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Author Topic: Israel, and its neighbors  (Read 501435 times)
Power User
Posts: 42511

« Reply #350 on: December 30, 2008, 06:53:57 PM »


You seem to be a very nice person, but when human lives are at stake, having "nice opinions" that make nice statements about the nice person that you are just don't cut it-- they get real people, nice people, killed.

Here's one report on Israel's efforts to minimize collateral damage.

Israel phones in warning to flee Gaza Strip strikes
By Abraham Rabinovich in Jerusalem
The Australian
December 30, 2008 12:01am

RESIDENTS at certain addresses in the Gaza Strip have been receiving unusual phone calls since the Israeli air assault began on Saturday - a request that they and their families leave their homes as soon as possible for their own safety.

More unusual than the recorded message is the Arabic-speaking caller, who identifies himself as being from the Israeli defence forces, The Australian reports.

Dipping into their bag of tricks for the updated Gaza telephone numbers, Israel's intelligence services are warning Palestinian civilians in Gaza living close to Hamas facilities that they may be hurt unless they distance themselves from those targets.

In some cases, the warning comes not by telephone but from leaflets dropped from aircraft on selected districts.

Such warnings clearly eliminate the element of surprise, but for Israel it is of cardinal importance to minimise civilian casualties, and not just for humanitarian reasons.

The principal calculation is fear that a stray bomb hitting a school or any collection of innocent civilians could bring down the wrath of the international community on Israel, as has happened more than once in the past, and force it to halt its campaign before it has achieved its objectives.

Israel Radio reported that leaflets had been dropped at the beginning of the operation in the Rafah area near the border with Egypt, warning residents that the tunnels to Egypt through which weapons and civilian products were smuggled would be bombed.

Many of the residents, mostly youths, are employed in the tunnels. Initial reports said two people were killed when the tunnels were bombed.

Gaza is one of the most densely built-up areas in the world, making it extremely difficult to pinpoint targets without collateral damage.

Israeli officials say that the small percentage of civilians killed so far is due to precise intelligence regarding the location of Hamas targets and accurate bombing and rocketing.,27574,24855309-2,00.html

The underlying truth for most of the criticism of Israel is this:

1) Cowardice:  Europe fears its own Arabs/Turks/Muslims

2) Cowardice and Greed:  It ain't "Blood for oil."  Its "Sell out the Jews for oil."

Power User
Posts: 808

« Reply #351 on: December 30, 2008, 07:44:37 PM »

It was 31 years ago that this wonderful speech was given. Anwar El Sadat was assassinated for his peace making efforts. What a shame that people don't want peace!

Denny Schlesinger
Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #352 on: December 30, 2008, 07:48:59 PM »

Crafty, I also think I am misunderstood  smiley

No question, "real people, nice people, get killed"  My only question is how many?  And is there any other way?
IF the answer is no, so be it.  Attack with force and solve (if that is possible) the problem and put up with the bad PR.
And I agree, from a political viewpoint, perhaps better to do now than after the inauguration. 

But absurd comments like "How about getting them to establish military bases away from the civilian population" isn't realistic;
imply they are suppose to fight "fair" - didn't that go out with the American Revolutionary War?  Countless wars have
been fought including WWII in the Philippines, Vietnam, Afghanistan and even in the establishment of Israel where the winning side didn't
stand up and establish separate military bases or fight "fair".

Or to say "I am like a noob (that is a new term to me) who wonders the floor certain he is in possession of singular martial truth..."
What rubbish.  My point is the opposite, there are different ways to solve the problem.  As for the "training room floor" tires (bad metaphor) exist for
strength training, focus mitts and heavy bags for punching and kicking, and mats for floor. Each can be effective on their own, but
it seems to me DBMA emphasis is on being well rounded; having alternatives, not being myopic. 

Like in martial arts, I think it's good to hear and discuss alternatives; weigh them and if appropriate, use them, and if not, don't.  And also like
martial arts/self defense, use of appropriate force is an issue to be considered.  Or you will suffer the consequences whatever they may be.

« Reply #353 on: December 30, 2008, 08:13:18 PM »
Widening range, rockets strike Beersheba kindergarten
Dec. 30, 2008

Hamas flexed its muscles Tuesday night and fired two rockets into Beersheba as Defense Minister Ehud Barak asked for government approval to call up an additional 2,500 reservists ahead of a planned ground operation in the Gaza Strip.

One of the Katyusha rockets struck a kindergarten in Beersheba, causing damage. Another rocket hit outside the city in an open field.

The IDF bombed the launcher of the Grad-model rockets afterward, as well as the cell responsible. The army said it successfully hit its target.

Defense officials had warned that Hamas had the ability to fire rockets into Beersheba - located some 40 kilometers from Gaza - but Tuesday night's attack was the first time the city's 200,000 residents came under Hamas rocket fire.

Earlier, rockets struck Ashdod and Ashkelon, where two people were killed in attacks on Monday. Grad-model Katyushas also hit open fields near Kiryat Malachi.

In total, more than 50 rockets struck the South on Tuesday, with one scoring a direct hit on a home in Sderot. No one was wounded in the attack, as the family had taken refuge in a nearby secure room.

The IAF, meanwhile, continued to bomb Gaza, hitting over 30 targets in addition to several dozen tunnels under the Philadelphi Corridor on the Gaza-Egypt border. IDF sources said the tunnels had been used by Hamas to smuggle weapons and terrorists into the Gaza Strip. On Sunday the air force bombed some 40 smuggling tunnels.

On Tuesday night, Barak sent Cabinet Secretary Ovad Yehezkel a letter asking him to hold a phone vote among members of the cabinet to approve an IDF request to issue emergency call-up orders for an additional 2,500 reservists. On Sunday, the cabinet gave the IDF approval to call up 6,500 reservists.

Defense officials said it was likely that a ground operation would be launched in the next few days to keep up the momentum of the aerial bombardment of Gaza that started Saturday.

Earlier Monday, the IAF struck two targets in Gaza City and Khan Yunis. One of the targets was a Hamas police station. Overnight Monday, at least 10 people were killed and 40 others were wounded when IAF planes bombed a series of targets in the Strip, Palestinian sources said, bringing the death toll to over 380 Palestinians since Operation Cast Lead began.

The IDF confirmed air strikes against dozens of targets in the central Gaza town of El-Bureij (near Khan Yunis) and in Gaza City, including the Hamas Interior Ministry, Foreign Ministry and Treasury, as well as the office of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

On Tuesday, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi appeared in public for the first time since the operation began, and declared, "Difficult times are awaiting us. I am sure we will overcome them."

Speaking at a joint press conference Tuesday afternoon with President Shimon Peres at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Ashkenazi praised the forces participating in Operation Cast Lead, which he said was aimed at "creating a better security reality for the residents of southern Israel."

He also thanked the public for supporting the operation, and expressed appreciation of southern residents, who were "living under constant threat" and providing important support to the operation, "which extends our endurance."

Ashkenazi added that he was "very pleased with the operation at this point."

Earlier Tuesday afternoon during a tour of Ashkelon, Barak said that military action against Hamas would continue until all of the operation's goals were met.

The defense minister said the operation would intensify "as much as needed to meet the goals we set for ourselves - to bring quiet to the South."

He added, "We expect more difficult days ahead which will test civilians' endurance."
Power User
Posts: 808

« Reply #354 on: December 30, 2008, 08:18:56 PM »

But absurd comments like "How about getting them to establish military bases away from the civilian population" isn't realistic;

This is no more absurd than thinking that war can be carried out without collateral damage. israel should be commended, not condemned, for the highly humanitarian way they carry out the war.

Maybe you missed my post about the pin-point accuracy weapons Israel is using to minimize collateral damage. Maybe you missed the several posts that talked about how Israel is willing to give away the advantage of surprise to spare civilians by calling them up on the phone.

I want to remind you that your worry does not seem to be the killing of civilians so much as the disproportionate number of dead on either side. I want to remind you that civilian deaths on the Palestinian side are unintentional collateral damage while the dead civilians on the Israeli side are the actual targets the Palestinians are trying to hit. Why don't I hear you whining abut that? Why only whine about dead Arab civilians?

Of course, you have already forgotten about the massive death toll from Palestinian suicide bombers. You only decided to pick on the absurd part of my post. Whatever you are, you are either partisan of murderers and terrorists or clueless.

So let me reiterate, the Israelis are already doing what they can to spare civilians and they should be commended for their efforts.

Denny Schlesinger
« Reply #355 on: December 30, 2008, 08:21:15 PM »

Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Do some good
Several people have emailed and left comments asking what they can do to help.

First and foremost, if you are in Israel, the obvious thing to do is go find a mobile blood donation vehicle (or go to a hospital) and give blood.  The blood supply is almost always critically low, so there is never a bad time to do this.  You can donate every three months.

If you aren't in Israel, come.  I know there are better vacation destinations this time of year (even under the best of circumstance), but Israel's life blood is tourism.  Come to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem (or Eilat if you crave the sun) and show your solidarity in a safe, easy way.  Nothing demonstrates your unwavering support like showing up and supporting the local economy.

Can't afford a fancy hotel?  Email me and I'll put you up with us or any of a hundred other friends (including some of your favorite bloggers) who would be happy to make you feel at home.  Really!

Another important task is to provide constant feedback to your elected representatives - no matter where you live - asking them to support Israel in any way possible.  No need to get into a long drawn-out discussion of issues or of wrong & right.  They know the issues.  What they don't know is how their constituency feels about the issues.

The rule of thumb that many elected officials use is that every call, email or letter they receive represents 1000 people who feel the same way but didn't bother to make contact.  Put that way, your short email or voice message can have a tremendous impact.  Get a few friends and family to write or call in and you have a groundswell of support for Israel.

Next, monitor your local media (e.g. newspapers, radio and television) and let them know you are there.  Let them know that you notice when they distort the news... and also tell them when they get it right.  The media is in the business of supplying a product.  They make no secret of their willingness to modify their product to suit their audience.  What you have to do is make sure they know that their audience is firmly pro-Israel.  Complaining to your newspaper does nothing.  Complaining to the people who produce the news does everything!

Last but not least, if you have the resources to make even a small contribution to one of the following organizations, please do so.  There are endless organizations that do good things, but the ones I've listed here have a proven track record of service along with a transparent financial stewardship that shows a very small overhead and the lion's share of the contributions going directly to benefit the end-user.  This is in no way a criticism of any other organization.  Feel free to recommend others in the comments.

So go do some good (and encourage your friends and family to do likewise):

Magen David Adom



Yad Sarah

Here is another site with links of good charities

Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Filthy Jewish Blood
Here's a purely hypothetical scenario:

You are a soldier on a battlefield, and find yourself locked in hand-to-hand combat with an enemy soldier.  During the struggle you manage to wound him badly, rendering him unconscious and in critical condition.  Now that he is no longer a threat to you, his status changes such that you are now obligated to try to treat his wounds as you would any wounded soldier.

You and your comrades manage to stabilize him and carry him on a stretcher to a mobile surgical unit (think M.A.S.H.) where the triage team quickly determines that he needs emergency surgery if he is going to survive. But he has already lost a lot of blood and the surgery will require several units of his blood type. A glance at his dog tag reveals that he has AB negative blood; the rarest blood type in the world, and the surgical unit doesn't have any on hand.

A quick poll of the personnel in the area turns up an ironic surprise; you are the only person with the enemy soldier's blood type.  So you do as you're told; even though less than an hour ago this man was trying to kill you (in fairness, you were trying to kill him too!), you sit down, roll up your sleeve and allow the nurse to start taking your blood to be used during the surgery.

Just as the nurse is is starting to fill the first bag of blood, the enemy soldier (who has been stretched out unconscious in the bed next to yours) wakes up, sees you hooked up to the blood transfusion equipment and begins screaming that he won't accept your blood.  He calls your blood 'filthy' and 'unclean' and swears that he would "rather die than accept the blood of apes and pigs".

At this point you:

A)  Stop the nurse from taking your blood and tell her that you want to grant the enemy's wish and let him die.

B)  Yell back at the enemy soldier that he doesn't have a choice and that once he's under general anesthesia the doctors are going to replace all his blood with 'filthy' blood from you and your comrades!

C)  Ignore the raving enemy soldier and let the medical staff knock him out and take your blood for the operation.

D) Ask the medical staff to try to stabilize him with fluids (if possible) long enough to make a request to the enemy troops to send over typed blood from one of his countrymen.

E) Offer another suggestion of your own.

I'm interested to know how you would act in this hypothetical situation... but I want to make it clear that this is far from hypothetical.

There have been many natural disasters in the Muslim world over the past few decades where Israel has offered to provide medical supplies, emergency personnel and... blood.  This last bit has always been a sticking point.  You see, Jewish blood is considered unacceptable by the people we are supposed to be trying to make peace with.  It is, according to them, 'filthy'.

The New York times almost - but not quite - made reference to this seldom discussed fact in the 19th paragraph of an article.  Here, read the following and tell me if you spot it:

    "Israel sent in [to Gaza] some 40 trucks of humanitarian relief, including blood from Jordan and medicine. Egypt opened its border with Gaza to some similar aid and to allow some of the wounded through"

Did you catch it? Why would Israel need to send blood from Jordan?  We never have a huge surplus of blood, but we always have some on hand!  Is Jordan's medical establishment better prepared than Israel's???  And why would Egypt need to send 'similar aid'?  If Israel is controlling everything going in and out of Gaza right now, why are we suddenly talking about sending trucks of our own humanitarian aid... but blood from Jordan and Egypt?

The truth is, just as Israel has had to come to terms with a Red Diamond as its medical symbol abroad (since the International Red Cross made it clear that the Red Star of David is offensive to too much of the world), we have also somehow had to make peace with the fact that even our blood is considered sub-human and filthy by the very people with whom we are supposed to be making peace!

So I'm asking you... what would you do if you were that hypothetical soldier in the scenario above?  And what would you do if you were Israel today, being told that yes, we'll accept medical supplies and humanitarian aid from you... but not your filthy blood.

Would you really go to the Arab Red Crescent Society of Jordan and ask them to lend you some blood?

Seriously, how do you make peace with people who don't even consider you human?
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #356 on: December 30, 2008, 08:42:34 PM »

Seriously, how do you make peace with people who don't even consider you human?

You can't. They aren't interested anyway.
Power User
Posts: 808

« Reply #357 on: December 30, 2008, 08:53:26 PM »

About the hypothetical soldier, if you feel this person should be saved by giving him a blood transfusion, that's what you should do.

Denny Schlesinger
Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #358 on: December 30, 2008, 09:02:01 PM »


I want to remind you that your worry does not seem to be the killing of civilians so much as the disproportionate number of dead on either side. I want to remind you that civilian deaths on the Palestinian side are unintentional collateral damage while the dead civilians on the Israeli side are the actual targets the Palestinians are trying to hit. Why don't I hear you whining abut that? Why only whine about dead Arab civilians?


