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Efforts Continue for an Israel-Hamas Cease-Fire Agreement

Israel and Hamas appear to be one step closer to a cease-fire agreement though the fighting continues to rage on from both sides. Israeli tanks and gunboats fired into Gaza while as many as 200 rockets were launched at Israel.

In the meantime, officials from both sides work to propose a deal to put the fighting to a halt. The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton along with the U.N Chief and Egypt’s president has also got involved.

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has publicly announced that the country hopes for a diplomatic solution to resolve the conflict though it will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to defend itself.

Clinton has expressed her desire for an outcome that involves comprehensive peace talks and expressed her sorrows for the casualties on both sides but also stated that the U.S. remains committed to Israel’s security.

According to a spokesperson, Clinton met with the Prime Minister to discuss efforts on de-escalating the situation. The Secretary of State also has plans to make stops in Cairo and Ramallah to meet with Egyptian officials.

The fighting began on Nov 14th when Israel launched a retaliatory attack in response to months of rocket launches directed at its border. The attack began with an airstrike that killed a Hamas military chief. This was followed by a series of additional strikes that targeted militants and weapons storage sites.

So far, 130 Palestinians have reportedly been killed by the strikes with dozens of civilians injured. The rockets launched by Hamas have so far killed five Israelis, which included a soldier and civilian.

U.N. Chief Ban Ki-Moon criticized the rocket attacks by the Palestinians but also urged Israel to restrain itself from exercising too much military force.

Israel is demanding that Hamas puts an end to the rocket fires from Gaza and to put an end to weapons smuggling that is taking place through underground tunnels between Egypt and Gaza. It is also calling for Hamas to pledge that it will not use Egypt’s Sinai region as a staging point for launching attacks at Israel.

Crime and Punishment Part Five – Life in Gaza

Life in Gaza through the eyes of Vice News, the final part of a 5 part series.

Crime and Punishment Part Four – Life in Gaza

Part 4 of the series by Vice.com showing the life in Gaza under Hamas rule.

Crime and Punishment Part Three – Life in Gaza

Part 3 of the five part series about life in Gaza under Hamas rule – by Vice News

Crime and Punishment Part 2 – Life in Gaza

Part two from Vice.com:

Crime and Punishment Part One – Life in Gaza

This is Vice.com’s version of life in Gaza under Hamas rule…

Three Tales for Thursday

Beyond the Pale

According to a survey taken last month by Ben Gurion University pollsters, 60 percent of Israelis say they would be in favor of seeing NATO troops deployed in both the West Bank and Gaza. According to the “Israeli Positions on the European Union” survey, 64 percent of Israeli Jews and 63 percent of Israeli Arabs citizens are in favor of seeing peacekeeping forces, (aside from the United Nations) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Back in 2009, 54 percent of Israeli Jews and Arabs supported the idea.

In the poll that was compiled by Sharon Pardo of the Department of Politics and Government, 68 percent of Israelis are in favor of joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Roughly 81 percent of Israelis want the Jewish Country to join the European Union (EU). These figures are up from 69 percent in 2009, and 43 percent would like to see Israel have better relations with the EU, this is in comparison with 20 percent who would like to see the Jewish Country get along better with the United Nations and just seven percent with NATO.

Paro says:

“the message is quite clear, Israelis are not for isolationism, they want cooperation…Israelis are really into strengthening and deepening the cooperation between Israel and the EU…Israelis understand the importance of the EU for the future of Israel and they want to strengthen the relations.”

The poll surveyed 1,000 Israelis from all different walks of life in mid-June and had a 3.3 percent margin of error…

Iran to build nuclear war head?

On Monday, the head of the United Nations Nuclear Agency announced their plans to publish new information serving as supporting evidence that Iran could be working on a nuclear warhead.
The comments by International Atomic Energy Agency Chief Yukiya Amano were the first time he revealed plans to release some of the recent knowledge available to the IAEA that is causing concerns.

A Syrias Situation on the Jewish Country’s Border?

Syria’s Bashar al-Assad has ordered his military chiefs to launch another operation on the Golan Heights.

