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The International Committee of the Red Cross is warning that despite a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, unexploded munitions in Gaza remain a threat.
Unexploded ordnance left in the wake of Israel's military campaign targeting Hamas militants are scattered around Gaza. ICRC officials say with the cease-fire in place, a number of people, especially children, are leaving their homes for the first time, running the risk of being killed or maimed by unexploded munitions scattered in civilian areas, the ICRC reported.
Gaza recovery in doubt as Israel pressures Hamas
By Adam Entous and Nidal al-Mughrabi | Reuters
Israel all but ruled out on Friday a full reopening of border crossings with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip any time soon, leaving a shaky ceasefire and post-war reconstruction in doubt.
While a U.N. official praised Israel's "goodwill" for letting some 120 truckloads per day of food and medicine into Gaza, diplomats decried restrictions on steel, cement and cash imports needed to make repairs from Israel's 22-day offensive.
Barring a swift change in Israeli policy, a senior Western diplomat said the emergency response and long-term reconstruction were "bound to fail."
Assessing the Aftermath in Gaza
Mosques Not Spared in Gaza War
Israel's prime minister has assembled a team to defend the country against charges of war crimes in its recent offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.
Ehud Olmert asked Israeli Justice Minister Daniel Friedman Thursday to lead an inter-ministerial team to prepare legal defenses for Israeli officials and military personnel.
Israeli Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz warned earlier this week that Israel may face a wave of international lawsuits over its 22-day offensive, which ended Sunday.
U.N. human rights expert Richard Falk said Thursday there is evidence that Israel violated humanitarian law by conducting the offensive, "against an essentially defenseless population." He called for an independent investigation to see if Israel committed war crimes.
Israel, Palestinian Authority Welcome Obama Plans for Peace
By Robert Berger | Voice of America
Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank have welcomed President Obama's announcement that he will "aggressively" pursue peace in the Middle East.
"It must instill in us a sense of urgency, as history shows us that strong and sustained American engagement can bridge divides and build the capacity that supports progress," he said.
Mr. Obama appointed former senator George Mitchell as Mideast envoy and said he would visit the region soon.
A new start with the Muslim world, as pledged by President Obama in his inaugural speech, has a sine qua non: a Palestinian settlement, a quest that has eluded the last five U.S. presidents. Following Israel's invasion of Gaza and its 22-day campaign of airstrikes, tank and artillery bombardment that left 1,300 Palestinians killed for the loss of only 13 Israeli soldiers, a Palestinian state remains a diplomatic chimera.
Yes, we now know the ever grimmer statistics: more than 1,400 dead Gazans (and rising as bodies are dug out of the rubble); 5,500 wounded; hundreds of children killed; 4,000 to 5,000 homes destroyed and 20,000 damaged -- 14% of all buildings in Gaza; 50,000 or more homeless; 400,000 without water; 50 U.N. facilities, 21 medical facilities, 1,500 factories and workshops, and 20 mosques reportedly damaged or destroyed; the smashed schools and university structures; the obliterated government buildings; the estimated almost two billion dollars in damage; all taking place on a blockaded strip of land 25 miles long and 4 to 7.5 miles wide that is home to a staggering 1.4 million people.
Rafah--Traffic on Sea Street, a major thoroughfare alongside Gaza's coastline, includes horses, donkeys pulling carts, cyclists, pedestrians, trucks and cars, mostly older models. Overhead, in stark contrast to the street below, Israel's ultra modern unmanned surveillance planes criss-cross the skies. F16s and helicopters can also be heard. Remnants of their deliveries, the casings of missiles, bombs and shells used during the past three weeks of Israeli attacks, are scattered on the ground.
Workers have cleared most of the roads. Now, they are removing massive piles of wreckage and debris, much as people do following an earthquake.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says it will open an investigation into Israel's alleged use of depleted uranium during the 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Wednesday's announcement came after Arab nations sent a letter to Mohammed ElBaradei, the IAEA director-general, asking the UN agency to investigate whether the controversial munitions were used in the war, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead.
Dr. Atallah, a physician in Gaza, invited us to meet him in his home in Gaza City, just a few blocks away from the Shifaa Hospital.
Early this morning, he and his family returned to their home after having fled five days earlier when the bombing attacks on Gaza City had become so fierce that they feared for their lives. "Believe me, when I would drive from the hospital to the place where my family was staying, I prayed all the way," said Dr. Atallah, "because the Israelis would shoot anyone on the roads at night."
Al Nakba Redux
by Stephen Lendman
For Palestinians, the Nakba "Catastrophe" is their "Holocaust" six-month slaughter and displacement before and after the May 1948 establishment of Israel. In December 1947, Jews in Palestine numbered 600,000 compared to 1.3 million Palestinians. David Ben-Gurion ordered them removed and for "Every attack....to end with occupation, destruction and expulsion."
He meant depopulation, destruction, mass slaughter, displacement, and erasing a proud people's history. Palestine was to become Israel. Most of the job was completed, more in 1967, and thereafter incrementally until total dispossession is achieved. Gaza is the latest battleground. More ahead is planned. The struggle for liberation continues.
In all respects, Gaza's situation is dysfunctional and calamitous. Consider the dire medical state alone.
On Monday, a group called Jews Against the Occupation staged a protest against Israel’s invasion of Gaza blocks away outside the Israeli consulate in New York. Among those protesting was renowned playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner. Kushner won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for his play Angels in America, which was later made into an award-winning television mini-series. “The policy, on the part of the Israeli government, of reoccupation of Gaza seems to me catastrophically misguided,” Kushner says. “I can’t imagine this is not going to continue to be bloody and a violation of human rights.”
