Posts Tagged ‘FM Tzipi Livni’

Widespread anger in Egypt at Mubarak regime

January 25, 2009
Johannes Stern reports from Cairo | WSWS, 24 January 2009

Muhammad lights up a cigarette and quietly utters an oath directed at Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. The 25-year-old expresses what many Egyptians think at present: “Mubarak is a swine who has worked together with Israel to turn Gaza into a prison and is responsible for the suffering of the Palestinians.”

The student from downtown Cairo continues to speak harshly about the government. Today, three days after Israeli troops began to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, he remains angry and criticizes the role played by Egypt in the Gaza conflict. “Probably Mubarak gave [Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi] Livni permission to attack Hamas, which he regards as a thorn in his side.”

In fact, Livni met Mubarak two days prior to the Israeli attack and, according to a report in the Israeli daily Haa’retz, Egyptian government officials were informed in advance of the planned offensive.

Many other Cairo residents share Muhammad’s anger and revulsion. They are shocked by the crimes committed by Israel during its three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip and furious with the Egyptian government, which—in the midst of the Hamas-Fatah fighting in June 2007—blocked its own border with the enclave and effectively turned the densely-populated region into a prison camp.

The fact that Mubarak refused to open the Rafah border crossing during the latest continuous bombardment by Israel, thereby leaving Palestinians to their fate, has left many Egyptians feeling just as much hatred for their own government as for American and Israeli militarism.

When asked about the role of other Arab governments, Muhammad declares: “The most treacherous, of course, are the regimes that cooperate more or less openly with the US, i.e., Jordan and Saudi Arabia, alongside Egypt. The fact that Venezuela expelled the Israeli ambassador in protest, but not Egypt, is a disgrace.”

The largest demonstration in Egypt took place on 9 January in Alexandria, with over 50,000 protestors taking part. Police anti-riot units, who originally intended to suppress and disperse the demonstration, were forced by the sheer number of those participating to withdraw and allow the rally to proceed.

Women protesting with Palestinian flags in front of the Israeli embassy in CairoWomen protesting with Palestinian flags in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo

Another large demonstration, with more than 15,000 participants, occurred one week later in Mahalla Al-Kubra. Last April that city experienced some of the most extensive riots in Egypt in 30 years against rising food prices and declining wages. This time demonstrators protested the war crimes in the Gaza Strip, but they also directed slogans against the complicity of Arab governments and particularly the Egyptian regime.

Since the start of the Israeli withdrawal the streets of Cairo have been dominated by large numbers of police and units of heavily armed anti-riot squad units, ready to suppress violently any form of spontaneous protest.

Last Saturday thousands of demonstrators responded to an appeal by the country’s largest, but officially banned opposition party, the Muslim Brotherhood, to participate in an anti-war demonstration in the city’s Ramses Square.

Anti-riot policeman in CairoAnti-riot policeman in Cairo

In the event, the demonstration was blocked by a large force of police. In order to prevent the demonstration the police and city administration went so far as to close down the nearest subway station to Ramses Square (ironically, the station is named after Mubarak) and subway trains bypassed it. Following clashes with demonstrators, the police made many arrests, including a journalist from the independent daily paper, al-Masry al-Youm.

The protests against the war in Gaza revealed the huge gulf between the Arab masses and the despotic and corrupt governments in the region. In Egypt these tensions are so pronounced that every major protest causes the Mubarak regime to fear for its existence. It responds in turn with ever increasing brutality to suppress popular opposition.

Resistance is growing particularly among workers and students, who have organized a series of protest actions beyond the control of the established parties or trade unions.

On 10 January the Egyptian Popular Committee for Solidarity with the Palestinian People organized a solidarity convoy involving hundreds of activists, which headed towards Gaza and demanded the opening of the Rafah border crossing. After passing three checkpoints the convoy was stopped shortly before el-Arish, in the middle of the desert, by heavily armed security forces and forced to turn around.

