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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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28 December, 2008

Civilian death toll rises after second day of air strikes
Hazem Balousha in Gaza City, Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 12/29/2008
Officials in Gaza say nearly 300 killed, 600 injured as survivors call for retaliation • Calls for investigation after seven students at UN college die in missile attacks - To the doctors at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City it was another body on a chaotically busy day. By early Saturday afternoon the morgue was already overflowing so they laid out the corpse of 20-year-old Ali Abu Rabia on the floor outside. One of the hospital staff pulled out a mobile phone from his pocket, scrolled through the numbers, and called the young man’s father. " I was at work. Someone from the hospital called and said they had found my son," said Marwan Abu Rabia, 44, a plumber. "I went straight to the hospital and found him lying on the floor outside the morgue. There were too many bodies. It looked like a massacre. " The hospital was so crowded staff held back relatives outside the building and turned away the lightly injured.

Gazans sit atop northern roofs challenging Israeli orders to evacuate or face death
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli forces called to Gazan families through loudspeakers demanding that they evacuate their homes before intense Israeli shelling began in the northern Gaza Strip. As the Abu Sultan family in the Jabalia refugee camp prepared their belongings Israeli fire rained down on their home killing several family members and injuring others. Witnesses of the massacres on Saturday decided to challenge the Israeli order to evacuate and gathered in areas under attack to sit on roofs with families whose homes face imminent destruction. Despite cold weather and Israeli warplanes flying overhead small crowds could be seen on rooftops across the northern Gaza Strip area. One home with large numbers of Gazans on its concrete roof was that of the de facto government Minister of Communication Yousif Al-Mansi.

IAF uses new US-supplied smart bomb
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 12/29/2008
The Israel Air Force used a new bunker-buster missile that it received recently from the United States in strikes against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, The Jerusalem Post learned on Sunday. The missile, called GBU-39, was developed in recent years by the US as a small-diameter bomb for low-cost, high-precision and low collateral damage strikes. Israel received approval from Congress to purchase 1,000 units in September and defense officials said on Sunday that the first shipment had arrived earlier this month and was used successfully in penetrating underground Kassam launchers in the Gaza Strip during the heavy aerial bombardment of Hamas infrastructure on Saturday. It was also used in Sunday’s bombing of tunnels in Rafah. The GPS-guided GBU-39 is said to be one of the most accurate bombs in the world.

Israeli jets pound Gaza tunnels
Al Jazeera 12/29/2008
Israeli aircraft have bombed the length of the Gaza-Egypt border, taking out tunnels used to smuggle in vital goods to the besieged strip. The bombing raid started at dusk on Sunday on the second day of an operation which has so far killed more than 292 Palestinians and wounded more than 600. Dozens of tunnels are said to criss-cross between southern Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai desert, providing a lifeline to residents who are starved of basic supplies due to an 18-month-long Israeli blockade. Avital Leibovitch, an army spokeswoman, said on Sunday: "The air force just attacked over 40 tunnels found on the Gaza side of the border. "We believe [they] were used for smuggling weapons, explosives and sometimes people," she said. "The pilots notified direct hits on these targets. "

Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in protest
Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
IDF troops shot and killed a Palestinian man and seriously wounded another in the West Bank Sunday during a violent protest against Israel’s major military offensive against Hamas in Gaza. The fatality was the first in the West Bank since Israel launched its air campaign against Hamas security installations on Saturday. The deadly late-afternoon protest in the village of Ni’lin near Ramallah turned violent after troops stationed in the area were attacked with a hail of rocks, the military said. After the soldiers were unable to halt the barrage with crowd control measures, they used live ammunition to quell the protest. It was not immediately clear Sunday why the security personnel did not have sufficient anti-rioting equipment, and an army spokesman said the incident was being investigated by military authorities.

Gaza assault fuels rage across the spectrum
Mel Frykberg, Inter Press Service, Daily Star 12/29/2008
RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank: Anger, shock and revulsion at the continuing carnage in Gaza has ignited spontaneous demonstrations and riots across the Occupied West Bank and Israel, sparking concerns of a possible third Palestinian uprising or intifada. At least 280 Palestinians were killed and at least 900 wounded following an intensive Israeli bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip over the weekend. This followed a barrage of rockets fired by Palestinian fighters at Israeli towns and cities bordering the coastal territory in the last few weeks that caused some damage but no casualties. The rocket attacks followed the shattering of a five-month old cease-fire by Israel in an early November invasion of the territory. The deadly offensive along with Israeli assassinations in the Occupied West Bank prompted Palestinian fighters to resume their attacks on southern Israel.

Abbas blames Hamas for bloodshed
Al Jazeera 12/28/2008
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has blamed Hamas for triggering Israel’s deadly raids on Gaza, by not extending a six-month truce with the Jewish state. He also blamed Hamas, which controls the coastal Gaza Strip territory, for disrupting national unity talks that could have paved the way for general and presidential elections. "We have warned of this grave danger," he said in Cairo, Egypt, on Sunday. "We talked to them [Hamas] and we told them, ’please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the truce continue and not stop", so that we could have avoided what happened. " However, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said he was "surprised" by Abbas’s claim. "He downplayed the sufferings of our people in Gaza and belittled their pains, providing justification of the holocaust and war waged by Israel," he said.

Abbas: Hamas could’ve prevented ’massacre’
Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
Hamas could have prevented the "massacre" in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday in Cairo. PA President Abbas said Hamas could’ve prevented current escalation in violence if it did not end truce "We spoke to them and told them ’Please, we ask you not to end the cease-fire. Let it continue,’" Abbas said during a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. "We want to protect the Gaza Strip. We don’t want it to be destroyed. " Abbas called on Hamas to renew the cease-fire with Israel to avoid further bloodshed in Gaza. Aboul Gheit also attacked Hamas, saying the group had prevented people wounded in the Israeli offensive from passing into Egypt to receive medical attention. "We are waiting for the wounded Palestinians to reach Egypt. "

Protesters lead global chorus against Zionist state
Daily Star 12/29/2008
Condemnation from around the globe of Israel’s onslaught against the Gaza Strip picked up pace Sunday, with protests condemning the attacks that have left at least 296 Palestinians dead and leaders of major powers calling for a halt of the violence. British police arrested three people at a protest against the bombardment of Gaza outside the Israeli Embassy in London on Sunday. Traffic in the up-scale central London district of Kensington where the embassy is located was brought to a halt by hundreds of protesters - organizers estimated 3,000, while police put the figure at 700. Protesters waved Palestinian flags and placards, shouting in unison: "Israel is a terror state!" At one point, barriers containing the protesters were torn down and riot police were deployed to restore order - with several protesters forcibly removed.

Anne Penketh: Lack of condemnation as good as approval for Israel
The Independent 12/29/2008
Israel will consider that it has a green light to pursue its strategic goal of bringing down Hamas in the Gaza Strip in the absence of international condemnation and a power vacuum in the United States for three more weeks. The initial reaction from Britain and the United States will have been interpreted in Israel as weak. Neither Gordon Brown nor the Foreign Office called on Israel to halt its bombing raids as the Palestinian death toll rose. But a Downing Street spokesman called on the "Gazan militants" to "cease all rocket attacks on Israel immediately". Mr Brown’s expression of concern revived uncomfortable memories of his predecessor Tony Blair who rejected international calls for a ceasefire by Israel during its 34-day war on Lebanon in 2006. Only yesterday, after the UN Security Council had spoken, did the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, call for an "immediate halt to all violence".

Israel Allows Humanitarian Supplies Into Gaza
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/28/2008
Israeli radio reported on Sunday that Israel allowed in some shipments of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip through the southern commercial crossing of Karem Abu Salem, the Palestinian Maan News Agency published. The radio reported that about 30 trucks, loaded with food assistance, provided by international humanitarian organizations, were let into Gaza today at noon. The shipment included five ambulances sent by Egypt to the Gaza Strip, the radio added. Gaza’s Health Ministry of the ruling Hamas party, launched yesterday an appeal to concerned international bodies that its hospitals lack urgent medical supplies and medicine, as Israel has tightened its closures of Gaza for more than two months now, resulting in an all out sige on the civilians of Gaza. No official Palestinian sources in Gaza verified the report.

Gaza crossings remain closed; trickle of aid goes through south
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – After consultations with several interested parties Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave orders to keep all the Gaza Strip crossings closed Sunday. Some aid was permitted to enter the Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing, though there has been no indication as to how much went through. [end]

IDF ground forces gather on Gaza border; cabinet approves call-up of 6,700 reservists
Amos Harel Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
The Israel Defense Forces massed troops near the Gaza border yesterday in preparation for a possible ground operation against Hamas. In parallel, the cabinet approved a relatively small call-up of the reserves - some 6,700 soldiers - in case they are needed for the operation. Defense sources said, however, that additional reservists may be called up as the fighting continues. By comparison, only a few thousand reservists were called up in the first days of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. By the end of the war, however, some 62,000 reservists had been called up. The air force struck more than 100 targets yesterday, the second day of Israel’s aerial bombardment of Gaza. According to Palestinian sources, the bombings killed 43 people, bringing the death toll for the two-day operation to 294. Among the targets were 40 smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, which. . .

’There’s a strong likelihood that people are dying needlessly’
Toni O'Loughlin in Jerusalem, The Guardian 12/29/2008
Even before Saturday when dead bodies piled up outside morgues and people with missing limbs were forced to wait for surgery, Gaza’s hospitals were in crisis. With power blackouts lasting up to 12 hours a day, 20% of drugs out of stock, medical equipment standing idle for want of spare parts and stores emptied of basic items, doctors had been turning patients away for months. "The hospitals in Gaza are in a disastrous situation, starved of essential drugs for months and now overwhelmed with casualties from this onslaught. Only the most serious cases are getting any attention," said Chris Gunness, the UN’s Relief and Works Agency spokesman. "There’s a strong likelihood that people are dying needlessly. "Ever since Israel sealed off Gaza in June 2007, allowing only minimum deliveries, there have been shortages of food, fuel and medical supplies.

Israel considers ground attack as it mobilises more troops
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 12/29/2008
Israel’s cabinet yesterday approved the call-up of thousands of reservists as the military deployed tanks close to the border with Gaza while pressing on with air strikes, suggesting a major ground invasion was being considered to follow the biggest single day of conflict in Gaza since the 1967 war. Ehud Olmert, Israel’s prime minister, reportedly told a cabinet meeting the fighting in Gaza would be "long, painful and difficult". After two days of air raids, more than 290 Palestinians have been killed, and more than 600 injured. Gaza’s hospitals, already short of supplies, had corpses lying on their floors as the morgues filled up. In an attempt to escape the mayhem, hundreds of Gazans broke through the border fence with Egypt at Rafah, where Palestinian gunmen and Egyptian border guards traded gunfire, killing one Egyptian and one Palestinian.

At least 296 dead as Israelis pound Gaza
Daily Star 12/29/2008
At least 296 Palestinians were killed and more than 900 wounded over the weekend as Israel launched its largest attack on the Gaza Strip since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Late Saturday morning 80 Israeli fighter-bombers and attack helicopters carried out the first wave of raids. Dozens of sorties dropped more than 100 bombs on 150 Hamas targets, destroying 40, including police stations and military installations, in a matter of minutes. Early Sunday morning a second wave targeted a mosque and Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV station. Simultaneously, the Israeli Army massed tanks and hundreds of troops on the Gaza border in preparation for a possible ground invasion. Most of those killed and wounded were Hamas military and police personnel. However, dozens of Palestinian civilians were also among the dead. The civilian casualties are expected to rise.

Two Katyusha rockets hit Ashdod area, Gaza militants’ furthest target yet
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a barrage of at least 40 rockets at the western Negev on Sunday, as the Israel Air Force continued to pound the coastal territory for a second day. Two Katyusha rockets, with a diameter of 122 mm, exploded near the northern Negev city of Ashdod. More than 30 kilometers from Gaza, this was the deepest into Israel a Palestinian rocket has yet to strike. The rockets, which are the most improved versions of the Palestinian missiles, have a range of up to 40 kilometers. The particular rockets that struck on Sunday traveled 37 and 35 kilometers. At least three more rockets exploded earlier in Ashkelon, leaving one woman with light shrapnel wounds. Another four rockets struck the Eshkol region of the western Negev.

Israeli Army Call Up 6,500 Reservist for Ground Invasion
Justin Theriault, International Middle East Media Center News 12/28/2008
The Israeli Military announced on Sunday that it has called up 6,500 reservists to duty active duty as Israel amasses it’s ground forces alongside the Gaza Border, Israeli online Haaretz reports. This is being hailed as the largest military offensive on the Gaza Strip since the 1967 war, when Israel captured Gaza. The Israel Army will call up 6,500 reservists to duty, as part of the largest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip since it captured the territory in 1967. Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel, in a statement to the press said that, "the Israel Defense Forces will, in the coming days, call up more reservists. " Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, has thus far not said that a ground assault is certain, but judging from the calling up of 6,500 reservists, and the manifestation of ground troops and assault forces along Gaza’s border, it seems as though a ground invasion was planned to follow the air strikes all along.

Israel mobilizes 6,500 reservists for Gaza operation
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Thousands of Israeli reservists were recalled to duty one day following the deadliest attack on a Palestinian target since Israel first began its occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The Israeli army called some 6,500 reservists at the request of the Israeli Cabinet, which approved a proposal sought by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. In preparation for a possible ground invasion, hundreds of other infantry and armored corps soldiers were called to the Gaza Strip border early on Sunday. Israel’s air force launched a barrage of strikes against Palestinian targets in Gaza on Saturday, killing nearly 300 people and injuring close to 1,000, the deadliest day for Palestinians since the Gaza Strip was occupied in 1967. On Sunday, the air force fired missiles at a mosque and television station, killing three and injuring seven.

Two People Killed as Smuggling Tunnels Destroyed in Renewed Israeli Air Raids
Rami Almeghari&Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/28/2008
Renewed Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip this evening resulted in the death of two people, and the injury of at least twenty others, medics and witnesses reported. Israeli warplanes this afternoon raided the Egyptian-Palestinian border lines in the southern Gaza Strip, destroying scores of underground tunnels used by Palestinians to bring in essential goods that a prolonged Israeli closure has made scarce. Medics said that pillars of smoke filled the sky as some of the tunnels that were hit had been used to bring in gasoline from nearby Egypt. Many of the people on the border line with Egypt escaped the fire to the Egyptian side of the border, witnesses said. Witnesses added that Egyptian security personnel opened fire towards the crowds, causing the many Palestinians to be injured. Also, Israel sealed off the Rafah crossing terminal following the incidents, after it was reopened yesterday to let wounded cross.

Video of the devastation in Gaza
International Solidarity Movement 12/28/2008
Gaza Region -Video by ISM Gaza Strip - 27th December 2008 - A massive Israeli military operation began throughout the Gaza Strip today. Multiple Israeli air strikes hit many different areas this morning and continued sporadically throughout the day. The destruction was widespread. At the time of writing over 200 people have been killed with the death toll still rising. Hundreds of people have been injured, many severely. These images were filmed shortly after one of the bombings in the southern Gaza town of Rafah. They show the devastation at the site of a police station in the Hi Alijnina neighbourhood which was hit at approximately 11:30am local time. There were also missile strikes in the Tel Al Sultan, Moraj and Mashrua districts of Rafah. This assault occurred during the busy weekly market in Rafah and as school sessions were ending, so the streets were crowded and full of children.

