Archive for the ‘Lebanon’ Category

Israel May Elect Netanyahu; Disappointing Outsiders

February 8, 2009

Israel’s Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, last night launched a concerted final effort to become her nation’s first woman leader since Golda Meir, despite the rightwards shift in public opinion that has threatened to propel Benjamin Netanyahu back into the premiership.

The leader of the centrist Kadima party, who began the closing stages of her campaign with a rally for Druze Arab voters in Galilee last night, issued a direct personal challenge to Mr Netanyahu to agree to the television debate which he has consistently refused.

As polls showing the lead of Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party has narrowed to only two seats ahead of Kadima, Ms Livni’s campaign team believes she can overtake her rival by the time Israel goes to the polls on Tuesday.

Mr Netanyahu has emphasised the threats from Hamas and a nuclear Iran in his campaign.

By Donald Macintyre
The Independent (UK)

Israel's Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu smiles during ... 
Israel’s Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu smiles during a meeting with supporters in the northern city of Tiberias February 8, 2009. Surveys predict a narrow win in Tuesday’s vote for hawkish ex-premier Netanyahu, his comeback fuelled by the inconclusive wars in southern Lebanon and Gaza, formerly areas under Israel’s control and now bastions of hostile Islamists.REUTERS/Baz Ratner (ISRAEL)

Ms Livni, who strongly supported the recent invasion of Gaza, but has pledged to continue talks on a two-state solution with the moderate West Bank Palestinian leadership, said there was a public demand from potential leaders “to specify with which policies they plan to cope with the threats, and lead [Israel] to a better future of peace and quiet”. Meanwhile the outgoing Kadima premier, Ehud Olmert, was making what the Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, said were “supreme efforts” to leave a positive legacy by securing the release of Gilad Shalit, the army corporal seized by Gaza militants in 2006, before polling day.

Turkish TV reported on Friday that Turkish officials were holding talks in Damascus with exiled leaders of Hamas, which has been seeking a large-scale release of Palestinian prisoners in return.

At the same time Mr Barak, Labour’s prime ministerial candidate, told Channel 1 TV that Cpl Shalit was known to be “well, alive, breathing and OK”.

He added: “You know that I am a fierce critic of the Prime Minister, but in these matters, in these days, he is making a great effort, as am I … in order to expedite the process.” Whether the formidable obstacles to securing the release can be overcome remains to be seen, however.

A Hamas official, Osama al-Muzaini, said talks on the issue had so far made little progress because Israel “remained unwilling to pay the price”.

While Mr Barak warned the release of Cpl Shalit would require “painful decisions” – presumably on a prisoner exchange – the electoral effect, if it happened, would probably be to help Labour and Kadima at the expense of Likud and the increasingly popular Yisrael Beiteinu, led by the hard-right Avigdor Lieberman.

According to the polls, the main features of a relatively lacklustre election so far have been the Likud comeback under Mr Netanyahu from its three-decade low of just 12 Knesset seats in the 2006 election, and the seemingly relentless rise of Mr Lieberman, who could yet prove the kingmaker in forming a coalition after Tuesday.

Polls published on Friday – the last allowed before election day – showed Likud with 25 to 27 seats, just ahead of Kadima, with 23 to 25. Mr Lieberman’s party with 18 or 19, which, if fulfilled in actual voting, would push the once-dominant Labour Party into fourth place.

Most analysts think the rightward shift has resulted from a combination of two factors. One is Hamas’s continued control of Gaza. The other is the stillbirth of the centrist programme under Mr Olmert of withdrawing from settlements and negotiating a peace deal with the moderate Palestinian leadership. This was envisaged at the international Annapolis summit sponsored by President George Bush at the end of 2007.

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Gaza Fight Thunders Across Middle East, Britain, France, Media

January 26, 2009

The guns are silent, or nealy so, in Gaza as Hamas and Israel try to make an agreement and forge a way ahead.

But in many parts of the world, people are choosing sides and discussing who is right, what is justice and how to respond to the Gaza fight.

In the Middle East, leaders in Egypt and Saudi Arabia are telling people to keep an open mind.  But thousands marched in pro-Hamas rallies in Lebanon and other Middle East countries.

