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December 29, 2008

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Hamas TV: 180 Killed Are from Hamas Armed Forces - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch-FrontPageMagazine)
    Hamas TV acknowledged Sunday that the vast majority of those killed are from the Hamas military.
    A news ticker announced: More than 180 Palestinian policemen were killed including the [Police] Commander, General Tawfik Jaber.

Iran Orders Muslims to Defend Palestinians in Gaza - Zahra Hosseinian (Reuters)
    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a religious decree to Muslims around the world on Sunday, ordering them to defend Palestinians against Israel's attacks in Gaza, state television said.
    Khamenei also criticized some Arab governments for their "encouraging silence" towards the Israeli raids in Gaza.
    See also Iran Holds Anti-Israeli Demonstration, Recruits for Fight in Gaza (DPA)

Egypt Police Repel Palestinians on Tense Gaza Border (AFP-France 24)
    Egyptian police fired in the air near the Gaza border town of Rafah on Sunday to prevent Palestinians entering Egypt after Israel launched air strikes to destroy tunnels along the tense frontier. "Dozens of civilians tried to break through the Barahma crossing," an official said.
    An Egyptian security official said there were at least five breaches along the 9-mile border and hundreds of Palestinian residents were pouring in. Residents also commandeered a bulldozer to open new breaches. (Ha'aretz)
    See also Egyptian Border Guard Killed by Hamas - Yusri Mohamed (Reuters)
    Hamas security forces shot dead an Egyptian border guard on Sunday, Egyptian state television said. An Egyptian security source said Hamas forces had also shot an Egyptian policeman in the leg.
    The incidents took place near the main border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, where Egyptian riot police fired in the air to try to drive back Palestinians who had managed to penetrate the border wall.
    Gaza hospitals said they were treating ten people wounded by Egyptian police shooting at Rafah.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq Suicide Bomber Hits Anti-Israel Protest (AFP)
    "One civilian was killed and 16 were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up when he rode his bicycle into the middle of an anti-Israeli demonstration in the city" of Mosul, Iraq, local police Major Wael Rasheed said. The protest was sponsored by the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP).
    Mosul, the country's second largest city, is believed to be the last urban stronghold of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Palestinians Training Kids to Be Suicide Bombers - Harold Evans (U.S. News)
    Investigative journalist Gerald Posner has produced a Web documentary, based on videos culled from television by Palestinian Media Watch, showing children being programmed for terrorism through the exaltation of suicide bombers as heroes.
    "Martyrdom is bliss," a child hostess says, referring to a 14-year-old suicide killer.
    The clips show incessant indoctrination that Islam wants the death of adults and children for Allah and will reward those who achieve Shahada (death for Allah).
    "I have let my land drink my blood, and I have loved the way of Shahada," intones a young boy.
    Video: Tomorrow's Suicide Bombers - Gerald Posner (Daily Beast)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israeli Foreign Minister: Hamas Should Be Condemned by the International Community - Sharon Otterman
    Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told America's Sunday morning talk shows that Hamas, not Israel, "is the one who needs to be condemned by the international community." Livni said on "Fox News Sunday" that the assault in Gaza "is needed in order to change the realities on the ground, and to give peace and quiet to the citizens in southern Israel." She said that until Hamas recognized Israel's right to exist and ceased rocket attacks against Israel, they remained terrorists who needed to be acted against.
        "We are targeting Hamas, we are not looking for civilians to kill," she said on NBC's "Meet the Press." Israel had warned Palestinian civilians to leave places where Hamas officials and fighters were known to be located. "The one who needs to be condemned by the international community is Hamas," she continued. "Israel is a state that implements its right to defend itself and its citizens." The Bush administration has been supportive of the assault, condemning Hamas for its repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel in recent weeks. (New York Times)
        See also Israeli Defense Minister: Israel in All-Out War with Hamas (CNN)
  • With Strikes, Israel Reminds Foes It Has Teeth - Ethan Bronner
    Israel's military operation in Gaza is aimed primarily at forcing Hamas to end its rocket barrages and military buildup. But it has another goal as well: to re-establish Israeli deterrence.
        Mark Heller, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said there was a deep feeling among average Israelis that the country had to regain its deterrent capacity after the 2006 Lebanon war. "There has been a nagging sense of uncertainty in the last couple years of whether anyone is really afraid of Israel anymore," he said. "The concern is that in the past...people didn't mess with Israel because they were afraid of the consequences. Now the region is filled with provocative rhetoric about Israel the paper tiger. This operation is an attempt to re-establish the perception that if you provoke or attack, you are going to pay a disproportionate price."
        The risk to Israel in Gaza is that if the operation fails or leaves Hamas in the position of scrappy survivor or even somehow perceived as the victor, it could then dominate Palestinian politics over the more conciliatory and pro-Western Fatah movement for years to come. (New York Times)
  • Fear of Rockets Sends Israeli Hospital Underground - Aron Heller
    Wary of a missile strike from nearby Gaza, Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital has moved its most essential departments into an underground bomb shelter. In February a rocket from Gaza landed adjacent to the hospital's helicopter pad and in May a rocket crashed into a busy shopping mall in the city, injuring 14 people. On Saturday, Barzilai relocated the most vulnerable departments and placed its least mobile patients - such as those in the geriatric, infant and maternity wards - underground. On Sunday, two rockets fell in Ashkelon itself and another 22 in the surrounding district, as warning sirens sent doctors, patients and guests rushing for cover several times.
