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Thread: Israel Air Strikes On Gaza Kill 155

  1. #121
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    Israel presses on with Gaza war as death toll tops 850

    http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Israel..._war_0110.html

    1/12/2009

    GAZA CITY (AFP) — Israel pressed its air and ground assault on Hamas in Gaza on Sunday as the death toll in the 16-day-old war passed 850 and the Islamist movement vowed it would not negotiate a truce "under fire."

    Medics in the embattled Gaza Strip said three Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded by heavy Israeli tank fire and air strikes early on Sunday, some allegedly by banned white phosphorous shells that Israel denied using.

    With the body count spiralling, Hamas remained defiant in the face of Egyptian-led efforts to broker a cease fire.

    Top Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said the movement would not accept any truce without the withdrawal of all Israeli forces and the lifting of the blockade slapped on the territory when the Islamists seized power in 18 months ago.

    "With an open mind we will work with any initiative or any resolution but only based on these demands. We will not accept negotiations on a truce under fire," he said.

    A closed-door briefing was told on Saturday that Israeli troops had killed more than 550 Palestinian fighters since the operation began, a senior military official told AFP.

    Army spokesman Jacob Dallal declined to confirm the number but said "several hundred" fighters, most of them from Hamas, had been killed since Israel launched its offensive on December 27.

    "There is no question that the military ability of Hamas has been diminished," he said.

    As fighting spilled over into the early hours of Sunday, the army was accused by Palestinian doctors of using banned white phosphorous shells against civilians, a claim denied categorically by the army.

    A woman was killed and 60 people hurt in tank shelling on a village east of Khan Yunis, said Dr Yusef Abu Rish of the city's Nasser hospital.

    Of those, 55 "were burned over their bodies in a way that can only be caused by white phosphorous," he told AFP.

    His claim was echoed by Dr Muawiya Hassanein, head of Gaza emergency services, who said these weapons had already been used by Israel in the Gaza offensive.

    Army Captain Guy Spigelman rejected the report. "We deny that we were operating in that area."

    He also reiterated what a spokeswoman had said earlier, that "there is no use of white phosphorous. Everything we use is according to international law."

    White phosphorus is used as a smokescreen or for incendiary devices, but can also be deployed as an anti-personnel weapon capable of causing potentially fatal burns.

    Meanwhile, Hamas claimed it was repulsing the Israeli offensive, with Meshaal, the head of its powerful Syria-based politburo, accusing Israel of carrying out a "Holocaust" in Gaza.

    "You have lost on the moral and humanitarian fronts ... and you have created a resistance in every house," Meshaal said in a pre-recorded statement aired on Arab satellite television.

    "I can say with full confidence that on the military level the enemy has totally failed, it has not achieved anything.

    "Has it stopped the rockets?" he asked of Israel's declared aim in launching the offensive.

    Since the Israeli offensive began on December 27, at least 854 people have been killed, including 270 children, 93 women, and 12 paramedics, according to Palestinian medics.

    Another 3,490 people have been wounded, overwhelming Gaza's beleaguered medical facilities.

    Meanwhile, Hamas and other armed groups fired at least 13 rockets into Israel on Saturday, wounding four people, the army said.

    Egypt has been spearheading Western-backed efforts to end the fighting. On Saturday, President Hosni Mubarak met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who urged Israel and his Hamas rivals to accept the plan "without hesitation."

    A Hamas delegation was also due to hold talks with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

    Mubarak is calling for an immediate truce, opening Gaza's border crossings, preventing arms smuggling and a call for Palestinians to resume reconciliation talks.

    Abbas stressed he wanted an international force in Gaza rather than controlling traffic on the Egyptian side of the border, as suggested by European countries.

    But Meshaal said Hamas "will consider any international troops imposed on our people as an occupation force" and Hamas and other groups have said they will oppose any measure that hinders the armed "resistance."

    Both Hamas and Israel have already brushed aside a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate truce in the territory.

    The conflict has sparked worldwide pro-Palestinian demonstrations, including rallies in Europe that drew tens of thousands of protesters.

    In London, thousands of protesters clashed with police around the Israeli embassy, while in Paris protesters shattered windows and set scooters on fire after a rally attended by more than 30,000 people.

    In Tel Aviv, a few hundred Israelis gathered to call for an end to the fighting in a rally organised by the Peace Now movement.

    Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in combat or in rocket attacks since the operation began, as Palestinian militants have fired more than 600 rockets, some of them penetrating deeper than ever inside Israel.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  2. #122
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    Israeli forces edge into Gaza city

    http://www.reuters.com/article/world...5053R720090111

    By Nidal al-Mughrabi
    1/12/2009

    GAZA (Reuters) - Israeli forces edged into the Gaza Strip's most populous area on Sunday, killing at least 27 Palestinians in an offensive stepped up in defiance of international calls for a ceasefire.

    Medical officials said about half of the Palestinian dead in the latest fighting in the Hamas-ruled territory were civilians.

    "Israel is getting close to achieving the goals it set for itself," Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his cabinet in Jerusalem, giving no timeframe for an end to the 16-day-long war.

    "But patience, determination and effort are still needed to realize these goals in a manner that will change the security situation in the south," Olmert said, referring to Hamas rocket attacks that continued to hit Israeli towns.

    Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said his ruling Islamist group would not consider a ceasefire until Israel ended its air, sea and ground assault and lifted a Gaza blockade. A Hamas delegation held talks in Cairo on an Egyptian truce plan.

    Israel, describing as unworkable a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire, wants a halt to rocket attacks and arrangements to ensure that Hamas cannot rearm through tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border.

    An Israeli defense official was to visit Egypt on Monday to press for tougher anti-smuggling measures. German diplomatic sources said Berlin offered to send specialists next week to Egypt to discuss ways to improve border security and Cairo had responded positively.

    Backed by helicopter gunships, Israeli troops and tanks pushed into eastern and southern parts of the city of Gaza, confronting Hamas militants who fired anti-armor missiles and mortar bombs.

    The Palestinian death toll since Israel's offensive began on December 27 stands at 869, many of them civilians, Gaza medical officials said. Thirteen Israelis -- three civilians hit by rocket fire and 10 soldiers -- have been killed, official Israeli figures showed.

    In Washington, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama said in broadcast remarks he would begin the search for Middle East peace immediately on becoming president and the Gaza conflict only underscored his determination to become involved early.

    New street fighting killed 10 gunmen, Palestinian medical workers said. Another three fighters and a member of the Hamas police force were killed by Israeli air strikes.

    Medical officials said 13 civilians, including four members of a family, were killed by Israeli forces and that Israeli shelling of two villages south of the city of Gaza had set 15 houses on fire.

    Israel's military said it attacked a mosque used to store weapons, 10 squads of gunmen, three rocket-launching sites and the house of a Hamas commander.

    In Jerusalem, Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel said Hamas leaders were hiding in Gaza's foreign missions, hospitals and bunkers to elude Israeli forces. He did not name the missions.

    HOMELESS
    At the edge of the city of Gaza, Mahmoud Abu Hasseera surveyed the rubble of his house, in an area where Israeli tanks and infantry had battled Palestinian fighters hours earlier.

    "Where should we and our children go to sleep? To the streets?" he asked. "We have no mattresses, blankets, cooking gas, food or water. Everything was destroyed."

    Though Palestinian rocket salvoes into Israel have diminished, two rockets on Sunday struck Beersheba, 42 km (26 miles) from the Gaza Strip, and at least four others hit other communities, police said. There was some damage but no casualties.

    Israel's deputy defense minister, Matan Vilnai, suggested time was running out for the Gaza campaign now that the U.N. Security Council had weighed in with a call to stop it.

    "Therefore it seems -- I'm guessing -- that we are close to a cessation of the ground operations and a cessation of the overall operations," Vilnai said on Army Radio.

    Olmert convened his cabinet for a discussion expected to include a possible "third stage" of the offensive in which the military would storm into Gaza's urban areas, a politically risky move a month before Israel's national election.

    Israel, the prime minister said, "must not miss out, at the last moment, on what has been achieved through an unprecedented national effort."

