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Israel strikes Hard at Hamas In Gaza- Dec/ 27/ 2008

Given, and I've calmed down a bit.  At no point did I ever take a "fukkitt, they're Palestinians, they deserve it" attitude.  I've never been to the ltterbox, but I was one of the first 100 UN troops into Croatia in '92, and was on the recce to Vukovar (google it).  I've seen plenty of civilian suffering from indiscriminate applications of HE and SA, enough to keep me up at night, and to think I was being flipant is a pretty galling insult.
Kirkhill said:

Kat, in fairness, this is how he opened his side of the discussion

Unfortunately Rodders, when you wade in with an opening line of "you pi$$ me off", you are more than likely to be greeted in kind.

These guys, and women, round here are probably a whole lot more familiar than you with the concept of civilians in a war zone - and the consequences.  That is certainly true of Overwatch Downunder.

Hey! I'm not saying I possess the experience or the knowledge to surpass anyone here. I never stated any personal insight, knowledge or experience. I simply made a statement, and then it was assumed that I condemned Israel, that I supported Hamas, and that I have some hidden "agenda". None of the above are the case.

I have been reading this board for a very long time, and have posted when I really felt compelled to do so. I have seen what has sometimes become of new posters, so I post with great trepidation. And now I remember why.

I don't mind a good debate, but when people reply based upon assumptions, and assume that because I haven't filled out my profile to their satisfaction, that I have something to hide, that's not debating.

Sorry for the rant. I very much enjoy this site, and visit it daily.

Happy New Years to all!
I have reviewed this entire thread at some length, and am thoroughly baffled by the turn that it has taken. Several of you should also review the whole thing, and actually read what is being said, before the lock is lifted. This topic is worthy of discussion, and we do not need to see it go downhill again or anybody in the warning system.

Yes, it is sometimes easy to misinterpret things said on the internet, but much of what has been said yet misrepresented by others seems pretty clear to me.

This is where it appeared to first go wrong:

Shec said:
Given geographic density it is reasonable to presume that if Israel's targetting had been somewhat less surgical a hell of a lot more than 270 odd pals would be meeting 72 virgins right now.

That post is factually accurate, if stated in a less-than-politically-correct manner. I took no offence from it - many of us have somewhat dark senses of humour.

But, someone did...

It happens sometimes.

Rodders said:
You know, this is the kind of post that really pi$$es me off!

I see that as a mild over-reaction or misunderstanding. I believe that more was read into Shec's post by Rodders than was really there.

Rodders said:
do the deaths of civilians who have not engaged in rocket attacks against Israel warrant such a cold and dismissive comment as that made above?

Was Shec "cold and dismissive"? I can be flippant, too, but that does not necessarily mean that I am cold and callous. I do not know Shec, but I see no indication that he is either.

Anyway, that was mild, and it should have ended there. It got worse.

Elsewhere in the post from which I took those two quotes, Rodders says - quite clearly:

Rodders said:
First off, I don't fault Israel for its actions, and I think they are justified. Hamas was killing it's civilians, so Israel has every right to defend it's territory and it's people.

Got that? No blaming Israel for defending itself, Israel is justified, Israel has every right to defend its territory and its people.

Does everybody that was getting so upset with him understand that?

It seems pretty straight forward to me.

He even made similar statements several times.

He also challenged his attackers to find anything in his posts which said anything to the contrary, again, several times.

Despite continuing attacks upon him for things that he never said, nobody found anything in response to his repeated challenge.


I could not, either. And I looked.

Meanwhile, the disagreement with what he was not saying and the agreement with what he was saying just got ridiculous.

He lamented the loss of innocent lives in that post, and suggested that perhaps not all of the dead were Hamas supporters, and that their deaths were, therefore, unfortunate.

I agree with that.

Who here does not?

Who here thinks that all of these people deserved to die?

Who thinks that every single one was an active Hamas supporter?

Who here does not regret the deaths of innocents, even if only one or two of the total were such?

Some - many - of those killed were innocent. I, too, regret their deaths.

I also realize, as does Rodders, that Israel has no choice.

As for the profile issue, there is no requirement, as G2G has pointed out, to fill one out. Yes, it helps with credibility at times, but there is nothing in any of Rodders' posts where service would add any and a sketchy profile is, therefore, irrelevant.

Israel allows Palestinian holders of foreign passports to flee Gaza fighting
By Associated Press
January 1, 2009

EREZ CROSSING, Israel (AP) — Israeli officials say they are allowing dozens of Palestinian holders of foreign passports to flee the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Army spokesman Peter Lerner says nearly 300 Palestinians are pouring through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing Friday morning.

He says the Palestinians hold citizenship from a number of other countries, including the U.S., Russia, Turkey and Kazakhstan.

