. At least 27 Palestinians were killed and some 90 more were injured during IDF attacks throughout Gaza on Sunday, thus bringing the Palestinian death toll since the launching of Operation Cast Lead 16 days ago to 890. Some 3,500 Gazans have been inured in the offensive so far.

San Francisco streets see 10,000 rally for Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
San Francisco - Ma’an - Sunday market the largest-yet San Francisco protest against the Israeli violence in the Gaza Strip since the invasion began shortly after Christmas. Over 10,000 gathered at the Civic Center and walked towards the City Hall. The event was organized by the Act Now to Stop War & End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition. Americans of all backgrounds attended the event, and dozens of anti-Zionist American-Jews came out to support the action. “I am here for the first time to show my disappointment about the Israeli Government and to tell the world that there are Jews that are not Zionists, and Jews that are against the Israeli Occupation of Palestine,” said Benjamin, a Jewish American at the protest. "No human being on this planet should be quiet about the massacres in Gaza, no one should be silent about innocent civilian kids getting killed for no reason," said Benjamin.

Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide protest on day 15 of Israeli invasion of Gaza
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/11/2009
All over the world, in hundreds of cities, protesters took to the streets on Saturday to call for an end to Israeli aggression in Gaza. Over 50,000 people gathered in below-freezing temperatures in London to march on the Israeli embassy, where they were attacked by riot police. At least 30,000 marched in Paris, and 30,000 in Barcelona, Spain, and over 20,000 in Jakarta, Indonesia. In Washington DC, 15,000 people marched through freezing rain to demand that the US government end their support of Israel’s occupation. In Duisburg, Germany, over 10,000 people marched. According to the Associated Press, large protests were held in multiple cities in each of the countries of Germany, Sweden, Scotland, Belgium, Italy, Austria, France, England, Norway, Canada, Greece, Hong Kong, Algeria, Lebanon and in nearly each of the fifty states of the United States of America.

Jordan princess warns of growing anger over Israeli raids against Gaza
Middle East Online 1/11/2009
AMMAN - Jordan’s Princess Haya, a UN messenger of peace, warned on Sunday that growing Arab anger and frustration over Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip, could spiral out of control. "I think the frustration on the Arab street, the humiliation, the hurt, the anger and the sadness are something that can’t be kept under control very easily in the near coming future if this (war) continues," Haya said in telephone interview. "This is another threat that the world has to look to. We have seen people’s demonstrations and we have seen angry ones but, I mean, they will become angrier. " Princess Haya, daughter of the late King Hussein and wife of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, said the "world is not listening" to reason in the region. "Solving the Palestinian problem is key to solving all the issues in the region.

100,000 Londoners rally for Gaza in second protest in as many weeks
Ma’an News Agency 1/11/2009
London - Ma’an - For the second Saturday in a row, London protestors took to the streets to demonstrate against the escalating attacks on Gaza and voice their support for the beleaguered Palestinian population of the Strip. More than 100,000 marched from Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park, to the Israeli embassy in the shopping area of Kensington market. Rallies were held both at the beginning and end of the march with a number of high profile activists, politicians and celebrities addressing the huge crowds. A heavy police presence was evident throughout, including large numbers of riot police. The protest was generally good natured with few incidents. Tensions were running high in the area of the embassy itself. A couple offireworks were let off, and eggs and shoes were thrown towards the embassy.

Spain: 100,000 urge Israel to ’stop Gaza massacre’
Associated Press Published, YNetNews 1/11/2009
Tens of thousands in cities across Europe, Middle East and Asia demonstrate against Israeli offensive; 11 leading British Jews: Continued military op could strengthen extremists -Security forces used tear gas and batons to repel anti-Israel protesters who tried to attack a US consulate in Pakistan on Sunday, as tens of thousands in cities across Europe, the Middle East and Asia demonstrated against Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. A protest in the Belgian capital that drew 30,000 turned violent as well, with demonstrators overturning cars and smashing shop windows. And in Manila, Philippines, policemen used shields to disperse students protesting outside the US Embassy. Israel launched its campaign in Gaza on Dec. 27 to stop rocket fire from the militant Palestinian group Hamas.

Thousands of Jews rally against Hamas
Audrey Gillan, The Guardian 1/12/2009
The sign taped to the front of 10-month-old Ezra Wiesenberg read: "The IDF don’t hide behind me! Stop Hamas abuse of children shields. "Strapped to his mother Ann’s chest, Ezra and his family had travelled with thousands of other Jews to London’s to Trafalgar Square in London yesterday for a pro-Israeli rally calling for peace in the Middle East but also supporting the Israeli government’s actions in Gaza. Across the street, behind a cordon, the Rabbi Avraham Greenberg took his Israeli passport from its plastic wallet and slowly set it on fire with a gas lighter until its ashes floated around him. He explained to the small crowd on the pavement that he had been born in the state of Israel but he was ashamed to hold a passport from that country. He stood with more than a dozen Orthodox rabbis who joined in chants of "Judaism here to stay, Zionism no way".

Pro-Israeli protests in London and Manchester
David Batty Audrey Gillan and agencies, The Guardian 1/11/2009
Thousands of pro-Israeli demonstrators gathered in London and Manchester today calling for an end to Hamas rocket attacks and condemning the British media’s coverage of the conflict in Gaza - Speakers at the two protests, one in Trafalgar Square and another outside Manchester town hall, accused Hamas of using Palestinian civilians in the Gaza strip as human shields, and defended Israel’s military action. In Trafalgar Square, thousands of demonstrators waving Israeli flags and placards bearing the slogan "End Hamas Terror!" cheered as the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews called on them to "reclaim the public space" from their political opponents - a reference to the pro-Palestinian demonstrations held in London in the past week. Henry Grunwald told the crowd: "The atmosphere on the streets of London has been very unpleasant in the last two days; we felt it important to reclaim the public space and make our voices heard.

Jewish communities fear escalation of anti-Israel protests
Yael Levy, YNetNews 1/12/2009
We are trying to prevent a disaster; the atmosphere is very tense and we don’t know how things are going to develop," a Jewish community leader in Paris says following mass Paris protest against Gaza offensive. Jewish Agency envoy in London: People are afraid to wear kippas -Several Jewish communities throughout Europe have boosted security at schools and synagogues and have taken other precautionary measures following a wave of anti-Israel protests that have swept the continent since the launching of the IDF’s offensive in Gaza. "We are trying to prevent a disaster," a Jewish community leader in Paris told Ynet on Sunday. "The atmosphere is very tense; we don’t know how things are going to develop. "According to Serj Ben-Haim, the heads of the various Jewish communities in France decided on a number of new security measures.

IDF clips are 4th- biggest hit on YouTube
Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
Israel Defense Forces video clips documenting the war in Gaza and showing preparations for combat were the fourth most-popular videos on the video-sharing Web site YouTube as of last week, and some have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, the IDF reported yesterday. The IDF, which has also been showing the clips as free videos on demand on cable television, began making them public over the weekend, and said yesterday that more than 30,000 clips have been viewed thus far. Some of the short videos, which last between several seconds and several minutes, show Israeli air strikes on Gaza, while others show humanitarian food-distribution missions, Home Front Command instructions andunits preparing for combat. The army plans to expand the video content in the coming days, the IDF said.

Olmert, Foreign Ministry officials support Livni over UN vote
Gil Hoffman And Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 1/12/2009
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and senior officials in the Foreign Ministry rallied around Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Sunday, deflecting criticism that she failed in her job by not stopping the passage Thursday of the UN Security Council resolution demanding a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. Likud and Labor officials had said earlier Sunday the fact the UN vote had passed without the American veto that has become customary for resolutions seen as harming Israel would be campaign fodder against Kadima’s prime ministerial candidate. Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Olmert defended Livni, saying that she had warned from the beginning of the likelihood of a UN resolution, and that were it not for her efforts and the efforts of the Foreign Ministry, a more critical resolution would have been passed much sooner.

Most MKs oppose postponing elections over Gaza fighting
Haaretz Staff, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
Most Knesset members oppose the idea of postponing the upcoming election because of the fighting in Gaza, which makes the chances of mustering the necessary 80-MK majority for the move highly unlikely. Firm opposition to postponement was expressed by Labor, Likud, Shas, Meretz and Yisrael Beiteinu, which together command 59 of the Knesset’s 120 seats. Kadima, which has 29 seats, also officially opposes the idea, though some party members, led by Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, say it must be considered if the fighting has not ended by next week. National Union-National Religious Party (9 seats) also says it currently opposes postponement, but might reconsider if the fighting is still going on next week. In contrast, the Pensioners (7 seats) have been pushing for postponement, and the Arab parties (10 seats) are leaning toward supporting it, fearing that Arab anger over the military. . .

MK Lieberman: Israeli Arab party and Hamas have same goal - to destroy Israel
Yoav Stern and Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
Kadima party decided Sunday to support a proposal to disqualify Israeli-Arab Balad party from the election race on February 10. In doing so Kadima joins Yisrael Beiteinu and other political parties who declared that because Balad rejects the idea of an Israeli state, it can thereforenot take part in the 18th Knesset. "The goals of Hamas and Balad are the same: to destroy Israel," said Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman MK Avigdor Lieberman. "The difference between them is that the Hamas is outside of Israel, in Gaza, whereas Balad is not only within Israel, but sits in its parliament. " Kadima’s decision increases the chances that the disqualification will be approved before it reaches a High Court of Justice ruling. " The power of a democracy is not just allowing representation of the minorities that live within it, but also the obligation. . .

Gush Katif evacuees implore gov’t to let them resettle Gaza
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
A group of former residents of the Gush Katif settlement bloc on Sunday implored the government to allow them to resettle Gaza, amid Israel’s ongoing offensive against Hamas in the coastal territory. "Let us return home. We are ready at a day’s notice to set up tents in the area, until permanent construction," the group said at a news conference at the Museum of Gush Katif in Jerusalem. Israel pulled out all of its settlers and soldiers from the Gaza Strip during the summer of 2005. The pullout was fiercely opposed by residents of the Strip’s settlements, most of which were situated in Gush Katif, and their supporters in the West Bank and within Israel. One of the members of the group was a former head of the Gush Katif region council, Reuven Rosenblatt.

Livni: Cabinet members leveraging Gaza op for ’political gain’
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 1/11/2009
In joint press conference with German counterpart, FM says some cabinet members criticized her conduct in face of UN pressure ’for political gain’; Steinmeier: Germany knows offensive in Gaza was launched for a reason - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said at a press conference with her German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday that "I have no doubt that the Palestinians know that Israel will not accept attacks on its citizens". Livni added that "this is not some kind of dispute between two countries that is going to end with some kind of agreement. We launcheda military operation in order to achieve military goals". She continued to defend the Foreign Ministry’s achievements in the UN despite the passing of a Security Council resolution that calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and said the cabinet members who had criticized the Ministry’s. . .

Merrill Lynch: No growth in Israel’s economy in 2009
Sharon Baider, Globes Online 1/11/2009
"The global recession and credit crunch not only calls for a contraction in the impaired balance sheets of Anglo-Saxon households but also the same for corporates. " Merrill Lynch finds Israel’s economy facing one of its most challenging times since 2001-2002. The investment house does not expect the security situation to substantially impact Israel’s economy, saying that similar situations, as well as elections, have not previously had major influences on the local market. However, the global financial crisis and slowdown are expected to weigh on the economy. Merrill says that the US and Europe account for 73% of Israel’s exports, so the global crisis has a significant impact. However, Merrill finds that theBank of Israel has been one of the world’s "most proactive", which should limit some of the downside.

Fischer: Growth forecast will have to be lowered
Globes' correspondent, Globes Online 1/11/2009
The Governor of the Bank of Israel said Israel’s exit from the economic crisis depends on the global economy. Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer taught an economics class today to students in Israel’s hard-hit South. Fischer said it remains to be seen how Israel’s economy will fare through the fighting against Hamas in Gaza. Fischer said, We came out of the Second Lebanon War successfully the economy continued to grow at a nice pace after the war. It mainly depends on how long it will take, and we find the global economy in a different situation. After the Second Lebanon War, the global economy was in excellent shape today it’s a disaster. What is happening overseas influences us greatly. " When asked about how bad the Israeli economic crisis will get, and when it is expected to be over, Fischer answered, "Everyone. . .

Leviev sells Tel Aviv tower stake to British fund
Sharon Baider, Globes Online 1/11/2009
Africa-Israel Properties sold the holdings at a loss. Real estate developerAfrica-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE:AFIL ; Pink Sheets:AFIVY. PK ) subsidiaryAfrica-Israel Properties Ltd. (TASE:AFPR ) has signed a contract to sell half of its holdings in a Tel Aviv tower to a British fund for NIS 400-500 million. The company will sell 51% of its holdings in the Kirya Tower by selling an identical share of its stake its wholly-owned Machatzit Hayovel Ltd. , through which its owns the building. Machatzit Hayovel was jointly owned by Lev Leviev-controlled Africa-Israel and Minrav Holdings Ltd. (TASE: MNRV), and in May, 2007, Africa-Israel Properties bought 50% of the shares in Machatzit Hayovel from Minrav for NIS 517. 5 million. As such, the current sale represents a loss for Africa-Israel Properties.

Obama promises to move swiftly in adopting new approach to Tehran
Ed Pilkington in New York and Julian Borger, The Guardian 1/12/2009
The US president-elect, Barack Obama, said yesterday that he would act swiftly once in power to confront Iran, vowing to take a new approach focused on dialogue but warning Tehran that there were limits beyond which it should not go. Speaking on network television nine days before taking office, Obama said Iran was going to be one of the biggest challenges his incoming administration faced. He said Tehran’s "exporting of terrorism through Hamas and Hezbollah" and its pursuit of an atomic weapon could trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. One of the earliest decisions for Obama and his foreign policy team, led by Hillary Clinton, will be to decide whether to continue the covert operations programme started by the Bush administration last year. The mission is designed to block any attempt by Iran to build a nuclear weapon by breaking its supply chain of essential parts from

Bush tried to sabotage Iran’s nuclear plans
Anne Penketh, Diplomatic editor, The Independent 1/12/2009
President George Bush expanded covert action intended to sabotage Iran’s suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons last year after sanctions failed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, The New York Times has reported. The paper said the Bush administration briefed Israel on the covert programme after Washington turned down an Israeli request for a new generation of bunker-busting bombs required for a possible attack on Iran. President Bush also rejected a request for Israeli planes to cross Iraqi air space in case of Israeli strikes on Iran. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported last September that the Israeli requests had been spurned. "The Israelis backed off their plans, at least temporarily," the New York Times said. "But the tense exchanges prompted the White House to step up intelligence-sharing with Israel on new US efforts to subtly sabotage Iran’s nuclear infrastructure,. . .

Court frees alleged drug dealers, nixes U.S. extradition request
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
The Jerusalem District Court ordered two Israelis allegedly involved in smuggling 100,000 Ecstasy pills into the United States in 2003 to be released to house arrest yesterday, ruling that the evidence presented in an American extradition request "is not sufficiently strong. " "There is indeed a very incriminating evidentiary basis, but it has several weak links," ruled Judge Jacob Zaban. "Therefore, my conclusion is that the evidentiary basis against Meir Abergil and Israel Ozifa in the matter of the drug deal is not sufficiently strong. "Abergil and Ozifa were arrested five months ago in response to the extradition request. Ozifa, who is accused of being responsible for transferring the drugs from Belgium to the United States and for laundering money involved in the drug deal, will be released on bail of NIS 250,000.

Joe the Plumber trades his wrench for a reporter’s notepad in Sderot
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
Joe the Plumber has set aside his wrenches to become a rookie war correspondent, covering Israel’s side of its two-week-old military offensive in Gaza. The Ohio man, who rocketed to fame during the U. S. presidential campaign for challenging Barack Obama on his tax plan, was in Sderot Sunday to tell readers of the conservative pjtv. com Web site about the rockets that rain down there from the neighboring Gaza Strip. "The people of Sderot "can’t do normal things day to day," like get soap in their eyes in the shower, for fear a rocket might come in, said Joe the Plumber, so dubbed by Republican Sen. John McCain’s campaign, but whose real name is Samuel Wurzelbacher. "I’m sure they’re taking quick showers," he said. "I know I would. "Joe’s rookie reporter status was evident when, standing in front of a pile of spent. . .

’Waltz with Bashir’ wins Golden Globe for best foreign film
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
Ari Folman’s ’Waltz with Bashir’ won best foreign film at the 66th Golden Globes ceremony in Hollywood Sunday night, adding to the awards the animated film has picked up so far this year. Folman’s critically-acclaimed film traces the author’s journey to put together his memories from his time as an Israeli soldier during the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and later the massacres at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Beirut. The film uses a striking combination of frame-by-frame and computer generated animation to create a powerful and at times surreal portrayal of war and the way memory plays tricks on the mind. The film’s narrative unravels as Folman travels to Europe and across Israel interviewing fellow soldiers who he fought with in Lebanon, all of whom play themselves and voice their own characters.

