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1/3: Latest Updates from Israel Invade Gaza, Worldwide Protest Against Invasion

by Lee Siu Hin - Peace NO War Network, ActionLA Monday, Jan. 05, 2009 at 4:23 AM (213)403-0131 Los Angeles, CA USA

Latest Updates from Israel Invade Gaza: Worldwide Protest Against Israeli Invasion and Killing at Gaza

Palestine Watch - Projects of Peace NO War Network

1/3: Latest Updates from Israel Invade Gaza: Worldwide Protest Against Israeli Invasion and Killing at Gaza

National Day of Emergency Mass Action: Saturday, January 10

Mass March in Washington, D.C.
White House (north side) @ 1:00 pm

There will be a major regional demonstration on Saturday, January 10. Gather at the White House (north side, Lafayette Park) at 1:00 PM. The protest will be located between the Bush White House and the Hay Adams Hotel, where President-Elect Obama is now residing, which is located on the north side of Lafayette Park. Calling by: The ANSWER Coalition, Muslim American Society Freedom, Free Palestine Alliance, National Council of Arab Americans, and Al-Awda - International Palestine Right to Return Coalition, for more information, contact: A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389

ACTIONS AGAINST MASSACRE! Lists of Upcoming Worldwide Protests Against Israeli Attacks on Gaza! >> Read More


Video Updates:
1/4: Israel launches ground offensive in Gaza (al Jazeera)
1/3: Israeli Troops Rolling Into Gaza (Associated Press)

Latest Videos from Israel Attack Gaza at >> View

Live TV coverage on-line

Al Jazeera
Press TV - Iran

United Nations
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Gaza Humanitarian Situation Report | 3 January 2009
OCHA humanitarian update on Gaza crisis, focusing on casualties; food, health and water & sanitation situation; and priority needs. Situation reports
English | Hebrew
Gaza Humanitarian Situation Report | 2 January 2009
The humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip is significant and cannot be understated. It follows what the UN had described as an 18 month long “human dignity crisis” in the Gaza Strip, entailing a massive destruction of livelihoods and a significant deterioration of infrastructure and basic services. Situation reports
Arabic | English | Hebrew

News Headlines 

(from Center for Legimate Government, Information Clearinghouse and Alternet)

Gaza protesters gather near Obama's home --As the death toll climbs, Palestinian supporters have criticized the president-elect for remaining silent. 03 Jan 2009 (IL) Joining a growing number of demonstrations worldwide, protesters marched today in President-elect Barack Obama's South Side neighborhood to voice their opposition to Israel's strikes against Gaza. Nearly three dozen demonstrators walked in front of police barricades a few blocks from Obama's Kenwood home, waving a Palestinian flag and chanting anti-war slogans that chastised the United States for manufacturing the bombs and warplanes used by Israel. "We won't be silent, we won't be tame," they chanted. "No more mass murder in our name." [Odd, Barack Obama condemned the Mumbai attacks... but not the Israeli invasion. He's (now) playing the 'there can only be one president at a time' card. --LRP]
Gaza telecommunication systems offline 04 Jan 2009 Palestinian communications networks are barely functioning in the Gaza Strip due to cables damaged by several Israeli airstrikes on network infrastructure on Saturday. Palestinian mobile provider Jawwal’s phone may stop working "at any minute" as shelling severely damaged the provider’s telecommunications network in Gaza. PalTel, Jawwal’s parent company based in the West Bank, told Ma’an, "The Israeli shelling damaged the electric grid and caused continuous cuts."
Gaza's main hospital struggles to stay functioning 03 Jan 2009 The sudden and violent beginning of Israel's aerial onslaught into Gaza Strip was bigger that the emergency plans drawn up earlier by the Palestinian health care system, Gaza doctors say. The crisis emerged widely in al-Shifa hospital, the only main sanatorium for Gaza's 1.5 million population. The hospital's floors were colored in red, and also the grass in its yard, as doctors and volunteers offered first aid to hundreds of wounded people on the floor.
Hamas leader: Israel killing Gaza civilians, not our fighters 04 Jan 2009 A Hamas leader early on Sunday morning denied reports that armed groups affiliated with the Islamic movement had been killed by invading Israeli forces. Appearing on Al-Jazeera just after midnight on Sunday, Mousa Mohammad Abu Marzook claimed that "there are casualties, but they are of the people of the Gaza Strip, not us."
Israel okays call-up of tens of thousands of IDF reservists 04 Jan 2009 Israel's government has approved the call-up of tens of thousands of reservist soldiers, it was announced Saturday, almost simultaneously with the launch of a Gaza ground incursion aimed at halting rocket fire on Israel's southern communities. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said in a statement that, in accordance with a secret cabinet discussion Friday, the government ordered the armed forces "to draft the necessary reservists, on a scale of tens of thousands of troops."
Explosions shake Gaza as Israeli troops roll in 03 Jan 2009 Explosions shook the Gaza Strip and fires lit up the night skies as Israeli ground forces moved on Saturday into the battered Palestinian enclave after a week of air and naval raids. Hours after Israeli infantry troops armed with night-vision equipment trotted alongside tank columns through the border and into the Hamas stronghold, battles raged in open areas east and north of Jabaliya and east of Gaza City.
Israeli tanks roll into Gaza Strip 04 Jan 2009 Israeli troops clashed with Hamas fighters as they advanced into Gaza Strip on Saturday in the first ground combat of an eight-day offensive on the Palestinian enclave, witnesses and the Israeli army said. Columns of tanks backed by helicopters crossed the boundary fence from four directions into the northern Gaza Strip under the cover of darkness, a Palestinian witness said.
Palestine: Invasion of Gaza begins (The Muslim News) 03 Jan 2009 Israeli ground troops and armoured vehicles are invading Gaza strip and have intensified missile attacks. Israel wants to destroy Hamas and destroy Gaza infrastructure to allow President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority to take over. Israel has the support of the West on this issue as the West considers the Hamas, who won the last Palestinian elections, as a terrorist organisation. The invasion was preceded by artillery attacks.
White House gives Israel green light to invade Gaza 02 Jan 2009 A ground invasion by the Israeli army of the blockaded Gaza Strip is imminent. Mass troop build-ups on the border, accompanied by tanks, and armoured personnel carriers, are awaiting the signal to enter Gaza. The White House says any ground invasion is a matter for Israel.
Three more children slain by Israeli warplanes --56% of the Gaza Strip population of 1.5 million consists of children. 02 Jan 2009 Three boys aged from 7 to ten have been killed by the Israel Air Force in its continual bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Israeli media say the boys were killed in their home in a targeted air strike, while Reuters news agency say they were playing in the street. The boys were brothers. One of them was decapitated in the attack. "These injuries are not survivable injuries," Madth Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor at Gaza's Shifa hospital who could not save another boy who had both feet blown off. "This is a murder. This is a child," he told Reuters.
Spy for Israel: Jets drop recruitment leaflets over Gaza Strip 02 Jan 2009 Israeli airplanes dropped leaflets calling for Gazans to inform their military of the whereabouts of projectile launchers in return for aid and assistance. The papers were found by the thousands all over Gaza on Friday morning and bear the signature of the Israeli military... 'Your anonymity is guaranteed. Call us at the following number: 02-5839749 Or you can e-mail us at: to provide us with any information on the terrorist factions. Note: To protect your safety, we ask you to be secretive when you call us. Head of the Israeli Defense Forces'
EU presidency: Israel ground op in Gaza 'defensive not offensive' 03 Jan 2009 European Union president, the Czech Republic, said Saturday an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza was "defensive, not offensive" action. "At the moment, from the perspective of the last days, we understand this step as a defensive, not offensive, action," Czech EU presidency spokesman Jiri Potuznik said.
Bush calls Hamas attacks 'acts of terror', says working on truce 03 Jan 2009 President [sic] George W. Bush on Friday branded the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel an act of terror and outlined his own [insane] condition for a cease-fire in Gaza, saying no peace deal would be acceptable without monitoring to halt the flow of smuggled weapons to terrorist groups.
UN's Palestinian envoy on assault 04 Jan 2009 The Palestinian observer to the UN, Riyad Mansour, has said that Israel's actions in Gaza are de-stabilising the Middle East. The United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, has called for an immediate halt to the Israeli ground assault in Gaza. The Security Council is holding a special, closed session meeting to discuss the Middle East crisis.
Tel Aviv rally decries Gaza assault 04 Jan 2009 Amid cries of "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies!" and banners reading, "Enough!" thousands of Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night to protest against the country's war on Gaza. Protesters called for an immediate end to the Israeli attacks, in which more than 450 Palestinians have been killed and around 2,100 injured since air assaults on Gaza began last Saturday.
Worldwide protests denounce Israel 03 Jan 2009 Angry protests against Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip have continued throughout the world, with two of the largest demonstrations taking place in London and in Sakhnin in northern Israel. Other large demonstrations were staged in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir, Lebanon, Turkey and the West Bank.
Thousands protest in Europe at Gaza offensive 03 Jan 2009 Thousands of chanting, banner-waving demonstrators marched in cities across Europe on Saturday to demand a halt to Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip. Protests were held or scheduled in Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain as the Israeli offensive entered its second week. Kuwaitis also took to the streets, a day after bigger Middle East rallies.
Israel must prepare to turn its military might from Gaza to Iran By Amir Oren 03 Jan 2009 It is no wonder the U.S. Army, which has 100 soldiers manning the large radar installation in the Negev meant to detect Iranian missiles, has hastened to assure its troops that they are not at risk. ...[T]he IDF must move quickly to disengage, in order to free its attention for the paramount task of preparing a military blow to Iran, if diplomacy and deterrence fail. As long as the great threat of Iranian power is hovering, the smaller threats of Hezbollah and Hamas that derive from it will not be dispelled.
Live Video Reports
The True Story Behind this War Is Not The One Israel Is Telling 
By Johann Hari
To understand how frightening it is to be a Gazan this morning, you need to have stood in that small slab of concrete by the Mediterranean and smelled the claustrophobia.
US Weapons 'Killing Innocent Civilians' in Gaza
By David Edwards and Muriel Kane
As Israeli warplanes continue to bomb Gaza, attention is turning to the role of American-made weapons in the deadly attacks, which have now killed over 400 and wounded 2000, including many civilians.
Israel Needs its Usual Friends to Help Again 
Daily Star Editorial
Israel needs help again. It needs reasonable people who share the faith of most of Israel's citizens to rescue them - and their Arab neighbors - from a degenerate political class that is leading all of us to disaster. Specifically, it is moderate Jewish Americans who can be the most helpful by taking back control of the so-called "Israel lobby" from the zealots who have made it the swamp of militaristic racism that it is.
America's Hidden Role in Hamas's Rise to Power
By Stephen Zunes, AlterNet
January 3, 2009