    While Israeli commanders said whole Hamas battalions were being wiped out, Damascus-based Meshaal said Israeli forces had achieved nothing and pointed to the continued rocket fire.

    Israeli actions have drawn denunciations from the Red Cross, U.N. agencies and Arab and European governments.

    New York-based Human Rights Watch has called on Israel to stop using white-phosphorus munitions in densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip, saying the chemical could severely burn people and set structures and fields on fire.

    The group said white phosphorus was apparently being used to create smoke screens, describing this as "a permissible use in principle under international law."

    But it also noted media photographs of air-bursting white phosphorus projectiles, which it said can spread burning wafers over an area between 125 and 250 meters (410-820 ft) in diameter, depending on the altitude of the explosion.

    Israel said it uses only weapons permitted by international law. It has accused Hamas of using civilians as human shields.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    Bill Moyers On Mideast Violence

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    January 09, 2009

    http://www.pbs.org/billmoyers Bill Moyers reflects on the recent violence in the Middle East. PLEASE NOTE: This essay containins video and images of the Israeli and Palestinian casualties including children - in Gaza as well as the Pulitzer prize-winning photo of the nude Vietnamese girl running from napalm bombing. Some viewers may find the images disturbing, but they are in context and germane to the subject matter. Bill Moyers Journal airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). For more: http://www.pbs.org/billmoyers
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  4. #124
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    Israel must abide by international law

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/i...608519453.html

    Izzat Abdulhadi
    January 12, 2009

    Witnesses tell of Israeli jets bombing apartment blocks in which children are playing. Schools, fruit markets, hospitals and universities have been targeted. Tanks fire into crowded cities such as Gaza City and Khan Younis. In one of the world's most densely populated strips of land, massive civilian casualties are inevitable.

    As with Lebanon in 2006, Israel is instituting collective punishment of a people for what it sees as the crimes of a militant group. A year ago, the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, warned that the people of Gaza would suffer for democratically electing the "terrorist" regime of Hamas, and instituted harsh power cuts for hospitals, light, heat and cars. Food cuts followed, and now indiscriminate bombing.

    The use of collective punishment of a people is illegal under the fourth Geneva Convention. With 600 or more Palestinians killed already, 200 of whom are said to be civilian, we already have a civilian death toll equivalent to the Bali massacre. And still Israel ignores the entreaties from French and British leaders, the European Union, the United Nations, the Arab League, not to mention the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and others, to cease its war on Gaza.

    As we have seen on the television news, phosphorus bombs, used by the Israeli Air Force in southern Lebanon to devastating effect on the bodies of ordinary Lebanese, are now in use in the crowded streets of Gaza. Terrible injuries will result. Israel continues to defy international legal standards.

    It has ignored a series of United Nations resolutions over time, including one allowing the return of refugees, one requiring it to withdraw from the lands it occupied in 1967. It ignored the decision of the International Court of Justice in 2004 declaring its huge concrete wall dividing it from Palestine illegal. It continues to ignore international requirements to declare its stock of nuclear weapons and open them for inspection.

    Israel argues, simplistically, that it has a "right to defend itself" against the rocket attacks of Hamas. Of course it does. But a disproportionate war against Palestinian people is not the solution.

    In the first place, we must recognize the roots of this conflict, which began with the illegal military occupation of Gaza from 1967 to 2005 and the devastation this inflicted on the economy and civil society of the people of Gaza.

    In 2005 Ariel Sharon ordered illegal Israeli settlers to leave Gaza but continued a blockade of the Gaza Strip. At the time, the World Bank estimated that 65 per cent of Gazans lived in poverty. Most had problems with access to education and health services, and half lived below subsistence levels and were dependent on international food aid.

    Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian elections and, in response, the US and the EU cut off all aid to Palestine and Israel froze Gaza government access to tax revenues collected from its people. Electricity was cut, food aid slashed and all movement in and out of Gaza slowed to a trickle. The Israeli army arrested 27 Hamas MPs of the new government. It assassinated others.

    The Hamas government responded with rocket attacks on the Israeli city of Sederot just across the border. The rockets were largely ineffective and killed no Israelis. Meanwhile, attacks on Palestinian civilians by Israeli fighter jets continued to climb, in one instance killing 19 (including four women and seven children).

