Posts Tagged ‘gaza strip’

An Israeli left wing activist holds a sign during a protest against the Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009. Israeli forces pounded rocket-launching sites and smuggling tunnels in Gaza Saturday and planes dropped leaflets warning of an escalation in attacks, as Palestinian militants fired at least 15 more rockets at Israel. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

An Israeli left wing activist holds a sign during a protest against the Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009. Israeli forces pounded rocket-launching sites and smuggling tunnels in Gaza Saturday and planes dropped leaflets warning of an escalation in attacks, as Palestinian militants fired at least 15 more rockets at Israel. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Israel dropped bombs and leaflets on Gaza on Saturday, pounding suspected rocket sites and tunnels used by Hamas militants and warning of a wider offensive despite frantic diplomacy to end the bloodshed.

According to The Associated Press(AP), Egypt hosted talks aimed at defusing the crisis, but war had the momentum on a bloody day on which more than 30 Palestinians, many of them noncombatants, were killed, according to Gaza medics. Hamas fighters launched 15 rockets at southern Israel, injuring three Israelis in the city of Ashkelon, the Israeli military said.

At hospitals, distraught relatives -men in jeans and jackets and women in black Islamic robes- sobbed and shrieked at the loss of family. Flames and smoke rose over Gaza City amid heavy fighting.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas predicted a ‘waterfall of blood’ unless all parties adhere to a United Nations call for a cease-fire. But Israel has said the Security Council resolution passed Thursday was unworkable and Hamas, the Islamic group whose government controls Gaza but is not recognized internationally, was angry that it was not consulted.

Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal made a fiery speech on Arab news channel Al-Jazeera, describing the Israeli assault as a ‘holocaust.’ Still, Hamas teams were in Cairo to discuss a cease-fire proposed by Egypt.

At least 814 Palestinians, roughly half of them civilians, have died since war broke out on Dec. 27, according to Palestinian medical officials. Thirteen Israelis, including 10 soldiers, have been killed.

Weary Palestinians watched from apartment windows as thousands of leaflets fluttered from aircraft with a blunt warning: Israeli forces will step up operations against Islamic militants who have unleashed a daily barrage of rocket fire on southern Israeli towns.

‘The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) is not working against the people of Gaza but against Hamas and the terrorists only,’ the leaflets said in Arabic. “Stay safe by following our orders.’

The leaflets urged Gaza residents not to help Hamas and to stay away from its members. There was no immediate sign of an escalation, though earlier in the day, witnesses said Israeli troops moved to within one mile of Gaza City before pulling back slightly.

Israeli defense officials say they are prepared for a third stage of their offensive, in which ground troops would push further into Gaza, but are waiting for approval from the government. Early on Sunday, Israeli tanks were heard moving near the central Gaza border as Israeli artilley pounded the area, indicating the possibility of a larger operation.

Palestinian witnesses said Israeli forces fired phosphorus shells at Khouza, a village near the border, setting a row of houses on fire. Hospital official Dr. Yusuf Abu Rish said a woman was killed and more than 100 injured, most suffering from gas inhalation and burns. Israeli military spokesman Capt. Guy Spigelman categorically dened the claims.

The Israeli military said it did not know of such an incident. Also, Hamas security officials said fierce battles were in progress early Sunday in eastern Gaza City and northern Gaza.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were discussing classified information, said the army also has a fourth stage planned that calls for a full reoccupation of Gaza and toppling of Hamas.

The leaflets reflected Israeli efforts to cast Hamas as the source of the conflict that has brought additional misery to Gaza’s 1.4 million people, who live in poverty in the densely inhabited shard of land along the Mediterranean. Israel hopes the suffering will erode support for Hamas, which won 2006 elections and engineered a violent takeover of Gaza in June 2007, overrunning the forces of its Palestinian rival Fatah.

For now, though, the fury of the Israeli onslaught has deepened bitterness toward Israel among trapped Gaza residents. Traffic through border crossings with Egypt and Israel is heavily restricted, and many Gazans survive on international handouts or goods smuggled through tunnels that are also used by Hamas to bring in weapons.

Israel launched the offensive on Dec. 27 after years of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel, and has attributed many civilian casualties in the past two weeks to Hamas’s alleged use of civilian areas as hiding places and staging grounds for attacks.

On Jan. 3, Israeli ground troops moved into Gaza, but they have largely avoided deployment in built-up areas where they would be more vulnerable to hit-and-run assaults. Israel holds elections in one month, and its leaders know staunch support for the military campaign could dwindle if the forces take heavy casualties.

The 15 rockets launched at southern Israel are part of a daily ritual that has severely disrupted life for hundreds of thousands of civilians. Three Israelis were injured in the city of Ashkelon.

