Archive for the ‘Gaza City’ Category

Shelling Ignites UN Relief HQ and Controversy in Gaza

January 15, 2009

Israeli artillery shelling hit the United nations centre for humanitarian assistance in Gaza City today, setting the building ablaze.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon immediately protested.

Then Israel’s prime minister said the Israeli military fired artillery shells at a U.N. compound in Gaza after militants opened fire from the location.

Ehud Olmert says Israeli forces “were attacked from there and the response was harsh.”

Olmert was quoted by the Associated Press.

John Ging, the head of operations in Gaza for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency said, “It’s a very big fire, and we’re not able to get it under control at the moment.”

“[Israeli] Defense Minister Barak said to me it was a grave mistake and he took it very seriously,” the UN Ban Ki-moon said at a news conference in Tel Aviv with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

But Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the matter is still under investigation. When asked about Ban’s comment, Regev said Defense Minister Ehud Barak actually told the U.N. chief that “if it was Israel’s fire, it was a grave mistake.”

Regev said it was “not clear whose shells, whose fire hit the U.N. facility.”

“It could have been ours, it could have been Hamas’,” Regev said. “This is being investigated.”

Regez was quoted by CNN.

With gun battles going on around the facility, “the emergency services are not able to get to us.”

By Peace and Freedom

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Associated Press:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090115/ap_o
n_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians

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From The New York Times:

The military push may be aimed at stepping up pressure on Hamas as cease-fire talks in Egypt entered a pivotal stage.

Read the rest from the NYT:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/16/worl
d/middleeast/16mideast.html?_r=1&hp

A Unitet Nations worker is seen as smoke billows from Israeli ... 
A Unitet Nations worker is seen as smoke billows from Israeli bombardment at the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Witnesses and U.N. officials said that Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City.The U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed ‘strong protest and outrage’ to Israel over the shelling of the compound.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

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From Associated Press

The U.N. chief says he has expressed “strong protest and outrage” to Israel over the shelling of a United Nations compound in Gaza City.

Ban Ki-moon is demanding an investigation into Thursday’s shelling. He says Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has told him it was a “grave mistake.”

Israeli shells damaged the international organization’s headquarters in Gaza City, according to witnesses and U.N. officials. U.N. spokesman Chris Gunness says at least three people were wounded.

Israel launched an offensive against Hamas in Gaza on Dec. 27.

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Related:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/me
ast/01/15/gaza.aid.plea/index.html#c
nnSTCText

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From Peace and Freedom:
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Thousands of Gazans are fleeting their homes as the Israeli Army works to root out Hamas militants in Gaza City.

The military action set the United Nations office structure ablaze today in Gaza City

Fighting is now in the city’s residential neighborhoods on Day 20, Thurswday, January 15, 2009.

In Gaza, the dead now number over 1,000.

Israel Air Force planes struck some 70 targets overnight, including weapons positions, rocket squads and a mosque in southern Gaza that it said served as an arsenal, the military said.

President Assad of Syria asked both sides to agree immediately to a cease fire and then work out their cross border smuggling issues later.

Israel insist on a regime to prohibit the re-arming of Hamas through the Gazan borders.

But Syria is not trusted in Israel where it is often seen as an aid to Iran and militant anti-Israeli forces like Hamas and Hezbollah.

Yesterday, Hamas seemed on the verge of agreement of an international 10 day cease fire brokered in Cairo, Egypt.

Israel was to again consider the cease fire idea today.

In Israel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is known to favor a cease fire while Prime Minister Olmert is resisting.

Haaretz reported that the disagreement is causing trouble in the Israeli war cabinet.
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Following press reports Wednesday that Barak wanted to see a humanitarian cease-fire, sources close to Olmert were quoted as saying that Hamas saw and heard what was going on in Israel and “draws encouragement” from this, concluding that Israel was searching for a way out of the military operation.

“The irresponsibility of ministers – regardless of how senior they are – in leading private initiatives is unfortunate,” one of these officials said.

A United Nations worker surveys the damage from Israeli bombardment ... 
A United Nations worker surveys the damage from Israeli bombardment at the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Witnesses and U.N. officials said that Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City.The U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed ‘strong protest and outrage’ to Israel over the shelling of the compound.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

The official said that the publication of these plans “gives encouragement to Hamas, gives a shot in the arm to their backers, and has an immediate effect of the fate of a million Israelis in the South and thousands of IDF soldiers carrying out operations inside Gaza.”

But Arab nations trying to assist in the cease fire process were in disagreement how how and when to hold an Arab summit.

 Hamas spokesman Mohammed Nizal said Wednesday, “Is it possible to get into the third week of this Zionist aggression against Gaza and the Arabs can’t hold a summit for Gaza and to stop this aggression?

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Smoke billows from Gaza on Thursday as fighting continued to rage.

Smoke billows from Gaza on Thursday as fighting continued to rage.

Related:
Haaretz:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/sp
ages/1055761.html

Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1
231917085180&pagename=JPost%2FJPArti
cle%2FShowFull

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The Associated Press reported:

Witnesses say Israeli ground troops are advancing into crowded residential areas of Gaza City and thousands of terrified residents are fleeing their homes.

Israeli troops backed by helicopter gunships, tanks and heavy guns thrust deeper into the city than ever before Thursday to seek Hamas fighters, they said.

It wasn’t clear whether this would be a brief foray or signal a new phase in Israel’s devastating offensive against Gaza’s Islamic Hamas rulers.

Israel has balked at launching all-out urban warfare in Gaza City, where Hamas militants are more familiar with the lay of the land and Israeli casualties would be liable to spiral.

Israel launched the offensive on Dec. 27 to stop militant rocket fire on southern Israel from Gaza.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090115
/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians

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Israel, Hamas Wage “Urban War” in Gaza City, Day 20

January 15, 2009

Thousands of Gazans are fleeting their homes as the Israeli Army works to root out Hamas militants in Gaza City.

The military action set the United Nations office structure ablaze today in Gaza City

Fighting is now in the city’s residential neighborhoods on Day 20, Thurswday, January 15, 2009.

In Gaza, the dead now number over 1,000.

Smoke rises during an Israeli military operation in Gaza as ... 
Smoke rises during an Israeli military operation in Gaza as Israeli tanks are seen near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Thursday Jan. 15, 2009. Israeli tanks shelled downtown Gaza City on Thursday and ground troops thrust deep into a crowded neighborhood for the first time, sending terrified residents fleeing for cover and ratcheting up the pressure on Gaza’s Hamas rulers to accept a proposed cease-fire to end a devastating Israeli offensive.(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Israel Air Force planes struck some 70 targets overnight, including weapons positions, rocket squads and a mosque in southern Gaza that it said served as an arsenal, the military said.

President Assad of Syria asked both sides to agree immediately to a cease fire and then work out their cross border smuggling issues later.

Israel insist on a regime to prohibit the re-arming of Hamas through the Gazan borders.

But Syria is not trusted in Israel where it is often seen as an aid to Iran and militant anti-Israeli forces like Hamas and Hezbollah.

Yesterday, Hamas seemed on the verge of agreement of an international 10 day cease fire brokered in Cairo, Egypt.

Israel was to again consider the cease fire idea today.

In Israel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is known to favor a cease fire while Prime Minister Olmert is resisting.

Haaretz reported that the disagreement is causing trouble in the Israeli war cabinet.
.
Following press reports Wednesday that Barak wanted to see a humanitarian cease-fire, sources close to Olmert were quoted as saying that Hamas saw and heard what was going on in Israel and “draws encouragement” from this, concluding that Israel was searching for a way out of the military operation.

“The irresponsibility of ministers – regardless of how senior they are – in leading private initiatives is unfortunate,” one of these officials said.

The official said that the publication of these plans “gives encouragement to Hamas, gives a shot in the arm to their backers, and has an immediate effect of the fate of a million Israelis in the South and thousands of IDF soldiers carrying out operations inside Gaza.”

But Arab nations trying to assist in the cease fire process were in disagreement how how and when to hold an Arab summit.

 Hamas spokesman Mohammed Nizal said Wednesday, “Is it possible to get into the third week of this Zionist aggression against Gaza and the Arabs can’t hold a summit for Gaza and to stop this aggression?

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Smoke billows from Gaza on Thursday as fighting continued to rage.

Smoke billows from Gaza on Thursday as fighting continued to rage.

Related:
Haaretz:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/sp
ages/1055761.html

Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1
231917085180&pagename=JPost%2FJPArti
cle%2FShowFull

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The Associated Press reported:

Witnesses say Israeli ground troops are advancing into crowded residential areas of Gaza City and thousands of terrified residents are fleeing their homes.

Israeli troops backed by helicopter gunships, tanks and heavy guns thrust deeper into the city than ever before Thursday to seek Hamas fighters, they said.

It wasn’t clear whether this would be a brief foray or signal a new phase in Israel‘s devastating offensive against Gaza’s Islamic Hamas rulers.

Israel has balked at launching all-out urban warfare in Gaza City, where Hamas militants are more familiar with the lay of the land and Israeli casualties would be liable to spiral.

Israel launched the offensive on Dec. 27 to stop militant rocket fire on southern Israel from Gaza.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090115
/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians

Day 19: “End Hamas” Being Discussed in Isreal; But So Is Cease-Fire

January 14, 2009

Some leaders in Israel are now saying Hamas must be eliminated to assure peace for Israelis.

The call comes from Benjamin Netanyahu, Chairman of the Likud Party in Israel.

But senior Israeli defense  officials want a cease fire now.

Related:
 Gaza: Hamas Makes Cease-Fire Offer

Senior defense establishment officials believe that Israel should strive to reach an immediate cease-fire with Hamas, and not expand its offensive against the Palestinian Islamist group in Gaza.
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At least three Katyusha rockets fired from Lebanon landed near Kiryat Shmona, Israel, on Wednesday morning, the second rocket attack from Lebanon in less than a week.

Israeli sources have been unable to say who exatly has been responsible for these seemingly isolated and uncoordinated attacks but they indicate the intensity of the anger and protest all around Israel since the start of the operation in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Israeli troops thrust deeper into Gaza City Wednesday, backed by tanks.  The soldiers seemed to be seeking our engagement with Hamas fighters in alleyways and cellars.
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Residents spoke of heavy machine-gun fire as Israeli troops fought Hamas gunmen near Gaza City. Israel said it launched 60 air strikes overnight.

An Israeli soldier looks out from atop an armoured personnel carrier near the border with the northern Gaza Strip

Above: An Israeli soldier looks out from atop an armoured personnel carrier near the border with the northern Gaza Strip Photo: REUTERS

The Israeli army claimed 50 militants were killed in fighting over the last 24 hours but it was impossible to confirm the claim.
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On the diplomatic front the Associated Press reported that  Israel sent its lead negotiator to Cairo for “decisive” talks on a cease-fire and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also headed to the region to join the diplomatic efforts.

“All the member states of the United Nations have an obligation to abide by UNSC resolutions,” he said during a press conference following a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. “[They] are binding in their nature, and I urge the Israeli leaders – as I have until now- to abide by this, to cease military operations, ensure a ceasefire, and engage in humanitarian assistance.”

Haaretz continues to report on an apparent disagreement within the Israeli government.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak is promoting a week-long “humanitarian cease-fire” in the Gaza Strip. In contrast, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert believes the military operation still has not achieved its goals.

Olmert is delaying a meeting with senior ministers in an effort to allow the military operations in Gaza to continue, Haaretz said.

Asked if Israel’s war aims had been achieved, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said: “Most of them, probably not all of them.”

The Israeli air and ground offensive against the coastal territory’s Hamas rulers has killed more than 940 Palestinians, half of them civilians, according to Palestinian hospital officials.

There seems to be a stalemate of sorts in and around Gaza.  The combat elements are engaged but neither will relent.
For over ten days Egypt’s spy chief, Omar Suleiman, has sought in vain to win assurances from Hamas that it would stop militants firing rockets into Israel from Gaza.

Hamas has demanded a withdrawal of Israel forces and an end to Israeli airstrikes before it agrees to a ceasefire.

In Israel, the government is split at least to some degree and will not relent.

Hamas also is torn between those that want to end the bloodshed and those that are energized by support from Iran and fueld by images of anti-Israel protests around the world.

Even if a cease fire can be worked out here nothing will be solved on a long term basis, many say.

“Like Hezbollah, Hamas believes that God is opposed to a Jewish state in Palestine,” writes Jeffrey Goldberg in today’s New York Times.

And in Israel, there is a deep sense that the nation is fighting for its very life.
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According to Israel’s Likud Party Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, “there are two options [in Gaza]. The eradication of the Hamas regime – and there will be no escaping this in the long run – and putting an end to its armament.”

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Related:
 Why Israel Can’t Make Peace With Hamas
.

Unable To Stop Hamas Arms, Some Israelis Say “End Hamas”

BBC:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/mi
ddle_east/7827919.stm

Haaretz:
http://www.haaretz.com/hase
n/spages/1055476.html

Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1231
917082652&pagename=JPost%2FJP
Article%2FShowFull

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.

Related:
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 
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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

Related:
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

 

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

Tuesday: Israel Crashes Into Gaza City

January 13, 2009

Israeli ground troops battled Palestinian militants in the streets of a densely populated Gaza City neighborhood early Tuesday, destroying dozens of homes and sending terrified residents running for cover as gunfire and explosions echoed in the distance.

Israel‘s push into Tel Hawwa neighborhood was the farthest it has moved into Gaza City during its 18-day offensive against Hamas militants, and brought Israel’s ground forces within a mile of the crowded city center. Palestinian hospital officials say more than 900 Palestinians, half of them civilians, have been killed.

Israel launched the offensive on Dec. 27 to end years of Palestinian rocket attacks on its southern towns, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has vowed to press forward with an “iron fist,” despite growing international calls for an end to the fighting. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was headed to the region Tuesday to press for a cease-fire.

Palestinian witnesses said the Israeli forces moved overnight about 300 yards into Tel Hawwa, a neighborhood of high-rise buildings on the southeastern edge of Gaza City. Palestinian medical officials reported at least 16 people killed in fighting, though the Israeli army suggested the number could be much higher.

One resident, Khader Mussa, said he fled his house while waving a white flag as the Israeli forces advanced. He spent the night huddling in the basement of a relative with 25 other people, including his pregnant wife and his parents.

By IBRAHIM BARZAK and JOSEF FEDERMAN, Associated Press Writers

“Thank God we survived this time and got out alive from here. But we don’t know how long we’ll be safe in my brother’s home,” Mussa, 35, told The Associated Press by telephone.

Several buildings were on fire, witnesses said, including a lumberyard. Sounds of the battle could be heard clearly around the city of 400,000 as the Israeli forces, backed by artillery and attack helicopters, moved into neighborhoods east and south of Gaza City. Israeli gunboats shelled the coast from the west.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090113/
ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians

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

January 13, 2009

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

Related:
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

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An Israeli reservist poses with his weapons as others stand ... 
An Israeli reservist poses with his weapons as others stand near Israel’s border with Gaza, in southern Israel, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. Israeli warplanes pounded the homes of Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and ground troops edged ever closer to the territory’s densely-populated urban center Monday but reported casualties were low, an indication that Hamas was largely avoiding pitched battles with the advancing Israelis.(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The Associated Press reported:

The Palestinian residents told The Associated Press that Israeli tanks rolled into public areas of the Tel Hawwa neighborhood, pushing back militants. Tens of thousands of Palestinians live in apartment buildings in the neighborhood south of Gaza City.

One of the residents, Khader Mussa, 35, told The Associated Press by telephone that he saw two apartment buildings on fire. He said he was huddling in the basement of his building with 25 other people, including his pregnant wife and his parents. “The gates of hell have opened,” he said. “God help us.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009011
3/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians

Related:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD
/meast/01/13/israel.gaza/index.html

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From the New York Times:

To Israel’s critics abroad, the picture could not be clearer: Israel’s war in Gaza is a wildly disproportionate response to the rockets of Hamas, causing untold human suffering and bombing an already isolated and impoverished population into the Stone Age, and it must be stopped.
Yet here in Israel very few, at least among the Jewish population, see it that way.

Since Israeli warplanes opened the assault on Gaza 17 days ago, about 900 Palestinians have been reported killed, many of them civilians. Red Cross workers were denied access to scores of dead and wounded Gazans, and a civilian crowd near a United Nations school was hit, with at least 40 people killed.

But voices of dissent in this country have been rare….

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/13/wo
rld/middleeast/13israel.html?_r=1&hp

Sunday, Day 16: Gaza City Under Siege

January 11, 2009

Foreign Minister Tzip Livni said Sunday that Israel’s war with Hamas is not a one-time conflict that will end with an agreement.
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Israel on Sunday battled closer to Gaza City.  Hamas resisted in heavy small arms fire.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said its air strikes on Saturday night and  Sunday morning had targeted tunnels, weapons stores and a mosque that were allegedly used to store weapons.

Witnesses told the Jerusalem Post that fighting in the city’s Sheikh Ajleen neighborhood erupted as IDF infantrymen and tanks advanced toward the densely-populated Gaza City.

An Israeli soldier is seen on top of a tank at a staging area near Israel's
AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner

The fighting, on the southwest side of the Hamas-ruled territory’s biggest population center, suggested Israel was intensifying a more than two-week-old offensive.

Related:
Olmert on Gaza; Lashes International Criticism
.
Hamas Bloodied; Not Yet Ready To Quit
.
Israel: “This is not a conflict that will end with an agreement”

Clashes near Gaza City, witnesses say

Israel warned of the escalation publically and in leaflets dropped on the area.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad said they ambushed the soldiers. Gaza on Jan. 3.

The fighting in the approach to Gaza City appeared to be one of the fiercest land battles since ground forces were sent into

At least 12 people were killed, Palestinian health officials said.

CNN Reported that the Hamas commander in charge of launching rockets into Israel from the Gaza City area was killed Saturday by Israeli ground fire, the IDF said.

Amir Mansi was spotted firing a rocket Saturday from the Jabel Rise area, east of Gaza City, during a ground force operation, the IDF said. Israeli forces opened fire, killing Mansi and wounding two other Hamas operatives, who were captured, the Israelis said.

Mansi was the leading Hamas authority on the Grad long-range missile-launching system, the IDF said. Grad rockets have allowed Hamas to reach farther into Israel than in previous attacks.

The BBC said Hamas launched a barrage of rockets on Sunday, two of which struck 42 km (26 miles) inside southern Israel at the city of Beersheba, the military said. There were no reported casualties or damage.

Some 820 Gazans and 13 Israelis have reportedly died in 14 days of fighting. Medical staff said 235 children are among at least 820 Palestinians killed in the conflict.

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=123
1424914146&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2
FShowFull

CNN:

Haaretz:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/
1054466.html

BBC:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_ea
st/7822623.stm

Associated Press:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090111/
ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians

Israeli officials also said that Hamas was nearing exhaustion. 

These statements could be setting the framework for an end to Operation Cast Lead by Israel.  But not an end to the long term nature of the conflict.
.

Israel may be close to “the end of the operation” because of a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said Sunday.

“The decision of the U.N. Security Council doesn’t leave us much leeway,” Vilnai told Israel Radio. “It would seem then, I’m guessing, that we are close to the end of the ground operation and the end of the operation altogether.”

Gaza City Attack: Israel Says “No Restraint,” Day 15 and Beyond

January 10, 2009

Israel’s foreign minister Tzipi Livni has declared her country “is not going to show restraint” as its forces close in on the main Hamas stronghold in Gaza.

This is day 15 of the Israeli-Hamas fight for Gaza.

Palestinian militants fired at least 10 more rockets at Israel.

And now Israel is making ready for a total assault upon Gaza City and the possible Hamas militants hiding there.

Related:
Gaza Day 15: New UN Effort While Fighting Rages

Israeli artillery shells explode over the Gaza Strip

Here’s a report from the Telegraph (UK):

As the conflict entered its third week, airstrikes were intensified and Israeli Defence Force (IDF) troops moved deeper into the outskirts of Gaza City, engaging militants in gun battles.

With Palestinian medics saying the death toll had risen to more than 780, two Hamas rockets hit the Israeli town of Ashkelon.

“Israel is not going to show restraint anymore,” Mrs Livni said in an interview in the United States. “It is not a missile against a missile. We are going to attack strongly if they continue.”

The IDF killed 15 Hamas fighters some of the most intense close-quarter fighting of the conflict so far, raising the possibility that Israel is preparing for its final push against the militant group’s stronghold.

Israeli troops close in on Gaza City

The Israeli Defence Force moves deeper into the outskirts of Gaza City as the conflict enters its third week Photo: AFP

Some of the heaviest clashes took place on a coastal road north of Gaza City, with IDF troops moving to within a mile of the city before pulling slightly back.

Although a few hundred Hamas fighters are believed to have died in the fighting, there are thousands more who are thought to be waiting in urban areas to take on the Israeli ground forces.

Overnight, Israeli aircraft hit more than 40 targets throughout Gaza, including rocket-launching sites, weapons-storage facilities and smuggling tunnels, a military spokesman said.

The renewed fighting followed a failed international attempt to force a ceasefire.

“The idea is not to reoccupy the Gaza Strip,” Mrs Livni said in the Washington Post. “We are coming back because of terror.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/
israel/4212956/Israeli-troops-close-in-on-Gaza-City.html

An Israeli police officer in Sderot removes a Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip by Hamas fighters. An Israeli military spokeswoman said Hamas had used tunnels into Egypt to acquire 100 tons of explosives in the past year. An Israeli police officer in Sderot removes a Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip by Hamas fighters. An Israeli military spokeswoman said Hamas had used tunnels into Egypt to acquire 100 tons of explosives in the past year.
 
Photo Credit: By David Silverman — Getty Images

Israel Carves Up Gaza: Day 9

January 4, 2009

Israeli troops advanced into Gaza on Sunday under cover of heavy air, tank and artillery fire after opening a ground war against the militant group Hamas on Saturday night.

By TAGHREED EL-KHODARY and ISABEL KERSHNER
The New York Times

Witnesses said the Israeli forces had punched across Gaza, bisecting its northern and southern parts, and had taken over certain strategic areas, including what the military has described as rocket launching sites.

The ground campaign came after a week of intense airstrikes. Israel’s stated goal was to destroy the infrastructure of Hamas, the Islamic group that controls Gaza’s government, and to significantly decrease the threat to southern Israel from Palestinian rocket fire.

In a telephone briefing for a group of foreign correspondents, a senior Israeli military official said that Israeli troops would hold the areas they have taken inside Gaza at least for the duration of the operation to prevent militants from returning to fire rockets from there.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/05/wo
rld/middleeast/05mideast.html?_r=1&hp

Israeli Forces Bisect Gaza, Surround Biggest City, Sunday Noon GMT

January 4, 2009

Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip early Sunday, bisecting the coastal territory and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against Hamas gained momentum.

Thousands of soldiers in three brigade-size formations pushed into Gaza after nightfall Saturday, beginning a long-awaited ground offensive after a week of intense aerial bombardment. Black smoke billowed over Gaza City at first light and bursts of machine gun fire rang out.

From the Associated Press
.
In his first public comments since the ground operation was launched, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his Cabinet on Sunday that Israel could not allow its civilians to continue to be targeted by rockets from Gaza.

“This morning I can look every one you in the eyes and say the government did everything before deciding to go ahead with the operation,” he said.

A senior military officer said Hamas was well-prepared for the Israeli incursion into Gaza, a densely populated territory of 1.4 million where militants operate and easily hide in the crowded urban landscape. He said the operation was “not a rapid one that would end in hours or a few days.”

Still, he said, “We have no intention of staying in the Gaza Strip for the long term.” He spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with army regulations.

TV footage showed Israeli troops with night-vision goggles and camouflage face paint marching in single file. Artillery barrages preceded their advance, and they moved through fields and orchards following bomb-sniffing dogs ensuring their routes had not been booby-trapped.

The military said troops killed or wounded dozens of militant fighters, but Palestinian medical teams in Gaza, unable to move because of the fighting, could not provide casualty figures. Hamas said only three of its fighters had been killed, and Gaza health officials said eight civilians also died, including a 12-year-old girl in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya and four family members killed in an airstrike in southern Gaza.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/
01/04/world/AP-ML-Israel-Palestinia
ns.html?_r=1

Related:
http://zionismandisrael.wordpress.com/20
09/01/04/gaza-ground-invasion/