Today in Palestine! ~ Headlines ~

15th day under attack: death toll in Gaza reaches 811, journalists attacked by army fire
(10 Jan) On Saturday afternoon a new Israeli shelling killed seven civilians from the same family, sources in the Gaza reported. Doctors said that an Israeli missile was fired from an Israeli unmanned drone at a grocery store in the northern Gaza Strip. Doctors added that those killed were from the Abed Rabo family, including Randa Abed Rabo, 45, and her son Soufyian, 27. Earlier Palestinian sources reported that Israeli forces shelled on Saturday at dawn residential areas located in Kahn Younis, Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza Strip and Gaza city and nearby refugee camps in the central Coastal Region. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza reported that the death toll in Gaza due to the Israeli continued attacks on Gaza now stands by Saturday midday at 811, with 3300 injured, among them 500 in critical condition.

Israel drops leaflets warning Gaza residents it will ‘escalate' IDF operation
(10 Jan) The notice says Israel is about to begin a "new phase in the war on terror." It says it will "escalate" an operation that already has killed more than 800 Palestinians.

UN to resume suspended humanitarian aid in Gaza
UN officials said Friday they will resume their suspended humanitarian aid operations in Gaza as soon as possible, based on assurances from the Defense Ministry that aid workers be better protected…UN spokeswoman Michele Montas said the Israeli military told senior UN officials at a high-level meeting at Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv that they deeply regretted the incidents that led the UN to suspend aid deliveries in the Gaza Strip on Thursday.

Norwegian People's Aid car hit by missile; Norwegian foreign ministry calls incident “clear violation of international law”
(10 Jan) The Norwegian aid agency (NPA) reported Saturday that an Israeli drone fired a missile at the car of its aid workers, causing severe damage to surrounding buildings and totaling the vehicle. According to the report the car was “clearly marked with the NPA logo” and officials said it would have been “impossible for the personnel in control of the drone to miss that this was a humanitarian vehicle.” The car was parked near the Ash-Shati Refugee Camp north of Gaza city when the attack occurred, and according to NPA spokesperson Petter Eide there are” no military targets in the area.”

UN: IDF bombed building in Gaza that housed civilians
A UN agency has said Israeli troops evacuated Palestinian civilians to a house in Gaza City , then shelled the building 24 hours later. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs dated the incident to Jan. 4, a day after Israel began its ground offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza . Based on eyewitness testimony, the account added details to an incident previously reported by The Associated Press and an Israeli human rights group. The UN agency said 110 people were in the house and 30 people were killed, far higher figures than in other accounts. It said a Red Cross medical team was blocked from reaching the area until three days later.

IDF denies shooting of UN truck in Gaza that killed relief worker
(10 Jan) The Israel Defense Forces on Saturday denied that Israeli soldiers had shot at a UN aid truck in a convoy headed to a Gaza crossing two days ago. UNRWA had initially accused Israeli troops on a two-week offensive against Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip of shooting at the UN convoy bringing humanitarian aid on Thursday, killing one worker. An Israeli statement issued on Saturday said "the Israeli army did not fire upon the truck," and that those wounded in the shooting were treated at an Israeli hospital. Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for UNRWA, said the agency had not accused Israel of deliberately targeting its personnel. Gunness said the UN had based its account on reports from truck drivers at the scene, who saw an Israeli tank nearby and "were in no doubt they had been fired upon."

Nowhere to run: More than 260 children killed in Gaza
(10 Jan) By Toni O'Loughlin in Jerusalem . Up to one third of the people killed in Gaza are children who have nowhere to run for shelter, according to UN reports. As Israel 's soldiers and tanks have moved from farmland at Gaza 's edge into the broken-down refugee camps and towns of the territory, the child death toll has more than quadrupled. From 60 child deaths in the first eight days of aerial bombardment, the number of children who have been killed now stands at 265. Eight children were killed yesterday as the overall death toll climbed to 800 in an area that is sealed off from the world by Israel's 18-month blockade, and is just 38 miles long and 8 miles wide…Al-Mezan, a Palestinian human rights groups, which is trying to verify the UN's casualty numbers which come from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, says the military is attacking unarmed civilians. Children are also dying because rescue teams and ambulances cannot retrieve them from the wreckage.

Interview. Livni: “Israel is not going to show restraint”
(10 Jan) Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Newsweek-The Post's Lally Weymouth that the conflict in Gaza is not a fight of Israelis against Palestinians but a case in which Israel represents moderates in the region, including the Palestinian Authority. Excerpts:. Q. How do you respond to the pressure for a cease-fire from the international community? A. I don't like the term cease-fire since it looks like an agreement between two legitimate sides. Q. Is Iran behind it all? Oh, yes, clearly. We know that. When they started, the missiles were homemade -- made in the Gaza Strip. But not anymore. Now they are professional, coming from Iran . Do you believe the Obama administration will support Israel the way Bush did? I do believe that the United States and Israel share not only the same values and interests and the same understanding.

A music school silenced in Gaza
(9-11 Jan) By Nadia Hijab. …The school worked out of rented premises in the Palestinian Red Crescent Society building just across the street from the Preventive Security Forces compound in Gaza City . The compound was targeted in the first wave of Israeli bombardments on December 27, and twice more the next day. The five-story building was vaporized; a flat gravel surface is all that remains…That there was such a school at all is astonishing, not just because of the 18 month siege that followed the decades of "de-development" of Gaza under Israeli occupation but also because one might expect it to be contrary to an Islamist social program.

