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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
16 January, 2008

Israel continues hammering civilians in Gaza
Middle East Online 1/16/2009
GAZA CITY - Israeli troops again pounded Gaza on Friday after Hamas offered a conditional truce amid a diplomatic push to end the war that has killed more than 1,100 Palestinians, a third of which children. The Israeli army locked down the occupied West Bank for 48 hours after Hamas called for a day of "wrath" against the offensive in Gaza that on Thursday saw of its interior minister Said Siam, killed in an air strike. A day after Israeli raids set landmark buildings ablaze in Gaza’s main city, the Israeli military pummelled the territory with some 40 air strikes, the army said. In the pre-dawn hours, Israeli tanks withdrew from the Gaza City neighbourhood of Tal Al-Hawa, where Israel the previous day levelled parts of the residential area and set a hospital ablaze. Medics rushed into the area, the site that sent hundreds of terrified civilians fleeing for safety.

US and Israel agree Gaza deal
Al Jazeera 1/17/2009
Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister and her US counterpart, Condoleezza Rice, have signed an agreement aimed at preventing arms smuggling into Gaza for the Palestinian group Hamas. Livni, who travelled to Washington DC, the US capital, on Friday for the signing, said both sides had agreed on a "series of actions" in the memorandum of understanding to halt weapons smuggling. Rice said at the signing ceremony that the move, coupled with other current international diplomatic efforts, would "contribute to a durable ceasefire". Livni said that the memorandum was "a vital component for the cessation of hostilities" and that Israel had shown restraint for years under Hamasrocket attacks. However, she said Hamas had held "Gaza hostage" and had to pay "a high price for terror".

Israeli rights group reports soldiers fire on and kill women waving white flag
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem published a report Thursday describing the death of a Palestinian woman in Gaza. The woman, fearing for the safety of her family, left her home carrying a white flag, and was shot by Israeli soldiers. According to the rights group, Israeli officials denied the report. The incident took place in the town of Huza’ah, located east of Khan Younis early Tuesday morning as Israeli troops were entering and destroying homes in the area. B’Tselem quoted eyewitnesses as saying 50-year-old Ravhiya An-Najar left her home waving a white flag, hoping to secure the safe passage of her family from the area. As soon as she stepped outside the front door of the home she was shot. She continued to wave the white flag to indicate that there were no armed men in the area, said the report, but then one of the bullets struck her head and killed her.

Syria urges full Arab boycott of Israel as divisions deepen over Gaza
Ian Black, Middle East editor, The Guardian 1/16/2009
President Assad says 2002 Arab League initiative no longer valid and urges member states to sever ties with Tel Aviv - Arab divisions over the Gaza crisis were dramatically underlined again today when Syria, the chief backer of the Palestinian group Hamas, called a groundbreaking peace plan dead and urged Arab states to sever all ties with Israel. Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, told like-minded leaders meeting in the Gulf state of Qatar that the 2002 Arab peace initiative, backed by the entire 22-member Arab League, was no longer valid. Syria had already announced an end to its own talks with Israel, brokered by Turkey and focusing on the Golan Heights. The Arab initiative promises recognition of Israel in return for a withdrawal to the 1967 borders and a just settlement of the Palestinian problem. It is widely considered to be the only basis on which a comprehensive Middle East

48 dead as strikes hit homes sheltering dozens of displaced Gazans - Mother and five children dead - 1,169 dead total
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Shortly after eight Friday evening Israeli airstrikes hit several sectors of the Gaza Strip simultaneously, killing at least 14, ten from the same home east of Gaza City. The death toll for Friday is at 48; the total death toll since Israel launched its first airstrikes on Gaza on 27 December is 1,169 including at leat 370 children, and 85 women. There have been more than 5,015 injured in the attacks including at least 1,745 children. 8:15pmIsraeli strikes in the Ash-Shujaieyahof eastern Gaza City killed ten in one home, and another four north of the city in Jabaliyah. A third airstrike in the As-Saftawi area north of Gaza City killed an as yet unknown number of Palestinians, since medical crews have been unable to reach the area. 7:00pm A mother and her five children from the Al-Batran family were killed Friday afternoon in an Israeli airstrike. . .

Ramallah Minister of Health denounces Israeli attacks on Palestinian Red Crescent
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian Minister of Health in the caretaker government Fathi Abu Moghli denounced the Israeli attacks on the Palestinian Red Crescent buildings in Gaza including the Al-Quds hospital and the society’s warehouses. He added in a statement on Friday that the hospital had 500 patients being treated in it at the time, and that under the fourth Geneva Convention health care facilities and medics should be respected and be protected by occupying forces at all times. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah demanded that “all UN and Human Rights organizations exert pressure on Israel to halt its onslaught and protect Palestinians as a move towards ending the Israeli occupation. ”

Palestinian paramedics: targets in flashing red
Palestine News Network 1/16/2009
GazaP- Palestinian paramedics are targeted by Israeli forces in direct contravention to international law, yet still continue the struggle to save lives. Khalid Yousef Abu Sa’ada lives in Jabaliya Refugee Camp to the northeast of Gaza City. He told the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights late this week, "We are working twenty four hours a day. " He continued, "We only sleep when there is no Israeli shelling. The rest of the time it is our duty to stay at our work. I have not been to my home for days now, and I can’t believe the situation we are facing. Ninety percent of the injured victims we try to rescue have already lost legs or arms, or both. "Palestinian paramedics generally wear orange vests or red vinal suits with glow in the dark strips of silver on the sides of the arms and along the outer legs. Regardless, they are clearly marked, as are the ambulances they drive with flashing red lights.

VIDEO - Gazan Doctor's children killed while he is speaking to Israeli TV
Mary Rizzo, Palestine Think Tank 1/16/2009
A friend of mine sent something unusual, a link to a blog post talking about a Gazan doctor who normally works near Tel Aviv, who often reports to Channel 10. During one of his reports, the ultimate tragedy strikes. [end] -- See also: Dr. Loses Kids to IDF Bomb During Interview to Israeli TV

HRW slams Israel’s heavy artillery against Gaza
Middle East Online 1/16/2009
JERUSALEM - The US-based Human Rights Watch accused Israel on Friday of violating international laws against indiscriminate attacks on population centres by its use of heavy artillery against targets in the crowded Gaza City. It called for an immediate halt to the shelling. HRW said one of its researchers on the Israel-Gaza border on Thursday monitored Israel’s "repeated use in the centre of Gaza City of 155mm artillery shells which can inflict blast and fragmentation damage up to 300 metres (yards) away. " Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst for the human rights body, said: "Firing 155mm shells into the centre of Gaza City, whatever the target, will likely cause horrific civilian casualties. " Medics in the embattled Gaza Strip, home to 1. 5 million people, say the 21-day-old Israeli assault against Gaza, has killed at least 1,100 people, at least 600 of them are confirmed civilians and including 355 children.

Mother and her five children massacred in an Israeli occupation airstrike
Palestinian Information Center 1/16/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- A Palestinian mother and her five children were massacred on Friday in an Israeli occupation airstrike at the Buraij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip raising the number of victims of the Zionist holocaust against Gaza to 1151 martyrs. Medical sources said that Manal al-Batran, 35, and her children; Bilal, 2, Izzidin, 3, Iman, 10, Ihsan, 10, Islam, 15 were killed in the massacre. Medical sources also said that two men, Husam Abu Daqa, 27, and Ra’fat Ola, 40, were killed when they were targeted on their motorcycles the Fakahri and Bani Suhaila neighbourhood. Eisa Rmeilat, 14, was killed and six others were wounded in another an airstrike on the Shaboura refugee camp in Rafah, while eight others were wounded during an IOF incursion into Sofa neighbourhood. Ten others were killed in new airstrikes on Gaza City and Beit Lahya.

Video shows evidence of phosphorus bombs in Gaza
Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian 1/16/2009
Gaza doctors detail burns to entire victims’ bodies from chemical that is forbidden to be used as a weapon - Video showing injuries consistent with the use of white phosphorus shells has been filmed inside hospitals treating Palestinian wounded in Gaza City. Contact with the shell remnants causes severe burns, sometimes burning the skin to the bone, consistent with descriptions by Ahmed Almi, an Egyptian doctor at the al-Nasser hospital in Khan Younis. Almi said the entire body of one victim was burned within an hour. It was the first time he had seen the effects of what he called a "chemical weapon". The Israeli military has denied using white phosphorus during the assault on Gaza, but aid agencies say they have no doubt it has been used." It is an absolute certainty," said Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch.

VIDEO - Phosphorus bombs in Gaza – the evidence
The Guardian 1/16/2009
On Tuesday 13 January Israeli forces attacked Khoza’a, a small rural community east of Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip. Missiles containing white phosphorus were deployed. Dr Ahmed Almi from the al-Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis describes serious injuries and chemical burns, with victims covered in a white powder that continues to burn long after initial exposure. Warning: contains graphic footage of war injuries.

Gazans count the cost of war
Al Jazeera 1/16/2009
Israeli forces use more white phosphorus - The rubble of the al-Quds hospital in Gaza City was still smouldering early on Friday as a relative lull in fighting gave Palestinians the opportunity to assess the devastation caused by the Israeli assault. The hospital in the densely-populated Tal-Hawa neighbourhood was destroyed by Israeli tanks a day earlier after hundreds of frightened Gazans had taken shelter inside as Israeli ground forces pushed into the neighbourhood. "They shelled the hospital building and it caught fire. We tried to evacuate the sick people and the injured and the people who were there taking refuge," a hospital medic, who did not give his name, said. "Firefighters arrived and put out the fire which burst into flames again. They put it out again and it came back for a third time. "

VIDEO - Gaza: lives in ruins
The Guardian 1/16/2009
On January 14, Gazans from Khoza’a near Khan Younis were fired upon and forced to flee their homes. Thirteen were killed and 50 injured, and the whole areas was then destroyed by Israeli forces. Picking through the rubble of their ruined homes, former residents allege a series of human rights abuses in these personal testimonies. [end]

20th Day of Continuous IOF Attacks Across the Gaza Strip
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 1/15/2009
Gaza City is under unprecedented IOF attack: Intensive IOF Shelling into Densely Populated Neighborhoods and Civilian Objects, Including Hospitals:IOF Ground Incursions and Civilians being Subjected to Incendiary Bombs: 75 Palestinians Killed during reporting period, Including 70 Unarmed Civilians, of whom 18 are children: Overall Gaza death toll mounts to 1080, Including 765 Unarmed Civilians and 167 Civilian Police Force members, Who Are Also Classified as Civilians: Victims Include 252 Children and 78 Women: Victims Also Include 7 Medical Personnel and 3 Palestinian Journalists: "The Reported death Toll Include 22 Victims from the al-Samouni Family Whose Bodies Were Unearthed Yesterday. The violent war launched by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) against the population of the Gaza Strip has continued for the twentieth consecutive day.

Three hour lull not enough - aid agencies
IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1/17/2009
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.

Physicians for Human Rights Aid Convoy and Protest Halted
Grace Walsh, International Middle East Media Center News 1/16/2009
Hundreds of Israelis, Palestinians and International supporters of the Physicians for Human Rights Organisation attempted to take part in a solidarity action and protest this morning. Over 300 members and supporters of Physicians for Human Rights set out to accompany an emergency delivery of medical supplies to the Gaza Strip this morning in protest at the current Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip. The group planned to hold a vigil near Yad Mordechai, near to the Kerem Shalom crossing. Three buses left Tel Aviv and others left from Jerusalem, Taybeh and Beersheba. Most of the buses were turned back by the Israeli authorities at roadblocks set up well before the crossing. The Israeli police, threatened the drivers of the vehicles with legal action if they did not drive the group back to Tel Aviv, without communicating with the event organizers.

Palestinian sources: Teenager among four killed by IAF in Gaza
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 1/17/2009
The Israel Air Force attacked about 40 targets across the Gaza Strip on Friday, on Day 21 of Israel’s offensive on the Hamas-ruled coastal territory. Palestinian sources said a 14-year-old was killed and several other people were wounded during an IAF attack on the Shabura refugee camp in southern Gaza. Three militants were also killed in IAF attacks, medics said. The strikes came a day after the IAF killed Hamas Interior Minister Said Sayyam at the Gaza house where he was hiding. An official military statement said that the targets bombed Friday included smuggling tunnels along the Egyptian border, a rocket launcher ready for firing and a mosque that housed a tunnel entrance and was also used to store arms. The Israel Defense Forces also said that troops pinpointed a group of militants that had fired a mortar shell at Israel, and identified a hit.

