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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
15 January, 2008

Israeli forces bomb three hospitals and UN headquarters in Gaza City on Thursday
Justin Theriault, International Middle East Media Center News 1/15/2009
As Israeli forces pushed their way deeper into Gaza on Thursday, they shelled and bombed everything in their path, including three hospitals and the UN Headquarters. Hospital officials in the al-Quds hospital in Gaza City’s Tal al-Hawa districts alleged that a fire was sparked by "phosphorous shells". The fires that are a result of the use of phosphorous shells cannot be put out with water and so they are a challenge to put out for hospital workers. One hospital official was quoted as saying, "we have been able to control the fire in the hospital, but not in the administrative building. " Over 500 Palestinians were hiding in the al-Quds hospital, hoping that they would be safe from Israeli tanks and warplanes. They were wrong. Just east of Gaza City, Israeli tanks hit two other hospitals as the Israeli Army and Air Force coordinated a devastating attack on Gaza City and throughout surrounding suburbs.

Israel, US foil UN condemnation
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 1/15/2009
Diplomats work together to prevent Security Council statement slamming Jewish state for UNRWA building strike - WASHINGTON - Israel and the US succeeded in preventing a United Nations announcement condemning the Jewish state for its strike on a UN compound in Gaza Thursday. The condemnation was proposed by Britain among other countries. The announcement was scheduled to be released to the press by current Security Council President, French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert. Instead, Ripert made a public speech calling on both sides to cease their fire, according to UN Resolution 1860. EU ambassadors initiated the council meeting following the IDF strike on an UNRWA compound in Gaza earlier Thursday. The meeting was intended to end with the issue of an announcement declaring Israel responsible for the situation in Gaza.

800,000 Gazans reportedly without water
Ma’an News Agency 1/14/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Up to 800,000 people, more than half the population of the Gaza Strip now have no running water, a Palestinian water official told Ma’an on Wednesday. The official, Munther Shablaq, said that some of these people have had no running water for two weeks. The worst-affected area is Gaza City, which depends on water supplies from the north and the east of Gaza, where Israeli troops are most heavily-deployed. Shablaq said that the water utility in Gaza normally pumps 220,000 cubic meters per day of water, and is now only producing 100,000 cubic meters per day. [end]

Hospital under fire - Israeli snipers fire on fleeing Gazans
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli snipers opened fire on families running to take shelter in a Red Crescent hospital in the Tel Al-Hawa area of Gaza on Thursday afternoon, witnesses said. Sharon Locke, an Australian volunteer at Al-Quds Hospital said that when one family approached the hospital, Israeli snipers started firing at the family. "They shot a young girl in the face and abdomen. She is now being operated on. The father of the family was shot in the leg and fell to the ground," Locke said. “The mother was screaming that one of her daughters was still outside, behind a bush, too scared to move. Mohammed, a medic I have been working with, ran outside and carried her to the hospital," Locke said. Locke later told Ma’an that some 600 Palestinians who had taken shelter in the medical facility have now been evacuated on foot to a nearby UNRWA school.

Israeli jets kill Hamas leader
Al Jazeera 1/15/2009
One of Hamas’s senior leaders has been killed in an Israeli air raid in Gaza, al-Quds television has reported. Said Siam, who was the interior minister in Hamas’s government, was killed along with one of his sons and a brother in an air raid in Jabalya refugee camp on Thursday. "Leader Said Siam, his son [Mohammed] and his brother fell as martyrs in Gaza," al-Quds, a Hamas TV station based in Beirut, reported. Hamas officials confirmed the three died in an Israeli air attack on a house rented by Siam’s brother. "The blood of Siam will be a curse on the Zionist entity," Mohammed Nazzal, a Hamas official, told Al Jazeera. Top leaderSiam is considered to be among Hamas’s top five leaders in Gaza. As interior minister in Hamas’s government in Gaza, he had been in charge of 13,000 Hamas police and security men, many of whom are actively involved in fighting Israel.

Ban ’optimistic’ of Gaza truce deal
Al Jazeera 1/16/2009
The United Nations secretary-general has said he is "reasonably optimistic" that the Israelis will accept a ceasefire deal with Hamas. But Ban Ki-moon, speaking after meeting Israeli leaders in Tel Aviv, admitted "it may take a few more days to agree to a few more technical issues" and urged both sides of the conflict to "stop fighting now". Hamas, the Palestinian faction that controls the Gaza Strip, has told Egyptian negotiators it would agree to a truce in the Gaza Strip if Israel met certain conditions. Khaled Meshaal, the exiled political leader of Hamas, his group’s demands include a year-long, renewable ceasefire, the withdrawal of all Israel forces within five-to-seven days, and the immediate opening of all Gaza border crossings, backed by international guarantees they would stay open.

Israel ’breaking law’ with Gaza war
Al Jazeera 1/16/2009
The president of the United Nations General Assembly has accused Israel of violating international law with its war on Gaza in which almost 1,100 Palestinians have been killed, nearly half of them civilians. "Gaza is ablaze. It has been turned into a burning hell," Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann told an emergency session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday. He said Israel’s offensive was "a war against a helpless, defenceless and imprisoned people" and accused Israel of carrying out attacks on civilian targets. "The violations of international law inherent in the Gaza assault have been well documented: collective punishment, disproportionate military force [and] attacks on civilian targets, including homes, mosques, universities, schools," he said. He also rebuked UN member-states for their lack of action over the crisis, saying: "The [UN Security Council] may have found

Israel May Face UN Court Ruling on Legality of Gaza Conflict
Afua Hirsch, MIFTAH 1/15/2009
Israel faces the prospect of intervention by international courts amid growing calls that its actions in Gaza are a violation of world humanitarian and criminal law. The UN general assembly, which is meeting this week to discuss the issue, will consider requesting an advisory opinion from the international court of justice, the Guardian has learned. " There is a well-grounded view that both the initial attacks on Gaza and the tactics being used by Israel are serious violations of the UN charter, the Geneva conventions, international law and international humanitarian law," said Richard Falk, the UN’s special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories and professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. " There is a consensus among independent legal experts that Israel is an occupying power and is therefore bound by the duties set out in the fourth Geneva convention," Falk added.

Suit filed in the Hague for crimes against humanity
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/14/2009
Brussels - Lawyers and jurists from several countries filed on Wednesday a lawsuit before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. This is the first in an expected string of suits against the Israeli government and senior political and military officials for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide stemming from the current military operation against the Gaza Strip. As part of a series of claims against the Israelis, the "Palestinian Forum" in the Netherlands and the Brussels-based "European Campaign to Lift the Siege on Gaza" are involved in the cooperative effort. In conjunction with the date of the lawsuit the "Palestinian Forum" called for a mass protest and sit-in in front of the International Criminal Court, affirming the need for leaders to condemn the Israeli occupation for crimes against humanity in Gaza.

US suspends munitions delivery to Israel
David Pallister, The Guardian 1/15/2009
The Pentagon has suspended the delivery of a shipload of munitions to Israel after international concern that it could be used by Israeli forces in Gaza. The German-owned cargo vessel, Wehr Elbe, under charter by the US Military Sea­lift Command, is currently in Greek waters with its transponder tracking turned off to prevent its location being identified. Amnesty International has written to the foreign secretary, David Miliband, asking him to make "urgent approaches to the US, German and Greek governments to prevent this, or any pending or future shipments of weaponry until it can be verified that they will not be transferred to the Israeli Defence Forces or other parties to the conflict in Gaza. "We urge you to ensure that no EU member state will allow their ports or other facilities to be used to transit these or any other weapons to any of the parties to this conflict. "

Greece hinders US arms delivery to Israel
The US has to re-route arms shipment to Israel as Athens declined to allow a Greek port be used as a transit point, fearing nationwide protests. The transit was called off by the Greek government on Tuesday, after the issue provoked a media outcry in Greece, where Israel’s 19-day-old offensive in Gaza is deeply unpopular. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, however, painted a different picture, saying that the route had been changed to avoid Greece, "because the Greek government had some issue with the off-loading of some of that shipment in their country." Morrell declined to say what type of arms were included in the shipment. This is while the US military claimed that the shipment of 325 containers of ammunition from the Greek port of Astakos to a US stockpile in Israel was canceled in light of the proximity of the Israeli port of Ashdod - the shipment’s destination - to the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Shipment of arms from US en route to Israeli forces
Palestine News Network 1/15/2009
Amnesty International, 14 Jan 09 - Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: Gaza conflict - full arms embargo vital as US munitions reported on way to Israel - A full arms embargo on all parties involved in the Gaza conflict is urgently needed to prevent further unlawful attacks and other violations of international law, as the civilian death toll continues to mount in Gaza. At least 900 Palestinians have so far been killed, more than a third of them civilians, including some 200 Palestinian children -- as more US munitions are en route to the region. "The last thing that is needed now is more weapons and munitions in the region, which is awash with arms that are being used in a manner which contravenes international law and is having a devastating effect on the civilian population in Gaza," said Malcolm Smart, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

Obama’s envoy to UN says Israel ’treated unfairly’
Associated Press Published, YNetNews 1/15/2009
Susan Rice tells US Senate committee United Nations often used to ’willfully, unfairly condemn Israel’ -President-elect Barack Obama’s choice as US envoy to the United Nations told lawmakers Thursday that the UN is often used to "willfully and unfairly condemn Israel. " Susan Rice added that she will work to strengthen "an indispensable if imperfect" institution so that it can better meet international challenges. She said at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she realizes that many Americans are deeply frustrated by the organization. But, she said, terrorism, nuclear weapons, genocide, poverty, climate change and disease are "global challenges that no single nation can defeat alone; they require common action, based on a common purpose. " Rice, who served in the Clinton administration as assistant secretary. . .

Cease-fire agreement in final stages before cabinet vote
Barak Ravid Avi Issacharoff and Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
The diplomatic-security cabinet is likely to meet today to vote on an Egyptian cease-fire proposal. Amos Gilad, who heads the Defense Ministry’s diplomatic-security department, was in Cairo yesterday to discuss the proposal. He returned to Israel last night and headed straight to Jerusalem to report to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The three were still discussing the proposal as of press time last night and were apparently divided on how to respond. A government source said Gilad had returned with a very reassuring report about Egypt’s willingness to crack down on arms smuggling to Gaza - one of Israel’s key demands - and about Hamas’ willingness to accept the Egyptian proposal. However, he added, Israel still has some reservations. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday that he believed a cease-fire could be signed in a few days, but this depends on Israel’s leadership.

Israeli bombardments set Gaza ablaze
Mai Yaghi - GAZA CITY, Middle East Online 1/15/2009
Israeli strikes set UN and media buildings and a hospital ablaze Thursday as tanks rolled deep into Gaza City while diplomats struggled to halt the war that has killed nearly 1,100 people. Hundreds of terrified civilians, many gripping wailing children, fled the advancing Israeli troops inside Gaza’s main city as warplanes pounded the impoverished Hamas-ruled enclave in a bid to stem Palestinian rocket fire. While battles raged on the ground, Egypt kept up Western-backed efforts to end the war in which an estimated 600 Palestinian civilians have been killed. Shortly after UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Israel, a raid hit the main UN compound in Gaza, wounding three employees, setting fire to a warehouse filled with tonnes of aid, and leading the UNRWA agency to partly suspend operations. An UNRWA spokesman said tens of millions of dollars worth of humanitarian aid had been destroyed in the blaze.

Report: Israel, Hamas agree on 2-week truce
Ali Waked, YNetNews 1/15/2009
Palestinian sources tell Ynet fighting in Gaza to cease within 72 hours for period of two weeks, during which sides will discuss supervision of crossings, IDF withdrawal from Strip and removal of blockade - Palestinian sources told Ynet on Thursday evening that Israel and Hamas have agreed on all the general outlines of the Egyptian ceasefire initiative to end the fighting in Gaza. According to the report, the sides have agreed on the truce, on the supervision of the smuggling issue, on the crossings and on lifting of the blockade imposed on the Strip. According to the sources, the two sides are expected to agree on a ceasefire which will likely begin within 72 hours and last up to two weeks. During this period of time, the parties will discuss the Israel Defense Forces’ withdrawal from Gaza and the withdrawal’s timing.

Livni to get US aid against smuggling
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/16/2009
Foreign minister to travel to Washington to secure international outlined agreement preventing Hamas from rearming itself - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is scheduled to leave for Washington Thursday night in order to sum up an outlined agreement with the United States intended to prevent the smuggling of arms into the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert approved the trip. The Foreign Ministry was assigned to the task of working with international powers to secure the outlined agreement, which Israel hopes will prevent the arming of Hamas. The purpose of the agreement is to prevent the smuggling of arms from Egypt through the Philadelphi route. Foreign Ministry Director-General Aharon Abramowitz is already in Washington, where he has promoted efforts to reduce smuggling by land and sea.

Israeli ground forces advance on Gaza City as UN compound, hospitals, media building attacked
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
UN claims phosphorus attack - Gaza – Israeli ground forces backed by tanks invaded Gaza City from the south on Thursday morning while warplanes bombed the city center, causing thousands to flee their homes. In the southern Gaza City neighborhood of Tel Al-Hawa, gunfire and fierce clashes with Palestinian fighters have been reported. Witnesses said the tanks have reached Awan Street, the farthest Israeli forces have entered since the beginning of the invasion. In the southern Rimal neighborhood, just to the north of Tel Al-Hawa, witnesses reported seeing dozens of families in their bedclothes in the streets, fleeing the Israeli onslaught on foot. In Tel Al-Hawa, Al-Quds Hospital went up in flames after it came under Israeli shelling. Workers at the Palestine Red Crescent facility said they fear the fire could cause an explosion due to the fuel stored in the hospital’s warehouse.

VIDEO - Gaza conflict: day 20
The Guardian 1/15/2009
UN refugee agency headquarters hit by Israeli artillery fire [white phosphorus, according to UN official John Ging] damaging thousands of tonnes of food, medical supplies - and the Reuters building [end]

Human rights daily report from Gaza City
PCHR, Palestine News Network 1/15/2009
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza City issued its daily report for 12-13 January 2009, day 18 and 19 of the Israeli operation. IOF Continue Attacks Across the Gaza Strip for the 18th Consecutive Day: 51 Palestinians Killed, Including 17 Unarmed Civilians - Victims include 3 Children, 5 Women and One Physician - Current Death Toll is 936 People, Including 635 Unarmed Civilians and 165 Members of the Civilian Police Force, Who Are Also Classified as Civilians - IOF Conducts Large Scale Destruction of Houses, Farms and other Civilian Objects, Forcing Civilians To Flee - IOF Continue to Use Incinerating Bombs Against Gaza Population. --- In violation of international human rights and humanitarian law, and amid international silence, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) are continuing their indiscriminate attacks in the Gaza Strip.

UN headquarters ’struck by Israeli shells’
AP and Reuters, The Independent 1/15/2009
The UN refugee agency says its Gaza headquarters has been struck by Israeli artillery fire and the building is now ablaze. Spokesman Chris Gunness says the building was hit by what was believed to be three white phosphorous shells. The weapons burn at extremely high temperatures and can set things on fire. However, witnesses said a nearby building was struck, and the UN building remained intact. It was hard to verify the accounts because the entire area was covered in black smoke. Gunness says the building had been used as a shelter for hundreds of people fleeing Israel’s 20-day offensive in Gaza. It’s not clear how many people were there at the time. He says three people were injured. The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the incident. Meanwhile, an explosion blasted a tower block in the city of Gaza today that houses the offices of Reuters and. . .

Israel bombs UN agency headquarters in Gaza City
Interview, Electronic Intifada 1/15/2009
The Electronic Intifada interviewed Sami Mushasha, spokesperson for the UN agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) following Israel’s bombing of its quarters today. The Electronic Intifada: Can you describe the extent of the damage suffered by UNRWA in the bombing of the headquarters today and exactly where the site is that was bombed? Sami Mushasha: The UNRWA headquarters are in the al-Rimal district in the center of Gaza City. The location is well known to the Israeli authorities as is the fact that they enjoy UN immunity. The damage is great. Although we do not know the exact extent yet, we have lost many trucks, cars and food aid supplies. We are trying to put out the fires and hopefully, God willing, we will be able to restore things as soon as possible. Early reports say that three people were injured but we do not know if they were refugees [taking shelter there] or UNRWA personnel. EI: Today’s bombing of the UNRWA office was the third time a UN institution was hit in two weeks.