No one in the mainstream media or government is willing
to acknowledge America's sordid role interfering in
Palestinian politics.
The United States bears much of the blame for the
ongoing bloodshed in the Gaza Strip and nearby parts of
Israel. Indeed, were it not for misguided Israeli and
American policies, Hamas would not be in control of the
territory in the first place.

US Weapons Killing Civilians in Gaza
As Civilian Toll Soars, US Weapons Sales to Israel Under Growing Scrutiny

January 2, 2009
That’s not why the US sells weapons abroad - for the killing of innocent civilians.” At least, that is the sentiment expressed by CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, who warns that America’s role in arming the Israeli military that is killing a growing number of civilians in the Gaza Strip “is becoming very problematic.”
Among the tens of billions of dollars of weapons the United States delivers to Israel annually is the GBU-39 smart bomb, which Israel has been using heavily in its aerial strikes on the Gaza Strip. They’re smart in that they hit what they’re aiming at, but what they’re aiming at is a tiny strip of land teeming with civilians and in recent days fewer and fewer actual targets.
In the past, the State Department has expressed “concerns” about Israel’s use of US-made jets and bombs in residential neighborhoods of Gaza City. But with the outgoing Bush Administration cheering on the Israeli attacks and the incoming Obama Administration avoiding like the plague having to go on record about the war, it seems unlikely that this is a realistic possibility. Still, America’s role in the killings will not go unnoticed abroad, and may have long term diplomatic consequences.


UNSC fails to halt Israeli raids on Gaza

Sun, 04 Jan 2009 Press TV (Iran)

The UN Security Council has again failed to call for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip due to the intervention of the US.

The Council ended its third meeting about Gaza crisis late Saturday without reaching an agreement on a statement that would have asked Israel to end its ground incursion into the region, the French ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert said according to AFP.

"There was no formal agreement between member states but I have noted strong convergences about our concern at the escalation of violence and the deterioration of the situation and strong convergences on our call for an immediate, durable and respected ceasefire," Ripert told reporters after the meeting.

Two previous UN draft resolutions seeking an end to the violence in the region was blocked by Washington.

Last Sunday and wdnesday, the US rejected the resolutions calling for an end to the massive Israeli air raids against the Gaza Strip.