DebkaFile reports:
Assad’s preparations entail three additional steps:

1. He has filled the vacant position of deputy chief of staff with Gen. Ali Ayub, commander of the 1st Formation made up of the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th Divisions, deployed until now on the Golan Heights and Mt. Hermon borders with Israel. Its personnel have been left out of Assad’s military campaign against the opposition until now.

2. Those divisions, made up mainly or Sunni conscripts, have begun pulling back from their positions on the Syrian-Israeli border and are heading north. For the first time, therefore, Assad feels he can safely send Sunni troops into battle against protesters and is not afraid to leave his borders undefended against an Israeli attack.

3. The Syrian president holds Erdogan responsible for authorizing the Turkish army and his National Intelligence Organization-MIT to set up a state-of-the-art command center for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood at Jabal al-Zawiya in the Syrian province of Idlib near the Turkey border. He believes it is working with a parallel command center on the Turkish side which directs the steps of Syrian protest tacticians against the Assad regime.

A Strange Relationship: Israel, Egypt, and introducing Ghost!

If there is anything bizarre about the Middle East, besides permitting genocide in Syria, it is Israel’s strange relationship with an Egypt that still exists in a state of formless static – still no elections, alas no formal government. After a coordinated terror attack on the road to Eilat that left eight Israeli nationals dead (The Popular Resistance Committee claimed responsibility) IDF soldiers accidently killed four Egyptian police officers, victims of friendly fire.

The IDF also was successful in their retaliation by killing the top commanders of the Popular Resistance Committee and setting off cross-border exchanges of gunfire.

Needlessly, Israel released a public apology for the incident. But on Friday as evening prayers were winding down, the people of Cairo rioted, vandalizing the Israeli embassy, burning Israeli flags and calling on Hamas to attack Israel. Dually noted, as the Associated Foreign Press reported, Egyptian Presidential hopeful, Hamdin Sabahi, praised the actions of the demonstrators.

Despite the fact that Ilan Grapel, the alleged Mossad agent arrested back in June in Egypt, (an American citizen who served in the IDF Paratrooper’s Brigade during the Second Lebanon War and interned at the Israeli Supreme Court) is still being held in custody, Israeli President Shimon Peres held a Ramadan dinner for senior Arab sector officials at his home in Jerusalem. Peres told Egyptian diplomat Mustafa al-Kuni that “he has great respect for the Egyptian people.”
Meanwhile, Israel remains under a rain of rocket fire, while Hamas claims to be in fire of an immediate ceasefire.

In other news, over the weekend, Israel Aerospace Industries unveiled its latest development in the secret unmanned aerial vehicles sector – a tiny aircraft weighing four kilograms, known as GHOST. According to Haaretz, “GHOST has a low acoustic signature, and can stay airborne for half-an-hour including a payload for both daytime and nighttime observations.” The unmanned aerial vehicle can be used by both the military company as well as fighters in the field. The system can be carried in two backpacks by fighters, and it includes two aircrafts, several batteries and a portable computer that is used to oversee and control the device, including communication.

Seizing the Victoria

Last Tuesday, the Israeli Navy seized a German merchant vessel chartered by a French company transporting weapons from Syria to Gaza 200 miles west off the Israeli. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said the “Victoria” ship sailed under the Liberian flag and was carrying various types of weapons.

Netanyahu said:

“We had reason to assume the ship carried weapons meant to hurt Israeli citizens. The source of the weapons is Iran…The takeover was carried out mid sea in accordance with international law. The ship is being escorted to Ashdod.”

In addition to weapons, the soldiers that boarded the “Victoria” found a radar used for detecting ships prior to the launch of anti-ship missiles.

At least four anti-ship missiles with a range of roughly 22 miles was found on the vessel. Deputy Navy Commander Rear Admiral Rani Ben-Yehuda said the C-704 missiles were a threat to Israeli sea-based strategic installations and navy vessels.

During the Second Lebanon War, in 2006, a Chinese-made C-802 missile struck the INS Hanit off the coast of Beirut, killing four Israeli sailors.

En route to Alexandria, Egypt from Syria, the ship docked at Turkey’s Mersin Port. It is thought that the weapons on board were meant for terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

Security officials had been tracking the vessel for several days. It is thought the weapons were intended to pass Rafah’s tunnels en route to Gaza hence avoiding the naval blockade.

Netanyahu authorized the Navy operation Monday night and was briefed on the developments on Tuesday. The PM told a conference in Eilat Tuesday afternoon:

“Iran sends weapons to terrorist organizations in Gaza that would target the heads of our children. It is our right and duty to take action. We will unload the equipment and show it to the world, a world that rushes to blame Israel, which is struggling for the lives of its citizens.”

Also on Tuesday, IDF Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, told Defense Minister Ehud Barak that the weapons found on the ship. The Foreign Ministry informed German authorities of the arrest as the ship belongs to a German company as well as the government of Liberia.
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Tohu Bohu in the Middle East

Who’s up for a game of Middle East Twister?

Monday night, residents of Gaza shot a volley of powerful mortar shells and Grad rockets at the western Negev. One rocket hit Ofakim and one landed in Netivot, almost hitting a Jewish wedding celebration, where a “Color Red” rocket alert system sounded. Four were treated for shock and one vehicle was damaged.

The Eshkol Regional Council reported a mortar attack originating from Gaza – the shell, thank God, landed in an open area.

protestor holds up Mubarak's face with Star of David painted on his foreheadThis attack on Israel is impressive given the fact that Hamas police were busy trying to prevent their own from demonstrating in solidarity with the Egyptian pandemonium.

Gazan activist, Asma al-Ghoul, said she and a small group of protesters gathered in central Gaza City Tuesday when police stopped their peace demonstration. Police detained and beat some demonstrators. Al-Ghoul was accused by female police of being a “bad Muslim” because she did not cover her hair.

The New York-based Human Rights watch called on Hamas to “stop arbitrarily interfering with peaceful demonstrations about Egypt or anything else.”

Gaza MilitantsThe PA in the West Bank also put the lid on a protest to buttress the chaotic civilian-operation to oust Mubarak. The police out-numbered the Palestinian civilians, 3-to-1. Protesters were shoved and were threatened with clubs. Police, in classic Fatah fashion, prevented journalists from filming or photographing the action.

Mahmoud Abbas canceled local elections in 2009 when it appeared Fatah would lose to independents.

The Palestinian Authority has not actually held elections since 2006; PM Salam Fayyad, however, said he will set the date for a vote next week.

Jordan’s King Abdullah after weeks of opposition protests inspired by regime ouster in Tunisia and turmoil in Egypt, names his former ex-military advisor Marouf Bakhit as new prime minister with orders to carry out ‘true political reforms.

Biden Tell it like it IS:

Can Peace Really Be Just a Stone’s Throw Away?

Last Sunday marked the 38th anniversary of the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Olympic games in Munich, Germany. On September 5th, 1972, PLO terrorists slaughtered the young men after a botched rescue attempt by German commandos.

The victims’ names: Mark Slavin, David Berger, Kahat Shore, Eliezer Halfin, Andrey Shpitzer, Yosef Guttfreund, Zev Friedman, Amitzur Shapira, Moshe Weinberg, Yosef Romano and Yacov Springer are now immortalized in a big budget, 2005 motion picture by American film director, Steven Spielberg, appropriately called, “Munich.”

Meanwhile, disgruntled Islamists fired at a vehicle carrying Israeli Border Police on Monday, near the Arab town of Kalansawa, actually located in central Israel. Two of the policemen were wounded and taken to Kfar Saba’s Meir Hospital where they recovered.

On Sunday, a two-year-old baby was wounded slightly when Arabs hurled rocks at a car driving in Halhoul, north of Hevron. The child was evacuated to Shaarei Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem.

Last Thursday, a 12-year-old girl from Har Bracha was wounded in a rock-throwing ambush near Ariel. On Friday she underwent head surgery at the Schneider Children’s Hospital in Petach Tikva. She is currently in the Intensive Care Unit.

And last week, two days after Hamas shooters opened fire at a car near Kiryat Arba killing four Israeli civilians, more shots were fired at a vehicle traveling in the area between the settlement Kochav Yaakov and Rimonim Junction, wounding two more Israeli civilians, also in the West Bank last Wednesday.

