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US okays large Gaza op

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    Lebanese paper: US okays large Gaza op By REBECCA ANNA STOIL AND JERUSALEM POST STAFF Nov 3, 2007
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 4, 2007
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      Lebanese paper: US okays large Gaza op
      By REBECCA ANNA STOIL AND JERUSALEM POST STAFF
      Nov 3, 2007
      http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1192380723804&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull


      More than a dozen mortar shells were fired at western Negev
      communities during Shabbat, while a Lebanese newspaper reported that
      Israel has been given a diplomatic "green light" for a large military
      operation in the Gaza Strip.

      A Palestinian man looks through a hole in a building following an IAF
      strike in Gaza City.
      Photo: AP [file] , AP

      No damage was reported from the strikes, even though three of the 13
      shells struck towns or villages.

      The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported Saturday morning that
      "credible diplomatic sources" had said American approval for a broad
      operation in Gaza had come after Israeli intelligence impressed on US
      officials the importance of such an incursion as an answer to the
      unprecedented level of arms smuggling to Gaza from Sinai.

      IDF combat engineers and infantrymen from the Golani Brigade have been
      operating on the Gaza-Egyptian border since last week to locate and
      destroy the tunnels used by weapons smugglers.

      Tunnels were found as close as two kilometers from the border with
      Israel and were destroyed in controlled explosions. IDF sources said
      they were most probably used by terrorists to leave Gaza on their way
      to Iran or Syria for training.

      According to the newspaper report, the Israeli intelligence was shared
      during Defense Minister Ehud Barak's last visit to Washington. Sources
      told Al-Akhbar the reports painted a worrying picture of an "arms
      race" between Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Israel also presented details
      of money transfers between Islamic Jihad and Fatah's Aksa Martyrs
      Brigades.

      Over the past few days, Barak has met a number of times with Prime
      Minister Ehud Olmert to definitively fix the timing of a wide-scale
      military operation, Al-Akhbar cited the sources as saying. The sources
      added that despite the "green light," Israel was hesitant to launch an
      operation out of concern that it would complicate preparations for the
      upcoming US-sponsored Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland.

      Meanwhile, IDF units on the Gaza border will continue training for a
      massive operation in the Strip, the report said.

      Following four Gazan rocket attacks on Friday, a Hamas member was
      killed and three others were wounded in an IAF strike on a Hamas
      outpost in response to mortar fire on southern Israel. The army said
      it struck the Hamas position following repeated rocket and mortar fire
      from Gaza.

      Hamas confirmed that one of its men was killed in the attack near the
      former settlement of Morag in southern Gaza.

      In the West Bank overnight Friday, a bomb was detonated near IDF
      forces and, in a separate incident, shots were fired at soldiers in
      Tulkarm. None of the soldiers were wounded.

      ===

      Israel's Gaza fuel cuts alarm UN


      Israel insists supplies to Gaza's power station will continue
      Israeli energy sanctions against the Hamas-run Gaza Strip punish an
      entire population and are unacceptable, UN Secretary General Ban
      Ki-moon has said.
      The EU also voiced concern after Israel began reducing petrol and
      diesel supplies in response to militant rocket attacks on its territory.

      Hamas seized control of the Strip in June from its Palestinian rivals
      Fatah.

      Israel's attorney-general is seeking a halt to electricity cuts
      pending an assessment of their likely impact.

      Gaza relies on Israel for almost all its fuel and petrol, and more
      than half of its electricity.

      Israel says fuel cuts of up to 15% are a non-violent way of increasing
      pressure on Hamas.

      It insists there will be enough power for hospitals and that supplies
      will continue to Gaza's sole power station.

      'Humanitarian distress'

      In a statement read out by a spokesperson, Mr Ban urged Palestinian
      militants to end indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel, which he
      condemned.

      ISRAEL'S PROPOSED SANCTIONS

      Gaza relies on Israel for almost all its fuel and more than half of
      its electricity
      Cuts of up to 15% in petrol and 10% in diesel
      Targeted electricity outages of at least 15 minutes in response to
      each new rocket attack
      Supplies of crude diesel to Gaza's power plant not due to be affected
      Source: Israeli officials

      But he also stated his belief that the "punitive measures taken by
      Israel... harm the well-being of the entire population of the Gaza Strip".

      The cuts would, he said, "deepen the humanitarian distress" of Gaza's
      1.4m residents.

      Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU commissioner for external relations, said
      on a visit to Jerusalem she was "very concerned" about the Israeli
      move though she understood Israel's "distress" over rocket attacks.

