November 2012

November 16, 2012

EDITOR: The election war of 2012 continues!

In the aftermath of the US elections, and in the period leading to the Israeli one, we can expect much trouble in the middle East. Not only is Netanyahu livid about his candidate (Romney) losing the elections, but he also needs to test the Obama II period, so this is the first test for Obama in his second presidency, which he is likely to pass in flying colours, meaning, he will support any atrocity committed by Israel. It is also a test for the new Egyptian President, Morsi, who was active in setting up a ceasefire in Gaza JUST BEFORE the Israeli assasination on Wednesday of the Hamas military wing leader. Morsi knows he can no longer disregard public opinion in Egypt, like Mubarak did before him, which is strongly in support of the removal of the Gaza blockade, and in support of Palestine; yet, he too is worried about Obama II, and wonders wether he will have any freedom of action, before Washington cuts the funding… Sucha move by Obama will be lethal for Egypt.

Last, but not least, is the Israeli election – as opposed to all the Likud leaders: Begin, Shamir, Sharon and Olmert, Netanyahu still has no war to baost of. This is a basic requirement for any Israeli leader, not to mention one of the right wing of the Likud, like Netanyahu. Like in 2008, when Olmert started the war before the elctions, Netanyahu follows the script. So some will die, also in Israel, but he will guarantee his reelction. That is what is important, after all.

And if thought this is the end of it, read below: The Gaza attack is only the introduction to main course – the attack on Iran. Be frightened; be very frightened.

For Netanyahu, Gaza escalation could pave the way to Iran strike: haaretz

Until this week, Prime Minister Netanyahu took pride in never having lead Israel into a war. Now he may be on the verge of starting not one but two.
By Amir Oren     | Nov.16, 22

An Iranian-made Shahab long-range missile. Photo by Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have not given up the dream of carrying out a major operation in Iran. For some time, prior to the recent American election, they were in disagreement: Barak was against creating facts on the ground which President Barack Obama would be forced to deal with, whereas Netanyahu entertained the idea of exploiting the sensitive political period preceding what he thought would be the surefire victory of his esteemed ally, Mitt Romney.

As the election there recedes into history while ours approaches, this twosome is going back to dealing with the Iran plan – which is one that will necessarily influence the character of the next Knesset and government.

For Netanyahu, Operation Pillar of Defense is not a baptism of fire. Sixteen years have passed since the opening of the Western Wall tunnel in September 1996, an act that escalated events on the ground (called “Hot Iron” at the time by the Israel Defense Forces ). Netanyahu – at the time a novice, arrogant prime minister – took a public beating so painful that he was forced to revoke his refusal to make concessions to PLO leader Yasser Arafat concerning Hebron. Since then, throughout seven years of power during two terms in office, Netanyahu has kept his fingers off the trigger, and has even been proud of his restraint.

This week, however, the premier crossed a private red line by daring to authorize the undertaking of a large military operation. It isn’t a war, in his view, rather a military move whose goals, duration and achievements are circumscribed. But the dark cloud in the Gaza skies might serve as an alternative, or preface to, an Iran operation. It all depends on circumstances and what happens further down what may be a long road.

In any event, Operation Pillar of Defense has renewed the Netanyahu-Barak partnership, one which theoretically should have unraveled owing to potential candidacies of other figures for the Defense Ministry portfolio, from Likud or Yisrael Beiteinu.

In the world today, there is no a multidivisional, many-pronged operational-intelligence force that is better trained and more efficient than the IDF (which, of course, also works in conjunction with partner-deputies such as the Shin Bet security service, the Mossad and the police ). The gathering of precise information about the movement of senior enemy leaders and locations of firearms – and the transmission of this data, within seconds, to manned weapons systems – is done on a level which has yet to be reached by any other army. Usually, high-quality information gathering about the region can be obtained from human and technological sources. However, this work is done with respect to a relatively limited area, one under constant surveillance from the air, sea and land.

At the start of Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel made use of psychological warfare in order to deter and to exert influence; this approach involved the use of reservist call-ups, reinforcement of forces, and the sending of signals about a readiness to launch a land invasion as a result of the barrage of missiles, bombs and shelling. Now, Israel will try to make use of this show of strength as leverage in the Iranian context.

