Archive for the ‘Barak’ Category

Netanyahu says Iran will not get hands on nukes

February 1, 2009

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s leading candidate for prime minister, said Saturday that Iran “will not be armed with a nuclear weapon.”

Aron Heller
Associated Press

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 TV, Netanyahu said if elected prime minister his first mission will be to thwart the Iranian nuclear threat. Netanyahu, the current opposition leader and head of the hardline Likud party, called Iran the greatest danger to Israel and to all humanity.

When asked if stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions included a military strike, he replied: “It includes everything that is necessary to make this statement come true.”

Iran has denied it is seeking to acquire nuclear weapons and says it is pursuing nuclear power for peaceful uses. It also denies it is engaged in terrorism, instead accusing Israel of terrorist policies against the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, which were occupied by Israel after the 1967 Mideast War.

The Channel 2 TV broadcast interviewed all three candidates for prime minister ahead of the Feb. 10 election. The three did not debate each other and appeared one after the other to answer questions posted by Israelis in YouTube videos.

Tzipi Livni of Kadima and Ehud Barak of Labor were both asked about how they intended to deal with the continuing rocket threat from Hamas militants in Gaza. Both took a hard line.

“Hamas was hit like it was never hit before,” Barak, the defense minister, said. “If they try us again, they will be hit again.”

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Leader of the Likud Party in Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, gestures ... 
Leader of the Likud Party in Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, gestures as he speaks during a session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday Jan. 29, 2009.(AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

As Gaza Cease Fire Nears: Israel “Beheading Hamas Snake”?

January 15, 2009

Israel has confirmed the deaths of additional Hamas leaders in Gaza as the fighting intensified on Thursday.
Palestinian sources said Thursday that an Israel Air Force strike in Gaza City has killed three of Hamas’ most senior officials: the group’s Interior Minister, Said Siam, the head of its security apparatus, Salah Abu Shreh, and the head of its military wing, Mahmoud Watfah.

One of Hamas's senior leaders in Gaza, interior minister ... 
One of Hamas’s senior leaders in Gaza, interior minister Said Siam, pictured in 2008, was killed on Thursday in an Israeli air strike in Gaza, the Islamist television channel said.(AFP/File/Said Khatib)

Siam was the Hamas political echelon’s liaison with the group’s military wing, and was responsible for the various security apparatuses in the Strip, including the police  and the naval force.

This follows the deaths of several other top Hamas members since the start of the fighting, fueling reports that Israel wants to kill off all top Hamas leaders and eviscerate the group.

One Israeli said, “We are beheading the Hamas snake.”

Yesterday representatives of Hamas gave a preliminary agreement to a cease fire plan.  Many who watch Isreal say today’s assault may be a start to the final action to destroy Hamas before a cease fire is agreed.

Yesterday former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the death of Hamas itself.  The current Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has taken a hard line against Hamas but government sources will not say that Israel is on a campaign to destroy Hamas totally.

After Israel was accused of attacking the UN center for relief supplies in Gaza City today, Olmert said the attack was in response to Hamas fire from that location.

“It is absolutely true that we were attacked from that place, but the consequences are very sad and we apologize for it,” he said. “I don’t think it should have happened and I’m very sorry.”

Nizar Rayyan was among the other top Hamas officials killed this year in Gaza.  He was killed in Gaza in an Israeli air attack on January 1.  He was considered to be one of the top five men in Hamas.

Rayyan died suddenly in his home in Gaza on January 1, 2009.  The cause of death was blunt force trauma all over his body plus beheading by weapons from an Israeli F-16.

The top members of Israel’s “War Cabinet” meet Thurday night when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni gather.  They will reportedly discuss the progress of the war effort and the cease fire proposal.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert attends the weekly cabinet ... 
Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem January 11, 2009.(David Silverman/Pool/Reuters)


Associated Press:

Shelling Ignites UN Relief HQ and Controversy in Gaza
 Top Israeli Urges Obama for United Anti-Terror Front
Unable To Stop Hamas Arms, Some Israelis Say “End Hamas”
Israel Kills Third Hamas Leader: Assassination Inc.?

 Killed, Beheaded In Air Attack, Hamas Leader Who Boasted of Victory Over Israel, Family, Killed


Israel Promises “Decisive” Week In Gaza

January 13, 2009

Israel promised “decisive” action on the Gaza issue this week, either militarily or in Egypt when Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad heads to Cairo for additional negotiations.

