Archive for Gaza

After Gaza, resistance reconsidered

Posted in Media Watch with tags , on February 3, 2009 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

20090203144213616_1Inter Press Service (IPS)
February 3, 2009

CAIRO — Despite declarations of victory by Israel, the military assault on the Gaza Strip failed to achieve its stated aims, many analysts say. The assault, and even its exceptional brutality, may only have vindicated the notion of resistance among the Arab public.

“The steadfastness of the resistance in Gaza in the face of Israeli military power has resuscitated the idea of armed resistance,” Gamal Fahmi, political analyst and managing editor of opposition weekly Al-Arabi Al-Nassiri told IPS.

From Dec. 27 to Jan. 17, Israel pounded targets throughout the Gaza Strip from air, land and sea, in ostensible retaliation for rockets fired at Israel by Palestinian resistance factions, chief among them Hamas. The latter two weeks of the campaign brought a parallel ground offensive that encountered fierce resistance in and around a number of population centers.

The campaign only came to a close — albeit an uncertain one — following Israel’s announcement of a unilateral ceasefire Jan. 17. The next day, Palestinian resistance factions also announced a temporary cessation of hostilities, but not before launching several rocket salvoes at targets inside Israel.

Over the course of the following week, Israel gradually withdrew its ground forces from the Gaza Strip. When the dust settled, more than 1,300 Gazans lay dead, mostly women and children. Thousands were injured.

Israeli military officials hastened to declare the operation a success. Some Egyptian commentators, however, say that despite the high civilian death toll and infrastructural damage the conflict represented a strategic victory for the Palestinian resistance.

“Victory in war isn’t determined by casualty rates but by the achievement of war aims,” Abdelhalim Kandil, political analyst and editor-in-chief of independent weekly Sout Al-Umma wrote Monday (Jan. 26). “And Israel failed to achieve its stated aims after more than three weeks of punishing Gaza.”

He said Israel’s ‘unilateral ceasefire’ — for which Israel received nothing in return from the Hamas-led resistance — was unprecedented in the history of Israeli war-making. “The resistance called its own ceasefire one day later, but not before demonstrating that its capacity for launching rockets at Israel remained intact,” Kandil wrote.

Gamal Mazloum, former Egyptian Army general, said Israel’s stated war objectives changed more than once mid-campaign.

“Over the course of the conflict, Israeli officials went from saying that the goal of the operation was ‘removing’ Hamas, to ‘degrading’ its rocket-launching capacity, to ‘teaching Hamas a lesson’,” Mazloum told IPS. “But the unexpected steadfastness of the resistance forced them to conclude operations without achieving any of these. Now Israel says its chief aim is to ‘cut off weapons smuggling’ to Gaza.”

According to Hamas officials, Israel’s real objective was clear from the outset.

“The reason for Israel’s aggression is to change the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip,” Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook was quoted as saying during the conflict Jan. 13. “They have been thinking about this ever since Hamas won the elections.”

This was not the first attempt at forcible removal of the resistance group.

Shortly after Hamas’s surprise victory in the 2006 legislative elections, the U.S. covertly armed and trained elements of the Palestinian Fatah movement, Hamas’s secular rival, with the aim of wiping out the Hamas leadership in Gaza in one fell swoop. Based in the West Bank, Fatah currently heads the Palestinian Authority (PA) under the leadership of western-backed PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

The scheme, coordinated by U.S. Lt-Gen Keith Dayton and Fatah strongman Mohamed Dahlan, later became known as the Dayton Plan.

But after learning of the plot in mid-June 2007, Hamas preemptively routed its Fatah adversaries and seized control of Gaza. Hamas has maintained control of the Gaza Strip ever since. As a result, Gaza has been subject to an internationally-sanctioned embargo that has brought it to humanitarian ruin.

Hamas officials say that Israel’s latest assault was simply an attempt to finish the job that Fatah — with U.S. and Israeli support — failed to do in 2007.

“They tried to push Fatah to stand and fight Hamas, but we defeated them in the Gaza Strip,” Marzouk said in a reference to the failed Dayton plot. “So Israel took action themselves.”

Several commentators agree that both campaigns had the same objective — namely, the obliteration of Hamas. “Both the Dayton Plan and Israel’s recent war aimed — and failed — to remove Hamas from power in Gaza,” said Mazloum.

Despite the Dayton Plan’s significance in the chronology of the conflict, it is seldom referred to in current reporting by the western mainstream media.

“The Dayton affair is largely ignored — but then facts concerning Palestine are always subject to deceptions and disinformation in the western media,” Fahmi said. “The western press also rarely mentions that Hamas won democratic elections in 2006, or the extent of corruption in the PA.”

Along with Israel’s failure to achieve its stated war aims, commentators note that the war on Gaza — horrific images of which have been transmitted around the world — represented a public relations catastrophe for Israel.

“The war revealed Israeli criminality to the entire world,” said Fahmi. “It also served to put the Palestinian cause back on the conscience of the international community.”

“Israel’s image is now at an all-time low,” said Mazloum, pointing to the massive demonstrations worldwide in solidarity with Gaza. “Israel is already suffering from the effects of this crisis, politically, economically and socially.”

Mazloum attributed Israel’s uncharacteristic unilateral ceasefire declaration to mounting worldwide outrage over its assault on Gaza’s largely defenseless civilian population.

“There was an unprecedented explosion of popular rage in the Arab world, which put most Arab governments under tremendous pressure and could have led to serious regional escalations,” said Mazloum. “The blatant carnage also eventually led to pressure on Israel by the international community to stop the aggression.”

Both domestically and regionally, he said, Hamas was already reaping the fruits of what amounted to a political victory.

“Both in Gaza and the Fatah-controlled West Bank, the people have rallied around Hamas as defender of the Palestinian cause,” said Mazloum. “And on the regional level, Hamas proved its staying power and showed it cannot be simply removed from the equation. Egypt, for one, will now have no choice but to deal with Hamas as a political reality.”

According to Fahmi, the most notable outcome has been a resurgence of the notion of armed resistance to Israel — after some 30 years of fruitless negotiations.

“Resistance doesn’t mean irrational violence devoid of political considerations, as its detractors would suggest,” he said. “On the contrary, it is — particularly in the face of brutal occupation — the only logical choice.”
The above article can be found at: http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=45651

After Gaza, resistance reconsidered

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Israelis counter Gaza qualms with ‘grim satisfaction’

Posted in Media Watch with tags , on January 26, 2009 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

20090126220549606_1The Financial Times
January 25, 2009

As the dust settles on three weeks of war, the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have nothing over which to rejoice: buildings lie in rubble, thousands have been killed or injured and prospects for an end to the misery and violence remain slim.

In Israel, however, the war has left the population in very different mood. Whether through pride, relief or even a sense of triumph, there is no doubt that the Gaza conflict has at last made Israelis feel better about themselves, their leaders and their army.

Officials and analysts say they have been surprised by the degree of Israel’s national unity and sense of common purpose during the war. After years in which Israel as a whole was ridden by self-doubt and lurched from military setback to political infighting to diplomatic stalemate, the change in attitude is palpable.

Polls show the overwhelming majority of Israelis backed the war, which they saw as a just assault on an implacable and dangerous enemy. The approval ratings of all government politicians have shot up, while much of the country has delighted in the images, splashed across the front pages last week, of smiling Israeli soldiers riding home on battle tanks in victory pose.

“There is a sense of grim satisfaction that the army has returned to itself,” says Yossi Klein Halevy, a fellow at the Jerusalem-based Shalem Center. “The soldiers fought with more motivation than at any time since the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the home front bore up with weeks of shelling without complaint and the country was unified. Even most of the Israeli left supported the operation.”

Analysts say the key to understanding the Israeli elation of the past days lies in the country’s botched 2006 war in Lebanon. The conflict against Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia group, exposed serious failings among Israel’s politicians, generals and soldiers. It ended inconclusively but was perceived by Israelis as an embarrassing failure, and one that did much to undermine the country’s power of deterrence in the region.

