For other liveblogging, see The Muqata.
The US backed the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, which involves truce talks on long-term border arrangements and an end to the “blockade” of Gaza. The US supports the proposal as long as the ceasefire will be “durable and sustainable,” and include the following three elements: a halt to rocket attacks from Gaza, the opening of border crossings into the territory and an end to smuggling into the area through tunnels from Egypt. Turkey and France have even offered to send monitors to Gaza. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he supports the proposal. Need I say more?
Meanwhile, Israeli leaders are to meet today to discuss expanding the ground offensive, given most of its aims have been met. While Hamas’ division and brigade commanders are hiding underground, the rocket manufacturing enterprise has been damaged and much of Hamas infrastructure has disappeared, the defense establishment still seeks to inflict a heavier blow on Hamas for the next few days, before moving to diplomacy.
This all comes after a day in which terrorists fired over 30 more rockets at Israel, and the IAF attacked over 40 targets (including a vehicle carrying an anti-aircraft missile launcher, 8 weapon smuggling tunnels, more than ten groups of gunmen, approx. 16 weapons-storage and weapons-production facilities, and approx. 5 rocket-launching spots).
In other news, Hamas executed 6 suspected collaborators with Israel (leading to widespread condemnation by “human rights” organizations and “peace activists”), France’s Channel 2 have once again shown their true colors, and an ex-aide of Saddam Hussein has gotten all Baghdad Bob on us
The 2008 Weblog Awards have commenced, and Israellycool is a finalist in the Best Middle East or Africa Blog category. If you feel this blog is deserving of that title, please click on the graphic and vote accordingly (you are allowed to vote once every 24 hours).
The blog of very anti-Israel Juan Cole is making a charge after he posted his feelings on the category being “dominated by Neocons” and cried foul play. So please make sure to vote if not just to stick it to him.
Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)
Thursday Jan 8th – for latest updates, see here.
12:35AM (Brian of London): The IDF Spokesperson Blog has released pictures of the kinds of booby traps the nice hiding cowards of Hamas have been leaving for the IDF. Fortunately most of these are being safely defused. Do you think Hamas would mind if Palestinian children played with these?
11:28PM: That’s it from me after this day on which we saw a greatly reduced number of rockets fired at Israel, more successful IDF strikes, and yet more humanitarian gestures from Israel (including one which was exploited by the terrorists).
On a personal note, this war is draining me, and I feel like I lost my blogging mojo over the course of the day.
As usual, Brian of London will continue with the updates tonight if anything major arises.
Please keep the brave soldiers and citizens of Israel in your prayers. And if you have appreciated my blogging and would like to contribute, please donate here:
And don’t forget to vote Israellycool for Best Middle East or Africa Blog over here (you are allowed to vote once every 24 hours). The anti-Israel blogger is way in the lead now, and it will take a huge effort to reel him back in.
11:15PM: Snapped Shot has a possible case of Fauxtography (I know, it sounds like a disease). He seems to be all over this, so be sure to check back with him.
11:00PM: I just watched former US Representative and the 2008 Green Party nominee for President of the United States, Cynthia McKinney, on Al Jazeera English TV News. She just minimized the phenomenon of palestinian arms smuggling, and even expressed understanding for the acquisition and use of these arms, talking of a “small” number of arms for the fight “against occupation” (paraphrased). I’ll try to chase down the video of this interview.
10:12PM: A senior aide to Hamas Prime Minister terrorist Ismail Haniyeh has told Ynet that they can secure a truce in 48 hours.
10:05PM: The Israeli Foreign Ministry has responded to Cardinal Sin’s Martino’s comparison of Gaza to a concentration camp (per 9:12PM update).
9:20PM: Today’s Roseanne Barr lunacy.
according to the right of return
of israel, I am a citizen of that country right now and have more of a right to live there than any of the palestinian people who have lived there for generations, because G-d gave the land to the jewish people. I say: My family name is David, and that, according to the bible, makes me of ROYAL Israeli lineage too…(David is the biblical King of Israel forever). I want what is biblically mine: Israeli citizenship and my rightful royal inheritance, which includes the temple and all the land around it.
roseanne david cohen borisofsky
Follow? Her family name is David, so therefore she is related to King David.
Following this “logic”, King David’s name was David David.
9:12PM: Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has said that the Gaza Strip is slowly becoming “a concentration camp”.
Besides the obvious inaccuracy of this statement, it is ironic that a Vatican official would say such a thing, given that during the Holocaust, they didn’t even call the actual concentration camps concentration camps.