The Israeli military said aircraft attacked more than 40 Hamas targets including 10 rocket-launching sites, weapons-storage facilities, smuggling tunnels, an anti-aircraft missile launcher and gunmen. At least 15 militants were killed, it said.

In the day’s bloodiest incident, an Israeli tank shell killed nine people in a garden outside a home in the northern Gaza town of Jebaliya, said Adham el-Hakim, administrator of Kamal Adwan hospital. The nine were from the same clan and included two children and two women.

The Israeli military, however, said its forces did not carry out attacks in that area on Saturday.

Struggling to keep peace efforts alive, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Abbas urged Israel and Hamas to agree to a truce.

After meeting Mubarak, Abbas warned there was no time to waste in ending the bloodshed in Gaza.

‘If any party does not accept it (the truce), regrettably it will be the one bearing the responsibility. And if Israel doesn’t want to accept, it will take the responsibility of perpetuating a waterfall of blood,’ Abbas said.

Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah party, which dominates the West Bank, are fierce political rivals.

Hamas officials from both Gaza and Syria are also in Cairo for separate talks with Egyptian officials on a truce. Israeli officials were in Cairo earlier this week.

U.S. President George W. Bush spoke by telephone to President Abdullah Gul of Turkey, which is involved in Mideast peace efforts, about the situation in Gaza, said a spokesman for the National Security Council in Washington.

‘President Bush emphasized the importance of bringing an end to rocket fire against Israel and preventing arms smuggling into Gaza as the basis for a durable cease-fire,’ spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on a peace mission to the region, visited the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt and saw a fireball from a large detonation in Gaza. He felt the pressure from the blast, which caused windows to rattle.

‘We are standing here while the fighting is still on back there,’ said Steinmeier, who later traveled to Israel. ‘It is right and correct to be concerned about the injured and the dead, but the European foreign ministers must do more so that words can be turned into deeds.’

The U.N. estimates two-thirds of Gaza’s 1.4 million people now lack electricity, and half don’t have running water.

The Israeli military announced a three-hour halt to operations in Gaza on Saturday to let medics use the lull to rescue casualties and aid groups to rush through food distribution. But for the second straight day, fighting continued even during the lull.

Israel has called for the three-hour breaks in fighting for the past four days. But aid groups say it isn’t enough time to do their work.

Also on Saturday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in European cities and Lebanon, shouting protests against the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

P/S: Honestly saying, I think the israelis are being diagnose of some hearing problem of somewhat at the current moment when they’re clearly are turning deaf ears to the world shouting at them for cease-fire and peace.

Advertisements

Israeli missiles launched into Gaza Strip aimed at the death and destruction of the Palestinian people. Nearly 500 people have been massacred in the latest fighting.

Israeli missiles launched into Gaza Strip aimed at the death and destruction of the Palestinian people.

Reuters reported that Israel rejected a U.N. resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza on Friday and, as jets and tanks again pounded the Palestinian enclave, ministers debated whether to step up their two-week-old campaign against Hamas guerrillas.

With the civilian death toll in the hundreds and rising amid outraged denunciations of Israel from the Red Cross, United Nations agencies and Arab and European governments, diplomats also sounded an alarm that Egyptian-brokered truce talks launched this week might also be foundering.

Israel’s air force said it hit over 50 targets. Palestinian medics counted at least 18 dead, including civilians.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected the Security Council resolution calling for an “‘immediate and durable’ cease-fire as ‘unworkable.’ He issued his statement while a meeting with his security cabinet continued, looking at whether to send in reservists for a push into the main urban centres.

Israeli warplanes dropped bombs on the outskirts of the city of Gaza, residents said. Elsewhere, Palestinian medics said tanks shelled a house in Beit Lahiya in the north of the Gaza Strip, killing six Palestinians from the same family.

A U.N. agency said in a report that 30 Palestinians were killed earlier this week when the Israeli army sheltered dozens of civilians in a house which was later hit by shells.

Noting Palestinians fired more rockets at Israel on Friday, Olmert said the army would go on with its mission.

‘The firing of rockets this morning only goes to show that the U.N. decision is unworkable and will not be adhered to by the murderous Palestinian organisations,’ he said.

‘The IDF will continue to act in order to protect the citizens of Israel and will achieve the goals that were set for the operation.’

Israel says it wants to stop rockets landing on its towns. At least 14 were fired on Friday, fewer than the dozens Hamas was able to launch in the early days of the war. Hamas officials said they were looking at the U.N. resolution.

Israel’s key ally the United States abstained in the U.N. vote, easing the pressure on the Jewish state, while noting talks on a truce were still under way under Egyptian mediation.

