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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
19 January, 2008

Ten more people found in rubble, thousands in mourning
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/19/2009
Gaza - It is the second day of the "ceasefire" which has Israeli forces still inside the Gaza Strip. The year and a half siege is still in place, as is the closure. Troops line the boundaries. Israeli warplanes still fly overhead with reconnaissance aircraft circling. A warship fired a missile, but no one was injured. Rescue teams found 10 more Palestinians dead in the rubble that the Gaza Strip was degraded to. Hamas’ armed resistance wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, held a press conference this morning paying tribute to the Palestinian people for remaining steadfast during 22 days of a major Israeli operation. Thousands of people are in mourning in the Strip that by the initial estimates of the National Statistics Service will take 1. 9 billion USD to rebuild. Twenty-two thousand homes were partially or completely destroyed.

Israel to keep tight grip on Gaza reconstruction
Reuters, YNetNews 1/19/2009
Western diplomats say Israel asked UN, other aid groups to provide detailed list of goods, equipment and personnel that they want to bring into Strip, in addition to ’guarantees’ their projects will not benefit Hamas -Israel intends to exert control over the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip following its 22-day offensive, and is seeking guarantees that no projects will benefit Hamas, Western diplomats said on Monday. Israel, which declared a unilateral ceasefire on Sunday, retains full control over Gaza’s commercial crossings, through which goods and other materials for rebuilding must pass. Smuggler tunnels under Gaza’s border with Egypt, which were used by Hamas and many ordinary Palestinians to get around the Israeli-led blockade, were heavily bombed during the war and are, at least temporarily, out of commission.

Soldiers pull back - Gunboats continue to fire on Gaza shore - Factions split on truce
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli military boats have continued to fire on Gaza shore despite the two unilaterally declared ceasefires from Israel and Gaza factions. The morning hours of Monday witnessed a number of violations on the Israeli side, including a naval gunboat aiming its weapons and firing on an area near Gaza City. No injuries were reported. Several eyewitnesses confirmed the reports. At the same time, Israeli warjets dumped thousands of fliers over the Strip warning citizens to stay away from border areas as Israel completes its withdrawal. Ground troops have withdrawn from Gaza City, opening up the main road connecting the north and central Strip, Salah Ad-Din. The coastal road has also been cleared. This has allowed displaced citizens to head back to their homes to inspect the damage. South of Gaza City, tanks have re-evacuated the abandoned Israeli settlement of Netsarim.

Israel says troops out of Gaza in time for Obama inauguration
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli officials in Jerusalem said Monday that the Israeli army will begin to withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip before the inauguration of the US president. Taking place on Tuesday, President-elect Barack Obama will become president as Israeli troops move all remaining forces out of Gaza, according to sources in Jerusalem. Officials said the withdrawal will be proportionate to calm in the Strip, saying Israel will quickly respond to any attacks by Palestinian militants there. Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz reported Monday that the remaining soldiers in Gaza have taken up positions in the event that they decide to hold off on leaving. Several military sources told the paper that a withdrawal will be completed soon, however, and that some units will deploy along the border with Gaza in anticipation of attacks from Hamas-affiliated armed groups and other factions.

Arab states say Israel used ammo in Gaza that contained depleted uranium
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
Arab nations accused Israel on Monday of blasting Gaza with ammunition containing depleted uranium, and urged the International Atomic Energy Agency to investigate reports that traces of it had been found in victims of the shelling. In a letter on behalf of Arab ambassadors accredited in Austria, Saudi ambassador Prince Mansour Al-Saud expressed "our deep concern regarding the information. . . that traces of depleted uranium have been found in Palestinian victims. " A final draft of the letter was made available toon Monday. It urgently called on IAEA Director General Mohammed ElBaradei to carry out a "radiological and physical assessment in order to verify the presence of depleted uranium in the weaponry used by Israel. . . in the Gaza Strip. "Officials at the Israeli mission to the UN nuclear watchdog said they were in no position to comment without having seen the letter.

Outcry over weapons used in Gaza
Al Jazeera 1/19/2009
Medics working in the Gaza Strip have condemned Israel’s use of suspected "new weapons" that inflict horrific injuries they say most surgeons will not have seen before. Dr Jan Brommundt, a German doctor working for Medecins du Monde in the south Gazan city of Khan Younis, described the injuries he had seen as "absolutely gruesome". Speaking to Al Jazeera on Tuesday, Brommundt said surgeons had reported many cases where casualties had lost both legs rather than one, prompting suspicions that the Israelis were using some form of Dense Inert Metal Explosives (Dime). When detonated, a Dime device expels a blade of charged tungsten dust that burns and destroys everything within a four-metre radius. Brommundt also described widespread but previously unseen abdominal injuries that appear minor at first but degenerate within hours causing multi-organ failure.

Givati commander: IDF fire wasn’t excessive
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/19/2009
Colonel Ilan Malka addressed his brigade’s activity in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, says ’we can clearly say we defeated Hamas’. Entire bunkers found under beds in Strip’s houses, he adds - IDF holds fire and starts concluding operation. Givati Brigade Commander Colonel Ilan Malka said Monday that "there was not excessive use of fire" during the Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza. According to Malka, who operated with his soldiers in the Zeituon neighborhood in northern Gaza City, "In brigade’s area it’s safe to say that we clearly defeated Hamas. "The colonel pointed out that during the previous IDF operation in Gaza at the start of 2008, two of the brigade’s fighters were killed by fire opened from within a house. "I will not send 10 soldiers to a house that is suspected of being booby-trapped to have them blow up inside it. If Hamas wanted to protect the family inside, it wouldn’t have booby-trapped the house," he said.

Travel advisory issued for top IDF officers
Tova Tzimuki, YNetNews 1/19/2009
State expresses concern over international human rights groups’ intention to file war crimes charges against military personnel with The Hague, local European courts; says officers planning to travel must contact Judge Advocate General’s Office first - IDF officers intending to travel to Europe, whether for business or pleasure, have been advised to contact the Judge Advocate General’s Office prior to leaving Israel; and some may be instructed not to leave the country. The advisory has been issued following Israel’s concern that international arrest warrants may be issued against officers who were involved in the Israeli offensive in Gaza, on charges of war crimes. Jerusalem has reportedly received several reports suggesting international human rights groups are in the process of gathering evidence in the form of photos and testimonials, with the intent of filing suits both with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague and in local European courts.

23rd Day of Continuous IOF Offensive on the Gaza Strip
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 1/18/2009
IOF Partially Redeployed in the Gaza Strip * Gaza City and the Northern Gaza Strip Are Cut off from Other Areas in the Gaza Strip. * Medical Crews Pick up Decayed Corpses from Areas that Had Been Invaded by IOF; at Least 62 Corpses Have Been Found * The Total Number of Victims Mounts to 1,251 Including 904 Civilians and 168 civil police officers * This Number Includes 292 Children and 97 Women * The Number Included Also 7 Medical Personnel and 3 Journalists - In the early morning of Sunday, 18 January 2009, Israel declared a ceasefire, while decided to keep its military presence in the Gaza Strip. Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have redeployed outside Palestinian communities, but they have continued to control the road that extends from al-Mentar (Karni) crossing in the east to the beach in the west, south of Gaza City, cutting off Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip from other areas to the south.

Three civilians die of earlier wounds in Gaza, 12 more dead bodies recovered from the rubble
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/19/2009
Palestinian medical sources announced that three Palestinian civilians died on Monday due to wounds they sustained during the military offensive targeting the Gaza Strip. Doctors in Gaza City’s Al Shifa hospital said that in addition to the three killed today ambulance crews also recovered to today 12 bodies from the rubble in Gaza City. With those killed today and newly recovered bodies, the death toll of the 3-week long Israeli military operation in Gaza has reached 1,318. The Israeli military started its offensive on Saturday December 27th, 2008. The attacks started by aerial and see bombardment, one week later Israeli pushed tank and troops into the coastal region, the military operation lasted for 22 days and caused the death of 1,205 Palestinians by Saturday Jan. 17th 2009, when Israel declared it had ’achieved it’s objectives’.

IDF: Hamas forced us to act in civilian areas
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/19/2009
Army estimates 500 gunmen killed in Gaza fighting, says Hamas used ambulances to transport its gunmen; Iran looking to replenish Hamas’ depleted arsenal -Addressing the severe damage caused to civilian infrastructure in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, army officials said Monday forces had no other choice but to act in population hubs as Hamas gunmen were operating out of neighborhoods and private homes. The IDF said thousands of phone calls were placed and an even greater number of pamphlets were distributed in Gaza to warn its civilians of planned attacks. TV broadcasts were also interrupted during the campaign toward this end, they added. The army said that in addition to operating out of civilian structures and using civilians as human shields, Hamas also used ambulances that were dispatched to areas that had been bombarded to transport its gunmen.

Bureau of Statistics initial findings: Gaza needs a year of reconstruction at 1.9 billion dollars
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/19/2009
Ramallah -- The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics issued its initial findings indicating that the Gaza Strip has become a humanitarian, economic, social and health disaster area. PBS President Louai Shaaban said today that preliminary counts of 1,305 Palestinians killed and 5, 400 wounded in 22 days will bring additional, unforeseen issues. Shaaban noted on Monday the destruction of the infrastructure of the public service sector and the destruction of buildings of public institutions, associations and private property. He said the aggression reached health institutions, educational buildings and sports facilities, along with the buildings of the UNRWA. "It has led to the total paralysis in the social and economic life. " The PBS president said that today’s report provides a quantitative overview of the losses resulting from the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, with. . .

OCHA on Gaza, last days
Palestine News Network 1/19/2009
Gaza - Christopher Gunness of the United Nations says, "Where you have a direct hit on an UNRWA school where about 1,600 people had taken refuge, where the Israeli army knows the coordinates and knows who’s there, where this comes as the latest in a catalogue of direct and indirect attacks on UNRWA facilities, there have to be investigations to establish whether war crimes have been committed. "Gunness is a spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs issued its report for 17-18 January 2009, 1700 hours:Following a meeting of the Israeli security cabinet on 17 January, Prime Minister Olmert announced a unilateral cease-fire in Gaza, which came into effect at 0200 hours local time 18 January, and stated that Israeli forces will remain in the Gaza Strip ’for the time being’ and respond to fire from militants.

Inside Gaza: Israeli troops have vanished but the damage is plain to see
Rory McCarthy in Zeitoun, Gaza, The Guardian 1/19/2009
Israeli forces leave trail of destruction after withdrawal back to the Gaza border - No Israeli forces could be seen today on the main road connecting the south and north of Gaza, but signs of the heavy toll exacted on the territory’s civilian population during the three-week conflict were unmissable. A day after Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire, one subsequently matched by Hamas, its forces appeared to have withdrawn back to Gaza’s eastern border with Israel. Travelling today from Rafah, in the far south, to the edge of Gaza City, no Israeli troops or tanks could be seen. But along the road, every police station had been destroyed and the damage increased greatly in intensity on the southern edges of Gaza City. In Zeitoun, close to the site of the former Israeli settlement of Netzarim, abandoned in 2005, great numbers of apartment buildings and homes were damaged or completely destroyed by tank shells or machine gun fire.

Palestinian estimates: Fighting caused $1.9 billion in damage to Gaza Strip
Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
The economic damage to the Gaza Strip as a result of Israel’s three-week offensive is estimated at $1. 9 billion, according to the Palestinian Statistical Authority in Ramallah. The estimate includes the value of destroyed structures, the anticipated cost of clearing away debris, and the damage caused to ongoing economic activity in the Strip. According to the authors of the estimate, these figures are conservative and not final. The Palestinian Authority calculations hold that Israel’s offensive resulted in damage to 14 percent of all structures and buildings in the Gaza Strip. The total number of such structures, according to data from the end of 2007, stood at 147,437. An estimated 4,100 homes were destroyed in their entirety, comprising damage that is assessed at $200 million. Partial damage was caused to approximately 17,000 other residences and buildings,. . .

Gazans return to mourn their dead and salvage their lives
Donald Macintyre in Gaza City, The Independent 1/20/2009
On a stretch of sand between flattened buildings, the stricken Samouni family were yesterday erecting the mourning tent for 22 of their relatives whose decomposed bodies had been dragged from the rubble a fortnight after being killed by Israeli shelling. It was the first day that Gazans were able to return to the site of their ruined homes since the end of the Israeli military offensive. Most of the survivors of the Samouni extended family came to survey the 12 acres of razed farmland, a destroyed mosque and the pile of bulldozed concrete which had been the warehouse where 80 of them had taken shelter, only to come under lethal tank or aerial fire, or both. For Mousa Samouni, 19, reticent and with every indication of still being in deep shock, the return was the culmination of a horrific experience that began at 7. 30am on 4 January, when Israeli troops arrived at his home in the Zeitoun district of southern Gaza City under the cover of heavy fire as the offensive pushed west from the border towards the coast.