According to the IDF Twitter feed on September 3:

“30 rioters in Bi’lin hurled rocks @ security forces who responded using riot dispersal means and 50 rioters gathered in Ni’lin hurled rocks @ security forces + burning tires @ the security fence.”

Because of these incidents, the United States has temporarily banned its diplomats from traveling to the West Bank and even Jerusalem’s Old City.

Also, overnight Monday, in response to the West Bank terrorist aggression, the Israel Air Force struck a terror tunnel and two smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip. The terror tunnel was being used for infiltration into Israel and executing terror attacks against IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians such as the occurrences in the West Bank.

Free Free Palestine

According to Ha’aretz, a U.S.-based pro-Palestinian organization is planning to fly a plane-load of aid to Gaza, in defiance of the Israeli blockade. The flight was originally scheduled for this coming spring.

The California-based Free Palestine Movement which is sponsoring the flight has been linked to the IHH, which sent the floatillas from Turkey in May.

Obviously it would be challenging at best for Israeli forces to intercept an airplane without causing casualties.

Anyway, despite the blockade, according to the IDF Twitter feed on September 1st:

“336 truckloads of food, fuel & gas [legally] entered the Gaza Strip yesterday (112 via Karni + 224 via the Kerem Shalom Crossing).”

For the record, More than 100 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israeli territory since the beginning of 2010, and over 400 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel since the end of Operation Cast Lead.

Gaza 2010

There are those in the world that are obsessed with pointing out the oppression and the struggle, and are quick to add fuel to the fire. There is little chance they would want to show these pictures.

In general people tend to always look for the dark side and the “ongoing struggle” that must go on. Maybe it sells better. But when no one was looking this happened…

Gaza 2010..
Take a good look. This is worth preserving and growing. This is what it can be like all over the PA.

Two Sides of Gaza

Hard Times

For those familiar with social policies in Saudi Arabia the following should not come as such a surprise:

According to a new Hamas law, women in Gaza are forbidden to smoke tobacco water pipes; the latest in a year long campaign to enforce gradually a strict life code on the citizens of the Gaza strip. Hamas has also banned women from riding motorbikes, impoverished women from riding behind their husbands on cheap Vespas; and teenage girls must cover up in loose robes and headscarves.

Men are targeted by Hamas officials if they are seen alongside women in public and if they dress in ways considered too Western, such as shorts and a T-shirt.

Last year, a 23-year-old man was interrogated for a week because of rumors that he was gay. In another case, the New York-based Human Rights Watch reported that a gay man was being held in a Gaza jail.

Gaza
Better Times

Meanwhile, on another note, TomGrossmedia.com, a personal blog reported on bustling and crowded food markets in Gaza and the construction of a new Olympic-size public swimming pool,

“No shortage of building materials or water here”

observed Gross. He also mentioned luxury restaurants, “where you can dine on steak au poivre and chicken cordon bleu”. Well, lastly brought to attention in this personal blog was an impressive new shopping mall on the strip.

My point is not that the residents of Gaza should not have these things, but it is much to the contrary of the Western Media’s portrayal of the region, justifying human rights flotillas, for example.

PRACTICAL PALESTINE POLICY: Pushing Pragmatism Under the Magic Carpet

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research has conducted a new poll which revealed that the vast majority of Arabs who are living under the American-backed Palestinian Authority are opposed to attempts by the PA to prevent them from working construction jobs in local Jewish communities.

This was brought to Western attention last winter in the first laps of the settlement freeze by publications such as The Christian Science Monitor and OneJerusalem.com – that is the sheer lack of pragmatism behind the freeze.

The Palestinian Authority prohibition on working in Jewish communities, such as the boycott of local Jewish products, was essentially designed to augment the effect of the 10-month settlement freeze forced down the Middle Eastern throat by one US President, Barack Obama last September. The catch is that a high percentage of Arabs living under the Fatah-led PA earn their livelihoods, sometimes solely from local Jewish construction projects.
Therefore, as writes independent Israeli reporter Avi Yellin in the IsraelNationalNews.com

“They have been some of the most unrecognized victims of the politically-motivated building freeze…”

In addition to the cruel scarcity of construction work – that is the main source of income for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, which has resulted from the US-imposed building freeze, the PA boycott on Jewish products is being ardently enforced by PA security forces. Troops trained by United States Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, have been working to furrow out Arab merchants suspected of violating the boycott.

According to the poll, conducted between June 10 and 13, the vast majority of Arabs in Judea, Samaria and the Hamas-controlled Gaza region are opposed to being kept from working construction jobs in Jewish towns. Contrary to the staunch song sung by the press portraying Palestinian nationalists set on driving Israel from Judea and Samaria, the majority of Palestinian Arabs just want to provide food for their families.
According to the poll, the majority, that is 60% to 38% of all Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza oppose the prohibition. Deducting ancient Gaza, where Jewish citizens may no longer roam, support for the ban drops to 34% percent.

Israeli Protest In Front Of The Turkish Embassy Tonight

Following recent events at sea, and especially Turkey’s reaction to these events, many Israeli groups are coming together in protest against the attacks on the IDF and its conduct.

One such demonstration is set to take place tonight in front of the Turkish Embassy in Tel-Aviv, for those intersted details in Hebrew are below.


הערב יום חמישי 3/6/2010 19.00

רח’ הירקון 202 ת”א , שגרירות טורקיה


ההפגנה מיועדת לכל מי שחפץ להגיע בכדי לתמוך בצה”ל ההפגנה בשיתוף מלא עם אוהדי בית”ר שיגיעו בהמוניהם בכדי לתמוך בצה”ל במדינה, ובכדי למחות כנגד התנהלות חברי כנסת מסויימים וכמו כן נגד מדינות שבלשון המעטה לא עושות טוב עם מדינת ישראל, ההפגנה לא רק של אוהדי בית”ר, ההפגנה הזאת מיועדת לכל מי שמעוניין להגיע לתמוך בחיילי צה”ל.
ולהגיד לממשלת טורקיה ולארדואן התככן – עד כאן

ההפגנה אומנם אורגנה ×¢”×™ אירגוני אוהדי בית”ר ירושלים-אך נועדה לכל עם ישראל

בואו, העבירו לכל אדם, הגיעו! לא לשכוח להגיע עם צעיפים ודגלי ישראל

יום חמישי, שעה 19:00, ת”א רח’ הירקון 202 , מול שגרירות טורקיה

צו 8 לכולם


אם אינך יכול להגיע לתל אביב – הפגנות תמיכה מתקיימות בכל הצמתים ברחבי הארץ

בימים אלו תלו דגל ישראל על הרכב ובחלונות הבית

אוטובוס
מתל-אביב,תחנה מרכזית חדשה לרחוב הירקון

קו 174 אגד , 06:26 06:35; 06:37; מ06:50 עד 06:56 כל 2 דקות; 07:12; 07:17; 07:19; 07:20; 07:34; 07:35; קו 175 אגד , 06:58 07:18; 08:23;


כולם מוזמנים להצטרף (כולל אוהדי קבוצות אחרות), כי זו המדינה שלנו
והלוחמים הם מיטב בנינו ואחינו

ביום הזה שמים הכל בצד כי יש דבר אחד חשוב

“אין לנו ארץ אחרת”

כל מי שחיילי צה”ל חשובים לו, כל מי שהמדינה היקרה לליבו , שיגיע לתמוך


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נא הכינו שלטים ,הביאו כל דבר שיכול לעזור
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

נא להישמע להנחיות השוטרים ולהימנע מלהתעמת עם אחינו

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כל הירושלמים שבאים בואו לתחנה מרכזית ב4 ניסע יחד כולנו לתחנה מרכזית בתל
אביב ומשם להפגנה

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חברים יקרים מי שיכול להכין שלטים נודה לו מאוד למרות שכולנו נכין ונתרום אבל
מי שיכול ספציפית עם הסיסמאות הבאות זה יהיה מעולה

“Avrupa Birligine kabulde iyi sandor teror yandaslari!!”
it means: “good luck with the Europian Union, terror supporters”
“Erdo?an Kan senin Ellerinde!!” (emphesize “Kan”)
it means: “Erduan, the blood is on your hands!!”

עם ישראל מחזק את ידי חיילי צה”ל

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