Actually, I think I was quite clear; I don't care how many militant Hamas Israel kills.  The disproportionate issue I brought up pertains to the fact that 5 Israelis have been killed/injured by missiles yet over 60 civilian palestinians have been killed; that does not count the many (over 100) civilians who have been severely injured.  Every time I check CNN I see a child being carried away.  Obviously, the "pin point accurate weapons Israel is using" are not perfect.

And sadly I agree with GM; I am not sure there can be peace nor am I sure they are interested anyway.  This is just one more chapter.
Power User
Posts: 808

« Reply #359 on: December 30, 2008, 09:15:52 PM »

Every time I check CNN I see a child being carried away.  Obviously, the "pin point accurate weapons Israel is using" are not perfect.

Obviously not as perfect as the Liberal Leftist Media Propaganda Machine. You must new new at this. How many doctored photographs have you seen? Do you recall the fake ambulance photos? Do you recall all the swindles the Liberal Leftist Media Propaganda Machine pulled during the last Lebanon war?

Denny Schlesinger
« Reply #360 on: December 30, 2008, 09:19:06 PM »
Is Israel using 'disproportionate force' in Gaza?
Dec. 30, 2008

Israel is currently benefiting from a limited degree of understanding in international diplomatic and media circles for launching a major military operation against Hamas on December 27. Yet there are significant international voices that are prepared to argue that Israel is using disproportionate force in its struggle against Hamas.

There are good reasons why initial criticism of Israel has been muted. After all, 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.

The majority of those attacks were launched after Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip in August 2005. Indeed, rocket attacks increased by 500% (from 179 to 946) from 2005 to 2006.

Moreover, lately Hamas has been extending the range of its striking capability even further, with new rockets supplied by Iran. Hamas used a 20.4-kilometer-range Grad/Katyusha for the first time on March 28, 2006, bringing Ashkelon into range of its rockets for the first time. That change increased the number of Israelis under threat from 200,000 to half a million.

Moreover, on December 21, 2008, Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), informed the government that Hamas had acquired rockets that could reach Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, and even the outskirts of Beersheba. The first Grad/Katyusha strike on Ashdod, in fact, took place on December 28.

There had been no formal cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, but only an informal six-month tahadiya (lull), during which 215 rockets were launched at Israel. On December 21, Hamas unilaterally announced that the tahadiya had ended.

Critical Voices
On December 27, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesmen issued a statement saying that while the secretary-general recognized "Israel's security concerns regarding the continued firing of rockets from Gaza," he reiterated "Israel's obligation to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law."

The statement specifically noted that he "condemns excessive use of force leading to the killing and injuring of civilians [emphasis added]."

A day later, Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights "strongly condemned Israel's disproportionate use of force."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, also condemned Israel's "disproportionate use of force," while demanding an end to rocket attacks on Israel.

Brazil also joined this chorus, criticizing Israel's "disproportionate response."

Undoubtedly, a powerful impression has been created by large Western newspaper headlines that describe massive Israeli air strikes in Gaza, without any up-front explanation for their cause.

Proportionality and International Law

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 perpetuate. From a purely legal perspective, Israel's current military actions in Gaza are on solid ground.

Under 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. Israel is not expected to make Kassam rockets and lob them back into Gaza.

When international legal experts use the term "disproportionate use of force," they have a very precise meaning in mind. As the president of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Rosalyn Higgins, has noted, proportionality "cannot be in relation to any specific prior injury - it has to be in relation to the overall legitimate objective of ending the aggression."

In other words, if a state, like Israel, is facing aggression, then proportionality addresses whether force was specifically used by Israel to bring an end to the armed attack against it. By implication, force becomes excessive if it is employed for another purpose, like causing unnecessary harm to civilians.

The pivotal factor determining whether force is excessive is the intent of the military commander. In particular, one has to assess what was the commander's intent regarding collateral civilian damage.

What about reports concerning civilian casualties? Some international news agencies have stressed that the vast majority of those killed in the first phase of the current Gaza operation were Hamas operatives.

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."

It is far too early to definitely assess Palestinian casualties, but even if they increase, the numbers reported indicate that there was no clear intent to inflict disproportionate collateral civilian casualties.

During the Second Lebanon War, Professor Michael Newton of Vanderbilt University was in e-mail communication with William Safire of The New York Times about the issue of proportionality and international law.

Newton had been quoted by the Council on Foreign Relations as explaining proportionality by proposing a test: "If someone punches you in the nose, you don't burn down their house." He was serving as an international criminal law expert in Baghdad and sought to correct the impression given by his quote. According to Newton, no responsible military commander intentionally targets civilians, and he accepted that this was Israeli practice.

What was critical from the standpoint of international law was that if the attempt had 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."

Numbers matter less than the purpose of the use of force. Israel has argued that it is specifically targeting facilities serving the Hamas regime and its determined effort to continue its rocket assault on Israel: headquarters, training bases, weapons depots, command and control networks, and weapons-smuggling tunnels. In this, Israel is respecting the international legal concept of proportionality.

Alternatively, disproportionality would occur if the military sought to attack, even if the value of a target selected was minimal in comparison with the enormous risk of civilian collateral damage.

This point was made by Luis Moreno-Orampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, on February 9, 2006, in analyzing the Iraq War. He explained that international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court "permit belligerents to carry out proportionate attacks [emphasis added] 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) or when "the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage."

In fact, Israeli legal experts right up the chain of command within the IDF make this calculation before all military operations of this sort.

Proportionality as a Strategic Issue

Moving beyond the question of international law, the charge that Israel is using a disproportionate amount of force in the Gaza Strip because of reports of Palestinian casualties has to be looked at critically.

Israelis have often said among themselves over the past seven years that when a Hamas rocket makes a direct strike on a crowded school, killing many children, then Israel will finally act.

This raises the question of whether the doctrine of proportionality requires that Israel wait for this horror to occur, or whether Israel could act on the basis of the destructive capability of the arsenal Hamas already possesses, the hostile declarations of intent of its leaders, and its readiness to use its rocket forces.

Alan Dershowitz noted two years ago: "Proportion must be defined by reference to the threat proposed by an enemy and not by the harm it has produced."

Waiting for a Hamas rocket to fall on an Israeli school, he rightly notes, would put Israel in the position of allowing "its enemies to play Russian Roulette with its children."

The fundamental fact is that in fighting terrorism, no state is willing to play Russian Roulette.

After the US was attacked on 9/11, 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. Given that al-Qaeda was seeking non-conventional capabilities, it was essential to wage a campaign to deny it the sanctuary it had enjoyed in Afghanistan, even though that struggle continues right up to the present.

Is There Proportionality Against Military Forces?

In fighting counterinsurgency wars, most armies seek to achieve military victory by defeating the military capacity of an adversary, as efficiently as possible. There clearly is no international expectation that military losses in war should be on a one-to-one basis; most armies seek to decisively eliminate as many enemy forces as possible while minimizing their own losses of troops.

There are NATO members who have been critical of "Israel's disproportionate use of force," while NATO armies take pride in their "kill ratios" against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Moreover, decisive military action against an aggressor has another effect: it increases deterrence. 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.

The loss of any civilian lives is truly regrettable. Israel has cancelled many military operations because of its concern with civilian casualties.

But should civilian losses occur despite the best efforts of Israel to avoid them, it is ultimately not Israel's responsibility. As political philosopher Michael Walzer noted in 2006: "When Palestinian militants launch rocket attacks from civilian areas, they are themselves responsible - and no one else is - for the civilian deaths caused by Israeli counterfire."

International critics of Israel may be looking to craft balanced statements that spread the blame for the present conflict to both sides. But they would be better served if they did not engage in this artificial exercise, and clearly distinguish the side that is the aggressor in this conflict - Hamas - and the side that is trying to defeat the aggression - Israel.

The writer, Israel's ambassador to the UN in 1997-99, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and author of Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism (Regnery, 2003) and The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City (Regnery, 2007). This article is reprinted with permission of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs, The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs,

IDF launches YouTube Gaza channel


"The Israeli army announced yesterday the creation of its own YouTube channel, through which it will disseminate footage of precision bombing operations in the Gaza Strip, as well as aid distribution and other footage of interest to the international community. "

Slideshow Day 3

Slideshow Day 4
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #361 on: December 31, 2008, 09:20:09 AM »

Special Dispatch - No. 2165
December 30, 2008   No. 2165

As Gaza Fighting Continues, Egyptian Clerics Intensify Antisemitic Statements; Columbus, Ohio Muslim Scholar/Leader Dr. Salah Sultan: Muhammad Said That Judgment Day Will Not Come Until Muslims Fight the Jews and Kill Them; America Will Suffer Destruction

Following are excerpts from interviews with several Egyptian clerics, which aired on Al-Nas TV and Al-Rahma TV on December 28 and 29, 2008.

One of the clerics, Dr. Salah Sultan, is president of the AmericanCenter for Islamic Research (ACIR), a nonprofit organization registered in Ohio and located in Columbus. On his website, he states that the main purpose of the ACIR is to "serve Allah (God) in the best way possible through the principles laid out in the Quran and Sunnah," to address misconceptions and extremism, to build bridges with non-Muslims, and to issue fatwas. He also states on his website that his own mission is "to achieve Allah's consent and Paradise through the reformation of the soul, the family, the society and the nation according to the methodology of the Quran and the Sunnah," and that his vision is "To live happily. To die as a martyr." [1]

TO VIEW THIS CLIP AND OTHERS YOU MUST LOG IN BY SIGNING UP FOR A FREE MEMRI TV REGISTRATION [ ] To register for MEMRI TV, go to the MEMRI TV site and click "Register" at upper right hand side.

Al-Nas TV, December 28, 2008

"Take My Heart... And Use It to Stone All The Jews... Take My Skin, And Turn It Into a Fuse or a Slingshot for a Child or a Newborn Baby"

Egyptian cleric Sheikh Muhammad Al-Saghir: "I say to the people of Gaza: Take my heart, which has hardened like a stone. Take it, and use it to stone all the Jews. Take my soul, and it will give you shade, for no longer does it fly far away. Take my eye - by Allah, take my eye. Perhaps a handsome youth, who was blinded, could see again. Take my skin, and turn it into a fuse or a slingshot for a child or a newborn baby."


Egyptian cleric Sheikh Muhammad Mustafa: "Where is the [Islamic] nation? If 20 million people can encircle the Earth, then 20 million people could also drown Israel in a sea of blood." [...]

Al-Rahma TV, December 29, 2008

"We Want to Teach Our Children the Truth About the Jews"; The Jews View "The Rest Of Mankind... as Pigs"

Egyptian cleric Sheikh Muhammad Hassan: "We want to teach our children the truth about the Jews. We want them to know that the [Jews] will never make peace or agree to it. The Jews will never accept any international resolution, from East or West, because they understand nothing but force.

"I remember what the great terrorist Menahem Begin said: We fight, therefore we exist. These are real terrorists. They are extremists. They are blood-suckers. They are shedders of blood. Review the history of the Jews from beginning to end, from the very first moment to the last moment, which is now. They specialize in the shedding of blood, in crime, and in killing - even the killing of prophets."


Egyptian cleric Sheikh Amin Al-Ansari: "It is told that the Israelites killed more than 70,000 prophets in a single day. It's not the people they want to eradicate, but Revelation itself. They do not want there to be any revelation, purity, religion, or religious law. The secret behind the war between the Jews and non-Jews is that they want to have a monopoly on the spiritual and ideological leadership of the world, and eventually, the physical leadership.


"By the 'Chosen People,' they mean that they are a people, and all those who are inferior to them are not peoples. In other words, they are human beings, and all others are not. They are people, and all others are not. They are human beings, selected by God to be the leaders of all beings.

"So what about the rest of mankind? They view them as pigs. That's the truth. Pigs! So why do they look like human beings? So that they will be worthy of being servants of the Jews, who could ride on their backs and suck their blood.

"That's why when a Jew kills a Palestinian child, he considers him to be a little pig. What difference is there between the two?! On the contrary, he might show mercy for the pig, as an animal that should not be harmed. The Palestinian child is worth less to him than a pig." [...]

Al-Nas TV, December 29, 2008

"The Stone Which is Thrown at the Jews Hates These Jews, These Zionists, Because Allah Foretold, Via His Prophet Muhammad, That Judgment Day Will Not Come Before the Jew and the Muslim Fight."

Egyptian cleric Dr. Sallah Sultan: "The arch-murderer who commanded the campaign against Jenin in 2003 went to America a few months later and boarded a NASA space shuttle. The space shuttle was launched by NASA, and a few minutes later, it reached Texas, the land of President Bush. Then this space shuttle shattered to pieces, along with the five top American space scientists, and that commander of the Zionist airforce was on board with them. Where exactly did it shatter and fall? By Allah, Sheikh Mahmoud, although I was living in America, I didn't know that there was a city called 'Palestine' in America. Sheikh Mustafa, the space shuttle fell, of all places, in the city of Palestine, in President Bush's state of Texas.


"The stone which is thrown at the Jews hates these Jews, these Zionists, because Allah foretold, via His Prophet Muhammad, that Judgment Day will not come before the Jew and the Muslim fight. The Jew will hide behind stones and trees, and the stone and the tree will speak, saying: 'Oh Muslim, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.' The only exception will be the Gharqad tree."

TV host: "The Jews know this for sure, that's why they plant Gharqad trees."

Dr. Sallah Sultan: "The stone's self-awareness is such that it can distinguish Muslims from Jews."

TV host: "True, and it will support the Muslims."


"The Protocols of the Elders of Zion Is An Attempt To Rule And Corrupt The Entire World"

Dr. Sallah Sultan: "America, which gave [Israel] everything it needed in these battles, will suffer economic stagnation, ruin, destruction, and crime, which will surpass what is happening in Gaza. One of these days, the U.S. will suffer more deaths than all those killed in this third Gaza holocaust. This will happen soon.


"The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is an attempt to rule and corrupt the entire world. When the world concentrates on its desires and lusts, the [Jews] will be free to implement their plan of controlling the world." [...]

Al-Nas TV, December 28, 2008

"I Take My Little Son Baraa, Who Is 10, and Make Him Look at the Torn Body Parts of His Muslim Brothers - In Order to Sow in His Heart Hatred and Loathing for the Zionists"

Sheikh Muhammad Al-Gheini: "The truth is that I do not understand why the sons of apes do the things they do to us, especially whenever there is a holiday that may make the nation happy. Let me remind you that it was on the day marking the Prophet's nocturnal journey that Sharon defiled the courtyard of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This was also on a holy day."