14 Palestinians killed on Friday at night, 1167 killed, 5200 wounded in ongoing offensive
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/16/2009
Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported on Friday at night that 14 Palestinians were killed, 10 of them after the army shelled a mourning house east of Gaza City, as the Israeli air strikes and shelling in the continued in the Gaza Strip. A mother and her five children were also killed in the central Gaza Strip. The sources stated that ten residents were killed and several others were injured when the army shelled a mourning house in Al Shujaeyya neighborhood, east of Gaza City. Four more Palestinians were killed, several others were injured, when the army shelled the house of Dr. Abu Al Eish, in Jabalia. A third shelling to a house in Al Saftawi neighborhood, north of Gaza, caused several casualties. Also, medical sources reported that a mother and her five children were killed after Israeli missiles hit their home in Al Boreij refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip.

1170 Palestinians, including 375 children killed by IOF in 3 weeks
Palestinian Information Center 1/16/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- The IOF has intensified its ethnic cleansing efforts on Friday in the Gaza Strip committing three massacres in various parts of the Gaza Strip. A mourning reception at the Shejaeyya neighbourhood where the family of one of the martyrs was receiving people offering condolences was shelled by the IOF resulting in the death of 10 people and tens others were wounded. Five people, including for women, were also killed in an airstrike that targeted a house belonging to Abul-Eish family in Jablaya. Many others were wounded. Another house in the Safawi neighbourhood was also bombed, the number of casualties was not known at the time of writing this report. Earlier a mother and her five children was killed by the IOF. Medical sources say that the number of those killed during the three week Israeli blitz has reached 1170, including 375 children, 110 women and 100 elderly people.

Death toll in Gaza jumps to 1143 after Tel Al-Islam massacre
Palestinian Information Center 1/16/2009
Gaza, (PIC)-- Death toll in Gaza Strip has risen to 1143 martyrs, nearly one-half of them were children, women, and elderly people in addition 15 paramedics, four journalists, and three foreigners, hospital sources revealed. Around 23 Palestinian bodies were recovered from under the rubbles of their homes in Tel Al-Islam suburb after the IOF troops indiscriminately bombed residential condominiums in the suburb. According to the sources, the Israeli genocidal aggression has also left more than 5200 Palestinians wounded, hundreds of them in very serious condition, as the Israeli brutal attack on Gaza entered its fourth week. On Friday, Palestinian child Esa Ermeelat, 14, was killed after Israeli warplanes targeted his home at Al-Shaboura refugee camp in Rafah city, south of Gaza Strip. Eight other Palestinian civilians were also injured in an Israeli raid in Sofa area, southeast of the Strip.

70 Palestinians killed on Thursday, death toll in Gaza exceeds 1,100 after 20 days
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/16/2009
As the Israeli offensive continued against the Gaza Strip on Thursday, Israeli soldiers killed 70 Palestinians in different areas of Gaza. Since Israel launched its offensive on Gazatwenty days ago, more than 1,100 Palestinians have been killed and over 5,100 wounded. At least 400 of the wounded are in serious conditions. . Thursday’s shelling was no different from earlier attacks, targeting homes, UN facilities, hospitals and several other residential areas. In Tal al-Hawa , in Gaza City, the Israeli Army shelled and burned the al-Quds Hospital, which belongs to the Palestinian Red Crescent, along with several branches connected to the hospital. The Israelis also shelled Tal al-Hawa Hospital, which was crowded with at least 500 wounded Palestinians and medics. Dr. Bashar Murad, head of the Emergency Unit at the Hospital, said that the Israeli Army fired at least three shells,. . .

Israeli tanks withdraw from Tel Al-Hawa after killing 23
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli tanks withdrew on Friday from the Tel Al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City after 24 hours of constant shelling, leaving behind the corpses of Palestinian civilians and fighters. The tanks have retreated south to the ruins of the Israeli settlement Niztarim, which has been their base of operations since the ground invasion began nearly two weeks ago. The incursion into Tel Al-Hawa was the farthest Israeli forces have entered into Gaza City since the beginning of the offensive. While in Tel Al-Hawa, Israeli forces attacked a Red Crescent hospital, setting it on fire. Witnesses said that Israeli soldiers seized a number of residents, abducting them as they left the area. Witnesses also reported that Israeli soldiers invaded residential buildings, ordering locals to leave. Hundreds fled to other parts of the city.

After attacks on Tal Al Hawa yesterday, 23 people found in the rubble
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/16/2009
Gaza - When Israeli forces moved on from yesterday’s major attack on southern Gaza City’s Tal Al Hawa neighborhood that targeted homes, buildings, the UNRWA and Al Aqsa Hospital, relief crews were able to come in. Palestinian medical sources reported this morning that several bodies were found in the rubble. While headlines focus on the possibilities of a ceasefire, attacks continue. Israeli forces targeted a car in central Gaza City, killing two people this afternoon. Recovered from under the wreckage of yesterday were 23 more corpses. At least 30 people were killed in the Tel Al Hawa neighborhood yesterday. The number of Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip since 27 December is 1,135 as of 6:30 pm Friday. In a bombardment on the southern Strip this morning, Israeli forces killed another child and injured three others.

IDF strikes 40 targets in Gaza; sources say ’23 bodies found under rubble’
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/16/2009
Mosque used to store weapons, six terror cells among targets hit by aircraft; Palestinians say bodies found beneath rubble of building in Gaza City neighborhood that was heavily bombarded Thursday; rocket fire on Negev continues - Israel NewsIsraeli aircraft struck some 40 targets throughout the Gaza Strip overnight Friday, including a mosque in which weapons were stored. Six terror cells and three more arms caches were also attacked. The Navy took part in the strikes. Medical sources in Gaza reported that 23 bodies have been found under the rubble of a building in Gaza City’s Tel Hawwa neighborhood. The area was heavily bombarded by IDF forces on Thursday. It was further reported that a Palestinian boy was killed and 10 people were injured during an IDF attack at the al-Shabura refugee camp in Rafah.

Palestinian killed, IDF soldier hurt in West Bank protest against Gaza operation
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/17/2009
Israel Defense Forces troops on Friday shot and killed a Palestinian who participated in a violent West Bank protest against Israel’s offensive in Gaza. An IDF soldier sustained light wounds when Palestinian demonstrators hurled rocks at troops who stopped them from marching into Hebron to protest the Israeli operation in the coastal strip. IDF soldiers then fired tear gas rubber-coated bullets at the group of protesters, killing one. Palestinian witnesses named the dead man as Musab Daana, 20. A Palestinian medic said that Daana was killed by a live round to the head. Fifteen other Palestinians were injured in the incident. Israel’s offensive in Gaza entered its 21 day Friday, as the Israel Air Force attacked close to 40 targets in the coastal strip, while rockets fired from Gaza pounded southern Israel.

IOF troops quell pro-Gaza rally in Al-Khalil, kill one Palestinian
Palestinian Information Center 1/16/2009
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- One Palestinian citizen was martyred and 20 other citizens were injured in Al-Khalil city Friday in fierce clashes between Palestinian citizens angry over the Israeli massacre in Gaza, and the fully-geared IOF troops. The victim was identified as Motasem Da’ana, 15, of AL-Khalil city who was among thousands of Palestinian citizens protesting the ongoing Israeli carnage in Gaza Strip that killed and wounded at least 6000 Palestinians. According to local sources, the IOF troops fired live and rubber-coated bullets and teargas canisters at the demonstrators, killing Da’ana and wounding 20 others as they inhaled the teargas smoke. However, the harsh Israeli treatment of the rally failed to silence the protesters who chanted pro-Hamas slogans, and urged the Palestinian resistance to avenge the killing of Hamas’s political leader Said Siyam who was assassinated in an Israeli air strike at his brother’s house in Gaza city Thursday.

Fatal shooting at West Bank protest
Al Jazeera 1/16/2009
A Palestinian has been shot dead and several others wounded after Israeli security forces opened fire during a protest in the West Bank against Israel’s war in Gaza. The man died after being shot in the head when clashes broke in the West Bank town of Hebron on Friday, medics and witnesses said. Israeli soldiers had opened fire with live ammunition and rubber bullets after youths throwing stones had apparently tried to march towards the Israeli-controlled area of the city, witnesses said. Several other Palestinians were reportedly wounded in the clashes, which came after Hamas called earlier in the week for a "day of wrath" on Friday in response to Israeli offensive in Gaza. The Israeli military declared on Thursday that the West Bank would be closed off for 48 hours, but demonstrators still gathered in towns across the occupied territory.

Israeli army kills Palestinian boy in West Bank
Middle East Online 1/16/2009
HEBRON, West Bank - The Israeli army killed a Palestinian protestor in the West Bank town of Hebron on Friday after clashes erupted on the sidelines of a rally against the war in Gaza, medics and witnesses said. Mutassem Daana, 15, was killed as a result of a shot to the head after Israeli soldiers opened fire on youths throwing rocks at them near the rally that gathered after the main weekly Muslim prayers, they said. The killing comes one day after a Jewish settler killed a 15 year old Palestinian boy in the northern West Bank, Palestinian emergency services and Israeli police said. Nasser Awdi was killed near the town of Qalqilya when the settler opened fire at him from a passing car, said the sources. Jewish settlements are illegal in international law because they are built on Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967.

The Israeli army kills a Palestinian boy In Hebron
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/16/2009
Palestinian medical sources reported that a Palestinian boy was shot and killed by Israeli military fire in the southern West Bank city of Hebron midday Friday. The boy, Mos’ab Da’nah Mos’ab Da’nna, aged 15 years old, sustained multiple wounds in the chest after being shot by live rounds, doctors said, adding that another 15 local youth had been injured. Witnesses reported that Israeli soldiers in the old city of Hebron provoked clashes with the local youth, and then opened fire at them killing the boy. The witnesses added that soldiers fired tear gas and sound grenades at the youth and other residents of Hebron before the ensuing clashes. [end]

Israeli forces kill 15-year-old demonstrator in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli troops shot dead a teenage Palestinian demonstratorand injured 15 others in the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday afternoon. Witnesses said that Israeli soldiers used live ammunition and teargas against young Palestinians who threw stones at Israeli soldiers in the Abu Sneineh neighborhood of Hebron. Fifteen-year-old Mus’ab Da’na arrived at a local hospital in critical condition and died shortly afterwards of bullet wounds. Fifteen others were treated for various injuries, hospital officials said. [end]

PA Ministry denounces Israeli attack on peaceful protest in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Ramallah - Ma’an - Ramallah’s caretaker Minister of the Interior denounced the Israeli attack on the peaceful protest in Hebron Friday, which killed 15-year-old Mustafa Da’na and injured fifteen others. The minister released a statement denouncing the repeated Israeli attacks against Palestinian all over the West Bank who are expressing their condemnation of the Israeli government in a peaceful manner. [end]

Five injured and dozens suffered teargas inhalation during the Bil’in Weekly Demonstration
Abdullah Abu Rahma - Coordinator of the Popular Committee to resist, International Middle East Media Center News 1/16/2009
On Friday midday the residents of Bil’in village near the central West Bank city of Ramallah demonstrated against the Israeli’s rejection of the international efforts for ceasefire. The residents of Bil’in today gathered after the Friday prayer in an act of solidarity with the people of Gaza. They were joined by international activists and the Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall, all opposing the war on Gaza. The protesters carried Palestinian, Venezuelan, and Bolivian flags, in a show of support for the two South American countries who, this week, cut diplomatic ties with Israel due to the war on Gaza. The demonstration was symbolically silent, as the protesters wore the UN, EU, and the Arab League flags on their chests and carried shoes bearing Israeli and American flags in their mouths, to symbolize the power the two countries have to gag that rest of the world.

11 injured in the weekly protest of Ni’lin near Ramallah
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/16/2009
Scores of Palestinians from the village of Nil’in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, On Friday, conducted a protest against the illegal Israeli wall being built on the village land by the Israeli settlement and annexation project. The people conducted Friday prayers near the village lands, then preceded to march to the land being confiscated by Israel. Demonstrators carried banners calling Israeli to stop its attacks on Gaza,. As soon as locals and their international supporters arrived to the village where the Israel is building the wall, soldiers showered them with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets, 11 were reported injured. Local organizers said that this week there was about 1000 people in the protest, they added that the people marched peacefully and the soldiers attacked them without any reason.

