Israeli jets target Gaza tunnels
- 01-09-2009, 08:55 AM
- 01-09-2009, 09:02 AM
- 01-09-2009, 09:50 AM
01-09-2009, 03:54 PM
01-11-2009, 12:39 AM
Op-ed from Israeli paper.A few days before the air offensive in Gaza, Israelis who are in indirect contact with Hamas transmitted a message to the organization's leaders in Gaza, through mediators: The rocket barrages will not go unpunished; if you do not stop the launch squads immediately, the consequences will be disastrous. When the senior Hamas leaders emerge from their places of hiding after the war, they, too, will have to take stock. They may well repeat what Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said after the war in Lebanon: If he had known that there was even a one-percent chance that this was how the Israelis would react (to the abduction of the two reservist soldiers), he would have preferred to restrain himself.
Still, the assessment in Israel is that in the present circumstances, Hamas' military wing wants to go on fighting. While the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades have been severely damaged, the loss has not been fatal. A few of its senior operatives were assassinated by Israel. Others lost their homes (and in some cases their families) in bombings intended to destroy large arms caches. In one case, neighbors forcibly ousted a Hamas commander from a new home to which he had moved after his previous residence was destroyed, fearing that the new one would be bombed, too.
On Hamas' end, the war is being run by the relatively junior command echelon. The senior officials are stuck in bunkers under the hospitals. The resistance is based on hit-and-run tactics: fighting that is not very organized, almost sporadic. Thus, the officers in one Israeli brigade are now talking about two squads that are harassing the soldiers. There has been something of a decline in rocket launches in the past few days, with the launch teams taking care to operate under cover of mosques or densely populated neighborhoods.
At the beginning of the Second Lebanon War, the chief of staff at the time, Dan Halutz, said it would be necessary to push Lebanon "20 years back." Under the Israeli offensive, Gaza has been hurled back into the 1940s. Electricity is available only for a few hours a day. It is almost impossible to watch television, so people gather around battery-powered radios. The IDF imposed a curfew that begins at 6 P.M., but even before that hour most Gazans are not eager to venture out.
Only a few homes have running water, as the pumps of the Gaza Water Authority no longer work, because of the fuel shortage. "There is no choice, so we shower less," says Ahmed, from the Sajaiyeh neighborhood. "We collected water in plastic containers. The containers that were not hit by Israeli fire are used for drinking and washing." In Beit Hanun and Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip, the sewage has overflowed and is flowing in the streets. This week the World Bank warned that the deadly combination of sewage and a water shortage is liable to cause an outbreak of epidemics in Gaza, a development Israel surely does not want and would not be able to cope with.
The defense establishment still hopes that the harsh situation in Gaza will induce the population to rise up against Hamas. But what one hears in every phone conversation from Gaza is fathomless hatred for Israel, which is growing even more extreme. Hamas may not be as popular as it was, but it may well be that a few months after the operation it will succeed in starting to rebuild with the help of Iranian funds. The hostility toward Israel will remain and with it the desire for revenge will grow. The price will be paid by the generations to come, in Israel and in the Gaza Strip.
01-11-2009, 12:52 AM
the answer to this is a sticky one...The defense establishment still hopes that the harsh situation in Gaza will induce the population to rise up against Hamas. But what one hears in every phone conversation from Gaza is fathomless hatred for Israel, which is growing even more extreme. Hamas may not be as popular as it was, but it may well be that a few months after the operation it will succeed in starting to rebuild with the help of Iranian funds. The hostility toward Israel will remain and with it the desire for revenge will grow. The price will be paid by the generations to come, in Israel and in the Gaza Strip.
01-11-2009, 09:10 AM
Not really. This is the answer. An organization who avows Israels destruction, has been bombing Israeli citizens despite concessions from Israel. Israel warned them to stop, saying consequences would be difficult.
Here we are. How do you negotiate with 1) someone who avows your total destruction, and 2) someone who won't negotiate?
You really think THIS is what's going to just PISS THEM OFF, and not everything else that's happened in the last 50 years? Or maybe, just maybe, they'll learn such a difficult lesson, that, like Nasrallah, they'll think before they attack again. Who gives a **** if they like us, we KNOW they hate us?
We aren't creating terrorists; fear, anger, and despair don't do that. If they did, the Armenians, the CAmbodians, the Jews would be terrorists. It's the education of hate and religious slant which creates terrorists.
We have a whole generation in the South of Israel, which wets its bed at 9 years old; which can't remember NOT being woken up at night to be hauled into the bomb shelter. Enough.
01-12-2009, 10:19 AM
Lol, nice to see Hamas being toyed with and manipulated, for once.Israeli ultimatum: Hamas must turn over all rocket stocks to third party
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
January 12, 2009, 12:48 PM (GMT+02:00)
IDF poised for next stage
IDF poised for next stage
Israel and Egypt are playing hard ball with the Hama delegation who arrived in Cairo Saturday to seek a ceasefire in Gaza hostilities. This is reported by DEBKAfile's military sources Monday, Jan. 12, Day 17 of the Gaza offensive.
Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert said Monday: We are closer than ever before to ending the rocket fire and getting Hamas' arms traffic under control.
As Israel tightened its military pressure with added reservists units, Egyptian intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman rejected Hamas negotiators' appeal for compromises and told them the deal on offer was take-it-or-leave-it: Accept or face an all-out Israeli assault on all fronts.
DEBKAfile's analysts note that this was the first time the Egyptian government has used Israeli military gains as currency to further its national interests, namely, breaking the back of an Islamist movement deemed a destabilizing element for the Mubarak regime.
Suleiman informed the Palestinian delegation that Israel was holding out for Hamas to collect all its rocket and missile stocks and weapons in the hands of other Palestinian terrorist groups and turn them over to a third party. This party would also take charge of security in the Philadelphi Corridor.
Hamas would be given a month to implement the handover, but no longer.
Israel was also adamant about retaining its army on the battle lines held in the Gaza Strip when the ceasefire goes into effect until a new military mechanism is put in place on the Philadelphi Corridor and has proved capable of effectively stemming the arms traffic entering through tunnels from outside sources.
Some of the smuggling is still going on - but at a much reduced pace since the Israeli aerial bombardments began 17 days ago. The number of firings has dropped from 60 to 23.
The Hamas negotiators also ran into a blank Egyptian wall when they proposed setting a six-month time cap on the proposed ceasefire and reopening the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Sinai as a face-saving gesture to mark the onset of a truce. Suleiman said firmly that Rafah would reopen only when all six Gaza crossings into Israel were reactivated by Palestinian Authority personnel and European military monitors.