In London yesterday, thousands protested the BBC for not showing a video asking for aid contributions for Gazans.  The BBC sid it wanted to stay impartial; but BBC Persian was closed in Iran where the government said it was pro-Israel.

In the media world, any nation seeming to take a side, like the BBC and Sky news, is gaining criticism and scorn.

In France, Jews and Muslims are trying to live together.  But the battle of Gaza has spilled into France….

NPR says, “The recent conflict in Gaza touched nerves in France, which is home to Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim communities. Despite the cease-fire in Gaza, many say the fighting there has done lasting damage to relations between Muslims and Jews in France.”

Go to NPR and hear their broadcast:

Sky News joins BBC in not broadcasting Gaza aid appeal

BBC Insists It Is Not The “Barack Broadcasting Channel”

BBC In Hot Water; Accused Of Not Helping Victims

Obama Picks New World “Winners” and “Losers”

January 24, 2009

The American people gave Barack Obama a mandate to solve the problem.

And the problem is clearly jobs and the economy, a new Pew Research Poll says.

After the economy and jobs, American interest in other more mundane things like global warming, the war against terror and international relations and foreign policy barely makes the poll needle move.

But every nation outside the U.S. is looking to every word and action from President Obama to help them decipher the new direction of the U.S. and much of the world.

[Review & Outlook]

Each New Year in the U.S., dozens of newspapers list what is “out” from the old year and “in” for the New Year.

As the Asian or Lunar New Year is upon us, every nation in the world might feel the need to assess what is “in” or “out” since the President Obama tenure commenced.

China is worried and fear it may be “out.”  China loved George W. Bush as “China friendly” but has already signaled that “Houston, we have a problem.”

Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy F. Geithner’s remarks about China in his Senate confirmation hearings already sent a shock wave through China.

Mark Lander of the New York Times wrote, “A  simple restatement of his boss’s views, Timothy F. Geithner’s assertion that China ‘manipulates’ its currency has complicated a crucial front in President Obama’s efforts to improve America’s relations with the world.”

And China does not see Hillary Clinton as a friend.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, right, shakes hands with former ... 
Chinese President Hu Jintao, right, shakes hands with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, left, as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, center, looks on during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. Carter and Kissinger were in China to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of U.S.-China diplomatic relations which began on Jan 1st, 1979.  China hope relations with the U.S. will get even better, but the nation hated to see George W. Bush leave.(AP Photo/ Elizabeth Dalziel, POOL)

Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev says Moscow is ready to help U.S. efforts in Afghanistan by allowing the Americans to ship cargo intended for coalition forces across Russian territory.

But Medvedev and Putin in Russia are loathe to accept U.S. missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic and fear other U.S. meddlesome activity in Georgia and elsewhere.

Asked about the prospects of the world with a President of the United States Barack Obama, Russin Preident Vladimir Putin said, “I am deeply convinced that the biggest disappointments are born out of big expectations.”

Pakistan is worried that the flow of American money may dry up, as former President Musharraf of Pakistan seemed to indicate when interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN.

But Pakistan is pleased there will be a new U.S. envoy to the region: Richard Holbrooke.

Iran and several “brothers against Zionism” in Hamas, Hezbollah, and among Palestinians and others seem emboldened by President Obama’s promise of a new way forward in the Middle East, stronger diplomatic efforts to resolve all difficulties, and the appointment of George Mitchell as special envoy.

But naturally, this makes for some concern in Tel Aviv, Cairo and other capitals.

Many in Africa and in the human rights arena are delighted to see Barack Obama as President of the United States but also express some longing for President Bush’s work to fight AIDS and the abuse and neglect of refugees.

Will President Obama do more in Somalia or Darfur?

Mush remains unknown…..

President-elect Barack Obama meets with Mexico's President Felipe ... 
President-elect Barack Obama meets with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, January 12, 2009.(Larry Downing/Reuters)

In Mexico: indiscriminate kidnappings. Nearly daily beheadings. Gangs that mock and kill government agents.

This isn’t Iraq or Pakistan. It’s Mexico, which the U.S. government and a growing number of experts say is becoming one of the world’s biggest security risks because of the “drug war.”