Egypt, France and Britain have been among the key mediators in attempts to forge a truce during Israel‘s 18-day offensive in Gaza.

Day 19: Israel, Hamas Continue To Battle; Seeming Diplomatic Stalemate

Israel promised that if cease-fire talks fail, the Israeli army will continue to move against Hamas.

Diplomatic pressure is building on Israel to end the fighting.

Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak again reiterated what he has said before: the assault upon Gaza would continue, along side diplomtic efforts to secure a cease-fire.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, urged both Israel and Hamas to “just give up” the fighting.

Barak said, “We heard, and we respect the calls of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and, of course, we are also monitoring developments on the Egyptian initiative, but the fighting goes on and the IDF is continuing to apply force.”

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

 Day 18 in Gaza: “Fighting Along Side Diplomacy”
Israel weighs options in Gaza
Tuesday: Israel Crashes Into Gaza City
UN chief Ban Ki-moon implores Israel and Hamas to stop Gaza violence


Israel At Crossroads: Escalate or Cease  
Day 18 in Gaza: “Fighting Along Side Dip  
Gaza Heads Into Tuesday, “Hamas Disengag  
Day 18: Tuesday, Gaza City Battle Opens,  
Israel To Reoccupy Gaza? Weighing the Op

Day 18 in Gaza: “Fighting Along Side Diplomacy”

January 13, 2009

At 1600 GMT Tuesday, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak again reiterated what he has said before: the assault upon Gaza would continue, along side diplomtic efforts to secure a cease-fire.

Day 19: Israel, Hamas Continue To Battle; Seeming Diplomatic Stalemate

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, urged both Israel and Hamas to “just give up” the fighting.

Barak said, “We heard, and we respect the calls of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and, of course, we are also monitoring developments on the Egyptian initiative, but the fighting goes on and the IDF is continuing to apply force.”

Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak attends the weekly cabinet ... 
Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem January 11, 2009.(David Silverman/Pool/Reuters)

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Tuesday said Israel’s campaign against Hamas in Gaza was serving the interest of the Palestinian people, as well as that of Israel.

Livni said the operation’s success would help all moderate forces in the region, including Palestinians who believe in a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She made the comments at a meeting with a delegation from the American Jewish Committee.


Israeli forces commenced heavy shelling of areas surrounding Gaza City on Tuesday morning, as troops continued to push deeper into the densely populated urban center.
Hamas showed no sign of stopping the fighting.
Israel is now bringing its massive advantage in firepower into play as never before.

Rocket in Ashkelon 
Above: Hamas rocket hit a house in Ashkelon, Israel, about 10 miles north of the Gaza Strip. A woman in the home was taken to the hospital for a panic attack. Photo: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Israel officials are saying that Operation Cast Lead has not ended because Hamas has not agreed to a cease fire and continues to fire rockets into Israel.

The weakening of Hamas and the restoration of Israel’s level of deterrence are needed before the fighting will end, officals say.

For the first time today, Israeli tanks are inside Gaza City in great numbers.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants of an “iron fist” unless they agree to Israel’s terms to end the fighting.

Hamas showed no signs of wavering, however, with its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, saying the militants were “closer to victory.”

Yet special Mideast envoy Tony Blair said elements were in place for a cease-fire.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni  told Mark Philips of CBS news, “We doubt that we will reoccupy” Gaza.  “But in the Middle East, sometimes all options are bad.”

“It is now a matter for the two in combat.  Neither one will leave the other the ‘victor,’” a United Nations humanitarian supply chief in Gaza told us.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Israel to Reoccupy Gaza?
Israel weighs options in Gaza
Tuesday: Israel Crashes Into Gaza City
UN chief Ban Ki-moon implores Israel and Hamas to stop Gaza violence



 Day 18: Tuesday, Gaza City Battle Opens, “Neither one will leave the other the ‘victor’”

Gaza: France’s Sarkozy Not Helping

January 6, 2009

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert told French President Sarkozy to please block the cease fire resolution in the United Nations.

Olmert also relayed that request to the European Union and others.

Sarkozy has been on a Middle East trip to find ways to broker a cease fire.