For nearly a week, Israel has been bombing targets linked to the ruling Hamas militant group in Gaza. More than 400 Palestinians have been killed, and dozens of buildings have been damaged or destroyed.
Army.ca members are not the only ones who can move a discussion downhill, fast.

In the USA the B C List celebrities are also weighing in - see "i told my friend don't go!"

I only found this because my local radio station thought (thought?) fit to include Ms. Barr's commentary as a 'news' item. Must be a really slow news day or America's obsession with even the most minor celebrity means that we are, indeed, doomed. 
I wonder how many hold an Canadian Passport out of convenience  ::)  I just hope I don't hear that Canada is going to rescue these people, as they made their own choice to live there, and not in our country (not including Government/large Corporations that may have people in the country).

E.R. Campbell said:
Army.ca members are not the only ones who can move a discussion downhill, fast.

In the USA the B C List celebrities are also weighing in - see "i told my friend don't go!"

I only found this because my local radio station thought (thought?) fit to include Ms. Barr's commentary as a 'news' item. Must be a really slow news day or America's obsession with even the most minor celebrity means that we are, indeed, doomed.   

It seems that as Roseanne Barr's recent gambit for stardom crashed and burned she launched her own Operation Cast Tripe.   Excerpts From my buddy's daily e-diary:

"... last week they ran her “COMEBACK” stand up show on the local TV. And within 10 minutes of the start 99% of Israelis that were watching it had either changed the channel, turned off the TV and went to bed, or sat there wishing a Hamas suicide bomber would take them to their graves as this fat whale flopped like a hooked mullet on stage, So it seems to me she heard the reviews  and is countering with “NAZI STATE".   I’ve heard from a few folks that said to me the “This was the funniest thing she has ever said” and I tend to agree with them on the facts!..."

I trust no one will be offended by the black humour. 
Looking at Roseanne Barr's comments, I don't think it will be long before she become branded as "Antisemitic".  At the very least, someone who should be locked up, as it would appear that she has lost some of her faculties.......if she had any.
Wow, there is a severely wobbly wheel on her apple cart, isn't there?

EDIT*  Pretty hard for her to be anti-semitic, she's Jewish, I believe.
E.R. Campbell said:
Army.ca members are not the only ones who can move a discussion downhill, fast.

In the USA the B C List celebrities are also weighing in - see "i told my friend don't go!"

I only found this because my local radio station thought (thought?) fit to include Ms. Barr's commentary as a 'news' item. Must be a really slow news day or America's obsession with even the most minor celebrity means that we are, indeed, doomed.   

Edward, curse you, I think I just became a little bit stupider by reading some of Ms. Barr's blog...  :-\

Great 'street gang' analogy, Roseanne -- indeed, the Bloods and Crips regularly launch Katyusha rockets at each other in L.A. in a manner similar to other 'street gangs' like Hamas (I think she actually meant the fighting faction Hezbollah, as opposed to the elected party Hamas, but don't let a small thing like detail get in the way of something called accuracy)....  ::)
Google's new motto: "Do Evil"


IDF Takes to, and Fights YouTube
December 30th, 2008

Military propaganda efforts in new media can be entertaining to watch, the U.S. Department of Defense has its Multinational Force Iraq (MNFIRAQ) YouTube channel. Iraqi insurgents and other terrorist organizations have an online video operation in the form of attack videos uploaded to YouTube and across the web. Palestinian militant group Hamas had a YouTube clone until it was recently shut down, and now the Israel Defense Forces have taken to YouTube.

But how do you determine what can stay and what can go? YouTube has taken steps to remove content from militant organizations that post videos of attacks on American soliders in Iraq and propaganda posted by terrorist organizations. Now they have taken the step of removing IDF videos of Israeli operations in Gaza - one with more than 10,000 views.

From the IDF YouTube channel:

    We are saddened that YouTube has taken down some of our exclusive footage showing the IDF’s operational success in operation Cast Lead against Hamas extremists in the Gaza Strip. As the State of Israel again faces those who would see it destroyed, it is imperative that we in the IDF show the world the inhumanity directed against us and our efforts to stop it. It is also worth noting that one of the videos removed had the highest number of hits (over 10,000) at the time of its removal.

Jewish Daily Forward reports

    The removal appears to have been the result of a function of YouTube, which flags videos when a certain threshold of complaints is passed and routes them to an employee who decides whether or not to remove them. Some IDF videos showing footage of bombings were allowed to remain, apparently because they did not pass the threshold of complaints.

So YouTube is now employing a combination of crowdsourcing and a human censor to determine what is worthy of calling a TOS violation, but what if it’s news? It’s a thin line - how do you make that call?
Palestinians with foreign passports cross into Israel, fleeing Gaza bloodshed

By ARON HELLER | Associated Press Writer
    12:37 PM CST, January 2, 2009
EREZ CROSSING, Israel (AP) — Israel allowed nearly 300 Palestinians with foreign passports to leave besieged Gaza Friday after pleas from other governments to let them go.

The Gazans were notified Thursday by foreign consulates that they were being evacuated, though some stayed behind. Those who left crossed into Israel then boarded buses to Jordan en route to other countries.

"These are people who are not part of the fighting, they are not part of the equation. They have no affiliation with Hamas," Israeli military liaison officer Maj. Aviad Zilberman said. "This move is part of our humanitarian assistance to the civilian population."

More than 400 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed in a week-old offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers triggered by an escalation of militant rocket fire at Israel. The U.N. estimated Friday that a quarter of the Palestinians killed were civilians.

Gaza teenager Jawaher Hajji, who lost two close relatives in the past week, was one of 270 Palestinians who left.

"There is no water, no electricity, no medicine. It's hard to survive. Gaza is destroyed," said Hajji, 14, who has U.S. citizenship. "There is no place to hide."

Hajji said her uncle was killed in one of the first strikes while getting medicine for her cancer-stricken father, who died of his illness a few days later. She said their home east of Gaza City was destroyed and a classmate was also killed.

"They are supposed to destroy just the Hamas, but people in their homes are dying too," she said at the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel.

Children cried at the crossing as they were processed by diplomatic officials from various countries. Then they boarded buses to Amman, Jordan. Hajji said she, her mother and five siblings would fly to family in Virginia from there.

Hajji's 13-year-old sister, Nashwa, said they were both born in the U.S. and had family there and in Canada. They moved to the Gaza Strip three years ago, and she said life was rather comfortable until the Israeli offensive began.

She said the Israeli military had called their home before attacking it, telling residents to leave for their own safety. She said her family did, but others refused.

"People said 'We don't want to go. We will die where we are,'" Nashwa Hajji said.

Those who left hold citizenship from the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Norway, Kazakhstan and other countries. Foreign women married to Palestinians were among those leaving.

In Washington, the State Department said it had assisted 27 American citizens and members of their immediate families to leave Gaza on Friday and stood ready to help others. Department officials said earlier this week they were aware of about 30 Americans in Gaza but that there could be others.

"I believe there are still Americans citizens left in Gaza," spokesman Gordon Duguid told reporters.

At the Erez crossing, Caroline Katba, 15, said her family emerged unscathed from explosions near their home. She said she, her Russian-born mother and three siblings would be fleeing to Russia to join other family members. But her Palestinian father, who did not have a foreign passport, was not allowed to leave.

"I feel happy and sad. Happy, because I am going to Russia, and sad, because my father is left behind," she said.

Despite the upheaval, Jawaher Hajji seemed calm and composed. She spoke confidently.

"I have to forget what happened. I have to be strong and happy or we will lose," she said.
Bush says Hamas attacks on Israel an 'act of terror'; outlines conditions for Gaza cease-fire

By BEN FELLER | Associated Press Writer
    11:47 PM CST, January 2, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) — President George W. Bush on Friday branded the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel an "act of terror" and outlined his own 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.

Bush chose his weekly taped radio address to speak for the first time about one of the bloodiest Mideast clashes in decades. It began a week ago. Israeli warplanes have rained bombs on Gaza, targeting the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which has traumatized southern Israel with intensifying rocket attacks.

"The United States is leading diplomatic efforts to achieve a meaningful cease-fire that is fully respected," Bush said. "Another one-way cease-fire that leads to rocket attacks on Israel is not acceptable. And promises from Hamas will not suffice — there must be monitoring mechanisms in place to help ensure that smuggling of weapons to terrorist groups in Gaza comes to an end."

The White House released Bush's radio address a day early. It airs on Saturday morning.

Despite Bush's account of a U.S. leadership role, with time running out on his presidency, the administration seemed increasingly ready Friday to let the crisis in Gaza shift to President-elect Barack Obama. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice briefed Bush on developments in Gaza, and she continued furious telephone diplomacy to arrange a truce. Yet, she said she had no plans to make an emergency visit to the region.

More than 400 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed in the latest offensive. The U.N. estimated Friday that a quarter of the Palestinians killed were civilians. In their waning days in power, Bush and Rice have been working the phones with world allies.

Bush offered no criticism of Israel, depicting the country's air assaults as a response to the attacks on its people. The White House will not comment on whether it views the Israeli response as proportionate or not to the scope of rockets attacks on Israel.

"This recent outburst of violence was instigated by Hamas — a Palestinian terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria that calls for Israel's destruction," Bush said.