But when President-elect Obama, just before his inauguration, met Mexican President Calderon, the discussion was not about drugs or immigration.  The media was told Obama praised Calderon for his work on global warming and energy.

But neither a bad environment nor energy problems are as likely to bring Mexico to its knees — and impact negatively on the United States — as the drug war, according to the U.S. military.

The leadership of every nation on earth is asking, “What does President Obama mean to us?”

Poll: Economy, Jobs Top Americans’ Priorities (Global Warming Last); Obama Solutions?

Pakistan Auditions For “New Start” in U.S. Policy, Funding From President Obama on CNN

Pakistan welcomes appointment of U.S. envoy

 Most World Leaders Encouraged By Obama Time; Putin Ready for Disappointment

Drugs, Crime Make Mexico “Under Sustained Assault”

Islamist insurgents display their weaponry in Mogadishu during a parade in mid-January.


Did Obama set up Mitchell to fail in the Middle East?

January 24, 2009

In naming George Mitchell as special envoy to the Middle East, President Obama unfortunately made statements indicating no departure from the failing policies of previous administrations.
By Mazin Qumsiyeh, Ph.D
Online Journal Contributing Writer

In particular, Obama emphasized Israel’s right to “defend itself,” never once mentioned things like the occupation or international law, attacked Hamas (a duly elected movement that represents a significant portion of the Palestinian people), supported the strangulation of Gaza, demanded no resistance from an occupied people, and supported the Israeli occupiers in their violence that most recently killed over 400 children.

George Mitchell, US President Barack Obama's newly named ... 
George Mitchell, US President Barack Obama’s newly named Special Envoy to the Middle East, stands after the announcement at the State Department in Washington, DC. Obama vowed Thursday to aggressively pursue Middle East peace as for the first time since taking office he laid out his vision for ending the age-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.(AFP/Saul Loeb)

This logic has been tried before, including under the “aggressive diplomacy” of Bill Clinton and has yielded only a strengthening of Hamas, weakening of Fatah, continued Israeli colonization on Palestinian lands, and setting the stage for future conflicts. Further, such an approach is even more untenable now after the setback of the June 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon and the current war on Gaza.

As articulated well by President Jimmy Carter, it is wrong to frame this conflict simply as “democratic Israel” facing “terrorist groups like Hamas” and it is wrong to continue to fund Israeli wars while claiming to be an “honest broker.” It is analogous to describing the struggles in South Africa in the 1980s as “democratic South Africa” facing off against “terrorist groups like the ANC” (actually that was President Reagan’s framing in his first term in office as he supported Apartheid). Yes, some members of the ANC did use terror (including “necklacing” or burning their rivals alive) but that was miniscule compared to the state terrorism and apartheid they faced. The US cannot be an honest broker so long as the US government continues to….

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Meeting of Arab leaders on Gaza ends in discord

January 20, 2009

Arab leaders trying to come up with a plan to rebuild Gaza ended their meeting Tuesday in discord, unable to agree on whether to back Egyptian peace efforts or even set up a joint reconstruction fund for the devastated Palestinian territory.

The deep tensions among rival Arab leaders could affect the fragile cease-fire between Hamas and Israel that ended a three-week Israeli onslaught on the Mediterranean strip. The military campaign to stop militant rocket fire left around 1,300 Palestinians dead, according to Gaza health officials, and material damage estimated at around $2 billion. Thirteen Israelis were also killed.

The violence in Gaza split Arab countries into two camps — one led by Syria and Qatar supporting Hamas hard-liners who rule the territory, and another led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia hoping to lure the Palestinian militant group toward more moderation.

The two-day gathering of Arab leaders in Kuwait that ended Tuesday was expected to announce a fund to rebuild Gaza and a unified statement about how to end the crisis there.

Instead, pledges came in vague and without figures, along with criticism for Israel and threats to hold it accountable for what leaders called “war crimes” in Gaza.

Saudi Arabia was the only Arab country to commit at the opening of the gathering to a $1 billion contribution for rebuilding efforts, and Kuwait’s emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, said the reconstruction should be an “international collective effort.”