UN building hit with white phosphorus, officials say
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli jets fired a controversial chemical weapon on a United Nations facility in Gaza City on Thursday, UN officials are now claiming. The building was struck by as many as three shells containing white phosphorus, an incendiary compound banned by the Geneva Convention for use against civilians, according to the UN. Three Palestinians were injured at the compound, which was marked with UN flags before Israeli forces opened fire. The UN had provided its GPS coordinates to Israeli military personnel, as well. About 700 displaced Palestinians were inside the building when it was targeted by Israel’s air force. Since late December, Israeli officials have repeatedly denied that their military uses the chemical weapon, but UN and Red Cross officials in Gaza say they are all but certain the substance was used on the UN compound building.

Israel denies using white phosphorus in Gaza
Iyad El Baba/UNICEF-oPt, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1/16/2009
TEL AVIV, 15 January 2009 (IRIN) - A huge fire was raging in the compound of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNWRA) after it was hit by Israeli tank shells on 15 January. UNWRA spokesperson Chris Gunness told reporters they cannot put out the fire because it is white phosphorus. There were some 700 people in the compound in immediate danger, he said. Gunness said three of the five shells to hit the complex were white phosphorus bombs. On 13 January Brig-Gen Avi Benayahu, chief spokesman for the Israel Defense Force (IDF), said that in its assault on Gaza Israel was using weapons in accordance with international treaties and conventions. He denied Israel was using white phosphorus. ’’I repeat Commander in Chief Ashkenazi’s words: The allegations of the IDF using WP [white phosphorus] are false.

Rice cautions Israel over IDF shelling of UN warehouse
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday she had told Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Ministers Tzipi Livni, that more care must be taken to avoid incidents such as the bombing of a U. N. warehouse in Gaza. "We had a discussion of the difficulties that this (the bombing of the warehouse) had caused and the need to try to avoid such incidents," said Rice when asked whether she had protested to Israel’s government after the warehouse bombing. The compound shelled on Thursday belongs to the U. N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, known as UNRWA. A separate attack hit a vocational training center there. Three people were injured in the two attacks. Rice said she had spoken on Thursday to both Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak as well as Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni after the attack on the UN warehouse.

Even graveyards were not spared Israeli bombing
Palestinian Information Center 1/15/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- An Israeli warplane Wednesday morning fired missiles at the Sheikh Radwan cemetery to the north of Gaza City causing massive destruction to Palestinian graves. A large number of the Palestinians buried in this graveyard had been killed by Israel either during its current aggression on the Gaza Strip or during previous aggressions. According to Palestinian eyewitnesses, remains of Palestinian bodies scattered around in the cemetery because of the severity of the bombing.  The Israeli occupation airforce has so far targeted schools, mosques, civil defense facilities, ambulance cars and graveyards. Israel stepped up this morning its white phosphorous attacks on the center of Gaza city which led to the suffocation of a large number of Palestinian citizens and started fire in a number of buildings and houses.

Today’s dead toll in Gaza
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 1/15/2009
For the 20th consecutive day, Gazans are besieged and attacked by air, land and sea. Since the beginning of the raids, and as of today:At least 1,066 people have reportedly been killed This includes more than 335 children and 100 womenMore than 4,850 have sustained heavy injuries This includes411 seriously wounded The majority of the casualties are civilians and 48% are children and women. At least 1/3 of the dead and injured in Gaza are children. At least 22 families were reportedly struck, killing fathers, mothers and children. [end]

Imprisoned women appeal for news of families in Gaza
Ali Samoudi, Palestine News Network 1/15/2009
Jenin -- Palestinian political prisoners from the Gaza Strip are suffering a severe dearth of information about their families. The Israeli prison administration has all but banned news, reports the Palestinian Prisoners Society. "The suffering is exacerbated when contacts with relatives are disallowed. " Earlier this week a PPS lawyer discovered that dozens of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip have gone to the Israeli prison administration during the past 20 days to ask for the slightest contact with family members, but every request has been denied. Family visits and contacts for political prisoners from Gaza have been difficult for at least four years during which time the transfer of funds to prison store accounts, the Cantina, have been banned. Fatma Azzak is a woman who is sentenced to 14 years in Israeli prison.

Limited access bedevils aid groups in Gaza
Pablo de Soto/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1/16/2009
KEREM SHALOM, 15 January 2009 (IRIN) - Despite Israel’s policy of allowing aid convoys into Gaza through both the Kerem Shalom and Karni crossings, reports suggest food and medical supplies are not getting to where they are most needed. Yael Segev Eytan of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Tel Aviv, told IRIN: "We manage to get medical supplies into Gaza but many times we cannot reach the hospitals. [Aid delivery] missions have to be aborted for security reasons and this results in medical aid and supplies not reaching the population in certain areas. It is not so much an issue of getting the supplies into Gaza as it is an issue of limited access. ’’Sami Mshasha, a spokesman of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNWRA) in Gaza, told IRIN there were great difficulties in reaching the needy population due in part to the fear for UNWRA drivers’ lives, given the heavy Israeli bombardment.

Aid agencies: Three-hour lull not enough
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
TEL AVIV/JERUSALEM, 15 January 2009 (IRIN) - On 7 January the Israeli military instituted a daily three-hour lull in fighting during which Gaza residents were supposed to be able to stock up on basic supplies, medics and rescue crews would be able to reach people in need, and patients get to hospitals. However, the lull was violated nearly every day - by Palestinian rocket fire into Israel and Israeli air strikes on suspected Palestinian rocket launchers - said aid workers. The Israeli military set up liaison units to coordinate with international and UN agencies in a bid to boost humanitarian aid distributions in Gaza. However, the amount of goods going in, and the time allotted to the humanitarian lull were simply not enough, aid workers said. Furthermore, getting vital medical workers into the enclave had been "challenging", according to a UN official involved in the efforts.

Israel’s navy stops medical aid boat en route to Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel’s Navy forced a ship carrying more than a ton of medical supplies to the Gaza Strip to turn back on the high seas early on Thursday morning. According to the human rights advocates who chartered the 22-meter Spirit of Humanity, Israeli gunboats surrounded the ship in international waters, about 100 miles from Gaza. Organizers at the Free Gaza organization said they sent an official notification to the Israeli government informing them of their intention to sail to Gaza in defiance of a naval blockade. Cypriot authorities inspected the boat before it left the port of Lanarca on Tuesday. According to passengers on the boat, the Israeli warships radioed the Spirit of Humanity and then surrounded the ship, threatening to shoot if it did not turn back. The ship is carrying 21 passengers, including doctors, journalists, and European members of. . .

Israeli forces threaten to use 'any means' to stop solidarity ship
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/14/2009
Cyprus -- The international nonviolent resistance is again making a move to bring aid to the Gaza Strip. After turning around three hours out from Cyprus on Monday, the Free Gaza Movement’s ship "Spirit of Humanity" has again set sail. Organizers of the solidarity mission that is bringing medical aid, doctors, journalists and parliamentarians to the Strip, say that the ship got underway at nine this morning. The generator trouble that was exacerbated by poor weather conditions causing the ship’s delay has been addressed. The "Spirit of Humanity" is carrying essential parts for ventilators which Free Gaza organizers say will allow the only burn center in the Strip, Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital, to double its capacity. The joint Palestinian, Arab and foreign effort is also attempting to bring other medical machines and basic supplies requested by Gaza Strip hospitals.

Al Shifa Hospital: amputations due to horrific burns
PCHR, Palestine News Network 1/15/2009
PCHR Condemns IOF Use of Unidentified Incinerating Bombs Against Civilians, Causing Horrific Burns - The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) utterly condemns the mass killing of civilians by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) during its ongoing military operation in the Gaza Strip. The current death toll stands at 983, including at least 673 civilians, of whom approximately 225 are children. In addition to the rising civilian death toll, the Centre is also gravely concerned about IOF use of unidentified incinerating bombs that are causing horrific burns to civilians across the Gaza Strip, and forcing doctors to perform amputations on some civilian victims. The Centre is demanding an immediate investigation into IOF use of these weapons by international health experts. Hospitals across the Gaza Strip have reported increasing numbers of civilians with serious burns being. . . -- See also: PCHR Report

Occupation forces shoot handcuffed Palestinian youth in the head
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 1/15/2009
Occupation forces assassinated a seventeen year-old Palestinian youth, Naser Mustafa Odeh Al-A’raj from the village of Azzun on January 13th. Originally, he was said to have been shot by a settler from Immanuel settlement, but now reports are emerging that it was the Occupation forces who deliberately killed him. Naser was with three other youth in the vicinity of Immanuel settlement, near where settlers reported stones being thrown at some vehicles. Occupation forces arrived at the scene and confronted the youth about their presence, accusing them of being the ones who threw the stones. According to Al Arabiya television network, they captured Naser, tied his hands behind his back, forced him to get on his knees, and shot him in the head, in an assassination-style murder. Occupation forces then prevented the Palestine Red Crescent ambulances from approaching. . .

The Israeli Army kidnaps five Palestinians during pre-dawn invasions in the West Bank
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/15/2009
The Israeli military have kidnapped five Palestinian civilians during pre dawn invasions on Thursday, targeting several West Bank areas. Four of those kidnapped were taken from the city of Hebron and nearby Beit Awwa village, located in the southern part of the West Bank. Palestinian sources in Hebron city reported that the Israeli Army have kidnapped 60 civilians from the city and nearby villages since the beginning of January 2009. Meanwhile, another Israeli force invaded the village of Burkeen, located near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and kidnapped one civilian after searching a number of homes, local sources reported. [end]

Israeli forces seize 24 Palestinians in West Bank raids
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized 24 Palestinians during overnight raids in the West Bank, the Israeli army reported. The detainees were taken to detention centers. They have not yet been identified. [end]

Demonsrations in Birzeit, Na’lin, Amman, the sea: it is not enough to condemn, you must act
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/15/2009
Ramallah - Demonstrations were held throughout the day with the women and girls of western Ramallah’s Na’lin Village, known for its weekly resistance, marching in condemnation of the Israeli attacks on Gaza. In Jordan’s capital of Amman, foreigners, Jordanians and Palestinians rallied this evening, as did Birzeit students this afternoon. The Free Gaza Movement ship, intending to deliver medical aid to the Gaza Strip, was forced to turn back by Israeli warships today. On board were humanitarian supplies, doctors, lawyers and parliamentarians. This afternoon in the West Bank’s Ramallah, a number of students rallied in the Democracy and Human Rights department at the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Birzeit University. Several hundred people traversed the Ramallah area campus while among them Palestinian and black flags caught the wind mourning the loss of more than one thousand people in less than three weeks.

Israel continues restrictions on Muslim travel to Jerusalem
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israeli police said Thursday they are reemploying restrictions on Muslims traveling to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for weekly Friday prayers. According to Israel Radio, men over 45 years old and holders of blue identity cards will be permitted to enter Al-Aqsa, while no restrictions will be placed on women this week. [end]

Women march in Ni’lin in solidarity with Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Hundreds of Palestinian women and schoolgirls marched against the Israeli invasion of Gaza in the West Bank town of Ni’lin on Thursday. The protesters carried Palestinian flags and denounced Israel’s killing of women and children in Gaza. The women and girls marched to the construction site of the Israeli separation wall. The demonstration was organized by the local Popular Committee against the Israeli separation wall. Ni’lin holds weekly demonstrations against the wall, which, if completed, will result in the isolation of much of the town’s land. [end]

Jenin students donate blood for injured Gazans
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Tubas – Ma’an – Students donated blood in the northern West Bank city of Tubas on Thursday, according to a clinic. The young Palestinians rushed to the clinic, many of them students at the Arab-American University in Jenin, the nearby As-Shifa clinic’s staff told Ma’an. “Fifty bags of blood were collected to be taken to Gaza, following coordination efforts to transport it,” the clinic said. Students in Jenin wanted to “demonstrate their united spirit” by helping support injured Gazans, one medic noted, adding that more blood donation campaigns are planned for injured Palestinians in Gaza. Last Thursday, the Qatari Red Crescent organized a blood drive in the central West Bank city of Al-Bireh, near Ramallah.

Child, woman badly injured by rocket
Ynet reporters, YNetNews 1/15/2009
Six people injured as Grad rocket explodes near vehicle in southern city of Beersheba; boy severely injured in head, woman sustains serious wounds, others lightly to moderately hurt. Nearly 30 rockets fired into Israel from Gaza since morning hours - Israel NewsSix people were injured Thursday afternoon as a Grad rocket landed in a residential area in the southern city of Beersheba. A child sustained serious wounds to his head, a woman was severely injured, one person was moderately wounded and the rest were lightly hurt. They were all evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. Four people, the family members of one of the people injured, were treated for shock at the hospital. Vehicles and houses sustained damage, and main roads were blocked.

IDF battalion commander, two troops lightly wounded in Gaza fighting
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 1/15/2009
An Israel Defense Force battalion commander and two other soldiers were lightly wounded in separate incidents during fighting in Gaza on day 20 of Israel’s campaign against Hamas in the coastal territory. Lt. Col. Yoav Mordechai was serving as the commander of the Golani infantry brigade’s 13th Battalion. He took over the position last week after his predecessor Oren Cohen was moderately wounded in a "friendly fire" incident during which three Israeli soldiers were killed. In another incident, two IDF soldiers from the Givati infantry brigade were lightly wounded near Gaza City. IDF troops backed by helicopter gunships and tanks on Thursday thrust further into Gaza City than ever before, seeking out Hamas gunmen and carrying out the army’s most relentless shelling in Gaza yet.

Boy, 7, seriously hurt as Gaza rockets slam into Be’er Sheva
Yanir Yagana and Yossi Melman , and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/15/2009
Two rockets fired by Gaza militants on Thursday hit Be’er Sheva, wounding five people, including a 7-year-old boy who was seriously hurt. One of the rockets struck a car. A spokesman for the Magen David Adom emergency services said two people were seriously hurt and two were moderately wounded in the attack. The Israel Air Force destroyed the launcher used in Gaza to fire the rockets into Be’er Sheva, and hit the squad that fired them, Channel 10 quoted the army as reporting. The IAF earlier Thursday shot down a Qassam rocket launchedinto Israel by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Shortly before 8 A. M. , an Israeli jet fired on a rocket launching squad and intercepted a rocket, causing it to explode. Eyewitnesses in the Kfar Aza area in the western Negev reported seeing the mid-air collision.

Grad rocket hits Beersheva
Globes' correspondent, Globes Online 1/15/2009
Last night, 11 IDF soldiers were wounded lightly in battles against Hamas in Gaza. Diplomatic attempts to reach a ceasefire intensified, with efforts centering on an Egyptian proposal. A Grad rocket landed in Beersheva on Thursday afternoon, causing injuries. Two people were seriously injured. A rocket landed directly on a car. About ten rockets werefired into Israeli cities from Gaza this morning. Most landed in open areas, and there are no reports of injuries. One Kassam rocket landed in the garden of a house in Sderot, causing damage. Last night, about 11 IDF soldiers were wounded lightly in battles against Hamas in Gaza. The IDF reported 35 Hamas fighters killed in the fighting. During the night, the Israeli Air Force hit about 70 targets in Gaza, including fourteen cells of armed gunmen, fourteen sites used to launch rockets and. . .

Gaza toll reaches 1,095; more than 5,000 injured
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – At least 1,095 Palestinians have been killed in 20 days of the Israeli onslaught in Gaza, a senior Palestinian health official told Ma’an on Thursday. According to Dr Mu’awiyah Hassanain, the director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Health Ministry in Gaza, 5,027 have been injured. [end]

Airstrike in Sheikh Radwan kills three, injures 25
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – An Israeli F16 fighter jet fired a missile at a house in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza on Thursday afternoon, killing three and injuring 25 others. Israeli warplanes and artillery have also shelled hospitals, mosques, and a UN compound on Thursday. [end]

Palestinian fighters claim to have tunneled into Israel, blowing up tank
Ma’an News Agency 1/14/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian guerillas claim that they tunneled under the Green Line into Israel on Wednesday and managed to blow up an Israeli tank. The An-Nasser Salah Ad-Din Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, and the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, said their fighters used a tunnel that had been dug from the Ash-Shuja’iya neighborhood of Gaza, near the Nahal Oz border crossing. Having reached the other side, the fighters blew up an Israeli tank, killing soldiers inside. The Israeli military has not commented on any of these claims. The statement also said that two Palestinian fighters had been killed in fighting with Israeli forces. They were identified as Hussein Ash-Sha’er and Mansour Madi from the city of Rafah.

