woensdag 7 januari 2009

Arabische media over smokkeltunnels en weerstand tegen Israelisch standpunt belichten

Vooral het eerste stuk over de tunnels en hoe Israel hoopt te voorkomen dat Hamas straks weer nieuwe tunnels kan bouwen en zich herbewapenen, is interessant. Hier word beweerd, en dat neem ik ook aan, dat het vooral van eventuele nieuwe tunnels af zal hangen in hoeverre Hamas zich straks weer kan herstellen. Dit is in de media echter nogal onderbelicht.

Excerpts: Smuggling tunnels: Egypt to Gaza. No coverage of Israeli side
January 05, 2009

+++SAUDI GAZETTE 5 Dan.'09:"Israel seeks closing tunnels on Egypt's border - officials "
By Adam Entous and Dan Williams ,Reuters
QUOTE:"Israel estimated there were hundreds of smuggling tunnels. Palestinians say there were at least 3,000."
JERUSALEM - Israel has conditioned any halt to its Gaza Strip offensive on international backing for new fortifications and monitoring on the Egyptian border to prevent Hamas from rebuilding tunnels and rearming, officials said.
The sandy, 14 km (9 mile)-long Gaza-Egypt frontier has long been criss-crossed by a network of tunnels which allowed Palestinians in the coastal enclave to smuggle in weapons and commercial goods, circumventing an Israeli-led blockade.
Israel's eight-day-old assault on Gaza has included several air force sorties in which "bunker buster" bombs were dropped on the so-called Philadelphi corridor, exploding underground and sending out shockwaves designed to collapse the secret passages.
Military officials said the objective was to destroy all of the tunnels, and the Israeli government has said it wants assurances that they will not be dug anew after any ceasefire.
"The issue of rearming is fundamental. We want to prevent Hamas from being rearmed like Hezbollah was after the Lebanon war," a senior Israeli official said, referring to the 34-day conflict with the Lebanese Shi'ite guerrilla group in 2006, which ended with the beefing up of a UN peacekeeper force.
Officials said Israel was so far unsatisfied with European proposals for ending the offensive by establishing an "international presence" along the Egyptian-Gaza border.
Israel wants any monitors to be heavily armed and equipped to search and destroy tunnels, which Hamas and other Palestinian factions guard jealously given their strategic importance.
A second Israeli official said Israel proposed the United States make its Army Corps of Engineers available to tackle the tunnels, and that the American response was "positive," though talks were still under way.
One ambitious option, Israeli officials said, was to build an underground wall on the Egyptian side of the Philadelphi corridor, but doing so would take many months and it was unclear whether Cairo would agree.

The Corps of Engineers has worked on the tunnels issue before but the effort has been limited, officials said.
A Western official familiar with the current Israeli-US discussions said: "The US position would be that it would want to prevent further smuggling of items between Egypt and Gaza."
Taking out the tunnels would make it difficult for Hamas to recover, both as a military organization and as a government.
"Theoretically, if those 9 miles are denied to Hamas as a resupply route, then Hamas is going to find it very, very difficult to govern, let alone smuggle in Grad and Katyusha rockets," said Matt Levitt, a US expert on militant financing and former senior Treasury official.
But without fortifications and a more serious crackdown along the Egyptian border, Israel believes the tunnels can be reestablished in as little as 3-6 months, officials said.
Before the current offensive, Israel estimated there were hundreds of smuggling tunnels. Palestinians say there were at least 3,000.
The tunnels include deep passages wide enough to bring through items as large as Katyusha rockets and farm animals. Leading to these are a matrix of smaller access shafts. - Reuters

+++JORDAN TIMES 5 Jan,'09:"Journalists urge Arab media outlets to stop interviewing Israeli officials"
By Thameen Kheetan
QUOTE:"campaign urging the Arab media to refrain from interviewing Israeli officials"
EXCERPTS:AMMAN - A group of Jordanian journalists have started a campaign urging the Arabic media to refrain from interviewing Israeli officials in order to avoid "justifying" ongoing attacks on the Gaza Strip.
In a statement published on the Amman-based Khaberny news website, media activists said Israelis "exploit" the Arab media to "promote the Zionist perspective of the aggression and massacres" occurring in the besieged coastal enclave.
The website said it posted the statement which, as of yesterday, attracted the signatures of 44 journalists since last Sunday, one day after Israeli air strikes began hitting Gaza and claiming the lives of more than 485 people.
According to activists, "serving the Palestinian cause" during times of crisis is more important than journalistic codes of conduct.
"In such a situation, professionalism should be placed aside and the national mood should take priority," former president of the Jordan Press Association Tareq Momani told The Jordan Times, .  .  .
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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