Bei einer Welle von Angriffen durch Kampfflugzeuge der israelischen Armee kommen insgesamt dreizehn palästinensische Milizionäre ums Leben. Ein weiteres Mitglied des Islamic Jihad wird in der Westbank getötet
*** Gestern stirbt einer der Militärführer des Islamic Jihad al-Harazin und sein Untergebener at-Thahir und ein weiterer Brigadier bei einem IAF-Angriff auf ein fahrendes Auto das mit explosives beladen war. Fünf weitere Mitglieder des Islamic Jihad werden verletzt. *** In der Nacht sterben bei Raketenangriffen der IAF im westlichen Gaza City vier Islamic-Jihadisten. Drei weitere werden verletzt. Darunter soll sich Karim al-Dahdouh, master bomb-maker berfinden. *** Am Morgen sterben vier Mitglieder des Islamic Jihad vor einer Moschee im Jabalia-Camp. "Several" Verletzte werden gemeldet, darunter auch Zivilisten. *** Bei der ehemaligen Siedlung Moraj werden zwei Polizisten die der Hamas zugerechnet werden durch einen Luftangriff getötet. Vier weitere werden verletzt. *** In der Westbank wird der Al-Quds-Brigaden-Führer Tariq al-Ghali durch eine israelische Todesschwadron in Jenin hingerichtet. Drei weitere Brigadiers werden verletzt. +++ Am Kerem Shalom crossing werden drei Qassam-Raketen auf israelische Stellungen abgefeuert. Eine weitere in Richtung Ashkelon. In der Westbank verhaftet die Fatah sechzehn Hamas-Mitglieder.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak Tuesday told retired general Jim Jones, the recently appointed U.S. envoy to the Middle East, that Israel must brace for the possibility of retaliatory attacks following a series of IDF raids that killed at least 13 Islamic Jihad and Hamas militants. During their meeting at the Defense Ministry, which also included IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenzi and other senior defense officials, Barak mapped out Israel's security priorities, voicing hope that the IDF would continue its "successful operations" in the Gaza Strip. Israel must take precautions and be on the alert for a possible response by the Islamic Jihad to recent IAF bombings in Gaza that killed a number of its members, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told US security coordinator James Jones on Tuesday. + While Defense Minister Ehud Barak promised residents of Sderot on Monday to do everything possible to stop Kassam rocket attacks, The Jerusalem Post has learned that the Defense Ministry has yet to transfer funding needed to begin production of a rocket defense system currently under development by the Rafael Armament Development Authority. Rafael's Iron Dome system was chosen in February by then-defense minister Amir Peretz as Israel's anti-Katyusha and Kassam rocket defense system. The system is designed to be capable of intercepting Kassam and Katyusha rockets with a small kinetic missile interceptor and is scheduled to be operational for deployment outside the Gaza Strip and along the northern border within two years. Its development is valued at $300 million. + Yoel Marcus, "A Vietnam called Gaza"
Vice Premier Haim Ramon said Tuesday that Israel was moving ahead with construction in major West Bank settlements, but proposed compensating the Palestinians with Israeli territory under a final peace deal. Ramon's comments were the first time an Israeli official has openly endorsed the idea of a land swap. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also supports the concept, which could solve one of the most contentious issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Israeli settlement expansion poses a serious obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday, reiterating his call for a settlement freeze. + Interview with Morton Klein, National President of ZOA.
A 5-page Data Sheet released by Yesh Din reveals IDF failure to investigate and indict its soldiers involved in criminal offenses against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Territories. IDF statistics, provided to Yesh Din at the organization's demand, on results of Military Police investigations of criminal offenses in which IDF soldiers harmed Palestinians and their property since the beginning of the second Intifada in September 2000 until June 2007, show that some 90 percent of these investigation files were closed with no indictment. Over nearly seven years 1,091 criminal investigations were opened following offenses which include killing and injury of civilians, abuse, damages to property and others. These investigations resulted in 118 indictments only, of which 101 led to convictions of the accused. The data also show that out of the 239 investigations on killing and injury of Palestinian civilians not involved in the hostilities, only 16 resulted in convictions: less than 7 percent of the investigations on this matter.
... Sources in Kadima revealed that the scolding was also - perhaps even primarily - intended for Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who reportedly issued much harsher criticism of the American report and also attacked US President George W. Bush personally in a speech on Wednesday at the Institute for National Security Studies. Unlike Dichter, who criticized the report openly, Barak insisted on being quoted as a "high-ranking diplomatic source." "Bush failed in his handling of the nuclearization of Iran," Barak said, according to press reports. "The US failed in putting the brakes on the Iranian bomb. If the Iranian nuclear threat was closer to the US, like in Mexico or Cuba, the American reaction would have been much more serious." Barak said the Bush administration made a mistake by confronting the Chinese on human rights violations and the Taiwan issue, and the Russians about Chechnya and the stationing of missile defense systems in Eastern Europe. He said Bush should have instead tried to cooperate with Russia and China against Iran. "The chances of drafting an international coalition against Iran while Bush is president approach zero," Barak said. "We are waiting for the next administration." Regarding the report, Barak said it was "impacted by the American political atmosphere and not professional considerations."
Farah Stockman, "Bushs bid to punish Iranian banks stalls": The Bush administration's new policy of penalizing Iranian banks is facing a critical challenge as financial institutions in Russia, China and much of the Middle East decline to cut ties, analysts and diplomats say. Even Afghanistan and Iraq have so far declined to take action against Bank Melli, Iran's largest public financial institution, which was among the first foreign banks to open branches in Kabul and Baghdad. "Nothing is happening," Sinan Shabibi, governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, said recently by telephone.
Caellum Moffat, "Will Donor Dollars ensure future state?": On December 17, the highly anticipated day-long donor’s conference commenced in Paris. The conference, brainchild of Middle East envoy Tony Blair and attended by 70 countries and 20 organizations, aimed at providing a monetary basis to reform and develop the dire economic situation in Palestine as well as to set the conditions for the creation of a secure, stable and sustainable Palestinian state.
UNDP: "The Gaza strip - A private sector in decline": The private sector is labeled as the engine of sustainable economic growth and development in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). The Palestinian Reform and Development Plan 2008-2010 calls for the private sector to generate productive employment, produce high value-added goods and services, and create the surplus needed to enhance national prosperity. However, evidence suggests that the private sector in the Gaza Strip finds itself in dire straits, and the obstacles it faces need to be removed, if it is to recover and carry out its role as the key actor stimulating growth.