Who Should You Be Following For More Information?
Reuters is running a live blog on the conflict. For Twitter accounts check out @acarvin, the senior strategist at NPR who is providing live updates, @JonDonnison, a BBC Gaza and West Bank correspondent who is providing updates on the strikes on Gaza, @pdanahar, the BBC Middle East Bureau Chief, and @LaurenBohn, an Associated Press reporter who covers Israel. You can also check out the Israeli military account, @IDFSpokesman the account of Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades.
On Wednesday, the Israeli Air Force took out a car carrying Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari[AJE], head of the military wing (the Al-Qassam Brigades) of Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that governs the Gaza Strip. Shortly after, the Israeli military started going to town on Gaza, again.
And like that, the Israel Defense Forces took to social media to promo the assassination.[NationalJournal]
The Israel Defense Forces didn’t just kill Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari on Wednesday as he was driving his car down the street in Gaza. They killed him and then instantly posted the strike to YouTube.[wired] Then they tweeted[Twitter] a warning to all of Jabari’s comrades: “We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.” The Jabari hit is part of the biggest assault the IDF has launched in more than three years on Gaza, with more than 20 targets hit[NYTimes]. And it’s being accompanied by one of the most aggressive social media offensives ever launched by any military. Several days before Jabari’s elimination[IDFBlog], the IDF began liveblogging the rocket attacks on southern Israel coming from Gaza. Once “Operation Pillar of Defense” began, the IDF put
up a Facebook page[FB], a Flickr feed, and, of course, a stream of Twitter taunts — all relying on the same white-on-red English-language graphics[Storify]. “Ahmed Jabari: Eliminated,”[Twitter] reads a tweet from 2:21 p.m. Eastern
time on Wednesday.
On day one of the fight between Israel and Hamas, the Israeli Defense Forces executed a top leader of the militant group — and took to Twitter and YouTube to brag about it. On day two, the Palestinian group hit back, launching its most sophisticated rockets and announcing every new barrage[Twitter] on social media.
As Phyllis Bennis points out[The Nation], who appears to be retaliating against whom depends on when you start the clock. Most American media accounts have begun coverage of the latest rounds of violence with a Palestinian attack on Israeli soldiers on November 8. Less noticed in the coverage was that the soldiers were part of an element of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), including four tanks and an armored bulldozer, that was operating inside the Gaza Strip at the time. Exactly what those operations included is still unclear, but the IDF did later say it was “investigating” the death of an 11-year-old boy that day. Within the next three days the Palestinian Center for Human Rights[PCHRGaza] documented the deaths of five more Palestinian civilians, including three children, with 52 other civilians wounded. Most of the casualties were incurred in a single Israeli attack on a playground soccer field. The ensuing two-way violence continued until Egypt was able to mediate a short-lived cease-fire, broken when Israel launched this
Wednesday a substantial aerial attack, including the assassination of a senior Hamas leader, Ahmed Jabari.
Israel's usual strategy might not bring about such decisive results this time. Hamas will find it hard to pull itself back from the brink and start stopping others' rocket fire. Jabari's death has infuriated Hamas' military wing, and whoever replaces him will be just as militant, if not more. Such a leader will press for revenge and warn Hamas' governing arm that his troops might well join rival groups if Hamas throws in the towel. After all, Hamas is trying to be both a resistance movement and a government. In many ways, it has succeeded as a government, establishing law and order and delivering basic services in Gaza. But Hamas must take care not to lose credibility among Palestinians for its willingness to fight -- and die -- in the struggle against Israel. So Hamas has tried to walk a fine line by allowing some attacks -- and, at times, even participating in them -- to maintain its militant street cred while shying away from an all-out assault that would push Israel to repeat Cast Lead.
What is called “formatting” becomes sanitized in English as “retaliation,” part of preparing “international public opinion for an Israeli operation in Gaza,” as the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office explained the pre-attack propaganda blitz.
Here’s how it works.
Haaretz reports that rockets have been fired from the direction of Egypt – that's Egypt – toward the Eshkol Regional Council, east of Gaza. We're awaiting updates on that bulletin report.
A reporter for the Times of London and NPR says Israeli police have confirmed that missiles fired toward Eshkol regional council came from the Sinai peninsula inside Egypt. No casualties were reported. It was the first report since Wednesday of an attack on Israel originating outside Gaza.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan decried Israeli's air strikes on Gaza on Friday as a pre-election stunt and said he would discuss the crisis with Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi in Cairo this weekend.
Under Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK Party, Turkey has sought to use its clout as a rising democratic power in the Muslim world to increase its influence in the Middle East, distancing itself from former ally Israel.
Erdogan said he would speak by phone with U.S. President Barack Obama later on Friday and that Ankara was also seeking talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the prospect of a full Israeli ground invasion.
The United States says it has asked Turkey and Egypt to encourage the Islamist Hamas movement that rules Gaza to cease rocket fire into Israel, but Erdogan laid the blame for the deepening crisis firmly on the Jewish state.
I'm pretty sure most holy documents are big on not recklessly and indiscriminately murdering hundreds and thousands of people and yet both sides seem to not give a shit about that either.