Gazans heading back to their homes - if they exist
IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1/20/2009
TEL AVIV, 19 January 2009 (IRIN) - As relative calm settles over Gaza for the first time in three weeks following the Israeli ceasefire, the scale of the humanitarian crisis is becoming evident. Some 100 bodies have been discovered in areas that were previously inaccessible. The grim discovery brings the Gaza death toll since the Israeli offensive began on 27 December 2008 to over 1,300, according to officials of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNWRA) - and that number is expected to rise. Over 5,400 have been wounded. Israel has tightly controlled information during its military operation, not allowing foreign correspondents into the Strip, although some Israeli media were allowed in briefly - but under the supervision of the Israeli army spokesperson’s unit. News agencies still operating in Gaza report that many of the civilians who had fled their homes over the past few weeks were heading back, carrying whatever they had on donkeys. -- See also: See latest UN field update (PDF) on Gaza needs

VIDEO - Gaza film shows white phosphorus from alleged Israeli attack
Robert Booth, The Guardian 1/19/2009
The Guardian has obtained vivid footage of the effect of white phosphorus allegedly used by Israel during a bomb attack on Gaza last week. The film was made by Fida Qishta, a camerawoman working for the International Solidarity Movement, a non-governmental organisation operating in Gaza. It was shot on Wednesday 14 January in Khoza’a, east of Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip. It shows clumps of the burning chemical on the ground as locals try to put it out by covering it with dust, mud and grass. The chemical, which locals describe as phosphorus, fails to go out and continues to burn through the debris piled upon it. As they kick it about, it subdivides into smaller lumps and continues to burn. The use of white phosphorus as a weapon – as opposed to its use as an obscurant and infrared blocking smoke screen – is banned by the United Nation’s third convention on conventional weapons, which covers the use of incendiary devices.

Amnesty accuses Israel of war crimes over use of white phosphorus in Gaza
Reuters, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
Human rights group Amnesty International accused Israel of war crimes on Monday, saying its use of white phosphorus munitions in densely populated areas of Gaza was indiscriminate and illegal. White phosphorus is a high-incendiary substance that burns very brightly and for long periods. It is frequently used to produce smoke screens, but can also be used as a weapon, producing extreme burns if it makes contact with skin. "Such extensive use of this weapon in Gaza’s densely populated residential neighbourhoods is inherently indiscriminate," Donatella Rovera, a Middle East researcher with Amnesty International, said in a statement. "Its repeated use in this manner, despite evidence of its indiscriminate effects and its toll on civilians, is a war crime," she said.

Arabs: Israel ammo in Gaza had depleted uranium
Associated Press, YNetNews 1/19/2009
Saudi ambassador to Austria expresses ’deep concern regarding information that traces of depleted uranium have found in Palestinian victims’; IAEA urged to launch investigation - Arab nations accused Israel on Monday of blasting Gaza with ammunition containing depleted uranium and urged the International Atomic Energy Agency to investigate reports that traces of it had been found in victims of the shelling. In a letter on behalf of Arab ambassadors accredited in Austria, Prince Mansour Al-Saoud, the Saudi Ambassador, expressed "our deep concern regarding the information. . . that traces of depleted uranium have been found in Palestinian victims. " A final draft of the letter was made available to The Associated Press on Monday. It urgently requested IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei to "carry out a radiological and physical assessment in order to verify the presence of depleted uranium in the weaponry used by Israel.

Palestinian infant poisoned by illegal factory’s chemical runoff
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Tulkarem – Ma’an – A Palestinian child is suffering from bizarre health problems after coming in contact with runoff from an Israeli factory illegally constructed near the West Bank city of Tulkarem. Last week, two-and-a-half-year old Husam Bilal Abu Rabee came into contact with a stream of liquid draining out of the factory and onto farmland owned by the Palestinian family near the Irtah suburb, south of Tulkarem. His mother Kefah says she immediately took the child to a hospital. His his body was covered in “a black layer” of chemicals, and he began vomiting and suffering seizures shortly following the exposure, and developed a severe lung infection, doctors said. The Palestinian Authority (PA)’s Environmental Ministry in Tulkarem told Ma’an that the hospital discharged the child on Sunday, although he is still suffering from several of the symptoms.

VIDEO - White phosphorus in Gaza: the victims
The Guardian 1/19/2009
Ayman al Najar, 13, tells how he lost his sister, grandfather and cousin in a bomb attack on 14 January in Khoza’a, southern Gaza. Five days later his wounds still will not heal. [end]

Three Palestinians succumb to wounds, 12 found dead in rubble
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Medical sources in the Gaza Strip told Ma’an on Monday that three Palestinians died from wounds obtained during the three-week offensive. They were being treated at Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Ambulance crews also uncovered at least 12 corpses of Palestinians killed in the fighting, many of whom may have bled to death awaiting medical care. Another 50 injured Palestinians were transferred to hospitals in Egypt through the Rafah border, according to the de facto Health Ministry’s Dr Mo’awyeh Hasanein, who directs the Ambulance and Emergency Care Department. Paramedics found some 100 bodies under the rubble of collapsed buildings and homes on Sunday, when Israeli forces began their withdrawal. Inhabitants continued to return to their homes on Monday, surveying the damage and examining the rubble for recoverable belongings.

Some families remain indoors after ceasefire
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/19/2009
Gaza -- The planes, tanks and missiles of Israeli forces did not only deprive the people of Gaza’s Zeitoun neighborhood of food and drink, but deprived them of all the meanings of security and peace of mind. Sleep became impossible, something of an unattainable miracle that Gazans had waited for since the twenty-seventh of December. The Israeli ceasefire may not be appropriate in terms or long-lasting, but it has allowed thousands of people have to sleep, now through the tears they still spill in mourning of the huge losses. Ramadan is a Gaza City resident from the Zeitoun neighborhood. He said that people were hostages in their homes which had become the cells of many families and the graves of others in this, "the world’s largest open air prison. " With more bodies uncovered each of the two days of ceasefire it is unknown how many people have died although the number. . .

Long road ahead for Gaza reconstruction, 'if the ceasefire lasts'
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Oxfam International has begun the long process of delivering immediate aid to Gazans, starting with food packages and water to those most in need. Food packages from the distribution center contain 14 items, including canned meat and vegetables, sugar, jam, tuna and fresh milk. They will be delivered to 3,200 families over the next week. Oxfam staff estimated that it will be at least another week before fresh vegetables can be delivered into the Strip. Water delivery coordinator Yasser Nasser said the organization is not even aiming at World Health Organization standards for the minimum amount of water per person per day. Right now our concern is to get water, any water, to those who need it, he said. The organization has contracted private water trucks, because so many of the trucks in Gaza are incapacitated, that deliver approximately 10 liters of water per. . .

Goods finally make it through Gaza crossings after 22 days of war
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – As the fighting winds down in Gaza and an uneasy truce prevails, aid workers from around the world enter the Strip, with tons of medical supplies, food and blankets to aid the injured and displaced and to bury the dead. Since Israel’s ceasefire was called Sunday morning 42 injured Gazans have passed through Rafah into Egypt for treatment and tons of medical supplies from nations across the globe have passed into Gaza. The supplies are being coordinated by a committee in Rafah and Al-Oja, from where supplies are being packed and sent into Gaza. Representatives from the Palestinian embassy in Cairo are also in northern Egypt for the mass aid effort. To relieve exhausted doctors 49 international doctors from Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Greece, Ireland, Canada, the UK and Russia entered into the Gaza Strip with 140 tons of medicine and supplies from Morocco,. . .

Paralyzed by an Israeli bullet, one teenager seeks relief for Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – At least three bullets were fired into the teenager’s body, two that went straight through his torso and into his spine, and another in his lung. And doctors now say Jamal Mohammed Judeh, 18, will be pushed around in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Israeli soldiers fired at him during a demonstration in Ramallah two years ago. But today Jamal is at a donation center in Ramallah, the Baladna Cultural Center, where he is collecting food and aid on behalf of the Agricultural Committees for Gaza, his home. Nine years earlier, Jamal and his family moved from the Gaza Strip to Ramallah, yet he says he still feels connected to them and wants to do everything he can to help. “When I see people come to the center and donate I feel that everybody is standing with Gaza,” he says.

Two billion in pledges expected for Gaza at Kuwait Summit on Arab World economy
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Two billion in pledges from the Arab world is expected at the Kuwait Summit of the Arab Leave, which begins Monday. Leaders from 22 Arab countries, including acting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, will attend the meeting, hosted by Kuwaiti Prince Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad. The summit is working to take the most recent developments in the region into account, and a great deal of time is expected to be spent on the crisis in Gaza. Speaking about the war on Gaza, Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Mousa called it a “sinking boat that the summit can save. ”The official agenda for the meeting is Economic, Social and Development issues in the Arab world. It will examine the impact of the global financial crisis and its effect on the area, as well as the current situation in Gaza.

Israeli seriously hurt in West Bank shooting attack
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
A 34-year-old resident of the West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashahar was seriously wounded on Monday evening when a gunman opened fire on his car on the highway near the settlement. Moshe Avitan, who was driving at the time, suffered wounds to his face from the shooting. His wife took the wheel and drove to the community’s security guard. Hezi Tzuriel, a paramedic stationed in the neighboring settlement of Ofra, arrived shortly and initially managed to stabilize Avitan. Tzuriel told Haaretz that at first the victim was fully alert. "Slowly his condition worsened until he lost consciousness," the paramedic said. "We identified an entry wound from a bullet in his left cheek but found no exit wound. We provided further medical care and sedated him. "Avitan was airlifted by army helicopter, with his wife at his side, to Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem.

Settler seriously hurt in West Bank shooting attack near Ramallah
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
A 34-year-old resident of the West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashahar was seriously wounded yesterday evening when a gunman opened fire on his car on the highway near the settlement. Moshe Avitan, who was driving at the time, suffered wounds to his face from the shooting. His wife took the wheel and drove to the community’s security guard. Hezi Tzuriel, a paramedic stationed in the neighboring settlement of Ofra, arrived shortly thereafter, and initially managed to stabilize Avitan. Tzuriel told Haaretz that at first the victim was fully alert. "Slowly his condition worsened until he lost consciousness," the paramedic said. "We identified an entry wound from a bullet in his left cheek but found no exit wound. We provided further medical care and sedated him. "Avitan was airlifted by army helicopter, with his wife at his side, to Hadassah Hospital on Mt.

Israeli critically hurt in West Bank shooting
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 1/19/2009
Man found shot near Kochav Hashahar settlement; airlifted to nearby hospital. Incident believed to be drive-by shooting attack; security forces canvas area for perpetrators - Moshe Avitan, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashahar suffered a critical gunshot wound to the head Monday, in what is believed to be a drive-by shooting attack involving a Palestinian vehicle. The incident took place near Kochav Hashahar, east of Ramallah. Reports of a shooting near the settlement reached the IDF, police and Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency services around 9 pm. Avitan and his wife were apparently shot from a car speeding by them. The woman was unharmed and both were able to get to the settlement’s entrance on their own. MDA paramedics were immediately dispatched to the scene, later calling for an aerial assist.

Hizbullah Palestine launches projectiles toward Israel; Hamas, Fatah and DFLP confirm commitment to truce
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Gaza - Ma’an - While Hamas and Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades have reiterated their commitment to the ceasefire “in the interest of Palestinian civilians,” other factions including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hizbullah in Palestine continue to fire projectiles into Israel. Hizbullah Palestine sent a statement Monday claiming to have launched two Radwan projectiles into Israel. This is part of what the fighters call their “Flame of Gaza” operation. They noted that they have shot five projectiles into Israel since the first unilateral ceasefire was called on Sunday morning. Both Hizbullah Palestine and the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades (the armed wing of the PFLP) maintain their right to resistance. For their part, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, affiliated with Fatah, and the Ayman Juda Brigades both confirmed their commitment to the ceasefire and the. . .

Seminary shooter’s East Jerusalem home slated for demolition
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israeli forces sealed off the home of Ala’ Abu Dheim in the Mount Al-Mukabber area of East Jerusalem on Monday while it is slated for demolition, according to relatives. Ala’ had attacked the Jerusalem Seminary for Rabbis in 2008, killing eight Israelis and 10 others before soldiers shot him dead. Lawyer Mousa Abu Dheim, a relative of the family, told Ma’an that border guards, police and special forces had taken over the neighborhood sometime around 2:00am. They then began to evacuate the top two floors of the four-story home, waking its inhabitants and forcing them out into the cold. Soldiers reportedly blocked openings to the building with cement. The Abu Dheim family has said publicly that they consider the procedure collective punishment, particularly considering that Ala’ had only a single room in the house, while 25 others live on the other four floors.

IDF sealing off East Jerusalem home of yeshiva terrorist
Jonathan Lis and Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 1/19/2009
Israeli security forces on Monday began to seal of the East Jerusalem house of the Palestinian terrorist who opened fire on a Jerusalem yeshiva last March, killing eight students. The High Court of justice two weeks approved the move to block the Jabel Mukaber home of Ala Abu Dhaim, 25, a driver in a Jerusalem transport company who infiltrated the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva. The court accepted the army’s request to seal off the house, in light of the fact that the last three terrorist attacks on the capital were carried out by residents of East Jerusaelm. While Dhaim’s neighbors said he had never been confronted by Israeli security forces, his family was apparently known to have ties to Hamas. The court last September issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the Israel Defense Forces from demolishing the home, as the second floor was rented out to foreigners.

Home closure in East Jerusalem
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh, Palestine News Network 1/19/2009
Jerusalem - In a measured move the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem municipality sent workers on Monday to close the family home of Abu Ala’ Adehim. He was one of two young men involved in an attack on a yeshiva for leaders in the settler movement. Eight Israelis were killed in the West Jerusalem incident of nearly two years ago. Today dozens of Israeli police and soldiers came in with special forces at dawn and began closing all entrances and exits of the house. Two young men were arrested while the home was emptied and surrounded. At 4:00 am Sami and Jamal Aoissat were taken from the two-story apartment building to unknown locations. The house with four 140 square meter apartments is now surrounded by a fence. The Israeli Supreme Court issued a ruling to the Adehim father that the home would be destroyed after the first call for demolition was appealed in August.