Israeli airstrikes demolish Gaza's International Football Stadium in Rafah
(9 Jan) The facility was the headquarters of the Palestinian Football Association, build partially with funds from the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)'s Goal project, as well as contributions from the French and Saudi Arabian government. The 2.5 million US dollar facility, built in 2002 and opened in 2005, housed the men's and women's football teams. It also housed the technical and administrative center of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA).

Palestinian Water Authority: Israeli bombing could cause repeat of 2007 massive sewage flood
(10 Jan) According to the Authority, water, sanitation, and electricity infrastructure in Gaza have all been shelled by invading Israeli forces. In Rafah, most of the 10 wells serve over 200,000 people are non-functional. The water authority warns that 70% of Rafah residents will not have water after three days. The main water line in central Gaza has been broken, cutting off water to another 30,000 people. Technicians have not been able to reach the area where shelling destroyed the pipeline. A pipeline that normally brings water from the Zemo wells to 800,000 people has also been broken. Meanwhile, according to the PWA, sewage treatment has nearly stopped due to a lack of fuel, and as a result, 40,000 cubic meters of untreated sewage are being pumped into the sea.

Palestinian fighters clash with Israeli troops in northern Gaza; five soldiers dead; projectile fire continues
(10 Jan) Islamic Jihad's Al-Quds fighters attacked Special Forces as they rested in a home in the northern Gaza Strip near the American school. The Brigades statement said fighters used Rocket Propelled Grenades and medium grade weaponry to surprise the soldiers, saying a number were killed during the operation. All Al-Quds fighters were able to flee the scene safely, according to a statement from the group. Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades said they detonated two explosive devices near Israeli soldiers and shot an Israeli soldier with sniper fire on Mount Kashef east of Gaza City …Israeli sources said five soldiers were injured in clashes with Palestinian resistance factions Friday, and there has been no word on how many were injured Saturday..

Hamas claims it hit IAF base 27km from Tel Aviv
(10 Jan) Hamas claimed on Friday that rockets it fired from the Gaza Strip struck the Israel Air Force base in Tel Nof. Hamas' military wing published comments on its Web site and aired statements on its Al-Aqsa television station saying they succeeded in striking their furthest target yet - the base of Tel Nof. Tel Nof is located 27 kilometers from Tel Aviv, between Rehovot and Gedera, and serves as a squadron base for fighter jets and helicopters.

Gaza rocket strikes Ashkelon, injuring 14 Israelis
(10 Jan) After a relatively quiet night [for whom?], Palestinians in Gaza resumed rocket fire on Israel 's southern communities on Saturday. At around 4:30 P.M. , a rocket struck the city of Ashkelon , moderately wounding one person and lightly hurting 13 more. Twenty-three people were treated for shock. Two more rockets hit open areas near Ashkelon , causing no casualties or damage. Two Grad rockets struck Ashdod and another rocket hit an open area in Gan Yavneh. No injuries or damage were reported.

Faulty intelligence as to Hamas' ‘missile capabilities'
(9 Jan) Omar Suleiman (Head of Egyptian Intelligence) traded jabs with his Israeli counterparts as to the source of Hamas' capabilities & weapons smuggling routes. ( Israel says missiles are smuggled through Sinai, whereas Egypt says that missiles are seabound). The reason behind the 'argument' is an Egyptian report based on faulty PA report- (here)that said that Hamas possessed 'only 40 Grad caliber missiles' whereas the rest of the arsenal was 'Mom & Pop' type missiles!

Day by Day – The Israeli attacks on Gaza – Day 15
(10 Jan; with map) The Israeli military says its aircraft attacked more than 40 targets and Israeli troops fought with Hamas militants inside Gaza . Some of the heaviest fighting today occurred on the strategic coastal road north of Gaza City , Palestinian security officials said. Israeli forces moved to within about one mile of the city before pulling back slightly. Total casualties: Palestinian: 800 dead, 3,100 injured Israeli: 13 dead, 62 injured.

Islamic Jihad releases photos showing seized Israeli weapons
(10 Jan) The photos, posted on the group's website, show masked Islamic Jihad fighters displaying what appears to be a rocket launcher stamped with Hebrew writing and a variety of bullets. The Israeli military, contacted by Ma'an, has yet to respond to the photos. The group also claimed to have caused casualties among the Israeli soldiers while attacking them with RPGs and rifles. They said the attack took place near the ruins of the American international school in northern Gaza . They claimed to have shot an Israeli soldier in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza ….

IDF: Whole Hamas battalions wiped out
(10 Jan) By Hanan Greenberg. Is Hamas falling apart? Senior IDF officer says roughly 300 Hamas men killed since army launched ground incursion, whole Hamas battalions wiped out in dozens of clashes with troops over weekend; terror group also hit by wave of desertions, official says – Earlier Saturday, the IDF killed Hamas' rocket chief in the Gaza City area, Amir Mansi…The officer also reported dozens of clashes between IDF troops and Palestinian gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip over the weekend. In one case, an IDF tank was able to avert an attack on a Givati infantry force, he said.,7340,L-3653796,00.html

‘Gaza has been zeroed'
(9 Jan) Sa mi Abdel Shafi, a partner of a management consultancy firm based in Gaza City and media commentator, says what little capacity Gaza had to run its own affairs has been destroyed. We live close to the ministerial buildings, the police headquarters and the presidential compound, which have been hit over and over again. The fact that Israel has attacked Gaza 's civilian institutions, like the attack on the ministries, has destroyed what little capacity we did have to run civil services – such as medical and emergency aid provision. Our private sector had already been annihilated, and the result of this war will be the annihilation of the public sector too.

