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Entries in Shimon Peres (3)


The Latest on Turkey, Israel, and the Crash in Davos (Video and Analysis)

Latest Post:The Turkey-Israel Clash on Gaza -The American Jewish Committee Joins In

Israeli President Shimon Peres says he has had an "amicable" telephone conversation with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: "I called him up and said, yes, it's nothing against you, nothing against Turkey. We consider you as a friend." Peres added that he had answered "unfounded accusations".

Erdogan, meanwhile, told a conference Friday afternoon: "Nobody has the right to wish that an incident in which 1,300 people died and 5,000 people were injured be ignored.” Even more significant was his linkage of Turkey's emerging role in the Middle East with his domestic political position. Citing the "fundamental slogan" of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish state, “Peace at home, Peace in the world”, he continued, "This is why we mediated between Israel-Syria and Israel-Palestine; we played an active role in the solution of Lebanon conflict.”

Erdogan was careful to express his position as one of opposition to violence and killing, rather than an opposition to Tel Aviv: "We do not blame Israel, the Israeli people and Jews.…We are against anti-Semitism…” He may, however, be facing a challenge from the Turkish military. Brigadier Metin Gurak, the Chief of the Communication Department of the General Staff declared that it was essential to act "in accordance with the national interests" in terms of Turkey’s bilateral military relations with others.

Scenes of thousands of Gazans gathering on streets to show support for Erdogan divided media and the public in Turkey. While some accused the Prime Minister of not putting sufficient emphasis on the "terrorist" identity of Hamas, others appreciated his "determined" and "idealist" posture on the stage in Davos.

Turkey, Israel, and the Crash in Davos

Update: The Latest on Turkey, Israel, and the Crash in Davos (Video and Analysis)
Related Post: The Turkey-Israel Relationship - Reports of Its Death Are Premature

It was an extraordinary scene yesterday at the World Economic Forum held in Davos, where hundreds of participants and millions in front of their televisions witnessed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s denunciation and his departure before the session was closed.

Erdogan targeted Israeli President Shimon Peres, claiming his "high-toned statements" were made to "hide his guilt". Both Israeli actions in Gaza and the applause after President Peres’s speech were "crimes against humanity".

Asking for an extra minute from the moderator, Erdogan accused Israelis of “being good in killing” before quoting the 6th commandment of the Torah: “Thou should not kill.” When the moderator tied to interject, Erdogan warned him not to interrupt and said, “Davos is over for me.”
In Turkey, hundreds of party members and citizens, Turkish flags in their hands, have been waiting outside the airport to welcome Erdogan, after his ‘heroic attitude’ in Davos. On the other hand, there is a shock in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to diplomatic sources. Senior officials are afraid that this strained relationship with Tel Aviv may diminish the Jewish lobby’s support in the US for Turkey's position on Armenia.

For Israeli diplomatic sources, Erdogan’s speech was just another part of his "attack against Israel”. They labelled his behavior on the Davos stage an incoherent step in Turkey’s efforts to become a rational and constructive part of European Union.

A reaction from the Israeli side is expected tomorrow.

Gaza: Rolling Updates on the Israeli Invasion (4 January)

Later Updates on the Israeli Invasion of Gaza (7 January)
Later Story: "Escape from Hamas", Become a Christian

Later Story: US State Department Twitter-Diplomacy in Action
Later Story: Was the Israeli Attack Planned in June?

3:02 a.m. OK, that's it for awhile. Thanks to all for supporting the blog and sending in items. Back in the morning.

3 a.m. Reuters reports Hamas to send delegation to Egypt on Monday at invitation of Egyptians. This will coincide with French President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to Cairo.

2:15 a.m. All those associated with the Israeli information campaign take note:

While CNN television is generally helping Israel hold its publicity line as it moves further into Gaza, CNN's website is confronting it. It is now leading with the story, based on the interview almost 12 hours ago with Norwegian doctor Erik Fosse, of patients "lying everywhere" in an Al-Shifa hospital lacking medicine and equipment. The website is also highlighting Fosse's remark that "about 30 percent of the casualties at Shifa Hospital on Sunday were children, both among the dead and the wounded". (The Palestinian death toll of 507 is now the #2 story on the website.)

So the comments of one brave, overworked doctor re-work, at least a bit, the "information war". Intriguing to see if this cyber-development, reinforced by the details coming in via Twitter, poses political problems for Israel tomorrow.

1:30 a.m. The general media line is "Israel forces push deeper into Gaza" but, without correspondents in Gaza (except for Al Jazeera's Ayman Moyheldin), they can offer nothing further. So instead CNN features the blathering expert "retired General David Grange" to explain, for example, "that Israel is cognizant of avoiding civilian casulaties" and to dismiss the notion of proportional response: "Operations will continue until the threat is removed. Regretably, civilians will get hurt in that operation."

12:45 a.m. After serving as a channel for Israel, CNN finally shifts because of a human interest story, connecting a Gaza resident (Moussa el-Haddad) with his daughter Laila, a blogger in North Carolina. The father gives a first-hand account of the Israeli attacks and psychological warfare and the daughter stresses getting "the message out" about the destruction.