He said that Cairo was consulting with Jerusalem on the possible transfer of the two halves of Rafah - the Gazan and the Egyptian - to the Palestinian Authority and its chairman, Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Sunday, an Egyptian military plane ferried the Hamas-Gaza delegation to Damascus to seek the endorsement of hardline Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal for the truce terms dictated by Egypt and Israel. Gen. Suleiman directed them to pass this message on to Meshaal: Give up your illusions; Hamas' only remaining option now is to bow to the Middle East Quartet's primary condition: Recognize Israel.
Israel's negotiator Amos Gilead put off his mission to Cairo from Monday to await the return of the Hamas-Gaza delegates from Damascus. All parties are clear that a negative Hamas response will signal the onset of the next stage of Israel's Gaza offensive.
01-12-2009, 10:20 AM
Nice use of civilians for cover.Senior Hamas officials in Gaza are hiding out in a "bunker" built by Israel, intelligence officials suspect: Many are believed to be in the basements of the Shifa Hospital complex in Gaza City, which was refurbished during Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip.
Shifa, the coastal strip's largest hospital, was built while Gaza was under Egyptian rule, before 1967.
During the mid-1980s the building underwent massive refurbishment as part of a showcase project to improve the living conditions of residents.
Millions were invested in the project, which was overseen by Shmuel Goren, the coordinator for activities in the territories at the time.
The Israeli civil administration in the territories constructed the hospital complex's Building Number 2, which has a large cement basement that housed the hospital's laundry and various administrative services.
During a cabinet meeting a week ago, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin said senior Hamas officials found refuge in the hospital basement because they know Israel would not target it, due to the patients in the upper floors.
The Israel Air Force on Monday bombed a mosque in southern Gaza City, on day 17 of its offensive against Hamas' infrastructure in the coastal territory.
Israeli ground forces who entered the premises following the attack found a mass stockpile of weapons, including Qassam and Katyusha rockets.
01-12-2009, 10:20 AM
UNHRC votes to condemn IDF Gaza op
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
The top UN rights body has approved a resolution condemning Israel's military offensive in Gaza saying it has "resulted in massive violations of human rights of the Palestinian people."
UN High Commissioner for...
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, South African Navanethem Pillay, addresses the Human Rights Council special session on the 'The Grave Violations of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including the recent aggression of the occupied Gaza
On Monday, the Human Rights Council's 47 members voted 33 in favor and 1 against the resolution that also accuses Israel of systematically destroying Palestinian infrastructure and of targeting civilians and medical facilities.
European Union countries abstained and Canada voted against the resolution.
The resolution approved in Geneva Monday urges an end to the rocket attacks but mentions neither Hamas nor violations of Israeli civilians' rights.
GO CANADA! ****, if the Canada shoots your precious resolution down, and the EU abstains, you can know you're WAY left of center. Or lost your mind.
01-12-2009, 10:25 AM
01-12-2009, 10:26 AM
Live feed of the Keren Shalom crossing into Israel; you'll see trucks of aid going through.
The IDF has facilitated the transfer of close to 800 trucks into the Gaza Strip with 17,000 tons of basic foods and medical supplies since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead.
Since the first three-hour humanitarian corridor was established last Wednesday, there have been conflicting claims by both Hamas and the IDF of the other side not honoring the temporary calm.
On Thursday, a Palestinian driver of a UN supply truck was killed near the Erez border crossing.
In a press conference in Jerusalem on Sunday, UNRWA claimed that the death was caused by IDF troops. An IDF captain disputed the claim, telling the Post that "the initial inquiry indicates that it was not IDF fire that killed him" and that according to some reports the driver was killed by sniper fire.
In a similar incident, the army claimed that Hamas operatives violated the three hours of calm on Friday by targeting border crossings with mortar fire. No one was wounded in the attack.
Despite the breaches, the IDF has for the past week announced at the beginning of each day that it would abide by the self-imposed daily ceasefire, so long as it does not come under enemy fire.
01-13-2009, 01:44 AM
Funny how the media and UN are hopping mad about Isreal defending itself and having colateral damage as will always be the case, yet they kinda just let Darfur sit and fester while millions die down there without doing much about it.
Where the heck was the UN BEFORE Isreal invaded? Just sitting back, content with doing nothing to end the rain of rockets coming down on Isreal's citizens. Bunch of F'ing hipocrites, more than willing to congradulate themselves, patting each other on the back as they condemn a sovereign country exercising its right to defend itself. I don't know of a more useless, impotent organization than the UN, and I resent my tax dollars funding it.
About the only thing they actually do do well is hand out food and aid. If they stuck to that instead of trying to become the One World Government telling everyone how to behave they might actually start being good at what they are supposed to be doing.
01-13-2009, 06:58 AM
Not So Gifted
Not so cool facts about isreal.[/QUOTE]
I dont know anywhere in the bible that talks of a country called Palestine but I do see the country Israel , so how was this fictional land stolen.
01-13-2009, 09:58 AM
01-15-2009, 12:09 AM
01-16-2009, 12:38 AM
.....The war against Hamas is taking place not only in the Gaza Strip, but in the West Bank as well, Palestinians said on Thursday.
Members of the PA's security...
Members of the PA's security forces in Ramallah (illustrative).
Photo: AP [file]
Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority security forces, they noted, had stepped up their crackdown on Hamas supporters and figures in the West Bank since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead.
The latest anti-Hamas measures in the West Bank, which are being carried out in coordination with the IDF and under the supervision of US security experts, are designed to foil any attempt by the movement to overthrow the PA.
Earlier this week, Israeli security officials expressed satisfaction with the coordination between the PA security forces and the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) in fighting Hamas in the West Bank.
The officials praised PA President Mahmoud Abbas's forces for employing an "iron-fist" policy against Hamas since the beginning of the military offensive.
On the instructions of the PA leadership in Ramallah, protesters are banned from expressing solidarity with Hamas by hoisting the movement's flag or chanting slogans in its favor.
The PA has also banned demonstrators from marching toward IDF checkpoints or settlements to avoid friction.
In the past three weeks, dozens of Hamas supporters have either been detained or summoned for investigation by the PA's much-feared Preventive Security Force and General Intelligence Service.
Hamas claims that the PA had already arrested more than 400 of its supporters in the West Bank prior to the IDF offensive in Gaza.
In the Nablus area alone, more than 200 Hamas supporters were rounded up by the PA in the past two weeks, a Hamas representative in the West Bank said.
Most of the detainees were university students affiliated with pro-Hamas tickets in campus political races, he said.
The PA has also banned pro-Hamas activities at universities and schools. According to sources close to Hamas, the PA Education Ministry recently fired a number of teachers who voiced sympathy with Hamas.
Several Palestinian journalists have also been targeted by the PA security forces in recent weeks. In Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah, policemen beat a number of Palestinian reporters and photographers who were covering protests against the IDF operation. Other journalists have been receiving threats almost on a daily basis from the PA security forces in the West Bank.
One journalist said he was told by PA security officers that they would break his arms and legs if he dared to report about pro-Hamas demonstrations. Another journalist complained that policemen confiscated his camera and assaulted him while he was covering a demonstration in Bethlehem.
In Ramallah last week, the PA deployed more than 1,000 policemen to stop a relatively small number of demonstrators from identifying with Hamas.
In Tulkarm, PA security officers detained a Hamas spokesman shortly after he appeared on an Arab satellite TV station. In Hebron, several demonstrators who hoisted Hamas flags during a recent protest were dispersed by policemen who fired tear gas at them.
Some Hamas members who are being held in PA prisons told their relatives that they were severely beaten by policemen and security officers who were "celebrating" the beginning of the IDF operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinians said the PA policemen responsible for the massive crackdown received special training in Jordan and the West Bank as part of a security plan engineered by the US. They claimed that these forces report directly to PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, and not to Abbas.
The anti-Hamas campaign in the West Bank is taking place not only on the ground, but also in the PA-controlled media that continues to blame Hamas for the "massacres" in Gaza.
Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior aide to Abbas, on Thursday accused Hamas of holding the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip hostage. "Hamas is attempting to become the main decision-maker on the Palestinian arena," he said. "Hamas is exploiting the Israeli massacres against our people to strengthen its position."
Abdel Rahim expressed hope that Hamas would not be invited to any Arab summit or gathering to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip. "Hamas launched a coup against the legitimate authority of the Palestinians and as such it does not have the right to represent the Palestinians at any summit," he said.
The PA's psychological war against Hamas reached its peak this week when a number of senior officials in Ramallah began talking about a split between the Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and their colleagues in Syria.
Several Fatah-controlled news Web sites also carried reports about how Hamas militiamen were stealing fuel and food in the Gaza Strip. They also mocked the Hamas leaders for abandoning their constituents by going underground.
On Thursday, Hamas called for a "day of rage" in the West Bank against the ongoing IDF offensive. Hamas is hoping that large-scale protests will embarrass or perhaps undermine the PA leadership and hasten its collapse.
So far, the PA security forces have been successful in containing the protests inside the cities, which are under its control. Most of the clashes between Palestinians and the IDF have been taking place in the rural areas of the West Bank, where overall security is in the hands of Israel.
The IDF has also been helping the PA security forces by arresting dozens of Hamas men in the West Bank.
In some cases, Hamas members were detained by the IDF only hours after they were released from PA detention centers, in what appears to be a clear sign of security coordination between the PA and Israel.
Just last week, the IDF arrested three top Hamas representatives: legislators Abdel Jaber al-Fukaha and Basem al-Za'arir and former Hamas minister Issa Ja'abari.
PA and Fatah officials in Ramallah said on Thursday they had evidence that Iran and Syria were pushing Hamas to continue fighting Israel. Damascus and Teheran were also trying to incite the Palestinians in the West Bank against the PA leadership, they added.
They pointed out that Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, based in Damascus, has repeatedly appealed to the West Bank Palestinians to launch a third intifada against the PA leadership.
01-18-2009, 04:29 AM
01-18-2009, 05:10 AM
01-18-2009, 05:13 AM
01-18-2009, 05:49 AM
who are trying to convince qouting all that bul****?
you should know that ppl over there wont evacuate thier houses bc israel said so. such strategy works very well with fatah bc they are sellouts.
few days ago Qatar prince said during the arab meetings that he told Abbas to come to the meeting but the latter said i cant come I would lose everything if i did (he's being controlled) thats why hamas wont recognize him as a leader.
israel thought its an easy task, no it aint. btw the worlds media is controlled by israel which means you wont see much israeli army casualties
01-19-2009, 07:43 AM
lol axis labs rep slow mun just sent me nuclear neg. I think he just wants me to post things like "israelis are pacifists & the kindest ppl on earth & **** like that.
back to subject you might like what israel is doing but you cant tell anyone to post elsewhere. If you dont like truth press that red button @ the top of your explorer.
btw im not in for E-fight.
01-19-2009, 09:37 AM
Why are fatah sellouts? Because they recognize israels right to exist? Lol at you, bud. Hamas sympathizer. People did evacuate...when hamas wasn't busy forcing them back at gunpoint. Its funny how the palestinians were fleeing towards israeli troops, 'the enemy'. Because they know they won't be slaughtered like cattle or used for shields, which is what hamas did.you should know that ppl over there wont evacuate thier houses bc israel said so. such strategy works very well with fatah bc they are sellouts.
Lol at qatar. Who cares what the prince of qatar says about this conflict. Maybe abbas needs to get rid of the corruption in his ranks, then he wouldn't have to fear losing everything.few days ago Qatar prince said during the arab meetings that he told Abbas to come to the meeting but the latter said i cant come I would lose everything if i did (he's being controlled) thats why hamas wont recognize him as a leader.
Who said israel thought it would be easy? We knew it would be hard, and it was, because it's hard to operate without killing civilians when hamas chooses to use civilians as human shields. Hamas chose the battle ground, israel did better than any other army in the world could have.israel thought its an easy task, no it aint. btw the worlds media is controlled by israel which means you wont see much israeli army casualties
Every israeli funeral is broadcast on tv in israel, on the news. Go ahead with your conspiracy theory that israel hides the number of their dead. Fact is, its simply impossible in a country like israel.
Another fact for you: your precious hamas ran like little bitches, hid behind women and kids, and died like scum. And every gazan saw it. That's all you got?
Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 1.0; en-us; dream) AppleWebKit/525.10+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0.4 Mobile Safari/523.12.2
01-19-2009, 10:31 AM
01-19-2009, 04:31 PM
definition of corruption.
01-20-2009, 12:28 AM
Using boy as cover:vids to this funny post?
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN9WzUc7iB0"]YouTube - Hamas Rockets During Cease-Fire and From Schoolyard 8 Jan. 09[/ame]
Booby trapped school:
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHhs9ihSmbU"]YouTube - Hamas Booby Trapped School and Zoo 11 Jan. 2009[/ame]
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY50cktUKbA"]YouTube - Hamas fires from foreign Press building in Gaza January 2009 - Unintentional News from Alarabiya-TV[/ame]
Arms caches in civilian areas:
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrZMvOPfCvs"]YouTube - Hamas Arms Caches Destroy Homes[/ame]
Weapons in mosque:
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwP_LusgPAw&feature=ch annel_page"]YouTube - Weapons in Gaza Mosque Struck by Israel Air Force 1 Jan. 2009[/ame]
Launching between two schools:
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LGubwghyEw"]YouTube - Hamas Uses Schools and Ceasefire to Shoot Rockets at Israel[/ame]
Mortars fired from UN school:
You need more? The net is FULL of that Hamas bull****.
Which is true:I know its hard to operate without killing civilians but the # of killed civilians outnumbered that in hamas.
Hamas lost 48 members.
Hamas nearly captured Tel Aviv.
The first Palestinian landed on the moon!
Of those three, the last one is the most likely.
What are you saying? First you said the IDF hides its own casualties, now you say they do the opposite. Que?every army in the world hide its casualties why wouldnt the idf do the opposite?
01-20-2009, 08:44 AM
the war is almost over weakening every aspect of life in palestine but it made these ppl's spirits stronger, you know why? cause now they know they can handle the israeli war machine.
now try to watch this song from a human being prospective, oh you cant.
why? oh they're not humans I see my bad.
[nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlfhoU66s4Y"]YouTube - Broadcast Yourself.[/nomedia]
01-20-2009, 08:56 AM
Bless Bono for mentioning the Palestininan cause and bless the Palestinian people for being the bravest people on earth.
01-20-2009, 09:45 AM
01-20-2009, 12:13 PM
teaching hate in schools and on tv and in mosques, rewarding those who kill civilians, promoting a culture of death and intoleramce...that's not bravery. it's cowardice of the highest form.
Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 1.0; en-us; dream) AppleWebKit/525.10+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0.4 Mobile Safari/523.12.2
01-20-2009, 12:15 PM
ksa, I posted some vids at your request. no comment?
Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 1.0; en-us; dream) AppleWebKit/525.10+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0.4 Mobile Safari/523.12.2
01-20-2009, 04:46 PM
2nd vid : ceasefire was broken by both sides btw.
3rd vid : there's no clear evidence palestinians made these. any1 can Booby trapp any place he wants shoot a vid then blame somebody else.
4th vid : idf tanks did the same to multible buildings.
5th & 6th : im against using such places but again they're not as organized as israel, with no organized defence forces, let alone
palestinian spies working for israel.
all these hamas tactics wont compare to what israel been doing since the beginning of the 20th century.
01-20-2009, 09:44 PM
You know, this looks like a potentially bad political move for Israel right now, but that doesn't make it any less interesting.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtfPoGWS8jY"]YouTube - Israel Pimps Soldier Girls In Maxim As Tourist Attraction[/ame]
01-23-2009, 04:25 PM
I don't see how there could ever be peace, not until only one side is left standing. Hamas has a hard-core superiority complex, institutionalized from early childhood.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTGbP55HGi8"]YouTube - Children of Hamas[/ame]
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gi-c6lbFGC4&NR=1"]YouTube - Hamas Mickey Mouse Teaches Terror to Kids[/ame]
01-23-2009, 05:53 PM
Gazan doctor says death toll inflated
Physician at Gaza's Shifa Hospital tells Italian newspaper number of dead in Israeli offensive 'stands at no more than 500 or 600, most of them youths recruited to Hamas' ranks'. Senior Palestinian Health Ministry official denies claims, IDF estimate on 1,200 casualties in Strip remains unchanged
Latest Update: 01.22.09, 15:18 / Israel News
What really is behind the numbers reported on the number of civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip? Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera reported Thursday that a doctor working in Gaza's Shifa Hospital claimed that Hamas has intentionally inflated the number of casualties resulting from Israel's Operation Cast Lead.
"The number of deceased stands at no more than 500 to 600. Most of them are youths between the ages of 17 to 23 who were recruited to the ranks of Hamas, who sent them to the slaughter," according to the newspaper article.
Israeli school erects mourning tent for Gaza / Meirav Shlomo
Students of Jaffa high school hold ceremony displaying images of death from Gaza fighting
The doctor wished to remain unidentified, out of fear for his life.
A senior Palestinian Health Ministry official later denied the claims, and the Israel Defense Forces' estimate on the number of casualties in Gaza has also remained unchanged.
Despite the claims, the IDF stood behind its estimate that between 1,100 to 1,200 people were killed in the Strip during the fighting, more than two-thirds of them Hamas members.
The army initially believed that the number of civilian casualties was higher, as many Hamas men walked outside their houses dressed in civilian clothes, leaving their weapons at home.
Dr. Moaiya Hassanain, who is in change of the emergency department at the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, denied the figures presented by the Italian paper.
Hassanain told Ynet that the Palestinian figures were issued cautiously, without any political considerations, and that several casualties may not have been reported as their bodies are still under the rubble or have not been handed over to the rescue forces and authorized medical officials.
'Mostly armed teenagers'
A Tal al-Hawa resident told the newspaper's reporter, "Armed Hamas men sought out a good position for provoking the Israelis. There were mostly teenagers, aged 16 or 17, and armed. They couldn't do a thing against a tank or a jet. They knew they are much weaker, but they fired at our houses so that they could blame Israel for war crimes."
The reporter for the Italian newspaper also quoted reporters in the Strip who told of Hamas' exaggerated figures, "We have already said to Hamas commanders – why do you insist on inflating the number of victims?"
These same reporters mentioned that the truth that will come out is likely to be similar to what occurred in Operation Defensive Shield in Jenin. "Then, there was first talk of 1,500 deaths. But then it turned out that there were only 54, 45 of which were armed men," the Palestinian reporters told the Italian newspaper.
These new figures must be treated with caution especially in light of the fact that various official sources in the Gaza Strip, including United Nations and Red Cross officials, have reported that more than 1,300 people were killed and some 5,000 wounded during the three weeks of fighting in the coastal strip. Palestinian sources claim that three-quarters of the dead were unarmed civilians.
Hamas, while boasting on having Israeli soldiers by the dozens, a number that has proven to be exaggerated, claimed that no more than 48 of its members were killed during the Israeli offensive. According to IDF figures, Hamas lost hundreds of fighters from its ranks.
The UN's humanitarian chief began a tour of the Gaza Strip on Thursday to examine the extent of the devastation left behind by the Israeli offensive.
John Holmes said the number of casualties is "extremely shocking." He also urged Israel to conduct a thorough investigation into shelling attacks that damaged UN buildings in Gaza.
Holmes said he was thinking about immediate humanitarian needs and longer-term reconstruction. He said the biggest concerns are providing clean water, sanitation, electricity
Holmes added that Gaza's border crossings would have to be opened to allow reconstruction materials into the area.
Nir Magal, Ali Waked, Hanan Greenberg and The Associated Press contributed to this report
Pretty funny, in light of these preliminary accounts from the 2002 Jenin operation aimed at stopping the suicide bombings which killed over 500 Israelis:
The European Union's external relations commissioner, Chris Patten, in an interview with the Guardian, said Israel must accept a UN investigation of alleged atrocities against Palestinians or face "colossal damage" to its reputation.
In a Commons debate, Gerald Kaufman, the veteran Labour MP who is Britain's most prominent Jewish parliamentarian, launched a ferocious attack on the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, denouncing him as a "war criminal".
With MPs on both sides of the Commons condemning the Israeli incursion, Mr Kaufman said Mr Sharon had "ordered his troops to use methods of barbarism against the Palestinians".
Expressing fear that something dreadful had happened in Jenin, he said: "It is time to remind Sharon that the Star of David belongs to all Jews and not to his repulsive government. His actions are staining the Star of David with blood."
With the Israeli army still blocking full access to Jenin, it is impossible to establish even a rough body count. However, both Amnesty and the New York-based Human Rights Watch yesterday called for inquiries.
A senior Palestinian, Nabil Shaath, accused Israel of carrying out summary executions and removing corpses in refrigerated trucks. He said close to 500 people had been killed. Israel says 70 Palestinian fighters died in the fighting. "The Israeli army took six days to complete its massacre in Jenin and six days to clean it up," Mr Shaath said.
Sounds awful, huh? Reports were that the death toll passed 1500. The BBC, AP, all were latching onto the Palestinian 'reports' of carnage. But look what happened:
PRECISELY A MONTH AGO, on April 8, the Palestinian news agency Wafa was reporting that Israel had committed the "massacre of the 21st century" in the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin. "Medical sources" informed Wafa of "hundreds of martyrs." This was a lie, concocted not only for local consumption--to keep the Palestinian people whipped up in a patriotic, Israel-hating frenzy--but mostly for export to the West.
That same day, you could hear breathless reports of the supposed Israeli atrocities in Jenin being spread by Palestinian sources on NPR, CNN, and elsewhere. Typical was the hysteria of Nasser al-Kidwa, the Palestinian representative to the United Nations, on CNN: "There's almost a massacre now taking place in Jenin. Helicopter gun ships are throwing missiles at one square kilometer packed with almost 15,000 people in a refugee camp. . . . Just look at the TV and watch, watch what the--what the Israel forces are doing. . . . This is a war crime, clear war crime, witnessed by the whole world, preventing ambulances, preventing people from being buried. I mean this is an all-out assault against the whole population."
No, this was an all-out assault on the truth. There was a pitched battle in Jenin. But the "hundreds" of martyrs were a cynical invention. The death toll was 56 Palestinians, the majority of them combatants, and 23 Israeli soldiers.
Unlike the celebrated foreign-dispatch lies of the 20th century--the New York Times's Walter Duranty Pulitzer-winning cover-up of Stalin's murderous Ukraine famine, say, or Herbert Matthews's 1957 reports
of Senor Fidel Castro's hopes for a "democratic Cuba"--the Jenin fraud has been almost entirely inflated and then deflated in the short space of a month. I think it's safe to say that no one will win a Pulitzer for reporting on the (non-existent) "massacre of the 21st century." This was amateur-hour propaganda, and any reporter who fell for it should be mortified.
Mostly that means British reporters. Full credit to the Guardian for allowing Sharon Sadeh to administer a well-deserved flogging to Fleet Street in its pages on Monday. "The Independent, the Guardian and the Times, in particular," writes Sadeh, "were quick to denounce Israel and made sensational accusations based on thin evidence, fitting a widely held stereotype of a defiant, brutal and don't-give-a-damn Israel."
Here's the transcript, pulled directly from the UN website, of the UN inquiry of the massacre allegations:
The Palestinians have a long history of lying and inflating all sorts of figures wildly, and quickly being debunked.48. Although available first-hand accounts are partial, difficult to authenticate and often anonymous, it is possible, through Government of Israel, Palestinian Authority, United Nations and other international sources, to create a rough chronology of events within the Jenin camp from 3 to 18 April 2002. The fighting lasted approximately 10 days and was characterized by two distinct phases: the first phase began on 3 April and ended on 9 April, while the second phase lasted during 10 and 11 April. Most of the deaths on both sides occurred in the first phase but it would appear that much of the physical damage was done in the second.
49. There are allegations by the Palestinian Authority and human rights organizations that in the conduct of their operations in the refugee camp the Israeli Defence Forces engaged in unlawful killings, the use of human shields, disproportionate use of force, arbitrary arrests and torture and denial of medical treatment and access. IDF soldiers who participated in the Jenin incursion point to breaches of international humanitarian law on the part of Palestinian combatants within the camp, including basing themselves in a densely populated civilian area and the use of children to transport and possibly lay booby traps.
50. In the account of the Government of Israel of the operation, IDF first surrounded and established control of access into and out of the city of Jenin, allowing its inhabitants to depart voluntarily. Approximately 11,000 did so. According to Israeli sources, in their incursion into the camp IDF relied primarily on infantry rather than airpower and artillery in an effort to minimize civilian casualties, but other accounts of the battle suggest that as many as 60 tanks may have been used even in the first days. Interviews with witnesses conducted by human rights organizations suggest that tanks, helicopters and ground troops using small arms predominated in the first two days, after which armoured bulldozers were used to demolish houses and other structures so as to widen alleys in the camp.
51. Using loudspeakers, IDF urged civilians in Arabic to evacuate the camp. Some reports, including of interviews with IDF soldiers, suggest that those warnings were not adequate and were ignored by many residents. Many of the inhabitants of the Jenin camp fled the camp before or at the beginning of the IDF incursion. Others left after 9 April. Estimates vary on how many civilians remained in the camp throughout but there may have been as many as 4,000.
52. As described by the Government of Israel, "a heavy battle took place in Jenin, during which IDF soldiers were forced to fight among booby-trapped houses and bomb fields throughout the camp, which were prepared in advance as a booby-trapped battlefield". The Palestinian Authority acknowledges that "a number of Palestinian fighters resisted the Israeli military assault and were armed only with rifles and … crude explosives". An IDF spokesman offered a slightly different portrayal of the resistance, stating that the soldiers had faced "more than a thousand explosive charges, live explosive charges and some more sophisticated ones, … hundreds of hand grenades … [and] hundreds of gunmen". Human rights reports support the assertions that some buildings had been booby-trapped by the Palestinian combatants.