Apologists for Israel's failure in this campaign will try to spin the surprise suffered by Hizbullah to mean defeat.
It is nothing like that. In fact, the surprise of the ferocity and persistence of the Israeli riposte makes even more significant the Hizbullah recovery under extreme pressure and the quality of the defense they mounted.
Claims for Israeli "victory" in the Lebanon campaign continue to puzzle me:
- Strategic Victory? Israel did not force the Lebanese government to carry out the "tasks" that it had in mind for it. It is not disarming Hizbullah. It is not preventing re-supply of Hizbullah.
- Diplomatic Victory? The multinational force is there, but doing little that the Israelis would want. This time the French have brought tanks with them. Do you think it is the Lebanese Army or Hizbullah that inspired that deployment? No. The French have long experience of what the IDF has done with tanks vis a vis UN Forces.
- Operational Level Victory? (campaign level) The Hizbullahis still have a lot of rockets and are still in southern Lebanon where they could start shooting into the Galilee. The Hizbullahis fired more rockets into Israel on the last day of the war than on any previous day. Conclusion: The Israelis did not succeed in stopping rocket fire into Israel.
- Tactical Victory? Where?
Israeli and associated political warfare is trying to spin this set of defeats into victory. Good luck to them.
Let's be absolutely clear on the course of events: the PFLP on saturday attacked an Israeli military jeep patrolling Palestinian territory, wounding 4 soldiers. The IDF responded by shelling Gaza, killing 4 civilians: 20-year-old Matar Abul Ata, 17-year-old Mohammed Harara, 15-year-old Ahmed Harara and 18-year-old Ahmed Dardasawy, and wounding over 30 people. This (and other Israeli attacks) led Palestinian resistance groups to fire rockets into Israel. Over the weekend two more people were killed, apparently militants of Islamic Jihad. Monday Palestinian resistance groups said they would agree to a truce if Israel halted military operations. This led to a significant decrease in rockets fired. Tuesday one more person died of injuries sustained during the attack on saturday. By Monday night Egypt had brokered a truce, until not 24 hours later Shin Bet killed Ahmed Al-Jaabari, the commander of the military wing of Hamas, plus a passenger after firing a missile at their car. Missile firings began anew and Israel started a new assault on Gaza.
Israel responded to an attack on their soldiers in occupied territory by indiscriminately killing civilians. When the Palestinian resistance groups made an attempt at a cease fire, brokered by Egypt, Israel assassinated Hamas' military commander after a truce had been negotiated. Then, after resistance groups started firing missiles again in response, the IDF launched an intense bombardment of Gaza. Among the people killed are a six-year old and an eleven-month old.
Support for Israel is incompatible with Marxism, with Socialism, with Communism, and with being a decent human being. Anyone defending this inexcusable collective punishment of a civilian population for daring to resist occupation should get the fuck out of here and never come back.
e: Tiny mistake: the truce wasn't still being negotiated, it was already concluded. Al Jazeera reports only one missile being fired from Palestine by 0800 GMT.
e2: It previously said "occupied territory" instead of Palestinian territory, clearly Gaza isn't free and is still often invaded by the IDF but it's not technically occupied territory (though Israel decides who/what comes in/goes out and regularly invades Palestinian territory)
Can someone explain how Iran is being tied to this? BBC world service was just asserting "Iranian rocket" fired from hamas this morning. Proof?
Those notorious right-wing backers of Israel at the Guardian are trying to deceive us all: "Fajr-5 missile gives Palestinians rare if short-lived advantage: Use of Iran-developed rocket that can reach Israel's civilian heartland points to scale of arms smuggling into Gaza"
Hours before Hamas strongman Ahmed Jabari was assassinated, he received the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, which included mechanisms for maintaining the cease-fire in the case of a flare-up between Israel and the factions in the Gaza Strip. This, according to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who helped mediate between Israel and Hamas in the deal to release Gilad Shalit and has since...
...the Iranian ship was loaded with radioactive sand from China, and was en route to the Suez Canal...
"The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign-over 95 percent of all the incidents-has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw."
There is some chance that Operation ‘Pillar of Defence’, as the Israelis are calling their current campaign, might become a full-scale war. But even if it does, it will not put an end to Israel’s troubles in Gaza. After all, Israel launched a devastating war against Hamas in the winter of 2008-9 – Operation Cast Lead – and Hamas is still in power and still firing rockets at Israel. In the summer of 2006 Israel went to war against Hizbullah in order to eliminate its missiles and weaken its political position in Lebanon. That offensive failed as well: Hizbullah has far more missiles today than it had in 2006 and its influence in Lebanon is arguably greater than it was in 2006. Pillar of Defence is likely to share a similar fate...
...So what is going on here? At the most basic level, Israel’s actions in Gaza are inextricably bound up with its efforts to create a Greater Israel that stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the endless palaver about a two-state solution, the Palestinians are not going to get their own state, not least because the Netanyahu government is firmly opposed to it. The prime minister and his political allies are deeply committed to making the Occupied Territories a permanent part of Israel. To pull this off, the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza will be forced to live in impoverished enclaves similar to the Bantustans in white-ruled South Africa. Israeli Jews understand this quite well: a recent survey found that 58 per cent of them believe Israel already practises apartheid against the Palestinians.
