Archive for the ‘cease-fire’ Category

More Rockets Hit Israel, “Disproportionate” Response Threatened

February 1, 2009

Militants in Gaza apparently fired four more rockets into Israel Sunday, shaking the already unsteady cease fire.

Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, “The cabinet’s position from the outset was that if there is rocket fire at southerners, there will be a response that will essentially be disproportionate.”

“Two weeks have passed since Israel’s decision to cease its fire in the Gaza Strip, and [the truce] was declared on two basic conditions: A complete halt in rocket fire and a stop to the smuggling of weapons to terror group through the Philadelphi Corridor,” he continued. “Those were the two conditions for the cease-fire and we knew that there was a considerable chance Hamas would continue with the rocket fire.”

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel's response will be "disproportionate" if rocket attacks continue.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel’s response will be “disproportionate” if rocket attacks continue.

“We won’t return to the rules of the game that terror groups have tried to dictate and we won’t be dragged into a never-ending shooting war,” said the prime minister, stressing that Israel would not allow the rocket attacks to continue.

Israel attacked Hamas in Gaza on December 27 with the stated aim of ending rocket attacks on southern Israel.

More than 1,300 Palestinians died and about 5,400 others were wounded. Thirteen Israelis, including 10 soldiers, were also killed in the fighting.

Rocket From Gaza Hits Israel; Isreal Threatens More Military Action

Jerusalem Post:



Sderot police station
The remnants of hundreds of rockets are held at Sderot police station, Israel

Rocket From Gaza Hits Israel; Isreal Threatens More Military Action

January 31, 2009

A rocket fired from Gaza landed in Israel on Saturday, the third since both Israel and Hamas declared cease-fires on January 18.

There were no injuries.

Update from Feb 1:
More Rockets Hit Israel, “Disproportionate” Response Threatened

“Hamas was hit like it was never hit before,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel’s Channel 10 TV on Friday. “If we will have to hit Hamas again, we will.”

Both Hamas and Israel are keeping a tense and steady truce, and both sides expressed concern that the fighting may not yet be over.

President Barack Obama’s new Middle East envoy promised a vigorous push for Israel-Palestinian peace, saying Gaza militants must end their weapons smuggling and the territory’s blockaded borders must be pried open if a cease-fire already marred by violence is to take hold.

George Mitchell held  talks with regional leaders this week to determine the next steps the Obama administration would take toward reviving peace negotiations following Israel’s blistering military offensive against Gaza’s Islamic Hamas rulers.


Jerusalem Post:

Obama Envoy in Israel, Seeks End To Hamas Tunnels, Smuggling

January 28, 2009

President Barack Obama’s new Mideast envoy called Wednesday for an end to Hamas weapons smuggling and a reopening of Gaza’s borders, seeking to strengthen the shaky cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants thrown into turmoil by new violence.

Hours before George Mitchell met with Israeli leaders, warplanes pounded Gaza smuggling tunnels in retaliation for a Palestinian bombing on Tuesday that killed an Israeli soldier.

By STEVE WEIZMAN, Associated Press Writer

After talks in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Mitchell said consolidating the cease-fire is “of critical importance.” He said a longer-term truce should be based on “an end to smuggling and reopening of the crossings” into Gaza. Egypt and Israel have kept their borders with Gaza largely closed since Hamas seized control of the territory by force in 2007.

Mitchell’s tour launches the first Mideast foray of the Obama administration. Obama said his envoy would listen to all sides to then craft a way forward with stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. Mitchell said that after finishing his consultations in the region and with Europeans, he will report to Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on his conclusions for the next steps.

“The United States is committed to vigorously pursuing lasting peace and stability in the region,” said Mitchell, who met earlier Wednesday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, the first stop on his Mideast tour.