Israeli Air Force shells the Islamic University in Gaza
Saed Bannoura @ Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/28/2008
The Israeli army continued its military offensive against the Gaza Strip and shelled on Sunday at night buildings that belong to the Islamic University in Gaza City. Kamaleen Shaath, Head of the Islamic University in Gaza said that the Israeli army does not hesitate in hitting any target in Gaza as the army shelled a mosque, hospital and several civilian facilities. The Qatar-based AL Jazeera Satellite news channel reported said that several buildings were shelled in the university including a residency for female students. Waleed AL Mudallal, one of the lecturers at the Islamic University, said in a phone interview with Al Jazeera that the university decided yesterday to announce a three -- day mourning in protest to the Israeli military crimes. Al Mudallal added that the carried previously repeated Israeli strikes that targeted the university, including an air strike that. . .

Israeli occupation air strike against a university, a mosque and fishing harbour
Palestinian Information Center 12/28/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation airforce, Sunday night, continued its air strikes on the Gaza Strip targeting a number of targets, including the Islamic university and the Imad Aqel Mosque. The Islamic University in Gaza is the largest and oldest of the Gaza Strip universities, it was established in 1978 and grew to become the main university in the Strip with about 25,000 students in various faculties of the university. The aerial bombardment of the university resulted in the destruction of a number of buildings and setting them ablaze. No human casualties were reported so far. Another air strike targeted a mosque in the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. Initial reports talk of the three deaths as well as a number of injuries. This is the third mosque to be targeted since the start of this latest Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Civilian houses and medical centres targeted by Israeli air-strikes
International Solidarity Movement 12/28/2008
Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip have been ongoing through the night, with civilian houses and medical centres being targeted by Israeli air-strikes. International Human Rights Workers are continuing to witness and document the escalating devastation. Two houses that internationals were staying in last night (night of 27th December), suffered almost direct hits from Israeli missiles, one in Rafah and one in Jabaliya. "I was woken by an incredibly loud explosion that felt like it was on top of us. We ran for the door, but the blast had welded it shut. The windows had been blown in so we crawled out through them. As we came on to the street, everyone was out. The medical centre next-door had been hit. Medical equipment was strewn over the road. Equipment here is so low anyway due to the Israeli siege, to see it wasted on the street was heartbreaking". . .

Preparing for a possible invasion
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
"The combat vests are ready and the weapons are greased," the first soldier said. "Our parents are phoning, but we just don’t answer," said another. On Sunday, soldiers from a wide range of units deployed outside the Gaza Strip. Tanks from the 7th Armored Brigade deployed not far from the northern end of the border as infantry from the Paratroop and Golani Brigades arrived at bases throughout the South ahead of a possible ground incursion. Soldiers from Battalion 101 of the Paratroop Brigade said they were ready for an operation to begin. "The soldiers don’t show it, but they are scared," one officer said. "We’re getting ready and believe that we’re prepared for whatever we will face in Gaza. " On the northern edge of the border, soldiers from Battalion 75 of the 7th Armored Brigade were preparing their Merkava Mk 3 tanks.

Israel pounds Gaza for second day
The Independent 12/28/2008
Israel pounded Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip from the air today for a second day and prepared for a possible invasion of the territory after killing nearly 290 Palestinians in the opening rounds of a powerful offensive. Israel said the campaign that began yesterday was a response to almost daily rocket and mortar fire that intensified after Hamas, an Islamist group in charge of the coastal enclave Israel quit in 2005, ended a six-month ceasefire a week ago. Despite the air attacks, militants fired some 80 rockets into Israel, emergency services said. In one of the longest-reaching salvoes, two rockets struck near Ashdod, a main port 18 miles from Gaza, causing no casualties. Israeli tanks deployed on the edge of the Gaza Strip, poised to enter the densely populated enclave of 1. 5 million Palestinians.

IOF air strikes claim more lives, start fires in bombed buildings
Palestinian Information Center 12/28/2008
RAFAH, (PIC)-- Israeli warplanes on Sunday blasted more targets in the Gaza Strip including a fuel truck in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, which started a huge fire that engulfed nearby homes. Eyewitnesses said that Israeli warplanes fired a number of rockets at a big truck loaded with fuel starting huge fire that extended to nearby homes. They said that inhabitants fled their homes and miraculously escaped death, noting that a store for medicines was destroyed in the fire that threatened the entire neighborhood. The warplanes also blasted the Tal Al-Sultan police station west of Rafah city, the locals reported. Later Sunday, Israeli F-16s raided the security compound in Gaza city called "Saraya" that hosts a number of security apparatuses and includes a central prison. The building dates back to the Ottoman era.

Armed groups call for retaliation, fire projectiles at Israeli targets
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian armed groups stepped up rhetoric and retaliatory operations on Sunday, launching dozens of projectiles at Israeli targets following a day of airstrikes that killed nearly 300 Palestinians. Fatah’s militant wing announced that it plans to resume "martyrdom" operations inside Israeli cities and has also threatened to target and destroy Israeli military and security establishments. It also called a state of alert in order to retaliate for Israeli attacks in Gaza. “The Israelis can choose either to depart or to die on this holy land,” a Sunday statement from the Al-Aqsa Brigades said. Israeli sources said two of the projectiles fired Sunday were Katyusha rockets, a departure from the standard homemade projectiles usually launched. The rockets landed in the northern Negev city of Ashdod.

Israeli jets continue pounding besieged Gaza
Middle East Online 12/28/2008
GAZA CITY - Israel warned on Sunday it could send ground troops into Gaza as its warplanes continued pounding Gaza where more than 280 Palestinians have been killed in just 24 hours. Hamas responded by firing rockets the deepest yet into Israel, with one hitting without causing casualties not far from Ashdod, home to Israel’s second-largest port some 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of Gaza, medics said. In the latest international call for the violence to end, the United Nations Security Council met in emergency session and urged an immediate halt to all military operations. But Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak vowed to expand the mammoth bombing campaign. "The IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) will expand and deepen its operations in Gaza as much as necessary," he told reporters before a cabinet meeting.

VIDEO - Israel targets pharmacy in Rafah
International Solidarity Movement 12/28/2008
Video by ISM Gaza Strip - Shortly before 7:00am local time, yet another Israeli missile strike hit the residential neighbourhood of Hi Alijnina in the southern Gaza town of Rafah. This time a pharmacy was targeted, totally destroying the building and causing severe damage to surrounding homes. Electricity lines were torn down during the blast and the street was littered with medicines. This footage was filmed within minutes of the attack as fire fighters battled to control the blaze. Shocked residents poured into the streets, some still wearing pyjamas. [end]

Man, woman dead after house shelled in Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Israel’s air force shelled a house in the Az-Zeitoun area of the Gaza Strip, killing two Palestinians late on Sunday. The latest attack brought the death toll of Israel’s ongoing campaign in the Gaza Strip to 292. The shelling apparently targeted a Palestinian security post and a residential building in the Tal Al-Hawa neighborhood in the south of Gaza City. A car was also targeted at An-Nuseirat Refugee Camp early on Sunday evening. [end]

Two dead, 22 injured in Israeli airstrike on Rafah tunnels
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Israel’s air force shelled a tunnel area in Rafah on Sunday, killing two Palestinians and injuring 22. The new airstrikes targeted Palestinian security buildings and tunnels that provided Gaza with fuel, which led to fires along the border. Hundreds of residents and those working in the tunnel industry poured to the border with Egypt, where Egyptian border police tried to stop them. [end]

On the Bloodiest Day in the History of Occupation, Hundreds of Palestinian Civilian Deaths and Casualties in an Israeli Aerial Offensive against the Gaza Strip
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 12/27/2008
PCHR condemns in the strongest terms the war waged by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) against the Gaza Strip through a wide scale aerial offensive, which has so far targeted dozens of police headquarters and stations, public and governmental buildings and security sites throughout the Gaza Strip. PCHR calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and international organizations to immediately intervene to stop the killings being committed by IOF in the Gaza Strip, and to put an end to the current unprecedented deterioration in the human rights situation and humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip. According to initial information available to PCHR, at least 190 Palestinians, many of whom are policemen including Major General Tawfiq Jaber, chief

Israeli forces kill resident of Ni’lin and leave another in critical condition during demonstration of solidarity with Gaza
International Solidarity Movement 12/28/2008
Ramallah Region - Israeli forces have killed one Palestinian man from Ni’lin, while another is in critical condition, as they opened fire on a demonstration against the Israeli massacre ofthe people of Gaza. Arafat Rateb Khawaje, 22 years old, was shot in the back with live ammunition, he died at 2:45pm in Ramallah Hospital. Mohammed Kasim Khawaje, 20 years old, was shot in the forehead with live ammunition from close range. He remains in critical condition in Ramallah hospital. Mohammed Sror was shot in the leg with live ammunition, but his injuries are not critical. Israeli activist Jonathan Polack said that; "Fifteen Palestinian youths were protesting when five soldiers, who were 15 metres away opened fire with live ammunition straight at the group of protesters. They shot one protester in the back, one in the forehead and one in the leg" Ibrahim. . .

Young Palestinian protester killed by Israeli fire
Jackie Khoury, Haaretz Service and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
A young Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire Sunday, while protesting Israel’s raid on the Gaza Strip. 22-year-old Arafat Khawaja from the West Bank village of Naalin was shot in the chest. Another protester was also shot and is in critical condition. Thousands of protesters gathered at Dir al-Assad junction to protest Israel’s strike on Gaza. What started out as an authorized demonstration turned violent as Palestinians began hurling stones at police forces, who responded with tear gas. IDF soldiers who were called to stop the demonstration say they responded with fire as their lives were in danger. The incident is now being investigated. Related articles:Hamas: Time for a third Intifada 3 senior Hamas officers among 230 killed during IAF strikes in GazaOlmert: Our desire for quiet was met with terror. . .

Popular anger rocks West Bank
Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 12/28/2008
In response to the ongoing destruction of Gaza, the West Bank has witnessed a massive upheaval. Demonstrations have escalated since yesterday and spread like wildfire to more than ten villages, towns and cities. Youth have taken to the streets and fields, hurling stones and firebombs at Occupation positions. Soldiers responded with force, killing one in Ni’lin and injuring scores more. Rage has also been directed against the PNA, which has been using its security against popular actions in Ramallah and Hebron. In the Ramallah district, protests and clashes occurred in Ramallah city as well as in the villages of Ni’lin and Bi’lin. An open-ended general strike has been put into effect in Ramallah. Ramallah city has been the site of various demonstrations throughout the day, many of which have been attacked by the security forces.

West Bank Palestinian killed as clashes erupt during rally for Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Protests against Israeli airstrikes in Gaza continued across the West Bank and East Jerusalem on Sunday while a comprehensive strike was declared throughout the country. In Ni’lin, weekly Friday protests continued until Sunday, when clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli soldiers. The clashes saw one Palestinian killed and six others injured. The slain man was identified as A’raft Al-Khwaja. Among the injured was Mohammad Al-Khawaja, who was shot in the head. He and others were transferred to a Ramallah hospital. At Shufat Refugee Camp in East Jerusalem, hundreds of youths rallied and threw stones at Israeli soldiers and traffic, where one child was lightly injured. In Hebron, youths hurled Molotov cocktails at an Israeli military post near the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Old City.

People of Nablus take to the streets in solidarity with the people of Gaza
International Solidarity Movement 12/28/2008
Nablus Region - Photos - 27th December 2008 - Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets of Nablus today in a series of demonstrations against the massacre of besieged Palestinians in Gaza - the greatest number of Palestinians to be killed in a single day since the beginning of the Israeli occupation. Upon hearing of the more than 30 Israeli airstrikes that, starting at 11am on Saturday 27th December, killed more than 195 Gazans and injured at least 200 more, spontaneous demonstrations erupted in the centre of Nablus - at Martyr’s square - calling for Palestinians to unite to resist against these attacks. "In this martyr’s square, in front of the blood of all of our martyrs, we call on all [political] parties to return to the negotiating table to discuss unity", called one speaker from the Palestinian People’s Party.

Video- Ni’lin holds two demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza
International Solidarity Movement 12/28/2008
Ramallah Region - Photos - In solidarity with the Gaza, over 350 residents of Ni’lin and 8 international solidarity activists marched towards the checkpoint at the entrance of the village at 6:15pm. After the prayer, hundreds gathered in the center of the village. They marched together to protest the brutal murder of over 210 Gazans and injury of over 340 as a result of Israeli Air Force raids earlier this morning. The group was dispersed when Israeli soldiers began to shoot tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets. Residents remained on the street until 8pm expressing their desire for an end to killings. This demonstration is a continuation of an earlier one at the checkpoint. At around 1pm, about 40 residents along with 8 international solidarity activists protested the violent attacks on Gaza.

Two civilians Injured by Israeli Army Fire Near Bethlehem
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 12/28/2008
Two Palestinian civilians where injured on Sunday when Israeli troops attacked a protest in the village of al-Ma’ssara, located near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem. The Protest was organized to condemn the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. So far, 286 Palestinians have been killed, and at least 900 others injured during the Israeli military air raids on Gaza that started on Saturday morning. Local sources said that villagers marched to the nearby military post carrying flags and banners demanding the Israeli attacks on Gaza come to a halt. Israeli soldiers fired rubber coated steel bullets at protesters, injuring two civilians. [end]

Youth burn car tires and throw Molotov cocktails at Israeli military posts in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian youth hurled Molotov Cocktails at an Israeli military post near the Ibrahimi Mosque in the old city Hebron in the southern West Bank Sunday. The Israeli press said the youth, protesting the Israeli atrocities in Gaza, set fire to car tires and threw Molotov cocktails at the Israeli military post in the West Bank city. On Saturday protests erupted in all West Bank cities and in several neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. In Hebron and refugee camps in Jerusalem clashes broke out when Israeli soldiers tried to stifle the angry crowds who demanded a stop to the Israeli violence. [end]

Israeli Army Injures 20 Civilians in Hebron During Several Protests Against Attacks on Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 12/28/2008
In Hebron, medical sources reported that 20 Palestinian civilians were injured on Sunday during protests in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. The protests were organized against Israel’s continued attacks on Gaza, which started on Saturday morning and so far have left 286 Palestinians killed and at least 900 others injured. Doctors at the Hebron governmental hospital told media that the injures were caused, for the most part, by the Israeli Army’s rubber-coated steal bullets and tear gas. The sources said that most of the protests took place in the older part of Hebron city, and nearby villages. [end]

Defiant leaders dismiss calls to reinstate ceasefire
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 12/29/2008
In public the leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas have been defiant in the face of Israeli military air strikes on Gaza. Khaled Meshal, the group’s political leader, called for a "third uprising" among Palestinians. Other senior Hamas figures have vowed revenge and dismissed talk of reviving a ceasefire with Israel. Those comments match public anger among Gazans, which seems to have done little to dent support for the movement that won Palestinian elections three years ago and then seized full control of Gaza last year. Some more pragmatic elements within Hamas had been arguing in favour of the ceasefire with Israel which began in June. But although the ceasefire brought a halt to Israeli military operations and stopped the rocket fire into southern Israel, it did little to ease Israel’s tough economic siege of the Gaza Strip.

