Mittwoch, 23. Januar 2008

IDF kills Two

Bei einem Feuergefecht zwischen der IDF und Hamas-Milizionären kommt ein Palästinenser ums Leben. Ein Palästinenser aus dem Jabalia-Flüchtlingslager erliegt seinen Verletzungen, die er drei Tage zuvor bei einem israelischen Luftangriff erlitten hat. Unter dem Tag kommt es zum Abschuß von 15 Qassam-Rakten auf Israel und einem sniper-Angriff auf den Kibbutz Hashlosha.

Israel eases blockade on Gaza. Israel started transferring fuel, medical supplies and some food into the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, easing a tight closure that aid officials had warned could lead to a health and food crisis. The supplies that entered Tuesday included industrial diesel for Gaza's only power plant, which was shut down Sunday for lack of fuel, as well as diesel for generators and cooking gas, plus shipments of medical supplies and food from the United Nations World Food Program, said Captain Shadi Yassin, a spokesman for the Israeli Coordination and Liaison Administration, which oversees the Gaza crossings. ... The director of Gaza's power plant, Derar Abu Sissi, said that one of its two turbines powered back up as the fuel arrived, restoring electricity to some outlying areas of Gaza City. The plant shut down Sunday in the wake of the fuel shortage, leaving much of Gaza without electricity. Five Israeli tanker trucks parked at the Nahal Oz crossing on the Gaza border pumped 700,000 liters of fuel to the other side, enough to provide electricity to Gaza City for two days. Three more trucks delivered cooking gas, and a shipment of medicine was to be delivered later in the day. In all, Israel has promised three fuel deliveries over three days, for a total of 2.2 million liters, enough to keep the power plant running for a week, said Kanan Obeid, head of Gaza's energy authority. Defense officials said the fuel would be enough to power hospital generators, water and sewage pumps, as well as the Gaza power plant for "the immediate future." Mahmoud Khouzander, a spokesman for Gaza's gas station owners, said the group would reject a planned Israeli shipment of 70,000 liters of fuel for cars as insufficient. ... Even as Israel allowed some fuel and supplies to enter Gaza, and Kassam rockets again struck the western Negev, Israel tried to fend off a critical United Nations Security Council statement on Tuesday and boycotted a special UN Human Rights Council session. ... Israel was busy working behind the scenes Tuesday afternoon to convince members of the United Nations Security Council to reject a draft statement submitted by Libya, chair of the council this month, that calls on Israel to "immediately cease all its illegal measures and practices against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip." The council met in an emergency meeting Tuesday, called for by the Arab states amid a growing international outcry at what the European Union called the "collective punishment" of Gaza's residents. According to officials at the Israeli Mission to the UN, the US pledged not to agree to any statement concerning the situation in Israel, and said they expected other members of the Security Council to also reject the language of the statement. Eben frisch auf den Tisch... Ein Bericht von Steve Erlanger. ++++ Israeli and Palestinian envoys traded accusations of blame in the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday for the recent wave of violence in Gaza, which threatens to torpedo a fragile Middle East peace process. ++++ There is growing concern in Israel that the recent tightening of sanctions against the Gaza Strip will result in international pressure to transfer control of the border crossings into the Strip to the Palestinian Authority. ++++ Gaza's water and sewage systems are a matter of hours from almost total shut down as stocks of fuel to run vital pumps runs out according to international agency Oxfam.