‘Are we not human?'
(7 Jan) As the death toll from Israel 's war on Gaza continues to climb, Mohammed Ali, an advocacy and media researcher for Oxfam who lives in Gaza City , will be keeping a diary of his feelings and experiences – The air, the sea and the earth in Gaza City are now occupied by the Israeli military. They occupy Gazans' minds, nerves and ears too. In a bid to stop my children twitching, jerking, trembling and waking at every sound of an attack during their few hours of sleep and their many waking hours, I put cotton wool in their ears - it has not worked. I wonder what damage is being done to my children's tiny hearts. Theirs are not as big as mine, they can cope less with the stress that is being put on them.


Israel enters third week of war with attacks on media
(10 Jan) Since midnight Saturday morning Israeli fire has killed 21 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, targeting family homes, media institutions, and factories. Journalist Ala Mortaji died Friday evening from wounds sustained when Israeli tank fire hit his home during an invasion of the Zaitoun district of Gaza City earlier in the day. Mortaji is the third journalist to be killed in the Israeli violence in Gaza …The Jawwhara media tower, home to more than 20 news agencies and production studios, was targeted late Friday night. With the destruction of the towers the offices of the Palestine Media Company, Dubai TV, Al-Alam TV ( Iran ), Turkish satellite television, the Chinese satellite network, the Lebanon Broadcasting Company (LBC) and Kuwait TV were put out of commission.

Journalists see pattern in attacks on Gaza reporters
(10 Jan) Journalists working in the Gaza Strip are seeing a pattern of attacks on media professionals they think may be a deliberate attempt by Israel to muzzle independent reports of the onslaught in Gaza . In addition to an Israeli ban on international journalists entering Gaza in effect since November, there has been a rash of attacks on media in Gaza in the last 24 hours… One Gazan journalist, Akrma As-Satari, an employee of the Iranian Al-Alam TV, one of the outfits in the Jawwhara building, sees a pattern in these attacks, connecting them with attacks on journalists in the field. “The Israelis know for sure that there are media teams, and that there are rescue workers, who go to where there are injured people. They target an area once, then wait, then target it once more,” when journalists and ambulance crews arrive, he told Ma'an. “I think they might be trying to eliminate eyewitnesses,” he said. The bombing of the Jawwhara building raises further questions, since the roof of the building is clearly labeled “Press” and “TV.”

Ban on foreign journalists skews coverage of conflict in Gaza
(10 Jan) By Chris McGreal in Jerusalem . Throughout the two-week bombardment of the Gaza Strip most journalists have been kept out by the Israeli government on the pretext of security. And the Israelis are pleased with the results. Foreign journalists have been forced to report without getting to the detail of what is going on. That meant, at least in the early days of the bombardment, that reporters who would have been in Gaza were instead reporting from Israeli towns and cities under fire from Hamas, and Israeli officials found it easier to get themselves in front of a television camera. An Israeli official told me they were delighted at a BBC TV correspondent broadcasting from Ashkelon in a flak jacket, reinforcing the impression that the Israeli city is a war zone when there is more chance of being hit by a car than a rocket.

Gaza journalists protest Israeli targeting of media personnel and broadcasting centers
(10 Jan) Dozens of Palestinian journalists held a sit-in in front the Gaza City press quarter buildings, one of which was almost totally destroyed Friday night during an Israeli airstrike. The Saturday morning protest condemned the deliberate Israeli attack on press buildings, and the earlier killings of three media personnel in strikes on their homes.

Ma‘an photojournalist shot by new Israeli ammunition while covering protest march
(9 Jan) Khalil Ryash was injured Friday as he documented a protest march in the village of Jayyous east of Qalqiliya. Ryash was shot with a new brand of Israeli ammunition and sustained moderate injuries along with seven others participating in the weekly march. Ryash was transferred to the Dr Darwish Nazzal hospital in Qalqiliya where his condition was described as stable. According to the International Solidarity Movement the new bullets are small and silent when fired. They enter the body when shot from close range, and have been shown to cause serious internal bleeding.

Amira Hass: Ha'aretz editors sensationalized reports on Gaza executions, deepening Hamas-Fatah tension
…The title later applied by her editors, which appeared in the Hebrew print edition of the newspaper, referred to “Hamas exploiting the situation [in Gaza ],” and “eliminating Fatah.” The misinformation in the title sparked rumors of the mass killing of Fatah members across Palestinian communities in the West Bank . This title, Hass said, “minimizes what Israel is doing,” in the Gaza Strip and seems to point to Hamas as a primary enemy to Gazans…."In this article I wanted to stress three things,” she said “(1) That there is fear of collaborators, and I quoted someone saying that this fear is actually justified, of course. (2) There is the conflict with Fatah. And (3) there is a conscious [on the part of the Hamas government] attempt to prevent the collapse of society, for example there was an order not to raise food prices."

MK Tibi demands release of Palestinian journalist Khader Shahin
(9 Jan) An Israeli journalist accused Shahin of violating the law by broadcasting information on the whereabouts of Israeli troops and military strategy half an hour before the war on Gaza began. Shahin, not long after the broadcast ended, came back on air with the Al-Alam (The World) channel to say he had received word that an order for his arrest was given. He surrendered himself to the police, who charged him with spreading state secretes and spying for Iran . Tibi, who is the head of the Arab National Party in Israel said several Israeli broadcasters released the same information at the same time as Shahin was broadcasting, but no one was asking for them to be arrested.

Israel's PR war
(8 Jan) By Gideon Lichfield. It had to happen at some point. The army attacks a civilian building identified as a source of fire; dozens of civilians are killed, and what little sympathy Israel enjoyed in whatever war it's currently fighting evaporates…So why isn't Israel winning the PR war? Partly, of course, it's because the numbers are against it. Six hundred Palestinians dead versus nine Israelis, as of today's figures: There's just no way to make that proportion look pretty. But the deeper reason is this: Israeli hasbara is perpetually trying to answer the wrong question: "Why is this justified?" The question the foreign media really wants answered is invariably not "who's in the right?" but "how will this round of fighting improve the overall situation?" And on that point, Israel never has a convincing argument.

FAIR Media Advisory: The blame game in Gaza
(6 Jan) Erasing Israeli actions to fault only Hamas – The Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip that began in late December have reportedly killed over 500 Palestinians, many of them civilians and children. As is often the case, U.S. corporate media's presentation of the events leading up to this dramatic escalation in violence have laid the blame for the violence mostly with Hamas, whose rocket attacks on Israel are often cited as the cause for the current Israeli attacks. In many media discussions about the events that led to the fighting, emphasis is placed on Hamas' decision in late December to allow a cease-fire agreement with Israel to expire, or the group's failure to adequately suppress rocket attacks into Israel during the cease-fire….

Both sides fight Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the Internet
(7 Jan) Alongside the battles raging in southern Israel , another war is being fought - a virtual one, over the Internet. Israeli and Palestinian propagandas disseminators have learned to make good use of Internet tools such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs. Volunteers work alongside official public-relations entities, presenting their own positions and reporting from the field. Another battle front is the face-off between pro-Palestinian and Israeli hackers, with both sides seeking to inflict damage to the official Web sites of their respective enemy. A few thousand Israeli Web sites have been hacked from a variety of countries including Morocco , Algeria , Lebanon , Iran and Turkey since the operation began in Gaza . The Labor Party's Web site and Debka are among the many Web sites hacked so far. Nor have Israelis remained idle. A variety of campaigns have been launched. One of these is presented on the Web site win-israel-help, which enables surfers to download a file dedicated to creating heavy traffic on Hamas Web sites - forcing them to shut down.… Among other things, Palestinians operate an account on Twitter named GazaNews, which submits reports from the field and directs users to Palestinian propaganda and anti-Israel video clips.

“You can call the Israeli army”
(10 Jan) The Israeli army has spread flyers in the air in Gaza that give a number for Palestinians to call to report on Hamas activities.  Here is the number.  Everyone is invited to call it to protest the war on Gaza instead. From the U.S. , you dial:011-972-2-5839749

Truce prospects

Israel and Hamas ignore UN call for cease-fire
(10 Jan, AP) GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Israeli jets and ground troops hammered at Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip and Islamic militants fired barrages of rockets at southern Israeli cities Friday, ignoring a U.N. resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire after two weeks of combat. The Israeli prime minister's office said the U.N. action was not practical, and senior Cabinet ministers decided to press on with the offensive. Israel will stop only when it succeeds in ending rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled territory, the government said. Hopes that Thursday night's U.N. Security Council resolution would end Gaza 's worst fighting in decades were further tempered by dismissive remarks from Hamas, angry that it was not consulted during exhaustive diplomatic efforts at the world body.

Hamas delegation leaves for Cairo to discuss Egyptian initiative
(9 Jan) The delegation included Ayman Taha, Jamal Abu Hashem and Salah Al-Bardawil from Gaza , who left via the Rafah crossing Friday afternoon. Imad Al-A'lami and Mohammad Naser traveled from Damascus to Cairo as representatives from the Hamas leaders in exile.

Abbas: Israel responsible for ‘waterfall of blood' if it rejects Gaza truce
(10 Jan) Abbas is in Cairo Saturday for talks with Egyptian officials on a truce to end the fighting in the Gaza Strip, now in its 15th day. In a news conference Saturday in Cairo after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Mahmoud Abbas also stressed that there was no time to waste in ending the bloodshed in Gaza , home to 1.4 million people. "If any party does not accept it (the truce), regrettably it will be the one bearing the responsibility, and if Israel doesn't want to accept, it will take the responsibility of perpetuating a waterfall of blood," Abbas said.

Gaza: International plan to bring back Fatah
(10 Jan) By James Bone in NY and Martin Fletcher in Sderot. A plan to create a new foothold in Gaza for the Palestinian Authority and to bring in international monitors was being drawn up by diplomats yesterday as a UN ceasefire call was dismissed by both sides. The plan would allow a return of the authority, led by the secular Fatah faction, to the territory 18 months after it was expelled by the Islamist Hamas. Diplomats are considering taking a triangle at the southern end of Gaza , including the Rafah crossing to Egypt and the Kerem Shalom crossing to Israel , to be policed by Turkish and French military monitors to stop arms smuggling into Gaza . The zone would nominally be controlled by the authority, the internationally recognised Government. Such a plan would allow the crossings to reopen for the first time since Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007. The plan is being negotiated as part of the Egyptian peace initiative, announced by President Mubarak after talks with President Sarkozy of France , which calls for an immediate ceasefire to be followed by talks on securing the Gaza-Egypt border and reopening the crossings.

Egypt, Abbas see no foreign force on Gaza border
(10 Jan) CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt and the Palestinian Authority said Saturday they did not envisage any international forces in Egypt or on the Gaza border under a possible truce agreement between Israel and Gaza . Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said Egypt had received no request. "No one has asked for this, and this is a non-issue for us," he said. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, after talks in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, said: "We want an international presence in the Gaza Strip, and not on the Egypt-Gaza border."

Hamas rejects international observers in Gaza
(10 Jan, AP) Damascus , Syria : Palestinian militant groups including Hamas on Saturday rejected deploying international observers or troops in  Gaza . A statement issued by the groups after a meeting attended by Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal also rejected any security arrangement that "infringes on the right of resistance against Israeli occupation."

Al-Manar TV: Abbas no longer heads PA
(9 Jan) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's term in office expires on Friday.
According to Israeli media, Abbas's aides said he has no plans to step down in the near future, claiming that the PA's Basic Law allows him to stay in power for another year. PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad told reporters on Thursday that the law calls for holding presidential and legislative elections simultaneously. And since the legislative elections are due to be held in January 2010, Abbas is entitled to stay in office for an additional year, he explained. Abbas was elected in January 2005 to a four-year term. Hamas officials said that as of Friday they would not recognize Abbas's status as president of the PA. But they also made it clear that they would not demand his resignation for now "because of the war" in the Gaza Strip.

PA chief of staff: Abbas remains legitimate Palestinian leader; talks in Cairo show progress
(10 Jan) Chief of Staff for the Palestinian Authority Dr Rafiq Al-Husseini announced Saturday that Mahmoud Abbas will remain in his role as Palestinian President until legislative and presidential elections are held. Those with complaints about the situation, said Al-Huseini, can challenge the decision in the Palestinian High Court of Justice and file a complaint. He added that under the current situation in Gaza , now was not an appropriate time to address the issue of the legitimacy of Abbas' term.

Meanwhile in the West Bank , Israel

Don't forget the West Bank
By Dror Etkes. The world's attention is focused on Gaza right now, with protesters, diplomats, politicians and journalists almost completely attuned to that small strip of land. According to Haaretz, for example, the unblinking eyes of more than 400 foreign correspondents have been reporting from alongside the Gaza-Israel border for over a week now, 24 hours a day. It is precisely at such times - when reporters, foreign leaders and the Israeli security apparatus are distracted - that the most destructive events tend to happen in the West Bank , the other Palestinian entity, where Israeli rule and Palestinian life are more consistently intermeshed. This is exactly the sort of moment when major expansions in settlement infrastructure are likely to occur, and settler aggressiveness becomes more overt.

Bil'in demonstrators remind the world of the Holocaust
The residents of Bil'in, near Ramallah, gathered in a protest today after the Friday prayer. The protest was joined by Israel and international activists standing in solidarity with Palestinians and opposing the war on Gaza , Israeli settlement building and the construction of the wall. Protesters carried Palestinian flags and the Venezuelan flag, in appreciation of Venezuela 's removal of the Israeli ambassador from his post. The protesters wore clothes similar to those worn by Jews in the fascist concentration camps during the Second World War. Protestors also wore small yellow cut-outs in the shape of Gaza with the word ‘Gazan' written on them to symbolize the yellow ‘Jude' stars of David worn by European Jews during World War II.

West Bank protests over Gaza muted by helplessness
Ramallah, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Palestinians in the occupied West Bank protested on Friday against Israel's full-scale offensive against Gaza, but the demonstrations were divided, short, and relatively muted. The death toll in the two-week onslaught, now 783, has stunned West Bank Palestinians, eclipsing an internal quarrel between those ready to recognise Israel in return for statehood and those, like Gaza's Hamas fighters, who are determined to continue armed resistance. Around 4,000 people protested in Ramallah after the Muslim noon prayer. Supporters of Hamas, the Islamic movement which controls Gaza , said Fatah-dominated police of the Palestinian Authority tried to intimidate them. Police fired tea gas to disperse Hamas supporters in the crowd who taunted them as "Jews" and "collaborators" of Israel . The protest broke up after an hour…In Hebron, 5,000 Palestinians marched in support of Hamas in an area off-limits to Palestinian police. Abbas's security forces had twice in the past banned proposed demonstrations in the part of Hebron they control….

Palestinian leaders affirm the right to demonstrate in reaction to PA police repressing some rallies
(10 Jan) Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and several members of Palestinian political parties held a joint press conference Saturday at the Watan Center for Media in Ramallah, asserting the rights of the Palestinian people to freedom of speech and expression. The comments came following several incidents of Palestinian Authority police repressing demonstrations in Palestinians cities against the Israeli atrocities in Gaza . The repression is seen as an attempt to ensure calm throughout the West Bank as Gaza continues to be bombarded. The Palestinian leaders said in a statement read aloud by PLC member Hanan Ashrawi that national unity in the face of aggression is essential and Palestinians have the right to continue to protest, and organize activities in unity.

Israeli soldiers open fire on stone-throwing demonstrators near Tulkarem
(10 Jan) Stone-throwing Palestinian demonstrators clashed with Israeli soldiers at an Isreali electric fence in the village of Qiffin , north of the West Bank city of Tulkarem . Head of the village council, Sa'eed Hersha, told Ma'an that Israeli forces fired tear gas and live ammunition. He said five young Palestinians suffocated on the gas and were treated by medics in the field. The demonstration was one of dozens taking place across the West Bank in response to the Israeli war on Gaza .

Jews, Arabs hold peace rally; Arab, Druze pro-Palestinian protests held
(10 Jan) Hundreds of Jews and Arabs from the north and center of Israel gathered near Kfar Kara'a on Highway 65 Saturday in a rally for peace. The only sign present at the demonstration read "Hand in hand – neighbors for peace". Those present stressed that they were not for or against the military operation in Gaza . "The political views remain on the sidelines," Guy explained. "We the people want to continue to live side by side in friendship and harmony and not to open up another front inside Israel ." Meanwhile, two pro-Palestinian protests were held in the north on Saturday, one in the Galilee village of Araba and the other in the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights . In the latter rally,  participants waved Palestinian flags in support of the people of Gaza . It was the first such protest by the Druze population of Israel since the military operation was launched two weeks ago.,7340,L-3653776,00.html

Settlers shoot at village homes; Israeli troops overrun village and surround mosque
(9 Jan) Israeli soldiers invaded the village of Kfar Qaddum north east of Qalqiliya after a group of Israeli settlers entered the village and shot at several homes in the area. Eyewitnesses said a massive number of Israeli soldiers overran the village and surrounded its mosque preventing residents from entering it. Witnesses added that they heard soldiers talking about a settler who was inside the mosque in a bid to commit some sort of crime while inside.

Ax-wielding Palestinian yelled “God is great!” then wounded two Israelis
(10 Jan) Police in Rehovot on Friday arrested an axe-wielding Palestinian who injured two passersby in the city by striking them with the weapon while chanting "God is great" in Arabic. An initial investigation revealed that the Palestinian assailant, who is a resident of the West Bank town of Jenin , was seeking to avenge the death of a friend who was apparently killed during the IDF offensive in the Gaza Strip. Police are trying to determine how the Palestinian was able to reach Rehovot from Jenin.

Unidentified gunmen kill 13-year-old schoolboy near Nablus
(10 Jan) Security sources confirmed the death of 13-year-old Jamal Khairy Mussalam as he walked home after school.


ISM Palestine's Photostream

In Pictures: Gaza crisis enters third week


Tens of thousands join London Gaza protest
(10 Jan) Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets of London today in the biggest public protest yet in Britain against the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

Europe: Mass protests against Gaza war
(10 Jan) Protesters have staged rallies around the world to voice their anger as the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip entered a third week. Thousands of protesters marched on the Israeli embassy in Britain , while others took to the streets of  Germany , France , Lebanon , Australia  and the West Bank . Tens of thousands of people chanting "We are all Palestinians" joined a protest in the French capital Paris . "We want to point to the hypocrisy of an international community which votes for tons of resolutions that it never enforces," Olivier Besancenot, leader of France 's Revolutionary Communist League, said. Elsewhere in France , pro-Palestinian rallies were held in Lille , Grenoble , Nice and Toulouse ….

Muslim world expresses anger at Gaza assault
(9 Jan) ALEXANDRIA , Egypt (AFP) – Ten of thousands of Muslims took to the streets Friday from Jakarta to Nouakchott to demonstrate their anger at the Israeli action in Gaza , with the biggest protest taking place in neighbouring Egypt . More than 50,000 Egyptians rallied after Friday prayers to condemn the assault against Hamas as protests, sometimes violent, took place in other parts of the Muslim world.

Danish church working to ensure Gaza hospitals maintain power
(10 Jan) The aid unity with the Danish Church is collecting blood, fuel and medical supplies for Gaza hospitals to ensure the facilities can continue to run despite the Israeli offensive on the area. Head of the Church's Gaza program Omer Majdalawi announced that the church had provided the program with 7000 US dollars to purchase necessary equipment, particularly to buy fuel and generators so Gaza hospitals can continue to be powered. The group also provided daily meals for 1,300 in the Jabalia refugee camp for six days in cooperation with the World Food Programme.

Israeli envoy to Venezuela departs after being expelled by Chavez over Gaza op
(10 Jan) Chavez had given Ambassador Shlomo Cohen and some embassy personnel until Friday to leave the country. Chavez called Cohen's expulsion a "gesture of dignity" in response to Israeli air and ground strikes on Gaza , which have killed at least 777 Palestinians since Dec. 27 - many of them civilians.

Jordan withdraws its ambassador to Israel
(10 Jan) Israeli sources reported on Saturday that Jordan withdrew its ambassador in Israel in protest of the ongoing Israel aggression in the Gaza Strip. The Jordanian move is a temporary measure, and the ambassador was informed to remain in Jordan until the offensive is over.