      "I think collective punishment is never a solution," she said.

      As part of its sanctions, Israel envisages shutting down one of its
      power lines to Gaza for 15 minutes after a rocket attack, with the
      cut-off period gradually increasing to a two-hour limit if barrages
      continue.

      Attorney-General Menahem Mazouz said cuts in electricity supplies
      could not be allowed before a full assessment of the possible
      humanitarian consequences.

      Mr Mazouz, who is also the government's legal adviser, called on
      security chiefs to carry out "supplementary examinations".

      However, the justice ministry statement confirmed that the
      attorney-general had approved the decision to make fuel cuts.

      Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups have filed a petition at
      the Israeli Supreme Court in an attempt to halt the cuts.

      'A real crime'

      BBC producer Rushdi Abu Alouf in Gaza says that cuts in supply are not
      being felt by Gazans yet.

      The cuts have been condemned by Hamas, which governs the territory,
      and a number of international organisations.

      "The Israeli decision is a real crime against 1.5 million Palestinians
      in Gaza," said Hamas spokesman Taher Nouno.

      Rockets are fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza into Israel on an
      almost daily basis. Israel withdrew all its settlements from Gaza in 2005.

      Palestinian militants say they are responding to continued Israeli
      aggression in Gaza and the West Bank.

      ===

      Human Rights Organizations Petition Supreme Court Demanding an
      Injunction against Israeli Government to Prevent Disruption to Supply
      of Electricity and Fuel to Gaza
      28 October 2007

      Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel * Gisha -
      Legal Center for Freedom of Movement * HaMoked: Center for the Defence
      of the Individual * Physicians for Human Rights-Israel * The
      Palestinian Centre for Human Rights * The Public Committee Against
      Torture in Israel * Gaza Community Mental Health Programme * B'Tselem
      – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied
      Territories * Al-Haq * Al Mezan Center for Human Rights


      The Government Openly Decides, Apparently for the First Time, to
      Impose Collective Punishment on 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza
      Strip; Petitioners: The Decision is Illegal and will Damage the
      Health, Safety and Welfare of the Population of Gaza

      Ten Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations, in cooperation
      with the deputy director of a water company for towns along the coast
      of Gaza and a farmer from Beit Hanoun, petitioned the Supreme Court of
      Israel on 28 October 2007. The petitioners demanded the immediate
      issuance of an injunction against the Minister of Public Security and
      the Prime Minister to prevent them from disrupting the supply of
      electricity and fuel to the Gaza Strip. The petitioners argued that
      the government's recent decision to interrupt electricity and fuel
      supplies to the Gaza Strip is illegal, and if implemented, would
      endanger innocent civilians. Following the filing of the petition, the
      Supreme Court ordered the state to file its response to the petition
      within five days.

      The petitioners argued that, contrary to the government's claims that
      the population of Gaza will be only slightly harmed, the
      implementation of this decision could cause widespread humanitarian
      damage. It is likely to endanger the functioning of hospitals and
      sewage and water services, and will interrupt the operation of medical
      equipment as well as vital household electrical equipment such as
      refrigerators, including those needed to refrigerate essential medical
      supplies. "The damage that will be inflicted by the disrupting of
      electricity and fuel supplies cannot be controlled, nor can its
      consequences. Deliberately obstructing the civilian infrastructure in
      the Gaza Strip is illegal. International law does not allow "minor"
      damage: It bans collective punishment entirely," argued the petitioners.

      The petitioners emphasized the dependency of Palestinians in the Gaza
      Strip on Israel for their electricity and fuel needs. "The state's
      claim that the population of Gaza should provide electricity for
      themselves is astonishing. In the decades of Israel's direct control
      of Gaza, it permitted the establishment of an electricity network with
      an extremely limited capacity (which can provide Gaza with just 38% of
      the electricity that its population needs). After implementing the
      'disengagement' from Gaza, Israel bombed the local power plant … this
      behavior imposes duties on Israel towards the population of the Gaza
      Strip in general, and in the field of electricity supply in particular."

      The human rights organizations demanded that the Supreme Court issue
      an immediate injunction to freeze the aforementioned governmental
      decision pending an examination of the petition. A number of media
      reports indicated Israel's intention to implement this decision as
      early as today.

      ===

      Missing women of Gaza
      By Khalil Al Assali, Correspondent
      September 14, 2007
      http://www.gulfnews.com/region/Middle_East/10153687.html


      Occupied Jerusalem: The coordinator of the Forum of National
      Institutions of Violence Opposition Against Women, Ahila Shomor was
      surprised and shocked when she examined the recent statistics on the
      number of women killed in the Palestinian territories in general and
      in the Gaza Strip in particular.