The development comes as the Israeli army broadened its military campaign by launching a ground offensive into the impoverished region last night.

The US, a staunch ally to Israel, has so far vetoed over 40 anti-Israeli resolutions sought by the council since 1972.

Since 2004, Washington has prevented the adoption of four other resolutions that called for Tel Aviv to halt its operations in the Gaza Strip.


Can the Jewish People Survive Without an Enemy?

By Tony Karon
January 1, 2009

Avrum Burg is the scion of one of Israel's founding families — his father was the deputy speaker of the first Knesset, and Burg himself later became speaker of the legislature, and a member of Israel's cabinet. His position at the heart of the Israeli establishment makes all the more remarkable his critique of the Jewish State, which he claims has lost its sense of moral purpose. In his new book The Holocaust Is Over: We Must Rise from Its Ashes (Palgrave/MacMillan), he argues that an obsession with an exaggerated sense of threats to Jewish survival cultivated by Israel and its most fervent backers actually impedes the realization of Judaism's higher goals. He discussed his ideas with's Tony Karon.

TIME: You argue that the Jewish people are in a state of crisis, partly because of the extent to which the Holocaust dominates contemporary Jewish identity. Can you explain?

Burg: I, like many others, believe that a day will come very soon when we will live in peace with our neighbors, and then, for the first time in our history, the vast majority of the Jewish people will be living without an immediate threat to their lives. Peaceful Israel and a secure Diaspora, all of us living the democratic hemisphere. And then the question facing our generation will be, can the Jewish people survive without an external enemy? Give me war, give me pogrom, give me disaster, and I know what to do; give me peace and tranquility, and I'm lost. The Holocaust was a hellish horror, but we often use it as an excuse to avoid looking around seeing how, existentially, 60 years later, in a miraculous way, are living in a much better situation.

In your book, you raise the question of the purpose of Jewish survival over thousands of years, insisting that Jews have not simply survived for the sake of survival. What is this higher purpose?

Both my parents were survivors — my father ran away from Berlin in September 1939; my mum survived the 1929 massacre in Hebron. So, my family knows something about trauma. Still, my siblings and I were brought up in a trauma-free atmosphere. We were brought up to believe that the Jewish people did not continue in order to continue, or survive in order to survive. A cat can survive — so it's a circumcised cat, so what? It's not about survival; survival for what?

Look at the Exodus: After 400 years of very aggressive oppression and enslavement, all of a sudden the outcry was "Let my people go," and that continues to resonate against slavery everywhere to this day. Then we come to the Sinai covenant, which is a key moment not just for Jewish theology, but for Christian belief as well: The Ten Commandments is the first human-to-human constitution, setting out the relations among humans on the basis of laws. And then you come to the Prophets, and its amazing that they're calling so clearly for a just society. And then, in the Middle Ages, you listen to Maimonides say he's waiting for redemption of the world without oppression between nations. So, in the Jewish story over so many centuries, there has always been a higher cause, not just for the Jews, but for all of humanity.

Even in the Holocaust, the lesson is "Never Again." But this doesn't mean just never again can genocide be allowed to happen to the Jews, but never again can genocide be allowed to happen to any human being. So, the Holocaust is not just mine; it belongs to all of humanity.

You suggest that there's been a turning inward from the universal purpose and meaning of the Jewish experience...

Both the internal and the external hemispheres of the Jewish experience are essential. I cannot envisage my Judaism without the input I got from the external world, be it philosophy, aesthetics, even democracy, which was introduced to the Jews in the last 200 years because of our interface with the the world. On the other hand, I can't imagine my Western civilization and Western culture without the Jewish input, without Jesus Christ, who was born, was crucified and passed away as a Mishnaic rabbinical Jew. I cannot image Christian Europe opening up to modernity without a Maimonides reintroducing Greek philosophy. I cannot imagine modern times without a Spinoza, and Mendelson. I cannot imagine the 20th century without Marx and Freud. So, this conversation between Jews and the world is not just a conversation of pogroms and slaughter and Holocaust; it's also a couple of thousand years of a conversation that enriched me and enriched them, and I don't want to give that up.

Your book argues that the centrality of the Holocaust in Israeli identity is dysfunctional...

The Holocaust is a very real trauma for many people in Israel, and nobody can argue with that. But ... when I hear someone like Benjamin Netanyahu, who is a very intelligent person, say of [Iran's President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, "It's 1938 all over again," I say, is it?! Is this the reality? Did we have such an omnipotent army in 1938? Did we have an independent state in 1938? Did we have the unequivocal support in 1938 of all the important superpowers in the world? No, we did not. And when you compare Ahmadinejad to Hitler, don't you diminish Hitler's significance?

The sad thing is that whenever a head of state begins a visit to Israel, he doesn't go to a university or to the high-tech sector or the beautiful cultural places we have in Israel; first you should get molded into the Israeli reality at [the Holocaust memorial] Yad Vashem. And I do not think that Yad Vashem should be the showcase or the gateway through which everybody should first encounter Israel. Part of the program, yes; but the starting point? This is not the way to baptize people into an encounter with Judaism.

You argue that the purpose of the Yad Vashem visit is to silence criticism...

It's an emotional blackmail that says to people, this is what we have experienced, so shut up and help us... When the sages created the national holiday of Tisha Be'av, they made it the single day on which we commemorate all the traumas of our history, from the destruction of the first temple to the Spanish expulsion. These events did not all happen on this exact date; the founders of Jewish civilization confined the memory of the traumas of our history to one day, to allow us the rest of the year to get on with being Jewish, rather than letting sorrow take over our entire existence...

Look where we were 100 years ago and look where we are today — no other people made this transformation. Imagine we did not keep the shadow of the trauma looming over ourselves daily, what could we have been? How come 25% of the Nobel laureates in certain fields are of Jewish origins, and 10% of the arms deals around the world are done by Israelis? Why is my brother or sister in America a great poet or composer or physician whose achievements raise up all of humanity, and I who live here on my sword became a world expert on arms and swords? Is that really my mission, or is that an outcome of the black water with which I water my flowers? To make our contribution to humanity, we have to free ourselves of the obsession with the trauma.

Many Jews, in Israel and in America, see Israel as surrounded by deadly threats, and would see the benign and peaceful world you describe as a dangerous fantasy. What do you say to your critics?

I have very low expectations of new thinking and insight emerging from the mainstream Israeli and Jewish establishment. Their role is to maintain the status quo. Israel is bereft of forward thinking. We are experts at managing the crisis rather than finding alternatives to the crisis. In Israel you have many tanks, but not many think tanks. One of the reasons I left the Israeli politics was my growing feeling that Israel became a very efficient kingdom, but with no prophecy. Where is it going?

My idea of Judaism can be represented through a classic Talmudic dilemma: You are walking along by the river and there are two people drowning. One is Rabbi [Meir] Kahane, and the other is the Dalai Lama. You can only save one of them. For whom will you jump? If you jump for Rabbi Kahane because genetically he's Jewish, you belong to a different camp than mine, because I would jump for the Dalai Lama. As much as he's not genetically Jewish, he's my Jewish brother when it comes to my value system. That's the difference between me and the Jewish establishment in Israel and America.

But how can this new thinking you're advocating help Israel solve its security problems?

Many people say to me, "What about Gaza? Don't have so much compassion for them, don't tell the Israelis to be nice there, tell [the Palestinians] to be nice there. And I say Gaza is a nightmare, and it's a stain on my conscience. And I'm very troubled by the attitude of Israelis against Israeli Arabs. It's a shame. It's a black hole in my democracy. But I say sometimes that I'm too close to the reality; I don't have the perspective; I don't have the bigger picture. But if enough of my kids and enough of my youth will go to volunteer, be it in Darfur or be it Rwanda, or be it in the squatter camps of South Africa, they will sharpen their sensitivities. And they will come back and say, listen, if we can do so much good out there, let's do something over here. And I see my own kids, when they come back from India and from Latin America, how changed they are as people. I see my son, after one and a half years in Latin American. He came home, and five days later, was called for 30 days "miluim" service [with his military unit] in the West Bank. And he was sitting in the worst junction in the West Bank. And he says, "When I look around me 360 degrees, nobody loves me. Settlers, Kahanes, rabbis, mullahs, Hamas, Palestinians, you name it — they all hate me. And he told me, "Here I was sitting on a corner one day; it was my break time, and I was drinking coffee with a friend of mine, and out of the valley climbed an old Arab. He was very bent forward and frail, and walked slowly to us and said 'Here is my ID.' And we told him, you don't have to give us your ID; we didn't ask for it. And he said 'No, here it is, I want you to look at it. Look at it, I'm okay, I'm kosher, I'm kosher.' I checked it and let him pass, and then I began crying and crying."