The president said Hamas ultimately ended the latest cease-fire on Dec. 19 and "soon unleashed a barrage of rockets and mortars that deliberately targeted innocent Israelis — an act of terror that is opposed by the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people, President (Mahmoud) Abbas."

Hamas-run Gaza has been largely isolated from the rest of the world since the Islamic militants won parliamentary elections in 2006. Then Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, expelling forces loyal to the moderate Abbas.

Bush expressed deep concern about the humanitarian suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza. U.N. officials say Gaza's 1.5 million residents face an alarming situation under constant Israeli bombardment, with hospitals overcrowded and both fuel and food supplies growing scarce.

"By spending its resources on rocket launchers instead of roads and schools, Hamas has demonstrated that it has no intention of serving the Palestinian people," Bush said. "America has helped by providing tens of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid, and this week we contributed an additional $85 million through the United Nations. We have consistently called on all in the region to ensure that assistance reaches those in need."

The White House has cautiously said Israel must be mindful of the toll its military strikes will have on civilians. Here, too, Bush blamed Hamas for hiding within the civilian population. "Regrettably, Palestinian civilians have been killed in recent days," he said.

International calls for a cease-fire have been growing. Bush promised to stay engaged with U.S. partners in the Middle East and Europe and keep Obama updated. Obama is receiving the same intelligence reports on Gaza that Bush is.

Rice has spoken to both Obama and his choice for secretary of state, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, about the situation at least once in the last week. Obama and Clinton have remained mum out of deference to Bush, who still has 18 days in office.

There have been growing calls for Rice to intervene with Israel in person amid rising international concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza. Her decision to stay away will likely disappoint those calling for a more robust U.S. role, particularly as French President Nicolas Sarkozy intends visit the region next week.

In recent days, U.S. officials had said that a Rice trip to the Middle East, as a first stop on a long-planned visit to China next week, was under consideration. But those officials said Friday that Rice would stay in Washington. They spoke on condition of anonymity because an announcement is not expected before the weekend.
Hamas warns against ground attack
05:59 GMT, Saturday, 3 January 2009

The Hamas leader-in-exile, Khaled Meshaal, has warned Israel that it would face a "black destiny" if it launched a ground offensive on Gaza.

Speaking publicly for the first time since Israeli air strikes started a week ago, he said Hamas resistance and infrastructure were intact.

His remarks came as the UN warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The UN said it believed 25% of more than 400 Palestinians killed by Israeli action so far were civilians.

Meanwhile President George W. Bush has blamed the Hamas movement for the violence, describing rocket attacks on Israel as an act of terror.

He added that no peace deal would be acceptable without monitoring to halt the flow of smuggled weapons to what he called Palestinian terrorist groups.

Israeli air strikes on Gaza continued early on Saturday.

Israel has threatened to launch a ground offensive. It has called up army reservists, and tanks and troops are massed on the Gaza frontier.

BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen says a week of bombardment has not been able stop militant rocket attacks, and Israel now has to decide whether to send in ground troops.


In a pre-recorded statement broadcast on al-Jazeera TV, Damascus-based Khaled Meshaal, said Israel would be making a "foolish mistake" if it sent tanks into Gaza.

"We will not break, we will not surrender or give in to your conditions," Mr Meshaal said in a speech aimed at the Israelis, the Palestinians and the wider Muslim world.

Al-Jazeera reaches millions of people across the Arabic-speaking world in the Middle East and beyond.

To them, Mr Meshaal said this was not a battle against Hamas alone, but against the entire umma, or nation - analysts say an apparent reference to a populist Islamist idea that the Palestinians are defending the Muslim world against a modern form of Crusades.

The UN said the Israeli military escalated its offensive against the Hamas leadership in Gaza on Friday, targeting the homes of more than 20 Hamas officials in its latest air strikes.

In response, Palestinian militants fired on Israel, launching more than 60 missiles in 24 hours, injuring four people in the southern city of Ashkelon.

Four Israelis have been killed so far by militant rocket fire.

Humanitarian crisis

Earlier on Friday, five Palestinian civilians - including three children - were killed in an Israeli strike on Gaza.

The UN says up to 421 Palestinians may have been killed by Israeli action so far and more than 2,000 injured - though it says it cannot confirm those figures.

Israel is refusing to let international journalists into Gaza, despite a Supreme Court ruling to allow a limited number of reporters to enter the territory.

The UN says the week-long assault has worsened the crisis in Gaza, despite an increase in humanitarian shipments.

Israel tightened its control of what gets in and out of the crowded coastal Strip after Hamas, the elected power, seized control of the area from rival Fatah forces 18 months ago.

Since then, the UN says there has been a significant deterioration in infrastructure and basic services, with 80% of the 1.4m population unable to support themselves.

