Archive for War

Israel urges Gaza aid efforts not break Hamas boycott

Posted in Arabs, Christianity, Hate, Islam, Israel, Israeli, Jewish History, Middle East, News, racism, Religion, Uncategorized, War, Warfare, World News with tags , , , , on February 26, 2009 by Michael Burks

http://www.reuters.com/article/vcCandidateFeed1/idUSTRE51P61Z20090226

 

TEL AVIV, Israel (Reuters) – Israel urged world leaders on Thursday to provide aid to the Gaza Strip without breaking a diplomatic boycott of Hamas Islamists who control the coastal territory.

 

“There is a need to help in Gaza without granting legitimacy to Hamas,” Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said in Tel Aviv after talks with visiting U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell.

 

The United States, Israel and European Union, have shunned dialogue with Hamas, citing its refusal to renounce violence and to recognize Israel and past peace agreements.

 

But some Western officials have urged in recent days to include Hamas in peace efforts. On Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said talking to Hamas was the “right thing to do.”

 

Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayypip Erdogan added his voice on Thursday, telling Mitchell who visited Ankara before Tel Aviv Washington should engage Hamas for the sake of peace efforts.

 

“Even though we do not approve Hamas’ methods, Hamas should not be excluded from the peace process and should be integrated into the political system and the peace process,” a Turkish official who was at the talks said.

 

Hamas violently seized control of Gaza in 2007 from Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, after winning a parliamentary election a year earlier.

 

Mitchell, preceding a visit next week by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was in the region to explore ways to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and to rebuild Gaza after a devastating Israeli offensive against Hamas last month.

 

Clinton would also attend a conference of Western donors in Egypt next week that will seek ways to raise some $2.8 billion dollars estimated as needed for relief work in coastal Gaza.

 

More than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the month of fighting in the territory that ended with a shaky truce in mid-January.

 

Israel, which controls most of Gaza’s crossings, has blocked the passage of cement and steel needed to rebuild since the war, allowing in only the most vital humanitarian supplies, saying this was aimed at preventing Hamas from rearming.

 

Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, called on Israel to lift these restrictions on Thursday.

 

An ICRC statement from Geneva said some 2,800 homes were destroyed and a further 1,900 were damaged in the Israeli offensive and that many Palestinians there now lacked water, medicine and housing.

 

“The first and most urgent measure should be to end the isolation of Gaza, particularly by lifting restrictions on the movement of people and goods,” Kellenberger said.

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Three British killed by Muslims

Posted in Arabs, Jewish History, Middle East, News, racism, Religion, War, Warfare, World News with tags , , , , on February 25, 2009 by Michael Burks

http://uk.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUKTRE51O4SK20090225

LONDON (Reuters) – Three British soldiers were killed in an explosion in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the defence ministry said.

 

The blast happened in the central part of the southern Helmand province during an escort operation, the ministry said in a statement.

 

It takes the number of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan to 148 since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

 

The soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Rifles were pronounced dead by a doctor in an emergency response helicopter. No more details of the incident or those killed were released. The victims’ families have been informed.

 

Commander Paula Rowe, spokeswoman for the Helmand force, said in a statement: “Today has been incredibly sad for the whole of Task Force Helmand, and particularly for The Rifles. We will all feel the loss of these brave soldiers.”

 

Britain has about 8,000 soldiers in Afghanistan fighting an increasingly bold Taliban insurgency.

 

(Reporting by Peter Griffiths; editing by Elizabeth Piper)

Muslims attack Israel after truce

Posted in Arabs, Christianity, Hate, Islam, Israel, Israeli, Jewish History, Middle East, News, racism, Religion, War, Warfare, World News with tags , , , , , on February 25, 2009 by Michael Burks

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ioi_0jtO9RjMwPNRoXNCndRPRq3gD96IMM001

JERUSALEM (AP) — Militants in Gaza launched rockets at southern Israel on Wednesday and Israeli planes attacked smuggling tunnels in retaliation as a stable truce between the two sides remained elusive.

The Palestinian prime minister said the international community will be asked to donate $2.8 billion to rebuilding Gaza after Israel’s offensive last month, and talks started in Cairo on a reconciliation of the feuding Palestinian governments seen as essential in securing the foreign aid.

No injuries were reported in either the rocket attacks or the airstrike.

Militants fired two rockets early in the day and Israeli aircraft struck seven tunnels in the southern Gaza town of Rafah several hours later in response, the Israeli military said.

Palestinians working in the tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border evacuated before the strike after they saw Egyptian troops across the border pull back, presumably when they were warned by Israel, according to Hamas security officials.

The rocket attacks and retaliatory airstrikes have become routine in the aftermath of Israel’s three-week Gaza offensive, which left some 1,300 Palestinians dead and demolished or damaged thousands of homes.

The sides independently declared informal cease-fires on Jan. 18, but Egyptian-mediated talks on a longer-term agreement have been unsuccessful so far, and sporadic violence persists.

As separate talks approach next week on rebuilding Gaza, the Palestinian prime minister said the international community will be asked to donate $2.8 billion, but warned the money would do no good unless Gaza’s borders reopened.

Hamas wants Israel to open Gaza’s border crossings, but Israel says it won’t until Hamas frees an Israeli soldier held since June 2006. Hamas doesn’t want to link the reopening of the crossings to the soldier’s fate, saying he should be part of a prisoner exchange deal independent of the truce talks.

Adding to the tension are the recent rocket attacks. Smaller militant groups have claimed them, but Israel holds Hamas responsible as the ruling power in Gaza. A small faction calling itself Hezbollah Palestine took responsibility for Wednesday’s attack in a statement sent to reporters in Gaza.

Israel sealed its borders with Gaza after Islamic Hamas militants overran the territory in June 2007. The takeover resulted in the creation of feuding Palestinian governments, with Hamas in charge of Gaza and the West Bank controlled by the moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.

Reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas started Wednesday with a series of “icebreaking” meetings, members said.

“We agreed on the mechanism to solve the issue of prisoners,” said Nabil Shaath, a top Abbas aide. “We agree to stop all media attacks against each other. This will be immediate.”

Election results spur threats and infighting in Iraq

Posted in Islam, Israel, Israeli, Jewish History, Middle East, World News with tags , , , on February 10, 2009 by Michael Burks

http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/02/10/mideast/anbar.1-426529.php

RAMADI, Iraq: The post-election curfew has been lifted and the threats of violence have been muted after the intervention of envoys from the Iraqi Army, the central government and the U.S. Marines. A cacophonous bustle has returned to the filthy, shattered streets of this provincial capital, once a base of the Sunni insurgency.

And still Faris Taha, one of the election’s victors, according to preliminary results, is too fearful to return to the region he will soon represent.

“I cannot go back,” he said, having retreated from his hometown east of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, to a hotel in Baghdad’s Green Zone. “I am afraid.”

Iraq’s provincial elections on Jan. 31 passed with strikingly little mayhem, raising hopes that democracy might take hold. But in Anbar, as in other volatile provinces, the results that were supposed to augur peace have instead fueled tensions, raising the specter of violence among those vying for political power.

The transition from insurgency to politics to governance – a key to stabilizing the country after six years of war – has proved to be anything but steady and sure. What Anbar has yet to experience is the foundation of any democracy: a peaceful transfer of power. Seating the new provincial governments, Iraqi and U.S. officials fear, could be even more fraught with danger than the elections themselves.

From Basra in the south to Mosul in the north, at least four candidates have faced assassination attempts since the election, while another disappeared on his way to work near Karbala. The divided results in Anbar, where no bloc won more than 17.6 percent of the vote, have led to conflicting accusations of intimidation, assault and fraud; a raft of complaints to the central election commission could take months to sort out.

Efforts to forge a governing coalition, already under way behind the scenes, are exposing tribal rivalries and personal feuds. Most of the incumbents have decamped from the region they have governed since 2005.

“We were born yesterday when it comes to politics,” said Sheik Ali al-Hatem, who backed the Tribes of Iraq coalition, which is challenging its 4.5 percent showing in the vote.

The outcome in Anbar, the vast Sunni-dominated region west of Baghdad, has enormous significance for Iraq’s political development.

It was once the most dangerous province in Iraq, consumed by a bloody insurgency and terrorism, until tribal leaders joined the Americans and turned on Al Qaeda and other extremists in late 2006. They pacified the region and made plans to consolidate their power at the ballot box.

What stunned Iraqi officials was how quickly after the vote some of the tribal leaders returned to the language of war when the elections’ outcome disappointed them.

Even before the results were announced, the leader of the party now known as the Awakening, Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, threatened to turn his followers into an “armed wing” to overthrow the provincial government. The head of the Tribes of Iraq bloc, Sheik Hammid al-Hayes, threatened to set the streets of Ramadi ablaze and turn the province into a graveyard.

Their fury stemmed from initial claims by the governing party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, to have swept Anbar’s election, as it did in 2005 when most Sunnis boycotted the vote.

Instead, the Islamic Party stood accused of stuffing ballot boxes and reporting inflated results from some polling stations. Party leaders denied any fraud, though one foreign election observer said the complaints had some legitimacy. The central election commission rejected some ballots before announcing preliminary results in Baghdad last Thursday, party officials said.

“The Islamic Party does not deserve even 1 percent of the vote in Anbar,” said another sheik, Aifan al-Issawi, who ran on the Awakening Party slate in the region’s other major city, Falluja. “They have blood on their hands, and they have plundered the province.”

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki swiftly sent one of his deputies, Rafie al-Issawi, a Sunni from the province, to defuse the crisis. The commander of the Iraqi Army, Lieutenant General Ali Ghaidan Majid, vowed to put down any violence. The envoys appeared to have secured a truce of sorts, but a final resolution remains out of reach.

In Ramadi, the leader of the Awakening Party, Ahmed, now tempers his remarks. Sitting in his tribal guest house not far from the Euphrates River, surrounded by guards, police officers, soldiers, relatives, friends and other hangers-on, the sheik spoke confidently of forging a governing coalition that would exclude the Islamic Party.

Iran tones down – proves they are cowards

Posted in Christianity, Islam, Israel, Israeli, Jewish History, Middle East, News, Religion, Uncategorized, World News with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2009 by Michael Burks

http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/13/mideast/tehran.php

Israelis pull into Gaza

Posted in Christianity, Islam, Israel, Israeli, Jewish History, News, World News with tags , , , , , , , on January 13, 2009 by Michael Burks

Full story here

Israeli troops have entered the suburbs of Gaza City and are engaged in street fighting with militants, reports say.

Witnesses said Israeli special forces had advanced several hundred metres into several neighbourhoods and that intense gunfire could be heard.

Earlier, Israeli planes attacked more targets in Gaza as Israel’s offensive against Hamas entered an 18th day.

A UN watchdog meanwhile accused Israel of showing a “manifest disrespect” for the protection of children in Gaza.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said more than 40% of those killed in Gaza were women or children, even though the Israeli government had signed a UN protocol condemning attacks on places where children were likely to be present.

The attacks would have a severe emotional and psychological effect on an entire generation of children in Gaza, it added.

A Palestinian human rights group earlier said more than 90,000 people had fled their homes during the conflict.

Palestinian medical officials say more than 40 people were killed on Tuesday, and that the emergency services have been unable to reach many of the areas targeted by the Israeli military.

They say that since the offensive began on 27 December, 971 people have been killed in Gaza – of whom 311 were children and 76 were women – and more than 4,400 people have been injured.

Thirteen Israelis have died, three of them civilians, Israel says.

Despite the Israeli offensive, militants in Gaza have kept up rocket attacks on southern Israel. The Israeli army said on Tuesday that 25 mortars and rockets had been fired out of Gaza and that Israeli war planes had carried out more than 50 air strikes since the morning.

Israel says it will not call off its offensive until it has stopped the rocket attacks and prevented arms being smuggled into Gaza.

Israeli troops enter the Gaza Strip (12.1.09)
Israel wants to stop militants firing rockets across the Gaza border

Talat Jad, a resident of the Gaza City suburb of Tal al-Hawa, said he and 15 members of his family had gathered in one room of their house, too frightened to look out of the window.

“We even silenced our mobile phones because we were afraid the soldiers in the tanks could hear them,” he said.

Analysts say Israel may be holding back from all-out urban warfare in Gaza City.

Intense street fighting could complicate truce efforts and cause heavy casualties on both sides, which they say would be a politically risky move less than a month before Israel’s parliamentary election.

Diplomatic efforts to achieve a ceasefire are continuing in Cairo, where Egyptian mediators are pressing Hamas – which controls the Gaza Strip – to accept a truce proposal.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak also made an unannounced visit on Tuesday to Saudi Arabia, where he discussed the situation with King Abdullah.

The BBC’s Magdi Abdelhadi in Cairo says the meeting indicates that Egypt is seeking Saudi Arabia’s help in persuading Hamas to accept a ceasefire.

Earlier, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said any agreement would have to entail a halt to Israeli attacks, a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces and the opening of border crossings to end the blockade of Gaza.

However, the Israeli foreign ministry said there was no guarantee that Hamas would respect any ceasefire agreement.

Hospital visit

Earlier, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jakob Kellenberger, visited Gaza to see the humanitarian situation for himself.

Speaking on a tour of Gaza’s main hospital, Mr Kellenberger said he had been saddened by what he had witnessed.

“I wanted to see this hospital and I can only say this is really very sad and it hurts a lot when you see what I’ve just seen,” he said.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the military operation would continue in order to stop Hamas rockets being fired into Israel and to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza.

“We are working towards those two goals while at the same time keeping an eye on the diplomatic initiatives,” he said during a tour of an Israeli air force base.

Destroyed building in Gaza City

Thousands of people have abandoned their homes to escape the offensive

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of trying to “wipe out” his people.

“This is the 18th day of the Israeli aggression against our people, which has become more ferocious each day as the number of victims rises,” he said.

“Israel is keeping up this aggression to wipe out our people over there.”

US Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton said in her Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday that the Obama administration would make “every effort” to forge Israeli-Palestinian peace.

“The president-elect and I understand and are deeply sympathetic to Israel’s desire to defend itself under the current conditions, and to be free of shelling by Hamas rockets,” she said.

“However, we have also been reminded of the tragic humanitarian costs of conflict in the Middle East and pained by the suffering of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.”

The Al-Mizan Centre for Human Rights, a Palestinian group, said that more than 90,000 people had abandoned their homes to escape the Israeli bombardment.