zaterdag 10 januari 2009

IDF ontkent beschieting VN vrachtwagen in Gazastrook

Israelische soldaten zouden hebben gezien dat de vrachtwagen door Hamas werd beschoten:

According to the Magen David Adom medic who said he evacuated the Palestinians to an Israeli hospital, the truck came under Hamas sniper fire. The medic, who asked not to be named, said he got his information from soldiers in the field.   

De VN zegt dat haar beschuldiging ook is gebaseerd op mensen ter plekke:

Gunness said the UN had based its account on reports from truck drivers at the scene, who saw an Israeli tank nearby and "were in no doubt they had been fired upon."

Het is dus het woord van de vrachtwagenchauffeurs tegenover dat van de Israelische Rode Davidster die ook ter plekke was.

Het is moeilijk in zulke gevallen te achterhalen wat er precies is gebeurd, maar hier geldt was mij betreft voor Israel: innocent until proven guilty.

Last update - 16:02 10/01/2009

IDF denies shooting of UN truck in Gaza that killed relief worker
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent, and The Associated Press

The Israel Defense Forces on Saturday denied that Israeli soldiers had shot at a United Nations aid truck in a convoy headed to a Gaza crossing two days ago.

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) had initially accused Israeli troops on a two-week offensive against Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip of shooting at the UN convoy bringing humanitarian aid on Thursday, killing one worker.

An Israeli statement issued on Saturday said "the Israeli army did not fire upon the truck," and that those wounded in the shooting were treated at an Israeli hospital.
Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for UNRWA, said the agency had not accused Israel of deliberately targeting its personnel.

Gunness said the UN had based its account on reports from truck drivers at the scene, who saw an Israeli tank nearby and "were in no doubt they had been fired upon."

He urged Israel to release any photographs of the scene to "find out what happened."

An IDF source said Israel suspected Hamas was behind that shooting.

UN officials on Friday said they will resume their suspended humanitarian aid operations in Gaza as soon as possible, based on assurances from the Defense Ministry that aid workers be better protected.

A spokesperson for the Defense Ministry's Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories office said that Israel and the UN have come to a new agreement regarding the UN's relief work in Gaza.

UN spokeswoman Michele Montas said the Israeli military told senior UN officials at a high-level meeting at Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv that they deeply regretted the incidents that led the UN to suspend aid deliveries in the Gaza Strip on Thursday.

The UN halted movement of staff and deliveries to the Gaza Strip on Thursday after gunfire from an Israeli tank killed one aid truck driver and injured two others, Montas said. The international Red Cross also said it would restrict activities after one of its drivers was injured in a similar incident.

The UN received credible assurances that the security of UN personnel, installations, and humanitarian operations would be fully respected including undertakings of improved liaison and more effective internal coordination within the IDF, Montas said, using the initials of the Israeli Defense Force.

"On this basis, UN staff movements suspended yesterday will resume as soon as possible," she said.

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes called the announcement very good news and said the Israeli assurances were "exactly the assurances that we're seeking."

Holmes stressed that not all UN operations in Gaza were suspended - only those involving the movement of vehicles, which restricted aid deliveries.

UN staff in clinics and shelters, for example, remained on the job, he said.

"We hope now that all operations will be able to resume insofar as they can be carried out in the circumstances that we have - which is very limited to start," Holmes said.

"That's because not enough goods are coming in, and the goods cannot be distributed even now because the trucking company which does that has also suspended its operations," he said. "Whether they will be able to now resume, I don't know."

Holmes said UN officials will now have to discuss resuming operations with the trucking company.

John Ging, head of Gaza operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which helps Palestinian refugees, told reporters by video-link from Gaza: "What it means, in effect, is that as soon as practical we will resume our operations."

"What we want on the operational side is that we can rely on information that is provided, and that we will not have our security compromised due to poor coordination or breakdowns in communication, he said. There is enough risk here as it is a combat zone ... and we don't want that added to because of inadequate, poor, or nonfunctioning coordination mechanisms."

Ging said the UN had lost confidence in Israel's military. But he said Israel's assurances at the highest level of improved security for UN aid operations will be taken in good faith because there were given in good faith.

"They have put in place a solution to their problems," he said.

Ging and Holmes, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, expressed regret about having to suspend aid delivery for more than a day.

The staff are eager to continue with their activities, Holmes told reporters at UN headquarters.

The assurances on improved security for UN aid operations came as Israel and Hamas ignored a Security Council cease-fire demand.

With those assurances, the World Food Program and UNICEF can resume moving supplies into or around Gaza. Those agencies said they were still operating in the Palestinian territory, where 1 million people are without electricity and 750,000 are without running water, according to the UN relief agency.

The World Food Program can access 1,900 metric tons of food it already has in Gaza - enough to feed over 130,000 people into February, spokeswoman Emilia Cassell said. But the agency needs 130 more truckloads of food delivered to ensure supplies beyond then, she said.

She said the World Food Program had provided regular rations to 60,000 people and fed at least 20,000 more since Israel launched its attacks Dec. 27.

Israelische marine ondersteunt IDF in Gaza Oorlog

Er is weinig aandacht voor, maar ook de marine speelt een rol in de Israelische operatie in Gaza.
De Jerusalem Post voer een dagje mee.

Navy integral to Operation Cast Lead
"Fire. Fire. Fire," shouts Capt. Yoni into his two-way radio, before a typhoon cannon on the deck of the Shaldag ship lets off a burst of gunfire toward the Gaza coast.

"There was an indication that rockets were being fired from that location at Ashdod and Ashkelon," explains Yoni, the commander of the naval vessel.

Earlier, Yoni and his troops had scouted the coastline with an advanced thermal camera to ensure no IDF troops were in the area. Suddenly, as the camera zooms in on a hotel under construction on the Gaza coast, one of the soldiers says, "Wait. There's someone there."

The camera zooms in on the location and spots nothing more than a pack of Palestinian dogs.

It's the 13th night of Operation Cast Lead and we're sailing on Yoni's ship some 2.5 kilometers off the Gaza coast. It is the first time a reporter has joined naval forces since the start of the operation.

From the ship, capable of up to 45 kilometers an hour, we see a Tarshish naval vessel, Sa'ar 4.5, which is also part of operations against Hamas.

Since the start of the military campaign, the bulk of the credit for hitting Hamas infrastructure has gone to the air force, which has conducted hundreds of sorties over Gaza. However, the navy has also been operating since the first day of the operation, and has hit some 200 Gaza targets with its various weapons.

The ship gets its orders from the navy's war room, where a group of officers look at a wall lined with television screens showing the sea, the location of Israeli forces and rocket launches from Gaza. On one screen in the middle, the officers watch Al-Jazeera.

"We are guarding Israel's coastal borderline, including Gaza fishing areas, in order to prevent a terrorist infiltration into Israel," explains Maj. Tzur.

The navy has two main advantages over the air force. First and foremost, its weapons aren't weather restricted - the ships can hit a target even in extremely cloudy conditions.

In addition, battleships can fire shells with maximal precision. On several occasions, they have even managed to fire a shell through a window of a building after armed Palestinians were spotted there.

"We get to places no one else can get to," a senior naval officer explains. "We have weapons with great precision, the ability to remain in the battlefield for long periods and we have no problem with clouds."

The navy is tasked, among other things, with imposing the sea blockade on the Strip, preventing weapons smuggling to Gaza via the Mediterranean and thwarting terror attacks.

The navy has a significant force and maintains a constant presence near the Gaza coast.

Several other Israeli naval vessels sail in the area, including Sa'ar 4.5s, hunting Hamas terror cells and backing up ground operations.

"The navy joined the military campaign on the first day," explains the senior officer. "Since then, we have attacked launchers, bunkers and have backed up ground forces operating in the Strip, helping them open routes and clear out suspicious regions and houses from which gunmen have opened fire."

During the campaign, there has been an unprecedented level of cooperation between naval and ground forces, he said.

"There is direct contact between regiment commanders and naval commanders," he explains.

Palestinian police boats have also been hit during naval operations, and according to the officer, Hamas naval forces have been dealt a severe blow. The officer said that there had been attempts to fire at Israeli naval ships, mostly with light arms and anti-tank missiles.

Ships like Yoni's, anchored off the Gaza coast, hunt for terrorists and rocket launching cells. On Monday, 10 Hamas terror operatives were killed by naval forces.

There have also been attempts by Palestinian boats to approach Israeli naval vessels, and the IDF suspects that they are trying to perpetrate a terror attack similar to that carried out on the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000, when a small boat rammed into the vessel, blowing it up. There have also been attempts to smuggle arms via the sea into the Strip.

"All the time, there are attempts to approach us.they are dying to hurt us," said the officer. "There is now a naval blockade so anyone who is in the sea is considered suspicious."

Despite the fact that the navy is seemingly far from the rocket-hit Israeli towns, some of its members live in the South. Felipe, who immigrated from Argentina with his family 12 years ago, now lives in Beersheba, in the range of Hamas's Grad rockets.

"What is happening at home is a little frightening," says Felipe. "On the other hand I'm happy to be here defending my home because that's the reason I joined the army."

Enquete toont massale steun in Israel voor Gaza Oorlog

Er is grote steun voor Israels militaire campagne in Gaza onder de bevolking, behalve onder de Israelische Arabieren, die in grote meerderheid tegen de operatie zijn en vinden dat Israel onmiddelijk een staakt het vuren moet aanvaarden. Opvallend is dat driekwart van de Israeli's vindt dat de vrijlating van Gilad Shalit onderdeel moet zijn van een deal met Hamas.

Poll: 76% oppose truce without Shalit
War and Peace Index shows Jewish public supports Gaza operation, objects to ending it if kidnapped soldier is not released as part of agreement, even if rocket fire stops. Arab public conveys opposite views
A majority of the Jewish public in Israel opposes a ceasefire in Gaza without kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit's release, according to the monthly War and Peace Index poll conducted about a week and a half after the start of Operation Cast Lead.

Beyond the decisive support for the Israel Defense Forces' operation, the public also backs the raid's continuation even if Hamas holds fire under certain conditions.

The respondents were asked, "If a ceasefire agreement with Hamas could be reached, but without including Gilad Shalit's release, do you believe Israel should or should not sign such an agreement?" About 76.5% gave a negative answer, while only 17.5% responded positively.

Asked whether Israel should or should not halt its military activity in the Strip if Hamas is ready to stop firing on southern communities in exchange for the opening of the crossings, 80% responded negatively. In other words, the majority of the public believes Israel should not halt its operation even if Hamas accepts such an offer.

Before the recent days - which saw additional IDF casualties, and many casualties among the Palestinian and UN workers - the operation was supported by a sweeping majority of the Jewish public: 94% of the Jewish public said they support or very much support the operation, 92% said they believe it benefits Israel in terms of security, and a clear but smaller majority believes the operation helps Israel diplomatically as well.

About 92% of the population justifies the Air Force strikes in Gaza despite the damage caused to infrastructure and the civilian population's suffering. The decision to send in ground forces was also widely supported, with 70% saying this was a necessary move.

Barak leads trust index

Asked whether the operation must be continued, a vast majority of the public shares the same opinion, with 90% of respondents saying the operation should be continued until Israel reaches all of its goals.

This support was accompanied by the estimate of 70% of the public that the chances of the operation achieving all of its goals are high or quite high, and that the government has a clear plan of action as to ways to continue the operation (75%).

The wide support for the ongoing fighting seems to be fed largely by the public's positive estimates today in regards to the IDF's fighting abilities (93%) and the southern communities' stamina (87%).

In light of the wide support, it's not surprising that the leaders linked to the operation receives relatively high trust scores, although there are differenced between the different officials.

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi leads the trust scale with 85%. This is likely because the IDF is considered "above" the political arena.

Ashkenazi is followed by President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak (62%), and by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Opposition Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu (53%). Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is located at the bottom of the trust scale with only 44%.

The findings from a similar survey held among Israel's Arab citizens paint an opposite picture on almost every question. For example, 85% of the Arabs oppose the operation; 93% believe Israel should halt it based on an agreement which would include Hamas ceasing the rocket fire in exchange for opening the crossings; and 80% believe Israel should sign a ceasefire agreement even if it fails to include Shalit's release.

The War and Peace Index is conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research. Published monthly since 1994, it is run by Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann. The current telephone survey was conducted by the B.I. and Lucille Cohen Institute for Public Opinion Research at Tel Aviv University between January 4 and 6, and was compiled of 593 Israeli citizens representing the various adult sectors in Israeli society. The sampling error is 4.5%.

VN Veiligheidsraad resolutie 1860 over de Gaza Oorlog

De VN Veiligheidsraad resolutie die zowel door Israel als Hamas is verworpen. Ondertussen gaan de onderhandelingen in Egypte wel door, en hangt Israels aanvaarding van een staakt-het-vuren vooral af van de garanties die het krijgt dat de wapensmokkel nu echt zal worden aangepakt. Ongewapende EU waarnemers acht het daartoe niet toereikend.

8 January 2009
Security Council
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York



The Security Council met this evening to take action on a draft resolution (document S/2009/23) sponsored by the United Kingdom, which reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Recalling all of its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003) and 1850 (2008),

"Stressing that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967 and will be a part of the Palestinian state,

"Emphasising the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians,

"Expressing grave concern at the escalation of violence and the deterioration of the situation, in particular the resulting heavy civilian casualties since the refusal to extend the period of calm; and emphasising that the Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations must be protected,

"Expressing grave concern also at the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza,

"Emphasising the need to ensure sustained and regular flow of goods and people through the Gaza crossings,

"Recognising the vital role played by UNRWA in providing humanitarian and economic assistance within Gaza,

"Recalling that a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means,

"Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,

"1.   Stresses the urgency of and calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza;

"2.   Calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment;

"3.   Welcomes the initiatives aimed at creating and opening humanitarian corridors and other mechanisms for the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid;

"4.   Calls on Member States to support international efforts to alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza, including through urgently needed additional contributions to UNRWA and through the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee;

"5.   Condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism;

"6.   Calls upon Member States to intensify efforts to provide arrangements and guarantees in Gaza in order to sustain a durable ceasefire and calm, including to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition and to ensure the sustained re-opening of the crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access between the Palestinian Authority and Israel; and in this regard, welcomes the Egyptian initiative, and other regional and international efforts that are under way;

"7.   Encourages tangible steps towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation including in support of mediation efforts of Egypt and the League of Arab States as expressed in the 26 November 2008 resolution, and consistent with Security Council resolution 1850 (2008) and other relevant resolutions;

"8.   Calls for renewed and urgent efforts by the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace with secure and recognised borders, as envisaged in Security Council resolution 1850 (2008), and recalls also the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative;

"9.   Welcomes the Quartet's consideration, in consultation with the parties, of an international meeting in Moscow in 2009;

"10.  Decides to remain seized of the matter."

Statements before Vote

BERNARD KOUCHNER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, speaking in his national capacity, said the Council was meeting in the common cause of achieving a ceasefire.  In Gaza, there was an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.  He said he was moved and distressed by the plight of the victims and families on both sides.  The immediate end to hostilities was something the European Union and President Nicolas Sarkozy had been committed to.

He said the draft called for the end to the firing of rockets, the end to the Israeli operations, the opening of the border crossings and an end to arms smuggling.  Those parameters were something the President of France had brought up with the leaders of the region and President Hosni Mubarak had drawn up a proposal.  That plan was the only way to peace.  He expressed regret that it had not been possible to give a little more time to reconcile different views or to endorse the results of negotiations now under way. The message of hope needed to be heeded without delay and negotiation under way needed to achieve prompt results.


The Council then adopted resolution 1860 (2009) by a vote of 14 in favour, with and 1 abstention ( United States).

Statements after Vote

United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said that for the past two weeks, people all over the world had witnessed the escalating violence and the suffering in Gaza and southern Israel.  He was heartened and relieved at the adoption of a resolution to end the tragic situation.  That decision signalled the will of the international community and must be fully respected by the parties.  It called for a ceasefire and for humanitarian access.  There was also a need for quickly rebuilding what had been destroyed.  An immediate and durable ceasefire was only the first step. More would be needed, and a political way forward was required to deliver long-term security and peace.  His visit to the region next week would focus on helping to ensure implementation of the ceasefire and that humanitarian aid reached those in need.

DAVID MILIBAND, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said the Council had been brought together by the gravity of the situation existing in Gaza.  The word "crisis" was wholly appropriate.  The Council was also brought together by the vision of security and dignity for Palestinians and Israelis both.  There was a clear consensus on an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire and on the humanitarian need of the people in Gaza through aid and opening of the border crossings, as well as on security for Israel through an end to arms smuggling and on the need for a political process going forward.  Tonight, the United Nations had served its purpose by speaking clearly and with authority.  There were more responsibilities, for the States in the region, as well as the international community as a whole.  The current responsibility was to chart a course back to resolution 1850 (2008).  That could now be done with the just adopted resolution.  The job now was to turn the words of the resolution into a reality.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, Secretary of State of the United States, said that the situation in Gaza was very serious and the overall goal must be ensuring stabilization and normalization on the ground.  The resolution just adopted showed that the Council and the United Nations were indeed seized of the matter.  It was also a step towards the collective goals reflecting the desire of all for sustainable peace in the region.  While much remained to be done, much work was under way, she said, stressing that the initiative proposed by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was not just to be applauded, but must be supported.  Such work would lead to a durable ceasefire and sustainable peace.

Many tasks remained to be addressed, including rooting out the causes of the hostilities, tackling the smuggling and provision of weapons, securing crossing points in line with the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, and providing security for the Israeli people and a better life for the people of Gaza.  "We must establish an international consensus that Gaza must never again be used as a launching pad for rockets against Israeli citizens, because it is important to remember how this crisis began", she said, stressing that the violence in the Strip had been instigated by Hamas, "a terrorist group that called for the destruction of Israel".

Continuing, she said that, some 18 months ago, Hamas had taken over the Gaza Strip in a coup and, since then, thousands of guns, rockets and mortars had been smuggled into the territory.  Hamas had refused to extend the "period of calm" and its continued armament was a root cause of the current situation and had gravely endangered the residents of both Gaza and southern Israel.  "Hamas's commitment to violence is not only an attack on Israel, but also on the two-State solution," she said.

The United States required the principled resolution of the situation in Gaza, and the Security Council resolution just adopted was a basis on which that could be done.  At the same time, she stressed that it was not just a matter of resolving the situation on the ground.  There would need to be a principled resolution also of the political challenges in Gaza that re-established the Palestinian Authority's control, including over borders; facilitated the normal operation of Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings; and, in time, the opening of other crossings.  She said that the United States supported President Mahmoud Abbas as he carried out his responsibilities towards the establishment of a State of Palestine.

She went on to say that the United States remained deeply concerned about the innocent Palestinians suffering in Gaza, and would maintain and continue the humanitarian efforts it was taking to support United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and non-governmental organizations working on the ground.  She said the United States recognized the right of Israel, like other States, to exercise its right of self-defence, and it had stressed to Israel that it was obligated to take feasible steps to minimize the impact of any actions on civilians. She reminded the Council that Hamas continued to hold Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who must be released.

Finally, she said that the United States thought it important to see the outcomes of the Egyptian mediation efforts in order to "see what this resolution might have been supporting", and that was why her delegation had abstained in the vote.  Still, after a great deal of consideration, the United States had decided that the resolution, the text, goals and objectives of which it supported, should be allowed to go forward.  "I believe in doing so, the Council has provided a road map for a sustainable, durable peace in Gaza," she said.

ABDURRAHMAN MOHAMED SHALGHAM, Secretary of the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation of Libya, said on behalf of the hundreds that had been killed and the thousands that had been wounded, the objective had been to put an end to Israeli aggression, lift the siege on Gaza and provide humanitarian assistance to the suffering people there.  To that end, Libya had previously submitted its own draft resolution to address the crisis.  After several meetings, the United Kingdom, the United States and France had submitted a draft which, after several more rounds of negotiations, the Arab Group believed satisfied a minimum of its demands.

While the Group had voted in favour of that text, especially because it called for an immediate end to hostilities, he stressed that not all of the Group's proposals and demands had been met, including the desire for a mechanism to ensure a quick resolution to the crisis.  He said that the international community must continue to put pressure on Israel to end the violence and open borders to ensure that humanitarian assistance reached the population that was in dire need.  At the same time, he said that the international community must ensure that Israel's crimes in the region did not continue.

ALI BABACAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, said that, after three days of negotiations, the Council had been able to reach a decision on a resolution.  While some delegations might not be satisfied with the outcome, the resolution was nevertheless a compromise decision that expressed the will of the Council, especially in that it called for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.  The call for unimpeded humanitarian access was also an important element of the text.  Now, the Council must move forward with implementation.  Indeed, full and effective implementation was crucial to ending the crisis.  Turkey also believed that, as soon as possible, all Palestinian parties must move forward with national reconciliation efforts.  Turkey would work with those parties to ensure progress going forward.

ALEXANDER YAKOVENKO, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said the resolution favoured an immediate ceasefire by all parties, as well as finding a long-term and comprehensive solution to the problems of Gaza.  It was a balanced and, hopefully, effective resolution. The situation in Gaza could not be solved by the use of force.  The fact that all members of the Council had spoken in favour of a long and durable ceasefire did not mean that the work was finished.  It was important to make even more efforts to overcome the crisis in Gaza.  The developments in the last hours had underlined the need for a solution.

JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica) said the just adopted resolution had a tremendous moral force.  The resolution called on the parties to bring about an immediate cessation of hostilities and attested to the resolve of the international community.  He underscored the legal, binding nature of the resolution.  It was mandatory that it be complied with by all parties in the conflict.  Failure to comply could and should entail serious consequences. He hoped the Council could be consistent with its decision taken today, and would use its authority to ensure respect for the decision.

YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said it was important that the Council had been able to take a decision on the grave and serious situation in Gaza, after several rounds of consultations over the past few days.  The resolution, above all, stressed the urgency of action and called for an immediate ceasefire.  At the same time, earlier in the day, the international community had been shocked to hear about the killing of a staff member of UNRWA.  Japan expressed condolences to the family of the victim and stressed that the incident revealed the urgency of ensuring an immediate ceasefire.  Indeed, calm, normalcy and safe living conditions in and around Gaza must return and must be the ultimate goal of the international community's efforts.  He added that the text must also ensure that the peace process got back on track in line with resolution 1850 (2008).

CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said that in the face of the tragic events that had been occurring in Gaza since late December, causing death and destruction and deepening the humanitarian crisis there, the Council had the duty to end the violence and relieve human suffering.  Finally tonight, the Council had shouldered its responsibility by calling for an immediate and durable ceasefire and the opening of crossings to provide humanitarian relief. Mexico had insisted on the broadest consensus during the negotiations and the balanced text just adopted met its requirements.  What was needed now was to build a foundation for the future.

He stressed, however, that Mexico would have preferred that the text incorporate an explicit reference to respect for the provisions of international humanitarian law, as well as a more direct reference for establishing an international mechanism to monitor the implementation of all the measures to be adopted at the conclusion of diplomatic efforts currently under way.  The Council and the wider international community must support those negotiations and ensure that the broader Middle East peace process continued apace.

ZHANG YESUI ( China) said, since the outbreak of the conflict, China had consistently supported swift Council action aimed at a ceasefire and opening the border crossings.  While the resolution was not totally satisfactory, taking into account the gravity of the situation on the ground, China had voted in favour.  The resolution reflected the will of the international community.  He urged the parties to achieve an immediate ceasefire and to implement the resolution.  He hoped the international community would help bring the parties together to a comprehensive and durable solution to the Palestinian question.

FRANCIS BUTAGIRA ( Uganda) had voted in favour to end the hostilities and the humanitarian tragedy.  The resolution was balanced, providing for an immediate ceasefire, humanitarian access and protection of civilians.  Today's outcome reflected a consensus, which indicated that the Council was aware of its responsibility to maintain international peace and security.  The Council should remain engaged in finding peace in the Middle East, with Israel and Palestine living in peace with each other.  He urged the parties to implement the resolution.

LE LUONG MINH (Viet Nam), said his delegation would liked to have seen a resolution with more clear cut language on the implementation of an immediate ceasefire and early withdrawal of Israeli troops, which he considered a prerequisite for ending the crisis and providing relief to the suffering Palestinian people.  However, in light of the continuing violence and deepening humanitarian crisis, Viet Nam had supported the current text, which it believed could, nevertheless, provide a basis for bringing an end to the current crisis and paving the way for the continuation of the peace process.

MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) welcomed the adoption of the resolution and said that the Council could not be indifferent to the tragedy under way in Gaza, especially in light of the serious and deteriorating humanitarian situation.  Burkina Faso believed that the Council should have acted earlier, but "as they say, better late than never".  He said that the language of the text could have been clearer, but it nevertheless was an expression of the Council's will and was, after all, the result of compromise.  He applauded the efforts of the negotiating parties, particularly the Arab Group, which had made compromises to ensure the text was adopted.  He hoped that adoption of the resolution would not only end the current conflict, but build a foundation for continued negotiations towards a sustainable peace in the region.

THOMAS MAYR-HARTING ( Austria) said it had been important to achieve the immediate need for a ceasefire and to preserve the unity of the Council.  He was, therefore, grateful for the efforts that had made the consensus possible.  There must be an unconditional halt to rocket attacks on southern Israel and an end to military operations in Gaza.  Another priority was a lasting and sustained opening of the border crossings, so that the humanitarian situation of Gaza could be addressed.  One point had not been explicitly mentioned in the resolution, namely the obligation of all parties to fully respect humanitarian and human rights law.

NEVEN JURICA ( Croatia) said an immediate, permanent and effective ceasefire implemented by all was a necessity and should end the suffering in Gaza, as well as the terrorist threat in southern Israel.  A ceasefire could only be achieved on the ground through ensuring that there were no more rocket attacks and arms smuggling.  Confidence in mechanisms on the ground was imperative.  A political dialogue was the only way to achieve lasting peace, based on a two-State solution.

RIYAD AL-MALIKI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, said that adoption of the resolution had been delayed several days, despite the deepening humanitarian crisis and heavy loss of lives of Palestinian civilians.  Some 700 Palestinians had been killed and close to 3,000 had been wounded.  Moreover, Israel had relentlessly pursued its goal of ruthlessly destroying

Palestinian property and infrastructure, including schools and mosques. Nevertheless, Israel must now end its war against the Palestinian people and withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip.  It must also lift the closure of borders and ensure humanitarian access to the people in need.  Israel must immediately implement the resolution, he said, adding that:  "The violence must cease so that [.] we can rebuild what the brutal Israeli war machine had destroyed in Gaza."

Prince SAUD Al-FAISAL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, said today had raised the hope for a new era in the work of the Security Council. It had assumed its responsibility to end the violence in Gaza.  He hoped that all parties would look at the text as an affirmation of the Organization's mandate to ensure international peace and security and alleviate human suffering.  Indeed, the text should be seen as a model for addressing future crises.

He went on to say that the real joy was not in what had been achieved in New York, but what would be achieved in Gaza, where he hoped that many lives would now be saved.  Adoption of the resolution would show that the Council worked for the well-being of all people and was not a tool to be manipulated by States.  At the same time, that joy was tempered by the loss of so many lives during the negotiating process.  It was said that success always had a price, but in this case, that price might have been too high.  Still, he hoped that the resolution would bring an immediate end to the current conflict and serve as a basis to move forward with peace in the Middle East.

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, said President Mubarak had, in the presence of President Sarkozy of France, tabled a road map to settle the situation in Gaza.  The adopted resolution welcomed that initiative.  President Mubarak welcomed the resolution as a crucial support for the Egyptian efforts.  The Arab people hoped the Council would see to the immediate implementation of the resolution.  Egypt would spare no efforts, together with the Palestinians, to restore calm and provide an atmosphere conducive to negotiations towards establishment of a Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  He stressed that all Palestinians were part of one fabric and had one just cause.  Egypt would make every effort to bridge the gap between them.

GABRIELA SHALEV ( Israel) said that Israel, when in left Gaza in 2005, had hoped it would never have to return.  However, after eight years of continuous rocket attacks by the Hamas terrorist organization, Hamas' refusal to extend the period of calm, and its smuggling of weapons during that period, had left Israel with no choice but to act in self-defence. Responsibility for the current hostilities lay squarely with Hamas.  The international community must focus its attention on the cessation of Hamas' terrorist activities.  Any arrangement must be fully respected and secured, including the total cessation of rocket fire and smuggling, in order to be durable and to allow the possibility of lasting peace.

* *** *

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Samenvatting IDF operaties 9 en 10 januari in Gaza

Elke dag worden 80 a 100 vrachtwagens met hulp de Gazastrook binnengelaten, en tonnen gas en diesel. Er is dus geen totale blokkade zoals algemeen wordt beweerd.

IDF Spokesperson January 9th, 2009
Summary of IDF Operations Overnight

In the last half hour 4 grad missiles hit the Beer Sheva region.

Overnight, IDF forces, including infantry, tanks, combat engineers, artillery, and intelligence, continued to operate against Hamas terrorist infrastructure throughout the Gaza Strip.

Humanitarian aid is expected to cross into Gaza via Kerem Shalom Crossing today. Yesterday Israel transferred 89 humanitarian aid trucks to Gaza via the Kerem Shalom Crossing. 315,000 liters of fuel, alongside 143 tons of natural gas were transferred through the Nahal Oz terminal, and 223 foreign nationals were permitted entry to Israel following requests from their respective governments.

IAF aircraft attacked overnight more than 50 Terrorist infrastructure sites, including the following:
Five sites used to launch rockets, one of which was adjacent to a mosque.
A weaponry storehouse.
A vehicle garage and an office.
Five weaponry production sites.
Groups of armed gunmen.
Hamas command buildings and outposts.

The Israeli Navy operated in front of Deir El Balah in the Central Gaza Strip, targeting Hamas rocket launching sites in order to thwart attempts to fire rockets at Israeli communities.

The IDF will continue its operations against all terrorists and those who support them.

IDF Spokesperson January 10th, 2009
Summary of IDF Operations Overnight

Overnight, IDF forces, including infantry, tanks, combat engineers, artillery, and intelligence, continued to operate against Hamas terrorist infrastructure throughout the Gaza Strip.

IDF ground forces were involved in a number of incidents in which several armed gunmen were hit. In one of the incidents, snipers opened fire at a force which responded with fire and identified hitting the gunmen. In a separate incident mortar shells were fired at an IDF force which returned fire, and with the assistance of the IAF targeted the squad of five terror operatives.

IAF aircraft attacked over 40 targets throughout the Gaza Strip, including the following:
Ten rocket launching sites
One Anti-aircraft missile launcher
Fourteen weaponry manufacture and storage facilities
Five tunnels used to smuggle weaponry
A number of armed gunmen

Ground forces reported some 15 terrorists killed in exchanges of fire.

The Israeli Navy continued assisting ground forces throughout the night.

A mortar shell was fired into Israel during the night.

Five IDF soldiers were lightly wounded in the overnight fighting.

The IDF will continue its operations against all terrorists and those who support them.

IDF Spokesperson January 10th, 2009
Summary of Today's Events

IDF forces, including infantry, tanks, combat engineers, artillery, and intelligence, continue to operate throughout the Gaza Strip with the assistance of the Israel Air Force and the Israeli Navy.

IDF forces operating in northern Gaza struck a number of armed gunmen, including a would-be suicide bomber strapped with an explosive belt. Ground troops aided IAF aircrafts identifying the location of several rocket launching squads and terror cells planting roadside bombs.

The IAF attacked over 60 targets since the morning, including:

Two rocket launching squads near Jabaliya, shortly after they fired towards the Ashdod region
Ten launching points, several of which were hidden underground
Seven smuggling tunnels
An anti-aircraft launcher
Approximately ten weapons-storage and weapons-production facilities.
Two vehicles used to store and transport weaponry
Three Hamas outposts

In addition to this, Amir Mansi, the commander of the Hamas rocket launching program in the Gaza City area, was killed today by IDF fire in cooperation with the ISA. Mansi was the leading Hamas authority with regard to the long range Grad missile launching program.

Seven soldiers were wounded in separate incidents, all of them lightly.