Israelis shell hospitals and UN HQ
Al Jazeera 1/16/2009
Three hospitals and a UN compound have been bombed by Israel as troops continue to advance into the densely-populated Gaza City. Around 500 people were sheltering in the Al-Quds hospital in the city’s southwestern Tal Al-Hawa district when it was bombed by Israeli jets and set ablaze on Thursday morning. Hospital officials said the fire was sparked by a "phosphorus shell". "We have been able to control the fire in the hospital but not in the administrative building," one hospital official said. "We hope that the flames don’t spread again to the wings of the hospital. "Two hospitals east of Gaza City were also hit by Israeli shells as Gazans fled tanks advancing into the city. It was not immediately clear if any casualties following the raids.

Hamas interior minister reported dead in Gaza attack
Jo Adetunji, Peter Walker, Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem and agencies, The Guardian 1/15/2009
A senior Hamas leader was killed in Gaza today in an Israeli air strike on the Jabaliya refugee camp, Hamas officials said. Saeed Seyyam, the group’s interior minister, was killed in the attack on a house during one of the heaviest bombardments of Gaza in Israel’s military operation so far. Palestinian sources told Reuters the house had been rented by his brother, who was also reportedly killed in the attack along with Seyyam’s son. The attack flattened the house, leaving a large crater in the ground, Hamas officials said. Seyyam was appointed after the Palestinian elections in 2006 and was in charge of 13,000 Hamas police and security men. Speaking on al-Jazeera television, Mohammed Nazzal, a Hamas official, said there would be revenge for Seyyam’s death. "The blood of Saeed Seyyam will be a curse on the Zionist entity," he said. -- See also: VIDEO - Israel bombs UNRWA HQ in Gaza

20th day under attack: Tanks enter Gaza City
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/15/2009
Death toll reaches 1,070 as thousands of Palestinians flee the shelling - Thousands of Gazans left their homes and fled Gaza City on Thursday as Israeli military tanks stormed the city. Rami AL Meghari, IMEMC correspondant in Gaza, said that Israeli tanks have moved into the Gaza City center, near a United Nations relief compound. The tanks have been randomly shelling residential areas. Rami added that "as tanks proceeded into the city, thousands of families fearing for their lives left their homes, and fled to other parts of Gaza City. " As tanks continued their onslaught, the Israeli Air Force bombarded the town of Beit Hannon, located in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. As the offensive continues for the 20th day, Dr. Mo’awiah Hassanen, director of the Emergency and Ambulance department in the Ministry of Health in Gaza, told news agencies that the death toll in Gaza by Thursday. . .

Said Seyam martyred in an Israeli occupation airstrike
Palestinian Information Center 1/15/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Said Seyam, a prominent Hamas leader and Interior Minister of the elected government of Ismail Haneyya, was martyred Thursday evening along with his son, his brother and his brother’s wife in an Israeli airstrike at a house in the Yarmouk neighbourhood at the centre of Gaza city. Hamas sources said that Seyam was martyred when Israeli occupation airforce bombed the house of Sheikh Eyad Seyam, the brother of Said Seyam during a visit by the latter to his brother’s house. The bodyguard of Said Seyam was also martyred in the attack along with his brother and his brother’s wife. Four other citizens from a neighbouring house were killed in the airstrike, three of them children. Eyewitnesses said that Israeli occupation airplanes fired two rockets at the house of Said Seyams brother. Hamas mourned Said Seyam saying that leaders of the movement were always at the. . .

Airstrike kills senior Hamas minister
Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters, The Independent 1/15/2009
Israel killed a senior Hamas leader in an air strike today after unleashing its heaviest shelling of Gaza neighbourhoods in what might be a final push against the Islamist group before a ceasefire. In a step that could bring a deal closer, Washington promised security guarantees addressing Israeli demands in Egyptian-brokered truce negotiations. Saeed Seyyam, who as interior minister in Hamas’s government oversaw 13,000 Hamas police and security men, was killed in an air strike in Jabalya refugee camp, Hamas said. Palestinian sources said he had been in a house rented by his brother, who also killed along with Seyyam’s son. "The blood of Seyyam will be a curse on the Zionist entity," Hamas official Mohammed Nazzal told Al Jazeera television. At least 15 Palestinians were killed in Israeli attacks in Gaza city, medical officials said.

Israel assassinates de facto interior minister, nine others
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Gaza – Ma’an/Agencies – The Israeli military assassinated de facto Interior Minister Sa’eed Syam in an airstrike on Thursday. His brother and son were also killed in the blast, according to news reports. In addition to Syam, nine others were killed in the strike, which reportedly targeted a senior Islamic Jihad leader and the head of the Al-Qassam Brigades, an armed faction affiliated with Hamas. Aluf Benn, a military correspondent, said Israeli intelligence confirmed the presence of Syam and his staff near his brother’s home before ordering the assassination. Hamas announced a period of mourning over the assassination of Syam, who was a member of the movement’s politburo, in addition to his role at the de facto Interior Ministry. Syam was appointed to the post shortly after Hamas won legislative elections in 2006.

PROFILE / Slain Hamas minister was key figure in ’07 Gaza ’coup’
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
Hamas Interior Minister Said Sayyam, killed in an Israeli airstrike Thursday, was one of the Islamic militant group’s top five leaders in Gaza and a key figure in its violent takeover [defeat of a Fateh-US-Israeli coup attempt] of the territory in 2007. The 50-year-old Sayyam was in his brother’s house in a Gaza City suburb when an Israeli warplane dropped a huge bomb, flattening the building and leaving a deep crater in the sandy ground. Sayyam’s brother and the brother’s family were also killed. Hamas TV showed footage of Sayyam’s body, wrapped in a bloodied white shroud. Sayyam was the second of Hamas’ top five to be assassinated during Israel’s 20-day-old offensive, aimed at halting Hamas rocket fire on southern Israel. The offensive has killed nearly 1,100 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, but Hamas has yet to agree to an Egyptian cease-fire offer.

Palestine Today 011509
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio dept, International Middle East Media Center News 1/15/2009
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 4 m 00s || 3. 66 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org, for Thursday, January 15th 2009. Death toll in Gaza reaches 1,078 as Israeli troops shell residential areas and UN Centers in the Coastal Region, these stories and more coming up stay tuned. The News Cast Palestinian medical sources said that 37 Palestinians have been killed on Thursday due to the ongoing Israeli attack. The Ministry of Health in Gaza, announced that the death toll in Gaza by Thursday morning stands at 1,078 Palestinians, among them 335 children. In addition the number of those injured has reached a total of 4,900 today, including 400 in critical condition. Thousands of Gazans left their homes and fled from Gaza City on Thursday as Israeli military tanks stormed the city.

Galant: Pressure on Hamas is huge
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 1/15/2009
GOC Southern Command tells community heads IDF has gained great achievements in Gaza - GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant arrived in Ashkelon on Thursday evening in order to brief the leaders of the Gaza vicinity communities on the military operation in Gaza. "The pressure we’ve exerted over Hamas is huge," he said. "If the prime minister or defense minister says we will respond when and where we see fit, this sentence will have actual validity from now on. In the future, the Palestinians will not be able to ignore this," Galant added. "In the past every Hamas leader would build a three-story house, making the basement a weapons warehouse, the middle story his headquarters, and the top story a living area for the family after realizing over the years that the IDF would not strike the building because of the family," the commander of the military offensive said.

Gaza City covered by smoke, heavy fire
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/15/2009
Gaza -- Despite some speculation that Israeli forces were beginning to lessen the intensification of attacks, dozens of tanks plowed into southern Gaza City’s Tel Al Hawa neighborhood this morning. Early this afternoon the UNRWA is reporting a renewed threat to its headquarters. The number of Palestinians killed is well over one thousand as of this update at 12:15 pm. This morning the death toll had reached 1,066 Palestinians killed on the twentieth day of this major Israeli operation for which the term massacre must be applied. The injuries number at approximately 4,650. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reports that 85 percent of overall casualties are among women and children. Since midnight Israeli forces have killed 21 more Palestinians,and then another 15 during the attack on Tel Al Hawa.

Armed groups continue firing projectiles at south Israel
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – About ten projectiles were fired on Ashkol from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, according to Israeli news reports. No injuries or damage were reported. Five projectiles were fired toward Sderot, hitting a home and reportedly causing structural damage to the house, as well as terrifying a number of residents. Another projectile landed in the western Negev, sources said. Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for detonating four explosive charges near a tank and another armored vehicle in Gaza, they said in a statement that added the weight of the bombs was some 200 kilograms. The Palestinian Resistance Committee (PRC)’s armed wing, the Salah Ad-Din Brigades, said they destroyed an Israeli tank, killing all of its soldiers in the Tal Al-Hawa area. They also fired an RPG toward an armored vehicle near Gaza and reported clashing with Israeli forces in Ash-Shuja’iyah.

15 homemade projectiles land in Israel
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an – Palestinian fighters launched at least 15 homemade projectiles from Gaza into Israel on Thursday on the 20th day of the Israeli offensive. According to Israeli Channel Ten, eight projectiles landed in the Eshkol area, to the east of the Gaza Strip. Another five landed in the town of Sderot, bordering Gaza to the northeast. A house was damaged in Sderot. While no physical injuries were reported, several Israelis were ‘treated for shock. ’The An-Nasser Salah Ad-Din Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, said that they fired one projectile at an Israeli vehicle near Jabal Al-Rayis, east of Gaza City. The group also reported fierce fighting with Israeli forces in the Ash-Shuja’iya neighborhood of southeast Gaza City. Another group, the Abu Al-Abbas Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Liberation Front, claimed to have launched one homemade projectile at Sderot.

Israelis receive SMS messages apparently from Hamas warning of `surprises` in Gaza
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
A number of Israelis have received SMS messages apparently from Hamas warning that Israel Defense Forces troops face ’surprises’ including death in the Gaza Strip, Channel 10 reported on Thursday. An Israeli woman interviewed on a Channel 10 morning show reported how she received a text message this week that read: "Come on into Gaza lots of surprises waiting for your sons, the least of which is death. " The text message displays the number from which it was sent, and security authorities have opened an investigation. Before IDF troops entered the Gaza Strip on January 3rd, they were required to turn over their cellular phones, meaning that if the SMS messages were sent to them, they were probably not received. In the current war, coverage of psychological warfare has been off limits to journalists, unlike in the Second Lebanon War.

Blankets and battery operated lighting coming from Jordan
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/15/2009
Amman - Eighteen trucks loaded with humanitarian aid crossed the King Hussein Bridge into the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank 55 kilometers west of Amman. The convoy’s cargo is "contributions from popular Jordanian organizations, the Jordan River Foundation and nearby countries," the Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization said today. On board is bread, water, medicine, mattresses, blankets and battery operated lighting. Without electricity there are few sources of light, while water treatment facilities are inoperable. But whether 18 truck loads will make a dent in the smoldering ruins that the Gaza Strip is becoming is unknown, nor is whether the Israelis will allow the convoy to enter. With the pummeling of Gaza City reaching before unseen levels this afternoon, 210 tons of aid cannot hope to change the situation.

France sends 76 tons of medical aid to Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – France transferred 76 tons of humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip on Thursday, according to the French Consulate in Jerusalem. The French supplied the aid, the first of which is immediate medical equipment and food, as well as another 40 tons slated to arrive at Tel Aviv by air sometime before the end of the week. The country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry will spend some three million euro in total for the emergency aid package. It allocated about one million euro to the World Food Programme, another million to the UN’s Palestine refugee agency, UNRWA, and a final million to non-governmental organizations operating in Gaza. France is also preparing to establish a medical facility inside the Strip, but talks are still underway on that project. The country also sent doctors on Wednesday to relieve Gaza’s overworked and understaffed medical infrastructure.

ISRAEL-OPT: Hotlines support Gaza residents
Iyad El Baba/UNICEF-oPt, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1/16/2009
RAMALLAH, 15 January 2009 (IRIN) - Palestinians in Gaza, who are becoming increasingly traumatised as Israel’s bombardment of the tiny coastal enclave continues, are reaching out for psycho-social support via toll-free crisis-lines run by NGOs and aid agencies. Residents have been trapped in their homes since the Israeli offensive began on 27 December 2008, without electricity and running water, while sanitation systems have collapsed. Some 56 percent of Gaza’s 1. 5 million residents are children. The telephone network - both land lines and the mobile phone network - has been severely damaged but it is still possible, for example, to dial 121 from a Jawal (Palestinian mobile phone company) phone and access the hotlines. Communications tend to improve at night when the number of calls increases. One of the most popular crisis-lines is run by Sawa, meaning "together", a Palestinian NGO in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Medics: elderly man dies with white flag in his hand
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/14/2009
Gaza -- The central route through the heart of Gaza City is under attack with Israeli warplanes firing into Omar Al Mukhtar Street, a boulevard divided by green and lined with shops. A building of media offices towers next to the ice cream shop known as "Gaza City’s best. "White clouds of phosphorus smoke are rising from the wreckage as Israeli tanks move towards the center of the city. It is 19 days of this now, the brutal attacks that some still suggest are "a reasonable response" to the crude weapons of the armed resistance launched by a people under occupation. The threat is not Iran, nor is it the Hamas party that was democratically elected by the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem. With complicitous Arab governments, the only real threat to Israeli colonization is a unified Palestine.

Barghouthi calls on UN Secretary General to visit Gaza, witness the slaughter and put an end to the massacre as new civilians target are hit
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 1/15/2009
Ramallah, 15-01-09: On the 20th of attacks, Israel has intensified its military campaign by striking over 70 targets throughout the night. Today’s targets shows that no one is safe from the onslaught be they civilian, humanitarian worker or journalist. Israeli forces have surrounded the Al-Aqsa Hospital, and refused to allow health workers or the wounded to either get in or out. Another hospital, Al Quds hospital -operated by the Red Crescent- caught fire when it came under Israeli shelling. An severe explosion is now feared due to the fuel stored in the hospital’s warehouse. The Palestinian Medical Relief Society staff in Gaza has been forced to abandon their offices and care centers as the Israeli army inches to within only a few hundred meters. Though Israel denies using the controversial weapon despite growing evidence, UNRWA officials report that their. . .

’Shelled UN building used by Hamas’
Yaakov Katz And Ap, Jerusalem Post 1/15/2009
Gunshots and an anti-tank missile were fired at IDF troops near the UN compound that was attacked by the IDF on Thursday, senior defense officials told The Jerusalem Post. IDF pushing deeper into Gaza City - According to the officials, the IDF responded by firing artillery shells at the location of the gunmen, causing damage to the UN installations. At least three people were wounded in the attack and the building was set on fire. The IDF’s Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration coordinated the arrival of five fire trucks to the compound to help put out the flames. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who was in Israel on Thursday to promote a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, expressed "strong protest and outrage" at the reported shelling of the UN compound.

Israeli Army shells UN offices in Gaza City
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/15/2009
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) reported that its offices were shelled in Gaza City by the Israeli Army midday Thursday. According to UNRWA sources, the offices located in Tall-al Hawa area in Gaza City sustained damage and caught fire. Three UN employees were injured in the attack. In response to the Israeli attack, the UNRWA announced the halt of its operations in the Gaza Strip. The UNRWA is providing 700,000 Palestinians with their daily food needs. Ever since December 27th, the beginning of the Israeli attack on Gaza, UNRWA schools have become shelters for Palestinians fleeing the Israeli shelling. This is not the first time that Israel has attacked the UNRWA, during the current military offensive. On Tuesday of last week, a UN run school was levelled by Israeli mortar shells.

IOF troops shell Palestinian hospital with hundreds inside
Palestinian Information Center 1/15/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation forces on Thursday shelled a Palestinian Red Crescent hospital in Gaza city in which hundreds of patients and wounded were staying for treatment along with the medical staff and civilians who sought refuge in it. PIC reporter said that the IOF soldiers bombarded the hospital along with the PRC offices as preliminary reports indicate that more than 700 Palestinian citizens were inside the hospital. The PRC director warned of the serious conditions in the hospital, pointing out that the shelling was directly aimed at the hospital. He said that fire started in the pharmacy and the second floor that comprises the hospital administration. He condemned the IOF shelling describing it as "unjustified", and said that apparently the IOF shelling was targeting anything that moves even if they were medical or relief convoys.