        In Barzilai's underground children's ward, sick Gazans lay alongside sick Israelis. Dr. Ron Lobel, the hospital's deputy director, said that his facility had close ties with Gaza's Shifa hospital, and accepted many of its patients who need treatment the Gazan hospital cannot provide. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Killed, Ten Wounded as Palestinian Rocket Hits Ashkelon
    An Israeli man was killed Monday morning and ten were wounded when a Grad-type missile fired by Palestinians in Gaza hit a construction site in the center of Ashkelon. Most of those at the site were Arab construction workers from Rahat and the Galilee. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hizbullah-Type Rockets Fired at Israel from Gaza - Yaakov Lappin
    Two Katyusha rockets that Hamas fired deep into Israel on Sunday are the same type launched by Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War, an Israel Police source said. One Katyusha hit in Gan Yavne, 35 km. north of Gaza, and the second struck near Ashdod, 40 km. from Gaza. Police sappers who analyzed the projectiles said they carried six to seven kilograms of explosives each, and identified them as 122-millimeter PIPE type-81 Katyusha rockets. The rockets contained metal balls designed to act as shrapnel, and the intended effects were visible at a nearby home which looked as if it had been sprayed with a machine gun. Large, gaping holes peppered the front of the house. (Jerusalem Post)
        The two long-range Katyushas were made either in China or Iran. (Ha'aretz)
  • Air Force Hits Explosives Laboratories at Islamic University in Gaza - Yaakov Katz
    The Israel Air Force on Monday targeted two laboratories at the Islamic University in Gaza City which served as research and development centers for Hamas' military wing. The development of explosives was done under the auspices of university professors. The IDF said rockets and explosives were stored in the buildings. On Sunday, Israel struck at 40 tunnels along the Philadelphi Corridor at the Egypt-Gaza border. The majority of the Palestinians killed in the raids have been policemen and gunmen belonging to Izaddin Kassam, human rights activists and medical sources said Sunday.
        Israel decided Sunday to allow the transfer of 100 trucks into Gaza carrying donations of medical supplies and food from Jordan, Turkey and international organizations. According to a poll broadcast Sunday on Channel 10, 81% of Israelis support the war in Gaza and only 17% oppose it. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Jerusalem: No International Pressure to End Gaza Operation - Herb Keinon
    Israel is feeling "no real pressure" from the international community to end the operation in Gaza, senior diplomatic officials said Sunday. Publicly, Israeli officials maintain, some world leaders - especially leaders of Muslim states or countries with large Muslim populations - must harshly condemn Israel's actions to pacify public opinion, while privately they support them. Israeli officials pointed to the tepid statement that emerged from the UN Security Council as proof that serious pressure on Israel to end the operation had not yet begun.
        According to the Syrian press, Syria notified Turkey it was ceasing all indirect talks with Israel as a result of the operation. In any event, the last round of indirect talks was held in July. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Key Arab States Hope for Weakened Hamas - Zvi Barel
    Judging by Arab leaders' statements to the media, or the slogans shouted by demonstrators in several Arab capitals, one might have thought that Egypt, not Israel, was the one waging war in Gaza. Thus far, Hamas has not succeeded in generating an Arab diplomatic initiative that would lead to a renewed cease-fire on its terms. Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which view Hamas as an Iranian ally whose goal is to increase Tehran's regional influence at their expense, prefer to wait a bit in the hopes that Israel's military operation will strip Hamas of its ability to dictate terms. And without those two states, the Arab League will have trouble even convening an emergency summit. The absence of such a summit indicates that Arab solidarity with the Palestinians is crumbling under Hamas' leadership.
        Cairo is still furious with Hamas for having torpedoed Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah in November, while Saudi Arabia is wary of launching any new initiative after the reconciliation agreement it brokered between Hamas and Fatah in 2006 collapsed into bloodshed nine months later. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Palestinians Need Israel to Win - Michael B. Oren and Yossi Klein Halevi
    Israel's current operation in Gaza is essential for creating the conditions that could eventually lead to a two-state solution. Gaza is a test case of Israel's ability to restore its deterrence power and uphold the principle that its citizens cannot be targeted with impunity. Without the assurance that they will be allowed to protect their homes and families following any future withdrawals from the West Bank, Israelis will rightly perceive a two-state solution as an existential threat. In addition, Israelis will be unwilling to cede strategically vital territories - including on the Golan Heights - in an international environment in which any attempt to defend themselves will be denounced as unjustified aggression.
        Israel must be allowed to conclude this operation with a decisive victory over Hamas; the untenable situation of intermittent rocket fire and widespread arms smuggling must not be allowed to resume. This is an opportunity to redress Israel's failure to humble Hizbullah in Lebanon in 2006, and to deal a substantial setback to another jihadist proxy of Iran. The writers are fellows at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Recklessness of Hamas - Seth Freedman
    For all that I regularly sound off about almost every facet of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians, I struggle to see what option Israel's leaders had, other than to take the kind of action that they took this weekend. With Hamas refusing to lay down their weapons and resuming their attacks on Israeli civilians, it was plain that Israel was being invited, if not provoked, into an operation to cut the head off the hydra. With tens of thousands of Israeli men, women and children within range of the Kassam rockets, public opinion would demand action to protect those in the line of fire. I suspect that Israel's response was no different to that which citizens of any other state would demand of their leaders in similar circumstances. (Guardian-UK)
  • Observations:

    Did Israel Use "Disproportionate Force" in Gaza? - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Israeli population centers in southern Israel have been the target of over 4,000 rockets, as well as thousands of mortar shells, fired by Hamas and other organizations since 2001. Rocket attacks increased by 500 percent after Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip in August 2005. During an informal six-month lull, some 215 rockets were launched at Israel.
    • The charge that Israel uses disproportionate force keeps resurfacing whenever it has to defend its citizens from non-state terrorist organizations and the rocket attacks they perpetrate. From a purely legal perspective, Israel's current military actions in Gaza are on solid ground. According to international law, Israel is not required to calibrate its use of force precisely according to the size and range of the weaponry used against it.
    • Ibrahim Barzak and Amy Teibel wrote for the Associated Press on December 28 that most of the 230 Palestinians who were reportedly killed were "security forces," and Palestinian officials said "at least 15 civilians were among the dead." The numbers reported indicate that there was no clear intent to inflict disproportionate collateral civilian casualties. What is critical from the standpoint of international law is that if the attempt has been made "to minimize civilian damage, then even a strike that causes large amounts of damage - but is directed at a target with very large military value - would be lawful."
    • Luis Moreno-Orampo, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, explained that international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court "permit belligerents to carry out proportionate attacks against military objectives, even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur." The attack becomes a war crime when it is directed against civilians (which is precisely what Hamas does).
    • After 9/11, when the Western alliance united to collectively topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, no one compared Afghan casualties in 2001 to the actual numbers that died from al-Qaeda's attack. There clearly is no international expectation that military losses in war should be on a one-to-one basis. To expect Israel to hold back in its use of decisive force against legitimate military targets in Gaza is to condemn it to a long war of attrition with Hamas.

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