Israeli scholar Reuven Paz estimates that 90% of Hamas activities revolve around "social, welfare, cultural, and educational activities." Social services include running relief programs and funding schools, orphanages, mosques, healthcare clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues.
Israel has voluntarily returned Arab land conquered in combat. It did so with the Sinai. It did so with Gaza (people seem to forget that Gaza was occupied and returned to the Palestinians in 2005). Israel (ignoring the lunatic fringe with their Greater Israel schemes) has no interest in taking Palestinian land beyond what would guarantee Israeli security. The only reason the occupation of the West Bank continues is because of a security buffer - if the Al-Aqsa Brigade was free to do in the West Bank what Hamas is doing in Gaza, they could shut down half of Israel, rain rockets on Tel Aviv, close Ben Gurion airport. They could literally stop the country from functioning. That's why the IDF is in the West Bank. That's why the settlers are not going anywhere, they're part of that buffer (I profoundly disagree with the way the settler situation is handled in case you're wondering).
It's a way to guarantee that the buffer doesn't easily move nor shrink.
Yes, I guess the definition of terrorism has been a big problem for some, but for me it is clear. For me it isn’t a moral term. In other words, I am not using terrorism to say that this is very bad violence. I see it as a technique of asymmetric warfare where, in order to press your attack against a powerful force that you are too weak to engage directly, you attack a victim who is dependent on your enemy.
By attacking Tel Aviv with its missiles, Hamas has crossed a major red line. No Israeli leader can ignore such an attack. The fact we have elections coming up in Israel makes it more difficult for the government to ignore today’s attack.
Tel Aviv is my city. I live here. It’s my home.
As much as I detest and condemn Hamas’s attack today, I am not sure how a massive ground invasion is going to solve the problem.
At times like this, the same thing always happens: the Israeli military kills and injures large numbers of Palestinians with guided missiles while Palestinians fire a few rockets at Israel and kill and injure a much smaller number. These numbers and the mismatch seem important, as does the question of who broke the truce first. Who was justified in killing innocent people in response to the killing of innocent people? Who is blameworthy, for having killed more innocent people than necessary?
By far the best place to get a real background understanding for Israel’s current war on Gaza is Jerome Slater’s superb analysis[PDF] of the 2008-2009 war, which appears in the current issue of Harvard and MIT’s jointly published journal, International Security. Here are some salient excerpts, which provide the kind of context one doesn’t receive from the American political class or most of the American media. They only capture a few of Slater’s many profound points; those interested should read the whole piece.
In all, 42 Palestinians, including 13 civilians, have been killed, while three Israeli civilians have died. [...] The Israeli military said more than 950 targets have been struck since the operation began.
Surreal story from Eli Birnbaum in Tekoa:
Erev Shabbat in Tekoa (like most places) is a contradiction of tension and relief. This time the arrival of Shabbat was accompanied by warning sirens for a missile attack. Surprise and unbelief “Missiles here in the Judean desert?” Before we can really grasp what was happening, there came the resounding boom of an explosion echoing in the hills reflecting the shock in our faces. The security van careens through the streets calling people to find shelter. Within minutes another siren warning. This time prayers are halted . “Quickly under the shul,” someone commands. Within the confusion we grab our children and grandchildren in our arms and climb down to the open area under the synagogue which affords more protection. We all move quickly in the darkening evening finding space on the floor . I hold one of my grandchildren talking to him softly . He thinks it is a great game. We begin to sing and wait for the next boom.
It was at that moment that my son Pinny’s cell phone rings. As a member of a search and rescue team it is not uncommon for him to get calls even on Shabbat. But this call was different “Shabbat Shalom” . It is a familiar voice with a very distinct accent. “ Pinny, its Muhammad, what do I do? What’s happening? I heard your sirens”. There is real panic in his voice.
At first this may not appear to be an abnormal situation, but Muhammad is an acquaintance/friend who happens to live in the Arab village of Tuqua which the army will only enter in large numbers. Pinny quietly explains that we were being rocketed from Gaza and the best thing he could do is to remain in doors and stay away from windows. Muhammad thanks Pinny profusely apologizes for calling on Shabbat “ Shabbat Shalom Pinny – B’Emet todah!”. So this Friday night , a “Palestinian Arab” called a “Jewish Settler” for help regarding a rocket attack from Gaza – Surreal!
This time, ending the conflict and restoring stability will require a different type of arrangement. The cease-fire agreement should involve other parties and contain additional checks on violence. It will have the best chance of lasting if it is primarily based on an Israeli-Egyptian agreement, supported by the United States and, possibly, by the European Union. It will be up to Hamas to adhere to the terms.
Female broadcaster: What? A missile was launched from our place? From here?
It was launched from here! No, from under our building.
How many? Was the missile that was launched from our place a "Grad"? The missile was launched just now.
It seems it was launched just from underneath the office.
It made a big bang. I thought it was an airstrike but it was a missile.
