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Update – 3 March 2008

Dear Advocates,

Israel’s latest actions in Gaza, named “Operation Hot Winter”, is now finished, with Israeli troops leaving Gaza. It would be an understatement to say that the situation drew a great deal of media attention in recent days.

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement entitled Security Council, Secretary-General alarmed by deadly violence in Middle East condemning both sides for the violence.

The statement referred to both sides: Ban condemned and urged an end to the Palestinian rocket attacks, which he noted ‘served no purpose, endangered Israeli civilians, and bring misery to the Palestinian people’.” He went even further by describing the actions of Hamas and other groups involved in the firing of rockets as “terrorism”.

“The Secretary-General condemns rocket fire against Israel by Hamas, which intensified today and killed an Israeli civilian in Sderot. He calls on Hamas and other militant groups to cease such acts of terrorism.”

“The Secretary-General also said that while Israel has a right to defend itself, ‘I condemn the disproportionate and excessive use of force that has killed and injured so many civilians, including children. I call on Israel to cease such attacks. Israel must fully comply with international humanitarian law and exercise the utmost restraint. Incidents in which civilians have been killed or injured must be investigated and accountability must be ensured’.’

Our two broadsheet newspapers dealt with the situation quite differently. The Australianreported both aspects of the statement in an article entitled ‘Israel vows to maintain assault’, while Ed O’Loughlin in The Age, concentrated on the condemnation of Israel, ‘Israel hits back, threatens more’. O’Loughlin did acknowledge that some rocket fire for the first time “struck the centre of the coastal city of Ashkelon, greatly increasing the number of Israel civilians now at risk from Gaza-based militants”, but for some reason one senses that this still doesn’t seem reason enough in his eyes to justify Israel’s defence of its citizens.

In an Israeli statement to the emergency meeting of the Security Council, Israeli Ambassador Dan Carmon called for restraint with a well-reasoned response regarding Israel’s responsibility to her citizens, as well pointing out the dramatic escalation of Hamas violence since last week’s demonstration in Gaza.

To read more about Israel’s long term goals, please read this article from JPost entitled IDF aims to ‘topple Hamas regime’.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has put together a body of information regarding Hamas terrorist attacks on Southern Israel which is an excellent resource. Click here for more information. Additionally, click here for some Key Messages also from MFA. The MFA has also posted an article entitled ‘The Hamas’ true message to Israel: we want you dead’, which talks about messages to Israel that were posted on the Hamas website on the same day as their protest on the border. The postings send the warning in English and in Hebrew that “death is coming”.

I came across two other stories in the media today – the first of which you are unlikely to ever read about in our local media, and the second of which I was very surprised to see – even in The Australian.

The first is an article from JPost entitled ‘MDA treats victims on both sides’, which talks about the “surreal job” that Magen David Adom personnel currently have – “treating Israeli victims of Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza and facilitating the transfer of Gazan patients to Israeli hospitals for treatment”.

The second appeared in The Australian online by Martin Chulov, entitled ‘Toll rising as Hamas faces military fury’, where he aims to give some background on how the situation began and evolved. Worthy of highlighting is the following paragraphs: “Fighting appeared to be centred on the Jabaliya refugee camp, a maze of narrow laneways and prefabricated concrete homes from where Hamas and other Gaza militant factions were yesterday still managing to launch rockets and snipe at Israeli forces to the east.

“From inside Jabaliya, Palestinian media reported several instances of clashes between locals and Hamas militants who were attempting to set up rocket-firing sights. Some locals have reportedly been shot by Hamas, and others arrested for attempting to drive them out of their neighbourhoods, but it was difficult to gauge whether a groundswell of resistance was building against the group.”

This highlights possibly even more discontent from people who longer want to be used in the frontline by Hamas terrorists.

In other news, the last few days media from around the world have had a field day reporting that Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai threatened that the Gazans faced a “bigger holocaust” from Israeli armed forces (such as this article from the Telegraph entitled ‘Israeli minister vows “holocaust’). Tom Gross explains how Reuters mistranslated Vilnai in his article entitled ‘Reuters mistake triggers Israel “Holocaust” libel’. The differences between “shoah” (meaning disaster) and “HaShoah” (meaning The Holocaust in Hebrew) might be subtle, but they are very important. While some news outlets chose to amend their reports following this discovery, others simply ignored it, a refusal which is quite telling about those who were so quick to broadcast the mistranslation in the first place.

Israel’s peace partner Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas got in the act as well accusing Israel of “international terrorism” and saying its assault on Gaza constitutes “more than a holocaust“.

The discussion can be summed up by understanding that no sensible person could ever regard the events in Gaza as equivalent to that which occurred in The Shoah. Despite Hamas and Abbas, despite Reuters and those who followed up on its awful mistranslation, this disgraceful attempt at immoral equivalence is nothing more than pure evil and an insult to the Jewish people and to the memory of those who perished in The Shoah.

Some more Key Messages and Press Releases will be circulated in the next few days.

Best wishes,

Emily Chrapot
Research Officer
State Zionist Council of Victoria
9272 5507
www.szcvic.org
www.szcsolidarityrally.blogspot.com

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