March 27, 2009

By Pat Oliphant

By Pat Oliphant

Jewish group denounces political cartoon: The Independent

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A Jewish human rights group has denounced a political cartoon as anti-Semitic, comparing it to Nazi imagery of the 1930s that led up to the Holocaust. The syndicated cartoon published by Pat Oliphant yesterday in newspapers across the US depicts a goose-stepping uniformed figure wheeling a fanged Star of David that menaces a small female figure labelled “Gaza.” The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish rights group with more than 400,000 members in the United States, said the cartoon is meant to denigrate and demonise Israel. “The imagery in this cartoon mimics the venomous anti-Semitic propaganda of the Nazi and Soviet eras,” Wiesenthal Center officials said in a statement. “It is cartoons like this that inspired millions of people to hate in the 1930s and help set the stage for the Nazi genocide.”
The centre called on the New York Times and other online outlets to remove the cartoon from their websites. A New York Times spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a phone or e-mail message left after office hours. Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes Oliphant’s cartoons, did not immediately return messages left late last night.

Violent Contradictions and Feminist Responses to the War on Gaza: A Symposium

April 2nd & 3rd, 2009vcwg-poster
William Doo Auditorium
New College
University of Toronto
45 Willcocks Street
Toronto, Ontario
Canada
This symposium will reflect on the recent war on Gaza and beyond. By examining the violent contradictions of war, while resisting sedimented scripts, we seek a feminist political imagination that troubles the hypocrisies of democracy, nationalisms and religion.

REGISTRATION: None required.
Violent Contradictions & Feminist Responses to the War on Gaza is organized by the Women & Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto.
Details on this symposium’s program can be found on our poster. Please download a copy of our poster (PDF) for the complete itinerary.

Israel army punishes Gaza soldier: BBC

An Israeli soldier was removed from the combat area after he shot a Gazan woman in the leg “by mistake” during the recent offensive, military sources say.
The soldiers were firing in the air and urging a group of Palestinians who looked “suspicious” at the time, the military said. It appears to be the first officially confirmed case of disciplinary action over troops’ actions in the conflict. The Israeli forces’ conduct has been heavily criticised.
A statement from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said there had been a warning of a suicide attacker in the area where the incident occurred.
The soldier was an infantryman from the Givati Brigades, and has been demoted and put on probation, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

Correspondents say the case is a relatively minor one in comparison to some of the allegations that have been levelled at Israeli forces – that they shot at civilians carrying white flags, used heavy firepower and white phosphorous indiscriminately, and failed to allow evacuations of wounded civilians. Several international rights experts and organisations have raised concerns that both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants may have committed war crimes during the 22-day conflict.

Now they will tell us that it was few ‘rotten apples’, and the rest of the barrell is fine… it is the whole army, carrying out murderous and illegal orders, which is responsible, and its political and military leaders should face the courts first!

Clash in tense Israeli-Arab town: BBC

Israeli-Arab protesters have clashed with police as Jewish Israeli right-wingers marched in the majority-Arab town of Umm al-Fahm.
Thirteen arrests were made as police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse stone-throwing protesters. Israeli-Arab residents of the town view the march as highly provocative and had vowed to stop it. The High Court gave permission for the march, but police had postponed it several times, fearing violence. About 2,500 police in riot gear flanked about 100 far-right activists as they marched on the outskirts of the town, waving Israeli flags. The march was over within an hour, but clashes broke out as dozens of young, male Israeli-Arab counter-demonstrators, some with their faces covered with Palestinian scarves, began pelting the police with rocks. The BBC’s Katya Adler at the scene described crouching behind a car with stones raining all around her.

