Archive for the ‘Egyptian’ Category

Day 17: Cease Fire Near? Hamas in Discussions; Israel “close” to achieving goals

January 12, 2009
The fighting in Gaza continued on Monday with both sides accused of possible dangerous changes in the nature of the battle.

But Israel paused the battle in Gaza at 10 AM Monday to allow humanitarian supplies to flow.
CNN said the halt in attacks started at 10 a.m. (3 a.m. ET) and was set to end at 1 p.m. (6 a.m. ET.) Israel will allow in 160 trucks of humanitarian aid into the Palestinian territory through the Kerem Shalom and Karni crossings, Defense Ministry spokesman Peter Lerner said.

This was the fifth day of humanitarian re-supply allowed by Israel.



Human Rights Watch said Sunday that Israel’s military has fired artillery shells with the incendiary agent white phosphorus into Gaza.

Israel said Iran is exerting heavy pressure on Hamas not to accept the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire.

Hamas representatives met in Cairo with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Gen. Omar Suleiman and his aides to discuss ways of ending the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas representatives reiterated their opposition to a cease-fire that did not include the reopening of all the border crossings into the Gaza Strip.

Israel wants a new international inspection effort between Israel and Egypt to prevent the re-arming of Hamas.

Despite the tightening Israeli cordon, however, militants still managed to fire off a rocket Monday morning which fell near the southern town of Kiryat Gat but caused no casualties, police said.

On Sunday an Israeli official said the two-week-old military operation might be in its final days.

The Israel Defense Forces said that there has been a dramatic drop in the ability of Hamas to launch rockets against Israel, Haaretz reported. Currently, the launches have dropped by 50 percent compared to to the first day of Operation Cast Lead, 17 days ago.
By Peace and Freedom
From BBC News:
Medics in Gaza say latest casualties include at least 60 people affected by suspected phosphorus shells fired illegally near civilian areas.


An Israeli army spokeswoman strongly denied the report, saying all its munitions complied with the law.

An Israeli spokesman also denied Human Rights Watch allegations of multiple use of white phosphorus in the bombing.

Phosphorus shells are allowed to make smoke in battlefields. Their use where civilian may be harmed is prohibited.

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A burned Palestinian boy is helped as he leaves Kamal Adwan hospital in Gaza on Sunday.

A burned Palestinian boy is helped as he leaves Kamal Adwan hospital in Gaza on Sunday.


The Assiciated Press reported:

White phosphorus is not considered a chemical weapon, and militaries are permitted under laws of warfare to use it in artillery shells, bombs and rockets to create smoke screens to hide troop movements as well as bright bursts in the air to illuminate battlefields at night.

Israel is not party to a convention regulating its use. Under customary laws of war, however, Israel would be expected to take all feasible precautions to minimize the impact of white phosphorus on civilians, Human Rights Watch said.

“What we’re saying is the use of white phosphorus in densely populated areas like a refugee camp is showing that the Israelis are not taking all feasible precautions,” said Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst for the rights group. “It’s just an unnecessary risk to the civilian population, not only in the potential for wounds but also for burning homes and infrastructure.”

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The Jerusalem Post:



The New York Times Reported:

Egyptian and Jordanian officials are worried that they see a fundamental tenet of the Middle East peace process slipping away: the so-called two-state solution, an independent Palestinian state coexisting with Israel.

If Israel does not assume responsibility for humanitarian aid in Gaza, for example, pressure could compel Egypt to fill the vacuum; Jordan, in turn, worries that Israel will try to push Palestinians from the West Bank into its territory.

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The Washington Post reported:

Israeli troops pushed deep into the Gaza Strip’s most populated area Sunday, producing some of the fiercest fighting of the 16-day war against Hamas as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared that Israel is “close” to achieving its goals but is not there yet.

The Israeli advance marked a possible precursor to a new phase of the conflict, in which Israeli forces engage Hamas and its allies in sustained urban combat.

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What’s the endgame for Israel and Hamas in Gaza?

