Posts Tagged ‘Hamas’
First of all, if you haven’t already, check out my previous post on this with the preliminary round-up of events.
I’m not going to continue posting the repeated commentary from the leaders of the international community because they all mostly repeat the same thing ad naseum. For those interested, there is a good roundup in this AFP story and the Al Jazeera & Guardian liveblogs will keep you abreast. Maan has a handy list of the nine (and counting) countries that have summoned Israeli ambassadors for an explanation.
Relevant news is coming thick & fast and it’s difficult to keep up with all of it so I will attempt to post what I think is most important.
Steve Hynd pointed his Twitter followers to UNSC Resolution 1860 that called for a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and also called for humanitarian aid, something that Israel has not been able to adequately provide. All reports from Israeli spokesmen that aid is being delivered on a daily basis are basically nothing but propaganda, aid is being delivered but it’s estimated to be 1/4 of what Gazans actually need to survive.
Speaking of the UN Security Council, Reuters is reporting that a meeting is being convened to discuss the issue.
It is being reported that the French equivalent of AIPAC, Le Crif, has condemned the Israeli attack (French) on the flotilla. I’m not sure how stridently pro-Israel-at-all-costs these people are but that strikes me as interesting. Also, Netanyahu has reportedly cancelled his scheduled visit to the US to begin indirect proximity talks and is flying back to Israel immediately to deal with the fall out.
For those interested in what the US has to say about this, first comments are non-commital as expected:
“The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy,” a White House spokesman said. [AFP]
Over in Britain, much is being made of Nick Clegg’s previously fairly public opposition to Israel’s blockade of Gaza. The question is, will Clegg be gagged by his coalition partners? Reports of protests at 10 Downing Street are already coming. David Milliband, without directly condemning Israel over the Gaza blockade, has voiced his opposition in not so many words.
India’s The Hindu, one of the few newspapers covering this in any detail in India, reports that Syria and Lebanon released a joint statement warning that Israel’s attack on the flotilla could be considered an act of war.
One thing that has been interesting to me throughout this debacle is the reaction of the much-maligned mainstream media. Criticisms over timeliness of reports and their wording notwithstanding, I’ll be looking at some of the personal tweets of celebrity journalists to gauge what’s considered legitimate feeling in the MSM camp. One example, Nick Kristof who has almost 1,000,000 followers on Twitter had this to say:
I didn’t RT early reports of Israeli military assault on #Gaza flotilla, ’cause I thought “Israel wldn’t be that stupid.”
From the Israeli side, most of the claims have been that the activists on board tried to ‘lynch’ and ‘stab’ the commandos who boarded the ship. Haaretz has a piece here. Here’s a quote from the IDF’s website:
During the boarding of the Marmara ship, demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs. According to reports, two weapons used was grabbed from an IDF soldier. The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose.
As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces first employed riot dispersal means, followed by live fire.
According to initial reports, these events resulted in over ten deaths among the demonstrators and numerous injuries. In addition, five naval personnel were injured, some from gunfire and some from various other weapons. Two of the soldiers were seriously wounded and the remainder sustained moderate injuries. All of the injured parties, Israelis and foreigners, are currently being evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Israel.
It is not clear yet how much of this is hasbara, propaganda and the like and how threatening the people on board were but Glenn Greenwald has an excellent sum-up of the situation at Salon.com. Here are some choice quotes which I will leave you with:
The flotilla attacked by Israel last night was carrying materials such as cement, water purifiers, and other building materials, much of which Israel refuses to let pass into Gaza. At the end of 2009, a U.N. report found that “insufficient food and medicine is reaching Gazans, producing a further deterioration of the mental and physical health of the entire civilian population since Israel launched Operation Cast Lead against the territory,” and also “blamed the blockade for continued breakdowns of the electricity and sanitation systems due to the Israeli refusal to let spare parts needed for repair get through the crossings.”
It hardly seemed possible for Israel — after its brutal devastation of Gaza and its ongoing blockade — to engage in more heinous and repugnant crimes. But by attacking a flotilla in international waters carrying humanitarian aid, and slaughtering at least 10 people, Israel has managed to do exactly that. If Israel’s goal were to provoke as much disgust and contempt for it as possible, it’s hard to imagine how it could be doing a better job.