Troops attack a nonviolent protest near Bethlehem: two women injured
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 1/16/2009
Scores of villagers from AL Ma’ssara located near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem conducted their weekly protest on Friday. The villagers gathered at the village entrance then marched towards their lands where the army is building the illegal wall. The protesters demanded the halt of the Israeli attacks on Gaza and waved Palestinian flags. Troops stopped them from reaching the location of the wall and assaulted them with batons. Local sources reported that two women from the village where lightly injured by the Israeli troops. The march ended shortly after speeches were delivered by the local organizers.

Hopes that Gaza offensive ’is in final act’
Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters, The Independent 1/16/2009
Israel said its Gaza offensive could be "in the final act" today and sent envoys to discuss truce terms after Hamas made a ceasefire offer to end three weeks of fighting that has killed more than 1,100 Palestinians. However, Israel rejected at least two major elements of the ceasefire terms outlined by the Islamist movement, and fighting continued, albeit with less intensity than yesterday. The inauguration of new US President Barack Obama on Tuesday is being seen by some as the time by which Israel will bow to mounting international pressure and call off its attacks. At least three rockets landed in Israel from Gaza, the army said. Israeli air strikes killed four Palestinians, three of them guerrillas and one a civilian, medics and militants said. "Hopefully we’re in the final act," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s spokesman Mark Regev said, adding that briefings. . .

Mishaal: Israel couldn’t achieve victory over resistance
Palestinian Information Center 1/16/2009
DOHA , (PIC)-- Khaled Mishaal, the head OF Hamas’s political bureau said Friday that the Israeli occupation government isn’t any more capable of achieving any victory over the Palestinian resistance, underlining that the Palestinian resistance factions won’t accept Israeli conditions for ceasefire. Mishaal  was speaking before Arab and Muslim leaders who flocked into the Qatari capital Doha to attend the Arab summit called for by Qatar to discuss the Israeli occupation aggression on Gaza despite the absence of  a number of Arab leaders, including Mahmoud Abbas among others. The Hamas supreme political official also accused the Israeli occupation army of committing war crimes against Palestinian civilians in Gaza Strip after they failed to defeat the Palestinian resistance. He urged the summit to seriously mobilize on all levels to file lawsuits against the Israeli occupation. . .

Meshaal: ceasefire based on lift of Gaza siege
Middle East Online 1/16/2009
DOHA - A summit on Israel’s deadly offensive against Gaza opened in the Qatari capital on Friday with Hamas exiled leader Khaled Meshaal reiterating his movement’s call for a ceasefire based on an end to Israel’s siege of Gaza. "Our demands are: That the agression stops, that the enemy retreats completely from Gaza, that the blockade is lifted without ever returning to it, and that the border crossing at Rafah is opened," Meshaal said, adding that only Egyptian and Palestinian forces should supervise the border. Meshaal said the Palestinian population in Gaza faced two options: slow death under the Israeli siege or a quicker death under Israeli fire. "Did we do wrong, by rejecting a truce that let the blockade continue? "Mashaal said. "Don’t the people of Gaza deserve to live free? . . . They want to live free without blockade or occupation, just like all the Palestinian people do.

Hamas leaders head to Cairo for further ceasefire talks
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A Hamas delegation will leave for Cairo Friday evening to continue discussions on an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, after Israel rejected terms Hamas offered this week. Member of Hamas Politburo Mohammad Nasser said the party “had presented to Egypt its specific view over the Egyptian proposal during its previous visit to Cairo. ” He added that Hamas received an invitation to discuss the Israeli response to Egypt’s proposal at the coming meeting. It is hoped that the Egyptian initiative will be a practical mechanism to implement UN Security Council resolution 1860, which calls for an immediate ceasefire. Senior Israeli military official Amos Gilad also travelled to Egypt on Friday for further negotiations. The French news agency AFP quoted a source close to the talks saying “the negotiations will be suspended until Saturday evening or Sunday evening.

Ban: 'A few more days' needed to negotiate Gaza ceasefire
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
ceasefireBethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said on Thursday that Israel and Hamas could agree on a ceasefire in “a few more days. ”"It may take a few more days to agree to a few more technical issues," Ban told reporters after a series of meetings with Israeli leaders. He added that he was "reasonably optimistic" the Israelis would decide to accept a ceasefire. Ban said he discussed Gaza in telephone calls with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has been negotiating a truce with Israel and Hamas, as well as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Both Israel and Hamas rejected a binding Security Council resolution passed on a near unanimous vote a week ago. On Wednesday, a ceasefire appeared closer when Hamas said it views Egypt’s proposal for a truce “positively.

Israel set to announce 'unilateral ceasefire' in upcoming cabinet meeting
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - A proposed unilateral ceasefire will go to a vote in the Israeli Cabinet meeting on Saturday after 22 days of air and ground strikes on the Gaza Strip Israeli Radio reported Friday. Since the goals of the Israeli operation have been unclear from the start, what the state hopes to achieve with the move is likewise murky. Israeli leaders publically stated that the mission was to root out projectile launchers from the Gaza Strip, and later insisted that any ceasefire agreement needed guarantees from international groups that Gaza factions would cease weapons smuggling from Egypt. Hamas officials announced Thursday that they would agree to the current Egyptian Initiative terms for the ceasefire, but Israel rejected several of the terms and Israeli negotiator Amos Gilad has been back and forth from Cairo twice in 24-horus.

Livni: Unilateral ceasefire test for Hamas
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/16/2009
Cabinet to debate Egyptian initiative by which Israel will declare unilateral ceasefire while forces remain in Gaza; foreign minister says Hamas must halt all fire, smuggling of arms and return kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit -Israel announced Friday that "significant progress" had been achieved in talks in Cairo on a materializing ceasefire in Gaza. The cabinet is set to convene Saturday evening to discuss the Egyptian initiative, by which Israel will announce a unilateral ceasefire while forces remain inside the Gaza Strip. Defense officials said they expect Hamas will also cease its fire under these circumstances. During a briefing of the limited cabinet, the officials said that if the organization continued its fire, Israel would retaliate and the fighting would continue.

Defense Ministry official to return to Cairo
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 1/16/2009
Olmert, Livni and Barak end five-hour discussion on Egyptian initiative for ceasefire in Gaza, decide to send Amos Gilad, head of Defense Ministry’s Security-Diplomatic Bureau, back to Cairo Friday morning in order to present Israel’s stance - Major-General (Res. ) Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry’s Security-Diplomatic Bureau, will leave for Egypt on Friday morning in order to discuss the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the limited cabinet decided Thursday night following a five-hour discussion. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said during the discussion, "We are continuing to inquire on the details of a diplomatic arrangement with the Egyptians, and by no means with Hamas. "Gilad, who returned from Cairo on Thursday, briefed Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the details received from the Egyptian mediators.

Israel ’set to halt war on Gaza’
Al Jazeera 1/17/2009
Israel’s security cabinet is expected to decide to halt the war on Gaza at a meeting on Saturday, Israeli sources have said. The move would be seen as being preferable to entering an Egyptian-brokered formal ceasefire with Hamas, unnamed sources told the AFP and Reuters news agencies. The 21-day-old conflict has left more than 1,150 Palestinians dead, at least a third of them children, and devastated infrastructure within the densely populated territory. "The security cabinet will convene and that is where a decision will be made," Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, told Israel’s Channel 10 television when asked if the government would end the conflict. "I have said the end doesn’t have to be in agreement with Hamas, but rather in arrangements against Hamas.

Israel hopes to achieve ’durable quiet’ as Gaza op winds down
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/17/2009
Israel said Friday it hoped it was close to winding down the offensive it launched three weeks ago in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, and that it might make a decision as early as this weekend. "I hope we are entering the end game and that our goal of sustained and durable quiet in the south [of Israel] is about to be attained," government spokesman Mark Regev said. Israel embarked upon an air and ground war against Hamas militants on Dec. 27 to stop the rocket fire that has traumatized southern Israel for years. But the spiraling Palestinian death toll, which includes hundreds of civilians, has drawn international outrage and touched off intense diplomatic activity to end the violence. Israel wants Hamas to halt rocket fire and international guarantees that militants won’t rearm before it agrees to a truce.

Hamas rejects Israel ceasefire demands
Reuters, The Independent 1/16/2009
Hamas today said it would not accept Israeli conditions for a ceasefire and would continue to fight until Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip ends. Khaled Meshaal, leader of the Palestinian Islamist group, called on leaders at the opening of an emergency meeting on Gaza in Doha to cut all ties with the Jewish state. "Despite all the destruction in Gaza, I assure you: we will not accept Israel’s conditions for a ceasefire," Meshaal told the meeting in Doha, which was attended by the presidents of Syria, Iran and Lebanon. Heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Egypt were absent. The meeting in Qatar conflicted with another meeting by Arab foreign ministers in Kuwait to discuss the three-week-old Israeli offensive that has highlighted deep splits in the Arab world over Gaza, where the death toll has exceeded 1,100.

Russia seeks Syrian, Iranian help on Gaza truce
Reuters, YNetNews 1/16/2009
’Egypt’s initiative is optimal and we believe all efforts should be thrown into supporting it,’ FM Lavrov says -Russia has asked Iran and Syria to help persuade the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas to accept an Egyptian proposal on ending the fighting in Gaza, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday. "Egypt’s initiative. . . is, for us, optimal and we believe all efforts should be thrown into supporting it," Lavrov told a news conference. "In connection with this we are sending corresponding signals to representatives of Hamas, and those states which have influence on Hamas," he said. "First and foremost that is Iran and Syria. We have spoken to our colleagues. I hope that everyone will concentrate on this. " The Egyptian peace plan includes securing the Egypt-Gaza border, across which Israel alleges weapons are smuggled, and ending the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Haneyya: Israel must stop the slaughter, withdraw, lift the siege
Palestinian Information Center 1/16/2009
LONDON, (PIC)-- In an article published in the Independent on Thursday, the Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haneyya laid down Hamas’s conditions for a truce with the Israeli occupation forces. "Our condition for a new ceasefire is clear and simple. Israel must end its criminal war and slaughter of our people, lift completely and unconditionally its illegal siege of the Gaza Strip, open all our border crossings and completely withdraw from Gaza," Haneyya wrote. He emphasised that Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 was not an end of occupation as Israel kept control of land, sea and air of Gaza, and thus Israel was still responsible for Gaza as an occupying power. He also pointed out that the Israeli occupation forces killed 1250 Palestinians, including 222 children, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between 2005 and 2008, adding that for most of that time the. . .

Mashaal: We won’t accept truce conditions
Associated Press, YNetNews 1/16/2009
Hamas politburo chief speaks before Arab leaders in Qatar, says organization will continue resistance until Israel withdraws troops, opens crossings, and ’stops its aggression’; Assad calls Arab peace initiative with Israel ’dead’ - Hamas’s top political chief rejected Israel’s conditions for a Gaza cease-fire and demanded an immediate opening of the territory’s borders, taking a tough line Friday as he asked Arab countries to back him by cutting off any ties with Israel. Khaled Mashaal spoke at a summit of Arab leaders in the Qatari capital, including Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. During the summit, Qatar and Mauritania announced that they would sever diplomatic ties with Israel. Qatar’s prime minister, Sheik Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani, said the Israeli trade mission in the country will have about a week to leave.

Hamas leadership at Arab summit continues to call for ceasefire
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/16/2009
Damascus -- The head of the Hamas political bureau Khalid Meshal spoke last night after Israeli forces assassinated Said Siyam in whose funeral tens of thousands marched today in Gaza. Today Meshal addressed the emergency Arab session in Doha, Qatar where he told Palestinian factions that the Israeli terms for a ceasefire were unacceptable. President Mahmoud Abbas is not attending today’s Arab summit, which Mohammad Nazzal described as an "historic mistake. "A spokesperson for the Palestinain president said that the meeting "would not have helped repair the internal divide. "The Emir of Qatar expressed his regrets that Abbas declined his invitation. Saudi Arabia and Egypt also chose not to attend. Speaking from exile in Syria last night, Meshal again demanded that the Israeli administration accept an immediate ceasefire.