9:02PM: Israel started bombing the smuggling tunnels after dropping the leaflets asking residents to leave, and giving them enough time to do so.
9:01PM: According to Israel’s Channel 2, Israeli intelligence is concerned about Katusha rocket attacks against Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
9:00PM: Hamas terrorists operating from within civilian areas come up against the IAF. Hilarity ensues.
8:50PM: In yet another blow to Israel’s genocide credentials, the IDF earlier dropped fliers on Rafah urging residents living nearby to vacate the area.
“Because Hamas uses your houses to hide and smuggle military weapons, the IDF will attack the area, between the Egyptian border until the beach road,” the leaflet said, according a local UN official.
8:13PM: Canadian pundit George Jonas (hat tip: John):
What news on the Rialto? Try a re-enactment of The Merchant of Venice. Shylock, played by Israel, vacated Gaza in favour of Antonio, a.k.a. the Palestinian Authority, for the surety of a pound of peace. To make room, Israel dragged Jewish settlers kicking and screaming from the land. Instead of peace, it got Hamas and its daily bombardment of rockets exploding among the civilian population.
When Shylock confronted Antonio demanding to collect his pound of peace, the Duke of Venice, going under the name of UN-EU these days, turned for advice to Portia, masquerading as Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France, leading a delegation of EU dignitaries.
“Is the Jew entitled to his pound of peace from the death-merchant Hamas?” the ducal UN-EU wanted to know.
“Well, it’s a valid contract,” Portia-as-Sarkozy replied. “Shylock is entitled to collect his pound of peace.”
“Oh, drat!” said the UN-EU “You sure? Double drat and boo!”
“Do not despair, though,” Portia-Sarkozy continued. “We’re not doctors of law for nothing. Shylock can collect his pound of peace, but the contract says nothing about blood. Sure, Israel is entitled to peace, but only if he can get it without shedding any blood.
“If he does, he’s a war criminal.”
“Oh learned judge,” said Hamas & Co., visibly relieved. “Oh, second Daniel!”
And there the matter stands. Israel’s “right to defend itself,” to which its Western critics are careful to pay lip service, hinges on Israel never actually doing so. The Jewish state is entitled to armed self-defence; it just cannot shed any blood. If it does, gotcha! Shylock drawing blood commits the capital offence of disproportionality.
President Sarkozy pushes for an immediate truce between Hamas and Israel. It’s hard to say if he does so in the mistaken belief that it would further the cause of peace, or in the accurate belief that it would rescue Hamas, one of the most implacable enemies of peace. If the latter, then the President of France, far from being a solution, is part of the problem.
It’s possible, of course, that Sarkozy doesn’t really want what he’s ostensibly pushing for. If so, he’s devious, which is pretty much what everyone expects a politician to be. Finally, since Sarkozy uses the phrase “truce as soon as possible,” he may mean “truce as soon as a reliable method of stopping Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israel has been found,” in which case he may even be right.
The minute the rocket fire stops for good, a truce does no harm — but until then, a truce only reduces the chances of any reasonable resolution to conflict in the region. This is so self-evident that it’s difficult to imagine anyone, let alone a skilled and gifted statesman, not seeing it — yet many haven’t grasped it in the last 60 years. Including some Israelis.
Those who want to wipe Israel off the map and don’t care who knows it, have hit upon a method of pursuing their goal with impunity. First, they harass and try to demoralize Israel with relentless, low-tech terror, such as rocket and mortar fire or suicide bombs aimed at civilians, taking advantage of the small geographic scale of the regional battlefield. Second, when Israel finally asserts itself, they erupt in wounded ululations of humanitarian concerns, causing the international community to force an armistice on Israel before it could defend itself.
Imagine muggers calling 911 to stop their victims from harming them when the mugging doesn’t go their way. Next, picture the police responding and doing exactly as the muggers demand. Voila, President Sarkozy and his bizarre push for a truce — and not just Sarkozy, but the rest of the Euro-gang, headed by Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. They flock to the region, ravens disguised as doves, the terminally naive and terminally cynical harbingers of faux-peace from angelic Europe, home continent of World Wars One and Two, to lecture Jewish victims of 60 years of relentless Arab/Islamic aggression about proportionality and humanitarian concerns.
Hamas and supporters are demonstrating the art of the brazen assault, a cultural specialty, whose sheer viciousness is matched by its impertinence. Step one: We hit you as hard as we can. Step two: If you dare hit us back as hard as you can, we’ll have the law on you.
Really? If you don’t want to be hit by Israel, it’s easy. Don’t hit it. The many people and places Israel never bombed or invaded have one thing in common: They never bombed or invaded Israel. The phenomenon is consistent enough to be reduced to a simple formula. For a good night’s uninterrupted sleep, avoid firing rockets into Israel the previous day.
7:53PM: Frank video from a young woman living in Sderot (hat tip: Shy Guy).
7:50PM: The IDF has attacked 40 targets today, including 4 terrorist cells and smuggling tunnels.
7:32PM: Today’s rocket tally stands at 14.
I left Pajamas Media a few years back – after the Second Lebanon War – after they preferred to go for the “gimmick” interview rather than utilize a PM member (that would be me) as a correspondent. Just saying.
5:50PM: Israel Channel 1 TV reports that the 3 long range rockets that hit Be’er Sheva at 4:28 PM (while I was in a meeting, so no update) were set up by Hamas during the 3 hour “Humanitarian” cease fire (Jameel).
Gee, I didn’t see that coming.
4:05PM: French President Sarkozy has said that Israel and the PA had accepted an Egyptian-French cease-fire plan for Gaza.
I did not take Israel’s statement as an acceptance of the plan, but rather openness to discussing it. Not only that, but the PA‘s acceptance really means diddly squat since it is Hamas firing rockets into Israel.
Yeah, about Hamas:
Osama Hamdan, a Hamas representative in Lebanon, said that the Egyptian-French Gaza Strip ceasefire initiative is unacceptable and that new ideas should be discussed.
Hamdan said, “There is no need to get excited over the Israeli agreement that was published. Israel’s objective is to gain time in order to continue its attack.”
3:46PM: The Anti-Israel Juan Cole is pulling away in the Weblog Awards, but not before removing the evidence of his “Weblog-Awards-rigged-by-Neocons” conspiracy theory. Vote for Israellycool here (once a day)!
3:35PM: The Prime Minister’s office has issued a statement saying that we are ready to discuss recent offers made by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Israeli officials will be going to Cairo within the next few days to discuss the proposal with Egyptian leaders.
3:15PM: Occasional Israellycool contributor Elder of Ziyon has posted a good analysis of the UNRWA school strike.
The AP reported immediately after the explosions:
Two residents of the area who spoke by telephone said they saw a small group of militants firing mortar rounds from a street near the school, the Associated Press reported. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, the AP said. The residents said the two brothers were known to be low-level Hamas militants. They said a group of militants – one of them said four – were firing mortar shells from near the school.
The IDF says that “The information that we have is that there was the launching of a mortar from the school’s yard towards one of our forces. Our forces retaliated but it turned out that the school was booby trapped and as a result of our retaliation, everything flared up. There were a lot of secondary explosions from which probably those people were wounded.”
From the pictures of the school that have been published, and from statements, it does not appear that anyone is claiming that mortars were being shot from within the school nor that Israel shot back into the school building. And Ging is clearly lying when he says that no weapons are allowed into UNRWA schools, as the IDF showed video of mortars being shot from that same school in 2007. In addition, in at least one case a UNRWA teacher was also an Islamic Jihad terrorist. And it is hard to take seriously that idea that the UNRWA can stop heavily armed terrorists from doing whatever they want at their schools anyway, especially when the agency will never criticize Hamas; and most of its employees are Palestinian Arabs who know that they would be killed if they do anything against the wishes of Hamas. Beyond that, Hamas has shown that it uses schools to store weapons, as the IDF showed yet again yesterday.
At this time my guess is that the mortars were shot from either very close to the school or within the school compound, Israel automatically returned fire to that same spot, and some of that shrapnel caused secondary explosions from bombs or weapons that were inside the school compound, although I am not sure about the booby traps. The death total seems way too high for tank shells alone. Obviously the residents of Gaza are too afraid to give evidence that would implicate Hamas and similarly photographers are afraid to take pictures that would show any clear terrorist activity in the school or outside it. (Hamas has already shown no compunction about brutally murdering “collaborators” in the fog of war, that are in all likelihood being counted as deaths from the IDF.)