    An informal "truce" or "Hudna" was agreed between Olmert's government and Hamas. Under its terms, a cessation of the rocket attacks would ease the siege on Gaza. The rocket attacks declined dramatically but as of December last year, no end to the siege was in sight. Hamas declared it would resume rocket attacks. Israel has struck back with its terrible cruelty.

    Palestine has no air force, tanks or gunships to counter such an onslaught. The tiny strip of Gaza, with its 1.5 million people, only has its human resources to resist an attack from the region's most powerful army.

    It is easy to understand why Israel continues to ban foreign journalists from seeing the results of its war crimes in the Gaza Strip. And why it relies on statements such as "we have the right to defend against rockets".

    Israel is not interested in abiding by international legal norms which would require it to demolish the apartheid wall, end the occupation, cease the use of illegal weapons and allow the people of Gaza the freedoms most world citizens expect.

    Such actions require a mindset of peace, justice, dialogue and freedom for Palestinians in their own state.

    Let's end the war, end the rocket attacks, end the siege of Gaza and begin with dialogue.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    Obama vows to tackle Middle East 'on day one'

    http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Obama_...East_0111.html

    1/12/2009

    WASHINGTON (AFP) — US president-elect Barack Obama on Sunday vowed to take swift action on the Middle East peace process and Iran's nuclear ambitions but played for time to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

    In an interview with ABC's This Week program broadcast Sunday, Obama defended his reluctance to speak out on Israel's bloody offensive in the Gaza Strip before he succeeds President George W. Bush on January 20.

    But while he promised rapid efforts on the peace process and diplomatic engagement with Iran, Obama said it would be a "challenge" to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in his first 100 days in office.

    Obama said he was building a diplomatic team so that "on day one, we have the best possible people who are going to be immediately engaged in the Middle East peace process as a whole."

    The team would "be engaging with all of the actors there" so that "both Israelis and Palestinians can meet their aspirations," Obama said.

    Until then, he said again that he would leave the Bush administration to speak on foreign policy but indicated some continuity to the peace process.

    "I think that if you look not just at the Bush administration, but also what happened under the (Bill) Clinton administration, you are seeing the general outlines of an approach," Obama said in the interview taped Saturday.

    Obama noted remarks by Vice President Dick Cheney last week that his team should carefully study the outgoing administration's peace approach before throwing it away just to make a political point.

    "I think that was pretty good advice," the president-elect said. "I should know what's going on before we make judgments and that we shouldn't be making judgments on the basis of incomplete information or campaign rhetoric."

    Under the Bush administration, the United States has been accused by the Palestinians of siding uncritically with Israel to the detriment of the peace process overall.

    Obama stood by his words of July, during a visit to Israel, when he had said: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. I would expect Israelis to do the same thing."

    Asked by ABC if he would repeat the remark in Israel now, he said: "I think that's a basic principle of any country is that they've got to protect their citizens."

    Israel indicated for the first time Sunday that an end was in sight to its war on the Palestinian group Hamas, amid some of the heaviest clashes of an offensive that has killed nearly 900 people in the Gaza Strip.

    Obama meanwhile took note of a warning from former US defense secretary William Perry Thursday that he would likely face a "serious crisis" over Iran's nuclear ambitions in his first year in office.

    "I think that Iran is going to be one of our biggest challenges," the president-elect said, warning a nuclear-armed Iran "could potentially trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East."

    Obama promised "a new emphasis on respect and a new emphasis on being willing to talk, but also a clarity about what our bottom lines are."

    "And we are in preparations for that. We anticipate that we're going to have to move swiftly in that area."

    The Islamic republic has defied UN sanctions designed to halt its enrichment of uranium, insisting that its nuclear program is for civilian energy needs and has no military bent.

    "And we are going to have to take a new approach. And I've outlined my belief that engagement is the place to start," Obama said.

    "That the international community is going to be taking cues from us in how we want to approach Iran."

    When asked about his promise to close the controversial prison at Guantanamo Bay, which still holds some 250 "war on terror" suspects, Obama said: "It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize.

    He said his legal and national security advisers were working out the best approach. But Obama added emphatically that the base would be closed.

    "I don't want to be ambiguous about this," he said.

    "We are going to close Guantanamo and we are going to make sure that the procedures we set up are ones that abide by our constitution," he said, vowing also that his administration would not torture terror suspects.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    Israel says Gaza war nearing end as fighting rages

    http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Israel..._end_0111.html

    1/12/2009

    GAZA CITY (AFP) — Israel indicated for the first time on Sunday that an end was in sight to its war on Hamas, amid some of the heaviest clashes of an offensive that has killed nearly 900 people in the Gaza Strip.

    Israeli troops pushed deeper into Gaza's main city, sparking some of the fiercest battles yet of the 16-day-old war that Israel launched in response to rocket fire, but that has failed to completely stop the rockets.

    Civilians again fell victim in Israel's offensive in the Palestinian enclave, one of the world's most densely populated places where every other person of the 1.5 million population is under 18 years of age.

    Two women and four children were killed in a strike on a house in Beit Lahiya, medics and witnesses said. Twelve bodies were pulled from the rubble in Tal al-Hawa including 10 fighters, according to medics.

    Israeli officials suggested the Jewish state was nearing the end of its offensive, which has killed hundreds of civilians, despite having last week waved off a UN resolution calling for an immediate halt to the fighting.

    "The decision of the (UN) security council doesn't give us much leeway," Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai told public radio.

    "Thus it would seem that we are close to ending the ground operation and ending the operation altogether."

    Earlier Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the Jewish state was nearing the goals it had set for its operation, but said fighting would continue for now.

    "Israel is approaching these goals, but more patience and determination are required," Olmert said at the start of the cabinet meeting.

    The premier told ministers that Israel "dealt Hamas an unprecedented blow," government secretary Oved Yehezkel quoted Olmert as saying. "It will never be the same Hamas."

    Hamas, however, has vowed to keep fighting and on Sunday some 17 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza by mid-afternoon, without wounding anyone.

    Both Israel and Hamas last week brushed off the UN Security Council resolution that called on both sides to stop fighting, and the early Sunday hours saw Israeli troops push deep into the territory's main population centre.

    Troops crept into the southern Tal al-Hawa neighbourhood of Gaza City, encountering roadside bombs, mortar and gunfire from Palestinian fighters, witnesses said.

    The troops withdrew at daybreak, but hundreds of panicked residents fled the area, clutching small children and hastily packed bags after a sleepless night.

    "We couldn't take anything with us, not even milk for the children," said Ibtisam Shamallah, 22, as she fled with her two children.

    Defence Minister Ehud Barak told reporters that Israel was "examining the diplomatic channel" while continuing its offensive.

    "There's no contradiction between the two," said Barak, who is due to again send senior aide Amos Gilad to Cairo in the coming days for Egyptian-led talks on ending the war.

    Israeli warplanes bombed more than 60 targets throughout Gaza overnight and into morning, hitting arms depots and smuggling tunnels as well as a mosque that was allegedly used to store weapons and train fighters, the army said.

    In all, at least 26 Palestinians have been killed in clashes on Sunday, medics said.

    With the body count spiralling, the exiled political chief of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, remained defiant, vowing in an address televised late Saturday that the Islamists would not strike a deal on a permanent truce with Israel, a country the group is pledged to destroying.

    "We will not accept a permanent truce because ... as long as there is an occupation there is a resistance," he said, adding that his group will not hold talks on a temporary truce until Israel stops its offensive.

    Since the Israeli offensive began on December 27, at least 885 people have been killed, including 275 children, and another 3,620 wounded, according to Gaza medics.

    Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in combat or in rocket attacks since the operation began, as Palestinian militants have fired more than 600 rockets, some of them penetrating deeper than ever inside Israel.

    Egypt has been spearheading Western-backed efforts to end the fighting, calling for an immediate truce, opening Gaza's border crossings, preventing arms smuggling and relaunching Palestinian reconciliation efforts.

    A senior Israeli official told AFP that "Olmert believes Israel can reach an understanding with Egypt but at the moment, there is no intention to let up the pressure on Hamas."

