Sunday, January 25, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
The London-based Asharq al-Awsat reported Saturday that Hamas has suggested representatives of the Palestinian Authority be stationed at the Rafah crossing, but that they be residents of Gaza, not the West Bank.
Also on Saturday, Hamas officials laid out some of their conditions for a continuation of the Gaza truce and for the release of captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit.Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha told Asharq Al-Awsat that his group wants European Union and Turkish troops to patrol Gaza's border crossings with Israel
According to the article, Assad told Meshal, currently in exile in Damascus, that the Palestinian peoples' response to Israel Defense Forces operation "Cast Lead" was evidence of their "commitment to their inalienable rights to their land and homes, and of their deep faith in their ultimate victory over occupation and aggression."
The delegation reportedly told Syrian officials that Syria is the first stop in a tour of countries in the Middle East in order to "express their gratitude to them for standing by the Palestinian people during the aggression."
An Egyptian official has said that Israel achieved all of its military objectives during "Operation Cast Lead" in the Gaza Strip, having exacted serious blows to Hamas and it's infrastructure, according to an article published in the Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat on Saturday.
The official is quoted in the article as saying that senior Hamas leaders are still in hiding out of fear of Israel Defense Forces strikes, and that Israel is not interested in pursuing a new calm or Tahadiyeh with the militant group.
The Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported this week that the head of Hamas' political bureau in Damascus, Khaled Meshal, expressed disappointment at the Arab reaction to the operation during a closed session of the Arab summit in Qatar. Not only did Hamas remain almost alone in the campaign against Israel, it also suffered a painful blow in the military confrontation. The best proof of this was its agreement to an unconditional cease-fire while IDF troops were still in the Gaza Strip. Al-Ahram reports that Meshal admitted that he had not expected the Israeli reaction to be so severe and sustained - the same sentiment that was expressed by Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon two and half years ago.
Outwardly, Hamas broadcast a different message. Military Intelligence tends to give Hamas high grades for the credibility of its announcements in ordinary times. But since the start of the ground operation, Hamas' fabrications have gone off the charts. One of the organization's spokesmen claimed this week that Hamas had expelled the IDF from the Gaza Strip. The spokesman of the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, admitted to losing only 48 of its men in the fighting. And how many Israeli soldiers were killed? Forty-nine, according to Hamas (in reality, 10 soldiers were killed). Conversations with residents of Ramallah and East Jerusalem indicate that from their point of view, Hamas won. They claim that Hamas withstood Israeli military pressure and that the IDF struck only civilians in the Gaza Strip. Asked why they think Hamas stopped firing rockets, they explain that it was a good-will gesture to Barack Obama on the occasion of his inauguration.
Arab leaders have pledged $2bn to help reconstruct the Gaza Strip after a three week Israeli offensive that devastated the territory's infrastructure, left 1,300 Palestinians dead, and thousands more displaced.
But there have been disagreements over how the aid will find its way into Gaza, with countries including Saudi Arabia concerned about giving funds directly to Hamas, which currently administers the Gaza Strip.
Rifts over Israel
"They [the Arab leaders] decided to confine themselves in a general statement to postpone differences," Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra reported from Kuwait.
"Saudis and Egyptians are very sceptical of [giving money to] Hamas for one reason," he said.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
dalla narrativa imposta dalla «muhamawa» (la resistenza) è automaticamente un «amil», un collaborazionista e rischia la vita. Aiuta però il recente scontro fratricida tra Hamas e Olp. Se Israele o l’Egitto avessero permesso ai giornalisti stranieri di entrare subito sarebbe stato più facile. Quelli locali sono spesso minacciati da Hamas. «Non è un fatto nuovo, in Medio Oriente tra le società arabe manca la tradizione culturale dei diritti umani. Avveniva sotto il regime di Arafat che la stampa venisse perseguitata e censurata. Con Hamas è anche peggio», sostiene Eyad Sarraj, noto psichiatra di Gaza city. E c’è un altro dato che sta emergendo sempre più evidente visitando cliniche, ospedali e le famiglie delle vittime del fuoco israeliano. In verità il loro numero appare molto più basso dei quasi 1.300 morti, oltre a circa 5.000 feriti, riportati dagli uomini di Hamas e ripetuti da ufficiali Onu e della Croce Rossa locale. «I morti potrebbero essere non più di 500 o 600. Per lo più ragazzi tra i 17 e 23 anni reclutati tra le fila di Hamas che li ha mandati letteralmente al massacro», ci dice un medico dell’ospedale Shifah che non vuole assolutamente essere citato, è a rischio la sua vita. Un dato però confermato anche dai giornalisti locali: «Lo abbiamo già segnalato ai capi di Hamas. Perché insistono nel gonfiare le cifre delle vittime? Strano tra l’altro che le organizzazioni non governative, anche occidentali, le riportino senza verifica. Alla fine la verità potrebbe venire a galla. E potrebbe essere come a Jenin nel 2002. Inizialmente si parlò di 1.500 morti. Poi venne fuori che erano solo 54, di cui almeno 45 guerriglieri caduti combattendo».
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The High Court of Justice on Wednesday revoked a government decision to exclude Israeli-Arab parties from contesting in the national elections next month.
The court issued its decision in response to a petition submitted by Arab politicians against the ban. A spokesman for the Courts Administration said judges overturned the ban in an unanimous vote Wednesday (Ha'aretz).
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Footage of a presenter on the Arabic language television station Al-Arabiyaapparently confirms that Hamas fired at least one rocket from close to a building used by journalists during the 22-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The Israel Defense Forces shelled the building, drawing international condemnation, and television networks with offices in the building denied that rockets had been launched from anywhere nearby.
But the recording, filmed by an Israeli and released Tuesday by Israel's Foreign Ministry, shows Al-Arabiya presenter Hanan Al-Masri saying that a Grad rocket had been fired from a location near the studios at Al-Shuruk tower in Gaza City. Al-Masri did not realize that she had been caught on camera (Ha'aretz).
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Isramco announced Sunday that "extremely significant" reserves of natural gas have been discovered at its Tamar 1 offshore drill site 90 kilometers west of Haifa
Noble Energy operates the well with a 36 percent working interest. Other interest owners in the well are Isramco Negev 2 with 28.75 percent, Delek Drilling with 15.625 percent, Avner Oil Exploration with 15.625 percent and Dor Gas Exploration with the remaining four percent.
Friday, January 16, 2009
"In Jerusalem, however, officials went to sleep thinking the Americans had only agreed to support a 48-hour humanitarian cease-fire. At 1 A.M., final confirmation came from New York: The U.S. had promised that no cease-fire resolution would be brought to a vote any time soon. An hour and a half later, however, it became clear that not only was the Security Council due to vote on a cease-fire resolution at any minute, but Rice had ordered America's UN ambassador to support it. Olmert promptly telephoned U.S. President George Bush to complain about Rice's behavior and demand that he restrain her. What Bush said to Rice remains unknown. What is known, however, is that the U.S. suddenly changed its vote from "yes" to "abstain."
The whole story would have ended well had Olmert behaved like a responsible adult and restrained his own impulses. Even his close associates admit that he would have done better to skip the public boasting about how he persuaded Bush to overrule Rice. Quite aside from the fact that this embarrassed the U.S. administration, Olmert's associates understand all too well that this story merely provides fresh ammunition to those who claim the Jews are the ones who really control America. " (Ha'aretz)
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Said Sayyam and Salah Abu Shreich, two senior Hamas figures, were killed in an air strike in Jabaliya. The home of another Hamas leader, Mahmoud al-Zahar, is surrounded. Infantry, armor and special forces are operating in the center of the city, very close to the Hamas "security quarter" southwest of the city, where most of the command and control centers of the group are situated.
Even in the center of the city, Hamas gunmen are opting to avoid direct encounters with the IDF. In most cases they are choosing to escape along with thousands of civilians. The Hamas announcement in Cairo two days ago began the countdown toward a cease-fire.The army sensed Hamas' weakness when units left their defensive positions in the Zeytun neighborhood. Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi approved the assault and forces reached the center of the city through the gap. On the way, the IDF killed most of the members of a unit comprising militants trained by Iran.
The latest move has is risks. The IDF is constantly concerned that a single mistake may lead to mass killing of Palestinian civilians, or a surprise attack by Hamas that may affect public opinion in Israel.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
According to the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Hamas has agreed to the Egyptian version of the cease fire, which calls for an immediate end to the "aggression against Gaza," an opening of the crossings, and the withdrawal of the [Israeli] troops from the Strip. The Hamas people ("our brothers in Hamas") have conveyed their agreement to the Egyptians, who will in turn pass it on to the Israelis (Ha'aretz):
All in all, the agreement looks good for Egypt and the PA. It was interesting to read the Hamas delegation's statement that they had considered only the Egyptian initiative. Mubarak must be pleased that his message to Hamas has hit home: we are your only salvation.
For Israel, on the other hand, Hamas's position is wholly unsatisfactory. Obviously, Israel cannot agree to a cease fire under these terms. Fortunately, Israel has some time to formulate its own conditions and to back them up with the threat of "stage 3," even if opposition to the full-scale deployment of ground forces in Gaza is growing in the military and government.
In other news, according to the IDF, Palestinians fired a phosphorus bomb at Israel yesterday. Human rights organizations have previously accused Israel of using white phosphorus in civilian areas, which, many argue, is illegal under the Geneva Conventions. The Israeli military argues that it employs phosphorus mainly for smoke screens and that its use of the chemical does not violate the conventions. Rights groups have also accused the U.S. of having used the weapon against insurgents in Iraq.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
Labor party backbenchers expressed their opposition to Cabel's vote in favor of the disqualification:Senior Labor Party figures lashed out at the party's CEC representative, Eitan Cabel, who voted in favor of banning the two Arab parties."[MK] Shelly Yachimovich and I thought we must object to the move to ban the Arab lists for reasons of freedom of expression," said Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog. "The minority's right to be heard must be preserved," he said.MK Ophir Pines (Labor) said from overseas that he strongly objected to Labor's stance in the vote and that it was not the position that had been agreed on.
"It's true we said we wouldn't ban, but [Balad leader MK Jamal] Zahalka's statement that he was in touch with Bishara led me to think that we must draw the line somewhere," he said. "I'm making no apologies because I fight more than most in the Knesset for equal rights for Arabs. I know it won't stand up in the Supreme Court, and rightly so, because there is no evidentiary basis for the [committee's] decision."
- Any rejection (in the party's goals or activities) of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish, democratic state.
- Any incitement to racism.
- Any support of the armed struggle of an enemy state or terrorist organization against the State of Israel
- Any hint of a cover for illegal activity.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
The main problem is the fact that Israel is preconditioning a cease-fire to a solution to the smuggling, while Egypt is asking for a cease-fire and the opening of the border crossings, before a resolution of the Hamas tunnels issue.
Solana said Wednesday that the Union is ready to assist Egypt in preventing smuggling, but in an interview to Reuters he qualified that the assistance "will be mostly technological and not by the deployment of forces."
Meanwhile, the international diplomatic effort being led by the United States, France, Britain and Egypt is still focused on an initiative to deploy an international force of experts and troops that would assist Egyptian authorities in dealing with the tunnel system Hamas has built along the Philadelphi Route, which borders Sinai.According to a political source in Jerusalem, France and the U.S. are working hard on Egypt to get it to agree to the initiative."If a solution is found, we will have no problem in immediately bringing the operation to an end," the Israeli source said (Ha'aretz).
Meanwhile, Egypt denied on Tuesday a report that President Hosni Mubarak had told European ministers on a peace mission that Hamas must not be allowed to win the ongoing war in Gaza.Haaretz reported on Tuesday that Mubarak made the comment on Monday to a visiting European Union delegation, which included several European foreign ministers. "If an Israeli newspaper published comments such as these, non-attributed, from a closed meeting, how credible can it be?" said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki (Ha'aretz).
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
"What to do about Hamas' arms smuggling currently appears to be the main sticking point holding up a cease-fire agreement. Israel is holding intensive talks with the United States in an effort to reach a deal that would be acceptable to Egypt. The proposals include sending in the U.S. Army's engineering corps to systematically destroy the entire Philadelphi Road, where the smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border are located.Three years ago, on the eve of the disengagement, then GOC Southern Command (and now Deputy Chief of Staff) Dan Harel proposed digging a canal the entire length of the Philadelphi Road to thwart the smuggling. At the time, his idea was dismissed as crazy. So Israel withdrew without any arrangements in place for Philadelphi, and the tunnels under the road became a smuggling superhighway for the rockets now being launched at Be'er Sheva, Ashdod and Gedera."Source: Amos Harel in Ha'aretz.
Plutôt que des observateurs, Israël serait prêt à accepter une force internationale active pour contrôler les 14 km de la frontière et éviter la reconstruction des tunnels détruits depuis le début de l'offensive militaire d'Israël à Gaza, il y a dix jours. Israël suggère que les Etats-Unis fournissent des troupes du génie chargées des tunnels. C'est une façon de remettre toute décision au 20 janvier, jour de l'investiture du président Barack Obama...Il se trouve que le général James Jones, conseiller pour la sécurité nationale du nouveau président américain, a été chargé en novembre 2007 par Condoleezza Rice d'une mission sur les questions de sécurité liées aux négociations israélo-palestiniennes. L'ancien Chef d'état major des forces de l'Otan avait rédigé un rapport critique de l'armée israélienne et favorable au déploiement dans les territoires palestiniens d'une force internationale sous commandement de l'Otan. Cette idée pourrait bien devenir à l'ordre du jour.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
If the rockets continue, Israel would be free of the restraint dilemma it has confronted since the dawn of the Oslo era, while Hamas would emerge as the sole party responsible for the continuation of hostilities. Israel would then enjoy more support from its allies for subsequent military operations.