By DIANA ELIAS, Associated Press Writer

President Hosni Mubarak, of Egypt, King Abdullah  of Saudi Arabia, ... 
President Hosni Mubarak, of Egypt, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Sabah Al Sabah, Amir of Kuwait and Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Amir of Qatar, from left, walk in to the Arab Economic Summit at the Bayan Palace in Kuwait, Monday, Jan. 19, 2009. The Saudi king said an Arab initiative offering peace with Israel will not remain on the table forever. King Abdullah says Israel has to understand that the choice between war and peace will not always stay open.(AP Photo/Ameeri Diwan)

It remains to be seen when the money will be paid and if it will be delivered to Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers or to the rival Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

“An international effort is a million times better,” said Nabil al-Fadhl, columnist for Kuwait’s Al-Watan newspaper. “Do you want to give the donations to Hamas, the illegal authority?”

Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007 from its Palestinian rival, the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which now controls only the West Bank. The two groups have been unable to come up with a power-sharing agreement.

Shortly before a final statement was read, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, without naming specific countries, said leaders were unable to reach a consensus.

“Some are entrenched in their positions,” Zebari told state-owned Kuwait Television.

After the summit ended, Arab League chief Amr Moussa acknowledged he was frustrated.

“Of course the Arab situation is still troubled and tense … and we need to exert efforts to close ranks as much as possible,” he said.

Read the rest:

Obama to tap ex-Sen. Mitchell as Mideast envoy

January 20, 2009

Barack Obama plans to name former Sen. George Mitchell as his Middle East envoy in one of his first actions as the new U.S. president, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

Mitchell’s appointment could come as early as Tuesday, the newspaper said, quoting unidentified Obama aides.

Obama, who will be sworn in as the next U.S. president at noon EST, has promised to engage on the Middle East immediately as president and a choice of Mitchell as special envoy was seen as affirming his commitment to early action.

Mitchell, 75, led a commission appointed by former President Bill Clinton to find ways to halt Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Former Senator George Mitchell testifies at a House Oversight ... 
Former Senator George Mitchell testifies at a House Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing on Capitol Hill, January 15, 2008.(Jason Reed/Reuters)

His 2001 report called for Israelis to freeze construction of new settlements and stop shooting at unarmed demonstrators, and called for Palestinians to prevent terrorist attacks and punish those who perpetrate them.

Mitchell is a former Senate majority leader who later led peace negotiations between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, an effort that led to the 1998 Good Friday Accord aimed at stemming the long-standing conflict there.

Obama has declined to comment in detail on the Gaza crisis and other foreign policy issues during the weeks before he takes over from George W. Bush, citing the principle that there should be only one president at a time.

With Israeli troops withdrawing from Gaza after a 22-day offensive and having declared a ceasefire along with Hamas, the new administration may want to move cautiously, allowing the Egyptians and Europeans first to pursue their own initiatives.

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No Doubt Who Wants All Israel Dead

January 15, 2009

Can there be any doubt about who wants Israel gone?

Osama bin Laden wants Israel (and George W. Bush) gone, as he said again in a tape widely released yesterday.

And President Ahmadinejad wants Israel gone, as he has said many times.

Today, Iran’s Ahmadinejad told Al-Manar television, owned by the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah, “Arabs can do many things on the political level — they can cut off all open and secret contacts” with Israel, “they can use their political capabilities to pressure the backers of the Zionist entity by severing relations with them. And they can make use of their economic wealth,” Ahmadinejad said.

Ahmadinejad has also called for all nations to stop oil exports to Israel and those nations that support Israel.

Across the Muslim and Arab world, huge anti-Israel protests have pressured moderate leaders not to support Israel and the United States.

 Bin Laden urges jihad against Israel

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

From The Associated Press:

Iran’s president urged Arab leaders Wednesday to cut all contacts with Israel and use their political and economic influence to pressure the Israelis to halt their offensive in Gaza.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Al-Manar television, owned by the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah, that the Arabs should also pressure Israel’s Western backers to stop the fighting, which Palestinian health officials say has killed more than 1,000 people in the Gaza Strip.

“Arabs can do many things on the political level — they can cut off all open and secret contacts” with Israel, “they can use their political capabilities to pressure the backers of the Zionist entity by severing relations with them. And they can make use of their economic wealth,” Ahmadinejad said.