Another aid convoy was organized by strike leaders in Mahalla Al-Kubra. On 11 January approximately 1,000 textile workers employed at Masr Spinning and Weaving organized a sit-in-strike in front of the local office of the state-run trade union. The workers protested against the arbitrary punishment of co-workers who had taken part in a protest against the privatization of the factory on 30 October last year. The sit-in continues and is directed primarily against the union, which the workers accuse of cooperating with management.

Despite the radicalization of workers and students during the weeks of protests, it is clear that most large demonstrations were organized and dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamic fundamentalists are only able to retain the leadership of such protests in a period of rapidly growing poverty because of the absence of a progressive political alternative. The Brotherhood, a bourgeois party with backing from some wealthy businessmen, offers no solution to the unbearable economic conditions in Egypt or to the suppression of the Palestinians.

For its part, the “left” Tagammu—a party consisting of diverse Nasserists, Stalinists and self-proclaimed “progressive” nationalists, founded by Anwar Sadat in 1976 as a union of leftist currents in the old Nasserist Unity Party ASU (Arab Socialist Union)—has shifted far to the right and is unable to offer any sort of alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood and provide the protests with a progressive perspective.

Such a perspective is necessary, however, to resolve the suffering of the Palestinians and the suppression of the Arab masses. The aim must be the building of a political movement that consciously seeks to unite the Palestinian, Jewish and Arab working class in the fight for a socialist federation in the Middle East. This would eliminate the artificial borders with which the imperialist powers divide and control the region. This is the only way to halt the Israeli war machine and provide a lasting solution for the social, economic and political needs of all those in the region.

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Pat Buchanan: Is Ehud Olmert’s Poodle Acting Up?

January 18, 2009

by Patrick J. Buchanan | Antiwar.com, January 17, 2009

As Israel entered the third week of its Gaza blitz, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert regaled a crowd in Ashkelon with an astonishing tale.

He had, said Olmert, whistled up George Bush, interrupted him in the middle of a speech and told him to instruct Condi Rice not to vote for a U.N. resolution Condi herself had written. Bush did as told, said Olmert.

The crowd loved it. Here is the background.

After intense negotiations with Britain and France, Secretary of State Rice had persuaded the Security Council to agree on a resolution calling for a cease-fire. But Olmert wanted more time to kill Hamas.

So, here, in Olmert’s words, is what happened next.

“In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the secretary of state wanted to lead the vote on a cease-fire at the Security Council, we did not want her to vote in favor.

“I said, ‘Get me President Bush on the phone.’ They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care. ‘I need to talk to him now.’ He got off the podium and spoke to me.”

According to Olmert, Bush was clueless.

“He said: ‘Listen. I don’t know about it. I didn’t see it. I’m not familiar with the phrasing.’

“I told him the United States could not vote in favor. It cannot vote in favor of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favor.”

The UN diplomatic corps was astonished when the United States abstained on the 14-0 resolution Rice had crafted and claimed her country supported. Arab diplomats say Rice promised them she would vote for it.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, with Rice at the United Nations during the debate on the resolution, said Olmert’s remarks were “just 100 percent, totally, completely untrue.”

But the White House cut Rice off at the knees, saying only that there were “inaccuracies” in the Olmert story. The video does not show Bush interrupting his speech to take any call.

Yet, the substance rings true and is widely believed, and Olmert is happily describing the egg on Rice’s face:

“He [Bush] gave an order to the secretary of state, and she did not vote in favor of it – a resolution she cooked up, phrased, organized and maneuvered for. She was left pretty shamed. …”

With Bush and Rice leaving office in hours, and Olmert in weeks, the story may seem to lack significance.

Yet, public gloating by an Israeli prime minister that he can order a U.S. president off a podium and instruct him to reverse and humiliate his secretary of state may cause even Ehud’s poodle to rise up on its hind legs one day and bite its master.

Taking such liberties with a superpower that, for Israel’s benefit, has shoveled out $150 billion and subordinated its own interests in the Arab and Islamic world would seem a hubristic and stupid thing to do.