Robert Malley, "The Gaza Timebomb": The Gaza Strip suffers from skyrocketing unemployment and poverty, and lacks medicine, fuel, electricity, food and other essential commodities. It is virtually cut off. It also is the most likely trigger for the next Arab-Israeli war. In the past few weeks, Palestinian militant groups have fired rockets and mortars into Israel. Israeli incursions and aerial attacks have resulted in Palestinian casualties, including one that killed the son of a senior Hamas leader. The situation is untenable, and both sides know it. Israel is unlikely to stand idly by as the Hamas arsenal grows and attacks continue. Hamas undoubtedly will retaliate for the deaths. Neither can afford to back down. Over recent weeks, Hamas officials in Gaza made clear they were prepared for a mutual cease-fire, entailing an end to rocket launches, a cessation of Israeli military attacks and an opening of Gaza's crossings. Since Hamas took over Gaza last June and the Islamists intensified their conflict with President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, their principal goals have been to consolidate their hold over the territory, re-establish law and order, and prove that they can govern. A severe conflict with Israel would threaten the first two objectives; maintenance of the border closures imperils the third.

AP: West Bank Jewish settler population rises by 5.1 percent - The number of Jewish settlers living in the occupied West Bank excluding annexed Arab east Jerusalem rose by 5.1 percent last year, figures released by the Israeli interior ministry on Sunday showed. The Jewish population increased to 282,362 in January this year compared to 268,163 in January 2007 and 253,371 in the first month of 2006. The figures exclude a further 200,000 or so settlers in east Jerusalem which Israel annexed following its capture in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The population increase in the settlements is three times greater than the 1.7 percent increase in the Israeli population as a whole.

Haaretz/UN: A United Nations report released Tuesday shows that there has been a six-percent rise in the number of barriers in the West Bank, despite pledges by Israel to reduce this amount. Click here to see the full report. The report, which comes alongside the Consolidated Appeal to raise $462 million for the Palestinian population, contains a particularly pessimistic summary of 2007 in the territories.
# Despite the promises to reduce them, the number of fixed physical barriers in the West Bank have increased from 528 to 563.
# 49 percent of Palestinian households in the West Bank and 79 percent in the Gaza Strip live in poverty.
# 34 percent of Palestinians face "food insecurity" (which is defined as households with income and consumption of $1.6 per day).
# The water supply dropped last year to 75 liters per person a day in the Strip and to 80.5 liters in the West Bank, approximately half the international standard.
# Some 10,000 Palestinians who live in enclaves west of the West Bank fence are cut off from vital health and education services and from family and social networks.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Israel's arms development firm, unveiled plans for a new missile system Tuesday designed to intercept mid to long-range rockets and missiles of the kind used by Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War. The firm introduced the "Stunner" missile during a visit from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister's Office said. ++++ "The questions come to Israel, whether it will use military force to stop Iran," former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton said Tuesday. ... Also speaking at the session, former chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and Likud MK Yuval Steinitz blasted the American National Intelligence Estimate, calling it "the most bizarre report I have ever read." Steinitz said the report, issued jointly at the end of 2007 by several American intelligence agencies, "seriously harmed the struggle to contain Iran. The report gave Russia and China a pretext to soften their stand towards Iran and therefore created great damage, despite being essentially unfounded." "The report was given to the White House and relevant agencies unannounced, so there is a certain problem regarding [the American] democracy," he added. ... Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon called on Tuesday for an overhaul of the two-state solution that has been the basic premise of a diplomatic solution since the beginning of the Oslo process in 1993. In a session at the Herzliya Conference entitled "Negotiating the final status agreement," Ya'alon said a brand new paradigm was needed, one that called for long-term crisis management rather than finding a short-term solution, which he said was currently impossible to reach. ... "The Supreme Court has acquired the widest possible power of judicial review, the likes of which don't exist in any democracy," renowned constitutional thinker and former Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya president Prof. Amnon Rubinstein told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. "It arrived at this power by abolishing the rules of standing, which limit who can approach the court on constitutional issues; by limiting the concept of non-justiceability to specific cases; and by holding that the court can rule an act [of government] unreasonable and nullify it." ... Is there American pressure on Israel limiting its options regarding the peace process or military decisions? According to a former Middle East advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney, there isn't any pressure - just bad communication. "We hear often that Israel has to pursue policy because it's under pressure from the American president, our closest friend. Is that true?" asked former MK Natan Sharansky, introducing the former advisor, Dr. David Wurmser, at lunch at the Herzliya Conference. Wurmser: "I would have been very surprised if prime minister Sharon or Olmert had said to the president, 'We have a vital interest to protect,' and the president would refuse. I never saw a moment like that." Wurmser admitted "there are some voices in Washington" that want to pressure Israel, but not at the political level.