The Israeli military kidnaps seven Palestinian civilians from several parts of the West Bank
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/19/2009
Palestinian sources reported that the Israeli Army has kidnapped seven Palestinian civilians during morning and pre dawn invasions, targeting several West Bank cities and towns on Monday. The Israeli Army announced that the kidnappings took place in Ramallah, and the nearby Qalandia refugee camp, as well as Bethlehem, Hebron and nearby villages. The Israeli Army sources added that all those kidnapped where moved to detention camps for interrogations. No reason was given for the abductions. [end]

Israeli forces detain seven from across West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli army arrested seven Palestinians from across the West Bank, who they described as “wanted. ”Those arrested were taken from Ramallah, Qalandia camp north of Jerusalem, and suburbs of Bethlehem. All seven were taken to detention centers for questioning. [end]

Israeli troops seal the house of Abu Daham family in Jerusalem
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/19/2009
Palestinian sources in the city of Jerusalem reported that Israeli troops sealed the house of the Daham family, located in the Jabal al-Mokaber area in the city on Monday morning. The family reported that troops arrived in the early hours of Monday morning, surrounded the house, then forced the family out of their home, along with their belongings. The house where 25 members of the family live is part of a four-floor building with eight flats. The family lives in the top four flats which the Israeli Army sealed today. Their son, Ala, attacked a Jewish settler’s school in Jerusalem last year, attacking the school using a machine gun, and he was killed along with eight others. The family says that the Israeli action is collective punishment since Ala used to live in one room of the house. As soldiers sealed the house, local youth clashed with Israeli troops outside.

PHOTOS - Meet Ni’lin - 'This is normality'
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 1/19/2009
Palestine Monitor’s Photographer spent three weeks in the little town of Ni’lin, South of Ramallah, sadly famous for its fate following the building of the Appartheid Wall. - For 8 months, the residents of Ni’lin have held weekly peaceful popular struggle against the building of a new section of the Wall that will confiscate land to their Palestinian owners, and seal the town in a matrix of concrete walls, sourrounded by Israeli settlements. Villagers have been facing a harsh repression against the weekly peaceful demontrations. There, Israeli violence killed a least 3 teenagers and dozens were injured and imprisoned. "This is normality", "This is daily life" residents of Ni’lin testified. "But only if you live here long enough to become used to it. "- Palestinian residents from the West Bank village of Ni’lin gather to pray before a demonstration against the construction of the Israeli separation barrier.

Egyptians push for resumption of Gaza peace talks
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
Egypt has issued an invitation to Israel and Hamas to resume talks on the framework of the cease-fire initiative put forth by Cairo on Thursday, according to the official Egyptian news agency. The meetings will be held indirectly - as in previous rounds - with officials representing each side meeting with the Egyptian intelligence head Omar Suleiman. The chief of the political-security bureau at the Defense Ministry, Amos Gilad, is most likely to represent Israel in the talks. The Egyptian announcement called on the two sides to work toward entrenching the cease-fire and take steps for the implementation of the Egyptian proposal. The Egyptian proposal comprises three parts and is essentially the same one that was raised during a meeting between the Presidents of Egypt and France in Sharm el-Sheikh on January 6.

Hamas vows to rearm after Gaza war
Roee Nahmias and Reuters, YNetNews 1/19/2009
Spokesman for organization’s armed wing tells press conference only 48 Hamas fighters killed in IDF operation. ’Manufacturing the holy weapons is our mission and we know how to acquire weapons,’ he states - Hamas vowed on Monday to rearm in defiance of any Israeli and international efforts to prevent the Islamist group from replenishing its arsenal of rockets and other weapons after the Gaza war. "Do whatever you want. Manufacturing the holy weapons is our mission and we know how to acquire weapons," Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing, told a news conference. Addressing journalists with his face masked by a checkered Arab scarf, he said that only 48 Hamas fighters were killed in the IDF operation in Gaza. Palestinians report that at least 1,300 people were killed in the Strip in the past three weeks, while Israel claims that at least 500 of them are Hamas members.

Hamas vows to rearm after Gaza war
Reuters, The Independent 1/19/2009
Hamas has vowedto rearm in defiance of any Israeli and international efforts to prevent the Islamist militant group from replenishing its arsenal of rockets and other weapons after the Gaza war. "Do whatever you want. Manufacturing the holy weapons is our mission and we know how to acquire weapons," Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for Hamas’s armed wing, told a news conference. Addressing journalists with his face masked by a checkered Arab scarf, he said "all options would be open" if Israel failed to pull its troops out of the Gaza Strip within a week, a demand raised by Hamas yesterday when it announced a ceasefire after three weeks of fighting. Israel, which has declared its own ceasefire, has threatened to renew military action if Hamas tries to smuggle more weapons into the Gaza Strip. Israel wants Egypt to prevent arms from reaching Palestinian militants through tunnels running under the border with the Gaza Strip.

Haneyya declares victory, calls for war crimes probe
Palestinian Information Center 1/19/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the Palestinian government, on Sunday declared the victory of the Palestinian people over the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, calling for sending an international committee to investigate the war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza. In a televised speech, Haneyya stressed the need for a full and unconditional withdrawal of IOF troops, opening the crossings and lifting the siege. He said that this victory would be a springboard towards the restoration of national unity and the launch of internal dialog in order to reach genuine and comprehensive national reconciliation. The premier noted that his government during the aggression was working diligently to provide aid in spite of the ferocity of the Israeli aggression, announcing that the government would also provide relief and emergency assistance to all affected families and citizens. . .

MP Mansour: Israel destroyed many things in Gaza except the resistance
Palestinian Information Center 1/19/2009
NABLUS, (PIC)-- MP Mona Mansour on Monday stated that Israel failed in its war on the Gaza Strip because it succeeded only in killing civilians, women and children and in destroying many things except the Palestinian resistance. In a press statement, MP Mansour said that the televised scenes of the Israeli holocaust in the Gaza Strip tear both hearts and minds, asserting that this crime would not be the last one in Israel’s history which is full of massacres.  The lawmaker underlined that the massacres in Gaza are clear massages to the Arab and Islamic nation not to remain any more silent and to the advocates of normalization and strategic peace to reconsider their positions. The lawmaker pointed out that she sent letters to Arab, Islamic and European parliaments to explain the size of Gaza tragedy and to remind them of their humanitarian responsibilities towards the Gaza people.

Hamas: We’ll rearm more massively
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 1/19/2009
The IDF aims to withdraw from the Gaza Strip by Barack Obama’s inauguration. A day after Hamas announced its own cease-fire in Gaza, its military arm announced that it would rearm even more massively than before. At a press conference today, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Ubaida said that Hamas would rebuild its missile arsenal in quantities before Operation Cast Lead. "We won’t surrender to the pressure applied on us. Our rocket force was unaffected by the fighting. " Abu Ubaida added, "Do what you will, but the manufacture of holy weapons is our mission, and we know how to obtain arms. Bringing weapons into Gaza isn’t smuggling at all. The natural situation is for weapons to be brought in officially by all Arab and Muslim countries and from other free peoples of the world in order to confront the Israeli occupation.

Shaky truce holds in Gaza Strip
Al Jazeera 1/19/2009
Palestinians have been venturing out to survey the devastation of Israel’s war on Gaza as separate ceasefires called by Israel and the Palestinian fighters appeared to be holding. Israeli troops and tanks were on the move on Monday, heading away from some key points in Gaza towards the border, but it remained unclear whether they would withdraw completely for the Palestinian territory. Al Jazeera’s Barnaby Phillips, reporting from the Israel-Gaza border, said Israeli military sources were saying that it was largely reservists who were leaving Gaza. "Regular troops, by and large, are holding their positions and will remain alert, they will remain poised, to deal with any violation, as Israel sees it, of the Israeli ceasefire," he said.

VIDEO - Israelis withdraw from Gaza as Hamas remains defiant
The Guardian 1/19/2009
Israel’s troops take up positions on Israeli side of border with Gaza as tentative truce holds [end]

Haniyeh: We have achieved victory
Khaled Abu Toameh And Staff, Jerusalem Post 1/18/2009
In a speech broadcast on Hamas television on Sunday night, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said the Palestinians had achieved a historical and strategic victory over Israel, and claimed that Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip had failed. The Hamas leader repeated the terror organization’s demand for a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Strip, and for the opening of the border crossings. Haniyeh promised that Hamas would give aid to Palestinian families whose relatives were killed or injured during the war, and said Israeli leaders should be tried for war crimes. He went on to say Hamas’s decision to declare a truce on Sunday was "wise and responsible. " Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Hamas leader in Syria Khaled Mashaal and congratulated him on the "great victory" the Palestinians had achieved over the IDF, the Iranian IRNA news agency reported on Monday morning.

Palestinian resistance factions declare ceasefire
Palestinian Information Center 1/18/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian resistance factions declared on Sunday a one week ceasefire in the Gaza Strip at the end of which the Israeli occupation forces should leave the Strip and open crossings to allow entry of humanitarian, relief assistance and all needs of the people. The factions in a statement expressed readiness to respond to any effort especially those of Egypt, Turkey, Syria and Qatar to reach an agreement that would lead to lifting the siege on Gaza once and for all and opening all crossings including that of Rafah. Meanwhile, the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad Movement, said in a statement on Sunday that it lost 34 of its cadres in the three weeks of bloody IOF attacks against the Strip. The armed wing added that Jihad fighters killed 18 IOF soldiers and wounded 56 others while 16 settlers were also injured after its elements fired 235 homemade missiles. . .

Japan welcomes Hamas ceasefire announcement
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The government of Japan applauded a declaration of ceasefire by Hamas and other Palestinian militants following Israel’s declaration on Sunday, according to a statement. Japan considers that “this is a necessary step for preventing further civilian casualties,” the east-Asian nation’s Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority told Ma’an. Japan also expressed its “condolences to the bereaved families, as well as its deepest sympathy for the people who have been injured in a series of events in and around the Gaza Strip. ”It also “urges both sides to exercise their utmost self-restraint in order to keep this ceasefire, and strongly hopes that a permanent ceasefire will be achieved as soon as possible. ”Japan welcomed Arab countries’ participation in ending the conflict, chiefly “Egypt’s mediation efforts,” it said.

Reservist arrested for refusing to take part in Gaza op
Maya Lecker, YNetNews 1/20/2009
Engineering Corps lieutenant arrested for going AWAL, says Israel failed to explore all other possibilities before resorting to violence. ’Bombing Gaza won’t bring security to Israel’s southern region,’ says another refusenik - An IDF officer was arrested on Monday for refusing to take part in Operation Cast Lead. Noam Livneh, a lieutenant in an Engineering Corps’ reserves unit, told Ynet prior to his arrest that he had also refused to serve in the West Bank city of Nablus some eight years ago for "ethical reasons". "I received an emergency draft order two weeks ago, and when I reported for duty I told the company commander that I refuse (to serve in Gaza) for ethical reasons," Livneh recounted. "I left at the end of the day and told my commanders to call if they needed me. Later I received a phone call saying I have been declared AWOL. I told them I was standing behind my statement. "

A ’Police State’ Celebrates
Nora Barrows-Friedman, Inter Press Service 1/20/2009
JERUSALEM, Jan 19(IPS) - The Israeli government is stepping up efforts to suppress dissent and crush resistance in the streets. Police have been videotaping the demonstrations and subsequently arresting protesters in large numbers. According to Israeli police reports, at least 763 Israeli citizens, the majority of them Palestinian and 244 under 18 years old, have been arrested, imprisoned or detained for participating in such demonstrations. Most have been held and then released, but at least 30 of those arrested over the past three weeks are still being held in prison. Ameer Makhoul, director of Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations in Haifa, tells IPS that these demonstrations "are part of the uprising here inside the Green Line, to share responsibility and to share the challenge with the people in the Gaza strip. "

Graffiti at Tel Aviv University: Barak a murderer
Yaheli Moran Zelikovich, YNetNews 1/19/2009
TAU slated to host defense minister as part of Student Union activities. Political activists made particularly unfriendly reception for Barak - An uninviting reception was scrawled on the walls of Tel Aviv University’s Law Department for Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who was scheduled to meet with students as part of the Student Union’s "Political Week" activities. Graffiti sprayed on the walls of the building called Barak a murderer ahead of the minister’s scheduled arrival time. The graffiti was discovered Monday afternoon at the entryway to the Law Department. Many students complained to university faculty and the Student Union demanding that the graffiti be removed immediately. Barak cancelled his visit to the university for security reasons. Student Union Chairman Gil Goldenberg said in response, "There is no place for such statements of hate and enmity – not at the university and not anywhere else.

Arab summit debates Gaza response
Al Jazeera 1/20/2009
The crisis in Gaza is topping the agenda of Arab leaders who have gathered in Kuwait for a summit aimed at boosting regional economic growth. King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia pledged on Monday to donate one billion dollars towards the reconstruction of the Palestinian coastal territory, which has faced deadly attacks by Israeli forces since December 27. "On behalf of the Saudi people, I declare the donation of one billion dollars for programmes to rebuild Gaza," he said at the opening session of the summit on Monday. "We have to overcome Arab political differences that led to a division in the Arab ranks which can be exploited by those who want to achieve their regional ambitions," he said. The meeting in Kuwait City came a day after Hamas, which has de facto control of Gaza, announced a week-long ceasefire.

