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SHOWDOWN IN GAZA UPDATES (8) -  5 February 09

 

ISRAEL AND HAMAS PREPARE FOR THE NEXT GAZA WAR

An analysis of what Israel and Hamas did, or did not do.

Feb 4/09.  Several senior Israeli officers provided TIME with a detailed account of the military campaign. "There was never a single incident in which a unit of Hamas confronted our soldiers," one Israel Defense Forces official says. "And we kept waiting for them to use sophisticated anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles against us, but they never did."

By the end of the conflict, Hamas was still firing rockets, but far fewer. Its rocketeers made easy targets. Within less than a minute after Hamas fired a rocket, the Israelis were able pinpoint and destroy the launch site. As one senior Israeli officer says, "Everyone is digesting the lessons of the Gaza war - us and them." And neither side expects last month's showdown in Gaza to be the last.

Full Story> http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20090204/wl_time/08599187669000

 

Commentary/Analysis:

TIME FOR A THREE-STATE-SOLUTION?

- By Caroline B. Glick

A growing number of observers have pointed out that Hamas's Iranian-sponsored jihadist regime in Gaza is proof that Israel has no way to ensure that land it transfers to the PLO-Fatah will remain under PLO-Fatah control.

This reassessment has also provoked a discussion of the PLO-Fatah's own failures since it formed the Palestinian Authority in 1994. Despite the billions of dollars it received from Israel and the West, its Western trained armed forces numbering more than 75,000 and the bottomless reserve of international political support it enjoys, the PLO-Fatah regime did not build a state, but a kleptocratic thugocracy where the rule of law was replaced by the rule of the jackboot. Instead of teaching its people to embrace peace, freedom and democracy, the PLO-Fatah-led PA indoctrinated them to wage jihad against Israel in a never-ending war.

Bolton, Pipes and Inbar not only agree that the two-state paradigm has failed, they also agree on what must be done now to "solve" the Palestinian conflict. In their view the failed "two-state solution" should be replaced with what Bolton refers to as the "three-state solution." All three analysts begin their analyses with the assertion that Israel is uninterested in controlling Gaza, Judea and Samaria. Since the Palestinians have shown they cannot be trusted with sovereignty, the three argue that the best thing to do is to return the situation to what it was from 1949 to 1967: Egypt should reassert its control over Gaza and Jordan should reassert its control over Judea and Samaria.

THE SALIENT QUESTION is now that it is clear that the two-state solution has failed, what is the best option for managing the conflict? Not only would Israel be unable to trust that its security situation would improve if the areas were to revert to Jordanian and Egyptian control, Israel could trust that its security situation would rapidly deteriorate as the prospect of regional war increased. With a retrocession of Gaza, Judea and Samaria to Egyptian and Jordanian rule, Israel would find itself situated within indefensible borders, and facing the likely prospect that the Egyptian and Jordanian regimes would be destabilized.

 Today Israel has the ability to enter Gaza without concern that doing so would provoke war with Egypt. It has minimized the terror threat from Judea and Samaria by controlling the areas with the massive help of the strong Israeli civilian presence in the areas which ensures control over the roads and the heights. IDF forces can operate freely within the areas without risking war with Jordan. The IDF controls the long border with Jordan and can prevent terrorist infiltration from the east.

The best way to move forward is to reject the calls for a solution and concentrate instead on stabilization.

READ full article = excellent analysis

http://jewishworldreview.com/0209/glick020309.php3 

 

ABBAS TRYING TO DRUM UP SUPPORT

Feb 1-2/09.  In the last few days, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas met with Nicolas Sarkozy as part of his effort to drum up diplomatic support for a unity government of Palestinian factions.

The Palestinian leader also wants international backing for his demands that he be given a role in Gaza reconstruction, and that his troops be deployed at the Gaza border crossings with Israel and Egypt.

Abbas called for a "solution with Hamas in the framework of a government of national unity", but in Cairo, Abbas told reporters he would not hold reconciliation talks with Hamas as long as it rejects his authority.

The two sides have been divided since Hamas seized Gaza in 2007. Abbas' Fatah rules the West Bank. Hamas rules Gaza, and it no longer recognises Abbas as the Palestinian President. But rather, it is calling for an alternative Palestinian organisation with Hamas at the head.

Fatah and Hamas were joined in a power-sharing government in the months before the Gaza coup in which hundreds of Fatah military men were slaughtered. So what makes Abbas think that a unity government is possible, and would bring harmony and a solution to Palestinian problems now?

Even if a “Unity government” was formed, as the Europeans are calling for, what progress could there be when half the unity government recognises Israel, and the other half refuses to recognise, and calls for the destruction of Israel.

Hamas, anyhow, is cool to the idea of unity with Fatah, and to Fatah’s involvement in reconstruction work in Gaza.  It has its own agenda.

Caroline Glick comments:

Hamas's threat to PLO-Fatah was and remains qualitatively different from the threat it poses to Israel. PLO-Fatah never had a problem with Hamas attacks against Israel, or with its annihilationist ideology as regards Israel.

This ideology is shared by PLO-Fatah and is widely popular among the Palestinians. Consequently not only did the PLO-Fatah never prevent Hamas from attacking Israel, it collaborated with Hamas in attacking Israel and did so while disseminating Hamas's genocidal ideology throughout the PA. PLO-Fatah did crack down on Hamas when it felt that Hamas was threatening its grip on power, but in all other respects, it supported Hamas - and continues to do so.  

 

HAMAS POLICE STEAL UNRWA AID

Feb 4/09. Hamas police raided an UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) warehouse in Gaza Tuesday evening, stealing thousands of blankets and hundreds of food parcels from local staff at gunpoint.

"It's a very serious incident," Jerusalem-based UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told Israel National News. "We condemn it in the strongest terms and we demand that the items be returned immediately."

Hamas police grabbed 3,500 blankets and 407 food parcels, according to Gunness, who said his staff was present at the time of the heist. "We were there, and we tried to stop them, but they were armed and we were not," he said. – Artuz Sheva

http://au.mg2.mail.yahoo.com/dc/launch?.gx=1&.rand=930elgj8mn1dc

 

  MUBARAK REBUKES HAMAS OVER GAZA WAR 

Egyptian president slams Hamas for objecting to efforts to prolong Gaza ceasefire

Feb 4/09. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak condemned Hamas and Iran in a speech Wednesday, and hinted that Hamas was responsible for the fighting in Gaza.

Why did the resistance factions object to our attempts to prolong the ceasefire? And why did they not heed our warnings that their positions constitute an open invitation for an Israeli assault? Was this planned and deliberate? For whose benefit?" Mubarak said.

Hinting at Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal, Mubarak said, "For how long will Arab blood be shed, only to listen to those who admit their mistakes later, because they didn't calculate Israel's response correctly; and to those who wave resistance slogans over the corpses of casualties, the ruins, and the destruction?"

"The resistance does not entail slogans that disparage the lives of casualties and that deal in the blood of the injured or the suffering of innocent civilians," he added.

Continuing his onslaught against Mashaal, the Egyptian president said, "I have stressed this before and I will say it again, the resistance must face the cost-benefit test. It must be responsible towards the nations that judge it on the merits of the benefits it has brought for their problems alongside the casualties, the pain, and the destruction it has caused."

FULL STORY> http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3666901,00.html

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SHOWDOWN IN GAZA UPDATES (7) -  31 January 09

TURKEY PM STORMS OFF DAVOS STAGE OVER PERES REMARKS ON GAZA

Jan 29/09. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday stormed off the stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos, red-faced after verbally sparring with President Shimon Peres over the recent fighting in Gaza.

Erdogan was angry after being cut off by a panel moderator after listening to an impassioned monologue by Peres defending Israel's recent 22-day offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Erdogan told Peres: "You are killing people."

A finger-pointing Peres told Erdogan at Thursday's panel that he would have done the same if rockets had been hitting Istanbul.

I have know Shimon Peres for many years and I also know Erdogan. I have never seen Shimon Peres so passionate as he was today. I think he felt Israel was being attacked by so many in the international community. He felt isolated," said former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik.

Full report> http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1060036.html

See also article> THE ISRAEL-TURKEY ALLIANCE IS A TRAP - WILL ISRAEL REALIZE IT?

TURKISH PM GIVEN HERO'S WELCOME

Jan 30/09.  Turkey's PM has received a hero's welcome on his return to Istanbul after he stormed out of a debate about Gaza at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The crowds were shouting, "Turkey is with you," and that some were holding signs greeting Mr Erdogan as "a new world leader."

The BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Istanbul said there had been huge anger in Turkey at Israel's operation in Gaza and there now appears to be widespread support for Mr Erdogan's actions in Davos.

Huge crowds were waiting at Istanbul airport in the early hours of the morning, with many people waving Turkish and Palestinian flags.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/davos/7859815.stm

 

GAZANS GET AID, BLAME HAMAS FOR SITUATION

Hamas members hand out aid to homeless Gazans, along with victory speech, claiming 'Israeli military machine defeated'. They promise to rebuild homes, but some residents are skeptical.

The power struggle between Hamas and Fatah on reconstruction in the Strip continues. Despite Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's statements that all contributions and aid was welcome, Hamas suspect the international community's goal is to get Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' foot back in Gaza in this manner.

Meanwhile, US Mideast Envoy George Mitchell met with Israel’s Social Affairs Minister, Isaac Herzog, who is responsible for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.  Herzog told Mitchell that some 200 aid trucks enter Gaza every day

"Now the international community's test is to refrain from demanding the opening of the crossings, which would aid Hamas," Herzog said, "The opening of the crossings should be done only in exchange for (kidnapped soldier) Gilad Shalit. In the humanitarian aspect the Palestinian consumption is reaches its maximum capacity."

 Mitchell stressed to Herzog the need to continue isolating Hamas.

MORE> http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3664302,00.html

 

ABBAS TAKES HOSTILE LINE: “WE WILL PROVE ISRAELI WAR CRIMES”

The hostility of Israel’s “peace partner” – Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party –again became evident and open in Abbas’ diatribe on 27th Jan.  Although Hamas waged a coup against Fatah in Gaza in 2007, killing hundreds of Fatah military; and although in the recent conflict, Hamas deliberately incapacitated dozens of Fatah’s members by shooting them in the knees; and although the Gaza operation is a major step towards restoring control of Gaza to Fatah and Abbas; and although Israel has released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners as a good-will gesture to shore up Abbas’ regime, and has supplied weapons to that regime; and although he survives because of Israeli protection, Abbas still despises Israel and wants to form a unity government with Hamas.

We are yet to hear Mahmoud Abbas demand that Hamas recognise and make peace with Israel, so that Palestinian statehood and prosperity can become a reality.

Following are extracts from a ynet/worthy report:

Jan 27/09.  Palestinian President Abbas vows to tell US envoy George Mitchell that Israel is not serious about peace, says he will back efforts to prosecute Israel for war crimes 'that would make your skin crawl.’

Abbas vowed on 27th to take a tough stance in talks with Israel and said he would tell a US envoy that Israel's Gaza offensive proved it was not intent on peacemaking.

Abbas also said he would back international efforts to prosecute Israel for war crimes. "We will do all we can to prove Israel committed crimes that would make your skin crawl," Abbas said, referring to the Geneva Conventions. "We want the world to give us justice for once.  

"Israel does not want peace, otherwise it would not have done this. We need to understand this and tell it to those coming from Europe and America. Israel wants to waste time to strengthen facts on the ground with settlements and the wall."  

Hamas survived Israel's onslaught, accusing its rivals in the Arab world (including Fatah) of being "collaborators" who bet on Israel destroying the group. Hamas accuses the US-backed Abbas and his Arab allies of getting nothing in peace talks with Israel.

So Abbas steps up his rhetoric: "We want a state in the 1967 borders, a fair solution to the refugee issue, removal of settlements. There will be no going beyond these points or bargaining," said Abbas, on the defensive in the Arab world before Hamas' rhetoric of "resistance."

Abbas also said Palestinians are looking to Obama for progress: "He (Obama) has said good things. We are waiting to see if there is seriousness during this year about the peace process."

http://www.worthynews.com/top/ynetnews-com-Ext-Comp-ArticleLayout-CdaArticlePrintPreview-1,2506,L-3662932,00-html/

 

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SHOWDOWN IN GAZA UPDATES (6) -  29 January 09  

 

 HAMAS BREACHES CEASEFIRE - KILLS IDF SOLDIER.

 

ISRAEL RESPONDS

 

Jan 27/09.  An Israeli soldier has been killed in an attack on their patrol near the Kissufim Junction on the Gaza-Israel "border." An Israeli officer was badly wounded in the explosion and two other soldiers were lightly injured in the attack. The attack was carried out by an explosive device was detonated next to the patrol.

The Israeli death is the first since Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Israel declared ceasefires on January 18.

Israeli troops responded by crossing into Gaza looking for the militants who carried out the attack, as helicopters hovered overhead firing machine guns. One Palestinian has been killed, Gaza medics said.

Israel also closed the border crossings into Gaza because of the attack, stopping the flow of aid supplies to Gaza's 1.5 million residents.

On the same day, the IDF had received a green light to respond harshly to the bomb attack. On Tuesday night, IAF aircraft struck three arms smuggling tunnels under the Philadelphi Corridor.

Defence officials said their response would be in line with Israel's new policy to respond aggressively to any attack following the Gaza.

A Hamas leader, Mushir al-Masri, blamed Israel. "The Zionists are responsible for any aggression," he said. In any case, he continued, Hamas "had not agreed" to a full cease-fire but only to a lull in fighting.

 

LIVNI: ISRAELI RESTRAINT IN GAZA IS OVER

 

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Israel will no longer show restraint against Palestinian attacks from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

"Israel is going to act according to a new equation. We are not going to show restraint anymore. We need to change the rules of the game until they learn that the rules have changed and the equation has changed," she said.

Her remarks came after an Israeli soldier was killed and three others were wounded in an attack near the Gaza border.

Livni said that Israel needed to negotiate with the Fatah-run Palestinian leadership in the West Bank towards a two-state solution, while continuing to fight against Hamas in Gaza. "For me an agreement with Hamas is not an option," she concluded.

Likud chair Binyamin Netanyahu also responding to the fatal attack, saying, "Sooner or later we will need to finish the job in Gaza, and that we will do."   - Arutz Sheva

 

IRAN ARMS SHIP RELEASED BY U.S. NAVY NOW 'SAILING TO SYRIA'

Jan 28/09.  Ha'aretz reports that the captain of a ship that the US Navy recently detained has said his vessel is now en route to Syria. The boat was initially believed to be carrying arms destined for Hamas, though sources say the weapons will likely be delivered to Hezb’ullah.

 

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SHOWDOWN IN GAZA UPDATES (5) -  27 January 09

 

HAMAS’ FINAL GOAL

 Jan 23/09. Speaking outside the bombed parliament building in Gaza City, Hamas official Ismail Radwan proclaimed that his movement would go on to achieve much grander victories than the supposed one in the decimated Gaza Strip:“Controlling Gaza is not our final goal.  The liberation of all Palestine, from the river to the sea, will, Allah allowing, be achieved.”Of course, Hamas could not possibly annihilate a powerful modern country like Israel without the substantial help of such allies as Iran, Syria and Hizb’ullah, but in this statement, the militant group’s rejection of Israel’s very existence was stated quite clearly once again for all the world to hear!

 

HAMAS LEADERS STILL IN HIDING 

 

Jan 23/09. Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud A-Zahar are still in hiding, a senior Egyptian official told Al-Hayyat on Friday. The two fear Israel still sees them as a target despite the conclusion of the Cast Lead operation in Gaza, he explained.

Haniyeh, A-Zahar and others went into hiding during the operation as the IDF targeted Hamas leaders and bombed hundreds of the terror group's buildings, weapons caches and tunnels. Among those killed were senior Hamas heads, Nizar Rayyan and Said Siam

 

HAMAS: OBAMA ON THE SAME OLD PATH

Jan 23/09.  President Barack Obama addressed both Israel’s Hamas’ demands, saying his administration supported implementation of a "credible" system for stopping smuggling and calling for Gaza's borders to be opened for aid shipments, with "appropriate monitoring." He said Hamas must stop attacking Israel.

Hamas criticized Obama's comments, saying his approach will bring the U.S. failure in the region. "Obama is still on the same path as previous leaders and also will make the same mistakes as Bush that ignited the region instead of bringing stability," Osama Hamdan, the Hamas spokesman in Beirut, Lebanon, told Al-Jazeera television.

 

  FIVE BOGUS CRITICISMS OF ISRAEL

By Professor Bradley Ruffle -- Beer Sheva, Israel

Jan 22/09. In the war between Israel and Hamas, the battle for the hearts and minds of the world ought to be a slam-dunk victory for Israel. A free, multicultural, liberal society is pitted against a radical Islamic terrorist group bent on the extermination of all those who oppose their jihadist vision. And yet, the world condemns the modern liberal democracy of Israel and embraces the terrorists' intolerance and death culture, much like it did when Israel fought the Hezbollah terrorist group in 2006.

So, why do the world's sympathies lie overwhelmingly with the Palestinians?

This excellent article>

http://www.onejerusalem.org/2009/01/five-bogus-criticisms-of-israe.php

 

EGYPT TO HAMAS: FINISH DEAL NOW

Jan 26/09. The Hamas terrorist organization has been warned by Egypt to accept a ceasefire proposal from Israel's current government before the sands of time run out on Israel Elections day, February 10.

 

According to a report in the Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat, Egyptian officials have warned Hamas it is likely that the Likud, headed by MK Binyamin Netanyahu, will lead the next government, and such a government would be unlikely to offer concessions as far-reaching as those currently on the table, which Egypt considers Hamas's "last opportunity for a good deal."

An Israeli proposal was presented by Defense Ministry director of diplomatic security Amos Gilad.  It offers a, a complete opening of the crossings into Gaza, and the release of 1,050 Palestinian Authority terrorists in exchange for a 10-year ceasefire and the freedom of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. 

But Hamas flatly rejected Speaking from Gaza, spokesman Ismail Radwan told reporters that such a long truce would "kill the resistance, which is the Palestinian people's legitimate right as long as the occupation continues to exist."  - Arutz Sheva

Earlier there was an Israeli proposal for an 18-month truce with a partial opening of the border. Hamas has offered Israel a one-year truce in Gaza.

Israelis believe a one-year truce would be used in the same way as the last 6-month truce – an uninterrupted time to build up armaments.

 

EU CALLS FOR PALESTINIAN UNITY GOVERNMENT

Jan 26/09. The European Union has called for the divided Palestinian leadership to unite to support the opening of border crossings to allow humanitarian aid and other goods into the Gaza Strip.

"We believe that Palestinian reconciliation behind president Mahmud Abbas is fundamental to progress," Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg told reporters after the meeting. Prague currently holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency.

Foreign ministers from the 27-state bloc held discussions with Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Turkey.

EU member states have said they will aid efforts to halt arms trafficking via Egypt by relaunching and strengthening its monitoring presence at the Rafah border crossing, while France, Germany and the UK have offered to send naval patrols to guard against weapons shipments.

"The reunification of the Palestinian people with a single voice to speak to them, to speak for the West Bank and for Gaza is absolutely essential," UK foreign secretary David Miliband said after the meeting.

Governance of the two occupied Palestinian territories has been split between Islamist Hamas and its secular rival Fatah since June 2007.

The Fatah-controlled Palestinian National Authority welcomed what it sees as EU endorsement of its leadership.

Israel is permitting the delivery of some food and medicine, but rejects a full opening of the border at the moment. Around 125 trucks are allowed into the territory per day, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The International Crisis Group also said ending the blockade was key to moving forward. "Any continuation of the blockade would constitute a breach of international law," said Alain Deletroz of the ICG at a press conference. "Europeans should be leading. Obama hasn't sent any strong message yet, which leaves Europe to take the lead - if it wants it."

http://euobserver.com/9/27474/?rk=1

EGYPT EVACUATES RAFAH AREA, FEARING IAF STRIKE ON GAZA

Jan 26/09.  Egyptian authorities have evacuated the Rafah border crossing into the
Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, acting on reports of a possible Israeli air strike on the Palestinian side of the crossing, Egyptian security sources said.

Security sources and witnesses speaking on condition of anonymity said authorities had carried out a sudden and rapid evacuation of the crossing area, removing staff and ambulances from the vicinity of the gates that control access to the crossing.

Flights by Israel Air Force F-16s over Gaza on Sunday sparked fears in the coastal territory that a new Israeli military offensive was underway.

A number of banks, government offices and schools in Gaza were closed as the warplanes flew through the Hamas-ruled Strip's skies. Shops were also closed in the center of Gaza City, and Gaza residents left the streets for the safety of their homes.

BLOOD FEUD BUILDING BETWEEN HAMAS & FATAH:

“THERE WILL BE VIOLENCE”

Jan 26/09. The Palestinian Authority sees the Hamas regime facing an uprising in the Gaza Strip. Officials said PA intelligence has determined that the thousands of Palestinians whose homes were destroyed or damaged in the Gaza Strip would demand immediate compensation from the Hamas regime. They said unfulfilled demands could quickly turn into a revolt against Hamas.

"Right now, the people are in shock, but wait 10 days and you will see demands from Hamas for money for their destroyed homes and property," a PA intelligence official said. The PA intelligence assessment asserted that within weeks Fatah-aligned and other clans would launch attacks on Hamas officials. The assessment said Hamas has been preparing for a backlash.

"There will be violence; this is clear," another intelligence official said

A likely source of the anti-Hamas unrest was expected to stem from Fatah-aligned clans, such as Dughmoush and Masri, officials said. In 2007 and 2008, Dughmoush fought Hamas squads throughout Gaza City.

The officials said the Hamas regime has already launched a massive crackdown on the Fatah opposition in the Gaza Strip. They said Fatah was accused of collaborating with Israel, particularly in tracking leading members of Hamas's military. They included Hamas Interior Minister Said Siyam, killed on Jan. 17.

So far, about 300 Fatah members were said to have been arrested in the Gaza Strip since Jan. 17. Officials said many of them were being tortured and killed in schools, hospitals and mosques.

www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/WTARC/2009/me_palestinians0056_01_20.asp

 

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SHOWDOWN IN GAZA UPDATES (4) -  23 January 09

 

ISRAELI CLAIM: IRAN ELITE FORCES KILLED IN GAZA WAR

Jan 21/09. TEL AVIV — Israel's military killed several Iranian military advisers deployed in the Gaza Strip, sources said

The Israeli sources said the military killed an unspecified number of advisers from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps during the 22-day war with Hamas, which ended on Jan. 18. They said the IRGC officers helped the Hamas regime and Islamic Jihad fire BM-21 Grad rockets from urban areas.

"We believe there were dozens of IRGC personnel in the Gaza Strip during the war," an Israeli source said. "Some were killed; others went into hiding, and others escaped."

More from world tribune article>

http://www.worthynews.com/top/worldtribune-com-worldtribune-WTARC-2009-me_iran0060_01_21-asp/

 

HAMAS, IRAN AND HIZB’ULLAH MAKE OUTRAGEOUS CLAIMS

Jan 21/09.  After Israeli troops pulled out of Gaza, Hamas gunmen were waving flags on the top of massive ruins, claiming victory over Israel, and broadcast figures that were detached from any reality on the ground.

At a Hamas news conference held on Jan 19, a spokesman for the Al-Kassam Brigades "conservatively estimated" that the terror group killed up to 80 Israeli soldiers while it lost only 48 of its own fighters.

The spokesman, known as Abu Obeida, further claimed that Hamas destroyed or incapacitated 47 IDF tanks and bulldozers, hit four helicopters and shot down one unmanned drone plane. He said that the terrorists took several soldiers captive during Israel's ground offensive, but the Israeli response was to call in air strikes that "always deliberately targeted" the Hamas abductors along with their hostages.

Iran and Hizb’ullah joined Hamas in painting an outrageous picture of victory.

An Iran-based website serving the Lebanese Hizb’ullah terrorist organization was more outrageous than Hamas in its claims. Moqavemat told its readers that 225 Israelis were killed - 203 soldiers and 22 civilians, and several thousand Israelis were injured during the war.  – source: Sheva Arutz

 

CASUALTIES

Health officials in Hamas-controlled Gaza say at least 1,300 Palestinians have been killed and 5,100 wounded since Israel launched Operation Cast Lead on 27 December.   (These figures are refuted by a doctor in Gaza – see next item)

Thirteen Israelis died in the three weeks. Three were civilians; five soldiers were lost  to enemy fire, while five others died from (accidental) “friendly fire.” 233 Israeli soldiers were wounded, the Israeli army says.  Many Israelis civilians were injured from rocket attacks, and thousands were traumatised.

 

HAMAS INFLATES DEATH TOLL

The Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra (Jan 22/09) quoted a doctor at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City saying that, despite Hamas and UN claims, most of those killed in Gaza were young men who were members of terror groups.

"The number of deaths was between 500 and 600...most were young men between 17 and 23 who were recruited into the ranks of Hamas, which sent them to be slaughtered," he said.

Journalist Lorenzo Cremonesi confirmed that only 600 people were killed, and not 1,300 as was widely reported, based on hospital visits and discussions with families of the victims.

"It was strange that the non-governmental organizations, including Western ones, repeated the number without checking, but the truth will come to light in the end," said the doctor. It's like what happened in Jenin in 2002," he said. "At the beginning they spoke of 1,500 dead; afterwards it was clear there were only 54 dead, at least 45 of them fighters." 

 

OBAMA FIRST CALLS MAHMOUD ABBAS

Jan 22/09. President Obama placed the Middle East at the forefront of his first hours in office. In a flurry of telephone calls from the Oval Office, he vowed to engage immediately in pursuit of a permanent Arab-Israeli settlement.

Obama told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that their conversation was his first with a foreign statesman since taking office. Obama also spoke to President Mubarak of Egypt, Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, and King Abdullah of Jordan.

- Times-UK

 

HOW THE JEWS CAN WIN WHEN WE CAN'T WIN

Jan 09. Had the graphic artist at TIME magazine had as his goal to upset the Jews by his cover for the January 19 issue, he couldn't have done a better job. A blue star of David hiding behind a cinderblock wall topped with barbed wire is so evocative of the Holocaust and the old canard (false news report) that the Palestinians are the "victims of the victims" that it has stirred up the Jewish world and elicited accusations that TIME is (and has always been) anti-Semitic.

 

         The bold title across the cover, "Why Israel Can't Win" has further riled a Jewish world intent on doing exactly that in Gaza. But the cover article by Tim McGirk, TIME's Jerusalem bureau chief, has more truth in it than those of us who love Israel would care to admit.

Here is where TIME magazine is wrong. They fail to take into account what I call "the God factor." Jewish history has always been a long shot. The most dramatic proof of that is that I, a Jew, am sitting here in my home in Jerusalem, 2,595 years after my ancestors were banished from here by the Babylonian Empire, 1,939 years after my ancestors were again banished from here by the mighty Roman Empire, after 1,930 years of my ancestors wandering among hostile and often murderous European hosts, 60 years after five well-armed, well-trained Arab armies attacked the nascent Jewish state, and 41 years after Nassar, backed by superior Soviet weaponry, vowed to "drive the Jews into the sea."

The eternal survival of the Jewish people, which was promised by God through the Biblical prophets, is as unlikely as a cluster of grapes, thrown into an erupting volcano then being swept up into a tornado and pounded by a tsunami, surviving intact -- and returning to its original vineyard.

Just think how TIME magazine would have reported on some of the significant events of Jewish history  …..  Read the rest of the article>

http://www.aish.com/jewishissues/jewishsociety/Why_TIME_is_Right7._and_Wrong.asp

 

ISRAEL SPLIT OVER SUCCESS OF WAR IN GAZA 

A day after the last of their country's soldiers pulled out of the Gaza, Israelis are increasingly asking themselves just what they were fighting for.

The offensive enjoyed massive popular support while under way, but with the guns silent, scathing criticism is emerging from both the Left and the Right about the lack of any clear achievement, other than a huge Palestinian death toll and the damage to Israel’s international reputation.

“The soldiers succeeded, but the politicians failed,” said Avigdor Lieberman of the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu Party.

Full article>

www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article5567396.ece

 

COMMENTARY: WHY DOESN'T ANYBODY DARE SAY IT?

ISRAEL DIDN'T LEAVE, IT LOST

Jan 22/09. The first rule of pride is this: When they run you out of town, walk like you're leading the parade. I'll give Israel this: When international pressure got to be too much, Israel left Gaza as if it was Israel's bright idea, "a unilateral ceasefire."

In truth, Israel surrendered. It is "surrender" if you leave with Hamas rockets still flying into Israel, and with Gilad Shalit remaining in his private Auschwitz. Imagine how Shalit was tortured these past three weeks. Imagine being his parents. If this Gaza operation even resembled a success, Israel could have said, OK Hamas, we'll stop devastating your neighborhoods and killing your so-called civilians in exchange for two things: The rockets have to stop, and Shalit comes home.

Read more>  http://www.JewishWorldReview.com

 

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SHOWDOWN IN GAZA UPDATES (3) -  22 January 09

 

COMMENTARY: THE MEANING OF THE GAZA WAR

The Gaza war rendered an Israeli-Palestinian two-state peace agreement more difficult and more distant. And it probably changed the incoming American president's order of priorities in ways the government of Israel - both this one and the next one - will have to adjust to quickly and flexibly.

The Israel-Arab related issues that Barack Obama will face upon assuming the presidency now begin, unexpectedly, with the ugly unfinished business of Gaza.

There is only a temporary cease-fire in and around Gaza, and the Gaza passages remain closed to all but humanitarian aid.

This war demonstrated that Hamas, even if (hopefully) defanged, is here to stay. Obama, the new leader on the block, is well situated to affect a new departure with regard to engaging Hamas - just as he intends to engage Iran and Syria - and opening the Gaza-Israel passages to commerce, thereby reversing a foolish and counter-productive policy.

