Tag Archives: Gaza Strip

Report: Egypt Preparing Large Assault Against ISIS in Libya Despite Opposition From Obama

President Abdel Fatah al Sisi,

President Abdel Fatah al Sisi,

Egypt is getting ready to launch a large air and ground attack against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in eastern Libya DebkaFile reports, quoting military and intelligence sources.

The Obama administration is reportedly opposed to the operation.

“Egypt is massing large-scale ground and air forces in the Western Desert along the Libyan border, in preparation for a military campaign to capture eastern Libya — Cyrenaica — from the Islamist State of Syria and Iraq — ISIS — occupation,” reports DebkaFile.

“The substantial naval and marine forces assembling at Egypt’s Mediterranean ports indicate the possible launching of the offensive by dropping Egyptian marines on the Libyan coast around Derna (pop: 100,000), which ISIS has made its provincial capital,” it added. “They may be accompanied by simultaneous landings of paratroops from the air.”

Some officials have warned that ISIS may use Libya to launch attacks against Europe.

The DebkaFile report notes that the Obama administration is against a direct invasion of Libya by Egypt, but would support Cairo taking action through local Libyan militias.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi was not convinced by CIA Director John Brennan who related Obama’s position on April 19.

“President El-Sisi was not surprised to hear from the CIA director that the Obama administration objects to a direct Egyptian invasion of Libya, but would not oppose Cairo acting through local Libyan militias,” said DebkaFile.

“Brennan leaned hard on the Egyptian president to follow Washington’s line, but El-Sisi refused,” it added later.

President El-Sisi did tell the CIA director that he does not plan to keep the Egyptian army in Libya. He is planning to pull his troops out after the jihadists are defeated. Ultimately, El-Sisi said he would hand power back to the elected Libyan government.

ISIS’ presence in eastern Libya and Sinai poses an unacceptable threat to El-Sisi’s country, noted the report.

“He has been warned in a number of intelligence reports that the Islamic State’s terrorists have already penetrated some Egyptian towns and even infiltrated certain army units,” it said.

ISIS is reportedly beefing up its presence in eastern Libya with reinforcements from Syria and Iraq to counter Egypt’s planned assault.

“From Syria, they are traveling by air or sea through the Mediterranean; from Iraq, through the Sinai Peninsula, whence oil and drug rings smuggle them across the Suez Canal and Egypt,” said DebkaFile.

Libya has been engulfed in unrest since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and executed in 2011 with the support of the Obama administration. Various tribes, militias, and political groups are competing for power in Libya.

The country has been split by two warring factions. One is led by the elected government operating out of Tobruk and the other by militias in Tripoli.

The Obama administration and other Western nations have been reluctant to intervene.

Egypt, without the support of the U.S., launched airstrikes against ISIS targets in Libya after the jihadist group beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians.

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Egypt’s Mubarak calls on Egyptians to stand behind Sisi

 former president Hosni Mubarak

former president Hosni Mubarak

Egyptian citizens should stand behind their leader Abdel Fatah al Sisi, President Hosni Mubarak said Sunday during a rare phone interview on private television channel Sada El-Balad.

“The sons of the armed forces, with President [Abdel Fatah] al-Sisi at the forefront today, know exactly the meaning of national sovereignty and the sacredness of national territory,” Mubarak said.

“We [Egyptians] should trust our army’s capabilities and stand behind it,” especially in this “difficult, complex stage,” Mubarak added.

Mubarak also stressed the importance of maintaining ties with “Egypt’s friends.”

During the interview, which coincided with the commemoration of the 33rd anniversary of the liberation of Sinai, the former president spoke about the withdrawal of Israel from the tiny peninsula in 1982.

Mubarak, was interviewed by TV host Ahmed Moussa.

In November 2014, Mubarak was cleared of charges of complicity in the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising.

Palestinian statehood bid fails at UN Security Council as US, Australia vote against

The UN Security Council has failed to adopt the Arab coalition’s bid calling for the creation of a Palestinian state and an end to Israeli “occupation”. The veto power US and Australia voted against the move with 5 abstentions.The draft resolution gathered only 8 votes in favour, so it was automatically defeated. The US however still used its veto power and voted against the resolution. Another veto power state, the UK, along with Lithuania, Nigeria, Korea and Rwanda have abstained from the vote.

“This resolution sets the stage for more division, not for compromise,” said US Ambassador Samantha Power, calling the draft a “staged confrontation.”

“The United kingdom supports much of the content of the draft resolution. It is therefore with deep regret that we abstained from it,” said UK ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant. “We are disappointed that the normal and necessary negotiation did not take place on this occasion.”

However, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said that Moscow “cannot share the objections of those who believe that the draft resolution was undermining the prospects of the negotiating process.”

“Unfortunately last year revealed how this process has gone into a blind alley, with its monopolization by the United States and their pullback from the Quartet [US, EU, UN and Russia]. We believe this to be a strategic mistake,” said Churkin.

“This draft reflects just demands of Arab states, including the Palestinian people, and is in accord with the relevant UN resolutions, the ‘land for peace’ principle, the Arab peace initiative and middle-Eastern peace roadmap. And is also in accord with China’s consistent position. We express deep regret over the failure of the draft resolution to be adopted,” said Liu Jieyi, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations.

Israeli authorities said they are “satisfied” with the failure of the Palestinian statehood bid at UN Security Council.

An official bid for statehood was submitted to the Council Tuesday by a Jordan-led Arab coalition. The bid featured a revised draft resolution of a similar proposal submitted earlier this month. Delegates voted on the measure Tuesday afternoon.

Highly opposed by the US and Israel, the first version of the draft resolution was submitted “in blue” to the UN Security Council last Wednesday. The Council includes five permanent members who hold veto power and ten additional members who serve two-year terms.

The resolution gives 12 months for a “just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which it regards as the creation of a “sovereign and viable” Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, as well as the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the occupied territory by 2017.

Its text had already seen several amendments that concern East Jerusalem as capital of the future state of Palestine, Israeli settlement building, and Palestinian refugees’ right of return, Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Abu Yousef told Asharq Al-Awsatnewspaper.

According to the current draft, Jerusalem is regarded as the capital of both Israel and Palestine, but the role of East Jerusalem in a future Palestinian state is not specified. “International legitimacy is our ceiling on this issue, and we cannot drop below this ceiling,” Yousef told the paper.

“I think there is very little doubt that any resolution in the Security Council that actually created a Palestinian state or called for real statehood would be vetoed,” US activist and journalist Phyllis Bennis told RT. “I think there is a big question whether the drafts that are now circulating actually do that. The French amendments in particular significantly weaken the idea that this is something that would actually create the Palestinian state.”

Bennis explained that “there is no consequence named. The resolution is not taken under either Chapter 6 or Chapter 7, which are the coercive chapters of the UN charter.” These chapters imply the use of military force and putting pressure against the state, such as sanctions.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday his administration would“no longer deal”with Israel in case of the resolution’s failure. “If the Arab-Palestinian initiative submitted to the Security Council to put an end to [Israeli] occupation doesn’t pass, we will be forced to take the necessary political and legal decisions,”the Algerian APS news agency quoted Abbas as saying.

Last Thursday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called a UN bid for Palestinian statehood an “act of aggression.”

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is adopting measures whose sole aim is to attack Israel, with no benefit for the Palestinians,” Lieberman said in a statement.

This summer, tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank escalated, leading to the 50-day conflict between the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinians. Operation Protective Edge claimed over 2,200 lives – most of them Gaza civilians.

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Hush Money: West turns blind eye on Qatar’s terrorism funding

British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) shakes hands with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (L)

Qatar gives Western countries money they desperately need, and in return it gets a blind eye to its actions in the Middle East, even sponsoring ISIS and other jihadists, Danni Makki, researcher specializing on Middle East security, told RT.

The Qatari royal family is planning to create a residence in the very heart of London, converting three properties in Regent’s Park into a single mega-mansion valued at over £200 million. The Al Thani family already owns some famous London landmarks like the Shard, the Olympic Park, and Harrods. While Qatar actively buys UK property and heavily invests in Britain’s economy, the appalling situation with human rights abuses in Qatar is simply ignored by London. In fact, Britain also turns a blind eye to Qatar’s links with extremist groups in the Middle East.

RT: What do you make of the accusations that Qatar is funding terrorists? They are pretty strong, aren’t they?

Danni Makki: They are very strong. Qatar is one of the global funders of terrorism in the entire world. Fair enough, Qatar has excellent economic relations with the Western countries but it has a policy of double standards. It maintains a great relationship with the Western countries and within the Middle East it fuels bloodshed, violence and lots of conflicts as we can see now from Libya to Syria, Iraq, Somalia, even the Gaza Strip. Qatar has a hand in funding terrorism in the Middle East; there are numerous radical jihadist movements within the Middle East who get funds from Qatar. And the Qatari government has turned a blind eye to its own nationals funding these movements for a number of years now. So in essence we must put the blame the US which does exempt Qatar from accountability in regard to this matter.

RT: If all this is well-known, why don’t we see more outrage over this?

DM: Of course not because the Western governments at this moment of time have fragile economies, they are struggling, they are desperate for funds. Qatar gives them funds. In response the Western governments allow Qatar to act as it wills in the Middle East and do what they want. There is in essence a kind of socio-economic agreement. Qatar has very well-known terrorist funders living within their country. Even the US Treasury added that Qatari nationals send up to £1.5 million every single month to ISIS fighters. And this is the same Islamic State which the Western countries are attacking.

RT: Britain is very sensitive to any terror-related things. ISIS killed its citizens, British soldiers are helping to root out ISIS in Syria and Iraq…Surely it would have reacted if these allegations against Qatar were true. What’s your take on it?

DM: Indeed. Qatari funds are killing Western journalists as we speak today, and there is, especially in the Western media, a kind of direction which is saying that Qatar is a terrorist state. We can get the statements of Sir Malcolm Rifkind who was a former Foreign Secretary and Defense Secretary. He stated that Qatar should be sanctioned, and this is very significant. We can argue today that people are shopping in Harrods, on a Qatari funded basis they are committing or aiding terrorism in a sense. It’s quite amazing in a sense, but this is actually reality on the ground. Qatari nationals have funded terrorism all across the Arab world. We could argue that groups like Al-Nusra Front or Ahrar Al-Sham in Syria, these groups who have been admittedly funded by Qatar, even a mayor of Qatar in his previous interview stated that “we stopped funding terrorism, we stopped funding extremism.” Of course Qatar hasn’t stopped, it has continued funding terrorism. At the same time Qatar is playing a policy of double standards, it’s almost lying in a sense to Western nations, attempting to exert its failed influence in the Arab world. The conflict zones in Iraq and Syria are very big testaments of that. We can argue that Sheikh Muhammad al-Arifi, the extremist Arab Sheikh who is banned from entering London was invited, after he was banned twice, to Qatar on government-sponsored visits. So Qatar is very complicit in aiding extremist groups, jihadists groups, and is very complicit in terrorist activities all across the world.

RT: You argue that Britain needs Qatar for the money. But why does Qatar need Britain?

DM: Qatar needs Britain first of all because Britain has a seat in the UN Security Council, because Britain is a very important country in terms of prestige. Qatar needs strong Western partners for its investments because it uses the Western world as a gateway to more economic domination, more economic hegemony. It feels that it has feasibility to roam around the Arab world, up to attempting to overthrow governments and create rebel groups who are Islamic extremists. And the West is accepting this. Why? Because they need Qatari funds. In France alone up until the year 2012 Qatar has invested up to £15 billion. In the UK today Qatar invested tens of billions of pounds. This is very significant for the actual basis of the Western economy this time and place, especially after the credit crunch. Qatar invested millions and billions into the Western economy. So without that you can argue that Western governments rely more on Qatari funds than Qatar do on Western government’s political power.

— RT Op-Edge

If the Gaza Truce Holds, What Then? 5 Possible Outcomes

How Operation Protective Edge might end — or carry on interminably

Egypt announced that Palestinian factions declared a 72-hour cease-fire to begin on Tuesday at 8 a.m. Israel sat out of the Cairo talks that produced the humanitarian truce, but said it would hold by the cease-fire, a government spokesman told TIME.Whether or not the parties actually make it through a full three days with no airstrikes or rocket attacks remains to be seen. Every other cease-fire effort undertaken since the escalation in early July has failed. But there is a more pressing question: What now? Who and what can put an end to the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Gaza — with 1,865 Palestinians and 67 Israelis killed so far – and also propose a longer-term solution?Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, on Monday offered a new idea for solving the Gaza problem: let the United Nations take control of the long-troubled territory. “Everyone is asking, what happens after the operation ends? Suppose Israel defeats Hamas. There are a few options. International control of Gaza, by the UN, should certainly be considered,” Lieberman said in a press conference. This has been tried in other war-torn locales, from Kosovo to East Timor. Why not Gaza?Well, for one thing, it would be an enormous and expensive undertaking for the international community to take responsibility for Gaza. It would also require Hamas and other militant groups to agree to participate in such a scheme, which is difficult to imagine given that they’ve built their entire identities around what they view as legitimate resistance to Israeli occupation. Still, many of the key players here say that almost a month into the bloodiest phase in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the Second Intifada, some significant change must emerge at the end of it. TIME looks at five possibilities for how this could end:

  1. Send in the UN. This would involve what’s been referred to as mini-Marshall Plan, including a massive rebuilding program that would help Gaza pick up the pieces. The task would be huge: electricity and water supplies have been compromised, and an estimated 10,000 homes have been destroyed or severely damaged. Shaul Mofaz, a former Israeli defense minister and IDF chief, has proposed some specifics. These include having the international community oversee the demilitarization of Gaza – a goal recently endorsed by Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu, but opposed by Hamas – and approximately $50 billion dollars for rebuilding. EU foreign ministers issued a joint statement July 23 backing demilitarization.
  1. Bring the PA back to Gaza: Israel and Hamas will eventually be brought into some kind of proximity talks under an umbrella of Egyptian sponsorship, and the outcome of those discussions would likely involve the return of the Palestinian Authority and its security forces to Gaza, casting them in a key role as guardians of the crossing points into Israel and Egypt – along with international help. The PA, run by the PLO’s secular Fatah faction, was forced out of Gaza in 2007 as part of a violent coup staged by Hamas, whose name is an acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement. Bringing a PA political and security presence back to Gaza would help beef up the legitimacy of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. As part of such an arrangement, Israel would likely demand a joint patrolling mechanism on the Gaza perimeter to prevent infiltrations and renewed attempts to rebuild tunnels, more than 30 of which the IDF says it has destroyed. However, the rockets from Gaza did not start when Israel pulled its troops and 8,000 settlers out of Gaza in 2005, but rather, Israel points out, in 2001. Therefore, Israel is likely to refuse any agreement that doesn’t include a mechanism for preventing Hamas from rebuilding its rocket arsenal. The fact that Hamas and Fatah joined in a “reconciliation” government in April makes this form of cooperation more feasible than it was even a year ago.
  1. A ten-year truce: Almost two weeks ago, Hamas offered Israel a 10-year hudna, or Arabic truce. Its terms include – but are not limited to – the following: (1) the release of approximately 50 Palestinian prisoners who, after being released as part of Gilad Shalit deal in late 2011, were re-arrested by the IDF in June following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank (2) the opening of the border crossings with both Israel and Egypt (3) international supervision of the Gazan seaport instead of the Israeli naval blockade, as well as extended fishing rights to 10 km off the coast of Gaza, (4) an international airport under UN supervision, and (5) International forces on the borders of Gaza. Even if Israeli officials were prepared to accept all of that — which would be unlikely — they have said that the very concept of a hudna, a concept rooted in Islamic history, is problematic because it suggests Hamas only believes in a limited period of calm with the Jewish state, but refuses a more permanent solution because it seeks its destruction.
  1. Possible reoccupation of the Gaza Strip This is an option that is often mentioned by Israel’s far-right, including some members of Netanyahu’s cabinet. Coalition partner Naftali Bennett, the Minister of Economy, said last week that Israel should continue its military operating until Hamas is completely defeated. Lieberman, the foreign minister, had suggested in late June that Israel reoccupy Gaza, saying only that would stop the rockets. Ultimately, Netanyahu appears to have rejected these calls, realizing that such a move would likely cause far more bloodshed and further rattle Israel’s already compromised international legitimacy.
  1. Indefinite war In this scenario, Israel withdraws its troops and tanks from Gaza, but continues to use air and naval strikes as it sees fit. Hamas stays in power and launches rockets at Israel whenever it pleases, and essentially, nothing substantial changes from how things looked a month ago – other than a great number of destroyed buildings and upwards of 2,000 lives lost. If the parties cannot agree on a cease-fire deal that feels satisfactory, “Operation Protective Edge” could simmer down into a indeterminate cycle of occasional attacks, robbing both Israelis and Palestinians of a return to normal life. Some are hoping that the right cease-fire deal is just around the corner, and some are wishing their leaders will keep holding out for more. But the possibility of a low-level war of attrition, lasting years and costing yet more lives, is not remote.

 TIME.

4 Hamas Billionaires and 600 Millionaires Turning Civilian Suffering into Hard Cash

By S.M. Lightening

The media in Israel, but more so in neighboring Egypt, is full of condemnations of Hamas leaders, who live in luxury hotels at the expense of the Qatar oil sheiks, or in mansions with the latest fitness equipment, while instructing the downtrodden civilians in the Gaza Strip to become martyrs in service of the Palestinian cause.

Middle East expert Col. (res.) Dr. Moshe Elad spoke to Globes this week about the estimated wealth of those Hamas leaders, who are beginning to be known popularly as the Arab world’s new tycoons.

Elad spent 30 years in the IDF, as Governor of Jenin district, Bethlehem district , Tyre district (in South Lebanon), and as Head of Security coordination with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, during the implementation of the “Oslo Accord” (’95-’98). Since his retirement, Elad has been teaching today at Western Galilee College, and at Galil – the International Management Institute.

“The vast majority of Hamas founders and leaders were refugees or second generation refugees,” said Elad. “They had no money at all. When they and Hamas were just starting out, the organization (not in its own name) was nurtured by the Israeli military government, which fostered the Islamic associations working in the Gaza Strip as a counterweight to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Their phenomenal wealth started accumulating when they decided to disassociate themselves from Israel and search for alternative financing sources.”

The money, says Elad, came from wills of the deceased, charity funds, and contributions from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and these days Qatar.

To remind you, the strongly pro-Hamas Al Jazeera Media Network is also funded by the ruling family of Qatar, the House of Thani.

With US based charities starting to funnel funds to Hamas, in the early 1990s, Hamas leaders began to acquire big money. “One of those fundraisers was Dr. Musa Abu Marzook, the number 2 man in Hamas,” says Elad. “He began a fundraising campaign in the US among wealthy Muslims, while at the same time founding several banking enterprises. He himself became a conglomerate of 10 financial enterprises giving loans and making financial investments. He’s an amazing financier.”

