Archive for the ‘militants’ Category

Suicide Volunteers May Still Go From Iran To Assist Hamas In Gaza

January 11, 2009

Iranian officials on Saturday strongly disputed media reports that Iran‘s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini has banned volunteers from leaving the country to carry out suicide bombings against Israel and stressed that the supreme leader meant only that practical obstacles remained for such attackers to get to Gaza.

The officials said The Associated Press misinterpreted Khamenei‘s comments when he said Thursday that “our hands are tied in this arena.” The AP also quoted Khamenei as saying that Iran would assist the militant group Hamas, which is fighting Israel, in other ways.

The Iranian officials said Khamenei’s words should not have been interpreted as a ban on such volunteers, but meant that any Iranians would have great practical difficulty in reaching Gaza because of Israel’s offensive. The report was used by some Arab television stations.

An Iranian hardliner wears a headband reading "Martyrdom" ... 
An Iranian hardliner wears a headband reading “Martyrdom” as he stands in front of a picture of Al-Aqsa mosque during a rally in Tehran to condemn the Israeli attacks on Gaza, December 30, 2008.REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN)

Last week, hardline Iranian student groups had asked the government to authorize volunteers to carry out suicide bombings in Israel in support of Hamas. The students began signing up after Khamenei issued a religious decree on Dec. 28 saying anyone killed while defending Palestinians in Gaza against Israeli attacks would be considered a martyr.

Volunteer suicide groups have made similar requests in the past and the government never responded to their calls.

The student groups claim that more than 70,000 people throughout Iran have registered as volunteer suicide bombers since Israel launched its assault against Hamas-ruled Gaza on Dec. 27.

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, which has killed more than 700 Palestinians, has outraged many in Iran and the Arab world.

Israel says it launched the offensive to get Hamas from shooting rockets into southern Israel. Thirteen Israelis have died since the offensive began.

— Associated Press

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

Pakistan is World Leader in Anti-Terror Fight — Musharraf

January 10, 2009

Pakistan has done more than any other nation in the global war against terrorism, former President Pervez Musharraf said, in defense of his country’s response to the attacks in Mumbai.

“Pakistan has lost a large number of security personnel and civilians in the fight against terrorism,” Musharraf said today in a televised interview from Islamabad. “The world community, including India and Pakistan, must fight the root of extremism and terrorism.”

By Farhan Sharif
Bloomberg

Ties between India and Pakistan have deteriorated since the Nov. 26-29 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that left 164 people dead. India and the U.S. have pressed for a thorough investigation of the attacks, and the government in Islamabad has confirmed that the surviving gunman is a Pakistani national.

Indian authorities say Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the only one of 10 gunmen to survive the assault in Mumbai, told interrogators the attacks were planned and carried out by the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Until three days ago, Pakistan said there was no proof its nationals were involved.

Musharraf, an army general who seized power in a 1999 coup, turned Pakistan into an ally of the U.S. in its war against terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks. He quit as president in August to avoid impeachment by a civilian coalition government elected in February.

The Mumbai attacks interrupted the five-year peace process between the two South Asian nations, which have fought three wars since independence in 1947.

Indian Allegations

“I regret that all the developments on both sides for dialogue, peace and coordination built in the past over many years were washed out by one terror incident, which the people of both sides condemn,” Musharraf said, referring to the mounting tension between the two neighbors.

Pakistan has rejected Indian allegations the attackers received the support of official agencies in Pakistan and said such accusations could raise tensions. India is examining all options to stop border infiltration and prevent terrorist attacks, Defense Minister A.K. Antony said on Jan. 7.

“Pakistan’s forces and people have all the ability to defend the country,” Musharraf said.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601080&sid=asH0IVWuaIos

Gaza Cease-Fire: Bridging A Chasm; Is Hamas Ready To Deal?

January 6, 2009

How can men like Britain’s Tony Blair and France’s President Sarkozy possibly bridge the divide between Hamas and Israel and broker a cease fire?

Sarkozy was told by Prime Minister Olmert in Israel that “Sometimes the need to find a compromise in the UN comes at Israel’s expense.”

In Syria, Bashar Assad, did not respond to Sarkozy’s call to intercede with Hamas, instead slamming the Israeli assault on the coastal strip as a “war crime” and an “aggression” that Israel must halt.

In Iran, President Ahmadinejad doesn’t even believe the Holocaust really happened, has spoken about wiping Israel away, is working on a nuclear program and he doesn’t even recognize the Israel as a state, calling it “the Zionist regime.”

Tony Blair seems to understand that Israel has to get something from Hamas in order to even seriously consider a cease fire.
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“If there is strong action on that front, so that Israel feels it has achieved something — namely the end of the smuggling of weapons and finance to Hamas — then I think it is possible to resolve this reasonably quickly,” Blair told CNN.

“If that doesn’t happen, if we’re not in that position, then obviously it’s going to go on.”

Late Tuesday word came that Hamas just might be ready to make a deal.

“Hamas is ready to agree to peace if the Israeli army will stop military operations and withdraw from Gaza, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad told CNN Tuesday,” said a CNN report.
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“They are ready (to make a deal),” Al-Assad told CNN’s Cal Perry in an exclusive interview. “They were ready, they are ready. Today, the factors have changed so the requirement will change at the same time.

Related from CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast
/01/06/israel.gaza.diplomacy/index.html

Gaza: Sarkozy Seeks Help In Syria; Told Israel is “War Criminal”

January 6, 2009

French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Syria on Tuesday to exert pressure on its ally Hamas to help end the fighting in the Gaza Strip between the militant Palestinian group and Israeli forces.

But his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad, did not respond to Sarkozy’s call to intercede with Hamas, instead slamming the Israeli assault on the coastal strip as a “war crime” and an “aggression” that Israel must halt.

By ALBERT AJI, Assocaited Press Writer

Sarkozy’s visit to the Syrian capital is part of a whirlwind Mideast tour amid European diplomatic efforts….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090106/ap_on_re_mi_ea
/ml_mideast_diplomacy;_ylt=AuU11TL1q2x5Q
P3mswVx8ANvaA8F

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) and his French counterpart ... 
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad (R) and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy hold a news conference after a meeting in Damascus January 6, 2009. Sarkozy asked Syria on Tuesday to help convince Hamas to cooperate in international efforts to end the Israeli assault in the Gaza Strip.REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri (SYRIA)

Related:
Israel Sees Existential Fight: Enemies, Uncertainty All Around
.
 Gaza: France’s Sarkozy Not Helping

Understanding Israel: Necessary Step in Solving Middle East Violence?

Understanding Israel: Necessary Step in Solving Middle East Violence?

January 6, 2009

The best participants in the international scene understand the individual sensitivities and nuances in the minds of others.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is one of those international players that “gets it.”

He recently told Charlie Rose on PBS a story about understaning Russia and Russians.

Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev, Gates said, was embarrassed in Geneva in 1955 that President Dwight D. Eisenhower‘s plane was bigger than his.

“I mean, this is pretty deep-seated stuff, and so trying to avoid touching on one of Russia’s insecurities is almost impossible,” Gates concluded.

So it is with Israel.

Maybe the Holocaust left a lasting impression upon all Israelis that life, even in a seemingly secure world, can change in a moment.

And maybe the fact that Israel is surrounded by a hostile Arab community  plays heavily upon the Israeli psyche.

In Iran, President Ahmadinejad doesn’t even believe the Holocaust really happened, has spoken about wiping Israel away, is working on a nuclear program and he doesn’t even recognize the Israel as a state, calling it “the Zionist regime.”

So, when outsiders hustle into Israel to offer cease-fires, peace and security, there might be a tad of doubt.

So it was today when French President Sarkozy tried to convince Israel’s prime Minister Olmert that a cease-fire demanded by the United States would ge a really good thing.

Sarkozoy thought a U.S. Cease fire might be peachy.

Olmert: not.

Today Olmert reminded Sarkozy that “Sometimes the need to find a compromise in the UN comes at Israel’s expense.”

What Olmert was thinking we do not know.  But you can figure he was thinking: “We here in Israel are surrounded by people who want us all dead, and you Europeans and even the U.N has never been much of a help.”