In a statement, the Israeli foreign ministry said it was working with international organisations in Gaza as well as various governments "in order to assess the humanitarian needs... and make the necessary response".

All reports indicate that there is sufficient medicine and food in Gaza, the statement read.

'Pressure Hamas'

In his weekly radio address President Bush said Hamas was responsible for the latest violence and rejected a unilateral ceasefire that he said would allow Hamas to continue to fire on Israel.

And he called for tougher action to prevent Hamas and other groups from receiving weapons.

"There must be monitoring mechanisms in place to help ensure the smuggling of weapons to terrorist groups in Gaza comes to an end," he said.

"I urge all parties to pressure Hamas to turn away from terror and to support legitimate Palestinian leaders working for peace," Mr Bush added.
old medic said:
Palestinians with foreign passports cross into Israel, fleeing Gaza bloodshed

By ARON HELLER | Associated Press Writer
    12:37 PM CST, January 2, 2009

1. GOOD !, let die where they stand, at least you can credit them on principle and conviction.

2.Boy are we SUCKERS here in North America. We hunt and round illegal Aliens from south of the Border who toil in our Fields and Orchards to feed us and toil at jobs no Canadian or American would touch with a ten foot pole. Yet we can hand out Green Cards and Cizenships to Countless milions who couldn't care less about Canada or the U.S.A, until its convenient or their asses are on fire.

3. These are the same people who danced in the street and cafes on 9/11. Yes that's right,

4. In a shooting war, either your on my side or the other, I couldn't care less who gets in the way of my fire when the bullets are zipping by my head.

5. Its a pity that we can't round up all the So called Intellectuals, PC , Milksops, Bleeding Hearts and Do Gooders and ship them over there and see how they handle it as the Hamas Rockets rain down on them daily. If you belong to any of the forementioned and wish to rag on this post, Please Do, at least you'll be identifying your selves, more than your Profiles do.
OK FastEddy, for this little rant you are going up the warning system.  You've been on Verbal, now you move up to Recorded Warning.

The Milnet.ca Staff
Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Globe and Mail, is an essay/opinion piece by a retired Canadian diplomat that, I suspect pretty much reflects the position that official Ottawa (the PCO’s Foreign and Defence Policy team and DFAIT) present to Prime Minister Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister Cannon:

Pathless in Gaza
Ceasefire, reoccupation, pulling up Hamas by the roots - none of these options offers a solution


From Saturday's Globe and Mail
January 2, 2009 at 10:32 PM EST

The imbalance of casualties in the tragic confrontation between Hamas and Israel is stark. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed or injured, from toddlers to the aged. Television footage suggests almost all are innocents. Israeli spokespeople dispute that impression and speak in frigid terms of "collateral damage," meaning everything from the destruction of mosques to the loss of civilian lives. Viewers react with outrage, as is only human. Compared with Palestinian losses, Israeli victims of Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets are few. There is a lurid sense of disproportion. Many, including reflective Israelis, question the morality of their government's action. Many question its effectiveness.

The Israeli government was placed in an impossible situation when Hamas refused to renew its six-month-old ceasefire on Dec. 19. From that day on, Hamas has laid down an array of rockets and increasingly sophisticated missiles, with a range reaching Ashdod and Beersheva, some 46 kilometres away from the Gaza border. This raises the question whether Tel Aviv itself could be vulnerable. Even the most placid of governments would have to react in order to survive. And the Israelis have done so, massively.


Israel will hold a general election on Feb. 10. Most polls show that the right-wing Likud opposition leader and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to come to power. A weak-willed reaction to Hamas's rocket attacks would have exposed the present government to sharp criticism from Mr. Netanyahu, against the background of a frustrated and angry populace. It would have opened the governing coalition's departing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the Kadima Party's new leader, and, most of all, Ehud Barak, the Defence Minister and Leader of the formerly dominant Labour Party, to devastating criticism and their portrayal as leaders unable to safeguard their country's most basic interests. Inaction would have meant humiliation for Mr. Olmert, electoral defeat for Ms. Livni and the end of Mr. Barak's political career.

Reverberations from the debacle of the 2006 war in Lebanon are keenly felt. There is no room for a second failure. Contingency planning had been under way for more than six months. Many politicians and military commanders have limited objectives. They want to weaken Hamas as a guerrilla organization and force it to give up the missile threat, but leave its domestic rule in Gaza intact. Mr. Barak's chief of staff, Brigadier-General Mike Herzog, has been explicit. He says the aim of Operation Cast Lead is strictly confined to creating deterrence and forcing a sustainable ceasefire. His candour has been ill received in some military circles.

These officers worry that leaving Hamas intact, even if seriously weakened, would be only a temporary palliative. They believe Hamas would spring back with newfound support from the Palestinian and Arab grassroots, much as Hezbollah did in Lebanon. Hamas members claim to have driven Israeli soldiers and settlers out of Gaza in 2005, restoring Palestinian honour. The current confrontation, for them, is simply a continuation of that struggle against what they call Zionist aggression. Hamas will reinforce its inflammatory rhetoric aimed at discrediting the mainstream Fatah movement, depicting it as not capable of carrying the Palestinian banner to a satisfactory end.


Given Hamas's ambitions, some Israelis argue that destroying infrastructure in Gaza and killing off its leadership will not be enough. They say Israel must go further. The assassination on New Year's Day of the senior Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan does not change the equation for these skeptics. They cite the March, 2004, assassination by Israel of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, Hamas's leader at the time. Those who argued then that pinpoint assassinations would decapitate Hamas have long since been proved wrong, as the past weeks' events vividly demonstrate. What is needed now, hard-line skeptics say, is boots on the ground, to eliminate the entire Hamas organization, root and branch.

Even if Hamas were extirpated, the question remains who would take over. The Palestinian Authority and Fatah are too weak. The Israelis will never pay the physical, moral and emotional cost of renewing the occupation. The Egyptians will not take on the impossible burden of trying to govern Gaza. Israeli hopes for a strong international presence are naive. They are in a Catch-22 dilemma.


In Israel, the military action has thus far been portrayed as a success. The domestic standing of the key ministerial and military players, particularly Ehud Barak's, has improved. But what is the Israeli exit strategy? One would have expected this to have been decided far in advance, but cracks are beginning to show in the Israeli leadership. Ehud Barak wants to consider the 48-hour ceasefire proposed by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, to test Hamas's intentions. Such a ceasefire would go some way toward meeting international and humanitarian concerns. This could then be stretched into a renewal of the six-month cessation of hostilities, should Hamas be willing. It would reduce the possibility of ground troops being caught in a quagmire. The Prime Minister's office, however, has denied that any consideration has been given to winding down. Several on the general staff agree. The debate goes on in public. Such is the chaos of Israeli politics.

No matter how much their views differ, the entire Israeli leadership knows that international pressure is on them to stop the fighting as soon as possible, if only because its continuation radicalizes the Arab and Muslim streets throughout the region. If the Sarkozy proposal develops into a six-month option, this would give them a reprieve. It would be greeted with relief by European, Arab and American leaders because it would postpone the crisis to an undefined future. President Sarkozy would have his day in the sun, the incoming Obama administration would have time to consolidate, and moderate and conservative Arab governments would get their feet out of the fire, no longer having to temporize with their own peoples. Egypt in particular is seen in much of the Arab world as a collaborator with Israel. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has publicly described Hamas as "those who are seeking political gain at the expense of the Palestinian people," while demonstrators in Cairo carry banners reading "Down with Mubarak" and "Where is the Egyptian Army?"

Always with an eye for the main chance, Mr. Sarkozy will be in Israel on Monday. Ms. Livni has just completed a visit to Paris.

The Israeli government might prefer to put such a visit off and surely would if it felt confident enough.

Ceasefires buy time. They can be a tool in conflict management but they lead to resolution only if the parties are prepared to accommodate each other's needs. That is not the case in Gaza. When former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon decided to withdraw the Israel Defence Forces from Gaza in 2005, he made that withdrawal unilateral, without co-ordination with the Palestinian Authority or outside governments. What was needed then was a carefully planned and co-ordinated action to ensure stability and decent governance in a territory where the rule of law had been notoriously weak. Israeli policy had been to break up such institutions and organizations from the time its occupation began in 1967, some 38 years before. Now that power vacuum has been filled by Hamas, as foresight would have told.


Hamas is a radical, political-Islamic organization. There are those who think that bringing its leadership into dialogue and negotiation would facilitate concord and in the longer run pave the way to a comprehensive peace between Israel and Palestine. They suggest reconciliation between Hamas, on the one hand, and the Palestinian Authority and Fatah, on the other. There is, however, nothing to indicate this is possible, except perhaps wishful thinking. Hamas and Fatah are rivals for the ragged mantle of Palestine in both the West Bank and Gaza. Fissures run deep. Philosophies differ markedly and personal antagonisms are pervasive. These rivals will not work together, nor can Hamas, which rejects the very concept of a Jewish state, be trusted to negotiate in good faith.

If there are Palestinian partners for peace, they are the Palestinian Authority and Fatah, despite their many imperfections and weaknesses. If Western countries ever want to see peace in the Middle East, they must embolden Israelis to meet the basic needs of Palestinians for dignity and self-respect. Without real movement on West Bank roadblocks, Israeli settlements and the prospect of real independence, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his supporters will be viewed more and more as Israeli quislings. Moderates must be bolstered and empowered. They must be seen by their populations as able to deliver on basic aspirations. Only in this way will extremism lose its appeal. Without profound changes in the way we think about accommodation and peace, the current Gaza confrontation will be nothing but a bridge on the road to the next bloodletting.

Michael Bell is a former Canadian ambassador to Israel, the Palestinian territories, Egypt and Jordan. He is also Paul Martin Senior Scholar in Diplomacy at the University of Windsor.


Prof. Bell’s opening paragraph is, I believe, a pretty fair summary of the (nearly) global media/commentariat and, therefore, public reaction. We, broadly, are offended by the apparent unfairness of it all: "Yes," we say to ourselves, "the Palestinians started it (it being this current crisis, the umpteenth of a seemingly endless number) with their rocket attacks; and yes, Israel must do something; but a casualty ratio of 100+:1 is just wrong, isn’t it?"

I think Bell’s point about the Israeli domestic politics that underlie this particular event bears consideration.

Israelis understand, I think, that they are on their own. The US, under President (elect) Obama, will continue to pour in cash but it will try – and, in my opinion inevitably FAIL - to mollify the Arab street. The EU and other ’friends’ (like Australia and Canada) will wring their hands, hang their heads and stand aside unless, like Sarkozy, there is some immediate, local political advantage in taking a stand.

There is no, not one, partner for peace for Israel anywhere in the entire Muslim ‘world.’ No Muslim leader, no matter how strong, needs Israel. All the good things that peace with Israel promised, back in the ‘70s, can be had from guilt ridden, fearful (of Muslim minorities) European governments. There is no benefit in antagonizing the Jew hating imans, mullahs and sheiks who excite the street and threaten Muslim governments from the safety of their mosques.

I am persuaded that the only sensible solution, for Israel, is a complete disconnect – a large, complete, fairly secure, high fence that separates Israel and all things Israeli (like jobs and emergency medical care) from all its neighbours. The great disconnect means that Israel must become self-reliant (no cheap Palestinian labour, for example) and must sell its goods and services in a tough, global market. The great disconnect also means that both Gaza and the West Bank become, de facto huge outdoor prisons: breeding grounds for poverty, despair, hatred and radicalism. This does no great ‘good’ for anyone, including Israel, but it appears to me to do the least harm all ‘round.

Israel is not central or even peripherally important to our foreign policy (‘our’ being that of the American led West) - except in so far as it antagonizes the Muslims. The Muslims, all 1,750,000,000± of the, are not important either – except that they produce/sell 65% of the world's light (sweet) crude oil.

(Parenthetically, Europe, Japan and China, combined, import about 40% of the total available light (sweet) crude. The EU and the USA each ‘need’ (consumption minus domestic production) 12.5 to 15 billion barrels of imported oil per day and either (maybe even, in a pinch, both) markets could be met without a drop of Arab/Muslim oil, for a while.)

Israel is a vibrant liberal democracy isolated in a sea of despotic kleptocracies and it would will be a shame to see it crumble and fail under a never-ending onslaught of Arab attacks and Western indifference.

I can see no peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli mess - not in lifetime of the grandchildren of our youngest Army.ca members.

Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Ottawa Citizen, is an OpEd piece which runs quite counter to my views, expressed just above:

The Arab-Israeli conflict is over


JANUARY 2, 2009

In decades to come, when the Middle East's history for this era is written, the current war in Gaza will be deemed a skirmish in the great Arab-Persian; Sunni-Shia; Arab nationalist-Islamist; Iran-Syria versus Egypt-Saudi Arabia conflict that is going to be the region's -- and perhaps world's -- main feature for the rest of our lifetimes.

The Arab-Israeli conflict, as it existed from 1948 to the late 1980s or thereafter, is over. Whatever they say in public, all the Arab states except for Syria have basically withdrawn from active participation. Indeed, strong statements in speeches and media have long been a substitute for action. Egypt, Jordan and the PLO signed peace agreements with Israel, which may not have yielded warm relations but certainly ended their direct involvement in any conflict. The Persian Gulf and North-African Arab states are just not focused on it.

Why has this happened? There are basically four reasons why the Middle East today is totally different from that of the previous period.

First, almost all the Arab states -- Syria being the exception -- concluded that they could not defeat and destroy Israel. This came about both due to the experience of war and the collapse of the Soviet bloc, their main ally in the conflict. To stir people's passions over an unwinnable conflict is profitable for rulers -- to distract them from their own dictatorial government -- but defeat by Israel could bring down the regimes. Even Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein turned toward trying to dominate the Persian Gulf rather than fight Israel.