Gaza war divides Arab governments from people
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Electronic Intifada 1/19/2009
CAIRO (IPS) - Street protests against Israel’s assault on Gaza continue to be held almost daily. The anger has not ended with the ceasefire called. In Cairo, and in many Arab capitals, much of the anger is directed at the Egyptian regime, seen by critics as complicit in the Israeli campaign. "The escalation of popular protests across the country indicates unprecedented levels of popular outrage over both Israel’s aggression and Egypt’s official position," Ibrahim Mansour, political analyst and managing editor-in-chief of independent daily Al-Dustour told IPS. On Saturday night, 17 January, Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire. Israeli troops and armor, however, remain deep inside the Gaza Strip, and it remains unclear whether the move represents a definitive cessation of Israeli military operations inside the territory.

Break through in Arab relations at controversial summit in Kuwait
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/19/2009
Kuwait -- A billion dollars for Gaza are expected to come out of the meeting taking place in Kuwait today amid controversy and a growing Arab divide exacerbated by the Israeli attacks on the Strip. However late this afternoon news of a breakthrough came in in relations between Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait who met on the sidelines. Earlier today during his opening Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed stressed the importance of the Arab peace initiative which the Israeli administration has denounced, while others, such as Egypt, said it needed to be put away. The Kuwaiti Information Minister said that on table are both the ceasefire and a rapprochement between Fateh and Hamas, however this is the Arab Economic Summit planned for for the past year. Twenty-two Arab countries are participating in what is a clearly contentious summit with players such as Egypt denouncing any discussions other than economic as planned.

Gaza crisis overshadows regional Arab summit
Omar Hasan - KUWAIT CITY, Middle East Online 1/19/2009
Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah opened a regional summit with a demand for collective Arab measures setting out "practical steps to stabilise the ceasefire" in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli offensive on Gaza is a "war crime and a crime against humanity", he said, calling for "those responsible to be held accountable. In the wake of sharp disagreements which hampered the Arab response to Israel’s 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip, Sheikh Sabah urged Arab unity, insisting that "we have no option but to be united. " Seventeen Arab heads of state are attending the two-day summit while another five countries are represented at senior official level. Sheikh Sabah said the "Arab peace initiative still forms the clear foundation for the Arab position," for a durable settlement to the Palestinian cause.

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world protest Israeli attacks
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/19/2009
Bethlehem -- Worldwide demonstrations continue in support of the Gaza Strip with 200,000 taking to the streets in Rome. In East Jerusalem this evening hundreds of people are holding a candle light vigil. The West Bank’s Beit Sahour launched an international campaign to end the Israeli occupation. In the US city of San Francisco 10,000 people spoke out while in the UK’s London protests are ongoing. Polly Basak reports for PNN from London: At least 20,000 people stood in Trafalgar Square this weekend as part of a nation-wide day of protests in the UK against the atrocities caused by the Israeli military in Gaza. A number of prominent speakers, including former British Cabinet minister Tony Benn, condemned the governments of Britain and the USA for their support of the Israeli administration. The BBC news channel was also strongly criticized, amidst agreeing boos from. . .

Israel-Turkey diplomatic spat worsens, despite end of Gaza fighting
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
The crisis in relations between Israel and Turkey, which began when the Gaza operation began three weeks ago, is getting worse. A political source in Jerusalem said that the head of the political-security bureau at the Defense Ministry, Amos Gilad, refused to meet with Ahmet Davutoglu, the senior foreign policy adviser to Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while the two were in Cairo last week. Last Thursday, Amos Gilad visited Cairo for talks with Egypt’s Omar Suleiman on a cease-fire agreement. At the time, Davutoglu, who had served as a mediator in Israel’s talks with Syria in Istanbul, was in touch with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal, who is based on Damascus. At the start of the Gaza operation, Erdogan instructed Davutoglu to serve as a conduit between Hamas and the West and also try to involve Turkey in the cease-fire negotiations.

Turkey’s decisive role
Simon Tisdall, The Guardian 1/19/2009
Turkey’s value to Europe and the US as a close partner helping manage regional problems has been re-emphasised by the Gaza crisis. As the fighting threatened to spin out of control, Turkish diplomats showed they could reach parts other diplomats cannot by talking directly to the senior Hamas leader, Khaled Meshal, in Damascus. Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, personally consulted Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Syria as part of a wider mediation effort. And it was Erdogan, a careful cultivator of relations with Tehran, who kept open lines of communication to Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an ardent Hamas supporter. The successful expansion of Turkish influence in the Middle East and beyond under Erdogan’s moderate Islamist government has been dubbed "neo-Ottomanism", suggesting a revival by other means of Turkey’s once extensive but now defunct empire.

Turkish PM: we call for democracy but do not respect choice
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/19/2009
Brussels - As international and regional meetings are underway focusing on the situation in the Gaza Strip, a number of which do not include Hamas, the Turkish Prime Minister warned against marginalizing the party. Recep Tayyip Erdogan called today on the international community to respect Hamas’s position and the election results. "We must refrain from marginalizing the party after the ceasefire was declared by both Israeli forces and Hamas in Gaza. " Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan told a conference in Brussels organized by the European think-tank Policy Center, "We should not push them into a corner because this will only strengthen extremism. "Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections held in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2006. The Turkish Prime Minister said, "If we want to advance democracy in this region, we must respect the decision of the people who went to the polls.

Barak says deterrence enabled calm
Hanan Greeberg, YNetNews 1/19/2009
After President Shimon Peres’ visit to wounded troops in Rabin Medical Center, defense minister stops by to thank soldiers. Says, ’It’s heart warming and inspiring to see our injured who dealt Hamas a blow it’s never known before’ - Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva on Monday and met with IDF troops injured in Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. During his visit, the defense minister said Hamas was dealt a blow that created "the deterrence that is now enabling this calm". Thanking the soldiers, Barak said, "It’s heartwarming and inspiring to see our injured, the smiles and the strength. "These boys and their comrades are the ones that dealt Hamas a blow it has never known before, the deterrence that is now enabling this calm, on the one hand, and the preparedness for every possible development and every scenario. "

Peres to wounded: Victory is all ours
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 1/19/2009
Israeli president visits soldiers wounded in Operation Cast Lead who are hospitalized in Petah Tikva hospital, speaks of criticism being leveled at Israel. ’Going into residential area is like going into hell, but achievement was wonderful,’ he says of Gaza operation - Israeli President Shimon Peres [recipient of Nobel Peace prize] on Monday morning visited the wounded soldiers hospitalized in Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva. During his visit, Peres spoke of the difficult images being broadcast from the shelled-out Gaza, saying, "When people ask me about it, I answer that for our image to be good, we have to stay alive. "Peres, an Israeli politician who commands great respect throughout the world, was asked about the criticism being leveled at Israel for its Gaza offensive, Operation Cast Lead, especially in regards to criticism of it being a disproportionate use of force.

Arab leaders urge Fatah, Hamas to reconcile
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
The leaders of the Arab world called on the rival Palestinian factions yesterday to reconcile and achieve national unity. Speaking at an Arab summit in Kuwait on restoration efforts in Gaza, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said representatives of the factions should meet in Cairo "under the wings of the Egyptian people and its president, Hosni Mubarak, and work out an agreement - even if it takes thousands of hours. " He said the Palestinians needed a national consensus to cope with the "human disaster" in Gaza. This would help open the crossings, lift the blockade, restore infrastructure and pave the way for presidential and parliamentary elections. Hamas’ position on holding reconciliation talks with Fatah, which it ousted from power in Gaza in a bloody coup in 2007, remains unclear. Forming a national-unity government with Fatah means Hamas would have to be a partner to. . .

Report: EU to lift sanctions on Hamas if Palestinian unity gov’t formed
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
If a Palestinian unity government is established, Europe would be willing to recognize the Palestinian leadership, and would consequently lift the sanctions it imposed on Hamas, sources in the entourage of French President Nicolas Sarkozy told France 2 television on Monday. The European Union has classified Hamas as a terror organization, and has refused to negotiate with the group since it was elected to lead the Palestinian Authority in 2006. On Sunday, the leaders of six key European Union states voiced their commitment to helping prevent Hamas from replenishing its weapons stocks. The leaders of France, Germany, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom and the Czech Republic, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, visited Jerusalem and dined with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Sunday, expressing their support for Israel following. . .

Ban urges Arabs to back Abbas in Gaza crisis
Roee Nahmias, Reuters, YNetNews 1/19/2009
Arab League leaders meeting at Kuwait economic summit voice opinions on recent Israel-Hamas conflict. UN chief says Arab unity is crucial, Egypt’s Mubarak questions efficiency of violent struggle against Israel, while Syrian president proposes renaming Jewish state ’the terrorist entity’ - The situation in Gaza was the main topic discussed at the Arab economic summit held in Kuwait on Monday. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Arab leaders to join together in backing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his efforts to reunite the war-ravaged Gaza Strip with the West Bank. Speaking a day after Israel and Hamas announced separate ceasefires, Ban also said that Arab unity was crucial if the three-week Gaza conflict was not to be repeated in the future. "The Palestinians themselves must face the challenge of reconciliation, and work to achieve a unified government under the leadership

Fatah: Hamas members killed 16 affiliates during Gaza war; asks for peace and understanding
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Fatah announced that it had proof Hamas members attacked its affiliates during the fighting in Gaza, killing 16 and injuring 80. Fatah sent a call to “Hamas and its members” asking that they cease attacks on Fatah affiliates following the end of hostilities in the Gaza Strip. Throughout the war unconfirmed reports of harassment and executions of Fatah party members, suspected collaborators and “petty criminals” were released via several media sources. It is still unclear to what extent inter-party rivalry is persisting in Gaza, since both Fatah and Hamas aligned Brigades participated in Gaza clashes with Israeli troops. A Monday statement from Fatah spokesperson Fahmy Az-Za’reer, however, indicated that Fatah has evidence that Hamas forces placed hundreds under house arrest, and incapacitated more than 80 Fatah men by shooting them in the leg.

Palestinian communities in Europe slam Maleki for criticizing the resistance
Palestinian Information Center 1/19/2009
EUROPE, (PIC)-- The association of Palestinian communities and institutions in Europe strongly denounced foreign minister in Ramallah government Riyadh Al-Maleki’s statements in which he held the Palestinian resistance responsible for the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip during an interview with an Israeli journalist. In a statement received by the PIC, Radi Al-Shuaibi, the secretary-general of the association, said that such statements justify and give a cover for Israel’s brutal and barbaric aggression on Gaza, noting that the Israeli aggression received international condemnation. In another context, a large number of Yemeni school students and participants who attended a ceremony in support of Gaza organized by the Kanaan society (headed by a nephew of the Yemeni president) chanted slogans against ex-PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and some of his security officials.

Abbas in Kuwait: Need new temporary government leading to simultaneous presidential and legislative elections
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Speaking to the assembled nations at the Arab League summit in Kuwait, acting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed his hopes for elections in Palestine. He explained that a new interim government made of agreed upon figures from all parties must be constructed. This government will lead the country as it prepares to hold simultaneous presidential and legislative elections. This is the only way, he explained, to ensure unity and governmental legitimacy. Abbas, who took office four years ago on 9 January 2005, has remained in the office of President after his four-year term expired. [end]

It’s back to school today in the south
Or Kashti, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
The educational system in most of the south will return to a normal schedule today. About 320,000 children from kindergarten through high school will be back in school after almost a month away from the classroom, following a decision by the Education Ministry. The school day will open with a discussion about the recent hostilities in the south. In Ashkelon, only students from 10th to 12th grade will be back in school today, with a decision to follow later on a date for a full return to a normal schedule. The regular school staff in the south will be supplemented by additional psychology service personnel. All of the students from grades 1 through 12 will be provided with special programming designed to help them deal with traumas of the recent weeks, and to prepare them to return to their school routine.

Palestinians mourn Gaza dead, gape at destruction
Reuters, YNetNews 1/19/2009
’May God make the Islamic resistance stronger,’ says father of Hamas gunman killed by IDF, ’I have 10 more sons and I hope all of them die as martyrs’. Islamist group says $200 million needed for ’urgent financial aid’ -Mourning tents dotted the Gaza Strip on Monday as Palestinians gathered to remember loved ones among the 1,300 people killed by Israeli forces. Saber Jnaid said his son, a Hamas fighter, had been killed 12 days ago during Israel’s 22-day onslaught on the Islamist militant group. He could not formally receive condolences until fighting stopped on Sunday and Israeli forces pulled back. "May God make the Islamic resistance stronger," the grey-bearded father told Reuters as he sat with relatives. "I have 10 more sons and I hope all of them die as martyrs. "Hours after Israel declared its attack over, Hamas announced a ceasefire, saying it would observe it provided the Israeli army left Gaza within a week.

Givati commander defends Gaza actions
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
The Israel Defense Forces did not use excessive force in the fighting in Gaza, the commander of the Givati infantry brigade, whose soldiers fought there over the past two weeks, said. "I will not send 10 soldiers into a house suspected of being booby-trapped in order for them to blow up, before I have created the conditions that will guarantee their safety," Colonel Ilan Malka said. "In the Warm Winter operation in March 2008 in Jabalya, I lost two soldiers who were shot by armed men who came out of one of the houses. This time we understood that in the face of the enemy’s preparations we needed to create proper conditions for bringing in the forces, and that is what we did. "Malka, speaking at a press conference at an IDF base in the Negev after his soldiers pulled out of the Gaza Strip, described the brigade’s attack in the Tel el-Hawa neighborhood in the southern section of the city of Gaza last Thursday.

UN secretary-general to visit Gaza on Tuesday
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The United Nations secretary-general is expected to visit the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, according to Israeli sources. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is touring the Middle East and will soon visit southern Israel, either shortly before or after visiting the Gaza Strip. He will be the first international figure to visit Gaza since the Israeli military launched a three-week assault on the besieged coastal strip. Ki-Moon said late last week that he is interested in visiting before returning to New York if the security situation has improved. [end]

PMO acted alone in barring foreign reporters from Gaza
Amos Harel and Gili Izikovich, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
The prohibition on the entry of foreign journalists into the Gaza Strip, which ended on Sunday, came from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office, according to official documents obtained by Haaretz. According to the document, the Defense Ministry and the IDF had removed their objections to the entry of foreign journalists into Gaza more than a week ago, meaning the Prime Minister’s Office had been the sole entity barring them from the Strip. The document, based on a memo written by Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s military secretary, Brigadier-General Eitan Dangot, was sent from the ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office. In the correspondence, Attorney Eran Yosef, director of the legal department within the defense establishment’s legal advisor’s office, wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office that, "The Defense Minister’s military secretary told us that the prime minister has ordered that foreign journalists be prevented from entering the Strip.

International journalists to arrive in Gaza Tuesday for fact-finding mission; will share findings with UN
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Ramallah – Ma’an – Eight international journalists will arrive in Gaza Tuesday, traveling via Egypt, with the mission to fact-find and record first-hand Israeli violations against the people of the Gaza Strip. Secretary General of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate Na’eem At-Tubasi confirmed Sunday that delegation, including Arab, French, Norwegian and Italian reporters, is en route to Gaza. The delegation will be followed by an investigating committee from the International Journalist Federation, which will arrive next week. The outcomes of both investigations will presented to the UN and Human Rights Committee, said At-Tubasi. He indicated that the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate will work to assist the reporters, including providing them with flack-jackets. At-Tubasi condemned the Israeli attacks on journalists that occurred during the onslaught, which killed. . .

CPJ urges lifting of Gaza reporting ban
Roy Greenslade, The Guardian 1/19/2009
The New York-based press freedom watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists has written to Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert urging him to lift the ban on journalists entering Gaza and to conduct an investigation into the targeting of Gaza’s media facilities. (Via CPJ) [end]

Palestine Today 011909
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 1/19/2009
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 4 m 00s || 3. 66 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org, for Monday, January 19th 2009. As more Palestinians die due to the latest Israeli offensive on Gaza, Israeli troops continue to attack West Bank areas, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned. The News Cast Palestinian medical sources announced that three Palestinian civilians have died on Monday due to the wounds they sustained during the military offensive targeting the Gaza Strip. Doctors in Gaza City Al Shifa hospital reported that in addition to the three killed today; ambulance crews also recovered 12 bodies from the rubble in Gaza City. With those killed today and newly recovered bodies, the death toll of the Israeli military operation in Gaza has reached 1,318.

Statistics: Gaza economic losses estimated at 1.9 billion dollars
Palestinian Information Center 1/19/2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Dr. Loai Shabana, the head of the Palestinian central bureau of statistics, said Monday that the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip caused an economic damage estimated at more than one billion and nine hundred million dollars. In a report, Dr. Shabana underlined that the number of buildings and facilities according to the census conducted by the bureau in 2007 were 147,437 and the preliminary estimates indicated that the three-week Israeli aggression led to the complete and partial destruction of 14% of this infrastructure. The Palestinian official affirmed that Gaza has become a disaster area as a result of the Israeli aggression which devastated all walks of life there and resulted in the death of more than 1,305 Palestinians and the injury of 5,400 others. The official noted that there are about 5,400 Palestinian injuries in need of rehabilitation. . .

Israel destroys, Saudi rebuilds
Middle East Online 1/19/2009
KUWAIT CITY - Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on Monday announced the donation of one billion dollars for the reconstruction of Gaza and called for putting an end to Arab differences. "On behalf of the Saudi people, I declare the donation of one billion dollars for programmes to rebuild Gaza," the Saudi monarch said at the opening session of an Arab summit in Kuwait. "We have to overcome Arab political differences that led to a division in the Arab ranks which can be exploited by those who want to achieve their regional ambitions" King Abdullah said. He also warned that the Arab peace initiative "will not remain on the table forever. " Arab leaders are tipped to approve the setting up of a two-billion dollar fund for the reconstruction of Gaza. Kuwait’s ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah announced at the summit’s opening his country will donate all 34 million dollars. . .

IDF gears for possible ceasefire violations
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/20/2009
Military said to be devising several response scenarios meant to meet any breach of fragile truce. Price tag for any attack will increase exponentially, says IDF source -The IDF has began formulating response scenarios to any ceasefire violations on Hamas’ part, a senior security source told Ynet Monday night. The military has also begun looking into several of the operational errors and friendly fire incidents which took place during Operation Cast Lead, as well as its heroic tales. "We will see quite a few commendations," said the source. The defense establishment believes that Hamas will concentrate its resources on rebuilding its infrastructure, as well as in avenues pertaining to the Palestinian population. The organization is also expected to halt its terror attacks against

Al-Qassam Brigades announce 48 fighters dead; continue projectile manufacturing
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades continue to develop projectile capacity and insist they have not been weakened by the three-week Israeli onslaught. Speaking at a press conference about the state of the Brigades, Al-Qassam spokesman Abu Ubayda announced the last three weeks in Gaza as a victory for the resistance. “Israel’s goals, like the fall of Hamas and the halt of projectile fire, were not achieved,” Abu Ubayda said. He called on Israelis who applauded the war to question their leaders and ask if their unrealized goals were worth the death of hundreds of women and children and the destruction of homes, schools and mosques. Also among the dead, he confirmed, were 48 Al-Qassam fighters, and 49 Israeli soldiers. Most of the fighters were killed during two capturing operations, one on the third day of the ground invasion Mahmoud Ar-Rify was killed as fighters attempted to capture Israeli soldiers.

Al-Qassam: We carried out dozens of painful strikes against the IOF troops
Palestinian Information Center 1/19/2009
GAZA, (PIC)-- Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, stated during a press conference on Monday that it managed to carry out dozens of painful strikes against the IOF troops during 22 days of the Israeli aggression on Gaza, asserting that its fighters were able to kill 49 Israeli soldiers. Abu Obeida, the spokesman for Al-Qassam Brigades, told the press conference which was held in Gaza city that the Brigades accurately monitored the operations of killing 49 Israeli soldiers in a direct way, not to mention dozens of Israeli casualties whose death was not eyewitnessed by Al-Qassam fighters during many resistance attacks such as the soldiers killed during the operations of detonating tanks and armored troop carriers. Accordingly, Al-Qassam Brigades conservatively estimated the death toll in the ranks of IOF troops as up to 80 soldiers, Abu Obeida added.

Al-Aqsa Brigades: One Israeli soldier dead, dozens injured by fighters in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Gaza- Ma’an – During the 23 day onslaught in Gaza, Fatah’s armed wing the Al-Aqsa Brigades announced that it fired dozens of projectiles onIsraeli targets and engaged in clashes with Israeli troops in Gaza. According to the Brigades, three fighters were killed and sixteen others injured in airstrikes and clashes. Of those injured three are said to be in critical condition. According to the Brigades, projectiles were launched as follows: Ashkelon, 16 (+1 Grad) / Sderot, 22 / Western Negev 19 / Kissufim, 15 mortars / Al-Bureij military post 13 mortars / The Brigades statement said fighters “escaped death” after being attacked by an Israeli missile during a military operation. They claimed to have been heavily involved with the Tel Al-Hawa battles, where one Al-Aqsa fighter was killed and several others injured.

IDF to conclude withdrawal today
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
Israel Defense Forces officers supervising the pullout of troops from Gaza yesterday were working to have the last Israeli soldier leave Gaza today before the Washington, D. C. , inauguration of United States President Barack Obama. The IDF is expected today to begin discharging many of the reservists drafted two weeks ago under emergency orders. Troops began significantly reducing their presence in the Gaza Strip as early as Saturday night, immediately after Israel declared a unilateral cease-fire which put and end to Operation Cast Lead. The troops took key positions around the Strip, poised to reenter when ordered. Hamas militants took steps to avoid violating the cease-fire yesterday, not firing any rockets into Israel and not attacking the IDF troops still stationed in the Strip. IDF sources said that the peace was maintained despite alleged orders by Hamas leadership. . .

Resistance rejects international Gaza force
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Electronic Intifada 1/19/2009
CAIRO (IPS) - Since the outset of Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip, calls have been renewed for an "international force" to protect the civilian population. But Palestinian resistance factions, chief among them Hamas, reject the idea outright. "The resistance will not accept international forces [in the Gaza Strip]," Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas’s Damascus-based political bureau said recently on Syrian state television. "We know that such forces would only serve Israel and its occupation. " On Saturday, 10 January, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas called for an "international presence" to "protect Palestinian civilians" in the Gaza Strip, which has been governed by Hamas since the summer of 2007. "We want the international force to be deployed in Gaza, not on the Egyptian border," he told reporters in Cairo.

Israel rushes to withdraw troops as Gaza reconstruction talks begin
Rory McCarthy in Zeitoun, Peter Walker and agencies, The Guardian 1/19/2009
Olmert aims to have forces out before Obama inauguration • Hamas says it intends to rearm as soon as possible - Israel today pulled the bulk of its forces in Gaza back towards its own border at the start of what it said would be a swift withdrawal, as the true scale of the destruction inside the coastal territory became clear. After Hamas followed Israel in agreeing a ceasefire yesterday, ending three weeks of heavy fighting that left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead and much of Gaza in ruins, Arab nations met to begin planning the reconstruction of its devastated infrastructure and economy. The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said his government wanted to get forces out of Gaza "at the greatest possible speed". Israeli officials told the Associated Press the plan was to leave before Barack Obama’s inauguration as US president tomorrow. -- See also: AUDIO - Rory McCarthy reports on the destruction within Gaza

Egypt invites Israel, Palestinians for separate talks on Gaza truce
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 1/19/2009
Egypt has invited representatives of Israel and the Palestinian factions to Cairo for separate talks on a long-term truce initiative in the Gaza truce. An official at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry told the MENA news agency that the meetings were scheduled to take place on Thursday, and were geared toward reaching a solution for a truce and for lifting the economic blockade off the Gaza Strip. The report did not detail whether either Israel or the Palestinians have accepted the invitation. Egypt has invited representatives of Israel and the Palestinian factions to Cairo for separate talks on a long-term truce initiative in the Gaza truce. An official at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry told the MENA news agency that the meetings were scheduled to take place on Thursday, and were geared toward reaching a solution for a truce and for lifting the economic blockade off the Gaza Strip.

Israel forces start Gaza withdrawal
Mai Yaghi - GAZA CITY, Middle East Online 1/19/2009
Israel began pulling troops out of the Gaza Strip on Sunday as a fragile unilateral ceasefire came into effect after its deadliest offensive ever on the battered Palestinian territory. As medics scrambled to pull dozens of bodies from the mountains of rubble left by Israel’s three-week offensive, Palestinian militants claimed victory and said they would hold their fire for one week to allow Israeli troops to withdraw. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel intended to withdraw troops "as quickly as possible" and had no intention of reoccupying a territory from which it withdrew settlers and the army in 2005. "We are not interested in staying in the Gaza Strip, we want to leave as quickly as possible," Olmert said at a press conference with European leaders. French President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed Israel’s ceasefire but said: "This is only a first step, it must go further".

Europe on Sharm talks with Egypt, Abbas on Gaza ceasefire, peace and reconstruction
Ma’an News Agency 1/19/2009
Jerusalem - Ma’an - The two unilateral ceasefires that established calm in Gaza were a first and “absolutely indispensable step,” in creating a sustainable ceasefire, reconstructing Gaza and even moving towards rapid peace talks in the future, said European Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. Speaking at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Ferrero-Waldner summarized the events of the Sharm Ash-Sheikh meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, King Abdullah of Jordan, French president Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Spanish PM José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, German leader Angela Merkel and Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, along with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. According to the Commissioner leaders at the meeting talked about the “big picture” and what Europe could to do encourage an extended ceasefire leading to new peace talks.

Ahmadinejad congratulates Mashaal on ’victory’
AFP and Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 1/19/2009
Iranian president telephones Hamas politburo chief, stresses Palestinian organization must exert pressure for full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, prosecution of ’Zionist criminals’ - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has telephoned Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal and congratulated him on his "victory" in the battles against Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip, the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported Monday. Hamas has set a one-week ultimatum to the Israel Defense Forces to pull out from Gaza. According to the report, Ahmadinejad telephoned Mashaal and told him, "This is only the beginning of victory. "He added that "pressure must be exerted for a complete withdrawal" of the IDF soldiers from the Strip and for the opening of the Gaza crossings. The Iranian president went on to say that "the Zionist criminals must be prosecuted".

Israeli Media: Israeli troops to leave the Gaza Strip by Tuesday
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 1/19/2009
An Israeli army official told Israeli media on Monday that Israeli troops will leave Gaza by Tuesday. They had previously stated that they hoped to have the operation ’wrapped up’ by the day of the Inauguration of Barack Obama as US President. The Inauguration is on Tuesday. The Israeli official that spoke to the online daily Haaretz under conditions of anonymity said that Israeli tanks and troops started the withdrawal on Sunday night, adding that they are expected to finish by Tuesday, before the new US President, Barak Obama , is sworn in. The Israeli government did not confirm the report, adding that if conditions in Gaza remain quiet the Israeli troops will leave. The Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip began on Saturday December 27th, 2008, withaerial and sea bombardment. One week later Israel pushed tanks and troops into the coastal region.