In response to Gaza raids, Hamas threatens to assassinate Livni, Barak
Amos Harel Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
Hamas on Sunday threatened to respond to an ongoing Israel Defense Forces assault on the Gaza Strip by assassinating senior Israeli officials. Senior Hamas official Fatah Hamad specifically threatened Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. He also threatened that Hamas would go after senior Palestinian Authority officials in the West Bank, as well as "those in the Arab world who have conspired against us," - an apparent reference to Egypt. PA President Mahmoud Abbas, however, said that Hamas could have prevented Israel’s assault had it only agreed to extend the cease-fire, and he urged it to do so now. Late Sunday Israel Air Force warplanes attacked a building in the Jebaliya refugee camp next to Gaza City, killing a 14-month-old baby, Gaza Health Ministry official said.

IDF predicts Hamas will renew rocket attacks within 24 hours
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
Israel continued to pound the Gaza Strip on Sunday, striking at 40 tunnels along the Philadelphi Corridor as the defense establishment received approval to call up thousands of reservists and considered sending ground forces deep into Gaza to hunt down and destroy Hamas infrastructure. IDF continues airstrike on the Gaza Strip, attacks prison, homes of Hamas field commanders Early Monday, IAF aircraft bombed the Islamic University and government compound in Gaza City, centers of Hamas power. Witnesses saw fire and smoke at the university, counting six separate air strikes there just after midnight. Forces were placed on high alert across the country as Military Intelligence warned of a Hamas "showcase" terror attack - including the possible abduction of a soldier - to avenge the massive and unprecedented bombardment of Gaza and the killing of close to 300 Palestinians since Saturday.

Hamas: Severing relations with Israel, opening Rafah crossing practical response
Palestinian Information Center 12/28/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Saturday said that the "practical response to the ongoing Zionist aggression on the Gaza Strip is to sever relations with the Zionist enemy and to open the Rafah border terminal with Egypt". A Hamas statement said that hundreds of Palestinians were the victims of a "Zionist criminal, brutal and savage aggression" in an attempt to subdue the steadfast Gaza with the collusion of official Arab and Palestinian parties and with unlimited support from the American administration. Hamas said that the aggression will be defeated and the scenes of blood and scattered bodies would not weaken the Palestinian steadfastness. The Movement strongly denounced the statement of one of the advisors of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas who blamed Hamas for the IOF aggression, and asked Abbas to sack him as a minimum punishment for such a "shameful position".

Hamas: Gaza hard to break
Palestinian Information Center 12/28/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- Hamas’s spokesman in Khan Younis district, south of the Gaza Strip, Hammad Al-Rokob affirmed that the brutal Israeli aggressions on Gaza were meant to subjugate the Palestinian resistance and the Gaza Strip. But he stressed that the Israeli efforts in this regard would fail despite the Arabs’ feeble reaction towards the Israeli massacre going on in Gaza. "It is clear that amidst the unsolicited Palestinians political division that wasn’t of Hamas’s choice and the weak Arab position vis-à-vis the Israeli atrocities against the Gaza civilians, Gaza would pay the bill of the dignity of the entire Arab Ummah. "The (Israeli) enemy might think that he could subjugate Gaza; but it tried Gaza before and knows that it is hard to break", Rokob stressed,"We, in Hamas, have no huge military arsenal, sophisticated weapons, and big army"¦.

’Hamas looking to change picture’
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
Israel delivered a heavy blow to Hamas Saturday and the organization’s leadership was in shock, but looking for ways to surprise Israel and "change the picture," Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin told the cabinet at its weekly meeting Sunday. "Hamas has not yet responded, and may even try to surprise us," Diskin said. He said the organization viewed Saturday’s attacks as the"first blow," but was now looking for courses of action that would change the situation. Diskin was among the top security officials who briefed the cabinet Sunday, including Chief of General Staff Lt. -Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The purpose of the meeting was to hear briefings on the situation, and not to debate the goals of the operation, one government official said.

Wave of protests sweeps Arab towns; Top cop: No repeat of October 2000 riots
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
Police will remain on high alert today to deal with a wave of disturbances among Israeli Arabs and residents of East Jerusalem. There is also concern that Palestinian terror groups might try to carry out attacks in protest against Israel’s military action in the Gaza Strip. Police Commissioner David Cohen held a series of consultations yesterday to assess the extent of violence in the area of Arab towns known as the Triangle, roughly bounded by Baka al-Garbiyeh, Taibeh and Tira, and in towns with mixed Arab-Jewish populations. Cohen also sais that there was little chance that the disturbances would escalate to the level of the October 2000 riots, in which 13 Arabs were killed. A senior police official said yesterday that the police have no intelligence about an expected escalation of violence among Israeli Arabs.

Israeli Arabs protesting Gaza campaign clash with police
Yoav Stern and Jack Khoury , and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
Violent clashes erupted on Sunday between Israel Police officers and Israeli Arabs in the town of Umm al-Fahm, where protesters have been staging a mass demonstration against the Israeli campaign in Gaza, which has so far killed more than 280 Palestinians and wounded scores more. The confrontation was sparked after protesters began throwing stones at police forces. Another protest by Israeli Arabs has been taking place near the Dir al-Assad junction on route 85. The demonstration there turned violent after activists began hurling stones at police forces, who responded with tear gas. Massive police forces have been deployed to the area. A senior official in the Northern Israel police said the protests were authorized under the condition that the demonstrators refrain from rioting and don’t disrupt traffic.

Palestinian leaders in Israel declare strike, call for boycott
Appeal, The Higher Follow Up Committee for Arab Citizens of, Electronic Intifada 12/28/2008
In the presence of all national alliances, an urgent meeting for the Follow up Committee was held today declaring Sunday 28 December 2008 a general strike in protest of the Israeli massacres committed against Palestinians in Gaza. The meeting called for the organization of demonstrations and marches in every Arab town in al-Naqab [Negev], the Triangle, the Galilee areas and coastal towns as a symbol of the rage and severe grief of the Palestinian nation upon the loss of hundreds of its citizens in Gaza. It was decided that the High Follow Up Committee remains on alert to hold further meetings to take steps in resistance and to stop the consistent aggression and break the siege on Gaza including the opening of all border crossings especially that of Rafah. The following political message stemmed from the meeting:Considering the Israeli aggression against Palestinians in Gaza an assault against Palestinian People everywhere and our duty is to resist it and break the siege.

Protests flare up in Arab Israeli sector over Gaza
Brenda Gazzar And Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
Israeli Arabs closed their schools and shops on Sunday in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, and some rioted as the IDF operation in the Strip continued for a second day. The general strike was called late Saturday night by the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, which includes political representatives from the national and local levels. "We are part of the Palestinian people as well and our people are going through a tough time. There is a lot of suffering because of the casualties there," said MK Hanna Sweid (Hadash), a member of the committee. "It’s our way of showing our sympathy with them and our solidarity. It is also an objection to the policies of Israel, which is pursuing the issue with force and not by negotiations. " As they did on Saturday, police in the North dealt with a series of rock-throwing attacks and demonstrations held by Arabs against the IDF operation in Gaza.

West Bank factions announce protest coalition
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an - National and Islamic factions announced Sunday the formation of a leadership coalition for "daily action that would interact with those who took to the streets over the past two days in protest to the Israeli attacks on Gaza. " This leadership group will organize daily activities in all parts of the West Bank, it said in a statement. Factions had called for Palestinians to carry Palestinian and black flags in all of their actions in the West Bank, adding that the leadership will work with all organizations of the civil community and each of the anti-occupation committees, aiming at “lifting the siege, resisting the construction of the wall on a daily basis until the occupation has ended. ”This statement was released after an urgent meeting that was held by national and Islamic factions in the West Bank city of Ramallah to discuss consequences of Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Fatah: Hamas kept Fatah men in targeted prison compound, ensuring their deaths
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The West Bank Fatah movement accused the de facto government in the Gaza Strip of refusing to release 51 Fatah-affiliated prisoners held in the As-Saraya security compound, bombed by Israeli warplanes Sunday morning. Families of the prisoners killed in the bombing said “Hamas militants insisted on preventing prisoners from leaving the compound at gunpoint and even gathered all prisoners in one room to be an easy target. ”Several prison wardens were also injured. Fatah spokesperson Ahmad Abd Ar-Rahman called on Hamas to release all political prisoners immediately. He said held Hamas responsible for the death of dozens of Fatah activists detained at the Al-Mashtal and As-Saraya compounds, saying they should have been set free to find shelter and safety. Abd Ar-Rahman also called on Hamas to allow prisoners who survived the shelling to go free, adding. . .

PFLP: PA negotiation with IOA covers up for massacres
Palestinian Information Center 12/28/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Dr. Maher Al-Taher, one of the prominent political leaders of the popular front for the liberation of Palestine, has asked the PA leadership in Ramallah to stop all talks with the Israeli occupation authority and to reconsider agreements signed with it. Taher told Al-Jazeera TV that the continuation of negotiations with the IOA serves the Zionist program. "What is happening (in Gaza) is a crime against the Palestinian people that could not be covered by Palestinians through continuing those talks," he elaborated. The PFLP official also called for re-considering agreements with Israel because it practically cancelled them. Taher advocated a national, comprehensive dialog among all Palestinians to form a unified national leadership that would run the Palestinian affairs. Meanwhile, a Saudi religious scholar, Dr.

PA Ministry of Health sends medical supplies to Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Ministry of Health of the Caretaker government in Ramallah sent four truckloads of medical equipment to the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Reports of dire conditions in Gaza hospitals were compounded after Israeli airstrikes hit medical supply warehouses and the Ash-Shifa hospital compound Saturday night. Caretaker Minister of Health Fathi Abu Moghli called the Israeli attacks “barbarian” and noted that the “ministry is sending this aid to our people in the Gaza Strip to help them treat the large numbers of injuries caused by Israeli aggression. ”The minister also highlighted that his ministry tried repeatedly to send medical aid to Gaza, but the Israelis continuously prevented its passage. He called on the international community to ensure that aid is able to get through to Gaza. Israeli authorities have refused entry to multiple aid truck, saying that UN trucks must be used to carry the aid.

’Shrapnel hit the place where we were hiding’
Ben Lynfield in Ashkelon, Israel, The Independent 12/29/2008
The orange-haired, freckled 12-year-old was remarkably calm as he recounted his escape from a Qassam rocket. "[My mother and I] heard two alarms and I went outside a little bit to look," said Yossi Shalev as he sat in the casualty unit at Barzilai Hospital, which has been moved to a basement to protect it from Palestinian shelling. "I saw something black in the sky that was flying quickly and I went back in. My mother and I were crouched down. The rocket fell in the street, about five or six metres from us. Shrapnel hit the container we were in in six places. "Only his T-shirt was torn, leaving his relatives insisting that it was a Hanukkah miracle. "I have a lot of luck," the boy admitted. His story will reinforce among his countrymen the sense that the attacks in Gaza are justified. As of yesterday, only a handful of people in southern Israel had suffered shock or been slightly hurt after more than 20 rockets and mortars hit the area.

Hamas increases range of rockets, but paucity of missiles surprises IDF
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
Palestinians have fired more than 140 rockets and mortars into Israel proper over the course of the last two days, far less than forecast by the Israel Defense Forces. Yesterday, Palestinians launched upgraded Katyushas with a maximum range of 40 kilometers. The rockets landed in moshavim adjacent to Ashdod. The two long-range Katyushas fired yesterday were made either in China or Iran. Their maximum range is just shy of 40 kilometers; those fired reached a maximum distance of 34. 4 kilometers. According to IDF assessments, Palestinian terrorist groups are capable of firing some 200 (some reports put the number at 300) rockets per day. At this stage, it remains unclear whether the low number or rockets stems from the potency of the blow dealt Hamas in the Israel Air Force aerial assault of two days ago, or that Hamas is tactically waiting an opportune moment to deal a powerful strike to Israel proper.

Kibbutzim provide shelter to those in range of rockets
Eli Ashkenazi, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
The Kibbutz Movement has implemented a plan to host families from 26 kibbutzim within rocket range of the Gaza Strip. Most of the host kibbutzim are in northern Israel. The movement has asked kibbutzim to host families and individuals, noting that the hosting plan was successfully carried out during the Second Lebanon War when residents of kibbutzim in the Upper Galilee were evacuated southward out of Katyusha range. By the weekend a number of families from Kibbutz Kfar Aza had been moved to kibbutzim Nir David and Ma’aleh Hahamisha. Some 80 teens from kibbutzim Zikim, Carmiya and Yad Mordechai arrived yesterday at a boarding school at Kibbutz Mishmar Ha’emek where they are to stay for two nights. Over the weekend a group of HaShomer Hatzair World Movement youth participating in a program at Kibbutz Holit were also being hosted at Kibbutz Mishmar Ha’emek.

Armed groups fire two Katyusha rockets at northern Negev
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – A Palestinian armed group fired two Katyusha rockets toward the northern Negev city of Ashdod in Israel on Sunday, the furthest distance reached yet for a projectile launched from Gaza. The two rockets exploded near Ashdod, which is more than 30 kilometers from Gaza, without causing injuries or damage, according to Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz. Fighters stepped up rhetoric and retaliatory operations Saturday and Sunday, launching at least 14 projectiles at Israeli targets following a day of airstrikes that killed more than 200 Gazans. Israeli media reported that eight were injured when a projectile landed near the city of Ashkelon. Fatah’s military wing announced that it will resume bombing operations inside Israeli cities and has threatened to hit and destroy the Israeli military and security entities.

Two wounded by rocket in Ashkelon
Abe Selig, Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
Warning sirens sounded in Ashdod Sunday morning as two rockets launched from the Gaza Strip landed east of the city. Hamas launches rockets on Ashdod, furthest hit yet, several wounded by shrapnel in Ashkelon Over 35 rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Sunday, as two of the projectiles, reported to be Grad-type rockets - landed near Ashdod, some 40 kilometers from Gaza. While the total number of rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza was significantly lower than Saturday’s barrage of over 60 missiles, the strike near Ashdod marked the farthest point into Israel a Hamas rocket has reached since the terrorist organization began firing them on Israel some eight years ago. Warning sirens were heard throughout the city - the country’s largest port town after Haifa - around 9:30 Sunday morning, followed by loud booms.

Ashkelon hospital moves its essential departments underground
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 12/28/2008
Fearing missile strikes from the Gaza Strip, Ashkelon’s Barzilai Hospital on Saturday moved its most essential departments into an underground bomb shelter. The hospital in this city of 120,000 people about 17 kilometers (11 miles) north of the Gaza border has sent half its patients home to get them out of harm’s way. Those remaining have been placed in cramped rooms previously used for storage. In February, a rocket from Gaza landed adjacent to the hospital’s helicopter pad and in May a rocket crashed into a busy shopping mall in the city, injuring 14 people. After Israel an air offensive against Palestinian militants in Gaza on Saturday, Barzilai put its emergency plans into operation. It activated a war room, with direct lines to the military, police and paramedics in the field.

