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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.

We Love Death as Much as the Jews Like Life – Hamas

Again we are going for another round with Hamas. This time its “Pillar of Cloud”. It all started with the Hamas firing rockets for the last few weeks. Israel waited for the right time and started the operation with the killing of Ahmed Ja’abari, Hamas’s most senior military commander.

Since then 3 Israelis were killed when the top floor of a building in Qiryat Malachi was blown away. On the palestinian side, 39 Palestinians are dead. Hamas fired over 650 rockets into Israel, hitting cities in the south like Ashkelon, Sderot, Beear Sheva, Ashdod, Rishon LeZion, and the 40 KM strip around the southern border with Gaza. What is different this time is the rockets fired at Tel Aviv. There were two sirens so far followed by rockets that landed in open spaces (no damage).

The government received approval for a military reserve recruitment of 75,000 soldiers. The picture you see was published in facebook – it shows a 9 month pregnant woman saying goodbye to her husband who was just called up in this latest recruitment.

I said it before and I’ll say it again. This will never end. We will always have to keep them at bay. Every so often we will need to initiate a retaliation, or some sort of deterring move to stop them from thinking we are getting too soft. They don’t want us here. They will never make peace with us. They want us dead.

Someone told me about this video clip, and its worth a look. It explains the Middle East crisis in a very plain nutshell.

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…

Hamas Will Never Recognize Israel – Haniyeh


Hamas’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was visiting Iran this week to thank the Iranian leaders for their continuing support of the Hamas movement. There, he made some bold statements that Israel would never be recognized by Hamas, and that all Palestinian lands would eventually get liberated from the presence of Israel. These statements came as Haniyeh was on a regular visit in Tehran, and are not that surprising knowing the goals of the organization. But what do these statements mean for the long term peace in the region, especially with the upcoming election, and how will the other nations react?

According to Haniyeh, “they (West) want from us to stop resistance and acknowledge Israel but I herewith announce that this will never happen.” That’s what he said through an interpreter while on his visit in Iran. These are of course the thoughts of many Palestinians, but to hear them once again from the leader of the movement means there is no doubt what their policies would be, should they win the upcoming Palestinian election. While at the ceremony marking the 33rd anniversary of the Iranian revolution, both Haniyeh and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met in private to discuss policies, along with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It’s clear that the statements were aimed at supporters, adding “our message and the message of all those who lost their blood in the Palestinian lands is that all occupied lands will eventually be liberated from Israeli occupation.”

Two years ago, a ground breaking Palestinian election paved the way for future peace, but ended up in violence, like so many things in this region. After a year of fighting, Hamas ended up victorious, but it didn’t change much for the ordinary people living in Gaza. Again, we’re facing yet another upcoming election, and already tensions are high. Hamas will once again face Fatah for control of the Palestinian lands, but neither Israel nor the west recognize the legitimacy of Hamas, seeing them as a terrorist organization, which isn’t helped much when western leaders hear statements like that, basically calling for the eradication of an entire country. While there hasn’t been any direct response from other world leaders as to what Haniyeh said, it’s likely to add fuel to the fire, and make the upcoming elections even harder than they will almost certainly be.

In the end, regardless of whether the statements are public or not, it’s clear what the organization wants, and there’s little doubt that more violence will come, and as usual the ones paying the price are usually the innocent bystanders.

Palestinian elections move forward, but will this change anything?

A voter registration office was opened in the Gaza Strip by the political rivals Hamas and Fatah last week, bringing the region one step forward toward presidential and parliamentary elections. These are set to happen later this spring, and we could see once more the two rivals pit against each other in a democratic process. But as this step is taken, and Palestine moves toward yet another election, will this really change much of anything in the region? Will peace prevail? It’s hard to see that as a likely outcome with everything that goes on behind the scenes.

We all recall how the last elections went. In 2006, Hamas won the elections, and it took a year until they managed to get control over Gaza, which they had to wrestle by force. Meanwhile, nearly the whole world considers them as a terrorist group, because of a multitude of attacks on civilians, which they say were provoked by Israel military forces.

Meanwhile, Israel isn’t sitting by, and is arresting any member of Hamas it can find, accusing them of being terrorists, some of which were actually planning to be delegates in the coming election. Tensions aren’t any lower than they’ve been in decades, and while a few people actively work toward peace, there’s a lot of anger in the air. Regardless who wins this election, once again it won’t be done without violence, that much is certain. History is very plain, and tends to repeat itself, especially when it comes to this region of the world.

On the one hand, if Hamas wins, then the situation will be the same as in 2006, with few countries recognizing them as a legitimate organization, and few people willing to let them take power without violence. On the other hand, if Fatah wins, it will be hailed by the world as a victory for peace, which will anger Hamas and they are unlikely to sit still, prompting once again more violence. The situation has been going on for decades, and there seems to be no solution in sight.

Imposing peace has never worked without a strong military presence behind, and everyone is careful not to appear biased or to provoke the anger of the world powers. As a result, the same things keep happening, with Israel trying to bring some order to what they consider their lands, prompting retaliation strikes on civilian populations, which in turn brings more violence. It’s a circle that won’t be broken by yet another round of elections.

Overall, it’s still nice to see a peace process go forward, and this action of a new voting booth should be applauded. But in reality, it’s unlikely to change much at all.

In and Around Hamas

The Hamas Treatment:

While Gilad Shalit is not being hounded by Israeli press, and even had a hugging session this week with President Shimon Peres for a tear-jerking chat, here’s how Hamas is treating their people, recently freed from an Israeli prison.

Ma’an News Agency reports that those sent to Gaza “will stay in hotels for three weeks or until they each get a private apartment, car, and a job.”

Ismail Haniyeh already announced he will give each of the released prisoners $2,000. Ma’an also reports:

“… future income will be gained through jobs provided for each prisoner, said Saber Abu Karsh, a prisoners advocate in Gaza. Haniyeh has ordered that the released prisoners be given all assistance to help them re-enter society, he said. If that’s not enough, the Palestinian cellphone company Jawwal has offered each freed prisoner a mobile phone with a credit of 500 shekels ($140)… “

The Bloomberg Approval:

New York City Mayor Bloomberg defended the prisoner swap on Sunday, saying:

“I just know that the government of Israel had to make a decision and they didn’t walk away from the decision, they made one, and that’s what governing is all about…There’s no simple solutions to complex problems…Israel has a strong tradition of always bringing people back…And I’m sure that is something that all Israelis feel. And I’m not in a position to make a decision for the Israeli government of what they should do in any one situation.”

The Libyan Enticement:

Reuters reports,

“5,000 unemployed Palestinians have registered over the past week at a Gaza trade union office for jobs they hope will materialize in post-Gaddafi Libya… Hundreds of Palestinians who worked in Libya returned to the Palestinian territories after the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s 42 years of one-man rule erupted in February.”

In other news, Ma’an reports:
“Egyptian authorities prevented Gazan journalist and author Mustafa al-Sawwaf from leaving the Strip on Monday to participate in a media meeting in Iran.”
The Hamas affiliated journalist was on route to Tehran to participate in a meeting about the formation of a union for Islamic media, a Ma’an correspondent said, but was prevented from leaving Gaza at the Rafah crossing. No reason was given by Egyptian authorities for not granting al-Sawwaf permission to enter via Rafah.

Al-Sawwaf said that he resents the way Egyptian authorities treat Palestinians and called for changes to be made by the Egyptian government at the Rafah crossing to prevent unnecessary humiliation and security procedures, a Ma’an correspondent reported. Al-Sawwaf is a columnist at the Hamas-run Gaza newspaper website Filastin Online. He said that he also holds a great respect for Egypt, pointing out that he has never committed any crime against the country.”

And then reality sets in…

On Tuesday, thousands of flag-waving Palestinians in Gaza celebrated the homecoming of hundreds of prisoners exchanged for Shalit, chanting for Hamas to seize yet more Israeli soldiers! “The people want a new Gilad!” they chanted.

They must have been fond of the young Jewish man.

Bradley burst-out-laughing Burston blogged the following blurb in blatant Palestinian approval over at Haaretz:

“The deal is a remnant of an Israel which is fast disappearing. It is a remnant of a particular brand of quiet, exceptional courage. It is an expression of a national character that goes generally ignored in a media environment which prizes the extreme over the honorable. It is evidence of a people true to values which time and sectarian agendas may appear to have diluted and erased.”

He goes on:

“The list of the terrorists being released is unendurable. The numbers are beyond understanding. Until you consider that this is how it’s always been.”

And on:

“In Israel’s nine prisoner exchanges with Arab enemies, dating back to the first, 54 years ago, Israel has freed 13,509 prisoners in order to win the release of a total of 16 soldiers. An average of well over 800 for each one. This is the price.”

Meanwhile, early Sunday morning, rightist activists broke into the home of Justice
Minister Yaakov Neeman to protest the deal they deemed perilously disproportionate.
The rightist activist Baruch Marzel commented on the protests, saying Neeman “has done absolutely nothing” during his term and that his first act is “giving amnesty to 600 murderers.”

Protests were also held at the home of President Shimon Peres.

In another corner of the Shalit story the despotic Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly telephoned Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas to extend congratulations on the terror organization’s victory which he said in a statement to Arab press is the “fruit of strong and continued resistance against the Zionist regime… No doubt this is a great victory for the Palestinian nation and all Muslims and for freedom- and justice-seeking people of the world, and independent nations are as happy as the oppressed Palestinian people over this issue…”

In the statement Ahmajinejad’s reference to Haniyeh as the “Palestinian Prime Minister” without making any reference to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Coming HOME

Gilad Shalit Free October 18, 2011We just watched the first pictures of Gilad Shalit being handed off to the Egyptians in the Rafah border crossing by Hamas. He was handed off literally, by the man who engineered the kidnapping, Ahmed Jabari. Gilad wears a baseball cap and looks thin, pale and a little dazed. We are all a little dazed today.

It seems like we are all watching this today. Feeling this joy and happiness that he is actually coming home. For 1,941 days he has been held with very little contact except for sparse communications, a letter, a video recorded message and the occasional verifications by mediators that he is alive.

After Ron Arad there was the feeling that Gilad will become another ghost that will fade and disappear. Gilad’s family, a quiet introverted family that lives in a quiet rural village, Mitzpe Hila.

I am watching the interview with Gilad on Egyptian TV, a disturbing aggressive and abusive interview, being aired right now. He looks like he can barely breath, he is out of breath, his eyes are deep set and he seems overwhelmed by the aggressive questions of the (the bitch Shahira Amin) reporter that is oblivious to the fact he is about to pass out in front of her. The Egyptians forced this interview for the sake of political credit and this was not part of the deal. Pathetic on every level!

He is worth 1,027 terrorists. Worth every one of them. 1000 times more then all of them.

al-Zahar vs. Mashaal: a rocky road for Hamas

The recent conflict between Mahmoud al-Zahar, the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Gaza, and Damascus-based Hamas political bureau leader Khaled Mashaal demonstrates the animosity within the Hamas leadership in Gaza and Syria.

Al-Zahar demands that Hamas-Gaza be given a more authoritative role in decision-making, while the Hamas leadership abroad contends that the axis of power is better kept outside of Palestine-proper.

Since Israeli’s tragic 2005 Gaza disengagement, Hamas’ victory in the Israel-granted parliamentary elections of 2006, and Hamas’ military takeover of the region in June 2007, the Hamas government has secured notable political and economic power, as evidenced by foreign relations and has imposed taxes on imports from Israel and Egypt. The result is a deteriorated dependence of Hamas-Gaza on the Hamas leadership abroad.

Also, the consolidation of the Hamas regime in Gaza, where the central military forces of the al-Qassam Brigades are stationed, gradually has shifted the balance of power inside Hamas. Al-Zahar challenged Mashaal’s authority to lead the movement, arguing that the center of power should be moved from abroad to “inside” Palestine. After the creation of the

Palestinian Authority in1994, Fatah underwent a similar process.
The current main interest of Mashaal is to promote reconciliation with Fatah in order to pave the way for Hamas to join the PLO and take over the organization, however, such issues such as Hamas’ not backing the Abbas-led bid for statehood at the UN are prolonging the rift between the geopolitical Palestinian factions.