Professor Barry Rubin uses the same AP article to add another point in an email I received from him:
The AP reports, if you read down far enough to paragraph seven:
Two residents of the area who spoke with The Associated Press by telephone said they saw a small group of militants firing mortar rounds from a street near the school, where 350 people had gathered to get away from the shelling. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
But this seems strange since the shelling only happened at the end and they would have had to be in front of the building to have needed to run in to take refuge. This makes the second account below seem more credible–what were they doing outside near a building just by the front line? And why children without their parents. Answer: they were called there to help Hamas in the fighting, not realizing their lives were being put at risk:
Note that the NY Times has covered the school incident properly and should be praised for doing so. However the article doesn’t focus on the key point: not that the witness saw the Hamas leader near the school but his other remark: why were the young people there? They were called–told at least–to help fortify the building to protect the Hamas people. But they didn’t know they were actually being used as human shields. In other words, Hamas risked their lives, didn’t tell them they were being put at risk, and then used them as propaganda.
2:35PM: She can say what she wants about George Bush. At least he has teeth.
2:25PM: Today’s rocket tally is 11.
1:48PM: The Free Gaza terror supporters are putting Israel on notice that they are coming to disrupt our military operation.
ISRAEL ON NOTICE, WE ARE COMING
There is a time when silence is complicity and inaction is unacceptable. The ongoing Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip have lead to the death of over 550 Palestinians, including children and women (including mostly terrorists – ed), and the injury of thousands, with the death and injury toll rapidly rising. Massive violations of international humanitarian law are being committed by Israel, both with regard to its obligations as an Occupying Power and in its conduct of hostilities.
The community of states has thus far failed to comply with their duty to ensure Israel’s respect for the Fourth Geneva Convention and protect the Palestinian civilian population from Israel’s serious and persistent violations in accordance with the Convention. Consequently, we, concerned citizens from Belgium, Columbia, France, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Jordan, Kuwait, Scotland, Spain, and the United States feel that it is our moral duty to do what we can to provide some measure of protection. We are willing to put our bodies on the line to get in the way of Israel’s unlawful violence against innocent Palestinian civilians.
In the early hours of Tuesday, December 30, the Israeli Navy violently attacked our motor vessel DIGNITY, which was loaded with medical supplies and carried amongst others, doctors headed to Gaza to assist with the humanitarian crisis there. Neither the ship, nor its passengers and crew constituted any kind of danger to the Israeli Naval Forces. Yet our boat was rammed again and again, in an apparent attempt to disable the vessel, and in a manner that jeopardized the lives of the 16 civilians on board (still waiting for that forensic report proving this claim – ed)
We will not be deterred by the violence of the Israeli military. We will set out again for Gaza. We are doctors, journalists, members of parliament, and human rights observers trying to reach the people of Gaza to deliver much needed aid and witness the atrocities being committed again the Palestinians there.
Israel is hereby put on notice that we are coming. We will announce our exact departure date, time and route, traveling from Cypriot waters, into international waters, directly into Gaza territorial waters, never nearing Israeli waters. The Israeli Navy, Ministry of Defense, and Foreign Ministry will all receive a copy of this notice. Any attack on our vessel will be premeditated and any harm inflicted on the 30 civilians on board will be the result of a deliberate attack on unarmed civilians.
1:03PM: Actually, what I think I really meant in that last update was it will allow Hamas to do launch. What’s the bet they will exploit this humanitarian gesture and use it to fire rockets into Israel?
1:00PM Israel plans to halt military operations every day from 1 pm to 4pm to enable aid to flow through a humanitarian corridor it is setting up in Gaza.
Hamas are reportedly pleased because it will allow them to do lunch.
12:45PM: UNRWA’s Christopher Gunness has stated that UNRWA is “99.9% sure” that the school was not being used by Hamas to fire mortars. I assume the 0.01% doubt is on account of the fact that terrorists have used UNRWA schools to fire mortars at Israel before, and that UNRWA hires terrorists to teach in the schools.
In any event, if Israel has any proof of the terrorist involvement, whether it be footage or photographs of the terrorist bodies found inside, now yesterday would be a good time to produce it.
12:38PM: The anti-Israel Juan Cole has overtaken Israellycool in the Weblog Awards. Vote now (once every 24 hours) and spread the word.
10:55AM: IDF Israeli ground forces are currently battling with palestinian gunmen throughout Gaza.
10:50AM: Earlier this hour, 2 Grad rockets hit Ashkelon, sending some people into shock.
10:30AM: Israellycool reader Ken has uploaded videos from a pro-Israel rally at the Israeli embassy in DC earlier this week. You can find all the videos here, including this one of a former slave from southern Sudan who is now a Christian resident of Israel.
9:52AM: The Israeli Cabinet meeting on broadening the operation in Gaza has begun.
9:00AM: The IDF has hit approximately 1000 targets since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead 12 days ago.