Read the rest:

Hamas fighters seek to restore order in Gaza Strip

January 19, 2009

Uniformed Hamas security teams emerged on Gaza City’s streets Monday as leaders of the Islamic militant group vowed to restore order in the shattered Palestinian territory after a three-week pummeling by the Israeli military. Hamas proclaimed it won a great victory over the Jewish state — a view that appeared greatly exaggerated — and the task of reconstruction faced deep uncertainty because of the fear of renewed fighting and Israel’s control over border crossings.


Cars and pedestrians again clogged streets. Donkey carts hauled produce and firewood past rubble and broken glass. The parliament building and other targets of Israeli attacks were piles of debris, while orange and olive groves on the edge of town were flattened.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon planned to travel to Gaza on Tuesday to inspect damage and visit U.N. facilities hit in the fighting. Ban did not scheduled meetings with officials from Hamas, whose government is not internationally recognized.

Israelis hope Gaza’s civilians, who suffered heavily in the fighting that ended Sunday, will blame their militant rulers for provoking the Israeli assault with rocket attacks on southern Israel. Hamas, however, raced to capitalize on anger toward Israel and sought to show it remains unbowed and firmly in command of the Mediterranean coastal strip.

“We are still ready and capable of firing more rockets. We are developing the range of our rockets and the enemy will face more…

Read the rest:

Mideast Needs a More Engaged U.S. to Help Broker Lasting Peace

January 18, 2009

The carnage in Gaza – where Palestinian women and children have died by the hundreds as Israel tries to stop Hamas from rocketing its cities – is a grim epitaph for U.S. policies that made a bad neighborhood worse.

So it is welcome news that President-elect Barack Obama says “starting on day one, we . . . are going to be immediately engaged in the Middle East peace process.” Such intense U.S. engagement is crucial. Without it, Israel’s invasion of Gaza could have consequences that threaten its very future – and the region as a whole.

Failing a new U.S. strategy, the Gaza war could mark the final blow to the concept of a “two-state solution.” That’s shorthand for an Israeli and Palestinian state living peacefully side by side.

You may think this idea is a fantasy, but reflect on the alternative: a “one-state solution,” in which Israel keeps control of more than three million Palestinian Arabs. Israel would then face two grim choices: Offer Palestinians the vote and soon lose its Jewish majority, or keep ruling millions of Palestinians by force and become a South Africa-type state.

Although Bush endorsed a two-state solution, he did little to promote it, letting the peace process languish until the end of his second term. Bush categorically backed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, whose unilateral withdrawal from Gaza strengthened Hamas and undercut those who wanted peace talks.

The administration was solely focused on Iraq, even as Gaza became a virtual prison camp with all borders controlled by Israel. Nor did the administration press Israel to cease expanding settlements on the West Bank.

Under such conditions, Palestinians turned toward Hamas – which at least provided social services. Young Palestinians and intellectuals now talk increasingly about the “one-state solution.” Meantime, Hamas’ rocketing of Israeli towns has further soured Israelis on the idea of two states.

So Obama will take office as the very idea of two states is dying.

The Gaza war has badly undermined those moderate Arabs who still support the concept, such as Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, and the rulers in Jordan and Egypt.

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Gaza: Hamas agrees to one week cease fire

January 18, 2009

Palestinian militants agreed Sunday to a one-week cease-fire against Israel, according to Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha.
The announcement, 12 hours after Israel declared its own cease-fire, came after a flurry of rocket launches.

“Hamas and the factions announce a ceasefire in Gaza starting immediately and give Israel a week to withdraw,” said Ayman Taha, a Hamas official in Cairo for talks with Egypt on a truce deal.
The Islamic Jihad‘s Daoud Shihab, says other, smaller, militant groups have also agreed to join the truce. There has been no immediate response from Israel.

A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said earlier that if a ceasefire held in the Hamas-ruled enclave, Israel could start the process of withdrawing its forces.

Shihab told The Associated Press that the factions will jointly make a formal announcement later on Sunday.

Shihab says a longer cease-fire will be conditional on Israel withdrawing from Gaza the troops it sent into the strip two weeks ago. He says the militants will also demand that Israel open border crossings into Gaza.

