Saturday 3 January 2009 marked the eighth day of “Operation Cast Lead” and the first day of Israel’s ground offensive into Gaza. Infantry and armoured units have begun their operations and have completed dividing the Gaza Strip into three parts, isolating Gaza City from the rest of Gaza.
One report states:
‘So far the IDF forces have been deployed in fields on the edge of residential areas. Hamas resistance has been limited so far, with its forces avoiding directing confrontation with the soldiers. It seems that the tactics of Hamas are based on concentrating its forces in the densely residential forces where IDF unit are not operating.’ (see more)
Unfortunately, one soldier has already been killed. St-Sgt Dvir Emmanueloff z”l from the Golani unit was killed on Sunday by mortar shell shrapnel during clashes with Hamas terrorists near Jabalya. Several other soldiers have been injured.
IDF officials have said that the operation is having an effect on Hamas’ capabilities while, in the meantime, Hamas is trying to get out the message that it had abducted several soldiers. An IDF spokesman, Brig-Gen Avi Benayahu, stated,
“Hamas is spreading these rumours. This is part of their psychological war and it consumes energy to fight them.” Israel has also said that commanders have been ordered to take extra precautions to ensure their soldiers’ safety. (see more)
Throughout the conflict, I have been interested particularly in the different language that both sides have employed. For example, as ground troops entered Gaza, Defence Minister Ehud Barak stated, “We do not seek war but we will not abandon our citizens to the ongoing Hamas attacks.” (see more) On the other side, a Hamas spokesman said that Gaza will “become a graveyard” for Israeli soldiers. He continued, “Gaza will not be paved with flowers for you, it will be paved with fire and hell.” (see more)
The ground offensive has brought the conflict back to the front pages of both The Australian and The Age. The Australian is constantly updating the website and therefore many of the articles that appeared in this morning’s print edition are already old news. Please click here to see all of the latest news and check out the bar on the right for related news. For some interesting analysis please read ‘Close combat: conflict enters danger zone’ and ‘Israel’s warning to militants: don’t mess with us’. Please also read two Op-Ed’s from today’s edition, ‘Middle East bullies on a road to nowhere’ and ‘Sorry history behind today’s violent images’ by Colin Rubenstein. The latter provides a lot of background that is often missing from news reports. Finally, please read today’s editorial, ‘Hamas has the power to stop the shooting’. Should you wish to respond, send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Australian also has a poll going at the moment about whether Israel’s invasion of Gaza is justified. To vote, click here.
The Age also had many articles on the conflict today including ‘Israel tightens its grip’ and ‘With borders sealed, there’s nowhere to run from the shells’, both by Jason Koutsoukis and both appearing on the front page. Please also read ‘Gaza attack a monstrosity and failure of diplomacy: UN Chief’ and ‘Turnbull supports Israeli response’. The Age also made an attempt at balance by printing two viewpoints ‘Distraught children suffer the most’ by Eyad al-Sarraj and ‘Fighting to defend cherished ideals’ by Yossi Klein Halevi.
Not to be outdone by Michael Leunig, Bruce Petty (who brought us this cartoon back in June 2008) offered this cartoon in today’s Age today with Kevin Rudd in Australia with the title of ‘dispossession’ looking over at Israel labeled the same way, saying “If only the Israelis would say ‘sorry’.” There are so many things wrong with this cartoon that I one cannot even begin to think of where to start. Putting aside his land comparisons, what should the Israelis be sorry for? Should they be sorry for unilaterally disengaging from Gaza in 2005 therefore ending the “occupation”? Sorry for thinking that leaving behind some sort of infrastructure in Gaza in 2005 (which was subsequently destroyed) might assist the population? Perhaps what they really are sorry for is saying “enough and enough” and exercising their right to defend their citizens or should they be simply be sorry because they want their own Jewish state and want to live and breathe free air? In any event, should you wish to respond you can write to email@example.com.
Yesterday rallies in support of Israel’s actions and against were held in the city. I attended the peaceful rally in support of Israel on the steps of Parliament House, which was organised by Young Liberal and Young Labour students and supported by various Jewish organisations including the ZVC, AIJAC and AUJS. For a rundown of the rally, please read ‘Country must stand firmly behind Israel, rally hears’ from The Age.
On my way home I decided to stop past the anti-Israel rally and was actually rather shocked. I did not get too close but among the many flags, banners and placards I did see a few Hamas and Hezbollah flags. I thought to myself that I could understand a rally in support of the Palestinian population. Indeed, as the pro-Israel rally organiser, Byron Hodkinson of the Australian Liberal Student’s Federation, pointed out, his rally was pro-Palestinian and empathised with Palestinians in Gaza suffering under Hamas. What I cannot understand is people rallying in the streets of a democracy such as Australia marching under the symbols of proscribed terrorist organisations such as Hamas and with swastikas. Apparently, a small number of Jews felt comfortable to be part of this shameful event. To read more about the anti-Israel rally, click here.
To continue to keep yourself informed on the latest information please read ‘BICOM briefing: Gaza situation update’ and an update from MFA. Terrorism Info has also republished an article from early 2008 about Hamas’ military build up to give you an insight into just how heavily armed Hamas and how much weapon stockpiling has been doing. The fact that even after 10 days of fighting and extensive shelling of countless targets, Hamas is still firing rockets should be a big enough message to the world that they used the lull arrangement to completely rearm.
And now for a story that you most certainly will not read in The Age and possibly any other of our local newspapers please read ‘Hamas moves on Fatah collaborators’ from Jerusalem Post. Hamas has executed more than 35 men from rival organsation Fatah because they were suspected of collaborating with Israel. Additionally, at least 75 men were shot in the legs while others had their hands broken. The word is that Fatah wants to take over the Gaza Strip if Israel is successful in the removal of Hamas. According to a senior Fatah official, “Hamas is very nervous, because they feel that their end is nearing. They have been waging a brutal campaign against Fatah members in the Gaza Strip.” This real massacre obviously makes The Age so uncomfortable that neither it, nor its reporters or cartoonists Leunig and Petty want to know a thing about it.
For those interested in talkback radio, Waleed Ali is hosting the John Faine show this week on 774. Israel was discussed this morning and is bound to continue coming up over the week so if you are listening and are interested in calling up, phone 1300 222 774 and have some points ready to go.
I am out of the office until Monday 12 January 2009, but will continue to bring you updates.
Zionist Council of Victoria