Heavy smoke billows following an Israeli military strike in Gaza City on July 29, 2014. (AFP photo)
GAZA CITY: Israel said on Thursday it would not pull troops from Gaza until they finish destroying a network of cross-border tunnels, despite sharp United Nations criticism over the civilian death toll.
Speaking at the start of a special cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would not accept any ceasefire that did not allow troops to continue destroying tunnels used by militants for attacking Israel.
“Until now, we have destroyed dozens of terror tunnels and we are determined to finish this mission — with or without a ceasefire,” he said at the start of a special cabinet meeting.
“So I will not accept any (truce) proposal that does not allow the IDF (army) to complete this work for the security of Israel’s citizens.”
His remarks came after the army confirmed mobilizing another 16,000 additional reservists, hiking the total number called up to 86,000. Israel does not say how many troops are currently engaged in the fighting inside the Gaza Strip.
Israeli soldiers carry shells next to a mobile artillery unit outside the Gaza Strip. (Reuters photo)
And Washington said it had agreed to restock Israel’s dwindling supplies of ammunition, despite increasing international concern over the death toll in Gaza, where more than 1,374 people have been killed in 24 days of violence.
UN figures indicate two-thirds of the victims were civilians. Of that civilian dead, nearly half were women and children.
Following the shelling of a UN school in northern Gaza on Wednesday which killed 16, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay slammed Israel for its attacks on homes, schools and hospitals, accusing it of “deliberate defiance” of international law.
An Israeli artillery gun fires a 155mm shell towards targets from their position near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip on July 30, 2014. (AFP photo)
“None of this appears to me to be accidental,” she told reporters. “There appears to be deliberate defiance of obligations that international law imposes on Israel.”
The shelling of the school also drew sharp condemnation from UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who described it as “reprehensible”, as well as from Washington.
But the Israeli army suggested the deaths may have been the result of a misfired Palestinian rocket.
“What happened is still not clear at this stage,” military spokesman General Moti Almoz told army radio. “It is not clear if the school was hit by fire from IDF soldiers or from Hamas terrorists,” he said.Heavy smoke billows following an Israeli military strike in Gaza City on July 29, 2014. (AFP photo)
Despite rising international calls for a halt to the bloodshed, the Israeli security cabinet decided Wednesday to press on with the operation in Gaza just hours after troops had made a significant advance into the narrow enclave.
The Israeli offensive began on July 8 with the aim of ending militant rocket fire, but expanded on July 17 with a ground operation aimed at destroying a sophisticated network of tunnels leading under the border, which Israel has vowed to dismantle.
Major General Sami Turgeman, head of the army’s southern command, said Wednesday that the army was “just days” away from completing its mission to destroy the tunnels.
Palestinian medics take a break after carrying wounded people injured from an Israeli strike to the emergency room at Gaza City’s Shifa hospital on July 30, 2014. (AP photo)
Cabinet ministers were being briefed on the progress of the operation in their first meeting since the ground assault began.
“Israel is trapped on the outskirts of Gaza without an exit strategy and without any ceasefire on the horizon,” wrote defence correspondent Alex Fishman in the top-selling Yediot Aharonot.
“Within a few days, Israel is going to have to decide either to push ahead with full force or to pull the troops out.”
Despite a heavy death toll in Gaza on Wednesday when 111 Palestinians were killed, including 17 who died in a strike on a crowded market place and another 16 at the UN school, Washington said it had restocked the army’s ammunition supplies.
Members of Code Pink hold a vigil of civil disobedience in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington DC on July 30, 2014. (AFP photo)
The Pentagon confirmed it had granted an Israeli request for ammunition, including some from a stockpile stored by the US military on the ground in Israel for emergency use by the Jewish state.
Rights group Amnesty International had urged Washington to halt arms supplies to Israel.
Meanwhile, there was no letup in bloodshed with at least 10 Palestinians killed on Thursday, among them two women, raising the overall Palestinian toll to 1,374, medics said.
Palestinian boys look at body of four-year-old Palestinian girl who hospital officials said was killed in an Israeli air strike. (Reuters photo)
And another 15 people sheltering in the UN school in Jabaliya refugee camp that was struck on Wednesday were wounded when Israeli warplanes attacked a mosque next door, medics said.
In Israel, 56 soldiers have died and Hamas rocket fire has killed three civilians, two Israelis and a Thai national.
Despite the loss of life, there appeared to be little Israeli appetite for a truce, with a senior official telling Haaretz newspaper that a ceasefire was not even close.
Nevertheless, an Israeli delegation travelled to Cairo late Wednesday to discuss a possible ceasefire with Egyptian officials, an official at the airport told AFP.
Cairo, a key mediator in previous truce negotiations between Israel and Hamas, was also expected to host a Palestinian delegation later this week.
Influential American writer of the late 19th century H.L. Mencken once wrote of mass psychology: “The men… people admire the most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth…”
In his book “Mein Kampf”, Adolf Hitler states that in “… the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature…”.
The Zionist big lie about Palestine — “a land without a people” — that the entire Western world adopted, and the biblical, Talmudic myth of the “chosen people” have been the most important factors behind all the tragedies and atrocities that Palestine and the Palestinians have been subjected to since the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in l897.
Our Arab-Muslim civilisation has never had a moment of rest, or peace of mind, since Zionism was able to penetrate Western civilisation to the point where tens of millions of Westerners, the neoconservatives, adopted that esoteric Talmudic myth, placing Zionist interests before and above their own national interests.
We Arabs, Jordanians and Palestinians especially, are victims of a torrent of lies by a few international media magnates that every day enter every room of every household, propagating not only sex and violence but also, above all, the Zionist ideas of the extreme right.
American Secretary of State John Kerry has been travelling to the region for some time now in an effort to bring about peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
So far, his efforts have been shattered against the rock of Israeli resistance.
What will get Israel to agree to a settlement is not going to be good sentiments or feelings, wishes or intentions.
What is needed is a counterforce, be it military, political, economic or the oil weapon.
Unfortunately, such force is not available now, nor does it appear to be likely in the near future.
And while we are arguing and fighting among ourselves about Jordanian-Palestinian identity, right of return, Sunni-Shiite issues, etc, the land continues to be swallowed up by the insatiable appetite of a settler-, citadel-minded Zionist state supported by the full force of the West.
Joschka Fisher, former foreign minister of Germany, recently wrote regarding peace in our region: “No such hope currently exists for the Middle East…” (The Jordan Times, January 31-February 1, 2014)
An Arabic proverb says: “The rope of lies is short.”
Hopefully that will prove to be true in the case of Zionism, too, though for that to happen, we need to intensify our efforts in that direction.
I believe that Jordanians and Palestinians alone are a match for Israel, and that while we will welcome any support from other Arabs, Muslims or others, we can face Israel alone.
We have a great storehouse of sympathy and support throughout the world, even in the West: people whose sense of fairness, justice and humanity has made them stand with us and against the lies.
And these are the people with whom we should remain in close and constant contact.
It is perhaps time for the appointment of a high-ranking roving ambassador for Jerusalem affairs, personally deputised by His Majesty King Abdullah and the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose mission would be to attend every meeting, conference, symposium that discusses Jerusalem, Palestine and all other related issues, with the authority to call for meetings, even with heads of state, should the need arise.
By the terms of the l994 peace treaty with Israel, Jordan was entrusted with the care and protection of the holy places in Jerusalem.
The agreement signed by King Abdullah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last year is only a reminder of that sacred duty.
As the first qiblah of Islam and holding the most sacred shrines of Christianity, Jerusalem needs to be kept in the hearts and minds of just people everywhere, and His Majesty’s ambassador should be the symbol of that trust.
The writer is director of the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies and former foreign minister of Jordan. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.
[No matter how hard you try, you can never trump Jewish audacity and insanity…..What is that Jew word? “Hutspah,” “Chutzpah“?
Israel is threatening to haul Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas before the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of war crimes, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett told Army Radio on Sunday.
“We are currently preparing an indictment for war crimes against [Abbas] based on two rationales,” Bennett said. “The first is the daily cash transfers to Hamas, which is firing missiles on Israeli citizens, and the second is the direct financing of murderous terrorists themselves.”
In order for the ICC to try the Palestinian leader, Israel would first need to formally join. Only then would it be able to lodge a complaint with the ICC prosecutor, who would need to decide whether to launch an investigation.
File – Jordanian protesters, mostly Islamists, demonstrate after prayers in Amman.
AMMAN: Jordan’s opposition Islamists called on the government to freeze a 1994 peace treaty with Israel as the Knesset was Tuesday to debate Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
“We urge the government to meet the demands of people who have repeatedly called for freezing and eventually cancelling the peace treaty,” the Islamic Action Front (IAF) said on its website.
The Israeli Knesset, or parliament, is due to debate in the evening a bill introduced by MP Moshe Feiglin, a hardline member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, which envisages the “application of Israeli sovereignty” over Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
No vote is envisaged at the end of debate. Netanyahu is opposed to the bill and commentators say it is unlikely to attract much support.
But the IAF, political arm of Jordan’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and main opposition party, said the planned debate “proves that Jordanian policies in dealing with the enemy (Israel) have failed.”
Under the peace treaty, Jordan is the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.
“The custodianship is a Jordanian national interest and a sacred religious duty,” said the IAF.
Jordanian officials were not immediately available for comment.
The IAF statement came as Israeli police early Tuesday entered the compound to disperse stone-throwing Palestinian protesters, with an Israeli police spokesman speaking of “high tension”.
The Al-Aqsa compound, which lies in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem’s Old City, is a flashpoint because of its significance to both Muslims and Jews.
Sitting above the Western Wall plaza, it houses the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques and is Islam’s third-holiest site.
It is also Judaism’s holiest place, as it was the site of the first and second Jewish temples.
Earlier this month a panel of Jordanian MPs warned that “Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa represent a red line”.
The Mansoura bombing was in Daqahliya (7), Sharqiya province (23), Ismailia (12)
“Look for the Egyptian Security building in Ismailia to be hit next, since this security zone is now the only path from Cairo to the Sinai with a fully intact security organization.”
Large blast at central Cairo police headquarters on Friday morning is followed by smaller explosions in Dokki and Talbiya
Five people have been killed in three separate bomb attacks in Greater Cairo on Friday morning.
A large blast ripped through a security building in central Cairo early on Friday, killing four and injuring 76 others, according to the health ministry.
The explosion at the Cairo Security Directorate in Bab El-Khalk district blew out the windows of the building and stripped off parts of its façade, state TV reported.
According to a statement by the interior ministry, a car packed with explosives was passing in front of the directorate and stopped suddenly in front of the gate before exploding. The attack took place at around 6:30am local time and was heard across several parts of the capital.
TV footage showed wrecked floors of the multi-storey building and a damaged facade of the nearby Museum of Islamic Arts. The minister of state for antiquities told journalists in a statement after touring the site that “some artefacts” inside the museum had also been damaged.
Police have cordoned off the area and ambulances rushed to the scene to transport the wounded
Large crowds of onlookers chanted slogans against the Muslim Brotherhood movement of deposed president Mohamed Morsi, including: “the people want the execution of the Brotherhood. Execution for Morsi.” The Brotherhood was designated a terrorist organisation by the cabinet in December.
An Ahram Online reporter at the scene an hour after the blast said she saw a badly mangled vehicle stained with blood parked in front of the police compound. Some of the building’s walls have collapsed.
The attack has also caused water pipes in the area to explode, and vacuum excavators were sent to remove the water pooling in the street, the reporter added.
Later on, one person was killed when a primitive bomb exploded after being thrown at a police vehicle near a metro station in Giza, deputy Giza security chief Mahmoud Farouk told state TV.
TV footage showed a police cordon around El-Behous metro station in Giza’s Dokki district.
At least 11 others were reportedly wounded in the attack.
A third bomb also exploded later on Friday morning at a police station in Talbiya district in Giza. The interior ministry said the bomb was small and had caused no casualties.
“It’s a vile, desperate attempt by evil terrorist forces to disrupt the success Egypt and its people have achieved in the [transitional] roadmap and the passing of the new constitution,” Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi commented, in reference to the Cairo bomb.
The attacks came only one day ahead of the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak, raising the spectre of further violence.
“They don’t want the people to celebrate,” interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim told reporters while inspecting the explosion site in Cairo, adding that he was certain that “millions would take to the streets” on Saturday to celebrate the revolution nonetheless. He added that the “despicable attack” would not hamper police “in their war against black terrorism.”
A spate of recent explosions in densely populated areas has raised fears that militant activity in the border Sinai Peninsula, which has spiked since Morsi’s removal, would take its toll on other parts of the country.
But the Brotherhood has repeatedly denied any links to the attacks.
In one of the deadliest attacks, a December bombing of a security headquarters the Nile Delta city of Mansoura killed 16 people, mostly policemen.
A bomb also exploded outside a Cairo court just before polls were to set to open in last week’s constitutional referendum, leaving no casualties.
An Al-Qaeda-inspired group, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, has claimed responsibility for most of the recent attacks in which scores of policemen and soldiers were killed. The group says the violence is in revenge for the killings and arrests of Islamists as part of a broad security crackdown. But there was no immediate claim of responsibility for Friday’s attack.
The group also claimed a failed assassination attempt on the interior minister in Cairo in September.