Israeli Cabinet to vote on a unilateral ceasefire Saturday
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/16/2009
The Israeli cabinet is set to meet on Saturday to vote on a proposal of an Israeli unilateral ceasefire which also includes a call for further cooperation between Israel and Egypt on different issues, including stopping arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip. The Israeli "offer" for cooperation with Egypt totally excludes Hamas movement which enjoys wide public support, especially in the Gaza Strip. Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported on Friday that Egypt is weighing the possibility of organizing a summit in the near future between Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and Egyptian President, Hosny Mubarak. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, stated that Israel and the US signed an agreement on Friday aiming at halting weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

Qatar, Mauritania cut ties with Israel over Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Qatar and Mauritania reported that they severed political and economic ties with Israel in protest of the three-week-old assault on the Gaza Strip. According to the Qatar-based network Al-Jazeera, the move was announced on Friday at an emergency meeting of Arab leaders in Doha. At the summit, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and senior Hamas leader Khalid Mash’al urged Arab states to cut ties with Israel. Addressing leaders in the Qatari capital, Al-Assad declared that an Arab initiative offering peace with Israel was now "dead. " He said Arab countries should cut "all direct and indirect" ties with Israel in protest against its offensive in Gaza. "Syria has decided that indirect peace negotiations with Israel will be halted," he said. Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries who have full diplomatic relations with Israel.

Qatar breaks off relations with Israel over Gaza operation
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/17/2009
Qatar said on Friday it had frozen its ties with Israel and would ask the Israel to close its trade office in Doha and its staff to leave within a week. Qatar is the only Gulf Arab state to have ties with Israel. Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said the office could be reopened if the situation improved. Al-Jazeera reported earlier on Friday that Mauritania had broken off relations with Israel as well. Also on Friday, Turkey’s prime minister on Friday said Israel should bebarred from the United Nations while it ignores the body’s calls to stop fighting in Gaza. Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Wednesday that his country is breaking diplomatic tiesbreaking diplomatic ties with Israel over its 19-day-old campaign in Gaza, and said he will ask the International Criminal Court to bring genocide charges against top Israeli officials.

Qatar, Mauritania suspend ties with Israel
Middle East Online 1/16/2009
DOHA - Qatar and Mauritania decided on Friday to suspend their relations with Israel, at an Arab summit in the Doha discussing the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, a Mauritanian diplomat said. "Mauritania and Qatar have decided during a meeting behind closed doors to suspend their ties with Israel," the Mauritanian diplomat, who requested anonymity told AFP. Qatar has hosted an Israeli trade bureau since 1996, while Mauritania has had diplomatic ties with the Jewish state since 1999. Mauritania called back its ambassador in Israel in the wake of the attacks Israel launched on the Gaza Strip on December 27. Qatar pressed ahead with a summit on Friday on Israel’s deadly offensive against Gaza over the objections of regional heavyweights Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of the Hamas, was in the Qatari capital Doha for the meeting.

Qatar, Mauritania cut Israel ties
Al Jazeera 1/16/2009
Qatar and Mauritania have suspended economic and political ties with Israel in protest against the war in Gaza, Al Jazeera has learned. The move announced on Friday followed calls by Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, and Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, for all Arab nations to cut ties with Israel. Addressing leaders at an emergency Arab summit in Doha, the Qatari capital, al-Assad declared that the Arab initiative for peace with Israel was now "dead". He said Arab countries should cut "all direct and indirect" ties with Israel in protest against its offensive in Gaza. His comments echoed those of Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls the Gaza Strip, who also called on all Arab states to cut ties with Israel.

Arab leaders meet in Doha despite boycott by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, PA
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – An Arab League summit in Doha, Qatar, began Friday without representatives from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Tunisia, and Morocco. Hamas leadir Khaled Mash’al, Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shallah, and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC) leader Ahmad Jibril have all reportedly traveled to Doha from Damascus to attend the summit. They will be joined by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, Sudanese President Umar Al-Bashir, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, Algerian President Abdel Aziz Butefleika, Iraqi Vice President Tariq Al-Hashimi, and high-level representatives from Mauritania, Libya, Yemen, Djibouti, the Comoros, and Somalia. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will not be attending the summit. Analysts speculated that Abbas’ refusal was related to invitations issued to leaders from rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Fatah spokesperson: Doha 'not a summit'; affirms Abbas’ commitment to Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Fatah spokesperson Fahmi Az- Za’areer called the Friday meeting in Doha a “consultation” and not an Arab Summit under the body’s rules and regulations since less than two-thirds of the member states attended. Acting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did not attend the meeting, along with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Tunisia, and Morocco. Az-Za’areer made the comment Friday evening that neither his party, nor the Palestinian Liberation Organization wanted to be used as a tool by Arab states to drive a wedge further into areas of contention. He added that Fatah are “hoping that some of the Arab countries will not to be the reason to deepen Palestinian disunity. ”The party spokesman added, however, that Abbas will not shirk any effort promoting the Palestinian cause, asserting that he was one of the first to accept the invitation of Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League.

No quorum in Doha summit; participants advocate diplomatic breaks with Israel
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hamas will not accept the Israeli conditions for a ceasefire, said party leader in exile Khalid Mash’al Friday during his speech to the Arab League emergency summit, and called on all summit participants to sever their relations with Israel. Mash’al, head of the Hamas politburo office, delivered a speech on behalf of the Palestinian factions in exile in which he highlighted the success of the resistance in confronting the Israeli onslaught in Gaza. Syria responded by announcing all indirect talks on peace and the Golan Heights with Israel were frozen. President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria echoed Mash’al’s call for Arab countries to shut down the Israeli embassies in their capitals immediately and to severe any direct or indirect relations with the country, initiating a mass boycott. Al-Assad said he considered the Arab Peace Initiative as “dead” and said. . .

Mussa admits ’chaos’ in Arab ranks over Gaza
Middle East Online 1/16/2009
KUWAIT CITY - Arab League chief Amr Mussa acknowledged "chaos" in Arab ranks over the Gaza crisis on Friday as foreign ministers gathered in Kuwait for a meeting overshadowed by an unofficial summit in Qatar. The "Arab situation is in a very big chaos," Mussa told reporters as he entered the meeting, which was delayed for two hours. "It is regrettable and harmful. " The ministers’ meeting was supposed to prepare for an Arab summit on Gaza due to convene alongside a long-scheduled economic summit in Kuwait City on Monday. Ministers discussed "steps that should be taken after Israel rejected UN Security Council Resolution 1860," that called for an immediate ceasefire, delegates said. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal called on the meeting to "look into the possibility of going back to the Security Council to try and issue another resolution to enforce ceasefire.

Protests across Mideast against Israel attacks on Gaza
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 1/16/2009
Iraqi worshippers dropped money in boxes and gave up their jewelry Friday as clerics called for donations to help Palestinians suffering under an Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. Elsewhere in the Mideast, refugees at a Palestinian camp near Damascus called for Israel to pull out of Gaza and widows in Beirut staged a sit-in outside a UN building. Palestinian police in the West Bank beat up protesters chanting in support of the terror group Hamas. The protests after Friday prayers were mostly low key, although the region has seen daily rallies since Israel launched its offensive to rout out Hamas on Dec. 27. UN and Palestinian medical officials say some 1,100 Palestinians have died so far in the offensive, including 346 children. In Hamas’ ally Syria, 2,000 people rallied in the Palestinian Yarmouk camp, trampling Israeli flags and shouting anti-Israel slogans.

Syrian president calls for cutting all ties with Israel
Middle East Online 1/16/2009
DOHA - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad called on Friday for all Arab countries with diplomatic ties to Israel to close their embassies in the Jewish state. Speaking at a summit on the Gaza crisis in the Qatari capital, he called for "cutting all direct and indirect ties with Israel, and shutting down its embassies. " Assad said his country had halted unofficial peace talks with Israel indefinitely, and that he considered the Arab peace initiative dead. Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries who have signed peace treaties with Israel and have Israeli embassies. Mauritania also has diplomatic ties to Israel, while Qatar is the only Gulf Arab country with commercial ties with the Jewish state. "Resistance has become the only path to peace, which comes through returning rights from an enemy that only understands the language of force," Assad said.

PLC encourages boycott of Israel
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Arab Parliamentarians in Algeria, Kuwait, and Turkey who condemned the Israeli massacres in Gaza were praised Friday by head of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Dr Ahmad Bahar. Dr Bahar released a statement calling on Islamic and Arab Parliaments to go further and implement a boycott of Israel, in preparation for the establishment of an international tribunal at the criminal court where they should be tried for crimes against humanity. Bahar also called on Saudi Arabian leaders, in charge of the next summit in Riyadh, to work towards forming a united Arab position aiming at halting the Israeli attacks. He further called on Arab nations to provide political and financial support for Gaza in the days following the Israeli attacks.

Erdogan: Bar Israel from the UN
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 1/16/2009
Turkey’s prime minister on Friday said Israel should be barred from the United Nations while it ignores the body’s calls to stop fighting in Gaza. "How is such a country, which does not implement resolutions of the UN Security Council, allowed to enter through the gates of the UN (headquarters)? "Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. Erdogan spoke before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was set to arrive in Ankara to discuss the conflict. Erdogan accused Israel of attacking civilians under the pretext of targeting Hamas. RELATEDEditorial: Turkey chooses sidesBan: Death toll in Gaza ’unbearable’ Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Friday renewed calls for an immediate cease-fire and also urged US President-elect Barack Obama to focus on a comprehensive, long-lasting and fair solution once in office.

Turkish PM: Israel should be barred from UN
Middle East Online 1/16/2009
ANKARA – Turkey’s prime minister on Friday said Israel should be barred from the United Nations while it ignores the body’s calls to stop fighting in Gaza. "How is such a country, which totally ignores and does not implement resolutions of the UN Security Council, allowed to enter through the gates of the UN (headquarters)? " Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. Erdogan’s comments reflected a growing anger in Turkey, Israel’s best friend in the Muslim world, over Israel’s Gaza operation. "The UN building in Gaza was hit while the UN secretary-general was in Israel," Erdogan said. "This is an open challenge to the world, teasing the world. " Israel infuriated the UN Thursday when it shelled the world body’s headquarters in Gaza City, where hundreds of Gazans were seeking cover from the fighting among food and supplies meant for refugees.

Ahmadinejad demands prosecution of Israel leaders
Middle East Online 1/16/2009
DOHA - Israel’s indiscriminate offensive against Gaza was condemned at a summit in Qatar on Friday, with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling for the prosecution of Israeli leaders by an international court. Also at the summit, Qatar and Mauritania decided to suspended their relations with Israel, a Mauritanian diplomat said. The move followed appeals by both Ahmadinejad and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad that Arab states sever any ties they had with Israel. Mauritania has diplomatic ties to Israel, while Qatar is the only Gulf Arab country with commercial relations with the Jewish state. Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries which have signed peace treaties with Israel and which have Israeli embassies. Ahmadinejad called for the prosecution of Israeli leaders by the International Court of Justice for "crimes" against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Israel under UN fire for deadly Gaza offensive
Middle East Online 1/16/2009
UNITED NATIONS - Israel came under fire at emergency UN talks Thursday for flouting international law with its deadly military assault on the Gaza Strip, including strikes on hospital, media and UN buildings. "Gaza is ablaze. It has been turned into a burning hell," said Nicaragua’s Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, president of the 192-member UN General Assembly. "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. " The emergency session of the General Assembly, requested by the 118-member UN member states making up the nonaligned movement, went ahead after Israel tried but failed to block it on procedural grounds. Since Israel unleashed Operation Cast Lead on December 27 to stop rocket firing by Palestinian. . .

Bolivia bid to have Israel prosecuted by ICC
Middle East Online 1/16/2009
GENEVA - Bolivia is preparing a request seeking to have Israel prosecuted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague over its actions in Gaza, two ministers said Friday in Geneva. The South American state says it wants to muster support among regional peers for a bid to have "the Israeli political and military leaders responsible for the offensive on the Gaza Strip" brought before justice, said Sacha Llorenti, whose portfolio covers civil society. Moves to begin the legal process will begin "probably next week," Bolivia’s deputy justice and human rights minister Wilfredo Chavez told journalists during the visit to Geneva. 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.