Jim Clancy makes sure that Moussa el-Haddad is an OK guy, asking, "Do you support a political faction? Do you support Hamas?" He does not, which means he can proceed with his description of the Israeli assault.

12:10 a.m. Al Jazeera says six paramedics and a doctor killed by Israeli artillery shells

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking with Lebanese newspapers, condemns Israeli offensive but also "the heavy responsibility" of Hamas

11:45 p.m. Text message from Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert working at Gaza City's Al-Shifa hospital:

Thanks for your support.. They bombed the central vegetable market in Gaza city two hours ago. 80 injured, 20 killed, it all came here to Shifa. Hades! We wade in death. Blood and amputees. Many children. Pregnant woman. I have never experienced anything so terrible. Now we hear tanks. Tell it, pass it on, shout it. Anything. DO SOMETHING! DO MORE! We're living in the history books now, all of us! Mads G, 3.1.09 13:50, Gaza, Palestine.

11:35 p.m. Reports that UN officials saying 13,000 Gazans displaced by attacks. At least 20 percent of 507 Gazan deaths are women and children.

10:20 p.m. Israeli Air Force is using new bunker-busting bombs provided by US. According to The Jerusalem Post:

The missile, called GBU-39, was developed in recent years by the US as a small-diameter bomb for low-cost, high-precision and low collateral damage strikes.

Israel received approval from Congress to purchase 1,000 units in September and defense officials said on Sunday that the first shipment had arrived earlier this month and was used successfully in penetrating underground Kassam launchers in the Gaza Strip during the heavy aerial bombardment of Hamas infrastructure on Saturday. It was also used in Sunday's bombing of tunnels in Rafah.

(hat tip to Canuckistan)

9:40 p.m. Come back and CNN is still serving as mouthpiece for the Israeli military/political propaganda line. When I left, Michael Oren --- who is now 53 years old --- admitted he had been re-enlisted in the Israeli Defense Forces "to speak to the Western media". Now the pulpit has been taken by Adam Harmon, a US citizen who has fought in the IDF.

Here's the second-phrase propaganda strategy to accompany the second-phase ground operations:

1. Israel does not intend to re-occupy Gaza; it is just dealing with the Hamas threat.
2. Israel has learned its lessons from the Lebanon debacle in 2006, where it fought a battle without a clear strategic vision and co-ordination (and Hamas, unless Hezbollah, is cut off from the rest of the world).
3. Israel is concerned about the humanitarian situation of the Gazan population.

Yep, you got that last one right --- having produced a situation where Gazans are dying, wounded, starving, in the dark, suffering from cold, hiding in houses which may or may not be attacked --- Israel is "concerned" about them.

The absurdity of this came out with yet another military expert, retired Lt. Gen'l Russel Honore. He said --- with a straight face --- that having destroyed the rockets, the task for the IDF was to "win over" the Gazan people with food and medical aid.

The irony reminds me --- in a tragic way --- of Britain's Prince Philip, a keen hunter of all things two- and four-legged, "protecting" them as head of the World Wildlife Fund.

8:15 p.m. And now CNN, for objective analysis, is turning to Michael Oren (whom I once knew as a pretty good historian), who is now an arch-defender of Israel crushing "Islamic fundamentalists".

Enough pseudo-analysis amidst a lull in the news. Off to dinner with the kids.

8:07 p.m. Good old CNN. To counter the images of humanitarian crisis, correspondent Christiane Amanpour trots out to give the response of Israeli Foreign Minister's Tzipi Livni: "I can't understand this notion of proportionality....They are targeting civilians. We are not."

Oh, yes, Amanpour also recycles Benyamin Netanyahu's talking points one more time. Why not just attach her and CNN to the Israeli Foreign Ministry's communications section and be done with it?

8:05 p.m. Israeli Defense Forces is still saying 1 soldier killed and 30 wounded in fighting. More significantly, IDF says 40 rockets fired into southern Israel (up from 30 on Saturday)

8 p.m. Red Crescent sending a convoy of 11 trucks with medical supplies and food from Damascus. A test of the Israeli blockade: will the Israeli Defense Forces let the aid through?

7 p.m. Israel Defense Forces claim they have killed three leading members of Hamas' military wing: Housam Hamdan and Mohammed Hilou in an airstrike in Khan Yunis and Mohammed Shalpokh in Jabaliya.

6:40 p.m. Palestinian head of emergency and ambulance services say more than 50 Gazans killed since start of ground invasion.

Israel is allegedly dropping flyers asking Gazans to call and provide information. The Angry Arab News Service has a copy of one leaflet.

6:15 p.m. Forgive me, but this is really terrible journalism. Because CNN had Erakat on, it has to then put on former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In contrast to the "isn't Hamas terrible?" refrain thrown at Erakat, disregarding his points about the humanitarian situation and damage to the peace process, Wolf Blitzer plays set-up man for Netanyahu: "How do you respond to the UN Secretary-General's criticism of humanitarian action?", "There are some suggesting that Israel is seeking remove Hamas and install Mahmoud Abbas as leader in Gaza --- is that true?", "Finish your thought on how you're hoping this operation against Hamas will end differently from your operation against Hezbollah in 2006", etc.

So Netanyahu gets a comfortable platform to roll out his talking points which, at least to provide interest, include, "Ultimately we will have to remove Hamas."

6:10 p.m. On CNN Saeb Erakat, the chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, is issuing a strident denunciation of the Israeli attack and calling for an immediate cease-fire. Sticking to the proper script, CNN's Wolf Blitzer keeps banging on, "Is Hamas to blame for the current crisis?" To his credit, Erakat keeps cool, "I'm not here to score points. I'm concerned with the consequences --- this is undermining the peace process. We need a process of de-escalation," and calls again for cease-fire and dealing with the humanitarian crisis.

6 p.m. Shimon Peres, President of Israel, has rejected calls for a cease-fire on American television:

We don't intend neither to occupy Gaza nor to crush Hamas, but to crush terror. And Hamas needs a real and serious lesson. They are now getting it.

Al Jazeera is leading with the story of a father, mother, and three children killed in an Israeli attack in the northern Gaza Strip and a report on the "desperate situation" in Gaza's hospitals. The injured are dying as they await treatment.

In a disturbing twist on the medical story, Israel's Channel 1 is highlighting the allegation that "top Hamas terrorists" are hiding in Gaza City's Al-Shifa hospital.

Reports say Israeli Defense Forces have confirmed the death of one soldier. The IDF is denying that Hamas has kidnapped any of their troops.

Most telephone lines in Gaza have been cut. The only electricity for most people is coming from generators and car batteries, running small devices.

4:10 p.m. I'm taking a break to go bowling with the kids --- please send updates via "Comment" section and I'll upload on my return.

4:06 p.m. Forgive the analogy but this is starting to feel like the Israeli occupation of Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War.

4 p.m. Al Jazeera updates show Gaza split in half by Israeli forces. Ayman Mohyeldin reports that Israeli objective is to surround Gaza City --- Israeli forces can be seen advancing towards it. Question is now whether those forces will try and enter the city.

3:45 p.m. Al Jazeera shows statement of US Deputy Representative to UN, Alejandro de Wolf: "We are not going to equate the actions of Israel, a member state of the UN, with the actions of the terrorist group Hamas. There is no equivalence here."

3:30 p.m. United Nations Relief and Works Agency representative speaks of humanitarian crisis in Gaza and says population are being "terrorised" by situation: "It is impossible to convey in words how bad this is."

3:25 p.m. Doctor with Norwegian Aid Committee at Gaza's main hospital reports that majority of casualties are civilians. Almost 30 percent are children.

3:17 p.m. Israeli spokesman Mark Regev, reporting on this morning's Israeli Cabinet meeting, repeats the mantra that a cease-fire must be "sustainable and durable" and not just a "band-aid solution".

Pushing the political strategy, Regev stresses that there are "cracks" between Hamas and the Gazan population.

3:15 p.m. Hamas military spokesman Abu Obeida tells Al Jazeera that "entire Palestinian people support this resistance....The battle is just starting."

3:13 p.m. As Al Jazeera's correspondent on Israel-Gaza border gives a live report, two rockets are fired into southern Israel.

3:07 p.m. CNN has interview by phone with Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan (30 seconds)

3 p.m. CNN hands over its broadcast to Israeli Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog who, while setting out the proper interpretation of the "defensive" invasion, confirms that Israeli troops have moved from east to west to cut Gaza in two.

Herzog adds that concern for Gazans is "at the bottom of the heart" of Israeli Cabinet, as it ensures "no humanitarian pressure" in Gaza. Only 10 percent of Gazan casualties are civilians, and Israel has made more than 100,000 phone calls to the population.

2:50 p.m. At least 30 Palestinians killed since start of ground invasion. Fighting east of Hamas stronghold of Zeitoun.

2:15 p.m. Israeli troops have captured Al-Aqsa Television and are broadcasting messages calling on Hamas leaders to give themselves up.

The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, using this image from Reuters, is claiming the use of cluster bombs by Israeli forces. (hat tip to one of our readers)


2:10 p.m. Protests are growing in Ramallah on the West Bank with reports that Israeli forces have killed a Palestinian in Qalqilya.

2 p.m. Palestinian sources confirm that Israeli forces control eastern Gaza.

Lebanese Army and police use tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in front of US Embassy in Beirut.

Reports of 12 rockets fired into southern Israel. Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin confirms that rockets have been fired from Gaza City. Hamas says it welcomes Israeli ground invasion as a sign that it is winning the conflict.

1 p.m. Massive protests in Ramallah in the West Bank and in Beirut, Lebanon

12:30 p.m. Ominous signs for the Israel public-relations campaign: not only Al Jazeera but CNN are focusing on humanitarian crisis, showing medical staff treating injured on the floors of hospitals

12:15 p.m. Palestinian medical sources now say at least 25 Gazans killed since start of Israeli ground attack.