As it happened, Hezbollah turned out to be sufficiently deterred not to open a second front as Israel pounded Hamas over the past month. But few doubt that the Lebanon war dealt a heavy psychological blow to a country that takes distinct pride in its armed forces and in which society and military are closely intertwined.

David Grossman, one of Israel’s best-known novelists, sees the Gaza war almost as a kind of exorcism for the collective conscience. In a front-page essay for the Haaretz newspaper, he wrote last week: “A whole country eagerly hypnotized itself, because it needed so badly to believe that Gaza would cure it of ‘Lebanonitis’.”

As a result, he argues, the images of civilian suffering among the Palestinians in Gaza now lie buried beneath a “wave of nationalist hyperbole”.

The contrast between Israeli perceptions of the war and the worldwide outrage at the country’s assault on an already impoverished territory is striking. Outside Israel, the attention has focused above all on the hundreds of dead civilians and on incidents where Israeli fire hit schools, United Nations compounds and hospitals. The apparent use of controversial ammunition such as white phosphorus has been the target of vociferous condemnation.

Several human rights groups have called for Israeli politicians and soldiers to be prosecuted for war crimes, sparking an indignant response from the government and promises of legal aid to any officers targeted in courts outside the country. The gulf separating Israel from much of the rest of the world — not just on the Gaza war — has not escaped the country’s notice.

“There is a sense of radical disconnect that most of us feel between our moral perceptions and those of the international community,” says Mr. Klein Halevy. Far from shaking Israeli certitudes, however, he says, the international condemnation has been met with “rage” and “contempt”. The question posed by Israelis is simple: “Don’t you people realize the nature of the enemy we are facing?”

Israel, he argues, will indeed have to examine whether the use of overwhelming firepower against a target such as Gaza was appropriate. But “we knew that we risked turning ourselves into a pariah, because there is no clean way to fight such a war if you want to win”.

Mr. Grossman, who lost his son in the Lebanon war, believes Israel will eventually come to share the international mood. “When the guns fall completely silent, and the full scope of the killing and destruction becomes known, to the point where even the most self-righteous and sophisticated of the Israeli psyche’s defense mechanism are overcome, perhaps some kind of lesson will imprint itself on our brain,” he argues.

For the time being, however, the lesson that Israelis take away from three weeks of war is one that has echoed throughout the country’s history: that being strong is always preferable to being popular.
The above article can be found at: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ec8ac454-eb4a-11dd-bb6e-0000779fd2ac.html

Israelis counter Gaza qualms with ‘grim satisfaction’

GAZA’S BLOOD IS ON OUR HANDS (for ignoring the truth of 9/11)

Posted in Original Research with tags , , on January 20, 2009 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

20090120221515652_1As the dust settles in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian casualties, mostly women and children, are being counted in the hundreds. What just happened was a real holocaust — not a fictional Hollywood production like the “Holocaust” of European Jewry — and the blood of the more than 1300 slain Palestinians is on our hands.

If we had collectively faced up to the reality of Israel’s central role in the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, none of these subsequent Israeli atrocities — including the Zionist-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — would ever have been allowed to happen.

In the wake of 9/11, overwhelming evidence emerged, available to anyone who was interested, implicating Israel in the attacks. Much of this evidence — more than enough to stand up in any legitimate court of law — even came out in the Jewish-owned “mainstream” media. (For a concise collection of this evidence, see Victor Thorn’s “9/11 Evil: Israel’s Central Role in the September 11, 2001 Attacks”.)

Now, imagine if, in the months and first few years after the tragedy, we had all had the courage to face the obvious: that the so-called Jewish state — along with its rats’ nest of agents in the US government and intelligence agencies — had conceived, planned, and executed the attacks in order to produce an imaginary “Clash of Civilizations” and drive the US into a global war against the enemies of Israel.

All of the proof was available to us. If we had all shown a little strength of character, and faced up to the truth staring us in the face, the subsequent march to war by the Jewish-controlled Bush Jr. Administration would have been stopped in its tracks.

Imagine: States of the union — pressured by their outraged constituencies — would have demanded legitimate, independent investigations, threatening the federal government with secession if need be.

Enormous demonstrations, involving millions of Americans, would have converged on Washington DC. At risk to life and limb, angry protestors would have dragged known culprits from the White House and other federal institutions to face trial or, depending on the circumstances, vigilante justice.

Jewish-owned mass-media institutions, which played such a vital role in the 9/11 conspiracy and subsequent cover-up, would have been quickly dismantled. Their Zionist propagandists would have been detained pending investigation, trial and — most likely — execution.

Good people in the armed services — still loyal to the US Constitution — would have found and exposed those within their ranks working in the service of a foreign power. Zionist conspirators within the military would have been court-martialed and, having been found guilty of high treason, subject to the maximum penalty.

Meanwhile, the Israeli embassy in the US, along with ADL and AIPAC offices countrywide, would have been besieged by angry Americans seeking redress for the murder of 3000 of their innocent compatriots. Zionist agents would have been tried — by emergency courts, convened by independent states of the union, if need be — and, given the overwhelming proof against them, sentenced to death.

Conspirators who escaped conviction in court would have become fugitives, to be hunted down by righteously-minded local posses spearheaded, perhaps, by the outraged kinsmen of those slain on 9/11.

Most importantly, America’s support for the criminal state of Israel would have vanished overnight, to be replaced by bitter acrimony. An alliance of sovereign nations including the US — whose peoples had purged their respective governments of Zionist rot — would have brought their full weight to bear against the pariah state, arresting its criminal leaders and forcing its military to disarm.

Universally despised and economically unsustainable without US funding, the Israeli experiment would have been brought to a close, forcibly if necessary. Its people would have been dispersed — to refugee camps, if need be — and replaced by the original, rightful inhabitants of Palestine.

But no. We chose instead to give Israel and its henchmen a pass on 9/11.

In an indication of how low we’ve sunk, we let them get away with it. And our apathy only emboldened them to pursue a litany of subsequent crimes — in Iraq (where millions have been killed), Afghanistan, Southern Lebanon, and now Gaza.

Those dead and dying in the Gaza Strip have already paid the price for our spinelessness. And if the global resistance doesn’t soon take this fight to the enemy, it’s only a matter of time before the next consignment of innocent children is offered up to Jewish gods on the altar of our cowardice.

How long before we seek — demand — righteous vengeance?

GAZA’S BLOOD IS ON OUR HANDS (for ignoring the truth of 9/11)

Heil, Feiglin!

Posted in Media Watch with tags , , , on November 24, 2008 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

press_Al-Ahram Weekly
November 20, 2008

Khaled Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem shudders at the drift to fascism in Israeli politics

With Israeli Jewish society drifting towards right-wing extremism, especially with regard to the Palestinian issue, Israeli political parties contesting the upcoming elections, slated to take place on 10 February, are radicalising the tone of their public discourse in the hope of wooing as many potential voters as possible to their respective agendas.

The Kadima and Labour parties, erstwhile coalition partners, are escalating their rhetoric against the Palestinians, with ministers and former ministers calling for the resumption of assassinations of Palestinians.

For example, Shaul Mofaz, widely considered a certified war criminal, has been urging the Israeli government to launch devastating land and air attacks on Gaza, regardless of the political and moral price Israel may have to pay.

Mofaz, who is responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent Palestinians in his capacity as both chief of staff and defence minister, suggested this week that the Israeli army ought to carry out ruthless operations in Gaza in order to defeat Hamas which he termed a “key strategic threat”.

Tzipi Livni, Kadima leader, reportedly has Mofaz in mind for the defence portfolio in case Kadima emerges as winner in the elections and she succeeds in forming the next Israeli government.

Interestingly, acting Defence Minister Ehud Barak has been conspicuously less bellicose. This week, Barak called for preserving the fragile truce with Hamas despite “the provocations”, an allusion to the firing of pathetic homemade projectiles on Jewish border settlements near Gaza in retaliation for deadly Israeli attacks that have so far killed more than a dozen Palestinians.