In theory, a force which is able to strike against Ahmed Jabari would be able to pinpoint the location of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And a force that destroyed Fajr rockets would be able to reach their bigger siblings, the Shihabs, as well as Iran’s nuclear installations. So as not to leave a shred of doubt, the IDF Spokesman emphasized that “the Gaza Strip has become Iran’s frontline base.” At first glance, Operation Pillar of Defense seems to be aimed at the Palestinian arena, but in reality it is geared toward Iranian hostility against Israel.

This situation is fraught with implications – for example, the possibility that Israel will devise a new policy vis-a-vis the positive, more moderate half of the Palestinian arena, namely the Palestinian Authority, under Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad, in the West Bank. Up to now there has been no sign of such a move; perhaps it will come after the elections in January.

Practical test

Operation Pillar of Defense represents a practical test of expertise for the Israel Air Force commander and the head of IDF Intelligence, Maj. Gens. Amir Eshel and Aviv Kochavi, respectively. More than anything, however, it is a test for IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the commander whom neither Barak nor Netanyahu wanted – though now they heap praise upon him as though he were always their preferred choice.

One can guess what Barak would say if the IDF chief of staff were Yoav Galant, who served as commander on the Gazan front during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009. All this points to the basic character of the IDF, and to the fact that the army does not really change direction according to the person commanding it.

Barak has served as defense minister during these two operations. His chances of passing the electoral threshold and winning a Knesset seat with Atzmaut were negligible up to recent days. Now they have improved as a result of coincidences, both in security and political arenas; these include the fact that both Labor and Meretz have lost impressive possible candidates for their lists. Now Atzmaut, comprised of Barak and confederates, have the option of joining Labor, Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu or a centrist party headed by Shimon Peres and/or Tzipi Livni.

Lacking experience with military operations, Netanyahu is liable to draw erroneous conclusions from Operation Pillar of Defense, particularly if it ends relatively quickly with few casualties.

It is very tempting to think that the Gaza theater will remain quiet for months, until the renewal of smuggling of long-range missiles via the tunnels; that Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah will stop Hezbollah from using its weapons, in defiance of explicit orders from Tehran; and that the intelligence assessment of casualties likely to be sustained on the home front during an operation in Iran, based on the assumption that the Arrow antimissile system is used (although it has yet to demonstrate actual interception capabilities ), will in fact duplicate the performance of the Iron Dome system. All of these will constitute calculations in favor of an Iranian operation, particularly so long as Syria is stuck politically and militarily, owing to its domestic unrest.

Last week, directly after Barack Obama’s victory, Netanyahu made haste to talk about how he offered his congratulations to the reelected president. It turns out that Obama spoke that same day with 13 foreign leaders, including Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, heads of state from Colombia, Australia, Brazil and other countries, and Netanyahu.

During his recent visit to Moscow, President Shimon Peres managed to express Israeli sensitivity toward the bitterness felt by other powers – Russia foremost among them – about the precedence given to the Americans by Jerusalem. Anyone who wants to isolate Gaza needs the consent of regional powers. And anyone who wants to isolate Iran cannot depend on Washington alone.

Netanyahu has a one-track mind when it comes to two issues: the Iranian goal, and American support (which seems to be a bit shaky of late ). Should Operation Pillar of Defense attain the limited goals set for it in Gaza, that will be very good. Yet should the political leadership, buoyed by strong performances from the intelligence and other branches, try to extrapolate from this operation and transpose it to other places, it could be dangerous.

Gaza crisis: Egyptians back under-fire Palestinians: BBC

The BBC’s Wyre Davies describes a “long and difficult night” in Gaza, saying “the ante has been stepped-up on both sides”

Egyptian leaders have promised to support Gaza against Israeli attacks, as violence escalated for a third day.

President Mohammed Mursi said he would not leave Gaza on its own and condemned Israel’s “blatant aggression”, hours after his prime minister visited Gaza.

Israel mounted a huge attack overnight, targeting dozens of locations. Later, Gaza militants targeted Tel Aviv with a missile but there were no casualties.

Twenty Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed since Wednesday.

Militants and civilians, including at least five children, were among the Palestinian dead, Palestinian officials said. They include Hamas’s military leader Ahmed Jabari, killed by an Israeli air strike on Wednesday following a surge in rocket attacks from Gaza.

Two Israeli women and a man died when a rocket fired from Gaza hit a building in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi on Thursday, Israeli officials said.