Israel says it launched the offensive Dec. 27 to stop rocket fire against southern Israeli towns by Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007. Iran is Hamas’ main backer, providing political and financial support. Iran denies sending Hamas weapons.

Ahmadinejad dismissed allegations that Iran is urging Hamas to reject Egyptian diplomatic efforts to end the fighting but demanded that Egypt open the border crossings with the Gaza Strip.

He said Arab governments should exert pressure “on the protectors of the Zionist entity” rather than “putting pressure on Hamas.”

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This is an undated file  photo of al Qaida leader  Osama bin ... 
This is an undated file photo of al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, in Afghanistan. Bin Laden has issued a new audiotape urging Muslims to launch a jihad, or holy war, to stop the Israeli offensive in Gaza. The authenticity of the tape cannot be independently confirmed.(AP Photo)

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

January 14, 2009

“Your action is brutal and you don’t realize how much damage this is causing you in the world. This is not only short term. It’s damage for years. Is this the Israel you want to be?”

That quote is from an Ambassador to Israel from a nation in Europe.

The blood letting in Gaza has been horrific to watch.  And anti-Israel groups across the globe have responded with massive protests that have highlighted the Israeli brutality and apparent wanton killing of civilians and children.

And Hamas has been calling the shots: keeping Israel at its deadly work for days by lobbing one rocket at a time into Israel.

Most Hamas rockets landed harmlessly in Israel.

But the Lion was provoked and felt justified in continuing the carnage of the Palestinian people.

Now Hamas continues to control the game.  It is Hamas who has world opinion on its side and can decide when and how to end the conflict for the most part….

Unless Israel kills Hamas off, as Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu suggests.

But this will mean more days of bloodshed and ugly media reports.

Isreal, many will say, has lost this media war — just as many claimed Israel lost the fight against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

It seems now that Hamas will survive, while Iran and others in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Pakistan and elsewhere will be emboldened.

And the new President-elect in Washington DC has his first lesson in Israeli relations.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Gaza Operation Caused Long Term Harm To Israel’s Reputation

 Unable To Stop Hamas Arms, Some Israelis Say “End Hamas”
Red Cross says Gaza humanitarian situation ’shocking’

Gaza Death Toll Over 1,000

“The effect of war is more dangerous than war… sowing seeds of extremism and terror around the region,” Syrian President Assad said in an exclusive BBC interview.

Time Magazine reported on the media implications of Gaza:
“…the press has once again found itself caught in a different kind of cross fire: the propaganda battle, across all media platforms, between Israel and Hamas (and the supporters of each) for international sympathy. ”,859

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.

 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.
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.
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.
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.
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

 Why Israel Can’t Make Peace With Hamas

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



Jerusalem Post:

Iran takes advantage of Gaza crisis

January 8, 2009

Iran’s official media paint a picture of a country in ferment, outraged by the Israeli attack on Gaza.

There are daily reports of demonstrations across the country by students and members of the Basij – the militia arm of the Revolutionary Guards.

Iranian MPs have volunteered to travel to Gaza to fight alongside Hamas.

One group of students occupied part of one of the British embassy compounds, unfurling pro-Palestinian banners.

Another group staged a sit-in at one of Tehran’s airports, waiting, perhaps slightly optimistically, for a flight to the Gaza Strip.

Politicians and religious leaders have lined up to condemn Israel.

The parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, said Israel’s actions were worse than the Nazis during World War II.

The United States and Britain receive daily tirades, as do Arab countries, accused of not going to the aid of the Palestinians.


Anti-Gaza conflict demonstration in Tehran - 2/1/2009

Iran is one of the strongest supporters of Hamas

The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman has said Iran’s hospitals are ready to care for Palestinian wounded.

It all fits in with the pattern of vehement anti-Zionism that has been one of the defining features of the Islamic Republic for 30 years.

Pressure on Israel

But even as Hamas comes under intense pressure from Israeli forces, the Iranian government’s response so far has been carefully calibrated.

Iran is one of the strongest supporters of Hamas.

It is regularly accused by Israel of providing the group with arms, training, and money, something Tehran never admits to, but makes little effort to deny.

But until now there has been little evidence of pressure from Tehran on its Lebanese allies, Hezbollah, to break the ceasefire on Israel’s northern border.

Read the rest from the BBC: