Archive for the ‘ground attack’ Category

Gaza health risk as sewage floods streets as Israeli attacks continue

January 2, 2009

Fears of a public health crisis in Gaza grew today as sewage started flooding into the streets because of a shortage of fuel to run pumps.

By Tim Butcher at Israel’s Erez crossing into Gaza
Telegraph (UK)
The waste leak added to controversy over the humanitarian situation with growing international anger at Israel’s refusal to accept there is a crisis.

Sewage has long been a major concern in Gaza where the antiquated pumping system is held together with a fragile network of temporary pumps and generators.

Oxfam reported the north Gazan town of Beit Hanoun was experiencing serious sewage flooding after generators that run the local pumping station ran out of diesel.

Israel is not allowing diesel into the Gaza Strip although it does allow in some industrial diesel for Gaza’s sole power station to run for a few hours each day.

The amount of industrial diesel allowed in by Israel is considerably less than the delivery ordered by the Israeli supreme court after an action brought by human rights campaigners.

Sadi Ali, project manager for the Palestinian Water Authority, said the health risk from sewage on the streets was clear.

“There is a risk of the spread of all sorts of water borne diseases such as dysentery and cholera,” he said.

Read the rest:


“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.

Read the rest:

Gaza: Israel Preparing for Endgame?

January 1, 2009

Growing signs are emerging that israel is trying to shape a way to end the Gaza fighting and achieve its goals.

A ground action of Israeli troops and tanks into gaza still seems possible.  “The infantry, the artillery and other forces are ready. They’re around the Gaza Strip, waiting for any calls to go inside,” Military spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibovich said.

Israel Tanks AP

But Israel is also allowing humanitarian supplies into Gaza and has raised the notion of international observers to monitor the post violence situation inside Gaza.

The Jerusalem Post reported that on Wednesday, 93 trucks carrying food, medicine and medical supplies donated by Jordan and international organizations were transferred into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom Crossing in the southern part of the Strip.

On Tuesday, 93 trucks were also allowed into Gaza and another 90 are expected to enter Gaza on Thursday. A plane from Qatar will also land in Israel on Thursday carrying supplies that will be transferred to Gaza.

“We have no interest in a long war. We do not desire a broad campaign. We want quiet,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a meeting of mayors of southern Israeli cities Thursday. “We don’t want to display our might, but we will employ it if necessary.”

To pave the way for a post-hostilities situation, Israel isn’t seeking a peacekeeping force, but a monitoring body that would judge compliance on both sides.

After the  2006 war with Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, Israel accepted peacekeepers but was never satisfied with that arrangement.

“We are asking for a cease-fire and an international presence to monitor Israel’s commitment to it,” Israeli government aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh said.
Several organizations have said Hamas is almost ready for a cease fire.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, whose office in Gaza was struck overnight, said Israel needed to “stop attacking and killing our children, women and men.”

“The aggression must stop, the crossings must open and the blockade must be lifted and then we can talk about all other issues,” he said in televised comments Wednesday. “Then we can start a national dialogue without any preset conditions.”
John Holmes, the UN’s undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and its emergency relief coordinator said, “It’s hard to exaggerate the degree of constant fear, I think, felt by those in Gaza, in particular, as the attacks continue.”

“And of course, there is stress on the Israeli side too because of the constant threat of rockets,” he said, speaking in a Wednesday briefing at the United Nations.

“This is a very bloody operation, by anybody’s standards, even by the standards of that part of the world,” Holmes said.

Holmes was quoted by CNN.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom


Gaza Day 6, January 1, 2009

China Made Gaza Rockets Used By Hamas

Gaza Day 6, January 1, 2009

January 1, 2009

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 ... 
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

Israel Feeling Little International Pressure to Stop Gaza Assault: Ground Attack Next?

December 29, 2008

Israeli tanks deployed on the edge of the Gaza Strip, poised to enter the densely populated enclave of 1.5 million Palestinians. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s cabinet approved a call-up of 6,500 reservists, a government official said.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told top commanders at a briefing on Sunday that the Israeli offensive was open-ended. Military spokesman Avi Benayahu said it could “take many days.”

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Olmert, said the campaign would continue until the population in southern Israel “will no longer live in terror and in fear of constant rocket barrages.”

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who hopes to become prime minister after a February 10 election, appeared to rule out a large-scale invasion to recapture the territory.

“Our goal is not to reoccupy Gaza Strip,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program. Asked on Fox News if Israel was out to topple Gaza’s Hamas rulers, Livni replied: “Not now.”

The U.N. Security Council called on all sides to cease fire. But an Israeli official said Israel was feeling little international pressure to halt its operations.

Read the rest from Reuters: