eyeless in gaza
Before I talk about the war on Gaza, I’d like to present a little background information.
Not long ago the Palestinians were informed of the decree establishing the sealing of Gaza.
Gaza was sealed off by checkpoints and a high wall. Its construction took many months to complete. The work was carried out by the construction firm Schmidt & Münstermann. The Gaza wall was 3.5 m high, topped by glass and barbed wire.
There were already 445 deaths in Gaza. The death toll thereafter rose rapidly: in January 2009 to 898. Then the monthly figure fluctuated.
Gaza's ties with the outside world were handled by the Transferstelle, an Israeli authority that was in charge of the traffic of goods, both into and out of Gaza.
Several methods were employed to carry out the smuggling operations: through buildings that were connected with buildings on the Israeli side, across the wall, through camouflaged openings in the wall and through underground tunnels. Smuggling on a larger scale also took place at the gates. Policemen, soldiers, Palestinians, and Jews were involved, bribery was the order of the day. The tunnels were bombed mercilessly.
And despite that, without paying attention to the victims, the smuggling never stopped for a moment. When the street was still slippery with the blood that had been spilled, other [smugglers] already set out, as soon as the "candles"** had signaled that the way was clear, to carry on with the work....
Children and women were also engaged on a smaller scale, risking their lives too. Every day smugglers were caught, paying the ultimate sacrifice. According to press accounts the necessary food, smuggled into Gaza, represented 80% of all the products brought in.
You will notice that there are inaccuracies and peculiarities in the account I just read. That is because it is not an account of the condition of Gaza, it is a pastiche of accounts of conditions in the Warsaw Ghetto. I just changed a few words--I changed "ghetto" for "Gaza," German for Israeli, 1941 for 2009, and I added the phrase "the tunnels were bombed mercilessly" out of whole cloth. But the sealing of the area, the desperation, the intent of extermination, is much the same. To be fair, Israel intends to let starvation do the work entirely, rather than rushing the Palestinians off to death camps.
Does Israel intend a wider war? More on that in a moment.
You may wish to call Oregon Senator Ron Wyden at 503-326-7525, to give him your opinion. His motto is "standing up for Oregon."
And now, some unfiltered information about the Gaza attack:
Gaza death toll tops 700 as Israel prepares new escalation
By Bill Van Auken
8 January 2009
Israeli military forces resumed their assault on Gaza Wednesday following a three-hour truce, which itself was marked by sporadic attacks. According to reports in the Israeli press, the government is discussing a major escalation of the assault on Gaza, even as it claims to welcome efforts by France, Egypt and other countries to broker a ceasefire.
Medical authorities in Gaza Wednesday put the death toll in the 12-day Israeli military siege at over 700, including 219 children and 89 women. The number of wounded, meanwhile, has risen to over 3,100—46 percent of them women and children.
The stated aim of Wednesday's brief suspension of hostilities was to allow Gaza's 1.5 million people to venture out in search of food and other supplies and to allow aid convoys into the territory. Aid officials made clear, however, that the respite was entirely inadequate to distribute food, fuel and other necessities of life to a population that is on the brink of starvation following not only the last 12 days of bombardment, but also the 18 months of Israeli economic blockade that preceded it.
Gazans did use the brief cease-fire, however, to bury their dead and dig out more bodies from the rubble.
Tens of thousands attended a mass funeral in the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza for the civilians massacred there Tuesday, when Israeli forces deliberately shelled the UN-run al-Fakhora school, where they had sought refuge.
The death toll in the attack, the single bloodiest action since the Israeli onslaught began on December 27, rose to 46 Wednesday as four more gravely wounded victims died in Gaza hospitals.
Standing before the bodies of men women, children and elderly people wrapped in white shrouds and the green and yellow flags of Hamas and Fatah, the massive crowd at Wednesday's funeral shouted slogans demanding that Israeli officials be tried as war criminals and calling for revenge.
John Ging, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip, dismissed Israeli claims that its forces had shelled the school after coming under mortar fire from the facility. "I can tell you categorically that there was no militant activity in that school at the time of that tragedy," he told the Al Jazeera news agency. "They were innocent people," Ging said of 350 Palestinians who sought safety in the school after fleeing the Israeli invaders.
"We are completely devastated. There is nowhere safe in Gaza," Ging added. Approximately 15,000 Palestinians have fled to the 23 UN-run schools in the territory in hopes of finding security. Another school was also bombed Tuesday, killing another three Palestinians.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned these attacks, calling them "totally unacceptable." He said in a statement, "After earlier strikes, the Israeli government was warned that its operations were endangering UN compounds. I am deeply dismayed that despite these repeated efforts, today's tragedies have ensued." The UN called for a formal investigation into the Jabalya massacre.
The Israeli decision to suspend its military operations for three hours and open up what it touted as a "humanitarian corridor" was widely seen as a public relations gesture aimed at diverting public attention from the atrocity carried out the day before. The maneuver proved largely successful in terms of media coverage in the West, where no government appears inclined to hold the Israeli regime responsible for its crimes.
As for the UN, it held a session on Gaza Wednesday in which various foreign ministers spoke out against the Israeli operation, but no action was taken. The US has systematically blocked any resolution demanding an end to the assault on Gaza.
The attack on the Jabalya school recalls a similar atrocity carried out by the Israeli military in its "Operation Grapes of Wrath" attack on southern Lebanon in 1996, when it rained artillery fire on a UN compound in the village of Qana, where some 800 civilians had taken refuge from the fighting. That attack killed 106 people. [more at wsws.org]
Official: Israel turns back Jordanian blood truck
www.chinaview.cn 2009-01-07 15:21:11
Special report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts
AMMAN, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Israel has turned back a Jordanian truck carrying blood unit for Gazans, an official from the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO) was quoted by local daily The Jordan Times on Wednesday as saying.
The truck was laden with 2,000 blood units, but was denied entry to the Palestinian territories by Israeli authorities on Tuesday, said the official on condition of anonymity.
Director of the Health Ministry's National Blood Bank Nidal Irshaid said the shipment would leave early Wednesday to the besieged enclave.
On Tuesday, the JHCO sent a 10-truck convoy laden with foodstuffs and medical supplies to the besieged Gaza Strip.
Jordan has launched a national donation campaign for Gazans and started a daily delivery of aids to the besieged strip soon after the Israeli offensive against Gaza on Dec. 27.
So far, the JHCO has sent 251 aid convoys to the Palestinian territories coordinated with UNRWA, known as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, and Health Ministry indicated the kingdom's blood banks have collected more than 8,000 blood units.
BEIRUT (AFP) - Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Wednesday ""all possibilities"" are open against Israel and warned the Tel Aviv's 2006 war with his party would resemble ""a walk in the park"" in the event of renewed conflict.
""We have to act as though all possibilities are real and open (against Israel) and we must always be ready for any eventuality,"" said Nasrallah. His comment marked the first time he has spoken so openly on the possibility of a renewed conflict with Israel since the war in Gaza began on December 27.
Nasrallah, addressing tens of thousands of supporters via video link at his stronghold in Beirut's suburbs on the occasion of Ashura, said that the 2006 conflict would be nothing compared to what awaits Israel if it opens a second front.
Nasrallah then addressed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, saying, "Your 2006 war will be but a walk in the park, compared to what we have prepared for you in the event of a new offensive.
""We are ready to sacrifice our souls, our brothers and sisters, our children, our loved ones for what we believe in,"" he said. ""We will not abandon the fight or our weapons.""
Nasrallah in his speech Wednesday also reiterated criticism of Egypt for refusing to open its border with Gaza and blasted the UN Security Council for failing to denounce the Israeli offensive that has killed nearly 700 Palestinians.
""Does the government in Egypt need more than 650 martyrs and 2,500 wounded to open the Rafah crossing once and for all to help the people of Gaza toward victory?"" Nasrallah said. ""I am simply asking for the opening of a crossing and not another front.""
So Nasrallah is being cautions, but the Israelis have obviously anticipated that things may not go so quietly. Here is an article from the Guardian:
Israel military keeps wary eye on northern border
Some of the thousands of extra reservists called up by the Israeli military are to be held ready in case of conflict on Israel's northern border with Lebanon, the scene of a long and costly battle two years ago.
As Israeli troops invaded Gaza on Saturday night, the defence minister, Ehud Barak, warned that the military was monitoring the northern border.
"While we are fighting in Gaza, we keep an open eye on the sensitive situation in our northern border," he said. "We hope the situation there will remain calm; nevertheless we are ready and alert to face any unwarranted development in that area."
Last week, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, said he had put his forces on alert. Israel believes Hezbollah has rearmed itself, yet there has been no sign that the group is ready for another conflict. Since the summer of 2006, when Hezbollah and Israel fought a bloody conflict that claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Lebanese and more than 100 Israelis, the border has been quiet, with a UN monitoring force patrolling in southern Lebanon.
Hezbollah is not seen to be in a strong enough position within Lebanon to launch another major confrontation. Parliamentary elections are due in May and few believe the movement would risk upsetting its position ahead of the ballot.
Hamas's key backer in the region, Iran, has stepped up its rhetoric in response to the ground invasion and is coordinating with Syria to rally support for Palestinians. Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran's parliament, said yesterday that Gaza would turn into a "graveyard" for Israelis.
Iran's national security chief, Saeed Jalili, held talks in Beirut with Nasrallah, and on Saturday was in Damascus, meeting Hamas's exiled leader, Khaled Meshal.
Iran supports Hamas's demand that the blockade of Gaza be lifted and border crossing points into Egypt be permanently opened. Diplomats say Tehran is encouraging Hamas to oppose the Egyptian idea that the borders can be opened only if there is a monitoring role for the Palestinian Authority (PA), which controls the West Bank and is recognised internationally as the legitimate Palestinian government.
Iran and Syria support Hamas while all other Arab countries formally back the PA. But Egypt and Jordan, which have peace treaties with Israel, condemned the Gaza incursion yesterday.
Since Israel's offensive began on 27 December, Iran has called for the wholesale support of the Muslim world and condemned the silence of western-backed Arab states. "The failure of some countries to move effectively regarding Israeli terrorism, as well as silence over this terrorism, will have negative effects on the status of these countries," Jalili warned, said the Syrian news agency Sana.
Jalili underlined Iran's strategic link with Hezbollah and Syria by visiting the tomb of its military leader, Imad Mughniyeh, assassinated in Damascus last February in a killing blamed on Israel.
Israeli officials claim Iran is the source of some of the longer-range rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel and smuggled across the Egyptian border during the six-month ceasefire that ended in mid-December. Iran routinely denies transferring weapons to Hamas. But the former president, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, said during Friday prayers: "The oppressed Palestinian people can stand up to Israel if they get political, [and] financial support, as well as weapons."
The question I am raising here is whether Israel intends a regional war, first attacking Gaza to produce a handy final solution there, thus provoking Hezbollah or maybe even faking an attack from them, then pointing the finger at Iran. Compare the English article, then, to the militant Israeli war site Debka:
After five rockets from Lebanon exploded in the Nahariya-Kabri district, early Thursday, Jan. 8, West Galilee police ordered people to stay under cover, like citizens in the south for the past month. One rocket hit a home for retired citizens. Three were injured and 11 went into shock. Israeli aircraft and artillery shelled the source of fire. Schools were closed in the area and public shelters opened. Lebanese TV reported the rockets were fired from Wadi Hamoud south of the Litani River. Ashkelon and Ashdod also took rockets.
..........that's from debka.com.............
Debka is also raising the old “they have a nuke” canard:
The most up-to-date intelligence predictions of US nuclear experts is that by the end of 2009, Iran will have stocked enough weapons-grade fuel to build three nuclear bombs.
The first will be ready for assembly by the time Barack Obama is sworn in as US president on January 20, 2009; the second shortly after Israel’s February 10, 2009 general election produces a new prime minister, and the third by the end of the year.
Iran may deny the latest IAEA conclusion that it has stockpiled 630 kg of low-enriched uranium, enough to upgrade a nuclear weapon. But Tehran’s limited on-and-off cooperation with the nuclear watchdog leaves it wide open to the suspicion of a secret location churning out enriched uranium far from the declared Natanz facility.
[more at debka.com]
Sounds like a desire for regional war to me. The question is, does Debka reflect the attitude of the Israeli government?