Sheikh Safwat Higazi: "I take my little son Baraa, who is 10 years old, and make him look at the torn body parts of his Muslim brothers, in order to sow in his heart hatred and loathing for the Zionists, so he will know that these are his enemies.


"Israeli President Shimon Peres used to fill his helmet with the blood of Egyptian POWs, so that whenever he looked at it, he would be reminded that he had fulfilled his duty to his god."

TV host: "The Bahr Al-Baqr massacre is well known."

Sheikh Safwat Higazi: "I cry for us. I think about us. What will become of us? What will we say to our God?"


"Our generation will bear witness before Allah about each and every traitor and coward. We will have no mercy on them before Allah."

TV Host: "People, this was one of the most powerful messages we had today. These messages are very important. By the way, Dr. Safwat Higazi decided to walk out."

[1] According to the website, Dr. Sultan is a former professor and president of the Islamic American University in Michigan. He is president of the American Institute for Religious and Cultural Studies, and active in the European Council for Fatwa and Research (headed by Islamist sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, whom he calls "our great scholar"); the Fiqh Council of North America; and the International Association of Muslim Scholars. He served on the board of directors of the Islamic American University, and on the board of trustees of the Muslim American Society. According to his resume, he also serves on the board of trustees of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, and is a member of the Council of Indian Scholars and of the Association of Scholars in Germany. Sultan lectures frequently at the Islamic Society of Greater Columbus, on topics such as the priorities of Islamic work in the U.S. and the role of Muslim men and women in the U.S. According to a calendar on Dr. Sultan's webpage, over the past year he has lectured in Washington, D.C.; New Jersey; Detroit; Dallas; San Diego; Montreal; Cairo; Kuwait; Bahrain; Qatar; and Jeddah, Medina, and Mecca in Saudi Arabia. He has also spoken at the MAS Youth Center Convention Center in Queens and Brooklyn, NY; the Bronx Muslim Center in Bronx, NY; the Union of Imams in Minneapolis, MN; the Omar bin Khatab Mosque and the Bethel Road Mosque in Columbus, OH; the Al-Huda and ICB Mosque in Boston; the Dearborn Mosque in Dearborn, MI; the Islamic Fiqh Council of India in New Delhi; and the European Council for Islamic Rulings and Research in Istanbul. Dr. Sultan worked at the Islamic Center of Greater Worcester, MA and at the Islamic Open University in Washington, D.C
« Reply #362 on: December 31, 2008, 10:28:34 AM »

Seeing how Hamas has a very vested interest in inflating civilian casualties, and noting that Hamas fighters aren't easy to identify and in fact blend in to the civilian populace as a matter of tactics, this piece ought to illustrate just how undependable casualty figures can be. I'll note moreover that Western journalists are very aware that they are at risk of being killed or kidnapped in Gaza--particularly if they report items that casts Hamas in a negative light--and so depend on stringers, many of whom, if not employed directly by Hamas, understand what they risk if they fail to toe the party line.

How Many Civilians Are Dead in Gaza?
Figuring out who's who among the casualties.
By Juliet Lapidos
Posted Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008, at 5:37 PM ET
Israeli aircraft bombed Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip for the fourth day straight on Tuesday. Gaza officials said that, as of Monday, 364 Palestinians have been killed, and the United Nations noted that at least 62 were civilians. How did the U.N. determine which of the victims were combatants?

Gender and age. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency came up with the figure by sending emissaries to visit hospitals and other medical facilities. Under the Geneva Conventions and subsequent international law treaties, civilians are those who do not belong to the armed forces, militias, or organized resistance movements. But in Gaza City, UNRWA counted only female victims and those under the age of 18. North of the city, the agency attempted to get a more complete count by including adult men who were not wearing dark-blue police uniforms and whom community members identified as noncombatants.

At a Monday press conference, an U.N. staffer clarified that the count was only meant to give a credible minimum figure rather than a hard total. Nor did the agency intend to suggest that all men killed in Gaza City were combatants. Making clear distinctions between civilians and militants is difficult since Hamas (which is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, Israel, and other countries) engages in civic activities (like running schools) as well as military operations. Likewise, it's possible that some of the female victims and older children were Hamas combatants.

As a rule, the U.N. does not tally civilian casualties, relying instead on local governments for information. The agency made an exception in Gaza due in part to persistent questions from journalists who wanted to gauge the impact of the Israeli offensive on ordinary Palestinians.

Got a question about today's news? Ask the Explainer.

Juliet Lapidos is a Slate assistant editor.
Article URL:
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« Reply #363 on: December 31, 2008, 10:32:23 AM »

Obviously not as perfect as the Liberal Leftist Media Propaganda Machine. You must new new at this. How many doctored photographs have you seen? Do you recall the fake ambulance photos? Do you recall all the swindles the Liberal Leftist Media Propaganda Machine pulled during the last Lebanon war?

Actually, I'm not new at this; I have an excellent working knowledge of photography and photoshop; much greater than most people.  And to answer your question, I have seen ZERO
doctored photographs.

On your own Webpage you state "the only reality one can trust are hundreds of pictures... For good reason a picture is worth a thousand words."
That is true.  The "crime" if there is one is one of choosing which picture to show.  Do I show a picture of a terrorist igniting a missile or carrying a gun, or do I show a wounded child missing a leg because of
an Israeli bomb?  My choice of which picture I publish will affect your viewpoint a thousand times more than the written word. Yet both pictures are true and neither needs to be "doctored" to be effective or

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« Reply #364 on: December 31, 2008, 10:32:53 AM »

Excellent posts Rachel.  You of all people on this forum represent logic rather than virulent condemnation of Palestinians.  Your knowledge of and your love
for Israel and your faith is clear to all to see, it seems to glow, yet you are able to step back and succinctly and quite logically present your points on proportionality for example,
but other issues as well.  I may not entirely agree with all your points on proportionality, but it is well presented, it raises excellent issues and is quite
persuasive and enlightening.  Thank you.
« Reply #365 on: December 31, 2008, 10:47:31 AM »

You of all people on this forum represent logic rather than virulent condemnation of Palestinians.

Speaking of rubbish, any virulent condemnations have been of acts, not peoples. Indeed, were you paying attention you'd note Fatah, Egypt, and Jordan are being condemned by those who hide behind their civilian populations for failing to support their cowardice.

I don't hear those who take your wan idealism to task condemning Fatah et al; rather our ire is focussed on those who fire missiles indiscriminately into population centers and then hide behind children with their cameras at the ready. Guess if conflation is all you got, that's what you have to run with, eh?
« Reply #366 on: December 31, 2008, 12:24:58 PM »

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Some Moderate Proposals   [Victor Davis Hanson]

1) Request that 50% of Israel's air-to-ground missiles be duds to ensure greater proportionality.

2) Allow Hamas another 1,000 free rocket launches to see if they can catch up with the body count.

3) Have Israeli soldiers congregate in border barracks so that Hamas's random rockets have a better chance of killing military personnel, to ensure it can claim at least a few military targets.

4) Redefine "holocaust" to refer to deaths of terrorists in numbers under 400 to give greater credence to Hamas's current claims.

5) In the interest of fairness, allow Hamas to establish both the date that war is supposed to begin and the date when it must end.

6) Send Israeli military advisers to Hamas to improve the accuracy of their missiles.

7) Take down the barriers to return to Hamas a fair chance of getting suicide bombers back inside Israel.
« Reply #367 on: December 31, 2008, 12:32:51 PM »

Video about the Gaza missile attacks:
« Reply #368 on: December 31, 2008, 03:45:28 PM »


I'm really glad some of my posts were helpful to you.  Thank you for your kind words they were much too generous.   I think  Marc-- Crafty Dog,  Body-by-Guinness,G M, captainccs, and sgtmac_46 have all  done a much better job at explaining the current situation in Israel than I have.
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« Reply #369 on: December 31, 2008, 04:40:24 PM »


I deeply value your presence here and our mix is greatly improved by your contributions.

The Adventure continues,
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« Reply #370 on: December 31, 2008, 04:53:07 PM »

Iran Activating Its Proxies
By OLIVIER GUITTA (Middle East Times)
Published: December 29, 2008

‘SUPPORT OUR OFFENSIVE’ Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni, shown speaking in Sderot on Dec. 28, calls on the international community to support Israel’s military offensive on Gaza. (Photo by Chameleons Eye via Newscom)

After the six-month truce with Israel expired on Dec. 19, Hamas decided, or perhaps was urged, to resume its attacks on Israel. Thus Hamas went on a rampage campaign, firing rockets at Israel to create terror and death among Israeli civilians.
As could be expected, Israel reacted the way most countries would when attacked, and to protect its population against a group it considers to be a terrorist organization.

A new war in the region is likely to benefit only one country: Iran.

Indeed, following the model of the summer 2006 war against Israel triggered by the capture of two Israeli soldiers by the Lebanese Shiite organization, Hezbollah, Iran would benefit with a new front opening up.

This time Iran is turning to using its Sunni arm, Hamas. Contrary to what a number of experts in the region profess, Sunni extremists and Shiite extremists have no problem joining forces against a common enemy and putting aside their age-old rivalries.

While Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of the Palestinian Resistance Movement, also known as Hamas, was still alive, he refused to Iran's advances time and again. Yassin was adamant not to engage the Shiites. After his death, Hamas became much more open to Tehran's advances. Recently, Iran has become Hamas' main bankroller and as such wants to have a say in what Hamas should or should not do.

Hamas has most certainly benefited from Hezbollah's experience and could try to mimic Hezbollah's performance during the 2006 war. In fact, right after Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in Aug. 2005, there were quite a few reports of Hezbollah operatives moving into Gaza to help their newfound Sunni brothers.

In light of this new "unnatural" alliance, it would only make sense that Hezbollah offers support to Hamas.

Hezbollah deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem went as far as saying that "Hezbollah's goal is to liberate Palestine." Qassem also called for "the Arab people to rise up to break the blockade imposed to the Palestinians in Gaza," something he described as a "crime against humanity."

Forcing the world's attention on Gaza allows Iran to divert the world's attention from its nuclear program: It's a win-win scenario at this point.

There is a real danger of Hezbollah launching a second front.

Last week the Lebanese army seized eight Katushya rockets aimed at Israel and ready to be fired. These rockets were found about one mile away from the UNIFIL headquarters and about two miles from the Israeli border. So a new front could open up.

Some analysts think Iran is also attempting to create a rift within the Sunni world.

It is therefore not a coincidence that Qassem accused Egypt of plotting "with the Zionist enemy against the Palestinians" and exhorted the Egyptian people to rise up to demand the opening of the borders with Gaza.

Egypt is not the only one targeted by this Iranian strategy; Saudi Arabia is also in the mix. On Dec. 19, hundreds of Saudi Shiites demonstrated in the eastern province - an area mostly populated by Shiites - in support of Gaza, brandishing portraits of Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah and waving Hezbollah flags. Saudi authorities have for a long time been quite concerned with Iran's expansion ambitions to dominate the Gulf region.


Olivier Guitta, an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a foreign affairs and counterterrorism consultant, is the founder of the newsletter The Croissant (
« Reply #371 on: December 31, 2008, 05:04:40 PM »

Thank you!-- I have certainly gotten way more from my participation on this forum than I have given.
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« Reply #372 on: December 31, 2008, 05:41:44 PM »

Oil prices above 40 dollars, buoyed by Gaza violence
1 day ago

SINGAPORE (AFP) — Oil prices remained above 40 dollars a barrel in Asian trade Tuesday as Israel entered the fourth day of its military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
At midday New York's main contract, light sweet crude for February delivery, rose 26 cents to 40.28 dollars a barrel, following a 2.31-dollar rise to 40.02 on Monday at the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent North Sea crude for February delivery was up five cents to 40.60 dollars a barrel after closing 2.18 dollars higher at 40.55 on Monday in London.
Prices were higher because of a "political risk premium" resulting from the Israeli-Hamas war but should drift lower on underlying weak demand for energy, said Jonathan Kornafel, Asia director of Hudson Capital Energy, a trading firm.
Israeli warplanes pounded Gaza again on Tuesday in what Tel Aviv called an "all-out" war on Hamas, which ended a ceasefire by firing rockets and mortars at the Jewish state.
The fighting fuelled fears of wider tensions in the oil-rich Middle East, traders said. Thin trade owing to the year-end holiday season also made for some price volatility.
Analysts said the price gains were additionally supported by evidence that the oil producers' cartel OPEC was cutting its output in line with an announcement earlier this month.
Previous OPEC production cuts have often been met with only partial compliance.
"Oil is starting to show some life as we head towards the end of the year," said Phil Flynn at Alaron Trading.
"A weak dollar and violence in the Gaza Strip are contributing but mainly this is year-end short covering," he said.
Short covering occurs when traders, who have sold more than they own in hopes that prices will fall, buy up the contracts as the market starts turning higher.
Monday's jump in oil prices sharply contrasted with recent trade. The New York contract had slid for nine sessions before reversing on Friday, while Brent posted its lowest price in more than four years last Wednesday.
Analysts say recent US economic data showing the world's biggest economy -- and largest energy consumer -- remains in a recession is likely to keep prices under pressure in the short term.
A sharp global downturn has slashed world demand for energy, pulling prices sharply lower from record highs of above 147 dollars in July.
New York crude plunged earlier this month to below 33 dollars, its lowest point for almost five years.
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« Reply #373 on: December 31, 2008, 05:57:06 PM »

Iran needs higher oil prices, and needs to distract the world from it's nuclear program. In addition, it's now probing Obamerica for a response to it's proxy aggression. 

Keep in mind that chess was invented in what is now Iran.
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« Reply #374 on: December 31, 2008, 07:16:09 PM »

Artillery rockets impacted the Israeli town of Beer Sheva on Dec. 30, much farther than Hamas’ rocket arsenal was thought to be able to reach. Their impact offers clues to the status of the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Related Links
Israel, Palestinian Territories: Hamas and the Israeli Offensive
Geopolitical Diary: The Latest Phase of Israeli-Palestinian Fighting
Israel: Countering Qassams and Other Ballistic Threats
Geopolitical Diary: A New Shield for Israel
The Geopolitics of Israel: Biblical and Modern
Related Special Topic Pages
Israel’s Military
Israeli-Palestinian Geopolitics and the Peace Process
Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in Beer Sheva, Israel, some 25 miles from their point of origin, Haaretz news reported Dec. 30. This is the farthest inside Israel a Palestinian rocket has ever reached from Gaza. It almost certainly indicates a larger rocket than Hamas and the jihadist groups in Gaza were previously thought to possess.

For years, Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip have used Qassam rockets, which are made out of materials readily available in the territory and essentially assembled in garages. Last year, there were indications that changes to the fuel mixture had given a new version of the Qassam a greatly increased shelf life. (Older versions had to be fired a few days after being assembled.) Though range varies, Qassams have a range of around 6 miles.

