Dr.Willy wrote:That graph might just aswell back up Mellis 'retribution' argument.
The New York Times wrote:Tensions between Hamas... and Israel increased markedly on Friday after Hamas fired a barrage of rockets into southern Israel, sending 18 Israelis to the hospital with shock and mild injuries.Hamas officials said the attack was revenge for the deaths over the past 11 days of 11 militants and the recent increased Israeli closing of Gaza crossings. They said that while they wanted to continue the five-month-old truce with Israel, it seemed to them that Israel did not and if that was the case, Israel would pay the consequences.
Israeli officials, who say they have been keeping the crossings into Gaza shut in retaliation for the rockets, thereby greatly decreasing the availability of supplies and fuel, said it was Hamas that was breaking the truce. Senior Israeli officials met in Tel Aviv on Friday and vowed not to back down from any provocation.
The confrontations, following five months of relative calm, began to spike this month when the Israeli military destroyed a tunnel being dug toward Israel. The army feared that the tunnel would be used to seize an Israeli soldier as a bargaining chip, like Cpl. Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas for more than two years.
The Israelis said it was an isolated operation, not a violation of the cease-fire agreed to in June, and asked Egypt to pass that message to Hamas in advance. But six Hamas militants were killed during the tunnel’s destruction, leading Hamas to retaliate with rockets, which led to more closings and operations and then more rockets.
There are several factors at work beyond the tit-for-tat of the past week and a half. Hamas, which took over Gaza in June 2007 by kicking out its Fatah rivals, is feeling unusual pressure because hundreds of its men have been arrested by the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank in recent weeks.
The arrests have been part of increased Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in which American-trained Palestinian troops are moving into West Bank cities, leading to some pullback by Israeli troops.
A second factor is that Egyptian efforts to broker a reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah have foundered, with Hamas saying that Fatah had not made good on a mutual prisoner release.
Finally, under American and Israeli pressure, Egypt has started to destroy or shut tunnels into southern Gaza that have been a major source of supplies and fuel — and weapons — that have offset the Israeli closings. [Melli's Note: Egypt had already closed their borders to the Palestinians because they didn't want to deal with refugees, like every other Arab nation. Gee, I wonder if their unwillingness to even feed their Palestinian brethren has anything to do with this conflict?]
As a result, Hamas is now feeling besieged not only by Israel, but also by Fatah and Egypt.
A campaign against Fatah started on Hamas television in Gaza two days ago, with a countdown of the days until the legal term ends for Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Abbas has said he will stay in power an extra year, but Hamas is trying to put pressure on him to step down. A large demonstration was also held on Thursday in Gaza demanding the release of Hamas prisoners in the West Bank.
Israel has come under criticism for shutting off supplies to Gaza in the past 10 days. Oxfam International issued a statement on Friday calling on the world to force Israel to end the closing.
“As a matter of humanitarian imperative, Israeli leaders must resume supplies into Gaza without further delay,” the statement, by Oxfam International Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs, said. “If Israelis and Palestinians alike don’t exert every effort now to maintain the truce which has held since last June, the result could be catastrophic for civilians both in Gaza and in nearby Israeli towns.”
Electricity production has plunged for lack of fuel, leaving much of the coastal strip darkened. Israeli officials suspect that there is actually enough fuel, and say that Hamas officials are trying to embarrass them by closing electricity plants.
The cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was scheduled to last for six months, meaning it has another month left. Both sides are saying they are examining their options as the date approaches.
“We knew when we took out the tunnel that there would be a response and then we would try to get things back to normal,” said Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel. “We have no desire to see a humanitarian crisis there. Unless the rockets stop, though, how can we move the supplies in? December marks the end of the six-month truce. Are they upping the ante before a new agreement?”
In Gaza, Mahmoud Zahhar, a senior Hamas leader, said: “We are still very committed to the truce. If Israel decides not to be committed, let it declare clearly its position. We have only been responding to their actions. Now, with the renewal date approaching, we are going to evaluate it and the crossings and will decide if we are going on with the truce.”