The Gaza post-war humanitarian situation, too, will need Obama's attention. As matters currently stand, the provision of western aid - intended not only to help Gazans rebuild but to counter Iranian aid and influence - requires a PLO presence in Gaza, which Hamas may or may not be persuaded to concur with. This issue may dovetail with Egypt's hopes to bring Hamas back into unity government talks with Abbas' PLO. If those talks succeed, they could within the year produce new Palestinian elections that Hamas might win, thereby putting paid to any near-term aspirations to negotiate a two-state solution. Those who speak approvingly of "Palestinian unity" should now beware of what they wish for.

Obama will quickly discover that the war weakened Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). And Israel's Feb. 10 elections are liable to produce a new Israeli government less interested in removing settlements and negotiating a final status agreement than its predecessor or, if interested, no more capable.

Meanwhile, Syria beckons. The prospects for a Syria-Israel peace process weathered this war well; the only casualty may have been Turkish mediation, reflecting the vociferous anti-Israel pose struck during the war by Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan..

Apropos (in regards to) Turkey's performance during this war, Obama now confronts a Middle East even more divided. Egypt, backed by Saudi Arabia and the PLO, cooperated closely with Israel and reestablished its traditional claim to courageous Arab leadership, while Israel reinforced its role as primary regional military power. On the other hand, Qatar and Turkey seemingly sided with the Iran-Syria-Hizballah-Hamas camp and Jordan sat on the fence. Obama's Middle East strategy requires a large measure of regional cooperation; in this regard, his job just became a little harder.

-  by Yossi Alpher – Jerusalem Post. Read full commentary>

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1232292918898&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

 

THE WAY OF THE PHILISTINES – HOW IT WILL END

By Joseph Farah – worldnetdaily

Let me tell you how it ends in Gaza.

It doesn't end with a cease-fire.

It doesn't end with a new breathtaking round of diplomacy.

It doesn't end with new elections and new peace plans or with foreign peacekeeping troops on the ground.

It doesn't end any of those ways  …….

The inevitable path of the suicidal terrorism of Hamas is the destruction of its own people. The handwriting is on the wall. The pride of the Philistines is about to be cut off.

Ironically, in ensuring that no Jews would ever be allowed to live in Gaza in the future, the Arabs sealed their own fate.  

Time's running out for the so-called "Palestinians."  They are about to go the way of the Philistines.

Here's how it ends in Gaza: 

Read this short commentary>

www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=86535

 

HAMAS REASSERTS CONTROL IN GAZA,

ROUNDS UP 'COLLABORATORS' -

Jan 21/09.  The Islamist Palestinian group Hamas said on Wednesday it had begun reasserting control in the Gaza Strip and rounding up suspected collaborators with Israel, drawing accusations from the rival Fatah group that its members were being targeted.

"The internal security service was instructed to track collaborators and hit them hard," said Ehab al-Ghsain, spokesman of the Hamas Interior Ministry, without singling out Fatah members by name.

"They arrested dozens of collaborators who attempted to strike the resistance by giving information to the occupation about the fighters," he said.   

More>  www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1057499.html

 

GAZA SMUGGLING ROUTES OPERATIONAL AGAIN                            

Jan 21/09. Smuggling into Gaza from Egypt is underway again, only days after the end of the IDF operation against Hamas.

AP Television News footage showed Palestinian smugglers filling a fuel truck with petrol that came through a cross-border tunnel from Egypt. The footage also shows workers busy clearing blocked tunnels and bulldozers carrying out other repairs.

One of the stated goals of the IDF offensive was to stop the smuggling through the hundreds of tunnels under the border. The goods coming through have included a steady flow of rockets and other weapons.

Israel has said eighty percent of the smuggling tunnels were destroyed in bombing raids during the IDF's Operation Cast Lead.

 

ARAB LEAGUE SPLIT OVER REBUILDING GAZA

KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Arab leaders failed to agree Tuesday on a plan to rebuild the devastated Gaza Strip and whether to back Egyptian peace efforts to end the crisis at a meeting of the Arab League fraught with divisions.

The deep tensions among rival Arab leaders could affect the fragile cease-fire between Hamas and Israel that ended a three-week Israeli onslaught on the Mediterranean strip. The military campaign to stop militant rocket fire left around 1,300 Palestinians dead, according to Gaza health officials, and material damage estimated at around $2 billion. Thirteen Israelis were also killed.

The violence in Gaza split Arab countries into two camps — one led by Syria and Qatar supporting Hamas hard-liners who rule the territory, and another led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia hoping to lure the Palestinian militant group toward more moderation.

 

COMMENT.  JERRY GOLDEN, ISRAEL

Jan 21/09.  We are praying here in Israel that the UN, EU and USA will not rebuild Hamas but will help us build a peaceful society in Gaza that will realize that Hamas is their enemy as well. 

It has troubled me to see once again that the US has stopped Israel from finishing off its enemy.  I saw it happen in 1982 when the US 6th fleet rescued Arafat and his PLO terrorist in Lebanon and took them to Tunis to regroup and fight another day.  Again I watched as the IDF had to be pulled out of Gaza before finishing the task before them in order not to offend the Obama inauguration.  

It becomes more obvious that the powers to be do not want the enemies of Israel to be destroyed; it is known that these same powers prosper by waging wars around the world, as the motto of the Illuminati is to bring order out of chaos.

 

US-EGYPTIAN RED SEA HUNT FOR

IRANIAN SHIP CARRYING 60 TONS OF ARMS FOR HAMAS

Jan 20/09.  US and Egyptian warships were scouring the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea to waylay an Iranian freighter carrying scores of heavy rockets for delivery to Hamas. DEBKAfile's exclusive sources report they were acting on intelligence that a ship loaded with an estimated 60 tons of arms to replenish Hamas' depleted war stocks had set out from the Iranian Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas on Jan. 17.

Our sources reveal that the arms-smuggling vessel started its voyage as the Iran-Hedayat and changed its name in mid sea to Famagustus registered to Panama. The captain was ordered by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to unload its cargo at a smugglers cove on the southeastern coast of Sinai opposite the Gulf of Suez, to be picked up by armed Bedouin gangs and moved to El Arish in northern Sinai. From there the contraband rockets were to be slipped gradually into the Gaza Strip.

The cargo consists of 50 Fajr rockets whose range is 50-75 km, scores of heavy Grad rockets, new, improved launchers whose angle of fire can be precisely adjusted, tons of high-quality explosives, submachine guns, rifles and pistols and armor-piercing missiles and shells (of types used successfully by Hizb’ullah against Israeli tanks in 2006).

Read the full report>  www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=5867

 

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SHOWDOWN IN GAZA UPDATES (2) -  20 January 09

 

U.S.- ISRAEL SIGN DEAL

Jan 16/09.   In a step toward achieving “guarantees,” Israel won a U.S. commitment to help crack down on weapons smuggling into Egypt and from there, to Gaza.

The "memorandum of understanding" signed in Washington by Condoleezza Rice and Tzipi Livni calls for expanded intelligence cooperation between the US and Israel, as well as other US allies in the Middle East and Europe to prevent Hamas from rearming should Israel agree to a truce. It aimed to boost Egyptian efforts to broker a cease-fire to end fighting in Gaza.

Livni described the deal as "a vital complement for a cessation of hostility" in the troubled region. It was meant "to complement Egyptian actions and to end of the flow of weapons to Gaza."  Egypt's cooperation is essential if the smuggling is to be stopped. But Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that his country would not be bound by the agreement.

