Archive for the ‘Rockets’ Category

Iran Boasts of Nuclear, Space Progress Despite Sanctions

February 7, 2009

Iran has achieved breakthroughs in nuclear and space technology despite international sanctions against it, the country’s top leader said Saturday.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told military commanders that instead of weakening Iran, sanctions by the U.S., the U.N. and others have forced it to become more self-reliant, leading to greater strides by Iranian scientists and to technological advancements unseen in the country’s history.

Iranian leaders often boast of technological progress as they seek to assure their people that sanctions and isolation have not hurt the country, even as unemployment and inflation increase.

Most recently, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Tuesday the launch of Iran’s first domestically produced satellite. He faces a tough re-election battle this year, not least because of the economic woes brought on by falling oil prices and sanctions.

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer

The United States imposed sanctions against Iran soon after its 1979 Islamic revolution, which toppled the U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and brought hard-line clerics to power. The sanctions banned the export of any dual-use technology, including nuclear, space and missile equipment. Over the years, Washington has tightened sanctions against any investment in Iran.

Since 2006, Iran has also been under U.N. Security Council sanctions, applied to its nuclear and missile industries, for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants or the material for atomic bombs.

The United States and some of its allies have accused Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charge, saying its nuclear program is geared towards generating electricity, not weapons production.

Vice President Joe Biden told a security conference in Germany that the U.S. was willing to talk to Iran but would act to isolate and pressure the country if it does not scrap parts of its nuclear program.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009020
7/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iran_sanctions_1

Gaza: More Rockets Hit Israel; Gazans Warned of Attack in Response

February 3, 2009

After a rocket attack from Gaza into the Israeli city of Ashkelon on Tuesday morning, Israel warned Gazans that an air stike would come soon.

Knowing that Israel has promised a disproportionate response to Hamas rockets, the rockets continue to come from Gaza.

And Hamas is shooting them.

Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said “that if there is rocket fire at southerners, there will be a response that will essentially be disproportionate.”

After Tuesday’s rocket attack, recorded messages, in Arabic, said people who work in tunnels, live near them or are “giving logistical help to terrorists” should evacuate the area immediately, residents said.

On Sunday, the IAF launched strikes against Hamas installations and smuggling tunnels throughout Gaza in response to the more than 15 rockets and mortar shells fired at southern Israel by Gaza terrorists throughout the day.

This aerial view shows the power station and industrial zone of Ashkelon, Israel, in March of 2008.

This aerial view shows the power station and industrial zone of Ashkelon, Israel, in March of 2008.

Related:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/m
east/02/03/israel.rocket.attack/in
dex.html

More Rockets Hit Israel, “Disproportionate” Response Threatened

February 1, 2009

Militants in Gaza apparently fired four more rockets into Israel Sunday, shaking the already unsteady cease fire.

Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, “The cabinet’s position from the outset was that if there is rocket fire at southerners, there will be a response that will essentially be disproportionate.”

“Two weeks have passed since Israel’s decision to cease its fire in the Gaza Strip, and [the truce] was declared on two basic conditions: A complete halt in rocket fire and a stop to the smuggling of weapons to terror group through the Philadelphi Corridor,” he continued. “Those were the two conditions for the cease-fire and we knew that there was a considerable chance Hamas would continue with the rocket fire.”

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel's response will be "disproportionate" if rocket attacks continue.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel’s response will be “disproportionate” if rocket attacks continue.

“We won’t return to the rules of the game that terror groups have tried to dictate and we won’t be dragged into a never-ending shooting war,” said the prime minister, stressing that Israel would not allow the rocket attacks to continue.

Israel attacked Hamas in Gaza on December 27 with the stated aim of ending rocket attacks on southern Israel.

More than 1,300 Palestinians died and about 5,400 others were wounded. Thirteen Israelis, including 10 soldiers, were also killed in the fighting.

Related:
Rocket From Gaza Hits Israel; Isreal Threatens More Military Action

Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1233
304649047&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2F
ShowFull

CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD
/meast/02/01/israel.rockets/index.html

AFP:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090
201/wl_afp/mideastconflictgazaolmer
t_20090201084525

Sderot police station
The remnants of hundreds of rockets are held at Sderot police station, Israel

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

January 28, 2009

President Barack Obama’s new Mideast envoy called Wednesday for an end to Hamas weapons smuggling and a reopening of Gaza’s borders, seeking to strengthen the shaky cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants thrown into turmoil by new violence.

Hours before George Mitchell met with Israeli leaders, warplanes pounded Gaza smuggling tunnels in retaliation for a Palestinian bombing on Tuesday that killed an Israeli soldier.

By STEVE WEIZMAN, Associated Press Writer

After talks in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Mitchell said consolidating the cease-fire is “of critical importance.” He said a longer-term truce should be based on “an end to smuggling and reopening of the crossings” into Gaza. Egypt and Israel have kept their borders with Gaza largely closed since Hamas seized control of the territory by force in 2007.