MK: Gaza worse than Sabra and Shatila
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 1/16/2009
Thousands of Arabs gather in Negev to protest Gaza op, call for trials against Israeli leaders -Thousands of people staged a protest against the IDF operation in Gaza in the Negev town of Arara on Friday. MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta’al) said during the protests that "the slaughter in Gaza is worse than the massacre in Sabra and Shatila, and a committee must be established to investigate the war crimes. " He added, "This war is a stop on the Palestinian people’s way to independence, and a stop on the way of Israel’s leaders to the defendant’s seat in the Hague as war criminals. " Secretary-general of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, Abed Anabtawi, said that "the Palestinian people will continue to resist the occupation. They can rely only on themselves to achieve their freedom and historical rights. "

Security and Defense: Preparing for ’the day after’
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 1/15/2009
The internal characteristics of the Israeli lie machine- Ed. - The real work for the Foreign Ministry and IDF spokesman Brig. -Gen. Avi Benayahu will start once Operation Cast Lead is officially over and the troops have returned to Israel from the Gaza Strip. It is then, when the Palestinians go back to their homes - or what is left of them - in northern Gaza that we will bear witness to the devastation this war has caused. The foreign media, which until now have been barred from entering the Strip, are expected then to be allowed inside. It is then that the world will be flooded with photos of Palestinians sifting through the ruins. The pictures will be difficult. Some are already making their way out via the media pools that the IDF has allowed inside for a brief glance at what it is doing there - and fighting against. The assessment in the IDF is that it will take Hamas several years to rebuild its infrastructure and recover from the Israeli offensive.

’We are creating suicide bombers from the sons of the dead’
Chris McGreal in Tel Aviv, The Guardian 1/17/2009
The call came at 11pm on a Saturday. Yitzchak Ben Mocha’s mobile flashed up "unidentified number" but he knew who it was. A recorded voice ordered him to report for duty at eight the next morning. As he packed his uniform he wondered if he was heading to prison. The 25-year-old paratrooper was about to tell his commanders that not only would he refuse to join Israel’s war in Gaza but would not serve in any capacity that helped perpetuate the conflict. He reported for duty and was ordered to erect tents for combat soldiers. " I told my officer, I am not going to do this. The next morning I was sent home. They told me they’d call me again if there was need. They have not called yet. In the past the army used to put refuseniks in jail for weeks. When they were released, sometimes they would be arrested again and this would go on for months.

Tens of thousands mourn Hamas interior minister at Gaza funeral
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Gaza – Ma’an/Agencies – Tens of thousands of Palestinians, many of them Hamas supporters, attended a mass funeral procession in Gaza on Friday for de facto Interior Minister Said Siyam, who was assassinated in an Israeli airstrike on Thursday. The funeral is also in honor of Siyam’s son Muhammad, his brother Iyad, his sister-in-law and her son, all of whom were killed in the same airstrike. The strike left a massive crater where Iyad Siyam’s house had stood. A member of Hamas’ senior leadership, Siyam is the highest-ranking Palestinian figure to be killed in the current Israeli offensive. Hamas hardliner turned Palestinian Martyr - Considered a hardliner within the Hamas movement, Siyam formed the Executive Forces, a parallel, Hamas-controlled security apparatus, after Hamas was elected to power in 2006.

Confusion at Rafah border over who can enter Gaza
Lina Atallah/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1/17/2009
RAFAH, 16 January 2009 (IRIN) - For aid workers and volunteers anxious to accompany humanitarian aid into Gaza through Egypt’s Rafah border crossing, 15 January was another day of waiting. Only occasionally did the crossing’s iron gate open to allow through a truckload of humanitarian aid. The trucks were mostly from Egyptian or other Arab charity organisations, and mainly carrying medical items - the only consignments allowed through. The rules governing entry into Gaza through Rafah are still unclear both for individuals and trucks. The Egyptian authorities this week barred individuals from entering Gaza, but became relatively more flexible in allowing in medical teams. Small groups of Arab and foreign doctors were allowed through with their escorts (usually young Egyptian aides). A convoy of trucks with medical supplies from Libyan NGO International Organisation. . .

Palestinian Journalist’s Syndicate calls for investigation of Israeli bombing of media compound
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Bethlehem- Ma’an - The Palestinian Journalist’s Syndicate condemned Israel’s direct targeting of journalists, the latest example of which was the shelling of the Ash-Shuruq building, home to international and local press offices. The attack injured two journalists, and the syndicate demanded in a statement the formation of “an international investigation committee” to catalogue Israeli war crimes in Gaza. The syndicate demanded that the International Federation of Journalists be sent on a fact finding mission to see firsthand the conditions of Journalism in the Gaza Strip, and ensure the protection of journalists and media organizations from Israeli fire. [end]

Israeli army shows Gaza war to ’embedded’ press - but from afar
Middle East Online 1/16/2009
ATATRA, Gaza - A group of journalists "embedded" with the Israeli army can only watch the war on Gaza from afar. In the early morning hours, two armoured vehicles filled with a dozen foreign correspondents and photographers crosses into Gaza. Embedded journalists have been alongside American troops battling insurgents in Iraq, and are often criticized for serving as propaganda tool of their host army. But ever since the start of the war in Gaza on December 27, Israel has banned foreign media from entering the coastal strip and this is only the second pool of reporters to have gone in with the military. So the journalists bouncing in the dusty armoured personnel carriers (APCs) are hungry for a close-up glimpse of the war that has dominated front pages around the world for the past three weeks. After a half-hour ride, the convoy stops at Atatra, an agricultural area of the Gaza Strip not far from the ruins of a onetime seaside resort.

ACRI ’mourns’ Gaza fatalities: Children are everyone’s soft spot
Anat Shalev, YNetNews 1/16/2009
Association for Civil Rights takes out full-page, obituary-style ad in weekend newspaper ’grieving’ Palestinian children killed in Gaza offensive. Ad meant to ’convey basic message of operation’s impact on civilians,’ says group’s spokeswoman -The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, in an unusual move sure to be deemed controversial, took out a full-page, obituary-style ad in Friday’s edition of the Haaretz daily in protest of the Israeli offensive in Gaza. The page was divided into numerous obituaries lamenting the death of Palestinian children of various ages, and featuring the word "Stop" in bright red in its middle. "The point was to convey the basic, universal and humanitarian message of the (operation’s) impact on the civilian population. Children are everyone’s soft spot and therefore we chose to focus on them," ACRI Spokeswoman Nirit. . .

Drug abuse on the rise in Gaza - specialists
World Vision, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1/17/2009
RAMALLAH, 16 January 2009 (IRIN) - Some doctors and pharmacists in Gaza believe drug abuse has increased dramatically in the enclave since June 2007 when Hamas took over. Since that time, the borders have been effectively closed and unemployment has soared to over 40 percent. "Drug use has increased due to the closure and stress of the situation," said psychiatrist Tysir Diab, clinical superviser of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme which operates three clinics in Gaza. "Young people who are unemployed, or who stay at home while receiving a salary, started to look to painkillers for relief. " Some 75,000 Palestinian Authority employees, including teachers and medical professionals paid by the Fatah leadership in Ramallah, were ordered to stay at home or face losing their salary after Hamas took power.

Outrage as Israel bombs UN
Kim Sengupta in Jerusalem, The Independent 1/16/2009
Israeli tanks thrust deep inside Gaza City last night as ferocious fighting raged in dense residential areas with terrified families fleeing along streets echoing with gunfire, although many others were trapped in their homes. Israeli shelling set fire to the UN headquarters, a hospital, a school and a building used by the media, leading to widespread international protests and renewed calls for a ceasefire in the conflict which has so far cost 1,073 Palestinian and 13 Israeli lives. A senior Hamas leader, the Interior Minister Said Seyyam who was responsible for thousands of security agents, was killed in an Israeli raid which flattened his brother’s home. Three members of UN staff were injured when three Israeli shells hit the headquarters, setting it on fire. Thousands of tonnes of desperately needed food and humanitarian supplies were destroyed and about 700 refugees given shelter in the building had to be evacuated.

UNRWA: Israel used White Phosphorus on building
Middle East Online 1/16/2009
PACIFICA – United Nations Relief and Works Agency spokesperson Christopher Gunness said the UNRWA compound in Gaza is burning with flames from white Israeli phosphorus shells, Democracy Now! reported Thursday. “There have been three hits on the UNRWA headquarters, the UNRWA compound in Gaza, including, I’m told by [UNRWA head] John Ging, white phosphorus. Three of our staff members have been injured. The workshop in our compound is in flames, and nearby are loaded fuel tankers,” said Gunness. There were 700 Palestinians displaced from the fighting taking refuge there, which Israel knew about. "The Israeli army has been given all the coordinates of all our facilities, including this one. They also knew that there were fuel tankers laden with fuel in the compound, and they would have known that there were hundreds of people who had taken refuge," said Gunness.

Palestinian sources: ’Iran unit’ of Hamas has been destroyed
Avi Issacharoff Amos Harel Amira Haas and Yanir Yagna, Ha’aretz 1/17/2009
Palestinian sources reported Thursday that the "Iranian Unit" of Hamas, members of the group’s military wing trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, had been destroyed. According to the sources, most of the unit’s members were killed in fighting in the Zeytun neighborhood, where they had been deployed by the military leadership of Hamas. The unit numbered approximately 100 men who had traveled to Iran and Hezbollah camps, mostly in the Beka’a Valley, where they were trained in infantry fighting tactics. The militants were also trained in the use of anti-tank missiles, the detonation of explosives, among other skills. They managed to return to the Gaza Strip through tunnels in the Rafah border area, although a few also crossed during one of the few times that Egypt agreed to open the border crossing as a gesture of good will to Hamas.

Pregnant woman hospitalized as Gaza rocket hits Ashkelon home
Yanir Yagana, and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 1/17/2009
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Friday fired more than 15 rockets at southern Israel Friday, leaving five Israelis wounded. A pregnant woman was hospitalized in Ashkelon after her home suffered a direct him from a rocket, while two Israelis were wounded in Ashdod - one moderately and the other lightly. Earlier on Friday, three Israelis sustained light wounds when two Grad rockets struck the southern town of Kiryat Gat. Advertisement Another rocket struck the Ashdod area, inflicting damage to a building, while five rockets exploded in the Eshkol region Friday morning. Two of the rockets that exploded in Eshkol landed in fields and another struck an agricultural structure, just minutes after workers finished their breakfast and exited the building.

This Week in Palestine -Week 03 2009
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 1/16/2009
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 14 m 0s || 12. 6 MB || This Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org, for January 10th 2009 through to January 16th 2009. Hamas accepts the Egyptian initiative, while the Israeli military continues to pound Gaza. The death toll is now over 1,100. These stories and more coming up. Stay tuned. Nonviolent Activities Let us begin our weekly report with the nonviolent activities in the West Bank with IMEMC’s Corey Balsam: On Friday, scores of Palestinians from the village of Nil’in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, conducted a protest against the illegal Israeli wall being built on village land, part of the Israeli settlement and annexation project. The people conducted Friday prayers near the village lands, and then proceeded to march to the land being confiscated by Israel.

Brigades sustain losses; continue firing projectiles at Israeli targets
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Gaza - Ma’an - Gaza’s armed factions reported several losses in battles with Israeli troops overnight Thursday, but continued to announce the launch of projectiles at Israeli targets in and outside of the Gaza Strip. The Salah Ad-Din Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees said that three of its members, Abed Ar-Rahman As-Suri, Mohmmad Issa Ash-Sharafi, and Amir Abu Riyala were killed. The Brigades said an Israeli drone fired three missiles at the fighters. The National Resistance Brigades, the armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), announced the death of a field commander, Hamuda Thabet. The group said Israeli forces killed Thabet in the An-Nasser neighborhood of the city of Rafah, in southern Gaza. ClashesThe Abu Al-Abbas Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Liberation Front said in a statement that. . .

Palestinian resistance repels IOF troops in Tel Al-Islam
Palestinian Information Center 1/16/2009
Gaza, (PIC)-- Fighters of the Palestinian resistance factions  led by the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas Movement, have succeeded Friday in pushing the invading IOF troops out of Tel A-Islam suburb, west of Gaza city, after fierce clashes in the area. According to sources in the Palestinian resistance, the Palestinian fighters destroyed a number of Israeli armored vehicles despite the intensive Israeli air, land, and sea strikes on the populated suburb. The headquarters of the UNRWA in Gaza Strip and a local hospital where around 500 people, including hundreds of patients, were inside were bombed by the Israeli warplanes alleging they were used by the Palestinian fighters to shoot at the IOF troops. The UNRWA and the hospital shrugged off the allegations and accused Israel of fabricating them. Local sources confirmed to the PIC correspondent that the IOF troops were. . .

