UN chief demand stopping violence in Gaza, southern Israel
Israeli-Palestinian violence in Gaza pushed peace efforts to the sidelines as militants threatened revenge for Israeli attacks that killed at least 24 people over two days, and Palestinian moderates joined in condemning Israel.
In a botched attack on Wednesday, an Israeli missile hit the wrong vehicle, killing a 12-year-old boy, his father and uncle. Later Sunday, two militants were killed in an airstrike in central Gaza.
Ah violence that wonderful media phrase that places blame equally on both sides on both parties in a conflict. When the state attacks protesters its because of the threat of violence so they respond with real violence. When the army attacks a village it is because of the threat to them and they respond with violence.
No blame is placed on who engaged in the violence first. Police and Army fully decked out in protective gear, Kevlar bullet proof armour, shields, helmets, clubs, gas, rubber bullets and real ones, attack the unarmed unprotected protesters or villagers, like Knights of olde attacking the peasants.
In the case of Israel the reporting always is about how they are responding with violence because they have been attacked. But if you read between the lines what you see is that Israel has attacked Gaza consistently since last summer. It has refused to allow Palestinians free movement, it keeps them in the townships under curfew, it cuts of money, supplies, fuel and electricity.
Analysis: What now for Hamas?
Ever since the Hamas military takeover of Gaza in June, the territory has been subjected to an economic siege. Israel labelled the Hamas-controlled Gaza a "hostile entity".
In September 2007, Israel declared Gaza a 'hostile entity'; while in October it began a series of 'apparently punitive' measures, including large reduction of fuel supplies.
Since June2007, Israel has been imposing a strict closure on Gaza after Hamas has taken over Gaza amidst a power struggle with Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas, who embraces a peace strategy.
Gaza's last power station closes as Israel blocks supplies
Israel Blocks Supplies, Steps Up Gaza Airstrikes
Israel Closes Gaza Border Crossings
Israel closes Gaza Crossing to UN Aid and Kills 37 Palestinians
HOLON, ISRAEL, 20 January 2008 (IRIN) - With violence in the Gaza Strip and along Israel's southern border escalating, a small hospital in Israel offers a ray of hope for a handful of seriously ill Gazans.
"This child would have died without surgery," said Dr Alona Raucher-Sternfeld, as she simultaneously looked at the small Palestinian baby, Jamal, and the echo machine checking his heart.
Six-month-old Jamal came with his grandmother, Haifa, from the Dir al-Balah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip to get a check-up on 15 January at the Wolfson medical centre, an Israeli governmental hospital in Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv.
Jamal was operated on here when he was two months old, suffering from two heart defects. His tiny size further complicated the surgery, which was ultimately a success, the doctor said.
"When he came here, he was blue. It was an emergency," Raucher-Sternfeld said, reviewing the initial referral from Al-Awda hospital in Gaza.
The surgery, hospital stay and logistics in bringing him out of Gaza were coordinated and partially funded by Save a Child's Heart, an Israeli humanitarian organisation, with some European Union donations. In 2007, 128 Palestinian children from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, all suffering from heart conditions, were treated by the programme and the hospital.
However, even this organisation could not bend the tight restrictions at the Erez border crossing between Israel and Gaza. Jamal's 24-year-old mother is too young to be allowed out of the enclave, according to Israeli security regulations, and the grandmother was sent as an escort instead.
Col Nir Press, head of the Israeli coordination and liaison administration in Gaza, recently said Israel requires rigid security rules, as Palestinian militants have, in the past, taken advantage of permits issued for medical reasons. In 2004, for example, four Israeli soldiers at the Erez crossing were killed when a Palestinian patient blew herself up inside the terminal.
Press also said the number of permits to Israel issued for medical reasons had risen 50 percent in 2007 compared to the previous year. Some foreign aid workers said this was a result of the closure of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
Young people not allowed to leave Gaza
Sometimes, simple mistakes of clerks, or clogged up bureaucracy, cause problems.
One-year-old Shahed, from northern Gaza, came with her grandmother to the hospital late in the day. They had been held up at Erez for an extended period of time, as someone had mistakenly entered the wrong date on the permit application.
The aging woman collapsed on the floor as she finally reached the hospital waiting room, tears of exhaustion - but also relief- rolling down her cheeks. She said she ran around inside the Erez terminal, trying to speak with Palestinian and Israeli officials, explaining she had an appointment for the young baby, who recently had a pacemaker put in by the Wolfson surgical team.
"I have diabetes, I'm not strong" she said, breathing heavily, as Jewish and Arab hands helped her into a chair. Like all Palestinians, she brought with her a small but weighty valise, just in case the doctors would make them stay more than one day.
Shahed's 19-year-old mother and 20-year-old father have little chance of leaving the enclave.
It attacks with military raids, missile attacks and bulldozers used against the civilian population which it justifies as being attempts to control Hamas. These attacks on Gaza are often unprovoked, just Israeli occupation policy in practice.
When Hamas and others in occupied Gaza resist with ineffective rocket attacks, which kill no one, barely ever damage property, and basically end up landing in empty fields, this makes the news and is used by the Israeli propaganda machine to justify their continuation of more aggressive military occupation and suppression in Gaza.
Hamas fires over 160 rockets into Israel since Tuesday
Darkness falls on Gaza as Israel takes revenge for rocket attacks
More Palestinian civilians die daily in Gaza as Israeli rocket attacks miss their targets, if they were ever intended to actually hit a Hamas target, and hit wedding parties, or folks gathered in the market.