The US arrested Marzook in 1995, on charges of supporting terrorism. After he spent two years in jail, he was expelled without a trial. And he got to keep the money.

“When he was expelled from the US in 1997, he was already worth several million dollars,” Elad says. “Somehow he evaded the clutches of the US Internal Revenue Service and was not charged with financing terrorism. People in the know say he probably became connected to the administration and cooperated with it. There is no proof, but it’s hard to think of any other reason why he escaped punishment for such serious offenses. In 2001, in the investigation of the September 11 events, it turned out that he had extensive financial connections with Al Qaeda, including the transfer of funds to the 21 Al Qaeda operatives accused of the attacks.”

Today, Marzook is considered one of Hamas’ wealthiest billionaires. “Arab sources estimate his wealth at $2-3 billion,” Elad says.

Another Hamas leader-turned-tycoon is Khaled Mashaal. “Estimates around the world are that Mashaal is currently worth $2.6 billion, but the numbers mentioned by the Arab commentators are much higher, varying from $2-5 billion invested in Egyptian and Persian Gulf banks, and some in real estate projects in the Persian Gulf countries,” Elad notes.

Another tycoon terrorist is Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. “He is a scion of a family from the Al-Shati refugee camp, and his capital is estimated at $4 million,” Elad says. “He registered most of his assets in the Gaza Strip in the name of his son-in-law, Nabil, and in the name of a dozen of his sons and daughters and a few less well known Hamas leaders. They all have homes in good neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip, where the value of every home is at least $1 million.”

The Arshaq Al-Awsad newspaper, one of the most prestigious in the Arab world, recently reported that at least 600 millionaires were living in the Gaza Strip. Much of that money came from the smuggling operations, through hundreds of tunnels that used to lead into Gaza from Egypt.

“Senior Hamas leaders charged a 25% tax and $2,000 on every disassembled vehicle coming through the tunnels,” said Elad. “From June 2007 until 2010, $800 million in cash was transferred in tunnel deals (according to information from Hamas money traders). Hamas also taxes Gaza merchants on everything traded, from boxes of vegetables to luxury cars, and the leaders scoop the money into their pockets.”

Another source of wealth for Hamas leaders was land acquisition. “They took over land mainly near the sea in good areas, such as the former Gush Katif, then sold it. In effect, they are the cat guarding the cream – the land – so they were able to take over land and loot it for themselves,” Elad explains.
“This is corruption at the highest level, Elad concludes. “What has united the Palestinian leaders all throughout the years is the saying, ‘We have to get rich quick.’ This is how the regime sees it. Their leaders have no shame. Shortly after they got power, they took control of fuel, communications, and any other profitable sectors in the country. There are get-rich-quick schemes and corruption in Western society, too, but there it’s done sophisticatedly with envelopes of money and complex structures of bribery and the like. Among the Palestinians, they tell you straight out, ‘I want to get rich.’”

Hamas’s war is ultimately with Egypt

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, greets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his inauguration ceremonies at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, on June 8, 2014

The humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, which ran until 3 p.m. Thursday, ended abruptly. The two sides went back to fighting each other. Hamas fired rockets all over Israel, and Israel tried to strike the organization’s infrastructure, hitting Palestinian civilians along the way. Then, on Thursday night came the ground offensive — part two of Operation Protective Edge, as the IDF Spokesman put it. An Israeli delegation had returned from Cairo Thursday morning, where they tried unsuccessfully to reach a ceasefire. According to Egyptian media reports, the delegations from the two sides stayed in the same hotel in Cairo, as Egyptian mediators ran between them trying to bring about a truce

Hamas’s demands in the Cairo talks make it increasingly clear why the organization went to war. Hamas, it seems, initiated an escalation with Israel when its target was really Egypt. Hamas may be aiming its missiles at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, but Israel was ultimately a hostage in the Islamists’ effort to get closer to Cairo.

Hamas wants this in order to bring an end to the blockade on Gaza, open the Rafah Border Crossing, and in many ways to ensure its own survival.

On Tuesday morning, many people in Israel raised an eyebrow at Hamas’s rejection of the Egyptian ceasefire. But if we examine the crisis from the prism of Egypt-Hamas relations, we can see things differently.

Cairo offered the organization the same language it rejected from the outset: quiet for quiet. But for Hamas, the big problem was the way the Egyptian ceasefire was presented: At the same time that Razi Hamid, Hamas representative in Gaza, received the Egyptian document, the initiative was already being published in the Egyptian media.

This was a humiliation for Hamas, since no one thought to consult with its leadership. And still, as even senior Hamas officials admit, there is no other mediator in the region. Just like real estate agents who have a monopoly on a certain area, Egypt has a monopoly on Israel-Hamas relations.

Cairo might have no patience for the Palestinian group, treat it like an enemy for its deep connection with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and want to humiliate it, but Egypt’s own regional standing is no less important. Cairo does not want to see the involvement of any other regional actor, not Turkey and certainly not Qatar. (Egypt sees the al-Jazeera channel, which is so critical of the el-Sissi regime, as the long arm of the Qatari royal family and the semi-official mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood.)

The bottom line is that the key to solving the current escalation was — and remains — in Egypt’s hands, not in those of any other Arab or international party. Hamas demanded the opening of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza from almost the first minute of the operation. Egypt rejected the idea immediately, as long as Hamas stands on the Palestinian side of the crossing. But Cairo has emphasized that, if there are Palestinian Authority forces under Mahmoud Abbas deployed there, it has no objection to opening the crossing.

Hamas security forces stand guard at the closed gate of the Rafah crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip, May 2013.

And that is how the idea got rolling. The PA adopted it warmly, since it puts back Abbas at the center of things in Gaza. Israel didn’t reject it, primarily because it trusts Egyptian security oversight at Rafah. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni even held a series of consultations on the matter. And it seems as if, both in Ramallah and Jerusalem, the understanding was that Egypt would offer the opening of Rafah as part of the ceasefire package.

But Egypt didn’t play the proposal entirely right. It first offered quiet for quiet — perhaps in order to push Hamas into the corner, perhaps to keep another arrow in the quiver in ceasefire negotiations, perhaps both. Only after Hamas said no, and came out looking like a warmonger, did Abbas arrive in Cairo in order to come across as the one who proposed the idea that would save Gaza from both Hamas and Israel. A smart move.

The question remains, however, what will happen until the crossing is opened. Placing PA forces in Rafah, along the border and at the crossing, is not the work of a few hours. Abbas and Egypt made the offer to Hamas on Wednesday to first and foremost stop the firing, and then to talk about the opening of Rafah. Evidently the heads of the Hamas military wing were not prepared to do that.

In addition, Hamas has consistently presented other demands, such as the release of prisoners originally freed in the Gilad Shalit deal and re-arrested after the murder of the three Israeli teens last month, to which Israel does not agree at the moment.

And so, on Thursday evening, the possibility of a ceasefire grew dimmer and dimmer, and the ground option that Netanyahu so feared suddenly became the reality.

Who remembers now that some foreign media outlet reported a ceasefire would take effect on Friday morning at 6 a.m.?

The Times of Israel

 

Breaking news / Israeli military starts ground operation in Gaza

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the military to start a ground operation in Gaza, his office has announced.

“The prime minister and defence minister have instructed the IDF to begin a ground operation tonight in order to hit the terror tunnels from Gaza into Israel,” the statement said.

A large IDF force has launched a new phase of Operation Protective Edge, starting a ground operation in the Gaza Strip, an IDF spokesperson has confirmed.

As reported by the Associated Press, Israel had originally organized about 48,000 reserve soldiers for the operation, but on Thursday another 18,000 were called up. It’s unclear how many are actually involved in the ongoing ground offensive.

Israel’s chief military spokesman Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz, meanwhile, urged residents in Gaza to evacuate areas in which the military is operating, since it is doing so with “very great force.”

According to the IDF statement, the goal is to target Hamas tunnels that “enable terrorists to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks.”

“We are now continuing with the ground forces to strike terrorist infrastructure, Hamas infrastructure, in multiple areas throughout the Gaza Strip,” army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner told reporters.

“Following 10 days of Hamas attacks by land, air and sea, and after repeated rejections of offers to deescalate the situation, the Israel Defence Forces (army) has initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said in a statement, according to AFP.

The IDF also accused Hamas of using civilian deaths to paint Israel’s actions in a negative light.

“In the face of Hamas’ tactics to leverage civilian casualties in pursuit of its terrorist goals, the IDF will continue in its unprecedented efforts to limit civilian harm,” it said.

Hamas, meanwhile, said Israel’s move is “foolish” and will have “dreadful consequences.”

Speaking with CNN, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, “the beginning of the Israeli ground invasion of Gaza is a dangerous step with unknown consequences. Israel will pay a heavy price for it.”

Witnesses and Gaza residents reported heavy artillery and naval shelling along the Gaza border.

Israel’s latest ground operation comes after attempts to broker a cease-fire with Hamas failed to take hold. The last 10 days have seen both sides exchange rocket fire, resulting in the deaths of more than 220 Palestinians and one Israeli, with some attacks coming under intense scrutiny. Recently, four Palestinian children were killed by an Israeli airstrike while they were playing on a beach in Gaza.

Overall, Israel has struck more than 2,000 targets in Gaza, while Hamas has fired almost 1,500 rockets towards Israel.