But Olmert told him until Hamas in Gaza stop sending rockets into Isreal there can be no end to the fighting.  He said Israel has acted in self defense….

Olmert also reminded Sarkozy that “Sometimes the need to find a compromise in the UN comes at Israel’s expense.”

Gaza Day 11: Civilian Losses Mount; Israel Unmoved
Understanding Israel: Necessary Step in Solving Middle East Violence?


From National Public Radio

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is on a ceasefire mission to the Middle East. While his country no longer holds the European Union presidency, Sarkozy says it is France’s duty to look for all paths to peace. Critics say Sarkozy is on a power trip after his six-month stint as diplomatic head of Europe. They accuse him of muddying EU efforts to broker a ceasefire.

Hear the report from NPR:

Gaza Cease Fire? Israel Clarifies Tough Stand

January 5, 2009

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Monday that the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip was intended to “change the equation” in the region, whereby Hamas fires at Israel and Israel responds with restraint.

Speaking to reporters alongside her counterparts from the Czech Republic, France and Sweden, Livni defended Israel’s incursion into the Hamas-ruled coastal territory as a form of “legitimate self-defense.”

From Haaretz Newspaper
The foreign minister, who returned from Paris on Monday following talks with French officials, added that Israel has no choice but to retaliate when attacked.

Meanwhile, Czech FM Karel Schwarzenberg stressed the European Union’s stance that a cease-fire must be reached immediately between Israel and Gaza. Schwarzenberg said the EU rejected Israel’s approach that a truce could not be reached until the Israel Defense Forces had achieved all of its aims in Gaza.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak earlier Monday defended Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip, saying any nation seeking to survive would have taken the same form of action.

Prior to briefing the political-security cabinet on the situation in Gaza, Barak told Israeli radio station that while Hamas has suffered great losses under Israel’s air, sea and ground offensive, many of the military’s goals had yet to be achieved.

“Hamas has so far sustained a very heavy blow from us, but we have yet to achieve our objective and therefore the operation continues,” Barak said.

“The fundamental objective is to change the reality of security for the south,” Barak said, referring to Israeli towns that have come under continuous Palestinian rocket attack from Gaza.

“We are striving for a new reality in which there won’t be activity from Gaza against Israeli civilians or our soldiers, a situation which will dramatically change the state of smuggling and in which quiet will prevail in the south,” Barak added.

The defense minister also said he was certain that Israel would end its operation in Gaza “with an upper hand.” He added that Israel was engaged in diplomatic contacts with international officials regarding the operation.

As part of an eventual halt to the fighting, Israel is seeking help from international and regional partners to increase security along Gaza’s border with Egypt to prevent Hamas from rebuilding tunnels and rearming.

“It is clear Hamas cannot be allowed to rearm and we have to find workable solutions to prevent that rearming. And here our international and regional partners have a role to play,” said Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

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Israel’s Defense Minister: “We Are Aware of Dangers, Difficulties and Victims”

January 3, 2009
The decision to undertake a ground operation was made with the knowledge that soldiers would be at risk, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said several hours after ground troops began an incursion into the Gaza Strip.

From the Jerusalem Post


“We know there will be dangers, difficulties and victims… It must be said that the ground operation entails dangers to the lives of soldiers,” Barak said in a press conference early Saturday night.

Barak opened by explaining to the public the need for Israel to proceed with the second stage of Operation Cast Lead, saying that he had made it clear from the very beginning of the maneuver that he intended to expand operations.

The decision to widen the operation, he said, was made following “intensive consideration” and after “every possible scenario was examined… We must end the hostile actions against Israel,” Barak insisted. “We will not abandon our citizens,” he said.

“I know very well what dangers are involved in every offensive as well as what the potential heavy price we can pay is. I take full responsibility. This will not be easy. This will not be short,” Barak said.

The minister expressed his gratitude to the residents of the south, the cities’ mayors, police forces, firefighters and the Shin Bet. He acknowledged his faith in the senior IDF command, specifically IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, saying that there was indeed “who to trust.”

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Israel infantry soldiers gather on the border just before leaving ... 
Israel infantry soldiers gather on the border just before leaving Israel for the northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Jan. 3, 2009. Israeli tanks and infantry entered Gaza after nightfall Saturday, launching a much anticipated ground offensive in a widening war on Gaza’s Hamas rulers. Israeli security officials said the operation is likely to go on for several days, but that the objective is not to reoccupy Gaza.(AP Photo/Yossi Aloni)

Israeli Ground Forces Push Into Gaza

January 3, 2009

Israel moved its troops into Gaza starting a ground offensive eight days after launching an airstrike campaign in efforts to end rocket attacks from Hamas militants.

