Archive for the ‘smuggling’ Category

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.

Rocket From Gaza Hits Israel; Isreal Threatens More Military Action

Jerusalem Post:



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

Rocket From Gaza Hits Israel; Isreal Threatens More Military Action

January 31, 2009

A rocket fired from Gaza landed in Israel on Saturday, the third since both Israel and Hamas declared cease-fires on January 18.

There were no injuries.

Update from Feb 1:
More Rockets Hit Israel, “Disproportionate” Response Threatened

“Hamas was hit like it was never hit before,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel’s Channel 10 TV on Friday. “If we will have to hit Hamas again, we will.”

Both Hamas and Israel are keeping a tense and steady truce, and both sides expressed concern that the fighting may not yet be over.

President Barack Obama’s new Middle East envoy promised a vigorous push for Israel-Palestinian peace, saying Gaza militants must end their weapons smuggling and the territory’s blockaded borders must be pried open if a cease-fire already marred by violence is to take hold.

George Mitchell held  talks with regional leaders this week to determine the next steps the Obama administration would take toward reviving peace negotiations following Israel’s blistering military offensive against Gaza’s Islamic Hamas rulers.


Jerusalem Post:

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.

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US Navy Seeks Arms Bound for Hamas in Gaza

January 25, 2009

AN American naval taskforce in the Gulf of Aden has been ordered to hunt for suspicious Iranian arms ships heading for the Red Sea as Tehran seeks to re-equip Hamas, its Islamist ally in Gaza.

According to US diplomatic sources, Combined Task Force 151, which is countering pirates in the Gulf of Aden, has been instructed to track Iranian arms shipments.

Last week the USS San Antonio, an amphibious transport dockship that serves as the command and control centre for the taskforce, boarded the former Russian cargo vessel Monchegorsk, which is registered in Limassol and flying a Cypriot flag.

The ship docked at an Egyptian Red Sea port for a detailed search during which, according to unconfirmed reports, weapons were found.

LPD-17 Class.jpg
Above: USS San Antonio

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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

Gaza: “Winning The Fighting, Losing What We Wanted”? Day 21

January 16, 2009

Israel has overpowered Hamas.  Tanks and trained troops have out musled and out battled  the Palestinian fighters who were lobbing a few rockets a day into Israel.

Most of those Hamas rockets landed without killing anyone.

Yet Israel has inflicted a staggering toll, over 1,000 dead, among the civilian population of Gaza, severely damaged its own Israeli national reputation, and hardened many anti-Israel minds further to pray for the destruction of Isreal.

“Are we are winning the fighting, but losing what we wanted?” one Israeli wondered aloud  to us.

Witnesses to the destruction of Gaza couldn’t say what Hamas has gained, exactly. 

Gaza is in ruins.

Haaretz said Friday, “Israel still has some reservations regarding an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, despite Cairo’s apparent promise to crack down on arms smuggling to Gaza – one of Israel’s key demands – and Hamas’ willingness to accept the offer.”
Day 21, in Gaza;  Israel unleashed some 50 airstrikes in what seems like the final act in the battle — but not the war.

As cease fire deatails were worked out to Israel’s satisfaction Friday

Yesterday both Israel and Hamas seemd to agree in principle to an Egyptian brokered cease fire.

And Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni departed for the U.S. in an effort to find technical means to assure that Gaza and Hamas are not re-armed in the future.

Israel wants from the U.S. an agreement which would intensify intelligence cooperation to block smuggling routes before the weapons make it to tunnels linking the Sinai Peninsula to the Strip, the Jerusalem Post said.

Coupled with Egyptian commitments to step up their own efforts along the border together with international assistance, the agreement would be part of a mechanism Israel has demanded as part of a cease-fire.

High-level Israeli envoy Amos Gilad discussed that cease-fire plan in Cairo Thursday with Egyptian officials. After he consulted with Israeli leaders on returning to Jerusalem, they ordered him back to Cairo Friday for further talks, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert‘s office said.