VOICES IN GAZA SCREAM OUT FOR HELP
Today, children were playing in the streets of Gaza, scores were rushed to hospital with blood pouring out of their little limbs, heads, eyes and nose…Israel bombed Gaza again.40 dead, 100 injured and out of the 100, 45 were children. 45 children not older than 10, soaked in blood. Their own.
More than 37 Palestinians, including at least 11 civilians, have been killed in air and artillery bombings since Israel launched the offensive on Tuesday.
Palestinians stand in front of a destroyed building of Hamas's Interior Ministry after it was targeted by an Israeli missile in Gaza Jan. 18, 2008. Israel closed border crossings with the Gaza Strip and destroyed the Hamas-run Interior Ministry on Friday in what witnesses said was an air strike, stepping up what it says is a campaign to halt Palestinian rocket attacks.(Xinhua Photo)
GAZA, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- One Palestinian woman was killed and 46 others were injured in a fresh Israeli strike near the abandoned headquarters of the Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza City on Friday, the Doha-based al-Jazeera Satellite Channel reported.
A letter from Gaza
1.5 millions in Gaza are punished collectively now
Dr. Medhat Abbas, Crisis management Palestinian Health Ministry
:: Article nr. 40285 sent on 21-jan-2008 01:10 ECT
When they do blow up a car full of Palestinians we can never be sure they were civilians because the Israeli propaganda machine informs the Western Media that they have successfully targeted and taken out a group of nameless faceless Hamas militants. In effect every Palestinian living in Gaza is a nameless Hamas militant.
Israeli missile strikes kill two Gaza militants
Israeli Troops Kill Militants in West Bank, Gaza in Separate AttacksFriday January 18, 2008 - 23:39Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, reported on Friday that detainee Fatima Al Ziq, from Gaza, delivered her baby, Yousef, in Kfar Saba Israeli hospital. She was subjected to harsh treatment while being transferred to the hospital and was cuffed.
This is not a war of defense as is often proclaimed by Israel and its apologists in the Bush and Harper governments, this is a war of aggression by Israel in territories it considers under its control.
According to the Shin Bet, Israel's domestic security service, fewer Israelis were killed by Palestinian attacks in 2007 than in any other year since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in late 2000. "The Good Year," proclaimed the daily Yediot Aharonot in a banner headline Jan. 1.
With the decline in attacks, the building of an Israeli separation barrier in the West Bank and the deepening isolation of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, the conflict is receding to the margins of consciousness of many Israelis.
It is a war of terror against the Palestinian peoples, and their counter attacks are then used to justify further violence by the Israeli state.It is not a measured response, it is a policy of hitting back with twice the strength and power to teach a lesson. However that lesson falls flat when you are the aggressor in the first place, the occupying power, the giver and taker of life. Like the Borg of Star Trek Israeli policy in Gaza is to remind Palestinians to accept their imprisonment and punishment for resistance is futile.
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter expressed a harsh reality to Sunday, warning that “without military deterrence in Gaza, Sderot could very well collapse.”
Dichter added that “the government must instruct the IDF to eliminate the rocket fire from Gaza entirely. These attacks need not be minimized or managed, but stopped completely irrespective of the cost to the Palestinians.”
The internal security minister noted that 180 Qassam Rocket have been fired at Gaza vicinity communities since the start of 2008. Referencing his recent visit to Sdeort he stated that “the weekend was absolutely terrible on them. After a draining week like that I would expect the IDF chief of staff to address the government as well.”
"We are impacting the overall quality of life in Gaza and destroying the terror infrastructure," said Barak.
As the cabinet meeting opened, Olmert praised IDF and Shin-Bet operations in the Gaza Strip, and noted that such strikes will continue.
Also during the cabinet meeting, Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim addressed the crisis in Gaza, precipitated by the blockade imposed on the Strip by the defense minister Thursday. This in light of persistent rocket attacks originating from the region.
“We should not manufacture a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Its residents are hostages of a deranged regime, but there is no real humanitarian crisis there,” said Boim. The housing minister also attacked the UN, which condemned Israel following the Gaza closure. “I don’t hear the UN speak out for residents of Gaza vicinity communities which have been living in the shadow of rocket salvos for weeks, months and even years,” he said.
The Bush visit to the Middle East further reinforced this message as did the visit on his coat tails of Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs; Maxime Bernier. Sure they promote a two state solution, but one of those states; Palestine will not be determined by the Palestinian people rather it will be a state designed for them by Israel and its allies. At best it will be a colony of Israel, what they once occupied with military force they will concede to the management of their selected Palestinian compradors.
Peres: Public will rule on any deal reached with Palestinians
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday accused Gaza's rulers of trying to destroy the Palestinian dream of statehood, saying the Islamist group's violent takeover of the coastal strip last June "destroyed and tries to destroy our dreams, future and national aspirations".
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) - The repeated bouts of Israel-Gaza fighting are fueled by a three-way standoff between Israel, the Islamic militant Hamas and moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, with none able to win the upper hand.
Only an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal or an Israeli reoccupation of Gaza would likely break through the deadlock.
Abbas and his aides, meanwhile, complain that Israel is using the Gaza quagmire as an unfair pressure tool in peace talks. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said peace talks cannot move forward unless the Palestinians halt rocket fire, a position endorsed by U.S. President George W. Bush in his recent visit.
Yet Olmert has not said how he expects Abbas to do what Israel has been unable to achieve.
Abbas aid Nabil Amr said Israeli negotiators routinely raise the Gaza issue whenever their Palestinian counterparts demand that Israel halt West Bank settlement expansion, as required under a U.S.-backed peace plan. «When we raise the settlements as a condition to continue (negotiations), they raise the legitimacy in Gaza,» Amr said. «The Israelis use it, and Abu Mazen (Abbas) cannot do anything because he is not there.
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