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Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
For those interested in keeping up with events in Palestine/Israel, there is no better digest than VTJP.

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27 December, 2008

Israeli air strikes kill 200 and leave 700 injured
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 12/28/2008
A massive wave of Israeli air strikes, launched yesterday against Hamas in Gaza, killed at least 205 people, according to Palestinian medical staff -- the highest death toll in a single day in the territory since the end of the 1967 Six Day War. Warplanes and combat helicopters launched their ferocious assault on the Islamic faction’s security compounds and rocket launching pads in what Israel said was a response to about 470 Qassam missiles and mortars, launched from Hamas-controlled Gaza since a five-month ceasefire began to break down in November. The sudden and unexpected strikes, the start of an operation which the Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, warned "won’t be easy and won’t be short", sent thick plumes of black smoke rising above Gaza City and triggered panic in some districts as parents frantically searched for children rushing home from school.

Commander: Operation will ’send Gaza decades back’
Uri Blau, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
In attacking Hamas’ regime in the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces will try to "send Gaza decades into the past" in terms of weapon capabilities while achieving "the maximum number of enemy casualties and keeping Israel Defense Forces casualties at a minimum," GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant said. Major General Galant, one of the key figures in the Israeli operation that began yesterday in the Gaza Strip, said this during discussions before the move. Israel’s aim in the operation will be to significantly damage Hamas’ leadership, tactical capabilities and smuggling routes, he said. Despite efforts to keep IDF casualties to a minimum, Galant said that once troops are actually sent after the enemy, "what will take precedence is the need to fulfill the mission. "He added, "Under no circumstance can we accept a norm that leaves missions unmet.

Gaza City hospital a gruesome scene; shocked families pick through body parts to identify loved ones
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Death shrouds the hallways of Gaza City’s Ash-Shifa medical compound Saturday, its smell creeping in from all corners. Amputated bodies are strewn throughout hallways because morgues in the city can no longer accommodate the deadIn one corner a man stands with his seven year old son in a cardboard box because the hospital ran out of sheets to cover the dead with. This is how he will carry him home and bury him. Another man stands dazed, in shock after watching his son Mohammed killed during his graduation ceremony at the de facto police headquarters. The father of one of Mohammed’s classmates stood next to his son as he was decapitated. The man is still screaming. In the packed hospital waiting room a mother sits silently staring into the distance; her son was pronounced dead shortly after she brought him in.

World reaction
The Observer, The Guardian 12/28/2008
"Hamas must end its terrorist activities if it wishes to play a role in the future of the Palestinian people. The United States urges Israel to avoid civilian casualties as it targets Hamas in Gaza. " - White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe / "We are very concerned at the events in Gaza. We call for an immediate ceasefire and urge everybody to exert maximum restraint. " - EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana / "We are facing a continuing spectacle which has been carefully planned. We face a major humanitarian catastrophe. " - Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa / "Egypt condemns the Israeli attacks. " - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak / "Iran strongly condemns the Zionist regime’s [Israel’s] wide-ranging attacks against the civilians in Gaza. The raids against innocent people are unforgivable and unacceptable. " - Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Qashqavi / "It is shock treatment

Most Hamas bases destroyed in 4 minutes
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Preparations nearly two years in the making were put into action yesterday as a two-wave offensive of 88 Israel Air Force fighter jets and helicopters delivered over 100 tons of explosives to approximately 100 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. Planning for the operation began in early 2007, but the operation was suspended amid tensions with Syria that lasted several months until the strike on September 6 destroyed its North Korean-built nuclear reactor. The Israel Defense Forces then raised its state of readiness last March, but after the Givati Brigade’s Operation Warm Winter in the Strip, the government decided to again postpone the air force operation. Still, planning continued even as a ceasefire was declared in June and the operation itself was temporarily shelved. Since then, in light of lessons learned during the Second Lebanon War, a "target bank" was compiled by. . .

IDF mobilizing tanks in event of Gaza ground incursion
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 12/28/2008
IDF prepares to intensify operation against Hamas infrastructure in Gaza, sending tanks and infantry reinforcements southward in preparation for possible ground incursion. Throughout day IAF carried out strikes on nearly 100 Hamas targets; Palestinian health officials putting death toll at 230 people -The Israeli Air Force struck a total of 100 Hamas targets in Gaza on Saturday with the launching of the operation dubbed ’Cast Lead. ’ Palestinian medical officials have reported at least 230 people killed in the Israeli strikes. The IDF has also begun mobilizing tanks and reinforcement infantry troops to the Gaza region in the event a ground incursion is ordered. In an interview with the British SKY network, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that ground forces would indeed enter the Strip if the move was deemed necessary by Jerusalem.

Hamas calls for third Intifada
Al Jazeera 12/28/2008
Meshaal says Hamas is open to reconciliation with Abbas - Khaled Meshaal, the political leader of Hamas, has called for Palestinians to wage a new intifada against Israel, including a return to suicide missions. In an interview on Al Jazeera, Meshaal said: "We called for a military intifada against the enemy. Resistance will continue through suicide missions. "Meshaal’s call came after Israel hammered Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, killing at least 220 people in one of the bloodiest days of the decades-long Middle East conflict. Meshaal said Hamas had accepted "all the peaceful options, but without results. "He said that for there to be any talks with the people of Gaza, "the blockade must be lifted and the crossings (from Israel) opened. . . notably that in Rafah," which leads to Egypt. Meshaal was referring to a blockade imposed on Gaza after Hamas seized control. . .

West Bank rises up in response to massacre in Gaza
Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 12/27/2008
In response to the bombing attacks that have left 205 people dead in Gaza, Palestinians across the West Bank and inside the ’48 have organized to protest the crimes. In almost every district, mass marches and clashes have occurred. The Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign has joined networks and committees such as the National and Islamic forces, the Committee against the Siege in the mobilizations that are rocking the entire West Bank. In Ramallah some 5,000 people headed the calls for demonstrations. Part of the demonstrators marched to the old road of el-Bireh, the location of the central offices of the so-called Civil Administration. The road, a site of daily confrontations at the beginning of the Second Intifada, was today again the site of heavy clashes. At the same time, in Qalandiya, the anger of the people erupted into violent confrontations against Occupation forces at the checkpoint.

Hundreds of Bethlehem residents demonstrate against the massacre in Gaza
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center News 12/27/2008
Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets in Bethlehem to protest the deadly Israeli airstrike against the Gaza Strip. The demostration was called for by the civil society organizations in the district. Bethlehem district, like many areas around the West Bank, had a large demonstration against the Israeli massacres in Gaza. The demonstration started at 5 PM in the square between the Church of the Nativity and Omar’s Mosque. Hundreds of people (Palestinians and Internationals) gathered and held a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Israeli aggression and heard some speeches from leaders in the community including the mayor of Bethlehem. Palestinians belonging to various factions were participants. The decision was made to begin marching towards the Red Cross. Chants and slogans called for Palestinian Unity, called for ending the futile negotiations. . .

Protests call for Palestinian unity
Al Jazeera 12/27/2008
Palestinians in the West Bank have demonstrated for unity between the rival factions, Fatah and Hamas, after Israeli air attacks on the Gaza Strip killed more than 155 people and wounded 200 others. Hundreds of Palestinians gathered in the centre of Ramallah in the West Bank on Saturday, some carrying banners reading: "We will not forget you, Gaza. "The Israeli bombardment also sparked rallies across the Arab world, including in Amman, the capital of Jordan, and Damascus in Syria. Hezbollah, the Lebanese movement which fought a 33-day war against Israel in the summer of 2006, called for a demonstration in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, later on Saturday. Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in neighbouring Jordan, said: "This is probably one of the most violent Israeli air campaigns against Gaza. . . "

Israel to mount emergency international PR effort in wake of Gaza campaign
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Saturday instructed the Foreign Ministry to take emergency measures to adapt Israel’s international public relations to the ongoing escalation in the Gaza Strip. Livni instructed senior ministry officials to open an aggressive and diplomatic international public relations campaign, in order to gain greater international support for Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip. Israel launched Saturday morning the start of a massive offensive against Qassam rocket and mortar fire on its southern communities, targeting dozens of buildings belonging to the ruling Hamas militant group. Palestinian medical sources said that at least 230 people had been killed in the strikes, which began at around 11:30 A. M. Livni instructed ministry officials currently on vacation in Israel to return immediately to their posts abroad, and to immediately mount public relations campaigns in their station countries, focusing on local media and public officials.

Foreign Min. starts massive PR move to raise int’l support
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
The Foreign Ministry yesterday began a broad range of public relations initiatives in order to boost international legitimacy for the Israel Air Force’s operations in the Gaza Strip. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni called several of her counterparts around the world, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the foreign ministers of Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana. "Hamas made a mistake when it thought Israel was weak and would not respond to the Qassam rocket fire," Livni told her counterparts by phone. "Israel will do whatever it takes to protect its citizens and end the rocket fire. "The White House yesterday responded to the events in Gaza, urging both sides not to harm citizens, yet refrained from calling on Israel to cease its strikes.

UN Ambassador Shalev defends IDF Gaza op in letter to Ban, UNSC head Staff, Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
In an urgent letter to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the head of the UN Security council, Israeli UN Ambassador Gabriela Shaleb on Saturday night defended Israel’s decision to embark on a military operation in the Gaza Strip in order to put an end to rocket attacks on the South. "Israel is taking the necessary military action in order to protect its citizens from ongoing terrorist attacks originating from the Gaza Strip and carried out by Hamas and other terrorist organizations," Shalev said, adding that Hamas "holds the sole responsibility for the latest events. " Israel, she continued, "has exhausted all means and efforts to reach and maintain quiet and to respect the state of calm"¦ Israel’s response is aimed solely against the terrorists and their infrastructures in the Gaza Strip.

U.S. demands Hamas end terrorist acts, urges Israel to avoid civilian casualties
Yoav Stern and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
The United States on Saturday urged Israel to avoid civilian casualties in air strikes on Gaza, and said Hamas must stop rocket attacks into Israel for the violence to cease. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put the responsibility for the violence on Hamas, saying "The United States strongly condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and holds Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence in Gaza. The cease-fire should be restored immediately. " Rice also called for the international community "to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the innocent people of Gaza" The White House did not call for an end to the Israel Air Force strikes that have killed at least 230 people in Hamas-ruled Gaza, according to Palestinian medical sources.

Palestinian politicians condemn Gaza attacks, call Israeli move 'bloody massacre'
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – All Palestinian sides have condemned the Israeli attacks on Gaza, calling the action a “massacre,” and encouraging Palestinian factions to rally in support of the people in the Strip. Communicating through his spokesperson Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he "condemns the Israeli attacks against the Gaza Strip. ” His spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh added that Abbas "calls on the Israeli government to stop these attacks immediately, and to stop such massacres. " Member at the executive committee for the PLO Taysir Khaled accused Israel of using weapons in Gaza that are banned internationally and condemned the Israeli attack. He called for immediate intervention to stop the military action, which he said has been in the works for months. The Jenin branch of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades sent a statement saying their fighters “would not be handcuffed,” and would retaliate “in the right place at the right time.

Senior Fatah leader denounces Israeli attacks on Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – A senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) denounced the Israeli airstrikes that on Saturday killed over 200 men, women and children. Zakarieyah Al-Agha, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, of PLO condemned the attacks that have now reportedly killed at least 200 people, in addition to injuring hundreds others. He called the attacks “state terrorism” and “a genocide carried out by the Israeli government,” which is currently headed by outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He noted in a statement that the aim of the Israeli attacks is to “change the standards of the political game” to create new facts on the ground. He added that “Israel is the only state that violates UN resolutions, refusing to implement them and continues targeting civilians. ”He urged the international community to take responsibility in forcing. . .

PA Embassy in Egypt: Leaders did all they could to prevent attacks
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem- Ma’an – Egypt and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas went to great efforts to avert the Gaza attack, said a statement from the Palestinian embassy in Egypt on Saturday. The statement denounced the Israeli air strikes on Gaza saying “despite the huge efforts made by President Mahmoud Abbas and [Egyptian President] Hosni Mubarak to stop Israel from carrying out this grotesque crime, Israel insisted on going on with its offensive after putting the siege to its maximum limits. ”The embassy called for an active response to stop the Israeli leadership from continuing its attacks on the Palestinians. It urged US elect President Barack Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and all world leaders to act urgently and stop the massacre.

PA ’ready’ to take Gaza if Hamas ousted
Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah said Saturday that they were prepared to assume control over the Gaza Strip if Israel succeeds in overthrowing the Hamas government. "Yes, we are fully prepared to return to the Gaza Strip," a top PA official told The Jerusalem Post. "We believe the people there are fed up with Hamas and want to see a new government. " Another PA official said Fatah had instructed all its members in the Gaza Strip to be prepared for the possibility of returning to power. "We have enough men in the Gaza Strip who are ready to fill the vacuum," he said. "But of course all this depends on whether Israel manages to get rid of the Hamas regime. " [end]

Palestinian prime minister condemns Israeli airstrikes
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad condemned the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip and called on Israel to stop operations there "immediately. " Fayyad assured that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is making contact with to force the military to stop such attacks against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Fayyad announced a state of alert and called on ambulance and medical staff to prepare to rescue Palestinians in Gaza. He called for all doctors to rush to hospitals to rescue injured Palestinians. [end]

Fatah in Hebron condemns Israeli attacks; organizes blood drive to save Gazan lives
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Three days of mourning for the Gaza dead and a general strike have been declared by Hebron’s Fatah party. Fatah will organize a mass blood drive to support the beleaguered hospitals in Gaza and ensure as many Palestinian lives as possible are saved. “Israel is committing Holocaust in the Gaza Strip,” Fatah spokesperson in Hebron Jihad Al-Qawasmi said Saturday. “Israel is violating international laws under protection of the international community,” he added in a statement condemning the Israeli actions. [end]

Palestinian Ambassador in Austria appeals for urgent EU intervention in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Ambassador to Austria Zuheir Al-Wazir appealed to the Austrian government to immediately intervene to stop the Israeli massacres committed against the Palestinians in Gaza. Al-Wazir said Austria could urge the EU countries to play an important role in the Palestinian crisis and stop the Israeli attacks on Gaza. Senior officials in the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed deep concern over developments in the region and said the Minister is working on a statement on the issue. [end]

PLO: Now is the time for Palestinian unity
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an - Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Executive Board, called on Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem to unite in face of deadly Israeli airstrikes. In a news conference, Rabbo called on national forces to unite in the face of Israeli attacks and rush to rescue the injured. He called for unity in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, adding, ”Now it is time to unite. ”[end]

Abbas heads to Saudi Arabia for meeting with king
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday departed for Saudi Arabia to meet with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz in Ar-Riyad. Talks between the king and president will focus on the Palestinian situation and both states’ relations, as well as regional and international interests. [end]

Air strikes in Gaza kill 225 as Israel targets Hamas
Toni O'Loughlin in Jerusalem, Hazem Balousha in Gaza and Toby, The Guardian 12/28/2008
Israel stood defiant last night in the face of mounting international condemnation, as it vowed to continue a massive bombing offensive against key targets in the Gaza Strip that left 205 dead and 700 others injured. As world leaders called for an immediate end to the biggest air assault on Gaza since 1967, Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, refused to rule out a ground invasion in the next few days saying that the retaliation against rocket attacks by Hamas had only just begun. "It won’t be easy and it won’t be short," said Barak. "There is a time for calm and a time for fighting, and now the time has come to fight. " Asked if a ground invasion would be the next move, as bomb attacks continued into the night, Barak said: "I do not exclude anything as long as the result has not been achieved. " A flight of Israeli F-16 fighters fired at least 30 missiles during air strikes against Hamas positions in Gaza.