Before the recent upsurge, Israel had repeatedly carried out air strikes on Gaza, as Palestinian militants fired across the border.

Powerful missiles
The Israeli army began an initial draft of 16,000 reservists on Friday, after the government authorised the call-up of 30,000.

Rumours have been swirling that a ground attack is imminent, but Israeli officials have said no decision has yet been made.

Israel targeted more than 130 locations in an overnight assault it said was aimed at knocking out rocket-firing facilities.

Sporadic Israeli air strikes have continued throughout Friday, and militants in Gaza have fired dozens of rockets.

Mr Mursi sent Prime Minister Hisham Qandil to the territory for a three-hour visit on Friday to show solidarity with the Palestinians.

“Egypt will not leave Gaza on its own, and what is happening is a blatant aggression against humanity,” the president said shortly after Mr Qandil returned from Gaza.

Ties between Hamas and Egypt have strengthened since Mr Mursi’s election earlier this year.

Hamas was formed as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Mr Mursi belongs.

Panic in Tel Aviv
Meanwhile, the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, some 75km (45 miles) north of Gaza, came under attack for a second day.

A missile launched from Gaza sparked panic in the city and air-raid sirens once again sounded.

The missile appears to have done no harm, with police officials quoted variously as saying it had landed in the sea or in an unpopulated area.

It is the first time Tel Aviv has come under attack since the 1991 Gulf War.

Analysts say it is the first time Gaza militants have deployed such powerful missiles.

Western leaders have appealed for both sides to stop the escalation in violence.

Britain and Germany both said Hamas bears the brunt of the blame and should stop firing rockets immediately.

In Gaza, my son asks, what do the Israelis want from us?: The Electronic Intifada

Rami Almeghari  Gaza Strip 15 November 2012

Palestinians in Gaza want to live normal lives and raise their children in a safe environment. (Ashraf Amra / APA images)

“What do they want from us? What do they want from us?” — this is the question posed to me by my son Munir who is now 13 years old. I had just returned from touring nearby towns here in Gaza out of journalistic duty on the second day of Israel’s massive military attacks.

Since the Israeli assassination of a top Hamas military commander yesterday afternoon, I have been following up on the news, reporting and writing the story of 13-year-old Ahmad Abu Daqqa, who was fatally shot in the stomach by an Israeli soldier last week while he played football outside his home in Khan Younis.

Munir and Ahmad are both schoolboys and each have a hobby. Ahmad was a football fan, while Munir is interested in news like his father. Whenever Munir approaches me, it’s inevitably to tell me some news or inquire about something.

Both Ahmad and Munir have spent their childhoods in the harsh, intolerable conditions in Gaza. As they were both similar in age and in terms of living conditions, they surely had the same question: ” What do they want from us?”

Ahmad has already got the answer. He was killed last Thursday by an Israeli bullet that ripped through his little body.

Meanwhile, Munir is outraged by the intensity of Israeli air strikes on Gaza, worried for the safety of his brother, two sisters, mother and other family members whenever a loud explosion is heard nearby. He wanted an authentic answer from his journalist father.

I wracked my mind for an answer that he could understand.

My wish for peace

I have always believed in peace. I have always believed in coexistence and I have always stayed away from violence. When I was a child like Munir, the first Palestinian uprising of 1987 broke out. Since then, I have believed in my right as a human being to live in freedom in a clean environment.

I recall that around that time, then secretary-general of the United Nations Javier Perez de Cuellar was visiting the occupied Gaza Strip in an observation mission. I picked up a broom and started cleaning the front door of my family home in Maghazi town in the central Gaza Strip.

“Ah, I see you are cleaning, apparently for the UN envoy who is coming over,” Ibrahim Mansour, an older neighbor of mine, told me while I was sweeping. I answered him: yes, I want these people to know that we are a life-loving nation!

This has truly been my dream. When I was able to join a UN-run media training program in New York City in 2001, I felt great, interacting with UN officials including Kofi Annan, the secretary-general at the time. I immediately talked about the people of Gaza. I mentioned the same cleaning story to the chief of the Palestine and Decolonization Center of the UN, Salim Fahmawi, who was in charge of the training program as well.

Since my return from the UN training program, I have dedicated my career to the sake of peace and coexistence, working relentlessly to tell the people outside Gaza that the Palestinians are a nation who love life and badly want to live normally like any other nation.