TALKS IN TROUBLE

That Egyptian initiative, brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy earlier in the week, may be in trouble, however.

‘The truce talks are going nowhere at the moment,’ a senior European diplomat told Reuters. ‘There is a growing sense that the Egyptian-French plan is not going to work.’

European and Israeli diplomats told Reuters that Egypt was objecting to proposals that foreign troops and technicians be stationed on its 15-km border with the Gaza Strip as part of a deal to meet Israeli demands that Hamas be denied the opportunity to rearm after a truce through smuggling tunnels.

Instead, diplomats said, Egypt was ready to accept technical assistance for its own forces on the border, which Israel argues have hitherto failed to prevent Hamas building up an arsenal of hundreds of smuggled, Soviet-designed Katyusha missiles as well as, possibly, sophisticated anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons.

Olmert’s security cabinet on Wednesday put off a decision on whether to launch a massive escalation of the offensive on Hamas guerrillas by moving troops in a third phase deep into urban areas, a move that would mean calling in reservists. Officials said ministers were discussing the proposal again on Friday.

The onslaught in Gaza, where many civilians including children have been killed, has solid support among Israeli voters who go to the polls in a month. A poll on Friday showed over 90 percent support among Israel’s Jewish majority.

A poll showed that Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s Labour party has held on to sharp gains it has made since war began, though it still trails Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s Kadima, which is running close behind the right-wing Likud opposition. Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud’s leader, has also thrown strong support behind the war.

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, governed by Hamas’s rival Fatah movement under President Mahmoud Abbas, have been enraged by the Israeli offensive, and Israeli forces and Abbas’s police were on high alert on Friday, although there were only minor clashes around weekly prayers at mosques.

Several thousand people demonstrated and burnt Israeli flags in Hebron, a Hamas stronghold in the West Bank.

CASUALTIES

The Israeli air force hit at least 50 targets across the enclave, including launching pads for rockets and facilities used to manufacture rockets, an army spokesman said.

Israel’s military commanders appeared keen to pursue what was termed a third stage of the operation with additional ground troops being sent into the heart of Gaza’s built-up areas to flush out more gunmen and to try to secure more gains.

The Israeli army said it was, for the third day running, holding fire for three hours from 1 p.m. to let people stock up on food and other supplies.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers sent mixed signals about the resolution. Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha said the group did not recognise the resolution as it had not been consulted. Another spokesman said Hamas was ‘studying’ the resolution.

The resolution called for arrangements to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza and for its borders to be opened. It said there should be ‘unimpeded provision’ and distribution of aid to the territory, home to 1.5 million people.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which distributes much of the aid in Gaza, kept its operations suspended on Friday after the death of one of its drivers in Israel’s offensive.

Hamas officials said the Palestinian death toll had risen to 783. Ten soldiers have been killed in the campaign launched by Israel to crush Hamas forces and halt the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel. Israel says it is doing what it can to avoid civilian casualties but accuses Hamas of deliberately placing its fighters close to homes and mosques.

Rockets have killed three Israeli civilians since the offensive began. Israel has said it accepts the ‘principles’ of the cease-fire proposal by Egypt and the European Union, and Washington has urged the Jewish state to study the details.

Israeli Army soldiers take cover as a mobile artillery piece fires towards targets in the southern Gaza Strip, on the Israel side of the border with Gaza Tuesday, Jan 6, 2009.

Israeli Army soldiers take cover as a mobile artillery piece fires towards targets in the southern Gaza Strip, on the Israel side of the border with Gaza Tuesday, Jan 6, 2009.

More update on the Israel missile raids from The Associated Press (AP) that Israeli forces edged closer to Gaza’s major population centers on Tuesday and attacked new sites, including a U.N. school, taking more civilian lives after ignoring mounting international calls for an immediate cease-fire. A Palestinian rocket attack wounded an Israeli infant.

The United Nations said three civilians were killed in the airstrike on its school, where hundreds of people from a Gaza City refugee camp had gone to seek shelter from Israel’s blistering 11-day offensive against the Hamas militant group.

The missile landed in a courtyard late Monday, causing minor damage to the building.

U.N. officials say they provided their location coordinates to Israel’s army to ensure that their buildings in Gaza are not targeted. The Israeli army had no comment on the latest strikes, but in the past has accused militants of using schools, mosques and residential neighborhoods to store weapons or launch attacks.

Israel launched its offensive on Dec. 27 to halt repeated Palestinian rocket attacks on its southern towns. After a weeklong air campaign, Israeli ground forces invaded Gaza over the weekend. More than 500 Palestinians have been killed, including more than 100 civilians, according to United Nations figures. Nine Israelis have died since the operation began.