Resistance rockets hit Israeli factory in Keryat Gat
Palestinian Information Center 1/16/2009
GAZA, (PIC)- The Israeli occupation government has acknowledged Friday that Palestinian resistance fighters were able to unleash a number of their locally-manufactured rockets at Israeli settlements around Gaza Strip, destroying a factory and injuring 20 Israeli settlers. The Hebrew radio reported that at least five Israeli settlers were wounded, and 15 others suffered shock when a number of Qassam and Grad missiles slammed into a number of Israeli settlements around Gaza Strip, including Keryat gat and Ashkilon among other colonies. Despite the brutal Israeli air, land, and sea offensive on Gaza Strip that enters its fourth week now with the aim to thwart firing of rockets at Israeli colonies, the Palestinian resistance fighters continued retaliating to the Israeli attack, implicitly declaring the failure of the Israeli declared objectives of the war.

4 injured in rocket attacks
Tova Dadon, YNetNews 1/16/2009
Rocket hits home in Ashdod injuring 2 people while two rockets explode in Kiryat Gat for first time, injuring three - Despite reports of the fighting in Gaza coming to an end, barrages of rockets were fired by Palestinian gunmen at Ashdod Friday. One hit a home in the city and injured two people, one of them moderately and the other lightly. Another rocket hit a factory, causing damage. Another projectile fired from Gaza at around 3 pm landed in the yard of a house in the southern city, but no injuries or damage were reported. In addition, one rocket exploded in the southern Israeli city of Kiryat Gat for the first time. Three people sustained minor injuries in the attack, while at least two others were treated for shock. Severe damage was caused to shops located in close proximity to the landing site.

DFLP launches projectiles at Israeli base
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – The National Resistance Brigades, the armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said it launched two homemade projectiles at Israel’s Kissufim military installation on Friday morning. There was no confirmation from the Israeli side. [end]

VIDEO - Gaza conflict: day 21
The Guardian 1/16/2009
Israeli forces continue to attack Gaza City and hundreds attend funeral of prominent Hamas leader, Said Siam. [end]

Bethlehem University asks world to pray for Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Bethlehem University sent out a wide request for prayers for the people of Gaza, including the 438 students and graduates of the university who are currently in the Strip. Since the current Israeli invasion into Gaza began, said the university statement, we have heard from only one of our graduates in Gaza. The statement quoted the words of Cardinal Sean Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland, who visited Bethlehem University and Gaza last year:"With the image of these innocent and frightened children in our minds,” he said “let us ask ourselves: Is the global economic crisis really the most urgent problem in the world today or is it the failure to build global structures of solidarity, justice and peace? " The statement concluded by asking for the support of all peoples in prayer for the people of Gaza, and for peace in the Holy Land.

Weekly nonviolent resistance demonstrates for Gaza
Najib Farrag, Palestine News Network 1/16/2009
Bethlehem -- In the southern Bethlehem villages the Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement demonstrated today as it does every Friday. This week the focus was naturally on the Gaza Strip where Israeli forces have killed well over a thousand Palestinians in three weeks. Ramallah, East Jerusalem, Jenin, Nablus, Hebron, Qaliqilia, Tulkarem, Amman and Beirut are all demonstrating. Israeli forces have killed 15 year old Musab Dana during a demonstration in southern Hebron this afternoon. Medical sources in the southern West Bank city report that the boy was shot more than once and that 15 other people sustained injuries. In western Ramallah’s Na’lin Village hundreds of people demonstrated against occupation, chanting in solidarity with the Gaza Strip. Eleven people were injured. In nearby Bil’in Village hundreds of people stood in silent solidarity with Gaza.

Hundreds rally in Tulkarem, condemning ongoing Gaza attacks
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Hundreds joined in condemning the Israeli massacres in Gaza on the streets of Tulkarem in the northern West Bank Friday, January 16, 2009The rally was organized by the Palestinian Islamic and national factions, and demonstrators took to the streets after Friday prayers carrying Palestinian flags, banners denouncing the attacks and pictures of women and children killed during the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza. In the nearby village of Nazlat Isa north of Tulkarem, confrontations erupted near the 30 foot high separation wall to the west of the area. Palestinian youth threw stones on the Israeli soldiers who responded by firing teargas and rubber coated bullets. A number of the Palestinian youth were treated for teargas inhalation.

Silent protests in Bil’in condemn Israeli, American veto over international action
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The regular Friday afternoon demonstration in Bil’in was symbolically silent this week, as the protesters wearing UN, EU, and Arab League flags marched gagged in protest of world silence on the Gaza massacres. The gags were shoes covered with symbols of the United States and Israel, illustrating the frustration of demonstrators over the power of the two states to manipulate world events. Three were injured and dozens suffered teargas inhalation as the march neared the site of the separation wall and were targeted by Israeli fire. [end]

US backs deal to reopen Gaza-Egypt border
Chris McGreal in Jerusalem, The Guardian 1/17/2009
Key ceasefire demands of Hamas and Israel would be met under plan to stop crossings being used for weapons smuggling - The US agreed to provide technical and intelligence assistance on Egypt’s border with Gaza yesterday to prevent weapons smuggling by Hamas as part of diplomatic moves to secure a ceasefire in Israel’s three-week assault on the Palestinian enclave. Israel said it believed the conflict was in the "final act" as talks in Washington and Cairo edged closer to a truce. But important differences remained and it was not clear if an agreement would be finalised this weekend to halt fighting that has cost more than 1,100 lives and destroyed much of Gaza’s public infrastructure. Israel’s security cabinet is expected to consider an Egyptian ceasefire proposal this evening, including whether Israel should unilaterally call a truce or consider withdrawing its troops.

U.S., Israel sign pact to battle Iran arms smuggling into Gaza
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/17/2009
The United States and Israel signed an agreement on Friday aimed at stopping the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip, U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. The deal includes measures to fight arms smuggling from Iran to Gaza, with the policing to take place throughout the route by which the arms reach Gaza, including patrols of the Persian Gulf, Sudan, and neighboring states. Also on Friday, the Prime Minister’s Office reported there has been progress in talks between Israel and Egypt on fighting arms smuggling from Egyptian territory, adding that an agreement could be reached soon. The diplomatic-security cabinet will meet Saturday to vote on whether to accept the Egyptian proposal. The agreement signed between the US and Israel Friday appears to place much of the blame for recent violence on Hamas, saying "the acquisition and use of arms and related materiel by terrorists against Israel were the direct causes of recent hostilities.

Text of U.S.-Israel agreement to end Gaza arms smuggling
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/17/2009
Recalling the steadfast commitment of the United States to Israel’s security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel’s capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats;Reaffirming that such commitment is reflected in the security, military and intelligence cooperation between the United States and Israel, the Strategic Dialogue between them, and the level and kind of assistance provided by the United States to Israel; Taking note of the efforts of Egyptian President Mubarak, particularly the recognition that securing Gaza’s border is indispensable to realizing a durable and sustainable end to fighting in Gaza;Unequivocally condemning all acts, methods, and practices of terrorism as unjustifiable, wherever and by whomever committed and. . .

US prepares deal ’to end Gaza assault’
Toni O'Loughlin in Jerusalem, Peter Walker and agencies, The Guardian 1/16/2009
Diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire in Gaza intensified today as Israel and the US prepared to sign a deal intended to reassure the Israeli government that Hamas will not have a chance to rearm once the fighting stops. The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, said she intended to sign a so-called memorandum of understanding later in the day with Israel’s foreign minister, Tzipi Livni. The agreement would be "one of the elements" needed for a ceasefire, Rice told reporters in Washington. She added that she hoped for a truce "very, very soon" but could not guarantee this would happen before she and President George Bush leave office next Tuesday, the AFP news agency reported. Earlier, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, called on Israel to stop its military assault. "I strongly urge the Israeli leadership and government to declare a ceasefire unilaterally," Ban said in the West

US rabbis urge Obama to push for Gaza ceasefire
Middle East Online 1/16/2009
PACIFICA – A coalition of American rabbis and other religious, cultural and community leaders bought a full-page ad in the New York Times on Wednesday calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and for President-elect Barack Obama to convene an international Middle East peace conference, Democracy Now! reported Thursday. The initiative was led by Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine. Lerner said the group had to buy ad space because the nation’s major newspapers are not giving room for this perspective. " We’re demanding an immediate ceasefire, but we’re also asking for President Obama to take an immediate leadership in convening an international conference," said Rabbi Lerner. The US rabbi criticized Senator Hilary Clinton for rejecting talks with Hamas. " The direction that was laid out by Senator Clinton yesterday, that she said Obama and she agreed on, which would call for—would

VIDEO - Pro-Israel Rally in NYC
Palestine Think Tank 1/16/2009
Shocking video where Pro-Israel Americans take to the streets in NYC and Alternet interviews them to hear their views on why it is right to "Wipe Gaza off the Map". If any of these comments were made regarding Jews or Israel, there would be an uproar. But… we know all of that by now. On January 11, an estimated 10,000 people rallied in front of the Israeli consulate in midtown New York in support of Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip. The rally, which was organized by UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York in cooperation with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, featured speeches by New York’s most senior lawmakers. While the crowd was riled to righteous anger by speeches about Hamas evildoers, the event was a festive affair that began and ended with singing and joyous dancing.

Israel, United States sign anti-Gaza deal
Middle East Online 1/16/2009
WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni were Friday signed a US-Israeli deal. "The MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) that Foreign Minister Livni and I will sign should be thought of as one of the elements of trying to help bring into being a durable ceasefire," claimed Rice. "There are a number of conditions that need to be obtained if a ceasefire is to be durable," she said. "Among them is to do something about the weapons smuggling. " Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert dispatched Livni to Washington late Thursday on a last-minute mission "to sign a comprehensive US-Israeli agreement aimed at treating the issue of arms smuggling," his office said in a statement. An Israeli official said the contents of the document were still being worked out by US and Israeli diplomats when asked for details.

Israel and US use ceasefire talks as opportunity to increase regional control, including over Iran
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/16/2009
Cairo -- The Hamas leadership and Egyptian officials reached a formula for a ceasefire to end the Israeli military aggression on the Gaza Strip, although the Israelis have rejected it. They have other arrangements in the works with the United States. Under the Hamas and Egyptian formula the Israeli army will immediately withdraw from the Gaza Strip. Under the ceasefire terms, Israeli forces will lift the siege and open all of the crossings, the same conditions that the Hamas government has presented for nearly two years. The formula, which operates as if there are two equal sides involved, depends on the agreement of the Israelis. It includes a mutual and simultaneous ceasefire beginning on Saturday with the introduction of outside security forces into the cities and a full withdrawal of occupation forces within a week.

Israeli court extends imprisonment of Hamas PLC member
Ma’an News Agency 1/16/2009
Hebron – Ma’an – An Israeli court at Ramle prison extended on Tuesday the detention of Muhammad An-Natsha, a Hamas-affiliated member of the Palestinian parliament. The court ruled that An-Natsha is a “danger to the security of the state of Israel. ”Jailed by Israel since 2002, An-Natsha was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) after campaigning from his prison cell. Israel is holding some 40 members of the PLC in Israeli jails, many of them seized in the summer of 2006 in response to the capture of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian fighters from Gaza. [end]

LSE students continue Gaza protest
Alison Kershaw, PA, The Independent 1/16/2009
More than 40 students were continuing their sit-in at the London School of Economics today in protest at the conflict in Gaza. A rally was due to take place this afternoon attended by veteran politician Tony Benn and anti-war campaigner Lindsey German. The students are demanding that LSE director Howard Davies issues a statement condemning Israeli violence on Gaza. The protest began last night when a group of students entered the LSE’s Old Theatre in central London and occupied the stage. In a statement the students said: "LSE is an institution founded on the Fabian values that were the precursor of the human rights agenda of modern politics. "LSE must restate those values and condemn state criminality. It is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of humanity. " A university spokesman said a "small group" of students were staging a "limited occupation" and lectures were continuing as normal.