IAF strike followed months of planning
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Gathering intelligence, disinformation played key role in strike at Hamas in Gaza - Long-term planning, meticulous intelligence-gathering, secret discussions, visual deception tactics and disinformation preceded operation "Cast Lead" which the Israel Air Force launched yesterday in Gaza to take out Hamas targets in the Strip. The disinformation effort, according to defense officials, took Hamas by surprise and served to significantly increase the number of its casualties in the strike. Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. According to the sources, Barak maintained that although the lull would allow Hamas to prepare for a showdown with Israel, the Israeli army needed time to prepare, as well.

IDF surprises Hamas with largest Gaza operation since 1967; at least 225 killed
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Israel launched a massive aerial offensive yesterday morning against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. At least 225 Palestinians were killed, most of them Hamas operatives, and 750 wounded. A 58-year-old Israeli, Bebert Vaknin of Netivot, was killed in a direct strike by a Grad Katyusha-type rocket on his home, and six others were wounded. Israel is preparing for an operation expected to last several weeks, during which up to 200 Qassam rockets each day are expected to be fired from the Strip onto the communities of the western Negev. "Operation Cast Lead" began around 11:30 A. M as 64 aircraft delivered over 100 tons of explosives on 50 to 100 Hamas targets in the Strip. The first wave lasted 3 minutes and 40 seconds with Palestinians reporting 205 killed and hundreds wounded. Shortly thereafter, 24 additional aircraft struck launch sites and other targets in the northern Strip.

Rocket kills Netivot man, six wounded
Yanir Yagna and Noah Kosharek, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Palestinian militants yesterday fired over 64 rockets at Israel, killing one civilian and wounding six others, following Israel’s launching a large-scale aerial offensive in the Gaza Strip earlier in the day. Bebert Vaknin, 58, was killed and four others wounded - including two seriously - when two Grad missiles scored direct hits on houses in the town of Netivot. In the Kiryat Gat area an 80-year-old man was lightly wounded on his way to synagogue when he was hit by shrapnel from a Grad missile landing nearby. Power outages in the area were reported after another missile hit the power grid. Be’er Sheva braced for the possibility of being targeted for the first time by Palestinian militants armed with rockets with an improved range. Mayor Rubik Danilovitch oversaw the opening of an emergency operations room and the preparation of the city’s bomb shelters.

Man killed in rocket strike
Ilana Curiel, YNetNews 12/27/2008
58-year-old Beber Vaaknin killed when Gaza rocket hits apartment building in Netivot. Residents in south ordered to remain in bomb shelters as IDF op continues - Terror groups fire at Israeli communities: 58-year-old Beber Vaaknin was killed and five other Israelis sustained light to serious wounds after rockets hit a synagogue in Eshkol Regional Council as well as an apartment building in Netivot, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said. The direct hit on the synagogue seriously wounded a man who had been inside, and rescue services had to drag him from the rubble. Another man was lightly injured in the attack. Another rocket fired from Gaza landed on a power line, causing a power failure in three Israeli towns. Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for the deadly attack in Netivot.

VIDEO - Kassam shrapnel kills Netivot man
Abe Selig, Jerusalem Post 12/27/2008
In response to Saturday’s IAF air strikes on Hamas in Gaza, Palestinians fired over 80 rockets and mortar shells at areas throughout the western Negev. In Netivot, 58-year-old Beber Vaknin was killed and five people were wounded - one seriously - when their house was hit by a rocket. All the wounded were evacuated to Beersheba’s Soroka Hospital. "After the first rocket landed, people wanted to see what had happened," one of Vaknin’s neighbors told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night. "He went outside to look around when the rocket hit, and he was killed by the shrapnel. The medics said the shrapnel pierced his heart. " Vaknin was unmarried and held a clerical position in the southern town. - VIDEO - Dozens of Kassam rockets fired at Israel in wake of IAF attack

Hundreds die in Israel raid on Gaza
Al Jazeera 12/27/2008
At least 220 Palestinians, including women and children, have been killed in an Israeli aerial bombardment on Hamas security installations. Israel launched air attacks across the besieged Gaza Strip on Saturday, threatening that further operations would be carried out. Emergency services said that at least 700 people had been wounded. Witnesses reported heavy damage as at least 30 missiles were fired. Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, said that the operation would not be short. "The operation will go on and be intensified as long as necessary," he said on Saturday. An Israeli military spokesman added that any "Hamas target is a target". As dusk fell, Israel continued to bomb the strip, firing on a metal foundry in the south.

Report from ISM Gaza Strip as Israeli rockets hit Gaza
Sharon from Australia, International Solidarity Movement 12/27/2008
3pm from Gaza city - I was at home beside the small Gaza port, eating a bread and jam breakfast, when the rockets began to fall at about 11am. Six or seven deafening explosions occurred not far from my building, which rocked from the impact, smoke and dust filling the air. This occurred just as the children were on the streets walking back from school, and when I went out onto the stairs, a terrified 5 year old girl ran sobbing into my arms. Vik (Italy) later ascertained that these rockets had targeted the port police station, and also the "President’s Palace" nearby, killing about 20. At the time of the attacks, Eva (Canada) was on Omar Mukhtar street where a police station had just been hit, and witnessed a last rocket hit the street 150 m away where crowds had already gathered to try to extract the dead bodies.

Israeli Ministry of Defence make threatening phone call to residents of Rafah on the day that Israel kills at least 225 Palestinians
International Solidarity Movement 12/27/2008
27th December 2008 - A family in Rafah say they have received a menacing phone call from the Israeli Ministry of Defence, warning that "any house that has guns or weapons will be targeted next without further warning or any announcement". At the end of a day where Israeli air-strikes killed at least 225 Palestinians in Gaza, with hundreds more injured, residents of Rafah were then subject to further threats from the Israelis. According to international Human Rights activists based in the area, the aggressive communication has caused widespread panic as the family called neighbours to find out if they had received the same call. Palestinian Human Rights Activist Fida Qishta said: " We received a call at about 9:45pm from the Israeli Ministry of Defence. It said that any house with guns or weapons would be targeted next.

Israel launches massive air raid on Gaza
Middle East Online 12/27/2008
GAZA CITY - Israel launched a massive wave of air strikes on Gaza on Saturday, killing at least 205 Palestinians, officials said. It was not immediately clear how many of those killed were civilians, with medics saying that over a third of the victims appeared to be Palestinian civilians. At least 205 Palestinians were killed and some 300 others wounded, 120 of them seriously in the attacks, said Dr Moawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza emergency services. "The toll has gone up because of new Israeli raids and the discovery of several martyrs under the rubble," he explained. The mid-morning wave of attacks saw some 60 aircraft bomb the impoverished, overcrowded territory. There was no space left in the morgue and bodies were piled up in the emergency room and in the corridors, as many of the wounded screamed in pain.

Gaza-based foreigners witness catastrophic violence
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Human rights workers stationed in the Gaza Strip documented Palestinian and international reactions to the aftermath of afternoon Israeli airstrikes that left over 200 Palestinians dead on Saturday. Due to Israel’s policy of denying access to international media, human rights workers and aid agencies to the Gaza Strip, many international representatives arrived with the Free Gaza Movement’s boats, which have broken the Israeli siege five times in the past. "The morgue at the Ash-Shifa Hospital has no more room for dead bodies, so bodies and body parts are strewn all over the hospital. "- Dr. Haidar Eid, professor, Al-Aqsa University - "This is incredibly sad. This massacre is not going to bring security for the state of Israel or allow it to be part of the Middle East. Now calls of revenge are everywhere. "

Ongoing Israeli offensive in Gaza; 225 killed over 700 wounded, Israel prepares for further attacks
Saed Bannoura Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/27/2008
As instructed by its political leadership, the Israeli army continued its military offensive against the Gaza Strip and shelled further targets raising the number of deaths among the residents to 225, and at least 700 residents were wounded, dozens seriously. The Qatar-based Al Jazeera News Satellite news Agency said that the simultaneous and ongoing Israeli strikes also targeted a mosque, the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, and dozens of civilian homes and facilities. At least 40 security centers were simultaneously hit; some centers were repeatedly hit which increased the number of casualties as the residents and medics rushed to evacuate the wounded and the casualties before the Israeli force struck the same targets again AL Shifa hospital in Gaza, the main hospital in central Gaza, is overloaded with killed and wounded residents.

A Bloody Day in Gaza
Sameh A. Habeeb, Palestine Think Tank 12/27/2008
Gaza Strip, 27 Dec, 2008- Saturday morning started as usual but dramatically changed by 11AM. Sixty Israeli F16s bombarded around 100 police stations, civil and governmental offices across Gaza Strip. The bombardment which simultaneously took place left (at the time of writing)160 people killed and around 3 hundred wounded. A number of wounded is expected to die while many corpses still lie under the rubble of buildings. Palestinian victims were an amalgamation of policemen and civilians who were visiting some police stations for civic affairs. Al Jawazat police station witnessed the bloodiest Israeli attack in which around 70 were killed, mostlypolicemen. The victims of police of Al Jawzat were holding a graduation ceremony for new young police groups. A family of 9 members, 15 young children, and some women were killed but not recognized.

Israeli airstrikes kill 205 Palestinians in Gaza
IMEMC Source, International Middle East Media Center News 12/27/2008
Palestinian medical sources reported that the number of Palestinians killed in the Israeli airstrike against the Gaza Strip Saturday afternoon stands at 205, including policemen, women and children. Over 400 were reportedly wounded in the airstrike. Earlier reports said that 140 were killed as 60 Israeli jet fighters launched a simultaneous attack hitting around 50 locations in different parts of the Gaza Strip. The deadly airstrike came during rush hour, as school children were going home from schools and Palestinian Police officers were celebrating their graduation, which explains the high number of casualties. As of the time of writing, Israeli war plans were reportedly hovering over the Gaza Strip. Palestinian hospitals in the Gaza Strip declared high alert and are calling upon people to donate blood in order to be able to aid the high number of injuries.

Hundreds killed in a series of bloody IOF air raids on Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 12/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Israeli warplanes on Saturday launched a series of bloody air raids on the Gaza Strip that left at least 120 people killed and 200 others wounded. Witnesses described the intensified raids as a "real war" where they targeted almost all security headquarters in the Strip killing scores of Palestinians. They said that IOF F-16s raided residential neighborhoods in north, central and south of the Gaza Strip, noting that the raids coincided with the students’ return to their homes from school. Medical sources said that a preliminary estimate indicates that 120 people were killed and hundreds injured including women and children. Locals said that the raids did not cease and devastation was immense, noting that the series of air raids were not witnessed before on the Strip. The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, declared full alert, vowing never to surrender.

230 killed as Israel rains fire on Hamas in the Gaza Strip
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 12/27/2008
In the heaviest military strike against the Gaza Strip since the 1967 Six Day War, the Israel Air Force bombed over 170 targets on Saturday, killing more than 230 Palestinians, as Israel launched "Operation Cast Lead," aimed at putting a stop to Hamas rocket attacks against the South. In two waves, over 100 fighter jets and attack helicopters dropped dozens of smart bombs and hundreds of tons of explosives on Hamas training camps, headquarters, weapons storehouses, underground missile silos and command-and-control centers scattered throughout the Gaza Strip. In response, 80 Kassam rockets, Grad-model Katyushas and mortar shells pounded southern Israel throughout the day. One rocket scored a direct hit on an apartment building in Netivot, killing 58-year-old Beber Vaknin and wounding several others. - VIDEO - Barak says ’now is the time to fight’; Livni explains Israel’s stance to Int’l community

Israeli airstrikes continue on Gaza; 228 Palestinians dead, 700 injured
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli airstrikes continue to bombard Gaza and Palestinian military factions launch homemade projectiles at Israeli targets. The toll for Saturday’s violence is 228 Palestinians dead and around 700 injured. Medical sources say most victims are arriving to Gaza City hospitals in “pieces,” while Israeli sources reported one dead, five injured. Two massive waves of airstrikes dropped 100 bombs on Gaza at 11:30 and a second at approximately 2pm. Smaller strikes hit northern Gaza at 5:30 and 8pm. Israeli strikes targeted de facto government buildings; one Hamas source told Ma’an “every de facto security building was targeted. ”Confirmed casualties include Commander of the de facto Government Police Tawfiq Jabir, Governor of the Al-Wusta (central) Districts Ahmad Abu Aashur and Commander of Security and Protection Services in the de facto government police Ismail Al-Ja’bari.

Gaza body count includes 3 senior Hamas officers
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
The 200-plus Palestinians killed in the Israeli air raid on Gaza yesterday included three senior officers: Tawfik Jabber, the commander of Hamas’ police force in Gaza; his adjutant, Ismail al-Ja’abri, commander of the defense and security directorate; and Abu-Ahmad Ashur, Hamas’ Gaza central district governor. Twelve hours after the strike was launched yesterday morning, 225 people had been killed and 750 wounded, bringing hospital services to the brink of collapse. Hamas has vowed harsh retaliation. "The Israeli occupation needs to know that it has cast itself into the fire," said Abu Ubeida, spokesman for the organization’s military wing, the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. The first three hours of the raid, which began in the late morning, were the most intensive, as waves of bombers swooped down over the coastal strip.