NYT wrote:Israel and Hamas accuse each other of bad faith and of violations of the Egyptian-mediated accord, and each side has a point. Rockets from Gaza never stopped entirely during the truce, and Israel never allowed a major renewed flow of goods into Gaza, crippling its economy. This is at least partly because the agreement had no mutually agreed text or enforcement mechanism; neither side wanted to grant the legitimacy to the other that such a document would imply...
I think it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better,” remarked Robert A. Pastor, who has been traveling in the region with former President Jimmy Carter, meeting with Hamas and other officials. “It did lead to a significant reduction in the number of rockets fired at Israel until November, but the truce had less impact on the goods going in. One hopes both sides learn lessons and agree on a text and publicize it.”
There seems little likelihood of that happening soon. Hamas considers Israel an illegitimate state and is doctrinally committed to its destruction, while Israel views Hamas as a terrorist group that must be dismantled. Yet each needs the other to hold its fire. That is why negotiations over another truce have started, again through Egypt.
Hamas officials say it was their understanding at the time that two weeks after the June 19 accord took effect Israel would open the crossings and allow the transfer of goods that had been banned or restricted after June 2007, when Hamas waged a violent takeover of Gaza.
Their job, the Hamas officials said, was to stop the rocket attacks on Israel not only from its own armed groups, but also from others based in Gaza, including Islamic Jihad and Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades.
It took some days, but they were largely successful. Hamas imposed its will and even imprisoned some of those who were firing rockets. Israeli and United Nations figures show that while more than 300 rockets were fired into Israel in May, 10 to 20 were fired in July, depending on who was counting and whether mortar rounds were included. In August, 10 to 30 were fired, and in September, 5 to 10.
But the goods shipments, while up some 25 to 30 percent and including a mix of more items, never began to approach what Hamas thought it was going to get: a return to the 500 to 600 truckloads delivered daily before the closing, including appliances, construction materials and other goods essential for life beyond mere survival. Instead, the number of trucks increased to around 90 from around 70.
Israeli officials acknowledged that transferring previously banned goods had been the plan, but said that there was no specific date for the increase and that it was to happen in steps. But the rockets never fully stopped.
“The Palestinians wanted to have one or two rockets a week to keep our people in tension and still tell people inside Gaza, ‘See, we continue to fight and we continue to bring in goods,’” said Shlomo Dror, chief spokesman for Israel’s Defense Ministry. “The moment we fail to react to one rocket we encourage them. Our only choice was to close the crossings when rockets came in.”
In addition, Israeli forces continued to attack Hamas and other militants in the West Bank, prompting Palestinian militants in Gaza to fire rockets. The Israeli military also found several dozen improvised explosive devices used against its vehicles on the Gaza border and about a dozen cases of sniper fire from Gaza directed at its forces.
While this back-and-forth did not topple the agreement, Israel’s decision in early November to destroy a tunnel Hamas had been digging near the border drove the cycle of violence to a much higher level. Israel says the tunnel could have been dug only for the purpose of trying to seize a soldier, like Cpl. Gilad Shalit, the Israeli held by Hamas for the past two and a half years. Israel’s attack on the tunnel killed six Hamas militants, and each side has stepped up attacks since.
Israel was actually hoping that the agreement would lead to progress on Corporal Shalit’s release, or at least to increased information on his condition or negotiations over an exchange for him. But Hamas said the Shalit case was entirely separate from the accord, just as Israel had rejected the request by Hamas to have the truce suspend attacks on its men in the West Bank. There, too, Hamas had hopes that the accord would create some changes that did not take place.
Israel’s focus on Corporal Shalit and Hamas’s focus on the West Bank are examples of why the agreement, without a text or enforcement mechanism, has been so problematic, with each side relying on its own desires rather than on mutually agreed steps. But given each side’s refusal to acknowledge the other’s legitimacy, another such accord of winks and nods seems the likely outcome of any coming negotiations.
Haaretz wrote:For the second time since Israel launched its offensive in the Gaza Strip, Hamas television aired a taped message delivered by group leader Ismail Haniyeh on Monday. In the message, Haniyeh declared that Hamas was determined to continue fighting despite Israel's military offensive in the Strip, but added that the group would be willing to cooperate in efforts to negotiate a cease-fire agreement with Israel.
"Gaza will not break - our victory over the Zionists is near," Haniyeh said in a fiery speech. "Our fate is in the hands of Allah, so what power could the sons of Zion against him? Allah will take his revenge on them."
Haniyeh first appeared on Hamas television some two weeks ago, saying that Israel's operation in Gaza was paramount to genocide of the Palestinian people. Haniyeh and other senior Hamas officials have gone into hiding since Israel launched its operation on December 27.
Meanwhile Monday, other Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip declared victory to be "closer than ever."
In a statement distributed to news organizations, the Hamas cabinet said it continued to function as a government and condemned Israel for its "reoccupation" of Gaza, saying the invading forces would soon be repelled.
"We confirm to our people that victory is closer than ever," the statement read. "We confirm our intention to continue to work to stop the terrorists' war against our people, end the siege completely and bring about a reopening of the crossings."
A report in Reuters on Monday quoted unnamed sources in Lebanon close to Hamas as saying the group would not accept ceasefire efforts that include a long-term truce with Israel.
Israel launched its offensive on Dec. 27 saying it intended to put a stop to Hamas' firing of rockets across the border into southern Israeli towns and cities.
Following several days of aerial bombardment, Israeli troops and tanks launched a ground offensive, moving in on the major population centres, including the city of Gaza.
Some 900 Palestinians, including some top Hamas commanders, have been killed in the assault, according to Palestinian medics and the Islamist movement.
Hamas, which came to power in Gaza after elections in 2006 and subsequently seized control of the territory of 1.5 million people, said it would remain steadfast.
Herosbane wrote:Treading carefully...
Mell, do you think that the fact that you grew up being told that you were a member of a persecuted minority makes you more suspicious? Or, maybe not being told, but hearing stories around the house, and making the conclusion yourself. Not to debate that the Jews have been persecuted, I totally believe that. I'm just wondering if you think that this is something that you have experienced to personally that it imprinted on you, or something you picked up socially? Lately I've been trying to be very conscious about my choices of what to believe, and not just bending to something that I've been told, or believed for a long time. I don't think that believing something for a long period of time makes it more believable, or shouldn't anyway.
I suppose what I'm getting to, in the end, is that I don't want a truly persecuted generation to pass down the jumpyness and fearful outlook that they were forced to adopt in a dark time to a new generation. I don't want you to be fearful because of what happened generations ago on the other side of the globe.
Sorry if I'm pulling this thread too close to the personal. This is just where my thoughts ended up after this thread.
Kaz wrote:You're right, Melli. I realize it now. I have fallen prey to the endless pro-Palestinian propaganda, fueled by an immensely well-funded lobby, served by an army of pundits omnipresent on every mainstream news channel and ever ready to rationalize every little action Palestine does with rarely anyone to propose an opposing viewpoint (competently, anyway), virtually unchallenged by the public at large because it continuously and shamelessly exploits one of the most tragic events in human history in which 6 million Palestinians were massacred.
Wait... these things don't exist.
Kaz wrote:No nation-state of Palestine will ever be established as long as Israel continues to enjoy unlimited US funding and backing and suffers no meaningful political or economical consequences for their actions: that is my point and that is exactly the goal of Israel. Because to do so, and to acknowledge Palestinians as a people rather than a collection of individuals to be dealt with on a case by case basis, would legitimize their claims over the land, claims that zionism itself, the whole philosophy behind the establishment of the state of Israel, rejects completely. The whole land belongs to Jews and Jews alone. This is why Israel has consistently refused to negotiate in any meaningful far-reaching long-term fashion with Palestinians. They wouldn't do it with Fatah because they weren't elected, they won't do it now with Hamas because they're "terrorists". Watch them find another convenient excuse for the next group. And America, Canada, Europe, will swallow it up without asking questions. And Palestinians will continue to live destitute and powerless at the whims of a belligerent state hopelessly more powerful than they are, while Israelis continue to enjoy living in their wealthy western nation in the middle of the middle east, one of the safest in the whole world, 3 times safer than the US (terrorist strikes included).
Kaz]"Illegal tunnels" is hilarious. How dare does an imprisoned people try to find ways around the cage unjustly imposed on them? "Hey guys we're going to break the ceasefire for something not related to the ceasefire!" "There you go, you made me break the ceasefire! It's all your fault." I gotta admit it's impressive how instinctively and effortlessly Israelis can claim to be victims with a straight face.[/quote]
They tunneled into Israel towards a military base. Doesn't sound like they were just trying to grab some bread, especially since the tunnels going into Egypt are far safe (despite the fact that you continuously ignore the fact that Egypt blocks off the Palestinians so they don't have to deal with refugees). Going into Israel is a straight up violation of the cease-fire, but I guess that doesn't matter when you refuse to see your side as ever being to blame.
[quote="Kaz wrote:Israel is unwilling to compromise. Hamas has repeatedly stated to anyone who would listen (as well as bought full page ads in western newspapers!) they were willing to negotiate long term peace if Israel would concede the Israel/Palestine borders as accepted by every member nation of the UN. Well, except 2 of them. Try to guess which. Israel? Not interested. Not negotiating with terrorists and blah blah blah.
Kaz wrote:But even if you're right, even if I take the huge leap of logic and accept "both sides are more or less equally guilty" and all that, one of the sides is poor and powerless with little to no meaningful outside support. The other is rich and powerful with strong outside support. From a human point of view, which one should you empathize with more than the other? Which one should make more effort to make peace work? Which one should more carefully measure the actions they make? Assuming of course they see the other side as just as human as they are.
Kaz wrote:Ah yes, the classic "it's not as brutal as the Holocaust therefore it's not a genocide!" Do you know what a genocide is? It's the systemic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group. Rounding them up and gassing them is one way to do it, but it's not very subtle especially in the information age and you'll get terrible PR and no support that way. Much better to paint yourself as the victim to deflect criticism while you slowly but surely ensure the complete destruction of the enemy. Remember how I told you gay marriage would only be accomplished without fierce opposition if it was done in baby steps? Seems that it's the same for a genocide.
Kaz wrote:The fact that you cannot draw parallels between two similar events only because the actors are different marks you as a nationalist and not the rational and neutral observer you claim to be. But you're right, I'm the despicable and mentally defective one here. By default I care about humans, not a particular subset of them. I side with the poor and the suffering over the rich. I feel compelled to defend those that can't do it themselves. Someone shoot me.
Thomas Friedman wrote:I have only one question about Israel’s military operation in Gaza: What is the goal? Is it the education of Hamas or the eradication of Hamas? I hope that it’s the education of Hamas. Let me explain why.
I was one of the few people who argued back in 2006 that Israel actually won the war in Lebanon started by Hezbollah. You need to study that war and its aftermath to understand Gaza and how it is part of a new strategic ballgame in the Arab-Israel arena, which will demand of the Obama team a new approach.
What Hezbollah did in 2006 — in launching an unprovoked war across the U.N.-recognized Israel-Lebanon border, after Israel had unilaterally withdrawn from Lebanon — was to both upend Israel’s longstanding peace strategy and to unveil a new phase in the Hezbollah-Iran war strategy against Israel.
There have always been two camps in Israel when it comes to the logic of peace, notes Gidi Grinstein, president of the Israeli think tank, the Reut Institute: One camp says that all the problems Israel faces from the Palestinians or Lebanese emanate from occupying their territories. “Therefore, the fundamental problem is staying — and the fundamental remedy is leaving,” says Grinstein.
The other camp argues that Israel’s Arab foes are implacably hostile and leaving would only invite more hostility. Therefore, at least when it comes to the Palestinians, Israel needs to control their territories indefinitely. Since the mid-1990s, the first camp has dominated Israeli thinking. This led to the negotiated and unilateral withdrawals from the West Bank, Lebanon and Gaza.