Also last year, there were indications that Hamas had obtained a quantity of 122mm BM-21 Grad artillery rockets. These rockets, while crude, are manufactured to comparatively exacting military standards in a number of countries and have proliferated widely. They have a range of more than 12 miles.

(click image to enlarge)
The 25-mile range indicated by the latest strikes in Beer Sheva is more than favorable wind conditions could likely account for, suggesting a larger rocket in Hamas’ arsenal. The range is consistent with the Iranian-made Fajr-3, though of course there are multiple rockets that could reach 25 miles.

While this is still far short of the roughly 50-mile distance to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Dimona (home to the Israeli nuclear weapons program), this escalation in Hamas’ reach will be a major concern for Israel.

But what matters most is not where the rockets came from, but what the rocket strike in Beer Sheva says about the progress of the Israeli campaign in Gaza. As artillery rockets increase in range, they also generally increase in size and weight. A single Grad rocket (there are multiple variants) is more than 10 feet long and weighs in at 100-175 pounds, and requires multiple people to carry it. Whatever hit Beer Sheva at the end of the fourth day of the Israeli operation was almost certainly larger.

Destroying these rockets should have been one of the first objectives of any Israeli military assault on Gaza. While Israel was never going to destroy every last cache of rockets, especially from the air, it does not bode well for Israel that Hamas is demonstrating a new capability at the end of several days of bombardment by the Israeli Air Force — which is specifically targeting, among other things, that very rocket arsenal.

Of course, a potential ground incursion is looming. Israel has already called up some 7,000 reservists and moved tanks and armored vehicles to the border, and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak reportedly has asked for the authority to activate an additional 2,520. The Israel Defense Forces are preparing for weeks of protracted fighting to eliminate as much of Hamas’ fighting capability as they can. But the “use-it-or-lose-it” moment for Hamas with its rocket arsenal likely already has passed. The Dec. 30 strike is probably better understood as a defiant Hamas demonstrating how much capability it has retained, which suggests that Israeli air power and intelligence may not have achieved early hoped-for gains.

Whether more of these longer-range rockets appear as the conflict continues will be telling. If Hamas had only two left, and the rest have been destroyed, that is one thing. But if the longer-range barrage continues unabated, then it says something very different about the Israeli campaign. Indeed, the 40 shorter-range rockets that struck the western Negev on Dec. 30 alone also do not bode well for the success of the Israeli air campaign.

Ultimately, Barak’s push to activate more reservists suggests the Israelis know they have probably achieved what can be achieved from the air, and now are preparing for extended ground raids.
« Reply #375 on: December 31, 2008, 10:49:12 PM »

The Good Fight in Gaza

Seeing Gaza from the lookout on the Israeli side of the border, it's not obvious that the Palestinian enclave is among the most miserable spots one could possibly live. Still, we know it to be true. But perhaps it is lost on many Americans that living next to Gaza is likewise a miserable experience. The Israelis who cope with a daily bombardment from the crude but increasingly sophisticated rockets produced by Hamas endure what no American would ever abide. Barack Obama was uncharacteristically succinct when he described the situation last summer:

If someone was sending rockets on my house where my daughters were sleeping at night, I would do everything to stop it, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.

Yes, and it's evidence only of the extreme paralysis of Israeli politics that it took so long for the Israelis to actually do something. There is no reason to believe that the Israelis are lashing out in some ill-conceived manner -- using their superior military infrastructure to exact revenge for years of unanswered attacks (though such a response would be understandable). In fact, the operation has been in the works for at least six months as the Israelis gathered intelligence on the Hamas leadership and its infrastructure in Gaza. Roggio worries that this looks like a repeat of the 2006 war against Hezbollah. I'm more optimistic.

As Noah Pollak points out, the war against Hezbollah in 2006 did succeed in stopping the rocket fire on Israel's northern border -- at least for the time being. The problem was not solved permanently, and that was indeed a tremendous and unfortunate failure. But as Jeffrey Goldberg writes, the goal here is not the destruction of Hamas -- that doesn't seem possible at this point -- but for the Israeli government to fulfill its fundamental obligation to its citizens: "to use all of the tools of national power to stop attacks on its citizens." That can be achieved by restoring Israel's deterrent through a massive show of force. As Marty Peretz writes:

So at 11:30 on Saturday morning, according to both the Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz, as well as the New York Times, 50 fighter jets and attack helicopters demolished some 40 to 50 sites in just about three minutes, maybe five. Message: do not fuck with the Jews.

The problem with this, however, is that if Israel doesn't finish the job, Hamas may accrue some benefit from the additional suffering of the Palestinian people. Hamas doesn't care whether the residents of Gaza live or die, whether they prosper or starve, it cares only that the Arab world and Iran support the organization with money and weapons, that the Palestinian people are united in their hatred of Israel, and that a moderate Palestinian faction is unable to pursue peace. If Hamas is left as the dominant force in Gaza, then their tactical defeat may also be a strategic victory -- as was the case for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Barak is promising a war with Hamas "to the bitter end." I'll believe that when I see it.

Still, the Israelis' fight in Gaza is a good fight. It is supported by the Israel's left-wing parties and more than 80 percent of its citizenry. While the American left kvetches about the disproportionate use of force, their silence when Hamas announced an end to the cease fire was far more revealing. And this time the American left cannot claim to be in solidarity with their ideological allies in Israel. They are on their own, and they speak only for themselves.

As far as Obama, does anyone doubt he would have supported this attack vigorously? Which raises the question: did the Israelis do Obama a big favor by launching this operation now, rather than forcing Obama to support it publicly three weeks from now? Ben Smith has some good reporting on how this is playing in Obamaland, see the last two paragraphs in particular.
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« Reply #376 on: December 31, 2008, 11:24:30 PM »

December 31, 2008
Five days after Israel launched Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, its war strategy is showing signs of unraveling.

On Tuesday, militants in Gaza launched some 40 rockets into the western Negev and even fired a couple of rockets that reached as far east as Beer Sheva, 25 miles away from Gaza -— twice the distance Hamas rockets previously were believed able to reach — and 25 miles from Dimona, where Israel’s nuclear facilities are located. In launching the military offensive, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had a mission to destroy Hamas’ command and control and military capabilities. The rocket barrages, however, not only are continuing, but are increasing in threat value.

So far, the Israelis have been fighting the war from the air, using tactical intelligence to target Hamas facilities, smuggling routes, tunnels and militant strongholds. Given the difficulties in destroying an entity like Hamas in a densely populated region like Gaza, any air campaign must rely on actionable intelligence concerning the location of weapons, personnel, tunnel networks and safe houses. This means Israel has only a very small window of time to get the job done and prepare ground forces to mop up any remaining targets.

But time favors Hamas. If the initial air assault fails to take out the bulk of Hamas’ military capabilities, the air campaign will get drawn out. The longer the air campaign, the more time Hamas has to shift its weapons and personnel and devolve command and control to the unit level, thereby gradually eroding the quality of Israel’s pre-war intelligence. All Hamas needs to do for now is focus on the survival of its core leadership and militant assets. If Israel can be convinced that the air campaign is not working, it will be pressured to resort to a ground war. And that is where things get really messy.

In a ground war, Hamas would not be simply fighting on its home terrain; it would be fighting in a city. The Gaza Strip is not a country. It is a densely packed refugee community that has existed in a legal no-man’s-land for more than a generation. This is not a refugee camp of tents, but a city with a population density comparable to that of New York City —- just without many multistory buildings. A war in such circumstances would play to every strength that irregular and numerous Hamas forces boast and every weakness of the technophile but manpower-limited Israeli forces. Hamas certainly wants to win this round, so it needs to drag out the air campaign and prepare its forces for a war of attrition against Israeli ground forces when they present themselves as targets. Hamas already is preparing militants for suicide attacks against the IDF when they enter Gaza, with the knowledge that the IDF has become increasingly casualty-averse in its military campaigns over the years.

So far, it looks like Hamas will get its wish for a ground campaign. Israel’s Channel 10 television issued a report Tuesday, citing Israeli military intelligence assessments that the air offensive in the Gaza Strip had destroyed one-third of Hamas’ rocket arsenal (or 1,000 out of 3,000 rockets), including several hundred long-range rockets capable of reaching deep inside Israel. Considering how difficult it is to gauge exactly how many rockets have actually been taken out when they are now lying in heaps of rubble, the accuracy of the report is highly dubious. But the image presented is sobering. While Hamas forces were caught somewhat by surprise, they lost only one-third of their highly mobile forces. The rest remain in play and are likely beyond the reach of anything but a sustained ground assault. While the veracity of the report is impossible to confirm in a time of war, Tuesday’s rocket barrage is a big sign that Israel’s air campaign failed to achieve decisive results in its first days.

Israel now has to shift to a less desirable strategy. On Tuesday evening, the defense minister asked the Cabinet to add 2,520 more reservists to the 7,000 called up in recent days. Israel appears to be preparing for a protracted ground assault on Gaza —- hostile territory it has no desire to occupy, and where Hamas is preparing to conduct a war of attrition against a casualty-averse army. The Israelis have attempted this strategy a number of times before, to little avail. The decisive results the Israelis had hoped to achieve with an air campaign will be that much harder to achieve in a ground war, but that is precisely where the situation seems to be heading.
« Reply #377 on: January 01, 2009, 09:19:43 AM »

Israel's Attacks On Gaza Deepen Palestinian Rift
By Griff Witte
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, January 1, 2009; A01

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Dec. 31 -- Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip has exacerbated the deep divisions between Palestinians who want to make peace with Israel and those who support Hamas's militant struggle against the Jewish state.

The fractures are stark in the West Bank, where sympathy for Hamas appears to be rising in the streets even as the territory's leaders suppress pro-Hamas demonstrations and blame the Islamist movement for the breakdown of a six-month truce with Israel.

Hamas shot back Wednesday, accusing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, from the rival Fatah party, of being an Israeli collaborator -- one of the worst slurs imaginable for a Palestinian.

Fatah and Hamas have a basic disagreement over how to engage with Israel: Fatah supports negotiations leading to two states that exist side by side, while Hamas has never recognized Israel and advocates armed resistance.

The continued infighting has been nearly as dispiriting for Palestinians as the Israeli offensive itself. The goal of a Palestinian state -- an elusive dream for decades -- feels even more distant as Israeli bombs fall on Gaza, Palestinians say.

"The fragmentation has really frustrated the population," said Qais Abdul Karim, a Palestinian Legislative Council member who belongs to neither Fatah nor Hamas. "There is no unity in the national movement and no unity in the street. These attacks have increased the divisions. They should have done the opposite."

That dynamic may explain, at least in part, why public reaction to the Gaza strikes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank has been milder than many analysts predicted.

On Sunday, hundreds of people rallied in Ramallah's central square, denouncing Israel and chanting slogans calling for Palestinian unity. But when a group of young Hamas supporters attempted to unfurl the movement's green-and-white banners, security forces loyal to Abbas quickly seized the men and hustled them away.

Since then, there have been few significant protests in the territory, despite widespread hostility toward Israel over the death toll. Gaza medical officials say the assault has left at least 390 Palestinians dead, including dozens of civilians, and wounded 1,600. By keeping public discontent bottled up, analysts say, Abbas risks getting caught in the backlash.

"The Palestinian Authority doesn't want to see demonstrations because it doesn't want to see the situation spin out of control," said Khalil Shikaki, director of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. "There is a great deal of anger, and there is a great deal of frustration. That anger will eventually be turned against the Palestinian Authority, and that will be the start of the process of destabilization in the West Bank."

Hamas stoked that anger Wednesday when spokesman Fawzi Barhoum released a statement accusing Abbas of having formed a secret cell of Fatah supporters in Gaza to collect information on the whereabouts of Hamas leaders, who have gone into hiding for fear of assassination. Barhoum said Abbas planned to turn the information over to the Israeli military.

Fatah officials rejected the charge. But the accusation played on Palestinian fears that Abbas is too close to the Israelis and secretly supports the bombing campaign, even though he has condemned it.

"This whole ordeal is being coordinated between the Israelis and the Palestinians so that Abu Mazen can get back to Gaza," Rasem Hasoon, a 21-year-old shoe salesman, said, using Abbas's nickname.

Hasoon said that he is a member of Fatah but that Hamas has impressed him lately. "They are defending our land and our freedom," he said.

The rift between the two factions hit a critical point in June 2007, when Hamas ousted Fatah security forces from Gaza after bloody street battles. Since then, Hamas, which won the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, has had sole control of Gaza. Fatah has continued to exercise power in the West Bank, where it has banned Hamas from political activity.

The fortunes of the two territories -- which together with East Jerusalem would make up a future Palestinian state -- have diverged sharply since the Hamas takeover of Gaza. While economic conditions for the 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank have improved as international development money poured in, Gaza's 1.5 million people have suffered under a strict Israeli embargo.

In Ramallah, seat of power for the Fatah-run administration and one of the wealthiest cities in the West Bank, businessmen sip lattes in European-style cafes and car dealerships showcase gleaming new Mercedes-Benzes. In Gaza City, the home base of Hamas, donkeys sometimes outnumber cars because of fuel shortages and residents fight over their daily allocation of bread.

Israeli restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in both territories -- which are separated by about 30 miles of Israeli land -- have deepened the sense of disconnection between Gaza and the West Bank.

Palestinians say that driving a wedge between the two territories is exactly what the Israelis have in mind.

Shikaki, the Palestinian political analyst, said he thinks Israel is trying to use the pressure of a military campaign to reorient Gaza toward Egypt and away from the rest of historic Palestine. "Ultimately, Gaza would become Egypt's problem, not Israel's," he said. "The goal of a single Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank would be fully undermined."

Israeli officials deny the charge but acknowledge that they are interested in highlighting the divisions between the two territories as a way of undermining Hamas's rule. Israel says the ongoing assault is intended to eliminate the ability of Hamas and other militant groups to fire rockets into southern Israel from Gaza.

"The people in Gaza know exactly what kind of life the people in the West Bank have. And it makes them unhappy," said Shlomo Dror, a spokesman for Israel's Defense Ministry. "They know that after Hamas took over, things got a lot worse."

Although there is no organized political opposition in Gaza, undercurrents of resentment toward Hamas were one reason the group signed a six-month cease-fire with Israel over the summer. With missiles now falling and Israel barring foreign journalists from visiting the narrow coastal strip, it is nearly impossible to ascertain whether the air assault has helped or hurt Hamas's reputation in Gaza.

Although taking care not to justify the Israeli campaign, Fatah officials say they hope the latter is the case.

"Hamas right now is making a big mistake," said Ziad Abu Ein, a deputy minister in the Palestinian Authority and a Fatah member. "The people are turning against them and want to get rid of them. Just not by the hand of the Israelis."

Special correspondent Sufian Taha in Ramallah contributed to this report.
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« Reply #378 on: January 01, 2009, 12:54:46 PM »

Israel can't bomb its way to peace
The assault on Gaza has more to do with internal politics than its national security. The U.S. needs to reengage forcefully in a Mideast peace process.
Rosa Brooks
January 1, 2009 L.A. Times
It's a new year in an old and bloody world.

In Israel, politicians jockeying for power have launched the most lethal military assault on Palestinian territory in decades. Israel has justified its bombardment of Gaza on the grounds that Hamas broke a fragile, temporary cease-fire. The Israeli government is right to consider Hamas' rocket attacks on Israeli civilians inexcusable, but the timing of the Israeli military offensive has more to do with politics than anything else.

Ehud Barak, Israel's Labor Party defense minister, and Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister from the centrist Kadima party, are both contenders for prime minister in Israel's Feb. 6 national elections. A show of "toughness" against Hamas could help Labor and/or Kadima beat back the right-wing Likud Party of Benjamin Netanyahu, which has been leading in the polls. Meanwhile, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who faces corruption charges, has just a few weeks to restore his own tattered reputation.

Adding to the time pressure is U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's upcoming inauguration. As long as President Bush was in the White House, Israel could count on a U.S. administration that wasn't merely "supportive" of Israel but blindly, mindlessly so. Obama may be less willing to offer Israel blank checks. Thus this New Year's military offensive, timed for the crucial window before Israeli elections and Obama's swearing-in.

In a strictly military sense, Israel will "win" this battle against Hamas. For all its threats and bravado, Hamas is weak, and its weapons -- terrorism, homemade rockets -- are the weapons of the weak. Since 2001, Hamas has fired thousands of unguided Kassam rockets at Israel, but the rockets have killed only a handful of Israelis.

Israel's military, in contrast, is one of the most modern and effective in the world (thanks in part to an annual $3 billion in U.S. aid). Israel can easily bottle up the tiny Gaza Strip and its 1.5 million people. On Saturday, the first day of the offensive, Israeli bombs killed at least 180 Palestinians. By Wednesday, the Palestinian death toll exceeded 390.

But if there is no reason to doubt Israel's ability to pulverize Gaza, there's also no reason to think this offensive will improve Israeli security. Destruction of Hamas' infrastructure may temporarily slow Hamas rocket attacks, but sooner or later they'll resume.

The Israeli assault may even strengthen Hamas in the longer run and weaken its more moderate secular rival, Fatah. As Israel should know by now (as we all should know), dropping bombs in densely populated areas is a surefire way to radicalize civilians and get them to rally around the home team, however flawed.

Ironically, it's precisely this psychological phenomenon that Olmert, Barak and Livni are counting on among Israelis, but they seem to assume it doesn't exist among Palestinians. (Or, worse, they're too cynical to care, as long as they profit politically.)

Israel has no viable political endgame here: There's just no clear route from bombardment to a sustainable peace. But the damage caused by this new conflagration won't be limited to the Israelis and Palestinians. Israel's military offensive already has sparked outrage and protests throughout the Arab world. The current crisis also may destabilize some of the more moderate Arab governments in the region -- in Egypt, for instance -- where leaders now face popular backlash if they don't repudiate Israel.

And if you think that none of this really matters for us here in the U.S., you're kidding yourself. Arab and Islamic anger over Palestine continues to fuel anti-Western and anti-U.S. terrorism around the globe.

It's time for the United States to wake up from its long slumber and reengage -- forcefully -- with the Middle East peace process. Only the U.S. -- Israel's primary supporter and main financial sponsor -- can push it to make the hard choices necessary for its own long-term security, as well as the region's. In January 2001, the Taba talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority came achingly close to a final settlement, but talks broke down after Likud's Ariel Sharon was elected prime minister on Feb. 6, 2001. Sharon refused to meet with Yasser Arafat, and newly inaugurated President George W. Bush had no interest in pushing Israel toward peace.

Eight years later, Israel faces another election, and we're about to swear in a new president. When he takes office, Obama needs to push both Israelis and Palestinians to sit back down, with the abandoned Taba agreements as the starting point. Here's to a less bloody 2009.

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« Reply #379 on: January 01, 2009, 01:09:11 PM »

Israel can't bomb its way to peace

Hamas can't rocket its way to victory.

Denny Schlesinger
« Reply #380 on: January 01, 2009, 01:51:12 PM »

Funny how Ms. Brooks can find base political motives in Israel's response, but doesn't deign to note the political motives of Hamas, as she uses political arguments to ask BHO to forcefully intercede. You all on the left have some sort of formula for determining when something is a no no and when it is necessary? Or perhaps the hypocrisies and expediencies are as patent as they seem and the rest of us aren't 'sposed to notice?
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« Reply #381 on: January 01, 2009, 03:51:12 PM »

Finding causes and explanations

The other day I read an opinion piece that stated that Hamas had broken the truce because Abbas was getting too popular. Others attribute the Israeli actions to the upcoming elections. A third group opines that Israel wants to make Obama's entry easier by bombing now while Bush is still in the White House. I think it has to do with Saturn being in the House of Virgo. I also think that my suggestion has about the same chance of being on the money as the other three. Wink

People love explanations. People crave explanations. People need explanations and there is a cadre of expert explainers that can explain everything -- after the fact. They never have been able to forecast these things that are so crystal clear after the fact. 20-20 hindsight is wonder to behold!

I've been dedicated to the stock market for the past 18 years and it never ceases to amaze me how well the pundits are able to explain all the market movements. Yet most of these same pundits live off a salary instead of using their superior acumen to play the market.

Let's put on our thinking caps to see what we can come up with by way of explanation. I think the first point to consider is how long it takes to plan and prepare for an operation such as this one. Can it be done in one week? The Rescue in Entebbe was prepared in about 5 days. The Air France plane took off on June 27 and the Israelis hit Entebbe on July 3.

The truce expired on December 19 and the Israeli bombing started on December 24, five days later. Yes it's possible that Operation Cast Lead was created when the truce expired. Israel claims the operation has been six months in planning, that the planning started just about the time the truce went into effect. This sounds cynical as all hell but Hamas broke the truce on June 25, 2008 by firing three Qassam rockets.

Published: June 25, 2008

JERUSALEM — Three Qassam rockets fired from Gaza on Tuesday struck the Israeli border town of Sderot and its environs, causing no serious injuries but constituting the first serious breach of a five-day-old truce between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic group that controls Gaza.

I find this breach by Hamas a good enough reason to plan Operation Cast Lead. Against this possibility we have to weight the idea that Ehud Barak was thinking about elections back in June and he set the whole thing up to become Prime Minister. We can discard the idea that the operation has to be approved by the cabinet, because the Israeli cabinet does whatever the Defense Minister wants.

Call me naive but I'm taking the story as asserted by the Israeli government. Six months in preparation because enough is enough.

« Last Edit: January 01, 2009, 03:53:05 PM by captainccs » Logged

Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #382 on: January 01, 2009, 07:45:02 PM »

**Israel CAN bomb it's way into removing garbage like this from the planet.**

No tears for Hamas leader in Ramallah
Jan. 1, 2009
Khaled Abu Toameh , THE JERUSALEM POST

Nizar Rayyan, the Hamas military commander who was killed in Thursday's air raid on his home in the Jabalya refugee camp, was a sworn enemy not only of Israel, but also of the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas.

Rayyan, who had four wives and a dozen children, led the Hamas militiamen who defeated Abbas's security forces in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007. He is the third most senior Hamas leader to be killed by Israel, after the targeted killings of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in March 2004 and his successor, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a few weeks later.

Hamas leaders stressed that Rayyan's death, while a "painful loss" to their movement, would not affect its determination to continue the fight against Israel.

A Hamas spokesman said he did not rule out the possibility that the PA had asked Israel to kill Rayyan because of his role in the Hamas-Fatah clashes in 2007.

"Sheikh Rayyan was one of the main reasons why many of Abbas's men did not sleep well at night," he said. "They knew that as long as the sheikh was around, they would never be able to return to the Gaza Strip."

A few days before Hamas took full control of the Gaza Strip, Rayyan, dressed in military fatigues and carrying a Kalashnikov assault rifle, declared that he and his supporters were planning to hold Friday prayers inside Abbas's presidential compound in Gaza City.

Rayyan personally led the Hamas militiamen who seized the compound and PA security installations throughout Gaza. He later boasted that the Strip had been "cleansed" of "traitors" and "CIA agents" - a reference to Abbas and his former security chiefs.

A few months later, Rayyan again issued a threat against Abbas. This time he declared that he would soon lead Friday prayers inside Abbas's Mukata compound in Ramallah, an indication of Hamas's intention to extend its control to the West Bank.

That was why PA officials in Ramallah Thursday did not shed tears over his departure from the scene. In fact, some of them privately expressed relief, claiming that he was responsible for the killing of scores of Abbas loyalists in the Gaza Strip during the 2007 "coup."

Many Palestinians saw the killing of Rayyan, 60, as a severe blow to Hamas and its armed wing, Izzadin Kassam. Some Hamas supporters said on Thursday that Rayyan was more significant than Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh or senior Hamas leaders Mahmoud Zahar and Said Siam.

"He was one of the most popular figures in Hamas," said a Palestinian journalist who knew the slain Hamas leader for nearly two decades. "He was the type of leader who would go out with the fighters to confront Israeli tanks and fire rockets at Israel. He loved wearing the military uniform."

Apart from serving as a "spiritual" leader for Hamas's armed wing, Rayyan was also a teacher at the Islamic University in Gaza City. His students referred to him as "The Professor" and described him as a prominent Muslim scholar. One student said Rayyan was Yassin's real successor.

Rayyan was a leading authority on the sayings of the prophet Muhammad (Hadith), and the basement of his four-story house had been turned into a library of more than 5,000 books and documents on Islam.

After Islamic studies at universities in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Sudan, he returned to the Gaza Strip and worked as a preacher in several mosques. His fiery sermons and involvement in incitement and terrorism resulted in four years in an Israeli prison.

When the PA assumed control over the Gaza Strip in 1994, Rayyan was one of the first Hamas members to find himself in a Palestinian prison, together with Zahar and Rantisi.

At the beginning of the second intifada, Rayyan sent one of his sons to carry out a suicide attack in Gush Katif's Elei Sinai in 2001. Two Israelis were killed. Rayyan was also responsible for a series of suicide bombings and attacks inside the Green Line, including the suicide bombing in Ashdod Port in 2004 in which 10 Israelis died.

In recent years, Rayyan served as a liaison between the political leadership of Hamas and Izzadin Kassam. He is even said to have been one of the very few Hamas operatives who knew where IDF soldier St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit was being held in the Gaza Strip.

This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1230733134624&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull
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« Reply #383 on: January 01, 2009, 08:49:19 PM »

Gaza rockets put Israel’s nuclear plant in battle zone
Growing concern over Hamas’s new arsenalJames Hider in Beersheba
There were growing fears in Israel last night that Hamas missiles could threaten its top-secret nuclear facility at Dimona.

Rocket attacks from Gaza have forced Israelis to flee in ever greater numbers and military chiefs have been shaken by the size and sophistication of the militant group’s arsenal.

In Beersheba, until a few days ago a sleepy desert town in southern Israel, there is little sign of the 186,000 inhabitants. Schools are closed and the streets of shuttered shops echo with the howl of sirens warning of incoming rockets.

Israeli planes, meanwhile, began a new stage yesterday in their offensive on Gaza, killing Nizar Rayyan, a senior Hamas official. The one-tonne bomb in Jabaliya is also understood to have killed two of his four wives and four of his twelve children. More than 400 Palestinians have been killed in the six days of Israeli attacks.

Despite a diplomatic mission by Tzipi Livni, the Israeli Foreign Minister, to Paris, the Israeli army continued to muster thousands of troops and scores of tanks along Gaza’s border for a possible ground offensive. Israel’s airstrikes are designed to blunt Hamas’s capacity to fire its new Grad missiles deep into its territory. The weapons are smuggled in through tunnels and by sea, replacing homemade Qassam rockets.

Israeli officials say that Hamas has also acquired dozens of Iranian-made Fajr-3 missiles with an even longer range. Many fear that as the group acquires ever more sophisticated weaponry it is only a matter of time before the nuclear installation at Dimona, 20 miles east of Beersheba, falls within its sights. Dimona houses Israel’s only nuclear reactor and is believed to be where nuclear warheads are stored.

Israel’s worst nightmare is that soon all its cities will be within range either of the Hezbollah Katyushas arrayed on the Lebanese border to the north or the increasingly sophisticated missiles stockpiled by Hamas to the south. Both groups have links to Israel’s archenemy Iran.

Israel has said that its aim is to smash Hamas’s rocket-firing capability but also to topple the hardline Islamist regime that seized power in the Gaza Strip in 2007 after bloody street battles with its secular rivals Fatah. Until that goal is achieved, many in Beersheba are packing their bags and heading for Tel Aviv or Eilat.

“Maybe 30 or 40 per cent of people have left the city,” said Ron Shukron, 26, running one of the few grocery shops still open. As he spoke a siren echoed through the empty streets. With only 15 seconds to take cover, he stepped under a reinforced support beam in the ceiling. Seconds later came the dull thud of a rocket exploding on the edge of town.
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« Reply #384 on: January 01, 2009, 10:37:30 PM »

Targeting Dimona suggests a very deliberate escalation with potentially world shaking consequences.
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« Reply #385 on: January 02, 2009, 12:36:09 AM »

If Iran unleashes Hezbollah in the north if/when Israel goes into Gaza, we could see a real excrement storm.

Israel's actions in Gaza are justified under international law, and Israel should be commended for its self-defense against terrorism. Article 51 of the United Nations Charter reserves to every nation the right to engage in self-defense against armed attacks. The only limitation international law places on a democracy is that its actions must satisfy the principle of proportionality.

Since Israel ended its occupation of Gaza, Hamas has fired thousands of rockets designed to kill civilians into southern Israel. The residents of Sderot -- which have borne the brunt of the attacks -- have approximately 15 seconds from launch time to run into a shelter. Although deliberately targeting civilians is a war crime, terrorists firing at Sderot are so proud of their actions that they sign their weapons.

When Barack Obama visited Sderot this summer and saw the remnants of these rockets, he reacted by saying that if his two daughters were exposed to rocket attacks in their home, he would do everything in his power to stop such attacks. He understands how the terrorists exploit the morality of democracies.

In a recent incident related to me by the former head of the Israeli air force, Israeli intelligence learned that a family's house in Gaza was being used to manufacture rockets. The Israeli military gave the residents 30 minutes to leave. Instead, the owner called Hamas, which sent mothers carrying babies to the house.