53. That the Israeli Defence Forces encountered heavy Palestinian resistance is not in question. Nor is the fact that Palestinian militants in the camp, as elsewhere, adopted methods which constitute breaches of international law that have been and continue to be condemned by the United Nations. Clarity and certainty remain elusive, however, on the policy and facts of the IDF response to that resistance. The Government of Israel maintains that IDF "clearly took all possible measures not to hurt civilian life" but were confronted with "armed terrorists who purposely concealed themselves among the civilian population". However, some human rights groups and Palestinian eyewitnesses assert that IDF soldiers did not take all possible measures to avoid hurting civilians, and even used some as human shields.
54. As IDF penetrated the camp, the Palestinian militants reportedly moved further into its centre. The heaviest fighting reportedly occurred between 5 and 9 April, resulting in the largest death tolls on both sides. There are reports that during this period IDF increased missile strikes from helicopters and the use of bulldozers - including their use to demolish homes and allegedly bury beneath them those who refused to surrender - and engaged in "indiscriminate" firing. IDF lost 14 soldiers, 13 in a single engagement on 9 April. IDF incurred no further fatalities in Jenin after 9 April.
55. Press reports from the days in question and subsequent interviews by representatives of non-governmental organizations with camp residents suggest that an average of five Palestinians per day died in the first three days of the incursion and that there was a sharp increase in deaths on 6 April.
56. Fifty-two Palestinian deaths had been confirmed by the hospital in Jenin by the end of May 2002. IDF also place the death toll at approximately 52. A senior Palestinian Authority official alleged in mid-April that some 500 were killed, a figure that has not been substantiated in the light of the evidence that has emerged.
57. It is impossible to determine with precision how many civilians were among the Palestinian dead. The Government of Israel estimated during the incursion that there were "only dozens killed in Jenin … and the vast majority of them bore arms and fired upon [IDF] forces". Israeli officials informed United Nations personnel that they believed that, of the 52 dead, 38 were armed men and 14 were civilians. The Palestinian Authority has acknowledged that combatants were among the dead, and has named some of them, but has placed no precise estimates on the breakdown. Human rights organizations put the civilian toll closer to 20 - Human Rights Watch documented 22 civilians among the 52 dead, while Physicians for Human Rights noted that "children under the age of 15 years, women and men over the age of 50 years accounted for nearly 38 per cent of all reported fatalities".
58. The Israeli Defence Forces stated at the time that their methods might not change, "because the basic assumption is that we are operating in a civilian neighbourhood". Other accounts of the battle suggest that the nature of the military operation in Jenin refugee camp did alter after 9 April 2002. On that day, in what both the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel describe as a "well-planned ambush" 13 IDF soldiers were killed and a number of others wounded. A fourteenth soldier died elsewhere in the camp that day, bringing the IDF death toll during the operation in Jenin to 23.
59. Following the ambush, IDF appeared to have shifted tactics from house-to-house searches and destruction of the homes of known militants to wider bombardment with tanks and missiles. IDF also used armoured bulldozers, supported by tanks, to demolish portions of the camp. The Government of Israel maintains that "IDF forces only destroyed structures after calling a number of times for inhabitants to leave buildings, and from which the shooting did not cease". Witness testimonies and human rights investigations allege that the destruction was both disproportionate and indiscriminate, some houses coming under attack from the bulldozers before their inhabitants had the opportunity to evacuate. The Palestinian Authority maintains that IDF "had complete and detailed knowledge of what was happening in the camp through the use of drones and cameras attached to balloons … [and] none of the atrocities committed were unintentional".
60. Human rights and humanitarian organizations have questioned whether this change in tactics was proportionate to the military objective and in accordance with humanitarian and human rights law. The Palestinian Authority account of the battle alleges the use of "helicopter gunships to fire TOW missiles against such a densely populated area … anti-aircraft guns, able to fire 3,000 rounds a minute … scores of tanks and armoured vehicles equipped with machine guns … [and] bulldozers to raze homes and to burrow wide lanes". Other sources point to an extensive use of armoured bulldozers and helicopter gunships on 9 and 10 April, possibly even after the fighting had begun to subside. During this stage, much of the physical damage was done, particularly in the central Hawashin district of the camp, which was effectively levelled. Many civilian dwellings were completely destroyed and many more were severely damaged. Several UNRWA facilities in the camp, including its health centre and sanitation office, were badly damaged.
61. Within two days after 9 April, IDF brought the camp under control and defeated the remaining armed elements. On 11 April, the last Palestinian militants in Jenin camp surrendered to IDF, having requested mediation by B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization that operates in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, to ensure that no harm would come to them. According to Palestinian Authority sources, those surrendering included wanted Islamic Jihad and Fatah leaders; others were three injured people and a 13-year-old boy.
We'll see this time.
01-27-2009, 06:51 AM
01-27-2009, 02:35 PM
Jason Koutsoukis in Gaza City
January 26, 2009
PALESTINIAN civilians living in Gaza during the three-week war with Israel have spoken of the challenge of being caught between Hamas and Israeli soldiers as the radical Islamic movement that controls the Gaza strip attempted to hijack ambulances.
Mohammed Shriteh, 30, is an ambulance driver registered with and trained by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.
His first day of work in the al-Quds neighbourhood was January 1, the sixth day of the war. "Mostly the war was not as fast or as chaotic as I expected," Mr Shriteh told the Herald. "We would co-ordinate with the Israelis before we pick up patients, because they have all our names, and our IDs, so they would not shoot at us."
Mr Shriteh said the more immediate threat was from Hamas, who would lure the ambulances into the heart of a battle to transport fighters to safety.
"After the first week, at night time, there was a call for a house in Jabaliya. I got to the house and there was lots of shooting and explosions all around," he said.
Because of the urgency of the call, Mr Shriteh said there was no time to arrange his movements with the IDF.
"I knew the Israelis were watching me because I could see the red laser beam in the ambulance and on me, on my body," he said.
Getting out of the ambulance and entering the house, he saw there were three Hamas fighters taking cover inside. One half of the building had already been destroyed.
"They were very scared, and very nervous … They dropped their weapons and ordered me to get them out, to put them in the ambulance and take them away. I refused, because if the IDF sees me doing this I am finished, I cannot pick up any more wounded people.
"And then one of the fighters picked up a gun and held it to my head, to force me. I still refused, and then they allowed me to leave."
Mr Shriteh says Hamas made several attempts to hijack the al-Quds Hospital's fleet of ambulances during the war.
"You hear when they are coming. People ring to tell you. So we had to get in all the ambulances and make the illusion of an emergency and only come back when they had gone."