International law 'expert': Army actions must be proportional to provocation
Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
The fact that hundreds of Palestinians have been killed during the operation in Gaza, compared to fewer than 20 Israelis, has nothing to do with the question of whether the operation is legal according to international law, says Prof. Yuval Shany, an expert in international law from Hebrew University’s law faculty. The relevant question, he said, is "whether the operation is proportionate to the provocation that led to it. When a single Qassam [rocket] is fired, the state cannot invade and conquer an entire country. There must be a measure of proportion between the action and the reaction. But here, we are not talking about a single Qassam, but about years of Qassams. "Israel, he continued, "is permitted to use force to the degree necessary to end the attacks against it. Therefore, it [the operation] is legal as long as it is meant to prevent the attacks. "


Gaza diary: Where is the humanity?
Mohammed Ali in Gaza City, Al Jazeera 1/11/2009
      As the death toll from Israel’s war on Gaza continues to climb, Mohammed Ali, an advocacy and media researcher for Oxfam who lives in Gaza City, will be keeping a diary of his feelings and experiences.
     ’Goodnight my love, see you in heaven’
     Today, I met with people outside the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. I could not believe the stories I was hearing.
     An old man told me he was going blind. His diabetic condition was deteriorating and he needed to be treated quickly so as not to lose his sight. He was turned away; he was not in a severe enough state compared to the people filling the hospital corridors and there were not enough doctors to see to him.
     Medical teams cannot cope; doctors are working 24 hour shifts, there are not enough beds, equipment or medicine to deal with this humanitarian crisis.
     I am hearing more and more stories of people trapped under rubble - ambulance teams unable to reach them, so they wait to die.
     While I was out, one man approached me and asked if I would help him to clear up dead bodies.
     Another asked if I worked for a humanitarian organisation but before I could answer he looked up at the sky and shouted: "Where is humanity?"

Dear Israeli Citizen: No Other Option?!

Sam Bahour - The West Bank, Palestine Chronicle 1/11/2009
      I watch in shock, like the rest of the world, at the appalling death and destruction being wrought on Gaza by Israel; and still it does not stop. Meanwhile, we see a seemingly never-ending army of well-prepared Israeli war propagandists, some Israeli government officials, and many other people self-enlisted for the purpose, explaining to the world the justifications for pulverizing the Gaza Strip, with its 1.5 million inhabitants. Curious about how Israel, or any society for that matter, could justify a crime of such magnitude against humanity, I turned to my Jewish Israeli friends today to hear their take on things. One after another, the theme was the same. The vast majority of Jewish Israelis has apparently bought into the state-sponsored line that Israel was under attack and had no other option available to stop Hamas’ rockets. More frightening is the revelation that many Israelis - including one person who self-identifies as a former “peace activist” - are speaking of accepting the killing of 100,000 or more Palestinians, if need be.
     I have a problem with this logic.
     I am a Palestinian American based in Al-Bireh, the sister city of Ramallah in the West Bank. I can see how an observer from abroad could be blind to the facts, given the blitz of Gaza war propaganda orchestrated by the Israeli military. But I know better. Like all other Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, I am not an observer from abroad. We live every day under the bitter burden of Israeli military occupation and we know that this question, presented as rhetorical - did we really have an option? - has a rational answer. Allow me, from my vantage point as an economic development professional, to touch on some of the other options that could have been chosen. Moreover, many of them will be forced on Israel anyway, sooner or later, whether after the next “war” or in the coming days under the ceasefire agreement and the Egyptian-sponsored implementation mechanism being discussed as I write this. Meaning: all this death and destruction could have been easily avoided.

All signs point to systematic targeting of civilians

Ewa Jasiewicz writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 1/11/2009
      Last night was a quiet one in Jabaliya. "Only" six homes bombed into the ground, the market, again, maybe four lightly injured people -- shrapnel to the face injuries -- and no martyrs. Beit Hanoun saw a young woman, Nariman Ahmad Abu Owder, just 17, shot dead as she made tea in her family’s kitchen. It was 9pm in the Hay Amel area when witnesses reported "thousands" of bullets shot by tanks onto homes in Azrah Street.
     We got a call to go to Tel al-Zaater looking for the dead and injured, around 2am. "This area is dangerous, very very dangerous," warned one volunteer rescuer, Muhammad al-Sharif, as our ambulance bumped along sandy, lumpy ground, illuminating piles of burning rubbish, stray cats, political graffiti, and the ubiquitous strung-out colored sack cloth and stripey material in large thin squares, tenting the pavements. What is it? Protection, I am told, so that the surveillance planes won’t see the fighters. Palestinian body armor.
     Muhammad, and Ahmad Abu Foul, a Civil Defense medical services coordinator, told me they had been shot at by Israeli snipers yesterday. Muhammad had recounted the story, still counting his blessings, earlier on at the ambulance station. They’d gone hurtling over graves and tombstones to fetch casualties when Israeli snipers opened fire. They’d laid down flat on the ground until the firing stopped. Ahmad, 24, another rescuer here, told me he had been shot in the chest -- in his bullet-proof vest -- close to the Atarturah area while trying to evacuate corpses three days ago. His brother, he had told me, had been injured 14 times working as a paramedic. "Fourteen times. Then he got hit by an Apache. Then it was serious. That took him out of work for a few months," he explained.

