April 3 2010
By Catrina Stewart
Israel yesterday threatened to launch a second military offensive in Gaza, just hours after its jets and helicopters pounded the coastal enclave in response to the firing of a Qassam rocket by militants in the strip.
The Israeli military said it had successfully hit four targets across Gaza in the early hours of yesterday morning – two weapons-manufacturing plants and two arms caches.
Eyewitnesses in Gaza said there were at least seven strikes, and a cheese factory, a film studio and metal workshop in the central refugee camp of Nuseirat had been hit. Hospital officials said three Palestinian children had been injured after being hit by flying debris.
The Qassam rocket, which prompted the aerial strikes, was fired from Gaza into Israel on Thursday. It caused no damage and no Palestinian faction has claimed responsibility.
“If this rocket fire against Israel does not stop, it seems we will have to raise the level of our activity and step up our actions against Hamas,” Silvan Shalom, Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister, told public radio.”We won’t allow frightened children to again be raised in bomb shelters and so, in the end, it will force us to launch another military operation.”
Yesterday’s Israeli aerial strikes mark the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s most significant military incursion in Gaza since the devastating offensive in December 2008, which lasted 22 days and killed 1,400 Palestinians, mainly civilians, and 13 Israelis.
In recent weeks, tensions have ratcheted up, ending months of relative calm. Two Israeli soldiers and two Palestinian fighters were killed last week in a fierce border skirmish after Israelis crossed into the strip.
Britain’s Foreign Office last night called for restraint. “We are concerned by today’s strikes and the escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel over the past week,” it said in a statement. “We encourage Israelis and Palestinians to focus efforts on negotiation and to engage urgently in US-backed proximity talks.”
According to the Israeli tally, 20 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza last month, and 40 since the beginning of the year. While Islamist groups largely hostile to Hamas have claimed responsibility for previous rocket attacks, Israel insists that ultimate responsibility lies with Hamas, which has controlled the strip since 2007.
Hamas yesterday accused Israel of stoking tensions with its “escalation” of military activity. But it also said it was “making contact with the factions to safeguard internal agreement” – an apparent effort to bring Islamist groups into line.
Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader exiled in Damascus, said earlier in the week that it was not in the Islamist group’s interests to escalate tensions, and that it would maintain the calm, but it has been careful not to openly condemn rocket attacks on Israel.
The latest tensions come as Israel is embroiled in a deepening row with its closest ally, the United States, over an ill-timed decision to build 1,600 new settlement homes in East Jerusalem.
The US is now seeking far-reaching concessions from Israel, including the easing of the Israeli blockade on Gaza, to show it is serious about negotiating a peace deal with the Palestinians. Israel is not expected to provide a formal response until after the end of the Jewish Passover holiday.
Israeli planes and helicopters mount Gaza attacks
April 2 2010
Israeli planes and helicopters mounted at least seven missile attacks on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip today, destroying what a military spokesman described as Palestinian munitions sites.
Four air strikes blew up two caravans near the town of Khan Younis, witnesses and Hamas officials said. There were no casualties in this attack.
A fifth missile hit a cheese factory in Gaza City, setting it on fire, the witnesses and Hamas officials said. Hospital officials said two children were slightly wounded by flying debris.
Helicopters struck twice in the central refugee camp of Nusseirat, destroying a metal foundry and no one was injured.
An Israeli military spokesman confirmed the attacks, saying they had targeted two weapons-manufacturing plants and two arms caches.
The air strikes were Israel’s response to a Palestinian short-range rocket that was fired across the border into the Jewish state on Thursday, the spokesman said. The attack, which went unclaimed by any Palestinian faction, caused no damage.
Israel has said it will hold Hamas responsible for any attacks on its cities from the Gaza Strip.
Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said the Islamist group was trying to reaffirm an agreement reached last year with other Palestinian factions to curb the rocket fire.
An Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip early last year was designed to counter such salvoes. Rocket attacks have resumed sporadically in recent weeks and Israel has responded with air strikes. Source
Auh yes the old rockets into Israel ploy again. Well I really have to wonder if Israel isn’t arranging these rockets themselves. The do false Flags a lot.
Israel has been bombing Gaza for some time this again is not new.
They always have of course some feeble excuse or other. They just want to kill and torment those in Gaza.