PLC member denounces Israeli attacks on press
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Israel deliberately shelled the Ash-Shuruq Building in the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, according to a top Palestinian lawmaker and former presidential candidate. Palestinian National Initiative Secretary-General Mustafa Al-Barghouthi said on Thursday that “this attack came after the Israeli decision to prevent international journalists from entering Gaza. ”“It’s a bid to impose a media blackout, to mislead public opinion,” Al-Barghouthi added. He said that the shelling, which injured two journalists, “is a clear violation of international law and conventions,” adding that “Israel is aiming to hide its crimes that it is carrying out in Gaza, hiding its massacres from media outlets. ”Al-Barghouthi also noted that other targets of Israeli shelling, including press and their staff, hospitals, mosques, schools and homes “just confirms that crimes are being carried out by Israel–in plain sight.

Two injured as Israeli warplanes attack media compound in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – A journalist and a cameraman working for Abu Dhabi TV were injured when Israeli shells hit the Ash-Shuruq Tower on Umar Al-Mukhtar Street in dowtown Gaza City on Thursday. The building contains several news agencies and networks, including Reuters, NBC, and Al-Arabiya. An Israeli airstrike caused a fire to break out in the building. Journalists have reportedly fled the compound fearing continued Israeli strikes. The injured journalists were taken to Ash-Shifa Hospital. They were identified as Muhammad As-Susi, who was wounded in the head, and Ayman Ar-Rezi who was injured “all over his body. “Reuters journalists working there at the time said an Israeli missile or shell appeared to have struck the southern side of the 13th floor of the Tower. Reuters said it evacuated the bureau, though a live camera feed that has been providing images from Gaza throughout the war continued to function.

Media, United Nations and Interior Minister targeted
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/15/2009
Gaza -- Israeli forces again targeted the press in Gaza on Thursday. A missile struck central Gaza City’s media building housing several outlets including Reuters and Abu Dhabi television. This is the center of Gaza City and the major building for media. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency was also hit. Approximately 1,100 Palestinians have been killed in the Strip since 27 December, Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siyam is among them. In a targeted attack this evening Israeli forces shelled the home of Siyam’s brother, killing the official, his son, his brother Iyad, his sister-in-law, his nephew and his assistant. Hamas sources announce that Al Qassam leaders Salah Abu Shreh and Mahmoud Watfah were among those killed. The neighbor’s house was hit in the attack in central Gaza City’s Yarmouk Street, killing four more people, three of them children.

Gaza City: Two journalists injured as Israeli forces shell media office
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/15/2009
Two Palestinian Journalists were injured midday on Thursday as Israeli tanks shelled a media office in Gaza City. Local sources reported that the Israeli tanks shelled a building where media agencies house their offices. One of the offices caught fire, leading to the injury of two journalists working for Abu Dabi TV, an Arab satellite channel. The two injured were moved to nearby hospitals for treatment. So far during the 20 day Israeli offensive on Gaza,the Israeli Army has killed a total of five Palestinian Journalists. [end]

Israeli forces accused of manipulating own laws to repress freedom of information
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/15/2009
Ramallah - The International Federation of Journalists is protesting charges filed by the Israeli Attorney General against Palestinian journalists after they broadcast information that is subject to military censorship. Khader Shaheen and Mohammad Sarhan are accused of "aiding the enemy" for broadcasting news regarding tank movement. The issue regards the early stages of the ground invasion of the northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli administration has banned the entrance of foreign journalists to the Strip since before the attacks of the past 20 days, claiming to have "lifted the ban" by accepting eight hand-picked journalists to report from within chosen Israeli military installations. General Secretary of the IFJ, Aidan White, commented on the Israeli "hypocrisy and double standards" employed. "While Israel is using the law for the military to impose its laws on journalists,. . .

Foreign press urges boycott of Israeli army footage
Middle East Online 1/15/2009
JERUSALEM - The Foreign Press Association on Thursday urged its members to boycott Israeli army photos and video footage to protest at the shelling of a media building in Gaza City that wounded two cameramen. The move was also prompted by the Israeli army’s (IDF) refusal to allow reporters to enter the territory to cover the conflict in which some 1,100 people have been killed in the largest Israeli offensive ever launched on the Hamas-run enclave. "The FPA rejects and condemns the IDF policy of controlling the news coverage of the events in Gaza," said the group -- which represents foreign media outlets in Israel and the Palestinian territories, including AFP. "By preventing the entry of foreign journalists into Gaza and bombing buildings housing offices of international media -- contrary to IDF assurances that these media buildings would be safe -- the IDF is severely violating basic principles of respect for press freedom," it said.

POLITICS: Israeli Attacks on Gaza Escape Global Media Scrutiny
Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service 1/16/2009
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 15 (IPS) - Israel’s relentless air attacks on a besieged Gaza, which have killed over 1,000 Palestinians and destroyed hundreds of homes, continue to take place away from the gaze of the international news media. A country that claims to be the only multi-party democracy in the Middle East, Israel has barred all foreign journalists from entering Gaza, triggering strong protests not only from the United Nations but also from human rights groups and media organisations. Speaking from Beirut, Mohamad Bazzi, a journalism professor at New York University, told IPS there are hundreds of journalists from around the world who have gathered in Israel trying to get access into Gaza. Without access to the battlefield, they are having a difficult time verifying the claims by either side, he said.

Livni urges Red Cross to press Hamas for access to Gilad Shalit
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Thursday that the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit - captured more than two years ago by Gaza militants - was at the top of Israel’s day to day agenda. The foreign minister met with visiting International Red Cross President Jakob Kellenberger on Thursday and asked for the organization to press Hamas to allow the Red Cross to visit captured Israel Defense Soldier Gilad Shalit, in order to asses his well-being. After meeting with Kellenberger, Livni held talks with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in Tel Aviv. The Red Cross on Thursday condemned the shelling of a Gaza City hospital by Israel Defense Forces. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said the damage caused to the Al-Quds hospital is "completely and utterly unacceptable based on every known standard of international humanitarian law.

Israel Defense Officials Back Immediate Gaza Cease-Fire
Amos Harel, MIFTAH 1/15/2009
Senior defense establishment officials believe that Israel should strive to reach an immediate cease-fire with Hamas, and not expand its offensive against the Palestinian Islamist group in Gaza. During meetings of the Israel Defense Forces General Staff and of the heads of the state’s other security branches, officials have said that Israel achieved several days ago all that it possibly could in Gaza. The officials expressed reservations about launching the third phase of Operation Cast Lead, preferring for it to remain a threat at this stage. They added that it is better to cease the offensive now, just several days before the inauguration of new U. S. President Barack Obama. Israel has proven, the officials said, that it is no longer deterred from either launching such an operation, from a confrontation with Hamas, from deploying ground forces or from using its reservists.

Report: Israel ’green-lights’ ceasefire
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/15/2009
Diplomatic sources in Cairo say Defense Ministry official’s visit will probably result in Israel’s acceptance of Egyptian truce initiative in Gaza - While strikes in Gaza and rockets on Israel’s southern communities continued Thursday, signs of a materializing ceasefire were also present. According to Egyptian diplomats, Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry’s Diplomatic-Security Bureau, has returned from his visit to Cairo, where he met with head of Egyptian intelligence, Omar Suleiman. According to diplomatic sources in Egypt, Israel gave the ceasefire offered in Cairo a "green light", just one day after Hamas approved the plan’s principle points. Gilad is set to brief Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on his the visit. Sources in Jerusalem said the briefing may yield a decision on whether to approve the Egyptian initiative

State Officials: Barak Encouraging Hamas
Roni Sofer, MIFTAH 1/15/2009
Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s statements regarding the nearing end of the Israeli offensive in Gaza have earned him harsh criticism from top Jerusalem officials, who have said that Hamas interprets such statements as Israel trying to find a way out of the fighting. " Leaking details of ministers’ private initiatives is irresponsible and regrettable," said a state official. Other top Jerusalem sources said that such private initiatives, which are not sanctioned but the limited cabinet – namely Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni – are detrimental to the future success of Operation Cast Lead. " Such media reports are infuriating," a top source told Ynet. "Senior ministers making such public statements serve only to encourage Hamas and boost its activist, and that affects a million Israelis in the south and thousands of IDF soldiers deployed in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas: We’ll never waive our demands for ending Israeli aggression
Palestinian Information Center 1/15/2009
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement highlighted that it would never make concessions on its demands for ending the Israeli aggression, lifting the siege and opening the crossings, adding that the ongoing Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip is a desperate attempt to impose a fait accompli on the Palestinian people. Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, told reporters that the continued Israeli shelling against civilians in Gaza reflects Israel’s failure to achieve its objectives, noting that the IOF troops failed to advance into Gaza because of the fierce resistance they found. Regarding any possible meeting with ex-PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in order to cooperate to end the aggression on Gaza, Dr. Marzouk said that Abbas could not help himself politically because he had secluded himself away from his people and opened the war for Israel to kill this tremendous number of Gaza people.

UN secretary-general: Gaza toll 'unbearable'
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said on Thursday that the death toll from the Israeli war on Gaza has become "unbearable. " Ban made this remark at a press conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Tel Aviv. Ban also expressed outrage to top Israeli officials on after Israeli forces shelled the main UN relief compound in Gaza City. "I conveyed my strong protest and outrage to the defense minister and the foreign minister and demanded a full explanation," Ban said, adding that he had demanded an investigation into the shelling. "The defense minister said to me it was a grave mistake and he took it very seriously. He assured me that extra attention will be paid to UN facilities and staff and this will not be repeated," Ban added. He also said progress appears to have been made in Egypt’s efforts to broker a ceasefire.

Hamas May Survive Offensive, Israel Says
Craig Whitlock, MIFTAH 1/15/2009
TEL AVIV, Jan. 13 -- Israeli military officials said Tuesday that their 18-day offensive in the Gaza Strip had weakened Hamas but that a knockout blow was unlikely. The conflict showed no signs of ending as diplomats reported little progress in negotiating a cease-fire. The Israeli officials said their strategy was to squeeze Hamas militarily as they try to pressure the Islamist movement into a truce that would include a long-term commitment to stop firing rockets into southern Israel. Some Hamas leaders have said they are willing to cut a deal, but others have pledged to continue fighting. Despite public vows by Israeli politicians to destroy Hamas’s military capability, Israeli officials said Tuesday that the movement had lost only a fraction of its fighters and retained a large stockpile of rockets and other armaments.

Cabinet clash: Battle of the Ehuds
Rory McCarthy, The Guardian 1/16/2009
In what one Israeli newspaper described yesterday as "The battle of the Ehuds", the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and his defence minister, Ehud Barak, have been engaged in a very public difference of opinion over strategy in Gaza. The differences emerged on the fourth day of the campaign, when it was still confined to air strikes, and Barak appeared to endorse a two-day halt to the fighting for "humanitarian" reasons. The idea was soon rejected by the rest of the hawkish cabinet. But reports of disagreements over strategy continued. Barak, once chief of staff of Israel’s military and the country’s most decorated soldier, began to argue in private meetings, echoed in the press, that the operation had achieved all it could for Israel and should end. Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister, has also, it appears, argued privately for a halt to the fighting.

MIDEAST: Coming Up to Crunch Time
Analysis by Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler, Inter Press Service 1/16/2009
JERUSALEM, Jan 15(IPS) - "The war isn’t yet over, but it’s the beginning of the final chapter," said Eytan Ben-Eliyahu, former Israeli air force chief, on Israel Television Wednesday night. "This is the crunch moment," he added. The guns continued to roar -- overnight, warplanes attacked 70 targets the Israeli military announced, and by mid-morning a string of 15 Hamas rockets had landed in southern Israel -- but efforts to reach a diplomatic conclusion move into high gear Thursday on two fronts, in Cairo and Washington. Four days later than originally planned, Amos Gilad, head of the Israeli Defence Ministry’s political-security bureau, was dispatched to Cairo to learn the terms of Hamas’s tentative acceptance of the Egyptian ceasefire plan. The decision finally to send Gilad was made late Wednesday by Israel’s leadership trio -- Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

Airstrike kills senior Hamas minister as Cairo talks inch towards ceasefire
Toni O'Loughlin in Jerusalem, The Guardian 1/16/2009
Israel struck at the heart of Hamas yesterday, killing one of its most senior leaders and pushing deeper into Gaza City, as moves towards a temporary ceasefire inched forward. Hamas reportedly told Egypt, which is brokering talks, that it would agree a year-long renewable ceasefire in Gaza if Israel pulled out its forces within seven days and reopened border crossings immediately. Israel’s envoy to Cairo returned to Jerusalem last night with details of Hamas’s position. After a meeting between Israel’s leaders, the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, was due to fly to Washington to finalise an accord aimed at delivering Israel’s key condition for a ceasefire: preventing Hamas from rearming. " This is not open ended, this is permanent," the Israeli government spokesman, Mark Regev, said. Ayman Taha, a Hamas spokesman, said it wanted Israel to leave Gaza within two weeks, to end the

Slowly, warily, leaders consider the options
Ian Black in Middle East editor, The Guardian 1/16/2009
Khaled Meshal, the political leader of Hamas, receives visitors in his office in Damascus only after rigorous checks at the door. Syrian plainclothes men loiter outside in the leafy street and Palestinian guards operate an airport-style screening machine. Coffee, mint tea and sticky baklava are on offer under a giant picture of Jerusalem’s golden-domed mosque. Meshal, once injected with poison by a Mossad hit team, doesn’t take risks. In recent days, as Hamas fighters have taken on the might of the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip - at a terrible cost to Palestinians there - the burly leader has not been giving media interviews. Now, he and colleagues are frantically busy with one of the most significant decisions ever taken by the Islamic Resistance Movement. Meetings with senior officials from Syria and Iran, as well as from the mediator, Turkey, have had to be fitted in too.

Diplomats: Gaza Operation Causing Long-Term Harm to Israel’s Image
Barak Ravid, MIFTAH 1/15/2009
A few days ago, I met a European ambassador stationed in Israel. The man, a great friend of Israel, launched an emotional monologue and spoke from the bottom of his heart. " Make no mistake," he said. "I understand why you embarked on the operation in Gaza, and many of my colleagues also understand and even support it, but a few days ago you started to cross red lines. " The ambassador continued, reiterating his support and his love for Israel. "We too would like to damage Hamas, we too would not sit by quietly if they were firing rockets at us," he said. "It was clear to us that innocent people would be hurt in any operation in Gaza, and we were prepared to accept that up to certain limit, but in the past few days it seems that your action is getting out of control, and the harm to civilians is tremendous. " The straw that broke the camel’s back for that ambassador was the Red Cross report

Livni to set off for Washington for talks on Gaza cease-fire
Barak Ravid Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, and Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will travel to Washington early Friday to discuss a cease-fire plan for Gaza, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday. "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert authorized this evening the trip of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to the United States in order to promote an American-Israeli outlined agreement intended to deal with weapons smuggling," Olmert’s office said in a statement. Livni will be finalizing a political-security accord designed to prevent Hamas from rearming, a key Israeli condition for a cease-fire in Gaza. The U. S and Israel are due to sign an agreement on their joint effort in tracking the smuggling route of weapons that make their way from Iran into Gaza. Senior defense official Amos Gilad on Thursday returned from the truce talks in Egypt and was to brief Defense Minister Barak, prime Minister. . .

U.S. Sees Gaza Rebuilding as Opportunity for Abbas
Adam Entous, MIFTAH 1/15/2009
The United States hopes to use post-war reconstruction of the Gaza Strip to help the Western-backed Palestinian Authority reassert its presence and influence in Hamas’s stronghold. U. S. and Western officials said details have yet to be worked out and depended on the extent to which Israel’s military offensive, which has killed more than 900 Palestinians, weakens Hamas’s hold on power. The aim would be to ensure that credit for reconstruction accrues to President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, and not to the Iranian-backed Islamists who won a 2006 Palestinian election and seized control of Gaza 18 months later. A senior European diplomat involved in the discussions dismissed the idea "as a recipe for failure from the start. " Any major reconstruction programme is likely to face major hurdles, from Palestinian infighting and corruption to Israeli obstructionism, that could further undermine the credibility of "moderates" like Abbas, who advocates a peace deal with Israel, aid officials said.