The World Has Lost Its Conscience
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT 5:10 mins.
I do not like Hamas. I detest religious fundamentalism and the use of suicide bombers. I find the group's anti-Semitism and ruthless silencing of internal Palestinian opponents repugnant. The rocket attacks on Israeli civilians are a war crime. But this does not negate the legitimacy of Palestinian resistance to the long Israeli siege and occupation of Gaza.
The moral scum of any society rises to the surface in war. Those who have a penchant for violence and an access to weapons dominate the landscape. It was the criminal class and gangsters who first organized the defense of Sarajevo. It was the thugs of Gaza who took control to confront the Israeli army. This is nothing new in wartime. Violence is a disease, a disease that corrupts all who use it regardless of the cause. But there are moments when a people face the terrible tragedy of resistance or obliteration. This was true in Sarajevo. It is true for the Palestinians. It does not make it pretty or good. It is what happens.
Today in Solidarity We're All Palestinians
by Stephen Lendman
World outrage continues over Israeli war crimes and Washington's complicity. Gazans are now immortalized. Hamas is more popular than ever and remains resolute despite everything the IDF threw against it.
Democrats and Republicans share equal guilt. They fund Israeli state terror, are partnered in its aggression, and have collaboratively planned, supported, and/or agreed to it for the past 41 years. Continuity under Obama is assured. The current Gaza carnage is the worst since 1967. In spite of its "unilateral" ceasefire, sporadic Israeli attacks continue. The IDF merely redeployed. Gaza remains under siege, and human suffering is overwhelming and unrelieved.
ISRAEL THE MIGHTY
by Rick Burnley
Hey there, Israel the Mighty,
It seems you've lost your way,
And by the time you've finished with your blitzkrieg,
You're going to have Hell to pay
The Palestinians Say: 'This Is a War of Extermination'
by Ahdaf Soueif | Guardian UK
Everyone says something new is going on here; something different. The residents of Egyptian Rafah are used to the sounds of rockets and shells exploding on the other side of their border, but they've never heard the sounds they've been hearing over the last 20 days. Twenty-five miles further into Egypt the general hospital at el-Arish is used to receiving the Palestinian wounded. The staff have never seen injuries like these before. The hospital forecourt is swarming with ambulances, paramedics, press. The wounded are raced into casualty.
The Palestinians are mostly silent; each man working out where he finds himself and what he's going to do. Fearing for their wounded and fearing for those they've left behind, they are silent but unfailingly courteous.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT INSIDE
'Tungsten bombs' leave Israel's victims with mystery wounds
As it declares a unilateral ceasefire, Jerusalem faces a UN call for a war crimes investigation
By Raymond Whitaker | Independent UK
According to military databases, Dime bombs are intended for use where conventional weapons might kill or injure bystanders – to kill combatants in a house, for example, without harming people next door. Instead of being made from metal, which sprays shrapnel across a wide area, the casing is carbon fibre. Part of the motive for developing the bombs was to replace the use of depleted uranium, but Dr Fosse said the cancer risk from tungsten powde was well known. "These patients should be followed up to see if there are any carcinogenic effects," he said.
While the loudest controversy has been over accusations that white phosphorus was illegally used, other foreign doctors working in Gaza have reported injuries they cannot explain. Professor Mohammed Sayed Khalifa, a cardiac consultant from Sudan, said that two of his patients had had uncontrollable bleeding. "One had a chest operation, and continued bleeding even after having been given large quantities of plasma," he said. "The other had what seemed to be a minor leg injury, but collapsed with profuse bleeding. Something was interfering with the clotting process. I have never seen such a thing before."
UK Jewish MP: Israel Acting Like Nazis in Gaza
A cease fire in Palestine is the best news imaginable, except ...
When the people you're bombing have been demanding a cease fire for a long time, how can your cease fire be unilateral unless you consider your victims subhumans incapable of discourse?
The previous cease fire was supposed to also end the blockade.
The timing of the U.S. inauguration festivities kicking off is worrisome.
Those who began and continued the firing should go to prison, not be applauded for finally pausing.
By Lisa Schirch
WASHINGTON, DC - From an Israeli perspective, the cost in international outrage and Palestinian civilian lives of the current attacks on Gaza is worth the price of crushing Hamas’s firepower. The goal is seductive, and Israel will likely succeed in slowing the development of rockets by Hamas in the short term. But just like Israel’s siege of Lebanon in 2006, the Israeli “shock and awe” military strategy in Gaza will not undermine Hamas’s leadership or bring long term security.
Both Israel and Gaza have a right to defend themselves. But there is a difference between a right to defence and an effective strategy for ending the attacks and ongoing violence.
The key ingredients of Hamas’s rockets are not metal casings and bags of explosives brought through tunnels from Egypt, and then built and launched from Gazan garages.
Video. 27 minutes in you can hear Sam Husseini trying to ask a question and being cut off.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 15, 2009) -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to allow humanitarian organizations to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The resolution is currently cosponsored by Representatives Conyers, Ellison, Hinchey, Kaptur, McDermott, Rahall, Watson, and Woolsey.
The full text of the resolution is available HERE.
See a video message from Congressman Kucinich explaining the resolution HERE.
The transcript of the message follows: