Israeli ‘phosphorous shells’ incinerate 1,000s of tons of UN food as Gaza starves

Israeli ‘phosphorous shells’ incinerate

1,000s of tons of UN food as Gaza starves

Ben Lynfield and Ibrahim Barzak

15 January 2009

ISRAELI shells set ablaze a food warehouse at UN headquarters in Gaza yesterday, destroying tons of emergency rations intended for needy Gaza civilians, a senior UN official said.

A pall of black smoke rose from the UN compound, visible across Gaza City. Flour spilled on the ground and mixed with soot as Palestinian firefighters tried to douse the flames.

“The main warehouse was badly damaged by what appeared to be white phosphorus shells,” UN humanitarian affairs chief John Holmes said at a news briefing in New York.

“Those on the ground don’t have any doubt that’s what they were. If you were looking for confirmation, that looks like it to me.” The compound belongs to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (Unwra).

The rights group Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of using white phosphorus, which can create smoke screens or mark targets but also makes a devastating incendiary weapon.

Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said the military fired artillery shells at the UN compound after Hamas militants opened fire from the location, a version of events John Ging, director of Unwra in Gaza, rejected as “nonsense”

Mr Ging said Israeli shells first hit a courtyard filled with refugees, then struck garages and the UN’s main warehouse, sending thousands of tons of food aid up in flames. Later, fuel supplies ignited, sending a thick plume of smoke into the air.

“It’s a total disaster for us,” said Mr Ging, adding that the UN had warned the Israeli its shelling put the compound in danger.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, who is in the region to encourage a ceasefire, demanded a “full explanation” and said the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, had told him there had been a “grave mistake”.

Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, called the attack “indefensible”, saying the UN’s mission in Gaza “is purely humanitarian, bringing relief to civilians suffering in appalling conditions as a result of the ongoing military actions and restrictions on food and medical supplies entering Gaza”.

Even as a top Israeli envoy went to Egypt to discuss a cease-fire proposal, the military pushed further into Gaza in an apparent effort to step up pressure on Hamas. Ground forces thrust deep into a crowded neighbourhood for the first time, as terrified residents fled.

The compound of al-Quds hospital, in the Tel Huwa area of Gaza City, where Israeli troops advanced yesterday, also came under Israeli shelling. A shell hit a building connected to the hospital belonging to the Red Crescent Society and another crashed into the pharmacy on the second floor of the hospital building. Firefighters were able to prevent the fire reaching the main hospital building, paramedic Adil al-Azbat told The Scotsman.

“We put the patients on the underground floor where the surgical department is. There was great fear, great terror, an inability to concentrate. We felt at this moment that the hospital is on the brink of destruction,” he added.

Meanwhile, an air strike in Gaza City killed a senior Hamas leader, Sayyid Siyam, interior minister in Gaza’s government. Mr Siyam was a key figure in Hamas, and oversaw the militiamen who seized control of the Gaza Strip during the June 2006 armed takeover from forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.

A total of 1,076 Palestinians have died in the Israeli offensive, which began to prevent rocket fire from the Strip into Israel.

At least 670 of them are civilians, according to Palestinian rights groups.

A total of 13 Israelis have died either from missile strikes on southern Israel or in the fighting in Gaza.

List Of Israel’s Child Victims In Gaza

List Of Israel’s Child Victims In Gaza

AlJazeera.net


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Jan 15, 2009

At least 300 children are among the more than 1,000 Palestinians who have died since Israel began to bombard the Gaza Strip on December 27.

Al Jazeera has obtained the names of 210 of the young victims, 44 of which were under five years old. 

Date Name Gender Age
27/12/2008 Ibtihal Kechko Girl 10
Ahmed Riad Mohammed Al-Sinwar Boy 3
Ahmed Al-Homs Boy 18
Ahmed Rasmi Abu Jazar Boy 16
Ahmed Sameeh Al-Halabi Boy 18
Tamer Hassan Al-Akhrass Boy 5
Hassan Ali Al-Akhrass Boy 3
Haneen Wael Mohammed Daban Girl 15
Khaled Sami Al-Astal Boy 15
alaat Mokhless Bassal Boy 18
Aaed Imad Kheera Boy 14
Abdullah Al-Rayess Boy 17
Odai Hakeem Al-Mansi Boy 4
Allam Nehrou Idriss Boy 18
Ali Marwan Abu Rabih Boy 18
Anan Saber Atiyah Boy 13
Camelia Al-Bardini Girl 10
Lama Talal Hamdan Girl 10
Mohammed Jaber Howeij Boy 17
Nimr Mustafa Amoom Boy 10
29/12/2008 Ismail Talal Hamdan Boy 10
Ahmed Ziad Al-Absi Boy 14
Ahmed Youssef Khello Boy 18
Ikram Anwar Baaloosha Girl 14
Tahrier Anwar Baaloosha Girl 17
Jihad Saleh Ghobn Boy 10
Jawaher Anwar Baaloosha Girl 8
Dina Anwar Baaloosha Girl 7
Samar Anwar Baaloosha Girl 6
Shady Youssef Ghobn Boy 12
Sudqi Ziad Al-Absi Boy 3
Imad Nabeel Abou Khater Boy 16
Lina Anwar Baaloosha Girl 7
Mohammed Basseel Madi Boy 17
Mohammed Jalal Abou Tair Boy 18
Mohammed Ziad Al-Absi Boy 14
Mahmoud Nabeel Ghabayen Boy 15
Moaz Yasser Abou Tair Boy 6
Wissam Akram Eid Girl 14
30/12/2008 Haya Talal Hamdan Girl 8
31/12/2008 Ahmed Kanouh Boy 10
Ameen Al-Zarbatlee Boy 10
Mohammed Nafez Mohaissen Boy 10
Mustafa Abou Ghanimah Boy 16
Yehya Awnee Mohaissen Boy 10
Ossman Bin Zaid Nizar Rayyan Boy 3
Assaad Nizar Rayyan Boy 2
Moaz-Uldeen Allah Al-Nasla Boy 5
Aya Nizar Rayyan Girl 12
Halima Nizar Rayyan Girl 5
Reem Nizar Rayyan Boy 4
Aicha Nizar Rayyan Girl 3
Abdul Rahman Nizar Rayyan Boy 6
Abdul Qader Nizar Rayyan Boy 12
Oyoon Jihad Al-Nasla Girl 16
Mahmoud Mustafa Ashour Boy 13
Maryam Nizar Rayyan Girl 5
01/01/2009 Hamada Ibrahim Mousabbah Boy 10
Zeinab Nizar Rayyan Girl 12
Sujud Mahmoud Al-Derdesawi Girl 10
Abdul Sattar Waleed Al-Astal Boy 12
Abed Rabbo Iyyad Abed Rabbo Al-Astal Boy 10
Ghassan Nizar Rayyan Boy 15
Christine Wadih El-Turk Boy 6
Mohammed Mousabbah Boy 14
Mohammed Iyad Abed Rabbo Al-Astal Boy 13
Mahmoud Samsoom Boy 16
Ahmed Tobail Boy 16
Ahmed Sameeh Al-Kafarneh Boy 17
Hassan Hejjo Boy 14
Rajeh Ziadeh Boy 18
Shareef Abdul Mota Armeelat Boy 15
Mohammed Moussa Al-Silawi Boy 10
Mahmoud Majed Mahmoud Abou Nahel Boy 16
Mohannad Al-Tatnaneeh Boy 18
Hani Mohammed Al-Silawi Boy 10
01/01/2009 Ahmed Al-Meshharawi Boy 16
Ahmed Khodair Sobaih Boy 17
Ahmed Sameeh Al-Kafarneh Boy 18
Asraa Kossai Al-Habash Girl 10
Assad Khaled Al-Meshharawi Boy 17
Asmaa Ibrahim Afana Girl 12
Ismail Abdullah Abou Sneima Boy 4
Akram Ziad Al-Nemr Boy 18
Aya Ziad Al-Nemr Girl 8
Ahmed Mohammed Al-Adham Boy 1
Akram Ziad Al-Nemr Boy 13
Hamza Zuhair Tantish Boy 12
Khalil Mohammed Mokdad Boy 18
Ruba Mohammed Fadl Abou-Rass Girl 13
Ziad Mohammed Salma Abou Sneima Boy 9
Shaza Al-Abed Al-Habash Girl 16
Abed Ziad Al-Nemr Boy 12
Attia Rushdi Al-Khawli Boy 16
Luay Yahya Abou Haleema Boy 17
Mohammed Akram Abou Harbeed Boy 18
Mohammed Abed Berbekh Boy 18
Mohammed Faraj Hassouna Boy 16
Mahmoud Khalil Al-Mashharawi Boy 12
Mahmoud Zahir Tantish Boy 17
Mahmoud Sami Assliya Boy 3
Moussa Youssef Berbekh Boy 16
Wi’am Jamal Al-Kafarneh Girl 2
Wadih Ayman Omar Boy 4
Youssef Abed Berbekh Boy 10
05/01/2009 Ibrahim Rouhee Akl Boy 17
Ibrahim Abdullah Merjan Boy 13
Ahmed Attiyah Al-Semouni Boy 4
Aya Youssef Al-Defdah Girl 13
Aya Al-Sersawi Girl 5
Ahmed Amer Abou Eisha Boy 5
Ameen Attiyah Al-Semouni Boy 4
Hazem Alewa Boy 8
Khalil Mohammed Helless Boy 12
Diana Mosbah Saad Girl 17
Raya Al-Sersawi Girl 5
Rahma Mohammed Al-Semouni Girl 18
Ramadan Ali Felfel Boy 14
Rahaf Ahmed Saeed Al-Azaar Girl 4
Shahad Mohammed Hijjih Girl 3
Arafat Mohammed Abdul Dayem Boy 10
Omar Mahmoud Al-Baradei Boy 12
Ghaydaa Amer Abou Eisha Girl 6
Fathiyya Ayman Al-Dabari Girl 4
Faraj Ammar Al-Helou Boy 2
Moumen Alewah Boy 9
Moumen Mahmoud Talal Alaw Boy 10
Mohammed Amer Abu Eisha Boy 8
Mahmoud Mohammed Abu Kamar Boy 15
Marwan Hein Kodeih Girl 6
Montasser Alewah Boy 12
Naji Nidal Al-Hamlawi Boy 16
Nada Redwan Mardi Girl 5
Hanadi Bassem Khaleefa Girl 13
06/01/2009 Ibrahim Ahmed Maarouf Boy 14
Ahmed Shaher Khodeir Boy 14
Ismail Adnan Hweilah Boy 15
Aseel Moeen Deeb Boy 17
Adam Mamoun Al-Kurdee Boy 3
Alaa Iyad Al-Daya Girl 8
Areej Mohammed Al-Daya Girl 3 months
Amani Mohammed Al-Daya Girl 4
Baraa Ramez Al-Daya Girl 2
Bilal Hamza Obaid Boy 15
Thaer Shaker Karmout Boy 17
Hozaifa Jihad Al-Kahloot Boy 17
Khitam Iyad Al-Daya Girl 9
Rafik Abdul Basset Al-Khodari Boy 15
Raneen Abdullah saleh Girl 12
Zakariya Yahya Al-Taweel Boy 5
Sahar Hatem Dawood Girl 10
Salsabeel Ramez Al-Daya Girl 6 months
Sharafuldeen Iyad Al-Daya Boy 7
Doha Mohammed Al-Daya Girl 5
Ahed Iyad Kodas Boy 15
Abdullah Mohammed Abdullah Boy 10
Issam Sameer Deeb Boy 12
Alaa Ismail Ismail Boy 18
Ali Iyad Al-Daya Boy 10
Imad Abu Askar Boy 18
Filasteen Al-Daya Girl 5
Kamar Mohammed Al-Daya Boy 3
Lina Abdul Menem Hassan Girl 10
Unidentified Boy 9
Unidentified Boy 15
Mohammed Iyad Al-Daya Boy 6
Mohammed Bassem Shakoura Boy 10
Mohammed Bassem Eid Boy 18
Mohammed Deeb Boy 17
Mohammed Eid Boy 18
Mustafa Moeen Deeb Boy 12
Noor Moeen Deeb Boy 2
Youssef Saad Al-Kahloot Boy 17
Youssef Mohammed Al-Daya Boy 1
07/01/2009 Ibrahim Kamal Awaja Boy 9
Ahmed Jaber Howeij Boy 7
Ahmed Fawzi Labad Boy 18
Ayman Al-Bayed Boy 16
Amal Khaled Abed Rabbo Girl 3
Toufic Khaled Al-Khahloot Boy 10
Habeeb Khaled Al-Khahloot Boy 12
Houssam Raed Sobeh Boy 12
Hassan Rateb Semaan Boy 18
Hassan Ata Hassan Azzam Boy 2
Redwan Mohammed Ashoor Boy 10
Suad Khaled Abed Rabbo Girl 6
Samar Khaled Abed Rabbo Girl 2
Abdul Rahman Mohammmed Ashoor Boy 12
Fareed Ata Hassan Azzam Boy 13
Mohammed Khaled Al-Kahloot Boy 15
Mohammed Samir Hijji Boy 16
Mohammed Fareed Al-Maasawabi Boy 16
Mohammed Moeen Deeb Boy 17
Mohammed Nasseem Salama Saba Boy 16
Mahmoud Hameed Boy 17
Hamam Issa Boy 1
08/01/2009 Anas Arif Abou Baraka Boy 7
Ibrahim Akram Abou Dakkka Boy 12
Ibrahim Moeen Jiha Boy 15
Baraa Iyad Shalha Girl 6
Basma Yasser Al-Jeblawi Girl 5
Shahd Saad Abou Haleema Girl 15
Azmi Diab Boy 16
Mohammed Akram Abou Dakka Boy 14
Mohammed Hikmat Abou Haleema Boy 17
Ibrahim Moeen Jiha Boy 15
Matar Saad Abou Haleema Boy 17
09/01/2009 Ahmed Ibrahim Abou Kleik Boy 17
Ismail Ayman Yasseen Boy 18
Alaa Ahmed Jaber Girl 11
Baha-Uldeen Fayez Salha Girl 5
Rana Fayez Salha Girl 12
Rola Fayez Salha Girl 13
Diyaa-Uldeen Fayez Salah Boy 14
Ghanima Sultan Halawa Girl 11
Fatima Raed Jadullah Girl 10
Mohammed Atef Abou Al-Hussna Boy 15


Killed by Israel, Eaten by Dogs

Killed by Israel, Eaten by Dogs

Ola Attallah, IOL Correspondent

Jan 15, 2009

GAZA CITY – “Oh, God! I have never seen such a terrible scene,” cried Kayed Abu Aukal.

The emergency doctor could not believe himself seeing the remains of what was days back Shahd, a full-fleshed 4-year-old Palestinian girl.

She died when an Israeli shell was fired at the backyard of her home in the Jabalya refugee camp northern Gaza strip, where she was playing.

When her parents attempted to rush to the rescue of their kid, who fell to the ground amid a pool of her blood, rains of Israeli bullets kept them a distance.

For the next five days Shahd’s which was left lying in the open left for dogs to tear out.

“The dogs did leave one single part of the poor baby’s body intact,” said a tearful Abu Aukal.

“We have seen heart-breaking scenes over the past 18 days. We picked up children whose bodies were torn or burnt, but nothing like this.”

For five days Shahd’s brother, Matar, and cousin, Mohamed, tried in vain to reach her body. They were fired at by the Israeli occupation forces every time.

Seeing the body of the little angel torn to piece by the assaulting dogs, the two made one final attempt, and it was their last.

They were showered by Israeli bullets before they could reach Shahd’s body, joining a long list of more than 920 Palestinians killed by Israel since December 27.

Deliberate

Omran Zayda, a young neighbor, said the Israelis knew very well what they were doing.

“They chased her family and prevented them from reaching to her body, knowing that the dogs would eat it,” he said.

“They are not just killing our children, they are intentionally doing so in the most heinous and inhuman ways.”

Zayda said words, and even cameras, can not describe the horrific scene.

“You can never imagine what the dogs have done to her innocent body,” he said, fighting back his tears.

Many Palestinians insist Shahd was not the first or only such case.

In Jabalya, when Abd Rabu’s family was trying to bury three of its dead, the Israeli forces started firing at them, witnesses said.

They then released their dogs at the bodies, deserted by mourners who sought shelter from the Israeli gunfire, they added.

“What happened was awful and unthinkable,” Saad Abd Rabu, the deceased uncle, told IOL.

“Our sons died before our eyes and we were even prevented from burying them,” he cried.

“The Israelis just released their dogs at their bodies, as even they have not done enough.”

Jewish leaders fault Israeli leader for not sticking to the code of silence

Jewish leaders fault Israeli leader for not

sticking to the code of silence

omerta: A code of silence amongst members of a criminal organization (especially the Mafia) that forbids divulging insider secrets to law enforcement.

The biggest non-no in the criminal world is to snitch, to tell, to let the cat out of the bag, to spill the beans, to GO PUBLIC with what’s considered a private affair.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Israel’s combined propaganda/intelligence/police brainwashing arm of Israeli interests in America, is a large part of the criminal enterprise known as Zionism with an almost 100 year history of interfering in American life. In the below article from The Forward, the oldest Jewish publication in America, the ADL’s Glorious Leader Abe Foxman lets the cat out of the bag about letting the cat out of the bag.

Abe, move to Israel and stay there. Thanks.

Olmert’s Boast of ‘Shaming’ Rice Provokes Diplomatic Furor

‘The Mistake Was To Talk About It In Public,’ One Critic Says

By Nathan Guttman
Thu. Jan 15, 2009

Washington — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert didn’t do anything wrong — but he should have kept his mouth shut.

That was the reaction of several Jewish leaders to Olmert’s public boast January 11. He said he left Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “shamed” by getting President Bush to block her at the last moment from voting for a Gaza cease-fire resolution that she herself had hammered out over several days with Arab and European diplomats at the United Nations.

Olmert bragged of having pulled Bush off a stage during a speech when he called on the phone and demanded the president’s intervention. Administration officials, however, have sharply challenged Olmert’s account.

“I have no problem with what Olmert did,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “I think the mistake was to talk about it in public.

“This is what friendships are about. He was not interfering in political issues. You have a relationship, and if you don’t like what is being done, then you go to the boss and tell him.”

Douglas Bloomfield, a former chief lobbyist for the Washington-based pro-Israel lobby the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, dismissed the episode as “a spitting match between two lame ducks.”

“This reinforces the perception that the Israeli prime minister and Israeli leaders have easy access to the leaders of the U.S.,” Bloomfield said. “It is a fact that the Israeli prime minister can get the president on the phone. Not every prime minister in the world can do that. It is no secret that Israel tried to influence the U.S. regarding U.N. votes. It reinforces what the rivals of Israel say about the enormous clout Israel has in Washington, and I see nothing wrong with that.”

But Bloomfield added, “It is a mistake to talk about it.”

Rice, according to press reports, worked hard with Arab and European diplomats to come up with a Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza that all could support. She finally gave her approval to a draft calling for an “immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.”

But the January 8 vote was delayed just before it was to take place, as Rice was called away to the phone. When she returned, she abstained on behalf of the United States — contrary, other diplomats said, to her earlier commitment. The measure, Resolution 1860, was adopted 14-0, with only America in abstention.

In public remarks afterward, Rice stressed that her government nevertheless strongly supported the resolution.

“We decided that this resolution, the text of which we support, the goals of which we support and the objectives that we fully support, should indeed be allowed to go forward. I believe in doing so, the council has provided a roadmap for a sustainable, durable peace in Gaza,” Rice said after the January 8 vote, explaining America’s decision to abstain.

Olmert’s call to Bush aside, there were hints of internal wrangling within America’s administration over the resolution. In a January 11 CNN interview, Vice President Dick Cheney voiced disbelief in the U.N.’s ability to end the fighting in Gaza. “I think we’ve learned, from watching over the years, that there’s a big difference between what happens at the United Nations in their debates and the facts on the ground in major crises around the world,” Cheney said.

Israel and Jewish groups, including Aipac, the ADL and the American Jewish Committee, opposed the draft’s language, which they saw as one-sided. They also felt that the draft stood in contrast to Israel’s demand not to give it equal standing with Hamas in the resolution.

During a January 5 conference call with Jewish activists, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, gave special priority to blocking the international body from taking a stand on the Gaza issue. “We need to work hard to ensure the Security Council doesn’t pass a resolution,” Hoenlein said.

It was in Ashkelon, in southern Israel, that Olmert gave a speech in which he said that on hearing of the draft that Rice had developed with her U.N. colleagues, he immediately called Bush, just minutes before the U.N. vote. He was told that Bush was giving a speech in Philadelphia and could not talk.

“I said, I don’t care; I have to talk to him,” Olmert told the crowd, which included reporters and TV cameras.

Bush, according to Olmert, was called off the podium and immediately agreed to look into the issue. “He 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, and abstained on a resolution she arranged,” Olmert told the crowd.

A furious White House and State Department condemned Olmert’s account as inaccurate, and the State Department called it “totally, completely untrue.” Rice termed it “a fiction.”

In a January 13 press briefing, spokesman Sean McCormack said Rice had decided a day before the vote that she would not veto the resolution. McCormack also stated that Rice made the choice to abstain after she consulted with National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and with Bush.

The decision by Rice not to outright veto the January 8 Security Council resolution, as the United States has the power to do under Security Council rules, triggered angry and unusual criticism from Jewish groups that have praised Bush during most of his eight-year White House tenure.

Aipac issued a statement January 6 condemning the U.N. resolution and criticizing the Bush administration for not using its veto power and instead “succumbing to pressure exerted by Arab states.”

The ADL expressed disappointment with the administration in a written statement: “We expected the Administration to abide by its longstanding commitment to fighting global terrorism and the scourge of anti-Semitism, and Israel’s role on the front lines of that fight.”

The tough words from Israel and Jewish groups toward the outgoing administration will make little difference for Bush and Rice, who leave office January 20. But they will serve as a message to the incoming administration led by President-elect Barack Obama and his choice for secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“This is a battle that needed to be taken,” Foxman said. “We don’t win all our battles, but we can’t simply accept that the Security Council is what the Security Council is.”

US, Israel seek Palestinian Authority’s return to Gaza

US, Israel seek Palestinian Authority’s return to Gaza

WASHINGTON – With a ceasefire shaping up, the United States and Israel seem to be trying to oust Hamas from the Gaza Strip in order to allow the return of the US-backed Palestinian Authority of Mahmud Abbas.

Although they did not clearly say so, all the remarks on Friday from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni pointed in the same direction: the return of Abbas with international support.

“I think that there is much that can be done to begin to bring Gaza out of the dark of Hamas’s reign there and into the light of reconnecting to the very good governance that the Palestinian Authority can provide,” Rice said.

Rice was speaking before she and Livni signed an agreement aimed at preventing the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip as part of efforts to clinch a ceasefire in Israel’s three-week military offensive against Hamas.

“What we’re doing in the Gaza Strip is not against the peace process, but it serves the peace process, because the idea is that Israel starts the peace talks with the pragmatic leadership in the Palestinian Authority,” she said.

Livni has overseen the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority led by Abbas—who is also known as Abu Mazen—and his Fatah movement since they were relaunched in November 2007 under Rice.

Israel’s chief diplomat did not reply directly when asked if Israel intended to restore Abbas to power in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas has ruled since June 2007 after ousting forces loyal to Abbas.

“It’s a zero-sum game between (Hamas’s Gaza leader Ismail) Haniya and Abu Mazen, between Hamas and Fatah,” Livni said. “In order to strengthen the moderates and the legitimate government, we need to weaken the others.”

Neither Rice nor Livni explained how Abbas could retake control of the Gaza Strip without appearing to be a traitor in the court of Arab public opinion.

But Rice recalled having negotiated in 2005 an agreement over access to the Gaza Strip, which calls for the deployment of international observers and Palestinian Authority security control over the territory.

Rice’s spokesman Sean McCormack meanwhile suggested that Hamas had been “damaged” after the three-week pounding by Israeli forces.

“One thing we know for certain that we have learned from our experience in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan and elsewhere is there is not just a military solution to problems such as this, fighting terror,” McCormack told reporters.

“You also have to bring to bear building up infrastructure, building up capabilities, bringing resources to bear to help the population so that they can make a different kind of political decision,” McCormack said.

He was referring to Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006 where Palestinians voted in Hamas over Fatah.

“Because ultimately you’re not going to solve this until you have a political solution,” he said.

McCormack called for creating responsible security and other institutions like those being built in the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority has control. “That’s the model,” he added.

Meanwhile, Israel looks poised to call a unilateral halt to its offensive on Gaza after winning pledges on Friday from the United States as well as Egypt to help prevent arms smuggling into the enclave.

A senior government official said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s security cabinet is expected to vote in favor of a proposal at a meeting on Saturday night under which Israel would silence its guns even without a reciprocal agreement from Hamas.

Gaza: A pawn in the new ‘great game’

Gaza: A pawn in the new ‘great game’

By Alastair Crooke, Asia Times, January 14, 2009

As Europeans watch the humanitarian disaster in Gaza unfold on nightly news bulletins, many may wonder why this crisis seems to have left their governments groping in such apparent fumbling disarray. The answer is that it is the result of policies pulling in opposite directions – of an acute irreconcilability at the heart of their policy-making.

What has happened in Gaza was all too foreseeable. A few Israelis forewarned about this coming crisis, but the appeal of the “grand narrative” – of a global struggle between “moderates” and “extremists” – overrode their warnings to the Israeli electorate.

The thesis that literally “everything” must be done either to lever “moderates” into power, or prevent them from losing power – euphemistically called “supporting moderation” – lies at the heart of the Gaza crisis.

It is a narrative that has served Israel’s wider interests in garnering legitimacy for the Israeli campaign against Iran, and in dichotomizing the region into Westernized “moderates” and Islamist “extremists”.

Former British prime minister, and current Middle East envoy for the Quartet group of the United Nations, Tony Blair’s proselytizing around the world on this theme has been a huge asset for an Israel which aspires to become the leading member of a “moderate” bloc, rather than an isolated island in an increasingly Islamist Middle East. Yet Blair’s and other Quartet members’ attempts to fit this simplistic mechanical template over a complex Middle East, facing multiple struggles, has reduced the Palestinian crisis to being no more than a pawn in a bigger “game” of the existential global struggle against “extremism”.

But such models, once generally accepted, force a deterministic interpretation that can blind its advocates to the real results of such narrow and rigid conceptualizing: a humbled Hamas was seen to be a blow to Hezbollah, which in turn represented a blow to Syria, which weakened Iran – all of which strengthens the “moderates” and makes Israel safer.

Whether this thinking will achieve anything approaching this result remains highly improbable; but its price – Hamas clearly branded and now attacked as a part of these global forces of “extremism” – has been the foreclosure on the possibility of any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

European acquiescence to this Blairite vision of squeezing and humbling Hamas has directly contributed to the bloodshed seen in the streets of Gaza today. European leaders are complicit in creating the circumstances that led to today’s disaster.

At one level, Europeans may say they have been working diligently to pursue an Israeli-Palestinian solution, but their actions suggest the opposite – that they have been more concerned to deliver a knock-out blow to the camp of global “extremism”. Pursuing such irreconcilable ends has only succeeded both in stripping their protege Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of any popular legitimacy and in closing the path of political participation to Hamas.

They have destroyed any hope to achieve a truly national Palestinian mandate for any political solution for the foreseeable future. European “social engineering” in Gaza has created only deep division among Palestinians, and possibly pushed a Palestinian state beyond reach.

European leaders bought into this strategy, hoping to pull-off a quickie under-the-table “peace” deal with Abbas that could then be “enforced” on the Palestinians through a multi-national “peacekeeping” force.

This was to be achieved with the collaboration of Egypt and Saudi Arabia who were becoming increasingly fearful of the challenge from within their own domestic electorate and who were not adverse to seeing Hamas cornered in Gaza and “punished” by the Israelis. Stage one was to weaken Hamas; stage two to insert an armed international force into Gaza; and stage three was for Abbas’ British and United States-trained special forces to return to Gaza and resume control of the Gaza Strip. It is standard colonial technique.

Any psychologist, however, might have advised the European and US policymakers that putting one-and-a-half million Palestinians “on a diet”, as an earlier Israeli chief-of-staff to the Israeli prime minister described it, and shredding any plans or hopes that they may have had for their futures, does not make humans more docile or more moderate. After a while in the Gaza pressure-cooker, anger and despair boil up: Gaza ultimately was set to explode – one way or another.

As Gaza was squeezed to the point of desperation in the hope that its inhabitants would turn on Hamas, Britain and the US busied themselves in training a Palestinian “special forces” militia around Abbas. The force was used to suppress political activity by Hamas in the West Bank and to close down welfare and social organizations that are not aligned directly with Abbas. A policy of political “cleansing” of the West Bank, cloaked under the rhetoric of “building security institutions”, predictably has been met with an equivalent counter-reaction by Hamas in Gaza – exacerbating Palestinian divisions.

This, then, is the backdrop against which Hamas elected to decline a renewed ceasefire. To stand passive and cornered while Palestinians in Gaza were made destitute and hopeless in an extended ceasefire, and to watch as the Anglo-American political cleansing in the West Bank proceeded, simply was not feasible. European policy was not leading to a political solution, it was set on a course of self-destruction in Gaza and West Bank.

Even in the wake of this humanitarian disaster, European mediators seem more concerned to fight the global war of “moderates” versus “extremists” than to achieve a solution. Blair on Israeli television argued that the priority must be to ensure that weapons cannot continue to reach Hamas via the smuggling tunnels – or else the killing continues.

This is being said, however, at exactly the same time that Israeli officials were briefing journalists that the army began planning, training and acquiring the new weapons from the US for this assault – even as the terms of the past ceasefire were still to be agreed with Hamas.

The hold of this moderate/extremist mindset over Europeans and Americans suggests that Europeans again will acquiesce to ceasefire aims intended to hollow out any political future for Hamas. The conflict seems set to continue, but the outlines of a new ceasefire are available today if anyone chooses to pursue them.

The border crossings must be fully opened and life for Gazans must be returned to normality. On this basis, a stable ceasefire could be agreed on. Palestinian unity will be achieved only by opening Palestinian leadership institutions, including the Palestinian Liberation Organization, to radical reforms that will make them genuinely representative of the Palestinian people – and not through the political cleansing of Hamas from the political arena.

Repeated Western attempts to lay a template that has persistently misconceived where the real risk of extremism lies in Islamism, and miscast immoderates as the moderates, has so far only served to light the fires of extremism, rather than extinguish them.

Alastair Crooke is co-director of Conflicts Forum. He was formerly an EU mediator with Hamas and other Islamist movements and is author of Resistance: The Essence of the Islamist Revolution to be published in the UK in February and the US in March 2009.