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Hamas knew that Israel would never fire at a home with civilians in it. They also knew that if Israeli authorities did not learn there were civilians in the house and fired on it, Hamas would win a public relations victory by displaying the dead. Israel held its fire. The Hamas rockets that were protected by the human shields were then used against Israeli civilians.

These despicable tactics -- targeting Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians -- can only work against moral democracies that care deeply about minimizing civilian casualties. They never work against amoral nations such as Russia, whose military has few inhibitions against killing civilians among whom enemy combatants are hiding.

The claim that Israel has violated the principle of proportionality -- by killing more Hamas terrorists than the number of Israeli civilians killed by Hamas rockets -- is absurd. First, there is no legal equivalence between the deliberate killing of innocent civilians and the deliberate killings of Hamas combatants. Under the laws of war, any number of combatants can be killed to prevent the killing of even one innocent civilian.

In Today's Opinion Journal


The Euro Decade and Its LessonsTreasury to Ford: Drop Dead


Declarations: In With the New
– Peggy NoonanPotomac Watch: The Senate Goes Wobbly on Card Check
– Kimberley A. Strassel


Conservatives Can Unite Around the Constitution
– Peter BerkowitzLet's Be Worthy of Their Sacrific
– Karl RoveLet's Write the Rating Agencies Out of Our Law
– Robert RosenkranzObama Promises Bush III on Iran
– John R. BoltonIsrael's Policy Is Perfectly 'Proportionate'
– Alan M. DershowitzSecond, proportionality is not measured by the number of civilians actually killed, but rather by the risk posed. This is illustrated by what happened on Tuesday, when a Hamas rocket hit a kindergarten in Beer Sheva, though no students were there at the time. Under international law, Israel is not required to allow Hamas to play Russian roulette with its children's lives.

While Israel installs warning systems and builds shelters, Hamas refuses to do so, precisely because it wants to maximize the number of Palestinian civilians inadvertently killed by Israel's military actions. Hamas knows from experience that even a small number of innocent Palestinian civilians killed inadvertently will result in bitter condemnation of Israel by many in the international community.

Israel understands this as well. It goes to enormous lengths to reduce the number of civilian casualties -- even to the point of foregoing legitimate targets that are too close to civilians.

Until the world recognizes that Hamas is committing three war crimes -- targeting Israeli civilians, using Palestinian civilians as human shields, and seeking the destruction of a member state of the United Nations -- and that Israel is acting in self-defense and out of military necessity, the conflict will continue.

Mr. Dershowitz is a law professor at Harvard. His latest book is "The Case Against Israel's Enemies" (Wiley, 2008).
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« Reply #386 on: January 02, 2009, 09:13:07 AM »

Moral Clarity in Gaza
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, January 2, 2009; A15

Late Saturday, thousands of Gazans received Arabic-language cell-phone messages from the Israeli military, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons.

-- Associated Press, Dec. 27

Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating.

Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger. Hamas, which started this conflict with unrelenting rocket and mortar attacks on unarmed Israelis -- 6,464 launched from Gaza in the past three years -- deliberately places its weapons in and near the homes of its own people.

This has two purposes. First, counting on the moral scrupulousness of Israel, Hamas figures civilian proximity might help protect at least part of its arsenal. Second, knowing that Israelis have new precision weapons that may allow them to attack nonetheless, Hamas hopes that inevitable collateral damage -- or, if it is really fortunate, an errant Israeli bomb -- will kill large numbers of its own people for which, of course, the world will blame Israel.

For Hamas, the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians. The religion of Jew-murder and self-martyrdom is ubiquitous. And deeply perverse, such as the Hamas TV children's program in which an adorable live-action Palestinian Mickey Mouse is beaten to death by an Israeli (then replaced by his more militant cousin, Nahoul the Bee, who vows to continue on Mickey's path to martyrdom).

At war today in Gaza, one combatant is committed to causing the most civilian pain and suffering on both sides. The other combatant is committed to saving as many lives as possible -- also on both sides. It's a recurring theme. Israel gave similar warnings to Southern Lebanese villagers before attacking Hezbollah in the Lebanon war of 2006. The Israelis did this knowing it would lose for them the element of surprise and cost the lives of their own soldiers.

That is the asymmetry of means between Hamas and Israel. But there is equal clarity regarding the asymmetry of ends. Israel has but a single objective in Gaza -- peace: the calm, open, normal relations it offered Gaza when it withdrew in 2005. Doing something never done by the Turkish, British, Egyptian and Jordanian rulers of Palestine, the Israelis gave the Palestinians their first sovereign territory ever in Gaza.

What ensued? This is not ancient history. Did the Palestinians begin building the state that is supposedly their great national aim? No. No roads, no industry, no courts, no civil society at all. The flourishing greenhouses that Israel left behind for the Palestinians were destroyed and abandoned. Instead, Gaza's Iranian-sponsored rulers have devoted all their resources to turning it into a terror base -- importing weapons, training terrorists, building tunnels with which to kidnap Israelis on the other side. And of course firing rockets unceasingly.

The grievance? It cannot be occupation, military control or settlers. They were all removed in September 2005. There's only one grievance and Hamas is open about it. Israel's very existence.

Nor does Hamas conceal its strategy. Provoke conflict. Wait for the inevitable civilian casualties. Bring down the world's opprobrium on Israel. Force it into an untenable cease-fire -- exactly as happened in Lebanon. Then, as in Lebanon, rearm, rebuild and mobilize for the next round. Perpetual war. Since its raison d'etre is the eradication of Israel, there are only two possible outcomes: the defeat of Hamas or the extinction of Israel.

Israel's only response is to try to do what it failed to do after the Gaza withdrawal. The unpardonable strategic error of its architect, Ariel Sharon, was not the withdrawal itself but the failure to immediately establish a deterrence regime under which no violence would be tolerated after the removal of any and all Israeli presence -- the ostensible justification for previous Palestinian attacks. Instead, Israel allowed unceasing rocket fire, implicitly acquiescing to a state of active war and indiscriminate terror.

Hamas's rejection of an extension of its often-violated six-month cease-fire (during which the rockets never stopped, just were less frequent) gave Israel a rare opportunity to establish the norm it should have insisted upon three years ago: no rockets, no mortar fire, no kidnapping, no acts of war. As the U.S. government has officially stated: a sustainable and enduring cease-fire. If this fighting ends with anything less than that, Israel will have lost yet another war. The question is whether Israel still retains the nerve -- and the moral self-assurance -- to win.
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« Reply #387 on: January 02, 2009, 09:53:50 AM »

From the ultra liberal Economist mag (rag) with no authors ever attributed by name to their articles.
The part that irritates me is this:

"In general, a war must pass three tests to be justified. A country must first have exhausted all other means of defending itself. The attack should be proportionate to the objective. And it must stand a reasonable chance of achieving its goal. On all three of these tests Israel is on shakier ground than it cares to admit"

Oh really?  And what God of ethics decided this?  The new political correctness?   What horse shit!  Therefore the Jews have a right to kill 6 million Germans.  The Ukraines 5 or 6 million Russians, The Russians 20 million Germans.  The Jews have a right to kill Iranians (former Persians), Iraqis (former Babylon), Egyptians, Syrains (fromer Assyria), Italians (formerly the Romans), Mongolians (formerly Genghis Khan), and the descendents of past civilizations such as Philistines, Hittites and at least a dozen others.

With regards to the objective so far Israel's attack is diproportionately soft.  The objective is to stop Hamas from killing Jews.  That will only be accomplished when they are all killed.  So there you G'D'M leftist politiocally A'h'l's!

Israel's war in Gaza

Gaza: the rights and wrongs
Dec 30th 2008
From The Economist print edition

Israel was provoked, but as in Lebanon in 2006 it may find this war a hard one to end, or to justify

APTHE scale and ferocity of the onslaught on Gaza have been shocking, and the television images of civilian suffering wrench the heart. But however deplorable, Israel’s resort to military means to silence the rockets of Hamas should have been no surprise. This war has been a long time in the making.

Since Israel evacuated its soldiers and settlers from the Gaza Strip three years ago, Palestinian groups in Gaza have fired thousands of rudimentary rockets and mortar bombs across the border, killing very few people but disrupting normal life in a swathe of southern Israel. They fired almost 300 between December 19th, when Hamas ignored Egypt’s entreaties and decided not to renew a six-month truce, and December 27th, when Israel started its bombing campaign (see article). To that extent, Israel is right to say it was provoked.

Of provocation and proportion
It is easy to point out from afar that barely a dozen Israelis had been killed by Palestinian rockets since the Gaza withdrawal. But few governments facing an election, as Israel’s is, would let their towns be peppered every day with rockets, no matter how ineffective. As Barack Obama said on a visit to one Israeli town in July, “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. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” In recent months, moreover, Hamas has smuggled far more lethal rockets into its Gaza enclave, some of which are now landing in Israeli cities that were previously out of range. On its border with Lebanon, Israel already faces one radical non-state actor, Hizbullah, that is formally dedicated to Israel’s destruction and has a powerful arsenal of Iranian-supplied missiles at its disposal. The Israelis are understandably reluctant to let a similar danger grow in Gaza.

And yet Israel should not be surprised by the torrent of indignation it has aroused from around the world. This is not just because people seldom back the side with the F-16s. In general, a war must pass three tests to be justified. A country must first have exhausted all other means of defending itself. The attack should be proportionate to the objective. And it must stand a reasonable chance of achieving its goal. On all three of these tests Israel is on shakier ground than it cares to admit.

It is true that Israel has put up with the rockets from Gaza for a long time. But it may have been able to stop the rockets another way. For it is not quite true that Israel’s only demand in respect of Gaza has been for quiet along the border. Israel has also been trying to undermine Hamas by clamping an economic blockade on Gaza, while boosting the economy of the West Bank, where the Palestinians’ more pliant secular movement, Fatah, holds sway. Even during the now-lapsed truce, Israel prevented all but a trickle of humanitarian aid from entering the strip. So although Israel was provoked, Hamas can claim that it was provoked too. If Israel had ended the blockade, Hamas may have renewed the truce. Indeed, on one reading of its motives, Hamas resumed fire to force Israel into a new truce on terms that would include opening the border.

On proportionality, the numbers speak for themselves—up to a point. After the first three days, some 350 Palestinians had been killed and only four Israelis. Neither common sense nor the laws of war require Israel to deviate from the usual rule, which is to kill as many enemies as you can and avoid casualties on your own side. Hamas was foolish to pick this uneven fight. But of the Palestinian dead, several score were civilians, and many others were policemen rather than combatants. Although both Western armies and their foes have killed far more civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, Israel’s interest should be to minimise the killing. The Palestinians it is bombing today will be its neighbours for ever.

This last point speaks to the test of effectiveness. Israel said at first that, much as it would like to topple Hamas, its present operation has the more limited aim of “changing reality” so that Hamas stops firing across the border. But as Israel learnt in Lebanon in 2006, this is far from easy. As with Hizbullah, Hamas’s “resistance” to Israel has made it popular and delivered it to power. It is most unlikely to bend the knee. Like Hizbullah, it will probably prefer to keep on firing no matter how hard it is hit, daring Israel to send its ground forces into a messy street fight in Gaza’s congested cities and refugee camps.

Now cease fire
Can Israel have forgotten the lesson of Lebanon so soon? Hardly. If anything, its campaign against Hamas now is intended to compensate for its relative failure against Hizbullah then. With Iran’s nuclear threat on the horizon, and Iranian influence growing in both Lebanon and Gaza, Israel is keen to remind its enemies that the Jewish state can still fight and still win. Precisely for that reason, despite its talk of a long campaign, it may be more receptive than it is letting on to an immediate ceasefire. Its aircraft have already pummelled almost every target in Gaza. Further military gains will be harder. A truce now, if Hamas really did stop its fire, could be presented to voters as the successful rehabilitation of Israeli deterrence.

But a ceasefire needs a mediator. Mr Obama is not yet president, and George Bush has so far hung back, just as he did in 2006 while waiting for an Israeli knockout blow that did not come. This time, he and everyone else with influence should pile in at once. To bring Hamas on board, a ceasefire would need to include an end to Israel’s blockade, but that would be a good thing in itself, relieving the suffering in Gaza and removing one of the reasons Hamas gives for fighting.

After that, Mr Obama will have to gather up what is left of diplomacy in the Middle East. It is not all hopeless. Until this week, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, was talking to Israel about how to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. But Mr Abbas presides over the West Bank only, and little progress is possible so long as half of Palestine’s people support an organisation that can still not bring itself to renounce armed struggle or recognise Israel’s right to exist. Since Hamas is not going to disappear, some way must be found to change its mind. Bombs alone will never do that.

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Posts: 2004

« Reply #388 on: January 02, 2009, 10:39:01 AM »

Actually, "The Economist" is an outstanding magazine; a "must read" for most international businessmen.  I am not saying it is always right (it usually is however), but it is very well written in a tight,
precise, refreshing style offering an analysis of a variety of subjects in depth.  It truly is a pleasure to read.

Also, I think you will find it is respected and read in nearly every significant quarter, on the left and the right; it gives an excellent pragmatic overview of the world,
perhaps "biased towards free trade and free markets", but is that so bad?

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« Reply #389 on: January 02, 2009, 10:50:48 AM »

Actually, "The Economist" is an outstanding magazine; a "must read" for most international businessmen. 

Finally something we can agree on.  grin

I don't know their political bias because I don't usually read the magazine but their predictions about oil prices after the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s proved to be spot on.

Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #390 on: January 02, 2009, 10:55:50 AM »

Back in the 70s I subscribed to the Economist and still occasionally buy it when flying.  Its still a good magazine, but IMHO has drifted considerably towards fashionably wooly-headed thinking.  This piece IMHO displays that tendency.

JERUSALEM -- As Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip entered its seventh day Friday, fighter jets targeted homes of Hamas political leaders across the territory and some of the mosques they have been known to pray in, while Palestinians and Israelis on both sides of the border feared that they would join the growing list of casualties suffered in the conflict.

With Hamas vowing "a day of rage" in retaliation for the bombardment that has killed more than 400 Palestinians and wounded approximately 2,000 others, Israel sealed the West Bank, prohibiting the movement of the more than 3 million Palestinians living there to prevent what the army feared would be massive protests at the bloodshed. Four Israelis have been killed by Hamas rockets, and dozens more injured in the week of fighting.

Palestinians survey destroyed houses following an Israeli air strike in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused the militant Hamas organization of holding the people of Gaza hostage Friday and said the U.S. continues to seek a "durable and sustainable" cease-fire.

Speaking to reporters in the White House driveway after a meeting with President George W. Bush, Ms. Rice also said that the U.S. remains "very concerned about the situation there and is working very hard with our partners around the world."

But she reiterated the Bush administration argument that any cease-fire must hinge on the willingness of Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel. "We are working toward a cease-fire that would not allow a re-establishment of the status quo…where Hamas could launch rockets," she said.