VIDEO - WATCH / Obama: We must engage Syria and Iran in Middle East peace efforts
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/15/2009
U. S. president-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday said that he is going to work toward a comprehensive peace in the Middle East "on day one" of presidency on January 20, and that would include Iran and Syria. "We’re going to have to take a regional approach," said Obama in an interview with CBS Evening News. "We’re going to have to involve Syria in discussions. We’re going to have to engage Iran in ways that we have not before. " "We’ve got to have a clear bottom line that Israel’s security is paramount," Obama said. However, he also reiterated his commitment to the long-standing peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians: "We have to create a two-state solution where people can live side by side in peace," he said. Obama has avoided discussing what he would do to end the violence in Gaza, but has said, "The loss of civilian lives in Gaza and in Israel is a source of deep concern for me. "

U.S. solidarity groups swarm the south
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
Along with rockets, the Negev has also attracted a host of Jewish solidarity missions from abroad this week, especially from English-speaking countries. People involved with setting up visits say the increasing anti-Israel sentiment in Europe and in the media is a major motive for Diaspora leaders for coming. "We have had a slew of missions and visits," said Ashkelon’s U. S. -born Marty Davis from the World Zionist Organization, who showed some of the 20-odd delegations that came around his city. A typical mission is a hectic 48 to 72 hour-long affair, beginning straight from the airport. In the case of the U. K. ’s United Jewish Israel Appeal, which ended their visit yesterday, the trip included a tour of facilities in the south and north which the organization helped fund and protect against rocket fire. Members of the mission found the trip so exhausting they had to consult one. . .

The Olmert-Rice spat / Handling the truth
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
Inquiries with people uninvolved in the spat between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reveal that his version of the lead-up to America’s vote on last week’s Security Council resolution is closer to the truth than hers. Last Wednesday, the only proposal on the council’s table was a completely one-sided Libyan resolution. Since it was clear to everyone that the United States would veto it, Israel had no reason to worry. But then, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, a former senior World Bank official, decided that this was the moment to make use of his Washington connections. Fayyad persuaded the Americans to support a softened version of the resolution, which called for a prompt cease-fire, hoping that such a resolution would speed up the ongoing truce talks.

Gaza violence chills promise of U.S. Muslim-Jewish dialogue
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/15/2009
The Gaza Strip violence has chilled a promising interfaith dialogue between Jews and Muslims in the United States, activists said on Wednesday. But Israel’s 20-day-old offensive against Hamas that has taken more than the lives of more than 1,000 Palestinians and 13 Israelis has not triggered attacks on synagogues or other Jewish institutions in the United States at the level seen in Europe and elsewhere in the world. While Jews and Muslims make up a sliver of the U. S. population, efforts at dialogue based on common themes in the two ancient religions had been on the rise in recent years in the United States, an effort billed as perhaps a world model. Matthew Weiner, director of programs for the Interfaith Center of New York, which has tried to foster such interreligious dialogue, said the damage from Gaza means "less talking and less trust.

Poll: Most Americans oppose Iran attack
Yitzhak Benhorin Published, YNetNews 1/15/2009
Survey conducted for Israel Project shows 79% of Americansthink hard work needed to stop Tehran from getting nuclear weapons, but most still oppose military action within Islamic Republic, 47% want increased diplomatic pressure on Iran - WASHINGTON - Seventy-nine percent of Americans think the US must work hard to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, a poll published on Thursday said. However, many Israelis will be disappointed to learn that most Americans are not interested in a military operation on Persian soil. According to a poll commissioned by the Israel Project and conducted by Quinlan Rosner Research, 47% of Americans would prefer increased diplomatic pressure on Iran, while 39% support harsher economic sanctions. Of the respondents, 43% say direct negotiations should be opened with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime.

Cambridge, MA defies American support for Gaza assault
Ma’an News Agency 1/14/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – An American town twinned with the West Bank city on Bethlehem voted on a resolution to condemn Israel’s ongoing onslaught in Gaza on Monday. Home to both Harvard University and the Massachusetts School of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts’ city council voted to become the first such American town to make official its condemnation of the Israeli assault on Gaza. Lawyer Shawqy Al-Ayaseh, the two cities’ twinning representative, said the council made its decision after a long meeting in the presence of citizens, where negotiations lasted some three hours. In addition to condemning violence against civilians on both sides of the conflict, the city council insisted Israel end the blockade of the Gaza Strip. “To not say something feels very complicit," she added.

IDF tells troops to push on in Gaza
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/15/2009
Commanders tell soldiers to continue attacking targets with full force in wake of materializing truce - In the wake of a progressively materializing ceasefire, IDF commanders in Gaza told soldiers Thursday to continue to seek out their targets and destroy them with full force. Ground forces composed of Armored Corps and Engineering Corps soldiers began to edge closer to the center of Gaza City Thursday morning, with the aid of the Air Force. Despite reports that Israel was leaning towards accepting the Egyptian ceasefire proposal in Gaza, the army appeared to be stepping up its offensive, and an officer and two soldiers were lightly injured in the operations. They were evacuated to Israel for treatment. Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Dan Harel and GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant visited troops in the northern Strip Thursday afternoon,. . .

As cease-fire approaches, parties end their own truce
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 1/15/2009
A cease-fire has yet to be signed, but that has not stopped the political parties from ending their self-imposed moratorium on conducting politics during Operation Cast Lead. Over the past three weeks, the parties limited themselves to "back-door campaigning," which consisted of visiting the South and issuing statements about developments in the Gaza Strip. But in the past week, as the cease-fire came closer, first the small parties resumed campaigning, and then the large parties joined them on Thursday. The Likud scheduled, and then canceled a rally for Thursday night at the party’s Tel Aviv headquarters in which responsibilities for the party’s campaign would be allocated among its top 40 candidates. A Likud spokeswoman said the event was scheduled because a cease-fire was approaching and it was canceled later due to Thursday’s escalation in Gaza.

Palestinian lawmaker urges UN secretary-general visit Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Mustafa Barghouthi, a member of the Palestinian parliament and head of the Palestinian National Initiative called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to visit Gaza during his visit to the region. “This is where the onslaught has to be witnessed and to discuss the prospects of a de-escalation following the previously ignored UN Security Council Resolution," said Barghouthi. The former Palestinian presidential candidate called on Ban to urge the international community to intervene as soon as possible "to prevent more death, and the deepening of Gaza’s already disastrous humanitarian catastrophe. " "Without punishment action against Israel, they will not stop. "

Livni will travel to Washington to discuss Gaza cease-fire
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 1/15/2009
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is traveling to Washington to discuss a Gaza cease-fire. A statement from the Israeli prime ministers office said Livni would be leaving for the United States Thursday night to discuss and Egyptian mediated cease-fire to end the fighting in Gaza. The statement said Livni will be meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other US officials. The United States and Egypt have been working to forge a truce agreement that would end 20 days of bitter fighting in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas militants.

British MP: Israel exploiting Holocaust
Associated Press, YNetNews 1/15/2009
Jewish lawmaker says gentiles’ guilt providing Israeli government with excuse to murder Palestinians - A British lawmaker declared Thursday that Israel was taking advantage of the guilt many non-Jews feel over the Holocaust to ruthlessly press ahead with its offensive in Gaza. Gerald Kaufman, a governing Labour Party legislator, sharply criticized Israel in a House of Commons debate on Gaza, arguing that the Jewish state has exploited guilt that much of the world feels for having ignored the slaughter of millions of Jews during World War II. "The present Israeli government ruthlessly and cynically exploits the continuing guilt from Gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians," he said. The offensive started in response to Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli cities.

Israel using Holocaust guilt to continue Gaza op, says British Jewish MP
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/15/2009
A British lawmaker declared Thursday that Israel was taking advantage of the guilt many non-Jews feel over the Holocaust to ruthlessly press ahead with its offensive against Hamas in Gaza. Gerald Kaufman, a governing Labour Party legislator, sharply criticized Israel in a House of Commons debate on Gaza, arguing that the Jewish state has exploited guilt that much of the world feels for having ignored the slaughter of six million of Jews during World War II. "The present Israeli government ruthlessly and cynically exploit the continuing guilt from Gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians," he said. The offensive started in response to Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli cities. Medical officials in Gaza have said about 1,100 Palestinians have been killed since the offensive started.

Brown condemns Israeli attack as 'indefensible'
Jon Smith, PA, The Independent 1/15/2009
Gordon Brown condemned Israel’s shelling of the United Nations HQ in Gaza today as "indefensible". The UN building was set alight by the bombardment as its Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, visited the area on a mission to secure a ceasefire. The Prime Minister this afternoon assured Mr Ban, in a phone conversation following the incident, that Britain would "step up" its efforts for an immediate ceasefire. And he said that British humanitarian aid would go into Gaza "immediately there is a ceasefire". Speaking in 10 Downing Street shortly after talking to Mr Ban, Mr Brown described the UN chief as "properly angry" about the attack. The Prime Minister said: "When the United Nations is doing such vital work - humanitarian work amongst women and children in Gaza - no-one can defend this attack by Israeli forces on the compound.

Commons debate on Gaza - live
Andrew Sparrow, The Guardian 1/15/2009
1. 54pm: When David Miliband delivered a statement to the Commons about Gaza on Monday, it became clear that MPs feel very strongly about the conflict. The Israelis were fiercely criticised – Sir Gerald Kaufman condemned the Israeli leadership as "mass murderers and war criminals" – and some MPs urged the government to adopt a more robust, anti-Israeli stance. The Monday session only lasted for an hour but this afternoon there will be a full debate on Gaza, going on until 6pm. It’s an adjournment debate, which means there will almost certainly not be a vote, but it will allow MPs to air their concerns at length. We’ll be live blogging the whole debate, which should start at around about 2pm. 2. 48pm: Bill Rammell, the junior foreign minister, is opening the debate because David Miliband, the foreign secretary, is away.

Letter: Growing outrage at the killings in Gaza
More than 300 undersigned, The Guardian 1/16/2009
The massacres in Gaza are the latest phase of a war that Israel has been waging against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years. The goal of this war has never changed: to use overwhelming military power to eradicate the Palestinians as a political force, one capable of resisting Israel’s ongoing appropriation of their land and resources. Israel’s war against the Palestinians has turned Gaza and the West Bank into a pair of gigantic political prisons. There is nothing symmetrical about this war in terms of principles, tactics or consequences. Israel is responsible for launching and intensifying it, and for ending the most recent lull in hostilities. Israel must lose. It is not enough to call for another ceasefire, or more humanitarian assistance. It is not enough to urge the renewal of dialogue and to acknowledge the concerns and suffering of both sides.

’War on terror’ was a mistake, says Miliband
Julian Borger, Amethi, India, The Guardian 1/15/2009
The foreign secretary, David Miliband, today argues that the use of the "war on terror" as a western rallying cry since the September 11 attacks has been a mistake that may have caused "more harm than good". In an article in today’s Guardian, five days before the Bush administration leaves the White House, Miliband delivers a comprehensive critique of its defining mission, saying the war on terror was misconceived and that the west cannot "kill its way" out of the threats it faces. British officials quietly stopped using the phrase "war on terror" in 2006, but this is the first time it has been comprehensively discarded in the most outspoken remarks on US counterterrorism strategy to date by a British minister. In remarks that were also made in a speech today in Mumbai, in one of the hotels that was a target of terrorist attacks in November, the foreign secretary says the concept of a war on terror is "misleading and mistaken".

UN General Assembly President opens ’emergency’ session on Gaza
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 1/15/2009
General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann opened an emergency meeting of the 192-nation world body on "illegal Israeli actions" in Gaza on Thursday by angrily blocking Israel’s attempt to halt on procedural grounds what it called a "hateful" session. D’Escoto argued that the assembly, as "the most representative and most democratic component of the United Nations," had a duty to step in and make its voice heard because the Security Council’s urgent call for a cease-fire a week earlier had been "totally ignored" by Israel and Hamas. More than 60 nations signed up to speak. Israeli diplomat Ilan Fluss argued that the session was "superfluous" because the Security Council is still "seized" of the Gaza conflict, citing Article 12 of the UN Charter. It says the General Assembly "shall not make any recommendation" about a dispute or situation before the Security Council unless it is asked to; in this case, it hasn’t been.

UN General Assembly ’attacks’ Israel
AFP, YNetNews 1/15/2009
Jewish state accused of flouting international law by pressing on with its deadly military offensive in Gaza - Israel was roundly condemned and accused of flouting international law Thursday at a UN General Assembly session for its deadly military assault on the Gaza Strip, including strikes on hospitals, media and UN buildings. The emergency meeting, requested by the 118 UN member states making up the nonaligned movement, got under way after an Israeli bid to block it on procedural grounds was dismissed. "Gaza is ablaze. It has been turned into a burning hell," said the assembly president, Nicaragua’s Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann. "The violations of international law inherent in the Gaza assault have been well documented: collective punishment; disproportionate military force; attacks on civilian targets, including homes, mosques, universities, schools. . . "

Children ’paying price of Gaza war’
Al Jazeera 1/15/2009
Children are bearing the brunt of Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has said. More than 300 children have been killed and hundreds more wounded in Israel’s aerial and ground assault, Ann Veneman, Unicef’s executive director, said in a statement released on Wedneday. She said: "Each day more children are being hurt, their small bodies wounded, their young lives shattered. This is tragic. This is unacceptable. "They are bearing the brunt of a conflict which is not theirs. "As fighting reaches the heart of heavily populated urban areas, the impact of lethal weapons will carry an even heavier toll on children. " Lost childhood Veneman said the war and bloodshed in Gaza would cause long-term psychological damage to children.

High Court: Mistakes happen during war
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 1/15/2009
Judges discuss human rights organizations’ petition against damage caused to ambulances, water and electricity infrastructures in Gaza, say ’IDF fires after spotting gunmen or by mistake’ - The Israel Defense Forces fires on ambulances or international compounds by mistake or after spotting gunmen staying in the facilities, the High Court of Justice said Thursday while discussing a petition filed by human rights organizations against the Israeli operation in Gaza. Justice Asher Grunis said, "If our forces fired on our forces accidentally, mistakes can happen during war. " Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish said, "The situation is pretty complicated. There’s no dispute over the fact that the State would like to make the evacuation of the injured and the transfer of fuel for industrial diesel oil possible, but the conditions are far from that.

Israel Navy ships turn back boat carrying Gaza humanitarian aid
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
Israel Navy ships forced a boat trying to deliver food and medical supplies to Gaza to return to Cyprus early Thursday. Free Gaza group spokeswoman Mary Hughes-Thompson said Israeli naval vessels surrounded the 66-foot (20-meter) Greek-flagged boat off the coast of southern Lebanon and threatened to open fire if it did not turn back. The Israel Defense Forces said navy ships warned the boat to turn back because it was entering a war zone subject to a naval blockade. The ship turned back without incident, the military said. Hughes-Thompson said the boat, carrying five tons of supplies and 21 passengers, including three surgeons, was expected to arrive at Larnaca port in Cyprus by Thursday evening. It was the second failed bid by the U. S. -based group to try to reach Gazasince Israel launched its assault on the. . .

International boycott of Israeli products launched from West Bank
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/15/2009
Ramallah -- Hundreds of calls have gone out for boycotts of Israeli goods during 40 years of occupation, with an increase during the past three weeks. In Ramallah today the Agricultural Relief Society launched a new campaign entitled, "Boycott Israeli goods - they pay for ammunition. " Economic strangulation, restrictions on exports and imports, and a steady creation of dependence are parts of the occupation that have led to a flooding of Israeli goods in West Bank stores. The Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement taken a role in reversing the phenomena and a rally organized by Agricultural Relief today is part of that. "In condemnation of the barbaric Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip," said Director-General Khalil Shiha, "this campaign begins in Ramallah and reaches all Palestinian communities in addition to the Arab nation and the world at large. -- See also: Boycott Israel!

Turkish co cancels order from Israel, citing Gaza
Avi Shauly, Globes Online 1/15/2009
A Turkish executive wrote, "We cannot sell Israeli products because of the cruel attacks by Israel in Gaza". As fighting against Hamas continues in Gaza, Israeli exporters are reporting that some customers are postponing or cancelling deals. Industrial and dental tool maker Strauss & co. Industrial Diamonds received a letter yesterday from a customer in Turkey, who declined to purchase equipment due to the fighting in Gaza. "We cannot sell Israeli products because of the cruel attacks by Israel in Gaza", wrote an executive at Turkish company Guloguz to his Israeli counterpart. Strauss & co. ’s sales manager told "Globes" today that the response from most of the world were reasonable, and showed understanding of the difference between Palestinians and Hamas, but that in Turkey, a Moslem country with 72 million inhabitants, things look different.