Will Hizballah intervene in the Gaza conflict?

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Electronic Intifada 1/11/2009
      While Israel fervently attempts to terrorize the Palestinians into submission in Gaza, many observers have started to wonder why Hizballah has refrained from stepping in militarily to assist its brothers-in-arms, Hamas. Such musings fail to take account of the constraints on Hizballah’s room for action, as well as the circumstances under which Hizballah would ignore such constraints. The question that should be posed is not so much if Hizballah will act, but when.
     As things currently stand, Hizballah is not in a position to directly help Hamas militarily by opening a new front with Israel. In the first place, Hizballah and its supporters have only recently recovered from the devastating impact of Israel’s war against them in July 2006. A Hizballah offensive against northern Israel would surely be met with "disproportionate" force on Israel’s part, which Israel has been threatening as much for several months now. Mass destruction and devastation aside, Hizballah would once again be faced with intense domestic pressures to disarm, and possibly, more externally manufactured, locally-executed conspiracies hatched against it that could drag it into the kind of civil warfare that the movement found itself in during May 2008.

Gaza is sinking in a river of blood

Mohammed Fares Al Majdalawi writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 1/11/2009
      I want to write about the suffering of my people and my family in these days of siege against the people of Gaza. At least 888 people have been killed and more than 3,700 injured. The International Committee of the Red Cross has accused the Israeli military of repeatedly refusing to allow ambulances to go to the al-Zeitoun area of Gaza City. As a result, those who are injured become those who die, a premeditated and willful violation of human rights.
     In my house we can’t get basic needs. No food. No bread. No fuel. No future. Yesterday, my father went to the bakery at 5am. He waited 5 hours to get one loaf of bread, which is not enough for my family because there are 11 of us. So today it was my turn. I went to all the bakeries -- all were closed.
     There is no safe place we can go. We cannot communicate with our relatives and friends -- networks are down as missiles rain on our homes, mosques and even hospitals.
     Our life is centered around the burials of those who have died, our martyrs. At night our camp, Jabaliya refugee camp, is a ghost town, with no sounds other than those of Israeli military aircraft.

Phoning my in-laws in Gaza

Xen Hasan writing from Manchester, UK, Electronic Intifada 1/11/2009
      We haven’t been able to get hold of my sister-in-law for a couple of days. It’s nerve wracking. Soul destroying. I find myself doing horrifying mental arithmetic. I don’t know why, I can’t seem to help it. The UN stated on Thursday that 758 people had been killed. That’s one person for each 2,000 in Gaza. What are the odds that one of them might be Nareman, or one of her family?
     I shouldn’t think like that. Nareman always amazes and humbles me with her resilience. Last time we spoke the first thing she said was "how’s the pregnancy going?" She’s living in the midst of bombs and artillery fire, and she’s concerned about my pregnancy! Her teenage daughter told me about the classes she is missing for tawjihi -- the general secondary school examination -- and how she needs those classes to get good grades to go to university. I wonder how many A-Level students here in the UK would be concerned about missing school if they were in her shoes.

Witnessing a war waged against your people

Mohammed Abu Asaker writing from Sudan, Electronic Intifada 1/11/2009
      Sixteen days since it began, the war on Gaza rages on. It’s a war that does not exempt from its targets a child, a woman, or old man, or a school, a mosque or a house.
     I am still following the news minute by minute to check on my family in Gaza; it is so hard to see a real war waged against your people, and you far away and can’t do anything to help them.
     Western media present it as a war against Hamas, yet what is happening on the ground is a war against civilian people. So far, more than 800 persons have been killed and at least 3,500 injured. Thirty-five percent are children and women. Mosques, United Nations-administered schools and houses are attacked, which means that no place is safe in Gaza.
     All of my family are staying in one room. Expecting that a missile could attack them any moment, they prefer to die all together. My little brothers and sisters are very scared and don’t sleep well and the bombing goes on day and night.