Second, the Arab states have became preoccupied with other problems. Those with oil -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates -- focus on making money and enjoying the good life. Those without -- Egypt, Jordan, Morocco -- strive to survive. Both groups need good relations with the West: the poor to get aid, the rich for markets and safe places to invest.

Third, they concluded the Palestinians were incapable of defeating Israel militarily or making peace with Israel diplomatically. Once the PLO signed an agreement with Israel in 1993, intended to produce a political settlement, Arab states were freed from their obligations. They didn't even give the Palestinians much economic aid, most such help coming from the West. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was quite unpopular in the Arab world, being viewed as corrupt and untrustworthy. His successors were seen as weak. Why, they asked, should Arab rulers let Arafat and the PLO determine their policy?

Fourth, the Arab world is beset by a new conflict which takes up much of its attention and resources: the radical Islamist challenge to Arab nationalist regimes. In every country, the conflict is waged, sometimes violently, at other times through propaganda battles and electoral manoeuvres. The Palestinians, too, fought among themselves along these lines. After winning an election victory and then making a deal for a coalition government, Hamas turned on its nationalist rivals and drove them out of Gaza by force.

Every Arab state is battling Hamas's friends inside its own borders. In Lebanon, Hezbollah Shia Islamists bully Sunni Muslim, Christian and Druze rivals. Bloody civil wars between Islamists and nationalists erupted in Algeria and Egypt; terrorist campaigns swept Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Finally, the Arab states face a powerful Iranian-Syrian axis whose clients include Hezbollah, Hamas and Iraqi insurgents. This is a danger far exceeding the largely fabricated one from Israel, and Arab rulers know it. In response to the Hamas attacks on Israel, Tariq Alhomayed, editor-in-chief of Saudi newspaper, Al-Sharq al-Awsat, proclaimed that Hamas is the tool of Iran and "Iran is a real threat to Arab security, as today it launched a war against Egypt, tomorrow against Saudi Arabia, and then the whole house of cards will collapse."

That is how the current fighting is being viewed in the leading circles of the Arab world, not as an Arab-Israeli struggle but as part of the Islamist-nationalist conflict. Hamas and Hezbollah, Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit proclaimed, are at war with Egypt and want to bring war and chaos to Egypt as they have in their own countries.

Hamas and its allies see the issue in similar terms. Why, asked deputy Hezbollah leader Naim Qassem according to one translation, "is Gaza besieged? Because the people of Gaza and Palestine have rejected the humiliating political options, and have chosen the proud political option of jihad -- the option of resistance."

What does this really mean? To accept "humiliating political options" signifies a compromise peace which would gain a Palestinian state in exchange for accepting Israel's existence. It also means getting along with the West rather than fighting against it.

"Resistance" is a favourite code word coined by Syria's regime for a program of battling for decades, sacrificing many thousand lives, using terrorism, fighting wars, and staying intransigent until final, total victory is achieved. The goal is to destroy Israel, expel western influence from the Middle East, and make every regime a radical Islamist dictatorship.

Aside from the catastrophic cost and bloody defeat that this strategy entails, Mr. Qassem is leaving out a lot more. The Palestinian Authority-ruled West Bank isn't besieged, it's prospering. There's no fighting because the nationalists there don't glorify the sacrifice of everything to carry out an ultimately losing jihad.

Inasmuch as the West rescues Hamas from its own mistakes, the result will be strengthening radical forces throughout the region, demoralizing moderates, and ensuring even more violence and suffering in the future. Vladimir Lenin, leader of the previous big revolutionary movement, Communism, predicted that democratic states would sell their enemies the rope that would be used to hang themselves. Radical Islamists are counting on it. Relatively moderate Arab nationalists fear it. Israel is fighting to prevent it.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader; The Truth About Syria; and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen


While I agree that the Shia/Sunni, etc, fractures are serious problems for the Arabs and for all Muslims, I am not persuaded that Arab states will not continue to want to use Israel as a target for the wrath of their own peoples for decades to come. Israel is a convenient whipping boy for all the Arab despots - and supporting anti-Israel movements keeps the focus away from the inept, corrupt Arab dictatorships - pretty much all of the Arab states.

I suspect, to our detriment, something theocratic related will unite the Arab population. You are right that Israel is the convenient whipping boy, but underneath all this mess is a thread of theocracy that is fueling the ignorance of the populations.....I don't think they have yet found a charismatic enough leader to gather them together, but once they do, there will be devastation for them and others around them....
I would suspect that this is only the "Face" that they want to put forward to the world, but what is being transported "unknowingly" by their governments, "out their back door" is quite another matter.  Gaza has no manufacturing infrastructure to manufacture arms or munitions, so where are they coming from, and who is financing them?