Ahmadinejad calls on Obama to stop supporting Israel
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday called on U. S. President-elect Barack Obama to stop supporting Israel, which Tehran condemns for launching attacks on Gaza. Ahmadinejad said the fighting in Gaza between Hamas and Israel has shown that "it is not feasible" for what he calls Israel’s "Zionist regime to continue to live in the region. " He added that the recent fighting in Gaza has been a great lesson for all, as it shows "the absolute defeat and desperation of this [Israeli] regime. " The Iranian leader did not use the word Israel in his comments, made at a Thursday press conference. Ahmadinejad also said that imposing an oil embargo by Arab countries on Israel’s supporters over its assault on Gaza was a "good proposal" but not on the agenda yet.

Israeli charged with attempting to spy on behalf of Iran
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/15/2009
Israel Police and the Shin Bet on Thursday indicted an Israeli citizen living in Argentina for allegedly attempting to spy on Israel on behalf of Iran. Mauricio Segel, who is a resident of Argentina, was arrested three weeks ago. He has been indicted on charges of holding contact with a foreign agent. According to the indictment, Segel went to Tehran’s embassy in Argentina in 2006 and offered to help Iranian nationals gain access to Israeli documents. The defendant allegedly supplied the Iranians with his own passport and identification card and offered to provide more information in return for money. Segel was arrested by officials from the Shin Bet and the police’s international crimes unit upon landing in Israel three weeks ago. Last May, an Israeli man born in Iran was arrested for allegedly supplying intelligence information to Tehran intelligence in 2006.

PA courts suspend work in protest of Gaza ’massacres’
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Chief Palestinian Judge Sheikh Taysir At-Tamimi announced on Thursday that Palestinian Authority Courts would suspend work in protest of the Israeli “massacres of Palestinians” in the Gaza Strip. At-Tamimi said he is leading a demonstration in Ramallah of judges and religious officials. They plan to march to Al-Manara, the central square in Ramallah at 1pm. The judicial strike is in effect from 10am on Thursday until the end of the day.

Abbas: Coming hours decisive for achieving ceasefire
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Acting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday that the coming hours will be decisive in achieving a ceasefire. Speaking at a joint news conference with Germany’s foreign affairs minister, Abbas discussed plans for holding a donor conference for expected relief and reconstruction efforts in Gaza. Immediate reports suggest that up to US $1. 4 billion in Gaza’s infrastructure has been destroyed since 27 December. Abbas added that Israel’s shelling in Gaza “is outrageous and devastating because it targets UN warehouses and compounds. ”“This is not the first time [Israel] shelled schools, mosques, UNRWA buildings and hospitals,” the acting president noted. Abbas said his understanding of the situation echoes German Foreign Affairs Minister Frank Stienmaier’s, who considers the attacks a “grave tragedy” and “crime committed against the Palestinians in Gaza.

The Guardian,Friday 16 January 2009, The Guardian 1/16/2009
Khaled Meshal, head of political bureau and de facto leader of Hamas: Meshal, 52, has been the leader of Hamas since the assassination of Abdel Aziz Rantissi in 2004. Born in Ramallah in the West Bank, he became involved in Islamist student politics as a student in Kuwait. He lives in Damascus under Syria’s protection. Israeli agents tried to assassinate him in Jordan in 1997. -- Mousa Abu Marzook, deputy head of political bureau: Marzook, 57, was born in Gaza. He studied engineering in Cairo and did a PhD in industrial engineering in the US. He was expelled from the US and Jordan before moving to exile in Damascus. He was convicted in absentia by a US court for Hamas activities. -- Mahmoud Zahar, most senior leader of Hamas in Gaza: Zahar, 63, is a founder member of Hamas. Born in Gaza, he studied medicine in Cairo and cared for Hamas’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, before his assassination in 2004.

Greek parliamentary delegation to visit Gaza Thursday
Palestinian Information Center 1/15/2009
CAIRO, (PIC)-- A Greek parliamentary delegation is expected to visit today the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing in the framework of the solidarity with the Palestinian people who are being exposed to genocide. Nader Al-Abadla, the head of the Palestinian-Greek friendship association, said that the delegation will travel on Thursday to the Rafah crossing in preparation for entering Gaza despite the continued Israeli military aggression, noting that the delegates will risk their lives in order to show solidarity with the Gaza people. The delegation which includes Greek lawmakers, representatives of parties and representatives of the European campaign to lift the siege had arrived in Cairo on Tuesday, and met with Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, and Mohamed Mustafa, the deputy foreign minister.

Protesters against Gaza op heckle Israeli ambassador at Holocaust ceremony in Poland
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 1/15/2009
Protesters against Israel’s operation in Gaza on Wednesday night disrupted a ceremony in Poznan, Poland, attended by the country’s Israeli ambassador, David Peleg, to honor people who saved Jews during the Holocaust. Police were called to the scene and made several arrests. Peleg was scheduled to speak at a ceremony honoring a number of people considered "righteous among the nations," for their efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust. The conflict began when protesters, apparently anarchists, stood up and waved banners reading "stop the slaughter," after which an Israeli-Polish radio broadcaster confronted them. An altercation among several of the attendees in the auditorium broke out and police made a number of arrests. Peleg was not involved in the altercation and was unhurt.

Top EU official urges international action to stop Gaza attack
Ma’an News Agency 1/15/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an - European Parliament Vice-President Luisa Morgantini urged the international community stop Israel’s 20-day-old offensive on the Gaza Strip on Thursday. "Hamas will say it has won, Israel will say it has won, but it is we who are dying - justice is dying, the European dream that human rights are universal is dying. " Morgantini returned on Thursday from a visit to the Gaza Strip with a delegation of European parliamentarians. Morgantini believes that "this war is leading Israel to its moral end". She describes people who have lost everything, the wounded who cannot be treated and doctors who are working 24/7. "It’s a tragedy that is unfolding right in front of our eyes and we are doing nothing about it. We must achieve a cease fire and the opening of all border crossings as soon as possible" continues Morgantini.

Venezuela breaks off Israel ties
Al Jazeera 1/15/2009
Venezuela has joined Bolivia in severing ties with Israel in protest against its war in the Gaza Strip, which has left more than 1,000 Palestinians dead. "Venezuela. . . has decided to break off diplomatic relations with the state of Israel given the inhumane persecution of the Palestinian people," the foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, decided to expel Israel’s ambassador and embassy staff last week because of the offensive, calling the Israeli onslaught a "holocaust". Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia and a close ally of Chavez, said that he would seek to get senior Israeli officials, including Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, charged with "genocide" in the International Criminal Court.

Venezuela, Bolivia break diplomatic ties with Israel
Middle East Online 1/15/2009
CARACAS - Venezuela and Bolivia on Wednesday broke diplomatic ties with Israel over its deadly military offensive in the Gaza Strip and refusal to comply with international calls for a ceasefire, their leftist governments said. "The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in accordance with its vision of world peace, in solidarity and respect for human rights, has decided to definitively break diplomatic ties with Israel," a government statement said. Caracas said it made its decision due to the "cruel persecution of the Palestinian people directed by Israeli authorities. " "Israel has systematically ignored United Nations (ceasefire) calls, repeatedly and unashamedly violating approved resolutions. . . and placing itself increasingly outside international law," the statement added. Israel’s "repugnant attack on the civilian population (in Gaza) is a perfect example of Israel’s repeated used of state terrorism.

Hamas hails Bolivian step in severing relations with Israel
Palestinian Information Center 1/15/2009
Evo Morales (left)GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas has hailed the Bolivian step in severing diplomatic relations with Israel in protest over the brutal war it was launching for three weeks now against the Gaza Strip. A responsible source in the Hamas Movement said in a statement on Wednesday that Bolivia and Venezuela had taken honorable stands in face of this cruel aggression. He added that his Movement was surprised at the fact that a number of Arab countries are still insisting on retaining relations with Israel despite the savage crimes it was and still is committing against the Palestinian people. For its part, the Hamas-affiliated change and reform parliamentary bloc in the PLC has appreciated the Bolivian president’s courageous step in siding with the Palestinian people in face of the Israeli "Nazi" crimes against children and women.

Media ragging on Vatican’s relationship with Israel, says British-Israeli Rabbi
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
Despite recent appearances, Israel’s relationship with the Vatican has not deteriorated, asserts Dr. Rabbi David Rosen, an acknowledged authority on the subject. The recent image of a troubled relationship, according to the U. K. -born scholar and rabbi from Jerusalem, owes in part to a statement by the Pope’s justice minister, Cardinal Renato Martino, who last week sharply criticized Israel’s actions in Gaza and likened the Strip to a "big concentration camp. " While the statement received ample coverage, Rosen - who this week gave a lecture on related issues to the Israel, Britain and the Commonwealth Association - noted that the Vatican’s official announcement distancing the Pope from Martino’s words got less attention. Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi - who speaks for the Pope - called Martino’s choice of words "inopportune," and said they created "irritation and confusion" more than illumination.

Pope, JNF head agree Jews and Christians should work together for peace
Ehud Zion Waldoks, Jerusalem Post 1/15/2009
Pope Benedict XVI received a delegation from the Jewish National Fund (JNF) on Wednesday in a meeting described as lasting longer than expected. JNF Chairman Efi Stenzler, who headed the delegation, used the pre-planned visit to discuss the Gaza situation and the fight against Hamas, telling Benedict that Jews and Christians should "join forces" and "fight together" against terrorists who sought "the destruction of peace. " Stenzler stressed that Israel merely wanted peace, to which the pope replied, "I too want peace and peace is very important to me. " The visit had been arranged in order to discuss Christian holy sites in Israel, many of which are maintained by the JNF. Benedict is expected to visit in May. "My hope is to use your trip to Israel this year to help build bridges between the Jewish nation and the Christian nation through ecological and environmental. . .

6 ministers to launch ’PR attack’ abroad
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/15/2009
Prime Minister Olmert decides to send ministers abroad to try and change distorted public opinion on Israel in light of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Interior Minister Sheetrit to be sent to Belgium, says ’we are fighting to defend citizens’ safety’ - Israeli ministers will be heading out next week for a ’PR attack’ in foreign media. Ynet has learned that six ministers are scheduled to travel to countries that have a distorted public opinion on Israel’s operation in Gaza in an attempt to change the situation. The ministers will meet with the leaders of foreign countries and appear in local media. The campaign was initiated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is trying to win over international support for Israel’s military operation in the Strip. The ministers to be sent on the mission are Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter.

Young Judaea in Israel to lay off staff in wake of financial crisis, Madoff scam
Raphael Ahren, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
Employees of Young Judaea in Israel are bracing themselves for major cuts - and job losses - in the wake of an unprecedented meeting of the organization’s staff members this week, according to sources close to the organization. Employees learned at the meeting that a financial crisis is forcing Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, to cut $1 million from the YJ in Israel budget, according to the sources. The non-profit runs the largest post-high school program for Diaspora Jews in the country through its Year Course. In addition, Hadassah’s hospital system and college face even bigger budget slashes of $15 million and $6 million, respectively, they said. It was also announced that over 20 employees would be let go, they said. Members of the program’s administrative staff would be fired immediately, while educational staff would be lose their jobs at the end of the school year, they explained.

Riyadh calls emergency Gulf summit Thursday
Middle East Online 1/15/2009
RIYADH - Saudi Arabia has called an emergency summit of Gulf countries in Riyadh on Thursday to discuss the Gaza Strip crisis, state news agency SPA said Wednesday. Leaders of the country’s partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council have "responded favourably" to the invitation and have confirmed "the participation of their country in the summit," the newsagency reported. Saudi King Abdullah called the summit due to escalating tensions "resulting from the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people," SPA said. The GCC groups Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman. The Arab League, meanwhile, suspended efforts to call a summit of its own in Doha and will instead invite Arab foreign ministers to attend a meeting in Kuwait on Friday. The feud between Arab countries on what action to take in support of Hamas has threatened to divert. . .

MIDEAST: GCC in Security-Sympathy Fix Over Gaza
Meena Janardhan, Inter Press Service 1/16/2009
DUBAI, Jan 15 (IPS) - As Israel’s assault on Gaza continues into a third week, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries remain distressed on two fronts -- mounting Arabanger over Palestinian causalities andconcern over Tehran and Tel Aviv using Hamas to settle their differences. The GCC bloc -- comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates -- has criticised Israeli actions as racist and appealed to the international community to respond decisively to stop a catastrophe. But beyond offering aid and empathising with the Palestinians, the GCC has, despite its best efforts, had no diplomatic success in ensuring a ceasefire. The Palestinian-Israeli issue is not only important to the GCC for its political context, but also for the raw nerve it touches among its own people because of the existence of a large population of Palestinian expatriates in the six countries.

Qatari Emir disappointed over lack of quorum for emergency Arab summit
Palestinian Information Center 1/15/2009
DOHA, (PIC)-- The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, has expressed disappointment at the lack of quorum to hold the emergency Arab summit which he called for to discuss the Israeli occupation forces’ devastating aggression on the Gaza Strip that has been ongoing for three weeks. In a speech he delivered Wednesday night to the Arab World, he said that whenever quorum is almost secured it fails to anew. He said it was a shame to reduce discussion of the IOF aggression to a consultative meeting at the sidelines of a previously prepared summit. He asserted that his call for the extraordinary summit was still on and the decision was left to the Arab leaders. Sheikh Hamad said that when he delivered his first speech in which he called for holding the summit the number of Palestinian martyrs was 500 and 2400 wounded but now the number has risen to 1033 martyrs and the wounded to 4560.

Hamas: We expect Arab decisions parallel to the size of Gaza suffering
Palestinian Information Center 1/15/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Wednesday welcomed any Arab official efforts and decisions in parallel with the magnitude of the suffering and the bloody scene in the Gaza Strip, highlighting that the Arab countries’ reluctance to use their pressure cards to end the Israeli war on the Gaza people is no longer justified. In a press statement, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum hailed the efforts aimed to convene an Arab summit on Gaza, stressing at the same time that his Movement would not stop its efforts to get the siege lifted and end the aggression on the Strip. Barhoum underlined that Israel’s attempts to impose its conditions in any political solutions through killing civilians and destroying their homes would be doomed to failure and would not deter the Palestinian resistance from defending its people and safeguard their rights and welfare.

Qatar urges Arab fund for Gaza reconstruction
Middle East Online 1/15/2009
DOHA - Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani called on Thursday for Arab countries to create a fund for Gaza’s reconstruction following 20 days of Israeli shelling that has left much of the Gaza Strip in ruins. Sheikh Hamad pledged his country would contribute 250 million dollars to the fund. In an address shown on Qatari television overnight, he also called on Arab nations to reconsider their diplomatic ties with Israel in response to the Israeli attacks that so far have killed more than 1,000 people in the Hamas-run territory while a further 4,850 people have been wounded. Sheikh Hamad repeated his invitation for Arab countries to hold an extraordinary summit in Doha on Friday to discuss the Gaza onslaught, the fourth such plea since December 28. Arab League Chief Amr Mussa confirmed upon his arrival in Kuwait late on Wednesday that the quorum of 15 to hold a summit in Doha has not been achieved.

Israel’s Gaza Offensive Stokes Anger Among Jordan Elite
Borzou Daragahi, MIFTAH 1/15/2009
Reporting from Amman, Jordan — The boutique sells designer outfits, but the agitated talk among the women in fur coats and leather go-go boots is about politics, specifically Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip. " Everyone around here hates Israel," says Dana Abu Zannnad, the anger rising in her voice. The 31-year-old Jordanian homemaker and her husband, a wealthy businessman, are among the country’s new jet set. They speak English, shop at deluxe malls and travel abroad, many on earnings resulting from Jordan’s status as a jumping-off point for Iraq reconstruction projects. " My husband told me that if there was a war with Israel, he would go and fight," she says. Even among Jordan’s elite, advocates of peace are in short supply these days, supplanted by newly radicalized members of the middle and upper-middle classes, wearing Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses, urging the government to take a harder line against Israel, as well as its primary patron, the United States.