Watch the film clips on:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7960815.stm

Gaza witness: IDF troops told us ‘Go south or you’ll get shot‘: Ha’aretz

When Israel Defense Forces soldiers expelled Abir Hijeh, her five children and their neighbors from homes in a Gaza war zone, she said they warned her in broken Arabic: Go south or you might get shot. The group went the wrong way and came under fire from Israeli soldiers. Hijeh was wounded and her 2-year-old daughter was killed. Hijeh’s account of a sniper firing on civilians, along with soldiers’ graffiti and destruction seen by The Associated Press in homes they commandeered, lend support to allegations of IDF misconduct during the onslaught in Gaza.

In recent testimony, Israeli soldiers told of vandalizing homes they seized to use as army posts, as well as relaxed rules of engagement, including hasty shooting at civilians. The soldiers, who spoke to a military prep school in a closed-door session, described an incident with similarities to the shooting of the Hijeh family. The accounts, exposed in Haaretz last week, further fueled international outrage over the Gaza offensive. Israel, which invaded Gaza to end years of rocket attacks by Hamas militants on Israeli towns, is already under international scrutiny about whether it used disproportionate force and failed to protect civilians. Gaza’s Hamas rulers have been criticized for targeting civilian areas and using Palestinians as human shields.

Pope Benedict to visit Ramallah during first trip to Israel: The Guardian

Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Ramallah during his inaugural trip to Jerusalem, where he will meet the president of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and pay a visit to the Aida refugee camp.

The details, released yesterday by the Vatican, form part of a six-day tour that will see the pontiff meeting key figures from across the political and religious spectrum. His itinerary features stops at the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount and the Church of the Nativity. He will also greet faith leaders – including the grand mufti of Jerusalem and the country’s two chief rabbis – and the prime minister and president of Israel. The schedule resembles the one designed in 2000 for his predecessor John Paul II, who was the first pontiff to visit the region and was lauded for his inter-faith dialogue, but Benedict’s papacy has severely tested relations between Catholics and Jews. Relations almost collapsed earlier this year when the pope lifted the excommunication of Holocaust-denying priest British-born Bishop Richard Williamson. Intense dialogue and diplomacy healed the rift but there is unease about a pope known for his traditionalism.
There also remains a stand-off over the canonisation of the wartime pope Pius XII, who is accused of ignoring the Holocaust and failing to challenge Hitler, with a sign of this tension at Yad Vashem’s museum. An inscription states he negotiated a concordat with the Nazis, maintained neutrality during the war and took no initiatives to save Jews. Benedict will go to the vast complex of Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the Holocaust but will not enter the museum itself.

I did not advocate attacks on Jews: The Guardian letters

Hazel Blears, secretary of state for communities and local government, claims I signed a declaration “advocating attacks on Jewish communities all around the world” and attacks on British military forces (Letters, 26 March). Both of these claims are entirely untrue.
I do not advocate attacks on any religious community, including Jewish communities, and I do not advocate attacks on British military forces. In fact, my organisation, the Muslim Council of Britain, the main umbrella organisation of Muslims in the UK, has been forthright in urging our community to do everything in its power to help prevent terrorist attacks in this country. What I do advocate is the right of all British citizens to agree or disagree with government policy and to use all lawful means to democratically make their voices heard. At the present time, that applies especially with regard to the government’s double standards in its approach to conflict between Israel and the people of Palestine. Israel flouts international law, indiscriminately kills civilians and illegally occupies Palestinian lands, and nobody is even criticised by the government for supporting this.
On the other hand, those, like me, who uphold the right under international law of the Palestinian people to defend their homes and to democratically elect their own representatives are vilified and declared to be some sort of threat. A government which tries to suppress discussion of such views by the kind of crude bullying to which Hazel Blears unfortunately stoops will have little moral support, not only in the Muslim community, but in wider society.
Daud Abdullah
Deputy general secretary, MCB

Daud Abdullah’s sacking: The Guardian letters

We consider the decision of the government to demand the removal of Dr Daud Abdullah from his elected post of deputy general secretary of the MCB an attack on the democratic right of freedom of speech of every British citizen.

It is our right to express whatever lawful views we wish in relation to the government’s foreign policy and the criminal actions of Israel in relation to the Palestinian people. We note that the government proposes no sanctions against those who supported the military attack of Israel on Gaza and its ongoing siege despite Israel’s routine flouting of international humanitarian law. It is clear that double standards are being applied which discriminate against Muslim supporters of justice for the Palestinians. We note that there is no suggestion by the government that Dr Abdullah has broken any British law. The decision by the government to suspend relations with the MCB is an act of crude bullying which no independent organisation should tolerate. The government’s actions in this matter only serve to assist those who will claim it is impossible for Muslims in Britain to support justice in the Middle East by democratic means. We urge the government to respect the right of all British citizens, irrespective of their race or religion, to exercise their democratic right within the law to express their own opinion on domestic or foreign policies. To this end we urge the government to end its attack on Dr Abdullah and reinstate its relations with the MCB.
Ken Livingstone, Tony Benn, Lauren Booth, Bruce Kent, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Jenny Tonge, Anas Altikriti, British Muslim Initiative, Kate Hudson, Chair, CND, Andrew Murray, Chair, Stop the War Coalition, and 21 others

Israeli Attack On Sudan Killed At Least 39: ICH

U.S. Officials Say Israel Struck in Sudan
By MICHAEL R. GORDON and JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
March 27, 2009 “NYT” — – WASHINGTON — Israeli warplanes bombed a convoy of trucks in Sudan in January that was believed to be carrying arms to be smuggled into Gaza, according to American officials. Israeli officials refused to confirm or deny the attack, but intelligence analysts noted that the strike was consistent with other measures Israel had taken to secure its borders. American officials said the airstrike took place as Israel sought to stop the flow of weapons to Gaza during the weeks it was fighting a war with Hamas there.
Two American officials who are privy to classified intelligence assessments said that Iran had been involved in the effort to smuggle weapons to Gaza. They also noted that there had been intelligence reports that an operative with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps had gone to Sudan to coordinate the effort. But one former official said that the exact provenance of the arms that were being smuggled via Sudan was unclear. Although the airstrike was carried out two months ago, it was not publicized until Sudanese officials said Thursday that a convoy of trucks in the remote eastern part of Sudan was bombed by what they called “American fighters,” killing dozens. The strikes were first reported on several Internet-based news sites, including cbsnews.com.
The area where the Sudanese said the attack occurred, near Port Sudan on the Red Sea, is an isolated patch of eastern Sudan near the Egyptian border and a notorious smuggling route, populated mostly by nomads and known as one of the poorest, least developed parts of a very poor, underdeveloped country.
The Sudanese said the reports emerged now because it took time to fully investigate the strike. But an accusation from one government official that the attack was an American act of genocide raised the possibility that the Sudanese were lashing out because the International Criminal Court had issued a warrant for the arrest of their president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, on war-crimes charges in the conflict in Darfur. The official, Rabie A. Atti, a government spokesman, also gave a death toll in the attack that was higher than the 39 reported in other secondhand accounts. Mr. Rabie said by telephone from Khartoum, the capital, that “more than 100 people” had been killed in the air raid. He said the trucks that were bombed were not carrying weapons. “I’ve heard this allegation, but it’s not true,” he said. “It was a genocide, committed by U.S. forces.”

Mark Regev responds to IDF Soldiers Confessions of War Crimes in Gaza

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s shame: The Guardian CiF

Thanks to Binyamin Netanyahu’s overweening ambition, Israel is to be saddled with a foreign minister who is a national disgrace

Neve Gordon

Imagine a country that appoints someone who has been found guilty of striking a 12-year-old boy to be its foreign minister. The person in question is also under investigation for money-laundering, fraud and breach of trust; in addition, he was a bona fide member of an outlawed racist party and currently leads a political party that espouses fascist ideas. On top of all this, he does not even reside in the country he has been chosen to represent. Even though such a portrayal may appear completely outlandish, Israel’s new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, actually fits the above depiction to the letter.