      "There is a sharp increase in the number of murdered women in the Gaza
      Strip in particular. There are also unsolved murder crimes which are
      kept a secret between families," Shomor told Gulf News.

      Cemetery

      "During August, six women were killed and that is a very high number
      with regards to the Palestinian society. Al Mizan Centre for Human
      Rights in the Gaza Strip revealed, from its latest statistics, that 12
      women were killed anonymously, 30 women were victims of domestic
      violence and 72 received various injuries all in the space of one
      year," added Shomor.

      The last victims were three women who were killed and buried in pits
      in a cemetery in the Gaza Strip. Had there been no witnesses, nobody
      would have known about these women. Al Mizan Centre for Human Rights
      in the Gaza Strip strongly condemned the surge in crimes, the mystery
      that surrounds these crimes and the absence of serious investigations
      to identify the criminals and bring them to court.

      Shomor attributes the disturbing increase in the number of violence to
      many reasons; the most important being the unstable political
      situation that the Palestinian people live in, as well as the Israeli
      occupation and the security chaos. During crisis and war, women and
      children often pay the price.

      Shomor emphasised the importance of imposing laws which are completely
      absent in the Palestinian territories whether in the Gaza Strip or the
      West Bank. There is a law that punishes those criminals but is not
      applied and the criminals continue to lead normal lives as though
      nothing had happened and as if they had not taken an innocent person's
      life away.

      Absence of law

      As for the Human Rights Organisations, the situation in the
      Palestinian territories is worsening due to the absence of the law and
      that is what Shomor confirmed when she said: "We have gone back
      several years and the best example pointing to that is the return of
      the tribalism phenomenon that replaces law."

      In this atmosphere, law is no longer prescribed and citizens no longer
      trust the media. In the present, many women have been killed without a
      chance to defend themselves and the problem remains unsolved.

      ===

      Military Communiqué issued by

      The Miltary Information Department of

      The Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades,

      The armed wing of

      The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

      On the Sixth Anniversary of the Martyrdom of the General Secretary,
      leader and comrade Abu Ali Mustafa:

      Erez Area bombarded with two Sumoud-type Rockets.

      On the occasion of the sixth anniversary of the assassination of the
      General Secretary, Comrade Abu Ali Mustafa, the Martyr Abu Ali
      Mustafa Brigades announce that they bombarded the Erez area with two
      rockets of the Sumoud type today, Sunday, 26 August 2007 at
      precisely 1:30 p.m.

      This operation serves to commemorate our General Secretary and
      demonstrates that we are continuing along the path of resistance,
      which he chose and for which he gave his life, refusing to bargain
      over principles and fundamentals.

      We pledge to you, our leader and teacher Abu Ali that we will uphold
      the trust and never release the hangman's noose from the neck of the
      enemy!

      Glory and eternal memory to you Comrade Abu Ali and to all the
      martyrs!

      Rapid healing to all the heroic wounded and freedom to our
      courageous prisoners!

      Victory to the resistance!

      We will surely win!

      Military Information Department

      The Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades

      Sunday, 26 August 2007.

      ----------------------------------------------------------

      Military Communiqué issued by

      The Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades and the al-Aqsa Palestine
      Martyrs Brigades.

      On the Sixth Anniversary of the Martyrdom of the General Secretary,
      leader and comrade Abu Ali Mustafa:

      Bombardment of the City of Askalan with two rockets and the Zionist
      Siderot settlement with one rocket.

      On the occasion of the sixth anniversary of the assassination of the
      General Secretary, Comrade Abu Ali Mustafa, the Martyr Abu Ali
      Mustafa Brigades and the al-Aqsa Palestine Martyrs Brigades announce
      their joint responsibility for bombarding the city of Askalan with
      two rockets today at 1 p.m. and for bombarding the Siderot
      settlement with a rocket midday today, Sunday, 26 August at
      precisely 1:35 p.m.

      This operation serves to commemorate our General Secretary and as a
      declaration that there is no option but the option of resistance.
      We will continue to strike the enemy's positions, firing bullets at
      their heads because our enemy knows no language higher than the
      language of force.

      Glory and eternal memory to you Comrade Abu Ali and to all the
      martyrs!

      Rapid healing to all the heroic wounded and freedom to our
      courageous prisoners!

      Victory to the resistance!

      We will surely win!

      The al-Aqsa Palestine Martyrs Brigades. The Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa
      Brigades

      Sunday, 26 August 2007.

      [Translator's note, the city of Askalan in occupied Palestine is
      called by the Zionists "Ashkelon."]

      ===

      Dozens of Palestinians sift through rubbish tips to survive
      The Electronic Intifada
      Oct 1, 2007


      PSAGOT, WEST BANK, 30 September (IRIN) - For some West
      Bank Palestinians rubbish has become not only a
      livelihood but the only method of survival they know.
      Many dozens of Palestinians across the territory,
      including children, work at landfill sites, trying to
      earn a meager living.

      "This is very hard work here. My hands are all cut up,
      it smells. But what can I do? There's no work in
      Ramallah," said Muhammad, from al-Bireh, a nearby
      town.

      Aged 43, he has worked for the last 30 years -- apart
      from a stint in jail -- in the Psagot landfill site,
      sifting through the rubbish in search of scrap metal.

      Muhammed, like the other 40 or so workers, including
      20 children, is not officially employed by anyone, but
      he sells what he can to dealers he knows.

      Another man, Akram, aged 32, drives the tractor which
      takes the scrap away to the dealers. He, like the
      others, works at the site from early morning until
      dusk.

      "I was a regular truck driver. But then I lost my job.
      This was the only work I could find, working with the
      rubbish," he told IRIN as he revved his engine to cart
      away an industrial fan and leftover beams from a
      building project.

      Child labor, illiteracy

      Two children, happy with their luck, found the fan,
      which came on a newly arrived dump truck, and dragged
      it over to Akram.

      "None of the children here can write. They can't read.
      They never spent any time at school," said Muhammad.

      Shadi, who first claimed he was 16 and then said he
      was 12, became enraged at Muhammad's accusation.

      "I can write," he screamed, and began to sketch his
      name, in Arabic, in the sand. However, it soon became
      clear this was the only word he knew and he could not
      recognize individual characters. The other children
      did not even try.

      When asked why he did not attend school, Shadi said:
      "My father is sick. I have a big family and someone
      needs to support them. I left school after one year to
      work here."

      Legal issues

      The Psagot site is named after the nearby Israeli
      settlement on the outskirts of Ramallah. Mostly, the
      landfill is used by Israeli trucks bringing in refuse
      from settlements or towns inside Israel.

      "There is much more garbage from Israel than from the
      Palestinians. Much, much more," said Muhammad.

      Health threats

      Vultures glide overhead, waiting to grab whatever the
      workers do not.

      In the summer, the heat bakes the garbage, sending a
      vile smell through the air, which sticks to the
      workers. While some have families, others realize
      their line of work may not help their personal lives.

      "I don't think I will get married," said Ahmed, aged
      20. He said the smell never comes off.

      In the winter, the workers fight the cold, rain, wind
      and frost to carry out their work. This is
      particularly hard since the metals they collect get
      very cold. A few live in shacks on the site, as they
      have nowhere else to go.

      Besides the elements, the workers face other dangers.

      "The children suffer greatly," said Ahmed Qunnam, a
      public health expert and medical doctor, who
      volunteers with the Palestine Red Crescent Society.
      "Psychologically speaking, they have no normal social
      system. Also, they don't eat right and they don't
      develop properly. They work all day, overexerting
      themselves. And the sites are extremely unhygienic."

      At the Psagot site, for example, the workers found a
      can of olives. It was immediately opened and devoured,
      although the expiry date had long passed and the hands
      used to eat were the same ones used to sift the
      rubbish.

      "This whole thing, it just ruins them for later in
      life. They are losing their childhood," said Qunnam.
      "It is easy for them to get into drugs."

      The workers also face threats from other people's drug
      use. While sifting through the rubbish, it is not
      uncommon to find syringes. "They can get HIV or
      hepatitis," Qunnam said.

      He thinks the Palestinian Authority (PA) must do more
      for the children, but said it is hard for the PA to
      exert control over Area C -- where the sites are --
      which remained under Israeli security control,
      according to the Oslo accords.

      Ibrahim Atieh, from the Palestinian Ministry of
      Health, said the number of children at the landfills
      was proportionately much smaller than in neighboring
      countries. "But, this is a very difficult, painful
      issue. Who knows what diseases they can get," he told
      IRIN.

      "There is no PA [Palestinian Authority] program to
      stop this phenomenon right now, but maybe in the
      future," he said.

      This item comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian
      news and information service, but may not necessarily
      reflect the views of the United Nations or its
      agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or
      reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the copyright page
      for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN
      Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

      *********************************************************************

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