And there are straws in the wind that, despite congressional resolutions giving full-throated approval to all that Israel is doing in Gaza, this is becoming a troubled relationship.

Two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in opposing any truce, assured the world there “is no humanitarian crisis in the (Gaza) Strip,” and the humanitarian situation there “is completely as it should be.”

Not so to Hillary Clinton. In her confirmation hearings, the secretary of state-designate, reports the New York Times, “struck a sharper tone toward Israel on violence in the Middle East.”

Clinton “seemed to part from the tone set by the Bush administration in calling attention to what she described as the ‘tragic humanitarian costs’ borne by Palestinians, as well as Israelis.”

More dramatic was a weekend report by the Times‘ David Sanger that the White House had rebuffed Olmert’s request for new U.S. bunker-buster bombs and denied Israel permission to overfly Iraq in any strike on Iran’s nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz.

Sanger described these U.S.-Israeli talks as “tense.”

Repeatedly, Israel has warned that Iran is close to a bomb and threatened to attack unilaterally. Indeed, Israel simulated such an attack in an air exercise of 100 planes that went as far as Greece.

Bush both blocked and vetoed that attack, says Sanger. But he did assure Olmert that America is engaged in the sabotage of Iran’s nuclear program by helping provide Tehran with defective parts.

This would seem a stunning breach of security secrets, but no outrage has been heard from the White House, nor has any charge come that the Times compromised national security.

With Olmert, Rice and Bush departing, and Obama and Hillary taking charge committed to talking to Iran, can the old intimacy survive the new friction and colliding agendas?

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Israel is Immune From Criticism

January 5, 2009

A Galaxy of Partisan Propagandists

By BRIAN CLOUGHLEY | Counterpunch, January 5, 2008

The state of Israel has descended – plummeted – to one of the lowest levels of conscious barbarity that is currently evident in this horrible world.

Any nation that has behaved towards a subject people, as Israel has to Palestinians, is worthy only of utter contempt. On Sunday January 4 I heard a rabbi on the BBC’s morning religious program saying that he supported Israel’s air strikes on Gaza. A man of God actually endorsed the killing of hundreds of people. To say that I was – and am – aghast at the sentiment expressed is to put it very mildly. This religious leader, a person supposed to spread and preach tolerance, patience, charity and peace, was supporting war crimes of immense gravity. His approval of the killing of Arabs was blood-chilling.

And this rabbi was British. Here we have a British citizen supporting hatred and bigotry on a BBC religious program. But of course he isn’t really British. He is an Israeli religious propagandist of British citizenship whose main allegiance is to Israel. There are thousands like him in the UK and the US. They unconditionally promote Tel Aviv’s plans and policy and wield amazing influence over politicians and businesses. Killing Palestinians is Israeli policy, and these people spare no effort to justify it.

Here’s a resident of Gaza talking to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz about the horrors experienced by Palestinians (and congratulations to Haaretz for having the courage to print it): “I keep the children away from the windows because the F-16s are in the air; I forbid them to play below because it’s dangerous. They’re bombing us from the sea and from the east, they’re bombing us from the air. When the telephone works, people tell us about relatives or friends who were killed. My wife cries all the time. At night she hugs the children and cries. It’s cold and the windows are open; there’s fire and smoke in open areas; at home there’s no water, no electricity, no heating gas. And you [the Israelis] say there’s no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Tell me, are you normal?”

No, they’re not, is the short answer, and the ruthlessness is epitomised by the evil Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, who is using the Gaza war to establish her credentials as a reliably hard-nosed barbarian. She declares “there is no humanitarian crisis in the [Gaza] Strip and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce.”

It was reported on January 5 that Israeli troops are using white phosphorus (WP) artillery shells in Gaza, supposedly to create smoke screens to conceal their advance.

American troops used WP – fondly known as Willy Pete – in their destruction of the Iraqi city of Fallujah, and the US tried to lie its way out of the war crime, but junior officers unintentionally blew the lies apart by writing in the magazine Field Artillery that “WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions . . . and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against insurgents in trench lines and spider holes . . . We fired ‘shake and bake’ missions at the insurgents using WP to flush them out and high explosive shells (HE) to take them out.” In fact WP is an effective killer, and anyone who inhales particles will suffer a particularly hideous and painful death. As recorded by The Independent newspaper in Britain “In the aftermath of the battle [at Fallujah], the State Department’s Counter Misinformation Office issued a statement saying that WP was only “used very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes. They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night [which isn’t the propose of a smoke-shell], not at enemy fighters.” When The Independent confronted the State Department with the first-hand accounts of soldiers who participated, an official accepted the mistake and undertook to correct its website.” Big deal. Lie, lie and lie again, until you’re found out and it’s impossible to deny the facts. And the Israelis seem to be taking the example, as usual, and are stoutly denying what has been seen by independent witnesses.

Article two, Protocol III of the 1980 UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons states: “It is prohibited in all circumstances to make the civilian population as such, individual civilians or civilian objects, the object of attack by incendiary weapons.” But Israel is only following the US example. “Shake and bake” is such an attractive military option that it would be a shame to spoil their fun, especially when it has rabbinical approval.

Here is part of what is laid out in Protocol 1, Additional to the Geneva Conventions, 1977 . . . General Protection Against Effects of Hostilities: “Among others, the following types of attacks are to be considered as indiscriminate: An attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.”

Israel, supported energetically by Washington (and using US-supplied aircraft, bombs and rockets), has caused “incidental loss of life” and general civilian casualties on an enormous scale. The Israeli military and the Israeli people knew full well that their genocidal attack on Gaza would kill civilians. The use of white phosphorous in built-up areas is worthy of the Nazis at their most brutal. Stalin and Mao would nod approvingly. It wasn’t considered important that there would be countless civilian deaths. Nobody cares, and least of all American politicians. The next secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, refuses to comment on the atrocities. The incoming vice-president has been silent. President-elect Obama? As Reuters reported : “Obama . . . has not commented on the Middle East crisis since Israel launched attacks on Gaza nine days ago. His advisers insist that only President George W Bush can speak for America until then.” But it was noted that “The president-elect has commented on the global economic crisis and his plans to try to pull the US economy out of recession.”

Of course he has. And were it not for the power of Israel in America he would no doubt comment adversely on the slaughter in Gaza, because he is a decent man.

But Mr Obama dare not criticize Israel, even for its use of chemical shells. Nor can any American who wishes to enter or remain engaged in politics. The kiss of political death in the United States of America is to censure Israel. It can’t be done.

And that is why apartheid is permitted in Israel; it’s why the mass-punishment blockade was enforced months before the attack went in; and it’s why the near-genocide in Gaza is allowed to continue.

Does anyone remember the hearing on the so-called Israeli-Palestine peace process in the US House of Representatives in February 2007? Of course not. It was a farce. And why was it such a revolting and hideous charade? – Because it was a three card trick.

The main witness, of the three cards who were called, was one Martin Indyk, a former official of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee which is the richest and most powerful lobby group in the country (two of whose members are currently under a mysteriously delayed investigation for spying for Israel). From there, inevitably, he went to be US ambassador in Tel Aviv. (And, incidentally, whose book on the Middle East was the subject of a glowing review in last week’s Economist.) Another witness was David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (founded by Indyk; it’s all very chummy in pro-Israel sewers), which is funded extensively by American interests that support Zionism. (Among other connections, it is closely associated with the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University.) And was the third witness a counter-balance to two energetic supporters of Zion? Could he or she present a rather less biased view of the Middle East? Perhaps a person who would make the point that Israel has contemptuously ignored UN Security Council resolutions concerning illegal occupation of Palestinian lands?