Hezbollah’s unprovoked attack from Lebanon into Israel in 2006 both undermined the argument that withdrawal led to security and presented Israel with a much more vexing military strategy aimed at neutralizing Israel’s military superiority. Hezbollah created a very “flat” military network, built on small teams of guerrillas and mobile missile-batteries, deeply embedded in the local towns and villages.
And this Hezbollah force, rather than confronting Israel’s Army head-on, focused on demoralizing Israeli civilians with rockets in their homes, challenging Israel to inflict massive civilian casualties in order to hit Hezbollah fighters and, when Israel did strike Hezbollah and also killed civilians, inflaming the Arab-Muslim street, making life very difficult for Arab or European leaders aligned with Israel.
Israel’s counterstrategy was to use its Air Force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future.
Israel’s military was not focused on the morning after the war in Lebanon — when Hezbollah declared victory and the Israeli press declared defeat. It was focused on the morning after the morning after, when all the real business happens in the Middle East. That’s when Lebanese civilians, in anguish, said to Hezbollah: “What were you thinking? Look what destruction you have visited on your own community! For what? For whom?”
Here’s what Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, said the morning after the morning after about his decision to start that war by abducting two Israeli soldiers on July 12, 2006: “We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not.”
That was the education of Hezbollah. Has Israel seen its last conflict with Hezbollah? I doubt it. But Hezbollah, which has done nothing for Hamas, will think three times next time. That is probably all Israel can achieve with a nonstate actor.
In Gaza, I still can’t tell if Israel is trying to eradicate Hamas or trying to “educate” Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population. If it is out to destroy Hamas, casualties will be horrific and the aftermath could be Somalia-like chaos. If it is out to educate Hamas, Israel may have achieved its aims. Now its focus, and the Obama team’s focus, should be on creating a clear choice for Hamas for the world to see: Are you about destroying Israel or building Gaza?
But that requires diplomacy. Israel de facto recognizes Hamas’s right to rule Gaza and to provide for the well-being and security of the people of Gaza — which was actually Hamas’s original campaign message, not rocketing Israel. And, in return, Hamas has to signal a willingness to assume responsibility for a lasting cease-fire and to abandon efforts to change the strategic equation with Israel by deploying longer and longer range rockets. That’s the only deal. Let’s give it a try.
Human Rights Watch wrote:(Jerusalem, January 10, 2009) - Israel should stop using white phosphorus in military operations in densely populated areas of Gaza, Human Rights Watch said today. On January 9 and 10, 2009, Human Rights Watch researchers in Israel observed multiple air-bursts of artillery-fired white phosphorus over what appeared to be the Gaza City/Jabaliya area.
Israel appeared to be using white phosphorus as an "obscurant" (a chemical used to hide military operations), a permissible use in principle under international humanitarian law (the laws of war). However, white phosphorus has a significant, incidental, incendiary effect that can severely burn people and set structures, fields, and other civilian objects in the vicinity on fire. The potential for harm to civilians is magnified by Gaza's high population density, among the highest in the world.
"White phosphorous can burn down houses and cause horrific burns when it touches the skin," said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch. "Israel should not use it in Gaza's densely populated areas."
Human Rights Watch believes that the use of white phosphorus in densely populated areas of Gaza violates the requirement under international humanitarian law to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian injury and loss of life. This concern is amplified given the technique evidenced in media photographs of air-bursting white phosphorus projectiles. Air bursting of white phosphorus artillery spreads 116 burning wafers over an area between 125 and 250 meters in diameter, depending on the altitude of the burst, thereby exposing more civilians and civilian infrastructure to potential harm than a localized ground burst.
Since the beginning of Israel's ground offensive in Gaza on January 3, 2009, there have been numerous media reports about the possible use of white phosphorous by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The IDF told both Human Rights Watch and news reporters that it is not using white phosphorus in Gaza. On January 7, an IDF spokesman told CNN, "I can tell you with certainty that white phosphorus is absolutely not being used."
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