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Entries in Gaza Strip (8)


Egypt: Cairo Government Under Pressure Over Gaza 

egyptTrouble in Cairo: the Egyptian Government has been facing criticism for its opposition to the entry of 1400 international members of the Gaza Freedom March into the territory and its construction of an iron wall between the border of Gaza and Rafah in Egypt, trying to prevent smuggling tunnels under the 14-kilometre (9-mile) frontier.

On 22 December, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit defended the wall as a defense "against threats to national security". Eight days later, he reiterated, "What Egypt is doing is placing structures on its territory related to Egyptian defense." Meanwhile, Egypt's upper house of parliament, the Shura Council, endorsed the government's security measures in northern Sinai and along the border.

Israel’s “Grand Strategy”: Build More and More Settlements

Cairo also announced on Tuesday that only 100 internationalists would be given permission to cross the border. The Egypt Government also gave way to the 450 members of the Viva Palestina convoy, who are moving from Damascus to Egypt's El-Arish port, from where the group expects to enter Gaza.

Israel-Palestine: Foreign Minister Lieberman "No Peace for 10-20 Years"

avigdor-liebermanIsrael's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday that he sees no chance for a comprehensive Israel-Palestine agreement in the next 10 to 20 years. He added:
"We think that if we make more concessions everything will work out. Even if we return the last grain of sand, and divide Jerusalem, and agree to all the demands, nothing will change and we will be in the same situation....Israel has proved more than any other country that it is ready for painful concessions....

We brought here a group of terrorists from Tunisia, we gave them guns and a government....We need to tell the world that there are no "magic solutions". We will not get to a permanent agreement in the coming decade, or the one after that. The Palestinians are even unable to reach a stable peace agreement among themselves."

On the matter of peace talks with Syria under Turkish mediation, Lieberman said:
"I am not picking a fight with anyone but unsuitable things were said by the prime minister of Turkey.

As long as I am foreign minister, and as long as Israel Beiteinu is the senior member of the coalition, there will not be Turkish mediation between us and Syria, but rather only direct talks, in Jerusalem and in Damascus."

Lieberman's comments come as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is expected to visit the Palestinian Embassy in Ankara, marking the first anniversary of the war in Gaza. During his visit, Davutoglu is expected to reiterate Ankara's emphasis on the urgent need to lift the blockade on Gaza.

The Anniversary of the Gaza War: Who "Won" after Operation Cast Lead?

israel-palestine-war-maze-michele-roohaniIsraeli Defense Forces, commanded by the government of Ehud Olmert, started Operation Cast Lead on 27 December 2008. The operation took the lives of 1,400 Palestinians, including many civilians, and of 13 Israelis.

The officially-stated aim was to halt rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. “For the first time in years, the children of southern Israel can grow up without the constant fear of an incoming rocket and running to the nearest bomb shelter," Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev asserted on Sunday. So, the mission was “accomplished“ since there was no rockets coming over children in playgrounds.

Was it?

In a televised speech, the Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh said, "Gaza was victorious. Yes, Gaza was victorious with its steadfastness, its firmness and strength of faith.”

Was it?

On Sunday, about 3,000 people milled around a square in the northern Gaza town of Jebaliya,according to The Jerusalem Post. "I wish they had commemorated the war by opening a factory. That would have been better than this," said Gaza resident Rami Mohammed, 30.

This line set out the reaction of Gazans that Hamas has contributed heavily to their impoverishment, through its uncompromising position both against the Palestinian Authority and against Israel. In that sense, neither Hamas nor Gaza has been victorious.

On the other hand, the new government of Israel has showed no progress in its supposed aim of ameliorating the deteriorating political, social, and economic situation in Gaza. Instead of searching for dialogue to contribute to the $4.5 billion international reconstruction project, Israel completely closed the border. Arguably, leaving people in a cage without sufficient medicine and food and with inadequate and unsanitary water supplies; cutting interaction with the outside world, is a worse crime than directly bombing civilians during Operation Cast Lead. At the end of the day, it is Israel under heavy criticism from around the world. Is that victory?

On Sunday, United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon went beyond notions of victory. He said that was "deeply concerned that neither the issues that led to this conflict nor its worrying aftermath are being addressed", and he added that Gazans were being denied "basic human rights". Ban urged Israel to end its "unacceptable and counterproductive blockade".

Maybe a most significant reaction, however, is that of Khadija Omari, 45, whose brother Said Jaber, 32, was killed in the conflict:
The war made us aware of how much the Jews hate us. But we also hate the Jews even more. Now the children beg us to fight them, that's what the war taught us.

Israel & Turkey: Reunited by Heron Aircraft

heron_tp1The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reports that the "Heron crisis", the unmanned aircraft that were supposed to be delivered by Israel to Turkey in May 2008, has been resolved. The first six Herons, out of a total of 10 to be shipped, will be delivered to Ankara in April, with a formal announcement likely duing Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak's visit to Ankara in January.

Initially, the delay in the deal was technical --- the Israelis said that the Herons would climb to 30,000 feet, but the actual altitude was 22 thousand feet --- but the more significant complication was the tension between the two countries after Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip last December.

Meanwhile, Muharrem Dortkasli, director-general of the Turkish Aerospace Industry stated that Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit will pay a penalty of between $10 million and $15 million to retain the contract after the two-year delay in compleition.

Israel & Turkey: Repairing Relations, Leaving Gaza Behind?

Flag-Pins-Turkey-IsraelOn Friday, at the United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen, Israeli President Shimon Peres met his Turkish counterpart, President Abdullah Gul. Following Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's acceptance of an invitation to Ankara, Gul agreed to consider Peres' invitiation to come to Israel.

During the meeting, Peres tried to deal with the underlying causes of tense Israeli-Turkish relations. He did not defend the "necessity" of the Gaza War, but he blamed Hamas of dragging Gazans into trouble. Peres added:
Israel seeks real, just peace with its neighbors and has announced its willingness to go to great lengths to achieve peace.

Gaza could have turned into a prosperous area under Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas]. Unfortunately, Hamas murdered Fatah leaders in Gaza and is now gravely harming the Palestinian population. If Hamas changes course by recognizing Israel and denouncing terror, the face of Gaza will undergo an extreme change.

Israel & Turkey: Time to Repair Relations?