Another War Gone Badly
Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, Middle East Online 1/19/2009
Israel can now add to its supply of ghosts of previous war, above all the 34 day Lebanon war, with a new one -- from Gaza. The 22 day war on Gaza, codenamed Operation Cast Lead, was to extricate Israel from the national shame and humiliation of the previous war with Lebanon’s Hizbollah by delivering a crushing blow to Hamas and, yet, despite all the massive tonnage of bombs dropped on the narrow strip and an all-out ground offensive by some 20000 ground troops, Hamas is still standing and still firing its rockets into Israel. Instead of being crushed, bruised and all, Hamas has now emerged with a new level of international legitimacy and prestige, particularly in the Muslim and Arab world where it counts most. The Israeli leaders can boast all they want about "mission accomplished" but even their own press is not buying it.

Thousands attend Anti-Israel march to protest against Israeli invasion of Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 1/19/2009
KARACHI,  (PIC)-- Hundreds of thousands of people marched on the city roads in Karachi on Sunday to protest against Israeli invasion of Gaza, and killing of innocent Palestinians, especially women and children. The march, organized by Jamaat-e-Islami, was the biggest anti-Israel event held so far in Pakistan, as waving flags could be seen from Tibet Center to Mazar-e-Quaid. The march was also attended by the leaders and activists of PML(N), Tehrik-e-Insaf, Jamiat Ulema Pakistan, Jamiat Ulema Islam, Jeay Sindh Tehrik, Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadit and Islami Tehrik. Chanting anti-Israel and pro-Hamas slogans, angry youths burnt effigies of Israeli Prime Minister, Edhu Olmert, and US President Bush. They threw shoes on the portraits of the two leaders at various spots during the march. The participants were carrying different placards, and banners inscribed with slogans such as "Down with. . .

Direct action in Brighton
PNN, Palestine News Network 1/18/2009
UK - "Last night I went to a meeting where there was a live link-up with someone from Gaza. Many people were crying after hearing about what is happening there," says Kim Davis, a resident of the United Kingdom. Several people in the Sussex town of Brighton took direct action yesterday to do more than issue a condemnation. They were arrested staging a "citizens’ decommissioning," as the activists described it, of the EDO-MBM/IT arms factory that supplies weapons to the Israeli military. The group barricaded themselves inside an affiliated office and caused as much damage as they could. The direct action was a response, organizers said on Friday, to the major Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip that have killed 1,300 Palestinians in three weeks. Before late Friday -- early Saturday action, activist Elijah Smith said, "I’m looking at the world scene and I’m getting more and more horrified.

Anti-Israel hackers attack Web site of Israeli radio station
Barr Hayoun, Ha’aretz 1/19/2009
Anti-Israeli hackers managed to take over the Web site of Radio 102 FM on Sunday. Clicking on one of the Website’s tabs brings up a message condemning the war in the Gaza Strip and calling for Israel’s destruction. The message is decorated by the image of a burning combined Israeli and U. S. flag, and pictures of Palestinian children injured during the war. Even if Israel stops the war, the message continues, hackers will never cease their attacks on Israeli servers and sites. The radio station, which was also successfully attacked last week, said its computer team is working on the problem. [end]

Abu Zuhri visits wounded Palestinians treated in Turkey
Palestinian Information Center 1/19/2009
ANKARA, (PIC)-- Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, the Hamas spokesman, on Sunday underlined that the wounded Palestinians receiving treatment in Turkey were in good condition, improving and enjoying high morale. Abu Zuhri told the PIC after visiting the wounded in Turkish hospitals that the wounded were accorded notable concern and were improving. The spokesman, who started a visit to Turkey last Thursday, said that the wounded with their high morale were giving a good image of the people of Gaza who stick to their rights and sacrifice for their sake. Abu Zuhri said that during his visit to Turkey he also participated in a number of rallies and popular activities in addition to press interviews to brief the Turkish public opinion on the Zionist crimes and to urge the Turkish people to display more solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Social networking Web site links Israeli, Gaza journalists during wartime
Gili Izikovich, Ha’aretz 1/19/2009
The Gaza Strip may have been closed to coverage by Israeli and foreign media representatives but the connections between them and their colleagues in the Gaza Strip have not been severed. In recent weeks, the social networking site Frames of Reality - whose members are mainly photographers from both sides - turned into a central and important means of communication. With the use of the site, the photographers have been exchanging pictures that they shot over the past three weeks, each photographer in his or her close surroundings, and discussing professional matters against the background of the military campaign. Frames of Reality was established by the Peres Center for Peace and "Edut Mekomit" ("Local testimony") - the annual photojournalism exhibition of the Israeli media - some eight months ago.

Mazuz: No grounds to bar Arab parties from Knesset race
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 1/19/2009
AG says Central Elections Committee’s decision to disqualify Arab parties from bidding in nearing general elections based on flimsy evidence. Court to rule on appeal by Thursday -Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said Monday that he sees no grounds to prevent the Arab parties Balad and United Arab List-Ta’al from participating in the general elections. The Central Elections Committee disqualified both parties from bidding in the nearing elections last week, stating that since they do not recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland and advocate an armed conflict against it, they are ineligible to take part in the Knesset race. Mazuz’s brief, filed with the High Court of Justice in response to the parties’ appeal of the decision, noted that that the decision to disqualify the Arab parties was based on "flimsy evidence. "

Lieberman to Haaretz: Hamas missiles will reach Tel Aviv within a year
Ari Shavit, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
While the war in Gaza was still raging, it was already clear to Avigdor Lieberman that it was going to turn out well. He didn’t like the slow pace, the caution or the ambiguous objectives. But it was the evening that Ehud Olmert was hosting six European heads of state in his residence that really made Lieberman lose it. The more ceremonies there are, the worse our situation is, he said, adding that the only political result of Operation Cast Lead was a ceremony. But the Israel Defense Forces operation had at least one other political result: It did a lot to strengthen Lieberman. The bellicose atmosphere has been good for the strongman of the staunch right. Young voters in particular have given Lieberman an unprecedented level of support in the polls. Sitting in his campaign headquarters in Herzliya Pituah, puffing on a high-quality cigar, the Yisrael Beiteinu leader is worried about the future of his country - but secure about his own future.

Rabbi Lau: Large number of religious troops not to be ignored
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 1/19/2009
Former chief rabbi praises skullcap-wearing IDF soldiers who are prominent in number in combat units, among wounded. ’Education for loving country and homeland and utmost value of sanctity of life are bearing fruit,’ he says. On same token, however, Lau urges avoiding sectoral view of army - Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv-Yaffo and former chief rabbi of Israel, praised on Monday the yeshiva and pre-military religious program graduates who "took the place of the boys from the labor collectives in serving in combat units at a higher rate to their relative proportion in the general population. "In a conversation with Ynet, Rabbi Lau noted that this phenomenon is also seen in the high number of skullcap-wearing soldiers who were wounded in battle in recent years. However, he emphasized that "we do not need to speak in terms of this sector or another when it comes to the military. "

Russian-speakers see Potemkin victory in Gaza
Lili Galili, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
Opinion-shapers from the Russian immigrant community appear to be as skeptical of the leadership’s proclaimed victory over Hamas in Operation Cast Lead as they were in 2006, when the Kadima’s government said it had won the fight against Hezbollah "in points. " Using a historical analogy, one influential Russian-Israeli blogger described "a real victory" as one which ends "with a flag flying high on the Reichstag. "Such a victory, she said, was not reached this time. The sentiment is shared by many, as a recent poll suggests. The survey, preformed by the Israeli Russian-language news site NewsRu, included 2,600 respondents, 85 percent of whom said they disagreed with the decision to end the campaign. Sixty percent of respondents said they were disappointed by it, and 27 percent said they were outraged by it. Almost 90 percent of the survey’s participants said they found the war did not meet its initial objectives.

Rabbinical Court casts doubt on conversion of son of famed Jewish theologian
Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 1/19/2009
The son of the late Jewish theologian and Holocaust survivor Emil Fackenheim plans to fight a decision by a Jerusalem Rabbinical Court Judge to retroactively annul his conversion of 27 years. In August of 2008, Yossi Fackenheim, who was converted to Judaism at the age of two by an Orthodox Rabbinical Court in Toronto, had his conversion revoked by Rabbi Yissachar Dov Hagar, a judge on Jerusalem’s Rabbinical Court. Hagar’s decision was made during divorce proceedings between Yossi and his former wife Iris, who were married as Jews in Jerusalem by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in 2001. The two came before Hagar to finalize their divorce. But in the midst of the divorce proceedings Hagar told Yossi that there was no need for a get (divorce writ) since Yossi was not Jewish as his mother was not Jewish at the time of his birth.

Operation Cast Lead direct cost estimated at NIS 5b
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 1/19/2009
Meitav Group chief economist Ron Eichal made the estimate to "Globes". "Compared with the NIS 330 million per day cost of the Second Lebanon War, it is quite reasonable to estimate the cost of Operation Cast Lead at NIS 250 million per day. Therefore, the cost of the campaign to date is NIS 5 billion,"Meitav Group strategist and chief economist Ron Eichal told "Globes" today. Eichal is referring to the direct cost to the security forces for the campaign. His figures do not include the loss to GDP and productivity caused by the fighting. He noted that the 33-day Second Lebanon War in 2006 cost NIS 11 billion. Eichal noted, "60,000 reservists were called up for the Lebanon war, but far fewer this time. Another key difference is the use of the Air Force, which is the largest cost of any war.

Finance, labor heads agree on Cast Lead help for businesses
TheMarker, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
Israel’s finance chiefs yesterday met with labor representatives and agreed on the outlines of compensation for residents of the south who suffered damage during Operation Cast Lead. The agreement - a final accord should be signed within days - covers both households and businesses. Tax commissioner Yehuda Nasradishi met with top people from the finance and industry ministries, as well as representatives of manufacturers and the Histadrut labor federation. Workers employed within a range of 40 kilometers from the Israel-Gaza border (based on the Home Front’s map) who missed work because of the war may be eligible for compensation, the leaders decided. Applicable conditions include staying home to take care of children under 14 because schools were closed at the defense forces’ order.

Sharp drop in State of the Economy Index points to growing crisis
Adiran Filut, Globes Online 1/19/2009
Every component of the December index fell. A very sharp 1% drop in the Bank of Israel’s composite State of the Economy Index in December points to the worsening economic situation. The declining state of the economy is also seen in the fact that every component of the index fell. There was a sharp 13% fall in the services exports index in December, after it rose in November, and the goods exports index fell 7. 1% in December after rising 1. 8% in November. Other indices, such as the trade and services revenue index, the index of manufacturing production, the goods imports index also fell. The index for the previous three months was revised downward as well. The September index was revised to show a negative 0. 6% change, from a negative 0. 3% change, October was revised to a drop of 0.

Industrial output down sharply
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 1/19/2009
Excluding technology sectors, output fell by an annualized 8. 1% in September-November. The latest Central Bureau of Statistics figures indicate a hard landing for the Israeli economy in the final months of 2008. Three-month trend figures for September-November 2008 show an annualized 7. 6% drop in industrial output, and an annualized 8. 1% drop in industrial output excluding high tech. The reason for the plunge in industrial output is particularly worrying: a 12% plunge in high-tech output and a nearly 20% drop in output by mixed-low technology industry (metals, rubber and plastics, and jewelry). The drop in industrial output is also affecting employment; the number of manufacturing jobs fell by 0. 5% in September-November. Trade and services proceeds are just as depressing.

Barclays analysts pessimistic about Israeli banks
Sharon Shpurer, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
Barclays Capital Israel investment house has downgraded its outlook for the Israeli banking sector to Negative. The firm, formerly the research department of Lehman Brothers Israel, predicts that like banks everywhere else, Israeli banks will to have to cope with an onerous economic environment this year. The uncertainty is exacerbated by the inability to predict the magnitude of provisions for doubtful debts, which rose sharply in the third quarter of 2008. Even so, Israel’s banks are not facing the same problems as banks abroad, so they are expected to achieve better returns than banks overseas despite the economic downturn. Within the sector, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank has been awarded an Outperform rating by the head of Barclays Capital Israel’s equity research department, Joseph Wolf, who has slapped an Underperform rating on the three large banks - Leumi, Discount and Hapoalim.

IEC will attempt to raise $200m in US
Lior Baron, Globes Online 1/19/2009
JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup are the underwriters for the bond offering for institutional investors. Israel Electric Corporation(IEC) (TASE: ELEC. B22) will try to raise $200 million in a bond offering for institutional investors in the US this week. Executives, including CEO Amos Lasker, today left for London on a road show for the issue, and will continue on to the US. JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup are the underwriters. The offering is part of a decision by IEC’s board, under chairman Moti Friedman, to raise an additional $1 billion. The new offering comes after the company raised $1 billion six months ago in an offering led by Citigroup and the now defunct Lehman Brothers. In view of the financial crisis, IEC recently decided to lower expectations about an improvement in the market climate during the second half of 2009.