They launched it from under the office!
...We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.
There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire...
...IF THE government isn’t prepared to go all the way on this, it will mean reoccupying the entire Gaza Strip. Not a few neighborhoods in the suburbs, as with Cast Lead, but the entire Strip, like in Defensive Shield, so that rockets can no longer be fired.
There is no middle path here – either the Gazans and their infrastructure are made to pay the price, or we reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip. Otherwise there will be no decisive victory...
Gilad Sharon, writing in the Jerusalem Post.
By the Israeli army’s own admission, they knew journalists were in the building at which they fired: “We obviously knew there were journalists in the building, so we did not attack other floors in the building. But my advice to journalists visiting Gaza is to stay away from any Hamas position, site or post for their own safety,” army spokesperson Avital Leibovich told the press today (BBC Middle East Bureau Chief Paul Danahar recorded her admission).
According to Protocol 1, Article 79 of the Geneva Convention, it is a war crime to target journalists. Furthermore, to suggest that anyone can “stay away from” anything at all during this relentless assault on tiny, sealed-off Gaza is patently absurd. But to instruct journalists to stay away from the conflict on which it is their job to report points to Israel’s reckless disregard for the public’s right to information and the journalist’s duty to provide it. Israel seems clearly bent on preventing information from getting out of Gaza.
We obviously knew there were journalists in the building, so we did not attack other floors in the building.
Drinky Die wrote: we could look instead at a recent previous ceasefire and notice that the rockets had almost entirely stopped as well until Israel again struck (to stop the rockets?)
For hours panicked neighbors and rescue workers clung to hope of finding survivors. While a bulldozer pulled apart pieces of the collapsed walls, volunteers in orange vests scrambled over the wreckage and searched for signs of life.
In a grim, heart-wrenching scene that played out over 90 minutes, the bodies of four children were pulled out one after another.
Each time they found a body, some of the men would yell excitedly and wave their hands at the bulldozer's driver to stop digging, while others would climb down to retrieve the child. As mobs of onlookers chanted "God is great," a rescue worker would race toward a waiting ambulance with a limp, dust-covered child.
"This is a massacre," shouted a distraught Nasser Dalu, 56, a cousin and neighbor, as he watched his relatives being pulled from debris. "What did these children do?"
Settler states such as America, Australia, or South Africa have common features, common founding myths. There’s always a first, founding-fathers ethnic group — Anglo-Americans or Dutch Germans or, in Israel’s case, European Jews. There is always an indigenous ‘native’ group (considered inferior), and then there’s a third group of subsequent, international migrants (not as good as the founders, but much better than the natives). In Israel, many of those later migrants were Jews from the Middle East, who were disproportionately sent to undeveloped regions on the nation’s ‘periphery’ and who, as a result, remained inevitably weaker in terms of access to power and resources.
It is clear Israel has adjusted its strategy since the last Gaza operation. Cast Lead, as it was called, left more than 1,000 Palestinians dead in just three weeks, bringing strong international condemnation on Israel – most notably in the Goldstone Report, which accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes.
This time around, Israel has been more careful – though some say not careful enough – to avoid civilian casualties. It also has deployed 25,000 volunteers to help with its public relations campaign to explain why no country can be expected to live with the missiles of an Iranian proxy group raining over three million of its citizens’ homes.
But some say it is repeating one mistake it made last time: not having clear goals for the operation beyond the initial 24-hour air strikes on Hamas’s long-range missile stockpiles.
“I am afraid that the Israelis did not have an exit door,” says political scientist Menachem Klein of Bar Ilan University. “The same thing happened in Cast Lead. Cast Lead ended not because Israel preplanned an exit door but because [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak, [Foreign Minister Tzipi] Livni, and [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert could not agree on the targets of the operations and how to finish it.”
Prof. Klein says the cease-fire efforts this time around are unlikely to succeed if Israel doesn’t allow Hamas to walk away from the negotiations with something.
According to the IDF, the death toll in the coastal territory since the operation began has reached 95 people, one-third of them uninvolved in the conflict."
Hamas-run Health Ministry says number of Palestinians killed in Gaza reached 100 on Monday. According to the ministry, the dead include 24 children and 10 women. (Reuters)
The IAF killed senior Islamic Jihad member Ramez Hamez, who was involved in launching long-range missiles toward Israel. The IDF reports it hit three more Jihad operatives: Baha Abu al-Alta, a member of the organization's supreme military council, who was also involved in launching long-range missiles; Tayasir Jabari, also a member of the military council in charge of its operations portfolio; and Khalil Bahatini, also involved in long-range launches. According to the report, the four were hit at the Gaza media center. Antennae and other broadcasting equipment stationed on the roof of the building were also damaged.
From the start of Operation Pillar of Defense, the IDF has attacked more than 1,350 targets in the Gaza Strip, 80 of them on Monday. The Iron Dome system intercepted 324 rockets, 19 on Monday. 1,128 rockets were fired at Israel, with 37 landing in populated areas. 42 rockets were fired Monday at Israel, compared with 230 rockets on Saturday and 156 on Sunday
attack was carried out on senior Islamic Jihad officials
a senior commander in its armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades
The Israelis warned the foreigners to leave this building yesterday because they were going to attack it again."
The child’s death on Friday figured prominently in media coverage after Hisham Kandil, the Egyptian prime minister, was filmed lifting his dead body out of an ambulance. "The boy, the martyr, whose blood is still on my hands and clothes, is something that we cannot keep silent about," he said, before promising to defend the Palestinian people.
But experts from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights who visited the site on Saturday said they believed that the explosion was caused by a Palestinian rocket.
anyone who has spent time covering Egyptian politicians might doubt their ability to elaborately stage a photo op with this degree of precision
A United Nations report released in August 2012 concluded that Gaza may not be “a livable place” by 2020 unless intensive efforts are made to improve infrastructure and services in fields like energy, health, water and sanitation.
Despite some economic growth in 2011, 80 percent of Gaza households receive some form of assistance, according to the report, and 39 percent of the residents live below the poverty line. Unemployment was 29 percent in 2011. The report said many Gazans faced food insecurity, primarily because of poverty rather than a shortage of food.
Israel's Declaration of Independence called for the establishment of a Jewish state with equality of social and political rights, irrespective of religion, race, or sex.
Amendment 9 to the 'Basic Law: The Knesset and the Law of Political Parties', states that a political party "may not participate in the elections if there is in its goals or actions a denial of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, a denial of the democratic nature of the state, or incitement to racism."
Dr. Wahid Abd Al-Magid, the editor of Al-Ahram Weekly's "Arab Strategic Report" predicts that "The Arabs of 1948 (i.e. Arabs who stayed within the bounds of Israel and accepted citizenship) may become a majority in Israel in 2035, and they will certainly be the majority in 2048."
Counting and photographing and tweeting injured children on each side isn’t dialogue. Scoring your own side’s suffering is a powerful way to avoid fixing the real problems, and trust me when I tell you that everyone—absolutely everyone—is suffering and sad and yet being sad is not fixing the problems either.
In a report issued in June this year, ILO warned that the unemployment rate among Palestinians – at 21 per cent – and rising frustration at the stalled Middle East peace process could fuel more desperate measures.
It indicated that future employment is clearly one of the biggest concerns facing Palestinian youth. In 2011, more than 53 per cent of young women and 32.2 per cent of young men aged 15 to 24 were unemployed, with a total of 222,000 jobless people in the occupied Palestinian territory. More than 70 per cent of the population there is under the age of 30.
In Gaza, the unemployment rate is three times the regional average. More than 80 per cent of Gaza’s 1.6 million residents are dependent on international aid, and over 40 per cent live in conditions of poverty.
English Translation of IDF leaflet dropped over Gaza:
To the people Sheik Ahjleen, Tel El Hawar, South of Rimal, Zaytoun area, Shajiah Toroukman and New Shajiah - the IDF is not targeting you, we do not want to harm your families.
For your safety you are requested to evacuate your houses immediately and move towards Gaza City Centre through the following routes:
- Cairo street
- Arabic countries university
- Al Aqsa street
- Um il Laymoun street
- Al Mansura street
- Baghdad street
Once you are in Gaza City you should stay west of Salahaddin, north of Omar Muktar Streets, East of Al Nasser street and south of Al Quds street.
This fight is temporary and the end of it you will all return to your homes.
By following these orders you will not be harmed.
Hamas official said Egyptian mediators had clinched a truce with Israel on Tuesday that would go into effect within hours, but Egypt and Israel said a Gaza ceasefire deal was still up in the air after a week of fighting.
"The talks are still continuing," an Egyptian official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters. He said Cairo was hopeful of an agreement later in the day.
Egypt boasts of making peace in Gaza, after letting in the Iranian missiles that provoked the war.
In 2007, I traveled to Sderot to make a film. Months later, I made it my home—and Gaza my neighbor.
Muhammed Shamalah, commander of Hamas forces in the southern Strip and head of the Hamas militant training programs, was targeted by an Israeli air strike while driving a car clearly labelled “TV”
The Globe & Mail‘s Patrick Martin reports that Palestinians launched rockets at Israel in proximity to Shifa Hospital.
Israel may also have pinned its hopes on the idea that Hamas will simply give up the rocket game in the face of Iron Dome’s impressive batting average. However, If we read Hamas’s strategic intent in launching the rockets as much in domestic as international terms—launching rockets demonstrates resolve in the face of Israeli strength, improving Hamas’s standing vis-à-vis Palestinian political competitors—then where (or whether) the rockets land simply doesn’t matter very much. Given that from 2009 to 2011, over a thousand Palestinian rockets resulted in ten dead Israelis, it’s a good bet that Hamas fires rockets not as part of a slow motion effort at genocide, but rather for these reputational reasons. Most of the rockets won’t do $40,000 worth of damage even if they land in populated areas (although of course a very few will inflict considerably more destruction). Moreover, Hamas may determine that forcing Israel to pay $40,000 to shoot down cheap, ineffective rockets is well worth it’s time and effort, even if 90 percent of the rockets are destroyed on the way down.
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, for the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands.
I would like to have an opinion on this continual bloodletting that didn't sound banal but, goddammit, I'm out of them. I am thoroughly sick of both sides here. Opportunistic cutthroats poke a stick at the region's most powerful military, knowing full well that said military will overreact and that the overreaction will fall most heavily on the civilian population on whose behalf the cutthroats are allegedly acting. Said military reacts right on cue, with all the modern military hardware against which the cutthroats know that they and the people they allegedly represent have no possible defense. Innocent people die. Then more innocent people die. (This, by the way, is how, down through the decades, the IRA went from being a legitimate vehicle of Irish nationalism to being in many places simply a criminal gang.)
The Gaza conflict has highlighted two powerful trends that have emerged from the Arab Spring revolutions. In country after country, democratic elections have elevated Islamist governments that have strived to more accurately reflect the will of the Arab street, and no grievance more inflames Arab public opinion than the Palestinian cause. The fact that those new governments are not only Islamist but weak (or, in the case of the Syrian government-in-waiting, fighting a violent civil war) has also created far more fertile soil and room to maneuver for violent Islamist extremist groups.
The reality, it emerged on Wednesday, is that both sides were facing internal opposition to the proposed ceasefire.
In Israel, according to some reports, a cabinet split saw the defence minister, Ehud Barak, prepared to accept the ceasefire originally on offer while the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, were opposed.
That split, some analysts have speculated, may have as much to do with Israel's internal politics, with an election on the horizon, as the substance of any deal.
On the Palestinian side the argument was even more complicated, pitting factions within Hamas who were happy to accept a ceasefire against hardliners around Mohamed Deif, Hamas's military commander and other groups, who seek an immediate lifting of the blockade and opening of the Rafah border crossing.
In Hamas itself there has been growing competition both between the military side, which has taken increasing prominence, and the political wing, and between Khalid Meshaal, the main leader in exile, and the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniya.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri hailed the explosion.
"Hamas blesses the attack in Tel Aviv and sees it as a natural response to the Israeli massacres...in Gaza," he told Reuters. "Palestinian factions will resort to all means in order to protect our Palestinian civilians in the absence of a world effort to stop the Israeli aggression."
Sweet cakes were handed out in celebration in Gaza's main hospital, which has been inundated with wounded from the round-the-clock Israeli bombing and shelling.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi assumed sweeping powers on Thursday, putting him on a collision course with the judiciary and raising questions about the country's democratic future.
"The president can issue any decision or measure to protect the revolution," according to a decree read out on television by presidential spokesman Yasser Ali.
"The constitutional declarations, decisions and laws issued by the president are final and not subject to appeal."
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian man was killed by stray gunfire as crowds hit the streets of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night to celebrate a ceasefire deal which ended eight days of deadly fighting. [...] Spokesman of Gaza's health ministry, Ashraf al-Qidra, said a man was killed by gunfire and three others wounded. He appealed to citizens not to shoot into the air.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office said Thursday it was looking into a photograph circulating widely on Facebook in which 16 IDF soldiers arranged their uniformed bodies on the sand, to spell out the Hebrew words “Bibi loser” — in a deft physical critique of Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu’s failure to send ground troops into Gaza during the just-ended Operation Pillar of Defense.
Netanyahu gets ‘good’ rating from 38%; chief of staff Gantz’s performance seen as good by 79%
The White House phone log tells part of the tale. Mr. Obama talked with Mr. Morsi three times within 24 hours and six times over the course of several days, an unusual amount of one-on-one time for a president. Mr. Obama told aides he was impressed with the Egyptian leader’s pragmatic confidence. He sensed an engineer’s precision with surprisingly little ideology. Most important, Mr. Obama told aides that he considered Mr. Morsi a straight shooter who delivered on what he promised and did not promise what he could not deliver.
Channel 2 also reported that Egypt’s President Mohammad Morsi rejected an American request to speak to Netanyahu as he mediated the negotiations that on Wednesday brought eight days of conflict between Israel and Hamas to a halt. So firm was Morsi in rejecting the notion of speaking to his Israeli opposite number, the TV report claimed, that the Americans didn’t even bother telling Netanyahu about their attempt to foster direct contact.
Morsi has been hailed by Israeli and American leaders for his “responsible” role in mediating a ceasefire in the conflict. It has also been noted that he publicly uttered the word “Israel” for the first time at a meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week.
How Hamas acquired its 10,000-rocket arsenal
AMANPOUR: But my question is, is there ever a circumstance under which you will recognize Israel's right to exist?
MESHAAL (through translator): [...] I accept a Palestinian state according to 1967 borders with Jerusalem as the capital, with the right to return.
Hamas denied on Thursday that its prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, had expressed support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s effort to upgrade the UN status of a Palestinian state to non-member.
Supporting Abbas’s statehood bid would mean that Hamas is willing to accept a Palestinian state “only” within the pre-1967 lines.
The conflict that ended, for now, in a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel seemed like the latest episode in a periodic showdown. But there was a second, strategic agenda unfolding, according to American and Israeli officials: The exchange was something of a practice run for any future armed confrontation with Iran, featuring improved rockets that can reach Jerusalem and new antimissile systems to counter them.
Hamas official Risheq says deal with Israel to end fighting doesn't include Egyptian commitment to stop flow of weapons into Gaza.
For years, Hamas had been cooperating with Iran and Sudan to improve its ability to strike deep inside Israel.
Gaza-based armed groups tied to Abbas's Fatah party claim they fired 516 rockets at Israel during recent conflict.
In the American and Israeli media, portrayals of Hamas often focus heavily on the group's commitment to eliminating the Jewish state. And certainly any fair study of the group should take into account that goal. Yet for Hamas, the end of Israel is more an ideological starting point than a practical program. And what comes after the starting point is unclear: Hamas has never developed a vision of what a resolution short of total victory might look like, nor has it spelled out an agenda for governing its own constituents, despite all these years in power. In part, that is because Hamas is a diffuse and contested movement, whose competing factions all work toward their own self-interest.
As Israeli airstrikes and naval shells bombarded Gaza this weekend, the world asked the question that perennially frustrates, confuses and enrages so many people across the planet: Why aren’t the Americans hating on Israel more?
That Netanyahu stopped short of a ground war, and gave in to key demands at the Cairo talks, is an indication not only of Egypt’s growing stature, but of Israel’s weakened position. Its relations with Turkey, once its closest ally in the region and the pillar of its ‘doctrine of the periphery’ (a strategy based on alliances with non-Arab states) have deteriorated with the rise of Erdogan and the AKP
In the course of the eight-day aerial bombardment of Gaza by Israel – using drones, F-16s and Apache helicopters – more than 1350 buildings were hit. They included military depots, which are considered legitimate targets under international humanitarian law. But the police stations, TV stations, a local healthcare centre, ministries, road tunnels and a bridge that were also targeted are legally protected as civilian infrastructure. To justify their destruction, Israel argued that ‘they belong to a terrorist entity.’ This is an argument that would render all public buildings and physical infrastructure in the Strip legitimate targets: it is not accepted by international lawyers outside Israel.
There are some people who are willing to ‘support’ Israel, when this is the kind of mindset such support requires. I find it hard to imagine that support will continue for particularly long. In the US, the issue is becoming increasingly partisan: conservatives might unconditionally support Israel, but progressives no longer do.
View Photo Gallery — In Gaza, attempted warning failed to protect civilians: The Israeli Defense Forces often calls the militants whose homes it intends to strike minutes before doing so, a way of minimizing the deaths of any women and children who might be inside. But the phone calls are no guarantee that innocents will be spared.
In negotiating a ceasefire to end the current conflict in Gaza, most of the focus has been on Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), who have launched hundreds of rockets into Israel. But in order for the ceasefire to be sustainable, it must address the role of other, non-Hamas-aligned militants from Gaza and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula who have been involved in the attacks as well.
Haniyeh reassured his audience that while the ceasefire may last “for days or years,” Hamas’s strategic choice remains armed struggle. [...]
The land in question, Haniyeh stressed, is not merely Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem — a subtle reference to PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s recent Channel 2 interview in which he acknowledged all land beyond the Green Line as “Israel” — but rather “Palestine as we know it, whose borders were drawn by our heroes from Ras Al-Naqoura to Rafah and from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River.”
Wars are often defined by their images, and the renewed fighting between Israel and Gaza-based Hamas has already produced three such photographs in as many days. In the first, displayed on the front page of Thursday’s Washington Post, BBC journalist Jihad Misharawi carries the body of his 11-month-old son, killed when a munition landed on his Gaza home. An almost parallel image shows an emergency worker carrying an Israeli infant, bloody but alive, from the scene of a rocket attack that had killed three adults. The third, from Friday, captures Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, in his visit to a Gazan hospital, resting his hand on the head of a boy killed in an airstrike.
Each tells a similar story: a child’s body, struck by a heartless enemy, held by those who must go on. It’s a narrative that speaks to the pain of a grieving people, to the anger at those responsible, and to a determination for the world to bear witness. But the conversations around these photos, and around the stories that they tell, are themselves a microcosm of the distrust and feelings of victimhood that have long plagued the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The old arguments of the Middle East are so entrenched that the photos, for all their emotional power, were almost immediately pressed into the service of one side or another.
During that battle, Weizman writes, "soldiers moved within the city across hundred-meter-long 'overground-tunnels' carved through a dense and contiguous urban fabric." Their movements were thus almost entirely camouflaged, with troop movements hidden from above by virtue of always remaining inside buildings. "Although several thousand soldiers and several hundred Palestinian guerrilla fighters were maneuvering simultaneously in the city," Weizman adds, "they were so 'saturated' within its fabric that very few would have been visible from an aerial perspective at any given moment."
Seven Palestinians who were accused of spying for Israel and publicly executed during the latest assault on Gaza were already in jail when the war started, and several had been held for more than a year. [...]
Taher al-Nunu, a spokesman for the Hamas government, promised a full investigation into the killings, which he described as unlawful.
However senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahhar dismissed criticism from Palestinian human rights groups.