The US will provide military and intelligence assets, including detection and surveillance equipment, as well as logistical help and training to Israel, Egypt and other nations in the region. The equipment and training would be used for monitoring Gaza's land and sea borders. The document also calls for the U.S. to expand work with its NATO partners in the effort, particularly in the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and eastern Africa, according to a text.

It also commits Washington to use "relevant components" of the U.S. military to assist Mideast governments in preventing "weapons and explosives flows to Gaza that originate in or transit their territories."

Although signed by the Bush administration, the agreement is binding on the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama and Rice and State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said both Obama and Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton had been briefed on the details.

 

HAMAS DECLARES ITS OWN CEASE-FIRE 

Jan 19/09.  Only hours after its leaders declared that they would continue to fight, Hamas announced on Sunday a one-week cease-fire and issued an ultimatum to Israel to withdraw IDF troops from the Gaza Strip within that time.

Daoud Shihab, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, said that his group would abide by the cease-fire "out of concern for the national interests of the Palestinians and to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered to the people."

Like Hamas, Islamic Jihad also declared "victory" and pointed out that Israel had failed to destroy the "resistance" or topple the Hamas government.  

REJECTS ABBAS AS PA PRESIDENT

Hamas officials expressed outrage over the participation of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the peace summit just held at the Egyptian resort of Sharm.

Faraj al-Ghul, the minister of justice in the Hamas government, said that Abbas was now the former president of the PA and therefore no longer represented the Palestinians. Although his term in office expired earlier this month, Abbas is remaining in office until new Palestinian elections are held..

The Hamas minister said that no Palestinian government would honor an agreement signed by Abbas after his mandate ended on January 9. He added that according to the PA Basic Law, the government of Ismail Haniyeh was the only legitimate body representing the Palestinians.

The minister also called for Abbas to be brought before a Palestinian court, or any other legal forum, on charges of committing "atrocities" against the Palestinians.

– Jerusalem Post

 

WORLD LEADERS DISCUSS GAZA AT SHARM SUMMIT

Jan 18/09.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday hosted the leaders of Germany, Jordan, Italy, Turkey, Britain, Spain and the United Nations at an emergency summit in Sharm el-Sheik. The talks focused on the way ahead now that the fighting in Gaza has, for now, abated.

The plan the European leaders have developed with Egypt provides a $1.6 billion aid package for the Gaza Strip's reconstruction.

The millions of tons of cement and supplies will be shipped to Israeli ports and delivered through the Gaza crossings over a period of years. Israel, they believe, will not be able to refuse to reopen the crossings, thereby bringing its embargo of the Gaza Strip to an end.

UK MAKES 20 MILLION AID PROMISE TO GAZA

Jan 18/09. The British government has pledged to give a further 20m in humanitarian aid to crisis-torn Gaza.  The promise came as international leaders, including Gordon Brown, met in Egypt to discuss the conflict.

 

$2 BILLION ARAB LEAGUE FUND FOR GAZA

Jan 19/07. The Arab League, meeting in Kuwait, is expected to discuss a proposal for a $2bn fund for reconstruction in Gaza. Saudi King Abdullah said his country would donate $1bn.

 

HAMAS CLAIMS GREAT VICTORY

Jan 19/09.  Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, said Israel had "failed to achieve its goals".  In a speech on a  Hamas TV station, he said: "God has granted us a great victory, not for one faction, or party, or area, but for our entire people."

Hamas said it would hold fire for a week to give Israel time to withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip.

A spokesman for Hamas' military wing, Abu Ubaida, said its rocket capabilities had not been affected by the conflict. "We hereby stress that our rockets are being developed and are piling up, and that the enemy will receive more rockets and God willing, our rockets will hit more targets," he said in a news conference broadcast live on Hamas' al-Aqsa TV.  - BBC  Jan 19

 

ROCKETS THREATEN GAZA CEASE-FIRE

18 Jan 18/09. A volley of rockets has been fired into southern Israel from Gaza, hours after a unilateral Israeli ceasefire began.

At least four out of seven rockets landed near the town of Sderot, with no reports of injuries. Israel launched an air strike on Gaza in response.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the latest attacks "again proved that the ceasefire is fragile and it has to be reassessed on a minute-by-minute basis".

Heads of state from across Europe are joining Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and UN chief Ban Ki-moon at the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh for a summit aimed at shoring up the ceasefire.

They will discuss how to make the ceasefire durable and respected by Hamas, how to get aid to Gaza and beginning the process of rebuilding there.

But the BBC's Laura Trevelyan, who is at the resort, says with neither Israel or Hamas attending, there are questions about how much can be achieved and whether this will amount to more than a gigantic photo opportunity by those who want to help resolve the conflict .  - BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/-/1/hi/world/middle_east/7835981.stm

 

IDF sets post-truce response formula for future Hamas attacks

Jan 19/09.  The IDF has created a "price list" based on which it will formulate its response to future Hamas attacks following the implementation of a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, some of the IDF units that participated in Operation Cast Lead pulled out of Gaza ahead of the possibility that the ground offensive would be renewed if Hamas did not cease its rocket attacks. Ehud Olmert said Sunday night that the remaining troops would leave Gaza "quickly" if the truce held.

The IDF plans to give Hamas a day or two to completely stop the attacks and if they continue, the military has received permission from the government to renew ground operations. Under the cease-fire, the IDF will not assassinate senior Hamas leaders who come out of hiding but will renew targeted killings if the rocket attacks continue.  "We will not return to our past policy of restraint," a senior defense official explained. "For every attack there will be a response."

Since the weekend, the IDF has noted increased Hamas efforts to renew the smuggling of arms along the Philadelphi Corridor. The IDF does not plan to take action and believes that increased Egyptian and US involvement can succeed in curbing the illegal flow. "There are already attempts by Hamas to rebuild their capabilities," a security source said. "Hamas has not changed and is still motivated to rearm so if it decides it can attack."

 

NETANYAHU: JOB LEFT UNFINISHED 

Jan 19/09. Likud head MK Binyamin Netanyahu, who is considered likely to lead Israel after the coming elections, said Sunday afternoon that “the IDF has dealt Hamas some very hard blows on the head, but regrettably the job has not been finished.”

"Hamas still controls Gaza and it will continue to smuggle new missiles in through the Philadelphi Route,” he said. “I believe that in the face of Hamas's terror and its Iranian backing, we must show no weakness and we must show a resolute, iron fist, until the enemy is vanquished.” - ArtuzSheva

 

 “HAMAS WILL RESUME ARMS SMUGGLING WITHIN A FEW MONTHS”

Jan 18/09. Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told the Israeli cabinet that Hamas would resume smuggling arms into Gaza within a few months, despite the recent destruction of many tunnels. Diskin said that the Palestinian Islamist group would soon rebuild the tunnels, which were destroyed during Israel's 22-day offensive. 

He said that despite heavy criticism of Israel, Gaza residents are "fiercely criticizing Hamas for the destruction it has brought to Gaza."

Diskin emphasized that there has been mass confusion among the Hamas leadership in both Gaza and Damascus since Israel's announcement of a unilateral cease-fire.

"The confusion stems from the fact that Hamas' stance, in the context of the UN resolution and in the context of the Egyptian initiative, placed the organization in a very problematic position in which it is likely to emerge exposed from all sides."

Diskin added that Hamas suffered a strategic surprise and that it "did not expect that Israel would begin an operation in the lead up to elections, not of such a scope and magnitude and not one in which Israel would send troops deep into Gaza."  He said the IDF's pressure on Gaza City put Hamas in a very difficult situation.

 

ARABS IN DISARRAY

“ARAB WORLD FACING COLLAPSE”

Jan 19/09.  Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Saud al-Feisal and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa warn that the Arab world is on the verge of collapse.