• In 2001, following his own confession, Lieberman was found guilty of beating a 12-year-old boy. As part of a plea bargain, Lieberman was fined 17,500 shekels and had to promise never to hit young children again.

• In 2004, Lieberman’s 21-year-old daughter Michal set up a consulting firm, which received 11m shekels from anonymous overseas sources. Lieberman, according to the police, received more than a 2.1m-shekel salary from the company for two years of employment. In addition, according to an investigation by Haaretz, he allegedly received additional severance pay – amounting to hundreds of thousands of shekels – in 2006 and 2007, while he was minister of strategic affairs and deputy prime minister. According to Israeli law, this is illegal.

Harper reaffirms Tory support for state of Israel: CTV Toronto

THORNHILL, Ont — Prime Minister Stephen Harper is urging all Canadians to confront what he calls a “rising tide of anti-Semitism” around the world.
Harper passionately reaffirmed his government’s support for the state of Israel in a speech to hundreds of members of the Jewish community in the Toronto suburb of Thornhill. Harper was interrupted by several standing ovations — at the grand opening ceremony for a community centre.
Harper, who was joined by Conservative MP Peter Kent, who represents the area, urged all Canadians to “confront” anti-Semitism as a “moral evil.”  He said the Conservatives have been taking continual leadership on that issue, including when Kent spoke out against recent anti-Semitic incidents on some university campuses. The speech comes amid the government’s refusal to allow British MP George Galloway from entering Canada, apparently because of links to Hamas.

India to buy $1.4 bln Israel air defence system: Dawn.com

NEW DELHI: In one of its biggest defence deal with India, Israel will provide New Delhi a $1.4 billion air defence system, an Israeli newspaper quoted on Friday as saying about a deal that it says was signed last month. Press Trust of India quoted business daily Globes as saying that Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) officially acknowledged the two countries signed the defence deal on February 27. Under the terms Israel will develop and manufacture seaborne and shore-based systems against missile attack on India, Globes said. The two sides have agreed that part of the payment for the systems will be made during the development period and the balance will be paid during the 66-month delivery period, which is slated to begin 90 months from the date the advance payment is received, PTI said in a dispatch from Jerusalem quoting the daily. According to the reported agreement, IAI has also agreed to procure military or aviation products and services from India. Besides, it will invest in defence companies in India up to an amount equal to 30 per cent of the contract.

The ICC and the Gaza war: legal limits, symbolic politics: Open Democracy

Marlies Glasius
The allegations that war crimes were committed during Israel’s attacks in Gaza focus attention on a possible role for the International Criminal Court. The debate on the issue – including in Israel itself – could benefit from greater clarity on what an ICC investigation would involve, says Marlies Glasius.
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) appears to be taking a serious interest in allegations of war crimes committed in the Gaza war from 27 December 2008 to 19 January 2009. At the same time, the testimonies of Israeli soldiers are adding weight to the evidence of war crimes. In fact, it is unlikely that the ICC can have jurisdiction over the situation. Nonetheless, the idea of considering what has happened in terms of individual criminal responsibility rather than state responsibility may open the way to a more fertile debate in Israel and beyond.

A photo opportunity
The Palestine National Authority (PNA) submitted a declaration in February 2009 to the effect that it now recognises the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in relation to any crimes committed on its territory since 2002 (when the ICC came into force). To mark the moment, the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo met Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Malki and justice minister Ali Kashan in The Hague on 13 February 2009, and issued a press release with a photograph showing the meeting. He also stated that he had received more than 300 communications relating to the Israel-Palestine situation since 27 December 2008. After the four-hour meeting, Kashan said they were “going back confident”.
The text of the PNA declaration speaks of the “Government of Palestine” and the “territory of Palestine”, implying statehood. The ICC’s acknowledgment of receipt also makes interesting reading. It says, inter alia: “without prejudice to a judicial determination on the applicability of article 12, paragraph 3 to your correspondence, I wish to inform you that a declaration under article 12, paragraph 3 has the effect of acceptance of jurisdiction”. This can be read as saying something like: “we receive this as something that looks like a declaration, without determining whether you can actually make such a declaration”.

Fight like in Gaza: Ha’aretz

By Yossi Sarid
In another moment, this column will break through the censor’s barrier and reveal a military secret: Israel is going to war, and zero hour is 9 P.M. tomorrow. And if Al Jazeera and the BBC want to rely on this information and broadcast it to the whole world, I am prepared to accept the consequences of having violated national security.
On Wednesday, a military affairs correspondent for the daily Yedioth Ahronoth – yes, he, not a sports reporter – published an exclusive item on the news pages: The commander of the Givati Brigade will be giving pep talks to Israel’s national soccer team before the game against Greece. In recent weeks, coaches have been looking for a senior commander who fought in the Gaza Strip. In the wake of recommendations they received from the Israel Defense Forces, national team coach Dror Kashtan and his assistant, Moshe Sinai, contacted Col. Ilan Malka.

“Malka intends to speak with the players about the significance of the crucial game and about how the eyes of the nation of Israel are upon them,” the reporter said, citing what Malka had told him. “He will demand of the players that they correct the mistakes of the past, just as he demanded of his soldiers that they correct the shortcomings of the Second Lebanon War – because just like in the battles in Gaza, they will not get a second chance. Fight like lions. You are representing something far greater than just a soccer match.”

“It should be noted,” the reporter then added on his own behalf, “that Malka sees a similarity between the role of a combat officer and the role of a team coach when it comes to preparations for a game or a battle.” This, in a nutshell, was the briefing by the colonel-golem who sees a soccer match as war and war as a soccer match. In both of these tests, “the eyes of the nation of Israel are upon them,” and so forth.

Rain of Fire: Human Rights Watch

Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza
MARCH 25, 2009
This 71-page report provides witness accounts of the devastating effects that white phosphorus munitions had on civilians and civilian property in Gaza. Human Rights Watch researchers in Gaza immediately after hostilities ended found spent shells, canister liners, and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets, apartment roofs, residential courtyards, and at a United Nations school. The report also presents ballistics evidence, photographs, and satellite imagery, as well as documents from the Israeli military and government.

This is 71 oage report by HRW on the Israeli use of White Phosphorous in Gaza.

Café’s Israel boycott becomes PR disaster: Jewish Chronicle

Marcus Dysch
A café owner has apologised for displaying a sign declaring “Jews are welcome”, saying it was a bid to allay fears that his boycott of Israeli goods could be interpreted as being antisemitic. Chris Boddington said he was open about his boycott and support for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign at Café Crema in New Cross, south-east London. But he realised a boycott of Israeli produce could be equated with antisemitism. The nearby Goldsmiths College owns the café and is Mr Boddington’s landlord. Many customers are Goldsmiths’ students or academics. In an attempt to reassure Jewish customers, Mr Boddington wrote on a blackboard: “We do not use any Israeli products. We are not antisemitic but anti-fascist. Jews are as welcome here as anyone else.” He admitted it had backfired and constituted a substantial “PR cock-up”.

When short of proper anti-semites, even this tosh will do for JC readers…

Lieberman is no abnormality: The Electronic Intifada
Nimer Sultany

It would be mistaken to think of the rise of Avigdor Lieberman as a major development or as the main source of concern for the Palestinians. (Levine/SIPA)

It would be mistaken to think of the rise of Avigdor Lieberman as a major development or as the main source of concern for the Palestinians. (Levine/SIPA)