Not a bit. The third member was a comic quasi-intellectual character called Daniel Pipes who once declared that Muslim immigrants to the US were “brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and not exactly maintaining Germanic standards of hygiene.” (Germanic? – How quaint.) Pipes founded the Middle East Forum (MEF) which encourages university students in America to report lecturers and professors who they consider to be anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian. (In Hitler’s Germany there were awards given to young people who identified and reported those they thought to be pro-Jewish; I know a very elderly German lady who did this when she was 15. She is now terribly ashamed at the memory, because she actually informed on her own father. How times change. Or don’t, of course.)

In 2006 Pipes was given the ‘Guardian of Zion’ award, an annual prize to a prominent supporter of Israel, by the Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

With a galaxy of partisan propagandists like Indyk, Makovsky and Pipes being the only people selected to give evidence on Israel-Palestine to the nation’s legislators in Washington, there was no chance whatever that the Congressional Sub-Committee would be presented with a balanced view of the Israel-Palestine problem. The deck was stacked, and the legislators listened. They had no choice, because of the power of the Israel lobby. They’ve been shaken and baked.

There is little doubt that the bias towards Israel will continue in the legislature and administration of the United States of America, no matter what Obama might really think, and no matter how many Palestinian children the Zionists have slaughtered. The Israelis are behaving like genocidal filth, but those who stay silent about their atrocities are not far behind in the gutter stakes.

Brian Cloughley‘s book about the Pakistan army, War, Coups and Terror, has just been published by Pen & Sword Books (UK) and will be published in the US in May by Skyhorse (New York).

MIDEAST: Egypt Seen as Complicit in Gaza Assault

January 2, 2009

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani  | Inter Press Service

CAIRO, Dec 31 (IPS) – As the Palestinian death toll approaches 400, much of popular anger throughout the Arab world has been directed at Egypt — seen by many as complicit in the Israeli campaign.

“Israel would not have hit Gaza like this without a green light from Egypt,” Hamdi Hassan, MP for the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition movement, told IPS. “The Egyptian government allowed this assault on Gaza in hopes of finishing off Hamas.”

On Saturday (Dec. 27), Israel began a series of devastating air strikes on targets throughout the Gaza Strip, controlled since the summer of last year by Palestinian resistance faction Hamas. According to Israeli officials, the campaign — which has included hundreds of air strikes — comes in retaliation for rockets fired by Palestinian resistance factions.

More than 200 Palestinians were reportedly killed on the first day of the operation, making it the single most lethal day for Palestinians in the history of the 60-year-old conflict. Four Israelis, meanwhile, have reportedly been killed by Palestinian rocket fire since the air campaign began.

In the meantime, Israel has continued to amass tanks along its border with the Gaza Strip amid predictions of an imminent ground assault.

“What’s happening in Gaza represents an unprecedented crime against humanity,” said Hassan. “Enormous military power — featuring the latest U.S. weaponry — is being brought to bear against a poverty-stricken and largely defenceless population.”

Ever since Hamas wrested control of the strip from the U.S.-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) last year, Egypt — like Israel — has kept its border with the enclave tightly sealed. The border closures, in tandem with the neutralisation of the strip’s airports and maritime ports by Israel, has effectively cut the territory off from the rest of the world, and brought it to the brink of humanitarian disaster.

“The international community has condoned the siege of Gaza and allowed the Palestinians to be punished for democratically electing Hamas,” said Hassan, noting that the Islamist group swept the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections.

Egypt has said it cannot reopen the Rafah crossing, the sole transit point along Egypt’s 14 km border with the Gaza Strip, in the absence of PA officials and EU observers, as stipulated in a 2005 U.S.-sponsored trilateral agreement between Israel, the PA and the EU.

Critics, however, reject this argument, and say there is no legal justification for keeping the border permanently closed to people and goods.

“Egypt isn’t even a signatory to the agreement, which expired after one year and was never renewed,” said Hassan. “Those cooperating with Israel are simply using this outdated agreement as an excuse to keep Rafah sealed.”

Despite increasingly vocal demands — by both street protestors and opposition MPs — to open the border to aid convoys in the wake of the recent Israeli assaults, the Egyptian government has dragged its feet.