The IDF will continue to operate against the Hamas terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip according to its operational plans in order to reduce the rocket fire on the south of Israel.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Golven van antisemitisme in België n.a.v. Gaza Oorlog

According to Vachotzker, Belgium's Jews have been living in fear since the operation started. "Vandalizing stores has become a trend. Some of the public may support Israel, but they don't show it."
Zo erg is het in Nederland gelukkig niet, heb ik de indruk, maar ook hier is er veel woede onder moslims en werden antisemitische leuzen gescandeerd tijdens pro-Palestina demonstraties. Israelisch geweld, los van de vraag in hoeverre dat gerechtvaardigd is, is natuurlijk nooit een excuus voor antisemitisme, en hier dient dan ook hard tegen te worden opgetreden. Bovendien zou er in moslimgemeenschappen en moskeeën over gesproken moeten worden, en moet het taboe op Arabisch antisemitisme worden doorbroken.
Gaza op prompts wave of anti-Semitism in Belgium
Protests against Israeli operation in Gaza give rise to violent attacks against Jews across country. Jews now live in fear here, says Jewish Agency envoy in Antwerp
Yael Levy
01.06.09, 04:35
Anti-Semitism is rearing its head in Belgium as protests against the Israeli military operation in Gaza have led to violent attacks against Jews.
A Molotov cocktail was thrown at the liberal synagogue in Brussels on Monday. No injuries were reported, but the building sustained damage.
"Things are heating up here in Belgium," said Jewish Agency and Bnei Akiva envoy in Antwerp Meir Vachotzker. "When the fighting in Gaza started, a Molotov cocktail and a rock were hurled at a synagogue in Charlerois and caused damage."
On Saturday unknown assailants attempted to torch the house of a Jewish family in Antwerp. An eyewitness who resides nearby alerted the police to the place and they managed to extinguish the flames before the house caught fire.
Saturday also saw large demonstrations by Muslims and left-wing activists against Israel and in support of Hamas. Vachotzker said that the protesters set Israeli flags aflame, burned a Chabad menorah and sprayed swastikas and hate graffiti on Jewish-owned shops. The police arrested some 50 rioters.
The Jewish community in the country is planning a large demonstration in support of Israel and the IDF this coming Wednesday. On Sunday evening some 600 people – both religious and secular – convened at Antwerp's big synagogue to show solidarity with the soldiers in Gaza.
According to Vachotzker, Belgium's Jews have been living in fear since the operation started. "Vandalizing stores has become a trend. Some of the public may support Israel, but they don't show it.
There are many concerns, mainly security ones, involved in holding pro-Israel rallies. We've received security instructions, told to be more alert…and to watch ourselves especially after nightfall.

Tijd voor uitbreiding Gaza offensief raakt op

Moet Israel een staakt-het-vuren accepteren dat niet geheel aan de voorwaarden voldoet, of de operatie uitbreiden om Hamas zwaarder te treffen? Volgens dit artikel heeft Israel de capaciteiten van Hamas sterk verminderd, maar is de militaire vleugel zelf niet zwaar getroffen. In een paar maanden tijd kan men weer een voorraad raketten en andere wapens hebben opgebouwd als niks aan de wapensmokkel wordt gedaan.

Bijna idereen lijkt het erover eens dat Hamas niet militair uit te schakelen is, of dat de kosten daarvan veel te hoog zijn. Anderzijds is Israel zeer goed getraind in de zogenaamde 'urban warfare' en is het in haar belang, maar ook in dat van Abbas, Egypte en de kansen op vrede, dat Hamas ernstig verzwakt uit deze strijd tevoorschijn komt. Als er nog een uitgebreidere operatie gaat plaatsvinden, zal die wel binnen een paar dagen haar werk moeten doen, en mogen er geen 'ongelukken' meer gebeuren zoals het beschieten van een school of hulpconvooien van de VN en het Rode Kruis, of er nou wel of niet van daaruit door Hamas werd geschoten.

Jan 9, 2009 0:23 | Updated Jan 9, 2009 9:24
Analysis: Time running out for an escalation Israel's leaders don't really want

Very few key players in the Israeli security establishment believed that Hamas would be "broken" during the first week of Operation Cast Lead, which was characterized overwhelmingly by air strikes on Hamas offices, bases, missile launchers, smuggling tunnels, weapons stores and military commanders' homes.

In 2006, there was a misplaced reliance on the use of air power to overwhelm Hizbullah in southern Lebanon. That was not the case this time against Hamas.
There was a slightly greater expectation, but still no overwhelming belief, that the second week would have the desired effect. Hamas was far from certain that Israel would use ground forces at all, yet those forces have fought very effectively; Hamas has been badly damaged in terms of its rocket-firing and production capability, and many of the Philadelphi Corridor tunnels have been destroyed.
But the ground operation to date has been relatively constrained. Hamas's tactic has been to minimize its confrontations with the IDF. Its hope has been to carry out pinpoint acts of violence designed to cause heavy casualties, and to try to kidnap soldiers via sophisticated traps.
Its main fighting force is largely intact. And as of Thursday night, it was plainly not crying out for a cease-fire, confident that the international diplomatic clock was working against Israel.
Israel's dilemma, therefore, is whether or not to proceed to an intensified ground operation - involving thousands of troops, penetrating far more deeply into Gaza's most dense urban areas.
The troops are trained and ready, and the impact on Hamas's fighting capacity would inevitably be far greater - but so would the potential for IDF casualties.
As Israel's political leadership agonizes over green-lighting this escalated offensive, there is every indication that Hamas is braced for it. Hamas thinks it can inflict heavy damage on the incoming IDF forces, and thus bolster its standing and its capacity to impose its terms on any cease-fire arrangements.
Israel's security chiefs firmly believe Hamas to be wrong; they are confident the IDF can surprise and outmaneuver the Islamists. But that gap in perceptions explains why, after 13 days, Operation Cast Lead appeared to be in some kind of pause mode, treading water.
This pause cannot last long. The IDF is most vulnerable when it is static. Having meticulously planned a day-by-day timetable of operations, the IDF needs to hear from its political masters - and hear soon - whether it is moving forward or pulling back.
The three key political stewards of this conflict - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni - all acknowledge that Hamas is hurt but not beaten. It may have been deterred from further rocket fire, but for how long?
It can still fire, albeit with fewer daily rockets into Israel than had been feared. No mechanism is yet in place to ensure it cannot quickly rearm, as Hizbullah did after the Second Lebanon War, through tunnels it would quickly rebuild under the Philadelphi Corridor.
All three leaders want to avoid the next logical phase of the military offensive if there is a reasonable chance that satisfactory arrangements to stop the smuggling and maintain the IDF's freedom of action can be obtained some other way, presumably via the French-Egyptian diplomatic track.
Only Hamas, cocky, playing down its losses and anything but troubled by the deaths of Palestinians, is disinclined to sanction any such arrangement.
There are some disagreements within the Israeli leadership troika, which it is to be fervently hoped are unrelated to any narrow electoral considerations.
Livni, according to some sources, is said to be more inclined to contemplate a unilateral cease-fire if no arrangement can be reached, and to rely on the heightened deterrence achieved so far and the IDF's potential to strike again if the rocket fire resumes.
Barak and Olmert are said to be opposed to a unilateral halt. Olmert said on Thursday that the operation had not yet achieved its goals. Barak is again believed to be ready for a "humanitarian time-out" which might lead to a lasting cease-fire.
Hamas is riven with disputes, and internal communication is obviously anything but straightforward. Some Gaza-based Hamas leaders are said to have sought immunity from Israeli attack so that they can participate in talks on a possible cease-fire in Gaza.
But if Hamas remains intransigent over the weekend, signs are that a reluctant political echelon will order a reluctant IDF leadership to send a confident and well-trained ground force of many thousands to confront Hamas's fighters as never before.
Israel would do so knowing that the international "window of opportunity" is narrowing, that the UN Security Council is getting impatient, and that anything resembling Tuesday's shelling of an UNRWA school that causes heavy civilian casualties would be terminal.
Beyond that phase would lie a full-scale invasion to overthrow Hamas and reoccupy the Gaza Strip, involving the participation of many tens of thousands of reservists.
This was emphatically not a declared goal of Operation Cast Lead, not least because there is no clarity whatsoever as to how the ensuing vacuum could or would be filled.

De beelden uit Gaza die we niet te zien krijgen

Het is jammer en diep triest dat de media over het algemeen zo eenzijdig zijn in hun berichtgeving over de huidige escalatie, en vooral ook zo weinig achtergrondinformatie geven. Zie hier wat beelden die niet op de NOS, NOVA, Netwerk en Een Vandaag te zien waren.

IDF zou geëvacueerde burgers hebben beschoten in Gaza

Zoals gebruikelijk voor het bevooroordeelde NOS journaal werd de Israelische kant van dit incident niet weergegeven.
Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says Israeli forces evacuated about 110 Palestinians into Gaza house which they then repeatedly shelled 24 hours later, killing about 30 people. IDF: UN claims unreasonable
Published:  01.09.09, 13:15
The United Nations on Friday cited witnesses saying Israeli forces evacuated about 110 Palestinians into a house which they then repeatedly shelled 24 hours later, killing about 30 people.

It said that "according to several testimonies, on 4 January Israeli foot soldiers evacuated approximately 110 Palestinians into a single-residence house in Zeitun (half of whom were children) warning them to stay indoors. Twenty-four hours later, Israeli forces shelled the home repeatedly, killing approximately 30."