Kadima: Netanyahu will turn Gaza triumph into defeat
Attila Somfalvi Published, YNetNews 1/16/2009
Despite deciding to suspend election campaign until Gaza offensive ends, Kadima lashes out at Likud chairman through Russian press, says his ’insatiable lust for power’ leads him to ’work against Israel’s interests’ -Despite the big parties’ announcement that they would be suspending their election campaigns pending the conclusion of the Israeli offensive in Gaza, Kadima seems to be losing patience. With the general elections just three weeks away, the ruling party has decided to launch an aggressive assault on Likud ChairmanBenjamin Netanyahu; but since the mainstream Israeli media is following their wartime political conduct closer than ever, Kadima’s onrush is being made via the Russian media. Netanyahu is the subject of two articles feature in Mig Magazine’s weekend issues, and both are less than flattering, going even as far as suggesting the. . .

New Zealand pubs ban Israelis over Gaza operation
Anat Shalev, YNetNews 1/16/2009
Sign placed at entrance to pub in Kaikoura reads, ’Israelis not welcome before Gaza shelling stops’; two Israeli woman ordered to leave another pub because ’Israel kills innocent babies and women’ -An Israeli citizen residing in Kaikoura, New Zealand has informed Ynet Friday that a local pub, the Strawberry Tree, placed a sign outside its door reading, "Israelis not welcome before shelling (in Gaza) stops". Two other Israeli tourists encountered a similar restriction at a café located in another part of the country. Kaikoura, located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, is a tourist hub known for its dolphin shows. "The pub’s owner has extreme views; in the past he worked as a photojournalist in Gaza, and inside the pub a sign reading ’Free Palestine" has been hanging for some time now," the Israeli citizen, who wished to remain nameless, told Ynet.

Petition: Artists for Justice in Palestine
Artists Around the World, Palestine Chronicle 1/16/2009
We regard Israel’s indiscriminate killing in Gaza as a crime against humanity. We protest against Israel’s exterminating tactics and offer our wholehearted support to the people of Gaza. [end]

Cartoon of the day
Guest Post, Palestine Think Tank 1/16/2009

Hayden: ’Iran near nuke decision’
Associates Press Published, YNetNews 1/16/2009
Departing CIA chief says American intelligence agency Tehran appears to be nearing decision on whether to build nuclear warhead - The CIA has hampered al-Qaeda’s free rein in the tribal region of western Pakistan, and Iran appears to be nearing a decision on whether to build a nuclear warhead, departing CIA chief Michael Hayden said Thursday. "The great danger was that the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan was a safe haven. My belief is that it is neither safe nor a haven," Hayden said at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va. , in what probably was his final briefing for reporters. President-elect Barack Obama has picked Leon Panetta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and a former Democratic congressman from California, to head the agency. Hayden said the progress in the tribal region was a "big deal".

Election candidate killed in Iraq
Al Jazeera 1/17/2009
A Shia candidate for provincial elections has been assassinated while campaigning south of Baghdad, highlighting fears that political rivalries will lead to a spike in violence ahead of the January 31 vote for local councils. Gunmen opened fire in the Jbala area near Hillah on Friday, killing Hashim al-Husseini and wounding four of his guards, police said. Al-Husseini was a member of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa Party and was running on the party’s State of Law list for a seat on the Babil provincial council. The 55-year-old politician and father of four lost two of his brothers in an attack two years ago. Election ’threat’Fellow candidate Osama al-Khafaji said the party had been concerned about harassment or verbal threats in the run-up to the elections. "We are afraid that today’s killing will not be the last," al-Khafaji said.

Old battles, new contenders in the Gulf
Sami Moubayed, Asia Times 1/17/2009
DAMASCUS - The founding document of the League of Arab States, laid out during World War II, said the league would "draw closer the relations between member States and coordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty". The statement, hailed at the time as a heroic attempt to unify the Arab world, was proudly signed off by several leaders, including Syria’s Jamil Mardam Bey, Saudi Arabia’s Emir Faisal, and Egypt’s King Farouk and his prime minister Mustapha Nahhas Pasha. A tri-partite alliance between Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia was born in the 1940s along with the League, and it remained intact - despite coups, revolutions, and political upheavals in all three capitals - until relations were soured between Cairo and Riyadh on one front and Damascus on the other in 2005. The main reason for animosity was Iran.

Future Shock at the Army Science Conference
Nick Turse, Middle East Online 1/16/2009
Since the enemy is unlikely to be caught on foot, US troops become ever more reliant on air or artillery strikes that are likely to kill civilians in rural Afghanistan and so recruit more insurgents. - Eco-Explosives, a Bleeding BEAR, and the Armani-Clad Super Soldier - On paper, every session looked like gold to me. Technology and the Warfighter. Neuroscience and Its Potential Applications. Lethality Technologies. Autonomous/Unmanned Systems. (Robots!)But when I got to the luxury hotel in sunny Orlando, Florida, for the 26th Army Science Conference, all that potentially glittered, it often seemed, was nowhere to be found -- except, perhaps, in the threads of the unlikeliest of military uniforms. I expected to hear about nefarious new technologies. To see tomorrow’s killing machines in a dazzling exhibit hall. To learn something about the Army’s secret plans for the coming decades.


Gaza: Terribly Bloodied, Still Breathing
Caoimhe Butterly - Gaza, Palestine Chronicle 1/16/2009
      Children seeking refugee in a UN school in Gaza. (Aljazeera) The morgues of Gaza’s hospitals are over-flowing. The bodies in their blood-soaked white shrouds cover the entire floor space of the Shifa hospital morgue. Some are intact, most horribly deformed, limbs twisted into unnatural positions, chest cavities exposed, heads blown off, skulls crushed in. Family members wait outside to identify and claim a brother, husband, father, mother, wife, child. Many of those who wait their turn have lost numerous family members and loved ones.
     Blood is everywhere. Hospital orderlies hose down the floors of operating rooms, bloodied bandages lie discarded in corners, and the injured continue to pour in: bodies lacerated by shrapnel, burns, bullet wounds. Medical workers, exhausted and under siege, work day and night and each life saved is seen as a victory over the predominance of death.
     The streets of Gaza are eerily silent- the pulsing life and rhythm of markets, children, fishermen walking down to the sea at dawn brutally stilled and replaced by an atmosphere of uncertainty, isolation and fear. The ever-present sounds of surveillance drones, F16s, tanks and Apaches are listened to acutely as residents try to guess where the next deadly strike will be- which house, school, clinic, mosque, governmental building or community centre will be hit next and how to move before it does. That there are no safe places- no refuge for vulnerable human bodies- is felt acutely. It is a devastating awareness for parents- that there is no way to keep their children safe.

The Palestinians say: ’This is a war of extermination’
Ahdaf Soueif in Egypt, The Guardian 1/17/2009
      Everyone says something new is going on here; something different. The residents of Egyptian Rafah are used to the sounds of rockets and shells exploding on the other side of their border, but they’ve never heard the sounds they’ve been hearing over the last 20 days. Twenty-five miles further into Egypt the general hospital at el-Arish is used to receiving the Palestinian wounded. The staff have never seen injuries like these before. The hospital forecourt is swarming with ambulances, paramedics, press. The wounded are raced into casualty.
     The Palestinians are mostly silent; each man working out where he finds himself and what he’s going to do. Fearing for their wounded and fearing for those they’ve left behind, they are silent but unfailingly courteous.
     They try to answer questions. They must be exhausted? "The people of Gaza," they say (not "we"; they’re too proud for that), "the people of Gaza just wish for an hour’s sleep." The case you’re accompanying? "I’m here with my nephew. He’s 19. Shrapnel in his head. He was sitting with his friends. He’s a student. Architecture. The helicopter dropped a bomb and seven of the group were killed and six were injured. They found a boy’s hand on a 3rd floor balcony."

How to sell ’ethical warfare’
Neve Gordon, The Guardian 1/16/2009
      One of my students was arrested yesterday and spent the night in a prison cell. R’s offence was protesting the Israeli assault on Gaza. He joins over 700 other Israelis who have been detained since the beginning of Israel’s ruthless war on Gaza: an estimated 230 of whom are still behind bars. Within the Israeli context, this strategy of quelling protest and stifling resistance is unprecedented, and it is quite disturbing that the international media has failed to comment on it.
     Simultaneously, the Israeli media has been towing the government line to such a degree that no criticism of the war has been voiced on any of the three local television stations. Indeed, the situation has become so absurd that reporters and anchors are currently less critical of the war than the military spokespeople. In the absence of any critical analysis, it is not so surprising that 78% of Israelis, or about 98% of all Jewish Israelis, support the war.
     But eliding critical voices is not the only way that public support has been secured. Support has also been manufactured through ostensibly logical argumentation. One of the ways the media, military and government have been convincing Israelis to rally behind the assault is by claiming that Israel is carrying out a moral military campaign against Hamas. The logic, as Eyal Weizman has cogently observed in his groundbreaking book Hollow Land, is one of restraint.

Why Prevent Humanitarian Aid from Entering Gaza?
Steve Sosebee, Palestine Chronicle 1/16/2009
      As an American working for 20 years in the Gaza Strip, I feel overwhelming pain and sadness at the destruction being wrought on friends who have suffered so much there for so long. While all parties in this conflict — including our government — share responsibility for allowing this crisis to escalate, resulting in hundreds of innocent civilians injured and killed, those who have the task of healing the wounds of war in Gaza must focus on rebuilding once this bloodletting subsides.
     What has been underreported here is the fact that before the start of the Hamas’ rockets and the Israeli assault late last month, many international humanitarian organizations were prevented from providing aid in Gaza. For months, we’ve faced insurmountable obstacles in reaching civilians in Gaza. In my own experience, injured and sick children who had medical care arranged abroad were prevented from traveling by both the Israelis and the Egyptians, while volunteer doctors were denied access into Gaza to treat injured children.
     No one can excuse the immoral actions of the militants indiscriminately firing missiles into Israel. Neither is there justification for denying medical care for injured or sick children abroad, or preventing foreign volunteer doctors from obtaining permits to provide care there.

Israeli Assault Injures 1.5 Million Gazans
Palestine Chronicle 1/16/2009
      ’Talking of Gaza’s civilians, where did they all go?’
     By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth This week the death toll in Gaza passed the 1,000 mark, after nearly three weeks of Israeli air and ground attacks. But surprisingly, no one has reported an even more appalling statistic: that there are some 1.5 million injured Palestinians in Gaza. How is is possible that such an astounding figure could have passed the world’s media by?
     The reason apparently is that they have been relying on the highly unreliable statistics provided by official Palestinian sources. It appears that the Palestinian health ministry only records as wounded those Gazans who need to stay in hospital because of the severity of their injuries.
     That means they only count the more than 4,500 Gazans who have suffered injuries such as severe burns from exploding Israeli phosphorus shells; shrapnel wounds from artillery rounds; broken or lost limbs from aerial bombardment; bullet wounds; physical trauma from falling building debris; and so on.
     But in fact there is another, far more reasonable standard for assessing those injured, one that provides the far higher total of 1.5 million Gazans – or every surviving Palestinian in Gaza. The measure I am referring to is the one employed by Israel.

Gaza 2009: Betrayal Brought Us to This
Stuart Littlewood - London, Palestine Chronicle 1/16/2009
      ’Palestinians are still waiting for simple justice.’ (Save the Children) "What we have done is to start a running sore in the East, and no-one can tell how far that sore will extend."
     Twice running we have stood back and watched. Twice in two years - 2006 Lebanon and 2008/9 Gaza - the British government has done nothing to intervene and indicate to Israel in unmistaken terms that they go too far - well beyond what human decency allows and what we as a nation will stand for -- and that there are consequences.
     Those consequences should include a drastic downgrading of our relationship on all levels and an end to economic and military co-operation.
     If we had no leverage it would still be incumbent on us to initiate moves to uphold international law, human rights and UN resolutions, and to mobilise immediate relief for the civilian community even if we had to land it on Gaza’s beach. After all we - Britain - are the cause of the trouble. We - Britain -- sowed the seed and created the conditions for events that would lead to 60 years of dispossession and torment for the Palestinians and 60 years of brutal expansionism and colonization by the Israelis at their expense.

Israeli war on Gaza: birth pangs of new Palestine
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya , Global Research, Palestine News Network 1/16/2009
      To truly understand the specific you must understand the general and to master knowledge of the general you must understand the specific.
     What is taking place in the Palestinian Territories is related to what is taking place across the Middle East and Central Asia, from Lebanon to Iraq and NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan, as part of a broader geo-strategic objective. All the events in the Middle East are part of a mammoth geo-political jigsaw puzzle; each piece only shows you one picture or a portion of the picture, but when you put all these pieces together you see the grand picture of things.
     For these reasons at times more than one event must be discussed to gain greater understanding of another event, but this at times comes at a risk of diverging or extending one's focus in different directions.
     The following text is based on several key sections of an earlier and broader text; this text is brief in form but comprehensive in its scope and more focused on the events in the Palestinian Territories and their role in the broader chain of regional events in the Mediterranean region and the Middle East.

Gaza: The Tip of an Iceberg
Francis Clark-Lowes, Palestine Think Tank 1/16/2009
      What is happening in Gaza today is the tip of an iceberg. That iceberg is the genocide of the Palestinian people. It is a slow genocide, just slow enough for the world to look the other way most of the time. Occasionally, as at present, it speeds up and we see its tip.
     Such genocides are a common accompaniment of exclusive colonial projects. The Spanish committed genocide against the Incas, the British committed genocide against the Aboriginal and Maori people, the Americans committed genocide against the Native Americans, the Belgians killed 10 million Congolese. Now the Jews are trying to wipe out the Palestinians.
     You may say that I should moderate my language and say only that we are witness to an unfortunate war in which people are getting killed. But this is part of an intentional war on the part of Israel, and, moreover, it clearly coincides with the international legal definition of genocide. Let us not, therefore mince our words.

Israel’s Sins Will Come Back to Haunt the West
Aijaz Zaka Syed – Dubai, Palestine Chronicle 1/16/2009
      We have entered the third week of Israel’s war on Gaza. Pundits have said whatever needed to be said from the comfort and safety of their cocoons. In fact, we have all begun repeating ourselves as we struggle to capture the magnitude of the man-made tragedy that Gaza is over and over again.
     Hundreds of millions of agitated people have been on the streets worldwide for days -- from Los Angeles to London and from Cairo to Kuala Lumpur -- pleading with Israel to spare the people who have, God knows, suffered enough.
     But that doesn’t seem to have made any difference to the great State of Israel founded for and by the people who call themselves descendants of prophets and inheritors of divine scriptures.
     Israel continues to kill, kill and kill’like a killing machine without batting an eyelid and without the slightest hint of mercy or sympathy for its victims.

When Israel Expelled Palestinians
Randall Kuhn, MIFTAH 1/15/2009
      "Think about what would happen if for seven years rockets had been fired at San Diego, California from Tijuana, Mexico." Within hours scores of American pundits and politicians had mimicked Barak’s comparisons almost verbatim. In fact, in this very paper on January 9 House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor ended an opinion piece by saying "America would never sit still if terrorists were lobbing missiles across our border into Texas or Montana." But let’s see if our political and pundit class can parrot this analogy.
     Think about what would happen if San Diego expelled most of its Hispanic, African American, Asian American, and Native American population, about 48 percent of the total, and forcibly relocated them to Tijuana? Not just immigrants, but even those who have lived in this country for many generations. Not just the unemployed or the criminals or the America haters, but the school teachers, the small business owners, the soldiers, even the baseball players.
     What if we established government and faith-based agencies to help move white people into their former homes? And what if we razed hundreds of their homes in rural areas and, with the aid of charitable donations from people in the United States and abroad, planted forests on their former towns, creating nature preserves for whites to enjoy? Sounds pretty awful, huh? I may be called anti-Semitic for speaking this truth. Well, I’m Jewish and the scenario above is what many prominent Israeli scholars say happened when Israel expelled Palestinians from southern Israel and forced them into Gaza. But this analogy is just getting started.

Gaza’s medics: 'They know they are going to die'
Eva Bartlett writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 1/15/2009
      "If this thing doesn’t stop in another week, some of them will die. And they know it," Alberto said about the war on Gaza, as we looked at a photo I’d taken of Saber today. I’d thought the same thing earlier, when I said "yatiek al-afia" (have strength) to each medic climbing into their ambulances. They’d gotten "coordination" to go to one of the many areas within Gaza that the Israeli military has invaded, taken over, and prevented medics from reaching for nearly two weeks now. The coordination process is a joke, necessitating the Red Crescent to ask the Red Cross to ask for Israel’s permission to pick up those the Israeli army has killed or injured, or terrified into hiding in their homes, or even locked into their houses and abused, shot, or shelled, as with one testimony from Ezbet Abed Rabbo and another from the Zeitoun area.
     As we looked at photos of his four pretty little daughters, Saber -- tall, kind of goofy-friendly, and unquestionably dedicated to his task like the other medics and drivers -- didn’t let on that his home had been destroyed two days ago, during the evening. He showed me his prized girls, beaming with adoration, and a couple of random video clips about cobras, a snake fascination he seems to have. He was holding a bag and looked ready to go somewhere eventually, so I asked. "Home," he answered, but not to his house. He and family were staying with his sister since his house was hit four times by tank shells, ravaged and burned leaving nothing to return to, he told me matter-of-factly, no dramatzing.

Gaza: A New Middle East Indeed
Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle 1/15/2009
      As Israel unleashed its military fury against Lebanon for several weeks in July-August 2006, it had one major objective: to permanently ’extract’ Hezbollah from the South as a fighting force, and to undermine it as a rising political movement, capable of disrupting, if not overshadowing the ’friendly’ and ’moderate’ political regime in Beirut.
     As Israeli bombs fell, and with them hundreds of Lebanese civilians, and much of the country’s infrastructure, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sprung into action. She too had one major objective: to delay a ceasefire, which the rest of the international community, save the US and Britain, desperately demanded. Rice, who is merely, but faithfully reiterating the Bush Administration’s policy, hoped that the Israeli bombs would succeed in achieving what her government’s grand policies failed to achieve, namely a New Middle East.
     In a friendly meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem, on July 25, 2006, Rice eagerly, although rashly wished to interpret to equally eager journalists the political promise that lies within the Israeli onslaught. "As we deal with the current circumstances, we need always to be cognizant of and looking to what kind of Middle East we are trying to build. It is time for a new Middle East," she said. Olmert nodded.

Gaza orgs: Silence is complicity
Appeal, various undersigned, Electronic Intifada 1/15/2009
      With the death toll in Gaza growing hourly, silence is complicity. It is imperative for concerned citizens to demand that their governments take immediate action in order to stop Israeli genocide in Gaza.
     Write your representative today and deman
     That Israeli war criminals be brought before the International Criminal Court or a Special Tribunal for war crimes committed in Gaza. (Remind your representative that the investigation, prosecution or extradition of those responsible for war crimes is an obligation of all high contracting parties to the Geneva Conventions.) That in response to Israel’s severe breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, your state terminate all favorable trade agreements and economic relations with Israel, including the EU Association Agreement which is conditional upon adherence to human rights and democratic principles.
     That your state cut all diplomatic ties with Israel.
     The current events in Gaza were predicated and advocated for by Israeli Professor Arnon Sofer, Head of the Israeli army’s National Defense College.

Our Palestinian Future in Israel: How Long Can We Be Dehumanised in a Racist State?
Khalil Nakhleh, Palestine Think Tank 1/16/2009
      Every month or so I drive for three hours from Ramallah to my native village in Upper Galilee to hike in the olive orchards engulfing my village and to reminisce about my childhood. My village, which was perched alone on that hill under the cold drift from Mount Hermon, as I remember it, now is forced to share the surrounding hills with Jewish-only colonies. One morning, one of those Saturday hiking mornings, two Jewish colonists from a nearby colony passed me on their dirt bikes on their way to promenade in our olive orchards and hurled at me a soft and humane "boker tov" (good morning), to which I responded, equally softly and humanely. They continued their ride, and I was forcefully left with my unanswered questions about the nature of our "living together."
     On the face of it, the "boker tov" greeting was natural and expected. But why did it upset me? Something did not settle well with me. By itself, it was a natural human greeting, but in an unnatural context and environment: these two men were there, on my land, only because they happened to be Jews (and, most likely, Zionists). Thus, they were rendered privileged to live in a subsidised house that was built for them on stolen Arab land, while people in my village are not even permitted to build or expand their houses on their very own land in order to meet the need of their extended families, only because they happened to be Palestinian Arabs. This is what did not settle well with me. Because, as they passed me on that October Saturday morning, we were not equal under this Zionist-Jewish system, nor did we have access to the same resources - economic, legal, political, etc. - in a place where I should have been "more equal" and more privileged, having been born on this very land. My narrative has been undermined by force and mythology.

Gaza invasion: Powered by the U.S.
Robert Bryce, 1/16/2009
      Taxpayers are spending over $1 billion to send refined fuel to the Israeli military -- at a time when Israel doesn’t need it and America does.
     Jan. 16, 2009 | Israel’s current air and ground assault on the Gaza Strip has left about 1,000 Palestinians dead, including 400 women and children. Several thousand people have been wounded and dozens of buildings have been destroyed. An estimated 90,000 Gazans have abandoned their homes. Israel’s campaign in Gaza, which began more than two weeks ago, has been denounced by the Red Cross, multiple Arab and European countries, and agencies from the United Nations. Demonstrations in Pakistan and elsewhere have been held to denounce America’s support for Israel.
     It’s well known that the U.S. supplies the Israelis with much of their military hardware. Over the past few decades, the U.S. has provided about $53 billion in military aid to Israel. What’s not well known is that since 2004, U.S. taxpayers have paid to supply over 500 million gallons of refined oil products -- worth about $1.1 billion –- to the Israeli military. While a handful of countries get motor fuel from the U.S., they receive only a fraction of the fuel that Israel does -- fuel now being used by Israeli fighter jets, helicopters and tanks to battle Hamas.
     According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, between 2004 and 2007 the U.S. Defense Department gave $818 million worth of fuel to the Israeli military. The total amount was 479 million gallons, the equivalent of about 66 gallons per Israeli citizen. In 2008, an additional $280 million in fuel was given to the Israeli military, again at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. The U.S. has even paid the cost of shipping the fuel from U.S. refineries to ports in Israel.

Trauma and terror in Gaza
Sami Abdel-Shafi, The Guardian 1/16/2009
      We who live in the shadow of death under the Israeli onslaught veer hour by hour from defiance to despair
     I never imagined I would, but now I know what it feels like to be stalked by death. Last week, I had just arrived for an engagement at a media building in Gaza City only to find the studio crew huddled in fear and peering out of the window. An Israeli rocket had just landed, killing four pedestrians close to where the car that drove me had turned just minutes prior. On Thursday night, media offices in that same building were rocketed by Israel’s air force.
     Later the same evening, I called on relatives who live about 100m from our house. On my way back, one of Israel’s angry jets, which have covered Gaza’s skies for more than 20 days now, seemed to release a bomb. Suddenly panicking, I let go of my torch and, unable to see anything in the dark, crouched on the sidewalk – even though I knew that would be no protection from an F-16’s bomb if it landed nearby. I was lucky; the bomb never came – it was just my anxiety.
     But for ordinary Gazans, this is a real fear; it is hard to take seriously Israel’s claims that it is not deliberately targeting civilians. I am still alive, but I feel I am losing hope. How can we rebuild the Gaza Strip once this all ends when we fear even to raise ours heads?

Israel’s lab in Palestine
Mel Frykberg, Al-Ahram Weekly 4/26/2007
      Disturbing reports allege that Israel is using Gaza as a field to experiment its new lethal weapons
     Doctors in Gaza have been reporting strange wounds on the bodies of innocent bystanders and those targeted by drones. These wounds consist of many small holes, often invisible to X-rays, and burns caused by heat so intense that many cases have required amputation because of the extensive burning.
     Habas Al-Wahid, head of the emergency centre at the Shuhada Al-Aqsa Hospital in Gaza city told the journalists that the legs of the injured were sliced from their bodies "as if a saw was used to cut through the bone." But there was no evidence of ordinary metal shrapnel in or near the wounds.
     At Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Juma Saka said that on examination of the wounds, the doctors had found a powder on the victim’s bodies and in their internal organs. Afterwards they removed the microscopic particles which turned out to be carbon and tungsten.
     "The powder was like microscopic shrapnel, and this is likely what caused the injuries," Saka said. Complicating the issue was the death of many patients several days afterwards, although they appeared to recover initially. Accusations that Israel is using Gaza and its inhabitants as a laboratory to test new military weapons, have been made from several quarters.