Speaking at a joint press conference they held in Kuwait, the two said that the Arab world faces anarchy and an inner split, which they attribute to two factors: The inter-Palestinian struggle, and the “Israeli aggression and occupation.”

Several recent incidents portray the weakness of Arab unity. 

Last Friday, a gathering of representatives of more than a dozen Arab and Muslim nations was held in Doha. Among the participants were Damascus-based Khaled Mashaal of Hamas and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinajad – but the others were not informed of the participation of these two until after they had already arrived in Doha. Apparently, it was feared that the participation of Mashaal and Ahmedinajad might keep others away.

In addition, a high-ranking French diplomat has been quoted as saying that Syria was more interested in weakening Egypt over the past three weeks than in helping solve the crisis in Gaza. Syria and others accused Egypt of conspiring with Israel in order to attack Gazan Arabs.

The diplomat further said that the Syrian branch of Hamas is more extremist than the Gazan, and that this is related to Syria’s influence over Mashaal.

 

MUBARAK LASHES BACK

Jan 19/09. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs reports that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will take part in an economic summit in Kuwait Monday, but refuses to reconcile with those who attacked Egypt for its stance during the Gaza war. Mubarak refused to take part in the Doha conference.

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, for his part, has postponed his arrival in Kuwait, and it is possible that he will not take part at all.

 

KUWAITIS AGAINST ABBAS

Jan 18/09.  Twenty-one Kuwaiti parliamentarians called for Palestinian Authority Fatah Chairman Mahmoud Abbas not to be invited to the summit. They said that Abbas’s term as president ended on Jan. 9, in accordance with the elections of four years ago, and that a Hamas figure must be invited in his stead.

In response, Fatah legislator Azzam Al-Ahmad said that the Kuwaitis were intervening in an “internal Palestinian issue” and were “recruited by regional powers who wish to weaken the Palestinian people and the Arab nation.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/129497

 

LIEBERMAN: “GAZA IS STILL HAMASTAN”

Jan 18/09. 'Politicians caused offensive to fail by not allowing IDF to seize control over Philadelphi route, Rafah crossing,' Yisrael Beiteinu chairman says. Meretz: Israelis must consider other issues before casting their ballots in upcoming elections.

Cabinet's decision to declare a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza was a mistake, Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman told Ynet Sunday.

"The IDF's operation in Gaza didn’t change a thing, and Hamas is going to get exactly what it needs – including the reopening of the crossings," he said. "Gaza is still Hamastan and serves as an Iranian base

"The operation was very impressive on a military level, but it wasn't translated into political achievements. The politicians caused the offensive to fail; they did not allow the IDF to seize control over the Philadelphi route (Egypt-Gaza border) and the Rafah crossing; this only accentuates the need for a leadership change (in Israel)."

Lieberman continued to say that "it is clear that Hizb’ullah is also gearing up for another round of fighting, and now we have shown it our inability to defeat an organization just two feet away from us (Hamas)."

 

GAZA IS NOT MAJOR CHALLENGE FOR OBAMA

Stratfor Geopolitical Weekly gives this interesting comment:

Jan 20/09.  Candidate Obama said much about what he would do as president; now we will see what President Obama actually does. The most important issue Obama will face will be the economy, something he did not anticipate through most of his campaign. The first hundred days of his presidency thus will revolve around getting a stimulus package passed. But Obama also is now in the great game of global competition — and in that game, presidents rarely get to set the agenda.

The major challenge he faces is not Gaza; the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is not one any US president intervenes in unless he wants to experience pain. As we have explained, that is an intractable conflict to which there is no real solution.

Certainly, Obama will fight being drawn into mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during his first hundred days in office. He undoubtedly will send the obligatory Middle East envoy, who will spend time with all the parties, make suitable speeches and extract meaningless concessions from all sides.

This envoy will establish some sort of process to which everyone will cynically commit, knowing it will go nowhere. Such a mission is not involvement — it is the alternative to involvement, and the reason presidents appoint Middle East envoys. Obama can avoid the Gaza crisis, and he will do so.

The two crises that cannot be avoided are Afghanistan and Russia.

 

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SHOWDOWN IN GAZA UPDATES (1) -  18 January 09

 

HAMAS STILL HAS ABILITY TO LAUNCH WEAPONS

Jan 17/09.  The IDF's working premise is that Hamas still possesses short and long-range rockets. Its ability to launch the weapons it has still exists, even if it has suffered a blow.

 The significant damage caused to Hamas during the operation includes all of the organization's infrastructures, including the smuggling of weapons, the transfer system, the manufacturing and the launching cells. The entire process suffered a heavy blow," said military sources, "but did not crash completely.

Our activity is not aimed at erasing abilities, but at making it clear to Hamas that using these abilities is not worthwhile, and this message seems to have been internalized.

 "Nonetheless, in order to obtain a morale-related achievement, Hamas will try and exert every effort during the last hours before the ceasefire, and we are prepared for that."

 

HAMAS LAYS DOWN CONDITIONS FOR GAZA TRUCE

Jan 16/09.  Hamas is prepared to accept a conditional cease-fire with Israel in the Gaza-Strip starting on Saturday 17th, the al-Sharq al-Awset daily reported today. According to the report, Hamas has set five conditions for the cease-fire:

1. The reciprocal truce would begin on 17th and be followed by the immediate transfer of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

2. The Israel Defense Forces must pull all of its troops out of the coastal territory within the first week of the truce.

3. The flow of trade in and out of the Gaza Strip must be renewed and monitored by observers from Egypt, Europe, and Turkey.

4. The Rafah crossing must be reopened and supervised by Palestinian Authority security forces and international observers, until a Palestinian unity government has been established and can take its place.

5. The truce would be instated for one-year with an option for renewal.

 

EGYPTIAN-PROPOSED TRUCE

Jan 16/09.  Israeli and Western sources say that Jerusalem has rebuffed some of the conditions set forth by Hamas for an Egyptian-proposed truce, including how long it would last and who would manage the border crossings. Jerusalem has expressed its reservations regarding the Islamist group's terms, despite Cairo's apparent promise to crack down on arms smuggling to Gaza - one of Israel's key demands - and Hamas' willingness to accept the offer.

The Egyptian truce proposal, of which Ha’aretz obtained a copy, contains three clauses.

1. Israel and the Palestinians will agree to an immediate, time-limited cease-fire, during which the border crossings will be opened for humanitarian aid and Egypt will lead negotiations on a long-term truce.

2. The long-term truce must include provisions on both border security and an end to the blockade of Gaza.

3. Fatah and Hamas should resume reconciliation talks.

Egyptian officials told Ha’aretz they believe the initial, short-term truce should last a few months, to allow plenty of time for negotiations on the long-term cease-fire.

However, the proposal does not require Israel to withdraw from Gaza during the initial truce, and Hamas has said it will not accept the proposal unless that omission is corrected.

Salah al-Bardawil, who was Hamas' Gazan representative to the talks with Egypt, said his organization demands that Israel completely withdraw within five days of whenever the initial cease-fire takes effect.  

Hamas also insists that the agreement include a deadline by which the border crossings must reopen.  Israel insists that the crossings not be reopened until the smuggling issue is resolved to its satisfaction.