Palestinians: 4 killed in IDF attack on mosque
News agencies, YNetNews 12/28/2008
At least 230 Palestinian killed in first day of ’Operation Cast Lead’ in Gaza. Hamas sources report that IDF sorties continue throughout night, say fighter jets strike mosque killing four people - "Operation Cast Lead" in Gaza has entered its second day as IDF fighter jets struck several targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Hamas sources reported that Israeli jets bombarded a mosque in Gaza City and the al-Jazeera television network said that for people were killed in the strike. The IDF has not confirmed the report. The Israeli Air Force struck a total of 100 Hamas targets in Gaza on Saturday. Palestinian medical officials have reported at least 230 people killed in the Israeli strikes. Meanwhile, the rocket fire towards Israel continued throughout the day, and by 9 pm 64 rockets had been fired, of them 44 were fired towards Eshkol and Sdot Negev Regional Council and the rest towards Sderot and Ashkelon.

Israel resumes Gaza bombardment
Al Jazeera 12/28/2008
Israeli warplanes have resumed their air strikes on Gaza, blasting targets all over the Strip, including a mosque and a TV station. In the first attack early on Sunday, Palestinians said Israeli aircraft bombed a mosque near Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, destroying it. Two bodies were retrieved from the rubble. The blast, just after midnight, blew out windows at the hospital, hospital officials said. Another target early on Sunday was the Al Aqsa TV station used by Hamas. Its studio building was destroyed, but the station remained on the air with a mobile unit. Palestinians counted about 20 airstrikes in the first hours of Sunday. Israel launched Operation Cast Lead on Saturday and threatened that the operation would widen if necessary. Ehud Olmert, the outgoing Israeli prime minister, described the assault as a war on Hamas, the Palestinian faction which took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.

’There is a time for calm ... now is the time to fight’
Toni O'Loughlin in Jerusalem, Hazem Balousha in Gaza, The Observer, The Guardian 12/28/2008
Mayhem, death and deafening destruction came to Gaza at 11. 30am yesterday when Israel dropped a first wave of bombs on the Hamas security compounds it had determined to wipe off the face of the map. By the end of "Operation Solid Lead", about 60 aircraft had launched about 100strikes and at least 205 people were reported to have been killed. It was the most devastating attack on Gaza since 1967. Black smoke billowed over the tiny strip of land as shoppers, schoolchildren, shopkeepers, workers and pedestrians ran to find shelter, emptying the streets. Around the tightly packed city area, where several members of Hamas’s security force compounds were tucked between residential buildings, sirens wailed as ambulances sped through the streets to find piles of dead bodies. Most of the dead were police officers. About 700 people had been injured, according to Hamas.

After day of strikes: Panic and confusion in Gaza
Roee Nahmias and agencies, YNetNews 12/28/2008
Saturday’s attacks spread fear in Strip: Residents report morale is low and believe worst is yet to come. ’May Israel burn,’ says man who lost nine-year-old son in Israeli strike - Israeli aircraft dropped over 100 tons of explosives on the Gaza Strip throughout Saturday as part of operation "Cast Lead" launched in response to the ongoing rocket attacks on Israel, but Gaza’s inhabitants worry that the worst is yet to come. The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion in Gaza, as black clouds of smoke rose above the territory, ruled by Hamas for the past 18 months. Some of the Israeli missiles struck in densely populated areas as children were leaving school, and women rushed into the streets frantically looking for their children. Most of those killed were security men, but civilians were among the dead.

Three Al-Qassam Brigades fighters killed by latest Israeli airstrike east of Gaza City
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Three more Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip late on Saturday night. An Israeli airstrike targeted the men east of Gaza City, where they were apparently launching an operation against an Israeli target. The three dead were reportedly fighters for the Al-Qassam Brigades, the militant wing of Islamic Hamas. [end]

Palestinians fire 5 Kassams at western Negev, no casualties or damage
Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
Palestinians fired Saturday night five Kassam rockets at Israel. The rockets struck an open field in the Eshkol regions. No casualties or damage were reported. [end]

IN PICTURES / The Gaza Strip under attack
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Photos [end]

Photos of the day
Haitham Sabbah, Palestine Think Tank 12/27/2008
I selected the following photos to sum up all that can be said to describe the Israeli massacre in Gaza today and what we expect to see very soon. - First, peace? What peace? - The Israeli terrorist war machines used 60 jet fighters to attack Gaza and drop 100 ton of explosives there. The operation was concluded in two minutes: A new world record in massacring people in one day. Congratulations to Israel (I mean it, congratulations for winning the bloody record): Israeli citizens watching with JOY and taking memorial photos of their terrorist attack on Gaza: The casualties: 225 killed (including ten of children and toddlers, and still counting) and more than 700 injured, hundreds of them in critical condition. The Israeli terrorist state chose the peak hour in Gaza - while kids are returning home from school - to cause maximum death: Palestinians. . .

Palestinian groups respond to the Israeli attacks killing one
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 12/27/2008
Israeli sources reported that Palestinian fighters launched several home-made shells at southern Israeli areas near the Gaza strip, killing one Israeli person and injuring several others on Saturday afternoon. The attack is a response to the Israeli latest attacks on Gaza. At least 140 Palestinians were killed when Israeli jetfighters shelled several parts of the Gaza Strip on Saturday before noon. Israeli medics said that a home-made shell directly landed at a home located in the Netivot town on the borders with Gaza, causing damage. The sources added that one person was killed and four suffered moderate to serious injuries. [end]

DFLP: Activists escape death as Israeli shells fall near group in eastern Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Gaza- Ma’an – Members of the National Resistance Brigades (NRB), the armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), were targeted by Israeli warplanes in eastern Gaza Saturday night. The group was east of Gaza City on a mission to launch shells at Israeli targets when they were spotted by Israeli aircraft flying low over the area. The Israeli plane released shells on the area but all activists escaped the attack unharmed. The NRB affirmed that they will continue their resistance activities. [end]

Rafah police station hit by Israeli missile
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli warplanes targeted the police station in Rafah, leading to the collapse of several tunnels. Residents saw witnesses running from the tunnels as they collapsed behind them. Among the police officers killed in the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip was de facto Police Chief Imad Al-Amsi. [end]

Three Palestinian fighters injured in Israeli attack
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Gaza/Bethlehem – Ma’an – Three Palestinian fighters were injured on Saturday by an Israeli attack targeting a projectile launch site in the northern Gaza Strip, medical sources said. Dr Mu’awiyah Hassanein, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, told Ma’an that the fighters arrived “lightly injured” and that they had arrived from the Al-Shayma area, west of Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip. The Al-Qassam Brigades, a militant group affiliated with Hamas, announced an attack on an Israeli site at 9:00 am on Saturday, according to a statement. [end]

Eleven projectiles fired at Israeli targets after day of airstrikes
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Armed groups in Gaza claimed 11 projectile launches at Israeli targets Saturday, after the area was pounded by Israeli airstrikes that killed hundreds. The following Brigades claimed projectile launches:The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said they fired three projectiles at Sderot and two at Ashkelon. The Al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, said they fired two homemade projectiles at the Israeli military post of Sufa in eastern Rafah and two homemade shells on Ashkelon. Another armed wing affiliated with Fatah claimed responsibility for firing two additional shells on Sderot. All of the brigades said that the attacks came in retaliation for Saturday’s airstrikes.

Barak: It won’t be easy, it won’t be short
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 12/27/2008
Defense minister says operation against Hamas in Gaza ’will be expanded as is needed. I don’t want to mislead anyone, it won’t be easy and it won’t be short. ’ Meanwhile Palestinians up reported deaths to 205, rockets on Israel increase -Defense Minister Ehud Barak convened a press conference on Saturday afternoon to formally announce the beginning of the IDF’s operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The offensive was lauched at around 11:30 am, with the IDF carrying out two separate waves of attacks. Some 80 warplanes and helicopters took part in the assault, and over 100 bombs were dropped on dozens of targets. Palestinian health officials reported 205 people killed in the strikes, which targeted numerous Hamas compounds, bases and weaponry storage facilities.

ANALYSIS / IAF strike on Gaza is Israel’s version of ’shock and awe’
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 12/27/2008
The events along the southern front which commenced at 11:30 on Saturday morning are the closest thing there is to a war between Israel and Hamas. It is difficult to ascertain (geographically) where and for how long the violence will reach before international intervention forces a halt to the hostilities. However, Israel’s opening salvo is not merely another "surgical" operation or pinpoint strike. This is the harshest IDF assault on Gaza since the territory was captured during the Six-Day War in 1967. Palestinian sources in Gaza report that 40 targets were destroyed in a span of three to five minutes. This was a massive attack much along the lines of what the Americans termed "shock and awe" during their invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Simultaneous, heavy bombardment of a number of targets on which Israel spent months gathering intelligence.

Analysis: Israel’s Gaza assault
Al Jazeera 12/27/2008
Speaking to Al Jazeera, commentators and political figures share their thoughts on the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip. Osama Hamdan, Hamas representative in Lebanon - "I believe what happened today is a continuity of the Israeli collective crime against the Palestinians. What happened in the last three years, the Palestinians were suffering under the siege. The Israelis expected that the people will react against the resistance and against Hamas which didn’t happen in the past three years. That means they have to start very tough actions against Hamas. They attack 32 positions in Gaza, we expect the casualties will. . . reach 200 killings. There is a clear reaction of the Palestinians in Gaza. They are calling for revenge. They are asking for the Palestinian resistance to react against the occupation. I believe Israel is not learning the lesson. . . "

Police declare high terror alert
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 12/27/2008
Police chief decides to call in reinforcements after receiving warnings of dozens of possible terror attacks that may be attempted in retaliation for Gaza op -Police say they are preparing for terror attacks that may be attempted in retaliation for the IDF strike in Gaza Saturday by placing the force on high alert and calling in reinforcements. Intelligence reports warn of 10 specific terror alerts and dozens of general alerts. Security forces are primarily concerned about possible suicide attacks as well as kidnapping attempts. The high alert will focus on preventing terror attacks and clashes in known areas of conflict. "I call on the citizens of Israel to continue their lives as usual and the residents of the south to follow the orders of the Homefront Command and to be cautious," said Commander Yuval Kimhi, head of the police’s emergency planning department.

Hamas: resistance factions will respond to the Israeli attacks on Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 12/27/2008
Dr. Khalil Abu Lilah, a Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, told IMEMC that the Palestinian resistance groups will respond to the Israeli attacks that killed 140 Palestinians on Saturday around noon. At least 140 Palestinians were killed when Israeli jetfighters shelled several parts of the Gaza Strip on Saturday before noon. The Israeli air strike targeted the Palestinian Police headquarters in the central Gaza Strip and a small police outpost nearby. Abu Lilah said that "as the Israeli Army has attacked Palestinians in this way, the Palestinian Resistance groups will attack the Israeli areas in response. " In response to the Israeli government announcement that the goal of operation, still in its initial stages, is to force Hamas into an unconditional truce, the Hamas leader told IMEMC that "these Israeli attacks will fail to accomplish their goals, and Hamas will stay strong in representing the Palestinians.

Hamas urges military wing to fire long-range rockets
Ali Waked, YNetNews 12/27/2008
Hamas spokesman calls on movement’s military wing to fire rockets deep into Israel - Hamas prepares to respond:The Hamas movement called on its military wing Saturday to fire long-range rockets at Israeli communities in response to the IDF’s assault on Gaza. Hamas spokesman Fauzi Barhoum characterized the aerial strikes as a crime against all the Palestinian people. "We are calling on the al-Qassam Brigades to fire as far as possible," he said. Barhoum said that Palestinian groups will not surrender despite the Israeli strike, which according to Palestinian reports claimed the lives of more than 100 people. The dead include senior members of the Palestinian police and of Hamas’ military wing. Some students were also reportedly hurt in the attacks. The various Palestinian factions in the Strip characterized the Israeli assault as an "open war" and made it clear that they are preparing for what’s to come.

Analysis: The Hamas army
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 12/27/2008
Hamas, once known for its suicide attacks inside Israeli cities, is no longer a small-time terrorist group but today is a large guerilla army which has well-trained forces deployed throughout the entire Gaza Strip. Since Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005, Hamas has created a military with a clear hierarchy, led by the Hamas "chief of staff" - Ahmed Ja’abri. Ja’abri is in his late forties and has been in Israel’s sights for a number of years. In 2004, Israeli Air Force jets fired several missiles at Ja’abri’s home in the Sajiya neighborhood of Gaza City. Ja’abri escaped the assassination attempt with moderate wounds. Five others were killed. Since then, he has slowly climbed the Hamas ranks and today is believed to be the terror group’s so-called "chief of staff," replacing arch-terrorist Mohammed Deff who was seriously wounded in an Israeli air strike in July 2006.

Op tests home front for first time since Lebanon War
Nir Hasson, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Yesterday was the first time that the National Emergency Authority was tested in real time. The authority was formed as part of the efforts to improve services to the home front, which had proved a weak spot during the Second Lebanon War. The authority, headed by Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, informed civilians that the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command recommended people near Gaza stay close to air-raid shelters. The authority, known locally by its initials Rachel, declared a "special situation" in those towns and cities. The Home Front Command broke the towns within 30 kilometers of Gaza into three groups, based on proximity. Residents of towns within 10 kilometers of the border were instructed to remain within shelters, or no more than 15 seconds away. They were instructed to refrain from convening in large groups.

Disinformation, secrecy and lies: How the Gaza offensive came about
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Long-term preparation, careful gathering of information, secret discussions, operational deception and the misleading of the public - all these stood behind the Israel Defense Forces "Cast Lead" operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, which began Saturday morning. The disinformation effort, according to defense officials, took Hamas by surprise and served to significantly increase the number of its casualties in the strike. Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. According to the sources, Barak maintained that although the lull would allow Hamas to prepare for a showdown with Israel, the Israeli army needed time to prepare, as well.