NRB, 'Hizbullah Brigades' claim projectile launches at Sufa, Sderot
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Two military factions launched projectiles, two at Israeli military post and three at Sderot. The National Resistance Brigades (NRB), a military wing affiliated to the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), fired two projectiles at the Israeli military post Sufa. The group said in a statement that the shelling came as a reaction to the second day of "Israeli atrocities" in the Gaza Strip. Another military group calling itself the Hizbullah Brigades claimed to have launched three projectiles at the Israeli town of Sderot. [end]

PFLP armed wing fires five projectiles on nearby cities
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)’s armed wing claimed responsibility for firing five homemade projectiles on the nearby Western Negev and southern Israeli town of Ashkelon on Sunday. Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades said in a statement that the shelling, which was apparently carried out in partnership with the Al-Aqsa Brigades, was aimed at an Israeli military post in eastern Rafah. The Brigades affirmed that the projectiles were fired “within the continued response to Israeli crimes in Gaza. ”[end]

Three Grad rockets fired toward Ashdod
Globes Online 12/28/2008
Five kassam rockets landed in Ashkelon and in areas around the Gaza Strip. Three Grad rockets were fired by Hamas from Gaza toward Ashdod this morning. Air raid sirens were also sounded in Yavne. No casualties were reported. One of the rockets fired toward Ashdod landed in the yard of a house in a commnuity in the region. No injuries were reported. Five kassam rockets landed in Ashkelon and in areas around the Gaza Strip. Smoke was reported near the Palmachim road, south of Rishon LeZion. [end]

War’s economic consequences
Avi Temkin, Globes Online 12/28/2008
Why the Gaza operation will not end - economically - like the Second Lebanon War. Naturally, economic calculations are currently of secondary importance to the government’s decision makers. In the near terms, the main efforts will be to reach what will be considered a successful conclusion, militarily and diplomatically, and will not seem like a repeat performance of the Second Lebanon War. But when economic considerations do return to the fore, there actually will be a longing for the way the economy responded to that war’s end. After one quarter, maybe less, the economic ramifications of the battles in the North were essentially forgotten, and the economy returned to the state it was in before the war, with high growth, a rising stock market, low inflation, and a low budget deficit. The situation after the operation in Gaza is liable. . .

Israeli cabinet calls up reservists as Gaza strikes continue
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 12/28/2008
Israel’s cabinet approved a call-up of reservists today, as its military continued attacking Gaza, destroying the main security headquarters after killing more than 280 Palestinians in a first round of strikes yesterday. Israeli tanks were seen deploying in southern Israel, close to the Gaza Strip, raising the prospect that the air raids - which brought the biggest loss of life in a single day in Gaza for more than 40 years - might escalate into a major ground offensive. The latest Israeli attack flattened most of the buildings in the security headquarters, the second time the compound had been attacked in two days. At least four Palestinians were killed. Palestinian militants continued to fire rockets into southern Israel, with two missiles reaching as far as Ashdod, an Israeli port about 18 miles north of Gaza. One Israeli was killed in a rocket attack on Saturday.

Strikes continue on Gaza; 292 dead, more than 1,000 injured
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli airstrikes continued on Gaza throughout Saturday night and into Sunday afternoon. The death toll of the attacks rose to 292, with more than 1,000 injured, 180 of them seriously. Israel began attacks on Gaza at 11:30 Saturday, ostensibly to root out Palestinian military groups launching rockets at Israeli targets. Two massive waves of strikes kicked off the operation, known as Operation Cast Lead, and strikes have continued throughout the night and early morning. The death toll rises with each strike, and as more bodies are pulled out of Saturday’s rubble. A timeline of the latest is as follows: 17:30 - Hundreds of Gaza residents climb border walls toward Egypt; Egyptian border police use force to prevent entry. 17:30 - Two dead, 22 injured in Israeli airstrike on Rafah tunnels. 14:30 - Israeli airstrikes over Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza. . .

A year’s intel gathering yields ’alpha hits’
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
A year of information-gathering by Military Intelligence and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) paved the way Saturday for Operation Cast Lead. At 11:30 a. m. , more than 50 fighter jets and attack helicopters swept into Gazan airspace and dropped more than 100 bombs on 50 targets. The planes reported "alpha hits," IAF lingo for direct hits on the targets, which included Hamas bases, training camps, headquarters and offices. Thirty minutes later, a second wave of 60 jets and helicopters struck at 60 targets, including underground Kassam launchers - placed inside bunkers and missile silos - that had been fitted with timers. Their locations were discovered in an intensive intelligence operation. The goal: to strike at Hamas’s ability to fire rockets into Israel. More than 170 targets were hit by IAF aircraft throughout the day. At least 230 Gazans were killed and over 780 were wounded, according to Palestinian sources. Officials said at least 15 civilians were among the dead.

’Hamas chief of staff may be dead’
Yaakov Katz And Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post 12/29/2008
Conflicting reports emerged Sunday regarding the fate of top Hamas military commander Ahmed Ja’abri, who may have been killed in one of the hundreds of Israeli air strikes against Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Since Operation Cast Lead began on Saturday, the air force has flown over 300 sorties over the Strip, bombing close to 280 different targets. Palestinian and Israeli sources said that Ja’abri, the overall commander of Hamas’s armed wing, Izaddin Kassam, may have been killed in an air strike on a mosque which he frequented. Sources close to Hamas in the Gaza Strip said they could neither confirm nor deny the report. They said that the bodies of many of the victims had yet to be identified and that several bodies were still under the rubbles of demolished buildings. Defense officials said that at least 50 percent of Hamas’s underground rocket launchers had. . .

Six months of secret planning - then Israel moves against Hamas
Ian Black, middle east editor, The Guardian 12/29/2008
Even as Israel’s F16s were aiming their first deadly salvoes at Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, questions were being asked at home and abroad, about what this "shock and awe" campaign was intended to achieve - and what Israel’s exit strategy would be. Preparations - Unlike the confused and improvised Israeli response as the war against Hizbullah in Lebanon unfolded in 2006, Operation Cast Lead appears to have been carefully prepared over a long period. Israeli media reports, by usually well-informed correspondents and analysts, alluded yesterday to six months of intelligence-gathering to pinpoint Hamas targets including bases, weapon silos, training camps and the homes of senior officials. The cabinet spent five hours discussing the plan in detail on December 19 and left the timing up to Ehud Olmert, the caretaker prime minister, and his defence minister Ehud Barak.

MIDEAST: Israeli Attacks Shatter Gaza
Mel Frykberg, Inter Press Service 12/29/2008
RAMALLAH, Dec 28(IPS) - At least 300 Palestinians have been killed and more than 900 wounded as Israel continues to carry out its severest military attack on Gaza since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Late Saturday morning 80 Israeli fighter planes and Apache helicopters launched the first wave of several air attacks over the Gaza strip. Dozens of sorties dropped over a hundred bombs on 150 Hamas targets, destroying 40, including police stations and military installations in a matter of minutes. Early Sunday morning a second wave of Israeli military strikes bombed a mosque and the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV station. Simultaneously, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) amassed hundreds of infantry and armoured corps troops on the Gaza border in preparation for a possible ground invasion. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak rejected calls by the UN and the EU for a ceasefire, and told. . .

Israel prepares to invade Gaza
The Independent 12/29/2008
As Israel’s unprecedentedly fierce bombardment of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip continued into a second day, the UN called yesterday for an independent investigation into how eight young Palestinian students at its main vocational training centre in Gaza City were killed by an air strike as they waited to take the bus home from classes. With Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warning that the offensive was "liable to take longer than we can foresee", ministers authorised the call-up of 6,500 army reservists, and tanks and armoured vehicles took positions along the border, poised for a possible ground invasion, which defence chief Ehud Barak has warned will take place if rocket fire from Gaza is not halted. The Palestinian death toll rose to 296 as the Israeli attack widened to include more than 40 tunnels used by Hamas to circumvent an Israeli blockade and smuggle vital supplies across the border from Egypt.

Cost of calling up 6,700 reservists for Gaza op is NIS 3 million a day
Moti Bassok Zvi Zrahiya and Ora Coren, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
"The cost of calling up 6,700 reservists approved Sunday by the cabinet is over NIS 3 million a day," a senior official in the Finance Ministry said. "The IDF will need to cover any operations of up to a week from its own sources. The funding for an operation lasting longer than a week will be provided based on a cabinet decision. " In a meeting Sunday on Operation Cast Lead, treasury officials held their first, preliminary talks with their counterparts from the Defense Ministry over the budgetary impact of the fighting in Gaza and the rocket attacks in the south. The treasury’s frontline troops in this war are its appraisers and officials who handle compensation for citizens whose property has been damaged by Qassams and other rockets. The 30-strong teams have been ready since last week. The Tax Authority has set up its own center in Sderot to deal with compensation issues, and the Defense Ministry notifies it of all damage.

Reaction: Raids take toll on Gaza
Al Jazeera 12/29/2008
Speaking to Al Jazeera, commentators and political figures share their thoughts on the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip. - Gary Grant, international law expert: "Any country’s first duty is to protect its citizens, it’s called self-defence. The question is, is that self-defence proportionate. Under international law, two things need to be satisfied for Israel’s actions to be considered lawful. One is that they are aiming at legitimate military objects. Israel would say that they are striking at legitimate infrastructure. And of course Hamas is an organisation intent on the destruction of Israel and the Jews in Israel as part of its covenant. . . "/ Mohamed Al-Kashaf, director-general for Gaza’s hospitals: "It is a desperate situation. More than 210 cases arrived within 15 minutes of the bombardment and it was very, very big chaos.

One Civilian Killed, Four Others Injured and One Kidnapped by Israeli Army Near Ramallah
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 12/28/2008
Palestinian sources reported that a Palestinian youth was killed, and at least four others were injured during Israeli Army attacks on Palestinian protests organized in several villages near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, to protest Israel’s continued attacks on Gaza. So far, 286 Palestinians have been killed, and at least 900 others have been injured during the Israel’s continued air raids on Gaza that started on Saturday morning. Arafat Al Khawaja, age 22, was reported dead after an Israeli soldier shot him in the head with a live round. Eyewitnesses told IMEMC that Al Khawaja was taking part in a nonviolent protest in the village of Nil’in near Ramallah, when troops attacked the unarmed civilians that lead to clashes with local youth. Medical sources said that another two young men from Nil’in where critically injured in the clashes.

Free Gaza Movement to Send Emergency Boat to Gaza
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 12/28/2008
The Free Gaza Movement intends to send an emergency boat to the Gaza Strip in an attempt to help in easing the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, living under siege and under ongoing Israeli Military offensives. The movement intends to hold a press conference on Monday at 16:30 at the Larnaca Port in Cyprus. The boats will be filled with three to four tons of urgently needed medical supplies. In a press release, the movement stated that Dr. Elena Theoharous, a surgeon and Member of Parliament in Cyprus, will also be onboard the ship along with three other surgeons. Furthermore, the movement added that the Hon. Cynthia McKinney, former U. S. Congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate, and Sami al-Hajj, an Al Jazeera reporter and former detainee at Guantanamo, will be onboard the ship. Dr.

Free Gaza to send aid vessel on 'emergency mission'
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Free Gaza Movement is sending its Dignity vessel "on an emergency mission of mercy" to Gaza, according to a statement sent to Ma’an on Sunday. The ship will depart Cyprus on Monday with three to four tons of urgently needed medical supplies, the group said. On board will be four physicians, including Dr Elena Theoharous, a surgeon and member of parliament in Cyprus. Also going are the Hon. Cynthia McKinney, former U. S. Congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate, and Sami al-Hajj, an Al-Jazeera reporter and former detainee at Guantanamo Bay. Dr Khaled from the Shifa Hospital ICU in Gaza City told the group on Saturday that the majority of cases are critical shrapnel wounds from Israeli gunboats and helicopters, with an estimated 80 percent who will not survive without urgently needed medications.

Egypt bars Libyan plane carrying aid to Gaza from landing in Al Arish Airport
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/28/2008
The Egyptian Authorities officially barred a Libyan plane carrying aid to Gaza from landing in the Al Arish Airport in Egypt, in preparation to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. Hannibal Al Gaddafi, the son of the Libyan President, Moammar Al Gaddafi, said in a phone interview with the Qatar-based AL Jazeera, that Egypt is taking part of the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip by barring humanitarian aid from being transferred to Gaza via its border with the Gaza Strip. He added that Egypt previously took part in barring an aid ship from reaching Gaza which comes, according to Hannibal, in conspiracy with the Israeli occupation. Hannibal added that Libya will send more ships even if his means that the ships "will be on a suicidal mission" as they will be most likely subjected to Israeli shelling. Furthermore, Al Jazeera reporter said on Sunday night after midnight that. . .

Free Gaza Movement: Dignity to sail emergency medical supplies to Gaza
International Solidarity Movement 12/28/2008
(Larnaca, Cyprus) The Free Gaza movement will hold a press conference at 16:30 Monday, December 29 at the port in Larnaca. We are sending in the DIGNITY on an emergency mission of mercy to Gaza loaded with three to four tons of urgently needed medical supplies. On board are four physicians, including Dr. Elena Theoharous, a surgeon and Member of Parliament in Cyprus. Also going are The Hon. Cynthia McKinney, former U. S. Congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate, and Sami al-Hajj, an Al Jazeera reporter and former detainee at Guantanamo. Dr Khaled from Shifa hospital ICU in Gaza City told us on Saturday that the majority of cases are critical shrapnel wounds from Israeli gunboats and helicopters, with an approximate 80% who will not survive. Eliza Ernshire, one of the Free Gaza organizers says, “We have calls for surgeons willing to go into Gaza and work there throughout this crisis.

Israeli Air strikes on Gaza, 26/12/08 - Palestine Monitor Needs you! For solidarity actions with the Gazans
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 12/28/2008
Dear Readers, Friends and Supporters, Only days after Palestine Monitor members spent their Christmas day in Bethlehem, to warn the peaceful visitors and pilgrims of an impending Israel “Christmas” air strike on Gaza, the bloodbath happened. On the eve of Christmas, we believed Israel would take advantage of the holidays, when the attention of the world and the press are elsewhere, to prepare a military assault on the tiny Gaza Strip. Two days later, without much preventive reaction from the International Community however it was predicable, the gruesome event took place. Yesterday, the Israeli army carried out massive air strikes against the most densely populated area on the planet, already suffering from a heavy siege for more than two years. Israeli planes slammed missiles into over thirty targets in the 360 sq km Strip holding over 1.

Thousands of protesters in streets
John Jordan, Associated Press, The Guardian 12/29/2008
Thousands swept into the streets of cities throughout the Middle East yesterday to denounce Israel’s air strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. Several of the protests turned violent. A crowd of anti-Israel protesters in Mosul, Iraq, became the target of a suicide bomber. In Lebanon, police fired tear gas to stop dozens of demonstrators from reaching the Egyptian embassy. Egypt - which has served as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians as well as between Hamas and its rival, Fatah - has been criticised for closing its borders with Gaza. Egypt’s foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, called on Hamas to renew its truce with Israel: "There has been a calm and we should work to restore it. "In Amman, Jordan, about 5,000 lawyers marched toward parliament to demand the Israeli ambassador’s expulsion. Israel was also criticised by its regional allies. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey, one of the few countries in the region to have relations with Israel, called the Gaza bombardment a "crime against

PA representative to Lebanon: Hamas does not bear responsibility for Gaza violence
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Beirut - Ma’an - Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon Abbas Zaki denounced the Israeli attacks on Gaza in a Television interview Sunday. Zaki described the attacks as barbaric war crimes and refused to hold Hamas responsible for what is happening in the area. If the party can respond it must do so now, he said, but if they can’t they must stop now and save lives. He reminded the audience that those being killed by Israeli bombs are not just Hamas members, but are from all parties as well as women and children. Zaki called on all factions to band together and study the best way to respond, and to establish a joint operations room so operations could bear fruit and steer away from random acts.

