Archive for the ‘victory’ Category

Gaza: Both Sides Claim “Victory” But All Looks Destroyed

January 19, 2009

The Parliament building here has been reduced to rubble. The five-story engineering department of the Islamic University is a pile of folded concrete. Police stations, mosques and hundreds of homes have been blown away.

By Ethan Bronner
The New York Times

But now that the battle is over — or has paused, after Hamas agreed Sunday to a one-week cease-fire with Israel — what has been accomplished is unclear. Have three weeks of overpowering war by Israel here weakened Hamas as Israel had hoped, or simply caused acute human suffering? Israel knew it could not destroy every rocket or kill every Hamas militant. Israel said its central aim was deterrence, to make Hamas lose the will to keep shooting at Israel’s cities. Did it succeed?

Israeli officials themselves said Sunday in briefings to the cabinet that even though Hamas institutions had been badly damaged, its militants might well keep shooting rockets just to prove otherwise. The chief of military intelligence, Amos Yadlin, asserted that even Hamas had to figure out how badly it had been harmed.

Most Palestinians are furious at Israel over damage like that in Rafah, in Gaza’s south, but there are signs that Gazans feel such pain that they will rein in Hamas.  Photo: Eyad Baba/Associated Press

What is clear is that, despite vague Israeli hopes that Hamas could be completely removed, that has not happened. Much of the group’s manpower remains, mostly because it made a point of fighting at a distance — or not at all — whenever possible despite the fury of the Israeli advance and bombardment.

The caution is at least in part because Hamas wants to keep ruling in Gaza, not return to its previous role as a pure resistance movement. Therefore, Israeli officials say, an offensive that caused average people to suffer put pressure on Hamas in real and specific ways.

“Hamas is the dominant organization in Gaza,” a top military official said in a briefing last week that was given on condition of anonymity. “They are the regime and feel very connected to the people. They do not want to lose that connection to the people.”

The Israeli theory of what it tried to do here is summed up in a Hebrew phrase heard across Israel and throughout the military in the past weeks: “baal habayit hishtageya,” or “the boss has lost it.” It evokes the image of a madman who cannot be controlled.

“This phrase means that if our civilians are attacked by you, we are not going to respond in proportion but will use all means we have to cause you such damage that you will think twice in the future,” said Giora Eiland, a former national security adviser.

It is a calculated rage. The phrase comes from business and refers to a decision by a shop owner to cut prices so drastically that he appears crazy to the consumer even though he knows he has actually made a shrewd business decision.

The Palestinians in Gaza got the message on the first day when Israeli warplanes struck numerous targets simultaneously in the middle of a Saturday morning. Some 200 were killed instantly, shocking Hamas and indeed all of Gaza, especially because Israel’s antirocket attacks in previous years had been more measured.

When Hamas’s prime minister, Ismail Haniya, appeared on Hamas television from his hiding spot last Monday, he picked up on the Israeli archetype, referring in Arabic to the battle under way as “el harb el majnouna,” the mad or crazy war.

For most, of course, feeling abused like this has created deep rage at Israel.

“If you want to make peace with the Palestinians, they are tired of bombs, drones and planes,” said Mohammad Abu Muhaisin, a 35-year-old resident of the southern city of Rafah who is affiliated with Fatah, the rival to Hamas that rules in the West Bank and was ejected from Gaza in June 2007. “But a guy whose child has just been killed doesn’t want peace. He wants war.”

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Hamas declares victory in Gaza claiming it lost only 48 fighters

January 19, 2009

Hamas has declared victory over Israel claiming it lost just 48 fighters during the 22-day onslaught in Gaza.

By Damien McElroy in Jerusalem
Telegraph (UK)
A masked gunman from the Islamic group’s armed wing vowed the groups would rearm as its leaders proclaimed it had achieved a holy victory in the confrontation.

“We announce to our people the martyrdom of 48 Qassam fighters,” Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades said.

The frontman, whose face was wrapped in an Arab Keffiyah scarf, dismissed Israeli attempts to stop weapons smuggling into Gaza, a declared aim of the war.

“Do whatever you want. Manufacturing the holy weapons is our mission and we know how to acquire weapons,” he said.

Israeli officials have estimated that up to 500 Hamas members were killed during Operation Cast Lead.

A tenuous ceasefire has held since Israeli troops withdrew from key areas of the densely populated strip. A total of 40,000 tonnes of food and medicines had been transported into Gaza since the offensive began, a spokesman for the Israeli humanitarian effort said.

Palestinians used the calm to dig bodies and possessions from the rubble of the deadliest assault the Hamas stronghold has ever seen.

No air strikes, rockets or major clashes were reported in the coastal enclave.

With the halt to fighting, Palestinian ambulance workers were able to work in areas which had been unsafe to enter.

“We have pulled out the bodies of 15 children and women from under their house,” said Abed Sharafi, 40.

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Israel: “Goal Today” Is Unilateral Cease Fire, No Matter What Hamas Says

January 17, 2009

“After three weeks of Operation Cast Lead, we are very close to reaching the goals and securing them through diplomatic agreements,” Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said during a visit to the south of the country, according to a statement from his office.

“The goal is to announce, subject to cabinet approval, a suspension of military activities because we believe our goals have been attained,” said an Israeli official, asking not to be named.

“There is no agreement with Hamas,” the Israeli official said, adding that Israel would reserve the right to act if Hamas continued firing or launched rockets across the border.

Read this to mean: we are the victors and can stop the fighting with dignity, honor and security.

Israel’s cabinet will vote on a cease fire late Saturday, says Mark Regev, Prime Minister Olmert’s press spokesman.

But what about Hamas, Israel’s partner in this battle?

“Hamas is not a nation. They are terrorists,” one Israeli official told us.  “They refuse to negotiate and swear an oath to destroy us.  How do we negotiate with them?”Hamas leaders are following the lead of President Ahmadinejad in Iran.  Leaders in Iran and Hamas refuse to say “Israel;” referring only to the “Zionist state.”

Gaza Day 22: Hamas Threatens “We Will Continue Battle,” Meanwhile Israel Talks “Unilateral Cease Fire”

Egypt is at the moment considering whether to organize a summit in the near future in Cairo between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Egypt’s state-run news agency MENA reported on Saturday that Mubarak has invited French President Nicholas Sarzoky and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for talks on how to end the Gaza offensive.

This is shaping up as a peace conference of sorts where one war participant doesn’t even get a seat at the table….

Israel’s Likud Party Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said in interview, “We must prevent the firing of Hamas rockets and we must seal off the southern corridore so no future rockets can come in and be fired against Israel.”

Netanyahu video:

Jerusalem Post:

Related from AP: