Here is what we know:
–The United Nations Security Council circulated a draft resolution by Libya on behalf of the 22-member Arab League Wednesday, but the U.S. rejected the plan, saying the U.S. had not seen “any evidence” yet that Hamas was willing to end its rocket attacks on Israel.
–“If we’re going to talk about the truce or a cease-fire, we want to make sure that this is a sustainable,” IDF Brigadier General Mike Herzog, Defense Minister Barak’s chief of staff, told PBS on Wednesday. “We do not want to go back to a situation where our towns, and villages, and our citizens are being fired [at] daily.”
–Saudi Arabia and the Arab League chief on Wednesday blamed the divisions between Fatah and Hamas for Israel’s attacks in Gaza, and urged them to unite to help end the fighting at an urgent Arab League meeting.
–On the ground, Israeli troops and tanks were observed moving closer to Gaza. A ground attack is “imminent” accoding to sources in the IDF. The Israel Defense Forces recommended a major, but relatively short-term, ground offensive in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, as military preparations continued on the border. Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff of the Haaretz Newspaper said the Israeli army was given the green light to forge ahead with Operation Cast Lead, which enters its sixth day Thursday.–Israeli jets bombed the Palestinian parliament building in Gaza early Thursday and navy ships opened fire at Hamas positions along the coastline.
Israeli soldiers prepare their weapons as they deploy on the northern border with the Gaza Strip. Hamas vowed to fight “until the last breath” if Israel makes good on threats to send ground troops into Gaza after rejecting calls for a truce and pressing on with its air assault.(AFP/Jack Guez)
–On Wednesday, some 70 rockets were fired from Gaza at the Negev, among them some 10 Katyushas with a range of about 40 kilometers. These landed in Be’er Sheva and around Ashdod.
—Yuval Diskin, the head of the Shin Bet security service (Israel’s CIA), told the Israeli Cabinet Wednesday that Hamas leaders were taking shelter in the mosques “on the assumption that Israel will not attack.” Mosques in Gaza were being hit by Israeli forces on January 1. Gaza City’s Tel Al-Hawa mosque is now in ruins, with only its minaret remaining upright. According to the Associted Press, A security official said Israeli intelligence — probably surveillance aircraft — saw missiles being fired outside the mosque and the men who launched them running inside the building. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss intelligence operations.
–The Jerusalem Post reported that Pro-US Arab countries – Egypt, in particular – have come under heavy criticism in widespread street protests, as well as from Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah, for allegedly not doing enough to stop Israel or help Gazans.
“We did not enter this operation in order to end it with the firing still continuing,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a meeting of his security Cabinet on Wednesday, according to a senior government official.
“Hamas broke this cease-fire,” Olmert said. “If the conditions ripen” and if there is a solution “that promises a better security … we will consider it, but we are not there yet,” he said, according to the official.
See a CNN Report:
The Hamas leader, Osama Mazini, said in a statement distributed by the Hamas press office that his fighters were eager for a ground assault. “The people of Gaza are waiting to see the Zionist enemy in Gaza to tear them into pieces of flesh,” said Mazini.
Read a complete AP report from early January 1:
From Robert Burns
The Associated Press
By insisting that Hamas go first in any cease-fire with Israel, the Bush administration is sticking to its support for the Jewish state’s right of self-defense while stopping short of encouraging an Israeli ground assault aimed at fully reoccupying the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The Bush administration on Wednesday asserted its desire for a halt to the fighting but also made clear its view that the first step in any cease-fire will require Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rejects Israel’s right to exist, to agree to stop firing rockets from Gaza into Israel now and in the future.
Read the rest:
China Made Gaza Rockets Used By Hamas