One can easily detect a generally superficial, and convenient, analysis of the outcomes of Israeli elections in western media outlets thus far. Indeed, the far right-wing of the Zionist continuum has strengthened its hold on the Israeli political system in the recent Israeli elections. Yet, it would be misleading to see these results as mainly the direct product of the onslaught on Gaza and the popular sentiment that followed, and to isolate them from processes that were underway years before the war. Indeed, the right-wing has been in a better position than the left within the Jewish vote since 1977, and its power has been steadily increasing since Ehud Barak destroyed the so-called Zionist left in Camp David 2000 and its aftermath.
Likewise, it would be mistaken to think of the rise of Avigdor Lieberman and his party, Yisrael Beiteinu, as a major development or as the main source of concern for the Palestinians. Focusing on Lieberman (charitably called by the Guardian a “hardliner”) distracts the discussion from the real issues to the person of one unpleasant politician who says ignominious things others are generally unwilling to say. This logic seems to suggest that the political disappearance of Lieberman will bring about a serendipitous resolution of major problems in the Middle East. Lieberman, however, only exacerbates an already existing problem, and he cannot be easily dismissed as a marginal case of excess or abnormality of the Israeli political system.
First, one needs to be reminded that among Yisrael Beiteinu’s elected members of the Knesset are men who come from the establishment, for example, a former ambassador to the US and a former senior commander in the police force. Second, in the negotiations that followed elections day there was a wide range of agreement not only between the Likud of Benjamin Netanyahu and Lieberman, but also the Kadima party of current Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Lieberman. Both sides were trying to convince him to join their own coalition. Needless to say, both Lieberman and Kadima emerged in the last decade as an offspring of the Likud.

Tough times for university students in Gaza: Report, The Electronic Intifada

GAZA CITY (IRIN) – Many university students who lost relatives or whose homes were destroyed during the recent 22-day Israeli offensive are finding it difficult to cope, according to university officials and students. Some have been unable to register for the new semester due to lack of funds; others are still traumatized. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza said 14 of the 15 higher education institutions in the Strip (most are in and around Gaza City) were damaged by Israeli forces. Six came under direct attack. Three colleges — al-Da’wa College for Humanities in Rafah, Gaza College for Security Sciences in Gaza City, and the Agricultural College in Beit Hanoun (part of al-Azhar University) — were destroyed, according to Al Mezan communications officer Mahmoud AbuRahma. Six university buildings in Gaza were razed to the ground and 16 damaged. The total damage is estimated at $21.1 million, according to the Palestinian National Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan for Gaza. The Israeli offensive — in retaliation for continued Hamas rocket-fire from Gaza into Israel — began on 27 December 2008 and ended on 18 January 2009.

Letters: Israel’s contempt for human life: The Independent, Letters

Israeli policies show contempt for human life
Your article about Tristan Anderson (24 March) brought back strong memories of when my son Tom Hurndall was shot in Gaza in 2003. My heart goes out to Tristan Anderson’s parents, for I remember clearly how it was in the days after Tom was shot by an Israeli sniper in Rafah while rescuing Palestinian children.
Like us, his mother and father will be utterly devastated, numb and overcome by disbelief. As Americans, they will be reaching out for the support of their government and, maybe, stunned by the same astonishing level of Israeli obfuscation and cover-up that we experienced. I have come to recognise this feeling when reading the accounts of recent Israeli atrocities and civilian deaths during the incursion into Gaza.
Contrary to my own family’s experience when we called for and received the support of numerous parliamentarians in the UK, Tristan’s parents may have a hard time harnessing the energies of their government and insisting the Israeli government investigates properly, investigations that should never be done in-house. I recall with sadness how difficult it was for Rachel Corrie’s parents, Americans, to get truth and justice for their daughter, being given no government support after she was run over by an Israeli army bulldozer.
We’ve had little indication of how the new American government will respond to Israel’s incursion into Gaza, the stance they will take over the scores of civilian killings and iniquitously loose rules of engagement that killed Tom and so many others that were followed by inept investigations. A state’s response to the shooting of a young man who was demonstrating peacefully is a litmus test of the quality of inclusive justice we have a right to expect across the world. In accordance with international law, the policy-makers, the chain of command and the soldiers, all must be called to account.
For the sake of Tristan and his parents, I hope President Barack Obama’s administration uses this opportunity to speak out against the Israeli policies, indeed any state’s policies, that show such contempt for human life.
Jocelyn Hurndall
Friends of Birzeit University, London EC4