The New York Times

A statement from the Israel Defense Forces said that this second stage of the operation was intended to “bring about an improved and more stable security situation for residents of Southern Israel over the long term.”

The statement added that “large numbers of forces are taking part in this stage of the operation including infantry, tanks, engineering forces, artillery and intelligence with the support of the Israel Air Force, Israel navy, Israel Security Agency and other security agencies.”

Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, said in a statement broadcast on television: “This will not be short. This will not be easy. I do not wish to delude anyone,” adding that the coming days will be difficult for the residents of the south of Israel.

“Our aim is to force Hamas to stop its hostile activity and to bring about a significant change,” Mr. Barak said. “We have carefully weighed our options,” he said, adding that “we have restrained ourselves for a long time but now we have to do what must be done” for peace and tranquillity.

A spokeswoman for Israel Defense Forces, Maj. Avital Leibovich, said in an interview broadcast on CNN that troops were targeting areas responsible for the launching of rockets into Israel, as well as tunnels, bunkers, and training facilities — “everything that is affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target,” Major Leibovich said.

“We have many, many targets, and therefore to my estimate it’s going to be a lengthy operation,” she added, with specifying how long the ground war could last.

Ms. Leibovich said the Israel Defense Forces were avoiding targeting civilians and were trying to give people leaflets and messages warning of the strikes. “Hamas is not putting any efforts to avoid targeting civilian deaths,” she said, referring to rockets launched by Hamas into Israel.

“For us, people that don’t recognize the right for Israel to exist, terrorists which train day after day and try to target as many Israeli civilians as possible, are for us a legitimate target for self defense.”

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Israel Proving in Gaza It Can’t Handle Iran

January 3, 2009

Israel can’t handle Iran.  That’s the lesson being learned by Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

“The IDF must move quickly to disengage, in order to free its attention for the paramount task of preparing a military blow to Iran, if diplomacy and deterrence fail. As long as the great threat of Iranian power is hovering, the smaller threats of Hezbollah and Hamas that derive from it will not be dispelled. Cast lead, heavy as it may be, is still easier to digest than enriched uranium. ”

That’s the view from Amir Oren of Haaretz.

The looming question after a week of Israel’s pounding of Hamas in the Gaza is: How is Israel prepared politically, militarily and internationally to deal with a nuclear Iran, or to short circuit Iran’s efforts to become a nuclear power?

Politically, Israel doesn’t seem to have a united enough leadership to carry out a larger military operation than the comparitively basic effort of Gaza.  The Olmert, Barak, Livni team has struggled to stay on the same page this last week and ultimately had to sequester itself from news coverage that exposed the disagreements.

Militarily, the Israel Air Force has shown us what it already proved against Hezbollah in Lebanon.  Air Forces can pound the hell out of buildings and people can be killed but without “boots on the ground,” enemies stay lurking in the ruins.

Yaakov Katz writes in today’s Jerusalem Post, “As early as Monday, senior Military Intelligence officials, tasked with providing targets for the Air Force, were saying behind closed doors that the ‘air operation had exhausted itself,’ and that it was time for the next stage.”

The army of Israel has been held back, for any number of reasons.  But this itself begs countless questions.  Is the fear of Israeli Army casualties too great?  Will the Army lose men to hostage situations and only make the matter worse?  Is the army being saved for another day?

Internationally, it is not at all certain that Israel’s last week has gained it any new strength or friends.  George Bush will be gone in a few weeks and then the entire diplomatic situation can change.  And among regional neighbors, Israel’s move on Hamas has opened wounds in Egypt and elsewhere.

In the media, Israel seems to be losing as the humanitarian situation in Gaza worsens.

If Israel cannot resolve the Gaza situation to achieve its aims soon, confidence that it can ever counter Iran will disappear.

As actor Jack Nicholson played the role of  hot-headed Col. Nathan R. Jessep in the film, “A Few Good Men,” he said the line, “You can’t handle the truth.”

For Israel, the Gaza situation may leave lasting truths that have to be faced. 

