Archive for the ‘tunnels’ Category

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.


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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Gaza: Hamas Bombing, Israeli Air Strikes as Obama Envoy Arrives

January 28, 2009

A bomb attack against an Israeli military patrol along the border with the Gaza Strip  killed an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) officer and wounded three others on Tuesday including one who was severely hurt.

The violence started an Israel air attack Tuesday which was followed by more attacks Wednesday.

The Israeli military vowed to respond harshly to any further attacks.

Gaza’s Ramattan news agency reported three airstrikes at the Gaza-Israel border. Israel’s military said it struck tunnels used to smuggle weapons into Gaza at the territory’s southern border.

The actions from both sides — the bombing from Hamas and the air strikes from the IDF — mars the ten day old cease fire and complicates the mission of George Mitchell, President barack Obama’s designated Middle East envoy.

Mitchell is on a trip to the Middle East  now.
Mitchell arrived Tuesday in Cairo, Egypt, where he thanked Egyptian leaders for helping to negotiate the truce.

“It is of critical importance that the cease-fire be extended and consolidated, and we support Egypt’s continuing efforts in that regard,” Mitchell said. “The United States is committed to vigorously pursuing lasting peace and stability in the region. The decision by President Obama to dispatch me to come to this region less that one week after his inauguration is a clear and tangible evidence of this commitment.”

George Mitchell, right, meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama on Monday.

George Mitchell, right, meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama on Monday.

Israel said Hamas was “prominent in the organization accountable for the attack.”

During his eight-day visit, Mitchell plans to meet with leaders in Israel, the West Bank, Jordan and Saudi Arabia before returning to the United States next Tuesday, according to the State Department.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom


The Associated Press reported:

Israel responded swiftly, sending tanks and bulldozers into northern Gaza to plow up the attack site and launching an airstrike that wounded a Hamas militant “who was prominent in the organization accountable for the attack,” according to a military statement. Hamas said the Israeli strike injured one of its men as he rode a motorcycle in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis.

The border violence was the worst since the sides separately declared cease-fires on Jan. 18 to end a three-week Israeli offensive.

Since withdrawing its troops, Israel has threatened to retaliate hard for any violations of the informal truce.

One of its main targets is the network of tunnels used to smuggle arms, money and people into Gaza from Egypt but despite hundreds of strikes during the war smugglers resumed work after the cease-fire.

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Jerusalem Post:


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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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

Obama urges Israel, Hamas to keep peace in Gaza
 Hamas Inflated Civilian Casualty Numbers in Gaza To Gain Sympathy, Support from Media, Iran, Arab World
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
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.
“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

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)


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.
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.

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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:



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

January 14, 2009

“We must end Hamas.”

That from the leader of Israel’s Likud Party, Binyamin Netanyahu.
“We must define the end, not only the means to attaining it, but rather the end,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Israel Radio. “We are in an impossible situation. No country has a million of its citizens under rocket fire.”

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

According to 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.”

“We need effective closure, not words,” he said. “We’ve already had words that were written down and undersigned in Lebanon, but there, too, Hizbullah rearmed itself. Therefore, as opposed to Lebanon, in the Gaza Strip we have the possibility of actualizing the closure; that’s the basic objective.”

Netanyahu’s strong stand underscores the difficulty Israeli leaders are having in defining the “endgame” of the military operation in Gaza called cast Lead.

This report’s quotes come from the Jerusalem Post:

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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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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