Israel accused of carrying out air strike on Sudanese soil: The Independent

Olmert says his nation can hit every place ‘near and far’ in order to stop terror
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem

Israel carried out air strikes in January on a convoy moving through Sudan which it believed to be carrying weapons destined for Hamas in Gaza, according to a report by the US television network CBS.
Two Sudanese politicians yesterday confirmed that unidentified aircraft targeted the convoy in a remote desert region north-west of Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast.
The outgoing Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, appeared to fuel speculation that his country’s air force was behind the attack, which reportedly killed 39 people, when he said that “Israel hits every place it can in order to stop terror, near and far”. CBS reported that Israeli intelligence had learnt of plans to move weapons north through Sudan into Egypt and then smuggle them into the Gaza Strip to Hamas. The report said that those killed were manning the 17-vehicle convoy, although a number of civilians had also been injured in the attack, which occurred in the same month as Israel’s offensive in Gaza.
While Israeli defence officials had earlier appeared to pour cold water on the report that their aircraft had carried out the attack, Mark Regev, the spokesman for Mr Olmert, would only say that it was not Israel’s practice “to respond to these sort of allegations when they arise in the press”.
Interdiction of the convoy would certainly chime with Israeli intelligence warnings in the past that weapons destined for Hamas in Gaza were being shipped from Iran through the Persian Gulf and on to Sudan. Whether or not the attacks were carried out by Israeli warplanes, they appear to have been in the spirit of an agreement signed in the closing days of the Gaza offensive by Tzipi Livni, the Israeli Foreign Minister, and the outgoing US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, aimed at curbing arms traffic into Gaza.
The aims of the accord are thought not to have been confined to tightening controls on the Egypt/Gaza border itself but to have also referred to measures needed to stop Iranian-derived arms along earlier sections of the route.

Did Israel carry out Sudan strike?:  BBC

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has delivered remarks which are being seen by many as confirmation that Israel carried out an airstrike on Sudan in January.The bombing apparently targeted smugglers moving a consignment of weapons intended for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. A Sudanese government minister, Mabrook Mubarak Saleem, said the air raid had killed 800 people – although other other reports speak of 39 dead. There is a pattern with Israeli covert military action abroad: first, blanket denial, then a nod and wink to convey that such action may indeed have taken place. So stories of an airstrike in Sudan were initially described by the Israeli military as nonsense. Now, though, we have had a heavy hint from the Israeli prime minister that the reports are accurate. “There is no place that the state of Israel will not act,” said Mr Olmert, “nearby and not that close.”

This is obviously good news… expect an Israeli death squad near you! Maybe we can get Olmert to search and destroy asteroids before they hit Washington? We have to find something for them to do, or they get bored and start a war.

Mystery over Sudan ‘air strike': BBC

A Sudanese government minister has confirmed reports of an air raid in eastern Sudan earlier this year.
The minister, Mabrook Mubarak Saleem, told an Arabic news channel that many people had been killed in the strike, said to have taken place last month. Israeli officials have not commented publicly on reports that their planes may have been involved. Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, did not confirm any raid but said Israel hit everywhere to stop terror. “That was true in the north,” said Mr Olmert, “and it was true in the south … Those who need to know, know there is no place where Israel cannot operate.” Giving a speech in the coastal town of Herzliya, the outgoing prime minister said: “We operate in many places near and far, and carry out strikes in a manner that strengthens our deterrence.” The CBS television network said it had been told by American officials that a strike by Israeli planes in January had succeeded in preventing weapons from Sudan reaching Gaza. Mr Mabrook Mubarak Saleem said those killed in the air raid had been civilians from a number of African countries.

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