Barak, his aides argue, is not interested in making a big conflagration in Gaza prior to the inauguration of the Obama administration in the White House on 20 January because this might leave a bad impression on the new president. Moreover, Barak and Livni seem to calculate that an outbreak of deadly violence in southern Israel would seriously undermine the Israeli campaign to press the West to force Iran to end or suspend its nuclear programme.

Israel, which is widely believed to possess a huge arsenal of nuclear bombs and warheads and delivery systems, has been saying that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities will not be ruled out.

Apart from sporadic statements by Kadima leaders, including an unprecedented remark by outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in which he said Israel would have to return to the 1967 borders, much of the action has been taking place in the right camp, where the Likud is regaining its former status as Israel’s number one political party. In recent days, a number of former Likud leaders, who had either left politics or switched to other parties, have decided to return to their former home.

The returnees include such renowned figures as Benyamin Begin, the son of former Israeli prime minister Menahem Begin and Dan Merridor, a former minister of justice. Begin is viewed as embodying honesty and integrity in politics, while the latter is seen as representing political moderation, characters that would be a valuable asset to a government formed by a notoriously dishonest and pugnacious Benyamin Netanyahu.

However, two more hawks are also joining Likud. The first is Moshe Yaalon, a former chief of staff, who is also widely viewed as a certified war criminal, not only by Palestinians, but also by human rights organisations around the world. Yaalon has been warned against entering several European countries, including Britain and Spain, lest he be arrested for his role in the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians.

Yaalon’s tenure as chief of staff of the Israeli army 2002- 2005 was marked by numerous acts of almost pornographic murder of civilians in both Gaza and the West Bank, including the bombing and extermination of many Palestinian families as well as the deliberate targeting of children and other civilians. Yaalon is also a leading proponent of bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities, with or without American backing.

Speaking in occupied Jerusalem this week, Yaalon was quoted as saying that he decided to join the Likud “because I can no longer remain on the sidelines during such a critical time in Israel.” Yaalon was against the Israeli army redeployment from the Gaza Strip and is an ardent supporter of Jewish colonisation in the West Bank. With regard to the peace process, he believes Palestinians would have to spend many years “educating themselves about peace” during which time Israel would create more settlements in the West Bank.

Nonetheless, the most dangerous and problematic right- winger, dubbed by some Israeli intellectuals in Israel as the Hitler of Israeli politics, is Moshe Feiglin, who advocates the ethnic cleansing or extermination of non-Jews in Israel-Palestine Old Testament-style.

Feiglin is very popular within Likud and there are serious concerns in Israel and within Likud itself that he would be elected as the number two man in the party.

This prospect is reportedly causing a lot of unease to Likud leader Netanyahu who is worried that the character of Feiglin would have a decidedly negative impact on the Likud image, especially if the party formed the next government, as widely expected.

Feiglin advocates the idea of manhigut Yedhudit or “the Jewish leadership”. According to this concept, Israel would have to adopt four steps towards resolving the Arab Israeli conflict once and for all:

First, induced Arab emigration from both Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Needless to say, “induced emigration” is effectively a mere euphemism for genocidal ethnic cleansing.

Second, Israel would have to reconquer and tightly control every part of the occupied territories and place non-Jewish inhabitants under a harsh military occupation until they can no longer endure the persecution, which then would force them to leave.

Third, Israel should resume intensive Judaisation of the territories, including the destruction of Christian and Muslim holy places.

And, fourth, Israel should dislodge itself from the peace process since this process is incompatible with the rules and teachings of the Torah and Talmud.

Feiglin also openly advocates an all-out war on Islam for the purpose of eradicating the religion and its estimated 1.5 billion followers. Feiglin is viewed as a fascist figure even by traditional Likud hardliners. A few years ago, Limor Livnat, a former minister of education, called him “a foreign weed, his blood is not our blood, his flesh is not our flesh”. One Israeli journalist has compared the ascendancy of Feiglin as the number two man within Likud, conceivably succeeding Netanyahu as prime minister, to the ascendancy of Adolph Hitler to power in Germany, nearly 80 years ago.

What is more worrying still is that the current Likud head Netanyahu seems quite helpless as to what he could do to neutralise Feiglin and his many supporters within the Likud. When Netanyahu was asked about Feiglin last week, he reportedly said ,”I can’t do anything about him.”

However, observers in Israel speculate that Netanyahu would seek to appease Feiglin by undertaking to stop the peace process with the Palestinians. Netanyahu has been alluding to this for weeks, saying that he believes in a peace that is based on economic prosperity, not territorial concessions, a euphemism for keeping the occupation intact.

Now the big question is how the Barack Obama administration will relate to an Israeli government run by the likes of Feiglin and a further radicalised Netanyahu who has the heart and mind of Feiglin, but the tongue of an eloquent public relations officer.

This article can be found at: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2008/923/re2.htm

Bearing out the betrayal

Posted in Media Watch with tags , , , , , on November 24, 2008 by The 800 Pound Gorilla

_reg04Al-Ahram Weekly
November 20, 2008

With Israel’s breach of the ceasefire in Gaza, Saleh Al-Naami laments yet another example of Israeli-PA collusion which victimises Hamas

Hassan Karim, 34, has been making the rounds of real estate offices in the hope of finding an apartment to rent in the western part of Gaza city. He is doing all in his power to move out of the Shajaiya neighbourhood in the eastern part of the city where he and his family currently live. It has become too risky to stay there now that the Israelis have reverted to attacking border areas of Gaza adjacent to Israel. “It took a full year for my daughters to recover from the trauma they experienced from the quaking of our house during the last wave of Israeli bombardments,” he told Al-Ahram Weekly, adding that one of his daughters feared that if they remained where they lived under those conditions she would suffer a nervous breakdown.

The staff in the real estate office said that hundreds of people living in the eastern part of the city have been making inquiries into the availability of apartments in the western districts, which are regarded as somewhat safer. The rise in cross-border assaults by Israeli death squads targeting Palestinian militants guarding the roads leading to residential quarters has triggered growing alarm among people in Gaza. An eerie suspense prevails as pilotless Israeli reconnaissance planes constantly patrol the skies, relaying back to IDF headquarters images of the damage caused by the strikes and gathering intelligence on the movements of Palestinian resistance forces.

The Palestinian factions have condemned the sudden resurgence of military activity after more than four months of almost total calm along the Gaza-Israeli border. In response to what they claim as an Israeli breach of the ceasefire, they have resumed missile bombardments of the Jewish settlements on the other side of the border. According to Yediot Aharonot, one missile struck what the newspaper described as a highly sensitive security installation causing major damage.

Israeli officials claim that the purpose of the latest military operations in Gaza is to prevent Hamas from conducting kidnapping operations across the border using tunnels dug by Hamas operatives. Tsvi Barel believes that this was only a pretext for launching a military offensive aimed at accomplishing other objectives. In an analysis appearing on the Haaretz Hebrew website on Sunday, the Israeli writer and journalist argues that Israel deliberately broke the ceasefire in order to keep Hamas from bringing the ceasefire to the West Bank.

The historic ceasefire obliges Israel to suspend its campaign of raids and detentions against Palestinians in those occupied territories. It had been scheduled to end in about a month, after which it was to have been renewed by agreement to include the West Bank. Israel was keen to forestall this development at all costs, Barel wrote. Palestinians would see Hamas, instead of the PA president, as the agency capable of halting Israeli aggression and effectively fusing the West Bank and Gaza back together again. This would constitute an enormous political victory for Hamas and debilitating blow to PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s credibility. People would ask more loudly why Abbas’s term should be extended when his political approach did nothing to restore the Palestinians’ sense of security whereas Hamas’s did.

Israel has absolutely no intention of allowing Hamas to gain a foothold in the West Bank, Barel stressed, which is why it decided to breach the ceasefire. The true purpose was to extricate Abu Mazen from his current predicament and bolster his deteriorating position. Barel writes, “the question is whether the Israeli army is more prepared to invade the Gaza Strip today than it was last year. If the answer to this is yes, then another question comes to mind: might a major operation in Gaza at this time appear more like an electoral gambit than a practical step to put an end to Palestinian terrorism? Won’t it seem that Israel is taking advantage of the period of the handover of power in the US to impose new realities on the ground? And there is another disturbing question: is the IDF now prepared to create a situation that will endanger the possibility of the release of the long-forgotten [sic] Gilad Shalit?”