Do not even dream

Back to Munir’s question. Despite the fact that I do believe strongly in the power of peace instead of war, I felt I had to properly answer my son. “What do they want?” I exclaimed to Munir. “What they want is obviously to deprive us of our humanity, taking away our dream to live normal lives like other nations, and to throw us into the ocean.”

Munir got a theoretical answer that he might not understand now. His memory is still collecting images, only without processing those images into facts and figures. Yet the slain child Ahmad Abu Daqqa and his family got a clear-cut answer from the Israelis themselves: You are not allowed to play football, even outside your front door. You are not allowed to enjoy yourselves. You are not even allowed to live.

Munir is now locked inside my Maghazi home along with his brother Muhammad and his two sisters, Aseel and Nadine, and their mother, Um Munir, watching a TV filled with horrible images from the current Israeli military escalation.

Munir and Muhammad are not allowed now to even play games on their computer, as I am occupying the room for important work, filled with tension, worry and stress.

Wait. Munir has just told me that the Rafah crossing terminal on the Egyptian side of Gaza’s southern border is now fully prepared to welcome possible injuries from the Gaza Strip, to be medicated in nearby Egyptian hospitals!

Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.

A large democ in London against the Gaza attack, Thursday 15th November, 2012

Thousands have gathered in front of the Israeli embassy last night to vent their anger against the attack on the Gaza Strip. At the time of the demo, it was already known that 19 people have died in Gaza, and three in Israel, as a result of the Israeli assasination and the atrocities which followed, after Hamas has retaliated by sending hundreds of missiles into Israel, including some into the Tel Aviv urban sprawl. Below you can see some of the faces at the demo – a mixture of old hands with a much larger crowd of young students – it was very notceable by all there, that thousands of London students have joined at short notice – surely a positive development of the campaign!

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November 15, 2012

EDITOR: The Netanyahu election war is raging on, and the world, as usual, does nothing

Burnt body of Gaza baby girl, murdered by the IDF on November 14th, 2012

So another war is started by Israel on Gaza and Palestine, with the ‘international community’ doing its best to look elsewhere. The newly elected Hussein Obama is otherwise busy, with stopping the PA from putting a resolution before the UN assembly, and the EU is taking its time in upgrading Israeli-EU relations to an all-time high, in return for Israel’s settlement policy, one assumes, as they are now importing 100 times more from the settlements than from Palestine! History will judge the twisted and hypocritical position taken by the west towards the people of Palestine, and especially the almost two million prisoners in the Gaza open prison, where they are isolated and incarcerated by Israel, with no contact with the outside world. None of the Israeli atrocities would have been possible fora single hour, if the Israel was not supported by the west totally, uncritically and unquestioningly.

In the meantime, Israeli fascism marches on, with more and more legislation of the Nuremberg kind being passed every day. Below you can read about the funding of schools relative to their ‘contribution’ to enlisting in the Army of Occupation. All this legislation and regulation is accepted by the WHOLE Jewish political scene in Israel, with the so-called left being in total hock to Netanyahu, and its leader, Yachimowich, trying to court the settlers as hard as she can. If she is a socialist, she must be a National Socialist.

Of the articles below, most have been written by terrified liberal Zionists in Israel, and hence do not represent my views; they are brought here as part of establishing the main theme of the blog today – the swift move towards fully-fledged fascism of the Israeli polis. This is noted with growing fear by many in Israel, but it is just too late – they should have seen this coming decade ago, when they did nothing about the continued occupation and its iniquities. For decades they felt that the occupation is nothing to do with them – they maybe did not like it, but could live with it; now the roof is indeed coming down on their heads, combining fascism and crazed religious nationalism, and they are too petrified to do anything about it. Netanyahu was always an artist of using fear.

Washington Post front page: Washington Post

The winter of Israel’s descent from democracy: Haaretz

Every person and party that is not anti-democratic must wake up and join the fray. Including, of course, the Labor Party.
By Sefi Rachlevsky     | Nov.14, 2012

Naftali Bennett’s victory in the primary held by Habayit Hayehudi constitutes a continuation of the earthquake. The latest public opinion polls give his party’s joint slate with National Union 13 Knesset seats. That was not a typographical error; seven seats are expected to move from Likud to the religious parties.