Marc Lynch has some sobering words about the attitude towards Gaza by successive US administrations:
This crisis — and it is a crisis — is the fairly predictable outcome of the years of neglect of the Gaza situation by the Bush and Obama administrations. Bush turned a blind eye during the Israeli attack on Gaza in December 2008, and then the Obama team chose to focus on renewing peace talks between the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority while continuing to boycott Hamas. The U.S. only sporadically and weakly paid attention to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the strategic absurdity and moral obtuseness of the Israeli blockade, or the political implications of the ongoing Hamas-Fatah divide. Now, on the eve of Obama’s scheduled meetings with Netanyahu and Abbas — the fruits of the “honey offensive” towards Israel — can they be surprised that Gaza is blowing up in their face?
One thing I like about both these pieces is that they maintain the focus on Gaza, Cast Lead and the crippling blockade. If it’s one thing I want you to take away from all this: do not forget to place these events in context. Israel has successively tightened the noose around an impoverished, humiliated and starving population begging for humanitarian aid. This alone constitutes a crime against humanity if there ever was one. The events on the Freedom Flotilla may be another nail in Israel’s coffin when it comes to Global PR but they should rightly point to what caused the boats to set sail in the first place: Israel’s barbaric blockade and the international community’s constant blind eye. Remember these things so that those that died on that boat didn’t die in vain.
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.
By now you should have heard about the alleged Mossad assassination in Dubai of Hamas commander Mahmoud Al Mabhouh that occurred on January 20. Developments have been coming thick and fast in the last few weeks and the incident seems to have spawned a serious diplomatic rift between Israel and Great Britain. According to Haaretz:
Israel’s ambassador to Britain has been summoned to a meeting with a senior Foreign Office official Thursday, to clarify what London called the “identity theft” of six British citizens living in Israel.
Israel’s ambassador to the Republic of Ireland, Zion Evroni, said Wednesday that he too had received a summons from the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs and would be meeting with Minister Michael Martin on Thursday.
In Jerusalem, Foreign Ministry officials declined to comment on the matter, but an Israeli diplomat said on condition of anonymity that the government has decided to withhold a public statement until the British message is received, and would then choose how to respond.
Haaretz also asks some serious questions about the alleged assassination in a strongly-worded editorial, casting doubt over the cleanliness of the operation and its necessity, particularly noting that it “placed in harms way” the Israelis whose identities were allegedly stolen, and that it endangers relations with European allies and embarasses the authorities of the United Arab Emirates, considered a moderate Arab regime and a possible US ally in a future strike against Iran.
Hamas has responded by vowing revenge, not particularly surprising, but this adds further fuel to the fire that instead of any moves towards reproachment with Hamas, Israel is still acting as the aggressor.
Another interesting read is Gideon Levy for Haaretz, who asks what actual benefit comes from Israel assassinating key enemy figures:
We eliminated Abbas al-Musawi? Well done, Israel Defense Forces. We got Hassan Nasrallah. We killed Ahmed Yassin? Well done, Shin Bet security service. We got a Hamas many times stronger. Abu Jihad was eliminated? Well done to the Sayeret Matkal special forces unit – of course, according to foreign news reports. We killed a potential partner, relatively moderate and charismatic. As a bonus, we got revenge attacks like those after “the Engineer” Yihyeh Ayash was slain. We also got the danger hovering over every Israeli and Jew in the world each anniversary of the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, which was also blamed on Israel.
It is important to remember that political assassinations are illegal and possibly immoral, but if we look at the alleged assassination from a strategic point of view, what benefit will come to Israel? Levy does an excellent job of pointing out how previous assassinations have contributed nothing positive to Israel’s security in the long term, only possibly harmed it. The Haaretz op-ed points out the international political implications of the hit and the moral implications for Israelis (and Jews considering migrating to Israel) everywhere. It doesn’t hurt to also point out that the current political climate, with advances (albeit small) made by J-Street and the Goldstone Report in helping Israel gain international notoriety for potential human rights abuses may not make the best climate to botch an assassination in a place as globally prominent as Dubai. I don’t think this will lead to any tangible result, such as a conviction, but it will definitely lead to more questions asked by the international community about where exactly Israel is heading as a state and where the lines are to be drawn on our support for it. And that can’t be good for the Israeli PR machine.
The EU has taken a stand, of sorts, on Jerusalem, stating that it needs to be shared between Israel and Palestine and that it must be the joint-capital of both states:
“If there is to be a genuine peace, a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states,” EU foreign ministers agreed in a statement released on Tuesday, diplomats said.
That was Israel’s main concern: There was a lot of fear that the EU would demand the 1967 borders be locked in place. If those borders were fixed, then major Jewish settlements like Gilo would become part of a future Palestinian state — an unacceptable outcome for the Israeli government. The original policy document, drafted by Sweden, made just that demand, but it was watered down in last-minute discussions this morning.