Analysis: Shock, awe... and deception
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
"Shock and Awe," also known as "rapid dominance" is a doctrine formulated by the US military in the 1990s that calls for use of overwhelming power, dominating maneuvers and spectacular displays of force to paralyze an adversary. On Saturday, that was the IDF’s goal: to shock and awe Hamas with a blow the likes of which has not been seen in Gaza since the territory was conquered by Israel in 1967. The air strikes that began at 11:30 a. m. , with more than 110 IAF aircraft dropping over 100 tons of explosives on more than 100 targets, killed over 230 Palestinians. The bank of targets had been prepared months in advance by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Military Intelligence and included all of the main Hamas military headquarters, outposts, training camps and weapons stockpiles. The operation - called Cast Lead - started off similar to the way the IDF entered. . .

Hundreds participate in funeral procession of slain Gaza journalist
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Hundreds of Palestinians participated in the funeral procession of slain photojournalist Hamza Shaheen. Shaheen was 22-years-old and died Friday from wounds sustained after a 6 December Israeli airstrike on the northern Gaza Strip. He worked for the Shihab News Agency in Gaza. The funeral procession was attended by Hamas leaders, members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and leaders of several Palestinian factions. [end]

One dead, three injured in Rafah tunnel collapse
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
At least one Palestinian was dead and three others were injured in a tunnel collapse on Saturday in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, medical sources told Ma’an. The Ministry of Health’s Dr Mu’aweyah Hassanein told Ma’an that paramedics have not yet managed to recover the body of 23-year-old Walid Khaled Al-Shorbagy, who was killed in the collapse. [end]

Iran to send aid cargo to the Gaza Strip
Parisa Hafezi, The Independent 12/27/2008
Iran will send its first ship carrying aid today to the Gaza Strip despite an Israeli naval blockade of the Hamas-controlled territory, state television reported. Israel patrols the coastal waters around Gaza and accuses Iran, which refuses to recognise Israel’s existence, of supplying Hamas Islamists with weapons. Tehran denies this, saying it only provides moral support to Hamas. Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip has been stepped up in recent weeks amid a surge of violence along its frontier with the Palestinian territory. "Despite the Zionist regime’s blockade. . . the Iranian aid ship will leave on Saturday and will arrive in 12 days’ time in Palestine," television reported. It said 12 Iranian doctors and relief workers would be on board. "The cargo contains over 2,000 tonnes of food, medicine and appliances.

Iranian red crescent ships relief material to Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 12/27/2008
TEHRAN, (PIC)-- An Iranian ship loaded with two thousand tons of foodstuff and medicine provided by the Iranian red crescent society is to set sail on Saturday heading to the Gaza Strip. Hamid Taheri Jabali, the official spokesman for the Iranian campaign to break the siege on Gaza, told Iranian Al-Alam TV that a medical team is to accompany the vessel to help in treating patients in Gaza who could not travel abroad for treatment due to the Israeli siege in addition to a press team to cover the conditions of Palestinians there. Jabali said that the shipload is a gift from the Iranian people to the Palestinians who are living a "tragic humanitarian conditions". He said that the ship sends a message that the Iranian people would not let the Palestinian people live under Israeli siege and aggression. The Iranian red crescent society had prepared and sent the shipment, Jabali said,. . .

IOF troops violently quell Bil’in peaceful march
Palestinian Information Center 12/27/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Two Palestinian citizens were wounded on Friday with Israeli occupation forces’ rubber-coated bullets while participating in a peaceful march to protest confiscation of their Bil’in village land west of Ramallah. Local sources reported that the inhabitants marched through the village streets accompanied by a group of foreign sympathizers hoisting Palestinian flags and posters protesting the construction of the separation wall. The demonstrators also voiced solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in occupation jails and with family of the prisoner Juma Mousa, who died out of medical neglect in those jails, a few days ago. They raised placards asking Israelis to refuse service in the IOF and condemning the detention of those who did and demanded their release. IOF troops entrenched behind cement blocs separating the villagers from the wall fired teargas canisters. . .

IOA extends for 7th time administrative detention of Jihad activist
Palestinian Information Center 12/27/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority has renewed the administrative detention, with trial or charge, of Sheikh Ghassan Al-Saadi, 45, of the Islamic Jihad Movement in the Jenin refugee camp for the seventh time running. Relatives of Saadi said that the Israeli Negev prison authority informed the detainee of his renewed detention for four more months on the last day of his former detention order. They said that the court refused Saadi’s lawyer’s appeal for his release at the pretext that a secret security file prevented his release and that his release would pose dangers on the Israeli public. The relatives appealed to the human rights groups to pressure the IOA into releasing him especially when he is the sole breadwinner of a family of 8 children. Meanwhile, the Palestinian center for human rights said that the Israeli occupation forces have been daily storming. . .

Strikes cloud chances for Shalit deal
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
The start of Israel’s offensive in Gaza illustrates why the Israel Defense Forces chief, General Gabi Ashkenazi, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak strongly recommended trying to reach an agreement that would bring about the release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit from his Palestinian captors in recent months. Currently it seems the operation has nullified chances such a deal may take place in the near future. Will Hamas make use of the soldier as part of its psychological warfare against Israel? Experts on negotiations say any such use will be indirect. No video of Shalit will be made resembling the one in which Hamas displayed captured IDF soldier Nachshon Wachsman in 1994. Instead, they will hint to the media that his life is in danger because of the situation. Hamas’ main aim in holding onto Shalit is to use him as a pawn to bring about the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Barhoum: The IOF air raids mass execution of Gaza inhabitants
Palestinian Information Center 12/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas on Saturday charged that the Israeli occupation forces’ carnage in the Gaza Strip was made with the green light of regional parties and constituted a mass execution of the Gaza people. Barhoum, in a statement, pointed out that the raids came 24 hours after Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni’s visit to Cairo where it met with the Egyptian president and senior officials then talked in a press conference about toppling Hamas’s rule in Gaza. He said that such a massacre was possible thanks to Arab silence, European collusion and American support for Israeli occupation. "This bloody day was never witnessed before in the Gaza Strip", Barhoum underlined, adding that 150 martyrs fell in less than half an hour while 200 others were injured. He finally asked the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, to strongly retaliate to the IOF aggression and to use all means available to defend the Palestinian people.

Mashaal: Launch third intifada
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 12/27/2008
Hamas vows it will not be defeated by IDF operation in Gaza, despite death toll of over 200 in one day. Exiled politburo chief for Islamist group calls on Palestinians to launch another wave of ’resistance’ against Israel - After more than 200 fatalities, with scores more wounded, Hamas’ politburo chief issued a pointedly aggressive statement. " I call upon you (Palestinians) to carry out a third intifada," Mashaal, who lives in exile in Damascus, told Al-Jazeera television in an interview. Mashaal pledged Hamas would respond to Israel’s operation in Gaza against the Islamist group. "The time when you were the ones to control the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is over," he said, and vowed that "Gaza will soon be liberated" despite Israel’s military superiority. He called for a "military intifada against the Zionist enemy", as well as "a peaceful intifada internally",. . .

Mashaal: We still want cease-fire
Jerusalem Post 12/27/2008
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on Saturday called on West Bank residents to rise up against Israel in a renewed ’intifada’ in response to its offensive on the Gaza Strip that left over 225 people dead and hundreds wounded. In a televised speech, Mashaal warned Israel that it would not achieve by fighting what it had not been able to achieve through diplomacy. While the Hamas leader maintained that his organization was interested in renewing the cease-fire with Israel, he said that this would only be possible on the condition that Israel lift its siege on Gaza and open all crossings in and out of the Strip. Mashaal defended his group’s actions and continued rocket attacks on Israel which led to the Israeli offensive, saying Israel - and not Hamas - was responsible for the renewed bloodshed.

News in Brief - 1000 march against Gaza offensive in Tel Aviv
Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Some 1,000 people marched in Tel Aviv last night to protest the military offensive in the Gaza Strip. The demonstrators, including leftist and human rights activists, walked from the Cinematheque theater on Carlebach Street to the Defense Ministry. Police on horseback accompanied the protesters, one of whom became caught between a horse’s legs. The demonstrators argued that the operation in Gaza does not advance Israeli citizens’ security. "No one can tell us that a massacre against the people of Gaza is intended to protect the citizens of Sderot and Ashkelon," said Matan Kaminer, a student who participated in the procession. (Ofri Ilani) Labor and the new Meretz alignment announced yesterday they would be temporarily stopping their election campaigning due to the operation in Gaza. Yesterday afternoon, several hours after the offensive began, Labor announced that its leader, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, would stop his campaign activities.

Hundreds of activists in Tel Aviv protest IAF strike in Gaza
Ofri Ilani, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Hundreds of left-wing and human rights activists marched in the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night to protest the massive Israel Air Force offensive in Gaza that left at least 230 dead and hundreds more wounded. The protesters marched from Tel Aviv’s Cinematheque toward the Defense Ministry offices. Police, some mounted on horseback, surrounded the protesters, arresting five of them. According to the protesters, Israel’s military action in Gaza does not protect Israeli citizens or provide them security. "No one can tell us that slaughtering the citizens of Gaza is meant to protect the citizens of Sderot and Ashkelon," said Matan Kaminer, a student who participated in the march. Some protesters complained of extraneous force on the part of horse-mounted police, but overall the march remained non-violent.

Israeli Arabs react with violence to IDF operations in Gaza
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 12/27/2008
Israeli Arabs on Saturday protested Israel Defense Forces attacks in the Gaza Strip, with demonstrations and clashes with police breaking out in communities throughout Israel. In East Jerusalem, a police officer was lightly hurt by an Israeli Arab who hit him with his car. The driver, who has a criminal record, was arrested by police shortly thereafter. On Salah-a-Din Street in East Jerusalem, dozens of youths lit dumpsters and hurled stones at police. One assailant was arrested by police at the scene. In the Shuafat refugee camp, hundreds of Palestinian protestors threw rocks at security forces. In the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit, a three-year-old boy was lightly hurt after he was hit in the eye by a rock thrower. In the Bedouin village of Rahat in the Negev, around 400 residents protested the attacks, while mosques throughout the town broadcast prayers of mourning.

Israeli Arabs take protest Israeli strikes on Gaza
Middle East Online 12/27/2008
TEL AVIV - Angry demonstrations broke out in Israel’s Arab towns on Saturday after the deadly Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip which left at least 200 dead, eyewitnesses said. Hundreds took to the streets in Oum el-Fahem, Nazareth, Sahnin and Tamra in northern Israel in response to a call from leaders of the country’s Arab community. Demonstrators chanted slogans condemning "Israeli aggression" and waved Palestinian flags. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said: "Police have been placed on alert in the whole country" to deal with any trouble and to support the civil defence services. He gave no report of any incident at the protests. The Arab population is comprised of the descendants of the Palestinians who remained in their land despite being subjected to an Israeli campaign of ethnic cleansing during the creation of Israel.

Left-wing activists protest Gaza op as ’genocide’
Sharon Navot, YNetNews 12/27/2008
Around 300 left-wing activists gather on Defense Ministry lawn to protest offensive against Hamas during Olmert’s speech; five arrested after clashing with police -While Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called for the unity of the citizens of Israel and their support for the operation in Gaza, hundreds of left-wing activists gathered on the Defense Ministry’s lawn to protest the deaths of over 200 Palestinians. Five of the protestors were arrested for rioting after they damaged the security fence and clashed with police forces on the scene. Protestors clash with police (Photo: Dudu Azulay)Around 300 activists took part in the protest, in order to condemn what they called Israel’s "genocide and war crimes". The demonstrators marched through the streets of Tel Aviv until they reached the ministry’s headquarters.

Violent protests start in West Bank
DPA, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Violent demonstrations broke out in several West Bank regions yesterday to protest the Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip, which reportedly killed more than 200 Palestinians. The demonstrations, which occurred in places where Palestinians and Israelis come into contact, led to stone throwing and clashes with the Israel Defense Forces. Protesters threw stones at the Qalandia checkpoint and the Shuafat refugee camp in the Jerusalem area, as well as in Hebron and in Ramallah in the West Bank. Soldiers responded with rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse demonstrators. In Ramallah, dozens of Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers near the settlement of Beit El, to the north of the city. Soldiers who came to push back the Palestinian protesters fired tear gas and rubber bullets. The Palestinian police also intervened to keep the demonstrators away from Israeli troops, creating a buffer zone.

Bethlehem douses Christmas lights over Gaza
Middle East Online 12/27/2008
BETHLEHEM, West Bank - Christmas lights will be shut off around Bethlehem, including those on the city’s giant Christmas tree, to protest Israel’s deadly attacks in Gaza, its mayor said on Saturday. "We have decided to shut off the decorative lights and the Christmas tree to protest against the massacres committed in Gaza," Victor Batarseh said. "Israel has sabotaged the holidays with these massacres," he said. The Christmas tree stands in front of the Church of the Nativity, where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born more than 2,000 years ago. It normally stays lit until the Orthodox Nativity celebrations in early January. In the Israeli-occupied West Bank youths also threw rocks in Ramallah, at the Qalandiya checkpoint at the entrance to the town, and at two villages near Ramallah and Hebron. Television pictures showed Israeli soldiers responding to stone-throwing with volleys of tear gas.

West Bank: Palestinians take to the Streets in Protests against the Israeli attacks on Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 12/27/2008
Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets, on Saturday afternoon, in several West Bank areas in protest of the latest Israeli attacks on Gaza. At least 140 Palestinians were killed when Israeli jetfighters shelled several parts of the Gaza Strip on Saturday before noon. In Bethlehem city, located in the southern part of the west Bank, a sporadic gathering in Duhyisha refugee camp was reported, local sources that youth have gathered and held banners demanding the halt of the Israeli attacks on Gaza. Meanwhile in the nearby Hebron city, local youth took to the streets and protested the latest attack on Gaza, local sources reported clashes between local youth and Israeli troops, no injures were yet reported. In Ramallah city, in the central Part of the west Bank people organized protests in the streets.

Demonstrations erupt across West Bank; clashes in East Jerusalem as Palestinians protest Gaza violence
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinians poured into the streets Saturday after news of a massive Israeli airstrike on the Gaza Strip hit media outlets. Clashes broke out in Hebron and East Jerusalem as demonstrators met Israeli troops. Dozens were lightly injured and at least 40 in Hebron suffered from tear gas inhalation, while tens were arrested in East Jerusalem. Spontaneous demonstrations took place in East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarem, and the Ad-Duheisha refugee camp, while organized rallies marched in Hebron and Bethlehem. East JerusalemViolent clashes erupted between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces in Shufat refugee camp, Qalandia, Ar-Ram and Al-Isawiya as Palestinian youth hurled stones at the Israeli soldiers and set fire to car tires. Dozens of injuries and arrests were reported.