Gas find boosts shekel
Sharon Baider, Globes Online 1/19/2009
The shekel-dollar rate has fallen below 3. 8/$, with the ceasefire in Gaza also bolstering confidence in the local currency. Yesterday’s news of a commercial gas field off the coast at Haifa sent the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange sharply higher. Trading volume in the companies involved in the drilling was exceptionally heavy, much of it accounted for by overseas investors, who presumably converted money into shekels in order to buy shares, strengthening the local currency. A further boost to the shekel comes from the ceasefire in Gaza announced by Hamas yesterday, following Israel’s unilateral ceasefire announced on Saturday night. On the other hand, the Consumer Price Index published on Thursday showed a 0. 1% fall, admittedly a smaller fall than had been expected, but still enough to maintain expectations that the Bank of Israel will cut. . .

Iraq MPs fail to elect new parliament speaker
Salam Faraj - BAGHDAD, Middle East Online 1/19/2009
Iraqi MPs struggling to break a political deadlock over the election of the next speaker of parliament postponed a vote on Monday until after regional polls scheduled for the end of the month, an official said. "The decision to postpone was made after the parliament’s presiding board and the heads of political entities in the parliament agreed on the issue today," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The vote for speaker will now take place on February 4. The decision to delay the appointment until after the January 31 provincial elections comes in the wake of weeks of political wrangling over a replacement for outspoken Mahmud Mashhadani, who quit as speaker on December 23. Iraqis citizens go to the polls to choose representatives for 440 provincial council seats in 14 of 18 provinces, a ballot that could help reverse Sunni under-representation in Iraqi politics.

Muntazer al-Zaidi seeks asylum in Switzerland
Middle East Online 1/19/2009
GENEVA - An Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at US President George W. Bush in Baghdad last month is to seek political asylum in Switzerland, a Geneva lawyer told the daily La Tribune de Geneve on Monday. Muntazer al-Zaidi gained instant international fame when he threw his shoes at Bush during the US president’s farewell visit to Iraq on December 14, an action considered a grave insult in the Arab world. "At the beginning of the month his family contacted me via the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) and I shall write this week to the federal department (ministry) of foreign affairs to encourage Switzerland to grant him political asylum," lawyer Mauro Poggia told the paper. Switzerland could give him asylum "without taking a position for or against the American intervention in Iraq," he said.

AUSTRALIA: Refusing to Resettle Gitmo Inmates
Stephen de Tarczynski, Inter Press Service 1/20/2009
MELBOURNE, Jan 19(IPS) - Australia’s rejection of Bush administration requests to accept a number of detainees currently held at the Guantánamo Bay detention centre, although supported in some quarters, is also being opposed in others. In early January, then-acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard revealed that the Kevin Rudd government has twice been asked by United States officials to allow a "small group" of Guantánamo detainees to resettle in Australia. The first request occurred in early 2008 and the second in December last year. Both have now been rejected. "Assessing those requests from a case-by-case basis, they had not met our stringent national security and immigration criteria," Gillard told journalists on Jan. 3. The outgoing U. S. administration of George W. Bush had expressed its desire in recent times to close the controversial detention centre at Guantánamo. . .


So, I asked the UN secretary general, isn’t it time for a war crimes tribunal?
Robert Fisk, The Independent 1/19/2009
      Mr Ban said it would not be up to him to launch a war crimes tribunal. It was pathetic.
     It’s a wrap, a doddle, an Israeli ceasefire just in time for Barack Obama to have a squeaky-clean inauguration with all the world looking at the streets of Washington rather than the rubble of Gaza. Condi and Ms Livni thought their new arms-monitoring agreement – reached without a single Arab being involved – would work. Ban Ki-moon welcomed the unilateral truce. The great and the good gathered for a Sharm el-Sheikh summit. Only Hamas itself was not consulted. Which led, of course, to a few wrinkles in the plan. First, before declaring its own ceasefire, Hamas fired off more rockets at Israel, proving that Israel’s primary war aim – to stop the missiles – had failed. Then Cairo shrugged off the deal because no one was going to set up electronic surveillance equipment on Egyptian soil. And not one European leader travelling to the region suggested the survivors might be helped if Israel, the EU and the US ended the food and fuel siege of Gaza.
     After killing hundreds of women and children, Israel was the good guy again, by declaring a unilateral ceasefire that Hamas was certain to break. But Obama will be smiling on Tuesday. Was not this the reason, after all, why Israel suddenly wanted a truce?
     Egypt’s objections may be theatre – the US spent £18m last year training Egyptian security men to stop arms smuggling into Gaza and since the US bails out Egypt’s economy, ignores the corruption of its regime and goes on backing Hosni Mubarak, there’s sure to be a "compromise" very soon.

Gaza: The Beginning of the End of Israel?
Alex Whisson, Palestine Chronicle 1/19/2009
      There is a global call to begin a campaign of Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions. (EPA) Through its criminal actions of the past three weeks, Israel must surely have succeeded only in digging its own grave. And no decent-minded person will shed a tear at its funeral.
     It’s truly astonishing the way it only takes a handful of five-second ’soundbites’ to reduce a complex story of injustice to a monstrous lie, but that is precisely what the leaders of the Israeli state and apologists for its cause have been doing - very effectively one must say - for the last sixty years.
     Empty platitudes and bald assertions by pro-Israel propagandists have dominated what passes for debate on the conflict for far too long. Some of the claims made by Tel Aviv and its virtual army of court scribes, often mistakenly referred to as journalists, are so utterly preposterous they wouldn’t look out of place in a Monty Python sketch if they weren’t so deadly serious.Take for instance the endlessly repeated mantra that Israel, a nuclear-armed state bristling with F-16’s, Merkava tanks and Apache helicopter gunships, must defend itself from the existential threat posed by home-made rockets that carry 4 kilograms of explosives and are in fact little more than glorified firecrackers.Claims such as these, the balsa wood struts that hold together the Potemkin village image Israel presents to the world, are now beginning to collapse before our eyes.

Israel’s friends cannot justify this slaughter
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, The Independent 1/19/2009
      On Saturday night, I was at the BBC to discuss the Sunday papers on their TV news channel. Optimism was up. Israel was about to halt its assault on Gaza. Be thankful for miserable mercies. Easier said than felt.
     For the trapped people of Gaza, this respite will bring some relief. It will not, cannot curb their grief and outrage after what was done to them while the West stood still. First systematically starved, the population was denied escape and more than 1,200 were slaughtered like animals in an abattoir.
     A writer of Muslim origin accusing Israel of crimes against Palestinians is always provocative. But race and religion are red herrings. Palestine is a political cause. Some of its most articulate voices – Edward Said, Hanan Ashrawi – have been Christian. Yes, true, Hamas represents an Islamicisation of the conflict, something I abhor, but the injustices suffered by Palestine go back way before Hamas.
     I have always defended Israel’s right to be but cannot extend unconditional support and immunity from censure in perpetuity. Nor can countless, conscientious Jewish men and women who publicly condemn Israel’s abominations. The Israeli academic Oren Yiftachel, who has long defended Palestine, has said his country: "Turned Gaza into a massive prison and is choosing to prolong the cycle of state terror and prison resistance that goes with that." In other words, Israel wants to keep the conflict alive.

Report From Gaza: Strongest Weapon of All
Kathy Kelly - Gaza, Palestine Chronicle 1/19/2009
      Dr. Atallah Tarazi, a General Surgeon at Gaza City’s Shifaa Hospital, invited us to meet him in his home, in Gaza City, just a few blocks away from the Shifaa Hospital.
     Early in the morning, today, he and his family returned to their home after having fled five days earlier when the bombing attacks on Gaza City had become so fierce that they feared for their lives. “Believe me, when I would drive from the hospital to the place where my family was staying, I prayed all the way,” said Dr. Tarazi, “because the Israelis would shoot anyone on the roads at night.”
     He has been practicing medicine as a General Surgeon all of his adult life. Now, at age 61, he says he has never seen such terrible and ugly wounds as he saw during the past three weeks when he and a surgical team tried to help numerous patients with broken limbs, shrapnel wounds, and severe burns. Neurosurgeons, vascular surgeons, orthopedic and general surgeons worked together on patients, as a team, trying to save them, but there were many that they couldn’t save. He described patients with shrapnel wounds in their eyes, faces, chests, and abdomens, patients whose legs were amputated above the lower limbs. Most, he said, were civilians.
     “These are strange ways of destroying the human body,” said Dr. Tarazi. “Please, come tomorrow to the Burn Unit, and you will see patients suffering from the use of white phosphorous.”

Gazans do not blame Hamas
Mel Frykberg, Electronic Intifada 1/19/2009
      RAMALLAH (IPS) - Humanitarian aid is being rushed into Gaza as Israel and Egypt open their borders temporarily to allow convoys of aid to pass through.
     While Israeli drones circle the skies above, Hamas security men are back on the streets attempting to restore some semblance of law and order. Policemen are directing traffic. Several looters have been arrested.
     Gazans who survived the battering inflicted by Israel’s 22-day military campaign, codenamed Operation Cast Lead, are venturing out and trying to pick up the pieces of their lives.
     "People are feeling dazed and confused. Many are desperately trying to contact family members and friends on the few remaining phone lines that operate to see if they are still alive or if they are injured," Abdallah al-Agha from Khan Younis in the south of Gaza told IPS.
     "Others are leaving UN shelters for the first time in days to see if and what remains of their homes," added al-Agha.
     Elena Qleibo, a Gaza-based aid worker from Oxfam and an ex-Costa Rican ambassador to Israel, said parts of Gaza resembled an apocalypse.
     "The destruction wrought on Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza, and the Zeitoun suburb in eastern Gaza city is immense," Qleibo told IPS. "The sewage is flowing in the streets. Electricity pylons, water and sewage works, municipal and medical buildings, and homes have been leveled."

Amid dust and death, a family’s story speaks for the terror of war
Rory McCarthy in Zeitoun, The Guardian 1/19/2009
      48 members of the Samouni family were killed in one day when Israel’s battle with Hamas suddenly centred on their homes
     Helmi Samouni knelt yesterday on the floor of the bedroom he once shared with his wife and their five-month old son, scraping his fingers through a thick layer of ash and broken glass looking for mementoes of their life together. "I found a ring. I might find more," he said.
     His wife Maha and their child Muhammad were killed in the second week of Israel’s 22-day war in Gaza when they were shelled by Israeli forces as they took shelter nearby along with dozens of relatives. In total 48 people from one family are now known to have died that Monday morning, 5 January, in Zeitoun, on the southern outskirts of Gaza City.
     Of all the horrors visited on the civilians of Gaza in this war the fate of the Samounis, a family of farmers who lived close together in simple breeze-block homes, was perhaps the gravest.
     Around a dozen homes in this small area were destroyed, no more than piles of rubble in the sand yesterday. Helmi Samouni’s two-storey house was one of the few left standing, despite the gaping hole from a large tank shell that pierced his blackened bedroom wall. During the invasion it had been taken over by Israeli soldiers, who wrecked the furniture and set up sand-bagged shooting positions throughout.

Israel’s disconnect
Julie Flint, The Guardian 1/19/2009
      The call came at 8pm, in unaccented Arabic, to a foreign resident of the seafront neighbourhood of Ain Mreisse, on the other side of the city from the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs of Beirut. The voice was friendly, even though the words were not. "Beware of Hezbollah," it said. "Beware of Hamas. Think of yourselves. Don’t give your support to these groups. You know what the results would be." And then it signed off, in case the listener had any doubt. "This is the State of Israel!"
     We do indeed know what the results would be. In 2006, more than 1,000 people died in Lebanon, the vast majority of them civilians, when Israel launched air and artillery attacks against targets including Beirut airport, bridges and highways, and established an air, land and sea blockade following Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers from the Israeli side of the border. War crimes were committed and there has been no accountability, making the next war that much easier. In Gaza so far, more than 1,200 Palestinians have died (and 13 Israelis), the vast majority of whom were non-combatants. A quarter were children, straining even Israel’s definition of "terrorist" as, according to its own experts, it expands the definition of "legitimate target" and, in so doing, narrows the definition of "collateral damage".

Israel’s Propaganda War - Part 2
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 1/19/2009
      As the conflict in Gaza winds down, Israel’s toughest battle is just beginning—the battle against the media. Not literally of course, although the IDF did a great job of targeting many media and broadcasting centers in Gaza during its offensive, along with killing several journalists in the process. But now that the ceasefire has taken effect, Israel is focused on making sure the world sees the conflict from their point of view—and they have taken a ‘grass roots’ approach to their image problem.
     One of the new techniques the Ministry of Information is using is recruiting people via mass-emails to become “media volunteers” for Israel and sending text messages to journalists covering the conflict offering to help them cover the war, from Israel’s point of view of course.
     Around the world, many people have been spammed by Israel with this email:
     Dear friends,
     We hold the [sic] military supremacy, yet fail the battle over the international media. We need to buy time for the IDF to succeed, and the least we can do is spare some (additional) minutes on the net. The ministry of foreign affairs is putting great efforts in balancing the media, but we all know it’s a battle of numbers. The more we post, blog, talkback, vote – the more likely we gain positive sentiment.

Solidarity with Gaza: Just the Beginning
Hammam Farah – Toronto, Palestine Chronicle 1/19/2009
      The incessant sound of typing over the many laptops around me became the background theme sound of my life for the past two and a half weeks. Since Israel’s latest assault on Gaza that began on December 27, my social circle of journalists and activists have besieged ourselves (no pun intended) in a friend’s basement to write articles, coordinate with other groups, take interviews, and discuss strategies for raising awareness and taking action.
     Already, the bone chilling, cold streets of Toronto have seen several mass demonstrations of solidarity with the people of Gaza and anger at an Israeli government that is increasingly being recognized as one of apartheid and racial exclusion. For our Palestinian people back home, the struggle consists of continued steadfastness and resistance.For us in the Diaspora, it’s about education, solidarity, and the promotion of the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli apartheid and its institutions. For both those in Palestine and outside, the long-term goal is the ending of Israeli apartheid, and the immediate goal is breaking the world’s silence over the two-year-old inhuman siege on Gaza and its culmination with this massive assault that has so far taken the lives of over a thousand people today.