Weltmächte einig über Strafen gegen Iran - Die Außenminister der sogenannten Iran-Sechsergruppe - USA, Russland, China, Frankreich, Großbritannien und Deutschland - einigten sich am Dienstag bei einem Treffen in Berlin darauf, im Uno-Sicherheitsrat neue Strafmaßnahmen gegen Teheran zu beschließen. "Wir haben uns gemeinsam auf den Inhalt einer weiteren Resolution verständigt", sagte Außenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) nach dem Treffen. Der Iran hat bereits angekündigt, sein Atomprogramm unverändert fortzuführen. ... In europäischen Diplomatenkreisen hieß es jedoch, die neuen Sanktionen würden wie in der Vergangenheit auf die Atom- und Raketenprogramme des Iran beschränkt bleiben. "Es wird kein generelles Wirtschaftsembargo geben", hieß es. Allerdings dürfte die Europäische Union bei der Umsetzung der neuen Strafmaßnahmen weiter gehen, als im vom Sicherheitsrat beschlossenen Text vorgeschrieben. Ähnlich war die Gemeinschaft bereits bei den früheren Sanktionsrunden vorgegangen. [Was auch immer da mit "Neuem" gemeint sein soll erübrigt sich zu fragen: Die Photoshooting-Stundenpolitik geht weiter.]

As the country braces for the opposition's promised escalation on January 27 by taking to the streets in the event the Arab foreign ministers' meeting in Cairo fails to address the Lebanese political crisis effectively, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa has promised to return to Beirut before that date to continue his efforts to reach an agreement between rival factions. Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov met with Syrian officials in Damascus on Tuesday, declaring his country's support for Arab efforts to resolve the Lebanese impasse. "We consider this initiative gives the Lebanese the opportunity to determine how they will order their house and elect a new president," Saltanov said. Saltanov met with Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa, Foreign Minister Walid Moallem and Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad. Mekdad said he was certain that Moussa would continue his mediation efforts to help resolve the Lebanese crisis. "There is one interpretation to the Arab initiatiative, that no party have the power to hinder or monopolize government," he said. ++++ Der seit langem schwelende Konflikt zwischen Sunniten und Schiiten im Libanon entlädt sich immer häufiger in Gefechten. Zuletzt kam es in der Nacht zum Dienstag in einem Stadtviertel Beiruts zu Kämpfen zwischen Anhängern der beiden muslimischen Glaubensrichtungen.

Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip is a 'catastrophe,' a senior Palestinian official said in an interview published in a German daily Tuesday. Salam Fayyad, the acting prime minister under Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the Israeli response to the missiles from the Gaza Strip was 'definitely disproportionate,' although he acknowledged Israel's right to defend itself. But he repeated the main problem in the conflict was the continued building by Israel of settlements on the West Bank. 'While we negotiate on the main points of conflict, Israel continues to extend settlements on the West Bank. That is the biggest problem,' Fayyad told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

B’Tselem notes that lately, there has been a rise in assaults by soldiers on B’Tselem workers filming violent settlers in Hebron. The assaulting soldiers usually claim that the act of filming is a provocation in itself. While government and military officials endlessly reiterate the importance of human rights organizations in Israel, this appears to be mere lip service when it comes to the attitude of security forces towards human rights defenders in Hebron. These statements appear to serve as a guise for a policy of systematically harassing human rights defenders.

Yossi Verter, "The Winograd Report / Olmert fires back at Barak, who is off to France" ++++ Ari Shavit, "The companies commanders outcry"

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