Mitchell’s tour launches the first Mideast foray of the Obama administration. Obama said his envoy would listen to all sides to then craft a way forward with stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. Mitchell said that after finishing his consultations in the region and with Europeans, he will report to Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on his conclusions for the next steps.

“The United States is committed to vigorously pursuing lasting peace and stability in the region,” said Mitchell, who met earlier Wednesday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, the first stop on his Mideast tour.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090128/
ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians

Obama Launching First Diplomatic Mission To Middle East

January 25, 2009

The day Barack Obama became President of the United States, Israeli tanks were rumbling out of Gaza and Palestinians were piled up awaiting burial. Unitid Nations storehouse were in ruins.  Accusations were flying that Israel had used white phosphorus — a substanced banned for use in populated areas by civilized people.   It would be difficult to make the other top priorities of the world scene more important than the festering and violent disputes of the Middle East. Despite Russia-Georgia, North Korea, disagreements with China, Pakistan, troubles in Afghanistan and other disputes, Barack Obama is squarely and rightly facing the Middle East….

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President Barack Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East will come to Israel Wednesday for talks on keeping alive a fragile Gaza cease-fire and reviving Mideast negotiations, an Israeli foreign ministry official said Saturday.

It is the new administration’s first direct move into Mideast peace efforts.

By STEVE WEIZMAN, Associated Press Writer

George J. Mitchell will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and senior Israeli officials, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because Washington has not officially announced the trip.
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George Mitchell, US President Barack Obama's newly named ... 
George Mitchell, US President Barack Obama’s newly named Special Envoy to the Middle East.(AFP/Saul Loeb)

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton introduced Mitchell in his new role Thursday. His appointment is seen as signaling a renewed push under the Obama administration for a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Mitchell will also visit Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at their headquarters in the West Bank, the official said.

The official said Mitchell will discuss restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after Israel’s three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip, and ways to impose an effective arms blockade against the Hamas militants who rule Gaza and have been firing rockets into Israel for years.

The arms embargo and the opening of the blockaded territory’s borders are key to sustaining separate cease-fires by Israel and Hamas.

Clinton-Livni
Tzipi Livni (Left) with Hillary Clinton

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009012
5/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_us

Palestinians Can’t Agree Following Hamas Defeat at Israeli Hands

January 23, 2009

Hamas has claimed victory over Israel in the fighting that ended this week but the paucity of flag waving fighters and supporters raises serious issues about any Hamas glory.

Even the rival Fatah party in Gaza can’t find it appropriate to gloat over the proclaimed “victory” over Israel.

Hamas and Fatah are in disagreement on everything.

Hamas is accusing rival Palestinian faction Fatah of spying for Israel and not strongly enough supporting Hamas in the fight against the “Zionists.”

Fatah says Hamas relied too much on Iran for strategy and arms, irresponsibly goaded Isreal into a war with their rocket attacks on Israel, and botched the defense of the Gazan people.

CNN reported that  some in Fatah are accusing Hamas of carrying out “punishment shootings” against suspects.

“In this war, we arrested many spies and collaborators, and we will stay continuing to catch these spies and put them in jail and in court,” Ehad al-Ghossain, Hamas’ Interior Ministry spokesman, told CNN.

Peace and Freedom

Related:
Obama urges Israel, Hamas to keep peace in Gaza
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 Hamas Inflated Civilian Casualty Numbers in Gaza To Gain Sympathy, Support from Media, Iran, Arab World
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Hamas declares victory in Gaza claiming it lost only 48 fighters

Hamas Says They Still Control Gaza, But BBC Has Doubts

 Iran Shuts BBC Persian After Network Critical of Cowardice Among Hamas
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Israel Failed: Tunnels in Gaza Again Filled With Supplies, Diggers

Israel Failed: Tunnels in Gaza Again Filled With Supplies, Diggers

January 22, 2009

Israel wanted to stop Hamas from sending rockets into Israel.  Israel also wanted to stop the flow of rocket parts and other supplies into Gaza by tunnel.

Israel pounded the tunnels by air for over 20 days.  Israel made an agreement with the U.S. and others to make sure rockets didn’t ever reach Gaza again.

But the tunnels have re-opened.

In the last 24 hours, CBS News, The Jerusalem Post and other news sources are saying the Gaza tunnels are again filled with supplies and more diggers are making repairs and improvments.

The last Israeli troops left Gaza on Tuesday.
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“For the tunnels, nothing will be as it was before,” Livni told public radio. “Things must be clear — Israel reserves the right to react militarily against the tunnels once and for all.

“If we have to act, we will do so, we will exercise our right to legitimate defence, we will not leave our fate … to the Egyptians, nor to the Europeans nor to the Americans,” she said.

During its massive 22-day offensive on Hamas in Gaza, Israel bombed hundreds of tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt border, destroying 150 of them, according to Defence Minister Ehud Barak who on Wednesday issued a warning similar to Livni’s.

“If we are forced to, there will be more attacks,” Barak said on public television.

“During the operation that we have carried out in the Gaza Strip we have destroyed 150 tunnels, including some which were targeted several times,” he said.

The tunnels are used to smuggle supplies and weapons into the coastal strip that Israel has kept sealed to all but basic humanitarian supplies since Hamas seized power in June 2007.

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Related:
Israel Says Tunnels Brought Weapons Into Gaza: U.S. Paid $23 Million In the Deal

A Palestinian boy looks up from the entrance of a smuggling ... 
A Palestinian boy looks up from the entrance of a smuggling tunnel on the Palestinian side of the border between the southern Gaza Strip and Egypt and Rafah in the south of Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009. During its offensive in the Gaza Strip, Israel said it destroyed most of the hundreds of tunnels in repeated bombing runs by Israeli jets. But Wednesday, smuggling was under way again.(AP Photo/Eyad Baba)

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The Jerusalem Post:

As security envoy Amos Gilad prepared to meet Thursday with Egyptian officials to discuss a long-term truce with Hamas, fighting arms smuggling, and lifting the blockade on the Strip, goods were being smuggled into Gaza from Sinai on Wednesday.
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Four days after Operation Cast Lead ended, AP Television News footage showed Palestinian smugglers filling a fuel truck with gas that had come through a tunnel from Egypt.

The footage also showed workers clearing blocked tunnels, and bulldozers carrying out other repairs.

Read the rest:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=12322
92926583&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

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:
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009
/01/17/weekend-opinionator-the-battle-ov
er-the-battle-in-gaza/

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)
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“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)

Related:

The Associated Press reported:
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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:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090118/a
p_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians

Protest in Iran 
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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

Israel Expected To Begin “Unilateral Gaza Cease Fire,” End Fighting Saturday

January 16, 2009

Israel is saying its cabinet will vote on a unilateral cease fire in Gaza tomorrow, Saturday.

Alalysts say the decision may mean that Israel has decided to end the operation in Gaza, “Cast Lead,” without an agreement with Hamas, relying instead on the support of the United States and Egypt.

Most insiders in Israel say Israel will end the fighting unilaterally on Saturday evening, and respond with “certain force” to any Hamas provocation.

Haaretz reported that “A government source emphasized that there has been great progress with Egypt in reaching an agreement on fighting arms smuggling. The deal would require the combined use of technological measures to fight smuggling on the border between Gaza and Egypt, operations against smugglers in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, and the use of international experts to identify smuggling tunnels on the border. ”

Israel also believed that the U.S. offer to prevent the rearming of Hamas merited a trip by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to the U.S. State Department for a meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.  The two inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the prevention of the rearming of Hamas.

Related:
U.S., Israel Sign Agreement Aimed At Preventing Rearmed Gaza, Hamas

“We have what we need not.  Hamas has agreed not to shoot rockets.  And the United States and Egypt have agreed to not allow the rearming of Hamas.  It is not perfect but it is a good outcome,” one senior Israeli told us.

Israel’s decision is being welcomed by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, and others who have been urging an end to the fighting.

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (L) shakes hands with ... 
Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (L) shakes hands with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during their meeting in Tel Aviv January 15, 2009, in this picture released by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO).

The decision to start a cease fire unilaterally would avoid a prolonged and difficult negotiation with Hamas, an organization that has vowed to destroy Israel.

The Jerusalem Post said, “A unilateral decision is likely after Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal rejected Israel’s conditions for a truce and called on all Arab countries to cut ties with the Jewish state during a summit of Arab leaders in Doha, Qatar. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar Assad gave Mashaal their full backing, but significantly, both Egypt and Saudi Arabia boycotted the summit.”

Turkey said today that Israel should not be allowed to return to the U.N., adding another nation to the anti-Israeli faction.
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“How is such a country, which totally ignores and does not implement resolutions of the U.N. Security Council, allowed to enter through the gates of the UN (headquarters)?” Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan said during a meeting at the ruling AK Party’s headquarters in Ankara Friday.
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According to Israeli radio, Cairo will host a truce summit on Sunday with Israeli officials and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expected to attend. Israeli television said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni would attend.

The Israeli “unilateral” vote was set hours after the U.S. agreed to provide assurances on ending weapons smuggling into Gaza as part of a cease-fire, the Associated Press noted.

AFP reported that Russia has called on Iran and Syria to persuade Palestinian Islamist group Hamas to accept a plan pushed by Egypt to end the fighting in Gaza, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.

“We are sending the appropriate signals to Hamas representatives and to those states that have influence on Hamas, meaning above all Iran and Syria,” of the need to accept the Egyptian plan, Lavrov said at a news conference.
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Related:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD
/meast/01/16/israel.gaza/index.html

From the Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?ci
d=1232100163477&pagename=JPost%2
FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Associated Press:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009011
6/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians

Related:
Gaza Cease Fire: Now What?

AFP:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090116/wl_mid
east_afp/mideastconflictgazarussia_200901161
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