Things one sees from The Hague

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
      When the cannons eventually fall silent, the time for questions and investigations will be upon us. The mushroom clouds of smoke and dust will dissipate in the pitch-black sky; the fervor, desensitization and en masse jump on the bandwagon will be forever forgotten and perhaps we will view a clear picture of Gaza in all its grimness. Then we will see the scope of the killing and destruction, the crammed cemeteries and overflowing hospitals, the thousands of wounded and physically disabled, the destroyed houses that remain after this war.
     The questions that will beg to be asked, as cautiously as possible, are who is guilty and who is responsible. The world’s exaggerated willingness to forgive Israel is liable to crack this time. The pilots and gunners, the tank crewmen and infantry soldiers, the generals and thousands who embarked on this war with their fair share of zeal will learn the extent of the evil and indiscriminate nature of their military strikes. They perhaps will not pay any price. They went to battle, but others sent them.

Gazans doing their best to avoid becoming death statistics

Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 1/12/2009
      At 8:45 A.M. Sunday, Mustafa called to say they had left their house. At 8:10 they had called a courageous friend who had a car, and they drove with the kids two kilometers north, to the rented apartment of his brother-in-law in the Gaza City neighborhood of Rimal. The brother-in-law rented it a week ago, after he fled with his family from their home in the northern edge of the city, the site of bombing and shooting. Now there are 15 people in a two-room apartment - with no water, of course. The main thing is that the explosions sound a little less loud.
     After 15 days they could not take the pressure of tanks entering the Sheikh Ajleen neighborhood, the incessant shooting all night long and the shelling from the sea. The leaflets dumped from helicopters, calling on people to leave their homes - they, too, have been unnerving. But most frightening were the missiles that hit the nearby apartments and killed the neighbors, including Yasser Arafat’s official photographer and his family.

The Gaza onslaught will impact on the Arab world

Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star 1/9/2009
      The immediate consequences of the Israeli assault on Gaza are being felt primarily by the Palestinians in Gaza, but its political shockwaves will be felt throughout the Arab world, in forms that cannot be easily predicted today. The Israeli attempt to inflict patrie-cide - the murder of a people and state - on Gaza emphasizes a series of transformational trends that have been clear throughout the Arab region for the past quarter-century.
     The most important trend is the reconfiguration of power, legitimacy and activism in the modern Arab state. As governments in Arab states effectively ignore what is happening in Gaza - to judge by their political immobility - we will continue to witness the thinning impact, control and even legitimacy of many of those regimes. We will also continue to see the rise of non-state actors who become so strong and credible that they should be called parallel states.

Gaza conflict will shake the Arab world

Ismail Patel, The Guardian 1/11/2009
      The human cost of Israel’s decision to attack Gaza is being paid by the Palestinians. However, the fallout from this wanton violence is going to have long-term political consequences throughout the Arab world. The Israeli attack on Gaza is likely to bring to the fore political trends that up to now have remained just below the parapet of influence. The situation has brought the Arab world to an historic crossroads, where leaders will either move towards Arab independence from western policies, which is likely to be driven by popular grassroots support, or continue to toe the line of Israel/US influence. Much of this will be determined by the duration of Israeli attacks and the survival or demise of Hamas.
     The first and obvious fact in the current war is that since the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, this is the first war that Israel has launched that Palestinians have defended themselves without any neighbouring Arab country militarily intervening. The Palestinians have taken up arms independently, whether home-made or imported, to defend their land and people against this full-scale Israeli military attack from the air, sea and ground. This could be argued to be the first Palestinian-Israeli war.

Solve the Gaza problem at its roots

Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star 1/10/2009
      We are now witnessing the interplay between warfare and diplomacy in Gaza, which is a better situation to be in than witnessing only warfare. Yet one of the telling things about the complexity of the current fighting is that one does not quite know what to call it. Is it the Israel-Hamas war? The Israel-Gaza war? The Israel-Palestine war?
     This matters, because knowing the exact nature of the protagonists doing the fighting and the underlying issues involved improves our chances of coming to grips with the full nature of the conflict - an essential first step toward resolving it permanently. Military action by both sides will never resolve the core of the conflict, but diplomacy could if it tackled the most important issues for each side. The United Nations resolution approved Thursday does not seem to cover all the important issues.