News in Brief - Rabbi: 'war of the people of Israel against Amalek'
Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
The Chief Rabbi of Safed, Rabbi Shmuel Elyahu, visited a Bnei Akiva yeshiva in Ashdod yesterday where he declared the war against Hamas as "a war of the people of Israel against Amalek. "The yeshiva had originally been in the settlement of Neveh Dekalim and was evacuated in 2005 along with similar communities in the Gaza Strip. "This is not a private war of Shmuel and Moshe against Muhammad, but a war of the nation of Israel against those wishing to destroy Jews. This is a [Hamas] war against Judaism and that is how it should be seen. (Nadav Shragai) The Jerusalem District Court yesterday released to house arrest two East Jerusalem residents who are charged with violating censorship restrictions by reporting for Iranian television at the start of the IDF’s ground offensive. The two were released on bail of NIS 150,000 each and the court ruled that they should be under constant supervision.

Unsung Israeli hero risks his life to save Gaza children
Karin Kloosterman, Israel21c, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
With mortars, rockets and bullets flying, Moshe "Moshon" Vaknin, the deputy director for the south district at Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s emergency service, risked his life to bring a Palestinian child out of Gaza and take him to an Israeli hospital for life-saving treatment. Since then, he’s brought out two more wounded Palestinian children for treatment in Israeli hospitals, and last week, was one of a team of medics who drove in to the checkpoint, the most dangerous in Israel and possibly the Middle East, in a special bulletproof ambulance to rescue Palestinian truck drivers, hired by the United Nations, and attacked while delivering humanitarian aid. [end] -- See also: Full Story

Hill of Shame Where Gaza Bombing is Spectator Sport
Yonit Farago and Martin Fletcher, MIFTAH 1/15/2009
In times of peace Parash Hill is a beauty spot where Israelis from the nearby town of Sderot come to picnic and enjoy the magnificent view across a nature reserve and bright green fields to distant Gaza City and, beyond, the deep blue Mediterranean. There are benches for sightseers, a swing, a sculpture of a man on horseback and fences to stop children tumbling down the steep northern slope. Today the hill attracts a very different sort of visitor — the ghoulish and vengeful, the curious and anguished, not to mention television crews. They come not to enjoy the flowers or birdsong, but for a spectacular panoramic view of Israel’s relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip. It is, for those that like that sort of thing, the ultimate spectator sport. Armed with binoculars and zoom lenses, they watch F16 aircraft streak across the sky, trailing flares, before unleashing their missiles on one of the distant white buildings.

At Cairo Hospital, Injured Palestinians Increasingly Voice Support for Hamas
Sudarsan Raghavan, MIFTAH 1/15/2009
CAIRO -- At Nasser hospital here in the Egyptian capital, the sound of Palestinian Arabic spills out from rooms and floats through the corridors of the fourth floor. "God is great, God is great," Ahmed Hussein, 25, said to a weeping Egyptian woman, one of a stream of visitors coming to pay their respects to those injured by Israeli airstrikes. " May God make you be victorious," she said. "I cannot stand what is happening to your people. " Neither, apparently, can Hussein, a Palestinian policeman whose right arm was broken when Israeli missiles hit his police academy Dec. 27. Hussein voted for Hamas in the last election but said he never joined their militia. That’s about to change. " I want to go back and fight with Hamas," he said. A cornerstone of Israel’s strategy in Gaza is to crush Hamas’s will to fight, especially its determination to fire rockets into southern Israel.

Court: No more wall separating Ashkenazim, Sephardim
Kobi Nahshoni Published, YNetNews 1/15/2009
Petition filed with High Court about more than a year ago after haredi school was suspected of ethnic discrimination. Judges rule courtyard wall separating Ashkenazi, Sephardic students must be taken down - After a year of deliberations, High Court Justices Edmond Levi, Hanan Meltzer and Edna Arbel ordered the Beit Yaakov religious school and the Independent Education Center to nullify within a week all discriminatory practices and protocols that separate between Ashkenazi and Sephardic students, including the removal of a wall in the school’s courtyard, unifying the two teachers’ rooms meant for two different "learning tracks" and cancellation of the unlawful levies on parents of students in the "Ashkenazi-Hasidic track. " In the decision handed down by the court, it was also decided that the Emanuel Regional Council is to present an arrangement acceptable to all parties for. . .

Search reveals only 2 Katyushas fired Wednesday
Hagai Einav Published, YNetNews 1/15/2009
UN force in Lebanon assists investigation refuting assumption that three rockets were fired at north -An investigation conducted on the northern border Thursday revealed that only two rockets were fired towards the Galilee on Wednesday, and not three, as had been reported by residents in the area. A UNIFIL investigation Wednesday in southern Lebanon prevented an additional attack by revealing three Katyushas aimed at Israel. At around 8:30 am alarms sounded in Kiryat Shmona, Metula, and the surrounding communities. Residents reported of a cloud of smoke seen near Kiryat Shmona and of blasts heard in the area. Four women suffered shock, including a 15-year old. Students studying in local schools were ordered to enter bomb shelters, and rescue and security forces began searching for landing sites of the rockets.

War casts pall on Israeli business overseas, tourism
Ora Coren, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
Operation Cast Lead is taking a toll on Israeli business overseas. Although there have been no reported cancelations of existing deals, the union of Turkish cooperatives, affiliated with the Turkish Agriculture Ministry, announced on its Web site yesterday it would place an embargo on financing purchases from Israel. The organization offers subsidies to farmers in place of the state agricultural bank. With such an embargo, Turkish farmers will prefer to buy their agricultural supplies from other sources. Israel’s commercial attache in Turkey, Doron Abrahami, said that although it is very difficult to develop new business in Turkey, no cancelations of existing contracts had been reported. Turkeys government rejected pressure from MPs to cancel security contracts with Israel. Nevertheless, the Israel Manufacturers Association recently reported that 30 furniture manufacurers canceled a trip to Istanbul in view of safety concerns.

Expert: Worst drought in 80 years faces Israel
Zafrir Rinat, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
Though there are still more than two months left in the rainy season, the writing is already on the wall: Expect another dry winter that will worsen the state of Israel’s water economy. To date, most parts of the country have received only 60 to 80 percent of their normal rainfall for this time of year. The situation is particularly grave around Lake Kinneret, which is Israel’s principal water source. The last time the lake was this low, six years ago, we were saved by an exceptionally rainy February that raised the water level by several meters in the space of a few weeks. The chances of that happening a second time, however, are slim. And barring such an occurrence, the lake is likely to remain so low as to virtually preclude pumping from it. On Wednesday, Water Authority director Prof. Uri Shani told the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee that, so far, this has been the driest January since regular rainfall measurements began.

Farmers brace for cutbacks
Amiram Cohen, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
Growers are expected to be among the worst hit by the impending water crisis as reductions in water allocations are expected to leave fields brown and consumers looking overseas for produce. The winter of 2008 may be the driest in the last 80 years, adding to the most severe water crisis in Israel’s history. Fruit and vegetable prices are expected to soar, the Water Authority is planning to dry out parks and watering private gardens may be forbidden. Only 50 percent of the average perennial rainfall for this time of year (mid-January) was recorded in the southern coastal plain, 55 percent in the Rosh Pina and Hula Valley and 70 percent in the central coastal plain. The water allocation to farmers will be slashed again this year - following the sixth consecutive "dry" winter - reaching a mere 65 percent of the amount they had ten years ago, and will not make up for the rainwater shortage.

State wants to replace Thai farmworkers with Sudanese
Amiram Cohen, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
The government wants some of the Sudanese refugees living in Israel to replace workers from Thailand on the country’s farms. The idea was among several proposed during a recent meeting between farmers and representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office. The farmers shot down the idea, saying that all of the attempts made so far to employ the refugees from Sudan have failed because the Sudanese do not want to do farm work. According to the farmers, all of the Sudanese refugees hired to work on farms left after a few days and found less demanding jobs in the center of the country. State officials also proposed reducing the number of foreign workers in agriculture by 2,400, or 10% of the total. The director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, Ra’anan Dinur, is expected to put this proposal to a cabinet vote on Sunday.

Miami sale falls through for Africa-Israel
Sharon Baider, Globes Online 1/15/2009
The buyer apparently claimed "force majeure", which let the US company back out. Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE:AFIL ; Pink Sheets:AFIVY. PK ) reported today that a deal to sell an undeveloped property in Miami, Florida fell through. The 24,427 square meter lot, known as "Block 42", was going to be sold to a US company for $88. 7 million. According to Africa-Israel, the buyer claimed "force majeure", a claim which grants the company the option to back out of the deal. It appears that the occurrence that the buyer claimed was "force majeure" was a local municipality refusal to allow a tunnel to be built under the property, which made the deal not worthwhile for the buyer. Africa-Israel, headed by Lev Leviev, said today that based on legal consultations, it does not intend to return the $18 million deposit it received.

Leumi warns of NIS 30 billion tax shortfall
Yael Gruntman, Globes Online 1/15/2009
While tax revenues have been falling for several months, the fourth quarter of 2008 was particularly bad. Economists at Bank Leumi(TASE: LUMI) warn that the government’s current tax revenue estimate is much too optimistic, and that actual collections will be more than NIS 30 billion lower. In its weekly review, Leumi notes that along with high government expenditure, tax collections continued to drop in December. While tax revenues have been falling for several months, the fourth quarter of 2008, and December in particular, was particularly bad. The economists claim that the tax revenue estimate, NIS 189. 2 billion, on which the 2009 budget was based, is much too high, since it was based on economic activity from the first half of 2008 a level to which the economy is not expected to return in 2009.

Israeli programmers design management system for Palestinian hospitals
David Shamah, ISRAEL21c, Globes Online 1/15/2009
The program is being developed by a Bnei Brak company whose staff is made up of ultra-Orthodox women. While the news is full of stories of war, missiles, and bombings, an Israeli company is developing a new system that will enable Palestinian Authority (PA) hospitals to more easily and efficiently take care of patients. It’s a twist to the story we usually hear about relations between Israel and the PA. And here’s an even bigger twist: The program is being developed by a Bnei Brak company whose staff is made up of ultra-Orthodox women. It sounds like a co-existence fairy tale, but that’s exactly what’s happening at i-Rox, an Israeli software development house that has built applications for dozens of clients in Israel and abroad. In its latest project, i-Rox is developing a medical administration program for the PA, to be installed, in its first stage, in hospitals in Ramallah and Bethlehem, and later on in other hospitals.

Homeowners still awaiting compensation from Lebanon war
Orly Vilnai, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
Every time Shmuel Yitzhak passes the closed door of his grocery store on Moshav Alkosh his heart misses a beat. Yitzhak, 80, worked in his store for almost 30 years until a Katyusha rocket hit the store in the Second Lebanon War, shattered doors and windows and destroyed some of the stock. But while the rocket damages can be fixed, the bureaucratic ordeal that the property tax officials are putting him through seems endless. This week Yitzhak appealed to the State Comptroller for help. Yitzhak deserves compensation fees of NIS 70,000, which would enable him to reopen the store. So far he has been compensated for structural damages, but the stock that was destroyed and spoiled is another story. Yitzhak has sent permits to property tax authorities, wrote letters and made telephone calls, but his case keeps being transferred from one official to another.

IDF booster group chucks children’s letters to soldiers
Yanir Yagna, Ha’aretz 1/16/2009
If you’re planning on sending a package of goodies or a letter to a soldier on the frontline via the Soldiers’ Welfare Association, be advised it may not reach its destination - at least not the way you sent it. The Soldiers’ Welfare Association, which is responsible for sending letters and packages from civilians to soldiers at the front, apparently empties the packages, repacks the contents and sends them on without the senders’ letters, Haaretz has learned. Bar Hamdani, a fifth-grade student in Bat Yam’s Ben-Gurion school, sent a package with his classmates together with a letter to an Israel Defense Forces soldier in the Gaza Strip. "To the brave soldier somewhere in the south," he wrote. "I hope you’re looking after yourself and wish you success in your mission. The whole nation blesses you and the other brave soldiers.

Poll shows Netanyahu sitting pretty
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 1/15/2009
The right-haredi block has a decisive majority, but the Likud’s extreme right wingers are out. Despite the successes of Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, under a government of the Kadima and Labor parties, led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak, most Israelis would like to see Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu installed as prime minister on February 11. A "Globes" survey, in collaboration with Geocartography, managed by Prof. Avi Degani, predicts a sweeping victory for Netanyahu and the right-haredi (ultra-orthodox) block in the coming elections if they were held today, and gives Likud 33 out the 120 Knesset seats. Contrary to other polls published in the last 24 hours, that project a close race between Kadima and Likud and a stalemate between the left and right, the Globes survey gives the right-haredi block 67 Knesset seats, and the center-left block 53 seats.

Color Red, White House, Green Line
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 1/15/2009
About a month ago, without the government of Israel noticing (indeed, as far as is known, without it having any idea about such activity, which had been moving in this direction for the past year), the U. S. administration demarcated the Green Line. Its intelligence agencies analyzed, marked and drew Israel’s eastern border - the armistice line that had been in place until June 5, 1967. The Annapolis process is not dead. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will continue it, equipped with a blueprint left by Condoleezza Rice, which is intended to set the border between Israel and the future Palestinian state. The Israelis missed the signals sent by Rice. In an interview to the French news agency AFP on December 22, she said, "And on the settlements, I think we’ve made stronger statements about the Israeli settlements than at any other time in American - for an American administration. "

In the interest of justice
Gidi Weitz, Ha’aretz 1/15/2009
Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer saw the war coming. Long before the Israel Air Force rained down bombs on Gaza, Kremnitzer, a professor of criminal law at the Hebrew University, the leading Israeli authority on public corruption and the chairman of the "arrangements committee" of the New Movement-Meretz party, believed that since the disengagement from the Gaza Strip three years ago, Israel has behaved with brute force toward the population there and was effectively steering the conflict toward an armed clash. "Israel’s actions regarding the Gaza Strip in the past few years have been completely devoid of logic," he asserts. "In practice, we allowed the Palestinians an existence slightly above the level that averts a humanitarian crisis, no more. "Why did we take this line? Kremnitzer: "It stems from the mistaken conception that the Palestinian population will get fed up with the Hamas government. . . "


Eighty-six percent of those killed in Gaza were civilians
Press release, Al Mezan, Electronic Intifada 1/14/2009
      The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has continued its aggression against the Gaza Strip for the 19th day. Al Mezan Center’s monitoring revealed that the IOF has escalated its attacks on civilian targets. Until today, the vast majority of the casualties are non-combatants. Only 13.9 percent of the total casualties were fighters (137 men). According to Al Mezan Center’s monitoring, as of 1pm today, the number of Palestinians killed by the IOF during Operation Cast Lead has risen to 979. Of those, 206 were children and 70 were women. Seven of the medical teams members and three journalists were also killed. Moreover, at least 3,527 have been injured, including 760 children and 448 women.
     Between 1pm yesterday and 1pm today, the IOF killed 47 Palestinians around the Gaza Strip. Fifteen of those were children and four were women. One hundred and forty-five people were admitted at hospital from injuries, including 32 children and 18 women.
     It should be noted that the number of casualties is expected to increase as the IOF continues its attacks. There are also many people who have not yet been identified or found, although survivors’ testimonies indicate that dozens are still under the rubble of their destroyed houses in areas under IOF control.

The Power of Language, and Silence in Gaza
Timothy Seidel, Palestine Chronicle 1/15/2009
      ’U.S. complicity has never been more evident.’
     The Israeli offensive into Gaza continues this morning with devastating effects for Palestinians across the Gaza Strip. Say what you will, but the military strategy that has marked Israel’s "Operation Cast Lead," clearly only hurts Gaza’s civilian population.
     With much of the water supply and sewage system dependent on electricity, and the impact on hospitals and limited supplies, the damage to civilian infrastructure raises serious medical concerns and unmasks this campaign of collective punishment of the Palestinian people - a predictable and uncreative display of Israeli military might over and against 1.5 million poor Palestinians. These are actions clearly in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory. And with more than a thousand Palestinians killed and the death toll rising, thousands wounded, Gaza’s children severely traumatized, and Gaza’s population without reliable electricity, the obvious disproportionality of the Israeli military response only underscores its unacceptability.

