Archive for the ‘Israelis’ Category

Obama Completes Spectacular First Week

January 28, 2009

Barack Obama’s first week in the White House has been spectacular.

He was greated by the largest live crowds ever, perhaps, to attend an inauguration.

He has appointed special envoys in the Middle East (George Mitchell) and for Afghanistan and Pakistan (Richard Holbrooke).

Like Karl Wallenda, the father of the famed high wire act, he pleased liberals with his proclamation on torture and Gitmo without really closing the detention facility and angering conservatives.

He has reached out to everyone: Republicans, Iran, Russia, Muslims, Israelis, Pakistan and everyone in between.

He has launch “policy reviews” all over the map: on Irag and Afghanistan; and on energy and the environment.

He’s gone to Republican lawmakers to hear their concerns — part photo op certainly but also part necessity and conviction.

“Mr. Obama doesn’t have to do that. He could get a stimulus bill passed almost entirely with Democratic votes. But Obama doesn’t want to be yet another president who divides the country,” said Bill Schneider of CNN.

Tonight he will host a “social hour” at the White House to include Republicans and Democrats.

Not a bad first week.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom


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

Obama: Muslims not America’s enemy, “I have Muslim members of my family”

Obama urges Israel, Hamas to keep peace in Gaza

January 22, 2009

President Barack Obama is calling on Israel and Hamas to take steps aimed at ensuring that the cease-fire that’s in place in Gaza will endure. Weighing in on the conflict for the first time following his inauguration, Obama said that going forward, Hamas must end rocket fire at Israel, and Israel must “complete the withdrawal of its forces from Gaza.” Although those steps were taken this week, low-level violence has marred the fragile cease-fire.

Obama said his administration will support a “credible” system of ending smuggling into Gaza.

He said he’s “deeply concerned” by the loss of life among both Israelis and Palestinians, and by the suffering taking place in Gaza. He said his heart goes out to civilians who are going without food, water or medical care.

He said Gaza‘s borders should be opened to allow aid to come in, with “appropriate monitoring.”

–Associated Press

Hamas Says They Still Control Gaza, But BBC Has Doubts

January 21, 2009

Standing on a newly formed hillside of rubble in the destroyed Jabaliya refugee camp, five young men all claim to be resistance fighters.

“All of Gaza are mujahideen,” they said.


But when asked which of them had actually fired a gun in the three week-long battle with Israel, none gave a convincing answer.

And as armed Hamas policemen return to Gaza’s street-corners and traffic-lights, many in Gaza are wondering where they were when it came to fighting the Israeli Army.

Hamas still has enough power and influence here that few will criticise the Islamist movement openly.

But when Hamas called for a rally to celebrate what it has been calling a historic victory over the Israelis, the citizens of Gaza voted with their feet – they stayed at home.

In the past Hamas could easily call tens of thousands into the streets, but this time only party stalwarts could look around the devastation and believe this could be victory.

“I think the resistance is strong,” said Beithar Ajar, 26, who described himself as a Hamas legal adviser.

“I think the Israeli army is very weak. Very weak.”

Sober appraisal

A truck with loudspeakers made a turn around Palestine Square in central Gaza city, playing Hamas battle songs.

A barker standing on the back shouted insults to Israel’s government on a microphone.

But relatively few green flags unfurled in the crowd.

Read the rest:

Gaza: International Opinion: You Hate Them Or You Don’t

January 18, 2009

In general, this Opinionator shies away from putting pieces from The Times front and center. But it’s hard to stay away from the Israeli action in Gaza as the topic of the week, and the M.S.M. opinion-page bombshell was clearly The Times Op-Ed page on Wednesday, which featured a lengthy article by Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic entitled “Why Israel Can’t Make Peace With Hamas” snuggled in next to Thomas L. Friedman’s column, “Israel’s Goals in Gaza?”

By Tobin Harshaw
The New York Times

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, never shy of overstatement, wasn’t even close to being the most vitriolic voice on the left side of the blogosphere when he called Goldberg “one of the nation’s leading (and most deceitful) progandists” intent on pushing “the joys and glories of this latest Middle East war.” (The vitriol award probably goes to the former New York Observer blogger Philip Weiss. )

Seeing as my readership is more than familiar with Tom Friedman’s work and he has his own comments section on the site, I’m going to focus on Jeff Goldberg and the discussion he spawned across the Web. (Disclosure: I had nothing to do with the commissioning or editing of “Why Israel Can’t Make Peace With Hamas” although I have worked with the writer in the past.) The piece raises what for many will be the $64,000 question once the fighting in Gaza subsides: “As the Gaza war moves to a cease-fire, a crucial question will inevitably arise, as it has before: Should Israel (and by extension, the United States) try to engage Hamas in a substantive and sustained manner?”

Goldberg feels that while it’s “a fair question, one worth debating” it is “unmoored from certain political and theological realities.” He explains:

Read the rest:

Day One of Gaza Cease Fire Punctuated by Rockets, Small Arms

January 18, 2009

Hours after an Israeli unilateral cease-fire had begun in Gaza, militants fired four rockets into southern Israel and exchanged gunfire with Israeli troops.

Hamas operatives in the Beit Lahiya area shot at soldiers, who returned fire. An IAF helicopter then shot the gunmen, the IDF reported.

Qassam rockets were fired into Sderot at 9 a.m. — seven hours after Israel’s cease-fire went into effect. The rockets did not injure anyone, and Israeli aircrafts destroyed the rocket launcher soon afterward, an Israeli military spokesman said.

The gunfire exchange in northern Gaza occurred after Palestinian gunmen opened fire on Israeli forces, the Israeli military said. Troops returned fire.

Saturday night, Israel announced a unilateral cease fire which began at midnight GMT.  Sunday has been largely quiet.

But how long will the quiet last?  That seems up to Hamas.

An Israeli soldier holds up an Israeli flag after leaving Gaza on Sunday.

An Israeli soldier holds up an Israeli flag after leaving Gaza on Sunday.

Israeli soldiers celebrate after leaving the Gaza Strip into ... 
Israeli soldiers celebrate after leaving the Gaza Strip into Israel, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009. Israel declared a unilateral cease-fire in the Gaza Strip on Sunday meant to end three devastating weeks of war against militants who have traumatized southern Israel for years with rocket attacks. But hours after the truce took hold, militants fired a volley of rockets into Israel, threatening to reignite the violence.(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
“Israel will only act in response to attacks by Hamas, either rockets into Israel or firing upon our forces,” government spokesman Mark Regev said. “If Hamas does deliberately torpedo this cease-fire, they are exposing themselves before the entire international community as a group of cynical extremists that have absolutely no interest in the well-being of the people of Gaza.”

By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, left, shakes hands with ... 
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, left, shakes hands with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, right, at a press conference following a meeting of the security cabinet at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009. Israel’s leaders voted late Saturday to halt an offensive that has killed nearly 1,200 people, turned the streets and neighborhoods of the Gaza Strip into battlegrounds and dealt a stinging blow to the Islamic militants of Hamas.(AP Photo/Dan Balilty)


The Associated Press reported:

Israel stopped its offensive before reaching a long-term solution to the problem of arms smuggling into Gaza, one of the war’s declared aims. And Israel’s insistence on keeping soldiers in Gaza raised the prospect of a stalemate with the territory’s Hamas rulers, who have said they would not respect any truce until Israel pulls out.

The military warned in a statement early Sunday that Israeli forces would retaliate for attacks against soldiers or civilians and that “any such attack will be met with a harsh response.”

The cease-fire went into effect just days ahead of President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration Tuesday. Outgoing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Bush administration welcomed Israel’s decision and a summit set for later Sunday in Egypt is meant to give international backing to the truce.

Leaders of Germany, France, Spain, Britain, Italy, Turkey and the Czech Republic — which holds the rotating European Union presidency — are expected to attend along with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon.

Ban welcomed the Israeli move and called on Hamas to stop its rocket fire. “Urgent humanitarian access for the people of Gaza is the immediate priority,” he said, declaring that “the United Nations is ready to act.”

Read the rest:

Protest in Iran 
How long can the Gaza cease fire last?  Above: 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

Top Israeli Urges Obama for United Anti-Terror Front

January 15, 2009

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged U.S.  President-elect Barack Obama to participate in a “united global front against terrorism.”

Netanyahu made the appeal during a Fox News Channel interview with Neil Cavuto on Wednesday.

Netanyahu, a former Prime Minister and future Prime Minster hopeful in Israel, puts Mr. Obama in a tight spot.

Netanyahu wants the elimination of Hamas: considering the group equal to if not the same as other terror groups like Hezbollah and al-Qaeda.

Hezbollah and Hamas are both supported by Iran.

Obama and Secretary of State designate Hillary Clinton are urging a new diplomacy with Iran.  Netanyahu rejects this notion as unworkable.

Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel must remove Gaza’s Hamas rulers from power to ensure victory over “terror.”


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 Israel Seriously Injured Itself During Gaza: “Is this the Israel you want to be?”

Israel's Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to reporters ... 
Israel’s Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to reporters during a meeting with journalists from the Foreign Press Association at the King David hotel in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli troops advanced into Gaza suburbs for the first time early Tuesday, residents said, hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants that they face an ‘iron fist’ unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip.(AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

UN chief Ban Ki-moon implores Israel and Hamas to stop Gaza violence

January 13, 2009

Frustrated at the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon will travel to the Middle East to press for Israel and Hamas to immediately stop fighting and allow humanitarian aid into the Palestinian territory.

By Damien McElroy in Jerusalem and Dina Kraft in Ashdod
The Telegraph (UK)

United Nations Secretary-General  Ban Ki-moon, right, shakes ... 
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, right, shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009.(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Mr Ban said he plans to step up diplomatic efforts to get both sides to adhere to a UN cease-fire resolution calling for an end to Israel’s air and ground offensive in Gaza and Hamas’ rocketing of southern Israel.

“To both sides, I say: Just stop, now,” he said. “Too many people have died. There has been too much civilian suffering. Too many people, Israelis and Palestinians, live in daily fear of their lives.”

Since Israel launched its offensive on Dec. 27, Mr Ban said he has been on the phone constantly with top officials in the Middle East, Europe and the United States promoting a cease-fire. But he said phone calls aren’t a substitute for direct talks with leaders who have influence on the parties.

The secretary-general leaves New York on Tuesday and will meet senior officials in Egypt and Jordan Wednesday, then head to Israel, the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Kuwait where he said an Arab League summit may add an extra session to tackle the Gaza conflict. His itinerary does not include a stop in Gaza because of the ongoing conflict.

Read the rest:

Gaza: As Thursday Starts, Israel Pounding Hamas Tunnels

January 7, 2009

Heavy shelling was reported in Rafah on Wednesday night as the IDF stepped up its operations against weapons smuggling tunnels along the Philadelphi Corridor.

From The Jerusalem Post
The army had earlier dropped flyers on Rafah urging residents of the town living near the corridor to vacate the area.

“Because Hamas uses your houses to hide and smuggle military weapons, the IDF will attack the area, between the Egyptian border until the beach road,” the flyer said, according a local UN official. 

After the flyers were dropped, about 5,000 people fled to two UN schools turned into temporary shlter, the official said.

Read the rest:

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.

Read the rest:

France’s President Nicholas Sarkozy Seeks Peace in Gaza

January 5, 2009

France’s President Nicholas Sarkozy is no longer President of the European Union, a rotating appoinment that ended on December 31.

But that has not stopped sarkozy from going where he believes he is needed:  during the next few day Sarkozy will be in Egypt, the West Bank, Tel Aviv, Jordan, and Syria, where he will meet with President Bashar al-Assad.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, reacts, with Palestinian ... 
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, reacts, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas upon his arrival in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009 as part of his two-day Middle East trip to seek ‘paths for peace’ in Gaza. Sarkozy left for Israel and the Palestinian territories where he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who lost control of Gaza to Hamas in June 2007.(AP Photo/Francois Mori, Pool)
According to the Christian Sciences Monitor: “Sarkozy hosted Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Paris last week. Sarkozy works well with Washington, and French diplomacy has ties to Arabs, Palestinians, and the Islamist movement. He can talk with Syria. Moreover, Sarkozy’s criticism of Israel’s response to Hamas rockets puts him closer to core EU views than with Prague‘s,” (the Czech President is now in charge of the EU).
See the Christian Science Monitor report:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: Can He Regain Gaza?