To be fair, the wording of the original statement was pretty rigid:
“The EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem,” said the [original] EU ministerial draft. [Haaretz]
I don’t think it necessarily warrants some of the Israeli rhetoric though, like comparing Sweden’s approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace to IKEA furniture, as one official said:
“The peace process in the Middle East is not like IKEA furniture,” one official said, making a reference to the do-it-yourself Swedish furniture chain. “It takes more than a screw and a hammer, it takes a true understanding of the constraints and sensitivities of both sides, and in that Sweden failed miserably.” [FP]
FP makes a good point on this:
Please. The original draft praises both Israel’s settlement freeze and U.S. mediation efforts. You can debate whether or not it’s productive for Sweden to be issuing proclamations on where the Palestinian border should be drawn, but in the end, these declarations have only about as much weight as the parties involved choose to give them. Which, judging from the righteous outrage out of Avigdor Lieberman’s shop, seems to be quite a lot. This sort of thing might play well to Lieberman’s political base, but internationally it just gives the EU’s East Jerusalem critique way more publicity than it would have had before.
The Swedes hold the EU rotating presidency at the moment, and the EU is an entity that people listen to, it’s not one of the unfortunately irrelevant minor countries of the UN General Assembly. If Israel chooses to respond to Swedish declarations in this manner, it just gives them more prominence and ensures that more people listen. While the EU obviously doesn’t have the same sort of international clout as the US, it’s definitely not irrelevant and the Israelis are only making it more relevant, particularly in the international press.
Interestingly, Haaretz also calls the claims over Jerusalem “the most intractable issue” in the conflict which to me seems a bit of an exaggeration. I’m pretty sure right of return, overall borders and demilitarisation of the Palestinian state are also pretty important issues. Oh and, Gaza/Hamas. I don’t think Israel’s going to let up on that one without a fight.
The Israelis have reacted in typical fashion to the resolution, ignoring the content of it itself and accusing it of not being productive for the ‘peace process’ (I’m starting to forget what that is meant to refer to) and calling “the Palestinian refusal to return to the negotiating table” the main factor halting peace negotiations at the moment. The settlement freeze notwithstanding, I’m pretty sure there are bigger factors than this one. Like maybe, Abu Mazen’s growing irrelevance? The US State Department has toed the line and, in not so many words, told the EU to stay out of it.
Meanwhile, Israel is attempting to further isolate Gaza by imposing an unofficial block on officials entering the territory. It’s run by terrorists y’all! Why would you want to go there? Go to Egypt instead, it’s nicer!
In other news:
– Check out the interview/eyewitness account of Cast Lead over at PoliticalTheatrics
– Iraq elections have been shifted to March 7th
– Lady Gaga met the Queen of England. ZOMG!
The resolution passed 25-6, with mostly developing countries in favor and the United States and five European countries opposing. Eleven mostly European and African countries abstained, while Britain, France and three other members of the 47-nation body declined to vote. [JPost]
The resolution agreed in Geneva simply calls for the U.N. General Assembly to consider the Goldstone report and for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report back to the Human Rights Council on Israel’s adherence to it.
The report calls for the UN Security Council to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court if the Israelis or Palestinians fail to investigate the alleged abuses themselves. [Haaretz] (For full breakdown of votes for/against/abstentions click the Haaretz link
Against: The U.S., Italy, Holland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Ukraine.
For: China, Russia, Egypt, India, Jordan, Pakistan, South Africa, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ghana, Indonesia, Djibouti, Liberia, Qatar, Senegal, Brazil, Mauritius, Nicaragua and Nigeria.
Abstain: Bosnia, Burkina-Faso, Cameron, Gabon, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Belgium, South Korea, Slovenia and Uruguay.
Refused to Vote: Britain, France
Not Present: Madagascar and Kyrgyzstan were not present during the vote.
We’ll update you on new stuff that comes out of this as soon as we can. In the meantime… here’s your daily dose of crazy.
The Guardian pretty much sums up the repercussions of this:
Hamas looks unlikely to investigate its actions during the war and Netanyahu has already insisted he will not allow any Israelis to face war crimes trials. The US would almost certainly veto any decision critical of Israel if the issue reached a vote in the security council.
It’s good to see that this vote has been passed, it’s interesting to see that Bibi’s shuttle diplomacy during the meeting only succeeded in bringing around the US & some Europeans. This could be a further indicator that the first to abandon Israel’s side completely will be the developing world. However, despite a good deal of discussion in the UK about this, it’s disappointing that they chose not to vote for it in the end and decided instead to not participate due to lack of time. The old stalling ploy. Nice one, Gordon.