So, I asked my son, why did you cry, what happened? And he said, "You don't understand that for a year and a half, I was in Latin America, going to small villages and sitting with this kind of man, listening to their oral tradition, to the beauty of their history, to the wisdom of their culture. And they shared it with me. And now here I am, the policeman, here I am the bad guy, here I am the occupier. And I can't talk to this man. You know how much he could tell me under different circumstances?" And I say, that's an example for me.

Propaganda war: trusting what we see?

By Paul Reynolds
World affairs correspondent, BBC News website
Saturday, 3 January 2009
Israel has tried to take the initiative in the propaganda war over Gaza but, in one important instance, its version has been seriously challenged.
The incident raises the question of how to interpret video taken from the air.
Israel released video of an air attack on 28 December, which appeared to show rockets being loaded onto a truck. The truck and those close to it were then destroyed by a missile.
**Israeli footage of the truck being attacked:
This was clear evidence, the Israelis said, of how accurate their strikes were and how well justified. A special unit it has set up to coordinate its informational plan put the video onto YouTube as part of its effort to use modern means of communications to get Israel's case across.
The YouTube video has a large caption on it saying "Grad missiles being loaded onto the Hamas vehicle." As of Saturday morning UK time, more than 260,000 people had watched it.
Different version
It turned out, however, that a 55-year-old Gaza resident named Ahmed Sanur, or Samur, claimed that the truck was his and that he and members of his family and his workers were moving oxygen cylinders from his workshop.

Metal workshop owner Ahmed Sanur [photo courtesy of B'Tselem
Ahmed Sanur is challenging Israel's claim that rockets were targeted
This workshop had been damaged when a building next door was bombed by the Israelis and he was afraid of looters, he said.
The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem put Mr Sanur's account on its website, together with a photograph of burned out oxygen cylinders.
Mr Sanur said that eight people, one of them his son, had been killed. He subsequently told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: "These were not Hamas, they were our children... They were not Grad missiles.".
The Israeli response was that the "materiel" was being taken from a site that had stored weapons. The video remains on You Tube.
But the incident shows how an apparently definitive piece of video can turn into something much more doubtful.

Picture of gas cylinders taken by B'Tselem fieldworker
B'Tselem said these cannisters were near the destroyed truck
It is reminiscent of an event in the Nato war against Serbia over Kosovo in 1999. In that case, a video taken from the air seemed to show a military convoy which was then attacked.
On the ground however it was discovered that the "trucks" were in fact tractors towing cartloads of civilian refugees, many of whom were killed.
Israel effort
The Israeli propaganda effort is being directed to achieve two main aims.
The first is to justify the air attacks. The second is to show that there is no humanitarian calamity in Gaza.
Both these aims are intended to place Israel in a strong position internationally and to enable its diplomacy to act as an umbrella to fend off calls for a ceasefire while the military operation unfolds.
Israel has pursued the first aim by being very active in getting its story across that Hamas is to blame. The sight of Hamas rockets streaking into Israel has been helpful in this respect.
It has also allowed trucks in with food aid and has stressed that it will not let people starve, even if they go short.
Israel appears to think its efforts are working.
One of its spokespeople, who has regularly appeared on the international media, Major Avital Leibovich, said: "Quite a few outlets are very favourable to Israel."
Ban on foreign media
Israel has bolstered its approach by banning foreign correspondents from Gaza, despite a ruling from the Israeli Supreme Court.
The Arab television news channel Al Jazeera is operating there and its reports have been graphic and have affected opinion across the Arab world. The BBC also has its local bureau hard at work.
But the absence of reporters from major organisations has meant, for example, that Mr Samur's story has not been as widely told as it probably would have been, or his account subject to an on-the-spot examination.
Meanwhile Israel has received good coverage of the threats and damage to its own towns and communities.
Whether Israel retains any propaganda initiative is not all certain. Pictures of dead and wounded children have undermined its claim to pinpoint accuracy and the longer this goes on, the greater the potential for world public opinion to swing against it, with diplomatic pressure building for a cessation.
Its presentational problems would be hugely increased if it engaged in a ground operation, which would bring with it more pictures of death and destruction.
Update: several readers have e-mailed to ask whether I believe Hamas. One said I had "bought into" Hamas propaganda. Another that I should have dealt with Hamas' claims: "What's missing speaks volumes about your one-sidedness."
I do not believe anyone's "propaganda." We seek to verify all claims, from whatever source. One of the main claims in Gaza at the moment is the serious situation for the population. Having reported from Gaza many times over the years, I know how crowded parts of it are and how dependent the people are on food aid from the UN. This means they have no other source of supply but equally, if the system is working, they should be getting enough to get by on. The problem is that foreign correspondents cannot get in to establish the exact situation for themselves.