Although both Israel and Hamas agreed to observe a brief suspension of hostilities following a request by the United Nations, reports indicated on Wednesday that Israel was considering sending boots on the ground in order to remove rockets and other weapons used by Hamas.

“The IDF’s objective as defined by the Israeli government is to establish a reality in which Israeli residents can live in safety and security without continued indiscriminate terror, while striking a significant blow to Hamas’s terror infrastructure,” the army said in its statement.

The last time Israel launched an extensive ground offensive in Gaza was back in January 2009, following an armed conflict that began the month prior in December. That offensive, known as Operation Cast Lead, began on January 3 and was tasked with a similar objective: to secure areas from which militants were launching rockets. The entire conflict – which ran from December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009 –resulted in the deaths of up to 1,417 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

ذيل الافعى الاخوانى ” مرتزقة حماس ” والخطه البديله لأتفاق الجاسوس محمد مرسى

العميل خالد مشعل ومرشد الجماعه الارهابيه محمد بديع

العميل خالد مشعل ومرشد الجماعه الارهابيه محمد بديع

الفعل ورد الفعل – بقلم خالد عبد العزيز

اراهن وبشده على رفض حماس للمبادره المصريه لوقف اطلاق النار والتى قبلتها الحكومه الاسرائيليه منذ ساعات قليله واراهن على استمرار حماس فى اطلاق الصواريخ على المدن الاسرائيليه وعلى اهداف استراتيجيه داخل الكيان الاسرائيلى .. فالهدف الحقيقى والغير معلن لهذا التنظيم الاخوانى الصهيونى العميل لا يزال فى مراحله الاولى

نعم لكل فعل رد فعل ولكن يعلم الحميع واولهم هؤلاء المرتزقه ان رد الفعل الاسرائيلى ابدا لا يتساوى فى المقدار وانما يتجاوزه بكثير

ولذلك بدأت خطة الافاعى ” بتعليمات من التنظيم الدولى للأخوان وباتفاق مع العميل التركى اردوغان و الشاذ تميم حاكم قطر” باستفزاز اسرائيل بخطف مرتزقه من حماس ” وبدون اى مبرر ” لثلاثه من المستوطين اليهود وقتلهم والقاء جثثهم ليتم العثور عليها وبالتالى يبدأ الانتقام الاسرائيلى الذى تعول عليه حماس لتنفيذ خطتها البديله للمخطط الذى تم الاتفاق عليه بينهم وبين الجاسوس المصرى القابع فى انتظار الاعدام محمد مرسى وبرعايه اميريكيه وتواطئ تركى قطرى لتوطين سكان قطاع غزه على جزء من ارض سيناء المصريه تمهيدا لتصفية القضيه الفلسطينيه وهو الامر الذى تم انشاء منظمة حماس من اجل تحقيقه تحت ستار مقاومة اسرائيل

ولزيادة رد الفعل الاسرائيلى قامت حماس باطلاق مئات من الصواريخ ” الفشنك ” على مدن اسرائيليه لم تصلها الصواريخ من قبل حتى وصلت الى مطار بن جوريون ومفاعل ديمونه النووى حتى تضمن حماس زيادة القصف الاسرائيلى على القطاع وزيادة الدم الفلسطينى المراق او الوصول الى مرحلة شن عمليه عسكريه بريه على القطاع  – ملحوظه – لم يصاب اسرائيلى بخدش واحد من جراء اطلاق هذه الفجر 5 والفجر 6 المزعومه

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القصف الاسرائيلي على غزة

7لا يهم اشلاء مئات الاطفال من ابناء فلسطين ولا الاف الجرحى ولا مئات المنازل ولا التدمير الشامل للبنيه الاساسيه للقطاع التى اقتطع العرب ثمن اقامتها من اقوات شعوبهم لمساعدة الاخوه الفلسطنين .. انما المهم هو تصفية القضية الفلسطينيه وتتفيذ الخطه البديله بالوصول الى الحد الاقصى للأستفزاز الاسرائيلى ثم افتعال ضغط على الحدود المصريه واقتحام معبر رفح المصرى بعدة الاف من مرتزقة حماس والاهالى والسيدات والاطفال المغرر بهم تحت سمع وبصر وسائل الاعلام الدوليه بحجة الهروب من القصف والحصار الاسرائيلى كما حدث عام 2008 حين قام مسلحو القسام بتفجير الجدار الحدودي بين رفح الفلسطينيه ورفح المصريه وفتح ثغرات كبيرة بداخله، فيما قامت جرافات فلسطينية بفتح باقي الجدار وإزاحة الأسلاك الشائكة وتسهيل مرور سكان قطاع غزه تحت اشراف حماس حيث انتقلت عائلات وأسر بكاملها من قطاع غزة إلى الأراضي المصرية

الهدف الاساسى من” جر شكل “اسرائيل هو محاولة اعادة هذا السيناريو ثم الاستغاثه بالامم المتحده والمنظمات الدوليه والولايات المتحده لفتح معسكرات ومخيمات للاجئين من قطاع غزه الى الاراضى المصريه وفرض سياسة الامر الواقع تمهيدا لأستيطان هذة الاعداد من الفلسطينين جزءا من ارض سيناء المصريه

لقد تعامل السيد الرئيس حسنى مبارك عام 2008 بكل حكمه مع تصرفات حماس الرعناء ولكن يختلف الامر الان حيث ان تكرار هذا السيناريو فى التوقيت الحالى يعتبر اكبر تهديد للأمن القومى المصرى وسيجابه من قبل القياده السياسيه والعسكريه بكل حسم

نناشد الاخوه فى قطاع غزه القيام بما يجب عليهم للقضاء على حركة ” المرتزقه الاسلاميه حماس ” واستئصال هذا الورم السرطانى الخبيث الذى يعمل جاهدا لتنفيذ المخطط الصهيواميركى لتصفية القضيه الفلسطينيه .. اما بالنسبه لمصر فخيانة ومؤامرات حماس على مصر وفلسطين ووجود هؤلاء العملاء واستمرار سيطرتهم على قطاع غزه هو تهديد سافر للحدود الشرقيه ينبغى التعامل الحازم معه بقطع ذيل الافعى الاخوانى الصهيونى والعمل على تحرير سكان قطاع غزه من الاحتلال الحمساوى قبل الاحتلال الاسرائيلى

Former Israeli PM Olmert sentenced to six years in jail for corruption

Israel's former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the Tel Aviv District Court in Israel, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.

Israel’s former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the Tel Aviv District Court in Israel, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Israel’s ex-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced to six years in jail on Tuesday for taking bribes in a massive real estate deal, a crime the judge said was akin to treason.

The first criminal conviction of a former Israeli head of government all but ended speculation that Olmert – a centrist credited internationally with working towards a peace settlement with the Palestinians – might return to political life.

He had denied any wrongdoing in the property deal that took place while he was in his previous post of Jerusalem mayor.

“A public servant who takes bribes is akin to a traitor,” said Judge David Rozen of the Tel Aviv District Court.

“(Olmert) is a criminal who devoted most of his time to praise-worthy public service. (But) he also lined his own pockets,” he said in passing sentence.

Rozen ordered Olmert to report to prison on September 1, effectively giving his lawyers time to lodge what they said would be an appeal to the Supreme Court and a request that he remain free until it rules.

Two years ago, the veteran politician was acquitted of most of the major charges brought against him in separate cases involving his links to a U.S. businessman.

Those corruption allegations forced Olmert’s resignation as prime minister in 2008, and his acquittal had appeared to position him for a possible political comeback.

But in the new corruption trial, Rozen found Olmert guilty on March 31 of two bribery charges and said he accepted 500,000 shekels ($144,000) from developers of the Holyland apartment building complex in Jerusalem and 60,000 shekels in a separate real estate project.

On Tuesday, the judge granted the prosecution’s request for a six-year jail term.

NETANYAHU CRITIC

Olmert has made several criticisms of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s policies toward the Palestinians, fuelling talk about his future political ambitions.

But in sentencing Olmert, the judge said his crimes entailed “moral turpitude”, which under Israeli law would preclude him from running for any public office for seven years after finishing his jail term.

A lawyer by profession, Olmert began his political career in the 1970s as a legislator who targeted organized crime in Israel.

He served as mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003 and as prime minister from 2006 to 2009, staying in office in a caretaker capacity until after an election that brought right-winger Netanyahu to power.

As prime minister, Olmert waged war against militants in Lebanon in 2006 and the Gaza Strip in 2008.

He claimed significant progress in talks with the Palestinians aimed at securing a final peace deal, offering an Israeli withdrawal from much of the occupied West Bank. But no agreement was reached.

After a three-year break, U.S.-brokered negotiations resumed in July, but they were frozen last month by Netanyahu after President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organization signed a reconciliation deal with Hamas, an Islamist group that advocates Israel’s destruction.

Palestinians blamed Netanyahu for the collapse, citing Israeli settlement-building and his failure to carry out a pledged prisoner release.

Olmert was among 13 defendants in the Holyland case, which revolved around the construction of a hulking, hilltop housing project widely regarded as Jerusalem’s worst eyesore.

Sentences handed down on Tuesday against six of the other accused ranged from three to seven years.

In 2010, a former Israeli president, Moshe Katsav, was convicted on rape charges. He is serving a seven-year sentence.

 

President George W. Bush exchanges handshakes ...

President George W. Bush exchanges handshakes with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel during their meeting Tuesday, May 23, 2006, in the Oval Office. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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