Elsewhere across the Middle East, anger that has been building against the Israeli onslaught was expected to be channeled in fiery Friday sermons, leading to demonstrations and heightened tensions across the region.

In airstrike after airstrike early Friday, Israeli warplanes hit some 20 houses believed to belong to Hamas militants and members of other armed groups, Palestinians said.

In what appeared to be a new Israeli tactic, the military called at least some of the houses ahead of time to warn inhabitants of an impending attack. In some cases, it also fired a sound bomb to warn away civilians before flattening the homes with powerful missiles, Palestinians and Israeli defense officials said.

Israel launched the aerial campaign last Saturday in a bid to halt weeks of intensifying Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza. The offensive has dealt a heavy blow to Hamas, but failed to halt the rocket fire. New attacks Friday struck apartment buildings in a southern Israeli city. No serious injuries were reported.

After destroying Hamas's security compounds, Israel has turned its attention to the group's leadership.

They said the Israelis either warned nearby residents by phone or fired a warning missile to reduce civilian casualties. Israeli planes also dropped leaflets east of Gaza giving a confidential phone number and e-mail address for people to report locations of rocket squads. Residents stepped over the leaflets.

Israel used similar tactics during its 2006 war in Lebanon.

Most of the targeted homes Friday belonged to activist leaders and appeared to be empty at the time, but one man was killed in a strike that flattened a building in the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza.

Three Israeli civilians and one soldier have also died in the rocket attacks, which have reached deeper into Israel than ever before, bringing one-eighth of Israel's population of seven million within rocket range.

One of the mosques destroyed Friday was known as a Hamas stronghold, and the army said it was used to store weapons. It also was identified with Nizar Rayan, the Hamas militant leader killed Thursday when Israel dropped a one-ton bomb on his home.

The hit on Mr. Rayan's home obliterated the four-story apartment building and peeled off the walls of others around it, carving out a vast field of rubble.

Mr. Rayan, 49, ranked among Hamas' top five decision-makers. A professor of Islamic law, he was known for his close ties to the group's military wing and was respected in Gaza for donning combat fatigues and personally participating in clashes against Israeli forces. He sent one of his sons on an October 2001 suicide mission that killed two Israeli settlers in Gaza.

Israel's military says the homes of Hamas leaders are being used to store missiles and other weapons, and it said the hit on Mr. Rayan's house triggered secondary explosions from the stockpile there.

Israeli defense officials said the military had called Mr. Rayan's home and fired a warning missile before destroying the building. That was impossible to confirm. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss military tactics.

Israel has targeted Hamas leaders many times in the past, but halted the practice during a six-month truce that expired last month.

Most of Hamas's leaders went into hiding at the start of Israel's offensive. Mr. Rayan, however, was known for openly defying Israel and in the past had led crowds to the homes of wanted Hamas figures -- as if daring Israel to strike and risk the lives of civilians.

The offensive hasn't halted rocket fire at Israel, and a barrage landed in the city of Ashkelon early Friday. Two rockets hit apartment buildings, lightly wounding one man, police said. Sirens warning Israelis to take cover when military radar picks up an incoming rocket have helped reduce casualties in recent days. The military said aircraft destroyed the three rocket launchers used to fire at Ashkelon.

Israel has been building up artillery, armor and infantry on Gaza's border in an indication the punishing air assault could continue with a ground incursion. At the same time, international pressure is building for a cease-fire that would block more fighting.

Israel appears to be maintaining an opening for the intense diplomatic efforts by leaders in the Middle East and, saying it would consider a halt to the fighting if international monitors were brought in to track compliance with any truce with Hamas.

But political jockeying in Israel appears to be complicating efforts to end the conflict. Rival camps in the ruling government -- both contesting a February general election to lead the country -- have signaled their backing for different negotiating tracks over a possible cease-fire.

The staff of Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a former prime minister and longshot contender to lead the country, earlier in the week raised the possibility of a French-brokered, 48-hour lull in fighting with Hamas. That proposal was shot down Wednesday by Mr. Olmert and his second-in-command, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is also running to lead the next government.

On Thursday, Ms. Livni was in Paris for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy as part of a push for international support for what she characterizes as Israel's fight against terror. Ms. Livni said Thursday that a temporary halt to hostilities in Gaza to allow in humanitarian supplies would be harmful to Israel.

"There is no humanitarian crisis in the Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce," Ms. Livni said, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Concerned about protests, Israeli police said they would step up security and restrict access to Friday prayers at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque. Devout Muslims attend large, communal prayers on Fridays.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said thousands of police would be deployed throughout the city, and that only Palestinian men over the age of 50, along with women of all ages, would be permitted to enter. He also said that police were in contact with Muslim leaders to ensure things remain quiet.

The army also imposed a closure on the West Bank, barring nearly all of the area's more than two million Palestinians from entering Israel.

—Jay Solomon, Joshua Mitnick and the Associated Press contributed to this article.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2009, 10:58:39 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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Posts: 7835

« Reply #391 on: January 02, 2009, 12:08:48 PM »

*In my part of the world it would not seem strange at all. While we don't usually have hyphenated citizens (Afro-Venezuelan), we don't have a problem recognizing people's ancestry and origin. Until Chavez none of it was cause for comment or discrimination. My business partner was a black man and everyone refers to him as "The Black Gamboa" to which he proudly announces that he is the descendant of African kings and Amerind princesses. My dad used to call him "My black son." This is true integration, where you are no longer afraid of the differences. Instead, you celebrate them. As the French like to say: "Vive la difference."*

Interesting note.  Why do you think assimilation smoother there among different groups?

America has always been a country of immigrants.  Yet those that are hear don't ever like the newer ones.
OF course remnants of slavery plays a role.  But why are Muslims better accepted in Venezuela as you have witnessed?

Just wondering.
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« Reply #392 on: January 02, 2009, 12:24:05 PM »

A good question.  Please answer it at
Power User
Posts: 808

« Reply #393 on: January 02, 2009, 01:24:57 PM »

But why are Muslims better accepted in Venezuela as you have witnessed?

As per Crafty Dog's request, I'll answer your question at the other board. Here I just want to comment that while we have a lot of Arabs, they are by no means all Muslims. A large number are Lebanese Christians and that might have something to do with it. When I go to an Arab owned store I have no way of knowing what religion they profess, if any.

Denny Schlesinger
« Reply #394 on: January 02, 2009, 06:56:26 PM »

Israeli Defense Force web site that tracks current military operations:
Posts: 18

« Reply #395 on: January 03, 2009, 02:11:24 AM »


Hamas warns of 'black destiny'

January 3, 2009 - 2:18PM

Israeli warplanes have continued to pound Gaza as the assault on Hamas entered its second week, with the Islamist group's leader warning of a "black destiny'' if ground troops are sent in.

Hamas's Syrian-based chief Khaled Meshaal told Israel that "if you commit the stupidity of launching a ground offensive then a black destiny awaits you.

"You will soon find out that Gaza is the wrath of God,'' Meshaal said in pre-taped remarks as the death toll rose from bombing and concerns grew about the humanitarian situation in the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory.

The United States gave Israel free rein on whether to invade the overcrowded enclave, insisting that the key to a ceasefire is Israel's demand for Hamas to permanently halt rocket fire.

"So I think any steps they are taking, whether it's from the air or on the ground or anything of that nature, are part and parcel of the same operation,'' said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

"Those will be decisions made by the Israelis.''

President George Bush, meanwhile, urged all able parties to press Hamas to stop firing on Israel to facilitate a lasting ceasefire.

"The United States is leading diplomatic efforts to achieve a meaningful ceasefire that is fully respected,'' Bush said in his weekly Saturday radio address, the text of which was released late on Friday.

"I urge all parties to pressure Hamas to turn away from terror, and to support legitimate Palestinian leaders working for peace.''

Bush said Hamas was responsible for the latest violence and rejected a unilateral ceasefire that would allow Hamas to continue to fire on Israel.

"This recent outburst of violence was instigated by Hamas - a Palestinian terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria that calls for Israel's destruction,'' Bush said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with senior ministers as tanks and troops stood at the ready on the Gaza border.

A missile fired by an Israeli jet slammed into a house in southern Gaza, killing three boys, aged from seven to 10. It was one of more than 58 fresh raids carried out on Friday.

A 12-year-old girl died of her wounds after the bombing of a house near Gaza City belonging to a member of Islamic Jihad, and two gunmen from the armed wing of Hamas were killed in Jabaliya after firing rockets, medics said.

On Saturday, an army spokesman said air attacks on "Hamas infrastructure'' were continuing into the predawn hours.

At the same time, the armed wing of Hamas said it had repelled a patrol of Israeli special forces attempting to cross the border into Gaza.

A spokesman said the army was "not familiar with the incident,'' adding that no soldiers had crossed into Gaza since the beginning of the air campaign on December 27.

Since then, at least 435 people have been killed, including 66 children, and 2150 wounded, according to Gaza medics.

The bombardment has demolished dozens of houses and heightened concern over the humanitarian situation in Gaza, where most of the  1.5 million residents depend on foreign aid.

"The protection of civilians, the fabric of life, the future of the peace talks and of the regional peace process has been trapped between the irresponsibility of the Hamas attacks and the excessiveness of the Israeli response,'' Robert Serry, the UN envoy for the Middle East, told reporters in Jerusalem.

Max Gaylard, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, said ``there is a critical emergency in the Gaza Strip right now ... By any definition this is a humanitarian crisis and more.''

Thousands of Hamas faithful attended the funeral of Nizar Rayan - a firebrand hardliner who was killed with his four wives and 11 children on Thursday.

Hamas vowed to avenge the death of the most senior Hamas leader killed by Israel since Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi in 2004 and warned that it could resume suicide attacks against Israel for the first time since January 2005.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Gaza and the occupied West Bank after Hamas called for a "day of wrath.'' Police fired tear gas at rock-throwing youths in annexed east Jerusalem.

With a ground offensive widely expected and no ceasefire in sight, the Israeli army opened a border crossing to allow an estimated 400 people with foreign passports to leave Gaza.

Hamas fired more than 30 rockets into Israel, but no casualties were reported.

Militants have fired more than 360 rockets into Israel over seven days, killing four people and wounding dozens more.

The offensive has sparked angry protests in the Muslim world and elsewhere across the globe and defied diplomatic efforts to broker a truce.


« Last Edit: January 03, 2009, 02:27:27 AM by JAK » Logged

Train like a madman, fight like a demon
Posts: 18

« Reply #396 on: January 03, 2009, 02:26:06 AM »

Hamas, Al-Qaeda Threaten Jewish Targets Abroad
Tevet 6, 5769, 02 January 09 12:51by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz( The Palestinian Authority jihadist organization Hamas and its global twin, Al-Qaeda, have threatened Jewish interests around the world. Hamas and Fatah both called for a "day of rage" on Friday, as security analysts warn of "lone-wolf" attacks by Muslims incited by the international calls for jihad.

In reaction to the elimination of a leading Islamist in Gaza on Thursday afternoon, a top PA terrorist, Ismail Redwan, threatened "revenge" in the name of Hamas. On PA television, he declared that "all options are open to Hamas, including suicide bombings and attacks on Zionist interests everywhere." Redwan added that the PA militias "will end the occupation."

In a separate statement, the Hamas regime urged "the mujahideen (jihad fighters) and the rest of the Palestinian people to confront the Israeli occupation army and the Israeli settlers in every Palestinian city, village and refugee camp." Hamas, it should be noted, considers all Jewish cities, towns and villages anywhere in Israel to be "settlements".

The Hamas threat to strike targets abroad, like the rest of the organization's current tactics, is reminiscent of Hizbullah. That Lebanese terrorist organization also threatened to strike Israeli and Jewish assets worldwide in the wake of the assassination of Hizbullah's strategist and Iran-directed handler Imad Mughniyeh. He was killed when his car exploded in Damascus in February 2008. Hamas terrorists have been receiving support and training from Iran, for which Hizbullah acts as a proxy army in Lebanon.

Al-Qaeda Joins the Call
Earlier this week, security analysts from the Israel- and US-based Institute for Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR) warned that Hamas, Hizbullah and Al-Qaeda may collaborate or carry out "sympathetic attacks" on Israeli or Jewish targets worldwide.

On Friday, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) terrorist organization called on Muslims worldwide "to strike Israeli interests... everywhere and immediately." , Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi, head of the ISI, also called for "mujahideen... to strike the US enemy, which fully backs [Israeli] aggression against Gaza."

In addition, ITRR warned that acts of terrorism may target Egyptian assets, due to Egypt's failure to open Sinai to Gazan refugees.

"Lone-Wolf" Terrorist Threat
ITRR analysts said there is a clear likelihood that "lone-wolf" terrorists - individuals acting on their own or in ad-hoc cells - will strike Israeli or Jewish targets around the world in response to current events in the Middle East.

One such incident already took place in Odense, Denmark, on Wednesday, when at least one attacker opened fire on a group of Israelis at a mall. Two Israelis were injured lightly and police eventually apprehended a Lebanese Arab on suspicion of involvement in the shooting. %ad%

Hamas, Fatah Call for 'Day of Rage'
In a statement issued in the PA press, Hamas called for Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to take part in a "Day of Rage" on Friday. The Islamist organization called for demonstrations and "massive marches following Friday prayers."

Friday prayers generally draw the largest numbers of Muslims to the mosque for communal prayers. PA imams (Muslim clerics) often take advantage of the presence of large crowds and the television broadcast of sermons in certain mosques to incite hatred and violence directed against Israel and the West.

Spokesmen for the Fatah-controlled half of the Palestinian Authority echoed the Hamas call for a "Day of Rage".© Copyright


Train like a madman, fight like a demon
« Reply #397 on: January 03, 2009, 07:57:49 AM »
Editor's Notes: Defeating the enemy
Jan. 1, 2009

A simple question: Can Israel defeat its enemies? One need not go back decades, to the clinical successes of the Six Day War and Entebbe, to answer emphatically in the affirmative.

Operation Defensive Shield, carried out in the spring of 2002, was a carefully planned and effectively executed attack on the Palestinians' suicide-bomb infrastructure in the West Bank that remade our reality in the years ever since - precisely the kind of goal enunciated for this week's Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in Gaza.

Defensive Shield was launched after the heaviest losses to terrorism in a single month in Israeli history - some 130 fatalities in more than a dozen attacks, including the Seder night bombing of the Park Hotel in Netanya. Its stated aim, as set out by then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, was to capture the terrorists and their dispatchers, and destroy their weapons, their explosives and their arms factories - their capacity to kill us.