They do everything imaginable to torment them.
I for one really don’t believe the rocket story any more.
If Israel ever told the truth about anything well maybe one could believe it but they lie continually about everything. For them any old excuse works, with no oversight to what they actually do.
Auh yes Israel is yet again playing the victim card.
They just want to blow up what is left of Gaza.
They want to kill more innocent people. That is what they love to do most.
Maybe Israel should stop stealing land for illegal settlements and stop assassinating people.
Israel has been getting away with murder and theft for over 60 years.
No Remnants found
April 3 2010
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel’s Army Radio reported Friday that Ashkelon police have not been able to locate the remnants of a projectile they said was fired from Gaza after the area’s Color Red siren was sounded.
The Israeli news site Ynet said investigators announced the projectile was a “Qassam rocket … launched from the Gaza Strip.”
There were no reports of damage or injury.
The launch followed an overnight Israeli airstrike that injured three children when missiles struck a dairy factory in the north of the Gaza Strip. A second factory and police headquarters were also targeted, witnesses said.
Medics said debris from the strikes damaged buildings, and flying shrapnel caused moderate injuries to three children aged one, four, and 11. Source
What rocket damage sent to Israel looks like
What one from Israel in Gaza looks like
Smoke billows from a targeted location in the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli air raid, as seen from the Israeli-Gaza border Picture: GETTY
More pictures of Gaza HERE
Fatah probably launched the rockets. Divide and conquer.
The Gaza Bombshell
After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, the author reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.
By David Rose
The Al Deira Hotel, in Gaza City, is a haven of calm in a land beset by poverty, fear, and violence. In the middle of December 2007, I sit in the hotel’s airy restaurant, its windows open to the Mediterranean, and listen to a slight, bearded man named Mazen Asad abu Dan describe the suffering he endured 11 months before at the hands of his fellow Palestinians. Abu Dan, 28, is a member of Hamas, the Iranian-backed Islamist organization that has been designated a terrorist group by the United States, but I have a good reason for taking him at his word: I’ve seen the video.
To hear an interview with David Rose and to see documents he uncovered, click here.
It shows abu Dan kneeling, his hands bound behind his back, and screaming as his captors pummel him with a black iron rod. “I lost all the skin on my back from the beatings,” he says. “Instead of medicine, they poured perfume on my wounds. It felt as if they had taken a sword to my injuries.”
On January 26, 2007, abu Dan, a student at the Islamic University of Gaza, had gone to a local cemetery with his father and five others to erect a headstone for his grandmother. When they arrived, however, they found themselves surrounded by 30 armed men from Hamas’s rival, Fatah, the party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. “They took us to a house in north Gaza,” abu Dan says. “They covered our eyes and took us to a room on the sixth floor.”
The video reveals a bare room with white walls and a black-and-white tiled floor, where abu Dan’s father is forced to sit and listen to his son’s shrieks of pain. Afterward, abu Dan says, he and two of the others were driven to a market square. “They told us they were going to kill us. They made us sit on the ground.” He rolls up the legs of his trousers to display the circular scars that are evidence of what happened next: “They shot our knees and feet—five bullets each. I spent four months in a wheelchair.”
Abu Dan had no way of knowing it, but his tormentors had a secret ally: the administration of President George W. Bush.
A clue comes toward the end of the video, which was found in a Fatah security building by Hamas fighters last June. Still bound and blindfolded, the prisoners are made to echo a rhythmic chant yelled by one of their captors: “By blood, by soul, we sacrifice ourselves for Muhammad Dahlan! Long live Muhammad Dahlan!”
There is no one more hated among Hamas members than Muhammad Dahlan, long Fatah’s resident strongman in Gaza. Dahlan, who most recently served as Abbas’s national-security adviser, has spent more than a decade battling Hamas. Dahlan insists that abu Dan was tortured without his knowledge, but the video is proof that his followers’ methods can be brutal.
Bush has met Dahlan on at least three occasions. After talks at the White House in July 2003, Bush publicly praised Dahlan as “a good, solid leader.” In private, say multiple Israeli and American officials, the U.S. president described him as “our guy.”