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel,Virginia


From Yaakov Katz:
In Gaza, Israel Works To Create Perceptions on the Ground

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

“Making a Lot of Martyrs”: Where’s Israel’s Ground Assault? Are Objectives Clear?

January 2, 2009

Military observers question Israel’s thinking on the Gaza operation.  With hundreds of tanks and thousands of troops poised for a ground assalt, where are we headed?

These Western non-Israelis believe that time is short before the boodletting allows Hamas a victory no matter what Israel says the outcome yields.  This may mirror Israel’s end state in southern Lebanon after the war with Hezbollah: with Lebanon in ruins, and Hezbollah still in existence, it was hard to see Israel a a “winner.”

War Colleges teach senior military officers to “shape the battlefield.”  They preach using the right amount of force and the right mix of assets at the right time to achieve stated and clear results.

It is still not clear to many observers if Isreal merely wants to end the rocket attaks, wants Hamas out of Gaza or wants to take control of Gaza entirely.

Explosions are seen after an Israeli air strike in Beit Hanoun, ... 
Explosions are seen after an Israeli air strike in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, January 1, 2009.(Baz Ratner/Reuters)

This uncertaintainty is fueld by political concerns inside Israel, pending elections and reports of disagreements among senior Israelis. Those reports have been squashed and now no news is available to the media about the cabinet level discussions — but uncertainty persists.

And the clock is ticking.  Every hour that goes past will be seen by Hamas and its allies, inluding Iran, as another hour of victory and resistance over Israel.

“In the public opinion battle, the battle of ‘hearts and minds,’ Israel is now ‘Murder Inc.,'” a senior Pakistani military officer told us. “They are now killing senior Hamas leaders and what, some 500 Hamas or Gazan?  Now who to negotiate with?  They are making a lot of martyrs.”

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Gaza, Day 7, January 2, “Brutal Even By Middle East Standards”



From the Los Angeles Times:

An Islamic scholar and university instructor, Rayan was a force in both the political and military wings of Hamas. The hulking, bearded imam was a hard-line theologian and military commander.

“This is a difficult hit for Hamas. Even they admit it,” said Maj. Avital Leibovich, an army spokeswoman. Leibovich declined to comment on whether the strike on Rayan represented a formal return of the assassination policy.

The battle-hardened militant group has proved adept at replacing leaders, calling into question the effectiveness of the tactic. After the killings of Yassin and Rantisi, Hamas regrouped stronger than ever around a new command structure based in both Gaza and Damascus, Syria.


Although most senior Hamas leaders went into hiding when the Israeli air barrages began, Rayan made a point of living openly in his home in the Jabaliya refugee camp. He encouraged other leaders to follow suit.

“He refused to leave his house; he preferred to be a martyr,” the Hamas official said.

Thirteen members of Rayan’s family, including all four of his wives, were also killed in the strike, his teenage son Baraa told The Times.

Meanwhile, Israeli tanks and thousands of soldiers remain massed on the Gaza border Thursday awaiting an order to invade the densely populated and fortified coastal territory, with about 1.5 million people in 140 square miles.

In the face of mounting international calls for an end to the campaign, Israeli officials defended the operation as necessary to bring an end to the daily rocket launches from Gaza that threaten a widening swath of southern Israel.

“Hamas understands that Israel has changed the equation,” Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said before leaving for Paris to consult with French officials. “The situation in which they shoot and we do not respond is over.”

From the Los Angeles Times reporters on the ground in Gaza:


From The Washington Post’s Griff Witte
January 2, 2009

Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which began last Saturday, has been carried out exclusively by air and by sea. After a day of heavy rain, the weather improved Thursday, and military analysts said Israeli tanks and other vehicles massed on Gaza’s border could more easily enter the territory.

“The forces are there, and they’re ready for anything,” said an Israeli military spokeswoman, Maj. Avital Leibovich.

Israel’s exact objectives in Gaza remain unclear. Israeli military officials have said they are determined to substantially reduce Hamas’s rocket fire. Analysts expect Israel to seek a truce with Hamas on terms more favorable to the Jewish state than the ones under the six-month deal brokered by Egypt that expired in mid-December.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Thursday floated the idea of using international monitors, or even armed forces, to ensure that any future cease-fire holds. Israel has indicated it would welcome unarmed international observers.

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