Bennett made sure that half his slate would be picked by three rabbis, headed by Dov Lior. He cooperates gladly with the rabbi who ruled that Baruch Goldstein, who massacred 29 Muslim worshipers at Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994, is “holier than all the martyrs of the Holocaust”; the rabbi whom religious Zionist Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun once named as the source of a ruling that the Jewish laws of rodef and moser (which allow a person to kill someone who is trying to kill him ) applied to Yitzhak Rabin, thus leading to his murder; the rabbi whom Menachem Livni, head of the Jewish terror underground of the 1980s, said had sent him out to murder Arabs. The rabbi who endorsed the book “Torat Hamelekh: The Laws of Killing non-Jews” will rule the party that seems likely to be the second-largest in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s next coalition.

Nor are Lior and Bennett alone. The ultra-Orthodox Shas party is expected to win at least 12 Knesset seats, while United Torah Judaism, another ultra-Orthodox party, is expected to win six. Am Shalem, the new party of Shas MK Chaim Amsellem, will win votes from secular Israelis who are unaware of the political positions that will lead him to join National Union. In short, the extremist religious parties are expected to have more than 30 MKs in the next Knesset.

It doesn’t stop there. More than half of registered Likud members are religiously observant, and a majority of them are extremists. Moshe Feiglin and around half a dozen more Jewish extremists are expected to be on the joint Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu ticket. Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, whose late father Yosef “Tommy Lapid” was a champion of secular Israelis, is putting up a rabbi as his party’s candidate for education minister – a rabbi who is less extreme, but who still wants to “fix” homosexuals and dreams of a state governed by halakha (Jewish law ).

Altogether the next Knesset is expected to include around 40 MKs who want a halakha state. The vast majority of them also hold racist and anti-democratic views.

Nor are they alone: “Likud-Beiteinu” will hold more than 30 Knesset seats. The political implications of the two parties’ merger have already been dissected, but too little has been said about Likud’s being swallowed up in an anti-democratic sea. Thus we are looking at a Knesset in which around 70 of the 120 seats are upholstered in khaki.

The Knesset is Israel’s legislature. The outgoing Knesset also discussed social-welfare and defense issues but its main role was legislating, and what it mainly legislated was a raft of anti-democratic laws. In most cases bills that rode roughshod over democracy passed their first reading by a large majority. It was only after public figures outside the Knesset sounded the alarm that disaster was averted.

The outgoing Knesset contained a handful of people who tried to mitigate the damage. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud ), the humanist Shlomo Molla (Kadima ), Eitan Cabel (Labor ), Meretz MKs led by Zahava Gal-On; Dov Khenin and Mohammmed Barakeh (Hadash ). A handful will be insufficient in the next Knesset; the threat that has risen up to destroy Israeli democracy is too great.

In “The World of Yesterday” Stefan Zweig did a marvelous job of describing the wonderful summer of 1914. How sweet it was. How preoccupied people were with their own affairs. How even after Europe embarked on the suicidal process that led to two world wars, those leaving for the battlefield sang that they would be home by Christmas.

Israelis would do well to remember this winter. It may be our last winter as a democracy.

Worst of all is the fact that this existential threat has thus far been gathering force unopposed. The camp that is supposed to try to stop this evil is busy with its own affairs – as if these were ordinary times, as if the personal were everything.

This is the time to ring all the warning bells. Any deed that could possibly be done to wake the public from its daydreams before disaster strikes is an honor to perform: handing out bumper stickers in the street, holding parlor meetings and demonstrations, influencing the political system, anything that might help. The only shame is in standing on the sidelines. Losing is permissible. But to lose the battle for democracy without even a fight is an unpardonable sin.

Every person and party that is not anti-democratic must wake up and join the fray. Including, of course, the Labor Party. The party behind Israel’s Declaration of Independence, now being trampled; the party whose leader was murdered by the anti-democratic, racist forces that oppose territorial withdrawals and that now threaten to take over Israel, cannot stand on the sidelines.

It’s worth taking a look at Bennett’s gleaming smile as he says that there will never be peace here, that almost 400,00 settlers are what matters most. Look at his intention: for the Arabs to submissively accept their current situation, in which they are deprived of citizenship, a situation of de facto apartheid. Look, and remember why that gleaming smile looks familiar. Remember, and take action.