The United States has been involved in the affairs of the Palestinian territories since the Six-Day War of 1967, when Israel captured Gaza from Egypt and the West Bank from Jordan. With the 1993 Oslo accords, the territories acquired limited autonomy, under a president, who has executive powers, and an elected parliament. Israel retains a large military presence in the West Bank, but it withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
In recent months, President Bush has repeatedly stated that the last great ambition of his presidency is to broker a deal that would create a viable Palestinian state and bring peace to the Holy Land. “People say, ‘Do you think it’s possible, during your presidency?’ ” he told an audience in Jerusalem on January 9. “And the answer is: I’m very hopeful.”
The next day, in the West Bank capital of Ramallah, Bush acknowledged that there was a rather large obstacle standing in the way of this goal: Hamas’s complete control of Gaza, home to some 1.5 million Palestinians, where it seized power in a bloody coup d’état in June 2007. Almost every day, militants fire rockets from Gaza into neighboring Israeli towns, and President Abbas is powerless to stop them. His authority is limited to the West Bank.
It’s “a tough situation,” Bush admitted. “I don’t know whether you can solve it in a year or not.” What Bush neglected to mention was his own role in creating this mess.
According to Dahlan, it was Bush who had pushed legislative elections in the Palestinian territories in January 2006, despite warnings that Fatah was not ready. After Hamas—whose 1988 charter committed it to the goal of driving Israel into the sea—won control of the parliament, Bush made another, deadlier miscalculation.
Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by Dahlan, and armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power. (The State Department declined to comment.)
But the secret plan backfired, resulting in a further setback for American foreign policy under Bush. Instead of driving its enemies out of power, the U.S.-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza.
Some sources call the scheme “Iran-contra 2.0,” recalling that Abrams was convicted (and later pardoned) for withholding information from Congress during the original Iran-contra scandal under President Reagan. There are echoes of other past misadventures as well: the C.I.A.’s 1953 ouster of an elected prime minister in Iran, which set the stage for the 1979 Islamic revolution there; the aborted 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, which gave Fidel Castro an excuse to solidify his hold on Cuba; and the contemporary tragedy in Iraq.
Within the Bush administration, the Palestinian policy set off a furious debate. One of its critics is David Wurmser, the avowed neoconservative, who resigned as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief Middle East adviser in July 2007, a month after the Gaza coup.
Wurmser accuses the Bush administration of “engaging in a dirty war in an effort to provide a corrupt dictatorship [led by Abbas] with victory.” He believes that Hamas had no intention of taking Gaza until Fatah forced its hand. “It looks to me that what happened wasn’t so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was pre-empted before it could happen,” Wurmser says.
The botched plan has rendered the dream of Middle East peace more remote than ever, but what really galls neocons such as Wurmser is the hypocrisy it exposed. “There is a stunning disconnect between the president’s call for Middle East democracy and this policy,” he says. “It directly contradicts it.”
Bush was not the first American president to form a relationship with Muhammad Dahlan. “Yes, I was close to Bill Clinton,” Dahlan says. “I met Clinton many times with [the late Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat.” In the wake of the 1993 Oslo accords, Clinton sponsored a series of diplomatic meetings aimed at reaching a permanent Middle East peace, and Dahlan became the Palestinians’ negotiator on security.
As I talk to Dahlan in a five-star Cairo hotel, it’s easy to see the qualities that might make him attractive to American presidents. His appearance is immaculate, his English is serviceable, and his manner is charming and forthright. Had he been born into privilege, these qualities might not mean much. But Dahlan was born—on September 29, 1961—in the teeming squalor of Gaza’s Khan Younis refugee camp, and his education came mostly from the street. In 1981 he helped found Fatah’s youth movement, and he later played a leading role in the first intifada—the five-year revolt that began in 1987 against the Israeli occupation. In all, Dahlan says, he spent five years in Israeli jails. Source
So Fatah members could very easily launch the rockets and Israel of course as usual Blames Hamas. What a tidy set up. This also gave Israel reason, a fabricated reason to attack Gaza and kill more innocent people.
Israel probably set it up. When Israel wants an excuse to attack Gaza it creates one. Just a point of interest. Fatah and Israel have access to weapons, where as those in Gaza do not. Who would let weapons into Gaza at the checkpoints . Israel of course. So if Israel wants to create a problem Israel certainly could very easily. Would they, well of course they would.
It is easier for Israel to smuggle rockets into Gaza then it is for Hamas.