Military officials said in reponse to the accusation that "from initial examinations in the IDF there is no knowledge of any incident in which IDF forces moved people from one building to another.
 "Furthermore, the claim that the building was attacked on January 4, in 24-hours after the IDF entered the Gaza Strip is unreasonable since the IDF forces had not yet reached the areas in question on this date.
"An Israeli television network examination of the matter with hospitals in the area showed the hospitals had no knowledge of such an incident."
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) called it "one of the gravest incidents since the beginning of operations" by Israeli forces in Gaza on December 27.
"Those who survived and were able walked two kilometers to Salah Ed Din road before being transported to hospital in civilian vehicles. Three children, the youngest of whom was five months old, died upon arrival at the hospital," OCHA said in a report on the situation in the battered Gaza Strip.
The report came as the UN Human Rights Council was due to hold Friday a special session on the conflict in Gaza Strip to examine a motion by Egypt, Pakistan and Cuba seeking condemnation of the Israeli offensive and of "grave" violations.

Hamas in eigen woorden

Hier een video waarin allemaal uitspraken van Hamas zijn samengevoegd. 
Hamas' extremisme wordt hier vaak gebagatelliseerd alsof het 'zionistische propaganda' zou zijn.
Nee, het antizionistische propaganda.

Hamas plattegrond gevonden met verdedigingsplan tegen IDF

Handig zo'n kaart... Er komt maar weinig informatie naar buiten over het verloop van de gevechten en hoe hard Hamas daarbij is getroffen. Ondertussen neemt het aantal 'incidenten' waarbij veel burgerslachtoffers omkomen toe.
De vraag is wat de rol van Hamas in die incidenten is, en hoe toevallig het is dat zoveel van die dingen zijn gebeurd de afgelopen dagen. Is Hamas van taktiek veranderd omdat plannen om soldaten te ontvoeren of in een hinderlaag te lokken niet bleken te lukken?

Hamas map shows how civilian infrastructure is used for terror purposes

IDF unveils Hamas map seized in Gaza
Jan. 8, 2009
Soldiers from the Paratrooper's Brigade operating in the northern Gaza Strip uncovered a map prepared by Hamas that shows how the terror group prepared for the IDF's incursion by deploying different types of bombs as well as snipers throughout the town of al-Atatra.
The map is handwritten and is based on a bird's-eye view of the town, likely taken from Google Maps. On the map, Hamas split up the town into three different sectors - red, blue and green. On the map, Hamas highlighted several important sites such as mosques, a gas station and a fuel depot.
"Inside the map, the terrorists also marked sniper positions, as well as the location of roadside bombs, anti-tank bombs and landmines," Chief Intelligence Officer Brig.-Gen. Yuval Halamish said Thursday.
The map was discovered by soldiers from the Paratroopers Brigade during operations in al-Atatra and was translated in the field and used by the troops to avoid casualties.
Halamish said that the map showed how Hamas does not hesitate to use civilian infrastructure for its terrorist activity. On the map, a brown dot is marked next to a mosque representing a nearby sniper position.
"This is a civilian area and you can see on the map how Hamas booby-trapped the entrance to homes in order to hit the IDF," Halamish said. In another case, a large explosive device was marked on the map next to a gas station. Had it been detonated it would have likely destroyed the gas station as well, killing and wounding civilians who live in the area.
In another case, Halamish said that soldiers discovered a mannequin dressed like a soldier at the entrance to a home. Had soldiers entered the home, the mannequin would have exploded, collapsing the floor and causing the troops to fall into a tunnel where they would have been abducted by Hamas operatives.

vrijdag 9 januari 2009

De week van het probleem dat Obama kan missen als kiespijn

Hieronder een nuchtere kijk op het Midden-Oosten conflict. Daar zijn er helaas niet zo veel van.
Zie ook mijn eigen opiniestuk met gelijkluidende conclusie:

De week van het probleem dat Obama kan missen als kiespijn

Paul Brill, 09-01-2009 20:56
Elke schokgolf in het Midden-Oosten is tot ver buiten de regio voelbaar.
Er is sprake van een even uniek als brandbaar mengsel van historische sentimenten, religieuze overtuigingen, etnische banden, economische belangen en strategische oogmerken. In praktisch geen enkel conflictgebied ter wereld is het besmettingsgevaar zo groot.

De afgelopen weken zijn ruim 1.500 Zimbabwanen bezweken aan de cholera. De epidemie is een rechtstreeks gevolg van het notoire wanbestuur van Robert Mugabe. Het aantal dodelijke slachtoffers is twee keer zo groot als dat in Gaza. De teller loopt gegarandeerd nog een tijdje door, want er kan geen wapenstilstand met de epidemie worden gesloten. In tal van hoofdsteden wordt schande gesproken van Mugabe's onverbiddelijke optreden, er worden boycotmaatregelen genomen dan wel voorgesteld. Maar zolang de crisis niet buiten de grenzen van Zimbabwe treedt, blijft het effect beperkt tot enige reputatieschade voor Zuid-Afrika, dat bij uitstek in staat zou zijn om de dictator de pin op de neus te zetten.

En neem de oorlog in Sri Lanka, die al aan 70 duizend mensen het leven heeft gekost en 200 duizend inwoners dakloos heeft gemaakt. Nu is het regeringsleger bezig met een grootscheeps en kennelijk succesvol offensief tegen de opstandige Tamils. Wat zich precies afspeelt, ontgaat de buitenwereld bijna geheel. Zolang India (met zijn Tamils in de deelstaat Tamil Nadu) zich koest houdt, maakt niemand zich druk over de gebeurtenissen op het eiland. Als ik de rest van deze rubriek aan Sri Lanka zou wijden, zou er geen haan naar kraaien. Nu ik overstap naar het Midden-Oosten, ben ik verzekerd van reacties.

Vaak hebben Amerikaanse presidenten hun intrek in het Witte Huis genomen met het vaste voornemen om het Midden-Oosten voorlopig te laten voor wat het is. Niet zelden hadden ze hun voorganger zijn tanden stuk zien bijten op de weerbarstige problematiek van de regio.

Altijd op de agenda
Tot op grote hoogte geldt dat ook voor Barack Obama. Weliswaar speelde de terugtrekking van de Amerikaanse troepen uit Irak aanvankelijk een centrale rol in zijn verkiezingscampagne, maar in de loop der maanden werd dat thema steeds meer verdrongen door de kwakkelende economie en de kredietcrisis. Daarop heeft hij zich na zijn verkiezingszege ook geconcentreerd. Maar 'wat de plannen van een president ook zijn, het Midden-Oosten heeft de bijzondere gewoonte om zich op zijn agenda te nestelen', schrijven de gezaghebbende analisten Richard Haass en Martin Indyk in de jongste editie van Foreign Affairs. De economie schreeuwt om volle presidentiële aandacht, maar of hij wil of niet, Obama krijgt vanaf de eerste dag ook het probleem-Gaza op zijn bord.
Plus alles wat eraan vastzit. Want al wordt er hopelijk binnen enkele dagen een staakt-het-vuren bereikt, het probleem-Gaza staat niet op zichzelf en zal dan ook niet verdwijnen. Het past in een historische ontwikkeling en heeft een regionale context. Bij alle begrijpelijke ontsteltenis over de verwoestingen die thans worden aangericht, wordt dat analytische perspectief wel eens veronachtzaamd, wat leidt tot een houding van: wie het hardst slaat (Israël), treft de meeste blaam, klaar uit. Maar daarmee komt een duurzame oplossing niet naderbij.

Het huidige militaire optreden in Gaza is in feite de vierde keer dat Israël de landstrook aanvalt. De eerste keer werd het gebied al bijna veroverd tijdens de eerste Israëlisch-Arabische oorlog in 1948, maar het eindigde onder Egyptisch bestuur. Vervolgens trokken Israëlische troepen er doorheen tijdens de Sinaï-operatie in 1956. Tenslotte viel het in Israëlische handen bij de Zesdaagse Oorlog in 1967. De Israëlische bezetting duurde 38 jaar: in 2005 maakte de regering van premier Ariel Sharon er eenzijdig een einde aan.

'De Gazastrook die Israël in 2005 achterliet, grensde aan Egypte. De Gazastrook waar Israël nu terugkomt, grenst aan Iran', noteerde New York Times-columnist Thomas Friedman eerder deze week. Het is een puntige manier om aan te geven hoe belangrijk Iran is geworden, ook als het gaat om het Israëlisch-Palestijns conflict. Het zijn vooral Iraanse wapens waarmee Hamas een strijdmacht van betekenis is geworden, zoals ook Hezbollah in Zuid-Libanon militair is opgetuigd door Iran (met hulp van Syrië).

Aangenomen dat Hamas militair wel kan worden verzwakt maar niet uitgeschakeld, betekent dit dat de weg naar een politieke neutralisering van de beweging loopt via Teheran. Daar zal de regering-Obama in rechtstreekse contacten moeten peilen of er heuse belangstelling is voor een grand bargain.

Gezien de islamistische inslag van het Iraanse regime is dat een uiterst onzekere onderneming, maar er zijn factoren die maken dat ze niet kansloos is. Stond Israël in vroeger tijden tegenover een bijna gesloten Arabisch 'afwijzingsfront', nu ontbreekt het niet aan 'vredespartners': tal van landen zijn in beginsel bereid tot erkenning en er is een Palestijnse partij waarmee in elk geval over de Westelijke Jordaanoever kan worden onderhandeld.

Kan Washington Israël ertoe bewegen om op dit vlak serieuze stappen vooruit te zetten, dan verliest de Iraanse confrontatiepolitiek aan glans. Maar om dat te bereiken moet er in Jeruzalem natuurlijk een regering zitten die zich láát bewegen. Het is wellicht cru om te zeggen, maar de realiteit is niet anders: dat vereist dat Hamas een flinke opdonder krijgt en Tzipi Livni en Ehud Barak met een redelijk binnenlands prestige uit deze overigens onbeheerste oorlog komen.

Israelische journalist met IDF op pad in Gaza

The family suddenly notices the cameras, and immediately, the expression on their faces changes. "We have no food," they say in Arabic, as one of the youngsters suggests we interview him in English about their plight. Givati troops are extremely concerned about being portrayed as abusing innocent civilians. Perry points to a stack of canned goods, water bottles and other provisions. "We provided some of that and they cook and eat quite well," said Perry. The Palestinians seem to understand him and one of them smiles. It's a war – they had to try.


A day with our troops in Gaza,7340,L-3653238,00.html

Ron Ben-Yishai reports from Gaza after spending day with IDF forces fighting in Strip

Ron Ben-Yishai

Published:  01.09.09, 03:08


For the first time since Operation Cast Lead was launched, an Israeli journalist was allowed to enter the Strip alongside the fighting forces. What does it look like on the frontline?

Gaza City was quiet most of the day, but it was exactly this calm that had Givati Brigade Commander, Colonel Ilan Malka, so concerned: "Everyone should drill the procedure for thwarting attempted abductions. That's what (Hamas) are aiming for now. We also have to review the procedures for thwarting suicide attacks against the troops," he told his officers in one of the security briefings.

The warning is not an empty one. By night, the IDF had scores of abduction alerts, suggesting Hamas is preparing to kidnap soldiers in the area Givati forces were deployed in.

A hole in the wall (Photo: Ron Ben-Yishai)

"When we took over the area so aggressively, Hamas pretty much disappeared," Malka said, standing in his impromptu headquarters on the outskirts of Gaza City. "But I'm convinced they are still here, either underground or in hiding. They will venture out to try and abduct soldiers so they can boast accomplishments."

Malka is proud of Givati's achievements – the brigade was able to penetrate Hamas defenses within hours and take over a fortified and booby-trapped hub with virtually zero resistance. His primary concern right now is to keep the scene from turning into a snare.

Dodging bullets

We stopped in a backyard of an auto shop. The APC (armored personnel carrier) backed up until it nearly touched the wall – or the hole in the wall – into which we leaped out. The Givati force moved through holes cut into the wall surrounding each house, as they took over the neighborhood, careful not to expose themselves to sniper fire or to the traps laid for them in the buildings' foyers. We're here with several reservists form the brigade's reconnaissance company. They have a large reserve force and the Palestinian neighborhood soon rustles with officers who have come to join the fighting.

"I couldn't stay home when the guys are fighting," said Omri, while on the way to meet Lieutenant Colonel Ofer Levy, the brigade's deputy commander. "We try not to stand next to windows, so to avoid sniper fire," explains another officer, ducking under a wide window. In the kitchen, we find remnants of meal left abruptly. The homeowners, like more than a 1,000 of the neighborhood's residents, fled following IDF warnings.

Levy said that Hamas operatives were caught so off guard that they left their explosives in plain sight and vanished. The soldiers, he added, keep uncovering tunnels; but before we can visit one, a more urgent matter must be dealt with: The Brigade's commander, who is in a GOC security assessment, orders all fighting, projectile fire and aerial strikes stop at 1 pm for three hours of a "humanitarian pause," at which time local residents would be able to stock up on essential provisions. "We can't go forward but we can fire if we are in danger," I'm told.

Meeting the locals

One of the company commanders runs over and excitingly tells us that the "Caterpillars" – D9 bulldozers used by the IDF – have uncovered a tunnel full of containers; but someone tells him that this tunnel is a familiar find. We head out to inspect the tunnel, which is located in fairly dangerous territory, in order to decide what to do with it. We get a short security briefing, individual "combat numbers" and off we go, moving through the alleys, the soldiers pointing their weapons at the top floors or the holes in the walls, as need be. Hamas is nowhere to be found, but it could reappear at any moment. We arrive at an open area and the troops deploy quickly. We are treading through the Gaza quagmire – and there is a lot of it around.

We run across a local family in one of the buildings. Grandparents, a few young parents, some children and a few toddlers. Sitting on a rug, their legs are covered in blankets and two soldiers are standing guard nearby. "What about them?" I ask. "They're free to go if they want to, but they don't want to," said Eilon Perry, Givati's operations officer. "They informed us they would be staying in the house and we have no choice but to accept that."

Palestinian family insists on staying (Photo: Ron Ben-Yishai)

The family suddenly notices the cameras, and immediately, the expression on their faces changes. "We have no food," they say in Arabic, as one of the youngsters suggests we interview him in English about their plight. Givati troops are extremely concerned about being portrayed as abusing innocent civilians. Perry points to a stack of canned goods, water bottles and other provisions. "We provided some of that and they cook and eat quite well," said Perry. The Palestinians seem to understand him and one of them smiles. It's a war – they had to try.

Tunneling down

A sniper lies in wait on one of the building's top floors, peeping through a hole in the wall. Those holes are the scars left across Gaza, the ones that will be there long after the IDF leaves. The commander and his soldiers recite a prayer before heading out to the tunnel again. The number of religious soldiers and settler youth in the brigade and in other IDF combat units is high and increasing, I'm told.

The officers tell me how important the support of the home front is to them. There is a real sense of accomplishment and they are convinced that the ground incursion is important. Many of them fear the military would avoid it and believe that it is the only way to secure peace and quiet for southern Israel.

"Besides, we got tired of hearing how Israeli citizens are getting hit while we did nothing about it," said Alon from the Golan Heights, while petting his dog. He is an Oketz serviceman – the IDF's K-9 unit – which is a pivotal part of the force. The troops have two bomb-sniffing dogs with them, sniffing the entryway to each house before we go in. The dogs are equipped with special boots on their paws, to keep them from being hurt by the shredded metal and broken glass covering the ground.

We make our way to the tunnel on foot at first, but the last leg is exposed to the neighborhood north of us. The company commander and I go into the belly of a tank that lets us out at the tunnel's entrance. Nobody is taking any chances. The tunnel is built out of a vertical shaft leading into an underground passageway lined with cement. It is clearly packed with explosives and would be dangerous to move through.

Officers examine Gaza map (Photo: Ron Ben-Yishai)

The tunnel leads into a house some 300 yards away. "My god," said the commander. "It leads up to that house… I almost decided to camp there for a few hours before I saw it was booby-trapped. Had we stayed there we would have been in for a very nasty visit."

A different kind of army

Through the entirety of the "humanitarian pause" in the fighting, the streets were empty. Maybe it was because the stores were closed and maybe because the neighborhood, which was crowded up until a few days ago, is empty. The force is patrolling through it, uncovering weapon and rocket caches; D9 bulldozers follow, ripping out launching pads.

Other operational activities target buildings suspected as rocket manufacturing facilities and weapons' labs. Still, caution is the order of the day and the company is vigilant – they are happy to report having only a few minor casualties since the operation began, and say that things have been quiet in their sector. They pray it stays that way.

This is definitely not the same military we saw in the Second Lebanon War. I wouldn't want to run into any of these warriors in a dark alley.

Just before we turn back, I ask the brigade commander how long he thinks they would be staying in the Strip. "For as long as we have to," he says. "I honestly don't know. We're ready to say for weeks, or months." Will the operation be expanded? "We currently have no such plans," he said, trying to keep a businesslike expression. His officers were already looking at a map of another area in the city.


Europese Joden houden solidariteitsbijeenkomsten voor Israel

De Israelische militaire campagne in Gaza leidt tot een toename van het aantal antisemitische incidenten in Europa. Dit is NIET begrijpelijk vind ik: het aantal anti-Russische incidenten is tijdens de oorlog tegen Georgië bij mijn weten niet toegenomen (sterker nog, er bestaan volgens mij helemaal geen anti-Russische sentimenten), en Chinezen worden ook niet vijandelijk bejegend vanwege de onderdrukking in Tibet. We zijn normaliter heel goed in staat een onderscheid te maken tussen land en volk, ook als een groot deel van dat volk de acties van hun land steunen. Maar antisemitische incidenten in reactie op Israelisch geweld vinden velen, vooral ter linkerzijde, vaak heel begrijpelijk, en de schuld van Israel, dat zou doen alsof het namens alle Joden spreekt en ze daarmee allemaal een slechte naam zou bezorgen. De Joden zelf zijn het dus weer eens schuld. Ondertussen draagt juist links bij aan deze anti-Joodse stemming, met vaak extreme anti-Israel retoriek en door antisemitisme toe te staan en niet te veroordelen op demonstraties waar men aan deelneemt en zelfs mede-organisator van is. 
Vrijdagmorgen is in Den Haag een solidariteitsmanifestatie voor Israel.

The Jerusalem Post
Jan 7, 2009 23:25 | Updated Jan 8, 2009 12:55
European Jews launch series of pro-Israel rallies

European Jewish communities are planning a series of rallies in support of Israel as the Gaza fighting continues into its 13th day Thursday.

The rallies in France, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Britain and Germany are meant to highlight "our solidarity and support for Israel at this time," said European Jewish Congress president Moshe Kantor.

"Israel is on the frontlines of a battle that stretches all over the world," said Kantor, calling Hamas "part of a larger international terrorist network with links to Teheran."

The first rally was held in Paris on Sunday, followed by a rally Wednesday evening in front of the Iranian embassy in Brussels and another at the Amsterdam Jewish Community Center.

The next pro-Israel demonstration is expected to be held in Rome's Parco dei Principi on Saturday night, followed by Sunday rallies in London, Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin. The London rally will be held at Trafalgar Square and will be titled "End Hamas Terror: Peace for the People of Israel and Gaza." It will be followed by a gathering at Vienna's Judenplatz on Monday evening.

Additional events are being planned in the coming days in other cities, including Stockholm and Budapest.

In a statement, the EJC said it would also meet with European diplomats and political leaders in the coming days to explain Israel's position and "discuss the alarming rise of anti-Semitic incidents that are taking place in France, Sweden, the UK and elsewhere."

Anti-Semitic incidents appear to be escalating in Europe in the wake of the Gaza fighting.

In Britain, incidents included the burning of a London synagogue's door, an attack on a Jewish man in North London by three young Middle Eastern-looking men, anti-Semitic graffiti scrawled in Jewish neighborhoods and hate mail sent to synagogues.

In one case, a group of 15 to 20 young men who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent ran riot along the main street of the Jewish neighborhood Golders Green in North West London, shouting anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slogans and entering Jewish restaurants along the street to harass diners.

In Belgium, a Molotov cocktail was thrown Monday at the Beth Hillel Liberal synagogue in Brussels only hours after the windows of the synagogue in Charleroi, about 50 km. south of the capital, were broken with rocks for the second time in a week.

In France, assailants rammed a burning car into the gates of a synagogue in Toulouse, in southwest France, on Monday night.

In Sweden, a Jewish congregation in Helsingborg was attacked Monday night by someone who "broke a window and threw in something that was burning," said police spokesman Leif Nilsson. Neighbors alerted rescue services before the fire took hold.

Jonny Paul, JTA and AP contributed to this report.

De taal van Hamas

Net als de Libanon Oorlog in 2006 is ook dit een propaganda oorlog waarin een extremistische groepering zich succesvol als de underdog weet neer te zetten. Hamas zou slechts in reactie op de bezetting reageren of op de blokkade, en als die zijn opgeheven vuurt men raketten af op Tel Aviv in reactie op de 'bezetting' van Al Quds, en als dat is 'bevrijd' eist men de grenzen van het originele delingsplan uit 1947, enz. enz.
Uit vele uitspraken van Hamas leiders blijkt dat men heel het land tussen de zee en de Jordaan als bezet beschouwt en door middel van Jihad wil bevrijden, en dat men ook nogal vreemde ideeën over Joden heeft.

The language of Hamas
By Paul Reynolds
World affairs correspondent, BBC News website

A media war over Gaza is running in parallel to the shooting and diplomatic wars.

A wounded Palestinian youth is taken to hospital in Gaza City
Hamas accuses Israel of trying to kill as many civilians as possible

In a previous article I looked at how the Israelis have been very active in getting their arguments over, including their use of online websites and and, in one example, at how video they presented had been challenged. The Israelis have also banned foreign correspondents from entering Gaza.

The Israeli assessment continues to be that, in this conflict, Israel has had much more understanding around the world for its actions, though incidents such as the attack on the UN school on Wednesday have had an effect on that support.

But Hamas, too, must be subject to examination. The use of propaganda by Hamas differs in that it is more broad-brush.

The Israeli effort tends to operate on two levels - it deploys arguments to justify its strategy and tactics but it also gets into detail on individual cases, such as the attack on the school in Gaza on Wednesday.

Hamas often relies on generalised statements. It routinely denies claims against it, such as hiding weapons in mosques or using schools or even ambulances as cover. It sometimes acts as if there was a greater truth to be put over, which goes beyond the detail of some contested incident.

Take the school tragedy. To Israeli claims that Hamas gunmen were operating from there (including, the Israelis said, two fighters whom they named), Hamas spokesman Fauzi Barhoum (supported, it has to be said, by UN officials) made a denial, but did not stop there.

"These are barbaric accusations. There was no fire of any kind from the school by the resistance," he said. This denial of Hamas then became a launch pad for an accusation about Israel's intentions towards civilians. Hamas turned defence into attack. Mr Barhoum went on: "The Zionist occupier wants to kill as many civilians as possible. The school is marked by the UN flag and the Israelis are just trying to justify this ugly crime."

If that accusation were literally true, Israel could in fact kill any number it wants. But the Hamas statement made its point and its point is to be a rallying cry of anger and accusation. Such statements reverberate around the world.

Hamas also pays particular attention to rousing the local population and runs its own satellite TV station al-Aqsa (named after the mosque in Jerusalem).

"It constantly shows pictures of the destruction in Gaza and interviews with the public and survivors," says senior BBC Monitoring journalist Omar Yacub. "It shows children in prayers. It shows pictures of dead bodies in graphic detail.

"All this carries the political message that resistance is necessary. A ceasefire is not mentioned. Instead it seeks to mobilise and lift morale."

Masking reality

Hamas also uses a vocabulary that has to be decoded. For example, it talks about the Israeli "occupier". In the current conflict, this of course, can refer to Israeli troops in Gaza. But before the Israeli operation, they controlled Gaza's borders by land, sea and air and so were also called "occupiers".

Hamas fighters. Archive photo
Hamas uses a vocabulary that must be decoded

And more generally, the word means that Israel occupies all the land of Palestine. This, Hamas defines by the boundaries of the territory mandated by the League of Nations to Britain after World War I, minus the east bank of the Jordan that Britain sliced off to give to the Jordanian royal family and which is now Jordan.

So when Hamas talks about resisting the "occupier", it is not just talking about resistance in Gaza.

Its occasional references to a long-term "truce" also must be understood. For Hamas, this does not mean a proper peace agreement with Israel. It means a cessation of violence, which could perhaps last for years, but under which it holds its options open.

And when Hamas says it is ready to accept a Palestinian state within the borders as they existed before the war in 1967, it does not follow that it would accept those borders as the last word. It hopes to re-establish Palestine as it once was.

Sometimes Hamas leaders come into the open. A few years ago I interviewed one of them, Dr Mahmoud Zahar, in Gaza. He referred to Israel as "a foreign body. It does not belong in the area".

Dr Zahar has now declared that Israel's attacks in Gaza have "legitimised" the killing of Israeli children. I doubt if he has changed his mind about Israel being a foreign body.

Of course, there are those who say that you must not listen to the rhetoric, which in the Middle East can mask a reality that the speaker wishes to hide.

They also point out that the PLO once talked in similar terms and that it is now in negotiation with Israel about a final settlement. But equally, until the rhetoric changes, it is fair to look at what it means.