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By Gareth Porter, IPS
WASHINGTON, Jan 9 (IPS) - Contrary to Israel's argument that it was forced to launch its air and ground offensive against Gaza in order to stop the firing of rockets into its territory, Hamas proposed in mid-December to return to the original Hamas-Israel ceasefire arrangement, according to a U.S.-based source who has been briefed on the proposal.
The proposal to renew the ceasefire was presented by a high-level Hamas delegation to Egyptian Minister of Intelligence Omar Suleiman at a meeting in Cairo Dec. 14. The delegation, said to have included Moussa Abu Marzouk, the second-ranking official in the Hamas political bureau in Damascus, told Suleiman that Hamas was prepared to stop all rocket attacks against Israel if the Israelis would open up the Gaza border crossings and pledge not to launch attacks in Gaza.
The Israeli army has spread flyers in the air in Gaza that give a number for Palestinians to call to report on Hamas activities. Here is the number. Everyone is invited to call it to protest the war on Gaza instead. From the U.S. you dial: 011-972-2-5839749
Earlier today, Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed a one-sided resolution supporting Israel for 'defending itself' from Hamas. Outrageous as this is, the House of Representatives will most likely do the same tomorrow, Friday.
Call your Representative NOW! to tell them to vote 'NO' on any resolution that fails to call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire -- as well as for unimpeded access for humanitarian aid into Gaza and a lifting of Israel's illegal siege.
Earlier, food shipments were suspended because of fighting
By msnbc.com news services
JERUSALEM - The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution Thursday calling for an immediate and durable cease-fire between Hamas militants and Israeli forces now fighting in the Gaza Strip.
The vote was 14-0, with the United States abstaining.
The vote followed three days of intense negotiations between ministers from key Arab nations and the council's veto-wielding Western powers — the United States, Britain and France. It came on the 13th day of an Israeli air and ground offensive against the Islamic group Hamas, which rules Gaza and has been launching rockets and mortars into southern Israel for years.
The United States, Israel's closest ally, and Arab nations that have close ties to Hamas negotiated the text of the resolution. But it will be up to Israel and Hamas to decide to stop their military activities.
WASHINGTON, Jan 8 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate voiced strong support on Thursday for Israel's battle against Hamas militants in Gaza, while urging a ceasefire that would prevent Hamas from launching any more rockets into Israel.
The chamber agreed on a voice vote to the non-binding resolution co-sponsored by Democratic and Republican party leaders in the chamber.
"When we pass this resolution, the United States Senate will strengthen our historic bond with the state of Israel, by reaffirming Israel's inalienable right to defend against attacks from Gaza, as well as our support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said before the vote.
An Unnecessary War
By Jimmy Carter, The Washington Post
I know from personal involvement that the devastating invasion of Gaza by Israel could easily have been avoided.
After visiting Sderot last April and seeing the serious psychological damage caused by the rockets that had fallen in that area, my wife, Rosalynn, and I declared their launching from Gaza to be inexcusable and an act of terrorism. Although casualties were rare (three deaths in seven years), the town was traumatized by the unpredictable explosions. About 3,000 residents had moved to other communities, and the streets, playgrounds and shopping centers were almost empty. Mayor Eli Moyal assembled a group of citizens in his office to meet us and complained that the government of Israel was not stopping the rockets, either through diplomacy or military action.
We are writing to invite you to sign the Campaign for Peace and Democracy statement "No More Blank Check for Israel: Statement on the Crisis in Gaza." Your signature will add to the impact of the statement at this crucial moment.
The text is below. If you would like to add your name or make a tax-deductible donation to publicize the statement, please go to our website www.cpdweb.org -- if for any reason you have difficulty at the website, just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please circulate the statement to your colleagues and friends.
Joanne Landy Tom Harrison
Co-Directors, Campaign for Peace and Democracy
No More Blank Check for Israel!
STATEMENT ON THE CRISIS IN GAZA
A group of New Jersey peace activists prepared an ad to appear in the Montclair Times, and we found ourselves in broad agreement with its content. We have modified the ad for use as a Campaign for Peace and Democracy sign-on statement.
The Senate could consider as early as today a resolution promoted by AIPAC intended to effectively endorse the continuation of the Israeli military assault in Gaza. (You can find the text of the draft resolution on AIPAC's web page.)
In particular, the resolution does not call for an "immediate ceasefire," but for a "durable and sustainable ceasefire," which is the Bush Administration's code for continuing the war - the excuse the Administration has given for why the war must go on. Nor does the resolution call for ending the blockade on Gaza, even though the blockade is also an act of war.
Call your Senators now. Urge them to insist that any resolution passed by the Senate call for an immediate ceasefire and for lifting the blockade on Gaza.
Israeli Military Prevents Emergency Ambulance Care for Four Days
WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 8, 2009) -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement on the House floor calling attention to a report in the Washington Post that the International Committee of the Red Cross has accused the Israeli military of preventing ambulances from reaching at least 15 emaciated people for four days:
In nearby houses in Gaza's devastated Zeitoun neighbourhood, the team found another three corpses and 15 survivors, including several who were wounded, the Geneva-based agency said. It accused Israel of delaying ambulance access to the area and said the Israeli army must have been aware of the situation but did not help the wounded, in violation of international law. "This is a shocking incident," said Pierre Wettach, ICRC chief for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
An actual Washington Post headline: Hamas Pulling Back Into Crowded Cities, Beckoning Israelis.
Israel has committed war crimes and should be prosecuted in an international court, says Raji Sourani, head of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza.
"The repeated bombing of clearly marked civilian buildings, where civilians were sheltering, crosses several red lines in regard to international law," Sourani told IPS.
Palestinian Authority (PA) delegate to Britain Professor Manuel Hassassian has said the PA will launch legal proceedings against Israeli leaders it says are responsible for war crimes in Gaza, according to a Palestinian news report.
The Quartet's Hypocrisy and Failure in Occupied Palestine
by Stephen Lendman
The Middle East Quartet includes the US, EU, Russia and the UN. It was formed in 2002 to seek "comprehensive security reform," mediate the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process," address Occupied Palestine's deepening humanitarian crisis, among other stated objectives.
On September 25, 21 aid and human rights organizations (called The Group below) issued a damning report on the Quartet's performance. Well before the current Gaza slaughter but with the Territory under siege, it cited:
- a continuing humanitarian crisis among people struggling to meet their basic needs;
- increasingly dependent on aid as their livelihoods are destroyed; and stressed that
- the "only sustainable solution to the crisis is a comprehensive peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians based on international law."
By Marjorie Cohn
Since Israel began its war on Gaza 11 days ago, more than 560 Palestinians – about a quarter of them civilians – have been killed. Some two thousand Gazans, including hundreds of children, have been wounded. Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” marks an escalation of Israel’s two-year blockade of the Gaza Strip which has deprived 1.5 million Palestinians of necessary food, medicine, fuel and other necessities.
Kucinich Requests Report to Congress
WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 6, 2009) – In light of press reports that Israeli forces fired on a United Nations school where civilians were taking shelter, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today sent notice to Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, that Israel’s actions in Gaza since December 27th, 2008 may constitute a violation of the requirements of the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 (AECA).
When the President is aware of the possibility of such violations, the AECA requires a report to Congress on the potential violation(s). The AECA outlines the conditions under which countries may use military articles or services obtained from the U.S. government, which include “internal security” or “legitimate self defense.”
In addition to four Israeli dead from Palestinian missiles, five Israeli soldiers are now dead in Gaza, at least four of them from "friendly fire." So, more Israelis have already died because of Israel's decision to slaughter Palestinians by the hundreds than had died in incidents alleged as the justification for this crime. When will they ever learn?
Presumably sometime after the U.S. media stops allowing them to use the presence of, and danger to, their occupying troops as a new justification for barbarism.
Far more civilians than Hamas fighters are arriving for treatment of war wounds at Gaza's main hospital as Israel's military incursion into the territory continues, two doctors say.
When the Israeli airstrikes began more than a week ago, the first casualties Shifa Hospital saw were fighters in military uniform, a Palestinian doctor said Monday.
"But after that day and until this day, we didn't receive any men from the resistance or anyone in the military," he said. "All of them were civilians."
I, like many others, watched helplessly as the bodies of "Jawaher" and "Dina" and "Samar" and "Ikram" and "Tahrir" were carried out of their destroyed house in "Block 5" of the Jabalya Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip. The five sisters were killed in their sleep after an Israeli missile struck a mosque adjacent to their house. Their small bodies covered in dust and stone, the cries of their bereaved parents, the shock of their surviving siblings; all of this continues to reverberate painfully in the imagination. But does pain still have the same meaning or significance during this time of great despair and useless anger?
WARNING: GRAPHIC PIC INSIDE
One definition of mental disease is when someone repeats the same
counter-productive behavior again and again and again and expects different results.
Which brings us to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
This time it's centered in Gaza, but the ramifications threaten to engulf
much of the Arab Middle East, and Iran, and possibly beyond the region.
Each side believes that with just a bit more violent pressure, one more
attack, one more mass bombing, one more unleashing of the dogs of war, the other
side will bend to its will.
In effect, each side is acting out of a belief that it can make The Other
simply disappear. The Palestinians, many Israelis want to believe, will migrate
Phyllis Bennis' Letter to the Editor of the NYTimes:
I believe the Israeli airstrikes are clear violations of international humanitarian law. While the Palestinian rocket fire against civilian targets in Israel may be illegal, that does not give Israel the right to violate the Geneva Conventions. The airstrikes represent:
If you're a Member of Congress, and your name doesn't happen to be Dennis J. Kucinich, can you still speak out in opposition to the carnage that President Bush and Secretary of State Rice are actively promoting in Gaza?