Israel said the discussions could go on “for a day or two” to work out details of the cease fire.  But U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon urged both sides to stop fighting immediately.

The fighting continued Friday with additional civilian casualties.

The Egyptian truce proposal, of which newspaper such as Haaretz have obtained, contains three clauses.

First, Israel and the Palestinians will agree to an immediate, time-limited cease-fire, during which the border crossings will be opened for humanitarian aid and Egypt will lead negotiations on a long-term truce.

Second, the long-term truce must include provisions on both border security and an end to the blockade of Gaza.

Third, Fatah and Hamas should resume reconciliation talks.

Egyptian officials told Haaretz they believe the initial, short-term truce should last a few months, to allow plenty of time for negotiations on the long-term cease-fire.

However, the proposal does not require Israel to withdraw from Gaza during the initial truce, and Hamas has said it will not accept the proposal unless that omission is corrected.

Israeli Foreign Ministe Tzipi Livni meets with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the U.S. State Department at 11 AM Friday.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Iran president says Israeli leaders face ‘doomed end’
War in Gaza: No one left in the ruins to hear the thunder of Israel’s guns
Israel, Hamas Both Agree “In Principle” To Cease Fire
Iran president says Israeli leaders face ‘doomed end’

Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni visits the southern ... 
Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni visits the southern town of Sderot January 12, 2009. Livni headed to Washington late on Thursday to finalize an accord designed to prevent Hamas from rearming, a key Israeli condition for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun


Associated Press:



Israel, Hamas Wage “Urban War” in Gaza City, Day 20

January 15, 2009

Thousands of Gazans are fleeting their homes as the Israeli Army works to root out Hamas militants in Gaza City.

The military action set the United Nations office structure ablaze today in Gaza City

Fighting is now in the city’s residential neighborhoods on Day 20, Thurswday, January 15, 2009.

In Gaza, the dead now number over 1,000.

Smoke rises during an Israeli military operation in Gaza as ... 
Smoke rises during an Israeli military operation in Gaza as Israeli tanks are seen near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Thursday Jan. 15, 2009. Israeli tanks shelled downtown Gaza City on Thursday and ground troops thrust deep into a crowded neighborhood for the first time, sending terrified residents fleeing for cover and ratcheting up the pressure on Gaza’s Hamas rulers to accept a proposed cease-fire to end a devastating Israeli offensive.(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Israel Air Force planes struck some 70 targets overnight, including weapons positions, rocket squads and a mosque in southern Gaza that it said served as an arsenal, the military said.

President Assad of Syria asked both sides to agree immediately to a cease fire and then work out their cross border smuggling issues later.

Israel insist on a regime to prohibit the re-arming of Hamas through the Gazan borders.

But Syria is not trusted in Israel where it is often seen as an aid to Iran and militant anti-Israeli forces like Hamas and Hezbollah.

Yesterday, Hamas seemed on the verge of agreement of an international 10 day cease fire brokered in Cairo, Egypt.

Israel was to again consider the cease fire idea today.

In Israel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is known to favor a cease fire while Prime Minister Olmert is resisting.

Haaretz reported that the disagreement is causing trouble in the Israeli war cabinet.
Following press reports Wednesday that Barak wanted to see a humanitarian cease-fire, sources close to Olmert were quoted as saying that Hamas saw and heard what was going on in Israel and “draws encouragement” from this, concluding that Israel was searching for a way out of the military operation.

“The irresponsibility of ministers – regardless of how senior they are – in leading private initiatives is unfortunate,” one of these officials said.

The official said that the publication of these plans “gives encouragement to Hamas, gives a shot in the arm to their backers, and has an immediate effect of the fate of a million Israelis in the South and thousands of IDF soldiers carrying out operations inside Gaza.”

But Arab nations trying to assist in the cease fire process were in disagreement how how and when to hold an Arab summit.

 Hamas spokesman Mohammed Nizal said Wednesday, “Is it possible to get into the third week of this Zionist aggression against Gaza and the Arabs can’t hold a summit for Gaza and to stop this aggression?

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Smoke billows from Gaza on Thursday as fighting continued to rage.

Smoke billows from Gaza on Thursday as fighting continued to rage.


Jerusalem Post:


The Associated Press reported:

Witnesses say Israeli ground troops are advancing into crowded residential areas of Gaza City and thousands of terrified residents are fleeing their homes.

Israeli troops backed by helicopter gunships, tanks and heavy guns thrust deeper into the city than ever before Thursday to seek Hamas fighters, they said.

It wasn’t clear whether this would be a brief foray or signal a new phase in Israel‘s devastating offensive against Gaza’s Islamic Hamas rulers.

Israel has balked at launching all-out urban warfare in Gaza City, where Hamas militants are more familiar with the lay of the land and Israeli casualties would be liable to spiral.

Israel launched the offensive on Dec. 27 to stop militant rocket fire on southern Israel from Gaza.

Hamas remains defiant despite pounding

January 13, 2009

The Gaza militants embrace ‘heroic role’ as bombardment continues.

By Ilene Prusher
The Christian Science Monitor

Israeli forces continued to bombard the homes of Hamas leaders on Monday as the war in the Gaza Strip entered its 17th day. So far Israel says that at least 300 militants are among the more than 900 Palestinians killed.

But Hamas insists that it has not been significantly hurt – tactically speaking – by the onslaught. Government offices and tunnels have been destroyed. Its leaders are pinned down, unable to move freely or show their faces in public or even communicate on cellphones that can be tracked by the Israeli army. Israel recently killed Amir Mansi, commander of Hamas’s Gaza rocket division, and its stream of Qassams has dropped 50 percent since the assault began. But it is still able to launch rockets at Israel.

Has Israel decimated the Hamas leadership – and eroded its support among Gazans? Are its senior political chiefs based in Syria calling the shots and prolonging a battle that war-weary Gazans would increasingly like to see ended?

Inside Gaza, relief is needed immediately; rebuilding could take five years. Hamas in Gaza sent a three-man delegation to Cairo to work on reaching a deal. But Hamas leaders from abroad have taken a harder line, indicating that it would rather fight until the last man than agree to a cease-fire that doesn’t meet its demands.

Khaled Mashaal, the Syria-based political leader of Hamas and the man who holds more sway than any of the Hamas leadership in Gaza, says that Hamas will only agree to a truce if all border crossings are open. He rejects any new measures to prevent the smuggling of additional weapons into Gaza.

Mr. Mashaal said Monday that Hamas won’t accept “any discussion” about restricting its possession of weapons, adding, “No one has the right to limit the right of our people to look for a rifle to defend ourselves.”

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Israel: “This is not a conflict that will end with an agreement”

January 11, 2009

Foreign Minister Tzip Livni said Sunday that Israel’s war with Hamas is not a one-time conflict that will end with an agreement.

Speaking during a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Jerusalem, Livni said that, “Hamas regrets the day they decided to intensify the rocket fire on Israel under the assumption that we would show restraint. We need to understand that on the day after [Operation Cast Lead] we must prevent Hamas from rearming, because we cannot allow a scenario in which Hamas understands that it cannot fire, but allows itself to stock up on weapons. The German foreign secretary’s meeting in Egypt was important. The fact that we are engaged in dialogue over the issue of Egyptian sovereignty that can help prevent smuggling, a process that we are now engaged in together, and the international understanding now is that Israel too has the right to defend itself and that a situation in which there a breach in the border cannot be allowed.”

“We are in midst of a struggle against terrorism, and it is not a one-time conflict. This is not a conflict that will end with an agreement….

Read the rest from Haaretz:

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.

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