First ladies plead for peace in Gaza
(10 Jan, AP) Istanbul – First ladies from Middle Eastern countries on Saturday added their voices to international demands that Israel halt attacks on Gaza , withdraw troops and end its blockade. Jordan 's Queen Rania, Syria 's Asma Assad, Sheika Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned of Qatar and Lebanon 's Wafa Suleyman, were joined by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's daughter, Aisha, and the Pakistani prime minister's wife, Fauzia Gilani, at the meeting held at a hotel on the shores of the  Bosporus .

Commentary and analysis

Israel rejected Hamas cease-fire offer in December
(10 Jan) By Gareth Porter. Contrary to Israel's argument that it was forced to launch its air and ground offensive against Gaza in order to stop the firing of rockets into its territory, Hamas proposed in mid-December to return to the original Hamas-Israel cease-fire arrangement, according to a U.S.-based source who has been briefed on the proposal. The proposal to renew the cease-fire was presented by a high-level Hamas delegation to Egyptian Minister of Intelligence Omar Suleiman at a meeting in Cairo Dec. 14. The delegation, said to have included Moussa Abu Marzouk, the second-ranking official in the Hamas political bureau in Damascus , told Suleiman that Hamas was prepared to stop all rocket attacks against Israel if the Israelis would open up the Gaza border crossings and pledge not to launch attacks in Gaza .

Playing into the hands of Hamas
By Bernard Avishai and Sam Bahour. If Hamas thought that lobbing missiles into Israeli civilian neighborhoods was a decent or proportionate response to the grim realities of the occupation, they were wrong. On the other hand, if Israel thinks it can bludgeon the Palestinians into political surrender, or get Hamas - or the Palestinian community at large, for that matter - to acquiesce to military occupation then it, too, is wrong. There is no military solution to this conflict. Until both sides fully grasp this, the world can expect only continuing violence and vendetta, with civilians on both sides paying the price for leaders who - because of pressure, ambition or hubris - feel that they must do the most damage, fire the last shot or make the most credible threat.

The price to be paid
(10 Jan) By Amos Harel. On Wednesday, as foreign emissaries and mediators shuttled across the Middle East , the latest defense establishment assessment was that Hamas was not yet ready for a cease-fire. "They are adamant about ending this war with some sort of political achievement," an Israeli security source said. "Otherwise, the heavy price they paid will be seen to be in vain." The Israeli dilemma is the mirror image of the one faced by Hamas. Israel , too, has paid a steep price. It's true that it has the upper hand in the fighting and has suffered only a fraction of the casualties sustained by the Palestinians … A steep price also remains to be paid in the international arena for the killing and destruction wrought by the Israel Defense Forces in the Gaza Strip, whose full extent will be revealed in its entirety only after the Israeli troops leave.

Gaza Strip tunnels prove daunting for Israel
(10 Jan) Shutting down the network by force has proved difficult, and an underground economy in Egypt may block any diplomatic efforts – Reporting from Washington and Rafah , Egypt -- Some of them are said to be big enough to accommodate railroad cars. They may reach a depth of 60 feet, and are reported to be equipped with cables and electric motors that move food, fuel -- and probably some of the heaviest rockets that Hamas aims at Israel . They also are one of the main reasons fighting is continuing in the Gaza Strip.,0,4693452.story

The time of the righteous
By Gideon Levy. Alongside all this, rings another voice, perhaps the worst of all. This is the voice of the righteous and the hypocritical. My colleague, Ari Shavit, seems to be their eloquent spokesman. This week, Shavit wrote here ( “Israel must double, triple, quadruple its medical aid to Gaza”Haaretz, January 7): "The Israeli offensive in Gaza is justified ... Only an immediate and generous humanitarian initiative will prove that even during the brutal warfare that has been forced on us, we remember that there are human beings on the other side." … Anyone who justifies this war also justifies all its crimes.

Israel's onslaught on Gaza: criminal, for sure; but also stupid
(9-11 Jan) By Alexander Cockburn. In contrast to the grim forecasts of many fine contributors to this site over the past days, your CounterPunch editors have been inclined to take the view that Israel's onslaught on Gaza, appalling though the carnage has been, is not only a crime but a blunder, like the attack on Lebanon in 2006, which demonstrated Israel's military weakness, and the corruption of its armed forces after long years of bravely tormenting unarmed Palestinian peasants at check points, sawing down their olive groves and crushing their homes with bulldozers and high explosive…Excerpt from interview with Khalid Mesha`l: But since '82, 26 years ago, Israelis has not won any war. They did not defeat the Palestinian resistance, and they did not defeat the Lebanese resistance. Since that time, Israel has not expanded but has contracted. They have withdrawn from southern Lebanon and from Gaza . These are indicators that the future is not favorable to Israel . Then today Israel , with all its military capabilities – conventional and unconventional – are not enough to guarantee Israel 's security. Today, with all these capabilities, they can't stop a simple rocket from being launched from Gaza .

Twilight Zone / A different drummer
By Gideon Levy. ..In fact, the furious responses to every scrap of criticism give rise to the suspicion that perhaps some Israelis know deep within their desensitized hearts that something terrible is burning beneath their feet, that a vast conflagration is threatening to burst through the thick, stupefying, contorting and obfuscating fog that covers them. Maybe we are not as right as everyone promises us morning and night, maybe something horrific is happening in front of our wide-shut eyes. If Israelis were so sure of the rightness of their cause, why the violent intolerance they display toward everyone who tries to make a different case?