Israel also wants Hamas to agree to an explicit timetable for concluding a deal on kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit and to be more flexible in what it is demanding in exchange for Shalit.  - Ha Aretz

 

GAZA DAMAGE ESTIMATE: $1.4 BILLION

Jan 16/09.  Israel's assault on Gaza's Hamas rulers has destroyed at least $1.4 billion worth of buildings, roads, pipes, power lines and other infrastructure in already impoverished territory, Palestinian surveyors estimate.  - Jerusalem Post

 

EGYPT URGES ISRAEL TO IMPLEMENT UNCONDITIONAL GAZA TRUCE

Jan 17/09.  Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has called on Israel to end its military operations in the Gaza Strip immediately and said his country would call for a meeting on post-war reconstruction in the enclave.

"I call on Israel today to end its military operations immediately. And we call on its leaders to (agree) to an unconditional ceasefire, and I call on them to withdraw all the forces completely from the strip," Mubarak said in a televised address to the nation.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Saturday his country was not commited to the U.S.-Israeli pact to halt arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip, telling reporters "We have no commitment towards this memo whatsoever."

 

ALL ISRAEL'S GOALS IN CAST LEAD HAVE BEEN ATTAINED

Jan 18/09.  PM Ehud Olmert declared Operation Cast Lead a victory last night and threw the ball into Hamas' court, declaring a unilateral cease-fire that suspends the three-week operation. The cease-fire’s future depends on whether Hamas continues to fire on Israel.

Olmert's announcement followed a 3-hour emergency meeting of the 12-member security cabinet that approved the cease-fire by a vote of 7-2.

It was decided that Israel will stop its offensive, but will keep the IDF forces in place, see how Hamas responds, and whether an effective mechanism will be set up on the border to stop smuggling.  If so, then discussions will begin on withdrawing the troops. If not, the operation will continue.

Olmert said the cease-fire would go into effect at 2 a.m. Sunday morning.

In a special address to the nation on Saturday night, Olmert said, "Today, we face you again and can say that the conditions have been created so that our targets, as defined when we launched the operation, have been fully achieved, and more so."

Those goals were defined as stopping the rocket fire on Israel and an end to the arms smuggling into Gaza.

"Hamas was hit hard, both its military capabilities and its governing infrastructure," Olmert said. "Its leaders are in hiding," Olmert said. "Many of its members have been killed. The factories in which its missiles were manufactured have been destroyed. The smuggling routes, through dozens of tunnels, have been bombed. The Hamas' capabilities for conveying weapons within the Gaza Strip have been damaged."

Olmert said that according to the assessments of all the security services, "Hamas' capabilities have been struck a heavy blow, which will harm its ability to rule and its military capabilities for some time."

Olmert stressed that the security cabinet met after he received a phone call from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak describing the Egyptian cease-fire proposal.

"Hamas is not a part of the arrangement we reached," he said. "Terrorist organizations like Hamas have no part in agreements."

Immediately following Olmert's announcement, Hamas fired eight missiles at Israel.

Hamas, meanwhile, said it was not obligated by the unilateral declaration.

"The occupier must halt his fire immediately and withdraw from our land and lift his blockade and open all crossings and we will not accept any one Zionist soldier on our land, regardless of the price it exacts," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.

The return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit was not a condition of the cease-fire, though both Olmert and Barak pledged to continue working unceasingly for his release.  

Read full article from Jerusalem Post>

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1232100163477&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

 

HOW THE GAZA WAR COULD END: THREE SCENARIOS

Jan 16/09.  Pressure is mounting on Israel and Hamas to find a way of ending the war in Gaza. Both sides have responded positively, if tentatively, to Egyptian proposals for a phased truce that would begin with a lull in fighting for a defined period (10 days by some accounts). That interlude would then allow for the brokering of a more comprehensive cease-fire. But each side's goals from any truce remain antagonistic to those of the other, and reaching an agreement that bridges the vast gap between them remains a Herculean diplomatic challenge.

Here are the three most likely scenarios, each with different political consequences for the main players and the future of the conflict:

SCENARIO 1: REGIME CHANGE

Given Israel's long-term goal of ousting Hamas in Gaza, some key military and political leaders have urged that it expand the goals of its current operation, and use its momentum to take control of Gaza City and decapitate Hamas.

SCENARIO 2: LONG-TERM CEASE-FIRE

Israel has insisted that a cease-fire be "sustainable," by ensuring that Hamas is unable to rearm itself. An actual disarming of Hamas' current militias is unlikely without a full-scale reoccupation of Gaza, which would involve tens of thousands more Israeli troops over many months. Anything less will see Hamas continue to be the dominant security presence inside Gaza.

Hamas will claim victory from any truce that results in the crossings being reopened.

Ending the current operation on the basis of a formal long-term truce in Gaza will codify Israeli-Hamas coexistence. That's why Israeli journalist Aluf Benn dubbed the conflict "Gaza's War of Independence," an allusion to the conflict 60 years ago in which Israel established its existence as an intractable political-military fact.

SCENARIO 3: THE GUNS GO SILENT WITHOUT A FORMAL TRUCE

If the offensive cannot deal Hamas a death blow, Israel may see benefit in holding its fire, in line with the first phase of the Egyptian plan but not necessarily concluding a comprehensive cease-fire. It would simply maintain the halt to hostilities and even withdraw its forces on an open-ended basis.

Whichever of these three permutations defines the Gaza outcome, the likelihood is that Operation Cast Lead will not have ended the conflict between Israel and Hamas, but will instead have propelled it into a new phase.

The full TIME article gives an excellent analysis of the option.  Read>

www.news.yahoo.com/s/time/20090116/wl_time/08599187214200 

 

HAMAS INTERIOR MINISTER SAID SIYAM DIES IN IAF STRIKE

Jan 16/09.  The IDF has stepped up pressure on Gaza, killing Hamas Interior Minister Said Siyam, and pushing deep into Gaza City.

Siam, the most senior Hamas political leader killed since Operation Cast Lead began on December 27, died along with his brother Iad, his son, and Gen. Salah Abu Shrakh, head of the Hamas General Security Service. The four were killed by an IAF strike on Iad Siyam's home in Jabalya.

Siyam was the Hamas political echelon's liaison with the group's military wing, Izzadin Kassam, and was responsible for the various security apparatuses in the Strip, including the Hamas police and naval forces. Officials said he was one of the Islamist movement's more radical leaders and was a close associate of its Damascus-based chief Khaled Mashaal.

Siyam was seen as a main architect of the violent Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, when Hamas fighters expelled forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

A Hamas expert in the West Bank said Siyam's death was a "huge loss for Hamas," but he noted that the movement is easily capable of generating new leaders, often more radical than their predecessors.

Six other Hamas operatives were wounded in the air strike in the heart of Gaza City. According to Palestinian reports, Mahmoud Watfa, one of the commanders of Izzadin Kassam, was killed in the attack.

 

HAMAS LEADER KHALED MASHAAL 

Jan 16/09.  Hamas' most powerful official is widely thought to be Khaled Mashaal, the Syrian-based political leader. Mashaal is considered a hard-liner who consults frequently with Syrian and Iranian officials. Top Iranian officials have visited Damascus frequently throughout the Israeli offensive that began on Dec. 27.

Mashaal has repeatedly called for the militant group to fight on despite more than 1,000 deaths during the offensive. Hundreds of those who died are believed to be fighters, but Gaza medical officials say about half of the dead were civilians. RIFT

Mashaal's power lies in the fact that he controls the group's purse strings and funnels money as he chooses — much of it thought to come from Iran — to individual Hamas leaders, inside both Gaza and the West Bank. Gaza Hamas leaders in particular depend almost entirely on outside money because the territory's borders are sealed.

From article - APPARENT IN HAMAS AS FIGHTING INTENSIFIES

www.news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090115/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_hamas_growing_divide;_ylt=Ag.8bmZIiAZjXQCfPrhRAolvaA8F

 

 

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