The Tribe that Lost Its Head

Jeremy Salt – Ankara, Palestine Chronicle 1/9/2009
      ’Most of the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza came from somewhere else.’
     The Nakba -- the catastrophe -- is the Arabic word used to describe the Zionist expulsion of the Palestinians from their homeland in 1948/49, the destruction of some 500 of their villages, the plunder of their remaining property, the theft of their land and the seizure of their cities.
     Most of the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza came from somewhere else. Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod, the targets of Hamas’ backyard rockets, were all built over the ruins of Arab villages. The city of Beersheba was almost wholly Arab until purged of its Arab population by Zionist forces and the story is the same the length and breadth of Palestine. Those asking why Hamas is firing its Qassam rockets into Israel cannot answer their own question without grasping the enormity of the crime committed against the Palestinians six decades ago.
     Yet the Nakba did not end six decades ago. 1948 was only the beginning. The atrocities now being committed in Gaza are no more than an extension of what has been happening without cease for these past sixty years, even if there is something especially brazen about the way Israel is currently obliterating entire families in full view of the world. The scenes of massacre and destruction shock, anger and traumatize the Palestinians but they will not surprise them because they have seen or experienced all of this before. In the 1950s and the 1960s the refugee camps of Gaza, then under Egyptian control, and the villages of the West Bank, then in Jordanian hands, took the brunt of unrestrained Israeli violence. In the 1970s and 1980s it was Lebanon’s turn for small massacres and large ones: civilians killed in their ’terrorist’ camps or blitzed in their cities; 1500 or so dead in the ’incursion’ of 1978;between 18,000 and 20,000 in the invasion of 1982; more than 100 killed when Israel bombarded the UN compound at Qana in 1996, during another election campaign; and then the 1200 or more civilians killed, mainly in Beirut and the villages of the south, in 2006. One third of them were children, many of them were infants; of the 800 people killed in Gaza so far, the great majority of them civilians, about 200 are children.

’Soon we’ll have nowhere left to run. Nowhere in Gaza is safe’

Fares Akram in Gaza city, The Independent 1/12/2009
      We’ve left our home. Like 60,000 other Gazans, we’ve taken our belongings and fled. Once again, we’ve become displaced people. Soon, there will be nowhere to run to, since nowhere in Gaza is safe. In the early hours of Saturday, the bombing got louder and closer to our home, and the rattle of machine-gun fire became more intense. The tanks were not far off.
     As I lay in the dark, I heard the sound of small-arms fire and voices in the street outside. Since the Israeli offensive began, our city streets have been deserted during the hours of darkness; even the dogs that usually annoy us with their all-night barking have vanished. The voices were Palestinian militants: "Stay close to the wall!" "Go by the wall!", I could hear them shouting to each other. I didn’t dare go to the window, fearing snipers, but tried listening to the radio. The FM stations run by Palestinian factions had no information, just talk about the "heroic actions" of their militants.
     My thoughts went to my wife, Alaa, so, at dawn, I phoned her. Alaa is nine months pregnant and we evacuated her last week to her parents’ place in the western part of the city. As I expected, she was in a state of panic.

Take to the Streets! Show solidarity with the Palestinian People, and some analysis

Yousef Abudayyeh, Palestine Think Tank 1/10/2009
      All Out this Saturday in Defense of the Palestinian People!
     The Massacre Intensifies: As we prepare this thirteenth FPA statement, the Zionist army was continuing what it does best - the wholesale slaughter of children and unarmed civilians.   As would be expected of the current state of affairs of the US-controlled international scene, the massacre of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is continuing despite yesterday's feeble UN Security Council resolution that calls for Israel to immediately stop its attack.  Actually, the US-Zionist leadership went the other way - more and more attacks.  The Israeli Zionist army was given additional orders to escalate the conquest as it enters into a third phase of obliteration.  Simultaneously as the Israeli cabinet was giving orders for a higher kill and destruction ratio, the US Senate was not going to be outdone by Zionists. It had to add to its long and shameful record.  So it secretly issued a fast-tracked resolution fully supporting the ongoing massacre and giving Israel the needed cover.  We ask, is this Senate resolution in the best interest of the people of the US.