On the blogs: Gaza assesses the devastation
Matthew Weaver, The Guardian 1/19/2009
      As Israeli troops returned from the frontline smiling with relief, the ceasefire has given the people of Gaza their first chance to assess the devastation of the 22-day conflict.
     One volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement, Eva Bartlett, writes: "Today was the first day that medics and journalists were able to reach areas occupied by the invading Israeli troops.
     "For some the anguish is immense: pulverised homes, killed family members, corpses unretrieved, sanctimony and all that is sacred defiled. For others, the suffering is in the tragedy of shattered dreams, of every personal item destroyed or lost. While the bombs may have stopped, for now, the terror remains. F-16s still flew low, terrifyingly low, today, so loud, so unpredictable. No one here has any reason to believe any words Israeli leaders proclaim. Only reason to believe in the worst."
     Throughout the conflict, Laila El Haddad, blogging from America, has been providing daily updates from her father in Gaza.
     "There is an unfamiliar stillness in Gaza today," he told her.
     She quotes him saying: "They destroyed anything in their path – people, buildings, streets … nothing was left untouched. It is calm, for now. We sleep, for now. But the siege continues. And make no mistake, Gaza will rise."

The real damage in Gaza
Anas Altikriti, The Guardian 1/19/2009
      When a rabbi burns his Israeli passport in protest against the attacks that have killed more than 1,200 Gazans, the vast majority civilians, and injured more than 5,000, and a veteran Jewish Labour MP compares Israeli actions and statements to those of the Nazis, one cannot fail but take notice. When prominent members of Britain’s Jewish community make an impassioned appeal to Israel to stop its onslaught against the beleaguered Strip and its people, while another letter signed by dozens of Jewish figures from all corners of British society condemns the Israeli attacks, stating that the images reminded them of the siege of the Warsaw ghettos, it’s almost as if a radical narrative shift has been set in motion.
     For years, decades even, those who have criticised Israel have been accused of antisemitism. If those doing the criticising happened to be Jewish themselves, they would be branded self-hating Jews. One way or another, there was no way for anyone to criticise Israel and its expansionist and illegal policies without being denounced for being racist and a bigot of sorts. However, rather than time playing in favour of Israel by cementing its authority and false claims over the occupied territories, more and more people are turning against it.

Families flee to school refuges
Eman Mohammed writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 1/19/2009
      15 January 2009
     "I could not leave my house, it’s too priceless to me -- it’s home! Although I could hear the missiles hitting the house next door, kids in the family were frightened and wouldn’t stop crying. Still we managed to hold on until they destroyed our cousin Sadlah Matar Abu Halemeh’s causing the death of his nine-member family. All were killed and no one survived -- then we decided to leave!"
     These were the words of Naima Abu Halemeh who moved into the al-Shati school in Gaza City after her husband, Zhaar, and son, Muhammad, were injured while they were trying to evacuate their house in Beit Lahia’s al-Siafa neighborhood in the northern Gaza Strip. She quickly dried her teary eyes when her cousin, Eid, said that "we won’t cry because we will be back soon there soon. We just feared for the lives of our kids; it’s not much better over here, more than 30 members of my family sleep in the classroom which we used as a bedroom when we moved in the school." While he boiled water, he added, "we couldn’t get a bath for eight days! Can you believe how miserable our lives have become? My son Muhammad always wets his bed at night, but I can’t help him. What can I say -- don’t be scared? I’m scared myself!"

This Unilateral Cease-Fire is no Cease-Fire at all
Abu Yusef from occupied Palestine, Palestine Monitor 1/19/2009
      What has been sold to the international community as a show of Israeli mercy - in the form of a ceasefire - is only one more political ploy by Israel’s soon-to-be-criminally-indicted leadership.
     The other night, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert addressed the nation and world. It was the moment that the embattled politician had been waiting since arriving in office: Victory.
     After so many corruption charges had been laid upon his door and after being saddled with the blame of the military failure in Lebanon in 2006, Ehud probably did not think he was ever going to deliver any news to the Israeli public that he could be proud of.
     He took to the stage as if he had finally won his first Emmy - eager to recount his military success, announce a unilateral ceasing of hostilities, and thank his many supporters – including outgoing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice whom he quite recently insulted.
     Israel has won. We are united and We are powerful. We have achieved our objectives. Blah. Blah. Blah.
     But one should look a little closer at what is being called a ceasefire, and why it has been declared before they judge whether it was either wise or merciful.

A letter to the 82% of Israelis who think that Israel has 'not gone too far' in Gaza
Uschi Samawi, International Middle East Media Center News 1/19/2009
      When I was a child, growing up in Austria, I often heard the excuse "we did not know - wir haben es nicht gewusst - what terrible things were done to the Jews". I am well aware that the public in Israel and the US is not always fully informed of the atrocities their governments commit in their name. For all those who read this, you will no longer have that excuse.
     I would ask you to answer my question: Did Jews not use violence and terrorism when they were fighting to gain independence? Did you already forget? Did Jews not use car bombs or place bombs in crowded market places? Did they not blow up civilians in a hotel?
     The suicide bombings are often depicted as "the root of the problem". Did you forget that they did not start until after a Jewish settler from America walked into the Hebron Mosque - a place also holy to Jews - and murdered 29 Palestinians in cold blood? Or that your "moral" army - who was manning the entrance in force and searches every Palestinian in detail before allowing him to enter - let an armed-to-the-teeth settler walk in unhindered? Or that they did not intervene when he started shooting Palestinians - on their knees, in prayer?

The Crippling Arab Cold War
Patrick Seale, Middle East Online 1/19/2009
      The total inability of the Arabs to respond effectively -- in word or deed, whether diplomatically or militarily -- to Israel’s devastating war on Gaza has revealed what was known but rarely admitted, namely that Arab leaders hate and fear each other more than they hate and fear Israel.
     In these terrible weeks of carnage, the world has witnessed the crippling effects of the Arab Cold War. Gaza has burned, but Arab leaders, so deep are their mutual antagonisms, have been incapable even of convening an official summit meeting.
     Arab diplomats, interviewed for this article, speak despairingly of the “end of the Arab regional order.” Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the so-called ‘moderates’, find it more urgent to fight their ‘radical’ rivals for regional leadership, than to join forces with them in confronting Israel.
     Even when their vital interests are at stake -- even when Israel slaughters Palestinians to the outrage of Arab and Muslim opinion -- Arab leaders have proved unable to deliver a common message, let alone resort to the kind of aggressive international diplomacy which the situation so obviously calls for.

Sacrificing Gaza to revive Israel’s Labor party
Smadar Lavie, Electronic Intifada 1/19/2009
      On 27 December 2008, Israel initiated yet another heinous carnage of the Palestinian people because of its democratically elected Hamas government. It did so with the silent encouragement of the US, the European Union and their Arab subcontractors, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. I have spent the past few weeks talking on Skype with friends in Ashdod, an Israeli town about 30 kilometers north of the Gaza Strip. Several times, they have had to seek safety from the rockets by fleeing to Jerusalem. The background noise to our conversations has been the sophisticated newspeak oozing from the Israeli TV.
     How cynical are Israeli politicians that they have chosen to sacrifice the lives of innocent Gazan families to seek political advantage in the elections that will happen on 10 February. Not only has the Israeli regime sent its military machine to commit genocide in Gaza, it has also endangered the lives of its own citizens and soldiers. This, without even once trying to negotiate in good faith with the elected government of the Palestinian people.

Why Israel won’t survive
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada 1/19/2009
      The merciless Israeli bombardment of Gaza has stopped -- for now -- but the death toll keeps rising as more bodies are pulled from carpet- bombed neighborhoods.
     What Israel perpetrated in Gaza, starting at 11:30am on 27 December 2008, will remain forever engraved in history and memory. Tel al-Hawa, Hayy al-Zeitoun, Khuzaa and other sites of Israeli massacres will join a long mournful list that includes Deir Yasin, Qibya, Kufr Qasim, Sabra and Shatila, Qana, and Jenin.
     Once again, Israel demonstrated that it possesses the power and the lack of moral restraint necessary to commit atrocities against a population of destitute refugees it has caged and starved.
     The dehumanization and demonization of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims has escalated to the point where Israel can with full self- righteousness bomb their homes, places of worship, schools, universities, factories, fishing boats, police stations -- in short everything that sustains civilized and orderly life -- and claim it is conducting a war against terrorism.

Unilateral People – Poems
Palestine Chronicle 1/19/2009
      The Palestine Chronicle is pleased to feature these short poems contributed by Alex Cave, Rafiq Kathwari, Gilad Atzmon, and Ata Hindi.
     In Gaza, Mothers Cry
     By Alex Cave
     Bombs fall every day
     Tear apart the people’s homes --
     And the mothers cry.
     Weeping Ev’ry night;
     Nightmares, children terrified --
     And their mothers cry.
     Stench of burning flesh.
     Because of white phosphorous --
     All the mothers cry.
     And the schools are gone.
     Children will not learn to read --
     So the mothers cry.
     Now the food is gone
     And the stores can get no more --
     And the mothers cry....

Gaza’s artists under fire
Maymanah Farhat, Electronic Intifada 1/18/2009
      "I am working under the voices of fire, Israeli warplanes ... I still breathe, take some pictures everyday" - Shareef Sarhan, Palestinian artist, 12 January 2009
     Israel’s vicious attack on Gaza has already claimed more than 1,200 lives and has injured thousands while destroying the infrastructure of the tiny coastal territory, including the handful of nonprofit venues that make cultural life possible. Even before the invasion, the combination of 41 years of Israeli occupation, frequent military incursions and attacks, infighting among Palestinian factions, and a dwindling economy created a difficult, if not impossible, environment to sustain an art scene. Yet, with the determination that has defined Palestinian art for decades, artists in Gaza have continued to create and organize, including establishing artistic associations and collectives and organizing frequent exhibitions both at home and abroad. A look at some of Gaza’s seminal artists reveals an artistic tradition that has survived years of conflict while contributing greatly to Arab culture.
     Born in Lydda in 1930 and forced to live in a refugee camp in Khan Younis in 1948, Ismail Shammout was one of Palestine’s leading modernist painters. He organized his first exhibition in Khan Younis in 1953 and lived in exile throughout most of his career, residing in Kuwait, Jordan, and Lebanon with his wife and colleague, Palestinian painter Tamam al-Akhal. Often incorporating local folklore and history in portraits of women and children amidst scenes of expulsion and conflict, his monumental compositions and expressionist style became an important part of Palestinian visual culture, influencing generations of artists seeking to articulate their collective narrative. In addition to creating an impressive body of work and exhibiting across the region, Shammout produced Art in Palestine (1989), one of the first English-language texts on Palestinian art.

Gaza was demolished in three weeks. Rebuilding it will take years
Patrick Cockburn in Jerusalem, The Independent 1/20/2009
      The rebuilding of Gaza after the Israeli bombardment already faces unique problems and is likely to be the most difficult reconstruction project in the world. This is because of the sheer scale of the devastation, the economic siege of the Palestinian enclave by Israel and Egypt, and the attempt to exclude Hamas, the elected rulers of Gaza, from any role in the rebuilding.
     The difficulties are all the greater because of the destruction of much of the tunnel system linking Gaza to Egypt. Israeli and European leaders talk of the tunnel system – by one estimate there are 1,100 of them – as if it was exclusively devoted to supplying weapons and ammunition to Hamas. In reality, "the tunnel economy" has been the way in which food, fuel and everything else has reached Gaza since Israel and Egypt sealed off the Strip 18 months ago, when Hamas drove out the rival Palestinian faction Fatah in 2007. Military supplies were always a very small part of Gaza’s imports through the tunnels.
     "Everything from Viagra to diesel entered Gaza through the tunnels," said one source. At one point before the Israeli attack, the price of petrol went down in Gaza because a pipeline had been threaded through one of the tunnels, all of which are privately dug and owned. Cooking-gas bottles are in short supply because they previously came in through tunnels that are now closed.

Gazans say IDF troops ignored their white flags
Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 1/20/2009
      Gaza residents are claiming that some Palestinians killed during the three weeks of fighting were waving white flags at the time they were shot. Four of them were members of the A-Najar family of the village of Khuza’a, east of Khan Yunis.
     Statements attesting to the circumstances surrounding their deaths was provided to the B’Tselem human rights organization and Haaretz over the telephone.
     On the night between January 12-13, Israel Defense Forces soldiers entered Khuza’a, which is only a few hundred meters from the border with Israel. A few hours of shelling caused fires, which residents attempted to put out, Monir A-Najar told Haaretz yesterday.
     At around 5 A.M., the tanks started to enter the town’s eastern sections. Thick smoke prevented residents from seeing what was happening, and they only heard sounds of the destruction of houses, shooting and shelling. The residents of the houses, adults and children, climbed out on the roofs of their houses on their own and for about an hour stood and waved white flags. Helicopters fired at them "in order to scare them, not to injure them," said Monir A-Najar. -- See also: VIDEO - Shocking evidence of Israeli phosphorus use in Gaza emerges and Israel accused of war crimes over 12-hour assault on Gaza village