GCC summit still on, will cover Gaza assault - Oman
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 12/29/2008
MUSCAT: The Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) annual summit in Oman will go ahead and focus on the global economic crisis, though Israel’s attacks on Gaza will also be discussed, the host country said on Sunday. "The most appropriate reply to the events under way in the Palestinian situation would be for the Palestinian brothers to close ranks by reaching understanding and national unity," Omani Information Minister Hamad al-Rashidi said. He added: "It is up to the UN Security Council to apply pressure for Israel to stop the attacks" over the past two days which have left at least 280 Palestinians dead. The GCC summit seemed under threat when Israel launched its air onslaught on Gaza, which has been controlled by Hamas since splitting with the secular Fatah organization of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. However, Omani Foreign Minister Yussef bin Alawi said foreign ministers. . .

Gulf leaders meet to discuss economy
Middle East Online 12/28/2008
Leaders of oil-rich Gulf countries assembling in Muscat on Monday will focus on how to use their wealth to shore up their economies, after a discussion on Sunday on the bloody situation in Gaza. The annual two-day Gulf Cooperation Council summit seemed in doubt after Israel on Saturday launched wave after wave of air attacks on the impoverished Gaza Strip, leaving 280 Palestinians dead at the latest count. However, Omani Foreign Minister Yussef bin Alawi said foreign ministers of the six GCC countries were scheduled to meet on Sunday, to "put finishing touches to the agenda, including economic questions. " The official sessions of the summit are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. "The most appropriate reply to the events under way in the Palestinian situation would be for the Palestinian brothers to close ranks by reaching understanding and national unity," Omani Information Minister Hamad al-Rashidi said.

Hundreds of Thousands Slam Arab Govt Silence
WORLD CAPITALS - From Egypt to Iraq, thousands of demonstrators took, Palestine Chronicle 12/28/2008
Tens of thousands protested in Turkey. (AFP) The protests took place as Israel launched more air strikes on the strip and the death toll reached 300 in the worst attacks in 60 years of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians in Dubai In the United Arab Emirates, where demonstrations are restricted, hundreds of Palestinian residents in Dubai demonstrated inside their consulate. Dubai police banned protesters from demonstrating outside the consulate premises but nevertheless the group called upon Arab countries to help end the Israeli onslaught on Gaza and support its people. " We don’t want slogans or conferences, we want action," protesters shouted, while some carried banners saying: "Save Gaza" and "Stop the killing. " Other demonstrators urged President Hosni Mubarak to open Egypt’s borders with the besieged territory controlled by the Islamist Hamas movement. " Mubarak, open a passage for Hamas," they shouted.

Gaza attacks spark uproar in Arab countries
Paul Lewis, The Guardian 12/28/2008
Thousands of angry protesters across the Arab world railed against Israel’s deadly attacks on Gaza today, as the British foreign secretary, David Miliband, backed the UN security council’s calls for an immediate end to the violence. Demonstrations erupted in countries including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iran, Iraq and Turkey, with many protesters waving banners demanding a stronger response from Arab nations to the air strikes, which have left at least 280 people dead. Stone-throwing protesters in Hebron, Ramallah and other West Bank towns confronted Israeli troops firing rubber bullets and teargas. A Palestinian medic said a Palestinian man was killed by Israeli fire during an angry demonstration in the West Bank village of Naalin. Miliband said the UK supported "an urgent ceasefire and immediate halt to all violence" and that he and the prime minister, Gordon Brown, were following the developments with "grave concern".

Israel mounts PR campaign to blame Hamas for Gaza destruction
Toni O'Loughlin, Jerusalem, The Guardian 12/28/2008
Israel has mounted a public relations campaign to convince international hearts and minds that Hamas is to blame for the death and destruction they are seeing on their television screens. Stung by the wave of international criticism earlier this year when Israel invaded Gaza to stop militants firing rockets, in an operation dwarfed by its current attack, Israel decided to go on the offensive. "In the past our prime minister received phone calls from high-ranking officials and politicians. When he said, ’Surely you understand about the rocket fire’, they said, ’What are you talking about? ’" foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. So, while the military marshalled its forces, the foreign ministry honed its message and amassed its staff, ready for Saturday’s attack. Israeli diplomats were recalled from holidays and ordered back to work and in the rocket-bombarded southern Israeli town of Sderot, on Gaza’s northern perimeter, it opened a multilingual media centre to brief foreign journalists.

VIDEO - Israel intensifies PR campaign to gain int’l sympathy for Gaza operation
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for December 28, 2008. As the Israel Defense Forces pound Gaza, senior officials have launched an aggressive public relations campaign, in an attempt to gain international sympathy for Operation Cast Lead. 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. On Sunday, Livni and other officials gave interviews in English and Arabic to various international news stations. The Foreign Ministry is also looking to recruit speakers of other foreign languages, in particular, Italian, Spanish, and German, in order to expand Israel’s public relations campaign.

ADL slams UN condemnation of Israel Gaza op as ’sheer hypocrisy’
Haaretz Sevice, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
The Anti-Defamation League on Sunday issued a statement protesting the United Nations Security Council’s call earlier in the day for an immediate end to all violence in Gaza, after and Israeli campaign left nearly 300 Palestinians dead in the Strip. "The Security Council statement is ’sheer hypocrisy’ for suggesting an ’equivalency’ between Hamas’ terrorism and Israel’s attempts to eliminate that terrorism. It demonstrates that there is no real understanding of the circumstances that led to the action taken by Israel against Hamas in Gaza," the ADL statement read. "By calling on the parties to immediately stop all military activities, the Security Council disregards the terrorist acts of Hamas against Israel and Hamas’ responsibility for the condition of Palestinians in Gaza. . . "

Anti-Israel protests over Gaza raids draw thousands across Europe
DPA and the Associated Press, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
More than 1,000 people staged protests in Paris on Sunday against one of Israel’s strike on Palestinian militants, police said, as the French government pushed for a halt to fighting. "Some 1,300 people gathered in northern Paris in the Barbes neighborhood, and 150 gathered near the landmark Arc de Triomphe," a police spokeswoman said. The Barbes neighborhood has a large Arab population. "Both protests were peaceful," she added. Near Champs-Elysees, several police vans and officers formed a broad security perimeter around the tightly guarded Israeli Embassy. French President Nicolas Sarkozy held telephone talks Sunday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and condemned what he called "the provocations that led to this situation as well as the disproportionate use of force.

UK boycott supporters reach out to Israeli academics
Jonny Paul, Jpost Correspondent In London, Jerusalem Post 12/29/2008
Two major players in UK efforts to boycott Israeli academia are calling for dialogue with those they propose to shun. Earlier this month, the University and College Union (UCU) dropped a proposed boycott following a threat by members of the academic trade union to take legal action. The two boycott supporters - Israeli Haim Bresheeth, professor of film and media studies at the University of East London, and Jonathan Rosenhead, professor of operational research at the London School of Economics - sent a letter to Israeli academics who had signed a petition in March supporting Palestinians academic freedom. In the letter, they wrote they were "heartened" by the Israeli academics who were "willing to take a stand for their Palestinian colleagues and for their principles," and asked to work with Israeli academics.

The Arab response / Key states hope for weakened Hamas
Zvi Bar'el, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
The war in the Gaza Strip spilled over into Egypt yesterday when dozens of Gaza residents crossed the border only to encounter Egyptian gunfire aimed at driving them back. The ongoing closure of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt has become a symbol of Cairo’s policy, which critics charge is one of collaborating with Israel to impose economic sanctions on the Strip. Judging by Arab leaders’ statements to the media, or the slogans shouted by demonstrators in several Arab capitals, one might have thought that Egypt, not Israel, was the one waging war on Gaza. Hamas’ demand that Egypt open Rafah to all Gazans, and not just to the wounded seeking treatment abroad, has been rejected in part because Egypt remains committed to an Israeli-Palestinian agreement from 2005 that governs the Gaza border crossings, even though it was never a signatory to the pact.

Foreign Ministry readies ’diplomatic exit plan’ from Gaza
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
The Foreign Ministry yesterday released preliminary options for a "diplomatic exit strategy" from the operation in the Gaza Strip. Political sources in Jerusalem say the options are not similar to those available during the Second Lebanon War, which ended with a UN Security Council resolution and the deployment of peacekeepers. On Saturday evening Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered work to begin on a policy for ending the Gaza operation. The foreign ministry’s ideas were discussed at a meeting headed by Olmert political adviser Shalom Turgeman and including representatives of the Foreign Ministry, National Security Council, Defense Ministry, Military Intelligence, Shin Bet security service and Mossad. This team aims to give daily briefings on political-defense issues and make recommendations to the prime minister, foreign minister and defense minister on ending the operation.

UN follows western example, refuses to condemn Israeli violence
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - During an emergency meeting in New York the United Nations Security Council called for an immediate end to all military actions in the Gaza Strip. The meeting began Saturday at Libya’s request, and the 15 member council was convened to address the Israeli violence in Gaza. While the group called for an “end to violence” they did not condemn the Israeli actions. They did, however, insist that the humanitarian situation in Gaza be addressed quickly. In earlier statements US representatives called for Hams to stop launching projectiles at Israeli targets, totally ignoring the incessant Israeli airstrikes on the coastal region that have now killed close to 300 people. These comments were reiterated by US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad on Sunday. In his comments after the meeting Khalilzad noted that rocket attacks from Gaza had “precipitated the current violence.

Israel launches well-coordinated PR blitz to garner support for Gaza action
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
The Foreign Ministry launched a public relations blitz Saturday to counter the pictures coming out of Gaza, stressing that the goal of the operation was to strike a major blow to Hamas"š terror infrastructure and protect Israeli citizens. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and spokespeople from the Foreign Ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office and the IDF Spokesman’s Office took to the airwaves - including the Arab satellite stations - with the message that Israel has been patient up until now, but could not tolerate the unending attacks, and that Hamas was the party responsible for the suffering that would incur. In the afternoon, Livni read a statement to foreign television outlets saying that Israel had been under daily attack from Gaza for years, and that this week, "hundreds of missiles and mortars shells were fired at Israeli civilian communities, including 80 missiles fired on a single day.

India: Israel must stop targetting civilians in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - India accused Israel of targeting Palestinian civilians in its air assault that began on Saturday and has left nearly 300 Palestinians dead, according to a statement. India urged "an immediate end to the use of force against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip," noting that Israel’s policy of targeting non-militants "has resulted in large numbers of casualties. " India’s official spokesperson said that the south-Asian country "has been closely monitoring developments that have been unfolding in the Gaza Strip. " "While India is aware of the immediate cross-border provocations resulting from rocket attacks particularly against targets in southern Israel, it urges an immediate end to the use of force against Palestinian civilians," the statement said. "India hopes that on-going efforts within the region to restore peace [will] be supported," the. . .

Jerusalem: No international pressure to end op
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
Israel is feeling "no real pressure" from the world to end the operation in the Gaza Strip, and the amount of time the international community will sit relatively quietly on the sidelines depends on how things develop, senior diplomatic officials said Sunday. According to the officials, one errant IDF shell could bring to a dramatic end what has been described as "greater understating than you can imagine" for Israel’s actions. The officials’ comments came even as Syria said it was calling off indirect talks with Israel as a result of the operation, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan referred to the operation as "crimes against humanity" and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the UK supported an "urgent cease-fire and immediate halt to all violence. " The seeming contradiction between the officials’ comments about unprecedented international. . .

UNSC urges halt to Gaza violence
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
The UN Security Council early Sunday expressed serious concern at the escalating situation in Gaza and called on Israel and the Palestinians to immediately halt all violence. After more than four hours of emergency consultations that began Saturday night, the UN’s most powerful body issued a statement that also urged the restoration of a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza’s Islamic Hamas rulers. The Security Council also called for the opening of border crossings into Gaza "to address the serious humanitarian and economic needs in Gaza" and ensure a continuous supply of food and fuel as well as medical treatment. Libya, on behalf of the Arab Group of nations at the UN, called the late night council meeting after Israeli warplanes rained more than 100 tons of bombs on security sites in Gaza on Saturday and early Sunday, killing at least 270 people.

Peres: Why did Hamas fire rockets?
Globes' correspondent, Globes Online 12/28/2008
President Shimon Peres: It is the first time in the history of Israel that we, the Israelis, cannot understand the motives or the purposes of the ones who are shooting at us. President Shimon Peres issued a special statement about the Israel Defense Forces strikes against Hamas in Gaza. Peres said, "It is the first time in the history of Israel that we, the Israelis, cannot understand the motives or the purposes of the ones who are shooting at us. It is the most unreasonable war, done by the most unreasonable warriors. " The president explained that Israel voluntarily left Gaza completely, spending $2. 5 billion. Afterwards, he said, Israel suggested aid in many ways economically, medically, and otherwise. Now, he said, "I have not heard until now a single person who could explain to us reasonably: why are they firing rockets against. . .

Iran strongly denounces the Israeli holocaust in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 12/28/2008
TEHRAN, (PIC)-- Dr. Hasan Kashkawi, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, has strongly denounced the "barbaric" Israeli raids on residential quarters in the Gaza Strip that left hundreds of Palestinians citizens either killed or wounded. He said that the "savage" attack is another crime to be added to the Israeli black record and state terrorism. The spokesman said that the crime, which was committed to gain more votes in the imminent Israeli elections, also posed as an "important document" pointing to the ceaseless Israeli aggressive intentions. Kashkawi charged that the crime was the result of the "painful international silence" towards the "oppressive siege" on the women and children in Gaza. He finally called on the world community to adopt urgent and immediate steps to check the "Zionist crimes" and to help the Palestinian people.

Protests Reported in Several Arab States Over the Israeli Attacks on Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 12/28/2008
As Israeli air raids continued to hit the Gaza Strip for the second day on Sunday, thousands of Arabs condemned the attacks in demonstrations in several Arab countries. Protests have been reported in Lebanon, Yemen, Sryia, Jordan, Iraq and Qatar. The largest reached one million people, according to officials in Yemen. In Jordan, at least 30 MPs burned the Israeli flag under the parliament dome while in session on Sunday, while calling on their king to fire the Israeli ambassador from Amman. Meanwhile, in Lebanon, hundreds of Palestinian refugees and Lebanese held a rally at the United Nations office in central Beirut. In Iraq, Palestinian Refugees and Iraqis rallied against the Israeli attacks in several cities. In Mosul, a suicide bomber attacked one of the protests killing four people and injuring 20 others, Iraqi police reported.

Gaza violence pushes Middle East to top of Obama’s agenda
Stephen Foley in New York, The Independent 12/28/2008
The violence in Gaza adds a new foreign policy crisis to the top of the political agenda for Barack Obama and his incoming Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and dashes hopes for easy, early progress in the Middle East peace process. Mr Obama declined to comment on the situation today, sticking to the formula that the "the US has only one president at a time", but he was being briefed on developments. The incoming administration now faces the prospect of having to help shore up a short-term security solution, instead of focusing on the long-term peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians that was promised during the election campaign. The issue will be particularly delicate for Mr Obama, who faced considerable scepticism in the Jewish community in the US ahead of his election about his commitment to Israel.

Rights group condemns 'bloodiest day' in occupation’s history
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Palestinian Committee for Human Rights "condemns in the strongest terms the war waged" by Israeli forces, according to a statement sent to Ma’an on Saturday. The group condemned Israel’s "wide-scale aerial offensive, which has so far targeted dozens of police headquarters and stations, public and governmental buildings and security sites throughout the Gaza Strip. " The group called on the international community and the United Nations, specifically, to "put an end to the current unprecedented deterioration in the human rights situation and humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip. " The air strikes started at 11:25 local time, in unison throughout the Gaza Strip. "This timing indicates that an Israeli decision was taken to cause maximum casualties in the climax of daily activities.