    In Washington, US president-elect Barack Obama pledged to immediately engage in Middle East peace efforts as soon as he takes office in nine days.

    The conflict has sparked worldwide pro-Palestinian demonstrations, with major cities set to hold fresh protests on Sunday.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    The Warsaw Ghetto

    As George Galloway said, we're not saying Israel are the Nazis, but what we are saying is that they are using Nazi tactics.

    Part I
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    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    Israel protest targets US consulate in Pakistan

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/...dnH9AD95L409G3

    By ASHRAF KHAN – 4 hours ago

    KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Security forces used tear gas and batons to repel anti-Israel protesters who tried to attack a U.S. consulate in Pakistan on Sunday, as tens of thousands in cities across Europe, the Middle East and Asia demonstrated against Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip.

    A protest in the Belgian capital that drew 30,000 turned violent as well, with demonstrators overturning cars and smashing shop windows. And in Manila, Philippines, policemen used shields to disperse students protesting outside the U.S. Embassy.

    Israel launched its campaign in Gaza on Dec. 27 to stop rocket fire from the militant Palestinian group Hamas. Gaza health officials say nearly 870 Palestinians have been killed, roughly half of them civilians. Thirteen Israelis have also died.

    Some 2,000 protesters in the Pakistani port city of Karachi burned U.S. flags and chanted anti-Israel slogans, and several hundred of them marched on the U.S. Consulate, senior police official Ameer Sheikh said.

    "They were in a mood to attack," Sheikh said. "They were carrying bricks, stones and clubs."

    A U.S. Embassy spokesman in Islamabad, Lou Fintor, said the protesters did not get close to the consulate, which was closed Sunday.

    Washington provides a large amount of foreign aid to Israel as well as military and weapons assistance. Israeli military action is often perceived in the Muslim world as being financed and supported by the U.S. While Pakistan's government is a U.S. ally, anti-American sentiment is pervasive in the Muslim majority country.

    In Spain, as many as 100,000 people attended rallies in Madrid and the southwestern city of Seville, urging Israel to "Stop the massacre in Gaza" and calling for peace initiatives. Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos will tour the Middle East starting Monday to promote solutions to the conflict.

    An estimated 2,500 Lebanese and Palestinians meanwhile protested peacefully in downtown Beirut, waving Palestinian flags and calling on the international community to intervene in the Israeli attack.

    A convoy of some 15 ambulances from an Islamic medical society sounded their sirens for 20 seconds in solidarity with Gaza medics. Leftist participants set fire to a large Israeli flag, while children taking part in the protest held bloody dolls representing Palestinian children killed in Gaza.

    The death of children in the Gaza assault has become an enduring theme at protests.

    Children carrying effigies of bloody babies headed the march attended by thousands in Brussels, which later turned violent before police intervened with water cannons and arrested 10 protesters. Belgian lawmaker Richard Miller told Le Soir newspaper that he was hit in the face by a stone thrown by a demonstrator.

    Jewish communities appeared divided on the Israeli operations. In London, thousands of people gathered at Trafalgar Square to support the action in Gaza, while anti-Israeli protesters held a counter-demonstration nearby. In Antwerp, Belgium, home to a large Hassidic Jewish community, some 800 people took part in a peaceful pro-Israel demonstration.

    In a letter published in Britain's Observer newspaper Sunday, 11 leading British Jews urged Israel to end its Gaza campaign and negotiate a settlement for security reasons.

    "We are concerned that rather than bringing security to Israel, a continued military offensive could strengthen extremists, destabilize the region and exacerbate tensions inside Israel with its one million Arab citizens," the letter said.

    In Syria, as revolutionary songs blared from loudspeakers, demonstrators accused Arab leaders of being complicit in the Gaza assault. "Down, down with the Arab rulers, the collaborators," the crowd in Damascus shouted.

    Separately, activists protesting the Israeli campaign were driving from Turkey to Syria in a convoy of 200 cars, and participants hoped Syrian protesters would join them at the border Monday, according to Nezir Dinler, an activist with the Istanbul-based Solidarity Foundation.