Today is the first day of the cease fire in Gaza; a truce declared unilaterally by Isreal yesterday while some Hamas leaders were saying Hamas would fight to the last drop of blood.

Our previous report:
 Day One of Gaza Cease Fire Punctuated by Rockets, Small Arms


Israel hopes Iran and Hezbollah get message of Gaza offensive

January 18, 2009
The pounding of Hamas, Israeli security officials say, is a blow to Iran, which backs both the militant group and Shiite militia Hezbollah. But they also brace for possible retaliatory attacks.
By Sebastian Rotella
Los Angeles Times
January 18, 2009
Reporting from Jerusalem — In declaring a cease-fire Saturday in Gaza, Israel asserted that it had achieved its goals: hurting Hamas’ military wing, discouraging rocket fire into Israel and cutting the flow of smuggled arms into Gaza. But Israel had a broader goal: sending a tough message to its arch-enemies Iran and Hezbollah.

Israeli leaders say the pounding of Hamas dealt a blow to Iran, which Israel accuses of backing the Palestinian group, and to Hezbollah, the Shiite militia in Lebanon that fought Israel to a stalemate in 2006.

Protest in Iran 
Women at a Tehran stadium last week hold portraits of Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran. Hezbollah declined to get involved in the Gaza conflict, despite entreaties by Hamas. Atta Kenare / AFP/Getty Images

“The operation proved again the power of Israel and improved its deterrence against those who threaten it,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said.

Nonetheless, as Gaza quiets down, Israeli security officials acknowledge that the wider conflict could escalate, as it plays out in secret skirmishes in the Middle East and beyond.

For months, Israeli intelligence services have girded for a possible attack overseas intended to avenge the assassination last year of Imad Mughniyah, a Hezbollah warlord who was close to Iran. Israeli security officials say the threat has intensified as the Gaza bloodshed converges with the anniversary next month of Mughniyah’s death, for which Hezbollah blames Israel.

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Gaza: Israel Announces Unilateral Cease Fire

January 17, 2009

Telling all Gazans, “Israel does not hate you,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel announced a cease fire in Gaza commencing at 2 AM (Midnight GMT) Sunday, January 18, 2009.

The announcement comes after three weeks of fighting in the coastal strip, as Israel launched a massive offensive aimed at halting years of daily rocket fire on its southern communities.
The cease fire was announced after a rare after Sabbath meeting of the Israeli cabinet.  Cabinet members expressed opinions and voted on the cease fire.

Israel will keep troops in Gaza for an unspecified time.

“Hamas was hit hard, in its military arms and in its government institutions,” Olmert said. “If the fire stops entirely, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) will weigh pulling out of Gaza at a time that befits us. If not, the IDF will continue to act to defend our residents.”
“We can say that the conditions have been brought about that enable us to say that the aims that we laid down for the operation have been completely achieved, if not more than that,”  Olmert said. “Hamas has been dealt a very serious blow.”

But Olmert said Israel is prepared to respond if Hamas militants continue fighting in the Palestinian territory.

“If foes decide to continue to fight against us, then we will be ready and we shall consider ourselves justified in replying,” he said. “If Hamas still is not able to correctly evaluate the blow that has been inflicted on it, if it continues to attack us, it will be surprised at Israel’s determination.

“I do not suggest that Hamas or other terrorist organizations try us.”

Olmert praised and thanked Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for her tireless diplomatic efforts.  She has been the subject of death threats from anti-Israel activisits and militants.

He also thanked Defense Minister Ehud Barak for his “professionalism,” as well as a list of others including IDF troops and their commanders, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Shin Ben (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin, Mossad head Meir Dagan, Israel Police and Magen David Adom.

He also noted that he had received letters from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel offering their help to end arms smuggling to the Gaza Strip.
More than 1,100 Palestinians have been killed since the Israeli offensive began on Dec. 27, according to Palestinian and U.N. officials. At least 13 Israelis have also died.

Hamas remains quiet and has apparently not agreed to the cease fire.