Rallies against Israeli strikes in Paris, Tel Aviv, London, Toronto
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – Rallies calling for an end to the Israeli attacks on Gaza began around the world Saturday as citizens took to the streets in Tel Aviv, London, Paris and Toronto. French citizens called for a rally as the first Israeli bombs hit Gaza buildings Saturday. Organizers called the Israeli decision to bombard Gaza one parallel to the American decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The Israeli government is reversing the roles, said the call to action, they are calling the invasion a legitimate defense, they are “perverting reality and passing the aggressor for the victim. ”“Ca SUFFIT!!” was the call that brought 5,000 protesters to Paris streets demanding a halt to Israeli violence. In Tel Aviv a “near spontaneous protest against the bloodbath on Gaza” saw more than 1,000 march through the streets.

Arab street angry over Gaza attacks
Al Jazeera 12/28/2008
Protesters across the Middle East have held a second day of demonstrations against Israel’s military assault on the Gaza Strip. In the occupied West Bank, one protester was killed and at least two others critically injured by Israeli fire at a protest near Ramallah on Sunday. In Yemen, tens of thousands of people gathered in and around a stadium in the capital, Sanaa, chanting anti-Israeli slogans and criticising Arab leaders for failing to act. "How long will the silence last? Arabs wake up!" read one banner. The demonstration was backed by the ruling party, opposition groups and other organisations. A few members of Jordan’s parliament burned the Israeli flag under the parliament dome while in session on Sunday, after calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Amman.

Turkey condemns Israeli airstrikes in Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - Turkish leaders strongly condemned Israeli missile attacks on the Gaza Strip on Saturday, saying that the "irresponsible move" could cause instability throughout the entire region. According to Turkey’s semi-official Anatolia news agency, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said he is “deeply saddened by Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip. ”“I condemn the attack,” he added. "It is not only between Israel and Palestine. The incident can cause instability in the region. ”On Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon over Israel’s attacks on Gaza, urging the world leader to step up humanitarian aid and immediately halt “Israeli aggression. ”

Arab League: UN Security Council resolution 'insufficient'
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Arab League Secretary General Amr Mousa affirmed that the UN Security Council Resolution on Gaza is insufficient, according to a statement. He said in statements to reporters that after holding a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the two discussed “working on the Arab and international level. ”Later, a meeting is planned for the Arab Ministers of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Jordanian parliamentarians burned an Israeli flag inside the kingdom’s parliament building in response to the Gaza attacks. One of the politicians held a banner reading “dismiss the Israeli ambassador to Jordan. ”[end]

Hundreds protest Gaza strikes at Israel’s London embassy
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - More than 1,500 people protested outside Israel’s London embassy on Sunday in response to Israeli airstrikes that left nearly 300 dead in the Gaza Strip on Saturday. London police called reinforcements after protesters tore down barriers and hurled objects toward the embassy. At least three people were arrested during the demonstration, while many others were forcibly removed. The demonstration reportedly stopped traffic in the British capital city. "Israel is a terrorist state," some demonstrators changed while others waved Palestinian flags. Others held up posters reading "Holocaust in Gaza. " [end]

Jordanian politicians burn Israeli flag inside parliament building
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Jordanian politicians burned an Israeli flag inside the kingdom’s parliament building on Sunday, according to news accounts. The action was apparently in response to Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip, which has left nearly 300 dead and almost 1,000 injured. [end]

Fayyad criticizes 'incitement' against Arab countries
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Sunday described Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip as “a disaster to all Palestinians and Arabs,” asserting that such behavior cannot be explained any other way. But he also slammed criticism against Arab countries through media outlets: “The Arab dimension of the Palestinian question is the most important dimension, and thus it must be preserved and never be undermined,” Fayyad insisted. He added, “I am quite sure the question of Palestine will remain a top priority for Arab countries, however, I feel the Palestinians must exert every possible effort to preserve and develop that. We have to discriminate between condemnation of Israeli aggression and recruitment of international solidarity and between irresponsible calls which harm our cause. ”“Thus, I call on all Palestinian political leaders to behave more responsibly and more wisely,” he said.

Hamas urges Arab peoples to exert pressure on their governments; nations to sever ties with Israel
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The most effective response to the current Israeli violence in Gaza is for Arab countries with diplomatic relations with Israel to sever ties and insist Rafah be opened, announced a Sunday statement from Hamas. The statement also called on all Arab and Islamic peoples to exert pressure on their governments to support the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and stop Israeli aggression. [end]

Hizbullah-type rockets fired
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
Two Katyusha rockets that Hamas fired deep into Israel on Sunday are the same type launched by Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War, an Israel Police source told The Jerusalem Post. The two rockets were Hamas’s deepest attacks into Israeli territory to date. The first Katyusha hit in Gan Yavne, 35 km. north of the Strip, and the second struck 20 minutes later in an undisclosed location near Ashdod, 40 km. from Gaza. Police sappers who analyzed the projectiles said they carried six to seven kilograms of explosives each, and identified them as 122-millimeter PIPE type-81 Katyusha rockets, which have a range of 40 km. The rockets contained metal balls designed to act as shrapnel, and the intended effects were visible at a home situated just a few meters from where one of the rockets hit, which looked as if it had been sprayed with a machine gun.

Report: Amid Gaza op, IAF sets off sonic booms over Lebanon
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
The official Lebanese news agency said Sunday that Israel Air Force warplanes flew over south Lebanon and set off somic booms. It said that there had also been intensive activity by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles flying at intermediate altitudes over the south. The overflight came into the second day of an expansive Israel Air Force operation on the Gaza Strip, which thus far has left 280 Palestinians killed. Earlier Sunday, senior Lebanese security sources were quoted as saying that Hezbollah was unlikely to respond militarily to the IDF operation in Gaza. Lebanese officials told the London-based Al-Hayyat newspaper that "It is not in Hezbollah’s interest to do so. "The officials added that protests in Lebanon against the operation were "restrained" and under control.

Hezbollah: Israel may take this opportunity to attack Lebanon
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
The head of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said Sunday that he had asked his fighters to be on alert for any possible Israeli attack on Lebanon following raids on Gaza that killed nearly 300 Palestinians. In a televised address at a religious gathering marking the Shiite Day of Ashura south of Beirut, Nasrallah said "I have asked the brothers in the resistance in the south specifically to be present, on alert and cautious because we are facing a criminal enemy and we don’t know the magnitude of the conspiracies. ""What is happening today is a Palestinian copy of the July war," Nasrallah said, drawing a comparison between the Israel Defense Forces offensive in the Gaza Strip and the 2006 Second Lebanon War, which Hezbollah waged against Israel in southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah fighters placed on alert
Al Jazeera 12/29/2008
Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, has told his fighters to be on alert for any possible Israeli attack on Lebanon following raids on Gaza that have killed nearly 300 Palestinians. Nasrallah told a gathering in Beirut’s southern suburbs that the Israeli assault on Gaza was a carbon copy of its attacks on Lebanon during a 34-day war with Hezbollah in 2006. About 1,200 people died in Lebanon and 158 in Israel in that conflict. "I have asked the brothers in the resistance in the south specifically to be present, on alert and cautious because we are facing a criminal enemy and we don’t know the magnitude of the conspiracies," Nasrallah said. Speaking via video link for security reasons, Nasrallah said Israeli forces had gone on alert along the border with Lebanon since Saturday when the attack on Gaza began.

Israelis step up airspace violations over South
Daily Star 12/29/2008
BEIRUT: Israeli warplanes conducted mock air raids over South Lebanon on Sunday as analysts warned that Palestinian groups based there might launch an attack across the border in protest at the intensifying assault on the Gaza Strip. At least five fighter-bombers flew low over the regions of Nabatiyeh, Marjayoun, Khiam, Iqlim al-Tuffah, and Arqoub on Sunday morning after a night of intensive unmanned drone activity over the South, the National News Agency said. The overflights represent a violation of Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the devastating Israeli military assault on Lebanon in the summer of 2006. They also come as Israel’s air force continues to bombard the densely populated Gaza Strip in what the Jewish state has advertised as an effort to end Palestinian rocket attacks. Analysts say that given the ongoing attack on Gaza, it is no surprise that Israel has. . .

Nasrallah condemns Israeli assault, ’Arab collaboration’
Daily Star 12/29/2008
BEIRUT: Hizbullah secretary general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah led a chorus of Lebanese condemnations of a massive Israeli air campaign on the blockaded Gaza Strip over the weekend that killed at least 296 Palestinians and wounded hundreds more. In a televised address Sunday evening, Nasrallah pointed the finger at "certain" Arab regimes for conspiring with Israel against residents of Gaza. "There is true and full collaboration between certain Arab regimes, especially those who have already signed peace deals with Israel, to crush any form of resistance," he told thousands of Hizbullah supporters in Beirut’s southern suburbs. The Israel-US alliance was trying to impose a "humiliating" settlement on Lebanon, Syria and Palestine, Nasrallah said. "Those Arab regimes are helping the Israelis," he said. Nasrallah urged "the Egyptian regime specifically to open the Rafah crossing so that. . .

Nasrallah: Egypt wrong in blaming Hamas
Brenda Gazzar And Ap, Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah reprimanded Egypt in a televised speech Sunday for casting the responsibility of the condition in Gaza on Hamas. Nasrallah attacked Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who in a Saturday press conference said that Hamas, which had been repeatedly warned by Egypt, must bear responsibility for the current situation in Gaza. "Yesterday, we heard a high-ranking Egyptian leader cast the responsibility on the victim. Can we accept such things from Arabs? Casting the responsibility for this war on the Gaza resistance is embarrassing and saddening," Nasrallah added. "Our nations call on Egypt to help. "Nasrallah also warned the Lebanese government and army to be on alert in southern Lebanon in case Israel attacked.

Podcasting from the Gaza Strip
The Guardian 12/28/2008
Few bloggers are reporting from Gaza itself because of the lack of electricity, but Ramzy, a young teacher in Gaza, has made a podcast on an independent student website, MideastYouth. com. In the podcast, he pleads with Hamas to stop its rocket attacks on Israel to prevent further loss of life. " I’m not Hamas, I’m not Fatah, I just care about my people. Today I am safe but tomorrow I don’t know if I will be safe or not, or maybe it will be someone in my relatives or fellow Palestinian citizens [who are hurt]. I don’t want any of them to be hurt. " He accuses both Hamas and Israel of refusing to surrender through sheer stubbornness. "This stubbornness will lead to more Palestinian casualties and deaths in Gaza. We are the big losers here, the Palestinian people, not Hamas or Israel. If the attacks continue, more civilians will lose their lives and these civilians are dying for nothing," Ramzy says. -- See also: Podcast and

French city grants honorary citizenship to PLC member
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The French city of Satan granted honorary citizenship to senior Fatah leader and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Marwan Al-Barghuthi during a meeting at the city’s municipal council. The city council voted unanimously before its decision. The meeting was attended by Jihad Tmeilah, a Fatah member of the PLC, who attended meetings held for the Week of Cooperation between French and Palestinian cities. A special lawyer for the French city will visit Marawan Al-Barghuthi, who is imprisoned in an Israeli jail, to inform him of the municipality’s decision. Tmeilah expressed gratitude to the mayor of the city, Micheal Pomel, and other city council members for their "courageous decision. "

Gaza Palestinians cross Egyptian border
Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
Hundreds of Gazans flocked into Sinai after breaching the border on Sunday, prompting Egyptian policemen to shoot into the air in a desperate attempt to stop them. An Egyptian border guard was killed as security forces and Palestinian gunmen exchanged fire. The Egyptians, meanwhile, accused Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood of inciting against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. Hussam Zaki, spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, said the anti-Egyptian demonstrations in some Arab capitals were directed against the "wrong address. " Under pressure from the Arab street, Mubarak on Sunday decided to reopen the Rafah border crossing to allow the delivery of food and medicine to the Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses said that many of the fleeing Palestinians hurled abuse at the Egyptian border policemen and accused them of collaboration with Israel.

Egyptian demonstrators call for expulsion of Israeli ambassador
Palestinian Information Center 12/28/2008
CAIRO, (PIC)-- Hundreds of Egyptian protestors demonstrated in Cairo on Sunday to condemn the latest Israeli occupation massacres in the Gaza Strip. The demonstrators strongly protested the Egyptian collusion and the Arab silence towards the latest Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian security forces placed a security cordon around the demonstrators closing the road of Qasr al-Aini. Participants in the demonstration, who came from across the political and social spectrum, presented the Egyptian government with three demands; the opening of the Rafah crossing, the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and to stop exporting Egyptian gas to Israel. They also accused the Egyptian government of collusion and called for the resignation of the Egyptian foreign minister and the chief editor of the Aram newspaper for their anti-resistance stands.

VIDEO - Palestinians destroy sections of the wall separating Gaza and Egypt following intense Israeli attacks in Rafah
International Solidarity Movement 12/28/2008
28th December 2008 - Parts of the wall between Gaza and Egypt were torn down according to International Human Rights Observers witnessing and documenting the Israeli attacks on Gaza. Video by ISM Gaza Strip - rBritish Human Rights Observer, Jenny Linnel, who is working with the International Solidarity Movement, was in Yibnah Camp in Rafah and confirmed that the Palestinian resistance has destroyed sections of the wall that separates Gazan Rafah from Egyptian Rafah. "They have blown up part of the wall. The Israeli’s bombed the border half an hour ago. Soon after there was a loud explosion and parts of the wall came down. Many have passed through the border," said Linnel. "We heard shooting and we have seen an ambulance. We have heard that someone is hurt. People are saying that the Egyptians have been shooting at people crossing the border. . . "

PA health minister urges Hamas to allow wounded into Egypt; flies to Cairo to speak with counterpart
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Bethlehem – Palestinian Minister of Health for the caretaker government Fathi Abu Moghli left for Cairo Sunday where he will meet with his Egyptian counterpart Hatem Al-Jabali to coordinate the transfer of hundreds of injured Gazans into Egypt for treatment. Egypt offered to accept Gaza wounded Saturday but medical sources said patients were not stable enough to make the trip and encouraged Egypt to send medical supplies. On Sunday Hamas officials announced that the de facto government would not open the Rafah crossing for wounded Gazans unless the crossing was completely opened. Abu Moghli is making efforts to ensure that the crossing is opened, though there seems to be little he can do. He condemned reports of Hamas fighters firing on vehicles carrying wounded Gazans to the Rafah crossing, in an attempt to bar their passage.

Tunnel airstrike kills two as hundreds race for Egypt’s border
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Shells hit Gaza tunnels Sunday evening, killing two and injuring 22. The blasts also prompted hundreds to race for new gaps in Egypt’s border wall. Refugees were met with Egyptian security forces, who used force to repel the crowds. Airstrikes damaged the border wall between Egypt and Gaza and at least 40 smuggling tunnels, which bring food and fuel into the coastal area. Much of the fuel caught fire during the attacks and large fires broke out along the border. The chaos provided cover for hundreds of tunnel workers and Rafah residents to attempt an escape from the bombarded strip. But early reports indicated that no Palestinians actually made it over the border wall. The strikes marked the 36-hour point in Israel’s "Operation Cast Lead," which has seen nearly 300 killed and over 1,000 injured.

Hundreds of Gaza residents climb border walls toward Egypt
Ma’an News Agency 12/28/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Hundreds of Palestinians attempted to scale walls marking the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip on Sunday as Egyptian police used force to prevent the departure from the war-torn coastal strip. Shortly beforehand, Israel’s air force shelled a tunnel area in Rafah, killing two Palestinians and injuring 22, leading to a massive attempted exodus from the area. During the original strike, Israel’s air force destroyed 40 tunnels after airstrikes targeted Palestinian security buildings and tunnels that provided Gaza with fuel, which led to fires along the border. Hundreds of residents and those working in the tunnel industry poured to the border with Egypt, where Egyptian border police attempted to stop them.

Syria halts indirect talks with Israel
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
A Syrian official said yesterday that Damascus has decided to suspend its indirect peace talks with Israel. The government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, "Israel’s aggression closes all the doors to any move toward a settlement in the region. " Since May, Israel and Syria held four rounds of indirect negotiations, mediated by Turkey. The talks were suspended when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced he would step down. Last Monday, Syria’s President Bashar Assad said he believes direct peace talks with Israel are possible and will eventually take place. Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he, too, had frozen his contacts with Olmert. "To go and bomb these defenseless people, and to openly say that this operation will be a long-lasting one, that it will be this or that, to me, is a serious crime against humanity,". . .

In protest of Gaza attacks, Syria halts indirect talks with Israel
Yoav Stern and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
A Syrian government official said Sunday that Damascus has decided to suspend its indirect peace talks with Israel, in the wake of the mass offensive Israel launched in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, which left more than 280 Palestinians dead and scores more wounded. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said "Israel’s aggression closes all the doors to any move toward a settlement in the region. " Israel and Syria held four rounds of indirect negotiations, mediated by Turkey, after the peace talks were launched in May. The talks were suspended when Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced he would step down earlier this year. Last Monday, Syria’s President Bashar Assad said he believes direct peace talks with Israel are possible and that they will eventually take place.

The First Gaza War / Olmert and Barak go head to head
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
The current "Gaza War" is being waged in the shadow of the tense relations between Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Their shared responsibility for the current military operation has hardly softened the personal dispute between them. On the first day of the operation, Olmert took issue with Barak’s remarks to the media, and the Labor leader did not enjoy playing the role of Olmert’s lackey, along with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, at that afternoon’s press conference. Aside from the interpersonal tension, the two leaders remain divided about how to carry out the operation. Olmert has been portrayed as more aggressive and trigger-happy, Barak as more willing to wait until conditions ripen in Israel’s favor. Such was the dynamic during deliberations over striking the Syrian nuclear reactor at the end of last summer as well as over the current operation against Hamas.

Israeli factories around Gaza ordered closed
Shay Niv, Globes Online 12/28/2008
Manufacturers estimate that industry in the southern region of Israel has lost NIS 100 million. With the beginning of the Israeli Defense Force operations against Hamas in Gaza, the IDF Home Front Command has ordered businesses in communities surrounding Gaza to remain closed. This is the first time this step has been taken in eight years of Kassam rocket attacks from Gaza. The order applies to communities within a 4. 5 kilometer range of Gaza. As a result, nearly all factories and workplaces in the hard-hit southern city of Sderot and towns surrounding Gaza will not open, except for vital sites such as food stores. Within the 4. 5 kilometer radius, which includes the industrial zones of Ashkelon and Netivot, plants can operate as usual if there is a protected location on site.

Experts see small economic impact from Gaza action
Globes' correspondent, Globes Online 12/28/2008
Shlomo Maoz: The Gaza operation will not substantially influence the markets. Leading Israeli economists feel that the impact of the IDF operation against Hamas in Gaza on the country’s economy will not be significant. Excellence InvestmentsChief Economist Shlomo Maoz said, "The world is in recession and Israel is in a slowdown. Global markets are already volatile so this operation will not have a substantial influence. There is not necessarily any connection between today’s falls and the operation in Gaza. We are anyway seeing the highest volatility in the exchange rate and bond market, and therefore in my opinion the Bank of Israel will lower interest rates by only 0. 5%. I also do not see a substantial influence on the budget because the cost of the operation is not high and within the daily agenda, unless we get dragged into a regional conflict.

Bottom Shekel / When missiles fly, don’t forget the economy
Hagai Amit, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip - Operation Cast Lead - is not expected to have much of an effect on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange this week. History has proven that even when Israel’s capital market is stung by military events, the effects are short-lived. During economic prosperity, an escalation can divert investments from Israel, but in the medium and long term, even an event such as the Second Lebanon War did not derail the economy. Now, however, the financial crisis is global and will be here next week and the week after, even if there is total calm in the Gaza Strip. Regardless of the security situation, there will be no massive influxes of capital into the Israeli economy in the near future. Even the shekel/dollar exchange rate will respond more to interest-rate decisions by Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer than to military events.

Fischer likely to cut interest rate to new historic low
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 12/28/2008
Market sources predict that the Bank of Israel Governor will cut the interest rate to 1. 5-1. 75%. Governors of the Bank of Israel often get a chance to make a "historic interest rate cut", since their terms of office are long and they do not have to stand for reelection. As a result, circumstances always arise that require an expansive monetary policy, in which the interest rate becomes the weapon of Armageddon to save the economy and put back on the path of growth. Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer’s two predecessors both had their chance to make this history. David Klein’s came in December 2001, when he slashed the interest rate by 200 basis points, and Jacob Frenkel’s opportunity came in July 2001. Most capital market sources predict that Fischer will cut the interest rate by 75-100 basis points tomorrow evening from the current 2.

Pace of fall in high tech salaries quickens
Tzahi Hoffman, Globes Online 12/28/2008
Manufacturers Economic Research director Daphna Aviram-Nitzan said that the drops in salaries are expected to continue in 2009 as well. The Manufacturers Association of Israelreported a third quarter drop of 5. 6%, on an annualized real term rate, in salaries in the high-tech sector. It was the steepest drop in five years. In the third quarter of 2008, the average monthly salary in the high tech sector was NIS 16,527. Overall, in industry in general, the average salary in the third dropped 2. 8% in real terms, reaching NIS 11,035 per month, which is still nearly three times the minimum wage. Manufacturers Association Economic Research Department director Daphna Aviram-Nitzan said that the drops in salaries are expected to continue in 2009 as well. According to Aviram-Nitzan, "2008 as a whole will show a drop of 1.

Clal Finance: Gaza operation could harm credit rating
Yossi Nissan, Globes Online 12/28/2008
Clal Finance stressed that for the moment, economic factors such as growth, inflation and interest rates are a stronger influence on the markets than developments in Gaza. Clal Finance investment house today said that there may be negative economic fallout as a result of a protracted IDF military operation against Hamas in Gaza. Clal Finance macro-economist Uri Greenfeld estimates that "the influence of the military operation in Gaza depends on the length of time that the operation continues and developments in the Israeli region vulnerable to attack. " The main fear from this operation, according to Greenfeld, is that it will continue for a protracted period of time, and that the government’s defense expenditure in 2009 will increase, thus enlarging the budget deficit, which is already higher than its target.

Suicide bomber kills 1, wounds 16 at protest against Gaza raids in Iraq
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
A suicide bomber on a bicycle blew himself up Sunday amid a crowd of demonstrators in northern Iraq who were protesting Israel’s air strikes on Gaza, killing one demonstrator and wounding 16 others, Iraqi police said. The bomber rode his bicycle into the demonstration of about 1,300 people in the center of the northern city of Mosul, said a police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with news media. The demonstration was organized by the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party. The party’s Mosul spokesman, Yahiya Abid Mahjoub, complained that police and the Iraqi army had not taken security precautions for the demonstration. There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, the officer said. "The ones who targeted our brothers in Gaza are the same who targeted us in Mosul today.

Police and residents in Iraqi city celebrate capture of escaped Al-Qaeda militants
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 12/29/2008
RAMADI, Iraq: Hundreds of Iraqi policemen and residents took to the streets of the western city of Ramadi on Sunday to celebrate the end of a deadly jailbreak drama after police recaptured two Al-Qaeda men and killed another. About 300 people gathered in the Andaluz neighborhood of the capital of Anbar Province, where police arrested two men in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, an AFP reporter said. "The wanted cannot escape from us!" protesters shouted. The arrest of the two came after a sensational series of events that began early Friday when Al-Qaeda in Iraq members broke out of cells in Forsan police station in a deadly firefight that killed 13 militants and policemen. The man shot dead on midday Saturday by Iraqi snipers was Imad Ahmad Farhan, nicknamed "Imad the Killer" because police say he had confessed to murdering at least 100 people and setting more than 100 roadside bombs.

Beirut seems to have upper hand against extremists
Daily Star 12/29/2008
Year Review BEIRUT: 2008 was a year of mixed success for security services tasked with tackling Al-Qaeda inspired militant groups in Lebanon. At times it seemed such groups were able to operate with impunity, particularly in the North, where two deadly blasts targeting Lebanese troops in Tripoli over the summer sparked fears a concerted campaign against state security forces was under way. But further attacks did not materialize. After the second Tripoli bombing, on September 29, security services were able to act quickly and decisively, working their way backward from CCTV pictures of the foot-soldiers who planted the bombs to the planners and financiers behind the attack. A month after the explosion, dozens of arrest warrants had been issued and many of the wanted men, with a few high-profile exceptions, including the cell’s leader Abdel-Ali Jawhar, had been picked up.

Habayit Hayehudi official steps down, citing political turmoil
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
Yaakov Amidror stepped down yesterday from his position as head of the public council that selects Habayit Hayehudi ("the Jewish Home") candidates for the Knesset. He cited the council’s failure to unite the religious Zionist camp as his reason for leaving the post. "A war is going on on the Gaza front, while we are mired in schisms verging on pathological," the former head of the Military Intelligence research department told council members. "Unfortunately, the attempt to unite the forces of religious Zionism has failed. ""The perverse phenomenon of one’s word not being one’s word is unfortunately also found among those wearing knitted skullcaps," he said. Party sources believe Amidror was referring to the departure of MK Uri Ariel from Habayit Hayehudi, as well as the Moledet party’s decision not to join forces with it, due to disputes over territorial concessions to the Palestinians.

Precious Russian vote keeps Lieberman safe, for now
Lily Galili, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
At the height of an election campaign where everything is personal, it’s good to be Avigdor Lieberman. The chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu enjoys double protection, with both Likud and Kadima making sure not to attack his party in their campaigns among Russian-speaking voters. So far, only Ariel Sharon, of whom Russian-speaking voters thought particularly highly, was more protected. Among other reasons, both parties’ campaigns assume that a personal attack on the most popular politician among the Russian-speakers can turn into an electoral boomerang. However, pundits in this community contend that this policy helps give Lieberman a monopoly over its votes. The non-belligerence agreement with Likud chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu is based on the long-time relationship between the two men, and is supposed to be mutual. It is also based on preserving the option of a merger between the two parties.

Court ruling means Likud can bump Feiglin down roster
Mazal Mualem and Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu breathed a sigh of relief yesterday after the Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that would have restored former MK Michael Ratzon to the 24th slot on Likud’s Knesset slate. The ruling would have paved the way for Netanyahu’s nemesis, chairman of the far-right Jewish Leadership faction Moshe Feiglin, to be restored to the list’s 20th slot. Ratzon had petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court after the Likud party tribunal decided, three days after the party’s primary, to move the slots reserved for district representatives higher on the list. As a result, Ratzon was pushed down from 24th place to 37th, former MK Ehud Yatom fell from 29th to 38th, and Feiglin fell from 20th to 36th. That decision, made in response to a petition by a close associate of Netanyahu’s, pleased the party chairman, who feared that the list’s rightward tilt - and. . .

Majadle slammed after he ’identifies with enemy’
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 12/29/2008
Israel’s first Arab minister angered his colleagues in the cabinet on Sunday when he decided to boycott the weekly cabinet meeting to protest the IDF operations in Gaza. Ghaleb Majadle, who was not part of the cabinet at the time of the Second Lebanon War, called upon the government that he is a part of to end the escalation in the South. He also urged Hamas to end the rocket fire on Israel. According to Majadle, "extending the operation might bring about a collapse of the diplomatic process with the Palestinians and the Arab world. " Sources close to the science, culture and sport minister explained that he considered himself a representative of the Arabs in Israel and that he could not take part in a meeting that would authorize attacks on his brethren in the Gaza Strip. Shas chairman Eli Yishai called upon Majadle to quit the government and the Knesset.

Key figures
The Guardian 12/29/2008
Ehud Olmert: Israel’s outgoing prime minister - a general election is due in February - was severely criticised for the war with Lebanon in summer 2006 in a government-sponsored inquiry - Tzipi Livni: Elected leader of Olmert’s Kadima party in the autumn, since when the party has crashed in the polls. Currently foreign minister, she is considered to be less hawkish than many in Israeli politics - Binyamin Netanyahu: The Likud leader and former prime minister is expected to be Israel’s next leader after the election. He has pledged to topple Hamas, expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank and maintain Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights - Mahmoud Abbas: The Palestinian president and leader of Fatah criticised rivals Hamas in the aftermath of the air strikes, reflecting the animosity between the two main Palestinian parties. . .

Likud, Eitam’s party sign agreement to run together
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 12/29/2008
The Likud will run together in February 10’s election with MK Effi Eitam’s Ahi after the two parties signed a merger deal just ahead of the deadline to submit the Likud’s list to the Knesset midnight Sunday night. According to the deal, candidates from Ahi will receive slots 39 and 45 on the Likud list. In return, the Likud will receive Ahi’s NIS 12 million in state funding for the campaign, which will give the party a much-needed boost in its election budget to NIS 40 million. Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu had come close to reaching a deal over the weekend with the Tzomet Party, but his spokesman said that Tzomet’s leaders had taken too much time and that a deal was completed first with Ahi. The Ahi candidates will be former Beit Shemesh mayoral candidate Shalom Lerner, who was raised in New York, at slot. . .

High Court keeps Feiglin at end of Likud list
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 12/28/2008
The Likud will have to win 36 seats on February 10 for party activist Moshe Feiglin to enter the next Knesset after the High Court of Justice overturned a lower court ruling that would have returned him No. 20 on its candidates list. The Tel Aviv District Court accepted an appeal on Saturday night from former MK Michael Ratzon, who had asked to return to the 24th slot that he initially won before the Likud election committee demoted him for technical reasons along with Feiglin and former MK Ehud Yatom. But the High Court ruled that the district court should not have interfered with an internal Likud matter, and therefore, Feiglin, Ratzon and Yatom will remain 36 to 38 on the list. "The interference of the court must be limited to incidents of miscarriages of justice or breach of authority," the justices wrote.


’The injured were lying there asking God to let them die’
Fikr Shaltoot, The Guardian 12/29/2008
  Fikr Shaltoot is a programme coordinator for Medical Aid for Palestinians, a British non-governmental organisation that provides medical supplies in Gaza.
  Being a health worker, I had to check the needs of Shifa hospital and the other hospitals in Gaza. The situation in Shifa is really bad. There were corpses in corridors covered with blankets. The mortuary couldn’t cope with the number of bodies. Two bodies were left on stretchers, one wrapped in a blanket.They leave them until families can recognise them.
  There were mothers, fathers looking for children, looking for relatives. Everyone was confused and seeking support. Mothers were crying, people were asking about relatives, the medical team was confused.
  Some people were just lying there, some were screaming, some were very, very angry. There were a lot of injured arriving, ambulances coming in and out. The injured were coming by private cars and they were being left wherever. You could see blood here and there.
  There is talk [the Israeli air strikes] were targeting the police and security forces but in Shifa hospital, I saw many, many civilians, some dead, some injured, some were children, some were women, some were elderly people.

’For the children, it is like living in hell’

Jerome Tyler, The Independent 12/29/2008
  As explosions echoed in the distance and Israeli aircraft roared overhead, many residents in Gaza City were hunkered down in their houses yesterday, praying the bombs would spare them and worrying about how to feed their families and keep them warm should they survive.
  "We still don’t dare go outside. Nowhere feels safe," Faysal Shawa, a construction engineer, said by telephone from the house where he lives with his wife and three children. "Gaza is so small that when the Israelis bomb us it feels like they are bombing our own houses. There is a government building about 100 metres from where I live and it has been hit a number of times. My children are completely terrified.
  "People in Gaza are used to dealing with hardship, but this time the bombings are absolutely terrifying, and what makes this attack worse is that for the past 18 months we have been living with little electricity, water and food. For the children it is like living in hell."

Amira Hass / ’Gaza strike is not against Hamas, it’s against all Palestinians’

Amira Hass, Ha’aretz 12/29/2008
  At 3:19 P.M. Sunday, the sound of an incoming missile could be heard over the telephone. And then another, along with the children’s cries of fear. In Gaza City’s Tel al-Hawa neighborhood, high-rise apartment buildings are crowded close together, with dozens of children in every building, hundreds in every block.
  Their father, B., informs me that smoke is rising from his neighbor’s house and ends the call. An hour later, he tells me that two apartments were hit. One was empty; he does not know who lives there. The other, which suffered casualties, belongs to a member of a rocket-launching cell, but no one senior or important.
  At noon Sunday, the Israel Air Force bombed a compound belonging to Gaza’s National Security Service. It houses Gaza City’s main prison. Three prisoners were killed. Two were apparently Fatah members; the third was convicted of collaborating with Israel. Hamas had evacuated most of the Gaza Strip’s other prisons, but thought this jail would be safe.

Gaza Atrocity

Leila Diab, Middle East Online 12/28/2008
  Is this a civilized government - the bombardment of thousands of defenseless Palestinian men, women and children? Can these (Israeli) crimes against humanity (in Gaza) usher in a new year of a peaceful hope in 2009?
  As I awoke this morning and opened up my email to check my mail, I found several very disturbing and disheartening news of yet another atrocity in the Gaza Strip. As the sun rose over the Gaza Strip, on the 28th of December, 2008, the Israeli military government launched a massive wave of air attacks on the Gaza Strip people. At least 200 Palestinians have been killed, and more than 200 Palestinians have been wounded. According to an Israeli military spokesman, Avi Benayhu, he reported to the Israeli army radio that the massive bombardment of Gaza was only just beginning.
  Does anyone Care? "Truly don’t we care? And, why don’t we care?" decried my anguished Indian friend, Bindu, upon hearing of the news in Gaza. Is this a civilized government - the bombardment of thousands of defenseless Palestinian men, women and children? They can’t even possibly escape from the prison confines of its army controls and after it has starved the population for months and reduced it to absolute penury! Does "collateral dame" of women and children justify the Israeli government’s security manifestations and claims, while being - the world’s fourth largest army against the people of Gaza, a race of people who both physically, psychologically, and deliriously are suffering from hunger, economic deprivation and confinement? Will American politicians, Arab and Muslim leaders and the world community’s leaders condemn the Israeli military government’s attacks on a defenseless Palestinian population?

Most Gaza casualties were non-combatants, civilians

Press release, Al Mezan, Electronic Intifada 12/28/2008
  In one of its bloodiest military operations, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) initiated a wide-scale air strike operation against the Gaza Strip. Dozens of targets were attacked from the air simultaneously using heavy missiles and bombs. Mostly, the strikes targeted police and security installations across the densely populated Gaza Strip, which is indicative of IOF’s disregard for civilian life and well-being. More than 900 people have been killed and injured, most of whom are non-combatants. The number of casualties was because the timing of the strike, which coincided with the change in school shifts when tens of thousands of schoolchildren were on their way to or from school. Seven UNRWA [the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees] Gaza Vocational Training Center students were also killed in one of the air strikes in Gaza City.
  According to Al Mezan’s monitoring, at approximately 11:30am on Saturday 27 December 2008, Israeli military aircraft launched a coordinated series of air strikes targeting dozens of police, security and other premises across the Gaza Strip. The first wave of attacks lasted for less than five minutes, during which more than 100 missiles and bombs were dropped on Gaza. One of the largest strikes targeted the Arafat Police Town, which is located near several UNRWA schools. Dozens of people were killed in this attack, including tens of young men who were undergoing training to join the police. Moreover, Colonel General Tawfik Jabir, who is the Police General Director in the Gaza Strip, and Captain Ahmed al-Jabari, the Director of the Security and Protection Apparatus, were killed in the same attack.

World Leaders Respond Timidly to Gaza Massacre

Dan Lieberman, Palestine Chronicle 12/28/2008
  ’Lebanon’s Prime Minister described the Israeli attacks as a criminal operation.’
  The tepid response of world leaders to Israel’s ferocious attack on a defenseless Gaza conveys a helpless feeling to all world citizens -- brutality rules and we are all vulnerable to attack. EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, commented that "the EU is very concerned by the events in Gaza." French President Nicolas Sarkozy was quoted as saying he "strongly condemns the irresponsible provocations which led to this situation as well as the disproportionate use of force."
  Are world leaders totally ignorant of the events leading to the massive destruction of Palestinian life? Are they unaware of Israel’s provocations and shrewd manipulation of the facts which allowed them to seem innocent and carry out a diabolical plan to destroy the Palestinians?The facts are:
  For two years Israel has illegally blockaded Gaza. The densest area of the world, which contains 1.5 million people, has received less than a quarter of the volume of imported supplies they received in December 2005 and has not been permitted to export many goods. A totally paralyzed economy has tried to exist with reduced fuel supplies, electrical outages and a lack of spare parts, all of which has caused hunger and severe psychological damage. Include impacts on sewage treatment, waste collection, water supplies and medical facilities.

Journal: One family’s fear and heartbreak in Gaza

Journal by Sharon Lock, International Solidarity Movement 12/28/2008
  Photos - Sunday December 28, 5.30am, Jabaliya - In the basement, the family begins the night at their allotted sleeping spaces, but as the hours pass, draw closer together until women and children are huddled together in a pile of blankets. The women have slept little, and look exhausted. There are 5 or 6 children under the age of 5, tousled hair and solemn faces. The oldest boy’s face is pinched and distorted with anxiety.
  Explosions are sporadic; sometimes far off, sometimes close. The drone of Israeli aircraft is constant. Fragments of news come by the phone. Attack beside Al Shifa hospital; windows break onto patients. Security and Protection Forces attacked. Al Aqsa TV channel attacked. Plastic factory attacked. Al Asaraya building. The number of dead increases in small leaps.
  Multiple reports that Israel is phoning people at home, telling them “any house with weapons in it is a target and should be evacuated.” And the usual calls about “return Gilad Shalit and everything will be just fine”; as if any of these civilians know the first thing about his detention. If they answer “we don’t have any weapons in our house and we don’t have Gilad Shalit either,” will Israel just bomb the next door neighbours instead.

Gaza: 'This is only the beginning'

Ewa Jasiewicz writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 12/28/2008
  27 December 2008 As I write this, Israeli jets are bombing the areas of Zeitoun and Rimal in central Gaza City. The family I am staying with has moved into the internal corridor of their home to shelter from the bombing. The windows nearly blew out just five minutes ago as a massive explosion rocked the house. Apache helicopters are hovering above us, while F-16s soar overhead.
  United Nations radio reports say one blast was a target close to the main gate of al-Shifa hospital -- the largest medical facility in Gaza. Another was a plastics factory. More bombs continue to pound the Strip.
  Sirens are wailing on the streets outside. Regular power cuts plunge the city into blackness every night and tonight is no exception. Only perhaps tonight it is the darkest night people have seen here in their lifetimes.
  As of this writing, more than 220 people have been killed and at least 400 injured through attacks that shocked the Strip in the space of 15 minutes. Hospitals are overloaded and unable to cope. These attacks come on top of the already existing humanitarian crisis that came about because of the 18-month Israeli siege which has resulted in a lack of medicines, bread, flour, gas, electricity, fuel and freedom of movement.

Hanukkah Games in Gaza

Belén Fernández, Palestine Chronicle 12/28/2008
  I was surprised to learn on Saturday afternoon that Israel’s latest assault on Gaza, though not even half a day old, already boasted a Wikipedia entry. I was even more surprised to learn the origins of the assault’s codename.
  At first glance, Operation Cast Lead appeared to be quite straightforward in its evocation of imagery, at least in comparison to Operation Summer Rains—Israel’s 2006 foray into Gaza, the title of which may have functioned more appropriately on the cover of a romance novel in the checkout lane of a supermarket. According to Wikipedia, however, the significance of Cast Lead was not readily discernible by superficial symbolic analysis; in other words:
  - the term lead did not refer to harmful munitions made of heavy metals.
  - the term cast did not mean "wantonly dispersed in densely populated areas."
  As it turned out, Cast Lead was in fact adapted from a Hanukkah poem by Haim Nachman Bialik, national poet of Israel, who poetically lived and died before the nation of Israel was cast across 78% of Palestine. In one of his works, Bialik speaks of a "dreidel cast from solid lead"—a toy that is now being cast across Hamas-controlled portions of remaining Palestinian percentages.

The world’s message to Gaza: No one cares

Jenka Soderberg Editorial Group, International Middle East Media Center News 12/28/2008
  I sit in front of the computer, editing the article, trying, as always, to maintain objectivity, "Israeli airstrikes kill 205 Palestinians in Gaza" eyes begin to blur .....images of bodies, of wailing mamas screaming for their sons, of children missing limbs, hospital crews running, rushing....bodies everywhere......I can no longer see the computer screen through the tears. I think of our friends in Gaza - "Are they ok?"
  .....I try to think of an appropriate response: a protest at the Israeli consulate? A petition? A boycott campaign? They all seem so trivial, so ineffective. Send ANOTHER letter to my congressman, only to be rebuffed again with a form letter stating that the Congressman is in full support of Israel and their War on Terror?
  I’m thinking about an article I read yesterday, about Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush just last week. The article was by Ramzy Baroud, who said that the reality of the world outside the Green Zone had finally broken into the carefully-scripted press conferences of Bush lies and al-Maliki smiles....

Gaza: Silence is not an option

Eva Bartlett, International Solidarity Movement 12/28/2008
  Dr Khaled from Shifa hospital ICU told me the majority of cases in the intensive car unit are critical.He estimates 80% will not survive.At the time that we spoke the ICU was handling its 4th shift of critically injured.The ICU normally has 12 beds, but the hospital expanded it to 24 using beds and rooms from other departments.
  There is a critical need for more ICU beds, as well as mechanical ventilators.The majority of injuries were "multi-explosive injuries" with a concentration of head injuries ("head trauma") resulting from the explosions and from shrapnel in the brain.Other injuries include abdominal injuries resulting in internal bleeding caused by shrapnel in the abdomen. The majority of head injuries are not expected to survive, and those who do are expected to have brain damage and some with full paralysis (quadriplegia). Because of the shortage of spaces and equipment, the ICU has turned patients away. Others have been waiting in the reception area until a patient dies and the space can be used.

Video: Tunnel Trade

A Film by Laila El-Haddad and Saeed Taji Farouky, Al Jazeera 12/28/2008
  When Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, they built a wall alongside the Gaza border with Egypt, splitting the city of Rafah into two.Families found themselves divided by a high-security international border, though their houses often lay less than 100m apart. Frequent border closures by the Israeli’s further isolated the Gaza Strip and Palestinian trade soon went underground.
  Since then, dozens of secret tunnels burrowed below the Israeli border fence, connecting family houses on both sides of the border.
  Everything moves through Rafah’s tunnels: from cigarettes and medicine to cash and people. But the residents have also suffered enormously. Israeli operations to destroy the tunnels have demolished thousands of homes over the past seven years.

'Shabbat Shalom' in Gaza

Rami Almeghari writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 12/27/2008
  Shabbat Shalom! "Peaceful Saturday." I don’t believe that Israeli leaders appreciate the meaning of this Hebrew greeting given at the start of the weekly Jewish day of rest. No more "Shabbat Shalom," as on Saturday, 27 December 2008, just a few days before the start of a new year, Israeli warplanes dropped bombs on different parts of the Gaza Strip.
  A sunny Saturday in Gaza became very dark as pillars of smoke blacked out the sky of the coastal territory, while the smell of blood was everywhere.
  In Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip, three family members, including a father, a son and a nephew, were all killed as Israeli warplanes dropped bombs on the Rafah police station. The victims were present at the Rafah police station for a routine matter, when the Israeli air strikes occurred. They did not know that their fate awaited them right there on this "Shabbat Shalom."
  That is one example of the killings at what Israel alleges were Hamas "terrorist" outposts. At dozens of locations, entire buildings were torn down, windows of homes were smashed and countless cars damaged. Under the rubble lay dozens of corpses. About 60 Israeli F-16 warplanes attacked up to 100 targets in Gaza today, mainly police stations and charities run by Hamas. One of the Israeli missiles landed in the sports field of the Islamic University of Gaza, home to more than 18,000 students.

Gaza: The Real Terrorists

Stuart Littlewood – London, Palestine Chronicle 12/27/2008
  The patience of all decent men must surely be exhausted.
  Today’s slaughter of innocents in Gaza, with at least 230 reported killed in raids on “Hamas terror operatives” (as the Israeli military put it), amounted to “a mass execution”, said Hamas.
  Can there now be any doubt who the real terrorists are?
  The killing spree couldn’t have happened without the tacit approval of America, Britain and the EU. The political pea-brains that direct the pro-Israel western alliance were partying, gorging themselves on Christmas fare or binge-shopping while this massacre of hungry women and children and their despairing menfolk in Gaza was being planned and executed.
  According to the US’s own definition of terrorism Israel is squarely in the frame. Under Section 3 of Executive Order 13224 "Blocking Property and prohibiting Transactions with Persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support Terrorism", the term “terrorism” means an activity that:
  (i) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and
  (ii) appears to be intended
  • to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
  • to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
  • to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage-taking.

Palestine: Another Massacre

Nizar Sakhnini, Palestine Chronicle 12/27/2008
  Massacres were part and parcel of the Zionist project in Palestine. They aimed at intimidating the Arabs and make them leave the country.
  Dozens of massacres were committed against the Arabs starting with the Massacre at Baldat al-Shaikh in December 1947 and not ending with the massacres in Qana in South Lebanon in 1996 and 2006.
  Another brutal massacre is being committed in Gaza today.Hundreds of Palestinian Arabs have been killed and/or wounded.
  Given below, is a list of some of the massacres committed by the Zionists since 1947:
  Massacre in Baldat al-Shaikh (31 December 1947): Haganah gang members stormed the village of Baldat al-Shaikh in pursuit of unarmed citizens. The death toll was about 600 people, most of whose corpses were found inside the houses of the village.
  Massacre in Deir Yassin (10 April 1948): A brutal massacre was committed in Deir Yassin: over 250 men, women and children were killed.
  Massacre in Lid (11 July 1948): A commando unit led by Moshe Dayan carried out this massacre. The unit stormed the city in the evening and many of the Arab citizens of the city took refuge from the attack in the Dahmash Mosque. The Zionists reached the mosque and killed 176 civilians who took refuge to the mosque raising the victims of the massacre in Lid to 426 Palestinian Arabs.