Images from Gaza solidarity protest in Nablus
Imemc in Nablus, International Middle East Media Center News 12/27/2008
Around 500 people gathered in the centre of Nablus in solidarity with Gaza following the Israeli shelling which has so far killed 150 people and injured 200 others on the 27th of December. The demonstration marched through the old city of Nablus, people were emotional and expressed their anguish at the deaths in Gaza calling out,"God is great!"The people of Nablus also called for an end to the internal splits, saying that " To Israelis we are all the same whether Fatah or Hamas the Israelis still want us dead!" More images below. . .

Hamas ups the ante
Zvi Bar'el, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
The battle is also being fought on the diplomatic field - In recent weeks there has been an orchestrated effort to prevent Hamas from casting aspersions on the Arab regimes which, in the organization’s view, have washed their hands of the Palestinian struggle against Israel. In the Egyptian media Hamas is described as an agent of Iran, which is seen as trying to impose its hegemony in the Arab world through Hamas. Even writers who are close to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt are warning the Arab regimes not to allow Iran to use this means to become the dominant player in the region. In the face of the Egyptian-Saudi pincer movement, Hamas is trying to defend itself with the use of high-profile diplomacy. On Monday, its spokesmen reported publicly that Ismail Haniyeh, the organization’s leader in Gaza, had spoken on the phone with the ruler of Qatar and the king of Bahrain.

Egypt: Hamas ’ignored warnings,’ but now Israel must stop ’this blind military action’
Brenda Gazzar And AP, Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
The Arab and Islamic world reacted with shock to Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip on Saturday with protests around the region and calls for retaliation against Israel. Arab foreign ministers prepared to meet in Cairo on Sunday in an emergency meeting to discuss how to address the escalation. In Egypt, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit extended his condolences to the Palestinians killed in the attacks and said Egypt, which brokered a six-month cease-fire between Hamas and Israel that expired a little over a week ago, had been trying to avoid the escalation. "Today everybody has to stand by the Palestinian people’s side and stop this blind military action," the foreign minister said, calling on Israel to immediately halt its attacks. However, he also blamed Hamas for ignoring warnings that Israel would attack if rocket fire from Gaza didn’t cease.

Arab League to hold summit on Gaza
Al Jazeera 12/28/2008
The Arab League will hold summit in Doha on January 2 to discuss the latest violence in the Gaza Strip, Arab diplomats have said. The announcement was made after ambassadors to theorganisation met in Cairo on Saturday. "An extraordinary Arab summit will be held on Friday in Doha to discuss ways to stop the Israeli attacks on Gaza," a diplomat said. More than ten Arab states have confirmed participation. For a summit to be held, at least 14 countries must participate. The decision was in response to a proposal by Qatar after Israeli air raids killed at least 220 people in Gaza and wounded 700 others. Arab foreign ministers were due to hold an emergency meeting to take a common position on Israeli raids on Sunday but the meeting was postponed until Wednesday.

Attacks are only going to strengthen hand of Hamas
Ian Black, The Observer, The Guardian 12/28/2008
The attacks followed a decision by caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to widen reprisals for cross-border rocket attacks on Israel, which restarted after the expiry of a shaky six-month ceasefire just over a week ago. Hamas leaders may have been shocked but can hardly have been surprised by the onslaught. Israel’s foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, warned in Cairo on Thursday that Israel "cannot tolerate" continuing attacks. after some 50 rockets or mortars were fired from the Gaza Strip. Livni’s high-profile visit to Egypt was seen as part of an diplomatic offensive to prepare for an attack. Mixed signals confused the picture, perhaps deliberately: on Friday, Israel reopened border crossings into Gaza to allow the delivery of fuel, food and humanitarian supplies.

Barak in US interview: Israel won’t accept ceasefire with Hamas
Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Saturday night vowed that Israel would not accept a ceasefire with Hamas. "For us to be asked to have a ceasefire with Hamas is like asking you to have a ceasefire with al Qaeda. It’s something we cannot really accept," Barak said in an interview with Fox News. Barak added that a ground operation might follow the air strikes. [end]

Gaza Holocaust Ruffles Egypt
Amr Emam – Cairo, Palestine Chronicle 12/27/2008
’Mubarak is an accomplice in attacks against the Palestinian people. ’ - The sights of death and destruction in the besieged Gaza Strip struck close to the hearts of many Egyptians, especially with their government being accused of complicity in the latest Israeli crime. " Arab governments are complicit in what happens to the Palestinians," Ashraf Abdel Monem, who workers at a pharmaceuticals company, told IslamOnline. net. " These governments help Israel tighten its grip on the dispossessed Palestinians and kill them. " At least 206 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in a series of Israeli air strikes against targets in Gaza Strip. The Palestinian resistance responded with rocket salvoes that killed one Israeli and wounded several others. But the images of Palestinians lying on the ground in the aftermath of the raids while blood was dispersed everywhere sent shockwaves in Egypt,

NGOs: ‘devastating impact’ on Gaza civilians
Middle East Online 12/27/2008
LONDON - Humanitarian groups and charities on Saturday called for restraint from all sides and warned of "disastrous consequences" for civilians after Israeli air strikes on Gaza killed nearly 200 people. Their calls came as major world powers urged an immediate end to violence after the massive Israeli air strikes on Gaza Saturday. "Gaza has already been paralysed by the Israeli blockade," said Jeremy Hobbs, director of British charity Oxfam International. "A military attack on Gaza could completely destroy essential infrastructure for sewage treatment, water provision and electricity for hospitals and homes, with devastating impact on civilians. " In a joint statement with Care International, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), German organisation Medico International, and Swedish group Diakonia, Oxfam called for all sides to "pull back from the brink of an all-out military confrontation.

Human Rights Defenders speak from Gaza as Israel kills over 200 people
International Solidarity Movement 12/27/2008
27th December 2008 -Human Rights Defenders from various countries are present in Gaza and are witnessing and documenting the current Israeli attacks on Gaza. Due to Israel’s policy of denying access to international media, human rights defenders and aid agencies to the Occupied Gaza Strip, many of these Human Rights Defenders arrived in Gaza with the Free Gaza Movement’s boats that have repeatedly broken the Israeli blockade of Gaza. "At the time of the attacks I was on Omar Mukhtar street and witnessed a last rocket hit the street 150 meters away where crowds had already gathered to try to extract the dead bodies. Ambulances, trucks, cars - anything that can move is bringing injured to the hospitals. Hospitals have had to evacuate sick patients to make room for the injured. I have been told that there is not enough room in the morgues for the bodies and that there is a great lack of blood in the blood-banks. "

VIDEO - UN demands ’immediate’ halt to attacks
Jonny Paul, Jerusalem Post Staff And AP, Jerusalem Post 12/27/2008
World reaction to Israel’s sudden, massive strike against terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip ranged from immediate condemnation and a call to halt all attacks to cautious acknowledgement of Israel’s right to defend its citizens. Some international powers spoke against Hamas’s bombardment of communities in southern Israel since the cease-fire ended last week; others wrung their hands over the humanitarian suffering in the Strip. In a statement released Saturday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an immediate halt to all violence in both Gaza and southern Israel. "While recognizing Israel’s security concerns regarding the continued firing of rockets from Gaza, Ban firmly reiterates Israel’s obligation to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law and condemns excessive use of force leading to the killing and injuring of civilians. - VIDEO - Arab world slams Israeli ’crimes’ in Gaza

Livni orders worldwide PR blitz in defense of attacks
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Saturday ordered the Foreign Ministry to “take emergency measures” to spin the air force’s attacks in the Gaza Strip to the international community, according to Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz. Livni told senior Foreign Ministry officials to “open an aggressive and diplomatic international public relations campaign,” the paper added. At least 150 people were killed in the airstrikes around noon on Saturday. Estimates indicate that as many as 200 additional Palestinians may have been injured in the strikes. One Israeli was killed in a projectile attack shortly after the Israeli airstrike. The Israeli foreign ministry instructed ministry officials on vacation for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah to immediately return to their posts abroad in order to “mount public relations campaigns in their station countries,” Ha’aretz said.

Palestinian Human Rights groups call for urgent action; say Israeli actions show 'criminal intent'
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Gaza- Ma’an - Fourteen Palestinian human rights originations banded together to warn the world of the consequences of Israel’s current attacks on Gaza, stressing Israel’s violation of human and internationally recognized rights. The group called on the international community to work urgently and seriously to protect Palestinians from Israeli airstrikes and siege, and to ensure civilian safety in Gaza. In a Saturday press conference the group called the day’s violence in Gaza a “dangerous and unjustified escalation,” that targeted “Palestinian security department buildings in the residential areas in Gaza. ” They warned that casualties would be high because Gaza hospitals have few medical supplies. The group slammed the Israeli decision to target de facto government police during their 11:30 graduation ceremony since it is also the time when Palestinian school children head home for the day.

Jihad: Official Arab silence toward aggression unjustified
Palestinian Information Center 12/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Islamic Jihad Movement on Saturday lashed out at the official Arab silence vis-à-vis the Israeli occupation forces’ crimes in the Gaza Strip, describing it as "unjustified". The movement in a statement said that killing innocents and declaring war in such a manner and voicing threats from the heart of an Arab country against the Palestinian people should not pass unnoticed. The "Israeli enemy" has launched a "rabid" war on the Palestinians killing dozens with the collusion of many parties with the aim of exterminating resistance, Jihad charged. It asserted that resistance would not stop in face of those crimes but would rather escalate, and added that scenes of murder and devastation "would not lead us to despair even if we remained alone in the battle". Islamic Jihad asked the Arab and Islamic masses to hit the streets in support of the Palestinian people and resistance.

Top UNRWA rep expresses 'horror' at Israeli violence in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Commissioner General of UNRWA Karen AbuZayd expressed her “horror” at the extensive destruction in the Gaza Strip Saturday, and communicated her “deep sadness at the terrible loss in human life,” in a press statement. The UNRWA said in the statement that it “strongly urges the Israeli Government to heed calls for ceasing its bombardment on Gaza. ” And reminded Israel that it is a signatory of “international conventions that protect non-combatants in times of conflict,” and added that “these conventions are worthless if they are not upheld. ”The organization said it would “exert all efforts to respond as quickly as possible to relieve suffering and pain. ”They said that Saturday’s “killing and destruction…follows weeks of a tight blockade that prevented UNRWA and other humanitarian agencies from assisting the population and mitigating the difficult economic situation.

EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza
Middle East Online 12/27/2008
BRUSSELS - The presidency of the European Union called Saturday for an immediate halt to Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip and rocket fire against Israel from Gaza. The EU presidency "expresses greatest concern at the escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip and deplores the very large number of civilian victims," a statement said. "It condemns the Israeli bombardments as well as the firing of rockets from Gaza. It demands their immediate halt. It condemns the disproportionate use of force. " A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana earlier Saturday said, "We are very concerned by the events in Gaza. " "We are calling for an immediate ceasefire and the maximum restraint. Everything must be done to reinstate the truce. " The statement urged for all crossing points out of Gaza to be reopened and deliveries of aid and fuel to be resumed, as well as free access. . .

Israel: Airstrikes on Gaza to root out projectile launchers; Barak calls deaths 'necessary'
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The operation in Gaza was necessary and will be expanded as needed, said Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak during a five O’clock Saturday press conference. Two waves of Israeli airstrikes across the coastal region killed upwards of 200 Palestinians and injured almost 350. Israel sent approximately 80 warplanes and helicopters over the Gaza Strip to drop more than 100 bombs on “Hamas targets,” often in densely populated urban areas. The Israeli military has dubbed the action Operation Cast Lead, and says the attack will continue until Gaza militants stop launching homemade projectiles on Israeli towns. The Israeli air force said it “hit” 190 Hamas activists and disabled equipment used for “terror activities. ”During the press conference Barak explained the objective of the operation is to shuffle the cards in Gaza and change the situation on the ground.

Olmert defends op; US blames Hamas
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 12/27/2008
The IDF’s Gaza Strip operation is intended to "bring about a fundamental improvement in the security situation in the South" and allow the citizens there to "lead normal lives," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Saturday night in an emergency address to the nation. Olmert, flanked by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in a rare show of unity in the midst of an election campaign, called on the country to "show patience," saying this "could take time. "Government officials were bracing for a situation in which Hamas could launch some 200 rockets and mortars a day. The prime minister added that it was possible that "in the near future there will be a rise in the number of rockets and that these will reach farther" than they reached previously. Government officials said the operation was intended to bring about a calm in the South that would. . .

Britain ’deeply concerned’ by Israeli air strikes
Middle East Online 12/27/2008
LONDON - Britain said Saturday it was deeply concerned by Israeli air strikes against the Gaza Strip, and called for maximum restraint from both sides. "We are deeply concerned by the reports of deaths and injuries of innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip following the recent Israeli air strikes," a Foreign Office spokesman said. "The only way to achieve a lasting peace in Gaza is through peaceful means. Whilst we understand the Israeli government’s obligation to protect its population, we urge maximum restraint to avoid further civilian casualties. "We also call on militants in the Gaza Strip to immediately cease all rocket attacks on Israel. " Israel claims its attacks are in response to Gaza rockets, while Palestinian resistance fighters maintain they have nothing else to defend themselves from the brutal Israeli siege, attacks and occupation. Print

BNC statement: 'Stop the Massacre in Gaza – Boycott Israel Now!'
Palestinian BDS National Committee - BNC, Stop The Wall 12/27/2008
Occupied Ramallah, Palestine - 27 December 2008:Today, the Israeli occupation army committed a new massacre in Gaza, causing the death and injury of hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including a yet unknown number of school children who were headed home from school when the first Israeli military strikes started. This latest bloodbath, although far more ruthless than all its predecessors, is not Israel ’s first. It culminates months of an Israeli siege of Gaza that should be widely condemned and prosecuted as an act of genocide against the 1. 5 million Palestinians in the occupied coastal strip. Israel seems intent to mark the end of its 60th year of existence the same way it has established itself – perpetrating massacres against the Palestinian people. In 1948, the majority of the indigenous Palestinian people were ethnically cleansed from their homes and land,. . .