By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert attends a weekly cabinet ... 
Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has some understandable doubt that the EU, UN and others will do the right thing for Israel…..REUTERS/Gali Tibbon/Pool (JERUSALEM)

Related:
Israel Sees Existential Fight: Enemies, Uncertainty All Around
.
 Gaza: France’s Sarkozy Not Helping

Gates on Russians:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content
/article/2009/01/04/AR2009010401503.html

Iran Claims 70,000 Volunteer to Fight Israel

January 6, 2009

More than 70,000 Iranian students have volunteered to carry out suicide bombings against Israel, Iran’s state news agency reported Monday, but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has not responded to their request for permission.

Volunteer suicide groups have made similar requests in the past and the government never responded, giving the campaigns more of the feel of propaganda.

According to the official IRNA news agency, hardline student leader Esmaeil Ahmadi said the students want to fight Israel in support of Hamas, Gaza’s Islamic militant rulers.

Related:
Iran Behind Hamas, Hezbollah, Key Israelis, Others Say

Read the rest:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,293
3,476206,00.html

An Iranian hardliner wears a headband reading "Martyrdom" ... 
An Iranian hardliner wears a headband reading “Martyrdom” as he stands in front of a picture of Al-Aqsa mosque during a rally in Tehran to condemn the Israeli attacks on Gaza, December 30, 2008.REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN)

Pakistan Taliban Militants Demand Women Marry Them Or “Face Dire Consequences”

January 2, 2009

On the heels of their crusade against girls going to schools, the Taliban have now issued new dictum in the areas under their sway asking parents of the grown up daughters to marry them to militants or “face dire consequences”.

From The Times of India

This new force-marriage campaign is being run in most of the areas in the Pakistan’s troubled NWFP through regular announcements made in mosques to congregations.

Such instances have come to light recently through some of the affected women daring to go to authorities for justice rather than meekly surrender to the militants’ dictates.

Salma, who teaches in a primary school in Peshawar, told the Dawn newspaper that Taliban have told families to declare in mosques if they have unmarried girls so that their hand could be given in marriage, most probably to militants.

If they did not do so, the girls would be forcibly married off, the newspaper quoted the 30-year-old widow as saying.

She also said the Taliban in the Swat valley of NWFP have threatened women with dire punishment, if they are found outside their homes without identity cards and a male relative accompanying them.

Read the rest:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/World/Gi
rls_to_marry_militants_orders_Taliban/artic
leshow/3926460.cms

Israel: Ground Attack Tonight?

January 2, 2009

Israel is launching a ground attack into Gaza tonight (January 2-3, 2009) according to an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) representative.

International voices have been calling for a cease-fire by Israel but Hamas has been launching and continues to fire rockets into Israel, which is provoking the Israeli leadership to launch the attack, we are told.

The aircraft attacks by Israel into Gaza continued well past sunset tonight for the first time since the air campaign began.
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U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday a “durable and sustainable” cease-fire was needed to end the violence.

“We are working toward a cease-fire that would not allow a re-establishment of the status quo,” she said after meeting with President Bush at the White House.

The Bush-Rice meeting at the White House could have been as a result of Israel telling its key ally that the ground attack would commence soon….

Israeli soldiers stand on tanks at a staging area near Israel's ... 
Israeli soldiers stand on tanks at a staging area near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008. Israeli aircraft kept up a relentless string of assaults on Hamas-ruled Gaza on Tuesday, smashing a government complex, security installations and the home of a top militant commander as thousands of Israeli ground troops, backed by tanks and artillery, massed along the border, waiting for a signal to attack.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Despite its use of precision weapons, Israel has been urged to further reduce civilian injuries and deaths inside Gaza.

A United Nations agency said the civilian death toll in Gaza was over 25 percent of the total killed in the violence. A leading Palestinian human rights group put it at 40 percent.

Israel made a big show during the last few days of allowing humanitarian supplies into Gaza and removing neutral civilians from Gaza….
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Gaza is now a disaster area, with sewage sytems opened and the risk of disease on the rise.

CNN reported that Robert Serry, the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said during a video news conference that much of Gaza’s infrastructure has been destroyed.

“Protection of civilians, the fabric of Gaza, the future of the peace process and regional stability — all are trapped between the irresponsibility of Hamas rocket attacks and the excessiveness of Israel’s response,” he said from Jerusalem.

Related:
 Gaza: Israel’s Nuclear Site Within Hamas Rocket Range? Civilians Flee

 “Making a Lot of Martyrs”: Where’s Israel’s Ground Assault? Are Objectives Clear?

CNN:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090102/t
s_nm/us_palestinians_israel

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD
/meast/01/02/israel.gaza/index.html

AP:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090102/a
p_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_mideast

Israeli soldiers stand on their tanks in a deployment area near ... 
Israeli soldiers stand on their tanks in a deployment area near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip. Israel has thousands of troops massed for a ground offensive on Gaza that would aim to deal a hammer blow to Hamas and re-establish Israel’s military credentials with its other foes, experts said.(AFP/Menahem Kahana)

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By The Times (UK)

Israel is poised to launch a major ground offensive into Gaza tonight after allowing hundreds of foreigners living in the devastated territory to evacuate.

After a week of air strikes that have killed at least 420 Palestinians and left scores of buildings in rubble, the Israeli army was set to fling hundreds of troops and tanks into a blitz to stamp out Hamas’s military wing, The Times understands.

Despite the looming onslaught, more Hamas rockets – which have so far killed four Israelis – were fired into southern Israel today.

The Islamist group vowed that its attacks, which have lasted for years and which finally provoked the massive Israeli campaign, would not stop.

Read the rest:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol
/news/world/middle_east/article
5434559.ece

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Egypt has urged Israel against launching a ground offensive against the Gaza Strip and is in contact with Hamas to seek an end to the week- long onslaught of the territory, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit has sent a message to his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni urging the Jewish state “to abstain from launching ground operations (into Gaza),” a statement said.

AFP

The message sent through the Egyptian ambassador to Tel Aviv also asked that Israel put an immediate end to its military operations against the territory, it added.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said in the statement that Egypt was in talks with leaders of the  Hamas movement which control Gaza about ” ceasefire proposals.”

Israel has called up reserves for an expected ground incursion into Gaza, which analysts say would sharply increase casualties among both Palestinians and Israelis.

What Iran stands to gain from conflict over Gaza

January 1, 2009

Students storm the British Embassy residence compound in Tehran, Iran, ripping down the Union Jack and hoisting the Palestinian flag, while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proposes to try Israeli leaders in absentia.

An Iranian religious organization signs up volunteers for suicide operations in the Gaza Strip, and an Iranian general suggests an Islamic military response to the five-day Israeli offensive against Hamas.

With bellicose rhetoric, the Islamic Republic of Iran has taken the lead in opposing the ongoing Israeli military operation in Gaza. The vociferous public displays, analysts say, are aimed primarily at hard-core government supporters in Iran whom officials hope to energize before presidential elections in June.

But the high-profile maneuvers are a double-edged sword, because they also reinforce perceptions in Israel, the United States and large parts of the Arab world of links between Iran and Hamas, which took control of Gaza in mid-2007.

Israeli leaders and their U.S. allies have framed the fight against Hamas as one against an Iranian proxy firing Iranian-supplied rockets deeper inside the Jewish state. In a CBS interview Tuesday, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Hamas Iran’s “terrorist base” next to Israel.

But Iran’s main ally in the region — the Shiite militia Hezbollah — has all but ruled out military intervention on behalf of Hamas, while Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has carefully condoned “defending” Gazans without calling for killing Israelis.

Even the hair-raising idea of a military response was delivered not by a ranking officer in charge of Iran’s land, sea or air forces, but by the general technically in charge of annual ceremonies commemorating those who fought and died in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

“They are mobilizing their power base to set the tone for the main issues of the presidential campaign,” said researcher Shahram Kholdi, at the University of Manchester, England.

“One of the main issues is relations with the United States” and by extension Israel, he said. “They are trying to warn the reformers and whoever might challenge Ahmadinejad, ‘We are still able to sabotage whatever you might be doing, which includes foreign policy.’ ”

In taking this tack, Iran also can appeal to hard-line Islamists in rival Arab nations.

“Iran is trying to be the leader of the Islamic world,” said Meir Javedanfar, a Jerusalem-based Iran expert. “Khamenei believes that the majority of the Islamic world is angry, and he is right in his opinion.”

Meanwhile, Iran has intensified repression against its own moderate and reformist opponents. Authorities Wednesday shut down the daily newspaper Kargozaran, which is often critical of Ahmadinejad and close to rival Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani…..

Read the rest:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nation
world/2008579429_iran01.html?syndication=rss