    A few thousand people marched in largely peaceful pro-Palestinian rallies in the Italian cities of Rome, Naples and Verona. In Rome, municipal authorities were dispatched to erase graffiti — including Stars of David and swastikas — that had been scrawled on Jewish-owned stores and restaurants overnight.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    Israel sends reserves into Gaza but says end may be in sight

    http://rawstory.com/news/afp/Israel_..._01112009.html

    1/11/2009

    Israel began pouring reservists into heavy clashes across the Gaza Strip on Sunday as the death toll from its war on Hamas approached 900 and officials indicated that the end may be in sight.

    Israeli troops pushed deeper into Gaza's main city, as warplanes carried out at least 50 air strikes on the 16th day of a war launched to combat Palestinian rocket fire, which has continued despite the offensive.

    Israel's Channel Two said the army had begun sending in some of the thousands of reservists called up when the war began on December 27, and an army spokesman said they would be increasingly "integrated" into combat units.

    Civilians again fell victim in Israel's offensive on the impoverished and isolated Palestinian enclave, one of the world's most densely populated places where half of the 1.5 million residents are less than 18 years old.

    Two women and four children were killed in a strike on a house in Beit Lahiya, medics and witnesses said.

    Israeli officials suggested the end may be close of its offensive, which has killed hundreds of civilians, despite having last week waved off a UN resolution calling for an immediate halt to the fighting.

    "The decision of the (UN) security council doesn't give us much leeway," Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai told public radio.

    "Thus it would seem that we are close to ending the ground operation and ending the operation altogether."

    Earlier Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the Jewish state was nearing the goals it had set for its operation, but said fighting would continue for now.

    "Israel is approaching these goals, but more patience and determination are required," Olmert said at a cabinet meeting.

    He told ministers that Israel "dealt Hamas an unprecedented blow," government secretary Oved Yehezkel quoted Olmert as saying. "It will never be the same Hamas."

    Israeli forces have demolished some 200 smuggling tunnels beneath the Gaza-Egypt border -- Hamas's main resupply route -- representing 66 percent of the total, according to military spokeswoman Avital Leibowich.

    The army said it had blown up 20 tunnels on Sunday alone, and an Egyptian security official said shrapnel from one of the strikes wounded two Egyptian police officers and two children at the Rafah crossing into Gaza.

    Hamas, however, has vowed to keep fighting, and on Sunday 19 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza, including four long-range Grad rockets, without wounding anyone.

    Both Israel and Hamas last week brushed off the UN Security Council resolution that called on both sides to stop fighting.

    Early on Sunday troops crept into the narrow streets of the southern Tal al-Hawa neighbourhood of Gaza City, encountering roadside bombs, mortar and gunfire from Palestinian fighters, witnesses said.

    The troops withdrew at daybreak, but hundreds of panicked residents fled the area, clutching small children and hastily packed bags after a sleepless night.

    "We couldn't take anything with us, not even milk for the children," said Ibtisam Shamallah, 22, as she fled with her two children.

    Twelve bodies were later pulled from the rubble in Tal al-Hawa, including 10 fighters, according to medics. In all, at least 26 Palestinians were killed in clashes on Sunday, they said.

    But the exiled political chief of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, remained defiant in an address televised late on Saturday, vowing that his group would not discuss any kind of ceasefire until the Israeli offensive stopped.

    "As long as there is an occupation there is a resistance," he said.

    Egypt has spearheaded Western-backed efforts to end the fighting, calling for an immediate truce, opening Gaza's border crossings, preventing arms smuggling and relaunching Palestinian reconciliation efforts.

    On Sunday Cairo ramped up pressure on Israel by summoning its ambassador to demand that the Jewish state comply with the UN Security Council's call for a ceasefire and opening "humanitarian corridors" in the besieged territory.

    Since the Israeli onslaught began on December 27, at least 890 people have been killed, including 275 children, and another 3,800 wounded, according to Dr Muawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza emergency services.

    Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in combat or in rocket attacks since the operation began, as Palestinian militants have fired more than 600 rockets, some of them penetrating deeper than ever inside Israel.

    The conflict has sparked worldwide pro-Palestinian demonstrations, and US President-elect Barack Obama
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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