In other fighting early Tuesday, at least 18 Palestinians were killed in shelling from tanks and naval craft, local hospital officials said. Only two of the dead were confirmed as militants.

Tanks rumbled closer to the towns of Khan Younis and Dir el Balah in south and central Gaza but were still several kilometers (miles) outside, witnesses said, adding that the sounds of fighting could be heard from around the new Israeli positions. Israel already has encircled Gaza City, the area’s biggest city.

The rising civilian death toll has drawn international condemnations and raised concerns of a looming humanitarian disaster. Many Gazans are without electricity or running water, thousands have been displaced from their homes and residents say that without distribution disrupted, food supplies are running thin.

Israel says it won’t stop the assault until its southern towns are freed of the threat of Palestinian rocket fire and it receives international guarantees that Hamas, a militant group backed by Iran and Syria, will not restock its weapons stockpile. It blames Hamas for the civilian casualties, saying the group intentionally seeks cover in crowded residential areas.

‘The battle is bitter but unavoidable. We set out on this operation in order to deal Hamas a heavy blow and to alter living conditions in the south of the country and to block smuggling into the Gaza Strip,’ Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

The army says it has dealt a harsh blow to Hamas, killing 130 militants in the past two days and greatly reducing the rocket fire. At least 15 rockets were fired Tuesday and one landed in the town of Gadera, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the Gaza border, lightly wounding a 3-month-old infant, police said. At the outset of the fighting, militants launched dozens of rockets each day.

Hamas is believed to have 20,000 fighters.
Israeli forces have cut the main Gaza highway in several places, cutting the strip into northern, southern and central sectors and preventing movement between them. Israel also has taken over high-rise buildings in Gaza City and destroyed dozens of smuggling tunnels —Hamas’ main lifeline— along the Egyptian border.

Late Monday, a paratroop officer and three Israeli infantrymen were killed in two separate friendly fire incidents, the military said. Heavy Israeli casualties could threaten to undermine what so far has been wide public support for the operation.

A high-level European Union delegation met with President Shimon Peres on Tuesday in a futile bid to put an end to the violence. Commissioner Benita Ferraro-Waldner acknowledged Israel’s right to self-defense, but said its response was disproportionate.

‘We have come to Israel in order to advance the initiative for a humanitarian cease-fire and I will tell you, Mr. President, that you have a serious problem with international advocacy, and that Israel’s image is being destroyed,’ she said, according to a statement from Peres’ office.

In Geneva, the international Red Cross said Gaza was in a ‘full-blown’ humanitarian crisis. Its head of operations, Pierre Kraehenbuehl, said the few remaining power supplies could collapse at any moment.

Israeli leaders say there is no humanitarian crisis and that they have allowed the delivery of vital supplies.
The EU delegation was one of a flurry of diplomatic efforts to forge a cease-fire. French President Nicolas Sarkozy left Israel after a day of meetings with leaders.

Europe ‘wants a cease-fire as quickly as possible,’ Sarkozy said Monday, urging Israel to halt the offensive, while blaming Hamas for acting ‘irresponsibly and unpardonably.’

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stressed to Sarkozy that any agreement ‘must contain at its foundation the total cessation of all arms transfers to Hamas,’ said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev.

Regev noted that Hamas used a previous six-month truce to double the range of its rockets. About one-eighth of Israel’s 7 million citizens now live in rocket range.

In New York, Arab delegates met with the U.N. Security Council, urging members to adopt a resolution calling for an immediate end to the attacks and a permanent cease-fire.

In Washington, the State Department said the U.S. was pressing for a cease-fire that would include a halt to rocket attacks and an arrangement for reopening crossings on the border with Israel, said spokesman Sean McCormack.

The crossings, used to deliver vital food shipments into Gaza, have been largely closed since Hamas took control of Gaza in June 2007. A third element of a U.S.-backed cease-fire would address the smuggling tunnels used by Hamas.

U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said the overall Palestinian toll since the opening of the Gaza campaign on Dec. 27 stood at about 500, with about 125 of them civilians.

Israeli forces detained 80 Palestinians -some of them suspected Hamas members- and transferred several to Israel for interrogation, said military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to release the information.

Israel’s operation has angered many across the Arab world and has drawn criticism from countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Jordan, which have ties with Israel and have been intimately involved in Mideast peacemaking.

P/S: Even my class discussing this topic like mad. At one side they concur of what the Israelis are doing, that’s just protecting their ‘territory’ and the other just despises Israelis and said they don’t even deserve the title ‘country’ as they only taking over someone else’s land to make their own by force.

Hurmm. . . and how about you?