On May 17th, al-Zahar was asked by the Palestinian daily al-Quds for his reaction to Mashaal’s statement:

“The position of the [Hamas] movement regarding the negotiations and the resistance has not changed. We’re in favor of the way of resistance, and the way of negotiations was and still contradicts the position of the majority of the Palestinian people, who voted for Hamas in the 2006 general elections. Today, there is someone saying that we’re giving Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] the option to hold a new round of negotiations [with Israel]. We did not agree to the negotiations and we did not encourage him [Abbas] to hold negotiations. On the contrary, we embarrassed him day and night on this issue of negotiations. Therefore, what happened on the day in which the reconciliation agreement was signed was not agreed upon [within Hamas], we don’t recognize it and I think that it does not express the position of the movement, whose platform is based on resistance, not negotiations…. ”

…We did not agree to these statements and we were surprised when it was said. The world should know that there was no change in the position of the movement regarding resistance, as it is the only way. We can only negotiate issues within the framework of resistance.”

One Way to Solve the Housing Crisis

In a story broken by NYGrime’s Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Ethan Bronner, the US State Department said it would withdraw $100m of funds to the Gaza Strip, if Hamas insists on the audit of American-financed charitable operations in the region.

Such funds go to health care, agriculture and water infrastructure. Hamas officials suspended International Medical Corps operating in Gaza upon their refusal to submit to Hamas inspections in their offices.

Now, despite the Fatah/Hamas merger meant to strengthen the Palestinian Authority, after slight guerilla warfare and a war of attrition between the factions called the Wakseh, the United States still forbids any kind of direct contact between American-backed groups and Hamas, which is considered by the State Department as terrorist organization.

Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nounou told the NYGrimes:

“These organizations do not recognize and do not want to recognize the Palestinian law. We do not kneel down to any threat. Any organization that wants to operate in the Palestinian territories must respect the laws.”

Hamas has been tightening the noose on NGOs in Gaza, demanding that they register with the central government, pay a fee and submit financial reports.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is seeking, despite adversity coming from Israel, the US and other heavyweights, a state without Jewish settlements.
To prove how far away the issue is from any feasible solution, on Thursday Israel’s Interior Ministry gave approval to build a 1,600-apartment complex in East Jerusalem in Ramat Shlomo and will soon be approving an additional 2,700 housing units there. Last week, Israel planned 936 new homes in Har Homa also in East Jerusalem, Jerusalem being the proposed capitol of a Palestinian State. Housing in East Jerusalem makes up more than 35% of projects in the city.
Interior Minister and Shas leader Eli Yishai suggested that expanding Ramat Shlomo was meant to alleviate a housing shortage which partly ignited a wave of protests throughout the country demanding social and economic reforms.

42 lawmakers, more than a third of Israel’s parliament, urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to solve the housing crisis by building tens of thousands of new units. This includes Judea and Samaria.

Peace Now, the Israeli NGO who advocates the dismantling of the settlements said there is no connection between expanding Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem
Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator said the building was “further proof that this government is committed to investing in occupation rather than peace…Recognizing the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and supporting our admission to the UN is the appropriate response to Israel’s rejectionist and expansionist agenda…”

G8 in Bed with Hamas. Why?

Stephen Harper G8 2011Why is the G-8 in bed with Hamas? Why is it that when Abu Mazen, now serving year seven of a four year term joins forces with a true blue terror organization, the world, the West, who pays with their blood for the ideology of Islamic extremism thanks him?

Is it the same force that expelled Israel from this land 2000 years ago? That kept Jews oppressed throughout the world by the cross, by the crescent? The same force that nearly wiped out European Jewry during the Nazi regime?

The leaders of the G-8: Britain, France, Germany (the largest European sponsor of the Palestinians), Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States all agree on pressuring Israel to retreat to its pre-67 borders. Only Canada stood by its Jewish allies and were subsequently thanked by Foreign Minister Lieberman.

Meanwhile Abu Mazen will be returning to Cairo for the second time since signing the unity pact with Hamas. The talks to be held with the head of Egypt’s Higher Military Council, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, will be centered on declaring statehood at the United Nations in September.

Abu Mazen – you bad ass!

Meanwhile, after Egypt opened up the Rafah crossing with Gaza last week, a Qassam rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip landing in Israel near the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries were reported.

That’s life.

Below, Jackie Mason rants about Israel giving away land:

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