"We will not allow one collaborator to be in Gaza, and let human rights groups say whatever they want. A human has rights if they have honor and not if they are a traitor," he said Saturday.
His family, neighbours and friends believe the notion that he spied for Israel is absurd – and there is much that supports their view, not least that as a prisoner Badawi was under armed guard during last week’s conflict.
Badawi was a member of the Islamist group Jaljalat – Thunder – which takes its inspiration from Al Qaeda and is more hardline than Hamas.
He had been in prison since 2009 when he was arrested on terrorism charges. It was alleged he was one of several fighters planning to launch attacks on Hamas.
Badawi’s family claim that while in prison, he was tortured until he confessed to being a traitor.
In both headline reels there is not a single mention of the Palestinian death toll, or the fact that a family of 10 was massacred amid Israel’s recent round of “surgical strikes,” that journalists have been killed, and residential areas targeted. The revolving photo albums for Operation Pillar of Defence show images exclusively from Israel and diplomatic boardrooms.
The only one taken in Gaza is of a rocket launch.
That is Gaza for most Israelis.
The missile rushing over your head was processed through an Instagram filter just hours previously. As you see it pass out of sight behind the apartment block opposite some young conscript is preparing for video footage of it to be compressed and uploaded to YouTube before the hour is out. By nightfall tonight that explosion which just shook your neighborhood, in one of the most densely populated areas on earth, will have been liked over 8,000 times on Facebook. Welcome to Gaza City.
One explanation for such sentiments is that most Americans take foreign policy cues from political leaders, and no prominent American politician is willing to publicly express sympathy or compassion for Palestinians at the expense of Israel. Since roughly the time of John F. Kennedy, the politically ambitious have understood that expressing a wish for even-handedness between Israel and Palestine would threaten one’s career. Whatever their private views might be, by the time they get to Congress legislators learn that uncritical support for Israel is the “smart” political choice.
Settlement activity’s a divisive issue, even among Israelis. But let’s get one thing clear.
Developing E1 doesn’t divide the West Bank in two. [...]
The Palestinian waistline — between Maale Adumim and the Dead Sea, is roughly 15 km wide. That’s a corridor no different than the Israeli waistline. Indeed, that has never caused a problem of Israeli territorial contiguity.
[Lebanese] TV reported that in some cases, villagers attempted to block UNIFIL vehicles from fleeing the combat zone, demanding that they return and fight. However, current and former UNIFIL officials said that at that point in the conflict, it was out of peacekeepers’ hands. One of former UNIFIL official also explained that he has been in these situations before, and when the opposing sides is determined to shoot each other, there’s nothing UNIFIL force can do. There is also another statement from a former UNIFIL commander concerning about UNIFIL action to preserve neutrality for both sides, he stated that if UNIFIL force intervene to protect IDF, for instance, UNIFIL will be accused by Hizbollah or the people of protecting the Israelis, and collaborating with the enemy. On the other side, if UNIFIL force do the same with the Lebanese, Israel will accuse UNIFIL of collaborating with Hizbollah.
In what would appear to us as one of the darkest moments in Palestinian lived history, a ‘dream-world’ has somehow emerged in the West Bank: a host of commodified desires, semblance of normality, have been constructed atop the debris of political failure and collapse.
Here, new lifestyles, desires, senses of self mingle and collide with a persistent denial of the disasters of Palestine’s current situation.
While it has been noted that one motivation for the Israeli government, in the run-up to elections in January, is to unite voters behind a ‘no choice’ rhetoric, there is a deeper motivation at stake here — to restrict the horizons of political debate, to control what should be regarded as a litmus test for ‘realistic’, ‘moderate’ and ‘reasonable’ voices.
This has happened not only in America and in Britain - but all over the world. And I want to tell the story of how it happened in the Middle East. It is the intertwined story of the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in the Gaza strip and the reactionary right-wing nationalist groups in Israel.
All three groups are driven by an angry, pessimistic vision of the world, of human nature - and the inability of politicians to transform things for the better. It's a fascinating story because it shows how the underlying similarities led those groups to become tightly locked together - helping each other cement their ruthless grip on their people - and freeze out any progressive alternatives.
“We are not giving up any inch of Palestine. It will remain Islamic and Arab for us and nobody else. Jihad and armed resistance is the only way,” Mashaal said, referring to holy war. “We cannot recognize Israel’s legitimacy.” [...]
“From the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river, from north to south, we will not give up any part of Palestine — it is our country, our right and our homeland,” said the Hamas chief.
Leaving Palestinian communities disconnected from infrastructure, declaring large areas as firing zones and destroying cisterns are part of an intentional policy since the early 1970s. Its goal is to leave as few Palestinians as possible in the majority of the West Bank (today's Area C, under Israeli civil and military control), to expedite Jewish settlement and thus make it easier to annex these areas to Israel.
I noticed a poster hanging on an otherwise bare wall. It showed the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem above the slogan, in Arabic, “We will return, oh Aqsa.” I asked his cousin how I should interpret these words. “A war will happen again between the Arabs and the Jews,” he told me matter-of-factly, “and we will regain Jerusalem.”
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