Recipe for Labor’s fall: Haaretz

Shelly Yacimovich is correct in claiming that the Labor Party, which she heads, was never a left-wing party. The occupation has eaten away at everything here that was good.
By Zeev Sternhell     | Nov.15, 2012

Shelly Yacimovich is correct in claiming that the Labor Party, which she heads, was never a left-wing party. Indeed, it was one big jumble in which all kinds of positions and opinions found a place, and after the Six Day War, it lost its direction completely and became a helpless entity. Yet even before the Six Day War, beginning with the establishment of the state, its famous pragmatism has been nothing but blatant opportunism that blinded its eyes. Since it did not take its own ideology seriously, the Labor Party was convinced that the various sorts of right-wing parties would also betray their principles.

Among the former prime ministers, Golda Meir’s expression “socialism for our time” very soon turned into a joke, while what David Ben-Gurion called “the rule of the workers’ movement” was nothing more than a creation of dependence between the workers and the power structure of the Histadrut labor federation and the Mapai party. Another prime minister, Menachem Begin, waited 30 years until he won the elections, but did not give up the principle of Jewish sovereignty west of the Jordan River; yet 35 years after the political upheaval of 1977, the Labor Party is still wandering in the desert without a compass. For this it can thank Shimon Peres, the party’s well-known deserter, and Ehud Barak, who instead of continuing from the point where Yitzhak Rabin stood at the time he was assassinated, returned to Meir’s blueprint from the Yom Kippur War.

For many long years, the Labor Party has believed that since the nation has moved toward the right, it must slide down the slippery slope with it. Instead of trying to curb the process, it merely accelerated it. Its leaders did not think of the possibility that in addition to ideological weakness, the reason for the continual defeats at the poll since 1977 lay with them – their lack of courage, of intellectual integrity and of inner conviction.

Now Yacimovich is trying to follow in their footsteps. According to her way of thinking, if she is obsequious toward the settlers, she will be received with open arms by the right, and the Likud voters will swarm to her tent. It did not cross her mind that her end will be the same as that of the hero of the Elon Moreh settlement, Peres. Victory in elections can be achieved when one presents an ideological and personal alternative that is moral and worthy of governing, and not when one presents a copy of something else and tries to flatter people.

But the truth of the matter is that Yacimovich and Lapid are not fighting over the votes of right-wing Likud supporters, but rather over the reservoir of floating votes from the Kadima party. The real struggle is within the center bloc. As it usually happens here, the elections will be about the next war and the influence it will have on the territories. A substantial change will take place only if another quarter of a million Israelis begin to realize that there is a connection between the struggle against neoliberalism and on behalf of a just society, and doing away with the occupation.

“Socially oriented” people like Yacimovich can be found in abundance on the right of the political map too – bringing down the price of food, cheap mortgages, and annexing the settlements go together in their minds. From Labor, too, we have heard that there is consensus over the settlements. That was the reason why after Rabin’s assassination, it was nothing more than a shadow of a ruling party. Therefore, divorcing itself from the settlement enterprise is, for the Labor Party, not only the right thing to do but also a matter of survival.

When compared with Western countries, Israeli politics is so distorted that in wide swaths of the Israeli public, the word “left” has become a derogatory term. Why is it that in the whole of the Western world, from Oslo to Buenos Aires (but excluding the United States ), authentic socialist and social-democratic parties, both in power and in the opposition, are proud to carry a left-wing banner, while here it is only Meretz that bears that flag aloft?

The occupation has eaten away at everything here that was good. Social democracy does not tolerate selective justice, and the fight against neoliberalism is not just over bread, but also over the dignity of man. That is the real, proper consensus – and without it, the old-time Zionism will turn into a passing episode.

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November 14, 2012

EDITOR: Israel is preparing for its election with a war on Gaza, like four years ago!

Like in 2008, Israel now stands ready for a new election campaign, with all its social systems seemingly broken, with the impressive tent protest of summer 2011 all but dead, and with no serious opposition on the left. The usual thing for an Israeli politician at election time is to start a war, like Olmert did in December 2008. Netanyahu is no different. This continuing massacre in Gaza, and the killing of Hamas’s military leader, is well planned in advance, and is there to serve Netanyahu. That the Israeli public is so fickle as to buy this old product every single time, is a sad fact of Israeli politics. Netanyahu has nothing to worry about – who is going to stop him? Surely not the heroic Obama, fresh out of defeating the even more pro-Israeli Romney. Netanyahu knows he is safe with Obama, like he was ever since he came to power. Obama talks, but does nothing, and he even upstaged Dubya as the most useless president on the Middle East and Palestine – a real honour. The real humiliation for Obama will be helping the man who openly supported Romney to be elected in Israel.

Israeli air strike kills Hamas military chief Jabari: BBC

The BBC’s Wyre Davies: “The violence in and around the Gaza Strip has been escalated”

The head of the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has been killed during a series of Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip.

Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari and another Hamas official died when the car they were travelling in was hit in Gaza City.

It was part of a wider Israeli operation against militant groups in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

It follows a wave of rocket attacks against Israel from the territory.

Outside the hospital where Mr Jabari’s body was taken, thousands of angry Gaza residents chanted “retaliation” and “We want you to hit Tel Aviv tonight”, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Gaza’s interior ministry said a further four Palestinians had died in the attacks across Gaza.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

Israel will regret the moment they even thought of doing this”

Abu Zuhri
Hamas spokesman
A number of injured civilians, including a badly burned young child, were seen being taken to hospital in Gaza City.

Militants in Gaza have fired more than 110 rockets towards southern Israel since Saturday, when four soldiers were wounded in an anti-tank missile attack on an Israeli army jeep.

Before Wednesday’s operation, six Palestinians had been killed in the ensuing Israeli military strikes on the Gaza Strip in response.

Israeli Defence Force (IDF) spokeswoman Lt Col Avital Leibovich said Mr Jabari had “a lot of blood on his hands”.

She told BBC News that “close to 20″ sites in Gaza had been targeted in a “limited” operation, with the strikes aiming to destroy rocket-firing capabilities.

Continue reading the main story
At the scene

Jon Donnison
BBC News, Gaza City
Across Gaza there’s anger. There’s the sound of gunfire. The news is being broadcast from mosques. There are chaotic scenes at the city’s al-Shifa hospital.

Ahmed Jabari was one of Hamas’s most senior figures. He was 46 years old and the head of the movement’s military wing, the al- Qassam brigades.

He was hit by an air strike as he travelled in a car through the centre of Gaza City. At least one other senior Hamas figure is thought to have died.

Israel will say Hamas had it coming. Palestinians will see it a major provocation. The fears here are it could provoke another war.

“The operation against Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other organisations has two goals: to protect Israeli civilians and target the terror capability of these organisations,” she added.

On its Twitter feed, the Israeli military said the operation could be escalated further. “All options are on the table. If necessary, the IDF is ready to initiate a ground operation in Gaza,” it said.

Mr Jabari, who was 46, is the most senior Hamas official to be killed in the Gaza Strip since the major Israeli offensive four years ago.

Israel’s Shin Bet security service said he had been responsible for “all terrorist activities against Israel from Gaza” in the last decade.

“Jabari was responsible for financing and directing military operations and attacks against Israel. His elimination today is a message to Hamas officials in Gaza that if they continue promoting terrorism against Israel, they will be hurt,” it said.

Hamas spokesman Abu Zuhri said: “Israel will regret the moment they even thought of doing this.”

Civilians injured in the air strikes were rushed to Gaza’s hospitals
Saeb Erekat of the Palestinian Authority, which governs the separate West Bank territory, condemned the assassination “in the strongest terms”.

“We hold Israel fully responsible for the consequences of this new act of aggression,” he added.

Hamas: Leaders assassinated by Israel

Jan 1996, Gaza: Hamas chief bomb maker Yahya Ayyash killed by mobile phone packed with explosives
July 2002, Gaza: Salah Shehadeh, leader of Hamas military wing, killed by bomb dropped on his house
Mar 2004, Gaza: Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder of Hamas, killed by missile strike
Apr 2004, Gaza: Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, co-founder and leader of Hamas, killed in missile strike
Jan 2009, Gaza: Said Siyam, senior Hamas commander, killed in air strike
Jan 2010, Dubai: Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, senior Hamas military commander, suffocated in five-star hotel in Dubai
Israel has killed several senior Hamas figures in similar operations, including the movement’s founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, in 2004.

The BBC’s Jon Donnison in Gaza City says the sound of gunfire echoed through the streets after mosques broadcast the news of Mr Jabari’s death.

There are fears the attack could lead to a major escalation of violence between Hamas and Israel, he adds.

Following the Israeli strikes, neighbouring Egypt’s foreign ministry issued a strongly critical statement.

“Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr condemned the series of air strikes that Israel is currently conducting against Gaza Strip and which led to the killing of Ahmed al-Jabari,” it said.

“He called on Israel to stop its strikes on Gaza Strip immediately.”

The BBC’s Kevin Connolly, in Cairo, says Egypt’s reaction to events in Gaza will be followed closely.

It is the first time violence has reached this pitch of intensity since the events of the Arab Spring brought to power a president drawn from the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood, the same organisation in which Hamas has its roots.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for an “immediate de-escalation of tensions”.

The British Foreign Office issued a statement saying: “We continue to call on all sides to exercise restraint to prevent a dangerous escalation that would be in no-one’s interests.”

Hit on Hamas military chief is only the beginning: haaretz

This is not just ‘another’ assassination, but rather a hit on one of the top people in the movement and the person in the leadership most identified with the terror struggle against Israel.
By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff

Khaled Meshal, bottom left, with Ahmed Jabari, bottom right, October 18, 2011. Photo by Reuters 

This time the Israeli warnings were spot on: The frequent threats made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to settle accounts with Hamas, in the context of the latest escalation in the Gaza Strip, were implemented on Wednesday afternoon with the assassination of Ahmed Jabari, head of the organization’s military arm. This is a resonant military action, far beyond the amplitude of the friction between the sides in recent days.

In Hamas they understood that an Israeli response was expected – and therefore its heads on Tuesday went along with the Egyptian call to agree to a truce. However, it is doubtful that Hamas expected the response would be so harsh. This is not just “another” assassination (and there haven’t been assassinations of second tier activists in almost four years), but rather a hit on one of the top people in the movement and the person in the leadership most identified with the terror struggle against Israel.

The Israeli action today is the beginning of the story, not its end. All of the Palestinian factions will try in the upcoming hours to avenge Jabari’s death by every means. The confusion of the first hour in Gaza is now being replaced by an unambiguous call for vengeance.

Hamas and the Islamic jihad also have in their possession a small quantity of Fajr rockets smuggled from Iran, which have a range of 75 kilometers. When launched from the northern Gaza Strip, their range covers most of the area of Tel Aviv and the suburbs surrounding it. The Hamas leadership is most probably also weighing the use of this “Judgment Day” weapon.

Attempting to prevent it, immediately after the strike Israel Air Force attacked some twenty underground sites, where both Hamas and Islamic Jihad hid Fajr rockets. The assault was meant to neutralize their mid-range capabilities, just as the IDF attacked Hezbollah in 2006 in what is since known as ‘the Fajr night’. In both incidents, the attacks used accurate intelligence which was carefully collected. But when Hamas threatens now to start a war, it should be taken into account this could happen, just as Hezbollah decided to react in 2006.

For a long time now Israel has been pursuing a policy of containment in the Gaza Strip, limiting its response to the prolonged effort on the part of Hamas to dictate new rules of the game surrounding the fence, mainly in its attempt to prevent the entry of the IDF into the “perimeter,” the strip of a few hundred meters wide to the west of the fence.

This time, Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have authorized the army and the Shin Bet security service a massive response. It is impossible, apparently, to ignore the contribution to this of the upcoming election in the background. Netanyahu has been fielding criticism for several weeks now for abandoning residents of the Gaza envelope communities to rocket barrages. Like former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before him, upon embarking on Operation Cast Lead, he too is responding harshly on the eve of an election.

Of course, the trouble with this story – the likes of which we have already experienced a number of times – is that in launching such a strong strike you know where you are starting from but not where it is going to end. Israel has in the past assassinated leaders of the “political” Hamas, who in actuality were involved in terror, like Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi.

Israel had also hit many of the heads of the organization’s military wing. To a certain extent, these assassinations contributed to reining in Hamas in the long run as also to the choice on the part of its leadership in the Gaza Strip to rein in a wave of suicide attacks.

Jabari, primarily after becoming close to the Egyptian regime and his role in finalizing the deal to release captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, apparently believed he was immune to harm from Israel. His subordinates were also surprised. Their reaction is liable to be very violent – and lead in turn to more assassinations by Israel.

Even if Netanyahu does not necessarily wants a wide-scale IDF ground operation in Gaza on the eve of the election (and the prime minister, pretty much rightly, has kept his intentions in this matter close to his chest), he might well be dragged into one, despite himself.


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