Tony Blair said sease-fire discussions are fruitful.
Tony Blair: Gaza Cease-Fire Agreement Ready

Gaza Strikes Reverberate in Egypt

January 10, 2009

Mubarak Resists Calls at Home, in Region to Admit Palestinians Fleeing Violence


By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, January 10, 2009; Page A01

CAIRO, Jan. 9 — Rarely has an Arab leader been so widely perceived as backing Israel and the United States against the Palestinians, whose struggle has been a fundamental rallying point for Arabs and Muslims for more than six decades.

But Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has rejected popular and regional pressure to open the Gaza-Egypt border and toughen his stance against Israel. In recent days, his government has voiced support for Palestinians in an effort to defuse mounting criticism, but officials continue to suppress anti-Israeli demonstrations.

On Friday, as Israeli forces continued a two-week-old offensive against Hamas, the armed Islamist movement that controls Gaza, scores of Egyptian doctors emerged from their union building in downtown Cairo. They clutched posters reading “Gaza Is Dying” and banners demanding the opening of the Rafah border crossing. One demonstrator held a baby doll, symbolizing a Palestinian child, in a white sheet covered with fake blood.

Black-clad riot police stood before them, grim-faced in their black helmets. Brandishing clubs, they blocked the protesters from entering the street.

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Protesters in Alexandria, Egypt, call on the president to open the Gaza border, which he has done only for the most serious Palestinian casualties and to allow some aid through. Protesters in Alexandria, Egypt, call on the president to open the Gaza border, which he has done only for the most serious Palestinian casualties and to allow some aid through.
Photo Credit: By Tarek Fawzy — Associated Press

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: Can He Regain Gaza?

January 5, 2009

With Hamas weakened by Israel‘s Gaza offensive, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is trying to regain a foothold in the territory he lost to the Islamic militants in 2007.

Abbas is backing international efforts to end the violence, particularly an Egyptian proposal to deploy his forces on Gaza’s borders, along with other monitors. Yet he’s lost points at home for not displaying more sympathy for battered Gazans and for being perceived as too soft on Israel.

By KARIN LAUB, Associated Press Writer

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a PLO Executive ... 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a PLO Executive Committee meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a rival of Hamas who governs from the West Bank, condemned the Israeli invasion to the Gaza Strip as ‘brutal aggression.’ (AP Photo/Fadi Arouri, Pool)

It’s not clear whether Hamas has been weakened enough by Israel’s air and ground attacks to even consider relinquishing some power to Abbas in Gaza. Before the operation, the rivals were on a collision course, with Hamas saying Abbas’ four-year term ends Friday and that it will not recognize him after that.

Abbas is heading to the United Nations in New York on Monday, after meetings with the French president and top European diplomats in the West Bank, to lobby for a ….

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Gaza campaign exposes Middle East policy vacuum

January 3, 2009

Israel’s week-old offensive in the Gaza Strip is a violent sequel to a drive led by the United States, with much European and Arab support, to punish Hamas for resisting a largely discredited Middle East “peace process.”

The campaign is unlikely to eradicate Hamas or make it any easier for the next U.S. president, Barack Obama, to break the cycle of conflict and rescue swiftly receding prospects for a solution based on creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

By Alistair Lyon, Special Correspondent

Israel is consolidating its grip on the West Bank, while keeping Gazans bottled up. Splits between Palestinian factions have made sporadic U.S.-sponsored talks between the Israelis and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas notional at best.

Outgoing President George W. Bush had set a goal of reaching a peace deal by the end of 2008 after belatedly relaunching Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Annapolis in November 2007.

Faced instead with a new spasm of violence, the White House has effectively encouraged the Israelis to pursue what they portray as an attempt to quell rocket attacks on their civilians and “change the reality” in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

The European Union, lacking the energy and unity to act in the diplomatic vacuum left by Washington, has merely appealed for a ceasefire — and promised a bit more humanitarian relief to the 1.5 million people locked into the coastal strip by a punitive Israeli blockade and a sealed Egyptian border.

The Arab League, caught between public dismay at the Gaza bloodshed and the hostility of many member states to Hamas and other Islamist groups allied to Iran, has agreed only to ask the U.N. Security Council to compel Israel to halt its onslaught.

But the council is toothless without the United States and other veto powers in accord. It has yet to adopt a resolution.

 Gaza, Israel Could Highlight Stark Obama, Bush Differences

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