Robert Fisk: The rotten state of Egypt is too powerless and corrupt to act

Independnet (U.K.) Thursday, 1 January 2009
There was a day when we worried about the "Arab masses" – the millions of "ordinary" Arabs on the streets of Cairo, Kuwait, Amman, Beirut – and their reaction to the constant bloodbaths in the Middle East. Could Anwar Sadat restrain the anger of his people? And now – after three decades of Hosni Mubarak – can Mubarak (or "La Vache Qui Rit", as he is still called in Cairo) restrain the anger of his people? The answer, of course, is that Egyptians and Kuwaitis and Jordanians will be allowed to shout in the streets of their capitals – but then they will be shut down, with the help of the tens of thousands of secret policemen and government militiamen who serve the princes and kings and elderly rulers of the Arab world.
Egyptians demand that Mubarak open the Rafah crossing-point into Gaza, break off diplomatic relations with Israel, even send weapons to Hamas. And there is a kind of perverse beauty in listening to the response of the Egyptian government: why not complain about the three gates which the Israelis refuse to open? And anyway, the Rafah crossing-point is politically controlled by the four powers that produced the "road map" for peace, including Britain and the US. Why blame Mubarak?
To admit that Egypt can't even open its sovereign border without permission from Washington tells you all you need to know about the powerlessness of the satraps that run the Middle East for us.
Open the Rafah gate – or break off relations with Israel – and Egypt's economic foundations crumble. Any Arab leader who took that kind of step will find that the West's economic and military support is withdrawn. Without subventions, Egypt is bankrupt. Of course, it works both ways. Individual Arab leaders are no longer going to make emotional gestures for anyone. When Sadat flew to Jerusalem – "I am tired of the dwarves," he said of his fellow Arab leaders – he paid the price with his own blood at the Cairo reviewing-stand where one of his own soldiers called him a "Pharaoh" before shooting him dead.
The true disgrace of Egypt, however, is not in its response to the slaughter in Gaza. It is the corruption that has become embedded in an Egyptian society where the idea of service – health, education, genuine security for ordinary people – has simply ceased to exist. It's a land where the first duty of the police is to protect the regime, where protesters are beaten up by the security police, where young women objecting to Mubarak's endless regime – likely to be passed on caliph-like to his son Gamal, whatever we may be told – are sexually molested by plain-clothes agents, where prisoners in the Tora-Tora complex are forced to rape each other by their guards.
There has developed in Egypt a kind of religious facade in which the meaning of Islam has become effaced by its physical representation. Egyptian civil "servants" and government officials are often scrupulous in their religious observances – yet they tolerate and connive in rigged elections, violations of the law and prison torture. A young American doctor described to me recently how in a Cairo hospital busy doctors merely blocked doors with plastic chairs to prevent access to patients. In November, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry al-Youm reported how doctors abandoned their patients to attend prayers during Ramadan.
And amid all this, Egyptians have to live amid daily slaughter by their own shabby infrastructure. Alaa al-Aswani wrote eloquently in the Cairo paper Al-Dastour that the regime's "martyrs" outnumber all the dead of Egypt's wars against Israel – victims of railway accidents, ferry sinkings, the collapse of city buildings, sickness, cancers and pesticide poisonings – all victims, as Aswani says, "of the corruption and abuse of power". Opening the Rafah border-crossing for wounded Palestinians – the Palestinian medical staff being pushed back into their Gaza prison once the bloodied survivors of air raids have been dumped on Egyptian territory – is not going to change the midden in which Egyptians themselves live.
Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah secretary general in Lebanon, felt able to call on Egyptians to "rise in their millions" to open the border with Gaza, but they will not do so. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the feeble Egyptian Foreign Minister, could only taunt the Hizbollah leaders by accusing them of trying to provoke "an anarchy similar to the one they created in their own country."
But he is well-protected. So is President Mubarak.
Egypt's malaise is in many ways as dark as that of the Palestinians. Its impotence in the face of Gaza's suffering is a symbol of its own political sickness.

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