The war in Gaza: Egypt to pull the chestnuts out of the fire
(9 Jan) By Yacov Ben Efrat. Israel cannot do without Hamas, which rules the Strip, and Hamas cannot do without Israel , which controls the passages, i.e. controls the water, electricity, flour and every kilogram of goods that enters or leaves. This mutual dependence puts them in need of a mediator acceptable to both sides. Until now Egypt has performed the function….Yet Egypt is no disinterested mediator where Gaza is concerned. Ever since Hamas expelled Fatah and took control over Gaza in June 2007, Egyptian and Israeli interests have coincided at certain points. In combating Israel and Fatah, Hamas is of no major bother to Egypt . The thing that Egypt can't stand, however, is Hamas's role as an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood, which in Egypt forms the principal opposition to the Mubarak regime.

Criticism of Israeli war crimes mounts
(10 Jan) By Jonathan Cook. Criticism by international watchdog groups over the increasing death toll in Gaza mounted this week as the first legal actions inside Israel were launched accusing the army of intentionally harming the enclave's civilian population. The petitions – over attacks on medical personnel and the shelling of United Nations schools in Gaza – follow statements by senior Israeli commanders that they have been using heavy firepower to protect soldiers during their advance on built-up areas. “We are very violent,” one told Israeli media. There is also growing evidence that Israeli forces have been firing phosphorus shells over densely populated areas in a move that risks violating international law by inflicting burns on civilians.

Does the world have the appetite to prosecute Israel for war crimes in Gaza?
(10 Jan) By Peter Beaumont. I srael is facing demands for an inquiry into allegations of serious breaches of humanitarian law – but history shows the chances of a successful prosecution are low

Haaretz editorial: Just get out
(9 Jan) The difference in opinion in the cabinet over the timing of the departure from the Gaza Strip and the cease-fire is the sort of luxury Israel cannot permit itself at this time. Lessons of the past suggest that the more the wheels of the war machine sink into the Gaza mud (like in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip in previous instances), the more the Israel Defense Forces will get drawn into operations that cause more and more deaths of innocent civilians, that expose soldiers to unneeded risk and that undermine an exposure-exhausted home front. On the other hand, the military achievements in the field will make no difference.

Enough. It's time for a boycott of Israel
(10 Jan) By Naomi Klein. It's time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa . Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause - even among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors in Israel . It calls for "the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions" and draws a clear parallel with the anti-apartheid struggle.

The Makings of History / Had the refugees been allowed to return
By Tom Segev. …Despite the esoteric nature of both Rawidowicz and his shelved proposal, they still manage to fire the imagination with the thought of how history would have changed, how the State of Israel would have looked and how the entire Middle East would have looked had Israel permitted the refugees' return. It is a thought that is relevant this week as well… It is hard to know at this stage whether the editors of Israeli newspapers are pleased with their increased sales. But we can already say that there has never been a war conducted here under such a heavy cloud of secrecy, without almost any press coverage. The lack of information about the terrible conditions of Gazans is blatant. Amnesty International and several other human rights organizations, including the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), are offering ongoing information about what is happening in Gaza on a special Web site:

Ordinary Arabs fume over Israeli invasion
(10 Jan) As the war in Gaza burned through its 14th day, Arab governments have felt their legitimacy challenged with an uncommon virulence. With each passing day, and each Palestinian death, the popularity of Hamas and other radical movements has ratcheted higher on the Arab street, while the standing of Arab leaders has suffered. Nowhere in the Arab world is the gap between the street and the government so wide as here in Egypt, which has a peace treaty with Israel and has refused to allow free passage of goods and people through its border with Gaza, a decision that has been attacked by Islamic and Arab leaders and proved deeply troubling to many Egyptians.

US seeks to ship hundreds of tons of arms to Israel
(10 Jan) The United States is seeking to hire a merchant ship to deliver hundreds of tons of arms to Israel from Greece later this month, tender documents seen by Reuters show. A "hazardous material" designation on the manifest mentions explosive substances and detonators, but no other details were given…The tender for the vessel follows the hiring of a commercial ship to carry a much larger consignment of ordnance in December from the United States to Israel ahead of air strikes in the Gaza Strip.

US says arms shipment to Israel not linked to Gaza
(10 Jan, Reuters) A Pentagon spokesman said the ammunition was for a U.S. stockpile in Israel . The U.S. military pre-positions stockpiles in some countries in case it needs supplies at short notice.

Obama aide denies report he will launch low-level contact with Hamas
(10 Jan) The U.K. newspaper The Guardian reported on Thursday quoted unnamed sources reportedly close to Obama's transition team, who said he has been urged by close advisors to launch low-level contact with Hamas. "The President-elect has repeatedly stated that he believes that Hamas is a terrorist organization dedicated to Israel 's destruction, and that we should not deal with them until they recognize Israel , renounce violence, and abide by past agreements," said Brooke Anderson, chief national security spokesperson for the Obama transition team.

Friday: 12 Iraqis killed, 33 wounded
Excerpt: At least 12 Iraqis were killed and another 33 were wounded on a fairly active prayer day. Across Iraq , tens of thousands of demonstrators again protested against the Israeli operation in Gaza . No Coalition deaths were reported, but the U.S. military asserted its right to hold Iraqi prisoners indefinitely. Meanwhile, PM Maliki assured Iraq that militia members were purged from the national police force.
For further information contact Shadi Fadda

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