“For the first two days of the campaign, the authorities forbade all aid convoys from entering Gaza,” Magdi Hussein, secretary-general of Egypt’s Islamist-leaning Labour Party (officially frozen since 2000) told IPS. “On the third and fourth days, limited aid was allowed in — but this was only due to mounting popular pressure.”

In a televised address Dec. 30, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak defended Egypt’s position by again referring to the 2005 border agreement. “Egypt doesn’t want to sanctify the division (between the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and the PA-run West Bank) by opening the Rafah crossing in the absence of the PA and European observers,” he said.

For the last five days, Egypt has witnessed thousands-strong demonstrations at university campuses, mosques and professional syndicates. Amid an increasingly tight security presence, protestors have called for the permanent reopening of the Rafah border crossing and the severing of Egypt’s diplomatic relations with Israel.

“That protests are being staged all over Egypt — and will persist as long as the aggression continues — is an indication of the level of popular outrage,” said Hassan. “If the government doesn’t change its position and allow aid to flow freely into Gaza, the situation could become very dangerous.”

Demonstrators in several Arab capitals have vented their rage outside Egyptian embassies. Protestors have reportedly attacked Egyptian consular offices in Sudan and Yemen.

“Demonstrations around Egyptian embassies abroad show that the Arab and Muslim people across the region recognise Egypt’s complicity with Israel in keeping the border closed without legal justification,” said Hassan.

Suspicions of Egyptian complicity with Israel against Hamas are not limited to the border issue. Many also suspect a degree of Egyptian-Israeli coordination in advance of the air campaign — an impression reinforced by the fact that Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was in Cairo, where she met with Mubarak and Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, less than 48 hours before the assaults began.

At a joint press conference with Aboul-Gheit in Cairo Dec. 25, Livni vowed to retaliate against Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. “This is something that has to be stopped,” she said of the relatively ineffectual rocket salvoes. “And this is what we’re going to do.”

While Aboul-Gheit used the occasion to publicly urge restraint by both sides, many independent commentators believe that, while in Cairo, Livni received a tacit go-ahead from Egyptian officials for the campaign.

“It was at the Livni-Mubarak talks that Egypt gave Israel the green light to strike Gaza,” said Hassan. Contentiously, he went on to point to statements by Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum that Hamas had received false assurances from Egypt, immediately following the Cairo talks, that an Israeli attack on the strip was not imminent.

On Sunday (Dec. 28), a presidential spokesman strongly denied Barhoum’s claims. “No Egyptian official sent any assurances to Hamas in this regard,” he was quoted as saying in the state press.

Misgivings about possible Egyptian connivance with Israel against Hamas have not been limited to opposition figures and political commentators. On the campaign’s third day, thousands of demonstrators in Cairo chanted: “Oh, Mubarak, what do you say? Why was Livni here anyway?” (END/2008)

Gazans face ‘humanitarian crisis’ as Israeli raids intensify

January 2, 2009

Aid agencies warn of looming disaster with supply shortage inflicting more suffering on families

By Kim Sengupta in Jerusalem | The Independent
Friday, 2 January 2009

A child arrives at Shifa hospital in Gaza City after an Israeli air strike yesterday

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A child arrives at Shifa hospital in Gaza City after an Israeli air strike yesterday

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After six days of Israeli bombardment, aid agencies say that Gazans are facing a humanitarian crisis with air strikes causing severe problems in getting food, medicine and fuel supplies to the besiegedcivilian population.

The assessment, by several international relief organisations, contradicts the statement by the Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, during a visit to Paris yesterday that “there is no humanitarian crisis in the Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce”. While relief shipments were allowed into Gaza by the Israeli authorities in the days before the start of the offensive, they came after weeks of virtually no supplies getting through, the agencies point out.

The biggest difficulty is that many people are too frightened by bombing to venture out to collect food rations. Gaza officials are also unwilling to take part in food distribution because they could be considered legitimate targets by the Israeli military for working for the Hamas-run administration. Chris Gunness of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which looks after 750,000 refugees in Gaza, said: “How can one carry out proper relief work in these conditions of violence? The people of Gaza have already suffered the most stringent economic sanctions. There are obviously problems with giving out aid. Even when people want to get food for their hungry family, they are very aware of the dangers they are facing in going out.”

Mr Gunness said the agency carried out food distribution yesterday. “But, as things stand now, we have only a few days supply left.”

Doctors inside Gaza report that hospitals are running out of medicine and equipment as the toll of dead and injured continues to rise and puts further pressure on stretched resources. Anaesthetics, antibiotics and drugs for cancer and other long-term illnesses are in short supply along with syringes and IV fluids.

Dr Hassan Khalaf, of the main Shifa hospital in Gaza City, said that Palestinian civilians are paying a terrible price: “We are getting really badly injured people coming in every day. What is the point of saying you are allowing food in for people when you then go on to bomb them? The Israelis may say they are just attacking Hamas but I am seeing children and women coming covered in blood. What we are seeing is a war on the people. The Hamas fighters firing the rockets are at the border, they are not in the city.

“We have organised the hospitals so that different ones are looking after different types of injuries. But the common problem we face is that we are having bad shortages in lots of things, especially anesthetics and antibiotics. We are talking to the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] and I hope we shall get some help.”

A serious shortage of industrial fuel is also exacerbating the difficulties for civilians after Israeli forces stopped supplies because the crossing points into Gaza were coming under regular rocket attacks, creating the danger of conflagrations. At the same time, the destruction of tunnels between Gaza and Egypt has blocked alternative routes for procuring transport diesel used by Palestinian households.

Christine Van Nieuwenhuyse, head of the World Food Programme for Gaza and the West Bank, acknowledged that a “significant amount” of food was allowed in by the Israelis before the start of the air strikes. “But we must not forget this came after weeks when hardly any food had got in at all. One of our warehouses is full but we have another one empty as it is in an area which has seen a lot of bombings.

“Our partners in Gaza are the Ministry of Social Welfare and their officials are not taking part in the distribution process because they feel they might get bombed for working for a Hamas government. This is a serious problem as is the fact that people are finding it difficult to move about. We are facing an acute food crisis.”

Maxwell Gaylard, the UN’s humanitarian co-ordinator for Gaza and the Palestinian territories, said “Gaza is facing a serious emergency, that is a fact. Food supplies have been allowed in but there are huge problems caused by the lack of industrial fuel and this is causing severe problems. To address all these problems we need a ceasefire.”

Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister said “We are doing our utmost to avoid unnecessary suffering for civilians. What we cannot understand is the claim by officials from the ministries there that they cannot take part in the relief effort because they will be targeted. This is nonsense, perhaps the real reason is that it is in the interest of Hamas to ensure that food does not get to the people due to their own particular agenda.”

Israel Launches Global PR Campaign Ahead of Gaza Invasion

December 22, 2008

Israeli Envoys Instructed to Shore Up International Support for Attack

Antwar.com, December 21, 2008

Tonight it is being reported that Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has instructed diplomats across the globe to launch what is being described as a “PR blitz” to shore up international support for an Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip. To that end Livni, the Kadima Party’s pick for Prime Minister in the upcoming election, will reportedly make phone calls to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and the foreign ministers of several major nations.

A six-month ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip formally ended on Thursday, though in reality the two sides had been exchanging intermittent fire (and diplomatic accusations) since an early November Israeli raid on a house in central Gaza. Both sides have traded air strikes over the weekend, causing damage but no apparent deaths.

And while Israeli diplomats will be struggling to shore up international support for a prospective invasion, reports suggest that the decision has already been made. Citing a secret meeting on Thursday between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Israel’s Ynet says the policy on Gaza is set, and actions will “depend only on the tactical conditions and the operational possibilities.” It also claims that it was at this meeting that the two agreed on the need to create an “international umbrella” of support for the attacks.

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compiled by Jason Ditz [email the author]


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