Sometimes I wonder why Haaretz continues to put this kind of crap into print, maybe the anti-Goldstone lobby simply has no real reasonable ammunition left so they just have to make do with intermittently sounding either like a bunch of petulant children or old men shaking their fists at clouds, and maybe Haaretz just prints it in order to sound “fair and balanced”.
This here article by one Yoel Marcus is so chock-full of ridiculousness that I just can’t help myself, let me sum it up for you:
Firstly, Turkey is clearly on its way to becoming a member of the Axis of Evil since the grave error of supporting the Goldstone Report sin of not allowing Israel to use their airspace for military exercises was committed. But don’t worry, this doesn’t matter, the Turks don’t matter, WE DONT NEED THE TURKS (despite them being the biggest economy in the region & Israel’s only friend in it). Also, apparently the Turks no longer have any right to criticise anyone since what they did to the Armenians and the Kurds, nope, no right at all. Never mind that, you know, of course this in no way refutes the fact that Israel killed children in Gaza, as the Turks rightfully pointed out… it’s just that the Turks can’t say anything cos they were bad too! Tattle-tales! While poor Israel has “become the world’s doormat” despite having the unquestioned support of the world’s only superpower.
Furthermore, Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denying means he is in no way allowed to consider nuclear weapons, for shame for even suggesting it, while Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons arsenal or ‘the thing we do not speak of’ is… cool. The article also credits Netanyahu for his grand-peacemaking plan: “Two states for two peoples”, all credit to Bibi, perhaps he should get the next Nobel Peace Prize? Oh and bloody Abbas, he’s been such a terrible man, despite initially helping Israel whitewash the Report, Hosni Mubarak on the other hand “turns out to be the most level-headed leader in the region”. Amazing!
There is also this bizarre little gem explaining why we should not talk to Iran:
Dialogue? Go for it. The Iranians are known for their salesmanship – when someone asks the owner of a carpet store the time, he will end up buying three rugs before getting an answer.
I never wanted those bloody rugs in the first place but I have to say, they are rather pretty…
Anyway there’s more crazy in there but my rant was long enough. See it & behold for yourselves!
– Saba Imtiaz
Al Jazeera’s live stream crashed on me so I couldn’t view the endorsement of the Goldstone Report for myself. That personal boo-hoo aside, should one be fairly optimistic or fairly cynical of this? If the Goldstone Report has been decried so much already, will an endorsement make any difference?
I’m going to lean towards yes, despite the signals of a third intifada in the making. In terms of its symbolic value, the endorsement – as has the Report – have been discussed worldwide now. While the countries that voted for the endorsement are pretty much the ones expected to, it is an important sign that the Report wasn’t just reduced to piles of paper. Israel and Hamas (though the level of their war crimes are by no means equally proportional) need to be held accountable for what happened during Operation Cast Lead, but more importantly Israel needs to realize what a major blunder they have caused in the aftermath of the invasion.
This is also an important sign to the Obama administration. They need to read (seriously, the amount of ill-informed opinions there are floating out there!) the Goldstone Report and realize that neither does their approval of the Israeli government’s actions help nor do their half-hearted squawks of disapproval hurt whenever the Israel government allows building settlements. If President Obama’s ill-thought out Nobel Peace Prize win was a “call to action” to him, then the time is now to act.
And if you’re looking for more optimism, Marc Lynch has a fairly good idea of why this could help move the peace process along.
First, the vote shows that Israel is paying a price for its short-sighted diplomatic strategy of confrontation with the Obama administration.
Second, the passage of the report may slightly increase the odds of a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement under Egyptian auspices.
Third, the U.S. will almost certainly veto any move in the Security Council to act on the report. But given how much importance the Israeli government has given to the Goldstone Report, this veto might actually be used as a form of leverage.
Really, you know Mahmoud Abbas’ smiles are just for photo-ops. Cos he can’t have much to be happy about. As Alex wrote this week – “with every day his irrelevance seems to be growing.” And it seems to have grown just a little bit more today as the much-debated unity deal between Fatah and Hamas has been rejected, yet again.
I’m going to add on to Alex’s statement: with every day, Abbas’ incompetence also seems to grow by leaps and bounds. After all the delaying and hemm-hawing over the Goldstone Report, one would think Abbas would try and do something to one-up Hamas, who do seem to have notched up a minor PR win in the midst of the drama.
Even if Hamas does agree to sign on to the deal (a move that seems somewhat unlikely right now), Abbas is in major trouble. Wonder how much patience the Egyptians have left now…