The Zeitgeist Politics

Global Politics with a focus on The Middle East

Posts Tagged ‘Ismail Haniyeh

Biggest Israeli strike on Gaza since Cast Lead with more to come?

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Image credit: Reuters

Israel hit Gaza with renewed strikes, the biggest incursion since Operation Cast Lead, and threatened worse yesterday, The Independent reports:

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.

While Hamas has disclaimed responsibility for the attack and stated that attacks on Israel are not in its best interests, Israel has maintained that Hamas is responsible as the body governing the Strip (I like how Israel recognises Hamas as a legitimate government but only when it’s convenient to do so). Also, a cheese factory? I wonder if Israel is planning to launch a campaign on cheese akin to their hummus campaign.

Hamas has called for calm, but stopped short of openly condemning the rocket attack that prompted this Israeli action, something they are usually careful about doing. Meanwhile, Israel’s deputy prime minister Silvan Shalom had the following to say:

“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,” he said. [Al Jazeera]

Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha reiterated that Hamas is working to curb rocket attacks against Israel and Ismail Haniyeh has once again asked for international intervention. The US has urged restraint, as has the UK.

While Israel contemplates another massive bombing raid, undoubtedly killing a bunch of women and children in the process, the results of the Dahiya doctrine in Southern Lebanon are still being felt. Nearly four years after the 2006 war that involved Israel dropping more than 4 million cluster bombs (according to the UN) and littering Southern Lebanon with mines, victims are still awaiting prosthetics. Great time to launch another humanitarian crisis.

One optimist is Salam Fayyad who is still talking about declaring a Palestinian state, this time in 2011, and with delicious, almost Obama-esque rhetoric full of hope and such.

“The birth of a Palestinian state will be celebrated as a day of joy by the entire community of nations,” Fayyad told the Haaretz daily.

“The time for this baby to be born will come,” he said, “and we estimate it will come around 2011,” the prime minister said. [Daily Star]

The delicious irony of this ‘day of joy’ celebrated by ‘the entire community of nations’ is probably not lost on the Gazans who are probably soon going to be burying more of their real babies.

Because I like to round off depressing news with proof that the Middle East still pitches up some corkers, here are few bits & pieces:

- Robert Fisk rails against the internet and Ann Coulter, expresses himself with “Aaaaagh!”. Choice quote: “Friends who are currently abandoning the hate-hell of the internet tell me that the only good button is the one called “delete”.” Nice, I’m sure Fisk’s ‘friends’ leaving the interweb in droves will spell its ultimate demise and it will be left for Justin Bieber fans to pick over.

- Speaking of railing, KABOBfest & Abu Muqawama both have a fun go at the perpetual neocon straw men that are still pounding out essays on how “they hate our freedom”. The fact that this crap is still being printed in 2010 is a joke. Sayyid Qutb? Gitouttahere! This time the symbol of the West, flying the flag for our freedoms, is Lady Gaga. Now she’s really made it.

- Speaking of scantily clad objects of desire pop stars who the “Arabs” don’t seem to hate, Nancy Ajram is visiting Abu Dhabi for some humanitarian thingy, as are Sami Yusuf, Hussain al Jassimi, Ehab Tawfik, and the actress Elham Shaheen. Sounds like a party. The race is on to be the Arab world’s Bono.

Gilad Shalit, and Obama uses Israel as attack dog to scare Chinese

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photo credit: politicaltheatrics.net

Been a while since I last blogged, exams got the better of me and being in Sydney chilling has been counterproductive to blogging, but I’m back!

Despite discussions stalling somewhat and it now being said that a deal is more likely to take place after Eid al-Adha (Eid Mubarak to Muslims, by the way!) there have been reports of progress on the negotiations over the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap. Ismail Haniyeh even cancelled his Hajj! According to Haaretz, Israel is none too thrilled about certain prisoners that Hamas wants released:

Hamas is demanding, among other the prisoners, the release of Ibrahim Hamad, head of the group’s military wing in the Ramallah area, Abdallah Barghouti, a bomb engineer, and Abbas a-Sayad, the Hamas head in Tul Karm who planned the 2002 massacre during Passover in Netanya’s Park Hotel. These three prisoners are considered responsible for the murder of hundreds of Israelis.

Other names mentioned in the Arab media are Hassan Salame, who was involved in planning the suicide bus bombings in the mid ’90s, and Jamal Abu al-Hijla, head of Hamas in Jenin, who was convicted of taking part in planning and funding several suicide attacks during the second intifada.

Israel’s trepidation at having these prisoners freed is understandable, and the fact is, that political pressure from within Israel to have Shalit freed has been strong but not overwhelming so you can expect Israeli’s to hold out a while longer to get a better deal, politically especially (apparently having key suicide bombing planners freed can be harmful to one’s political standing). Most people are watching the fate of one Marwan Barghouti, considered a key possible successor to the increasingly beleaguered and probably-resigning Abu Mazen. You can expect Barghouti to be freed, Obama has been putting pressure on Netanyahu to make concessions that would bolster Fatah in the lead-up to PA elections and Abbas’ increasingly likely resignation.

The other major news is that during Obama’s visit to China, he put some pressure on the Chinese to do something about the whole Iran nuclear thing, which they have normally stayed clear out of (their policy of political non-involvement in the affairs of trading partners). The scare tactic used was the threat of Israel bombing Iran unilaterally (thus implying tacit US support) and the damage that would do to Iran as an energy source for China. The other scare tactic was the implication that other states could go nuclear, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, implying that Japan was another possibility (something China would not view kindly). [Thanks WashPo] [Check out a condensed report from Political Theatrics here.)

Antony Loewenstein is getting into a bit of a tizzy about it, suggesting that these talks imply Obama will certainly acquiesce to Israel bombing Iran, I disagree. While the jury is still out on how far Israel will go to defend against the ‘existential threat’ and how far the US will go in trying to stop them, I don’t think these statements to the Chinese should all be taken seriously. They are scare tactics and meant as such, Obama needs the Chinese to either support (or at least not veto) resolutions against Iran in the UN and given their mostly self-interested political philosophies, he needs to frighten them into submission. I mean a nuclear Egypt? Never happen. But bringing up a nuclear Japan is pretty damn scary, as is linking bombing Iran with energy security.

So here we have Obama clearly using Israel as an attack dog, or rather hinting at the possibility of it breaking its chains. Remember the Suez War in 56 when the British and French used Israel as an attack dog? Yeah, that didn’t end well for them.

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