Sarkozy calls for immediate halt to Gaza violence
Middle East Online 12/27/2008
PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Saturday for an immediate halt to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel and Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip, his office said. "The President of the Republic expresses his profound concern at the escalation of violence in the south of Israel and the Gaza Strip. He strongly condemns the irresponsible provocations which led to this situation as well as the disproportionate use of force," the Elysee Palace said. It said that Sarkozy "deplores the heavy civilian losses and expresses his condolences to the innocent victims and their families. " He "demands the immediate end to rocket fire on Israel as well as to Israeli bombardments of Gaza and calls on both sides to show restraint. He reminds them that there is no military solution in Gaza and calls for the conclusion of a lasting truce. "

Livni: Israel tried to secure calm without force
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 12/27/2008
Foreign Ministry launches international PR campaign following Gaza op, calls back ambassadors worldwide from Christmas vacation to ensure Israeli message gets across to media -The Foreign Ministry launched an international PR campaign following the military operation in Gaza Saturday. In a message to the global news agencies Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said, "We tried everything to achieve calm without using force. " She added that Israel had agreed to a ceasefire brokered by Egypt, which was interrupted by the Hamas’ continuing fire towards Israel, as well as its holding of Gilad Shalit, and building up of its military force. Livni said Israel had so far shown restraint, despite the fact that its citizens had been under constant threat of rocket barrages, which have so far included hundreds of rockets and mortars.

US blames Hamas as world calls on Israel to restrain assault
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The blame for Saturday’s catastrophic loss of life rests with Hamas, according to a statement from the White House. Bush administration officials did not call on Israel to end an operation that killed over 200 Palestinians in a matter of minutes. The United States did call on Israel to “avoid civilian casualties,” according to news accounts, but it did not join the increasing calls for an end to the deadly operation, which has killed hundreds and left hundreds more injured. If Palestinians want the violence to end in Gaza, Hamas must stop firing projectiles into southern Israel, the US maintains. A projectile killed one Israeli and injured five others on Saturday. "Hamas’ continued rocket attacks into Israel must cease if the violence is to stop," White House assistant Gordon Johndroe said on Saturday.

Russia calls on Israel to halt Gaza raids
Middle East Online 12/27/2008
MOSCOW - Russia on Saturday called on Israel to halt its use of force in the Gaza Strip and Hamas to stop rocket attacks, after massive Israeli air strikes killed at least 155 Palestinians. "Russia believes it is neccessary to halt immediately the large-scale acts of force against the Gaza Strip, which have already caused considerable victims and suffering amongst the Palestinian population," the foreign ministry said. "At the same time, we call on the leadership of Hamas to stop firing rocket on Israeli territory," it said in a statement, adding that the most important priority now was for the parties to restore a truce. Israel claims its attacks are in response to Gaza rockets, while Palestinian resistance fighters maintain they have nothing else to defend themselves from the brutal Israeli siege, attacks and occupation.

World Muslim body slams Israeli ’war crime’
Middle East Online 12/27/2008
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - The Organisation of the Islamic Conference on Saturday slammed as a war crime Israel’s air raids on the Gaza Strip that are reported to have killed at least 155 Palestinians. "The latest Israeli massacre is a war crime and shows what little regard Israel has for international law and the 4th Geneva convention on the protection of civilians in time of war," OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said in a statement. Ihsanoglu, head of the Jeddah-based OIC, called on Palestinian factions to "begin an immediate national dialogue with the aim of restoring unity and ending divisions that grievously harm the Palestinian cause. " He said he had called a high-level OIC meeting to discuss Gaza and urged the international community to take urgent action "to end Israeli violations and protect the Palestinian people.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon 'deeply alarmed' by Gaza violence
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is “deeply alarmed” by Saturday’s “heavy violence and bloodshed” in Gaza, said a statement from his spokesperson Saturday evening. The statement also expressed concern over the “continuation of violence in southern Israel. ”Ki-Moon appealed to all sides to stop the violence. In the statement Ki-Moon was said to “firmly reiterate Israel’s obligation to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law,” and further condemned their “excessive use of force leading to the killing and injuring of civilians. ”He likewise condemned the use of violence by Palestinian militants and said he was “deeply distressed that repeated calls on Hamas for these attacks to end have gone unheeded. ”He also called for aid to be sent to Gaza immediately.

Israel’s Arab neighbors condemn deadly Gaza airstrikes
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Leaders and citizens of Israel’s neighboring Arab countries condemned an airstrike that killed at least 150 Palestinians and injured more than 200 others on Saturday. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak condemned the attacks, holding Israel responsible for those killed and demanded that the semi-successful ceasefire between militants in Gaza and the Israeli army be renewed. "Egypt will forge ahead with its contacts to create a favorable atmosphere for renewing the truce and attaining inter-Palestinian reconciliation in a bid to end the suffering of the Palestinian people," a statement from the president’s office said. Moments after the first 30 airstrikes at noon on Saturday, a high-level Egyptian official told Al-Jazeera that the Israeli operation was “an unprecedented massacre.

Urgent action is needed now! Israeli attacks on Gaza should be strongly condemned and not be repeated!
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 12/27/2008
Ramallah - Mustafa Barghouthi MP, the Secretary General of the PNI, strongly condemns today’s attacks on the Gaza Strip. Moments ago the Israeli army carried out massive air strikes against the most densely populated area on the planet, already suffering from siege for more than a year and a half. Israeli planes slammed missiles into over thirty targets in the 360 sq km Strip holding over 1. 5 million people. Today at least 155 have been reportedly killed, most of them civilians. But we expect the number to continue to rise throughout the day as more bodies are uncovered from the rubble - and more casualties succumb to their wounds. Many of the dead are women and children. "We fear this attack is only the first of a bloody series that will aim to destroy the Gaza Strip and its population. . . "

US calls on Hamas to stop rocket attacks
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 12/27/2008
Washington lays blame for deterioration of Gaza situation on Hamas while Syria condemns Israel for ’barbaric attack’ in Strip. White House has so far refrained from urging Jerusalem to halt operation - With the difficult images of casualties in Gaza filling global news broadcasts, the world’s leaders are responding to Israel’s operation against Hamas. The United States on Saturday urged Israel to avoid civilian casualties in its strikes, but did not call for an end to the offensive, essentially signaling its support for the operation. The White House said for the violence to end, Hamas must stop rocket attacks into Israel. "Hamas’ continued rocket attacks into Israel must cease if the violence is to stop," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in Texas where President George W.

Austria warns of fresh Mideast ’spiral of violence’
Middle East Online 12/27/2008
VIENNA - Austria warned against a fresh "spiral of violence in the Middle East" Saturday after Israeli air strikes reportedly killed 155 Palestinians in Gaza, prompting retaliatory rocket fire. "Hamas must renounce violence once and for all, and Israel must finally allow the supply of vital goods to the civilian population in Gaza," Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said in a statement. "In this tense situation, we must do everything in our power to resume efforts to renew the ceasefire and proceed with the humanitarian aid to those in need in Gaza, which has just begun," he added. Hamas reported Saturday that Israeli attacks on the enclave had killed at least 155 people, later announcing it had fired rockets into Israel in retaliation.

How Israel declares war / Our pols’ future
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
This is what an Israeli-style declaration of war looks like. The "senior political leadership" triumvirate - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni - huddle together with journalists and camera crews in the Defense Ministry’s old conference room, with its out-of-style design, unkempt plants and faded carpet. Olmert and Barak came dressed for combat, wearing no ties and no make-up. Livni, wearing a black suit, brought a pen and notebook with her. The three political rivals, the spectrum of whose relationship ranges from deep loathing to utter contempt, now need to lead the country through a war. The results of that war, more than anything else, will determine Barak and Livni’s political futures in the upcoming general election in which they are both running. It will also affect Olmert’s chances of returning to public life after he steps down.

Business in Brief - Ministry: Gaza border region workers must report to work
Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, Eli Yishai, signed emergency regulations yesterday evening enabling local authorities, the Israel Electric Corporation and private factories defined as essential industries, such as bakeries, to require their employees to come to work. The purpose of the orders is to allow the continued provision of basic services and goods to the population living within a 20-kilometer radius from Gaza. Ashkelon, Sderot and Netivot are included within this region. This is not the first time Yishai has implemented such regulations, which have been issued now for an unlimited time. However, the ministry says the situation will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis to see if the orders are still necessary. (Haim Bior) Political parties running for the Knesset will be enjoying a nice Hanukkah gift: a NIS 100 million advance for their election campaigns.

ANALYSIS / With Gaza raid, Barak is back in the political ring
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Two months after Ehud Olmert was elected as Israel’s prime minister, the Second Lebanon War broke out. Two months before Olmert departs, the military campaign in the south breaks out. But Olmert isn’t the story here; he’s on his way to the Prime Minister’s Bureau pensioners’ ward. Ehud Barak is the story here. The man who, until yesterday, had to remind the Israeli voter of his existence with self-ridicule on billboards and satirical shows is returning to the political ring with force. In the coming days, weeks maybe, Barak will stand in he center of the public’s attention. For better or worse, he’s in his element. The beginning of the raid in Gaza bears the wily and deceptive fingerprint of Barak, the Israel Defense Forces most highly decorated combat soldier. This does not make him the most suitable candidate for the premiership, but. . .

Treasury: No increase in defense spending for the Gaza operation
Moti Bassok Sarit Menahem, Yoram Gabison and Tal Levy, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
It is still much too early to estimate the final cost of the military operation that began yesterday in Gaza: it is still not known how long it will last and whether it will include ground forces, require the call-up of reserves or include a prolonged stay in the Gaza Strip. However, each day of such a military operation costs tens of millions of shekels for Air Force strikes and bombs, plus many other expenses. This in itself will not cause a budgetary problem, said a senior government official, since even a week-long ground operation could be absorbed by the existing defense budget and would only be felt in the 2009 state budget. The Defense Ministry has refused to comment on this matter. However, costs would skyrocket if the government decided to call up large reserve forces, if the IDF takes control of large sections. . .

The legal side / Deliberately timed
Ze'ev Segal, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s authority to declare a "special state of emergency on the home front" is defined in the Civil Defense Law. The legislative branch places the main authority over whether to declare a special state of emergency with the government but permits the defense minister to do so if the government has yet to have acted and he deems the situation as urgent. The minister must immediately inform the government and the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of his decision. The special state will remain in effect for 48 hours after it was declared - which notably does not include Sabbaths or holidays - after which it may be extended by the government. Barak’s decision to follow legal procedures closely stems from the broad range of authority over civilians the declaration of a state of emergency places with the IDF.

Gaza op: Election campaigns on hold
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 12/27/2008
Large parties suspend election campaigns; Barak to focus entire attention on Gaza op, Labor says - Israel’s three largest parties have announced that they are suspending their election campaigns in the wake of the launch of the Gaza Strip operation Saturday. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he is halting his involvement in the Labor Party’s election campaign. Barak’s office said that "the situation in the south requires the defense minister to focus his entire attention on defense activity, and he is detaching himself from the campaign until further notice. " Kadima adopted a similar approach, with campaign chief Knesset Member Dalia Itzik telling Ynet that she is calling on all parties to suspend their political activity in face of the fighting in the south. "On this day, we are all the IDF and we are all residents of the western Negev," she said.

Israeli politicians cancel election campaigns 'in light of the dire security situation'
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli politicians began spinning Gaza attacks before the dead were pulled out of the rubble Saturday. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s Labor party announced they would halt their election campaign because the “security status in the southern districts necessitates that defense minister concentrate his efforts on leading military operations. ”When Livni’s Kadima party got Barak’s message they released a similar statement saying they would halt campaigning “in respect to the army’s position and to invest their time in assisting the security services through serving public interests. ”Head of Kadima’s election campaign Dalia Itsik called on all Israeli parties to suspend their election campaigns in light of “the war” going on in the south. “This day all of us are soldiers in Israel’s army, and residents of western Negev.

Israeli reactions to Gaza op vary
Jerusalem Post 12/27/2008
The operation launched by the IDF against Hamas on Saturday quickly drew both praise and condemnation in Israel. Right-wing party Israel Beiteinu expressed strong support for the operation. The party issued a statement in which it said that it backs "all actions by the government whose purpose is to protect Israel’s citizens. " The Likud also issued a statement expressing its satisfaction that the government had begun responding to Gaza rocket fire. However, according to Meretz Chairman MK Haim Oron, "At present and after the IDF operated in Gaza, there utmost importance to reach a renewal of the cease-fire agreement as soon as possible. The safety of our residents in southern Israel and that of Gilad Schalit necessitate a very careful approach toward a possible ground operation, which essentially means sinking in the Gazan mud," he said.

Tibi protests Israeli ’war crime’
Brenda Gazzar And Etgar Lefkovits, Jerusalem Post 12/27/2008
Israeli Arab leaders called Saturday for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Gaza as thousands of Israeli Arabs around the country took to the streets to protest. Following the assault on Gaza, outbreaks of rioting were being reported in east Jerusalem on Saturday. "It’s a war crime," said MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) "I can’t accept the logic that panic in the streets of Sderot is worth 200 killed in Gaza as a consequence of firing from one side or another. " Tibi said he could not accept that logic particularly when Israel had repeatedly violated the six-month cease-fire that expired December 19 by not opening the crossings and by conducting military strikes in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. "This war crime needs to stop, and we need to return to the tahadiya [calm] to save lives both here and there," he said.

’Israeli ministers war criminals’
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 12/27/2008
Arab-Israeli leadership blasts Gaza op; protests, riots reported in northern towns, east Jerusalem - Arab-Israeli leaders slammed the Israeli assault on Gaza Saturday, referring to it as a "war crime. "  Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka, who participated in a rally in Nazareth, called for a general strike by Israel’s Arab community in protest of the operation in Gaza. "Following this offensive, the world should punish Israel and impose a siege on it, because if the Gaza blockade is the result of the firing, then Israel fired in one day what the Palestinians have fired in five years," he said. "I call for the indictment of Barak on war crime charges in Gaza," he said. "Barak is attempting to win votes in exchange for Palestinian blood, yet it’s not only Barak; all Israeli government ministers are war criminals.

Egypt lays blame on Hamas
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 12/27/2008
Cairo officially protests Gaza operation to Israeli ambassador, but Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit says Egypt warned Hamas this would be the case unless it stops Qassam attacks - WASHINGTON -The government in Cairo formally expressed its protest of the IDF operation in the Gaza Strip before the Israeli ambassador to Egypt. In the same breath, however, it made clear which party it holds responsible for the deterioration of the situation. Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said in a Cairo press conference that Egypt had long since warned Israel would respond in this manner, and added that those who did not heed the warning "should bear the responsibility. " He noted that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Hamas as well. Earlier in the day Aboul Gheit said that Egypt had predicted this would be the play of events, "because Hamas did not stop firing rockets into Israel.

Egypt slams Israeli ’murder’ raids on Gaza
Middle East Online 12/27/2008
CAIRO - Egypt condemned Israel’s Saturday air raids on Gaza that killed at least 195 Palestinians as "murder" and opened its Rafah border crossing with the territory to allow the wounded through for treatment. "We call for an immediate end to Israeli military operations. We cannot allow these attacks to continue. We cannot permit the murder of Palestinians," Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said on state television. Egypt, one of only two Arab states to have signed a peace deal with Israel, summoned ambassador Shalom Cohen to call for an end to the bombardment by dozens of Israeli aircraft that has left more than 350 wounded, many seriously. "We summoned the Israeli ambassador and we said we refuse this aggression and we demanded an immediate end to it," foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said. President Hosni Mubarak earlier condemned "the Israeli military aggression. . .

Not one Gazan at Rafah crossing despite Egyptian promise to treat wounded, country to send medical supplies instead
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Not a single Gazan turned up at Rafah crossing Saturday despite an Egyptian promise to open the crossing and accept wounded Palestinians for treatment in Egyptian Hospitals. Between three and six hundred Palestinians were injured in Israeli airstrikes throughout the day, and Palestinian hospitals have almost entirely run out of medical supplies. The dead were carried home in cardboard boxes because Gaza City hospitals ran out of sheets. Palestinian medical sources said mild to moderate cases were turned away for lack of doctors and supplies, and reported bodies in hallways after morgues filled up. Despite Egypt’s offer to accept wounded Gazans medical sources said the condition of most of the injured was too fragile to make the trip to Rafah. Only if Egypt sent helicopters would the majority of serious cases be able to accept the offer, said Head of. . .

Sinai governor: Rafah crossing opened to transfer injured
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Egypt has opened the Rafah border crossing to transfer injured Palestinians, according to the Sinai governor. Egypt announced that it opened the Rafah crossingto receive dozens of injured at Egyptian hospitals. It sent dozens of ambulances there, as well. Angry mobs took to the streets in a number of the West Bank cities, including Ramallah Hebron and Bethlehem, denouncing the attacks. [end]

Palestinians to sell first fair trade product
Nick Mathiason, The Observer, The Guardian 12/28/2008
The glimmers of an economic revival for Palestinians will grow early next year with the launch of their first fair trade product. Fair trade olive oil will hit the shops in 2009 as tourist numbers in Bethlehem reach their highest levels for a decade. Israeli and Palestinian officials report economic growth for the occupied territories of 4-5% and a drop in the unemployment rate of at least three percentage points. [sic] Palestinian farmers face barriers to carrying out normal agricultural activities caused through restrictions in movement and water shortages. Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: "We hope this will be the first of many more fair trade products coming from the world’s conflict zones and least-developed countries. If so, it will help to catalyse markets and make a real economic difference to the communities that need it most.

Cartoon of the day
Carlos Latuff, Palestine Think Tank 12/27/2008
Gaza Raid [end] -- See also: An interview with Carlos Latuff, cartoonist/activist

VIDEO - Viewer’s Guide to 'Obsession'
Yousef Abudayyeh, Palestine Think Tank 12/27/2008
The Middle East Cultural and Information Center in San Diego just released Obsession: A Viewer's Guide (link below). Please give it your highest mark "5" so it will stay at the top of the list of viewed pieces, which will help defeat the fascist work of Zionists and neocons. [end] -- See also: YouTube: Viewer's Guide to "Obsession"

Deadly blast hits Baghdad station
Al Jazeera 12/27/2008
At least 20 people have been killed and dozens more wounded by a bomb that exploded among a crowd in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, security officials say. The blast, which occurred around midday on Saturday, was so powerful it could be heard several kilometres away. Qassim Attam, an army spokesman, said the explosion was in a car park used by commuters near a bus terminal in Kadhimiyah, northwest Baghdad, where people also gather at a Shia shrine on Saturdays. It was not clear if the blast was a suicide attack and whether it was caused by a car bomb or a mortar round. On Thursday, one person was killed and 14 others injured in another bomb attack in Kadhimiyah. Kadhimiyah has suffered routine attacks and some of the deadliest incidents in the capital since the US-led invasion in 2003.

Australia may take Guantanamo detainees
Middle East Online 12/27/2008
SYDNEY - The Australian government may accept released Guantanamo Bay detainees for resettlement at the request of the United States, but only after rigorous case-by-case assessment, a report said Saturday. "Australia, along with a number of other countries, has been approached to consider resettling detainees from Guantanamo Bay," a spokesman for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told The Weekend Australian newspaper. "Any determination for an individual to come to Australia would be made on a case-by-case basis. "All persons accepted to come to Australia would have to meet Australia’s strict legal requirements and go through the normal and extremely rigorous assessment processes," the spokesman said. US president-elect Barack Obama has promised to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba after taking office next month, raising the question of what to do with the remaining 250 inmates held without charge or trial.

Foreign press caught off guard
Gili Izikovich, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Operation found many foreign reporters home for holidays -Yesterday’s military operation in the Gaza Strip has caught off guard foreign media correspondents covering the area. A significant portion of them are still in their home countries enjoying the traditional one-week vacation between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Tonight, many will make their way back to Israel. A small Foreign Ministry delegation remains in Sderot. Last night it was bolstered by four additional spokespeople, translators and representatives from the IDF Spokesman’s Office. These preparations are part of the Foreign Ministry’s attempts to deal with the arrival of several hundred members of the media expected to arrive in the area in the coming days. A media center with wireless Internet has been set up next to the war room at the Sderot city hall.

Olmert: Patience needed on Gaza op
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 12/27/2008
For the second time during his term in office, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has declared war – this time on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. “For seven years now, civilians have been attacked by missiles. Life in the South has become unbearable,” Olmert said, with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to his right and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to his left. “It could take time, and we require a great measure of patience in order to complete the mission. ” Olmert noted that Israel did everything in order to enable the lull in the south to go on. “The desire for calm was met with terror,” he said. “No country would reconcile itself to such reality. In recent days it turned out that Hamas was interested in a confrontation. Under such circumstances, we had no choice but to respond. ” “We are not rushing into battle with joy, yet we are not deterred either,” he said.

Israel launches deadly Gaza attacks
Jenny Percival, The Guardian 12/27/2008
Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds injured after the Israeli air force launched dozens of air raids on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Palestinian health officials said at least 195 people were killed and more than 250 wounded in one of the bloodiest days for decades in the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many were members of the security forces of the Islamic group Hamas, but civilians were also killed. In an indication of how the operation may yet expand, the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, said Israel’s air offensive against militant sites in Gaza "will widen as necessary". He told a news conference: "There is a time for calm and there is a time for fighting, and now is the time for fighting. The operation will expand as necessary. "It was unclear if this would include a ground offensive.

Israel’s hammer blow in Gaza
Ian Black, The Guardian 12/27/2008
Israel’s hammer blow against Hamas in the Gaza Strip bears all the hallmarks of its doctrine of overwhelming force. But it was immediately met with calls of defiance from Hamas and warnings that the onslaught would lead to all-out war. Observers and analysts described it as the largest and most intensive air attack on Gaza since the second intifada erupted in 2000. Israel insisted it was a defensive response to an escalation of militant rocket attacks into its territory. The bomb and missile strikes by F16 warplanes this morning hit Hamas compounds and positions from Gaza City to Khan Yunis in the south of the coastal strip. Civilian casualties, on a normal school and working day, must have been inevitable in the densely populated area. Israel’s decision to hit what it called "terrorist infrastructure" reflects a deep reluctance to mount large-scale ground operations in the narrow coastal strip, home to 1.

How Israel led Hamas into false sense of security
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 12/27/2008
Carefully calculated maneuvers utilized by cabinet lulled Islamist group into arrogant calm ahead of airstrike offensive in bid to maintain element of surprise. Primary aim of operation is to stop rocket attacks on Israel’s south, rebuild deterrence - Maneuvering the enemy: The Israel government reportedly employed several measures in order to lead Hamas into a false sense of security and ensure the operation against the Islamist group would take the organization by complete surprise. The tactic called for Defense Minister Ehud Barak to allow trucks carrying humanitarian aid into the Gaza, despite the ongoing rocket fire on the western Negev. Last Sunday afternoon saw Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Barak reportedly agree on launching a wide-scale military offensive in Gaza. Then on Wednesday the National Security Cabinet approved the proposed operation, with the 11 ministers comprising the forum lodging a unanimous yea vote.

Hamas source: IDF strike unexpected
Ali Waked, YNetNews 12/27/2008
Organization admits Air Force offensive in Gaza caught its people off guard since no one thought Israel would strike on Shabbat - A Hamas source in Gaza confirmed Saturday that the Israeli Air Force attack on the Gaza Strip, caught the organization completely off guard. Hamas, said the source, did not believe the IDF would launch a strike on Shabbat. Earlier in the week, many Hamas operative went underground, fearing an Israeli assault, but despite the precautions taken by Hamas, many of its police stations across the Strip were operating as usual, again - believing an Israeli attack will not begin over the weekend. Hamas spokesman Fauzi Barhum told the media that the organization learned on Friday that Israel was not going to launch any military operation in Gaza. Egypt had recommended Hamas cease all rocket fire immediately, in order to allow Israel to postpone its planned offensive in the Strip.

Abu Marzouk: No legitimacy for Abbas after 9th January
Palestinian Information Center 12/27/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy political bureau chairman of Hamas, has stressed that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas will lose legitimacy by 9th January 2009. Speaking to Al-Aqsa satellite TV, he said that PA leadership was implementing the Annapolis conference’s plan on unilateral basis. He explained that Israel never lived up to its commitments. The Hamas leader asked the Arab and Islamic institutions to act and break the siege on the Gaza Strip, noting that Gaza’s sea borders are open. In another statement on Friday, Abu Marzouk said addressing a Hamas organized rally in Beirut to commemorate its establishment 21 years ago that his Movement’s main goal is to liberate Palestine. He elaborated that all settlement projects did not yield anything positive for the Palestine cause. He championed national unity talks based on national concord doctrine and the Makkah and Cairo agreements.

Three days of mourning called in West Bank and Gaza to grieve for hundreds of dead
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Ramallah/ Gaza – Ma’an -Three days of mourning were declared separately in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Saturday afternoon, as Palestinians grieve for the more than 200, pray for the almost 400 injured as the result of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. The caretaker government in the West Bank called for a halt on Israeli attacks during the weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah. Political leaders requested the three days of mourning to show solidarity with the people in Gaza. Ramallah government spokesman Riyad Al-Maliki said in a statement that the government strongly denounces the attacks and demands the International community urgently intervene to halt the violence and life the siege. Al- Maliki promised that the government would follow up on all political avenues. In Gaza City the de facto government also declared three days of morning and a general strike across the Strip.

Fatah condemns airstrikes that killed at least 155
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - A spokesperson for the Fatah movement condemned attacks against the Gaza Strip on Saturday. Fahmi Al-Za’arir blamed Israel for the "many injuries" and called for a ceasefire or truce "to protect the Palestinian people. " Al-Za’arir called for the international community to keep Palestinians safe from "such bloody wars" and to provide them with protection. He added that Israel’s attacks "will never put down our people’s will. " [end]

Fatah officials in Nablus call Israeli strike 'a new Holocaust'
Ma’an News Agency 12/27/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Fatah officials in Nablus called the attacks in the Gaza Strip on Saturday a “new Holocaust” against Palestinians. In a statement, Fatah said that the Israeli assault came at a time when Egypt is doing “all it can” to reinstitute the truce, condemning the fresh Israeli violation. The statement applauded Egypt’s efforts in evacuating the wounded, as well. [end]

Women’s success in politics may be a hollow victory
Avirama Golan, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Are more women in political positions simply because men have abandoned politics for business? The big winner in the "Who’s appointing more women to realistic spots on their party’s list? "contest is Avigdor Lieberman. His decision to promote former model Orly Levy to the sixth spot and Anastasia Michaeli to the 10th spot has certainly managed to blur Yisrael Beitenu’s extremist line, giving it a more attractive profile. In the recent party primaries, not one party was willing to offer voters an exclusively male list. The Hadash primary was notable for the candidacy of Aida Tuma-Suleiman, who is listed in an unrealistic spot, though not because of her gender; Hadash is represented on the Acre city council by a talented young woman named Reem Hazzan. Now we have a female foreign minister (Tzipi Livni) who is running for prime minister, a female Knesset Speaker (Dalia Itzik). . .


’An earthquake on top of your head’
Dr Eyad Al Serraj, The Guardian 12/27/2008
      A practising psychologist in Gaza City, describes his family’s terror as the Israeli attack began.
     The bombing went on for about 10 minutes. It was like an earthquake on top of your head. The windows were shaking and squeaking. My 10-year-old was terrified, he was jumping from one place to another trying to hide. I held him tight to my chest and tried to give him some security and reassure him. My 12-year-old was panicking and began laughing hysterically, it’s not normal. I held her hand and calmed her and told her she would be safe. My wife was panicking. She was running around the apartment looking for somewhere to hide.
     We live on the ground floor so we headed to the basement.
     Not very far from our home is the headquarters of the police and there was a massive bomb. The chief of police was killed. Two streets away there was another bomb and more people were killed. The office of the president is about one kilometre from our house and it was also bombed.
     We went downstairs to the basement and tried to hide ourselves from the shelling. The child of one of our relatives, who lives in our building, finally came home from school. We hadn’t been able to find her. All the phone connections were jammed. She came home and she was in a very serious state of shock. She was pale and trembling and she was describing dead bodies in the streets. On her way home she passed Hamas people in uniform and they were dead.

'The amount of death and destruction is inconceivable'

Safa Joudeh writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 12/27/2008
      It was just before noon when I heard the first explosion. I rushed to my window and barely did I get there and look out when I was pushed back by the force and air pressure of another explosion. For a few moments I didn’t understand but then I realized that Israeli promises of a wide-scale offensive against the Gaza Strip had materialized. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzpi Livni’s statements following a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak the day before yesterday had not been empty threats after all.
     What followed seems pretty much surreal at this point. Never had we imagined anything like this. It all happened so fast but the amount of death and destruction is inconceivable, even to me and I’m in the middle of it and a few hours have passed already passed.
     Six locations were hit during the air raid on Gaza City. The images are probably not broadcasted on US news channels. There were piles and piles of bodies in the locations that were hit. As you looked at them you could see that a few of the young men were still alive, someone lifts a hand, and another raises his head.They probably died within moments because their bodies were burned, most had lost limbs, some of their guts were hanging out and they were all lying in pools of blood. Outside my home which is close to the two largest universities in Gaza, a missile fell on a large group of young men, university students. They’d been warned not to stand in groups as it makes them an easy target, but they were waiting for buses to take them home. Seven were killed, four students and three of our neighbors’ kids, young men who were from the Rayes family and were best friends. As I’m writing this I can hear a funeral procession go by outside; I looked out the window a moment ago and it was the three Rayes boys. They spent all their time together when they were alive, they died together and now they are sharing the same funeral together. Nothing could stop my 14-year-old brother from rushing out to see the bodies of his friends laying in the street after they were killed. He hasn’t spoken a word since.

To be in Gaza is to be trapped

Peter Beaumont, The Guardian 12/28/2008
      Gaza. Always the suffering of Gaza, most potent symbol of the tragedy of Palestine. In 1948, during the Nakba – or "The Catastrophe" as Palestinians describe the war that gave birth to the state of Israel – 200,000 refugees poured into Gaza, swelling its population by more than two-thirds. Then Gaza fell under Egyptian control.
     The six day war of 1967 saw more refugees, but with it came the occupation of Gaza by Israel – an occupation that, despite Israel’s declaration under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that it would unilaterally withdraw its settlements and troops in 2005, has never really ended.
     It has not ended, for to be in Gaza is to be trapped. Without future or hope, limited to a few square miles. Its borders, land and sea, are defined largely by Israel (with Egypt’s compliance along the southern end of the Strip).
     It is not open to the ocean apart from a narrow outlet accessible only to the fishing fleet, a coastal blockade policed by Israel’s gunboats, the boundaries of which have only recently been tested by boats of protesters sailing from Cyprus to draw attention to conditions inside Gaza.

Inside Gaza: ’The hospital morgues were already full. The dead were piled on top of each other outside’

Sami Abdel-Shafi in Gaza city, The Independent 12/28/2008
      I am safe, and yet I feel like a walking dead person. Everything around me shows it. It is hard to write something of any coherence while exposed to cold winter air and to the smell that lingers after the detonation of Israeli bombs. They must have been massive. During the bombing I opened all the windows around my apartment to avoid them imploding as a result of the vacuum shocks sweeping through Gaza City after each enormous bang. While the bombing continued, I jumped down two flights of stairs to my father’s house, to make sure he was OK. Should I open up all his windows too? That would expose the old man to the risk of illness. We have no medical care or medication. However, the risk from shattering glass was greater, so I opened them all.
     Mobile phones did not work, because of electricity outages and the flood of attempted calls. I flipped the electricity generator on so that we could watch the news. We wanted to understand what was going on in our own neighbourhood. However, this was impossible. Israeli surveillance drones flew overhead, scrambling the reception. All I could do was step outside, where I found crowds of frantic people, lines of rising smoke and the smell of charred buildings and bodies that lay around targeted sites nearby. Somebody said the bombs had been launched in parallel raids over the entire Gaza Strip. What was the target here? Perhaps a police station about 200 metres away. Other bombs annihilated blocks less than a kilometre away, where one of the main police training centres stood. When the strikes began, a graduation ceremony for more than 100 recruits in a civil law enforcement programme was under way. These were the young men trained to organise traffic, instil civil safety and maintain law and order. Many of them were killed, it is said, in addition to the Gaza Strip’s police chief.

Gaza massacres must spur us to action

Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada 12/27/2008
      "I will play music and celebrate what the Israeli air force is doing." Those were the words, spoken on Al Jazeera today by Ofer Shmerling, an Israeli civil defense official in the Sderot area adjacent to Gaza, as images of Israel’s latest massacres were broadcast around the world.
     A short time earlier, US-supplied Israeli F-16 warplanes and Apache helicopters dropped over 100 bombs on dozens of locations in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip killing at least 195 persons and injuring hundreds more. Many of these locations were police stations located, like police stations the world over, in the middle of civilian areas. The US government was one of the first to offer its support for Israel’s attacks, and others will follow.
     Reports said that many of the dead were Palestinian police officers. Among those Israel labels "terrorists" were more than a dozen traffic police officers undergoing training. An as yet unknown number of civilians were killed and injured; Al Jazeera showed images of several dead children, and the Israeli attacks came at the time thousands of Palestinian children were in the streets on their way home from school.

Rights orgs: Israel’s willful killings a war crime

Press release, Various undersigned, Electronic Intifada 12/27/2008
      Palestinian human rights organizations strongly condemn the recent military attacks carried out by the Israeli occupying forces in the Gaza Strip on 27 December 2008. The attacks began at approximately 11:30am and lasted for approximately three hours. These attacks have destroyed most of the Gaza security offices including police stations, resulting in the deaths of more than 200 Palestinians. More than 350 have been injured with at least 120 critically.
     The number of deaths resulting from these attacks indicates a willful targeting of the civilian police forces in these locations and a clear violation of the prohibition against willful killings.Willful killings are a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention under Article 147 and therefore, a war crime. Both the time and location of these attacks also indicate a malicious intent to inflict as many casualties as possible with many of the police stations located in civilian population centers and the time of the attacks coinciding with the end of the school day resulting in the deaths of numerous children.

The rains of death in Gaza

Laila El-Haddad writing from North Carolina, US, Electronic Intifada 12/27/2008
      We woke up this morning to the news in Gaza. It seems we always wake up to news there -- so it has become a matter of perspective how bad the news is each time; how remote it seems each time; how real or not; how severe and whether the severity warrants an "international outcry" or whether the animals can continue to suffer in their cages for a while longer.
     We received a call from my in-laws in Lebanon at an early hour, checking in on my family in Gaza, since they cannot call them directly. We call my parents. My father does not answer. We call his mobile, we reach him. He has just returned from al-Shifa hospital -- we hold our breaths.
     "We are OK. We went to donate blood and to see if they needed any help" says my father, a retired surgeon.
     "We were in the market when the strikes began. I saw the missiles falling and prayed; the earth shook; the smoke rose; the ambulances screamed," he said, the sirens audible in the background. He was on Talatini street at the time of the attacks, just a few streets down from one of the attack sites.

Stench of Death Hangs Over Gaza

Ola Attallah – Gaza City, Palestine Chronicle 12/27/2008
      ’At least 206 Palestinians were killed in the massive Israeli air strikes.’
     With thick clouds of smoke billowing into the sky and dead bodies littering into the streets, a stench of death rose from the ruins of the Gaza Strip on Saturday, December 27.
     "Where are my sons?" screamed Um Ibrahim as she ran hysterically looking for her little kids.
     She lives near a security compound Israeli planes pounded to the ground on Saturday.
     "I don’t know what happened to them," cried the bereaved mother.
     Her neighbor Um Abed fell unconscious when she saw her son among the dead in the attacks.
     At least 206 Palestinians were killed in massive Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Saturday.
     "The number of victims has reached 195 martyrs with more than 300 wounded, 120 of whom are critically hurt," said Moawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza emergency services.
     "The toll has gone up because of new Israeli raids and the discovery of several martyrs under the rubble."

Delusions of victory in Gaza

Zvi Barel, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
      As of yesterday, politicians and the public at large have been enthralled by a new prospect: that of a wide-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip. Such a prospect answers all their heart’s secret wishes: Avenging the rocket fire by Gazan militants, reclaiming Israel’s prestige, delivering a fatal blow to Hamas, providing payback for Israel’s 2005 pullout from Gaza, sending a strong message to Iran, an implicit one to Hezbollah, and also showing the government’s concern for its citizens and scoring some points with the electorate ahead of the elections.
     The public’s imaginations are let loose as they chant a battle-cry. Fighter planes have already bombed dozens of targets in the heart of Gaza and tomorrow thousands of troops may storm its alleyways. On the third day the Israel Defense Forces might eliminate Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh, Mushir al-Masri and Mahmoud al-Zahar. It will seize the Hamas government’s buildings and an army spokesman will display captured arm caches containing sophisticated missiles and thousands of guns to the press.
     ...How many soldiers are expected to be killed in the first wave? How many months is the IDF expected to spend in Gaza, sweeping its houses and tunnels? How many Palestinian civilians will be killed? Will Gilad Shalit survive in such a scenario? Will Hezbollah remain passive during a Gaza offensive? How will the residents of the West Bank, Jordan and Egypt react? What about the new U.S. president? And Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas? Not that he really matters.

The neighborhood bully strikes again

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
      Israel embarked yesterday on yet another unnecessary, ill-fated war. On July 16, 2006, four days after the start of the Second Lebanon War, I wrote: "Every neighborhood has one, a loud-mouthed bully who shouldn’t be provoked into anger... Not that the bully’s not right - someone did harm him. But the reaction, what a reaction.
     Two and a half years later, these words repeat themselves, to our horror, with chilling precision. Within the span of a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, the IDF sowed death and destruction on a scale that the Qassam rockets never approached in all their years, and Operation "Cast Lead" is only in its infancy.
     Once again, Israel’s violent responses, even if there is justification for them, exceed all proportion and cross every red line of humaneness, morality, international law and wisdom.
     What began yesterday in Gaza is a war crime and the foolishness of a country. History’s bitter irony: A government that went to a futile war two months after its establishment - today nearly everyone acknowledges as much - embarks on another doomed war two months before the end of its term.

Gazan Voices, American Silence

Kenneth Ring, Palestine Think Tank 12/27/2008
      [Author’s note: Just after this article was written, it became evident that Israel is likely to launch at least a limited attack on Gaza, which only heightens the sense of urgency for action that is advocated here.]
     The baby is crying again. You wake up. Cold. There is no electricity in the house; it went off during the night. For the last week – weeks, months – it has been on only sporadically. You throw on a coat and go to check on the baby. It seems listless. There is no milk in the house, and very little food. The UN shipments have stopped again, and you are not sure when they will resume.
     In the other room, you hear your husband coughing. He has been sick for weeks and lately he has been spitting up blood. He has tried to get permission to get to a hospital in Israel, but every time he has been denied permission to leave.
     You go outside to see if a neighbor can give you any milk. The first thing that hits you is the stench. The garbage has not been collected for weeks, and the sewage problem, because of the recent rains, has become even worse. No wonder so many people are sick. You are living in a cesspool. And you, and everyone else, is trapped inside this prison because the borders are sealed. This has been going on now for a year and half, and there is no telling when it will be over. And with the end of the truce, such as it was, there is a renewed threat of violence from the Israelis. Even now, you see an Israeli drone overhead and know that a missile could be launched from it at any time.

Hunger Before the Storm

Sameh A. Habeeb, Middle East Online 12/27/2008
      Israeli politicians, in the run-up to elections, are promising to deal a severe blow to Gaza as this is how Israeli policy is made. However, every household in Gaza is already under siege. In Gaza you can only find pale, angry and frustrated faces. If you visit my house you won’t find power, while my neighbor is out of gas. Another neighbor seeks potable water as power outages have left him without for four days. A third neighbor desparately looks for milk for his child but does so in vain. Another friend who lives on the corner needs medicine that can’t currently be found in Gaza.
     There is no shortage of such stories in Gaza (though there is a shortage of nearly everything else). Perhaps broadcasting such stories would result in pressure on Israeli leaders to stop the siege. Because what is happening is that the entire Gaza population of 1.5 million -- densely packed into a small area -- is being punished for crude rockets being fired into Israel by a few.
     Shaher Mazen, 25, holds a degree in political science but works as a taxi driver to put bread on the table for his family. I spoke to him while I was on my way to some of the Gaza bakeries to cover some news that was happening there. Shaher was frustrated because of siege and furious towards the two rival Palestinian governments, considering them as weak in the face of Israel.

David Halpin - Braced / Jose Saramago - Gaza

David Halpin, Jose Saramago, Palestine Think Tank 12/27/2008
      It is a beautiful afternoon here on Dartmoor. The sunlight has that quality one sees in Russian paintings of birch trees in the crisp snow. The three lovely grandchildren - girls, are here. We have been out for a walk on the moor in freedom - not stifled by a 60 year long occupation that started with a terror driven ethnic cleansing.
     I phoned my brother in Gaza at noon. The couple had their fourth child, a baby girl, 7 days ago. There are now 4 children, so what future?
     There has been no electricity for 48 hours. If the hospital generators fail (they are meant for stand by only), those on ventilators etc might die. Those on ventilation are having their bronchial trees sucked out using syringes. 1500 need special medical care outside Gaza. Since June 2007 and the pre-emptive strike by Hamas and the tightening of the noose, there have been 273 Palestinian murders. One can assume at least three times that number have been wounded. There have been uncounted hundreds dying from want of adequate medical services. I have seen many ’amputees’ and appeared with one - Bashir on Al Aqsa TV. 3,500 factories have shut and the unemployment rate is about 80%.

An interview with Carlos Latuff, cartoonist/activist

Jackson Allers, Palestine Think Tank 12/25/2008
      He has been alternatively praised and vilified in the press for his depictions of suffering in places like the Palestinian Territories, Iraq, and the slums of Latin America. But Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff says he is not out to please anyone. MENASSAT spoke with Latuff on the heals of a newly released series of cartoons about Iraqi journalist Muntazer Al-Zaidi.
     BEIRUT, December 23, 2008 (MENASSAT) — Carlos Latuff, 40, is nothing short of a one-man cartoon wrecking-ball when he hits the ink. Based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Latuff has spent the last 15 plus years crafting a style that can best be described as “populist cartooning.” He has touched on issues like Apartheid in South Africa, the plight of Native Americans in the US and the oppression of Tibetans in China.
     But perhaps his most controversial series to date is “We are all Palestinians,” in which he compares the actions taken by the Israeli government towards Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip directly to the Nazi’s treatment of Jews.
     In a December interview with the Jewish cultural scholar Eddy Portnoy, Latuff said, “It happens to be Israeli Jews that are the oppressors of Palestinians. If they were Christians, Muslims or Buddhists, I would criticize them the same way.” -- See also: Cartoon of the day