Israeli officials appear to be gearing up domestic and world opinion for an intensification of military operations in Gaza. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that he has instructed security officials to prepare a plan for ending Hamas rule in Gaza. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Communications General Shaul Mofaz has called for the immediate elimination of the Hamas leadership, urging the return to targeted assassinations, a policy Israel practised when he was military chief-of-staff and minister of defence.

In Mofaz’s opinion, Israel made a huge mistake when it entered into indirect talks with Hamas. At the same time, he feels that economic pressures and collective sanctions against the Palestinians have not proven effective and that this policy towards Gaza has to be subjected to a complete review. Minister of Industry and Trade Eli Yashay was even more hawkish. “Anyone who thinks that a truce is the right direction is burying his head in the sand. The only thing the ceasefire accomplished was to help Hamas arm itself and get more powerful.” Yashay, who is also the leader of the ultra- conservative Shas Party, further holds that Israel should cut off all water and electricity to Gaza as long as missiles are being fired from there into Israel. It should be simultaneously borne in mind that much of this vehemence is posturing for the upcoming elections in Israel. Most of the officials who criticise the truce with Hamas are political opponents of Minister of Defence Ehud Barak, whom they accuse of feeding the “erosion of the Israeli deterrent power against Hamas”.

Meanwhile, Hamas leader Ayman Taha charges that Israel has “overstepped all red lines” with these operations which he believes are “trial balloons meant to gauge the readiness and ability of the resistance to retaliate”. He also suspects that they are a bid on the part of the ruling Kadima Party, whose credibility was severely damaged by the last defeat in Lebanon, to prove its security credentials to the Israeli electorate in advance of the parliamentary elections. At the same time, he vowed that if Israel is determined to end the truce completely, “we will not be sorry and we will engage it in a new and honourable battle.”

In an interview with the Weekly, Taha said that Hamas never pledged that it would maintain its halt to missile fire in the event of renewed Israeli aggression against Gaza. Responding to an article in Yediot Aharonot which claimed that Egypt had informed Israel that Hamas would abide by its pledge not to fire missiles, he said that his movement promised only one thing, which was “to retaliate powerfully against any Israeli assault or aggression against our people”.

“It is Israel that breached the truce and its ongoing aggression against Gaza belies its claim that it is committed to the truce and intent on sustaining it,” he said with passion. “The occupation destroyed the ceasefire. It did not abide by a single article of the truce. Therefore, it is our right and the right of all the resistance factions to respond with all possible force in order to protect our people and our Palestinian land. No Israeli soldier or settler on this land should have the right to safety and security as long as our people are being subjected to aggression and siege. They should be made to live among their own crippled and wounded so as to experience what the people of Gaza feel.”

Israel continues to keep the border crossings for commercial goods closed, and the blockade remains tight. The fuel needed to operate the sole power plant has run out and essential goods and necessities are nearly depleted. According to Palestinian National Economy Minister Ziad Al-Zaza, essential foodstuffs will run out in a matter of days. Gaza does not have strategic reserves of food and vital materials. In a statement to the Weekly, Al-Zaza warned that Gaza is on the verge of a major humanitarian crisis due to the depletion of fuel used for cooking and other types of fuel and combustibles. He appealed to Egypt to break the blockade and allow essential goods to pass through the Rafah crossing, and to Arab countries to support the call to reopen the Rafah crossing, which was one of the points of the truce that had not been honoured.

According to UN sources, it would take some 900 truckloads per week — 150 truckloads a day — of food and other essentials to meet the minimal primary needs of the Palestinians in Gaza, where around three-quarters of the inhabitants are without the electricity and the fuel needed to operate refrigerators and cooking equipment. The complete closure that Israel has imposed on Gaza has also led to a severe shortage in medicines. The human rights organisation, Addameer (Conscience), has warned that the lives of dozens of patients in intensive care units in Gaza and other patients who require oxygen tanks are at serious risk.

This article can be found at: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2008/923/re1.htm