Yes, you can!
There are two key issues. Should the U.S. support an immediate ceasefire (international opinion) or should the U.S. insist that the violence continue (Bush Administration position.) Should the blockade on Gaza end (international opinion) or should it continue (Bush Administration position.) Of course, the blockade is also an act of war.
J Street reports (emphasis mine):
Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (Jan. 2): "the United States must work actively for an immediate ceasefire that ends the violence, stops the rockets, and removes the blockade of Gaza."
Congressman Joe Sestak (Jan. 2):
Global Human Rights Groups Protest Slaughter in Gaza
by Stephen Lendman
On June 16, 2008, noted Israeli historian Ilan Pappe explained "The Israeli Recipe for 2008: Genocide in Gaza, Ethnic Cleaning in the West Bank." He wrote:
"Not long ago, I claimed that Israel is employing genocidal policies in the Gaza Strip." After re-thinking this highly-charged term, he "concluded with even stronger conviction: it is the only appropriate way to describe what the Israeli army is doing in Gaza" because of its repeated atrocities now greater than ever.
Understanding the Gaza Catastrophe
by Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories | HuffingtonPost.com | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
Understanding the Gaza Catastrophe
For eighteen months the entire 1.5 million people of Gaza experienced a punishing blockade imposed by Israel, and a variety of traumatizing challenges to the normalcy of daily life. A flicker of hope emerged some six months ago when an Egyptian arranged truce produced an effective ceasefire that cut Israeli casualties to zero despite the cross-border periodic firing of homemade rockets that fell harmlessly on nearby Israeli territory, and undoubtedly caused anxiety in the border town of Sderot. During the ceasefire the Hamas leadership in Gaza repeatedly offered to extend the truce, even proposing a ten-year period and claimed a receptivity to a political solution based on acceptance of Israel's 1967 borders. Israel ignored these diplomatic initiatives, and failed to carry out its side of the ceasefire agreement that involved some easing of the blockade that had been restricting the entry to Gaza of food, medicine, and fuel to a trickle.
By Gareth Porter, IPS
WASHINGTON, Jan 5 (IPS) - Until mid-2007, there was a serious political obstacle to a massive conventional war by Israel against Hamas in Gaza: the fact that Hamas had won free and fair elections for the Palestinian parliament and was still the leading faction in a fully legitimate government.
But the George W. Bush administration helped Israel eliminate that obstacle by deliberately provoking Hamas to seize power in Gaza. That plan was aimed at getting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the democratically elected Hamas government -- something Bush had tried unsuccessfully to do for many months.
Blaming the Victims - The Dominant Media Vilify Hamas
by Stephen Lendman
The blame game - no one plays it better than the dominant media, and they're at it again over Gaza. Expect no comments below in their spaces, yet honest journalism would headline them.
After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt addressed Congress - with an appropriating updating for Gaza:
December 27 "will live in infamy." The people of Gaza were "suddenly and deliberately attacked by....air forces of the" State of Israel. The "attack was deliberately planned many (months) ago. During the intervening time (Israel) deliberately sought to deceive (Palestinians) by false statements and expressions of hope for" the peace process.
"The (weekend and continued) attack(s) caused severe damage to" property throughout Gaza. In addition, "many (Palestinian) lives have been lost. The facts (on the ground) speak for themselves....this "unprovoked and dastardly attack" must not go unanswered.
GENEVA (AFP) — Israel deliberately targeted Hamas-run media installations in its bombing campaign on Gaza and is practising media censorship, a journalist rights group said Monday.
The installations in question include Al-Aqsa television, Al-Resalah newspaper and Sawt Al-Aqsa radio, which the Israeli army bombed on December 28 and over the weekend respectively, the Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign said in a statement, citing a Palestinian media non-governmental group.
The press group, which fights for better protection of journalists in conflict zones, also condemned the recent deaths of two journalists as a result of Israeli attacks.
"Two Palestinian journalists were killed one in previous attacks by Israel, photographer Hamza Shahin,who died on 26 December 2008, and another during the current military round on 3 January, Omar Silawi.
Iranian TV newsman arrested for reporting on IDF's entry into Gaza
By Jonathan Lis and Gili Izikovich | Haaretz
An Iranian television reporter was arrested by Israeli authorities on Monday for a dispatch which broadcast news of the Israel Defense Forces' entry into the Gaza Strip.
The journalist is alleged to have violated military censorship laws which forbade the news media from releasing information during the initial stages of the ground incursion.
Israel is believed to be using controversial white phosphorus shells to screen its assault on the heavily populated Gaza Strip yesterday. The weapon, used by British and US forces in Iraq, can cause horrific burns but is not illegal if used as a smokescreen.