Eyad al-Bayary, 32, lost his job as a senior nurse at the Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza City, about six months ago because he is closely identified with Fatah, the ***** political movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Twice last year Mr Bayary was arrested by Hamas, and once he was jailed for six days for flying the Fatah flag above his house in Jabaliya. He now works part-time as an English teacher at al-Azhar University.
"After the first day of the war, I go to the hospital to work, to help, but I was told to go away. They tell me 'you are not needed here' and they push me away," Mr Bayary said.
Since the ceasefire was declared on January 17, Hamas has begun to systematically take revenge on anyone believed to have collaborated with Israel before the war.
Israel makes no secret of the fact that it has a network of informants inside Gaza who regularly provide information on where Hamas leaders live, where weapons are being stored and other details that formed an important part of Israel's battle plan.
According to rumour, a number of alleged collaborators have already been executed. Taher al-Nono, the Hamas government's spokesman in Gaza, told the Herald that 175 people had been arrested so far on suspicion of collaborating.
"They will be dealt with by the court and the judge and we will respect the judge's decision," Mr Nono said.
And if the sentence is death?
"We will respect the decision."
But the breakdown between Hamas and Fatah over the last 18 months did not prevent some co-operation between the two sides during the war.
The commander of one al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade unit - the brigades are a coalition of secular militia groups which operate under the loose umbrella of Fatah - said the real enemy remains Israel.
The unit commander, who used the name Abu Ibrahim, invited the Herald into his home.
On the wall of his lounge room hung the portraits of George Habash, who founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a communist paramilitary organisation, and Abu Ali Mustafa, the man who succeeded Habash as leader of the PFLP and who was killed by Israeli forces in 2001.
"Of course we fought together with Hamas because we all have the same aim: to liberate our homeland," he said.
With his two-year old daughter on his knee, Mr Ibrahim, 30, said he would never accept peace or negotiation, even if it might lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.
"I believe in the existence of Israel because it exists on my land - but the war with Israel will only end when I liberate all of my land. This last war with Israel was not the first war, and it will not be the last."
Rebuilding the Strip
GAZA CITY: Hamas will begin a big reconstruction effort in the Gaza Strip today as the territory's 1.5 million people start to recover from the devastating three-week war with Israel that claimed more than 1300 lives and destroyed thousands of buildings, factories and farms.
Life was beginning to return to a relative state of normality yesterday, with schools, universities and businesses back open.
But with most government buildings destroyed during the war, and piles of concrete rubble on street corners, Gazans face a huge effort to return the Strip to the impoverished state that existed before the war began.
Thousands of Gazans who lost their homes are still living in temporary accommodation provided in United Nations Relief and Works Agency schools, and electricity is being rationed, with homes receiving power for just a few hours a day.
A Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Ayman Taha, said his organisation would observe a truce with Israel for 18 months on the condition all the crossing points with Israel were opened.
With Hamas's popularity apparently plummeting in as a result of the war, the movement's leadership is using financial handouts to boost morale.
Hamas leaders from Gaza and Damascus, Syria, travelled to Cairo yesterday to meet Egyptian intelligence leaders and leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organisation for talks aimed at resolving Hamas's dispute with the Fatah movement of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
In Israel the appointment of George Mitchell as special envoy of the US President, Barack Obama, to the Middle East has met with caution and suspicion.
Israeli Foreign Ministry officials were scrambling to put together a brief for Mr Mitchell, who is due to visit Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah this week, as well as Egypt and Jordan.
Israeli officials believe Mr Mitchell's first step will be to recommend the "road map for peace" plan announced by the former president George Bush in 2002 be extended.
Israelis have also begun to turn their attention to the general elections on February 10. With polls indicating the right-wing Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu is on track to return to the Prime Minister's office he occupied in 1996, the centrist Kadima Party leader, Tzipi Livni, warned yesterday that if the far-right won government it would lead to an inevitable rift with the US.http://www.spiegel.de/international/...603203,00.html'Who Has Won Here?'
By Ulrike Putz in Beit Lahia, Gaza
In the Gaza Strip people are returning home -- or to the rubble that was once their home. Many are blaming Hamas for the destruction because the militants hid among civilians and attracted Israeli fire. Yet no one dares to speak out openly.
What is left over when a person is hit by a tank shell. Blood, tissue, bone splinters, splatters on the wall.
Mohammed Sadala's rage is aimed at the man, whose remains he found in his bedroom: a Hamas fighter. He and a comrade broke into the home which had long stood empty after the Sadala family fled. The Hamas men shot at the approaching Israelis from the balcony. The soldiers fired back, killing the militants and destroying the house of the 10-strong family in the process.
When Sadala came back to survey the scene he found his property in ruins: the younger children's bedroom was burnt out, while the living room and hallway were strewn with bullet holes and blackened by soot from the fire. In the bedroom lay the corpses: one had bled to death, the other was hit by a tank shell.
Beside the bodies lay the assault rifle which they had used to try to stop the tanks.
"I used to support Hamas because they fought for our country, for Palestine," says Sadala. Hamas stood for a new start, for an end of corruption, which had spread like cancer under the moderate Fatah. In the 2006 elections Hamas won the majority with their message of change, said Sadala, who earned a living in the building business. Gesticulating wildly, the 52-year-old surveyed the ruins of the bedroom: "That is the change that they brought about. We were blasted back 2,000 years."
Through the hole in the wall of his house, Sadala sees a landscape in gray and brown. This is where a neighbourhood had stood, his neighbourhood. Now there is a snake of sand around the bomb crater. It is impossible to tell where the streets once stood. Family houses have turned into piles of debris. People have built refuges using cloth and rubble. They stand alongside dead donkeys and sheep, whose stomachs swell up. No one here has time to remove rotting corpses.
The people from Beit Lahia are starting from zero again: children load wood from broken trees onto their back. Their mothers bend over fires and bake bread. Young women carry water in petrol canisters. Only the men stand around looking numb, smoking, staring blankly. Many people here, like Sandala, had placed their hopes in Hamas -- now they are gazing into nothing, ideologically as well as materially.
Everything Is Lost Now
And it is not just buildings that lie in rubble in the Gaza strip, it is the livelihoods of many thousands of people. In Arabic societies a home is usually everything a family possesses. Often several brothers build a house for the entire family. Living at close quarters has its advantages: when the costs of building the house are paid off, there is more money left over to feed the dozens of family members.
Everything is lost now.
"When Hamas came to power, they came to our aid with packages of groceries," says Abu Abed. The 60-year-old's sons, all of whom are trained hospital nurses, have been without work for years. That is true of many in the Gaza Strip. Now Abu Abed stands before the rumble of the house where he lived with four generations of his family. All that remains are the ground floor pillars. The Israeli navy had its eye on the building from the very beginning of the war. After all, its clear view of Gaza City and the sea would have provided a good base for Hamas.