The operation was bitter and bloody. It was internationally controversial: Duplicitous Palestinian claims that Israel was massacring civilians were given widespread credence. There was heavy loss of life and massive destruction on the Palestinian side. Twenty-nine Israeli soldiers were killed - most of them in the suicide-bomber "capital," Jenin refugee camp, where the terror gangs had booby-trapped buildings for the incoming IDF troops.

But it was decisive, marking the beginning of the drastic decline in suicide-bombings that enabled ordinary life to flourish here anew. The physical destruction of the bombers' infrastructure; the knowledge that the IDF might return at any time; the deaths of key terror chiefs; the effective intelligence gathering that greatly reduced potential bombers' motivation; the construction of the West Bank security barrier - all of these factors combined if not to terminate, then to profoundly set back what had been an unprecedented strategic suicide-bomb onslaught against the men, women and children of Israel.

The deterrent effect of what had been a reluctant resort to such force, however, was gravely undermined by the subsequent abject handling of the Second Lebanon War - fought, like the current operation, across a border to which Israel had unilaterally withdrawn in the false hope of being rewarded with quiet.

The Winograd Committee's scathing dissection of that conflict portrayed an IDF unprepared to battle Hizbullah, and a political leadership - headed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Amir Peretz - too arrogant and inexperienced to realize this.

The consequence was a bumbling and hesitant confrontation, in which Hizbullah's tenacity was underestimated, as was the capacity for its thousands of Katyusha rockets to wreak havoc throughout the north of Israel. The initial air assault failed to achieve the decimation of Hizbullah that the Israeli leadership had unfoundedly predicted. And the ground forces were short of training and supplies, and poorly marshalled. (IDF soldiers fought highly effectively against Hizbullah's forces; the problem was not with their courage and skill, but with the incoherence of the command hierarchy.)

The stop-start battle with Hizbullah was code-named, with unintended accuracy, Operation Change of Direction. It became the Second Lebanon War only after it went unwon.

In the two and a half years since then, however, the IDF has benefited from the command of a no-nonsense ex-infantry man, Gabi Ashkenazi, who has quietly retrained and re-entrenched basic logistics and skills.

The unqualified Peretz has long since gone from the Defense Ministry, to be replaced by the rather politically unloved, but undeniably experienced Ehud Barak - a former chief of the General Staff and former head of the IDF's elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit.

Olmert remains in power - albeit only for a few more weeks - having insisted that he was uniquely placed to learn the lessons of 2006's failures, and thus to prevent a recurrence.

And yet, this week, six days into Operation Cast Lead, the question must be asked anew: Can Israel defeat its enemies?

ISRAEL EMBARKED on its confrontation with Hamas with a clear goal: To restore security to the South.

Some senior Israelis exaggerated the scope. The ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, for instance, said the aim of this conflict was to destroy Hamas. She was privately rapped for speaking out of line. Barak said in the Knesset on Monday that Israel was engaged in "a war to the bitter end" against Hamas, but those who used this assertion to claim that Operation Cast Lead was itself this "war to the bitter end" were removing the comment from the context in which he employed it in his speech. It was uttered as Barak sought to illustrate the fundamental clash between our sovereign state and an Islamist movement that avowedly seeks our elimination, not as part of the operation's goals.

Publicly and privately, however, Israeli officials from Olmert on down did elaborate on what would constitute "restored security." By this, they said, Israel meant the creation of a new reality in which Hamas would not fire rockets into Israel; would not seek to fire rockets into Israel; would not manufacture rockets; would not produce or smuggle in the materials for manufacturing rockets; and would not engage or prepare for other acts of terrorism. If Hamas's ability to rule Gaza was destroyed in the process, so be it.

This, they said, would enable southern Israel to breathe easily again, enjoying long-term confidence that murderous metal shrapnel was not about to burst upon it from the Kassam crews of the Gaza Strip.

Quite apart from the presence at the helm of a chastened prime minister, a more experienced defense minister and a quietly effective chief of General Staff, many other central factors combined to give the operation a realistic chance of success.

The IDF had spent months preparing for the conflict, gathering intelligence on Hamas targets, training for specific missions.

Gaza was relatively familiar territory for the IDF, which had been deployed there until the disengagement of 2005.

Quiet diplomatic efforts had been under way to explain the nature of the challenge Israel was facing - the untenability of having a widening swathe of a tiny country held hostage to Hamas's improving rocketeers.

Public diplomacy had been geared up, too, with a unified hierarchy organized by Yarden Vatikai in the Prime Minister's Office, and practiced diplomats trained for action on the foreign language media battlefields.

Southern Israel had proven demonstrably resilient, having endured eight years of Kassam attacks, and was thus relieved, though understandably anxious, as the IDF set about seeking a long-term respite. The coordination of the Home Front Command was far more efficient than in 2006, with local authorities well briefed for the challenges.

The enemy, though viciously motivated and supremely indifferent to loss of life - it ruthlessly killed its own people when wresting power in Gaza in June 2007 - was far less equipped for the fight than that other Iranian proxy army to the north, Hizbullah. Its rocket capacity was limited, and its ability to melt away much constrained, especially given Egypt's refusal to let its border with Gaza serve as Hamas's supply import route and terrorist escape route.

In fact, Egypt's unprecedented criticism of Hamas, for bringing disaster to bear on Gaza by maintaining rocket attacks on Israel and cancelling the misnamed "truce," was another major asset for Israel, in turn helping to mollify some of the inevitable international criticism of the resort to force.

NEVERTHELESS, AS early as Tuesday evening, sources in the defense establishment were indicating that Barak was ready to agree to a 48-hour "humanitarian" time-out in the operation - as requested by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner - which might turn into a permanent cease-fire if Hamas halted the rocket attacks.

Adherents of the notion claimed the air force had exhausted its "bank" of Hamas targets in Gaza and that there was little more that could be done from the air for now, while bad weather meant a ground assault was not practicable for the next couple of days anyway. They said Israel would gain greater international support for displaying a willingness to sanction a suspension of the operation, and that if Hamas nevertheless continued to fire rockets, Israel could renew the assault with greater legitimacy. And they noted that Israel had spurned the chance of a cease-fire early in the Second Lebanon War, and come to rue the missed opportunity.

None of these arguments withstands serious scrutiny. The "bank" of targets continually refreshes so long as Hamas attempts to govern Gaza. Bad weather might necessitate delayed actions, but not a formal commitment to inaction. Yes, Israel might score points if Hamas continued firing through a time-out, but what if it didn't? The operation would be over without its goal attained. And while the unready IDF might indeed have benefited from an early cease-fire in 2006, to take the time to properly prepare for the confrontation with Hizbullah, this time Ashkenazi had made clear that it was ready to execute its battle plan.

After discussion by Barak, Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni that night, the time-out was rejected. On Wednesday, officials attempted to suggest it had never been seriously contemplated. But Ashkenazi, for one, plainly believed that it was a plausible possibility; he went so far as to approve the release of a statement on Tuesday afternoon dissociating the IDF from any role in hatching or advancing the idea.

On Wednesday, Olmert declared that "we didn't initiate the Gaza operation in order to end it while Israeli towns are still under fire." So why was Barak weighing the time-out, and thus seemingly signalling a desired Israeli countdown toward a cease-fire?

Hamas has been firing rockets more deeply than ever into Israel - as far as Beersheba since Tuesday, bringing an estimated 800,000 Israelis into range. Though it has sustained considerable losses, it is anything but broken, as the head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), Yuval Diskin, told the cabinet on Wednesday. Almost all of its leadership has gone safely to ground. Its armed forces are essentially intact. It may be temporarily unable to effectively govern Gaza at present, but it retains its capacity to regain its hold if the operation ceases.

Barak's readiness to contemplate the time-out at so early a juncture suggested that the defense minister was himself uncertain that Israel could indeed effectively quash the Hamas threat. By extension, it conveyed a similar sense of uncertainty to the IDF and to those international players who have explicitly or tacitly backed Israel in this endeavor. And what a boost it must have been to Hamas and its Islamist supporters.

THIS IS not to say that the stewards of this operation should be sending great convoys of tanks plunging through the mud into Gaza - to be gleefully confronted by a Hamas force that has been preparing - booby-trapping roads and buildings, setting ambushes - for precisely such an eventuality.

The IAF assaults have smashed the symbols of Hamas power, bombed many of the tunnels that are its lifeline, blown up many of its rocket silos, hit some of its weapons stores and laboratories, and killed several of its key commanders.

If much of what can be achieved from the air was indeed achieved early in this operation, other targets will nevertheless appear as Hamas leaders seek to emerge from the bunkers - as was the case on Thursday afternoon when Nizar Rayyan was killed. And if they do not show their faces, Hamas will gradually lose more credibility, and ultimately lose the capacity to govern.

Meanwhile, astute use of forces on the ground where and when necessitated - whether to tackle concentrations of terrorist power as in Operation Defensive Shield, or to target weapons stores and rocket silos callously placed by Hamas in dense residential areas unreachable from the air - would gradually reduce Hamas's capacity to threaten Israel.

As the original goal made plain, this confrontation must be concluded with Israel in a position of strength, able to dictate conditions that will prevent a resurgence of the Hamas threat in the long-term. Israel must retain ongoing freedom for military action, enabling the IDF to prevent the homefront - the schools, the kindergartens - from again becoming the front line.

A cease-fire, by contrast, that leaves Hamas able - as it was during the months of the last lull - to move around freely and organize for battle, to import arms and to improve its weaponry, would mean Operation Cast Lead had achieved nothing.

It would suggest a further deterioration since 2006, when Israel's leadership was plainly inexperienced and underqualified. Here and now, Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran and Syria would proclaim, Israel - having once more chosen to seek a decisive outcome after its people came under unprovoked attack, facing a force less formidable than Hizbullah, and led by a veteran defense minister and a highly regarded IDF chief - was again ultimately deterred.

AFTER THE shock of the initial air strikes, Operation Cast Lead was predicated on the basis of weeks, not days - a strategic, systematic effort to change the reality in the South.

It worked for Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank. If Israeli civilians are to live free from the terror threat, it needs to work in Gaza.
« Reply #398 on: January 03, 2009, 08:07:11 AM »

One of the reasons that Israeli causalities  are Thank G-d so low is all Israelis homes/apartment  buildings etc.  have bomb shelters and Israelis in some towns in the South are  pretty much living in them..     My families in Israel shelter was their kids play room.   They also have a room that can be sealed  in case of  a biological attack.. Just because  Hamas   terrorists are ineffective mass murders does not mean they should be given a pass for wanting to be mass murders

School closure saves lives of pupils
Dec. 31, 2008

Beersheba experienced its second day on the front lines Wednesday as Hamas stepped up Grad-type rocket attacks, striking an open area and a high school - the second educational institution in the city to be hit since rockets began falling there Tuesday night.

A day earlier, a kindergarten was hit.

Fortunately, both schools were closed due to the security situation, and no one was hurt.

It had been unclear late Tuesday if children were to return to their classrooms on Wednesday in the south's largest city. But a final decision came at 4 a.m.,when Mayor Rubik Danilovitz met with officials from the Home Front Command and other security services.

They decided to keep the schools closed as the situation in Gaza was likely to continue for days.

If proved to be a prescient decision: hours later, the first Grad of the morning slammed into the Comprehensive Alef high school near the city center.

The rocket pierced through the ceiling of a classroom around 9:30 a.m. - where ninth graders would have been sitting had school been open.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to imagine what would have happened here if school had not been canceled today," National Parents Organization head Yitzhak Maimon said as he toured the classroom. "The mayor and the Home Front Command made the right decision, and it's going to stay this way for the foreseeable future."

There were no injuries in the city, but a number of people were treated for shock. The damage could be seen from outside the building, as concrete on the second floor crumpled from the hit, and rocks and other debris were scattered on the ground.

Inside, rubble covered the hallway, and a pupil's painting - two sharks swimming carefree in the ocean - lay on the floor, covered by concrete and dust. The classroom itself had a hole through the roof, and a desk, directly beneath the rocket's entry point, had been hit dead-on.

The explosion created another hole in the wall, and ceiling tiles were thrown in every direction. Ball bearings and bolts, which terrorists often pack into the rockets to increase their deadliness, had sprayed throughout the classroom, leaving holes in the walls.

Parents and security personnel gawked at the damage, saying quiet thank you's that no one had been in the room at the time of the strike.

Across town at the kindergarten hit on Tuesday evening - the first strike in the city - the damage was just as haunting. While that rocket struck long after the children had gone home, it landed in the playground, spraying the same type of ball bearings as far as a block away.

The marks and holes from the shrapnel could be seen from the playground back into the building, as workers struggled to piece back together the ceiling tiles, some of which had been blasted 20 meters away from the building.

At a nearby home, Raisa Zaberoff, a 70-year-old immigrant from the former Soviet Union, struggled to put the blinds back up in her bedroom. Her backyard, which faces the kindergarten, was also sprayed with shrapnel, leaving scars on the fence posts and windowsills of her home, and shattering the windows.

"Look here," she said in broken Hebrew, pointing at the ceiling in her kitchen. "Somehow the shrapnel got all the way into here."

She gestured toward holes in her ceiling.

"But my neighbors across the street said even their windows were broken," Zaberoff continued. "I just keep thanking God that I was at my daughter's house when it happened, and that the kids had already gone home from school."

Zaberoff said she heard a few of the sirens that sounded on Wednesday - five were reported in all. She knew that parts of the city had no siren system, and in others that did, it simply wasn't working.

Other residents complained of similar problems.

"I didn't hear the siren, but I sure heard that boom," said a young woman who had ventured out to walk her dog. "What's going on? Why can't they fix the siren?"

By early afternoon, the Home Front Command had begun tackling the problem, telling reporters in front of City Hall that all of the sirens had been fixed.

"There was a brief hiccup with the siren system this morning, but we've fixed it and residents will be able to hear their sirens if they go off," Deputy OC Home Front Command Brig. Gen. Avraham Ben-David told The Jerusalem Post.

"However, some parts of the city are not equipped with sirens at all, but they will be within the next 48 hours," he said.

"However, for residents in those areas, and they know who they are, I cannot stress how important it is that they keep a radio on and keep an eye on their TV, because, for example, Radio Darom is working with the Home Front Command to broadcast the siren every time it sounds," he said.

Still, the possible lack of a working siren scared many people into staying home for the day.

"I'm staying in until this blows over," Miri Shalom said as she stood in front of her apartment building in the Alef neighborhood. "Siren or no siren, I'll only go out for a few minutes here and there."

Pausing to catch her breath, Shalom expressed a sentiment felt by many residents.

"I can't believe rockets are hitting Beersheba," she said. "No one believed that they could, but here they are, they're really coming down."
« Reply #399 on: January 03, 2009, 08:12:15 AM »

15 Seconds

15 Seconds ( This is different from the above video and older so some of the statistics are unfortunately out of date)

Lets Play Pretend.
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