But the international community expects Hamas to relent for the humanitarian good of the Gazan people.

Gaza is in ruins and in desperate need of food, water, medical supplies and medical workers, sewage control and other emergency services.

Earlier Saturday:

A Hamas spokesman says the militant group will continue fighting until Israeli troops leave Gaza.

Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum made the statement Saturday as Israeli leaders met to approve an Egyptian cease-fire proposal that would halt Israel’s 22-day-old offensive but leave troops in Gaza for a 10-day cooling-off period.

Barhoum did not explicitly say whether Hamas would hold its fire if Israeli forces do leave Gaza.

His comments were in a speech aired on Hamas television in Gaza.

Our report earlier today:
 Israel: “Goal Today” Is Unilateral Cease Fire, No Matter What Hamas Says


Associated Press:


Jerusalem Post:

Fox News Reported:

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Saturday that a unilateral cease-fire should be accompanied by a timetable for withdrawal, and a Hamas spokesman said the group would not stop fighting until Israel is out of Gaza.


Hamas: “We Will Fight In Gaza Until Israel Leaves”

January 17, 2009

A Hamas spokesman says the militant group will continue fighting until Israeli troops leave Gaza.

Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum made the statement Saturday as Israeli leaders met to approve an Egyptian cease-fire proposal that would halt Israel‘s 22-day-old offensive but leave troops in Gaza for a 10-day cooling-off period.

Barhoum did not explicitly say whether Hamas would hold its fire if Israeli forces do leave Gaza.

His comments were in a speech aired on Hamas television in Gaza.

International Effort “Guarantees” Gaza Cease Fire

January 17, 2009

On Tuesday, Israel was already looking for a way to end the fighting in Gaza.

But Hamas was pledging to fight to the last drop of blood.

And Hamas was supported and emboldened by allies such as Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and thousands of of protesting and angry anti-Israeli people.

So a group in the international community made a pledge, in the form of a question, to Israel: If we can help you achieve your goals will you end the fighting?

Israel agreed.  And as of today, Israel, the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy and others are living up to that agreement.

Israel really needed two things: a halt to the rocket attacks into Israel and a way to assure that Hamas doesn’t rearm.

Today, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told reporters that France and Germany had joined Britain in a pledge to curtail the bloodshed in Gaza now, by offering long-term support in keeping Hamas from rearming.

 “The Israelis, Egyptians and Palestinian Authority know this offer is available,” he said. “I think this may make it easier for people to come to a cease-fire.”
Brown said that if a cease-fire is reached, Britain has people ready to enter Gaza to provide humanitarian aid to help relieve the obvious suffering.

“Britain will not be found lacking in the support we can give,” he said.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office released a statement indicating that she, Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy had sent letters to Israeli and Egyptian leaders expressing a willingness to take a series of concrete measures to combat arms smuggling.

She said they all expressed support for “the efforts of the Israeli and Egyptian governments to reach a lasting cease-fire in Gaza.”

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi also joined in the offer of help, his office said Saturday.

European diplomats are part of a global push to calm the situation in Gaza, where more than 1,100 Palestinians and 13 Israelis have been killed since an Israeli offensive against Hamas terrorists began in late December.

Israel thought the U.S. so important to the international effort that prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to Washington DC to sign an agreement with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The two-and-a-half page document outlines a framework under which the United States will provide military and intelligence assets, including detection and surveillance equipment, as well as logistical help and training to Israel, Egypt and other nations in the region. The equipment and training would be used for monitoring Gaza’s land and sea borders.

The document also calls for the U.S. to expand work with its NATO partners in the effort, particularly in the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and eastern Africa, according to a text.

It also commits Washington to use relevant components of the U.S. military to assist Mideast governments in preventing weapons and explosives flows to Gaza that originate in or transit their territories.

“If this doesn’t satisfy the Israeli cabinet, what will?” a Western observer asked

Related from the Jerusalem Post:

 Russia “Herding Squirrels” Iran, Syria, Hamas Toward Cease Fire