"I've changed my mind about Hamas," Abu Abed says. "I can't support any party that wages a war that destroys our lives." He is particularly pained by the fact that Hamas is still selling the cease-fire as a victory.
"Who has won here?" he asks and points to the debris that was once his home.
One of his neighbors weighs in: "Many people are now against Hamas but that won't change anything," he says. "Because anyone who stands up to them is killed." Since they took power Hamas has used brutal force against any dissenters in the Gaza Strip. There were news agency reports that during the war they allegedly executed suspected collaborators with Israel. The reign of terror will go on for some time, says the neighbor who doesn't want to give his name. "There will never be a rebellion against Hamas. It would be suicide."
Others swallow their anger. Hail's house is just a few streets away and only suffered light damage. There are a few bullet holes in the living room walls and all of the window panes are broken. Hail also found out after the cease-fire that the militants had used his house as a base for their operations. The door to his house stood open and there were electric cables lying in the hallway. When Hail followed them they led to his neighbor's house which it seems Hamas had mined.
As Hail, in his mid-30s, sat on his porch and thought about what to do a man came by: He was from Hamas and had left something in Hail's home. He let him in and the man then emerged with a bullet proof vest, a rocket launcher and an ammunitions belt. An hour later a fighter with Islamic Jihad called to the door, then disappeared onto the roof and reappeared with a box of ammunition. "The abused civilians' homes for their own purposes. That is not right," Hail says with disgust while trying to remain polite.
In contrast to many of their neighbors the Sadala family is doing comparatively well. They have all survived and the house could theoretically still be repaired. Mohammed Sadala is of another opinion: "There is no way," he says. What happened in his bedroom cannot be covered up just by cleaning. The worst is that he now knows who died in the room. It was Bilal Haj Ali. Sadala knows this because the young mans brothers came to visit a few days ago. They wanted to see the place where Bilal became a martyr. "I did let them in but I hardly spoke a word with them," he says.
The young men took photos of the remains of their brother with their mobile phones. "But they didn't want to clean it up," Sadala says. "I told them not to show their faces here ever again."
02-03-2009, 09:15 AM
the Israeli ***** IAF killed so many Palestinian children and women a month ago, but the Palestinian people still want longlasting peace with the Israeli's. May God bless their hearts, they are the bravest!
02-03-2009, 10:24 AM
02-08-2009, 12:59 PM
Wow, really? The UNRWA employs terrorists, protects Hamas, lies about Israeli actions, and doesn't do its job? You don't say.A United Nations agency's suspension Friday of aid into Gaza is the latest in a series this week of tougher stances against Hamas — in contrast to the U.N.'s criticisms of Israel during its battle with Hamas in Gaza in late December and January.
The suspension of aid was in response to armed Hamas militants on Thursday stealing hundreds of tons of food intended for Palestinians by armed Hamas militants.
Also this week, the U.N. reversed its earlier claims that Israeli Defense Forces had bombed a school in Gaza administered by the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA). On Tuesday, the U.N.'s Office for Humanitarian Affairs issued a report on the Jan. 6 incident that claimed the lives of 43 Palestinians, stating that "the shelling, and all of the fatalities, took place outside rather than inside the school."
Separately, Radhika Coomaraswamy, U.N. special representative for children and armed conflict told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the organization will investigate the use by Hamas of children as human shields during the three-week Israeli military operation in Gaza.
Though the U.N. as recently as Thursday criticized Israel, for the seizure of a shipment bound for Gaza, its rhetoric against the Jewish state has softened considerably. Its statements on the Jan. 6 shelling, for example, had set off talk of potentially trying Israeli leaders in European domestic courts under "universal jurisdiction" for war crimes.
Click to view photos from the conflict.
IDF officials said at the time of the shelling that their soldiers were returning fire at Hamas militants launching mortars. UNRWA, however, focused blame for the attacks squarely on the Jewish state. "Those in the school were all families seeking refuge," said UNRWA's director of Gaza operations John Ging said immediately afterward. "There's nowhere safe in Gaza."
Following an investigation conducted by the Toronto Globe and Mail late last month, UNRWA officials acknowledged that no one inside the school died. An UNRWA spokesman told the paper that it had not claimed that people inside the school had died, but a UN report days later said that the school was "directly hit."
Throughout the three-week conflict, UNRWA offered little public criticism of Hamas. In an interview last month with FOXNews.com, an UNRWA spokesman acknowledged that the agency's facilities and aid shipments did not enjoy armed security. He claimed that armed security was not needed because the agency had successfully employed "moral suasion" with Hamas to convince the terrorist group that any actions against UNRWA would harm Palestinian aid recipients.
"If someone came in with guns," the UNRWA spokesman explained, "the people inside would probably kick him out."
Twice this week, Hamas gunmen have stolen emergency aid shipments in Gaza.
On Tuesday, 3,500 blankets and over 400 food parcels were taken at gunpoint in Beach Camp, Gaza. Then on Thursday, 10 truckloads of flour and rice were stolen, again at gunpoint.
"Hamas knows very well what they have to do if they want us to resume aid into Gaza," UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness said in an interview with FOXNews.com. "The aid must be returned and we must be given credible assurances from Hamas that there will be no repeat of these thefts." He added, "This is a very strong position."
After the looting of blankets and food, but before the second theft, Ging, UNRWA operations director, strongly criticized Hamas' actions. Noting that while Hamas leaders were largely underground, he said that "those above ground seem bent on acting in a reckless manner."
UNRWA's criticisms of Hamas were welcomed on Capitol Hill, but they are unlikely to quell efforts to bring greater oversight and accountability of the agency. Over 40 members of Congress now have signed onto a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for an independent audit of UNRWA. The letter was drafted by Reps. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Steve Rothman, D-N.J.
"It's an agency that's increasingly held in disrepute on Capitol Hill," Kirk said. "But this new posture may be an effort to forestall an independent audit."
Kirk is also a co-sponsor of legislation introduced last week by Rothman calling for greater transparency at UNRWA, insisting that the agency put its textbooks on the Internet and screen its payroll against terrorist databases of members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian-based organizations. UNRWA admitted to FOXNews.com that it currently only screens its employees against a watchlist of roughly 500 Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, most of whom live in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"When it comes to fighting terrorist organizations, it's better late than never," Kirk said.
He added that he long had been miffed by what he believes has been UNRWA's ambivalence toward Hamas.
"I always wondered why the United Nations didn't address an entity dedicated to the destruction of a member nation of the U.N.," he said. "You think it would be basic that a U.N. agency would defend the existence of members of the U.N."
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