Gaza diary: To die with hope
Mohammed Ali in Gaza City, Al Jazeera 1/15/2009
      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.
     "If I die now, at least I’ll die with hope."
     This morning, I heard people chanting outside, I wondered what it was, and then, the lights came on - the electricity had come back on; hurrah!
     I immediately turned on the television, charged my phone, checked emails. For a moment, I felt somewhat liberated. These things that we often take for granted have become so precious of late.
     Solidarity and trust
     We have no clean water left. Our water tank is empty. My father could not turn away the increasing amount of people knocking at our door with empty jerry cans in hand. He did not realise how much water he had given out until it was too late.
     Shops are running out of clean water; we were not able to find any in our neighbourhood. We can use the untreated water but we should really boil it first to avoid getting sick, but we face another obstacle; we have very little gas left.

It was like 'The Day After'
Dr. Asad Abu Sharekh writing from Gaza City, occupied Gaza, Electronic Intifada 1/15/2009
      The Electronic Intifada correspondent Rami Almeghari obtained the following testimony from Dr. Asad Abu Sharekh in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City, which is receiving the brunt of Israel’s military force, via telephone with the assistance of
     Since last night from about 8pm until a little while ago, there have been heavy battles in Tal al-Hawa.
     They were hitting from the sea, from the air. Tanks were shooting. There were thick clouds of white phosphorus filling the area and filling up houses.
     They bombed the Red Crescent building and many cars in the street were destroyed. An apartment near me was hit and burned and one on the other side.
     A number of tall buildings were hit. All the windows and doors are broken and shattered. There were maybe 10 bombs falling every minute.
     It was like in that film The Day After [a 1983 movie depicting life immediately after a nuclear war].
     Israel used all its weapons. Apaches, F-16s, every F they have. Tanks seemed to be coming from every direction, even from the direction of the sea.

Gazans tell of ordeal as war rages
Al Jazeera 1/15/2009
      With more than 1,000 Palestinians dead amid Israel’s war on Gaza - more than 300 of them children - Al Jazeera spoke to citizens of the territory struggling to surivive under the Israeli offensive.
     Moussa el-Haddad, a doctor at Shifa hospital in Gaza City
     "We hear screams over the radio from people injured in the streets asking for emergency help, but paramedics can’t reach them and, besides, the hospitals are overcrowded.
     Even those killed can’t be reached.
     I’m telling you, Gaza is on fire. Everyone on this piece of land is under attack. In this time and age, I can’t believe the world is watching and no one is doing anything.
     I don’t understand Ban Ki-moon is making trips from here to there. Why doesn’t he help stop this bloody war?"
     A mother who lost her only son
     "They [Israeli soldiers] opened fire at us.
     My son Faris was killed in my arms.
     I couldn’t have children for 21 years after marriage until God gave me this child."

At the Bedside of a Badly Wounded Girl in Gaza
Yasser Ahmad and Jeffrey Fleishman, MIFTAH 1/15/2009
      Reporting from The Gaza Strip and Jerusalem -- She was a girl with cuts on her face, lying in a hospital bed near her mother.
     Hours earlier, before dawn in the Gaza Strip town of Khoza, the Israeli soldiers came and the firefights and shelling rattled and shook the darkness. Everyone without a gun scattered. Ambulances moved out to collect the wounded.
     Fourteen-year-old Alaa Khalid ran with her mother and brother to hide. There was a boom and she remembered nothing until she woke up in a bed at the Nasser Hospital. The doctors bandaged her face; but something else, something inside her, was wrong.
     The battle between Israeli forces and Hamas militants burned hard in Khoza. Alaa was not the only one who needed aid. There were splintered houses, other victims, those not swift enough.
     Some distance from Alaa’s hospital window, a woman lay dying in the street. As nurses tended to Alaa, an ambulance driver, Marwan abu Reida, rushed to save the woman. He was shot at, he said later, as he sped over the streets.

My message to the West -- Israel must stop the slaughter
Ismail Haniyeh, The Independent 1/15/2009
      I write this article to Western readers across the social and political spectrum as the Israeli war machine continues to massacre my people in Gaza. To date, almost 1,000 have been killed, nearly half of whom are women and children. Last week’s bombing of the UNRWA (UN Relief Works Agency) school in the Jabalya refugee camp was one of the most despicable crimes imaginable, as hundreds of civilians had abandoned their homes and sought refuge with the international agency only to be mercilessly shelled and bombed by Israel. Forty-six children and women were killed in that heinous attack while scores were injured.
     Evidently, Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 did not end its occupation nor, as a result, its international obligations as an occupying power. It continued to control and dominate our borders by land, sea and air. Indeed the UN has confirmed that between 2005 and 2008, the Israeli army killed nearly 1,250 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children. For most of that period the border crossings have remained effectively closed, with only limited quantities of food, industrial fuel, animal feed and a few other essential items, allowed in.

Israel fires on UN agency headquarters, civilians fleeing violence
Press release, Al Mezan, Electronic Intifada 1/15/2009
      1pm Gaza Time (+2hrs GMT) The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has seriously escalated its attacks on the Gaza Strip since midnight yesterday, as it advanced into Tel al-Hawa neighborhood southern Gaza City, and heavily bombarded the neighborhoods of al-Shejaiya and al-Tuffah in the east of the City. Al Mezan Center’s monitoring indicates that about 70 percent of IOF’s attacks casualties of these attacks are from families who were hit inside their homes or as they left their homes to flee these areas. Most of the other victims were also civilians. According to the field reports of Al Mezan, out of the 48 casualties of these attacks, three were fighters. Entire families were killed from IOF’s artillery shelling.
     Between 1pm yesterday, Wednesday 14 January 2009, and 1pm today, Thursday 15 January 2009, the IOF killed 102 people in the Gaza Strip. Of them were 29 children and 11 women. Al Mezan’s monitoring also indicates that the IOF has killed 1,081 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since the start of its Operation Cast Lead on 27 December 2008. This includes at least 235 children and 81 women. The number of casualties is expected to be higher, since Al Mezan only reports on the cases which it has been able to verify. Moreover, 3,683 people have been injured, including at least 786 children and 460 women.

All Of Our Humanity Is At Stake
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 1/15/2009
      The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has documented death and destruction across the Gaza Strip throughout the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) ongoing military operation in the Gaza Strip. Since December 27, 2008, the IOF have killed at least 983 Palestinians in Gaza. 85% of the victims are civilians, and 35% of them are children. In addition, more than four thousand Palestinians in Gaza have been maimed and injured by IOF. Thousands of civilian objects, including homes and schools have been destroyed. The UN estimates that 35,500 civilians are now being housed in shelters it is providing for internally displaced civilians across the Gaza Strip.
     As thousands of IOF surge into Gaza City amidst intense bombardment and shelling, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians are now sheltering in homes, schools and other buildings, in fear for their lives. Reports indicate that the headquarters of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) compound in Gaza city has been shelled, that Al Quds Hospital in Gaza city, which is within the compound of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) is now on fire, and that IOF are also surrounding the
     Al Aqsa Hospital in Gaza city. However, PCHR staff are unable to verify these reports as they too are now sheltering in their homes, and homes of friends and relatives in fear for their lives.

Israeli forces use Palestinians as human shields
Abu al-Sous (Salah Mansour, Palestine News Network 1/15/2009
      During the Israeli war on Gaza, Western media propagated Israeli propaganda that the Palestinian resistance have been using their family members as human shields. Sadly, Israeli propaganda is often presented in Western media as facts, and the Israeli version has been accepted with little verification. The goal is simple: dehumanise the Palestinian by showing that he does not care about his family members, and once that is done it becomes much easier to accept him as a legitimist target.
     This dehumanizing campaign is as old as the Zionist movement; it was articulated by Golda Meir (a former Israeli Prime Minister) when she said: Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us. This racist and derogatory comment is often propagated in Western media without a second thought to its dehumanizing consequences. It paints the Arab as a sub-human creature, who has neither affection nor love towards his or her children. When I first heard this racist comment from an American, I felt as if he was telling me: "you are not much of a human as I&quot.
     To this date, the Israel Occupation Army (IOF) still refuses to comply with orders from the Israeli Supreme Court to stop using Palestinian civilians as human shields (click here for a BBC article about this subject). If the IOF is a "professional army" as it claims and it treats Palestinians according to International Law, then.

In the rockets’ red glare
Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 1/15/2009
      The earth shaking under your feet, clouds of choking smoke, explosions like a fireworks display, bombs bursting into all-consuming flames that cannot be extinguished with water, mushroom clouds of pinkish-red smoke, suffocating gas, harsh burns on the skin, extraordinary maimed live and dead bodies. All of this is being caused by the bombs Israel is dropping on the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, according to reports and testimonies from there. Since the first day of the Israeli aerial attack, people have been giving exact descriptions of the side effects of the bombing, and claiming that Israel is using weapons and ammunition that they have not seen during the past eight years. Furthermore, the kinds of grave injuries doctors at hospitals in the Strip have reported are providing yet another explanation for the overwhelming dread inhabitants are experiencing in any case.
     It is precisely for this reason that Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch (HRW), has come to Israel. His mission: to examine whether the weapons that both sides are using are themselves legal and whether the use of them is legal. The American-born Garlasco has not been permitted to enter Gaza - as is also the case with people from other human rights organizations and foreign journalists. Therefore, he says, since he is unable to examine actual remnants of the explosives and see the wreckage with his own eyes, he can only guess or make assumptions in some cases. But even from afar, he has no doubt: Israel is using white phosphorus bombs. That was immediately clear to him while he stood last week on a hill facing the Gaza Strip and observed the Israel Defense Forces’ bombings for several hours.
     .....Gazans have noticed that there are bombs that produce mushroom clouds in various shades of red. Here, Garlasco admits, "I can only speculate. It looks like Israel is maybe using a new weapon that it was not using before: DIME - the dense inert metal explosive, consisting of 25 percent TNT and 75 percent tungsten, a heavy metal. You mix the two, in a fine grain, like pepper, and when the bomb hits the ground it aerosolizes. In less than a second, the mist dissipates and explodes."

No Win for Israel on Any Front
Iqbal Jassat – South Africa, Palestine Chronicle 1/15/2009
      ’Lets end the Palestinian nightmare.’
     It’s pretty well known that the Israeli massacre of Palestinians could only happen with the complicit approval of leading actors on the international stage. These are not confined to the West only. Arab, Asian and African leaders are guilty too for having turned a blind eye to these atrocious killings of women, children, the elderly and the infirm.
     It’s expected that the Anglo/American axis will not only appear to be seemingly "helpless", but that their role in subverting the Palestinian freedom struggle as "terrorism", encourages these gut-wrenching massacres. Thus, the so-called legitimacy of America’s discredited "war on terror", which is being vigorously debated in various academic circles and policy research units, is the same kind of dubious "legitimacy" which Israel is clinging to. This proverbial clutching of straws does not bode well for the Olmert regime, for evidently, misguided policies such as these have placed Israel at the edge of the cliff.
     What does it mean? It implies that with the imminent failure of shot-gun practices of the type that has allowed the US and Israel to ignore, defy and manipulate International Conventions, coupled with the unprecedented global fury at Zionist violation of fundamental human rights, Israel is likely to implode. Such an internal implosion will result in the end of Israel as the world knows it. Already voices critical of Israeli state terrorism have grown louder within the colonial-settler state. And these voices belong to Jewish academics, journalists, activists and others.

Israel Gives War Crimes a New Face
Joharah Baker, MIFTAH 1/14/2009
      Gaza hospitals have recently reported incoming patients with severe burns on their bodies, sometimes down to the bone.
     It is literally mindboggling for Palestinians to see how some people still need convincing that what Israel is perpetrating in the Gaza Strip is nothing short of war crimes. What more needs to happen for this to be an indisputable fact? It can’t be the death and injury of more civilians – dead mothers and children, young girls with their legs blown off, babies with bandaged heads and little boys with no eyes. No, the sheer number of civilian casualties over the past 19 days in Gaza cannot possibly need upping in order for the picture to be clearer than it already is. What seems inconceivable to many, this writer included, is why the term "war crimes" is not being used at every turn in describing Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip.
     Just so there is no confusion, a brief recap on what constitutes a war crime may be in order here.
     "According to the International Criminal Court, war crimes include grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and other serious violations of the laws and customs that can be applied in international armed conflict…when they are committed as part of a plan or policy or on a large scale."

Israel bars Arab parties from election
Jonathan Cook, Electronic Intifada 1/14/2009
      The only three Arab parties represented in the Israeli parliament vowed yesterday to fight a decision by the Central Elections Committee to bar them from running in next month’s general election.
     In an unprecedented move signaling a further breakdown in Jewish-Arab relations inside Israel, all the main Jewish parties voted on Monday for the blanket disqualification. Several committee members equated the Arab parties’ vocal support for the Gazan people with support for terrorism.
     The decision follows the arrest of at least 600 Arab demonstrators since the outbreak of the Gaza offensive and the interrogation by the secret police of dozens of Arab community leaders. The three parties -- the National Democratic Assembly, the United Arab List and the Renewal Movement -- have seven legislators out of a total of 120 in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.
     The elections committee barred all three from putting up candidates for the 10 February election on the grounds that they had violated a 2002 law by refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and by supporting a terrorist organization.

Apartheid Roads ’Promoting Settlements, Punishing Palestinians’
Ma'an Development Center, MIFTAH 1/15/2009
      Today Israeli-only roads across the West Bank have become a defining feature of the apartheid policies implemented by Israel in the Palestinian territories. In addition to violating Palestinians’ freedom of movement and access, with serious repercussions for health, education and livelihoods, the apartheid roads have consolidated and strengthened the presence of Israeli colonies across the West Bank, ensuring superior access for settlers at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians. The consequences include an inability to access core services and increased forced displacement pressures for Palestinians.
     The impact of the apartheid roads, however, extends beyond their humanitarian consequences as they destroy both the economic and political prospects of the Palestinian people.
     The territorial fragmentation created by the roads is according to UN OCHA, ‘at the root of the West Bank’s declining economy,’2 while their continued construction is making a just solution to the illegal occupation increasingly difficult to envisage. In fact, although Israel’s occupation policies have led to analogies being drawn with South African apartheid, as a number of commentators have noted, the presence of these roads represents a situation much worse than the apartheid in South Africa... -- See also: Full Report (PDF - 4 MB)

The champions of missed opportunities
Avraham Burg, Ha’aretz 1/15/2009
      The day is approaching when we will long for these Hamasniks. One day we will wonder why we didn’t talk to these Hamas leaders. At the same time, we will be faced with much larger threats. It is clear to me that this is a bitter lesson of history.
     Sari Nusseibeh gives me a lesson on one chapter of history in his memoir, "Once Upon a Country." His life story, which is written with precise, even noble, elegance, is a mirror of our missed opportunities. It is a rebuttal of the patronizing Israeli assertion that "the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."
     With a sharp pin, Nusseibeh bursts our balloon and says: Here are all the opportunities that the Israelis have missed. When that cursed war ended, the Six-Day War, we immediately expelled the supporters of the Jordanian king, and since then we have never stopped longing for them. We concocted local leaderships to avoid dealing with the nobility of Jerusalem, Ramallah and Nablus, and how much do we today miss Faisal Husseini and other Palestinian leaders who have since come and gone?

’A dark fog has enveloped us’
Paul Kaye, The Guardian 1/16/2009
      When a rocket killed his mother-in-law in Israel, actor Paul Kaye was appalled by the celebrations in Gaza. Six months on, he feels a different kind of despair.
     I had to hold my 17-year-old son down on the bed after he heard the news. His strength really shocked me. I was gripping his upper arms as tightly as I could to hold him flat on the bed, but he was spitting with rage, tears streaming down his face. I was shouting, "Stop! Please stop!" but he was pushing up at me hard, his face twisting like his body underneath me. He was fighting with everything he had in order to be able to get up, run down the stairs and get out of the house. All I knew at that moment was that I couldn’t let him leave. We were in his bedroom in London and I had just given him the news that his grandmother had been blown to pieces by a rocket in Israel. Jordy had lost his other grandmother five months earlier to cancer. This time there was someone to blame.
     Our pain and his rage opened a window up for me on to what is happening in Gaza. There are thousands and thousands of young men who have experienced - or are experiencing - that rage in Gaza and the West Bank, and their fathers and grandfathers have no doubt experienced it too. When I heard in the days that followed Shuli’s death that they handed out sweets in Gaza to celebrate the fact that the rocket had hit a target, I was appalled. Now with all I have seen over the last two weeks in Gaza, part of me feels: why wouldn’t they celebrate?